O'REILLY DEFENSE STANCE ON HIP-HOP
TV commentator-author Bill O'Reilly says he has no regrets for remarks about hip-hop music and won't budge in his assessment. As the result of what O'Reilly has been saying on his TV show, some of the high-ranking members of the hip-hop industry have been holding nearly daily "summit meetings" for rebuttal. O'Reilly has been quoted as calling the music "mind poison." Now, according to the New York Post, O'Reilly is ready to defend his charges the music is dangerous to young children by meeting with any hip-hopper who wants to challenge his ideas in a debate. O'Reilly says he thinks many of the hip-hop leaders are raking him over the coals simply to curry favor with others in the music industry. O'Reilly recently used his show to tell the story of two 10-year-old girls who told him at their school boys regularly used derogatory words often found in hip-hop music in calling them names.
CLAY WALKER STARTS MEDICAL GROUP
Following a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, singer-songwriter Clay Walker has formed his own MS informational center. Walker tells country.com the non-profit agency will provide information on the ailment to people who sufferers and to their friends and families. Walker admits "living with MS hasn't been easy." He tells the news provider many MS sufferers, though, are in worse shape than he is. He notes by "going public" with his condition he will inspire others and help in the campaign to raise money to find a cure for the disease. Walker has named his group The Band Against MS Foundation.
NEW ORCHESTRA LEADER TOUTS PLANS
The new conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, Osma Vanska, has announced an ambitious agenda for the coming musical season. Vanska -- a native of Finland who is credited with recently bringing new life to the British Broadcasting Copr.'s Scottish Symphony Orchestra -- arrives in the Twin Cities as the Minnesota Orchestra's 10th music director. The 49-year-old musician, also an award-winning clarinetist, tells fans he plans to continue his love of recording and will work with his new group to crank out the CDs in the coming years. Famous for his energetic conducting style, the Chicago Tribune once noted "Vanska didn't just conduct this music; he lived it, breathed it, became it." For more on Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra check out minnesotaorchestra.org on the Internet.
CONNICK HOME AGAIN FOR MARDI GRAS
Performing at Mardi Gras in New Orleans is nothing new for Harry Connick Jr., after all he's a Crescent City native. The son of one of the city's best known law enforcement officers -- Connick Sr. is New Orleans district attorney, the younger Connick has parlayed his good looks, natural talents and great piano playing into an international career. He never misses a Mardi Gras, however, and published reports say this year he will be joined by county's Travis Tritt on March 3 during the official area-wide blow-out. Tritt will serve as the "king" of the Krewe of Orpheus parade. Connick founded the krewe -- the traditional Mardi Gras term for a club that puts on a lavish parade -- a decade ago. In the ensuing 10 years his krewe has gained a reputation for producing some of the more lavish and fun floats seen on the streets of New Orleans during the wind-down toward Lent. Connick's krewe struts its stuff on Lundi Gras, the day before Fat Tuesday. Additionally, Tritt will perform on the krewe's special Orpheuscapade stage for the midnight ball following the parade.
RARE BILLY THE KID PHOTO TO BE SOLD
One of the few known photographs of badman Billy the Kid will go on the auction block in two weeks. The photo, an aging 1873 "tintype," will be offered for sale by Odyssey Auctions on March 11. The picture has been handed down through a series of generations and families. It was in private hands and not known to collectors until just a few years ago. The photo is expected to bring in excess of $50,000. The Kid, whose real name was William H. Bonney, was only 14 when the photo was taken. He signed it and gave it to his girlfriend at the time. She was 12. Bonney was killed in his early '20s, although his age at the time still is in dispute. Although the photo is in black and white, Bonney's cheeks were slightly rouged, a process often used at the time to put some life in primitive photographs. Before going to auction, the image was authenticated both by Bonney experts and photographic experts as to the subject and age of the picture. For more on the auction, check out autographs.com in cyberspace. The photo is one of only five known photos of the outlaw.
STARS AND CYCLISTS ATTEND PAYCHECK RITES
A number of country music and rock stars attended this week's funeral for Johnny Paycheck at Nashville's Woodlawn Cemetery. According to CMT, the service was packed. Among those paying tribute to the entertainer were well-known fellow members of the Grand Ole Opry and other entertainers: George Jones, Trace Adkins, Little Jimmy Dickens, John Conlee, Billy Walker, Jeannie Seely, Billy Ray Reynolds and Harold Bradley. In addition, several members of area Hells Angels groups were there. One of the more poignant moments in the service came when Paycheck's famous recitation "Old Violin" was played. The crowd rose in a standing ovation when it was finished. Paycheck died last week of complications from emphysema and asthma. He was buried with his black cowboy hat on his chest.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 533
In light of the O'Reilly story, today's question is: "Is the gap between kids and their music and the older generation widening? Or has it always been that way, vis-a-vis the difference between generations?" Put GAP in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 528 (INSPECTION)
Last week we asked what would happen if the arms inspectors were inspecting America -- would they find anything? From our usual random dip into the e-mail inbox, here is what you said:
-- Everyone responding noted they thought that weapons inspections were a joke. If it happened in this country no one would find anything because we would be able to hide stuff, so why expect to find anything in Iraq? TOMORROW: Your memories of "SNL." GBA