Monday, June 30, 2014

Clinton Kelly, Comsewogue alum gives an incredible speech to graduating class of 2014

6/30/14 17:21

Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  The event came at a time when Emma Tess our second oldest just graduated high school.  The graduation and party held our attention for the past few weeks.  Saturday we had a large rented tent in the back yard.  Family and friends from the neighborhood and schools joined us at the house in the celebration for Emma Tess.  Two years prior it was Amanda’s graduation. Yet Emma’s was different.  Her class was different; they were supportive of one another which were the general theme in many of the speeches.  I have to believe it.  I watched the class jesters and others participate in tossing beach balls, tennis balls until they were confiscated by security who were begging them to give up their toys; the antics were an entertaining break from the sincere speeches, but how many can honestly state; I didn’t prepare anything.  They didn’t need anything or so they thought.  A ball is smacked.  Young men and woman suddenly acted their age – you are teenagers (or I assume you are) be young.  Have fun.  The stoic faces broke out in smiles - which was a relief.  Many of them appeared older, wiser, and I dare make the bold statement – they were confident.  It seemed like nothing was going to stop them.  They took their diplomas, took their pictures, took off their caps and tossed them in the air and we watched the caps twist under the faint blue sky.  Some of us snapped pictures and listened to the applause for their children or grandchildren or their parolees.  Emma Tess graduated high school.  The little girl who’d I wrestle with.  Back then she had a lisp when her front teeth were missing and she’d say, “Give me a sound beating.”  This is the girl, who told us, she never wanted to grow up.  I feel sorry for her and will ask if she feels the same way, do you regret getting older? I know she’s excited about Hofstra. Look at it this way, instead of focusing on the past - passing by - think of the hope which lies in the future.  There are so many possibilities.  The dreams we heard in the speeches - follow them; pursue that dream.  Be driven by passion.  Love what you are doing since you may be doing something for forty years.  Yikes that’s intimidating and if faced with the objective, most of us would cower.  Take it one day at a time.  Clinton Kelly, the star celebrity - a graduate from Comsewogue High School gave the graduating class a speech, what the hell do you refer to the keynote speech as?  The keynote speech.  He was incredible and entertaining and kept popping in nuggets of wisdom – this is what said this which I copied from his Facebook page and it’s perfect; The energy you spend with your head in the past will never get you closer to the future you dream for yourself.


Thank you for reading this



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Flying back from San Diego in the night and I can see lightning in the distance!

6/22/14 23:00

Taking the red eye back from San Diego was supposed to be fairly easy.  On the way to the airport I saw a flight attendant and asked her, what’s it like there?  She thought I meant Dallas, where she comes from.  No, I meant, what’s it like 35,000 feet above this glorious country of ours.  She looked at me like I had two heads.  I have to admit, the in-flight turbulence is not making my flying experiences any better.  I know what you’re thinking (it’s safe up there) but let me explain what happened.  In this blog I wrote about flying back from Tampa a few years ago when I made a connection.  The flight had so much turbulence, the pilot asked the flight attendants to stay seated for their safety.  That flight wrecked my nerves so since then, I have not been the smooth operator, passenger.  Let me share this.  I was in San Diego for a trade show. One of my colleagues tells me when she flew to New York the President was landing at JFK and all the incoming traffic was diverted up North and while they were diverted the jet hit some serious turbulence and they dropped, you know (she tells me) like when you drop in an elevator and your stomach heaves up?  You know?  I felt like sticking my fingers in my ears and telling her, “I don’t hear you….I can’t hear you…you can’t make me listen…”  shit…stop.  Then a client tells me, “Once I flew back to Philly and all the way over, it was so, smooth… smooth as it can be…that was till we hit the tri-state area and bam! A hail storm, the plane in front of us was hit so hard by hail a panel in their windshield cracked open.  Imagine that?”  No. I don’t imagine that or want to.  Then he tells me, he’s flying back the day after me and the area is supposed to be hit with thunder storms.  So, what do I do?  I check the weather.  New York is supposed to get hit with a storm on Friday – I land on Thursday morning.   I’m safe.  Right? I check in and take my seat and chat to the guy next to me who also exhibited at the same conference.  Yeah, great….then I hear the metallic voice crack over head from the speaker, I felt like telling the guy next to me to shut up. The captain is speaking… the one voice who I really want to hear who will tell us what we can expect on this passage through the skies.  “This is the red eye as some travelers call this flight, so I expect most of you will be resting for most of the flight. “  I thought, you’re not going to sleep?  Right captain?  You can't sleep, so what's keeping you awake? “We expect a smooth flight till we get close to Chicago which might give us some bumps, and I might make an announcement to fasten the seat-belts.”  What do you mean, I might?  That was all I needed to hear.  I knew it meant we are going to hit rough weather. I calculated two hours into the flight which should put us over ORD.  It will be 03:00 in New York and I hoped I was sleeping.  I was jacked up with nerves.  Dear friends, let me tell you what happened.  There was no sleep.  My slimy and greasy nose was pressed against the cool plastic window.  Sweat dripped down my back.  My legs shook as we approached…Chicago.  I kid you not.  This is what I saw.  Thick, chaotic and violent bolts of lightning burst from huge dark clouds.  I said a prayer as we began to rock and roll and shake and slide.  That was a storm.  That was more than just bumps you lying captain.  I was pissed.  You cannot fool me.  So I get up.  I am too nervous to sit and I am panicking.  I walk back to the jet and ask the attendant who was sitting there…I ask for water.  The bottles are small and I downed it.  Can I have another?  I confided to the woman who was playing a game on her computer before I came and disturbed her and who - may I add- was oblivious to the turbulence or the storm.  Like a small child, I whined to her.  I did.  I admit it.  “There’s lightening - out there.”  Really?  Well, it’s not dangerous to fly in it.  I think.  That’s what she says to me.  It hurt my nerves when she said, I think. It meant she did not know.  The water I drank quickly became sweat on my back and I walked down the aisle and used the bathroom on the other end.  The flight attendant, an African American male who announced earlier before take-off what we need to do in case of an emergency looked like he was nervous.  There, I told you.  This shit is real.  Right?  No, he plays it off.  “We’re on schedule and will be in New York in an hour and a half.”  I take my seat with my trembling legs and look outside at the darkness.  Above the clouds, the stars are present in their places in heaven.  We fly on.  Eventually, like some bad times in our lives – we get passed the storms and past the distractions and the nerves are drained and we learn how to cope.  Breathe.  I seep into a sleep… till the shakes woke me again.


 Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A review of Henry Rollins' Before the Chop

6/14/14 08:38

“I write this to you because at this moment, this is the entire world and everything I know.”  Henry Rollins 2/2/12 Antwerp Belgium

This morning I finished Henry Rollins’ Before the Chop, LA Weekly Articles 2011-2012.  It is published on his press 2.13.61.  Last year, I bought a signed copy from his web site, http://henryrollins.com.   Signed copies are still available, unlike his new book which sold out quickly of the limited edition (1,500) signed and numbered.  A Grim Detail.   
Before the Chop consists of the original versions of articles which were published in LA Weekly.  The weekly is the ubiquitous undergound LA publication and the editors made edits (chops) and shortened the originals; which makes this book a mandatory for his die-hard readers.  The work captures Rollins at his rawest and shares the insights of his recent world travels, in cities and an venues as well as his ever changing moods. Don't take that the wrong way.  Let me clarify this by saying Mr. Rollins is an excellent reporter with a keen eye and a respect for his readers as well as his fans.  As with his previous books and spoken word performances, Rollins is intelligent, articulate and blunt.  As I read the book I felt like I was listening to him on a private tour.  In fact he was the tour guide.  I just wished the articles would continue, but like his real tour with 188 shows in 19 countries – this book concluded.  In fact the ending was an unpublished interview with Nick Cave.   
What can you expect when you read this book?  He shares his passion for music.  So let me say this here and now, if you are not a fan of rock, punk, jazz or any music in general - this book is not be for you.  And the theme of music is constant throughout which I had to remind myself was the sole reason for the articles.  Rollins shares his favorite bands, records, interviews, memories of being on tour with either Black Flag or the Rollins band as he prepared himself for a show in the city he was in.  There were some repetitious themes which can occur when you’re writing a weekly article on the music you love.  It is very clear, Mr. Rollins has an insatiable desire to see or hear, touch, taste, smell, Iggy Pop and The Stooges in mono or stereo, outtakes, wherever and whenever.  This is one reoccurring theme, and another is how essential music is for his escape from the world. “If I can’t have a stage to report to every night, I will drown my sorrows in a sea of tunes!”   Some choose alcohol or drugs or other means, Henry seeks solitude and a self-imposed perfection from his music.  He likes music a hell of a lot.  Being a Rollins reader and alright a fanatic, I feel he is fighting off the depression he wrote about in his earlier works, but that’s only my assumption.  “Several minutes later, I eat and evaluate the incredible emptiness I am feeling. The people at my shows are going to be done with me before I am done with them.  It’s going to be extremely hard to deal with the fact that it’s going to be over well before I am done.”  
So, perhaps the editing could have been tighter?  Stooges…Fun…House…Iggy…best…performer…stares at the audience.  Got it.  We will salute you Mr. Pop.  We will see Mr. Pop.  But I have listened to The Stooges based on Henry’s proclamations, and I agree: The Stooges capture/d the punk spirit.  In fact most of the bands he refers to are not to be ignored. Coltrane is another constant point, but I have to agree with this statement Rollins makes, “Just my opinion, but artistic expression is humanity at its best.  Science, technology, modern medicine are all of course fantastic- but when I put on a Coltrane album and can actually hear him push the air from his lungs into his horn to create that sound, the total and perfect humanity of that…I am unable to find the right words to express how much it moves me and what a miracle I find it to be.”  
Surprisingly, this reader was exposed more to the real Rollins, the confessional wordsmith which for legions of us, continues to gain our respect and admiration over the years.  Yet, as he moves forward seeking new bands and latching on to his favorites, he saw Dinosaur Jr. a number times in a year.  There is the lurking DC past which creeps up quite often.  Before I forget, the reason for all of the Dinosaur shows, Rollins interviewed the band on stage on a few dates.  For the record I saw the show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia with OFF! as an opening band.  So, Henry continues to tread in the past, going back to DC where he used to live and had the last “job” he held before joining Black Flag.  In this book, he shares the opportunity he had when he came across the new owner of the house he and his mother lived in when he was a teenager.  With sensory precision, holding the banister, he brings us back to the basement with the familiar scent and the marks in the wall that he an Ian Mackaye made when shooting a pellet gun more than 30 years before.   
But hold on a second, back in 84, I doubt Henry Rollins would print in Spin magazine his guilty pleasures. “With the advent of CD’s, that best of Kansas was one of the first purchases I made, along with some of Madonna’s albums.”  Also sharing his purchases of Duran Duran, Culture Club, Men at Work.  And he tells us IF WE have a problem with it…“Bite Me!”  I don’t have a problem with it.  I understand you love music and pretty much any music.  Well, in that case I lay claim to listening to and cherishing my Haircut 100 album.  Let’s move on.  Mr. Rollins craves music and collects albums as he treks across the world, he preaches the best sound is off the vinyl.  He collects a new album a day?  Did I read that right?
                “From an early age up to now, I am still awed by the completeness of sitting alone in a room, listening to music, somewhat isolated from the hot and bothered world.  It is a small, controllable and to a great extent, perfect place.”  Henry Rollins 8/23/13 Los Angeles, CA

                The articles continue on LA Weekly and Henry can be heard on the radio spinning his tunes for his fanatics as he refers to the audience.  You can listen in on KCRW on Sunday nights and take a lesson on all of the slam bam musical history and the joy he has in spinning the turntable and his deep knowledge.  

I also saw some dates in the future; let’s see if that means Henry will be back on tour?

Thank you for reading this.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Relay for Life in the NIGHT Port Jefferson Station

6/7/14 08:57

I woke up before 0600 and have accomplished nothing substantial.  The TV is on.  Bella is awake.  I administered her medicine which is a daily routine for us.  Every 12 hours she receives her 7.5 mg…last night she reminded me she needed her medicine.  I poured out her med in a small measuring cup, and pulled up the 7.5 mg in a syringe.   We left the event together.  Just the two of us.  She was unhappy that we left the Relay for Life rally before her friends and she said she does not like to feel different.  I tried to tell her no one can make her feel different, she has the power to change these thoughts, but having epilepsy can feel like you are ruled by the disease.  I respected her since she said, no one made her feel different –it was her.  She has incredible strength.  Overall we are very grateful.   She has not had an episode for over a year.   Yet, last night when she slept next to me I felt her body shaking and I thought the shakes were convulsions?  I don’t think so, but needed assurance from Ali when she came back from her all night Relay for Life at JFK Middle School.  She left a half hour ago to take a civil service exam.  She has amazing strength as well.  This is where my children get this incredible asset.  Most of us (me) would give in to the exhaustion and head to our beds, but not my wife.  The civil service tests are infrequent and she prepared herself for this day.  Going into last night’s event with the knowledge she will be up and have to be in the right state of mind to read and answer comprehensive questions.  There is a math portion which she took classes to prepare for.  My wife is committed.  Yesterday afternoon I arrived back home after being away since Tuesday.  There were a lot of emails to respond to and I was busy with business.  I like feeling I’m under the gun.  Bring it on.  But I felt Ali needed help setting up for the Relay.  I arrived at the school at 7 PM with the pillows and camera she asked for me to bring.  I found our tent and area and kissed Diana and saw Ali who wore her sun glasses and was motivated for this night.  Being a cancer survivor and sharing her story – there is an entry I posted in the blog which Ali wrote and shared to our church – is becoming more common with the advent of potent oncological pharmaceuticals and intensive research.  My mother-in-law (Diana) also is a survivor after months of treatment for skin cancer…growing up under the Florida sun.  There were hundreds of people there.  There was an amazing rendition of the National anthem by one of our high school students.  There were kids playing Frisbee, tossing a football, selling carnations, cupcakes, and bracelets –all to raise funds.  There was a sighting of a moon.  I have not seen one in decades.  A slow black Suburban of something like it – was honking its horn and when we cheered back to it - we were struck at the site of a white ass blazing out of a rear window…get it… rear window.  My mother in-law laughed – she has a great sense of humor and both felt the same, we have not seen a moon in years.  “I thought they stopped doing that.”  There were groups selling food, amazing pork sandwiches…bands played.  Let’s get serious.   Watching the survivors walk around the track with pleasant smiles of pride on their faces as we clapped and then it was our turn, the caregivers walked around the track to the cheers, but I felt out of place there.  I mean the cancer we survived passed.  It’s in the past.  I’d like to keep it there.  Yet, looking at the names… the quarter mile of hundreds of illuminated paper bags which were decorated with names of loved ones, I saw a picture of a woman on one and she could have been someone I knew - it was striking.  Our numbers could reach and settle the anxiety of those who are gripped by the fear of the unknown.  Under the clear night sky I watched the figures walk the track.  Under Pluto and Venus a balloon slowly rose awkwardly under the stars.  There were many familiar faces from this community and others who remained anonymous but we were there for a purpose.  Together, this event raised $63,000 for the American Cancer Society.  We were there because somehow we were impacted by cancer.  It’s the dreaded three words anyone wants to hear, “You have cancer.”  Yet illuminated in the night… on the bleachers… was the large glowing word - HOPE.  With faith, hope and love we can overcome the impossible. 


Thank you for reading this.