Farrah: Golden Locks and a Blinding Smile

by Bill

I’m at half mast today.

Look at the next three people you see at the grocery store and describe them in one sentence.  Odds are one of the words you might choose will be from the following: dumpy, disheveled, grubby, chubby, plain or unfortunate.  Imagine walking through your life with the most common description of you being: “golden locks and a blinding smile”.

Unknown Unknown

Farrah Fawcett hit pop-culture as hard as anyone has ever hit it without doing anything but looking good.  I was 11 years old in the summer of 1976– the Bicentennial summer.  America was in a happy and celebratory mood, she’d had her 200th birthday and was feeling pretty good.  We were finally free from the clutches of the Viet-Nam war, Watergate was in the rearview mirror and people were looking for reasons to be happy.

Oh and sex was in the air!

Well for one, I had just turned 11 years old and suddenly there were things I cared about besides sports. And two, all you had to do was turn on the radio and it was on man!  Something called “disco-dancing” music was taking over the airwaves– I’d watch “American Bandstand” with my older brothers and sisters and the kids were unmistakably getting a little bit closer when they danced.

Johnny Taylor lasciviously crooned in his hit “Disco Lady” to:  “shove it in, shove it out, move it in, move it out… disco lady”…. wha, wha, what????? My 11-year old hormones were in absolute overdrive!  And then Donna Summer just literally said “screw it” and her sex anthem “Love to Love You Baby” shot up the charts and ruled the airwaves  the entire summer.  The original album version was 16:50 of a moaning, in-heat, disco diva looking for release.  The radio version was obviously much shorter, but just as crammed full of sex.  The fact that many stations were banning it only heightened it’s appeal.  TIME magazine reported that Summer simulated a record 22 orgasms during the song!!! (A record? Such records were kept? By who?)


Well with all of that stimulation, what the hell chance did an 11-year old boy have? I was losing my mind!  My hormones were raging inside me– they were doing pushups, lifting weights, running sprints and drinking Squoze (the Red Bull of the era) by the gallon.  When the last sprint was done my hormones still couldn’t rest– they would spend the evening hours  “disco-dancing” with whatever got in their way.  I needed a face to put with all this insanity.

I’d heard the Beach Boys song “California Girls” my whole life, but hadn’t yet seen exactly what they meant.  The closest I’d come was Betty and Veronica in the Archie comics, but as perfect as they were, they were fake (a feeling I would re-capture as a grown up living in Scottsdale for three years).  They sang about the West coast girls all getting so tan and that there was nothing better than California girls— and I believed it, but I just couldn’t see it (you see kids, there were no computers, I couldnt’ just google “hot-ass California girls”).

And then in the fall I turned on the TV and there she was!!!!! Golden locks and a blinding smile!  She was everything I’d ever heard the Beach Boys sing about!  Charlie’s Angels was a television show sent from the heavens.  It was about three cops or detectives or CIA agents or private investigators or bail bondsmen— it really didn’t matter– to me it was about three hot chicks cavorting about the screen and making dreams come true!


There was Sabrina Duncan, the plain-Jane hotty who was smart and efficient played by Kate Jackson. There was Kelly Garrett, the exotic brunette hotty who always had a tinge of importance and elegance about her, played by Jaclyn Smith. And then……… then there was Farrah, Jill Munroe, the walking embodiment of all that was hot, all that was sexy, all that was California, all that was summer, all that my hormones worked out and danced for.  She had golden locks and a blinding smile and a perfect tan.

It was a mediocre television show at best, and yet I will never LOVE a show the way I did “Charlie’s Angels”.  My eleven-year old body was on fire for an hour straight every week– every cell in my body engorged and aflame– I probably could have used a full-body condom– I’m actually surprised my undies never got pregnant that fall.

Sample dialogue from an early episode:

Jill Munroe: Hey, I’m gonna take the girls for some pizza, kind of a ‘almost victory’ party. Y’all come along?
Kelly Garrett: I’m sorry, but we’ve got, eh, other plans
[gives Alan a meaningful look]
Jill Munroe: Oh, well, that’s a healthy activity too. See ya!

Whoa, whoa, whoa….. I might only be 11, but I get it!!! Oh-good golly Miss Molly do I get it!!!!

Unknown Unknown

It turned out I wasn’t alone.  Farrah-mania swept over the country like perhaps nothing since the Beatles.  Her poster– the most famous poster of all-time and it’s not even close– sold millions of copies.  A clinging, orange one-piece swimsuit, tossled blonde hair everywhere, head slightly tossed back and a zillion-wat smile that grabbed you where you lived.  I bought that poster and another one to boot.  I bought Charlie’s Angels cards.  I watched the show religiously.  Years later I met a girl who I kinda-sorta-thought I might be falling for when one night in her apartment she struck the pose: knees flexed, shoulders squared up to the target, one hand a gun held steady by the other arm– she looked at me ever so seriously and announced, “that’s my Jill Munroe”— boom, no more wondering, I was in love.

Farrah sky-rocketed to fame.  Millions of young girls and women copied her hair-stlye.  She married the Six-Million Dollar Man.  She left the show and went on to a hit and miss career.  She got divorced and made some slightly insane television talk-show appearences.  But she was always Farrah.

62 years old is far too young to die these days and cancer is a brutal way to go.  That smiling young woman from the poster has passed on, but her legacy will live forever– she was an icon for the simplest of reasons– she had golden locks and a blinding smile.

Rest in peace Farrah.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 7:02 pm  Comments (2)  

The Greatest Reality Show Ever

by Bill

I’ve kept a journal ever since I graduated from college in 1989. It started as a writing exercise one of my professors gave us and I just kept doing it. The entry from June 17, 1994 isn’t as dramatic as you might think– it was a Friday night, so I’m sure I had other things on my mind.  It simply reads: “OJ freaked and drove away from the cops–thought he was going to kill himself, but he didn’t. Turned himself in when he got to his house.” 

It’s still the most surreal thing I’ve ever watched on television.  (The manhunt for serial killer Andrew Cunanan down on the boat in Miami in July of ’97 came close, but the camera angles sucked on that show– we didn’t even get to see him shoot himself on the boat!) OJ’s legacy as a football player is long gone now (as it should be)– but when he played– everybody loved him.  In the fall of 1973 all sports fans wanted to know every Sunday evening is, “how many yards did OJ get?” The Juice became the first player to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season that year and he gained me as a fan for life– or at least until he started hacking people up.

It’s hard to compare an athlete from today to the sort of icon OJ had been (mostly because in today’s media age, we have so much more access to their lives)– but it would be sort of like if Shaq killed a couple of people and led the cops on a freaky car chase. (What a horrible reference to Shaq! I don’t think he’s ever going to kill anybody– I’m just equating their athletic fame– ok, sorry Shaq, let’s use Barkley instead.)

It’s become one of the few “where were you when this happened” moments for my generation.  I sat riveted on that Friday night in June– I was at work and there was an NBA Finals game on– the Knicks were playing the Rockets– but nobody in the sports office cared about that.  OJ freaking Simpson was in a white Bronco with a gun, running from the LAPD. Everyone across the country thought it was going to end with OJ putting a bullet in his own head.  The cops got closer and closer on the freeway and you thought they might cut him off and force a standoff. But the Bronco juked and jived a bit and the cops backed off and the chase would continue on. Television helicopters were flying overhead, giving the world a perfect of view of the entire crazy thing. You wished that they would have had microphones in the Bronco– to hear what was being said between OJ and Al Cowlings, who was driving.

It actually started to drag a bit towards the end of the chase and I might have even yelled out at the television “Just shoot yourself already!” (What? I had people waiting for me– it was a Friday night in the summertime! If I remember correctly, conversation with the women-folk was a bit awkward that weekend– they all carried the “why-the-hell-should-I-talk-to-you?-So-you-can-ask-me-out-and-we-hit-it-off-start-dating-get-married-ANDTHENYOUSTABMETODEATH” vibe. I mean, I can understand being aloof on Friday night– but Saturday too? Let’s move on with our lives for heaven’s sake.)

Eventually OJ just pulled into his driveway at home and gave himself up– wanted for two charges of murder. I watched for a little while longer then turned off the set and drove to Duluth for the weekend. OJ’s life has been a Twilight Zone episode ever since.  A trial and verdict that riveted and divided the country. For me it was all just a television show– and a damn good one that had an unsatisfactory ending. 

A huge impact on my life? No, not at all–I had my opinions and talked and discussed the night and the trial and verdict like everybody did– but in the end it was just another show on TV.  One year later, June 17, 1995, would have a far greater impact on my life– but you can read about that some other time.

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 4:10 am  Comments (4)  

Called Out, Kicked ASS!

I’ve written in the past about old man hockey, so I won’t get into all the details about that. Last night White got called out by Dark. That is, our NHL alumni who has a Stanley Cup Ring was called out by a “jackass” on dark, saying that it was hard to believe that his name was on the Cup. White had been beaten by Dark the week before and they were feeling it. The “Jackass”, otherwise known as Strats, had challenged White full on!

Our NHL alumni (otherwise known as Chor) responded with “If you don’t back it up with a similar performance your new nickname will be” Fred”…as in Right Said Fred. One hit wonder! Oh, I suppose you’re all ready too sexy for yourself, or whatever they sang…so maybe we’ll call you “Ice” as in “Vanilla Ice.”another one hit wonder. I know its on your ipod workout mix, Bring it Burner!”

Of course Strats had to respond to that….”Actually, I have Jitter Bug on mine by Wham.  We will win tonight! Also, bring that Chris May bitch again” Chris May, who only started skating again 2 weeks ago, was wondering what he did to get called out… but he was up to the challenge.

So this was shaping up to be an interesting night. As you might expect, everyone showed up to be involved with the fireworks. And as is always the case, the fireworks were a dud. White came firing right out of the gate early, and Chor, (who’s usually late was 15 minutes early) cranked it up a notch. And believe me when I say.. there is a world of difference between good hockey players and guys that played at the highest level. It wasn’t much of a contest. Chor scored twice in the first 3 minutes of the game with what can only be called lazer shots, and White bitched slapped Dark 3 games to 0, outscoring them 15 to 7. Even I, the old man of the crowd, scored on a gorgeous tip in (yes, I’m calling my own goal gorgeous) and set up a couple of others. It was a blast for those of us on White, and humiliating for the dark side.

Couldn’t ask for a better day, golf in the afternoon, finish with 2 straight birdies, then when called out, White kicks dark’s ass. Its a beautiful day.

Published in: on June 12, 2009 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Kitchen Soup for the Soul

 By Bill

Editor’s note: today is our parent’s 53rd wedding anniversary.-k

In the simplest of explanations—the kitchen is why we won the Cold War.  The kitchen is America in a nut-shell.  Cheesy Noodles vs. Sauerkraut and Cigarette sandwiches.  Licking the chocolate-chip cookie dough spoon vs. sneaking belts of Gramma’s vodka and getting ready to march in the cold.  Sound a little far-fetched? It’s not. Check out this quote:


   “Worst of all, it is women who usually have to do, usually alone, all the dirty work of the kitchen and household, work that is unimportant, hard, tiresome and soul-destroying.”—Vladimir Lenin  (Ok, right now I can see Katie and Heidi nodding in agreement…. But no, no, NO)


Excuse me, WHAT did you say?  This is out of the mouth of the principal leader of the October Revolution and the first leader of the Soviet Union.  This came from the mind of a government/societal system that was going to work? NYET!


   “In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom.”—Barbara Costikyan, 1988


That’s a little more like it. History shows that communism is indeed what is soul-destroying and that the kitchen…. Or how we do the kitchen IN THIS COUNTRY, encompasses all that is good and is part of the pinnacle of the human experience.  Jesus spent his last night on Earth at a table filled with friends, eating and telling stories.  Life’s experiences, good and bad—never seem to be complete until they are re-lived as stories to those who mean the most to you.


A man who got about as much as you can possibly get out of one lifetime on Earth, once wrote: “If you ever wonder….why you ride the carousel….you do it for the stories you can tell.”


For me, for my extended family, for my parents who’ve been happily married for 50 plus years, all of our lives greatest moments were either re-told or in some way began—in the kitchen at 4004 Queen Ave South—on the block in-between Lakes Harriet and Calhoun in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Forgive the maudlin writing—I’m writing with hope that one day this might be read by Martha’s grandchildren and Charlie’s great-great grandchildren— I mean, they’ll know who Billy was: “that ridiculously good looking gentleman who starred in the high-end Scotch advertisements on the back of magazines”…)


We are—all of us who spent time in that kitchen for close to 40 years—who we are– because of what we learned, what we heard, what we told, how we laughed, how we fought,  how we shared in that room.  Our life experiences were vast and varied—from schools to playing fields, from church to movie theatres, from friends to enemies—from out in the world at large— but none of it fully formed in us until it got home—until it entered that kitchen and bounced off those others who we knew best—who knew us best—and then the group at large helped to refine those experiences, to smooth down the rough edges of everything that didn’t quite add up—then and only then— could it completely make sense to us— once distilled at that kitchen table, it could then be a part of  becoming who we are.


I grew up in a dawning of a new era in U.S. History—the Viet Nam War and the sixties changed the American home dynamic. The Rockwellian image of the American Family eating dinner around the table was vanishing.  I grew up with kids who hated being forced to eat dinner as a family unit—pizza slices in front of a television with nobody bugging you was the ideal dinner hour. 


     All of us, HATED missing dinner.  Often-times a sport or some activity would keep you from that 6pm-ish dinner hour and you’d get home after the whole thing was over. I can remember      riding in hockey car-pools where kids were happy they got to miss dinner with the family!  For us that was awful—almost a day not lived.  Eating leftovers by yourself while everyone else was off    watching tv or doing homework or out and about, always felt so empty—like you’d missed out on the whole point of the day. “So what happened???” You’d never know if you weren’t there on a particular night.


     So what happened? A small family became a large one.  Small children became teenagers.  Young parents became older. Child after child after child were taught how to be good, how to be happy, how to become parents themselves. Grandchildren arrived. People talked and people ate and people smiled and people laughed and it was all good, it was all great, it was all perfect. And then people ate some more! 


Remember this?—you’re trudging home from school, you’re cold, you’re tired, you’re hungry. You walk in the back door and whip your jacket, mittens and boots off and turn the corner to see your greatest hope realized—a kitchen table filled with piles and piles of chocolate chip cookies!  An unknowing outsider might think, “there’s 1,400 cookies on that table, are you feeding an army?”  Hey unknowing outsider, that 1,400 will be down to under 100 by 10pm—they’ll be just enough left to put 4 in each lunch bag tomorrow morning.  I don’t ever remember being told how many I could have after that trudge home from school and I don’t ever remember having less than 14. Thank you mom!


“Thank you mom” looks absolutely silly there— there aren’t enough thank you’s left in the history of the universe that could come close to being adequate to what I got out of that kitchen as opposed to what I put in it. A googlygillionbazillion to 4 is a rough estimate. Not a bad trade. So a googlygillionbazillion minus 4 thank you’s to Katherine Hartigan Hubbell—me and 8 others won the game of life the moment God decided to give us the longest straw and we got to become the children of John and Punkin Hubbell.


Did we eat well? Yes doesn’t seem to do the answer justice.  I enjoy good restaurants, like anybody does, but I never, ever ate at them growing up. The few times I did, I was always disappointed and I always thought, “what’s the big deal, this isn’t nearly as good as what I eat at home.”  There were many nights when after dinner was done, it looked like a bomb had gone off in that kitchen—and those were the best nights of all. Birthday dinners that would have made the most gluttonous Romans embarrassed—how about a mountain of steak and peppers with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob and a salad. After finishing off your second full plate and you’re grossly stuffed—out comes the massive chocolate-cherry cake.  The kid next to you in math class had a hot dog, some popcorn and a can of Mountain Dew for dinner.  Life isn’t fair kid.


We ate. We turned on the kerosene heater. We made cookies. We played board games. We listened to New Christy Minstrels on a record player that gave way to listening to Neil Diamond and John Denver records on a stereo. We fired socks into the dryer. We cleaned up by the back door. We thawed out by the radiator. We swang that thick red door a million times and nobody was ever killed. We fed the dog. We folded one t-shirt and considered that “helping mom fold clothes”— there were only 800 other things left to fold. We watched things dad didn’t want to watch on a 22 inch black and white. We did homework. We listened to USA beat Russia on the stereo. If those walls could talk, nobody who lives there for the next 1,000 years would ever leave that room.


We listened. We learned. We were taught how the world worked. We told stories. We laughed. We grew up. We stared out those 5 large windows at the world and knew we could take it on because inside those windows we were raised with every emotional advantage any human being could ask for. We were the children of John and Punkin Hubbell and we were incredibly lucky—we weren’t born into a billion dollars—but there is no amount of money that could buy the things we were given. Parents who fell in love over 50 years ago and never spent a day not loving each other. What they gave me was my eight best friends (and now 16) and the 24 (so far) angels that were to follow. We all hope to go on to do great things, to accomplish much, to teach our children all the things we were taught so well— but in the end we will all be most proud of the same thing: We were our parents children.



Published in: on June 2, 2009 at 9:10 pm  Comments (12)