Hall of Influence – Class 2

The time has come to add to the hallowed chamber that is The Hall of Influence. Today we will be inducting three new members from diverse fields…sports, literature, and music. Though these areas of interest may not measure high on the scale of significance in the big picture that is our universe, I am sure most will concede that they do add immeasurable joy, pleasure, and interest to most of our lives to some degree.

 

Let us first venture onto the football field. Anyone who meets me knows within 10 minutes that I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and have been for over 30 years. I began to be interested in and understand football at a very young age, even before I started school. Living in the state of West Virginia there are no professional sports teams because there just isn’t the population or economic base to support such a venture. However, I am fortunate to live within a couple of hours of the city of Pittsburgh, and I just happened to be born right as the heretofore hapless Steelers were morphing from a team that had never been very competitive to one that would ultimately come to be thought of as NFL royalty, one of the most successful franchises in team sports. They were the first team to ever win 4 Super Bowls, winning back to back titles twice within a 6 year period from 1974-1980 and have won two more since that time. When contemplating just who should represent the Steelers in The Hall of Influence many names ran through my mind. Terry Bradshaw was the quintessential franchise quarterback and led the team to all four of those 1970’s titles. Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert were the leaders of the most infamous defense in football, The Steel Curtain. Lynn Swann was poetry in motion and one of the most acrobatic wide receivers ever to catch a football. Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier were the leaders of a hard-nosed, smash mouth rushing attack that defined Steeler football. Less heralded players like center Mike Webster, safety Donnie Shell, and wide receiver John Stallworth embodied the blue collar attitude of a city and a team. All of these men were guided by the stoic, quiet, firm hand of head coach Chuck Noll. However, my choice to represent the Pittsburgh Steelers and my undying love for them is the family that has owned and operated the team since its inception in 1933, the Rooney family. The patriarch was Art Rooney Sr., The Chief, who used his winnings from time spent at the horse track to start a brand new NFL franchise. The Chief was a driving force in the growth of the league as a whole, and helmed the ship as the Steelers became a powerhouse team. He was aided by his son Dan, who worked alongside his father beginning in the late 1960’s. Dan ran the organization’s daily operations from the late 1970’s until 2003, when he handed over the job to his son Art Rooney II. In a world where many teams seem so unstable…changing coaches, owners, and even cities at the drop of a hat…The Rooney Family has been steady and consistent. Their long term leadership has been a major reason why the Steelers have been among the elite for such a long time, and that success has provided me with countless hours of happiness and entertainment.

 

One of the other ways I entertain myself is reading. I love a good book. My all time favorite literary series is The Sherlock Holmes canon, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I intend to go into a more detailed analysis of the books and my enjoyment of them in a piece for The Bookshelf section of The Manofesto, so I will keep my comments short for now. Suffice to say that Sherlock Holmes is one of the most endearing characters in all of literature, and he cannot really be separated from his creator Doyle. Therefore I have chosen to initiate both sides of the same coin into the Hall of Influence. I cannot thank them enough for all the times they have magically transported me to Victorian England and allowed me to forget about my problems for awhile. I would encourage any bookworm who enjoys a good mystery to give Holmes a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Our third and final inductee today is from the world of music. In my mind he is the ultimate musical performer…classic, timeless, the standard to which all others need to be compared. I am speaking of Ol’ Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board, The Voice…..Frank Sinatra. I tend to have rather eclectic musical tastes. I like everything from hard rock to blues to 80’s pop to big band. Amongst the crowd of pretenders to the throne…Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson…only one man clearly stands above the rest. I am not saying those performers and many many others are not talented and deserving of their accolades, just that in my universe they are all a bit overrated. No one can ever legitimately call Mr. Sinatra that, not even close. During a career that spanned nearly 60 years, he had numerous #1 songs and albums, won 11 Grammys, and tried his hand at acting and won an Academy Award. Somewhere along the line Sinatra segued from a top selling singer to a legendary cultural icon. I was first introduced to Sinatra during my youth by my father. Like most youngsters I wanted to be cool and hip and thought Dad was just an old fogey, so I didn’t pay too much attention to his music. But as I grew older and began to have more of an appreciation for quality and excellence and became less concerned with fitting in with the crowd I began to develop an appreciation for various musical genres, including swing, jazz, and “crooners”. There’s no one that embodies all of those better than Frank Sinatra. With it being almost a foregone conclusion that all great (and even not so great) bands will eventually reunite for a big money tour and knowing that no musician ever really retires, it makes me sad to know that I will never have the opportunity to see Sinatra in concert because…well, he’s dead. But the music lives on. So while others waste their time gushing over the latest MTV/American Idol wannabe and embrace what is clearly a lower standard of musical mediocrity played on the radio these days, I will happily be listening to my Sinatra CDs and appreciating the greatest singer to ever live. For his many contributions to music and culture Frank Sinatra is a well deserving member of The Hall of Influence.

 

 

Random Thoughts 17

I have developed a troubling fascination with the Kardashian reality show on E!. They are just so sincerely and hopelessly out of touch with the real world that it is sort of amusing.

 

Out of all the hundreds of types of people out there, I think I’ve decided the one I like the least are progressive hippie wannabes who fancy themselves 1960’s throwbacks.

 

What’s with America’s fascination with spicy food?? Everywhere you look restaurant food and grocery items are “fire grilled”, “molten lava”, “fiery”, “flame throwed”, and “volcanic”. Now I will admit I have whatever is the direct opposite of an iron stomach. I’ll need to run to the bathroom after writing this. But the increasing obsession to kick up our food to scorching levels of hotness seems a bit odd.

 

The History Channel show Life After People has to be one of the dumbest television programs of all time.

 

Fat free bologna does not fry very well.

 

I have a solution for overly rowdy fans at collegiate sports events, because no one should ever get away with throwing anything onto the field or court. Such behavior needs punished severely. If the perpetrator is a student then he or she is banned from attending any university sporting events for the remainder of their college career. If the person is an adult non-student then they are banned from all university sporting events for 10 years. The penalty for an adult is harsher because they should know better.

 

RIP author JD Salinger, author of infamous novel The Catcher In the Rye. I personally don’t see what the big deal is about the book, but I realize I am in the minority.

 

President Obama’s low blows against Vegas just make me want to want to go there even more.

 

Two weeks of hype for the Super Bowl is undeniably too much.

 

I had my wild party days in college. I drank plenty of beer and liquor. But I’m in my mid 30’s now and drinking on a regular basis holds no thrill for me. It kind of surprises me the number of my peers that seem to enjoy drinking like they are still college students. A lot of them are people with spouses and jobs and kids, yet they try so hard to be perpetually 19 years old. I find it a rather unflattering side to otherwise decent people. Are your lives so miserable that you have to dull the pain with alcohol?? Have a cola or an iced tea or some milk folks.

 

RIP as well to actress Frances Reid, who died at age 95 after portraying Alice Horton on the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives for over 40 years. My sister and I had a babysitter that got us hooked on DOOL (and General Hospital) back in the early 1980’s. I’ve been watching ever since.