Memories of the 1990s in NY,New Orleans and Chicago with general pics, too. The '90s were the most jam-packed and...ummm. interesting - years of my life, thanks to living in the aforementioned cities during that time.
1980s memories - neon colors, breakdancing, Madonna, big hair and leg warmers!
.This video was put together with the Windows 10 video app and various photos from my 1960s memories folder. It's not the best, but it's a start. The music is a random upbeat instrumental.
Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune
I became a Cubs fan in 1969. It wasn't a good introduction to the team. The ’69 Cubs were the first men who broke my heart. After they screwed up and lost the division to the Mets, my Dad brought home a bunch of Cub Power bumper stickers from the local Dunkin' Donuts. Nobody else wanted ‘em, and I put them on my school notebooks and bulletin board at home. There’s always next year, I figured.
In the early 1970s, I went to dozens of Cubs games with my Dad and brothers. We usually sat in the left field grandstand. I think we only sat in the box seats once. I’d fill out the scorecard and we’d fill up on hot dogs, mini-pizzas and pop. (It feels so good to use the proper term for synthetic, sugary beverages. I hate calling it soda, but you have to when you live outside the Midwest or risk confused looks.)
I watched every Cubs game I could, which was easy to do back then cause everything was on free TV, not cable. Every season, one of my classmates would sneak in a transistor radio so we could listen to the home opener – at least until the teacher confiscated the radio. I had all the Cubs tchotchkes and souvenirs, including pennants, stickers, bobbleheads and this ill-fated album. No, Harry Caray’s not on it. It was released in 1969, long before Harry started calling Cubs games.
The kids in the neighborhood collected baseball cards, and we’d trade them back and forth and even played an early version of fantasy baseball, making up our own teams using the cards. One of my prize cards was a Willie Mays card from 1970. It’s now worth $175…of course, mine is long gone.
My standard summer uniform as a kid – navy blue gym shorts, a grayish-blue Cubs T-shirt with the cute Cubby Bear holding up the Cubs logo, Keds and Coppertone.
When I played baseball with the neighborhood kids, I used my trusty Ron Santo infielder’s glove. My positions varied – I usually played second base, sometimes third or shortstop.
I met Ernie Banks in 1970 and he autographed a baseball for me. A few months later I noticed it was missing, and ran outside to find my brothers and their friends playing baseball with the autographed ball. The autograph was destroyed. I cried for an hour.
In junior high, my girlfriends and I hung out in the bleachers at Wrigley Field with the beer drinking, long-suffering Bleacher Bums (The Bums were the subject of this play.) A seat in the bleachers cost $1 then.
In college, I lived in Lakeview, and our apartment was about half a mile from Wrigley Field. We could see the back of the ballpark from our back porch. On game days, we heard the fans cheering.
Back to Ernie. I wandered into one of my arts management classes in college early one day, and who was sitting all alone in the classroom? Ernie Banks. No, he wasn’t the teacher, he was a student. Usually, I’m reserved and almost businesslike when meeting my idols, but I couldn’t stop blabbing when I met Ernie the second time. He was cool and gracious about it, though. I was so excited I forgot to ask for a replacement autograph.
I was ecstatic when the Cubs won the World Series the other night. I only wish I had been back in Chicago to experience the sheer joy of millions of fans celebrating. The 1969 debacle may seem like eons ago, but there are Cub fans who've waited to see a World Series victory longer than I have.
I wish my Dad was here to see this, but I’m sure he’s up there in heaven with all the other Cubs fans celebrating in the afterlife.
Light of Day
It wasn’t always easy being a rock ‘n’ roller/black sheep of the family in a lower middle class neighborhood. I was never molested by a priest like Patti Rasnick (Joan Jett’s character), and didn’t shoplift either, but I definitely was on a different wavelength than the rest of the family/neighborhood girls. If you wanted to do something other than marry a boy from the neighborhood, buy a house in the neighborhood and have babies in the neighborhood, you were a weirdo.
A nightclub scene was filmed near my childhood home in suburban Chicago. I’m not sure if that particular footage was used in the film.
A Woman Under the Influence
The first time I saw “A Woman Under the Influence” I was so shocked at some of the similarities to my life I wondered if John Cassevettes knew my family or had heard about them somewhere. My Mom was a paranoid-schizophrenic, and every few years, she was admitted to the hospital for treatment. The adults around us never talked much about what happened there or what kind of treatment she received. I was a kid and these things weren’t explained much in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Now that I’m older, I think some of her difficulties had to do with postpartum depression, another subject that wasn’t talked about (or even noticed) back then.
My Dad never hit my Mom and she never cheated on him, but some of the other scenes and just the general feel of the film were like a slice of my childhood, plus my Mom looked like a thinner, frailer version of Gena Rowlands.
The plot in a nutshell - A working class Dad (Peter Falk) deals with three kids (two boys and a girl) and his wife’s (Gena Rowlands) mental instability, until he has her committed. When she comes home from the hospital, all the relatives are there to greet her in a big party like scene.
As a teen, I was an aspiring rock critic with a hint of groupie, so I could identify with Penny Lane and Cameron Crowe’s alter-ego, William Miller.
The scenes where Miller’s (Patrick Fugit) Mom drops him off at the backstage door and the scene where Sapphire (Fairuza Balk) talks about what music means to her reminded me of being a teen who sought solace in rock 'n' roll. It seems so bittersweet to see those scenes now. Music moves you so much as a kid, in a heart-pounding, all-encompassing way. It seems sad to lose that when you get older and real life takes over.
The Bell Jar
Adolescence is a pain in the ass, and it’s even worse if you’re a moody poet who reads Nietzsche in your spare time.
When I first saw the book The Bell Jar in a mall bookstore, I grabbed it after seeing the back cover blurb “The story of a talented young woman who descends into madness.”
“Hey”, I said to my girlfriend “How did they know?” I can recite whole passages from the novel by heart to this day, even some of the more insignificant ones.
"Ouch!" I winced at a particularly bad jab. The doctor whistled. "You're one in a million." "What do you mean?" "I mean it's one in a million it happens to like this.
Esther Greenwood’s descent into depression and insanity resonated with me. I’ve always been a persevering Pollyanna at heart, but I could relate to Esther’s general malaise and disenchantment with the world. A lot of teen girls did – and still do – that’s why The Bell Jar remains a go-to book for sensitive adolescents. Kirsten Dunst will direct the second film version of the novel. The first version, released in 1979, wasn’t very good, so I’ve included an audio book clip instead of a film clip.
This Is Spinal Tap
It was a simpler time. When not working or going to school, life consisted of:
Hanging out with rock musicians (local or traveling), listening to albums and the radio 24/7, exploring the now demolished International Amphitheatre, smoking pot with roadies for either Judas Priest or UFO - or maybe REO Speedwagon, watching bands soundcheck, getting hammered on cheap beer at street fairs, Chicagofest and local clubs.
And not all rock stars were as dim-witted as Spinal Tap, but here’s a backstage tale for you, courtesy of a guest speaker in one of my arts management classes:
A lesser-known rock star was incensed that the soda backstage was above a certain temperature. (The exact temperature for soda was specified in his contract rider.) He told the promoter he refused to go onstage if this wasn’t rectified.
The promoter said, “OK, don’t go on. I’ll go out there and tell the kids why.”
The show went on as planned.
Found one of my old college notebooks with notes I took at an Ian Hunter/Mick Ronson concert in Chicago in 1979. I don’t remember anything about the concert it’s been so long! Notice the “P.S. - The drummer is a fox!”
Yes,people did use that term in the 1970s. Hot wasn’t in vogue yet.
Maybe this bootleg will refresh my memory
A few days ago, a friend of mine received a letter with return address from the Department of Financial Management somewhere in Fort Lee New Jersey. It came in an official- looking, business letter-sized manila envelope. It looked shockingly similar to a letter you’d get from the Federal or State Government. Unless you studied the envelope for discrepancies, you’d think it was the real thing.
When he opened the envelope, it wasn’t a legal admonishment, of course. It was a fake sweepstakes scam. You’ve won 1.8 million dollars! Send this back to the “Tri-State Department of Financial Sustenance” or some other official sounding name, printed on a thick piece of paper that looked like like a stock certificate.
The last time I’d seen scam letters disguised as government correspondence was in the late 1980s, when I visited my grandparents a few times a week.
So why was my friend, who never gets on any weird mailing lists or enters any contests, getting a letter like this all of a sudden? I couldn’t figure it out at first. Then it dawned on me.
My friend is in his early 50s, as I am, and thus fast approaching the prime age for scammers. “Old people” (as in 55 or over, especially retirees) bear the brunt of phone, snail mail and now email scammers. Scammers can easily find out what age range you’re in from surveys and other legitimate marketing listings.
I learned about scams targeting seniors firsthand when I worked in a phone sales room in Metairie, Louisiana in 1994. I was new in town and the job market in NOLA wasn’t exactly hopping, so I took a phone sales gig to tide me over til I got something else.
The job was located in a trailer and the boss assigned me and two other clean-cut, well-dressed new hires to sell timeshares in Arizona from a communal table in the back of the room. The star sellers had desks in the front, loud booming voices and wore shorts and T-shirts with garish sayings.
We often heard them arguing with people on the other end of the phone, extolling them to hand over their credit card numbers OR ELSE. In the calls I overheard, the victims succumbed to the bullying instead of hanging up.
The star salesman was an obese, wheelchair-bound guy, who weighed about 400 pounds. He gave the other phone scam employees sales tips. “Call small towns in the South and Midwest,” he suggested “There are lots of lonely retirees and seniors who will give money away just to talk to someone.”
He also bragged about cops raiding some of the phone sales "boiler" rooms he’d worked in.
I just quit the job after a few days. Although I made a few timeshare sales, I spent most of the calls gabbing with the prospects and got reprimanded for it a few times. The time share prospects were young professional types, not seniors. Even though the fast-talking Yuppie type who hired me assured me that the time shares were legit, I didn’t believe him. I soldiered on to another throwaway job at a chain of souvenir shops.
Lady Gaga says she is a feminist and seems like a fairly intelligent woman. Why would she consent to do a music video this gross and idiotic with these guys, given their well-documented issues? And you can’t use the excuse that it’s “art”. That won’t fly with this one. (Look at the clip, if they haven’t taken it down yet.) Of course the video is now shelved after all the complaints and controversy.. And everybody's talking about it. Oh, for extra fun, the video was directed by Terry Richardson, the photographer, who has been accused of sexual abuse by several models. Too bad American Apparel's Dov Charney didn't do the wardrobe. Why not go for a hat-trick?
Could it be Lady Gaga (or whoever is pulling her strings) is delving deeper and deeper into the abyss to keep her name in front of the public? Is that all she has? It's too bad, because she does have musical talent. I don't see Adele, St. Vincent, Lorde or Lana Del Rey resorting to these tactics. And I see their names in the press a lot more these days. Whatever happened to the good stuff, Gaga, like Bad Romance or Paparazzi?
Here is the Village Voice article about the charges against R. Kelly.
Buzzfeed article on the video
Guardian UK article on Terry Richardson
Every once in awhile I'll browse through eBay's vintage toys and dolls pages and find a long-lost doll from my childhood. This one, Simona, by Italian dollmaker Furga, is now offered for sales on eBay at a starting bid of $169. I think I found her on one of the many trips my family took to the Sears on Western Ave. in Chicago. I changed her name to Nancy cause she reminded me of Nancy Sinatra.
- Slums Off Hollywood Boulevard
- Trashy Lingerie (Un) Dresses Celebrities for Halloween
- Dark Chocolate May Be Good for Your Child's Asthma
- 6 Tips to an Asthma Safe Barbecue
- Bacteria Exposure in Early Childhood: Does it Protect Children from Asthma?
- John F. Kennedy : Overcoming Asthma, Addison’s Disease and More to Become One of the 20th Century’s Greatest Men