A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This first premiered on November 20, 1973, on CBS and won an Emmy Award. Great Thanksgiving special as always with the earlier Peanuts.

The Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Peanuts specials I always looked forward to. The way their world was only for kids where grownups were heard but only as noise in the background.

It starts off with Lucy tempting Charlie Brown with that football. Just one time I wanted to see Charlie kick the football…or Lucy.

It’s Thanksgiving and Peppermint Patty invites herself and Marcie over to Charlie Brown’s house but Charlie and Sally are ready to go to their grandmothers. Charlie talks to Linus and he suggests having two Thanksgiving dinners.

The only thing Charlie can come up with is feeding his friends toast and cold cereal which does not make Peppermint Patty happy whatsoever. She lets Charlie have it really bad until Marcie reminds her that she invited herself over.

Not going to give it away for those who have not seen this wonderful holiday cartoon. The music by Vince Guaraldi is excellent and makes every Peanuts cartoon special.

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead …. by David Browne

I’ve read a few books about the Dead but this one is probably the best I’ve read. I just finished re-reading it after finishing it three years ago. It is their complete history from beginning to end. The book I enjoyed the most was Deal: by Bill Kreutzmann The Deads drummer. He has some great stories and Steve Parish’s book is good also…but as far as the history…this has been the best.

This is not like reading a book about the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, or even the Allman Brothers. The Grateful Dead were totally different in the way they came about and what path they took. They were such a hippy band but along the way they turned into a corporate organization…a different kind of organization but one all the same. Their crew was known to be loud and sometimes violent along with the Hells Angels by the mid-seventies and the craziness wore off on everyone around them.

I always thought of them as this loose ensemble that just loved playing. Yes, they loved playing but they weren’t above pointing fingers when something went wrong on stage. At one point Weir and Pigpen were “fired” although accounts differ on if they really were let go. In other words, they were human… like anyone else. They did however think differently and for a bunch of hippies…they were very ambitious.

Speaking of Pigpen (Ron McKernan)… that was a wonderful thing about this book…his importance is highlighted and you see how important he was to the Grateful Dead. Jerry wasn’t the key focus when they started…it was Pigpen. Although he looked like a biker…he was described as an incredibly nice and sensitive man. He was the showman of the band and Jerry commented that he was the best musician in the band in the beginning.

The book covers their entire career and along with the way, there are many twists and turns. They cover Garcia’s slide down until his diabetic coma in 1986 when he had to re-learn how to play guitar again. Less than a year later they were back on the road and then recorded the In The Dark album.

The band never had a big hit single and now…over 20 years of being together and touring they were suddenly huge with the song Touch Of Grey. They even agreed to play the game with the record company and they made a video. They were signed to Arista Records and the record company and band were at a meeting. Garcia suddenly asked, “I don’t have to do Dick Clark, do I?” With that, the executives laughed at the thought of the Grateful Dead appearing on American Bandstand.

There were points where it looked like Garcia would beat his addictions but the threat of him going back to heroin was always there. They also cover all the members rather well…Garcia wasn’t the only one with drug problems but his problem probably affected the band the most.

If you want to learn about their history…this is a really good read.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I watched this last night…gearing up for Christmas…it’s not Christmas without The Peanuts and watching them all dance to “Linus and Lucy.”

The Peanuts were my favorite cartoon growing up and I would never miss their Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas specials. Everyone can relate to Charlie Brown because we all lose more than we win in life. He doesn’t get to kick that football, his dog has more things than he does, and he is forever trying to get the elusive little redhead girl to notice him.

The Peanuts inhabit a kids world where grownups are felt but not heard. At least not in English. I’ve said this before but… Charlie Brown, one day when you grow up… I hope you end up with the little red head girl that you like so much and win just for once…for all of us.

Little Red-Haired Girl | Charlie brown characters, Charlie brown and  snoopy, Charlie brown cartoon

This 1965 special has everything good about them in one show.

The gang is skating and Charlie Brown is telling Linus that despite Christmas being a happy time he is depressed. Linus tells Charlie that is normal and Lucy pipes in with “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.” That sums it all up.

Charlie gets to direct the Christmas play and his main job was to get a spectacular Christmas tree under Lucy’s orders. …He picks the only real tree there…more like a branch but he is sure it will do the job. Most of the gang do not agree when he comes back with the tree but Charlie persists. Linus gets up and reads from the Bible and the inflection he lends to the reading is great.

After that, you will need to watch because it will be worth it.

Aluminum Christmas trees were marketed beginning in 1958 and enjoyed fairly strong sales by eliminating pesky needles and tree sap. But the annual airings of A Charlie Brown Christmas swayed public thinking: In the special, Charlie Brown refuses to get a fake tree. Viewers began to do the same, and the product was virtually phased out by 1969. The leftovers are now collector’s items.

Actors and Actresses The early Peanuts specials made use of both untrained kids and professional actors: Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown) and Christopher Shea (Linus) were working child performers, while the rest of the cast consisted of “regular” kids coached by Melendez in the studio. When Schulz told Melendez that Snoopy couldn’t have any lines in the show—he’s a dog, and Schulz’s dogs didn’t talk—the animator decided to bark and chuff into a microphone himself, then speed up the recording to give it a more emotive quality.

Love the Christmas Dance.

The Peanuts

The Peanuts lived in a world where adults didn’t matter as much. The world was for kids only and anytime an adult came around and talked… all you heard was a wah, wah, wah wah… no words. All the kids owned their day to day activities. The Peanuts didn’t talk down to us…no they talked to us. They were also clever enough for adults to like.

Nobody ever wins every time in this life. Everyone loses sometimes…therefore everyone is Charlie Brown to an extent. Every person has failed at a big moments or at small moments. We felt for Charlie Brown because we felt for ourselves.

When my son was born…I thought oh great…Now I’m a grown up and I’m a wah, wah, wah, wah adult…My son will live his life and sometimes I will be just noise in the background.

Growing up, there was no other cartoon I looked forward to more than the Peanuts. Every holiday and any time one of the networks decided to show one… I was there. I would also read the occasional Sunday paper to see the Peanuts strip.

Everything from Linus telling us the true meaning of Christmas, Sally and Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, Lucy pulling that football from Charlie Brown, Snoopy being cool and taking care of Woodstock, Lucy being a Psychiatrist and Charlie Brown getting that sad looking Christmas tree…we got to peek into that world and listen to the wisdom that was going on while propped up on that brick wall.

Charlie Brown and Linus wall

Charlie Brown, one day when you grow up… I hope you end up with the little red head girl that you like so much and win just for once…for all of us.

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Deal by Bill Kreutzmann

The book is called Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.

This book is what you would imagine from the drummer (one of them) of the Grateful Dead. Music, drugs, women, drugs, travels, guns, drugs, death, drink and more drugs. Actually, I really enjoyed the book. He is very open and very honest about his actions good and bad.

He is not a shy guy whatsoever. He shares his feelings about any subject that comes up. He does go into the music and how he feels about his bandmates. Most are positive but he does not hold back.

He covers the complete career of the band. He openly said he was very happy being the only drummer of the band when Mickey Hart quit and didn’t like it one bit when Mickey rejoined the band…at first anyway.

He goes into his relationship with Jerry Garcia. He also admits the guilt the band share in not trying to help Garcia more…but Jerry was his own man. He writes about the so-called keyboard player curse the band had in their career.

He tells us about the 72 European tour, shows they played near the pyramids and the Festival Express. I will say this…this band had fun. They were like a family and treated their employees well for the most part.

The only thing that I wish he would have shared more about was Pigpen. The band was apparently in the dark about how bad Pigpen was doing before he died. Maybe he didn’t share it with them.

I learned a lot about the Dead that I didn’t know about.

The book keeps going at a good pace. With the Dead’s long career he never lacks for stories. A lot of rock autobiographies are coming out and again this one takes the template that Keith Richards made with his book “Life” and fills it in.

Bill Kreutzmann from Deal about Garcia and heroin:

I’m pretty sure Jerry wasn’t into heroin during the making of Garcia; as far I know, he hadn’t even discovered it yet. But when he did, during subsequent Grateful Dead albums, it could become difficult just to get him to show up, unfortunately. That got to be really old, really fast, for all of us. We wanted to play music with him so badly that we’d put up with it, which—in hindsight—was crazy. Nobody else in the band would’ve been able to get away with it; at least, not to the extent that he did. But Jerry Garcia was the exception.
It also opens up a moral question that we can talk about now, but we can never truly answer, since he’s not with us. There was a certain feeling, toward the end, that Jerry was using the Grateful Dead to finance his drug habit. That’s a sad thought. I don’t think he ever intended it to be that way or for it to get to that point or to hurt anyone. He was as pure of a musician as they come. But heroin addiction will change a person in ways that are tragic and discouraging.