Sunday, August 18, 2013

Give With Target to Saint Francis of Assisi School

A special request, on behalf of my brother, Rev. David J. Pickens, Pastor of St Francis of Assisi Parish in Haskell, NJ - 

This year, Give With Target will give money to schools all over the country for one simple act: a vote. 

St Francis of Assisi School in Haskell, NJ has reached its 25 vote minimum to earn a $25 donation from Target. 

But that's only the beginning!

For each additional vote, St Francis Of Assisi School will get $1 more. So please remember that, although the gesture is small, the rewards are potentially huge. 

Go to THIS LINK to vote for St. Francis of Assisi School once a week through September 21 or until Target has given away all $5 million.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

By The Time We Got To Woodstock (we were headed back to NJ)

"The New York State Thruway is CLOSED, man!"

Thus spoke Wavy Gravy, the legendary announcer at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. By that time the crowd had swelled to "half a million strong", according to the Joni Mitchell song.

The Pickens family was about to find that out while on our way home from vacation in August 1969. Now, if everyone who claimed to be at Woodstock was really there, the entire state of New York would not have been able to hold everyone. But we were there - sort of. I didn't go to the Woodstock music festival because I was 12 and couldn't go myself, and didn't have hippie parents to take me.

That summer, my parents had decided to forgo our usual vacation to the Jersey Shore and spend a week in the Adirondacks instead. We went first to Saranac Lake, then Lake Champlain, with a side day trip to Montreal.

On the way home, Saturday 8/16, the NY Thruway had reopened, but the traffic was still bumper-to-bumper, and I remember my Dad grumbling about some hippie music thing going on in NY and we were stuck in that traffic.

We eventually made it home, and that Christmas my folks got me the live album, a three-record set, which introduced me to all the great musical acts of the time. I listened to it so much it was almost like I had been there.

So, if anyone asks me if I was at Woodstock, I can say, yeah, I was there.

Above: The headline from my original post in CNN iReport. Note the line through my name, as I have been Banned-For-Life from posting on iReport. Yet they have not removed my material and are still benefitting from the traffic it draws.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Mike Douglas

I met Mike Douglas in 1997 in Philly when he was in town to have his star enshrined on the Walk Of Fame on Broad Street. He was also doing a signing for his new CD, "A Rare Treasure Of Memorable Music", including an updated version of the cheesy "The Men In My Little Girl's Life". My mom's birthday was coming up, so I slipped out of work and went over to get a signed CD.

What struck me about him was (were?) a few things: how Irish he looked (I had only seen him on a B&W TV), his firm handshake, and his charisma, how he just fucking exuded likability. It was easy to see why his show was so popular, despite its weird but interesting format.

When it was my turn, he stood up and shook my hand. I told him the CD was for my mom - who like just about everyone who was home at the time - watched his show every day. My brother and I watched it too. It was our afternoon ritual of waiting for Dad to get home from work so we could eat dinner.

I told him it was for her birthday. He asked her name, and I told him "Lucille". Without missing a beat, he replied "That was my first girlfriend's name", which was probably bullshit but hey, that's the kind of thing you say when you're a professional talker.

He signed my CD, I congratulated him on his Walk Of Fame honor, and I was on my way.

Mom had specifically said that year she did not want any gifts for her birthday, but this was a once in a lifetime thing so I did it anyway. She liked it.

Mike Douglas also has the rare distinction of having his "Bachmann Birthday" the same as his birth birthday. He died on his 81st birthday in 2006.