Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Stadium Arcadium Art

May 8. Can't wait.

Irv Kluger Dies at 84

Irv Kluger, a passionate jazz drummer who played with nearly every great musician, died recently.
I took lessons from the spirited and wacky Irv, who used to teach at Mahoney's drum shop in Las Vegas. He used to tell me, once I felt comfortable, I could sit in with his band at Pogos. Well, I never made it there, but he played at Pogos right up until his death. I still practice with the thick binder of handwritten lessons he gave me. Rest in peace, Irv.
photo by R. Marsh Starks
Drummer moved many during long career
By Ed Koch and Jerry Fink
Las Vegas Sun

When Irv Kluger hit his drums, you couldn't help but tap your foot - or even get up and dance.

"Irv Kluger and his All Stars were terrific," The Washington Post wrote on Sept. 18. "Their jazzy music was loud and lively and seamless. It rolled robustly off the little stage in waves. People slow-danced between the tables. (The bartender) did a little box step behind the cash register."

During eight decades, millions moved to the beat of Kluger's drums.

Kluger, a Big Band-era musician who also was a member of Artie Shaw and the Gramercy Five and performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman, died Tuesday at Nathan Adelson Hospice from complications of a stroke and heart attack he had suffered in late January. He was 84.

Services for the Las Vegas resident of 41 years are pending. Kluger's family said his ashes will be sent to Israel, where he always dreamed of visiting but never did. Palm Mortuary is handling the arrangements.

For 20 years, Kluger led the Friday night jazz jam sessions at Pogo's Tavern, 2103 N. Decatur Blvd.

"I used to sit there and look over my shoulder at Irv when he was playing and wonder, what did this guy sound like 50 years ago when he was in his 30s?" said 65-year-old keyboardist Dick Fazio, who was with Kluger's band for three years. "He was a great musician up until the end."

Born July 9, 1921, in New York City, Kluger started learning the violin at 4 but soon switched to drums and became a professional musician at 13. He would go on to perform with Jimmy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and dozens of others.

"I am fortunate," Kluger said in a May 27 Sun story. "I am skilled and I'm getting better. I'm learning all the time. I like challenges."

Kluger, who in recent years resembled Einstein with his unmanageable mop of white hair and white moustache, attended college at a Manhattan Christian school in the late 1930s. A pre-law student, he put himself through school on the $85 a week he earned playing nights and weekends in a band.

He eventually chose music over law and, in addition to live performances, became one of the top recording session drummers of his time, spending 10 years in the 1950s and '60s in Los Angeles studios.

His drums can be heard on the soundtrack of the 1962 film "The Longest Day" and other motion pictures, as well as on numerous jazz and Big Band recordings including "Ella Fitzgerald - The War Years (1941-1947)" and trombonest Milt Bernhart's "The Horns" that also featured Maynard Ferguson on the euphonium.

According to, Kluger's first major job was with Georgie Auld's Orchestra from 1942 to 1943. He recorded with Gillespie in 1945. Kluger was with Stan Kenton's Orchestra from 1947 to 1948 and Tex Beneke's band in 1949.

Kluger joined clarinetist Shaw and the Gramercy Five in 1949 but left the band a year later to join the orchestra of "Guys and Dolls" at the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway.

In the early 1950s, Kluger joined Shaw's orchestra to perform hits that included "Frenesi" and "Begin the Beguine." Their nationwide tour included a 12-week gig at the Sahara's Casbar Lounge.

In the spring of 1954, Kluger rejoined the Gramercy Five to work on what would be Shaw's final recording session. Shaw, claiming he had done all he could do with a clarinet, retired that year at 44.

Shaw once said of Kluger: "I loved Irv's playing. He added something important to the band. He made contributions to the music while staying out of the way and allowing things to naturally unfold."

Kluger suffered a series of minor strokes last year, but continued to perform at Pogo's. A recent stroke landed him at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he suffered a heart attack in the emergency room, his family said.

Kluger's survivors include his wife, Phyllis Kluger; two daughters, DeAnna Langer and Jessica Marciel; and a granddaughter, Alexandra Marciel, all of Las Vegas.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Delocator is a cool site for finding coffee shops, but the idea behind it -- Starbucks is big, therefore bad -- is silly.

The site has gotten all sorts of press and Xtine Hanson's public relations people promoting the site ought to be congratulated -- the media salivates for a big guy vs. little guy story.

But really, big does not equal bad. Coffee lovers like myself go to Starbucks because, well, the coffee is, more times than not, good, fast and consistent. I
go to other locally owned shops as well and when I travel I like to try out new spots. But when I really want what I want, I go to Starbucks because I know I'll get what I want. It is what it is.

Sometimes big can be bad. Many solid arguments have been made about Wal-Mart. But not in Starbucks' case. Starbucks employs thousands of people in local markets and pays relatively well. The company offers many other perks. It also donates to local communities. As far as I can tell, they are a shining example of what a corporate citizen ought to be.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Key to Happiness

Lincoln had it right, according to a story at LiveScience:

The Keys to Happiness, and Why We Don't Use Them
By Robin Lloyd
Special to LiveScience
posted: 27 February 2006
08:55 am ET

"It requires some effort to achieve a happy outlook on life, and most people don't make it."
—Author and researcher Gregg Easterbrook

Psychologists have recently handed the keys to happiness to the public, but many people cling to gloomy ways out of habit, experts say.

Polls show Americans are no happier today than they were 50 years ago despite significant increases in prosperity, decreases in crime, cleaner air, larger living quarters and a better overall quality of life.

So what gives?

Happiness is 50 percent genetic, says University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken. What you do with the other half of the challenge depends largely on determination, psychologists agree. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."

What works, and what doesn't

Happiness does not come via prescription drugs, although 10 percent of women 18 and older and 4 percent of men take antidepressants, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Anti-depressants benefit those with mental illness but are no happiness guarantee, researchers say.
Be Happy

University of Pennsylvania’s Martin Seligman offers questionnaires for assessing your happiness, beating depression and developing insights into how to be happier on his web site.

Nor will money or prosperity buy happiness for many of us. Money that lifts people out of poverty increases happiness, but after that, the better paychecks stop paying off sense-of-well-being dividends, research shows.

One route to more happiness is called "flow," an engrossing state that comes during creative or playful activity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found. Athletes, musicians, writers, gamers, and religious adherents know the feeling. It comes less from what you're doing than from how you do it.

Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California at Riverside has discovered that the road toward a more satisfying and meaningful life involves a recipe repeated in schools, churches and synagogues. Make lists of things for which you're grateful in your life, practice random acts of kindness, forgive your enemies, notice life's small pleasures, take care of your health, practice positive thinking, and invest time and energy into friendships and family.

The happiest people have strong friendships, says Ed Diener, a psychologist University of Illinois. Interestingly his research finds that most people are slightly to moderately happy, not unhappy.

Read the rest here