Before You Go

Dear Kevin,

When you were little you didn’t like when we over explained things to you. You were an extremely curious kid. (You still are.) Like a detective you’d ask a lot of questions to get at the truth, or at least your understanding of it. But once your curiosity had been satisfied, you wanted us to stop talking. You had no patience for anything that sounded preachy. When you sensed a lecture or sermon coming on, you’d interrupt and say, “I don’t want to know. And I don’t want you to tell me.” So please forgive us for writing this letter of unsolicited advice.

What follows are things we have come to believe and value about life and the human experience. Much of it we learned from you, by being your dads. All of the sentiments expressed below have been said or written by others, and with more eloquence than us. And our thoughts are repetitive, disjointed, and scattered. One passage may contradict another—sometimes in the same sentence—but that’s life: a complicated, repetitive, disjointed, random, beautiful mess. The route is seldom a direct express.

The tone below veers into commencement speech territory, including generalizations and nauseating clichés commonly heard at graduations. But since neither of us are likely to ever deliver a graduation commencement speech, this is our attempt at passing on what we’d like to believe is wisdom, all of which you are free to ignore. (Skip past the dotted lines if “you don’t want us to tell you.”)

So from us to you, in no particular order, here goes.

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Rookie

As I gear up for another Rookies softball season, here’s a flashback photo from Little League baseball in 1979. I wish this scrawny kid knew he’d meet a terrific bunch of guys in 1997 and play ball with them for over 21 seasons.

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Blue Laws and Fountains of Wayne

It happened on a Sunday in early 1997. Because of Bergen County’s blue laws that kept most stores closed, I had driven down to Wayne, NJ, to shop for some new music. I’d been going to Willowbrook Mall and the other area shops around Wayne for as long as I could remember. As a kid, my neighbor’s mom would take her two sons, my brother, Matt, and I—with our pockets full of quarters—to the video game arcade at the mall. Years later, while I attended nearby Montclair State College, I would often go with friends to eat, shop, hangout, or sing karaoke in a basement bar of one of the restaurants (Casey O’Tooles?).

But that Sunday in 1997, I had gone by myself to The Wiz (an electronics and music store near Willowbrook, but not in the mall) to search the rows of CDs for something new. At the end of one of those rows was a special display, a rack of CDs featuring local artists. And that’s when Fountains of Wayne’s self-titled debut album caught my eye.

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Yesterday & Today

< 1973 and 2017 >

I miss having blond hair. Well, I miss having hair. I remember loving that book bag. I’d wear that shirt today, but not the socks or shoes. Oh, the things I wish I could tell that kid.

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Grace and Gross at the Grammys

The 59th Annual Grammys Awards are this weekend. Twenty-five years ago, I worked at the 34th Annual Grammys at Radio City Musical Hall. My friend, Christine, a fellow Montclair State alum, asked me, along with a bunch of other recent Communication Studies graduates, to volunteer as a talent escort and seat filler.

On February 25, 1992, we met at Radio City early, received an orientation, a tour of the hall, and our escort assignments. Some of us would escort performers. Some would escort presenters. Performers got dressing rooms. Presenters did not. I didn’t know if my nerves could manage a performer, which that year included Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross, Bonnie Raitt, LL Cool J, Seal, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Johnny Mathis.

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Believing in Chunky Soup?

I’ve been posting song memories since I started this blog thing in December. Inspiration has often come while listening to my iPod Classic. I love that 160gb device.  It holds every song I own, 13k, with room left for another 15k. This is my third iPod since the iPod came out. And I don’t know what I’ll do when this one grinds to halt. (Apple discontinued the iPod a few years ago with some lame excuse about not being able to find the parts. Really? You’re Apple. You can find what whatever parts you want, wherever you want.)

I don’t want to stream music to my iPhone, eating up data, and getting interrupted by texts, emails, alerts, and calls. No thanks. I like my music separate from my work. Besides, I’ve crafted so many playlists and smart playlists that sync up seamlessly with iTunes over the years. For me, the system didn’t need fixing.

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