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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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 – NIAGARA FALLS

American Falls - Niagara Falls

American Falls – Niagara Falls

Her call is loud and thundering, a torrent of water across the precipice here and over the “Horseshoe” (the Canadian side of Niagara Falls). Feeding Lake Ontario with the flow Lake Erie sends her, an unending cycle of life.

Nik_Wallenda_Niagara_Falls_2012Legendary and fabled, from barrel to a high-wire cable (Nik Wallenda‘s trek across the cavernous gorge) she has seen her share of daredevils and whack-jobs looking for the fame of a name in defiance. Triumphs unfortunately, are very few.

But the view (especially at night when the lights perform in unison to offer more beauty, if that was possible) is awe inspiring. If you are desiring adventure at the hands of Mother Nature, there is plenty to see and feel (you catch a good spray on a decent day) at the hands of Niagara Falls. One of the true wonders of the world, and the honeymooning isn’t bad either!

Visit this link NIAGARA FALLS , to find out more.


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HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE – KLEINHANS MUSIC HALL

cropped-kleinhans_music_hall.jpg

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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ANDREA LEA

With the spotlight shining brightly on the soon-to-be, bride-to-be, I think it only fitting to present the other bookend, my daughter Andrea. (She prefers AN-DREE-YA, call her ON-DRAY-A and there’ll be much hell to pay). As you can sense, she is a lethal combination of beauty and brawn – an attitude a mile long and wide, and there’s no hiding the fact that my Andrea is Sassy! (Her self- proclaimed moniker) And she backs that up every time.

Maybe it’s just a defense mechanism, but she says what’s on her mind and means what she says. The “sass” comes naturally. But this “Little Darlin'” has a tender side (which unfortunately she doesn’t let out of its cage very often), which is being displayed as we near the marriage of her sister, Melissa. Andrea was so thrilled when asked to be Maid of Honor, and she lavished her older sister with gifts and all the attention deserving a teacher and mentor.

She has a playful repartee with her soon-to-be Brother-in-Law, Ryan, with neither passing the opportunity to nudge and cajole on many topics, but most decidedly – Ice Hockey and Music.

IMG_0058She loves ice hockey, and has a devotion to the local heroes (?), the Buffalo Sabres in general and her favorite #57. She spouts statistics and minutia that would have rivaled my mindless baseball trivia in my halcyon days. At last count Andrea has amassed 9(?) Sabres hockey jerseys and a Colorado Avalanche sweater. (Gabriel Landeskog is a god – IHHO!)

And there is no mistaking, the two sisters are as different as night and Pop Rocks. Melissa, always the levelheaded one, knew where she wanted to be and got there. Andrea has an idea what she wants and will know when she gets there. I have no doubt she will. My wife admonishes our youngest, “If you were my first born, you’d be an only child!” Knowing the headstrong nature of my Taurus, we all realize that’s a lot of bull. She would have emerged no matter what.

As she says, “Dad, timing is everything!”

As Andrea steps to the forefront, I tend to agree with her.


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GROWING UP TO BE A K-BIG KID…

I was born a bit too late. I missed its inception and hung on every word and lyric of its heyday. Those who know me, know music is a big part of my life. For those who don’t know me, music is a big part of my life. You might say that back then music was a K-Big part of my life. I , like many youngsters of their day grew up listening to WKBW-AM 1520. “KB” was the 50,000 watt blowtorch that lit up the airwaves of Buffalo. On a clear night, the signal could be heard up and down the eastern seaboard and into Canada.

The music could have been heard anywhere along the dial, but the personalities that performed their magic at KB were as much the reason to listen .  The likes of Joey Reynolds, Dan Neaverth, Sandy Beach, Brother Shane,  Jackson Armstrong  were extraordinary talents, and the booming voice of then PD the late, great Jefferson Kaye , were well worth the trouble.

And highlights such as the KB Radio’s re-creation of H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds” (Based completely on Buffalo locations) and “Paul McCartney is Alive and Well… Maybe!” became must listen to features year after year at Halloween time.

My biggest (K-Biggest) complaint about radio these days is the lack of personality on radio. Everything is so sterile and that is the saddest commentary on our time. With even FM radio being more pre-programmed, the sound becomes a bastardization of what was once good.

I could listen to the music anywhere (on my computer, on my iTouch/iPhone). But I miss the humanity of a familiar voice you could grow to love.

Growing up a K-Big kid with 1520 was a rewarding  thing. I miss KB. (And all other radio that was once good!)

For more info and photos about WKBW-AM 1520, click HERE.


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SCHROEDER, LUCY AND THE IDES OF MAY…

Today , May 15th – a reprieve from the weather gods, a return to sunshine, blue skies and seventy degree temps. Ok, so I wussed out a bit when the mercury dipped. I’m just sick of those elongated “winters” three weeks from the first day of Summer.

Summer. (Follow closely kids, because here is where I go off on a tangent or a flashback if I get it right – a little mental slight of hand). Today I’m at work listening to music specifically from 1969 – “Summer of Love” (see how nicely I tied that in?) That was the year I became a teen. What did a debilitatingly shy momma’s boy know from rebellion? I just knew the music was boss. That year, and those tunes are the soundtrack for this life.

The melodies and lyrics so clearly sit right on the tip of my cerebellum.  I found my escape in what blasted from my transistor radio (we won’t get into it now kids, it would take some doing – think of it as an iPod in which someone else picks your playlist – yeah, scary, I know!). I also found my poetic powers that summer… in a roundabout way.

My parents bought a console organ – a nice piece of furniture since no one knew how to play the damn thing worth a lick. I was never sure what possessed them to make this acquisition, but all these years later I see the method to their collective madness. And I thank them. I taught myself how to play it. To this day I can not read a note of music, but I did learn to play. I would place my radio nearby and work out the melodies of the sounds I heard. It came as random noise at first (someone squeezing the life out of a goose) but I did eventually get better.

SchroederLucyThe neighbors started to call me “Schroeder” after the piano playing fool from the Peanuts comics. At first I hated the tag. I hated any nickname (I still shudder at them to this day, but have grown more tolerant). I seemed to grow into the moniker. I started writing melodies; “love songs for no one” (Thanks John Mayer). And at thirteen, I lamented lost love that was years from being reality. First crushes die hard. Needless to say, let she who throws the first Schroeder, be labeled the first Lucy (just to keep the illusion straight).

But for as badly as I tried to write the music, the words flowed sweetly and with a depth I never knew I could possess.  My lyrics could certainly stand on their own. My non-musical poetry.

The music on my 1969 playlist takes me home every time. I miss the house in which I grew up and the parents who gave me every thing I ever needed (wanted, on the other hand was a lesson hard learned). I miss the neighborhood and having an audience who came with lawn chairs to listen. I miss being the Schroeder of my youth. This one’s getting a little long in the tooth. I shoulda listened to my mother and practiced more. I coulda been somebody. Maybe even could have been a poet?

Maybe Schroeder?