Posted tagged ‘Life’

Once there was dignity

September 15, 2011

I’ve spent the last couple of days reliving the past via “The Help,” a moving film about black maids and the white families they served in 1960s Jackson, Miss., and ABC’s documentary “Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words,” based on interviews the former first lady did with Arthur Schlesinger Jr. a few months after JFK’s 1963 assassination.

The stories seem like ancient history to today’s younger audiences and Caroline Kennedy called her mother’s interviews “a snapshot of a world we barely recognize,” but the period covered in both was when I was finishing intermediate school and starting high school and I recognize it well.

It was a time of great hardship and tragedy, but also of great hope and commitment that brought historic change to our country, mostly for the better.

These women, the black maids from Missssippi and the debutante from the exclusive schools of New York and Connecticut, couldn’t have been more different in many ways, but it was the similarities that made their stories compelling.

They all displayed remarkable courage and inner strength in dealing with adversity and ultimately changing history.

They played the cards they were dealt with an unwavering dignity, disdaining public displays of drama so common today with some politician on every network and some malcontent on every street corner whining about getting screwed.

It struck me that courage and dignity are qualities we could use a lot more of today as we confront a new set of challenges of the same magnitude of those in the ’60s.

“The Help” is still playing in local theaters and you can see the Kennedy documentary at

Also just released was Schlesinger’s book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy,” which includes CDs of all six hours of the audio interviews.


Gone fishin’

August 21, 2011

I’m taking a little time off to spend what’s left of the summer paying attention to things other than the news. See you after Labor Day.

Partying and writing don’t mix

August 16, 2011

I attended a family birthday celebration at Dave & Buster’s last night and got through it by consuming several Black and Tans, so instead of  trying to write, I’m going to leave you a video shot Saturday of Ilisa Peralta’s guitar students performing Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” My granddaughters Sloane, 8, and Nakaylee, 7, are seated front and center in their first public performance, and they rock.

Birthday predictability

July 20, 2011

Today I have the pleasure of celebrating the birthdays of not one, but two, granddaughters and I’m not going to pollute the day with politics.

Sloane and Nakaylee were born exactly one year apart; Sloane is turning 8 and Nakaylee makes 7.

We have an unusual number of doubled-up birthdays in my family, including one I share with my brother Rick, who was born on my 9th birthday in what was truly the best birthday gift I ever received.

Rick’s wife Juanita shares the same birthday as our father, and their daughter Corryne had her first child Tristan on her own birthday.

We also have an unusual number of people born on the 2nd of various months, which leads to a conclusion that we’re a family of either amazing coincidences or a predictable annual schedule of knocking boots.

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better way to send my best wishes to Sloane and Nakaylee than a combination of The Three Stooges and the Beatles.

Plunking for Shane

July 7, 2011

I pretty much confine my voting to going to the polls on election day and have never been a fan of participating in shows like “American Idol” or voting in the online polls sponsored by news organizations.

So I was much surprised to find myself sitting with my iPad last night casting vote after vote to help Maui boy Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies play in the All-Star Game next Tuesday in Phoenix.

Victorino is competing against four other standouts for the final spot on the National League roster, similar to the spot he was in two years ago when he won the voting and made his first all-star appearance.

Major League Baseball lets you cast as many votes as you like as long as you’re willing to keep punching in a five-digit validation code, and by time my finger got tired, I must have cast a couple of hundred ballots for Victorino.

It was partly about supporting the local guy, but mostly it was an expression of respect for the way Victorino plays the game and carries himself.

He’s arguably the most accomplished and durable baseball player ever to come out of Hawai‘i. He plays centerfield for a team that’s always competing for a championship and won it once, contributing something every game with his bat, his golden glove and his hustle on the bases.

Off he field, he’s a class act who treats everybody with respect, takes being a role model for young people seriously and makes numerous community contributions in both his home state and adopted city.

He’s paid millions like other premium players of the modern era, but you get the feeling he’s one of those throwback guys who would play just as hard for free out of love of the game.

You can vote for Victorino until balloting ends at 10 a.m. today Hawai‘i time. The easiest place to find the ballot is at

Fading away into the Fourth

June 29, 2011

Like many others, I’m sliding into an early start on the holiday and won’t see you again until next week.

But I wanted to leave something to help you get into the spirit and what better way than “Rave On Buddy Holly,” a new tribute to the late rock legend with 19 tracks by the likes of Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Cee Lo Green, She & Him, My Morning Jacket, Kid Rock and Graham Nash.

Thanks to NPR, you can listen here to either the entire album or the individual tracks.

My favorite Buddy Holly song is “Not Fade Away,” and I enjoyed Florence and the Machine’s original percussion-driven take on the tribute album.

That got me sifting through other versions on YouTube and I found the epic rendition by the Grateful Dead as well as covers by the young Rolling Stones who made fireworks with their music, the geriatric Rolling Stones who rely on fireworks in lieu of the music, The Byrds and Bruce Springsteen, among many others.

But when it came to picking my favorite, nothing said summer to me more than Patti Smith at the Santa Monica Pier. Enjoy.

A Father’s Day tie

June 17, 2011

I’m taking the day off in honor of Father’s Day, and I leave you with a timeless Groucho Marx tribute to the occasion:

Give some YouTube love to my nephew Jake

May 27, 2011

We seem to have drifted into featuring good music on Fridays, which isn’t a bad way to end the week.

Today’s spotlight is on my nephew Jake Conol from Glenwood on the Big Island, with his soulful cover of Michael Bublé’s “Home.”

I consider Jake to be possibly a major undiscovered talent in Hawai‘i and some others agree; his video of “Wonderful Tonight” a couple of years ago got more than 55,000 hits and glowing reviews from viewers.

He’s been fronting bands in Puna since his talents on the ukulele started to emerge in middle school, but his musical ambitions became secondary after his mom was severely disabled in a tragic highway accident.

Even with the rudimentary production of these videos, Jake’s voice seems to come from someplace deep and real. He can be a wizard on the fretboard, but isn’t into showing off for its own sake. I like his simple guitar accompaniments that bring only as much as the song requires.

Give it a listen and if you agree with me, pass it on and help get the boy some YouTube hits. If you don’t agree, write me off as a proud old uncle.

Getting my ash kicked over European volcano

May 25, 2011

The renewed volcanic activity in Iceland that is spewing a cloud of ash toward Europe is again causing me grief because of the name of my blog.

As with last year’s eruption, travelers looking for information about flight cancelations search Google for “volcanic ash,” find my blog and ask me for the latest news. When I politely say I can’t help, they call me names.

One Lady Gaga type from England who checked my blog for volcano info and instead saw Neil Abercrombie called me a “friggin’ idiot” on Twitter. Another fellow blamed me for his train being 10 minutes late.

As it happens, my wife is leaving on a trip to Europe this week and even she asks me about the ash situation. Geez, I can’t even pronounce the name of the volcano.

(If burglars or loose women have ideas about taking advantage of the knowledge that my wife is out of town, the former should be warned that I have protection and the latter should give a a few minutes to go to Long’s and get some.)

I am so dead if my wife joins the other Europeans checking my blog for travel information.

A good man feeling bad

May 20, 2011

The headline is the best statement of the blues I’ve heard and nobody played it better than Sam “Lightnin’ ” Hopkins, who picks, sings and talks the blues in the above video I recently came upon clipped from the 1967 short film “The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins.” (Part one, Part two)

A Hopkins blues line was the source of my favorite quote to sustain me in old age, something to the effect of: “I ain’t afraid of dying, it’s just that you have to stay dead so long.”

He was also a source of inspiration to many of the guitar heroes of the Rock Age, in whose wailing sounds you’ll hear a lot of Lightnin’ licks played at warp speed. (His nickname notwithstanding, Hopkins was best known for slow blues shuffles with long runs of triplets that keep drilling deeper and deeper into your gut.)

Not that he wasn’t capable of going up-tempo. I leave you with another video of the old horndog trying to get a party on with a young and demure Joan Baez.


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