Steve Jobs

Does a man really die when the world we live in is defined by his work?

The bondi blue iMac, white headphones, that original 5GB iPod, the iPhone.

1234; black turtlenecks and blue jeans; glass stairs and the Apple Store look; put the lowercase “i” in front of any word and an Apple lawyer will be at your door in a flash. A computer without a floppy drive or a CD. Hell, computers without keyboards.

Apple made innovation art under Steve Jobs. He showed us the way, now we can lead, create, innovate on our own. But we should start that tomorrow.

Tonight we mourn.

RIP Steve.

Remembering Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a person of a specific time and place. From little Michael to Billy Jean  billie-jean-jackson_lMichael – there is probably no one else that I associate with the late 70’s to the mid 80’s than Michael. Right now MTV is running Michael Jackson videos all night long as if to say “thank you, because without you, we don’t exist.” If he didn’t invent MTV, he certainly made it viable.

I grew up listening to the music of the Jackson 5 and then the music of Michael Jackson. I remember hearing “Ben” on the radio when I was a child. Off the Wall came out when I was in middle school, and nothing seemed bigger than that – until Thriller was released. When I hear people say they’re not fans – I don’t think they realize that in that day and age, there wasn’t a choice. I’m sure even the punks looked at him perform the moonwalk and wondered how. Some things you don’t love or hate – they simply are a part of the fabric. This was Michael Jackson.

I know that in recent years Michael grew more eccentric and the allegations of child molestation forever took the gloss off of his image, but that doesn’t take away from what he did as an entertainer. His contributions are just too great for that.

I’m still shocked at today’s news, but I’m not surprised it happened – if that makes sense. Michael old-michael-jacksonwas my generation’s Elvis, and as such we probably should have expected that we would leave too early. The decent into the Michael of the past few years only serves as to provide a stark comparison to what he once was. And just like Elvis, they will be playing his music for generations.

Thank you Michael for providing a soundtrack for my childhood.

70’s era Phillies take another hit: Danny Ozark RIP

Danny OzarkThis has been a tough year for Phillies fans that grew up in the 70’s as I did.  First Harry Kalas and now Danny Ozark.  Ozark was not as beloved as Kalas – he managed the Phils for 7 years and never made the World Series, but without him, the Phillies don’t win the series in 1980. Those teams he had in the 70’s were fun to watch – Cash, Bowa, Maddox, Schmidt, Luzinski, Carlton, Johnstone, McGraw, among others.

No he didn’t win the series, but he set the stage and was part of the most successful stretch in history for the Phillies – from 1976-1983.

Ozark is survived by his wife, Ginny, two children and three grandchildren.

R.I.P.: My Thirties

Yesterday was my 40th birthday and unlike a lot of people, it doesn’t bother.   It does however present an opportunity to look back on the last ten years.

  • Met the girl of my dreams and got married
  • Visited Ireland, leaving North America for the first time (once more than Sarah Palin)
  • Visited 20 states
  • Concerts of note: Radiohead in NYC one month before 9/11, U2 in NYC one month after 9/11, the Pixies reunion tour, Throwing Muses in San Francisco, Prince 9 rows from the stage, Elvis Costello the night I proposed
  • Never more disappointed in our government than in the days after Katrina
  • Never sadder than in the days after 9/11
  • Had a niece and a nephew born
  • Saw the first viable minority Presidential candidates
  • Had dinner with Michael Penn
  • Met Aimee Mann a couple times – the second time, she approached me and said “Hey, I know you”
  • Favorite album: Elliot Smith’s Figure 8
  • Favorite movie: Ocean’s 11
  • Favorite TV show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Saw no championships from my favorite teams
  • Favorite drink at 30: Canadian Club and ginger ale with lime
  • Favorite drink at 40: Gin (Tangaray 10) and tonic
  • Went from Friendster, to Myspace, to Facebook.   What’s next?
  • Went on my first real one week vacation
  • Lived in two apartments
  • Bought my first home
  • Favorite moment: on the park bench after our wedding ceromony
  • Lived in Conshohocken, PA for all 10 years
  • Opened the summer in Outer Banks for 5 years
  • Saw my nephew graduate college
  • Saw my friends have 13 children
  • Spent 10 years doing the same job for 4 different companies – the longest tenure was 3 years and 9 months
  • Didn’t vote for a winning President (so I was right)
  • Had my optimism in government restored by Barack Obama
  • Owned or leased 4 cars
  • Started 2 blogs
  • Had my heart broken for the first and second (and last) times
  • Count ’em: 4 iPods and 4 Macs
  • My debt went up, then down, back up again, now back down
  • My weight did the exact opposite
  • Adopted two cats

Seems like a pretty eventful, life changing decade of my life – and I’m looking forward to the next 10 years.

My remembering Stevie Ray Vaughan

If I had had a blog on August 27, 1990, I probably would have written something at that time. There wasn’t even a real internet back then, so you’ll have to forgive the lateness of this post.

These days I mostly listen to rock music. I’m more likely to listen to indie acts like The Pixies or Spoon, but growing up listening mostly to 70’s and 80’s R&B – the road to listening to what I do now was a little circuitous. In the 80’s I had a few “gateway” artists that ambled me down this road: The Police, Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, and Crowded House to name a few; artists that would be acceptable to my more R&B focused ear, but that were definitely different. In the late 80’s while in college I discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan – and bought everything he had released in a two-month stretch. Probably started with “In Step” and then quickly got everything else, which wasn’t a lot. While I had heard Eric Clapton and Robert Cray, SRV was my first true blues artist. He hadn’t “crossed over”. Often cited as one of the all-time great guitarists, I had never heard anything like him.

To this day I remember hearing he had died by first hearing WMMR playing 2 or 3 of his songs in a row, and then Pierre Robert coming on the air with the horrible news. To this day if I hear an artist on the radio played for more than a couple songs in a row, I get chills. I had only been listening to SRV for 9 months at the time, and he had been a constant companion on the train to work and school, so it was insanely personal – the first celebrity I followed to pass away too soon; I’ve gotten too used to this now with both Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley also passing away too soon. An alcoholic that had turned his life around (which he wrote about from both ends of the struggle), it seemed so unfair; I was crushed.

Over the years there have been far more SRV albums released after his death than during (only four studio CDs). I’ve purchased only three of these, and they’re all musts – In the Beginning (an early live recording), The Sky is Crying (must have collection of b-sides and rarities that has some of my favorite SRV songs on it), and Family Style (an album that he recorded with his brother Jimmie Vaughan that was released a month or so after his death). A man that toured all the time and that did a lot of guest work, there is a lot of stuff out there, most of it superfluous.

Stevie Ray has pretty much disappeared from my listening. iPods will do that to you – limiting you to what’s on your computer, I hadn’t ripped any of his CDs, and so they sat in my attic unloved until this week. Nissan recently did a commercial using one of his great songs “Pride & Joy” and I finally decided to rip those CDs. He’s as good as I remembered. Doesn’t really fit in with what I listen to now – but there is something so unassuming and straightforward about his work; it was satisfying to listen to everything while cleaning this past Friday (of course playing air guitar and singing along). If you’re interested, I put together an iMix of what I’ve listed as the best Stevie Ray Vaughan songs.

(The image below will open in iTunes. )icon