[Note: Typically I link my writings directly to the publication to read. This week over at The Daily Times, I covered the Kate Smith saga, but since there is a paywall, have included the piece in its entirety below for non-subscribers as I think it raises some important points.]
The eradication of Kate Smith and her revered version of “God Bless America” by the New York Yankees and Flyers – the latter who went so far as to cloak a team-dedicated statue of the singer in black before moving the structure – is the very essence of hypocrisy.
No matter which side you are on, it has to be acknowledged there is a serious double standard in place, one that is convenient for multicultural inclusiveness on one hand, yet utterly ignorant on the other. Because, if Kate Smith is going to be banned, then a long, hard look needs to be taken at The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses – just to name a few.
Want to know why end of year lists and holiday gift guides are so popular? It’s because there is typically nothing of note going on around this time. That said, I managed to eek out some pieces for The Daily Times (gift guides mostly) and Ultimate Classic Rock.
Following a whirlwind weekend where I flew out to Chicago for this year’s edition of Riot Fest to catch a reunion by the Misfits with Glenn Danzig, Social Distortion do their album White Light, White Heat, White Trash in full and a slew of other acts over a three-day period, I made a quick pit-stop in Philadelphia to visit with friends one night and witness what might very well be the final performance of AC/DC – ever – the following at the city’s Wells Fargo Center.
I had seen the band a few times before, but things have been pretty upside down in their world over the past year or so, culminating this past April when singer Brian Johnson had to abruptly leave the road or face total hearing loss. Dates were postponed on the lucrative Rock or Bust world tour, but the show went on with yet another singer, the incredibly unlikely choice of Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses.
Honestly, as notoriously prickly as Rose can be – especially in a live setting – I’d never, ever dreamed I’d get to shoot him live. But, like I said, the unlikely has happened quite a bit lately surrounding him. Even his harshest critics have begrudgingly praised how he seamlessly stepped in and saved the AC/DC tour, and I for one hope they continue on in some form. Whether it’s taking a risk on new material or just touring every few years, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the singer and guitarist Angus Young.
Plus, not too many hardcore fans were complaining about long forgotten chestnuts like “Live Wire,” “Riff Raff” and – in Philadelphia – “Problem Child” getting pulled out of the treasure chest.
By design, I ended up in Las Vegas for a few days to catch the first “official” show of the Guns N’ Roses reunion tour. What a trip that town is. Never really been a fan, in fact the only time I spend an extended period there was with an ex whose parents had a timeshare nearby.
It truly is a destination filled with hopelessness and decadence, and I’m not sure if one of them is better than the other. Thankfully, I’m not a big gambler at all and never really got into the hookers and blow scene, so it doesn’t hold any particular temptation for me.
Weather was weird; rainy and unseasonably cool. So I went to the Houdini Magic Shop and avoided being swindled by wannabe magicians. Stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel in the HRH Tower, took expensive cabs and saw an incredible reunion by one of the most dangerous bands in music history.