a simpler time

The options these days for entertainment are overwhelming. If you have cable or satellite, in addition to the basic channels you have the option of HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, The Movie Channel, Starz, and Epix. If you like to stream you have Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and a whole range of other services. These are services that you can get through your Smart TV, your Blu-ray player, your Roku device, or your tablet, smart phone, or computer.

It was not always so.

College AvenueMy senior year in college, 1974-75, I rented a room off campus in a beautiful old house on College Avenue in Claremont. Somehow I managed to get a portable black and white TV. I think perhaps my parents bought it for me. Claremont sits at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, so I had access to all of the L.A. television stations via my rabbit-ear antenna and my loop antenna for UHF.

I could flip the dial for the VHF stations or set the VHF tuner to “U” and scan the UHF stations on the separate UHF dial. I think I was able to get three, maybe four, PBS stations. How incredibly cool was that?

I had no complaints. I didn’t think I was missing anything. (Except for a sex life, but that’s a different story.) It was a simpler time.


Tower Records

There is a new documentary out about Tower Records called All Things Must Pass. It has received some very good reviews. Since it has been very much in limited release I am hoping that it will be available on Netflix soon.

Seeing the review in the Los Angeles Times reminded Terry and me of our experience with Tower. During my Claremont days in the 1970s I believe the only Tower store in the vicinity was in Westwood. I think I visited it a time or two.

TowerDuring my years of exile in Texas and Oklahoma I only visited a Tower Records once, in 1982 or thereabouts, when I was visiting my friend Alison in Palo Alto and we went up to San Francisco. I bought what was then the new Joan Baez album, Honest Lullaby. Needless to say it was on vinyl.

After I moved to the Bay Area in 1985, Tower was very accessible. There was one store in San Jose, on the border with the city of Campbell, near the Pruneyard shopping center. There was another in Los Altos, just across the Mountain View border.

Everyone, of course, remembers their huge selection. Terry and I both remember the separate, soundproof classical area. In the days of vinyl they had a great selection not only of the major labels, Deutsche Grammophon, RCA Red Seal, Columbia Masterworks, and so forth, but also of the budget lines: Nonesuch, Vox, and Turnabout.

Tower Records has been gone since 2006, but I still miss them and I still remember them fondly.


homemade ice cream

It is almost (though not entirely) the case that if I only had Food Network and the Cooking Channel on my television I would be perfectly happy. Yet in spite of all the cooking shows I record and watch on my DVR, I rarely have the occasion to be hit by a wave of nostalgia. But that is exactly what happened as I watched a recent episode of Farmhouse Rules.

Host Nancy Fuller had a segment on homemade ice cream. The description mirrored exactly what I recall from those rare but memorable times we had homemade ice cream at a family gathering while I was growing up.

An adult makes the custard and puts it into the stainless steel container. Check.
They then put the container into the wooden barrel. Check.
In the space between the barrel and the stainless steel container they add ice and rock salt. Check.
They fasten the lid and handle into place. Check.
The kids take turn cranking until cranking becomes difficult and an adult declares the ice cream ready. Check.
The resulting ice cream is amazingly delicious. Check and double check.

I remember one relative having an electric ice cream maker. That was not nearly as much fun even if the ice cream tasted just as good.

Those are nostalgia thoughts. That and $3.25 will get you a personal grande decaf cappuccino, dry. That and a big smile.


50 years ago today: the Sandy Koufax perfect game

It’s hard to believe that it was 50 years ago today that Sandy Koufax pitched his perfect game.

I remember that evening. The entire family was at home in our living room. The television was off and the radio was on. I remember the tension build as Vin Scully’s play-by-play made clear that something special was happening. I remember Vin noting the time on the scoreboard clock.

In his Press-Enterprise column yesterday Jim Alexander quotes Scully:

quoteBud Furillo (of the L.A. Herald Examiner), I think it was, wrote a column about how dramatic and exciting (including) the time was, and everybody was giving me a lot of credit for being a theatrical genius, or whatever.

I sure thought so. “One and two the count to Chris Krug. It is 9:41 p.m. on September the ninth …”

It turns out that dramatic effect was not the intent. Alexander writes: “[Scully] tried to make the ninth inning call of any no-hitter, whether by a Dodger or an opposing pitcher, a little extra special — adding the date, for example, so that pitcher could have the recording as a keepsake. Since Koufax had already thrown three no-hitters, he came up with the idea of adding the time of day.”

It doesn’t matter. The drama was there and palpable in our living room on that hot September evening.

quoteOn the scoreboard in right field It is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California. And a crowd of 29,139 just sitting in to see the only pitcher in baseball history to hurl four no-hit, no run games. He has done it four straight years. And now he’s capped it. On his fourth no-hitter, he made it a perfect game.

It’s one of those childhood moments I’ll never forget. I got chills reading Alexander’s column last night, and I am getting chills as I write this.

Now here it is fifty years later. Vin Scully is still doing Dodger games and I am back in Hemet after 41 years away. You never know what twists and turns life will take.