Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Too Fast

This past weekend as I noted in my previous post marked the 30th anniversary of the passing of Harry Chapin. Harry's music played a pivotal role in my ascendance from childhood to adulthood. His were the first concerts that I attended without parental supervision. I would sit for hours listening to his albums, (yes-ALBUMS!!) trying desperately to memorize the lyrics to every song-not an easy task as his shortest song ran over four minutes in length-while attempting chord progression after chord progression until I had a semblance of his sound. His poetry spoke to me. He was a storyteller set to music and I was enthralled. Harry Chapin was to me what John, Paul, George, and Ringo where to my friend the Beatles Fanatic. He and Debbie Friedman z"l were the soundtrack to my youth. This adoration only grew each summer as I headed off to camp to live, work, grow and share with an entire community of Harry-philes. GUCI was a veritable cornucopia of learning opportunities about Harry and his music. We would sing his songs at campfires and lights-out programs. We would use his music to enhance shiur and limmudim messages. We would talk of his work for World Hunger and his great philanthropic deeds. Harry was one of my first Tikkun Olam heroes. But most of all, we would just sit around and sing. There was always a new Harry song or album to learn and listen to.

The summer that Harry died, I was 18 years old. He was touring that July and was headed to Indianapolis later that month. Rumours were swirling around camp that "the powers that be" were in contact with Harry and his people to come to camp to visit, and perhaps perform a few songs. It was definitely in the talking stage, but it would tragically never come to fruition. When we heard the news of his horrific crash, I recall feeling as though somebody punched me in the stomach. We mourned for days as was befitting his iconic status. This past weekend marking the 30th anniversary, that feeling came back to me just as fresh and just as visceral.

It is truly odd to me that I can recall 30 years with such colour and vividness. 30 years. I have graduated both high school and university. I got married, had children, watched them grow and develop lives of their own independent from me. I have developed a career, built a life with friends and family, suffered loss and accumulated much. 30 years has gone by much too quickly. I am not trying to be wistful or maudlin, just stating a fact. Harry knew it. He even sang about it.

I let time go lightly when I'm here with you, 
I let time go lightly when the day is through.
I keep a watch on time when I've have work to do, 
I let time go lightly with you.

30 years is a long time and it has flown by in an instant.

***A quick addendum. It was actually Harry's brother Steve that wrote the lyrics for this song, but Harry was the singer.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Harry Chapin Remembered

30 years ago yesterday, we lost Harry. I was at camp that summer and I remember the devastation that we all felt. I saw Harry many times in concert. He was one of the great live performers of all times and was way ahead of his time in terms of philanthropy. One of the all-time greats

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Summer Stupidity

Summer is a funny time. People seem to have feelings of invulnerability. We see it all the time. Cars driving far too fast on city streets. Young men stupidly diving into lakes, rivers, and swimming pools without first checking depth. Young women vainly scalding themselves pool or beachside without the benefit of proper SPF. Skateboarders, rollerbladers, and bikers weaving in and out of city traffic without the protective gear they so desperately require. Any of these might easily qualify for the 2011 edition of the Darwin Awards but frankly two events this week seem to have the inside track.

First up has to be the poor deluded soul who died this week from a tragic motorcycle accident. The 55 year old man was participating with others in a ride protesting New York State's requirement to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. He was, of course, helmet-less when his bike fish tailed sending him flying over the handlebars and cracking his skull on the sidewalk. Police and emergency personal say that he probably would have survived the fall had he been wearing a lid. I suppose that his personal liberty was a more important than his safety because he died for the cause. While one could probably successfully argue his libertarian point of view, I am having a difficult time of thinking of his death as anything but senseless and stupid.

Next we have to mention the annual stupidity in testosterone surge known as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Earnest Hemingway romanticized this race against maiming in his 1923 novel The Sun Also Rises. Almost 90 years later, hundreds make the pilgrimage to Spain in order to test their mettle and stupidity against beasts angry enough to kill everything in their path. People are gored, trampled, brutalized, and often killed in a dumb and misguided attempt to hold onto a tradition that should have been outlawed years ago. Sorry! Anybody who chooses this idiocy as a "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" story is kind of asking for trouble and gets my vote for this year's Darwins! Please folks. Let's try to have a wonderful summer, but keep it safe.

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Patriotic Ditty

I realize that this particular video was made for Canada Day 142, but we are still here two years later and the sentiments are the same. Music and Lyrics by Oscar Brand and sung by The Travellers. I think it is our God Bless America. Way Better than O Canada! Enjoy the 144 Canada. We are perfectly "square" today as always.