Category Archives: entertainment news

Happy Trails, Part 91

This segment of the “Happy Trails” series perhaps offers you a clue as to what it’s all about. I’ll tell you anyway. I get asked occasionally about retirement and if we have any “bucket list” destinations we want to see before we, um, kick it.

I’ll speak only for myself on this one, because of the two of us — that would be wife and me — I am the one who is most interested in doing a Beatles tour of England.

I know a couple in Amarillo who have done this kind of tour. Mike and Kathy Haynes took a tour of England years ago to visit the places where four young men came of age, got their musical start and eventually changed popular culture … forever and ever!

You know their names: John, Paul, Ringo and George (from left to right in the picture).

When I get asked the bucket list question, I usually say something like going to Australia, which has fascinated me since I was a little boy and my Dad pondered whether to pursue a career opportunity Down Under.

I keep forgetting to mention a tour of The Beatles’ home country! What is the matter with me?

A New York Times article, which one of my sons posted on Twitter — noting that “my dad would love this” — tells how Liz and Ricky Robbins did what my friends Mike and Kathy did.

Read the NY Times piece here.

Hey, I still mourn the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. I am proud that the Queen knighted Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard (Ringo Starr) Starkey.

I still know most of the words to most of the songs The Beatles recorded. Yes, even some of the more obscure tunes. I do quite well answering Beatles questions on “Jeopardy!”

I actually got caught up in that nonsense about Paul being “dead” in 1969. However, I my wife and I were able to see a very much alive Sir Paul perform in The Astrodome in 1993 and we saw Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” show at the Cal Farley Coliseum in Amarillo some years after that.

One more thing: The very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended was in August 1965, in my hometown of Portland, Ore., happened to be The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row-center seats for my sister and me.

There you have it. This is my ultimate “bucket list” destination in retirement. I have no worries that I’ll outlive worldwide interest in The Beatles.

I just need to get there. Sooner, rather than later. As I’ve noted many times over the years: Those four lads helped raise me.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Ringo, er … Richard

This is some problem to encounter from this day forward.

How does one refer to Ringo Starr, who’s now a knight? You see, The Beatles’ drummer used his real name, Richard Starkey, to receive his knighthood from the British crown.

But to those of us who came of age when Ringo and his bandmates — John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — were blazing new popular culture trails, he was just Ringo. The goofy Beatle. The shortest one of the four of them. The guy who was cute in a homely sort of way; I mean, the girls seemed to scream more loudly for Ringo than for the other lads. Do I remember that correctly?

Sir Paul McCartney was knighted in 1997. The honor didn’t come to John and George, who died in 1980 and 2001, respectively. To my knowledge, the Brits don’t bestow knighthoods posthumously — which I consider to be a shame.

Still, Sir Ringo, I mean, Sir Richard, has joined Sir Paul among the United Kingdom’s most exalted citizens.

OK, I am not one of Her Majesty the Queen’s subjects. Still, to me Sir Richard will always be just plain Ringo.

Trump tweets only prove others’ points about him

Ricky Ricardo had a saying that applies to this latest bit of pique from the president of the United States.

Aye, aye, aye, aye, aye …

Me? I’m just slapping my forehead.

Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump Sr. picked up his tweeting device and lambasted actor/comedian Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of the president. He tweeted this, in part: “Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch.” 

Yep. The commander in chief of the world’s greatest military, the head of state of the nation that stands for freedom and liberty, the leader of the executive branch of government of that very same nation is criticizing a comic’s impersonation of him.

Does it get any weirder than this? Yeah, it will. But this ongoing Twitter nonsense is getting oh, so very nonsensical.

Trump’s inability to curb his Twitter appetite, frankly, gives individuals such as yours truly plenty of grist on which to chew. To be candid, I no longer am disturbed that the president uses Twitter to communicate in this fashion. I merely am baffled about why he bothers to comment on entertainment figures.

He vowed he would be “presidential” once he took office. He said he would put his Twitter device away. He pledged to spend his waking hours trying to “make American great again.”

Good ever-lovin’ grief, man. Going after Alec Baldwin doesn’t make anything — or anyone — great again!

This insistence of going low against smaller targets does add validity to what many of us have believed all along. This man, the president, doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t appreciate what his office means to rank-and-file Americans and loves operating in the midst of a climate of chaos and confusion.

Trump opens door to new breed of pundit

Donald J. Trump’s election as president of the United States has been a godsend to so many Americans. Those who support him think he’s the best thing to happen since pockets on shirts. Those who oppose him think, well, quite a bit differently. I’ll leave it at that.

I believe we all can agree that his election has opened doors to many new types of political pundits. My favorite new breed is the late-night comic.

Most of them are teeing off on the president nightly. They are giving him the what-for on any manner of issue. And, oh brother, he keeps proving so much grist.

As expected, though, the late-night comics’ incessant barrage has drawn criticism from those who believe that entertainers — such as these comics in particular — are “not qualified to comment on political matters.”

That brought, in my view,  a classic response from one of those comics. Jimmy Kimmel answered the other day that Trump’s election as president gives him all the credibility he needs to comment on his performance in office.

“I mean, we elected Donald Trump as president of the United States,” Kimmel answered recently with a healthy dose of faux astonishment. I guess I should mention that Trump is as qualified to be president than the comics are to comment on him.

Trump vowed to bring jobs back to this country as part of his “America first” plan and his strategy to “make America great again.”

Trump’s election has delivered an unintended benefit. He has delivered huge stashes of political humor ammunition to those who work in his former calling — in the entertainment industry.

This is how you sing the National Anthem

The singer Fergie has been taking a lot of grief over the way she “sang” the National Anthem at the start of the NBA all-star game Sunday night.

She deserves it. It stunk to high heaven. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Rather than go on and on about her pitiful performance, I merely want to share the following video from the 1991 Super Bowl. A young woman named Whitney Houston sang the Anthem the way it should be sung.

May this lovely young singer rest in peace. Enjoy.

 

‘I may be old, but … ‘

A Facebook “memory” I posted this morning brings to mind a personal anecdote I want to share briefly on this blog.

The memory was this, from Feb. 10, 2013: Best bumper sticker of the day: “I may be old, but at least I saw all the cool bands.” You go, dude!

I am now 68 years of age. I graduated from high school in the Summer of Love, which would be 1967. My life took a dramatic turn the following year when I shipped out after being inducted into the U.S. Army.

It took yet another marvelous turn in 1971 when I married a girl who had appeared before my eyes, like a vision. The rest, as they say, is history.

But in 1965, I got to watch the all-time greatest rock ‘n roll band. It was the very first rock concert I ever attended. I tell folks that today and they are shocked and amazed, I tell ya. The Beatles came to my hometown of Portland, Ore., in August 1965. It was their second U.S. tour.

They played at the old Memorial Coliseum, built in 1960 at a cost of $8 million. When it opened, the “Glass Palace,” as it was called then, was considered a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue. These days, you can’t repair the plumbing in such a venue for what it cost to build the Memorial Coliseum.

John, Paul, George and Ringo came to Portland back then. They played in front of a hysterical crowd of about 10,000 fans at the Coliseum. My sister and I sat at the center of the front row.

My most vivid memory of that event isn’t so much the music The Beatles played. It is the brevity of the event. They played 10 songs. The “concert,” if you want to call it that, lasted about 30 minutes.

They came onstage, they hooked up their instruments, played some songs and then were gone. Poof! Just like that.

I’ve been able over the years to see many more such events. The Association, Toto, the Doobie Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Grassroots. I’ve seen some others. Those just stand out.

Oh yes, I also saw Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney perform solo shows long after The Beatles broke apart.

Yes, we Baby Boomers got to see some “cool bands.”

Rock on, y’all!

MPEV ground broken; city bolts toward brighter future

A crowd of about 200 or 300 folks came today to a vacant lot across from Amarillo City Hall. There was some back-slapping, congratulatory wishes and plenty of smiles to be seen.

And for a very good reason.

They broke ground today on a $45 million entertainment venue — aka The Ballpark — that is likely to help lead downtown Amarillo toward a future that few of us thought was possible.

I do believe the future is a bright one.

The multipurpose event venue has been called a “catalyst” that would spark downtown Amarillo’s revival and rebirth. They lit that catalyst this afternoon. May the spark now light an economic fire.

City officials welcomed executives from the Elmore Group, owners of the new AA minor-league baseball team that will play ball at the MPEV when it’s done, no later than April 2019. Elmore execs declared their intention to make Amarillo the nation’s top minor-league baseball city.

Given the hope and optimism I witnessed today under a bright winter sun, I have a hunch many of those in attendance today believe that high-minded goal is well within reach. I hope it comes true.

I am acutely aware that a big crowd at a ceremonial groundbreaking doesn’t guarantee success. Construction has to proceed quickly. It should be done at or under budget.

The MPEV will need to open with lots of people sitting in its seats to watch the baseball team that is moving here from San Antonio. Many high-profile supporters of the MPEV — and I can cite retired Amarillo College President Paul Matney as one of them — have contended that Amarillo is a “good baseball town.” We will determine the legitimacy of that claim in due course.

The catalyst also is slated to bring more business into the downtown district. It will help fill a shiny new hotel and a parking garage across the street from the Civic Center. It also might become a good promotional tool for the city to lure more convention business, which will bring presumably deep-pocketed visitors to Amarillo.

That’s all in the immediate future for a city that has embarked on a serious makeover of its central business district.

Today, they broke ground on the next big step on the city’s journey toward a brighter future.

Now … let’s get busy.

Porn queen playing media as fools

I have a suggestion for these talk show hosts who are inviting porn actress Stormy Daniels to their shows.

Disinvite her.

Or at least disinvite her until she decides to stop playing these stupid mind games with the American public.

It has been reported that Daniels allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with Donald J. Trump, who at the time was newly married to his third wife, the first lady of the United States. The talk show hosts ask her: Did you have an affair with the future president of the United States? She dummies up.

It also has been reported that Trump paid her $130,000 to be quiet about the affair. The hosts ask her: Did you get hush money from Trump?

Again … she ain’t talking.

My question is this: What the hell is the point of bringing this individual to your show if she’s going to play footsie with the questioners?

Tom Hanks: Man of many IDs

Tom Hanks has become the go-to actor to portray historical — even iconic — figures.

I heard today he’s been cast in the role of Fred “Mister” Rogers in a new biopic that tells the story of how the late Presbyterian minister rose to fame as a children’s storyteller.

It’s clear to me that Hanks has emerged as the preeminent male actor of our time, or perhaps of any time.

Look at the record.

The guy has won two best-actor Oscars. Back to back!

Get a load of this, too: He’s portrayed the late U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, with whom I became acquainted while covering him in East Texas; Chesley “Sulley” Sullenberger, the “hero of the Hudson River,” the jetliner captain who made that astonishing landing in New York — on the water; the late Ben Bradlee, the famed editor of The Washington Post; Jim Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, the space flight known for the dramatic rescue of the three-man crew after an in-flight explosion on its way to the moon.

I spoke with Rep. Wilson not long after the 9/11 attack. I called him for some perspective on al-Qaeda, given that he worked to supply arms to the mujahadeen in their fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Wilson was damn-near giddy at the news that Tom Hanks had agreed to portray “Good Time Charlie” in the film titled “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

I never met Bradlee and I don’t know Lovell or Sulley.

Still … I give Hanks huge props for landing this opportunity to portray yet another American icon.

I am sure Mister Rogers would applaud this bit of casting.

Downtown recovering much of its past glory

I watched as my friend Beth Duke was beaming the other day while she discussed the progress being made along Polk Street in downtown Amarillo, Texas.

Duke, executive director of Center City of Amarillo, has been at the forefront of Amarillo’s downtown resurgence. She was telling a TV news reporter about the planned opening of a number of new eateries coming into the central business district.

It is occurring to me that what used to be known as the “business district” is about to become the city’s “entertainment district.”

And yet …

I keep hearing the muted rumblings of discontent from some Amarillo residents about he progress that’s occurring in the heart of a city that is on the cusp of achieving the 200,000-resident mark.

Some businesses are moving around, relocating along Polk Street. The city also is welcoming a number of new establishments.

Polk Street, where teenagers used to “cruise” back in the day, is being given new life. It’s no longer the retail corridor it used to be during the day. Instead, it will become a magnet for nightlife.

It’s all part of of a municipal long-range strategic plan, according to Duke, who has brought a unique blend of enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the players who can breathe life into a community where she was born and has spent the vast bulk of her adult life.

And while Polk Street is undergoing its extreme makeover, so is the block on which City Hall sits.

If you look south from City Hall’s front door you see a lot of dirt being moved around. Crews are leveling the property that once contained the Coca-Cola Distribution Center, which was demolished and relocated to a business park at the northeast corner of the city.

Construction will begin very soon on the multipurpose event venue, aka “The Ballpark.” The MPEV doesn’t yet have a name. It will have a significant new tenant by the spring of 2019. It will be a AA baseball franchise that’s moving here from San Antonio. They’re going to play hardball at the MPEV/Ballpark.

What’s more, that storefronts being developed along Polk Street will be bustling with activity.

My wife and I likely won’t around when they throw out the first pitch at the MPEV. We will have relocated to an unknown destination in North Texas. However, we are going to remember how downtown looked when we arrived here in early 1995 and we will compare that desolate memory with what we’re witnessing these days.

What I see happening today are the signs of progress that, to be candid, I didn’t foresee when we first laid eyes on Amarillo more than two decades ago.

I am delighted to the max at what we’re seeing.

I also am proud of my friend Beth Duke, who has witnessed — and played a key role — in the rebirth of her hometown’s central business/entertainment district.

Again I ask: How in the world can we gripe about that?