…Annie Greensprings?

_MG_8668A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a brand of wine known as Annie Greensprings. For those of you who are too young to know much about it, let me fill you in: it was about the cheapest wine you could purchase. Other popular cheap brands back then included Boone’s Farm. Some might refer to such cheap brands generically as “Two Buck Chuck”. Then there was “Wine in a Box”, where you would get a gallon of wine that was held inside a collapsible bladder of some kind that had been stuffed into a square box and filled with wine. Oh, sure, there have always been expensive wines, too. But it sure seems that it is the cheap wines that become the butt of jokes. I vaguely remember the time that my dad, mom, uncle and aunt bought a bottle of wine because they’d never tasted wine before (we come from a tee-totaling family historically) and they bought some really cheap brand (I think it was actually Annie Greensprings!) and I remember how bad they said it tasted. I was just a kid…maybe that’s why I never became a wine connoisseur.

My bride and I lived for about 10 years in the California wine country, surrounded by vineyards owned by well-know vintners: Inglenook, Kendall-Jackson, Gallo, Sebastiani, Dominican Brothers, Wente Brothers and many, many more famous makers of wine. So, to put it mildly, cheap wine was not looked upon with favor. And that’s probably as it should be.

Recently, while exploring a few miles north of us in this part of Georgia, we ventured into a wine tasting center/shop and while my wife was looking at all the knick-knacks, I busied myself taking photographs of the Georgia wine bottles and their labels. There were some that just reminded me of Boone’s Farm or Annie Greensprings because of their color. Now, I don’t know – these may be great wines, but I rather doubt it. After all, when is the last time you were in a fine restaurant and saw “Bulldog Red” on the wine list?

(Oh, by the way, doesn’t the little decorative pile of “grapes” under the bottle look like it has snail antennae?) Just sayin’….

‘Nuff said? Probably.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: at approximately 8:12 p.m. Eastern time, Sunday, February 9, 1964, The Ed Sullivan Show returned from a commercial (for Anacin pain reliever), and there was Ed Sullivan standing before a restless crowd. He tried to begin his next introduction, but then stopped and extended his arms in the universal sign for “Settle Down.” “Quiet!” he said with mock gravity, and the noise died down just a little. Then he resumed: “Here’s a very amusing magician we saw in Europe and signed last summer….Let’s have a nice hand for him—Fred Kaps!”

For the record, Fred Kaps proceeded to be quite charming and funny over the next five minutes. In fact, Fred Kaps is revered to this day by magicians around the world as the only three-time Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques Grand Prix winner. But Fred Kaps had the horrific bad luck on this day in 1964 to be the guest that followed the Beatles on Ed Sullivan—possibly the hardest act to follow in the history of show business.

It is estimated that 73 million Americans were watching that night as the Beatles made their live U.S. television debut. Roughly eight minutes before Fred Kaps took the stage, Sullivan gave his now-famous intro, “Ladies and gentlemen…the Beatles!” and after a few seconds of rapturous cheering from the audience, the band kicked into “All My Lovin’.” Fifty seconds in, the first audience-reaction shot of the performance shows a teenage girl beaming and possibly hyperventilating. Two minutes later, Paul is singing another pretty, mid-tempo number: “Til There Was You,” from the Broadway musical Music Man. There’s screaming at the end of every phrase in the lyrics, of course, but to view the broadcast today, it seems driven more by anticipation than by the relatively low-key performance itself. And then came “She Loves You,” and the place seems to explode. What followed was perhaps the most important two minutes and 16 seconds of music ever broadcast on American television—a sequence that still sends chills down the spine almost half a century later.

The Beatles would return later in the show to perform “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” as the audience remained at the same fever pitch it had reached during “She Loves You.” This time it was Wells & the Four Fays, a troupe of comic acrobats, who had to suffer what Fred Kaps had after the Beatles’ first set. Perhaps the only non-Beatle on Sullivan’s stage that night who did not consider the evening a total loss was the young man from the Broadway cast of Oliver! who sang “I’d Do Anything” as the Artful Dodger midway through the show. His name was Davy Jones, and less than three years later, he’d star in a TV show of his own that owed a rather significant debt to the hysteria that began on this night in 1964: The Monkees.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Because McDonald’s initially did not want its customers to stay and socialize, they prohibited newspaper boxes, candy machines, telephones, pinball machines, jukeboxes, and other types of entertainment. They also installed uncomfortable chairs to deter customers from lingering.

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