Michael Jackson vs. the Eagles, Round 36
I hear from a very reliable source that pop music is better than ever. I don’t happen to agree, but then again I’m an old fogey who is set in his ways when it comes to music, and would rather listen to my kitchen faucet drip all night than listen to something by Kanye West. (Note to self: get kitchen faucet fixed.)
There are a lot of people like that, and apparently they’re all buying Eagles and Michael Jackson albums. They’ve been battling for decades. Some years the Eagles’ Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is the number-one-selling album of all time, and other years Jackson’s Thriller is in the top spot. It just so happens that this week Don Henley and company can brag a little bit, though I’m not sure if it’s fair that a greatest hits album goes up against one specific album in an artist’s catalogue. Then again, maybe it’s impressive that one album can challenge a popular band’s greatest hits album. The Eagles 1976 album has sold 38 million copies, while Jackson’s 1982 album has sold 33 million (counting both album sales and online). Elaine’s boyfriend Brett must own several copies of that Eagles album.
Sure, the Eagles are No. 1 right now, but maybe Jackson will come out on top eventually. You know … in the long run.
The Computer That Changed Everything
I remember getting into an argument with a friend of mine in 1997 — actually, a friend of a friend — about the fate and future of Apple. He thought the company was about to go out of business, and I thought they would one day be successful again.
Admittedly, the company went through some really bad times in the ’90s, and it’s not like I had any psychic visions of the iPod or the iPhone (I’d have a bigger bank account if that were the case). But I did know that Apple made great things and that their customers were loyal. I knew they’d be back in a big way eventually.
Apple became the first trillion-dollar company a couple of weeks ago, and it really started with a computer I loved, the iMac (I owned the Bondi Blue one). It’s currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, and I wish Apple still made it, hockey puck mouse and all. It was retro and futuristic, nostalgic and forward-looking, all at the same time.
It’s amazing how the computer influenced not just the computer industry, but pop culture too. Other tech companies started to copy certain features (or lack thereof) of the iMac, and everybody started to release products with rainbow colors. That even continues to this day.
Walmart Honors Shopping Cart Lady
We all have our pet peeves: the little things in life that annoy us. Some of us can’t stand people who drive too slowly, and some of us hate it when people chew their food loudly or cough into their hand. I happen to believe that people who don’t return their shopping carts to the carriage corrals are on par with murderers and arsonists.
Honestly, is there anything lazier? You can’t take 10 seconds to place your cart into the corral after you’ve loaded your groceries into your car? Every time I go to the supermarket, I see random carts all over the place, blocking parking spaces and lanes. I’ve even seen people bring their carts to the side of the carriage corral and leave it there because they’re too damn lazy to bring it a few more feet around to the corral’s opening. It drives me crazy.
So a round of applause to 70-year-old grandmother Sue Johnson of West Virginia, honored by Walmart recently for returning her cart to the corral during a massive rain and wind storm. She got free grocery pickup for a year and a trophy shaped like — you guessed it — a shopping cart.
Think of Sue the next time you don’t return your cart when it’s 70 degrees and sunny.
The Cookie Cage
Score one for PETA.
In 2016, the animal rights organization wrote a letter to Mondelez International, the owner of Nabisco, to get them to update the front of their animal cracker boxes so the animals are out of their cages. Seems like the company actually listened. The new boxes recently made their debut.
Sure, we can be happy that the animal cookies (come on, they’re more cookie than cracker) are now free from their cages, but you know that five minutes later that lion sank his teeth into the giraffe’s neck.
Hold the Mayo
Those damn millennials. They’re responsible for the destruction of everything. They’re destroying the cereal industry because they don’t want to clean their bowls; they don’t go to the movies because they’d rather binge-watch something on Netflix; and they shun going on dinner dates for some reason. They even hate napkins! How are they wiping their faces after they eat their avocado toast and kale salads? With their sleeves?
You can now add mayo to the list of things young people don’t bother with. Yes, they’re mayo-haters, which means they’re missing out on creamy potato salad and tuna fish sandwiches the way tuna fish sandwiches are supposed to be made. One of the reasons is because they don’t like the texture and they think it’s too disgusting to eat. They do know they’re not supposed to eat mayo like ice cream, right?
I hate this story for the simple reason it has introduced me to the phrase “identity condiments.” I had never heard of that concept before and I’m sorry I know what it is now. Soon colleges are going to have to set up safe spaces for students who don’t want to deal with ketchup they don’t agree with.
By the way, can we stop blaming millennials for everything? Not that they don’t deserve a lot of the blame for RUINING EVERYTHING, but we have to direct our ire at the correct age group. Everyone seems to put any “young” person into the millennial category. People in their teens or 20 aren’t millennials! They’re … well, whatever generation comes after that. I have trouble keeping track of all of the different names. Generation Y? Generation Z? As a Gen-Xer, I prefer to call them “the generation who will never know what it’s like not to own a smartphone.”
RIP Barbara Harris, Kofi Annan, Don Cherry, and Miriam Nelson
Barbara Harris was an acclaimed Broadway actress who also appeared in such movies as Nashville, Family Plot, Peggy Sue Got Married, Grosse Pointe Blank, and Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, for which she received an Oscar nomination. She died last week at the age of 83.
Kofi Annan was a former secretary general of the United Nations and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He died Saturday at the age of 80.
Don Cherry was not only a top amateur golfer, he was also a popular singer in the 1950s. That’s him singing “Band of Gold” in the very first scene of Mad Men. Cherry actually died in April, but his death is just now being reported. He was 94.
Miriam Nelson was a dancer and choreographer who not only worked with such people as Judy Garland, Cole Porter, and Doris Day, she also worked on many Academy Award telecasts, worked as a choreographer at Disneyland, and even helped put together several Super Bowl halftime shows. She died last week at the age of 98.
This Week in History
Hawaii Becomes 50th State (August 21, 1959)
As if this summer’s eruption of the Kīlauea volcano wasn’t enough destruction from nature, the islands are now being hit by Hurricane Lane, which reached Category 4 status this week.
“Please Mr. Postman,” First Motown No. 1, Released (August 21, 1961)
The Marvelettes song was later covered by several other bands, including the Beatles and the Carpenters.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Drink of Water (August 22, 1914)
The kid on this Frank X. Leyendecker cover should really put those papers down before he drinks from the fountain.
Quote of the Week
“I might not rate her as the single greatest female vocalist of the rock era — Kelly Clarkson and Linda Ronstadt come to mind as more versatile across more genres and more varied in their emotional resonances …”
—an actual sentence written by Dan McLaughlin in his National Review obituary for Aretha Franklin.
National Waffle Day
You ever think of a food and suddenly realize you haven’t eaten it in years? That’s how I felt when I found out today is National Waffle Day. I’m not really a waffle guy and haven’t eaten them in probably 15 or 20 years. If I am going to eat something in that family, it would be pancakes or French toast. But if you like them, here’s a recipe from Curtis Stone for Whole Wheat Waffles with Strawberry-Maple Syrup. Seems like too much work for me. I’d probably just buy a box of Eggo.
Don’t get me wrong. Homemade waffles are good! They’re just not “Kelly Clarkson good.”
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
National Toilet Paper Day (August 26)
I don’t even want to know how you’re going to celebrate it.
U.S. Open (August 27)
As you can see from these covers dating back to 1900, America has always celebrated educational milestones with great pride. We’ve always known that our grads would go on to do amazing things!
This cover of President Cleveland and two college graduates was Frank X. Leyendecker’s first cover for the Saturday Evening Post.
The most important work of the early Post period was made up of the elegant paintings of Harrison Fisher. He frequently painted covers that simply presented a lovely woman. Occasionally a prop, like the diploma in this 1902 cover, implied a narrative, but the essential subject remained the woman herself.
This later Harrison Fisher cover shows a couple reading together. Couples doing something romantic was another common theme in Fisher’s covers. Since painting women was his specialty, the woman graduate still remains the focus of this cover.
This Rockwell cover shows a young student trying to remember his graduation speech. By the look on his face, he doesn’t hear the helpful hints or laughter coming from behind him.
This J.C. Leyendecker cover shows a college graduate ready to take on the world. Strong male figures were a trademark of many of Leyendecker’s Post covers.
This is one of more than 30 covers E.M. Jackson created in the 1920s. While Jackson was mostly known for his paintings of romantic women, he occasionally created a cover focused on a man, like this graduate dressed as a Roman, giving his commencement speech.
This is Edmund Davenport’s third and final cover for the Saturday Evening Post. The clouds behind this graduate make this cover unique and complex compared to Davenport’s other two covers, which have more simple backgrounds.
In this Rockwell cover a professor hands a young boy his diploma and praises his hard work. It’s assumed that he’s the first in his class based on the large stack of diplomas behind him and the medals on his jacket.
This cover was done by one of the Post’s most prolific female artists, Ellen Pyle. Her early Post covers were simple portraits of women. Later on, her work became more detailed and many of her covers have the subject in front of a large, colored circle in the background, just like these graduates on her 1927 cover.
This McClelland Barclay cover of a military school graduate and his girl is similar to nearly every other Barclay Post cover. Barclay became well known for his ability to paint strikingly beautiful women in a rather simple setting using bold colors. Barclay painted a total of five Saturday Evening Post covers, and all but one depicts a vibrant couple with an empty background.
Steve Dohanos’ two sons, Peter and Paul, were in an Eastern boys’ school when he took the family car up to help them move home. A passenger car, he learned, is no proper vehicle for such a job. The artist made his sketches on the Yale campus, but rearranged things to suit his purposes. The boy is George Ritter, of Westport, Connecticut, no Yale man. The artist didn’t use a Yale man, on the remarkable theory that none would like to cut class.
Once, years ago, a young scholar arose at commencement time to deliver an oration on the Panama Canal, found he had forgotten his entire speech, and started ad-libbing out of the general mass of data he had acquired in the classroom. Everybody vowed it was a grand speech, except his elocution teacher, who nearly had a stroke trying to locate him on her prompting manuscript.
Now that this young man is going forth from the halls of learning, maybe he is lying there thinking about how his generation soon will he the guardians of civilization, and of what a glorious challenge this is to the youth of today. Or maybe he is asleep. For as Dick Sargent muses with his brush: any guy who manages to finish commencement certainly has forty thousand winks coming.
Symbolic of a host of graduating Americans, they have an air of quiet confidence, suggesting that as they help mold the future of this cantankerous old world they may be able to make it behave a little better than in the past. Artist George Hughes worked on this cover at Williams College, where everybody did everything possible to make his stay agreeable—well, short of giving him a degree.
Artist Norman Rockwell sketched a couple of undaunted graduates (see below); but then, reflecting on the awfulness of today’s newspaper headlines, he created the bewildered chap on the cover. This one is musing. Boy. aren’t things really screwed up? What to do, I wouldn’t know. But one thing you can bet on: I’ll give it the old college try. Rockwell says, “I like his feet. They look as if he’s standing on eggs.”
Artist Thornton Utz’s scene is Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts, where in 1960, Congressman Chester Bowles delivered the commencement address. The congressman’s daughter Sarah was among the 500 young ladies receiving bachelor degrees.
Are you ready for the passionate kiss appearing on the cover of the Post in … are you ready … 1907? The beautiful painting by Frank X. Leyendecker (brother of renowned artist J.C. Leyendecker) shows a beautifully dressed couple at the piano, carried away by the music, one supposes.
Covers from both world wars often depicted heartbreaking scenes of kissing a lover goodbye, but there was a twist to artist John Newton Howitt’s October 19, 1940, cover. The sailor is just about to kiss the pretty girl in his arms, when oops! Her purse opens, and a loving photo of a soldier springs into view. Perhaps she has a military beau in every port? Or maybe it’s her brother … yeah, that’s it.
Not everyone approved of this kissing stuff. Robert Robinson was a cover artist in the early 1900s who was gifted at painting what we gently refer to as “old geezers.” This particular old salt sees the shadows of a kissing couple, one of whom is probably his little girl. The young man might want to hurry his “good night” along.
We not only approve, we simply cannot resist this 1938 Post cover by Frances Tipton Hunter. The little girl (who bears a resemblance to Shirley Temple) decides the best way to celebrate her friend’s birthday is with a smooch. We can’t quite tell if the birthday boy likes or dislikes the “gift,” but the boy witnessing the scene is sure getting a kick out of it.
We end with a unique winter scene from 1962 by an artist named James Williamson. An industrious wife is clearing the driveway of snow, and hubby shows his appreciation as he leaves for the office. If you look carefully, you’ll discover a witness to this lip action as well. A tiny squirrel perched atop the snowy fence by the mailbox is wondering what the heck these humans are up to now.