Archive | Rest in Peace RSS feed for this section

After a Sucky 2016, I’m Ready to Work for a Better Year Ahead

30 Dec
Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash.com

Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash.com

What a year for a new year, right?

At this point it’s become a cliché, but that’s because, for the most part, 2016 really did suck.

There was the long, contentious, ugly, controversial election, which further divided an already highly partisan country, raised serious questions about Russian interference, and may have set us on a direction to a nuclear arms race, high anxiety, and worse. Included in this was all the fake news, the ignorance of facts and reality, and the many, many ridiculous twists and turns that were often unbelievable.

There was all that death. It hurt time and again to lose legends and those some of us grew up with, from music icons like Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Sharon Jones, and Glen Frey; to TV and movie favorites like Florence Henderson, Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Alan Thicke; to history-makers like Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel, and John Glenn. Can’t forget Harambe, of course. Or Jim Delligatti, the creator of the Big Mac. And that’s not even counting friends who’ve lost family members and other loved ones. Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that at the end of December, we also lost Robert Leo Hulseman, the inventor of the Red Solo Cup. Continue reading

Advertisements

Dennis Farina: Remember Me “Just as a Person”

22 Jul

dennis-farinaI had the great fortune of interviewing many actors, actresses, musicians, authors, and other celebs during the seven and a half years I worked for Continental magazine. (Yes, the inflight magazine of the late Continental Airlines.)

One of the coolest people I had the chance to speak with was Dennis Farina, who passed away earlier today in Arizona.

Dennis is, of course, best known for his performances in such films as Get Shorty, Heat, Out of Sight, and Saving Private Ryan, and on TV shows like Law & Order, Crime Story, Luck, and, most recently, New Girl, where his tough guy persona was often used to great comic effect.

When I talked with Dennis in 2005, he was promoting the HBO TV movie Empire Falls. We talked about how his 18 years as a Chicago cop informed his acting career and the performances he gave. Continue reading

Insanely Great Jobs

6 Oct

Many, many people will write tributes to Steve Jobs today that will be better than mine, so I’m not going to compete with them.

But I wanted to take just a minute to recognize his passing by recalling one of my most memorable Steve Jobs experiences.

It was in January 2007, on the day the iPhone was first introduced to the world. Continue reading

She Told Ya She Was Trouble

24 Jul

When news broke yesterday that Amy Winehouse had died at the age of 27, the news was less shocking than it was just sad.

After all, Amy was a singer who burst on the scene in 2007 and created an immediate buzz with “Rehab,” a song that would later go on to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year (she won four other awards that year).

And that song seemed to tell you everything you needed to know about Amy, a troubled singer who had problems with drugs, drinking, and the law: “They tried to make me go to rehab,” she sang, “and I said ‘No, no, no.'”

Ultimately, that’s what derailed her career and now seems to have ended her life as well. Continue reading

The Big Man Was a Friend of Mine

19 Jun

Clarence Clemons was known as the Big Man, largely because at 6 feet, 5 inches tall and 270-plus pounds, he was literally a big man.

But the nickname was appropriate because on stage, Clarence had a presence that was bigger than life.

He wasn’t showy or over the top like some other rock stars — including his bandleader and friend, Bruce Springsteen. But he was always cool, always just to Bruce’s right, waiting to pick up his sax and do his thing.

And when Clarence got up to play … Wow.

This man of few words, this gentle giant, let his instrument do all the talking. When Clarence took center stage for one of his solos, it was a transcendent experience.

Every time you heard “Jungleland” live, it was awe-inspiring. Stunning. Powerful. An out-of-body experience.

One of my favorite parts of any Springsteen show.

So it goes without saying that the loss of Clarence Clemons Saturday night, due to complications from a stroke one week earlier, was a huge loss — for the music world and for me personally. Continue reading

Sad Days

29 Aug

With coverage of Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral and burial on TV for most of the day today, it occurred to me what a strange contradiction this makes for the average person.

Suffice it to say, no one likes funerals when it’s someone they know — especially if it’s someone they love.

I remember when my grandmother died and how hard the day of the funeral was. I remember forgetting my sunglasses in Boston and not being able to hide my red, watery, frequently teared-up eyes. I remember how I didn’t want to watch her burial, didn’t want to say goodbye. How my senses were heightened and could not hear laughter or any lighter-mood sentiment without feeling sad.

So why is it that on a day like today, people everywhere (myself included) find it so easy to sit in front of the TV for hours watching a funeral?

Continue reading

Remembering the Time

25 Jun

The truth of the matter is, Michael Jackson hadn’t released a truly great album since Bad.

But then again, after you’ve put out a masterpiece like Thriller, where else is there to go but down?

Still, it’s hard to deny that MJ put out some damned good songs when he was in his prime. I mean, “Rock with You,” “PYT,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Billie Jean,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Human Nature,” “Smooth Criminal,” etc.

One hit after another.

And that’s not even touching the Jackson 5 classics. The guy was just great and all those songs stand the test of time. Continue reading