Now in our fifth calendar year!|
PCR #238. (Vol. 5, No. 42) This edition is for the week of October 11--17, 2004.
Hello gang! Wow, I can't believe Chris Reeve is gone. With genuine sadness I take to the keyboard. Shall we begin?
NO COSTUME NEEDED
A week ago I was sitting at my barber waiting my turn in the chair. On the table was a pile of magazines, and I picked up the recent issue of "Reader's Digest." On the cover was a photo of a smiling Christopher Reeve and inside an inspirational story about the man and his ongoing search for a way for victims of spinal cord injuries to walk again. Two days later, I am crushed by the news that Mr. Reeve passed away from a heart attack at the age of 52. Born on September 25, 1952 in New York City, Reeve moved to Princeton, New Jersey with his mother at the age of four after his parents divorced. After high school, he attended Cornell University and, in his senior year, was one of two Cornell students chosen to study under John Houseman at the Julliard School of Performing Arts. Luckily for Reeve, the other student was his college roommate Robin Williams. He found early fame when he took the role of Ben Harper on the daytime soap "Love of Life." In the evenings, he appeared on stage with such greats as Katherine Hepburn. After a small role in the submarine film "Gray Lady Down," Reeve was chosen for the role that he would be forever defined by when he was cast in "Superman: The Movie." His other film successes include the first 2 "Superman" sequels as well as the romantic fantasy "Somewhere in Time." He stunned movie audiences by sharing an on screen kiss with Michael Caine in the thriller "Deathtrap." He negotiated with Cannon films to do a fourth "Superman" film in exchange for the company producing the movie "Street Smart," which featured Reeve as a reporter whose made up stories become suddenly real because of mistaken identity. Not only was the film, and Reeve's performance, well received, but it introduced the talent of little known actor Morgan Freeman. He starred with Michael Keaton in 1994s "Speechless," the only on screen pairing of Batman and Superman. On May 27, 1995, while participating in a horse jumping show, Reeve was thrown from his horse and paralyzed from the neck down. In spite of his condition, Reeve continued to work on and off in Hollywood up until he died. He was finishing up his direction of the animated film, "Yankee Irving," when he passed. But it may be for his unwavering fight for a way to help those with spinal cord injuries that he will always be remembered for. A fighter until the end, Mr. Reeve was indeed a hero to many. My favorite Christopher Reeve movie moment takes place in "Superman II." As Clark Kent, he trips over a carpet and plunges his hand into a fire place. It is at this moment that Lois Lane discovers he is Superman. After initially denying it, Reeve suddenly alters his body language and stands tall. With just those subtle moves, he has transferred himself from nerdy Clark to the heroic Man of Steel. And a hero is how I will always remember him. Like I said, no costume required.
If you didn't follow baseball, you may have just glanced at the news that 1996 Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti died Sunday at the age of 41 from a suspected heart attack. Sadly, I feared that the cause of death would be changed after an autopsy. Caminiti had just been released from prison where he was sent after violating his parole on drug possession charges. Caminiti made headlines after he retired when he told Sports Illustrated that he took steroids during his MVP season and speculated that more then half of the players in major league baseball also used steroids. Steroids may have made him stronger, but it was his love of the game and the will to play that made him a great player. Earlier today my fears were confirmed when it was announced that Caminiti died from a drug overdose.
Chris Rock has been announced as the host for next years Academy Award broadcast.
Last week I offered a challenge for writers and readers to list their (up to 10) best concerts they attended. Here are mine:
- Elvis Presley - Bayfront Center - St. Petersburg, FL - Feb 14, 1977. During football seasons I would park cars at the Ramada Inn on Dale Mabry for people going to the Bucs game. One Sunday a man with a Cadillac told me to "park it where I could see it," so I put it right in front. When he returned from the game and I retrieved his car, he asked me "do you like Elvis, boy?" I told him yes and he gave me two tickets to the show. Yes, he was fat. But he commanded that audience like the King that we was.
- Billy Joel - Bayfront Center - April 1977. Matt and I went on a whim and ended up standing right in front of the stage. During the show we kept getting jumped on by a girl behind us who kept trying to get a better view. I ended up putting her on my shoulders and, when Joel walked the front of the stage, she threw me off balance. As I put my left hand on the stage to steady us, Joel stepped on it. He looked down, said "sorry, man" and continued on.
- The Rolling Stones - every tour since 1981. I missed the 1978 show at Lakeland because MY BEST FRIEND MATT DIDN'T THINK I'D WANT TO GO!! I've never been disappointed by the world's greatest rock and roll band. Fave moment ever: Jagger dressed in red and bathed in light, 100 feet above RFK Stadium, singing "Sympathy For the Devil."
- Styx - Lakeland Civic Center - Lakeland, FL - April 8, 1978. Not as memorable for the music as for an event that took place while the opening act, The Baby's, was on stage. Let me keep this polite and just say that whenever I hear, "Everytime I Think of You," I sigh quietly to myself. As Matt would say...."huh huh huh huh!"
- Bruce Springsteen - Kemper Arena - Kansas City, MO - February 1980. I like to call this the tour before the Boss became THE BOSS. In support of his double LP "The River," Springsteen played for almost 3 hours that night. I've seen him three more times since, and he's always rocked, but I like this concert best because he was still the Boss and only a very few of us knew it!
- The Jackson's Victory Tour - RFK Stadium - Washington DC - September 1984. Go ahead, make fun of me if you must. This show is more memorable for the atmosphere. Michael Jackson was still black, had his own nose, and ruled the musical world. I'm guessing the closest I'll ever come to understanding what "Beatlemania" was 20 years prior.
- Paul McCartney - RFK Stadium - July 4, 1989. A real live Beatle! Best moment was when Paul and the band sang "Birthday" to America. Second best was the next day when a local DC radio station played back JUST Linda McCartney's vocals during the "nah nah nah nahs" at the end of "Hey Jude." Not pretty.
- Van Halen - Capital Center - Washington DC - July 1984. The band as I'll always remember them. Kick ass rock and roll at it's very best. Only disappointment: Eddie playing the solo during "Jump" on an organ! Boo!
- Garth Brooks - Capital Center - April 1993. Yes, Garth Brooks. At the time the man was the biggest thing in music. Even though he was country, there was plenty of rock and roll influences in his show to keep the place hopping.
- Everyone else! I've been fortunate enough to see the entire spectrum of music. From Paul Simon to ZZ Top, from Sinatra to Streisand. And with the exception of Neil Diamond ignoring my shouts to "play the damn ET song!" I can't say I ever went home unhappy.
MEET THE BEATLES - PART 38
October 16, 1963. The band makes it's fourth appearance on the BBC radio program "Easy Beat." The show is recorded at the Playhouse Theatre and the lads play "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," "From Me To You" and "She Loves You,' the last four songs comprising their single records to date in release order.
Well, all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.