WHAT DID HAPPEN HERE? (Memory Lane: 1980)

Today is my 60th birthday. On my 20th birthday, I found out John Lennon had been assassinated (for those of you who think it was only a “murder” or a “killing,” peace be upon you), in New York City from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.

I was living alone in a roach-infested single-room apartment two blocks from Florida State’s campus. There was no phone in the apartment and no one to call if there had been. I turned off the television and played the only John Lennon solo record I had, which was a 45 of “Mind
Games.” Not much later I acquired Lennon’s greatest hits and his Plastic Ono LP which was life-altering. But they wouldn’t have mattered on the night of my 20th birthday either, because for me John Lennon was a Beatle and that really was something to be.

The Beatles were never my favorite band. I loved their music but any chance they would replace the Four Seasons and the Beach Boys after I saw the movie I Wanna Hold Your Hand in the spring of 1978, was made irrelevant when I found the Byrds’ Greatest Hits in a Woolco bargain bin in June. Plus, if I’d had a favorite Beatle (and I don’t) it wouldn’t have been John. Probably just because he was so many other people’s favorite. Usually people like rock critics, of whom I was already suspicious, not least because guys like John Lennon courted them, and because they let him.

John Lennon was a deeply flawed man to say the least: a violent-tempered, wife-abusing, audience-baiting hypocrite, one of many celebrities who loved everything about Marxism except the part where you don’t get to keep your money and didn’t seem to realize that was a feature, not a bug.

All that and more.

And yet….

If you stick through all that, you realize Lennon was not quite predictable. In the age of celebrity politics that was just heaving into view on the night Lennon was shot, if one man in all that ghastly crew could have been counted on not to remain on the ridge in safety, it was John Lennon. I could imagine him hating or loving Donald Trump, for instance, or treating the whole age with the contempt it deserves, but I could never imagine him making excuses for the likes of Joe Biden. Maybe that makes me naive. But, as someone who felt a cold chill that night in December 1980, as I was listening to “Mind Games” over and over, a chill that could not be explained by my feelings about Lennon, the song, or even the Beatles, I can only say that from this end of the Frozen Silence, Elton John wasn’t wrong a few months later when he sang that his friend could not be replaced.

Many have tried. But he’s still John Lennon and they’re still not.

Happy Birthday to me. R.I.P. to the man who turned out to be as good a hero as any:


Nov. 4, 2020

11:40 a.m.: I went to bed around 3:00 a.m. still pretty confident that Trump would win. As of now, it looks like Biden has a 90-95% chance of victory. As I said all day yesterday, when Trump looked solid, it ain’t over till it’s over…but the closer you get the less things are likely to change.

It looks like the Dems will hold the house and the Repubs will hold the Senate, though, again, things could change. The Dems perfected their long-pursued dream of Count-Votes-Until-You’re-Ahead-Then-Declare-Victory in 2018 and applied it even more effectively this time. (EX: They found 130,000 ballots in Wisconsin at 4:00 a.m. this morning and, magically, 125,000 were for Biden and, as of now, have handed him the state.)

No matter the outcome, half the population won’t accept it…and there won’t be much they can do except simmer, as Nixon voters did after 1960 and Gore and Kerry voters did after 2000 and 2004. The main takeaway, assuming Biden is elected, is that the Grand Bargain (1980’s–Republicans would take the economy; Democrats would take the culture)  which precipitated the Frozen Silence (1980-2016) can now resume. Trump will have been merely an interruption.

So while, my predictions for this short-term result were mostly wrong, my prediction for the long-term fate of the U.S.A. is now back on course.

Goodbye us.

I’ll check back in if events warrant….Til then, it’s been fun!


Noon: Live blogging of election day will begin around 1:00 p.m….back pain permitting!

1:00 P.M.: After softening last week, the Dow has picked up about 1,000 points yesterday and today. If this holds through the day, it probably means the big boys on Wall Street, who were sure Trump would lose last time, expect a Trump win, although I haven’t seen any bold statements this time around to match Paul Krugman’s 2016 election eve prediction that if Trump was elected the stock market would crash and “never recover.” Actually Krugman (Nobel prize winner for economics and NY Times columnist) has recently called into question his own previously unquestioned championing of Reaganomics–which, as an uber-liberal, he got away with supporting for twenty-five years the old-fashioned way…by calling it something else). Fun times!

1: 20 p.m.: FYI: I expect Trump to win both Florida and the election. Next hour, I’ll link to my Oct. 2019 prediction and review how my Ten Reasons Trump will win reelection post is holding up. Kind of interested in this myself as I’ve forgotten half the reasons.

2:00 p.m.: Interesting tweet rom Florida governor Ron DeSantis in the last hour predicting that state will be called for Trump by 9:00 p.m. Well THAT will be fun. Probably not a good sign for Biden that Ivanka Trump outdrew he and Obama combined at competing Florida/Georgia rallies last week….outdrew them by a lot. Again, I’m not predicting or endorsing, just trying to read the tea leaves.

2:45 p.m.: Here’s a link to my October, 2019 post, Ten Reasons Donald Trump will be re-elected. I’ll break down my accuracy a little later!

4:50 p.m.: Just returned from the bank…still trying to clear up a mortgage payment from October. Submitted an online payment 5 times…never went through. Finally went down today and got a money order. News from the radio that Republican turnout is well up from 2016 in Florida and Georgia. Market stayed up. All good signs for Trump. Best line of the day so far, a wag on talk radio who said store owners in big cities painting “We Support Black Lives Matter” on the plywood boarding their windows is like turkeys praying Thanksgiving will be cancelled. Mobs can’t read.

6:25 p.m.: Because of the Panhandle, Florida is the only east coast state where parts of the state vote an hour later than the rest. I did not drive by any polling place today so have no idea if there are lines around here. My county (heavily African-American) and the adjacent one (state capital and college town) are the only counties in the northern part of the state that went for Clinton in 2016. Two of only seven in the state–which tells you how important Dade and Broward are for Biden. Any softening there and he’ll lose the state by a much bigger margin than she did. Since actual voting results from here won’t be announced until 8:00 p.m., I’ll do the first half of my 2019 prediction analysis now and save the rest for next hour:

Here goes…

10) The Democrats have assembled a group of candidates who make the field of 17 Republicans Trump mowed through in 2016 look like the Founding Fathers.

Update: This wasn’t really a prediction, just an assessment. The Dems shut out Tulsi Gabbard, their only candidate possessing either charisma or competence on the stump, early on. I assumed they would but I didn’t put it here–give me half a point.

9) On a related note, we’ve now had a good look at all the 2020 Dem contenders–none will be as good a candidate as Hillary Clinton, who was, in fact, a very strong candidate. (it was only after Election Day that she fell apart–getting back in this time will prove she’s the hardcore masochist I’ve always said Bill Clinton’s wife had to be.) There was a reason Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren didn’t get in last time. It wasn’t because they were the brave souls they’d need to be to take down Trump.

Update: This one’s still hinging on a Biden victory. I’ll grade it later.

8) Trump was outspent at least 2 to 1 in the 2016 general. This time, he will probably outspend his opponent by that much.

Update: I was wrong on this one. Trump’s been outspent by even more than last time–by some counts much more. Unless the info changes, I get no points on this one!

7) It’s almost impossible to see even one state that went for Trump last time flipping against him, while several states he lost (Minnesota and New Hampshire chief among them) are in serious play, even according to anti-Trump pollsters. The Dem candidate probably won’t even contest traditional swing states like Ohio and Iowa, which will give Trump more time in states he thinks are winnable.

Update: Again hinging on results….but I’ll be surprised if I can’t claim a point on this one.

6) By this time, Trump has avoided at least seven attempts by the Swamp to draw him/us into, or further into, a foreign war (Syria and Hong Kong cooled off just this week, following attempted ramp-ups in/with Venezuela, Yemen, North Korea, and at least two serious attempts to engage Iran). It’s unlikely he will be drawn at this point and his voting base will see that as a promise delivered–it will make up for any lack of a border wall, which I thought he needed more progress on (progress he may well get by election day anyway).

Update: I give myself a full point for this one. There were a couple of more attempts to draw Trump into a war…instead he forged numerous historic peace deals in the Middle East and the Balkans. And he got four hundred miles of border wall built. And yes, his base counted those as promises delivered.

So-o-o-o-o: 1 and a half points out of a possible three with two hinging. I’ll end up with either 30 percent (bad) or 70 (pretty good)…will check back later!

7:40 p.m.: Latest news has 86% of Dade County votes counted with Biden leading by 9%. Clinton won the country by 33% in 2016. Hmmmm….

8:10 p.m.: With the Panhandle just now beginning to report, the tied presidential race has moved to Trump having about a 66,000 vote lead. He was in better shape in 2016 at this point….but Broward is reporting 99% in. It will take a miracle for Biden to win…but I’m not calling it quite yet.

8:23 p.m.: Calling Florida for Trump. Will be interested in how long it will take CNN. Don’t have a tv hookup so if anyone is following them let me know.

9:11 p.m.: As of now, no major news org. has called Florida. Trump’s lead has only grown since I called it 45 minutes ago. It is mathematically impossible for Biden to win. On the other hand, Biden is looking very good in NC, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I’m starting to think it could be very close in the Electoral College….which is the recipe for a drawn out fight stretching into December.

9:37 p.m.: Just heard an interesting stat from an organization whose name I didn’t catch…of the counties that have reported 100% of their votes, Trump has gained 11 percent among Hispanics, 4% among Blacks. This is offset somewhat by his losing 4% among….wealthy whites. Strange days indeed.

10:16 p.m.: British betting markets, in Biden’s favor all day, has just flipped to Trump. Biden’s sizeable leads in Ohio and North Carolina have vanished. If Trump takes those states the Electoral College is virtually out of reach, though not impossible.

10:53 p.m.: Using CNN’s calls (still no Florida), and state by state data, I have Trump with 204 Electoral votes and Biden with 192. This is a very close replay of 2016. Whoever gets the close states will win. Trending Trump right now but certainly not out of reach for Biden.

11:45 p.m.: I now have Trump at 215 safe Electoral votes, Biden at 207. Still trending Trump…he’s leading in more than enough states to win. But I don’t know other states like I know Florida so I’m not calling the race yet. CNN has still not called Florida, which means that they have waited longer this time than in 2016, when Trump led, and ultimately won by a much smaller margin.

Nov. 4

12:45 a.m.: CNN still has not called Florida, though Fox and a few others have. They’ve stopped counting votes in Philadelphia, the old Chicago trick of finding out how many votes you need, which in this cse would be several hundred thousand.

12:49 a.m.: CNN calls Florida. I only beat them by two-and-a-half hours last time. This time, I beat them by four hours and change. Good times. I think I’m gonna celebrate with a pizza tomorrow night…I mean, later tonight.

I predict Trump will be declared the winner sometime around 2:30 a.m. That’s without PA.

2:05 a.m.: Well, Georgia and North Carolina have joined Philadelphia in stopping or stalling their vote counts so that leaves neither candidate with a path to victory tonight. Worst of all worlds but I’m going to bed!

Thanks to everyone who viewed, visited or commented. This was a big hit for the blog and well worthwhile!



In 2016, I monitored CNN’s county by county election map from first poll closings till well after the race was called some time after midnight.,

One interesting note is that I called my home state, Florida, at 9:00 p.m. CNN, which was providing the math I was using, didn’t call the state for Trump until 11:30, which was about when every other network called it.

I plan to take off work Tuesday night and, assuming CNN or some other source provides the same information, I will be doing the same this time, except I plan to live blog the experience. I want to give all my followers a heads up in case they want to follow along. Florida is expected to once again be both close and key this time around so it’s possible you will hear the result here first.

NOTE: I don’t intend this coverage to imply endorsement of either candidate, another way it will be different than all other “news” coverage. Hope you’ll join me!

WINNERS (Whitey Ford and Joe Morgan, R.I.P.)

I grew up with the legend of Whitey Ford and the reality of Joe Morgan. Ford retired the year before I saw my first Major League baseball game. Morgan played second base for the Houston Astros in that game, which took place in 1968 in the Houston Astrodome, then the “eighth wonder of the world” now vanished from the face of the earth, as is the Yankee Stadium where Ford pitched the home half of his remarkable career.

The word on Ford was that he never possessed overpowering stuff. That all he knew how to do was get people out and win games. It was for the latter he was best known, racking up the fourth highest winning percentage in MLB history, winning six World Series titles and setting the record for consecutive scoreless WS innings (33) which still stands.

It may stand for a long time yet. A lot of great pitchers never even get to pitch 33 innings in the World Series. And for those who think his great winning percentage was carried by great Yankee hitting, it’s worth nothing that his career ERA is bettered in the post war era only by two pitchers who are still playing. They will likely come down in time. The more time goes by, the more Whitey Ford stands alone.

Joe Morgan stands alone, as well, as the best all-around second basemen of his era and possibly the best ever. There are modern stat freaks who say so, but Morgan was one of those players who could never be fully appreciated by the numbers others believe in so fervently. That quality made him a valuable voice for young baseball players when he became a post-season commentator while he was still playing.

My favorite Joe Morgan story wasn’t any of the remarkable things I saw him do at the plate or in the field or on the bases. It wasn’t even seeing him in my first MLB game (where, to tell the truth, he didn’t make much impression on the faraway Astro-turf. Somewhere or other in the Spring of 1973, I had come across Joe Morgan’s baserunning tips, which included not relying on your coach when running from first to third on a base hit to right field. According to Joe, you should throw a look over your right shoulder when the ball cleared the infield and make up your own mind about whether you could make it to third.

Come my Little League All Star game, I got my team’s first hit in the bottom of the third. (We were already trailing 1-0 because my team’s catcher dropped my perfect throw from center field in the top of the first…not that I’m still bitter or anything.) My good friend Doug S. (R.I.P.) was next up and he got a base hit down the right field line. I followed Joe Morgan’s advice perfectly. Quick glance over the right shoulder. Saw the ball as down the line and never looked up or back until I had steamed into third.

We had the third base dugout and my manager immediately jumped all over me for not looking at the coach. I nodded and thought, “You’re a nice guy Mr. K, but you ain’t Joe Morgan.”

The next batter grounded to the infield. I took off for the plate and the infielder went to first. The first baseman mishandled the ball and Doug S. tried to score from second (where he had reached when they tried to throw me out at third). He was thrown out by ten feet. Big inning spoiled.

We lost the game 4-2. I didn’t see Doug S. until the following school year, when he assured me that the only reason he tried to score (he was the slowest man on the team), was because the third base coach waved him around.

“Yeah,” I said. “I didn’t pay any attention to him.”

Like Mr. K, he was no Joe Morgan.

I hope somebody’s creating those kind of memories for kids these days. But permit me to doubt it.

So long Whitey. Goodbye Joe.

All you knew how to do was win.

VISIONARY (Johnny Nash, R.I.P.)

You can get the facts about the soul singer, discoverer of teen pop, producer of Bob Marley, reggae pioneer, on Wikipedia. Then again, there’s the truth:
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
         “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
John Keats

DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY (Eddie Van Halen, R.I.P.)

Not many guitarists could put David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Eddie Van Halen was that rare player who could shred or solo with the best while never losing track of the basics, could play maestro or riff-master according to what the moment needed.

You know me. I loved the beat and in his age, nobody kept it better.

Yes, he was “historical.” His solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” was one of the last great crossover moments and the combination almost single-handedly opened up MTV for black artists. His band invented hair metal. No matter how you felt about all that, he and they deserved their iconography.

But for me, it never got further than the record that broke them open in the Spring of 1979…..and never needed to:


Mac Davis was relaxed even for his own time. He couldn’t have had a career in this time. Our loss.

As the composer of “In the Ghetto,” “don’t Cry Daddy,” “Memories” and “A Little Less Conversation” his importance to Elvis Presley’s late 60’s comeback was incalculable and second to none. Same for his Elvis stories, which were invariably warm but believable, the stories of an authentic friendship as opposed to dining out on a brush with greatness.

But when he passed (the same day as Helen Reddy), my immediate memories were of the happiness he delivered on his short-lived variety show where he seemed both more relaxed and less likely to take a wooden nickel than anyone on television. That combination always infused his own best records, some of which were heard by all…

some by quite a few…

and some by almost no one….

Hey Chris, that last one’s for you and Big Mac and the memories.

THE ROAR (Helen Reddy, R.I.P.)

When I was in junior high and high school (1972-78), if a kid came in and told the class “Dad threw a shoe at the TV last night” nobody had to ask who had been on. Not Johnny Rotten, not Mick Jagger, not David Bowie or Alice Cooper or some politician.

The only person who drew that kind of response in my part of the world–the only real threat to order–was Helen Reddy. I always thought that made her the truest rock ‘n’ roller since Elvis. After 1978, my local oldies’ stations did not agree, because they never played her records again and by “never” I mean not once. She was dropped down the memory hole. I’m sure they played her somewhere. Just nowhere I was.

I pity those who missed her. There was no combination of sights and sounds to quite match Ms. Reddy in a bare midriff halter and hip huggers belting “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore” on one TV show after another, so ubiquitous you couldn’t miss her, even at my house, which seldom had a functioning television set.

I assumed she would be a permanent fixture in my generation’s lives. Instead she was kicked to the curb as soon as she stopped being a force on the radio. Some of this may have been by her own design…but surely the larger part of it was due to other forces. The same forces that spent the last forty years screwing up literally everything else.

Nothing damns our present more than memory-holing the feminist who had the best idea of where it all might have gone.

And yet, if I listen close, I still swear I can hear a roar, like a seashell held right next to the ear, intimate and epic in equal measure: