7:52 p.m. July 24---
America's small towns continue to turn to hometown heroes in efforts to cook up tourism. I've seen it with Dean Martin Days in Steubenville, Ohio and the Donna Reed Festival in Denison, Iowa. Now Bowling Green, Ky.. (pop 55,000) is paying tribute to native son Duncan Hines with a festival and a new exhibit at Western Kentucky University's Kentucky Museum.
Duncan was down with this quaint regionalism.
Since transportation and refrigeration systems were erratic in the 1930s and 40s, Hines figured locally grown foods would be the freshest. Hines was the precursor to the Zagat Guide, publishing the handy "Adventures In Good Eating" guide from 1935 until his death in 1959. Duncan got around. Here's his comment on the "Top of the Mark" at the Hotel Mark Hopkins (one of my favorite views in America) from his 1950 edition of "Adventures In Good Eating:"...........
July 2007 Archives
7:52 p.m. July 24---
5 o' clock somewhere---July 23
Another summer, another effort to explain the wonder of Jimmy Buffett to someone.
Its like trying to describe a mojito to an eskimo.
I've been writing about Buffett since 1982 when he opened for Bonnie Raitt at the Poplar Creek Music Theatre outside of Chicago. I have a picture of me and Buffett backstage. We both have big moustaches. It looks like we're preparing to direct an adult movie.
I was immediately drawn to Buffett's unique blend of country, calypso, reggae and folk. I love Merle Haggard and some of Buffett's curled vocal inflection reminds me of the Hag. Merle Haggard meeting Harry Belafonte meeting Steve Goodman.
What's not to like about that?
Call his musical style Gulf & Western or Caribbean Soul, but on Saturday I'll be at Alpine Valley for what appears to be my 36th Buffett concert since 1981. (I've saved most of the ticket stubs). I'd catch him while you can. I spoke to Buffett a couple of months ago before I headed off to the tiny Caribbean island of Anguilla, one of his recent haunts. "I've been fishing around and looking like places like Anguilla where we can play," Buffett said. "Its obvious people like to hear us in a smaller location and take a vacation at the same time......."
5 p.m. July 20---
I remember when the idea of attending a county or state fair was corny. Or corn doggy. Or as square as Dennis Hastert. There were more important things to do like spending an afternoon in the Wrigley Field bleachers or listening to the Allman Brothers on a warm midsummer night.
Over time I've learned how these homegrown affairs can deliver meaningful slices of life. This was the case in 2001 when my brother and I took our 81-year-old parents to see Bob Dylan in 85 degree heat at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. [My Dad said Bob was good, but he was no Debbie Reynolds.] and it happened again last night when I attended the Kane County Fair & Festival in suburban St. Charles.
The Neville Brothers were our main draw on a crisp evening, and while I have seen them about two dozen times I have never seen the first family of New Orleans play before approximately 250 people at a county fair....
Originally published in Chicago Sun-Times March 5, 2005,
Updated July 20, 2007 for 30th Anniversary Elvis Week
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The smallest details can shape the biggest dreams. In 1949, Vernon Presley moved his wife and teenage son Elvis into Apartment 328 at Lauderdale Courts, 185 Winchester, in downtown Memphis. The modestly appointed two-bedroom unit consisted of a living room, bathroom and walk-in kitchen. A public housing development built in 1938 under President Franklin Roosevelt's WPA, Lauderdale Courts was one of the first U.S. public housing projects.
The projects were slated to be razed in the mid-1990s, but Presley fans, along with the City of Memphis and private developers, saved the courts. The 66 red brick buildings of the 22-acre site are on the National Register of Historic Places. And now you can sleep in Elvis' teenage bedroom.......
6:20 p.m. July 11
There are several timeless rock n ' roll questions:
Who put the bomp in the bomp-a-bomp-a-bomp?
Where is my mind? (Vanilla Fudge)
And who or what is "The Pompatus of Love"?
Rocker Steve Miller coined the weird phrase on his 1973 hit "The Joker." He sings, "Some people call me the space cowboy/Yeah, some call me the gangster of love/Some people call me Maurice (screeching)/Cause I speak of the Pompatus of Love.......