Monday, October 20, 2014

Brian Wilson and George Martin in the Studio and a Few Reflections

The Beach Boys were really a part of my siblings generation. I have a sister almost a decade older and two brothers almost twenty years my senior, and yes, I was planned and wanted. I had a fantastic childhood. But it was always older brothers and sisters of my immediate friends in the Midwestern neighborhood that I was born and raised in who blasted Beach Boys albums through Hi-Fi's--what we know today as stereos with separate channels and not just Monaural recordings--single track. It wasn't until the 1980's that a friend with whom I worked a magazine delivery route brought me up to speed on Brian Wilson. His CD "Brian Wilson" was very much an example of "breaking out" of a self-imposed veil of silence after years of personal and professional trials. This CD was an amazing triumph (my favorite cut was "Let It Shine") and I began to learn about Brian's legendary status in the recording studio.
Despite having hearing in only one ear, he mastered a process roughly called "layering", whereupon he would take harmonies, but also a myriad of musical instruments many of us learned about in our grade school music classes--and he would combine them. I've always looked upon this process as taking the most complicated Algebraic problem and boiling it down to its simplest elements to solve the equation. This came easier to Brian than perhaps anyone else in the industry. And it must be said that in the 1960s, Brian was the progenitor of this process. It also bears noting that to be understood as a genius, referred to as a genius, and regarded as a genius today--as Wilson is-- exacts a tremendous pressure to live up to that term, well intentioned as it is noble. I have one brother (whom I believe from comments during a brief discussion on The Beach Boys as a subject in 2012) who has all but written Brian off. This is neither a dismissal at my brother nor Brian. It's merely rooted in a misunderstanding of Brian's life and all the challenges that he overcame. Today, Wilson is victorious and productive. Witness for example how he is regarded with utmost respect from another legend in this film, George Martin, famous for his recording studio work for decades with The Beatles. There is an assumed collegial respect. This is appropriate.
Years after Brian's return to touring and the aforementioned CD, of course, I went back and began listening and collecting classic Beach Boys vinyl albums from "Surfin' Safari" to ""Sunflower", "Surf's Up", "Holland" and "That's Why God Made the Radio".  As I've documented well on these pages in the past, I managed to catch The Beach Boys in concert here in Phoenix, Arizona at Grand Canyon University back in 2012, where PBS Television filmed the concert for rebroadcast. I correctly knew that I had to seize the moment, given the extraordinary touring musicians who were assembled for their 50th Anniversary World Tour; this was a "once in a lifetime" event, and I sensed that this particular lineup of original band members and supporting musicians would not be returning. This gut level feeling of mine (inherited from my late Dad) proved to be true just two dates short of the tour's end (which is a story perhaps for another time).  
Looking back at comments from my magazine route buddy who introduced me to Brian's 1980s solo CD, he was correct when he said, "You can hear so clearly where that Beach Boys sound came from". Alternately called "The California Sound" and "The California Surfing Sound", Brian Wilson remains as relevant today, writing and touring with his own band.
Over two years ago, I had a high compliment paid to me from a California friend who stated to my eldest brother of my work, "He still has it, doesn't he?" To which my brother replied in the affirmative. Even if that outcome was different,  I would be just as proud of my brother and his own achievements, albeit, in a much different career field. But it's nice to be recognized as having value and relevancy. It's a good feeling.
The Beach Boys story is far too lengthy and involved to incorporate in a mere blog post. But suffice to say, Brian Wilson "still has it" when it comes to being the eminent singer/songwriter/producer and arranger. This fact is most evident in receiving a visit by the great George Martin, and have him recognize through the spoken word Brian's phenomenal achievements then and today. Wouldn't we all be thrilled with the opportunity to visit Brian Wilson over an afternoon to casually discuss the creation of a sound so unique and identifiable, that the world still holds him in great esteem? Well done and well earned!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Return of Jay Leno!

Wikipedia (Public Domain)
Jay Leno returns to host a fun, new show!
Michael Manning
"The show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise. We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind the men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century."
--Jay Leno
If you've been around this Blog Page long enough, you know how dedicated I am to reinventing a broadcasting career--and I don't mean mine alone. I sincerely enjoy watching what others are doing to remain relevant in this age of multi-media saturation. Apart from my recent Op/Ed "When Television and Radio Was King" (you can review it by clicking HERE), I've admired just about every person who has "broken the mold" to leave traditional television and radio news, or rebound from a senseless purge at a traditional station in either medium. Now comes Jay Leno's Garage--a true Web phenomenon that will boost ratings for CNBC Television! "Why is that?", you might ask wistfully. Simple.
There's a wonderful transition from vocation to avocation. Leno left "The Tonight Show" at the top of the ratings. Over at "The Garage", you can sense that he loves collecting, repairing, restoring and driving cars. He shares a love of cars that many of us developed as kids--in my case at age 6. Jay is genuinely curious about car designers, their thoughts, ambitions, successes (and also less than stellar outings). His collection is well balanced and he is incredibly knowledgeable about his hobby. Gone now are the ratings pressures. His passion will carry this show with a genuine sense of fun and adventure.
Photo--Michael Manning
Word has it that we can expect a 2015 premiere on CNBC with more restoration stories and road tests. Leno remains busy as a comedian, and is scheduled to appear in Scottsdale, Arizona at The Talking Stick Resort on November 22nd. I'm certain that the financial network (CNBC) will also have Jay regale us in more than a few good cars for investments. It will be fun to see him back--renewed and in a position doing what he loves, as always!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Update for Trevor Tredaway in November...

(Photo: Todd & Melinda Tredaway)
Trevor Tredaway with his sister Morgan
Here is a follow up from Melinda Tredaway about surgery scheduled for Trevor at St. Jude:
"This is an old pic, but it's one of my favorites from summer. So, we have a date. Trevor's brain surgery is scheduled for November 7. We have to be in Memphis on the 5th to meet with the neurosurgeon and ask our questions that we have. He will have pre-op testing done on the 6th. Then surgery is on the 7th at 7:30 in the morning. Don't know what to think or feel right now, other than the fact that it's brain surgery...because there's a cancerous tumor in his perfect head. This surgery is almost 6 years to the date of his last one, which was November 10, 2008. I have another surgery on the 29th of this month, so I just hope I'm back to normal ASAP to be able to take care of Trevor. I just pray for skilled perfection in the neurosurgeon's hands, removal of the entire tumor, that this will be considered a cure for Trevor, and that he will wake up the same loving, ornery, and stubborn boy that he is."
Again, I'm posting this note for anyone who is not a Facebook user. Please keep Trevor and his family in your thoughts and prayers, particularly now that Trevor and Melinda both have surgeries scheduled.
Facebook users: Please leave an encouraging message to Melinda Ricketson Tredaway at her Facebook site. She and Trevor are remarkable, and I feel very confident about their next step as they endeavor to become cancer-free. They need our support and caring!  




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Continental and United Airlines Merger Part 1 of 2 in November Issue of Airliner World Magazine

Image--Airliner World
In the November issue of Airliner World, I feature the first of a two-part series on the merger between Continental and United Airlines. I also examine 6 influential personalities at both carriers along a historical time line. Available soon at fine bookstores and newsstands worldwide!
All Photos--United Airlines
Robert F. "Big Bob" Six, former CEO of Continental Airlines

Frank Lorenzo, former Chairman Texas Air Corporation

Gordon Bethune, former CEO Continental Airlines

The events in the U.S. commercial aviation industry have been quite dramatic over the past 34  years since passage of the Airline Deregulation Act. We've witnessed over 200 airline start-ups and failures, and the amalgamation of 22 U.S. airlines. This is the story of how the world's largest airline came into existence. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Look Back at Some Memorable Moments from My Guests (Part 4)

"I'd like to say that I had the vision and plan and executed it in a timely, controlled way. But the truth is at first, I never focused on trying to make a living with music. I was just making music to help keep my own heart and head alive and to share some of what I was learning with others. The money kinda straggled in later, until I had to choose between throwing myself back into the corporate world--kinda unthinkable--or take the small leap of faith and find out where music could go. It's a bit trite to say it, but now I have both a living and a life. More than anything, I love saying 'a musician' when asked what I do."
David M. Bailey, Christian Singer-Songwriter (1966 - 2010).

Glen Langdon
“I attempted to make small talk with the driver and, given our inability to speak the other's language, we communicated fairly well. However, I became increasingly nervous because the driver never allowed the speedometer to drop below 120 miles per hour. I asked why he was driving so fast and was met with silence. The scenery was racing past the windows in a blur. I persisted and asked him to slow down. No answer. I asked again. This time the driver whipped out his cell phone and dialed one-handed as he sped down the road. After several minutes of rapid fire Spanish, the driver handed the cell phone to me - it was the Chief of Maintenance for the airline on the other end - and he explained in English that the stretch of highway that we were on was infamous in Venezuela for armed holdups complete with barricades and machine guns and the kidnapping for ransom of foreign businessmen.”
Glen Langdon, president, Langdon Asset Management.

Bud Buckley
“There's still some of that in this one. ’Crowded Memory’ took place spontaneously when I was looking at a poster a parent had made for me. It was the (Beatles) Sergeant Pepper cover with all the faces of my class and me pasted in. Kathy Feeney gave me the chorus "Miles and years mean nothing against our friendship," when I retired and left New York. She was my student, muse and constant friend. And of course I wrote "Elevator" and "Keeping Secrets" with Kathy based on her experiences. The rest came from different experiences since I moved down here. I guess I have issues with time. I fill it all up and it goes too fast. So I'm a health nut, to try to squeeze a bit more time out of this organism I'm using and calling ‘Bud.’"
Bud Buckley, Venice, Florida-based Singer-Songwriter and former School Teacher.

Jim Tilmon
“Anyhow, I had to go home and tell my dad that I had several adults who went berserk in my presence. He said, “I want you to listen to me very carefully. If you really want to be a pilot, and you believe that you can fly, and you're willing to pay the price, you'll be a pilot”. And that advice stayed with me for the rest of my life. It was the one thing that gave me the confidence and the power to withstand whatever would be thrown at me—and trust me, there was pretty heavy-duty things that were thrown at me.”
Jim Tilmon, CNN Aviation Analyst, former American Airlines Pilot and Chicago Television Meteorologist and Broadcasting Personality.
A Post Script: When I was in the 6th Grade, I created a sort of template for my career--probably without fully realizing it. I knew I wanted to write and be published, to have my own radio show, to be in television commercials, and to play music. I've interviewed some amazing guests. I'm still young, and I plan to interview many more. Because if this short series of posts has revealed anything to you, it's that the world is filled with magnificent people who each have a story to share.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Look Back at Some Memorable Moments from My Guests (Part 3)

“Success is when one takes chances in life...and responsibilities for the chances in life! The reason that I say that is because you have to be careful in this day and age with what's out there. But you also have to just get out there and take a chance sometime and do something that you really want to do. And if you fail, then don't let it really get you down. Just pick yourself up and go to the next step, and something will happen.”
Barbara Leigh, Film & Television Actress, Model, Author and Philanthropist

“Years later I did watch my Dad on The Mike Douglas Show several times. In fact every time my Dad and Mom performed on the "The Mike Douglas Show" --because it was an afternoon show-- we told our grade school principal and they had an assembly and most of the school watched it with us. My family was the talk of the school in those days. And my Dad and Mom also did the Bozo TV Show for WGN many times. So in short, growing up in our house was exciting. There was always that energy of the time before the show. The importance of ‘getting there to be ready to do the act at the agreed upon time’".
Glenn Bishop, Chicago-based Magician

“Not all pets that end up in animal shelters are abused, nor do they all have behavior problems. That’s a misconception. In fact, 20 percent of all animals in shelters are purebreds, so if you’re looking for a specific breed, start with your local shelter or rescue group. Don’t go to a pet store, as many animals from pet stores come from puppy mills, which are sub-standard commercial breeding operations where animals suffer. I have five rescued pets, and I’ve never regretted having any of them. They are all valuable members of my family”.
Joe Pentangelo, co-host of the Television Program “Animal Precinct” and a Law Enforcement Officer with the New York ASPCA

“My essays are long poems, mostly nature inspired. My poems are hopeful, but not so very poet-like. My short stories free me, as they allow me to create that quirky strange world with quirky strange characters, and to do it quickly! My novels will break your heart as you read them, but then at the end you sigh, because you know the heart is seared back together again, imperfect, different than before, but stronger”.
Author Kathryn Magendie



Friday, October 10, 2014

A Look Back at Some Memorable Moments from My Guests (Part 2)

Columbia Pictures

Ben Johnson

Jeb Rosebrook
...”And Ben Johnson! There were two great things about Ben Johnson. The first, when we were doing rehearsals for a week, Steve told everybody "This guy sitting here right next to me is going to win an Academy Award this year. I saw the rough cut last week of 'The Last Picture Show' and he's going to win the award." Secondly, Steve nailed me again. Once in a while, I can come up with a good line. Like, at the end of the fight (scene) somebody said "What do we do now?" and I said "Let's play 'Star Spangled Banner'--let's play something patriotic". And I wandered over to the bar when Robert Preston says "Up to the mouth, over the gums, look out stomach here she comes. If this world's all about winners, what's for losers?" I had a line in there and Steve didn't like the line. So he said, "Give me a line". Finally, Ben was sitting next to Steve and he said, "Some body's gotta hold the horses don't they?.” Now, he had probably stolen that from John Ford, but it worked! That in essence, when it works is what moviemaking can be about”.
--Jeb Rosebrook, author and screenwriter of the 1972 Steve McQueen film, “Junior Bonner”.

Colonel Frank Borman
“Well, you know I think the proudest achievement while I was at NASA was that I played a role in helping us beat the Soviets to the Moon. That was very important. We had a mission there, and everything was oriented to doing the mission. At Eastern, I was really proud of the fact that we were able to resurrect what was a dying airline and make a go of it. It was a severe disappointment when we had to sell out. But I still think that we gave it the very best that we could, and I'm arrogant enough to think that nobody, no management team could have done any better. And since then, I've just been a happy grandfather”.
--Colonel Frank Borman, NASA Astronaut and former Eastern Airlines CEO.

“What television needs today are faces and minds like yours and mine! Back in the early sixties, my late husband once made a comment that ‘It took forty years to kill radio, and now it looks like it’s going to take twenty to kill television’. He was talking about some of the new programs that were being planned. I think that many people who think as I do always hope to learn something from whatever it is that they see on television. I have a Cablevision service with over one thousand channels. Yet, I have to really search to find a program that will either entertain me or that I can learn from or be informed by”.
--Florette Vassall, Brooklyn Cable Television host, actress, author and founder of the EVVY Cultural Interchange and The EVVY Fashion Awards, New York City.