Saturday, April 30, 2011

The China Daily is bullish on Big In China

"Big in China vividly conveys the open-ended, chaotic, wonder and possibility of being a foreigner in today's China. Alan Paul's evolution from expat-village 'trailing spouse' to star of the Chinese music scene stands for countless similar developments underway in China now. I hope many people read this book -- and at least consider a similar adventure themselves."
—James Fallows, author,Postcards from Tomorrow Square

Anyone who has lived in China will know why I am so tickled about this nice article in China Daily. James Fallows often calls it his favorite paper, tongue firmly planted in cheek. But if you've read it regularly and/or followed China, you'll understand why he would say this and why I would be happy about this.

Better, yet, they did a nice job with the article and I am honestly quite pleased about it. Spread the word.

Professor Rodger Citron is The Ripper.

That is all. Touro Law.

Friday, April 29, 2011 review of Big in China

Dean Budnick wrote a really nice review of Big in China in Relix, which is posted here on their

I like this review a lot and think he did a really nice job of striking a balance between the music and other themes in the book.

Duane Allman's long-lost 57 Les Paul found - and Duane live!

Gregg Allman on Big in China,: "What a romp. After writing about music for years, Alan Paul walked the walk, preaching the blues in China. Anyone who doubts that music is bigger than words needs to read this great tale.”

Anyone who has read Big in China, or followed my career at all, knows that the music of the Allman Brothers Band has played a huge role in my life. I can still get truly inspired and fired up listening to them - and seeing video of the Duane-era band is a true and special treat. Because even in this era of everything ever made being immediately available, it has been rare to find and see the original group in action. Which makes this remarkable 9/23/70 clip from the Fillmore East all the more remarkable.

Duane is often referred to as the "greatest slide guitarist" in rock history and that's true enough, but it actually underrates him because it overlooks or ignores his tremendous "straight" playing - just check out his solo here. And then note how after another verse, Dickey Betts takes the same chords and solos in a completely different but no less gripping direction.Five months later, they would record the masterful At Fillmore East, usually considered the best live album of all time, on the same stage.
I got tipped off to this video via a post by the ever-illuminating Bob Lefsetz, which also highlights several other stellar videos from the excellent if enigmatic Wolfgang's Vault site. I'm really not sure how Wolfgang's Vault is doing this, or what the legality of it is or should be, but they have a remarkable trove of music and videos. Thanks Bob.

Meanwhile, I'm not quite sure how someone who has been dead for 40 years keeps making news, but we have long been experts at this sort of thing at Guitar World. Something i consider truly cool and newsworthy: Duane's beloved 1957 Les paul goldtop has resurfaced in some amazing ways. I wrote about it for GW. Here's the story.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

China Misunderstood: Did We Contribute to Ai Weiwei’s Arrest?

"China Misunderstood: Did We Contribute to Ai Weiwei’s Arrest?" is a really interesting take on the Ai WeiWei arrest and, more broadly, about Western press coverage of Chinese crackdown of dissidents. It was written by my old friend and former WSJ reporter Ian Johnson.

If you read through the comments below the article, you will see that it has kicked up some controversy and while i understand some of the critical views of Ian's perspective, I find them ultimately wrong and even naive in the name of being tough. Agree or not, this article is worth your time. The top sums up the situation concisely and the bottom offers a fresh perspective.

Tiger Mom, Panda Dad

For better or worse, here's more proof that "Panda Dad" has entered the lexicon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From the Archives: Sean Elliott

I was listening to the Spurs/Griz Game on Satellite radio in my car the other day. It was the Spurs home broadcast and I was struck by how insightful and honest an analyst Sean Elliott was. That made me think back to this interview I did with him several years ago, conducted from china, as he was in a car on the way to the team plane. He was smart and insightful and I somehow ended up talking quite a bit about coaching. Maybe because he was being unusually honest about player/coach dynamics and relationships... And I mean unusual not in terms of him, but in terms of athletes in general.

I was very pleased to see this interview was one of the Old School classics reposted on Slam Online. So now, in honor of the Spurs' impending NBA Playoffs implosion at the hands of the feisty Memphis Grizzlies, I present to you....

Original Old School: The Comeback Kid

Sean Elliott made history. Come read about it.

Sean Elliott means a lot of things to a lot of different people. To Alonzo Mourning, a man who suffered from a similar kidney ailment, Elliot served as an inspiration, providing hope of return where none existed before. To the Portland Trail Blazers, victims of his “Memorial Day Miracle,” Sean was a ball player, and a clutch one at that. To fans of the Spurs, Elliot was the starting small forward on a championship team. Now retired and working in the broadcast booth, Sean is the voice of the Spurs, and still stands as a testament to modern medicine and resiliency. He is still a miracle at work.—Tzvi Twersky

by Alan Paul

Sean Elliott will always be remembered as the first professional athlete to return to action following an organ transplant. On the one hand, that’s how it should be; few of us will ever comprehend the effort it took to return to the Spurs in 2000, less than a year after his older brother Noel donated a kidney that saved Elliott’s life. On the other hand, it overshadows the fact that, for more than a decade, Elliott was a very good NBA player. The starting small forward for the Spurs’ 1999 championship team, he averaged 14.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 2.6 apg in 12 seasons, 11 of them spent in San Antonio.

“Sean was a handful for anyone to guard,” recalls Kenny Smith. “A 6-8 guy who could put the ball on the floor, shoot, drive, pass. He could do it all.”

Click over to Slam Online to read the whole interview.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Feeling "Lonesome" - Woodie Alan Blues

Like the song says, I hit the city and I lost my band. I know that some of you don't understand.

I moved back from China two years ago but sometimes I miss my brother Woodie Wu in the most profound ways. I'd give anything to be able to pop over and have a quick jam with Mr Wu Mengke right now.

As discussed in Big in China, Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," became our band's signature way of saying good bye to departing friends - and they departed all the time in such a transitory community. We worked the song up with a totally new arrangement and in a way that often made it feel like our most original song - even more so than the 10 or so songs we wrote together.

Once we decided to leave and I was playing my last frenzied runs of shows, the song took on a much heavier meaning for me; I was saying good bye to everything i loved about my life in Beijing, very much including my wonderful band. Below is a nice video of us performing "You're Gonna Make Me LOnesome when YOu Go," though it is far from our finest effort. I think it may have been the very first time we played it with this arrangement. It is the great hutong bar, Jianghuy Jiuba.

Easter Bunny Fails

Happy Easter to one and all who celebrate the holiday. This list of 15 Creepy Easter Bunnies shines a bit of a light on why that mythical creature has always puzzled me so.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Panda Dad on CTV

Here's the clip of Panda Dad on CTV, interviewed by Sandie Rinaldo. I could have been higher energy. The remote feed took some getting used to. I brought Jacob with me into the city and he was sitting right off camera there in the ABC News studio, which I think was a cool experience for him. I was happy to have him there.

Panda Dad on WGN, Chicago Radio

Panda Dad will be appearing on Chicago's mighty WGN Radio Saturday April 23. 10:15 am Chicago time... I do believe you can listen live here:

Happy Earth Day

The great blues pianist Memphis slim and his great song "Mother Earth." Some of you may know via Gov't Mule's thunderous take.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Marvin Miller and NFL Labor issues

This is a great interview with Marvin Miller, the former head of the baseball player's union and one of the most important and influential people in the the last 50 years of sports. I agree with him wholeheartedly about the NFL Labor situation.

Money quote:

I don't think the public understands what's going on. I don't think the media, by and large, does, either. For example, from President Obama down, we get these clich├ęs. "Oh, it's billionaires arguing with millionaires." Those are not the issues. What are the issues? No one is explaining it to the public. Not so long ago, the National Football League didn't know where its next dollar was coming from. It's now a money powerhouse like we've never seen. A $9 billion-a-year industry, and the top is nowhere to be seen yet. Its revenue is well in excess of baseball or hockey or basketball. They're sitting on top of the world..... And then, despite the $9 billion a year that comes in -- and every indication that there's more coming up -- they come and say we're going to have your salaries cut and we want to increase the amount of work you do, increase the season. In addition to being a bunch of hogs, it means that all the lip service about worrying about the disabilities is hogwash.

I also disagree with him about the Salary Cap. He may be right about it from a union perspective, but it seems clear to me that caps have helped keep the leagues healthy, especially the NFL, which results in more prosperity for all. But what do I know? I hate baseball's uneven distribution of resources and the titled playing field that results, and I hear people complain about it all the time, but it doesn't seem to have hurt the overall revenue flow or popularity of the sport. Red sox fans loved to complain about the Yankees and all their riches, but they sure embraced it quickly when they became Yankees North.

Jacob and Shaq

Jacob came on my rounds through the city the other day. Really enjoyed visiting Slam and checking out Shaq's shoe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:The slamdome NYC

Panda Dad at FAO Schwartz

Finally took kids to fao Schwartz. Feeling guilty, I questioned aloud if I was a bad parent and Jacob said, "No. You're the panda dad!"Thank you oh wise and gentle son.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My "writerhead" - interview and Big in China giveaway

An interview with me on Kristin Bair O'Keeffe's new Writerhead blog - all about the creative process and how I write. Plus - if you've been too cheap to buy Big In China, we are giving away two copies there.

Live on CTV this afternoon

Just confirmed - I will be on CTV with host Sandie Rinaldo at 315 pm today April 19. Canadian friends, please tune in. Panda Dad rides again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SLAM ONLINE | » Original Old School: The Man Next To The Man

I always love it when Slam pulls some of my articles out of the archives and posts online. This one is no exception. I caught up with Scottie Pippen in Shanghai - you never knew who you might find over there.

Here is the intro to the piece: /

Original Old School: The Man Next To The Man The Bulls wouldn’t have won six titles without Scottie Pippen doing the dirty work.

If the word “sidekick” was in an NBA Dictionary, an image of Scottie Pippen would probably be directly beneath it. The 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee epitomized the role during his career as a Chicago Bull. Though Michael Jordan was the unquestioned leader of the Bulls during the 90s, Pippen was indispensable in his own right. The Bulls’ franchise recently honored the seven-time NBA All-Star with a sculpture in his image, which now resides inside of the United Center. Alan Paul caught up with Pip for this feature back in SLAM 113, but you can enjoy it here today. —Ed.

And here is the piece:

SLAM ONLINE | » Original Old School: The Man Next To The Man

A nice Panda Dad article.

The Toronto Star weighs in with a nice Panda Dad article. The headline is a little much: "Parenting Smackdown: Panda Father vs. Tiger Mom" but it's a good article.

Mist over the Great Wall

It felt like time to repost this timeless-feeling video. Original music by Woodie Alan - "Lonesome." this is a rough rehearsal take of the first time we worked out this intro arrangement for Bob Dylan's "you're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

From the Archives: Bob McAdoo

In honor of the impending NBA Playoffs, I present you with one of my favorite Slam Old School stories... an interview with the mighty Bob McAdoo, now in his 16th year on the Heat bench. meaning this story originally ran in 1998, in Slam #24. I remember researching Mac's numbers in the Ann Arbor PUblic Library. You can read this article on Slam Online here. 

"Bob McAdoo was unstoppable."

Jack Ramsay is reminiscing about the lanky 6-10, 210-pound center/forward he coached for four years with the Buffalo Braves. In several decades as a coach and TV analyst, Ramsay's watched thousands of players. None were quite like McAdoo.

"He was impossible to guard," says the ex-coach, now a commentator for ESPN and the Miami Heat. "He'd blow by a center or big forward, and if they put a little guy on him, he'd take him down low and post up all night. He was a scoring machine. That's a term you hear thrown around, but Bob was the real deal. He could score at will, from anywhere on the floor; he could drive, he could pass, he had great instincts, and he had three-point range."

From '73-'76, McAdoo led the league in scoring three years in a row, one of only four centers ever to do so, dropping in 30.6, 34.5 and 31.1 ppg. He was the league MVP in '75, when he tallied 34.5 ppg and 14.1 rpg, while shooting 51 percent from the field. For the first seven years of his career, McAdoo averaged 27.2 points and 12.2 rebounds a game. He was also a great shot blocker, and one of the quickest, most agile big men to ever play the game.

"He could run unbelievably well," Ramsay says. "He would often chase down point guards and pop the ball out from behind, then he'd be on his way to the other end to finish."

Despite such skills and numbers, McAdoo was left off the NBA's 50 greatest List, and he's still waiting for the Hall of Fame to call. Apparently, his achievements have been tarnished by the fact that he played for seven teams, bouncing from one bad situation to another in the turbulent NBA of the 70’s. In '81, he landed with the Lakers, playing an important role on two championship teams ('82 and '85), settling into a role providing instant offense off the bench and helping key a devastating 1-3-1 halfcourt trap. He finished his career by playing in Italy from 1986-'92. He is currently n his third year as a Miami Heat assistant.

"Mac not only deserves to be in the top 50, he's probably in the top 10 or 15 players of all time," says Ramsay. "It's unfortunate that he didn't get into a great team situation until towards the end of his career, but that doesn't change what he could do. With the Braves, we didn't have a championship-caliber team, but Bob always played his best in big games, and because of him we stretched the Bullets and Celtics to some very tough series on their way to championships. He had tremendous games in the playoffs, and he never wanted to come out of any game. As far as McAdoo the player, the competitor and the person, you're talking about the top level all the way around."

SLAM: Many people think that you changed the way the center position was viewed. You didn't like to play with your back to the basket...
BOB McADOO: Wrong! It's just that I was able to roam. I wasn’t stuck in one spot. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, a center was usually stuck in the middle, but I liked to move. I was using what I had. I knew I had to beat people with quickness, and by beatin’ them down the court, and it worked. In Buffalo, we led the league in team scoring a couple of years because we were fast at every position, from the point guard to the center. That’s where our advantage was.
SLAM: What do you think was your greatest strength as a player?
McADOO: I would have to say my will. I was just relentless. I never stopped running, never stopped putting pressure on people. They had to guard me all over the court.
SLAM: I recently interviewed Elvin Hayes, and he said that during your four years in Buffalo you could score at will as well as anyone he’s ever seen. During that period, did you feel like every time you touched the ball you’d score?
McADOO: Yeah, I really did have that feeling. I just felt every time I got it that it was gonna be good, and I always wanted it when it mattered. As much as I scored, I took good shots, and it showed in my shooting percentage. I think probably my proudest moment was the year that I won the scoring championship and led the league in field goal percentage. [In '73-'74, McAdoo scored 30.6 ppg while shooting 55 percent from the field.] And they were not all dunks (laughs). It was a combination of long- and medium-range jumpers, dunks, lay ins...a little bit of everything.
SLAM: People think of you as a scorer, but you also rebounded really well.
McADOO: That's right. Nobody ever talks about the 15 rebounds a game, or the blocked shots. The scoring is just overpowering, so nobody ever saw anything else.
SLAM: Do you think that was your scoring was so good that, in a weird way, your statistics worked against you?
McADOO: I think that may be the case. I was a center and I had the stats of a center. Like I said, nobody ever considered the 15, 14, 13 rebounds a game, the blocked shots that came with the points. I was and am known as a scorer, but that's simply not all I did. And I was no gunner; look at my shooting percentages.
SLAM: Some of those misperceptions obviously came into play to keep you off the 50 greatest list last year. That must have hurt a lot.
McADOO: To me it was just disgraceful. Because, if you look back, if you research it, you see that there have only been 19 MVPs—Karl Malone was the 20th—and you’re the only one left off of it...Well, how would you feel? And when you see that there’s only been seven or eight repeat scoring champions and you’re one of ’em, and you were the only one left off the list, you know that something’s wrong.
SLAM: You did have some pretty good company in being left off, including Alex English and Bernard King.
McADOO: Right. And they both deserve to be on that list. But still, we're talking about an MVP. Remember: there’s been thousands of players in this league for 50 years, and there’s only been 20 MVPs, 19 at the time they made that list. If you’re gonna put together a list of the 50 greatest, that’s where you start from, right there. You pull out your MVP list, and put down your first 19 players. Then you branch out and pick the other 31.
SLAM: You’ve got a good point there. Did you see Slam's 50 greatest list?
McADOO: Yeah, that was great. Thank you. I had some people send me some copies. I even bought a couple for my family.
SLAM: Do you think that your reputation was hurt by the fact that you played for so many teams?
McADOO: I don’t know. Probably, but that was the nature of the league then. If you put me in 1997 time, I’d have never left a team because they hold on to their stars today. But, at that time, many players moved around. I mean, Kareem played on a couple a teams, and Wilt Chamberlain moved around. Those guys would’ve never left their original teams if they played today. They'd be like Patrick Ewing or Michael Jordan, but that was just the nature of the game then.
SLAM: Things seemed to happen in funky ways. The story about how you ended up being traded from the Knicks to the Celtics is truly bizarre, how Phyllis George watched you when the teams were playing and said to her husband, who owned the Celtics, "We need a player like that." So he made the trade right then and there, without consulting his gm, Red Auerbach--or so the legend goes.
McADOO: Yeah, that's right. John Y. Brown’s wife wanted me up there. I had just left him in Buffalo because he didn’t want to pay me, and then he comes back and gets me again because I'm his wife's favorite player. [Prior to buying the Celtics, Brown had owned the Braves, who were then sold and moved to San Diego, becoming th Clippers.—Ed. ] She wanted me on the team and they made a deal at the deadline, trading three first-round draft picks for me. He did that without telling Red Auerbach and Red was furious. He didn't want me. I went up there under terrible circumstances. His attitude was, "I’ll show him. He don’t run the show around here." So he had me coming of the bench. Here I was, a 34-point-per game player coming off the bench for a zero team. I was in the running to win my fourth scoring championship at that time, then I got sent up there into that situation, and, you know, it was done after that.
SLAM: Things were even pretty funky with the Knicks, although they weren't that far removed from a championship. Sonny Werblin took over and started undermining [coach] Willis Reed to force him out, because it was too hard to fire him, as a legendary player.
McADOO: Yeah, it was a zoo there. I had three coaches in two years.
SLAM: The rap on those New York teams was they just gathered up a bunch of big names, like you and Spencer Haywood and Earl Monroe without thinking if and how you could all play together, without considering chemistry.
McADOO:  Yeah, they just put a bunch of stars together and hoped it would mesh. And it could have if they’d waited; they didn’t give anything a chance to happen. You look at the current New York team, they’ve kept guys together for eight, nine years—and they’ve won nothing. The mentality’s just changed now. That team would have been broken up in two years, if it was the 70’s. They just didn’t give it a chance to develop. I really think we could have done something, given a little more time to gel. We had a starting frontline of me, Spencer—who was still in his prime—and Lonnie Shelton. Well, all three of us got an NBA Championship ring after we left, so that says that something was wrong with the management. Shelton got his in Seattle, Spencer and I got ours in L.A. So you had the horses there but it just never had a chance to bloom.
SLAM: When you played in Buffalo, it seems like the team was just about to bloom there, too, when they started dumping players. Is it frustrating that you never had a chance to take that team to the next level?
McADOO: Yeah, absolutely, ‘cause I felt if they kept us all together we could have done something. Myself, Moses Malone and Adrian Dantley were there together for, like two weeks—pre-season!—and then they split the team up. I mean, we had some great playoff series against the Celtics and we took the bullets to seven the year they wont he championship, and that was without a ton of talent.
SLAM:  After the Celtics, you went to the Pistons in '79. How did you enjoy your time there?
McADOO: Hated it. It just wasn’t a good situation for me. They had me on a team with seven rookies. You can’t win in the NBA with no seven rookies. That was one of the most mismanaged teams in the league. My two-year-old daughter probably could have put a team together better. That was a wasted two years of my life. The only thing I got out of that was a check. It was a waste other than that.
SLAM: You were well known for practicing hard; is it hard to maintain that intensity when you’re going through something like that?
McADOO: Absolutely. You lose all your joy for the game when you’re in that kind of situation. You try to be professional and hang in there, but it’s impossible. I mean, they’d throw the ball up, and you knew you didn’t have a chance to win. You’re looking around at your team, and you just know that you don’t have a chance in hell to win.
SLAM: After a brief time in New Jersey, you got to the Lakers. That must have been like getting a new lease life.
McADOO: Yeah, it was, and it was the right time. I was 30 years old, coming off some injuries and just kinda’ getting burnt out from carrying teams. I became more of a role player and it was something that I welcomed. I mean, I didn’t like coming off the bench, because I shouldn’t have, but that’s the way the program worked there, and I just dealt with it. And it was really satisfying to be part of such great teams.
SLAM: You played the wing of Riley's 1-3-1 trap, which was one of the most effective halfcourt traps ever.
McADOO: Yeah, I loved that. We used to get people in trouble all the time playing that defense. And, you know, we were so devastating offensively. I mean, everyone  out there on the floor could finish. Everyone could pass. Playing on that Laker team was just a glory  Everybody had the same mindset; you wanted to win at everything. It could be horse, marbles, ping pong, whatever, everyone wanted to win. When you’ve got those type of players, you’re gonna’ win. Not just win, you’re going to win championships.
SLAM: One of your former teammates, Matt Goukas, said that the key to your success was that you practiced as hard as you played. Was that something that just came naturally to you?
McADOO: It was just competitiveness coming out. You step on the court you play hard, no matter the situation. And I think you see that in all great players. You hear about it in Jordan and Larry Bird. I know Magic practiced like that because I saw him. It’s just in you. You can’t just decide that you're going to be like that and start doing it. You've got to be doing it from the beginning of time. In high school, you practice hard. In college, you practice hard. That’s the only way you know how to be. Then when you get to the actual game, it's easy.
SLAM: Is that really what separates you guys from other people who might’ve started out with similar skills?
McADOO: Oh yeah, but you've got to have the talent too. You’ve got some people that can practice ‘til they’re blue in the face and nothing’s going to come out of it. But if you've got the talent and you do that, it takes you to another level.
SLAM: You had a rather unorthodox jumper. How did you develop that?
McADOO: I don’t know. People told me it was unorthodox, but it didn’t feel that way to me. I was told it was a strange shot, but I had good rotation, and excellent concentration. That’s what matters in shooting.
SLAM: When you played, a lot of people had unorthodox and very effective shots, like Alex English, Jamaal Wilkes, and, of course, Kareem, with his skyhook. Why do you think there is less of that?
McADOO: First of all, because of the way the NBA is marketed now, it's all boiled down to guys making spectacular dunks, or shooting the three. That’s what makes the video, so that's what guys like to do and the medium-range shot has gone by the wayside. That used be a lot of guys' bread and butter. And big guys being able to handle the ball is also kind of going by the wayside. Everything is getting too specialized right now in my opinion. I don't see enough all-around players. I think you have more athletic guys now, but the skill level is not there to the same degree as it used to be.
            It's also because of the way the NBA has grown. There's a lot more teams now, and let's face it, the league is watered down. You're seeing teams winning championships with two or three players, and you didn’t see that in the 70s or 80’s. The Lakers teams I was on went eight or nine deep, and so did our opponents from the East, the Sixers and Celtics. Now, because of expansion, you’ve got a lot more people playing in the NBA. The bottom line is, back in the day there were a lot less jobs out there, so it was much more competitive. The talent was more compressed then, so people came up with stuff because they had to to survive, and keep making a living. You got a lot of guys playing today that wouldn’t have even been making a dime off of basketball.
SLAM: Do you see any guys who remind you of you?
McADOO: Not really. Hakeem is probably the only one. And he’s the type of guy who can play power forward or center. Just like me. I switched back and forth.
SLAM: Which did you enjoy playing more?
McADOO: It really didn’t matter because once I went through the league one time, people started experimenting with putting different guys on me. The Milwaukee Bucks, are a good example. I was playing center but they stopped putting Kareem on me because I would take him outside and shoot jumpers or drive around him. They would put their power forward on me one time then next time they’d have their small forward on me, who I think was Bobby Dandridge. I’d have a 3, 4 or 5 on me depending on how their coach wanted to match up on that particular night. And I would just switch my game depending on who was on me.
SLAM: You weighed about 210, so when you were playing the pivot on defense, you were often giving up 50-60 pounds. What did you do to compensate for that?
McADOO: Use my quickness. Just try to wear on them and wear them out. Wear on ’em until the fourth quarter, when their power couldn’t do anything because they'd be too tired.
SLAM: Who were your toughest opponents to guard?
McADOO: Kareem and Bob Lanier. Bob was big, bulky and quick. Once he got you on his hip, he’d throw up that hook shot and you'd be helpless. He also had nice ball fakes, and a face-up jumper that was almost impossible to stop.
            And you know the story with Kareem. He scored more points than any player in history. He got that 7-foot-2 arm up in the air. I mean, when they say skyhook, they mean skyhook. You were looking up at it. Up at the rafters, at that arm up there flicking that hook over your head. There was nothing anybody could do once he got up there.
SLAM: It’s kind of remarkable that more centers haven’t even tried to master that.
McADOO: No guys of his size have that kind of skill. That's a hard shot to master, and, like I said, you don’t see the same skills with a basketball. You see higher leapers and faster runners, but you don’t see the skills with the ball.
SLAM: Who were some of your favorite players to watch?
McADOO: I liked guys that appeared to be unstoppable. I used to marvel at Tiny Archibald. He was just incredible. He could weave his way through a press, he could get a shot off over big guys...he was impossible to stop.  Another guard guarding him? Forget it. Then there's Earl Monroe. He was so tricky with the ball. He only jumped a couple inches off the floor, but nobody ever blocked his shot. He’d just jerk ’em around with the ball, and he always got where he wanted to go on the floor. Another guy I loved to watch was Pete Maravich. At 6-5, he was one of the first bigger guards that you saw and he had all sort of tricks for you. He was amazing with the ball. Now, see, I just named you three guards, and those are the guys I watched all the time. Centers didn't excite me because they just didn’t have the same skills as guards, who could get where they wanted to go on the court, make moves, get their shots off anywhere. As a kid I kind of emulated them, and that’s probably why I learned how to dribble so well.
SLAM: What forwards impressed you?
McADOO: Rick Barry. He’d run you all game long. He’d shoot the long jumper. He was a great passer.
SLAM: I’ll throw out a couple names and you just tell me what comes to mind. Wes Unseld?
McADOO: Wes was a different type of player. He didn’t really strike fear in you, but you knew he was going to rebound. We had to work hard to keep him off the offensive boards. When we played the Bullets, we always had to watch out for Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge. They were tough. The three of them made a hell of a frontline. Incredible, really. When I was at Buffalo, we had some good playoff battles with them. Even when they got past us, we used to see them beat the 76ers with Julius Erving and George McGinnis. I mean those three guys were just tough.
SLAM: What do you remember about playing against Elvin?
McADOO: We had some very tough battles. Very tough. Elvin could really play. And he was also a center who used his quickness and moved around. He was just very  physical. You knew he was gonna’ get up and down the court and shoot that turnaround jumper—which you knew he was gonna’ shoot but you just couldn’t stop anyhow, because he’d just jump over you and throw it up. He could sky.
SLAM: As could you. Weren’t you a state high jump champion in high school?
McADOO: Yeah. In fact, I beat Bobby Jones. So, of course, I could get over people. In fact, Jack Ramsay designed plays where I would either be at the top of the key or on the wings, where I could isolate people, and take them one on one or just sky up and shoot it.
SLAM: What about Dr. J?
McADOO: Julius was tough, and he brought the acrobatics to the game, but you didn’t have the same fear playing him as when you played the Bullets. At least I didn't. There was just something against playing against those three—Elvin, Wes and Dandridge. They were going to beat you up physically, and they were going to go over the top and shoot on you. The Sixers weren't as intimidating, but still you knew you were gonna have hell on your hands with Julius and George McGinnis, who was really physical, and very agile, at 6-8. Him and Julius coming at you with their big hands could really control the ball. When that Philadelphia team put it together they were just tough.  But they really got tough later, when I was with the Lakers and they got Moses [Malone]. Now you're talking about a complete team. They had Mo Cheeks, who was gonna run the offense, Andrew Toney, Bobby Jones, who was going to play great defense and run, plus Julius. They just had a great, great team.
SLAM: What was playing against Moses like at that point?
McADOO: Hell. Even though he was Kareem’s responsibility, we always had to always help out, because we knew Moses was going to throw it up on the boards, and go get it. He’s gonna get his 20 rebounds. He was just a force on the boards. And in a different way than Dennis Rodman is. I mean, Dennis Rodman gets an offensive rebound, you don’t worry about it. Moses gets a rebound, he’s going to put it back in. Bet on it.
SLAM: What do you remember about Dan Issel?
McADOO: Oh he was tough. There's another guy who should have been on that Top 50 list. He could play and put up some points. He was a tough customer, but not the same thing as Lanier or Kareem.
SLAM: Who was the dirtiest player you ever played against?
McADOO: I think the whole Celtics teams were the dirtiest. They could get away with anything. The teams of Havlicek, Cowens, JoJo White and Charlie Scott used to get away with murder.
SLAM: How was playing with Magic?
McADOO: Great. You’re talking about somebody who’s going to get the ball to you at the right time every time and you know it. Here he is playing guard at 6-8. He could just look right over the defense; a guard putting a hand up didn’t bother him one iota. Me and Jamaal and James used to cut off of Kareem and the ball would be right there on your hands. Or if you’re on a fastbreak, on a wing, he’ll give it to you in perfect position. If you’re posted up, he would break a play, because he would see the mismatch and bring the ball to you. It was just  a pleasure to know that if you’re open, you’re going to get the ball right there, on the button.
SLAM: James Worthy joined the Lakers your second year with the team. How did you like playing with him?
McADOO: A pleasure, man. James became a force immediately because he could run and he was very competitive. He would come in on the fastbreak, swooping like an eagle with those big hands, and make the play. He could finish—and so could everyone else on that team. We just had every position covered in L.A., a bunch of guys who could finish or make their own play. That’s what made us so tough.
SLAM: James Worthy, like yourself, came from the University of North Carolina. How was playing for Dean Smith?
McADOO: That was great. It was some of the hardest work I ever did as a basketball player, but it got us all ready for the next level. Without a doubt, playing for Dean helped prepare you for the NBA. He taught you how to evolve when you’re young, and he just helped finish and polish the product. And he was a fair man. He was absolutely great to play for. I still talk to him. He stays in contact with me and my family, my boys get scholarships to his basketball camp, he remembers birthdays and stuff like that. The guy’s just great.
SLAM: You played in Italy from 1986-92. Why did you decide to do that, rather than staying here and playing in the NBA, which you definitely could have done?
McADOO: I was tired of fighting and battling for a contract year after tear after having a good season. It’s a different league now, with people keeping guys like Robert Parish and Eddie Johnson around. At the time, people were like "Well, he’s getting old. He's 32, 33, almost over the hill.’ That wasn’t so. It’s just the way people thought at that time. And I got tired of negotiating, battling all the time. I said, ‘hey, I had a good year in Philly. I got traded the year we won the championship and was the top reserve in L.A. I got tired of fightin’ it year after year, so I went over to Italy and had a great time. I figured I'd check it out, and I loved it. We won everything over there. The European championship, the Italian championship. We were the first team to play in the McDonald’s Open. It was great. I played four years in Milan, and just tremendously enjoyed the whole Italian experience, to be honest.
SLAM: Do you think that those years over there hurt your overall reputation here?
McADOO: I don’t know. What I did in the NBA had happened in the NBAI even came back for the McDonald’s Open and played well in Milwaukee one year, with games of 45 and 39, so people still knew I was out there and could still play. Why it happened that way, I don’t know.

Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor tonight at 7 pm

I am returning to another one of my ancestral homelands today - Ann Arbor. I am meeting with writing students at U-M's Residential College this afternoon, paying a visit to the mIchigan Daily where I met Becky and we both launched our careers and then reading at Nicola's a 7 pm. If you are in the area, please come by.

It always feels good to be in Michigan, and I am lucky to have so many places that feel like home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Japan disaster relief, an inside, first hand view

My Pittsburgh childhood friend Douglas Schafer has lived in Osaka, Japan for many years. He has been going into the tsunami zone on some relief missions. His posts about this situation are insightful, quite moving and well worth a read. Click on through.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wikipedia Page

A new Wikipedia page about me has popped up and it is remarkably accurate.

There were a handful of small errors, and I have been correcting them. If anyone notices anything else, let me know.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rebecca and her Women's conference

My wife Rebecca Blumenstein wrote this brief summary of the Women's Conference she organized and ran in Palm Beach last week. I mean, The Wall Street Journal Task Force for Women in the Economy.

I'm very proud.

Dumpling Master

A nice post about dumplings and me. Includes one of my favorite videos... sadly, this was the only video I did to accompany a column from china. Stupid, stupid, stupid. But glad I have this one.

T-Bone Walker, 1910-1975

Gregg Allman on Big in China: "What a romp. After writing about music for years, Alan Paul walked the walk, preaching the blues in China. Anyone who doubts that music is bigger than words need to read this great tale.”
Guitar World had an End Page feature for several years, which was basically a one-page obit with a picture of late, great guitarists' final resting places. I wrote quite a few and will be re-posting some of my favorites. We start with one of the real pioneers of the electric guitar....
T-Bone Walker

Born in 1910 in Linden, Texas, Aaron Thibeaux Walker began playing a variety of stringed instruments at an early age. As a teenager, he led Blind Lemon Jefferson from bar to bar as he played for tips, and received some lessons from the legendary acoustic bluesman. In 1933, he met and played with Charlie Christian and within a few years, both were pioneering the electric guitar, playing single-note, horn-influenced lines. It’s not clear who did so first, but by 1939 Walker and his bold, new toy were tearing up clubs in his new hometown, Los Angeles. Walker’s style was as unusual as his axe; he held his fat-bodied Gibson out in front of him, almost perpendicular. He also was the pioneer for guitar flamboyance, playing behind his back, and while doing splits.

After some down years, Walker mounted a comeback in the late 60s, which led to a 1970 Grammy Award and frequent touring. After years of health and drinking problems, Walker suffered a stroke in 1974. He died in Los Angeles on March 16. 1975, and is buried there, at the Inglewood Park Cemetery.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good to be home

I'm still basking in the glow of a great night in Pittsburgh, not to mention A rocking good time in Carlisle, where I read then jammed with the great Andy Aledort and the mighty Stamper Lumber. I made it home feeling like a zombie last night and fell into a deep, deep sleep. Think hibernating bear in a cave.

It is very, very good to be home with the kids. Becky is away now, out of the country and on the other side of the world, and I'm looking forward to all of us being back together next week.

This has all been fun and exciting but the solo travel and time away from one another take their toll.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Clark St,South Orange,United States

Friday, April 08, 2011

A banner day in Pittsburgh

The Store treated the hometown boy very nicely.

Yesterday was one of those days that I will always remember, one of the moments from this book tour that will stand out and stand the test of the time. Thank you Pittsburgh.

I'll begin at the end - with a jam-packed reading at Barnes and Noble at the Waterfront. This had to be the biggest crowd I have had, with people jammed in, chairs filled, eyes popping up over bookshelves. Thank you everyone who came and the nice management of the store for putting up such a  great display and making me feel so at home.

Big In China is all about my experiences in China. Maplewood, NJ is where I live and a place I love - but in many ways, Pittsburgh will always be my home. And that made the special feeling, the big crowd, the beautiful display very, very meaningful to me.

I began the day speaking to students at my alma mater, Taylor Allderdice HS. They were attentive and involved and the school looks great. I had not set foot inside it in 27 years.

Later, my dad and I rode bikes (about 6 miles each way) to the Pirates home opener. I could barely keep up with him. Dixie remains an inspiration. Beautiful ride, on a trail by the the Monongahela River. Crossed a couple of bridges, which always makes you feel like you are in Pittsburgh and had a great afternoon on a beautiful day in a beautiful stadium - at a terrible game.

"Beijing Blues" with the great Ken Karsh.

Great Turnout from high school friends.

Rode bikes tot he Bucs home opener with my dad, Dixie Doc.

PNC Park just gorgeous.

Visited my lama mater Allderdice for first time since I graduated in 1984. Tour by Mr. and Mrs. Rogie. friends since kindergarten.

Panda Dad keeps rolling.

I've been too busy having too much fun in Pittsburgh to stay on top of Panda Dad, but it's still rolling along, with some nice stories yesterday, including a column in Wealth magazine. Christian Science Monitor weighs in. And here a Mother of Six blogs about the Panda Dad vs. Tiger Mom debate.

CSM's numbers are rather off -- my book is no Tiger Mother, but it's holding its own and has never been as low as she says. But it's a nice piece, and Mother of Six really took my side.

Who knew when I wrote that essay that it would swallow me up for a couple of weeks?

Thanks to everyone who has weighed in and pushed this along. Now, let's get some focus back on Big In China!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Panda Dad on the Today show.

Big in China comes to Pittsburgh

Doesn't everyone celebrate their Today show debut by flying to PIttsburgh for an O dog?
Well, it's always grounding to be in Pittsburgh even when things are zipping around so quickly.. maybe especially then (which means now).

I went straight from the Today show to the airport and flew back to my hometown. I was really happy to have nice articles in the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review. Thanks to Mackenzie Smith and Rege Behe, both of whom I thought did a really nice, thoughtful job.

Tomorrow, I am speaking at my alma mater, Allderdice, then going to the Pirates opener with my dad and then having my Barnes and Noble reading. Big times.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Today show? Check. Thank you Panda Dad.

Well, Panda Dad has taken me to places that Big in China couldn't quite reach on its own - the Today show. I think the segment today went really well. If I can figure out how to a video embed, I will do it.

I really didn't feel nervous about being on, but did feel a bit pressured to make my points in succinct terms. It felt good. If you are a new reader, tuning in from the show, welcome. Please look around and drop me a line.

If anyone missed it, the Panda Dad reader chat is here. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Reminder: Live Panda Dad chat @ 3pm Submit questions now.

Reminder: Panda Dad live chat 3 pm. Submit questions anytime. Good ones coming in. Love to hear from you.

From the Archives: 10 Best Southern Rock Albums

Gregg Allman on my book Big In China: "What a romp. After writing about music for years, Alan Paul walked the walk, preaching the blues in China. Anyone who doubts that music is bigger than words needs to read this great tale.”

From deep in the Guitar World and Alan Paul archives, my list of 10 Essential southern Rock Albums.

Note that it was written in about 1998.  I would do some things differently -including using Eat A Peach instead of the box set for the ABB choice. That's my pick because it explores all sides of the Allmans better than anything else and will get anyone hooked.  It is also my sentimental favorite,  for reasons well documented in  Big In China.
Me and Dickey Betts, circa 2000
Gregg Allman and me, 2009, NYC. Photo by Rayon Richards.

The Allman Brothers Band, Dreams (Polydor, 1989) It may not be fair to start with a four-CD boxed set, but if you really want to explore Southern Rock, you have to understand where the Allmans were coming from first. It’s all here: the blues, hard rock, folk and psychedelic backgrounds; the brilliant guitar interplay between Dickey Betts and Duane Allman; the great original songs; the original reworkings of blues classics; the country touches: in short, the roots of Southern rock and more. You also won’t go wrong starting with any of the band’s first five albums: Beginnings (which packages The Allman Brothers Band and Idlewild South on one disc); At Fillmore East, Eat A Peach; and Brothers and Sisters. They’re all essential, eventually.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Street Survivors (MCA, 1977) The last effort by the original band, released shortly before the plane crash that killed three members, including guitarist Steve Gaines and singer Ronnie Van Zant, and ripped the heart out of Southern Rock. Infused with new energy and creativity by the arrival of Gaines, Skynyrd breathes fire. Three guitars have never sounded as in sync as they do on “That Smell,” “I Know A Little,” “You Got That Right” and the rest.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Freebird: The Movie (Cabin Fever, 1996) All right, so it’s not an album. But it’s even better in many ways. Anyone who doubts the power of primetime Skynyrd need only pick up this video and witness the band circa 1976 just absolutely nailing it. Unfortunately, there is no similarly definitive video of Duane-era Allman Brothers, though a widely circulating bootleg featuring four songs from the Fillmore East, 1970, is well worth tracking down despite its occasional audio lapses.
Marshall Tucker Band, A New Life (Capricorn, 1973, KTel) This album doesn’t include any of the band’s hits, all of which are also well worth owning and are available on several decent greatest hits collections, but it is a low key gem loaded with hot picking from late guitarist Toy Caldwell. If this were released today, hipper-than-thou alternacountry fans who probably turn their nose up at the mention of Marshall Tucker would hail it as a masterpiece--which it is, particularly the album-closing “Fly Eagle Fly.”
The Best of the Outlaws: Green Grass & High Tides Forever (Arista, 1996) This comprehensive 16-track overview features all the band’s hits -- "There Goes Another Love Song," "Hurry Sundown," “Green Grass & High Tides Forever” and "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky"--and is all the Outlaws a sane person will ever need.
Johnny Jenkins, Ton Ton Macoute (Capricorn, 1970) Backed by a stellar band that includes The Allman Brothers’ Duane Allman, Berry Oakley and Jaimoe, bluesman Johnny Jenkins and producer Johnny Sandlin crafted a swirling, trippy swamp blues classic. Out of print for decades, it has finally come out on CD. Beck sampled Duane’s guitar riff from the opening cut, “Walk On Gilded Splinters,” for “Loser,” and the album belongs on this list for that song alone, but the whole thing is a Southern-fried blast. This is as South as it gets, hoss.
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Motel Shot (Atco, 1971) The husband and wife team of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett presided over a traveling Southern rock/swamp/boogie/gospel/blues/gospel roadshow which featured at various times Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Leon Russell, country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons and the entire Derek and the Dominos rhythm section. All except Clapton are present on this remarkable all-acoustic album, cut for $895 in a Los Angeles hotel room. Outrageously, it’s still not available on CD, and some of its tracks are available on The Best of Delaney and Bonnie (Rhino), but Motel Shot has to be heard in its entirety. You also won’t go wrong with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends on Tour with Eric Clapton (Atlantic, 1970).
Blackfoot, Strikes (Atco, 1979) Arguably the last great gasp of Southern rock’s heyday, this album includes Blackfoot’s two biggest hits and greatest moments, “Train Train” and “Highway Song.” The band, fronted by former Skynyrd drummer Rickey Medlocke, slipped into mediocrity pretty quickly after this effort.
Charlie Daniels Band, A Decade of Hits (Epic, 1983) Daniels was a veteran Nashville session musician who blatantly patterned his new band, formed in 1973, after the Allmans, with twin drummers and dual lead guitars. As the years have passed, he’s delved ever more into straight country and stupid right-wing sloganeering, but this album collects the finest moments of his band’s first decade, and the pleasures are plentiful. Like the Outlaws, the Daniels Band made a lot of great music, but never a great album through and through, making this greatest hits the right place to start.
Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit (Capricorn, 1992) Imagine a maniacal cross between Frank Zappa and Gregg Allman fronting a group of whirling dervish shred kings, including the hottest guitarist and bassist you’ve heard in a decade and a mandolin player with chops enough to make your eyes twirl in their sockets. This is that. Bassist Oteil Burbridge is now a member of the Allmans while guitarist Jimmy Herring is now bouncing from gig to gig. He deserves a better fate, as anyone who hears his searing, soulful playing on this live album will attest; he’s got Steve Morse’s chops and Albert King’s soul, making him the finest Southern Rock guitarist in many a moon.
Contemporary Honorable Mention The Georgia Satellites, The Georgia Satellites (Elektra, 1986) They helped keep the flame burning during the darkest days of the 80s, with their hit “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.” And for that we should give thanks. Leader Dan Baird has also made a couple of fine solo albums featuring lead guitar by Brendan O’Brien, illustrating that one of alt-rock’s top producers is really a Southern Rocker at heart.
The Kentucky Headhunters, Pickin’ On Nashville (Mercury, 1989) These good old boys blended country harmonies and songwriting with guitarist Greg Martin’s Duane-style slide playing and Cream-y Clapton leads for a satisfyingly tasty brew. the best example of southern Rock’s grip on a certain segment of country music.
Widespread Panic, Widespread Panic (Capricorn, 1998) Mixing Allmans and Skynyrd-style southern rock with San Francisco flavorings of Santana, Jefferson Airplane and the Dead, Widespread Panic are amongst the premier contemporary Southern rockers. Well-captured on this new double-live album.
Gov’t Mule, dose (Capricorn, 1998) After helping revitalize the Allman Brothers from 1989-97, guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody have their gone their own way with devastatingly heavy results. Inspired hybrid music which is distinctly Southern and definitely rockin’.
The Black Crowes, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (Def American, 1992) After making a multi-platinum debut with Shake Your Money Maker, an album which dripped with the English sounds of the Faces and Stones, these Atlanta natives reasserted their Southern heritage with this raucous kiss-off of an album.