Plane view

Superb owl kickoff quote for the week—“I’d love to become a misogynist, but if that means you gotta hang out with asshole men all the time, forget it!”

Last week was a tough one for the Jefferson Airplane. Not only did founding guitarist/vocalist Paul Kantner check out of the Earth Hilton, but the Airplane’s original “chick” singer, Signe Anderson, departed as well. And on the exact same day, 1-28-16! That’s just one of those freaky cosmic coincidences, along the lines of the all-time greatest combo swan dive ever, when President 2 John Adams and Prez 3 Tom Jefferson both expired on the same day in 1820—and that day was July the freakin’ Fourth! As many 19th century reporters said back then—Kuh-RAZY!

Signe was the female voice on the very first Airplane album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, which featured some nifty tunes like “It’s No Secret,” “Come Up The Years,” and the Airplane’s version of deluxe hippie anthem “Let’s Get Together.” In the summer of ’66, Signe married a Prankster, got pregnant, and decided it was a good time to split the JA and be a momma. Her last gig was on October 15, ’66, and she told the folks at the Fillmore that night, in words that perfectly capture the times, “I want you all to wear smiles and daisies and to box balloons. I love you all. Thank you and goodbye.”

The band was ready with Signe’s replacement, and on the next night, introduced a sassy, spunky, smartass knockout named Grace to the Fillmore crowd. The Great Gracie brought two songs to her new group, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” and the band kicked into kaleidoscopic hyperdrive for about four years before they ran out of gas, only to morph into the Starship of the early ’70s.

Like Kantner, Signe was 74 when Mr. Reaper came a-callin’, a victim of complications from COPD.

One of my favorite Kantner moments can be seen on YouTube, when the Airplane played on American Bandstand in ’67. After doing one of their Gracie hits, AB host Dick Clark wandered over to interview various band members, and he said to Paul, “Older people worry. They see the way you’re dressed, they hear your music, they don’t understand it. Do parents have anything to worry about?” Kantner did not flinch. “I think so. Their children are doing things they didn’t do and they don’t understand.” Perf! A line delivered with that sly “I’m on the bus and you’re obviously not” sorta smirk.

The other day, I bumped my elbow. No big deal. Or so I thought. Now, it’s all swole up with a bulging blister sack of fluid. Jesus. And it reminded me of something my dad would say in his waning years. “Growing old is for the birds, kid.” He’d let that sink in for a sec, then follow up with, “Hey, make me another drink, wouldja?”