THE TWO PANDEMICS – RICH PASCHALL

From the battleground, by Rich Paschall

COVID-19

All of us are acutely aware of the novel COronaVIrus Disease (COVID-19) that has swept the nation. It has devastated businesses, overwhelmed hospitals, and inundated social services. In comparison to the last great recession (December 2007 to June 2009), things are much worse. According to the Pew Research Center, “The rise in the number of unemployed workers due to COVID-19 is substantially greater than the increase due to the Great Recession when the number unemployed increased by 8.8 million from the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2010.”  The Great Recession happened over a couple of years, not a few months.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics pegged the number of unemployed at the end of May at around 21 million. That was actually a slight improvement as some temporarily laid-off workers were called back to work. The rise in employment came in ” leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade.” This may be in anticipation of things opening back up. Some of these businesses are in for a shock.

The head of the World Health Organization has issued a dire warning. “Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up,” he said. This might seem contrary to what an orange politician has to say. He might lead us to believe that the numbers are improving in the US. They are not. While numbers here are averaging 53,000 new cases per day (as of July 4th), Dr. Anthony Faucci, Director of the National Institute of  Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told a Senate committee that numbers could reach 100,000 per day. “Clearly we are not in total control right now.”

The orange one wants to fool you into thinking that increased testing is the cause of more positive cases. If that is not a lie than it is the statement of an incredibly uninformed individual. His job is to be informed. ProPublica looked at a seven day average from Memorial Day to the following Tuesday. In states like Illinois, New York, and Indiana where testing increased, the number of positive cases fell.  This rewarded their early and strong lockdown measures. In Florida, Arizona, and Texas, along with other red states who were too eager to reopen their economies, the number of positive cases exploded.

Stupidity

If you are reading or listening to the real news, not the Faux News the orange one watches, then you know there are plenty of examples of people who scoffed at the virus, and then died from it. We went down that road with you when we pointed out how “Stupidity Rears Its Ugly Head.” Then we mentioned a Virginia pastor, a Texas priest,  a Texas mom, and an evangelical pastor who all took the virus lightly, then died from it.

There have been more examples since that article ran. A lot more examples. And yet there are still people who want to believe that this is all a hoax or at least exaggerated. A death toll of 132,000 is not an exaggeration. It is a fact.

A leader of the ReOpen Maryland protests got so sick he had to go to an Emergency Room. I guess I do not have to tell you what he has. Now he refuses to help contact tracers. “I will not share anybody’s information with the government. I will not do it.” The governor is encouraging people who came in contact with him to get tested and to stay away from vulnerable populations. This is how grandma gets sick and dies.

In Michigan, where the so-called POTUS was encouraging anarchy by suggesting gun-toting right-wingers liberate the state, karma has struck. In East Lansing, they may have been able to enjoy a cold beer or two, but many won’t be doing that this week. One hundred fifty-two (yes, 152) cases of coronavirus were linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub. The number keeps rising. Contact tracers show this moving into 13 counties. Those infected at the bar range from 18 to 28 years old, but there are nineteen secondary cases with ages ranged 16 to 63. That’s how grandpa gets sick and dies.

A student has returned to New York from Florida for a graduation ceremony for Horace Greeley High School. She got sick and since 4 others from the graduation are sick. She had returned from a Florida COVID-19 hotspot and contact tracers are now on the case. Hopefully, grandma and grandpa stayed away.

Eight Trump campaign workers were reported to have the virus after the rally in Tulsa. Two Secret Service agents tested positive and dozens of agents are in quarantine. Oklahoma Watch reporter, Paul Monies, tested positive. Former Republican candidate Hermain Cain also has it. He’s 74 and hospitalized. As for other attendees, time will tell us soon. Hopefully, grandma and grandpa did not attend.

Photo: Washington Post

You probably know I could go on and on. New cases show up every day as certain red states find the situation out of control. And despite all of the news and all of the examples and all of the numbers, some people still prefer the words of a self-centered orange politician over that of medical professionals. Stupid.

Unlike an orange politician, I do not make up my facts. Therefore, here are my Sources: “U.S. could see 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, Fauci says,” by Helen Branswell, STAT, statnews.com, June 30, 2020.
Unemployment rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession,” by RAKESH KOCHHAR, Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, June 11, 2020.
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — MAY 2020,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, bls.gov, June 5, 2020.
WHO Chief On COVID-19 Pandemic: ‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’,” by Scott Neuman, NPR, nopr.org, June 29. 2020.
No, President Trump, Testing Is Not Causing Case Counts to Rise. The Virus Is Just Spreading Faster,” by Charles Ornstein and Ask Ngu, ProPublica, propublica.org, June 25, 2020.
A leader of protests to reopen Maryland says he is ill with COVID-19,” by Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, nbrnews.com, June 27, 2020.
Re-OpenMaryland co-founder catches coronavirus, won’t help contact tracers,” by Lee Brown, New York Post, nypost.com, June 28, 2020.
Coronavirus cases traced to East Lansing Harper’s Brew Pub rise to 152,” by Andrew Mullin, M Live, mlive.com, July 3, 2020.
NY student sparks COVID-19 cluster after returning from Florida,” by Melissa Klein, New York Post, nypost.com, June 27, 2020.
Eight Trump Campaign Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus After Tulsa Rally,” by Jamilah King, Mother Jones, motherjones.com
Secret Service agents quarantine after Tulsa Trump rally,” by David Aaro, FOX News, New York Post, nypost.com, June 25, 2020.
Reporter at Trump’s Tulsa rally tests positive for COVID-19,” Associated Press, apnews.com, June 26, 2020.
Former Presidential Candidate Herman Cain Hospitalized with COVID-19,” by Adam Carlson, People, people.com, July 2, 2020.

The orange one doesn’t read but if you have gotten this far we know you can. There is plenty to read above. Stay educated, stay home, stay safe.

See also: “Stupidity Rears Its Ugly Head,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, May 24, 2020.

WHERE’S MY STUFF? – Marilyn Armstrong and Rich Paschall

I know this isn’t the sexiest subject on the Internet, but this morning, I had to explain to my furniture store from whom — at the beginning of June — we ordered a new loveseat. The one we sit in — ALL the time — is 15 years old and has more or less collapsed. Considering that we are home pretty much all the time, we need something to support our backs — and sturdy enough to not be done in by the Duke’s sharp, pointy feet.

They have no idea when I’ll get my sofa. I’m not in a hurry anyway, so it was more a matter of information than urgency. Rich Paschall has explained this to me and to you (if you read the posts), I explained it to her. She hadn’t understood it either and said she was grateful because customers get restless and don’t seem to understand why the world isn’t working like it used to.

Tracks are the road

Most people think the delays are (or were) because so many people are (were, will be) sick, but that was where it began. From then on, it is far more complicated and it is not repaired. Most places aren’t entirely sure how to repair it. Until it is finally fixed, it might be quite a long time  before we see the improvements, even if every airline and freight mover works as hard as they can to get it working. Old ideas need to be replaced, in some cases with older ideas we abandoned or changed to entirely new ways of doing things.

We won’t have an economy if we can’t move our goods. Forget about overseas shipping. Even shipping in this country — which is a very big country with many airports and uncounted numbers of roads — has a lot of moving to do.Living in New England, we are completely dependent on getting fruits and vegetables from California, Florida, and Mexico from November through April and often longer. By early summer, I’m drooling over the idea of a fresh orange.

Spanning the river

Weather matters. Road conditions are critical.  That’s why public works — resurfacing, rebuilding roads and bridges — is a very big deal. It’s not just whether or not you get to work on time.

It’s also whether or not you have work to get to.

We need trains that run in addition to trucks, but we’ve never bothered to repair the tracks, so throughout the country, many direct routes are unusable. We have the trains, but the tracks are old and have not been maintained.

So, while wondering how come we don’t have our new recliner, we should ponder where it’s coming from and how it will somehow get from it’s point of manufacture to the shop in Uxbridge (where we bought it) and ultimately, to our living room.

A big truck and a low bridge

So for all of you waiting for a shipment, I’m posting a list of three of Rich’s well-written, clearly explained posts about the shipping. How it is broken and how it is being resurrected — to the degree that it can be resurrected.

I’m sure most of you don’t read these pieces because they aren’t sexy or exciting, They won’t make you laugh, but it’s information you nee, whether you are running a business or dependent on those who do. Shipping affects everybody, from grocery stores to flower growers, and people who just want a new fridge.

No one has stopped making stuff … but getting it? That’s a whole other story.

1. THE GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION – RICH PASCHALL

2. SENDING AND RECEIVING STUFF – RICH PASCHALL

3. BRING ON THE FRUITS AND VEGGIES – RICH PASCHALL

Considering that I had to explain this to my furniture company this morning what’s going on in the shipping industry, I’m pretty sure we all need to understand how complicated this process is. We’ve come to depend on getting everything as soon as we want it, whether it’s coming from China, England, or Australia.

Stuck in traffic on the way to Connecticut

The freight and shipping lines are broken. Like the damaged train tracks all over the U.S,, our supply lines are badly damaged. Restoring them to something like what we used to have won’t be instant. It will take time, cost big money, and require rethinking the process.

It’s a great opportunity for local farms, carpenters, builders … anyone whose business is close to its customers to do a major “reboot.” For everyone else, it’s the giant migraine of migraines. Be patient … or order locally, even if it costs more — assuming there IS a local manufacturer. When we moved all our manufacturing to Asia, a lot of things we all need went far away. I don’t think we make kitchen or laundry appliances anywhere in this country. When you aren’t buying it from a Chinese factory, it will cost more and try to remember even if it has an American brand name on it, that doesn’t mean it was made here or even on this continent.

On the other hand, it might be worth more, too. And you might get it during this lifetime.

BLACK LIKE ME – RICH PASCHALL

From the battleground, by Rich Paschall


My father’s parents, my grandparents, were from rural Tennessee. They lived in Weakley County and their town was Martin. They were farmers but after World War II life there was hard and they moved to Chicago. When my grandfather retired from the Appleton Electric factory, they moved back to Tennessee and bought a house at the very edge of town. By that I mean there was a cornfield across the street.

I had been down there when I was little but don’t remember a lot about it. When I was a little older I would go to visit my retired grandparents, perhaps early to mid-1960s. I would walk with my grandfather into town. It was a mile to maybe a mile and a half to get to the start of Main Street. It could not have been more stereotypical small southern town America.

Martin, Tennessee 1965

These walks were more to exercise my aging grandparent than anything else. We rarely stopped anywhere. On one trip as we walked down the street, we saw a couple of black guys coming from the other direction. As they got near us they stepped off the sidewalk to let us pass. I thought this was rather strange. On the next block, it happened again. “Grandpa, why do those guys get off the sidewalk when we come by?”

“Oh,” my grandfather said rather sadly, “it’s just what black folks do.” I was rather naive and I just didn’t get it. I thought something was wrong with us that these people did not want to share the sidewalk with us. It would take a few more years before I got it. I am not sure why, but that is a strong memory that stays with me.

When my grandparents lived in Chicago, I guess I spent as much time with them as anyone. My grandfather read the Bible every day and took the lessons to heart. He saw everyone as the same and never said a bad word about others, so I didn’t consider the idea of different races. He was the most decent man I have known in my life. He was a real Christian and believed in the Golden Rule.  I am sure he would not know what to make of all the fake Christians today.

When I was older, a book was recommended to me entitled, “Black Like Me.” It is the true story of John Howard Griffin. In 1959 he got the help of a dermatologist to temporarily turn his skin brown using drugs and ultraviolet light. When he could pass as a black man in the south, he set out on his journey.

Original publication 1960

He solicited the help of a black shoeshine man he knew in New Orleans, who did not recognize him at first. He needed an introduction in the community and had to confide in someone. The journey is at times sad, at other times harrowing. When you have finished the book you have a better understanding of just how hard life could be for black people in the south prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, you could never really know.  Yes, this 1960 book is dated now, but it had a big impact at the time of release. The author had to move to Mexico for fear of his life.

There is a 1964 movie starring James Whitmore that dramatizes the book. It has been decades since I have seen it so I can not explain how much it sanitizes the story for the viewing public. I am sure they did not capture a lot of what he was saying. The movie can still be found online. I ran across a free version on YouTube.

You may have seen the social experiment where a teacher asks an assembly of white people if they would prefer to be treated like a black person. Without getting even one response, she repeats the question, but there are no takers. Then she explains the facts to them:

I have lived in the same house for 41 years. It is a diverse neighborhood of mostly white, but black and brown and yellow too. I have never been afraid to walk down the street before, but it has been a rough few days. People are on edge. Businesses are closed. The post office and the bank are closed. Stores are boarded up as merchants large and small fear for their businesses.  I worry about going too far from the house that I might get beat up or killed in a neighborhood that has always been home.

It is no secret how I feel this has happened. I have seen The Making of America” and it has not been great. If Donald J Trump, the master of divisiveness, is not the anti-Christ, he is doing a good impersonation. But I digress.

With the boarding up of stores from Lincoln Square to Albany Park to Lake View to downtown Chicago, and with the threats to the gay business to Boystown, it has terrified many folks I know. Since the city has successfully cut off downtown with the police and the National Guard, protests have moved to the neighborhoods. A friend of mine commented on Facebook how frightening it was to live like this. He mentioned how there were sirens through the night and people were killed over the weekend.  Another friend replied:

“Scary isn’t it. That fear is what many black people feel all the time”

See Also: The Making Of America, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, June 2, 2020.

THE MAKING OF AMERICA – RICH PASCHALL

It Isn’t Great, by Rich Paschall

After 100,000 have died, millions have lost their jobs and America’s cities burn, we can hear the right-wingers now. “You can’t blame this on Trump. This is not Trump’s fault.” But here’s the problem. It IS Trump’s fault, just about all of it.

LIAR in Chief

The amount of lies Trump has told the American people is staggering. This is not just a wild assertion as some on the right side of the aisle may claim.  It is a well-documented fact. This is not just put out there by the Washington Post, but also by many fact-checkers around the country. If the Post is too liberal for you, you can find a variety of sources. If he is talking or tweeting, he’s probably lying. Now he wants to stop Twitter from fact-checking him.

Opportunist  in Chief

Despite something known as the Emoluments Clause, Trump has taken the opportunity to further enrich himself and his rich friends. He plays a lot of golf on the taxpayer’s money, then has the secret service and others in the entourage stay at his lodging, also at taxpayers’ expense. This is the way to funnel your money to himself.

Clause 7   The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

He would not know the meaning of this, nor would he care.

Tax Cutter in Chief

OK, this was never meant to help you.  This was all about giving himself and his rich friends a tax break. In other words, the rich got richer.

Hater in Chief

You may think this one is pretty strong. Am I actually calling out someone as a hater? His whole term in office is about hate speech and defending “some very nice people” with confederate or Nazi flags and automatic weapons.

Anarchist in Chief

The statements by someone already in an office that are meant to undermine local, state, or even federal government are outrageous, to say the least. He has used his position of authority, not to work with others, but to bad mouth mayors, governors and US Senators, and Representatives. His provocative speech has indicated to his base of supporters that it is OK to “Liberate” states. It is ok to challenge public officials. That white nationalist protestors include some very nice people. White Racists, including the KKK, favor Trump. In fact, the KKK endorsed him in the last election.

Mis-manager in Chief

He had the opportunity to take the lead in times of crisis. He blew it. He blamed China, he blamed governors, he blamed scientists, he blamed Obama. He blamed everyone for not getting out in front of this crisis but himself. As we write this at the end of May, the virus is on the rise in many states. Trump encourages the opening of states because it would help the economy. The only thing it may help is the death toll.

Leaders of some countries took early and decisive action. Trump dismissed it
“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”  – January 22nd.

The World Health Organization warned of a worldwide pandemic, Trump called it a Democratic hoax: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power … to inflame the CoronaVirus situation.”  – March 9th

Other countries took action to help their people. Trump and the Republicans blocked a second stimulus payment. They work toward legislation to protect companies from any liability for forcing employees back to work. They threatened to cut off unemployment benefits. Trump refused to cancel student loans.

Nero in Chief

He may not know how to play the fiddle, but he is doing a good job of pretending to be Emperor while the cities burn.  Here is why it is his fault:

Robber in Chief

Yes, there are people who are taking advantage of a bad situation to do bad things. Some are looting stores for their own personal joy or gain. Some are causing destruction to make one side or the other look bad. As I write to you, my emergency alert on my phone is not announcing bad weather, it is announcing a city curfew.  There is violence in the streets.

There are lawbreakers among the protestors and rioters, that’s for sure. And no matter what any of them may steal tonight or in the days to come, Trump has already stolen from them the most important thing necessary to make and keep America great. He has stolen HOPE. He has left many Americans broken and alone while he sits on his toilet, or wherever, sending tweets of hate into cyberspace. Meanwhile:

  • Is there any hope that situations will improve between big-city police departments and communities of color?
  • Is there any hope that economic opportunities will come to the communities of color?
  • Is there any hope that gun violence and people violence will subside in our country?
  • Is there any hope that immigrant families, ripped apart at the border, will be united?
  • Is there any hope that a leader will step forward and unite America with one voice through this pandemic?
  • Is there any hope that that the poor and middle class will find more assistance during extended unemployment, as other countries have done for their citizens, or will stimulus really be a way to hand more money to the rich?

People who take to the streets in protests that turn violent have lost hope that change will come by any other means. They have been driven down and stepped on and had a knee put to their collective throats. They are sick and tired of it. The words from the Orange Menace in Washington signals to the people of the nation that indeed, there is no hope.

On Monday Limbaugh and Hannity and Trump will all rage away. Will anyone offer hope to the masses?

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR – RICH PASCHALL

The Class of South Pacific, by Rich Paschall

Most of your high school and college graduates will not have the pleasure of hearing the typical graduation speeches this year.  Students are usually listening to them in wonder, perhaps even shock at some odd notion.  It seems like a peculiar thing to say to high school or college graduates, and yet we say it all the time.

“These are the best years of your life,” a guest speaker may exclaim.  Some may narrow it down to tell students, “You will look back on this as the best year of your life.”  The best year?

It was a long time ago, and I can not recall specifically what I heard at my various graduations, but I am pretty sure the idea was sold to me somewhere.  “How can this be?” graduates may ask themselves.  “What about the next 60 years?  You mean to say, ‘this is it’?”

Are these youthful years the best years of our lives?  Is this where we had the best times, best friends, best dances and concerts and music and well, everything?  The answer is a surprising yes, and no.

graduation

When I was in the third year of high school I learned that DePaul Academy would be closing and we would all be shipped off to another area high school.  To be perfectly honest, I did not like this a bit.  Despite the tough discipline of my school and the fear of 4th year Latin, I wanted to go to a similar environment.  However, the school where I applied to go to for 4th year would not take any incoming seniors.  So off I went where they sent me, bound to make the best of it.

There were a few familiar faces at the new school, some were transfers like me and some I knew from grade school.  There were also new experiences. There were dances and plays.  They had a fine arts department (something lacking at the all-boys academy) and teachers who seemed to care about you as well as your studies.  I took drama, not fourth-year Latin.  I came, I saw, I took something else.

The social activities meant more opportunities to make friends.  The interaction was an education itself.  Soon there was a group of us that hung together a lot, and some of us still do.

The most remarkable part of this transition was the “Senior Class Play.”  Yes, so many students wanted to take part, it was just for seniors, as in 17 and 18-year-old students.  I got the nerve to audition.  I have no idea what I sang.  Everybody was in the show so it did not matter that a hundred of us showed up.  We were going to do South Pacific.  I was rather unaware of it.

I’m in this group, front row just left of center.

Aside from learning the art of theater (Project, Enunciate, Articulate, Stand up straight), I learned about the classic story of war, hate, prejudice and, of course, love.  Learning to play our parts was important.  We were commanded to be professional in everything.  We also learned a story that held a dramatic lesson in life.

When the movie starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rosanno Brazzi, and Ray Waltson was re-released, we ran off to see it.  In subsequent years, we saw several community theater productions as well as professional versions of the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical.  We grew to love the theater and the lessons that such musicals could bring to us.  We learned why fine arts were so important in the schools.

So we were fortunate. We had a positive experience and a good education.  We learned our lessons in the halls as well as the classroom, and in the gym which was also our auditorium.  We signed one another’s yearbooks and held on to them like they were made of gold.  But was it the best year of my life?  If so, what about all the intervening years?

It is an interesting paradox that you can not adequately explain to an 18-year-old graduate.  Yes, it was the best year up to that point, and it will always remain so.  Nothing can ever take away those memories, so hopefully, they are all positive.  Those lessons of love and life will influence everything from that point on.

While you are busy making new memories, a career, a family perhaps, and new friends, they will all be measured against “the best year of your life,” whether it is at 18 or 21.  Some friends may be better, some lessons may be better, some experiences may be better, but they will all be measured against those moments in youth when you discovered who you were and where you were going.  The quality of future friendships must stand up to those already at hand.
If you have a South Pacific in your memory bank, you will tell people all across the (hopefully) many generations that come through your life how this was a great experience.  You may say it was the best time ever.  If your younger friend looks sorry that your best times were so far back, remind him to enjoy what he has because it will be the springboard to everything else.  It will be his touchstone.

Every spring, without fail for these many decades, the change of seasons hits me like some great coming of age story.  My imagination calls up images of Bali Hai and I hear echoes of “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” in the distance.  I once again feel “Younger Than Springtime” and every night is “Some Enchanted Evening.”  Whenever I look back to the Class of South Pacific, I can also look forward to a lot of “Happy Talk” for everyone who will listen.

ABSOLUTELY NO ABSOLUTE RIGHTS

Funny isn’t it? What was current six weeks ago is current now.

Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Stay at Home, Save Lives, by Rich Paschall

While we accept the precept of “freedom of speech,” we also understand that it does not apply to everything in all situations. As you probably have heard often, we are not allowed to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. This could cause a stampede for the exits and put some people at risk of being hurt or killed in the panic.

Similarly, you can not shout out in a crowd that you see a gun when there is none. Due to the types of mass shootings we have seen in recent years, we know that there could be a panic that could cause harm.

Image: Mashable.com

You are also forbidden to engage in the type of speech that would incite a riot. Hate speech in gatherings could, in turn, result in attacks either at a rally, let say…

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I’LL BE WHAT I AM – RICH PASCHALL

A Solitary Man, Rich Paschall

When the “stay at home” orders dragged on from March to April and then to May, it seemed like we needed some music to fit the situation. Some were creating playlists and posting them online. Others were writing and recording new songs. With all this creativity at hand, I decided to jump into the fray with our own Pandemic Playlist.

A lonely seagull

First up was a post entitled Splendid Isolation, named after the song by the late Warren Zevon. I sat down to compile a song list that would seem to fit our unique situations. This led to a variety of topics and a very long “shortlist” for my Top Ten.  It was hard work watching all those YouTube videos but I knew, “I Will Survive.”

With the SERENDIPITY Sequester Songlist finished, I knew we were off to a good start, but I still had a lot of tunes tempting me to go again. Many titles contained a variation of the word “Lone.” You know, Lonely, Alone, Lonesome and things like that. There were Lonely People in a Lonely Town who were all Alone or possibly Alone Together. From a Lonely Boy to Mr. Lonely they knew how Only The Lonely could feel. This Quarantine list was Just A Lonely Boy, from the opening line of the Paul Anka song.

As I looked over what was intended to be a shortlist for a Top Ten Quarantine songs, I realized there were at least twenty more. No, I will not give you another Top Ten, just the best of the rest. It was hard to rank these as they are all good songs. The order could change at any moment, so remember, this is just One Moment In Time.

Solitary man?

8. Solitaire, Neil Sedaka.  The song was written by Sedaka and frequent collaborator Phil Cody. The Carpenters had a hit with it, so did Andy Williams. Sedaka recently stated on his YouTube channel that at least 60 artists have recorded it.  Despite the hits by others, it seemed best to let Sedaka do the honors. If you liked the old Sedaka songs then you are in luck. The prolific singer, songwriter octogenarian gives mini-concerts every weekday on YouTube during the pandemic stay at home orders.

7. All By Myself, Eric Carmen. Another singer, songwriter, Eric Carmen started with the group The Raspberries in the early 1970s and went on a career all by himself.  Carmen is a classically trained pianist and based this hit tune on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The song made it to No. 2 on the US Billboard charts.

6. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Green Day. Some might consider this NSFW due to one of the words in the lyrics. The official video here has sort of garbled the word but you’ll get it. Radio play just took it out. Well, everything is screwed up. What else can I say? I am pretty sure that lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong is not related to Garry and Marilyn, but I never really asked. Any way Armstrong declares, “My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me, My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating.” He walks the boulevard alone.

5. Isolation, John Lennon. This one certainly has gotten popular since the stay at home orders. It appeared on Lennon’s first album following the breakup of The Beatles.  Recorded at Abbey Road studio, the album was released on the Apple label in 1970 to critical acclaim. Interestingly, Ringo Starr played drums on this track. Lennon is on the piano.

4. Dancing With Myself, Billy Idol. After that last one, I thought we should pick up the pace. If there is no one there to dance with, it is OK to dance with yourself. The song was originally released in the UK in 1980 by the band Gen-X with Billy Idol as the lead singer. The following year it was remixed and re-released in the US as a solo by Idol, who also co-wrote the song. Just remember:
“Well, there’s nothing to lose
And there’s nothing to prove, well,
Dancing a-with myself”

3. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles. I don’t think there is anyone lonelier than Eleanor Rigby unless it is Father McKenzie of the same song. This 1966 release was quite a departure for the pop band. The song features eight string players, arranged by famed Beatles producer, George Martin. The song is about the elderly and the lonely. Only the Beatles could have had a hit with this one. “Ah, look at all the lonely people.”

2. One, Three Dog Night. Harry Nilsson wrote the song and released his version in 1968, but it was the Three Dog Night version the following year that became a hit. The repetition of the same note at the outset is meant to symbolize a busy single. If you make a call and get no one, then you are the only one. And as we all know, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

1. Solitary Man, Neil Diamond. One of the best selling singer-songwriters in the world, Diamond had a big hit with this one, his first solo release in 1966. You are likely familiar with a radio version with background singers and big production. It was a powerful interpretation. There was also a version recorded alone without the background singers. It sounded more personal as he changed “then Sue came along” to “then you came along.”  The ultimate message is the same. Until he finds the right person, “I’ll be what I am, A solitary man.”

These were the best ones that did not make my other Playlists. To hear any one of the above just click the title. If you want to hear all nine on the Solitaire Playlist, click here.  I added both versions of the Neil Diamond song, one performance from 1971 (above), one from 2012.

See also: SPLENDID ISOLATION, Your Quarantine Playlist, April 26, 2020.
JUST A LONELY BOY, Lonely and Blue, May 6, 2020. (Lonesome Playlist)

SENDING AND RECEIVING STUFF – RICH PASCHALL

The Supply Chain and You – Rich Paschall

Toilet paper isles in most stores in New York and CT

This is about more than the amount of toilet paper you can get the next time you go shopping if you can get any at all. This is about all the other stuff. We all have a lot of stuff. Some of the stuff is made up of lots of stuff from various places. No manufacturer actually makes all the items they use when they assemble stuff for you. Cars, radios, televisions, stoves, washing machines…well you name it. They were probably made with items that came from various sources. This means the shipping and receiving of goods play an important role in all the things you buy.

Even the simplest of goods rely on an efficient means of transportation. People have gotten so used to getting things quickly, that people are actually lodging complaints with Amazon for not delivering their groceries, widgets, or whatever on the same day, or even a two-hour window where they offer it. Transportation companies are down-sizing. Airlines are grounded. People are sick. Stuff is not moving like it used to move. It’s not going to recover overnight, even if some politician says it should.

For example, POTUS has ordered meatpacking plants to remain open and ship to stores. Despite his “executive order,” plants are closing around the country.  In fact, seven more have closed since he ordered them to stay open on April 28. One hundred sixty-seven plants have had coronavirus outbreaks and over 9400 people were stricken. At least 45 have died. Sorry, but the bacon order is going to be delayed.

While a lot of these companies use their own trucks to get food from point A to your grocery store, others rely on other truckers and the airlines to move their product around, but what if the trucks are not trucking?

Truck Transportation.

You see trucks of all sizes all over the road. If you live near an airport you likely see quite a few due to the practice of locating truck terminals near airports, seaports, and rail yards. Like every industry, trucking has been hit by illness. So have warehouse workers, ground handlers at the ports, trucker loaders, document checkers, security guards, and a variety of people who are part of the transportation chain. One COVID-19 outbreak at a truck terminal can shut it down for a day or more while the area is sanitized. After that, you can understand a reluctance by others to return to the scene.

If goods are traveling across the country by rail or plane, then you have to rely on a trucker to pick up the goods and deliver to the destination. But that might actually be several truckers. One picks it up and takes to his terminal. Someone unloads the goods and then loads to another truck with other items going across the country or to the airport or wherever.  There are many people handling goods in the supply chain and for some industries, the chain is just broken.

With many factories and warehouses shut, some truckers have stopped working on the weekends. Some have far fewer truck runs and it is not economical for an over the road trucker to go with a half-empty truck. His company may have him wait until the truck will be full, at least in one direction. Hence, YOUR goods are delayed.

Air Transportation.

Sometimes your goods are moving around by more than the freighter airplanes. Widebody aircraft usually fill up to two-thirds of the belly space with cargo. Even those small planes might be moving small packages along with the people. Air Canada for example, was moving one to one and a half million metric tons of cargo a day systemwide prior to an almost complete halt of shipping due to COVID-19. Every airline is in the same situation.

Pinal Air Park, Arizona

If many millions of tons of cargo a day can not move, how do things get from place to place? From mid-March to until now, the demand has been down, but there is still some demand. As a point of full disclosure, as they say, I work for Air Canada. I have worked in transportation for over 35 years. In the last six weeks, I have probably said no to more requests for bookings than I have taken.

The skies are starting to open up as more places are allowing flights, but there is one big problem for passenger airlines like Air Canda, United, American, Delta, and so on. How can you fly those big passenger planes without passengers? An orange politician may tell us that everything is OK and we can all go back to normal but are you going to go to a crowded airport and take a flight anywhere in the next few months?  No, I didn’t think so.

By the end of March, the airline industry had felt that they could get back to 90 percent of the business they were doing at the beginning of the year by this December. The prediction now is 50 percent.  Air Canada said this week that they are currently operating at 5 percent of capacity. For your stuff to move, there are fewer flights on all airlines, and the cost can be as much as six times higher than it used to be to move your stuff from here to there. How long can that go on?

Reinvention.

Seats removed from Boeing 777

So what do you do with an airline that has most of its fleet parked and a slow recovery ahead? You know you have to bring the cost of transportation down, even if you can not bring it to pre-COVID-19 levels. So, you have to reinvent yourself. Survival depends on it.  Air Canada will retire 79 aircraft this year, roughly 1/3 of its fleet. It will become much smaller in the hopes of building back up. And what about all those large airplanes? Increase cargo capacity.

Air Canada has removed 442 seats from 4 of their 777 passenger flights and will do the same with another one as well as three Airbus 333. The seat tracks on the floor work well to secure cargo netting and the main deck can be loaded with cargo. There is no cargo door, and loading equipment can not be used. But the short term solution, although labor-intensive, is to replace passengers with cargo so your stuff can get here.

No passengers? Move cargo.

Sources include: “Trump executive order didn’t stop meat plant closures. Seven more shut in the past week,” By Kyle Bagenstose and Sky Chadde, USA TODAY, May 5, 2020.
See also: The Global Supply Chain Disruption, The Pandemic Problem, SERENDIPITY, April 15, 2020.

THE GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION – RICH PASCHALL

Now that supply and delivery logistics are breaking down throughout this country and the rest of the world, this might be something to which you might want to pay attention.


The Pandemic Problem, by Rich Paschall


Arriving at Chicago O’Hare

It is a lot quieter at the airport these days. There are few passengers, therefore fewer flights. The drop off is significant. The reductions will continue, not just because of a fear of flying by the public, but also because of the restrictions put into place by countries around the world.

After over 30 years in the freight forwarding industry, I joined an airline last year. I have been working for Air Canada at Chicago O’hare International Airport. ORD is one of the busiest airports in the world. In fact, it has been ranked 6th in recent years. There were over 83 million passengers served at ORD in 2018.

On Friday of last week, we were told to take home our laptops and whatever else we needed and not come back until told to do so. My “office” unfortunately is now less than 15 feet from my refrigerator. I’ll survive.

About Air Canada

Here is a little info on the company from a press release issued Wednesday. I tell you this not as a company promotion since you aren’t going anywhere, but so you will understand the problems that lie ahead:

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline serving nearly 220 airports on six continents. Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2019 served over 51 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 62 airports in Canada, 53 in the United States and 101 in Europe, the Middle EastAfricaAsiaAustralia, the CaribbeanMexicoCentral America, and South America.

Needless to say, they have an extensive schedule. Unfortunately, I can not read the flight cancellations fast enough. Many weeks ago we stopped flying to mainland China. Flights to Seoul, Korea, and Hong Kong have been cut by more than half.  The extent of the outbreak in Italy stopped flights to Rome and delayed the return of the Air Canada Milan flight. Other lanes have stopped or will stop.

You will notice above that not counting the USA and Canada cities, there were 101 international airports served, most with wide-body aircraft. By the start of April, that will be cut to 6.  SIX! We know passengers don’t want to fly.  All airlines are cutting flights. But what about your freight?

Freight Forwarding

To simplify the explanation, I used to tell people that a freight forwarder is like a travel agent for your freight. It is a lot more complicated than that, but it is the best I can do.

ORD is quiet now

There are a lot of regulations and hence a lot of paperwork to complete. Since 9/11 and the “known shipper” rules, it became more complicated. Follow that with a realization made a few years ago that we really ought to be screening freight because we screen all passengers. This made the challenge greater.

I would tell people if they have a package of a few pounds and of low value, they ought to call UPS or FedEx or even take it to the post office. If you have a thousand pounds, the first two might take it at a high price, the last, probably no chance at all.

So how do all these goods get around the world? If they need a thousand widgets in Lyon, France and you have to get it there in a few days, there are a number of airlines that could help. They could fly to Paris and truck to Lyon. Yes, most airlines have a trucking network in place. That allows them to get to most major cities in the country to which they fly. When you consider “interline agreements,” some airlines can take your freight almost anywhere in the world. Air Canada does not serve Antarctica, but they are working on plans to serve the more remote places in Canada.   Think drones.

Belly Space 

If you ever gazed out the window while airline handlers were loading an aircraft, you may have noticed that they were not just putting baggage on board. On the widebody international flights, up to two-thirds of the belly space could be filled with cargo. Multiple positions could hold boards of freight (airline pallets) that are 125 inches long by 96 inches. Stacking the freight up to 64 inches high you could get up 4000 kilos (8800 pounds) in each spot. Yes, that’s a lot of cargo.

Chicago Department of Aviation says ORD handles “just under two million metric tonnes of cargo per year.” Consider all the large airports in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. They are all sending out goods and bringing goods back. The supply line is about to be slowed to a trickle. As plants shut down around the world, fewer goods will be shipped.

Now we are in the unfortunate position of turning away cargo for lack of flights to some areas. Soon the number will choke industry. Remember the numbers above. One hundred and one airports served are now cut to just six. USA and Canada service will also be curtailed. How will our goods get to foreign customers? How will their goods get to us?

The Darkest Days

How can we keep everyone working when there is little work? How does a factory work if it can not get its supplies? Many may want to ship us goods, including food, but how will they get in if we close the borders?

The darkest days are ahead, that’s for sure. I am not trying to scare you to death, although you should be scared. Conserve. Be safe. Wash your hands. Stay home as much as possible.

Leaving on a jet plane

After the darkest days and nights will certainly come the dawn. We survived the slow down that followed 9/11. We had days of no flights and then a slow return. This will be longer, but the return to normal will come.

The sun will shine for you again. In order to help you with that, I am lining up sunshine songs for Sunday.  Seriously.

Come and sing along with us. At a social distance, of course.

JOHNNY CASH AND NINE INCH NAILS – RICH PASCHALL

Covering Hurt, by Rich Paschall

You probably know what it means to “cover” a song. That’s when one artist records, or “covers,” the work of another artist. Sometimes the later version becomes a bigger hit than the original.  Such was the case when white artists were “Covering R&B Music” and getting all of the radio airplay. If you have been following this space, you probably have noticed we have covered this topic often. (Pun intended.)

You may have been “Disturbed” to learn that a heavy metal group covered the classic “Sound of Silence.” You may have wondered “Who Covered Who” when we talked about the folk-pop hit “Both Sides Now.” You knew Rick Astley was “Never Gonna Give You Up,” but could you imagine another singer offering the same thing? If you are up “After Midnight,” you may be singing the Eric Clapton song, but did you know he was actually covering another artist’s work? We have presented many cover songs with the question, “Who Sang It Best?”

Johnny Cash

When you think of country-rock legend Johnny Cash, you probably do not think of him as a cover artist. He was a prolific singer-songwriter and penned some classic hits like “I Walk The Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Man in Black” and “Flesh and Blood.” He also wrote songs with his wife, June Carter Cash. She wrote “Ring of Fire” with Merle Kilgore which became one of Johnny’s biggest hits. Of course, he also performed a number of songs written by others.  He recorded an astounding 97 albums, several were posthumous releases.

Late in life Cash had a resurgence in his career when he teamed up with legendary record producer Rick Rubin. As co-founder of Def Jam Records, Rubin was not exactly known for working with country stars. In fact, he produced some of the early hip hop artists, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Run DMC, and others. He also worked with heavy metal acts like Slayer, Metallica, AC/DC and a list of famous hard rock bands

For his American Recordings label, Rubin produced an album for Johnny Cash, released in 1994, that included six cover songs as well as some new material Rubin solicited. How did Rubin team up with Cash?

In 1992, Rubin saw Cash at a Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert and felt that Cash was still a great artist who had been pushed aside by the industry. Cash was understandably skeptical of someone who had worked in very different musical genres, but Rubin promised Cash creative control. “I would like you to do whatever feels right for you.” So Cash went back to the way he performed in the early years, just Johnny and a guitar. The record was simply called “American Recordings.”

The album was a critical success and revitalized the career of one of Country Western’s greatest stars. This lead to another album with Rubin producing in 1996, then another and another. In 2002, American IV: The Man Comes Around was a double LP consisting of mostly cover songs, and a surprising selection at that. It included country, traditional (Danny Boy, Streets of Laredo), pop, and the “industrial rock” hit by Nine Inch Nails, “Hurt.”

Cash did not know what to make of the Nine Inch Nails recording so Rubin sent him the lyrics. “Just read the lyrics. If you like the lyrics, then we’ll find a way to do it that will suit you.” Cash read it. He got it.

Nine Inch Nails songwriter and lead singer Trent Reznor was not exactly enthusiastic about the idea of Cash doing his song but thought it probably would not happen anyway. When he received the recording, he was not impressed. “It didn’t sound bad, it just sounded something wrong, it sounded alien,” Reznor said.

Enter movie director Mark Romanek. He had previously produced a number of famous artists’ videos and was looking for a chance to make a Cash video. “I begged Rick Rubin to let me shoot something to that track,” Romanek told Dave Urbanski, author of a January 2003 biography of Cash. Johnny Cash was not really interested. He was old and sick did not want to stay in Tennessee where it was wintertime and cold. Romanek knew it was a race against time. He was given a small amount of time in which to work.

They used the long-shuttered House Of Cash museum, a former home, to film the video. The place was in a stay of decay. While Romanek did not have any intention of splicing in other footage, they found a complete library of Johnny Cash films at the home and added some cuts of a younger Cash.

When Reznor received the video, his mind was changed. “Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow.” He had written the song at a dark and desperate time in his life, and it carried a very personal meaning for him. “[Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning – different, but every bit as pure.”

For comparison, we offer the Nine Inch Nails version. We won’t ask who sang it best.

Rubin and Romanek talked about the making of the video in the following cut. Some music heavyweights offer up their comments as well.

Sources: “Why Did Johnny Cash Cover Hurt?”  radioX, radio.co.uk, 26 February 2020.
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails Song)” en.wikipedia.org
The story behind Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’, still the saddest music video of all time,” by Christopher Hooton, Independent, independent.co.uk, 6 October 2015.
Johnny Cash: “Hurt”, The Story Behind The Video,” by Paul Goodman, spinditty.com, 17 February 2020.

THE DISHONEST JURY – RICH PASCHALL

Shock and Dismay, by Rich Paschall 

Imagine, if you will, that you have been summoned for jury duty. You know as a good citizen that it is an honor to serve the justice system. It is an important part of your life as a law-abiding citizen of the country.  You show up on time and ready to be an impartial juror. After you are seated on the jury, you learn to your shock and utter disgust that another member of the jury has already made up his mind. Worse than that, he is engaged in convincing other members of the jury to vote for acquittal. The trial has not yet started.

As you are preparing for the trial you learn that this ring leader of injustice has also been coordinating efforts with the defendant! He is working to keep the trial short by not allowing witnesses on either side. For some strange reason, it is this juror and his colleagues who set the rules for the trial, not the judge. Opening arguments are followed by closing arguments.  Since no evidence is presented, it is hard to say if there is guilt or not. The arguments by the prosecutor have certainly made it seem like the defendant is guilty, but who can tell? No evidence was allowed.

Those lined up to vote for acquittal before the trial did so without paying attention to the charges. The defendant claimed victory and set out on a course of retaliation against those who spoke against him. “This is outrageous!” you might think. “Nothing like this could happen in our country. Such a travesty could not take place.” The problem is this. It did happen.

Violating the Oath

“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you, God?”

Not only were Senators asked to take this oath by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but they were also called up one at a time to sign the document of such oath.  This means that many Republican Senators went to the floor of the Senate and swore before God to do something they had no intention of doing. They lied to the Chief Justice right there in their chamber of Congress. Everyone in the country who was paying attention knows they lied.

No matter what side of the aisle you sit, you can’t deny these Republicans are liars before God. They swore to God that they would be impartial when they had promised for weeks to vote for acquittal and not allow any evidence. If you do not paint these people as liars and hypocrites, what else could you call them? In a normal world, if you violated an oath like this you would find yourself in jail.

Total Coordination

In early December, long before the trial, Senator Mitch McConnell promised in a FOX News interview that there was no chance of removal from office and that he would have “total coordination” with the White House and the President’s lawyers. As he had taken sides before the Articles of Impeachment (aka indictment) were presented, did the Senator then recuse himself? No. Instead, he planned to lie before God and falsely sign a document before the Chief Justice.

Mitch McConnell

Cheating the Country

“If my Republican colleagues refuse to even consider witnesses and documents in the trial, what will the president conclude? We all know: he’ll conclude he can do it again, and congress can do nothing about it. He can try to cheat in his election again, something that eats at the roots of our democracy.”

Senator Chuck Schumer stated this belief in advance of acquittal. If a majority of Senators will protect a lawbreaker, can there be any justice at all? They have announced through their actions that they do not care about their oath and they do not care about justice. Is the president now free to act like a dictator and violate any laws he chooses? The Senate majority has already proven they will protect him.

Retaliation

Following the end of the Senate trial, the president has gone after the whistleblowers in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act already in place. And who is to stop him?

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, fired! Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, not a part of impeachment, fired for being the brother of Alexander Vindman. Ambassador Gordon Sondland also fired.  There will be more to come.

And all the others who didn’t agree with him who went before. This tyrant doesn’t allow disagreement. No discussion, no reasoning.

Where’s the Outrage?

To counterbalance the outrage of many news outlets around the country are the efforts of one prominent news network and other smaller outlets. Some consider this no better than state-run television, spinning a tale much different than what virtually every newspaper and broadcast opinion board and commentators are saying. With the announcement of the intention to lie to the Chief Justice of the United States, U.S. Senators have told you that they and their cult-leader-in-chief can break the law if they feel like it.

The question is, what will you do about it?

Register and Vote.

Need I say more?


Sources: Senators Take Oath For Impeachment Trial,” The Hill, thehill.com, January 16, 2020.
Senate rejects impeachment witnesses, setting up Trump acquittal,” The Hill, thehill.com, January 31, 2020.
McConnell’s vow of ‘total coordination’ with White House on Senate impeachment trial angers Democrats,” The Washington Post, washingtonpost.com, December 13, 2019.
Trump retaliation: After purge, House Democrats need to unleash a tsunami of oversight,” by Kurt Bardella, an opinion columnist, USA Today, usatoday.com, February 10, 2020.

IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR – RICH PASCHALL

She Wants More, More, More, by Rich Paschall


Perhaps that’s the Rebel Yell you hear in the midnight hour when the music picks up and the time to dance is at hand.  I had been wondering what to suggest as my top Midnight songs but the Midnight Memories kicked in and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.  I observed that Midnight’s Another Day and the Top 10 list was revealed.  While you may think of many Midnight songs in The Shadows, I will be your Midnight Cowboy and give you my Top 10.

I go out walkin’ after midnight
Out in the moonlight
Just like we used to do

10. I’m A Midnight Mover, Bobby Womack.  Whether you hear the Womack version or Wilson Pickett’s growl infused version, you will think they are channeling James Brown.  Both recorded the song and it is a rhythm and blues special either way you go.  They have co-writing credit for the hit.

9.  Walkin’ After Midnight, Patsy Cline.  The country classic was originally offered by the writers to pop singer Kay Starr, but her record label rejected it.  Reportedly, Cline was not immediately impressed with the song but ended up with a mega-hit in 1957.

8.  Midnight Blue, Melissa Manchester.  This was the first song on which Manchester collaborated with famed songwriter Carole Bayer Sager. The 1973 composition was pitched to a producer for Dionne Warwick and later Manchester pitched it to Dusty Springfield who turned it down.  In 1975 it was the first single off Manchester’s first album for Arista records.

7.  Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots.  The biggest hit for the band was released in 1968.  Recorded with a large group of studio musicians, reports are that the group did not actually play on the record but only did the vocals.  They did perform it live themselves.  I played in a band for a few years that performed this song regularly.

6.  Midnight Rider, The Allman Brothers.  The song first appeared on the Allman Brothers 1970 album, Idlewild South, and was released as a single in March 1971 without much success.  Composer Gregg Allman released it as a solo effort in 1973 and broke the top 20.  Versions by other artists have also found some success.

5.  Midnight Rambler, The Rolling Stones.  Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song was released in 1969.  Mick provided lead vocals, of course, and harmonica, while Keith Richards recorded all of the various guitars heard on the original recording.  The song continues to appear in Stones’ concert and was recently on the playlist for the historic performance in Havana.  Here they play for just a million and a half people in Rio, the largest concert ever held.

4.  Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur.  Released in February of 1974 the song is certainly the best-known effort by Muldaur.  The soft-rock hit with its sexy lyric was made even more popular by the tease in her unique voice.  I absolutely loved this song at the time, still do.

3.  Midnight Train to Georgia, Gladys Knight, and the Pips.  The song was written and recorded by Jim Weatherly as Midnight Plane to Houston.  It was then passed on to Cissy Houston who recorded it as Midnight Train to Georgia.  Then Weatherly’s publisher passed it on to Gladys Knight and the Pips.  They won a performance Grammy with it.  Here the Pips are really workin’ it!

2.  Midnight Special, Johnny Rivers.  Creedence Clearwater Revival had a hit with the song, but it is hard for me to hear a CCR song and not think about the lead singer, John Fogerty.  Apparently, there is no arena big enough for his ego.  The Johnny Rivers version was used as the intro to the Midnight Special television programs featuring musical performances.  In my time zone, the train came through right on time, and Wolfman Jack was the conductor.  This performance is from Hullabaloo.

Eric Clapton

1. After Midnight, J.J. Cale or Eric Clapton.  Cale wrote the song and recorded it in 1966.  When Clapton covered it in 1970, Cale did not know about it until it was a hit on the radio.  At the time, he was broke and grateful for the song’s success.  He subsequently included it in a 1972 album.  Since they both have great versions out there, the only fair thing to do is show them playing it together, Cale on vocals.

To hear any of these Midnight songs, just click on the song title above.

THE NBA REACH – RICH PASCHALL

Kobe Bean Bryant

There probably is no need to explain to you who Kobe Bryant was. You probably knew before the tragic helicopter accident last Sunday that took his life and that of 8 others, including his 13-year-old daughter. Even if you did not follow the NBA or the Los Angeles Lakers, you likely knew his name. He is the 4th all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

He played 20 seasons with the same team. He was an 18-time all-star and had 5 championship rings. He had two Olympic gold medals. He won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, Dear Basketball, in 2018.  His accomplishments will now be a thing of a great legend. He was only 41 years old.

Kobe Bryant

On Sunday I was on Facebook when I noticed on my newsfeed that my friend in France had posted an article about the death of Kobe Bryant from SPORT24.LEFIGARO.FR. “This can not be true,” I thought. “It must be a hoax or something.”

More notices started popping up. Some were from well known and reputable sources. I finally went to the Los Angeles outlet of one of the major networks and watched for a while. It was clear the anchors at the news desk were unsure what to say. They brought in their sports reporter to say something, anything that made sense. It was hard to speak.

How did my friends in France know this before I did? I was online and even stopped on my news page before hitting social media. Of course, social media was all a-buzz before long. It was the trending story and had quickly traveled around the world. The next day my French buddy wrote to me on Messenger, “I heard Kobe passed away. It’s sad.”

On Sunday night the annual Grammy Awards were held at the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. The pre-show, red carpet events included words of condolence for the Bryant family. The opening honored Kobe and many of the artists mentioned him. LA was shaken by the news that they had lost one of their most famous residents.

My friend from France was a big basketball fan. He worked in Chicago for a year and has a Bulls jersey, of course. His older brother had worked in Los Angeles and was a Lakers fan. In fact, he had been to many games while working in LA. Both friends appreciated the play of Kobe Bryant. Basketball is big in France, as well as many places in the world. Superstars like Bryant are iconic heroes to many people. NBA popularity is almost universal.

On my many visits to France, my friend and I often spent evenings in front of the television watching NBA basketball replays. On the weekends, my friends might stay up late to watch an afternoon game at night their time. It did not bother me that the commentary was in French. I knew the games well enough and if something really interesting was said, my friend would translate. NBA was big and Bryant was bigger, particularly for the younger generations. You were likely to see a lot of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Tony Parker jerseys and t-shirts around town.

The NBA reach extends beyond Europe and in fact, can be seen around the globe. The marketing is fierce and Kobe had long been one of the premier faces of the NBA. I am sure his passing was trending on social media everywhere it is allowed.

In St. Petersburg, Russia I have a young friend. He “likes” two sports teams on Facebook. One is the Los Angeles Lakers. He wrote to me on Skype the next morning his time. It was still Sunday night here. “G** damn, Rich. Kobe is dead. I just can’t believe.” I was still up so I wrote back about how sad it was.  “I wanna cry, I was grown on this man, on his games. I remember how I woke up at 4-5am to watch NBA games.”

That is how it was for many around the world. They would get up early or stay up late to watch Kobe and NBA games live. Some would have to settle for replays, but the games were everywhere. And everyone around the world who was a basketball fan knew Kobe.

All week the talk on ESPN radio and various sports radio and television programs included segments on Kobe and what he meant to the game. Many athletes shared how Kobe had inspired them. Some told of personal interactions with the NBA star. Highlights of his play were often seen. Talking and sharing was a way to move through the tragic news.

This month the NBA All-Star game will come to Chicago and the night will be filled with tributes. It will be hard for some of the players to go on. Later in the year, Bryant will go into the Basketball Hall of Fame posthumously. It will be yet another emotional day.

If you have traveled outside the US and have friends in many countries, you are aware of the reach of the NBA. You know how the players, especially those of great skill, have reached hero status,  for young and older fans alike. This tragic passing of Bryant has brought tears to Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris and Strasbourg, St. Petersburg and many places even farther away from here. Such is the reach of Bryant and the NBA.

FRANKFURT AM MAIN

Our Latest Adventure, by Rich Paschall

Frankfurt, Germany, or Frankfurt am Main (Frank ford at the Main), is the fifth-largest city, but home to the busiest airport in the country.  This is not only because it is home to Lufthansa airline, but also because many other airlines have a major presence there.  Almost 65 million passengers pass through the airport each year, making it the busiest airport in Germany and the fourth busiest in Europe.

There are many direct flights to Frankfurt from major US cities, so finding a flight at a good price and transit time is possible through most of the year.  If you are visiting Germany or a neighboring country, you will want to consider this airport.  Bus and train travel around the region are quick and economical.

Frankfurt

In the past when we have headed to Strasbourg, France, we have used the Frankfurt airport for its proximity to our destination.  Only once did we stay overnight near the airport with a brief stop in the city.  We had considered the city to be just a financial center, which it is, and an industrial center.  This time we stayed longer to explore the city.

I chose an airport hotel because we could easily take the shuttle back to the airport where you can catch the train into the city.  Looking back on this choice, however, you can pick a spot in the city for the very same reason.  Transportation by train to the airport is simple because of the major train station right across from the airline terminals.   If we would do it again, I would try to stay near Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof station.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof

The main station in the city is a mix of old-world charm and modern efficiency.  Upgrades to the rail system in recent years have upset the reputation of the German railroads always being on time, or “you can set your watch by them,” but they are still reliable and we encountered no delays.

You can stop at McDonald’s in the train station if you like, but we did not come all the way to Germany to eat in an American fast-food restaurant.  Our motto for travel has been “eat local, drink local” so of course, that is what we did.

Eat local, drink local

My travel companion on this trip, who is always hungry, needed a food stop when we arrived in the city. We chose a restaurant right alongside the station for convenience.  We ordered the Wiener Schnitzel.  My friend is from Colombia so he has never eaten food like this.  He found it goes well with the local beverage.

Fortunately, the old-world train station survives and is a good spot for pictures before you head off on your exploration of the city.  Plenty of tourists were busy taking pictures of the station and surrounding areas.  I took a picture of my friend getting a picture of himself.  “Selfies” are popular at all the tourist stops.

Selfie

Frankfurt is a unique blend of old and new.  I suppose that World War II is partly a reason for that.  Some areas of the city were heavily damaged. Some things were restored, other areas were rebuilt. This allowed for modernization and planning that would improve the quality of life for residents and eventually tourists.

There are many good shopping districts and we made our way to one of them to see what bargains we could find. The outdoor malls our popular and we picked up some items I probably did not need.

Shopping (or selfie-taking)

We also stopped by the Alte Oper (Old opera) to see the lovely old building.  It was heavily damaged in the war and carefully rebuilt through the 1970s.  It opened again in 1981 as a concert hall.  The opera was already in a new building nearby.

The large plaza in front and alongside is a nice stop for locals and tourists.  We took the necessary pictures before stopping inside.

I joined a few “friends” for an opera house picture.

Following our walk around the Opernplatz, my hungry friend needed food so we made our way to the cafe inside the opera house.  It was ornate as expected.  Aside from the modern elevator in the building, it was hard to determine which parts were damaged and restored and which parts of the building were original.

Opera cafe

Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne are all larger and may hold more appeal for various reasons, but Frankfurt has a charm all its own.  With the Main River running through it and a large city forest, it is a beautiful tourist stop.  If your flight takes you to Frankfurt, it would be wise to spend a night or two to see the culture and entertainment offered here.

A blend of old and new

For more pictures from our Frankfurt Adventure, jump over to Sunday Night Blog, here.