Thursday, August 20, 2009

My thoughts on health care....

This was a response to a facebook status update by a friend, basically agreeing with his thoughts

First, I think that we should have a single payer system. On the other hand, I have no illusion that that is currently politically possible.

I personally (and I say this respectfully, because I'm sure you mean well) don't understand the logic of folks who say that the government can't be trusted to accomplish the oversight of a reasonable health care system. As an example, look at the subject of schooling -- only the most far out of the mainstream person would think that we shouldn't have schools for everyone. No, they may not all be first rate, some may be poorly run, but what's the alternative - that only the rich people get educated?

Plus, you can still pay for private school if you want and have the resources.

Another example - suppose every one of us is responsible for the little piece of road in front of our house? Won't work. The government (state, local or national - depending on the road) HAS to do it.

The same people who support our keeping a standing army run by the government trot out this notion that the government can't do anything when they want to obstruct change. Why don't we all get some guns individually, and then we'll meet up in the town square when someone invades? Even John Boehner doesn't think that (note to John: lighten up on the spray tanning product, fella.)

We need the government, when things aren't working in government, we need to improve them by voting, protesting etc., but government is a reality.

Also, those who say they don't want the government between them and their doctors are forgetting that for-profit companies ARE, with far more insidious results.

People who talk about waits? I have a three month wait for my dentist NOW, and I have no insurance.

These companies at the very least need to be regulated. These companies are screwing you, and me. It's just that simple. If I had a terminal disease, they wouldn't even give me the privilege of screwing me, because of my pre-existing condition.

So if you have a problem with existing legislation, great, what's your idea? If you can offer a better idea you have my undivided attention, but if your comment is the general 'government can't be trusted' - you know, because they can't be trusted - that's not a solution, that's obstruction.

Finally, my feeling is imperfect legislation is better than nothing, we need to move the pendulum in the right direction even if we can't create perfection the first time around.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stop ragging on Woodstock.....



Dear Mr. Tyrangiel,

I'm stuck by a comment you made in the article in Time Magazine "Woodstock: How Does It Sound 40 Years Later?"

You said: "To have not been alive during Woodstock, we're told, was to have missed the freest moment in American history.

Boomers do this regularly, of course — make up stuff about how great they are. They're also eager consumers of goods that jog the memory of their greatness."

I am enough struck by your cluelessness that I felt compelled to write. You might be surprised to hear that I wasn't presently engaged in "making up stuff about how great I was". You'd be right to assert (as your article does without directly stating) that nostalgia is indeed a sort of prism, and some of the light it yields is amplified truth, and other light is not refracted at all. It stands to reason that one might encounter or experience an exaggerated sense of justice or purpose in the events of 40 years ago, and in doing so look past the foibles.

My observation to your thoughts is this: in my humble view, pretty much every comment you make in this section of the article, really exhibits a value system existing your personal core beliefs that completely misses the point -- of the event, of the music, and to a certain extent - of life. I'd have more success explaining music to the Taliban.

If I were to try to explain it to that Taliban person, it would to say how music - at its best - uplifts the human spirit, and brings us closer to our essence, emotionally and spiritually.

On a more brass tacks level, I could refute some of your musical judgement, by mentioning - for one example - that contrary to your view, Richie Havens performance is far more polished in terms of intonation, than CSNY's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes". To get into that point by point is to wallow in mud I have no interest in being in. The thing that they both have, which seems to be missed by your assessment is the passion by which they are delivered, and they both score highly in that regard for me.

The summary is that the values extant in your viewpoint ultimately exploit different capital than those of the Woodstock generation. Try this on for size: money's good but it's not everything, singing in tune is good, but it's not everything.

The real important stuff is elsewhere...

...but no matter -- I'll bet you have (in a metaphorical sense if not in actuality) autotune installed and hard at work on your computer as we speak....

Welcome to 2009!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Vessel....

I've been thinking a lot, with all the celebrity deaths we've experienced lately, about this vessel we travel in during our time on this earth. It is so resilient -- but paradoxically it's so fragile too.

Michael Jackson went (seemingly) stunningly fast, but Farrah Fawcett held on until she literally couldn't perceive life/people/events around her. Her struggle, as related by the people around her (I watched a TV show about it) was SO brutal. Lots of love for her, but OH the lingering!

My own mother's story seems like an amalgam, a sudden setback, but then a lot of suffering. I don't know about you, but I saw myself and my mortality in my mother, the coming story to be repeated.

In addition the Farrah story reminds me of my neighbor Regina's struggle (again with cancer). I spent a lot of time with Regina in the final months. More than anyone else except paid nurses, I think.

Each an unimaginably deep loss, for friends, family, the unique person inside their aging vessel.

I've also been thinking about other people (in addition to mom and Regina) who aren't lucky enough to get the attention of the world when their time comes. Darfur, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan...not to mention the endless parade of cancer sufferers, accident victims, etc.The world is FILLED with these stories.

That's why I wish CNN would get the super duper Michael Jackson headline off their site and go back to covering the news. Michael's gone, whether or not we know every little detail the minute it's knowable. Yes it is news, and he obviously suffered in ways that most of us would never understand, being in a fishbowl for life, but the good that journalism can do is not manifested in this endless prurient obsession with every detail of this.

For a loving and insightful tribute to Jackson, see what the amazing Deepak Chopra has written.

Let's play his music (link included mostly because of the dancing), and make other music instead.

Then I look at my nephew's kid (the pictures on vacation at the beach), whose body looks so much like mine did when I was 8, and then I look at myself in the mirror, and I'm struck by the changes in the vessel.

Which reveals the most unforgiving part of all...time ticking away, no time outs...

For now, time to go ... I usually end these posts with a joke.

This time...I got nothin'.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chorus from PS 22 in Staten Island...

I found this video through the twitter universe (via Aston Kutcher), and wanted to share it. It shows a lot about why music is so important in our lives, and how cool NYC can be.

The passion and joy on these kid's faces tells the whole story:

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I'm on facebook (like who isn't?), and tonight I'm noticing all these status updates by these women friends I have, mentioning names that I don't recognize, and in googling then I realize we're talking about prizefighters.

I'm not sure why it's the women, I thought only men were stupid enough to follow this...(oh no I DIDN'T!!)

Of course the status updates have follow up comments "I can't believe how fast so-and-so was", "I thought it would go more rounds" etc.

Am I the only person who thinks people shouldn't be fighting each other for sport? We don't let consenting adults have duels with pistols anymore, why should we let them fight with fists?

I mean, wrestling is one thing, athletic competition is fine, but hitting?

I don't go for it. There -- I said it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Andy and Reed go to Jimmy Fallon, show #1...

The other day Andy and I went to see the studio taping first ever episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

The show was taped on Monday March 2nd at 5:30 PM and aired at 12:35 am later that night. Good buddy Andy Brick is a pulsating-head-style musical genius, who also happens to be a good friend and all around good egg. Rare combination of qualities!

I think Andy was surprised by how much he enjoyed the festivities. I told him later it felt like I was "leading him to slaughter" but he warmed up to it quite nicely.

Self portrait waiting in line before the show:

The house band is called "The Roots". I thought I would hate them, but they are really pretty good. They played a long set to start off before the show. Man was it loud!! I should know one thing...if Simon likes a band, bring your ear plugs!

Here we are in the crowd, top left (click to enlarge):

Guests were Robert Deniro, Justin Timberlake, and Van Morrison. There were uneven bits, but they're just getting their footing, so let's give them a break for now. One thing called "Lick it for $10, where they gave audience members a $10 bill to lick something (looked promising at first but fizzled), Also a "clip" of a "movie" that Deniro and Fallon "did together" was a little lame, but kudos to Deniro for being a good sport.

The good bit was called "Slow Jammin' the news", a bit with Fallon in camera foreground talking about current events and the Roots in background with the singer commenting on the news bits with a sexy funk undertone. Too hard to explain here, but definitely funny.

As you'd expect, Deniro was very shy in an almost threatening way (Jimmy made him come off well), Timberlake was extremely charming, and Van Morrison was shaky. He's got a great voice, but I didn't love the song, and the sound was not great.

I think the coolest part - and I love all these tapings, but this was unique - was to see the people behind the scenes so excited. For one Loren Michaels was there hanging out sidestage, and there were a lot of exec looking people who were thumbs upping each another, so as if to say "We got a show here!"

We'll see if it flies...

On The Net:

Andy's place
episode 1 of Jimmy Fallon

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Robert hits it out of the park!!!...

Tonight I went to see a film at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) [love the rotating sign]:

The film was called:Peter Matthiessen: No Boundaries
Wed, Feb 18 at 7:30pm

(2009) 56min
*Q&A and booksigning with Peter Matthiessen and filmmaker Jeff Sewald -- World Premiere
Produced, written, and directed by Jeff Sewald

But it wasn't just any film, my buddy Robert Weinstein composed the amazing original score. Here I am with the distinguished composer:

It's a film about an amazing writer named Peter Matthiessen. He is a prolific artist who has written both fiction and non-fiction. He is also a very committed activist, who has a lot of integrity, and puts himself on the line championing causes in a fearless way.

Robert talks with director Jeff Sewald at the reception:

Robert's music team:

Left to Right - Paul Butler: Woodwind master -- John Marshall: Percussion extraordinaire-- Unknown -- Composer/guitarist: Robert Weinstein

Robert and Good buddy Von Robinson:

A look back at the hall as I head back for Manhattan:

It was a truly special evening. Robert's music was perfect for the film, and certainly works on it's own as well. I felt this was an ideal project for him. He's a man who always waters the roots, in music and in life.

I owe a great debt of thanks to Robert for so warmly introducing me to his friends and colleagues, and being so supportive about my work in the process. It's a really good group. I could feel their generosity and support, even though they haven't heard a note of what I'm doing.

These last few years I've really had a feeling of joy in the community of musicians I now have around me, who have been so wildly supportive and trusting of me. Andy, Murray, Robert, and many relationships have grown with all these people, who are amazingly talented. Being a musician ain't easy...unless you've got this kind of support!

For many years I dealt with folks who were more aloof, and now the tide has completely changed.

... and yes, I always harp on I head back to the city in the subway train I just thought again of how blessed I am to live in this whacky town. From the comfortable hall of BAM's famous opera house, I descend into the subway for a long ride sitting next to a woman preaching apocalyptic religious views to the whole train. She's screaming at the top of her lungs: "You're all sinners" "The end is near", etc. No one paid any attention!! People sitting with their earbuds in, two friends discussing a show they had seen, a guy playing a game on his phone...everyone's oblivious. I love it. In the sticks, everybody would be freaked, there'd be swarming cops...

What a show!

NYers are special people - even the nuts. The funny thing is, they don't even know it...

I did also have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Matthiessen for a second, but I was so lost for what to say that I actually made _him_ nervous!

But no matter -- A good night in all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Late Night...9 shows left before the end of an era...

Yesterday Tom Bolling and I went to see a taping of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien".

See the episode here

Screen cap from the monologue, Tuesday February 10th 2009:

It's so 'New York' to go to these live tapings, see the teenieness of the studios (which don't seem at all teenie on TV), and the professional-ness of the way it all goes down. Very inspiring.

Also it's being in the presence of history to be there in 30 Rock (the main building at Rockerfeller Center).

The musical guest was Levon Helm. Real treat. He's getting along in years, but his musical style makes it suit him. Respectfully, I can't imagine Brittany Spears singing "Oops I did it again" at age 68. "The Weight" is better now somehow. He had an onstage band of 14. Very pleasant surprise.

They make the show very funny and welcoming. Letterman tapings are more perfunctory and unpleasant. I'm not sure I'd want to go back to Letterman. There are only 8 more tapings of Conan's show as of today. He heads out to LA to do the tonight show after this.

I go to Jon Stewart a lot as well.

Below are some pictures of our outing:

Tom in the Cab on the way up:

Tom in front of 30 Rock:

Self Portrait, near the ice rink having some food:

Leaving the show after the taping: