Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Julie!

It was a ruthlessly cold night in Cleveland and the city streets were covered with ice. The church was still decorated with the red poinsettias from Christmas. Before the wedding, one of our friends was mugged and had her purse stolen. By reception's end, the bar would be out of booze and the groom was dragged around on the dance floor by his best man and cousin. One of the groomsmen spent the night puking in the bathroom and another member of the wedding party nearly came to blows with his brother. To say the least, it was quite a memorable night for everyone... including Julie and myself.

14 years later, we're still happily married and strong. Here are some photos from our wedding album.


Here we are, Mr. & Mrs. Malchus for the first time.


Budd and me before the wedding.


Julie and her sisters, Michelle (left) and Sue, before the wedding.


One of my favorite pictures of Steve and his future bride, Marianne.


Still one of the greatest pictures of Matt (with Julie's friend, Mary Helen). I can't remember him wearing such a huge smile anytime after this night.

Here's to another 14 years and a lifetime after that. I love you, Julie.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I don't know if I have ever listened to an entire Foo Fighters album, but he day hey put out a greatest hit record, I will be the first in line. The latest single from the band, "Long Road to Ruin" is an exercise in pop/rock excellence. For a band that was supposed to be a "side project" for the Nirvana drummer, the Dave Grohl experience has developed into one of the tightest bands around. Moreover, they have ecome of of the remaining groups from the 90's to still put out outstanding, radio friendly songs while many of their peers fell apart. I still wish Grohl played drums more often, but Taylor Hawkins is fine in my book.

It's been another one of those vacations when I plan so many things and none of them get done. Some day I will get it through my thick skull that when I'm on vacation, my poducivity shuts down, too. I will say that it has been wonderful just spending time with the kids and being a family in our own home for a week. Bittersweet because we're not in Ohio, but still comfortable being a family here in Saugus. Christmas day was great. Te kids loved their new bikes from Santa and the may gifts tey received. That night we went over to the Malchus' or a Christmas dinner with about 20 other people (whew). It took me until this morning to finally feel like I was over the 7 or 8 drinks I had that night.

I got to see "I Am Legend" with Villamor and I'm happy to say that it didn't suck. Halfway through the movie, I thought about what other actors I might be able to si ad watch alone on screen for an hour. There were only a couple. Will Smith was outstanding; a fine acting job on his part. It was only fter the movie ended that I began to question some of the plot holes in the picture. I am a big fan of the original Richard Matheson book, but I had no problems with the changes the made. It was an exciting, scary movie and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Yesterday we took th kids to see "Enchanted", which was cute and very sweet. Amy Adams is so fun to watch in this movie. The end seemed to come out of nowhere, but for the most part, it's a nice family movie. Still, between "Enchanted" and "Hairspray" (that other musical that the kids has seen and watched nonstop for weeks) I still prefer "Hairspray".

Our anniversary is coming up on Sunday. I believe we'll be going out to dinner. I actually looked into buying tickets to "Wicked" so Jules could see it again. Unfortunately I don't have a spare $500 laying around. Salt Creek it is!

Aloha

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We're getting hooked up to broadband Internet this weekend and I can tell you it is going to change our lives. Julie does so much of her work for the PTA through email and the time she spends just WAITING for the dial up to connect she could be relaxing or recovering from her early morning shifts at the cafe. And of course, there are the countless times in which we get disconnected, usually in the middle of a download that should only take mere seconds, not twenty minutes. Worse, AOL is terrible. I shouldn't complain because I have gotten it free since I began at the network, but seriously, AOL sucks.

I'm pretty excited, too, because I'll be able to log on anytime and make entries to thunderbolt and work on my columns for Popdose. One of the reasons I have been so infrequent with entries to thunderbolt is because it feels so labor intensive waiting for our slow PC to hook up to the web. This all reminds me of the first computer we ever owned.

Back in '95, while I worked for Tony and Alterian Studios, I was cleaning out the storage loft above the shop and came across an old MAC. It was the type of model that was revolutionary back in 1991. Mt college roommate, Dan, owned a similar MAC and people we knew would come over all of the time to borrow it when they needed to type a paper. Anyway, this old computer was gathering dust in the loft and I inquired whether they (Tony) wanted it in a more dust free environment. It was actually Tony's wife, Cindy, who flat out offered it to me on the spot. Something like, "Oh, do you think you could use that?" Of course I said "yes".

I wrote two scripts on that old machine. And eventually I gave it to some other struggling writer who didn't have the cash to pony up for their own computer. The thing about that MAC was that it took 10 minutes to power up. I could turn it on then go make a pot of coffee and scan through the headlines. And, obviously, everything had to be backed up constantly on floppy discs.

I look back on those lean years and I feel like we were just kids. Now, I'm closing in on 40 and mentally, I still feel like a kid. And damn if the times aren't still lean. With the new year approaching, I have to do something about that.

Aloha

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday cup of joe

So many things have taken place this week that it's difficult to choose what to write about. The Mitchell report on steroid/HGH use in baseball is the hot topic right now. Yesterday, every front-page headline across the nation had a headline about the Senator's findings on the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. To many of us, it wasn't so much that he'd discovered steroids and human growth hormones were juicing baseball players; it was the names of some of the games superstars, many of which are known as "good guys", that was such a revelation.

I must say that I didn't realize Major League Baseball had installed a drug policy on steroids back in 1991. It would be another seven years, at least, when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa pursued the record for most home runs in a season that the whispers about roids began to creep up in conversations on a regular basis. And it wasn't until Barry Bonds became a name that every American knew that baseball seemed to start taking the problem seriously. Now, there may be some people who knew this was going on all along and they may say to me that, Scott, we were talking about steroids back in the 80's. But you see I'm an average fan. I follow one team and read only a couple of national columnists (when I can find the time). So, as an average fan, I'm telling you that this scandal did not begin until the late 90's.

As fans, us average joes watched with wide eyes, as records were broken. Home runs. Strike outs. Games saved. It was exciting to see and it brought this great game back into the national spotlight after falling into the shadow of the NBA and the NFL. Now, the great game has been embarrassed and they will have to work hard to repair its public image. Still, that doesn't mean people are going to quit on baseball. People need to be entertained and in the summertime, baseball is still a reasonably cheap way to occupy a weekend afternoon with the family. Better than paying to see a movie you may or may not like (sitting in sticky seats and watching on fuzzy screens). It is easily forgotten that baseball is entertainment. These guys on the field are paid a shitload of money to make us smile, cheer, boo and scream. In other forms of entertainment, drug use is always overlooked, especially if the end product is art ("Nevermind" or "Exile on Main St." anyone?). Why should baseball be any different?

This game is supposed to represent America. And America is every bit as messed up and troubled as baseball. So the major league owners and the players have to clean up their image. They will. And the game will once again flourish (even though other forms of drug use will still go on in the game).
What else can be done? Owners and players must learn from the mistakes and find a better way to play the game. And we, as fans, must be able to forgive these players (at least the ones we like) and let the game move on. That is what's best for baseball and that is what's best for America. I mean, it's not like these baseball people took us into a war that couldn't be won.

George W. Bush was no longer an owner of the Texas Rangers when that happened

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So I've been putting off making an announcement about future Basement Song posts until I had an exact idea when they would begin appearing again. If that sounds like I'm suddenly under the thumb of some corporate mastermind dictating when I can write I don't mean to. A few months back, probably around the time I wrote mt last entry, I was approached by my friend Jeff, who was the operator of Jefito, one of the best music web sites on the Internet. A number of things transpired and he had to begin rebuilding his site from the ground floor again. However, he decided that instead of focusing primarily on music, he would expand and cover all facets of popular culture. In addition, he also decides to branch out and act more like an editor in chief and lasso a group of his favorite bloggers and put them under one roof. Thus, "Popdose" was born.

Yes, you guessed it, he asked me to begin writing Basement Songs editions for Popdose on a weekly basis. I quickly accepted, not realizing the kind of pressure I would be putting myself under. Even now as I write this entry, my stomach is churning thinking that I have to turn in something to the other editors pretty soon for when the website goes live on January 1. Uh, yeah that's right, I haven't written shit yet.

Nice, Malchus. I would claim that I've been super busy, or that I write best under the gun, but the truth is that I'm nervous as all hell knowing that more than 10 or 20 people are going to be reading what I think and feel. On top of that, I'm supposed to write about television and occasionally about movies. What was I thinking?

Fortunately, this WGA strike continues and my TiVo is nearly empty. There is nothing but crap on my 200 channels from Direct Tv, so I have plenty of time to pour my thoughts on to the web.

Anyway, as the day approaches, I will make sure you all know that Popdose is up and running. Don't worry, though. I won't desert thunderbolt. I know there are some of you who actually enjoy reading about my misery and shortcomings. And you just love my whining and complaining. You especially love my spelling errors and terrible grammar. I know my friend, Blake, must cringe every time he reads a new post. But, he's an English teacher and I'm merely an English butcher of the language.

Aloha

Monday, December 10, 2007

Led Zeppelin roars back to life

I'm usually pretty cynical about reunions of bands, especially groups who haven't performed together for over 19 years. But I have to tell you, I am so frickin' stoked about this Zeppelin show that took place in England tonight. My first reason is that it came together for a good reason. Ahmet Ertegun shephearded the band on to Atlantic Records and let them do their thing. They never had hit singles and rarely got air play on the radio, but they were the biggest band in the world! So when they were asked to participate in the charity concert in honor of Eretegun, it was a no brainer for the three surviving members.

And then, when asked if they could play an hour, they had to say 'no' because an hour wasn't long enough! Dude! Unlike past excursions as a "band", they took this show very seriously.

The recent Rolling Stone cover featuring Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones had me feeling like a 9th grader again (which is when I discovered Zeppelin). And reading the NME review of the show that just got posted has me salivating at the possibility of a reunion tour.

I know, I know, it will never be a true reunion because Bonzo's dead. But you're talking to a guy who went to see the freaking Firm, just for an opportunity to catch Page live and still using the bow! To see all three? Dude.

If you're not a Zeppelin fan, I'm sure you're just skimming through this entry. But those of you out there, what group would you pay top dollar to see give it one more go around?

Aloha

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yesterday, amazing and hopeful news about stem cell research was released to the world. The article below was written for the 12/7/07 L.A. Times and mentions cystic fibrosis specifically. Although they are years away from experimenting on humans, this is the kind of news parents pray to hear every day.

Stem cells reverse sickle cell anemia in mice

Rodents treated with reprogrammed adult cells show vast improvement after three months. The therapy is several years away from being applied to humans.

By Karen Kaplan
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 7, 2007


Taking the next step in a series of breakthrough stem cell experiments, scientists have cured sickle cell anemia in mice by rewinding their skin cells to an embryonic state and manipulating them to create healthy, genetically matched replacement tissue.

After the repaired cells were transfused into the animals, they soon began producing healthy blood cells free of the crippling deformities that deprive organs of oxygen, scientists from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported Thursday.

"It really works beautifully," said Kathrin Plath, a researcher at the Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, who wasn't involved in the study.

The experiments, published online by the journal Science, confirmed the therapeutic potential of a new class of reprogrammed stem cells, which can be custom-made for patients without creating and then destroying embryos.

"This is a platform for any one of dozens of human genetic blood diseases, not just sickle cell anemia," said Dr. George Q. Daley, a stem cell scientist at Harvard Medical School who wasn't involved in the research.

The strategy should work to treat hemophilia, thalassemia and severe combined immunodeficiency disease, the so-called bubble boy disease, Daley said. He and others said it would also apply to disorders linked to mutations in a single gene, such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Scientists ultimately hope to use a similar approach to create cardiac cells to treat heart attack patients or nerve cells that could cure spinal cord injuries. Finding an abundant source of stem cells that could be used as a personalized biological repair kit is the ultimate goal of regenerative medicine.

The technique is still at least a few years away from being used to treat people, scientists said. Before it could even be tried, several rounds of animal experiments would need to be done.

Researchers will also need to overcome some key technical hurdles, including finding a way to reprogram adult cells without using genes and viruses that could cause cancer.

But as a proof of principle, the study is sure to lure more researchers into studying the new class of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells.

"There's going to be this tsunami," said Paul J. Simmons, director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. "One would have to predict that the pace of observations made using iPS cells is going to rise exponentially."

The study is the latest in a string of significant experiments published in the last five months involving a new approach of reprogramming adult cells so that they are capable of growing into any type of tissue in the body. They have captivated researchers, ethicists and politicians looking for an alternative to embryonic stem cells, which can be difficult to work with and are fraught with ethical problems.

Japanese researchers pioneered the new method, which involves turning on four genes that are dormant in adult cells but active in days-old embryos. Once those genes are activated, the cells essentially forget that they have become skin cells, and they then behave like embryonic stem cells. Because they are derived from a patient's own cells, there is no risk of tissue rejection.

In June, three research teams showed that the technique worked reliably in mice. Last month, two groups demonstrated that it also worked with human cells. But it remained to be seen whether the cells could serve as the raw material to grow replacement parts for patients.

The researchers started with sickle cell anemia because it has a simple origin -- at a key point on the hemoglobin beta gene, patients have what amounts to a misspelling in the chemical letters of DNA, commonly known as A, C, T and G. Instead of having at least one A, they have a pair of Ts. As a result, the gene makes the wrong amino acid, resulting in red blood cells that are curved instead of round.

Those sickle-shaped cells clog up as they travel through the body, blocking blood flow to the small vessels that feed the brain, kidneys and other organs. Tissues die because sickle cells can't deliver enough oxygen to keep them healthy.

Some patients can be treated with a bone-marrow transplant, which allows the body to make normal red blood cells. But only about 5% of sickle cell patients are able to find a donor, said Dr. Timothy M. Townes, chairman of the department of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama and one of the study's senior authors.

Townes figured that embryonic stem cells might help the 95% of patients who couldn't find donors. But the process would be complicated.

First, scientists would have to clone embryos using the patient's own DNA. Then they would switch one of the errant Ts to an A. Stem cells would then have to be harvested from the modified embryo and used to make healthy bone marrow for a transplant.

But before scientists were able to do that, the first paper on reprogrammed iPS cells appeared.

Townes teamed up with Rudolf Jaenisch, a stem cell researcher at Whitehead and MIT, to see if iPS cells would work in place of embryonic stem cells.

They took cells from the tail of a 12-week-old mouse with sickle cell anemia and used viruses to turn on four dormant genes that are active in days-old embryos. One of those genes, c-Myc, has a tendency to cause tumors, so after the cells had completed their transition back to an embryonic state, the researchers deleted it.

Then they corrected the genetic flaw that causes sickle cell anemia by engineering a string of DNA that had an A in place of a T but was otherwise identical to the original. It was swapped into place with the help of an electric shock.

The researchers grew the iPS cells into bone marrow stem cells by exposing them to special growth factors and culture conditions. When the cells were ready, they were transplanted into three sick mice that were genetic twins of the donor mouse.

Twelve weeks later, the mice were producing the normal version of hemoglobin beta protein, and virtually all of their red blood cells were round. Their body weight and respiratory capacity improved. Their urine, previously watery due to the disease, had normal levels of electrolytes.

None of the mice developed tumors, a sign that the threat from c-Myc had been eliminated.

Plath said it was encouraging that the skin cells could be reprogrammed, genetically altered and able to yield their therapeutic benefits in a relatively short period of time.

"If this is ever applied to the human system, you need this to work fairly fast," she said. "You can't waste three years waiting for the cells."

Jaenisch is now using the same approach to treat other diseases, though he declined to say which ones.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Julie's new job began yesterday and it was quite a morning. Jake woke up at 4:00 with her and stayed awake (very upset) which means we all stayed awake from 4 am on. Today was 100% better as Jake must have realized that sleeping in until 7:00 is better.

I'm wiped, though. I got home last night and had to go over to Vill's to design the dvd cover art for "King's Highway."

What's that? I haven't told you that KH has been picked up by an independent distributor and will be released in 2008? Must have slipped my mind.

Actually, I was waiting until the paperwork was signed by lawyers (which it is) to actually begin discussing it on the old thunderbolt. I can't believe the day is finally coming. I can tell all of my friends and family to spend their hard earned cash on something I created (with the help of many other people).

As I have more details I will let you all know. But for now, let's all crack open a bottle of our favorite beverage and raise a glass to "King's Highway".

Aloha

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sorry I haven't been doing so well on keeping up the blog posts. Beginning tomorrow I am going to make another effort to write every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That way all of you can plan your lives around ME!

Julie's folks returned from their trip to Big Sur and we spent one last night together before they had to return to Ohio. It was a festive night, but also one full of sadness. That we won't be flying back to Cleveland for Christmas is a drag. The past few years we have managed to eek out the money to get back there. Not this year. Although, we're not that different from most middle class families. Who can afford a $700 ticket?

The harsh reality of this day and age is that most families need double incomes to survive. Somehow, our family has kept our heads above water for the past five years. But times have gotten tight, my friends. Julie begins a second job tomorrow. She'll be waitressing at a new breakfast cafe opening near our house. She has to be there by 5:30 am. I'll be taking over all morning kid duties (i.e. getting them ready for school and walking them to school). I believe we're all going to be every tired, both physically and emotionally, for the next week so. Julie, in particular. She loves have that morning time with Sophie and Jacob. In addition, there will be some days in which she'll also go to her evening job.

I used to watch reruns of "Roseanne" and think, do people really have to survive this way? The answer is yes. I pray that the new position brings in enough income that she can quit the evening job. For now we're going to see how it goes.

I'd write about how worthless I feel that she has to take on extra work, but this isn't about me. She's the hero in this situation. What it has done is given me more drive to get a god damn script sold and another film project up and running.

Aloha

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am a little wary to see the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp/Stephen Sondheim collaboration, "Sweeney Todd" only because I feel so loyal to the version I grew up with. I know, I know, I need to give it a chance. I realize that unlike movies, plays are meant to be reinterpreted time and again and different actors should be allowed to inhabit the roles. But this one is so close to me. It's like reading a great book and having it adapted to the screen. In your head, you have heard one voice. In your head you have seen one face.

After so many years of listening to two voices (Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury), it's going to take a lot for me to love this demon barber over the ghosts of the past.

I'm being a snob, I know.

Monday, November 26, 2007

After I dragged my bloated body into work, I realized that I haven't written in over ten days (that, and the gentle prodding of my old friend, Steve). Sorry. I know everyone has been waiting with baited breath for the next chapter of the Malchus saga to begin.

Julie's folks arrived in town on Wednesday night and we had a very low key Thanksgiving this year. It was a pleasant change of coarse from our usual holiday celebrations. As custom, we wind up at Budd and Karyn's with Karyn's family and 2000 other people in one house. I love having so many people around. Still, it was very peaceful to just hang with our small family. I know that Julie was excited to cook the Turkey and command the kitchen with her mom. We have never had Thanksgiving at our home, so I was excited, too.

I did something potentially stupid by purchasing a ticket for the April Springsteen show in Ananheim. We can't afford it, but it's Springsteen. I figure, if I don't go to Starbucks for the next 100 days, I will have saved the $100 it cost to buy the ticket. That's my logic and I'm sticking with it.

Jake's been having a real hard time with his breathers lately. He's really struggling with having to take the time to do them. He fights having to sit down and do them and calls them boring. In addition, he tries to end his vest treatment before the 14 minutes is up. Julie and I have reamined strong. It's hard, though. He gets so upset and sometime breaks into tears. You can see it in his expression that he just wants to be like other kids who get to sleep in to a reasonable hour and just eat, get dressed and go to school. God, how I wish his life could be that way, too.

Then I think of the thousands of other kids with CF who do not have the good health that Jake has. And I think about this 12 year old girl that Julie has been reading about who was so healthy one day then caught some nast virus and is waiting for new lungs. Last week, a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that lung transplantation in children with cystic fibrosis does not increase survival for the majority of the children studied. You read something like that and your heart just stops.

How do you fight a monster that is able to sneak around your defenses and weaken you when you least expect it. I don't know. I only know that we have to keep up the treatments and we have to be dilegent. We have to do our job and parents to make sure that Jake is healthy no matter what.

One day at a time, you know? It's like, I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. I only see my feet being illuminated. That light is there, but I'm too busy to worry about if were going to make it because I can only do this one day at a time.

Sometimes I wish I were more spiritual. Sometimes I wish I could turn my heart over to God so freely like the millions of people you read about each day. What's stopping me? I don't know. Instead of relying on my faith, I sit around and worry, pulling my eyebrows out one hair at a time.

I'm so tired of this bullshit. It's not fair.

It's just not fair.

Aloha

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The next Ben 10?

On Sunday, we attended a screening of the live action "Ben 10: Race Against Time" movie that will premiere next week on Cartoon Network. Jake was beside himself because he's been waiting for this movie since they announced it would be made back in March.

The presentation was great and the network did a nice job accommodating all of the families. In addition to the costumed characters walking around, the lead actors were friendly enough to get their picture taken with the gaggle of young kids on hand. That included Jacob, who was wearing the one of a kind Ben 10 shirt that my mom sewed him at the last minute. We called her on Sunday and she had it to us by the next Saturday.

Thanks Mom!

Anyway, we forgot our camera, but Julie had her cell phone. The quality of the picture isn't great, but you can see how excited Jake is to have his picture next to the "real live" Ben 10 (the actor's name is Graham Phillips). As soon as we entered the theater, kids were gawking at Jake's shirt and adults were commenting on the adorable boy in the Ben 10 shirt. I told my mom she could make a killing if she started sewing the shirts now and selling them on the the Internet.



Aloha

Happy Birthday, Jacob

Today is the little guy's 6th birthday. There are so many issues in our life right now that it would be easy to get crushed under the weight of daily stress. But on a day like today6, I'm reminded of what is so right in our lives. This boy, this miracle that laughs and dances, gets pissed and throws dramatic tantrums, and who is full of so much joy and love, this boy is what is right.

The day he was born is so vague to me now. I have more vivid memories of the days following his birth. The time in the NICU. The moments of confusion when the doctors said they were gong to perform surgery, then they weren't, then they decided to fly him to UCLA by helicopter for the surgery after all. I'll never forget that weekend spent in UCLA where he was placed next to children much older than him and in much worse physical shape.

I'll never forget the doctor releasing him to us and finally driving home from UCLA all the way back to Santa Clarita. Through all of the turmoil and fear, there was still optimism that everything was going to be okay.

Maybe I'm a fool for saying this, but everything is okay. I know Jake has to take a lot of medicines. I know that from the outside it may appear that he's one sick little boy. But he isn't. Jake is a normal little boy who loves his mommy and daddy and his big sister, Wo-Wo. He's a normal little boy that who loves 'Ben 10' and 'Teen Titans'. He's a normal little boy that loves Springsteen. Maybe I did that to him, but you get the point.

I take that back. I am not a fool. Everything is okay.

This morning in the shower, as I stood there half awake, shaving, I thought about how just before Jake was born, I questioned how someone could love two children equally, but not the same. Before Jake was born, I didn't think I'd have room in my heart for a another child like I did for Sophie. As soon as I held him in my arms for the first time, I realized it was possible. I realized that your heart has many compartments and each child fits into those different compartments in their own unique way. I can hang out with Jake in a different way than I can with Sophie. We have bonded in a different way than Sophie and I did. And that's the way it's supposed to be.

Aloha

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What the...? "Deceit" on DVD!

I know what you've been thinking. "Hey, Scott, when is Lifetime going to air that movie you wrote again?" Honestly, I couldn't tell you. But, I can tell you that the movie, entitled "Deceit", will be released on DVD next week.

At this point, I know it will be available to buy from Amazon. However, since it's being released by Thinkfilm, I'm optimistic that it will also show up in Hollywood Videos and Blockbusters across the country.

Still, we all know you want to OWN your own copy, right? Sure you do. Really.

Here is the cover art.

Aloha


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert 10.30.07

I could have written a short review of Springsteen live at the L.A. Sports, but "fucking awesome" doesn't begin to do this particular concert justice. So, without further ado, here is my long winded, worshipping write up of the E Street Band show from last week.



The Los Angeles Sports Arena is a sweltering old concert venue that seemed like an odd choice for a superstar rock act to perform at, what with the glittery Staples Center just up the road. But Bruce Springsteen is no ordinary rock star. He’s done Staples (back in 1999) and hated the atmosphere. With the LA Forum unavailable, Springsteen and his musical family, the trusted E. Street Band, descended down into the Sports Arena for two sold out shows to end October with a bang, not a whimper. I was lucky enough to score one ticket for the October 30th show (the second night), justifying that the steep ticket price my birthday present this year. What a great present it was. It was pretty damn close to perfection and ranks as the best I’ve ever seen the band perform live.

The scheduled start time was 7:30 pm. I arrived with a minute to spare, wearing the sweet sweat stench of a man who spent the day at work and an hour and a half on the jam packed LA freeways fighting my way to downtown L.A. Wading my way through the crowd of mostly 40 and 50 year old baby boomers, I was pleasantly surprised to see the children of so many Springsteen loyalists brought along to experience the glory and the majesty of the E Street sound.

The dingy, faded blue gymnasium seats and the enclosed feeling of the Sports Arena reminded me of the Richfield Coliseum, where I saw so many rock concerts in my formative years. With the exception of the Halloween spirited jack-o-lantern lights on the floor and amplifiers, the open-air stage was the same set up as previous tours. No frills. Why mess with something that works, right? Massive speakers hung from the rafters next to large screens for video projection. The setting is definitely old school, perfect for a tour supporting Springsteen’s current masterpiece, Magic. It is an album with lyrics that address the pointed political present but juxtaposed with melodies that hearken back to the 70’s and 80’s sounds that made the Boss famous. Unlike previous tours, I purposely avoided any reviews or online postings of the set lists. Sure, I knew there’d be plenty of the new songs, but I didn’t want to know any specific order or what classics he’s been digging up. I wanted to wonder and be amazed.

The band members wandered out on stage in no apparent order. The silhouettes of guitarist/ consigliere Little Steven Van Zandt and Big Man, saxophonist Clarence Clemons could be made out, and Max Weinberg was clearly visible in the backlight as he climbed up behind his drum kit. But the Man himself was nowhere to be found. A blue light shined down on Danny Federici sitting behind his organ as he began playing ominous chords reminiscent of an old Hammer Horror film. Fog swept out from backstage and six crew members, dressed in hooded black robes and wearing white beards carried out a casket. They set the casket down center stage and Little Steven walked over with Springsteen’s signature Telecaster guitar in hand. Van Zandt looked down, shook his head with a pursed lip and held out the guitar. Suddenly, an arm shot right out of the casket and grabbed the telecaster! The stagehands monks hoisted the casket to face the audience. There he was, not dead, but the living and breathing savior of rock and roll, Bruce Springsteen.

Dusting himself off, Springsteen Looked out at the sea of heads and shouted, “Is there anybody alive out there?”

With a roar of approval, the band exploded into “Radio Nowhere”, the first single for Magic. They sounded tight, better than any band should having only been on the road a couple of weeks. They rocked hard, making a proclamation to the sold out crowd to get ready to have their asses blown away! From “Radio Nowhere”, they went straight into “The Ties that Bind”, one of my favorites from The River (with its great lyric “It's a long dark highway and a thin white line/Connecting baby, your heart to mine”) then finished their opening volley with “Lonesome Day”, from The Rising. On the latter, I nearly broke down. The songs on The Rising are intrinsically tied to my family and that period in 2002 when we had (barely) begun to grasp Jake’s diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. I missed the kids during that song. I wanted them by my side.



Next up was “Gypsy Rider”, from the new album. It’s a song that has burrowed deep into my psyche and gets more powerful with each listen. In it, the narrator recounts the return of his fallen brother from war and the effect it has on the soldier’s family, friends and divided hometown. The despair in the last line gives me chills every time I hear it. Tonight was no exception.

By this time, I’d been on my feet singing every word, pumping my fist at every chorus. I’m sure I looked like a raving lunatic, or worse, one of those freaks you always see at rock concerts. The mood came down as the band played the title track from the new album. Bruce addressed the crowd about the meaning behind the song, that it isn’t a song about hocus pocus, but about tricking people. This clear allegory for our country’s leaders had a couple of musical miscues, including some awkward harmonies between Bruce and his wife, Patti Scialfa. Something must have been off technically because I’ve never heard them mess up their singing like that before. Still, Nils Lofgren’s acoustic flourishes and Soozie Tyrell’s violin playing more than made up for the false notes.

After “Magic” ended, Little Steven began a swamp boogie guitar lick that sounded very familiar. I turned to my neighbor and shouted, “The hell? Are they playing ‘La Grange’?” I expected Bruce to start saying “A how how how” at any moment, but I was way off base. Out came the harmonica and a bullet mic. When that harp began the cry, I suddenly knew what song it was. “Reason to Believe”, the closing track from Nebraska. I imagine this may have been what Bruce wanted the song to sound like way back in ’82. This arrangement transformed the dark, bluesy number into a roadhouse rocker. I half expected Steven Tyler to come out and join in the fun. The show was in full force now. I had no clue what to expect next and I was fucking thrilled.

With a youthful force, the band played “Night,” the first of several songs I have never heard live before. The guy next to me leaned over, asking if the song was “She’s the One”, that other classic from the seminal album, Born to Run. I shook my head “no”. He shrugged, as if to say, “this still kicks ass.” Much to our surprise, the very next song was, you guessed it “She’s the One”. With Max pounding that Bo Diddley beat (dum-dum-dum-dumdum), everyone in the house clapped along with him. On any given night, this song would be a showstopper and the band could consider their job done. But, come on people, this is Springsteen, and we had just reached quarter mark of this marathon.



“Livin' In The Future” followed. This new track is one of the most upbeat, spirited songs Springsteen has recorded in nearly 30 years. Seriously. The lyrics, though, are heavy, man, an examination of the way our government has trounced on our constitution in the past six years. Springsteen took the opportunity to explain the meaning behind the lyrics before actually singing the song. As the band vamped behind him, Bruce did some of the speechifying he’s known for. It didn’t work. Sorry, Boss, I love to hear what you have to say, but you should have chosen one of the other tunes from Magic to teach a civics lesson. The dialogue drained the life out of the beginning of the song and it took until halfway through for the energy to rebuild. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of the concertgoers on their feet, singing “Na na na na” at the end. If that brief lapse in attention lost some of the crowd, as soon as “The Promised Land” began, all was forgotten.

Of the hundreds of songs in Springsteen’s catalog, I feel like this one, from 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, best captures what he has been trying to say since the 70’s and it still says it best. With the crowd still cheering, Bruce called Nils and Little Steven over and called an audible. The two guitarists spread the word through the band. “All right,” Springsteen told us, “we need some woman power.” Then, the band began one of Patti’s songs from her recent solo record, Play It As It Lays. If you think this was some kind of charity gesture for Bruce’s wife, you’d be wrong. The band has played this song on numerous tour stops and by that night, whatever bugs there must have been are gone. Patti and Bruce sang duet on the sultry number. Nils and Danny once again shine and this track sounded like it was written for the E Street Band all along.

“Town Called Heartbreak”, with it’s chorus “You gotta work, baby, baby” is a nice compliment to the next song, a stellar “Tunnel of Love”. This song was the highlight of show. Bruce and Patti sang side by side and shared a mic, inches apart. It’s remarkable to see. They are the new century’s Johnny Cash and June Carter. They were pitch perfect. And Nils. Christ, that man is a god on guitar. He brought more soul and passion to that six-minute song than Eddie Van Halen brings to two hour of pyrotechnics. When the song ended, I was freakin' drained. But guess what, I didn’t have time to rest because “Working On The Highway” was the next song. No time to sit.

“Devil’s Arcade”, a heart wrenching new song from Magic was next. This song has grown on me with each listen and through the performance, as I sat there, I could feel my emotions welling to the surface. The song ended with three strong spotlights literally shooting through Max as he pounded out the final heartbeats of the song. Powerful.

Quickly, Bruce called out a quick dedication and they began “The Rising”. More than “Lonesome Day”, this song pulls my heart apart. Besides the subject matter, it’s the first song Jake and Sophie learned. I can still see them running around in Hawaii with their new ukuleles, singing “Come on up for the rising!” I sang every word, wiped my eyes and nose and missed Sophie and Jake even more.

The next two songs came from Magic, “Last to Die” and the anthem “Long Way Home”. Most of the crowd sat down and absorbed the music. I did not object and sat with them. On these songs, as with the entire evening, the harmonies between the large group were near perfect. I couldn’t get over how in sync all nine members of the band throughout the whole night. It may sound easy, but spread out across that large stage, there could easily be a slip here or there. The final song of the “1st set” was “Badlands”. Not much more can be said about this song. It’s a classic and the crowd knows it by heart. Springsteen was having a blast entertaining a young girl sitting on her dad’s shoulders at the front of the stage. At one point, he leaned down and let her strum his famous guitar. What a memory for that girl! Springsteen, perhaps energized by seeing second and third generation fans in the audience wore a huge smile the rest of the night.

After the lights went down and the band left the stage, something wonderful happened. The crowd continued singing the harmony part from the bridge of “Badlands”. Over and over again, everyone was singing, “Whoa oh oh oh oh whoa!” The only time I had ever heard something so in sync and beautiful was the end of the 1987 U2 concert at old Municipal Stadium, when the crowd of 70,000 continued singing the end of “40” as they left for their cars.


It must have been no more than five minutes when the band returned to stage for the finale. First up was “Girls in Their Summer Clothes”, a song so catchy that even those unfamiliar with the new album were singing along by the second verse. This tune should be a radio hit, it’s that wonderful. But Bruce Springsteen’s new songs don’t get played on the radio. “He’s too old,” the corporate executives say, “kids won’t listen.” I say those executives are out of touch. I say that kids are listening and you can hear the Springsteen influence in artists as varied as The Hold Steady, Jason Marz, The Killers and The Arcade Fire (who came onstage at a recent show in Canada). In addition, Springsteen’s work ethic should be celebrated and held up as the standard and not the exception. All night long, the 50-something E Street Band mates performed longer and harder than musicians half their age. And there was no better example of their stamina than the very next song. “Here’s a pre Halloween treat for Los Angeles”, the Boss said just before he started 1973’s epic, “Kitty’s Back”. Like he’d done throughout the evening, Springsteen controlled his voice, making it sound younger to better match how it was originally recorded. And the Big Man, Clarence Clemons hit every damn note as if his life depended on it. Danny and the Professor shined in extended solos, and even the backbone to the band, the venerable Gary Tallent on bass, stepped up to the microphone to sing backup alongside Little Steven. This may have been a run down sports arena in the heart of Los Angeles, but it might as well have been some firetrap dive club in Jersey, Philly or Cleveland. Springsteen proved once and for all why he earned the nickname “The Boss”. He twisted and bent his guitar strings making them wail and moan. This was the biggest surprise of the night and it left everyone speechless.

After that 10-minute frenzy, Kitty left town again and the band played its two biggest hits, “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark”. During “Born to Run”, which we’ve all heard a thousand times, what could have been a plodding, methodical run through still sounded fresh and vibrant. Maybe it was because I was singing along with my compadre beside me, pumping my fist with each “whoaaa!” Or perhaps it was because I was thinking of Julie, but I loved hearing this song. The final verse, when Bruce sang “Together Wendy we'll live with the sadness/I'll love you with all the madness in my soul/Someday girl I don't know when we're gonna get to that place/Where we really want to go and we'll walk in the sun…” That’s Julie and me. Whatever sadness we have in our lives, it’s countered by our love for each other and our love for our family.

The show concluded with every member of the E Street Band joining Bruce out front to play the raucous “American Land”. This song was born during Springsteen’s last tour with his Seeger Sessions band and can be found on the Live in Dublin cd. For the first time ever, Springsteen scrolled the lyrics on the video monitor for the audience to sing along to. One would think that adapting this folk song to the sound of the E Street Band might not work, but it fit right in. The Big Man played penny whistle, Danny and the Professor played dueling accordions, Little Steven pulled out his trusty mandolin, while Bruce, Patti and Nils tore it up on guitar. With the entire band lined up on stage, it was the perfect ending.

After the show, I wiped my face and plopped down in my seat to wait out the crowd to clear out. I was covered with sweat, tears and snot and felt like I’d run a marathon. My hands throbbed from the constant clapping and drumming on my thighs; my throat was raw and aching for water. I reached for the small notebook I had carried in my back pocket and to my surprise a small fraying spot in the denim near that pocket had given way. A large hole, the size of a quarter, was clearly visible to anyone watching me walk by. I wasn’t worried; I had on clean boxers. And if anyone were to ask what happened to the back of my Levi’s, I could tell them that I had my ass blown away by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's Monday. Is there anything else that really needs to be said? I spent the weekend cursing about having to purchase a trash disposal we can't afford, installing said disposal and then marveling at what a handy man I'm becoming. At this point, the only thing I haven't replaced in the kitchen sink is the kitchen sink. Knock on wood that will never happen.

The Writer's Guild has gone on strike and that effects me in no way possible, at this point and time. The one opportunity I had to join the union passed before I even knew it was there. The producers of "The American Standard"... er "Deceit" offered to help me get into the union. Unfortunately, filming had already begun and according to the rules on the WGA website, I missed my opportunity. Great. Still, I figured another opportunity would be right around the corner. Yeah, I'm still waiting.

As a writer, I am in agreement with everything the Guild is fighting for. The studios make a shitload of money off of DVD sales (like, how many times do the release and rerelease movies just to make another buck? New Line alone released how many versions of "Lord of the Rings"?) Despite their claims that DVD sales are needed to offset the high costs of shooting movies, I think that's a crock.

The bad thing about a strike is that a lot of people struggling to make ends meet are now without a paycheck. I have friends in the Guild who have children and are barely getting by. This is going to kill them, especially with the downturn the California economy has taken in the past six months. Hopefully this will be worked out soon. With the DGA and SAG contracts up next summer, things could get really ugly real out here in CA.

One positive from the weekend was a meeting with Jay Ellison, who graduated from Bowling Green and hails from Medina, Ohio. He's a filmmaker and has a good head on his shoulder. Jay read my script, "Blood Brothers", a werewolf story, and wants to raise the money needed to make it with Tony directing (and supervising the monster effects). We're in the early stages and there are hundreds of things to work out (a meeting between the director and Jay would be nice) but I feel positive about this one. Julie and I have discussed his age (mid 20's) a couple times. Is he too young? Is he in over his head? But I look at guys like Spielberg and Tarantino, who dove headfirst into filmmaking. Age didn't matter. Any guy who approaches me with a business plan is ahead of the game, in my book. We made "King's Highway" with none of that organization and have suffered numerous times because of it. I'll keep you updated as things progress.

Speaking of "King's Highway", I have removed it from the iKlipz website because of some very, very interesting developments in the past two months. I can't say much more, but things could be very exciting come February.

I hope to have the Springsteen review in a couple of days.

Aloha

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November 1st... the start of another year

I tell ya, everyone should have the opportunity to take the day off of work on their birthday. There is nothing better than spending time with your wife and kids on a special day and having some relaxing moments to reflect on who you are, what your life is all about, and what you hope to achieve in the next year. I realize that most people do this on New Year's Day, but shouldn't it happen on your birthday?

So here I am, 38 and still working toward that brass ring. I've nabbed the sucker a couple of times in the past 8 years, but never been able to grab it and clutch it as mine. But I'm not giving up. No, I've found inspiration again in a couple of projects that are sprouting in my head. And I've returned to the words of Springsteen, whose lyrics to "Racing in the Street" have carried me through so many rough times when I felt like I'm going nowhere.

Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up
And go racin' in the street


I have to keep on working. I have to keep on writing. Something will break. The odds are in my favor. Now that "King's Highway" appears close to getting the distribution we have so desperately sought for four years, maybe some doors will finally open and I'll be able to make a living as a working writer. I don't know what happened in the past week, I really don't, but I feel rejuvenated. Even spending four hours swearing, banging my head and wrenching my back replacing the kitchen faucet did not phase me.

Today is a good day. Today I feel alive and excited about the future once again. And now I have something to look back on when the days aren't so good.

It has been a happy birthday, indeed.

Aloha

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Post Springsteen drag

The Boss concert was last night and I plan to post a review by this weekend (a deadline, imagine that). I'll will just say that the show was awesome. One of the best I've seen... ever.

Right now, I'm dragging through my day. I didn't get home until 12:30 and into bed until 1:00. But I'm jazzed because it's Halloween and we get to go trick or treating tonight. Tomorrow I took the day off of work to hang out with the family (oh, and it's my birthday).

That's all for today. November got off to an early, excellent start last night.

I'm rejuvinated and inspired.

Aloha

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My mother is doing very well. She’s sore, which is to be expected, but her spirits are very high. When I told her that many of my friends had sent the prayers and good thoughts in her direction, she was very appreciative. She asked to thank all of you out there in the blogosphere for being good people.

We all await test results from some of her lymph nodes that should be available to her by tomorrow. If all goes well, this should be the end of the cancer scare. Once again, I would like to extend my full gratitude to those of you that wrote me or called. To begin with, I am fortunate to have people even reading thunderbolt. That those same people have hearts and time to show concern is a blessing.

Aloha

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jake had a checkup at Children's Hospital yesterday and it was pretty tough. At one point, when they wanted to do a throat culture, he hid under the exam table and it took Julie and two others to get it done. Getting a blood sample was also equally diffuclt.

Last night when I was putting him to bed, we spoke a little about why he reacted that way. He said, "That throat thing makes me gag. It freaks me out, Dad".

He also said he wishes he didn't have CF.

I told him I wish he didn't, too.

We're going to have to put jake back on one of the medicines he was taking so that he can continue to gain weight. His doctors were concerned that he didn't gain any weight between checkups. I'd like to think it has something to do with the fact that the kid only eats Eggo Waffle Cereal, Spaghetti, Ritz crackers and Apples, but there are so many times he just doesn't want anything to eat. We were so happy when he was able to stop taking this medicine, but now it appears that he needs to help him gain weight.

Whatever it takes to keep him healthy.

Whatever it takes.

Aloha

Mom update

I meant to write last night but I ran out of steam.

First, I want to thank those of you who sent me emails wishing my Mom the best. These thoughtful gestures made the stress of my day ease just a little.

From what my dad told me yesterday afternoon, everything went well with Mom's surgery. The procedure took, like, 3 hours. Her doctor's are optimistic that they got all of cancer. This is a huge relief.

Somehow, I got a chance to talk to mom while she was waiting to find a room. She was groggy, but expressed how impressed she was with the hospital. She said everything was "cool". I, uh, never would have expected my mom to use that phrase in this type of a situation. Apparently some of her sons' California phrases have rubbed off on her.

I'm not sure what else I can say about all of this. I felt a huge weight lift off of me once I got to speak to my father. It was a weight I was unaware of pressing on me until it was gone. Like I said the other day, I am becoming more like my dad than I want to.

On that note, my dad sounded SO exhausted. I could tell that the stress of the day was taking its toll. Hopefully he rested easy last night.

Aloha

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A few weeks ago my mom called to tell me that her doctor had discovered cancer in her uterus. The procedure to remove this cancer is to perform a hysterectomy, which she’ll have done tomorrow morning. They have told her it is stage 1 cancer, so we all feel optimistic that once the operation is done, she will be fine. But there’s always that nagging “what if” that digs into my brain before the results from any test comes back.

It has been a long time since I’ve heard my mom sound anxious. In fact, I can count on my fingers the number of times I have hear the type of nervousness I heard in her voice that night she told me. I know that my dad is anxious as well, although he would never directly tell me. However, he let slip his feelings while they were visiting a couple weeks ago. As we drove to Lowe’s for one of our many visits, he sat quietly in the passenger seat. Trying to break the ice, I quipped, “Hey dad, thinking about the Indians?” (who were, at that time, still in the playoffs). His reply was the most philosophical I have ever heard him.

“When you think about it, what does it really matter at the end of the day. How does that game really affect our lives? It doesn’t.” Then he went back into his stoic stare out the window while I waited for the light to change.

Originally, Mom was supposed to have this operation in two weeks. However, an opening became available and she decided she wanted it done right away. I can’t blame her. To have to wait a full month (like she would have had to) must be torture. Another positive sign about her cancer is that they felt the operation could wait. If it were more serious her doctors would have dope the procedure right away.

Not that this isn’t serious.

I may have issues with my childhood, but I love my parents deeply. Whatever mistakes they made are in the past and I have moved on. I find myself becoming more like my father in many ways. The stress that I feel about serious, life threatening issues somehow becomes bottled up, even when I don’t want it to. I am very concerned about Mom and Dad, yet I don’t feel myself gushing with emotion. I hate that. I’d rather be worried to death with my stomach in knots than have a short fuse like I’ve had around the family. At least with my emotions on my sleeve I feel alive.

For those of you who read this blog, please send out a good thought or prayer for Eleanor Malchus on Thursday morning. While they may say that this hysterectomy is routine, I assure you there is nothing routine about what she is going through.

Aloha

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Santa Clarita fires update

Because some folks drop by thunderbolt to see how the family is doing, here is an update regarding the Santa Clarita fires.

There were five fires burning at one time and a couple came within a five mile proximity to our house. The sky was full of soot and at times it burned to take in a deep breath. However, the flames never came so close to the house that we were in in immediate danger. We did have some friends evacuate their homes because they lived closer to the fires. School was canceled yesterday and today because of the air quality, although we debated about letting Jake out of the house anyway. If our lungs were irritated, I can only (then again, I don't want to imagine) what the shit in the air is doing to his little body.

It was very strange to walk out of our house and look down our driveway at the clear blue skies then turn around and see plumes of gray smoke in the air. That's how strong the Santa Ana winds are. With gusts of nearly 50 miles an hour, trees are being toppled.

You can all turn on the news and see the destruction these fires have done to southern California. Sadly, good friends (practically family) of ours, the Gardners, await news of the fate of their beautiful home in Lake Arrowhead. Lake Arrowhead is a quiet mountain community that was attacked by the fires all day yesterday. The Gardners escaped the blaze wity two cars full of memories. They can only monitor the Internet to get updates up whether their home is still standing or now ashes. I am hoping for the best, we all are.

I took the day off of work yesterday to collect some of our important personal files (birth certificates, loan information, etc.) It is very sobering to put together an emergency box like this. Late on last night, I began to contemplate what all we would try to rescue in case the fires crept close to our home. The list was small. It made me realize how unimportant so many of the material things I've collected over the years are in the broad scheme of things.

I think of the Gardners and all that they may have lost and the importance of family is all I can think about. We have been blessed that many people are checking on us to make sure we are safe and that Jake is healthy.

Aloha

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Today is the first day in a long time in which I broke down because my son is is doing well. I wanted to say healthy, but with CF, will he ever be fully "healthy"?

Today, the toddler son of a CF family Julie talks to entered the hospital because he has been very sick lately. I can still feel that fear. I can still picture myself in my car driving to and from Hollywood to Children's Hospital then back to Santa Clarita when Jake went into the hospital the first time.

I want to wrap my children in my bulletproof arms and protect them forever.

If you have a son or a daughter, hug them now and tell them how much you love them.

Aloha

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mom and Dad left yesterday morning after a long week of working on the front of the house. Everything is not complete with the house, but so much got done through working with Dad that we are very grateful. It rained last night and that seemed to wash away some of the bad taste left from the anemic play of the Indians in last night's game. It was game 1 of the American League Championship Series and the Tribe had no answer for David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez (let alone the rest of their lineup). I like that Cleveland never gave up, but their entire play seemed sluggish. A hangover from the Yankee series? Perhaps. We'll see if they can rebound in game 2 tonight.

I'm in a bit of a haze right now. Taking the week off of work to paint the house was a great idea, but it was no vacation. I worked my arse off, I tell ya. Tomorrow we're going to the Lombardi Ranch pumpkin patch. I'm doing my best not to get stressed about how much we may spend tomorrow.


Aloha

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I’ve been at home all week working on the outside of our house. To say that I haven't done this much manual labor in a long time would be an understatement. My folks are in town and I have really enjoyed the time spent with my dad as we built window frames and painted the front of the house. Of course, being at home means I am stuck with this God awful dial up service that is as slow as a sloth taking a dump.

Besides the stories my dad has told me of his youth growing up in North Olmsted and working on my grandfather's chicken farm, we've had some good meals and great conversations. As you all know, by now, the Indians beat the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs. Sunday night was gut wrenching as the entire family (including Budd's clan) gathered at our place for the game. Unfortunately, the Yankees won that night. While the agony of defeat was something I could handle, it was too much for Sophie and she broke into tears when the Indians lost. She has really gotten caught up in the emotions of these playoffs. I need to dial it back some so that she can learn that it is only a game.

Still, when the Indians won on Monday night, I ran down the hall and lifted Soph into the air, cheering. Then I threw Jake up and we all shouted for joy. If the Tribe's run in the playoffs is a short one, at least we had that one night of celebration.

Usually the time spent with my Mom and Dad ends just in time and I am at my wit's end by the end of their visit. Don't get me wrong, I love them to death, but we're all adults and need our space. Who doesn't experience that with their own parents, I ask you? But this trip has been different. It was especially nice to have them on hand this past Monday.

Some of you may know that we had some concerns about Jacob's heart the past three weeks. He went in for an ear infection and the doctor heard an irregularity with his heartbeat. Jake then had an EKG, which indicated an irregularity, and the stress and fear set in. Julie was scared. I haven't heard her express her fears like she did in a long time. On Monday we took Jake to a cardiologist for an Echo exam (like an ultrasound of his heart) and I am relieved to say that there is nothing to worry about. Thank God!

Anyway, Mom and Dad were here to watch Sophie and it was a great comfort to us knowing that she was with them, relaxed, in case we would have received bad news. But like I said, the news was great. Now we can go on living our lives with just CF to worry about. We have other health things to be concerned about dealing with my mom. I’m not sure if she would mind me talking about it, I will ask. But until the time that I can go into detail, any of you who know Mrs. Malchus, please send out a good though or prayer (or whatever you believe in) for her.

I must be off. It’s late Wednesday… Good Christ, it’s only 7:30! I feel like it’s 11:00. I am OLD. I’ll try to write more later this week. I have some exciting news about a new project I’m involved with. I should be able to give details in the next week or so.

Aloha

Friday, October 05, 2007

I did not expect that

Seriously, I expected a closer game. Then again, I should have know better when Sophie and Jake put on their lucky hats. Although they didn't watch the entire game, there was a little bit of excitement for them in the series opener last night. I'm sure that watching their dad pace in front of the television will leave a lasting impression.

I can't explain why I'm so excited about this year's playoffs. I think it's the hope of watching your team succeed and possibly win it all. That hope is something the city of Cleveland needs badly. If there is one town that needs a championship to lift the spirits of an economically depressed area, it's Cleveland. And these group of guys on the Indians team are men of character and classy teammates. You never get the sense that there is any finger pointing in the clubhouse. If someone fails, the whole team fails. And if someone is outstanding, well, his outstanding achievements are for the team. I am most impressed with C.C. Sabathia's maturity as a pitcher. A couple of years ago, he would have been bitching about the strike zone and the calls he wasn't getting. But C.C. took it in stride. Good for him.

Hope, my friends. That is the theme of the fall of 2007. Springsteen. Indians. Hope.

Game 2 begins at 2:00 (PT)

Aloha

Thursday, October 04, 2007

And so it begins...

The Indians have just taken the field in game 1 of the divisional series against the Yankees. I'm on the edge of my seat. I love this team.

Go Tribe!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

ABC's "Cavemen"

I have to be upfront and tell you that I sat down to watch "Cavemen" because my close friend, Tony Gardner, designed the makeup for the cavemen characters both in the popular Geico commercials and the television series. Tony is a master at what he does, having been in the effects business for over 25 years. Most recently, he and his company transformed John Travolta into a woman for the hit movie, "Hairspray" (although you wouldn't know it by the way New Line promoted the film). Like I said, Tony is a friend. I want him to succeed.

That said, I anticipated the worst after each and every review I read for the show stated that "Cavemen" is terrible. Julie and I hunkered in for a long half hour. We analyzed the makeup for about 5 minutes (it was stellar, of course), but you know what, we both got caught up in the first episode and laughed a lot. The show was very funny.

I'm not saying it's the next "Arrested Development" or even "Two and a Half Men", but I laughed much more at the jokes in "Cavemen" than I did at the over hyped Fox sitcom, "Back to You" (starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton). "Back to You" was supposed to be the "return of the sitcom". Yeah, well, I loved that one so much that I didn't miss it when I forgot to TiVo last week episode.

The negative reviews of "Cavemen", I believe, were clearly a case of TV writers hating an idea and not giving it a chance. While a show like "Brothers and Sisters", which was dreadful in it's first, like, five episodes, was allowed room to grow and given some leeway, a series based on a commercial is deemed horrible and not worthy of a second look. Well, I'm here to say that I'll be checking in on "Cavemen" next week and it's not because I know the guy who does the make up effects.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bruce Springsteen's "Magic"

I'm sure you can look anywhere this week and find a major publication reviewing the new Bruce Springsteen album, "Magic". A.O. Scott wrote an excellent article for the NY Times last week and Ann Powers of the LA Times delivered a glowing review, too. My favorite quote so far comes from Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly when he stated "If there's another ''Glory Days'' here — an inevitable concert standby that Bon Jovi will spend the next decade trying to rip off — it's ''Livin' in the Future,'' an insanely jubilant celebration of denial as a coping mechanism."

I decided to ramble for a few minutes about the new Springsteen record, as if I was talking to an old friend while pounding back beers in a local dive. Imagine, if you will, music blaring over the jukebox, the sound of pool balls cracking and glass mugs clanging as I shout out my opinion to you.

I was fortunate enough to receive an "advanced" copy of "Magic" two weeks ago, so I've had time to live with the music and grasp whatever lyrics I could wrap my brain around when I wasn't rocking out. Yes, this is a rock album. There are only 2 slow songs on the entire album (3 if you count the lovely bonus track). On top of that, this album is a return to the soundscapes that Springsteen mastered in the late 70's and early 80's. When I listen to the songs on "Magic", I am reminded of not only "The River" and "Born to Run", but also "Born in the USA", which, despite its weaker songs, is one of the great pop albums of the 80s'. And in the end, "Magic" is truly one of the great pop records of this year.

Springsteen has gone on record as saying he decide to return to pop music, after spending the past 20 years trying to create cohesive albums with a unifying sound, whether it was the countrified "Tunnel of Love", the slick "Human Touch, "The sparse "Tom Joad" record, or 2002's anthemic, weighty "The Rising." Actually, if you listen to "Magic" all the way through, I believe you'll find elements of every type of Springsteen "sound" on this record. For that reason, "Magic" reminds me a lot of Springsteen’s "Tracks" box set that came out in 1998. On those 4 cd's we saw a cornucopia of styles and songs that somehow didn't fit into the Boss' scope of things when he released his landmark records. It seems that finally releasing that music had an enormous effect on Springsteen. It seems that he listened to all of this "lost" music and wondered why "Loose Ends" or "Be True" were never properly release. He may have also wondered why the hell it took so long to make his LP's (something he seems to be making up for since 2002, when he has released nearly an album a year). From what I've read, "Magic" came together rather quickly. But make no mistake; this album is not loose, say, like "Lucky Town". Brenden O'Brien has once again expertly produced the songs (this being his third Springsteen record) and the musicianship is a joy to listen to.

Like "Born in the USA" did twenty four years ago, "Magic" begins with the driving, angry song, "Radio Nowhere", which lays the ground for the rest of "Magic". And like his landmark 1983 album, "Magic" appears to be a typical Springsteen record. But dig below the surface, and you find a lot of anger and darkness. But this should be no surprise for Springsteen aficionados. He has always hidden his message in the great hooks he creates. "Dancing in the Dark" may come of as a light, pop confection, but pay attention to the lyrics and you uncover a sad, depressing song. The same holds true for most of the songs on "Magic". Lovely arrangements are ear candy, but reading along with the lyrics, you see clearly that Springsteen is so happy go lucky. In fact, he's pissed. He's pissed at the Bush administration. He’s pissed that sons and daughters are getting killed in a war that shouldn't have happened in the first place. And he's pissed that the country that he loves and for which he has always held out hop seems to have lost its way.

I'll admit that upon first listen, I was a little taken aback at the music on "Magic". It felt like he was recycling his older music after spending the past three years exploring folk and gospel (on both the "Devils & Dust" cd and tour, and his triumphant "Seeger Sessions" album). But after two listens, the songs stuck in my head. I found myself walking around the house humming "Girls in their Summer Clothes" and discovered that I can't go a day without hearing "You'll Be Coming Down". In fact, the latter song may be one of my favorite Springsteen songs in years. The sound harkens to "The Rising", with chiming guitars and pitch perfect harmonies. During the second verse, the accompanying guitar incorporates the sort of echoed guitar effect that the Edge has mastered. Combined with Patti singing alongside her husband, it brings chills to my arms.

"Livin' In The Future" is already a favorite in our house, with it's poppy sax sound that not only reminds me of "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" and "Hungry Heart", but also the great Gary U.S. Bonds song, "Out of Work", that Bruce wrote for him.

Originally, I felt every song was great except the finale, “Devil’s Arcade”. However, after finally hearing the clean version of the song and getting to read along with the lyrics, I have changed my mid. “Devil’s Arcade” aches with the pain of every mother and father, sibling, lover or child who have lost someone in the Iraq War. And the music soldiers on… driving home this pain until everything slowly fades into nothing. “Devil’s Arcade” close out “Magic” in inspiring fashion.

As a bonus, Springsteen tacked on “Terry’s Song”, a plaintive elegy he wrote for his longtime friend who passed away in July. It is the perfect coda to yet another Springsteen masterpiece, and the best E Street Band record since “The River”.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Glad to see you go, go, go, go, goodbye

Dear September,

I'm not quite sure how to put this, so I'm going to come right out and say it: You've outstayed your welcome.

Look, I was excited as you were about you coming to town for a month. I mean, what's a year without a visit from old September, right? but, dude, you've really been a downer this year and I just can't take any more of your crap. Now September, I don't want you to get upset. I love you. I really do. What, with the change of colors in the leaves and the cooling weather (usually), you're one of my favorite months. And how can you go wrong with that three day weekend you gave me at the beginning of the month. Dude, that was great. Oh, and the weekend when it rained. Killer, my friend.

But like I said, you've become too much. You've given me hellacious writer's block, you've caused turmoil in my family life, and you made me put on some weight. I didn't want to eat those Oreos, but I had no choice. You drove me to it.

I will always appreciate getting a sneak at the new Springsteen album. I will always treasure the final month of the 2007 baseball season when Sophie and I bonded while she kept track of the Indians wins and losses. For those things, I am forever grateful, September. But the writing has been on the wall for two weeks now and I insist that you leave.

Tomorrow morning when I get up, I expect you to have your things packed up and out of the house.

This isn't goodbye forever, September. But I need some time. Maybe... maybe in a year I'll be ready to see you again.

Take care of yourself, September.

One last thing. I want my "Bad English" LP back. I never said you could borrow it.

Aloha

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Steve-o

At some point during a 1998 Sammy Hagar concert, between the beers and the whiskey, the hugs with my brother and the singing along to "Three Lock Box", I had an epiphany. I don't recall where I heard it said, but I was suddenly reminded that we might have more than one soul mate in this world. There are the soul mates that are our true loves. I am a blessed man to have found Julie and had my life completed in that way. Then there are those people who complete us as friends or brothers.

I'm not sure why this thought came to me in the middle of the Universal Amphitheater or why, as I was screaming, "When eagles fly-iiii!" that I thought of Steve. But he stayed on my mind for the duration of the concert and the short drive home. After Budd had dropped me off outside our apartment, I kneeled in the bushes, puked, then stumbled my way up the stairs to Julie. I stank so bad from cigarette smoke, sweat and liquor that I didn't even consider sleeping in our bed. She shook her head at me ("you'll be sorry in the morning") and kissed me goodnight.

But I couldn't sleep. I had to share my epiphany with Steve. So, at 12:00 Pacific time, I dialed him up in North Carolina. Yeah. I woke him up. And yes, he patiently listened to the warbled mumblings of a drunken fool.

"Steve", I said, "I had this realization tonight... an epiphany" (which I'm sure came out 'epiphanry'). "Our souls are big things, man. And it takes a lot to fill out those souls. If our souls have been wandering all over the universe to finds a soul mate, who's to say that only there is only one person out there that completes someone else. I know, I know, I'm drunk, dude, and I know how this must be sounding and all, but dude, if a soul mate is someone who knows you inside and out, someone who completes a part of your life, why can't that person be a friend or, like, a sibling, or somethin, you know? Okay, so hear me out, man, and, like, I'm soooo sorry to be calling you at... oh, shit, man, it's like two o'clock there. Dude! I didn't think you'd really answer. Man, I'm sorry. huh Oh, so, then, like, I figured it all out, while Sammy was singing his ass off tonight. Dude, Sammy ROCKS! But, uh, anyway, I was just thinking, and, like, don't take this wrong, but, like, you're that guy. My best friend. You're like one of my soul mates, man. I'm a better person cause of you, Steve, and besides Jules and Budd, there is no one else I trust more than you, man. You are my brother, man. Does any of this make sense? Shit, I'm sorry for calling soo late. I shouldn't have had that Johnny Walker. Okay. Okay. Oh-kay. That's all. Tell your wife I say hello."

As always, Steve was gracious about all of this. When he spoke the next day, he was actually concerned that I wasn't sick. And he was flattered.

While some people would have fled from the lunatic on the other end of the phone, he knew where I was coming from.

In life we are lucky to find just one person that we can confide in and share all of life's wonderful moments and horrible happenings. I have Julie. She is my light always guiding me through the darkness. And I have Steve. A moral compass. A shoulder to lean on. Someone I can tell everything to and someone I trust with my life.

A friend in every sense of the word.

A brother.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A really pleasant weekend (it actually RAINED!) was capped off by the Indians winning the Central Division and earning a place in the playoffs. This may not seem like much to some of you. I mean, professional sports is just entertainment. But something about baseball in October is simply magical. After 162 games, a select group of men trot out onto chilly baseball diamonds where they have to warm their hands by blowing on them and some need to wear turtlenecks. Fans gather in the stands, chanting and cheering while wearing parkas, winter goats and several layers of gloves. The lights shine down and sparkle like jewels. Adults who have dreamed their whole lives of a championship fall to their knees and pray... or cry. They become young again. Some have their own children and hopefully, the joy and excitement these parents feel is passed down to their kids. I can't wait to watch the playoffs with Sophie and Jake. And if the Tribe makes it to the World Series, Sophie's going to have some late nights, I can tell you.

Go Indians!

Friday, September 21, 2007

My wife is so tough and heroic that I often forget that she is also human and suffers like the rest of us. Yesterday she suffered a migraine that shut her down completely. It was so bad that she called me in tears to come home while she went to see a doctor. I can not recall the last time I have heard her in this much physical pain. In moments like these, I become panicked and rush around like a chicken with my head cut off. The two of us have a tendency to put off our own ailments and tough it out. Personally, I feel like we deal with enough medicine in our house that I hate being the patient.

Of course, I hated being sick as a child. This most likely has something to do with my mother being a nurse and the horror stories she would tell of from the E.R. But, that, as they say, is a another story (for a different type of doctor).

Coincidentally, I spent the morning at the doctor's myself, having some areas on my feet inspected. Turns out I have a condition called vitiligo.

Hey Scott! What is vitiligo?

Glad you asked.

Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment (color) in the skin are destroyed. These cells are called melanocytes (ma-LAN-o-sites). Vitiligo can also affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eye.

Of course, I pulled that information from a website and just reading it made me nauseous. And that's another reason I hate going to the doctor. When someone actually explains what's wrong with me, I want to puke in the closest trash can.

Vitiligo, by the way, is the condition that Michael Jackson had that cause him to bleach his skin.

This has been a tough week. Jake was sick on Monday (getting over a weekend cold) and then he was diagnosed with an ear infection on Wednesday. Sophie felt queasy earlier this week, too. Must be something in the air. Or our house. My imagination is going wild.

Still, we pulled it out. We Malchi are pretty tough. And the woman who heads the household is the toughest one of us all. I have said many times that I do not know where she finds the strength to juggle all of her volunteer activities as well as handle all of Jake's medical issues. On top of that, she is great in helping with the homework (as I found out yesterday. Damn, did I feel like an idiot). I hate when Jules is sick or suffering. I am relieved and happy that she's feeling better.

Aloha

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thank you

It always amazes me when people I have never met face to face come out of the woodworks to wish me well. Last week I posted that I may be taking some downtime from the blog. Several of you wrote back telling me to take my time. This kindness can not go unnoticed.

Thanks to all of you.
Driving into work this morning, I was learning new tricks with my MP3 player and somehow wound up on Badly Drawn Boy's "I Love NY" from the ABOUT A BOY soundtrack. It is a song that I've written about in the basement series (http://augustone.blogspot.com/2007/03/basement-songs-i-love-nye-by-badly.html) and it is also a song I avoid when it pops up on the player. The strange thing is, the past few times it has come on, I've let it play and no tears came to my eyes. I was not sad or happy. At one point, I thought I must have listened to the song too many times and it has worn out its value to me.

Not the case this morning.

Man, as soon as it began, I started to lose it. Perhaps it's because Jake was sick over the weekend with a cold. Or perhaps it is because I haven't shed a tear since, like, June, but I was having a hard time seeing the driveway as I pulled into the parking garage. These past couple of weeks have been very special for me with the kids. Two weeks ago, when the Indians were on TV, Sophie wanted a hat to wear as we rooted for the Tribe. We couldn't find her pink Indians cap she owns, so I gave her one of my old time Cleveland Indians caps that no longer fit my fat head. Can I tell you how long I have waited to give one of my kids an old ball cap to call their own. She wears it around the house and looks adorable with her curly brown hair hanging out in frizzy tangles. And last night, as I sat with Jake during his breathers, he took my Indians hat off my head and wore it for a while. Eventually, we found his cap (with an "I" on it) and he wore the thing to bed.

Sometimes simple things like that are what I need to remind me of what my focus is supposed to be. Those kids. My wife. Our family. I am a blessed man to have these wonderful people to help me get through the days. I am a blessed man.

I guess the simple melody of Badly Drawn Boy's composition reminded me, too.

I'm glad I had that brief moment of letting go. Too many things are bottled up inside of me right now and having just a minor release has helped tremendously.

Aloha

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Slowly coming back

I almost closed the theater this week. At one point I felt that there is nothing left I want to write about. But I feel like there are too many wonderful things that my children do that I still want to share those things with my friends and family. For now, the basement door is going to be closed.

I know, I know, you're all devastated. Sorry. If you still want a free song, email me and I'll send something special each Friday. I suspect that I'll find inspiration in the coming weeks.

I really want to try doing this regularly. I really like the whole blogging experience. Unfortunately, life trips you up and in this case, my knees are too scraped to bare my soul right now.

So, then, how 'bout them Indians?

Aloha

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A moment of silence, please.

Julie and I were getting ready for work when her mother called from Cleveland. "Turn on the news" she said in a worried tone that immediately sent chills down my spine. There on the television, the two towers were in flames.

"Oh my God!" I exclaimed. Julie rushed out of the bathroom. She was 7 months pregnant with Jacob. Somewhere in the living room, Sophie was probably watching the Wiggles.

Mesmerized, traumatized, we sat and watched as firefighters and police officers attempted battled the flames while the rest of the country... the rest of the world... tried to make sense of it. What the HELL had happened? Word came in about the Pentagon. Then the crash in Pennsylvania. Finally, in horror, we saw the towers crumble into the earth taking the lives of more innocent people with them.

Although I have seen the footage over and over again, I will never forget that moment of disbelief. This isn't real. How can this be happening?

My boss called and told me the office was closed for the day. Julie went into work and soon learned that one of the executives from her company was on one of the planes. Sophie and I stayed at home. I didn't know what to do with myself because I couldn't sit around all day watching the news with a two year old running around. Numb. That's what I remember. Numbness and guilt that I was in a safe place.

I watered the lawn.

The next day, driving to work and stuck in the morning traffic on the 101, I looked around at all of these people in their cars, all of them seeming to be getting on with their lives. Cell phones, makeup and coffee for the morning commute. Were they like me, mystified that across the country our fellow citizens... our brothers and sisters... were digging through the damage, breathing death, and searching for their loved ones while we went about our business?

Nothing made sense. It still doesn't.

I will never understand how killing people justifies anything. Never.

Everything is everything, says Springsteen, but the loved ones from that day who died in moment of hate are still missing.

And they will not be forgotten.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It wasn't my intent to last week off. The holiday weekend coupled with a short work week really placed some pressure on me at work. Still, I could have at least written something nonsensical in order to keep the masses (okay, 30 people) happy.

By the end of the week, some really heavy shit came down and I just wasn't able to form a sentence. The last basement song entry was written before my brain cloud made itself visible.

I can't promise anything this week other than some thoughts here and there. Distractions like watching a movie during lunch with my coworkers or taking in an Indians game are good for the soul. However, the moment I begin typing on the keyboard, I can feel myself opening up and I can't do that right now.

Aloha

Friday, September 07, 2007

Basement Song- "Out On The Weekend" by Neil Young



We had a custom in 76 Rodgers my first year at Bowling Green. That year I roomed with my cousin Dave and nearly each night we’d slap an LP on the JC Penny turntable I inherited from my brother, Budd, and let an album side play while we slept. The record player was an old 1970’s model with a return mechanism that kept an album side repeating continuously until you shut off the machine. Back then I was old school and had two crates full of crackling, well loved records. Cousin Dave began our unusual ritual, most likely after a night of Iron City beers and a couple Marco’s pizzas. Our first semester was pretty typical of the freshman experience. That initial taste of independence coupled with the recklessness and abandon of youth lead to many nights of laughter resulting from the stupid shit we’d do.

Cousin Dave and I weren’t exactly bosom buddies when we decided to room together. A year older than me, I looked up to him, yes, but more like a second brother than a friend or a confidant. Still, having the opportunity to live with someone I grew up with was more inviting than sharing my space with complete stranger. At least Cousin Dave still had to associate with me (out of family obligation) if we ever fought or grew sick of one another (which we did).

So it was Dave who one night put on an LP and let it play all night long. I didn’t mind; in fact, I liked it. Waking up to the dreamy sounds of some song you love is like being enveloped in a warm blanket: comforting and familiar. Throughout the fall, Clapton’s Slowhand; Tracy Chapman’s first album and Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love and Born to Run all became the bedtime music that lulled us to sleep on a nightly basis. The most frequent artist to sing us complex lullabies was Neil Young, whose tangy warble on his masterpiece, Harvest, became the soundtrack to the autumn of 1988. At the time, Cousin Dave and I were just discovering the music of Neil Young. In my opinion, there is no finer record to introduce a novice to his catalogue than “Harvest”, and there is no finer song to ease you into the Neil Young mindset than track 1 on side 1, “Out On The Weekend”.

Harvest was given to me as a gift by my friend, James, after the two us toughed it out at a cold, rainy Young concert in early September of that year. This was at the very end of Young’s “fuck you David Geffen, I’ll make whatever kind of music I want” period in the 80’s, so the concert venue was far from sold out (the actual show was Neil Young an the Blue Notes, who produced a solid record and a controversial video that year). James bought me Harvest to build my interest in Canadian poet and I am forever grateful. While I quickly took to the popular songs like “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man”, Cousin Dave was enamored with “Out On The Weekend”. Perhaps it had something to do with his musical upbringing consisting of a fine mix folk influenced country music. “Out On The Weekend” typifies Young’s strength in that genre.

Our countless nights of partying or blowing off steam began with the mellow “doom doom thunk” of Kenny Buttrey’s drums and the guitar and harmonica of Young. The rest of the Stray Gators Band ease into the rest of the song, slowly getting the blood flowing as if we’ve just woken up from a long bender. (The Stray Gator’s, by the way, consisted of Ben Keith on steel guitar, Tim Drummond playing bass, and the legendary Jack Nitzsche handling the piano and slide guitar).

Initially, “Out On The Weekend” sounds like a typical getaway song.

Think I’ll pack it in and buy a pick-up
Take it down to L.A.
Find a place to call my own and try to fix up
Start a brand new day


For a couple of young guys (19 & 20), what better was to get you motivated for the classroom than a song supporting the age old motto of following your dream- moving to L.A. (which is what I panned) and starting your life. That first verse is what lured us in. Dave’s constant playing of the song (sometimes two or three times in a row) and the repeated times it soothed us to sleep made “Out On The Weekend” a standard in room 76 of Rodgers dorm. At any given point in the day, whether it be after a shower, between classes, or before the tray races we held with our R.A., the plaintive cry of Young’s harmonica could be heard coming from our room. With the popularity of hair metal and early dance music at that time, we must have seemed like oddballs on our floor. Then again, with a 50 inch stuffed Bullwinkle doll and a map of Tennessee taped on our wall, it didn’t take much to appear a little odd. At that time, I had severed ties with my high school girlfriend. It was a long, painful period for me after she moved to Tennessee (hence the map). When she finally wrote me a final “we have no chance”, I went through a very blue period. The only thing that could ease my mind was buying something ridiculous (hence the stuffed Bullwinkle which we hung from our ceiling). I bring this up because it is the second verse of the song that reveals a deeper meaning to “Out On The Weekend”, a meaning that connected with my heartache at the time.

The woman I’m thinking of- she loved me all up

and

See the lonely boy, out on the weekend
Trying to make it pay
Can’t relate to joy, he tries to speak and
Can’t begin to say


This isn’t a song about running to find your dreams; this is a song about moving forward and putting the pain behind you. This is a song about heartbreak. Pure country.

Dave and I never spoke about what the song meant. He wasn’t one to expose his emotions as openly as I did. With a constant smile on his face and a devilish gleam in his eye, Dave easily disguised any pain he may have been feeling. While I constantly fought back tears during Springsteen’s “Valentine’s Day”, he challenged me to live life for the moment and not wallow in the misery of a broken heart. Looking back at that time, I like to believe that he was doing his best to get me going in my life, as if to say, “Deal with the pain, cousin. She’s not coming back. You have to move on.” In other words, “You have to pack it in and take it down to L.A.” Thanks to his subversive methods, that was what I was able to do.

Ten years ago, Cousin Dave came to visit us in California (the first of several visits). I recall it as a period o cautious fun. We drank, went to an Indians/Angels game, reminisced and toured Los Angeles in his rental convertible. It was a wonderful time. One of the first things he did upon arriving in California was purchase Harvest on cd just so he could listen to “Out On The Weekend” over and over again in the car. When he left for home, he gave me that cd, which replaced my beat up vinyl copy of Harvest. It was the second time I was given this classic album as a gift. I am forever grateful.

Throughout the years, Cousin Dave has become one of my closest friends and supporters. When it came time to shoot “King’s Highway”, he came out to help with not only the first 9 day shoot, but also the three days of pickups. And when we needed hast or magnets for CF fundraising, Dave has never hesitated to help design something at no charge (he works in promotional merchandising). Try as I may to convince him to move out west, he enjoys his life in Washington DC. Although our year as roommates ended poorly (we were at each other’s throats by the end), all subsequent years at BG were sometimes lacking the spontaneity we shared while living in Rodgers dorm. We would hook up once a month to watch a Browns game or go out to hold us over. And if there came a day or night when I felt I needed a little nudge- a simple reminder to keep pursuing my dreams and not to dwell on life’s minor setbacks, I could always put on side 1 of Harvest and listen to “Out On The Weekend” over and over again.