7/31 Quitter

i know i don’t normally post on the weekends, but today is a very special day for me. Today marks my second year of being a “Quitter”.

butt-free for 2 years!

i wrote the below as a facebook “note” after i had first completed my cessation program, and am re-posting it today in honor of my new-found freedom. If you’re thinking about becoming a Quitter, then get help, get determined and get going! And PLEASE, read the note about the plastic ciggie – it really was a Lifesaver…

 

12 weeks ago…

…I decided to do something I never thought would happen – I decided to undo something I never thought would happen 22 years ago.

I decided to quit smoking.

And here are some random thoughts that popped into my noodle during this time:

• I used the gum this time. I wasn’t successful with patches last time round, but in retrospect, I don’t think I was chewing them correctly.

• They said that you may have occasional depression. By “occasional” they mean about 22 hours out of every day for the first month or so.

• “Occasional” also applies to paranoia.

• Paranoia sometimes really IS based on reality.

• I’m really proud of how well C deals with “Withdrawal t”.

•Thanking God that I don’t have to give up “triggers” such as sex, coffee, sex, booze and sex.

• Laugh if you will, but creating a plastic “cigarette” really helps if you’re addicted to the physical process of smoking as well.

• Days seem a lot longer (sometimes good, sometimes bad) when you’re not waiting for your next fix.

• Ex-smokers are still the worst – but while I used to hate their superior attitude, now I realize that a portion of it is because they are secretly longing after that glowing rod in your hand.

• my little brother will now make a “glowing rod” joke.

• I’m really proud of how well my children deal with “Withdrawal Daddy”.

• I’ve kept my quitting a secret from most everybody to help avoid pressure. And no one who knew (I’m guessing everyone) has ever let on that they knew.

• They said you should take the extra money you now have from not buying cigarettes and get something nice for yourself…

• …but in so doing, I found out that I never actually had the money to buy cigarettes in the first place.

7/29 radio days and average skeletons

Deplorable.

You promise your friend that you’re really going to spend time this week digging into “who you are”, and then you go and post a total throw-away fluff piece about Ska music instead.

A most regrettable use of time and effort, don’t you think? i mean, what did that dribble actually tell you about You? What deep-seated secret did it uncover? What skeleton, buried in which closet, was revealed by your blurb?

None, i suppose.

But maybe that’s because i don’t have too many skeletons. Or maybe they’re simply skeletons of a different sort. You know, the average kind. For instance, maybe the post said more about me than about the music.

In my world – music is always playing – has been ever since i was a little child. My mom used to continually have the kitchen radio playing (i can still hear it, the announcer saying: “WJYE – Joy. All music, all the time”.). It played what we called “old people stuff”, and it really did play it all the time. Unless a vendor happened to interrupt to hawk their wares, of course. All day long, artists like Miller, Streisand, Mancini, Bennet and Sinatra (to mention a few…) could be heard belching out from the radio’s speakers. At the time, i thought it was because my mom had a love of music that the radio was always on, but recent developments cause me to question that belief.

Music also proved to be my very first Best Friend. Turns out, being shy is most decidedly NOT your best defense when getting picked on, and most often (like, in every single instance) instead of standing up for myself, i would run away instead. Run back home to mommy. Run back home to music.

They would both coax me, both tell me everything would be all right – each in their own way. As time progressed, i came to rely on music to not only soothe, but also guide. i became aware that those who played music were Cool… Especially the ones i was finding who didn’t play “old people stuff”. They had it all – the girls, the fame, the big house, the Life. The Life i wanted.

Turns out they also had talent. Well, most of them at any rate. And talent was the one thing i did NOT possess. Well, of a musical bent at any rate.

So life moved on. And my rock star dreams diminished over time, as i grew in strength and wisdom. But the music remained a big part of my life, and it still provides the audio landscape to my existence. It’s still my best friend too. Well, second to C.

Mom however, gave up on playing music when she reached a certain age, and while she still has the kitchen radio on all the time, now-a-days it only spurts out “talk radio” from it’s tiny and worn-down speakers.

When i hear it droning on, i can tell mom’s radio misses the “Joy” of days past. Lord knows i do…

from radioattic.com

7/28 SKAturday!

The first time i heard Ska music, what i heard wasn’t actually Ska.

Well, i mean it was – just not the type that the traditionalists would have you believe Ska should be thought of as.

Now, i’m Quite sure that every single person on the planet knows full well what Ska music is, but just in case there are a couple of stragglers out there, a brief description follows:

Ska music was invented in Jamaica during the late 1950’s in an effort to provide local fans and musicians with a homegrown version of American R&B. The genre got it’s name supposedly from the sound made to describe the back beat associated with it. And for many, The Skatalites are credited with inventing it, or at least bringing this form of music to national attention, with hits such as “Guns of Navarone”. Though many (including The Beatles and Blondie) have dabbled in it, there are usually three main “waves” considered when discussing its history – “Jamaican” (or First Wave), 2 Tone (part of the 70’s punk movement) and Third Wave (also known as Skacore). Ska was the precursor to Reggae music, and like many other musical genres, the child has grown to be much bigger than the father ever was.

OK? Good, now back to my story.

My first time hearing it was with a little known band called Fishbone. In my mind, these cats pretty much invented Skacore (thought they never received much credit for it), and their brand of Ska was fast, obnoxious, angry, loud and overall – delightful.

i can’t remember what song i heard first (i have narrowed it down to “Wonderful Life” and “Party At Ground Zero” though), but i do remember the impact it had on me. It was the first time i ever heard something of its kind. All the elements that i loved about punk rock – the anger, the cool hair, the bad fashion, the indignation and the pride – but with a beat. An actual, honest-to-Jesus beat!

Piss and vinegar and the ability to dance – cool!

As is with most things, my addictive personality pushed me onward to discovering more about Ska and experiencing more of the music it had to offer. i became quite the aficionado of all three “waves” and now have (2) binders worth of the genre (that’s right, i keep my CD’s in a series of binders. But THAT is a whole other story to be told…).

Ska has helped me to get through some pretty tough times in my life – both because of it’s happy beat and the way in which it can be used to totally bitch about something and get it off your chest without demoralizing you in the process. And based on what i’ve heard from those who enjoy the genre along with me (there’s more of us out there than you’d think) – it has had the same positive impact for many. In fact, a good friend just told me yesterday “Ska is also very good to listen to when painting.” And i can attest – while not to be confused with one of the “tough times” i speak of above – it also helps in making the chore of ironing almost a breeze.

On rare occasion (and by “rare occasion”, i mean once every couple of weeks) i will get it into my head, upon waking up on a Saturday, to open one of my Ska binders and slide 5 choice discs into the carousel.

i hit play, and wait for the first “ska-ska-ska’s” to come gently strolling out from the speakers, knowing that when they do, i will shortly thereafter hear at least four people shout in unison “Oh NO!  Not ANOTHER flippin’ Skaturday!

7/24 Love, NY Style

My bestest friends FINALLY got married today – for the third time.

Their paperwork from NY will now be added to that from Canada and the private vows they exchanged previous to their trip to Toronto.

And as fate would have it, the local station interviewed them because they just happened to be the first for my city to exchange vows.

i’m glad that they both look good on television. And i’m thrilled that New York finally sees them as i do…

As equals.

7/22 music to watch the girls go by…

The Bob Crewe Generation was my musical selection for the drive in today, and similar to sunflowers, they have a way of letting you know that just every little thing will be quite all right.

A cheap immitation of Herb Alpert? Sure, i could see why some would make that argument. But Herb never gave the world “Music To Watch The Girls Go By” in the same way Bob did, a song that more than proves itself to actually be a good tune to watch the girls go by. Even if – much like Crewe and his generation – the hobby is no longer in vogue.

Now, i didn’t purchase the CD. i bought the album instead (Amvets*, 99 cents for every album – including boxed sets!), and then “ripped” it to disc via the very bestest Fathers Day present i ever did done receive – my USB turn table. The portable model, of course.

i never take it anywhere, but it takes me to all kinds of places via the musical landscapes i can now throw onto a disc that my car stereo will accept. It’s truly amazing how much music the human race has at one point produced, only to be totally ignored and/or forgotten by later generations. Much like blogging, i must assume that many musicians (the ones with a keen sense of history at any rate) must realize how quickly their hard work will be nothing more than an occasional “what ever happened to…?” or a faded record, sitting idley by in a thrift store.

But i digress – my USB turn table serves me very well indeed. And NO, i do not use programs that will remove the crackle, hiss and pop that can sometimes be heard. If asked, i proudly claim that i am a musical purist, and as such, require that these original elements be left in. But truth be told, it’s simply because i’m lazy, and i have no desire to go mucking about with a whole bunch of settings.

It plays, i click every time a song ends, it imports. And i’m happy. Just like Bob Crewe and his crew wanted me to be.

*i highly recommend everyone go to their local Amvets for some record bin diving. A treasure chest of musical goodies, AND you’re supporting Veterans with your purchases. Go ahead, pat y’self on your back. You know you want to.

7/19 because Lena KNOWS the language…

i’ve heard “You Don’t Have to Know The Language” done by several different performers, but i like Lena Horne’s version best.

The premise of the song – on the off chance that you’ve never heard it – is that a man travels to Brazil and falls in love with a local resident, even though he doesn’t speak Portuguese. Of the versions I’ve heard, most play it in this fashion. A nice and breezy, albeit improbable, love song.

But Lena is much smarter than to believe that this is the true meaning the songwriter was hoping to express, so she cuts to the chase. In her version she has a way of almost “growling” through certain verses, with a tone that reminds you what the song is really all about. So while you hear innocent phrases like “the girl in your arms”, you know from her tone that Ms. Horne is decidedly not thinking about mere snuggling.

If the real story line of the song is to be believed, it would seem odd that two people could meet and exchange “pleasantries” without ever being able to understand a word that either one is saying. Engaging in almost any task where the sole means of communication are facial expression and finger pointing must be difficult – never mind one wherein the fingers will be otherwise occupied and the facial expressions, well, a tad difficult to control at times.

As an idea, you’d be tempted to say that these types of unions don’t happen – but as a former member of the military who went overseas, i must report that it does occur quite more often than you’d think. Its surprising to see how humans can overcome almost any obstacle in the pursuit of sex. If nothing else, the lack of verbal communcation negates the need to exchange numbers, and  it provides a great “out” should the “pleasantries” start showing signs of becoming less than pleasant.

i don’t know that much about Lena Horne – but the way she sings this song – i have a strong feeling that she too knows that these “improbable” hook-ups can and do happen. i have an even stronger feeling that this knowledge may very well have come to her first-hand, much like it did me.