Needless Loss of Life

To quote from our above clip’s accompanying text… as it appeared over at YouTube…

Stephen Colbert and Jon Batiste offer their condolences and discuss the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan.

My condolences, too.

Admittedly, as neither an avid sports fan / team follower nor a seasoned air traveler, up until I viewed this vid, earlier today, I hadn’t really been paying this foggy weather related tragedy all the attention it is due.

The discourse between Batiste and Colbert thoughtfully addresses the grief of the families, friends and fans. Anyone who has ever experienced the loss of someone near and dear… regardless of the circumstances… can relate… will feel the tug on the heartstrings.

Also noteworthy is Colbert’s appeal to the National Transportation Safety Board… i.e., urging the NTSB to make “black box” flight recorders mandatory equipment aboard helicopters. The data from such devices could make for more flight-worthy aircraft, and ultimately, that would save lives.

True, my own travels, as a commercial airline passenger, to date, have involved only a couple of Michigan to California trips. But, factoring in how my very first flight, ever (at the age of 49), involved a foul weather experience, I believe I have an inkling as to what may’ve been going through the minds of Bryant and the other passengers during their final moments of life.

My basic game plan had been to attend a family reunion of two (following the recent death of our family matriarch). I also had some high hopes that, by vacation’s end, I’d be able to [1] get my mourning into perspective, [2] elevate my mood, [3] better accept that “life goes on” sentiment and [4] reestablish some ‘live each day to the fullest” determination.

However, it was during my return flight that I began to wonder if the home I was heading for would be Earthly or Heavenly. Mechanical difficulties had delayed, by three hours, our departure from the Golden State. We did eventually hightail it back to the Great Lakes State, but, by that late afternoon, clashing cold and warm fronts had produced severe thunderstorms.

In the air, that meant major turbulence, which not only, inwardly, unnerved me but appeared to have a similar effect on our (supposedly) unflappable flight attendants (one of them nearly losing her footing and getting floored. On the ground, unsafe wind velocities of 129kph / 80mph had closed down the control tower and necessitated our hour long holding pattern… as well as an unscheduled, diversion to Pittsburgh to refuel.

Yet, oddly enough, throughout, I did experience solace on multiple levels. From a purely practical standpoint, prior to takeoff, I had caught a brief glimpse of our pilot who appeared to be a confidence elevating veteran. From a philosophical perspective, were I to perish in a crash, it’d have been following my fun in the sun, California, celebration of life. Even on the spiritual plane, I was fully covered. I’d be testing my “wings” to soar upward from the mangled wreckage to attend yet another… albeit otherworldly… family reunion.

Obviously… I did luck out and survive. Now, if only each member of the entire Kobe Bryant entourage could say the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mere Coincidence? Or Did Jon Batiste Read My Blog?

 

Yesterday, I posted a blog at 11:10 a.m. My topic: Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 / Funeral March. The “angle” I had chosen to explain my suddenly renewed interest in this Classical masterpiece tapped both into my DJ roots and deeply rooted, post Inauguration Day ‘17 blues, blahs and disgust.

I then blogged onward to mention how NPR’s All Things Considered reportage of All Things Trumpian has been depressing me… to the point where I found myself seated at and slumped over my piano last week… cradling my head in my crossed over forearms.

Ironically, it had taken an NPR aired, prattling, Donny Downer soundbite to snap me out of my funk. In a split second, I sat up, took notice and took back my life. How so?

I had limbered up my 10 fingers to play the first 11 notes of Chopin’s Funeral March. In essence, I had riffed a musical op-ed piece to refute and marginalize Donny Downer. After I played that soundbite / bitesized dirge, I actually found myself chuckling! But laughter? Why laughter I wondered?

To elaborate, I’ve paraphrased the following passage from yesterday’s post.

Subconsciously, I’d been channeling the schtick of my newest keyboard hero… Jon Batiste. For the benefit of my international readers, I’ll briefly mention that he’s frontman for Stay Human… Stephan Colbert’s Late Show house band. During many a show opening, Colbert monologue, Batiste’s keyboard comedic timing is just as flawless and funny as the wisecracking Colbert’s routine. The genius of both of these super-talents truly compliments one another. True, I’ve yet to hear Batiste play this Chopin riff… but it would not surprise me were he to… someday… do so.

Well… imagine my jaw dropping, “Oh Wow” surprise… and my LOL reaction… when that SOMEDAY turned out to be LAST NIGHT!

At approximately 11:38 p.m.… over 12 hours AFTER my 11:10 a.m. blog post time… there Colbert was… cracking a Marylin Monroe themed Trump joke… inspiring Mr. Batiste to ACTUALLY play that Chopin Funeral March riff! This musically enhanced joke starts around the 1:40 point of this clip.

So… are we talking pure coincidence or had Mr. Batiste read and been inspired my Chopin blog? Any of my “tags”… especially – Late Show – Stephen Colbert – Jon Batiste – Stay Human… could’ve made the merger of our two worlds more than mere happenstance.

OR maybe this event transcends the tags? True when it comes down to the existence of miracles, there are plenty of naysayers. While I am spiritually inclined, in this case, even I would tend go the Doubting Thomas / mere coincidence route. Yet, what would account for my waking up this a.m. with a lingering grin? Seeing how I’ve been suffering a bad case of the blahs and the blues… such a smile… in itself… is nothing short of miraculous.

 

 

Could this be the Perfect Song for Imperfect Times?

As a virtual DJ on the www, I’m here to plug the perfect song for our imperfect times… Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2! This catchy little ditty (a.k.a. the Funeral March) does have crossover appeal, too! It could be a Billboard EZ Listening chart topper! A night-clubber’s let’s fall in love, dance floor fave! The ultimate sports arena, pregame tune that’ll get fans off their asses and standing to salute the flag… AND MORE!

By now, some of you may be asking…

“Hey, hold your horses Mr. DJ, don’t they already play that ‘oh-say-can-you-see’ thingie?”

So true! So true! BUT… if all goes wrong… we’ll soon be needing to replace the Star Spangled Banner. Hey, don’t blame me, it’s not my fault. I voted for Hillary! So, just who should we point the (middle) finger at?

Well, in case you haven’t kept up with the front page news, Bad Vlad Putin and You-Know-Who’s Helsinki Summit is now one week off! You’ve just gotta know… or at least suspect… that this is the venue where they’ll be colluding to finalize their wretched plot to overthrow America… to bump off and bury Lady Liberty.

Hence, the all too real need for Chopin’s Funeral March. What better tune to play once that Russian puppeteer and his puppet… once that Russian ventriloquist and his dummy deep-six America.

Now, don’t look so glum… maybe we can even persuade pianist Sir Elton John to play at Lady Libby’s memorial service? Of course, from that point forward… no… strike that… from that point backward… long sigh… it’ll all be downhill.

But hey… let’s turn our frowns upside down! This is where the crossover appeal aspects to Piano Sonata No. 2 really start to kick in… full force! Considering this dirge’s Putinesque, dreary, Dark Ages, dystopian “feel”, it could easily catch on as the new national anthem for The-Nation-Formerly-Known-As-America!

Of course, wherever / whenever this dirge winds up getting played… be it on your home or workplace device… be it spun by some nightclub disk-jockey… be it blasting over a sports arena’s loudspeakers… be it tracking out on the late Lady Libby’s graveside boombox… this tune is practically screaming out for some lyrics.

I mean… doncha think it’d be kinda-sorta lazy and lame… at times even insensitive… to just hum or whistle along? Even orchestrating this with a kazoo and/or harmonica section could never do it full justice! And let’s not forget that Sir Elton is the consummate vocalist, too!

Perhaps some of you WordPress wordsmiths, poets and songwriters… who are able channel the spirit of Francis Scott Key… could step up to home plate? Yes? No? Maybe?

I can almost hear you objecting…

“Hey man… this is YOUR premise! Why should you make US do all the heavy lifting? Compose your own damned lyrics!”

Uh… so sorry. I’ve become so geeked about this track, I momentarily failed to realize how unfair of me it would be to put you on the spot like that… and on such short notice, too! Hell I cannot even offer you any monetary compensation!

I can almost hear you asking…

“Why are you making such a fuss over an 1840 Chopin composition?”

Well, here’s why. Now, while I’d never blame the messenger, NPR’s All Things Considered… it’s the Trumpian messages / stories, which they have little choice but to report, which have been rendering me disgusted, disconsolate and disillusioned. So much so, that one afternoon, this past week, I just had to sit down. My piano bench being handy, I parked my butt there. Slumping over in woe-is-me mode, I cradled my head in my crossed over forearms… just in time to hear the fake prez’s soundbite featuring his gleeful outburst / announcement of his intent to “rob the judicial cradle”… i.e., just to ensure his handpicked wretched SCOTUS judge’s decisions could lay waste to my homeland for the next 40 to 50 years!

Now, be your “political party hat” hued blue, red or purple, to smell such extreme partisanship stench anywhere near the Supreme Court bench should disgust you! The mere notion of that sure as hell disgusts me!

Shortly thereafter, once my nauseous feelings subsided a bit, something totally unexpected happened. My limp body shot upright into a sitting position. The heat from the brightly glowing, metaphorical lightbulb hovering over my noggin was almost palpable. The voice in my head was now offering up what I believed to be a brilliant suggestion.

“Hey Tom, what this endless barrage of bad news is sorely lacking is you coming up with a clever way to marginalize it.”

Free association (and the fact that I was already seated at my piano) did the rest. I then brainstormed along the following lines. “Hmmm… how about an editorial comment / musical statement… to reflect your mood? Naturally, it’d have to be loaded with minor chords! But, what oh what should I play? As I positioned my ten fingers on my piano keyboard… EUREKA… in a flash, Chopin came to mind. I’d transform Piano Sonata No. 2‘s first eleven notes into a riff. By the time NPR aired (out) the next DC disaster, I played that dirge and actually found myself chuckling! But laughter? Why laughter I wondered?

I then realized that, subconsciously, I’d been channeling the schtick of my newest keyboard hero… Jon Batiste. For the benefit of my international readers, I’ll briefly mention that Batiste is frontman for Stay Human… Stephan Colbert’s Late Show house band. During many a show opening Colbert monologue, Batiste’s keyboard comedic timing is just as flawless and funny as the wisecracking Colbert’s routine. Both the scripted and improvisational performances… indeed the genius… of both of these super-talents truly compliments one another. True, I’ve yet to hear Batiste play this Chopin riff… but it would not surprise me were he to… someday… do so. Additionally, I do plan to continue my own musical accompaniment of the bad news stories which are sure to follow… as the days drag on and On and ON!

Suffice to say, I’ve only partially explained away my chuckling. But, the following two quotations might help complete this layperson’s introspective, psychoanalysis… as well as complete this post…

Said Erma Bombeck

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

Said John Lennon and Paul McCartney in a lyrical couplet…

“And though the news was rather sad. Well I just had to laugh.”

Folks… I’m only human. There’s no telling how a steady diet of head-on pain, tragedy, hurt and sad news will impact this caring soul… impact any caring soul. Now… more than ever before…maintaining my / our sense of humor is a literal life or death matter. Forgive me for permitting my sarcasm and gallows humor to kick in. In venting both in this post I can only hope I’ve prevented my body and/or sanity from kicking off.