Behold: The Future

The guy who gave us “The Dating Game”, “The Newlywed Game” and who hosted the madness of “The Gong Show” passed away this week. Chuck Barris died at his home in New York at the age of 87.

Gee, Chuck Berry…then Chuck Barris….I think if I was Chuck Norris, I’d go into hiding. But I digress. And quite well, I might add.

I’m diving into this particular topic this week because the majority of the population roaming the earth these days heard the news that Chuck Barris had died and immediately said, “Who?” or “The Dating what?”

I like to use this little corner of the Internet for my observations and perspective. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about getting older, it happens quickly. Too quickly. One day, my baby sitter is telling people that Tim hides behind the couch when everyone on the Dating Game blows a kiss to the camera at the end of the show.  The next thing you know, the only people who even know what you’re talking about all have hints of grey in their hair.

Chuck Barris had a big impact on both the 1960s and my childhood.  He was ground-breaking. Those of us around back then watched him put “reality” on TV, although somewhat controlled. We heard what people thought in real-life situations. Both the dating world and the married world. Or, if you were doing both, you had to commit to watching TV two nights a week. “The Gong Show” was basically “America’s Got Talent”, with a gong instead of buzzers.  One day, I plan to forgive Chuck for The Unknown Comic. It’s still too soon.

But for all the popularity and all the top-of-mindness that Chuck and his shows enjoyed, let the wheels of time spin away and it’s not long until you’re mostly forgotten.  I don’t say this in a morbid, “we’re all going to get old and die someday” way.  Over the years, I’ve been quite the student of what had happened in my parents’ generation, my own and my kids. I know songs and trends and news events that came from decades before I was born.  I paid attention to what was going on in my kids’ world, as they grew up. As long as the Ginko keeps working, I enjoy being a living World Book encyclopedia of knowledge. Yes, some useless, but it’s OK to know things.

In a current, fast-paced, disposable-knowledge society, people observe, filter the information and then hang on to it until they dispose of that knowledge and move on to what’s next. That’s what allows so much recycling of ideas. The Bachelor and Bachelorette are really just dramatic retreads of the Dating Game.  Wait a generation and you can re-do a classic, like Beauty & The Beast.  Think about it–how many Spidermen or Batmen have there been, just in your lifetime?

I’ve gone down this road to remind you that, some day, you’re going to be talking to a friend of the same age, where the conversation begins with, “Remember the Kardashians and how they were everywhere and we just couldn’t get away from them?”

And someone standing nearby, 20 years younger, will utter that word that makes you realize you are officially old.

“Who?”

All to say, enjoy each day. Try to constantly remind yourself: the most important thing you have is right now.

Tim Hunter

Ode To George

Taking a break from mowing the lawn long enough to get a picture with George

 

There once was a dog named George.

My sisters or mom may remember better than me how we ended up giving George his name. Somehow in my single-digit years, mom and dad decided that three kids didn’t make a family chaotic enough and that it was time to have a family dog. So we adopted a mutt that was a lot of things, but mostly German Shepherd.  He was black with a light belly, white paws and some brown thrown in. He looked like a dog made by a committee.

I would guess I was 8 or 9 when George arrived.  I don’t remember a lot about him, but I recall he was full of energy. George developed a funny habit of running towards the back gate on the side of our house, which allowed him to jump high and peek over the fence. He would do two or three of those jumps in a row if he heard one of us out front.

His abundant energy was too much for our modest yard, so we would occasionally take him over to some nearby vacant fields to run him. Yeah, it was that long ago. There were vacant fields in Torrance.  It’s now a housing development. We would drive the car out on the dirt road towards the middle of the field and George would just go nuts. Toss a tennis ball and he couldn’t wait to go get it and bring it back.

As happens with pets and kids, the newness wears off and soon, it became my duty to bury the piles in the backyard. I remember him turning into more of a chore and the fun of having a dog started to fade away. Plus, I had the kids in the neighborhood to hang out with.

One day, while George roamed the backyard looking for something to do, he started sniffing around the bushes. He found a new smell and decided to see how it tasted. Sadly, it was snail poison. We had always put it out in the yard, the snails were something fierce. But apparently, this time, George decided to chow down. 

And George was gone.

I remember hearing the news and running back to that gate  he once jumped on so he could see the outside world. He rested on top of the garbage cans, wrapped in a blanket and would remain there until the Humane Society folks came by to take him away. I remember hugging him and bawling my eyes out, regretting every moment that I should have been playing with him, wishing to have back every second I resented him.

In those fifty-plus years since my time with George, two other dogs passed through my life.  Neither compared to the childhood friend that I enjoyed for only a couple of years, but who has stayed with me ever since. George was a tough act to follow. 

The least I could do is write down his story.

Tim Hunter

 

 

The Big One

You know, back when Richard Nixon ran for president, his slogan was “Nixon’s the one!” (and when his re-election rolled around, I remember people saying, “And he’ll be an even bigger one in ’72!”)

My God, there was even a song.

But let’s take a leisurely stroll back towards the topic I originally had in mind.

The Big One. As in earthquakes.

Growing up in southern California, you basically go through earthquake training. From the earliest age, they just showed up every now and then. By the time you realize an earthquake is happening, it’s over.  When you talk with relatives in the Midwest who aren’t afraid of tornadoes or friends back east who dust off hurricanes, both think you’re crazy for living in a place just poised for “The Big One.”

Earthquakes happen. 46 years ago, they had the so-called San Fernando Valley shaker, which killed 64 people near Los Angeles.  At that time, I was a sophomore in high school and when it happened at 6 in the morning, I thought it was my mom trying to wake me up for school. By the time I realized she wasn’t at the end of my bed shaking it, the quake was over.

Yes, there have been sizable earthquakes in the places I’ve resided over the years.  All along, we continually hear warnings that we need to be prepared for The Big One. I’m not saying it won’t happen in my lifetime, but I’ve been through a few cycles of the local TV news people deciding during sweeps to spotlight the threat, remind us to be prepared and how awful it will be after it hits.

In Seattle, they’re expecting communications to be down, impassable roads, panic, etc. But I’m reminded of the year when those of us in Earthquake Country really out-did ourselves.

The year was 1969. In June, I was going to graduate from the 8th grade. (stop looking so surprised) The Reverend Donald Abernathy told his Los Angeles area congregation that he had a vision. God had told him that a big earthquake was going to hit LA and so he convinced his entire church to move to Atlanta.  In the reverend’s vision, God was going to punish the City of Angels for all their sins by turning them into angels.

The result was Earthquake Fever. It was the buzz on everyone’s lips. Eventually, someone pin-pointed the actual time that the quake would hit and California would slide into the ocean. The most often-played song on the radio was all about the inevitable Big One. I offer this up to you with a warning. Listen to it a time or two and it will get stuck in your head.

Well, the big day that had be predicted for the earthquake to strike finally arrived. It was supposed to hit somewhere around 3pm.  I remember riding around on my Sears Schwinn-like bike that day while keeping an eye on my watch.  As a 14-year-old kid, your mind is less bridled. I’m wondering what it will be like? Will there be a big splash?  Will it be fast or gradual?

I checked my watch again. The 3pm deadline had passed. The world continued. Eventually, I graduated from 8th grade as a proud Sam Levy Elementary School Llama. (if there can be such a thing) 48 years later, as of this writing, California is still there.

This week, there was a story in the news that geologists have determined that two of the major southern California earthquake fault lines were actually connected and, in fact, one big fault. In other words, there’s a potentially huge earthquake out there, just waiting to happen. Again.

If you’re a budding song-writer, here’s your chance to catch this wave.

Now, Seattle is said to be overdue for an earthquake of some sort. So, for now, I’ll maintain our stash of stale granola bars under the house, those outdated bottles of water and continue to guard those 96 bottles of outstanding wine in our wine cellar.

Oh and a storm door to keep everyone else out.  At least until the wine is gone.

Tim Hunter

 

The Key To The Treasure Chest

treasure

I finally found it.

For years, I’ve been trying to use a failing reel-to-reel machine to digitize some of the 500+ audio tapes that have collected dust under the house.  It would work, then it wouldn’t. It would start fine, then slow down.  Every dubbing session turned into a major ordeal.

Why do I want to dig out these audio memories?  For several reasons. One, I’ve forgotten about a lot of them and second, I do a weekly podcast that I started up back in ’07. Here’s where you can find all the episodes but, eventually, I’m going to figure out a way to get all these up on iTunes. I’m close, but there are a few technical things that are stumping me.
But when I do, you’ll be among the first to know.

This week, I welcomed two new members of my audio gear family–a brand spankin’ new cassette deck and a beautifully restored reel-to-reel. These have already helped me uncover this nifty little gem from April 26th, 1991. Yes, almost 26 years ago.

It was a Friday morning and the other half of “Murdock & Hunter” as the show was known back then, Bruce Murdock, was sick. That left the patients in charge of the asylum. So, yours truly, Dave Sloan and Alice Porter put on a show.  I grabbed a good chunk of it and edited it down to an “aircheck.”  But, you’ll find so many lost memories in this one. We were celebrating “Secretary’s Week”, there’s a commercial for 1-800-THE-FACE, we were giving away a “typing machine”…the list goes on and on.  You’ll get to hear Dave Sloan as the Moviemeister and Alice Porter acting fairly straight, as was I.  We did get in a performance of “Roman Theater”, one of my proud accomplishments of that era of my career. Listen to the type of music we were playing and you could see that we were still a very sleepy Adult Contemporary station.

LISTEN TO THIS IF YOU DARE

I apologize for the “liner radio” sound, but we were big on that back then. Eventually, we got loose and didn’t adhere to such formality but that, ladies & gentlemen, is what you would have heard in Seattle on 92.5-KLSY in the early 90s.

I can remember being there and saying some of those things, but it feels like a million years ago.

Tim Hunter

THE STORIES BURIED DEEP

archaeologyI’m a fan of history, especially my own.

And while the human mind can remember a lot of things, anyone who’s been around for a while knows, after a while, the old hard-drive gets full.  You can only remember so many things and with today’s information-overload society, I’m afraid a lot of those stories from years gone by are slowly being squeezed out.

 Or, they never made it here in the first place.

During this week’s visit to mom and my sister Debbie down in the hometown of Torrance, California, I picked up quite a few lost stories that were either squeezed out or simply forgotten. Some were never even heard, so I’m choosing to write them down so that either you or me can pull these out when we’re sitting around in the old folks home, wondering why we’re there.

I knew I was born in Gardena, a neighboring city to Torrance, but the story I had always heard was because Torrance didn’t have a hospital of its own. It turns out they DID have a hospital, but the night the water broke and delivery became a matter of time, MY PARENTS COULDN’T FIND THE TORRANCE HOSPITAL!  So they went to the closest one, which was a hop, skip and a jump over in Gardena. I heard this story as we stopped by the site where the elusive hospital once stood.

Hospital Where I Wasn't Born

                The Hospital Where I Wasn’t Born

I ended up having a 30+-year radio career and of all the paths I could have chosen, radio called me. (and I was caller #9)  I found out during this trip down that my mom was also a fan of radio, as she pulled out her official membership certificate she received when she was 11-years-old.  A charter member, no less.

moms-radio-station-membership

During one of the many Happy Hours that break out when we get together, my sister Debbie blurted out some stories one night that I may have heard before, but had forgotten. For example, at her high school graduation from Torrance High School, right after they announced her name, I yelled out at the top of my lungs, “Thank God!”

Then there was  the time that my buddy Tank and I picked up Debbie at the airport in Seattle. (back when you could greet people at the gate)  The moment we saw her, Tank yelled out, “That’s her, officer!  The one with the backpack!” 

Call it frugal, call it cheap, but I was reminded of another tradition of growing up Hunter.  These days, every kid has their own cell phone. But “back in my day”, they had these things called ‘phone booths.’  Each of us busy kids were given a dime.  Say, for example, if my basketball practice ended at 4:30, when I was ready to be picked up, I used a dime to operate a pay phone. I would call the home number, let it ring once, then hang up!  My parents recognized the Hunter code to go pick up a kid, because hanging up without the phone being answered gave me the dime back and I would be ready for the next time.

Dig around your family history and you’ll probably uncover some “almost never was” stories. For example, I can’t imagine being raised in any other home than the one in the middle of the street where my mom has continued to live for 64 years. But apparently, the only house that was available in that development was the one down the street on the end of the block, next to a very busy Hawthorne Blvd.  However, the sale fell through on the eventual Hunter residence and the rest is history. 

Just a few shares about my family story, if nothing else, so that I can look at this blog in the future and remember some of those mini-details that successfully escaped my mind.

I’d like to encourage you to do some digging of your own, to see what nuggets you can uncover.

Tim Hunter 

PS–I also found out that even though Torrance is a fairly large city, with a population of 150,000 people, there are no cemeteries within the city limits.