• Now I'm a believer

    Davy Jones in his "Pre-Fab Four" glory days.
    Davy Jones in his "Pre-Fab Four" glory days.

    The passing today of Davy Jones, the diminutive lead singer of the "Pre-Fab Four," also known as The Monkees, gives me pause, as does the demise of anyone who crossed my path in the days of my youth.

    I never met Davy Jones and he wasn't my favorite Monkee -- Mike Nesmith, aka "Wool Hat," was my fave because he seemed smart, allegedly knew how to play his guitar and his mother invented Liquid Paper.

    I actually had a connection to another Monkee, Peter Tork (nee Thorkelson), who attended my alma mater, Carleton College, for a time several years before I arrived and shared some of my professors before he gave up education for the music biz. And I was familiar with Mickey Dolenz from his role in "Circus Boy," a short-lived TV show. 

    But I have a direct link to the Monkees because I'm one of a relatively small (and dwindling) number of people who actually saw them perform "live." It was in the Summer of Love, 1967, at the now-departed Boston Garden, which was filled with screaming teenage girls and my cousin, Maynard McCorkle, and myself.

    Here's how we got there: That summer, when I was 13 and gearing up for my freshman year at Brunswick High School in Brunswick, Maine, WBZ-AM was the sound of rock 'n' roll in northern New England. The best music of the period was right there at 1030 on your AM dial. And the 50,000-watt station was powerful and hip, or at least, trying to be. Its slogan that summer was "Love and Purity."

    The Monkees were coming to town and WBZ had a contest to give away some tickets to lucky listeners who could complete the following phrase: "I love the Monkees and WBZ, 'cause..." Fill in the blank.

    Yours truly got a postcard, filled it out with my entry and contact information and sent it off to Boston. Didn't think much more of it until one day I was sitting in a chair in King's Barbershop in Brunswick (long shuttered) and my father came in saying he'd heard my name on the radio and that I'd won two tickets to see the Monkees! 

    My excitement was unbounded, but then there was the question of how to make the trip to see the show. I couldn't drive. My father had little interest. So after some negotiation we agreed to make the trip with my slightly younger cousin, Maynard, and his father, Henry McCorkle (also no longer with us.)

    The four of us drove the three hours to Boston. Maynard and I went into the cavernous Garden and found our seats. My father and uncle repaired to the bar across the street. Maynard and I watched the short show during which the Monkees performed together and individually with much assistance from a group of backup musicians. The screaming was incredibly intense and non-stop.

    After the show, we got back in the car and drove the three hours back up to Maine. It was a long and emotionally draining ride. But entirely worth it. We'd seen the Monkees and I'd won a contest, pretty much the only one I've won in close to 60 years of living.

    So, how did I do it? Let me tell you. Here are the magic words I wrote down on the postcard during that summer that now seems like a sun-drenched, half-forgotten dream of long ago: "I love the Monkees and WBZ, 'cause 'I'm a Believer' in 'Love and Purity.' "

    I still am, or at least I like to think I am. Rest in peace, Davy Jones.

  • 'What we have here...'

    For those of you unable to attend this morning’s TSM board meeting (and who can’t wait for tomorrow’s news story), my take on the situation is that there is agreement that there was a breakdown in communication about the performance of Gary Borders as TSM director between the University administration and the board (and not much agreement on anything else.) Gary Borders is still out as TSM director. At this time, there are no plans to sell the licenses for TSTV and KVRX. There may be future discussions about exploring the possibility of shifting responsibility for TSM from the Division of Student Affairs to the College of Communications. A search is on for an interim director, who should be selected at a special board meeting on March 7. The interim director will run things while the search is on for a new, permanent director, if such a thing exists. No word on when the search for a digital adviser might begin. Another board meeting is set for March 19, the last possible minute to set a TSM budget for the coming year. I think that’s pretty much it. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Don't worry about the government

    Sometimes you just have to wonder what's going on in the minds of politicians. Watching the Republican debate last night, you saw four white guys in suits all trying to out right-wing the other as they kowtowed to a room full of neanderthal nutjobs from Arizona. Oh, and Gov. Rick Perry was there, too, sitting right next to Callista Gingrich's hairdo!

    Anyway, we have our own problems right here on the Forty Acres. If you've been reading the Texan this week here online or in print (as I'm sure you have), not one, but two pairs of candidates for the top posts in Student Government have been disqualified for campaign violations. You can see the stories here and here.

    What's up with these people. Do they not know the rules or do they just decide not to play by them? I guess it's a little of both. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

    But we aren't the only ones with election woes. Check out the problems their having at the University of Florida here. Go Gators!

  • Back in the saddle again

    It's been way too long since my last blog entry. There's not excuse except the daily press of duties, and that will no longer be accepted. I vow to keep this puppy up to date. We'll see how that plays out.

    For those of you who might have missed it, there has been a lot going on in the pages of The Daily Texan this semester! We've been covering the resignation of TSM Director Gary Borders, the scandal-plagued SG election and the fortunes of various Longhorn athletic teams. We even had an incident in which a lot of Daily Texans were stolen from their news boxes. What's up with that? If you know, drop up a line.

    I urge you all to follow our efforts in the paper and at dailytexanonline.com.

    In the meantime, here's a link to Dan Kennedy's MediaNation blog that carries a speech by Marty Baron, my former boss at The Boston Globe, who offers a solid rationale for why what journalists do continues to matter. I urge you to take a look and think about what he has to say.

  • Old Number 7

    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scans the field during the Longhorns’ win over Rice in the season opener on Sept. 3. Gilbert is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. (Daily Texan file photo)
    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scans the field during the Longhorns’ win over Rice in the season opener on Sept. 3. Gilbert is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. (Daily Texan file photo)

    I guess the guy was right when he said, "Don't mess with Texas."

    But who knew he was talking about members of the Longhorns football team?

    By far the most controversial story the Texan has published so far this semester is a rather light-hearted Page One piece about No. 7 jerseys being marked down at the University Co-op after Garrett Gilbert and Nolan Brewster -- the two players to wear the number this season -- were sidelined with injuries.

    The story, which was lacking a byline because of a production error, was written by Sports editor Trey Scott and simply quoted Co-op president George H. Mitchell explaining why the jerseys were being offered at 50 percent off. 

    It also quoted a student who said he wouldn't buy the jersey, even with the discount. The story also notes that Gilbert has taken a fair amount of public criticism for the Horns lackluster season in 2010 and that sales of No. 7 jerseys have been down since then. No new ones were ordered this year.

    That's about it, folks, but the public reaction has been quite remarkable, with at least four angry "Firing Line" letters to editor published on the Texan's Opinion page, so far. The writers are uniform in criticizing the Texan for taking cheap shots at Gilbert, an unfair scapegoat.

    Here's what Scott, the Texan Sports editor has to say:

    "I understand that, after all of what Garrett's been through, people are quick to attack anybody who says anything negative about him for the sake of the kid. The point of the article, however, was that the Co-op was in a spot it has never been before, that it has to mark down jerseys that it didn't even sell last year. There are 1,000 No. 7s waiting to be sold.

    "The president of the Co-op was sad to have to put the jerseys on sale, because he feels like Garrett has taken almost all of the blame for last year's 5-7 season. But he had to do it [mark them down] because it's a business, just like Mack Brown and the co-offensive coordinators benched Gilbert for the sake of the team — that's business as well."

    I say -- get a life, people! The Texan didn't mark down the jerseys. The Co-op and Nike, the manufacturer did. The Texan noted that this is the first time this step has been taken. That's news -- and that's what we're in the business of reporting. 

    I would ask where the angry letters are about the Texan story detailing the lawsuit filed by a national fraternity organization against a renegade local chapter that alleged that exotic dancers were hired as part of an initiation ritual. Is that standard operating procedure around the Forty Acres? Is any kind of deviant behavior acceptable as long as -- god forbid -- it doesn't have a bit of harmless fun with the hallowed football program?

    The football program that has won exactly one national championship since 1970? 

    Garrett Gilbert isn't to blame for that long drought and the Texan shouldn't be blamed for simply reporting the facts.