Three discs from the Maraca collection: Chapter One

A year ago, I started a lease on a 2018 Mazda 3 and, on one of my morning drives, I thought I’d give the Sirius/XM app a rest and plug in a CD.

And then…

Oh yeah, it doesn’t have a compact disc player. Many new cars don’t. The music format that was supposed to kill off vinyl records is now about as popular as vinyl was in the late ’80s.

Over the years I’ve purchased hundreds of CDs that have filled several racks. I spend more time dusting them than spinning them and I live alone. I’m no slob but I don’t dust as often as I should.

So, what I’ve decided to do is close my eyes, run my fingers along the discs and pick three at random. No cheating. Whatever my digits land on is what will end up in this blog. Where and why I purchased said albums or collections.

Batting leadoff…


I pretty much missed the punk explosion of the late ’70s. Wasn’t into it. Guess I actually liked the so-called bloated mainstream bands that The Sex Pistols sneered at…Pink Floyd, Yes, Fleetwood Mac.

Sorry Johnny Rotten, this Johnny begged to differ. When The Clash and Van Halen taunted each other at the US Festival in ’83 I sided with Diamond Dave and his drunken rants.

Anyway, the great Social D!

Typically, an artist has used an eponymous title for their debut album. This was actually Social Distortion’s third long player, and included The Story of My Life, Ball and Chain and a sizzling cover of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. I played the latter many times on my radio show.

Not sure where I purchased this CD. It has a rough stickiness to the case which suggests it had a price sticker from a used record store. Perhaps BJ’s Records in Downton Barrie, or even back to my Owen Sound days and Randy’s Records.

Social D remains one of my favourite modern-day punk acts, and is often featured on Little Steven’s Underground Garage.


I’ve been buying Beatles albums since the mid-’70s. I was born in ’62 so I was kind of late to the party but caught up in a hurry. Started with the 1967-70 greatest hits double set and then came Sergeant Pepper, the White Album, Abbey Road…

And, as I said off the top, compact discs were supposed to mark the end of vinyl. Guess again!

But, like millions of other music fans I started to buy digital versions of my vinyl treasures so that meant CD copies of Sergeant Pepper and the rest. Cha-ching!

Having said all that, I didn’t add With the Beatles to my collection until a few years ago. As the host of Johnny Maraca’s Rock & Roll Riot radio show, I took great pride in featuring deeper cuts. Dozens of oldies shows play only the top 20 hits but how about the Fab Four cover of Money by Barrett Strong? Or It Won’t Be Long, or Hold Me Tight?

With the Beatles was another find from BJ’s in Barrie. Great store, especially if you’ve gotten back into vinyl.

LIVE IN LAS VEGAS by LOUIS PRIMA & KEELY SMITH (released 2005, recorded 1958)

Somewhere in the ’90s I discovered Nick Tosches’s Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll at a library book sale. Likely paid a quarter for it.

That book became my go-to source for early rock and roll, and introduced me to the colourful character known as Louis Prima. Married five times. Started recording in the early ’40s but as Tosches wrote, “he went through record companies like they were candy.”

By the mid-’50s Prima and then wife Keely Smith were one of the most popular acts in Las Vegas, earning $10,000 a week at the Sahara Hotel.

Unfortunately, Live in Las Vegas does not include Jump Jive & Wail (covered by Brian Setzer of The Stray Cats), or Just a Jigolo. The latter was a hit for the aforementioned David Lee Roth, post Van Halen.

I have a feeling I purchased this album on Amazon. My show ran for nearly 10 years and I can’t even begin to estimate how much I’ve spent on CDs online. And it was even more costly when the show was reborn several years ago (thanks Rockin’ Rod) but without compensation for yours truly.

I did it because I loved it.

That’s it for now. I’ll randomly selected another three discs and take more trips down my musical memory lane.

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Who has time to read? I do

A few weeks ago, I purchased two books at the Elmvale Flea Market for two bucks.

A toonie in total. For my non-Canadian readers, that’s a two-dollar coin.

The vendor put the books in a shopping bag and said, “I hope you enjoy those.”



It used to be the flea market had several displays of used books, table after table and box after box. Mostly popular fiction by Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Stephen King, Dan Brown as well as Twilight and Harry Potter.

And Fifty Shades of whatever.

On this day, maybe a few vendors remained. The pickings were pretty slim and it made me think, do people read much anymore?

Not on Facebook.

Who has time to read what they are reposting? So much easier to find a meme or suspicious (well, not to them) link and exclaim, OMG, look at this! I’m so outraged. I have no idea what it really means or if it’s real but it supports my views.

Holy hell.

In the summer of 1981 I was working in the mail room of Pilot Insurance in Toronto. I spent my lunch hours in the company lounge and to my delight, Pilot had a collection of books. I’d become a Stephen King fan and lo and behold, Salem’s Lot was on the shelf.

I was 19. A female coworker old enough to be my mother said she’d never seen a teenager that was such an avid reader.

And, if you’re a King fan, you know he regards his fans as “constant readers.”

Go back a few years prior and my Dad was shocked to discover Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” in my bedroom. He hadn’t read it, of course. It was scandalous at the time, featuring Jong’s “zipless fuck.” I was 17. Any kind of fuck would have been much appreciated.

Dad became aware of FOF through Newsweek. He had a subscription. I read about Jong’s controversial novel in that same magazine, saw it in a used book store and thought it might be worth buying.

It was.

Long before Youporn and even VCRs, many of us young lads were, um, inspired by the written word when we weren’t checking out the Playboy collections hidden by our friend’s dads in dressers or under the mattresses.

Stephen King wrote in men’s magazines like Cavalier before he hit it big with “Carrie.”

Though I didn’t really read Playboy “for the articles”until my college years.


By the way, the two books I took home from Elmvale were murder mysteries and I highly recommend both.

‘Piece of My Heart,” by Peter Robinson, and Val McDermid’s “The Grave Tattoo.”

I’m often annoyed by the “share if you agree” posts, surveys and lists on Facebook. Many are clickbait. No value to you, but someone thousands of miles away gets a few bucks for your viewings and repostings.


My cousin Vincent Knowles circulated one about books we’ve found important or inspiring. So here’s one of mine. Read it as a teenager, loved the movie version as well.

So…let’s take a U-turn back to Facebook.

It used to be the only way to express your opinion to the general public was through a letter to the editor in a local or national newspaper. They decided if your take on things was worthy of publishing and called you to verify that you were who you said you were.

Now, any lout has a voice.

The Town of Wasaga Beach holds an annual Remembrance Day event the week prior to November 11th. Why? Because Wasaga doesn’t have a legion branch and the legion in Stayner puts on an additional ceremony to salute the beach’s veterans and their families. They don’t have the resources to hold events on the same day so let me repeat, it’s an EXTRA event.

But that didn’t stop some brainless twit ranting on Facebook about how wrong it was for the town to NOT have an event on 11/11 (the town library does its own event on the actual day).

And…maybe you knew this was coming? They blamed Justin Trudeau.

Read. Fucking read. Anything.

I’m captivated by the HBO’s, “Sharp Objects,” starring Amy Adams. Love that turned up nose (and everything below it). Became aware of the series online and eagerly anticipated it because I had read the book.

Written by Gillian Flynn, author of “Gone Girl” and a novel that would likely be an even better miniseries, “Dark Places.”

Flynn was a writer for Entertainment Weekly and you know who’s letter to the editor was accepted by EW?


I was defending Canadian actors and singers though I may have taken a shot at Celine Dion. Her career went on.

However, Joseph O’Mara (my Dad) had a letter to the editor published in the Toronto Star way back in in the ’70s when Justin’s Father was the Prime Minister.





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To friend or unfriend, that is the question

Unless you are a saint or the most wonderful person on earth you have been unfriend on what Jerry Seinfeld called “Facecrack.”

It’s happened to all of us.

Years ago when you friended them you thought, hey, we either worked together, still do, met at place we both like, played ball together, have mutual friends or hey, someone from Ghana wants to be friends, what can be the harm in that?

Maybe a lot.

Maybe they are just a a really nice person from halfway around the world and I’m hoping for the best and believing that person would be a fine human being I’d be happy to connect with, regardless of borders or ideologies.

Please, Mark Zuckerberg, make them be someone I would hug in real life.


I’ve been unfriend by people who would hug the life out of me, kiss me and say they were happy I had come into their life.


I was on the wrong side of a feud. You can’t remain friends with both sides. Kiss them off or I will kiss you goodbye.


Unfriend me. I’d prefer you didn’t but if my small L liberal views offended you, sorry. Defend yours in a thoughtful manner and I’ll listen.

Call the other side idiots or morons and yes, please, please, hit the Unfrend button. Buh-bye,

As soon as you sink to that level, your point of view is nullified

Are Trump and Trudeau morons?

Yes and yes. No and no.

They both rose to the highest offices in their lands and….we’re stuck with them so deal with it. Support. Protest. March.

Or if you didn’t vote you can really fuck off. YOU are the reason we’re in this mess. Thanks. You are part of of the 10 or 20 percent that screwed our province, state or country.

If you voted for Trump or Ford at least you took the time to go to the polls and I salute you for sticking with the people you believed in….

Unlike the “unfrienders” who bailed and said Buy-bye.

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‘Effin the B’s

I’m no prude.

I can swear with the best (or worst) of them, as many of my tennis opponents can attest. It’s game point, here comes an easy put away and…I hit it wide, long, or into the net.


The inspiration for this blog will come your way in a few paragraphs.

For now, I will say the F-word should always be used properly…if that’s possible and I say it can be…for emphasis. For effect. To shock. To make it clear you are pissed off, agitated, frustrated or reached your boiling point.

Or for comedic effect.

One of my favourite uses of the F-word occurred in the 1985 zombie comedy “Return of the Living Dead.”


Clu Gulager plays Burt Wilson, the owner of a medical supply warehouse that has become, much to his friggin’ dismay, the place where cadavers come back to life after a toxic gas is released.

They unleash a zombie from the freezer and the naked creature makes a beeline for Wilson, who eventually kills it with a hammer strike to the head.

Not before he is told, as is well known in Zombie movie lore, to finish off the zombie you must brain it. Kill the brain and you kill the ghoul.

The undead being is still writhing on the floor and Burt says….

“I hit the fucking brain!”

See, there’s the right way to use the F-word. As an exclamation point.

So, the reason for this blog.

Last weekend I sat on the patio of Wasaga Beach’s only landmark, The Dardanella. Celebrating it’s 100th birthday this summer. The Dard is where people met their future spouses and danced to the big band songs of Glenn Miller.

Who can forget, “In the fucking mood?”

Well, that tune may have led to some couplings but of course, it was just “In the Mood.”

So, last weekend.


I’m listening to the music from the loudspeakers and it seems every second song is about fucking. Or bitches. Or fucking those bitches. Or, bitch, let’s fuck. Apparently it was a Spotify playlist and even though there is a setting that filters out R or X-rated lyrics, the management was asleep at the fucking wheel.

In 1978, The Who put out an album called “Who are You?”

Not, “Who the fuck are you?”

And, if you are familiar with the title song, Roger Daltrey adds a fuck to the chorus later in the song, twice, and many rock (then, now classic) stations let that slide because it’s one F-word and hey, that’s rock and roll.

Rebellion. Stick it to the man. Who the fuck are you?

And…I’m venturing into old fart territory.

Remember, Im no prude. I love the films of Quentin Tarantino and I’d bet they average 200 variations of fuck per movie. It’s profanic poetry.

Choruses of fucking bitches, I’m gonna fuck you, let’s fuck or any graphic terms referring to sex.

Lacking in creativity.

My Dad hated profanity. Thought it was a lower class language and I have to agree with Dad on his oft-quoted lyrics from Cole Porter’s 1934 song, “Anything Goes.”

Holy fuck, the creator of the Rock and Roll Riot has included a Bing Crosby movie in his blog.

Good writers who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose…

Anything Goes.

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