Adios Dave

At what point I stopped watching “The Late Show With David Letterman” is difficult to recall. Probably that difficulty remembering stems from not actually pulling the plug on his show in its entirety.

I came to watch Jimmy Kimmel’s show on ABC within the last six months or so. I was just tired of Letterman, something about his show had gone stale. Maybe it’s like becoming what we called in the Navy, a short-timer. We knew the days, hours and minutes before we left for civilian life and we would rub that knowledge in the face let our cohorts who had much more time left. We weren’t particularly big on doing our normal duties either.

Now a show as big as Letterman’s operation can’t just be left to go to hell in a handbasket. I have watched some episodes lately of Letterman, such as last night’s laugh fest with Bill Murray. He came out of a giant celebration cake and upon hugging Letterman, both continued to wear the cake through the episode. No, Dave still had very quality shows when I stopped watching, it’s just, I don’t know, a tiresome act.

David Letterman. Wikimedia. Creative Commons

David Letterman. Wikimedia. Creative Commons

I first started watching Kimmel when his show first aired. I think he had Mike Tyson as a week-long guest and it was very oddball and very funny. And I had never liked Tyson. That show began a process of rehabilitation toward my feelings for Tyson. But I continued on, watching Letterman and occasionally I’d watch Leno. I liked his Jay Walking skits and “Headlines.” But I’d go back to Letterman without fail. My watching mostly depended on who Dave had as a guest.

No entertainer, at least in modern TV, had the type of show like Letterman’s. I think it was interactive before interactive was cool. I liked how some of his seeming “grunts” or regular employees would perform some of the best comedy with Letterman, this would include people like stage manager Biff Henderson, who had done countless skits both on site and off to some forsaken place. Dave’s Mom also became a beloved character on the show. Rupert Jee, the owner of the Hello Deli next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater, was on a recent show. Rupert seemed over the years like he would do anything Dave asked, no matter how ridiculous the request.

1978 Press photo of Warren Zevon.

1978 Press photo of Warren Zevon.

Music director Paul Schafer and his bad were stars in their own right. They often had musical guests who also sat in for multiple nights. One of my favorite guest musicians and apparently Letterman’s was the rock genius Warren Zevon. The writer and performer of hits such as “Werewolves of London” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” played many Lettermen shows from the first seasons on NBC to the early 2000s CBS incarnation. Zevon substituted for Shafer about 20 times and Letterman had a show entirely dedicated to Zevon upon his announcement of a diagnosis for terminal cancer that eventually killed him.

Letterman educated people during the aftermath of his own heart attack and he was the perspective-in-chief in the days following that horrible day on Sept. 11, 2001. Watch below.

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These were just some of my most favorable moments from David Letterman, the majority having been on CBS from the 90s on. I either didn’t have or didn’t watch TV much in the 80s when Letterman began his network shows. I haven’t watched Jimmy Fallon’s show on NBC. I don’t know if I will. And I have no idea how Colbert will be as the new man behind the desk here at CBS in the Letterman time spot. If he can give the people the humor, the goofiness, the silliness with style and yes, even the perspective, that folks deserve, I might just watch Colbert’s show as well as Kimmel’s.

Good luck, David Letterman.

Six Shooter Junction rides again

Maybe it’s the location that has led to all the bloodshed.The latest count: 9 killed and almost 20 wounded. That was what came from a clash of more than three different biker gangs that went from fighting in a restaurant bathroom to shooting outside. Nearly 175 are in jail for the bloody melee in Waco.

The best quote of the day: “They’re not here to drink beer and eat barbecue,” said Waco police spokesman, Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton.

 "They're not here to drink beer and eat barbecue"--Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Waco police spokesman


“They’re not here to drink beer and eat barbecue”–Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Waco police spokesman

Way back in the 1870s when cattle were being driven to the market in the Midwest, a spur of the Chisholm Trail as well as passing railroads made Waco, Texas, a busy place. Waco laid out crazily upon the Brazos River made the streets running north and south going east and west and vice versa. Cowboys who didn’t get lost on the streets may have been even more disoriented coming from a night of whiskey guzzling in the many saloons with a stop in the red light district.

Waco had a tough Texas nickname. It was called “Six Shooter Junction” back then.

Despite the carnage coming from barroom shootouts and occasional street duels — a steady dose of dissing the mighty Baptist school Baylor University by the town’s nationally-known journalist William C. Brann got him fatally wounded one day after a shootout — It would be in the 20th and 21st centuries when the real bloodshed flowed.

In the 1990s, a controversial raid by the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency on a religious cult that ended that day with four ATF agents and six members of the Branch Davidians. This led to a 51-day siege that ended into a fire killing 76 Davidians who had stayed behind at their compound about 10 miles east of Waco. Included in those who died was the leader of cult, Vernon Howell, who was later known as David Koresh.

Though not always peaceful — I covered more than 20 murders in Waco and McLennan County at the turn of the century during the two years I worked as a police beat reporter — the next large loss of life came in 2013 from an industrial explosion about 15 miles north of Waco in the city of West. A fertilizer plant blew up killing 15 and injuring 160. Most of what was settled in the 1880s by Czech emigrants was destroyed. An investigation found the ammonium nitrate — the volatile fertilizer component — was improperly stored.

The needless deaths and injuries — reports say four bikers may have been shot by police — is like something you see on TV. It’s worthy of a “Sons of Anarchy” episode.

It is also something that, much like the Branch Davidian saga, didn’t have to happen, at least according to police.

Information about possible biker throwdowns led Waco police and state troopers to the Twin Peaks restaurant for the past month. Though I’ve not frequented one, Twin Peaks is supposedly “manned” by women dressed in skimpy outfits as is the case at Hooters. Twin Peaks, go figure.

The restaurant is located in a shopping center near the southern outskirts, just off Interstate 35, between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. The center is what you see in almost every city above 100,000 people. I have driven I-35 more than I ever wanted to do so. You can’t go from Dallas to San Antonio without seeing the same big box stores and restaurants that pop up from one stop to the other. Perhaps the almost equal distance between the cities may be part of the reason Waco was such a good place for a “meet and greet.”

Maybe it is ironic to some while sickening to others, but our governor issued a statement today about the Waco incident:

“Texas will not stand for the type of lawlessness we witnessed in Waco yesterday, said Gov. Greg Abbott, R, Texas.”

Hmm, I wonder if he will think about that when he signs a bill allowing Texans to openly carry handguns. One can only wonder what might have happened if people were carrying their “shootin’ irons” when something like Twin Peaks broke out. Some might say, that armed civilians carrying their guns would scare them “thugs” off. Maybe. But maybe not. You get a bunch of drunked up, tweaked up guys armed to the teeth, you think Casper Milquetoast sitting there wearing his 9-mm will make his quick draw before Bill the Killer wraps a bike chain and snaps off his neck? Maybe the confusion will be worse.

I wonder if The Abbott thinks about those things?

 

Pickin’ up that ol’ ring ring? Ain’t nothing new.

Sometimes I think as far as the telephone has come the distance is actually less than it really is. Kind of like those side view mirrors that say the objects are closer than they appear. We can talk about those substances that make objects closer than they appear at a later date.

Today I talked to a phone center person from a company called the Schumacher Group. Among other pursuits in addition to trying to f**k up a perfectly good day, the Lafayette, La., company is a “Your health care solution.”

Schumacher once provided emergency room doctors for a local hospital and its doc-in-a-boxes. The company also bills customer for those choices. I received a call the other day saying I owed $292 for seeing a nurse or physicians assistant for a couple of minutes about a year and a half ago. That was news to me since this was a worker’s comp case and the government paid for subsequent care that included arthroscopic knee surgery and physical therapy. My knee doc actually put the Ps and Qs together linking my fall, for which I went to the doc-in-a-box to begin with, proximately to a meniscus tear.

“Well, we sent a bill (to workers comp) and they rejected it,” said the phone center nag from Schumacher.

“Well, I sure as hell am not going to pay it,”  I said, after about the third time she told me I was responsible. That was followed by hanging up, my hanging up.

Today I talked to the people from the Xerox-owned company that now does our workers comp financial matters. Fortunately, the lady I spoke with was nice and dug through my miles of paper on computer only to discover the wrong coding was put into my initial ER bill.

So I called Schumacher back today and explained what happened. She didn’t want to hear it. The solution was for them to call the workers comp people and find out what was needed for the resolution of this medical mishap!

But no, Schumacher’s lady wasn’t hearing any of it. They would have to call “us.” And she would have to talk with her supervisor. Of course she would. So I asked if I could speak with her supervisor. As luck would have it, she wasn’t available. Of course, she wasn’t.

Click. Or rather a faint “beep” as my cell disconnects.

Well, this is nothing new. Right. Right. And that’s the point. This same scenario isn’t different from where I sit to two blocks away. Or across town. Or across the state line. Or 10 years ago. Or even 50 years ago. That was when I heard my Daddy say in his pissed-off and probably half in the bag voice:

“Well sue and be damned,” Daddy said, before hanging up abruptly, certainly for great effect.

He explained it was a bill collector. I think it was for something Momma bought from Fingerhut.

Things never change. We can watch the weather on our phone. The person we are talking with on the phone can see us and we can see him. My phone takes better pictures than any camera I could afford back in the day. We can listen to just about any song ever recorded on our phone. We can pay our bills — the ones we really owe. We can even take nekkid pictures, though I sure wouldn’t suggest it.

What a wonderful world it will be, Sam Cooke sang so beautifully 50 years ago. About love. If only she will be with me. If only people won’t call for bills I don’t owe. What a wonderful world it would be.

Listicles for itchy feets

Spring on the Gulf Coast is a time that is hard to beat. When I say Gulf Coast, I mean the area that extends from the “ArkLaTex” to the Florida Panhandle. It is a grand time of the year although it always leaves me with a case of “itchy feet.”

My feet, figuratively speaking, have developed that old get-up-and-go-somewhere feeling even more this year since, literally speaking, my feet have held me back from doing much of anything.

At last report, my podiatrist said I should go through about two more weeks of taking it easy on my tootsies, or should I say tootsie. My hammertoe surgery was performed about three weeks ago and yesterday was the first time I could even remove my foot from bandaging and take a shower. It, the shower, was “mahhvelous,” as Billy Crystal would say while performing as Fernando Lamas on “Saturday Night Live.” The toe doesn’t look very well, but that is only because stitches were only removed from both top and bottom of the toe.

I have been pretty much cooped up recently, that is hopefully ending in another week. One might observe that by reading my previous blather. My Union’s steward training at the end of July is in Albuquerque. It will be nice to get out and get away, despite that our training tends to get rather lengthy. And after reading about the Albuquerque police and its brutal ways, I might just stay to myself in my hotel room after training.

All this said, I have some places I have wanted to visit for R & R but couldn’t for one reason or the other, mostly a lack of funds. With that in mind I began thinking of the various places I have been after listening to sports talk radio hosts who were making a listicle of their favorite “Sports Towns.” With that in mind I shall make my own listicles of favorite places I have been to help prod my sad and itchy feet into happy and (non-itchy?) feet. Some of these places I visited 35-to- 40 years ago so for sure they will have undergone change. But as with gifts, it — supposedly — is the thought that counts.

TOP FIVE FOREIGN CITIES

1. Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

2. Perth, Western Australia

3. Auckland, New Zealand

4. Taipei, Taiwan

5. Devonport, Tasmania, Australia

TOP FIVE MAJOR UNITED STATES CITIES (More than 1 million people)

1. San Antonio, Texas

2. San Diego, California

3. Los Angeles, California

4. Dallas, Texas

5. Houston, Texas

TOP FIVE LARGE U.S. CITIES (From 500,000 to 1,000,000 people)

1. Denver, Colorado

2. Austin, Texas

3. Washington, D.C.

4. El Paso, Texas

5. Fort Worth, Texas

TOP FIVE MEDIUM-LARGE U.S. CITIES (100,000 to 500,000 people)

1. New Orleans,  La.

2. Gulfport- Biloxi, Miss.

3. St. Louis, Mo.

4. Little Rock, Ark.

5. Las Cruces, N.M.

THE REST OF THE BEST (Less than 100,000 people, for various reasons. U.S. and Territories.)

1. Nacogdoches, Texas

2. San Marcos, Texas

3. Hattiesburg, Miss.

4. Santa Barbara, Calif.

5. Estes Park, Colo.

6. Ruidoso N.M.

7. Lake Charles, La.

8. Mobile, Ala.

9. Stockbridge, Mass.

10. Albany, N.Y.

11. Milwaukee, Wisc.

12. Big Sur, Calif.

13. Agana, Guam

14. Surfside, Texas

15. Sabine Pass, Texas

16. Newton, Texas

17. Maydelle, Texas

18. Llano, Texas

19. Wimberley, Texas

20. Lajitas, Texas

*Just as larger cities are ranked more as sentimental favorites, places that I just like, and cool spots on the map, the 20 listed above are not ranked and are merely listed and enumerated.

 

Unlimited data my a**

I will keep it brief here. I am stuck in the data wall. Last week I hit 90 percent data usage on my phone and data plan. I was able to restrict my mifi use for five days by spending even more money. As it now stands I should not go over on my usage and start incurring more bucks as long as I coast and don’t go crazy until Friday when the usage resets.

It is preposterous that there isn’t really true unlimited data plans for consumer in the U.S. I know what some companies say. But saying and doing are two different animals. So coast shall I. More later!

Thoughts on the “t-word”

UPDATE: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake backtracks on her earlier comments using the word “thug.” Will President Obama do the same? Apparently not!

 

The riots in Baltimore may have solidified yet another word for which we must be careful with its use.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was widely criticized by activists and pundits in using the word “thug” during a press update in wake of the unrest. Activists decry “thug” to address black men who commit crimes.

The association between black criminals and the now-t-word is nothing new. Liberal pundits have for some time now — back to the Bush White House at least — noted that the right-wing was using certain “buzzwords” when it came to the identity of criminal black people. The word thug has certainly been such a buzzword. However, the main definition for the word thug is “a violent person, especially a criminal.” Nothing about that person being black. However, most detrimental terms for blacks, or African-Americans, do not mention that certain words are a slur. For instance, the word “coon” is defined as short for a racoon.

Some black friends of mine whom I haven’t seen in awhile but I mostly keep up with online seemed to find funny the mid-20th century descriptive “Negro.” Some laughed but others chafed at the term “colored” for black. As black friends asked to people who mentioned something involving a black person as colored: “Oh, what color was he/she?” I even knew some black people who, like me, simmered upon a white (or even black) using the offensive word “Nigger.” I also felt bad, and perhaps many blacks may have felt sadness, when little old white ladies of Southern upbringing using what they believed as a “genteel” word: “Nigra.”

Of course, there were other blacks and some whites who might just open up a king-sized can of whoop ass on some who used anything related to the N-word.

During the short time I covered secondary and higher education was when I first discovered the language of the disabled.

Activists who spoke for the disabled came to me with a whole big list of politically correct terms that they wanted me and the newspaper to use in coverage. I can’t remember most of them as this was 20 years ago. But these were the language from which “special needs” and “learning challenged” emerged.

But the fact is one cannot change all words for every group, every person in a group. I do not want to seem cynical here, but perhaps the only way to develop less hurtful words for usage is to develop their own language.

Think of this. If we change every single word that is offensive to one group, then what if these words have a special meaning to another group? Then what? What then? What does it all mean?

What questions for our times with answers to these questions way beyond my pay grade. And I’m not kidding.

 

 

 

Visit Baltimore, where you can’t see baseball

Yesterday my podiatrist told me take the week off and to come back next Monday. Sure! Why not?? He has to ask me each time I visit what kind of work is it I do. He has no idea whether I am single or do I have someone to help me. He kind of snapped yesterday when he asked when I stopped taking the antibiotics he had prescribed. “You know why you stopped” — I stopped because the medicine was severely f**king with my stomach — “taking them, why can’t you remember stopping?” he asked.

I told him I take so damned many medicines, I didn’t know what all I take. Then he said “never mind I gave you an antibiotic during surgery.”

Well, some people, even doctors, I wouldn’t cut any slack. But I think this doctor is a nice guy. He is obviously overworked. He was literally simultaneously seeing three patients at once. The other doctor at this clinic was off yesterday. I cut Doc some slack.

Lonely baseball

The rioting in Baltimore, as I told my Tokyo friend Poe Lou Chan this morning, both saddens me and sickens me. I watched what was happening there on Monday. I’m not really surprised the town went up in flames in light of the Freddie Gray death in the hands of Baltimore po-lice. But this was, the rioting, was done in a great portion at the hand of teens. Some looted. Others burned buildings. Having worked as a firefighter, I especially loath those who set fires intentionally.

These fires will be investigated by ATF, or ATFE, for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency’s url is still ATF. One can only hope they do a better job than they did out in Elk, Texas, some years ago. Elk was the closest community to the bungled ATF raid in 1993 and subsequent siege and fire, now simply known as “Waco.”

Baltimore city officials worry that “Charm City” will be forever linked with the rioting that happened last evening. But Baltimore is surely not the first American city to experience civil unrest. And so far it’s not the worst. Newark, Watts, the riots after Martin Luther King’s death back in the 60s, all pretty bad. The “Rodney King” riots in 1992 Los Angeles killed 53. No one in Baltimore except Freddie Gray has died, so far, and while that in itself is tragic, hopefully it will stay this way. From what I am watching this afternoon, it seems that the young people may all come away from the protests with only laryngitis.

And while the media all remark the uniqueness of the crowdless Major League Baseball game tomorrow at Camden Yards in Baltimore a sporting game without fans is not something that has never happened. MLB is banning spectators for the Baltimore Orioles game with the Chicago White Sox due to fears of rioting.

During my stint in newspapers at a small weekly in East Texas, a high school basketball was once played in my time with no crowd. The best I can remember, some boys from a rival town shot and perhaps even killed another young man. The tension was so high the schools felt that closing the game to the public was the best course of action. I don’t remember who won, but I remember the media-besieged superintendent of the local schools told me: “That old saying is right: Don’t ever do anything on a slow news day.”

The media have a short attention span, or at least that is how they appear sometimes. Trust me, I was once a media man. I’m imaging a lot of people wish the media will move on along. Then off they will be.


They say it’s our birthday. Well, just missed it.

Our fair blog quietly celebrated 10 years of existence on Tuesday, April 21. Happy B-day!

All this, meaning eightfeetdeep, started as something to entertain myself as well as a daily writing exercise. This was while I was on unemployment from my last full-time job. I had worked as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor for the previous 15 years at five different Texas newspapers (One doesn’t count.) I had kind of tentatively planned to try my hand at freelancing by the time I was 50 years old. As it turned out I was about six months ahead of schedule.

I have kept up with turning out a daily blog for most of the past 10 years. However, I also have worked a decent-paying part-time job for about seven of those years. During the last year or so as I was given a steady dose of 32-hours a week, as well as serving free now for a few years as a regional vice president of my union local. Consequently, my output slowed down. The same can be said of my paying freelance jobs.

For a couple of years I made money as a freelance journalist. When I say “I made” money, I don’t mean I came out ahead. Neither did I “make” money, as in printing up my own $20-bills. Now what made me think of that? Uh, nothing Secret Service Special Agent Whatshisname.

All of the previous happened as I have become older and developed a few health problems, diabetes the most serious one. I really have improved my health as for Type II diabetes, my A1C falling on a downward trend to 7.1. I also had surgery on my toe Tuesday that was spurred by my diabetes. I developed a ulcer on my left second toe and it never healed completely. So my podiatrist suggested about a month ago that he do hammertoe surgery on that toe in order to keep from striking the injured toe and in doing so allowing my toe to “all hang out” so to speak.

I have a bandage on my foot that I was told to stay off of except for going to the bathroom or kitchen. I have had to do a bit more than that, though carefully, because I am a (confirmed or unconfirmed, I’m not quite sure which one) bachelor.

So, I don’t know what my toe is doing, if anything, and will not know until Doc unwraps it on Monday.

I have tried mostly through using my blog name as my identity to, not shield it, but to not necessarily expose it. I certainly am fooling nobody because so many of my stories have been spread among folks I know, who at the very least, can put two plus two together gets something between three and five.

This past decade has exposed me to some very interesting experiences. Some — like Hurricanes Rita and Ike — were exciting. Others, like living in my truck for about a month at one time, and losing two brothers last year were sad. Those hurricanes were a source of income for awhile, as I freelanced for a major metropolitan newspaper. I freelanced in suburbia for about six months as well while staying in the Dallas area with a friend.

I am in the beginning stages of gathering then culling some of my favorite posts over the last 10 years and, most likely, adding to them for a book. Whether it will be hardcover, e-book, or body art, I don’t know. I need a publisher. If you are a publisher and are not trying to scam me — I will check you out scrupulously — send me an e-mail to the address on the blog.

Looking at my Statcounter stats, I am pleased to see I still get an average of 20 page views per day. Only one or two are return visits, but that is understandable due to my recent lack of output. Most recently, those page views came from the United States and 20 other countries including Iran, Russia, Mexico, Vietnam and, oh, Canada.

By the way, the name, “eightfeetdeep,” yes, it did come in part from the HBO series “Six Feet Under.” I decided not to go along with convention by saying why six feet when you can go eightfeetdeep?

I have thought at times trying to make money through a blog, not especially this one. I do still take donations. But I don’t know what’s to come in the future. I certainly never planned on blogging for 10 years.

One foot bandaged

Greetings. Irony of ironies that eightfeetdeep is recovering from toe surgery. I had surgery on my left second toe yesterday. Now I have one good foot and one foot bandaged. I remained awake during the procedure though I was dosed a bit with propofol and was injected in the foot with lidocaine or some other local anesthetic. I didn’t give much of a rat’s ass while under the sedative. Yes, I know propofol raises some alarm bells with the whole Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers thing. But I felt only slight pain for a few seconds during the surgery and some minor, dull pain afterwards.

The most aggravating problem with all of this is having to strictly limit my walking to avoid pressure on the affected toe. When I must walk the bandaged foot must be assisted by a surgical shoe. This limited mobility is very difficult when living alone with not a whole lot of money. But if the straightened out second toe is successful, I suppose it will be worth it.

Do not stay thirsty my friends.

To play (music) or not to play

“It’s never too late.”

That is a predictable comment when I sometimes openly wish I learned to play a musical instrument or speak fluent Spanish. Certainly, the response is an appropriate one for the latter. Too many uncertainties rise with regard to my learning guitar or even piano, the two instruments I would most prefer to master. One big reason is that I am not the most patient person in the world. It is a reason I give when people ask if I hunt. I do like fishing though, which can often take tons of patience. Go figure.

As a teen I enjoyed being around live music. I went to more than several dozen rock shows, mostly in the 1970s. A few shows I saw were during the prime of the performers’ careers. Included were Creedence Clearwater Revival, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Seger, while others concerts were likewise and remain popular. These were bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers and the Grateful Dead.

When several of my friends developed the idea for a “garage” band I was glad to cheer them on and to help in anyway I could. I guess you could call me a “roadie” though the venues were never more than 20 miles or so away from home. The group also weren’t literally a garage band. Like my late brother John, who was a musician and played more regionally than local and were even once on local TV, their bands had adult sponsors who were very reputable in our town.

I was very pleased when I worked my first “real” job outside the Navy, as a municipal firefighter, and was able to afford a decent stereo system. It was an Emerson system, not a component system with a turntable made by one company, an amp by another and speakers which launched a wall of sound like the giant Klipsch speakers a friend had. My friend brought those gigantic speakers to a couple of parties, our annual chili cook off was one if I remember correctly. I lived in the country with a large pasture in front of my house and my nearest neighbor was about a mile away. Normally, the neighbors couldn’t hear music from my place although their daughter later told me she heard the music and liked it.

I have never felt regretful that I didn’t learn to play an instrument, being the avid music listener and as appreciative as I am of music. My feelings were really reinforced yesterday upon playing perhaps the best Eagles song ever: “Hotel California.” The song — which contains what several polls say is one of the best guitar solos of all time — and the particular incarnation of the band then was largely contributed by a man whose name you probably can’t pronounce but is on many hit CDs and albums. That is: Bill Szymczyk. Pronounced (Sim-zik’.)

Szymczyk is now semi-retired but he has engineered and produced artists from B.B. King on “The Thrill Is Gone” to The Who’s “Face Dances” recording. Szymczyk never played an instrument and considers himself “a professional listener.” He developed that ability as well as building his electronics acumen by serving as a sonar technician in the Navy during the early 1960s.

It was Szymczyk who having produced the James Gang — which featured vocals and lead guitar by Joe Walsh — brought Walsh and the Eagles together. Walsh and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder had some outstanding lead output before Felder was fired from the group in 2001. You can hear Felder and Walsh in that famous “Hotel California” guitar solo.

The Szymczyk-produced “Hotel California” LP title track was named the 1978 Grammy award’s Song of the Year. That’s pretty amazing for someone who was not himself a musician.