Sunday, February 7, 2016

Moving our daughter into her first apartment in a city far away

08:51 Woburn, MA

Yesterday, three of us packed the minivan in the morning, stopped for breakfast at McDonalds and took the ferry to Bridgeport. The minivan was packed with Amanda’s clothes, posters, small furniture since Ali and I were moving her into her first apartment.  While sailing over, Ali helped with a sales report since I could not find my reading glasses, but after she sent the report, I found them to my relief.  We stopped at a Cracker Barrel just past the Massachusetts border.  Overall the ride was uneventful.   Traffic flowed, I could barely see through the rear view window, but kept my eye out for a trooper since I was hitting 80 on the highway. I listened to classic rock and Ali dozed off for a good twenty minutes since she was up till 0100 talking to Mo Cheeks.  We pulled off at the Cambridge exit and took narrow roads, lefts and rights and then we pulled up in front to the house where my daughter will call home for a few months.  The landlady was young, and showed us inside the house.  It was very spacious and yet bare.  Amanda would be able to use the living room and of course the kitchen.  Then we took the stairs, which were two flights and then up another steep set that would be a challenge for a swearing mountain climber.  The stairs led to where her apartment is.  It’s a converted attic and yet roomy.  There are two rooms which were modestly furnished.  We unpacked the minivan.  Even the landlady helped us move her things.  Getting a bulky and hefty box up the steep steps was an adventure; yes that what it was.  While Ali assisted Mo Cheeks putting together a dresser, I sat in the living room as the sun was setting and read a book by Zen master Jack Kornfield.   Amanda’s friend came over and soon after I took a walk to take in the neighborhood which is close to Harvard.  Earlier, a family strolled by and we smiled to each other, they were pushing a baby in a cart.  In fact we saw a lot of young families last night and before you think it I will say it, time moves swiftly.  Years ago when we lived in Northport, I'd push Amanda in the stroller down to the village and into the park.  She loved the swings.  Reading Kornfield was a gracious blessing, since there are nourishing lessons, such as; live in the present.  I can’t say I was emotional last night.  Not to say I want Amanda to live away from us.   But I know how eager she is to create the life she wants.  When I came home from our sales meeting this past Friday, I was greeted by some hugs, but what I loved was seeing the four kids, our youngest who is now a teenager, sitting together on the sofa watching a movie they could agree on.  I’m grateful they are very close to each other and I know in two weeks we will be back in Boston and perhaps can see the changes Amanda has made in her new place and learn about her job and the experiences of being a young motivated woman in Boston.  I hope she can appreciate this time in her life since this freedom can be fleeting.  Enjoy the adventure.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

50 Year Old Starts a New Job

1/22/16 08:52 on the train to NYC

I’m taking the train into the city to meet with a prospective client.  There are others around me on the peak train out of Ronkonkoma.  It’s my first sales meeting in the city…ever.  I started a new job this year. If you work in sales you might be thinking, so what.  We move around.  It’s something we need to do, we move on to bigger and better opportunities.  But I worked for the same company for twenty years and starting a new job is daunting.  There are new services to learn, new managers, different personalities, new office politics, well thank God I work from home. 

More than twenty years ago, during my interview at World Courier, I said I was looking for a company to commit to and I wanted that company to commit to me.  I made an impression, and I was serious, this wasn’t some kind of interview pitch.  I had an infant at home, rent and expenses and money was tight.  I could tell I made an impression when the President at that time, John Wagner waved in his secretary who had something to share.  She mentioned what time the company’s Christmas party can start.  John looked at me and invited me to attend, which I accepted.  
Back on this train.  With World Courier there was the comfort, meaning I know what to expect day in and day out. There are employees at World Courier who started out at drivers and moved up the chain to become executives, even today.  I started as a customer service representative, working 1700 to 0100 at the “old” office on Guy R Brewer near JFK.  I was only there for a couple of months, till we moved to where they are still located in New Hyde Park.   Throughout the early years I knew I wanted to get into sales and I was told there was a position, but that opportunity did not come about.  I was promoted within, since I proved I was a reliable employee who was serious about making logistics a career.  I took a dangerous goods course at our office...while I was on vacation.  It was the only opportunity to get certified for free.  I signed up for custom brokerage classes and would drive into JFK two nights a week and received a certificate.  One of our brokers, suggested I could earn a decent salary if I became a custom's broker, so I pursued that. I was promoted to a supervisor and was given more responsibilities as well as beeper and eventually I was offered a sales position.  

The first lesson in sales, I needed know I had to make calls and sell - instead of waiting for the phone to ring.  It was an easy thing for me since I worked at a stock brokerage house a few years before - making hundreds of calls a day.  I love cold calling, braking new business and within a short amount of time I was recognized and asked if I could train new sales staff on cold calling.  
I will miss my former coworkers, who were good friends and for some were like family.  I could count on them when I needed an extra hand. We had each other’s backs and we looked out for one another.  We shared some painful memories, 9/11 stands out.  Seeing the billowing smoke from New York City as fighter jets ripped over us in the sky.  Hearing of JFK’s Jr’s plane that went missing, the moment the news broke that Princess Diana was killed.  The devastation from hurricane Sandy across the area.  Walking around the neighborhood in New Hyde Park and seeing massive trees which was toppled over and had smashed into a house. The sad memories when we learned a co-worker had passed.  There was a driver who told me, take pride in your signature since that represents you.  Don’t make it sloppy.  He died on the operating table.  Dan Byriter, as well as John Wagner and a few others.  There were happy memories, the bets I would make with Joe Vitale anytime the Red Sox and Yankees had a series. The cherished memories, for instance I was training when Ali called me to tell me she was expecting our second, Emma Tess who was born in August that year.  The parties, the drinks and the characters and friends who invited us into their homes.

We grew up together, saw some great concerts and went to different baseball games, like opening day at Shea Stadium, taking the ferry to Bridgeport to watch the Long Island Ducks play the Bridgeport Bluefish, the 2000 World Series.  Hockey games, readings, plays. I have some great memories and yet I knew it was time to move on...  While I was weighing the opportunity and trying to figure out if I should leave, it was Ali who motivated me.  She reminded me that in the past couple of years - I was not happy working there.  Really?  I was that vocal?  Yes. 

Last October, I received a call from my client who wanted to know if I was interested in an opening with his company, Sharp Clinical.  I trust Dan very much and everything…eventually fell into place.  I went on interviews which I felt they were encouraging, and I seemed to get along with everyone I met.  But, by middle of the following week, when there was no call, I was getting anxious. Perhaps, I was no longer a viable candidate?  I called Ali while I was driving home after a meeting and asked her what should I do?  She said give it a couple of more hours; if they don’t call by four, then call them.  Then I realized, and I told her, I didn’t put it in God’s hands.  I know what some of you are thinking. Go ahead and wince in pain - you heathens.  I said I love you to my wife and we hung up.  Not three minutes later, my phone rung and it was Sharp Clinical…offering me a job.

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Foghat storms back to Strong Island

We came out to celebrate the first annual holiday party for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame at Mulcahy’s in Wantagh.  It was a modest crowd which surprised me.  I expected more fans especially since Foghat has strong Long Island roots. It’s a tough time to get a crowd with holiday parties, Christmas budgets, and more important their fans are getting older. I should have called the venue to check when Foghat came on the stage, then again I would have missed the incredible bluesman Kerry Kearney and his band.  After they left the stage I painfully endured an hour of the posing Vince Martell (vanilla fudge fame) and his band of brothers.  You could have grabbed any bar band in any dive across the island and they would have played better.  That said, thank you gentlemen for your service to this country, but hey you clowns have to admit Kerry should have played before Foghat; it would have made an excellent transition.  Let’s move on… Fingerz from WBAB introduced Foghat and referred to an interview he had with Roger Earl, the drummer for Foghat which I recommend listening to.  Fingerz handled the interview very well.  

The music stopped.  The lights dimmed enough for our old eyes to make out ghostly shadows which approached from the side.  It was the moment we waited for.  It was Foghat.  Our ears were tuned to the sounds of the slide guitar.  The crowd, I counted a couple hundred or so in Mulcahy’s which is in Wantagh suddenly rose up.  Yes, the old buzzed fans slowly surged closer and the band kicked it into gear, their first song? Fool for the City.  I had to put down my beer and get in for some pictures.  I have never seen Foghat and this was one of those gigs I had to take in for posterity. 

Let me explain, when I was a kid, Foghat was one band I was told I needed to listen to by the older kids on my block. These kids were tough, they drank beer and smoked cigarettes and pot and they were just cool with their bell bottom pants, clogs, and leather bracelets which were stamped with their names.  The girls wrote in bubble letters and the boys parted their hair in the middle and had pimples on their peach fuzzed chins.  There was loud music blaring from homemade, poorly wired speakers from trucks and open windows, Ted Nugent, Steve Miller band, Farah Fawcett posters (if your ma let you hang one up) and the sleek Trans Am, preferably in black - with the gold bird spread out on the hood of the car and of course you idiot - you had to have the gold rims.  This was the life of the Bellecrest Bums.  All of those incredible perks of the decade which…when consolidated…created an energy which erupted into fits of puberty.   So here’s the deal (1978) I was brought into Freddy Petersdorf’s house and told to sit down and just listen…Freddy spitted out, “This was real music.”  He always had white spit in the corners of his mouth and had gapped front teeth.  He pulled out the albums from the sleeve and placed them on the turntable.   He told me in strict confidence and in secret, these were special albums.  They belonged to his older brother.  Freddy's brother (Hank) was even cooler than the cool kids on the block since he didn’t say a word to any of us…we were just kids and he was really old...almost twenty.  He smirked at us and shook his head and smoked his Marlboros as if we pissed him off.   The needle popped onto the album.   I waited and tap…tap… listened…a wave radiated from the speakers. This was rock and now it’s referred to something called classic rock, but I don’t care about any of that, I am sorry for getting off the topic since I was that kid again when Foghat was on the stage and taking in the music and even caught a couple of beat up drum sticks which were tossed to the crowd.  They played, their first hit, "I just wanna make love to you" and "Stone Blue," do yourself a favor when you're bummed out or down and listen to that song. It will get you back to your feet.  

Roger Earl is the last original member of the band.  He plays with Bryan Bassett who played Wild Cherry (Play that Funky Music) and Molly Hatchett. Charlie Huhn sang lead and was the ultimate professional long blonde rock star dashing from one side to the stage to the other and having a great time, tossing guitar picks to the adoring crowd.  Charlie actually sang for Ted Nugent back in his weekend warrior’s days.  The bassist was a local Long Island kid who I’m sorry did not get his name though he looked familiar.  The kid did a damn a good job.

Slow Ride was the last song on their set and after that Foghat shook hands with a few of us and they walked off and that was it…

Randy Jackson of Zebra fame held the court for a midnight jam session…Vince joined him for a couple of Beetles tunes and I walked out thinking it was late and put down my drum sticks and Foghat t-shirt and tuned the dial to WBAB and drove on into the night.

Thank you for reading this.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Zebra drags their old fans into Patchogue for a 40th anniversary concert

Other than Randy Jackson I cannot tell you who else plays in the rock band…Zebra.  Randy is our adopted rock n roll elder star. I can only assume he has lived on Long Island for more than thirty years.  He has played in many venues…all sizes…throughout the island.   I’ve seen him years ago at an Islander home opener, but was more excited to see Joan Jett who came onto the stage after Randy.  She looked incredible and kicked Randy’s ass.  But this is not a competitive essay.  No, this is just a few thoughts which occurred while I watched Zebra who celebrated their 40th anniversary at the Patchogue theater.  

You may be wondering out there, what would possess me to see Zebra? It was the night before Thanksgiving and tickets were cheap.  I have written about them in this blog, more specifically when I wrote about WBAB and how they may be the only station who plays Zebra.  I walked into the lobby in the theater and waited to buy a ticket.  A stranger walked up to me and said, “Looking for a ticket?”  I looked at him, “I was going to buy a nose bleed.”  Here come with me he said and pulls out some tickets.  For $20 I sat ten rows from the stage.  Who cares, it’s Zebra.  

But first a little background. I remember when I was in high school and spent my lunch breaks playing music in our intercom, but we referred to it as WNPT.  I would generally play the music I liked (New Age & Punk) and would ignore the metal heads although one show which I had was the Mike and Mike show.  Mike Abrahamson who I understand had passed years ago (RIP Mike) and he would play metal and I would play my music.  It was a popular show.  We had requests and one of the bands which was frequently requested was Zebra.  Tell me what you want, was the one song we would cave in and play.  Maybe it was their other hit, whose behind the door.  I was not a fan.  

The Zebra story is an example of hard work and being tenacious as well as having a legion of fans who came out that night in Pathchogue.  I will add they are a talented group.  Randy had mentioned during the concert that he was grateful for their fans who came out regularly to see them in the clubs before they had a record. He mentioned Hammerheads which was a club on Long Island as well as other clubs.  He mentioned former managers as well as the one an only DJ on Long Island at that time: Bob Buchmann from WBAB.  It was Bob who influenced Atlantic Records to sign them.  The fans cheered.  One drunk yelled out, We love Zebra and the bass player non nonchalantly mumbled in his mic, we love… Long Island.  Oh, such sincerity.  The rock stars recognized their fans.  The fans cheered and Zebra in the middle aged splendor and dare I say spandex...rocked...on.   

I’m curious what kind of fans Randy brings out when he plays at the small venues on Long Island.  I think most of his fans were inside the theater that night, although their faces were older and hair thinner more wrinkles and heavier, some acted as if they were still 16.  Trying to sneak beers in.  I saw one idiot get kicked out after he was warned a few times.   

This was the WBAB crowd who hated new wave music and would rarely go into the foreboding Manhattan, well maybe to see Rockafella Centa.  

So what did the rock band do?  How did they make it?  They played to the audience where their audience lived.  The music sounded the same.  There was the drum solo and guitar solos, the acoustic set, the poses, the rock stars were under the lights.  For moments during the show, if you closed your eyes you might have been able to pretend you too were back in 1983...the music sounded sharp and Randy was...Randy, but more important the beers you sucked down that night did not have an effect on your expanding belly or your round buttocks.

Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pursuing autumn

Where have you been?  I’ve been here thinking of where to start.

Yesterday, the last day of August we were all on the beach together. It was an occasion I wanted to accomplish before the end of summer.  To bring down a couple of pizza’s and soda, eat, go for a swim and watch the sunset.   Last night, while a motorcycle faded into the distance and what few souls were left in the water a band played a Stevie Ray Vaughn song at the bar.  Intoxicated minds and sun burnt shoulders drifted back to when the music was better and their faces were thinner.  We accepted this was the last time for a swim.  I still wrestle with the idea.  There will be days when I may finish work early enough to go for a swim and yet the days are getting shorter and the early days will become early evenings when the stars glimmer – when just a short while ago - it was light enough to have a catch in the back yard.  Tonight, Joe and Bella are getting ready for their first day of school.  Amanda is back in Boston and Emma Tess is back at Hofstra.  This will be the last semester for Amanda and Ali – both are graduating.  This is the first year for Emma Tess as she pursues a veterinary degree or premed or as I’ve been praying: Lord provides the child with some extra muscles for her heavy books.  Joe begins high school as a ninth grader and Bella will be in middle school as a seventh grader.  I will be taking classes this fall as I pursue my masters…and we move into another season…all together.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Scofflaws played Ska in Setauket near sheep

The Scofflaws played in Setauket on Friday Night (7/10) at Benner’s Farm.   Parking was very easy and I was surprised with the number of vehicles, it was evident there was a crowd. I was impressed with the sound system as well as the raised and well lit stage which was set up next to one of the sheep stables.   There were food trucks as well as an ice cream truck.  It was a reasonable $10.00 to get in.  Yet, I needed a beach chair or blanket. Maybe I should keep one in my trunk for these summer shows?  With five kids dancing in the grass as the sun was setting and families on lawn chairs and virtually no one...dancing the show was...different. Being alone, I was a little out of place.  When you see The Scofflaws everyone should be up and having a good time.  Even some of the sheep cried out.  It was also a clean show.  Their song Paul Getty which normally has an angry anthem at the end…was…tame.    Typically, you would hear some lines like, “Got any ganja?  You know what I told him (The boss) Eat Shit.  This is my mantra, work sucks!”  None of the angst was there expect for a slide slip of sensamilia…I was also disappointed with their song, Till the End of Time.  I think Sammy was just going through the motions.  He jived a little, but he did not have the balls to get the crowd up and moving.  The positive, was that their trombone player, Jared Dubin was there, he fills out their sound.  Hats off to the talented Brian Duggan who kept the rhythm section tight.

So why did I go?  I went for the prime reason, it was The Scofflaws and the show was close to my house.  I did not stay to the end of the second set.  The kids were playing with beach balls that glowed in the dark.  That was cool.  The stars were out, very nice.  The adults for the most part were sitting in their chairs and clapped and occasionally hooted, which was a little disappointing.  Two thick bugs flew in my eyes and blinded me.  I could feel the blood sucking mosquitoes were getting a good pint out of me.  Time to go…till the next time…and remember when The Scofflaws announce family fun on their Facebook page...I just might skip it...

Thank you for reading this.

Ravi Coltrane plays in Huntington, a review


We arrived from California just after midnight.  On Saturday, while we were packing up I read Ravi Coltrane was giving a free concert on Sunday (7/5) in Huntington.  He was also going to be interviewed by a DJ from Hofstra.  This event was to kick off a proposed annual event, John Coltrane Day in Huntington.  It was also a fund raiser for the Coltrane Home foundation which is trying to raise funds to refurbish the house where John Coltrane lived and composed for the last years of his young life.  He was only 40 when he passed in 1967.  This is the house where he wrote the classic and influential A Love Supreme.  There are details on the house on the web site:

From what I understand Ravi has played in Huntington previously, but I am waiting for more details.  I’ve seen Ravi Coltrane previously, performing at the Blue Note, Iridium, Lincoln Center as well at his mother’s memorial at St. John the Divine.   This was one of those shows I would be kicking myself if I didn’t attend.   Even Ali said I should go.  Off I went with my head still in the clouds and a little jet lagged.  I found a spot on the hill, sloping towards the stage and in the back.  I could have sat closer.  There are rules to these concerts I learned.  No beach chairs in front of the stage, only blankets.  Since I had neither, I could have propped down stage center. 

Before long more people were staking out their places, some had candles in glass cups. One couple had a small hibachi with a small flame.  There was a crowd.  As dusk fell on us I saw a drone which at first I thought was a bird fly over the park and then fly back to where it originated.   The device was pretty cool and I have to admit I’d like to get one.  Why?  It’s a cool toy.  Fire flies dotted the dark.  Children were playing in the park. Sparse couples sauntered around the pond as Ravi Coltrane’s quartet played.  It was a cool summer night to spend under the Huntington sky....listening to jazz.

The interview was sort of bland, the DJ said he was nervous, but Ravi made a memorable remark about his birth at Huntington Hospital. “The doctors botched up my circumcision. I really need to speak to them.”  He discussed growing up in California, “My mother was an Ashram and my father was a jazz legend.”  As well as the influence John Coltrane has on jazz. 

The Ravi Coltrane Quartet:  featured Glenn Zaleski, piano, Joshua Crumbly, bass and Kush Abeday, drums. This quartet is different and new and as Ravi explained, “young.”   Still, this brief show displayed their immense talents. Yet, I am curious why Ravi would not play one of his originals?  He is a Grammy nominated artist...

The following is a play list:

My Lady, by John Coltrane
Who wants Ice Cream, by Ralph Alessi
I’m old fashioned, by Jerome Kern
Nothing Like You, by Bob Dorough
Lush Life, by Billy Strayhorn

A Love Supreme, part two resolution by John Coltrane

Thank you for reading this.