ManicRobThrill

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Empty February

It's probably not a secret that I don't like February.  I never have; it's the darkest, bleakest, most grating month of the winter - considering it's the shortest month of the year, it's slightly ironic.  But I don't like it.  And I've grown to detest it even more since 2015, when I received the news of my ex-girlfriend's death.  Now I just hate it because I'm reminded of it.  Adding insult to injury, I had forgotten that the last time she and I ever spoke to one another was on Valentine's Day, 1994.  

It was a wet, grey day - we had been going through a protracted split since Christmas '93, but there were moments in the last weeks of January that hinted of a slow/possible reconciliation.  Yet, I knew it couldn't be - otherwise, we'd only continue hurting one another and being unhappy - not just together, but with ourselves.  So when we had that two-hour "what are you doing?" conversation, I knew there had to be a cap on it.  I'd sent her a dozen roses, which I'd never done, just to make myself feel better, since it was the first time in 8 years that I was alone on Valentine's Day.  And when it was time to go, I said something to her that I'd never said before. Before we hung up the phone, I said "goodbye, Susan - take care of yourself."  And I knew.

Now it's five years that she's gone and I wish she was still here, enjoying her life.  I didn't know her at all, anymore - but I just wish she was still here.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Everything new is old again...

So here we are at the start of a new decade; I'm happy to have rung in the new year on a very quiet, calm and relaxed note.  I don't go to parties; I don't like to go out on New Year's Eve - I don't drink, so there's no hangover and it feels good to start things off with a very clear head.  After I finish this, I'm on my way to the gym - not because it's any kind of "resolution" (I do not subscribe to those), but because it's a "free" day (I'll do the same tomorrow and maybe through the weekend as well), since I don't go back to work until Monday.  I want to be able to say that this time away from the office was well-spent, which it has been, all in all.  If I pick up a guitar within these next two days, I will have accomplished all that I set out to do within this time off.  It was a low bar set, granted, but I wanted to do things that made sense, didn't waste time and achieved certain goals.

So here I am - five days from 55; I've noticed for the first time, my hair is starting to thin a little...  oh well.  Can't do anything about it.  It's nature and the passing of the years.

I can only hope that this year is a lot less fraught with tension, anger and suspicion.  I'm certainly in the right mindset, but that doesn't account for everyone else.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Another year; another milestone...

It's now past the 15 year mark since I started doing this blog; amazing.  I know it isn't what it was, but it's still a comforting friend that I like to spend time with when I can.  At the same time, I'm glad that life and I, as an individual, have progressed and grown/matured over those 15 years - with the advent, rise and subsequent overtaking of social media, I'm afraid the same can't be said for so many people who are older and (I thought) far wiser than I. I tend now to simply stay away for the fact that things like Facebook, etc. don't enhance or bring pleasure to my life.  If I'm on Facebook, it's to post my writing or the podcast link, etc.  No more engagement with anyone - not even about music.

But here I am, on a Friday December morning, on the first day of my break from work.  It's cold but sunny - how it ought to be.  Coffee should be a quick rescue and then it's time to get myself into Manhattan to stick with December tradition (started in 2010) - haircut and then dinner at Caffe Reggio with my favorite person in the world.

Like this blog beginning in '04, a tradition.

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.