In the Background

zumreed-x2-hybrid-earphones-6Have you ever seen someone read while walking? Those people fascinate me. And I suppose I could do it too if I really focused, but it just seems like too much work with the possibility of disaster at the other end. It’s like listening to a book on CD while driving. Either I expend too much energy trying to concentrate on listening to the book that I can’t focus enough on the road, or I focus everything I have on the road and completely miss out on whatever was happening in that section of the book. So you would think reading while listening to music or reading with a lot of noise in the background would be a dealbreaker for me, huh? Not at all.

In fact, I can’t imagine reading without having some kind of music or noise going on behind it all. Most other readers I’ve talked to either can’t do the same thing, or they say if there’s music on in the background it has to be quiet in terms of both volume and content. For me it doesn’t really matter on the volume or content front. I can listen to classical music or Metallica, at low volume or at high, but what I can’t do is have complete silence when I read. Continue reading “In the Background”


Hearing Sammy

Heavy Metal

The first time I heard Sammy Hagar I was in the stacks of the Temple University library in 1996. I had my old-style, drug store, $6 dollar headphones plugged into my imitation Walkman, and his voice took me by surprise when it bore itself into my brain that fall. You see, back then I listened to the radio a lot, but I did it in unconventional ways. There were no podcasts, no digital radio like Pandora, and no satellite radio. There was just good old AM, good old FM, and an antenna to listen to either.

I wouldn’t often get the chance to listen at home, so I would get out blank audio cassettes, put them into the stereo, and press record. Then I would go back later and listen to them, trying to figure out who the singers and bands were that sang the songs I liked. There was no Shazam back then to figure it out, and the DJ didn’t always give the information, so it was a fact-finding expedition that often led to dead ends since I had no contacts to explain it all to me. But it didn’t stop me from loving the songs I loved from those tapes, from those radio days, some of which I still have no idea who sang to this day.

In those days I would also get caught up with those radio concerts, you know the kind that were edited so they could be on the radio, so they cut out all the good parts and a lot of the crowd noise too, plus even some of the show so it would fit in the alotted time the radio had planned for it. But back then it was the only way I got to listen to shows so I would copy them too. One time I found out there was an STP concert coming on, so I set the tape to copy it. I found out later, though, that it was one of those back-to-back show nights where they played two concerts in a row. The first show was STP, and the encore was a Sammy Hagar concert from 1983. Continue reading “Hearing Sammy”

The F Word

GRADE_FI hear it everywhere, from on the streets, to at work, on television shows, and even from my own children. It’s pervasive in this culture, and I can’t stand it. Every single time I hear that word I want to scream because it’s probably the single most overused, and most incorrectly used, word in the language. When I was younger I used to use it to excess too, so I understand why it’s so widely used, but as I’ve gotten older it just grates on me and I want to say something every time I hear someone say it. The other day I was at work when a little kid was whining to her mom, and she said the F word. I wanted to say something to her, but her mother did it instead, explaining what that word really meant. I was proud of her; it’s not often that I hear anyone corrected for its use.

Then I told my seven-year old she couldn’t have her iPad this morning, and I heard it for the umpteenth time come out of her mouth.

“But Dad, it’s not FAIR!” she told me, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

“It’s not fair that some people don’t have anything to eat while others waste food,” I said. “It’s not fair that other kids don’t have an iPad and you do. You want to give them yours?” Continue reading “The F Word”


Magic is fleeting
A fine wisp of smoke
It twists its way upward
As it stirs the breeze
Before drifting away
Back to where it’s from
A spark that expires
Like a breath of air
Waiting to inhale
To take it deep inside
Secrete it in my skin
Where it belongs
But that is not to be
For magic is fleeting
An idea that transforms
Taking me for the ride
And leaving at daybreak
With nothing but memories
That never do it justice
A wily vixen
On loan from heaven
To be enjoyed for a time
Before being set free.

Sleep is the Cousin of Death

secrets-good-sleep_311“It drops deep as it does in my breath. I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death.” -Nas

I remember when I was younger than I am now and I thought that being asleep meant dying, and waking up again was being reborn. It made me afraid to go to sleep for fear that I would never awaken in the morning. I would lie in my bed with my headphones plugged into my black and white television and the sound down low when I was supposed to be asleep. The flickering images on that little screen would keep me awake for probably fifteen minutes longer than I otherwise would have been, then my eyes would droop and I would fade. At some point during the night the headphones would get twisted up and pull themselves out of the TV and the sound would somehow be louder than I thought it was, but I wouldn’t wake up. I slept the sleep of the dead.

And I always have. When I was in high school I would always be the last one up, and my roommate would generally get me up by banging on the bottom of my top bunk or jumping on me when I had the bottom bunk. I was lucky he wouldn’t stick my hand in warm water instead. That would have been very uncomfortable and embarrassing, but I was spared such treatment at least. Continue reading “Sleep is the Cousin of Death”

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