Da Da Da Dahhhhhhh

(top) This Jan. 1972, photo provided by ABC, shows, from left, Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, the broadcast team of “Monday Night Football.” (the next nine photos) The very first Monday Night football game in Cleveland! Look at that hulk of a video camera!  The Browns kept scoring, the fans loved it and Joe Namath left depressed.  (the last three photos) This year’s MNF game saw the new Browns beating the Jets again!!!  So, crank-up the sound and  click here   for what is probably the most iconic theme song for a show in American television history, “Heavy Action” written by British composer, Johnny Pearson. If you want a Monday Night Football music history lesson click HERE. You’ll hear the very first MNF theme music.

 

I think it’s imbedded in my brain – forever.  The opening theme music to Monday Night Football.  This past Monday, Cleveland fans enjoyed a real treat – seeing their beloved Brownies play …. and ready for it …. WIN – on Monday Night Football. They actually scored touchdowns that were not called back, made some nice running plays, threw a couple long passes and even sacked the opposing quarterback. (it’s been about 20 years since I’ve witnessed this).  Some Steve trivia – did you know, the first Monday Night Football game was between Cleveland and the Jets … and Cleveland won, beating the famous Broadway Joe Namath – remember Homer Jones and Billy Andrews?  As I reflect back, I don’t remember a time when MNF wasn’t a part of my Fall ritual. So, I jumped online and dug up some fun information and trivia for you on how it got started (talk about solving a PIA (Pain In The @%$) Job! Can you believe it – it’s been on TV for almost 50 years – Wow.  Special thanks to Wikipedia for the “early days” insights.  (see how many guys from the shows you remember).  My Browns will be on MNF and SNF a few times this Fall – go Baker and OBJ – IT’S ABOUT @$%$&%^%$@^%$ TIME!!!!!!!!!!!  GO BROWNS!

 

  1. During the early 1960s, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle envisioned the possibility of playing at least one game weekly during prime time that could be viewed by a greater television audience. An early bid by the league in 1964 to play on Friday nights was soundly defeated, with critics charging that such telecasts would damage the attendance at high school footballgames. Undaunted, Rozelle decided to experiment with the concept of playing on Monday night, scheduling the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions for a game on September 28, 1964. While the game was not televised, it drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 spectators to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point.
  2. Two years later, Rozelle would build on this success as the NFL began a four-year experiment of playing on Monday night, scheduling one game in prime time on CBS during the 1966 and 1967seasons, and two contests during each of the next two years. NBC followed suit in 1968 and 1969 with games involving American Football League teams.
  3. During subsequent negotiations on a new television contract that would begin in 1970 (coinciding with a merger between the NFL and AFL), Rozelle concentrated on signing a weekly Monday night deal with one of the three major networks. After sensing reluctance from both NBC and CBS in disturbing their regular programming schedules, Rozelle spoke with ABC.
  4. Despite the network’s status at the time as the lowest-rated of the three major broadcast networks, ABC was also reluctant to enter the risky venture. It was only after Rozelle used the threat of signing a deal with the independent Hughes Sports Network, an entity bankrolled by reclusive businessman Howard Hughes, did ABC sign a contract for the scheduled games. Speculation was that had Rozelle signed with Hughes, many ABC affiliates would have pre-empted the network’s Monday lineup in favor of the games, severely damaging potential ratings.
  5. After the final contract for Monday Night Football was signed, ABC Sports producer Roone Arledge immediately saw possibilities for the new program. Setting out to create an entertainment “spectacle” as much as a simple sports broadcast, Arledge hired Chet Forte, who would serve as director of the program for over 22 years. Arledge also ordered twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game, expanded the regular two-man broadcasting booth to three, and used extensive graphic design within the show as well as instant replay.
  6. Looking for a lightning rod to garner attention, Arledge hired controversial New York City sportscaster Howard Cosell as a commentator, along with veteran football play-by-play announcer Keith Jackson. Arledge had tried to lure Curt Gowdy and then Vin Scully to ABC for the MNF play-by-play role, but settled for Jackson after they proved unable to break their respective existing contracts with NBC Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jack Buck was also considered, but when Arledge assistant Chuck Howard telephoned Buck with the job offer, Buck refused to respond due to anger at his treatment by ABC during an earlier stint with the network. Arledge’s original choice for the third member of the trio, Frank Gifford, was unavailable since he was still under contract to CBS Sports. However, Gifford suggested former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, setting the stage for years of fireworks between the often-pompous Cosell and the laid-back Meredith.
  7. Monday Night Football first aired on ABC on September 21, 1970, with a game between the New York Jets and the Browns in Cleveland. Advertisers were charged US$65,000 per minute by ABC during the clash, a cost that proved to be a bargain when the contest collected 33% of the viewing audience. The Browns defeated the Jets, 31-21 in a game which featured a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Browns’ Homer Jones to open the second half, and was punctuated when Billy Andrewsintercepted Joe Namath late in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the clinching touchdown. However, Cleveland viewers saw different programming on WEWS-TV, because of the NFL’s blackout rules of the time (this would apply for all games through the end of the 1972 season; beginning in 1973, home games could be televised if tickets were sold out 72 hours before kickoff).
  8. One of the trademarks of Monday Night Football is a music cue used during the opening teasers of each program, a Johnny Pearson-composition titled “Heavy Action”, originally a KPM production library cue (and also used as the theme music for the BBC program Superstars), which MNF began using in 1975.
  9. That success would continue over the course of the season, helping establish a phenomenon on Monday nights in the fall: movie attendance dropped, bowling leagues shifted to Tuesday nights and a Seattle hospital established an unwritten rule of no births during games.
  10. Cosell’s presence initially caused Henry Ford II, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, the program’s main sponsor, to ask for his removal. ABC refused, and Ford had a change of heart once the show’s ratings were made public.
  11. In 1971, Frank Gifford became available after his contract with CBS Sports concluded; Arledge brought him to ABC to serve as play-by-play announcer, replacing Jackson (who returned to broadcasting college football for the network, which he continued to do for the next 35 seasons). The former New York Giant had been an NFL analyst for CBS during the 1960s but had never called play-by-play prior to joining Monday Night Football. In that capacity for Monday Night Football from 1971 to 1985, Gifford was often criticized for his see-no-evil approach in regard to discussing the NFL, earning him the dubious nickname “Faultless Frank.” Regardless, Gifford would have the longest tenure of any broadcaster on the show, lasting until 1998.
  12. Cosell’s abrasive personality gave him enough recognition to host a live variety show on ABC in the fall of 1975. That show is remembered today only as a trivia question, as its title, Saturday Night Live, prevented a new late-night sketch comedy program on NBC from using that title until the ABC show was canceled. That seeming popularity was in contrast to the repeated criticisms in the media, as well as bar room contests in which winners were allowed to throw a brick through a television image of Cosell.
  13. ABC Broadcast teams: Play-by-play announcersKeith Jackson (1970),Frank Gifford (1971–1985),Al Michaels (1986–2005,Gary Bender (1987),Mike Patrick (1997 and 2005)  Color commentatorsHoward Cosell (1970–1983),Don Meredith (1970–1973, 1977–1984), Fred Williamson (1974), Alex Karras (1974–1976),Fran Tarkenton (1979–1982), O. J. Simpson (1983–1985),Joe Namath (1985),Frank Gifford (1986–1997),Dan Dierdorf (1987–1998),Lynn Swann (1987),Joe Theismann (1997 and 2005), Dan Fouts (2000–2001),Boomer Esiason (1998–1999), Dennis Miller (2000–2001),John Madden (2002–2005), Paul Maguire (2005)
  14. Monday Night Football moved to ESPN in 2006 – for its debut on ESPN, (see trailer link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01hLEJ7sn44) Hank Williams, Jr. re-recorded the MNF opening theme with an all-star jam band that included among others Brian Setzer, Little Richard, Questlove, Joe Perry, Clarence Clemons, Rick Nielsen, Bootsy Collins, Charlie Daniels and Steven Van Zandt.

 

 


 

Let me try the…

Mmmm, Beer…

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That’s good. Thanks!” For those of us who enjoy “a cold one” after a long work week, (or taking a break after cutting the grass, or after writing an especially spectacular blog, or as a reward for a run well done or sometimes just because you can) …  the list is endless – but we can all agree, there’s not much to compare to that first taste!  Given the meteoric rise in craft beer making and specialty breweries in Cleveland, I thought I’d share some beer history, insights into the industry and provide a list of some of my favorite stops.  Talk about a PIA (Pain in the @%$) Job! – trying to pare the list down, but… that is what I am here for! Enjoy, and thanks to craftbeer.com for the insights.

  • Native Americans made a corn beer long before Europeans found their way to America, bringing with them their own version of beer. Although most of that was brewed in the home during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a fledgling industry began to develop from 1612, when the first known New World brewery opened in New Amsterdam (now Manhattan).
  • The “modern era” of American beer began in the nineteenth century. In 1810 only 132 breweries operated, and per capita consumption of commercially brewed beer amounted to less than a gallon. By 1873 the country had 4,131 breweries, a high-water mark only surpassed again in 2015. In 1914, per capita consumption had grown to 20 gallons (compared to about 21.5 today). Then came national Prohibition.
  • American beer was already changing before Prohibition. When German immigrants began arriving in the middle of the nineteenth century, they brought with them a thirst for all-malt lagers and the knowledge to brew them. But by the end of the century, drinkers showed a preference for lighter-tasting lagers — ones that included corn or rice in the recipe — and consolidation began to eliminate many small, independently operated breweries. In 1918, the country had only one quarter the number of brewers that operated 45 years before.
  • National Prohibition (individual states had Prohibition as early as 1848) began January 16, 1920, when the 18th Amendment, also known as the Volstead Act, went into effect. (watch video HERE. It effectively ended in April of 1933 with the return of 3.2% beer (for those of us old enough to remember those days when at 18 you could legally drink 3.2 beer!), and in December the 21st Amendment officially repealed the 18th Amendment.
  • Within a year, 756 breweries were making beer, but the biggest companies remained intent on expansion, using production efficiencies and marketing to squeeze out smaller breweries.
  • The number of breweries shrunk quickly, to 407 in 1950 and 230 in 1961. By 1983 one source counted only 80 breweries, run by only 51 independent companies, making beer. As British beer writer Michael Jackson observed at the time, most produced the same style: “They are pale lager beers vaguely of the pilsner style but lighter in body, notably lacking hop character, and generally bland in palate. They do not all taste exactly the same but the differences between them are often of minor consequence.”
  • As regional breweries closed, small breweries popped up – but people didn’t know what to call them. When Fritz Maytag bought Anchor Brewing in 1965 in San Francisco and Jack McAuliffe opened the short-lived New Albion Brewing Company in 1976, an entrepreneurial spirit began, and was repeated a thousand times over and in every state in the country.
  • A democratization of beer began in earnest during the late 1970s by homebrewers. It was then that better beer began its journey, championed by individuals and not corporate strategies. Homebrewers began learning how to make the beer styles they could no longer buy. A few homebrewers started their own small breweries, the first new breweries to open since prohibition began in 1923. A revival had begun. Beer drinkers learned to appreciate these new “microbrews.” The term microbrews has since evolved to “craft beer;” particularly from small and independent brewers.
  • Breweries popped up in every state. Soon beer lovers would covet new and different brewed beer.  In 1982, the Hilton Harvest House in Boulder, Colorado hosts a modest 20 breweries serving only 35 beers for the first Great American Beer Festival. The annual event now features approximately 8-10,000 beers.
  • By the end of the century, more breweries operated in the United States than any country in the world, the number climbing past 7,000 in 2018. Taking inspiration from brewing cultures around the world, Americans also started to brew a wider variety of beer than anywhere.
  • The revival of American beer of the past 30 years is a phenomenon attributable to one of the first (if not the first) “open-source” collaborative experiences in modern history. The community of homebrewers, beer enthusiasts and craft brewers made the pioneers of the democratization of process. The fact is, homebrewers were already fashioning their own revolution before a communication technology emerged that would later enhance the means by which revolutionary ideas and the process of democratizing innovation would be accelerated.
  • The professional craft brewing, homebrewing and beer enthusiast community continues to be on the unequivocal cutting edge of beer’s creative destiny. If you look back at the last 30-year history of better beer, beer economics, beer enthusiasm and the beer marketplace, it is a mirror image of how the rest of the world has embraced, reacted and adjusted to the pace of all that it is involved in. Choice, diversity, information, education, grassroots activism, quality, personality, passion, flavor (both in the real and metamorphic sense), etc.
  • Craft brewers and craft beer enthusiasts have been and continue to be pioneers in developing a world that contributes to the pleasure of our everyday life, in more ways than beer. CraftBeer.com is a reflection of those who seek the world of better beer.
  • The unique beer history of the Brewers Association combines a large brew-cauldron of activities and heritage. The result is a legacy that has helped change the world of beer both in the United States and abroad.
  • The Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independentAmerican craft brewers, released annual growth figures for the U.S. craft brewing industry. In 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and realized 4 percent total growth, increasing craft’s overall beer market share by volume to 13.2 percent.
  • Retail dollar value was estimated at $27.6 billion, representing 24.1 percent market share and 7 percent growth over 2017. Growth for small and independent brewers occurred in an overall down beer market, which dropped 1 percent by volume in 2018.
  • The 50 fastest growing breweries delivered 10 percent of craft brewer growth. Craft brewers provided more than 150,000 jobs, an increase of 11 percent over 2017.  These brewers are vital small businesses in communities across the country, typically employing 10 to 50 employees.
  • As American beer enthusiasts are fond of saying, there may never have been a better time to be a beer drinker, at least until tomorrow.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite breweries in NE Ohio – go exploring and find the new ones, opening up almost monthly here on the north coast.
Platform Beer Co
4125 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH
Butcher and the Brewer
2043 E 4th St, Cleveland, OH
Noble Beast Brewing
1470 Lakeside Ave E (E. 13th St.), Cleveland, OH
Nano Brew Cleveland
1859 W 25th St (at Bridge Ave), Cleveland, OH
Market Garden Brewery & Restaurant
1947 W 25th St (at Market Ave), Cleveland, OH
TownHall
1909 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH
Masthead Brewing Co
1261 Superior Ave E, Cleveland, OH
The Tremont Tap House
2572 Scranton Rd (at Starkweather Ave), Cleveland, OH
Great Lakes Brewing Company
2516 Market Ave, Cleveland, OH
Terrestrial Brewing Company
7524 Father Frascati Dr, Cleveland, OH
Working Class Brewery
17448 Lorain Ave (Rocky River DR.), Cleveland, OH
Brick & Barrel
1844 Columbus Rd, Cleveland, OH

AND A LITTLE MUSIC TO END YOUR WEEK ON A HIGH NOTE…
Luke Combs – Beer Never Broke My Heart (Official Video)

 

 

 

 


 

Pass the Ketchup Please

Why do I looooove fast food? Well, it’s fast…and it’s FOOD!

 

We have all been there. That little voice in our heads that says “I’ve been good” then says “yes, it’s ok” and then shouts “go now”. Experts call it a craving.  Some says it’s just being human.  Toss aside the logic, the calories, the balanced meal – and throw in the pleasure, the convenience, and THE TASTE – and you have it – fast food.  Surely an American creation.  Triggered by the age of the automobile and the explosion of nearby retail.  We’ve become a nation quite comfortable with these little indulgences. We know it’s not really that good for us – but we enjoy it just the same.  Favorites are local, and regional and national, often driven by the fries that accompany the burger/sandwich/dog/patty.  Experimentation is part of the industry – spicy cheese, wheat buns, fresh ingredients, tasty sauces, eggs all day, tacos, Chicken, late night drive thrus, “have it your way”, supersize me, toys in the bag, 1/3 and ½ pounders, chili, add a desert, nuggets, shakes, McRib (eew) … the list goes on (just how many times can you recreate a taco), meatless burgers and chicken, cheese fries, and who “has the meats” these days?  I came across this article recently in Food & Wine and just had to share – America’s favorites, by state. (Although their pick for Ohio is suspect. I’d have put Hanini Marathon & Burrito Crazy, 5300 Superior Ave on the list for Ohio.) Here are just some of my favorites – enjoy!  (be sure to read them all – wow!)  I’m heading out to get some fries…

Alaska– The outdoor deck with its line of tables overlooking Campbell Creek is the perfect perch for a summer date with one of the best fast food menus in Anchorage, not to mention the entire state, offered since the 1960’s, back before Alaskans had access to many of the national chains they take for granted today. Keep it local with salmon and halibut burgers, served on paper plates, with a giant pile of thick-cut fries on the side. Come cooler weather, which will arrive soon enough, move the action inside, next to the fireplace, where it’s always milkshake weather. (Arctic Roadrunner)
Hawaii– Name the island favorite, and chances are you’ll find it on the menu at this pan-Hawaiian chain of restaurants that’s been a staple of local life for generations. Spam musubi snacks, loco moco for breakfast, plate lunches, all kinds of delicious things from the in-house Napoleon Bakery—saying that Zippy’s will spoil you is a stretch, but it’ll get you fed, happily so, day or night, and you’ll wish you could take one home with you. (Just put it in your nearest Denny’s. The townspeople will greet you as a liberator.) (Zippys)
Kansas– Wichita’s accomplishments are vast and varied, but one of the most interesting things the city has done over the years is give rise to—and then sustain—three very different, all quite successful burger chains. There’s Nu-Way, a historic chainlet where you feel as if you’ve slipped back in time, at least by forty, fifty years, and then there’s Freddy’s, now well-known across the country for smashburgers and frozen custard. Most people like Freddy’s, and it’s easy to understand why others are nostalgic for Nu-Way. But Spangles? Spangles is weird, man, in a good way, honestly, but when you roll up to one of its thirty-ish locations, some of them looking like gargantuan juke boxes gone missing from a garish, vaguely seamy ’50s diner, it can take a few minutes to sort out just exactly what is going on. There are pancakes for breakfast, go cups overfilled with eggs and sausage and hash browns and sausage gravy, there are people eating 1/3 pound burgers at eight o’clock in the morning. Don’t fight Spangles. Spangles is amazing. You’ll be back. (Spangles)
Louisiana – Sometimes, keeping things ridiculously simple is the key—for a good few years now, this Baton Rouge-based favorite has resisted to the urge to grow their menu, offering chicken tenders, crinkle-cut fries, crispy cold coleslaw with little bits of purple cabbage for color, hunks of garlic-buttered Texas toast and sides of freshly-made remoulade, #Louisiana, and little else. That’s easy—the food is really good, almost identical to what it was in the very beginning. Match that with a service culture that only appears to have improved with time, and you’ve got a winning formula. (Raising Cane’s)
Missouri– We’ll get to those classic roast beef sandwiches, some of the best you’ll find at a fast food joint, and to the little dispensers sitting on the counter labeled “Au Jus,” from which you may allow yourself just as much as you like, turning that sandwich into a French dip, for all you care. (Don’t forget the horseradish.) For starters, though, can we talk about the ice cream? Being St. Louis, where they know from these things, it’s more like frozen custard, thick and creamy, and it’s being sold for pennies. Seriously, a regular sized cone, which back in the old days would have been considered enough ice cream in one sitting, costs just fifty cents.(Lion’s Choice)
Nebraska– Doesn’t all the world need a casual counter joint where you can rock up for a cheap and delicious burger and fries, accompanied by a 99 cent margarita (all day, every day) or an also very affordable beer of your choice, after a sorely trying 9 to 5? With locations around the area vibing part vintage drive-in, part roadhouse, zero pretense, all fun, this curious, dated delight is perhaps most famous for its dedication to keeping one of Nebraska’s most essential culinary traditions alive—that is, of course, the deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. Known around these parts as a cheese frenchee, perhaps in reference to its passing resemblance to the croque monsieur, the thing is batter coated and deep fried, and the results are exactly what you might expect them to be—perfection. (Don & Millie’s)
Pennsylvania– Try the best, which is not only a gas station and a convenience store, it’s also the most popular destination for a quick and affordable bite for generations of hard working people in the southeastern part of the state, and increasingly, beyond. The love for Wawa is centered around three, very key aspects of the experience—there are those hoagies, from a tasty Italian to a not-half-bad cheese steak, all for a few bucks. Then there’s the coffee—no convenience store comes close; their limited edition Wawa Reserve program brings in some surprising single-origin coffees from around the world.  And have we talked about the breakfast sandwiches, the soft pretzels, the iced teas, the ice cream, and the nearly limitless TastyKake reserves? We have now. (Wawa)
Wyoming– Growing from one small stand in Cheyenne in the late 1960’s to become a Mountain Time powerhouse in almost no time at all, there are still communities across Wyoming, Montana and The Dakotas where nobody has ever been to a Taco Bell, and why would they. The home of the Potato Olé (a spiced hash brown round, the foundation on which the Taco John’s menu is built) and the Crispy Taco (shells are fried in-house, every day) is imbued with a real sense of place—the old “West-Mex” slogan, which doesn’t seem to be quite so widely used today, remains seriously apt. (Taco John’s)

 

BONUS VIDEO: 
How I LOST weight by ONLY eating FAST FOOD (EASY!)