Category Archives: Slice of Life

Thankful For This Guy This Year

Rex

By GORDON GLANTZ

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Mahatma Gandhi

GORDONVILLE — I always have to laugh whenever a new multiyear study comes out proving that dogs show love.

That one has been proven, repeatedly, throughout centuries of their human counterparts not getting it right.

And yet, we have all these sayings – with negative spins – with dogs in the punchline.

-Lay down with dogs, you get fleas.

-So and so is “as crooked as a dog’s hind leg”.

-This place has gone to the dogs.

Sense a theme here?

Dogs, in terms of negative spins, are the new black (black mark, black sheep, etc.)

And considering all they give us, making houses homes, it would be fair to say that it shouldn’t happen to a dog.

That one, I’ll agree with.

Not to go all Sarah McLachlan on you here, but the way dogs are mistreated in America is all we need to see about how we see ourselves.

Because, as another saying goes, a dog is man’s best friend.

And we are, at least not as a whole, not always quality friends in return.

What does or does not qualify as animal abuse, particularly as related to dogs, is sketchy – particularly as related to what qualifies to varied levels of neglect.

Because dogs can’t speak to us, there is no way to know for sure. According to the Humane Society, human victims – those of domestic abuse – report staggering results: 71 percent say their abuser also targeted pets. The number goes up to 88 percent in households under supervision for child abuse.

While dogs in fighting rings get more media attention, there are an untold amount of cases wherein there is neglect ranging from being chained outside all day, in all kinds of extreme weather conditions, to being underfed.

I shudder at the thought that one of those dogs was our dog, Rex, but it is likely.

The other day, we were trying to do the math on just how long he has made our house a home.

This coming January will be six years. In mid-August, the mostly black U.S. Breed (Border Collie and Black Lab, who rank first and seventh in intellect) will turn 8.

We don’t know much about his past, other than a video – an appeal – from the shelter in Darlington County, S.C. (the same dot on the map that inspired one of the Bruce Springsteen songs, but I digress) asking for no-kill shelters up North to take pity on his soul.

Rex had been brought into the shelter in Darlington, and was physically separated from his owner, a female, who was beating him because he didn’t want to be left there.

Scared and shivering, he may not have survived the night had the workers there not kept him with them behind the counter, knowing that being with other dogs that were more aggressive could have meant disaster.

The next day, the video was made, seen and sent up to our area.

Not sure who was luckier, him or us.

On a bitter cold day in January while stopping by the local supermarket, an area dog rescue was showing dogs for adoption. His eerie likeness to our dearly departed Randall (1989-2005) caused me to stop and take notice.

Once he backed away, showing timidity, my heart went out.

Within a week, he was ours.

I’m not going to say we all lived happily ever after, because that would be a lie.

Rex was afraid to enter certain rooms in the house and he was about zero percent housebroken. Sure, if he was being walked at a time when he happened to need to do his business, he did it.

If not, he did it wherever (leading to a complete changeover from carpet to hardwood).

I can’t say I wrote the book on housebreaking a dog. I can just tell you that I got him from zero to 100 percent within months by just walking him so much that a neighbor at a cookout asked how many times a day I walked him (I always seemed to be passing by when he was grabbing a smoke outside).

These days, three walks a day, 8-10 hours apart, is fine. No accidents. Ever.

The only other requirement was a whole lot of TLC. That was the easy part. We gave him the love he did not get down South, and he gave it back to us.

These days, he is not only a long way away from Darlington County, S.C. in distance (8 ½ hours), but in how he lives his life in a home where he has three – yes, three – beds strategically placed around the house (including by the fireplace).

Sofia may give only one-word answers after being picked up from school, but she will immediately fall all over him – as he approaches, tail wagging like a propeller — when she enters the house.

His mama is his favorite person to curl up with, and I’m his daylong companion, as we read each other’s minds, including our favorite time of the day – the midday nap.

He just looks at me, gets the sense it must be time and runs upstairs and jumps up into bed. While some people have lap dogs, I have a nap dog.

We have three cats, and he has zero issues with two of them (the third is another story), and he doesn’t even seem to care that we have a rabbit, Buttons, living in the laundry room.

There are a lot of nasty clichés about dogs, but not here.

Sometimes, when the weight of a world in turmoil seems too much to bear, you just have to be thankful for the simple things.

We enter Thanksgiving thankful for Rex.

He can’t actually say thank you in return, but that’s not needed.

It’s just a crazy cool connection we have that makes it understood.

And it should happen to all dogs.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 24, 2019.

Unique Coach Gets His Call To The Hall

LouSofia2

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The first time I met Lou Lombardo, I was a know-nothing twenty-something cutting his teeth as a rookie sportswriter.

Already a fish out of water as a natural slacker thrust into the workforce, I was playing double jeopardy because the sports editor sent me to an American Legion game – the Fort Washington Generals against someone — instead of one in my comfort zone of the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League.

There was this short guy coaching third base for the Generals shouting out weird stuff to his batters and baserunners, and I half-wondered if he suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome before I was assured by someone, perhaps a writer from another paper (back in those bad old days of yore, multiple papers would cover sporting events), who said, “that’s just Lou being Lou.”

I covered the game, and warily approached this strange Lou character after the final out.

Before I could even introduce myself, let alone ask a question, Lou took one look at me and proclaimed “it’s Gene Wilder!”

He then summoned anyone he could – assistant coaches, umpires, players, parents, dog-walkers (and their dogs) passing by – to seek validation in his assessment that I could be Wilder’s stunt double.

Other than that I would have gladly traded paychecks with the star of movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” – among a litany of others – I didn’t quite get the connection.

Once Lou settled down, he was an amazing interview, breaking down the game in such detail that I wondered if we had just witnessed the same one.

It’s now decades later, and I look more like Telly Savalas than the curly-haired Wilder. It was a minor miracle that Lombardo – the longtime coach for both the Generals and the Mustangs of Montgomery County Community College – seemed to have even a faint recollection of me when I called him last spring for more information on his career to build a resume for what I believed to be a long overdue induction into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame (full disclosure: I’m the chair of the Selection Committee).

Two fascinating hours after what should have been a 15-minute conversation, Lou agreed to let me bring Sofia by his backyard training facility for a hitting “evaluation.”

She had fallen into a terrible slump, and I was desperate for an expert assessment. He cautioned that most of his clients were baseball players, not softball players, but he would take a looksee.

I brought Sofia over for what was to be a 50-minute lesson early last May.

About 2 ½ hours later, her whole approach was broken down and built back up with what he calls linear hitting.

She did so well, that he had her elevated – as a sixth-grader – as being a Division III-level college recruit.

I left feeling like I had flipped Andre the Giant off my back, especially when he agreed to take her on as one of his few softball students.

It was like getting an acceptance letter from an Ivy League school (especially when we added catching to the course load).

The only remaining hurdle was Sofia.

Lou’s passion and enthusiasm seemed to have left her rejuvenated, in terms of confidence, and she couldn’t help but chuckle at many of his antics.

Still, would she want to come back with this guy who claimed to be 79 years old and was encouraging work with a hula hoop to increase power and naming her bats?

That question was answered as soon as we got in the car, even before the doors were closed.

“Wow,” she said, without being prompted, “that was fun. … And I can’t believe he is 79.”

Lou – who is actually a decade shy of 79 — made it clear that he was really an advisor, and only needs to see her every now and then, christening me as her new hitting coach.

I was initially reticent, but I now feel that I can break it down pretty well when we practice in the backyard.

He not only can teach the players, but also the teachers of the players.

And this is just a small sample of all the players – of both sexes and of all ages – that he has helped become better ballplayers.

Ironically, Lou gives homework to his students – and their parents, who he makes stay for the sessions (I would anyway, being a helicopter sports dad) – and I gave some to him as nominee.

As part of his Hall of Fame nomination process, to sell it to the rest of the committee, I wanted him to put together a coaching tree.

What that is, in layman’s terms, is a list of former players and assistant coaches, etc. who have gone on to carve out their own impressive niches in the baseball world.

Football example: Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh, both of whom won Super Bowls, are among those from Andy Reid’s coaching tree (not that I’m rubbing it in Reid’s face too much that he is still chasing a ring down like the last pastry at the buffet table).

The first “tree” Lou gave me was a page, but he knew he was forgetting some people. The next was a page and a half, but the retired history teacher at Upper Dublin High still wasn’t satisfied. The final product was closer to three pages long.

I don’t want to tell Lou this, but the committee barely glanced over the list. His reputation preceded itself, and he was in on the first ballot and will be inducted as part of the Class of 2019 at Presidential Caterers on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Lou touched a lot of people’s lives during his coaching career, and has privately expressed – more than once – how he would like to look out over the room and see a representation of his career, from different eras, looking back up at him as he delivers an acceptance speech that he promises will be nothing short of the Gettysburg Address.

Tickets still remain for the event, and can be purchased at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-montgomery-county-coaches-hall-of-fame-banquet-tickets-72532381305 or by calling 484-868-8000.

Hocus Pocus Messes With Our Focus

McDonalds-arch

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – There are several books I could sit down and write tomorrow: “Memoirs of a Street Hockey Legend,” “The World’s Greatest Air Guitarist” and “I Was Once a Heartthrob (In Fifth Grade).”

Another would be “Adventures in Fast Food.”

Yeah, I could fill a great portion of it up just with what I ordered going through the drive-thru windows and what I actually found in my bag, and my cup, when I got home.

Just the other day, some sort of road block because of a fire or car accident sent me so close to an unnamed place that I could smell the burritos.

On the ride home, I went for the cup holder in the center console and found it practically empty. There was lemonade, but not in the cup. A hole in the bottom of it had the lemonade bursting through the levees of the center console like it was Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While I deployed hand towels as my National Guard, soaking up the damage, I immediately called the night crew and demanded to speak to the manager. He told me what they all do (Page 1 of their playbook). He said come back and he’ll make it up to me (albeit up to $10).

I went back two days later – around lunch time – and had to wait an inordinate amount of time just to get my free heartburn on.

And that was a good outcome, relatively speaking.

There have been numerous times where Manager X tells me to come back at a future time to have it “made it up to me,” and I return to find there is no Manager X anymore. His/her replacement, Manager Y, will reluctantly instruct Assistant Manager Z to take care of it.

It is what it is.

And it isn’t much.

The managers come and go, but the fast food joints remain.

Kind of like … leaders of terrorist groups.

They get hunted and killed – and the mainstream media swoons – and the threat is no less than it was the day before.

Sometimes, it’s worse.

Take, for example, this mockery of a sham that we woke up to a week ago today.

I checked my phone to see if Sofia’s softball tournament was called due to rain.

As suspected, it was.

I also caught a pre-dawn glimpse of the headlines and saw that your president (not mine), saying he would have a “big announcement” at 9 a.m.

Knowing a resignation — in the midst of an ongoing mountain of scandal — would be too much to hope for, I went back to bed only imaging who was going to be thrown under the bus after sunrise.

The “big announcement” came straight from an old bag of tricks made popular by an equally ineffective Republican president, George W. Bush.

The so-called big announcement was that some ISIS leader – after the ISIS hornet’s nest has poked back to life by a recent spate of flawed foreign policy in the first place – was killed overnight.

I’m not even going to bother to Google the dude’s name for a cut and paste here.

He’s ISIS leader X, only to be replaced by ISIS leader Y.

Towel Head

They come and go, often killed by our special operations forces — or often their own from the inside (like a coup from Assistant Manager Z).

And the terrorism – like the fast-food heartburn – remains.

I vowed not to bring myself to watch the 9 a.m. “I’m The Greatest” speech that pales in comparison to those of Ali.

The dreaded mainstream media already figured it out (we all knew an overnight mass shooting at Texas A&M, or California wildfires, would not spur him to the podium at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning).

But I did check it around 9:01 last Sunday and stopped watching by 9:02.

I’d seen enough gloating.

Ironically, when my president (not yours), Barack Obama, pulled the trigger on an operation to kill Osama bin Laden, he was accused for “doing a touchdown dance.”

Knowing the lack of attention span for your president (not mine), I sounded an all-clear at 10 a.m. and went back to the news networks for analysis.

Instead, I saw your vice president (not mine), among others, being interviewed.

“Both America, and the world, are safer today” became the mantra.

No, America and the world are not safer today.

Someone else, whose name we can’t pronounce – and whose name we need not even commit to memory – will rise up in his place, just like managers in fast food joints, and they are only going to be more dangerous.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 3, 2019

Rockin’ The Vote (while rockin’ the boat)

Rundgren

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I voted.

I not only voted today, but yesterday and the day before that and the day before that and the day before that.

And I’ll do it again tomorrow — and will continue until I can’t anymore.

These votes, which are allowed on repeat (and hopefully without Russian interference), are cast online for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Hall got over itself and allowed fan voting to become part of the process, and that led to some overdue inductions (Rush, Journey, The Cars) but inherent injustices remain because the playing field is still made uneven by a self-righteous group of know-it-alls creating the ballot.

The 2020 induction nominees include some who just became eligible (25 years since their first release, some who have been eligible but have not been on the ballot and others who are repeat nominees).

The list (in alphabetical order, with those I have repeatedly voted for in bold) includes: Pat Benatar; Dave Matthews Band; Depeche Mode; The Doobie Brothers; Whitney Houston; Judas Priest; Kraftwerk; MC5; Motörhead; Nine Inch Nails; The Notorious B.I.G.; Rufus featuring Chaka Khan; Todd Rundgren; Soundgarden; T.Rex and Thin Lizzy.

My first reaction to the ballot was one of both joy and disgust. I was excited to see Benatar, Rundgren and T.Rex but some of the others – Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Depeche Mode and MC5 – continue to cause me angst.

T_Rex_The_Slider

Over the years, the Hall has defined and redefined what is and isn’t Rock so many times that it is enough to make a statue dizzy.

Considering the varied genres that merged into some magical chemistry to make rock and roll what it became, it is understandable that some lines will get blurred.

But something stinks in the town of Cleveland, which is somehow home to the Rock and Roll Hall (should have been in Philly, but don’t get me started).

Either those who pull the strings from behind the curtain are tripping over themselves to be too inclusive, or something more subversive could be at play. They could be trying to monopolize all music outside of opera under one roof.

Since 1961, Nashville has been home to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

There is a Hip Hop Hall of Fame and Museum in New York City that was established in 1992.

There is a Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Founded in 2010, it is currently a mobile museum with several cities bidding to be its permanent home.

Plans are afoot for an American Pop Hall of Fame in Western Pittsburgh and a Folk Music Hall of Fame with a broad vision and not many firm details.

Meanwhile, the R&R Hall continues to violate trespassing laws to fish in other ponds while ignoring many of its own.

There was not much criticism early on, as choices like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley seemed rather obvious.

The shark was officially jumped in 2007, when The Dave Clark Five finished fifth in the voting, earning the final spot, but the spot was given away by self-appointed chairman Jann Wenner (publisher of Rolling Stone magazine) to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five because of a perceived dire need to include a rap act.

The curious ballots and omissions ever since have landed the entity in a world where it is not taken seriously.

Me? I’m still trying. That’s why I still vote.

 

I grew up listening to AOR (album-oriented rock), which was gargantuan from the late 1960s through to the arrival of the MTV era of the early 1980s.

A band could sell a zillion records and pack arenas without ever putting a song in the Top 40. Those were the days.

But many of the artists and acts of that era – Bad Company, Jethro Tull, Foreigner, Warren Zevon, Foghat, Supertramp, Boston, Styx, Peter Frampton, Kansas, ELP and those I voted for (Benatar, The Doobie Brothers, Judas Priest, Rundgren and T.Rex) – are annually spurned.

Badco

Ironically, there is a channel on Sirius Radio – Classic Vinyl – that broadcasts live from … The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You hear these bands, not past “pop” inductees like ABBA or Bee Gees, all the time.

And then there are the singer-songwriters that once owned the music scene. I’m talking about Gordon Lightfoot (pictured below), Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Carole King (in the Hall as a writer but not a performer, despite her seminal “Tapestry” album that blazed a trail for female singer-songwriters for decades) and John Denver.

Lightfoot

And then we have the curious omissions of America and Seals and Crofts.

Not rock? That argument can only be made if The Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel (and Paul Simon) and James Taylor were not among those inducted.

Music is subjective. I get it. But there can still be a measure of objectivity to it — just based on body of work and evidence and what fits the definition of rock in the most loose of terms.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Oct. 27.

Searching For A Lost America

CountryDiner

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If it is possible for a heathen to have a come to Jesus moment, I had one about 12 years ago when lost in the King of Prussia area.

It was in the dark days before GPS, and the directions we looked up practically had us driving off the road and into a ditch.

I did what was I taught to do – after learning reading, writing and arithmetic – and followed the long-held American right of pulling into a gas station to ask for directions.

No one there – not the cashier, mechanic or guy sitting behind the counter with his feet up – had a clue.

We barely found our way back home while feeling frustrated, having not showed up for a scheduled appointment, only to learn that we were a grand total of two turns and two minutes from the destination.

The tradition of getting directions at a gas station was clearly gone, as it was not the first time and not the last.

The type of full-service gas stations that guide you to the Yukon became an endangered species, going the way of using a phone book to call a movie theater on a pay phone for start times.

You can say it’s all a sign of progress, but we need to have progress with our souls intact, do we not?

While we have had the rise of a wonderful musical genre called Americana (an umbrella under which country, rock, folk, blues, blue grass – among others – can merge and mingle without the musicians feeling like traitors to their genres), many other forms of Americana are six feet under.

These deaths are not by a single stab wound, but by a thousand painful cuts.

Exhibit A: Sports.

What did we do as kids? We watched games on television, and then we went outside and mimicked what we saw until it was too dark (and sometimes when it was too dark).

Maybe we didn’t do everything fundamentally correct, but we played and played and played.

Sofia, now 12 ½, plays softball at the travel tournament level, and she has yet to ever watch one pitch of a game on television. We make semi-regular excursions to Reading Phillies games, but she doesn’t really pay attention there, either.

Everything she has done with the sport has been in a controlled environment with adults instructing her, either as coaches or individual mentors (or yours truly trying to act like one).

Truth is, though, she is a step ahead by putting down her phone long enough to put in the time.

Even if she did watch the Phillies and then looked to play outside – without adult supervision, leaving kids alone to develop skills such as conflict resolution – there would be no untouched open space anyway.

It seems every piece of suburban grass needs to have a house on it, lest western civilization turn into one big pumpkin by the pending stroke of midnight.

And then there is the sign of lost Americana, leaving me the most blue — the slow decline and gradual death of the neighborhood diner.

The operative word here is “neighborhood.”

I lamented this trend recently on a Facebook post, hoping my “friends” in that alternate universe would commiserate.

Some did, but others did not. Some suggested what I call coffee shops – places that open around 6 a.m. and close by the end of the lunch rush (2-2:30 p.m.) – which don’t qualify as a diner in my book (diners should technically be 24 hours, but that went by the wayside at the front end of the decline).

Others mentioned chain restaurants that are too big and impersonal – complete with elongated wait times – that don’t qualify.

Most fellow Facebookians chose to jolt me from my anger stage of the mourning process by letting me know of diners I could try out.

I was reminded of places in the city – South Philly, North Philly, Roxborough and my home ‘hood of the Northeast – that I already knew about.

No one mentioned New Jersey, where diner tradition is the next best thing it has going next to being the Bruce Springsteen state, but I’m not about to pay a toll and fight traffic just for a cheese omelet.

I also learned of diners in Pottstown, Reading, Collegeville, Warminster, Wyncote, Warrington, Wayne, Downingtown and even somewhere south of the Delaware River Gap.

That’s all fine and dandy. If I’m ever in any of those places, a diner will get my business 100 times before some chain joint.

It’s a way to soak up the local flavor, and get a feel for the community (often song fodder), as diners are – or were – a window into the soul of an area.

But I’m still a stranger in a strange land, and it often leaves me with an achy breaky heart (especially if the song is playing on the jukebox).

Every neighborhood should have at least one diner. It should actually be mandated by law – by the same municipal officials so quick to rubber stamp variances to overdevelop themselves into oblivion.

I know there are some diners around Norristown – in West Norriton, Audubon, etc. – but there is no way I can get there enough to be called “hun” by a waitress who already knows to bring me my decaf (caffeine kills) and large OJ.

I wouldn’t yearn for that so much if I didn’t have it, only to have it stripped away, one by one by one.

When we first moved to Blue Bell, there were so many diners within a five-mile radius that we practically kept a scorecard to make sure we were hitting each one fairly.

Once you achieve “regular” status, feeling like a regular on the cast of “Cheers,” you have a certain amount of responsibility to be a good customer.

And I was, tipping in the 25 percent range.

At least that’s what I believed while keeping faith in the dream of Americana more than the American dream itself.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Oct. 13, 2019.

Blending In With The Scenery (Finally)

Brynner

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — North of 50, actually nearly 55, my short-term memory is becoming seriously challenged.

Long-term, though? Forget about it – pardon the pun.

I remember the almost-frozen ice cream sandwiches on the beach in Atlantic City (this is before I became Lactose intolerant).

I remember drinking a coke from a seemingly bottomless bottle (this is before I developed a sensitivity to caffeine).
I remember going into the ocean (this is before I stopped wading in past my ankles after seeing “Jaws”).

 

And I remember going to a lot of movies (before there were video stores) and getting popcorn you didn’t have to butter yourself.

And the TV shows, with only three network channels and the UHF stations (no cable, no Netflix) that always needed rabbit ears for better reception.

When I loved a movie, I would see it multiple times. Being from a broken home – yeah, I am playing that card again – it was automatic that one I saw during the week could be seen again on the weekend to get out of the way of the missiles flying at my father’s home.

One movie that was a hit in Gordonville was “The Ten Commandments,” an epic drama about the exodus of the ancient Hebrews from bondage in Egypt.

Starring Charlton Heston as the protagonist, Moses, the plot of what now strikes me as embarrassingly hokey dialogue was stirred by Rameses II, the antagonist played by Yul Brynner.

What set Brynner apart — beyond an accent that was a mish-mash of Russian, Swiss and Mongolian – was his shaved head (with had some weird ponytail thing hanging out of it for a while).

The movie was made in 1959, six years before I was born, but it made the rounds again in theaters in the early seventies.

At a time when men had hair longer than a lot of women, it struck me as a bit unique.

On television, there were a plethora of classic detective shows that all 264 high-tech CSI shows combined could never match.

Savalas

A standout was the gritty “Kojak,” starring Telly Savalas.

In addition to his signature lollipop, the character had a shaved head.

Maybe shoulder-length hair of men had given way to the more “disco” blow-dry look (think John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”), but going all shaved was still way out of the norm.

Most bald men just went bald, usually with those awful fringes around the side that some would let grow out of proportion.

That horror hit close to home.

Clarke

My father would go to a barber – the same guy who “styled” the hair of some of the Broad Street Bullies (he claimed he used the same scissors and comb on my hair as boyhood idol Bobby Clarke) – whose supposed specialty was covering bald spots.

My maternal grandfather used an at-home pullover approach that would never fly today.

The shame of it was so powerful that some resorted to hair pieces that were obnoxious.

Genetically, I was doomed to be bald.

A sad fate for someone who could never get it right.

One constant through my misbegotten youth was a lot of bad hair days trying to emulate either the rock stars or sports stars I so admired.

There was one respite from the madness. It came in fifth grade, when even older women in sixth grade, seemed to have crushes on me.

I got hitched to the adorable Barbara Padgett one day at recess (breaking many hearts in the process), and figured I’d be set as a playboy for life.

But an early onset of puberty was not kind.

By sixth, I was playing in the minor leagues.

My father would order the barber, the Flyers’ guy, to turn my Juan Epstein thing into a “camp cut” before going away to camp (thus assuring being turned down by the fairer sex for roller skating or dance at a record hop).

In protest, once back in the world, I let it grow out into an all-out Brillo pad atop my head.

I made matters worse by blow-drying it, because it seemed like the cool thing to do, as opposed to letting it dry naturally.

Daltrey

Giving up trying to look like Bobby Clarke – or some other hockey players (a guy named Ron Duguay from the New York Rangers had the ideal look) – it turned into an all-out quest in high school to nail the look of Roger Daltrey (lead singer of The Who).

On a good day, the best I could do was Neal Schon from Journey, and that was usually right after a shower.

I eventually went to the John Oates look in college, and got by enough to do OK with the opposite sex – and meet my eventual wife, who says I “grew on her like fungus” – but then genetics set in and I started losing hair.

Fortunately, and fortuitously, I noticed more and dudes on TV – from guest experts to law enforcement officials to aging rockers to athletes – doing away with those hideous fringes and either go closely shaved or all bald.

My cousin, Aimee, told me I could “rock that look” a few years ago, but I filed it away for future reference.

I took it slowly, but I recently instructed my barber – former Kennedy-Kenrick athlete Steve Devlin of Mike Devlin’s Barber Shop in Broad Axe – to shave it all the way down before our trip to Nova Scotia.

I was thrilled. Finally, I looked like everyone else.

Me now

We were north of the border, where people are nice to one another, for so long (2 weeks) that I was sick to my stomach when it grew in too fast.

I have been back twice since, within the span of a week.

Yul Brynner and Telly Savales have become the new Bobby Clarke and Roger Daltrey in Gordonville, and I couldn’t be happier.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Oct. 6, 2019.

Lost: Three ‘Rock’ Stars

Ocasek

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — While it’s true the saying that “it comes in threes” can be easily debunked, as any three names can be plucked from recent obituary pages to make a case.

Nonetheless, three losses this week have placed the flags at half-staff here in the mystical town of Gordonville.

I am referencing, in order of their recent passings: Eddie Money (Sept. 13), Ric Ocasek (Sept. 15) and Cokie Roberts (Sept. 17).

And the empty world is a bit emptier as a result.

Money (real name Edward Mahoney) was born in Brooklyn, but also grew up – with a passion for music – in Queens and Long Island.

From a large Irish-Catholic family with a rich tradition of police officers, he enlisted as a police trainee in 1968 and found it was not in his heart.

If you can’t picture Eddie Money, our Eddie Money, as a police officer – neither could he.

“I couldn’t see myself in a police uniform for 20 years of my life, with short hair,” he was quoted as saying.

The NYPD’s loss was our gain.

Well, at least it was mine.

I’m not going to try to say that Money was one of my all-time favorites, but many of his songs – such as “Gimme Some Water” and “Baby, Hold On” – were among those that always resonated.

For lack of a better term, he falls in a category they (whoever “they” are) call blue-eyed soul (a cute term for white guys who can hang with the black singers).

Music was clearly in his soul, and that placed his heart on his sleeve. You believed every word, because that’s the way he delivered them.

I think we can all rip a page from that playbook, just in the way we deal with one another, no?

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Ocasek (real name Richard Otcasek) was born in Baltimore on March 23, 1944 (same day, different year, as yours truly). The son of a NASA systems analyst, the family moved to Ohio when he was 16. He briefly tried college, at two different schools, but the music bug was too strong to be an academic.

He played in various bands in Ohio with bassist Benjamin Orr, and the pair took off for Boston, where there the multitude of college campuses created a vibrant scene that also produced the likes of classic bands like Aerosmith and Boston.

Several band carnations later, Ocasek and Orr formed a Boston-area super group – with Greg Hawkes on keyboards, Elliott Easton on lead guitar and David Robinson on drums – that the world would come to know as The Cars.

Ocasek (rhythm guitar) wrote the songs with thought-provoking lyrics and split the lead vocals with Orr.

This is when they came into my orbit, as they may have single-handedly rescued us all from the Disco-era with an eponymous debut album that featured the likes of “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed” getting the most initial airplay.

In junior high (yeah, I’m too old to know of middle schools), I played the grooves out of this album, which had deep cuts like “All Mixed Up” and “Moving In Stereo” to give it the depth and breadth to make it an enduring classic.

That said, it was the next album by The Cars – Candy-O – that remains my personal favorite. People say they fell off after the first album, as people like to label bands as one-shot deals, but I’ll fight to death to say they’re wrong. The likes of “It’s All I Can Do” and “Dangerous Type” – and the title track – among others (“Let’s Go”) can’t be ignored by anyone with functioning eardrums.

Being a songwriter of sorts myself, I credit Ocasek as a strong secondary influence, particularly with the willingness to take chances with lyrics.

This was not the end of me going to war on behalf of The Cars, who I considered my favorite band as I crossed the threshold into Northeast High School from Wilson State Pen (I mean, Middle School). People said they weren’t good live, and they were right. The Cars weren’t good live. They were outstanding live, both at a Spectrum show my senior year of high school and at Live Aid.

I stayed in the ring on behalf of The Cars, as it was an abomination that they had to wait until 2018 for an induction into the enigmatic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s nice Ocasek lived to see it, but an abomination he didn’t enjoy it longer.

I can tell, from listening to Sofia’s bands, that the influence of The Cars – one of the alleged prerequisites of the R&R Hall’s know-it-alls – is alive and well.

This brings us to Roberts (real name … get this … Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs). Thanks to her brother, Tommy, she became known to us all as Cokie.

She had the good sense to marry a Jewish guy (wink), fellow journalist Steven V. Roberts, and became Cokie Roberts.

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She was born into a Louisiana family steeped in Southern Democratic political traditions. Just about her entire nuclear family ran for political office, but her passion was journalism.

While this seems a million miles away from the background of Money, who didn’t want to be a cop – or Ocasek, who spurned the high academic standards of his family – there is a common thread.

It goes to show how passion to follow your dreams can go a long way.

There isn’t a woman in journalism today, whether in print or television or somewhere in between, who doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude for the trail blazed by Roberts.

When Roberts passed, my first reaction was that, since it wasn’t a rock star, it didn’t count as part of the threes.

Upon further review, I was wrong.

She was a rock star, too.

And, sadly, it did come in threes.

Rough week.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Sept. 21. 2019