#7Songs – Number Two

by John on February 1, 2016

I like Steely Dan for all the wrong reasons.

That’s what my wife Karen will say, she’s sick of hearing me play their songs, and my good friend Raul openly criticizes me for liking their music, but I really don’t give a ****.

My love for Steely Dan was cemented during a trip to North Carolina in the late 80’s. I was visiting Wake Forest University with one of my mentors, suffering from that form of teenage angst/ennui. We were visiting the campus, going to the homecoming game (which the Demon Deacons won), toilet papering the quad (I may or may not have “liberated” a roll of TP from the administration building), and roaming the halls. I thought the whole experience was cool but because I was suffering from the aforementioned angst/ennui, I didn’t want to let on to how life changing the experience truly was.

Enough of the backstory, here’s the deets:

The Song: Deacon Blues

Why this one: I would hear this song playing on Zeta 4, the rock radio station here in Miami. I would fall asleep with my Walkman, listening to the overnight DJ’s play this and it was awesome. Here was rock, jazz, and cryptic lyrics all rolled into something I didn’t understand but it was still freaking cool.

Where it takes me: I’m catapulted right back to sophomore year. My personal life was a mess, school was a mess, hell, I was one big mess. When Fagan sings “I cried when I wrote this song” it struck a chord that hasn’t left me some 28 years later. In fact, I wrote a variation of that line (I cried when I heard this news) in a card for one of my classmates in study hall. His father had passed and I was responsible for getting a card that we all signed. I remember our study hall “teacher”, a football coach take the card to sign his name and noticed when he took a look at what we all wrote and ever so slightly smile.

Parting Shots: This is a melancholy romp through the minor keys. You can’t help but wonder if the story is really about a football team and their losing streak or if it’s about a drug addled jazz session musician contemplating ending it all. That’s the beauty of the song and the group. Sometimes you just don’t know, so you keep on keeping on.

So in this time of the expanding man, I’m going to keep on keeping on.

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Today is the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. This event had a major impact on my 13 year old self. It was one of the first in a series of tragic world events where I felt completely lost, scared, and confused as to why anything like this could happen. This tragedy still cuts deep and hurts. I still get misty when I see the news clips or when I read the newspaper stories.

My post about the shuttle Enterprise was originally written back in July 2011. While this isn’t specifically about the loss of Challenger, I think it’s the best, and only way I can quietly mark the occasion.

Today, I’ll quietly say a small prayer, remember the souls that were lost, and go about my day. Tonight I’ll spend time with my girls, hug them a bit tighter and remind myself to try just a bit harder let them keep their sense of wonder and awe.

~John
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Note: This post was scheduled for today’s launch, however it may not happen due to the weather. I say screw it, I’m posting this bad boy anyway!

“JP come over here, you’re going to miss this and it’s something very important” exclaimed my father as he stood watching the television. “What, what’s going on dad?” I replied. “JP pay attention this is something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life.” “In fact, I don’t want you to ever forget this name, can you remember Enterprise?” he asked. I don’t remember promising that I could, however it’s true I never did forget that moment. A quiet moment shared by a father and son.

Thus began my love affair with planes, the space shuttle, and astronauts. Growing up in Florida trips to Disney become commonplace and at times very expensive, but a trip to Cape Canaveral was always filled with wonder and imagination.

I’ve tried to watch every televised launch and if possible landing. In grade school we’d convince our teachers to turn on the dusty old televisions watching with excitement and anticipation. Today, I’ll watch it on my computer from my desk at work.

I can still tell you exactly where I was when Challenger and Columbia were lost. Seventeen years had elapsed between the events but both had a deep and meaningful impact on me. I had come of age during that period, lulled into not believing the risks involved with that line of work. My life was still ahead of me. I felt that I was not limited by anything. Sadly, those events were a sobering reminder that I needed to be a bit more aware.

So today with the final shuttle mission about to take place, I’m immediately transported to a small house in North Miami and to the small black & white RCA television set and to a father who wants to share a love for aircraft and instill in his son a sense of awe and wonder.

Those feelings I’ll never forget, along with the names Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavor, and
Atlantis.

Why do I feel this way after so many years? Well, when you’re asked to make a promise as a five year old, and your hero is the one who’s asking, that’s just something you never forget.

I never forgot Dad, just liked you asked me to…

Godspeed Atlantis!

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