Music Music Everywhere

Music is truly magical.  It reaches out and touches each of us in different ways.  Across distance and time, across oceans and through the air, music has a way of making us feel.

When I think of different moments in my life, I think of the soundtrack: the first song played in my new car (Weezer, Buddy Holly), I think of riding in my dad’s truck listening to Dwight Yoakum and Randy Travis, of the music in movies I loved growing up.  I think about opening a new tape or CD on Christmas morning, picking an album to download from iTunes.  Getting my first iPod.  I think about the music in Disneyland, and how I can still get teary eyed from it.

I think about taking my parents to see Rain, a tribute to The Beatles, and what that experience meant to all of us.  I think about discovering old music, staying up far too late introducing my mother to some band, or shushing someone in the car to listen to a great bass line.

My son is growing up, and music seems to be an integral part of his experience.  As I watch him grow and learn, I see that a love of music is bubbling just beneath the surface.  His mother sings to him, Mickey Mouse plays some of his favorite hits almost daily, and I push the boundaries of what he knows.  There’s music in the car, and music on walks, and music during bath.  He is surrounded by music, because his mother and I place such importance on music.

Music is the fabric of my life; the tapestry of my story is woven together by threads of song.  It can lift you out of a bad place, or help to ease the passing of time.  It can be a balm on a terrible day, or the way to celebrate a great one.  I don’t know what the world would be like without music, but I do know it would be a darker place indeed.

A Love Story

Our breathing rang in my ears, and I could feel my heart beating in my stomach.  “Do you think they’ve stopped?”  I glanced behind us.  “I don’t know,” I panted.  “And I don’t really want to find out.  Come on.”  I pushed off against the brick wall, forcing myself to go a little further.

The alley ended at a green wooden fence, and I helped you over before doing it myself.  We were in the patio area of a restaurant.  The patrons stopped their meals and looked at us aghast, their faces illuminated by the candles on the tables and twinkling lights strung over them.
“Reservations here are such a bitch to get,” you said, with a smirk and rolled eyes.  I smiled at your response before taking your hand and leading you towards the front.  We are being chased and you come off with a comment like that.
“Have a good night.  It was delicious,” I state to the maître d’ as we walk casually out of the doors.  He smiles and waves, just another happy customer opening up a table as far as he is concerned.

We head to the side street where the car should be parked, keys inside.  I notice you holding your bag a little tighter to your side.  The bulge inside it a little more conspicuous than I would prefer, but it blends in the shadows of the dusky evening light.
I opened your door first, taking the opportunity to take a quick look around.  I saw him, about 300 yards behind us.  Smoking a cigarette and trying to look like he was on his phone, the furtive glances giving away his true purpose.  I walked slowly to my door, opened it, and started the car.
When I didn’t pull away immediately, you knew something was wrong.  You began to swivel in your seat, but I placed my hand on your leg to stop you.  The spark was immediate and surprising.  “Two behind us.”  I looked into your eyes.  You reached over and kissed me.  Passionately, twisting my head to the side.  You let me go, a fire in your eyes.  “Sorry, couldn’t be too conspicuous.  One more in front.”  “Hey, no argument from me.  Should we just give up now?”  I knew your answer before I asked the question.  So did you, smiling with that grin that you saved for special occasions.
I pushed the brake in and slid the car into drive, slowly pulling forward, even signaling my merge with traffic.  Another car peel away from the curb on the other side of the street.  I needed to get to the other side of the city, but I wasn’t in any hurry.  I was going to make these guys work for their daily rate.
I got on the freeway while you fiddled with the stereo, finally settling on some classic Soul.  The music played, contrasting nicely with the seriousness of the situation.  I couldn’t help myself, smiling and dancing in my seat to the music.  You laughed at my antics, before joining in.  The sight of the two of us rocking out to James Brown, and Kool and the Gang would must have begun to make the thugs following us question if they had the right car.
To confirm their suspicions one of the cars slowly sidled up to our’s.  I got a quick glance of a bald head and leather jacket, before I swung the wheel sharply to the left and back; the car jumping at the combination of the maneuver and the lane bumps.  You grabbed my leg to steady yourself, and I gripped the wheel a little tighter at the unexpected touch.
Their car had attempted to avoid my apparent lane change and ended up over-correcting, spinning out and facing the wrong way.  I pushed the accelerator to the floor and watched the traffic snarl form in the rear view mirror.  “Proud of yourself?”  You asked this as you fixed your hair in the mirror.  “Actually?  Yeah,” I answered as I took the next exit.  “Me too,” you stated, a contended look across your face.
You settled into your seat, snaked your hand into mine, and sighed.  “Y’know, a girl could get used to this.”
I silently agreed with you, squeezed your hand a little tighter, and cast a quick smile at the bag on the floorboards.  “I hope so.”

A Plea for Reason

And it happens again.  More violence.  More hate.

My Twitter timeline and Facebook Newsfeed are full of stories of people acting like animals.  Messages and posts of how this group or that class or these people are taking away from us.  How “we” need to be against “them,” or they hate women, guns, law and order.  It’s full of “Cop-on-Black-Violence,” Black-on-Black-Violence,” violence in general.  How the gays, the women, the minorities, the Republicans and the Democrats, the Socialists, Iranians, and Russians, the old white men and do-nothing youth, all of them are trying to take this country away from everyone else.

Except they’re not.  And, what’s more, we all know that.

We are all tired of this 24-hour news-cycle inspired tirade of vapid stories.  We are tired of the hate and the vitriol and just how fake all of it is.  We are tired of complaining that the politicians don’t work for us, they work for the millionaires and billionaires.  But that isn’t even true, not really.  They work for a handful of producers, creating a real world version of The Real World.  They are performing for an audience that can no longer maintain the attention span.  The dumbing down of America has reached the point that to keep us engaged we now have a side-show act running for President; a figurehead of fears and dark thoughts we have had in the hidden places of our collective brains.  America’s id running for public office.

We have lost our minds.  We have lost our humanity.  We have become a society that celebrates a lack of knowledge, a lack of science.  We have politicians that state they are not scientists but don’t listen to those that are.  We have press conferences to proudly state how little we spend in education, or how high our student debt is.  We have hearings to decide which books to not read.

When schools take the humanity out of our youth, why are we surprised when they act like animals.  When the only role models they have are thieves and war-mongers, why are we amazed when they resort to violence as the only way to express themselves.  Why use words when fists are louder.  Why paint a picture when yelling is easier to understand.  Why sing when shooting is faster.  We have stolen art and thinking from our society, and now lament that we no longer have reason.

We have a whole year of political furor ahead of us; of slinging, hopefully proverbial, mud from one side to the other.  There will be arguments on both sides, far too few reasoned and thought out, and a belief that the victory of one side spells doom for the country. But the country is already doomed.  We have chosen this path from the comfort of our sofas.

This isn’t a conservative issue, or a liberal problem.  This isn’t a problem for the State or Federal Government.  This is a human problem.  This is a problem we have all made; either by design, or through standing quietly by and allowing it to happen.  Stop consenting to be divided and broken down.  John F. Kennedy said, “What unites us is far greater than what divides us.”  We are humanity, let us dance in the wonder of our own creativity, let us sing the joys of our lives, and paint pictures of our hope.  Let us be human again.

Goodnight, and good luck.