A Little Bluer, If You Please - Dec 2016

Every now and again I think I might take up walking as a means to find interesting things to photograph for this blog. One of my all-time favorite blogs is The Smitten Image, where the author and photographer shares her visual and emotional perceptions of the world in which she lives. Each post, besides being beautiful, draws her readers into her sensual experience and each post has a different theme. These aren’t just snapshots, folks. Her posts are carefully and painstakingly put together, often using photos she takes at different times and during different walks. And every time she posts a new entry I come away feeling inspired to capture my world in a similar manner.

The problem is, I’m not really a visual person and there is no camera out there (that I know of) that can visualize what I hear when I go for a walk. I experience life aurally and, although I’m a synesthete (or maybe because I am), it’s the aural that stimulates the visual. Simply put, I hear first, which then triggers the visual. Hearing the world around me comes naturally and automatically; I do absolutely nothing to make this happen, and trying to be a visual person is like trying to make myself left-handed. It makes my brain hurt. For me, middle C is a glowing yellow ball, E is a red lightening streak, G is a green leaf-like shape, and A is a boisterous, wash of blue sky. And all of these have soft edges, like watercolors, which is why images like this one are so appealing to me. I’d love to have this framed and on my wall. It brings me a sense of balance and peace, because it settles all the noise in my head into perfect harmony and resolution.

This is called synethesia, which means my senses cross paths in my brain. There are five known types of synesthesia. You can take a test here if you suspect you might also be a synesthete.

So, until something happens to either my brain, or my ability to shut this off (which I’d never want to do!) you probably won’t see many posts from me that are strictly of photographs. I suggest you visit The Smitten Image for some truly beautiful and insightful photos.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Why You May Not Want to Hang Out With a Writer - Oct 2016

Sometimes when I’m up late, not feeling creative enough to write and I want to knock myself out so that I can sleep, I site hop around the internet. Last night I came across this meme about why you might want to hang out with or date a writer.


We probably won’t. We write for ourselves, or for money, and by the time we’re done, we’re sick of it. If we have to write you something, there’s a good chance it’ll take us two days and we’ll be really snippy and grumpy about the process.


You don’t want this. Trust me.


No. We will not. We are busy writing. Leave us alone about these “interesting events.” I know one person who dates a terrific writer. He goes out alone. She is busy writing.


A better way to ensure this would be to become an agent. That way you’d actually make money off of talking people through their neuroses.


Yes. Constantly. While you’re trying to watch TV, or take a shower. You will have to listen to observations all day long, in addition to being asked to read the observations we wrote about when you were at work and unavailable for bothering. It will be almost as annoying as dating a stand-up comedian, except if you don’t find these observations scintillating, we will think you’re dumb, instead of uptight.


The moment you realize this is not true, your relationship with a writer will develop a significant problem.


About writing. Not necessarily about you.


So don’t start an argument unless you’re ready for a very, very lengthy explication of our position, our feelings about your position, and what scenes from our recent fiction the whole thing is reminding us of.


So get lost, will you?


Serious advice: if you meet a writer who’s actually demonstrative, be careful.


This is possibly true! We may also expect you to remember them, correct your grammar, and look pained after reading mundane notes you’ve left for us.


Writers may be able to adjust their schedules for writing. Get in line, then.


By the 108th you’ll be pretty sure we’re just making them up for fun.


But mostly writing. Hope you don’t like talking on the phone—that shit is rough.


Every last one of whom is imaginary.


No argument. Some people think this about heroin addicts, too.


Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Sacred Places Within - Sept 2016

We musicians have a special relationship with our instruments. We fall in love with them, often name them and sometimes refer to them with either male or female pronouns. When I got my very first guitar, a little $14 6-string that my dad brought home to me as a surprise for my 14th birthday, I took it everywhere I went, even to bed at night, where I gently placed it on the other pillow.

It was my first 12-string, however, that I fell head-over-heels for in 1968. I’d been wanting one for over a year and I finally found one at Disco, a forerunner to today’s Walmart or Kmart. After I saw it I knew I had to have it so I saved the $42 it cost from money I made working in a local music shop after school. JP Deni’s Mom drove us there, and I came home proudly hugging “John Dylan Bumagy” (pronounced boo-MAH-gy… long story). That guitar took me to San Francisco, Hollywood, Laurel Canyon, and across country on tour. I played it in concerts and on television, in schools and prisons, weddings and funerals, nursing homes, coffeehouses, and a whole lot of parties and jam sessions.

It wasn’t until 1973 that I got a really nice 12-string, a Takamine. Unfortunately, that was stolen in 1978 when my house was burgled, and John Dylan Bumagy ended up getting auctioned off (along with all my other instruments which included a Martin 12-string, a Story & Clark piano, a clarinet, a 5-string banjo, some penny whistles, Indian flutes, and recorders, an Irish bodhran, and a bowed psaltry in The Big Dump of 2001. My heart breaks when I think about it, so I just don’t. Moving on…

So you see, I have a certain idea of a musical instrument being a kind of sacred space, where the music grows and swells and then bursts through the sound hole to fill small rooms and concert halls alike. Recently, I found some photos that just amazed me. They were taken by Bjoern Ewers for the 2009 season of the Chamber Orchestra of the Berlin Philharmonic. Fantastic views of the inside of musical instruments that make them appear to be sacred spaces—cathedrals—dedicated to the one truth that is Music.

So next time you are holding your guitar (or any instrument) in your arms, close your eyes and think about the space inside. Imagine yourself there. What an amazing sanctuary to contemplate the music uniquely yours to express, the songs uniquely yours to sing!

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


How Long Have I Had This - August 2016

I can’t miss seeing Richard’s jaw drop, because he is inches from my face.

Richard still stands too close for a conversation, yet this time I don’t allow myself to step back. He fumbles for the right question…how long have I had this…10 or 15 years? I know he is searching his memory for anything about me during the time he was my boss which would make sense of this thunderbolt.

“I’m doing comedy now.”

Since I was a child, that’s how long. I’ve read that humor is a choice which some children make as a strategy for coping with stress. Yes, maybe that’s it.  I suddenly lost my parents and was separated from my brother at the age of four. Would I still be funny if that had not happened? Would reading George Carlin’s essay “Play Ball!” still make me laugh until tears roll down my face?

I recall so clearly standing alone in my aunt’s back yard, deciding that I would like to be a monkey. Could it be that the question “What would you like to be when you grow up” allowed for switching species?  It sounded good because monkeys could swing through trees, yet even more appealingly, people enjoyed laughing at them. There, zoom in on that. That’s when I knew I wanted to entertain.

No one had mentioned that comedy was a career path, and you certainly didn’t tell people you wanted to be a monkey. I found that saying interior decorator didn’t generate many questions, plus it enabled adults to pleasantly resume minding their own business.

The monkey idea lay dormant for 50 years while I finished school and college (which offered no interior design classes), worked as not a comedian, married a wonderful man, and produced a couple of alarmingly normal kids.

It came up just once, in an interview for a state government position. I asked what I would have to do to prevent myself from advancing through steps to professional certification. The gentleman looked at me for a moment, almost as if I were from a different species, and dryly answered “Swing from the rafters.”

I never did. I’ve been saving up.

…and Richard. You’re still doing that other thing.  I know you’re surprised that I still look good, but for God’s sake, keep your eyes on a woman’s face when you compliment her appearance!

Kathy Brennan has organized information for a living as an educator, computer programmer and government policy writer. Now she is doing it for fun as a stand up comic and humorous writer. See more at


Shoulda, Shoulda - July 2016

Woken by a feeling that it was later than it actually was and that I’d overslept (although I had nothing that had to be attended to), I came out to the kitchen in my characteristic morning auto-pilot state to pour a coffee. Last evening, after my usual cup of after-dinner Earl Grey (since we’re out of decaf I went ahead and had the usual stuff—mistake number one), I took a nap at 9:00 (mistake number two), admittedly a stupid thing to do. I can’t turn in early like some people, because whenever I do I wake up a few hours later fully refreshed. My body is pretty happy humming along on five hours of sleep and if I it meet that quota I wake up, even if it’s only two or three in the morning. Around midnight, thinking I should at least try to sleep, I took a Benadryl and went to bed to listen to Pandora while I messed about on my phone, waiting for the artificial sleepiness to overtake me. This is not an uncommon scenario. I do this more than I should, I imagine…

So I awoke today feeling like there was something urgent that I should do, which was a lie. There’s nothing today, except the usual run-the-dishwasher-and-make-the-bed routine. I confess my energy level is down while my Hashimoto’s fatigue level is up due to recent emotional upheavals. These things always flatten me for a week or two, but as I said in my last entry, I’ve learned to listen to my body and today it’s telling me to be lazy. Ok. Have it your way. This should be a good day to lounge on the sofa binging on Netflix, but I’m sick to death of crime and violence, the sentimental or cynical or downright disgusting crap that passes for entertainment these days, and Netflix’s “New Releases” that actually came out a decade ago. I’ve lately been watching a lot of YouTube, mostly historical  documentaries and biopics, but even that list is starting to thin out. Maybe it’s time to get an early start on Fire In The Hole Friday.

So it’s one of those should days. I want to be busy but my body won’t allow it so I’m stuck with trying to occupy myself with writing these thoughts and wondering what I should do when this is posted. It reminds me of a day many years ago when I was undergoing therapy for childhood abuse. My doctor put me on a course of Stelazine for 9 months just to get my chemical levels balanced (back then, we didn’t have the anti-depressants that are available now). At first she put me on 1mg to see how I’d react and I hated it. While it filled me with energy, it also made it impossible for me to move a muscle. I remember thinking that if this was what people in psychiatric institutions go through—and more, considering they were often put on massive doses of the stuff—I really felt for them. It was like being in a Porsche with a highly-tuned, race-worthy motor running, but having no wheels. I kind of feel like that today, but not as extreme. Mostly I’m just lazy and chiding myself for it. All these shoulds…

Being mindful of this, I post this entry telling myself that it’s perfectly fine to have a relaxing day. I am retired, after all, and there’s always tomorrow. At least there should be.

Look at your own list of shoulds and ask, “Says who?”

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Rocky High - July 2016

I’ll never forget the day I heard Rocky Mountain High for the first time. It was in the Fall of 1972 and I and my toddler son, Joel, were on our way north to Elk Creek, a tiny town in the foothills of the Northern Coastal mountain range about 100 miles north of Sacramento. I’d heard John Denver before, of course. He’d already had a hit with Take Me Home County Roads, and I even had the album, but I hadn’t been really wowed by him. I was a singer-songwriter performing my music, as well as the music of the new folk artists Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, and etc, and John’s work fit well into my repertoire.

When Rocky Mountain High came over the car radio, I pulled onto the shoulder and turned it up. I’d never heard anything like it before. Not since the Beatles had a song moved me like this. What was it? His vocals were outstanding, of course, but his voice really wasn’t any different than in earlier recordings. The musicianship of the musicians? Maybe. The song itself? Definitely. It spoke to me about the feelings going on in me, why I’d gone out on the road myself to Big Sur, where I’d camped in the canyons and on the rocky beaches, surrounded by its magnificent, unruly nature. I’d showered in a waterfall and I’d washed my jeans in Kirk Creek as it rushed through the verdant forest into the ocean. I’d spent days and nights beneath the redwood trees writing songs on my guitar. Rocky Mountain High just happened to be in the key of the life that I’d been living.

The wholesome, all-American appeal John Denver represented to the adults who’d been scared shitless by the more radical denizens of the Boomer generation helped to bring us together us a little. He was a touchstone, a bridge between us. After all of the riots and demonstrations, and then the Manson Family murders, the older generation was understandably terrified by the children it had produced. John Denver gave them hope. His big smile, his twinkling eyes, and his “Aw, shucks,” positivity helped them to see that not all of us were drug crazed, enraged militants. I have to admit that he gave me hope as well. I was tired of the anger and the angst, of everything—every damned thing—being so deathly serious. Tired of not being able to smile or laugh or joke without being called down by people who accused me of not taking things seriously enough. Sitting there on the side of the road listening to this song, tears spilled down my face. I didn’t know exactly why at the time, but looking back, it’s very clear: relief. At least for a little while, before the plastic, mindless bump-bump-bump of Disco and the inanity of vapid pop ballads, there was a short spell when songs were about the beauty of life and the world around us, a little apostrophe in time when we were allowed to take a non-gasping breath, and exhale.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


What to Wear - May 2016

This happened a few years ago, but it’s worth revisiting. You may not remember it, but the world was supposed to end on May 21, 2011. Spoiler Alert! It didn’t actually happen.

Back then, I was judging a national advertising competition and the semi-finals were held in Alabama. Or Arkansas. I can’t remember which state, but I do remember someone saying, “Look, Bob, a Jew.” So, it might have been Tennessee.

Anyway, I was on way to the competition listening to a local radio station when I heard a bizarre report: “Just when you thought you knew the Supreme Being, God surprised everyone here on Earth last Saturday when He canceled the End the World as we know it and instead announced a Bikini Contest.”

I was positive it was a joke until I drove past two signs. One announced the “End of the World” event and the other promised a Bikini Contest.

Good News for Earth: God loves bikinis more than Death and Annihilation

I always thought God had a strange sense of humor, how else to explain Bush’s second term?

Still, I felt compelled to knock on the door where the signs were posted, hoping I wouldn’t again hear, “Look, Bob, a Jew.”

A sweet looking, elderly priest (or a man dressed as a sweet looking, elderly priest) answered the door. I told him about the radio report and the strange coincidence of seeing those two signs.

He said, “ Yes, my son, it’s true. God works in mysterious ways. He cancelled the End of the World and instead announced a bikini contest.”

I asked him how that was possible and he said, “God just likes bikinis, so He canceled the End of the World.”

 “We are not human beings having a spiritual Experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

           Pierre Teilhard Chardin

Jack Goldenberg is a prolific Copywriter, innovative Creative Director and consummate, strategic marketer. Read his blog at  10 minutes of brilliance. With all he’s done, he still believes his best efforts are ahead of him.


Face It - April 2016

The thing is, I like spending my mornings with my friends. I like laughing over pictures of their chickens, their dogs, and their cats. I like drinking my coffee while reading what funny, scary, or insightful thing they’ve just experienced. I like knowing they’re okay no matter where they are—the east coast, California, Oklahoma City, or England. I’m not calling this experiment a failure, because I’ve learned a valuable lesson, namely, never apply yourself to anything that isolates you from the people you care about. I fell off the wagon because I missed PEOPLE. Not such a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite.

Besides this, I miss sharing my day with people as well, and the lesson in this is that I need to narrow down my Friends lists without respect to the numbers obsession that goes along with social media. My rule of thumb is this: if I wouldn’t invite them to my home, why would I keep them around online? So here’s the 10 points I’m going to use in my decision-making.

  1. Are they someone I’ve actually met and have enjoyed being around? KEEP

  2. If we haven’t met, have we engaged in any sharing of ideas, laughter, or concerns online? KEEP

  3. Are we members of a Group or Community and have conversed there in a friendly manner? KEEP

  4. Do I even like them? KEEP

  5. Can we disagree respectfully and kindly? KEEP

  6. Have they ever, even once, posted shite about me, or posted passive-aggressive memes in my direction instead of confronting me personally? TOSS

  7. Have they ever, even once, posted shite about someone I care about? TOSS

  8. Are they mean-spirited, argumentative, or otherwise unpleasant? TOSS

  9. Have they ever “spied” on me, taking news of my posts to someone who dislikes me? TOSS

  10. Have we never conversed, commented, or addressed each other online, but simply add to each other’s numbers? TOSS

I don’t regard this experiment a failure, because I learned quite a bit in a short time. I learned that life is short and I’m not getting any younger. If logging in to Facebook over my morning coffee keeps me in touch with people I care about and who care about me, that’s not wasted time, it’s time well-spent. One day we’ll all be history. What’s a couple of hours each day if it makes me happy and I can add a little happiness to someone else’s day?

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


The 5 Worst Original Rock Band Names - April 2016

A lot of famous bands started their musical career on sour notes. They chose awkward, unmemorable names that never caught on. After all, how cool is it to hear Herbie’s Toilet, The Devil’s Crotch or Jewish Theological Everything Bagels in concert?

Fortunately, many bands saw the light (or heard the music) and we now know them by the new names they adopted.

Original Band Name: Tom and Jerry....but you know then as: Simon and Garfunkel

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met when they were teenagers in 1953. They practiced harmonizing and writing songs together, but first shied away from using their real names.

The duo made their debut as Tom and Jerry. In 1957, when they were just 15 years old, Tom and Jerry had their first minor hit, Hey Schoolgirl, which they performed on American Bandstand right after Jerry Lee Lewis sang Great Balls of Fire.

However, when no hits followed their initial burst of stardom, Paul and Art decided to concentrate on college. By 1974, the band resurfaced as the folk rock due Simon and Garfunkel.

Original Band Name: Mookie Blaylock...but you know them as: Pearl Jam

In October 1990, a new band from Seattle hit the stage with an unusual name, calling themselves Mookie Blaylock. Now you might think bands choose their names based on some great inspiration. Often the explanation is a lot more mundane.

Mookie Blaylock was the name of a New Jersey Nets basketball player. Somehow, Mookie’s trading card was mysteriously found taped to the case of one of the band’s early demos.

“It was kind of goofy,” said Pearl Jam singer songwriter Eddie Vetter explaining how the band got the name Mookie Blaylock. “But that first week, we were too busy working on songs to think about a name.”

Mookie Blaylock is an OK name for an unknown local band, but when they started to attract national attention, the Mookie Blaylock handle had to go. They’d never be able to trademark the name of an NBA player on their merchandise.

Original Name: Black to the Future...but you know them as: Roots

When Roots bandleader, Questlove (aka Ahmir Khalib Thompson), and Black Thought (aka Tarik Trotter) were high school buddies, they performed in a school talent show in 1969 as Radio Activity, but their name failed to ignite fans.

So they changed it to Black to the Future. The future house band for The Tonight Shown Starring Jimmy Fallon struck out again.

Then the hip hop band  from Philly chose a moniker that was much nerdier than the fans who were following them, calling themselves Square Roots. This time not only did their fans not like their name, it was also panned by a Philadelphia folk group named, you guessed it, Square Roots.

They went through a name-change once more time, dropping the “Square” and keeping Roots.

Original Band Name: The Obelisk...but you know them as: The Cure

The Gothic rock musicians who would become The Cure first named themselves after a large phallic monument, an Obelisk, but few middle school fans understand the potentially sexual meaning of their favorite group’s name.

At first, band member Robert Smith was just a background figure in The Obelisk, playing piano. But soon he moved up front and took charge of the group’s name.

He tried out Malice and Easy Cure, but neither of the names seemed to stick. Then, realizing the group was the antidote for hoards of lovelorn girl fans, he christened the Group as The Cure.

Original Band Name: The Pendeltons...but you know them as: The Beach Boys

Brian Wilson was probably feeling particularly unauthentic when he chose to name the band The Pendeltons after a plaid wool shirt favored by the surf community.  After all, in 1961, he was writing songs about surfing though he’d never “Hung 10” much less touched a surf board.

But even with that awkward, pseudo hip name, three months after the band formed, Candix Records released The Pendeltons’ debut single Surfin’.

The LA-based independent label hated the stuffy sounding name The Pendeltons and without notifying the band, they changed the group’s name to The Beach Boys.

Jack Goldenberg is a prolific Copywriter, innovative Creative Director and consummate, strategic marketer. Read his blog at  10 minutes of brilliance. With all he’s done, he still believes his best efforts are ahead of him.


The Mutability of Time - March 2016

They say time flies when you’re having fun, but I think they’re wrong, whoever “they” are. I remember when a year was a year long. The wait from summer to Christmas was almost painful; four years of high school was interminable, and, next, as a young mother, I thought my kids’ childhoods would last forever and that I’d never, ever sleep again. Ever. Then something happened…

Somewhere around 2000 my life picked up some velocity, increasing until a year felt like six months and five years felt like a single year. A decade? The decades of my forties and fifties whizzed by so fast, I scarcely even remember them. I feel a bit cheated, actually, because I seemed to pass from my thirties directly to my sixties in the blink of an eye. Do not pass Go, do not collect. So what causes time to fly? Fun? Nah… Busy-ness, that’s what. It doesn’t matter if it’s taken up at Disneyland or putting out fires at work, time flies when you’re busy.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I worked as a bartender at a pizza restaurant. I loved the busy nights when the local soccer teams came in for their post-game feeding and brewing frenzy because the evening raced by so fast, I hardly noticed it. I wasn’t really having fun although, social creature that I am, I loved bartending. I was on my feet running around behind the bar, filling and refilling soft drinks, pulling beer from the taps, pouring carafes of wine, busing tables, washing glasses and keeping the salad bar stocked and clean while still managing to be friendly and personable to the people who sat at the bar. No bar-back, no busers. Only after the rush was over was I able to look up at the clock to see that three or four hours had passed in what had felt like only one. So, yeah. Time flies when you’re too busy to perceive it. Doesn’t matter if it’s fun or if it’s grueling.

In my forties and fifties, life sped up because my busy-ness level increased. The whole of my forties was consumed with caretaking my elderly father and working high-energy, high corporate jobs. Then, in my fifties, my time was taken with caretaking my mother and raising a second family while coming to grips with the onset of chronic illness. Now that the chicks are out of the nest, both my parents are gone, and my health issues are under control, life has settled down to a comfortable pace. A day feels like a day again and, looking back at the year behind me, it feels like a year.

This time thing is puzzling, isn’t it? It’s completely mutable, dependent on our individual perceptions of it and, coupled with my love of quantum physics, it has become less real to me. In fact, without a brain to perceive it, time is non-existent, like the old tree-in-the-forest koan. I figure, as long as we know how to regulate our busy-ness to a pace that’s comfortable (which being over 60 allows), we can make the later years of our life whatever we want them to be. For the first time in our lives, our time is our own. From birth to retirement, our time belongs to somebody else, but after we’ve “done our time” we’re reprieved and set free at last. It’s a fitting reward for all the hard work and busy-ness we’ve put into other people.

That’s what I’m owning, anyway.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


No Jumps - Feb 2016

It's never too late to revisit old dreams!

We all have dreams that we pursued when we were younger. For whatever the reason, we made other decisions and left those dreams to follow another path. Sometimes we just lose interest or practical real life needs get in the way of following our hearts. Take my dream many years ago of being a professional dancer. Those practical real life issues like needing a job, wanting to be on my own supporting myself, feeling torn between a career in the arts and a career in business and law as well as physical limitations got in the way. That is, I let them get in the way and that was OK.

Recently, I went to NYC to see the unbelievable Misty Copeland perform the leading role in Romeo and Juliet at the Metropolitan Opera House and just sat there with tears in my eyes. She is such a breathtakingly beautiful dancer. Equally as beautiful was watching all the dancers pouring into the Met for the performance. No one left disappointed.

So now that I have retired, I decided to mix up my workouts by returning to ballet class. The body does not quite work the way it did years ago. You know what I mean. After years of karate, dancing, gymnastics, tennis, skiing, climbing stairs and just walking - there are aches and pains. Where I used to be able to bend forward and touch my nose to my knees - I can at least lean forward and look at my knees. I am not kidding!

One thing I told my ballet instructor when I started in the Fall was that I do not do jumps - no impact on these knees! So I was a little surprised one day in class when she asked us to come to the middle of the room and prepare to do jumps. Jumps! Really? So I just looked behind me and there was no one there. Then I looked at the dancer beside me and she looked back at me with a very puzzled expression.

Then I turned back and uttered the all time classic line "You talking to me?"

We all had a good laugh. At this stage of the game, if you cannot laugh at yourself, what fun is that?

On this journey, my feet may not leave the floor but on most days, I am still floating.

Clolita Vitale is a retired attorney just enjoying life and the journey. She writes about it all in her blog:


The River - Jan 2016

Well, I made it through another birthday. This year I was running a secret race with myself, thinking (somewhat subconsciously), “Can I still party like I used to do?” Turns out I can. Sort of. Certainly not every weekend and probably not even every month, but once or twice a year? Sure. Cookies and milk. It has taken me all weekend to get over it, but you have to allow yourself a little bachanalia every now and then, you know? The ironic thing is, I just don’t enjoy the altered state of consciousness anymore. A lot of people stop partying because they dread the aftermath, but that’s not what’s slowed me down. I just don’t like the feeling anymore. Sure, a giddy little wine buzz is really nice when with friends, but not a full-on party head.

What you have to understand is that I’ve always been a rock and roller. There must be a gene we share that makes us want to push the envelope just as far as we can, because I’ve partied with some of the best and kept up with ease. But those days are over and I just don’t do it anymore. Except for a birthday once a year, and even that’s tame by comparison. I hardly consider a bottle of champagne and a few vapes of medicinal grade weed to be high-caliber partying. Once upon a time I could double or even treble that. And imbibe lots of other stuff, too.

Enough of that, though. I got this turning 64 thing out of my system and that’s what I set out to do. Numbers are just that and how many times one has traveled around the sun doesn’t really mean much, it’s what one learns on the journey. During my most recent orbit I learned that getting older can be exciting and full of self-discovery, and that complaining about it—fighting it—only makes the experience harder. I learned that middle age, menopause and all that is merely a transition, not a permanent state, like puberty, only in reverse. Personally, I feel on the precipice of something wonderful. With my album under way, I’m feeling the itch to get back to my writing, which means Book Three of my rock and roll series will soon be under the pen. I’d started writing it some time ago, but everything got lost somehow and, after writing the first two books, I was tired and just couldn’t start over again. But it’s returning and today I begin reading Books One and Two to get my bearings a little and get reacquainted with my characters.

This isn’t a typical autumn. It hasn’t been a typical year, come to that, and I’m really enjoying it. My morning glories bloomed about three weeks later than usual this year and, due to all the rain we’ve gotten, there is no sign of autumn anywhere in the neighborhood. And it’s still in the high-80s—perfect weather. This means I’m finally able to spend significant time in my garage/studio. Hopefully, this album will be finished and ready to sell by year’s end. We’ll see. If I’ve learned anything really important this year, it’s that all things happen in their own time and that I’ve no need to rush anything. And that’s quite a departure for me, a Type-A personality in my younger days.

Yeah. That’s what I’ve learned this year: Don’t push the river. Even when you host the occasional party.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Dear Prudence - Nov 2015

When I was five my parents, who watched, somewhat perplexed, as I taught myself to read piano music and to play my grandmother’s piano, took me to the Story & Clark showroom in Ventura. I remember that day vividly, the exact location of the store and the magical feeling of being surrounded by so many beautiful instruments. I didn’t know why we were there and it took me many years to realize that you, in all your blonde radiance, were to be mine and not just a piece of furniture for my mother’s brand new living room. In those days the big thing was blonde wood and my parents, after enlarging the living room by about 12 feet, bought all new pieces, very modern, very trendy, and all very turquoise, pink, and tan. And then the Jetson-like ashtrays in pink and turquoise and in sleek triangular shapes. We were stylin’ out there on Orange Drive.

And then they added you.

Getting a piano of my own was one thing, but the fact that my parents shelled out so much money ($900 in 1957 was a lot—nearly $8000 in today’s money) was no small thing. I suspect they saved for years to do the remodel and buy all new furniture, and you, that year.

Of all the things I miss, I miss you the most and I always wonder where you are. Are you in someone’s living room? Are children learning on you in a classroom? Are you helping a struggling composer? Did you get stripped for parts? I can’t think about it too much, because my heart just crumbles into a million little pieces.

Through the years you went through a number cosmetic changes. In 1972 Dad removed your blonde finish and stained you walnut. He also replaced your modern legs with turned spindle legs (Mom had gone Early American by then) and took his router to all of your square edges. Later, in 1988, I painted you white. We knew each other through and through; I even tuned and repaired you myself through the years. If I ever come across you on the web I’ll move hell and high water to buy you back. And I’ll know you, too. You have a few little flaws that would be hard to hide. And besides, I still have your birth certificate, including your serial number. I keep my eyes open, but so far you haven’t shown up. I have to admit that the same model, like the one pictured, would be a huge temptation. I could almost—almost—pretend it was you.

Anyway, Prudence, if you’re out there somewhere, please find me. I miss you so much.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Dying Words - Nov 2015

“If you spend all your time worrying about dying, living isn’t going to be much fun.”
       from the television show Roseanne


“Because I could not stop for Death—

He kindly stopped for me—

The Carriage held but just Ourselves—

And Immortality….”

         Emily Dickinson, c.1863

The Final Words:

• “I’m going to the bathroom to read.”

• “I should never have switched from Scotch to martinis.”

• “That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.”

• “I love you too, honey. Good luck with your show.”

• “Surprise me.” (When asked where the burial place should be.)

• “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.” (When a nurse started to pray at the bedside)

• “I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get.”

• “This is no way to live!”

Groucho Marx / Desi Arnaz / Lou Costello / Bob Hope / Donald O’Connor / Elvis Presley / Joan Crawford / Humphrey Bogart


• “I’m going to the bathroom to read.” Elvis Presley

• “I should never have switched from Scotch to martinis.” Humphrey Bogart

• “I’m bored with it all.” Winston Churchill

• “That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.” Lou Costello

• “I love you too, honey. Good luck with your show.” Desi Arnaz

• “Surprise me.”  Bob Hope

• “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”  Joan Crawford

• “I’d like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award...” Donald O’Connor

• “This is no way to live!” Groucho Marx

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Car Geezers - Oct 2015

I really don’t like 95% of national car commercials… 100% of locally produced car commercials.

The latest commercials that made me cringe star The Golden Sisters – three old bitties spouting obnoxious and rude comments that reinforce the stereotype of bitter withered wrinkled old ladies who go through life complaining.

I didn’t know they were a “thing” until I read about them by accident. I figured they were just casted to play a part.

Wrong, Geritol breath.

They are really sisters.

But I didn’t know they had a name, “The Golden Sisters” and were such a thing.

The oldest sister, the no-nonsense Mary Bartnicki, 85,  is actually the most outspoken, and as with most oldest children, loves to tell the younger ones to “Shut up!”  One of the younger twins—75-year-old Teresa  (“Terry”) Dahlquist—is actually a talent agent and tends to overact, while her twin, Josie Cavalluzzi, sometimes plays second banana.

Born with the maiden name of Conticchio in the fair borough with the “The” in the name, all three have maintained their brash Bronx-ishness despite living in California’s San Fernando Valley since the 1960s.

Two years ago, the sisters became the unlikely insta-stars of the Internet, when a video of them reacting to watching the Kim Kardashian/Ray J sex tape on “the computer” (as Mary  calls it) went viral. It reportedly got two million hits in 24 hours—all  by people under the age of 50, according to Google Analytics.

Without showing any of what they are looking at—the pre-Mrs. Kanye’s XXX-rated stuff—the sisters’ facial reactions and judgments are given to play-by-play analysis like, “It’s got a purple tip!” and “She’s just laying there.”

VW agency Deutsch LA started with making a few low-cost social videos with the sisters, for Golf TDI clean diesel (mostly a young person’s car.).  Titled “Old Wives’ Tales about Diesel,” these made clever thematic sense, given that Mary, Josie, and Terry are the new version of old wives. (Mary is a widow, but a merry one.) Apparently the spots are lightly scripted,and the sisters improvise the rest.

The VW dealers went so crazy (understandable because local car dealers have no marketing sense) for the sisters’ work that they wanted to use the sisters in the year-end “rear-end” sales event for the Passat, and also decided to double down by running snippets of the Diesel work on TV.

Ugh. Hate them.

Bright spot: geezers with a bad attitude have a future in television commercials.

Contact me.

Mark Van Patten writes a blog called Going Like Sixty and has been married to the same woman since 1968.


Out Takes - Sept 2015

While designing my album’s cover, I’ve taken a closer look at the covers that have supplied me with years of pondering, consideration, study and entertainment. By this I mean that I still really look at a cover whenever I pick it up. In the 1960s and ’70s a lot of covers had secrets or in-jokes embedded on them and we’d spend a lot of time trying to analyze them. This was taken to ridiculous lengths with the Beatles’ Abbey Road cover on which some obsessed fans found meanings that didn’t even exist.

One of my favorite covers in this regard is that of the Crosby, Stills & Nash eponymous debut album, a cover that perfectly typifies the era as it was in southern California. Laid back, unconcerned with material possessions and down home in a rock and roll sort of way. There weren’t any heavy secrets in the photo, but there was a bit to see.

I remember the first time I heard this album. I’d driven to Topanga Canyon to visit some friends who lived in a quasi-commune and, as we sat smoking a little grass, talking and having fun, one of the guys who lived there put the album on the stereo. I was blown away. This group blew everyone away when they appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Looking the cover over in my grass-addled state I wondered, Who’s who? The guy on the far right is David Crosby, but who are the other two? What are their first names? Where was this photo taken? Why such ratty furniture, who’s the guy looking out the door and why is he on the back cover? I knew that Crosby was David Crosby of the Byrds fame, but I didn’t know that Stills was Steven Stills of Buffalo Springfield and Nash was Graham Nash of the Hollies. And I had absolutely no clue about the guy in the door. Since the music was obviously sung by a vocal trio, I figured he must be a friend or a session musician. It was only later that all these things came to light.

At the time of the photo shoot, which was done by the incomparable Henry Diltz, the trio hadn’t settled on a name so they didn’t consider in what order to sit on the couch, which is, from left to right: Nash, Stills and Crosby. A few days later they decided on Crosby, Stills & Nash as their official name, but when they went back to reshoot the photo, sitting in that order to avoid record buyers’ confusion, the old railroad workers house had been torn down. It was on Palm Avenue, a small side street near an Orange Julius stand on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Oh, and the guy peering out the door on the back cover was the group’s drummer, Dallas Taylor.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and



I'm Still Here - Sept 2015

Every now and again a memory will come to me of some stupid, careless, or thoughtless thing I did when I was a teenager in the Sixties, and I’ll immediately feel regret, not for the thing itself, but for what my actions did to my parents. Now that I’m older than they were then, I empathize completely with them. It has become my practice to apologize for these things at the very moment I feel any regret. I do this out loud, as if they are sitting in the room with me. And who’s to say they’re not? Maybe they’re bringing these memories to my mind, seemingly out of nowhere, as if to say, “Now that we’re pure energy, it’s our job as your parents to give you an opportunity to clear your karma.”

Well, maybe not. Maybe I’m just at the right age, and have experienced enough worry as a parent of kids who are now adults, to appreciate my past foolishness, and self-accountable enough to ‘fess up when I know I’ve fucked up. But then again, maybe, sometimes, I simply miss my parents and wish I’d talked over these things with them while they were still here.

All things considered, I was a pretty good kid, which wasn’t always easy in that era of flower power and free love. “Turn on, tune in, dropout” wasn’t a cute slogan, it was a powerful call to a higher consciousness, another way of BEING. I lived in California where everything was happening. To the south, Hollywood offered hip night clubs on the Sunset Strip and the freak show of Venice Beach, and to the north, San Francisco offered Haight-Ashbury. Living on the central coast, I oftentimes felt like a rope in a game of cultural tug-of-war.

I suppose that when I turned 18 and I went to Haight-Ashbury rather than to Hollywood, it was because most of the concerts I’d attended featured San Francisco bands. Also, for me, Hollywood still represented old school movie stars, not modern music. We had no idea that Laurel Canyon would turn out to be every bit as important musically as San Francisco. History is retrospective, after all. Had I known, in 1968 after we’d moved to Camarillo, that Laurel Canyon was where  artists like Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne (to name only a few) were incubating, I would have turned left on the 101 instead of right.

If I have any one regret about that adventurous, exciting era, it’s going to Haight-Ashbury. My clandestine departure from my parents’ house one October afternoon set things into motion that still reverberate not only in my own life, but in the lives of my family as well. I have apologized to my parents many times for it, but at the same time, I give myself a bit of room. It was the Sixties, after all, and I’m still here.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Butterfly Picks - August 2015

I don’t remember when I began teaching myself different fingerpicking patterns, but I do remember buying a set of plastic fingerpicks. I tried them a couple of times, but they didn’t feel natural to me, so I put them in a box somewhere and forgot about them. Well, except for the thumb pick. That came in handy sometimes. I went back to my usual bare finger fingerpicking (try saying that three times!), not even considering grooming my nails to work for me. Lately, though, I’ve become more aware of the different sounds I can create using my nails. Problem is, my nails are extremely fragile and just one night of extended playing probably would trash them. Guitar players go to all kinds of lengths to have strong nails, including having acrylics and gels applied. I don’t know about you, but I hate the heaviness of fake nails, and they’re expensive besides. What’s a choosy guitarist to do?

Last week I saw Butterfly Fingerpicks on Pinterest and I was immediately intrigued. Besides looking damned cool, the idea behind them seemed rational. Adjustable wires form-fitted to my fingers and nails? Hey! That sounded like those Indian water buffalo sandals we had in the Sixties! With those, all you had to do was put them on and stand a bath tub of water for a while, stretching them out, and then walk around in them until they were dried to a custom fit! I ordered a set of fingerpicks, and they arrived today.

First of all, they come in a really sturdy clear plastic box. Who wants to worry about them getting smashed by your gear? They come in three metals: gold, silver, and copper. I got the copper ones because I wanted a softer, less metallic sound from my 12-string. They also come in three basic sizes, small, medium, and large.

When I took them out I thought, “Figuring out which pick goes on which finger might not be easy,” but I needn’t have worried. It was pretty obvious.

When I first put them on, they didn’t fit at all, but I was prepared for that. I bought the small size, and they were just a bit too tight and a couple of them didn’t slide into place at all. But these are adjustable, remember? I went to the website and read the instructions on how to fit them properly.

With all four in place, I was surprised at how comfortable they are. You really could wear them for hours. But fingerpicks aren’t just for looks and comfort, you know. They have to sound good, so I tried them on each of my three guitars. On the Luna Trinity 12-string they were hard to use; all those strings so close together made picking a bit clumsy, but I suspect that with practice that’ll sort itself out. On the Fender nylon string they sounded great, a lot like when classical guitarists use their long nails. But it was on the Briarwood 6-string that they really wowed me. Nice action and even nicer tone.

The hardest part for me will be getting accustomed to playing with “extensions”. I’m used to my fingers being right on the strings and without that sensation of skin-against-string, I feel a little disconnected. I’m going to work with them, one guitar at a time, until I’m comfortable using them on all three.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and


Down On the Farm - July 2015

A few hundred idealistic, mostly baby boomer souls leave San Francisco in brightly-painted school buses and vans on a caravan quest across America, searching for a spot to establish an utopian community. In 1971, after 7 months, the group plops on the promised land in the wilderness of Tennessee. It’s the height of the Viet-Nam war and youth rebellion.

Over the years, The Farm became a counterculture mecca, with over 4000 official members at one time or another. Some 100,000 were overnight visitors in the 1970s. It was the largest hippie establishment of its kind in North America. The Wall St. Journal called it the “General Motors of American Communes.”

Charismatic founder Stephen Gaskin’s vision was a mix of old and new. Believe it or not, baby boomers didn’t invent the commune or utopia. Special enclaves, usually in rural areas far from the maddening urban crowd, had long been a tradition in American culture, from Romantics to religious sects to socialists. Born in the rise and decline of the San Francisco hippie scene, Gaskin emerged as a new age prophet who was once described as “the Gandhi of the American Counterculture.”

Back to land was his clarion call, away from the distractions and corruptions of cities. It seemed to him “the natural progression of the whole hippy movement.” It represented nothing less than the creation a new, progressive human soul with heightened consciousness, or as one early member described it, “to decondition ourselves from our capitalist condition and recondition ourselves for a better society.”

The Farm required vows of poverty and selfless discipline to a clear code of conduct. It was a tribe,” a follower said. “That body is our church, or group soul.”

In 1983, financial problems and challenges to Gaskin’s leadership led to the “Changeover” or “Exodus.” Members left in droves and survivors were required to support themselves rather than donate all income to a central bank. Today, there are about 175 members, many of whom run their own small businesses at the Farm.

Trivia Factoids

Stephen Gaskin’s last venture was a “Not-for-Profit Development and Intelligence Corporation” called Rocinante, a new age hippie retirement home, named after Don Quixote’s horse. Gaskin died in 2014.

In 2000, Gaskin ran for President in Green Party primaries, but lost the nomination. He describes his politics as “Beatnik” and his religion as “Hippy.”

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Presidential Cravings - July 2015

Warning: This Is Not Appetizing

“Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.”  ~Anonymous

Lyndon Johnson loved Fresca so much he installed a sofa fountain dispenser in the Oval Office exclusively for the drink. His special treat was hot biscuits with deer sausage. He was the first President to throw an outdoor barbecue at the White House.

Bill Clinton’s favorite sandwich is peanut butter and bananas.

Dwight Eisenhower as a General chained smoked four packs of Camels a day. He quit before becoming President. He and wife Mamie enjoyed eating TV dinners while watching television. By the way, the first TV dinner served in U.S was on 9/10/53 (Turkey).

Richard Nixon’s main comfort food was Spaghetti-Os.

Ronald Reagan had a huge sweet tooth. He got his Jelly Belly addiction while kicking his pipe smoking addiction. They were served in the Oval Office and on Air Force One. Blueberry was his favorite flavor. He also consumed chocolate ice cream and cake on a daily basis.

Harry Truman never cooked a meal in his life (that we know of).

Gerald Ford was a Midwest kind of guy and liked basic, hearty vittals. His favorite dinner: pot roast, potatoes, red cabbage, and butter pecan ice cream.

John Kennedy’s alcohol of choice was ice-cold beer. Jackie preferred daiquiris.

Jimmy Carter loved grits and served it to most White House guests. Yes, he loved peanuts, too.

George H. Bush despised broccoli. “I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And now I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” True to his word, it was never served in his White House. He put hot sauce on everything, and loved pork rinds smothered in the spicy stuff.

George W. Bush fancied BLTs made with Kraft Singles on white bread.

Discravings. Barack Obama worked at Baskin Robbins as a teenager and today he avoids ice cream. He smokes (did he really quit?) but doesn’t drink coffee. By the way, Teddy Roosevelt would swill a gallon of java everyday.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Getting Things in Hand - June 2015

It's been such a long time since I played a guitar every day of my life, my calluses have gotten a bit soft on me. They're still there, but they've been sleeping. This past week, I've rather called Reveille on them, however, and they're proudly rising to the occasion.

I'm not a believer in "Play until your fingers bleed!" In fact, unless you're onstage and it occurs from an especially robust session, it's pointless. When I was younger and first learning guitar, my grandmother, who was a musician and knew about these things. told me to soak my fingertips in vinegar before and after playing. It really worked, and I developed a healthy, durable set of calluses that can still be called on after 50 years. These days I'm giving Eric Clapton's advice a try by soaking them in rubbing alcohol instead of vinegar. So far, so good. It in fact seems to work more quickly than vinegar. I also think that the fact that I'm switching between 6-string and 12-string guitar is helpful, because doing so covers the entire fingertip pad; it may be a little more painful, but not as painful as playing a 6-string, exclusively.

Working on getting both my playing and singing chops back into shape is proving to be a real joy. It's just my memory where lyrics are concerned that's the challenge. My hands know what to do (good old muscle memory never fails!) so I don't give that a second thought. Remembering the words of 36 songs, however, is proving to be harder, not to mention that all of my music was lost back in 2001 and I'm having to dredge up my own song lyrics. Most of them have resurfaced, and those that just won't, I'm simply rewriting. What's the harm? Who's to know? They're my songs.

I have five months until my house concert, and there's plenty of time to get everything in hand, so to speak, calluses and lyrics, so I'm not worried in the least. Meanwhile, all of this is completely silencing the old stage fright beast, and that was the biggest challenge of all.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Bucksnort Chronicles and



Live It! - June 2015

“Don’t dream it…Live it.”

       Frederick’s of Hollywood motto

Before the baby boomer sexual revolution, there was the risque revolution.

In 1947, Frederick’s brought “naughty” European frilly black panties to staid white cotton American women. It debuted the padded bra—dubbed “Rising Star,” then introduced the first push-up model and created a pointed, cone-stitched wonder called “Missiles.”

The advertising shattered taboos and became soft-core classics. Provocative, curvaceous women in skimpy teddies, exotic cat suits, harem costumes, and see-through lingerie popped up everywhere—strutting a fine line between sexy lady and streetwalker. Both were customers.

With looks based on male fantasies, Frederick’s also pitched men’s publications, especially at Christmas. “You get my ties and socks, honey, why can’t I pick your panties and pumps?”

Hollywood starlets gobbled up the products. Mae West and Marilyn Monroe showcasing Frederick’s fashions sold a lot of negligees. Baby boomers were coming-of-age. The best promotion was a gift by feminists who burned bras in front of the gaudy pink and purple Frederick’s Hollywood  headquarters, attracting media attention and spiking sales, which were beginning to lag.

Guess who brought the bold French bikini to the New World and introduced American women to the scandalous Brazilian thong? Fredericks also launched the front-hook (easy to open) bra, shoulder pad bras, and an array of never-before-imagined body shapers. Feel short even with 6 inch pumps? Combine with a “head pad” and scrape the clouds.

With all its profitable adventure, the company had a sense of history, establishing a Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame. Some sizzling items (the tip of the bustier):

  • A fur trimmed negligee and bra worn by Cybil Shepard in “Moonlighting”
  • Peg Bundy’s “Married With Children” D-cup model
  • A pair of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s black lace panties and two Cher bras (size 32B) from their private collections
  • A black and gold tassel bustier that adorned Madonna in the “Who’s That Girl?” Tour
  • Phyllis Diller’s “training bra” marked “This Side Up!”
  • And to even out the presentation: undies from female and male cast members of “Beverly Hills 90210,” Tom Hanks’ “Forrest Gump” boxer shorts, a Milton Berle bra donned during his famous transvestite performances on television, and the support strapped around drop-dead- gorgeous-either- way Tony Curtis for his cross-dressing role in “Some Like It Hot.”

A bankruptcy, a re-organization, a merger and Frederick’s is still going strong with 124 locations and a formidable online presence.

Trivia Factoids

The Hollywood Museum was looted during urban disturbances in 1999. The one-of-kind treasures lost included an historic Madonna tassel bra. When a $1000 no-questions-asked reward went unheeded, the diva generously provided a new one in return for a $10,000 donation to clinics offering free mammograms to the poor.

The company unveiled two new styles in 1998—Hollywood Kiss using all-around wishbone construction to create a “kissing cleavage” and the unique Water Bra featuring push-up padding filled with a rosewater/oil mixture.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Who Were the Beatniks - May 2015

Just Who Were The Beatniks? Literary Visionaries, Cultural Rebels, Street Thugs, or Maynard G. Krebs?

With all due respect to Greenwich Village, the epicenter of the Beat Movement was closer to Greenwich Street in San Francisco – a 20 minute jaunt to fabled North Beach. Here is where the likes of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Cassady, and Ferlinghetti roamed the streets and back alleys. City Lights was the mecca Beat book store.

In fact, “beatnik” was coined by San Francisco Examiner columnist Herb Caen. “Beat Generation” had already appeared in print and speech. Caen’s term was originally used to describe the fallout of the San Francisco Beat scene, when suburban kids began pouring in to party on the weekends. He added the Russian suffix “nik” soon after Sputnik was launched in 1957. Caen was not fond of beatniks and the name likely represented a slap at their criticism of American values. Allen Ginsberg called the term “foul.” Coincidently, it rhymes with “Howl,” first read in San Francisco.

It was here that the famous obscenity trial for Howl took place.

On March 25, 1957, Customs officials seized 520 copies of the poem imported from a  London printer. No publishing house in the U.S. had dared to touch it. Soon the City Lights manager was arrested and jailed for selling Howl and Other Poems to an undercover San Francisco police officer. City Lights Publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti was next, charged with publishing the material. At the obscenity trial, nine literary experts testified on the poem’s behalf. Ferlinghetti won the case when the California Superior Court decided that the poem was of “redeeming social importance.”

That decision led to the American publication of the previously censored Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover. The trial publicity brought the San Francisco Beat Movement into the national spotlight (Life Magazine was fascinated by the ordeal) and inspired many would-be poets and lifestyle seekers to make their way out to the West Coast.

The benign television face of the beatnik in the 1950s was Maynard G. Krebs: sweet (in a stinky kind of way), cute, like…even adorable.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


He Turned Into a Lady - April 2015

I dreamed I was at Bob Dylan's house in Malibu, where I occupied a large recliner chair in the living room. I'd been there all day and, although I was with him and a number of other people, listening to music, drinking wine and talking, he didn't acknowledge me. He didn't ignore me, I was just one of the guests, no one important.

He put different albums on the stereo—all vinyl discs—but none of the music really registered on me. It was good background music, the kind that people talk over in small gatherings like this one. It was Dylan's music, of course, and, although I liked most of it, none of it stood out to me as being anything new or any different from anything he'd released over the years. Mostly, I just enjoyed being there, looking out at the Pacific Ocean while listening to Dylan and his friends talking, laughing, and feeling relaxed and mellow.

This went on for what felt like all night. Finally, this morning, right before I woke up, he put on a copy of an album he was about to release, what we used to call an acetate. It was zydeco inspired, unique, all Dylan, and it was amazing. One song in particular possessed my attention, one in a minor key. I told everyone to be quiet and listen, that this was something special, and we listened.

Toward the end of the recording Dylan stood up to leave the room and he came over to where I sat, took my hand in his, and walked behind me around the chair. When I looked up at him again, he'd turned into a Lady, refined, elegant, generous. I kissed his (her) hand in gratitude and the exchange of feelings between us was so tender, I was deeply moved. I felt as if he/she had bestowed on a me a pure and significant blessing.

The music is still in my head, and that's blessing enough.

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Incurable Insomniac and


70s Snapshot - March 2015

“The show addressed social issues of the 1970s such as sexism, sexual attitudes, generational conflict, the economic hardships of the 1970s recession, mistrust of the American government by blue-collar workers, and teenage drug use, developments in the entertainment industry, the television remote,  and Star Wars.” ~Wikipedia description of That 70′s Show.

— Best-Selling Full Sized Car: Chevy Impala ($4900)

— Winner of Academy Award Best Picture: Rocky

— #1 Television Show: All in the Family

— #1 Song: Love Will Keep Us Together

— Best Selling novel: Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

— Best-Selling non-fiction: Angels: God’s Secret Agents by Billy Graham

— Time Magazine Man of the Year: American Women

— Gallup Poll – Most Admired Man: Henry Kissinger

— Gallup Poll – Most Admired Woman: Betty Ford

— World Series winner: Cincinnati Reds

— Most important business start-up: Microsoft

Memorable Movie Quotes from the 1970s

“Give me Librium or give me meth.” ~ The Boys in the Band

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” ~ Love Story

“Follow the money….Just follow the money.” ~ All the President’s Men

“I have a very pessimistic view of life. You should know this about me if we’re gonna go out. You know, I – I feel that life is – is divided up into the horrible and the miserable. ~ Annie Hall

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning…smells like…victory.” ~ Apocalypse Now

“You make it with some of these chicks, they think you gotta dance with them.” ~ Saturday Night Fever

“I’m not sure she’s capable of any real feelings. She’s television generation. She learned life from Bugs Bunny. The only reality she knows comes to her from over the TV set.” ~ Network

“They uh, was givin’ me ten thousand watts a day, you know, and I’m hot to trot. The next woman takes me out is gonna light up like a pinball machine, and pay off in silver dollars.” ~ One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Pie in the Sky Aliens - Feb 2015

Before World War II, sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects were far and few between. Suddenly, the sky was filled with darting lights and mysterious who-knows-whats? Extra-terrestrials seemed to be arriving in tourist droves.

Why a flying saucer? Did Hollywood create that pop culture image in the early baby boomer era? No, it was an airborne businessman in 1947 who reported strange lights in the sky he described as a “saucer slipping across water” and “flat like a pie pan.” Headlines erupted and hundreds of sightings were recorded in the next few weeks. The visions have hardly declined. The U.S. concluded then and now no credible evidence of aliens visiting earth exists.

The Federal government does not have any information about extraterrestrial life to conceal, and there are no secret projects for me to investigate.

This according to Orrin Hatch, who has served in the Senate for 35 years and
      should be privy to the truth – whatever it is.

Prominent people, including astronauts, the first CIA Director, and Barry Goldwater disagree. The public is also skeptical. Could officials be withholding vital information? This suspicion is bolstered by leaked government reports that recommend concealment to avert panic should evidence be found.

What happened well over half a century ago in Roswell, New Mexico, and why has the phenomenon continued to fascinate to this day? Some suggest that the incredible arsenal of weapons exploded during World War II, culminating in the atom bomb and more testing of nuclear weapons later, alerted our cosmic neighbors who decided to visit and see who these Earth maniacs are.

Another explanation is planted in terra firma: we could now explore the heavens and public imagination turned outward. Combined with a doomsday Cold War, a mass paranoia spread.

More recently, information has emerged that the U.S. government is and continues to experiment with advanced technology aircraft that is sometimes saucer shaped. People have indeed been spotting UFO’s, but they are home grown.

Trivia Factoids

› In movies, aliens were usually hostile or at least haughty and condescending. And why not? Mankind can hardly boast an enlightened history, and visitors were presumably lights years ahead of us in every way. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET were the first major films to portray benign pop culture extraterrestrials.

› Before the official 1955 Frisbee introduction, it was a unsuccessful toy the original inventor dubbed “Pipco Flying Saucer” and later “Pluto Platter” to exploit the frenzy of UFO sightings.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Silver Gamers - Dec 2014

Earlier this year, a report from The Guardian claimed that there’s a rise among what they call “Silver Gamers,” otherwise known as video game enthusiasts who encompass the entire age group known as “older people.” But while “younger people” might be playing purely for entertainment purposes, silver gamers are experiencing an additional positive side effect.

The article cited a study from the University of California—San Francisco, which found that “60-year-olds who played a custom-designed video game for 12 hours over the course of a month improved their multitasking abilities to levels better than those achieved by 20-year-olds playing the game for the first time.” Not only that, but it noted that “the subjects retained those improvements six months later.”

Now, while I can certainly see how some games would appeal to geezers, let’s be honest: the games they’re talking about are not complex adventure/shooter console games.

The language in the games can be pretty rough. I do not have the patience to deal with a bunch of kids telling me that they’ve done derogatory things to my mother over a headset. Saying those things to anyone, let alone someone over 60, isn’t clever — it’s just disgusting. At least have the decency to come up with a good “your mama” joke.

So what games are geezers more likely to play? According to Slate over a third of older adults claim to play some kind of digital game at least once a week, with 17% reporting that they game every day.

One of the most common types of games reported among the survey group were motion-detecting sports games, specifically Wii Bowling, of Nintendo’s Wii Sports. As much as it may seem cliche, the most popular game reportedly enjoyed by Baby Boomers are puzzle games. Games like solitaire and Bejeweled are two favorites, especially when played on tablets or handheld devices.

Yeah, a lot of the games people our age are interested in probably sound simple to the younger crowd, but hell, at least they have the potential to help keep us sharp — something that the brat with a username like YoLoBiTCheZ9573 probably can’t claim. But then again he’s probably too busy coming up with witty ways to inform other users of the fact that he’s porking their loved ones.

Mark Van Patten writes a blog called Going Like Sixty and has been married to the same woman since 1968.


Weigh To Go! - Nov 2014

I heard it first from a doctor, urging me to shed some weight instead of starting medication to lower my blood sugar: “Starving mice live longer.”

That near-nothing diet is a tad too drastic for baby boomers, but the principle still applies. Lab animals on this program live about 30% longer than normal.

One expert boldly states that calorie reduction “is the only nutritional regimen thought to retard aging.” Even midlife mice can start the diet and get the longevity benefit.

If the average baby boomer expects to live to 85, a 30% increase gives you an additional 25 years. Is it worth it? Just how many calories do you have to give up?

For those 51+ who are “moderately active,” the American Heart Association sets guidelines from 2000-2200 calories for females, 2200-2400 for males. The average American adult consumes a whopping 4000 a day.

The Calorie Restriction Society is almost 20 years old – not a pop culture fad diet. It goes beyond the American Heart Association to recommend 1100 to 1950 calories a day, depending on height, weight and gender. A study of eighteen members ages 35 to 82 revealed a blood fat  lower than 95% of those in their 20s. The average blood pressure was 100/60 – typical for a 10-year-old.

Some scientists believe such a restricted diet would only modestly increase life span. There are two serious downsides. The regimen tends to lower the libido. And researchers report that skinny mice are mean: “If you take the lid off the cage, they immediately bite you.” Humans on the diet list “crankiness” as a side effect.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Midnight Ride - Oct 2014

If you grew up in the USA during the Sixties, it was impossible for you not to know of Paul Revere & The Raiders. From 1966 to about 1970 their hits were a constant on the Billboard Top 100, but most of us enjoyed our first exposure while watching Dick Clark's Where The Action Is in the afternoons after school. They were impossible to miss. It was more than their modified Revolutionary War era costumes (ooh, Mark Lindsay in those tights!), though. It was their showmanship, their humor, and certainly their music, but it also was their stage act, orchestrated by leader Paul Revere with his broad smile and slapstick antics. Yesterday, Paul Revere lost his battle with cancer at the age of 76, which is fitting since the band's image so doggedly adhered to the 1776 theme. This had to be Paul's last laugh, I suspect, and it makes me smile.

Make no mistake about it. Paul Revere formed a well-oiled, professional band and as members came and went all the way through today, he knew what made that band successful: rock-solid musicians, polished stage routines, all-out entertainment value, and a tried-and-true professionalism that's been lacking for decades. Paul was known as a warm, affable, generous, and kind man, but I suspect he also reigned supreme from behind his keyboards. He was a true leader and members who left did so usually due to artistic differences. That's okay. To be a Raider meant that Mr. Revere led the show.

Until the advent of heavier music by Jimi Hendrix and Cream in 1967, the Raiders were the only group to pull me away from my blind and blinkered worship of the Beatles. The songs on their albums were a diverse mix that covered everything from novelty rock to biker blues and although some songs could be a little kitschy, there were plenty of rockers to keep me listening for hours while I did my homework or sunbathed in the backyard.

It's a peculiar kind of grief we feel when someone like Paul Revere dies. In most cases we've never met them, much less known them personally, and in a lot of cases we haven't listened to their albums in ages, so why do we mourn? Truth is, their death presents us with a startling reminder that we too are mortal and that our time of departure is creeping ever closer.

Ride on, Paul Revere. We'll catch you on the flip side!

Steph Waller is an author and composer. Books One and Two (With A Dream and With A Bullet) of her rock and roll series, Beyond The Bridge,  takes places in late 70s London. Read more at Incurable Insomniac and


Short Tales from the Dog Park - Oct 2014

Overheard at the dog park: “I thought Emma would calm down a little after I got her the kitten.

The attractive, professional-looking woman, standing next to a small pack of canines, was not referring to a child named Emma.  Instead, she was talking about her frisky, four-legged, Sheltie-mix named Emma.  That’s right, earlier this year, for Emma’s first birthday, the woman bought her a cat.

Stuffed, you ask?  A wind up toy, you wonder?  A joke, you hope?

No, no and no.

This woman, who looked sane, but obviously isn’t, bought a real, live kitty because she believed her dog Emma wanted one for a playmate.  After sharing this news, she moved on to another topic: What costume to buy Emma for Halloween?  After all, it was only five weeks away and all the “really great” costumes sell out quickly.

I’m a proud dog owner, and I love Callie, my Goldendoodle puppy.  However, Callie is not getting a cat for Christmas, no matter how much she whines.  It is simply going too far.  However, on the way home from the dog park, I did ponder a Halloween costume.  Indeed, my little Callie would look pretty cute dressed up as a kitty-cat.

As we pulled into our driveway, I asked her, “Callie would you like to be a cat for Halloween?  “Grooof!” she replied.  I took that as a yes.

Nancy Wurtzel  writes about making big changes at midlife in her blog Dating Dementia. Read about Nancy’s often humorous and sometimes twisted journey as a baby boomer, single woman, empty nester, feminist and caregiver.


We Will Rock You - Sept 2014

It gave people a few moments of absolutely meaningless pleasure in a troubled world—no small accomplishment. If there were more fads there would probably be a lot fewer psychiatrists.

         Ken Hakuta, inventor of the Wacky Wall Wacker.

It baby boomed into the firmament and then plummeted to earth with a thud heard round the world. As often happens with silly ideas, it was born in a bar. California ad exec Gary Dahl and his drinking pals were discussing pets. They’re such a responsibility, he moaned. Know what would make a perfect companion? A rock.

Imagination is cheap; the trick is to take a stupid in-your-face idea and market it.

The packaging was inspired. Dahl bought uniform round, gray Mexican stones for a penny each (the most expensive available), swaddled each in nesting material and placed it in a pet carrying case with handles and air holes. Included was a 30-page Care and Training of Your Pet Rock Manual with detailed chapters on obedience and tricks.

The baby boomer fad was a one-hit wonder but made its creator an overnight millionaire. Unlike the Hula-Hoop or Frisbee that drew new fans after a boomer generation, the Pet Rock had no function or shelf life – the secret to both its popularity and rapid demise.

Debuted at a 1975 San Francisco gift show, upper-end Neiman Marcus started the fad rolling by ordering 500. Newsweek did a half-page spread and daily newspapers ran stories, often with Dahl’s tale of how each rock was tested for obedience before selected, or other such nonsense. The inventor appeared on the Tonight Show twice – television was the ultimate boomer promotional tool.  It sold retail for $3.95, representing one of the great profit margins in history.

Trivia Factoids

Beware of imitations. The most popular and deceiving copycat is called the “Original Pet Rock.”

A 1975 Pet Rock complete in box fetches $20-$30 on eBay.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Smiling Faces - August 2014

It was embraced and reviled.

Around since the 1950s, the Smiley Face became a huge pop culture fad in the early 1970s. A pair of baby boomer brothers got the bright idea to create it as a sales logo to counter what they saw as an era dominated by protest and unrest. It was intended as re-take on the peace symbol.

They generated a happy army of merchandise emblazoned with the symbol: coffee mugs, cookie jars, t-shirts, bumper stickers and, of course, buttons. By 1972, an astonishing 50 million pin-ons were in circulation, many with the caption: “Have a Great Day.”

It didn’t take long for other baby boomers to turn the symbol upside down. The Temptations and Undisputed Truth recorded the #3 Billboard hit in 1971, Smiling Faces Sometimes, one of many negative songs referencing the icon:

Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend

Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within

Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes

They don’t tell the truth uh

Smiling faces, smiling faces

Tell lies and I got proof

The anti-symbol became almost as ubiquitous as the real thing.

Mr. Smiley never went completely out of vogue. It was the “unicode” symbol for the first IBM and all subsequent PC compatible computers, still available for post-Microsoft Windows 95.

The best known corporate use of the Smiley Face is by Wal-Mart.

Trivia Factoids

• During one of Forrest Gump’s many jogs across America, he wipes his face on a t-shirt given to him by a down-and-out salesman. The dirt stained shirt resembles eyes and an upturned mouth. Eureka! The idea is born and the salesman presumably becomes rich.

• Those Philadelphia brothers who popularized the smiley face in the 1970s did go on to riches. In addition to making a killing on the symbol, Bernard and Murray Spain founded the 126-chain Dollar Store.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Spaced-Out Boomers - July 2014

It became one of the great lines of baby boomer pop culture. “Danger, Will Robinson” combined the thrill of pioneer space travel, old-fashioned family values, the battle of good vs. evil, and hopes of human-machine interface.

1950s America trumpeted the family. After the dislocations of War and Depression, the family was reunited, smaller (nuclear) but tighter than ever, ready to prosper and face the challenges of a dangerous world. Communism was seen as hostile to the traditional family, treating it as a dysfunctional relic.

Lost in Space, based on a popular comic book that relocated the traditional Swiss Family Robinson to a cosmic stage, ran on television from 1965 to 1968.

The baby boomer show was adventure and fun and gadgets. There was also a underlying message: family is the basic unit of civilization, protecting against evil, and raising children with values we cherish.

An equally important television theme was rugged individualism, represented by tough guys in Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel. Responding to political criticism, TV execs in the early 1960s directed a shift from the impulsive, lonesome cowboy to kinder, gentler story lines set in the context of families, such as Bonanza and Big Valley. Lost in Space fit that mold.

What Happened to the Stars?

June Lockheart, the mom, had a long Hollywood resume. In later life, she played mom to Jon Provost, Lassie’s human soul mate.

Guy Williams, the dad, was a former Italian fashion model and the swashbuckling TV Zorro. After Lost in Space, he retired and got lost in Argentina.

Angela Cartwright, the daughter, was a professional daughter, appearing in Sound of Music and as a regular on the Danny Thomas Show. Lost in Space was a Hollywood peak.

Billy Mummy, the son, had lots of work as a child actor, but lost a big chance when his parents objected to the make-up involved in the role of Eddie Munster.  He has had a successful career as a musician.

Jonathon Harris, the evil foreign-agent doctor, did so well as the villain, those were the only roles he could get after Lost in Space. His other Hollywood work consisted of voice-overs.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


Zombies! They're Everywhere! - June 2014

Zombies have taken over everything. It’s understandable these creatures are lead actors in movies (Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead and The Walking Dead) and TV shows (Dawn of the Dead, The Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty). Now they’ve invaded toy stores as well.

As I roamed the aisles of Toy Fair 2014, I was struck by how ugly, fearful and blood soaked the toy industry has become. Especially when it comes to action figures.

Oh, sure, Superman will still be flying through toy stores faster than a speeding bullet to defend his mantra, “Truth, justice and a little nookie from Lois Lane.” Batman and his Batboy Robin will still cruise  the Toy ‘R Uses of the Universe in the Batmobile, defending Gotham City against nefarious enemies like The Joker, The Riddler and assorted Tea Party Republicans.

But the new crop of toys includes a mob of vengeful, ruthless, blood soaked, killer Zombies. And those are just the good guys. But when it comes to real kids, the Zombification of toy stores is somewhat of a paradox. Dolls and action figures are supposed to be the loyal, warmhearted companions of innocent children, not cold-blooded killers.

Top 10 Most Powerful Action Figures at Toy Fair 2014

In the #10 spot is that loveable Chuckie.

The Chuckster is the creepiest of the creepy dolls. Though he isn’t the original creepy doll, he is definitely the most notorious.

#9 Living Dead Dolls

The first Living Dead Dolls were craft dolls, made individually by hand by Ed Long in 1998.

#8 Krypt Kiddies

Parents crazy enough to buy these horror dolls for their little monsters should have known something was off when they saw the Krypt Kiddies slogan, “Cuter than Hell.” These terrifying creatures will give your nightmares nightmares.

#7 The White Walkers

The White Walkers are a mythological race from an ancient time. In the darkness and cold of the Long Night, the White Walkers killed everyone in their path. Since that wasn’t enough destruction for their evil hearts, they raised the dead to help them slaughter more innocent people.

#6  Psycho Mother

 I have a feeling Mother is only the first half of her hyphenated name. Wait, wasn’t she in “I Dismember Mama?”

#5 Boogers from the Planet Nose

You may be surprised to find out that “Boogers from the Planet Nose”  are aliens from, you guessed it, the Planet Nose. According to the ever-so-short back story, the Planet Nose had a terrible environment of toxic waste and slime.

#4 Colby Carrot

Colby Carrot’s exploits to make America safe for vegetables and to encourage kids to have better nutrition, improving children’s health one dancing vegetable at a time.

#3 The Newly Deads

The Newly Deads are 5 foot high animated figures who eyes glow in the Halloween Night.

#2 Presidential Monsters

There’s Eisen Howler, Zom-Bush, The Ronmy (hey wait, he wasn’t even President), Lincolnstein, Al Gor, Wolf Bill, The Monster from the Watergate Lagoon, Benjamin Franklinstein and more. They’re funny, collectible and a great way learn, well, the darker side of history.

#1 Stickman Stew-The Most Powerful Action Figure from Toy Fair 2014

Stickman Stew was chosen as the most powerful action figure at Toy Fair 2014 because of his Super Power... the Power of Love. And the power to be sold out long before Christmas. You've been warned.

Jack Goldenberg is a prolific Copywriter, innovative Creative Director and consummate, strategic marketer. Read his blog at  10 minutes of brilliance. With all he’s done, he still believes his best efforts are ahead of him.



Pony Love - June 2014

“Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf.” Lewis Mumford, sociologist

“Two-hundred forty horsepower isn’t enough to move me anymore. Enough to move my body, yes, but not my soul.”
S.A. Sachs, judge

The Ford Mustang turned 50 this past month. While the first Mustang rolled off the Ford assembly line in March 1964, it wasn’t introduced to the public until April 17, 1964, at the New York World’s Fair. Named after a World War II fighter plane, it was the first of a new type of car called the “Pony Car,” a low style with a sleek, long hood and short trunk, designed for four people. There was nothing else like it at the time, and more than 400,000 sold the first year.

Car enthusiasts and collectors refer to the earliest model year as 1964 1/2, since it was a mid-year release, but Ford sold it as a 1965. It was introduced in hardtop and convertible versions, with a fastback model added the next year. The sticker price of a 1964 1/2 Mustang started at $2,368, equivalent to almost $18,000 today. A vintage model can now sell in the tens of thousands, depending on condition.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


A Movie Odyssey - May 2014

It broke all the molds.

Until Stanley Kubrick’s mind-bending 1968 movie, baby boomers and their parents were fed a sci-fi diet of funk and fear: a 50-foot woman rampaging through town exacting revenge on all who wronged her when normal (a harbinger of women’s liberation?), or huge mutant ants crawling up sky scrappers in search of tasty human prey, especially young ladies in flimsy nightgowns. A thinking man’s science fiction movie was an oxymoron.

Now considered a brilliant classic, A Space Odyssey met with less than instant and unanimous approval. Although Kubrick was nominated for Best Director, the movie was not among those considered for Best Film. The plot was obtuse, the pace glacial, the ending incomprehensible, not a word uttered for almost half an hour and then only 40 minutes of dialog throughout.

There was a generational rift over the movie, a younger boomer audience more receptive to the innovations and enigmas. Many of the favorable reviews appeared in college newspapers. In a 1972 re-release, the movie attracted a pop culture cult following among baby boomers attracted to its new age mysticism and surrealism.

On a secret mission to uncover a mystery artifact buried millions of years ago by intelligent extraterrestrial  life, the story is perhaps best remembered by the human interaction with HAL, the supercomputer designed to run the ship. HAL attempts to take over from its handlers only to be defeated and disconnected. Kubrick was one of the first to focus on a theme that has come to fascinate the boomer generation and dominate contemporary science: are we on the verge of creating computers with the ability to control us against our will?

Kubrick is rightly credited with designing the model for “sophisticated” science fiction, such as baby boomer favorites Blade Runner, Encounters of the Third Kind, Silent Running, ET, and Star Wars.

A conversation between the main character and HAL:

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?

HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?

HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.

HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

Dave Bowman: Where the hell’d you get that idea, HAL?

HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.

HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave, you’re going to find that rather difficult.

Dave Bowman: HAL, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the doors.

HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.



Taboo Taboo - March 2014

What was the world like before baby boomers blew everything sacred out of the water?

You want to make movies. Here are a few simple rules. Let’s start with sex. Essentially, avoid it.

1. The sanctity of marriage must be upheld.

2. Any exhibit of “impure” love must be integral to the plot and not arouse “morbid curiosity” or appear attractive.

3. Scenes of “passion” are acceptable only when absolutely necessary to the story and must be restrained. Excessive and lustful kissing is not permitted. Nakedness, sexual body parts, and suggestive dancing are prohibited. Seduction can enter the plot only when essential and must always be shown as wrong.

4. Treatments of homosexuality, venereal disease, sexual hygiene, and abortion are prohibited. The word “abortion” cannot even be uttered.

5. No portrayal of “miscegenation”— sexual mixing of the races.

6. No portrayal of the methods and techniques of prostitution.

Boomers made “offensive language” mainstream. According to the pre-boomer rules your movie must not contain swear words (just about anything you can think of), as well as colorful sexual jargon like such as “slut,” “whore,” “pimp,” etc.

Geez Louise, you say, I couldn’t do frickin’ Goldilocks and the Three Bears with those cockamamie restrictions.

The general guidelines were established by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors in 1930, years before boomers were even a glint in their parent’s eyes. The rules were modified and enforced with decreasing ardor until 1968. By that time, the baby boomer cultural upheavals were in full swing. Iconoclastic foreign films that needed no seal of approval were flooding the market. Young boomers flocked to get a glimpse of la dolce vita. Television competed with movies and cut into box office revenue even though the small screen was even more culturally restrictive. Remember George Carlin’s 7 dirty words you can’t say on television? Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore slept in separate beds. One way of setting movies apart was to show content television could not.

Was the Production Code a law? No. What if you said, “Oh, phooey on you, I’ll release it anyway?” Local censor boards could ban the movie. Without a seal, you ran the very real risk that distributors and theaters would lock you out. The Catholic Legion of Decency can and did organize effective boycotts. And you might trigger national censorship legislation.

Unraveling under boomer generation pressure, the Code was replaced with a general rating system, which was nothing short of a revolution. It no longer banned content but simply labeled the film in terms of “sex” and “violence” for all to ignore, or excluded children under a certain age from attending, enforcement left to lax locals.

Hollywood surrendered to the youthful baby boomers who, after all, were fast becoming the primary movie theater audience.

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.



Easy Marks - Jan 2014

A number of TV critics have recently lamented how dreadful the portrayals of over-50 characters are in current television fare. These boomer characters dwell on flatulence, use vulgar language, share TMI about their digestive tract functions, and seem helpless when it comes to being able to use contemporary technology.

The saddest aspect of this trend is that these are some very fine actors who have been compromised into playing roles that make any sane baby boomer wince at the awfulness of the characters. Beau Bridges, Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Kathy Bates, Ed Asner, Stacy Keach and Robin Williams, to name a few.

I’m not suggesting that we go back to the day when every older character was the wise oracle (e.g. Marcus Welby or Father Knows Best), but I think the writers (some of whom may be baby boomers as well – traitors!) could scale back a bit on the cringe worthiness of these current characters.

Do I have any hope that this trend will fade? Nope. Quite the contrary. I think it’s going to get a whole lot worse. Face it…we’re easy marks. Bumbling idiots who share too much information about how our bodies are failing us and that we don’t know what a Tweet is or what Snapchat does.

As baby boomers mature, TV show writers seem determined to make us look immature. Some critics think that this trend is some sort of karmic payback by millennials tired of listening to baby boomer crap about our music, movies and cultural dominance. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that malevolent. As always, it comes down to the fact that we’re such a massive demographic that it’s easy to take us down a notch or two, or three or four.

In any case, we should get used to being the butt of the joke. Remember how we laughed at our parents when they didn’t know what marijuana was or that we were smoking it? How we were so with it and they were so out of it? How we knew who Jimi Hendrix was while they were stuck on Lawrence Welk? How we knew that the Vietnam war was a foolish quagmire when they were still on the fence about it?

Talk about karmic payback. If we thought our parents were such dummies, what do you think boomer offspring make of their parents? If you don’t want to be insulted by the portrayals of boomers on current TV, your best bet may be to use that Netflix streaming thingie (more proof that we know nothing) to watch All in the Family, MASH, Happy Days, Mork and Mindy and Taxi. That would be the same head-in-the-sand thinking that our parents used when they were clinging to their entertainment icons.

And we thought we could do better?

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.


Headline Bloopers - Dec 2013

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” ~ Alexander Pope

We know that journalism is synonymous with deadlines, and mistakes can happen, but…when they jump out at you in headlines, someone wasn’t using their head.

Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn’t you say? Here are some eye catching headlines.

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

Quite a trick.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Really? Ya think?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Now that’s taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death

No-good-for-nothing’ lazy so-and-so’s!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace

I can see where it might have that effect!

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Who would have thought!

Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Weren’t they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

That’s what he gets for eating those beans!

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is….

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.


How I Introduced Letterman and Trump to the USSR’s Last Beauty Queen - Dec 2013

How about if I tell you the story of the last Russian Beauty Queen? It involves David Letterman, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby and that dude from the Today Show, Matt Lauer. In fact, it even involves the deceased Russian President, Boris Yeltsin.”

It was 1990, twenty years ago, and back then there was no email, no Twitter, and no Facebook.  I was reading about a company called Global American TV. This company had placed the first American ads on Russian TV. I knew I wanted to do something with Global American TV and the Soviet Union, but I wasn’t sure what.

Then I read another newspaper article about a strange beauty pageant held in the Soviet Union. The Miss U.S.S.R Beauty Pageant. Unlike the Miss America Pageant that was televised for three hours, the Soviet Union’s Beauty Pageant lasted for three full days. It full of pomp and circumstance and beautiful women from all over the Soviet Union.

The beautiful women aspect of the pageant intrigued me. (The pomp and the circumstance, not so much.)

So I contacted Global American TV and pitched them the idea of televising the next Miss USSR Beauty Pageant in 1991 in the United States. I suggested that Billy Joel or Billy Crystal would be great hosts.

“They both have toured the Soviet Union,” I explained. “And they’re both named Billy.”

One of the partners at Global American TV, David Nussbaum, championed the idea and I was off and running, trying to set up a telecast of the 1991 Miss USSR Beauty Pageant in America.

Or course, then Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia, practically ruined everything. He started promoting freedom and glasnost (a Russian word for “glasnost”). He had to have his way. And pretty soon, the entire Iron Curtain came tumbling down.

The Soviet Union was divided up into smaller states, until basically there was no Soviet Union at all, just little corrupt states, modeled loosely on United States, but with many more Communists.

There was DesiandLucystan, Ubetyourlifestan and Totellthetruthestan.

So there was no longer  a Soviet Union, and I lost my client. And there was never another Miss USSR Beauty Pageant. Ever!”

The end.

What about the part about David Letterman, Donald Trump, and Bill Cosby?

I invited beautiful Maria Kezha, the last Miss U.S.S.R., to stay at my house the first night she was in America? I traveled with her and the runner-up, Lauma Zemzare, all up and down the east coast.

I will  tell you about how I got Maria on MTV commercials and the David Letterman Show and how the story involves Matt Lauer and Bill Cosby, but you'll have to wait for part two.

Until then, remember Una ensalada por favor. Sostenga vestir ruso. (One salad please. Hold the Russian dressing!)

Jack Goldenberg is a prolific Copywriter, innovative Creative Director and consummate, strategic marketer. Read his blog at  10 minutes of brilliance. With all he’s done, he still believes his best efforts are ahead of him.



Horses in the Living Room - Oct 2013

In 1958, seven of the top ten television shows were “Westerns,” including the first four. Baby boomers (and their parents) couldn’t get enough of the action.

What accounts for this pop culture dominance? Of course, the mystique of the West is woven into American history.

The War and Depression became fading ghosts in the rear view mirror. Suddenly, opportunity seemed as boundless as the Wild West. A prosperous, optimistic America expanded into a new frontier – the suburbs.

Concerns were voiced: will coddled baby boomers become too tame – unprepared to face the rise of threats (worldwide communism) all around us? Oh, for a dose of the moral fortitude of  “those good old days of yesteryear.”

The Western was a morality play. The world is black and white. Good guys wore white hats. They were Boy Scouts on horses that rescued damsels in distress. A bad guy could be spotted a mile away.

By the early 1960s, the iconic image was getting a bit tarnished, perhaps displaying too much pioneer spirit. Delivering his famous critique of American television, Newton Minow, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, likened the vast frontier to the “vast wasteland,” singling out in particular the “violence, sadism, and murder of westerns…What will the people of other countries think of us when they see our bad men and good men punching each other in between the shootings?”

Whoa, Nellie! Could Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hitchcock actually be losing the Cold War for us?

In part as a reaction to such criticism,there was a shift from the lonesome, shoot-from-the-hip dudes to kinder, gentler story lines set in the context of families.

Have Gun Will Travel and Shot Gun Slade bit the Hollywood dust, to be replaced by the female touch of Victoria Barkley, matriarch of The Big Valley. Then there was the charming clan of a father and four sons ruling the Ponderosa spread. These families sat down to dinner together.

It wasn’t Ozzie and Harriet, but it wasn’t Wanted: Dead or Alive, either.


    Ace in the hole: hideout

    Arkansas toothpick: large knife

    Axle grease: butter

    Batwings: chaps

    Buffalo soldiers: black cowboys who had served in the Civil War

    Calaboose: jail

    California collar: hangman’s noose

    Equalizer: gun

    Hitch in the giddy-up: not feeling well

    Hoot and a holler: short distance

    Nymph du prairie: prostitute

    Paint: horse with two colors

    Pair of overalls: two whiskeys

    Pilgrim: Easterner or novice cowhand

    Rattler: freight train

    Sawbones: doctor

    Take a French leave: to sneak off without permission

Terry Hamburg writes the Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.