Flick Nation Review: The Wrecking Crew

As I am clearly a passionate music guy (just talk to me for 30 seconds and it becomes obvious), I am frequently asked who my favorite band is. As The Beatles would be my somewhat clichéd but true answer, I often confound by answering, “The Wrecking Crew.” After I get that long stare, as they try to determine if they are forgetting some underground punk band or the early name of someone like The Velvet Underground, I let them off the hook and explain who the Crew were, but not before suggesting that they are also the favorite band of millions who have also never heard their name. Because everyone knows their music, and I guarantee you do as well.WreckingCrewLogo

The Wrecking Crew is a loose moniker describing a group of approximately two-dozen “first call” studio musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960s and early 1970s. They began as Phil Spector’s legendary “Wall of Sound” ensemble, eventually playing on hundreds of hit songs for many of the biggest stars of the era, such as: the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Righteous Brothers, the Tijuana Brass, Nancy Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Rivers, the Monkees, the Association, the Mamas and the Papas, Sonny & Cher, The 5th Dimension, The Carpenters, and Simon & Garfunkel. They were also frequently used by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley.

Their roots were in Big Band and Swing, and by the late 50’s they were gigging in jazz combos around LA, playing on sessions for film scores and novelty hits, and backing popular vocalists on the road. In the early 60’s they jelled as a unit through their work with Spector, and quickly became the preferred players for dozens of top producers, songwriters, and record labels. They became a veritable hit factory, a group of virtuoso musicians who could capture any groove at will, prop up any instrumentally-challenged band or teen sensation, and, if the song had potential, hit it out of the park every time. Celebrated songwriter Jimmy Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Up, Up, and Away,” “MacArthur Park”) described the Crew as the “stone-cold professionals.”

Many might concur that the artistic peak of the Crew’s output occurred in 1966-67, specifically with their work on the Beach Boy’s groundbreaking Pet Sounds and the (until recently) unreleased SMiLE—the sessions of which produced the psychedelic pocket symphony “Good Vibrations,” a global smash and still one of the most innovative recordings in history. Brian Wilson was by this time only using the other Beach Boys for vocals; his sonic vision had expanded to the point where he was not only booking dates at separate studios for their unique ambience and production qualities, he was incorporating the specific techniques and flavors of the Wrecking Crew players into the compositions of the songs themselves. He was playing the Crew like a multifaceted instrument capable of mimicking any style or genre.wreckingcrewharrisonosborne

Several members of the Crew went on to huge success as solo artists. Glen Campbell, after countless recording sessions as part of the Crew, became one of the biggest stars of the late 60s and 70s. The moving documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which explores Campbell’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease while on his final concert tour, ends with him recording one last song with his old Crew-mates, at a time when he no longer recognized them. It is a poignant and heart breaking moment. The track they cut together, “I’m Not Going to Miss You,” was nominated for Best Song at the 2015 Academy Awards.

As well, Leon Russell, piano-master for the Crew, found noteworthy success as a solo artist and became quite recognizable as a solo-Beatle sideman (Concert for Bangladesh), while drummer Jim Gordon went on to become a member of Eric Clapton’s highly respected band Derek and the Dominoes, for whom he composed the piano coda for the classic “Layla.”

The other stalwart members of the Crew—drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer; bassists Carol Kaye, Ray Pohlman, and Joe Osborne; keyboardists Larry Knechtel, Mike Melvoin, and Don Randi; guitarists James Burton, Barney Kessel, Jerry Cole, and Billy Strange; and sax players Plas Johnson, Steve Douglas, and Jim Horn—are not well known outside of the industry, but that looks to finally change with the release of the long-awaited documentary The Wrecking Crew, coming to theaters March 2015.

The film is the product of a nearly twenty year labor of love. Director Denny Tedseco began shooting the movie in 1996 when his father, “first-chair” Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, was diagnosed with cancer. The senior Tedesco’s guitar work is ubiquitous in American culture. In addition to playing on many of the classic pop hits of the era, his guitar work can be heard on more than 1,000 television themes and film/TV soundtracks, including Batman, Green Acres, Mission Impossible, and Three’s Company.

Denny Tedseco has crafted a moving and extremely informative film that chronicles the history of the Crew, with commentary by many of the artists they supported (Brian Wilson, Cher, Mickey Dolenz), and of course memories provided by the surviving members themselves. On the heels of recent successful music docs in the same vein—Standing in the Shadows of Motown, 20 Feet from Stardom, and Muscle Shoals—The Wrecking Crew looks to set the record straight with one of the most incredible and interesting narratives of the classic rock era. For any true music lover, this is not one to miss.

I’ll close with an easy joke, guaranteed to score points next time you are with your music-fan-pals: What do “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” “God Only Knows,” “Strangers in the Night,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” “California Dreaming,” “I’m a Believer,” “I Got You, Babe,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Age of Aquarius: Let the Sun Shine In,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” all have in common?

I think we all know the punch-line to that one by now.

Boldly Go: My Journey in Stem Cell Therapy

I am living proof! I admit to being a little bit of a risk-taker, but it has always served me well. I had Radial Keratotomy performed when I knew no one who had. It has been so long ago that unless you’re my age you probably haven’t even heard of it. RK was the precursor to Laser Eye Surgery. I talked a friend into having it done the same day, so I wouldn’t be alone. What can I say, a few minutes in surgery and I was 20/20. So, here I am again, living proof.GettyImages_538722335

It’s funny how fearful we can be of the unknown, yet all around us limits are being stretched. I live with my IPhone in one hand and my IPad in the other. I read on Facebook about drones and rifles that shoot around corners. My “real” camera sits on the shelf gathering dust. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t jump out of perfectly good airplanes or ski off mountains that I can’t get to without a helicopter but that may be because I’m a little old for that kind of stuff.

My age brought me to why I’m writing this story. A few months ago I had Stem Cell Therapy to rebuild the cartilage in my knee, but let me back up a little. Five years ago I had a Total Knee Replacement done on my right knee. I was scheduled to have my left knee replaced within a few months as well. I know that everyone has a little different outcome to Total Knee Replacements but mine was tough—tough enough that I immediately cancelled my second surgery and started looking for an alternative.

That’s probably where this story should have begun. I looked and I looked, but to no avail. The Orthopedic world was working on it but to me it felt like more of the same. I talked to everyone that would talk to me. Almost everyone I spoke with was desperately trying to affirm their decision for having the surgery, but if you caught them in an honest moment, many had issues. As I look back, I truly don’t remember any of the doctors explaining the literal brutality of the surgery. If they did, it would probably dramatically diminish the number of surgeries they perform. They don’t talk much about the fact that it is virtually impossible to kneel on a metal knee. I never realized how much I would miss that simple act.

About four years into my quest for an alternative, a friend of mine mentioned someone she knew who had gone the stem cell route. Afterwards, I couldn’t even remember who told me but Google Search became my best friend. My research kept me awake until the wee hours of the morning many nights. I was learning about the amazing world of stem cells.

There were articles from around the world and right in my own backyard. There were high profile people who had seen amazing results. Governor Rick Perry had a stem cell procedure done on his back while campaigning for President. Professional athletes were back on the field in record time after procedures on knees, backs and shoulders. Stem cell therapy is one of the best kept secrets in the medical arena.

You may wonder why you haven’t heard more about it. Number one is that at this point, it is not FDA approved. Right now you may be thinking…whoa! Don’t stop reading, not just this article but if you or someone you love needs this, read everything you can get your hands on.

Because it is not FDA approved yet, most insurance companies don’t cover the procedure. Keep reading. In most cases this is not a deal breaker. Later in this article I am going to go through the old Ben Franklin decision making formula of Pros and Cons with you.

Let me tell you how my procedure worked. I located a clinic in San Rafael that appeared to be what I was looking for. I researched Health Link Medical Centers and found out everything I possibly could about them. We are so fortunate in the Bay Area to have a facility nearby. This group has been doing this type of procedure for ten years. I called and made an appointment with Dr. Paul Handleman, D. O. Yes, he is an Orthopedic Doctor who specializes in Regenerative Interventional Orthopedics.

They asked if I had a MRI and if so, to bring it with me. My personal physician had ordered one for me so I was on my way. Dr. Handleman put my MRI up on a large screen and while we looked at it together, he told me about the procedure and answered my questions. He then did an ultrasound on my knee pointing out issues that couldn’t be seen on my MRI. After I left, I had a few more questions that he willingly answered over the phone. I had made up my mind. Since I was a candidate, it was the answer to my search.

Let me share a few of the things I learned about Stem Cell Therapy. Number one, from what I’ve read it is a bit of a political hot potato. In my opinion, the medical lobbyists have done a great job keeping it at bay. The average Total Knee Replacement will have a cost of $75,000-$100,000. This includes everything from hospital stays to operating rooms, to the various medical professionals involved to after-care and rehabilitation. Then you have drugs, crutches, walkers (oh my!) Let me just say, it is BIG Business.

My Stem Cell Therapy was a total of four visits to the doctor. The first visit was my consultation. The actual procedure is a three visit process over a period of approximately a week.iii0

The first of the three visits was very quick. The doctor answered my last minute questions and then did something I thought rather unusual. He anesthesized my knee and put several shots of what amounted to “sugar water” in the places I needed to grow back the cartilage. The purpose of this is to literally make these areas “angry” so when the stem cells are injected they know where to go.

The second of the visits was two days later. I was nervous. I had heard stories from people who had donated stem cells and I’m not sure if mine was different or the people that had shared had embellished but it was enough to create the nervousness. They first drew blood. They used the platelets from the blood for what is called Plasma Rich Platelets or PRP. The PRP’s by themselves were some of the early stem cells used for procedures. The Doctor then numbed my lower back to extract the Stem Cells from my Iliac Crest. This has proven to be the absolute best Stem Cells in our bodies.

This process actually turned out to be pretty funny. I credit a little white pill given to be by the doctor and a system that is pretty clean (other than my borderline sugar addiction) for the humor in that day. It seems that I was “feeling no pain” when the doctor did the extraction. My son, who was sitting in the waiting room, could hear me singing my heart out all during the procedure. He told me later when I asked, that probably everyone in the eight story building could have heard me singing and laughing.

After a nice lunch with my son, I returned to the actual stem cell injections into my knee. While we were having lunch the medical team was concentrating those cells in a lab. Regenexx SD is the process. I left that day on crutches with a couple of pain pills, just in case. There was some pain involved with the procedure but I had been getting Cortisone shots every three months directly into my knee. I was hoping to never have to get another one! I was instructed to not do a lot of walking for a couple of days. I had scheduled my procedure over a long weekend. Dr. Handleman had given me his cell phone number and told me to not hesitate to call. nnn0

I went back for my third and last appointment a few days later. The doctor drew some more blood and gave me booster shots in my knee of the stem cells. I was done. I went back to work. My knee has gradually (it’s growing) gotten better and better. They had told me that the growth is at least a year -long process. It has now been nine months.

It is a little strange how you qualify the recovery. I haven’t had a cortisone shot in a year. When I had them before I would be great for two to three weeks and by the time I could get another one, I would hardly be walking. I used to schedule my injections around events or travel where I knew I would need to walk a lot.

Now it just gets easier and easier. I love going to church but the congregation stands while they sing. This is sometimes 30 minutes. I just couldn’t do that before. Now, I stand for the whole time and don’t even think about it. I also belong to a group who collects donations for our troops every month. I can now stand for the whole two hour shift. Everywhere I turn there is living proof that my body is healing itself.

Let’s go back to Ben Franklin. On the Pro Side I had…non-surgical, little or no recovery time, less pain, no prolonged time away from work or commitments resulting in less loss of income, very little help needed, no aftereffects, can have it done more than once to get a better result over time, and traditional surgery is still an option if it doesn’t work.

The Con Side is shorter. Will it work? Private Pay. Fear of the unknown. Process takes a year.
Even after I decided, I thought long and hard about the private pay aspect. I began actually running the numbers. I called my insurance company to see what my total co-pays would be for the traditional surgery. That’s when I found out what the Total Knee Replacement cost was. With Obamacare now in place the numbers seemed to get higher and higher and no one seemed to be able to give me a clear picture.

The Health Link Medical Center group gave me clear numbers. It would cost me approximately $5,700. The co-pays on the traditional procedure weren’t that far off and with the Stem Cell procedure I was back to work much faster not interrupting my income flow.

If you are going to opt for the Stem Cell Procedure, I would highly recommend getting on a high grade nutritional supplement as soon as possible. I have been taking great supplements for several years and rarely get sick. Little did I know that my supplements would warrant me the nickname at the clinic of “Stem Cell Queen”? It seems that the extra nutrition plus good hydration before the procedure provided over a billion stem cells in the extraction! GettyImages_474902697 [Converted]

This is in the “just so you know” category. The Federal government requires that the stem cells that are extracted from your body have to be put back in the same day if they are to be used. Health LinkMedical Centers has a facility in the Grand Caymans (British). They do the procedure a little differently. They extract your Stem Cells and culture them for approximately a month. You can go home or work on your tan. After that time, they put the cultured cells back in your body. The growth process is faster with the cultured cells, but it is also more expensive. Celebrities and athletes tend to go the Grand Cayman route.

I am told the same doctors are rotated through that facility as their facilities here in the States. Logically, if you have your livelihood on the line, the timing truly seems to make sense.

Even though I did my research and due diligence, I have intentionally not gone into the more scientific aspect of Stem Cell procedures. I am not a scientist, nor a doctor, just a very grateful patient. Between the Health Link and Regenexx websites and others (UC Davis has an amazing program) you can learn as much or as little as you like.

Now, BOLDLY GO!

The Spring Clean: House, Yard and Garage Beautification

Spring is in the air. Birdsare chirping, flowers are blooming and the Giants are at Spring Training in Arizona. Now that we’ve all given up on our New Year’s resolutions, or at least postponed them until after Easter, it’s time to think about Spring Cleaning: That traditional time of year when we plan a major clean up of our house, yard and the garage. This is no easy chore (or collection of chores). It takes preparation, conditioning and training. Back when I was a kid, my parents took great pleasure in participating in our annual springtime neighborhood beautification project. I can still remember my mother’s Spring Cleaning slogan of 1973, “Clean it and I mean it” or her 1979 catch phrase, “If it don’t fit, it ain’t legit” which I’m pretty sure was stolen by Johnny Cochran for his OJ defense years later. My all-time favorite was 1985’s “My louse of a spouse better clean this damn house.” I think my mom was mad at my dad that year. In most households, spring-cleaning still remains a necessary evil and the month of March is when most families begin to tackle this ritualistic effort.

The HouseGettyImages_78435998

In these days, where everyone needs the newest, fastest and coolest of everything; where nothing is built to last but everything is recyclable, a lot of us accumulate an excessive amount of junk around the house. Growing up, my parents insisted that during “S-C Week,” we would pack up our home like we were moving across country. This fun little task allowed us to throw-out, clean-up and organize the contents of our 1,800 square foot house after 11.75 months of hoarding, storing and ignoring the place. It was amazing what we would find around the house as we emptied out closets, rearranged furniture and unloaded cabinets and cupboards.Sadly, anything from a Santa suit to old Halloween candy to a petrified missing pet could potentially be uncovered.

Discoveries like these would inevitably bring up a few interesting questions, such as: Why did Santa leave his suit at our house, who’s the chocoholic hoarding Kit Kat bars and why did the hamster commit suicide? Room by room, the Copeland Clan would ascend on our targeted living space assignment with one goal: To beautificate the premises.

As parents, the term clean-up may be too simplistic a term when it comes to the thought of tackling the hard-hat excavation of our kid’s bedrooms and closets. I am always amazed at the amount of “stuff” kids of today can accumulate.

My daughters’ rooms often resemble a stinky secondhand thrift store! I like to think of Spring Cleaning the kid’s bedrooms as the great discard of accumulated, worthless junk; a purging of broken and obsolete electronics, and the general discarding of non-fitting or out-of-style clothing.

If memory serves me correctly, I didn’t have one tenth of the stuff my kids have lying around the house. I owned one pair of sneakers, not what seems like hundreds of running shoes, flip-flops, boots, slippers, flats and heels. Not that I wanted a pair of heels. I wasn’t a young Bruce Jenner.

The Yard

My landscape isn’t in any better shape than the house. Despite a lack of rain, I have weeds in my lawn, weeds in my shrubs, weeds in my rock beds and weeds in the cracks of my concrete/driveway. Even my beautiful, stone BBQ island has weeds. Not to mention, every plant-like green thing outside of my house is overgrown to the point that my backyard looks like the Amazon Rainforest or a Rainforest Café.

Back in the day, my Dad would rally his pre-pubescent children around him on a Saturday morning and begin by having us spray the yard with the strongest pre and post emergent chemicals sold (illegally) at black market flea markets. Once that was complete, he would give us access to the sharpest machete-type gardening tools in the shed for a hardy afternoon of pruning, trimming and weeding. Finally, after a refreshing ten-minute lunch break, he would point us in the direction of the riding mower.

But hey, except for an occasional tick or tremor, I turned out OK. Now those pesky OSHA restrictions and child labor laws limit our kids to raking leaves and using the hose. I can’t even get the little buggers to clean up the dog poop. If it weren’t against the HOA CC&Rs, this would be the perfect time of year to shape my agapanthus shrubs into the shape of various zoo animals. Truth be told, my yard just needs some mulch, a few flowers and a synthetic lawn to keep my neighbors from shaking their heads in disgust as they drive by the house and refuse to wave.

The GarageGettyImages_461923047

The garage is the biggest and most difficult of the three Spring Cleaning Triathlon events. It will take strength, endurance and steroids (use them if you’ve got them) to get the wife’s car back into its rightful spot. It is not uncommon to fill every square inch of my garage each year, much like a hoarder’s self-storage unit in Richmond. Last spring, I found my next-door neighbor’s ping-pong table, keg-er-ator and his mother-in-law living in my garage. I have no idea how any of those things got there, but I did return his ping-pong table and mother-in-law.

A proper garage Spring Cleaning can consume an entire weekend. First thing Saturday morning, I slip into my Haz-mat suit and Chuck Taylor high tops and begin removing every last item from the garage and placing it in alphabetical order on the front lawn and driveway. Just kidding, I just throw shi.. uh.. stuff anywhere. Once the garage is swept, power washed and deloused, there’s the job of storing everything to an orderly place, less the 70% of previous inventory that gets trashed, hauled, donated or sold at Sunday’s big Copeland Family White Trash Garage Sale. There will be price slashing specials all day long. If all goes we’ll, I can usually park the little woman’s car back in the garage for about a week or two before we start accumulating new junk and the garage becomes overrun again.

It’s been said that our home is our castle! Spring-cleaning is a great opportunity to spruce up the kingdom. For most of us, our house is our single largest investment and a little curb appeal wouldn’t hurt the value. There’s no denying that a cleaning triathlon is a lot of work, but the results will be rewarding and assuredly worth the effort. If you can get the kids creatively involved you’ll kill two birds with one stone. (I actually found two dead birds in my hall closet last year.)

Granted, I’ve already trademarked the term, The Spring Clean Triathlon, but for a small fee I would be happy to send you a Spring Cleaning kit to get you started. We even have Spring Clean2015 t-shirts in assorted colors and sizes. Think of the slogan possibilities, “Keep it Alive in 2-0-1-5, “Rad Dad and The #1 Clean Team,” or more to the point, “Damn Right I’m Mean – Now Quit Whining and Clean.”

My mom would be so proud.