It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me


Yes, I took the title of this article from Billy Joel’s song of the same name.  He will be mentioned later because this article is about… The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It is located in Cleveland, Ohio. Why there?  Usually, the reason given   is: a Cleveland disc jockey named Alan Freed first used that term to describe the music he favored in the early 1950s.


The Hall was established in 1983 and its home was chosen in 1986.  It documents the history of rock and roll and has inducted its finest artists into the Hall every year from 1986 to 2018.  Don’t worry, I won’t list everyone so honored.  But, for those interested, Google does so under “List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.”  It is a wonderful walk down memory lane.


Here are some Rock and Roll questions whose answers you may already know.  The first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction class (1986) contained 10 people.  How many can you name?  Take a guess before reading further.  If you are my age, you may surprise yourself with how many names you know. If you are younger than me, I’m appropriately envious –and I think you will still get some answers correct.


Answers = Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino (his song, Blueberry Hill, was the first 45 record I bought), The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Elvis Presley.  Here is a wonderful footnote: Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” represented Rock and Roll music on the gold disc sent aboard Voyager 1 which is still traveling at 38,000 mph.

Who was the first woman inducted into the Hall?  In 1987, she was Aretha Franklin.

What 2 groups have the most songs in the Hall’s  list referred to as “The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll?”  The Beatles and The Rolling Stones with 8 songs each.


Among the inductees that made me smile as I read their names have been:  1987  (Bill Haley and Marvin Gaye); 1988(The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Drifters –I’m revealing my age, Bob Dylan, and The Supremes);  1989  (Dion, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, and Stevie Wonder);  1990 (The Platters, Simon and Garfunkel,);  1991 (Ike and Tina Turner –remember Thunderdome);  1992  (Johnny Cash);  1993 (Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers);  1994 (The Band, Duane Eddy, Elton John, John Lennon);  1995 (Janis Joplin, Neil Young); 1996 (David Bowie);  1997 (Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Joni Mitchell);  1998 (Eagles, Santana);  1999 (Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, The Staple Singers);  2000 (Eric Clapton,  Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor);  2001 (Michael Jackson, Queen, Paul Simon);  2002 (Brenda Lee);  2004 (George Harrison, Bob Seger); 2008 (Leonard Cohen);  2011 (Neil Diamond, Dr. John);  2012 (The Comets, The Crickets); 2013 (Randy Newman);  2014 ( Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens);  2017 (Joan Baez);  2018 (Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone).

Make your own list of favorites.  You’ll enjoy the experience and the memories.



There were other individuals who were inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Some were considered Early Influences.  Among them are: Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Les Paul, Louis Armstrong, Pete Seeger, Bill Monroe, and Nat King Cole.

Non-Performers, including songwriters, producers, disc jockeys, etc. who
had a major influence on rock and roll” are in the Hall.  For example = Alan Freed Berry Gordie, Jr., Phil Spector, Bill Graham, Dick Clark, Carole King, George Martin, and Quincy Jones.



The Hall of Fame staff, plus “rock critics” and “music experts” created a list of 500 “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”  Later, 100+ more songs were added to the list.  The groups or individuals most represented on the list are = with 8 songs: The Beatles and the Rolling Stones; with 7 songs: Elvis Presley;  with 5 songs: The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder.


How many people pictured in this article can you name?  How about: Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Linda Ronstadt, Les Paul, Stevie Wonder, The Platters?  Each meant something special to me.  Whose pictures would you include in an article if you chose the visuals?







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A Birthday Gift, 2



I was part of a generation who, to outsiders, seemed to protest everything.  The Vietnam War, students’ rights, college curriculums, the Women’s movement, the first Earth Day, and probably some causes I’ve forgotten. Of course, we were always on the right side of history –if I remember correctly.  (And if  I’m wrong, don’t remind me.  I’m getting too old to remember specifics. Besides, if it’s anything illegal, I was probably in Detroit at the time.)

We came up with the phrase: “never trust anyone over 30.”  Imagine how I felt when my 40thbirthday approached.  What a PITA (ie, Pain in the A**).  Could I still trust myself?  How about my wife?  And what would I want for a birthday gift?  Luckily, my wife remembered something I mentioned as we shopped for furniture for our first home.  I still can’t remember what it cost.  But, at first sight, I must have  mumbled: “Yea, but it costs too much.”

As birthdays seem to do annually, the occasion arrived quicker than I expected –but not quicker than my wife’s memory.  Thank goodness.  She gave me a desk.  (see above)  Not a plastic toy one either.  Hunt Country Furniture made it.  It was solid wood, measuring 30” x 60” x 22”. Very  impressive.  Plus, the top and sides of the desk, unlike many doors in our present home, are not hollow. It now has it’s share of scars, scrapes, and wear marks.  Like me, it has aged and shows it.  But it still stands and functions as well as the day I received it.

It provides the surface on which I write.  My computer stands on it.  It’s drawers are packed: pens and pencils, note pads, articles: read and unread, magazines and a few books, plus a three shelf plastic container full and sitting on top.  It does everything but write my articles by itself.  I’m still required to come up with ideas, words, and opinions.  The desk can’t do everything.

t reminds me of other desks which were of greater historical significance.  For example, the desk where Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey signed a contract and integrated baseball.  (see below)  The agreement was made sixty-some years after professional baseball was established.  Not everyone was ready for the agreement, but Mr. Robinson was.  We are better as a sport and a society because of his optimism, courage, and talent.



The photo of a desk that always brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes was taken in The White House’s Oval Office.  John Kennedy sat behind it and his son, John John, played underneath it and could be seen through a small doorway cut into the desk’s front.  (see below)  The picture was taken before November 22, 1963.



To end on a much lighter note: I remember a picture of Stephen King working at his desk with a dog under foot,  (see below)  perhaps dictating to him.  Or was that a picture of me and Luna?  Eh, No.   It was King and his best friend.  Luna does not give or take dictate.



Do you have a desk?  I highly recommend one.







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A Birthday Gift


When I was a kid, I was usually sick (eg, asthma, eczema, allergies).  When I had a good day, stickball occupied my –and my friends’ –time. But when it rained, we were forced inside our homes.  There were board (not “bored”) games to play (eg, Monopoly).  But in the 1950s, I got a new game for my birthday.  It was “Ethan Allen’s All-Star Baseball Game”, made by Cadeco.  (see above picture)  It quickly became our favorite indoor activity.

Ethan Allen was a baseball player for 13 years (1926 – 38).  A toy company gave him a job helping design a baseball game “for boys.”  That’s what it said –not me.  In time, it was replaced in popularity by an even more realistic game: Strat-o-Matic Baseball.  But in the 1950s, it was as close to real baseball that was available to us. Unlike previous baseball games which used only dice or a deck of playing cards to simulate a baseball game’s outcome, our game brought a bit of reality to a board game.

The game centered around 40 circular discs which represented 40 major league ballplayers’ batting performances.  Each player’s name was on a disc and around the outside of each disc were the numbers 1 – 14.  Each number stood for the outcome that a batter could have in a real at bat: home run, triple, double, single, walk, strike out, fly out, ground out.  How much space a number occupied on a disc depended upon how likely a specific player was to produce that result in a typical at bat. Instructions for the game explained that if a player  came to the plate often enough, his hitting outcomes would be the same as a specific player would in real life.  Although playing enough games to achieve that degree of accuracy was unlikely (ourtime was limited by school, chores, and stickball), we were hooked.

A game was played by 2 people (one player for each of two hand-picked teams from the 40 player discs in the game) –although one person could play both sides of a contest, especially if  that person was sick.  This game was a godsend for the athletic and mental health of young boys.  (No mention was made of girls’ participation. Remember: it was the 1950s.  Betty Friedan had not yet arrived on society’s radar.)  Each player-disc was placed upon the game board’s spinner, which was spun by a youngster’s finger and determined the outcome of a single at bat.   The 2 players took turns choosing their players/discs and setting up their All-Stars’ batting order.


The game was extremely popular when the 1950s saw baseball’s Negro Leagues decline due to the influx of exceptional Black and Latin players in Major League baseball.  The game’s discs which could have Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, and Yogi Berra available for play found new names from which to choose their team (eg, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente).  (see above picture)

 We had to admit the game did have its shortcomings.  A player’s batting performance could be accurate, but pitching and defensive outcomes were not available.  You soon realized that Sandy Koufax struck out in half of his at bats.  (Ouch.)  And most pitchers did little better.  But, on the other hand, for someone who was frequently sick and had more time to research which pitchers hit better than others, well, such a person had an advantage in choosing players.  ***  And if such a person existed, he (or, nowadays, she) could learn how to create a disc for anyplayer.  Any player they wanted.  Even Roy Hobbs. (see picture below)  But who would do that?



The end result?  We had our stickball games, weather permitting, plus our indoor games all-year round!!



 *** Sandy Koufax had a lifetime batting average of .097 with 2 home runs.  But Bob Gibson had a lifetime batting average of .206 with 24 home runs.  Not everyone would know that.





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George Carlin: Baseball and Football


Baseball has returned. It’s a good time to remember George Carlin’s Baseball and  Football monolog.  Here it is.


Baseball is different from any other sport, very different.  For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs.  In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball.  In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he’s out; sometimes unintentionally, he’s out.

Also: in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager.  And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do.  If you’d ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you’d know the reason for this custom.

Now, I’ve mentioned football.  Baseball and football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.  Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.  The baseball park!  Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field of War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.  Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

In football you wear a helmet.  In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs –what down is it?  Baseball is concerned with ups –who’s up?

In football you receive a penalty.  In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.  In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.  Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog.  In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.  Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end –might have extra innings.  Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.  In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun.  With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home!  And to be safe –I hope I’ll be safe at home.!







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Presidential Material


Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and writing about Mark Twain (ie, Seriously Funny People, 3/15/18, and Mark Twain: Humor and Wisdom, 3/28/18). He had great hair, including a mustache. I’ve pictured him in both articles. It made me wonder: Is it OK for a President to have facial hair (ie, a beard or mustache)? Lincoln and Grant did. But William Howard Taft (1909-1913), with a mustache, was the last Oval Office holder not to be clean-shaven. In fact, early in the 20th century, it was thought by some people that facial hair could be a cause of tuberculosis. Thus (perhaps), “the clean-shaven look” became a symbol of the modern man’s ideal and the required appearance for all future Presidents. Forget about George Armstrong Custer’s visage. (see below). Remember the countenance of the New Deal maker (FDR) and the New Frontier designer (JFK)? More recently, did Obama and The Donald shave? Of course they did. And what about other famous, handsome men in the public eye? I’m thinking of Matt Damon, George Clooney (most of the time), Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks (unless he’s stranded on a deserted island), Ryan Gosling. Enough said. It appears voters require no 5 o’clock shadow, and a total avoidance of an even hairier look, on their Oval Office Occupiers.



Wait! Did someone just say: John Bolton!! (see below) Granted, he may soon work NEAR the Oval Office, but not in it, right?



OK, think about it. Could there be an exception? Could there ever be hair, there?! See if you can match the following list of men with their pictures beneath them. Would any of them be (have been) Presidential Material?

Chuck Berry … Albert Einstein … Sam Elliot … Samuel L. Jackson … Martin Luther King, Jr… Freddy Mercury … Brad Pitt … Tom Selleck




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Mark Twain: Humor & Wisdom


I found a picture of young Mark Twain (see above). A great head of hair, and it was not white yet (see elsewhere). He was a story teller, lecturer, writer and traveler. Often, his words –written or spoken—could be both humorous and wise. Perhaps, it made his honesty go down smoother. Here is a sample of his most famous sayings.


The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

Man is the only animal that blushes –or needs to.

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.

Love is when two people know everything about each other and are still friends.

The dog is a gentleman. I hope to go to his Heaven, not man’s.



Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

Never argue with stupid people; they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with their experience.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.




Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of wich never happened.

Prejudices are what fools use foe reason.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my Father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.





Life is short: break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile.







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America’s Finest Music


The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors living musical artists (composer and/or performer) whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the work of George and Ira Gershwin (see above).

The Gershwin Brothers gave the world: Rhapsody in Blue, Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris, the music for the soundtrack for the film “Manhattan,” and many popular songs (eg, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Embraceable You,” Someone To Watch Over Me,” “They All Laughed,” etc.)

Once, Ira was challenged to write the lyrics for a love song –but without using the word “love.” What song did he write? (see below: ***)

George died at age 38 (a brain tumor) in 1937. (Ira died in 1983 at age 86.) On that date, July 11, 1937, a writer said: “George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.”

I have no problem with the recipients of this award. But 9 of the 10 individuals are men. What woman would you want to receive it? For example, how about:


                                                                Joan Baez  



                                                         Joni Mitchell




                                                              Bonnie Raitt




*** = They All Laughed.

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus

When he said the world was round

They all laughed when Edison recorded sound

They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother

When they said that man could fly


They told Marconi

Wireless was a phony

It’s the same old cry

They laughed at me wanting you

Said I was reaching for the moon

But oh, you came through

Now they’ll have to change their tune


They all said we never could be happy

They laughed at us and how!

But ho, ho, ho!

Who’s got the last laugh now?




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