A New York Moment

Stopping to smell the roses at the Union Square Greenmarket Monday.

One day I’ll come and see New York as a tourist, and spend three or four days to enjoy the city for its cultural gifts. Today, I get five minutes to appreciate before I pick up a grab-and-go lunch and head into a conference room for the day.

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Godspeed, Thomas

I am a nostalgist at the best of times, and at the worst the combination of music, moment and memory turn me into a weeping ninny.

A fair chunk of Tom Petty’s oeuvre does that to me, “Free Falling” more than most. My teen years were passed in the San Fernando Valley, and the song brings the worst of those years back in a painful rush. I never said so aloud, but Petty for me was like that cool older brother I never had, the guy who made me feel like everything was going to be okay because I shouldn’t take it too seriously, anyway. 

In “Free Falling,” I heard Tom telling me that, yeah, I had hurt people, that it was wrong, that it didn’t make be a “bad boy” for breaking a heart, but that my true struggle was going to be learning to live with the hurt I had caused without daring to try and rationalize, minimalize, or forget it. That’s what the bad boys did, and that was anything but cool. 

Was that what he wrote the song to try and provoke? I don’t know. That’s what the song meant to me. I can only hope that my expropriation of his music for my own emotional purposes wouldn’t have bothered Tom. 

I think about meeting him on some other level of being and asking him about it. I hear him saying “no, man, if I can sing and you can heal, I’ve done my job. Mission accomplished.”

The Rebbe once said “music is the pen of the soul.” Mine will always carry an autograph of Tom Petty.

Keep playin’, big brother. Lots of healing to be done where you’re going. 

See you.

The Fall Cometh

Reading on my balcony in Deerfield, every few minutes my eyes are drawn skyward to the sound of a jet, or of a southbound flock of Canadian Geese.

Autumn has sneaked into the Midwest. Hopefully it will grace my home shores of the Strawberry Coast soonish.

I don’t find many here in Illinois who share the sentiment, and I acknowledge that my joy at the coming of Fall is colored by the mild and pleasant winters of the California Coast rather than the lake effect blizzards that punctuate the season hereabouts. 

For me, the sharpening chill of October evenings makes me think of sweaters, thick socks, and a good book with a cup of something hot. It means fast boat rides on windy chop, migrating whales, and the constant tang of the Pacific in the air. It means comfortable camping in tent and RV, a banket across my legs before the campfire is kindled.

It is meals in a Sukkah, a giddy dance with the Torah, the ranks of children knocking on our door on Halloween, Thanksgiving dinner, Chanukah lights, carols, movies, and school breaks with my son. It is the World Series, my son’s basketball schedule, and bowl games. 

Fall is first and foremost an affirmation of life in the maw of the oncoming chill. And for that it will ever be my favorite season.

Fly on, old friends, I think as another flock honks southward. May you find peaceful flyaways far from the engines of airplanes.

Disneyland at Midnight 

We got to the camp at 9pm, along with a group of other parents. The gates were locked, so we had to work around them. We managed to do so without damaging any property. By the time the scouts were checked in and found their campsite, it was nearly 2300.

I was so wiped I could barely assemble a coherent sentence, and the twelve hours elapsed  since my last little repast wasn’t helping. I checked into the Anaheim Marriott at 10 minutes to midnight.

From a service standpoint, this was one of the best Marriotts in the chain, and the staff managed to smile and empathize me out of my stupor for long enough to order dinner before passing out. From the 19th floor a darkening California Adventure beckoned, but, bereft as I was of spouse, offspring, and annual pass, was not on the schedule for the morrow.

I contented myself with a glance out the window as I hummed the Tiki Room song and felt a goofy grin spread across my tired face.

Catbird seat

China high-speed rail. Car 1. Seat 1F.

In this seat, all life becomes Harmonious.

Deep apologies to David Feng. He was riding in 1A across the aisle and I must confess to dozing off once or twice during our discussion. It had been a long day after a long trip.

I must remind myself to keep my Rail-borne socializing to a minimum. There is something far too soothing for me in the rhythm of the rails and the gentle rocking of the cars.