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Random Friday Thoughts — July 25, 2014

Happy Friday!   The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one.

While this is a condensed “Random Friday Thoughts”, it’s still something unexpected and fun to post since I’ve missed my blog.

MIDDLE EAST FIGHTING

As the fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine escalates, the death toll continues to rise.  So far, roughly 760 people have died in Gaza and the Israeli death toll is around 35.

Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both halted flights from the U.S. to Israel, while airlines in Germany, Italy, and France joined in prompting the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an advisory.

“PRAY FOR PEACE”

Meanwhile, country music and entertainment superstar Reba McEntire released her first new song since 2012 asking the world to “Pray For Peace”.

Reba

Reba stated on her Facebook page, “The idea to write the song “Pray For Peace” came to me last year as I was walking on our place in Gallatin, Tn. For days I’d sing, “Pray for Peace”, over and over. It wasn’t until several months later did the other parts start to fall in place. Some, not until we got into the studio to record it.”

She adds, “It’s an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love.”

You can see the finished video (with music) here:  http://reba.com/

MADONNA CATCHES HEAT

Also, international music icon Madonna is earning praise and a lot of flak for posting this picture on social media.

Madonna Flowers

The caption was “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE! #peaceinthemiddleeast” -Madonna.”

Responses on her Facebook page have been rather passionate.

Positive:   “She Can Support whoever she wants to… so whats the Problem? Im a Madonna’s Fan, Im Not Supporting Israel, Im not supporting Gaza, Im Just Supporting The Peace, The Children’s Life are Important, Doesn’t matter the side of they come from.

And, ” Thank you Madonna for shedding light on human rights abuses in the Middle East. Every life is precious and no child should die.

Negative: “you Madonna have no rights to say this kind of things about the children in Gaza !  These children are taught from childhood to hate us and want to kill us and destroy the people of Israel ! …  “SHAME ON YOU MADONNA !  I’m not a fan anymore!”

And, “Madonna talking about politics is a bit like George w Bush trying to point Iraq on a map before attacking it.”

Madonna Defend Human Rights

This prompted Madonna to post this follow-up an hour or so later.

Madonna Hamas

EMMY NOMINATIONS — A HIT AND TWO MISSES

Kudos to the Emmy Awards for nominating transgender actress Laverne Cox is the proper category “Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” for her work in “Orange Is The New Black”!

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

Sadly, no nominations were given to the NBC series, “Hannibal” or for any of the actors.  This is by far, the best and most intelligent show on television!  Maybe next year?

And, Emmy also snubbed “The Walking Dead” for acting awards AGAIN!  There was a lot of buzz and hope that Melissa McBride would get a nomination for her heartbreaking performance this season.

the-walking-dead-season-4-emmy-ad

McBride did win the “Saturn Award” this year and is nominated for the “Gold Derby TV Award” for Best Supporting Actress.

ERASURE IS BACK!

My favorite English band, Erasure, is gearing up for the release of their latest album, “The Violet Flame” in September.

The first single, “Elevation”, just came out and it’s incredible.  Andy Bell sounds amazing and it’s a fresh new sound for the every changing electronic duo.

I can’t wait to see them in concert in Chicago on October 4th.

If you’re not all that familiar with Erasure or you want to know just how much I love their music, check out this blog from June.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-fall-just-got-more-exciting-with-erasure/

GOP HAS A NEW FRONT RUNNER?

The “crazy train” may have derailed in 2012, but it may be back on the tracks for the 2016 presidential race.

Bachmann

Michele Bachmann tells RealClearPolitics, “there’s a chance I could run.”

REMEMBERING TAMMY FAYE

It was seven years ago last weekend that televangelist Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner died after an 11-year battle with cancer.

tammy-faye book

I just finished her book and it made me look at her in a new light.

If you missed my blog about her, the book, her life, and her thoughts, here’s the link:

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/remembering-tammy-faye/

CANCER SURVIVOR INSPIRES ME

Cancer is scary and we all know or love someone that has been touched by it.

I have and I’ve already had three cancer scares.  I just read the most incredible and the best book ever about a Chicago chef that faced his biggest fear, tongue cancer — something that could have either killed him or ended his career.

Life+On+the+Line

Check out Grant Achatz’s amazing story in this blog.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/chicago-chefs-courageous-fight-makes-me-fear-cancer-less/

STILL LOVE THIS CRAZY SONG

The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo that have remixed songs for The Killers, Icona Pop, and Ellie Goulding.

Their first radio hit in America, #SELFIE, reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart.

It also reached #1 in Finland, #2 in Sweden, and #3 in Australia and Norway.

VIDEO MAY BE APPROPRIATE FOR EVERYONE!

The video has been viewed more than 181 million times on YouTube.  Now, go take a selfie!

THAT’S IT

So there’s your surprise “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

Remembering Tammy Faye

Her make-up and appearance was mocked and ridiculed on talk shows and in comedy routines across America.  It hurt her feelings.

Tammy Faye 2

She and her ex-husband, televangelist Jim Bakker brought fame and fortune to a struggling religious snake named Pat Robertson and then they went on to build one of the biggest religious television empires with the PTL Club.

Jim and Tammy Faye

Then, they were disgraced by Jim’s one-time sexual encounter with an unstable, religious groupie named Jessica Hahn.  That and the $279,000 that Hahn was paid to keep it silent went public in the late-1980s.  That scandal was quickly followed by fraud indictments and a conviction that landed Jim Bakker in prison.

Through all of the physical appearance mockery, the pain of building and losing their televangelist empires, losing all their money, Bakker going to prison, and ultimately, the crumbling of their marriage and then divorce, Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner remained strong.

However, after an 11-year-battle with colon cancer, Tammy Faye lost the fight seven years ago today, July 20, 2007.

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When she died, she only weighed 65 pounds and she had appeared on the “Larry King Live” show the night before.

I just read Tammy Faye’s book, “Telling It My Way” and it is a very touching book.

tammy-faye book

While I never made jokes about her make-up, I probably did make comments about it if the conversation came up.  However, I never really followed Tammy and Jim Bakker because I never believed in television evangelism.

I believe that people can have a loving, strong relationship with God, just as I do, without the bureaucracy of church and organized religion.

After reading Tammy’s book, I sincerely believe that she loved God and was always faithful to his teachings.

I believe that there were a lot of unsavory financial dealings in the PTL Club and Jim Bakker’s Christian theme park, water park, and residential complex, Heritage USA.

I also believe that Tammy might have known more about what was going on than she let on in the book.  However, she could have been oblivious to it, because she did come across as sweet, honest, and aloof.  And, there’s nothing wrong with the aloof part.  I know the feeling.

Check out this incredible visit to Roseanne’s show where she talked about her weight, her make-up, and her battle with cancer.

I really enjoyed the book and I’m glad that Tammy told Jim to move on with his life after he was released from prison.  He has and he now has another television venture near Branson, Missouri.

One part of the book that really touched home with me was her belief that God loves all his children, which doesn’t come across in most religious preachings here in the U.S. or around the world.

Jim  and Tammy Faye

When she made her big return to television in 1996 on the “Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show” before she was diagnosed with cancer and had to quit months later, Jim J. Bullock came out to her by telling her, “Tammy, I’m gay.  Do you find that offensive?  I know that you’re a Christian.”

In her book, she said she replied to Jim, “Jim J., when I look at people, I do not see gay or straight; all I see is the person.  And I see a person that God loves, and that His son Jesus died on the cross for.  So who am I to judge?  I do not judge anyone anymore.  I have been misjudged so many times — by people who either didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand the things that happened in my life.  I know how it hurts to be judged.  I don’t want to be a courtroom.  I want to be a hospital.”

And, with this appearance on “The RuPaul Show”, you can tell she really believes it.

Her son, Jay, is a minister in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Revolution Church.  Like his mother, he is very accepting to the LGBT community.  If I’m ever in Minneapolis, I hope that I get chance to check out a sermon.

Tammy Faye never gave up on God, but through the worst of times, she did doubt him and asked him why.  We all have done that.

Tammy Faye, your life on Earth gave you good times and bad times. I hope you enjoy being an angel in heaven.

It would have been a pleasure to have known you.

Anthony

Chicago Chef’s Courageous Fight Makes Me Fear Cancer Less

My grandfather, John Henry Peoples, died of colon cancer at the age of 72.  His son, my father, died of brain cancer at the age of 55, in 1987.

I’ve already been to a dermatologist twice.  In 1999, I had a biopsy for something that ended up being nothing more than an “age spot” that disappeared with a cream treatment.  Last year, I found out that the spot on my scalp was “actinic keratosis”, a common pre-cancerous growth caused by the sun’s UV rays.  It was froze off.

However, in 2002, I had a scarier experience when my doctor discovered a mass in my scrotum.  An ultrasound concluded that it was testicular calcification, which affects about 2.4% of American men, mostly white.  While there is no treatment for it, there’s not enough evidence to conclude that it might lead to testicular cancer.

As I approach my 50th birthday this October, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t think about getting cancer.

With my family history and my own scares, I wouldn’t be shocked to develop cancer one day.  If that diagnosis ever comes, I now have Grant Achatz to look to for inspiration and courage.

Grant_Achatz

Many of you probably haven’t heard the name.

I didn’t know who Grant Achatz was until I saw an article in the April 2011 “Men’s Health” magazine about how to make the ultimate burger.  Since I don’t eat beef, I likely read the article because he was attractive and that stopped me long enough from flipping through the magazine to read the feature.

However, I didn’t even read this magazine article until a couple of years later.  (Yes, a stack of magazines sat in my closet that long before I got around to them.)

And, this spring, I finally read his 2011 book, “life, on the line:  A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat”.   While I loved Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On” that I read earlier this year, Grant’s book is hands down the best autobiographical book I’ve ever read!

Life+On+the+Line

From the title of the book, you probably gather that he almost died.

The book doesn’t waste anytime going there with Grant describing how he was peeling out his inner throat in the book’s first written page in the preface.  You were drawn in and were rooting so hard for this young man to beat the odds.

I promise I’ll get to the point of my blog and how Grant’s book touched and inspired me, but I want you to see what this young, amazing man accomplished in a short period of time.

I loved reading about his early life of being raised in his family’s restaurant business in Michigan and jello being the first food he learned to make.  He then became a line cook as a teenager, went on to the Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1993, and did his six-month externship at a hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grant would be welcomed back there after his externship and then he thought he was ready to experience Chicago where he worked for renowned chef Charlie Trotter for a couple of months.

With the high pressure environment and degradation from Trotter to his chefs, it didn’t end the way Grant thought it would.  When he left Trotter’s restaurant, Trotter told Grant that since he didn’t last a year, that Grant couldn’t use the famed chef as a reference and that he “simply would not exist” to Trotter.

Younger Grant

He went back home dismayed and planned a trip to Europe with his girlfriend at the time, Cindy.  They saw London and Paris, where they ate at “3 Michelin stars” restaurants and Grant was disappointed.  They traveled on to Rome, Venice, and Florence.

It was at a winery that featured a little bistro-like eatery where Grant said he had the “best meal of my life” and it was there that he realized the one thing that every restaurant needed:  passion.

Grant came back from Europe with passion and he landed a four-year stint at chef Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry” in California’s Napa Valley.

Grant and Thomas Keller

While there, Grant worked his way up from an entry-level position to sous-chef, the second-in-command and direct assistant to Chef Keller.

He took a position as the Executive Chef at Trio, located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois.  In his three years there, Grant took the restaurant from a four-star Mobil Travel Guide to a five-star rating.

But, he wanted more and in May 2005, he opened his own restaurant, Alinea, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  The 64-seat restaurant quickly earned rave reviews for featuring a small tasting menu with about 18 or so courses.

Alinea Chicago

The food that Grant and his team created were nothing short of gastronomical art.

Grant Achatz Creating 2Grant Achatz Creating

GA Culinary Treat2GA Culinary TreatGA Culinary Treat3

I could just sit and stare at Grant’s incredible creations for hours.  Actually, I did with Grant’s hardcover coffee table book, Alinea, which features more than a hundred of his recipes and photographs.

One of Alinea’s first major achievements was being named “Best Restaurant in America” by Gourmet Magazine. 

This would be followed by the AAA Five Diamond Award (2007-2014), the Jean Banchet Award for Best Celebrity Chef and Best Fine Dining (2007), the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef (2008), the “3 Michelin stars” in 2011 and 2013, and countless other awards.

Grant Nick

Grant’s dreams of opening his own restaurant were made possible by Nick Kokonas, a regular customer with his wife, Dagmara, at Trio, the restaurant that brought Grant to the Chicago area.  Nick was so impressed with Grant that he defied his friends’ advice of investing in a restaurant since so many fail.

Grant and Nick’s business partnership with Alinea also developed into a strong friendship and that friendship would end up saving Grant’s life.

Before moving to Chicago in 2001, Grant had a health scare while he was living in California.  Doctors thought it might have meningitis, but it wasn’t.

In early 2004, Grant noticed a small white bump on his tongue that wouldn’t go away and the accompanying pain became more intense over the next few months.  He finally had a biopsy done and it came back negative.

One day, after not seeing his business partner for days, Nick came into the restaurant and Grant looked very sick and he told Nick of the pain that his tongue was causing him.  When Grant showed Nick his tongue, Nick instantly knew there was a problem and demanded that he go see an oral surgeon.

achatz.grant

On July 13, 2007, Grant was diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue.  The man who was making a career of creating the most exquisite dishes was faced with two dire realities:  an invasive, destructive, and painful surgery that would take away 75% of his tongue or death.

I shed many tears reading Grant and Nick’s accounts of the fear and the sadness they both felt after the diagnosis and Grant facing the fact that he was dying.  My heart was breaking for this young man (only 33-years-old) and his two small sons, Kaden and Keller.

After meeting with specialists in New York City and Chicago, including the surgeon that operated on famed movie critic, Roger Ebert, for thyroid and salivary cancer, the news wasn’t good for Grant.

Ebert-Before-and-After

Ebert knew the hell that Grant faced with battling cancer and having part of his jaw removed.  Ebert’s surgeon, Dr. Harold Pelzer, recommended that Grant have surgery.  However, Dr. Pelzer did mention another surgeon, Dr. Everett Vokes, at the University of Chicago, that had a less conventional approach to surgery.

Everett Vokes

Dr. Vokes was working on clinical trials that avoided surgery as the first option.  Instead, chemotherapy would be administered first, along with a medication that would interfere with the cancer growing and spreading throughout the body.  That would be followed by radiation, which was intense, devastating and painful.

The non-conventional approach worked and in December 2007, Grant’s cancer was in remission.

cancer

Cancer has touched all of our lives.

Whether you’re living with it or you’re a survivor, whether you know someone who is living with it or is a survivor, or if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer, “life, on the line:  A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat” is the most honest, encouraging, thoughtful, and touching book I’ve ever read.

If I ever develop cancer, I hope I have the courage of Grant Achatz, a friend like Nick Kokonas, and a visionary like Dr. Everett Vokes.

I hope that Grant lives a long and healthy life and that he keeps making gastronomical art in his kitchens.  And, since I only live three hours from Chicago, I hope one day to visit Alinea to view the work of this culinary genius in person.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 11, 2014

Today’s “Random Friday Thoughts” does feature my random thoughts or it’d be called something else.  However, many of them today are personal and I do have a revelation to share at the end of the blog.

I hope you have a great weekend whatever you choose to do.

WE HAVE COMPANY THIS WEEKEND

Betty, my friend from Ohio and the woman I call “Mom”, is visiting us this weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll be taking her to the John Deere Classic golf tournament for lunch Friday to visit with my good friends, Dawn and Shilah!

Also, Betty will want to go to Osaka Buffet and the casino!  Those are two of my favorite places.  Okay, the casino only if I win!

GRETEL TURNS 13

Also, this weekend, Gretel talked us into have a bonfire for s’mores if the storms don’t dampen her fun to celebrate her 13th birthday.

Gretel Summer 2014

Holy cow!  I can’t believe she’s now a teenager!

It seems just like yesterday that Miss ABBA and I were introduced to a little pigtailed, bespectacled, soon-t0-be 8-year-old girl and now she’s a teenager!

GretelABBA2009

Happy Birthday, Gretel!

SPEAKING OF MISS ABBA

It was this week back in 2000 that I drove to a llama farm 2.5 hours from where I was living in Youngstown, Ohio, and got Miss ABBA.

On the way there, I knew I was getting a “girl” and her name “ABBA” was already decided.

ABBA July 2000

While she’s been in puppy heaven for almost 2.5 years now, I’ll never forgot that July day or the almost 12 years of love and happiness that followed!

You can check out this video if you’d like to see the goofy golden over the years.  I’m posting it to make you smile and not cry.  So, I’d understand if you watch it without listening to Patty Loveless’ beautiful song.

ONE MORE ANNIVERSARY

And, one more anniversary to mention this week.

It was 20 years ago that my friends, Steve and Dennis, helped move me to Chicago as I said goodbye to small town Kentucky.

Chicago Move 1994

That was the beginning of phase two of my life that included me meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that almost killed me, meeting Christopher, who I was with for nine years, and meeting Betty, who is Christopher’s mother.

It was also during those first two years in Chicago that I started my television weather career that would take me to Rhinelander (WI), Lubbock (TX), Youngstown, Mansfield, and Columbus (OH), back to Chicago as a news writer for Fox News Chicago, and then to Salisbury (MD), Moline and Rock Island (IL).

Where will phase three, in 2015, take me?

“NICKEL DREAMS”

Tanya Tucker has always been one of my favorite country singers.

Until I read her book, “Nickel Dreams”, I didn’t fully understand how wild and crazy she was.

Tanya+Tucker Nickel+Dreams

Check out the blog I wrote about Tanya, the book, and her music.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/im-glad-tanya-tucker-shared-her-nickel-dreams/

“FREAK UNIQUE”

Pete Burns, the lead singer of the English new wave band Dead or Alive, had moderate success in the U.S., but he and the band are big, HUGE, in Japan.

Pete Burns Freak Unique

His autobiography, “Freak Unique”, was incredible and a fun read.

In it, Pete shares it all and doesn’t hold back.  He explains in, sometimes gory, detail some of the things that got him just as much attention as his music did.

Here’s the link to the blog I posted this week about the book and Pete.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/pete-burns-is-a-freak-unique/

NON-STOP

I’ve been wanting to see the Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore airplane thriller, “Non-Stop”, since it hit theaters earlier this year.  The movie has gone on to make almost $200 million at the box office.

It’s finally out on DVD and I rented it this week.

It was definitely enjoyable and I spent the entire movie trying to figure out who the terrorist(s) was, because I never for a moment thought that it was Neeson’s character, U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks.

“Non-Stop” is a thrilling movie that will definitely make you look around the plane the next time you fly.

There is a scene at the 1 hour, 33 minute mark that suspended belief and knocked the movie back part of a grade point!  Seriously?

The most distracting thing about the movie is to see Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years A Slave”) play a flight attendant with just a  few lines and very little to do except look distressed.

I really wish that this movie came out before “12 Years A Slave” because it is such a waste of her talent after seeing her play Patsey, the role that won her the Academy Award.

GRADE:  B

THAT’S IT

For now and the near future, this is my last “Random Friday Thoughts”.

I love writing and sharing my thoughts, but with my overnight work schedule and the lack of sleep, I feel it’s time I take a break and nap in the afternoon.

I appreciate all of you for taking the time to read my blogs over the past 2.5 years and to share your thoughts whether you agree or disagree with me.

I do have three other blogs to share with you over the coming weeks.  I’m not sure when they will pop up, but I’ll let you know when I post them.

Again, thank you for the past support and have a great weekend!

Anthony

I’m Glad Tanya Tucker Shared Her Nickel Dreams

As a kid growing up in Kentucky, I was obsessed with county music icon Tanya Tucker, who was only six years older than me.

Although it came out in 1996, I just read Tanya’s autobiography, “Nickel Dreams:  My Life” and all of those childhood memories came flooding back.

Tanya+Tucker Nickel+Dreams

While this blog is about the book, I have to dwell on my childhood love of Tanya.

“Nickel Dreams” made me realize how much I loved the young Tanya Tucker in the 1970s and all that I missed in the 1980s when I was became obsessed with the English new wave music invasion, Madonna, and New Kids on the Block.  However, I found Tanya again in the early-1990s and it’s my goal to see her in concert for the first time when she heads back out on the road!

The Texas-born singer scored her first country hit, “Delta Dawn”, which reached #6 on the Billboard Country chart in 1972, when she only 13-years-old.

delta_dawn-1973-tanya_tucker

I loved that song so much that when Australian singer Helen Reddy released her version a year later, it was the first 45 rpm record that I bought with my own money.

However, it was Tanya Tucker, that I couldn’t get enough of.  I couldn’t decide which of her early hits, “Delta Dawn”, “What’s Your Mama’s Name” or  “Blood Red and Goin’ Down” were my favorites?  I know my family probably tired quickly of their 8-year-old son running around and constantly belting out Tanya songs and wishing he were Tanya Tucker!

While the story behind “Blood Red” totally freaked me out, as a kid, I loved the song and Tanya’s vocal delivery!

However, it would be her eighth hit (and fourth #1 song), “Lizzie and the Rainman”, in 1975, that would become my all-time favorite Tanya song before I swayed over to pop in the 1980s.

In her career, so far, Tanya has racked up 53 Top 40 solo hits on the Billboard Country charts.  Of those, an incredible 40 of them reached the Top Ten and 32 made the Top Five.

She has topped the country chart ten times:  “What’s Your Mama’s Name” (1973), “Blood Red and Goin’ Down” (1973), “Would You Lay With Me in a Field of Stone” (1974), “Lizzie and the Rainman” (1975), “San Antonio Stroll” (1975), “Here’s Some Love” (1976), “Just Another Love” (1986), “I Won’t Take Less Than Your Love” (1987), “If It Don’t Come Easy” (1988), and “Strong Enough To Bend” (1988).

tanya-tucker

Tanya and her co-writer on the book, Patsi Bale Cox, did an excellent job covering Tanya’s childhood growing up in Texas, Arizona, and Utah.

While still a child, the family ultimately ended up in Las Vegas and Tanya began getting more work.  Her father, Beau, worked very hard at getting demo tapes recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles and knocking on doors at any record label that would listen to him and Tanya.

Tanya finally caught the attention of Billy Sherrill, a hot-shot producer that made Tammy Wynette a star.  He also had a big influence on the careers of George Jones and Charlie Rich.  After they recorded “Delta Dawn”, the rest is history and Sherrill had another superstar on his hand.

As a teenager, Tanya scored 12 Top Ten hits from 1972-1977 at country radio.  But, just as she turned 20-years-old, her new management team made a radical change with her image and her sound — from country to rock.

TNT2

I remember seeing this album and thinking, what is going on?  I had just witnessed Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy Olsson (“Sandra Dee”) in “Grease” go from an innocent girl to a leather-clad beauty at the end of the musical and now Tanya was shocking the country music world with her suggestive album cover and liner note pictures with “TNT”.

TNT

She looked incredible, “Texas (When I Die)” reached the Top 5 on the country charts in 1978, and the album went platinum, selling more than a million copies .

However, the big hits were scarce for Tanya in the early half of the 1980s.  Nashville and country music were uneasy with Tanya’s new image and now that she was no longer a little girl, she was more interested in hitting the party scene in Los Angeles and whatever city she was playing.

Tanya was very honest and open about her drinking, her drug use, and her outlaw image.  When you listen to Tanya’s voice, you felt what she was singing about whether it was heartache and sadness, or living life to the fullest.

Glen Tanya

In addition to her nightlife of drugs and alcohol, Tanya was also making headlines for her relationship with a much older man, country and pop superstar Glen Campbell, who was more than twice her age and married!

Tanya does not hold back when talking about their excessive drug use and the very violent fights.  One of them left her bloodied and needing dental work after an altercation with Campbell when he knocked out her two front teeth!

She takes her fair share of blame for some of their fights during their turbulent relationship that lasted about a year.

In the second half of the 1980s, Tanya got a new label and the hits starting coming again.  She scored 11 Top Ten hits during that time, but the partying didn’t let up and she ended up in rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic late in that decade.

1986 Tanya1

I started listening to country music again in late 1990 when I visited “Sidetrack”, a gay bar in Chicago on country night.  That night, I heard this voice that blew me away.  It was Reba McEntire.

That renewed my love in the music I grew up listening to.  I quickly fell in love with Patty Loveless and months later, in 1991, I re-discovered Tanya Tucker just as she was getting ready to release the most amazing album of her career, “What Do I Do With Me”.

The album kicked off with the first hit, “Down to My Last Teardrop”, which reached #2 in 1991 and that was followed by three more Top Five hits, including “If Your Heart Ain’t Busy Tonight”.

The more I read “Nickel Dreams”, the more I wanted to hang out with Tanya Tucker.

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She’s been a party animal, but you can know that she’s real.  What you see is what you get.  She’ll move heaven and earth for the people she loves and cares for.

Tanya talks extensively about her daughter Presley, who turned 25 this month, and her son, Beau “Grayson”, who turns 23 this fall.  You can tell how much she loves her parents, Beau and Jaunita, who sadly, since the book was published in the 1990s, have passed away.

And, I was very touched by Tanya’s honesty about how her feelings toward gay people evolved once she realized that, contrary to her upbringing and the general attitudes of the country music genre, gay people are just like everyone else.

Michael Tovar helped Tanya with that.  She met him in Beverly Hills, California, in 1979, when she walked into the Jon Peters’ salon to get a haircut.  There was no one available to cut her hair and Tovar was sweeping the floor and shampooing.  He wasn’t even a hairdresser then, but Tanya took a chance on him and the two formed a strong friendship that would last until he died of AIDS in 1993.

Tanya visited him many times before he died and she paid special tribute to him during the Academy of Country Music Awards broadcast on May 11, 1993, when she won the award for best video for ”Two Sparrows in a Hurricane.”

Michael died less than two weeks later.

Tanya+Tucker Nickel+Dreams

“Nickel Dreams” was an amazing read and Tanya Tucker is an incredible woman!

Tanya, thank you for forty years of fantastic music.  I can’t wait to hear new music from you and finally get to see you in concert.

If you ever feel you’re “Down to My Last Teardrop” and you need another (gay) best friend to listen and bitch to, give me a call!

Anthony

Pete Burns Is A “Freak Unique”

If you were a big music fan in the mid-to-late-1980s and you listened to dance and English new wave music, the name Pete Burns should sound familiar.  If not, then his band, Dead or Alive, should ring a bell.  And, if not, you missed out then and you’re missing out now on one of the coolest, most talented, and opinionated entertainers of the past thirty years.

Seriously, you know you’re going to enjoy the story of someone’s life when they title their autobiography, “Freak Unique”.

Pete Burns Freak Unique

Although the book came out in the summer of 2006, I just got around to reading it and what a very honest and touching story Pete has to tell.

I first became aware of Pete Burns and Dead or Alive back in the spring of 1985 while visiting my friends Jeff  and David in Woods Hall across the campus at Murray State.  While I thought the world revolved around Madonna (sorry, Pete), Culture Club, and Duran Duran, my friends were blissed out on “Sophisticated Boom Boom” and “Youthquake”, the first two Dead or Alive’s albums.

I quickly became a fan, too!

“Youthquake” produced the band’s first and biggest American radio hit, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While it was an incredible song that I listened to repeatedly, I loved other tracks on the album even more like “Lover Come Back To Me”, a #13 U.S. Dance chart hit.

But, “In Too Deep” was my favorite and this version from the “Rip It Up Live” concert video is so hot and sexy — Pete and the eye candy!

Much of the press that Pete has gotten over the years ranged from his androgynous looks, the controversial videos that were deemed too provocative for MTV and many video outlets, and the botched reconstructive surgery that almost cost Pete his life.

“Freak Unique” doesn’t hold back.

The book is very touching as Pete takes us through his childhood bonding with his mother who suffered from depression and alcoholism.  It was her attention to her make-up and detail that made him the artist that he became in the punk scene and then as a singer and entertainer.  And, by “artist”, I’m mostly talking about the look.

Pete Burns

Twenty years before the world experienced the ever-changing styles of Lady Gaga, we had Pete Burns.  (Kudos to the artist that posted the collage on Pete’s Twitter account).

I love the fact that Pete doesn’t sugarcoat things in “Freak Unique”.

He tells it the way it is, whether it’s about his introduction to sex (against his will), his sex life, his almost 28-year marriage to his hairdresser friend, Lynne, and his current love, Michael, to his mother’s eventual death that prevented the band from opening for one of the biggest acts in the music business in the late-1980s.

It was interesting reading about how Dead or Alive’s music came together, the tours, how the record company fought the band and Pete over artistic freedoms and funding videos, and how censors saw their videos.

The 1987 video to “I’ll Save You All My Kisses” was one of those videos.  It was deemed too gay.  Um, okay!

Pete isn’t shy when he talks about his love of cosmetically altering his looks with nose jobs, tattoos, and other procedures.

pete-burns-lips

He explains in graphic details of how a simple lip augmentation with a gel called “Outline” by Dr. Maurizio Viel almost killed him.  That procedure caused him to go through years of countless, painful re-constructive surgeries and it ruined him financially and made him homeless!

Luckily, Pete sued the doctor and won a settlement of 450,000 pounds (about $700,000).

Here’s a great interview with Pete that aired on ABC News.

As I’ve said, Pete doesn’t hold back on telling it the way it is.  He loves Cher and, as for Madonna, well, let’s just say that he loves Cher. :)

One awesome feature to the book was how he ended it.  There was a whole chapter of random thoughts about what Pete thought of certain people and things.  Many artists would hold back on doing something like this, but not the outspoken and fearless Pete.

Interesting enough, Madonna wasn’t mentioned in that chapter because it was pretty clear throughout “Freak Unique” that he isn’t a fan.

Pete Burns Freak Unique

If you remember Pete’s music or if you’ve only read the headlines over the years of the plastic surgery debacle or his stint on the British “Celebrity Big Brother 4″, you have to find and check out “Freak Unique” to go inside the life of one of pop music’s most entertaining singers.

When I was a dee-jay at the local gay bar in Paducah, Kentucky, in late 1986, I played “Brand New Lover” all the time.  While it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, it spent two weeks on top of the U.S. Dance charts.

And, here’s the career song that is often sampled and remade, but never to the perfection of Dead or Alive’s original!

Pete Burns, just like your Twitter name, you are an ICON!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!  To those that got a divorce from that loser on this day, I’m happy you’ve declared your independence.  What?  Oh, the country’s independence from Great Britain.  Well, that’s certainly different!

I hope you have fun with your fireworks, your barbeques, or whatever you do to celebrate our country’s 238th birthday!

It’s going to be a nice one in the Quad Cities.

4th

“Fernando” by ABBA is the song that I remember most about the Fourth of July as a kid.

While “Fernando” only reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, it hit #1 for two weeks on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and would become ABBA’s best-selling single of all time selling more six million copies in 1976 alone!

WORST FOURTH OF JULY

With more than five inches of rain this past Monday night in the Quad Cities, luckily I was inside the house helping Ray fight basement flooding before the electricity went out for about ten hours.

While that wasn’t on Independence Day, my worst Fourth of July was back in 2007.  I was caught in a flash flooding event around 2 a.m. after more than four inches of rain in a very short period of time flooded out my car on 19th Avenue in Moline.

FloodingBSticker3flat

Here are the scary details and I was one of the lucky ones to survive!

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/my-favorite-least-favorite-fourth-of-julys/

MOST “INCOMPARABLE” GAY NEIGHBORHOOD

Forget San Francisco, Hollywood, Barcelona, and Madrid, Chicago’s “Boystown” has them beat!

I’ve lived in some shady places in life, but now I can say that I spent three of my four years in Chicago living in “Out Traveler” readers’ most “incomparable” neighborhoods.

While it’ll show up as Lakeview on maps, anyone that is anyone knows that the club area near Lake Michigan between Lincoln Park to the south and Uptown to the north is “Boystown”.

I lived there for a year in 1995-1996 (Addison and Lake Shore Drive) and from 2002-2004 (Belmont and Sheridan).   Miss ABBA and I spent a lot of time in her “puppy years”  playing around Belmont Harbor.

2014 Brackets 001

“Out Traveler” says that Boystown “was the nation’s first officially-designated gayborhood” and that it has “everything you could want: bars, clubs, restaurants, architecture, walkability, its own El stop”  and now, marriage equality.

PLEASE DON’T “WIGGLE” FOR ME!

I just heard Jason Derulo’s current hit, “Wiggle”, for the first time today and I hope that I never hear it again!

Sample lyrics:  “You know what to do with that big fat butt/Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” and “Hot damn it/Your booty like two planets/Go head, and go ham sammich”.  Ugggghhhh!

Jason+Derulo+JasonDeruloCoverTCC

I loved Jason Derulo’s self-titled 2010 album and it ended up being one of my favorite albums of that year.  It produced three Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100;  “Whatcha Say” (#1), “In My Head” (#5), and “Ridin’ Solo” (#9).

Jason, go back to real music and not trashy, gimmicky songs that you’ll regret having to sing the rest of your career!

MEETING PAM TILLIS & LORRIE MORGAN

A couple of Friday nights ago, Ray and I got a chance to see the “Grits & Glamour Tour” with Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan in Clinton, Iowa.  And, we lucked out and got to meet both ladies before the show.

Anthony, Pam, & Lorrie

We’ve seen them both in concert before separately.  On this tour, they performed together and it’s an amazing show.

It’s just sad that country radio is so ageist and sexist that it won’t play new music by women over the age of 40.  You think I’m wrong?  Think of radio’s reception to the latest recordings by Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, and Faith Hill.  And, before them, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and the list goes on and on!

While you may have missed that show, Lonestar and Sara Evans will be at the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton on Friday, July 11th.

“GLORIA”

This Chilean drama is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past few years.

Paulina Garcia plays Gloria, a 58-year-old divorcee that has to face the single life now that her two children are grown and have moved out.  However, Gloria doesn’t spend her life at home feeling sorry for herself.

Watching the movie and seeing Gloria out drinking and meeting men that could possibly be “the one”, I was so impressed with her strength and determination.  I spent the first part of my 40s alone with just me and my golden retriever, ABBA, wondering if we’d ever meet “the one”.  Like Gloria, there were many empty dates and hook-ups, but I found love again.

I just couldn’t imagine doing it in my late-50s or 60s.

Garcia’s heartbreaking performance was amazing and she made me wish that Gloria was my friend.  The role won Garcia the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the 63rd Annual Berlin International Film Festival.

When it was in theaters earlier this year, it made $2.1 million in the United States.  You can rent it at Redbox.

GRADE:  A

REMEMBERING LAURA BRANIGAN

Hearing a much different version of “Gloria” in that movie got me thinking of Laura Branigan.

It’s been almost ten years now since the singer died of a brain aneurysm at her home on August 26, 2004.

From 1982-1987, she placed seven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those, three reached the top ten:  her first hit, the Grammy Award-nominated, “Gloria” (#2, 1982), “Solitaire” (#7, 1983), and “Self Control” (#4, 1984).

While “Gloria” peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, it topped the Cash Box singles chart in the United States in November 1982.  It also hit #1 in Canada and spent seven weeks at the top of the chart in Australia in early 1983.

MADONNA’S GETTING CLOSE!

I’m only speculating based on recent Instagram posts, but I really think Madonna is getting close to dropping her follow-up to 2012’s “MDNA” album.

She has posted that she’s been working with EDM producer/disc jockey Avicii (who also remixed “Girl Gone Wild”), Natalia Kills, and Diplo.

Diplo tells “Rolling Stone” about Madonna, “I’ve done about three weeks with her, and we’re gonna do some more projects at the end of July. She’s just really cool. I think as far as artists reinventing themselves, she did it before anybody else. She kind of began that trend of actually coming back with a whole new look and style and sound and winning it and hitting the top of the charts. Those records are gonna be crazy-sounding. We really pushed the envelope with some of the stuff we were doing.”

And, just this week, she posted this teaser:

Madonna Messiah

There’s also been rumors that the English electronic duo, Disclosure, is also working on the album.  While they deny it, they say they’d love to work with her.

And, if that collaboration would sound anything like their current #11 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with Sam Smith, I sure hope they do something with Madonna since I love the song and the video!

Something tells me she’s going to silently drop the new album this fall or by the end of the year like Beyonce did last December!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

I saw Martina McBride in concert 2001 as part of Reba McEntire’s “Girls Night Out” Tour in Darien Lake, New York.  What a big voice from such a small woman!

Since blasting onto the country scene in 1992, she’s scored 42 hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 20 reached the Top Ten and five topped the chart:  “Wild Angels” (1996, one week), “A Broken Wing” (1998, one week), “Wrong Again” (1998, one week), “I Love You” (1999, five weeks), and “Blessed” (2002, two weeks).

“I Love You” was also featured in the Richard Gere and Julia Roberts movie, “Runaway Bride” and it’s her biggest crossover hit, peaking at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100.

I couldn’t find it, but luckily, my friend, Christopher found the official video to “Independence Day” for me.  It’s one of the most powerful songs ever released in any genre.

Because domestic abuse is a heavy subject matter, the song only reached #12 on the Billboard country chart in 1994, but it did win Country Music Association Awards for “Song of the Year” and “Video of the Year” and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.

THAT’S IT

Have a great Fourth of July weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 27, 2014

Happy Friday!  This is the kickoff to the last weekend of June.  I cannot believe that one-half of 2014 is already behind us and the Fourth of July is next week!

We have nothing planned this weekend and that’s perfectly fine with me.  Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

I hope you have a great one.

CELEBRATING 90TH BIRTHDAY

A couple of weeks ago, former President George H. W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of a plane.

Before the jump, he tweeted, “It’s a wonderful day in Maine — in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.”

Bush Jumping on 90th

I commend him for doing something that I’d never do.  He also took parachute jumps on his 80th and 85th birthdays.

George H.W. Bush becomes the fifth U.S. President to reach 90-years-old and he’s the fifth longest living President.  He joins the ranks of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, John Adams, and Herbert Hoover.

Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter

God-willing, on October 1st of this year, my favorite President, Jimmy Carter, will become the sixth President to live to 90!

WAS THERE FOUL PLAY INVOLVED IN TAMMY WYNETTE’S DEATH?

I recently read “Tammy Wynette:  A Daughter Recalls Her Mother’s Tragic Life and Death” by Jackie Daly, the country legend’s second oldest daughter.

A Daughter Recalls

Tammy Wynette died in April of 1998 at the age of 55.  While she had health issues, numerous major surgeries, and an addiction to painkillers over the course of her life, the circumstances surrounding her death were very questionable.

This book is pretty one-sided since it’s told by a daughter that went to great lengths to prove that there was a cover-up in her mother’s death.  However, it definitely makes you realize that celebrity deaths are handled much differently than the deaths of average people.  And, even moreso, when there are millions of dollars at stake.

Jackie Daly (with Tom Carter) makes a good argument that it’s very suspicious that Wynette’s husband, George Richey, called his wife’s personal physician in Pennsylvania, hundreds of miles away, to inform him of the singer’s death before the local medical examiner was contacted.

Tammy’s four daughters would go on to file a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Wallis Marsh of Pittsburgh, who had prescribed the drug, Versed, to Wynette.  That drug has been proven that it could cause death if not administered by professionals and under supervision.

Richey was also named in the lawsuit for administering the drug, but he was later dropped.  The pharmacy, Care Solutions of Nashville, was also named in the lawsuit for delivering the painkiller.

Four years after Wynette’s death, a confidential out-of-court settlement was reached between Marsh and the four daughters.

ENOUGH ALREADY

I could care less about Chris Brown’s court appearances and Justin Bieber’s latest run-ins with the law.  Also, “Entertainment Weekly”, move on from “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men”.  There are other things happening in the world of television, movies, music, and books!

WHAT’S NEXT?

Now that Ray and I are wrapping up the fifth and final season of “Fringe”, (R.I.P. Walter, Olivia, and Peter), we’re debating what series to watch next.  It’s between “Breaking Bad” and “True Blood”.

fringe-show

I think we’re leaning toward “Breaking Bad” since the seventh and final season of “True Blood” is now underway.

Also, the second season of “Under The Dome” starts Monday night, June 30th, on CBS!

Under The Dome

PICK HIT

Christian pop singer Amy Grant is ready to make a comeback on the pop charts and in the dance clubs.

Amy Grant

On August 19th, “In Motion: The Remixes” is released and it’ll feature remixes of some of her biggest hits by some of today’s hottest DJs, including Chris Cox, Tony Moran, Moto Blanco, Ralph Rosario, and Hex Hector.

“Baby Baby”, remixed by Dave Aude, is ready to blast its way into the dance clubs.

Since her first Christian hit in 1977, she’s hit the top of that chart 16 times and she’s also crossed over to the pop chart.

Amy has a total of ten Top 40 hits of the Billboard Hot 100, including five from her 1991 album, “Heart in Motion”, that sold more than five million copies in the U.S.

Of those pop hits, two have topped the Hot 100, “The Next Time I Fall”, a duet with Peter Cetera in 1986, and a solo hit, “Baby Baby”, for two weeks in the spring of 1991.

This is one release I’m looking forward to this fall.

“WALK OF SHAME”

The last comedy that really made me laugh out loud was “This Is The End” last year and that ended up being my fifth favorite movie I saw in 2013.

Now, I can add the box office bomb, “Walk of Shame” to that list of funny movies.  Yes, critics hated it and it was panned by the few movie goers that saw it.  For whatever reason, it was only released in 51 theaters for a week!  Nevertheless, Ray and I thought it was funny.

Elizabeth Banks plays Meghan Miles, a Los Angeles television news anchor, who is dumped by her fiance.  Her two friends force her to go on the town.  After getting drunk and hooking up with the very hunky Gordon, played by James Marsden, she leaves his place when he falls asleep and checks her messages.  The network is coming to see her show for a promotion to do the national news.

When she leaves Gordon’s place, her car is being towed away with her purse in it.  In her quest to get the car back, she runs into altercations with local drug dealer, prostitutes, the police, and that’s only part of the drama and the chaos.

So, it may not be Oscar-worthy material, but I laughed many times and I plan on buying the DVD.

Many of us have done the “walk of shame” and this is one I’d definitely do again!

GRADE:  B

I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

Since I talked about Tammy Wynette earlier in the blog, I’ll feature her in this weekly segment.

In her long career, Tammy scored 44 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 31 reached the Top Ten and 25 of them made the Top 5.

Tammy topped the country music chart 17 times and for a stretch from 1967 to 1969, she had seven consecutive number one songs.  Some of her number ones include “I Don’t Want To Play House”, “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”, and “Stand By Your Man”

“‘Til I Can Make It on My Own” is one of my favorite Tammy Wynette songs.  It hit #1 in the spring of 1976.

In addition to her solo hits (and a #1 duet with David Houston in 1967), Tammy also scored 13 Top 40 hits with George Jones.  Of those, eight reached the Top Ten and three topped the Country charts including “Golden Ring” and “We’re Gonna Hold On”.

tammy-wynette

With all the country success, only “Stand By Your Man”, her #1 1968 country hit crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100.  It peaked at #19.

However, that would not be her last appearance.  In late 1991, the British duo, KLF, called up the “Queen of Country Music” to lend her vocals to their hit, “Justified & Ancient (Stand by the JAMs)”.

That song made it all the way up to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #2 on the Billboard Dance charts.

But, it hit #1 in Austria for five weeks and #1 in Sweden for three weeks.  It also topped the charts in Finland and New Zealand and almost hit the top in the U.K. peaking at #2.

R.I.P. TAMMY WYNETTE

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.   Here’s hoping that we all have a great weekend.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — June 20, 2014

Happy Friday!  I hope you had a great week and that you’re looking forward to the weekend.  Thank you for taking the time to check out my random thoughts this week.

SUMMER STARTS SATURDAY MORNING

Today is the last day of spring!  Summer officially begins at 5:51 a.m. CDT Saturday.  If this means relaxing in the backyard swimming pool and anticipating my two fall trips (those details coming at a later date), I’m all for it.

Pool

Every summer, we plant a small garden of mostly tomatoes.  First, it was for Miss ABBA, who loved them.  Now we do it in her memory.

This year, I actually started most of the tomato plants inside when snow was still on the ground!  Most of our tomatoes are “ice white cherry” from seeds I bought on ebay.  We also have a common red ones and peppers in many varieties.

I’m looking forward to making homemade salsa in my new Hamilton Beach Food Processor that Santa brought me.  I wish that I lived in California, or some avocado-producing state, to make fresh guacamole from hand-picked avocados, too.

R.I.P CASEY KASEM

Last Sunday, on Father’s Day, radio legend Casey Kasem passed away at the age of 82.

People around the world grew up listening to that distinctive and distinguished voice count down the 40 biggest songs across the U.S. on “American Top 40″.

Casey_Kasem

The show debuted over Independence Day weekend in 1970 and Casey’s last countdown during his first run was on August 6, 1988.  (He would return to “American Top 40″ from 1998-2003.)

When the show started, it was broadcast on seven stations.  At its peak, it was broadcast on more than a thousand stations in the U.S. and in 50 countries around the world.

For those listening to that first show in 1970, Casey opened with “Here we go with the Top 40 hits of the nation this week on “American Top 40″, the best-selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico.  This is Casey Kasem in Hollywood, and in the next three hours, we’ll count down the 40 most popular hits in the United States this week, hot off the record charts of “Billboard” magazine…”

Sadly, he gained media attention recently in a very nasty, public dispute between his children and his second wife of almost 34 years, Jean, as he battled Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Here is a blog that I wrote two years ago about how much I loved listening to Casey and how a long distance dedication could go terribly wrong!

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/when-cusswords-outnumber-the-top-40-hits/

“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

R.I.P. Casey!

POOR STATE OF POP RADIO

Since we’re talking radio, I have to say that I’m not a fan of Clear Channel Communications’ promotional synergy of pushing a new song by playing it at the top of every hour for a certain period of time.

Madonna-Give-Me-All-Your-Luvin

While that helped Madonna secure her record-extending  38th Top Ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012 with “Give Me All Your Luvin”, along with Britney Spears debuting at #12 last year with “Work Bitch”, and Michael Jackson earning another Top Ten hit this year with “Love Never Felt So Good”, it also dooms the songs.

It’s debatable whether those three songs are worthy of hitting the top of the chart, but constant initial airplay pushes those song to a high debut and then they usually drop off quickly the next week and rarely rebound to a higher chart position on the airplay chart.

Why can’t it be like it used to be when Casey Kasem counted down the hottest songs in the land.  When you heard them, you knew you’d hear them during the week on your local radio station because back then a song had to build airplay week to week!

KUDOS TO RICKY MARTIN

To protest Morocco’s antigay laws, Ricky Martin changed the pronoun in his ballad, “She’s All I Ever Had” to “he” while performing at the 13th Mawazine World Rhythms Festival in Rabat, Morocco.

He sang, “It’s the way he makes me feel / It’s the only thing that’s real / It’s the way he understands / He’s my lover, he’s my friend / When I look into his eyes it’s the way I feel inside / Like the man I want to be / He’s all I ever need.”

Homosexuality is still a crime there and just last month, six Moroccan men were convicted and each face up to three years in prison.

This is the original that reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999.

And, if you’re a Ricky Martin fan, his autobiography, “Me”, is amazing.

Here’s the blog that I wrote about it if you want to know more about it or Ricky.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/me-personifies-ricky-martins-compassionate-life/

WAS ANTHONY PERKINS “PSYCHO”?

I just finished reading “Split Image” by Charles Winecoff about the life and death of movie and stage legend Anthony Perkins, who died of AIDS in 1992.  The book was published four years after the “Psycho” star’s death.

Split Image

As I was reading the very lengthy book (480 pages), I was so ready for it to end.

I never met Tony Perkins, so I don’t know if he was a shy, introverted, strange man or not.  However, I can’t believe that Winecoff spent so much time and effort interviewing people and pulling quotes from Perkins and many of his fellow actors to piece together such an unhappy, unflattering book.

It was as if Winecoff disliked Perkins so much that he took joy in making him look as bad as possible after the actor’s death.

I love reading biographies or books about real events.  But, it was hard for me to read about Perkins’ life from someone who didn’t interview the star for the book.

The book did not change how I feel about Perkins since I was named after him, after all!  I still think the lanky, 6’2″ actor was gorgeous in the 1950s and 1960s!  See for yourself.

The song featured in that video was “How About You” from Perkins’ 1957 album, “Tony Perkins”.   He reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957 with “Moon-Light Swim”.

Beyond his career defining role as serial killer Norman Bates in 1960’s “Psycho” and its three sequels, Perkins was nominated for an Oscar in 1957 and he won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award in 1961.

Anthony Perkins Psycho

I’m glad that Winecoff used this quote from Anthony Perkins as he lay dying that he dictated to his sons:

“There are many who believe this disease is God’s vengeance, but I believe it was sent to teach people how to love and understand and have compassion for each other.  I have learned more about love, selflessness, and human understanding from the people I have met in this great adventure in the world of AIDS than I ever did in the cutthroat, competitive world in which I spent my life.”

AN EARLY BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR MYSELF

While I have an amazing celebratory trip coming up in October to usher in my 50th birthday (details are coming soon), I bought myself concert tickets to see my favorite band of all time for the first time.

The band is Erasure and here’s one of their biggest hits in the United States from 1988.

If you’re not all that familiar with the band and would like a crash course in who they are and learn more about me and my younger days, check out the blog I wrote about them.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-fall-just-got-more-exciting-with-erasure/

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Tonight, we’re off to Clinton, Iowa, just outside the Quad Cities, to see the “Grits and Glamour Tour” with Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis.

Grits Glamour Tour

Since she scored her first country hit in 1988 with “Trainwreck of Emotion”, which reached #20, Lorrie Morgan has amassed 25 hits on the Billboard country charts.

Of those, 14 reached the Top Ten, and three topped the charts:  “Five Minutes” (1990), “What Part of No” (1993), and “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” (1995).

“Watch Me” reached #2 on the Billboard Country charts in 1992.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Throughout the 1990s, Pam Tillis scored 22 Top 40 hits on the country chart.  Of that great accomplishment, 13 of those songs made the Top Ten and 10 of them making it all the way into the Top 5.  (She also had a Top 30 hit with Dolly Parton, “Romeo”).

Her only #1, “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)” topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

One of my favorite Pam Tillis songs is “Spilled Perfume”, from the “Sweetheart’s Dance” album.  It hit #5 on the Billboard Country chart in 1994.

HAPPY PRIDE WEEKEND, CHICAGO PEEPS

It’s pride weekend in Chicago and I want to wish all of my friends there a safe and fun weekend!

pride-martini-collection

It’s been a few years, 2010, I think, since I last celebrate Pride in the big city.  So, friends, have a drink or a shot for me!

I want to close out my blog with three “Pride-worthy” videos to kick off the weekend.

The first is a song that I saw performed on television in April 1993 for the “March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation” while I was living in small town Kentucky.

Seeing Rozalla sing “Everybody’s Free” while hundreds of thousands of people just like me making themselves visible was such an incredible feeling.   Unfortunately, I can’t find a video from the 1993 “March”, but the song’s message is still the same from the music video.

The second is by the late Sylvester, a legend in the LGBT community.

In 1978, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” was #1 Billboard Dance hit and a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

And, the last video is one of the sexiest and most life-affirming, “be proud” messages I’ve seen in a video by a straight, but not narrow friend of the LGBT community, Kylie Minogue.

I guess the Kylie video is powerful.  I had a high school classmate delete me on Facebook when I posted the video a couple of years ago.  He said it was part of the moral decay in this country!

THAT’S IT

My friends, whatever your persuasion, I hope you have a fantastic first weekend of summer.  Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

Anthony

My Fall Just Got More Exciting With Erasure

I’ve seen some fun and amazing concerts this year (Cher, Shania Twain, and Olivia Newton-John), but I’m really psyched to see my favorite band of all-time this fall for the first time — a week before my monumental 50th birthday!

It’s not ABBA, Culture Club, The Human League, Duran Duran, The Carpenters, New Kids on the Block, Pet Shop Boys, Dead or Alive, or Depeche Mode, although I do want to see Pet Shop Boys and Culture Club in 2015 and I’d love to see The Human League again.

Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, better known as Erasure, will be hitting the road this fall to support their 16th studio album, “The Violet Flame”, that comes out this September.  The first single arrives in July.

The Violet Flame Erasure

I have pretty decent seats to see them in Chicago in early October.  Unfortunately, since I was buying my tickets from an airport rushing between flights, I didn’t score “pit” tickets and I wasn’t fast enough to get VIP tickets!  Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see the show.

Until now, it’s never worked out for me to see them live in concert.

However, I did have the pleasure to say “hello” to Andy and Vince from across the “Fox News Chicago” newsroom where I was working as a news writer back in 2002.  They dropped in to make an appearance on our morning show when Erasure was playing in Chicago.

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Andy and Vince were kind of enough to sign my VHS copy of  “Wild!  Live”, their 1989 concert at the London Arena.

If you’ve only listened to mainstream Top 40 radio since the 1980s, you’re probably not too familiar with Erasure.  Sadly, radio missed the boat on the group.

They’ve hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 three times.  “Chains of Love” peaked at #12 in 1988.

That was followed by “A Little Respect”, which made it to #14 that same year, and “Always” reached the Top 20 in 1994.

However, my love for Erasure goes back a few years before they had their first hit on American radio.  In 1985, they released their first record, “Who Needs Love Like That”/”Heavenly Action”, which was a Top Ten U.S. dance club hit.

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I had just turned 21 and I no longer had to sneak into the my local gay bar, Rumors, in Paducah, Kentucky.  When I started spinning record there in 1986, I couldn’t get enough of  “Oh L’amour”, the third single from their debut album, “Wonderland”.

That song reached #3 on the U.S. Dance charts and #2 on the charts in South Africa and #3 in Singapore.

“Oh L’amour” is still my favorite Erasure song to this day.

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Luckily, for Americans Erasure fans, the duo made it big in the clubs scoring 22 Top 40 dance hits with 16 hitting the Top Ten, and two topping the charts: “Victim of Love” (1987) and “Breathe” (2005).

In their native U.K., they’ve had 32 Top 40 hits with 15 reaching the Top Ten.  Interestingly enough, their biggest hit in England was “Sometimes” in 1987.  It’s another one of my all-time favorites, but it missed the top.  It stalled out at #2.

While I’ve always been “out”, being born and raised in small town Kentucky, I admired Andy Bell from the beginning for being himself — out, proud and fabulous.  He didn’t change himself or conform his look or stage presence to be “safe” for American audiences.

Now, I did wear some interesting clothes in my 20s that provoked second looks and “under the breath” comments, but compared to Andy’s style, it was very subtle!

If you have any doubt about Andy’s eye-catching style, check out this performance, “Star”, from “Wild!  Live”!

And, if I didn’t totally love Andy and Vince before 1992, I was in gay heaven that year when they released “Abba-esque”, a four-song EP of ABBA tunes.  It hit the top of the charts in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Before Erasure broke onto the music scene, ABBA was my favorite band.  I loved the Swedish band so much that, in 2000, I named my golden retriever after them!  :)  Shortly after she went to “puppy heaven” in early 2012, I got a tattoo of Miss ABBA!

Anthony ABBA Tattoo

“The Violet Flame Tour”, which kicks off in September in Miami, Florida, then heads across the U.S. (and Toronto, Ontario) through early November before heading to Europe and then back to New York City for two shows to ring in the New Year!

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This is Erasure’s first tour since 2011’s international “The Tomorrow’s World Tour”.

While Andy may not wear as many sequins and the costumes may not be as revealing as back in 1989, from this video from Offenbach, Germany, in November 2011, Andy and Vince’s performances are still energizing and incredible.

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I’m already looking forward to July to hear the first single from “The Violet Flame” and for the album’s release in September.

But, most of all, I’m counting down the days until October 4th, when I get to see Erasure at the Chicago Theatre for the first time.

Andy and Vince, I’ll be screaming and singing along from the Main Floor B section.  I’ll pretend that you’re singing to me when I hear the first notes of “Oh L’amour”!

♫♪ Oh l’amour/Broke my heart and now I’m aching for you/Mon amour/What’s a boy in love supposed to do?

♫♪

Anthony

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