Browsing Tag

Bernie

Career Killers: “Adore” by the Smashing Pumpkins

Mike Love may be a good rock ‘n roll heel, but Billy Corgan is an actual heel. The longtime wrestling fan and eventual promoter and on-air authority figure made a conscious decision, from the beginning, to be the bad guy. “In the early years of the Smashing Pumpkins, I saw that I was going to be treated as an outsider,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “So rather than play along, which is what you’re supposed to do, I decided to play heel, in wrestling parlance, and have fun with it… I’d rather be that heel than the babyface who goes along to get along.”

He did a great job. Despite his obvious talent (the Pumpkins singer and lead guitarist wrote almost all of the songs and played, pretty much, everything except for drums on the band’s first two albums), Corgan became one of the least likable people in music. He tossed off arrogant quotes to the music press more easily than Ted DiBiase threw his money around to move to the front of the line at an emergency room, close down a public pool or buy himself a championship belt because he was upset he couldn’t win the actual one. He treated his bandmates like employees, hiring and firing them at will or blaming them for breaking up the band when he was always on the one in charge. And he certainly wasn’t humble. “Do I belong in the conversation about the best artists in the world? My answer is yes, I do,” he said to Rolling Stone in 2010.

So like watching the hated heel get his comeuppance, there was quite a bit of schadenfreude in seeing Corgan fail. And with 1998’s Adore, Corgan did so in spectacular fashion, bringing his band’s momentum to a screeching halt and ending its run as one of the biggest and most popular alternative rock bands in the world.

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The Long Goodbye

“The photograph reflects. Every streetlight a reminder.” — “Nightswimming,” R.E.M.

“These wheels keep turning but they’re running out of steam. Keep me in your heart for a while.” — “Keep Me In Your Heart,” Warren Zevon

These are some of the last photographs I took of Bernie. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if he was saying a long goodbye by doing certain things one last time.

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The Finger of Destiny

What will you do when the finger of Destiny points at you?

For us, we decided to adopt her. Maybe it was destiny (pun intended) that she came to us. She arrived in Chicago the same week that Bernie passed. And she joined us right as we were about to embark on a particularly difficult period without him and helped us through it.

Plus, she’s been such a sweetheart that we just couldn’t let her go. She took to us from the moment she arrived home, and we definitely fell for her. Looks like we’ve failed as foster parents.

However, we just couldn’t abide by her name. So from henceforth, she will be known as Dessie Lisa Vito. First of her name. Queen of all she surveys. Barker at other dogs. Killer of rodents. Conquerer of bed space.

Welcome to the family, Dessie. Thank you for helping heal our broken hearts. Now if you’d only stop trying to kill all those possums.

No Other that Compares With You

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere all bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free

Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worry
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

— Tom Petty, “Wildflowers.”

In Memoriam: Bernie Yuen-Li

“Oh honey, look at this one!” my wife gesticulated to me one night, holding out her phone with glee.

It was a picture of a small, tan-and-white dog named “Axel.” Felines & Canines, one of the local shelters in Chicago, had just posted his info. Apparently, he was a corgi-mix that had just reached the shelter after being rescued from Kentucky and he was already charming everyone with his gentlemanly demeanor.

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