Monday, October 16, 2017

"We Built This City" And Other 45 Singles

Okay, so here we go.

I am officially fed up with music snobs who will tell you that certain records are so bad that no one should ever listen to them again. In my experience, most of these people came of age in the 1960s and they tend to worship the music of that decade. I freely and without any shame state that I am a child of the 1970s.

Some of the records that get this treatment include:

#1- "We Built This City" by Starship. This of course, was recorded by the band that had once been known as Jefferson Airplane and then as Jefferson Starship. Almost every person I've seen criticize this record fails to state exactly just what makes it so bad in their opinion. If anyone out there can actually analyze the record and tell me why they don't like it, fine. I'm willing to listen to what you have to say.

All I know is that thirty-two years after its release, I still like it. I bought the original single on vinyl when it came out and I also had a compact disc with the rare promo version on it. That's the version with no DJ chatter, that allowed local radio stations to record and mix in their own voice-overs. I wish like crazy I still had that CD because it also had some other very rare singles on it.

#2- "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace. Come on, people, just give in and enjoy it. It's like a really good short story that just happens to be in musical form.

#3-  "Copacabana (At The Copa)" by Barry Manilow. How can you not like this record? Do yourself a favor and buy the original A-side version, which is hard to find, but I'll tell you how to get it legally.

It's on the soundtrack to a film titled "Foul Play" and it's available from Amazon as an MP3 file. Spend $1.29 to get it.

Do not waste your time with the B-side version that has an extended instrumental and please, whatever you do, don't listen to any of the remixes that are out there. None of them can match the experience of hearing the original.

Some closing thoughts...

I've noticed that many of the people who show disdain for these records are often into very obscure bands who, quite frankly, aren't very good, in my opinion. Also, there's a real tendency among oldies fans to rant and rave about how Record A by group B is a lost classic and should have been a hit.

I've listened to literally hundreds of these records and yes, some of them are quite good. I'd put a ball park figure at about 10% when it comes to saying that yes, such and such a record should have been successful. Of the other 90%, for me at least, it breaks down as follows:

About one-third of them are good enough to play on air every now and then. About one-third I have no issues with listening to them at home but I'd never play them on air. The rest of them are records that I don't like at all but I can at least understand why some people do.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Recent Events

I have gone almost two weeks without posting anything new here. The reason for that is simple. I'm increasingly fearful for this country. I try to keep politics out of this space but I just can't resist the need to say some things here and now. If you stop reading right here, that's fine with me, but I'm asking you to read all of this post.

Donald Trump is a fascist dictator who, being unable to get any significant legislation passed, relies on executive orders. Mike Pence is a theocratic disaster waiting to happen. We're dangerously close to losing our republic to either a theocratic regime or a military takeover.  I'm a survivor, and I can probably get through whatever happens. But far too many of us are simply not going to make it through to the other side, if things go bad.

Far too many of us are wrapped up in our own selves, to the point of ignorance, indifference or both.  We need to get our f***king heads out of the sand. We need to put down our smart phones. We're in for a full four years of Trump, I believe. Eight, if he somehow manages to get reelected. God only knows what shape we'll be in by then. The powers-that-be are hell-bent on waging war. The right-wing government of Israel would love to see us eliminate Iran for them. North Korea is a bear we keep poking.

Is this a real downer of a post or what?

Yeah, it is. But whatever reach I have, however limited, has to be used as I see fit.

I'll cover some of what is going right and ways to resist in a day or two.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Seasons Change

We're now into the second week of autumn and I'm glad to see its arrival. The summer we just finished had far too many days of temperatures in the high eighties and low nineties. I've written before about how I don't handle heat very well. I do however, have few problems with cold temperatures. I once went up the street I lived on at that time to get a few things from the bodega on Washington Avenue when the temperature was ten degrees below zero.

The first week of autumn in this area was just a continuation of summer; every day saw temperatures in the eighties for the highs and low-to-mid sixties for the low. But over the weekend, things really changed. Last night we got down into the thirties and this morning when I went to take out the trash, there was a dense, cold fog hanging over the ground.

The heating system here at the Y.M.C.A. is one that works well. Last night, with the heat running (something that either happens or doesn't, residents have no control), the temperature in my room when I went to bed was sixty-eight degrees. For me, that's just about right.

Wishing you well, dear reader.

Friday, September 22, 2017

This Blog Is One Year Old Today

Well, it's been quite a year since I began all this on September 22, 2016. On a personal level, I've been up, been down, and am on another upward swing. On another level, we've seen a lot happen here in the United States Of America.

I'd like to thank everyone who reads what I write. I know that some posts are less interesting to a large audience than others. Some posts have as many as forty views and some as few as a half dozen.

I'm okay with that. If you see a title for a post, or start to read it, and then think that reading the post isn't worth the time it takes, that's fine.

Let me catch you up on a few things.

1- It's been ninety-three days since the last time I had a case management meeting here at the Binghamton Y.M.C.A. and I've filed a formal complaint with the state agency in Albany that handles these kinds of things. The annual review of their paperwork is scheduled for two weeks from today, so it will be interesting to see just what the investigator finds.

2- I made it through the summer without having air conditioning in my room. There were several days that the heat became too much to handle in the room. My method of dealing with that was to either hang out in the resident lounge where there is A/C or to buy a day pass for the B.C Transit buses and ride around in comfort all day on the buses. I usually paired this with multiple stops to eat, to shop for groceries and to do anything else that needed doing. Careful planning of which bus to take at what time meant I usually spent no more than ten minutes in the hot weather outside.

#3- Still no luck finding a job. I even tried several temp agencies, with no success. The staff at one agency told me to my face that I had wasted their time by coming in and filling out an application. They had a very unprofessional attitude.

Wishing you a safe and fun weekend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Some Personal Sports Memories

Do you know, or have ever known, someone who when watching a sporting event, has a "I could do that better" kind of attitude? Maybe this person just comes across as feeling that way, or maybe goes so far as to say it out loud.

The truth of it is, of course, that most of us who aren't professional athletes aren't anywhere close to being good enough to play our chosen sport as a career. I've known a few who were good enough but didn't quite make it. One was a quarterback who went to training camp with two different teams. He was one of the first players cut with the first team, but was having a really good camp with the second one when he blew his knee out.

He had a degree in sports management and wound up being the substitute gym teacher for the male students my senior year in high school. One day, we were warming up for class and he just stood there watching me.

He watched me throw the ball several times and then shook his head in disappointment. He said that it was just too bad that I was so short at 5'9". He said I had all the tools a QB needs. To this day, I can still drop back, roll out to either side, and throw a deep ball with accuracy. My mechanics, he said, were nearly perfect. and still are; my throwing motion results in a perfect spiral almost every time.

There's just no way I could ever play in college, let alone the N.F.L., at my height. But it's nice to know that that's the only thing that stopped me from being able to.  I did play two years of football as a young man; studying game film and learning game plans were both things I was quite good at.

I had some other good things happen in that senior year of high school in gym class. I hustled all the way from my place at short stop to make a play on a runner at first base. He was called safe but to this day, I really do believe I got the tag on him before his hand touched the plate. Even with his being called safe, I felt good for having shown the hustle that I had.

I also got to play a game at catcher in gym class that year. My team won by a final score of 3-2 and the way I called the pitches was a big part of that. Again, just so nice to do such a good job, even at a high school level of play.

On the basketball court, I made a sweet pass to my friend Mark, who caught the ball and drilled the winning shot. That too, came in my senior year.

Much more recently, I was on the court here at the Y.M.C.A. on a winter afternoon. This was three years ago, when I was forty-eight. A young man who exhibited a rather unpleasant style of behavior walked up to me and said "Get off the court, old man.".

This, I took as a challenge. I had, at that time, a cool looking red-white-and-blue ball. I calmly dribbled it out to the perimeter, stopped and turned around. I checked twice to make sure I was outside of the three-point line. I measured the shot once, and then a second time.

As I let the ball go, one thought went through my mind. Which was "If you're ever going to make a three point shot, which you never have, now is the time.".

I'm proud to say that the shot was nothing but net; a perfect shot that sent the young man off the court in silence.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Remembered Things

One of the things about being my age, which is fifty-one, is that I've seen a lot of things come and go. Some had such a brief appearance on the stage of pop culture that they're almost totally forgotten. Others were around for years or even decades.

One of these that I would like to talk about are Kiddierama booths. These were small booths that had cartoons kids could watch while sitting in the booth. If I recall correctly, the cost was 25 cents. The cartoons would rotate so you never saw the same one twice in a row. These were an assortment of various cartoons. They included Mighty Mouse, Woody Woodpecker and several other characters.

The booths were usually located in department stores, but you would sometimes see them in other places. According to some sources, the owners of the company that built and serviced them tried to convert them to using VHS tapes in the mid to late 1980s. They had been using Super 8 film prints, it seems. The last time I saw one of these was in the bus station in Syracuse, New York, in 1987.

This, of course, was the old bus station, which was in a bad neighborhood and was run down. It's since been replaced by a very nice and new one in a much better location. I had a long layover between getting off one bus and transferring to my next one, so I watched cartoons to pass the time.

Another thing I remember, and these were around for a long time, were the small television sets located in bus stations. These sets were black-and-white. You got something like ten or fifteen minutes for 25 cents. These had no cable connection, so all you could watch were over the air stations.

Again, it was a nice way to pass the time. I always liked watching local newscasts in various cities to get something of a feel for what each city was like.

These became obsolete when the switch from analog to digital broadcasting was made. Retrofitting them with converter boxes would have been much too expensive to do.

I'll finish this post by talking about something that did not last very long. Does anyone else out there remember cable radio? This was radio delivered over a cable television system. Now, to be honest, I am aware that there are a few such systems still going strong, but for the most part, the whole idea came and went fairly quickly.

The neat thing about this was that usually, the fidelity of whatever you were listening to was quite good. The local company we had in this area, which was named New Channels, offered this at a very reasonable rate as an add-on to basic service.

If enough people read this post and like it to warrant a follow-up, I'll post one.

And as always, thank you for reading.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor Day Weekend

We're close to, or at, Labor Day weekend, depending on how you define it. If you have Friday through Monday off from work or school, then to you, it's a four day weekend. Personally, I've always thought of it as a three day weekend. Either way, it marks the unofficial end of summer.

Today, it felt like autumn all day long. When I went out to run errands this morning, I had to wear a jacket. There was a crispness in the air that you only get in autumn or the days leading up to it. I went out again a little after eight tonight to get a sub for dinner, and it was cooler still. I spent a few minutes looking at the moon before I came inside because the clouds that were drifting along made for an amazing sight with the moon as a backdrop.

I have experienced fifty Labor Days, with number fifty-one coming up, Some have been memorable and some have been completely mundane. With the recent passing of Jerry Lewis, I'm remembering all the M.D.A. telethons I watched over the years. I remember the year when several of us kids who lived on Kellum Road went from door to door collecting money to donate. We piled as many of us as could fit in my dad's station wagon (the second one he owned, which was green).

Off to the television station we went, and we got to appear on air during the cut-away to that hour's local portion of the telethon. We got thank you letters from the M.D.A. a few weeks later.

I remember one Labor Day when my mom sent me to our garden, which was on a neighbor's property, to pick carrots we ate at dinner.

 I remember another one when my dad and I went to the New York State Fair. One of the neat things about the fair is that there are so many things to see and to do that cost very little or nothing at all.

The fair has always been affordable, with admission usually about the same price as a movie ticket. We saw a demonstration of equestrians on their horses, which was neat. We played a round of miniature golf on a temporary course set up by a church as a fund raiser. We ate some good food at a food tent set up by another church. And we stopped on Interstate 81 to help some people whose car had suffered a flat tire. My dad and I changed the tire for them, and they were grateful.

I remember the first time we went to the fair, when we spent a whole week attending it. My family went with several other people that belonged to a club that my parents were members of. My brother and I slept in our own tent while Mom and Dad used a larger one they had borrowed. That year was the year that Rob Salamida became the youngest person ever to obtain a food permit for the fair.

I ate lunch at his food stand every day that week. I had a chance to tell him that two years ago when he taught my Marketing class at SUNY - Broome Community College. He got a kick out of that. Rob is a person who worked his you-know-what off to become very successful. He's very down to earth and an all around great guy. And he makes some amazing food products.

Whatever your plans for the weekend are, I wish you a safe and fun weekend.

Also, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey.