THE LIGHT IN THE CORNER – Rich Paschall

The Way We Were, Rich Paschall

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were.

It has occurred to me that the formative moments of my lifetime have no point of reference for anyone born after 1990. I have sometimes referred to events that I remember well, only to have younger people, sometimes not even “young” people, look at me as if they can not relate to that time in history.

Perhaps it was the same when I was younger and hearing about things that were not that much earlier than my lifetime.  For example, I could not relate to the stories of the depression era, even though that point in time dramatically affected the lives of my parents and grandparents.

World War II was something we read about in history books.  I could not consider that my father was a member of our “greatest generation” and fought in the war. In fact he served in the 509 Composite on Tinian Island.  It never occurred to me to question him about the historic events of his time.

Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were

The “Leave It To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” days of the 1950’s are rather a blur to me.  I hold isolated memories of certain moments, some of them were good, others not so much.  I do remember getting to watch particular programs on our large 19 inch black and white television. It would be a long time before color television came along and we could afford one of those.

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line

Alan Shepherd was the first man in space and we watched it on television in 1961. Ten years later he walked on the moon. Sometimes we got to watch reports of the space program on television in school.

I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It was a time when it seemed like nuclear war was right around the corner. We had air raid drills at school. We got under our desks and covered our heads as if that was going to protect us from a nuclear explosion. We knew where the air raid shelters were located in case we needed to go there in non-school hours. I am pretty sure we stocked up on can goods just in case supermarkets and food supplies were blown into the next dimension.

Like many Americans, I know where I was when John Kennedy was shot. We followed the non-stop television coverage during a time when there was no cable or satellite television and no all-news stations. What could be more important than the assassination of our president?

Memories may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget

I recall the assassination of Martin Luther King and the worries that followed. Then there was the assassination of Robert Kennedy. It was too painful to remember, but these things shaped our youth.

Martin Luther King

The Viet Nam War was not a moment in history to us. It was a long and complicated process that split America apart and brought protests to the street. Living in a major urban area, we always wondered if the unrest would reach us. The Democratic National Convention was here in 1968. Riots erupted in the park that now holds Lollapalooza each year.

timetoast.com

The break-in of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate complex in 1972 ultimately brought down a president. It all played out in dramatic fashion on live television. Today many scandals have the word “gate” added to the end. Young people likely have no idea why.

So it’s the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

The late ’70s brought us disco and urban cowboys. We were old enough then to go to clubs and dance like we knew what we were doing. Our music moved from social commentary to “dance fever.” It was a quick shift in the social dynamic. We also had gas shortages in ’73 and ’79. Yes, gas stations would run out of gas and there were times when you could only buy gas on certain days, depending on your license number.  I didn’t own a car the first time, and I guess I didn’t get around much the second time.

The ’80s were a time of community theater and new friendships for me.  I also remember the fallacy of trickle-down economics. It was the same failed theory as today’s failed policy. The Cold War ended, well sort of. The AIDS crisis began.

From there the rest of life intervened.  You know, going to work, paying the bills, trying to get by in a complicated world. There were issues of aging parents and family obligations. Then one day you are just older, like your grandparents were when you were young.

If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?

1987

Which of these events was the most significant in my life? I am not sure I can say. They all affected us in ways it is hard to tell many years later. But these are the ones that stand out.  It is the stream of my consciousness. They are the events that light the corners of my mind.  I did not write them down in advance. I sat down and just wrote them out as they came to me. Do these events mean anything to anyone born after 1990?

I wonder what are the significant historic or social events for those born in 1991. Someday these millennials will find that there are people who can not relate to what they are saying.

By the way, I got to see Streisand do this twice in concert. It was worth every penny.

STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND? – Rich Paschall

The “What Ifs” of Life, by Rich Paschall

Certainly, you have seen some of the various questions surrounding you being stranded on a desert island.  If you were stranded, who would you like to be with?  What 5 things would you take along?  What 5 things that you have now could you do without?  What one album would you take?  What electronic device would you need?  This assumes you would not run out of batteries I guess.

These, and questions like them, present interesting challenges to a person that they may not consider otherwise.  Who is the most important person in your life?  Is that the one you want by your side?  Perhaps you would rather have someone with survival skills.  Perhaps you would not want the other to be stranded too.  Perhaps you would rather be alone.

What 5 things would you take along?  This really calls for creative thinking.  You may consider clothes, but do you need more than you are wearing?  You might consider your music, but would that come ahead of other basic needs.  Perhaps you are one that considers music a basic need.  I know those type of people.

Birdie Beach

Would you think of camping supplies?  If you are not already a camper or outdoors person, would any of that mean anything to you.  I guess you could be clever and say you need a lifetime supply of canned goods, but then don’t forget the can opener.  Or something to start a fire.  I have heard all my life that you can start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, but I have never seen anyone actually do it.  Can you?  If so, you may be on my stranded island list.

DawnFlight-300B-72

Would you consider tools to build a shelter?  Just exactly how handy are you and what kind of tools would be suited to your skills?  I guess an ax could serve many useful purposes.  Did you have it on your list?  Did you add a hammer?  You may not need it if you have an ax.  A knife? A pick?  A power drill?  Oops, no power.

Let’s say you had an electric device whose battery was solar-powered or recharged.  What then would you take along?  I think you will not get the internet, although some day you may get that from just about anywhere.  What will you do on your island in the meantime?

Sunrise Strider

If you could take just one album, what would it be?  This is a hard one for me.  When I get an album I like, I can play it over and over, but I do get tired of it eventually and put it on a shelf.  I guess I would pick someone’s greatest hits album, but whose?

Let’s forget about the desert island for a moment and bring you back home.  What if you had just one day to live?  What would you do?  Who would you see?  What would you say?

The “one day to live” scenario is thrown out there on social media and elsewhere about as often as the desert island scenarios.  It is even more challenging as people think of all the things they were going to do but never got around to it.  The long trips are out.  The classes to learn some skill are out.

So we may be left with planning a last meal.  Are we making this feast or heading to a favorite restaurant?  Perhaps it is neither, as we go to someplace we have never tried before.  I hear there is a new French restaurant in town.  Maybe I want to go there.

75-RosyDawn-NIK-CR

Are there people to whom you absolutely must say something?  Do you need to say good-bye to someone?  Do you need to tell someone you love him or her?  Do you need to apologize for something that happened in the past?  With a limited amount of time, which people are on the list for final conversations?

The 24-hour time frame automatically eliminates a lot of possibilities.  Would you watch a movie, go to a show, see a play?  Those all seem like such poor use of precious hours to me.

Would you go to an expensive concert if you had tickets, or would the expense no longer matter?  Perhaps you should give them away and do something else.  Would you watch television, YouTube videos, surf the internet?  I guess those practices would begin to seem like quite the waste when “the days (or hours) dwindle down to a precious few.”

96-SunriseWalkNIK-CR-1

What if we lived our lives like only a few things were really important?  What if we lived our lives like there was only a day left, even if there were 25 thousand days left?  Wouldn’t it be richer and more meaningful?

There is nothing wrong with looking down the road, but too many of us are not living for today.  That is why those stranded island and one day to live scenarios are so scary.  They immediately call to mind all the things we missed out on in life and can not go back to fix.

96-ocean-Sunrise

When you are left on an island or reach the final day, make sure you did what you wanted and needed to do.  That you respected everyone.  That you told people you loved them, so you don’t leave with regrets.

Be sure that you mended fences in case there is no time later to do it.  If you do this, the one day to live challenges on social media might not be so scary.  By the way, if you are stranded on a desert island, it helps to have a volleyball named Wilson.

GOOD OLD ROCK ‘N ROLL – Rich Paschall

One Hit Wonders of 1969, by Rich Paschall

While some songs often come Home To You and say I Wanna Be Your Dog, the artists behind them may have faded into Echo Park.  That’s why we are going to have a Birthday party and welcome them back for Apricot Brandy and Bubble Gum Music.

record player
Lift-off of the Saturn V rocket, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.

Now if Cinnamon will just let us in, we are ready to blast off into the past. We will bring along Bella Linda, Big Bruce and the California Girl.  What is The Worst That Could Happen? I suppose there will be the Games People Play, but we will Kick Out The Jams.  Pay no attention to that Hot Smoke and Sasafrass, it just means the party is starting to heat up and There’s Something In The Air.

Don’t worry, I Gotta Line On You, babe, and see that you are ready to Get Together.  We will play More Today Than Yesterday because Tracy, when I’m with you, we have all the 45’s we need. Everyone will join in for our Simple Song of Freedom, as well as my top ten one hit wonders of a most memorable year. I see you have waited patiently for some Good Old Rock ‘N Roll, and we will Get It From The Bottom:

10. In The Year 2525, Zagar and Evans. I really liked this song in ’69 and bought the 45. Now I find it a bit obnoxious and repetitious.

9. Take A Letter Maria, R.B. Greaves. This was recorded in August, released in September and sold a million copies by November.

8. Sugar on Sunday, Clique. The song is a cover of an earlier Tommy James and the Shondells’ song.

7. Poke Salad Annie, Tony Joe White. The artist wrote and performed the hit. He found little success recording, but wrote other hits including “Rainy Night in Georgia.”

6. Baby It’s You, Smith. No, it’s not The Smiths. That  was a later group.  This short lived band is fronted by Gayle McCormick.

5. Love (Can Make You Happy), Mercy. The song was recorded at Sundi and released, and later recorded again at Warner Brothers where the band actually signed. Sundi was sued and their album was no longer allowed distribution.  Which version do you hear? You have to check the label, they sound alike.

4. More Today Than Yesterday, Spiral Staircase. The hit was written by lead singer Pat Upton. The group did not last much longer after this million seller.

3. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, Steam. We may not have known the song or the fictitious band in ’69, but everyone in Chicago came to know it in 1977 and following years. The White Sox started using the tune to play off opposing pitchers who were being replaced. That was a hit. The group on the album cover and in the old video is a road group that had nothing to do with the recording and is, in fact, lip syncing.

2. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’, Crazy Elephant. This was another short-lived band that was mainly a studio creation. The song failed to chart when first released, but was re-released a couple of months later and climbed the charts to number 12 in the US.

1. Morning Girl, The Neon Philharmonic. This group was around a few years, then sold off the name. It achieved the big sound by using members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. There are bigger hits on this list, as this one only climbed to number 17, but it is one of the ones I remember best.

The lack of good performance videos is due to the fact that many of these groups were not around for very long. Click on any song title to go to a video. Click here for the entire playlist of one hit wonders.

See also, THIS MAGIC MOMENT, The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1969, Serendipity.

Sources include: 1969 One Hit Wonders & Artists Known For One Song, https://hotpopsongs.com/

GIMME GIMME GOOD LOVIN’ – Rich Paschall

Another One Hit Wonder, by Rich Paschall

From Atlanta, Georgia, to the Gulf Stream water
up to California end I’m gonna spend my life both night and day

Good Lovin’?

Crazy Elephant – 1969

To the girls in Frisco, to the girls in New York
To the girls in Texican, you gotta understand
That baby I’m your man

Leif Garrett – 1980

Helix – 1984

This is another 1969 one hit wonder. The original did better than any of the many cover versions that followed. Crazy Elephant was another of those studio creations with a fake band biography. It was probably easier to create these fake stories for teen magazines then, than it would be now. Nope, they were not Welsh coal miners.

The song was released in January with little success. It was re-released in March and climbed the charts to Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Former Cadillacs member Robert Spencer was the lead vocalist for most songs of the short-lived band.

Teen idol Leif Garrett had a go at it in 1984. He signed his 5 album record deal in 1976, so by this point he was on the down side of his heart-throb days. After all, he was twenty-two.

Canadian “big hair band” Helix (you know, big hair like Motely Crue, Poison, Whitesnake) gave it a harder edge when they put out their version in 1986. It had limited success but they are still doing it. You can see a 2018 performance here. Yes, it is more painful now than it was then.

The song made my top ten of 1969 one hit wonders. What are the others? You will have to check that out this Sunday on SERENDIPITY, because I know you are eagerly waiting for another Top Ten list

So who do you think sang this one better? Comment below.

Also see and hear this other 1969 hit: Morning Girl by clicking the title.

THE COMMUNITY EVENT – Rich Paschall

Do You Have The Time? by Rich Paschall

There are plenty of community organizations that will grab your time, if only you let them. They want you for a variety of tasks and the really organized organizers will stalk you if they think you will volunteer for something. They want you to stuff envelopes, sell tickets, make phone calls, sit at booths and sell things. They will have you directing traffic, ushering people, handing out programs. You can go to meetings, answer email, talk on the phone, spend hours of your precious time in pursuit of the organizational mission, whatever that might be.

But what if you do not have the time for this? After all, if you are part of a family crew, you may have to drive little Johnny or Suzy to soccer practice, karate lessons, football practice, baseball practice, cheerleading practice, dance class, piano lessons, drum and bugle corps, or basketball games. If they are young, it is pre-school or grade school or daycare or after school care. If they are older it is still sports, music, dances, proms, band, drama, speech and please, drop them at the corner so no one knows their mommy is still driving them around.

Of course, there are all the adult requirements too.  There are weddings and showers, wakes, and funerals. As we get older, there are more of the latter. There are dances and parties we don’t want to attend and family events for which you must make your famous __________ (insert dish name here). It all keeps us so very busy. How dare these “organizers” presume to prevail upon our valuable time?

Yet, these various events to which you are driving the beloved little ones (or not-so-little ones) are probably staffed by volunteers. Adults and a handful of older kids are taking tickets, selling refreshments, selling t-shirts, directing people around events. They are running for ice, and pop and cups and napkins. They are getting mustard and ketchup. They are making emergency runs to Costco or Sam’s Club so they do not run out of water or buns or napkins. In other words, they are making everything possible that you and little Johnny and Suzy are attending.

As a staff member at a community organization for a few years, and for a private school a few others, I know what it is like to have to run events, dependent on volunteers who may or may not show up. Fortunately, most are dedicated and in their places when the time comes.

Yes, that's me on the left, getting rained on for the cause.
Yes, that’s me on the left, getting rained on for the cause.

While some organizations pressure the parents of the children who participate to volunteer, many others are reliant on the goodwill of neighbors and friends.  Though many do not realize it, the events they attend throughout the year might not be there if there were no volunteers. In fact, some community organizations die for lack of volunteer spirit. A founder of one community organization here said many decades after the organization he began was up and running, that perhaps it should die if the community was not willing to come forward and support it. They, in fact, gave up some large events for lack of volunteers.

Here I could give you the “social contract” type speech. You know the one.  If you are part of the community, you must give up something in order to reap the benefits of community activities. That something you must give up is your time. I know that is hard to do in this day and age. After all, we must get home to check our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We must look at Instagram and Snapchat. We must check Messenger and Skype. Then there is Pinterest and YouTube, Vimeo and Vevo.

What enriches our lives is what we invest in. If we invest in our community and its events, then we are richer too. The volunteer spirit does not necessarily lead to dull and boring jobs. Instead, it can lead to knowing your neighbors. You could be learning about the organization to which you and your children participate. It can open new avenues to friendship in the community in which you live. It can give you an understanding of what it takes to make a community.

Hillary Clinton famously said “It Takes A Village,” from the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.

In fact, it takes a community, a good community, to raise a child. The only way a community can be good and strong is with the volunteer spirit of its residents. Are you going to give up an occasional Saturday at some event or sports bar to aid your community, or will you just let someone else do it? If you choose the latter, then I remind you of the philanthropist who suggested that it might be better to let a community organization die, if the community was unwilling to support it.

THE QUESTIONS WITH JUST ONE ANSWER – Rich Paschall

No Mystery Here, by Rich Paschall

Many questions may arise throughout each week in your household.  If it is a multi-person household, it may be difficult to ascertain the answers, but in a two-person household, there is just one option.

You probably know all these questions.  They are standard and customary in life.  People everywhere are asking them.  Some will need to be repeated often during the year.  Each response, if you get one in your multi-person home, may surprise you.  If you have multiple teenagers, for example, you may think you know who caused _________ (fill in the issue), only to find out later that a different teenager, or even your mate, is responsible.

Arriving at Chicago O’Hare

When my mate joined me here, all things were fine at first.  I tried to accommodate my friend as best I could, and he tried to fit into the routine of his new house.  Each of us, I do believe, was conscious of the fact that changes and concessions needed to be made.

Then something happened, as it does with all mates.  We got comfortable with one another.  This meant we reverted to old habits from when we lived alone or picked up new ones based on our new environment.

This inevitably led to the type of situations that most of us face. These situations give rise to the questions you certainly have heard, and/or asked throughout your lifetime.  Now, here in our humble lodgings, I have those same questions, and of course, so does my mate.  We both know the answers to these questions, as there can be just one answer, but we sometimes ask them anyway.

“Who left the empty milk carton on the kitchen table?” The answer to this is the same as the more frustrating variable, “Who put the empty milk carton back in the refrigerator?” Usually, the response is the “I don’t know” look.  You know, the same one the dog will give you when asked who knocked over the garbage can and spread its contents about.

We also have “Who used up the paper towels and did not replace the roll?”  We always have paper towels on hand  One of us did not grow up with the concerns about waste as the other.  Three rolls of paper towels would have lasted me a year.  Now we buy a six-roll pack every few weeks.

That question is not as frustrating as the similar “Who used up the toilet paper and did not replace the roll?” Yes, we keep toilet paper in the bathroom, but I never discover there is none on the roller until I need it.  Furthermore, someone often removes the old roll and puts it in a basket in the bathroom.  No, not a wastebasket, but one of four small metal baskets on a stand used for various toiletries.

I guess that would give rise to the “Who did not put this empty roll in the recycle bin?” but that really is not the more important question, is it?

Each of us prefers to do the dishes because quite honestly, we both think the other one sucks at it.  Seriously, rubbing a soapy sponge over a dish does not necessarily clean it, but I digress.  Unlike my mate, I have lived in the apartment for many years and know exactly how much of something we have.  So, when I am doing the dishes, I know what is missing.

“Do you have one of the wine glasses in the bedroom?”  This might actually go along with the protestation “No!” “Well we are missing one and it is not in the cabinet, not in the kitchen or living room, so it must be in the bedroom.”  Once again  I may get the same stare your dog has perfected for “Who, me?”  “Oh, yes it is here, sorry.”

Now I will confess that I too can be on the wrong end of our household questions.  I may hear “Rich?”  Actually, in our case, it is more likely to be “Reeeeech?” This may come in a somewhat ominous and accusing tone.

“Yes?”

“Did you eat the other pastry I brought home from the Colombian bakery yesterday?”  I can not accuse the dog since we do not have one.  And I can not blame the cat since he never comes in the house anymore since John is here.  He has taken up residence in the basement.  Besides, the cat does not like pastry, as far as I know.

Since we are both drivers on the same car, we can now ask “Who drove the car last and left the gas tank on ‘E,’ as in empty?”  Fortunately, roomie is willing to right this particular wrong, if I am willing to hand over the cash, or the credit card.

There are many other questions.  “Who left their socks on the living room floor?  Who left their gym shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor? Who broke my coffee cup?”

You can see each of these questions has but one answer.  Sometimes, I do not bother asking them as I do not need to drive the point home…again. But I will ask all of them again soon because that is the way of modern life in our household.  How about yours?

MORNING GIRL

Who Sang It Better? by Rich Paschall

Mornin’ girl, how’d ya sleep last night?
You’re sev’ral ages older now

Oh, no, things are different now than they were before
You know love is more than kisses

The Neon Philharmonic – 1969

The Lettermen – 1971

Morning girl, where you been so long?
Your lips have got some color now
A little too much color now
Your clothes have gone from nylon to lace, somehow

Shaun Cassidy – 1976

It was a one hit wonder for The Neon Philharmonic in 1969.  They achieved the big sound by using musicians from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.  The lead singer was Don Gant. It only made number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.  It did somewhat better in Canada.

Although credited to the Lettermen, you are only hearing one of their singers in the 1971 cover. Jim Pike sang with the group from 1959 to 1974 and does the honors here. The Lettermen were quite successful covering the songs of others.

The Shaun Cassidy cover is his first single. It may seem strange that the teen heart-throb of the 70’s is singing different lyrics than the others. That is because he is actually singing a follow-up song from The Neon Philharmonic entitled “Morning Girl, Later.” It had the exact same melody and was meant to take the story, if you could even say there was one, a little further along.  Perhaps it was felt the lyrics were a little better for the young Cassidy than the other one. He was still in high school.