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Keying in on Ray Manzarek of the Doors
May 22, 2013
Another musical icon passed on Monday (cancer at the age of 74). Ray
Manzarek was an innovative keyboardist and music maestro for the Doors.
The face and voice of that famous rock group was Jim Morrison, but it
was Manzarek's keyboard work that really set the tone, especially on
some of their bigger hits like "Love Her Madly", "Break On Through",
"Hello, I Love You", "LA Woman" and even lesser known songs like "Soul
Kitchen". I am not in any way lessening the importance of guitarist
Robby Krieger or drummer John Densmore; they were integral parts of the
band. But Ray laid the musical foundation. The opening riffs of "Light
My Fire" are embedded in me and a whole generation of children from the
time I heard Manzarek interviewed I was always struck by his articulate
expression of the music, his craft, the "scene" and anything else he
commented on. He was a good writer, too, and in addition to his memoir,
Light My Fire: My Life With the Doors, he also penned two novels. One of them explored in fiction the urban myth of Jim Morrison faking his death. This Los Angeles Times article comments on his books.
It's inevitable as time goes on that more of the entertainers from the
cultural revolution of the 1960's will be ending their earthly journey.
It certainly gives me pause and reason to reminisce. It also offers the
opportunity to introduce their talents and legacy to a new generation.
The Doors are a prime example of a group that continued to gain new
fans long after their heyday.
The Roar of the Tornado
May 20, 2013
It can sound like a thousand freight trains. The roar of a tornado is alarming, and with good reason. The news from today
and yesterday about the powerful tornadoes that hit Oklahoma brought
back memories of attending college in the late 1970's at the University
of Oklahoma. Norman is the town where OU is based and it is also the
national center for severe weather studies.
Many a time we would hear the tornado sirens blaring warnings and then
we would scramble for shelter. In my time at the university we never
had one touch down in Norman, but I recall once when a tornado flew
right over our dorm building. Another time I and two college pals were
emerging from a diner on the outskirts of Norman and the sky had that
eerie green/black color. The hairs on our neck and arms were at static
electricity attention. We looked at each other and quickly hopped in
the car. Driving towards home we heard the sirens and had to stop at a
bowling alley and hunker down while the twisters flew past us. We were
lucky - no funnels hit our ground. But just a few miles away the storms
wreaked havoc and destruction.
It's common to talk about the weather. When there really is
something to talk about it is worth preserving the story. Natural
disasters cause hardship and heartbreak. But they are also part of our
personal history landscape. Got a storm memory to write about? Send me a short introduction. It could be the beginning of a memoir or life story.
Preserving Our American Family
May 14, 2013
Who is saving the voices of America? That's a pretty wide open
question. Many people enjoy the stories that various family members
share. In every family there is often somebody known for being a
good storyteller. Over time those stories get better as they are
repeated and they tend to become remembered and passed on.
But how many people actually record the talking of other family
members? Get beyond being uncomfortable at being recorded and sit down
with someone and talk to them, ask them about life, and save those
Doing this might give you a better idea of the importance of saving
voices. To go beyond that and see how it is being done in a grander and
more professional way, explore Our American Family.
This project is capturing the voices of everyday families and
documenting their extraordinary stories as a PBS television series.
This is an excellent way for us to learn about our shared heritage and
to better appreciate how every family has a story worth preserving.
Ice Cream Makers Oral History - How Dreyer's Is Preserving Their Success Story
May 8, 2013
Dreyer's is an ice cream making company whose story of developing from
a small company to one of America's most popular brands is being
preserved through oral history interviews
that include former owners, investors and other significant players
over the years. Their philosophy makes for a good story, but I
also applaud how they are going about saving some important company
history. Thanks to videographer RJ McHatton of Inventive Productions for alerting me and others to this story through the APH Facebook page.
May 6, 2013
Most of us are on our feet everyday. The shoes we wear can make a
statement - perhaps about your work, lifestyle or degree of
comfort or discomfort you are willing to put up with.
shoes tell a story. The pair pictured here are my latest and they
are about to be retired. Since 2006 I've been doing some distance
running and that has included a couple of marathons and another half
dozen half marathons. I've run for charity, for fitness, for spiritual
release and just for the sheer need to be outdoors taking in the world
from the perspective of a runner. That means legs and lungs pumping,
music in my ears and a song in my heart.
I've never run the Boston Marathon (I'm not that good), but when the
tragic news broke about the bombings at this year's event it struck me
to the core. I immediately felt a bond with all the people who were
affected. That bond is even stronger now that I've had a chance to read
some of the amazing short contributions by runners from this year's
event. Boston Magazine was
getting their May issue ready to go to the printers when this year's
Boston Marathon was defiled. But the act of terrorists cannot kill the
spirit of runners, Boston nor good people everywhere. This is a fact
we've seen comfirmed many times since April 15.
The staff of the magazine made the right decision to change their cover
and provide a feature story. They didn't have much time to work on it,
but the response via social media, email and personal contact was great
and they were able to include some powerful reports
from people who participated in the marathon. And the picture on the
cover of the magazine is awe-inspiring. Running shoes in the shape of a
heart with the middle left open and the words, "We Will Finish The
Race". Good job, Boston Magazine. Well done, contributors. Boston Strong, indeed.
In Passing - Death as Transition
April 29, 2013
I've often wondered at the analogy some use about dying, that it is
like the passing of a baton. We are carrying the "baton" of this life
and when we die we pass it off. I must admit I like the image of our
carrying something through life, be it our gift, our personality, or
our essence, that is left behind as we pass over to the next life or
plane of existence.
"In passing" - it's a phrase that is with me again. Two days ago my
aunt died. She was 88 and lived a good life, full of adventure, travel
and a variety of experiences. She was modest and quiet, didn't like to
talk about herself, but she knew a lot and loved to read books on
history. | continue reading |
Richie Haven's Unique Voice
April 25, 2013
Those who saw the Woodstock Festival
documentary (or were lucky enough to be there in person in 1969 for
"three days of peace, love and music") were treated to an incredible
opening. One man, with his guitar, percussive strumming and singing,
delivered a tour de force. Folk singer Richie Havens - there simply
wasn't anybody else like him in music. His riveting raspy voice, his
passionate delivery and his interpretation of songs was unique.
His voice was more than the sound coming from his vocal chords. He
spoke volumes in action and deed. Richie Havens passed away at the age
of 72 this week and the the many great comments I've seen repeated from
the likes of fellow musicians, broadcasters and journalists all seem to
have a similar theme. All
week long I've been reading comments on Facebook from some of my dear
former radio colleagues as well as a few who participated in Woodstock.
There was Michael Shrieve, a mere teenager at the festival and
memorable for his inspiring drumming with Santana, lamenting that he
never was able to put together the collaboration with Havens he'd hoped
for. Pete Townshend, guitarist and songwriter for the Who chipped
in about missing the great man. Even Wavy Gravy, the iconic hippie,
posted a haiku tribute.
was admired for his music, but also for his love of others, his huge
heart and great personality. These are the kinds of things said after
someone dies that demonstrate the lasting impression a person can leave
from a life well lived.
I always loved Richie's version of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun".
He took George Harrison's song in a different direction and made it his
It seems like a lot of celebrities have died recently. Maybe this
happens in spurts, or maybe I've just noticed. Richie Haven's one that
couldn't happen without a comment. I loved his unique voice. Find out
more about him. There is plenty online, including this NPR article that includes some great video of Havens at Woodstock.
Boston Be Strong and Brave
April 21, 2013
When fans gathered at Fenway Park in Boston on April 20, 2013 they came
for more than a baseball game. On this particular Saturday Bostonians
came to the ballpark both to seek companionship and a return to
normalcy.They also came remember and honor the lives lost or
dramatically changed after the bombings and violence of the past week.
| continue reading |
Bombs at Boston Marathon - A Runner's Lament
April 16, 2013
Running a marathon is very hard. The long distance running event of
26.2 miles takes a physical, mental and emotional toll on every
contestant. This doesn't include the long hours and many miles of
training leading up to the event. I know from personal experience,
having run my first two marathons the year I turned fifty.
The news of the tragedy
that unfolded in Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013 at the most
iconic of all marathons has once again rocked our world. Two bombs went
off near the finish line about two hours after the first runners
finished. Thousands were crowded into the area and the bombs created
instant destruction and harm. At the time I am writing this three
people have been confirmed dead, including an eight year old boy, and
As a runner this act of terrorism affects me in a way I couldn't
predict. When I heard the news yesterday afternoon I was shocked,
angered and saddened. I thought of how drained, and yet elated, I felt
at the conclusion of the marathons I've run. And I remember how my
family members were at the finish line cheering me on. I thought of the
many doing the same at Monday's Boston Marathon. This bombing is a
violation of life and something that normally would be a great
celebration. It is an attack on something sacred. To me it is as bad as
bombing a religious service.
There is a code among runners. I've seen it in the eyes of others who
trudged the hard miles of long distances, a silent exchange that
acknowledges that we are doing something difficult, yet triumphant.
Many runners often take up the challenge of a marathon as a way to
bring attention to certain causes. An example is fighting cancer and
fundraising for research through organizations such as Team in Training to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I have family members and friends who've died of cancer and I have
run in support of this research. It was one of the most important
things I've done in my life (read The Finish Line).
Our prayers, thoughts and support go out to all affected by the
bombings. Tragedy happens in our lives, but the human spirit will
prevail. Hearts will reach out in support and compassion. Already I've
heard of many Bostonians opening their homes to stranded visitors. Our
lives and our stories about the events of our lives are important to
preserve. We need to remember, to honor and to send a message to the
world that we will not be defeated by cowardly acts of terrorism.
Thumbs Up for the Life of Roger Ebert
April 8, 2013
I never met the man, but I feel like I know him. I read many of
Roger Ebert's film reviews over the years. Sometimes I angrily
disagreed, at other times it was more of a shrug that we didn't see
eye-to-eye, but there were also plenty of times when I thought his
insight was terrific. He clearly loved the movies and loved to write
and talk about them. He saw them as a way to comment about life in
general, which perhaps makes the title of his memoir, Life Itself: A Memoir, all the more appropriate.
Like many people of my generation, I often watched Ebert and Siskel
battle back and forth over film reviews. They clearly loved the debate.
And if a movie got two thumbs up they would both articulate why they
felt that way, sometimes sparking additional debate!
Longtime Chicagoan, Roger Ebert was laid to rest today after passing away from a long bout with cancer this past Thursday (Tribune article
by Mark Caro). He was 70 years old and the past few years a man who
loved to talk couldn't after complications from a surgery to fight his
thyroid cancer in 2006. But he still continued to write and he had a
real gift for commentary, not just about movies, but also about his
view on life, love, social justice and a myriad of other topics. I've
been reading some postings and, in particular, I recommend Tim Grierson
of PASTE with My Roger Ebert, and the Salon interview reposted, I do not fear death.
Thank you, Roger Ebert, for sharing your insight, commentary and passion for the moview. "Thumbs up" on a life well-lived.
has a story to tell!
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