Good-bye Marty

My friend Brian’s dad died last Tuesday. I have known both of them for almost 40 years. Martin/Marty and his wife Joan had a home that kids liked to hang out at. They treated me like family from the beginning. It was a comfortable place.

Marty had a joy for life. He was always encouraging us to be doing something, a board game — Mr. President was Brian’s favorite — playing ping pong, badminton in the back yard or tennis to name a few. He was inquisitive about what was going on in our lives without being nosy.  In my adult years, he  and Joan opened their home to me for Passover for several years when I had no place to go for the second Seder. It was always a treat for me.

He was smart, a PhD Organic Chemist, he was active in his two children’s lives, he loved life and always tried to give something back. He was one of the nicest men that walked the planet.

Late in life he had Alzheimer’s but as both Brian and his sister Shelly said at the service, this did not destroy his essence. His funeral was well attended even on one of the coldest days of the year. The people that come to pay their respects and the things that are said about you are the true measure of a person. Marty was a Mensch.

We miss you.

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Music Soothed This Savage Traveler

Two one day trips in a row. Ugghh. Yesterday Detroit and back. Today NYC. Left at 5:30 am and back home at 9:30 pm.

One saving grace was remembering to bring my iPod today. It made the 3.5 hours on the plane tonight bearable.

I frequently forget how much I enjoy listening to music especially for extended periods. Married life and fatherhood added so much to my schedule that listening to music got lost. And listening while doing other things is not nearly the same. I  do listen while on 2-3 hour bike rides, while driving or doing errands. But making time when you can really focus on the sounds is a very different experience.

My taste in music is broad. Included is the rock and roll I grew up with in the ’60s and early ’70s, some traditional country, swing, just a little bit of classical, lots of Sinatra and jazz — though not “smooth” jazz which is synthesized and pureed into something unrecognizable as music. It is for the one step from comatose crowd. I appreciate jazz in which the individual notes or harmonies are clear and clean. Sinatra is a category unto himself. I have a collection from when he was recording at Capital. Often, I find the orchestrations too forceful and brassy and his voice is not as  strong or smooth as his earlier recordings but the man has something. He swings and drips testosterone. For some reason I find this appealing.

My favorite pieces have high levels of musicality. While I appreciate good lyrics I am more touched by the sounds of  the instruments as well as the sounds of the singer’s voice and the word. A very few examples include Van Morrison’s Moondance, So What from Mile Davis’ extraordinary Kind of Blue album, Still Doin’ time sung by George Jones (do not miss the steel guitar at the very beginning) and most of Bill Evan’s work. If you check out these songs, I insist that you listen to them on a good sound system. At least something better than standard iPod headphones.

One of my favorite pre – wife dates was a concert by Van Morrison when he was promoting his bluesy Too Long in Exile album. (Actually the woman ended up being nothing special but they were her tickets.) At one point among some typical Van sing with several backup singers and a large band playing he had wind chimes playing. The delicateness of those notes mixing in with all the other sounds was spiritual.

On the other hand, for pure fun you can’t beat Elvis or the ever comical Steve Goodman.

So much great music, so little time.