As with many things, the pandemic curtailed our Video Road Tests for a while. Finally, we’re carefully slipping back behind some new steering wheels and the first of our new road tests, the 2021 Lexus NX 300h F Sport Blackline, is now posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.
This Lexus is a VERY limited edition. Only 1000 of these vehicles are being made. Does that exclusivity translate into something special? Just click this link to take a drive with us and see for yourself.
As always, don’t forget, if you want to check some of our previous road tests and some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.
August 16th…that’s the day Elvis fans remember where they were and how they heard the news that Elvis had died. I am one of those people but, now I’ll always remember August 16th, 2021 as the day my dear sweet Daddy died. The one thing I can thank the pandemic for is the chance to have him under our roof living safely in our care since 2019.
My Dad, John C. Putman, was born on July 8, 1934. He grew up in Dyersburg, Tennessee one of eight children. Life wasn’t easy in a big family growing up on the mill grounds. As a mature-for-his age teenager he was trained as a movie theater projectionist and was so well liked he ended up managing a chain of movie theaters in west Tennessee. He enjoyed regaling us with tales of those days especially meeting many of the movie cowboy heroes like “Lash” LaRue who would stop in the theater for their latest movie release.
While working in the movie theaters the then cocky teenager met and married his one and only true love, Gayla (Joyce) the popcorn girl. Their almost 60 year life together set the bar very high for what defines a well lived and well loved marriage. I was their only child, their honeymoon baby, named after Dad.
After moving to Chicago, in 1959, Dad knocked around at a number of jobs finally landing with a company he loved working for and retired early from when A. B. Dick Company was going out of business. He maintained many friendships he made in the three decades he worked there.
As a child I always thought of my Dad as a quiet man who made friends easily but, we really saw him blossom when he and Mom started spending time in Panama City Beach, Fl. It wasn’t uncommon for people to ask if he was a politician when they met him in Golden Corrall, Po’ Folks restaurant or Winn-Dixie. You see, he would walk right up to strangers, strike up a conversation, shake hands and if babies were around ask if he could kiss them too! In PCB he flourished. He finally confided in me that even though he’d lived in Chicago since 1960 he was very self conscious about his southern accent which he never lost. I saw it a hundred times throughout my childhood, someone would ask “where you from” and he would clam up but, in the Florida Panhandle he didn’t have an accent, he sounded like everyone else! Eventually, he embraced his accent along with his silver goatee he would enjoy being told he could be Col. Sanders!
He wasn’t athletic, never really liked sports but, thanks to Steve’s southside roots we adopted the White Sox during lockdown. He eventually looked forward to games the three of us would watch together. He was superstitious enough that he would watch a game to the bitter end for fear of jinxing the Sox.
He loved to cook and prided himself in being able to taste a food and tell you exactly what the ingredients were. He loved setting an attractive table and making food pleasing to the eye even if that meant carving roses out of radishes for garnish. Yet, with his love of cooking his favorite food was always a good ol’ Chicago hotdog.
He was an avid coin and knife collector for 50 plus years. Over the years he amassed an impressive collection of both. His idea of a good Saturday afternoon, if there were no westerns he hadn’t seen on tv, he would haul out the collections and lovingly go over coins or knives and usually find something new to excite him about them.
During 2020 when he was staying safe at home life could be boring…some days his favorite judge shows were turned off so he could catch up with friends and his sisters Linda and Wilma and brother Bill. They were always available to take their big brother’s phone calls.
He loved flowers. From the first peony popping open to daisies, coneflowers hydrangeas and roses he was excited to see them open in our garden. In recent years he did more maintenance, watering of the flowers but, he still loved being in the garden. Even if he was spending time at his condo in Florida, he always wanted to be back home in Chicago in time for Spring planting. While in Fl he did spend some delightful afternoons along with his buddy, Doc, being two of the only men in the PCB Garden Club.
His Florida lifestyle was quite different than life in the Chicago area. He enjoyed starting the day with his morning coffee while reading the paper (he had to have a daily paper!) on his condo balcony overlooking the gulf and watching sunsets from the same location. During the day, walks and a busy schedule of events with friends were his norm with a stop by our little yellow house for coffee and good conversation while sitting on the front porch. He said his visits were always made more enjoyable if Steve would be strumming a guitar while we chatted.
Dad was wild about New Orleans. His favorite trips were those he took with, our dear extended family friend, Steve Dokken (Doc) to the Crescent City. He often talked about how he just felt at home there. He loved the food, the music and frequently joked about “Sunshine,” a Cajun Queen he claimed waited for him in the Big Easy.
Dad had a wonderful sense of humor that never failed to materialize when he thought one of his off the cuff, not off color, comments would shock you the most.
In 1973 I was hospitalized after major surgery. After his first visit he was formally banned from entering my room! He would step in the door and within minutes I would be laughing hysterically while moaning in pain because I had a stomach full of stitches. The staff told him since he couldn’t behave himself he’d have to stay out. He did. Nurses were some of his favorite people.
He enjoyed all genres of music and I often thought his one regret was he never learned to play an instrument. He talked of having a mandolin as a child but, he never pursued playing it. His playlist included Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Stones (we regret never getting him to a concert) and Chuck Berry, among others. If given a chance he would happily turn you on to an all time favorite tune, Bill Anderson’s “It’s Not My Job To Tote Your Monkey.” Yet, along with seeing the Stones, seeing an opera someday was on his bucket list. The Lyric Opera of Chicago‘s closure due to the pandemic cancelled his plans to join them for an evening.
He loved shopping, jewelry and clothes.
In his world if the event called for a smart, fitted sport coat, a colorful dress shirt (which he collected) and shoes to match then he was”dressed to the nines” and ready for anything. If there were females around, young and old chances were good they’d strike up a conversation asking about his cool shirt or his red shoes!
In recent years life was a roller coaster of up and down health events and, exactly one week before he left us, over his morning coffee, he shocked me when he said he thought things were coming to an end. I said, “the end of the world?” He softly chuckled and said no, he didn’t want to make me sad but he did want me to know he was ready. He then changed the subject.
I was so fortunate to not only be with him everyday for almost two years but, the weekend before he passed was the final weekend the hospital was allowing one visitor a day for anytime during an 8 hours period each day. I spent all that time with him for three days. On Sat. we talked a few times throughout the day then he would tell me he needed to nap a bit. Then Monday the 16th the hospital went back to the Covid restrictions of one visitor for one hour a day. I stepped into his room just as he took his final breath. I know he knew I was there.
Steve and I dreaded the day he would leave us but, we are comforted that he did it the way he often said he wanted to by just closing his eyes and going to sleep.
Someday in his memory wear that piece of clothing or jewelry you thought was “too much”, have a Chicago dog with the works (no ketchup), try a gin and tonic but, make it Bombay Sapphire, listen to the Stones, talk to a stranger and make your kids laugh so hard YOU should be reprimanded.
My Daddy will be loved and missed by us and many forever.
More staring at the revolving turntable as I soaked up the feel of the music jumping from the speakers. Yep, good lyrics, great rockabilly guitar work and the flip side, “Honey Don’t,” let me know Carl had more to say and play. Again, I wanted a lot more of this in my life.
This was exciting stuff!
Now, as of July 26th, 2021, a third significant 78 has entered my life’s playlist. I don’t know what the lyrics or melody will be yet but, I can say, I’m just as excited to hear it.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I better make sure my guitars are tuned up.
The question that started the conversation was “Have we really not driven down to the WGN radio studios since the pandemic began?”
As preoccupied as we were with figuring out what was going on when everything first went south, navigating the new reality, figuring out our own “at risk” positions in that new reality, staying safe when we got a sense of what the lay of the land was, determining how, when and where to get vaccinated, getting vaccinated and … well, many of you know the drill.
Point is, while there have been times during the pandemic that we’ve been heard on the mighty 720, those appearances were transmitted from the safety of our home “bubble” and we didn’t realize how long it had been since we’d last actually set foot inside the friendly confines of our long time Chicago radio home.
But, finally, at the behest of Johnnie’s cousin, Lake Scott, a budding sportscaster, here we were to spend a little time with long time friend, WGN sports guru, Andy Masur, who was nice enough to set aside some of his time to share some thoughts on how to navigate the path Lake wants to embark on.
We had just parked and were waiting for the elevator to take us from the parking garage up to the building WGN radio now calls home when the elevator door opened and, proving that timing is everything, out stepped Bob Sirott. It had been much too long since the three of us had been in the same place at the same time so, of course, along with sharing a few stories and some possible future plans, photo documentation of this historic moment had to be obtained.
We took this event as a good omen and, once we completed our ascent to the WGN radio studios, it proved to be just that.
Andy was just finishing up one of his reports so, while he did, we enjoyed re-familiarizing ourselves with the WGN newsroom and introducing Lake to its inhabitants who, like us, couldn’t believe it had been that long since we’d shared in-person greetings.
It was really great to see Andy and, after he wrapped up his report, we headed to studio B where, for the next hour, he went above and beyond generously answering Lake’s questions and providing advice, consent and a successful career’s worth of knowledge to a Florida boy who proudly proclaims his loyalty to the White Sox as he plans his tentative footsteps to baseball parks, football stadiums and, hopefully, broadcast studios.
At the hour’s end, Andy had to make his way back to another studio for a scheduled report, so we gave a still smiling Lake the grand tour of the WGN radio broadcast facilities. While we were making the rounds and saying hello to many long time friends, we were told that, Nexstar President of Networks, Sean Compton heard we were “in the house” and wanted to say hi. He did and, among other things, we enjoyed sharing tales of overnight radio in Chicago and other major markets along with a few Les Paul stories.
Although too much time had transpired between the last time we physically inhabited the WGN radio complex and this visit, the smiling faces and easy conversations made it feel like the last time was just yesterday.
Time well spent with good friends is like that!
Speaking of good friends, before we wrap up this missive, please allow us to again thank Andy Masur. Since we’ve known him, Andy has always been one of the good guys and during our return visit to these “friendly confines,” not surprisingly, he kept going out of his way to try and make us believe he didn’t go out of his way. He kept saying “It was nothing.” when we thanked him for making time available to help a budding young sports broadcaster. Trust us Andy, it was a verybigsomething and Lake underscored that point many times during our drive home.
So, thanks again, Andy. You done good! Next time we see you the pizza is on us.
By the way, as you were reading this blog post, if you noticed that we are not wearing masks in these photos it’s because we were comfortable with the Covid-19 protocols at WGN and it’s surrounding environs. We always have masks with us and, if we feel it’s necessary, we still wear them quite frequently.
Sadly, while like many of you, we’re slowly taking baby steps in the direction of what now passes for “normal” but, we’re well aware that, this still ain’t over and may not be for some time.
When we heard the news, we were very proud and very humbled to receive this award in a category that contained some of the best broadcast talent in Chicago. The other finalists were Felicia Middlebrooks & Pat Cassidy from WBBM-AM and Eric Ferguson & Kathy Hart from WTMX-FM, four very well known and very well respected names from two of Chicago’s top rated morning drive radio shows.
Most of us have heard the oft-repeated “It’s just an honor to be nominated.” And that really is true. But, actually winning this award in this specific category was a particularly memorable moment for us because it put an exclamation point on the “Life After Dark” mantra that was a part of our game plan from the day we were first approached by WGN management about hanging out inside your radio speakers on the nocturnal side of the clock.
BTW, maybe we should take a second or three to point out that, contrary to how some remember it, “Life After Dark” was never the name of our show. Our show was always called “The Steve & Johnnie Show.” “Life After Dark” was just a catch phrase we came up with to help describe the show’s focus. WGN Radio’s promotion and sales departments liked the phrase and quickly began using it to promote and sell our show.
One of our biggest compliments came from WGN’s legendary morning man, Bob Collins. One morning he walked in the studio during a commercial break and told us he’d been listening to us as he drove in and he suddenly really understood what we were doing. “You guys are doing morning drive radio for the overnight audience!”
Along with constructing our show as a landing strip for performers to unwind after a late night gig, we always made sure we covered any breaking news from the Chicago area and any other points on the globe that might be erupting into headline stories for that day. And we did our best to throw in a dose of pop culture news and trends. We always smiled when we’d get a voicemail or email from one of the other morning drive hosts from another Chicago radio station saying that they also listened as they were driving in and considered our show part of their “show prep.”
So, to receive this award, not just for best overnight team but, for Chicago Market Radio’s “Best Local Broadcast Team” and to be grouped with some of the best and highest rated morning drive radio talent in the country .. well, it was one of many professional moments we won’t soon forget.
So, as June rings itself to a close 10 years later, we remembered,
And, because without so many of you being on the other side of those radio speakers, this moment wouldn’t have happened, we just wanted to say thank you and share the memory with you.
We thought hanging out with John was going to be fun and BOY WAS IT!! If you’d like to hear the entire, unedited, interview, just click on this link.
By the way, along with several other people, John has suggested that the song should be in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Well, I suppose if Quentin reallyinsisted …
Also, because we’re fortunate enough to have readers following this blog from all over the world, and quite often the people behind the videos and web sites care enough to post lyrics to “Satan Is Her Name” and, sadly, whether because of problems in translation or my rock & roll diction, sometimes get them wrong, for future reference, here are the lyrics as I originally wrote and sang them.
Satan is the name she goes by
There’s a lotta devil in her eye
Kiss of fire that burns you well
She breaks your heart and it hurts like .. words can’t tell
Lady In Black, they call her
Your eyes can’t believe that’s all her
Got to fall, though you know your fate
The eyes of love soon change to .. the eyes of hate
Old hands or beginners
With her there are no winners
She pulls your heart strings until they snap
Breaks your heart, but you know you’d .. crawl right back
Finally, in the previous post about “Satan Is Her Name” I shared a few of the recent versions of the song and, since some very creative artists interpretations continue to populate the web, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to share a couple more.
I know nothing about Eric G., but I really like what he did with it.
I’m also not familiar with The H. Martin, but I like how they stayed close to my original arrangement while taking it in their own direction.
One of the many interesting aspects of hearing these new versions is that, as I continue to work on an album, I’m giving serious thought to doing my own update of the song.
Now, if only I could find a sexy female voice do do the “Ooooh! Lover!” part.
One of the many things I loved (And, even though it’s been many years, still love) about my Dad was his sense of humor. If you’ll humor me, I’d like to share a story to illustrate the point.
Along with working days at U. S. Steel South Works, on Chicago’s South Side, my Dad worked many nights as the owner/operator of his own TV/Radio repair business. Frequently, Saturdays included a visit to the local Allied (pre-Radio Shack) store to stock up on tubes and other things. A very young me would usually be at my Dad’s side. A very young me was usually dressed in some degree of cowboy attire. One Saturday, as we walked up to the counter, the young me was at my Dad’s side wearing my cowboy hat and bandana. The man behind the counter said something like “Hmm … wouldn’t a real cowboy have his guns on?”
I was not a happy cowboy.
The next Saturday, cowboy hat, bandana, holsters filled with my trusty cap guns, the young me again approached the counter at my Dad’s side. The evil doer behind the counter smiled, but lobbed a parting salvo something like “Nice, but you’d think a real cowboy would have a horse.”
The next part of the story is true and I even have the photographic evidence.
The next time we went to the Allied store, the young me was dressed in my usual cowboy attire but, by now, understood that my cowboy hero identity was not to be appreciated in this establishment. My Dad parked and we were walking down the block to the store when the cowboy gods intervened. At the end of the block was a photographer taking photos of kids … on a pony!!!
My Dad got a smile on his face.
I have no idea what magic my Dad worked when we walked up to the photographer. All I know is when we entered the Allied store my Dad was holding the reins and leading the horse with me in the saddle as I rode up to the counter!!!!
As I recall, the evil doer threw up his hands, laughed and said “I give up, you win!”
The young me was a very happy cowboy as he rode out of the store and into the sunset that day.
Before we close the door on the month of May, 2021, I (Steve) would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the anniversaries of two events that had a lasting impact on my life.
First, it was 55 years ago, on May 23, 1966, that I started hanging out inside your radio speakers as I began my career in broadcasting at WJOB, in Hammond, IN.
I’ve previously written about that day/night in this blog post, but each year, particularly those putting a significant number on the time stamp, does have the effect of causing a little head shaking and a “Really … that long?” moment. At the time, even though I knew it was a shift in my professional journey, I could never have imagined how big a shift or that it was one of my life’s decisions that I would never regret. As I wrote in another blog post, it was only months later, during the Chicago area’s record breaking snowfall of 1967 that I learned just how important the roll local radio plays can be.
Second, this year marks 20 years since I was first diagnosed with Celiac Sprue (Celiac Disease). To say that diagnosis changed my life is a huge understatement. To those who, though meaning well, say “Oh, I’m so sorry.” trust me, there is nothing to be sorry about. Getting that diagnosis was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I was reminded of this anniversary by various sources posting that May is Celiac Awareness Month.
Looking back on all the years before I was diagnosed, there are numerous health problems and stressful moments which, I can now see, were directly caused by this disease that, at the time, neither I nor my doctors had any knowledge of. For many years, Johnnie and I have posted Gluten-free lifestyle suggestions and recipes in this blog and you can browse them all just by clicking on this link.
Again, life-changing, indeed.
Without these two events would I have had a good/successful/interesting/happy life and, more importantly, met Johnnie? Who knows? What I do know is that I have absolutely no desire to push the rewind button and change either.
Well, it seems the pandemic has claimed another victim. The good news is he’s still with us to tell the tale of the bad news, which is that he’s retiring. He is a legendary, Grammy Award winning, American blues rock master we’re proud to be able to count as a long time friend, Delbert McClinton.
While we certainly can understand and empathize with the reasoning behind the decision, it’s really sad on any of a number of levels that this singularly special talent and human being who has long been a part of our personal and professional lives has made the decision that “this is a good time to retire.”
Delbert’s music was on a mix tape Him made for Her when we were first dating. The song “Sandy Beaches” became a part of our life’s playlist early on and continues to this day.
“Sandy Beaches” also became the name of an annual family reunion cruise Delbert has hosted for 27 years that features an all-star line up of friends sailing the Caribbean and enjoying the heart and soul of American Music.
After being fans for years and having interviewed him by phone several times, our first personal encounter with Delbert took place in WGN radio’s Tribune Tower studios when Delbert and his guitarist, Gary Nicholson, were nice enough to fit an in-person visit with us into the schedule while in town performing at Chicago’s House Of Blues. Even though he was fighting a cold that night, Delbert was in good spirits and performed a couple of songs, one of which (“Better Off With The Blues”) he was nice enough to let us include on our “Life After Dark” cd, which helped raise thousands of dollars for charity.
Fortunately for us, in addition to many more on-air phone interviews, that was the first of many in-person interviews we’ve been privileged to do with Delbert.
Delbert always let us video part of his performance to include with the interviews.
While we’re sorry to learn that Delbert’s retirement announcement means that, with the exception of the 7th annual Big Blues Bender to be held at Westgate Resort & Casino September 9-12, 2021 and the Sandy Beaches Cruise sailing January 15-22, 2023, he won’t be doing any more touring, we hope that he will still find time to spread a little of his magic around the recording studio now and then and share the results with us. Some things are just too good to lose. Delbert’s talent is one of those.
Most importantly, we hope he is able to, as he says, “enjoy my family and travel a bit as it becomes safer. It’s been a great ride.”
It really has and thanks for letting us tag along.