Son of a gun… big fun on the bayou

Visiting a “New Orleans Bistro” in a gentrifying neighborhood gave me another reminder that I have gotten too old. I ordered Jambalaya (it was delicious) and added “But no crawfish pie or filé gumbo.” The server’s face was a big question mark, perhaps wondering if unlocking the front door that day had been such a good idea. When I rambled on with something about Hank Williams, she forced a sort-of smile, saying something about putting in the order as she backed away from the table.
It had not occurred to me that not everyone – especially in a Creole/Cajun-themed dining establishment – knows who Hank Williams was.

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and filé gumbo

Opening Day

Anything is possible… for one day anyway. Will the San Francisco Giants continue their year-to-year progress? They finished last season next to last in their division, a marked improvement over 2017 when they had the worst record, not just in their division, not just the National League, but in all of Major League Baseball.

Anything is possible… for one day anyway.

If only the Giants had a Roy Hobbs.


Johnny Otis at the Powerhouse

The Powerhouse Brewery in Sebastopol California – so named because the building was originally a power-generation plant — had a succinct code of conduct posted on its wall: “Be nice or leave.” The Powerhouse had a ten-year run beginning in 1994. Along with good beer and food, it was also a fine live-music venue. (It was sold in 2004 and became the HopMonk Tavern. HopMonk has since expanded to four locations.)

Johnny Otis for a while broadcast a Sunday-brunch radio show from the Powerhouse. A live audience ate and imbibed while he acted as disc jockey, telling stories about the music he was playing. He retired from this final gig with the closing of the Powerhouse and perhaps his failing health.

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The Legend of Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson

Baseball has always prided itself as the game without a clock. Unlike football or soccer or basketball, a team with a lead cannot “run out the clock” in the waning minutes of a game; baseball gives each team the same number of outs. An average Major League Baseball game takes over three hours. In the 1970s, it was two-and-a-half hours. In the forties, a game took two hours.

Seeking ways to speed up the game, Major League Baseball is inaugurating a twenty-second pitch clock for spring training this year. There is no word yet if the clock will carry into the regular season. Regular-season all-star pitcher Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has already announced he will ignore the clock and what’re ya gonna do about it. (Kershaw’s salary is about $185,000 per inning pitched.) MLB recently instituted a rule limiting the number of visits a coach or manager or catcher may make to the pitcher’s mound and how long the visit can last.

I have a suggestion: ban batting gloves.

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The Legend of Gimme Shelter

It was late on an autumn night in 1969. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were in a Los Angeles recording studio, dubbing vocals into a song for their new album Let It Bleed. Producer Jack Nitzsche suggested a female background voice. He called his first choice who turned him down. He then called Merry Clayton, a veteran backup singer. Clayton, in the late stage of pregnancy, was asleep in bed with her husband. She said she’d never heard of the Rolling Stones. Her husband convinced her she should go. She had worked with Nitzsche on other projects and helping him out on this could benefit her career in the long run.

She did two takes and then went back home, to suffer a miscarriage shortly after. The song was “Gimme Shelter.” Merry Clayton’s galvanizing performance on the recording made that song one of the band’s most memorable. The oft-told story of her participation has become legend in the annals of rock ’n’ roll.

I have wondered what she was paid for making that recording so memorable.

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Waylon Jennings and the Day the Music Died

February 1959: Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens and pilot Roger Peterson died when their chartered plane crashed into an Iowa cornfield. Richardson, suffering from the flu, had talked bassist Waylon Jennings into letting him have his place on the plane. Guitarist Tommy Allsup had given up his seat to Valens on a coin flip.

Waylon Jennings talks about his friend and mentor Buddy Holly and the Day the Music Died.