This was posted today on the Eckhartz Press blog, The Studio Walls...
Friday, February 19, 2021
I really get a kick out of these stories of what people are really like, and the best way to tell that is by how they treat the little people. The Washingtonian has a great piece (click here to read all of it) about how the staff at the Trump Hotel in Washington had to treat the Trumps. It's very detailed, but I think this is my favorite part...
Thursday, February 18, 2021
One of the most memorable moments of John Landecker’s radio career was his interview with John Travolta during the heyday of Travolta’s popularity. On John Travolta’s birthday, it seems like an appropriate day to feature this excerpt from Landecker’s book .
It was a big thrill for me to talk to Tubes lead singer Fee Waybill about his songs (Talk to You Later, She's a Beauty), his crazy stage show (Motorcycles & chainsaws), his new album (Fee Waybill Rides Again), and his hero Jimi Hendrix. https://t.co/bngAdSsg5x #Tubes #FeeWaybill— Rick Kaempfer (@RickKaempfer) February 18, 2021
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
THE SWEETEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
By Bill Holub
“Pitchers and catchers report”.
These are indeed the sweetest words in the English language. Friends have been hearing me recite this every year at this time. I once had an old poker playing friend who used to say the sweetest words have always been “I’ll play these”. This is the same friend who couldn’t win even when dealt a pat hand. That however is a story for another time and place, where an explanation of the relationship between the quantity of beer consumed, what the cards in your hand really look like and the amount of money you bet can be fully explored. It’s really something scientists should be looking at.
In the meantime, I apologize to all those who came here looking for a sentimental dialogue on romance. I’m sorry to say it but the sweetest words in the English language are not “I love you”. Now that I think of it, this may instead be a sentimental dialogue on romance and baseball.
It’s funny how the two always converge around Valentine’s Day. Spring fever is referred to as that time of year when things start to bloom as the weather changes and love is in the air. It is no coincidence that this is the same time the baseball season opens and brings hope to all of us diehard baseball romantics.
My love affair with baseball was re-ignited in 1987-88. There was only one place to catch baseball highlights from all over the major leagues back then. Once a week you could tune in to “This Week In Baseball” with good ol’ Mel Allen. During those two seasons I was hooked into witnessing two West Coast baseball Gods embodied in the forms of a young Mark Mcgwire and Jose Canseco. This is before anyone had ever heard of andro, anabolics and the other chemical cocktails that have since cast a pall over these two. Back then, I was treated week in and week out to mammoth sized home runs flying out of every ballpark in the country. The fact that these home runs were being hit by players wearing what my brother and I had always considered the coolest looking baseball uniforms in the world (the Oakland A’s green and gold) had me embracing the game I grew up on all over again.
By 1989 I was so hooked on this game I even started collecting baseball cards again, although as much as an investor as a fanboy. I also started another nasty habit that impacts my life to this day. That is when I started a fantasy baseball league with a bunch of guys at work. 1989 also happened to be a division winning season for my beloved Cubs, so I was in baseball heaven and haven’t looked back since.
THE NATIONAL PASTIME
I think we can honestly say that baseball is no longer the national pastime in this country. It has been supplanted by football. I can accept that. Although I would insist the true national pastime is gambling, which is the driving force that makes football the number one spectator sport in America. I suppose I could go off on a George Carlin type of rant here on the differences between football and baseball, but that’s not why I’m writing this piece.
I just want to point out there is one major difference between the two and that is commitment. I’m talking about the commitment between baseball fans and football fans. Football is a four month season requiring your undivided attention one day a week, or two if you’re both a college and pro fan. Baseball is a six month season requiring your undivided attention throughout with your favorite team(s) playing as many as five or more games a week.
Baseball is a commitment. I believe it carries as much of a commitment as love. They both require dedication and attention. They can both go awry despite the best laid plans. An early swan dive in the standings in May that ends a team’s season before it even had a chance can be just as painful as not having your phone calls returned after the second or third date. Meanwhile an October champagne shower celebrating a pennant or World Series championship is as sweet and memorable as a ‘yes’ to a question posed on one knee.
BASEBALL AND THE CINEMA
Once that warm baseball is back feeling starts sinking in every year, I like to get fully immersed by throwing myself into my favorite baseball movies before the games actually begin. This is my form of spring training.
You’ve got your “Bull Durham”, “Field Of Dreams”, “Major League” (only the first one, please), but there is one movie that hits me in the right spot. “City Slickers” is not a real baseball movie per se, but there’s one scene that remains among my all-time favorites. It’s where the three friends (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby) are on the cattle drive and passing the time by discussing their favorite baseball memories. Billy Crystal remembers the first time his father took him to Yankee Stadium as a kid and how he had never seen grass that green before. Mickey Mantle even hit a home run that day. Daniel Stern recalls how growing up he and his father never saw eye to eye, but they could always talk about baseball with each other. “We always had baseball” he says.
As for me, one of my earliest baseball memories was getting to take the day off of school with my brother because my Dad got opening day tickets to Wrigley Field. I still remember wearing our warmest winter coats and knit hats, waiting to sit down while the Andy Frain usher brushed the snow off our seats. They don’t make Aprils in Chicago like that any more.
THE SWEETEST SOUND
There is a sound that accompanies the words “pitchers and catchers report”. It is the sound of a ball popping into a mitt. The sound of a simple game of catch. It is more than the crack of a bat sound. The sound of a mitt popping brings the memories and feelings of a lifetime of baseball flooding your senses all at once. It happens every time, whether it’s major leaguers or just a game of catch with your dad or your kid. The week pitchers and catchers report there are no cracking bats, only popping mitts. The sweetest sound in the world. “Pitchers and catchers report”. The sweetest words in the English language.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Monday, February 15, 2021
I wrote this piece about 15 years ago, but I think it still resonates on Valentine's Day...
I’ve been told that everybody in America knows the ground rules of Valentine’s Day. Even though it’s supposedly a holiday for lovers, the responsibility for a gift is strictly a one-way proposition. The man is expected to get the woman a gift, and the woman is expected to receive that gift.
I never bought that concept and I thought my wife didn’t either. She and I agreed not to get each other anything for Valentine’s Day shortly after we were married, and I fully intended on keeping my end of the bargain. Every February 14th I headed home from the office without giving it a second thought. On my way out the door, however, a female colleague would inevitably chastise me.
A typical exchange would go something like this:
“What did you get your wife for Valentine’s Day?”
“She said she didn’t want a gift,” I would say.
“Trust me,” the woman would reply, “She’s only saying that because she doesn’t want to sound greedy.”
“Listen to me,” she would say, “If you don’t bring home a Valentine’s gift, you’re a dead man. It’s like you’re saying that you don’t appreciate all she does for you.”
Even though I was pretty sure I understood my wife better than someone who didn’t know her at all, I started doubting myself. Who understands a woman better than another woman, right? Just to hedge my bets I would end up stopping at the store to pick something up for my wife.
And every year she got mad at me when I handed her the gift.
“I thought we agreed not to buy each other anything?” she would say.
“Did you really mean that?” I would ask.
“Of course I did. I said it, didn’t I?”
The next day when I told the woman in my office about my wife’s reaction, she explained that my wife was obligated to be mad at me to save face.
“That makes no sense,” I would say.
“Did she give you the traditional gift?” she asked coyly.
“She didn’t get me anything.”
“Not even the (wink) traditional gift?”
“There’s a traditional gift for a man?” I asked.
She winked again.
Oooooh. I get it. I’m slow, but I’m not that slow.
“Those are the ground rules?” I asked.
She nodded. “Everybody knows that.”
I never told my wife about these conversations because I didn’t want to believe that she was really a totally different person beneath the surface, pretending to communicate with me using the traditional method (the English language), while actually integrating a devious subtext I was too dense to recognize. If that was true, my whole world would have been built on a series of false assumptions.
I chose to bury my head comfortably in the sand. It was for the best, really.
But this year, I decided to test the theory. After all, things have changed completely in our house. I’m the one at home now, and she’s the one driving home from the office on February 14th. I figured with this new arrangement I would finally get to the bottom of this mystery.
I did my part. I made a big point of reminding my wife not to get me anything. I was adamant.
“I mean it. Don’t me get me anything or I’ll be mad.”
“OK,” she said.
I tried to read her eyes. Was she worried? Was she thinking that I was now employing the traditional devious subtext? I couldn’t tell, but then again, maybe I had been wrong about everything for twenty years. My instincts were not to be trusted.
So what did she do?
She didn’t get me anything. I can’t decide if this vindicates me, or if she just doesn’t appreciate all I do for her.
Post script: This year, after a full year of being in the same house all day and all night every single day, we celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday by not mentioning it.