Monday, January 11, 2016

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

When I woke up this morning, I saw a blurb on a friend's page that David Bowie had died. I could hardly believe it. In fact, I thought it was one of those cruel celebrity death hoaxes and for a brief two seconds, dismissed it. After all, he had just released a new album last Friday and on his birthday, no less. BUT then I saw the breaking news email alerts from the New York Times, the Huffington Post, NBC News and CBS News, and my heart sank as it became apparent Bowie really had passed.

All day long those of us at work moped around as we mulled over the news. I know I was numb to it all. Before I helped Ben set up a "Life Remembered" display to honor him, I set aside a copy of his album "Blackstar," released just last Friday on Bowie's 69th birthday, for purchase. I'll be listening to it as soon as I think I can handle the emotions I know I will feel knowing of his passing.

I don't really know how to express this, but the man was more than just a hero to me. From the first time I heard his "ground control to Major Tom," to "Fame," I was hooked. His songs "Suffragette City, Fame, Space Oddity, Modern Love, Changes, Young Americans, Under Pressure (with Queen), Blue Jean, Let's Dance"... and so many more are all part of my life--and forever will be.

I will leave it to other artists to address his place in the entertainment world, but no one can doubt how he has influenced the music and film industry.

If you didn't think the man move to the scene, you would be right. Bowie didn't follow, he LED the scene! If he didn't pioneer glam, he sure took to the max. If he didn't pioneer character-persona driven music performances, he sure fine tuned it. And if you didn't think his personality crossed all lines, you obviously have never seen him sing Christmas songs with Bing Crosby.

Coming home from work today, NPR's Terry Gross was rerunning her 2002 interview with him. She obviously was in awe of him and was surprised when he said he didn't really enjoy doing live performances "in character," but he much preferred writing and recording, always moving forward.

I was surprised too. He made the appearance of performing look so effortlessly. I think one thing that made him so appealing is that he was never the same guy twice.

If music wasn't enough, he broke in the movie scene and took it by storm (more than 25 films and countless TV appearances). His performances included The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Hunger, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, The Prestige" and "Labyrinth."

I do not think it a stretch by any means by saying that David Bowie was to the music industry what Robin Williams was to Hollywood. Needless to say, his passing is a bitter pill to swallow.

I've always considered myself lucky. My son took me to see Bowie in concert (with Moby) for my birthday in 2002. It was one of the highlights of my life. It was an utterly fantastic performance and I am so glad Wes and I got to see them both.

David, Ziggy, and countless other personas, I--we--will miss you. There'll never be another you.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Released, today in 1962

"People generally see what they 
look for... and hear 
what they listen for."

--Judge Taylor, "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Here we go again. And again and again and aga...

Get used to it, America, the mass shootings in San Bernadino, California seems to be the new normal. We are a dysfunctional society and until our leaders and our people are willing to face up to it, we'll be revisiting these acts of terror again and again. 

TOO many damned guns; too much hatred; too much discord; too much distrust: too much unchecked violence; too much poverty; too much insanity and too few politicians, community leaders and religious leaders willing to do anything more than offer lip service offering too few viable answers--at least not ones that most people want to hear.

As I said, this is our new normal. 
You don't like it? Then do something about it. The cries of "oh, this is terrible. Oh, those poor poor people" just doesn't cut it anymore. Talk, talk, talk and next week... or the next, we'll be right here all over again.

I imagine my friends who are strong proponents of gun ownership groan every time *this* happens. I am sure they feel the hurt as the rest of us do.

I am sure they brace themselves for the inevitable "there are too many guns out there." They dig in their heels and say more strict gun laws and taking away certain guns is not the answer.

I don't want to hear, "oh, if only someone there had been armed, they would have shot the criminals." Sorry, that argument doesn't hold water and there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

I am waiting for the inevitable "it's my god given right to own a gun. No one's going to take it away from me" and "it's my Second Amendment right."

I tire of it. I do not believe the amendment was intended for giving average citizens access to military-style weapons. I do not believe that asking for sensible background checks is unreasonable ... and I am not alone and this scares the hell out of some people.

Personally, I think our founding fathers would be hanging their heads in shame as our country descends into paralysis over gun control.

Okay, so we have tried it you gun proponents' way for far too many decades and what has it cost us?

More guns bought... just today, more deaths--14 dead, 18 wounded... more children killed, more children maimed, more dead adults, more, more, more ... your answers have left you with blood on your hands.

AND the gun industry is laughing all the way to the bank. And there are far too many of you suckers buying into their lies and we're all paying for it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

52 years


Today is the 52nd anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For any of us who remember the day, it is one of those "where were you? moments" that haunt us all to this day.

My memory of this day was when Mrs. Newhouse, my first- grade teacher at Argos Elementary School, was called out into the hall. She returned moments later teary-eyed and crying as she told us the president had been killed. Our President.

For young children, the President was our hero. He was young, handsome, vibrant, energetic and lively. And sadly, we learned he was not impervious.

School, of course, was called off and we were sent home to our parents. When my sister and I got home from school it was clear to me, even at the age of six, that both my Mom and Dad were profoundly stunned by the president's assassination.

I remember that night sitting in bed praying that this was just a bad dream. It was worse than that.

The coming days were a national nightmare. Questions arose, "how could this happen? Why did this happen?" The funeral, the procession from the Capitol rotunda to Arlington National Cemetery.

Those days brought an end to an innocence to which I believe we have not recovered. The end of Camelot changed us all. I think we became more cynical, far less idealistic and more distrustful.

One has to wonder how our country would have fared differently if Martin, Bobby and John had not been gunned down before America's eyes.

Some believe Vietnam would never have happened under a Kennedy administration. Most believe Kennedy would have been re-elected the next year.

Nearly everyone harbors their own thoughts about Kennedy's assassination. Was Oswald part of a conspiracy? Was he a "lone wolf?" Castro, the Mafia, Kruschev, Johnson? one of Kennedy's secret service agents? Who killed John? Theories, to this day, bounce around the public consciousness. And so many, myself included, do not believe we have been told the whole story--or the truth.

In any case, few events have haunted a generation as has the death of our young president. Mr. President, we yearn for what might have been.