“This is the Place”

by Bob Sparrow

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SLC and the Wasatch Mountain Range

That’s what Brigham Young said in 1847 after a long overland trek from Illinois, when standing at the mouth of Emigration Canyon on the east bench of the Wasatch Mountain Range looking over what is now the Salt Lake Valley. It was there that their journey would end and where the Mormon religion would call home as they committed to “make the desert blossom like a rose”. It is said that there was only one tree in the valley at that time, now there are over one million trees and lots of roses.

 

I was first introduced to Utah in 1964 when visiting the campus of the University of Utah on a football recruiting trip. I was immediately taken by the beauty and majesty of the surrounding mountains. It was January and a blanket of snow covered the Wasatch Range as well as the wide boulevards of Salt Lake City. It was a spectacular winter wonderland, especially for a young man who was born and raised in California.

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Tuscany entrance

In recent years Linda and I as well as brother, Jack and wife, Sharon have tried to get back to a Utah football game each season. This year we were joined by Mark & Kathy Johnson for the Utah-Oregon game. The Johnsons had an additional incentive to go to Utah as Mark’s parents and a brother live there.  For the last seven years we have always had our ‘pre-game Friday night meal’ at a wonderful restaurant in Holladay, a southern suburb of Salt Lake, called Tuscany. It is nestled among cottonwood and box elder trees making it barely visible from the street and has a ‘cozy old world’ feel inside. On this Friday night we had one of the owners of the restaurant, Mark Eaton, eating at the table next to us. He was a professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz and is hard to miss at 7’4”. At 59 years old, he looked like he could still play. Delightful dinner, the pork chop is to die for!

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Rice-Eccles Stadium

The game was at noon on a clear, crisp Saturday, which kept us from using the day to stop by the campus of my son Jeff’s and my alma mater, Westminster College. But it did not keep us from heading to the tailgate party across from the stadium where Jeff had alerted a Utah alum friend that we would be there and so we were invited to their tailgate party, which was no small bash! With no professional football team within 500 miles, Salt Lake is a college football town, which was easily seen by the throngs of supporters wearing red and pouring into a sold out stadium. Rice-Eccles Stadium was brought up to its current state-of-the-art condition when Salt Lake hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. The football game itself? I suppose it was exciting, but not a good exciting, as Oregon scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2 seconds left in the game to win 30-28.

tailgaters

Tailgaters

Our ‘consolation dinner’ that night was down town at the Market Street Grill, which was just a couple of blocks from our City Center Marriott hotel. We were directed to the Main Street Grill by dear friend and neighbor, Marge Dunn, whose niece, Sarah works there. We had a delicious dinner and were able to talk with Sarah, who was bartending this night.

In spite of the Utah heart-breaking loss, which kept them from playing for the Pac-12 South championship the following week, the visit was invigorating. The weather was truly ‘fall-like’, which we don’t get much of in Southern California and Salt Lake has to be one of the cleanest and safest cities in the country. If you’ve never been there, put it on your bucket list, you won’t regret it . . . and don’t forget to have dinner at Tuscany.

 

 

 

That Day in Dallas

by Bob Sparrow

kennedy-in-carI had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of attending the wedding of Reid Hendrix in Dallas, Texas; Reid is the son of good friends and former ‘hood residents, Cap & Sharon Hendrix, but no relation to Jimmy Hendrix. It is hard to mention the city of Dallas to people of my generation and not have them think of the Kennedy assassination. It was 53 years ago this week when we all not only remember the date of November 22, 1963, but we all know exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news – “President Kennedy has been shot”. Our generation saw Kennedy as a young, energetic, charismatic leader; who we were less concerned about his politics and policies than we were about the goings-on of Jack and Jackie in ‘Camelot’.

That day in Dallas was an historic day in many ways. To me ‘the 50s’ started in 1954 when Bill Haley and the Comets released Rock Around the Clock and ended with the Kennedy assassination. The age of innocence was gone as it was less than three months later when the Beatles made their first appearance in the United States and the psychedelic 60’s were underway.

book-depository

6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Although I have traveled to Dallas many times on business, I have never visited the site of the Kennedy assassination, the Texas School Book Depository, or as my colleagues called it, the Book Suppository (Ouch!), maybe that’s part of the reason it’s been renamed the Six Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Regardless of the name, they’ve done a great job of telling the complete, albeit controversial, story of the assassination and the strange series of events that followed. The self-guided tour through the museum exposes you to historic films, photographs, artifacts and interpretive displays that document the events surrounding the assassination. The museum presents the background of Lee Harvey Oswald and what might have been his motivation to shoot Kennedy, the story of Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald two days after Oswald shot Kennedy, and the Warren Commission’s report that unconvincingly concluded that Oswald acted alone.  It is a conspiracy theorist’s paradise.

The highlight of the tour for me was standing by the window on the 6th floor next to the site from where the gunshots came (one can not stand exactly where Oswald was as it is surrounded with Plexiglas). While standing there, one can see a video simulation of the Kennedy convertible turning the corner and coming right toward Oswald (presenting him with what seemed to be a much better target than the car later offered), then taking a left turn on Elm Street (Elm Street?!) where after Kennedy’s convertible moved laterally away from Oswald’s perch until it was about 100 yards away, at which time the shots were fired from the rear.

grassyknoll

 Me searching the ‘grassy knoll’

What about the ‘second gunman behind the grassy knoll’ you say? As you can see by the photo, I examined it quite thoroughly and came away more confused than I was back in the 60s. There’s a lot of stuff that just doesn’t add up. To wit:

  • Oswald was not a particularly good marksman
  • The alleged weapon was an average quality bolt-action rifle, meaning one would have to manually discharge the spent shell and move a live shell into the firing chamber, which makes firing 3 or 4 bullets (they’re not exactly sure) accurately in just a few seconds very difficult
  • Critical documents were withheld from the Warren Commission and they ignored some of the testimony and some of the evidence was tampered with
  • Certain film and photographs of the assassination were confiscated

And to me the most interesting controversy revolved around the ‘Magic Bullet Theory’, which goes as follows: Allegedly one bullet passed through President Kennedy’s neck and Governor Connally’s chest and wrist and embedded itself in the Governor’s thigh. If so, this bullet traversed 15 layers of clothing, 7 layers of skin, and approximately 15 inches of tissue, struck a necktie knot, removed 4 inches of rib, and shattered a radius bone. A magic bullet indeed!

While the tour told an interesting and detailed story, I came away disturbed, disturbed that we still don’t know all thewho-killed facts of what really happened that day, and why. Viable cases have been made for various murder suspects, including Vice President Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the KGB, Fidel Castro, a Secret Service agent and the mafia, just to name a few!

A lot stuff just doesn’t add up.  So if our government didn’t give us the real scoop on this, I’m going to look into that so-called moon landing we did back in 1969 and perhaps start searching for Elvis, who may still be alive.

 

 

 

 

Make Room Mt. Rushmore?

by Bob Sparrow

rushmore

“My lips are sealed”

This week we will, or already have, decided who will be our next president, or perhaps more accurately, decided who we want to keep from being our next president. In a desperate move to help us all to feel better about our new president-elect, I thought I would look at the ‘character’ of some of our past presidents, who had the huge advantage of not living in this era of ‘social media’ where everyone carries a camera and bad news travels at the warp speed of the Internet.

  • As it turns out our founding fathers weren’t without their flaws, both Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, in fact Jefferson was more than a groper, he fathered six children with slave, Sally Hemings – that would have been a little difficult to keep off the TMZ network today!
  • Lincoln, who is often revered as our best president, seemed to think of himself above the law as he single-handedly suspended habeas corpus (the principle that someone under arrest can’t be held for long without being brought before a judge), shut down opposition newspapers and jailed their editors, conspired to establish a
    tr

    Teddy the Elephant Killer

    military government in Washington DC and used military force to keep the Maryland legislature from meeting so that it couldn’t vote on secession.  I suspect that WikiLeaks would have had a field day with old ‘Honest Abe’.

  • Teddy Roosevelt’s lust was of a different sort, he lusted for war. His imperialism and racism can be summed up with the following quote from him, “All the great masterful races have been fighting races,” he claimed. To fellow Anglo-Saxons, he said, “It is wholly impossible to avoid conflicts with the weaker races,” and added, “The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages.” I’m guessing that Hitler was a big fan of Teddy.

OK, that takes care of Mt. Rushmore, but there is plenty more . . .

  • Benjamin Franklin was careless with secretive documents that ended up in the hands of the enemy – a British
    fdr

    Lying Franklin

    secret agent. But he swore that those documents only contained information about how he was going to fly a kite to invent electricity and Chelsea’s wedding.

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was known to lie a lot (What? A politician lying!!!) He was in terrible health, which he kept from the public, he was said to have liked Stalin too much and he had Soviet spies in his cabinet and didn’t really care, family members enriched themselves by his being in office, the New Deal actually slowed the recovery from the Great Depression and, among other things, he was accused of trying to seize control of the Supreme Court. Gosh, he could easily get elected today!
  • The list of sleazy presidents is too long for this blog, but here’s a few of the all-stars:
    • John Tyler – fathered 15 children with two different wives and had several more with his slaves; in November 1836 he became the Whig’s party president ‘erect’.
    • Andrew Jackson invited prostitutes to the White House Christmas party – I’m sure he just wanted to make sure that there were plenty of Ho Ho Hos to go around!
    • clintonlewinski

      Bill & Monica

      While Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton are considered modern history’s best-know presidential horn-dogs, Lyndon Johnson,  who called his naughty bits ‘Jumbo’, was worse than either of them.  Both Grover Cleveland and Warren Harding were also known to have a number of dalliances while in the ‘oval orifice’.

      kennedy

      Marilyn & Jack

    • It is well known that FDR and Eisenhower (at least while a general in the army if not while president) had mistresses while serving in ‘pubic’ life.

There’s more, lots more, but I think you get the point. So while you may think that we’ve reached new lows with this year’s two candidates, it’s actually just politics as usual, so we’ll be just fine. There now, don’t you feel better? Yeah, me neither!

Even if this didn’t make you feel better, why not SHARE it, maybe it will help a friend with pre or post-election blues.

Tahoe Family Tribute

by Bob Sparrow

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Dad’s Martini and Mom’s Gin Ricky

Part of our annual ritual is to bring cocktails to Mom and Dad. The drinks sit on the rock that their ashes surround. The drink on the left is for Dad, a great Martini lover (processed olives compliments of Don Spradling), the drink on the right is for Mom, who loved a Gin Ricky.

Jack and Barbara Sparrow lived in interesting times. They were born at the start of and at the end of WWI respectively, lived through the Roaring 20’s, Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Psychedelic 60’s, the Viet Nam War, the Gulf War (Gosh we’ve been involved in a lot of wars!), the ‘dot.com’ boom, a new millennium and 17 presidents. They fortunately have not had to endure the election process of our next president! Throughout the majority of their married years, they were a harbinger of future married couples to come, as they both worked outside the home.  When they bought the Novato Advance in 1940 they were the youngest (26 and 21) newspaper publishers in California.  After they sold the paper Dad started his own commercial printing business and Mom became the executive secretary for the superintendent of school.  They were alway very active in a variety of charities in Novato and throughout Marin County – AND they managed scan0105 to raise three pretty good kids, even if I do say so myself. OK, two out of three!

Our annual Tahoe tribute trip in October, which unfortunately Suzanne and Al were unable to make this year due to their travel schedule, is a time to visit North Lake Tahoe when most of the tourists have gone home; it’s a time to revel in the beautiful fall days and cool, crisp evenings and it’s a time to enjoy family in a place that has so much history for us. It is also a time to reflect on our Mom and Dad as we pay tribute to them at their final resting place with such a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe. Dad’s ashes have been there since 2001, Mom joined him in 2014.

 

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The ‘Rat Pack’ at CalNeva

The connection to Lake Tahoe came from Dad’s best friend, Dick Schieck, a life-long bachelor, who adopted our family as his own and who was like a combination of another father and older brother to us. He bought a cabin at the north end of the lake in 1951 for $4,600 that became our primary summer and winter vacation destination for the next 20 years. In the early days the trip from Novato to Lake Tahoe on a two-lane road took about 6 hours, longer if you got behind a P.I.E. truck going over Donner Summit. It was when the gambling resort, CalNeva, where Frank Sinatra was once a part owner, drew the top entertainment in the land. But the classiest place at the north end of the lake was The North Shore Club where Dad and Dick would dress in coat and tie (minimum dress standard; tuxedos were not uncommon) and Mom in a formal cocktail dress on a Saturday night and go there for a night of gambling, dining and dancing to a live band.

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Classic Chris Craft in front of Sunnyside

Our parents introduced us to what is now a trendy destination for haut cuisine and designer martinis, Sunnyside Resort & Restaurant, but was just a house with a liquor store and a bait shop attached to it when we first started going there as kids to fish off the pier with a drop line. We were also introduced to Squaw Valley, when it had only one chair lift, several years before it was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympic. Dad and Dick also introduced us to the best way to get rid of a hangover (a malady we were introduced to later in life) – go jump in that ice-cold lake!

To continue the legacy, over the years we have introduced ‘the Lake’ to our kids and grand kids and I’m sure have bored them with endless stories about ‘the good old days’. The Lake, while a lot more populated, is still beautiful and the memories we have of it going from a remote mountain get-away to the popular summer and winter destination are simply magical. Thank you Mom and Dad . . . and Dick.

Post Debate Ditty

by Bob Sparrow

I regress to Morning News in Verse,

As it seems that things just can’t get worse;

After watching the debate

hillary                     And becoming irate,

            I wonder how it got so perverse.

                                        –

            I know I should just bite my tongue

            Ignoring the mud that’s been slung,

                  But there’s just no good choice,

No reason to rejoice,

                                It’s akin to two piles of dung.

From the long list we had to choose from

You’d have thought we’d come up with a plum,

But there’s no understanding

Our choice for commanding,

It’s either ‘the bitch’ or ‘the scum’.

trump

We can vote for the one who can’t email,

Who probably should now be in jail,

Who thanks the paparazzi

For going light on Benghazi,

         And for hiding the things that might ail.

And Trump’s just a rambling buffoon;

A self-centered, babbling tycoon

Whose manner is crude

And often times rude

And promises the wall in by June.

So where are the Reagans or Trumans,

Or anyone else that’s half human?

Instead we are stuck

With a couple of shmucks;

Hell, I’d settle for Alfred E. Newman.

No one’s voting because they are proud.

No one’s saying their choices out loud.

“We can’t have her win!”

“We can’t let him in!”

Is the only thing voters avow.

I’m embarrassed that American voices

Have come up with these two dreadful choices.

When all the ballots are in

And the new term begins

There’ll be no one who really rejoices.

As a nation we’re on our last nerve,

Electing a new leader to serve.

It won’t matter who’s hired

Or who ends up fired,

We’re getting just what we deserve.

hillary-and-trump

 

“Every nation gets the government it deserves”

                                                  Joseph de Maistre, French lawyer and philosopher (1753 – 1821)

 

Do we really deserve this?

 

The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow

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Dom crossing Khumbu Ice Fall on Mt. Everest

 

Charged with a most difficult task of following Suzanne’s eloquent reprise of her emotional account of Melissa Harrington Hughes’ 9/11 experience, and given that I have barely seen the outside of my home in the last six weeks, I submit a rather pedestrian look at updating some past blog stories.

Nepal Earthquake

Previous blog links:

     Emails from Nepal    http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3943

     Feeling the Nepal Earthquake Here at Home   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3893

nepal-earthquake

Kathmandu, Nepal earthquake

The rest of this story begins with an email from our trekking guide in the Himalayas, Dom, saying that he and his family (wife and two children) were still living in a tent due to their home being destroyed by the earthquake in April 2015 and asking for some help.  Patrick and I and several friends sent money to him back in May 2015, but due to the earthquake, the trekking business was not doing so well in Nepal so Dom had limited income opportunities.  I decided to ask our most-generous neighborhood if they wanted to help.  They responded in spades and I was able to send Dom over $1,000, which in Kathmandu is like a year’s income. Contributors commented on how nice it was to donate knowing that all the money was going to where it’s suppose to and that it is someone with a personal connection.  Dom was most grateful.  I asked him if he could send some pictures of his family and the surrounding area so that I could share them with the neighbors who contributed.  He did, including a picture of him on Mt. Everest, getting to Camp 4, which is over 26,000 feet in elevation.  He was attempting to summit Everest without oxygen, something only a handful of people have done.  He did not do it this time, but he said next time he will use oxygen and get to the top.  Thankfully Dom is back in business.

ramsL.A. and the NFL

Previous blog link:   Why L.A. Will Never Get an NFL Team                                http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=3835

In April of last year I predicted that Los Angeles would never get an NFL team for a variety of reasons.  Whether L.A. actually got an NFL team was still up for debate after the Rams lost their season opener to the 49ers 28-0, but after a win against a tough Seattle team last Sunday, my prediction is now officially wrong.  It was worth it just to watch Pete Carroll go apoplectic on the sidelines.

Murder on the Road to Hana

Previous blog link:   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2595

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Capobianco – looks innocent to me!

I was driving by myself on the road to Hana, with no alibi, on the day Carly Scott was declared ‘missing’ in the area and subsequently found murdered.  I did pick up a strange female hitchhiker that day, but I swear I am not a person of interest!  Steven Capobianco, however is, in fact he has moved on from a ‘person of interest’ to being incarcerated and standing trial for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Carly “Charli” Scott.  He is also accused of setting her vehicle on fire.  Scott was 27-years-old and five months pregnant at the time with an unborn child fathered by the defendant.  Capobianco has pleaded not guilty to the charges.  The Maui trial has been on-going since June 27, 2016; yes, two-and-a-half months!  Evidence presented thus far implicates Capobianco as the murderer.  Stay tuned for final verdict.

Hip, Hip Away

Thanks again to all you well-wishers – the hip is great; played golf last week (score not important and it’s really none of your business); and walked 5 miles on Thursday. In no time I’ll be smelling those pine trees in the local mountains.

 

 

 

Home Alone!

by Bob Sparrow

walker

My companion, Al Walker

First I’d like to thank all of those who have wished me well and a speedy recovery; I am truly blessed to have so many great and caring friends!

No ifs, ands or even butts about it . . . rehab sucks! I know many of you readers have gone through what I’m going through now, but no one told me how frustrating, boring and mind-numbing this was going to be.

I was homebound for two weeks after surgery with just me and my aluminum walker, which in my desperate search for company, I named Al Walker. I actually named it Allie Walker, but Linda didn’t like the fact that I was spending so much time alone with this strange woman. She did admit that the walker had ‘nice wheels’, but she also pointed out that it had two balls. My argument that in today’s world that didn’t necessarily define the gender, didn’t get much traction.

I have over 125 TV channels, not counting subscription or pay-per-view options and still find that there is NOTHINGDays of our Lives on TV! I did find out that a few shows that were on when I was growing up ARE STILL ON!!! Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful are still making housewives sit down for an hour and listen to organ music and detergent ads while hoping that their favorite character doesn’t get mysteriously killed in the next episode. Not to worry, they will just as mysteriously reappear when their contract gets renegotiated, if they didn’t actually die.

Going into my post-surgery rehab, I thought I was fortunate to have the Olympics as well as the always-entertaining election year battles to fill my long sedentary days.

buffett for prez

Are we just ‘wasting away again’?

As far as politics go, it is clear that the agenda of each candidate, rather than telling us what their plans are for a better America, is to be totally focused on degrading their opponent. I’m calling this one the ‘Pinocchio Election’ – the one with the longest nose wins!  A sad state of affairs.  Recent statistics show that a large percentage of voters are not voting for a candidate, but rather they’re voting to try to keep the other candidate out. I even tuned into several interviews with Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, who doesn’t appear to even be the smartest person in the room when his running mate, William Weld is present, which is most of the time. I’m leaning towards writing in Jimmy Buffett, whose campaign slogan is, “Keep a song in your heart and a margarita in your hand.” That’s more positive than anything else I’ve heard from a candidate!

As for the Olympics, I love the athlete’s stories about their dedication and their overcoming adversity to become the ‘best in the world’. I enjoyed most of the telecasts, but how much volleyball and water polo can one watch? The answer is not as much as they televised. Additionally, by mid-Olympics I was a little embarrassed by the medal count that was constantly put in front of us; I was OK until we just got so far ahead that it was a little embarrassing and perhaps a bit jingoistic. If I’m the other countries, I’m calling us the ‘dumb jocks’ and pointing out that the U.S. is ranked 14th in the world in education, 17th in happiness, 23rd in gender equality, 24th in literacy and#1 115th in linguistic diversity. But we are still #1 in number of prisoners, wine consumption and breast augmentations.

OK, I just re-read this and it’s clear I need to find a mountain to climb and get some fresh air, but in the mean time if anyone needs any medical or mental help, I’m all caught up on Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil, and I may also be able to help with your legal problems with the knowledge I’ve garnered from Judge Judy.

Get me outta here!

 

Hip, Hip Away!

by Bob Sparrow

breath

I thought it was a Hookah Pipe

My research has turned up the fact that the very first successful hip replacement surgery was performed in 1960 and today, just in the United States, over 300,00 of them are done each year and there are over twice as many knee replacement surgeries. So a good number of my friends have had hip or knee replacements in the last few years and they have welcomed me into the ‘replacement club’; brother Jack has had both hips replaced. Others have asked me about my recent experience with my surgery because they see themselves as ‘replacement club’ candidates in the not-too-distant future. So I thought since the only place I’ll be visiting in the next month or two is my own house, on a walker, I don’t have a lot to write about other than my initiation into the ‘replacement club’.

At the pre-surgery meeting with my surgeon, Dr. Patel, I was told to have a restful weekend and be ready for surgery Monday morning. My snappy rejoinder was that I’d probably be sleeping through the whole process and suggested that he was the one who needed to have a restful weekend.  He wasn’t amused. Dr. Jay Patel received his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to earn both a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and his Medical Doctorate from Stanford University. So I was naturally concerned that my surgeon was a slacker.

drill

Black & Decker

I arrived at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine at 5:30 Monday morning; my pre-op routine included Dr. Patel scribbling his initials on my right hip with a Sharpie to insure they don’t replace the wrong one, which has happened, more than once!   Mine would be the first of 6 hip replacement surgeries that Dr. Patel would perform that day; each surgery taking about 60-90 minutes. I barely remember meeting the anesthesiologist and the next thing I knew I was waking up in post-op.  I did take the opportunity, or make the mistake, of watching a YouTube video on hip replacement. It looked like a construction site, with people wielding crowbars, ball pein hammers, jigsaws and power drills (Black & Decker I believe); I was surprised that everyone wasn’t wearing hard hats. The video is not for the squeamish.

After the surgery Dr. Patel came in to let me know that everything had gone very well and I asked him if I could see the piece of hip that he took out. He said that it had lots of bone spurs on it and he threw it in the ‘bone yard’. My request came from a suggestion from a friend and fellow golfer, Tom Metz, who has a great sense of humor and suggested I ask for a ‘doggie bag’ and bring the bone home for my dog to gnaw on. Yeah, he’s a little sick too.

butt

Margaritaville: “No, Mr. Sparrow you can’t go home that way!”

I must say that the staff at Hoag was unbelievable; not just professional, but I really got the sense that they enjoyed their work and did whatever it took to make my one-night stay there as comfortable as possible. They always had a smile on their face and enjoyed a good laugh. For example, I asked one of the attending nurses, Margarita Avalos (I called her ‘Margaritaville’ for ‘short’) when my catheter would be taken out. She looked at me with a very serious face and said, “Oh, it not so much when it will come out as how.” I asked what she meant, she said, “We take the end of the catheter and tie it to the door, then just slam the door.” Ouch!!!

Unlike the operation itself, I don’t get to sleep through the rehab, which is the not-so-fun part. Managing the pain is important along with doing the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist. The hardest part of rehab may be not drinking while on pain medication – and here I thought drinking was pain medication.

As part of my ‘exit interview’ they asked me when I get released was I going back to an abusive home. I didn’t think this was the time to bring up Linda’s and my heated discussion about who should take out the garbage. I will happily do it . . . now without a limp.

 

 

Summer Concerts . . . Some Are Too Big

by Bob Sparrow

u2

U2 Concert in Pasadena

As summer heads into the ‘dog days’ and recording artists wind up their very profitable summer concert schedules, I got to reading about concerts today and comparing them to concerts of yesteryear.

I discovered that back in 2009 the group U2 broke their own attendance record for the best-attended single concert performance when they performed at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to a sellout crowd of 97,014! They broke their old record of 86,145 set in 1987 at JFK stadium in Philadelphia. That Rose Bowl performance grossed $9.9 million, which was 2nd all time, only to the Three Tenors concert at Giant Stadium, New Jersey, which grossed $13.4 million. Pink Floyd was third, then the Rolling Stones with the Backstreet Boys (how did they get in there?) rounding out the top five.

rolling stones in concert

Mick Jagger one inch tall

The Rolling Stones are at the top of the list for most expensive concert ticket at $624 A PIECE! Surprisingly Fleetwood Mac is second with a price of $307 per ticket and Justin Timberlake is a close third at $293. These are actually ticket prices, scalpers can end up getting significantly more.

I have to say I’m not a big fan of the ‘big concert’ although I saw the Eagles at the Forum in Los Angels last year (their final tour since leader Glen Frey passed away in January of this year) But I find at these big concert venues, unless your seats are front and center, the performers look about a half an inch tall, so you end up watching the entire ‘live in person’ concert on the Jumbotron.

hungry i exterior

Exterior of the hungry i

I’m going to sound like the old geezer that I am here, but seeing top performing acts today is nothing like it was when I was growing up. I think back specifically to going into San Francisco’s North Beach to the ‘hungry i’ to see the Kingston Trio perform. This of course was back in the ‘folk scare era’, the acoustic age, when folk music and the Kingston Trio were really big and I was really into folk music in general and their music in particular. I was also a fan of the Limelighters, who I’d seen at the hungry i and Peter, Paul & Mary who, when they were scheduled to sing on a Friday night at the hungry i, came over to College of Marin, where I was going to school, and did a short mid-day performance at an assembly for us – not too many top acts would do that today!

For not not familiar with the odd-named hungry i, how it got its name is not really clear. Some say the ‘i’ was short for ‘intellectual’, other say it was for ‘id’, either way, the story goes that as they were painting the name over the door, the painter ran out of paint (and apparently capital letters), so all that appeared was ‘hungry i’, and so it stayed.

hungry i interior

The Kingston Trio at the hungry i

The hungry i was the spot to see all of the top folk and comedy acts of the day.  It was a brick-walled basement nightclub with a capacity of about 75 -100 people, all sitting a few feet from the slightly raised stage on one level, no balconies or other fancy seating.  John Philips, later of the Mamas & the Papa and his band, The Journeymen, were the house band. In the early days of the ‘i’, a young Barbra Streisand, who had never performed professionally in her life, begged to perform there for a single night promising that someday she would come back as a big star – I think she kept her promise!

And even though I did see, and I do mean see because I couldn’t hear, the Beatles perform in the Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1964, my favorite all-time concert was the night I saw the Kingston Trio at the hungry i. It was a double date with my good friend Don, but for the life of me I can’t remember either of our dates. (I hope we talked to them at some point during the evening!)

album coverThe Trio walked right past our seats on the aisle as they took the stage. No electronics, no speakers, just three guys (plus their stand-up bass player, ‘Buckwheat’) singing and playing their guitars and banjo. It was like they were singing to us. They would interact with the audience throughout the concert, we could actually see the expressions on their face. If you ever get a chance to listen to a ‘live’ recording of an act from the hungry i, you won’t hear thunderous applause because there are so few people there, but it’s probably ‘Standing Room Only’.   And I know they didn’t set any records that night for top grossing performance – tickets were about $15

Later this year I will see Jimmy Buffett (yes, again!) at Irvine Meadows, at a large (15,000) amphitheater that will close its doors forever after his performance.  Even thought I love his concerts, I won’t feel that Jimmy will be talking or singing to me and he will only be about a quarter inch high on the Jumbotron. It will be enjoyable, but it won’t be the Kingston Trio at the hungry i.  I realize you can never go back, in fact the hungry i has moved down the street and is now a strip club.

 

 

Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear Lake?

 by Bob Sparrow

arrowhead queen

The Arrowhead Queen

There are two major mountain lakes in southern California, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake, they are both in the San Bernardino National Forest about 25 miles apart. They’ve been sibling rivals since 1922, when a dam was built to form Lake Arrowhead. They are both man-made lakes, with the dam that formed Big Bear Lake constructed back in 1884.

Having grown up around Lake Tahoe, I have a deep appreciation for scenic mountain lakes, so have visited both of these local resorts on numerous occasions, Arrowhead more than Big Bear, primarily because it’s a little closer and esthetically more appealing to me. In fact I had not been to Big Bear in several years, until a few weeks ago, when I  visited my daughter, Dana’s mother-in-law’s place to check out the ‘new’ Big Bear. I say ‘new’ because over the last several years, Big Bear has made a concerted effort to up-grade its redheaded stepchild image, with considerable success I might add.

BigBearVillageWinter

The Village at Big Bear Lake in Winter

As I explored Big Bear, I imagined a discussion between these two alpine lakes going something like this . . .

Lake Arrowhead (LA): “It’s nice to see that you’re finally cleaning up your act.”

Big Bear (BB): “Yeah, well let’s see what you look like when you get to be 132 years old!”

LA: “Why do they even call you Big Bear anyway, there are no big bears around?”

BB: “There used to be lots of Grizzlies here until man hunted them into extinction; and by the way, they used to call you Little Bear Lake’

LA: “But I still have 14 miles of beautiful shoreline.”

BB: “I have 22, which is why you were called Little Bear!”

LA: “You used to have 22 not-as-beautiful-shoreline-as-mine, but it’s shrunk considerably with the drought.”

BB: “Same shoreline, just much more beach now for a population of just over 5,000 to enjoy.”

LA: “That’s nothing; I have a population of over 12,000.”

BB: “So you’re saying that it’s more crowded there than it is here?”

Celebrity-Homes1

Celebrity homes on Lake Arrowhead

LA: “If crowded means we’ve had more star’s homes here like Tom Selleck, Shirley Temple Black, Priscilla Presley, Brian Wilson, Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson, then yes, I guess we’re more crowded.”

BB: “Yeah, well we have the homes of Britney Spears, Mike Judge, who did the voices for Beavis and Butthead, Michael Richards, Krammer on Seinfeld, the metal band, Korn, and Richard Karn, who was the sidekick to Tim Allen in Home Improvement.

LA: “See, you have to explain who your ‘stars’ are; Michael Jackson needs no explanation.”

BB:Michael Jackson needs a lot of explanation, but that’s besides the point. So let’s stay in the show business genre, what movies have been shot there?”

LA: The Courtship of Miles Standish, The American President and Space Jam to name a few.”

Gone

“Frankly Scarlet . . .

BB: “Yeah, a few that are not very well known. Here’s some of mine you might remember: Heidi, Shane, Old Yeller and you may recall this one, Gone With the Wind. Case closed, let’s move on the skiing.”

LA: “We have great water skiing.”

BB: “You are a ‘private‘ lake and many activities are restricted to residents only. I have two marinas where the public can rent pontoon boats, go fishing, rent fishing equipment, take wakeboard or waterski rides, rent kayaks and canoes and ride a pirate ship.”

LA: “Well, the public can take a ride on my Arrowhead Queen and see all the spectacular celebrity homes around the lake.”

BB: “So what happens in the winter? How’s snow skiing at your elevation of 5,174?”

LA: “Well, we have Snow Valley fairly close by”

BB: “But it’s actually closer to me and I’m at 6,750 feet elevation; we also have Bear Mountain and Snow Summit at 8,200 feet elevation; so we are clearly the winter destination. Let’s move on, how’s your summer hiking trails?”

LA: “They’re awesome; I have Goat Trail, Little Bear Creek, Heaps Peak, Crab Creek, Little Green Valley and many more.”

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View of Big Bear Lake from Pacific Crest Trail

BB: “Not bad I guess, but I have Heart Rock, Vivian Creek, Castle Rock, Deep Creek Hot Springs, Big Falls, Cougar Crest and, oh yeah the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Mexico to Canada, runs right by me.”

LA: “Fine! Let’s talk about golf; do you have anything to compare to Arrowhead Golf and Country Club?”

BB: “No, not really, I’ll leave the country club set to you. I’ll admit you’re prettier than I am, but your ‘Village’ is looking fairly tired and my ‘Village’ is buzzing with new shops, restaurants and bars; summer or winter this is the place to be.”

LA: “But you said I’m still prettier right?”

Okay kids, enough! The fact is that neither one is a Lake Tahoe, but for my money, if you’re an adventurer, Big Bear Lake is probably your best destination in the summer and for sure in the winter, but if you just want to get to the mountains to enjoy some clean air and the scenery of a beautiful mountain lake, rent a home on Lake Arrowhead or stay lake-side at the luxurious Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa and take a cruise on the Arrowhead Queen.