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Feeling Better

102.3! No, I am not referring to a radio station.

“I told you I didn’t feel well,” I said, vindicated. I was shaking, my teeth were chattering, I was itchy, and I felt a perpetual need to pee.

And I was scared.

The last time I had a fever was about 30 years ago. I was 10. I woke up on Saturday morning, excited to play little league basketball. As a child, I lived for little league; some of my best memories come from me playing on various teams for the Bustleton Boys Club. I played basketball and baseball. My soccer career ended after one year when I didn’t even score one goal (I was robbed!), and my team was 1-7-1. Anyway, I woke up and called for my mom. Five minutes later, she removed the thermometer and diagnosed me with fever.

“But doc, I want to play. My team needs me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Ahh mom. Come on. I’ll be fine.” I tried getting out of my top bunk bed. Was it me or was the room spinning? It was me, and I was done. I resigned myself to missing my game. Turns out the flu bug was going around, and many kids had to miss the game.

So, you could say I am not used to being sick.

My family and I had been at a synagogue event – parent/child learning. My wife was the organizer, so she was running around making sure everything was going smoothly. As the hour turned to 8:30 pm, SJ was getting cranky, and I was feeling more and more uncomfortable.

“Will you take me home? Daddy doesn’t feel well. So, can you take me home?”

SJ said through muffled tears, “What about mommy and BR?”

“They can get a ride home from someone.”

“Okay. You can take me home, and I’ll take you home.”

“Thanks buddy. I really don’t feel well.” BR told my wife we were leaving. She was ready for this contingency. A meltdown can come at any time at that hour. She just did not expect me to be the one melting down.

A rough Saturday night of Advil and fitful sleep followed. However, upon waking up Sunday morning, my fever was gone. G-d bless drugs. I probably should have relaxed and taken it easy, but I didn’t. After all, I am not used to lying in bed sick.

102.3 is back to being a radio station. And that is music to my ears.

 

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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Missing Youth

“We’re not gonna take it. No, we ain’t gonna take it. We’re not gonna take it anymore,” Twisted Sister.

Eurorail train schedules, Let’s Go Europe, and maps surrounded the unemployed 23 year old. He was planning out his backpacking through Europe summer. Responsibility and reality be damned. The epitome of freedom and youth.

“Larry,” my father shouted as he came into my room undetected.

I jumped, “Oh, hi dad.’

“Does the music have to be so loud?”

“Sorry.” I turned down the music.

“What is all the stuff,” he motioned at the paraphernalia that decorated my floor.

“Planning my summer trip.”

“Oh.” He shook his head, half smiled, and walked away after reminding me to keep the music lower.

I looked at the information around me, contemplated my looming weeks long trip, and considered my unemployed status. I felt guilty. Then, I got over it.

Yesterday, I was assisting a girl with her college application essay. During the tutoring session, she started talking to her mother. “Mommy,” she said “I am going create an empire.” She was certain that the business she had recently begun was bound for big things. I raised my eyebrows but said nothing. Her mother smiled a yes dear smile. The girl bubbled on so proud of her declaration that she wrote it down.

Another college recruiter visited my senior class. He talked about his school and how attending there will enable the students to achieve their academic goals. This of course will enable them to fulfill their dreams. Never mind the 70 average.

“I’m happy she is getting a chance to go away,” she explained. “But when I dropped her off, I felt a little jealous.”  So my fellow writer said at a recent writer’s group meeting. She clearly felt a little guilty. There was no need to apologize as the rest of us – parents with children in various stages – shook our heads feeling the same such feelings.

It’s not youth we want. It’s the unbound enthusiasm. It’s the certainty that everything is not only possible but a mere question of when.

I wish good things for my tutee, my students, and my co-writer’s daughter. I hope they achieve big and great things. They are in an amazing and exciting stage in their lives.

By the time you reach a certain age, there is some level of stuckness (I know it’s not a word, but it so fits). Whatever you’re level of contentment – nice family, decent job, comfortable home – choices have been made, life is being lived, and dreams come in size small.

The world is not our oyster. It’s not free for the taking. As adults, we know this. Lumps can and will be doled out. I, for one, am okay with that. I will cope and be happy for the dreams of the kids around me, hopeful about fulfilling my goals, and content with the wisdom I have gained.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Top 40 Kids

A good education, nice friends, and a healthy diet…

The answer is: “What do parents want for their children?”

Sure, education and all that other stuff is important. I suppose. But, there is something else I want for my children. I’ve tried to guide, model, encourage, and reward. What is this thing I am referring to, you may wonder? Well, I’m talking wise musical choices.

I’ve had this on my mind since BR was born, 8 years ago. I wanted to inculcate him into the finer things in life. For my wife and I, that means the music of Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band. Those of you who read this blog know how I feel Bruce and the band (only one more month till the concert). Anyway, don’t we all want to expose our children to the things we enjoy and hope that they will share this enjoyment? I know it’s not just me. My blogger friend over at Life Takes Over (lifetakesover.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/take-this-town-the-album) literally had her children on her lap as she was listening to a favorite album. Who needs bedtime?

While I appreciate Life Takes Over’s direct approach, I’ve tried to be more subtle. And I was having success. BR really started getting into music when he was about 5. He would request that I turn on the radio in the car. As I flipped through the stations, I’d ask him;

“You like this song?”

“Do you like it, Daddy?”

“Ehh. Not one of my favorites.”

“Yeah. It’s just okay.”

This process would repeat itself till we found a song I liked. BR would announce afterwards that he liked the song as well. So obedient then – sigh.

During those “Glory Days” (Springsteen song title – subtle, right?), BR, SJ, (my 5.5 year-old) and I would have dance parties while listening to Springsteen’s greatest hits album. Those of you who know me well can pick yourselves off the floor – yes, I danced. BR memorized the first stanza of “Thunder Road” – my favorite Springsteen song. He wanted to learn the words – I was just there to facilitate. The musical indoctrination was going very well.

Times have changed.

I’m not sure when it happened or why. BR tolerated Springsteen, but he wanted something else. He turned into a – drum roll please – a top 40 kid. When I flipped through the dials and asked what he liked, he had a strong opinion, and my opinion no longer mattered. He wanted dance music, pop music, etc. Katy Perry seemed to be a particular favorite of his and the song “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz made his blood pressure rise.

My obedient boy was no longer. And he took his little brother SJ with him. I’m losing them. Now when we are in the car, the first thing BR asks is for Mom’s “music player” so he can plug in and tune us out. I am quite certain he is not listening to Bruce Springsteen.

Shall I adjust?

This summer the boys are hooked on “Call it Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. I’ve heard the songs more than enough times. Both songs are catchy and singable. I’ll give them that. Razza frazza. My musical tastes might even be getting more diverse as their tastes grow.

I just hope my children leave a little room for Bruce as well. After all, I am trying to raise them the right way.

 

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Miss You Clarence

On a warm August night in 1985 at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium, I was part of an audience that experienced Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band on their Born in the USA Tour. A teenage boy who had never been to a concert before and had some interest in Rock N’ Roll became an addict.

As the next year of my life proceeded, I became an aficionado of all things East Street. I bought every album, got my hands on boot legs, and memorized the lyrics to many songs.  My weeks began and ended with the band. On Friday afternoons, I would take my older brother’s aged 8-track, put on headphones, lie in bed, and consume Born to Run. From what became my favorite song – Thunder Road with its talk of love and escape to the final strands of Jungleland a tale of a small town night blending love and violence, I listened. With the last of Bruce’s wailings, my eyes fell asleep and my week was over.

The music has continued for me in to my adulthood as I’ve been to 15 (or so) concerts since that fateful night in August 1985. While in college, I stood in line at midnight to purchase the twin release of Lucky Town & Human Touch, I carried mix tapes in my rucksack throughout my traveling days, I spoke about it with my wife on our first date, and I helped BR (my older son) memorize the first stanza of Thunder Road. Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band’s music has been the soundtrack to my life.

Today, June 18th marks a sad day for those who are part of the Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band and us, its extended members. Today marks the one year anniversary of the passing of a core member of the band, saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. As he is still on my mind, what follows below is a piece I wrote about his passing shortly after his death. The music has continued for me in to my adulthood.

GETTING OLDER TOO

I miss Clarence Clemons. He died last week, and I never met him.  I have no idea if we have anything in common. Did he prefer vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream?   Who was his favorite football team?   Did he enjoy reading Fitzgerald?  Was he a winter or summer person? Did he prefer cats or dogs?  I don’t know.  I know nothing about his personal life. I am not certain if I would have recognized him walking down the street.  Yet, I miss him.

Clarence Clemons was famous to a certain segment of the population.He was part of something that was truly meaningful. As the saxophone player for the “E” Street Band, he was seen by millions of people who watched him perform on stage. I am one such person. I love Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band. They performed the first concert I ever went to.  I’ve seen them from the second row, I saw them multiple times in a week, I saw them when I was a teenager, when I was in college, when I was married, and when I was a father.

As I contemplate why it is I miss Clarence – he wouldn’t mind me calling him by his first name–a couple of ideas come to mind. There is the tangible reason. He brought a certain sound and style to the band that I truly enjoyed. I am not sure how the band will sound the next time I see them, assuming there is a next time.I don’t want to consider that they will not tour again, but I do know it will be different. However, the emotional reasons are greater. The band has always seemed like they were more than just a musical group. It’s as if they were friends who were part of a brotherhood. Listening to their music, and going to the concerts made it feel like I was in on their special bond.They wanted people to hear their music, sing the lyrics, and I wanted that too. I was a quiet, shy kid. This relationship was easy, and I felt good about it. I recognize this may sound crazy, but for those of us who are Springsteenfanatics – even fanatics of other musicians or sports teams – it might sound right.  There is something comforting and special about being part of this slightly odd relationship.

Clarence Clemons was not the first member of the “E” Street Band to die. I was sad when Danny Federici (organ, glockenspiel, and accordion player) died a couple of years ago. However, this is worse. With a second band member passing, it feels like it is only a matter of time till they are all gone. When I first saw the band, I was 15. They played a song called Glory Days. Prior to playing the song, Bruce said he was getting older, and he was about to turn 36.  The crowd was completely enthralled and starting chanting, “No, no,” when he said he was old. We wanted to let our hero know we felt he most definitely still had it. Now, Bruce at 36, me at 15, and that concert, seem like a million years ago.

My parents were big fans of movies and television and loved to see the actors and actresses. Anytime they would see one of the stars, they would first comment on how they looked and by that they meant how well they aged, or how not-so-well they aged. One time, Mom finally said to Dad, “You know Carl, we’ve gotten older too.”  I know just what she means. I miss you Clarence Clemons.

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Calling Susan Lucci

Last night was an amazing night. Dashing in a tux with alongside my wife in her striking auburn Donna Karan gown, we walked the red carpet. Lightbulbs flashed, interviewers were everywhere, and the fans were delirious.  And the after parties, well I don’t kiss and tell. Suffice to say, the tabloids will be buzzing this week. Glorious, it was just a glorious night.  Now, I had my speeches prepared.  Humble, humorous, hip, I had it all going on.  What, pray tell, you may be thinking was going on? Well, I had been nominated for two more blogger awards – the Sunshine Award and The One Lovely Blog Award and last night was the Blogger Awards. As noted above, the award ceremony was posh. You didn’t hear about it? That wasn’t a dream was it?

Let me first answer some questions associated with the awards.  Here goes:

Favorite Number: 7. Not so original. Truthfully, it doesn’t mean all that much to me.

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Yoohoo. Chocolate milk – yum, yum.

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook. I am not so into it but have never even been on Twitter.

My Passion: Sports.  I am currently sports depressed. Darn Philadelphia teams.

Favorite Pattern: The patterns of nature. Patterns in the sky, on leaves and the bark on trees, for example.

Favorite Day of the Week: The Sabbath. I enjoy the serenity.

Favorite Flower: Marigolds. I don’t know many flowers but I bought these at the flower show on a 2nd grade trip for my mother. I was a good boy!

One of the awards instructed me to note: Seven Things You May Not Know About Me. So, here goes 7 more.

1. The first song I ever memorized all the words to is Meeting Across the River by Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band.

2. Batman is my favorite superhero.

3. The first time I really thought I wanted to be a writer was after completing John Updike’s Rabbit series.

4. I love snow (even more so when I was younger).

5. I always wanted to be 6’2’’. I would have settled for 6’3’’ or 6’4’’. I’m 5’11. Oh well!

6. I don’t enjoy scary movies.

7. I am not good at learning languages.

Now let me tell you about My Nominees. I’m going to note 7 as it is my favorite number. The first two are the people who gave it to me. Thanks so much to both of you.

1. marymenkedick.wordpress.com

2. denobears.wordpress.com

3. parentingisfunny.wordpress.com

4. clotildajamcracker.wordpress.com

5. livenowandzen.com

6. slapppshotblog.com

7. fullofsmyles.com

I have now been nominated for 4 awards. I am 14 short of Susan Lucci who was nominated 18 times before she won. So, there is hope for me. I’ll see you at the awards show next year.  Get your formal wear ready.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Works to Ability

When it comes to report cards, there is a large selection of prepared comments I can select from. I doubt students or their parents realize this, but one of the most meaningful I can give a student is when I select ‘works to ability.’  I respect when people work hard and utilize whatever gifts they have been blessed with. When students don’t fulfill their potential – whatever that is – and settle for something less, I am annoyed. How dare you not do your best?

On that note, I wade into the Whitney Houston discussion.  This former gospel singer burst on the scene, and everyone fell in love with her. How could you not love her? She was fresh, beautiful, and gifted.  What an amazing voice!  She was eminently likable.  She was a commercial success beyond belief – having sold 170 million records.  Who can forget the performance she gave at the Super bowl? Every performance since has been measured against it. When I hear people eulogizing her, this is the woman they are talking about.

However, her last big album (not in comparison to the earlier albums) was in the late 90’s. It is also since that time period that she has been a drug addict and an alcoholic.  According to rumors/press, she has gone through rehab at least once, but as evidence shows, those trips were unsuccessful. In addition, it seems her daughter is on the same destructive path. So, when people call her death tragic, I can’t agree. The last decade plus of her life was a lost opportunity.  She was the opposite of someone who utilizes their skills to the utmost.  I view her similarly to Dwight Gooden, an immensely talented baseball star whose careers was tarred by addiction of various sorts. He had some spectacular and unforgettable performances.  I remember watching Dwight Gooden pitch a game against the Phillies in 1985.  The hitters were so overmatched that it didn’t seem fair.  I looked up the stats and saw he had 13 strikeouts that game while letting up 3 hits and 3 walks.  They never got close to scoring, and I remember being happy when they simply made contact. Dwight Gooden’s career stats are pretty good, but he could have been one of the greats. 

In this country, people have a chance for redemption. We are all about second chances – hell, even Marion Barry got elected to a second term.  Whitney Houston was spectacular. She fell from the pedestal and had repeated chances to redeem herself. That is sad. She wasted her talents. That is sad. Whitney Houston did not get the most out of her talents. That almost makes me angry.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Expiration Date

Everything should have an expiration date.  Doesn’t everyone check the expiration date on the milk as they pick it up and before they put it in their cart and then look to see if there are any other cartons that have a later date? More time, give me more time.

Whenever I go on Yahoo, I scan the headlines. Most of the information is quite meaningless. However, today I came upon a gem. Sinead O’Connor is getting married. Not only that, it is her 4th time getting married. I can’t believe I was not informed the first three times. This is big news, and I am sure I would have remembered.  I say this with no venom – I hated her song. Again, by the way, that is song not songs or album or albums but one single song. Oh and by the way, my just completed research revealed that her 21 year old one hit wonder, Nothing Compares to You, was a cover. So, is there really any need to report on Sinead O’Connor whose bigger claim to fame was that she was bald (if we reported every marriage of the billion or so men who are bald, we might have the makings of a cable television channel)? Hasn’t she clearly expired? I don’t mean that maliciously but really, who cares?

Maybe, America cares. Aren’t quite a few reality shows centered on former celebrities trying to extend their expiration date? By the way, did you know Peter Brady got married?  Do we care for our own sake? Maybe, it’s pure nostalgia to take us back to another time in our lives. Maybe, it’s our obsession with celebrity and once you achieve it, you will always have it and therefore always be interesting. Anyway, as I was saying, maybe it is a way to escape the mundane.

In the end, I don’t really know what all the fuss is about.  I just wish the milk would stay good till the expiration date.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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