Eight Greats at Madison Square Garden


Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden


by Rick Bretz

On this day, May 31st, 1879, Madison Square Garden opened in New York City at 4, Pennsylvania Plaza. Yes, that’s right, 1879. That’s the age of the venerable building indirectly named after the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, because the building was constructed inside Madison Square. The Garden officially seats 18, 200 people but has fit more and has been the location of many historical events.

Here are some of the most remembered events that occurred in Madison Square Garden.

1. George Harrison and Ravi Shankar’s benefit concerts for Bangladesh-August 1, 1971. He had Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Billy Preston there to help him out.

Interior of a Democratic Convention

2. The Democratic National Conventions-1924, 1976, 1980, 1992. Politics in New York City? Boss Tweed would have never stood for it!


3. Former Republican Presidential Candidate, Wendell Willkie, leads 20,000 African-Americans in 1943, as the group organized a civil rights rally at the Garden, the largest of its kind for the time. He called for equal rights and for the defeat of Hitler. Despite the democratic message of today, republicans are champions of equal rights.


Frazier throws punch at Ali
Frazier throws punch at Ali

4. The Fight of the Century-Challenger Mohammed Ali and Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier meet at the Garden for a boxing match on March 8, 1971. Frazier wins by unanimous decision. The second Ali-Frazier fight happens at the Garden three years later in 1974, when Ali wins by decision. The best fights of all time are between these two. Joe Louis fought at the Garden too but these two were warriors.


5. 1898-Nikola Tesla demonstrates the first remote control robot by using radio control hardware. Further proof Tesla was way ahead of everyone else.


Monroe singing Happy Birthday
Monroe singing Happy Birthday

6. May 19th, 1962. President John F. Kennedy’s 42nd birthday party celebration is held at the Garden. Marilyn Monroe sings the famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” song. Every man deserves to be serenated Happy Birthday just like that.. It doesn’t even have to be at the Garden and the title could be “Mr. Guy that works all day at his job down the street.”


7. June 17, 1978 Bob Marley performs at MSG and increases awareness in America for reggae music. In 1980 he performs two shows again the Garden. Days later Marley collapses due to the spreading cancer in his body. He dies on May 11, 1980. The great Bob Marley’s last words were to his son Ziggy, “Money can’t buy life.”


8. 1973, Led Zeppelin performs three consecutive sold out performances that are recorded on both film and recording tape. A concert film is later released called, “The Song Remains The Same.” This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band is one of the best-selling groups of all time.

There are many more performances that span the entertainment, political and social worlds. The list of entertainers who have performed at MSG is a hall of fame for musicians and singers. Ricky Nelson even wrote a song about it called “Garden Party”, which is a song about performing there with his fellow fifties greats.

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American Battle Monuments Commission

I just learned a few weeks ago that one of my distant relatives from my Mother’s family tree was killed during the Civil War,  near the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. After I heard that, I started thinking about the Arlington National Cemetery and all of the other Veteran’s Cemeteries. They  remind us that several have put on the uniform and put their lives in danger so that others can have a chance at the American dream. The headstones in the cemetery usually designate their religion of choice. For me, when I visit the cemeteries, I first notice two things. I note when they were born and when they died. Most of the time, the age is under 30 years old. I always think about the realization that when I am having a bad day, some people don’t have a day at all.

When I think about it that way, driving home in a traffic jam doesn’t seem so bad at all.

The US military cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France
The US military cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

Memorial Day is when we stop to remember our veterans and especially the courageous souls that gave their lives to support America and, more importantly, to prevent their battle buddies from getting killed on their missions. We honor those who came back but we should especially remember military men and women who gave everything and never returned. These people rest in several overseas cemeteries that honor our fallen. It is striking  to see the number of service men and women buried in foreign lands, almost 125,000 souls resting in 25 burial cemeteries throughout world.

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

Congress established the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1923. The Executive Branch organization honors the service, achievement and sacrifice of the US Armed Forces. The commission establishes and maintains US military memorials, cemeteries and markers where the US Armed Forces has served since April 6, 1917.

Here is a list of the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries the organization maintains along with other pertinent information.
I am a veteran and my wife is a veteran. My father is a Korean War veteran. Several of my family members are veterans. Several of my friends from all the services who served with me are no longer alive today. I miss them and I honor them every day.  I honor and remember all of my Armed Forces brothers and sisters who gave their lives.


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1984-Thirty Years Later


by Rick Bretz

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, published in 1949, has been reestablished as the go-to book for all things wrong with government privacy invasion and society’s ills.   With government-funded security professionals scrutinizing some or all of the internet usage and phone conversations that are happening today, it does reflect the worst themes of 1984. Of course it is more complicated than the government watching over people. September 11, 2001, showed us that proper vigilance can go a long way toward keeping people safe from terrorists who want to prove a point by killing innocent people. Orwell’s novel remains a commentary on communist practices in the Soviet Union and modern relationships between governments, media and citizens throughout the world.

Some of the themes of 1984, nevertheless, seem to be blanketing our society as we live and work carrying our information devices. Smart Phone and internet monitoring are instances of privacy concerns. In spite of this fact, millions of people publicize their every move on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media. This fact makes it difficult to take the side of a person wronged by the invasion of privacy. People want privacy only on their terms. Like the movie star or celebrity who craves success but doesn’t want the paparazzi baggage that comes with it. If you want safety and security and still need your family and friends to know about last night’s pizza party, you have to compromise a little, maybe a lot.

Below is a 1984 to present comparison.

1984 Themes Today
Invasion of Privacy-1984————————2014> Phone Surveillance, internet tracking
Constant Surveillance1984———————2014> GPS Trackers in Vehicles, Cameras on Streets and at traffic lights. Aerial Surveillance
Torture (Room 101)-1984———————–2014> Pick a country
Double Think-1984——————————2014> Advertising, college professors

Cult of personality1984————————-2014>

World Leaders, celebrities, musicians, talk show hosts, and televangelist
Tele-screens (two-way Monitors)-1984——2014> Overhead surveillance, street cameras, two-way camera software
Class System (Proles, Outer Party)-1984——-2014> The 1 Percent, Poor, Working Class, Blue Collar, Middle Class, the Power Elite, Educated Elite, Fortune 500 CEOs, Government Officials (Elected and Appointed)
News Speak-1984——————————-2014> Affordable Healthcare Act, (government catchphrases used as titles for legislation)
Ministry of Plenty (Food Supply)-1984———-2014> Rising Oil Prices, Government Regulation, Inflation
Ministry of Peace (War)-1984——————-2014> World Leaders and Defense Ministers
Ministry of Truth (News)-1984——————2014> CEOs and managing editors of news organizations dictate the headlines and stories seen by consumers. Federal Communications Commission. Advertisers
Ministry of Love (Dissidents)-1984————-2014> Whistle blowers usually pay a price
Poverty, Vices-1984—————————–2014> Making vices like alcohol and drugs (marijuana) available control the public and provide needed revenue.
Censorship-1984——————————–2014> If a show or story does not please a power player, they have monetary and power influences to make it disappear.
Controlling the Middle Class-1984—————2014> Taxes, regulations and travel restrictions or religious and government organizations (Republican and Democratic Parties)


There are many ways to track a person today. It would be difficult to get lost when the hunter really wants to find you. Let me count the ways: GPS Device, Car Computers, Credit Cards, Smart Phone, Home Phone, Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Aerial Reconnaissance, Drones, and Toll Roads just to name a few.

Cars today have what is called a “Breaking Coach.” It tells you that you have driving skills. Don’t kid yourself. It is a way to determine how safe our driving habits are in case we are in an accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement officials really want to know this.

Your MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique set of digits that identifies your particular computer or Network Interface Card, and with the IP (Internet Protocol) address, can determine your internet history. It’s a digital signature.

When you drive through a toll booth, a camera records your drive through and your license plate and if you have a toll sticker on your window it identifies that too.

Officials in several states are studying the feasibility of adding hardware to vehicles to track the number of miles a car travels on the highway to determine a road tax.

And the hits just keep on coming.


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Eight Moms in the Movies

By Rick Bretz

On this Mother’s Day, let’s look back at the some of the best movie moms as they protect, defend, encourage and stand by their sons and daughters.  As everyone knows, Don’t mess with Mom!

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor


1. Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in the Terminator (1984) and T2 (1991)

Sarah Connor reloads the assault weapon with one arm as she becomes a one-woman army. She fights Arnold’s terminator first and then a Robert Patrick’s T-1000 shape shifter who keeps on coming like a human Tsunami.  All of this while she fights to keep her son safe so he can lead people into future battles with the machines. What does she get for her troubles? She gets locked up and fed drugs. But, not to worry, she’s been counting pull ups and sit ups and studying how to be the best survivalist ever. The time has come for her to get busy being a Mom when she breaks out.




2. Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance in The Shining (1980)

Wendy Torrance has to put up with tons of brooding and abuse from Jack Nicholson’s character in this movie. He drags her to a Ski Lodge in the mountains so he can get away to write his next masterpiece and he comes up with “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In addition, his son sees waves of blood coming from the elevator and repeats the word “REDRUM.’   (Spoiler, but if you haven’t seen it by now…!) She wins in the end because she has spent her days at the isolated getaway figuring out the maze outside the hotel. Moms are always prepared.


Clara Thornhill with her son in the elevator as the bad guys surround him.
Clara Thornhill with her son in the elevator as the bad guys surround him.

3. Jessie Royce Landis as Clara Thornhill in North By Northwest (1959)

Clara Thornhill as Roger Thornhill’s mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s cross country thriller plays her part perfectly. She stands by her son although she thinks he is paranoid and a little over-worked. Roger Thornhill, of course, is not imagining anything but Clara’s past history with her son plays into her assessment of his well being at the estate once being released by the court system. The mother sets up the rest of the movie. Jessie Royce Landis was only eight years older than Cary Grant at the time but she succeeds in making us believe she is his mother. Perfect case of standing by your child even if you think he is off his rocker.

 Margaret Wycherly

 4. Margaret Wycherly as Mother York in Sergeant York (1941)

Before Sergeant Alvin York becomes a war hero in World War I, he goes through a process of rehabilitation where he is born again and follows the word of God. He takes this seriously and becomes a conscientious objector because of the commandment “I shalt not kill.” While he was transforming and soul-searching, Mother York stood by him and gave him encouragement. After some long thought while on furlough, he decided it would be wise to go to war with his weapon and save lives by doing his best to end the war early. The decision would have been more difficult if Mother York had not let him decide for himself.

lion in winter

5. Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter (1968)

Being a mother in 1183 had to be tough no matter your status in life. Not many comforts back then. For Queen Eleanor, she had to be a mother while being in imprisoned by King Henry II while he was running around with his mistress whom he wanted to marry. In the movie, although she is imprisoned she holds her own in the verbal sparring department. The dialogue between O’Toole and Hepburn is one of the best movie scenes in history. As a Mother, The Queen knows when to scold and when to support. One of the movie’s best scenes involves Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins’  portraying Prince Richard (The Lion-Hearted). She talks to him as a Mother and not as a Queen.  For Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to Peter O’Toole’s King Henry II, she schemes to control the situation as an aging King Henry struggles to name a successor among his sons.


6. Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side (2009)

Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her performance in this film. Based on real events, this movie shows how a Mom with a purpose can change someone’s life. She’s a one woman wrecking crew and won’t stop until people understand. Along the way, she won’t put up with any racism or any other nonsense, even when it comes from gang members. She also knows how to coach and gives her adopted son a great piece of advice during football practice.


7. Cher as Florence “Rusty” Dennis in Mask (1985)

 Moms don’t have to be perfect. What great moms have in common is that they all defend their children. They also support and encourage when needed. Cher’s performance as “Rusty” shows all her flaws but it also shows her supporting her son “Rocky”, who has a condition that deforms his skull. He looks different from everyone on the outside but is just the same as every other teen who has dreams. Judging someone from the inside and not how they look or by skin color is a lesson that still applies today and still has to be learned by others.


 Jane Darwell with Henry Fonda and John Carradine

8. Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940)


 Darwell’s performance as Ma Joad holds the movie together. Sure, Henry Fonda gives a great soliloquy at the end of the movie but look who he’s giving it to—his mother. She endures the mid-west dust bowl conditions that takes their loses their livelihood. She packs up the family and their possessions and travels all the way to California for a chance at a better life. Bad luck continues but she continues holding the family together. Fantastic movie and a great performance.





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