Wal-Mart has that “not so fresh feeling”


Yes, as this Wal-Mart Sunday sales circular points out, “Nothing says summer like fresh berries.”

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Of course, you won’t find those in Pop-Tarts¹, Oreos, Cheetos, Star Wars cereal and all the other processed foods advertised on this two-page spread.

¹I know the Pop-Tarts shown are “strawberry” flavor but the chances that they have actual berries in them are about the same as the chances that Froot Loops contain actual fruit.

King Kenny

Here are the thoughts that flash through my feeble yet trivia-packed 50-year-old mind when I see this album cover:

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  1. The “parted-in-the-middle mullet” needs to make a comeback.
  2. Most folks think of Kenny Rogers as a country artist, and forget that he started out as a psychedelic freak.

3. “Six Pack” was a fine movie. (co-starring Diane Lane, Erin Gray, Barry Corbin and Anthony Michael Hall, y’all!)

4. Kenny rocked the facial hair long before craft-beer-swilling hipsters made it “ironic.”

5. I miss the corn muffins from Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants. Mighty tasty.

(Apparently I could still get those corn muffins if I visit Malaysia.)

6. Nobody does duets like Kenny did. Dolly. Sheena Easton. Kim Carnes. Dottie West… You could pair Kenny with a parrot and get a #1 hit.

6. I’m sure it was cathartic for Tommy to beat up the Gatlin boys (“and there was three of them”) but a better course of action would’ve been for Becky to file charges.

7. In the early days of the interwebs, one of my favorite websites was MenWhoLookLikeKennyRogers.com. The concept was so simple yet wacky: find a silver-haired, bearded fella who resembled Kenny, take his photo (surreptitiously if necessary) and post it to the site. Pure genius in the days before piano-playing cats took over. Just look at a single page of photos and try not to laugh. It’s impossible.

The miracles of modern technology

Music has the power to heal. Friends are a blessing. And when you put them together, it can be magical.

On Friday night I went to the heart of downtown Cincinnati, Fountain Square (as seen in the “WKRP in Cincinnati” opening credits) for a free indie rock show. Wussy proclaimed by Robert Christgau as “the best band in America” — was the headliner, and they lived up to that billing, albeit a bit raggedly. Prior to Wussy, another excellent band called Pike 27 played. Their usual drummer is my friend Dave, who is currently being treated for his second bout with lymphoma. I worked with Dave’s wife Jacqui at an ad agency long ago, and I’ve shared a few of Jacqui’s poignant posts about their journey on her “Nashville or Bust” blog.

Yesterday morning I went on a 9-mile run with my wife, who is training for the New York Marathon, and we saw Jacqui running the other way with another running group. I’m guessing her runs are a bit more meditative and therapeutic than mine.

Last night we went to a fundraiser for Music Resource Center and I met Pike 27’s frontman (also named Dave) and his wife Amy. Dave is friends with my friend Jennifer from my radio days. And Amy is good friends with one of my current co-workers. Amy also had played a key role in Friday night’s concert – iPhone cameraperson. Turns out they were able to broadcast (narrowcast actually) the gig to Jacqui and Dave at their home.

Here’s Jacqui’s blog post about it:

Last Night’s Rx: Music & Love



Take a minute and let this picture sink in.

This was our Friday night. And it was pretty spectacular.

You’ve heard me mention Dave’s band, Pike 27, from time to time. They are incredible musicians. They are incredible people. They are part of our family.

And last night — the night of the very much anticipated show on Fountain Square as part of Cincinnati’s MidPoin Indie Summer series — they made sure that Dave didn’t miss out.

It was a last minute idea and probably the most hillbilly way to ‘live cam’ — but we did it! Thanks to iPhones, FaceTime, iCloud and Facebook, we patched in from the dining room table.

Dave had no clue that we were doing this. In fact, he was a bit annoyed when he heard me fussing at my computer and told him to, “get over here — you have to see this!” I think he thought I was watching cat videos or something.

I really wished I had a video camera rolling on him when he saw Amy on my computer screen, waving and smiling, and figured out that she was on Fountain Square. Live. Like there at the show.

The plan was really to watch one or two songs. We didn’t want to burden Amy (who was fighting bronchitis) to wear out her arm holding her phone up all night. But others jumped in and kept the feed going. Then there were the message pictures and the selfies and wow… so much love.

We are humbled by and grateful to all the folks that are Pike 27 and for the local music scene who continue to send love and support. It was incredible to see Dave so happy — so alive! And yes, he was singing his ‘girl part’ high harmonies and keeping time with his feet. Would you expect any less? ~Jacqui

My son’s band played a few songs at the fundraiser last night. If they keep playing music, I hope they always remember that it’s not about fame, fortune or glory, it’s about the friendships you form and the love you share.


That snot funny

This past weekend, my wife and I went to Cincy Brew Ha-Ha, which bills itself as “America’s Largest Beer & Comedy Festival.”

It’s a great concept – more than 100 types of beers (most of them of the craft beer variety) and more than 50 comedians on 4 outdoor stages. Proceeds go to charity too.

I’m far from a prude, and nowhere near being a stand-up comedy expert, but most of the comedians we  saw took a beeline straight toward the gutter. “Working blue” as they say in the biz. Nothing but jokes that focused below the belt. I’m sorry, but if you start your set with that sort of “comedy” you’ve lost me. My dad always used to say profanity shows a lack of vocabulary, and I think toilet humor shows a lack of originality. 

That’s why clean humor folks like Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan are such standouts. They can be funny without resorting to the cheap stuff. And judging from the comedians we saw, there’s certainly less competition in the clean section. 



Happy Ray Day!

Today’s the birth date of my absolute favorite author by far, Mr. Ray Bradbury. He’s probably best known for his classic novels like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. But truly Ray was the master of the short story, and because I have a short attention span his words and my puny brain were a match made in literary heaven. Of course, it wasn’t just that his stories were short… it’s that they were magical. Ray could pack more into 10 pages than other authors could do in a thousand. Read “The Veldt” and get goose bumps. Read “The Sound of Thunder” and understand “the butterfly effect.” In “Perhaps We Are Going Away” he brilliantly foreshadows the plight of the Native Americans in just a  few pages, without any dialogue. If you’ve lost a parent or grandparent, I dare you to read “The Leave-Taking” and not get choked up.



So, in honor of Ray, the man who will live forever, a few of his quotes:

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream ever made or paid for in factories.”

“Jump and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”

More isn’t always better

Saw this ad in the Sunday newpaper’s coupon section:

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I guess what they are trying to say is being a conjoined twin makes you better at karate because you have 4 legs for kicking your opponent’s butt. Oh, and your hair will look better too.

I really think the advertising folks that put this one together could’ve given this one a bit more thought and come up with a better “2 in 1” comparison. Or at least one that’s a bit more common. Maybe a futon?


Daily inspiration

Two daily emails that I find indispensable and inspirational are from Seth Godin and Hugh MacLeod.

In the past week alone, Seth has offered two brief blog posts with such pearls of wisdom that I read them aloud to my kids because I thought the points he was making were such great life lessons.

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Hugh MacLeod sends out a “Cartoon of the Day” that includes a drawing and words of wisdom.

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Sign up for both daily emails now, and thank me later.

Blues: The Next Generation

With apologies to Jon Landau, “I saw blues future and its name is Joe Tellmann. And Erin Coburn. And In Layman’s Terms. And a bunch of other teenagers who rocked Braxton Brewing in Covington, KY last night.”

I’m a blues fan, but must admit that my interest has waned since Stevie Ray Vaughan died. Seeing some youngsters play the blues like old souls last  night gave me new hope for the next generation of the blues.

Full disclosure: Joe Tellmann is the 15-year-old son of my good friend Dave, with whom I had the pleasure of working at 97X in Oxford, OH two decades ago. He also happens to be a preternaturally gifted guitarist who loves nothing more than practicing for several hours every day.

Erin Coburn is even younger than  Joe, she’s only 13. She looks like she should be playing with American Girl dolls instead of playing guitar, but when she plays and sings she’s Bessie Smith, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi all rolled into one.

Both Joe and Erin attended the Pinetop Perkins Foundation Camp in Clarksdale, Mississippi this summer. According to Dave, it was an incredibly rewarding week. Last night’s gig was a fundraiser for the foundation.

The Pinetop Perkins Foundation is a tax exempt non-profit organization.  It’s mission is to provide encouragement and support for youth and young people at the beginning of their musical career; and help provide care and safety for elderly musicians at the twilight of their career.

Penny for your album thoughts

Columbia House – the mail-order record club that would suck(er) you in with their magazine ads (“get 12 cassettes for a penny!”) has gone belly up. I’ll miss them because they helped me stock my cassette – and later CD – library with some gems. But I won’t miss worrying that I’d forget to mail back the “I don’t want this month’s selection” card in time, and getting charged $20 for a crappy album.

I’ll also miss making up some nice aliases so I could get more albums for a penny.


Stereogum has a nice post about the Columbia House demise.

Album of the (yester)year

I did some crate digging when my wife, two of our sons and I went to an antiques mall recently, and found some real gems (using that term very loosely) in the album bins. This is vinyl that takes me back to the days of old, when I was young.

Here’s the first album I ever bought:

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Yep, I was pretty late to the Eagles party. This album was their swan song (post-breakup re-formation albums don’t count in my book). Love the cover… not too far removed from the infamous “Black Album” from Spinal Tap.

I bought this album at Wal-Mart. (Don’t hate – it was pretty much the only store in Clarksville, Arkansas that sold records.) Brought it home, put it on the turntable and it skipped. Returned it to Wal-Mart for another copy, which also skipped. Finally figured out that if I taped a penny on the turntable’s needle arm, it worked just fine. Don’t try that with your mp3s.

I loved music so much that I pored over the liner notes. There was a note in tiny print at the bottom of the album sleeve telling how you could mail away for the lyrics:

2015-07-12 14.43.47How quaint. And of course I dutifully mailed in my SASE because I love lyrics.

I studied the album so much that I even found an “Easter egg” of sorts etched into the black vinyl between the last song and the record label on both sides, aka the “runout grooves.”

Side 1 said: Never let your monster lay down.

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Side 2 read: From the Polack who sailed north.

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I’m guessing that’s a reference to the album’s producer, Bill Szymczyk.

So I thought I was just driving 5 minutes away to an antiques mall, but I actually wound up going 800 miles (and 36 years) down Memory Lane.

“Who is gonna make it? We’ll find out, in the long run”