Monday, June 4, 2018

RIP JEFF BECK

I had planned on releasing an article but something happened and instead I'm sitting here with tears running down my cheeks.

Jeff Beck AKA Jeff Carlson, the "Night Watchman" and great production guy passed away today. He was my friend, and I didn't expect to have this reaction. We knew of his illness, knew he had a tough fight on his hands and I shouldn't be surprised.

Sometime this afternoon, I got a strange feeling. I got back to my office and checked my email and there it was.

I could (and should) write pages on just what Jeff meant to me. From the Bob & Doug voices to Hot Spots and everything in between, Jeff was kind and thoughtful. Funny as hell and he taught me a lot about production. I heard his voice as I put together the show I did and posted on Facebook.

He will continue to inspire me. Goodbye Jeff......just know you made this world a better place.



----}- Bird

Friday, May 11, 2018

Teaser

Hey folks, I have been very busy but wanted to remind everyone who hasn't, please watch Dare To Be Different on demand on Showtime.





----}- Bird

Monday, March 26, 2018

NEW WAVE: DARE TO BE DIFFERENT (here it comes)

Hello NY, South Florida and everywhere else, I'm Bird and this is the Birdcage at Hockeybird.com.

For those of you who don't know (hard to believe you don't) on Friday night, March 30th the documentary film NEW WAVE: Dare to be Different makes it's North American TV debut on Showtime at 8pm.



As DJ Bird I was lucky enough to be a part of the new music revolution that took place in NY, on Long Island and even in places like Pittsburgh. Because MTV closely followed us at WLIR the rest of the country soon followed. The film documents those days and concentrates on WLIR, the bands and listeners.....as well as the scene that developed around the music.

As I have in the past, I need to thank Denis McNamara for including me. I also have to thank the films director Ellen Goldfarb for her tenacious work in putting this all together on film. The result is not just this awesome look back in time......she also brought us all back together at the film's debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC back in April, 2017. It was a real treat to reconnect with people who were back then, like a family to me.



I haven't hid the fact that I and my family are dealing with a really tough time so this film is a great distraction from an otherwise crappy time in my life. My two daughters and I are OK for now. Thanks to all who have reached out in support. It's been hard to find out that others in the WLIR family have had real life issues making my troubles seem small. That said, for the past few weeks, it's been a treat to think back on those days and I for one am amazed at what we did at WLIR (and WXXP).

I know I have told these stories before either here or on Facebook, forgive me if I repeat myself. But, I was just a kid from Levittown, attending Division Avenue high school. My friends and I listened to WLIR because they played songs and bands not heard on other stations in  NY. WNEW and WPLJ played mostly old stuff that we all had heard a million times. Led Zep, The Beatles and the Stones were great....but how many times can you listen to Stairway to Heaven? On the Island, WBAB was better.....they took a few chances that the others didn't. But it was WLIR that stood out. 92.7 was beyond any doubt, THE STATION to hear stuff you couldn't hear anywhere else. They didn't just play Freebird, they played all the great Skynyrd Songs. They played Blackfoot and Molly hatchet before anybody else. We listened to the "News Blimp" each morning before school. Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult and The Outlaws were all played on WLIR and barely mentioned elsewhere. The Good Rats were "Live from My Father's Place in Roslyn.

It was a great station. They even introduced us to the Clash, The Sex Pistols and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. They Played Generation X (featuring a young Billy Idol). So, as I was spinning disco records and learning from some of the best......I was heavily influenced by some of the music that WLIR dared to play. The Ramones.....from Forest Hills, Queens got airplay. Well, it's fair to say that I wasn't happy DJing private parties and playing the "Chicken Dance" so I got hired at a club and any chance I got, I'd spin some records not heard in most places. I had no idea at the time that this would turn into what it did. I just couldn't help myself. The owner at The Camelot Inn threatened to fire me many times because of some of the crazy stuff I played. Lucky for me, Face To Face was one of the live bands they had play and we became friendly right away.  Lenny approached me one night and asked if I'd consider leaving the Camelot and spin at Monkey's, a yet to open club in Lynbrook. Lenny and Phil's parents were the co-owners  and they agreed to give me full musical freedom. I was in!

Monkey's lead to Paris NY where the four owners from Paris, France allowed me even more freedom and together we built a scene that was only rivaled by clubs in NYC. OK, in fairness, there were a few other clubs playing "New Music" but at the beginning, it's was a real risk. WLIR had changed over to the new music format and MTV was born during the last few months at Monkey's. It was Paris New York where everything just fell into place. I met guys like DJ Slave and Rudeboy and the whole New Music scene just exploded everywhere. Record stores, haircut paces, clothing stores.....it seemed like all of Long Island was feeding the NYC scene.



Paris New York became a top spot on the Island for a variety of different scenes. We had the new wave thing, the Punks, Reggae, Ska, Rockabilly and yes......early hip hop all in the same place on the same night! This is where I met Denis McNamara and eventually left to do more WLIR projects. DJ Slave took over and took Paris to the next level which worked out because I never really wanted to leave there.

My days at the station were quite special. At the time, it was our job but as I've heard often, find something you love and you'll never feel like it's work. That's true! I had the chance to spin at so many different clubs, introduce many different bands and participate in the day to day music selection process at WLIR. This led to an opportunity to help run WXXP, a station in Pittsburgh where we blended the WLIR format with some really cool rock songs....the ones WLIR played before the change over that WNEW or WPLJ didn't play. Over 30 years later and we are still remembered in the Steel City with sold out reunions. In fact, I hear that one more might be scheduled.



Looking back it's fair to say that we did know that what was happening was special. I'm sure we all knew that our work was being recognized and we had influenced the music and culture of America. There's none of us who knew to what extent......and this is something I'm both proud of and humbled by.

Over the years, Denis and I stayed in touch. We often spoke about writing a book or doing a movie. When Ellen reached out to us.......it began a seven year journey for her and her team. Denis and Maxx got involved and many of the bands we helped break were tracked down and interviewed. To listen to Ellen talk about all the work that went into it is quite impressive.

I realize this is not a Hockey post......so I'll add that my daughter Alex and I did attend the NYR vs Panther's game on March 10th. NY lost in a shootout and as predicted, not a Cup contender. Heck, they are not even a playoff team. The Cats might make the playoffs but Alex predicts a first round exit if they do.


So I hope all of you will tune in this Friday night and see how WLIR became the voice of a generation and influenced the music world.



----}- Bird




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A PLEASANT SURPRISE

My oldest of two beautiful daughters, Alex took me to a hockey game.


Not just any game.

A Florida Panther vs. NY Ranger game. When Alex was born I was winning championships and had been a practice keeper with the Islanders. I had played with and against NHLers and was lucky enough to have played until I was 40. But my kids were way too young to remember any of it. Alex says she remembers me taking her on the ice after a game. I remember that night......I was so happy then.

A lot has taken place since then. No, it's not all bad but it's fair to say we've had a tough run. My body hurts from all the pounding I subjected it to. I'm often asked if it was worth it.

Yes. It was worth it.

So on Saturday, November 2nd Alex and I went to Sunrise to see my adopted team the Panthers take on my the one team I am still a fan of......the NY Rangers. Since I'm now a single dad, money is an issue. I wanted to go, we always go to a few games each year and sharing something I'm so passionate about with one of my kids is a special thing. To her credit, Alex knew it would cheer me up. She offered to buy the tickets. (I did give her some cash).

What a treat.

Both teams have not had a great start this season and I have not paid attention to the NHL for a while now. Yet, there's something to be said for a live hockey game. Sadly, there were many empty seats and the NY fan base outnumbered the Cat fans as usual. It was kind of strange to see all the empty seats as NYers fill the place usually. During the first period the building was oddly quiet. We could actually hear Steve "Goldie" Goldstein calling the play by play behind us.

However, the excitement picked up as the game went on and Alex had predicted overtime......and she was right. The Rangers won 5-4 in the 3 on 3 OT. But I noticed a few things I want to share.

The Cats struggle to assemble a following here. True, they haven't had many winning seasons and their last serious Cup run was in 1996 with Beezer standing on his head. You can't tell me it's impossible to get a fan base as Tampa Bay has done it. It CAN be done but the right management team has yet to assemble the right people to do it. (That means they have yet to hire me)

The Panthers are a fun team to watch......frustrating but fun. This season they have yet another new head coach but this guy has his players playing with a bit more grit than in years past. That in itself is fun. Bob Boughner was a gritty defenseman in his playing days and won some championships as a coach in the minors. Perhaps he's the guy who can build a winning team here. That will help build the fanbase that has eluded the Panther organization over the years. (That and hiring me) there will be no Cup for Florida this year......at least not in Sunrise but they look to be headed in a good direction.

The Rangers are a different story.

It became quite evident that star keeper Henrik Lundqvist can't see the puck. Allow me to explain.

Hank became a star in the NHL because he anticipated where the puck would be as well as any keeper I'd ever seen. His puck handling aside....Lundqvist has this ability to be in the right spot because he instinctively knows where the puck is going. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't played goal but there's a HUGE difference between guessing and anticipating. On several shots it was clear that Lundqvist didn't see the shot.....it hit him and he didn't know where it went. This did allow several goals against.

Hank has had slow starts before but he's not a kid anymore. We will not see him get better......we just may have to watch as his skills erode. But It's alarming to see one of the best ever not be able to track the puck. One has to wonder if he's dealing with something like an injury or worse.....some form of distraction. His confidence is part of it, or lack thereof.

Both teams are on my list of not winning a Cup this year. As the Lundqvist window closes on the Rangers I wonder if something I wrote a few years ago will come true. Will he be the best keeper never to win a Cup? Sadly, it sure looks that way.

All that aside, I was reminded of just how much I love this game, how much I miss playing and how hard it's been for Panther fans and management to keep the team here. All in all, I owe my daughter for the few hours of happiness that night.

----}- Bird




Sunday, October 8, 2017

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?

Yeah......in my life that means an oncoming train. Bring it.

Dad turned 85 this July - Espo has been kind to us 

So, last we spoke I was prepping for Irma and we made it safe. The storm cost me money I don't have and to this day there are piles of debris scattered all around south Florida and it'll take a while for the effects to fully be dealt with. But when one thinks of the disasters around just our own country, it's hard to complain. My family is alive and safe. My prayers go out to all of those dealing with this years storms and of course, those in Las Vegas. I'm glad my friend Troy is ok.

I won't bore you with details.....it's been a rough time here at Hockeybird. However, HOCKEY IS BACK! Yup, I turned on the TV and there it was.

Honestly, it's just not as enjoyable right now. I used sports as an escape from our everyday problems....politics, the news as it is. Our world is upside down and yet, it was watching hockey after I retired that made me happy. I'm just not there yet. I sure hope you are.

The Panthers have a young team with a new coach and I don't have great expectations this year. They'll need a few seasons together to really develope. Don't give up on them.....just don't expect a Cup this year. Yes, it's another tough season for Cats fans. Attendance is going to be an issue while this team tries to find it's identity. I can see positive steps but.....too many moving parts right now. The Cats are a work in progress and it's been a roller coaster ride for the fans.

The Rangers......geeze......I dunno. I felt like the window had closed when they failed the season after the Cup run. I don't see anything that changes that. Henke isn't going to get better anymore as he had in years past. The team itself isn't built on paper to dominate the East and while they may get a playoff birth, I don't get a Cup feel from them either. Like the Cats I can see some positive steps......but there's a few issues I have with the roster and for whatever reason, management doesn't see it the way I do. The center position just isn't strong enough. I like Stephan but he's not a number one in this league. He has come close but his numbers speak for themself. Mika Zibanejad has quickly become a favorite of mine but he's also not quite a number one. I have hope for him though.

Granted, I'm not paying attention as I have in the past. Don't go making bets on my words here. But, as someone who played......as someone who knew this game well......both teams look as if there isn't a real confidence from top to bottom. It's just a feeling I'm getting.

Tell ya what, let's get 20 games in or so.......that's a good benchmark. We can revisit the feel of each team then.

I want to thank everyone who reached out, I'm impressed and a bit overwhelmed. It's nice to know that you care that much. My girls and I are OK and we will march on. If it comes to it, I'll open a go fund me page but we are OK right now.

Since I'll need a diversion I do plan on watching as much Hockey as possible. You know me, I can't shut up......so I'll post when I can but it's possible I could find a way to use Hockeybird to heal. No promises.....just a warning :-)

----}- Bird