Fanfare for the Common (________ please fill in the blank)

 

Headline Options: male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these.

 

Throughout the United States and Canada, today is Labor Day. Spanning our world, we find a similar holiday… International Workers’ Day… which folks, typically, celebrate each May 1st.

Regardless of when / if we celebrate… Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man is appropriate music for this post.

Why a song about the common man?

Well… seeing how the wealthy get unduly mollycoddled, yearlong, that’s why I felt it vital to counteract this with a selection that’s working poor / middle class specific on Labor Day.

But, is not that song title simply, too damned sexist?

Yep, yer damned tootin’ it is! But, Copland did compose his masterpiece way back in the far more sexist days of 1942. I mean, what more could we expect… WELL… uh… other than his having scored (scored with) an empowering / rallying of the human spirit anthem. Hmm… all in all… not a bad trade off, right?

Anyway, this is why I now dedicate two versions of Fanfare… the symphonic blog topper AND rocked up blog ender… to the world of industrious, uncommon commoners. And let’s make no mistake about it… we are UNCOMMON in every positive connotation of that word. Be our status active worker, semiretired or retired… the vast majority of us know fully well what it’s like to toil away at low paying, bereft of benefits jobs… and far worse yet… oft while tirelessly offering our loyalty to unappreciative, tyrannical bosses.

GRANTED… the well heeled, high financiers do clutch (too tightly) at the purse-strings linked to commerce / job creation.

HOWEVER… were it not for the workers of the world, who REALLY DO MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN… the big biz high and mighty would, literally, be chowing down on their figurative dough… bread… LETTUCE!

On this Labor Day… be they our past or present bosses… to suitably honor the suits / remind ourselves of OUR importance… let’s offer up a rather nontraditional toast.

Before digging into our picnic / dining room table salad bowls, let’s hoist our salad dressing bottles / cruets skyward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Twinkle Twinkle Mega Star

Fancy experiencing a high tech, virtual encounter with a musical prodigy… courtesy of Al Gorithm and Otto Play… my humanizing nicknames for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm and autoplay tech.

Well, that’s precisely what had happened, recently, while viewing keyboardist extraordinaire Keith Emerson… best known for his legendary live and recorded performances with the rock ensemble ELP… an acronym representing the surnames of keyboardist Emerson, guitarist / vocalist Greg Lake and percussionist Carl Palmer.

On that fateful Friday evening, I had wandered off while this triumvirate was rapidly heading for yet another of their masterpiece concluding crescendos. It was while meandering back through the dimly lit corridor, that I could already hear the next video featuring a key, keyboard selection from yet another ELP classic… The Endless Enigma.

Imagine my jaw dropping, “Oh Wow” mouthed speechlessness upon re-seating myself at my computer and discovering that [1] Emerson was seated nowhere near his stock in trade, spectacular keyboard array and [2] this note for note perfection was being accomplished by a heretofore, unknown to me, keyboard virtuoso, Ms. Rachel Flowers…

Seeing this confident young woman’s nimble fingers so skillfully spanning the entire keyboard was as if she’d been possessed… in the very best of ways… by the spirit of the recently passed away Emerson…who just happens to be a hero of hers (and mine, too).

Imagine my teary eyed response upon later learning that Ms. Flowers had overcome some of life’s toughest challenges.

Those difficulties get backdated to December 21, 1993, the day she had made her grand entrance into our world… 15 weeks early and weighing a scant 0.595 kgs / 1 lb 5 oz. Then, 3 months later, yet another medical complication arose… Retinopathy of Prematurity… which denied Rachel her eyesight.

Her parents Dan and Jeanie did all they could to encourage their daughter to stay positive and make the most of her life. Her mom even introduced her (then) 2-year-old girl to the joys of music… seated her at their piano to teach her how to play her very first song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Rachel picked up on the melody quite quickly. Soon, her pitch perfect ear allowed her to recreate whatever songs she fancied. A keyboard star was born… and on the rise.

By age 4 1/2… younger than a kindergartner… Rachel began her formal training at Southern California Conservatory of Music where her studies included piano, music theory, ear training, music history, Braille music code, and adaptive computer music applications. [My thanks to Wikipedia for supplying Rachel’s biographical info]

And the rest… as they say… is Her-story. She’s accomplished so much in life that the easiest ways for us to learn more about her music, life and times is to type in her name to initiate both Internet and YouTube searches. BTW, do plan on finding veritable hours worth of inspirational reading and listening enjoyment.

The Rachel Flowers Story is all about the indomitable human spirit and living life to the fullest. She is the embodiment of those qualities. For proof, one look no further than seeing her ear to ear grin and jumping for joy while seated on the piano bench at the conclusion of many of her performances. Such reactions are as integral to her piano recitals as the music itself! Her happiness is our happiness!

One shudders upon the realization that, had she been born in an earlier era, she’d have been denied her chance at beating the nearly overwhelming medical odds… that we’d have been denied being eye and ear witnesses to the musical genius of Rachel Flowers… The Personification of Joy.

I cannot imagine a better way to wrap up this post than for us to express our appreciation…

Bravo Rachel! Encore! Encore! Encore!

 

 

 

A Black Friday Gift That Keeps On Giving

 

Today being the official, traditional launch of the December holidays gift giving season, it was while playing back a CD and preparing my breakfast this early a.m. that I found my thoughts fondly flashing back to my own, all-time fave, “Black Friday” shopping experience.

It was on this very day, back in 1973, that my father and I had been shopping at a locally owned appliance store… one which was just beginning to branch out into audio / video gear. We had momentarily gone off in different directions… little doubt… catching my ear was a progressive rock FM station’s broadcast blasting forth a Track from the (then) newest Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) LP.

My eyes eventually caught up with my ears and they instantly widened upon spotting the Fisher™ 180 receiver connected to ElectroVoice™ model-13 speakers and a Garrard™ 40B turntable. My own Sears™ turntable having died mere days earlier (coincidentally while playing a two years older ELP Track), I recognized this sound system to be an audiophile’s dream come true.

At that moment, the only sound that could’ve possibly brought me back down to earth was my dad’s own voice. Seeing how I was already familiar with the reliability / durability of these manufacturers’ products, before any sales associate had even approached us, I was already delivering my own sales pitch.

My father… [1] knowing that his community college attending son was working towards his broadcast arts degree… [2] understanding how vital it was for me to stay connected to the radio and music industry… and [3] agreeing that this high quality, hi-tech had a low price tag attached… well… he knew he had found his gift to me. Even better… seeing how I had already seen it… he didn’t even make me wait until Christmas morn to “unwrap it”.

And while the Garrard™ turntable had eventually proven to be the most vulnerable to the ravages of old age… the amplification of my morning, wake-up music… on this very day (45 years later!)… was courtesy of my father… courtesy of that vintage, very same Fisher™ receiver… still the driving force behind those ElectoVoice™ tweeters and woofers!

And while my dad lived on only fifteen years beyond his Christmas ’73 present to me… my feeling of connection transcends the tech… transcends time.

Indeed, there is that connection to Christmases past… that genetic connection, too… for, dad’s gift just keeps on giving!

 

 

Footprints in the Snow

Just before the ’17 winter solstice, I had set forth on one of my early a.m. power walks, which upon arrival at my favorite park, typically transitions into a more contemplative, leisurely stroll.

On this particular occasion, it soon became evident that while we homeowners do a good job clearing snow from the public walkways we’re responsible for, the DPW does not always shovel those they’re required to maintain.

Judging from the neglected, snow-covered condition of that park’s asphalt paths, I presumed that some austerity program adopted by our city fathers had either furloughed some of their snow removal crews or had assigned them to less frequent work-shifts.

Looking glumly at the sorry state of affairs, I soon found myself wishing I had worn my boots instead of athletic footwear. My options were now limited to two. Either walk gingerly to prevent snow from collecting inside my shoes or do an about face and head for home. Since I normally slow my pace in this setting, anyway, I figured I’d be OK with cautiously staying the course.

As I soldiered onward, all the sudden, I spotted a trail of fresh footprints, ahead. My lucky day! Executing a slight course change and matching the previous park visitor’s stride, I had found that third option. In other words, my following in the footsteps of an anonymous, out of sight trailblazer had saved the day.

It was afterwards, on the return home leg of my fitness walk that I sensed something much deeper than those actual footprints in the snow. True, my observations are hardly anything unique and groundbreaking. But, upon factoring in how, our increasingly “What’s in it for me, Me, ME” driven society needs an attitude readjustment in that regard, my following “deep” thoughts are worthy of mention. Let’s refer to them as…

 

A Refreshing Refresher Course

  • In humankind’s walk through life, we are following in the tried and true footsteps of others who came before us. It’s that intergenerational continuity from where we learn what worked for our forebearers and what didn’t. In other words, if we watch where we are / where they were going, they’ll save us from repeating their mistakes… and, if nothing else… that’s a great time saver.
  • It’s our slowing down, thinking on our feet and… when appropriate… accepting someone else’s fresh, course of action (e.g. our following those footprints) that can work wonders whenever we’re trying to work through some unanticipated, problematic situation.
  • More importantly, regardless of our “shoe size” / our station in life, at any given moment anyone with a good idea has equal footing.
  • We humans are helping one another even when we don’t realize it. And that says much about each individual’s importance. Of course, this doesn’t even take into account how much better life can get when we do consciously cooperate / work well with each other. Words such as “offering a helping hand” and “walking hand in hand” do come to mind… that latter phrase possibly even adding the dimension of love into the equation of life.
  • Seeing how the person who had walked in the snow before I had, wore a smaller shoe size, as I enlarged that original trail of footprints, I may’ve even made life easier for the next person to follow in my footsteps. And maybe, someday, some newly arriving person (with even bigger feet) will do the same!
  • It’s safe to say that the spirit of human kindness and cooperation can have a snowballing effect…and that improves the quality of everyone’s life.

 

In spite of how those footprints in the snow had helped me, I do know they best serve us as a metaphor. Were that not the case, with the arrival of the warmer months everything would soon melt away and we’d lose our way. We’d then have to depend on the next snowfall to regain our bearings (and with global warming snow days could become rare).

That means we must take great care to heed the wisdom of our past and present, actual, venerated trailblazers… many of them brilliant scientists, who are ignorantly ridiculed by the present DC regime. After all, it takes trailblazers to hurdle political speed-bumps and roadblocks… to help us stay the correct course upon humanity’s path to survival.