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PCR #298. (Vol. 6, No. 49) This edition is for the week of December 5--11, 2005.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang. Musical memories, both happy and sad, and I'm joined by a friend across the pond in remembering THE voice of a generation. Plus, yes, that IS me as a teenager. Shall we begin?

Reflections on a Florida Vacation (and Other Assorted Items)
 by Will Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
 by Mark Terry
Blade....Frasier's Mutant Side....Passing On....Imagine....Eddie's Piece....Jaws: The Story, Part 46
 by Mike Smith
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Congrats to the members of BLADE on the 22nd Anniversary of their live debut. An off-shoot of the HATS, the boys from Tampa played many a rousing show. Funny Nolan mentioned the Rocky Horror tribute song. While going through old 45 rpm records for my John Lennon piece I came across one of the recordings of that local hit. Since I lived 1000 miles away, I never got to play with the boys, though we did jam together once when I was home on vacation. Ah, memories. Happy Anniversary Nolan, Matt, Corey, Scott and John. My "hats" off to you guys.

Kelsey Grammer will appear as the Beast in "X-Men 3." Not sure if this was announced before but it's the first time I had heard of it. Thought I'd pass it on.

A virtual cornucopia of people shuffling off this mortal coil, including:
Wendie Jo Sperber, probably best remembered for her work on "Bosom Buddies," died at the age of 46 after an 8 year battle with breast cancer. She was almost always a bright light in every project she appeared in, most of them directed by Robert Zemeckis. Among her films: "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "1941," "Used Cars" and the "Back to the Future" series.
Herbert L. Strock, television producer and director of such films as "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein," "How to Make a Monster" and "The Crawling Hand" died last week. He was 87. Among his television projects: "Highway Patrol," "Sky King," "Sea Hunt," "Maverick" and "77 Sunset Strip."
Edward Masry, the personal injury attorney portrayed by Albert Finney in "Erin Brokovich," died Monday at the age of 73. Finney received an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Gregg Hoffman, film producer who took an eight-minute film and developed it into the horror hit, "Saw," died /Sunday at the age of 42. Hoffman also produced the recently released "Saw II"
Jack Colvin, who played tabloid reporter Jack McGee in the television series "The Incredible Hulk," also passed away last week. He was 71.

Readers, this Thursday, December 8, marks the 25th Anniversary of the death of John Lennon. In preparation for this piece, I asked my friend Eddie McCormack to share some of his thoughts on John Lennon. Eddie grew up and still lives in Liverpool, England. His piece is included in this week's Rant.

There are many events in the history of our country that, if you bring them up, people can tell you where they were when it happened. For my parent's generation, those events include the assassination of President Kennedy and the first moon landing. I would think that for my son's generation, it will be the tragedy of 9/11. For me, I can clearly remember every detail of what I was doing when President Reagan was shot. Same with the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. And of course, for myself and many more of my generation, I will always remember December 8, 1980. It began as every other Monday that I can remember. I was in the Army, stationed at Fort Leavenworth. After lunch that day I went to the mall and visited Musicland. I was there to pick up the new Cheap Trick EP "Found All the Parts." I also picked up "Double Fantasy," the new album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I had heard the first single, "(Just Like) Starting Over," and really liked it. After work I went to the gym, ate dinner and then went up to my room to listen to my new records. As the EP was only four songs (five if you count the bonus 45 "Everything Works If You Let It"), I played that first. Thinking back, I wonder if the fates were telling me something as the last song was "Day Tripper." I then played side one of "Double Fantasy." Lennon was in fine form. Besides "(Just Like) Starting Over," side one included "Clean Up Time," "I'm Losing You" and a very moving song sung to his young son, Sean, "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" Yoko had three songs on side one as well and, though I was never a big fan of her music, they weren't bad. When the album ended I turned on Monday Night Football to watch the game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. It was right before halftime when Howard Cosell read a tentative news bulletin stating that John Lennon had been shot. Minutes later he confirmed the news, announcing in a choked voice that Lennon was dead. I was shocked. I thought back to the music I had just listened to, especially the last song. I turned off the TV and played "Beautiful Boy" over and over. Before I knew it, I realized that I was crying. I didn't know why. Sure, I was a fan of the Beatles, but Lennon had been away from music for five years and I hadn't even noticed. I put on side 2 and fell asleep. The next morning I remember I called Nolan at the Book Nook. "I buried John" I said into the phone, mimicking the supposed "I buried Paul" message at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever." (According to Lennon, what he said was "Cranberry Sauce.") I remember Nolan was very upset. Not just sad, like I was, but like a friend had died. In looking back, I realize that is exactly what had happened. Nolan five years older then I am and is an accomplished musician. While I was out buying my very first record, "Hello/Goodbye," Nolan was playing it on his guitar. It wasn't until many years later, when I really started listening to Lennon's music, that I realized a great man had been taken from us. I've read much about Lennon's last day on Earth. Breakfast with Sean, a photo session for "Rolling Stone," then off to the studio for some interviews and work on Yoko's song, "Walking On Thin Ice." John was told that "Double Fantasy" went gold that day and I've always wondered if I was the one that pushed it over the top. After dinner and some more studio work, the Lennon's went back to their apartment in the Dakota. It was there that Lennon was shot five times in the back.

In the 25 years since his death, I have grown to appreciate John Lennon's work. Not just the Beatles stuff but his solo material as well. It makes me angry when I see people identified as the "next" John Lennon. When Kurt Cobain died, he was called the "John Lennon of his generation." WHAT? Cobain wrote some nice songs, but I've yet to meet anyone not from Seattle that felt Nirvana was speaking for them. Sadly there will never be another John Lennon, and for that the world is a lesser place.

Remembering John Lennon

by Eddie McCormack

John Winston Lennon

1940 - 1980


My hometown of Liverpool saw the birth of what many consider to be the finest songsmiths of our time, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey, collectively and commonly know as THE BEATLES.

My family's passing connections with this band was not on a professional basis when the band became huge, it was more centered around where and when they all were growing up together here in Liverpool in the UK.

My late father Terence McCormack was born in Quarry Street, Woolton in Liverpool, He and his school pals used to lark about with George Harrison's pedal bike. George had a delivery job in Woolton Village and it's here where The Beatles forged. The church next to where the band played their first concert (St Peter's) is St Mary's church. This church is where my parents got married and is now the resting place of my late father. The grave here overlooks the old sandstone quarry which inspired the lads to initially name their band THE QUARRYMEN.

My mother's encounter with John Lennon was somewhat surreal…

The school children of Woolton Village and neighbouring Hunts Cross often congregated to chat as school children do, but one fateful day the future Mrs McCormack was with a group of her friends when a boy walked over to the group. He singled mum out and slapped her in the face (not as hostile as Mrs Kintner's slap on Chief Brody in JAWS) the reason for this slap was never explained or understood it all happened so quickly, Mistaken identity? Who knows? But there can't be many people who can say they were slapped by Mr John “Give Peace A Chance” Lennon!

Mum is not a great fan of The Beatles.

My late Uncle John (McCormack) was a keen guitarist himself and was a pal of George Harrison, John met his future wife during this lively period and they stayed together until the age he said he would die (aged 50), I often wonder that if John would have pushed and pursued his musical interests more could he himself have been involved more or even become one of The Beatles. It's nice to consider but it's something we'll never know.

Last year I was lucky enough to meet the first Beatles drummer, Pete Best, at his end of tour party at the Casbah Club here in Liverpool where the band used to gather. Pete is a quiet gentleman who is generous with his time and still enjoys a pint in the local bars here.

During my trip to America this June I passed the Dakota Building near Central Park It was sad to think this is where John Winston Lennon met his untimely end 25 years ago. Ironically John and Yoko had recently released their new album "Double Fantasy", the album was a tremendous return to form and a mouthwatering taste of what sadly never followed, On Dec 8th 1980 John was coldly gunned down outside the building he and Yoko had resided in since April 1973.

I'm not an obsessive Beatles fan, I do own copies of all of their albums, each one a snapshot of where the band was journeying throughout the '60's. The albums are a magical mystery tour of their own, the start of the trip takes in those perfect 2-and-a-half minute pop songs and crowd pleasers, further out onto the open road are the more luxurious arrangements miles away from the milk bars of Liverpool, and towards the journeys end emerged the darker and more experimental studio bound experiments and jams.

Innovative, diverse yet strangely consistent was their output. I can't help but think John would have eventually eased up on his songwriting, not giving up completely but perhaps spending more time in the producer's chair. Sadly it's something we'll never know and although there will never be a new Beatles track written again, the music that John along with Paul, George and Ringo gave to the world will always be around to inspire each successive generation of music lovers.

Readers I wanted to add something here. I found it funny that Lennon slapped Eddie's mother. In her just released book Cynthia Lennon recounts a similar experience with John in school. Maybe that was his way of saying "I like you."

Instead of a few lines this week, I thought I'd share some photos from the past. Yes, the photo at left is what I looked like at 17. That poster cost me $15.00 and I'm happy to say I still have it. The next group of photos are some snapshots I found of Richard Dreyfuss relaxing in September 1975. They were sent to me by Richard's cousin, Arlene, who can be seen in one of the photos. If I remember correctly, Arlene told me that Richard is studying Spielberg's first draft of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. And remember: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE! See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.