Don Pardo

Back in the early 1980’s, I was asked by a radio station in town to come down and take some pictures at a morning show promotion in a bar at 8AM. The guests of honor were Art Fleming (Host of Jeopardy) and Don Pardo (announcer of Saturday Night Live, Jeopardy, Price is Right and many more). Of course, the radio station told me that they didn’t have any budget, but would pay me in commercials.

I agreed, and they wrote out some commercials that the two guys read on the air. Then a woman that worked at the station cut them into a 30 second answering machine spot and gave me a tape.

I put it on my answering machine and it remained there for about 20 years! I am still amazed at the number of people who were impressed by two  television people doing an answering machine greeting for me.

Dom Pardo died last week at the age of 96.

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Jackie Robinson West

There is only one major league team in Chicago this summer. It is not the Cubs- It is not the Sox. The Cubs are, as usual, mired near the bottom of the league, fighting with the owners of buildings across the street about letting them watch a really bad baseball team from their rooftops.

The White Sox have three good players, and are also near the bottom of the league. They have a slugger, (Adam Dunn) who strikes out about 3 times a game, Only their rookie Cuban sensation can hit the ball, and they continue to lose at a momentous pace.

Then there is the only major league team playing right now- The Jackie Robinson West little league team, who are playing today to win the WORLD series! One more game against South Korea, and they are the world champs. These kids are 11 to 13 years old. When one of them (the coach’s son), went to high five the other players on the team after they beat Las Vegas yesterday, he couldn’t reach their hands, even jumping as high as he could. He made a major error in the first inning yesterday, but kept his head up and played great the rest of the game. The superb shortstop, who was forced to pitch in the last inning to preserve the win, got in trouble in the sixth, then started a beautiful double play to end the game and send them to the final game.

These guys haven’t reached puberty yet, but most of them say that the best part about playing for the championship is meeting girls. At a time when kids are being shot on the street every day, these kids bring some pride and positive excitement to Chicago.

The parade will be Wednesday. I hope one million people come out to cheer them down the parade route.

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Selfies

This weeks Sports Illustrated has a remarkable article by Steve Rushin, documenting the 60th Anniversary of the magazine. He follows the career of Vin Scully, the amazing announcer for the Dodgers,  a team owner, an agent, and the guy who started ESPN. He follows them through the last 60 years, equating their careers with the sports world..

Toward the end of the article, he explores the phenomenon of the “selfie.”He quotes Hugh Lurie, who says that there have been more photographs taken in the last year than in the entire history of photography!! He goes on to say:

Because people are now photographing- I shudder to think what they are photographing- everything and nothing. No interaction is deemed to have actually happened unless someone has a photograph to prove it. I think this is odd, and I think that it may be starting to alter the way we think about each other and the way we think about general day-to-day social interaction.

Rushin goes on to cite David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, who took a selfie of himself with President Obama to fulfill a contract with Samsung to promote their phones.

So last week I was photographing Mexican Folk Pop singer Lila Downs. There were three photographers in the pit, myself and my friend Brigette, and  a young kid who obviously didn’t belong there. During the first three songs, he continually crashed into me, and several time hit me on the head with his camera- not on purpose- he was so excited to be there that he could not concentrate on what was going on around him. I never once saw him actually take a picture! So I sat down to wait until he left after the third song. At the end of the song he came over and sat down next to me, held out his camera, and asked me to take a picture of him with Lila in the background. I refused, telling him that that was not a very professional thing to do. He responded that he was just there for fun. I walked away, and he soon left. Guess they will let anyone in the photo pit these days.

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Peter Frampton

Apparently Peter Frampton is one of the few who doesn’t allow people to  use cell phones to take photos during his shows. Maybe this should be a primer for other performers on how to deal with this issue (from the Chicagoist):

Fans of Peter Frampton were aware before Sunday’s show in Carmel, Indiana of a strict rule banning flash photography or video during the entire concert. Of course, there is always “that asshole,” and two people right in the front of the stage threw caution to the wind and snapped away. Frampton was not ok with them “Breaking All the Rules,” and when he wasn’t able to alert security to the issue, decided to fix the situation himself. Melissa Schickel of Onstage Magazine was at the show and reported what happened next:

“At his breaking point, and the guy in the front row unrelenting – apparently with no self control considering he’s already flipped Peter off and turned around and called the rest of the audience a bunch of deadbeats – Peter ends the song, walks over and with a huge smile on his face bends down and says, ‘Hey can I see that? Can I see the photos you’ve been taking?’ The guy hands him his phone and Peter stands up, spins, and flings for the rafters! Yes! The phone went flying to the back of the stage and we all erupted in cheers! With years of experience playing guitar, we just knew he had a great arm!”

One day I would love to do a survey asking people if they ever looked at their overexposed cell phone photos once the concert is over. Now with more people bring iPads to concerts, the view is even worse from behind these people. Even in the photo pit, it is depressing to see a pink iPhone in the corner of my shot when there is no place I can go to get the perfect angle.

That brings me to:

http://assholesinthephotopit.tumblr.com/

I was talking to a publicist the other day who is finally fed up with all the amateur photographers in the photo pit. She is going to kick them out as of now!!

Maybe she and Peter Frampton should get together and make a better world for all of us!!

 

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Phones

I was driving home from a meeting this past week, and in a one block space, I saw two people step right into traffic while they were texting. One (a guy) had his baby in one of those pouches on his chest, and looked pissed off when a car had to screech to a halt to keep from hitting him (and his young child). A half a block later, a woman pushing a baby carriage walked right into traffic, pushing her child, and also looked pissed off when a car almost slammed into her.

What is wrong with this world? Were we able to survive when there weren’t cell phones? Didn’t we just wait till we got home to call people? Walking around downtown yesterday, at least one out of three people were either talking or texting as they were walking along the sidewalk, There must be some pretty important business going on!!

On the way home, I stopped at my neighborhood grocery store. I picked up a few items, and picked a small checkout line. One woman in front of me. BUT………. She was talking on her phone to her friend, and the checker, the bagger and I had to wait while she explained to her friend why she didn’t want to go out with the guy who her friend was trying to fix her up with. She finally paid for her groceries and walked away (still talking). I paid for my stuff and went out to my car. She was loading her stuff in to her car across from mine (still talking). I got in my car and. Looking both ways, backed out of my space right as she (without looking and still talking) pulled out and almost slammed into me. She glared at me and took off (still talking).

Maybe I should just stay in my house and watch TV from now on. It might be safer!!

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Trigger Hippy

Last week I got an email from my friend Steve Gorman of the Black Crowes. It said simply- I am in town with my new band tonight at SPACE. Come down and hang.  So of course I grabbed my bag and headed up to the club.

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I had forgotten him telling me about this band a few years ago, so I was surprised to see a poster on the door for their band. They are called Trigger Hippy. I went backstage and saw Steve and Jackie Green from the Crowes, and two guys I didn’t know, and….a woman who looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place her. We were all sitting around talking when the bass player grabbed a stand up bass that was leaning in the corner, and started playing the bass line for David Bowie’s “Lets Dance.” Someone picked up a guitar and started playing the melody and everyone gathered around to sing. Then I figured out who the woman was. It was Joan Osbourne- one of the most unmistakable voices in music. They played Lets Dance for about 10 minutes and then hit the stage where they delighted the sold out crowd with some amazing musicianship and some great songs.

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It’s great to see talented people having fun making music!! (And the CD is fantastic!!)

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Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter passed away this week. In a hotel in Europe. I photographed Johnny  (by accident) in June of 1979. The concert at the Chicago Stadium was Eric Clapton, with Muddy Waters as the opener. Halfway through Muddy’s set (all the other photographers had left- guess they didn’t want to photograph the old black guy), Eric Clapton walked onstage from the left and Johnny Winter walked on from the right. Johnny was in town producing one of Muddy’s Blue Sky albums. They played one song together. As far as I know, I was the only photographer that stayed. This photograph has been in about 8 album packages since then.

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In February of 1984, my friend Bruce Iglauer from Alligator Records brought Johnny to my house for an album cover shoot. I pulled out a purple background and had Johnny sit on a stool with a glass of Jack Daniels and an ashtray nearby, and had him play for about 2 hours. At one point, he paused and looked up at me, and BAM, I had my shot.

Johnny

 

Several years later, on another Alligator cover shoot, we tried to set up a shot with a drink and a deck of cards in a bar, but settled for another studio shot, with Johnny playing a steel guitar.

I photographed him many times in concert, the last time being in 2008 at the Chicago Blues Fest. His manager asked me if I wanted to go out to the bus and say hi, and we headed backstage. We walked on the bus, and Johnny was sitting, head down at a small table at the front of the bus. I sat down across from him and said hi. He didn’t look up. But mumbled hi back. His manager told me he would be back in a few minutes. I tried to make some kind of conversation, but only received one word answers. When the manager came back, I left to go to the stage to photograph the show. I was bummed out, and worried that the show would not be as good as I hoped. But…….Johnny came out, sat on a chair, and as frail as he was, ripped off a great hour long set, to tremendous applause. That is the way I want to remember him.

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Disco Demolition

On July 12, 1979 an amazing event occurred. I was the “Official” photographer for a radio station in Chicago called WLUP, aka “The Loop.” It was the hottest rock and roll station in the city, anchored by my friend Steve Dahl, the morning personality, who had recently quit his job at WLS-FM when the station went to a disco format.

On the air, when he got his new job, he started ridiculing the disco lifestyle on the air, comparing the clothing and cars and dance styles with the rock and roll lifestyle that his new station was championing. He started “blowing up” disco records on the air, using sound effects. He also started making personal appearances, dressed in an army uniform, complete with helmet (based on the fact that his listeners was called the Insane Coho Lips, the Anti-Disco Army. Totally nonsensical, but funny none the less. During these appearances, he would break disco records over his head, to loud cheers.

Enter Mike Veeck, son of the legendary owner of the White Sox Bill Veeck. He was the promotions manager for his father’s team, which was not doing too well that year. So a plan was hatched to have a Disco Demolition Night between games at a nighttime double header between the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox were averaging about 15 to 20 thousand fans per game, and hoped to attract another 5 or 10 thousand fans that night. The idea was that if you arrived at the game with a disco record you gained admittance for 98 cents (The station was FM98). Steve would blow up the records between games in center field.

Disco Demolition_09 Disco Demolition_03 Disco Demolition_06 Disco Demolition_10Steve and I arrived at the ballpark at about 6PM. There was nobody there!! Within the next hour about 70,000 people showed up at the stadium that held about 50,000!! The audience got to their seats and immediately order many beers!! As they drank them, they figured out that 45RPM records made great Frisbees. During the first game, outfielders were seen wearing batting helmets while they fielded their positions, fearing for their lives. When the first game ended we were led out into center field, where a big metal box filled with records was being dragged out. Steve grabbed the microphone and gave his talk about rock and roll, made fun of disco for a few minutes, and a special effects guy set off a huge explosion in the box. A Jeep then pulled out on the field and Steve was going to take a victory lap around the field. I, being the moron that I am, decided to ride on the hood of the Jeep. As the driver started his leisurely drive around the field, I balanced myself on my knees in the middle of the hood and started to take a picture. At that moment we were showered with FULL 64oz beers from the stands. This caused the driver to hit the gas to get out of there. We

went bumping across the field with me hanging on to my camera with one hand and a windshield wiper with the other.

We got out of there alive, and Steve’s reputation became worldwide. This week was an anniversary, and it was nice to see coverage of an event that was really exciting at the time.

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The new journalism, Part ?????

Just got a link this week from my friend Aaron Cohen, who reviewed the Chicago Gospel Festival  for the Chicago Tribune. The link was from the New York Observer and details a religious writer who seemed to have stolen his review word for word. The article was for The Belle Report, a  gospel blog. There is a quote form my friend Bob Marovich, who writes the Black Gospel Blog. One thing that Bob failed to mention was that it is apparent in the screen capture that she has stolen (from him) a photo that I provided to him a few years ago documenting a gospel service at the Fellowship Baptist  Church on the south side of Chicago.

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So…….she used my photo without my permission and it wasn’t even from the Gospel Fest!

Remember the 10 commandments include:

Thou shall Not Steal.

Maybe she forgot about that one.

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Complaints!

Anyone in my business that complains about the way we are treated should have been with me on my last Soul Food book trip.

I will try to never complain again!!!

We met a woman who participated in the lunch counter sit ins in Nashville. She was taught how to sit still and not react when someone spit in her face, blew smoke in her face, or poured water or tea over her head. Being treated like crap by a 20 year old rock star is nothing compared to that!!!!

We also went to Central high school in Little Rock, AR. And heard about the 9 students who were denied (By the National Guard) entry into the school, by direction of the Governor, in direct disrespect of Brown vs. Board of Education,  but would not take no for an answer.  The President of the United States had to federalize the Arkansas National Guard, to be able to order them to disregard the Governor and protect the 9 students when they went to school!

As the 14th amendment reads:

No state shall deny to any person within it’s jurisdiction  the equal protection of the law.

These trips are really making me think about what really matters in this world, and it is definitely not whether I get to shoot more than three songs!!!

 

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