June 18th, 2006
Memo To Vera, Chuck and Dave:

Someone pretty special turns 64 today!...
Okay, so he's beginning to look it, too, but hey, he sure doesn't SOUND it!

May you celebrate many, many more birthdays, Sir Paul!
June 8th, 2006
Y'know, there's every good chance that, without Billy Preston, the Beatles never would've recorded their justly celebrated swan song, "Abbey Road".

Not that the multi-talented keyboardist had all that much of a musical influence on that watermark LP. It's just that, had he not come in midway through the "Let It Be" sessions held earlier in 1968, the group easily could've collapsed entirely under mounting contentiousness and bitter acrimony. Instead, the boys invited an old friend from their pre-Fab days (I believe it was George's inspired notion) to join them, and his good-humored presence almost immediately diffused the tension hanging over the project. Thus, the four did NOT wind up going for each other's throats, instead remaining on cordial enough terms to go into the studio one last time and produce that final masterpiece.

Of course, Billy Preston did so much more in a long and fruitful career--several number one hits of his own, a prolific resume as a valued sideman (including lengthy stints with The Rolling Stones on both the stage and in the studio), and--no denying it--one heckuva impressive Afro! But for me, he'll always be the guy who got The Beatles back to where they once belonged, if only for a little while.

In case you didn't hear, yeah, sad news--Billy Preston died the other day. He was only 59.

Sigh. Y'know, I'm writing way, WAY too many of these things lately...
December 10th, 2005
The other night, in the waning hours of the seventh, not long before midnight--just as I was finishing up the previous posting, in fact--Lynn suddenly felt motivated to dip into one of several boxes of miscellaneous papers and ephemera that her mom had sent back with us on Thanksgiving (her mom is hoping to sell her house and move to a smaller place, so she's been going through all the accumulated detritus of a lifetime, and whatever turns out to be Lynn's, voila--we wind up with it). Without digging in too deep, Lynn came up with the above 1976 issue of PEOPLE magazine, which seemed ironically appropriate (if a tad bit eerie), given the impending anniversary. And the funny thing was, even though Lynn and I were together at the time, I have absolutely NO memory of ever seeing this issue before (and believe me when I tell you I clearly recall just about every scrap of paper I ever happened across dealing with the Fab Four).

Beyond my personal befuddlement, the above cover story sums up succinctly exactly what we lost twenty-five years ago day before yesterday--any possible chance to see The Greatest Show On Earth ever take the stage again for maybe one more time. Selfish? Sure, but there isn't a Beatles fan alive who can deny that, after mourning the very real human tragedy of a man losing his life--of a woman losing her husband, of children losing their father--they thought that thought. Don't fret overmuch, though. I'm sure John would've understood--being selfish is all too human, after all...

So how'd I spend the eighth? Well, I made a decision the night before that, instead of starting my day off watching the previous evening's "Conan O'Brien" show as per usual, right after Julie went off to school, I'd pop a copy of the 1988 David Wolper/Andrew Solt documentary, "Imagine", into the DVD player. I had bought it when it was released only two days earlier. It may be surprising to some of you reading this but I'd never seen it before. There are several disparate reasons for that omission.

One would have to Yoko.

Look, I'm not one of those people who abhor the woman, or who holds her as being outright responsible for the group's breakup. That said, I've never really warmed up to her either. Certainly, my heart went out to her in the months and even years immediately following her husband's murder, but over time, I've come to to again look upon her with a certain amount of skepticism. Though the "Imagine" film received good reviews back when it was released, I was still reluctant to watch what I fully expected to be John as defined by Yoko. I think my general uncomfortableness with the woman was perfectly summed up by two statements found in a recent NEWSWEEK feature article (November 23, 2005).

The piece, by journalist Jeff Giles, attempted to make some sense of Lennon's legacy over the past quarter century, and the journalist interviewed a number of the late musician's friends and family, including both Yoko and first wife Cynthia. Having spoken with Ono a number of times in the past, it was hardly the result of a hastily formed first impression when Giles summed up Lennon's widow thusly...

In person, Ono talks about her late husband's music and message enthusiastically, and about the Beatles a bit joylessly; it's as if her face is on a dimmer switch.

Yeah, I'VE noticed that, too, and always found it somehow...disrespectful; if not to John, certainly to Ringo, George and most especially Paul. And about McCartney and his struggles being compared--usually unfavorably--against his martyred partner for the last twenty-five years, Cynthia Lennon puts the situation in such perfect perspective, it's a wonder I'd never considered it before:

"I don't think (Paul's) competitive with John as much as he is with Yoko"

So pardon me, but I've never been able to warm up to the woman. I don't hate her, I don't even dislike her, I just sometimes wish everything about Lennon didn't have to come filtered through her first. Like this movie.

But I figured, this was a special day. I had the DVD, and after all, it HAD been a long time since John was taken from us--I was sure I could get through it well enough, y'know?


Oh, the film itself was very well done, and did a great job of covering Lennon's entire life and career (even if Paul and the other two fellows would've appeared, to the uninitiated, to be little more than sidemen). Sure, it was John-centric, but it seemed mostly fair, and actually made some of the crazier stunts John pulled with Yoko--particularly those infamous bed-ins--appear charming in their wacked out, inventively earnest innocence (and on a sidenote, a prolonged sequence featuring the couple being politely--but condescendingly--berated by cartoonist Al Capp has done little to enhance any enthusiasm on my part to dip into my "Li'l Abner" collections again anytime soon...). There are no specific problems with the documentary, none save for the fact that, just like most everything else to do with the group, there's always THAT ending. Whether it's shown or not (and in this case, it was) it ALWAYS hangs mournfully over any Beatles documentary production. You know what I'm talking about.

Look, here's the thing--ever since we bought our first VCR back in 1983, I've taped everything I could find that appeared on the tube about the Beatles, whether it was old footage, or contemporary video of the ex-members solo careers. A lot of it I watched--Ringo hosting SNL, Paul chatting with Conan O'Brien, the big "Anthology" event--but more than a fair amount would remain on these ever expanding collection of tapes, unwatched--fictionalized TV movies, appreciative network salutes, recent Paul and Ringo concerts alike. For the longest time, I just assumed it was merely a matter of me justifying the delay in watching these videos primarily due to the fact that, well, they weren't going anywhere. I was keeping then, with no plans to erase. I can see 'em anytime, I'm figuring--best to tube the stuff I'm just gonna tape over, right? At least, that was the theory...

And then earlier this summer, the truth finally hit me. My buddy over at the IGN Comics website, Ken Plume, had sent me an extra comp he had of the "Paul McCartney in Red Square" concert DVD that had just come out. True to form, I had indeed originally taped this special off A&E when it was originally broadcast a year or so earlier, but had (uh huh) never actually watched it. Now, though, having hooked up the DVD player to our stereo speakers just a few months prior, I was anxious to enjoy the show both visually AND aurally. So I popped in the DVD, cranked up the sound, and before I knew it--probably when Pal launched into "All My Loving"--I got all, well, shall we say, euphemistically, emotional? Seems to happen all the time these days when I watch one of the Lads on the tube (curiously--and thankfully--I don't have near the same reaction merely from listening to them).

Why this happens, I'm not sure, though I have my theories. Obviously, watching the now deceased John's life story can end up being a wrenching experience, but somehow, so is a very much alive Paul vibrantly performing some of the group's greatest tunes. Maybe because, seeing McCartney joyously belting out "Hello Goodbye" can't help but remind me of what both he and I were like when that ditty was originally scaling the charts--and as good as he looks for his age (though he's no Dick Clark), one only needs to take a quick glance to realize that that was a long, LOOONG time ago. Watching a Beatle perform one of the old numbers--whether in a vintage clip or a recent performance--is bittersweet simply because, either way, it can't help but remind viewers of my generation of their lost youth.

Y'know, I love the music of the Beach Boys and the Who as well, and even bought a fair amount of their discs as they were being issued back in the sixties and seventies. Always more than vaguely aware of their circumstances, I've since delved deeply into both group's backstories--and recorded catalog--and yet, my emotional response remains, if not aloof, comparatively restrained. I couldn't tell you, for instance, where I was when I heard that Dennis Wilson or Keith Moon had died. The fact is, aside from listening to Elvis taking poor "Old Shep" out back, using his shotgun to put his aged pet hound dog to sleep, the only thing that always seems to make me scurry off for the Kleenex is watching the Beatles saga (whether it's done via the story route, or merely through an evocative song). I've listened to a lot of other music in my life, but I vicariously LIVED every nuance of the Beatles story as it was happening. Every song, every album, even every variance of hair length--and let's not forget mustaches and beards--I can readily recall what was going on in MY life paralleling theirs. Yeah, obsessive, I know. Too late, though--it's done.

So why not get emotional, y'know? The drama is always the same--the exuberantly happy beginning (1964, for us Yanks) followed by the misunderstood 1966 "Bigger than Jesus" controversy, then the mind-expanding 1967 "Sgt. Pepper" era, and the long slow fade to the sad break-up two years hence, with John's murder a full decade later empathically slamming the book shut on the main story for good. Sure, the solo career's of the four have provided a decent amount of good, even great, music--and fascinating history, to boot--but it's hard somehow to not watch twenty-first century Paul up on that stage singing "All My Loving" and not flash back to the pure giddy joy one felt upon first hearing that song performed on the Ed Sullivan show way back in 1964. Before he reaches the tune's final note, the group's alternately joyfully inspiring and sadly tragic history plays out almost instantaneously--and unbidden--in your mind.

Geez. It's always a lot easier to watch Paul sing "C Moon"...

Not to say that watching the Beatles is a total downer, because it's not. I derive a lot of happiness out of these clips, too. It's just that, somehow, the intensity level is way, WAY up there. And twenty-five years after that idiot with the gun made the worst decision of his life, it hasn't dimmed for me all that much.

And people think I'm fixated on COMICS? HAH!...
December 8th, 2005
Twenty-five years ago, Lynn and I were living in Troy, New York.

Lynn was working on her Masters in computer science at nearby R.P.I. We were renting the upstairs portion of an old, somewhat run-down house, sitting atop a small hill on the curiously named Hoosick Road. For all intents and purposes, it was just another Monday night. I was sitting in the living room, reading the last issue in the last volume of what was then the most recently released edition of Russ Cochran's lavish EC Library series, TWO-FISTED TALES. Lynn was in the bedroom, reading as well.

At eleven o'clock, I tuned in one of the local radio stations. Each week night, they'd play an entire record album over the air, start to finish. I'd invariably check to see what each night's selection was, and if I had any interest whatsoever, I'd roll tape, making a cassette of the free musical offering. Of course, you could only fit so much onto one of those tapes, so when it came time for the disc jockey to turn over the LP--and take a few moments to run a few commercials as well--I was sure to be at the ready, primed to hit "pause", waiting out the necessary but bothersome interruption.

That night, twenty-five years ago, the featured album was a two-record set, "Fleetwood Mac Live". I dutifully began recording it, and went back to my oversized, hardcover comic book. I honestly don't recall if it was after side one or side two, but I was in the midst of reading the very last story in the very last issue of TWO-FISTED TALES--a George Evans World War One aviation epic--when the side's last tune ended, but instead of coming on to run down the track listing and then cut away to some ads, the DJ began to speak in a voice that immediately indicated something was wrong, terribly wrong.

Well, if you're reading this, you probably already know what I'm talking about, don't you?

Twenty-five years ago this very day, John Lennon was murdered, and I found out about it during a break in a recorded Fleetwood Ma concert. Yeah, they went back to the record--what else could the poor guy do? I can't really blame him. He could barely speak. (And uh huh, I let the tape just run, but I've never been able to go back and listen to that horrendous announcement again in all the time since...)

I ran in to tell Lynn, but I honestly don't recall much of what happened after that. We were in shock, the both of us. I put down my EC volume, and didn't get back to actually finishing that story until several days later (and then, only just because). After the Fleetwood Mac album ran it's course, and the awful news had been irrevocably confirmed, the days and days of almost non-stop Lennon music playing on the radio began in earnest. I suppose I turned on the TV, but in those days, there weren't any 24 hour news channels. I'm sure I saw SOMETHING about this awful event on the tube that night, but I have absolutely no memory of it.

All I do remember after learning the news was just how terrible I felt--how terrible Lynn felt, how terrible we ALL felt. Oh, I know I'm over generalizing here--surely, there were people my age who weren't much affected by the news of this tragedy, but at the time, it sure didn't seem like it. Y'know, I was around to witness the joyful madness of early Beatlemania, and I've never seen anything like it in all the years since. Similarly, I've never quite seen anything like the massive generational group mourning that took place following the ex-Beatle's death either (there were some parallels in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, but so many additional factors--including fear, patriotism, and cold resolve--came into play there that I just can't comfortably compare the two situations).

When John Lennon was shot, it was like a bucket of ice-cold water was thrown into the faces of an entire generation, a generation that was totally unprepared for it. It was, unfortunately, the ultimate irony--the man who wrote "Give Peace A Chance" being killed senselessly.

It was, simply, awful awful awful.

That holiday season twenty-five years back wasn't a particularly joyous one. Oh, we all went through the motions, but it mostly a facade done for family. I do seem to recall that we were visiting Lynn's parents for New Year's Eve, but they had gone out to a party that night and left us to our own devices. "Yellow Submarine" was playing on TV, and so we turned it on. After the initial few days following Lennon's passing, I had soon found it increasingly difficult to listen to Beatles music, particularly the songs John himself sang lead. But that evening, opening a bottle of bubbly with my best buddy in the whole wide world, taking in the animated antics of those cute and clever cartoon not-quite-Beatles one more time somehow made for a bittersweet catharsis. The truth finally sank in. There would be no more Beatles--at least not in the future sense--so we had best learn to enjoy--and cherish--what we had. (Of course, who could've ever predicted "Free As A Bird" that glum holiday evening, an event that only weeks ago saw its own tenth anniversary? Not quite the same, though, now was it?...)

John Lennon's life had quite an impact on me. His death did as well. And now, somewhat amazingly, it's twenty-five years later. The rawness of the pain has long since dissipated, and I can happily listen to Lennon and the boys, and simply enjoy their astonishing artistry.

But I'd be lying if I said "In My Life" sounds the same today as it did twenty-five years and one day ago. Some things, sadly are changed forever, and not for the better...
August 11th, 2005
There are a lot of good reasons to subscribe to TV GUIDE:

Instead of shelling out nearly $2.50 for each weekly issue, the price drops all the way down to round abouts a quarter when you buy 'em in bulk.

Rather than having to brave the grocery store on Friday or Saturday--two of the busiest days in the foodstuffs biz, and NOT my preferred shopping days, but the earliest days that the newly reconfigured GUIDE (Sunday to Saturday, after decades of Saturday to Friday listings) goes on sale these days--I receive my copy in the mail usually on a Wednesday.

Yeah, those are the upsides of a TV GUIDE sub, but there are downsides, too...
Like, whenever they publish multiple covers of the Fab Four, it's inevitable that we subscribers are ALWAYS going to get the Ringo one!!

Make no mistake, folks--I LOVE Ringo! He's one of my four favorite Beatles.

But he's not my favorite.

Or my second favorite.

Third? Not usually, but depending on the quality of the alternative picture, maybe.

Look, if I'm at the supermarket, and I see a quartet of choices facing me, Ringo AIN'T gonna be the one I reach for! And even amongst my fellow Beatles fans, I don't think I'm alone. Still, the TV GUIDE people have to print up a certain number of Starr covers, and the best way to get rid of 'em?

Send 'em to the people who have no choice--us subscribers!

If the TV GUIDE braintrust was ever to offer up a series of "Bonanza" covers, I know who WE'RE getting...

Hop Sing.

(Incidentally, the long-time Cartwright cook's motto? "It don't come greasy", natch!...)
July 7th, 2005

"Don't look now, but I'm right behind you, old man..."
Less than a month after Beatle Paul turned 63, Beatle Ringo today flips his own personal calendar, ending year 64 and commencing year 65. You're the last two left, mates--here's wishing you both hang around for many, many more!!
June 18th, 2005
For a sixty-three year old with a white beard, he looks pretty good, don't he?..
Happy 63rd Birthday, Paul!

And just one more year until we all decide, will we still need you, will we still feed you, when you're 64?

(I wouldn't worry overmuch, Sir...)
March 30th, 2005
Presented for your consideration: further evidence (as if we really NEED it!!) that we members of that first generation of baby boomers hooked on Beatlemania are getting, well, OLD...

It happened yesterday when I was scanning the magazines racks at my local Barnes & Noble outlet. I already had the latest issues of MOJO and UNCUT firmly in my grasp, when I noticed an unfamiliar logo hovering above a VERY familiar visage!

There was our man Macca, gracing the cover of something called "GRAND"! Well, certainly, if there's anyone worthy of the appellation "Grand", it'd be Paul, so I'm figuring this publication must focus on all that is great, wonderful, and, um, GRAND in our culture! I then moved in closer to personally examine a copy.

THAT'S when I got myself a clearer look at the banner sub-heading running across the mag's top (I hadn't noticed it earlier--my eyes aren't what they used to be...):
Old! I'm feeling old, so very, VERY OLD!!

I hesitated for a moment, but ultimately, how could I POSSIBLY pass this up? Hey, I just HAD to read the accompanying article, "10 Reasons We STILL Love Paul McCartney" (set in big, readable type, natch!).

No, having his tours sponsored by Depends and taking his dentures out on stage to get a better pitch for his "Long Tally Sally " woos were NOT amongst the reasons cited. Mostly, it was stuff about his family and his relationships--plus (oh, yeah) all that good music he had a hand in.

I'm not a grandparent yet, but it's (coff coff) good to know that when I am, there'll be such a fine, fine magazine around to serve my needs! ("How To Be A Popular Grandparent"--say, isn't the answer to that ONE simply to spoil the little nippers rotten?...)

In the meantime, I'm sticking with MOJO, the latest issue of which ran the following photo of two of my personal idols--Ringo Starr and Stan Lee--conferring on the comics legend's plans to turn the drummer into an animated super-hero...
No word yet of any crossovers planned, teaming up the Super-Starr with Grand Ol' Paul to take on Magneto, Titanium Man, and The Crimson Dynamo, but we dual comics/Beatles fans can only hope we live so long!
February 22nd, 2005
Driving my daughter Julie to school this morning, I hastily grabbed my copy of "Ram" to listen to on the way home (on the way there, we listened to HER station, of course...), because, hey, can YOU think of a more bright and cheery way to greet the day?

So anyway, "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" comes piping through the speakers soon enough, and my thoughts turn once again--as they have nearly every time I've heard this popular Macca number in all the years since it was released back in 1971--to one man:

Herb Alpert.
That's right--the leader of the basically non-existent Tijuana Brass band, and--oh, yeah, let's not forget--the high exalted "A" of the "A&M" Record label. WHY does my mind drift towards the savvy horn-blowing record exec when the "Uncle Albert" ditty comes on? Simple. You know that little coronet/trumpet/whatever flourish that appears mid-song, as the tune takes yet another one of it's myriad shifts of mood and tempo? THAT'S Herb Albert!

Well, no, it's not. But it sure sounds like it COULD be.

Look, this whole crazy idea was put in my head not all that long after the second McCartney solo long-player was released to tremendous sales and airplay--especially the ever ubiquitous "Uncle Albert" single--but to a decidedly mixed (at best) critical reception. So, one day, there were these two disc jockeys yapping on the so-called progressive FM rock station I listened to back then, and after dutifully playing a track from "Ram', one fellow sarcastically "revealed" some of the LP's hidden secrets, chief amongst them being the brass solo Alpert took on the "Uncle Albert" number.

Why? Because McCartney was dissatisfied with his Apple contract, and was just counting the days until he could jump ship over to Alpert's company, A&M! And for further proof, this junior grade conspiracy theorist offered up not only the eerie similarity between the brass blower's surname and that of the subject of Paul's latest hit's first, he also pointed out that, as the ex-Beatles new boss, Herb would become an ersatz uncle of sorts to McCartney! Uncle Alpert!

Most tellingly, of course, was the name of the album itself: "Ram". You can't get much closer to "A&M" without giving away the ENTIRE scam, the fellow on the radio argued. Perhaps it was all a bit of cosmic payback to our Beatle friend--after all, Herb Alpert's breakthrough hit was The Tijuana Brass's recording of the standard, "A Taste Of Honey"--the very same standard most listeners last heard being sung by McCartney on the Beatles debut album, just a little over a year earlier!

It was all nonsense--and I knew it, the two DJs yammering away knew it, and I'm sure just about everybody else tuned in knew it. The truth is, it was clearly a discussion meant to mock Paul by connecting him the an icon of MOR music, and the whole, silly dialog was probably over in less than a minute, two tops. Nonetheless, from that point on, I was always struck by just how much that brief brass passage DOES actually sound like Herb Alpert! And so, because of those crackpot comments made during an inane conversation between two disembodied voices drifting out of my cheap portable radio, way back over thirty years ago now, because of THAT, I think of Herb Alpert EVERY TIME I've heard "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" played in the many years since!!

And now, if there's any justice in the world, maybe YOU will, too!

Heh, heh...
February 7th, 2005
For somebody who has zero interest in football, I was pretty excited about the Super Bowl yesterday. I think we all know WHY...

Not that I didn't find the week-long lead up to the event to be tediously patronizing--the whole, "THIS year, the NFL's half-time show won't be the focus of any sort of complaints regarding issues of taste. This year, Paul McCartney will be performing, and hey, you can't get much safer than THAT, can you?" This riff seemed to be repeated over and over in the press, and frankly, I found it mildly insulting.

Not that I expected to hear "Big Boys Bickering"--the "Off The Ground" era B-side concerning the irresponsibility of the world's leaders, ending with a memorably sing-songish refrain that, melodically, could've been lifted straight out of "Mary Had A Little Lamb", the wonderfully crass "F*cking it up for everyone" (which, coincidentally, in terms of the Super Bowl--and all of TV for that matter--Janet and Justin did just about a year ago). No, we weren't going to hear THAT (though I made a point of digging it out and piping it throughout the house several times as I waited for the games mid-point to arrive, but hey, that's just me...), and I wasn't counting on "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" to make Sir Paul's pre-vetted playlist either . (MSNBC's "Countdown" anchor Keith Olbermann even pointed out on Friday that it was highly unlikely that we'd be treated to a performance of the early Beatles classic, "I Saw Her Standing There", inasmuch as it's more than a little unseemly to consider the notion of a 62 year old man lusting after a 17 year old girl! Why not just get Roman Polanski to run the show if that's what they were looking for? And "Hi Hi Hi"? THAT was just plain OUT...

Which is why, under these odd set of expectations, Lynn and I both began to giggle when the opening strains of his second number. "Get Back", filled the air. "Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman, but she was just another man"? "California grass"? For decades, these lyrics meant little or nothing to me, just an example of Paul's occasional propensity of stringing nonsensical phrases together and calling it a song, but last night they took on a deeper meaning. Last night, they were the always accommodating McCartney's way of having his cake and eating it, too. After all, HOW could the Super Bowl Decency Committee possibly disapprove of such a massive Beatles hit? And at the same time, by gleefully singing lines concerning sexual ambiguity and drugs, Macca was able to tweak the bluenoses just a little, while still satisfying their Big Brother-like agenda! Nice job, old boy!

Overall, it was a typically super-charged performance, The stage was quite impressive, and the dazzling array of fireworks during "Live And Let Die"--the one number McCartney has apparently played at EVERY concert he has EVER done since the mid-seventies--was suitably spectacular, perfect for the venue. Personally, that song has never been one of my favorites, but due to its overly-dramatic nature, it's ALWAYS a guaranteed audience pleaser, so, once again, with the sing-songish chorus, the explosions, et al. Okay. Whatever.

I would've chosen "All My Loving" over "Drive My Car", but maybe, with the NASCAR season coming up shortly on Fox, Paul was cajoled into picking this number (probably not, but waiting for "The Simpsons" afterward, I actually DID see some famous driver try to lay claim to the song while bantering with the post-game analysts...). And since this wasn't the place for ballads--I really wasn't expecting "Yesterday" or "Let It Be", folks--I was still a bit surprised at the inclusion of "Hey Jude", mainly due its length. It DID fulfill the ballad quotient of the show, before building to its wonderfully unrestrained coda. In retrospect, it WAS the perfect set capper--even if the "Na Na NAA" segment was severely truncated, coming to a far quicker conclusion than usual. But not before good ol' Paul milked the audience's adoration of this anthem, resorting as ever to his hammy--and canned--"You were good, you were good, you were good..." bit.

No encores tonight. Didn't matter. Because, Sir Paul--YOU were good!

Say, if this sports thing catches on, you might consider treating the crowd at Shea Stadium to a few choice verses of "Meet The Mets" come this Opening Day, big fella!...
January 2nd, 2005
Not long after I initiated this special section devoted to the Fab Four here at the site, I put together a special feature that showcased as much of the initial good-natured guff given to the boys by America's then-thriving satire mag industry when Beatlemania swept up on these shores back in 1964 as I possibly could find.

Well, I THOUGHT I had gotten everything (or at least, everything in my own personal collection), but I was wrong. I found the below panel, credited to artist Jack Richard and writer--or maybe "organizer" would be a more truthful term--William Garvin, leading off a three page feature in MAD #92 (January 1965) entitled, "Shakespeare Up-To-Date"...
The rest of the article focused on carefully chosen Shakespeare quotes having a seeming relevance to such varied subjects as advertising, the telephone, contemporary entertainment, political ,and sports stars--and even MAD magazine itself!
But this is the only panel dealing with the proud sons of Liverpool, so that's all we have for you. I don't know about you folks, but that's as I like it!...

Funny thing, though--you get the impression that the fellow who carefully gathered these deathless lines together had every intention in using them to plain outright mock and demean what was still, at this very early juncture, mostly considered just another worthless teenage fad by a vast majority of adults.

But look closer at the artwork--not only does artist Rickard do more than a decent job capturing the group's individual caricatures with his unique style, but if anybody therein looks like a bunch of knuckleheads, it's the trio of extremely unappealing adults making with the sophisticated put-downs, NOT the cherubic foursome on the tube! Ha!

And, in the very selfsame issue, one also could've found the letters over to the right, highlighted by the still photo that captured that pivotal moment in "A Hard Day's Night" that gave all us MAD fans a special little thrill back when it unexpectedly flashed up there on the big screen.

If there had been ANY doubt, any doubt at all, that the Beatles weren't just the coolest thing going by July of '64, well, THAT paperback cover cameo erased all doubt!

To Beatle, or not to Beatle--after THAT, there was no question!...
December 5th, 2004
Y'see, they DIDN'T run moments one through four on their covers, but instead jumped around, seemingly at random to immortalize moments 16, 63, and 65, as well as the above designated tele-event number 5. My guess is that the editors felt that they wouldn't sell enough copies of the TV GUIDE if they plastered images of the Twin Towers collapsing or the Challenger exploding on their cover. And while it's certainly uplifting to see good ol' Neil Armstrong strolling the lunar surface or Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his most famous speech, uplifting doesn't always move the merchandise, sad to say.

No, the folks in charge instead dipped into the list and instead came up with the Lads, Princess Diana's nuptials, Elvis'1968 Comeback Special, and Kirk smooching Uhura.

Hmm-- a Beatles cover, a Princess Di cover, an Elvis cover, AND a "Star Trek"cover. Y'know, maybe they DIDN'T just grab these images at random after all? (And neither did I, easily leaving the other three covers behind as I happily grabbed this issue up to add to my already burgeoning Beatles collection!)

But really--number 5? That's ALL? I mean, that moonwalking thing was impressive and all, but...
November 16th, 2004
You know what would be REALLY dumb?

Buying a set of those carefully reconfigured Capitol Albums--and THEN popping one of 'em in the CD machine and hitting "Random Play"!!

(Almost as dumb as me falling for this bald-faced marketing ploy, I suppose, but yes, I bought me a set earlier this morning. What can I say--I'm weak. The fact that Best Buy had 'em going for $44.99--NOT cheap, true--instead of the sticker price, the one that'll stick come next Sunday, a whopping $59.00, was a key motivation! Hey, I wasn't blowing 45 bucks, people--I was saving 15!! At least, that's what I keep telling myself...)

Can't buy me love, indeed...
November 5th, 2004
Tuesday, November 2nd was going to be a big, big day--and no, I'm NOT just talking about that election. Beatles stuff was being released that day, y'see, so naturally, off I sped to my local Galleria first chance that presented itself that bright and sunny morning...

There was to be not merely one, but actually TWO new John Lennon CDs scheduled to be released that very day--as well as a George Harrison DVD! Whew! I knew I'd wind up with at least one of these, ahem, "new" items, and maybe even ALL of them--but a lot was riding on the pricing.

My local Best Buy outlet generally offers their, well, best buys the initial week a product hits the market. Sure enough, the "John Lennon Acoustic" collection was being offered for the reduced price of $11.99, so I quickly grabbed myself a copy. Besides being a bargain (of sorts), it was the "freshest" item of the three hitting the shelves that day. 16 tracks, 7 of which had never been released before--a must have item (and a must review item as well, a task for the near future, hopefully...).

The other Lennon CD was a bit more problematic--it was a rerelease of his mid-seventies "Rock and Roll" covers collection--the one Phil Spector worked on before stalking off midway through because, well, he's crazy--never one of my favorite solo Winston O' Boogie discs. And seeing as how I already have a copy, sweetening this new version with a paltry four bonus tracks (two of which have already appeared on the posthumous "Menlove Avenue" compilation, to boot) didn't entice me nearly enough to shell out an additional $14.99. Yup, no discount here. Maybe--MAYBE--had they marked this one down to $11.99 as well, Best Buy might've reeled me in, playing on my desperation, convincing me I'd never, ever see such a low price tag ever again. But as it was, no. Even the staunchest of Beatles fanatics have to know when to spend their money, and when to save it for the next, inevitable round of "new" releases.

Which brings us to George.

Y'know, I never did buy that "Dark Horse Years" set that came out several months back. I WANTED to, but considering I already owned four of the seven CDS included, I just couldn't bring myself to shell out what I considered to be the fairly outrageous price of $120.00 for a box of (decidedly uneven) goodies. Happily, six of the discs were going to be made available for separate purchase, but word was that the live in Japan double CD as well as a DVD collection of vintage video clips would ONLY be available to those buying the whole overpriced magilla.

Well, WHAT to do? I desperately wanted to buy those three missing albums, but I knew if I did that, I'd NEVER buy the box---and maybe I WANTED to buy the box, if only to have that elusive DVD (I already owned the concert disc) !?!. So, instead I did nothing at all--and THEN the news came in Beatlefan magazine a few weeks back, news that would ultimately free me (and, as it turned out, annoy me big time as well): the DVD was being released on its very own! Now I could finally purchase those trio of stragglers without concern for missing out on the video package! AND I was incredibly glad that I didn't shell out the big bucks months earlier, under the misinformed notion that that would indeed my only shot at said item (and, oh yeah--last week I saw that Japan disc all by its lonesome hanging out in the new-fangled SACD section of the store, so, so much for ITS inaccessibility as well!!).

Sure enough, Best Buy had several copies of the Dark Horse DVD in stock, but the asking price was $22.99. What IS it with the Harrison caretakers? Okay, maybe that's not WAY out of whack, but considering I purchased the Stones "Rock and Roll Circus" DVD a few weeks back for $15.99, it's clearly no bargain either. So I mulled it over for a few minutes and came to a compromise-like decision: my brother-in-law, Bob, has been pestering me to tell him what he can get me for Christmas. Well, I decided, THIS would do it. He'll be happy to get me something I truly want, and I'll be happy to once again avoid being shaken down by George's business people.

Instead, I figured I'd take the bucks I'd planned to drop on the DVD and scoop up at least one of those missing Harrison CDs--which was a great idea, save for the fact that none of the three I needed were currently in stock. Oh well, I've waited this long to listen to "Here Comes The Moon" anew--maybe NEXT week.

Best Buy also has a very limited book department, so my next thought was to see if they had any copies of Ringo's "Postcards From The Boys" (yes, I have a one-track mind at times, no denying it...). This was an item I'd been meaning to pick up for the last few weeks, but they didn't have any. Worry not, though--I bought a copy later that same day at a Barnes and Noble stop over (review to follow? Could happen...)

John. George. Even Ringo. In this flurry of solo Fabs shopping, there was only one area left unexamined--the McCartney bin. Oh sure, I knew for a fact that Macca had nothing new on the docket that day, but still, I felt the need to give his section of shelf space at least a cursory once over.

And THIS is what I found...
Uh huh. They cut down our man Paul's available on-floor catalog to a measly five CDs! FIVE!

Now, I'm sure the rest are socked away safely somewhere in the backroom, just waiting for their inevitable return to the light of day after this kid either sells through or tanks totally, whichever comes first! It just doesn't seem right somehow, is all, but I suppose it's just a sign of the changing of the guard--kinda like how the Lennon Sisters must've felt when their LPs were shunted aside in favor of "Plastic Ono Band": and "Imagine"...

(Oh, and in case you don't know, this 17 year old kid is no actual relation to the Beatle, but as best I can determine, might very well be the only other McCartney to make any sort of impact in show biz. Y'see, not only is this Jesse's SECOND album, he's already had a long and successful career as a child actor. Lynn and I in fact watched him for years when he played the role of Adam Chandler Junior on the daytime drama "All My Children" (all right, all right--I admit it: we watch a soap. Control yourselves--it's not THAT funny!...)

He held down the role of the conflicted offspring of uber tycoon Adam Chandler (played with deservedly multi-Emmy-winning panache by the great David Canary for near two decades now) from 1998 until 2001, ages 11 through 14, copping an Emmy nomination in the Younger Actor category during his last year. (He didn't win) And though never written as a pivotal plot point, he was also a part-time member of an amateur band on the show, and even got to sing a number once. Oddly enough, though, the two (substantially older) actors who followed him as JR Chandler have totally ignored the character's musical side. But I suppose when you grow a foot taller and age about five years overnight, losing your vocal chops is the least of it, y'know?)

Anyway, though this McCartney is no neophyte, I was relieved to see a modicum of reason prevail later that morning over at Barnes and Noble, as their music department sported a mere trio of Macca Junior CDs, while an even dozen of the elder's rich and varied catalog was still proudly on display. It was comforting to know, as the warm rays of the sun crept in through the windows overhead, that certain things still made sense.

Come the evening, that feeling wouldn't last nearly long enough...

October 9, 2004

Today would've been John Lennon's 64th birthday, and one can just imagine his mate Paul ringing him up,singing a very special--and very familiar--little ditty over the phone to his erstwhile collaborator, marking the occasion in a decidedly Fab fashion.

But, as we're all too well aware, that's not the way things were destined to play out. Such a shame...

Happy birthday to you, John, and for the 23rd consecutive October 9th, sad birthday to the rest of us, your many, many admirers.

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