IN AWE BEATLES, BASEBALL, & BOURBON

IN AWE
Beatles, Baseball, & Bourbon
By Steve Palec
AVAILABLE DECEMBER 2019

image1

In awe - Beatles, baseball, & BOURBON

image2

APPRECIATING SPECTACULAR and SIMPLE STUFF

Have you ever shared something you really like with someone that is ambivalent or bored or too cool to care?  But have you ever shared that same thing with someone that thinks it’s awesome and is excited? Don’t YOU feel a lot different? THAT IS AWE. And that’s what this book is about.

image3

I’ve been told I look at life a little differently. I agree.

This book started with me sharing a bunch of stories. Many of these stories came from being in the right place at the right time, after decades of broadcasting, access to musicians and athletes, and being in the business community.

I almost stopped before I started. I didn’t want a collection of name-dropping or “look what I did” vignettes.

image4

So before I wrote down stories about...

... going to a Presidential inauguration, getting to know Les Paul, introducing a band in front of 10,000 people, having a chance to be involved in a $100 million dollar deal, seeing Don Henley try out a concept, shaking hands with a Beatle, walking into the side of a building, or having smoke blown in my face by Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski... I needed to know something.  What ties all these stories together? What’s the point?

image5
I AM IN AWE OF THE PEOPLE I ENCOUNTER

I LIKE TO THINK I’VE TAPPED INTO THE POWER OF AWE!

It’s a fun way to go through life.

I’m in awe of putting a McDonald’s double cheeseburger inside an Egg McMuffin. I’m in awe that I’ve been able to get up every Sunday morning and play music for thousands for over 30 years. 


These are my stories, and some song lyrics, and some insights and interviews with others

image6

The reason I look at life differently is that I’m looking at it from the powerful perspective of awe.

image7
I’m really honored the the forward to the book was written by my really good friend, LeRoy Butler.

I am very honored that the forward to the book was written by my very good friend and the inventor of The Lambeau Leap... LeRoy Butler

image8
For more information contact steve@stevepalec.com

AVAILABLE DECEMBER 2, 2019

IN AWE

Beatles, Baseball, & Bourbon

Appreciating Spectacular and Simple Stuff

PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT

pair a bottle of bourbon with “IN AWE”

They say everyone has a book in them. It’s getting it out that’s difficult.
Now that I have done just that with the December release of my book “IN AWE - Beatles, Baseball & Bourbon”, I can confirm that it’s true.

Another statement heard often this time of year is how hard it is to find a gift for a guy.
Well, allow me to make a suggestion.
No, not the obvious suggestion of just my book... full of sports, music and bourbon. BUT, if you’d like to pair it with a bottle of bourbon...we may be on to something!
It’s a perfect holiday gift idea!!!!!

Given my fanatical obsession with bourbon (and the book explains how that came about) I’d be happy to provide you with a list of suggested pairings with my book.
(WARNING/ADDED BONUS:  I do explore some feelings in the book. After all it’s about looking at the world with awe. So if you package the gift of IN AWE with an awesome bourbon, it could provide endless happiness)

The book, available at Amazon, is under $20. So all you have to do is find a bourbon below (based on price) and you can wrap it together in anything from a paper bag to a fancy box...and you’ll hit a grand slam!

Here you go...
These are my suggested bourbons of not only excellent value but also not impossible to find.
[] Eagle Rare   $30.   This is an awesome 10 year old bourbon.  You can’t go wrong.
[] Buffalo Trace.  $24.   Good stuff.
[] Angels Envy.  $45.   If you drink cheap wine, you feel it the next day. Good wine, not so much.  Same thing with bourbon. This is one I can drink in crazy quantity and still feel good the next day.
[] Amador.   $38.   Not hard to find and not hard to like.
[] Longbranch. $40.  This is endorsed by Matthew McConaughey. And it’s not weird.
[] McKenna.  $33.  Very good value for a 10 year old bourbon and gaining in popularity. I can take it or leave it.  But a lot of people like it.
[] Breckinridge. $40. An excellent bourbon and very easy to drink for a beginner.
[] Maker’s Mark 46.  $30.  Regular Maker’s is OK. This is the one to get for someone that says you thought about it.
[] Driftless Glen.  $33.  Decent and you can point out it’s from Baraboo, Wisconsin.

A couple more good values that are a little harder to find:
[] W.L. Weller 12 year.  $30.  That is the listed price. It gets marked up. Overhyped but not overrated.
[] Wilderness Trail.  $45.   Tough to find in stores. You can easily order it online.

Here are some just a little more costly, but you’ll be thanked sincerely for your thoughtfulness (not to mention your good literary taste):

[] Woodford Reserve Double Oaked  $40  This was my go to bourbon for quite some time until I ended up trying many others. Really unique taste.
[] Noahs Mill.  $45.   I’ve never seen anyone unhappy drinking this.
[] Colonel E.H Taylor.  $42. It’s good and it comes in a nice tube of cardboard that you can use for other things.
[] Michters.  $45.  The 10 years goes for over $100 but the regular ain’t bad at all.
[] J. Henry & Sons.  $47-54.  This is an exceptional bourbon and a great conversation starter....a Wisconsin bourbon I’d put up against any other state.
[] 1792.  $30-$50.   Various ages. But if you can find it, grab the 1792 Bottled in Bond for $36. One of the best values I’ve ever found.
[] Pinhook.  $40.  Looks like a wine bottle. Great value.

Next price range up, here are some pretty nice gifts:
[] Old Forester Statesman. $55.   There are a lot of different products from them including some all over the place and some hard to find. This one is a personal favorite.
[] Willett Pot.  $65.  Excellent bourbon and it comes in a super cool bottle.
[] Bib & Tucker.  $50.   Another interesting bottle. Looks like an afterthought.  But it’s a very good bourbon that won’t disappoint.
[] Jeffersons Ocean. $65-85.  Sounds like a gimmick (aged in a ship traveling around the ocean) but it’s brilliant (idea and taste). I’ve seen it priced all over the board (not overboard).
[] Heaven’s Door. $50.  This pairs perfectly with IN AWE since it’s Bob Dylan’s bourbon. And it’s good!
[] James T. Kirk.  $60. Exactly what you think...perfect for Star Trek fans. And a damn good bourbon. You’ll probably have to get it online.

And now, if you really, really, really want to provide someone with an off the charts great gift (and the book that I poured 13 months of my life into will get ignored while the bourbon gets poured first):
[] Joseph Magnus. $100.  This isn’t impossible to find and it’s really good.
[] Blanton’s. $60.  This has become somewhat impossible to find. You have to know someone or find someone that doesn’t know what they’ve got. One of my favorites.
[] Elijah Craig 18 year. $150.  Exceptional.
[] Jefferson’s Wood Experiment.  $100.  This is a box of five 200 milliliter bottles. I’ve seen it around once in awhile. Good stuff and easy to slip into your back pocket for those times you’re dragged somewhere and aren’t sure they will have anything good.
[] George Remus Repeal Reserve. $85.  Not impossible to find and a cool gift
[] Jim Beam Distillers Masterpiece. $180.  Hands down, this is my favorite bourbon. Spectacular. Phenomenal.  I bet it would be a lot cheaper if it didn’t come in such a fancy box. But you can’t go wrong with this as a gift!
[] Pappy Van Winkle 23.  $300.   Only $300 MSRP but sold on the secondary market for thousands!  Good luck finding it. By the way, I actually like their 20 year old version ($200 MSRP) even better.  But you’re not going to find that affordable either.
I did actually end up with a bottle of Pappy 23. How? You’ll have to read the book!

image9
image10

TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING AWE

By Steve Palec

Having conducted countless interviews over 45 years of broadcasting, I can tell you that one of the best questions anyone can ask is a very short one-word sentence.

“Why?”

When I got into the writing of my book, “IN AWE -   Beatles, Baseball, & Bourbon   Appreciating Spectacular and Simple Stuff”, I almost stopped before I started. I didn’t want a collection of name-dropping or “look what I did” vignettes.  I needed to know what ties all my stories together?

I am just a simple guy who has been in the middle of a lot of cool stuff.

I am in awe of the people I encounter and the things going on around me. I seek out big things and I appreciate the little things. I like to think I’ve tapped into the power of awe. It brings you great things in life.

Here is the best way I can explain it:

Have you ever shared something you really like with someone?  A song, a show, a photo or an idea. And let’s say that person is ambivalent or bored or too cool to care? How does that make YOU feel?

But have you ever shared that exact same thing with someone that sincerely thinks it’s awesome and is excited? Don’t you feel a lot different?  That is Awe. And that is what my book is about. 

I was in awe when Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig took me along on a private jet to a playoff game. I was in awe at a Presidential Inauguration, hanging out with my buddy LeRoy Butler, introducing a band in front of 10,000 people and shaking hands with a Beatle. Of course, I was.

But I also am in awe when I remove the bun of a McDonalds double cheeseburger and put the remainder into an Egg McMuffin. (It’s pretty good!).  Or playing basketball as a kid in an alley where our full court was two hoops on garages that didn’t line up. I dominated in diagonally based sports.

I’m in awe that I get to play music and tell stories to thousands every single Sunday on my radio show for over 30 years. And I am still in awe when my dog greats me in exalted fashion every single time I come home.

My book has a lot of stories. But this e-book is focused on sharing some tips on how I try to use awe to keep things happening in my life that help create those sharable stories.

BALANCE HUMILITY AND EGO

When I first noticed that my son got a tattoo, albeit at an age when he was already out of the house, out of the state and legally within his rights to disappoint me, I was not thrilled. But I have to say his choice of decoration was not flippant. He had the word “humility” etched on his wrist.

I think humility is one of the best traits toward seeing awe in anything.

I also believe that humility and ego are not mutually exclusive. We all have or should have the latter in the form of confidence and self-value. Personally, having a radio show where I repeat my name, interact with listeners and occasionally get patted on the back {or wined and dined) has worked wonders for me in the parallel decades of being in the business community. I could both literally and figuratively put aside any accolades working on commercial real estate endeavors knowing that come the end of the workweek I could be a pseudo rock star.

One of my favorite examples of humility came into play after a real estate transaction. On behalf of Manpower, I was working to acquire a building next door to their headquarters. The owner of the property had already had contact with them on several occasions and wasn’t overly thrilled with my involvement. I mentioned inclusion of a fee for me in our conversations and incorporated that into correspondence. But I also put my head down and did what was best for my client. The transaction was consummated and worked for all parties. After the deal was agreeable but before the closing, he and I sat down for a beverage. Admittedly nervous since I was at a point in my career and life where I could really use the money, I thought of a number of different tacts. I choose humility. Rather than posture, I simply recognized he had a lot of options, the deal worked out well for everyone, and I understood what he did about the fee was his choice. He was no pushover, but he appreciated the sincere humility and he agreed to pay me a fair fee.

Out of the blue, a few months later, he called and asked me to come to his home. John Feith was born in Belecska, Hungary in 1925. During World War II, John was recruited as a translator for the US Army and immigrated to the United States with two young sons in 1952. He had spent some time in Green Bay while building successful businesses and had the opportunity to interact with Vince Lombardi. John handed me a letter that Lombardi had written to him and asked if I’d like it. I was obviously in awe.

CREATIVITY

People say creativity is inherent or a gift. I’ve always thought of it as a willingness to look at things a little differently and be willing to take a chance sharing that view. I’m no poet, but if you’re willing to look at things creatively even a drop of rain can look like a floating painting from heaven. (I told you I’m no poet.)

Here is what I mean…

During the spring in Wisconsin, you can go from snow to rain in a day. And while you’ve suffered through months of oppressive conditions, you are aching for the sight of green grass. But if you have a dog there’s a good chance that grass is going to be brown in a lot of areas. I finally realized that if I plant some extra grass seed the day before a forecast of 3, 4 or 5 straight days of rain, I stand a good chance of accelerating that lush green lawn. I am the only one on the block that is ecstatic about a dreary week of rain. Its not the creativity that results in movie scripts, but it turns scorn into awe.

In my book I mention the story of the fish tie phenomenon. While all credit goes to the creators, my constant search for creative content for my then daily radio show certainly helped accelerate their success. The creativity used to share the product with listeners and celebrities wasn’t intended to move product. It was the natural progression of taking a chance by sharing that creativity. So, when the company sold for millions, I had no illusions of inclusion. I had no shortage of confidence that my creativity would lead to other things. But it’s the willingness to share creativity that leads to awe.

FEAR

I am totally motivated by fear of failure. For me, it’s not good or bad. It just is. But before it got more bad than good, I happened to read a spectacular book.

“Embracing Uncertainty: Breakthrough Methods for Achieving Peace of Mind When Facing the Unknown” by the late Susan Jeffers, Ph. D.  In short, she told a story that perfectly illustrated the concept of “what’s the worst that can happen?”  I took that book to heart. It allowed me to find a balance between taking the aforementioned chances with creativity and while still abhorring failure, have the ability to use it as a positive motivation rather than paralysis.

Allow me to reveal the awe by using this example:  I’ve done numerous speaking engagements or acted as the emcee for countless events. I never use a script. While I may luck into a quick comeback or line related to real time, what nobody sees is the time I spent in the days prior thinking and visualizing how the event will unfold. Not “what will I say?” but rather “what will I talk about?”  Even the time in the car driving to the event is tantamount to a basketball player shooting thousands of free throws in practice. By the time the time comes to shoot, even in pressure situations, it’s second nature. The audience may be in awe of seemingly off the cuff appearances, but it was fear of failure that caused persistent preparation.

If you take things for granted, you won’t see awe. If you over prepare, you are set up to awe.

JUST ASK

A lesson I learned by years of seeing radio colleagues frustrated by rebukes to their forceful ideas made me realize it’s sometimes easier to say “sorry” than “please’.  My friends and I had songs or artists we believed others NEEDED to hear. But sadly, the reality is that much of what was on the radio in the days between progressive freedom and total researched only scrubbed content was still limited to the most mass appeal.  So, we went ahead and played it anyway. When caught, they fought really hard to articulate their passionate option of why they needed to do it again. I simply said “sorry, won’t happen again”. Guess which went over easier. 

There were probably a number of instances in life where I did something I probably knew I shouldn’t but wriggled loose of discipline with an apology. But that’s not sustainable on a daily basis.

What is easier is to get into the habit of politely asking. Going back to my junior high school days of asking TV and radio stations if I could hang around showed me that many people simply don’t think of asking. I always used to preach to radio show producers as we looked for guests, that “if a phone rings, there’s a good chance the person on the other end will answer “(pre-caller id days). The challenge is finding the right number.

Even in business, the foundation of cold calling is asking. I once helped the iconic Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee fill a vacancy. Retail wasn’t my area of expertise, but the first call I made to the then largest sundry and gift shop operator in the world, led to them just saying yes. I was in awe of my luck…which couldn’t have occurred without just asking.

Obviously, there is a danger in asking too much or too often of people. That’s where sincerity comes in. I knew a guy once who asked out every woman that came within his radius. I was in awe of some of the women that said yes. But it was purely a numbers game and he wasn’t interested in the awe of an actual relationship. What does lead to awe is a willingness to politely, simply and respectfully “just ask”.

HUMOR

I have two sayings that I truly believe, even though sometimes life won’t let me abide by them.

I live to eat not eat to live      and        If I can’t find humor in it, I don’t want to do it

None of us can go through life without challenges and suffering. But if I go a day without humor or music, I better recharge my battery. And that sometimes means you have to go out of your way to find the music or humor in nonobvious situations.

General Douglas McArthur was a national hero and Vince Lombardi was one of the top assistant coaches at West Point. The General had a suite at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and Coach Lombardi would show him the game films of the Army football team’s latest conquest.

There’s a story about Lombardi being grilled by a room of military bigwigs and asked if he played a certain player because that player was Italian. Lombardi said, “No….it’s because I’m Italian.”

Humor allows you to overcome the toughest of situations. Is it without risk? Of course not (see Creativity). But to use it correctly can produce awe inspiring moments. Humor at its core makes people feel good.

RESPECT AND ADMIRATION

Two of the most awe-inspiring people I’ve ever spent time with are Les Paul and Bud Selig. In both cases, history will always recall their accomplishments. So of course, my respect while being in their presence was easy to muster.

But how about the person that gets up at 5am every day…gets their kids off to school. Takes a bus or walks to work. Spends countless unfulfilling hours working one or two jobs. Stays out of trouble and then does it again the next day.

Want some awe? Show them the respect and admiration they deserve. And you’ll share in that awe.

I’ve embarrassingly sung “Margaritaville” or “Boat Drinks” from Jimmy Buffett at the top of my lungs. In the book I tell the story of singing at a camp fire and being asked if I was ill. Also the story of singing with Adam Sandler and his simple review…”terrible”. 

The words of another Buffett song come to mind. The song “It’s My Job” perfectly describes the subtle awe we should have with what most people deal with and some master…

“A street sweeper came whistlin’ by

He was bouncin’ every step

It seemed strange how good he felt

So I asked him while he swept

He said, ‘It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess

And that’s enough reason to go for me

It’s my job to be better than the rest

And that makes the day for me’.”

DON’T COMPARE

I’ve been pretty good about working out almost every other day since the mid-1990s. Originally, I worked out with a personal trainer and actually saw my body transform in ways I didn’t think possible. Then I switched to what I call my “hotel workout”. It is designed more for me to be able to eat all the crap I want rather than building up to any goal.

But even in those times when I thought I was in great shape, I was well aware that there was always someone stronger and bigger. That adage is applicable to anything. You can strive to be the best at whatever you love, but…well you get it. Whether it’s someone gunning for you first place finish or your accomplishment is put in the context of another’s, there is no benefit to comparison.

Easier said than done, but if you can see the awe in what others have accomplished, it neither detracts from or elevates your own.

It also helps to understand that no matter what you say or do or post, someone will always disagree. My current radio show started 32 years ago. For the first ten years I would take criticism for featuring an artist that seemingly didn’t fit into a “rock format”. I’ll never forget a letter from a listener who would have happily seen me imprisoned for featuring the band American. I never disrespected those opinions, but I stopped comparing them to what I felt I wanted to do. And now I can play Dean Martin alongside Nirvana. And trust me, I am in total awe of THAT freedom!

HISTORY

There are so many things I admire. Cleverness, Artistry. BBQ.  But there is something about history that fascinates me. Every 4th of July I read the Declaration of Independence. Seriously.  It is amazing to do so when putting yourself in the shoes of those brave colonists. Someone should make a movie (or two) about it.

The common thread in history is that both extraordinary and everyday people lived it. And each has stories that allow you to see the awe of life.

And of course, the more open you are to absorbing history, the better you are at accepting its lessons.

NO CLOCK

I am very well aware of time. After all these years in radio, I possess a unique skill. You can start a timer…point at me…and I can talk for exactly 30 or 60 seconds. Really. However, ask me how old I am and seriously I have to do the math.

That’s where the awe comes in. If you realize that most time constraints are self-imposed, you realize you can’t lose. We’ve all heard the old saying, “they didn’t lose….the clock ran out.” It’s not untrue. Who is to say that had the time period been extended, the loser wouldn’t have won? But more importantly…who imposed the time constraint?

I recognize that all things do come to an end. Maybe that’s why I love baseball. The game has no predetermined period of time. It’s based on innings. But like life, it ends. And like life…there is usually a tomorrow.

Think of the awe that comes into place when you start considering that whatever it is you want to do…it might get done tomorrow. But whatever you did today is worth admiring (even if you, like I do, instead get distracted by a TV show, grab a bourbon, and settle into a lounge chair for the remainder of the day).

ATTITUDE

Again, how you look at life dictates your awe in both big and small things.

I think back to when I was a little kid. Baseball cards were like gold to me. I once was in a situation where I was handed not a few cards, not a pack, but an entire store display box of 36 packs. Up to that point I had been in awe of any that came into my possession. Unfortunately, the unenlightened young Steve immediately wondered why he couldn’t have two boxes. But we have the choice of awe. In retrospect, how amazing that a piece of cardboard (I’m speaking of the actual cards not the piece of interplanetary gum-like substance that came with it) could put a child into pure bliss.

My wife and I had dinner a while back at a place called 610 Magnolia in Louisville Kentucky. The chef, Edward Lee, is one of those award-winning innovators. There was a tiny little BLT sandwich the size of a postage stamp that was served to us as an appetizer. It was easily the best BLT I ever had. But at 6’3” 208 pounds, I thought I needed something more than the 0.87” x 0.979” portion I received. So I asked for another.

“No.”

“Please?”

“No.”

“Come on….really?”

They were polite, but it stayed a no. I was worried that it was a precedence to the future course sizes and I would need to make other plans to eat again when we left. By the way, it wasn’t. I later realized I had a choice. The choice was to revel in the awe of the flavor or just focus on the quantity.

Now don’t for a minute think I have a Pollyannaish attitude. I love sarcasm!!! It is my first language. When I was a little kid, one of my aunts remarried a curmudgeonly guy. Literally everything the guy said was like a bitter sitcom character. The adults were incredulous at his behavior. I thought he was hilarious.

I suspect it had an impression on me. I find humor in most things and quite often with sarcasm.  Here’s an example of why I like it. Think about a time you’ve been with a group of tipsy friends and you are sober. They are giggling and guffawing and loud and nonsensical.  The things they find side-splitting are probably not all that funny to you.

Now, throw in some sarcasm about the situation…and you’ll find the humor. Interestingly, the sarcasm works in both situations. Inebriated people like sarcasm too. It’s based on truth and if done gently, it works.

So, save some sarcasm, have some skepticism, be kind about it. 

There is awe in attitude.

There is awe in everything

Steve Palec is the author of IN AWE   Beatles, Baseball, & Bourbon

Appreciating Spectacular and Simple Stuff

image11

Contact Us

Drop us a line!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

4 Time Sporkies Judge at Wisconsin State Fair Best New Foods Competition

Always up for wings, ribs, burgers, fries, sushi, pizza, etc.