Sunday, May 29, 2016

Memorial Day...a Marine 56 years later.

 Memorial Day is tomorrow.

A day when we honor those who gave their lives while serving in the military.

I joined the Marines right after graduating from Bishop England high school in 1957.

Had no interest in any "more school" and joined the USMC to be one-up on my older brother who was wearing USAF blue.

Back then you could sign up for six months of active duty and then remain in the Reserves for 7.5 years, subject to call up.

Boot Camp at Parris Island (in July and August!) was sweaty but went ok.

Then advanced infantry training up at Camp Lejeune, NC felt comfortable.

All Marines are basically infantry.
I was lucky enough to be designated as a Combat Photographer (MOS 4641).

This just happened to be during a very peaceful time.

It was so good to be attached to the Base Photo Lab, Support Company B, Headquarters Battalion, that I re-enlisted for three years.

This also eliminated the many years of the Reserve requirement.

But, instead of combat, I was basically doing PR.

Snapping photos of Command Changes and medals being pinned on Marines.

Sometimes a funny thing would happen and I was there with my USMC-issued Speed Graphic.

Life was comfortable but I was getting antsy to do something more than covering parades and "grip & grins."

I wanted to be out in the field for more than a few hours with eager Reservists who came to LeJeune for two weeks of annual active duty training.

I was not involved in the 1958 invasion of Lebanon and heard the stories that the amphibious landing was greeted by bikini-clad bathers and soda pop vendors. Actually, though, some Marines were killed.

I finally got my chance to get away from the parade field and starched khakis late in 1959.

I volunteered to be assigned to a Tank Battalion as its photographer for several months.

I cruised for 7-days with them down to Vieques, a Navy-owned "training" island off the coast of Puerto Rico.

We did a pre-dawn landing, climbing down cargo nets into small landing crafts that zig-zagged toward the beach.

We set up tents as our sleeping quarters and I finally was in the field, training with an armoured aggressor force.

Dust, dirt and booming tank cannons were the everyday norm.

This was far from the spick and span Base Photo Lab.

There we sometimes spent hours, experimenting with posing and lighting formal portraits.

This was eating rations in the field and taking photos as dedicated tankers performed a variety of tests and maneuvers.

Instead of a prim uniform hat or cap, I now was getting used to wearing a steel pot, a camouflaged helmet.

And, smoking a lot of cigarettes, which were very inexpensive in Vieques.

Also, being pleased to see beer was ten cents a can and five rum & Cokes were made with just one 8-oz classic Coca-Cola.

Work hard and play even harder.

I learned from my fellow tankers that when someone didn't make the grade, training in endless-track machines, they were reassigned to become Tank Killers.

Proving the Marine Corps had a sense of humor, both groups frequented the same bar on base.

Yes, the MPs had to break up many discussions on the merits and safety of tanks.

Looking back a half century, I realize that if I had stayed with the 7.5 years in the Reserves, I might have been called up to active duty in the Vietnam war.

(Click on the photos and links for details.)

My time in the Corps convinced me that college was a good idea.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow!

Yes, tomorrow! The sun will come out tomorrow!

That's when Netflix starts streaming the new Adam Sandler film THE DO OVER. Yay!

Originally planned to go directly to DVD, this 2nd of 4 films for Netflix will be released for streaming to subscribers.

The "red band" final trailer is out now but does NOT include my short funny scene with the "Hospital Screamer".

The first short "teaser" trailer did verify the scene made it through the cutting room and into the finished film.

I have enjoyed watching my brief appearance as the startled "husband" of the screaming "wife," as we see a badly injured man stumble toward the Savannah hospital.

 Despite my fantastic dramatic action and look, stage presence, and stance, I am NOT credited.

Go figure?

Sheila Lynn Cochran is quite an actress and her VERY vocal scream catapulted her to a featured credit. I am chopped liver, but very happy for Sheila and her brief comedic role in her film career.

Tomorrow, I won't be on the "Silver Screen" but my 60-inch tv set presents a crisp, large image.

I'll be making some popcorn.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Pretty obvious this is a "first" for me as I putter around as an extra or background artist in locally-produced tv shows like HBO's Vice Principals , Youtube's We Love You and CBS's The Inspectors.

Too bad I never tried out for Army Wives during its 7-year run here.

Maybe I'll look into working behind T-Rav and Southern Charm?

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

These little cars "bug" me....

My tiny collection of small model VWs started with the real deal. 

We actually pushed it off the showroom floor and it had only 8 miles on the odometer. This was my very first new car!

The salesman coached me as we drove around the block a few times to acquaint me with its manual stick shifting and, then, I drove it home to Burbank and parked it proudly in my driveway.
Did I mention it was a bright orange color and I had bought it on Halloween?

My clever daughter Amy suggested I leave a light burning inside the Beetle that night as the trick-or-treaters passed by...snickering.

The 1973-1975 Super VWs introduced the distinctive curved windshield. Regular Volkswagons continued to be manufactured during this time.

It was a fun car that I drove for well over 100,000 miles and eventually gave to my son.

Years later, I saw a most unusual small model of a VW that, apparently had been made into a martini glass. 

It did not have the Super Bug curved windshield but it whetted my appetite to find others.

Today there are 32 VWs displayed on a large table in my media room.

I would stop in shops as I traveled to seek out ones I didn't already have. Pure luck, I never bought a duplicate. 

I also never found one to match the color of my first real VW. 

Oh, wait a minute, as I was dusting these just now, I saw the elusive color on the "Space Flight" tiny version right in front!

Orange you glad I dust ever so often?

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

STYX and STONES...two bands I've seen this year

 Had a delightful "flashback" to the 1970s and 80s last night.

Went to see STYX at the Volvo Car Stadium and it was a good memory-flogger of my graduating from college back in 1968.

Man...that was a long time ago... as they acknowledged. Often.

We were warned there was a chance of rain and this out of doors (tennis courts) does not allow you to bring in umbrellas.

No worry, I found some bright-colored rain ponchos and was all set to stay dry if the heavens opened.

The only "weather" we had was a fog bank suddenly rolling in and carpeting the stage. That happened several times.

The opener was Don Felder, a 21-year veteran with The Eagles, and his talented band.

They reprised many hits from his "Hotel California" days as daylight faded to dark.

The moon was visible behind the clouds but no rain fell.

Obviously, it was an older crowd but many stood for most of the performance.

I sat down ever so often but jumped up - well, stood - when a song started that I remembered from so long ago.

 One such song, from 1975, was "Light Up."

Well, OK, maybe I didn't remember the actual lyrics but the crowd reaction was really cool.

We were reminded that "back in the day," Zippo lighters were to be flicked on and held aloft.

I saw only a few flickering flames but "everybody" had a Smartphone!

And Tommy Shaw was his energetic self, bounding around the stage and up and down the stairs to the elevated platform.

At one point he stood and played next to James "J.Y." Young and quipped, "I'm not short..he's tall."

And that rotating metal piano!

Lawrence Gowan owned it, played it, spun it and was having a grand time.

I had looked away and was nudged to see that now Gowan was standing on it, his right arm raised.

It spun so easily, I am sure there was a locking mechanism that held it steady for his climb.

Throughout the show, the piano stool appeared and then quickly disappeared on cue.

Part of the band's clever choreography.

Let's take a closer look at how the raised backdrop was used.

Don't recall a recent outdoor concert that offered several levels.

"A Night With Janis Joplin," featured different heights for dancers and singers at the Gaillard last month.

But that was an indoor set. Setting up outdoors presents its own problems. The huge STYX backdrop that was hoisted into place apparently never had its lights turned on, so it was a murky background until spotlights happened to stream across it.

Hidden most of the night by his large drum set, the man who kept the beat, talented Todd Sucherman, finally came out front for his bows at the end.

James Young mentioned he had noticed a sign Volvo Car Open, referring to the recently sponsored tennis tournament.

He then touted Volvo as a safe car but reminded us all that the owner should always lock it.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

As always, I thank you for reading my blog and urge you to continue to support live music.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Orange is the new Yellow....

We are coming into the vacation and travel season. Try not to have your vacant home become a "target of opportunity" to a burglar.

My newspaper here in Charleston not only will "hold" my papers while I am on vacation, it offers to provide them to schools as part of the national "Newspapers in Education," program, NIE.

(Locally, it appears to be called MIE,  Media in Education. Seems more in tune with the times.)

But, I want to get a stack of bundled papers delivered after my return. Old news, for sure, but this is a way I keep up with my favorite comics.

Same with the rubber band-bound pile of junk mail my postman brings the afternoon after I am back home.

Well aware of not signaling my departure for vacation, I do not blog about such trips until I am safely home and reading my mail and going through a high stack of newspapers.

Of main concern, of course, is NOT to have papers strewn in the yard, on the steps and piled on my porch while I am away. 

My travel checklist includes arranging that such telltale signs of an empty house are not present.

I returned from 18 days overseas last year - at night - and two thick bags o' papers were indeed on my front porch the next morning. As I hefted them up, I saw there was a bright orange plastic bag hanging on my front gate, next to the empty mailbox.

I shuffled down the steps and saw hanging there was a thick copy of the new Yellow Pages phone directory.

 I can assume only the worst, that it was hung there the very day I was flying to Europe and acted as a homing beacon to every potential home burglar in the tri-county area. 

Good news: there were no signs of attempted break-ins.

Frankly, I didn't know YP books were still being printed now that the internet, "Angie's List" and other info sources are right at hand and more up-to-date than any printed item.

Even if you've done all the obvious safeguards, be prepared for the unexpected.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Um, that looks odd...

Watching a talented one-man band is fun.

Sitting and relaxing on a concrete floor is a sign you're a real fan of Mechanical River.

He opened Mother's Day night at the Pour House for Deslondes.

Deslondes had five band members and thanked all the moms for letting us come out that Sunday night.

The men's room at the Pour House used to look like this.

I think even a Vegan would be a little disturbed going into this room.

The "eyes" have it.

But, it was repainted without creatures....last time I checked.

Musicians make up their own mannerisms, styles and methods of  making popular sounds.

This band member appeared to be just holding two instruments, but, then he started playing.

Both saxes. At the same time.

A wannabe one-man band? He's working on it.

I am not a member of a band but I do see unusual things happen in bars.

Here, I joked that there should be a free beer for me on my birthday.

I was handed the Viking helmet and was told "Wear this while you drink your free beer. Happy birthday."

Well, you see I wore the hat.

And the free beer was great.

This was at Brittlebank Park on the banks of the Ashley river.

Sipping beer on a summer day.

Suddenly,  I saw this fellow soaring aloft atop what appeared to be a spewing firehose.

Learned later you could rent time to do that.

Or, just continue drinking beer.

Years ago, in San Diego, I saw a good bit of "Truth In Ads."

He stood by the curb with his sign.

I saw drivers pull over, amused, and hand him money.

I gave him a dollar myself.

This "glass" caught my eye and I had to take a closer look.

A good example of "recycling" I decided.

I have heard people joke - when they finished a beer quickly - that the bottle had a hole in the bottom.

This one actually did.

His hand covered how the base for the glass had been attached. I need to stop by again.

I think you have to be overseas to have a beer with your Happy Meal beneath the arches at Mickey D's.

I WAS in Spain last year when I saw beer was on the menu and that many patrons were sipping brews.

When in Rome, er, Spain, do as they do.

Beer makes the fries seem to taste even better!

Saw this type of vehicle - propelled by pedaling loud, singing beer drinkers - in several cities in various countries.

The languages were different but the intent was to literally "drink and drive" as the party became a moveable feast at a leisurely pace. PROST!

Fuzzy dice are no longer restricted to hanging from rear view mirrors.

The oversized, colorful dice can adorn a drum set.

I have seen teddy bears, small big-bellied Buddhas and tiny baby dolls perched on instruments on at least half a dozen bands.

Significance? I have no idea.

Don't recall the name of this player but his gimmick was using a megaphone.

Wonder what the soundman had to say about this?

He would play, then sing into the megaphone.

Yes, he tried to do both at the same time. Briefly.

I post these "different," - and even surreal shots - because they have one thing in common.

All involve beer.

(Click on the photos and links for more detail and information.)

I support live music...and a few breweries too.

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

You Can Call Me Al...or Paul

Paul Simon in concert in Atlanta.

In the Fabulous Fox theater.

Oh man, does it get any better than this?

Three, yes three, encores. The crowd of 4,678 people did not want to leave and we applauded and yelled and he kept coming back onstage.

If he had played ALL of his classic hits, we'd all still be standing there.

50 Ways To Leave Your Lover started us off.

I was standing in a long line for a beer when the first notes started and - whoosh - I was next to get my beer.

I vaguely recall going to the Fox for a movie as a teenager and seeing the mighty Wurlitzer rise up from the pit.

Funny I did not remember the Moorish look of the huge theater, so Tuesday in Atlanta was almost like my first time at the Fox.

Our seats were Row G on the main floor but I asked permission to wander up to the balcony to take a peek.

No problem, and the pleasant usher even suggested I go all the way to the far side to get the best effect. With my camera in hand.

Beautiful. Awesome. And the softest most comfortable seats ever, to sink down and relax.

The lighting was superb, the sound spot on and the twinkling stars overhead in the blue sky added to the ambiance.

Meanwhile, onstage, Paul and his 9-person band were hammering out hit after hit.

Sounds of Silence, The Boxer, Still Crazy After All These Years, etc., etc.

Kodachrome, Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard, You Can Call Me Al, etc., etc.

Graceland, Late In The Evening, Slip, Slidin' Away, and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.

This evening was worth the 5-hour drive and a construction traffic tie-up on I-20.

The blocked lane was expertly handled and the delay was minor. 

Impressive looking but not a big deal. And, unlike later that evening back in Charleston, we did not even have any rain.

And that band! They are a tight group and have played together since forever. 

Don't know when the man in the long gown from Cameroon joined, but he played his solo well on Under African Skies.

I have a few more pictures that I like so will add them as space permits.

Five years ago, drove to Gwinnett to see Simon perform there in the suburbs.

The bonus this time of being downtown (two stops on MARTA) at the Fox, made it an extra special evening.

Besides, Atlanta is known for fine dining and entertainment.

(Click on the photos and the links for more details and information.)

Even the 5-hour drive back home was smooth, sunny and not a hint of rain.

With Paul Simon well-represented on the recorded music tracks.

Oh, Mrs. Robinson was NOT included in the show but we had it on the digital player though.

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