Friday, August 28, 2009

COM: The Daily Silliness

We're making a shrine Agnes, we're making a shrine . . .

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ATH: U.S. Roster announced

US Roster Announced

GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa: 5/3 SO), Tim Howard (Everton FC: 12/7 SO)

DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes: 22/3), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA, 2/0), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover: 19/0), Jay DeMerit (Watford: 3/0), Clarence Goodson (IK Start: 1/0), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew: 2/0), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan: 17/1), Jonathan Spector (West Ham: 2/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake: 0/0), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach: 11/4), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo: 6/0), Clint Dempsey (Fulham: 18/4), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus: 2/0), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo: 1/0), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew: 0/0), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca: 5/0)

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Hull City: 9/5), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids: 5/0), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo: 16/6), Charlie Davies (FC Sochaux: 3/2), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy: 31/11), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake: 0/0)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

MSC: Enhanced Horizons

Website up for our new program:

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

OBT: Ted Kennedy


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release August 26, 2009

Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Senator Ted Kennedy dies at 77
Liberal lion loses yearlong battle with brain cancer at Massachusetts home
NBC News and news services, updated 6:59 a.m. CT, Wed., Aug 26, 2009

BOSTON - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to assassins' bullets, has died at his home in Hyannis Port after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy served alongside 10 presidents — his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them — compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

His only run for the White House ended in defeat in 1980. More than a quarter-century later, he handed then-Sen. Barack Obama an endorsement at a critical point in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, explicitly likening the young contender to President Kennedy.

To the American public, Kennedy — known to friends and foes alike simply as Ted — was best known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy.

His family announced his death in a brief statement released early Wednesday.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," the statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all."

A few hours later, two vans left the family compound at Hyannis Port in pre-dawn darkness. Both bore hearse license plates — with the word "hearse" blacked out.

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements. Two of Kennedy's brothers, John and Robert, are buried at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington.

President Obama, on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., said he and the first lady were “heartbroken” to hear of Kennedy's passing.

“An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time,” Obama said.

Young senator
Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1962, taking the seat that his brother John had occupied before winning the White House, and served longer than all but two senators in history.

His own hopes of reaching the White House were damaged — perhaps doomed — in 1969 by the scandal that came to be known as Chappaquiddick, an auto accident that left a young woman dead.

He sought the White House more than a decade later, lost the Democratic nomination to President Jimmy Carter, and bowed out with a stirring valedictory that echoed across the decades: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."

Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in May 2008 and underwent surgery and a grueling regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.

‘Ally and a dear friend’
Kennedy's death triggered an outpouring of superlatives.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement that her husband and Kennedy "could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another."

She added that she considered Kennedy "an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."

Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose wife, Maria Shriver, was Kennedy's niece, praised “the rock of our family: a loving husband, father, brother and uncle.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that both the Kennedy family and the Senate have "lost our patriarch" and vowed Congress would renew the push for the cause of Kennedy's life, health care reform.

Building a legacy
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Kennedy's son Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., said his father had defied the predictions of doctors by surviving more than a year with his fight against brain cancer.

The younger Kennedy also said his father's legacy was built largely in the Senate.

"He has authored more pieces of major legislation than any other United States senator," Patrick Kennedy said. "He is the penultimate senator. I don't need to exaggerate when I talk about my father. That's the amazing thing. He breaks all the records himself."

Ted Kennedy made a surprise return to the Capitol last summer to cast the decisive vote for the Democrats on Medicare. He made sure he was there again last January to see his former Senate colleague Barack Obama sworn in as the nation's first black president, but suffered a seizure at a celebratory luncheon afterward.

He also made a surprise and forceful appearance at last summer's Democratic National Convention, where he spoke of his own illness and said health care was the cause of his life. His death occurred precisely one year later, almost to the hour.

Kennedy was away from the Senate for much of this year, leaving Republicans and Democrats to speculate about the impact what his absence meant for the fate of Obama's health care proposals.

Under state law, Kennedy's successor will be chosen by special election. In his last known public act, the senator urged state officials to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the power to name an interim replacement. But that appears unlikely, leaving Democrats in Washington with one less vote for the next several months as they struggle to pass Obama's health care legislation.

His death came less than two weeks after that of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver on Aug. 11. Kennedy was not present for the funeral, an indication of the precariousness of his own health.

Tragic figure
After Chappaquiddick especially, Kennedy gained a reputation as a heavy drinker and a womanizer, a tragically flawed figure haunted by the fear that he did not quite measure up to his brothers. As his weight ballooned, he was lampooned by comics and cartoonists in the 1980s and '90s as the very embodiment of government waste, bloat and decadence.

But in his later years, after he had remarried, he buckled down and came to be regarded as a statesman on Capitol Hill, seen as one of the most effective, hardworking lawmakers Washington has ever seen.

A barrel-chested figure with a swath of white hair, a booming voice and a thick, widely imitated Boston accent, he coupled fist-pumping floor speeches with his well-honed Irish charm and formidable negotiating skills. He was both a passionate liberal and a clear-eyed pragmatist, unafraid to reach across the aisle to get things done.

Over the decades, he managed to put his imprint on every major piece of social legislation to clear the Congress. In fact, for all his insecurities, he ended up perhaps the most influential liberal voice of his time.

He arrived at his place in the Senate after a string of family tragedies so terrible it sometimes seemed as if the Kennedys — America's foremost political dynasty — were as cursed as they were charmed. He was the only one of the four Kennedy brothers to die of natural causes.

Kennedy's eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a plane crash in World War II. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles as he campaigned for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination. John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash at age 38 along with his wife in 1999.

It fell to Ted Kennedy to deliver the eulogies, to comfort his brothers' widows, to mentor fatherless nieces and nephews. It was Ted Kennedy who walked JFK's daughter, Caroline, down the aisle at her wedding.

Eloquence and scandal
Tragedy had a way of bringing out his eloquence.

Kennedy sketched a dream of a better future as he laid to rest his brother Robert in 1968: "My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it."

After John Jr.'s death, the senator eulogized the young man by saying: "We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair, with his beloved Carolyn by his side. But like his father, he had every gift but length of years."

His own legacy was blighted on the night of July 18, 1969, when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and into a pond on Chappaquiddick Island, on Martha's Vineyard. Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old worker with RFK's campaign, was found dead in the submerged car's back seat 10 hours later.

Kennedy, then 37, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a two-month suspended sentence and a year's probation. A judge eventually determined there was "probable cause to believe that Kennedy operated his motor vehicle negligently ... and that such operation appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne."

At the height of the scandal, Kennedy went on national television to explain himself in an extraordinary 13-minute address in which he denied driving drunk and rejected rumors of "immoral conduct" with Ms. Kopechne. He said he was haunted by "irrational" thoughts immediately after the accident, and wondered "whether some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys." He said his failure to report the accident right away was "indefensible."

In 1980, Kennedy took the extraordinary step of challenging a sitting president, Carter, for the party's nomination. Kennedy's left-of-center politics made him an unlikely choice. But Chappaquiddick — and lingering suspicions that the famous Kennedy money and clout had gotten him out of the trouble — damaged his chances, too.

Wide-ranging legislative record
First elected to the Senate in 1962, easily re-elected in 2006, Kennedy served close to 47 years, longer than all but two senators in history: Robert Byrd of West Virginia (more than 50 1/2 years and counting) and the late Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who put in nearly 47 1/2 years.

His legislative achievements included bills to provide health insurance for children of the working poor, the landmark 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, abortion clinic access, family leave, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

He was also a key negotiator on legislation creating a Medicare prescription drug benefit for senior citizens and was a driving force for peace in Ireland and a persistent critic of the war in Iraq.

Kennedy did not always prevail. In late 2008, he unsuccessfully lobbied for niece Caroline's appointment to the Senate from New York.

Wildly popular among Democrats, Kennedy routinely won re-election by large margins. He grew comfortable in his role as Republican foil and leader of his party's liberal wing.

President George W. Bush welcomed Kennedy to the Rose Garden on several occasions as he signed bills that the Democrat helped write.

"He's the kind of person who will state his case, sometimes quite eloquently and vociferously, and then on another issue will come along and you can work with him," Bush said shortly before his first term began in 2001.

But Bush was also the target of some of Kennedy's sharpest attacks. Kennedy assailed the Iraq war as Bush's Vietnam, a conflict "made up in Texas" and marketed by the Bush administration for political gain.

Passing the torch
Kennedy and his niece Caroline shook up the Democratic establishment in January 2008 when they endorsed Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination for president. The ailing Massachusetts senator electrified delegates when he made a surprise trip to Denver last August to address the Democratic convention and press for Obama's election.

After Obama won in November, Kennedy renewed words once spoken by his brother John, declaring: "The world is changing. The old ways will not do. ... It is time for a new generation of leadership."

Born in 1932, the youngest of Joseph and Rose Kennedy's nine children, Edward Moore Kennedy was part of a family bristling with political ambition, beginning with maternal grandfather John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, a congressman and mayor of Boston.

Round-cheeked Teddy was thrown out of Harvard in 1951 for cheating, after arranging for a classmate to take a freshman Spanish exam for him. He eventually returned, earning his degree in 1956.

In 1955, Kennedy's performance on the football field for Harvard earned him the notice of the Green Bay Packers, who suggested he could have a professional sports career. Kennedy declined the approach, however, saying he planned to to "go into another contact sport, politics."

He went on to the University of Virginia Law School, and in 1962, while his brother John was president, announced plans to run for the Senate seat JFK had vacated in 1960. A family friend had held the seat in the interim because Kennedy was not yet 30, the minimum age for a senator. He ultmately won the general election.

But devastated by his brothers' assassinations and injured in a 1964 plane crash that left him with back pain that would plague him for decades, Kennedy temporarily withdrew from public life in 1968. He re-emerged in 1969 to be elected majority whip of the Senate.

Then came Chappaquiddick.

Kennedy still handily won re-election in 1970, but he lost his leadership job. He remained outspoken in his opposition to the Vietnam War and support of social programs but ruled out a 1976 presidential bid.

Kennedy married Virginia Joan Bennett, known as Joan, in 1958. They divorced in 1982. In 1992, he married Washington lawyer Victoria Reggie. His survivors include a daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen; two sons, Edward Jr. and Patrick, a congressman from Rhode Island; and two stepchildren, Caroline and Curran Raclin.

In 1991, Kennedy roused his nephew William Kennedy Smith and his son Patrick from bed to go out for drinks while staying at the family's Palm Beach, Fla., estate. Later that night, a woman Smith met at a bar accused him of raping her at the home.

Smith was acquitted, but the senator's carousing — and testimony about him wandering about the house in his shirttails and no pants — further damaged his reputation.

Later on, his second wife appeared to have a calming influence on him, helping him rehabilitate his image.

Memoir forthcoming
Kennedy's family life has been marked by illness.

Edward Jr. lost a leg to bone cancer in 1973 at age 12. Kara had a cancerous tumor removed from her lung in 2003. In 1988, Patrick had a noncancerous tumor pressing on his spine removed. He has also struggled with mental problems and addiction and announced in June that he was re-entering rehab.

In 2005, the senator's ex-wife underwent surgery for breast cancer. She has also battled alcoholism.

Kennedy's memoir, "True Compass," is set to be published in the fall.


Teddy was a lion for civil rights

Many of us once joked that Bill Clinton was the "first black president" (which he wasn't). We had it wrong. If such a title were to be given to any white man, that should have to be the late Senator Ted Kennedy. He was never president of the United States, but he was certainly one of the kings of his generation.

As a member of the Senate since 1962, Senator Kennedy had a long career fighting for those forced to live in the underbelly of a capitalist society. Over the last 47 years, he has done it better than nearly any politician in American history. African-Americans were among the many beneficiaries of his passionate life's work, and for that, we will always be appreciative.

In a multitude of areas including housing, income, civil liberties, and equality, Ted Kennedy has been on the front lines. His brother John introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964, considered to be one of the most impactful pieces of legislation ever produced by our government. After John's death, Ted and his brother Robert were instrumental in seeing that the bill was passed.

Senator Ted Kennedy then went on to help pass one law after another to support the rights of the elderly, the sick, the poor and the incarcerated. He introduced the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Civil Rights Act of 1991, The Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, among others. He also helped to amend the Fair Housing Act, and has fought relentlessly for those who've never known the comfort of attending an Ivy League University.

Senator Kennedy's political compassion, as well as his complicated coping mechanisms, may be linked to the tragedy he experienced during his life. As a young child, he watched his sister Rosemary endure a failed lobotomy, saw his brother Joseph die in World War II and then witnessed his older sister Kathleen's death in a plane crash. This tragedy was compounded by the assassinations of his two brothers, Robert and John during the 1960s. This kind of pain doesn't heal easily, and few families endure such an amazing amount of personal tragedy. It is quite possible that the weight of his psychological pain gave Senator Kennedy the ability to empathize with the struggles of others, as well as the strength to fight through hurdles presented by his adversaries.

In spite of his personal tragedies, Senator Kennedy was not a man without privilege. After being kicked out of Harvard for cheating on an exam, he was allowed back into school two years later. Additionally, there are persistent rumors regarding the ability of Kennedy family members to avoid paying social and legal costs for serious mistakes. While one might be tempted to say that it would be great to be a Kennedy, the truth is that this family is an almost mythical manifestation of wealth, power and privilege as well as cross-generational trauma.

Ted Kennedy will be missed, especially by African-Americans. In spite of his short-comings, he should have had the chance to become president. He certainly would not have been the most flawed human being to enter the White House and it's clear that his strengths in life far outweighed his weaknesses. But even without entering the White House, Ted Kennedy has left his mark on our nation forever, and that fact simply cannot be denied.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

OBT: Elmer Kelton

i might tell an Elmer Kelton story later . . .

EDITOR'S NOTE: Award-winning novelist Elmer Kelton of San Angelo died Saturday. He was 83. Below is his obituary, written by his family.

SAN ANGELO — Elmer Stephen Kelton, 83, died Saturday. He was born April 29, 1926, at Horse Camp in Andrews County to Mr. and Mrs. R.W. “Buck” Kelton, and grew up on the McElroy Ranch in Upton and Crane counties. He completed his education at the University of Texas after serving in Europe during World War II.

Kelton married Anna Lipp of Ebensee, Austria in 1947 and began a career in agriculture journalism at the San Angelo Standard-Times in 1949. He became editor of the Sheep & Goat Raiser magazine in 1963 and associate editor of Livestock Weekly in 1968, retiring in 1990. Kelton maintained a parallel career as a freelance writer, beginning with short stories in the post-war pulp magazine trade, progressing to novels, non-fiction books and countless magazine articles. In all, he wrote more than 40 books, including “The Time it Never Rained,” “The Wolf and the Buffalo,” “The Day the Cowboys Quit,” and “The Good Old Boys,” which became a Turner Network movie directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones. Kelton was named the number-one Western writer of all time by the Western Writers of America. The WWA voted him seven Spur awards for best Western novel of the year and the career Saddleman Award, and he received four Western Heritage Wrangler awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ann Kelton of San Angelo, sons Gary Kelton of Plainview and Steve Kelton of San Angelo, with wife Karen McGinnis, and daughter Kathy Kelton, also of San Angelo and companion Pat Hennigan. He and Ann have four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. He is also survived by his brothers, Merle and wife Ann of May, Texas, Bill and wife Pat of Atlanta, Texas, and Eugene and wife Peggy of McCamey.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the giver’s favorite charity or the Tom Green County Library’s Elmer Kelton statue fund through the San Angelo Area Foundation at 2201 Sherwood Way, Suite 205. Arrangements are pending at Johnson’s Funeral Home.

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MSC: Greater Tuna held over

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NAT/ENV: The Yurok & The Condor

Tribal effort to fix broken world hinges on condor
By JEFF BARNARD (AP) – Aug 15, 2009

ORICK, Calif. — The tribes of the lower Klamath River have since ancient times decorated themselves with condor feathers when they performed the dances designed to heal a world gone wrong.

"It can soar the highest, so we figured that was the one to get our prayers to heaven when we were asking for the world to be in balance," said Richard Myers, a member of the Yurok Tribal Council and a leader in the revival of the tribe's world renewal ceremonies.

Now the Yurok Tribe is using modern science in hopes of restoring condors, which have not soared above the northern coast of California since 1914.

If they establish that condors can survive here, and get federal permission to introduce birds from a captive breeding program, it would be the first restoration of condors in the northern half of its historic range, and a stepping stone to condors soaring over Oregon and Washington. Lewis and Clark collected some as they trekked down the Columbia River.

With a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the tribe is trapping turkey vultures to test for lead poisoning from eating the rotting remains of deer and elk contaminated by lead bullets, and cutting plugs of blubber from dead sea lions to measure the legacy of DDT pesticides. Those tests will help determine potential toxic threats to condors.

Researchers from Oregon State University and the Oregon Zoo are computer mapping areas throughout the Northwest where condors can nest in big trees and rocky cliffs, and soar over steep hillsides with the kind of sustained winds that draw hang gliders.

"He was like the boss of all the birds," said the tribal council's Myers. "At one point in time in our world we know where the beginning of the world was. We call it Kenick. The birds and animals would all speak the same language. He was the first one. He was also the first one to go extinct for whatever reasons."

The details of why condors went extinct in the Northwest are not clear. Tribal wildlife biologist Chris West figures that a big factor was commercial whaling and sealing, which deprived the birds of a major source of food washing up on the beach. Tests of feathers indicate marine sources comprised up to half the diet of some birds.

That's why he drove two hours South to Ferndale, then hiked nearly an hour back up the beach to find a dead sea lion reported by another biologist.

The Yurok need to establish how safe it will be for condors to feed on whales and sea lions, because their blubber is the repository of DDT pesticides and related chemicals dumped in the ocean decades ago. Like eagles, condors in the 1960s and 1970s became unable to hatch their eggs because DDT made the shells too thin, West said.

When West found the sea lion, it was seething with maggots, too far gone for drawing samples of blood and blubber.

The state of the carcass illustrates the role condors played in the ecology of the North Coast, West said. They are the only scavengers strong enough to rip open such tough hide, allowing gulls and turkey vultures to join the feast.

In another attempt to measure lead levels, Tiana Williams sat hidden and quiet in the hills above Orick, watching the stinking remains of roadkilled deer and raccoons that would draw turkey vultures into a trap.

After graduating from Harvard in biochemistry, she came home to work for her tribe.

"They are considered a sacred animal," Williams said of condors. "You are never ever supposed to molest them. You are never supposed to kill them. We use their feathers for ceremonies. If you get a feather, it has to be given by the bird. You have to find it on the ground.

"Condors being the first animal we bring back to Yurok ancestral territory is a really powerful thing to me, as the first step toward renewal of our land."

After a bird struggled through a one-way wire entry into the trap, she threw a flannel sheet over it and held it gently in her lap. Biologist West inserted a needle in a leg vein, drawing blood to test for lead.

Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death for condors in the wild, said Chris Parish, condor program director for the Peregrine Fund, which breeds birds in Boise, Idaho, and releases them at the Grand Canyon.

To reduce the danger, the Peregrine Fund has worked with hunters to switch to non-lead bullets, and bring in the gut piles of animals they shoot so they won't be eaten by condors.

Aside from lead poisoning, there is little to stop condors from spreading clear up to British Columbia, Parish said.

"The habitat is suitable for them, the carrion is suitable for them," he said. "It's a matter of where we can gain the assistance of the hunting community."

At last count there were 180 condors in the wild in North America, up from 23 in the 1980s, said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Michael Woodbridge. Zoos and captive breeding programs have 176. Wild birds soar over Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, the hills outside Ventura, Calif., the Big Sur area of California, and Baja California in Mexico.

The only condors on the North Coast have been stuffed for a century. One is at the Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka. The other is at Eureka High School.

The Clarke Museum also has three condor dance feathers decorated with white deerskin and red woodpecker feathers from the Karuk Tribe, neighbors of the Yurok, who share many of their ceremonies.

With few old feathers surviving, and no condors in the wild to drop new ones, Myers has borrowed feathers from other museums and brought them to dances. Lead singers in the White Deerskin Dance wear condor feathers in their headdresses.

"We know the eagle — the bald one — is important," said Myers. "The golden one is even more so. And the condor is above them."

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

ATH: At Altitude

This is a bit after the fact, but interesting reading

Limiting Exposure At Altitude The Right Move

U.S. National Team Players Association

On Wednesday, we spoke with Dr. James Stray-Gundersen, one of the experts on altitude training for athletes. Dr. Stray-Gundersen has served as physician/physiologist for the US Cross-Country Ski Team and was a team physician for Norway’s Olympic Team in 2002. He is the co-author of “Live Hi/Train Low” now considered the defining study on altitude training for sea level performance. He was one of the experts attending and presenting at a FIFA symposium on altitude.

USSoccerPlayers: First, off, explain what effect altitude has on an athlete’s body without sufficient acclimation.

The pertinent difference at altitude compared to sea level is that the air is “thinner”, meaning that as one increases altitude in the atmosphere, the air pressure decreases. When air pressure decreases, the molecules in the air spread out such that a given volume of air contains fewer molecules of oxygen.

Our bodies rely on a certain amount of oxygen coming in to do things like sleep, study, run marathons, or play soccer. Interestingly, brief, single, athletic performances (less than 60 seconds like the long jump or the 400m run) are improved at altitude as we witnessed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. That's because the air is less dense and easier to move through and the athletes do not require a sustained oxygen delivery for their event.

When we go to altitude where there are substantially fewer oxygen molecules in a given volume of gas (~2/3rds), we breathe harder, faster and deeper during rest and exercise, but we still can’t make up for the difference in oxygen delivery. As we breathe in more oxygen, we also exhale more carbon dioxide than at sea level. Greater loss of CO2 causes the acid balance in the body (pH) to increase.

One of our primary homeostatic mechanisms is to keep pH normal. To do this we start to secrete bicarbonate (HCO3-) into the urine. When we do that, we also need to send water (H2O) along with it. That water comes from our body stores. Also because we are moving more air in and out as we breathe harder, we are losing more water in each breath to the environment.

In addition, because our red cells are less than full of oxygen, a hormonal response occurs that concentrates the red cells by removing some of the liquid part of the blood (plasma), again leading to a dehydrated state.

This process starts immediately on exposure to altitude and the body continues to lose water for three to four days. It is substantially eliminated by breathing supplemental oxygen.

Athletes do not perform well when they are dehydrated and they fatigue quicker. Further, the days they are dehydrated take their toll in “wearing out” the player, so for each successive day at altitude the players become less capable of good physiologic/athletic performances.

Around the 3rd or 4th day, the body starts responding to these acclimatization changes and starts to come back towards normal.

By 10 days to two weeks, players are close (but not completely back) to sea level status. In studies on running performance, runners initially (~ day 5) ran 6% slower at an altitude of 5900 ft and steadily improved over 4 weeks to run only 3% slower (day 26) than they did at sea level.
In an attempt to keep blood pH normal, the body starts putting bicarbonate (HCO3-) in the urine and that causes a diuresis. In addition, the body loses plasma volume. Both these processes lead to a dehydrated and under-performing player.

USSoccerPlayers: What is the best way to acclimate an athlete to altitude?

The best preparation for performing in an altitude environment is living in an altitude environment. One could live in Aspen, Colorado or Park City, Utah or Flagstaff, Arizona, or one could live at “artificial altitude” by converting their bedroom or sleeping in a hypoxic tent. If those things are not an option, the next best thing is a 2-4 week camp at altitude prior to the match.

USSoccerPlayers: In a situation like the United States, where they only had a couple of days to train prior to Wednesday’s Qualifier against Mexico in Mexico City, what were their options?

The best option is to play before the physiologic processes of acclimatization have taken their toll. The idea is to avoid the process of acclimatization as much as possible.

That could mean flying in the morning of a late afternoon match or the evening before. One can further reduce the acclimatization response by supplying oxygen to the player once they are exposed to altitude. Essentially, then the players are not at altitude if they are supplied (during the days and hours before the match) with oxygen.

The worst preparation is to arrive a few days (3-5) prior to the match.

USSoccerPlayers: Why is that?

Because the players have been “worn out” by having to deal with the process of acclimatization and the associated dehydration, while they have yet not received the positive changes that will eventually come.

USSoccerPlayers: With only a couple of days to train, is there a benefit from doing that in a place like Miami where the highest point is less than forty feet above sea level?

Any place suitable to hold a camp would do.

USSoccerPlayers: Is smog a separate issue in preparation?

Yes, but one can’t “acclimatize” to smog. Exposure ahead of time just inflames airways and makes it hard on the players. The best approach is to spend time before the game in an environment with clean air.

USSoccerPlayers: Following the game, players are released back to their clubs and make the return trip to Europe or teams in Major League Soccer for games over the weekend. What is the recovery time after playing in a place like Mexico City?

Recovery from strenuous, stressful exercise at altitude takes longer than at sea level. Recovery from jet lag is another consideration, but if the total time away from Europe has been minimized and brief (around three days), the players can avoid most of this. The air pollution and the stress of an important competition also take their toll and the players must use some of their energy reserves to come back and play well for their club teams.

USSoccerPlayers: Major League Soccer has teams and stadiums in Sandy, UT and Commerce City, CO. Does playing at altitude as part of a regular schedule or being based at a club at altitude increase a player’s ability to cope with extreme altitudes like Mexico City?

Playing a game or two in Sandy, UT (4,450 ft) and Commerce City, CO (5,164 ft) are generally insufficient exposure to altitude to have much of an effect on a subsequent match in Mexico City (~7,500 ft), although they will know how the ball behaves at altitude. There would be an advantage for players on the Real Salt Lake and Rapids squads in coping with altitude conditions.

I would like to add that football (soccer) is a complicated, exciting game that is, in part, a function of fitness and physiologic capabilities, but also very much dependent on the players’ (and coaches) brain functioning optimally.

Acute exposure to hypoxia or altitude impairs many aspects of brain function... cognitive function, memory, what the player thinks they may be capable of and overall feelings of well being. These are additional considerations in the approach to altitude competition.

Again these issues are minimized by longer term residence at altitude or by avoiding altitude as much as possible by arriving shortly before the match and by the use of supplemental oxygen.

In summary, there are additional stressors faced when sea level players are playing at altitude. They can be minimized either by living at altitude for a substantial period of time or by avoiding altitude by coming up close to the time of the match and using supplemental oxygen to blunt the changes occurring from acclimatization. Logistics of busy professional players usually make the latter the course of action.

For the 2010 World Cup where the US may have a series of matches at these altitudes (Johannesburg is at 5,751 ft), taking the time to acclimatize would give the United States an advantage.

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OBT: Les Paul

Guitar legend Les Paul has died at 94
Inventor changed course of music with electric guitar, multitrack recording
BREAKING NEWS, The Associated Press, updated 11:21 a.m. CT, Thurs., Aug 13, 2009

NEW YORK - Les Paul, the guitarist and inventor who changed the course of music with the electric guitar and multitrack recording and had a string of hits, many with wife Mary Ford, died on Thursday. He was 94.

According to Gibson Guitar, Paul died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital. His family and friends were by his side.

He had been hospitalized in February 2006 when he learned he won two Grammys for an album he released after his 90th birthday, “Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played.”

“I feel like a condemned building with a new flagpole on it,” he joked.

As an inventor, Paul helped bring about the rise of rock ’n’ roll and multitrack recording, which enables artists to record different instruments at different times, sing harmony with themselves, and then carefully balance the “tracks” in the finished recording.

With Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, he earned 36 gold records and 11 No. 1 pop hits, including “Vaya Con Dios,” “How High the Moon,” “Nola” and “Lover.” Many of their songs used overdubbing techniques that Paul the inventor had helped develop.

“I could take my Mary and make her three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished,” he recalled. “This is quite an asset.” The overdubbing technique was highly influential on later recording artists such as the Carpenters.

Electric guitar began with ‘The Log’
The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock in the 1950s.

“Suddenly, it was recognized that power was a very important part of music,” Paul once said. “To have the dynamics, to have the way of expressing yourself beyond the normal limits of an unamplified instrument, was incredible. Today a guy wouldn’t think of singing a song on a stage without a microphone and a sound system.”

A tinkerer and musician since childhood, he experimented with guitar amplification for years before coming up in 1941 with what he called “The Log,” a four-by-four piece of wood strung with steel strings.

“I went into a nightclub and played it. Of course, everybody had me labeled as a nut.” He later put the wooden wings onto the body to give it a traditional guitar shape.

In 1952, Gibson Guitars began production on the Les Paul guitar.

Pete Townsend of The Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al DiMeola and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page all made the Gibson Les Paul their trademark six-string.

Over the years, the Les Paul series has become one of the most widely used guitars in the music industry. In 2005, Christie’s auction house sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul for $45,600.

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ATH: Mexico 2, USA 1

USA 1 - Mexico 2

The United States scored early, but couldn't hold on as Mexico came back for the Wednesday afternoon win at Azteca. A great piece of skill from Charlie Davies put the USA up 1-0 in the ninth minute, but Mexico would equalize in the 19th through a bending strike from outside the box by Israel Castro. Three minutes after entering the game, Miguel Sabah hit an 82nd minute winner to give Mexico all three points.

“We know we’re a great team and I think we have what it takes to win here, but today we were a little bit unlucky," Davies said. "They were able to control most of the game with possession, and I think that’s what hurt us.”

Davies' goal was the only shot on frame Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa faced. US keeper Tim Howard had to come up with several clutch saves, recording five for the game.

"Obviously, the altitude is never easy, but I thought we did very well to prepare. We got beaten by a very good team today," Howard said.

US defender Oguchi Onyewu will miss the September 5th Qualifier against El Salvador due to yellow card accumulation. In an increasingly physical game, he picked up a card in the 27th minute. Jay DeMerit (29th) and Carlos Bocanegra (45+) were also shown yellow cards.

“I said this week that I didn’t want people to get carried away," US midfielder Landon Donovan said. "This wasn’t a live or die game for us; it was for them. Now, it puts us in a little bit more of a difficult position, but our next game is home with El Salvador, which we expect to win, and away to Trinidad, which we expect to win. We still feel if we win those two games, we’re going to qualify.

-- Game Report --

Match: United States vs. Mexico
Date: August 12, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Final Round
Venue: Estadio Azteca – Mexico City
Kickoff: 3 p.m. CT
Attendance: TBA
Weather: 80 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
MEX 1 1 2

USA – Charlie Davies (Landon Donovan) 9th minute
MEX – Israel Castro (Cuauhtémoc Blanco) 19
MEX – Miguel Sabah (Efrain Juarez) 82

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 15-Jay DeMerit, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.); 8-Clint Dempsey , 13 -Ricardo Clark (7-Stuart Holden, 58), 4-Michael Bradley, 10-Landon Donovan; 9-Charlie Davies (17-Jozy Altidore, 76), 11-Brian Ching (16-Benny Feilhaber, 58)
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 2-Jonathan Spector, 12-Jonathan Bornstein, 14-Jose Francisco Torres
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

MEX: 1-Guillermo Ochoa; 5-Ricardo Osorio, 3-Carlos Salcido, 2-Jonny Magallón, 16-Efraín Juárez; 17-Giovani dos Santos, 8-Israel Castro, 6-Gerardo Torrado (capt.), 18-Andrés Guardado (7-Nery Castillo, 71); 10-Cuauhtémoc Blanco (11-Carlos Vela, 56), 9-Guillermo Franco (14-Miguel Sabah, 79)
Subs not used: 4-Aarón Galindo, 12-José de Jesús Corona, 15-José Antonio Castro, 13-Oscar Rojas
Head Coach: Javier Aguierre

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 4 / 15
Shots on Goal: 1 / 7
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 3 / 7
Fouls: 16 / 10
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Oguchi Onyewu (caution) 27th minute
USA – Jay DeMerit (caution) 29
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 45+
MEX – Efrain Juarez (caution) 75
MEX – Giovani dos Santos (caution) 86

Referee: Roberto Moreno (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Anel Williamson (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Jaime Smith Duncan (PAN)
Fourth Official: Luis Rodriguez de la Rosa (PAN)

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MSC: "Ten Years After 40 Years Later"

Woodstock's 40th Draws Geezers, Maybe Sex and Drugs Too
Former Flower Children Do Remember 1960 Fest: Peace, Drugs and Rock 'N Roll

It's the 40th anniversary of Woodstock and they ought to be offering senior citizen discounts.

Ten Years After is playing 40 years later and Country Joe McDonald will be headlining: "Give me an O, give me an L, give me a D."

In 1969, an estimated 400,000 music lovers descended on Yasgur's farm in Bethel, N.Y. -- now hallowed ground for hippies -- creating the most celebrated rock festival of all time.

Despite food shortages, overflowing port-a-potties and torrential rain, Woodstock became a symbol for an entire generation -- peace, love, beads and a lot of good music and drugs.

Some of the musical heroes of that drug-infused era have returned for the Aug. 14-16 retro concerts -- Richie Havens, Wavy Gravy, Canned Heat and Big Brother and the Holding Company, among others -- but nearly all are pushing 70.

Gone are rock gods Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who long ago died of overdoses.

Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead is dead, as are The Who's bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. The band's guitarist Pete Townsend after years of "Tommy Can You Hear Me?" is deaf.

David Crosby had a liver transplant and former band mates Neil Young and Stephen Stills have survived brain and prostate cancer, respectively.

No Mud or Free Love Today

Today, concert goers will not roll around in the mud hoping a neighbor will pass around a bowl of brown rice. Rather, 4,500 aging rockers will sit in plush seats in a covered amphitheater with access to public toilets and concession stands selling hamburgers and hot dogs.

Most of the 15,000 who have bought tickets for the "Heroes of Woodstock" concert [some will sit on the lawn] will arrive in their hybrids and Subaru wagons rather than in psychedelically painted VW buses.

Drugs are not allowed, but 40th anniversary spokesman Amy Jaick confides there may be those who "have their own little experience" at the hillside monument erected on the original site.

Any free love will likely happen at new nearby hotels like the local Marriott, which are already booked for the entire weekend.

Returning performers like Wavy Gravy, now 73, admit they are "fast approaching official geezerhood."

Hippie From Springsteen's Hometown

But the flower children who flocked to Woodstock in 1969 aren't withering on the vine. Though most say they don't get high anymore -- except in the metaphorical sense -- the spirit of Woodstock left an indelible mark on their lives.

"I don't feel like I'm old," said Marc Gellman, 57 and a psychologist from the University of Miami who will trek back to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts this weekend. "I was politically active then and I remain politically active today."

Gellman was a long-haired 17-year-old from Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, N.J., when he and a friend ordered tickets by mail for the three-day rock fest.

He had railed against the Vietnam War and laws that made draft-eligible 18-year-olds wait until 21 to vote.

"I was a young hippie with peace symbols on my car," said Gellman, who managed to avoid being drafted, despite a draft lottery number of 28. "I had to be part of the scene."

The teens set off in Gellman's car and headed up the New York Thruway just a month after getting his driver's license.

What he found was a "great lab to observe masses of people" sharing food and hand-rolled joints and consuming "vast amounts of drugs."

'Everyone Was Mellow, High

"All the stars were aligned," said Gellman. "It could have been a disaster and wasn't because everyone was so mellow and high."

They left the site during Jimi Hendrix's signature finale of "The Star Spangled Banner," and ended up barefoot and hungry at a rest stop with photos of the event spread across newspaper front covers.

"We knew then we were part of a historical event," he said.

Today, at 57, Gellman conducts research for the National Institutes of Health and teaches one college course -- "PSY 305, Drugs and Behavior."

Barry Levine was only 26 when he took the still photography that was later used in the 1970 documentary, "Woodstock."

He has followed many of the old Woodstock bands on gigs around the country. "There are a lot who are dead, but the folks who are still alive are still kicking," he told

"People don't give a sh*t what year it was," said Levine, who just published "Woodstock Storybook" with his wife, Linanne Sackett, whom he met in Bethel.

"Woodstock still represents something," he said. "But there won't be that many of us around for the 50th."

Woodstock Rains Arrive

At 18, Kathee Miller traveled to Woodstock with a boyfriend she met on the New York City subway.

"We were foolish and music driven," said the now 56-year-old California psychotherapist. "We didn't bring supplies. We bought an inflatable tent for ten bucks and woke up in the woods one rainy morning to find ourselves floating downhill."

"We laughed back then," she told "No problems."

The Hog Farm, a spontaneous cooperative between Wavy Gravy and the local farmers, fed Miller and other hungry hippies.

Today, Miller is on the faculty of Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara and still holds on to the love beads she wore around her neck.

"Though we were much more naive, I think the passion of protest and the passion for living out loud and loving art and music and dance carried me to this age in life still dancing," she said.

Buying a Ticket in Jail

Janie Hoffman's photo appeared in Life magazine, just to the right of the centerfold. At 17, she bought a weekend pass for $45 from a friend who was busted for a joint found on the floor of his car. "Did I mention I went to jail to buy the ticket?" Hoffman told "The ticket was in his wallet, the wallet was with the desk sergeant and the money was for his bail."

Hoffman, who is 57 and living in Venice, Calif., was the only girl in her group allowed to go. "My father had to convince my mother. He fished up in that neck of the woods all the time and knew it was safe."

Posters were everywhere and tickets were promoted on radio stations. "They kept saying, if you don't have a ticket, don't come."

She and a half million others got stuck in traffic on the New York Thruway, which came to a dead stop for hours. "Everyone was out of their cars, sharing food, drink and more."

Woodstock Becomes Free Concert

By the time they arrived the chain link fence was down and promoters declared it a free concert. The stage was still being built. "The heat, the humidity, combined with well, you know, caused a lot of us to simply lay down and take a nap."

When I woke up, it was dark. Folk singer Arlo Guthrie ("Alice's Restaurant") had asked everyone to strike a match.

"The light went as far as your eyes could see," she said. "Until that point, we had absolutely no idea how many thousands and thousands of us were there."

"That moment, I turned to guy I was with and said, 'I am going to be in the music business,'" said Hoffman, who toured with bands for a decade and now runs an entertainment production company. She is currently working with Rhino records to release the boxed set of the original Woodstock.

Like others who say their lives were shaped by the anti-war stance of the generation, Hoffman said Woodstock was a clarion call.

"We were the first group that had one voice and that voice was: We don't like what's going on, but we are going to tell you through our music," she said.

"You could never pull something off like that organized chaos today."

Woodstock Wedding in the Stars

At 23, Ginny Loveland of Ann Arbor, Mich., went to Woodstock with a boyfriend who became her husband. They arranged to meet her friends at the first aid station at noon on Saturday. They had packed nothing for the trip.

"I remember walking back to sleep on the car the first night and in some places it was almost single file getting around cars and then suddenly noticed that 75 percent of the people around me were totally naked."

No Food, No Supplies

Then the rains came and she had no fresh clothes or a towel. "We were sleeping on top of the car in sleeping bags, actually on the hood, and when we woke up to being soaking wet, there were no other clothes, no food and no way to get dry."

Today, she is a retired graphic designer, working in a landscaping nursery, and remembers "just being filthy, dirty and not caring...being exhausted and charged."

When he's not dealing cards at the black jack table at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas, Jan Katz, now 56, remembers his favorite Woodstock bands -- The Who and Sly and the Family Stone.

He was only 16 when he and a carload of friends took four to five hours to drive a short 20 miles to the festival site.

Passing Joints Back and Forth on N.Y. Thruway

"The cars were backed up and people were sitting on their hoods, passing joints back and forth, and getting in and out of each other's VW vans," Katz, now 56, told

But the "happening" was not all idyllic. The lines at the portable toilets were legion. "I will never make it," he told his friends. "I will die."

The woods were also overpopulated. "People were all over the woods getting it on," he said. "I wasn't going to crouch around people making love."

He found relief eventually, but swore off food the rest of the weekend.

"Right now in hindsight, I wish I could go back to that time," Katz said. "People were so loving, giving and caring to each other. It was a blast all the way."

Larry Thaw, now of Fountainview, Ariz., turned 20 at Woodstock.

"My family had spent summers in bungalow colonies in the Catskills, so when I heard that the New York Thruway was closed, I just started hitting back roads until I got there," Thaw told "I found my older brother and the first thing he said was, 'Does mom know you're here?"

Bonnie Powell, now a 57-year-old from Freehold, N.J., had the same problem. She bought her tickets without telling her parents, heading up to Woodstock with her boyfriend -- now her husband -- in a borrowed a station wagon.

"I packed my duffle and left my Mom a note, knowing she was going to kill me when I returned," she told "We were thinking we were going to be gone just for the day."

But when she returned home, she was grounded her for two weeks. "My mother never told my Dad where I really was or I'd have gotten two more weeks," Powell said.

Woodstock Documentary Chronicled Festival

Janis Lavine, then a 17-year-old, is featured in the 1970 documentary in her pink paisley, puff-sleeved dress, leaning up against a Harley Davidson. She had lugged her friend Deb's belongings, hoping to find her at the concert.

Debby eluded her for three days, but she found a spot up front to hear her "rock hero," Jimi Hendrix.

"I looked at the muddy field behind me filled with shoes, sleeping bags, blankets in disbelief that most of the concert-goers had left," she told

"As he played, he handed a guy in the press pit his Benson & Hedges cigarette, who turned around and gave it to me. As I puffed and passed the cigarette on, I reached Nirvana!"

"I was a teen lost in the moment and had no idea that this would become history," said the now 57-year-old from Beverly, Mass.

"As I trudged up the hill I lost one of my sandals in the sea of mud. Alone and still stunned I made it back to New York City with one shoe and Deb's and my stuff."

Larry Gross, who at 57 has devoted his life's work the nonprofit Coalition for Economic Survival since attending Woodstock as a 17-year-old had his own Age of Aquarius moment.

A bit "hung over" sitting back at their car on the third day, Gross and his friends waited for the grand finale performance of Jimi Henrdix.

"All of a sudden a car comes up the main road and stops right next to us," he told "He sticks his head out the window and looks right at me and raises he fist and says, 'Pilgrims together, on forever.'

"We sat there for a second silent," said Gross. "Then we looked at each other and said who was that? Yes, it was Hendrix all in his pearly outfit, right there."

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MSC: Hendrix @ Woodstock

Hendrix created banner moment at Woodstock
His version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ moved and stunned the audience
By Michael Ventre, contributor, updated 8:08 a.m. CT, Mon., Aug 10, 2009

The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, a celebration of peace and music, was staged amid the tumult in the United States created by the Vietnam War. But when Henry Diltz gazed out at Max Yasgur’s alfalfa field on Monday morning, August 18, 1969, a different conflict came to mind.

“It was just a soggy, muddy field, with piles of wet, soggy sleeping bags,” said Diltz, who was the festival’s official still photographer. “It kind of reminded me of one of those Matthew Brady Civil War photos, a battlefield filled with dead horses and dead soldiers. The wet sleeping bags on this barren landscape looked like they had dead blobs of humanity on them.”

Diltz had this perspective from the side of the stage, as he watched Jimi Hendrix perform the final set of the weekend. Hendrix’s manager, Michael Jeffery, had negotiated to have his client close the entire festival, since he was arguably the premier act in rock music at the time, and Hendrix was scheduled to do so on Sunday night. But the elements of peace, love, drugs, music and inclement weather weren’t compatible with the concept of tight scheduling, and Hendrix didn’t come on until roughly 8 a.m. on Monday.

By the time he took the stage, the festival’s herd had thinned considerably. Estimates put attendance at the event’s peak at over a half-million, but there were only about 30,000 to 40,000 stalwarts remaining on Monday morning when Hendrix performed. Less than two months before, at the Denver Pop Festival, Hendrix played his final gig with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, which also consisted of Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass. At Woodstock, Hendrix had a new band called Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, featuring Mitchell, bass player Billy Cox (an old Army buddy), rhythm guitarist Larry Lee and percussionists Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez.

Diltz said he slept inside a station wagon parked near the stage and woke up to the sound of Hendrix and his band. “These guys were onstage with colorful scarves on their heads,” he recalled. “They certainly looked like a band of gypsies.”

Hendrix and his new group tore off many favorites, including “Hear My Train A Comin’,” “Red House” and “Foxy Lady.” After performing “Voodoo Child,” Hendrix and the band launched into a brief bit of improvisation.

“You can leave if you want to. We’re just jammin’, that’s all,” he told the crowd. After another minute or so of free-form musical expression, it happened: Hendrix launched into his own interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“It was the most riveting moment,” Diltz remembered. “Just that single guitar, so piercing and so pure. At the time, there was just a knot of people on the hill. Those huge speakers bouncing sound off the hillsides, and an eerie, silent, pre-dawn, misty kind of silence. The notes reflected back again.”

‘It was shocking to everybody’
Michael Lang was one of four promoters who staged Woodstock. He and his business partner Artie Kornfeld had an idea for “An Aquarian Exposition” unlike anything that had occurred before in popular culture. They enlisted investors John Roberts and Joel Rosenman to provide the financial backing.

But it was Lang, who had staged a large outdoor music festival in Miami the year before that also featured Hendrix, who was the spiritual leader of the Woodstock project as well as its primary hands-on producer and trouble-shooter. He remembered that he tried unsuccessfully on Sunday around noon to convince Hendrix to close the festival that night at midnight. Instead, Hendrix opted to hang out and listen to all the other acts.

“When he got on the stage, he didn’t seem all that fazed that he was looking out at such a small portion of the crowd,” said Lang, whose memoir about his experiences, “The Road to Woodstock,” is out this month. “Everybody was tuned in.

“When he played ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ it was shocking to everybody.”

The jarring, uplifting, haunting, energizing anthem was done at times in straight single notes, but the entire song is spiced with trademark Hendrix innovations, especially the use of amplifier feedback, sometimes to convey the sounds of war — bombs falling, jets overhead, perhaps even the cries of human anguish. At one point, Hendrix interrupts the anthem to play “Taps,” then resumes.

‘I remember people literally tearing their hair out’
When he began shooting what would eventually become “Woodstock,” the Academy Award-winning documentary of the festival, director and cameraman Michael Wadleigh said he started out with 17 or 18 cameras.

“But surges in electricity by the big storm took out a lot of our cameras,” he remembered, “and there were other malfunctions. By the time Hendrix began to perform, we were down to two cameras.”

And Wadleigh was operating one of them. “I certainly remember feeling tremendous pressure and responsibility when he started ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” he explained. “If you look at the footage closely, he looked right over at me as if to say, ‘Listen to this. You’re gonna love it.’ It was an amazing version.”

Wadleigh was just relieved that Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock was preserved. He recalled that his camera motor was becoming red hot and he was worried it could quit at any time. He also said that because Hendrix’s Marshall amps were so loud, he couldn’t hear if the camera motor was working or not while he was filming.

“If it weren’t as powerfully photographed, it may not be as famous as it is today,” he said. “I remember people literally tearing their hair out. I looked out with one eye and I saw people grabbing their heads, so ecstatic, so stunned and moved, a lot of people holding their breath, including me.

“No one had ever heard that. It caught all of us by surprise.”

Some loved it, some didn’t
The reaction to the anthem was strong but mixed. Some thought it was brilliant, others considered it disrespectful. These days, an unorthodox interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is usually met with a shrug, since Americans have seen all kinds. But when Hendrix performed at Woodstock in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, the idea of deviating from the traditional when delivering the national anthem was sure to raise eyebrows.

Before Hendrix, perhaps the most controversial rendition occurred before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, when Jose Feliciano, then 23, performed a rousing, soulful version of it on acoustic guitar. The stadium’s switchboard received over 2,000 calls, and NBC also received hundreds of angry calls. Feliciano said later it brought his career to a temporary halt, that for a while radio stations refused to play his records.

The reaction to Hendrix’s version was more difficult to gauge, since the festival was not televised and the full impact of it would not be experienced by non-attendees until the film was released seven months later, and until the soundtrack album was released two months after that.

But it made an impact, to those who were there and to millions who weren’t.

While Hendrix performed at Woodstock, rock critic Greil Marcus was in a car headed home with Sha Na Na, a '50s doo-wop group that played right before Hendrix. He missed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but recalled the lingering effect it had.

“It is significant in American discourse, whether cultural or political,” Marcus said. “I’ve listened to the performance many times. It’s so complex, with so many different layers of disgust and celebration and alienation and engagement. There’s really no way to just characterize it as a protest against the war. It’s certainly that. But he’s also saying, ‘I’m a citizen of this country, too.’”

Marcus added that at the time the festival as a whole was getting such an enormous amount of media attention that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was overlooked and not appreciated and commented on until the movie came out. And he pointed to a film produced and released many years later — “Masked and Anonymous,” co-written by Bob Dylan, which came out in 2003, largely to negative reviews — as an indicator of the impact of Hendrix’s anthem.

He cited a particular scene in which Jeff Bridges, who plays a bombastic rock critic, pontificates as he tries to interview Dylan’s character.

“He goes into this speed rap about what Jimi Hendrix’s ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ is all about,” Marcus explained, “that it was not a protest, it was not negative, but rather a cry of despair and love, and that what it said was, ‘I’m a native son. This belongs to me, the anthem and the country.’

“But you have to understand that those words coming out of the rock critic, Dylan wrote them. That was how Dylan felt about Hendrix’s performance.”

‘I’m American, so I played it’
Some of the acts that played Woodstock went on Dick Cavett’s television show afterward. One of them was Hendrix, who was a guest shortly after the festival and then again much later. When Cavett, who has collected his interviews on his “Rock Icons” DVD, asked him about the controversy surrounding his anthem, Hendrix replied:

“I don’t know, man. All I did was play it. I’m American, so I played it. I used to sing it in school. They made me sing it in school, so it was a flashback.” Cavett interrupted the interview to point out to the audience, “This man was in the 101st Airborne, so when you send your nasty letters in …” Cavett then explained to Hendrix that whenever someone plays an “unorthodox” version of the anthem, “You immediately get a guaranteed percentage of hate mail.”

Hendrix then respectfully disagreed with Cavett’s description. “I didn’t think it was unorthodox,” he said. “I thought it was beautiful.”

Asked recently to look back at that time and that interview, Cavett’s memory was hazy. But after looking at the clip again, Cavett said: “I suppose I could have added that since we somehow acquired the most dismal, virtually unsingable dirge of a national anthem of any known nation, we should decorate Hendrix for turning it into music.”

Lang, who today is involved in concert promotion and artist management, remembers Hendrix’s anthem in the context of the times. “Because he interpreted ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ it gave it a meaning that was closer to where we were all coming from,” Lang said. “There wasn’t anti-American sentiment. It was anti-war sentiment. He brought it home to us in a way nobody ever had.”

Diltz, the still photographer, remembers Hendrix playing in front of a relatively small throng gathered on a huge muddy hillside bereft of a single strand of alfalfa. He also recalls the smell of garbage that had sat there for three or four days. “It was an eerie, eerie moment,” he said.

But most of all, he remembers standing to the right of Jimi Hendrix, next to the wall of amps, “as close as you can get to Jimi without being right there on stage with him.”

“The moment when he played ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” Diltz said, “kinda stopped everything.”

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ATH: USA v Mexico

Scouting Report: Mexico By Clemente Lisi

The simmering rivalry between the United States and Mexico will reach a boil Wednesday when the two sides meet at the legendary Estadio Azteca.

The stadium will undoubtedly be a pressure-cooker for the Americans. With over 104,000 fans packed to the brim inside the steamy cauldron, the US players will have to perform under a stinging afternoon sun and the smog-filled skies of Mexico City at an altitude of over 7,400 feet. Business as usual when Mexico hosts a World Cup Qualifier. The Americans have spent the days leading up the game training in Miami, although even the steamy Florida summer pales in comparison to the conditions they will find once they land in Mexico.

In Monday's media call, US coach Bob Bradley stressed the short acclimation window, backing the thinking that it's better to go in late. That means the United States traveling on Tuesday to play on Wednesday afternoon.

The strategy is a risky one. If the Americans put together a weak performance, the lack of training leading up to the contest could be blamed. For instance, 14 players arrived in Miami over the weekend, with six more – including potential starters Brian Ching, Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber and Jozy Altidore – arriving just 48 hours before the match.

Bradley said the team would be prepared.

“As far as the number of days of training, we’ve learned throughout the qualifying process what it means to come in at times and only have a couple of days, that’s the way every single-fixture date works,” he said.

The Mexicans, meanwhile, have been together for nearly a week, with those playing overseas arriving Sunday. Mexico coach Javier Aguirre likes to use a 4-3-3 formation and has a mix of young players and veterans at his disposal. He rewarded 12 players – many of whom play domestically and are used to the conditions -- who were on the team that defeated the US 5-0 three weeks to win the Gold Cup with a spot on the roster this week.

In addition to those 12 players, Aguirre also named veterans Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Rafael Marquez. Blanco, 36, said last year that he had retired from international play, but returned when Aguirre replaced Sven-Goran Eriksson earlier this year. Marquez, who was shown a red card when the US defeated Mexico in qualifying this past February, has been sidelined since he suffered a knee injury in April.

The Americans face several obstacles. Aside from the fans, heat, smog and altitude, Bradley’s players will face a Mexican team with a renewed sense of confidence. Add to that history (the Americans have never won in 23 previous attempts in Mexico, posting a 0-22-1 all-time record there) and all the ingredients are there for a US loss.

The Americans could learn a lot from that one-sided spectacle last month at Giants Stadium. After a scoreless first half, the US back line came apart at the seams, giving the Americans its worst loss since a 5-0 defeat to England in 1985.

“If they think the next game is going to be like this, they have another coming,” US forward Brian Ching said following that game.

The rivalry was further inflamed when Aguirre blasted Bradley and his players, saying the Americans fielded players who only excelled at set plays and used its defense to try and squash opponents into a lull.

“They play eight in the back and hope that the other team makes a mistake,” he said during a news conference. In the run up to Wednesday afternoon, Mexico's Andres Guardado has already predicted 3-0 win for the home side.

All of that said, the Gold Cup version of team USA has very little to do with the World Cup Qualifier version. The US defense is less likely to fall apart given the return of big man Oguchi Onyewu, playing in his first National Team game since signing last month with Italian powerhouse AC Milan, and the gritty Jay DeMerit. The centerback combo turned out to be a success at the Confederations Cup. It could work again in Mexico.

Bradley has options, including midfielder Jose Francisco Torres and his experience playing his club ball in the Mexican League. Torres was on the Confederations Cup roster, but saw no playing time. There's also the return of first choice players all over the field, most of whom played a part in that Confederations Cup run.

Hopefully, Bradley and his players can use the experience of a busy summer to beat Mexico. The Americans have shown that anything is possible, and that could include their first win at Azteca.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

OBT: John Hughes

‘Breakfast Club’ director John Hughes dies
Teen hits also included ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’
The Associated Press, updated 6:49 p.m. CT, Thurs., Aug 6, 2009

NEW YORK - Writer-director John Hughes, Hollywood’s youth impresario of the 1980s and ’90s who captured the teen and preteen market with such favorites as “Home Alone,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” died Thursday, a spokeswoman said. He was 59.

Hughes died of a heart attack during a morning walk in Manhattan, Michelle Bega said. He was in New York to visit family.

Jake Bloom, Hughes’ longtime attorney, said he was “deeply saddened and in shock” to learn of the director’s death.

A native of Lansing, Mich., who later moved to suburban Chicago and set much of his work there, Hughes rose from ad writer to comedy writer to silver screen champ with his affectionate and idealized portraits of teens, whether the romantic and sexual insecurity of “Sixteen Candles,” or the J.D. Salinger-esque rebellion against conformity in “The Breakfast Club.”

Hughes’ ensemble comedies helped make stars out of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy and many other young performers. He also scripted the phenomenally popular “Home Alone,” which made little-known Macaulay Culkin a sensation as the 8-year-old accidentally abandoned by his vacationing family, and wrote or directed such hits as “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” and “Uncle Buck.”

“I was a fan of both his work and a fan of him as a person,” Culkin said. “The world has lost not only a quintessential filmmaker whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man.”

Devin Ratray, best known for playing Culkin’s older brother Buzz McCallister in the “Home Alone” films, said he remained close to Hughes over the years.

“He changed my life forever,” Ratray said. “Nineteen years later, people from all over the world contact me telling me how much ‘Home Alone’ meant to them, their families, and their children.”

Steve Martin played lead character Neal Page in the 1987 hit “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.”

“John Hughes was a great director, but his gift was in screenwriting,” Martin said. “He created deep and complex characters, rich in humanity and humor.”

Other actors who got early breaks from Hughes included John Cusack (“Sixteen Candles”), Judd Nelson (“The Breakfast Club”), Steve Carell (“Curly Sue”) and Lili Taylor (“She’s Having a Baby”).

Actor Matthew Broderick worked with Hughes in 1986 when he played the title character in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

“I am truly shocked and saddened by the news about my old friend John Hughes. He was a wonderful, very talented guy and my heart goes out to his family,” Broderick said.

Ben Stein, who played the monotone economics teacher calling the roll and repeatedly saying “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”, said Hughes was a towering talent.

“He made a better connection with young people than anyone in Hollywood had ever made before or since,” Stein said on Fox Business Network. “It’s incredibly sad. He was a wonderful man, a genius, a poet. I don’t think anyone has come close to him as being the poet of the youth of America in the postwar period. He was to them what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethan Age.

“You had a regular guy — just an ordinary guy. If you met him, you would never guess he was a big Hollywood power.”

As Hughes advanced into middle age, his commercial touch faded and, in Salinger style, he increasingly withdrew from public life. His last directing credit was in 1991, for “Curly Sue,” and he wrote just a handful of scripts over the past decade. He was rarely interviewed or photographed.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

COM: Probably speaks for itself . . .

unless it was tongue in cheek to begin with . . .

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

OBT: Annie Wall

Annie Dorothy Wall

BROWNING — Annie Dorothy (Mad Plume) Wall, 95, of Browning, died of natural causes Sunday at a Kalispell hospital.

A wake is in progress at the Glacier Homes Community Center. Her memorial service is 7 p.m. Thursday at the Four Winds Assembly of God Church in Browning. Her funeral is 11 a.m. Friday at the church, with burial in Willow Creek Cemetery. Spotted Eagle Tribal Wake Center is in charge of arrangements.

Annie was born on Badger Creek on March 10, 1914. She was named Yellow Fox Woman by her grandfather Middle Rider. Her parents were Elmer and Minnie Mad Plume. After Annie's mother died from complications of childbirth, Annie was raised in Little Badger by her maternal grandparents, Mary Spotted Bear and Tim No Runner, and her great-grandmother, Big Mountain Lion Woman.

Annie was one of the last fluent speakers of the Blackfeet language. She helped perpetuate the language by being interviewed by the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., as they developed a lexicon of Blackfeet terms for material culture. She also recorded stories of family and community life.

Annie grew up in the area that is now called the Badger-Two Medicine. She was a treasure trove of local history. She knew the names of each family who lived in that region and their society affiliations. The Blackfeet believe that names give an individual supernatural power. Annie gave names to her numerous grandchildren. Annie transferred her own name, Yellow Fox Woman, to her granddaughter Rosalyn LaPier in the early 1970s.

Annie learned many of the old ways from her two grandmothers, including the knowledge of Native plants, and was well known for her medicinal plant knowledge. She was featured in a magazine article, "Blackfeet Botanist: Annie Mad Plume Wall" in the "Montana Naturalist" magazine. Annie continued, until the last few years of her life, to go out and gather roots and berries.

Annie married Francis (Aimsback) Wall in 1936. They remained married until his death in 1973. Annie and Francis attended and participated in many Society gatherings and the annual Medicine Lodges in the Heart Butte community. Both Annie and Francis were educated at the Holy Family Mission. They eventually moved into Browning and bought a house on Willow Creek. After they moved into town, their house served as a social gathering place for friends and relatives from the Little Badger and Blacktail communities. They had 12 children and raised eight into adulthood.

Annie is survived by five generations, including her sons Francis (Shirley) Wall of Helena and Thomas Wall of Browning; and her daughters Irene Old Chief, Angeline Wall and Bernadette Wall, all of Browning, and Roselyn Azure of Cut Bank; 30 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren and 32 great-great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Francis; a daughter, Theresa Still Smoking; an infant daughter, Elizabeth; a son, Gilbert Wall; and three newborn sons.

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