Category Archives: entertainment news

Just like dear ol’ Dad

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, how I hate acknowledging this, but I must do so.

I am becoming my father.

A Facebook acquaintance of mine noted overnight that he is “getting old,” based on his supposed ignorance of the new artists being honored at this past weekend’s Grammy Awards. Hey, I feel his pain.

Indeed, I am beginning to feel more like my late Dad all the time, as I, too, know next to nothing about the music that is filling young people’s ears these days.

OK, I know who Beyonce is. Same for Taylor Swift. I know the name Billie Eilish. Beyond that, well … I’m lost.

Dad was the same way when my sisters and I began listening to our version of popular music back in the old days. He couldn’t understand our fascination with The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Temptations, the Four Tops … and on and on. I cannot leave Elvis out. Dad was a Big Band kinda guy. He loved Bennie Goodman, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Buddy Rich.

Those acts of my youth I just mentioned? Their music is still relevant even today. It’s because the 1960s was a very special era in so many ways. The music holds up and I venture to guess that many of today’s artists look back at the contributions of those old fogies with some semblance of awe. If they don’t, well, shame on ’em.

I’ll share this one tiny example of what I mean. My son and I attended a Paul McCartney concert in 2019; we were among 50,000 or so fans packed into Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The opening number? “A Hard Day’s Night,” recorded by The Beatles in 1964. I could see boys and girls all around me singing right along with Sir Paul; they knew the words to a song that was penned perhaps before their parents were born!

Dad departed this good Earth in 1980. I cannot even imagine how he would react to this 21st-century version of popular music. I know, though, that as much as I have tried to become my own man as I have entered my eighth decade of life, some things do remind me that at least one level, I am just like dear ol’ Dad.

Imagine he had lived

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am recalling today a stroll my wife and I took some years ago in New York City.

We ventured to Central Park and found the memorial a grieving widow worked to have installed in the park. She called it “Strawberry Fields,” which happened to part of the title of a song that her late husband composed in the 1960s.

John Lennon died 40 years ago today at the hands of an assassin who ambushed him outside the apartment complex where Lennon lived with his wife, Yoko Ono, and their young son, Sean.

I won’t type the name of the lunatic who killed my favorite Beatle … because you know it already and I won’t sully this text with it.

Our stroll took us eventually to the Dakota, where we stood across the street and peered toward the gate where the gunman opened fire on John Lennon. That moment, looking at the murder scene, sent chills through me.

That was then. Four decades later I still grieve the loss of a musical genius and one of the bandmates who helped raise me.

If only John Lennon had been given a chance to live a long, joyful and music-filled life.

How does he MAGA?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

How in the world does Donald J. Trump “make America great again” when he spends two hours on a radio talk show?

Yep, the commander in chief went on the air today with Rush “Daddy Dittohhead” Limbaugh. During his time on the radio, Trump managed to tell one of the biggest and most dangerous whoppers of all.

He said we have a “cure” for the COVID-19 virus that felled him and the first lady. Yes, he said that. The drug cocktail he took made him well enough to go back to the White House after spending only 70 hours at Walter Reed Medical Center. It not only did that, he said, but it cured him of the disease.

Cured him?

Medical experts were quick today to declare that there is no “cure” for the coronavirus that has killed 214,000 Americans. However, members of the Trumpkin Corps will accept their guy’s declaration as gospel.

However, I cannot help but wonder yet again: If Donald Trump is going to make America great again, how is he able to spend so much time on the air swapping lies with Rush Limbaugh?

Happy birthday, John

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well, what does one say about a birthday commemorating one of modern culture’s most iconic figures?

Happy birthday? Sure, why not?

Today is John Lennon’s 80th birthday. You’ve heard of him, yes? He founded the band that in the early 1960s transformed popular music forever. Their music still stands, nearly six decades later.

John Lennon was my favorite Beatle. I guess it had something to do with our shared names. Hey, I was a kid when The Beatles stormed across the Atlantic Ocean.

Over the ensuing years — brief as they were — The Beatles helped raise me. I have said for years that John Lennon and  his pals were a big part of my life. He and his best pal in the group, Paul McCartney, wrote arguably the most classic music of that — or perhaps any — cultural era.

John Lennon’s life ended tragically. We’re going to mark that date in December, 40 years after that a**hole shot John to death in front of his wife and at the front door of his New York City apartment complex. Not too many years ago, my wife and I visited NYC. We stood in front of the Dakota Building where John’s life ended; we walked through Central Park and saw the Strawberry Fields exhibit dedicated to John Lennon’s memory. It all filled with me with profound sadness.

John Lennon was a complex man, but oh how he could write and then sing the songs that will last until the end of time.

I miss him to this day.

Happy birthday, John … and thank you for helping me grow up along the way.

Can this PR stunt explode, too?

Photo by Brent N Clarke/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Kanye West is running for president of the United States as part of some weird publicity stunt.

I am certain of it. The rapper/reality TV spouse/goofball cannot possibly be seriously considering things such as, oh, how to lead a nation out of a pandemic or waging rhetorical battle with political foes.

He won’t win. Or at least he shouldn’t win.

Then again, we have the case of Donald Trump, who I am equally certain launched his 2016 presidential campaign as a publicity stunt.

Except that it blew up in all of our faces.

Donald Trump ended up winning against all reasonable odds and expectations. Look at what his fluke victory has gotten us, where it has taken us, what it has produced. We’re in a world of hurt these days because an incompetent buffoon somehow managed to buffalo enough voters in just the right states to get elected leader of the world’s most indispensable nation. Who knew, right?

Well, 2020 isn’t likely to produce a repeat of the political cataclysm that befell the nation four years ago. Then again, if Donald Trump’s victory four years ago taught us anything, we learned that is foolhardy in the extreme to overstate the collective intelligence of American voters.

Social distancing produces this kind of entertainment

OK, there’s so very little positive to come out of the coronavirus pandemic … then there’s this.

I am seeing a number of these “social distancing” videos coming forth from musicians who aren’t performing in the same room. They manage to cobble together versions of classic tunes. The video that accompanies this brief blog post is one of them. I have watched multiple times a pair of videos assembled by The Doobie Brothers singing two of their many hits.

I can’t stop smiling when I see these pieces of artwork.

Man, technology can produce some wondrous things.

Will this feeling of community outlive the pandemic?

The world is looking for a glimmer of hope in this time of darkness.

Believe it or not, I think we can see it out there. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the planet is producing plenty of shining lights.

One of them must be this sense of community many of us are feeling. I am at this moment watching the “One World Together” special on TV. The message has been delivered loudly and with crystal clarity: We need to keep loving each other once this crisis passes into history.

The medical experts are telling us it will pass. They guarantee it. Yes, we are grieving at the death and sickness that has felled so many of our fellow human beings. However, efforts by celebrities, medical experts and scientists remind us of what might be considered a cliché, that “We’re in this together.”

I will take that message with me long past the time we can return to some semblance of a normal life.

Yes, we are responding well as a human community. We all understand the social distancing requirements, and we’re adhering to them; we are devoting greater attention to personal hygiene; we’re learning how to spend more time at home; we’re helping our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones.

We also are responding with a sense of love that we don’t usually express out loud. Frankly, it’s a feeling I enjoy experiencing. I don’t want it to end even if we get the “all clear” that we’ve defeated the pandemic.

My sincerest of hopes right now — at this defining moment — is that the sense of community and oneness we’re feeling lives well past the crisis that has gripped us hard.

I believe it will.

It’s been 50 years, really?

Oh, man. I cannot believe this got past me … but it did.

On April 10, 1970 — that’s 50 years ago, folks — Paul McCartney announced casually in an interview that The Beatles had broken up. The music ended. The greatest rock ‘n roll band in history was no more.

That’s how it came about. Paul McCartney told us.

I have said before that the group founded by John Lennon, who then asked Paul McCartney to join him, who then brought along George Harrison to play with the two of them and then hired Ringo Starr to replace the drummer that none of them liked … they helped raise me.

I saw their performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. I followed them closely. I came of age about that time. Their music would end up fueling the my musical taste right on through to the present day.

They recorded so many great songs. They wrote such wonderful music. They, indeed, helped a generation of young people come of age. They helped raise us all.

Of all the music I have heard over the years, one song stands out. It is the only song I remember where I was when I heard it for the first time. It was the second half of a song I heard initially in September 1968. I turned on a transistor radio in a U.S. Army barracks in Fort Lewis, Wash. I listened to the end of a song that went on seemingly forever. It was “Hey Jude.”

I fell in love with that melody. On the spot. Right then and there.

It became a sort of anthem for me. I cannot hear it enough.

Less than two years after hearing what I consider to be the greatest song ever recorded, they would call it quits. They went their separate ways.

It was — gulp! — 50 years ago. Wow! I still miss those guys.

Still missing this iconic musician after all these years

I am one of the few Americans who was not watching “Monday Night Football” the night we all got the shocking news.

Howard Cosell, a friend of John Lennon, told the world that a gunman shot John “twice in the back,” that he was “rushed to Roosevelt Hospital … dead on arrival.”

I was watching an NBC show that night 39 years ago. They, too, broke in and stunned the world.

Oh, how I still miss this man. He was just 40 years of age when his comeback from a five-year hiatus from public view came to its tragic end. I am left to wonder, as are all fans of John Lennon’s enormous talent, what kind of legacy would he have built had he been allowed to live.

The man who essentially founded The Beatles led this band of musicians into the cultural stratosphere. Sure, he had plenty talent playing alongside. The careers of Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the late George Harrison all flourished after the band ended its professional existence in 1970. The three surviving members of the band collaborated in 1995 to finish a couple of songs that John had written; they released them that year with “Free As a Bird” being named the top single of the year. I remember the Grammy award presenter declaring, “I can’t believe this: 25 years after they broke up … the winner is The Beatles!

George, too, is now gone.

John Lennon’s legacy already is rich. We are left only now with the memory of what he was able to accomplish as a musician, a songwriter and an advocate for peace, and ponder what might have happened had fate not intervened that night in New York City.

As for the gunman who took him from us, well … may he continue to rot in prison.

Hodgetown earns honor, sending Center City director ‘over the moon’

Beth Duke is beaming with pride … and why not?

The Amarillo Center City director nominated Hodgetown, the city’s new downtown ballpark, for recognition as the best downtown construction project in Texas. Hodgetown then got the honor.

Duke, a lifelong Amarillo resident and a big-time promoter of its downtown revival, should be proud. So should the city for this latest honor granted to the shiny new ballpark that is home to the city’s championship-winning Texas League baseball team, the Sod Poodles.

The award comes from the Texas Downtown Association. It honors the ballpark’s look, its ambience, the attraction it proved to be for baseball fans and other Texas Panhandle residents.

As Duke told the Globe-News, where she worked for more than 30 years before taking over the Center City directorship: “I think you all know how proud I am of every building and the progress we’ve made in our beautiful downtown. I nominated Hodgetown for Best New Construction in a Texas (city) of more than 50,000 people. I was so gratified to be a finalist and the night we won, I was just over the moon.”

She should be over the moon.

I have taken great joy in applauding the city’s effort to build this structure, formerly known as the “multipurpose event venue.” It is a gorgeous home field for the Sod Poodles. More than that, it is a fabulous addition to downtown’s urban landscape.

Hodgetown came to fruition after a sometimes-rocky ride. I am more than willing to acknowledge harboring a doubt or two that the city could complete the project. There was turmoil on the City Council relating to the future of what was called the MPEV. Top-level city management went through a wholesale change with resignations of key personnel, including the city manager.

Despite the occasional ruckus at City Hall, the ballpark was completed. Hodgetown opened this past spring. The Sod Poodles played some great Class AA baseball in a ballpark full of cheering of fans.

Now comes a high honor from a downtown group that bestows honors that cities can use to their marketing advantage.

Beth Duke is the perfect advocate for Amarillo’s downtown district. She is a happy woman today. I am proud of her and of the city for the steps it has taken toward rebuilding its downtown business and entertainment district.

Well done.