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Prog Rockers Defy Age

 

Last weekend was the twelfth and final prog-rock festival Nearfest, held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I caught the first night featuring Manchester’s Van der Graff Generator and Peter Hammill.

Van der Graff sound like a pre-Genesis power trio primarily fueled by two keyboardists (although Hammill’s guitar work is solid).

The sold-out festival was comprised of mostly balding men in their 50’s and 60’s. They rifled through vinyl in the merchandise room like it was the 70’s. And there was Roger Dean, signing prints of his famous YES covers.

I went with some friends who have their own prog rock band in the Bay Area. They’re working with the drummer of the Swedish band Anglagard, one of the more hippier acts to appear here. Anglagard was selling its new CD for $22 and people were lining up to buy it.

Aranus, a Belgium band, also played the night I was there. Technically flawless, however, for me, it had no heart; but my friends felt differently. “I got goose pimples,” one said.

There was no way I could sit through three days and nights of progressive rock, but it certainly was an enjoyable experience and I’m glad I went.… Read the rest


Batter Up

 

Saturday night we took my girlfriend’s kids to see the Bridgeport Bluefish, a nearby minor league team. It was Scout Night and after the game there had fireworks and then we camped in the outfield.

It was a cool and blustery night, but that didn’t stop the kids from running around well past midnight.

We had to be out of there by 7 a.m. Sunday morning, Father’s Day.

Several parents said happy father’s day to me and I wished them a good day too – I’m 53 and it’s the first time anyone has wished me a Happy Father’s Day. It felt strange, but if you’re hanging out with the Boy Scouts you’re either a parent or a perv—best to be mistaken for a parent than the latter.

Afterward, I took Mary and her two boys to a diner for breakfast.

At some point the little one said, “Sometimes people think you’re my Dad.”

“Sometimes people think you’re my Dad,” I volleyed back.

He smiled and dug into his pancakes.… Read the rest


To Drink or Not to Drink — Who Makes the decision?

Everybody knows big sugary drinks make big, unhealthy people. But do we need government mandating soda sizes?

Why shouldn’t ‘We the People’ have the freedom to choose SuperSize?

Nobody wants to be obese. Most people don’t want to die young either. So why do we make such unhealthy choices?

I’m all for freedom of choice, but marketers use advanced tools to maximize the impact of advertising and packaging. The days of Don Draper working up late-night creative based on intuition is long gone. Everything is tested and retested using advanced monitoring devices to determine heart rate, pupil dilation, breathing. Nothing is left to chance.

Is it any wonder people act against their best interest, defying health warnings as if they’re Zombies?

Although I prefer government to stay out of such matters, the People are at a disadvantage.
Marketers are always one step ahead: product placement in TV and Film, sponsoring our favorite musical and sporting events, even supporting our favorite charities—and each expenditure is quantified, evaluated and refined to maximize impact on our behavior.

Michael Bloomberg knows this better than anyone and he has certainly benefited from such corporate success, but he also realizes a fat, sick population is a … Read the rest


The Have-Nots Are Down to Their Last Not

The train into Manhattan was ten minutes late the other day and to my surprise, a few people started talking. This was noteworthy because these people take the same train every day at the same time and stand in the same place each morning and sit roughly in the same area, and yet conversation is rare.
Perhaps because the weather was warm and there was nothing else to do, a few commiserated over how poor the Metro North service has become.

One gentleman, dressed in a custom-tailored Italian suit said, “Metro North has the money to fix these lines, but all the money goes to pensions. They’ve got to break those contracts.”

I’m sure rail workers have fabulous pensions and benefits, but it’s difficult work and dangerous: every couple of years someone dies on those tracks. When I think of Metro North issues, pensions don’t jump out as the reason for old trains, rickety tracks and delays. But no doubt pensions are a problem for lots of public operations, including Metro North.

I was tempted to jump in as these banker types bemoaned the wealth of these working folks, as if they were making millions illegally through insider trading. What … Read the rest