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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13th - Happy Birthday Grandma

On October 13, 1902, my grandmother was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was the child of what they used to call, a girl in trouble - meaning Grandma was born out of wedlock, and the father had decided to disappear after having relations with the young teenage girl. And so, because times were much different a century ago, this poor frightened kid had her child and my Grandmother was immediately put up for adoption. Though she never met her mom, I was told she believed she was of Scandinavian decent, probably Finnish. Today I feel blessed to have enjoyed so many wonderful times with my grandmother - she was an amazing woman who went on to do great things. Her biggest gift to the world was not the Ape House at the Milwaukee County Zoo, or the countless donations to charity. In truth, her biggest gift was that she poured out the love in her heart on everyone she met in a way that could only be described as reckless abandon. It didn't matter if you were the fancy pants CEO or the humble maid, or the guy on the Harley Davidson riding in big parade every summer in Milwaukee - she loved them all. And with all of her heart too.

So in honor of this great lady, Frank Random and I created a special video for her on her 100th birthday, which was back in 2002. Having seen it a million times before (video editing, writing the narration, re-purposing the music etc does take a lot of time and effort you know), I decided to just look out at the crowd as they took it in for the first time. The room was filled with over 100 people easy, and I have never seen so many people well up with tears. You see, when you love people like Grandma did over the course of her 100 years of living well, people have no choice to love you in return. God bless you Grandma. I love you too.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Sharon Tate as Janet Trego

Back when I was a kid growing up in Milwaukee, I loved to watch the Beverly Hillbillies. As a Wisconsin yokel, one could easily relate to the Tennessee hillbillies who were all too often taken as rubes by the hoitey toity of Beverly Hills, California. In truth, all too often, Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) was as wise as old King Solomon. The show was a huge hit, in spite of the supercilious critics who loved to hate the show.

Well, as a young boy (age 6-8 years old) - I loved the episodes with Miss Jane's assistant Janet Trego, played by Sharon Tate. She was really pretty and had a wonderful innocence about her that I found especially appealing. I was way too young to understand all the sexual innuendo jokes and I was a big fan of her white rain helmet hair, a style worn by many of the young women and mothers of the day. And though I did not really know what it meant, I always thought she was really cool. I had no idea who Roman Polanski was or anything, I was just a kid.

And I will never forget the news one day (August 9, 1969) - when I learned that a lady named Sharon Tate, the actress who played Janet Trego on the show, was murdered. And worse - she was very pregnant when it happened, so her soon to be born baby was also killed in the murder. It is hard to describe how awful such things are in the mind of a young boy, but I remember it to this day. And I was a huge fan of The Beatles too, but for a long time, The White album, filled with songs like Helter Skelter and Little Piggies gave me the creeps for several years. Till I was a teenager - and had grown as creepy as the society I lived in. (for a sample of the times, check out Angels as Hard as They Come, Maybe I'll Come home in the Spring, or Born to Win) - Lots of people thought the "new age" of the 1960s with free love (see Harrad Experiment) and all the new way of thinking was really cool, but as a young kid, I am awful glad my parents were squares.

Anyway - Susan Atkins, the woman who killed Sharon Tate died today of cancer. She was 61. That is all the ink she is going to get from me today. Personally, I would rather remember Sharon Tate, and how I thought she was really pretty when I just a seven year old kid. Nothing nasty like so much of today's world. I just thought she was really pretty, and as one often does at that age, I imagined she was also quite a nice person. Of course I never knew her, but I am happy to remember her today.

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