Lady Gaga or Johnny Weir? “Can you tell the difference between the pop princess’ outrageous outfits and the Olympic skating star’s flamboyant costumes without seeing their poker faces?” You Olympics watchers who see figure skating only once every four years have no idea…
Western New York Legacy web site, www.wnylegacy.org, is freely available online, and contains thousands of digital images, documents, letters, maps, books, slides, and other items reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Western New York
Happy U.S. Income Tax Day! Every year in the United States, the Social Security Administration sends out Your Social Security Statement to help me plan for my “financial future”. It provides estimates of your Social Security benefits under current law.” But for me, it’s a personal history lesson.
The first year I worked, 1969, I made $529 at the Binghamton (NY) Public Library. I worked six months at IBM in 1971 and made the most I would make until 1978. $50 in 1976 – really? I can always tell when I went to college, or when I was unemployed or underemployed. I also received my 401(k) statement this week. I started putting money in this account because we were all warned that Social Security wouldn’t be there. My employer and I each contributed about $1000 each this past quarter. I managed to lose that plus an additional $5800. So much for retiring. Let’s talk about music instead. There are two great songs called Money that I own and that come to mind. The first was written Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, when challenged by someone who complained that all he wrote about was romance. “What else do you care about, Berry?” Well, there was money.
The original version of Money was recorded by future Songwriters’ Hall of Famer Barrett Strong, who later teamed with the late Norman Whitfield to write I Heard It Through the Grapevine (a hit for both Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye), War (Edwin Star’s hit), and a bunch of late 1960s/early 1970s classics for the Temptations, such as Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Just My Imagination and Ball of Confusion.
Barrett Strong’s version of Money went to #2 on the Billboard R&B charts for six weeks, and to #23 on the pop charts early in 1960. It’s #288 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of greatest songs, and was covered by a Liverpudlian band of some note, the Beatles.
The other Money song is by the British band Pink Floyd, by that point consisting of David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Rick Wright and Nick Mason. It appeared on the 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon, and though it spent but one week at #1 in the U.S., it spent a total of 741 weeks on the U.S. album charts, selling more than 15 million copies.
I’m still collecting the state quarters. Right now, all I need is a Missouri quarter from the Denver mint; I even have both District of Columbia coins. But I haven’t seen the Puerto Rico quarter yet from either the Philadelphia or Denver mints and other territories will be released this year. (And yes, I know DC and Puerto Rico are not states, but their coins are a continuation of the same series.) Meanwhile, I’m still looking for Denver mint coins for two of my co-workers. Certainly it was the juxtaposition of Marilyn Chambers as wholesome Ivory Snow mom with Marilyn Chambers as, er, an actress that helped fuel whatever commercial success she had. No, though my name is Green, I’ve never seen Behind the Green Door or any of her other work. She died this week. *** And speaking of advertising, does Burger King REALLY think it’ll make money mixing SpongeBob Squarepants, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and “the TRUE (non-pirate) meaning of the word ‘booty'”, as my friend Fred put it in his April 13 post? And if the BK King is creepy in 30-second increments, he’s REALLY bizarre in the 2:30 segment Fred found. *** OK, so what other song about money am I thinking of? The clues are in this post.
I’ve been watching Sex and the City reruns, usually on tape. I don’t have HBO, so, as NBC used to suggest, “They’re new to me.” During every brace of episodes runs this commercial:
VOICEOVER OF COSMO KRAMER, WITH THE WORDS ON THE SCREEN: Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint. It’s chocolate. It’s peppermint. It’s delicious! JERRY SEINFELD (on screen): That’s true. KRAMER (on screen): It’s VERY refreshing!
I’ve seen this commercial a few dozen times. It never fails to crack me up, as though it were the first time. What’s WRONG with me?
I never was a big Seinfeld fan. Oh, I liked the early episodes when it really was about nothing. The Parking Lot episode comes to mind. But when George worked for the Yankees, or Elaine stressed over her job- not about nothing. But the ad gets to me.
There is a commercial for a nasal spray called Nasonex. If you’ve not seen it, go here. The male bee weirds me out! It’s the eyes. The irony is that the ad is “designed and directed” by Neal Adams, one of the most respected comic book artists, one best known for X-Men and Batman, but who I probably first saw (and liked) on The Avengers (the comic book, not the TV show with Emma Peel). The bee is voiced by Antonio Bandares, who I liked in Shrek 2.
So there it is: crazy about Kramer, crazed by a cartoon bee.
However, the Nasonex commercial isn’t nearly as scary as a Burger King commercial. Someone raises the shade in the house in the morning and there is a person in that eerie Burger King plastic mask. Arrrgh!
Even worse, though is the ad for some Dodge SUV. A woman, with a girl in the back seat, stops and talks to a guy who reminds me of Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti western days on the side of the road. “Out of gas?”, she asks. The motorcycle gets loaded into the back. All the while, the music, and the camera work are suggesting that this woman is CRAZY for letting this dusty stranger in her vehicle, with her daughter in the back.
Then, “Daddy just HAD to get a motorcycle.” OK – he’s not a potential murder, he’s a relative. But it’s manipulative and creepy, and I don’t think it engenders the sense of security that the purchaser of such a vehicle would want.
There’s a Coke commercial featuring lots of roller skating or blading. “It’s a Coke thing.” It must be a generational thing, because every time I hear it, it reminds me of the theme of the Academy-award-winning movie “Midnight Cowboy”, a depressing flick I’ve managed to see four times in the theater within 18 months of its release. So instead of “Sparkle”, I think of Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) pounding on a vehicle and yelling, “I’m WALKING here!” But what I often tell my wife when she’s perplexed by an ad, I need to tell myself: “I’m not the target demographic.”
And speaking of commercials, Mason Adams died late last month. He had a most distinctive voice for radio and television for decades. I was a big Lou Grant fan, so I remember him as Lou’s boss Charlie Hume. But he’ll probably be best remembered for saying, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” As Vietnam-era DJ Adrian Cronauer, who talks about him on this NPR audio clip might have put it, “To sell the Smucker’s catchphrase, Mason Adams had to be good.”
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