Sunday, November 25, 2012

Arlo Gutherie and Pete Seeger at Carnegie Hall

One of my goals has been to see Pete Seeger live.  The man is 93 and I assumed I missed my goal last summer, since I read that he retired from performing.  Not the case.  Last night he played with Arlo Guthrie and family at Carnegie Hall for the annual thanksgiving concert.  I headed into the city and parked the car around the corner from the historic venue, made my way up the sidewalks in the dark and cold gusty winds, under the scaffolding and past two women begging, past the tour bus – which I assume is Mr. Guthrie’s and inside the lobby.   Before I checked in an older woman asked if I had an extra ticket.  I was surprised she was as bold as to ask me.  No, I am sorry.  I went in and had a beer in the lounge and then up to my seat.  I had a seat in the first tier which is the first section above the stage.  Typically I sit in God’s seats, high and far back from the stage, removed to a distance that it’s difficult to distinguish who is performing.  Not from the seat I had last night.  This could have been the first and last time I saw Mr.  Seeger.  I paid more for the ticket, but it was worth it.  In this prestigious section, you can check into your seat through a door, can hang your jacket on hooks and feel eerily like Lincoln must have felt that night at Ford’s theater before the fatal shot.  I was not sure what to expect.  Would Mr. Seeger come out in the middle of the performance for a couple of songs?  Perhaps an acoustic guitar and banjo set?  Not at all, he was there from the beginning and right to the end when they sang Good Night Irene.  One of the highlights for me was his stories, reminiscing when he wrote, Turn Turn Turn, and how there were some additional verses not recorded that were for his children.  The crowd sang along when Pete extended his hands to the audience, and like a teacher he called out what the verses were, and we sang and the songs filled the auditorium.  It was a beautiful experience and one I have not shared before.  I felt we were at a camp fire.  Mr. Gutherie commented that this year his father would have turned 100 years old and for the majority of the set they played Woody Guthrie songs, 1913 Massacre which he always has to play when he is in Michigan, This Land is Your Land, and many others.  The stage was shared between the American legends as well as the audience.  Recently Mr. Guthrie lost his wife Jackie to cancer and he reminisced when he saw her for the first time, he had just moved to California to stay with Rambling Jack Eliot and he saw her riding a horse in a local radio. She didn’t notice him that night and Jack gave him something to drink away the loss.  The next day he wrote the song and happened to meet her a couple of years later.  It was a beautiful song.  After the song was over, Arlo was stoic on his stool with his guitar in his lap.  I watched his daughters walk back to their positions on the stage while wiping tears from their eyes.                                                                                                                                         

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hey WBAB, Time to Play Some New Music!

Changed my car's radio settings from WBAB a radio station that is locked into music from 1983.  Serving Long Island for more than 35 years - BAB plays the same tired and worn out picks from 35 years ago.  It’s the only station that plays Zebra, who else plays this band?  Their playlist is predictable - Van Halen, AC/DC,  Billy Squier, Motley Crue, Posion, ZZ Top, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Guns n Roses,  Ozzy, the same freakin Pink Floyd song at least four times in any single day and a few of the other rare eighties - cheesy bands - from the heavy metal days of old.  Each band made some great music and I like to hear them once in awhile.  Not all day and all night when I'm stuck in rush hour traffic on the LIE.  I sincerely hope this station wakes up one day and realizes many Long Islanders in their advanced and wise ages have moved onto other bands.  We are all older and more important - more diverse and don’t have to listen to the same songs when we were teens.  Back then we got in trouble, did hideous things we can't tell our kids or for a many BAB listeners can't tell our grand kids.  New music for WBAB is The Police and U2 and the elusive Pearl Jam.  There is another station on the radio and it's gaining listeners on Long Island - The Shark 94.3 out of Smithtown.  They mix Black Sabbath with STP, Black Keys, Offspring, Metallica and Foo Fighters.  That is a mix.  Notice there was no Zebra in the playlist because the band had one hit in 1983, Tell Me What You Want.   I will tell you WBAB, I want a radio station that evolves with the times…if I want oldies I can listen to WCBS…time to make some changes in Babylon. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thoughts as the hurricane struck Long Island

10/30/12 16:30 writing this in the minivan while the laptop charges.

Last night I could feel the walls shudder, the floor shook as the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy hit us.  There were strong gusts.  Watching the wind break through the bushes and trees was like a monster ripping out of its hiding, and coming in to attack.  I understand parts of Port Jefferson have flooded, lower Manhattan was flooded as a convergence of the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean crested over sea walls.  We have no lights.  Most of Long Island are without lights and the sense to get cash was right though we have little of it on us.  I bought two bags of ice and a six pack of Brooklyn’s Summer Ale.  How can I keep the beer cool without a refrigerator?  I guess it’s time to drink.  We spent $23.50 and had to ask for the change.  I gave Emma Tess a driving lesson today since there is really nothing left to do.  I took a nap out of boredom.  We tried to go for a drive, but the traffic lights are out.  The police blocked off 112.  Ali is in the minivan, she’s listening to the radio.  Earlier we listened to Governor Coumo describe that 90% of the LIPA customers are without power.  It may take up to 10 ten days to restore.  What about the house?  There is little damage to the house, one of the light bulbs that lit the back yard broke and a piece of siding pulled off.  This hurricane is unprecedented.  Gary Conte from the National Weather Service said, “Sandy changed our coastline.”  Inside our house, the kids are going stir crazy, they are fighting amidst the games.  Their schools are closed.  There is little to do except to make up games and fight.  I know we should be grateful for God, the fact we have this minivan with plugs is a blessing, we are not completely out of power.   And yet we are so accustomed to the daily comforts of our possessions, this is not a time for a soap box soliloquy.  The concept that we are reminded in times like these - we are blessed - will become old.  But it's true, we are fine, we are alive and are grateful.  I want to enjoy the moment and the daylight since I can read as much as possible, but I know night is coming.  Night brings silence and rest from this scorched earth.  Besides the power flicked on a couple of times inside the house.  Bring it back!

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