24Aug

Emotional Break Time

The last couple of weeks have been heartbreak city for many of us with the loss of Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, and just last week the great voice of Don Pardo. My emotions, as yours probably are, are on sadness overload. So this week I have decided to drift into make-believe and fantasy. I leave the question open, though, is it really just a dream?

One summer in the 1700’s, a boy walked up his favorite hillside, the dark blue sky and white clouds drifting above the water, and looked at the harbor below, seeing the sky reflected in the blue waters, made more beautiful by the white sails of the tall ships and the white clouds right next to them. It was as if the sky was the sea and the sea was the sky. It seemed to him that the world could be turned in either direction and still keep a steady keel.

He continued his hillside walk to the highest point, looking down on the harbor he loved, down on the schooners and whalers, the frigates and war ships. It was the ships that carried goods from faraway exotic places that thrilled him the most. He dreamed of the day he too would sail outside the harbor to those places of mystery and magic. The sea called to him like a mistress waiting in the dark, barely hidden behind a dream, calling to him to learn from the trade winds of life that would forever blow.

On this day as he looked at his town, he wondered what changes time would bring, how hundreds of years would change what he saw, the new and incredible things that would change his town that he would never see. Oh, how he longed to be a part of this place forever.

Hundreds of years later, I wake from this same dream, the dream I have had repeatedly since childhood, the dream of a boy and the great sailing ships, the harbor, and the view from the top of his hill.

That same morning, I walked to the top of the hill and looked down. I knew this place had spoken to me, had called to me through the ages. Even though the skyline had changed, the sky had not, and though the ships had engines instead of sails, my harbor remained. As I stood on my hill, I could not help but wonder, which was the dream?

It was once again as if one was either, and both existed one inside the other, and this place had always been and always would be my place in time and space. There was more to know, and I knew that the dream would continue and the question would remain. Which was the dream, the boy or the man? Could you turn one, one way and one the other way and still have an even keel? Is the dream a memory? Is the spirit of the boy still walking those hills today as the man? And what role is time playing?

Not sure what flights of my imagination wait on the shores of Rambling Harbor, but join me there and give a listen.

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17Aug

Whistling

By the time you read this, we will have been a week deep into a very dark place, a place void of laughter, quick-thinking, brilliant-funny, and sometimes heart-breaking emotions, with the loss of Robin Williams and his cast of characters, including Mork from Ork, sitting on his head in a chair, and John Keating, a professor taking a stodgy, aristocratic school of boys and helping them see the world differently by standing on his desk whistling the “1812 Overture” in Dead Poets Society.

Sometime around 1978, I was living on Beacon Hill in the fine aristocratic city of Boston. I have never been one to engage in an outpouring of vocal belly-busting laughter, but on one particular day (and for decades to come) Robin Williams was able to invoke that behavior in me.  Then in 1989, he brought me to tears in the Dead Poets Society as a professor bringing humanity and real learning to a brain-numbing line-stepping school. I know how that can be, having spent two years in such a place until I convinced my father I would get thrown out if he didn’t take me out. Good old dad decided I would indeed disgrace myself in private, so he figured it was better I do it in public, and I was released from those gates, and off to public school I went. Fifty years later I am still marching my own line-step and to my own beat. John Keating was that type of true Teacher.  Mork from Ork, John Keating, and other memorable characters have left us, but fortunately for us all the memories remain. 

People ask why such gifted people end their own lives--by drugs and alcohol in a slow death or more quickly.  Personally, I think the powers-that-be do not always give great gifts and an unconquerable soul. The mind and heart are often veiled behind the gifts they give us. Emotionally, I am standing on my desk, whistling the “1812 Overture.”

Speaking of whistling, we also lost Lauren Bacall to a massive stroke this week at age 89. Lauren Bacall had the level of sophistication and sensuality I look for in every woman I have ever known.  Just check out the film To Have and Have Not and the “whistling” exchange between the characters played by Bogart and Bacall. From the voice to face no one will take her place.

 There is so much spinning around in my head right now, and this blog has only touched the surface. Our learning to lock-step in blind obedience starts in the first year of school. Somewhere, I hope there are a lot of students who, if not now, will someday stand on their desks on their own two feet. I'm going out now to do what I have been doing all my life: whistle into the wind and hope someone catches the tune.

I have no idea what we may find on the shores of Rambling Harbor this week, but join me there and give a listen.

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10Aug

Radio, Budweiser, Facebook, and Ice Water

As you know, I have been a big critic of one Mr. Kanye West—and Jesus knows he has given me plenty of reason—but I do give credit where credit is due.

 On August 30 in Philadelphia and August 31 in L.A., the Budweiser Made in America Festival will take place.  Held to benefit the United Way, Kanye, who had previously been confirmed as the Saturday night headliner of the flagship fest in Philly, now entering its third year, will perform alongside main stage acts like The National, Steve Aoki, J. Cole, and Chromeo.  After his performance, he'll head to L.A. to headline with John Mayer and Juanes on Sunday. 

The inaugural event was held on September 1–2, 2012 at Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia and attracted nearly 80,000 people, grossing $5 million in ticket sales.  Philadelphia city officials reported that the festival generated at least $10 million for the city and covered all municipal costs associated with the event.  While I will hold my breath and hope the West Wind doesn’t blow in a preacher’s direction, leaving that to the rapper slapper in sandals from Galilee, it’s good to see Kanye and all the excellent stars involved in this going out to help people.

Remember the giant sinkhole in Siberia that suddenly appeared? It seems my speculation that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were going to break out in a fiery fury and head hell-bent for the Westboro Baptist Church is not going to happen. Scientists are convinced, though, that the sinkhole opened up because of global warming, the phenomenon that 21% of all Republican politicians refuse to believe. In fact, the pols probably won’t change their stance until they are standing in freezing glacier water up to their Yoo-Hoos.  Now that’s real numb nuts for you, the opposite of fiery fury but perhaps scarier.

Speaking of ice water, Rachel Maddow, an MSNBC commentator I particularly like, did the water bucket thing—you know, where you accept a challenge to allow a bucket of freezing ice water to be dumped over your head in exchange for a donation to one of your charities. I’m all in favor of giving, but I’m not sure self-flagellation with ice water makes my charity more worthy. It does make the dumpee more human, though, at least for that moment, and maybe that’s the appeal.

In the blog last week I promised a story in the podcast about Linda Ronstadt “maybe” being the first person I ever played on the air, and I forgot to do that. But there will be that and oh so much more, including a few words about Bob Rivers, B.J.  Shea, and Mark Zuckerberg, in this week’s get together on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there and give a listen.

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8Aug

Lucid Moments

I was having a lucid moment this morning.  Going lucid by yourself is not a good idea because you can never be sure about the reality of it at all, so a guide into lucidity is always recommended.

In those early morning hours, just after waking and the sun is not quite up yet, you can see lucid in the sky with her telescope and parasol. So you lie there all alone, it’s summer, the windows are open, you can hear the birds singing, softly in the distance at first, a song you’ve heard before, as the singing becomes a little louder, yes, singing birds in the morning, yes, there it is, The Byrds, singing something about being born not to follow.

As I said, I was having this moment of lucidity, and then I remembered that Heidi Klum’s house is on the market for $25 million, and I thought to myself I would not pay that for her house, even if I had the money, not even if Heidi Klum went with it. It was at that time I realized I had slipped back in to lucidity, maybe? I could not be sure without my Native American guide, Brave Tune, who is away writing a song about Ted Nugent called “I’d like to stick my arrow in your nuggets, Nugent,” this after he called Native Americans vermin and less than human.

I learned last week 33-year-old supermodel Gisele Bundchen earned a whopping $47 million in 2013, according to Forbes Magazine, which the New York Post broke down to $128,000 a day, or $5,333 per hour! Life is so much fun in America.

Oops, lucid again, and no diamonds, not even on the soles of my shoes. In November 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 16% of the population lived in poverty, including almost 20% of American children. Guess they will not be able to afford to see an L.A. Clippers game (I’m glad Donald Sterling is history!) or a Rolling Stones concert. Something hurts about this vision.

To end on a happy note, happy birthday to Mick “let no moss grow on me, Rolling Stone” Jagger. The skinny kid with the big talent turned 71 on July 26. I wish I had moves like Jagger, and I hope he rocks till he drops somewhere around age 100.

In the favorite female category, I have to admit it’s always been a neck-and-“necking” competition between Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. Linda was born July 15, 1946, and is now unable to sing because of Parkinson's disease, but she told her own story in her recently published memoir Simple Dreams. Linda Ronstadt was possibly one of the first people I played on the air (and I’ll explain that possibly in the podcast). Happy Birthday to Linda Ronstadt.

There’s more on Big Money, birthdays, Rock and Roll, and highlifes and lowlifes in the podcast. Grab a piece of driftwood and take a seat.


respond by email www.ramblingharbor@creative-treehouse.com

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27Jul

Strange Days and Punks for Salvation

My mind sometimes befuddles me. I don’t know why I think the things I do, but I think them anyway. Here are a few from the past week.

In 1980, poet and punk musician Jim Carroll wrote “People Who Died,” which was on his album Catholic Boy.  Ironically, the song could have been titled “People Who Died  in July,” including punk rocker Tommy Ramone, who wrote a song called “Too Tough To Die.” It still bothers me, as I said in last week’s blog, that his death went largely unnoticed, as did the passing of Johnny Winter and Muddy Waters.

As the list grows on, here’s another name for you: Dick Jones. You probably wouldn’t know him if he were sitting next to you, but you have heard his voice many times. Dick Jones was the voice of Pinocchio, and he died on July 7. James Garner, the “Tall Dark Stranger” named Maverick, died July 19.

Under “Man, is that a strange day, indeed,” we can post that a pine tree, planted near L.A.'s Griffith Observatory in 2004 in honor of George Harrison, was killed by his band's namesake insect. The Beatle's memorial tree was killed by beetles! Harrison's pine had grown to more than 10 feet tall by 2013, and the good news is the tree will be replaced, time and place to be announced.

In other bizarre and unexplained news, Russia seems to be sinking. Russian scientists conducted a primary examination of a giant sinkhole in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. There was no dangerous radiation detected on the site, and the scientists, who arrived to examine the sinkhole on the instructions of the regional governor, said it appeared “as a result of a natural phenomenon, the nature of which is impossible to establish yet.” Personally, I’m expecting the four horseman of the apocalypse to burst out of there in a frenzy of flaming glory and head directly to the Westboro Baptist Church, consisting of a collection of hate-mongering protesters who have targeted everyone from the singer Lorde to Brad Paisley, of all people. Recently this bunch of ghoulish protesters met their match with a bunch of punks. They planned on protesting at a “Panic! At The Disco” concert, announcing plans to picket the pop-punk band's Sunday night show in Kansas City, Missouri, but Brendon Urie of the group retaliated. He said that for every member of the Westboro church who showed up he would donate $20 to the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization, working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality at home, at work, and in the community. Brendon said, “This is pretty much the perfect way to render the protesters' hateful intentions useless” and would actually be useful and raise money for a good cause.

In the podcast, you’ll hear a few minutes about Ted Nugent as well as other topics. Come on shore and give a listen.

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