The Uncle I Wish I’d Known Better

July 21, 2009

I don’t recall our family as being committed to a specific network for the evening news. In fact, I more clearly remember the local newscasters than the national ones.

These days, I’m a borderline news junkie, but my preference is reading various news sites online.

(and, yes, if I’m ever on a presidential ticket and Katie Couric has the unmitigated gall to ask, I’m ready to name which outlets I peruse)

However, growing up I mostly remember watching the local news, usually the 11 o’clock edition, and – since this was pre-ESPN – it was essentially for the sports report.

So, the death of Walter Cronkite stirs, really, no memories for me. As such, it has been fascinating to watch old clips and interviews with him, though.

The man read the news. He didn’t raise his voice or weep. He had no snazzy graphics and no magic boards. He didn’t wander a set like some deranged game show host.

It seemed to be little more than facts and information and there seemed to be no effort whatsoever to entertain.

It is astounding that anyone knew what the hell was going on.

(no wonder that people believed the world to be flat)

To be serious, I think I would have enjoyed tuning in each evening to Walter Cronkite. Watching the footage of him, his appeal was obvious and it was understandable why he was held in such high regard.

The calm, matter-of-fact delivery was soothing. His unassuming manner reminded me of my favorite college professors, the ones who made me feel as though they wanted me to take the puzzle pieces and put them together for myself.

It’s a wonder that integrity hasn’t filed a suit against the talking heads roaming the television newscape these days on Walter Cronkite’s behalf.

(of course, I suppose integrity wouldn’t be litigious)

I was smack dab in the midst of junior high when Walter Cronkite retired in March, 1981. Some of the songs I was hearing at the time…

Blondie – Rapture
from Autoamerican

While some of my early favorites hold little appeal to me now aside from nostalgia, Blondie’s stature has only grown as my tastes have matured. Musical chameleons fronted by Debbie Harry, whose non-musical charms had us equally as captivated, Rapture was the introduction to hip-hop for many kids of my generation.

ABBA – The Winner Takes It All
from Super Trooper

ABBA and T. Rex occupy a similar niche in my music world. I could probably distill both to a dozen songs (most of which I never tire of), but I own way more of both act’s work than I truly need.

That said, The Winner Takes It All is a shimmering tower of melancholy. The song is every bit as grim as Trent Reznor’s stuff and Agnetha really belts it to the back row.

Phil Seymour – Precious To Me
from Phil Seymour

Paloma and I snagged one of Phil Seymour’s two solo albums on vinyl a while back and I keep meaning to check it out (and forgetting). If it’s half as good as his lone hit, it will be well worth the money.

April Wine – Just Between You And Me
from The Nature Of The Beast

Rush, Triumph, Loverboy…sometimes April Wine…the American Midwest loved Canadian rock bands in the early ’80s (at least this was the case in my part of the Midwest).

From the opening riff, Just Between You And Me makes me think of certain older kids in my hometown, usually noted ne’er-do-wells, smoking cigarettes and blaring the song from their Camaros.