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From allergies to the Braves, spring is in the air

Maybe it’s because tonight is the night for Vicki and I to cash in those Neil Diamond tickets that Santa delivered in December.

Or maybe it’s because a friend called a recent column “Grizzardesque.”

Or perhaps it’s because we got through the Easter season, right to the middle of another gorgeous Southern Spring, meaning baseball is back, there might be a few movies that I want to see this summer, and that it’s time to get serious about the Sunday dinners that involve fire and meat.

First, stop and think about what it would be like to be Neil Diamond. The songs he has penned and sung are among the greatest ever. Even more remarkable is the fact that tonight’s show at Philips Arena commemorates his half-century of entertaining us.

I can’t imagine the feeling of still going strong after 50 years. The show will be wonderful and he’ll run through a good part of his catalogue in his distinct voice that is at-home with rock, pop or ballads.

I caught his show a few years ago and was gushing at how good it was. A younger, less-enlightened fool opined: “I guess that’s the kind of concert people your age go to.”

It was meant as an insult but taken as a compliment, having long since forsaken paying money to any musical experience that might result in a riot or chickens being beheaded. I’ll take good music over pyrotechnics any day.

And I’ve often wondered what it must be like for the singer to know that, no matter where he is, he’s the coolest guy in the room.

Undoubtedly, Diamond, as part of “Sweet Caroline,” will sing: “It was in spring, and spring became the summer,” which is what we are going through in these parts.

We are smack-dab in the heart of spring, and as it happens every year, there was no warning. It got here like a spontaneous childhood visit by a favorite aunt, her arms laden with presents.

One morning, while stumbling around the house looking for Kleenex after three or four wall-shaking sneezes, I looked outside and the trees were as dressed as I was half-bare.

When did all those leaves get here? Surely, they moved in overnight, which is a marvelous gift. I’d like to thank them, tell them to stay as long as they want, and ask them to try to stay out of the gutters in September and October.

For some reason, spring has made me miss Atlanta Braves baseball the way it used to be. I’m not talking about winning. Hopefully, if all the pundits are correct, the youth of this edition will morph into veterans who will eventually learn how to win.

I miss Skip Caray. I miss his cantankerous, snide remark-laden call-in show before and after the game. It was a badge of honor to have crabby Skip hang-up on you.

It was an inside joke that went right over the national audience’s head when Skip said: “A fan from Hahira (or Moultrie or Milledgeville or Gilmer) made a nice catch of that foul ball.”

Skip and his cohorts were having fun and while others might have thought we Southerners were bumpkins, we were on the inside track as the broadcasters put one over on their audience.

I remember a Caray deadpan during a particularly bad stretch of Atlanta baseball: “The bases are loaded and I wish I were too.” Wherever you might be, Skip, I hope you are three sheets to the wind.

I’m hoping to cash in an old gift card from Chops tonight before the concert. Thinking of a steak and/or lobster meal there, coupled with the friend’s Grizzard comment, brought back memories of what it was like to have a treasure and greatness in our mix.

Having met and spoken to Lewis on several occasions, it was obvious his bases were always loaded. He was never rude and always friendly.

The last time I saw him happened to be at Chops.

Overindulgence aside, those of you new to Atlanta missed out. Grizzard columns were a must-read, as in: “Did you read Grizzard today?”

That was back when folks read the local newspaper, many because of Grizzard, Furman Bishera and others.

Today, airport waiting areas are littered with copies of USA Today, a worthless publication crammed with bad writing and even worse content.

Wherever my travels take me, I am adamant about picking up a local paper in order to see what’s going on. I often leave USA unread at the door and trample it on the way to an elevator.

I miss Lewis and I often wonder if there will ever be another columnist who comes close to his talent level. And with many newspapers dying a slow death, would someone give him a home?

Mike Tasos’ column is published every other Sunday. He hopes all goes well at tonight’s Neil Diamond concert and the show isn’t delayed because of he and others shuffling their way to their seats. Comments can be sent to He is also on Facebook.