In the Rear View Mirror (Redux)

Speaking of the UChicago and such things always makes me a bit nostalgic for the Region, and I’m just going to go with it today. It seems we run this article every once in a while, and I like it. As Mary Hopkins sang long ago, “Those were the Days”.

Well, it’s been an interesting week, hasn’t it. But it’s Saturday and we’re going to forget about it for now. Remember back when we were in school, and the closest we came to paying attention was hearing that somebody’s older brother had been drafted and hoping they wouldn’t be off for the Nam? Pretty good days they were. I grew up in Northwest Indiana, yeah the part of the state called the Region, Yup, like a few other bloggers you might know of, I’m a Region Rat, and we were and are damned proud of it too.

It was called that because of our heavy industry, you wouldn’t be wrong if you read that as the steel mills. We all knew people who worked at USS, or Inland, or even at the new Bethlehem works. I can still smell it in memory and I can still see the flaring stacks lining the lakeshore, there was little like it west of Pittsburgh. Where I grew up you could watch the coal drags come in on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and if you knew where you could see the ore ships come in from the Missabe on the lake. If you didn’t know, that what the Edmund Fitzgerald was.

And that was what a lot of our folks did for a living, steel, American steel. Most of it went to Detroit, to make American cars, first by rail and finally by what were called Michigan Trains, semis (doubles and triples, mostly) that couldn’t go anywhere else other than that piece of I 94 between Gary and Detroit, because they were so heavy that they would destroy any other road. Out where I was, was a bit too far out to commute, mostly though in those days.

My first ride

My first ride

Most of my buddies were and are farmers, the other great Indiana industry, once clay tile had been invented and the swamps drained. Before it was dredged the Kankakee river had occasionally flooded itself 20-40 miles wide, and it made wonderful farmground in the floodplain, once it dried out enough to work.

But none of that mattered to us kids, sure most of us worked, usually for our parents at least from junior high on, but there was time for sports, girls, and fun. Given that this is Indiana, the sport was basketball, and specifically high school basketball. Texas may love high school football but, Indiana high school basketball was the closest thing to a secular religion any body was ever going to see.

My high school was a good example, we were one of the waves of township consolidations in the early 60s, when I was there, our enrollment was about 250 or so in high school, our gym seated 2300 and had never not been sold out for a home game. Of course, it helped that we were pretty good, in the first four years of that gym, we lost two home games, both in overtime, by a total of four points. And every year we were the Sectional runner-up to Michigan City Elston, the largest school in the state, one year by 15 points. they won the State that year, Indiana didn’t used to do effete snobbery like classes in basketball.

If you’d like to know more about that, find the movie Hoosiers, it’s based on a true story, the 1952 Milan team, who beat South Bend Central. By the way, if you do, that fieldhouse they’re paying he final in, it’s the Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University, and it was built mostly for the State finals. Once the tournament moved beyond the Sectionals, it was all held in College venues, Purdue, Indiana, and Notre Dame among them. Tickets were simply unavailable. And if that wasn’t enough, there was always Branch McCracken and the “Hurrying Hoosiers” or Purdue alum John Wooden, out at UCLA.

And after those games there was often a sock hop, and while sometimes there was a DJ, there was always a live band, and some of those DJ’s you’re going to meet here today. Why? Because Chicago was a huge music center in the 60s. You see in those days we all listened to AM radio, FM barely existed, and even 8 tracks were uncommon (and expensive). By the way did you know that for a few years you could buy a record player that mounted under your car dash-they actually worked pretty well, too.

But those AM radio stations, in Chicago there were two who did what we would call top 40 now, although then it was more just plain current rock, both 50,000-watt clear channel stations. Anybody that was around can tell you about WLS and WCFL even all these years later. They were part of our life, back and forth we went, second button on the car radio was usually LS and third CFL. Like all the early American call letters, they meant something, WLS stood (originally) for the World’s Largest Store (Sears Roebuck and Co.) and WCFL for the Chicago Federation of Labor.

The clear channel thing meant that in North America there was no other station on that frequency, 890 and 1000 Kilocycles/second (hertz) respectively. Especially at night, you could hear them from Pittsburgh to Denver, and down to the Gulf of Mexico, depending on some variables. And those bands I mentioned, I’ll be you’ve heard of some of them, here, let’s let them talk for themselves

But like Bob Sirott said there, it didn’t last all that long, when I was in college we started listening to the FM album-oriented rock stations, although like he said, Chicago came with us, that was about it, although that was a lot.

This is what it sounded like

But like all good things, one afternoon the music died, here’s Superjock, Larry Lujack himself to officiate

Good days they were

 

The Price of Freedom

Western trails in Nebraska. Blue = Mormon Trai...

Image via Wikipedia

I wrote this back in 2012 and I think it’s worth a revisit.

Let’s start with a song, shall we:

Keep that in mind, we’ll be coming back to it.

As I sit here in my office, looking out the window, I can see 7 of the great American migration routes, from north to south:  The Lincoln Highway, US Highway 30, The Transcontinental Railroad, Interstate 80, The Platte River, The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and  the Pony Express Route. Think about how many hopes and dreams have passed through here.

Now combine that with Shenandoah. The song came about in the early 19th century and was made famous by US sailors all over the world. what does it speak of? It speaks of loneliness, of likely never seeing your friends and family again, and does it hauntingly. It was very appropriate for those sailors, and it was equally appropriate for (and loved by) those thousands/millions trekking through Nebraska on their way to a new and hopefully better life.

Why did they do it? Some, of course, to avoid the sheriff, or their girlfriend’s father but, mostly they were going to, not running from. To what? A better life, maybe, but they were going to have to build it themselves, and if you’ve ever driven I-80, you know what a trek it is today, let alone to walk it, as most did.

What motivated them is the same thing that has motivated American from the very beginning: Freedom. Freedom to build your own life. Freedom to be left alone, Freedom to be the very best that you can be.

What was the price they put on that freedom? That they would most likely, whether they succeeded or failed, never see their family and friends again. If they were very lucky they might receive a few letters in the course of the rest of their life.

And remember, it was out here, on the Oregon trail (and it’s fork in the road, the California trail) that the saying became true. “The sick died, the weak never started”, it was that kind of migration.

That freedom had quite a price, didn’t it?

What is yours worth?

Top Gun – Still Flying High after 30 Years

w704Funny what gets out attention going on subjects sometimes. I fell in love with the American Civil War in elementary school, during the centennial celebration, especially the books by Bruce Catton. As someone said, you could feel the heat, the dust, the boredom, and the horrors of battle in his words. Those legendary armies still, all these years, later, march in my mind. That became an obsession with first military history and later history in general. If I’m troubled about most anything, you’re likely to find me with my nose in a book, and invariably it will be either history, or a historical novel, and some of them are very good.

Seems like I’m not the only one, either. My friend Dale, over at Command Performance Leadership, tells a similar tale about the opening of Top Gun a few days over thirty years ago. Well, OK, I admit it, I loved it then, and I still do today, as well. But like good history, Top Gun has some lessons to teach, and that’s Dale’s business, so listen up, we’re gonna sortie right into The Danger Zone.

One month before I left for boot camp, on May 16, 1986, the iconic movie, Top Gun, opened in theaters.  Starring Tom Cruise, playing the role of Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, Top Gun would become one of the most endearing military movies of all time.  From its opening scene (may I opine: The best opening scene to a movie ever!), to it victorious ending, this movie is jam-packed with great action and music.

If you don’t believe us, hook that video up to a good stereo, and crank it. This was the first movie I bought on videotape (Betamax stereo, in fact), and it’s hard to describe (in polite company) what my reaction was when I played it through my fairly adequate stereo.

In addition to its excellent music and its action-packed scenes, the movie’s dialogue is immortal.  Comical, hard-hitting and full of power and meaning, Top Gun is full of unforgettable lines, like these:

Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” ~ Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan

“Top Gun rules of engagement are written for your safety and for that of your team.  They are not flexible, nor am I” ~ CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf (Commander, U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School – Top Gun)

“A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what’s happened, so he can apply what he’s learned” ~ Viper

These, and many other lines, certainly capture the strict discipline and protocol that you would expect from the military.  And, then there arelines that you might use at work just to annoy your co-workers, such as the infamous, “I feel the need … the need for speed.”  Or, there are lines like the ones listed below that are suited for everyday use and have particular meaning (click on image to be taken to larger image via its web link ): [It won’t work here, but it will from CPL. Neo]

*Courtesy: The Further Adventures of Doctrine Man (Facebook), akaDoctrine Man (Twitter)*

Out of the movie also comes leadership wisdom.  Top Gun is referenced often when discussing leadership and team dynamics; a sort of leadership ethos.  This was extensively explored by Bob Jennings andJ. Israel Thompson in a series of posts that were written as fictional “interviews” with key characters from the movie.  Links to each of those posts are listed below:

Often in the movie, however, there are those times when a butt-chewingwas necessaryThe fine art of delivering corrective action is sometimes garnished with some colorful language.  As the movie evolves, you notice Viper’s style becomes the textbook example of how to deliver negative feedback.  There is, obviously, a right way and a wrong way.

Like Dale, I too learned a lot about leadership from, “Those Magnificient Men in their Flying Machines”, but I’m nearly a generation older, I learned from Gregory Peck, General Savage in 12 O’Clock High. But you know we learned the same lessons, B-17s going to Germany, or F-14s in the Indian Ocean, the lessons are essential and timeless. And just as true in the civilian world, as in the Navy, or the Air Force.

But Dale also brought some fun.

Which ‘Top Gun’ Character Are You?

Quiz #1          Quiz #2          Quiz #3          Quiz #4

______________________________________________________________

Call Sign Generator

via Top Gun – Still Flying High after 30 Years | Command Performance Leadership

Which character am I? well, if you must know, Maverick twice, Jester, and Iceman, once each. I think that’ll do.🙂

And remember: “The plaque for alternates is down in the ladies room“!

St. George, and this blessed Plot, this Realm and even Music

DSC01205 Maldon St GeorgeThursday was the Queen’s 90th Birthday, of course, it’s also St George’s day, and in addition, four hundred years ago William Shakespeare died, for that matter, fifty-two years before that, also on the 23d, he was born.  So consider this a sampling.

We might as well start with World War Two, particularly since that has some of the best. This is from the Queen mother’s 90th birthday Royal Variety performance

 

 

Here’s a group of British male vocalists from the fifties. I obviously remember some of the songs but have no idea who the vocalists may be, not who made these hits in the States.

Then in the 60s, something remarkable happened.

and:

 

And even:

And:

 

In fact:


But there’s always been something else, as well: like a song that presaged a revolution

 

And patriotism

 

Of empire lost

 

and won

 

And love of country:

 

This one here:

The one that John of Gaunt said this about:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England

 

The Queen’s 90th Birthday

 

UntitledcgffI wanted to write another post on leadership today, so I did.

Today is Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday. Like the very luckily much younger (and far more beautiful) Laura says here, “she’s the only Queen of the United Kingdom, I’ve ever known”. And Britain and the Commonwealth, and yes, the United States, as well, is very lucky for that fact.

Like her mother, who I wrote about here, she has lived a life of duty; duty to her people, and to her God. She has lived it faithfully, far more than anybody else on the scene today, and the world is a far better place for her. Think about that, she has done her duty, every day, pretty much since the day her father became King, with the abdication of King Edward VIII. From being an ambulance driver (and mechanic) in the Second World War until today, she has never faltered, never flagged. How many of us will be able to look back and say that?

Her mother famously said, during the dark days of The Blitz, ” The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.” And that is exactly how her daughter has lived her life. And we’re all much the better for it.

FILE - In this Saturday, June 13, 2015 file photo, Britain's Prince William holds his son Prince George, with Queen Elizabeth II, right, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales during the Trooping The Colour parade at Buckingham Palace, in London. Britain's Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, file)

FILE – In this Saturday, June 13, 2015, file photo, Britain’s Prince William holds his son, Prince George, with Queen Elizabeth II, right, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales during the Trooping The Colour parade at Buckingham Palace, in London. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, file)

I love the Queen. Like, I seriously love her. So far, I’ve narrowed it down to 60 reasons:

  1. She’s the only queen I’ve ever known.ca3d962ca934ade44e012b5822ec15c0
  2. She’s the only queen my parents have ever known.
  3. No one knows what’s in her handbag so she’s pretty much Mary Poppins.
  4. She got her training in statesmanship from Winston Churchill.
  5. She rocks the greatest hats.
  6. She still wears white gloves.
  7. Her grandson was lucky enough to marry Kate Middleton.
  8. She loves the Commonwealth, and puts up with the lot of us.
  9. Her hair looks like a giant diamond from a distance.
  10. She jumps out of aeroplanes.
  11. She’s the sexiest Bond girl ever.
  12. Her dad is Colin Firth.
  13. She was a car mechanic in the war.
  14. She fell in love with her future husband at the age of 13.
  15. She became queen while sleeping in a tree house in Africa.

Continue reading 60 Reasons I Love the Queen. (Sadly the link is no longer active)

And then the Queen also has let us know what wrong with the United States

Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government?
Are there any tips you can give me?”
“Well,” said the Queen,

“The most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.”
Obama frowned, and then asked,

“But how do I know if the people around me are really intelligent?”
The Queen took a sip of champagne.

“Oh, that’s easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle, watch”
The Queen pushed a button on her intercom.
“Please send Tony Blair in here, would you?”
Tony Blair walked into the room and said,
“Yes, your Majesty?”

The Queen smiled and said,

“Answer me this please Tony.
Your mother and father have a child.
It is not your brother and it is not your sister.
Who is it?”
Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answered…

“That would be me.”
“Yes! Very good.” said the Queen.

Obama went back home to ask Joe Biden the same question.
“Joe, answer this for me.”

Continue reading The Queen’s Riddle.

My dearest friend, and editor, Jessica, has an excellent article today on All Along the Watchtower, about this wondrous anniversary today as well.

My Country Tis of Thee done Right

Long Live the Queen – God save the Queen!

 

Saturday Morning: 60s Music Style

It’s Saturday, so let’s relax. I ran across some of my old favorites, so I thought I’d share.

Of course we have to start with my first girl singer crush, Petula Clark. Some things never change in my favorites.

If you’re old enough I’ll bet you remember how our music came from all over the world, so we’ll jump from England to Australia.

The guys were one of my favorites for a while.

These guys I had breakfast with one night after the bar closed, ‘The Region’ was a good place to be.

And then, of course, there is my all time favorite piece of popular music.

Enjoy, and have a great day!!

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