IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.


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A DAY IN THE LIFE: AN OPEN LETTER TO BROOKLYN ARIEL

My Darling and Most Precious Angel,

Your name is Brooklyn Ariel and you’ve finally arrived, brought into this world on June 3rd of the year, 2019. This was a day that your “Poppi” had anticipated for some time. Not specifically Jun 3rd, but the day that you would join us. You are very small and won’t understand these words for a while, but I hope you will get the chance to and hopefully cherish their intent.

You were born a special little girl. Your Mommy and Daddy love you very much and they have been blessed with the greatest gift ever. You! And in that, you received a wonderful gift in having them as your parents, parent that wanted you and cared enough to have you. The gift of you keeps paying forward as you are also a blessing to your Grandparents, Grandma Jan and me, “Poppi”; G.G. and Grandpa Michael, Aunt Dre (Andrea) and Uncle Joshua, and a lot of cousins. Even your furry friends are happy you are here. Guinness and Marvel and Roman have taken on the job of watching over you and protecting you.

I can tell you as your “Poppi” that I cried when I heard you were born. They were not sad tears in the least. The birth of you is the happiest day of my life in a long string of happy days that I have seen. So, understand that happy tears are the best thing you could have.

In this short week of your life (as of today, June 10th), you have been an incredible joy and a reason to awaken each morning with a glow in my heart and the hope of seeing your beautiful face, your warm “smile” (even if it is gas), and the gentle sounds that come from deep within you. All of that stems from a contentment that you seem to display every day.

But, as your grandfather – your Mommy’s dad – your “Poppi”, let me offer my hopeful thoughts to you for your growth…

…I wish you could know right now how completely loved you are. There is no greater gift than that. I know one day you will understand this, but for now I hope you can bask in its glow.

…I hope to teach you as much as I can from this store of “knowledge” available to me. Know that “Poppi” is not the smartest guy in the world, but he knows enough to get by! I will try to help you see the promise of each new day, and the beauty of every sunset that graces your days. Whether in the sights they provide or in the words that describe them in the most poetic of ways, I hope you will find the hand of God in everything you witness. I promise to help you.

…I want you to know the music in the world around you. And the music in your very soul. Music is important. It will help you express your joy. It will help you understand your sorrows. It will ease your fears. Music will even make you happy for no reason other that just hearing it. And it will make you dance. Dance and music go together like Brooklyn and Poppi. You are my music. If I have the chance, I will teach you how to play music so you will never be without it. We’ll find your unique song (we each have one inside us) and we’ll dance to that too! And you’ll know the Beatles!

…I hope you never lose sight of who you are and where you’ve come from. It is nice to have nice things. But they will not make your life any better, only flashier. Your imagination will serve you well as long as you don’t get fooled into thinking you were meant to be something or someone you are not. Do not place more value on material things than you do on the people around you. They are your true wealth. They will make you rich in heart and mind, and that’s what is important! Be a good person. Be good to people. You are Brooklyn Ariel. Don’t forget it. And don’t get me wrong. It is ok to have nice things, if they are what you want and what you will work hard for. Things don’t come easily, but you’ll appreciate their worth when you work hard for them.

…Of all the gifts I can possibly give you, there is only one that truly matters; the only thing I can give you in great abundance. That is love. You are so loved, and will continue to be as long as I am able to be with you. Know that love will keep me with you no matter where I am. If given the choice of something of great expense or something as priceless as love, I hope you will know to choose love every time. In the end, love is worth so much more.

You are a beautiful little girl. You will grow to be everything you want to be and were meant to be. People will adore you for being the special person you are and will become. But not nearly as much as your Poppi does. Stay well, grow to be happy and love everything around you and you will be even more amazing than I already believe you are. I will forever carry you in my heart, Brooklyn.

 

With so much love,

Poppi


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… DAN NEAVERTH

You talk Buffalo radio, and the talk will invariably turn to the legendary Dan Neaverth.

Neaverth began his career in Coudersport, Pennsylvania in 1957, a relatively short distance away from his South Buffalo roots to span a sixty year career for the radio veteran. In the early 60’s, WKBW (1520) had lured him to host the afternoon slot, and to eventually become the morning host. Danny enjoyed “looking at you through the hole in the record”, “moving your fanny in the morning” and “getting up early to be the first kid on the block to say good morning” to his listeners. Neaverth spent 26 years at WKBW until a format change to talk radio led to his termination by the late 1980s.

In an interesting sidebar, as a surrogate for WKBW, Neaverth had the chance to bring The Beatles to Buffalo on February 10, 1964, the day after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It would have been the Beatles’ first concert in North America. Danny did not think it wise to risk the $3500 appearance fee for the then “little known” band and declined the offer. Neaverth would later admit that his move was a mistake.

He moved his talents to WHTT on the FM dial for another long stint, until the economic side of things force Danny off the airwaves again. He had come out of retirement as a part of the revival “WKBW,” but after three years, WWKB’s owner ditched the oldies format again, and Neaverth became “semi-retired”.

Earlier in 2017, it was announced that Neaverth was being brought aboard as an on-air personality at “Buffalo’s Very Own” WECK (1230), hosting a Friday afternoon (3 – 7 PM) oldies program.

Neaverth is a member of the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame and the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. It will be good to hear his familiar voice again.

 


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THANKS, BUDDY!

I grew up on radio.

(Big whoop! We all grew up on radio.) But I guess it was the time that stands out more than anything. The influences that we garnered from the artists and songs that we heard in our lifetimes had a hand in molding who we would become. Be it Big Band music of the forties, or the 50’s and the birth of Rock ‘n Roll, the British Invasion and beyond, we were birthed in the sounds we heard.

I was a shy kid. (Very shy, extremely shy.) It was debilitating. (I got better!) But my social interactions were slightly above non-existent! I always seemed to find “friends” in the music that played on my transistor radio. (Those born after 1980, I’ll explain transistor radios in another posting. Think of your Mp3 player’s Great-great Grandfather.) So, I had become ensconced in the music of the early sixties and British Invasion, all the way  through the Woodstock era of Classic Rock. (I remember vividly the moment Ed Sullivan introduced those Beatles guys to the world on that February 9th Sunday night in 1964.)

Here in Buffalo, we had some great radio stations across the dial that offered all the music for which this kid could ask! We had WGR (550) on the lower frequencies of the AM scope. WBEN (930) ruled the mid-dial with WNIA (1230) a bit further up the scale. WYSL (1400) put a strong push against the King of Buffalo radio in the day, the 50,000 watt blowtorch, WKBW (1520) which was heard all up and down the Eastern North American  seaboard. There were others, but these five filled many memories with the music of my lifetime.

But the AM dial became a graveyard with the advent of the stereo quality the FM roster of stations provided. Through many machinations, those above favored channels were resurrected to shades of their former glory. WGR’s format went from music to News/Talk Radio and its current Sports Talk blather.   WBEN went through a stint as an Adult Contemporary radio staion to become what they currently program, News/Talk Radio.  WYSL and WKBW had their transformations as well, with KB holding court as the ESPN affiliate and more sports ga-ga.

Resorting to the above mentioned mp3 player (after the stint with cassette tapes and CD players) I found myself gravitating to the online music services. Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, et al, all offered the music I remembered with great fondness. But it wasn’t the same. Something was missing.

Personality. The music lacked personality. Pre-programmed and sterile were no substitute for what I remembered. And the personalities on the radio in Buffalo were wonderful. Jackson Armstrong, Shane (Shane, Brother Shane) Gibson, Sandy Beach and Don Berns, Joey Reynolds, Tom Donahue, Tom Shannon, Dan Neaverth, Jim Quinn, Fred Klestine, Jefferson Kaye and Don Kobiella (Don Kobiella?). Even the News guys added their character. Jim Fagan, Henry Brach, Jim McLaughlin, John Zach, Joe Downey and the incomparable Irv Weinstein.

WWKB (the reformatted version of WKBW) made a short-armed attempt to resurrect the radio giant a short while back with the best ratings they had since the 1990’s. But with little promotion and a real lack of commitment, the once great 1520 fell to the curb.

Flash forward to 2017. A guy named William Ostrander bought WECK Radio (1230 – the former WNIA). The on-air persona of Ostrander is Buddy Shula, and Buddy seems to be on track to do it right on the Buffalo Radio dial. He’s bringing “Buffalo’s very own” personality back to the music we love. Local radio with local news and local broadcast professionals to replace the pre-programmed “music of your life”.

I, for one am excited to see the advent of “Good Ol’ Radio” done with a new drive. And the names? Tom Donahue will remain the morning show host, bringing on Buffalo radio veteran Gail Ann Huber, coming on board as co-host and the aforementioned John Zach returning to Buffalo airwaves as their news director, anchoring the local CBS News affiliate. Jon Summers, another KB legend steps into the 9-12 spot and Harv Moore “the boy next door”, taking noon to 3:00 PM. Harv’s former sidekick, Robert Taylor (Taylor and Moore) is the on-air branding voice of WECK. Mike Jacobs covers the three to seven slot Monday thru Thursday. And Friday evening from 3-7 will be filled by Dan Neaverth, ready to move your “Friday Fanny”. To top off the night, Buddy Shula will take his turn behind the mic from 7-9. The changes take place on July 10th. This should be interesting to hear. And long over due. My music, the right music, done the right way. Anyway, I think it’s great!

Thanks Buddy!


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MAKING MY WAY BACK “HOME”

It’s been a while since I posted here. Situations and circumstances put life clearly on my doorstep. But we persevere. It’s what life is about.

So here I sit, less than two weeks to Christmas 2013. The tree’s up (the SECOND thing that gets my spirit right – the Christmas music that begins on Halloween not withstanding). That sight and those sounds brings the feeling closer to home. Those who know, understand. Losing both parents at Christmas time (mom on Christmas Eve ’86) it takes some doing every year to find my Christmas. It comes around eventually, but it is still a struggle. The girls are grown and all the magic of their wide-eyed Christmases lingers in the shadows. They “will” my spirit to come our and play!

So I am slowly coming home to Christmas. The decorations that have laced our traditions are being put into place. I will be ready.

A little known secret. Every year for twenty-six years, after all have retired to bed, I put on the suit to dress under the tree. All gifts wrapped and brightly adorned are placed beneath by me in the guise of the Jolly Old Guy! They believe because I believe. Even if only for ten minutes once a year on Christmas Eve, I AM the spirit of the Season. I am Santa Claus. We are all Santa Claus.

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For a journey through my Walter-ego, visit my poetry blog, I AM SANTA CLAUS ( iamsantaclaus.wordpress.com )


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TRYING TO CUT THE MUSTARD PLAYING CATCH-UP

I’m a poet mostly. I dabble in musical composition and short fiction. Screenplays and scripts for stage become the rage on occasion. And juggling all those balls is an eventual losing proposition.

Getting the word out (or multitude of words out) is akin to reaching into the haystack without a glove. Sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck. And on more than one happenstance. Chances are you fall far enough behind that you give up the ghost and recoup, starting somewhere in the middle.

So I fiddle around with my muse, choosing to saturate my poetry places with pieces of verse and curse the day I discovered like sounding words. Time constraints (and those of a more physical nature) have handcuffed me somewhat, keeping the glut of work I am apt to pen to a manageable minimum.

As of this moment, I think I am at par with the rest of the jackbooted poets, at least on the sites I have chosen to frequent. Keeping up with the Jones and Whitmans and Wordsworths takes some effort. I relish the opportunity, cutting the mustard playing catch-up and being dog tired.

I think it’s lunch time. I just made myself hungry!


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KAREN CARPENTER IN MY HEAD

A wet Monday for the most part, still battling my weather woes. I don’t usually find my self in the throes of such a malaise, and I’d be crazy to start now. So it just seems natural for music to soothe this savage’s breast.

I’ve spent the day searching for the songs that express such days perfectly. The Mamas and the Papas sing “Monday, Monday” and I find myself harmonizing right along John, Denny, Michelle and Cass. “Rhythm of the Rain” by the Cascades stokes a few chords but doesn’t completely satisfy. Dipping back into the days of my Bubble Gum youth, the Cowsills “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” brings a smile.

Chicago’s “Thunder and Lightning” rocks with horns (I still miss Cetera’s voice in the later stuff). “Raining Men”  by the Weather Girls… I don’t think so, “Let it Rain” soulful, but I had enough. “Purple Rain”, “Bucket of Rain”, “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” Enough said.

“I Don’t Like Mondays” (Boomtown Rats), melds into “Long Monday” (John Prine) and “Manic Monday” (The Bangles) fill the calendar day.

But I guess the ultimate theme for days like these is the spirit that lives in Karen Carpenter’s lilting voice in “Rainy Day and Mondays”. She finds a way to ignite my fire long after she’s gone. I miss her voice, terribly!

Hey, so I’m a passionate guy. Sue me!


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HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE – KLEINHANS MUSIC HALL

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Buffalo and the surrounding areas of Western New York is a trove of many wonderful treasures. No less brilliant of them all is the KLEINHANS MUSIC HALL.

This palace of musical wonder is considered one of the most acoustically perfect music halls in the world. The home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO – to be featured in a future H,T&E segment) this Music Hall has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and has been acclaimed by the likes of Jascha Heifetz, Artur Rubenstein and Serge Koussevitzsky.

It has also housed many renown Musical Directors, among them Michael Tilson Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, Maximiano Valdes and currently JoAnn Falletta (Another to be featured in a “Being For The Benefit of…” piece). Pops Conductors have included Doc Severinsen and the late Marvin Hamlisch.

For the full scoop on KLEINHANS MUSIC HALL, Click the link provided.


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WEDDING KRUSE

It was a blur. From start to finish, the day went by in the bat of an eye. A strategic move, bringing home base to a central hotel to make the travel from hotel to Glen Falls Park to Church (St. Gregory the Great R.C. Church, Williamsville, NY) and to a reception at the Hearthstone Manor (Depew, NY), a smooth undertaking. Despite traffic and construction, I think it went off without a hitch. A blurry hitch-less piece of work.

It had been a year and a half in the making. I was “invited” for a cup of coffee by my oldest daughter’s boyfriend of three years, Ryan. He needed to ask me something. Now, I’ve never been on a turnip truck, so falling off of one wasn’t an option. I knew the question. And I knew my answer.

And as I said, we had 18 months to prepare. But it came so quickly (and was over so soon) that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it completely. But I guess I have plenty of time for that (God willing). My family had expanded by one, the son I hadn’t had until now. A sportsman and a sports fan. A Dave Matthews, Zac Brown fan (and as we found out, John Mayer… not so much) But we have one major thing in common that goes a long way in making this connection work.

We both love my daughter, Melissa very much. And now it’s his turn to take care of her in the way she’s become accustomed. In a very simple way, but fully and completely. Not a bad proposition, since he’s had a running start at it.

Now I can sit back and catch my breath for a while. I have another daughter that will take my breath away in due time. Keep the oxygen handy. NEXT… !


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WATCHING SISTERS GROWING CLOSER

IMG_0145(1)There is a seven year span between my two daughters. In their younger years, that difference was VERY apparent. The comparison between a six year old and a teenager is the shift from night to day. Neither was treated any differently; one not loved more than the other. So growing into that environment didn’t take a whole lot of work on my wife’s and my part. The girls had some figuring out to do.

Melissa, as you’ve found, is the older of the two. A brilliant student who actually struggled greatly early on. But she had found her stride and hit the ground running. Her levelheadedness and willingness to take constructive criticism in the nature it was given, allowed her to become the Salutatorian for her graduating class.

Andrea was our reader. She consumed material faster than I could travel to the library to keep her in fresh “meat”. She vowed to do her sister one better; to finish the top of her class. But fate and children can be very cruel and destructive. And Andrea found that out as she moved up into middle-school. She had been the target for a band of bullies – girls who two years prior were her dearest friends, found her success to be a currency she shouldn’t be allowed to accumulate.

She changed and in her defense found a new strength which became her new attitude. And believe me when I say ATTITUDE! However, she felt the need to wield that sword indiscriminately. Her mother, sister and I caught a stray edge every so often. And again to her credit, Andrea found how to use her “powers” for good. Today, Andrea refers to that time as “becoming Sassy!” She remains sassy to this day.

The girls found their bond naturally. They shared clothes, invading each others closets as if they were battling for the West Bank. They offered opinions on their musical style, often listening to the same groups or introducing the other to something new. Their communication expanded as their acumen with the new technologies left their mother and I scratching our heads.

And in the process a funny thing happened. Melissa and Andrea “became” the sisters we always hoped they’d be. They still “tussle” on occasion, but they work out their differences. As Melissa prepared for her upcoming wedding, her Maid-of-Honor (a title Andrea took great pride in accepting) became an extension of  her older (in chronological years) sister and they began to almost think the same thoughts. Andrea also accepted her new “brother” Ryan (with her own Ryan waiting in the wings). It was nearly perfect. My wife and I became very afraid! 😉

The process, though arduous at times became very clear. We did a decent job with the two of them. Two daughters who make us proud in their own right daily. And two sisters  in whom we’ve taken great joy watching grow closer.

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