Sunday, August 30, 2009

What if, baseball version

I just finished reading "The End of Baseball," an interesting baseball novel. There always have been stories about how Bill Veeck planned to integrate the 1944 Philadelphia Phillies in large numbers and take on the rest of the National League. The novel speculates how that move would have worked out.

I saw my friend Tim Wendel's name in the credits at the end of the book. He asked me what else might make for a good novel in baseball history along those lines. I came up with this plot line while running; all I need now is someone to help write the thing. It starts, naturally, with a true story.

Jackie Robinson was just finishing up a tryout in Fenway Park in front of some Red Sox scouts in 1945. Even though he had put on an impressive show, lining hits off every corner of the ball park, owner Tom Yawkey had told his employees in profane terms to get him off the field. And then Yawkey went to his office and had a drink or four. He knew Robinson represented the future of baseball in some way, and the South Carolina native didn't like it one bit.

It was opportune timing then, when one of Boston's most well-known figures paid a visit to the office that night. Yawkey started complaining about the state of baseball, and the visitor said, "Well, why don't you sell the team to me?" And an intoxicated Yawkey signed an agreement to do just that, which is how Joseph Kennedy came to buy the Red Sox that day in 1945. Kennedy thought it would go over well with wife Rose, whose father, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, was mayor of Boston during the Red Sox's big years in the 1910's. Besides, as Joe put it, "I got a son coming out of the Navy soon, and he needs something to do."

With John F. Kennedy installed as club president, the Red Sox signed Robinson as well as Sam Jethroe quickly and cleaned house. Anyone who didn't want to work for the integrated team was sent packing. It turned out that list included the player-manager, Joe Cronin. While managers were a dime a dozen, the Red Sox did have a great shortstop waiting in the wings. Pee Wee Reese was already in the organization, although Cronin had seen him as a threat and advocated dumping him to another team. Reese stayed and thrived. As for the manager, well, Casey Stengel had been a popular manager with the Boston Braves for six years. Maybe he could do better if he had just a little more talent.

The Red Sox, armed with Robinson and returning veterans from the war, won the pennant in 1946. And 1948, and 1949. Not only were they a good team, they were good copy as well. Robinson provided endless fodder for the toughest newspaper town in America. Ted Williams quickly adopted Robinson as a virtual brother, and the two of them attracted crowds wherever they went. What with Robinson, Williams, Reese, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doerr, it was a thrilling team to watch. Kennedy was quickly dubbed the boy wonder of baseball, putting together a dynamic team at such a young age.

But while the Red Sox had enough pitching to win three pennants, they never could win the World Series. The Brooklyn Dodgers kept getting in the way, as Branch Rickey had followed the Red Sox lead and scooped up some of the best black talent in the business. Roger Kahn, the beat writer of the Boston Globe, called the Red Sox team "The Boys of Summer," and the description stuck.

In 1951, the Red Sox dominated the league from start to finish, leaving the Yankees and the rest of the league in their wake. Most of the attention was on the National League, as the Giants blew a 13 1/2 game lead to the Dodgers and lost the pennant in the third game of the best-of-three playoff on an unlikely homer by Johnny Pesky, who was traded by the Red Sox to make room for Robinson. Pesky's homer wrapped around the foul pole in Ebbets Field, which was forever known after that as the Pesky Pole. "The Dodgers win the pennant!!" Red Barber told his listeners in Brooklyn.

The Dodgers, though, were too exhausted to do much in the Series, though, and the Red Sox won in five games. Watching the clincher were a certain Mr. and Mrs. Dan Shaughnessy; the wife was pregnant with a young son who would become Dan Jr., who later became well-known for his lyrical, romantic books about that baseball era and kept that lack of cynicism throughout his literary career.

There was quite a party in Boston after that, as you could imagine. The Curse of the Bambino had been lifted after 33 long years. Williams went off to Korea to fight there. Robinson retired after a couple of more years, as did Stengel. DiMaggio made it to the Hall of Fame, right next to brother Joe.

As for the Red Sox team president, John Kennedy never really liked baseball all that much anyway. He retired right after winning the World Series in '51, and ran for Senator in 1952. He stressed civil rights in his platform. You know how the story goes from there.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ma Chase

(What started out as a simple blog entry concerning the passing of Marjorie Chase turned into a eulogy a few minutes before the memorial service began. I was honored to be asked to speak. I thought you'd like to learn more about a remarkable woman.)

There's only one person I've ever called "Mom" over the years, not counting my real mother. That would be Marge Chase. Over the last couple of decades, when I'd call her up at home for one reason for another, I'd always say "Hi, Mom" when she answered, and she'd always reply, "How are you doing, Sonny boy?"

Ma Chase and I went way back. She remembered the start better than I did. Ma said to son Kevin at a Clarence basketball game one night in 1973, "Who is the guy walking around with a tape recorder?" That would be me, practicing for some sort of career in journalism. I believe Kevin was ordered to make an introduction that night.

I probably made my first visit to Clarence Center shortly after that. I always felt comfortable whenever I dropped by. Husband John, by acclimation the nicest guy on earth, and Marge always seemed to welcome the company. They were genuinely interested in what Kevin's friends were doing, as opposed to merely tolerating the kids like most of the other parents did.

Ma Chase worked on the schools' board of education for many years, rising to president at one point. While she didn't personally hand me my diploma, I remember the way she asked me a string of questions about my educational experience after I had graduated. I think I was the only graduate that year to receive an exit interview. It was nice to have my opinion taken so seriously at the age of 17.

Once Kevin went off to college, the number of visits to the Long St. address started to drop off. First they were limited to holidays and summer vacations. Then as Kevin settled down in Connecticut, I'd only see him on Long St. once or twice a year ... but I stopped by every so often anyway, just to get a friendly greeting from the Chases and perhaps consume one of Ma Chase's famous Mexican sundaes.

One visit in particular stands out. Two friends and I dropped by to say hello, and Mr. and Mrs. Chase were entertaining the Burkes. Mr. Burke had just been named the President of American Steamship, I believe. Some would have politely chased us away. Some would have had us stay a while. Only Ma Chase would order us into the den and have us write a musical tribute to Mr. Burke's promotion. I believe the first two lines were, "God bless our President, he's king of steam." We all were given a couple of beers for our efforts, which probably was more than the song and our singing deserved.

John passed away about 11 years ago, but there was no worry that Marge would be lonely from that point. She had a huge network of friends in Clarence. Indeed, she often told you what they were doing ... if you knew them or not. Ma certainly had a more active social life than almost anyone I knew. We'd exchange post cards from our trips, and I think she sent more than she received.

In the past eight years, my most important role in her life was that of providing free technical support for computer problems. Kevin gave her a desktop around 2001, and she took to it quite well. It was another way to keep up with everyone from friends around town to grandchildren. When something went wrong, I got a frantic call from her, saying she had been on the phone for an hour with someone from Dell and couldn't solve the problem. Usually the problem was a simple one, making me look smart when I fixed it in 10 minutes. Based on her experience, she thought that if this journalism gig didn't work out for me, there would always be a job waiting in the computer service business.

My favorite story about Ma Chase came fairly recently. I was working at the newspaper earlier this year when I heard about a plane crash in Clarence Center. I called her at about 11:30 at night and she answered the phone -- that old rotary phone in the kitchen was still working -- and said she was all right. I asked her if she had called Kevin in Connecticut to tell him she was fine. She said no, it was kind of late and he'd be sleeping. After I hung up, I asked myself, "How close does a plane have to crash before she would call Kevin to let him know she was O.K.?" When I asked Kevin that question the next morning, he said he wasn't sure where the line was -- whether it was Erie County, or Clarence, or Clarence Center -- but he was pretty sure Long Street was within that radius.

Ma had a massive stroke on Wednesday morning, and she was taken off life support and died on Wednesday night. It was a peaceful, quick ending; we all should be so lucky. I have no doubt that she would have been the most miserable physical therapy patient around. As another of Kevin's close friends, Glenn Locke, said, when you've lived independently until the age of 90, you don't go asking for a do-over. And when Kevin and I drove past the cemetery in Clarence Center where John is buried late Wednesday night, I said, "John, don't expect to do any talking until about, oh, May. Marge has a lot to tell you about."

It's difficult to sum up Ma Chase in a word or two. Energetic? Dynamo? Force of nature? The best way might be to do it this way: Most of your friends' parents over the years are merely your friends' parents. Ma Chase became a friend, period. We celebrate a life well spent.

Marjorie Chase's obituary can be read here.

Auto-Tune the News

My thanks to Greg Connors for finding this series on You Tube; I decided to take this one:

You can find others with a simple search.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Old Time Radio

A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone from the Buffalo Broadcasters Association about a story. The group tries to preserve the area's broadcast history; it has a Hall of Fame induction dinner every year, and is currently trying to save some television news film from the Sixties and Seventies.

He made a remark that has stuck with me a bit. He said that no one wants to be in radio anymore.

And that's something of a shame.

Ever get an old-timer going on the magic of the radio? The role of imagination for the listener? The thrill of hearing a great song on the air for the first time?

Radio has gone through a few phases over the years. When it first became a commercial product in 1920 (many of our readers no doubt stayed up late to hear the Harding-Cox election returns on KDKA in Pittsburgh that year), it quickly became an important part of daily life. I guess it resembled network television in its mixture of entertainment and news.

When television came along for good in the Fifties, radio had to adapt. And it did so brilliantly, catching the wave of the music revolution that was just coming in. The disk jockeys seemed hip, and the music they played seemed to explode out of the speakers of your car radio or of that "tiny" transistor radio you carried everywhere.

But Top Forty radio essentially blew up in the early 1980's. The idea of everyone listening to the same music -- more or less -- became antiquated, and the audience fractured into several pieces.

The landscape today isn't so pretty. AM radio is mostly news/talk, with callers and hosts providing more heat than light (in Bob Costas' phrase). The news aspect of the business is disappearing quickly, except in cities big enough to support an all-news operation. Over on FM, music is still played, but most people can only stand the format of a station or two. And overshadowing it all is the relentless cost-cutting of station ownership, which has brought satellite programming to many stations and thus eliminating any local flavor entirely.

Someone once told me in the mid-1980's that anyone who could get out of radio did so by the time they were 30. There are a few mature voices still on the air, thankfully, but they are difficult to find.

I still listen to the radio in the car. A local alt-rock station keeps me a little bit current on music, and a baseball game at night still sounds good while driving. But I do wonder if radio will have a third act of relevance in the near future.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Way back when

I just finished reading a book on the 1912 World Series (check out the review here), so the pre-1920 baseball days are on my mind. Then today, I stumbled on a link (thank you, Buster Olney of ESPN) to some video of that same era:

I thought it was pretty entertaining to see footage of the 1919 World Series. You wouldn't know the games were fixed.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Decline and Fall

Every once in a while, Sports Illustrated comes through with an unusual article that demands to be read.

Such was the case this week, when it had a story on that great American institution, the baseball card.

It seems business is less than booming in the card business. Shops have been closing across the country for years, and interest is dropping in the same proportion.

It's pretty easy to easy to determine the problem: greed.

Way back in the 1980's, Topps lost its monopoly rights to baseball cards, which because of a variety of factors but mostly tradition is the only type of card that has really mattered to most. Other companies such as Fleer, Donruss, Score and Upper Deck jumped into the card business. So after 30 years of needing to buy one set of cards per year (if you tried to buy the cards through packs, it took about 400 nickel packs and your teeth were ruined by the enclosed bubble gum in the process), suddenly a collector needed three or four full sets a year.

Then came the extra sets -- speciality sets, traded sets, minor league sets, Olympic sets, etc. And card values became closely watched, printed every place but in the Wall Street Journal. The concept of a 12-year-old as a day trader became commonplace.

Sure enough, with billions of cards printed every year, the bubble inevitably burst. (See tulips, comma, Holland in 1624.) No one could collect all the cards, so many stopped buying any. That's where we are today, with Michael Eisner, of all people, hoping to guide Topps back into its traditional place in the market.

There's still a soft spot in my heart for those pictures and statistics on cardboard. I used to own more baseball cards than anyone you knew back in the 1960's, pestering my parents for a dime every time we visited a store that sold them. The card shown above is Carl Yastrzemski's rookie card in 1960, even though he didn't reach the majors until 1961. (Yaz just turned 70; happy birthday to my favorite player as a kid.)

By the time I was 11 I had gotten smart and bought sets. Yes, they'd be worth plenty in mint condition now, but there was no good way to store them back then and they mostly were thrown into a big box with a few thousand other cards. You can guess about the crease damage.

Then in the early 1980's, nostalgia washed over me and I started buying sets again. They had invented plastic sheets and specifically shaped cardboard boxes for storage at that point, so I stocked up. After some years, though, I sold off some of them when the opportunity came -- mostly on eBay. Then a few years ago, I looked in my upstairs closet and said, "Would I rather have these pieces of cardboard, or a new set of irons?" My golf game won; I got $600 for most of the cards. I made some money but hardly got rich.

I still saved a couple of sets from the early 1970's, though. They aren't in great shape so they aren't worth much, but it's still fun to look them over once in a great while. Seeing them is a throwback to a simpler time in my life, and in America's.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just another reason to hate the Yankees...

You put a Yankee uniform on someone, and they start acting badly. Even if they are the coach of eight-year-olds.

That's the morale of the video clip presented here:

For more on the story, click here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A little tolerance

Sometimes channel surfing can be instructive.

I was doing exactly that Monday morning when I stumbled across a discussion about the Michael Vick signing by the Eagles among a host and two guest commentators on Fox News. (Note to some interested parties: I have not removed Fox News from my channel selections, although I can't say I watch it much.)

What was fascinating was the dynamic of the conversation. Feel free to take a look at some or all of the video, which someone posted at YouTube today.

As you can see, Megyn Kelly was in no mood to have two people on opposite sides discuss their views fairly. She jumped in to make it a two-on-one discussion. I don't know if this is standard procedure for her, but it struck me as a less than fair and balanced interview technique. The Eagles probably aren't quaking over the financial losses that will take place because a TV anchor from another city says she won't support the team financially any more.

The clip does raise a larger matter, though, when it comes to Vick. The Eagles quarterback can't be defended for what he did in the dogfighting operation. He spent two NFL seasons in jail. He has lost tens of millions of dollars in salary and endorsements. Vick appears to have shown remorse for his actions. He also received supplemental discipline from the league, as he'll miss the first few weeks of this season.

The question comes to down this: Is that enough punishment? And that's a question we struggle to answer as a society, particularly in sports.

There's a certain "one and done" mentality when it comes to mistakes by those in the public eye. No one is saying that we'd welcome such people as John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer into their former spots in the political arena. On the other hand, few would throw them out like bathwater and prevent them from making some sort of living.

Does the same apply to sports? You can talk about sports figures being role models all you want, but it's tough to know whose standards we use to disqualify someone from a livelihood. Do we kick Vick out of the league now, and let Dante' Stallworth -- who killed a pedestrian while driving drunk -- come back in a year?

Second chances may not be popular with some, but some of the principles involved in them certainly have a tradition in our culture. If we can't let our public figures make mistakes, how will they ever learn anything? And do the concepts of tolerance and forgiveness matter as much these days as they used to matter?

If that weren't enough, let's throw in one last point. You might approve of the general concept of Vick being allowed to play somewhere after serving his time. Having him play on your favorite team might be a different story. In other words, I just don't know how comfortable I'd be having him on the Buffalo Bills.

This stuff certainly is a maze of ethics and emotions. I just don't want people like Megyn Kelly helping me navigate through it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Let the game begin...

My old pal and former Jeopardy winner Mitch posted a link to a Mad magazine article reprint in which two writers invented the game of 43-Man Squamish. It was a dead-on spoof of athletics, complete with a then-trendy reference to Barry Goldwater. It seems to be remembered to this day, and you can see it here.

My best memory of the story comes from my old pal Kevin. (I have very few young pals at this stage of my life.) Kevin brought a copy of Mad into his Spanish teacher and repeated the key phrase of the game. She looked puzzled and said, "My uncle is sick but the highway is green"???

I think Mad was the only magazine that my mother, sister and I all read while I was growing up.

Not at the same time, of course.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Feeling ill

Here's the basic problem with health care reform in this country:

Something around three-quarters of Americans get good quality health care right now, and they don't want to change it. They don't want to go bankrupt in the face of a major medical crisis, so they are happy that they are covered through insurance via their employer -- even if they have to kick in up to 25 percent of the cost of premiums.

How, then, does anyone bring major changes to a situation in which a wide majority are satisfied customers?

You don't, at least not easily.

That strikes me as the key point in the discussion. When the Clinton Administration tried to make some fundamental changes back in the 1990's, it was shouted down quite quickly. This summer's debate has echoes of those discussions.

There are other factors floating around in the current argument. There is plenty of money at stake here, and the lobbying about where it might go -- particularly in the formative stages of legislation -- is frantic. That leads to misinformation about current plans.

I particularly like the idea that some sort of federal panel will decide whether you live or die under a proposed bill; the reality is that Medicare would simply offer counseling for end-of-life circumstances at least once every five years. It's an added benefit, not a death sentence.

But tell that to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who issued a statement saying, "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

Then there's the matter of the cost of any new health care reform package, which as far as I can tell is unknown at this point. Claims about the number, however, are all over the map, perhaps because nothing has been written in stone yet. We're a little leary of a government program that could, emphasis on could, cost billions and billions over the next decade, particularly in the light of recent government moves into private business like automobile manufacturing and banking.

Plus, there's still some left-over steam about the election from the right. You remember the talk last fall that Obama would put us on the road to socialism, and the usual media outlets are still blabbing about this -- again, without knowing what the final reform might look like.

Even those in good health in the current system, though, realize that we have some big problems. As Glenn Locke pointed out in his blog, you're only as secure as your job, and you may have learned just how secure you are in the past 18 months. There's the issue that some administrator in an office in Nowhereville can decide your preconditions disqualify you from health care, without your having an appeal.

And that doesn't include such matters as doctors who are so afraid of being sued that they order unnecessary tests just to cover themselves. Or of the poor who can't afford to get basic checkups under the current rules but have to get expensive emergency care that the rest of us end up paying for. Or people who lose insurance simply by moving to another state.

The idea of discussing all of this strikes me as healthy. A rational discussion about benefits and costs sure is a good idea. This Wall Street Journal article from today seems like a valuable addition to the dialogue.

But what has been shown at "town hall" meetings with representatives has been far less than that. Some of the citizens have come across as rude, uninformed, and unwilling to listen. It takes all types, which -- as I'm fond of saying -- is a shame.

It makes me a little ill to hear the nasty tone of the conversation. Good thing I have health insurance.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Off the record, sort of

Journalists like to collect quotes. Not just the ones that appear in the newspaper or on the air, either.

Funny things said or heard in newsrooms often find their way to bulletin boards, computer baskets, whatever. I remember in college a woman making a point of international travel started by saying, "I've been abroad for a long period of time..." (read aloud), and then being drowned out with laughter.

I have a couple of lists in my own work basket, complete with quotes from long-departed coworkers. I particularly liked the line, "Ordering a small pizza is against my religion." Phone calls usually draw the most astonished response from workers. The most popular smart-aleck remark in our office is passed down from clerk to clerk. Someone says over the phone, "I want to report a score," and the clerk says "What kind of score?"

So it was with some joy that I stumbled upon the Web site, "Overheard in the Newsroom." Apparently I'm not the only one with this habit.

You don't have to be a journalist to like this site, but it helps.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The top 50

For those of you not on Facebook ...

My former WEBR co-worker Ann Carden sent me a list of her top 50 bands seen live, and challenged me to come up with my own list. It's tough to do that; I have done lots of headslapping while saying "I forgot about ..." I just did it again with Supertramp and Renaissance.

For the record -- my first show was in 1975 with the Beach Boys, Doobie Brothers, Jefferson Starship, America, New Riders and Stanky Brown in Syracuse. This is no particular order:

1. Yes
2. Asia
3. Emerson, Lake and Palmer
4. Keith Emerson Band (Sayreville, New Jersey)
5. Beach Boys
6. Three Dog Night (before the rains came at a Bisons' game)
7. Barenaked Ladies
8. Chuck Berry (before a Baltimore Colts game)
9. Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul
10. Bruce Springsteen (2 different bands)
11. Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers
12. Renaissance
13. Doobie Brothers
14. Jackson Browne
15. Allman Brothers
16. Fleetwood Mac
17. Orleans
18. Elton John
19. Billy Joel
20. INXS
21. Brian Setzer Orchestra
22. Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe
23. Stevie Wonder
24. Moody Blues
25. The Turtles
26. The Monkees
27. James Taylor
28. Gary Puckett
29. J. Geils Band
30. The Who
31. The Clash
32. Bob Seger
33. Rolling Stones
34. Supertramp
35. Rush
36. Huey Lewis and the News
37. The Toasters
38. Genesis
39. The Police
40. Simon and Garfunkel
41. U2
42. Roger Waters (one song, rehearsal in the Aud)
43. Heart
44. Todd Rundgren (solo)
45. Crosby, Stills and Nash
46. Linda Ronstadt
47. Jethro Tull
48. Jerry Lee Lewis (Bisons game)
49. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
50. Jefferson Starship

This doesn't include such acts as John Fogerty, Al Stewart, John Sebastian, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Outlaws, Bette Midler, Gloria Estevan (Bisons' game), The Association, Everly Brothers, Grass Roots, Gary U.S. Bonds, Diana Ross (sister wanted to go), Re-flex, Poco, Andrew Gold, The Iron City Houserockers, McAuley-Schenker Group, Uriah Heep, Spanky and Our Gang, Blues Traveler, BR-549, Vinnie Moore, Steve Morse, The Perils, Stanky Brown, Paul Freeman ... and some unmemorable opening acts whose names have faded into the dustbin of history.

So who else should have I seen, besides any members of the Beatles? Peter Gabriel and Rod Stewart come to mind. Clapton, Dylan, and Santana would be nice.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Marv Albert's favorite band

The band Yes has been around for about 40 years now. They've gone through all sorts of changes in that span; you might need a scorecard to keep up with the personnel changes. They've also recorded a couple of dozen albums and certainly made enough money to keep them in something close to rock star luxury for a lifetime.

But speaking of changes, consider this one. This is a band that once headlined Rich Stadium for a concert, and drew tens of thousands. On Saturday, the boys played the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena before a "half-capacity crowd." I'm not sure how many people the place holds, as it was my first visit, but the floor was less than half full, the 10 rows closest to the floor were generally full, and the eight rows in the balcony were quite empty. We're probably talking less than 2,000 for a group that once played before 60,000 just up the road.

Let's give the band credit here. It's the end of a tour, and they stared out into some empty seats in Jamestown upon taking the stage. Yet, they all worked hard throughout and turned in a polished, professional show. The "opening act," Asia, did the same thing -- it's always a treat to see Carl Palmer pound the drums and his gongs.

But the night did prompt some thoughts about the concept of "dinosaur rock." As in, what exactly are the rules for rock bands when they get old?

In the case of Yes, Rick Wakeman has retired from public performances. His son, Oliver, replaced him on this tour. Oliver didn't sport a cape like his dad often did but seems to know his way around a keyboard. Meanwhile, Jon Anderson skipped this tour because of illness, so he was replaced by Benoit David of Montreal. David played in a Yes tribute band. He does sound like Anderson, as you'd expect, and he did a good job on vocals on Saturday. Alan White, Steve Howe and Chris Squire were all back at their usual stations.

So ... does a band need to have its lead singer perform in order to be a little more "legitimate" in performance? Is it Yes without Anderson? If Pete Townshend fired Roger Daltrey, would it still be the Who? If there is a new lineup, does it need to be recording new music in order to be taken seriously? Yet if Paul McCartney were playing with four guys from Elmira, wouldn't you pay to see him?

And moving a notch down the pecking order, what do we do with the bands that have retained an original name and play the hits to make a living despite having one or none original members? If you ever want to get dizzy, read the history of the Temptations on Wikipedia.

We're making up the rules as we go as some of our (insert "baby boomers" here) favorite musicians reach social security status. I'll keep going to hear the music I like, but I have to admit that the concept of a rebellious rocker becomes something of an oxymoron three or four decades into a career.