Silly Love Songs

The moment of awareness of sexuality comes with vistas not before imagined.    Kind of like in the Wonder Years and I was about to find my own Winnie Cooper.

.   But this process was painful and at times I felt like I was watching a show from behind a sound-proof glass.  I was in love with a few girls and a few could see behind the two-way mirrors.    Music was a way to escape and so naturally certain songs were buoyant,  light-hearted and romantic in a way that fit with my own personality.

So I cringe at terms like one-hit wonders, bubble-gum music and silly love longs.   Paul McCartney nailed it and even John Lenin and Yoko Ono proved that commercialized music may not be all that bad.    For me it was Day After Day by Bad Finger and  I pined for a cute little idealistic blond teen.  I remember that we went on a date to the Paddock Room and I stammered and stumbled and was probably incoherent but it was a date and it became news around the school.    One of her friends found out we went out on a date and said that I had the hots for her!  And I did.   I fumbled that ball a few times but years later the ball was back in my hands and I fumbled it yet again.

“What she had realised was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

She basically told me one day long after High School  that I already found what I was looking for.   Her!   I was confused and botched that badly but she still really liked me,  just a bit concerned that I missed the obvious clues.   It was like I found the pot of gold but just stared at it and then walked away.

The old High School was a special place where we would play basketball on a court that had a shallow ceiling so you had to shoot a somewhat flat shot.  Oddly enough they used to play Varsity Basketball games on that cozy little court.  The place had the old building scent which wafted through it’s halls and hinted at love and life and where in the gutters floated love notes and old trees cried out.

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“What she had realised was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

One night Mom drove me to the old school and there she was in the crowd still yet coming into focus.  She was pretty as a Blue Jay and wobbly as a colt,  I saw her skating across the ice when she suddenly saw me and smiled.   It was a soft invitation and I took advantage of that opportunity to say “Hi” to her.   I was a terrible skater and was very skilled at falling down.   Noticing that she grabbed my hands and steadied me.   I was in heaven.    The warmth of her body and the prospects of something more filled my mind with curious and yet predictable emotions.

As a side note,  I did have a first love.    The kind where you smile at each other meant you were going steady…LOL

I did have a sixth grade girlfriend named Cheryl and during the fall festival and play I was a paper-machete pumpkin with a green hat that looked like a stem.    Sitting inert on the stage until my cue,  I was rather inspicuous.  Afterwards I dressed in a suit and tie we danced and for some reason it seemed that all the parents with little girls was smitten by me and I had serious game in spite of my shyness.    I had ton of pictures taken by parents and this was more fun than square dancing in gym class.

Next year I was in upstate NY in a very strange place,   where the community was named after our family Ellistown in Barton, NY outside of Waverly and on Ellistown Road.    We moved to the old Brink’s Greenhouse and their fading history replete with a caretaker’s house that become home to hundreds of wasps and other incendiary insects.   My parents found Rhubarb though I had never heard of that before.

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On my first day in homeroom class the teacher accosted poor Ann R. with a comment about the contraband in her mouth. (gum).    I think we were more perplexed about the word (contraband) and I was pondering Ann’s abject humiliation and embarrassment…..

Even at that point were the Freudian connection with her plight and my trying to remain as anonymous as possible.   Things were a bit discomfiting as I was elected to the Student Council for our homeroom.    An honor that I was both proud of and embarrassed by.    I got the feeling the election was more of a joke than an honor.

So the music does play a role in the development of our higher needs.    Merely dismissing out of hand any song because of what some people consider to be corny or not deep is ridiculous.    These songs do get overplayed but that isn’t the artist fault and sometimes the DJ’s either.    From Seasons In The Sun to Sugar Sugar by the Archies,  these iconic pops songs transcended the Rock N Roll critics scorn and embedded themselves in the psyche of our frontal lobes.   These radio voices were our muses and they live forever and a day.

I think it is funny when the rock jocks,  those middle-aged men dressed in black whine about superficial pop songs while wailing on a Fender Stratocaster as their own aging bodies and receding hairlines and pony tails are stuck in a past to be forgotten like an old Class Yearbook and High Times Magazine.     Between have Lava Lamps,  Mood Rings and Chia Pets there are far worse diversions than a Bobby Goldsboro song like Honey.    It is too sappy but Two Live Crew exploits carnal depravity.    Dude,  where’s My Viagra and remote.

or this…..

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Black History Month & the Greatest Pitcher Ever – Bob Gibson

My favorite baseball player is almost 80 years old next November.    He is about five weeks older than my mother and regardless of the fact that he does NOT know me,   he is my role model,  my baseball idol and a man of great character.

I feel that too many times Jackie Robinson is hailed as the great trailblazer of equal rights.   But Mr. Gibson himself grew up in one of the most dangerous ghettos in America…   Cabrini Green.    His own father died about three months before Bob was born and his brother who was some 15 years older was a kind of mentor.

The song above is probably my favorite from Elvis and conveys the hard reality of disadvantage and self-destructive behaviors.     Growing up in Texas in a segregated neighborhood it seemed that integration was happening and no one had to tell us racism was wrong.   How is it little kids can figure out.   One day this black boy came across me and asked his friends,  “Who is this peckerwood?”     One of my friends from that run down place called the young black child out and told him I was his friend.

Racism was very real but the good part of that change was not a slogan or a gimmick,   we had real problems in our country.   We had Little Rock Hall and the protest of the brave young black students.    I was one year old as this cauldron was beginning to boil over and an ugly scene ensued.

This young lady was a hero and young kids of all races were angry at the over racism and Jim Crowe Laws that permeated the nation and especially  the South.    It was this that the young Cardinal star had to deal with and he did so relatively easily as was his character never to lose at anything.

Gibson had rickets and asthma as a kid and yet become a good basketball player,  averaging 22ppg as a senior in high school.   After that he went on to be an All-American  basketball player at Creighton University.    And from there the Harlem Globetrotters and finally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

When pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training,  black players were not allowed to stay in the hotel that was white only.    Eventually the Cardinals organization fixed that problem.    Imagine being the superstar pitcher in the second best baseball organization and then being spit at in Florida.

The rough life growing up and his competitive nature made him a force in the game and he set one record that is still a record fifty or so years later.   (1.12) over 300 strikeouts and 13 shutouts with 22 wins.    He was a prolific hitter also bashing 24 Homeruns and 144 RBIs.   During the day there were not a lot of televised games and especially the Cardinals so I would listen to KMOX in St. Louis while we were living in upstate NY.      I loved and was proud when watching him pitch and would emulate his pitching delivery.

Mr Gibson like Hank Aaron survived the rigors that racism and hate with class and strength.   One time his catcher Tim McCarver ( a really good one) came to the mound and Gibson, “told him the only thing McCarver knew about hitting was he couldn’t.”

He was known for a blistering fastball and an awesome curve.    When he retired I felt such a deep sadness on a variety of levels.    As the years have passed fans revere him as a classy human and one of the greatest pitchers and one of only a few black pitchers.      So my looking up to him is influenced by so many factors.    I refused to lose and invariably I came through in the clutch every so often.   That included beating an undefeated wrestler in a state tournament,     and an unassisted triple play.    The baseball coach told my little brother that he had large shoes to fill.

I was born in a turbulent time with wars,   bitter conflicts racial and otherwise so I take a dim view of blacks using slavery as a crutch and so do the stars,   businessmen and fathers who do the right thing and do represent the status quo,   There is a lot of work and Ferguson roiled the waters and I am not going to be political but to say,  we collectively have to see each others as valuable as ourselves if not more.

This is a condensed version of my love and respect for this great man and served as a role model to black and white kids.

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