It’s the five couples who spent a glorious (pre-Hurricane Ian) week at the Outer Banks, courtesy of the dude who is fourth from the left, Vinnie, and his wife Janine (to the right of Vinnie).
The “boys” in this photo — if you’ll indulge me for a moment and allow me to use the term “boys” for guys who are pushing 60 — met at college 40 years ago. D2, LJ, Thin Man, Ricky C and Donger (16 Candles reference). We’re all over the map now – Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Annapolis, West Palm. But we all managed to carve out a week together at the beach. And it was glorious. The weather was perfect, but the weather was inconsequential. It was about reconnecting, recollecting, laughing, dancing like the fools we are.
Got a glimmer in his eye, seems to say, “This is what I’ll miss after I die
And this is what I’ll miss about being alive…
Vinnie has offered up his vacation place nearly every September for the past dozen or so years, but there were few takers. Too many responsibilities, too many kids’ practices, not enough time. But this year was different. Most of us are empty nesters now, or pretty darn close. That’s part of the equation. The other part is realizing that time and tide wait for no man. Some of our peers from college have already passed away. Our good friend Ned had a stroke. Our buddy Art was scheduled to be on this OBX trip, but he had to have emergency surgery two weeks before.
Now time’s the undefeated, the heavyweight champ
Laughing in his face, as he dance likе Sugar Ray
Used to be “c’mon c’mon” but now “no mas, no mas”
The older we get, the more we treasure our time together. Pushing back against the tide may be a fool’s errand, but we’re just the fools for the job.
I like weird music. Well, “weird” to most people. Certainly the bands I love are well outside the mainstream. I’m good with that.
Because my tastes tend toward the obscure, most of the live concerts I attend have a small-but-mighty crowd. (I’ve been to gigs where the people on stage outnumbered the audience.)
Believe it or not, there are other folks who share my musical tastes. You start noticing the same faces at shows. And for a long stretch in the late 90s and early 2000s, it seemed like every show I went to — especially singer-songwriters shows– I’d see the same older dude with a ponytail. The Venn diagram of our musical tastes overlapped significantly.
So I finally introduced myself to him, and every show after that, we’d compare notes on new albums we liked and upcoming shows on our radar. His name was Bob Gregory (I called him “Hippie Bob”), and he taught photography at Sycamore High School in suburban Cincinnati for decades before retiring to a life of going to sparsely-attended shows and being bothered by some music nerd (c’est moi!). He was a sweet dude, soft-spoken, funny, and kind.
The last time I saw Hippie Bob at a concert, several years ago, he was having some health issues and wasn’t able to attend as many shows as he’d like to.
I’m now at the age where I follow the Carl Reiner morning ritual:
“Every morning before having breakfast, I pick up my newspaper, get the obituary section, and see if I’m listed. If I’m not, I’ll have my breakfast.”.
Last Sunday I read that Hippie Bob had passed away earlier this month at the age of 82.
We weren’t exactly buddies. Just kindred spirits. But I always enjoyed catching up with Hippie Bob. The world could use more people like him, not fewer. R.I.P. my music friend.
Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. (As usual, your ol’ pal Dubbatrubba is a day late and a dollar short… actually make that a day late and $10 million in “dark money” short, because corporations are people too!)
Make no mistake, there are folks who are trying to make it tougher and tougher for you to vote. Especially if you’re poor, or car-less, or disabled. Some of those folks are elected officials. Voting them right out of office will be extra satisfying.
Yes, the cards are stacked against you — gerrymandering is at an all-time high. (“If you can’t beat ’em, crack, pack and stack ’em” seems to be the official motto.) But don’t let them win by not voting.
Exercise is good for you.
Exercising your right to vote is good for the future of democracy.
When I was six, I wanted to be an astronaut. I mean, what boy didn’t during the height of the space race?
By the time I was 10, the dream had changed from outer space to airwaves: I wanted to be on the radio. Playing music. Cracking jokes. Writing theater-of-the-mind skits. Doing goofy character voices.
It’s why I majored in Communications (with a concentration in Radio/TV) in college. It’s why I took an entry level job scheduling the commercials at a crappy AM station (R.I.P. “all oldies, all the time, 1230 AM WDJO”) – because it was a “foot in the door.”
It’s why I worked weekend overnight shifts at a country station, where my assigned on-air name was “Cincinnati Redd” and I played music I didn’t really like in the wee small hours – because it was a chance to get some experience.
It’s why I made the hour-long drive from Cincinnati to Oxford, Ohio on the weekends, to play music I did like for an even smaller audience. It’s why I came back to that station a few years later, and worked the overnight shift, making less than minimum wage – because I was chasing the dream.
It’s why I left an on-air gig at the station in Oxford to be an errand boy at a group of stations in Cincinnati… because it too was a “foot in the door.” I wound up working for a radio legend, Gary Burbank, on a 50,000-watt clear channel station, on a show that was syndicated to dozens of other stations around the country . Cracking jokes. Writing theater-of-the-mind skits. Doing goofy character voices. The dream came true. But it happened 10 years too late.
This 60-second snippet from a great podcast called The Memory Palace sums up why the dream died:
When the corporations took over the mom and pop stations, they sucked all the fun out of it. And they killed a lot of dreams.
I still miss radio – but really I miss the idea of radio… radio as it was once, not radio as it is. Sure, there are podcasts, and there’s Spotify. It’s not the same. Never will be. Radio was ethereal… and that made it magical.
Please listen to the entire The Memory Palace episode from 2017. It’s a brilliant tribute to a lost station, and a loss of innocence. There are clear parallels to 97X, the station where I worked in Oxford, Ohio… which was bought out by a corporation and now is a Spanish language station.
The entire series is well-worth a listen – you’ll find all of The Memory Palace episodes here. Host Nate DiMeo has a gift for audio storytelling, and for uncovering hidden gems from history.
“The Memory Palace podcast is among the most potent pieces of audio being produced today; the show’s short tales are so emotionally concentrated that, upon listening, they bloom in the space between one’s ears, like a single drop of dye propagating through an entire glass of water. Nate DiMeo, the show’s sole creative force, often seems to be operating on a level wholly separate from that of other podcasts”