Monday, May 29, 2017

69 The Hard Way

By now most of us know that fame, money, and accomplishments don't make for an easy life. An insulated one, maybe; a "pass" on behavior that might get the rest of us locked up, probably; a sense of freedom from the decisions "normal" people face every day, certainly.

Gregg Allman never had it easy. He endured more personal tragedy than anyone ought to; that at least half of it was self-induced doesn't make any of it less grim, nor does the evidence that he was strong enough, eventually, to overcome all, or almost all, but that last enemy itself.

If you grew up south of Mason and Dixon forty-odd years ago, chances are Gregg's and his brother Duane's band, the Allman Brothers, was a major part of your life. Unlike the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the other British bands, unlike the legends of California psychedelia, the Brothers weren't iconic, larger-than-life figures. They were guys like us, something akin to a group of slightly older cousins and their buddies, who discovered they had the skill and the drive to play with the big boys-- and to knock their socks off. "The best band I ever heard," said the late promoter Bill Graham, who heard 'em all.

A natural sideman, composer, and arranger, Gregg Allman, like Robbie Robertson of the Band, was forced into a frontman/spokesman role by dint of circumstance and by a vacuum of leadership in his group. Like Robertson, by doing so he caused friction and resentment among the men who were his closest friends; unlike him, he handled it in spectacularly awful fashion and the tabloids had a field day. Yes, he overcame it. Eventually. The band was never the same, but the music carried on. Gregg Allman got into music because he wanted to play the blues. Like many before him, he ended up living them out, money and fame and accomplishment notwithstanding.

Perhaps Gregg's most ridiculed effort was the 1970s album he put out with then-wife Cher: "Two The Hard Way."  Prophetic, though, in that the hard way seemed to be Gregg Allman's only way.

News reports say the last song he performed was "One Way Out." He couldn't have picked a more appropriate number to say farewell.

Rest in peace, Brother Gregg Allman.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Yes Sir

Good old Verne, Verne Lundquist that is, announced he is stepping down from full-time work as a football broadcaster, which means the SEC Network is taking a big hit only slightly less daunting than would be an Alabama loss in September.

Verne did a lot of 49er games back in the 1980s as the Number Two NFL play-by-play man for CBS, partnered for a time with Dan Dierdorf, who went on to Monday Night Football. You can get an idea of Verne's professionalism and his urbane, encouraging nature just by asking Mr Dierdorf-- and, we're sure, his most recent partner, former NFL quarterback Gary Danielson. By all accounts Verne Lundquist is one of those men who makes friendships easily, and then keeps them.  He's also something of a Renaissance man, well-read, well-traveled, knowledgeable, yet relatable. We were always impressed by what seemed to be a vast reserve of native intelligence just beneath the folksy exterior he presented.

In recent months we've waved goodbye to the likes of Lon Simmons, Vin Scully, and now Verne Lundquist. We're glad Verne will continue part-time, with his true passions: the Masters, the PGA, and the NCAA Championship.

A class act all the way, Verne Lundquist's own farewell to football fans can be found here:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Uncle Vin

Vin Scully has been the voice of major-league baseball for so long now it's not only impossible to imagine the sport without his gentle, unobtrusive, yet authoritative cadence, it's going to be impossible to hear it. So many of today's game announcers and commentators have developed and polished their style under the influence of Vin's consummate professionalism, we fans will be hearing the echoes of Vin's delivery for decades to come. Vin was all about setting the standard-- an imitable, if rarely achievable, standard.

Some may not remember that Vin, in addition to Dodger games and the old NBC Game of the Week, also did football broadcasts for CBS years ago. His final call was one few of our age or persuasion will forget-- the 1981 NFC Championship Game between the 49ers and Cowboys, played at Candlestick Park on January 10, 1982. We were huddled in a warm kitchen on a record low-temperature day 3000 miles from the 'Stick as Vin made the call: "Clark caught it!...  It's a madhouse at Candlestick!" Vin Scully artfully conveyed the converged tension, release, and sudden exuberance of such a moment many times, and he never had to shout. Dick Enberg, among others, carried on with Vin's distinctive influence on the broadcast of NFL games for decades afterward.

The length and breadth of  Vin Scully's career, 67 years at the mic, from age 21 in Brooklyn replacing the legendary Red Barber, to Sunday's last broadcast at AT&T Park, was filled with historic and memorable events. You can cite his perfect response to Hank Aaron's 715th home run-- he simply let the long, loud, uproarious response of the crowd speak for itself, without marring the moment with a single word-- or to yesterday's kind, magnanimous, and perfectly unassuming farewell to a life's work spent sharing his company with others, or to any of a dozen other moments, as the epitome of Vin Scully's career. They're all out there for posterity. We'll miss him, and we wish him a long and joyful life the rest of the way.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Michael Robert Price

Friend, inspiration, beloved brother in Christ;
Loving husband, loving father, loving family man.
Good and faithful servant;
Rest in the Lord now and evermore. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Curb Your Temper

No, this is not a plea for "tolerance" (which misguided folk misrepresent as "acceptance") in the wake of the Kaepernick-plus-untold-numbers-of-other-players National Anthem issue. Our opinion on it is straightforward and simple. First, it's not a "free speech" issue since no one is calling for anyone's arrest. Second, the team we love to hate, the Seattle Seahawks, had it exactly right when they stood and linked arms as a team, emphasizing unity over so-called diversity. Third, no matter whether or not this was the proper time and place for Kap's "protest" (we don't believe it was, but you may disagree), there's no doubt it was, and remains, a "me-first" gesture in a game which values teamwork above all.  And finally, the NFL's insistence on rigid uniform policies, which threatens players who honor fallen police officers and 9-11 heroes while allowing disrespect for our flag and those who fought for it, is ridiculous in the present context and likely to cost the league money, attendance, and support. As it should.

Instead, this is a suggestion that while we needn't "curb" our enthusiasm over the 49ers' unexpected demolition of the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night, we may want to "temper" that enthusiasm just a little.

It was only a year ago that the Jim Tomsula 49ers, with Kaepernick under center, walked all over the Minnesota Vikings in similar fashion as the season opened. We all know how that turned out. The Vikings won their division, and the 49ers finished in the cellar of theirs.  Then, as now, the 49er quarterback looked poised, confident, and decisive in his play-making. Then, as now, the running game was dominant. Then, as now, the defense roared  across the field, looking very much like a "Jim Harbaugh"-style defense.

Those were the Vikings, a good team. These are the Rams, if not exactly a bad team then certainly a team with a bad offense, from the line to the quarterback to the play-calling. Any time you win a game by 28-0 it's a good thing, and any time your QB plays with confidence it's a good thing, and any time your offensive line blasts open holes for the running game it's a good thing, and any time your defense pitches a rare shutout it's a real good thing.

But let's give it four weeks before we get excited. Yes, Chip Kelly and his coaches are capable of pulling off a surprise season, as they did with Philadelphia in 2013. But with back-to-back road games at Carolina and Seattle, followed by home dates with Dallas and the Cardinals, in the immediate future, let's see if the 49ers are still worth getting excited about come October. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, Wastin' Time

Well, the "bay" is about 2700 miles west of here, but as for the time-wastin' part, we've got you covered there.

With fourteen weeks gone and three to go on the NFL season, here's how we see the entire field, based on Bill Parcells' dictum that the best way to rate a team is by its-- well, by its won-lost record. Forthwith...

 1. Panthers 13-0 They've still three weeks to go/To get that 16-0  

2. Cardinals 11-2 Expect that they will peak/In season's final week  
3. Patriots 11-2 AFC opponents  fear/ Road to “50” leads through here  

4. Bengals 10-3 The shape of things to come/May hang on Dalton's thumb  
5. Broncos 10-3 Tough Raider loss at home/To Boston must they roam?  

6. Packers 9-4 Oh yes, they're in the lead/But still not up to speed  

7. Steelers 8-5 Beat Bengals big to gain/And three weeks yet remain  
8. Chiefs 8-5 Seven straight, you bet/Is wild-card all they'll get?  
9. Seahawks 8-5 Wilson's off the charts/And may still break some hearts  
10. Vikings 8-5 If they win all 3 games/Then first place will they claim  
11. Jets 8-5 To take that playoff ride/Will Bills and Pats decide?  

12. Eagles 6-7 Two more division fights/Keep them awake at nights  
13. Raiders 6-7 K-Mack's a superstar /And Carr behind ain't far  
14. Redskins 6-7 They finally won on road/As Cousins' mettle showed  
15. Giants 6-7 The schedule ain't their friend/Face Eagles at the end  
16. Bills 6-7 Rex can talk the talk/But they haven't walked the walk  
17. Buccaneers6-7 This loss leaves playoff hopes/A-hangin' on the ropes  
18. Texans 6-7 Beat Indy in the 'Dome/And bring the bacon home
19. Colts 6-7 Can Luck or Hasselbeck/Keep Houston off their neck?  
20. Falcons 6-7 The season's biggest flop/When will the losing stop?  

21. Saints 5-8 A chance to win four straight/And finish 8-and-8  
22. Jaguars 5-8 That thirty-nine-point run/They topped with fifty-one!  
23. Rams 5-8 We all know they can win/When linemen block again  
24. Bears        5-8 Can play a spoiler role/And put Vikings in a hole  
25. Dolphins 5-8 Bet Campbell won't be here/When tee it up next year 

26. Ravens 4-9 The ground has been well-tilled/It's time, John, to rebuild
27. Cowboys 4-9 One chance, it would appear/To wreck the Redskins' year  
28. Lions        4-9 Has everyone been dozing?/The window may be closing!
29. 49ers 4-9 A moment of faint hope?/Remember: York's a dope  

30. Titans 3-10 Mariota's past reproach/But who will be the coach?
31. Chargers 3-10 Is losing part of plan/To move to La-La-Land?  
32. Browns 3-10 Why win? We know it's sick/Let's get that first draft pick!