Playboy Gets Back To The Basics

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(Authors Personal Copy)

After a conservative year, Playboy is returning to its branding established in 1953 by its founder and entrepreneur, Hugh M. Hefner. That means nudity is back.

Cooper Hefner, son of magazine founder Hugh Hefner, announced the move on his Twitter account stating: “I’ll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake.”

From a business perspective, this move is reminiscent of the ill-fated Coca Cola campaign in 1985 to introduce a “New Coke”. When that effort fizzled, the original formula was returned and sales rebounded. In early 2016, Playboy began publishing it’s landmark publication without nudity, while focusing on the depth of its writing staff. That move was revisited by the younger Hefner, who ran his own media company HOB (so named for Hefner Operations & Productions), a subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises.

 

Also returning will be “The Playboy Philosophy”, a political and cultural column written by Cooper Hefner, nearly 40 years after his father last wrote it for the magazine.

A Heritage Section now looks at the magazine’s past. However, the “Entertainment for Men” subtitle will be removed from the cover.  Hefner stated, “Playboy will always be a lifestyle brand focused on men’s interests, but as gender roles continue to evolve in society, so will we.”

The magazine industry as a whole has incurred significant changes over the past decade, with the ramping up of social media online platforms. To that end, Playboy is taking on a significant challenge against the odds by testing a brand with a depth rarely seen in today’s media market.

Tina Turner is Still Rockin’ It!

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She’s still called a Pop Diva. But in spite of her abusive former marriage to the late Ike Turner, who was jealous of her success, Tina Turner has let go of the anger that has gripped her life in the past. In fact, her life is about to be made into Tina — The Musical, set to be staged in 2017 by director Phyllida Lloyd of Mama Mia fame.

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Born Ana Mae Bullock, the child of a broken home in Nutbush, Tennessee, she sang in the church choir and at age 19 she met Ike Turner. As the duo, Ike and Tina Turner (the duo actually met at a St. Louis nightclub) he co-produced hits like “River Deep, Mountain High”. But with 300 touring days a year, Ike called the shots and beat his wife severely until she left him in 1976.

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Ike Turner died in 2007 from a heroin overdose. Soon after their split, Tina found herself deeply in debt and largely perceived as a has-been. But this misperception was shattered in 1984 with the singer’s album Private Dancer, selling 20 million copies worldwide and garnering the singer 11 Grammy Awards, In 1993, Angela Bassett starred as Tina in the biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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In 2009, she began keeping a low profile. At age 77, she’s married to Erwin Bach, 61, a German record executive whom she met in 1985. While her only regrets are not spending the time with her two sons Craig and Ronald, she doesn’t look back and only looks ahead now.

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(Images: Authors Collection)

Here’s to You Mrs. Robinson at 50!

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(Images: Authors Poster Collection)

Could it really be 50 years since Director Mike Nichols released the motion picture that literally burst onto the scene of the worldwide consciousness and caused so much chaos? In 1967, an unknown stage actor named Dustin Hoffman was cast along with Katherine Ross as Benjamin Braddock and Elaine Robinson, respectively. Terrified at the prospect of appearing on camera, Hoffman genuinely felt he was miscast and his angst in the movie is real. The film became a cultural phenomenon and earned in 2017 dollars the equivalent of $740 million during its debut and an Oscar for Mike Nichols as Best Director. It took nearly three years to cast Benjamin and Elaine. Robert Redford was rejected for appearing over-confident. Co-star William Daniels, who played Ben’s father remembers. “Paramount wanted Robert Redford) but Mike insisted on Dustin”. Last week, the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival celebrated what screen writer and actor Buck Henry remembered as a scandal with Elaine Robinson’s mother (played by the late Anne Bancroft) seducing 20 year-old Ben, just after graduation from an East Coast university as a Halpingham Scholar in track.

The film resonated with the public, primarily for capturing the sense of alienation the counterculture era was experiencing during the days of Vietnam, Materialism was a poor stand in for parents seeking to escape emotions. Film historian Mike Harris stated, “It’s about trying to understand who you are and what your place in the world is going to be, as opposed to the place in the world your parents have picked out for you. Many actors were hired and replaced. Gene Hackman felt uncomfortable as Mr. Robinson and was replaced with veteran actor Murray Hamilton. Ava Gardner and Doris Day turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson when they learned that nudity was required. Even Anne Bancroft refused the nude scenes (a stripper was hired to stand in for the picture frame glass reflection of the naked seductress).

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Oddly enough, Mike Nichols was opposed to retaining the one word line spoken to Dustin Hoffman’s character of Ben in the midst of a graduation party at this parents home: “Plastics”. However, Buck Henry fought successfully to keep the word in the movie and it became one of motion picture’s biggest catchphrases.

Driven by the recorded music of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle, the soundtrack was wed with a stroke of genius to the film. A half century later, the film’s themes of alienation, love and loss continues to inspire generations.

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25 Photographs with Rare Commentary by Michael Bitsoff

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First and foremost, all images are my own. Second, let’s get to the facts. Whatever you may think of The Governator, he achieved massive success through hard work against all odds.

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We will never see the likes of Robin Williams again. His death deprives our country of a true comedic genius and he is missed.

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Here is but one example of what the ideal girl should look like to me. Sorry ladies, but it;s true. Hotter than hot and cooler than cool.

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Daryl Hall is my idea of a man who has stayed away from drugs and refuses to fall into the trap of “owning up to his age” — the man looks perpetually 40 and remains a phenomenal musician who inspires me.

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This movie was brilliant. Had Steve McQueen lived, he would have been the only other actor aside from Bob Redford who could pull off the acting without very much dialogue, as we saw in the epic LeMans. What shocked me about this film was that it was never promoted and fell off the radar, when it should have earned an Academy Award for Redford. And I still have a hard time with his having retired.

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Kevin Bacon is a man who has his act together. He is my answer to the pundits who claim “You can’t have it all.” Oh, yeah? Actor/musician//husband and father. Yes you can!

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Sorry again, ladies. But this friends of mine on the beach is the epitome of what every girl should strive to look like in a bikini.

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The classy lady: Beautiful, intelligent, and talented beyond belief. That her death was pushed to the back of the newspaper pages on the same day Michael Jackson died is a travesty. I adored her.

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Once in a while a person comes along with simple common sense about how companies should be run, what true customer service means and how people should be treated. Richard Branson’s companies are a shining example of Class personified. It’t embarrassing how lazy and stupid too many of us have allowed ourselves to become to the point of dumbing down and not mending our lousy culture.

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I’m quite shocked at how this car–one of the most beautiful designs ever was never exposed to the makeover of the Jaguar and brought back looking like this, albeit with reliable components.

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Skeptics beware. I have studied the transcripts and time line of the endlessly debated cocaine trial where the United States federal government was embarrassed beyond belief. DeLorean was found innocent by a jury without having to place him on the witness stand. A bunch of bad actors fell apart on the stand under a grilling by Howard Weitzman, DeLorean’s attorney. It’s sad that the rest of his life was spent under a cloud of a stupid controversy. Let’s set the matter straight. Here was a man raised in a dysfunctional, abusive and poverty-ridden environment. He earned a scholarship and multiple college degrees as an engineer who solved the most vexing problems that confounded the men of Packard. He turned around Pontiac, then Chevrolet and as ready to take the helm Mary Barra holds today as head of GM. But he admitted to ego and excess in his decision making with regard to attempting to make a go of DeLorean as an independent–something Preston Tucker and many others were mowed down by the Big Three in their quest to build a better product. He had many pioneering patents — over 200 I believe — and was a genius who was sadly defined by a sham trial that he won. This was an innocent man who admitted to personal faults and still had some fun before he left us.

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A common thread here is men and women who defy the odds and do it their way. Tom Jones may not have black hair anymore, nor is he this thin. But his voice is better than ever and his concerts kick ass. Age be damned. Listen to his YouTube video of Hoobastank’s “The Reason”.

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I will never accept VW as a car maker of anything other than the Beetle and the favored Van of the 1960’s hippies.

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In life, it is important to have a clear definition of what constitutes a certified imbecile and I just happen to have two examples to present. How these vile, white nationalists with not even a shred of human decency or competence to sweep up a Jiffy Lube Garage ended up making millions and hijacking the United States occurred is a rank obscenity. Donald Trump is an idiot who will be impeached, and when he does do try to remember that I told you so. If you’re not a psychologist, Trump is still easy t understand. Take a scared child who becomes a bully as an adult and has no idea how government works. I wonder if he has ever really read the U.S. Constitution. Scary kids, Scary.

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Another idiot who makes me want to vomit. Enough said.

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He is back!

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There are certain federal judges who need a beating similar to the one Eastwood’s character delivers to the punks that attempt to terrorize a man and his family in this movie. “There’s nothing like a good old fashioned piece of hickory.” Rent the movie.

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Yes, I relate to Tony (Richard Beymer) in this scene from real life. I had just finished kissing a girl goodnight after a first date and was walking backward with my fingers pointed at her like the Tom Cruise character in “Jerry MaGuire” when I turned and nearly broke my sternum walking into a cast iron parking meter mounted in concrete. The scene looked very much like this one from “West Side Story” with the late and very beautiful Natalie Wood.

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This is a damn hard photo and poster to find, but I have one. Ann Margret is still sexy and yes, she loves driving motorcycles.

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It took Clint Eastwood a lot of class to risk his “Dirty Harry” persona to make this brilliant motion picture of heartbreak and reality.

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Warner Brothers fought Steve McQueen for going way over budget and deliberately shooting the epic film “Bullitt” in San Francisco where studio executives couldn’t micro manage him. They cancelled his seven picture contract, but McQueen had teh last laugh when this film became a huge money maker that solidified his reputation as “The King of Cool” in 1968.

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He found his voice and his way to three hour concerts for the past 30 years with a beautiful wife (Patti Scialfa) and an excellent book on his life. One of rock’s greatest legends has no plans to retire. My kind of style!

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A band that suffered from being unrecognized and misunderstood, this reunion after more than 30 years revels how The Raspberries became a favorite band of Beatle John Lennon, Rick Springfield, and Jon Bon Jovi. Led by Eric Carmen, they had the songwriting talent of The Beatles with harmonies to challenge The Beach Boys. Their musicianship is top notch if not staggering. But the Cleveland, Ohio – based band imploded and toured only in limited run with this, one of three reunions in the new millennium.

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Last Word: I wish that this were possible with American employers. It should be and again, I salute Richard Branson as a brilliant visionary with a heart.

Will the Real Don Rickles Please Stand Up!

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Photo: Gary Dunaier

Don Rickles died on April 6th from complications of diabetes. He was the best friend of comedian Bob Newhart since 1970. According to Newhart, the men’s wives became friends and attended Rickle’s Las Vegas performance at 3 A.M. after dinner, Newhart with his wife Ginnie were seated in the front row when “The Merchant of Venom” walked out of stage and said: “A stammering idiot from Chicago is in the audience tonight with his hooker wife from Bayonee, New Jersey.” The couple soon discovered amid others who walked out in disgust that it was a badge of honor to be insulted by Rickles. While the Rickles’ were neighbors of The Newharts, they also shared the same values of family. But the King of Insults, dubbed “Mr. Warmth by the late Johnny Carson was in reality a gentleman. When he was recently asked what was on his “bucket list”, he replied: “At this stage of my life, nothing really. I had hoped to be more involved in film, which I didn’t get to do because I became successful in nightclubs. That’s just where my career took me.” Newhart said that he had not seen Don for a month, as Rickles struggled with spinal stenosis and diabetes requiring home dialysis. “I was a pallbearer. I don’t think it really hit me until I saw the coffin and realized Don was inside there. The rest of the time was spent, not so oddly, laughing. I knew him for 40 years and I was still amazed by him.” Newhart added, “I hope Don knew how many people loved him. He was a teddy bear.”

An Amazing Discovery 49 Years Later

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(Authors Images)

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In mid-March of this year, the collector car world was shocked at the news that one of the two 1968 Mustang GT Highland Green Fastbacks used in the filming of the 1968 Steve McQueen movie Bullitt, was discovered in a Baja California junkyard.

The location of the second Mustang (there were two Mustangs and two 1968 Dodge Chargers used in the film) — assuming it exists — is unknown. What is known is that the Mustang that was discovered was used in the dangerous jumps down Taylor Street in San Francisco during the film’s cars chase sequence. These sequences were driven by the late motorcycle stunt driver and McQueen double Bud Ekins, owing to insurance company concerns for McQueen’s safety. McQueen completed roughly one-third of the driving in the film, including the dangerous near-collision with Ekins on a motorcycle along the Guadalupe Canyon Parkway where McQueen spins out in a combination of dirt and gravel.

The late Bill Hickman handled the Dodge Charger driving entirely on his own and assisted the late stunt driving coordinator Carey Loftin. Loftin drove sequences of the red 1967 Alpha Romeo for actor Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. The Chargers were destroyed (one deliberately at the end of the iconic car chase) after filming concluded to prevent liability issues due to their poor condition. The recently discovered Mustang was confirmed to have the reinforced suspensions, shock towers and chassis components with a 1967 Shelby Mustang rear axle.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Ralph Garcia, Jr., of Paramount, California discovered the car and verified with Ford Motor Company and car expert Kevin Marti the authenticity of the Vehicle’s ID Number.

Bullitt will be 50 years old in 2018, and many of those who saw the film when it was released are exiting the hobby of car-collecting. Younger collectors have often heard of the movie and its chase scene, but have yet to see it in its entirety. The chase is considered among the most dangerous stunts in movie history.

Steve McQueen died of complications from Mesothelioma in 1980. He had tried unsuccessfully to locate and purchase the Mustang in 1974. Bill Hickman died of cancer in 1988. Hickman is widely recognized for his stunt car driving dating back to 1948. In 1966, he drove the VW Beetle in Disney’s The Love Bug. In 1971, he handled the driving of Gene Hackman’s Pontiac LeMans in the movie The French Connection, and in 1977 he drove a Pontiac Grand Ville in The Seven Ups featuring the late actor Roy Schieder, who died in 2008. 

 

A Book for Every Idiot & Dysfunctional Family

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(Authors Photo from Book Collection)

Let’s face it. Everyone has friends. Those friends come from a family. The healthy families are called functional. The unhealthy ones are, well, dysfunctional. Feelings, emotions, sharing of healthy love and support, mutual respect and validation of parents,  children and siblings are dealt with openly and honestly and not swept under the rug with poor social skills and the predictable “enabling”of poor behavior patterns.

I have a theory that many families have at least one pain in the ass member whose contributions to any semblance of intelligence quotient is low. And you remember the 1968 hit song by Three Dog Night, “One”? The opening line of the song is: “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” Eventually, that isolated imbecile who takes to Texting and Tweeting more than Donald Trump distinguishes themselves as a notch below the seventh-grader being raised across the street in suburbia. Then there’s “emotional intelligence”. This is usually supported by level headed people with an abundant I.Q. and social skills that behave better. Here’s what Carl H. Shubs, Ph.D., has to say about all of this. On functional Families:

“It works for everyone in the family, not just some of the people. It is not perfect, but it is good enough. It is good enough so that the people in the family feel loved, valued, recognized, and appreciated. In the functional, good enough family, safety is a priority. Parents ensure that they create and maintain an environment in which the family members are physically and emotionally safe. Physically, parents are attentive enough to their children that they are able to protect them from harm. They are observant enough that they don’t let little kids run out in traffic, play with matches, put their hands on hot stoves, or swallow detergent. They protect the children from people who might hurt them. If a child has been hurt the parents take prompt and definitive action to ensure that this does not happen again. Parents have enough control, both physically and emotionally, so that they can be in charge to keep the children safe. But they do not control so much that they smother or stifle the children. They guide while still allowing the children the freedom to explore and grow.

“Here, parents are also in control of their own egos, their own self-image, aspirations, hopes, and desires. They are able to differentiate their needs, wants, and identity from their children’s. They do not have to be in control of every decision children make, and they are able to allow and encourage children to make decisions for themselves. If children are never allowed to scrape their knees, they will never learn how to differentiate between those circumstances where they will scrape their knee instead of break their neck.

“In the well functioning family, parents and kids will usually agree on what constitutes the big and little issues. However, it may not be until after some heated arguments that they reach consensus. In this type of family, parents know their kids well and are able to communicate with them effectively, so that they can understand the meaning and importance of a particular issue to the children. Similarly, the kids in that family are empowered enough that they don’t have to manufacture power struggles in order to differentiate themselves from their parents. They can have an identity of their own. They feel heard, recognized, and important. They feel a sense of their own power. For these kids in the well functioning family, an argument or a battle with their parents is about something significant, though the significance of it may not be immediately apparent. An important part of the measure of functional vs. dysfunctional is how the parents and kids treat each other during the discussion or the argument. In the functional family, disagreements and arguments are definitely allowed. Parents and kids treat each other with respect and dignity, even when they disagree or argue. They do not put down, degrade, humiliate, shame, belittle, mock, ridicule, dismiss, berate, invalidate, undermine, sabotage, or otherwise attack each other. They address issues together.

They talk together, even though it may get heated. Kids need to learn that it’s ok to disagree, to have strong emotions about something, and to express those emotions fully, clearly, and directly. They also need to learn that if they do so they will not be punished in some way, such as by being physically hurt, verbally attacked, or emotionally abandoned. They need to learn that all emotions are normal and natural, and while they may need to control how they express those emotions, the emotions themselves are ok, legitimate, valid, accepted, valued, and respected.”

Now let’s contrast this with (ahem) dysfunctional families: “A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal.

“Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of codependent adults, and may also be affected by addictions, such as substance abuse (e.g., alcohol or drugs), or sometimes an untreated mental illness. Dysfunctional parents may emulate or over-correct from their own dysfunctional parents. In some cases, a “child-like” parent will allow the dominant parent to abuse their children.”

Some features are common to most dysfunctional families:

  • Lack of empathy, understanding, and sensitivity towards certain family members, while expressing extreme empathy or appeasement towards one or more members who have real or perceived “special needs”. In other words, one family member continuously receives far more than he or she deserves, while another is marginalized.
  • Denial (refusal to acknowledge abusive behavior, possibly believing that the situation is normal or even beneficial; also known as the “elephant in the room.”)
  • Inadequate or missing boundaries for self (e.g. tolerating inappropriate treatment from others, failing to express what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment, tolerance of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.)
  • Disrespect of others’ boundaries (e.g. physical contact that other person dislikes; breaking important promises without just cause; purposefully violating a boundary another person has expressed)
  • Extremes in conflict (either too much fighting or insufficient peaceful arguing between family members)
  • Unequal or unfair treatment of one or more family members due to their birth order, gender, age, family role (mother, etc.), abilities, race, caste, etc. (may include frequent appeasement of one member at the expense of others, or an uneven/inconsistent enforcement of rules).”

Children growing up in a dysfunctional family have been known to adopt or be assigned one or more of the following SIX BASIC ROLES:

  • The Good Child (also known as the Hero or Superkid): a child who becomes a high schiever or overachiever outside the family (e.g., in academics or athletics) as a means of escaping the dysfunctional family environment, defining him/herself independently of his/her role in the dysfunctional family, currying favor with parents, or shielding him/herself from criticism by family members
  • The Problem Child, Rebel, or Bad Egg (also known as the Scapegoat when unjustifiably assigned this role by others within the family): the child who a) causes most problems related to the family’s dysfunction or b) “acts out” in response to preexisting family dysfunction, in the latter case often in an attempt to divert attention paid to another member who exhibits a pattern of similar misbehavior
    • A variant of the “problem child” role is the Scapegoat, who is unjustifiably assigned the “problem child” role by others within the family or even wrongfully blamed by other family members for those members’ own individual or collective dysfunction, often despite being the only emotionally stable member of the family.
  • The Caretaker: the one who takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family, often assuming a parental role; the intra-familial counterpart of the “Good Child”/”Superkid”
  • The Lost Child or Passive Kid: the inconspicuous, introverted, quiet one, whose needs are usually ignored or hidden
  • The Mascot or Family Clown: uses comedy to divert attention away from the increasingly dysfunctional family system
  • The Mastermind: the opportunist who capitalizes on the other family members’ faults to get whatever he or she wants; often the object of appeasement by grown-ups.”

This gives credence to the old saw, “There’s one in every family”. I’d like to thank: David Stoop and James Masteller, Michael E. Kerr and Murray Bowen, Kate Millett, Nancy J. Napier and Dan Neuharth, Shawn D. Whiteman, Susan McHale, Anna Soli, Dwight Lee Wolter, and last but certainly not least Beth Polson and Miller Newton for their able assistance with this post.  I know. Gads!

Spring Cleaning and Updating CD Collections

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(Authors Photos of CD Collection)

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There is always something refreshing about updating new music and swapping out Classic Rock. While Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones will never be out of style in Vinyl of CD collections, the spate of new artists from Kelsea Ballerini, K.T. Tunstall and Grace Potter infuse a bluesy rock and country together with unforgettable melodic riffs and songwriting.  Springtime is time for a musical collection reset!

Southwest Moves Further Into Midwest

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, this brief story is worth telling. When Southwest founder and retired chairman, president and CEO Herb Kelleher was studying PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) he left with a page from the defunct airline’s playbook. Namely, how to create a company from scratch that was fun, favored quick turnarounds of 15 to 20 minutes to maximize cash flow, and keeping costs and fares low. From an auspicious start of three Boeing 737-200 aircraft to more than 500 today (a blend of 737-300’s, 737-700’s and 737-800’s) Southwest is the largest domestic U.S. Airline measured in terms of passengers boarded. Incidentally, the Boeing 737-300’s will be retired by this September. The airline, as you may have guessed is a dedicated 737-only operator, thus saving costs with parts and operations for one tyope of aircratft only.

The carrier grew organically, that is, from internal growth with two exceptions: the acquisition of Muse Air–the nation’s first “No Smoking” airline that was soon shut down, and Morris Air — a competitor that operated the same aircraft and business plan as Southwest.

At the largely abandoned Dallas Love Field Airport,  where all competing airlines were contractually bound to move operations to the immense Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Kelleher (who is an attorney) spent the first four years battling efforts by competitors seeking to stop the airline from getting started at all. Kelleher and Southwest prevailed and remained domiciled in the decades long crumbling airport that is today a world-class renovated facility. Gone too is the “organic growth” strategy, as AirTran Airlines was absorbed by Southwest in 2014 and fully integrated in 2016.

The pictures above were taken at Dayton International Airport in Ohio — a holdover from the Air Tran acquisition. However, the small airport limited Southwest’s operations. Moreover, there was a wonderful opportunity in Cincinnati, where Delta Air Lines (yes, that is how Delta spells their name) downsized its presence at Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Delta once boasted 710 departures a day and reduced that slate to 68, then downgraded Cincinnati from a hub to a spoke. More bad news arrived as the aggressive Delta deliberately shut down the once proud regional carrier Comair after 35 years. That airline acquired for $2 billion in 1999 and closed down after 13 years, combined with Delta’s downsizing after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and merging with Northwest Airlines cost over 8,900 jobs in Cincinnati. The once mighty airport earmarked two of its three terminals for demolition, then consolidated its sole terminal with a full remodeling. The Category III runways and lack of any significant service was just too good of an opportunity for Southwest officials to pass on. With this in mind, on June 4, 2017 Southwest will move its operations from Dayton to Cincinnati and begin flights to Chicago and Baltimore. In the opinion of this author, there is an unprecedented pent-up demand for air travel to Southwest’s route system — particularly to Florida points and beyond. Look for Cincinnati to become the next success story as we saw when Trans World Airlines was purchased and liquidated by American Airlines in 2001, leaving St. Louis Lambert International to rot. Cincinnati will be another “rising from the ashes story” as Southwest will, predictably, add a large stable of routes throughout the U.S. Low Fares, Low Costs, Legendary Customer Service and a truly “fun” travel experience is quite the opposite of crammed seats and passengers being nickeled and dimed to death by the likes of Allegiant, Frontier and  Spirit Airlines — superseded only by the Greyhound Bus. Cincinnati has been in decline as a city for many years. Southwest’s arrival on the scene in Hebron, Kentucky where the airport is physically based will surely become a game changer!