Finalists from the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest take the stage in Memphis, Tenn.
By Tony Sclafani, NBC News contributor
"Elvis is everywhere," went the lyrics of an old song.
Those words might seem literal come Friday when rock 'n' roll icon Elvis Presley’s hometown of Memphis, Tenn., holds its Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. The contest, now in its fifth year, brings together more Elvis impersonators than you’d find during a long weekend in Las Vegas. And they should be strutting their stuff to a bigger audience than ever since this year marks the 35th anniversary of the death of the King.
How many are there? Well, 18 in all. And that’s just the semifinalists. In the preliminary rounds, dozens upon dozens rocked places as far away as Ontario, Canada, Queensland, Australia, and Kobe, Japan. Looks like there are more than a few people the world over who like to grease their hair back, hop into white jumpsuits, and revive such songs as "Jailhouse Rock," "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "Burning Love."
To get an idea just how many Elvis impersonators are around today, check out the massive collection of links on the Gigmasters Web page. And those are just links to would-be Elvises in the United States.
Enjoy a quick recap of The 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest that took place in Memphis, Tenn., during Elvis Week. For more information on The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest visit www.elvis.com/events/ultimate_eta_contest.
The massive collection of fake Elvises might all look and dress alike. Heck, they even might sing the same songs. But the 18 semifinalists are actually a pretty diverse bunch. Elias Jamhour, for instance, is from Sydney, Australia, and got into the semis by winning the Wintersun Festival’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest. He’s been doing his Elvis impression for seven years. Jesse Aron, meanwhile, is from Janesville, Wis., where he won the Rockin’ E Jamboree. He’s been keeping the King’s legend alive since 1998.
The semifinals are part of a much bigger celebration called Elvis Week, which began last Friday, Aug. 10 and runs through Saturday, Aug. 18. It’s a week filled with events fit for a, er, king -- specifically, the King, who made rock ’n’ roll a household word through hits such as "Heartbreak Hotel," not to mention umpteen movies. The events are designed for lovers of the big E and include a Graceland trivia tour, a luau dance party, book signings, panel discussions with record industry types, and lots of live music.
The concert most likely to cause a stir is Thursday’s Elvis 35th Anniversary Concert, taking place at the FedEx Forum. Besides starring “the real Elvis Presley” via video, it will feature his ex-wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie. Elvis aficionados’ legs will be shaking when they hear who else will be playing. Musicians include DJ Fontana, who drummed on Elvis’ earliest hits, and the great James Burton, the guitar legend who influenced six-string strummers ranging from Jimmy Page to John Fogerty.
And if you happen to miss the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest semifinals, you can always catch the faux Elvises at a meet 'n' greet or while hanging out at one of the concerts. So Elvis really will be everywhere, if only in spirit. Somewhere, Uncle Jesse from “Full House” is smiling.
Tony Sclafani is an arts and culture writer whose first book is due out in 2013. His work can be seen at www.tonysclafani.com.
Spring 1974: An up-and-coming young filmmaker named Steven Spielberg, flanked by a film crew and a giant, pneumatically powered shark, descends upon sleepy and unsuspecting Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Their mission: Shoot a film based on Peter Benchley's popular novel about Amity Island, a fictional summer community terrorized by a massive ocean predator. But plagued by an unfinished script, an uncertain cast and a routinely malfunctioning mechanical shark (ostensibly the focal point of the film), their initial prospects are far from promising. Eventually, Spielberg sews up his script and cast and works around his faulty fake fish by opting not to fully reveal the beast until well into the film, gambling on the premise that what you don't see is significantly scarier than what you do.
Photo courtesy of Edith Blake
Steven Spielberg's unreliable mechanical shark, nicknamed Bruce after the filmmaker's lawyer.
Summer 1975: Spielberg's gamble pays off and then some. "Jaws" opens huge, becomes the highest-grossing film in history (though "Star Wars" will bump it off the top of that heap two years later) and wins a pile of prestigious awards. In short order, "Jaws" redefines the blockbuster and becomes the benchmark by which all other summer movies are judged.
Photo courtesy of Edith Blake
Spielberg and his film crew on the streets of Martha's Vineyard
Accolades and record books aside, however, Spielberg's realization of Benchley's novel also resonates on a new, visceral level. By tapping into our collective fear of a realm wherein human beings are very pointedly not at the top of the food chain, "Jaws" captures audiences' imaginations like precious few others. While the movie spawns legions of imitators —from "Orca," about a killer whale, all the way down to "Slugs," about those ferocious lawn predators — there remains something singular and pure about the original (in spite of its three lamentable sequels). Even in an age of superior digital wizardry and CGI animation, the comparatively primitive special effects on display in "Jaws" still manage to shock, scare and captivate.
Photo courtesy of Jim Beller
Robert Shaw lounges perilously close to his character's nemesis between takes.
It's not all about the shark, though. Augmented by the idyllic locations of Martha's Vineyard, John Williams' timeless, haunting score (cribbed liberally from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" — its famously ominous strings are probably playing in your head right now), and the memorable performances of its stars, "Jaws" connects on virtually every cinematic level.
The film is framed around the endearingly twitchy apprehension of exiled urbanite Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), the boyish enthusiasm of learned oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfus), and a signature performance by Robert Shaw as Captain Quint, a rough-hewn shark hunter prone to vaguely lurid sound bites ("here's ta swimmin' with bow-legged women"). This ensemble cast delivers more quotable lines ("you're gonna need a bigger boat" was ad-libbed on the spot by Scheider) than can be quantified. "Jaws" goes on to become a classic in every sense of the term.
Summer 2012: Martha's Vineyard is once again playing host to an infestation of a non-"islanders" as "JawsFest: The Tribute" convenes to the delight of "Jaws" fanatics worldwide.
"We like to call them 'fin-addicts!" event director Susan Sigel Goldsmith tells TODAY.com.
A four-day celebration that weds science, cinema, sightseeing and, well, silliness, "JawsFest: The Tribute" should make for the ultimate "Jaws" pilgrimage.
"The response has been tremendous," Goldsmith says, "with people coming in from as far as Australia for the event. With the advent of social networking, the connection to fans is much stronger — Universal Studios' "Jaws" movie Facebook page has more than 815,000 fans, and our own page has tremendous activity as well. We have received calls, e-mails and letter from fans consistently since 2005."
But what caliber of aficionado (or should that be afishiando?) would be attracted to such an event? "We've had some incredible responses," says Goldsmith, "from people sending us pictures from their 'Jaws'-themed weddings to 'Jaws' tattoos, numerous Quint Indianapolis speech video submissions, and some really great look-alikes. 'Jaws' resonates deeply with marine artists, shark conservationists, writers and fans, and in many cases the movie has literally changed lives. There is a significant group of fans who have seen 'Jaws' hundreds of times, have dedicated a portion of their lives to collecting 'Jaws' memorabilia, and know the entire movie by heart."
In coordination with Martha's Vineyard, “JawsFest” offers trivia hunts, re-enactments, tours to key locations from the film, discussions and documentaries about the making of the movie, autograph sessions with surviving cast members, forums about shark conservation and even a seminar on the making of the film from a woman's perspective dubbed "The Women of Jaws."
"This event is for the fan," says Goldsmith, "and we appreciate all the direct participation we have received from them. With the recent passing of [original 'Jaws'producer] Richard Zanuck, we are reminded that we don't have a lot of time left to hear these stories firsthand from those involved with the making of 'Jaws.' Personally, I can't wait to live that experience just one more time."
Not entirely coincidentally, "JawsFest: The Tribute" is happening in tandem with Universal's 100th Anniversary celebration, the Discovery Channel's 25th Anniversary Shark Week and, most significantly, the long-anticipated release on Aug. 14of the re-mastered incarnation of "Jaws" on Blu-ray, featuring a state-of-the-art restoration of the movie and over four hours of bonus features, including an all-new documentary dubbed "The Shark Is Still Working."
Alex Smith is a TODAY.com editor who was disappointed to find that the huge dorsal fin he spotted cutting through the water off his local beach in 1978 belonged to a harmless (albeit still freaky-looking) sunfish.
The London Olympics are showing how years upon years of disciplined practice by serious athletes can result in incredible performances, worldwide acclaim, and a possible gold medal.
Catherine Ledner / Getty Images stock
Tetherball has rules? Who knew?
The rest of us, sitting at home watching from our couches? We may not have that fame and fortune, or memories of getting up at 4 a.m. to walk a balance beam with a crabby Romanian coach, but often we can look back on our own memories of sports or games that we played as kids.
So as a tribute to all the non-Olympians out there, who deserve their own gold medals in card playing, kickball or jump rope, here are some of our memories. Could you have medaled in any of these sports?
Kickball Boston had its Green Monster, but during the summer of 1976, we kids of North Owasso Boulevard in Shoreview, Minn. had an equally threatening outfield: Lake Wabasso. Every night that summer of America’s Bicentennial we played kickball in my cousins’ yard. If you could only manage to thump the red dimpled ball past the outfielders, you were pretty much golden. It was going to roll into the cattails and marshy lake edge and your outfielder was going to have to wade into and pick their way through the shallows to retrieve the ball, all the while you zoomed around the bases like our Olympic hero of that summer, Bruce Jenner. Kickball was democratic –- we girls had as good a shot as our big brothers and neighbors to nail a solid kick or catch a popped-up ball — and it was simple, everyone knew the rules. In those pre-Internet distraction days, I sank into the game, never even looking up until the sun went down or my dad showed up to walk me back across the busy street to our house. By the next summer, we had moved, and my kickball days were over. But only last month, on a walk by my Seattle home, I stumbled upon an adult kickball league that eagerly announced they’re looking for more players. But there’s no lake in their outfield, so my strategy would have to change dramatically. –Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Tetherball I must have been about 7 years old when I first realized that tetherball might just be the perfect summer activity. For a not-so-athletically inclined kid who wasn’t about to play kickball in the unrelenting Florida heat or climb up on branding-iron-hot monkey bars, this simple ball-tied-to-a-pole game -- ideally situated beneath a shady, live oak canopy -- held plenty of appeal. The rules were simple enough: While holding an ice-cold drink in one hand, slap the ball toward your opponent. If you’re lucky, the orb will either bean the other player, or it’ll sail right past and swoop around the pole. If you’re not so lucky, your opponent will land one of those sweet shots instead. Also, you should both shout something ridiculous at each other with every turn. (My pal and I favored the classic “Looney Tunes” battle cries of “Duck season!” vs. “Rabbit season!” for no particular reason.) I’ve since learned those aren’t the real rules for tetherball, but they’re the ones I still follow today. But take heed! One epic face off in the ‘90s left my BFF with a torn rotator cuff. Fortunately, my own injuries were limited to the tetherball standards: a beet-red hand, a sore throat and a spilled drink. --Ree Hines
Getty Images stock
Bodysurfing can be a blast for the surfers, but nerve-wracking for the surfers' parents.
Bodysurfing While most of my time was otherwise devoted to such highbrow pursuits as comic-book-collecting, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the finer points of the KISS discography, my summers in the late 1970s as a tween were largely ruled by one mighty force: the ocean. Flanked by a gaggle of friends out in Quogue, Long Island from early June to late August, I spent hours goofing around in the sprawling surf of the Atlantic Ocean, getting mercilessly tumbled and forever hoping for that perfect wave that would give me the ride of my short, frivolous life. Regardless of red flags, low temperatures, jellyfish, the threat of rip currents or even the ominous strains of the theme from “Jaws,” we’d happily go charging into the water every day, the rougher the surf the better. Even after a few terrifying waves gave me a couple of vigorous saltwater beat-downs, it seemed I’d never learn my lesson. Now, decades later, I stand on the very same shoreline and watch as my own children giddily start to explore the timeless joys of the ocean, quietly dreading the day they’ll discover their own love for the cresting wave and hoping they’ll be more responsible than their old man. --Alex Smith
Card playing As the 1980 reigning Spit Champeen of Bar-T-Ranch camp in Gaithersburg, Md., I want to trumpet the endless summer pleasures of … card-playing. Sure, camp was great: We had horseback riding, swimming twice a day, Grape Nehi in bottles, Nuke-Em volleyball, Go-Karts. But between waiting for activities to begin and just general lazy free time, we dealt in cards. Crazy 8s, Slap Jack, War, Go Fish (if extremely bored), Pig, and the one game I simply could not be beat at: Spit. (Others of you may know it as Speed, but let’s face it – kids prefer something gross-sounding.) It’s a fast-moving game, a round always drawing a crowd. And as an uncoordinated 10-year-old, I relished the idea of being No. 1 at something. Except: I wasn’t, not always – my friend Beth Burns and I would face off regularly at Spit, and almost like clockwork, trade off the winner’s spot. So it also taught me to share, because Beth was awesome. Just like Spit. Lay your cards down now! --Randee Dawn
Marty Wolk and brothers, including Scott Wolk, shown, took Wiffle ball very seriously in the 1970s.
Wiffle ball Our suburban Cleveland backyard was home to hundreds of Wiffle ball games in the 1970s. The rules were detailed and arcane, and arguments over close plays could be heard clearly three houses away. Everyone had to turn around to hit lefthanded, supposedly as a handicap, since the park favored right-handed hitters. But the genius of the game was one simple rule: Hit it into the hedges, you're out. Over the hedges, and it's a home run. In high summer, the bushy hedges soared over 10 feet high and the giant maple trees drooped down, heavy with leaves, leaving only a small gap to shoot for in center field. But the thrill of lining one out on a warm summer afternoon, driving in three invisible runners to beat your brother -- that is a summer memory that is hard to top. --Martin Wolk
Bike riding When I was a kid, summers were a time of unimaginable freedom. No school. No TV limits. No organized activities. Under the clear blue California sky, with nothing to limit me but my own imagination, I was free to roam the neighborhood on my pink Huffy bike. I filled my days riding to friends’ homes, to the park, and when I was a little older, to the local 7-Eleven or Thrifty Drug Store for ice cream. I perfected tricks such as “no hands” riding and jumping off curbs. I would ride out past the abandoned golf course and down the unfinished street with the S-shaped sidewalk. The world was mine to explore. Eventually I would return home for dinner, but afterwards I would head out again into the late summer evening, with a promise to be home before the streetlights came on. --Joy Jernigan
As the London Olympics begin, making new golden memories every day, it's time to look back on the Games of past years. We asked our staff and our Facebook readers to share their favorite memories of the Games.
Muhammad Ali lights the Olympic cauldron My favorite summer Olympic memory doesn't involve anyone competing or winning a medal. It came in Atlanta in 1996, when boxer Muhammad Ali, down but not out thanks to Parkinson's disease, lit the Olympic cauldron. Ali's participation was kept secret right up until the opening ceremonies-- could such a secret even be kept today, in our Internet savvy-Twitter hungry world? An actor stood in for Ali in rehearsal, leaving even those who knew of his involvement to wonder if he'd physically be able to put his torch to the contraption that would shoot the flame up to the cauldron. His hands shook, but with all the determination that made him the boxing legend he is, he made the connection, and the flame raced upwards and showed the world that the Games had begun. But more than that, it showed there were some things that were bigger than a gold medal, and that Ali was still the Greatest. --Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Finally catching The Dream Team Watching the Dream Team eviscerate the men’s basketball competition at the Barcelona Olympics was required viewing for this 15-year-old in the summer of 1992. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and the rest of the NBA’s elite players on one team? That was must-see TV. Or not. My parents insisted on taking three boys on a five-week, 3,500-mile road trip from Wyoming, to the Pacific Northwest, up to Canada and back home, replete with family bonding, random hotels and campsites, and untold hours on the road, staring at various landscapes (or whatever Stephen King book I’d brought). Sure, we saw the ocean, Pike Place Market, rode a ferry and walked on a glacier. But I was missing history! Even then, I knew this collection of players was never going to happen again. We saw snippets of the action on TV, but it seemed CBC was uninterested in showing NBA legends (read: Americans) own the Games. It wasn’t until we hit Great Falls, Mont. – blessed Great Falls and its spotty TV reception – on the trip home before I could fully marvel at the Dream Team. They were worth it. --Mike Miller
Standing in the spot where Michael Phelps made history I’ve watched the Olympics since I was a kid. Like much of America in the summer of 2008, I tuned in for a chance to see Team USA’s Michael Phelps swim his way to his 8th gold medal of the Beijing Games, breaking Mark Spitz’s 1972 record for most gold medals in a single Games. This past spring, I had an opportunity to visit Beijing and took my family to the Water Cube, part of which has been transformed into an indoor water park, complete with water slides, a lazy river and a wave pool. But the Olympic pool remains, and as I paused at the spot where Phelps made history, I wanted to jump in and swim a few laps myself. If Phelps wins just three more medals in the London Games, he will be the most decorated Olympian of all time. “It’s not about going out and swimming 15 events. It’s about going out and capping off a career.” Phelps recently told TODAY. Michael Phelps, America will be watching. --Joy Jernigan
Dara Torres shows you're never too old I hold a secret desire to be in the Olympics. I’m still figuring out which sport, and now that I’m pushing 40, my choices are somewhat limited. (Table tennis? Curling?) But age didn’t stop five-time Olympian Dara Torres, who at age 41 won three silver medals in swimming at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “Don’t put an age limit on your dreams,” she told NBC News after earning her 12th career Olympic medal. Her accomplishments certainly inspired me to hit the pool a bit more. Although at 45 – 45! – she didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team this year (finishing less than a tenth of a second behind one of the qualifiers), she’s an inspiration to us would-be Olympians everywhere. --J.J.
Nadia was perfect Definitely watching Nadia Comaneci score perfect 10's in the '76 Olympics, she was about my age and she was a MACHINE! I cheered her on every step of the way, even though she wasn't on team USA, I never missed the coverage of her on TV, and I will be watching all the gymnastics this summer as well! --Mary Wilson Truckor, via Facebook
Dream team at McDonald's I was lucky enough to be stationed in Spain during the '92 Summer Games. A group of friends and I drove from Torrejon to Barcelona to catch whatever events we could and I was lucky enough to see the men's volleyball team play. Later that evening, while sitting in a McDonald's, we bumped into Charles Barkley from the "Dream Team" who was meeting someone there. --Doug Peacock, via Facebook
I love L.A. Attending the opening ceremonies for the '84 Olympics at the Coliseum. All the pianos playing "Ode To Joy," the wild west show and Rafer Johnson climbing to the top of the peristyle to light the torch -- an amazing show. It made me proud to be an American and an Angeleno! --Patrick Reynolds, via Facebook
Michael Phelps created many lasting Olympic memories in 2008, and he's hoping to do the same in 2012.
The best athletes in the world are gathering in London for the 2012 Games. Swimmers, gymnasts, track stars, cyclists, weightlifters, boxers, basketball players and more are bringing their best game in hopes of taking home a medal.
It's impossible to think about the Olympics without remembering all the golden moments that have come before. We want to know your favorite memory of Summer Olympics past.
Did Olga Korbut or Nadia Comaneci make you start balancing on curbs and benches around your home and school? Was your heart in your throat when Kerri Strug made that vault on her injured ankle? Did the poster of Mark Spitz and all his medals inspire you to spend hours swimming laps? Did you cheer for the Dream Team? Root on Usain Bolt? Were you screaming like Michael Phelps when the U.S. relay team beat the trash-talking French? Or maybe your memory isn't from a sporting contest -- did you tear up when Muhammed Ali lit the Olympic cauldron in Atlanta?
Whether your memory is vintage or recent, and no matter what country, event, or athlete it involves, share it with us on Facebook. We'll collect the best for a post on Friday, the day of the opening ceremonies.
Even parents who didn't take to the stronger sounds of the 1960s found The Beach Boys an acceptable musical influence.
Sure, your musical tastes may not be the same as your parents. Maybe they never missed "Lawrence Welk," all the while yelling at you to turn down your KISS cassette. But that doesn't mean they didn't influence your taste in tunes.
Depending on your parents' generation, they may have passed on a love for big bands, Elvis, the Beatles or any of hundreds of other genres and artists. Maybe they started draggng you to classical concerts as a tot, or taught you the hidden beauty of accordion music, or made sure you appreciated the lyric poetry of Leonard Cohen or Lou Reed. We asked our staff to share their favorite musical influence from Mom and Dad.
The Beach Boys I grew up shoveling out from under some of the deepest snow in the country in Rochester, N.Y. It was a long way from the sun-kissed surf and California girls I dreamed about every time I heard The Beach Boys playing in my house. The band was a comfortable substitute for the psychedelic rock of the Woodstock era, which my non-hippie parents never turned on, tuned in or dropped out of. In our summers, vacations to the Eastern seaboard and sidewalk surfing on plastic skateboards served as suitable fill-ins for a 1970s kid who just wanted to “Catch a Wave.” It’s easy to trace the transition in my musical taste to the new wave of the 1980s and recognize why I still love hearing classic surf rock like Dick Dale or The Ventures. I credit the “Good Vibrations” coming from the record player of my youth. --Kurt Schlosser
World War II songs Nothing looms larger in my parents’ lives than World War II. My dad was a Marine who fought in the Battle of Okinawa, and he and my mom married in 1943 before he went overseas. While he was gone, she gave birth to my oldest brother, named for his GI father who might never come home. So when I hear a war song from that era, it’s their marriage and courtship that plays in my mind. I can’t hear “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” or “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” without thinking of my mom and all those military families, waiting stateside for word, trusting they’d one day reconnect. “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer” always breaks my heart with its triumphant tale of a damaged plane limping home. The lyrics "though there’s one motor gone, we can still carry on” weren't really about a fictional plane, they were about our whole country pitching in to make it through the fight we just had to win. And though it’s not from his war, my dad used to tease me when I’d sleep late by belting out “Oh, how I hate to get up in the moooooorning,” Irving Berlin’s song about a GI's hatred for the company bugler. Mom and Dad are still with us, and now that Dad's been retired since the 1980s, he can sleep as late as he wants. Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition. –Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Paul Simon One of my earliest childhood memories is listening to Paul Simon crooning out about the “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" –- and how I’d run around the living room acting out “getting on the bus, Gus.” (At the time I was reading a book called “Gus the Ghost” and pictured a happy apparition boarding.) Mom had several of Simon's solo albums, and after the Columbia Record and Tapes Club fairy visited our house, we had an 8-track of the Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits. I didn’t know exactly what they meant when they sang about Mrs. Robinson and her cupcakes, or about words of the prophets on the subway walls, but in later years when we studied Simon’s lyrics as poetry in middle school, I discovered I hadn’t just been handed an awesome musical legacy, but an education. Today, I’m still a huge Paul Simon nerd, ready to sing “The Only Living Boy in New York” at the drop of a hat –- then give you all the inside scoop about what the lyrics really mean. --Randee Dawn
Neil Diamond My parents were married on Feb. 8, 1964, the day before the Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show." They watched the performance, but the lovable mop-tops from Liverpool were a bit too young for them. Instead, my earliest musical memories involve riding with my dad in our old Chevy Bel Air, listening to Neil Diamond’s 1971 album “Stones” on the 8-track player. It featured several cover versions of other songwriters’ songs, but my two favorites were Diamond originals “Crunchy Granola Suite” and “I Am … I Said." That was only the prelude to Diamond’s masterpiece –- the double live album, “Hot August Night.” Recorded at a 1972 concert, it turned him from a successful pop singer/songwriter into a legendary performer known for his live shows. The opening orchestral prologue features strings that build to a crescendo of drums and blazing guitar and -- what else? -- “Crunchy Granola Suite.” The 40th anniversary deluxe edition of the album is being released on July 31. It’s the perfect Diamond primer for Neil newbies, highlighting early hits as well as his mastery as a live performer. --Denise Hazlick
"Herbie Rides Again" was just one of many movies spotlighting San Francisco.
Months after Tom Cruise filmed "Jack Reacher" in Pittsburgh, Kristin Bell was photographed on the streets of the city's Sewickley neighborhood shooting her new movie "Lifeguards."
"Maybe someday we could become the Hollywood of the east," Sewickley borough manager Kevin Flannery told the Sewickley Herald.
Don't laugh, the 'Burgh, where I have deep roots, has hosted its fair share of notable films. Below, I choose my favorite, and other entertainment staffers do the same for the places they've called home. Read on, and weigh in with your own Hometown Hollywood story over on Facebook. --Courtney Hazlett
Wonder Boys, Pittsburgh Great films have been shot in my fair city --"Groundhog Day," "Adventureland" and "Flashdance" to name just a few. But the 2000 film "Wonder Boys" is one that captures it best, from the city's moodiness right down to its dismal winter weather (Pouring rain is driving into four inches of snow? In Pittsburgh that's not a movie set. It's February.) Michael Douglas plays a philandering, cantankerous, aging professor trying to shepherd a promising, troubled student (Tobey Maguire) toward his potential. Robert Downey Jr. and Katie Holmes have fantastic roles, too and between the four of them, every possible shade of angst is covered. If you're looking for a coming-of-age film for every adult age, in a place that nails its non-Hollywood setting perfectly, "Wonder Boys" is your movie. --C.H.
‘Purple Rain,’ Minneapolis The Twin Cities are no Hollywood and “Purple Rain” isn’t exactly “Citizen Kane,” but you couldn’t have told me that when the rock musical, filmed in and around my hometowns, burst on the scene in 1984. I was in high school, too young to be one of the extras seen hanging around downtown Minneapolis’ First Avenue nightclub, the central setting for Prince’s movie tour de force. The movie itself was fun (“That ain’t Lake Minnetonka” indeed), but it was the club that took on mythic proportions for those of us still unable to drive or drink. Years later I’d finally be old enough to go to shows there and in the adjacent Seventh Street Entry, spending hours sweating and drinking and playing video games and wandering around waiting for Redd Kross or The Meat Puppets or The Soft Boys or whoever to start playing. Prince later opened his own club, Glam Slam, just a few blocks away. But nothing could attain the legend of First Ave, our beloved, smelly, black-painted bus station, its exterior spangled with white stars bearing the names of the bands and artists who’d come to play. When I catch a glimpse of the club in the movie today, I still see it with the eyes of a teenager, and and it still looks like the most dazzling, grown-up place there ever was. –Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
'Moneyball,' Oakland, Calif. Many a movie has been made and set in San Francisco, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful, multicultural city with style and tons of character. Its blue collar sister across the bay –- Oakland –- has not been as fortunate. It is beautiful (the hills, Lake Merritt, Knowland Park), but also much grittier, more working-class and, unfortunately, in recent years, better known for its escalating crime rate than its scenic views. One export the city has long been proud of is its sports teams, which are just as blue collar as the city itself (hello, Oakland Raiders fans!). That ethos was on display in the 2011 Oscar nominated film “Moneyball.” The fillm starred Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and focused on his attempt to turn around the slumping fortunes of a very low-budget team. As a dyed-in-the-wool A’s fan, it was glorious to watch the 20-game win streak of the 2002 season all over again –- and to know that Beane is still in Oakland, trying to win that last game of the a season. –Denise Hazlick
'Herbie Rides Again,' San Francisco My first introduction to my future (if temporary) hometown was 1974’s “Herbie Rides Again.” While thousands of films have been shot in the city by the bay, this is the movie that first introduced a very young me to the spectacular scenery, rolling hills, cable cars and fog which continues to dazzle locals and tourists alike. To my unjaded eyes, this film had it all: Good vs. evil as old widow Steinmetz tries to hold off the greedy developer Alonzo Hawk; humor and action as Herbie The Love Bug chases after cable cars, several gangs of lawyers and climbs the Golden Gate Bridge. While the young me couldn’t believe they would let an unmanned car drive the steep and curvy streets of the city, the older me notices the hokey special effects, but this film will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to this amazing city. –Dave Gostisha
'No Way Out,' Maryland/Washington Since it's so close to our nation's capital, it's virtually impossible to see the beautiful state of Maryland on the big screen without a political context. "No Way Out" is guilty of that cliche, but otherwise made terrific use of its setting, including Annapolis and Baltimore (which served as the interiors for the subway stations -- there has never been a Georgetown Metro stop). Kevin Costner plays a decorated Naval officer who witnesses an accidental murder committed by the Secretary of Defense -- and who is put in charge of rooting out the Soviet sleeper agent blamed for the crime. There's a suicide and a love story and a twist at the end, all done while racing around the Capitol and beyond. Great film, nicely executed. –Randee Dawn
'Hype!,' Seattle I’ve called Seattle home for 16 years, and I’m able to say that in large part because of the music that lured me out West in 1996. Nothing captures what was going on during that time better than the documentary “Hype!.” The film examines the Seattle scene that grew into the “grunge” movement behind heavyweights like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney, to name a few. Classic music performances are layered with interviews with those who were witnessing the cultural phenomenon firsthand. As new music resonates with me today in Seattle, it’s not hard to reflect back on a time when the entire world tuned its ear to what was going on in the Pacific Northwest, bought into the “Hype!” in the ‘90s, and found a home in the process. –Kurt Schlosser
Joan Collins sported some serious shoulder pads in "Dynasty."
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
No one can say the 1980s were the world's most elegant decade. Hair and shoulders were huge, shoes and watches were made out of plastic, jeans looked as if they'd been battered for hours on river rock, and fashion trends came and went as fast as Pac-Man gobbled ghosts.
But darn it, while the fashions of the 1980s may have been awkward, vapid, random and disposable, they were OUR awkward, vapid, random and disposable fashions.
I love the decade's pop culture so much that college friend Brian Bellmont and I wrote a book about it -- "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the 1970s and 1980s?" And as we toured around and talked about the book, in person and on radio and TV, we found a hidden cult of 1980s lovers in every city and state. When we handed out Pop Rocks and sprayed a little Love's Baby Soft in the air, people responded with their own warm, goofy memories. (And plugged their noses -- "Love's Baby Soft" is still pretty stinky.) With everything that's happened in the decades since then, parts of the 1980s look startlingly innocent by comparison.
Looking through the Awkward Family Photos slideshow, I remember every trend the poor unfortunates are wearing. You could find more than a few of them in my photo albums (and closets) too. Even though I spent almost half of the 1980s at an all-girls' Catholic high school where we wore uniforms that made us look like smallish nuns, my classmates and I found ways to incorporate the signs o' the times into our looks, from giant hair and popped collars to Swatch watches and jelly shoes ("young lady, you are OUT OF UNIFORM!").
I could write another whole book just on 1980s fashion flubs and faux pas, but here are five favorites.
Big hair Is that an enormous French poodle on your neck, or are you just happy to see me? Remember when we all got perms? Does anyone get perms any more? Curling irons and hot rollers sufficed for those who couldn't get or didn't want a salon 'do, and Farrah feathered looks and hockey-hair mullets were also popular. Big hair also made the leap into the music world, with bands like Poison and Twisted Sister sporting poofs to be proud of.
Shoulder pads Shoulder pads kind of made sense inside the peplumed dresses of Linda Evans and Joan Collins on "Dynasty," as they swaggered their way into boardrooms and business meetings, but less so for those of us who mostly just hung around the mall. The worst thing about this fad was that it made many women look like linebackers. The second-worst thing was that you could not buy a shirt or dress without them for years, which led to women cutting them out at home with scissors, which led to stupid tiny holes in your clothes. Our bodies pad themselves just fine, thanks.
Swatch watches A fad, but not really a faux pas, at least not to me. I admit, I still kinda love these, and recently found myself lingering over a case of them at the Mall of America Swatch store. (Yes, Swatch stores still exist.) Come on, these colorful, poppy, plastic timepieces were a huge improvement over the clunky black Texas Instuments digital watches that preceded them. Women who grew up in the 1980s, close your eyes and think back to your "Seventeen" Magazine subscription, which sometimes came with scratch-n-sniff postcards advertising the scented Swatches, called Granita di Frutta. The raspberry scent still lingers in my sense memory, probably crowding out any recollection of math or other more useful topics.
Hoopskirts and crinolines Prom dresses today are slinky, sexy and sometimes totally age-inappropriate. Not so in the 1980s, where the Scarlett O'Hara style of gowns, like her beloved South, rose again. The big debate was not how much skin to show, but whether a hoopskirt or a crinoline was the best way to poof that skirt out to its desired hugeness -- that is, if you weren't wearing a bubble skirt. Oh, and forget that hideous homemade outfit Molly Ringwald made in "Pretty in Pink." (Shoulder cut-outs, really?)
Acid-washed jeans Supposedly you could bleach and batter regular dark-blue jeans to get this must-have '80s look, but COME ON. Most of us just bought them off the rack, the paler and most distressed-looking, the better. Parents who'd grown up in the Depression, when clothing was worn until it literally wore out, were baffled by this trend -- why would you want your clothing to look like it'd gone 12 rounds with Rocky? Pair the jeans with a jean jacket and you've got that 1980s staple, the denim tuxedo. Even Martha Stewart once sported that too-too blue look on her show.
The Tasmanian Devil, Daffy Duck, and Bugs Bunny are cartoon classics, but some others -- like the Wonder Twins from "Super Friends" -- are less memorable.
By Randee Dawn, TODAY contributor
Who hasn't spent a lazy Saturday morning in front of the TV set, gobbling up sugary cereal while parents get some sleeping-in time? It's a time-honored tradition among kids, who now have a bevy of cartoon shows to choose from airing what feels like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But back in the stone age -- okay, the 1970s and '80s, when I was a kid -- nobody had cable, and Saturday mornings were virtually the only time to snag some true kids' programming that wasn't really trying to teach you anything.
So in retrospect, we've got lots of nostalgia for the era. But also in retrospect, a lot of those cartoons ... don't exactly stand the test of time. “Someone once said that everybody’s golden age is when they were 12,” says CartoonBrew.com’s Jerry Beck, an animation historian. “That seems to be true. It doesn’t have to be well-written or well-animated – because they bring us back to that time, and there’s an innocence to them.”
In honor of those well-wasted hours in front of the boob tube, here's a look back at some of the best -- and the worst -- cartoons of past decades. Wonder Twin powers -- activate! Form of: a couch potato.
'Super Friends' (1973-86) One of the few shows my brother and I could agree to watch together (I had kind of a thing for Aquaman, who could swim with dolphins), "Super Friends" was both awesome and terrible. On the one hand, you got to imagine that there was a Hall of Justice where Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman and Robin (plus their demographically pandering teen cohorts like the Wonder Twins) would just hang out and park the Invisible Jet and, you know, fight the bad guys. On the other hand, the animation is stiff, cheap and repetitive. Like the stories.
'Jem and the Holograms' (1985-88) Rock stars have lots of adventures, but they're not usually G-rated. But kids love to sing, so some genius decided that an 80s New Wave (sort of) band was just the way to draw a huge audience. (Actually, the whole thing was put together by the toy guys at Hasbro, Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions -- the latter gave you "G.I. Joe" and "Transformers.") So sure, it was cheesy, but the truly awful thing about "Jem" was that your baby brother could have drawn it better -- and probably learned how to sync the mouths with the words. "Jem" is also enjoying a retro rebound -- the third season comes out on DVD Tuesday, and new collectible dolls are on the way.
'Looney Tunes' (circa 1930-Present) Stumbling on a Looney Tunes block of cartoons then, as now, is like being wrapped in a warm blanket and handed a bowl of ice cream: You just know things are going to go all right for the next 7 to 8 minutes. Originally made for feature screens and audiences, Looney Tunes were just better written, better drawn and felt like highbrow entertainment after yet another "adventure" on the other super-shows. Wabbit season!
'Scooby-Doo' (1969-Present) Hanna-Barbera Productions cartoons were never highbrow, but they had a goofy consistency that appealed to kids of many ages, and the enduring nature of "Scooby-Doo," a talking Great Dane with a bottomless pit for a stomach and a fear of everything that goes bump in the night, is a testament to how even at their silliest, cartoons can bridge the generations. Most memorable, oft-repeated phrase: "And we would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids!" We all wanted to be those meddling kids.
'Animaniacs' (1993-1998) By the time Steven Spielberg decided to present us with his "Animaniacs" (the full title of the show was "Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs," cable TV was already beginning to dominate the networks when it came to Saturdays. But this often-surreal, well-constructed and witty show captured the hearts of children of all ages. It hearkened back to the earliest days of animation (three of the main characters were allegedly hidden at Warner Bros. since the 1930s, and escaped to get their own show), and were clearly inspired by Looney Tunes.
Depending on when you grew up, you may have been reprimanded by your World War II vet dad for growing out your hair like The Beatles, or for shaving stripes into the sides like Vanilla Ice. Even if you didn't experiment with your own locks, you surely knew what Jules was talking about in "Pulp Fiction" when he called one of the guys in the Big Kahuna burger scene "Flock of Seagulls."
Barry Williams, shown at right in photo with his "Brady Bunch" cast members, was a popular big-brother crush for many.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
When word came Wednesday of the death of Don Grady, who played Robbie Douglas on "My Three Sons," many a now-grown girl felt the sting of losing one of her childhood big-brother crushes.
There was a period in the 1960s-1980s when big brothers were a staple of TV sitcoms in a way they aren't today. Whether you were the youngest of seven or an only child, you only needed to turn on the set to feel a part of a rollicking, loving family, and so many of them had at least one big brother leading the clan.
These were big bros to be proud of. They were always handsome, always polite, and it was easy to imagine them quarterbacking the family in a game of touch football or gently carrying the littlest family member home from a picnic or fireworks show.
Here are a few of our favorite retro TV big brothers.
Robbie Douglas, 'My Three Sons' We have to start with the late Don Grady. Robbie Douglas was one of the handsomest of the TV brothers, but he wasn't originally the oldest son. In the early days of the show, Mike was the oldest Douglas son, but when actor Tim Considine was written out, the sons shifted. Robbie became the oldest and orphan Ernie was adopted to keep the number of sons at three. Robbie was a great big brother, though, and eventually he married college classmate Katie, who gave birth to triplets -- the next generation of "My Three Sons."
Wally Cleaver, 'Leave It to Beaver' The oldest big brother on our list -- "Beaver" actually began in the 1950s -- Wally set the gold standard for others to follow. Part of his appeal was that even though he was a heartbreakingly handsome athlete who made the girls swoon, he didn't know it. With his parents, and little brother Beaver, he was a humble goofball, always there for his mischievous little bro and a prime part of the family team.
Keith Partridge, 'The Partridge Family' Hunky David Cassidy soon grew tired of his clean-cut image as Keith Partridge, lead singer of the Partridge Family and locker-poster heartthrob, even appearing nude (the photo was cropped) on the cover of Rolling Stone. But girls didn't tire of his gentle big-brother image and that irresistible feathered hair. We longed to ride that crazy multi-colored bus with him, and sit in the audience as he crooned "I Think I Love You."
Greg Brady, 'The Brady Bunch' It was no surprise to 1970s TV watchers that Greg (Barry Williams) and Marcia (Maureen McCormick) snuck some kisses during the filming of "The Brady Bunch." After all, they weren't even biological siblings on the show, let alone in real life, and who could resist the many charms of Greg? Whether he was directing the blended family in a movie about Pilgrims or leading the family singing groups (the Silver Platters and the Brady Six), Greg was the big brother -- and the big crush -- 1970s girls adored.
Richie Cunningham, 'Happy Days' Lucky Joanie. Red-headed Richie was no Fonzie, no epitome of leather-jacketed cool, but he was the ultimate big brother with a good head on his shoulders. He may not have had the teen idol looks of some of the other big brothers, but there was no denying the appeal of his clean-cut appearance and solid midwestern morals. Joanie loves Chachi, but we loved Richie. (And yes, for purists, there was an EVEN OLDER Cunningham brother -- the rarely seen Chuck.)
Theo Huxtable, 'The Cosby Show' Big brothers had started to fade off of shows in the 1980s, and Theo Huxtable wasn't even the oldest in his family -- Sondra and Denise came first. But to Vanessa, Rudy, and later little Olivia, Theo was a great big bro. Sure, he was a little more hapless (that Gordon Gartrell shirt!) and a lot less suave than the brothers of decades past, but he was always funny and sweet, and by the time he was working with dyslexic kids as a college student, we loved him all the more.
Firsts are always memorable, even when they don't deserve to be. Your first kiss may not be the best ever, but you'll know till your dying day where and with whom it happened. Ditto for first concerts. Very few of us saw The Beatles at The Cavern Club for our first show, we were much more likely to catch The Police in a soccer stadium or Tiffany at the mall. Those memories fade a little -- you may not remember who went with you or how much the ticket was -- but the song remains the same. Travel down a musical memory lane with us, and share your own first concert experience.
Coldplay, George, Wa., July 2009 It was a balmy summer evening at the breathtakingly beautiful Gorge Amphitheater in central Washington State when the British pop-rockers Coldplay took to the stage. In front of a golden sunset that descended upon the twisting Columbia River and its surrounding canyons, we sat on the terraced lawn listening to the soaring melodies of “Viva La Vida” and the pitch-perfect ballad, “Yellow.” Like all good things, it came to an end. This, however, was a harshly abrupt end. Near the finale, a drunken duo couldn’t quite keep from spilling their beers on us; then on the drive home, my girlfriend decided to break up with me -- apparently the summer is no time for stifling relationships. So let me start over: On an ominous evening where the harsh waters of the Columbia River crashed into its surrounding canyons, I waited for the washed-out Chris Martin to deliver yet another contrived ballad created with the sole purpose of consoling sexually frustrated middle-age women who deal with their depression with a bottle of white wine and a “Viva La Vida” CD. I’ve had better evenings. --Cody Delistraty
The Dazz Band and Berlin, Disneyland, May 1983 One of the many benefits of being a California girl is the high school graduation ritual that is Grad Nite. Each year, seniors from schools around the state load up in buses and head to Anaheim to be locked into Disneyland for the night to enjoy the rides and several concerts. At daybreak, the tired masses stumble back on the bus for a long, (in my case a 400-mile drive back to the Bay Area) sleep-filled drive home. That night, there were several acts performing, but I attended two. Being a stone-cold R&B fan, my first pick was The Dazz Band. The Cleveland-based funk group were riding high on the charts with their hit single, “Let It Whip,”and since I was there to have “big fun,” oh, yeah, I let it whip! To this day, whenever I hear that song, I think of dancing with a couple of hundred of my new best friends in my best big-shouldered ‘80s dress (girls had to wear dresses for Grad Nite back in the day). Next on the concert ticket was Berlin, one of the many emerging New Wave-synch pop bands of the early ‘80s. Thanks to MTV, which was brand new to the TV dial at the time, I fell in love with New Wave. Berlin, fronted by the very cool Terri Nunn, would go on to score a huge hit with “You Take My Breath Away” later in the decade, but that night their show-stopper was “The Metro.” It would be many, many years later until I rode le Metro in Paris, but yes, that song came into my head, as well as a cherished memory of one night in The Happiest Place on Earth. --Denise Hazlick
Singer Mike Score of Flock Of Seagulls performs in 2012. Sadly, a hat covers his once-famous 1980s hair.
The Police/Flock of Seagulls/The Fixx, Rochester, N.Y., August 1983 When I was growing up in Rochester, N.Y., I could hear the music when bands played Holleder Stadium, three blocks from my house. I remember Deadheads sitting on our front lawn. And I remember my first show inside the stadium, where I had only ever been to see the Rochester Lancers soccer team play. The Police were on their 1983 “Synchronicity" tour and the regular set list included all the hits you would expect -– “Every Breath You Take,” “King of Pain,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger” and so on. The tour T-shirt remains iconic to me with its red, blue and yellow slashes of color. As a 14-year-old skateboarder at the time, I think the opening bands were a bigger draw for me. The Fixx and Flock of Seagulls were new wave heavyweights and were in heavy rotation on MTV. I can’t remember if Seagulls’ lead singer Mike Score’s amazing hair was visible from my seat at the show. But the Internet coughed up a copy of the ticket, and $15 sure sounds like a deal today. –-Kurt Schlosser
Chicago, St. Paul, Minn., 1985 Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? Does anybody really know if my first concert was in 1984 or 1985? At the St. Paul Civic Center, or the St. Paul Auditorium? Those details have faded, but I know the band was Chicago, the album was “Chicago 17,” and I’m pretty sure I went with my best high-school friend Kate. I’m also pretty sure her parents dropped us off and picked us up since neither of us were old enough to drive. Admittedly, looking back, Chicago wasn’t the coolest band to claim as your first concert. Born the same year as me, 1967, they’ve been around forever, prominently feature horns, and are a staple of light-rock stations and dental offices. In short, they’re no Clash. But they’re also second only to the Beach Boys in Billboard singles and album chart success, so take that, cool kids! You know our love was meant to beeeeeeee … the kind of love to last forever. –-Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Singer Tiffany, known for her 1980s mall concerts, performs in 2012.
Tiffany, Pittsburgh, Pa., April 1988 If I had known that “what was your first concert?” would become a common icebreaker once adulthood struck, I might have made a more careful choice. But that was the furthest thing from my mind in the late 1980s, when I was all about a certain pop singer who went by one name. No, not Madonna. Tiffany. The events leading up to the concert and the show itself are fuzzy memories. I do recall my mother reacting to one of Tiffany’s hit songs -- “I Saw Him Standing There” — with two words: “Awful, Courtney.” Too young to understand that it was a total bastardization of the Beatles song of the same name, I was entranced by the sheer pop quality of it, and the thought of seeing her perform it live? It was Christmas come early. So it’s ironic that I don’t remember the concert per se, but I do remember one important fact. It was my dad who took me and my friend to the actual show. Robert Hazlett sat patiently by our sides as we screamed and sang, disappeared just long enough to make us feel grown up, and bought what I’m sure was a very overpriced T-shirt to commemorate the event. So while I’m a little mortified that the answer to this question will forever be an artist who was a total flash in the pan, I am happy about the rest of the memory — that it was my dad who made it all happen. --Courtney Hazlett
Air Supply, Columbia, Md., 1982 I was 12 and couldn’t exactly drive myself to the venue. That meant whatever rock concert I was going to go to had to come with mom’s stamp of approval. Fortunately, Air Supply was the very definition of mom-approved rock. And heck, I was pre-adolescent and hormonal and just loved all of their deeply sappy love songs with a passion. To top it all off, I was in an Australo-philia phase and was working on finding ways to work lingo like ‘wowser’ into my daily vocabulary, so the fact that they were from Down Under made them even more exciting. I went with my friend Valerie and both of our moms to Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, Md., and the first thing we did was purchase a $10 T-shirt in the parking lot, a shirt which I described in great detail –- along with a drawing of the Outback-themed stage set –- in my diary later on. Yes, the dreary Livingston Taylor may have been the opening act, but otherwise the show had everything I could have hoped for: Lasers, moving platforms, and, of course, those deeply sappy love songs. Air Supply rocked (softly) for a couple of hours, and as I told my diary later, “I had the time of my life. Oh, yes, I also got a big program for $6.” --Randee Dawn
Nelson, Seattle, 1991 I was the ripe old age of 12 when I attended my first concert with my best pals Bridget and Vilde -- and Bridget’s dad. I remember the three of us jumping up and down on our seats (we weren’t very tall for 12 year olds), screaming the lyrics back at the pair of beautiful, blond, identical twin boys on stage and loving every second of it. And after the show, we dropped way too much cash on some cheesy looking concert T-shirts. (In fact, it was this one that I bought: If only I had kept it, I could sell it today for nearly twice the price I paid!) Sure, Nelson may not have maintained their “cool band” status (some might even argue they were never cool to begin with, but whatever), but after all these years, I can still remember the majority of the lyrics from their debut album and adore it “More Than Ever” even though my musical tastes moved on long ago. --Anna Chan
Richard Marx, Concord, Calif. 1989 I’ll admit that my concert track record hasn’t always been the greatest. My first concert was Richard Marx’s 1989 “Repeat Offender” tour –- where I was less impressed with the music than I was in trying to impress the two older guys – senior basketball players! – who let me tag along. From there, I made a few more questionable choices –- Milli Vanilli (turns out they WERE lip-syncing!) and New Kids on the Block (a friend made me go, I swear). I made up for it later by scoring fourth-row tickets to Madonna’s 1990 “Blond Ambition” tour. You just haven’t seen anything until you’ve had a closeup view of Madonna wearing breast cones and gyrating on a red velvet bed. But the concert-going pinnacle of my teen years was Dec. 31, 1991, when rising stars Pearl Jam and Nirvana opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the San Francisco Cow Palace. Who could have predicted then that grunge would eventually lead me to my current home in Seattle? --Joy Jernigan
Kansas/Loverboy, LaCrosse, Wisc., 1981 Wow, a famous band like Kansas and a hot, new, up-and-coming band like Loverboy were going to play the first big rock concert in the new LaCrosse Center, and I had a ticket! By the time my friend Steve’s parents dropped us off, Loverboy was already playing. Mike Reno was energetically running around the stage while his cohorts rocked the crowd. Then, during an extended version of “Working for the Weekend,” Mike and guitarist Paul Dean began pitting the left side of the audience against the right side, “C’mon you guys, you’re louder than them….” I remember only two things about Kansas, the guy who played the violin had like crazy long hippy hair, and wow, he played the violin a lot. --David Gostisha