Today at 7:55 AM
December 8, 2014
Claude’s Commentary No. 41
By Claude Hall
I’m over the hill and, according to my son Andy Hall, the poet/professor, so is Britney Spears and Madonna. Taylor Swift is now the biggest thing in America and, I guess, the outskirts of Liverpool as well.
When you’re over the hill, you don’t know who’s hot. Andy, noted songwriter of the underground hit “Sea of Vomit,” knows. Just a day ago, he fetched home a copy of the Nov. 17, 2014 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Who’s almost on the cover but Taylor Swift. Just the eyes, nose, very large, and mouth, very red. To wit, we still don’t know what she looks like, but must presume she’s not a figment of our imagination such as Lady Gaga who I wouldn’t recognize if she walked in the front door. But, then, neither would anyone else I assume.
The article in the magazine is “Me?” by Devin Leonard and it’s very well written. Matter of fact, I like the entire magazine and if I were still around this is a magazine for which I would enjoy working.
I wasn’t really so much interested in Swift’s four homes (why would she want to live on Long Island?) or even the fact that the boss of Big Machine Records, Scott Borchetta, and Swift have pulled her songs from Spotify, which is really what the article is about. I found it fascinating, however, that Scott is the son of Mike. Everyone remembers Mike. I hope that Scott has bought him a house in, if not Nashville, then Los Angeles. A huge house. And if Scott is driving a Ferrari, then I hope Mike is driving a Mercedes-Benz. Hey, if they’re going to hit you up $3,086 for a second-row seat Aug. 25, 2015, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Scott should be able to buy his father a Mercedes. And comp him on the ticket. But, to tell the truth, if I accidentally landed a ticket, I’d trade it in on a cruise for me and Barbara.
Good article. Fun to see what I’m missing. Hey, I once shot the bull with Tex Ritter down in Nashville. Guess the town has changed a bit, though. Now I’ve got to track down Swift on Utube and see what she’s about. I heard Swift. Bring back Tex!
Larry Cohen: “Claude: In your No. 30m2 issue received today, 12-1-14, your closing paragraph of LEST WE FORGET, the name of Dean Tyler quickly caught my immediate attention which was listed amongst the group of past radio greats who have passed on. Having a long time friendship of some 50 years with this iconic radio guru, I thought maybe I had gone through a 'senior moment' and with my cell phone (still) misplaced, I thought it was quite possible that I was informed but never picked up the message(s). I just called Tom Kennedy in Penna. who still stays in close contact with Dean & I asked if Dean had passed away. Tom told me he had dinner with Dean last night (Sunday) & from all indications, it appeared to Tom that Dean is still amongst the living as of Sunday evening. Claude, can you make a correction validating Dean's mortality so that he will receive Christmas cards instead of sympathy cards to his family.”
This, I’m glad to hear! Always liked Dean Tyler. Great radio man! Friendly as a puppy. Somewhere, I have a photo of me, Dean Tyler, Dick Carr, and John Kluge, the founder and owner of Metromedia. I do not know where nor when the picture was taken. Probably Philadelphia, probably mid-to-late 60s. I’m grateful to have the photo.
Morris Diamond: “Many thanks for your good wishes for Alice. She's coming along fine and her therapy is working nicely … she's even driving. I was delighted to see that Bob Levinson is one of your readers – he's an old friend and one heckuva publicist … I recall lthat he had a Rolls Royce and his license plate read 'GREED'. Tell him 'hello' for me. Don Sundeen - glad you think that Peggy Lee's ‘Fever” is the Sexiest you've ever heard and I heartily agree … also the kudos have to be handed to Gordon Jenkins – I used to call him ‘the Lone Arranger’ … to me he was the best – another great arrangements of Gordon's was Nat Cole's
‘Stardust'. Wow! Hey, it's music like that, along with Gordon's charts which keeps the pulse going at a good rate. You were also talking about Elton John's parties … most of them for charity … did you know for quite a few years in Elton John's career, he gave all his Grammys and Record Company awards to Russ Regan? That’s the man that signed Elton to a record contract and Elton has never forgotten Russ – shows that Elton sure has a lot of class. Sorry I couldn't make the schlep from Palm Desert to Don' 80th birthday party … especially since I heard that Wink & Sandy Martindale and Tom Bonetti were going to be there … as well as many of your readers who I would've cherished spending time with. But Alice had not fully recovered from her knee surgery and the long drive from the desert would've been harmful. So … Next time. Love to you and Barbara.”
Shadoe Stevens: “Simply the most magical, joyful, exciting, and perfect wedding I've ever attended. It was the wedding of the gods. Not just because it was my daughter, Amber, but because everything about it was extraordinary. The people were beautiful and entertaining, funny and filled with love, the attention to detail was simply spectacular in every way ... the venue, the lighting, the food, the music, the people who spoke, the ‘second line dancing with umbrellas’, the DJ, the portrait studio with professional lighting, top hats and furs, the getaway car ... one of the greatest experiences of our lives.”
Herb Oscar Anderson: “Lets not forget ...’they had to call it something so they called it Hadacol’ ... fun song. Must say ... have enjoyed many of your stories. Ask Imus if he remembers me introducing him to the NY area at the new Playboy Club in Great Gourge, NJ. Don Waterman (yes, the pen people) was the sales manager for WNBC ... asked if I would and I was more than happy to do so. It was brakeman Imus swinging his railroad lantern ... great fun times. Bob Eastman came to ABC from Blair and could possibly be called the world’s greatest salesman. Jack Thayer followed me on the air at 10 at WDGY (Storz) in Mpls and Steve Labunski was the GM. Though we tried we could never re-connect. And Jim Ramsburg, as you can see, was also a member of the illustrative group. By the way, Bill Armstrong went on to the Senate and got the knickname Mr. Social Security ... and speaking of trains when I was sued by a major broadcaster riding the 20th Century of the New York Central almost as a commuter to and from ... how clearly I remember the red carpet on the floor of Grand Central. Oh ... and the rosebud vase at the dining car table ... try that at your local airport ... didn't we all have our group and we traveled that road together as friends. Keep it coming, Claude ... thank you. P.S. -- was going to send you the WDGY picture ... can't find ... Jim Ramsburg was on in the afternoon.”
Just FYI, Don Imus worked on the railroad in Arizona before radio. And I think he’s irritated at me. With me? Whew! I still recall the day Robert W. Morgan was irritated with me. I ain’t done nuttin’. Honest!
Danny Davis: “Authorman, and those that 'member the great characters that still 'parley' and bring the 'dynamite doin's' of a 'to die for' industry to 'live' again!! For me, Wally Roker unveils good times, great regards, and a 'savings plan' that aided a new marriage to breathe easier! Just promoted from Philly to NYC, for the national spot at Colpix Records, and Columbia Pictures, necessitated 1/2 of the family duo NOT to be so 'thrilled'! Train ride from 'Brotherly Love' city daily, gets a trifle expensive and DOES test the $$ 'upgrade' for the Nat'l Promo title! Enter the always affable, ever able to be of 'some kind of help', much like an 81mg for 'shingles', Wally Roker! Somewhere, somehow, Wallace gets me an Employees Pass for The Pennsylvania Railroad! The $aved $$ comes in $weetly when the rent is due! BUT, the pass identifies the 'user' as a 'baggage man'! I'm sittin' in a club car wearin' the $piffy tailored suit, topped wit' de' mandatory cashmere topcoat, and trying to hide 'what a baggage man is going to/and where he was'! Gets a little tuff when the conductor asks for 'ticket/pass'! You gotta' keep an' eye out for 'thems' that might 'undo' ya'! Between buyin' a real ticket for unforeseen clashes with non-conforming conductors, and the stress of rail-thievery, and the ultimate loss of the ticket, New Years Eve (on the way home!), I tallied the stress factor, culled the pros and continuing 'cons', and Wally's monthly stipend, and minimized my Toots Shor luncheons, and remained friends, with due thanks to that smiling gent, Wally Roker, to this day (I would hope!).”
Bob Sherwood: “Hi, Claudius. Your thoughtful Memorium motivated me to add the following to your list:
--Robert W. Morgan, Scott Muni, Alan Freed
--Don MacKinnon (anybody who heard him on-air would attest to the fact that he would’ve been on a very short list of the greatest jocks of all time had he not tragically died at age 31)
--Don Sherwood, Robert L. Collins, Jack Carney, Jay Cook
--Big Don Barksdale (one of the All-time Great R&B and Blues jocks), George Michael, B. Mitchel Reed (one ‘L’), Jocko, Dale Dorman, Tom Donahue
Just my opinion and obviously dominated by where I lived and what I heard.”
Your opinion is superb with me, Bob. What a great list.
Lee Baby Simms, high in the hills above the bay: “You wonder, Woody. At home ... tasteful background as you puttz around and do whatever in your kitchen:
“I don`t do a hell of a lot up here on the hill, My Boy. Especially in Winter (no tomatoes to fool with). I have nothing much to report really. Nothing much changes up here on the hill. I just putter around as the days melt into one another and pass soo quickly. Every time I turn around its Sunday again and I only know its Sunday again cause Sunday is the day I put out the trash. And then all of a sudden, its Sunday again. Before I know it it will be time to put me out into the ….
“The high point of the week, every week, is 'Claude`s Commentary'. (I see that you and I and George got a little mention this week. Always reaffirming.) I really enjoy hearing all those old stories about what once was from all of our OLD contemporaries. Few are left. When they are gone. Which leads me to ... (somehow) My Health. GOOD, more or less. No real complaints. (Don`t you hate a complainer?) An ache here and a pain there ... from time to time, but most of them, are, for the most part Age Related. Hey, I`m an old person. I have to keep reminding my self that I`m not twenty-five anymore. But. I have had every test and Xray and scan known to man and they can`t find anything really wrong with me. (Except.) I am delighted.
“Of course, I drink a lot and I smoke a lot and when I go to see the doctors, once in a while, and tell them how much their eyes grow wide and they say, ‘MR. SIMMS ... You must stop all that, NOW!’ I tell em` to fuck off! Ha-Ha ... No, Wood, I don`t really tell them to do that, but that's what I think. People have been telling me to stop all that, that what I do, for most of my life and most of them are dead and gone, I`m still here! Being Joyful. Blood pressure is a little high. Big Deal! Everyone's Blood Pressure is a little high these days. We live in a High Blood Pressure Age. Too Much Information and 99% of it is not worth knowing!
“Oh! Here is something. I had a blood test done the other day and my PSA (prostate cancer) reading has gone up precipitously since I stopped the Lupron two years ago. In an effort to get it back down to something reasonable I will start that treatment again for a little while. I don`t look forward to it. You know. The sideeffects are not something that I enjoy but at least I know what to expect this time and will deal with them accordingly. You know the old saying: 'Life is not about what life hands you but rather how you handle what life hands you'.
“Here is something to think about: Come and see me. My friend Don Robert will be here and we can all run up to Napa, to The Culinary Institute Of America for a lovely lunch. Pop into Dean and Deluca for some yummy cheese and good bread, a bottle of wine. Stop by Montclair, NJ, pick up Dr. Bob, then on to Las Vegas to get Claude. Bring them both with you. We`ll talk and laugh and dance and sing ... all hands waving free. I have room for everyone … and I have papers. Come. I`m lonely for Y`all. It`s Cool and Rainy today. A nice bowl of soup (homemade) today for lunch. wak.”
Later from Lee: You know what, guys? The other day when I sent Y`all the update on my health it was not my intention to cause you concern or to elicit your sympathy or to have you comfort me. I was not looking to concern or to elicit or for comfort. I was merely giving you an update on 'The Moment' much as I do when I say. ‘Here is what`s for lunch’. Woody, you have sent encouraging emails. Claude, you tell me: ‘Lee ... fight the good fight’. Y`all are so kind ... But ... Y`all don`t have to do that. I know alllllllllll about it. I haven`t heard from Dr. Bob about my little 'Inconvenience' but then he never really loved me anyway. He has always been jealous of my Education. HA! I make zee little joke, eh? I have always been a funny guy. Really, Gentlemen, think nothing of it. I`m fine. FINE. UPDATE! A nice piece of line-caught Alaskan Halibut for lunch today. Don`t be alarmed. PS. Hey! Want to see a picture of a naked girl?”
Jim Ramsburg: “I just saw this week's Commentary and was delighted to find your kind words about www.jimramsburg.com and my book with the awkward title. Many thanks. Anyone who thinks Peggy Lee's ‘Fever’ is sexy should listen to her earlier Decca recording of “Lover’. That was orgasmic! Holiday hugs to you and Barb.”
Diane Kirkland: “Claude, one of my favorite parties was during the Radio Programming Forum in New Orleans – aboard the giant paddleboat with Cleveland and Clifton Chenier entertaining on board ... remember that one? It was great.”
Mel Phillips: “I am thrilled to announce that Mel Phillips Radio Views - The Book has been published by Amazon. To pre-order, click the following URL http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QNY32M0
Thanks for the help you gave me to make it all possible.”
Scott St. James: “Hi, Claude, just now got back from seeing a new film and the first thing I saw when I walked into my home office was the ‘Monday Treat’ I always look forward to. Thanks much for sending.”
Don Sundeen: “This story really rang an old bell with me. Sometime in the late 90s I was shooting a commercial with a semi-prominent Brit director/cameraman. I knew that in Swinging London in the 60s he had been one of the leading still photographers taking pictures of the music groups, models, and even a royal or two. We were at dinner one night and I said it must have really been cool to be in London then, and he replied that it wasn’t as cool as being in the ‘Caves' a few years later. I asked what ‘Caves' he was talking about, and he gave me that look folks gave you when they were thinking you weren’t as hip as you thought you were. Anyway, it turns out the Caves of Matala were on a beach in Greece not far from Crete. For a time it was the place to go after dropping out of society and going off to ‘do your own thing.’ He said the climate was perfect and clothing was optional, virtually every drug known at that time was available and people could live well for pennies compared to the US. Anyway, I think that Joni Mitchell went there to get away from LA after separating from Graham Nash, a wonderful man, and stopped at the Caves for a while on her way to Paris. That’s where she met Cary Raditz, and later wrote the song ‘Carey' (misspelled) about their relationship. The song is available above this paragraph and there are some small shots of the Caves below the picture. Like everything in the hippy era, the area’s been gentrified now and has hotels and condos surrounding the beach. Were you a fan of Joni’s music, if so what tune was your favorite?
I wrote that “Carey” was one of four tunes by Joni that I had on laptop at the moment. And mentioned the Newport Folk Festival where I first heard her in the 60s.
More Don Sundeen: “Great story and a common occurrence, remember all the labels that passed on the Beatles? I thought the blog was very good today, all you have to do is mention Imus’ name and folks come out of the walls. Don Graham was one of my mentors and it’s been wonderful to see him get the recognition from his peers about his great career, at 80 I think he’s probably the last man standing. Here’s the one Joni wrote about David Geffen before he came out:”
Paul Cassidy: “Assume your Pat Harrington was senior. Jr. was near us on Linda Flora in Bel Air. Pat Jr. Is fighting Alzheimers, last we heard in October. Plus Charles Champlin of the LA Times left us last week, another Linda Flora resident. Stay well.”
Not sure these Pats were related. The guy I knew was with Patton and both he and Bob Curren, then editor of Cavalier, worshiped Patton. Pat could busted a full beer can (the old kind) with a judo chop. Nice, but tough, hombre. He was then dating an opera singer in Manhattan. He’d been a louie and Curren a sergeant in that jaunt through Germany. I enjoyed my two years working with Curren. When he left the magazine to do the Gotham Bowl, he offered to get me a position on True. I turned it down and Barbara and I went first to Austin, TX, then to New Orleans. Some days, I think I may have made a mistake. But, quien sabe?
Larry White: “Could you possibly be thinking of George Michael (ex of WFIL and WABC) rather than George Martin in your Lest We Forget section this week? I know Michael had quite a TV career including a syndicated sports show after leaving radio. Love your weekly Commentary and recognize so many of the names of folks who were such an important part of the radio and record businesses when both were so much more fun. Best to you and Barbara.”
You caught me in a goof, Larry. George Michael was the person that I was thinking of. You and Bob Sherwood … ah, but I do appreciate you guys!
Don Whittemore: “Dearest Claude, you are so gracious to me that I gotta beg you to be nice to someone other than me. The readers will think I'm paying you for all the superlatives. When John A. Hall does his Christmas visit he will bring PeppBrnie and Pumpkin Praline. Only one spoonful for you from each Pint.”
That’s not payola? But what great payola, eh?
Mel Phillips: “Joe Maimone was a jolly old elf when ‘Jingle Bells’ by the Singing Dogs, originally done in the 50s, was re-released in the early 70s. Joe would dress up as Santa Claus to promote the record at radio (I'm sure he paid you a visit at Billboard, too). Although he had that thick black mustache, Joe was a jolly old beefy guy, tall and beefy enough to play Santa. About '72 or '73 I was at WOR-FM having replaced Sebastian Stone as PD when Joe came in accompanied not by the original Singing Dogs but whatever incarnation replaced them. Joe was one of the friendliest NYC promo people and even revered by his competitors. And anyway there was no cover of would-be Singing Dogs to be competitive about. Joe entertains us with the obviously, not talented version of the dogs that wouldn't stop yapping. Since Joe visited all the pop music stations in NYC, he also doubled as a dog walker and he was running late on this trip. As he and the dogs are leaving 1440 Broadway, he walks by our 'Wall of Fame' where we had artists sign a section of the wall. The signatures were on a wall post and yes, one of the dogs urinated on the post. In that area we had promotion, sales and continuity people sitting just feet away from the aroma, a remnant of the Singing Dogs. To the best of my knowledge, the dogs were the only artist that urinated on the wall. A nice Christmas memory to share.”
Personal Opinion: The college football playoff series selection ended up a farce. Just another mess. Turns out TCU never had a chance. Too Christian, I suppose. Well, back to the drawing board, pundits.
Don Sundeen and Ira Lipson are wrapping up seven years and more than 500 award-winning radio shows for the blind. Sundeen: “We had a great run and a lot of fun, plus the satisfaction that comes from serving others. The older one gets, the more one understands that nothing lives for ever, especially in these times of rapid technological change and tight money.” To make sure I didn’t miss the news, Don Graham wrote: “We are certain that you have been aware of the remarkable broadcasts that Don Sundeen and Ira Lipson have been doing as ‘The Strecher Brothers” out of KERA-FM, Dallas, entertaining for the blind. A commendable public service.”
Great on you, Don Sundeen and Ira Lipson! And thanks, Don.
Not too early, I guess, to wish each and
all a very wonderful holiday season! Be kind,
be thoughtful, be helpful. Barbara and I
love each and everyone one of you!