Archive for October, 2009

Oct
30

New Feature: Friday’s Favs

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(Note: every Friday I’ll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from May 27, 2009

Near Total Recall

I’ll pick you up at the Stroh’s plant after work, then we’ll ride on our Uniroyal tires to Cunningham’s Drugs for a milkshake. Better yet, a Vernor’s float.

Speaking of beverages, I’m running low on Towne Club pop, so can we stop at the distribution outlet? I have my case of empty bottles in the trunk.

Then it’ll be off to Great Scott! for a few groceries.

If you’re good, I’ll treat you to dinner downtown at the Rattlesnake Club.

After a day at Bob-Lo, of course.

Who says you can’t go home anymore?

You can do it in your mind. All the time. Whenever suits your fancy.

I’ve pedaled my bike to Cunningham’s, but for the baseball cards in the dispensing machine near the registers. Then I’ve traded them right out front, amidst the passers-by, with my friends.

Meet me at the Kern Clock. And while we’re nearby, you can do some Father’s Day shopping for me at Hudson’s.

Lord help us if we ever lose the ability to have memories.

It’s what can get you through, especially in these tough-as-nails times.

Readers of this blog know that I prefer yesterday to today. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to find out about tomorrow, and what it has to offer.

But today is tomorrow’s yesterday, and something tells me that those memories might not be so hot.

How can it be, when there’s no Hughes, Hatcher and Suffrin to outfit me and my men’s clothing needs?

I’d discuss it with you over lunch at Red Barn, but I can’t.

Maybe we’d catch a movie at the Quo Vadis theater and sit right in front, with the seats inches, it seemed, from the screen. But no can do.

There’s a McDonald’s where the Algiers drive-in used to be in Westland.

The horror!

I actually worked at a Cunningham’s, in Ann Arbor while going to college at EMU. But it was long after they yanked the soda jerks from it.

I remember parking my car at Tigers games on Abbott Street, and the old Cunningham’s warehouse on Rosa Parks Boulevard wasn’t far away.

Speaking of Tiger Stadium, do they still let you drink on the roof at Hoot Robinson’s? Is Hoot’s even open anymore?

Can’t have a burger at the Lindell AC anymore. Which means I can’t admire Wayne Walker’s jock strap, framed, on the wall near the ceiling.

I accumulated most of my 45 rpm records at the K-Mart. They had them hanging behind the clerk, in the order of their Billboard ranking for that week.

Oh, and don’t forget to pick up some of those yellow discs with the holes in the middle, so you can play the darn things on your parents’ fancy-shmancy stereo turntable.

Memories I keep alive, because, well, someone has to.


The Quo Vadis; some of the seats were so close to the screen you could touch it

There was nothing more exciting than when the Mr. Softy truck rolled by.

Soft-serve ice cream, from a truck.

You heard me.

The Mr. Softy man would park the truck, adorned with a gigantic 3-D replica of a soft-serve cone on its roof, and move to the center of the vehicle. For that’s where the window was.

He wore white, and maybe even a hat.

The best hamburger in the world was at a place called Lum’s, on Plymouth Road in Livonia. It was the Ollie Burger–spicy and zesty and yes, I can taste it right now.

We’d play Putt-Putt on Middlebelt, ride our bikes there, and if you were lucky you could win a free game if your ball’s color lit up on the outside of the caddyshack–and you were fast enough to bring it there before the color changed.

There’s a Meijer’s where DRC race track once sat.

More horrors!

Of course, you can still grab some Chinese take-out at Ten Yen, so there’s that, at least.

Or ribs at Alexander’s, which were simply the best of all-time.

Do kids today even know how to ride a bike?

Sometimes we’d set out, in the morning in the summertime, and cruise the local ball fields looking for a game–our mitts hanging on the handlebars. And someone carried a bat.

We’d be gone all day, and no one worried. Just be home before dark; that was the only caveat from mom.

It’s important to remember.

Once I bet my friend Jim Krebs that he couldn’t par the par five at Whispering Willows golf course. Gave him all summer to do it. Told him I’d buy him dinner at the Fonte D’Amore restaurant on Plymouth Road.

We were in high school still, and Jim was a good golfer. But not par five good. And that was a nearly 500-yard hole.

On the last day before the bet ran out, darned if Jimmy didn’t hole out in the required five strokes.

Yes, I paid him.

By the way, I wondered if old Fonte D’Amore was still open.

Did a Google and called the number.

Disconnected.

That’s why you should never forget, if you can help it.

Lord help you if you can’t.

Categories : Enotes
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Oct
29

My Two Scents Worth

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Geez, how stinky ARE our homes, anyway?

It’s appearing that the technology propping up the air freshener industry is rivaling that of home security systems.

Just saw an ad on TV for a product that is equipped with motion detectors, so that when “traffic is heavier in the house”—or words to that effect—it knows when to spritz more of the smelly stuff into the air.

Wow.

Several years ago, someone let the air freshener people off their leash and now they’re running wild, developing one product after another in an effort that we should all, as law-abiding, non-stinky Americans, take offense to.

To me, it’s like if someone offers you a mint.

Isn’t there something subliminal about that?

I know there is, because I’ve been that person offering the mint, and I can tell you that there was definitely an ulterior motive in doing so!

So here’s an entire industry offering us various ways to “freshen up” our homes. What are they trying to tell us?

It started with these “plug-in” things—little jobby-dos that you shove into an electrical socket. Then low voltage sends pretty scents wafting through the air. Not sure what happens during a power outage, though.

It’s a double whammy: no electricity, AND potential household stench in the air!


The latest in air freshener technology: the motion detector spray
I come from an era where the fanciest we got with air fresheners was the wiggly, squishy, gelatin-like “solid” that would sit on a table top or kitchen counter, gradually wasting away until it resembled a crusty piece of food left in the back of the fridge.

Then they came out with “stick ups” — discs backed with double-stick tape that you’d place in closets, cupboards, etc.

Fast forward to the 21st century.

Liquid fresheners, battery-powered, simmering away. Spritzy gadgets shooting a spray into the air every so often—usually plugged in and running on low current.

Not to mention the good, old-fashioned spray cans whose duty is usually to futilely mask the after effects of a putrid trip to the bathroom.

Now the motion detector item.

Just how smelly do these people think we are?

With all these gizmos and gadgets whirring away and motion detecting and spritzing and bubbling and wafting, there must be some homes of suckers in this country that smell like a citrusy, musky brothel.

I’m all for pleasant-smelling homes, don’t get me wrong. Of course, to me, pleasant-smelling includes the scent of what we had for dinner that night.

But seems to me that an awful lot of science and technology and research and man hours are being spent on freshening the air in our homes.

They should sell those motion detector gadgets to Congress. Those things would be going off constantly.

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Oct
28

New-look Pistons Have Lowest Expectations In Nine Years

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When the Pistons open the home portion of their season on Friday against Oklahoma City, the pre-game fanfare won’t be all that.

No banners to raise. No pre-game speeches. No glow from any division title or from yet another appearance in the conference final. No pride, really, taken from anything that happened last season.

Check that—maybe they could raise a “2008-09: Glad THAT’S Over!” banner.

It’ll be one of those fresh starts with several new faces. So many key players from last season’s drama are gone: coach Michael Curry, whose tenure becomes more soiled by the day thanks to player retrospectives; Allen Iverson, the petulant superstar; Rasheed Wallace, the ticking time bomb; even nice guy Antonio McDyess wears another uniform this year.

The proceedings get underway tonight in Memphis—Iverson’s new haunts—and only Rip Hamilton remains from the sordid love/hate triangle he formed with Curry and Iverson.

Not since 2000-01 have we gone into a Pistons campaign with so little to expect.

That was the George Irvine year, which was followed by Rick Carlisle and instant success in 2001-02.

Not since 2000 have we looked at the Pistons, shrugged, and said, “The playoffs would be nice—but don’t count on it!”

Marty Mornhinweg’s bar isn’t very high.

Or is it?

MLive.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely, guesting on “The Knee Jerks” podcast I have with Big Al, a couple of weeks ago said he sees maybe 50 wins and a sure fire playoff spot for these 2009-10 Pistons.

Blakely likes the Pistons’ blend of veterans and young talent, plus the comfort level of new coach John Kuester, who Blakely said has been looking very head coach-like in training camp—in control, confident, relaxed.

The further Curry’s stint as coach gets in the rearview mirror, the uglier it looks. Kind of the opposite of when you approach the scene of an accident.

Curry had precious little control or respect last year, and that was highlighted once again when Hamilton, of all people, sided with Iverson in blasting the rookie coach for his lack of honesty with players.

“M.C. lied to us a million times,” Hamilton was quoted the other day, talking about discussions Curry had with Iverson and him about playing time and coming off the bench.

Wow—a million times? That’s a lot of talking!

Point received, Rip.

So only Hamilton remains, and he’s impressed me—so far—with his attitude, willingness to lead, and overall excitement over what he feels will be a high-powered (potentially) Pistons offense—what with the additions of free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, plus the maturation of last year’s holdovers and the NBA debuts of rookies like Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko.

Kuester’s team has to defend, though, to have any real chance of attaining Blakely’s projection of 50 wins and playoffs. Trouble is, Kuester and his teams have never been attached to the word “defense,” at least not with a pin. Maybe with worn out Velcro.


New set of Pistons: Gordon (left) and Villanueva


Yet they talked about it a lot in camp, did Kuester and his players, and now there’s even some scuttlebutt that oldtimer Ben Wallace, signed from near-retirement this summer, might be a starter once again. Big Ben’s presence in the paint has, once again, been producing rebounds, blocked shots, and batted away passes. In the exhibition season.

Kuester told us several months ago that he believed Wallace to still have something left in the tank. And Ben’s play during the pretend games hasn’t belied that.

But there are 82 “real” games to play, and Wallace isn’t a spring chicken.

As you probably know, I really don’t do predictions here. But if you gave me one of those “do it or the girl gets it” threats, I’ll tell you that 42-44 wins seems realistic. Whether that’s good enough to make the playoffs, I don’t know.

“I don’t know.” That might as well be the Pistons’ slogan for this season.

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Oct
27

The Fall of the Autumn Empire

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I’m about ready to put autumn on a milk carton.

“HAVE YOU SEEN ME?”

You remember autumn, don’t you? Fall? That once-lovely season wedged between summer and winter, like a crutch that we know can’t possibly last but we’re happy to use it as long as we can, anyway.

Fall—with its once-crisp, sunny days and crunchy leaves beneath your feet, the subtle smell of someone burning them, not too far away.

Fall—when you get into your car after it’s been under the sun and turn on the A/C, only to have to turn the heat on the next morning when you hop in.

What’s all this about global warming?

And who is the bloody Brit who moved here and brought his weather along with him?

Or maybe the invader came from our left flank, from Seattle. Maybe a Starbucks wonk?

Regardless, this is the worst fall on record in Michigan, nudging out last year’s, which surpassed the year’s prior to that.

In fact, where have any of our seasons gone? We used to have four of them in this state, you know. And they used to be dilineated. Now, they sort of run into each other. The only discernible one is winter, that Old Man who can’t help but be the snow white elephant in the room.

Back in the day, I loathed the end of summer, but I was happy to see it followed by fall—and not just because of football. Mostly I liked the crispness—those days with highs in the 60s and lows in the upper-40s. Sunshine and blue sky for as far as you can see. The air was intoxicating.

Football, yes, but also cider mills and caramel apples and the brilliant colors.


Remember THIS?

Raking, I wasn’t so fond of, but now we live in Madison Heights and they just let you dump the leaves into the street, a foot or so away from the curb. Funny how Warren wasn’t able to purchase any of those leaf-sucking gizmos. Huh.

But today?

The sun shows itself around these parts as if it’s just passing through, always with somewhere else to go. It teases us but then looks at its watch and says, “Sorry, gotta run!” and its dorky, dreary companion babysits us.

This thing of overcast skies, seemingly constant dampness and tiny windows inside which you’re allowed to clear your lawn of leaves is getting old and we’re not even out of October yet.

I don’t know what’s happened to autumn but this ain’t what I remember from even four, five years ago.

And it’s following a summer that wasn’t really anything to write home about, either—though I didn’t miss the 90 degree days all that much. Still, too much rain. To me.

And while you’re at it, let me know if you see spring. I miss it, as well. But that’s a whole other rant.

I’m not unreasonable here. I know there’s going to be some rain during fall. I know the sun can’t be out all the time. But the amount of time we spend drenched in sunshine seems to be dwindling every autumn, while the hours where squinting isn’t required are starting to pile up.

Just call us London West. Or Seattle East.

Rain keeps dripping into my cup of cider and it’s making me cranky.

Categories : Enotes, society, weather
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They don’t win championships in Philadelphia. If they do, it’s a fluke—something that someone pulled over on God.

Every three decades or so, one of the teams will screw up the ecosystem and snatch a title out from under fate’s nose.

What’s happening now is a travesty. The Phillies are in the World Series for the second year in a row. What’s worse, they actually won it last year.

This is all wrong. Philadelphia is a city full of miscreants and crabapples, with a fan base so jaded and tormented that it makes John McEnroe look like Dale Carnegie.

Philadelphia—City of Chumps, not Champs.

The biggest winner in Philly is Rocky, and he’s not even real.

The football Eagles annually tease and flirt with their fans, batting their eyelashes and giving the “come hither” look, only to turn into Margaret Thatcher once in the bedroom.

The Eagles last won the NFL Championship in 1960. Before that, 1940 something. It took them 20 years after the ’60 title to get to the Super Bowl. Then it took over a dozen years to get there again.

The Flyers won their last Stanley Cup in 1975. They’ve made it to the Finals five times since then, but not since 1997.

The last time the 76ers were world champs of the NBA was in 1983.

It took the Phillies about a hundred years to win their first World Series, in 1980. Took them another 28 years before they’d win their second, which is about the schedule they run on in Philadelphia—an accidental title every generation or so.

This is the City of Brotherly Love—as defined by fourth graders.

The late, great sportswriter Jim Murray professed his love for Philly’s acerbic personality this way: “When a plane lands in Philadelphia, everyone gets on; no one gets off.”

They booed Mike Schmidt in Philadelphia, which is only like Detroit booing Al Kaline, for cripe’s sakes.

Philly is also the home of Temple University, which last had a good football team before they came out with electricity, just about.

The Phillies are messing everything up now.

Needless to say, the Phillies have never won back-to-back World Series—unless you want to strike every Series from 1981 to 2007 from the record books. Then in that case, yeah, they have.

But here they are, two-time National League champions, awaiting either the New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Angels.

This can’t be happening. The Phillies are going against nature, or at the very least, the baseball gods. It’s like that episode of The Brady Bunch in Hawaii when Peter finds the tiki, disturbing something all-powerful.

If the Phillies take leave of their senses and win the World Series again this year, then we’re officially closer to the Apocalypse. One of the Horsemen will have been slain.

Philadelphia can’t possibly handle two championships in a row, anyway. Back-to-back is what they do in New York (Yankees), what they do in Detroit (Pistons, Red Wings), what they do in Chicago (Bulls). Heck, they’ve even done it in San Antonio, which is famous for the Alamo, of all things.

But Philadelphia is as equipped for two straight Phillies World Series titles as a toddler is for his first solid food being a bowl of chili.

They don’t win championships in Philadelphia because the fans there don’t deserve them. It’s further proof that there are deities among us.

Sports fans in Philadelphia are petulant, unreasonable, paranoid, and mean-spirited. Unless you catch them on a good day and they’re just being jealous and unappreciative.

Philadelphia—which gave us the 1964 Phillies, who couldn’t find the handle on a six-game lead with 12 games to play and blew the pennant to St. Louis, which as a baseball city is to Philadelphia what, in fine cuisine, lobster is to beef jerky.

St. Louis wouldn’t dream of booing Stan Musial, either.

Philadelphia is the city that gave us Terrell Owens, and for that alone it deserves locusts descending on it.

The teams in Philadelphia have lost so much, have failed in such grand scale so often, that when their epic, abysmal championship droughts are actually broken with Halley’s Comet-like frequency, as was done by last year’s Phillies, it’s only natural to start looking for pestilence.

But if the Phillies of 2009 are going to put us all in mortal danger by winning their second straight World Series, then it may as well be with the team they have—which is pretty darn exciting, and good.

There’s first baseman Ryan Howard, a slugger of Herculean strength, who doesn’t hit home runs, he makes them with his bare hands. There’s center fielder Shane Victorino, who covers so much real estate in the outfield that you should call him Century 22.

There’s right fielder Jayson Werth, the feast or famine kid who can blow you away with his power or with the wind from his frequent whiffs. But guaranteed that you stick around for his at-bat, regardless.

There’s the pesky double play combo of 2B Chase Utley and SS Jimmy Rollins, two guys who can flash leather and then knock in the game-winning run on any given day.

There’s veteran LF Raul Ibanez, who turned 37 this summer but it’s all in your mind. Ibanez stroked 34 homers.

The top three starting pitchers are Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, and Cole Hamels. You can do worse.

The closer is Brad Lidge, who actually “gets” what being an athlete playing in Philadelphia is all about. For Lidge went from being 41-for-41 in save opportunities with a 1.95 ERA in 2008, to being 31-for-42 in 2009, despite an ERA in the thin high air of 7.21 in 2009.

Attaboy, Brad! You knew better than to put together two fabulous seasons in a row. You’re a Phillie, after all.

Batten down the hatches. The Phillies are in the World Series again, and it only took them a year to get back there this time instead of a generation. As Neil Diamond once sang, pack up the babies and grab the old ladies!

Cuz everyone knows it’s the City of Brotherly Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.

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Oct
23

Tigers Caught in the Middle for 2010?

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Strength in the middle.

It’s been bantied about in all the major team sports.

NBA championships, folks used to say by rote, can’t be won without a dominant big man clogging up the middle. It’s not required nowadays, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Strong interior blocking, in the middle of the offensive line, is indispensable when it comes to establishing a ground game in the NFL. Conversely, superior middle linebackers have been the hallmark of countless championship platoons, too.

Hockey’s glamour guys are the flashy centers—the fancy playmakers who can also score.

And in baseball?

You’ve heard it countless times: “One of the reasons why (insert team) are so successful is because they’re strong up the middle!”

The middle being, of course, catcher/shortstop/second base/center field.

The 1968 Tigers were 3/4 strong up the middle, with Bill Freehan behind the plate, Dick McAuliffe at second base, and Mickey Stanley in center field. It was only light-hitting shortstop Ray Oyler who was the exception.

The ’84 Tigers were exemplary up the middle: Lance Parrish/Lou Whitaker/Alan Trammell/Chet Lemon.

The 2010 Tigers might look like this in those four positions: Gerald Laird/Scott Sizemore/Adam Everett/Curtis Granderson.

Doesn’t exactly send chills down the spines of opponents.

There’s Laird with his gifted cannon for an arm, and that’s nice. But there’s nothing in his bat other than rally-killing outs.

Everett and fellow SS Ramon Santiago, together, make up an average player at best.

Sizemore, if he replaces free agent Placido Polanco, has never played an inning in the big leagues.

Granderson is coming off an awful 2009 campaign.

If the 2010 Tigers are going to remain in the mix in the Central Division—forget anything beyond that for now—they’ll have to be better in these key “up the middle” positions.

Getting more production out of LF, RF, and DH won’t hurt, either.

But they say you have to be good down the pike, so let’s put our focus there.

Laird is likely to remain the starting catcher, because even though rookie Alex Avila seems to have the bigger stick, the Tigers are enamored with Laird’s gunning down of opposing base runners. I think they’re scared to death to NOT have Laird in there, for fear that they’ll lose a ton of games due to base thefts.

Not sold on that premise, but I do realize how good Laird is at what he does when it comes to throwing a baseball.

Sizemore seems set to take Polanco’s place. It’s unlikely that Jarhead will return in 2010, because the Tigers don’t want to tie up any more dough than they have to in players. Sizemore comes a whole lot cheaper, mainly because he’s a green horn. But you never know how it’s going to go with rookies as starters.

Everett is a free agent as well. His glove is good, but he’s another who gives you virtually nothing offensively. Santiago brings more to the table with the bat, and holds his own defensively. But he’s never really been a full-time player in the big leagues.

The Tigers need to address shortstop, for sure.

We can only hope that Granderson’s 2009 season was an anomaly. If so, then center field shouldn’t be an issue.

So, to review: a good field, no hit catcher; a good field, no hit shortstop; a rookie second baseman; a (we hope) rebounding center fielder.

The Tigers, at least, have what they feel is a capable replacement at 2B in Sizemore, already in the organization.

If I had my druthers, I’d like to see Avila get more playing time, with Laird brought in for defensive purposes late in tight games. I’m fine with Sizemore, because you have to see what you got with him. I want a different shortstop. And I want Granderson to work hard at his game, which I’m sure he will.

The Tigers, right now, are less-than-average “up the middle.” I have a sneaking suspicion that such a deficiency contributed greatly to their house of cards collapsing in September.

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Oct
23

When Soup Was On

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His name was Soupy, but his game was pies.

He was Milton Supman by birth, and like so many stars of that era, his stage name was a cocktail of nicknames and nods to others.

Soupy Sales is gone, passed away at 83 and it would be nice if you had lunch today in his honor. Then, maybe tonight, take a pie in the face to top off the day.

Comedian Sales took, by his unofficial count, about 9,000 pies in the kisser over the years, beginning in the 1950s when he burst onto the scene in Detroit, hosting “Lunch with Soupy.”

The pie-in-the-face routine wasn’t invented by Sales, but no one made it more famous than he. It got so big that stars the likes of Frank Sinatra, no less, would line up to take a pie from Soupy, who wasn’t always the recipient—he could play perpetrator, too.

Soupy Sales was minding his own business as Milton Supman, child of a Jewish dry goods merchant who had emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1894, when his older brothers attained the nicknames Ham Bone and Chicken Bone.

They started calling Milton “Soup Bone,” which eventually got shortened to “Soupy.” Then, while working in radio as a DJ, Milton Supman went by the stage name Soupy Hines. Though spelled differently, Hines sounded just like the famous ketchup and pickle company, so the last name was changed to Sales, after old-time comedian Chic Sale.

Got it?

I’m too young to have grown up having “Lunch with Soupy,” the show he hosted from the studios of WXYZ-TV in Detroit from 1953-59. By 1960, the show had gone national, and Soupy moved to Los Angeles.

“I didn’t want to be an old man, wondering if I could have made it in another market,” Soupy once said.

The show was live, at lunchtime, and though it was targeted at children, lots of those kids’ parents sat and watched, too. The success of the lunchtime show spawned an 11 p.m. version for the adults, which was a variety show with some sketch comedy.

But maybe the thing that truly brought Soupy Sales to the national fore was a stunt he pulled on New Year’s Day in 1965.

Irked that he was working on a holiday, Sales urged his young viewers to go into their still-sleeping parents’ bedrooms and “take all the green pieces of paper with presidents’ pictures on them” and mail them to him.

“Then I’ll send you a post card from Puerto Rico!,” Soupy said on the air.

He never imagined the joke would be taken seriously.

But it did. Within days, money started being received in New York, where Soupy was doing his show at the time, from WNEW-TV. An embarrassingly large amount of money rolled in.

The cash was donated to charity, but WNEW management suspended Soupy. There was an uproar—protests and even picketing—and Sales was reinstated. And much more famous than ever before.

Soupy wasn’t just Soupy, which was entertaining enough. He developed a bunch of characters and penned some novelty songs, like “The Mouse,” which I was caught on 8mm film depicting in one of those silent home movies my parents shot of me in the mid-1960s. Sales even performed “The Mouse” on Ed Sullivan’s show.


Soupy Sales doing “The Mouse,” circa the mid-1960s


There was a brief feud in the 1980s with fellow WNBC radio personality Howard Stern, who shared a studio with Sales and who would complain about the condition in which Soupy left things by the time Stern went on the air. Stern, in 1985, pretended to cut the strings in Soupy’s studio piano, but it was just to “torture” Sales; Stern never harmed the instrument.

Stern, years later, regretted his little tiff with Sales because Soupy was one of Stern’s childhood heroes.

The 1970s and ’80s saw Soupy Sales become a big game show guy, appearing on many of them—usually What’s My Line, Match Game, and Pyramid. Those and other pseudo-reality shows like Almost Anything Goes were good places to find Soupy.

Sales also participated in a TV ad campaign for Big Boys Restaurants and their homemade pies. Guess how those commercials ended?

Sales died in a hospice, afflicted with what was called “numerous” ailments.

Maybe Big Boys can offer up a special in his memory: a bowl of soup and a slice of pie.

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Oct
22

Hair Cuts

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The haircut is dying a slow, shaggy death.

Say goodbye to another of our traditions: the lazy, chatty time spent in the barber’s chair.

If you think our depressed economy hasn’t cut through several swathes of Americana, think again.

“People wait longer,” my barber Vito told me last time I was in the chair. “Instead of six weeks they might go eight, or longer, between cuts.”

It should be noted that Vito told me this as I was a few weeks tardy for my own shearing.

It all adds up. More and more people waiting longer and longer between haircuts, and the corner barber shop starts feeling the pinch.

Vito’s been cutting my hair for several years, over at Filary’s on Dequindre in Warren. He gained me as a customer after the previous owner died unexpectedly.

Vito’s a Brooklyn kid, though he’s no longer a kid, I suppose. He’s been here long enough to call himself a Detroiter, though.

A year or so ago, Filary’s started closing on Wednesdays, in addition to the traditional “barber’s weekend” of Sundays and Mondays off. Slumping business was the impetus behind that decision.

So it’s a four-day barber, and when did you think you’d ever see that?

It’s not just Filary’s.

“I have friends who are barbers and they’re hurting too,” I remember Vito telling me. “Some don’t even go to a barber anymore. They’ll do it themselves, or have a family member cut their hair.”

Here’s another thing that I didn’t think of right away.

“No one’s going on job interviews anymore,” Vito said, and he’s right. “So that’s one less reason to get a haircut.”

The trickle down theory of economics; but you know what else trickles down, don’t you?

The barber shop used to be a place to find the pulse of this country. All over, from coast to coast, on Saturday mornings, you could do a better, more genuine poll of this country’s politics in the barber shop than anything Gallup could come up with.

When I mosey in to Filary’s, there’s rarely anyone ahead of me. Vito is almost always “between” customers.

Didn’t used to be that way. Saturday was usually the day you avoided if you didn’t like crowds before your haircut.

Now, Saturday isn’t all that different from Tuesday or Thursday or Friday. And that’s not a good thing.

In fact, the next time I see Vito, he’s going to need himself a lawn mower, I think.

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Oct
21

Osgood’s No. 30 Ought to be in Rafters Post-Retirement

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So this much we know.

One evening, in the not-too-distant future, fans will look to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena—or wherever the Red Wings will be playing by then—and see a large red “jersey” with a white No. 5 and the name “LIDSTROM” adorning it, the years played for the Red Wings listed below it, in red on a white band.

That much we know.

But, and I know my timing isn’t great here, I submit that those same fans should also be able to crane their necks and see a big red swatch of fabric with a white No. 30 and the name “OSGOOD” sewn onto it.

You heard me.

It’s a few weeks into the NHL regular season, and that may turn some people on, but this is the perfect time to be an argument starter, if you ask me. Let these October games drone on in the background while we muck it up in the corner, figuratively speaking.

Chris Osgood’s number retired? You betcha.

By the time he hangs them up for good, Osgood will have likely passed the great Terry Sawchuk for most wins by a Red Wings goaltender. For starters.

He has three Stanley Cups, two earned as the starter throughout the playoffs—and ten years apart, which must be some sort of record, somewhere.

Your honor, the defense rests.

Oh, I know I’ll have to do some cross-examining here. I can practically hear the keyboards being pounded on furiously by those opposed to me. That’s OK. Nothing is ever a slam dunk when it comes to Chris Osgood’s virtues in Detroit.

I don’t know why some are so resistant to back off and just accept that Osgood has had a fine career. The arguments against him have turned almost spiteful and personal, and I have no idea why.

The naysayers talk like this: The Red Wings win in spite of him, especially in 1998. He has great teams in front of him, so that’s why his numbers look so good. Blah-blah-blah.

As if Sawchuk played with a bunch of chopped liver back in the day.

I promise you, it’s OK to give Osgood his due. It really is. I promise the sun will rise tomorrow, and in the east. No children or pets will be harmed. Promise.

And it’s also OK to not only give him his due, but to also raise his number among the team’s all-time greats because—and here’s where it really gets fun—Chris Osgood is, in fact, one of the team’s all-time greats.

Let’s play a little game.

Name me three goalies in team history better than Osgood. Just three, other than Sawchuck.

I’ll even play along with you.

There was the kewpie doll-faced Harry Lumley, who was between the pipes during the Red Wings’ successful 1950 Stanley Cup run. Lumley won 163 games for the Red Wings in six seasons (1944-50). I might give you that one out of benevolence.

There was Mike Vernon, with his 1997 Cup. But Mike didn’t play in Detroit very long, and I’m not sure he was all that much better, if at all, than Ozzie.

Here’s one: Dominik Hasek. It’s hard not to give you Dom, although he wasn’t a Red Wing all that long. But you almost have to include him because of his overall career.

So you have Lumley, Vernon, and Hasek. I’d scratch Vernon. And Hasek gets the nod mostly for his time in Buffalo.

Any others?

The question begs: Why wouldn’t you so honor the second-best goalie in franchise history?

Because that’s what Chris Osgood is, like it or not.

I’m putting Ozzie ahead of Lumley because of longevity, and I’m even slotting him in front of Hasek for the same reason, though I wouldn’t squawk if you put Dom ahead of Osgood.

But you’re not going to raise Hasek’s No. 39 to the rafters because he wasn’t a Red Wing long enough.

The Osgood haters spew the same tired arguments, already listed above. And it’s not a very long list anyhow.

How exactly do the Red Wings win in spite of Chris Osgood?

The team surrendered nearly three goals a game during the regular season last year, an unheard of number in Detroit. Osgood was largely to blame for that, and he wouldn’t argue. But the Red Wings came within a whisker of winning another Cup.

Why? Because Osgood raised his game several notches, and was a genuine Conn Smythe candidate until the Penguins captured Game Seven.

This is going to draw more venom, but I’m telling you that Chris Osgood is the greatest money goalie I’ve ever seen in Detroit. Bar none, even Hasek.

No one bounced back from bad games like Osgood. No one came up bigger in more pressure situations than Osgood. And no one was as unflappable as Osgood is between the pipes, because no one was better between the ears.

Give me Chris Osgood if I need a game to be won, over anyone who’s ever worn a Red Wings jersey, save for Sawchuk, who was the best ever, regardless of decade or era or generation.

Retiring his No. 30 and raising it to sway above the ice along with Yzerman and Lindsay and Howe and Abel and Delvecchio and Sawchuk and (eventually) Lidstrom is a no-brainer, as far as I’m concerned.

Go ahead. Make your case.

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It was slightly truncated, thanks to that wacky server at Blog Talk Radio, but we managed 50 delightful minutes with colorful broadcaster Bob Page last night on “The Knee Jerks”, my weekly sports gabfest with Big Al from The Wayne Fontes Experience.

Bob was in rare form, regaling us with one story after another about old school Detroit sports. For anyone older than 30, especially, this was even better than Bob’s appearance in mid-July. And for the youngens? You’ll learn a thing or two!

Sadly, BTR’s server crashed around 11:51 p.m., and we were forced to halt the proceedings.

But it was a terrific 50 minutes, and I urge you to check it out!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, for updates on scheduled guests, time changes, etc.

Next week’s guest: (tentative) Former Detroit Lions great Alex Karras!

Upcoming guests:

Oct. 26 Former Lions great Alex Karras (tentative, but we’re guardedly optimistic!)
Nov. 2 Jose Canseco (yes, THE Jose Canseco!!)
Nov. 9 TBA (but likely a Red Wings beat writer)

You can listen to the shorter-than-usual episode by clicking below!


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