Monday, December 30, 2013

My Year in Review: Part 1 - Names and Faces

Yes, it’s the end of the year and time for looking back:
At least that's what I think you're supposed to do, especially if you
have nothing else to write about. So this is Part 1 of a scheduled two parter. The subject is passings, a popular subject about now.

When I watch the Oscars or Tony’s, or CBS Sunday Morning at year’s end, 
I see the faces fade in and out to a lovely tune as tribute is paid
to artists, newsmakers, personalities, people of some import
who have died. Invariably I find myself feeling more touched by some than others. Sometimes it’s sheer likability, others I feel connected to, 
still there are those who have meaning in a grander sense.

I hadn’t intended to make my last blog of 2013 about the
“dearly departed,”  but there are some who I feel compelled
to mention. They made my life more pleasurable and meaningful
in their distinctive ways. If it helps, you can pull up a recording 
of “Memory” or “Yesterday” or “The Way We Were” to help set the mood. 
Or even better, Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues.”Duke's "Jeep's Blues"

So here is Part 1 of this year-end blog. Part 2 is a day or two behind it, or at least that's my plan. 

In no particular order:
"Forgiveness." What a powerful word he taught the world.
It's something we need a lot more of. And he has a very cool last name, 
except he added an "a."

Guitar player #1: Jim Hall. I've been listening to
this guy for the past 30 or 40 years and he was so tasteful, 
always played with top musicians or strictly solo. 

"Less is more." Elmore Leonard practiced it, captured so much story and character in a few words. I listened to his "Tishomingo Blues" read by Frank Muller on a long car trip this year and the miles went by quickly. Add to that one of my favorite - and best written - TV shows, "Justified," which returns next week!! It's based on one of Elmore's stories.

Guitar player #2: J.J. Cale. You may not have
heard of him. I love his easy, southern, bluesey style.
He and Ry Cooder are 2 of my favorites from that school.

If you recognize her, give yourself a gold star.
She's Patty Andrews, the last of the famous Andrew Sisters who kept the GI's, and a lot of us kids at home, singing and swinging during the 40's and 50's. She and Maxine and Laverne made musical history. Like this one: 

I used to like boxing; not any more. But this is one of the guys I loved to watch, a real pro, champ in many weight categories, and a complex life story
beautifully told by St. Louis' Opera Theater in "Champion" this year. 
His name is Emile Griffith      A short look at Emile & Benny Paret

Tony Soprano and so much more. James and his families kept my wife and I seated in front of our TV set every Sunday night, beginning in 1999 for several seasons. We're still waiting for his final movie to be released.

There never was a comic mind like his. I met Jonathan Winters many years ago when I was in LA at Bell recording studio. He was waiting for someone. I asked him for an autograph. He said okay, put a yellow writing tablet on his lap and started writing. Ten minutes later he finished and signed it. He had written three pages, a story that was as wild and funny as a routine. I gave it to my daughter when I came home and don't know where it is today.

Some great actors died this past year. One of my favorites was Peter O'Toole, a bigger than life actor and person. When I read about his "carousing" in the NY Times obit, I was surprised he lived this long. "Lawrence of Arabia" is
still one of my favorites, along with "Becket" and "The Lion in Winter."
And he never won an Oscar. 

This may just be the one where I feel the most loss.
Stan Musial. It's all been said. I saw him play when I was ten years old, at Sportsman's Park with my dad. Stan was baseball to me for the rest of these years. I even liked the steaks at Musial and Biggie's more because of Stan. My first team was Musial, Schoendienst, Slaughter, Kurowski, Medwick, Marion, Potter, Brazle, Brecheen, Cooper, Moore.

There were others. Many others who touched my life, either personally or through the media. But that's enough "passing" for now. 

Time to see if I can conjure up a Part 2, on a totally different subject.


  1. Gerry--Your Jonathan Wiinters story was quite illuminating. It showed his true, over-the-top brilliance.

    Yes, this year we lost many great artists and a phenomenal leader...

  2. We lost a lot of our good friends and classmates along the way. Thank G-D many of us are still around to remember and praise them

  3. Gerry---thanx 4 introducing me 2 Jim Hall.

  4. I was lucky enough to attend a lecture given by Elmore Leonard. Nice reminders of some of my favorite people. I tried to be Jonathan Winters when I was a kid.

  5. Gerry, your personal connections with so many of these artists is reflective of you and your talent. I didn't know some of these cultural figures had died. I think that each generation holds dear the people who were part of our lives. --Janet

  6. Hi Gerry,
    Some of these, of course, I knew about, others not so much. The thing about you, you care, you pay attention, you have good cultural taste. You illuminate, Ger.

    Happy New Year from one of your ardent admirers,

  7. Very touching, Ger! I listened to Jeep's Blues while reading, and you're right: It was the perfect accompaniment.

  8. Thanks for the memories…