Residents Of Grand Rapids Make "The Greatest Music Video Ever"?

Despite being beset by massive unemployment and home foreclosures, residents of Grand Rapids, Michigan aren't happy being on the Mainstreet.com list of dying cities. 

So they did something about it.

5,000 of them decided to get in the news for something else; they set out to break the world record for largest lip sync ever, to Don McLean's sombre "American Pie."   And so they did, as you can see below.

"We felt Don McLean's 'American Pie,' a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope," said producer Rob Bliss, who helped raise the $40,000 needed to make the 9-minute mini-film, to create what Roger Ebert calls "the greatest music video ever.

"Nerf battles, pillow fights, sparklers, this has it all.  And they don't look all that unhappy to me.  Instead, it looks like a pretty nice place to live.  People need to care about their future and not just hope someone bails them out.  And Grand Rapids, Michigan cares.

For its part, MainStreet.com says "It's a remarkable video that truly shows off the sense of community and pride of Grand Rapids residents and we at MainStreet were genuinely moved by it."

Grand Rapids event organizer Rob Bliss rallied local celebrities to lip sync to a recording of Don McLean's epic 1972 song “American Pie” to show off the city and its people with pillow fighters, cheerleaders, swing dancers and plenty of acoustic guitar-carrying Don McClean impersonators.

Calling the day's filming “fantastic,” Bliss estimated more than 3,000 were on hand to watch as well as participate in several crowd scenes.

“We got so lucky, and it was so well rehearsed, all the puzzle pieces fell together,” he said afterward. “We created the world largest and longest lip dub video in just four hours.”

 The project involving police cruisers, firetrucks and a helicopter flyover, originally scheduled for May 15, was canceled due to rain. But Sunday's skies were mostly clear, and weather was in the 70s to shoot the video that opened with WOOD-TV (Channel 8) chief meteorologist Bill Steffen as the first familiar face.“Everyone's being a good sport and catching on, and every take is getting better,” said key production assistant Greg Kort, supervising that area.

Bliss said he hired about 44 people for the project, projected to cost some $37,000 prior to the May 15 delay.

Lip Dub Helicopter Fly Over Lip Dub Helicopter Fly Over A helicopter flies over Grand Rapids as crowds wave for the finale of the Grand Rapids lip dub to "American Pie." Watch video

“They took something that was basically impossible and broke it down into manageable pieces to make this work,” Bliss said. “That's how it happened.”

 The song about the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper – “The Day the Music Died” – is packed with descriptive imagery, which lead to zombies lining both sides of the Pearl Street Bridge, shooting foam darts at each other while balls of fire exploded in the background from the nearby Gillette Pedestrian Bridge.

“When Rob and I walked through this scene, I realized he really thought it through,” said Tommy Allen, lifestyle editor for Rapid Growth, who participated in the segment.

The nod to Bliss' downtown Zombie Walks was one of several references to his earlier projects.

 “He sprinkled a few of his events through this,” said Chris Kotcher, of Grand Rapids, organizing chalk drawings in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, where Karen Dunnam, simply showed up with a sousaphone and promptly was included in the filming near the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Grand Rapids Lip Dub Pearl Bridge Scene Grand Rapids Lip Dub Pearl Bridge Scene Creo Productions records kayakers in the Grand River and Mayor George Heartwell in the making of the Grand Rapids lip dub to "American Pie," by Don McLean. Watch video

“What's fun is people are arriving, and they have no idea what's going on,” said Dunnam, of Grand Rapids, who plays with Calder Street Stampers.

But Joy and Steve Glaze drove in early from Grand Haven to be part of the opening crowd on Lyons Street, starting at Ottawa Avenue.

 “We're Dubbettes,” Joy Glaze said with a laugh.

Some 23 kids from Grand Rapids Gymnastics were having a fun time doing handstands, back springs and back walk overs as part of a parade sequence along Monroe Center, said Linda Van Houten.

“What a tremendous opportunity to be a part of it,” she said. “It's something they'll always remember.”

“I'm not a very good actor,” Steffen said. “But I grew up with this music.”

Before it was done, members of the Forest Hills Central football team and marching band, kayakers from the Grand Rapids Whitewater Society, and women in 1940s clothing, waving handkerchiefs from the second floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, all had made brief appearances.

“Grand Rapids is an incredible town,” said longtime local arts activist Sharon Yentsch, watching rehearsal at Rosa Parks Circle. “Residents should be proud.”

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2 Iraqis indicted on terrorism charges in Kentucky


An Iraqi citizen who allegedly carried out numerous improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and another alleged to have participated in the Iraqi insurgency have been arrested and indicted in Kentucky on federal terrorism charges, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Alwan and Hammadi were arrested on May 25, 2011, on criminal complaints and made their initial appearances today in federal court in Louisville, Ky.   Each faces a potential sentence of life in prison if convicted of all the charges in the indictment.   Both defendants were closely monitored by federal law enforcement authorities in the months leading up to their arrests.   Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States.

Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, both former residents of Iraq who currently live in Bowling Green, were charged May 26 in a 23-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green.

Alwan is charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. nationals abroad; distributing information on the manufacture and use of IEDs; attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaeda in Iraq; and conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.

Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaeda in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.

“Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq.   His co-defendant Mohanad Shareef Hammadi is accused of many of the same activities.   With these arrests, which are the culmination of extraordinary investigative work by law enforcement and intelligence officials, the support provided by these individuals comes to an end and they will face justice,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

The indictments were unsealed Tuesday and announced by the Justice Department’s acting assistant attorney general for national security, along with the U.S. attorney’s office and FBI in Louisville and the Louisville Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The unsealed indictments can be read in full at:  http://www.justice.gov/

Sarah Palin: The Call at Gettysburg

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Sarah Palin is going rogue again. Want to cover the potential Republican presidential candidate? Better bring your running shoes.

Unlike most carefully choreographed presidential campaigns that routinely release detailed candidate schedules, Palin's staff is keeping most of the national news media in the dark about her political action committee's bus tour this week.

Sarah Palin pulled a clever bait and switch on reporters in Gettysburg on Tuesday, as her "One Nation" bus tour rolls into its third day.

The Palin family and a few members of her staff snuck out of their hotel early, leaving their flashy bus behind in the hotel parking lot to give reporters chasing her the impression that she was still readying for the day.

As members of Palin's advance staff began to roll out luggage to the bus on Tuesday morning, a crush of media and tourists gathered to meet the potential presidential candidate on her way out of the hotel.

But CNN was soon tipped off that Palin was long gone, off to visit the Civil War battlefields and onward toward Philadelphia.

Todd Palin told a handful of reporters Tuesday that his wife will decide on her own whether or not to seek the presidency. He is not pushing her one way or the other, he said.

But he emphasized that if the former Alaska governor does choose to embark on another national campaign, he and their children will be ready.

"This family has been tested," Palin said. "When people talk about how she was just plucked up out of Wasilla, you have to look at her career. Every step in her career is another step for the family, and we were prepared.

"These kids grew up around the mayor of small town," he added. "Local politics is in your face every day. It's not like you get on a plane and fly to D.C. or Juneau."

The normally-reserved Palin opened up about his family for a few moments after he and Sarah pulled over their "One Nation" bus at Coffee Express, a charming café in the central Pennsylvania town of Dillsburg.

Palin said there is a list of "pros and cons" that the family is weighing. "But this country, we have to get back on the right track," he said.

Echoing his wife's earlier declarations that the presidential field will take time to settle, Todd Palin said she has time to make up her mind.

The race is "a long ways away," he said - a calculation that is sure to be disputed by other Republicans who are already laying presidential groundwork in key early caucus and primary states.

"It's up to her what she decides to do," Palin said. "I am not pushing her either way. It's her decision."

He said Palin has no plans to invite reporters onto their tour bus for gab sessions, in the style of John McCain's 'Straight Talk Express' bus from the 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

"It's a different scenario," he said. "She's employed by Fox."

On Memorial day Sarah Palin delivered the following speech:

The Call at Gettysburg
Posted on May 31, 2011

When I first visited Gettysburg years ago, I was overwhelmed with the sense of sacrifice made to secure our union, but my most recent visit this morning was even more significant as subsequent visits allow reflection on the state of our union today. Striking to me is how ready and willing troops and civilians were in 1863 to lay their lives on the line. Are we as ready and willing to accept the call for sacrifice today in order to keep our union secure?

Hopefully the kids on school field trips whom we met this morning grasped the poignant irony at the site we toured together: that such a beautiful stretch of the Pennsylvania countryside should have been the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. But perhaps it’s fitting that such a sacred place should be so beautiful now in order to commemorate the terrible sacrifices made to bring about, in the words of Lincoln’s famous address, "a new birth of freedom."

But this "new birth of freedom" wasn’t fully realized by the generation that paid the price for it. Over 100 years after the battle, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declared, "Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children." It took the struggle for Civil Rights to truly complete what Lincoln called "the unfinished work" for which the heroes of Gettysburg "gave the last full measure of devotion."

Today, when we speak of "fundamentally restoring all that is good in America," we remember the debt of gratitude we owe to those who sacrificed to create and preserve our union. From the Civil War to the struggle for Civil Rights, generations of Americans have made great sacrifices necessary to pass on to us this great gift of freedom. It’s our duty to them to preserve it, cherish it, and pass it on to our children, so "that these dead shall not have died in vain…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

When duty calls, are we willing to answer today? Please remember that freedom isn't free - the price paid for our liberty has been great.

The reminders of the past costs are seen at Gettysburg. The way forward in protecting our unified body is encapsulated in Lincoln's 2nd inaugural address: "...with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."

- Sarah Palin

Red Skelton: A lesson in American History

Red Skelton made us laugh just by looking at him, but he gave us his best performance in this heart felt defense of the Pledge of Allegiance many years ago. Sometimes the lesson's of the past need to be revisited.  Now is one of those times! Please pause for a moment today and consider how the efforts of the men and women of America's Armed Forces has contributed to the greatness of our nation.

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
 - -George Orwell--

Be convinced that to be happy means to be free and that to be free means to be brave. Therefore do not take lightly the perils of war.

The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.
--George Patton-

A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living.
--John F. Kennedy--

From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.
 --Thomas Jefferson-

Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem.
--Ronald Reagan--

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.
  --Ernest Miller Hemmingway-

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
                                          --John Stewart Mills                                           

Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
-Winston Churchill--

We make war that we may live in peace.

Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good is coming July 4, 2011

The first publicity roll out for the July 4, launch of "Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good" will start with a short segment on the Documentary Channel (DISH 197 and DIRECT 267) on Memorial Day and then run into the month of June. It's the first of much to come!
It will also be uploaded next week at documentarychannel.com/getdoc.
Thanks for supporting our troops, first responders and their families! Jonathan
Scott Hopkins, Pop BitezThe Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good is a moving documentary feature film that celebrates America’s heroes and chronicles the journey of Academy Award Nominated actor, Gary Sinise, who since 9/11 has vowed to never to forget those who are willing to give all.

At it’s heart, Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good is about America and our relationship with the brave men and women of our armed forces, the first responders, their families and the many wonderful citizens that support them. It is, in many ways, a celebration and tribute to the best of our best and, to the filmmaker’s great credit, it’s all presented in a completely non-partisan way, honestly and free of bravado or jingoism.

The Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good has an amazing soundtrack and special appearances by numerous celebrities, including John Ratzenberger, Melina Kanakaredes, Mykelti Williamson, Connie Stevens, and Academy Award Winners, Jon Voight and Robert Duvall.
Produced and directed by Hollywood filmmaker  Jonathan Flora, this inspiring film provides a rare glimpse at the inner workings of Sinise’s heart-felt commitment to our troops as we follow the actor/ musician and his band to several military bases around the world.

“When we first started deploying to Afghanistan and started losing troops, I immediately called the United Service Organization asking what I could do,” Sinise explained in the film. He said he felt for the families of the fallen, and felt it was his responsibility to do something for the troops who were sacrificing so much after the events of 9/11.

The behind-the- scenes look at how a USO tour is put together is as enlightening as it is fun and, with interviews of the soldiers and military personnel interspersed, Producer Jonathan Flora does an excellent job of showing us the “how” without ever losing sight of the “why”

About the director:

After serving 12 years with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, Jonathan Flora received his B.S.A. in Television Performance and Production (Telecommunications) from Ohio University.  Following three years as a radio sports broadcaster in Southern Ohio, Jonathan returned to O.U. to earn his M.S.A. in Marketing (Sports Administration) and went on to serve as the Director of Marketing and Corporate Sponsorships with the World Wrestling Federation for six years.  Jonathan Flora is a producer with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and has won numerous Key Art and Promax Awards. Along with his wife Deborah, they formed Lamplight Entertainment in 2009.The LT. DAN BAND: FOR THE COMMON GOOD moovie is the first major release for Lamplight Entertainment.    http://www.lamplightent.com/

“As a veteran and filmmaker working in Hollywood, it is a privilege to be able to support our troops and first responders through our medium.  The spirit of service and commitment to the greater good has always served as an example to me. 

Lt. Dan Band is about remembering those who are willing to lay down their lives for others and those who are left behind.  Gary Sinise is a man who has chosen to remember and to honor.  Gary truly is the Bob Hope of this generation.”

Jonathan currently serves on the Advisory Board for the GI Film Festival, formed to honor films that celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the American military.

 Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good

"A wonderful and inspiring chronicle of Gary and his fellow musicians, as they journey across America and the world. But the real point of the film, as it should be, is to shine a much-needed light on those in uniform, whose tremendous sacrifices can never — and must never — be taken for granted." — Jerry Bruckheimer, Hollywood Producer: Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, Blackhawk Down, Remember the Titans 

"A powerful and compelling tribute that continues to resonate long after the movie has ended. It is also that rare film that entertains even as it inspires. It's a clear reminder of my friend, Gary Sinise's talent and character. He's one of our 'good guys.'" — Ron Howard, Hollywood director, producer, actor

"What a compelling piece of work... very moving! A must see for all Americans... It leaves one feeling inadequate and certainly wanting to do more." — Pat Riley, NBA Hall of Fame Coach-Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, President — Miami Heat

"It made me proud not only to be the Chief of Department of the greatest Fire Department but also to be an American!" — Salvatore J. Cassano, Fire Commissioner, City of New York

"Gary Sinise is the Bob Hope of our generation!"
— Major General John F. Campbell, Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

"Jonathan Flora has delivered a moving portrayal of service and sacrifice! Connects in powerful ways with troops, first responders, and their families!" — Sloan Gibson, President, USO

“Lt. Dan Band” received the Crystal Heart Award from the 2010 Heartland Film Festival in October.  With a special appearance by actor Gary Sinise, the screening was a packed house and received five standing ovations.  http://www.heartlandfilmfestival.org/

This inspiring film will be available to watch in the comfort and privacy of your own homes beginning on July 4th! By logging onto http://www.ltdanbandmovie.com/ you’ll be able to stream the movie andone of out of every four dollars will be donated to organizations that support the military and their families such as the USO, Snowball Express, Operation International Children and more.
*Scott Hopkins, Pop Bitez contributed to this article.

In honor of those who gave all please consider donating to one of the following:

Marilyn Monroe: Never before seen pictures bought for $2 at Garage Sale!

By Jennifer Madison-30th May 2011

When a U.S. photographer bought two envelopes of negatives at a 1980 garage sale, he scored the bargain of a lifetime - but he didn't even know it.

Anton Fury has unveiled never-before-seen images of a young Marilyn Monroe, which he purchased for $2 at a sale in Parsippany, New Jersey.

One envelope contained eight images, including several of the bikini-clad actress striking poses at a poolside photoshoot, and a photo of the famous blonde lying in a bed with a mystery man by her side.

The second envelope contained about 70 negatives of late actress Jayne Mansfield.

It wasn't until Fury took the packages home, and gave the black-and-white negatives a closer look that he realized his discovery - which he has kept secret for more than three decades, he told CNN.

Fury recalled: 'I found an envelope of negatives, didn't know what they were, but I realized they were old.

'I took it home, put them on the lightboard with a loupe, and, needless to say, these are Marilyn,' he said. 'That was probably my greatest garage sale discovery ever.'

He kept the findings under wraps until last week, when he took them to Beverly Hills art dealer and appraiser David W Streets, who is experienced with Monroe archives.

Poolside: Images feature Monroe wearing two bathing suits, including a bikini

Art appraiser David W Streets believes the photos were taken in 1950. Monroe would have been 24 at the time these photo's were taken.

Pre-fame: Art appraiser David W Streets believes the photos were taken in 1950. Monroe would have been 24

While he is certain the images of the world's most famous blonde are authentic, questions remain over who shot them and exactly when they were taken.

He suspects, in 1950, before her breakout roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, when she sported a shorter hair style.

Streets told CNN: 'I've looked for early photographs, early test shots, magazine shots, books, and haven't been able to find anything yet, so the mystery we're just beginning to unravel.'

Rare finds: While one envelope contained the images of Monroe (seen here), a second contained about 70 negatives of late actress Jayne Mansfield

A lead: Monroe (seen here) and Mansfield were known to be friends, which could help art dealers uncover more details about the photos

He is sure, however, the images were taken in Los Angeles, citing the 1950s architecture and Hollywood Hills seen sloping in the background.
Streets is investigating leads as to who took the photos, noting there is one man pictured in both the Monroe and Mansfield photographs, who could be the photographer.

He explained: 'We know that Monroe and Mansfield were here working at the same time, were contemporaries and friends. So, there's an intertanglement there that we're going to unravel.'
Mystery man: Streets is investigating leads as to who took the photos, noting there is one man pictured in both the Monroe and Mansfield photographs, who could be the photographer

Mystery man: Streets is investigating leads as to who took the photos, noting there is one man pictured in both the Monroe and Mansfield photographs, who could be the photographer

For sale? Fury has not ruled out selling the images although he risks the mystery photographer revealing himself to make copyright claims by going public

Fury has not ruled out putting up the images for sale to the public, although making his findings public he risks the mystery photographer revealing himself to make copyright claims.

Fury said: 'That's kind of what we're trying to figure out. There's way more questions than there are answers at this point. We don't know where this is going to lead.'

Fury doesn’t mention why he kept the photos to himself for more than thirty years.

In separate news but at a fitting time, starting June 1st (the day Marilyn would have turned 85-years-old) the Andrew Weiss Gallery will open an exhibit in Marilyn’s honor. It will include photos by famous photographers like Bill Carroll, George Barris, and Laszlo Willinger.

For more information about Marilyn Monroe visit:


Dan Wheldon pulls off lucky Indy Win!


Dan Wheldon pulls off a lucky Indy win as race leader Hildebrand slams wall at turn four!

100 yrs of Indy 500

Three thousand or so drivers and one field of 33,  but only one man (or woman) will make the history books crowned as a legend today.

A.J. Foyt Jr. takes pole for all-time lineup at the Brickyard. Row 1 – A.J. Foyt Jr., Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr.

Four victories, 35 races, 12,272.5 miles and 53 years as either a driver or owner not only put A.J. on the pole, they make him Mr. Indy. And who else to sit alongside but the other two four-time winners?

Row 2 – Bill Vukovich, Wilbur Shaw, Helio Castroneves

Vukovich beats out two three-time winners as perhaps the most iconic figure in Speedway history. He wasn’t around long – just five years – but in those five years he won twice (1953-54), broke down just nine laps from another victory (1952) and was on his way to a third straight victory when he was killed while leading in 1955. Row 3 – Louis Meyer, Mauri Rose, Bobby Unser

Will three time Indy winner Helio bring home a fourth win? He is only the 9th driver to achieve three wins and the first foreign-driver to do so.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has spent the past few years celebrating what it's called the "Centennial Era," which is marketing shorthand for "years building up to the hundredth anniversary." This has essentially meant a few fancy logos, a revamp of the storied speedway's museum, and not much else, until now. This is the big one, the actual anniversary celebration, and it's a doozy. No other motor race on the planet has run for as long in the same place, or under such consistent circumstances. And no other motorsport event is as widely recognized. It is also the world’s largest single-day sporting event attracting more than 400,000 fans. Nearly everyone on the planet has heard of it.

 Topping things off, vintage-rubber specialist Coker Tire is building a running replica of the Marmon Wasp, the first 500 winner . The “Wasp” Ray Harroun drove to victory in 1911 will be featured in two ceremonial laps during pre-race festivities for the 100th anniversary edition. Parnelli Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner, will drive the No. 32 Marmon “Wasp” during both laps.

Only 40 cars stared the race in 1911, all powered by a 600 cu in engine. The race was won by Ray Harroun in his Marmon Model 32-based Wasp racer, a car that featured his invention, the rear view mirror. At the race, there were 80,000 spectators and many of them considered Harroun a real danger during the race, being the only one driving without the mandatory riding mechanic.

Also, 11 Indianapolis 500 winners will drive 11 Indianapolis 500-winning cars in another parade lap. Leading the winners’ parade lap will be Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman of the Board Mari Hulman George and four-time winner A.J. Foyt Jr. “Super Tex” will drive the Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Coupe that served as the pace car at the 1977 Indianapolis 500, Foyt’s fourth career win. Also driving in the winners’ lap will be legendary winning car-owner Andy Granatelli, in a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro convertible Pace Car.

Race Day at Indianapolis (all times ET)

8 a.m. Spectacle of Bands
9:25 a.m. 500 Princess Lap
9:50 a.m. 1911 Race Cars Pace Lap
10 a.m. Past Indy 500 Winners Pace Lap
10:30 a.m. Fearless at the 500 Stunt
11 a.m. Decade Cars Pace Lap
11:10 a.m. Military Salute Pace Lap
11:30 a.m. Driver Intros
11:47 a.m. America the Beautiful, performed by Miss America, Teresa Scanlan
11:51 a.m. God Bless America, performed by Florence Henderson
11:54 a.m. Our National Anthem, performed by David Foster, Seal and Kelly Clarkson
11:57 a.m. Invocation, given by Bishop Christopher Coyne
12:02 p.m. Taps
12:03 p.m. Back Home Again in Indiana, performed by Jim Nabors
12:05 p.m. Command To Start Engines, given by Mari Hulman-George
12:10 p.m. Pace Laps, led by A.J. Foyt
12:12 p.m. Start

 In 1936 a tradition was born when the winner of the race, Louis Meyer drank a bottle of buttermilk right after the race was over.

In 2005, Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead the race, only four laps before the end. However, the female rookie driver was not able to hold off Dan Wheldon, who managed to win the race.

 What began as highlights on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” in 1965 with Jim Clark’s victory in a Lotus/Ford moved to a same-day, primetime program in 1971 and became a live telecast (except in Indianapolis) in 1986.

ESPN on ABC’s production will use 64 cameras, including a 360-degree rotating onboard camera mounted behind the driver on multiple cars. Unique views will come from Batcam, a high-definition camera running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch that can move at more than 80 mph.

All 33 cars will carry GPS boxes for the Sportvision RaceFX system to provide telemetry and pointers to help identify the cars for viewers. ESPN will use a radio replay system that can record, play back and edit radios from any of the 33 drivers, and viewers will learn more about the technical aspects of the sport with segments from the Emmy-winning ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.

In addition, the IMS Radio Network will broadcast live, with pre-race coverage also starting at 11 a.m. (EDT). Coverage also can be heard on SiriusXM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of INDYCAR. SiriusXM listeners can hear the race on Channel 94 on XM and Channel 212 on Sirius Premier.
ABC will televise the Indianapolis 500 for the 47th consecutive year Sunday, with live pre-race coverage starting at 11 a.m. (EDT) and race coverage at noon.

Emmylou Harris Releases new CD "Hard Bargain"

Photo by Raymond L Tharaldson
All Rights Reserved 2010

If you didn’t know who Emmylou Harris was, and you met her at a bar and asked her about what she did for a living, you probably wouldn’t believe a word she said. Right from the very beginning, and seemingly without even trying, her career has been all but mythological in its scope. Over the past 40 years, she’s sung with Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Mark Knopfler, Linda Ronstadt and Willie Nelson – just to name a few – while at the same time creating an impressive body of solo work that would be the envy of anyone in the business. Yet, none of this seems to have fazed her in the least, as Harris seems has avoided the temptations of stardom to focus on singing and playing some of the best country-influenced music being recorded today.
Harris keeps it simple on her 25th solo album, Hard Bargain. It is a stripped-down, intimate affair that relies on trust and intuition as much as it does on hard work and professionalism. With producer Jay Joyce on guitar and Giles Reaves on piano and percussion, Hard Bargain is an example of world-class woodshedding and features log cabin music of the highest order. As ever, the spotlight is on Harris’ still -transcendent voice. The years haven’t diminished the purity of her vocals, and the few rough edges that can be heard from time to time only add to the appeal as her voice covers these songs like a worn-in favorite pair of old jeans.
After spending her career as a first-rate interpreter of other people’s songs, in recent years, Harris has begun to tell her own stories and trust her raconteur’s voice. Of the 13 songs on this disc, 11 of them are originals, and for the most part they come off as very solid and true. Beginning with “The Road” – a song that recalls Harris’ formative musical and personal relationship with Gram Parsons – Hard Bargain is an album of songs that illuminates the singer’s place in time and the events that have brought her to where she is. Looking back over the years, she sings “I can still remember every song you played” as she still continues to carry a musical torch for Parsons that can be heard in many of these songs. The reaching back in this track is bookended by a more recent loss described in “Darling Kate” – a tribute to her old friend and collaborator, Kate McGarrigle. It is a lovely and poignant eulogy that avoids being maudlin and strengthens the emotional truth of the other songs on the album that all concern themselves with life’s many challenges and pitfalls.
As much as anything else, Hard Bargain is an album of reminiscences that is both personal and universal. In songs like “The Ship On His Arm” the listener hears Harris coming to terms with her past, the places she’s stood and the people who have been important to her as she defines her place in the here and now. “Goodnight Old World” is a perfect example of this that explores the perspective a new grandchild imposes upon us as the years go by. Even on “My Name is Emmett Till” her account of the 1955 murder of a black teenaged boy in Mississippi, a subtly inferred moral obligation to keep this story alive for people who may have forgotten it weaves the song into the greater context of the album. The truth of Harris’ words compliment the rage and disgust of Dylan’s “Death of Emmett Till” from 1962 by imbuing the lyrics with the wisdom gained from living and travelling through the disparate Americas that have risen and fallen over the last five decades.
At 64 years of age, Emmylou Harris has had one of the most consistent careers in music and could certainly be forgiven if she decided to slow down and rest on her laurels. But, this absolutely isn’t the case with Hard Bargain. A solidly sung, played and written collection of songs, it is a very fine release that will almost certainly find a welcome reception from her longtime fans.

April 30, 2011 - Oslo, Norway (Sentrum Scene)
May 1, 2011 - Bergen, Norway (Grieghallen)
May 23, 2011 - Copenhagen, Denmark (Danish National Radios Hall)
May 24, 2011 - Stockholm, Sweden - (Cirkus)
May 25, 2011 - Gothenburg, Sweden - (Konserthuset)
May 28, 2011 - Dublin, Ireland - (Grand Canal Theatre)
May 29, 2011 - Glasgow, Scotland (Royal Concert Hall)
May 30, 2011 - Manchester, UK - (Bridgewater Hall)
June 1, 2011 - London, UK - (Royal Festival Hall)
June 2, 2011 - Bruges, Belgium - (Concertgebouw)Ticket info
June 3, 2011 - Amsterdam, Holland - (Royal Theatre Carre)
June 5, 2011 - Munich, Germany - (Philharmonie)
June 6, 2011 - Frankfurt, Germany - (Jahhunderthalie)
June 8, 2011 - Berlin, Germany - (Admiralspalast)
June 16, 17, 18, 2011 - Telluride, CO (Telluride)
June 21, 2011 - Austin, TX (Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater)
June 23, 2011 - Owensboro, KY ( ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival)
July 9, 2011 - Orrilia, Ontario (Mariposa Folk festival)
July 15, 2011 - Cortland, NY (Greek Peak)- Ticket info
July 17, 2011 - Greenfield, MA (Green River Festival)
July 18, 2011 - NYC, NY (Central Park SummerStage @ Rumsey Playfield)
July 23, 2011 - Vienna, VA (Filene Center)
July 27, 2011 - Red Bank, NJ (Count Basie Theatre)
July 31, 2011 - Newport, RI (Newport Folk Festival) - pre sale code EMMY - good through March 30th

Recent Appearances
January 9, 2011 - Sydney, Australia (State Theatre, Sydney Festival)
January 10, 2011 - Sydney, Australia (State Theatre, Sydney Festival)
March 4, 2011 - Birmingham, AL (BJCC Concert Hall)
March 5, 2011 - Huntsville, AL (Von Braun Center Concert Hall)
March 17, 2011 - Austin, TX (SXSW)
April 9, 2011 - Chicago, IL (Old Town Spring)
April 21, 2011 - Los Angeles, CA (El Rey)
April 26, 2011 - NY, NY (The Bowery)

It's John Wayne's birthday!

A time to remember John Wayne at his best, and line up some prime viewing for Memorial Day.

In his most popular and enduring non-Western, John Ford's 1952 "The Quiet Man," he plays a boxer afraid of his own strength because he once killed a man in the ring. He does one of the slowest burns in film history, expressing the splutter with a hitch in his rolling walk and the way he dispatches a butt like a spear to the ground as if to say he finally means business. And his reluctance to be violent makes him likable, even noble.

That valiant manliness is at Wayne's core as a performer, even when he plays against it in movies like "Red River" (1948) and "The Searchers" (1956). It's what made Wayne an enduring luminary even when his politics and tactics seemed to rival Slim Pickens' riding the A-bomb to Armageddon in "Dr. Strangelove."

"The Duke" had the true star's instinct of delivering what his followers wanted before they even knew they wanted it. For example, in the smash romantic comedy "Without Reservations" (1946), Wayne co-stars with "It Happened One Night's" Claudette Colbert. But Wayne is the one who carries the comedy, especially when espousing values that aren't 19th century - they're 17th century.

He sums up his stance in a remarkable speech that memorializes the pioneers:

"Do you think these pioneers filled out form number X6277 and sent in a report saying the Indians were a little unreasonable? Did they have insurance for their old age, for their crops, for their homes? They did not! They looked at the land, and the forest, and the rivers. They looked at their wives, their kids and their houses, and then they looked up at the sky and they said thanks, God, we'll take it from here." - John Wayne

Whether you find that statement inspiring, appalling or both, there was no question Wayne believed in it. It took him 10 years to develop his role in Hollywood movies as the personification of rugged individualism. He sustained it for 3 1/2 decades.

More than any of his peers, he retained a rabid fan base and an image forceful enough to bring Old Western style into modern settings and make viewers of all political stripes enjoy the incongruity. His unpretentious flamboyance evoked nostalgia for wide open spaces even in urban boys and girls.

Wayne had been acting for 10 years as an extraordinarily eager kid, just making friends with the camera, when Ford cast him in 1939's "Stagecoach" as the Ringo Kid and brought out all his rough-edged amiability. The Kid is handy with a gun and cagey around the law. He has a steady intelligence. Yet he's so unworldly that he's surprised when the other stagecoachers shun a whore. When he stares with love at the touching Claire Trevor, he looks ready to melt. Wayne is never more of a man's man in "Stagecoach" than when he's most like a boy.

It took Howard Hawks to toughen Wayne's image into the grizzled patriarch who could make taciturnity seem belligerent. His most famous role for Hawks was as the Captain Bligh of the cattle drive in "Red River." When Ford saw what Hawks could do with Wayne, he gave him even meatier parts.

On Memorial Day weekend, TV channels generally trot out Wayne's World War II pictures. But Wayne's Westerns were often better military movies.

In Ford's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," which Wayne made the same year (1949) as "The Sands of Iwo Jima," he plays Captain Nathan Brittles, who must try to halt the spread of a vast, pan-tribal Indian war following Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn.

"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" accents the virtues of Wayne's leathery sagebrush sage, who could handle any job without raising a sweat. Every word Brittles says counts. He isn't overly sensitive - or at least not overtly sensitive - but he feels the ties of family, community and country.

In this movie, Wayne brings an audience inside qualities that in lesser performers could be dramatically intractable, like rough-hewn dignity and reticence. The extra second it takes for him to bark out an emotional command only adds depth to his authority, and when Ford gives him a chance to express his feelings directly - at the graves of his wife and two daughters - he has a mellow, rueful veracity.

Although the movie hardly questions the role of the cavalry in the Indian Wars, Brittles and an Indian chief agree that they are too old to fight wars - and that old men should stop wars.

No movie actor ever showed a more exquisite control over values and emotions like faith, duty, honor, or loyalty than Wayne does in "Yellow Ribbon" or in Ford's "Rio Grande" (1950). In "Rio Grande," co-star Maureen O'Hara embodies just the kind of woman the Wayne hero would set his cap for: fiery, beautiful, independent, not standing for any guff. Few evocations of tormented love equal the scene when the regimental chorus serenades Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke (Wayne) and his estranged wife, Kathleen (O'Hara). As the couple listens to "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," longing and sadness, sweetness and hurt play through their faces.

Wayne was at his seriocomic peak in Hawks' giddy oater, "Rio Bravo" (1959). He was so confident, so self-sufficient without seeming self-satisfied, that Hawks played the rest of the cast against him for laughs. Wayne could fall down a flight of stairs and knock himself out and risk his neck on the reliability of a wheezing drunk (Dean Martin) and an old geezer (Walter Brennan) without ever losing his dignity.

It become a trick of nature that nothing could unhinge John Wayne.

Movie buffs remember these specific performances. Most Americans will think of Wayne in random images rolling from the expanse of his prairie-like career. Some may miss the big-cat. Others may miss his dry voice and even delivery, which sometimes went on rambling even after his brain raced ahead.

He could be pompous in propaganda films like "Big Jim McLain" (1952) and "The Green Berets" (1968). But one year after "The Green Berets," he showed in "True Grit" that he didn't have to take himself too seriously. His Rooster Cogburn was an intentional cartoon reactionary, an unwashed, law-and-order autocrat of the drinking table, ordering a rat to stop chomping a friend's dinner and shooting it when it refused.

Wayne never lost the eagerness that was his first discernible trait. In his last film, "The Shootist" (1976) he used it to weld together everything he knew. The film was set up, distastefully, as a premature obituary, with Wayne playing a gunslinger who knew he was dying of cancer. But Wayne knew exactly what he was doing - he was playing an outsized character, a myth, himself. And he lived up to it. Wayne didn't truckle to our sentiments.

It was inevitable that Wayne should end his career with a Western. Wayne helped invest the form with his own brawling good nature - and in films like "Red River," wrestled with its dark side. He created a cowboy legacy that every other Western star or filmmaker would have to grapple with. Even today, you can hear them lining up and saying, "Thanks, Duke - we'll take it from here."