A TRIP TO ALSACE

Along the French and German border, a photo gallery

Last week we made no stop at the Sunday Night Blog because we were stopping at sites in France while visiting friends.  I have made similar trips in recent years to sites in the Alsace region of France.  The reason for these trips is not just the scenery or historic sites.  It was something even more important.  This was explained on SERENDIPITY last Sunday in “Where Would You Travel?”

The trip went from Chicago to New York with a five hour lay over.  I explained to my friend that spending vacation with him was the only reason I would spend 5 hours in JFK airport.  From there it was on to Frankfurt, Germany and a two hour lay over waiting for the Lufthansa bus to Strasbourg, France.  The bus arrived near the Strasbourg train station two and one half hours later.  There my friend collected me for our trip back to his town.

You can go to Paris and connect by train to Strasbourg.  The trip is just as long and I did not believe the connection would be as easy.  Now there is a train from Charles De Gaulle airport direct to the Strasbourg station which means I would arrive at the same spot.  They did not have this in past years so perhaps it is a better way to go.  I will let price and connection time determine which airport I use next time I go to Alsace.  Whenever that may be will not be soon enough while good times with friends await.

Click on any image for a larger view and go through the gallery.

In The News

This and That from Here and There

In an era when too many people get their “news” from facebook and twitter postings, the loss of a real reporter is sad indeed.  It is especially sad when the reporter is working on an investigative piece for 60 Minutes.  Bob Simon tragically died in a car accident this past week.  He was a passenger in a livery vehicle that got into an accident.  The two drivers were not seriously injured.
The Bill Moyers web site ran two interesting videos as a way of telling us about the journalism of Simon. When Simon was based in the Middle East he questioned the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda that others were trying to make. Simon also shows regret he did not more thoroughly investigate the Bush administrations claims regarding 9/11 in his 2002 story. We now know he got the facts while the talking heads were spewing opinions on the Sunday morning talk shows.  He was a real reporter who lived to see an era when so-called news people are only offering opinions.

Gary Owens also died this past week at the age of 80.  He had a long and extensive career in radio and television.  He was the voice of many cartoon characters and announcer to many shows.  If you can picture him in your mind without looking for his picture on the internet, then you probably know him from his best known role as announcer on the ground breaking television show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In (1968 to 1973).  The entertainment website Variety lists his many credits here.

Jon Stewart is doing something that David Letterman and Craig Ferguson are doing, walking away from highly successful television jobs.  At age 67, it might not be a surprise that Letterman has had enough of the grind, but Stewart is just 52 and reigns supreme on The Comedy Channel.  Can you remember who hosted the Daily Show before Stewart?  Probably not.  Stewart helped give the channel a wide audience and launched the careers of a variety of “reporters.”  Someone will have big shoes to fill there.

Major League Baseball would like to get more run scoring and speed up the game. The obvious problem is the fact that those two ideas did not go together very well.  One area of discussion is the strike zone.  Now that MLB has umpires who are calling the actual strike zone more consistently, MLB doesn’t like the result.  Yahoo Sports reported the story:

Sam Smith had a big night at the Grammy awards taking home 4 of the little trophies, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year (How are these different?) for “Stay With Me.” Does it not seem strange that the song won any award when it is a rip off of Tom Petty’s 1989 “I Won’t Back Down.”  Petty’s lawyers didn’t back down and they reached a settlement back in October which did not come out until January.  Now Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, formerly of ELO, get song writing credits.  Smith also had to hand over royalties to Petty and Lynne as co-authors. At least Petty took the high road in his comments.  “About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, a frequent target of gay rumors on some entertainment sites, the ones I read anyway, married Sophie Hunter on Valentine’s day.

Alex Rodriguez has rejoined the Yankees and will make 61 million over the next 3 years.  Do you think he will sue the Yankees for the additional bonus money they are going to refuse to pay him if he meets certain milestone achievements?

Hunter Hayes had a good week.  No, he did not win a Grammy for Invisible, but he did get to host some “premiere” Grammy events online prior to the broadcast and he did get to be in the company of big name stars.  We talked about Hunter last Sunday on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com) and you can find that article here.

Here’s the Tom Petty rock classic.  If you know the Sam Smith song, you will find you know this one too:

Notice the big name stars backing up Petty on the video.

SNOWBOUND

After another snow storm here, it seems a good time to reblog this. Thanks to Marilyn Armstrong for running it last year at this time on Serendipity.

By Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

As far as Ralph was concerned this was the worst winter ever.  There were years with more snow, that’s for sure.  There were years that brought colder days.  There was never a winter that brought one snow after another followed by one arctic blast after another. Memory had no recollection of this many days below zero.  There were several days pipes were frozen at Ralph’s house, leaving him without water to the kitchen.  After that, every sub-zero day meant water would be left running to prevent from freezing.  Towels and throw rugs were tossed against the bottoms of exterior doors to prevent drafts.  Humidifiers were used to make the house more comfortable and the gas bill…  Well, Ralph did not want to think about that.

75-BigSnowHPCR-7While he hated every day of it, the neighbors might have thought otherwise.  Ralph was always out shoveling the snow that fell or that drifted across the sidewalk in high winds.  Even when the temperature fell below zero, he was out doing something for a little while.  For some years, there were teenagers to be bribed, but this year there were none around so Ralph was resigned to doing the work himself.  When he finished the walks, he would shovel around his car and brush the snow from the windows.  Sometimes a snow plow would push a ridge of snow against the car and then it was time to dig some more.  This winter, Ralph was a busy man.

After he finished the work by his house, he frequently walked down the street about 5 houses and shoveled around an old brown Pontiac.  Some days, he could not do it due to subzero temperature, but when he could he went down there.  No one else on the block seemed to know whose car it was that got so much attention.  Now and then it was moved and parked back in the same area, but when the brutal weather hit, it just stayed put.

And yet, Ralph walked down and cleaned it off, just in case.  It was not Ralph’s car.  He never drove it in his life.  A few on the block might have wondered why he shoveled around the car and cleaned it with great regularity.  It was just something that Ralph felt inside he had to do.

Certainly there were some that felt that a man of Ralph’s age should not be out shoveling snow in such extreme weather.  It was winters like this that made Ralph understand why people retired and moved to Florida or Arizona.  As a matter of fact, Ralph might have retired and moved to Florida on his last birthday when he turned 62, but the pension he paid into for decades lost most of its value 6 years earlier.  It was reduced to 25 per cent of what he had.  He knew he would never make that up in the short time left before he would have to retire.  He just hoped when he did, the meager pension and meager social security would be enough to live on.  It certainly would not be enough to send him to Florida.

One particularly frosty day, Ralph arrived home to some fresh snow on the ground, took his usual parking spot and went right to work. When he finished his walkways and parking area, he was tempted to go in, but decided to walk down to the brown Pontiac anyway.  It was weeks since the car last moved and no one had seen the driver.  Nevertheless, Ralph was on the job, cleaning off the car and all around it.  By the time he was satisfied with his work, his fingers and toes were numb and almost in pain.  As he started to walk away he noticed an old man come carefully down the stairs of a brick 2 flat house and walk toward the Pontiac.  He had a decidedly puzzled look upon his face.  Ralph tossed his brush and shovel aside.

“Hello, Mr. Schuman,” Ralph called out.  “How are you today?”

“Cold,” Mr. Schuman replied with an odd smile that he had acquired whenever he was unsure of what was going on.  “And who are you again, young man?”

“It’s Ralphie, sir.  Ralphie Combs.  I had you for Economics in Senior Year at the high school.”

“Oh,” Schuman said.  “What year was that?”

“I guess it was quite a few years ago, but I remember it well,” Ralphie beamed, as he recalled his senior year.

“Were you one of those boys that I put in the front of the class so I could keep an eye on you?  You look like one of those boys,” Mr. Schuman said with a suspicious glance.

Ralphie laughed.  “Yes, sir.  That was me, sir”  At that Mr. Schuman laughed too.

“Well I was expecting a lot of work on the car today, but all the snow is gone.  I am certain it was piled on there earlier when I looked out the window.”

“It must have been the winds, Mr. Schuman, sir.  The wind was very strong this afternoon and has blown a lot of it down the street.”

“It’s a good thing, because I have to run some errands and shoveling snow is too much for me.  I guess I was pretty lucky with that wind.”

“Yes, sir, I think you were.”

“Well, I have to go young man, it is too cold to stand and chat.  Now you be good.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Schuman.  I will be good.”

The old teacher got in the old car and drove away.  That few minutes of conversation was the warmest Ralphie felt all winter.

SNOW HATE – By Rich Paschall

Rich Paschall:

Another Harold! I wonder how often I used that name. Since we are in the midst of a blizzard here, I thought it would be a good day to reblog this.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A NO H8 story by Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog

The door bell startled Harold.  He was not expecting anyone on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January.  He moved quickly to the front door and opened it to find his teenage grandson.

“Hello grandpa,” the boy blurted, “I came to shovel your snow.”  At that Billy grabbed a shovel from just inside the front door and went immediately to work.  Harold closed the door and watched him through the glass in the door.  Billy attacked the snow like he was angry at every single flake that fell from the sky.  The look on his face and the force at which he threw each shovelful of snow concerned Harold.

75-BigSnowHPCR-9

He went directly to the phone and called Billy’s parents.

“Hello,” came the voice of Harold’s daughter-in-law.  Madeleine was sweet, nice looking and ultimately clueless.  Her small social circle was her main…

View original 1,116 more words

I AM HOME – By Rich Paschall

Rich Paschall:

One of my favorites from a little over a year ago.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall

The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.

96-Rockers-NKAfter he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyper active dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee.  George had to do all the…

View original 887 more words

Beyond Freedom of Speech

#JeSuisAhmed

You probably would not like Charlie.  Most people in America would think him crude and insensitive.  They would brand him a racist and bigot.  They would likely call for a boycott of him.  Now, while they know him not, they come to his defense.

Few people really know the French satiric publication known as Charlie Hebdo.  Prior to the attack on an editorial staff meeting that left a dozen dead, few outside of France knew of the weekly.  They may have heard about it in the news due to threats against the paper, but in truth, the paper was not widely read.  The circulation was reported to be about 60,000, some claim only 30,000. With the world-wide publicity following the terrorist attack, the demand for the paper skyrocketed by people who did not know it.  The paper’s run has been translated into 16 languages and increased to seven million copies according to Yahoo News.  That is astounding for a paper that regularly pokes fun at one of the world’s great religions and it leader, the prophet Mohammad.

The ironic twist to the story is instead of shutting down the publication that insults Muslims, approximately 1.6 billion people on earth, it has popularized the paper and dramatically increased its circulation.  While the increase will certainly die down, the furor will not.  The debate over the content will continue and perhaps increase.  In fact, today France 24 reports, “Almost half of those in France believe cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed – like those printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – should not be published.”  Charlie is not so likeable when you get to know him.

As the so-called defenders of free speech, from nations where journalists are jailed, gathered in Paris for a photo-op, Muslims around the world must have been wondering why it is OK to insult their religion so openly, while talk against other religions would not be tolerated in those same countries.  It is a double standard of perplexing proportion.

If a small publication in America put Jesus on its cover in ways that mocked Him and the Christian Churches of the world, there would be a major political and social media firestorm.  People would be protesting outside the publication.  Calls for a boycott would be loud and long.  Leaders would be on all the talk shows demanding such a publication be forced out of business.  That is what we think of such “free Speech.”  It is not OK to mock our God, our prophets and our saints, but some think it is OK to mock other religions.  The type of lewd and disrespectful drawings Charlie Hebdo is known for would never be tolerated here.

The 80-year-old co-founder of Charlie Hebdo, Henri Roussel, thinks the editor of the publication, killed in the terrorist attack, went too far in his insults of Muslims.  “What made him feel the need to drag the team into overdoing it?” Roussel asked (in French) in a letter he wrote and published in the French magazine, Nouvel Obs.  He called the now deceased editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, brilliant, but stubborn. Speaking of the risks taken by the paper, Roussel states, “For years, decades even, it was a provocation, and then one day the provocation turns against us.”

Following the show of support by people worldwide who had no idea of the lewd and provocative drawings published in recent years, counter demonstrations erupted in Muslim nations across the globe.  Many have been killed and churches burned in response.  Certainly, we are right to condemn the violence, no matter what the provocation, but we must ask ourselves an important question.  How would we react to anything we would take to be insulting to our church, our prophets and our god?  Moreover, how do you think the extreme Christian right would react?

While we value freedom of speech, we must also recognize that such provocations will over time bring a response.  One would hope that the response would also be by cartoon or editorial, but how often can you attack what others hold dear?  When should sensitivity and political correctness take hold?  When should good judgment and common sense tell you that you have crossed the line from freedom of speech, to racism and bigotry?

Another tragic irony to the story of Charlie Hebdo is the murder of police officer Ahmed Merabet.  He was on site at the publication when the terrorist attack took place.  Ahmed was himself a Muslim and died trying to protect those who would regularly and provocatively insult his religion.  He was assigned to protect freedom of speech in the 11th Arrondissement (district) of Paris.  He tried to do just that.  Many of us would defend the right of others to freely publish satire and cartoons, even if we do not agree with its content.  In that regard we can adopt another phrase.  It is not as popular as “Je suis Charlie,” but it stands for those who would die defending his freedom.  Therefore, I am Ahmed.

 

 

HASHTAG: I am Charlie

#JeSuisCharlie

I am CharliePerhaps you have seen it trending on social media or reported in the press.  People have placed the French phrase on facebook and Twitter as well as many other sites, using the hashtag method so that it can be found by others.  Some have changed their facebook, twitter, Instagram, tumblr or other social media profile pictures to a plain black box with the words written out in white letters, “Je Suis Charlie.”  French NBA players wore black t-shirts with the same phrase in white during their pre-game warm-ups.  Simply speaking, the phrase went viral.

During the past week criminal extremists assaulted a French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 at an editorial meeting including two police officers.  The publication was fire bombed in 2011.  The editor, Stephane Charbonnier, had received death threats in the past and was actually under police protection.  That did not stop the brutal attack.  In the two days that followed, a massive hunt for the attackers took place.  By the time the criminals were hunted down, seventeen people had died.

Place de la Republique in central Paris  Photo by Ian Langson/EPA

Place de la Republique in central Paris Photo by Ian Langson/EPA

If you can recall how people in America felt after the World Trade Center bombings in 2001, then you will have some idea how the French reacted to such a brutal crime in the beloved capital of Paris.  People were angry, of course, but they had a larger message to spread.  Within hours people took to the streets of Paris, Lyon and other areas around France to show the world they were “not afraid.”  Many brought a powerful weapon along and held it up in defiance of those who would attack free speech.  They had pens or pencils and held them up in tribute.

As the manhunt unfolded across the region of the French capital, rallies of support took place in cities around the world, including New York and Washington, DC.  People appeared in front of French embassies holding up signs stating “Je Suis Charlie.”  At the Embassy of France in Madrid, people also held the signs “REPORTEROS SIN FRONTERAS por la libertad de informacion” (Reporters without borders for freedom of press).  Even as they stood in silent tribute, the crowds expressed the message that they were not to be silenced.

One of the things that terrorist hope to accomplish is to spread fear among its enemies, in other words, to terrorize them.  People across France and around the world have largely rejected this with a strong show of support for the French publication as well as journalists and cartoonists everywhere.  By Saturday, Charlie Hebdo staff had found another location to hold a meeting and under the protection of French police, they planned their next publication, now due out Wednesday.  To do otherwise would be a victory for the terrorists.

The Arabic says "In support of Charlie Hebdo." Source: Ahram.org

The Arabic says “In support of Charlie Hebdo.” Source: Ahram.org

Unless you are FOX News, you can find that a number of Arab publications stood with French journalists against these attacks.  Cartoonists in Arab countries did what others were doing, drawing responses to the Paris massacre.  In that region of the world, it takes a bit of courage to respond with support.  Israel’s Ynet newspaper writes that even 4 years after the so-called Arab Spring, “people are still watching their step.”  The online publication .mic published cartoons from various Arab countries, Here’s How Arab Papers Reacted to the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Massacre.

Prior to this week, I had never heard of the French satire, Charlie Hebdo (short for “hebdomadaire,” or weekly paper).  I can not honestly tell you if I would agree with the satire that they publish.  Perhaps I would even find some of it offensive.  I will say that I am for freedom of the press and the right to poke fun at the foibles of humanity.  Therefore, I am Charlie.

Sources:

Thank all the stars in the sky

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I saw a man with his head bowed low.”

It’s sad really, and I do not always know what to make of it.  I see him in a number of places.  I think in recent years I have seen him more often.  It is surely the work of the poor economic times.  What else can it be?  I know some will be skeptical.  They will think he is out there because he does not want to work, that he is a loafer or worse.  Some will accuse him of being a trouble maker.  Some will call him an alcoholic or a wino.  “Don’t give him any money,” they will warn.  “He will just spend it on wine or beer.  If he gets a little more money, he will just buy a fifth or a pint.”  Can that be true?  Are all of them just looking for the next drink?

“His heart had no place to go.”

Perhaps that is not it at all.  Perhaps he hangs his head in shame.  Perhaps he is embarrassed.  Perhaps he had a lot at one time, and circumstance, in conjunction with a long recession, have forced him to seek handouts.  You would hang your head too, I suppose.  I think I would for sure.  Stealing a man’s pride is a crime that can not be imagined by those whose hard work, or luck, or acts of kindness did not bring them to this sad place, this lonely street corner or bus stop, park bench or vacant building.  What is left of your pride if you have to sleep under a bridge or alongside the river?  Where does your heart live if you live under some bushes or in a cardboard box in whatever accounts for your town’s skid row?  If your heart has no warm place to beat, is it really beating at all?

“Why don’t they go to the Salvation Army?” you might demand to know.  “Don’t they know about the Night Ministry?”  Perhaps they do or perhaps they never thought they would need to know about them.  “Certainly Catholic Charities will help them,” you insist.  “They can get clean clothes at those second-hand places,” you can proclaim with all the fervor of someone tired of seeing him in the street.  I think he may be tired of being in the street, too.  It has been a long time in the street and he just may be plain tired.  In January the cold can push pretty far south, but here in the midwest it is desperate out there.  It can turn once vibrant eyes into vacant stares.  He may not see your face as he walks up to your car with a crude sign declaring “homeless” and “please help,” but you see his and you want to forget it.  He might wish to forget too, but he can’t because the next car might have some loose change to put in his dirty paper cup.

“I looked and I thought to myself with a sigh:
There but for you go I.”

Whenever I see him, I remember that my fate is better than his.  Family members may tell me that it is because of a “good upbringing” that I am not like him.  “We were taught to go out in the world and make our own way,” they can tell me with confidence.  “If they had any sense at all,” my friends might add, “they would get themselves cleaned up, and would get a job.”  Would they?  I wonder how a homeless man without any possessions would ever be able to start a job.  The Salvation Army says it helped over 30 million people in 2012.  Thirty million!  Maybe they gave him a meal or two.  Perhaps they were able to give him clothes and shelter for a little while.  Perhaps they missed him in the crush of humanity they needed to help.   They can ring the bells at Christmas time while some drop coins in the kettle, but can they help him?  I mean can they help the guy with the ragged jacket and sad look who holds out the dirty coffee cup that once held a moment of warmth inside a nearby McDonald’s?  Can all of the charities in all of the cold winter cities, towns and villages help him and everyone like him who is forced to panhandle in the biting January wind?

My mother was born in 1920 and therefore grew up in what the history books refer to as the Great Depression.  Survival was tough in the big cities where your blues just mixed with the sounds of all the others.  It was tough being the oldest and when the stock market crashed and dragged down the lifestyle of millions and millions, there was no one smart enough to ask why don’t they get out of the street?  When my grandmother’s family seemed too poor to survive, a family of some means back east, relatives perhaps, offered to take my grandmother’s oldest child since she obviously could not raise the whole family.  That did not happen.  My mother told me often, “if you ever have anything to give, then give to the St. Vincent DePaul Society.  Without them, we would not have had enough to eat or good clothes to wear during The Depression.”  So whenever she saw anyone needing a handout, she did not have a disparaging word.  If someone had trouble due to disability or poverty, she would point him out to me and say with the determination of someone who had been there, “Don’t ever think you have it bad, there is always someone else who has it worse (or needs help) more than you.”

“I thought as I thanked all the stars in the sky:
There, but for you, go I.”

Song lyrics:  There But For You Go I, by Lerner and Lowe, from the musical “Brigadoon”

2014 in review

If you have a Word Press blog then you probably get one of these reports.  If you have been looking at stats during the year, you don’t expect surprises, but I found a few.  The most viewed post, Learn to Hate, was actually written in 2012.  No, it was not the repost that got the views, it was the 2012 article.  Not aware that it was already the most viewed post of 2014, proving I didn’t follow the stats too closely, I reposted it in October, 7 months after the flurry of activity.

In addition, the third most viewed post, It’s the journey, was posted in July 2012 and was never reposted.  It was written in anticipation of our trip to the London Olympics, so it included none of the pictures or videos that we took.  I am not sure why it found any audience two years later.

The fourth viewed post, Autumn, was a reposting of an article from 2 years earlier.  I am not sure that I changed a single word, but the second time around found some readers, or perhaps viewers is more correct.

With 104 posts and just over 2900 views you can easily see an average of about 29 views per post, but when you factor in the views of the top 9 posts, three of which were actually posted in previous years, then the rest got next to nothing.  Being Alone was the other outside the “selected period,” posted in 2013.  It too got a reposting later in 2014.

I am not sure what drives an audience to your blog.  In three years I have not found a formula here.  I do think a daily posting would definitely be a plus.  Here is the rest of the monkey business:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hey, it’s Mr. Dick Clark!

New Year’s Eve is not the same

In 2011 Dick Clark counted down the old year for the last time.  His Rock and Roll celebrations of the New Year in Times Square, and those that subsequently copied him, are now an American tradition.  That was not all he the rock promoter and host put on his resume.  His contribution to music and television is legendary. The younger crowd may only have known him as that old guy on Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. So, I would like to introduce you to, or remind you of, that guy who helped to popularize Rock and Roll. Following is mostly the same article I wrote two years ago after his passing. The video of Bandstand Boogie at the end has been replaced with one I took at the Chicago Theater and is now on my You Tube ihjtalk music channel:

“Hey, it’s Mr. Dick Clark
What a place you’ve got here
Swell spot the music’s hot here.”
That’s what Barry Manilow told us when he turned the well-known theme of American Bandstand into Bandstand Boogie. By that point in time, Dick Clark was already an icon of American music. This was not because he made music, but because he played music. And play it he did, from coast to coast, Philadelphia (home of American Bandstand) to LA. He wasn’t serving up Mario Lanza or Ethel Merman (look them up), he was playing rock and roll, and all kinds, too.

He took over Bandstand in 1956 at WFIL in Philadelphia.  In 1957 it was picked up by the ABC Network and became “American Bandstand”. As the times changed and the music changed, so did Bandstand. Dick Clark, however, never seemed to change. As the generations rock and rolled on and on, Dick Clark became America’s oldest teenager. His boyish enthusiasm seemed to defy time and gravity. We loved him for that. It might have meant we could defy time too.

A half a generation of teenagers had danced past the bandstand before I was old enough to find American Bandstand on the American Broadcasting Company. It would be a lie to say that I did not learn what was “in” from bandstand. Each weekend we could see what other teens where listening to, dancing to and commenting on. We saw the styles that were “in” and wanted to look cool like the kids on Bandstand. We knew what records to buy and what dances to learn. Dick Clark always remained the top teenager of all the teenagers, no matter how many years went by.

In 1972 we learned to rock in the New Year while watching Dick Clark stand in the New York cold for the big count down. Generations watched as the annual event grew to a coast to coast phenomenon. By the new millennium it was performers from the freezing cold of Times Square to parties on the opposite coast. Others copied the format, brought in the big name guests, but most of us stayed with Dick Clark. He remained our favorite teen.

Dick Clark eventually entered every arena of show business. He was a game show host, video clips host with Ed McMahon, producer, promoter, creator of American Music Awards and all around entrepreneur. We welcomed him into our homes in every one of his projects. Everyone liked Dick Clark, everyone.

For those of us who grew up watching Dick on all of his programs, we felt a certain satisfaction in his longevity. I think this largely had to do with the fact that he never seemed to age. No matter how many decades rock and rolled by, he did not age. It was as if he was Dorian Gray and had a portrait of himself aging in some attic. By god, if Dick Clark did not have to grow old, maybe we didn’t have to either. We rooted for his ongoing success so we could go on too.

Then, at long last, the unthinkable happened. Dick Clark had a stroke. OMG, if Mr. Dick Clark is getting old, does that mean those of us who watched Bandstand a generation or two ago are getting old too? How can this be! In 2004 we did not rock in the New Year with Dick Clark, but the network brought on one if its old stalwarts, Regis Philbin to host the countdown. Regis? How can they bring in Regis? After all he is as old as …uh…Dick Clark? Yes, that was it. It was a reminder that we were all getting older.

The following year, Dick Clark worked tirelessly to get back to the countdown. They brought in Ryan Seacrest, rather than Regis, since Ryan actually knew rock and roll, to host the show. Dick was there to man the countdown but something was wrong. He grew old. It is like it happened over night and it was the big wake up call for all of us American Bandstand kids. We must be getting old too. It was painful to watch as Dick struggled to get out the words. It was our own pain, however, realizing that the years had been racing by. Instead of seeing the triumph over a massive stroke by an American legend, we saw our own mortality staring back at us. Americas’s oldest teenager was just old and we were so sad to see it.

When there were only three national networks and there were not endless hours of television to be filled up with stuff, Dick Clark popularized the music that teenagers coast to coast were hearing on their top 40 AM radio stations. While not all parents would have liked it, he gave us good entertainment, no shock, no vulgarity, no reality crap, just good entertainment. Generations of American Bandstand, The Dick Clark Show, the $25,000 Pyramid, TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes, the American Music Awards, endless movie and television shows by Dick Clark Productions stand as tribute.
“We’re goin’ hoppin’ (Hop)
We’re goin’ hoppin’ today
Where things are poppin’ (Pop)
The Philadelphia way
We’re gonna drop in (Drop)
On all the music they play
On the Bandstand (Bandstand)”