Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Giving thanks (as always)

It's that time; tomorrow is that day - my one and only favorite holiday; the one I keep near and dear and hold sacred.  There's no agenda; no gifts, etc. - just the joy of quiet; spending it with people you love and care about.  A good meal; warm conversation and a chance to actually reflect on things.  Thanksgiving is about mental/spiritual cataloguing for me.

This year has been one of many ups-and-downs for some of my friends; it's been fraught with frustration, uncertainty and sadness.  For some, it seems the clouds are lifting; for others, the road is getting a little clearer, but they haven't reached their destination.  For them, I wish calm, clarity, peace and ultimately, joy on their way.  I know they'll get to where they need to be - I have faith in them, but mostly, a lot of love and respect.

I'm thankful for everything.  And everyone who is part of my life and my heart.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Time momentarily stood still...

I had the opportunity a few months ago to get together with some old friends.  These were the people I spent five-plus years with in the Atlantic Records art department.  Several weren't there and I wish they were; it would have made the night complete - I acutely felt their absences.  Hopefully, there will be more of these gatherings in the not-distant future; the last time I was with some of the group, it was 2010.  I couldn't join them in 2016, as I was away that week.  But it made me stop and think about several things:  even though it's eighteen years since we left (and 23, since I first came aboard), I love these people just as much now as I did then; I certainly appreciate them even more than I did when we were all together - that department was as much of a "family" as you could want/hope for.  And we left that job together; collectively, as a family.

What struck me so hard was that some of us hadn't seen one another in over 20 years and yet, somehow, we managed to pick up where we'd left off; others, we just fell right back into our old conversational patterns.  An amazing thing to me, as I'm usually inclined to think there may be some discomfort or self-consciousness - after all, with so many years having passed, what are we going to talk about?  I left there at 36; I'm 54 now - certainly, we're not the same people we were then?  No, we aren't - and none of us are in the "professional" music business any longer.  But we're together in the here and now and it's easy to pick up where we'd left off because we're older, calmer, care enough to share where our lives have taken us and at the core, there's still a endless amount of warmth and affection to bring us back to where we belonged.

I was thinking about this is as I'd started writing this piece the day after, but somehow forgot to complete it.  As I was scrolling through my Facebook profile page, I came across the photos of that night and realized I hadn't given this wonderful moment its due.  So with apologies and a lot of love, I'm doing so now.  Certainly, it's another one of those moments in life when you can think about a particular moment and the emotions can be wonderfully overwhelming.

Friday, October 11, 2019

October sky #2

It's getting colder, but in a comfortable way, which helps offset the general feeling.  A constant state of malaise, if not outright despondency and some social psychosis, seems to now be the norm.  Politics has crept into the bloodstream like a virus and it's dragging everyone down to the very bottom.  I've been doing my best to buck against it in a simple manner - don't get involved in social media nonsense; pay no heed to uneducated, ill-informed, bandwagon jumping, ignorant virtue signalling and maintain perspective when watching the "news", since it's become a subjective medium, rather than a fact-based service.  And it's working; my own life/existence is fine - I work; I write; I occasionally socialize and I have my house in order.  I've become - THANKFULLY - indifferent to 99% of everything I hear because I won't allow irrationalities creep into my orbit.  And if you talk shit, I become instantly deaf and disinterested.

Thus, my focus is readjusted - concentrating on my avenues of writing; still working on music and enjoying my existence.  At 54, there are more important things to think about than what someone on television or a celebrity has to say.  No one dictates and defines the direction of my life - I think for myself, thank you very much.

On the "this is pretty neat" front, I found out that a copy of The Punch Line's 1988 debut 45 was recently sold on Discogs for $98.00.  It's really flattering to think someone, somewhere wanted our single and were willing to pay a nice amount for it.  Where it came from and who sold it is a mystery to me, but the photo on Discogs showed a slightly water stained copy, but hey - someone certainly held on to it for over 30 years!  Could we actually be the cult heroes many people have said we are?!

Monday, September 02, 2019

September song #3 (I've got a feeling)...

Walking through Target this weekend, I started to remember what Labor Day weekend always meant when I was young - it signified the end of summer.  The Jerry Lewis M.D.A. Telethon would be on in our house religiously; school would begin in a matter of days (usually the 7th) and we would be doing the last of the traumatic "back to school" shopping:  notebooks, pencils, pens, school bag and clothes.  As time passed and I made it through high school, it became less upsetting - senior year (1982) was off to a positive direction, especially as I was about to begin proselytizing about this new band I'd discovered in August from Athens, Georgia, called R.E.M. and their debut E.P., "Chronic Town". The year went sideways quickly when the announcement of The Jam's break up hit me like a ton of bricks, but that was in November.  I managed to survive the crisis of faith when R.E.M.'s "Murmur" was released in April, '83 and it served as our soundtrack for graduation.

Once I had officially graduated, I actually looked forward to beginning my college career - I was prepared (complete with a brand-new Walkman); I had just joined a band (Two Minutes Hate) and there were two record stores right by my school (Bondy's and J&R Music World).  That first morning at Pace University, I stopped into J&R and came out with about 6 or 7 now-classic albums I bought off their cut-out wall and the latest "Trouser Press", which had The Jam, Pete Shelley and R.E.M. on the cover.  It looked like it was going to be a stellar semester.  It was - to some extent; I wasn't enthralled with being a pre-med and the 9-plus hours spent in classes (like the 4 hour bio lab on Mondays) wore me down quickly.  My parents, in their wisdom, patience and kindness told me to take a year off and concentrate on the band, since we were working and getting better all the time.

Suffice it to say, that wasn't exactly the best thing, either - I became bored, found a job and was able to help fund the first two E.P,'s we released.  I went back to school of my own accord and in September '85, was about 40 pounds lighter, dressed well (or at least trendy!) and wound up with a girlfriend on the first day of classes (I took a music course, "Rock & Contemporary Culture - Music 147". which was a no-brainer.  I got a 105 on my mid-term for answering the bonus question and I sang my final, which netted me an A+).  So it began my second wave as a college student meant September would always be a good month.

The memories serve me well; a day like today (rainy and quiet) allows the time to think and reflect in a helpful and meditative way.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The nondescript nature of August...

I'm not sure what to say, at this point.  I am completely emotionally drained and disconnected. 

Before anyone misinterprets what I'm feeling or tries to be analytical in the predictably ham-handed way, allow me to say what it is:  I am absolutely fine - healthy, not in any relationship difficulties, gainfully employed, etc.  But there is a definite need to push myself further away from:

- the ponderous motives of some people in my family
- the ridiculous childishness of friends who have taken to an almost drug-like addiction to MISINFORMED/NON-FACTUAL political sloganeering/confrontation, etc.
- music has become lifeless and uninteresting/uninspiring.  I don't mean what I listen to or try to write, etc.  I mean the crap that's actually making it out onto the market.  Shouldn't there be a law against this?

It's the second of this list that has me more distanced than anything else.  You can't have a civilized conversation with anyone unless they know your political stance; you can't enjoy frivolity without being grilled about who you intend to vote for.  And even if you're of the same party but have different candidate choices, beware - all hell is going to break loose.  What EVERYONE, while getting worked up and frenzied to a lunatic degree, is completely forgetting and overlooking is that the Presidential election is NOT until November, 2020.  It's only August, 2019.  Do you think for one moment that most of the "novelty" candidates that are out there right now will be on anyone's radar by the time actual nominations are announced?  We have reached a new intolerance for one another and overall, it makes me have no desire to be around anyone, once work hours are done.  Even friends are becoming an "approach with caution" kind of commodity; there are maybe one or two I don't have to think about spending time with and have the same kind of worry-free abandon/embrace.  The rest, I just don't know.  I don't want to spend (and invariably, waste) my time in my desire to have a casual drink and good conversation, only to wind up having to hear some insipidly thwarted manifesto or be lectured.

As far as any kind of "family ties" - I have no interest in engaging in conversations about relatives who are long no longer alive.  It may be a flag of convenience for some, but it has no meaning or validity for me.

Music?  I have no idea what's out there; what I've heard that passes for "popular" is aural garbage.  And while it's nice to see/hear younger people take an interest in bands from another era (such as many of the bands I've liked/loved, etc.), they can't expect or hope to see many of them now since so much time has come and gone.

Again, I'm not in a funk - I'm just drained and I can point fingers at specific causes and individuals, but this, like everything else, will pass sooner than later.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hotter than a match...

Is it awful or cheesy of me to pull such an obvious quote from The Lovin' Spoonful's biggest hit?  No, because everyone knows they're one of my favorite bands.

Not the usual way one would want to open up a posting but there's a lot and nothing to be said.  It's been oppressively and unhealthily hot, so much so, it leaves me exhausted by day's end, not wanting to get off the couch once I arrive home.  I try to not spend money foolishly; I pretty much keep to myself and only once in a while do I socialize.  I don't feel particularly warm and fuzzy towards most individuals these days.  I've reached a reasonable end point with most of the human race.  The people I love and am closest to know this - and it seems they've also had their fill.

No one knows when to stop - social media justice warriors; virtue signalers; special interest, self-absorbed liars, bigots, hypocrites and those who are so ill-informed - and willfully uneducated - and I don't want to hear it any longer.  This psychotic, obsessive "politically correct" atmosphere has gone beyond its' own boiling point (and mine) into over saturation.  The faux-politik that's spread now like a plague is shameful, embarrassing and dangerous.  I want no part of anyone who is immersed in this kind of childish foolishness.  Childishness is a big part of it all - the only thing I've seen/heard are constant temper tantrums by the left.  Plus, this raging "new infantilism", where people my age act and talk like children is frightening.  You're in your 50's - what the fuck are you doing, talking so reverentially about comic books or dressing like a "superhero"?  Jesus - grow up.  Are you consciously avoiding adulthood, even though you're deep in it?  It's an embarrassment.  Stop it.  Everyone.  Just stop it.

The right doesn't get a pass, but it also doesn't need to be dissected, either - it is now, as it's always been.  Predictability doesn't give it a perfunctory "it's alright" but certainly, the current President of the United States is NOT someone who shocks or "morally outrages" me.  So stop the posturing and pontification:  Donald Trump is going to win another four years if the Democratic Party doesn't come up with a solid, focused and marketable (since they're as full of shit as the day is long) platform that could help unseat the current Federal government.

The "children" running rampant on the left need to be quiet and educate/prepare; they need to stop being angry on my behalf and telling me that if I don't agree with them, I'm a Nazi.  They need to shut the fuck up and start listening.  Or mark my words - nothing is going to change come election day 2020.  I'm already more than exhausted by politics; we suffered a two-year election cycle, starting in 2015 (I was in New Orleans at the time); it hasn't stopped and we're still at it. 

I have little faith in people.  Justifiably so.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's day

It's been 9 years since my father died; he passed right after Mother's Day 2010.  While it does get a little easier with every year that goes by, I still miss him - as I do my mother (that was 30 years ago, this past April).  

I was very fortunate; my parents were good people who loved me, made me feel loved and protected and only wanted the best for me - especially as they didn't have money.  They raised me well - taught me well; how to do things correctly (and it's always been of my own doing when I went down a wrong path) and how to (most importantly) think for myself.  That lesson served me well, when I saw friends start to get into alcohol and drugs as a teenager.  They knew I would experiment but they also knew I did have a rational, balanced head on my shoulders.  So I never fell prey to the pitfalls.

My dad was a kind and patient man; he had his own struggles, problems and sadness; by the time he had to move into assisted living, our roles had reversed - I was the parent and he was, tragically, the child.  But over the 21 years that he and I had to tough it out after my mother's death, we got to know one another as people and that's something that will happily live with me for the remainder of my life.

I'm not a father, but I'm sure I would have done a good job, as my dad did with me.