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Posts Tagged ‘Paul McCartney’

The New York Times’ media writer, the iconoclastic David Carr, sawed away mercilessly Monday at two of the nation’s major newspapers chains, Gannett and Tribune Co.

In his weekly column, Carr said that current and former executives at those two companies (and, really, you could lump in several others, including McClatchy, which owns The Star) were just as guilty of corporate greed and self-enrichment as Wall Street bankers.

He cited the case of Craig A. Dubow, who resigned recently as Gannett’s chief executive.

“His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster,” Carr wrote. “Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.”

And was Dubow shown the door for that miserable performance? Oh, no, He retired on his own volition and “walked out the door with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits.

“That comes on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years,” Carr continued.

Carr said: “Forget about occupying Wall Street; maybe it’s time to start occupying Main Street, a place Gannett has bled dry by offering less and less news while dumping and furloughing journalists in seemingly every quarter.”

The same words could be spoken about McClatchy, which has bled The Star dry, with its overall employment going from about 2,000 several years ago to about 750 now.

It’s even worse at the Tribune Co., which owns The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Sun (of Baltimore), among others. Sam Zell, a blunderbuss with a background in radio-station ownership, bought Tribune in 2007 and quickly ran it into the ground — and bankruptcy court.

More than 4,000 people have lost their jobs at Tribune properties, and the Zell-appointed leaders who remain are eligible for a bonus pool of $26.4 million to $32.4 million under the current plan to exit bankruptcy.

Carr summed up the situation this way…

“No one, least of all me, is suggesting that running a newspaper is a piece of cake. But the people in the industry who are content to slide people out of the back of the truck until it runs out of gas not only don’t deserve tens of millions in bonuses, they don’t deserve jobs.”

…What a disgrace. What a terrible plague “corporate journalism” has afflicted on the newspaper industry. My heart goes out to the thousands of good, honest journalists who didn’t get in the business to get rich but who are getting the shaft from executives doing just that.

***

Now, observations on a couple of strictly local stories…

:: You know how The Star rates the regional college football teams each week?

Well, the Southwest Early College football coach gets a big, fat “F” this week for failing to call police after someone shot holes in the side of the bus after a game last Friday at the former Southeast High School football field at Meyer Boulevard and Swope Parkway.

According to a story in Thursday’s Star, coach Tim Johnson told police he waited until Sunday morning to file a police report because he had thought district administrators were going to report it.

WTF??!!

The bus starts to leave the Southeast grounds; shots are fired; kids on the bus are yelling and ducking under the seats; and the bus manages to get away without anyone on the bus being shot.

Then, the after the bus arrives back at Southwest, everybody piles out and checks out the bullet holes, and, apparently, the coach either bids the boys goodnight and sends them home, or he reports the incident to an administrator and then sends the boys home.

Holy shit! How would you entrust your kid’s safety to a guy like that? Did he fail to pick up the phone and call police? Or did he talk to an administrator and the administrator said, “Yeah, yeah, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

Either way, it looks to me like the coach should be fired, and, if he reported it to an administrator — and the administrator didn’t report it immediately — the administrator should be fired, too.

Unfortunately, we’re talking about the Kansas City School District, where screw-ups are the norm.

:: Mary Sanchez wrote a nice piece yesterday about plans to raze Kemper Arena, which was built in the early 1970s.

She talked about some of the great musical artists who performed at the arena, including Paul McCartney and Wings in 1976.

My God, do I remember that night!

It was May 29, 1976 (I had to look it up) — a warm, beautiful evening. I was covering the Jackson County Courthouse for The Star, and the country assessor sold me his tickets…The county manager fixed me up with the sister of a friend…I was set.

I picked up the young lady, and we had some drinks and, as I recall, smoked a couple of joints. Our seats were down low, close to floor level, about halfway back from the stage, which was softly lighted in shades of blue, red and yellow.

From the first chords, the music was incredible. Just about the time McCartney and his wife Linda and the band got cranked up, though, my date told me she was feeling bad and was going to the restroom.

McCartney poured on, great song after great song — “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It,” “Lady Madonna,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Blue Bird,” “Listen to What the Man Said,” “Hi, Hi, Hi,” and the incomparable “Band on the Run.”

After a few songs, I was torn between the music and thoughts about my date, suffering in the restroom. I walked up to the concourse and found her outside the restroom, looking pale and weak, and I asked her what she wanted to do. Selflessly, she told me to go back and watch the concert, assuring me she would be OK.

Well, I don’t know whether this was the right thing to do, but…I followed orders. I went back and watched the rest of the greatest concert I’ve ever seen. I whooped and hollered and swooned and felt like I’d been transported to a magical world.

I don’t remember much about the aftermath of the concert. I hooked up with my date and took her home…Pretty sure I didn’t get kissed. And, of course, that was the only date I ever had with her.

She was a nice kid; her name was Kathy. I’m sure she was a good catch for some guy.

If for no other reason than that concert, I will never forget Kemper Arena. I sloshed through the muddy grounds of the place many times, going to lousy Kansas City Kings basketball games, circuses and other stupid events, but the event I’ll always remember was Wings Over America!

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It’s a happy day in JimmyC land because a missive has arrived from my oldest friend, Hubartos vanDrehl, the Prince of Paonia…Colorado, that is.

If you’ll recall, when last we heard from vanDrehl (see June 18 blog), he was inveighing against Buttcrack Nation and other discomfitting societal situations. I invited vanDrehl to write another blog entry soon. But I guess when you’re the mystic of the mountains, time is irrelevant. And, besides, in vanDrehl’s mysterious realm perhaps six weeks qualifies as soon.

At any rate, yesterday’s entry about last Saturday’s Paul McCartney concert sparked vanDrehl’s creative juices, and here are his words of…well, I would like to say “wisdom,” but I’ll let you be the judge.   

P.S. Before we launch, I must make a correction. In the June 18 blog, I offered an incorrect pronunciation of vanDrehl’s name. Like I say, he’s my oldest friend, and sometimes you forget small things like that. For the record, it’s pronounced van-drell, as in Archie Bell and the Drells. (I need to tighten up, don’t you know?)    

*****    

My Dear JimmyC,

Interesting. Interesting that you would wax nostalgic about a pale 70s version of an over-produced and over-hyped quartet of charming 60s mop tops that is still being shoved down the throats of people not yet born when the Bee’uls roamed the earth.

Also interesting is that I distinctly remember your dazed, confused and offended feelings about that disheveled time in the Sixties when a lot of us spoiled, pampered and indulged Boomers were feeling frisky.

I think the Seventies were your decade of choice, after having escaped the suffocating clutches of our hometown in order to breathe and grow. Being overly nostalgic about our Catholic-Boys’ education and paltry social life would be like laughing and telling funny stories about service in an ugly war. Being angry about our terrorized upbringing under the thumb of Holy Mother Church is like being angry at an ancient Nazi death-camp guard on trial and life support.

The 60s and 70s died with Lennon in 1980, when he took a bullet for fame. You remember him? He was the best and brightest Bee’ul, with tons more brains and talent than Cutie-Pie Paul. I believe it was Satchel Paige who said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

We were born in 1946, the first of the Boomers, and we’ve been making them pay attention to, and pay for, our sins ever since. Having turned this country into a spiritually, culturally, creatively, morally and financially bankrupt wasteland that produces nothing, stands for nothing and consumes everything with the help of 60 years of television and other types of useless information that oozes from pixel-ated surfaces, the Boomers should repair to the barn. Had I been your date the other night for the “Tour Down Memory Lane,” I would have stayed in the bathroom like your long-ago candidate for date rape. You owe her a civil apology and a night on the town if you can find your walker.

Like the old song says, these are the good old days. And like the yogis say, be here now. Yes, these are the good old days, JimmyC. Have a good one on me: The tab’s actually being picked up by the next generation(s). Boomers ride free.

I Remain,

A Detached Observer Somewhere On the Western Slope of Colorado,

Hubartos vanDrehl

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I have felt a vague sense of loss and unease the last few days, since going to the Paul McCartney concert Saturday night.

The concert — even the anticipation of it — prompted a wave a of nostalgia and introspection. Anchored at the root of those feelings were the memories from the last McCartney concert I attended, and the realization that a vast expanse of time (gone forever) and life changes (good and bad), had intervened between the two McCartney shows I have been privileged to see.

The first was in May 1976, when I was a young reporter for The Star, covering the Jackson County Courthouse. On the personal front, I was flailing romantically and still trying to find a sense of belonging in Kansas City.

On the day of the concert, as I recall, then-county assessor Wayne Tenenbaum offered to sell me his two tickets at face value because he couldn’t go. I needed a date, and another administrator, Bob Bosch, fixed me up with the sister of a friend. Bam, bam. Just like that, on a warm spring night, I was headed to Kemper Arena to see Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings. It was the Wings Over America Tour, which followed closely on the heels of the release of Wings’ Venus and Mars album.  

My date and I did some pre-concert drinking (and probably a little smoking). From the first song — I don’t remember what it was — I could tell it was going to be a memorable show. Paul was totally focused. He didn’t indulge in much chit-chat. Just song after killer song. His voice — and the accompanying music — was clear, strong and dazzling. I remember, in particular, the soaring strains of “Maybe I’m Amazed” — the lilting “ooooooww, wooo-oo-ooo-ooo, ahahh.” I was dazed, amazed and transfixed.    

Not long into the concert, my date was taken ill, undoubtedly from the pre-party indulgence. I was torn as to what to do. I felt an obligation to comfort and attend to her, but, at the same time, I didn’t want to miss this concert. She hunkered in the restroom. I felt bad for her and checked on her a while later, but she sent me back into the arena, telling me to enjoy the show. Her selflessness was remarkable. And, regrettably, she missed the concert of a lifetime. It was our only date. 

Paul and Linda, 1976

Analyzing that concert in retrospect, I think that Linda McCartney played a large role in its magic. Even though she did mostly background vocals and percussion, she was the glue, and she was a picture of grace, femininity and professionalism. And everyone realized that she and Paul were a rock solid team, the foundation on which everything was built.    

Of course, it was a lot different on Saturday night. Paul is 68, not 34. His star is not ascending; it is holding, at best. And Linda is dead and gone. The four other band members – great musicians, for sure — were all men. To me, Linda’s absence was conspicuous.

Even before the concert started, I realized in my heart that it wouldn’t, couldn’t, measure up to the experience of 1976. Nevertheless, Paul was amazing. He still hits most of the notes, perhaps not with quite as much power, but he gets there. And he played many of the same songs he performed in 1976, such as “Jet,” “Let Me Roll It” and “Letting Go.” They sounded good. Very good. I stood and moved with the music, along with the rest of the huge crowd.

Instead of grabbing the crowd by the throat, Paul stroked and patted, for the most part. As you would expect from a retrospective, he did more talking between songs and exhibited more gestures of gratitude, such as raising the guitar above his head several times and forming a heart with his hands above his head at other times.

There was at least one song, however, when I felt the old intensity. It was “Band on the Run,” the great song about the “county judge who held a grudge.”  It’s got that slow, lazy start that segues, seamlessly, into a hard-driving rhythm and culminates with a full-throated guitar chord that socks you in the gut. If you don’t feel it in your gut, your hard wiring is fatally flawed.     

Of course, it wasn’t just Paul who had changed, but me, too. I am 64, not 30. And I didn’t arrive at the concert “high and primed” as I did 34 years ago. I was with my wife and 22-year-old daughter, so there was no pre-concert overindulgence, just a couple of drinks at Raglan Road.

And there was a side story. Through a bit of luck, while at the bar, my daughter got a brief audience with the g.m. for a job as a hostess. The g.m. told her he’d call her for an interview. Today, she goes in for that interview….Let youth be served. It’s her generation that is ascending now.

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