Thursday, August 28, 2008

Always a Jackass!!

I am a lifelong Democrat. It always was, with both my parent’s families staunch Democrats, especially since the Kennedy name became so widely known in the early 60’s when I was a wee lad. So much was made of John F. in my house as a child, I remember plates with both Kennedy brothers being proudly displayed in my Irish (mother’s) mother’s home, those good Irish-Catholic boys, destined for sainthood in that home, once they were martyred. And in my Grandparents home, those two died for all our sins, so aligned were they with the Lord Jesus and all that was good, Irish, and American. Their murders were daggers into the hearts of Irish, and Catholics, especially JFK’s. I recall the nuns crying that November 22nd when it was announced to the world, I remember seeing nuns crying, sobbing, a sight simply incredible as I never knew they could cry, or do much more than teach and discipline us. I was 7 years old, and just about that weekend to find out that I was very allergic to poison ivy, especially when rubbed all over my body as I’d done on a dare. I could barely see through my swollen eyelids as Oswald died from a gunman on live TV, me at home from church because of the poison ivy idiocy. That was the beginning of TV ruling our lives, as we watched the funeral events together, one mourning nation, one grieving mass all seeing that salute from little John-John and sobbing as one at the incredible loss.
I grew to work for RFK, and then HHH, and then I just voted for the Democrats, whoever they were, until I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, feeling neither other candidates cared about me, both parties sold to highest bidders, but still I am a Democrat to the core. I think that so called “Liberals” are more compassionate towards the poor and disenfranchised. Sure, hard work and diligent effort is required to succeed, as it always was, but a prosperous people must care for the less fortunate, even if some cheat the system, even if some fall into the cracks. We must care for our fellow people, and this earth that we inhabit, and I have found that Democrats at their core, despite their own recent greed and selfishness in selling themselves to corruptive forces, are committed to helping the poor and raising the most people up. So I am with them. A Democrat. And still proud of it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Doing lists...

The man who wrote the book “100 things to do before you Die” died Aug. 17 from head injuries caused by a fall in his home, a young man of 47 years who had the wisdom and the presence to understand that this moment is all there is, so live it fully and with purpose. "He didn't have enough days, but he lived them like he should have," a friend said. He was able to see or travel to about half of the places on his list, his friends and family said. The photo of him showed a happy smiling man eager to embrace life.
At age 52 I have to say that I’ve done a lot of my list, at least the one with personal goals met or situations encountered. Like I’ve been on TV, or hosted a radio show. But I’ve also fathered and helped raise 3 now adult children, all college graduates and thriving in health and life. That is something to have on a list of things to do in life, so I add that to climbing to the torch of Miss Liberty.
There is a certain reflective propensity that comes with aging, not that I’ve ever been accused of being shallow. But as the years have turned to 50’s in particular, and my hair is more gray than brunette, the changes become more apparent, and events that were so real just yesterday are suddenly 40 years ago like the summer of 1968 when RFK and MLK were killed. Just yesterday, but over 40 years ago. Wow. See? Reflective moment, as the 40 years perspective and wisdom and experiences subsequent to that long ago summer kick in and I am flooded with thoughts, feelings, but eventually acceptance. Because that’s what I’ve taken to most after all these years breathing, that accepting life is going to flow with me or without me, and I am blessed to add my color, my tone to this never ending weave, given today, right now, only that real.
Given that view, I guess I’ve done a million things on my list, and will do one more now by saving this and posting it. Write a blog. Done.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Carnegie Hall, WOOHOO!

Well, I guess a few years between posts will weed out the real hard core fans of mine!?! It was getting embarrassing, I can tell you that! But I feel validated in just writing this word, um, word, knowing you, yes, you, will read it and smile, or something. I know you better than I know myself. That's why I started this blog. To let you see me get to know myself better. Welcome back!

I am doing the Merry Christmas things poorly again; since my conversion I have not done well in easing my kids and my family and my step-family's transition into a Jewish point of view, which I've embraced. It has only been a few years since my conversion, so these times of year still have all great power evoking my conflicting childhood memories of Santa and family and Christmas Mass, vying for my own attention as I live my life as a Jewish man who can't believe how over the top Christian this time of year is, how overwhelming of other cultures, and how crass in it's commercial display and absorption. Eww. What would Jesus say, indeed?

But that is my issue. The bigger harder issue is how my lack of attention hurts the 5 kids. I now realize that Sara and Jessie lost Christmas in their lives too when I joined Judaism, as I had brought it into their lives in the first place. We have lots of great photos and memories of fun gatherings around decorating the tree, even fetching the tree was a standard thing for a while, the 7 of us hunting for the perfect one, cutting our own many years. So the tiny fake one we light on the back porch now is just a sliver of a sliver of how we had it for a while. I know Amelia, Miles & Luke lost a lot, and that has been really hard for them. That hurts. They love and support me, and I know all of them are going to adjust and be fine, but I will acknowledge the pain and confusion my conversion has caused for all the kids, and hope it gets better with time. Things usually do.

So, the subject line? I am secretly thrilled to have been invited to stand on stage and sing with the Zamir Foundation's Israel at 60 Anniversary Celebration at, here is the real thrilling part, CARNEGIE HALL!!!! Yes, the one in New York City! As faculty of the North American Jewish Choral Festival (Ellen & I lead the attendees children in a performance and teach classes for families) we are part of the program along with other distinguished guests, donors, and dignitaries. To be invited to stand on that stage in a performance capacity is a dream come true for any musician, anywhere, and so I am beside myself with glee. I am unsure if we can accommodate the 4 5-hour rehearsals in NYC leading up to the concert in late March, however, so my joy is tempered by not knowing whether it can happen yet. But I agree with all the Oscar nominees: it is an honor just to be invited. And a huge huge thrill!!!

I am building a website, using paper cut outs to make a layout of the pages I need to focus on. It is one of those projects I like as it is tactile and finite, creative and challenging. I wish I knew PhotoShop better. But I wish I knew every program better. Grrrrrr!

I/We am/are considering an idea to make our Jewish songbook catalogue of original sheet music available for download though the URJ for an $18 dollar (or more) donation going to a Hava Nashira/Joel Schikman Memorial Scholarship Fund. We'd like to get these songs out for use and enjoyment, they number about 157, at last count. Joel was a great guy, and sweet man, and an avid musician, so this would continue his good name and bring worthy musicians to the great thing that is Hava Nashira.

I hope to post more often, I have a weird sort of stability lately in a very unstable way. I hope to explain that statement, and many more like it in ensuing missives. Until then, ta ta!!!

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rainy day at the desk, oh boy!

I have a good life, no doubt. But even the King of Spain must be on the throne once in a while and think, "Jeesh, now what?". I have a million things going round my brain, and I feel like a kid running around chasing soap bubbles, all blowing in different directions, all fragile and temporary, many about to pop into oblivion, and explode away forever. Maybe it's the anniversary of my late father's birth, or perhaps the rain and cold of impending Autumn, my mind and body still basking in sunshine on a beach listening to the surf, the gulls, the laughter of children as I drift in and out of sleep. Maybe it's the pile of tasks I have to accomplish so this good life can continue as it has, staring at me, mocking me and my stupor. Most pressing is web site minutiae, adding a search engine and prepping some pages for the next big thing we are doing in our career. It could be the studio upstairs calling me, begging me to remove the sheets covering the music-making equipment and get to the joy of making a new CD. It may also be my 50th year now catching up to me, reminding me of which side of life's hill I am on. Good thing I saw my counselor this morning, eh?

I am by all appearances as solid and steady a man as you will ever meet, a good boy with good manners and a good education who is a good and loyal friend. And I am that. But there is a side of me that craves excitement, change, danger, risk, and it is pushing at me from inside. I am sober, drug-free, gluten-free, but also adrenaline free, which is slowly eating away at me. This is not new, the struggle of my soul. And I LOVE the life I have, my marriage, my career, my children all bring me joy and great satisfaction. I only miss the edginess somehow, the challenges of the past. "Running with Scissors" is about my greatest thrill now, and that's not bringing me much joy. SO I must find a way to channel this need with a task. Making this business run well is one, but my limitations are so many, and I find myself distracted and impatient. Depression? Lazy? Overwhelmed? Yes, maybe, YES!

I read a great quote at a site run by a friend ( about 4 great words: "This too shall pass." I know the truth of those words, and I do find solace in them. So I will get back to my desk work now, make the improvements to the website (, and let this pass, as it surely will. Time heals all wounds, and I trust that about life. So see you soon, and keep smiling. Shoulders back, head held high, look up to the sky. And don't worry, this too shall pass!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Here comes the Fall...

Weird title, almost predicting the defeat of the current policy makers in the US government for letting this country go so far so wrong. Greed has just about lost it's grip on power, people are beginning to be uncomfortable with bullies and liars and cheats representing our best interests. Even the press is remembering their job is to dig, not shovel. Big difference!

But no, I am referring to the Autumnal season change so apparent in the weather offerings of late. I just came off of Cape Cod after a relaxing week vacationing in Wellfleet. Lots of sunshine, and some late August warmth to make the beach a very happening place. Happened on it as often as possible, and loved every moment there. Surf and sun and sand is an amazing tonic, and I inhaled liberally.

I have not written for quite a while, and can't explain how I happened to stop nor begin again. I guess this is just a feel thing, when the mood hits, especially as I am neither disciplined nor a good typist. So I was reading another blog, wanted to comment, had to sign in, fortunately remembered the login info, and thought, "heck, I'm here, might as well blather a bit.". So here you have it, my blather, completely unrehearsed or scripted. Pure Blather. Mmmmmm

Love to all, and remember, say it with me, "I Am Enough!"


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Raising the children

My life is one that involves a lot of travel, as my wife Ellen and I are musicians and educators that specialize in music for young children. We get to go around the United States entertaining families and their children in concerts, and also leading seminars and workshops for educators on how and why to use music in early childhood settings. It is a great job, one that combines my lifelong career as a musician and my adult vocation as a teacher. To do it with my wife as my partner in all this is the true miracle, and one I am thankful for every day of my life! We are old enough to have raised our kids (5 between us in a blended family) to adulthood, so our travel has picked up, allowing us to keep pace with the growing national presence we find ourselves enjoying.

The final major trip of our year is coming up next week as we go to Washington, DC to attend, present a workshop, and exhibit at the annual conference for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). We'll be hanging out with 25,000+ dedicated educators and administrators who focus their life's work on helping teach the very youngest of our society. I think this world has got to do a better job recognizing and supporting these people who literally have the future of our society in their hands and in their classrooms. Nurturing children from age birth-6 is such a vital and important task, and yet these fine folks are often underpaid, overlooked, criticized, even ridiculed in a culture that refuses to see how important their work really is. In just a few generations time we've gone from children being taught and nurtured in their homes by a family member, most often the Mother in the family, to having our children be placed in the care of others, and this shift is bound to take a toll and have a long term impact on our society. I'm not saying that we need to keep women at home, those days are long gone, and hooray for seeking equality in the workplace and in opportunity. What I am suggesting is that we need to honor and respect those people who step forward and take on that incredibly difficult and vitally important role of being the most important adult role model in a child's life. It is too easy to blame the education system for our society's woes, and certainly some of the way we warehouse and herd our children through the antiquated system we continue to use has it's faults, but in my opinion the responsibility and the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents, period. We have all become too used to letting others run aspects of our lives, with every expert we can find telling us how to do this or that, from health to prayer to finances to clothing, while we all blindly hurdle forward trying to earn enough money to pay the experts and own the gadgets we just can't live without. Now I love my gadgets, this laptop I am typing on, my guitars, my cell phone, my CD player in my own car, but none of those nor many other things I have worked so hard to purchase are impossible to live without. What is impossible to live without is my health, a roof over my head, a car, heat and food. After that, the rest is negotiable and extra. My own children are all over 18 years old, and they have all turned out great, good people who will make a positive contribution to society, just as I hoped for them when I first held them. I am not going to say I was a perfect Dad, having had a divorce to deal with since they were young makes me pretty lucky that they were surrounded by many many people who loved them and taught them good lessons and manners. What they got most of, I think, was a safe place to rest their heads, loving people to care for them, the knowledge they were loved, respected, cherished, important, and the models of adults who lived those very values as much as talked about them. "Be the kind of person you want your children to be", to paraphrase somebody great; they were fortunate to have that.

Many years ago I was with my children at a cemetery looking for the gravesite of my father's father, too long not visited. So we combed the place, looking at every tombstone until we found Grandpa Roy's. When we had prayed and spruced up the site, my youngest child Luke, maybe 6 at the time, noted that while he was looking at all those markers he noticed that none of them mentioned the work, income, grade point average, social status that the deceased had achieved in their lifetime. I asked him what he had seen as he'd searched, and he said "Beloved father, son, brother, neighbor, grandfather, friend." We all agreed that those are really the things that truly matter in life, that we all want to be remembered for, and I was reminded by my youngest child what is really the most important focus of life here on earth. I pass that on to you, the little children really do lead us, and all those little children grow up to be our leaders of the future. Invest in them now, invest in their teachers and caregivers now, be a good role model for them now, all the children you meet, and this will truly be a wonderful, wonder filled world!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why does anybody want to know what I think?

I am glad to have yet another way to express my thoughts, feelings, dreams, whims, fancies, ideas, quirks, impulses, rants, raves, grumbles, praise, criticism, opinions, struggles, achievements, idiocy and genius. The question is, who wants to know any of that stuff other than my family, a few friends, and some poor soul who is up at 4 am needing a reason to log off and get to bed? As a song writer, and copy writer, and email writer, I always have to know who I am writing to, and what I am trying to convey in my writing. But here, I have no idea. My wife and music partner Ellen has been writing her Blog for a few months now, and seems to enjoy it, so I have decided to put fingers to keyboard and join the fad of journaling for the masses. Except, what masses? With millions of pages online, and billions of words being written by regular Joes (sorry to the Joes out there, it's nothing personal) in blogs just like this one, I am sure that my musings will have little impact beyond some folks seeing that I have some sense of humor and a brain in this ever graying head of mine. But I do love to muse in print, and since my handwriting has degenerated beyond belief and legibility, I find myself hunting and pecking at ever faster speeds on a typewriter style keyboard, making me wish I'd taken a few classes in my youth with my Mom, a lifelong typist and teacher of keyboarding (hi Mom, I love you!) instead of whatever other thing I found time to do, like maybe watch sports on TV. Anybody else out there wish there were a few more brain cells devoted to important things and a few less devoted to remembering things like, oh, the starting lineup of the the Boston Red Sox "Impossible Dream" team of 1967? I sure do. Other than winning a bar bet someday (if I ever go into another bar, or ever bet- the main reason I got into playing in bands was to have some reason to go to bars in the first place... no wait, I got into music to meet and impress girls back in high school, same as almost every other guy I've known who played guitar!) having such relatively useless information filling up gray matter is a hardship, especially if one is trying to learn a new language (Hebrew) or remember directions after finally stopping the car to ask someone. I know I can't unlearn such stuff (Joe Foy, 3rd base), and it isn't that my brain is full, but at this age (49 1/2, funny how you start to do that again after you quit doing it when you turned 13!) I need every excuse I can use.

Now, if you've read this far, you are either my mother (Love you Mom) or someone who enjoys long, rambling sentences and disjointed thought patterns. Or maybe someone studying the mind of bloggers, hoping to find out why anyone actually writes these things in an age of too much content, too much news, too much opinion. Stop wasting your time with figuring out this one, buddy, even I'm unsure why I am writing this. We'll all find out together (again, assuming there is an "all" at all) and know more soon. I'll keep me posted...

Some people out there already know what a wordy writer I can be; I get excited writing to people, and even more excited receiving a reply that has more than "yup" and "nope" in them. I understand we're all busier than ever working at these labor saving devices, but please, write a few more words than 2 if I've written you a paragraph or more! Heck, with spell check and grammar check, it is almost impossible to make a fool out of yourself by stringing a few thoughts together, just like they did in the old days of pen and paper. As for me, my mind goes a million miles an hour anyway, so once voice recognition takes off ("Grandpa, did people really use typing to communicate with computers?") I'll be the most prolific writer on the planet. I can't keep up with all the thoughts I want to write as it is, because of my typing limitations (sorry Mom, I should have taken your class, love you!) but as you can see, if you've dared confront falling off your chair reading this far, there is still no shortage of blather I can get down on paper. Or screen. You get the idea.

So, let's see if anybody responds to this first post, or actually gets this far (here's a test: who was the shortstop for that '67 Sox team that first broke my heart?) and then I'll know if blogging has a future in my busy world. It's unfair, in a way, to do this test since we are mailing our fan base of 3,500+ email subscribers tonight and mentioning this new blog, but what the heck, who said life was fair anyway? I read my contract with the universe, that fairness clause must have been left out. If there ever was one to begin with...