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November 2006 Archives

Ruth Brown's Rainbow

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5:30 p.m. Nov. 24

Ruth Brown was bigger than New York, where she cut her R&B chops and she was larger than Las Vegas, where she died from complications of a stroke and a heart attack on Nov. 17. Brown was 78 and she lived life at a full tilt 78 RPM/MPH/DIY.
She cast a rainbow with an endless pot of gold.
I met Brown in April, 1988 at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary party at Madison Square Garden in New York. I was backstage doing interviews with seminal Atlantic R&B artists like Brown and the late LaVern Baker. Brown was the most commercially successful act at Atlantic between 1949 and 1962 and the label was often referred to as "The House that Ruth Built." I was more excited about seeing Baker and Brown than the historic reunion of Led Zeppelin (without John Bonham of course), the Bee Gees (who hadn't performed together since 1979) and Vanilla Fudge!
And Brown was on the cusp of something very big........

Holiday Road Trip Tips

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8:00 p.m. Nov. 19

I just downsized my holiday road plans because I dropped $99 for a Rickey Henderson autograph at the Sun-Times sports collector's show held earlier today near O'Hare Airport in Chicago. The Style Dog--now there's a guy who always knew where he was going. I don't collect a lot of autographs, but Rickey is one of the most complete baseball players of my generation (1,406 stolen bases). Plus he was a colorful cuss, sometimes known as the "King of I" or "Rickey Flash." I've never paid that much for an autograph. Rickey signed a picture of himself screaming and holding up home plate after he hit a home run to become the all-time leader in runs scored (2,246). I said, "Thanks for the memories."
The Style Dog laughed and I walked away into the sweaty, unshaven sea of lonely sports collectors. I bought some wacky stocking stuffers, a 1976 Greyhound bus brochure promoting the art of the stolen base, a football card of a guy named Jerry Tubbs. My payback is that my final road trip of the year will now be spent in fleabag motels where a lone lightbulb dangles like a sad participle.
So it is time to share these tips for the Provident Traveler:
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Cliff Divers

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11:55 p.m. Nov. 8 (Day after Election Day)

Change leads to a world of possibility.
I recently got word that Iris Selene Alvarez became the first female diver from Acapulco to dive from the 59-foot height at the La Quebrada cliff. Iris was 12 when she dove off the historic cliff in December. She was recognized by Guinness World Records as the youngest person to ever dive from the cliff.
She opened her arms to tomorrow,
Tourists watch the cliff divers from the El Mirador Acapulco hotel. The lobby bar and La Perla nightclub features live music along with classic 1960s photos of when Acapulco was a getaway for the original Rat Pack, Lana Turner and others. Scenes from the hit 1963 Elvis Presley film 'Fun In Acapulco" were shot here and edited into the film, although the King never visited the Mexican nightclub.
I wondered about Raul Garica, who is to Acapulco cliff diving what Muhammad Ali is to boxing. I met Garcia on a 2002 trip to Acapulco. He was 74 years old. He had dove off La Quebrada (the break) 37,348 times in 50 years. Due to so many blows to the head on the water, he was punch drunk like Ali. I sent out some E-mails and learned that the legendary Garcia had died on July 17, 2004............

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2006 is the previous archive.

December 2006 is the next archive.

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