Tuesday, August 14, 2018

To Dream the Old Guys (and Gals) Impossible Dream

     This has only very little to do with music...except for the radio part.
As I gain in age and loose in common sense, I have become baffled by my dreams.
I mean when I dream now, why do I go back in time and punch in a time-clock at Vutek (now EFI Ink Solutions) and seem to work a normal day shipping, receiving and packing mega inkjet printers?

     I also was a QA technician for the same company and, as I dream, I slave over digital micrometers, calipers, steel rules, electric gauges and all kinds of precision crap that I thought I had left behind years ago.
     Of course in my dreams all the testing equipment becomes rather vague. Some of the calipers become bits of broken plastic, tree limbs, lumps of clay and rocks.  The same for shipping and receiving.
     Instead of building and assembling giant wooden crates for 2o x 8 x 10 foot - 1500 pound ink jet printers,  I find my self building cardboard shoebox filled with assorted dark objects which look vaguely like bituminus coal.
     I worked in local radio as a dj for ten years or so some fifty very odd years ago. And I still dream of going on the air at the last minute without any records.....any copy....any commercials and panicking.
     When I do get some records they are boxes of broken toys and crushed plastic.  (There's something about 'plastic' that keeps showing up....what does that mean,  Frank H.?)
      If you are retired, do you still dream of where you used to work?
     I do...and I also dream I have forgotten where I parked my car and some how forgotten where I'm supposed to meet my wife when we go shopping and getting lost in a city........
     Actually that happend yesterday.


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Life in the Music Lane - Driving an 'Opus'

 Have you ever seen "Mr. Hollands Opus"?   You know. The movie starring Richard Dreyfus  as a contemporary high school music teacher-band director? If you haven't its OK. But try and bring it up on Netflix or rent it someplace. Its a thoughtful story, episodic in nature about the life of Mr. Every-man Music Guy; his wife, his children, his working journey as an instructor of music, a mentor of the ever darting slippery minds of high-schoolers...male and female...with their problems, their joys and fears and their hormones run a muck.
     I like this movie - charming in its seeming simplicity and I think of my kids band-music teacher at Interlakes High School here in Meredith; a small but robust town in the center of the state.
     Steve Bush is retired now, like myself, but we pass each other in the Facebook hallway every now and then. I admire him for many reasons - his infinite patience most of the time (although I heard from the Locke grapevine there were moments of frustration and broken pencils trying to get the kids  attention, something those who have been around youth understand all too well.
     I thought of  Steve yesterday as I rode in a float in the 250th Meredith Anniversary Parade through town.  I was with several other folk musicians in our local Catholic church mobile device, singing and playing all the spiritual songs with three chords;"When the Saints Go Marching In", "This Little Light of Mine", "They'll Know We Are Christians"[it has a few minor chords] and the ubiquitous "Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord" from the 40 year old Broadway sizzler "Godspell" who's hip funky music brought more then a few folks back to the church and who's brilliant composer Stephen Schwartz a few decades later gave us "Wicked".
What a lot of moms and dads saw of Mr. Bush
     Anyway as I rode the float, flailing away on my twelve-string guitar and trying to blend in with the good singers with me and ripping my throat out all at the same time (Have you ever tried to sing over a bagpipe band?) I noticed what seemed to be a paucity of marching bands.Of course there was the bagpipers, a slick skirling group from the NH Police Association.
     Pipers have always tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Probably bought on by my Scots-Celtic blood and a sharp injection of romance when I was born. Somehow when I hear the pipes I am, in my mind, hurled back to Bannock-burn, Culloden, Waterloo, North Africa and a million other places filled with fear and war and tragic glory.
     There seemed to be a smaller High School band this year. This is no reflection on the High School music program or the Elementary School program. But it does seem somewhat sad that the larger bands of my kids has been somewhat less then could be desired.
     Steve and others can remember large band trips, band concerts and so much more, including a jazz band at one time.
     Through the movie we watch Mr. Holland and his struggles with himself, his almost father like concern for his students. His anger at the death of one and the almost unbearable grief at the handicap of one of his own children. The "Serious Music" that at times is just beyond his reach...but which is brought to fruition at the end with his "Opus".
     After all that is the name of the movie.
     We also watch him take a summer job. (Yes, teachers struggle with their income ALL year.) as a driving instructor. I don't know if Steve ever did that.
Me? I think not.
     Sometimes when I look in a mirror I see a "Jaws" era Richard Dreyfus staring back. (Some of my kids and my wife say as a younger man I looked somewhat like him). Well, maybe.
     I think that Steve Bush does not have my inflated ego and hubris, I think he sees who he is.
     A decent, honest man who once taught high school kids how to march,  how to play beautiful music - and how to do it all at the same time. And in tune.
     Here's to you Steve and to all music teachers everywhere retired and those still working. And occasionally breaking a few pencils along the way.