Aug 262014
 

Soooo, a principal in the central part of my Glorious Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but the kibosh on a production of Spamalot because of ‘homosexual themes’:

 

Fabulous!

Well, at least no one will have to push the pram a lot.

 

Personally, I’m amused by the idea that a principal was afraid that a musical might expose students to ‘gay’ ideas. Because if there’s one place a kid wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to anything gay in a small-town high school, that would be the place.

Why do I even have to explain this?

Jun 222014
 

Sooo, today’s Daily Post asks for a memorable moment involving a sporting event.  Some of these prompts are tricky, but not this.  I got this one covered.

It was June of 1992 and the Pittsburgh Penguins just swept the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup.  Woo Hoo!  My friends and were at a bar in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh when this happened.  Like almost everyone else, we poured out of the bar, down the stairs, and out into the street to hoot and holler with everyone else around.  It was your typical evening of (thankfully minor league) mayhem that follows a sports championship.  After a few minutes of jumping and cheering, my 21 year-old self looked at some of the other loonies that had climbed on top of a city bus.  “What a great idea.  I wanna do that too!” my youthful, drunken, and possibly, er, “smoked out” self thought.  And so, I made my climb via the back of the bus to its top.  Boy oh boy, was I having fun!  But then, I heard warnings from below that the cops were coming.  Uh-oh.  Better get outta there!  I looked down and two strangers told me to jump.  “Come on!  We’ll catch you!” they cried out.  “No no no, I’m good man!” I yelled back (or something to that effect) and then hopped off the bus.  And then, POP!  I felt something snap in my left ankle.  There was a brief flash of pain but then that was gone and replaced with a swelling numbness and an inability to stand on that leg.  As others were either still celebrating I found myself in a state of panic and possibly mild shock as I limped around the street yelling “CHAS!!!  CHAS!!!” as I looked for my college roommate.  I eventually found him and one of his fraternity brothers after what seemed like an eternity (read: 5-10 minutes).  The next I remember is limping into his car and going to the nearest emergency room.  One long, painful wait later, and I found myself fitted with a nice plaster cast.  I would be wearing it for the next six weeks.  During that time, I learned about the unique pleasures of showering while injured, hobbling around on crutches, and why pencils and rulers are your best friend when you get an itch beneath a cast.  It wasn’t my greatest moment, to be sure.  Still, my sister pointed out to me a few years ago that I was just being young and stupid and that I should just laugh about it.  Plus, she pointed out, it makes for a good story.  And she was right.  And there you have it, that’s my story involving a sporting event.

Jun 052014
 

So, Writing 101 bids us to write about loss.  I could get into some heavy stuff, but I prefer to keep it light tonight.  So, let me tell yinz about a mix tape that went *poof* just as it was taking shape.

It was the spring of 1991, and there weren’t no interwebs.  No sir, if you wanted to mix and match songs, you hadda go out and record ’em off of another cassette or CD.  You hadda work for it!  It took not only time and effort to record each song but it was often a challenge to search for and physically gather the music you wanted to record also.  It could take weeks.  As a result, it often became a challenge to build one that stood out.  Sure, you could just blandly copy a favorite release from a friend to save a few bucks or just slap together a few random favorites of yours, but that wasn’t very satisfying in the long run.  No, if you wanted something that would satisfy you and impress your friends and (hoped for) loved ones, you had to stretch your creative muscles and put a lot of thought and effort into it.

Now, one route was to build one based on a theme of some sort.  It could be, say, a mix tape filled only with songs that featured the saxaphone in them (something you don’t hear a lot of these days – R.I.P. Clarence!) or maybe your best-of alternative breakup songs.  Or, you could go for eclecticism.  The tape I was building that spring was headed that way.

It started with a trip to Washington D.C. with a friend (He would later become a roommate and in the process a bitter enemy.  But that’s another story.) I had made at WPTS, Pitt’s radio station.  I was working as a news reader and he was the news director.  We hit it off, and so I hopped a ride down to D.C. with him one weekend in late March on a road trip.  On the way down and back, he played a most excellently varied tape of his own.  It had everything from “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” to a couple of comedy bits to “Master of the House” from Les Miserables.  I was suitably impressed – and inspired.  And so, I got to work.  I shamelessly borrowed his tape to copy “Istanbul” and “Master” but then followed my muse.  I manged to find N.W.A.’s “100 Miles and Running” and included it.  Best of all, I managed to get one of my fellow radio station news readers (and also future roommate – also part of that other story) to copy the theme to Late Night With David Letterman.  I’m talking the original version that played to the opening of his NBC show, back when he was mean, bitchy, and awesomely hilarious in his own gonzo way.  That theme.  Oh yeah.  He had to go in a record it from the old, blocky 8-track type radio cart tapes onto cassette.  That was the icing on the cake.  I was on a roll now, I was putting together something special, it was lightning in a bottle.

Or so it might have been.  Joe asked to borrow the tape just before the end of spring semester in late April of ’91.  I agreed.  And that was the end of that.  I never saw it again.  I should have taken it as dark omen of that guy’s ways, too, but again, that’s another story, and I was young and naive.  Still, that loss hurt.  Sure, I would go on to make more mix tapes in the years to come, but it was never quite the same.  I never had the drive to craft something truly special.  My muse had left me by then.  I still mourn the loss of that tape, and now, in this era of digital music, it’s too late.  Putting together a song list isn’t the same.  What takes 5 minutes now could have taken, as I alluded, 5 weeks back then.  Farewell, oh fading ember of my youth.  You are gone, but never forgotten.

 

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