Avicii

I am the only one fucked up about this?

I was at a doctor’s appointment and when I got out my phone was blowing up. Put me in a bad mood, ruined my whole day.

Death is final. What about this do young people not understand?

I’m not sure what happened here. But I’m thinking it’s drugs, it’s always drugs, especially when it comes out of the blue. Sure, Avicii spoke of health problems before, they caused him to retire from the road, but what was he doing in Oman anyway.

But he’s gone now, we’ll get no answers, what went through his head, he’s just another casualty on the music road. But at 28? THAT’S CRIMINAL!

Now this is having the wrong tone. Funny how between your brain and your fingers your thoughts change.

But why does this have to happen? Why are drugs glorified by the music set? Is that what makes you a rebel, doing drugs?

And I know sometimes they’re used to deal with the lifestyle, but how come the handlers don’t acknowledge this. But the truth is musicians are like racehorses, run into the ground, shot when they’re broken, sometimes by themselves. They’re not seen as people.

Life is short, but in truth it’s really long. And it’s not a constant upward arc. Nobody’s on top forever. The key is to adjust and to live.

And sure, taking a break can sometimes mean you’re passed over.

But at least you get a chance to come back.

I always think about what Joe Walsh said, that the challenge is LIVING!

So it’s kinda like school shootings. Everyone laments the deceased’s passing, talks about what a wonderful person they were, how great their music was, and then it’s business as usual.

Meanwhile, what kind of outlaw ties up with corporations, doing sponsorships? If it’s about image, your credibility is immediately shot.

So we never get to hear another Avicii song. Oh, they’ll plumb the archives, come up with something, hell, Jimi Hendrix just made a new record. But imagine what Jimi Hendrix would be playing today.

Then again, the longer you live the less of a legend you are. You’re revealed to be normal, with foibles.

But ain’t that the truth, how we’re all equal under the skin, normal?

And I don’t want to stop typing, because I’ll be left with that creepy feeling again. The exact opposite of how I felt when I heard “Wake Me Up” come out of the speakers for the very first time. It’s hard to have a hit, but it’s even harder to create a track you only have to hear once to get, that you’ve got to hear incessantly, over and over again, until it’s so embedded in your brain you can play it to yourself. That’s what Avicii achieved.

And there will be more hits. Time marches on. That’s what the dead don’t realize, no one is that important, everyone is superseded, time doesn’t stop.

It’s bad enough when people are ill, get cancer…but when you mistreat yourself…

Like all the people still smoking. Why do you think you’re the exception? You’re gonna get old and wanna live but you won’t. And your spouse and your children will be so disappointed when you’re gone.

I didn’t even know Avicii and I’m disappointed when he’s gone.

And they must reveal the cause of death for all these people who die before their time, although it will come out, it almost always does. We demand it as human beings. Life is a struggle under the best of circumstances, we want answers, explanations, guidance, we don’t want to think we can just go along minding our business and have it all end.

But it can. In an automobile accident. Or maybe your time is up, like that woman sucked out of that Southwest plane.

Tom Petty O.D.’ed. As did Prince. And they might not have had hits recently, but if you saw them perform they were still at the top of their game.

And Bonzo killed Led Zeppelin with his death.

And I’m not saying everybody can stand up and fly straight.

But the truth is the body is quite resilient. It takes a lot to kill yourself.

Drugs are not cool. No matter what you say.

It’s uncool to say that, but all my best highs have been natural, when I’m fully aware and can experience the excellence.

I know, I know, I should be lauding Tim Bergling, talk about how wonderful he was.

But the truth is I’m still here and he’s not. And I’m off-kilter, I’ve got this horrible feeling inside.

AND I DON’T LIKE IT!

Little League

I lived to play baseball.

This was back when the Yankees never lost and the Giants were in San Francisco and the biggest stars in the game were Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. I knew that Mickey grew up in Oklahoma and suffered from osteomyelitis and I purchased a biography of the Say Hey Kid on vacation in Atlantic City that I never read and I listened to the game on my transistor, under my pillow, I was addicted.

Not that my father paved the way. My mother was very athletic, she played golf, she’d watch the game, but my father never would.

But he stoked my jones, buying me a glove, taking me to the Stadium, but even more than being a fan I liked to play.

This was back when you’d leave the house and tell your mother you’d be home for dinner, when she had no idea where you really were, not that she was worried. And sure, there were some couch potatoes, but most kids played outside, sometimes making up their own games, I remember building miniature golf courses in the backyard, and walking up to the schoolyard to play baseball.

It wasn’t organized. It was just whoever showed up. And you knew who was good and you knew who was bad but you chose teams and decided who’d be up first by choking up on the bat.

Actually, I never walked, I always rode my bike, before you had to lock it up, when tires were fat and pedaling was slow and you had to haul it up a hill but the bike was just a vehicle…

To the diamond.

And in my town there were three leagues, National, American and Greenfield Hill. And ultimately, in July, a town championship played amongst the three. We made it all the way back in ’64, but were bounced in the final in ’65. In ’63 we didn’t make it at all, I was on the Beechmont Dairy team, one of two designated ten year olds, I got a weak infield hit before I went to camp, I never told the coach I was going, missing the final four games, and when I showed up the following season to play…

I got cut.

Now this was back when it used to snow. Although it’s snowing again now, how wacky is the weather? But you never brought out the ball in February, it was unheard of, but as soon as you got to March 1st…

It was baseball season!

We watched the Grapefruit League on TV, but even more we threw the ball, even though the ground might still be frozen. We were ready.

And in Connecticut in March, the winds are fierce. To the point where it would impact the game. But we played anyway.

And tryouts began on April 1st.

By time you hit April…

It was spring. It was not gonna snow again. There were occasionally winds, but practice was never canceled.

There was a new coach for Beechmont Dairy, his son had to play, therefore I got bounced. But I ended up on a much better team, the Korner Market, where down the street they had the team photos in the store, coached by Mr. Russo, who only had girls, who was into the game, who was doing it to give back, where are these people today?

My father knew him, he was a liquor salesman and my dad owned a liquor store.

And we had a very good team.

Opening day was right around now. We’d all go down to Gould Manor Park where we’d strut around in our uniforms and there would be introductions and a game and my parents would come with me, which was the only time they’d show up. Oh, once during the season maybe my dad would come, but when they moved the field further away he never did.

And if we won, we got Dairy Queen.

If we lost, we headed home heads down, dejected.

But I lived to play.

And I thought of all this when I looked out the window last night and it was still light at 7:30. You see at the beginning of the season that was always a factor, whether the six inning game would make it to the end, before it got dark. You’d be fighting the light, it would be hard to see the ball, but as spring moved on this was no longer an issue.

And it was not like Los Angeles, because of the humidity spring would get HOT! You didn’t need a jacket when you rode your bicycle, but you didn’t go to the beach and swim the day of a game, that would slow you down, but that was the only precaution.

I know it’s different now. I know little kids play soccer. And then comes t-ball. And everybody gets a trophy. But back in my day…

You either had the goods or you didn’t. Either you made the team or you didn’t. And a trophy meant everything.

Maybe that’s the difference between baby boomers and their children. We strove towards excellence, it was more important than being a member of the group. Then again, we were bullied with no pushback from our parents. We endured and we survived. Physically anyway.

And I never watch baseball anymore. I got out when the teams went to double knits. And now it’s even worse, because of the dedication of my brethren, my fellow baby boomers. They believe the game will keep them young. But the players are faceless and the kids would rather play eSports and the excitement is gone.

But still… The one great thing about baseball is it ain’t over till it’s over, you can always come back.

Like life.

In My Room

It was “I Get Around.”

Before the Beatles there was music, but that band woke us all up, got us all addicted. They infected not only television and radio but the jukebox too, where I heard all their songs at Nutmeg Bowl, where we went bowling every Friday with our sixth grade class, where I was a league member on Saturday mornings, did I ever tell you I had my own ball?

That’s where we were the day President Kennedy got shot. We found out when Mrs. Taylor, the seventh grade teacher, came downstairs to our faraway room, she was crying. We didn’t believe it, but there was no internet back then, certainly no television in classrooms, we wanted to go bowling and when the bus pulled up we got on and rolled away. But I distinctly remember watching the TV at the lounge at the lanes, waiting for the bus to go home, finding out that our President was truly gone.

Now before the Beatles I did love the Four Seasons, still do. I hate that they’re now called “Franki Valli and…,” you never want to mess with someone’s memories, their illusion of a group, and Bob Gaudio deserves so much credit. And around the same time I loved “Dawn (Go Away),” it was and still is my favorite, I bought the single.

But I bought Beach Boys albums.

Not right away. But hearing Mike Love sing about teenage life in “I Get Around” at Nutmeg Bowl I was possessed with the possibilities, and the background vocals in the chorus, this was not the moment I decided I wanted to live in California, that came earlier, with all the TV shows filmed there, but this cemented the deal.

But I didn’t buy a Beach Boys LP until the following summer, when I rode my bike down the hill to the discount store to purchase “Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)” on the day it was released, to own “California Girls.” “Good Vibrations” gets all the accolades these days, but “California Girls” was an equal breakthrough, with its lengthy instrumental background when that was unheard of on the radio and then the loping intro to the verses about how much better it was on the west coast, and still is, don’t pay attention to the stories saying otherwise, those people are just jealous.

And at this point, my favorite cut on “Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)” is “Girl Don’t Tell Me,” which reminds me of camp, those exquisite days that lasted only a month, which I lamented the passage of for the other eleven. And for Carl Wilson’s vocal. He’s gone and he’s been forgotten but his voice had a quality of wistfulness and honesty. He wasn’t different, but just like a guy you went to high school with, he was a gem.

And from there, I was on a tear.

I bought “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and tried to comb my locks like Dennis Wilson’s on the back cover.

And “Surfin’ Safari,” with not only the band’s first hit and the title cut, but the consummate car song, “409.”

I was filling in holes, I bought “Shut Down Volume 2,” with the indelible “Pop, Pom Play Girl,” never mind “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

And “The Beach Boys Today!”

But not everything. Because money was precious. And I tracked the cuts, decided what I absolutely needed to own.

And then Ellen gave me “All Summer Long” and “Surfer Girl” for my birthday.

Not actually on my birthday, she said she’d call, we’d do something, but she didn’t. So I drove with my relatives to Boston and stayed with my camp friend Ronnie and got stoned for the very first time on my actual seventeenth birthday and went to see “Woodstock,” and when I got back to school the following week Ellen gave me those two records wrapped in yarn which made me wish I’d hung around in Connecticut, but I hadn’t.

“All Summer Long” is the one with “I Get Around,” as well as “Don’t Back Down,” which Lyndon used to sing before he got in the Saab to go surfing.

But “Surfer Girl” contains “In My Room.”

Not that that’s my favorite cut on the album, that would be “Catch A Wave,” with its harp, which Jan & Dean rewrote as “Sidewalk Surfin’.”

But it was “In My Room” I’ve been singing to myself the past few days, it came to me while I was reading my book, Meg Wolitzer’s “The Female Persuasion.”

I loved her previous work, “The Interestings,” speaking of summer camp, and this new one didn’t get as good reviews, and it deals with feminism and #MeToo issues, but that didn’t turn me off, you fall in love with the creator and you follow them wherever they might go.

And where she went was to college. And high school before that.

I didn’t anticipate this. What I got were the interior thoughts of the protagonist Greer, who had checked-out, stoner parents, who’d failed to fill out the financial forms adequately so she couldn’t attend Yale, but a B minus school which offered a free ride.

And it’s there where she encounters the famous feminist, Faith Frank.

Never underestimate the power of the individual to have an influence on you.

And to tell you the truth, “The Female Persuasion” wobbles. Sometimes there’s plenty of plot, and sometimes there’s too much feminism, but there are moments of truth and insights into life, turns out everybody stumbles, and we all pass the torch to the next generation.

And I was thinking about how much I was enjoying reading this book, in the dark, by the light of my backlit Kindle, alone, after midnight. This is my time, when the iMessages and e-mails slow down, when I have room to move, when I’m uninterrupted, when my mind is set free and the ideas come. In a perfect world I’d wake up at noon and go to bed at four, and I did that for decades, but the truth is no one else can handle it, but it’s great for creativity.

And I’m thinking about this feeling, of being alone and reading and resonating. And I hear Brian Wilson singing in the background…

There’s a world where I can go
And tell my secrets to
In my room
In my room

I didn’t share one, it was mine only, being the only boy in the family. It was late to a window air-conditioner, there was frost on the windows in the winter, but when I shut the door I could dream and be my best self.

In this world I lock out
All my worries and my fears
In my room
In my room

After midnight it’s not only too late to go to the doctor, but too late for bill collectors to call. Everything goes quiet. Nothing will happen till the next day, you’re free.

Now it’s dark and I’m alone
But I won’t be afraid
In my room
In my room

It’s gonna be my birthday again soon. Getting old is so weird, kinda like that Joe Walsh song, everything is so different but I haven’t changed. Never mind the internet and cell phones, but so much I relied on, as bedrock, is gone. Oh, there are fumes of classic rock. And it’s a golden age of television, but I’m never going back to summer camp and friends of mine are actually dead and eventually I will be too and the longer I live the less I know, even though I know more than I ever did.

And I wonder how these musicians of yore knew so much at their young age. How they created these concoctions that struck our hearts and still do.

I vacillate, from wanting to be integrated and wanting to be alone. Do either one long enough and I want to do the other.

But these records, they’re embedded in my brain, part of my DNA, they help explain my life, when I’m lying on the couch in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling wondering what it’s all about.

In my room – Spotify

Re-Social Media

If I read one more anti-internet screed I’m gonna EXPLODE!

We post to feel connected, it’s the same reason we surf, we want to feel part of a community, the human race, we have an urge to belong, to tell our stories, WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?

I’m not condoning the use of our data, nor the tireless self-promoters trying to get rich. But I am saying all those people promoting disconnection, turning devices off so one can truly experience life, are Luddites trying to haul us all back to an era that wasn’t so perfect to begin with.

Like the fifties. When women didn’t work outside the home, but were also second-class citizens, like African-Americans.

The world has changed, and you’ve got to change with it.

Yes, prior to the invention of the automobile, THE RAILROAD, we lived in small communities and knew more people and our societies were tightly knit. But what if you didn’t like where you grew up, what if you were gay, what if you were different? GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!

Speaking of homosexuality, you used to have to move to San Francisco or Provincetown or West Hollywood to feel footloose and fancy free. Now you can just log on and find a plethora of people who feel just like you do, AIN’T THAT GRAND??

Furthermore, niches are not as narrow. Used to be I was the only person I knew who lived for skiing. Now I can log on and find endless information about the sport. To tell you the truth, I still crave more, but it’s so much better than it used to be.

Ergo the ability to connect with people. Sure, I might not want to interact with everybody I went to high school with, but to go on Twitter and send and receive a response from someone in the public eye? And you don’t have to be famous to achieve this, just someone of insight and wit. And social media leavens the landscape, now the only stars are not on stage or on screen. We used to know very little about these two-dimensional characters. Now not only are we exposed to their foibles, we see they are really no different from you or me. A star just ain’t what he or she used to be. And if someone rises above, assuming they don’t shoot someone or wreck the country, it’s because they’re intelligent and have something to say. Sure, the Kardashians come along with this, but they’ve also illustrated you don’t have to have a talent to be famous, unless your talent is creating a story millions are interested in.

Most YouTube stars will not survive. Most social media stars will not cross over. But that does not mean there’s nothing there to pay attention to. These are the innovators, these are the people testing limits, who knew unboxing was a thing, who knew the degree to which women were addicted to makeup.

And what would protest look like without social media? David Hogg might not be a household name. And you might resent Hogg, but you can go online and give your opinion and try to gain traction.

We check Facebook multiple times a day not because we’re looking to get rich so much as we want to feel part of the social fabric. Sure, there are some true loners out there, but the rest of us long to be involved, toss ideas, have a laugh, gossip, no different from an era sans modern communication techniques.

Come on, why do you think all those millions signed up for Facebook to begin with?

And then migrated to Instagram and Snapchat?

It’s not about the platform, it’s about the PEOPLE!

So when someone tells you to tune out…

Look what devices they use. Some of the loudest complainers don’t even have a smartphone, or haven’t upgraded since Windows XP. They resent the future, they don’t want to learn.

And then there are those who lie. Who say they’re disconnecting when they’re not.

Are we overwhelmed?

OF COURSE!

I can complain all day about the present, never mind the future. The music scene is incomprehensible and facts seem to be irrelevant in politics. Everybody’s deep in his or her niche, but at least there are niches that appeal to them. If you lived through the era of three TV stations you know today is a godsend, hell, it wasn’t that long ago that Bruce Springsteen complained there were 57 channels and nothing on, but no one complains about choices anymore, other than to say THERE ARE TOO MANY OF THEM!

And why is it the younger generation is not complaining?

God, I’d only love to grow up today, instead of being alone in my bedroom I’d be talking to my friends all day long on my device. Loneliness, the scourge of humanity, would be eradicated.

As for checking my phone multiple times a day, supposedly far in excess of a hundred, it’s because I want to be included, up-to-date, know what’s going on. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?

Now I don’t have to go out to be involved. I can stay home and connect endlessly. Which is way better than going to a dark bar with loud music and being ignored. You can find a date online, connect with someone from the past you had a crush on, but all those holier-than-thou people who triumphed back then keep telling us we’re doing it wrong.

WE’RE NOT!