Three Boys from Miami

by John on September 4, 2016

I had a chance to chat with some old friends a few weeks ago. We managed to all get on a quick skype-type call to say hello, make fun of each other, and commiserate on how busy our lives have become.

Seems I have this conversation a lot these days.

We all grew up together, suffering through parochial school and that awkward transition to public high school. Even with our shared suffering, we were an unlikely bunch of friends. One was the fastest runner in elementary school, one a serial entrepreneur, and me, well I was honing my diplomacy skills by trying to be involved with student government and other extracurricular activities.

We lost touch for a couple of years, each of us going to different colleges and countries. Trying as young men do to find themselves in a time when we didn’t catalog every crazy thing we did on the internet. Trying to make a mark, create a legacy, make a difference in the world. Tall order for three boys from Miami. Then again, we always relished a challenge.

That day though, we spoke of our kids, our careers, our challenges as fathers, but we haven’t changed much. We’re still the same group of over-active, hyper boys, who like to compete. However today, we are competing against time. Something we all know a bit too well.

One friend is still mourning the recent loss of his mother. It’s still raw and hurts and no amount of words on a call, or pixels on a screen can convey how much we share in his grief and pain.

Another by nature of his work, has put himself in harm’s way more than anyone we know. Again, words can’t adequately express our sense of worry. We all just keep on keeping on, looking at the days pass on the calendar, cherishing our families and raising our kids. Hoping against hope that they will have it better than we ever did…

We’re now all in different parts of the world, but thankfully still in touch. Celebrating our successes and propping each other up in the difficult times. That brings me a bit of comfort, knowing that through the years, we’re still there for each other.

So on this random Sunday, separated by 7 different time zones and a vast ocean, know that I love you both. I still worry, and still cheer and toast our successes.

We may have grey hair (or no hair) and our waistlines may be a bit bigger, but our friendship endures.

Not bad for three rambunctious boys from Miami. Not bad at all.

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#7Songs – Number Three

by John on July 25, 2016

I figured it was time to get back to some more lighthearted posts. There has been way too much suffering in the world and the election news cycle is driving people bat shiat crazy.

So to lighten the mood, I’m kicking it old school, jazz standard style.

The Song: Autumn Leaves

Why this one: In 1989 I joined a band. Now I’m not a musician by any stretch of the imagination (unless you count “playing the radio” which is what my wife accuses me of on a constant basis). Well there was that one time where I wanted to be Sting and spend the summer of my junior year in HS trying to learn how to play the upright bass, that’s not the point.

No, I was a roadie for a society band.

The band was composed of musicians in their late 60’s and early 70’s. I hauled all the equipment in the door, set them up, checked the sound, and then would either hang out, usually hiding in some back room, or come back when the gig was over and break them down. Rinse, repeat. To this day, I’ve been through more hotel and country club kitchens and loading docks than I’d care to remember.

This job paid me the princely sum of $30 cash. Between 1989 and 1990 I had saved all my cash to help pay for a good portion of my expenses for my freshman year in college.

I learned a whole lot working with those guys and the stories they shared, well let’s just say they were legendary. There was the one piano player who could play Chopin from memory. He once skipped classes at NYU to attend Gershwin’s funeral. He was awesome. I still miss him, and all the other guys.

The original song is a French tune “Les feuilles mortes” which is literally translated to the dead leaves. Johnny Mercer wrote some haunting lyrics that shake you to your core. This is not guitar riffy “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley, this tune is a “I’m drinking in a bar because I’m an idiot and lost the girl” kinda ballad.

Where it takes me: Right back to the struggle. I was living on my own, working my ass off, hoping and wishing for my life to start. Little did I know that I what I considered a struggle was really a carefree time. I was going to school, reading, goofing off, and having a blast. It was a simpler time, before mistakes were cataloged forever on the internet for all to see.

Parting Shots:This standard always gets me. When my oldest daughter told me that she likes the Leslie Odom Jr. bossa nova version of this tune I was immediately happy. Sure it’s another one of those minor key tunes that evokes sadness and love lost, but it still holds up all these years later.

And while you didn’t get to see us get married Sy, I want you to know that the stories and lessons you shared still resonate. I’m also certain that your professors have forgiven you for skipping class that day. I sure as hell would have.

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Peace for our time? #JeSuisCharlie

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I have never wanted to write about terrorism, sadly, that has changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some naïve soul, but I can no longer be silent about the lingering fear and horror that has manifested over the past few days and weeks. I worry about my friends that wear a uniform and serve […]

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Dispatches from #SHRM16 – Day One

June 20, 2016

Ahhh, Washington D.C.. The last time I spent a good amount of time in this city was about 27 years ago, so it’s nice to be back in a great city attending the annual SHRM conference. The multiple landscapes have changed since I’ve been in D.C…geographical, political, and yes, even the world of work. The […]

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