A “twerk-off” dance contest preceded a woman jumping from an EDM party cruise-shipcruise ship during the 2022 Mad Descent Boat Party late Thursday off the coast of Cuba.

Speaking exclusively with NBC 6, Graham Hansen, who knows the woman, says he spoke with a mutual friend of theirs who was also on board that cruise.

“She and some other girl who was calling herself the Twerk Queen were having a twerk-off, ” Hansen told NBC 6 via phone. “Twerk Queen started twerking on her (the missing woman’s) boyfriend, and it caused some sort of issue between the two of them.”

The woman reportedly jumped from the ship not long after the dance contest escalated. Hansen says their mutual friend on board the ship is “completely and totally mortified.”

Listen, if anything can make you want to kill your yourself it’s losing a twerk-off, amirite? Hey, losing a loved one or finding out you have an incurable disease is one thing, but getting beaten by the Twerk Queen would be enough to send anybody over the edge. Or ledge in this case. I hate myself right now.

And is it me or is the cruise name “Mad Descent” incredibly fitting here? And yes, I’d say “completely and totally mortified” is a fitting reaction. “Somewhat and just a tad mortified” just wouldn’t have seemed right, ya know?

Anyway, lesson learned. Don’t challenge the Twerk Queen, man. Bad things will happen.

The album “Let It Be” by The Beatles was supposed to be a trip back to their roots – pared down, simple, no orchestration or strings, no overdubs, and no overwhelming production. They wanted the album to have an almost “live” feel. This from a band that had recorded albums like “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in which the studio work and production were groundbreaking in their complexity. Bottom line, The Beatles wanted to get back to their roots.

Here’s the album track list:

Side 1

  1. Two of Us
  2. Dig a Pony
  3. Across the Universe
  4. I Me Mine
  5. Dig It
  6. Let It Be
  7. Maggie May

Side 2

  1. I’ve Got a Feeling
  2. One After 909
  3. The Long and Winding Road
  4. For You Blue
  5. Get Back

The songs range from the silly (“Dig It”, “Dig a Pony” and Maggie May”) to the rockin’ (“Get Back”) to the almost country sounding (“One After 909”) to the beautifully legendary (“Let It Be”, “Across the Universe” and “The Long and Winding Road”). It was a truly a wonderful album in spite of the cracks that were beginning to show, fissures that would eventually tear the group apart.

Quick note – although “Let It Be” was the last album released by The Beatles, it was actually recorded before Abbey Road.

As I mentioned before, during the recording of “Let It Be” the relationships between all four Beatles was strained severely, almost to its breaking point. It was so strained, in fact, that the guys became so tired of the in-fighting they allowed manager Allen Klein (who Paul hated but John liked) to take over the finishing touches on the album. Klein ended up handing the project over to legendary “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, who proceeded to completely defeat the original purpose of the album by adding orchestras and female background singers (which The Beatles had never used before) to songs like “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be.” Paul McCartney has stated publicly many times that when he first heard the final product he was aghast at the results.

Years later, in 2003, the album was re-released by McCartney as “Let It Be . . . Naked” in an attempt to rectify the mistake and let the public listen to the album as it was originally intended. The result was a beautiful album of simple songs in which the voices and musicianship stand magnificently on their own.

Here’s a comparison of the original release of “The Long and Winding Road” with strings and background vocals, followed by the originally intended pared down, simple version:

Long and Winding Road (with added vocals and orchestration)

Long and Winding Road (original “naked” version)

Big difference. Sure, the first version is beautiful, but I much prefer the second one, especially since Paul wanted it to be heard that way originally. Again, all the added fluff went against the spirit of the album, which was to “get back” to the roots of The Beatles.

Let It Be Factoids:

  • Piano legend Billy Preston played keyboard on the album.
  • During the recording sessions, tensions between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, grew so heated that Harrison left the studio.
  • Although recorded in 1969 and released on “Let it Be” a year later, the song “One After 909” was one of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s first collaborations, dating back to 1959.
  • In the United States, advance orders for the album were the largest in the industry up to that point – over 3.7 million units.
  • Legend has it that when McCartney sang “Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged” he was looking directly at Yoko Ono, who was in studio during the recording. UPDATE: This is not true. As seen in the recent Peter Jackson documentary “Get Back” The Beatles all seemed to get along quite well.

You’ve all heard about it. Well, those of you over 40-years of age anyway. You know, how if you play Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon simultaneously with a muted Wizard of Oz you get a mind-blowing experience? That it’s called Dark Side of the Rainbow? Well, it’s a long story but I ended up playing it for a high school class the other day and I’m 90% sure I confused the living hell out of 98% of them. I say 98% because there were 1 or 2 that sat there wide-eyed, nodding approvingly. At one point a kid asked me how in the world anyone ever discovered this phenomenon and I responded thusly:

“Well Jonah, I figure one day back in the mid-70’s some guy was sitting in his apartment stoned out of his gourd. He must have been listening to Dark Side of the Moon and watching The Wizard of Oz with the sound off. Then, at 20-minutes in, his roommates heard this: ‘Dude. DUDE! You guys have to come and see this!'”

And so it was born. Do I actually believe Pink Floyd wrote Dark Side of the Moon specifically to play alongside The Wizard of Oz? I do not. Do I believe it’s hauntingly mesmerizing to do so? I do. For those uninitiated, here ya go . . .

Note: Give it a couple minutes. It takes a bit for the movie to start.

Good dog, Happy. Good dog.

happy

God I love this. Jesus had to travel at night because he didn’t have shoes and the sand was too hot, but these two multimillionaire preachers* are justifying their private jets by saying the Lord told them they need one. That’s classic TV preacher right there.

*I looked it up. The guy on the left, Kenneth Copeland, has a net worth of $800-million. Jesse Duplantis, the guy on the right, is a little more secretive regarding his wealth but a photo of his house is below. 

Here’s a photo of Copeland’s house.

copeland1

And here’s the house of DuPlantis when it was under construction.

jesse

So anyway, congrats to all the folks who donate to these men. After all, I’m sure it’s important to them that they have this lifestyle. You know, because God told them to have it. Hallelujah!

hypocrisy

Dumb. Also infuriating.

[click to watch on YouTube]

dumb


One of my former students recently asked me how many concerts I had seen in my lifetime, and I told them I had no idea but it had to be over a hundred. I LOVE live music and always have, and I’ve been going to shows for approximately 45-years. Anyway, because I was asked I have attempted to recall all the shows I’ve seen, and believe me when I say there is no way I’ll remember them all. Because of this you can bet this blog will be updated often as the memories come flooding back or somebody reminds me of something I forgot. With all this in mind, let me begin. I’ll list the concerts along with notes on some of them, and they will be in somewhat of a chronological order but not really. An asterisk indicates a Rock Hall of Fame inductee, and I believe I’ve seen 25 bands/artists that have earned that honor. That said, I’ve also seen some shows that might surprise you. Let us begin . . .

Redbone

1974, Kings Island Senior Night. They were Native Americans, they wore full Native American regalia, and their big hit was “Come and Get Your Love.” I was front row and I was forever turned on to live music. Who could not be after seeing this?

Note: I have no idea if that’s politically correct or not, I just know it’s a great song.

Brownsville Station

These cool cats sang the original “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and followed Redbone. I’ll never forget singer Cub Coda’s roaring vocals and drummer Henry “H-Bomb” Weck destroying the skins. Epic.

Seals & Crofts

Thanks to my Uncle Myrl we always had great seats at the Ohio State Fair. Hence the front row seats for the band that gave us “Summer Breeze” and “Diamond Girl.” It was a very good show.

The Stylistics

Believe it or not I saw this legendary R&B group at the Ross County Fairgrounds. Who booked them there I do not know, but it was the early to mid-70s so they were in their heyday.

Aerosmith*

Ah, the famous (well, at least to me) Aerosmith concert. You know, the one where I drank Stroh’s beer with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler? That one? Yeah, I used to have a cool photo of me sitting between those rock Gods on a backstage couch, smiling broadly, luxurious locks cascading down our backs. Sorry, I got lost in the mists of time there for a second. Anyway, here’s the link: Steven, Joe and Me: Meeting Aerosmith. Read it. I would but it would make me cry again.

Note: I looked it up. It was March 24th, 1978 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Columbus.

Allman Brothers Band*

I saw these guys at an outdoor venue somewhere over near Zanesville. I don’t think it was Legend Valley, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they were as good as you might expect Southern Rock legends to be.

The Beach Boys* (6)

I’ve seen The Boys six times at various venues, including the big return of Brian Wilson sometime around 1977. They’re always a good show. Oh, and remember the time Mike Love tried to steal my girlfriend? If not, here’s the story: In the late 70’s I went to see them, again at Riverfront Coliseum in The Natti. We were once again right down front. From the get-go Mike Love was paying special attention to my date, at one point getting down on one knee and singing a song right up in her grillmix. I don’t remember the song, probably because I was too busy watching the security dude and figuring my odds of getting a shot at Love’s nose. Eventually Love actually sent a guy down to ask if she was interested. She said no and he never came close to us the rest of the show. Bizarre experience.

Chicago* (4)

Yep. This guy.

Chicago was always a good show, especially when they rocked and before they started with all the sappy ballads in the early 80s. The most memorable show was when Peter Cetera nearly stole my date. Yep, it happened again, and this show and The Beach Boys show were only a couple weeks apart. I guess I should look at the bright side and assume I had good taste in women? Anyway, here’s a link to the whole sordid affair: How Peter Cetera Once Ruined a Relationship. Mine. I saw Chicago again on 7.23.22. They only had two original members, Pankow, Loughnane and Lamb (who wasn’t there that night) but I still enjoyed them immensely.

Warren Zevon

I saw the legend back in early ’79 when I was living on West 8th Avenue, just south of The Ohio State University campus. I distinctly recall sitting at a table in the since demolished Serene Lounge, a misnamed establishment if there ever was one. As I sat there enjoying Happy Hour, a buddy came rushing in and said he had tickets to a show up the street at The Agora, which is now The Newport. Of course I asked who was playing, and he told me Warren Zevon. Being the sophisticated music aficionado that I was, I immediately jumped at the chance. O.K., truth be told I’d never heard of Warren Zevon. Seems I’d missed the whole “Werewolves of London” hoopla from a few months prior. Go figure. Long story short, I went, was blown away and became a huge fan.

Note. It’s odd but one clear memory I have of that night was Zevon mentioning that his dad was named Stumpy. That’s a cool dad name, don’t you think? Anyway, one of my big regrets (among many) is the fact that I never saw Warren Zevon live again.

Steely Dan

I think I saw these guys at St. John Arena, but I’ll be damned if I can remember exactly. Anyway, it was the late 70s, a period my loving father used to refer to as “my hazy period.”

The New York Dolls

Believe it or not I actually saw these punk legends at the Fairgrounds Coliseum where they opened for The Babys and, wait for it . . . REO Speedwagon. To say I’d never seen anything like them (spiked collars, high heels, multi-colored hair, hot pants) is an understatement. I’m pretty sure I stood there, mouth agape, during their entire show.

Steppenwolf

These rock legends actually performed at Sam’s Place, a big barn-type venue south on Chillicothe on Route 23. I believe the building is still there. Anyway, they rocked out “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride” right here in good ol’ Ross County USA.

The Babys

The Babys followed the New York Dolls, and although “Isn’t It Time” and “Every Time I Think of You” are great songs, following the Dolls was a tough gig ( not to mention everyone was there to see REO).

REO Speedwagon

I feel like I’ve seen REO more than once, but perhaps not. Anyway, it was a rockin’ show. I remember they closed with “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”

Jeff Lynne

Electric Light Orchestra* (13)

Yep, I’ve seen ELO 13-times at least, and every single show was a joy, a revelation and an absolute rock spectacle. Hey, who doesn’t like lasers, giant spaceships and giant butterflies and moths fluttering above the audience? I know I do. Seriously, Jeff Lynne is a musical genius and a rock legend, and I shall see him again in less than a month. However, the most memorable ELO show was the night I found myself in the middle of a Jeff Lynne/ELO scenario of which I wanted no part of. To fully understand, read this: Pimping for the Electric Light Orchestra. UPDATE: Caught ELO again on 7/30 at Nationwide in Columbus. Once again it was an outstanding show.

Roxy Music

I saw Roxy Music open for ELO at Veterans Memorial in 1975, and Bryan Ferry did not disappoint, singing “Love Is The Drug” and others in all his Glam Rock glory.

Gentle Giant

Saw this Prog Rock band open for ELO in The Natti, circa 1977.

Steve Hillage

Hillage was a guitarist of note back in the 70s.

Rick Derringer (3)

I first saw Derringer on the “Frampton Comes Alive” tour at the Tangerine Bowl in Florida. There were several bands before Frampton, and one of them was Kansas. They came out and it was clear from the get-go they were tanked. Just smashed, drunk and/or high as hell. Midway through song two or three they just turned and walked off the stage. The crowd basically rioted until something pretty cool happened. Rick Derringer, who had played a short set earlier, returned to the stage and started playing. Slowly the crowd got into it and eventually he was actually playing requests. That’s a true pro right there, and he saved everyone from a potentially nasty situation. When Frampton finally came out he thanked Derringer profusely and even called him back out for an encore. I’ll always have fond memories of Rick Derringer because of that day.

Led Zeppelin*

Led Zeppelin

At some point a bit before The Who tragedy at Riverfront Coliseum (again, my dates are a little fuzzy) I saw Led Zeppelin there. The whole festival seating/general admission thing was in place, and it was pretty ugly. We got there real early to get in line. The coliseum’s policy at the time was to open just 4-doors at around 6:30 PM (again, hazy) for the 8:00 show. We were right up front, and a little after 5:00 PM things began to get ugly. Remember, 4-doors for 12,000+ people. Idiocy. People in the back began pressing forward and those of us in front were getting crushed against the doors. Guys were begging the security inside to open up, but they weren’t listening. A police chopper suddenly appeared and began hovering about 30-feet up, and a guy with a bullhorn was telling people to back up. Nobody was having it, and at one point I remember a beer bottle being thrown at the chopper and shattering off its side. By this time I was seriously in fear of not making it out of there. My arms were pressed against my sides so tightly that I couldn’t raise them. Occasionally my feet would rise off the ground and I’d have to completely go wherever the crowd took me. Scary stuff for sure. The worst part was when the crowd would start to lean and you feared getting crushed. It was hard to breathe and several people passed out but obviously didn’t fall down. Surreal as hell. Finally, an ignorant security guard did a dumb but ultimately good thing – he cracked a door open, ostensibly to tell somebody when the gates would open. At that point the door was ripped open and the crowd poured in. Glass was flying everywhere, and as I was being pushed through a guard reached out and ripped a flask from my neck, nearly slashing my throat. No tickets were taken and chaos ensued. After I got away from the rushing crowd, I sought out a cop and yelled, “If these people don’t start opening more doors somebody’s going to get killed here!” A prophetic statement, unfortunately. When the news came down months later that 11-people were killed at The Who show, I wasn’t surprised. I knew exactly what had taken place. Oh, and by the way, I scored a front row spot. Hey, it was Zep.

The Eagles* (3)

I first saw The Eagles during their Hotel California Tour, and I remember the big album cover backdrop. Joe Walsh had just joined the group and he was on fire. Great show. As a bonus, no band member tried to pick up my girlfriend.

Todd Rundgren (5)

I’ve seen the greatest rocker never to be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame four times, and every single time he has been amazing. Just a multi-talented musician and performer. Most recently I saw him at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati and then as a member of the Beatles 50th Anniversary White Album Tour and he was amazing as always.

Elton John*

I was lucky enough to see Elton at the peak of his powers, during the legendary Yellow Brick Road Tour. I can’t recall who opened for him but I do remember Kiki Dee coming on stage for the song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. I also remember that we had seats w-a-y at the back of the arena, near the top. At one point Elton stopped to thank his writing partner Bernie Taupin and pointed him out in the crowd. They shone a spotlight on him, and he was sitting right behind me. I asked him why he was sitting in the cheap seats and he said he liked to hear what the acoustics were like from up there. Cool.

Marshall Tucker Band

No clue where this concert took place. Kentucky perhaps. Rupp Arena? I’ve no clue but it was during the “Heard It In A Love Song/Can’t You See” era. What can I say? I fell into the Urban Cowboy country rock phase for a minute.

Cheap Trick*

This one was at St. John Arena in Columbus and I recall that it was on the same Monday night that Marquette won the NCAA Basketball Title. 1977 perhaps? Let me check. Hold on . . . . . . . yep, March 28th, 1977. 67-59 over Dean Smith and North Carolina. Al McGuire’s last game. Anyway, at one point some kid from Zane Trace threw his ZT hat on stage and Rick Neilson put it on and wore it for the rest of the show. Wild night. Can’t remember who opened.

Rush*

Went with a buddy who was a huge Rush guy, I believe it was in Dayton at Hara Arena. On a related note, Rush people are an interesting group.

Edgar Winter Group

“Frankenstein” baby! EWG rocks, man. Saw them at an outdoor show somewhere in Columbus. It was in a big parking lot and was sponsored by QFM-96. I think.

Joe Walsh

I saw Joe just before he joined The Eagles, just after he released his “But Seriously, Folks . . .” album. Dude was really good with the crowd, and of course his guitar playing was amazing.

Kansas

I told you about Kansas when I talked about Rick Derringer earlier. They sucked.

Peter Frampton (3)

Peter Frampton

I was a big Frampton fan back in the day, and myself and 3 friends followed him on his “Frampton Comes Alive” Tour. We saw him in Tampa, Louisville and back in Ohio. He was touring with the aforementioned Kansas, Rick Derringer and the J Geils Band. Trust me, Peter Frampton put on one hell of a show.

John Sebastian*

John Sebastian was the frontman for the Lovin’ Spoonful before embarking on a solo career. He didn’t have much success until he penned the theme song for the TV show “Welcome Back Kotter”. Anyway, I saw him as the opening act for, wait for it . . . Steve Martin. The show was at Mershon Auditorium in, I believe, the Spring of ’77 or ’78.

J Geils Band (2)

Saw these guys during the Frampton tour, and one thing sticks out in my mind. Their Louisville show was the last show of the tour and lead singer Peter Wolf busted out the champagne. As usual we’d worked our way down to the front row, and Wolf poured a good portion of the bottle right over my head before I tilted my head back and drank the rest. Good times indeed.

John Waite

Waite was the lead singer of The Babys before starting a solo career. I saw him at a small venue in Columbus (The Newport?) and he was really good. Remember “Missing You”?

Wild Cherry

Yep, I saw these guys sing “Play That Funky Music” in a small bar on High Street in Columbus j-u-s-t before they hit it big.

Barry Manilow

I told you some of the artists would surprise you. I went with my sister and her husband Jigger, and it was a really good show. Vets Memorial I believe.

Doobie Brothers

Thankfully I saw The Doobies before Michael McDonald arrived to wreck their sound with his so-called “blue-eyed soul”. Newsflash: It was not. I preferred the pre-McDonald days of “China Grove”, “Long Train Runnin'” and “Blackwater”. It was a fantastic show that I saw somewhere in Cleveland.

James Taylor* (5)

Ah, the original JT. I’ve seen him at least 5-times, the most memorable being the night I stole his jacket. From my original blog: I went to see him at Blossom Music Center back in ’78 with my friends Tom and Chris. After the show we ambled down to the side of the stage, just getting a look at the setup really. The roadies were tearing down the set, wandering around doing this and that. At some point I looked up and said, “Hey, look. He left his jacket hanging on the mike stand.” He’d worn it onstage and had taken it off during the show. Anyway, one of us (probably Tom) gets the bright idea to try to grab it. Nice plan but the place was crawling with security and roadies. I turn to Chris for ideas, turn back around, and Tom had already jumped the railing and was halfway across the stage. He was just casually walking like he belonged there. A couple of guys glanced at him but didn’t say a word, either because he looked like he belonged or because he was 6′-3″, 280-lbs and looked like he could rip your heart out and show it to you before you died (which by the way he could have but that’s another story). He casually grabs the jacket, throws it over his shoulder, and hops off the other side of the stage as Chris and I run frantically around to meet him. We walk away without looking back, expecting at any moment to hear, “Stop them! Thieves! They have James Taylor’s jacket! For God’s sake stop the bastards!” Except it doesn’t happen, and we make it to the car. At that point Tom tries it on. Obviously too small. Chris grabs it. Too big. Heh-heh. Fit me perfectly. Apparently, in ’78, James Taylor and I were exactly the same size. Anyway, that’s how I came to own James Taylor’s jacket. By the way, later I woke up wide-eyed in the middle of the night, realizing I hadn’t checked the pockets. The possibilities were mind-boggling. Carly Simon’s phone number possibly? Alas, nothing. Damn . . .

Charlie Daniels Band

Again, this was during my country rock phase, which lasted about, oh, a minute and a half. Charlie was cool back then though, although I felt that way partly because I wasn’t aware of the right-wing conservative assclownery he’s exhibited the last 20-years or so.

Blue Oyster Cult

Dayton, Ohio, in Hara Arena. At the end of the concert the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd. I got my hand on one but it slipped through my fingers, damn it.

Yes*

I was never a big Yes fan, but I attended this show with a friend. As I recall I wasn’t that impressed.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

See Yes above.

Grand Funk Railroad

I watched Mark Farner, Don Brewer and the boys at St. John Arena in Columbus and they were great. I distinctly recall them blowing the roof off the joint with “We’re An American Band”. I think Farner found Jesus shortly after this tour.

Amy Grant

Another shocker, amirite? Yep, I saw Amy at the Ohio State Fair and once again we were right up front. My girlfriend at the time loved her, hence my presence at the show.

Hall & Oates*

Talk about a great opening act. I saw these guys open for ELO in Cleveland at Richfield Coliseum. Of course, they were incredible.

Pat Benatar*

Yep. Big Pat Benatar fan, man. Saw her in Riverfront Coliseum back around ’82 ish. I remember being impressed with her lead guitarist and future husband Neil Geraldo too. Dude could shred.

Alabama

Another Ohio State Fair show where I couldn’t turn down the tickets. Hey, it was the early 80s and the band was pretty damn big.

Barbara Mandrell

Same as the Alabama show with one big difference – Barbara Mandrell was smokin’ hot at the time.

Kenny Rogers

You’ll have to give me a break on this one. My mother was a big Kenny Rogers fan and I took her as a surprise for her birthday. She loved it. I’m such a good son.

The Alarm

The Alarm

This show was actually a surprise for me pulled off by my ex-wife Twana, and it was spectacular. I loved The Alarm (still do) and their show at Riverbend in Cincy was great. However, they were just the opening act for the big surprise, which was . . . drumroll please . . .

Bob Dylan*

It was 1988 and like I said, this was a surprise gift for me. Dylan was amazing as you might expect, putting on an unforgettable show.

Pink Floyd*

In June of 1975 I traveled to Pittsburgh to see Pink Floyd at Three Rivers Stadium, and they were insanely good. Obviously this was when Roger Waters was still with them, contrary to the American tour 20-years later when they were without him and I refused to attend. To me, the best part of Floyd was Roger Waters. Anywho, great show with flyin’ pigs and whatnot.

Meat Loaf

I saw Meat at a small venue near Lancaster in the mid-80s. This was after his success with Bat Out of Hell in the late 70s and before his big comeback in ’93, and he was in the middle of his well publicized emotional issues. At one point during the show he stopped mid-song and helicoptered his mic stand into the crowd, nearly decapitating myself and several others. It was like “Meat Loaf! YEAH! Woohoo! Wait . . . look out!” Fortunately he got it together and finished, but I remember his voice was freakin’ shot. Let’s just say Meat did not bring his A game that night.

Paul McCartney* (10)

Yes, I have seen Sir Paul many times at many venues in cities ranging from Cincinnati to Indianapolis to Cleveland to Chicago. Perhaps my favorite show was the one in Columbus where a bunch of us went all out rented a suite. Our seats were right over the stage. Also, one year in Cincy I was in the front 8-10 rows which was incredible. With McCartney every song is legendary, plus there’s always that awareness that you’re watching a freakin’ Beatle. I recently saw Paul at Winston-Salem, NC on 5/21/22 and he was fantastic. He put on a 3-hour show with no breaks at nearly 80-years of age. Amazing.

Dan Fogelberg (4)

Fogelberg was always great live, and I saw him at Blossom in Cleveland, The Palace in Columbus and a couple other places.

Indigo Girls

I’d never heard of the Indigo Girls when  first saw them open for R.E.M. at Riverfront Coliseum, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out they were going to be big.

R.E.M.* (15)

I’ve seen R.E.M. more than any other band, first on May 5th, 1985 at a gym in Springfield, Ohio in front of maybe 100-people, and the last time at Blossom in Cleveland in ’04 along with 20,000 other fans. It was pretty cool watching them grow from a small, relatively unknown band to a worldwide sensation. R.E.M. trails only The Beatles on my favorite bands list.

The Minutemen

I saw these alt legends open for R.E.M. at Vets Memorial a couple weeks before lead singer D. Boon was killed in an auto accident. Memorable concert for sure.

The O’Jays*

Ok, technically I never bought a ticket to watch these guys. However, I did hear them sing along with me on an airplane. Not kidding. Here’s the story: It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre. We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays! What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind, I started singing one of their big hits, “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I was pretty sure I’d never have this chance again. Long story short, in a couple minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the audience. I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my mind, don’t tell me they didn’t), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and the O’Jays went on their way. And you know what? To this day I can’t hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face.

Fetchin Bones

The Bones opened for REM at Bogart’s and they were great. One reviewer described them as such: “a band that must be seen live for a full grasp of their eclectic frenzy.” Couldn’t have said it better.

The dB’s

These guys opened for REM in Dayton, at either Hara or UD Arena (I can’t remember which). The band was led by Pete Holsapple, who later sat in on many an REM gig.

The Neats

The Neats opened for REM at that show in Springfield, Ohio.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

I saw TTWS at The Newport sometime in the mid-90s. Can’t remember much about the show other than the fact that lead singer Todd Phillips didn’t wear any shoes.

Matthew Sweet

Ah, another great Newport show. I’ve loved Matthew Sweet since 1991 and he did not disappoint.

Hootie & the Blowfish

Once again I saw these guys at The Newport, just before they blew wide open. I remember Darius Rucker downed about 8 Budweiser bottles during the show, and he often had one in his hand as he sang.

The String Cheese Incident

I’m not really into Jam Bands, and I have no idea what inspired me to go to this show. Now that I think of it, I have no idea who I was with or where they played. Somewhere outside for sure.

Screaming Trees

Screaming Trees

The Trees were the middle act at College Park, MD in 1992. They followed Gruntruck and preceded Alice in Chains. Of those three bands, I loved the Screaming Trees the most. The show was at Ritchie Coliseum as I recall.

Alice in Chains

See above.

Gruntruck

Also see above.

Fugazi

Great show at the tiny City Lights venue in Indy back in 1993. I remember clearly that the tickets cost a mere $5.00.

The National

The National opened for REM at Blossom in 2004.

Brian Wilson*

I was thrilled to see Brian Wilson during his Pet Sounds Tour in 2002. His backing band was the Wondermints and they were fantastic too. He played the album in its entirety, start to finish. Stellar, and the work of a musical genius. I went to see him again on 7.23.22 and, although came onstage with the aid of a walker, once he sat down at the piano he was magical. Sure, he needs help with the high notes but along with Paul McCartney I consider him to be a an absolute living legend.

Steve Forbert (4)

I put Steve Forbert in my Top 10 All-Time favorite artists. I’ve seen him at small venues in Newport, KY, and Granville and Worthington in Ohio (2). He always puts on a great show. One of music’s most underappreciated talents.

Faith No More

Caught these guys at The Newport (surprise!) in September of 1992. The main thing I remember is that lead singer Mike Patton had some absolutely killer pipes.

Helmet

I have very little recollection of this one. Sorry Helmet.

The Temptations*

I finally got to see The Temps around 2008, and they only had one original member remaining. Still a great show though.

Ziggy Marley

Ziggy

I can attribute this one to pure luck. One night in the Caribbean I was sitting at a little Tiki Bar, and a guy came up and casually mentioned that Ziggy was playing a couple hundred yards down the beach. Wait. What? Hell yes mon. I hustled down there and the rest is history.

They Might Be Giants (8)

Man, I’ve seen the two John’s 8 times since 1992 (the last this past winter) and every show has been awesome. One of my favorite bands ever.

OK GO

This group opened for TMBG the night the electric went out at The Newport and everything was delayed a couple hours. They were great, but my main memory was after the show when the lead singer tried to pick up my nephew’s wife out by the merch stand. Musicians, man.

Eels (7)

Eels

I’ve seen E and the boys on several occasions, usually in Columbus but at least once in Cleveland. Big, big fan and E never, ever fails to entertain. I’ve been on E’s bandwagon since his early solo albums “A Man Called E” and “Broken Toy Shop”. One of the most underappreciated artists of my lifetime.

The Flaming Lips 

Love the lips, and I saw them at the Nelsonville Music Festival a few years ago. And yes, Wayne Coyne got in one of those big bubbles and walked out over the audience. Fun aplenty.

Beck

I used to volunteer for a company that worked concerts around Columbus (actually I only did it twice) but on one occasion I ended up being Beck’s damn backstage bodyguard. He actually invited me to stand beside the stage and watch the show. Dude really liked me for some reason, man. You can read all about it here: Bodyguarding Beck. True story.

Martina McBride

I must have received good reviews for being Beck’s bodyguard, because a couple weeks later they asked me to be the bodyguard for Martina McBride. Once again I was allowed to watch from the wings. Hey, I’ve never owned a Martina McBride song but damn she was a hottie. Anyway, I protected two famous singers and neither were harmed under my watch. My record is unblemished.

Carbon Leaf (21)

Carbon Leaf

I’ve been a big Carbon Leaf fan since around 2000, and I’ve become acquainted with lead singer Barry Privett and the other band members. I’ve seen them at Kelly’s in the Outer Banks, The Basement and a few other places in Columbus, a little bar in Chapel Hill, the Southgate House in Newport, KY and The 20th Century Theater in Cincy among other places. I highly recommend this band. Update: I caught them at The Kent Stage on March 8th, 2020. Still amazing. Update II: Saw them again on October 16th, 2020 at Natalie’s Grandview. Amazing again.

The Wallflowers

I have no earthly idea where I saw these guys. Maybe the old Capital Theater on High Street in Columbus?

Paul Westerberg

I’d waited many a year to see the former Replacements frontman in person, and it was one helluva show. It was at The Newport, which was perfect, and one of my friends said it was the first time he’d actually seen a real life rock star. Westerberg growled/wailed his tunes in black jeans, boots and a leather jacket, all the while smoking a cigarette and barking at the occasional roadie. At one point he played while laying on his back, and he added covers like “If I Had a Hammer” and “Daydream Believer” along with his solo stuff and some Replacement classics. Just an amazing, powerful performance from a rock legend that I’ve admired for years. I’ll never forget it.

Ben Folds (4)

Ben always puts on a great show, and the interaction with his fans is incredible. I last saw him in the fall of last year and he hadn’t lost a step.

Billy Bragg

This show was at Mountain Stage, West Virginia, and was actually broadcast live on National Public Radio. For some reason I remember Billy telling the audience that on the way to the show his bus had passed a little town with an interesting name – Bragg. Weird the stuff you remember.

MC Honky

MC Honky was actually Mark Oliver Everett, otherwise known as E of the Eels. He opened for, you guessed it, The Eels. Strange but interesting night.

Taylor Swift

Yep, I saw her at OU-Chillicothe at the very beginning of her career back in 2007, performing before maybe 2500 people. She’d only had a couple hits at that time, and I remember she stood at the back of the gym after the show until she’d signed every single fan’s autograph. There was no dancing or anything like that, she basically just sat on a stool and played her songs solo.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band*

Quite simply one of the best live performers to have ever lived. There was no big light show, no video screens, no theatrics. Just Bruce and the band playing straight ahead rock and roll. I saw The Boss at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, and it was unforgettable.

Buddy Guy*

Buddy opened for Clapton at The Schott in the late 00s, and he was spectacular.

Bon Jovi* (4)

An ex of mine had a deep, unapologetic love for Jon Bon Jovi, hence the many trips to see the band. They’re crazy good live, and the trips were worth it to me to watch Richie Sambora play guitar. All the shows were at large arenas.

Goo Goo Dolls

I saw the Goos in their heyday, which was sometime around 1998-1999. according to my internal heyday meter. I must say Johnny Rzeznik and the boys were pretty damn good. I cannot recall where I saw them.

Cracker (3)

Love me some Cracker, and I’ve seen them at Kelley’s in the OBX, the Southgate House in northern Kentucky, and the Picktown Palooza (yes, such a thing exists). I’ve had the pleasure to meet guitarist Johnny Hickman a few times and am happy to report that he’s a good dude.

Green Day*

I took my son to see these guys at The Schott in Columbus as part of my Expose My Kid to The Legends Project (he’s seen McCartney, R.E.M., AC/DC, The Eels, and several others) and they were just about what you’d expect. Those little dudes are like Energizer Bunnies, man. It was their American Idiot Tour I believe.

AC/DC*

Tremendous show at The Schott, and for some reason I was pleasantly surprised at how good of a guitarist Angus Young is. I should have known I guess? Anyway, there were more 50-year old boobs on display than I care to recall.

Eric Clapton*

Saw Slowhand at Nationwide Arena, and it was something to behold. See, even though the show was 2 1/2 hours long Clapton didn’t play that many songs. All the tunes were a long, bluesy numbers and every one was breathtakingly good. Although a few morons were yelling for them there was no “I Shot the Sheriff” or “Tears in Heaven.” To top off the greatness of the show, Derek Trucks was a part of the band and Robert Cray came out to jam during the last 30-minutes or so. Legendary.

Robert Cray 

See Eric Clapton above.

Angels & Airwaves

A & A is led by Blink-182’s Tom Delonge, and I went to The Newport with my son to see the band in the mid-00s. Kip wanted to get down front, so we worked our way down to the right front of the stage with yours truly against a railing. Suffice to say the mosh pit was deadly, my ribs were crushed repeatedly against the railing, and I could barely get out of bed the next day. Hey, you have to sacrifice for family. On a related note, it was totally worth it.

The Color Fred

These guys opened for A & A and I have very little recollection as to whether they were any good.

Fuel

I caught Fuel at a small venue in Columbus, but I can’t remember the exact location. Interesting crowd at Fuel shows.

The Smithereens

I saw these guys at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, NC as part of a big summer show with 4 other acts. I’ve always loved The Smithereens and they did not fail me.

Scars on 45

Scars on 45 are English band that was a part of the Mateo show. They impressed me.

Gin Blossoms (4)

I’ve seen these guys at the Manteo Festival, Summerfest, Bogey’s in Dublin, OH and with Toad the Wet Sprocket and Barenaked Ladies at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights.

Spin Doctors

Another band at the Manteo concert, and believe me when I say they still have it.

Joan Jett*

Joan headlined the big Manteo show and she was stunningly good. On a related note, the Roanoke Festival Park is a stunning venue with the backdrop to the stage being the Roanoke Sound. Beautiful.

Social D

Social Distortion

After years of trying I finally got to see Mike Ness and Social D at what was then LC Pavilion in Columbus a few years ago. They were everything I expected them to be.

Mudhoney

My buddy Goose and I caught the legendary grunge rockers at tiny Café Bourbon Street in Columbus in 2010. Lead singer Mark Arm, the man who coined the term “grunge”, was in top form. I felt lucky to have seen them, and Arm gave me the setlist. Boom.

Manchester Orchestra

This band opened for My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 in Cincinnati. My only recollection is that they had a lush, orchestral sound, hence their name choice I guess.

My Chemical Romance (2)

I’ve seen MCR twice, once opening for Green Day in Columbus and once for Blink-182 in Cincinnati. On both occasions they were very good, and it turned out that the Cincy tour was their last.

Blink-182

My son was a big Blink guy and this show was pretty special. I recall sitting in the parking lot waiting for the rain to stop, and when it did we debated whether to make a run for the gates. We decided in the affirmative, and when we were exactly halfway to our destination the torrential downpour began anew. We were drenched for the entire show. I also remember that the banter between Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppes was hilarious. Really good show.

Band of Horses

Saw Band of Horse open for My Morning Jacket a few years ago and I thought they were fantastic. I actually enjoyed them more than the headliner.

My Morning Jacket

I don’t know, there’s something about these guys that’s sort of monotonous to me. Can’t say I loved it.

Bowling for Soup

A couple years ago I went to see Bowling for Soup at the A&R in Columbus. The show was at 7:00, but as I am want to do I went up around 4:00 to scout out the terrain. I could hear the band doing a soundcheck inside, and there was a line of probably 150 people sitting outside the door and down the sidewalk. I thought what the hell, I’ll take a shot at this. I walked past all the people, up to the door, and as luck would have it the door was open. I walked in, nodded at a few security guys in A&R polos, and sauntered on to the front of the stage and watched the guys warm up. After a bit I walked to the back of the venue and was leaning against the wall when I was approached by a very large dude. I was expecting the worst, but the guy said, “Hey, have you seen Greg?” I looked around as if I knew who the hell Greg was, then told him, “No, not recently.” He then thanked me and gave me a knuckle-bump before departing. Crisis averted. Then, a short while later I swear this happened: The band stopped and the lead singer looked straight at me and asked, “Whaddaya think? Is that enough bass?” The world stopped for a second as the entire band and everyone in the venue looked at me. I nodded knowingly and gave the thumbs-up sign as the bass player shot me a return thumbs-up before kicking into another tune. At that point I had cred with the entire place so I could basically do whatever I wanted. What can I say? The secret is acting like you belong. Bottom line, I saw the soundcheck and the show, and both were great.

Bacon Brothers

I was invited to this show at an outdoor mall somewhere in Dayton, and I have to say Kevin Bacon and his brother were pretty good. Somebody opened but I can’t recall the band name.

Lit

I saw Lit along with the Gin Blossoms and the next three bands during the Summerland Tour a few years back. Lit was excellent, Gin Blossoms were very good, Marcy Playground was Ok, Sugar Ray was surprisingly amazing and Everclear was disappointing.

Sugar Ray

See Lit.

Marcy Playground

See Lit.

Everclear

See Lit.

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

Caught these guys in Cincy at Bogart’s (I think). They were excellent. Really underrated band in my opinion.

Nathanael Rateliff & the Night Sweats (3)

Saw their show at the Nelsonville Music Festival a couple years back and they were great. They also opened for Kings of Leon last summer, and I saw them at Express Live! in early October. Always stellar.

Sister Hazel

Urban Meyer’s favorite band played Bogey’s in Dublin/Muirfield a couple years ago along with the Gin Blossoms. And yes, Urb and Shelley were in attendance. I used to know Shelley back in the day, and here she is giving me a shout out:

Soul Asylum

For the life of me I cannot recall where I saw Soul Asylum, but I remember it being a grungy little bar type of establishment. Go figure. It was towards the beginning of their success.

Kings of Leon

Attended a KOL show at Riverbend in Cincinnati last summer. Great band, great show.

Guided by Voices (2)

One of my friends is a big fan so I went with him to see his hero Robert Pollard. I’m glad I went. Update: Caught GBV again at the Bellwether Festival in Waynesville, Ohio. Once again a fantastic performance.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Amazing band I saw during their Wheels of Soul Tour back in 2015 at the PNC Pavilion in The Natti. They’re unbelievable live.

Avett Brothers (9)

I first laid ears on The Avetts around ’05 in the Outer Banks, and have since seen them in Raleigh, NC, The Louisville Palace in KY, and several other venues in Ohio. One of my favorite live bands currently. Update: Caught The Avetts at Timberwolf on 6.28 and once again they were incredible. One of the best live bands out there today.

Tall Heights

I saw this band open for Ben Folds last fall. Cool sound.

Todd Snider

Todd is one of my friend’s favorite artists, and I must say I enjoyed the show. I think we saw him in Cincinnati. I think. UPDATE: I checked. It was at the Madison Theater in Cincy.

The Pixies (2)

The Pixies were on my Bucket List, and thankfully I’ve seen them twice in the last year or so. The first was at Express Live! in Columbus and the second at an amazing show I’ll talk about shortly. Just a legendary, influential alternative band.

John Hiatt

I love John Hiatt and I finally got to see him a couple years ago in Columbus. I think it was The Palace, and it was just John and his guitar. Incredible performance.

Rick Brantley

Opened for John Hiatt, and I remember his song “Hurt People” the most.

G-Love

G-Love opened for Jack Johnson and he was great. He came out later with Jack to sing “Rodeo Clowns” and it was amazing.

Jack Johnson

I was never a huge Jack Johnson fan but he won me over a few weeks ago at Riverbend in Cincinnati. It was a laid back, mellow show with a tremendous vibe.

Foo Fighters* (5)

Ah, The Foos. I’ve seen them 5-times in the past few years and they blew me away. The first show was in Cincy at US Bank Arena (formerly Riverfront Coliseum) and the second at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, IN outside Indianapolis. The Indy show was special because we were 12-rows back. Incredible night. The third time I saw them was at CalJam ’18, which I’ll talk about below. Then I saw them at the Sonic Temple Festival in Columbus, Ohio and they were epic. We had backstage passes and spent some time in keyboardist Rami Jaffee’s private box. Amazing stuff. Finally, I saw them in their first live tour performance after the pandemic in Cincy and their return was incredible.

PS – Dave Grohl is a God.

The Struts (3)

The Struts are a Queen-influenced group fronted by a guy named Luke Spiller, who is fantastic. They opened for the Foo Fighters all three times I saw them. High energy, rockin’ band.

The Wombats

I loved The Wombats back in the late 80s, and if you didn’t like “Let’s Dance to the Joy Division” you are a phony, a pretender, and you have the musical taste of a ferret. I finally saw them a couple weeks ago as the opener for The Pixies and then Weezer, and as expected they killed it.

Weezer

To be honest I went to the Weezer show for opening acts The Wombats and The Pixies, but to my surprise Weezer blew the roof off at Riverbend. I mean, I knew they’d be good but they were way better than I expected. Incredible show that actually shocked me, and I don’t shock easily.

Jimmy Buffett (3)

I first saw Buffett in 1977, again in the late 80s, and finally a couple weeks ago in Cincinnati. Buffett shows are basically one big beach party, replete with leis, bikinis and margaritas, among other things [clears throat]. You get the picture.

Some of the bands below have been mentioned before, but I saw them all at Cal Jam ’18 the weekend of 10/4-10/6. What an amazing experience:

Nirvana*

1111111111111111111111111111111111111111

Joan Jett, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.

Still can’t believe I was at this legendary show where Nirvana (minus Kurt Cobain of course) reunited with Joan Jett and Deer Tick lead singer John McCauley to perform seven songs at the end of the regular Foos show. When Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic walked out the place erupted, and Joan and John sounded great singing the lead with Dave Grohl back on the drums. Incredible.

Post Pop Depression

LOVED these guys. PPP is Godfather of Punk Iggy Pop (The Stooges), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Dean Fertita (QOTSA, The Dead Weather) and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) among others. Amazing show, and at 71 Iggy is still going strong.

Garbage

I really liked Garbage a lot. Shirley Manson definitely still has it, and her band was tight.

Yungblud (2)

I was surprised how much I liked this guy. Trust me, angry British punk is alive. The Sex Pistols would be proud. I saw him at both CalJam and Sonic Temple.

Metz

Enjoyed this show as well. Rockin’ young band.

Tenacious D

Yep, Jack Black’s band was there too, and I have to say I didn’t love them. Hard to take Jack Black seriously as a musician after School of Rock, you know?

Greta Van Fleet

Honestly, I can take or leave these Led Zeppelin sound-alikes. Didn’t dig it at all.

Deer Tick

LOVED these guys. Great band with 3 different lead singers. Reminded me a little of The Band in that way.

Gang of Youths

I really liked frontman David Le’aupepe and this Australian band. Sort of a cross between U2, Springsteen and The Alarm. Lots of anthemic rock.

The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms

Probably my favorite new band I saw in California. I got to meet lead singer Brian Sella briefly, and I can report he is a good dude.

Thunderpussy

This all-girl band rocked the hell out of it, and Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins sat sidestage and watched their drummer, who was fantastic.

Giants in the Trees

This is Krist Novoselic’s band, and I cannot say I’m a fan of the dreamy, psychedelic vibe they were putting out.

Billy Idol

Billy played the first night, and he did not disappoint. Dude still has the pipes, and guitarist Steve Stevens was as good as ever.

Cal Jam Bonuses:

At the backstage layout, I absentmindedly asked out loud what kind of pasta they were serving. From behind me I heard a voice say, “That’s Couscous Mac ‘n Cheese, man. You have to try it.” I turned around and it was Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins. Update: Rest in Peace Taylor.

I also got to meet and spend a little time with the man who played drums on one of my favorite songs of all-time, The Church of Logic, Sin and Love by The Men. Suffice it to say that Dave Botkin was a great guy.

I also had a brief encounter with Josh Homme that was very pleasant.

The Hives

Caught these guys at Sonic Temple and they were great. I’s always wanted to see them and was glad I did.

The Interrupters

At the Sonic Temple again, and if you like music akin to Elvis Costello you’ll love these guys.

Phish

My buddy had been begging me to see these guys for years but I just didn’t get the whole Phish thing. Having gone, I must say I had a good time. It was great music, great people and a great vibe. I’m not going to quit life and follow Phish, but I’ll certainly go again.

Selo

Saw this band at the Bellwether Festival and I was impressed. Good new band.

Strfkr

Yep. That says what you think it says, and they were a lot of fun. Because hey, who doesn’t like spacemen crowd surfing and blow-up dolls being tossed into the audience?

Nick Lowe

Caught the legend himself at the Joanne Davidson Center in Columbus and he did not disappoint. His voice is as good as ever, and his backing band, the legendary Los Straightjackets, were tight as hell. Loved every minute of it.

Todd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz, Christopher Cross, Joey Molland of Badfinger and Jason Scheff of Chicago

Saw these guys perform The Beatles’ White Album in Cincinnati on its 50th Anniversary and it was special to say the least. Amazing show.

Smashing Pumpkins

Finally caught the Pumpkins on 5/28/22 at Kemba Live! in Columbus, Ohio and they were amazing. Great great show.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

I finally saw Toad on 7.19.22 with both the Gin Blossoms and Barenaked Ladies at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights, OH (a GREAT venue by the way) and they were really good.

Barenaked Ladies

See Toad the Wet Sprocket above.

Roddy Ricch

This cat opened for Post Malone on 9.18.22 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH and I must say I liked the hell out of him.

Post MalonePost Malone to play Nashville on 2022 tour

Caught Posty at the above aforementioned show and he was electric. His stage presence is unreal, his songs are melodic and his relationship with his audience is really, really special. I have to say the crowd was as loud as any I’ve experienced. Loved this concert.

Coming soon . . .

Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl, The James Gang, Nine Inch Nails and The Breeders.

J-u-s-t Missed Shows:

The Who

Yep, we had tickets to Riverfront Coliseum the night of the tragedy where 11-people were crushed to death, and we were actually on the way to the concert. It was my birthday (12/3/79) and fortunately we were stupid enough to think a party for me in Chillicothe would be more fun, and it might have saved our lives. And yes, I know about a million people claim to have had tickets to that show. We actually did.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

I had tickets for a show at St. John’s Arena in Columbus on October 28th, 1978, but unfortunately we all know what happened 8-days prior – their plane crashed in Mississippi. I’ll never forget waking up the morning and my roommate Jed telling me what had happened. And, being the 21-year old jackass that I was, I returned my ticket because I thought I needed the $8.25 or whatever the hell the ticket cost back then, probably to buy beer.

John Lennon looks pretty accurate to me. Interesting stuff.

[click and scroll]

huggsman

Coach Bob Huggins has won 916 college basketball games. That’s #4 among D1 coaches and he’s only 5 wins from passing Jim Calhoun and moving up to 3rd. He’s behind only Coach K, Jim Boeheim and Calhoun and is ahead of Bob Knight, Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp, Eddie Sutton and Lefty Driesell.

That, my friends, is one hell of a career.

I first met Huggs back on May 15th, 1989 when our family was given a private tour of the brand new Shoemaker Center at the University of Cincinnati, named after my Uncle Myrl. My uncle had been a State Representative and Chairman of the House Finance Committee (and later Lieutenant Governor of Ohio), and he’d been instrumental in the construction of the new facility.

Anyway, because of this family connection I was there, and the man who showed us around was the University of Cincinnati’s new coach, Bob Huggins.

At some point I introduced myself, told him I was the coach of the other Bearcats, and we ended up having a lot in common. Over the next 15-years I took my teams to camp at UC, attended games, and got to know Huggs fairly well. We’d go out after camp, hang out when I visited Cincy or attended clinics where he was speaking, stuff like that.

And no, I’m not going into details regarding those visits so don’t go there. I was mentioned in a book Huggs once wrote, although not by name.

In 2005 Huggs was let go by the University of Cincinnati and a university president I refuse to name, ostensibly because “the Bearcat program under Huggins didn’t fit with the plan to upgrade UC’s academic reputation” but more likely because of a DUI and most likely because Huggs wielded more power at the university and in the city than she did. And by the way, the whole graduation rate reasoning was flawed to put it mildly. But that’s a subject for another day.

Huggs was then snatched up by Kansas State, but a year later his beloved West Virginia came calling with an offer Huggs could not refuse. After all, he’d played college basketball at WVU, was born there, had family there and had many other connections to the university. He loved West Virginia, West Virginia loved him, and it was a perfect fit.

As for me, it’s pretty clear where my loyalties lie. When Huggs brought his Mountaineers back to Cincinnati in an emotional return a couple years after leaving, I was on the floor behind the bench. West Virginia’s bench.

shoehuggsreturn

Note: That’s an unfortunate (for me) photo on the front page of the ESPN website the next morning. It showed an emotional Huggs with some poor schmuck in the background who’s apparently having a stroke.

But hey, I’m far from the only supporter Huggs still has in Ohio. A year or so ago I was at an AAU tournament with him, and he and a friend of ours went to a little bar near Mason, OH, just outside of Cincinnati. There were probably 20-people in the place when we arrived, but by an hour later that number had quadrupled. People were asking Huggs to pose with them, on their motorcycles, everything. The guy was besieged with people. I swear he could get elected mayor of Cincinnati in a landslide tomorrow.

Bob Huggins is one of those guys that people can sometime love to hate, mainly because of his fiery, sometimes explosive sideline demeanor and his straight shooter mentality. Huggs has not always been appreciated by some fans, usually those that disapprove of that sometimes in-your-face, aggressive style. I maintain that those people have no idea of who Bob Huggins really is. I’ve been around a few college coaches, and I’ve known none that are more compassionate about their players than Huggs. They know this, and that’s exactly why they allow themselves to be pushed to be better by him. It’s an old school tough love, and that love is returned to him far past a player’s days on the court.

And for over 30-years it’s worked. It’s amazing what players can accomplish when they know their coach cares about them in the manner Huggs does.

It all adds up to those 916 wins total at Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and West Virginia. 916 wins, man. That includes 30-years with at least 20-wins in 40-years of coaching. Still, for some reason his name is not usually mentioned alongside Krzyzewski, Knight, Williams or Calhoun. Makes no sense.

You know how we constantly hear (or heard) about Coach K or John Calipari turning down an NBA job, only leveraging it to get a big raise shortly thereafter? Basically Huggs has been offered NBA jobs before, he just doesn’t have his agent hold a press conference to announce it to the world.

In retrospect, the mess at the University of Cincinnati was the best thing that ever happened to Bob Huggins. He ended up with a job he loves at a university he loves, and in a city and state that loves him right back. They understand Huggs better than any fan base ever has, of that I’m certain. In a college basketball coaching world full of phonies and sleazy shucksters, Bob Huggins is going to give it to you straight. If you think he’s one of those slick-sell salesmen types you’re sadly mistaken, because there’s not a phony bone in him. It’s just not a part of his make-up. West Virginians appreciate that, and so do I. He’s a great coach and an even better man. I consider it an honor to know him.

And the best part is that Bob Huggins is still going strong. That’s good for both West Virginia and college basketball.

The songs Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, ABCDEFG and Baa Baa Black Sheep all have the same melody.

[for more cool facts, simply type “True Fact” into our search bar]

The following countries have the highest estimated World War II casualties:

Soviet Union: 20 – 27 million

China: 15 – 20 million

Germany: 6 – 7.4 million

Poland: 5.9 – 6 million

Dutch East Indies/Indonesia: 3 – 4 million

Japan: 2.5 – 3.1 million

India: 2.2 – 3 million

Yugoslavia: 1 – 1.7 million

French Indochina (Laos, Cambodia, part of Vietnam): 1 – 2.2 million

France: 600,000

By comparison, the United States had 298,000 deaths.

For more true facts, just type “true facts” into the search box and go to town.

I love this sort of stuff.

Johnny was the best.

Yep. Totally missed this. I was 2-blocks away.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to witness some pretty special moments in sports, so I thought it was time to share. Let’s see, where to start . . .

I’ve been to several big Maryland basketball games thanks to my friends out there, so I won’t list them all. Still, the 2001 Final 4 game against Duke in Minneapolis stands out. The Terps were up 17 in the first half only to lose the game due to some very shady officiating. We were pretty close to the bench, and at one point Gary Williams turned around to a group of NCAA Committee members and yelled, “Just how f***king bad do you want Duke to win?” Priceless. It actually brought a gasp from the crowd around us. Michigan State and Arizona contingents were also there, and everybody, I mean everybody, was anti-Duke that day.

cole

The legendary Cole Field House

You never knew who you were going to run into at College Park. We were always on Row 1 right behind the bench, thanks to my friend Billy Hahn. Robert Novak and Tony Kornheiser always sat nearby, and there were always a few pro athletes sitting near us as well. One night we sat down and I said hello to the guy next to me. I kept glancing at him because damn, he looked familiar. He seemed like an uncle from my past or something. I was flummoxed for a bit, and then it hit me – I was sitting beside Johnny Unitas.

Once, at a Maryland-Duke game at College Park, I heard quite a ruckus behind me in the Maryland student section. I turned around and saw a guy in the middle of the Maryland fans with a Duke hat on. People were going nuts booing the guy and screaming obscenities at him. After a while things died down a bit so I turned back to the pregame warmups. A few minutes later I heard a roar and looked around to see that somebody had swiped the hat and was passing it up through the stands. The Duke guy was livid but he was outnumbered by about 5000 to 1. At that point I thought it was over, but about 5-minutes later I heard another roar. This time I turned around and there was a Maryland fan waving the hat on the end of a long stick. And get this – the hat was on fire.

Have mercy.

Sticking with college hoops, I have to say that being behind the bench in Cincinnati a few years ago for “The Return of Huggs” was pretty special. Just being that close to all the emotion was pretty overwhelming, and I was honored to be given such special seats. It was unforgettable, and other than the fact that I appeared on the front page of ESPN’s website the next day looking like I was having a stroke, it was a great night.

When I was a kid I was lucky that my dad was not only a big sports fan, but also the head of purchasing at a pretty big corporation. Because Dad was in charge of buying literally everything for the company, he was constantly being bombarded with freebies from people who wanted him to buy from their businesses. Hence, all he had to do was mention a game he wanted to go to and he had the tickets post-haste (he also used to get a ton of free food and alcohol around the holidays, which was always a bonus). I’m pretty sure there are ethics laws preventing at least some of this stuff now, but maybe not. Anyway, combine Dad’s occupation with the fact that I had an uncle who was pretty high up in Ohio politics and I was one pretty lucky kid where getting tickets was concerned.

Because of this I was in attendance on April 4th, 1974 when Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run off of the Red’s Jack Billingham to tie Babe Ruth. Now there’s something you don’t see every day. I’ll never forget the electricity in Riverfront Stadium that day. I was 18-years old and I knew I was witnessing history.

A few years earlier, on May 17th, 1970, I’d seen Hank get his 3000th hit at Crosley Field. It was the second game of a doubleheader, and later in the game he hit his 570th homer. We were right down the first base line.

Speaking of Crosley Field, I was also at the last game played there on June 24th, 1970. I remember the great Juan Marichal pitching for the Giants and Johnny Bench and Lee May hit back-to-back home runs off him, enabling the Reds to go ahead and eventually win the game. Afterwards a helicopter came in, picked up home plate, and flew it over to Riverfront Stadium to be placed there. Pretty cool night.

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Joe Rudi, 1972.

Another great memory of Crosley was during Game 2 of the 1972 World Series. With Tony Perez on first and Oakland leading 2-0 in the ninth inning, Joe Rudi raced to the left-field fence and made a leaping, backhanded catch of Denis Menke’s smash to save a run. Earlier in the game, Rudi had a solo home run. Dad and I were in the right field stands about 5-rows up, so I had a great view of that famous catch.

wilt

Wilt.

We also used to go to several Cincinnati Royals games a year at the old Cincinnati Gardens. We were once at a Royals-76ers game and I really wanted Wilt Chamberlain’s autograph. He was by far my favorite player. Anyway, not knowing any better I decided to go down at halftime and tried to get it as the players walked off the court. At that time both teams exited at the same point, right at half-court, walking together and then going into opposite locker rooms. So, I’m standing there waiting for my hero when there he comes. Listen, I was probably 10-years old but Wilt looked 20-feet tall to me. He was walking right beside Jerry Lucas, and they were yelling at each other, saying words I’d never before heard in my young life. Then, right in front of me they stopped. They were nose-to-nose, just completely going at it. Other players came in and broke it up, but before Wilt left he looked down at me, rubbed my head, and shook my hand. I guess I should say he shook my forearm because his hand gripped mine practically all the way up to my elbow. Hell, even then I realized that was way better than an autograph.

Greg-Cook

Greg Cook.

My Dad and Uncle Myrl used to take us to a bunch of Bengals games every year, especially when our cousin Greg Cook was the quarterback for the team. He used to take us to the locker room afterwards and it was great. We even went into the visitors locker room a couple times where I met some famous players, including Joe Namath and OJ Simpson. I shook hands with both. One particular game stands out from when I was a little older though. Again, I can thank my dad for pulling through for the tix, but I was in attendance at the Bengals vs. Bills Monday Night Football Game back in 1975. During the Bengals’ 33-24 win Ken Anderson threw for 447 yards and the aforementioned O.J. Simpson ran for 197 yards. Man, he just seemed to glide out there.

I also got to see a ton of big Ohio State basketball games and almost all of the Ohio State-Michigan football games through the late 60’s up to the present. Once in the 70’s I was nearly clotheslined by a security guard when I rushed the field after the game. I also vividly remember watching Lew Alcindor play against the Bucks in 1968 and just dominate. Dad never liked him because he thought he was lazy. Indeed, with John Wooden’s fast break there were several times Alcindor never made it past mid-court. As a kid, I was also impressed when he untangled the net without even standing on his tip-toes.

The Pistol.

The Pistol.

Another great memory is a Royals game we went to against the New Orleans Jazz. The Jazz had none other than Pistol Pete Maravich on their team, and he torched the Royals for 44-points that night as I recall. I also remember that he wasn’t the high scorer in the game. Unheralded Royals center Connie Dierking had 45. I could be off on those numbers but I know I’m close. Pete Rose sat a few seats down from us that night. Probably had some jack placed on the outcome.

And finally, here’s an amazing memory that never was. Back in 1988 a friend of mine had a buddy who worked for CBS Sports. This guy got us tickets to the 1988 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago. We had passes for the dunk contest, the whole works. Well, by the time we checked into The Omni in Chicago that Saturday we were, uh, having a little too much fun. Later on we were in a bar near the stadium and were having such a good time that we decided, in our infinite wisdom, to stay there and skip the dunk contest. This would turn out to be the contest where Dominique Wilkins and some loser named Michael Jordan would have their legendary showdown. You know, the one where Jordan came in from the side, looking down on the basket, and nearly ripped the rim off. Oh, and later he dunked from the foul line. Personally I thought Wilkins won, but what the hell did I know? I was in a bar 2-blocks away. To put a cap on things, as we were walking into the stadium for the All-Star game the next day some guy offered us $300 for our tickets. Of course we promptly sold them. What can I say? We were idiots.

So there you have it, a few of my favorite (and one not so favorite) memories of sports.

Then again, I bet a lot of you have some pretty cool sports memories. What are they? They can be anything, from little league to the big leagues.

Let’s hear ’em.

PS- Perhaps my favorite personal memory of playing sports was tossing a perfect game against the hapless Knockemstiff Badgers when I was 12. Struck out everyone, 18 in six innings. Man, I was throwing smoke. I didn’t even need infielders out there. On a related note the Badgers were really, really bad.

Yep. It’s happening. I already look just like him, now I’m turning into him. It’s been a slow process but oh, it’s happening. Here are some of things I’ve caught myself doing and thought to myself, “Damn, I’m turning into my father” . . .

Walking the Perimeter

When I was a kid dad would often walk around the perimeter of our property in the evening, just making sure everything was in order. You know, you never know when some ne’er-do-well might be lurking in mom’s Gardenia’s or something. Anyway, guess what I caught myself doing the other day? Walking the damn perimeter.

Yelling at Speeders

When I was little dad used to yell at the young Bourneville hooligans if they drove too fast past our house. Hey, there were kids in the neighborhood, man. W-e-l-l, a couple weeks ago I chased a car that blew by my house too fast and gave a youngster a good talking to down at the gas station. Hey, Lilly was out there with me. On a related note, without that admonishment the kid may have one day run over Lilly and I may have saved myself from a future murder charge.

Staring at Historical Markers for Uncomfortably Long Periods

When we’d go on vacations dad would sometimes get off the main highway and take a few turns while occasionally glancing at a map. Then he’d end up at some remote spot, get out, and walk into a field. In the ground would sometimes be an old historical marker that showed where some little-known Civil War battle like The Battle of Knob’s Field” or something had taken place. Then dad would stand there looking around at this unremarkable site for what seemed like an hour as I stood eyeing him quizzically. B-u-t, I now know what he was doing. How? Because I do the same thing. He’d read about the battle, studied it, and was reliving it in his head.

Saying Certain Words or Phrases

Ladies and gentlemen, I now find myself saying things my dad said, like “He’s a dandy” (he’s a good one) or “That’s the berries” (if he liked something). The older I get, the more I revert to phrases and words dad used.

Putting Things on My Head

When I was little dad would put things on his head for a laugh. For instance, I remember one time he came out of the bathroom after a shower with a towel around his waist and his underwear on his head. Trust me, at the age of 8 that is the height of comedy. Anywho, when I visit my granddaughters I find myself putting stuff on my my head for laughs, like a teddy bear or toy or something. And you know what? It still works.

So yeah, the older I get the more I’m turning into my father, and that’s a good thing. That said, I could never turn completely into my father. I’ll be lucky to be half the man he was.

PS- I wrote about dad when he passed away in 2018. You can read it here: My Dad and I.

And by seen I mean seen live and in person. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life, with a father who took me to high school, college and professional games all the time. As an adult I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend some pretty amazing games up close as well. What you’ll find below are some memories of some pretty incredible athletes.

wilt

Dad used to take me to see the Cincinnati Royals, the old NBA team, several times a year. One of my favorite memories is watching the Royals, with Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas, take on the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967, the year they won the NBA Championship. Philly had Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham and the great Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt was my favorite player, and he actually shook my hand that night. Unforgettable memory.

lew

On December 6th, 1968 (I looked it up) dad took me to Ohio State to watch a good Buckeye team take on John Wooden’s famed UCLA Bruins. We sat behind the basket, and I’ll never forget watching center Lew Alcindor and his famous sky hook. Alcindor, of course, later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Another memory of that day is my father complaining that Alcindor didn’t work hard enough.

My Dad and my Uncle Myrl used to take us to a bunch of Bengals games every year, especially when our cousin Greg Cook was the quarterback for the team. He used to take us to the locker room afterwards and it was great. We even went into the visitors locker room a couple times where I met some famous players, including Joe Namath and OJ Simpson. Yes, I shook that hand. One particular game stands out from when I was a little older though. Again, I can thank my dad for pulling through for the tix, but I was in attendance at the Bengals vs. Bills Monday Night Football Game back in 1975. During the Bengals’ 33-24 win Ken Anderson threw for 447 yards and the aforementioned O.J. Simpson slashed his way for 197 yards rushing. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

pete1.0

Another great memory is a Royals game we went to against the New Orleans Jazz. The Jazz had none other than Pistol Pete Maravich on their team, and he torched the Royals for 44-points that night as I recall. The Pistol was mesmerizing, and the Cincinnati Garden was electric every single time he touched the ball. I also remember that he wasn’t the high scorer that night. Unheralded Royals center Connie Dierking had 45. I could be off on those numbers but I know I’m close. Pete Rose sat a couple rows behind us that night.

I was in attendance on April 4th, 1974 when Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run off of the Red’s Jack Billingham to tie Babe Ruth’s all-time record. Now there’s something you don’t see every day. I’ll never forget the emotion in Riverfront Stadium that day. I was 18, and I knew I was witnessing history.

A few years earlier, on May 17th, 1970, I’d seen Hank get his 3000th hit at Crosley Field. It was the second game of a doubleheader, and later in the game he hit his 570th homer.

Speaking of Crosley Field, I was also at the last game played there on June 24th, 1970. I remember the great Juan Marichal pitching for the Giants and Johnny Bench and Lee May hit back-to-back home runs off him, enabling the Reds to go ahead and eventually win the game. Afterwards a helicopter came in, picked up home plate, and flew it over to Riverfront Stadium to be placed there. Pretty cool night.

clemente

I also saw Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates play in old Crosley Field a few times. He was so smooth and fluid, just a joy to watch. You knew you were seeing something special as you watched him. He recorded his 3000th hit on September 30, 1972, and it would be his last regular season hit. Sadly, three months later, Clemente died in a tragic crash of a cargo plane carrying relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

I can’t tell you how many times I watched Pete Rose play. My father absolutely loved Pete because of his style of play, which was all out, all the time. Pete sprinted to first base after walks and he sprinted to and from the outfield between innings. Once my cousin Mick cut his knee walking into Crosley Field and somehow (my dad and Uncle Myrl had connections, man) we ended up in the Reds training room. There was Mick, sitting on a training table beside Pete Rose, who was getting taped up. He couldn’t have been nicer.

francisdurant810

This next one may surprise you, but Steve Francis in his prime was one of the best basketball players I have ever seen, period. It’s sort of cool because I knew him when he was 13-years old. I was working at Gary William’s Basketball Camp at Maryland in 1990 and there was a little kid sitting in the stands at Cole Field House, crying. Since I was the camp commissioner somebody sent me over to talk to him. Turns out he was mad because some of the counselors were playing a pick-up game during lunch and wouldn’t let him play. He knew he was good enough, and he was probably right. 10-years later he came back to speak at camp as an NBA All-Star.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw North Carolina’s Vince Carter in Cole Field House either. There was a fast break, and guard Ed Cota threw a pass from mid-court. It looked like it slipped or something because it was way too high and far away from the basket. I thought for certain it was going into the crowd. All of a sudden Carter came out of nowhere, leaped up, caught the ball with one hand, behind his head and probably 3-feet over the rim, and threw down a dunk that defied logic, gravity and human belief. I’d never seen anything like it.

I also got to see Ohio State Buckeyes like Archie Griffin, Orlando Pace, Eddie George, Maurice Clarett, and Jack Tatum. You could always spot the special ones. They were just . . . different. And Tatum was called The Assassin for a reason.

Anyway, thanks to Dad, Billy, Gary, Huggs and all the other people who have hooked me up with tickets and great seats over the years.

Hopefully the ride will continue.

Not him. Close though.

I once had a kid named Jimmy who was a bit of a punk. All of us knew kids like him when we were in school, he was always running to the teacher to tell on somebody, threatening to sue someone, running to mommy when he got into trouble, generally being a future assclown in training.

One day Jimmy was being his typical annoying self and wouldn’t shut his piehole, so I called him to the front of the class. As some of you know I like to draw (I even illustrated a book on nutrition a couple years ago – picture dancing carrots and bananas on skateboards and stuff). With this in mind I thought I’d draw Jimmy a picture to illustrate my point. You know, because he didn’t seem to understand the spoken word very well. And by “very well” I mean not at all.

At that point I proceeded to draw what I thought was a pretty cool picture depicting a group of people standing well away from the edge of a cliff that plunged down into the sea, just standing there contentedly safe from harm. I also drew some mighty sharp rocks down below. I have to admit it was a pretty cool picture considering I drew it in about a minute and a half. I mean, I had the waves crashing into the rocks and everything.

Right at the edge of the cliff I added one little man, just a step away from taking the fall far into the abyss, and with it certain death. I then had this conversation with Jimmy:

“Jimmy, here’s the deal. See all those people standing safely back away from the edge of the cliff? That’s our class. Now, see the little guy there standing real close to the edge of the cliff? Jimmy, that’s you. Now I want you to think about this for a minute. You can turn and walk safely away from danger, join the rest of the class, and get on with your life. Or, you can take that step the other way, the step that takes you over the edge and off the cliff. What decision are you going to make?”

To which Jimmy replied quietly, “I think I’ll walk back and join the rest of the class.”

Good answer.

Jimmy was fine for the rest of the period, but the story doesn’t end there. The next day I was called to the principal’s office. As I walked in I saw my principal behind his desk, albeit with an almost undetectable smirk on his face. In the visitor’s chair sat a big biker dude, complete with the leather pants and vest and all. I think the vest said something on the back like The Grim Jokers or Satan’s Spawn or The Lost Peckerwoods or something along those lines. I also recall thinking that a family of Ospreys could be living in biker dude’s beard. My principal then informed me that biker dude was in fact Jimmy’s dad and made the intros. Animosity was in the air and you could cut the tension with a switchblade.

Note: I should probably point out that I really hate badass wannabes who buy a Harley, purchase some leather at the gift shop and suddenly think they’re a Hell’s Angel. That said, man, did Jimmy’s dad look like a Hell’s Angel. 

Here’s what went down from there:

Principal: “Mr. Shoemaker, Jimmy’s father says you threatened to throw his son off a cliff.”

Wait. W-h-a-t?

Me: “Well, I have three things to say about that. Number one, I drew a picture on the board illustrating that Jimmy was about to get into serious trouble. Number two, the entire class knew exactly what I meant. Number three, that includes Jimmy.”

Biker Dude: “He threatened my son. I want him fired!”

Principal, who really liked me but was sort of befuddled: “Mr. Shoemaker, can you show me what you drew?”

I then, on the board in the principal’s office, proceeded to draw an incredible re-creation of my original masterpiece. OK, maybe I put the kid a little farther away from the edge, and I’m pretty sure I made him uglier. Then the principal took a look, approved of my class management style, and told biker dude so.

Biker Dude: “At the very least I want this put on his permanent record!”

Me: “Nah, I don’t think it needs to go on Jimmy’s permanent record. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

This apparently upset daddy greatly, as I guess he meant my permanent record. He started yelling and stomping around, just generally making threats and stuff. I don’t think the principal could really hear him though because he had his head in his hands, trying his damndest not to laugh. As for me, I was just leaning against the wall.

Oh, and it’s possible I could have been grinning.

Long story short the guy finally stormed out and my permanent record remained clean. Well, clean compared to, you know, Charles Manson or somebody.

My principal stopped by my room later to chastise me, saying this:

“Remind me to never have you in a parent meeting again.”

Then he walked away shaking his head, but I’m pretty sure he was smiling.

Of course, the never going to a parent meeting thing was fine by me.

As for Jimmy, the little narc didn’t give me any more problems. The old “Throw you off a cliff” strategy must have done the trick.

That’s some top level classroom management right there, teachers. Feel free to borrow at your own risk.

You heard me, peruse and let your jaw be dropped.

  1. When it’s so quiet you can hear snow falling, you’re actually hearing the static discharge of the snowflake hitting the ground. It gathers the electricity while it’s falling to Earth.
  2. There are more castles in Germany than McDonalds in the U.S.
  3. A graveyard is connected to a church while a cemetery is not.
  4. Greenland sharks can become up to 400 years old and don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re 150.
  5. Oxford University existed 250 years before the Aztecs existed. Oxford University first opened in 1096, the Aztec period was from 1345-1521. Oxford University is second only to the University of Bologna for continuous operation.
  6. Sharks have been around longer than the rings of Saturn. The rings of Saturn formed no more that 100 million years ago, we know what they are made of, how fast they move, and the rate of decay. Sharks have been around for about 450 million years. We have fossilized records of this.
  7. The Sahara Desert used to be under the ocean, and you can still find seashells in the sand there.
  8. The Goonies go underground on the exact same day (Saturday, Oct. 26, 1985) as Marty travels back in time to 1955.
  9. Ancient Egypt and Wooly Mammoths existed at the same time.
  10. George Washington died in 1799. Dinosaurs were discovered in 1824. George Washington didn’t know dinosaurs existed.
  11. Giraffes have the same number of neck bones as humans and mice.
  12. “OMG” usage can be traced back to 1917.
  13. The Earth is traveling through space at 1.3 million mph relative to the cosmic background radiation. Which means by the time you finished reading this, you’ve travelled roughly 5,420 miles through space.

Check out that Sifaka Lemur, man. Dude has piercing eyes like you read about. These guys are only found on the island of Madagascar, and their claim to fame is that they can jump from tree to tree like a a damn pogo stick. Seriously, I implore you to watch the video below. It’s astonishing. Anywho, Sifaka Lemur.

Animals, and especially dogs. We don’t deserve ’em. Click, scroll, love love animals.

Rats

Posted: August 27, 2022 in Animals, Fun Facts, Nature
Tags: ,

Rats.

rat-cheeseedited

H-e-l-l-o-o-o-o-o!

Listen, I’ve always hated rats. They just creep me out to no end. And I have no hatred towards snakes or spiders, it’s just the rats, man. I’ve had a couple rat experiences that have fed my fears, including the following:

When I was a kid we had a pony named Thunder, who lived in a little barn and field behind our house. At one point it was my job to go out and feed him some oats in the morning. I staggered out, sort of half asleep, and opened the 50-gallon barrel where the oats were kept. I reached in to grab the can to fill so I could feed Thunder, except that wasn’t a can, bro. It was a rat. I briefly touched it, and the next thing I heard was this loud, whiny, screeching sound, which incidentally was coming from me. Oh, the rat made a sound too but mine was much more terrifying. Anywho, that may have been the beginning.

Years later when I was coaching high school hoops I had another freaky encounter. Back then I had to walk from my office way down by the gym all the way up to the high school office in order to call in my stats and interviews to the newspaper and radio and whatnot. Anyway, after making my calls I was heading back down the long hallway, just minding my own business. Suddenly and without warning, a giant rat comes flying around a corner, just hurtling toward me full throttle. That in itself would have been nightmare inducing enough, right? But n-o-o-o-o, there’s more. This rat was jacked up, man. Methinks it had been in the rat poison because this rat wasn’t right. It was bouncing off the walls, rolling over occasionally while every once in awhile standing up on its back feet, wobbling unsteadily. And oh yeah, it was making a noise that sounded as if it emanated from the depths of hell. At that point I froze for a second, then turned and headed for the front exit before this beast leaped up, ripped a vein out of my neck and killed me. Sorry for the dramatics but I was traumatized. Still am.

benThen again, perhaps it all started with the movie “Ben” I saw as a teenager. It was about a lonely kid whose best friend was a rat. That movie turned out rather badly for many involved and may have left a mark or three on me. Now that I think of it, “Ben” was a sequel to “Willard”, which was terrifying in its own right.

Knowing all this, I made the somewhat questionable decision to watch a documentary called “Rats” on the Discovery Channel the other day. And you know what? Rats actually are kind of cool, to an extent. Here are some of the Rat Facts I came across whilst watching the documentary:

Rat Facts:

  • Although rats originated in Asia and Australia, they are now literally everywhere in the world. This is due to their skill at stowing away on ships. Rats are diabolical, man.
  • Rats’ front teeth grow 4½ to 5½ inches each year. Rats wear them down by continuously gnawing on everything around them, including cement, brick, wood, lead pipes, and other small animals. Yikes. On a related note, when I was a kid I found a tiny skull with long, curved fangs. I thought it was something from the ice ages until my dad explained it was a sick rat who couldn’t file down his teeth. Chills, dude.
  • A female rat can mate as many as 500 times with various males during a six-hour period of receptivity—a state she experiences about 15 times per year. Thus a pair of brown rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants in a year if left to breed unchecked. And you thought your cousin Emily was loose.
  • The average rat’s lifespan is 2-3 years.
  • The largest species of rat is the Bosavi woolly rat, which was discovered in 2009 in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea (and doesn’t have a scientific name yet). It is about the size of a cat — 32.2 inches from nose to tail. Nightmare fuel, baby.
  • A rat can tread water for three days and survive being flushed down the toilet. Oh, and it can return to the building via the same route. Watch yo ass, brother.
  • Male rats are called bucks; females are does. Infants are called pups or kittens. A group of rats is called a mischief. A Mischief of Rats. Seems about right.
  • Rats take care of injured and sick rats in their group. See? Rats are compassionate, dude.
  • Rats are extremely clean animals, cleaner than cats, and spend several hours every day grooming themselves and their group members. They are also less likely than cats or dogs to catch and transmit parasites and viruses. This both surprises and pleases me. I always thought rats were greasy, filthy rodents.
  • Without companionship rats tend to become lonely and depressed. Huh. Sorta like me.
  • Rats have excellent memories. Once they learn a navigation route, they won’t forget it. In other words, once they find their way to your bedroom they will always remember.
  • When happy, rats have been observed to chatter or grind their teeth. This is often accompanied by vibrating eyes. Sweet Son of a Mother that’s creepy.
  • Rats make happy “laughter” sounds when they play. Seriously. Take a listen:

Boy, ol Jaak Panksaap has it figured out, huh? On a related note, he seems to like that rat just a little too much.

  • Rats succumb to peer-pressure, just like humans. Brown rats are prone to disregard personal experiences in order to copy the behaviour of their peers. The urge to conform is so strong that they will even choose to eat unpalatable food if they are in the company of other rats who are eating it. Reminds me of junior high kids.
  • A rat can fall as far as 50-feet and land uninjured. That’s superhuman, dude.
  • Although very curious animals, rats are also shy, and prefer to run away than confront a potential threat.
  • Like dogs, rats can easily learn their name. “Here Ratty Ratty!”ratname
  • A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.
  • Rats’ tails help them to balance, communicate and regulate their body temperature.
  • It is extremely rare for a human to get rabies from a rat.
  • The rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are thought to possess characteristics which are associated with rats, namely: creativity, intelligence, honesty, ambition and generosity. See? The Chinese knew.

So there ya go. Seems rats aren’t the demons from hell I thought they were. Heck, I may take one for a pet soon.

Nah.

Alright loyal readers, sit back and enjoy a trip back to yesteryear, a journey in time if you will. Those of you under the age of 45 may not understand a lot of what you’re about to read, but rest assured you may find it interesting anyway. What we’re about to discuss are memories of days gone by, places that once existed that have since vanished into the mists of time. So sit back, read, and see if this takes you back to a better place.

Now that I’ve lured you in with my poetic prose, let me explain exactly what I’m talking about. I was talking with a friend the other day and we started discussing establishments around our area that were at one time popular but for whatever reasons ended up shutting down. On a related note, my readers from other parts of the USA and beyond will have zero idea what the hell I’m talking about.

But enough chit-chat. Let us begin. Do you remember these?

Burger Boy Food-a-Rama

Anybody? The home of the twirling, or perhaps whirling, satellite? Used to sit in front of Central 11Center? I used to love that place. And remember when the sniper opened fire on the place and shot a woman going through the drive-thru? Good times. But seriously, that actually happened. Wait. Now that I think of it, was that a Burger Chef? No, I think it was a Burger Boy. Am I confused? I’m getting a headache.

The White Cow

The White Cow was a restaurant on High Street on the north end of town. They had a cool white cow on the sign, oddly enough. They served breakfast too, I believe. My uncle Myrl used to eat there every day. True story.

Schachne’s

We’re going old school now. Schachne’s was a department store in downtown Chillicothe that had entrances on both Paint Street and Second Streets (I thought but have since been corrected in the comments). I recall going in there as a kid. They had these wooden floors that would creak as you walked on them. The store had two floors and even had an elevator. I can still remember how it smelled. Alas, the strip malls came to be and Schachne’s died a painful death. Sad, really.

The Big Wheel Saloon

The Big Wheel was a great little bar on Paint Street. Unfortunately, it seems the little neighborhood bar may be a thing of the past. You know, places where you go in with the sole purpose of having a drink or two and nothing else? Nowadays a place has to serve food or have TVs and stuff. The Big Wheel had none of that, and it was perfect.

1Sambo’s

The inappropriately named Sambo’s was a restaurant on Bridge Street, where Frisch’s now stands. Sambo’s was an all-night establishment that had great pancakes. It was a staple for those of us who had been out and wanted something to eat before heading home. For those who don’t know, the restaurant was themed after Little Black Sambo, a character in a racist children’s book that was written in 1899. Hence the inappropriateness. Anywho, other than the blatant racist overtones it was a nice place to eat a stack of pancakes. On a related note, that last sentence has probably never been written before.

The Silver Lady

The Silver Lady was a little bar on East Main that used to have live music, cold beer and a distinct lack of atmosphere. One of our favorite local bands, The Knapp Brothers, used to play there a lot and we’d go to hear them play tunes like “East Bound & Down,” “I’ll Fix Your Flat Tire, Myrl” and other country rock tunes. Good memories of that place, man.

Tastee Freeze

Back in the 7o’s the Tastee Freeze used to sit where Giovanni’s sits now. As most of you know it was a Dairy Queen type of place, and it got a lot of our business because it was on the west end of town. I spent a lot of nights sitting in a booth at Tastee Freeze, drinking a vanilla shake, contemplating life and how I’d somehow lost Myrna Grossman back in 8th grade.

Sam’s Place

Sam’s Place was a huge bar/concert venue that sat off Route 23 a few miles south of Chillicothe. This was back when those huge bars were popular, like Gilley’s in Urban Cowboy. Sam’s Place had great southern Ohio bands like Black Leather Touch and SD Kite play there. There were constant fights in the parking lot, as I recall. Not involving me, of course. The building still stands and houses a carpet business or something. But man, if those walls could talk . . .

Woolworth’s

Ah, the 10-cent store! It was in Central Center and had one of those little restaurants inside with a soda fountain bar and spinning red stools. They also 11111served Coke Floats and had the best grilled cheese sandwiches known to man. Dad used to get his hair cut nearby once a week and I’d head to Woolworth’s to buy a few 45s at 72¢ each. For you youngsters out there, 45s were small records that had an A and B side. I couldn’t wait to get those records home to play them. Great times indeed.

Reider’s Drugstore

Reider’s was a great drugstore (I think on Church Street maybe?) that had one of those soda fountains similar to the one in Woolworth’s. They had all sorts of candy and other assorted goodies that could make a 10-year old kid’s head swim. I had an aunt and uncle that lived down the street, hence my familiarity with Reider’s.

Fiesta, Torch and Moonlight Drive-Ins

Kids have no idea what they’re missing nowadays. The demise of drive-in theaters is simply tragic. So many great nights were spent there. Everything was better at the drive-in, including the pizza. I used to love it when people would start honking their horns as it started to get dark, demanding that the movies begin. Our area used to have three, yes three, drive-ins.

On the north side of town was The Fiesta, on the south side was The Torch, and earlier there was a drive-in on the east side of town called The Moonlight. There’s still a cool drive-in up in Lancaster that I highly recommend.

NCL

Who remembers this little restaurant? The letters NCL stood for Nice Clean Lunch if I remember correctly. I used to stop in there a couple times a week for a sandwich. Nice little place to grab lunch. Oh, and it was clean.

The Office Lounge

Remember The Office Lounge? It was a little underground bar that sat below the street at the corner of . . . Paint and Second perhaps? It was tiny and very intimate, and always seemed damp to me. It was a nice little bar if you wanted a quiet getaway.

The Adena and Majestic Theaters

11Once upon a time, children, Chillicothe had two places where you could go watch a movie. Incidentally, both were old, classic theaters that weren’t originally built for the silver screen. They had balconies and were beautifully ornate structures that were works of art in their own right. Just wonderful places to sit, relax, enjoy some popcorn and a box of Milk Duds* while watching a movie.  The Majestic, by the way, is still in operation on a limited basis.

*I have seldom watched a movie in a theater without enjoying a box of Duds. It’s tradition, kids.

Johnny’s Drive-In

Johnny’s was an after-game fixture back in the day. They had those pull-up spots where you ordered through speakers and a waitress would come out with your 111111food so you could eat in the car. Of course, you could always go inside and sit in a cool booth if you wanted. They had great fried chicken, tenderloins and strawberry pie. Today there stands a Taco Bell were Johnny’s used to be. Sigh.

There were other places that my sisters used to talk about, but they were a bit before my time. I’ll have to rely on some of my older readers to tell you about Ater’s Lake and The Sugar Shack.

On a more personal note, there were a few more places that I remember fondly from growing up. If you were a kid in Bourneville in the 60’s you’ll remember Homer Ward’s Sohio Station, Lance’s Store, Ted Wisecup’s Sunoco Station, Springer’s Store, and the Texaco and Sinclair Gas Stations. And who can forget the old church where the Dairy Hut now stands? Oh, and I recall a place for high school kids in Bainbridge called The Bearcat’s Den or something like that?

I know I’ve forgotten a slew of establishments, and I’m counting on you guys to remind me of them. Please understand that I realize I could be off on some of my recollections, and if so feel free to correct me. After all, it was a long time ago.

So, loyal readers, do you remember these? And what have I forgotten?

We’ve all had teachers that have had significant impacts on our lives, haven’t we? The best teachers are the ones that really care about their students. Not just certain students, but all of them. And kids can tell if a teacher doesn’t like their job, right? Students can see right through a phony teacher in a heartbeat.

That said, a few teachers in my life have had a tremendous impact on me in more ways than one. After a lot of thought, here are the teachers that have meant the most to me . . .

My MotherMom

My late mother, Kathryn Shoemaker, was one of the best teachers I’ve ever known. There are many, many people who will tell you how she changed their lives. Mom was an old school disciplinarian who was the epitome of “tough love.” I remember the summer before my 5th grade year when mom took me aside to tell me she was going to be my teacher. I was thrilled! Mom was going to be my teacher! I’d have it made! She paddled me the third week of school. In retrospect, I now know why she did it. She wanted to show the rest of the class that there would be no favorites. And oh, by the way? I deserved it. From my mother I learned to treat every kid in my class equally. Family background, previous history, none of that mattered. Because of Mom I always judged kids from the moment they set foot in my class. Everything that had happened before was erased and everyone got a fresh start. If my mother hadn’t been a teacher there’s slim chance I would have ever had the desire to teach, simple as that. I’ve written a lot about Mom on this site, but only because she deserved it. She was an incredible teacher.

My Sister Karen

My late sister Karen was an amazing teacher as well. I don’t think I ever told her this, but I learned a very important lesson from her. That lesson was this – my sister never talked down to her students. Ever. She could be teaching a group of 3rd graders and it was as if she was talking to a group of her peers. And you know what? Students respond to that, especially hers. Nothing makes a kid shut down quicker than an adult treating them like they’re a kid. Sounds funny but it’s true. Every good teacher I’ve ever known has that same quality. And my sister truly cared about her students and was genuine with them as well. Kids can see right through a phony, and Sis was never, ever that, believe me. Oh, and by the way, students always loved my sister and her class.

Mrs. Arrington

I had Mrs. A as a 1st grade teacher and again as a high school English teacher, which I would guess is pretty rare. Mrs. A always and unequivocally believed in me. When I was being an idiot in high school (which was often) it was always she who took me aside and told me I was better than I was acting. She always saw something that a lot of others didn’t seem to see. Somehow, she saw the potential in me and pointed it out to me many, many times. She had every right to give up on me but she refused to do so. In turn, as a teacher I’ve tried to carry on that philosophy – stick with every kid no matter how badly they’re behaving or how poorly they’re doing in the classroom. Mrs. A also pretty much helped me graduate, which I chronicled here. Mrs. A passed away a couple years ago, but her influence lives on.

Mrs. Ritchie

Mrs. Ritchie taught me, among other things, to look at life’s Big Picture. She always spoke of living in the moment, to not let life pass you by. Sort of a precursor to Lennon’s “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” quote. And her classes were fun. Hey, you can learn and have fun at the same time! It was something I never forgot and did my best to emulate throughout my career. I already told you the story of “A Clap in the Face” and that illustrates Mrs. Ritchie perfectly. I was asked to read that story at her funeral, and I was very touched and honored to be asked to do it. Mrs. Ritchie’s class was one of the highlights of my school experience, and it was because she taught me things way beyond the course of study.

Mrs. Rannells

Mrs. Rannells was my mentor during my first year of teaching. As you might expect I was nervous, anxious, and had a lot of questions. Mrs. Rannells was always there for me with patience, advice and a kind word of encouragement. I think she was a little bemused at my teaching style, but she was always there with a positive word. She probably doesn’t even remember this, but she once told me this: “The kids like you. You’ve already won half the battle.” That gave me confidence to be myself in my classroom. I also watched as she calmly dealt with problems and never got too excited or upset with her students. I don’t know if a kid ever got to her or under her skin, but if they did she sure didn’t show it. Mrs. Rannells had a similar demeanor and style to to mom, and she was the perfect mentor for me that first year. She set a tone for the rest of my teaching career, and I’ve never forgotten that.

There’s another common denominator among the five teachers I just wrote about, and that is that every one of them had complete control of their classrooms. They rarely, if ever, sent a kid to the office. They handled their own problems without giving up and sending a kid to the principal. That’s classroom management folks, and believe me when I say it’s the mark of a great teacher. Because of these teachers you could count the number of students I sent to the office on one hand over a 30-year period.

Oh, there were other educators who had a great impact on me, teachers like Beverly Gray and principals like John Miller, Bob Sigler, and of course the greatest of all, Jigger. But as far as classroom teachers go, those five meant the most to me.

I’m not sure a lot of young teachers understand how powerful an impact they’re having on their students. A simple statement that might be inconsequential to you might become imbedded in a kid’s head forever. Trust me, I’ve had former students repeat something I said 20-years ago that I’d long forgotten about. It’s amazing really.

Historian Henry Adams may have said it best:

“A teacher affects eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.”

And that, my friends, is a fact.

The school year is starting this week. Well, at least for some of you. Not for me of course. Have I mentioned I’m retired? B-W-A-H-A-A-H-A-A-H-A-A! But I’ll try and not rub it in too much. Ah, screw it. I can’t lie. While I’m looking forward to my retirement from teaching, the truth is I’ll miss it.

A lot.

But anyway, with the kids returning this week I thought it might be a good time to give my advice to future teachers. Hey, I don’t claim to have all the answers so you can take it or leave it, but I do have a little experience ya know. I had to learn something in 30+ years, right?

Right?

Let us proceed with my pearls of (hopefully) wisdom . . .

  1. Be yourself. By this I mean don’t try and emulate your favorite teacher, your mother, your coach, etc. While you can learn from others, you have to stay true to who you are. If you’re a phony the kids are going to see right through you, but if you’re honest the kids will appreciate it and respect you for it.
  2. Teaching is the best discipline. Yep, the best way to avoid problems in the classroom is to simply keep the kids engaged. Teach. Keep them interested and focused. Don’t hand out a bunch of worksheets or quit early. Downtime leads to trouble, and for God’s sake don’t let your students line up by the door with 5-minutes left in class. That’s never good. A couple years ago I had a kid who’d had trouble focusing in years prior, and of course this led to behavior issues. Anyway, he was doing fine for me and during a meeting with his mother the principal asked him why he paid attention in my class. His answer of “It’s sort of hard not to” was probably the best compliment a kid ever gave me.
  3. If you don’t know, say so. You don’t have to pretend to be some all-knowing brainiac because you aren’t. Again, the kids will see right through you. It’s perfectly alright to say, “Hey, good question. I don’t know the answer to that one. Let’s look it up.” That’s what Smart Boards are for, folks. In addition, admit it when you’re wrong.
  4. Never, ever, talk down to your students. The best teachers I’ve ever known are the ones who just talk to their students as if they’re talking to an equal. Sure, kids need ripped from time-to-time but it’s best just to keep them on your level, not below you.
  5. Be prepared to fail. Try as we might, we can’t save ’em all. You can’t let one kid drag down the entire class. And remember, when you make all those grandiose plans on Sunday evening? There’s a good chance they’ll all go straight to hell by Tuesday afternoon. Be flexible.
  6. Don’t have a preconceived opinion of your students. Don’t listen to a teacher who had some kid last year tell you what a horrible child he is. Let all of your students start the year with a clean slate, and tell them that the first day. You might be surprised as to how they respond.
  7. Manage your classroom. Want respect from your principal? Don’t send a student to the office every time he or she looks at you funny. I actually had this conversation with a fellow teacher after laughing when she’d sent a kid to the office because he kept forgetting to bring a pencil to class. Teacher: “Oh, and what would YOU have done?” Me: “Uh, give him a pencil.” See, you can buy a box of 72 pencils for $5.99. Hell, give the kid a pencil every day. He’s winning the battle otherwise. It ain’t Rocket Science, folks.
  8. Trust your students. I always believed that, with students, to receive trust you have to give it first. I used to pick the so-called “bad” kid early in the year to perform some task that required some level of trust, like maybe taking the lunch money to the office or something. The point is, when the kid performed said task without hightailing it to parts unknown you’d built a level of trust. Sure, if he failed miserably you dealt with it but if he met your expectations you had something to build on. In addition, listen to your students. Ask them what’s working and what they like and dislike about how you’re teaching. They’ll tell you the truth.
  9. Treat your co-workers with respect. In particular custodians, cooks and secretaries. They know what’s going on in and around the school. You can learn a lot from them. Learn every name in the building and call them by their name. In addition, these folks can get things done for you when many others cannot. I always assigned different “trash ninjas” to pick up at the end of the day. I’d yell “trash ninjas!” and they’d leap and bound around the room gathering up random pencils, paper and whatnot. Fun but efficient, and the custodians will love you for it. And secretaries can take care of you and help you out more than you could ever imagine. Trust me on that one.
  10. Teach beyond the test. I know, you’re supposed to be teaching directly to the test. Screw that. There are going to be times when you have one of those “teaching moments” where every kid in the room is focused on you and what you’re saying, and it may have absolutely nothing to do with your Course of Study or Content Standards. Take advantage of that focus and go with it. The state has been trying to take creativity out of the classroom for years. Keep fighting the good fight. Don’t let ’em do it.
  11. If you don’t enjoy teaching, please do something else. Listen, I’m not mad at ya if you don’t like teaching, but this isn’t a regular job we’re talking about here. I mean, you can hate your job selling Veg-O-Matics and the only person who’ll suffer from it is Ron Popeil (I know, that’s sort of an obscure reference but if you don’t get it search it up on The Goggle). My point is that, as a teacher, you’re affecting a lot of young minds and attitudes. Don’t let your unhappiness with the vocation you chose carry over to the classroom. And don’t bitch about your job. Believe me, there are a lot of people who would love to work 8:00 AM-3:00 PM with weekends, holidays and summers off. Don’t be one of those teachers who breed resentment among those who aren’t lucky enough to do what you do.

So there ya go. And remember, I don’t claim to have all the answers. Lord knows I screwed up as much as anybody. But remember this, new teachers – you’re going to want to quit about 17-times during your first year.

Don’t do it.

Trust me, it’ll all be worth it. Every time a former student comes up to you on the street and mentions something you told them years ago, something that may have seemed small to you at the time but obviously had a lasting impact, something that left an indelible and positive mark on a kid, well, it makes it all worthwhile.

Have a great year.

I got into a little back-and forth the other day with a couple of teachers who were moaning about school starting, and I was basically just making fun of them for complaining about what they do for a living. In the end I threatened them with this blog. So hey, I gotta follow through, right? I can’t go back on my word.

In addition, after I made a positive post about returning to school somebody asked who I was sucking up to. I know she was joking, but anybody who knows me understands I’m not real good at the “sucking up” thing. That attitude has actually gotten me in trouble a time or two with my superiors.

So fellow teachers, you can roll your eyes and shake your head because I don’t give a damn. I love teaching. I just do. Always have, from Day 1. As a matter of fact, I’ll issue this challenge. If you can find a student I’ve had in class since 1984 that can honestly say they believed I didn’t love teaching I’ll buy you dinner. Not even kidding. Not every kid has liked me, but I’m pretty certain they knew I was having fun every day.

I must also tell you I work with a bunch of great teachers who I’m pretty sure love what they do. Otherwise why would they do it? Yeah, the summers are great but if you hated teaching that alone wouldn’t make it worth it, trust me. Anyway, I’m not criticizing the jobs they’re doing. Just consider this some good natured teasing about the whiny, “we have to go back to school” garbage I heard the past few days. If it upsets you I’m sorry, but not really. If it pisses you off maybe you need to look in the mirror. Seriously, if you don’t like teaching please go do something that doesn’t influence a bunch of kids. You know, like be a park ranger or something. Nobody to talk back to you but the bears.

Oh, of course I’ve had my days where I’ve complained about a certain kid, administrator or parent. But I defy anyone to name an instance where I complained about going to school and doing what I do. That doesn’t make me special or anything, I just consider myself very very lucky.

Perhaps it’s because before I became a teacher I had several jobs, both full-time and during the summer, that have helped me to appreciate what I do now. I started teaching a little later than some, at the age of 28. Full disclosure: I was a complete idiot from about the age of 16-25. Because of this I graduated 60th out of the 80 in my high school class and I flunked out of Ohio University after only one pathetic year. So, from the age of 20 to 26 I took on a variety of jobs. Among other things, these jobs included:

  • Construction. I almost died falling from the 2nd floor to a basement in a house we were building once. I wasn’t real, shall we say, focused.
  • Cleaning bathrooms at a state park. Just as fun as you’re imagining. Advice: Always yell before going in the ladies side.
  • Lifeguard. Hey, nobody drowned on my watch. I think.
  • Roofing houses. Whenever my room at school gets too hot I remember those August days on the roof. Mercy.
  • Garbage Man at Rocky Fork Lake. Actually a pretty fun job because you got to ride around the lake all day. On a negative note, those dirty diapers were a bitch.
  • Barber. Yep, I used to cut hair and I think I was pretty good at it. For whatever reason it wasn’t fulfilling for me though. Maybe because I don’t care for most grown-ups?
  • The Mead Paper Company. I worked in the cutters and rewinders for almost 2-years. The money was great but I hated it. Those 12-hour days and trick work just weren’t for me.

Anyway, my brother-in-law Jigger heard me complaining one day and basically told me to get my ass back to college and do what I’d always wanted to do – teach. After all, my mom and sister both taught for over 30-years each and loved it. Both were amazing teachers. Anyway, to my first wife’s credit she took a job and I went back to school (after I graduated and got a teaching job she did the same).

From that point on I never looked back. From the day I stepped foot in that junior high classroom at Greenfield McClain in the late summer of 1984 I’ve never dreamed of doing anything else. Hell, at some of my other jobs I’d go days without laughing. For the last 30-years I’ve never made it to the front door, let alone my classroom, without some kid cracking me up. What can I say? I love kids. They’re idiots. Some say that’s why I relate to them, and who am I to argue?

I know this is a little irrational and sort of makes no sense, but I actually hate it when I hear a teacher talk about “going to work” or “getting off at 3:00”. Too me it’s just not a job in the literal sense. Whenever I hear a teacher speak of “going to work” I always think, “Huh? Are you remodeling a kitchen or something? Putting in a fence row? Laying some asphalt?” But that’s just me. Because of this I always say “going to school” rather than “work.” And I never “got off.” I just went home.

Remember a few years ago when Senate Bill 5 was up for vote? Remember there was a bit of a backlash against teachers? I think complaining about returning to school after 3-months off contributes a little to that type of thinking. What do you think the average person working in a factory, laying blacktop in 95 degree weather, or guarding convicted murderers 12-months a year with a 2-week vacation feels when they hear you complaining about going back to school after your summer break? I know everyone has a choice about what they do for a living, but I’m pretty sure they don’t give a rat’s ass about your schedule.

I know and understand the normal person doesn’t comprehend the problems we face as teachers. We’re the most underpaid and underappreciated professionals in the world, I get that. The expectations are sky high. The average person doesn’t see that our salary is for 9-months spread over 12-months and we’re not actually paid for doing nothing in the summer. They don’t see the after-school work we put in or the paperwork and pressure of state testing that is put upon us, and the crap we put up with a few irrational parents. Still, a lot of people would kill for our jobs. You know why? Because even considering the negatives I mentioned, the positives more than outweigh them. By a lot. The rewards earned by a teacher are something the average person will never get to receive. It’s something unique and special, something to be cherished.

I know that sounds corny and sappy, but when a former student tells me on social media or in person that I inspired them in some small way it makes me feel good. Really, really good. You see, I can still drive by one of those houses I helped build and it’s a nice feeling. But when a 33-year old soldier tells me I changed his life forever back in the 6th grade, well, you just can’t put a price on that, now can you? Again, it may sound silly but if that was the only kid I helped it in my career it would be worth it, right? For that reason alone I feel so very lucky to have taught for the past 30-years.

Imagine you could start over and choose a new profession. Anything you like, maybe own your own business, something where you’d make a boatload of money. Would you do it? Would you start over doing something else? Lord knows I’d change a million things regarding my personal life, but when it comes to teaching I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.

I can’t imagine doing anything else.