Saturday, May 22, 2021

Free Kicks

Friday, May 21, 2021

El Tappe

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dylan reviews the covers of his songs

 Stumbled onto this great blog. Here are a few samples below, but there are many more at the link...

Bruce Springsteen – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Live at MusiCares)

“Incredible! He did that song like the record, something I myself have never tried. I never even thought it was worth it. Maybe never had the manpower in one band to pull it off. I don’t know, but I never thought about it. To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten how the song ought to go. Bruce pulled all the power and spirituality and beauty out of it like no one has ever done. He was faithful, truly faithful to the version on the record, obviously the only one he has to go by. I’m not a nostalgic person, but for a second there it all came back, Peckinpah, Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado, James Coburn, the dusty lawless streets of Durango, my first wife, my kids when they were small. For a second it all came back … it was that powerful. Bruce is a deep conscientious cat and the evidence of that was in the performance. He can get to your heart, my heart anyway.” (2015 Q&A, Bill Flanagan)

Guns ‘n’ Roses – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

“Guns n’ Roses are OK. Slash is OK. But there’s something about their version of that song that reminds me of the movie Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. I always wonder who’s been transformed into some sort of a clone, and who’s stayed true to himself. And I never seem to have an answer.” (1991 interview with Eduardo Bueno)

Johnny Rivers – Positively 4th Street

“Of all the versions of my recorded songs, the Johnny Rivers version of ‘Positively 4th Street’ was my favorite. It was obvious that we were from the same side of town, had been read the same citations, came from the same musical family and were cut from the same cloth. I liked his version better than mine. Most of the cover versions of my songs seem to take them out into left field somewhere, but Rivers’ version had the mandate down; the attitude and melodic sense to complete and surpass even the feeling that I had put into it. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though. He had done the same thing with ‘Maybellene’ and ‘Memphis,’ two Chuck Berry songs. When I heard Johnny sing my song, it was obvious that life had the same external grip on him as it did me.” (Chronicles)

Davey Martinez

Former Cub player and coach Davey Martinez did a great Lou Piniella impersonation last night...

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The WHA Finals


Free Excerpt from “Your Dime, My Dance Floor”: The WHA Finals…in Mt. Prospect?

This week in 1974, the WHA Finals were held in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Among the players in that game, the great Gordie Howe. Chet Coppock told this unlikely story in his Eckhartz Press book “Your Dime, My Dance Floor.” Today we present that chapter as a free excerpt to celebrate the anniversary…

Chet Cover - Your Dime My Dance Floor

Faceoff at the Mall: Gordie Howe and the suburban Chicago Shopping Center Championship

On May 12, 1974, the history-rich Chicago Cougars began play for the Avco Cup, gem of the World Hockey Association championship series, against Gordie Howe and the Houston Aeros at the Randhurst Twin Ice Arena in northwest suburban Mount Prospect.

                You see, Cathy Rigby and her production of “Peter Pan” had taken over the Cougars home ice at the International Amphitheatre.

                So, why didn’t the Cougs work Chicago Stadium?

                Please…the Wirtz family would have welcomed the Viet Cong into the old barn on West Madison St. before they’d allow the rival-league Cougars to play in their gym.

                This was one fascinating ride. I did public address for the Cougars the first two years they were in business. My location was on the 50-yardline, ice level, between the two benches at the Amphitheatre.

                Is it gross to say I could feel the sweat? 

                We go back to 1972. I was running a heavy schedule doing the roller derby and working as a staff announcer at WFLD-Channel 32 when I got a call from out of the blue line. Mike Haggerty, the first P.R. man for the Cougars, wanted to know if I had any interest in doing the club’s public address.

Naturally, I did. So, Mike and I put a deal together in roughly 30 seconds. I was paid 50 bucks a game with four free tickets between the blue lines and free dinner at the make-shift press room at the Stock Yard Inn.

                Tickets were the simplest issue. I probably could have asked for and been given 20 boards a game. Gourmet note”: “The Stock,” which adjoined the Amphitheatre, had the greatest brown gravy I have ever tasted. I was crushed when the place finally went dark.

                The Cougars had a tough road to hoe. The Blackhawks – with Bobby, Stan and Tony O plus Billy Reay behind the bench – owned Chicago. I’d want a recount if any game the Hawks played from 1962-72 wasn’t a complete sellout. 

                The Cougars’ first year in business had about 14 lows for every high.

                The club needed a general manager. I thought for certain they would hire a veteran NHL scout or maybe some recently retired player with a wide smile who’d look good in front of the TV cameras.

Try this. The Cougars hired Eddie Short, the ex-general manager of the Chicago White Sox, to run the personnel end of the program. It was a ridiculous move by a bunch of guys who didn’t know a hockey puck from a broom stick. When I think of Eddie during the Cougars first season, I see him sitting on the pavilion level at the west end of the building, shoulders slouched, looking bored beyond words.

                Eddie understood middle-inning relief and the drag bunt but line changes were lost on him. Still, it was a payday. Eddie was also a big presence at the pre-game bar.

                Round one: The club had to have a coach. So, somebody recommended to Jordan and Walter Kaiser, the team owners, that they hire former NHL tough guy Marcel Pronovost to make the line changes. Marcel brought cred. He’d played 20 NHL seasons, gone to 11 All-Star games and played on five Stanley Cup winners.

                I’ll never forget the local press conference to introduce Pronovost, a media contingent that probably figured the WHA wouldn’t last a season. Jordan Kaiser welcomed “Marcel Pro-VO-Nost” as the new boss of his embryonic franchise. Hey, Kaiser only missed by one or two vowels.

                Pronovost was stuck with a roster of has-beens, wanna-bes and castoffs. However, Marcel had a gopher to help him cure his Cougar blues.  A diminutive guy named “Paco” followed the coach around all over Chicago. It was fairly common knowledge Paco (no one knew his last name) would bring his boss a bottle of booze after every practice. Hey, if I’d had to coach that club, I would have been dead drunk seven days a week.

                The Cougars debuted on home ice in October 1972 against the Winnipeg Jets. The bout was supposed to put the Cougars on the map because they would be facing Bobby Hull, a huge name for the WHA to land. Take note: There never would have been a WHA if the league’s owners hadn’t anted up to pay Bobby $1 million in bonus money to jump from the Blackhawks to join the upstarts.

                One small issue emerged. The Wirtz family, staring at the loss of 610 career goals and the greatest single box-office attraction in hockey history, was fighting with loaded eight-ounce gloves in court to keep Bobby off the ice.

                The Hawks managed to get a restraining order against Hull to play in that coming-out party at the Amphitheatre. However, the charismatic left wing was in the building and provided me with a moment that was really an absolute knockout punch.

                After welcoming the fans to this “Great night of history,” I began introducing the Winnipeg Jets – half of whom could have been in witness protection on either side of Frostbite Falls.

                After I’d cleared the roster I went for the high note. I teased the crowd by saying, “Would you fans like to see the most electric hockey player the game has ever known?…Would you like to see ‘The Golden Jet?’” As the crowd noise reached a crescendo, I then roared into the microphone, “Let’s welcome ‘The Chicago Comet,’ Robert Marvin “Bobby” Hull!!!”

                My god, the crowd noise was overwhelming. It was far and away the most electric wave of sound I ever heard in the Amphitheatre, topping the Rolling Stones doing “Gimme  Shelter” in 1971 or Dick the Bruiser pinning Baron Von Raschke in 1970.

                This crowd, just shy of a full house, gave Bobby a sustained cheer underpinned by appreciation and love. In fact, the cheering was about two minutes old when Ed Grusin, our marketing director, came running down in my direction. Eddie, his face a bright shade of red, said, “For god’s sakes will you introduce our guys? This isn’t ‘The Bobby Hull Show.’”

                So, with Bobby still on the ice, I followed through on Grusin’s command. I told the fans to    “Welcome your Chicago Cougars!”

                That didn’t play very well, as if I was announcing Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme would be filling in for the Stones that night. The fans booed my announcement like I’d just announced an increase in real estate taxes.

                I’ll never forget Ted Damata, the Tribune’s hockey writer, noting the following day that the “booming voice” of Chet Coppock had helped make the arrival of Bobby Hull into a special event. However, Damata noted, “Coppock was jeered when he dared to introduce the home team.”

                So, the Cougars came swirling out, looking a little glum. There was NHL bad boy and former Blackhawks blue liner Reggie Fleming along with 17 guys you wouldn’t know if they showed up at your local bowling alley.

                Reggie was a great fan favorite. The guy fought like crazy, usually for no reason. In fact he was involved in the best brawl I ever saw at Chicago Stadium. 

                Around 1965 or so, after Reggie had been swapped to the Boston Bruins, he dropped the gloves with Johnny “Pieface” McKenzie, a member of the Blackhawks, on a Sunday night in front of the visitor’s bench. Keep in mind, this was the old six-team NHL, when guys fought until they dropped. McKenzie and Reggie looked like Round One of the historic Hearns-Hagler fight. Unofficially, Reggie left the ice with five face cuts.

                Who or what was your typical Cougar?

                I’d go with Lawrence Louis Henry “Hank” Cahan.

                Hank, with gray hair and a face that had seen the losing end of far too many scrums, was almost 40 when he signed with the Cougars. His career began in 1949 with the legendary Fort Williams Hurricanes and ended at the Amphitheatre almost a quarter of a century later.

                The Cougars were a doormat during their first season. After the opening night gala with Hull (he stayed 90 minutes after the game to sign autographs), attendance died a slow death while the club flopped its way from town to town. The “Kaiser Wonders” ended the year with 54 points – 26 wins, 50 losses and 2 ties.

                We had our share of strange occurrences. About 20 games in, Fleming was out with an injury and also mad at the world. After yet another home-ice loss, Fleming went searching for ex-NHL referee Vern Buffey, who was the WHA’s supervisor of officials.

                When Reggie got to his man, he got in Buffey’s face and began complaining about lousy officiating. Verne’s response was a little bit quirky. I can still see him yelling at Fleming, “Take it easy Reggie. When you’re losing even the beer is warm.”

                Reggie was so miffed by Buffey’s retort that he had to be restrained by about a half dozen people. Apparently, “The Ruffian” thought Buff was calling him a drunk.

                In the category of clock management, the Cougars were not only bad, they we mystifying. At least a half dozen times during third periods, our game clock would suddenly drop from about 17 minutes down to 14.                 (Pssst: Our stats crew just figured that the hockey was so melted-ice poor, why not close shop early and head across South Halsted St. to Schaller’s Pump?) If anybody noticed, nobody said a word, least of all the coaches and players.

                The Cougars, bleeding red ink, survived year one and added some punch for their second season. Pat “Whitey” Stapleton, the former Blackhawks defenseman, was brought in as player-coach.

He was backstopped on the bench by youthful French-Canadian Jacques Demers. Jacques and I became good friends a few years later when he was coaching the WHA Indianapolis Racers and I was working at WISH-TV in Indy. In 1992-93, Jacques reached the apex when he led the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup title.

                That second season was uneventful. The league just didn’t have the depth of talent. Keep in mind, the NHL had gone nuts and added six new teams in 1967, so the pickings for top pro hockey talent were about as long as a walk from my condo bedroom to my condo guest bedroom.

                The Cougars won 38 games in their second trip around the WHA. But then they caught fire in the playoffs. Sometimes, just one goal can propel a team to a whole new level. Two games into their opening playoff series against the New England Whalers, the Cougars were down, 0-2.

                But, call the script writers. In Game Three, Ralph Backstrom scored an overtime goal that became the jolt that lifted the Cougars to a 4-3 upset series win.  The Cougars then advanced through the semis by beating the Toronto Toros, who just a year earlier had been the Ottawa Nationals. For the record, Chicago prevailed four games to three.

                Now, here’s the reason we gathered. This was so bizarre that I sometimes ask myself if it was all a hoax.

                The Cougars were going to the WHA Finals versus Gordie Howe, his sons Mark and Marty and their Houston Aeros. There was a somewhat significant issue. The Cougars didn’t have an arena. As I mentioned up top, gymnast Cathy Rigby was doing her Peter Pan routine at the Amphitheatre, so Cougars management began to scout for a new location.

                They considered Milwaukee, which would have been a box-office nightmare. The Chicago Stadium was out. The proposed arena in Rosemont was still merely a glint in the eye of ambitious Mayor Don Stephens. Finally, the team threw up its hands and told the world that the club was going to play in Mount Prospect at the Randhurst Twin Ice Arena.

                You’re right. There was something strange, almost funny, about Gordie Howe – the most complete hockey player in the game’s history – playing for a championship in a shopping center.

My P.A. position was rather unusual. I sat on a catwalk above the arena and couldn’t make any announcements on goals without some guy running up to give me a note to cover the goal scorer and the players who’d assisted.

                This wasn’t the Windy City. This was hockey in a mall. The arena only held about 1,200 people and I’m not sure Games One and Two even sold out.

                I do know the series ended about five minutes into the first period of the opener. That’s when Gordie, skating at mid-ice, whacked “Moose” Mavety, a Cougars defensemen, with an elbow that could be felt in the control tower at O’Hare.

                Mav went down like he’d been hit by a rushing Black Friday shopper. The party was over. The Aeros won the treasured Avco Cup in four games.

                Ask yourself this: How many guys can say they did P.A. for a championship hockey series involving a legend like Gordie Howe in a shopping center?

                I bid farewell to the Cougs after that second year. I couldn’t take a third season of junior varsity hockey. Yet, there are some bright memories: conversations with legendary referee Bill Friday, getting to know Gordie and working with a great crew at ice level.

                It was a trip, a short, strange trip, but after all these years, I can honestly say I’d do it again.

Why not? How can you not miss the Alberta Oil Kings, the New York Raiders and the Philadelphia Blazers? Not to forget the majestic Cleveland Crusaders.

                On second thought, I can honestly say I’d run like hell the other way if the WHA ever made a comeback and called.

Gary Colabuono

RIP Charles Grodin

He passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Loved Charles. This is my favorite role of his...


Greg Brown


My old friend Greg Brown is retiring on Friday from WLS-FM. We worked together for several years at WJMK. He was on the air right after the Landecker show, so I saw Greg every day. We called him "Starchy Bunker" because he always wore a nicely starched shirt. Great career, Greg. Congratulations! (I've previously interviewed him twice, once for Chicago Radio Spotlight: Once for Illinois Entertainer:

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Wicker Park Wishes

 Introducing our latest book and author: Wicker Park Wishes by Margaret Larkin. Available for pre-order beginning today!

Chicago Radio Ratings

Thanks to Robert Feder for the info...

1. WVAZ 102.7-FM R&B, 6.9 (6.3)
2. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 6.3 (6.2)
3. WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 5.6 (5.7)
4. WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 5.1 (4.7)
5. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 4.9 (4.7)
6. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 4.1 (4.2)
7. WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.0 (4.4)
8. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.6 (3.6)
9. WGN 720-AM news talk, 3.4 (3.5)
10. WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 3.2 (3.2)
11. (tie) WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip-hop, 2.8 (2.9); WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 2.8 (3.1)
13. (tie) WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 2.7 (2.5); WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.7 (2.4)
15. WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 2.6 (2.4)
16. WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 2.5 (2.5)
17. WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 2.3 (2.2)
18. WUSN 99.5-FM country, 2.2 (2.6)
19. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM hip-hop, 2.0 (2.2); WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.0 (1.8)
21. WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 1.9 (2.3)
22. WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 1.8 (1.8)
23. WCHI 95.5-FM rock, 1.5 (1.7)
24. (tie) WLS 890-AM news talk, 1.4 (1.5); WPWX 92.3-FM hip-hop, 1.4 (1.5)
26. WMBI 90.1-FM Christian ministry, 1.2 (1.0)
27. (tie) WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.1 (0.9); WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.1 (1.1)
29. (tie) WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian music, 0.8 (0.8); WXLC 102.3-FM hot adult contemporary, 0.8 (0.4)

Monday, May 17, 2021

On this date in 1979

Minutia Men

Bob Boone

 Just posted on the Eckhartz Press blog...

Q&A with Eckhartz Press Author Bob Boone


Bob Boone has led a very interesting life. To give you a glimpse into his depth of experience (professional and life), we caught up with Bob on the eve of the release of his latest book, City U. Eckhartz Press is proud to add this collection of short stories to our ever growing list.


You’ve previously written so many things, including a memoir, a great biography of Hack Wilson, a bunch of textbooks, and now this book–your third book of short stories. How is this one similar or different than your previous two short story collections?

Bob: Like FOREST HIGH, this collection of stories features characters and situations that are especially common in schools. Schools are busy places — full of people who find themselves in complicated situations. These are situations that matter deeply to those involved. In FOREST HIGH, the situations involve high school students and high school teachers. At City U, we find older students, returning students, foreign students, career counselors, parttime instructors, and many other folks with complicated lives.

What is it about the short story format that appeals to you, as opposed to more long-form writing like your memoir or Hack Wilson book?

Bob: I like to read novels and long pieces of non-fiction. I like to read books for kids. I like biographies and long novels. I like thrillers and mysteries.

      I like all of those, but I especially love the short story. It’s my favorite form. I read and reread short stories. I read for enjoyment but also for inspiration. If a story works, for me I want to keep reading to find out why it works so well. I’ve read “Hair Cut” by Ring Lardner dozens of times and I do the same thing with stories by Alice Munro, Bernard Malamud, Anton Chekhov, and other great writers.,

         Now I’m reading and rereading “Babes in the Wood” by Margaret Atwood and asking myself what does she do to make it work so well?

These all take place at a city college, and that seems like an obvious choice for a college teacher like yourself. How many of the characters (without naming names) from your stories are inspired by the actual people you meet in school?

Bob: My characters are not based specifically on particular people that I know from the schools. But people I know from the schools stick in my mind and give me ideas for my characters. I “know” the people I have invented – their dreams, memories; concerns; secrets; disappointments; opportunities; fear.

     I know a guy like Clarence – a self-described expert who takes himself a little too seriously. I know athletes who returned their scholarships and older teachers who fought their way past booze and teachers who lost that battle.

In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama presented you with an award for your work with kids in the city. Tell us a little more about that. It sounds like an exciting experience.

Bob: Visiting the White House was both satisfying and exciting because Young Chicago Authors, a program I had helped start, would be receiving an award for our work with young writers from the city.

      It was also hectic. A YCA student and I flew to Washington DC in the morning. We took a cab to the hotel, and then, along with the fifteen other recipients, attended a meeting, where we learned what we were to do and when to do it.

      That evening, we attended a dinner and a program at the Kennedy Center. The next morning, we went by a bus to the White House. We filed  into the lobby, where two Marines led us to a small auditorium.

       We sat down in designated seats and before long the First Lady appeared. She welcomed us and congratulated us, and then asked us to come up one at a time with our student. She read a short description of each organization and the reasons for its receiving an award. She presented each us with a plaque and then posed with us for a photo.

     Before long, we were back on the bus and soon after that, on a plane flying back to Chicago.

       Quite short, but long enough to leave a lasting memory

You’ve been in the Chicago area for a long time now, but you’ve also lived in New York and Germany. How does this city and its inhabitants inspire your work?

Bob: Since the late 70s, when I left regular teaching to become a freelance teacher, I have been all around the city. I ran a writing program at Avalon Park, I offered SAT/ACT programs for basketball players at Marshall High School and dozens of other high schools, I directed writing workshops at De Paul and Columbia College, I taught creative writing in the Seminar Sessions at Payton High School. And every Friday morning for several years, I drove down to Hubbard High School to help teach a class.

     Often one place led to another. In 1985 I went to Avalon Park for a Creative Writing program for basketball players. Someone from Cabrini Green heard about this and invited me to come to the projects. I did and from that I got the idea for YCA.

      And I’m not through yet.