Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Wasn't....isn't....this a time....?

Just in case you've been on an archaeological dig deep in a cave in South America for the last year.........we've just had one mama jamma of an election!!! This was fun!!!!! I'm not a "political junkie" but keep just well enough informed via the Daily News, the NJ Star Ledger, the internet, talk radio and the nightly news to realize that no one really "knows". And there's a lot of agenda driven opinion out there. I think the checks and balances of our system, within the houses of government, for the most part, work. The old,"Say, what's that guy up to?" The gentlemen from the Continental Congress would be proud, and grateful, I'll bet, that their plan has held up. But I think keeping the other guy honest has taken a nasty turn into trying to stop the other guy in his tracks....even sabatoging him. No one will admit it but I'm here to tell you....the emperorer has no clothes!!!!!! Both sides do it.
Look, I've been a bleeding heart liberal most of my natural life but I'd have to be blind and deaf not to see that the media in this country is indeed....uh oh......LIBERAL!!!! Most talk radio is conservative. Most tv and print is liberal. Like it or not, that's the way it is, man. And knock it off with this fairness doctrine stuff. Guess what? Ratings rule. So waaaaaaaa!!!!! Cry me a river. My own bleeding heart has moved more and more to the middle as I've grown older and...wiser? Wiser meaning being able to see that everyone in politics is a con artist. A lot of these folks have good hearts and intentions ....ON BOTH SIDES..........but con artists nonetheless.
I remember when I was about twenty one and playing a gig in my hometown. One of the local politicos was there shaking hands and kissing babies. I kinda knew this guy and we were chatting about some of his plans...... which had drastically changed. I asked why and he gave me my first lesson in politics 101. He said he had to first pay back favors (not his word) to the people/groups that helped get him elected. Then he could get to his agenda, which, he assured me, he would. That was an eye opener. Favors, paybacks and the putting of one's own plan on the back burner can only intensify with the size and importance of the office. Which is why, I think, you.......I....had to look at the personality......and why my liberal finger, under direction from my liberal heart, pushed the button for John McCain. I asked myself one question. Who would I want standing next to me in a barfight? And there you have it. McCain's whole pow experience and his refusing to leave when given the chance spoke to me. I went Democratic the rest of the ticket but the prez was a righty. I mentioned this on my weekly radio show and heard from a bunch of irritated liberals. I had to say don't won. I'm cool....please join me. Because I thought all along that no matter the outcome it's a win/win situation. We have either the first African American president or the first woman Vice president. Either way, life goes on and my life, or yours, isn't gonna change a whole lot. It's akin to my feelings when the Yanks lose the World Series. Ahhhh dangit.....and......back to work........ 'cuz here comes the rent again.
My conscience dictated McCain, but this is.......ok. What say we get behind Barack. Keep a watchful eye, but could we stop the sniping, gotcha crap......the living in the past and depressing projections? Well if Bush didn't...well if Clinton didn't....if George the first didn't ....if Reagan....if Carter ......if.....STOP!!!!!!!! The guy hasn't even taken the oath yet. Like the bumper sticker says, "Either push, pull or get the hell out of the way." But c'mon...let's not throw tacks in front of his tires. Obama's failure means success for the right...just as Bush's failures mean success for the left. We've got to temper this crap.
Which brings me to this. When did my people, the left, lose their sense of humor and become the crotchety old men of the sixties? I was raised on Mad magazine, National Lampoon, Monty Python, Saturday Night Live and still have the occasional flashback to prove it. Ahhh....when the sunshine was orange. We've become Big Brother. The Democratic conventioneers seemed a little miffed and put out while the Republicans seemed.....dare I say party. And they were losing! I still love political incorrectness...with NO apology. The Family Guy is my new hero. What happened? Who threw the switch? Look, man, we're all in this together and as the late, great Jim Morrison once said, "No one here gets out alive." And wouldn't it be cool to see, just once, if we did all pull together, what we could do? That doesn't mean cave in or surrender your positions.... but argue from a position of tolerance and betterment....... for everyone. Can I get a Kumbaya? And Move On. can stop your e mails now. They were getting a little creepy.
I was driving around on election day and covered a lot of ground. I voted for McCain early. But the turnout I saw doesn't jive with what I'm hearing on talk radio. Would it kill you to admit that a helluva lot of people turned out? Maybe it was only in my neck of the woods here in NY, NJ and Pa....but it was wild! There was definitely a feeling in the air. To quote Stephen Stills, "There's something happening here. What it is, ain't exactly clear."
So I'll deliver the same mantra now that I did eight years ago when my guy didn't win then, either. Watch, be wary, be skeptical, challenge, but when Barack falls down, which he occasionally will, how 'bout rather than putting a foot on his back we put our hand out and help him up. He's ours for four years. The dems have it all. Let's see what we can do.
Election day, and the events of the following days made me proud to be here and be involved enough to at least have have contributed what I felt was a considered vote. I was proud to be an American. Not necessarily proud of a lot of things America has done, but proud to be..... an American.....with a drippingly sarcastic apology to my college professors. ( I once wrote a paper supporting the Vietnam war for my conservative professor and one decrying the war for my Liberal professor. I got A's on both! And, if you hadn't noticed, I ain't no Hemingway. Am I a cynical sob, or what?!?!) This is an amazing thing we have....this peaceful transfer of power every four years. Seeing all the faces on the front pages and across tv screens.... the faces of people covered in tears.....people that may have been the target of dogs, hoses, clubs or worse, a mere forty years ago was....well.... moving. I don't know how anyone couldn't have been moved.
So buck up, John. You're a classy guy who ran a really atrocious campaign. I'll still pick you to be at my back when glasses start being thrown. Is the playing field now..... even? Probably not. But I think the slope is slowly decreasing. Peace.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

These ARE the "good old days"

Ah .....for the good old days. Were the old days actually that good? I think we tend to view days gone by with a litle help from our rose colored glasses. Remember the Twilight Zone where the modern day scientist (circa early 60's) gets fed up with all the noise pollution, crowding and general rudeness of the day and somehow, through the magic of the "zone", manages to return to the late 1800's? In an interesting convention the scene switches to silent..... with subtitles....... and, lo and behold, Buster Keaton pops onto the scene as the inept assistant. Our modern man at first loves the serenity of the past but then discovers he can't find any of the equipment he needs and..... yadda yadda...... he returns to the present, bringing Buster with him. Ya just have to buy into it. Buster hates it. He goes home. Everybody's happy. So what's the moral? I don't know. The grass isn't always greener? Be happy in your present circumstances wherever and whatever they may be? OK....I'll take that one.
In the early eighties a band I was playing with got a two month gig in Bermuda. Round trip flight, house, one meal a day, mopeds and a pretty good paycheck all included. Our only responsibility was to be on stage at 9:30 tuesday through Sunday. After about two weeks I'd done all the tourist stuff and covered the island front to back and side to side. From there things just sort of eased I thought, man, if that can happen in Bermuda, I guess it can happen anywhere. Contentment really does come from within. Blue water and pink beaches help......and we had a rollickin' time, made some good friends, got really tight as a band and wouldn't trade the experience for anything, but it was still I'd actually discovered this earlier, but forgot it. When I went to El Paso for college in 1970, leaving all my griping NJ buddies and flying off into the sunset.....ALONE...... I was stunned to find that all the Texas guys were sick of Texas and aching to head back east........TO JERSEY!!! The big question I got was how could I not have gone to Woodstock. Well, if I would've known it was gonna be a movie......
It's fall here in New Jersey. A beautiful time of year. Sunday morning. I was just sitting on the banks of the Musconetcong River, (which is right in my back cool is that?!?!) ......meditating, thinking, planning, dreaming....praying. Every day when I get up and rolling, I've gotten into the habit of thanking the powers that be.....God?.....for putting me and keeping me and my family and friends healthy. I always ask for support and guidance and the ability to recognize opportunity....a big part of luck. Over the years I feel as if there's been someone keeping an eye on me. I think back to what I wanted ten...twenty years ago and I basically have it. And what I don't have is my own fault. But I'm a big believer in the best is yet to come....create your opportunities (luck) and stay positive. Don't be afraid to say things out loud. The spoken word is powerful. But don't be surprised if someone drapes a net over your head, either.
I believe.....recognize......that we're just here to learn, give and receive love, find and utilize our talents, while trying not to walk into too many doors along the way. If during that time, you've managed to fall in love a few times, make some people laugh, roll in the grass with a dog or two, climb a great tree, sing with a bunch of friends, laugh till you cry....cry till you laugh, sled down an icy winter hill, catch a perfect wave, make a diving catch on a grass infield on a beautiful summer day, skinny dip, help someone who really needs it and enjoy a variety of sunrises and sunsets from different parts of the planet.............well, my friend, I think that's really all anyone can ask. And if you've missed any of the aforementioned.....there's always next time.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"A crazy little thing called love"

So the elderly couple is heading up to their honeymoon suite after a very succesful wedding day. Myron says,"You know, Ada I love you very much, but there are a few things we haven't discussed."
"Why, what's that, my husband?," Ada replied.
"Well, for one thing, I have to have dinner every day at five o' clock."
"Done!" says his dutiful wife."
And, he continued, I must have a poached egg every morning for breakfast, with coffee and orange juice........ and no later than eight am."
"And what kind of bride would I be if I couldn't do a simple thing like that for the man I love?," she coyly answered.
"And now my dear, surely you have some concerns as we enter this union.," says Myron.
"Well, Ada begins, I'm a little curious about your thoughts on........... sex."
"Ah, my love, Myron answers........infrequently ."
In a small voice Ada asks, "Is that one or two words?"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Stop the world I.....well, could you at least slow it down a little?"

Is it just me or is the world, with apologies to Al Gore, getting colder. I mean philosophically. Everything is about a buck. I'm on the road all day and listening to the radio is a constant challenge to avoid commercials. I understand about selling air time and the pay to play medium but.......C'MON!!!!!!!! Yer killin' me, man!!!!!!! I have two FM and two AM bands programmed and I can go through every button and still not hear any content. I mean....the commercials with the rapid fire disclaimers at the end..... And anything that may result in bloody discharge.....I ain't takin'! Y'know I'm starting to believe that commie plot thing from the sixties. Introducing weed and inane tv shows resulting in the dumbing down and apathy that's The old get 'em from the inside. Well, it worked. Listen to the man on the street interviews. Half the people asked don't know who the president is. I used to sit back and laugh at this stuff. And, for the most part, still do........ being the cynical, Saturday Night Live, National Lampoon, Monty Python, Mad Magazine ex-hippie that I am. But, and maybe it's the getting older thing, the laugh has a nervous twitch to when you laugh at a horror movie trying to pretend you're not scared. (C'mon, I knew Tony Perkins was his own mother......right?) I love Family Guy, The Simpsons and some of the reality stuff but if I was a parent I'd be worried.
And what's happened to baseball? I barely watched any of the World Series last year, 'cause it was on too late. Why? Advertisers. Hardly any day games, no double headers, cost prohibitive to go to games, can't watch batting practice anymore, players won't give you the time of day, $7 hot dogs and $5.50 beers, thrown out as soon as the last out is made............can you throw a brother a bone....please?!?! You hear this brought up on the sports talk shows and all the hosts say is, "Well, that's the way it is now. It's a different time." Yeah....I guess. But I'll bet it's comfortable in the press boxes around America. In the parks around here the baseball fields are empty. When I think of some of the scroungy fields my buddies and I used to play on and then see these beautiful, manicured fields going to waste.....well...."the babe"would shed a tear. I think major league baseball's shooting itself in the foot. Maybe not the next generation or even the one after that, but sooner or later the well of fandom may dry up. But it's all about making it now.
I like money. A lot. But how much is enough? At what point do we think of the greater good? Baseball's a metaphor for everything. It's good like that. But it can get kind of depressing. And I'm an extremely optimistic guy. Even at the ripe old age of fifty six I'm still convinced I'm gonna be living in the house on the hill and playing in the band of my dreams. There's a difference between recognizing the reality that's out there and putting a little rose color on your own reality. I still steadfastly believe in the innate goodness of people. We are...have to be....our brother's keeper. It's just that the world is starting to look like the stark future of the movies. Remember the panic you felt along with Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" when he realizes no one knows him and his small town has gone to hell in a hand basket? Or Marty Mcfly in "Back to the Future" when he saw what his town had become. But it was only because they weren't there to pitch in. And that, my friends, is what it's all about. Bring some peace and kindness to your small fragment of the universe. Let the other guy into your lane now and then. Pick up a piece of garbage. Be kind to your wife/husband, friends, girl/boy friends, kids, animals, nature. Open your ears more and your mouth less! And when you're alone in your car....sing at the top of your lungs!!!!!!!!!! Try to see the big picture. We're only here for a cup of coffee.

Do I take my own advice? Man, I try. Really. And the older I get the more I do...... still not nearly enough. But now, I think, I recognize it. And that's a start. Now here's twenty bucks. Get me a beer and a hot dog and let's PLAY BALL!!!! Peace

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Look, up in the sky, it's a ....Byrd?"

“This is Allison Steele, the Nightbird….come fly with me.” And fly I did. Those opening words from the late, WNEW, NY dj sent me off to sleep on a thousand nights in the late 60’s and early 70’s. She’d start with a poem, delivered in a low, whispered voice. The words poured out of my radio and I swear I could smell her perfume. Then wonderful music would follow. Songs that would end, well, when they were over. I’d become so used to the AM version of “Light my fire” that I was stunned to hear Ray Manzarek’s extended keyboard break come out of my radio’s three inch speaker. So, that’s how it was supposed to sound. Thanks, Allison.
Radio has been there for everything, hasn’t it? It was the soundtrack for your first kiss, trips to the beach, cars, bars, guitars and…… heartache. Remember the first time you heard “Walk away Renee” after someone broke your heart? Ouch!
In earlier years I’d overhear the voice of Jean Shepherd drifting out of my parent’s bedroom as he’d weave intricate tales of picnics, family outings, the Fourth of July, Aunt Edna or his third grade teacher. I’d laugh along even though I was a hallway and five stairs away. The next morning John Gambling and “Pack up your troubles” would waft in from the kitchen signaling the start of another nightmarish day with the Sister’s of (No) Mercy. That song still makes me cringe. The two mile ride to St Mary’s made Fred Feldman’s traffic reports moot, but it was still nice to know he and the WOR helicopter were up there.
When I finally got my own radio, I jumped ship to WABC, just like you did. Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison and Scott Muni were never far away. Neither were The Beach Boys, The Ronettes, The Temptations and, finally, all those weird looking groups from across the pond. I could never explain to my grandmother’s satisfaction exactly what a “Byrd”, let alone a “Yardbird”, was. But it didn’t really matter. The times indeed were “a changin’, and, along with some of our favorite dj’s, my friends and I left the familiar, rapid fire patter of the AM band and moved over to FM. Goodbye Cousin. Hello Nightbird.
For the last decade and a half, Thursday mornings have been very special to me. The familiar smells of old records, tapes and turntables that hit me in the face as I open up the “HonkyTonk Roadhouse” have become like old friends. And I hardly ever trip on that third step leading up to the on air studio anymore. A lot of people have come through. Some stayed. WDVR is FM the way FM used to be. It’s
the kind of radio that Allison Steele and Scott Muni would be proud of; a forgotten taste of freedom; for all of us. Slick?. Nah. Fast paced? Hardly. It is, I hope, a small comfort zone in your car, office, garage, kitchen or bathroom; a feeling. It’s the feeling you get when you spot your old baseball glove on the shelf in the garage each spring. And instead of walking by, you try it on for a few smacks? Y’know what I mean? Well, if you don’t, I‘m afraid I could never explain it. But if you do……. I’ll never have to. Thanks for stopping by. Peace.

(The"Honky Tonk Roadhouse" can be heard Thurs morns, 6am - 9 on WDVR fm, 89.7 and 91.9 FM, Nj and PA. Streams online at at