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January 19th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

TRANSITIONS. (This was written when we first moved to our new home in 2014.) It's a cool gray rainy day here, a transitional day, with the remnants of Winter and early signs of Spring. Standing under the edge of our carport I can see almost a mile of tan fields and lines of trees, until the landscape gets lost in the mist. The trees and Spanish moss are moving with the breeze, as are the flags on our street. These are mostly World War Two people and that kind of patriotism doesn't go away, even though the nation has changed over their lifetime. I didn't like Florida for a long time after I landed here. The palms annoyed me. They were foreign and reminded me that I wasn't home; that this was all temporary and I didn't belong here. I could go to almost anywhere up north and not feel like an outsider, but Florida felt unreal... like a movie. As I stood just out of the rain today and took in the palms, the giant oaks in rainy-day colors, and the Spanish Moss like graceful fringe on a gown, it occurred to me that I like it. When did that happen? I still love Buffalo with it's four seasons and the energy in the air, but it's mostly the Buffalo in my memory. The last time we visited there, I enjoyed it, but I had a sense of being outside looking in. The world has changed so much that maybe we all feel a little like strangers at times, but this subtropical place has sneaked up on me and it's started to look right. Maybe I'm home... or as close as I'll ever get. Copyright © January 19, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 12th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

OUR ADVENTURE. In early March, 1970, the phone rang. It was Little Richie Johnson at Wayside Records. He said, "You better get packed. We're selling 50,000 a day!" A month later, on April 4th, our "Tennessee Bird Walk" became the Number One Country record in the world and our life changed completely. A week later on April 11th, it was Number One again, and we were doing a show with Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings. Waylon joked, "Please get off Number One. You're killing my record. " Now a look back at Miami in the Early 1960s. Misty and I had been struggling, mostly broke, and even homeless on the street for a few days. In the mid-1960s we had a trio on the road playing small clubs all over the East and Midwest. Our old car and homemade trailer kept breaking down and taking all the money. Misty was "Mary" then. Then we got lucky and landed a steady job at a Miami supper club, where we met Richard Nixon and other famous people. Things were getting better. We started singing duets, Mary Blanchard became Misty Morgan, and we got a one month booking at a lounge in Key West. Two guys came in and signed us to a four song contract. and we went to Nashville to record. There were no hits, but our song "Bethlehem Steel" made the Billboard Chart, and Wayside Records signed us. In December, 1969, Misty and I were entertaining crowds at Orlando's Everglades lounge and commuting to Nashville to record. We had had another Billboard charted single, "Big Black Bird". We had a steady job, a nice home, and bought a new Corvette. After struggling for years on the road playing low-pay gigs. the stress was off and we were reasonably happy without any big hits. Our song "Big Black Bird" had gotten a Pop Pick in Billboard, along with Aretha Franklin and others the same week, although we considered it Country. Wayside Records got excited and negotiated with Mercury Records for our distribution. Mercury was ready to go with the record, but the master sent to them by Wayside was faulty. They had to call Wayside and wait for another master. Radio stations were ready to play it but had no copies, and the record died. But now we were on Mercury, a major label. With three hit records, 1970 was the wildest year ever. We were doing major network TV shows, state fairs and festivals, recording "Humphrey the Camel", "You've Got Your Troubles, I've Got MIne", and others, and dealing with big time agents and managers. We were disoriented, facing new problems, and on the road all the time. We were often exhausted, and didn't know where we were. The money went through our hands to agents, managers, musicians, roadies, travel expenses, and wardrobe for TV and live shows. Our happiest times were in the studios, recording with great musicians. It was a wonderful year, an exciting year, and a grueling year. Then a bunch of IRS guys showed up at our house. The hard times and the good times made it an adventure. Copyright © January 12, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 5th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

THE LAST DAY. Simon Lescart woke up on his last day, plugged in the coffee maker, and sat down at the computer to check his email. There was the usual spam and forwarded jokes, which he deleted without reading. The sixth message subject line read "Final Notice", and the sender was an acronym, "T.P.T.B." He started to dump it as spam, but for some reason he clicked it open. The message was this: "NOTICE OF EXPIRATION. "Dear Mr. Lescart, "This is an automatic reminder that your life expires at midnight tonight. Please do not try to reply to this email. Have a nice day. Very truly yours, The Powers That Be." Simon tried to reply anyway, but his email bounced back from the "unknown recipient". He knew it must be a stupid joke, but he couldn't stop thinking about it as he fought the city traffic on his way to work. What if this really was his last day? He'd often heard the old saying, "You should live every day as if it were your last." What should a person do on his last day, anyway? Get drunk? Smell some flowers? Confess his sins? What? He didn't have much of a family to visit, just a brother up in Akron and an ex-wife in Atlanta. They hadn't spoken in years. He couldn't think of any old sins offhand. Maybe he should commit some? He knew that the weird email was a fraud, but he decided not to go to work today, just in case. He pulled off at an exit and got back on the expressway, going the other way, toward the ocean. This is nuts, he thought. He couldn't think of anything really important to do, befitting a persons last day on the planet, so he just sat on the beach for most of the day and drank a few beers. He felt a little nervous, like a high school truant, but he also felt something else he couldn't define. Was it freedom? He had some guilt too, for wasting the day looking at the ocean. Someone sat down beside him. The man was obviously homeless, in his ragged black suit and dirty torn sneakers. The man said, "Are you okay, friend? You look kinda lost." Simon said, "That's an odd word... 'Friend'. Now that you mention it, I guess I don't have any of those. Just a bunch of acquaintances." "Maybe you never really tried", said the man. "I've been pretty busy", said Simon. "You must have accomplished great things, being so busy", the man said. "No great things. Just keeping even. Paying the bills", said Simon. "Do you think you have any great things in you", asked the man? Simon said, "Maybe. I've been doing a lot of thinking. If I had the time I'd do things differently." That's when the chest pain struck and the world faded to black. He heard voices. "What Happened?" "Get back!" He was being carried. Then a blinding light above. People working over him. "We're losing him! CLEAR!" Then a huge shock and the world was gone again. The smiling nurse said, "Welcome back. You've had quite a day." "What time is it", he asked? "Almost midnight", she said. "I have to call my brother", he insisted. "We'll contact him for you. You can talk to him in a few days." "I wish I HAD a few days", he said! A cell phone rang. "That sounds like mine", he said. "Where is it?" "It's beside your bed, but you need to rest." He reached for it, but she stopped him. "I'll answer it for you", she said. "Lie back down!" She said, "It's just a text message." "What does it say?", he groaned. The letters on the cell phone screen said this: "EXTENSION GRANTED." Copyright © January 5, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.

January 1st, 2020... And now... a holiday greeting from our sponsor:
It's that time of year again, folks. A lot has happened in the last 12 months, like it seems to do every darn year, and in the spirit of old adages like "a new broom never boils" and "a watched pot sweeps clean" (or some such stuff... forgive me, I'm old...) it's time to put this past year's news page out to pasture. But don't worry if you missed anything -- it hasn't gone far. You can now find every little belligerently centered* bit of it HERE! (And shortly on the Old News page, as usual.) So on behalf of myself, Lee, and Jack and Misty, let me wish you all a safe, sane and happy 2020! Happy New Year, everybody! Jerry D. Withers, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister™ *P.S.: Still can't fix the code, so it looks like 2020 is gonna be belligerently centered as well.
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