Norm Crosby


This morning, I noticed a promo for comedian, Norm Crosby. I’d last seen him a year ago or two ago, on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Norm’s ‘act’ always has been the mastery of the malaprop.

“A malapropism is an act of misusing or the habitual misuse of similar sounding words, especially with humorous results. An example is Yogi Berra’s statement: “Texas has a lot of electrical votes,” rather than “electoral votes”.”

Source: Wikipedia

My mother was prone to the occasional malaprop, like this one.

“You’ve got to go to New Orleans, before they all die.”

Source: Koutsie Ebon

The complete thought was regarding our love of jazz, and again population of jazz musicians (from her era) in New Orleans. Well, I finally got to New Orleans in the late 90’s, and I thought of her, often, during that trip.

Careers are strange things. The half-life of a typical NFL player is about five years. Baseball is much longer. Musicians and writers are often people who never choose to retire.

A Missed Opportunity

During the summer of 1973, I took class at UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). That’s a longer story, but the relevant element to this post is enjoyment of music. Elvis Presley was headlining at The International (which became The Las Vegas Hilton, and just recently LVH – Las Vegas Hotel). In the big lounge was Wilson Pickett.

Being the soul music lover I am, I chose to see Wilson Pickett and never made it to an Elvis show. A few years later, Elvis passed away. He was right there… almost all summer. I just didn’t make it a priority. And then he was gone.

Immediately after that wake-up call, I started going on a concert tear. Before ‘bucket list’ was a pop-culture term, I was seeing performers at a pretty brisk pace. Living in San Francisco made that easy.

Sammy Davis Jr. and Count Basie in Lake Tahoe (on the same bill). Sinatra at the Circle Star Theatre in San Carlos, CA. The Circle Star, and its rotating stage was host to many major acts that came through the San Francisco Bay Area. A few performers that I saw there include: Tower of Power, Ray Charles, Buster Poindexter, Average White Band.

Venetian Room at the Fairmont

Venetian Room at the Fairmont

One of my favorite venues was the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Until the late 1990’s, it was a showroom, usually two shows nightly. The early show was a dinner show. Some of the performers I saw there included: Ella Fitzgerald, Kenny Rankin, James Brown (featuring Maceo Parker), Blood Sweat & Tears, Toni Tennille, Tony Bennett, Mel Torme & George Shearing, Dr. John, and the list goes on.

I saw The Rat Pack Revival – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, & Sammy Davis Jr. at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. That was the first show on their tour. Subsequently, Dean Martin was replaced by Liza Minnelli. I’m sure people enjoyed Liza, but I felt privileged to see the original three.

At the height of her success, I saw Janet Jackson, also at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. Saw George Burns and Bill Cosby in Tahoe. Paul McCartney at the Memorial Coliseum, Berkeley. George Benson, Seawind, Lyle Lovett & Ricki Lee Jones at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.

Those, and many more make up my concert memories. And, in spite of all that, I’ve still missed a few. Isaac Hayes comes to mind. His live 2-CD set, Live at the Sahara Tahoe is one of my favorites. I’ve still not seen Aretha Franklin. Never saw the Jacksons or Michael Jackson.

Many of these musical moments are burned in my memory. I can still visualize segments of performances, as though I were right there, at that time.

The clear morale, for me, is:

There isn’t always ‘next year’ or ‘next time’.

Whatever one loves to do… go to concert, visit museums, walk in the park, go to sports events, travel the country or the world, go do it. If you live in a small market, events are fewer, and one tends to make a point of attending. Sometimes, in larger metro area, the choices are everywhere, and one takes them for granted.

Clearly, I have reached the point where I take nothing for granted. I have a lifetime of memories and plan on enjoying a lot more. And, in writing this post, a flood of memories return. And now, I’m dug into the entertainment section to see what’s coming to town.

What have you missed? What have you always wanted to do, and never done? What state or country have you wanted to visit, but not travled there, yet?

Our lives should be chock full of experiences. We never get to all of them. But we shouldn’t stop trying.

Don’t you think?

Andy Ebon
First-Generation New Yorker