Many Moons Ago ~ A July Lunar BlogCast

PREFACE: For this BlogCast, playing back these two YouTube clips simultaneously allows Neil Armstrong to become an astronaut / DJ doing the talk-over intro to the Police track, Walking on the Moon.
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On Sunday, July 20, 1969 at 10:56 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Neil Armstrong became the first (known) human to ever set foot on the Moon… and moments later, Buzz Aldrin joined him to become the second.

This “giant leap for (hu)mankind” had been the attainment of John F. Kennedy’s goal… that young visionary giant’s dream fulfilled… AND the culmination of a team effort involving an estimated 400,000 engineers, scientists and technicians… many of them having taken their President’s message to heart.

My own memories of this night center on the combined sense of heartfelt awe, thrills, and yes, even a bit of national pride… heady emotions, which managed to shadow me wherever I wound up. And there had been an abundance of brilliant light to create those shadows… be that the Apollo 11 crew’s beamed back to Earth lunar “Reality Show” (accompanied by CBS journalist / anchorman Walter Cronkite’s own play-by-play) OR during my own repetitious “small step” ventures into the great outdoors to naked-eye gaze upward at the waxing crescent phased Moon… lazily arcing SE to SW across Michigan’s after dark skies.

This past half century has not diminished my own wonderment one iota. I only wish that all who, alongside me, had eye-witnessed this event of the millennium could say the same… and that we… who never lost that rush… had better communicated our feelings to posterity.

Humankind needs an Apollo magnitude sense of accomplishment to transcend the daily drill. If for no other reason, that does keeps us out of trouble. But there really is one far greater reason, too. Without such adventure, humanity risks being reduced to droids… maybe even the Borg magnitude drones that inhabit Sci-Fi’s Star Trek universe.

 

 

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One Giant Leap

 

9:32 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. That’s this day’s official blog posting time. This also precisely synchronizes with that 50 yester-years ago moment in time when the Apollo 11 Saturn-V, 1st stage, 5 Rocketdyne F-1 engines (literally) roared to life to send astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins soaring upward and into the annals of human history… their ultimate date with destiny… The Moon / Sunday, July 20, 1969.

At that meticulously mapped and scheduled space / time, Armstrong would become the first (known) human to ever set foot on the surface of another world… which had been an apogee moment / a dream fulfilled… the dream of the bold, think big, visionary: President John F. Kennedy.

Armstrong’s Tranquility Base moonwalk would begin by precisely aligning his words and deeds to take his “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Regrettably, a scant three years later, small-minded and tightfisted naysayers deemed space exploration a monumental waste of time and assets… money better spent on solving our earthly problems.

Such hastily fired off, retrorocket rationale does beg the question on this auspicious day in human history…

Just what did we actually gain from the NIxonian decision to pull the plug on NASA’s manned space program? Has not that same small mindedness and tightfistedness severely crippled virtually every attempt at working towards the betterment of our society / world?

True, the Space Shuttle program did usher in a new era of human space exploration… but… that was in low Earth orbit. Our astronauts were restricted to literally running around in circles.

The same can be said about earthbound problem solvers who lack that “one giant leap” type of thinking. Seeing how our worldly woes have yet to be effectively dealt with, would you not agree this has been a half century long waste of time and money?

 

 

 

Try DownPlaying This

The Beatles’ 1964 Stateside Tour involving their February 7th arrival in NYC (at the newly christened JFK International Airport) and appearance on Ed Sullivan’s nationally televised variety show (on the 9th) could not have been better timed.

Americans, still in deep mourning following the 11/22/1963 assassination of our youngest, ever, 35th President… John F. Kennedy… desperately needed a reminder that life could go on.

To all horrified by that grotesque gun violence… especially this (then) 9-year-young boy and my contemporaries… John, Paul, George and Ringo were the embodiment of youthful exuberance. While their prime-time TV debut showcased their unique interpretation of rock ’n’ roll… one eventually becoming the soundtrack of life for an entire generation… something even more significant was in play… namely… how their raucous energy / high decibel music was the perfect Rx for blowing away that lingering, pervasive, suffocating, Dealey Plaza stench.

So… why the need to rehash this nearly 56-year-old tragedy?

Because of the swamp monster, who has been masquerading as the 45th president. Even though he is alive and (physically) well… well…

Ever since the orderly transition of power to that disorderly doofus, We… America’s critical thinkers… have been mourning the 01/20/2017 death of the presidency… the death of democracy, decency, intellectualism, logic, liberty, peace and genuine patriotism… the death of joy, itself.

From that day forward… uh… better make that backward… We have been in deep mourning… in desperate need of a lifeline. But, where to go to find that?

My reader(s)… just when I had begun to suspect those DC Washington Woes had indelibly stained my mood… my entire outlook on life… a deep shade of blue… somehow… someway… on some entirely different plane of consciousness… I wound up free associating the power of music… its stain remover / curative capabilities. Lo and behold, the Fab Four came to mind.

True, I could not step into a time machine to re-witness the birth of the Beatles. But, the next best, equivalent was well within reach… my access to CDs representing JPGR’s entire, recording studio produced discography.

Last week… I decided to PB that massive, Beatles soundtrack in chronological order. No sooner had Sir Paul’s 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 counted in I Saw Her Standing There than I felt my much needed grin begin… followed, a scant nanosecond later, by my buoyant mood… those lofty spirits persisting while tracking (at a clip of one or more CDs per day) until I polished off all 13 Beatles albums plus the two Past Masters volumes. And there were a couple of bonus tracks, too… namely… Free as a Bird and Real Love (McCartney, Harrison and Starr’s 1995 collaboration / overdub of their tracks with the late Lennon’s two previously recorded vocal tracks).

Even upon completion of my musical adventure last Friday, I could still revel in the fact that this was far from over. Hence, my spending the better portion of this week listening to these bonus Beatles albums… [1] Star-Club Live! in Hamburg, Germany 1962, [2] Live at the BBC, [3] Yellow Submarine Songtrack, [4] 1! [5] Let It Be Naked / Fly on the Wall and [6] LOVE.

My parting recommendation… should you ever find yourself feeling down about anything, try taking your fave recording artist / band out for a spin. Once that smile returns to your face, I’m sure you’ll concur that the healing power of music can never be downplayed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiësto… A Contemporary Toscanini?

INTRO… Either playback the above vid as you read along or save it for the end to compare it to two traditional versions.

In the music biz, radio airplay can be instrumental to a song’s rise in popularity. Such was the case way back in 1938, when the baton of Arturo Toscanini… the NBC network’s conductor… first brought Samuel Barber’s 1936 classical music masterpiece… Adagio For Strings… to the attention of a goodly portion of our global community.

Ever since, Barber’s strings have become tightly interwoven into the fabric of humanity… mainly because this musical swell has become the Go-To track for mourners. This well-crafted sequence of notes has been heard following the demise of eminent leaders (e.g. Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy), floating amidst the still settling dust of communal tragedies (e.g. 9/11… 2016’s Brussels bombing… 2016’s Orlando, Florida Pulse nightclub massacre)… and whenever our losses literally hit home / involve close family and friends.

I can personally attest to how Mr. Barber’s musical staff… akin to a supportive walking stick… had kept me on my feet… twice walked me through the darkest days of my own mourning process. My description of this twostep phenomenon goes like this. First, his orchestral commiseration helps us cope. Next, just knowing he’s counselled a long line of survivors before us, does offer us hope… i.e., if they could bravely go onward with their lives, so can we.

I’ve dubbed this therapeutic process, “The Adagio For Strings Experience.” End of story?

NOPE, not when a high tech, latter-day Toscanini… DJ Tiësto… has emerged to eagerly accept the inter-generational passage of the (figurative) baton… not when this mix-master has taken “The Adagio For Strings Experience” to a novel, higher astral plane… best described as contemporized, synthesized, beat driven and dance club ready.

Say what? Yep, I can practically hear classical music purists’ group gasp / groan … hear their protestations…

  1. CLASSICAL MUSIC WITH A GOOD BEAT THAT’S EZ TO DANCE TO?
  2. AN ADAGIO?
  3. WOULD SUCH A MASH-UP EVEN BE WORTH LISTENING TO?

Stunningly… the answers to that trio of Qs is YES! YES!! YES!!!

Admittedly, upon first ear-witnessing Tiësto’s mix, I could not help but wonder…

Is our world really ready for such a radical departure from the musical norm?

Well… almost instantaneously… I answered that Q with another Q…

Is not our world facing down its own radical departure from the sociological / political norm?

Even without factoring in the disheartening specifics… the long litany of specific societal ills, which the unwise powers-that-be have inflicted upon us… which typically, disproportionately target / devastate commoners (like me)… how can we not conclude that both fair-minded leadership and civility, itself, are all but dead? Under such glum circumstances, who amongst our decent, worldly citizens would not wind up in deep mourning… in dire need of “The Adagio For Strings Experience”?

More to the point… since the younger generation has so much more to lose than those of us who, at present, have far more days behind us than ahead… they need Barber’s counseling even more. We must consider their hitting the dance floor to Tiesto’s beat akin to group counseling… musical motivational training… their rallying anthem.

Now… I fully realize that DJ Tiesto’s interpretation may not be everyone’s cup of tea… as it were… so… keeping the classical music purist in mind… I’m also including…

 

Adagio For Strings ~ Conductor Arturo Toscanini (NBC World Premiere)

Adagio For Strings ~ Conductor Leonard Slatki (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)

 

 

 

“Apollo 8, you are Go for TLI!”

On this day, 50 years ago, at 7:51 AM EST, a Saturn V rocket blasted off from Florida… from the Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A… thereby sending America’s Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, and William A. Anders into Earth orbit. Upon completing a subsequent, 2 1/2 hour long, methodical checklist to confirm all systems go, Capcom (Capsule communicator) Michael Collins radioed the astronauts thusly…

“Apollo 8, you are Go for TLI.”
(TLI = Translunar Injection)

With each passing minute and mile during this three day / quarter of a million mile mission, these three brave men were taking the type of giant leap, which the late President John F. Kennedy had committed America to… i.e., they were further laying the groundwork for a lunar landing by the end of the 60s decade.

True, both the US / USSR space programs had started out as a thinly veiled extension of the coldhearted cold war… i.e, fierce international competition to simultaneously determine which superpower could reach the Moon first and thereby establish nuclear ICBM superiority.

However… American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts… also, unintentionally wound up transcending most politicians’ foolhardy posturing and knuckle-headed, knuckle dragging narrow-mindedness.

Indeed, as these missions literally soared into space, so did the human spirit. Our successes glowingly illustrating our innovativeness and resolve. Even our failures (inclusive of the death of astronauts / cosmonauts) heightened our awareness of the preciousness of life. The most telling aspect, by far, so far, was that for a fleeting moment in the annals of history we had become a unified people.

A couple of prime examples of this unification are rooted deeply within this very historical Apollo 8 flight… the Christmas Eve, Moon to Earth audio / video transmission of Borman, Lovell and Anders reading from the Book of Genesis while focusing their camera on lunar landscape images passing beneath them and [2] Anders’ eye opening, soul searching snapshot… what was to be later titled Earthrise.

While one half century’s worth of waning moon phases could never cause any waning of my own sense of unity… well… regrettably… not enough of us… who lived vicariously through our astronauts’ successes… remain.

As for those of us who have either forgotten or were born since that era… well… too many educators… restricted to George W. Bush, teach to the test, tactics… have not been able to adequately convey this feeling to energize young minds… well… that is… if/when NASA’s outer space glory days / achievements are even covered in the first place.

Indeed… what would any such “child left behind” ever know about any of that?

I’m not saying that our survival as a species, necessarily, wholly, depends upon America reviving its space program. What I am saying is that my homeland… indeed nations spanning our globe… must aspire to something greater… something more positive… oh… say… utilizing our scientific know-how to clean up our environment… to conquer discrimination, intellectual / nutritional starvation and other such human suffering.

 

Could #MeToo Have Called Out JFK Too?

 

#MeToo’s exposure of predatory males has been providing society a long overdue, much needed and invaluable wakeup call. For raising our awareness, we must extend our commendation, compassion and recognition to all the victims… as well as remind anyone, who has yet to speak up, to never suffer in silence.

While the high profile predators, typically, have been grabbing much of the media headlines, we must never forget that underreported, lesser knowns also employ the the exact, same sexual harassment, abuse and assault MO… indeed, such deplorable conduct spans and spoils workplace environments everywhere.

While it’s been disconcerting… at times painful… to witness once-upon-a-time respectable men being stripped of their sheep’s clothing veneer… see their lives and livelihoods in crash and burn mode… we must NEVER FORGET they have no one to blame but themselves… and they fully deserve society’s justifiable wrath. The #MeToo movement is absolutely correct to demand that blame be affixed where it truly belongs… upon the guilty predators and NEVER upon their totally innocent prey.

Of course, if we ever hope to cure society of such ills, our work has only begun. Parents must learn to raise their daughters to never take any predatory crap from anyone! Parents must learn to raise their sons to behave more respectfully and sensitively… not only within our workplaces but everywhere else, too.

More to the point, males must become fully aware of what a vile hormone testosterone can be… how… left unchecked… it can prod the weak-willed to go on a totally unacceptable and uncivilized biochemical rampage.

Let’s now expose the H-Word… Hypocrisy.

In my past posts… I’ve mentioned two males we / I used to admire… accused actor George Takei and the now convicted comedian / actor Bill Cosby. What makes such blogging especially difficult and distressing is how both talented guys used to be positive role models. Of course, big and small screen celebrity must never act as a smokescreen defense for inexcusable behavior. Moreover, even when they do wind up uttering their regrets this should be met with our skepticism. Are they truly sorry or merely sorry about having been caught?

Deconstructing this further, historically speaking, it’s already been a tough enough task to convince the narrow-minded not to judge entire demographics based solely upon the behavior of few bad actors. But, now that the malignancy of Takei and Cosby has tarnished the images of countless others, respectively, the vast majority of benevolent LGBTQs and racial minorities, the task of enlightening homophobes / xenophobes has become doubly (if not more) difficult. Doubtlessly, such predatory conduct can only (unjustifiably) perpetuate, their flimsy, eons old, negative stereotypes.

To avoid the stench of hypocrisy in all of my posts… I cannot continue to call out sexually predatory conduct (in general) and (more specifically) the present-day, so-called prez’s self-admitted misogyny and alleged infidelity until I turn my back on a past president who I’ve idolized since I was a young boy… one John F. Kennedy.

Misogynistic society has oft employed euphemistic terminology… e.g., dalliances and womanizing… to describe / downplay / romanticize JFK’s conduct. Romanticize? YIKES!!! Even had the sex been fully consensual, how could anyone ever deem it acceptable? One must never rationalize / dismiss the emotional abuse, pain and distress he must’ve inflicted upon his wife, Jacqueline. Even if an on-the-rocks marriage had been no fault of his own, a considerate man would’ve patiently awaited the official divorce decree.

To reemphasize and expand upon my earlier statement… celebrity… even martyrdom… cannot and must NEVER excuse caddish behavior.

Furthermore, were we to ever scrutinize / dig deeper into JFK’s life, times and untimely death… how could we ever say, with any certainty, that his surviving family members hadn’t used the considerable Kennedy wealth to commission and handsomely pay off some ugly history revisionists? For all we know, the Warren Commission, investigating the events of Friday, November 22, 1963, had gotten it all completely wrong.

Perhaps, the so-called, lone gunman in Dallas, Texas, in reality, had been the pissed off husband / boyfriend of one of JFK’s conquests?

Considering the testosterone poisoning, which fuels the typical satyr’s MO, perhaps the conspiracy theorists have, all along, been spot on with their contention that the lone gunman had plenty of armed company… i.e., plenty of other PO’d husbands / boyfriends had been figuratively and literally gunning for JFK?

 

 

My Childhood Innocence Was Shot To Hell!

 

The following is an excerpt from my very first WordPress blog*… my memories of 54 November 22nds ago… when… as a (then) 9-year-young boy… a horrific, blood splattered, national tragedy forced me to eyewitness too much age inappropriate content… to grow up way too soon.

 

I voted for John F. Kennedy when I was ONLY six-years-old!

Well… uh… sort of. Here’s what had actually happened…

After Mom had closed the voting booth curtains, hoisted me up to adult eye level and demonstrated how everything worked, she actually let me shift JFK’s lever down! My having done something so grown-up on Election Day 1960 had been a feel good, defining moment in my young life.

As I grew physically, so did my understanding of (and respect for) the immense leverage, which each of those tiny levers can exert in shaping our nation and world. Tragically, not everyone opts in to such a civilized, orderly process. Such was the case on November 22, 1963…

It had been a gray, overcast, rainy Friday. There had been no school for Sis and me (due to parent / teacher conferences). I was just finishing lunch when my sibling came rushing into the dining room. Still clutching her pocket-sized transistor radio, she blurted out…

“Somebody Shot President Kennedy!”

Mom, Sis and I quickly adjourned to the living room. Even before our Zenith TV’s B&W picture tube had fully warmed up, we could already hear one of CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite’s earliest bulletins.

As time came grinding down to a dead halt we felt ourselves rapidly descending into the depths of our nation’s communal shock. There was little else we could do… save for waiting and hoping that our worst fears would not be confirmed. But…

The bad news just kept on spilling forth from our nation’s TV screens while Kennedy’s dream for the betterment of our national / global society, was hemorrhaging forth from his head wounds… dying along with this great man.

Eventually, Cronkite had to choke back his own overwhelming sorrow as he reported…

“From Dallas, Texas… the flash apparently official… President Kennedy died at 1 p.m., Central Standard Time… 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time… some thirty-eight minutes ago.”

And that’s the way it was… the feel rotten, defining moment in my young life. The President I had “voted” for three short Novembers earlier had been blown away. Bullets… not ballots… had removed John Fitzgerald Kennedy from office and shot to hell my childhood innocence.

 

 

Assassin’s (perhaps assassins’) bullets had also irreparably devastated our entire global society. We can only speculate what the alternate timeline would’ve been… what our present day world would now look like had JFK opted to stay in DC 54 years ago, today… had kept a low profile for the remainder of his time in the Oval Office (he likely would’ve won a second term).

I do think it fair to conclude that had the voters witnessed what a real president’s policy and demeanor should be… had JFK been able to usher into reality his visions for a better world and better day… our electorate would’ve NEVER, EVER settled for any of his deplorable, dishonorable, stick-figure successors… namely…

The psychotic, “used car dealer”, war-hawk Tricky Dicky Nixon… the labor union busters, devastators of the middle class Ronny Reagan and George H.W. (daddy) Bush… the war criminal / torture chamber manager George W. Bush who on 9/11, first, got caught with his CIC pants down  and, next, went on a rampage to fear monger Americans into granting him carte blanche… to recklessly trash U.S. Constitutional freedoms and needlessly, pointlessly war monger his way into no-win invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq… to stupidly allow himself to be morphed into the ventriloquist dummy / puppet of his own VP; the evil, greedy, sociopathic, war criminal Dick Cheney.

And saving the worst of the very worst for the very last, real Americans would’ve booed and hissed the xenophobic, homophobic, narcissistic, misogynistic, jingoistic, materialistic, infantile, senile, bullying #45 right off the stump.

Well… long sad sigh… to borrow and update Walter Cronkite’s sign-off catchphrase…

 

And that’s the way it is November 22, 2017.

 

 

If you’re a fan of sci-fi twinged, episodic TV… writer J. Neil Schulman’s “what if JFK had survived Dallas” themed alternate reality gets brought to life by the cast and crew of the classic TV series, Twilight Zone… this particular installment titled: Profile In Silver

 

 

*My debut blog, A Tale of Two Timelines Part I, is filed away in my Archive. For those who’d like to access it, click onto March 2016 and scroll down… way down.