Friday, December 30, 2011

Who are the trusted?

In 1978, Danny Olsen turned me onto a cool new artist, Elvis Costello. I was cautious at first as Elvis Presley had died the summer before. As a junior in high school, I really, really wasn't interested in an Elvis impersonator.

And yet, Danny was incredible hip. An urbane high school senior with a dynamite smile and the ability to wear Jewish heritage like a crown, he was like catnip to the junior girls. I felt privileged that he would include this shiksa in his group of friends.

Elvis was just breaking big with "Alison," from his first album, "My Aim is True." His music was a big departure from the disco and hair bands that filled the airwaves. After all, "Saturday Night Fever" had taken the radio by storm in 1977 and young adults were doing the hustle in discotheques from Danceteria in New York to Osco's in Los Angeles.

And yet, Elvis rocked our world when he played our Millikan High School auditorium. It was my first taste of New Wave and I wanted more. Instead of the glib, glitziness of the hair bands and overprocessed techno grind of disco, Elvis' music had a raw energy that summed up the cynicism and angst of teenagers who had grown up a steady diet of Vietnam War casualty lists and the Watergate scandal. The strong men of our generation were sent to die by the politicians whom we trusted.

Although my favorite Elvis Costello album is Get Happy, one of my favorite songs, "What's so Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding" came from his third album, "Armed Forces."

As Elvis asked, "Where are the strong? Who are the trusted?" I only wished then that I'd known that answer was Jesus because I was wrong in many of the people whom I trusted in my 20's and 30's.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

Some vacation time has allowed me to sort through 30+ years of memorabilia--photos, concert ticket stubs, cards, and letters. The hard part is that I'm finding a lot of people whom I loved that have passed out of my life.  Some of them passed out of my life because that's the way life is.  At key junctures, like high school graduation, you take divergent paths and loose touch.

The hardest things to look at are the people I let go from my life because of disappointment or anger...where I purposely severed the relationship.  In some cases, it was unavoidable.  In other cases, I feel like a fool and there's a sense of loss.

As I look at these people from 5, 10, 20, or even 30 years ago, the bad feelings that caused our friendship or romance to hit the rocks is gone.  In the images I see people whom I've loved and who love me.  I realize that I may have cut them out of my life, but I cannot cut them out of my heart--ever.

Do I wish all of them back into my life?  Not really.  Only a couple of them.  But, for the first time ever, I'm willing to let their faces inhabit my walls and my daily life rather than being relegated to a box in my closet. 

I would never regard myself as a sentimental person, and yet, the first present a boy ever gave me--a framed pane of glass etched with flowers--still hangs in my window 33 years later.  Yeah, it's my laundry room window but, still, if I was a bag lady, I'd carry it around in my cart with me. 

I think I cherish these things because I never made a family for myself.  Somehow, I missed that class in college.  So all of this "stuff" is evidence that I've loved and been loved in my life.

My goal this past year has been to work towards getting rid of stuff that I don't use or don't love.  This means that a lot of the photos and cards are getting thrown away.  Some, I'll scan and then toss.  Only the special ones will remain...the people who have changed my life just by passing through it.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


Perhaps, if I am very lucky, the feeble efforts of my lifetime wil someday be noticed, and maybe, in some small way, they will be acknowledged as the greatest works of genius ever created by man. - Jack Handey