Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

For as long as I can recall, I’ve had a compelling infatuation with music of all kinds. I never did have the overwhelming desire to learned to play an instrument, as so many music lovers have had and I can’t seem to carry a tune in a bucket (though I think I sound pretty good in the shower) but I love listening to all forms of it.

When I was 6 years old my grandmother gave me a little Sonic brand transistor radio for my birthday and I thought that was the most wonderful present I had ever seen. I adored that radio and carried it with me whenever, and everywhere I was allowed to. At some point in my young life, I acquired a radio for my room and I would listen to it at night or in the evening or really anytime I was in my room doing something. In the 1960s the FM band was really unheard of and the only thing that you had available for listening to music across the airwaves was an AM radio. I discovered early on that the properties of AM radio was that the radio waves would bounce off the ionosphere and come back down at an angle so you often could tune in radio stations from far, far away. Generally, in the daytime you could only pick up mainly local stations and many rural and small market stations were limited by the FCC to how much wattage they could use to transmit their signal (I lived in a small town of about 7000 people). Most of the lower wattage stations would only transmit during the day light hours which meant that when the sun began to set and local stations would sign off the air, then their signal would stop overriding the more distant signals and we could tune in to listen to high-wattage stations from hundreds of mile away.

There was a radio station out of Chicago with the call letters WLS that was a huge favorite of mine and was one of the most popular radio stations among teenagers in the nation as they constantly played all the hits that America’s youth loved to hear. I looked forward to the evening hours so I could tune in and listen to my favorite Disc Jockeys. One hugely popular DJ that I recalled looking forward to hearing on WLS as he talked about and played the current hits as well as emerging new songs and artists was John Records Landecker. It was only after 6 or 7 in the evening that I was able to start receiving it and night after night I would loyally listen to it either with my transistor radio or in my room until it was time to go to bed, at which time I would tell John Records Landeker good night and grudgingly turn off the radio.

Overall I was a pretty shy kid and in 1968, at the age of 11, I was secretly and madly in love with a beautiful little dark haired girl at church by the name of Charlene. I vowed to myself I would build up enough courage to tell her how I felt, but every time I would see her at church, that courage would just melt away and I would set there silently adoring her. That summer on WLS, one of the new songs that started playing across the airwaves was one by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles called Tears of a Clown. I instantly fell in love with the song and I secretly dedicated it to Charlene as our anthem, as I continued to try and grasp the courage but continued to fail to approach her. One Sunday morning in August I noticed Charlene wasn’t there at church. That same evening at the Sunday night service she still wasn’t sitting in her normal seat in the auditorium, and so I assumed she might be sick. When I didn’t see her again at the following Wednesday evening service, I became concerned and on the way home that night I asked my mother if she knew why Charlene wasn’t at church and my mother replied that they had moved to Livingston. I was stunned, flabbergasted and totally devastated, for even though Livingston was only twenty mile away, to an 11 year old kid, it might as well have been twenty thousand. As I went to my room that late summer evening in 1968, I allowed the fact to sink in that because of my complete shyness and fearfulness I had squandered the opportunity to tell Charlene how I felt about her and now it was too late. As I began to wallow in this depression of my own making, I turned on the radio and proceeded to tune it in to 890 to listen to WLS. As if by design, mine and Charlene’s personal anthem, Tears of a Clown came wafting out of the radio speakers and I sank down to the floor and softly cried. Even to this day, some fifty years later, when I hear Tears of a Clown, I often think back to a simpler time and wonder what happened to that little dark haired girl I was so madly in love with in the summer of 1968.

Jim 5-8-20

As I walked out of the house this morning, to take advantage of the beautiful spring weather, I decided to start weeding my flower garden and as I pulled the little weeds that were beginning to spring up and cleaned away leaves and debris from around the flowers, I began humming whatever tune that happened to pop into my head at the moment. This morning the tune that dropped into the mental music slot in my cranium happened to be Hello Dolly sang by Louis Armstrong and as I happily hummed it as I worked, I started thinking about that song and the musical it came from. Whenever I hum tunes and then begin to think about whatever I’m humming, I often think of the context I remember the tune in. Whenever I think about the tune, Hello Dolly, I instantly think about Carol Channing’s smile. The beautiful Carol Channing starred in the musical in 1964 and it was a huge success for Hollywood at that time and Carol Channing was a much adored and beloved film and stage actress (when I was growing up we called females that performed on stage and screen, actresses…somewhere along the line I suppose someone got offended and the rush by the thought and speech gestapo to correct the “wrong” was swiftly enacted).

I recall reading a story a few years back about Carol Channing where it was revealed late in her life that her father was half black and she had to conceal that fact because if people had found out that she was any other race or color other than Caucasian then she could not have achieved any level of stardom in Hollywood as an actress. Sure, she may have been able to find work, but she would have been limited to roles that were specific to non-white actors…and that is a shame. My thought progression continued and I started thinking about my country’s history of racism and how for too long that people were snubbed, castigated and looked down upon as second class citizens because of their skin color. I then began thinking specifically about this, relating to Hollywood, and how not only were people judged and graded by their skin color, but also because of their sex (more thought progression).

This made me begin to think about the Me-Too movement that suddenly popped onto the scene and began to get coverage all over the media a couple of years ago…and I guess that this movement, at its core, is a good thing because nobody should have to be judged on the casting couch or to be forced to have sex just to try to get a start or to get noticed in Hollywood (or in politics, it would seem) but that’s the way life was in America, and especially in Hollywood, for much of this country’s history.

That being said, the problem with the Me-Too movement (and others like it) is that liberals and the media get hold of something that has a good solid basis and purpose and they proceed to destroy it to push and achieve a certain agenda. It appears most things that the media become involved suddenly is taken way, way off path to where it becomes unrecognizable to its original founders and they end up politicizing it and ruining the original purpose of it. This coupled with the fact that people are no longer innocent until proven guilty, but are instantly adjured guilty and are demolished by the media while their employers are publicly shamed by bleeding heart liberals to fire them, clearly demonstrates that the “innocent until proven guilty tenet that has been part of our justice system, is tossed out the window. In addition, if these folks want to try to prove their innocence, they have to fight the almost insurmountable uphill battle with their own funds as the media that happily annihilated their lives and reputations, clean their razor-sharp talons of the affair and scan the horizon for other victims like digital carrion birds.

Those folks that consistently hijack the desires to right long-term cultural wrongs, end up turning something good and righteous into these runaway movements that, through false narratives and paid hirelings (who on cue pose as victims to assist the attempt to destroy the current target), have bastardized and politicized years of hard work by good people to the point that they have almost become meaningless and are completely unrecognizable from their original purpose. Also, it seems today you can’t read or watch anything coming from the political left without hearing them accuse someone of being a racist, to the point that they have severely diluted the word as they bandy and fling the accusations about without cause or merit and often in a laughable way, that all they end up doing is jading the public to the point that if someone is justifiably accused of racism, it will not carry the weight or truth that it should. Americans are finally waking up and are beginning to turn a deaf ear to all these adulterations of the truth. You can only cry wolf so many times until folks begin to stop listening to you.

Jim

4-17-20

I was walking through a big box store today and saw an enormous TV…it was elephantine and appeared to reach to the sky. I don’t know the size of the screen, but it looked like it was 50 feet across. It wasn’t, of course, but as I walked past it I started thinking about how quickly we get used to the unordinary so it swiftly becomes ordinary, normal and unexciting. As I continued to think about it as I walked through the store, I recalled that when I was a young adult on my own for the first time I had very little. One of the things I owned was a little 13 inch television set that my parents had given me and it served me very well. At the time, a 25 inch set was considered huge and very few households had one that large.

Within a few years I was able to afford a larger television set and I happily graduated to a 19 inch table-top unit and I felt I was stepping in high cotton to obtain such a big tv. Man, that television set was gigantic compared to the little 13 inch set I used up to that point. When I acquired the 19 inch tv, the largest set generally available was a 27 inch model, but occasionally you would see ads for 32 inch televisions but they were much too expensive for most Americans to be able to afford. The only televisions available at this time were CRTs…cathode ray tube units that were deep as well as heavy…I think the 27 inch televisions weighed in around 50 to 60 pounds. If you had a 27 inch television set you had a very big piece of furniture (several years later I acquired a 32 inch television set and that monstrous tv was also monstrously heavy, weighing in at close to 90 pounds). Today the flat screen tvs are generally less than 4 inches deep, but decades ago when televisions had a cathode ray tube as the main component, these things were at least 2/3 as deep as the were wide. A 27 inch television would likely be 24 inches deep and would occupy floor space in the family room as a center piece of furniture. At some point I bought a 25 inch set and I remember watching it and wondering how I was able to watch anything on that little 13 inch set and at that point after getting used to the additional 6 inches of viewing area, the 19 inch television seemed small to me also.

Fast forward to twelve years ago and as I unboxed and plugged in my first flat screen tv that was an astounding 42 inches diagonal I was completely blown away and awe-struck at the size of it. Today we enjoy super sharp images on a 60 inch unit and when I saw a 42 inch television set the other day, it looked so, so small. If I were to build a room that had a wall large enough to fit a 100 inch screen onto, I’m sure that I would look back on the puny little 60 inch screen and wonder how I was able to watch anything on that seemingly minuscule surface.

So, today have we come full circle? I see the younger generation watching movies and gaming on a screen they hold in their palm while those of my era seem to want to bring the stadium jumbo-trons into their homes. Is it all perspective, or could it be something else? Up until I was 35, I could watch a honeybee’s path in the sky as it flew across a field, but today? No, I have to have glasses to read a book and I lose sight of the honeybees after a few feet. It could be that those of us with failing eyesight compensate with larger and larger screen, but after a short while even those screen don’t seem so large anymore…so I think it is a combination of both…age and perspective.

Jim

(I mentioned the weight of that 32 inch tv. When I got my first flat screen, nobody wanted CRTs and I eventually was able to give it away. The guy that came to take it off my hands was a big guy that arrived in a tiny car that was leaning to port (left) as he drove up. We struggled, sweated, cursed and stumbled but were finally able to shoe-horn that thing into the passenger side of his roller skate, which left him hanging out the driver window. As he drove away the car was no longer leaning to port, but it was squatting very low to the ground…he would have been right at home in East LA…)

On a side note, When I was younger, I kept the 19 inch television set for several years and as a bachelor, I often would lie on the couch on my side watching tv…so even though the TV had a horizontal aspect sitting on the shelf, my eyes were positioned vertically when I would lie on my side. I started wondering why the television shows looked normal with the difference in aspect…the set being on a horizontal plane and my eyes on a vertical plane, so I decided to experiment and I turned the television set onto its side so the tv and my eyes were on the same plane. That was so weird…I tried to watch the shows from this angle for a few nights and it was so unsettling watching the cowboys on their horses seemingly galloping straight up and straight down a grassy wall that I couldn’t concentrate and had to right the tv back to the proper perspective. So even though I was turned sideways watching a television set sitting on a shelf, my brain compensated for it to the point that when they were both vertically aligned, my brain was still viewing the tv set as horizontal, throwing everything off…strange…

4-16-20

I have recently been thinking about some of my favorite bible stories from my childhood and this one had an accompanying song about the same subject but I can’t seem to recall how the song went…oh well…

The book written by the prophet Ezekiel is a hugely interesting volume as he paints awesomely descriptive pictures with words as well as some extremely precise end-time prophecy, however, Ezekiel chapter 37 stands out as the format of one of my favorite bible stories as a child.

In this particular chapter Ezekiel writes of a weird story of a bunch of bones that go though a sort of progressive reversal entropy as they reassemble from dry bones into whole human shells lying there awaiting the breathe of The Lord to complete the process of bringing them to life. I have decided to approach this review of the chapter from a sectional viewpoint, separating it into two main sections.

Ezekiel 37 verse one through verse ten could be a description of any one of us. Most of us have been self-absorbed within our own humanity at some point in our lives and have turned our backs on God and His Word while dallying and dancing with Satan, whether we realize it or not. I know many feel that life is full of gray areas, but it is clearly and simply black and white, according to Christ in Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. (NKJV) Whenever the latter is the case, we are spiritually dead and as dry as kindling in the wastelands of our own self-worth and self justification without the Lord, just as these dry bones lying in the valley. Ezekiel tells us in verse 1 the Lord sat him down in the midst of the valley. My mind goes in weird directions sometimes and when I saw this I instantly wondered, “what valley?”. From a personal standpoint, I’ll call it the Valley of the Shadow of Death and since Ezekiel was with the Lord, he obviously feared no evil. When we are away from the protection of the grace of The Lord, we are lost and evil overtakes us and sucks the life right out of us until we are no more than piles of bones amidst the dusty remains of our former selves. Only the grace of Our Lord can reassemble our spirit and breathe the breath of his grace back into us, making us whole.

Anyway, there are more verses to this chapter than 1, and the description from verses one through ten is just pure fun. Continuing with verse two, Ezekiel continues describing what he sees in this valley full of bones, as the Lord has him walk amongst those remains. Verse three finds the Lord asking Ezekiel a rhetorical question and then tells him to prophesy to this very odd crowd, explaining to him what to say. When Ezekiel begins to prophesy, the weirdly fun portion of the chapter come leaping at us as the whitened, dried bones begin to physically react to the prophecy of the Lord culminating in them coming to life after the Lord breathed life into them, creating a massive army. Suddenly, the chapter does an about face as the Lord explains the meaning of the chapter through his prophet Ezekiel starting in verse 11: Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ (NKJV) and continuing through the rest of the chapter. A good summary can be had from verses 21 and 22: “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; “and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. (NKJV). If we reflect on the history of Israel as the Holy Spirit has given us, we know that the nation went from the leadership of Moses and Joshua and then went through several regional judges until their first king Saul, then on to kings David and Solomon. After Solomon they had a civil war and the kingdom split and the people eventually were killed or taken into captivity. Therefore, what Ezekiel is quoting is future events and end-time prophecy that is still to come. OK, to continue.

Isaiah 11:11 It shall come to pass in that day [That] the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. (NKJV) reiterates the same thing; that The Lord is not finished with Israel and even though they disobey and take idiocy to operatic levels as has been proven by their history1, The Lord has punished but still loves his first chosen children.

We within the Christian community in this gentile era need to get over our “look at us…we have Christ and are so special and you had your chance and screwed up” mass ego trip that many denominations hammer at from their pulpits Sunday after Sunday and realize that we are, at best, an opening act while the real performers warm up in the wings. At the worst we are a traveling side show that the Lord gracious has allowed to perform…lets hope we don’t get booed off the stage, regardless which we turn out to be.

God Bless, Jim
1-30-20

1 I’m not Israel bashing, if you look at our compressed history compared to their few thousand years, we are extremely more stupid than they.

“You wander down the lane and far away, leaving me with a song that will not die…”

                                                                                                                            Nat King Cole

In one of those chance encounters that can happen so unexpectedly in a person’s life, I saw her, my childhood friend and companion of so many years ago. I spotted her immediately as she entered the hallway just a few feet in front of me. I don’t really know why, but I desperately wanted to rush up to her and announce my presence…but I couldn’t. I’m not sure if simple shyness or fear of a cold reception held me back, but whatever the reason, I found myself silently walking along behind her, fearful of approaching. For reasons unknown, she suddenly stopped and turned around and my fears and uncertainties instantly disappeared in a flash as she walked toward me, a smile blossoming across her face.

“Ricky, it’s so good to see you!” she gushed as she unabashedly threw her arms around me, “how have you been? It has been so long.” I despise the name Ricky, having worn it throughout my childhood, but somehow, coming from her it sounded sweet and natural and fitting. We continued to hug like the long-lost friends we were and it lasted for a moment and an eternity and felt amazingly nice. I found myself not wanting to let go but people were beginning to stare, so I reluctantly let go.

I felt the same closeness and affection toward her as I did when we were children. In fact, some of my earliest childhood memories were created with her as we spent many of our formative years together. We sat next to each other in church and also at school, we played together, sang together, discovered the world together and cried together. We  had developed a bond that I have rarely felt with anyone since.

Eventually though, the inevitable happened. At the end of our third grade school year she moved away. I was totally distraught and it seemed like my world was collapsing about me. I still recall the overwhelming sadness I felt the day she left. Life moved on and I moved on with it and even though the emptiness and grief waned, I never quite forgot her.

Thirty years have passed and as we sat and talked, I perceived and experienced the same bond I had felt as a child. It suddenly seemed like only yesterday we were hopping and bouncing on her pogo stick, or playing with stuffed animals or discovering new things and treasures within our yards or walking together to her grandfather’s store to share candy or a coke. I’m not sure whether she felt the same sensations or not, but I suspect she did by the smile on her face as we spoke. Eventually we parted, promising to keep in touch.

This evening as I pause from catching up on work, I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if she had not moved away all those years ago. I know her life would probably radically different that it is now. She is a successful teacher and mother, happily married to a well respected physician. I am very grateful that I had the chance encounter to meet the grown-up version of my closest childhood companion and I am jubilant she has the wonderful life she has been blessed with. A person can never really know what extreme and considerable differences small changes could have made in our lives. However, as I sit here in the gloaming of the evening twilight, I still wonder though, what it would have been like if she had never moved away.

For Darlene

1996  written under the pseudonym, Richard Corey