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Monday, May 30, 2011

The Revolution. . .

. . . will not be televised.

Never was.
Never will.

Gill Scott Heron, R.I.P.





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Sunday, May 29, 2011

There were times. . .

. . . when I felt that I had ALWAYS taken accordion lessons. Then there were times when I felt that I would never be allowed to STOP taking them. But through the twenty-twenty vision of hindsight, they were ten years well spent on lessons which exposed me to a wealth of musical variety with an initiation to and education in music theory.

Somewhere around my last year of lessons, an unusual development regarding the operation of the Maryland Accordion Institute occurred. My friend, and fellow accordion student of Greek descent, possessing an appropriately lengthy Greek name and who we knew affectionately as Jimmy, purchased the operation. As I was about seventeen years of age at the time, I was understandably astounded at #1, the fact that Jimmy had the financial resources to purchase an entire business AND #2, the fact that Jimmy had the intellectual capability, the drive, motivation and just plain chutzpah to take on such a gargantuan challenge at this tender age. Jimmy was probably several years my senior, but just the same, truly quite an intelligent, thoughtful, practical and generally resourceful young man. And while he may have had the financial assistance of some older adults, he was, by all means, up to such a challenge. By that time in the life-span of the Institute and the current tastes and trends in popular culture, the Institute and accordion lessons in general, were already on their way OUT. But this was by no means a reflection on the talents and abilities of my friend Jimmy when it came to running the Maryland Accordion Institute. His great display of maturity in the whole affair made me proud of him and of myself as well, if only by association with my mature and sophisticated friend.

And the association was briefly more that simply friendship. Jimmy asked me to handle some musical affairs at the Institute during his vacation. This would mean unlocking the building, performing the duties of an instructor and handling the subsequent cash transactions. I was flattered to be asked, eager to prove the wisdom of his choice and filled with new and exorbitant amounts of self esteem at my new, responsible and lofty position even though it was only a temporary, vacation fill-in position.




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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Comedy Continues. . .

News From "E Online". . .

"The former half-term governor of Alaska will be the subject of a documentary developed at her suggestion by conservative filmmaker Stephen Bannon. Called "The Undefeated", the doc is said to tout her purported political strengths and just possibly set the stage for a presidential run. . . Calling the film "The Undefeated" -- which comes from a John Wayne movie -- may be a little ironic, however, given Palin's ticket lost the last election."



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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yeah. . .

. . . it's just me.

One of my older original compositions, Harrissinny, inspired by our youngest son; conventional, yet elements of radicalism. Just when it seems predictable, it goes off the far left end, without warning and with lots of humor. (Just like him. That's why I love it.)



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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

With all due respect. . .

. . . and in all honesty, very little respect is really due to those who make little to no use of the grey matter between their ears which has evolved (yes, conservative Virginia- EVOLVED) into the formidable organ it is today. . .

anyone who took Mr. Harold Camping seriously will SURELY know better than to even listen to his latest apologetic (or is it a non-apologetic). . . look here. . .

(from Buzzflash.com)
Unlike a Rained Out Ball Game, Harold Camping Offers No Refunds to Rapture Contributors

"On Monday evening, May 23 -- two days after Judgment Day failed to materialize -- Harold Camping stepped up to Family Radio's "Open Forum" mic and basically declared "Mission Accomplished." Coming only a day after he admitted to being "flabbergasted" by events, Camping's rambling and discombobulated statement maintained that the end of the world had been postponed until October 21, because "God is a loving and merciful God" he would not allow "long term suffering for anyone."

On October 21, the world will end quickly, Camping said, without any build up."

(PUH - LEEEEEEEEZZZZE!!!!!)

A very wise man (Christopher Hitchens) once said. . .

"Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence."

"Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely soley upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake."

Time to go back to ( or check into) the home, Harold. About 50% of those older than 85 years of age suffer from some form of dimentia. It cannot be ignored. It certainly should NOT be pandered to. WHAT DO YOU THINK??

Gotta leave you with a little music. . .




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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What a yahu. . .

. . . I mean- YAHOO!! (Freudian slip)

How can a person make one statement, such as maybe ". . . yes, we want peace. . . " then spend the remainder of their 'air' time listing the reasons that they refuse to help bring that peace about in any concrete, meaningful way?

"I say to President Abbas 'Tear up your pact with Hamas and sit down and negotiate, make peace with the Jewish state. "The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace. It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end. . . " The man promised “painful” Israeli concessions in exchange for peace but then proceeded to outline a tough negotiating stance. An aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the proposals a “declaration of war against the Palestinians.”

Unfortunately, our U.S. legislators found his hypocritical words applauseworthy. What a shame! Hopefully the world will get this man's number soon. We can only hope.

Not very 'musical' you say? What better way to promote peace than through the universal language of music. . .



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Down in a deep, dark, dank. . . **

. . . little corner of a basement in Highlandtown, we get together every Friday evening; put together plans to burn the whole thing down. Burn it to the ground. It's the world-wide church of the head-on armageddon. It's all about purity and how we're gonna get some. It's the world-wide church of the head-on Armageddon. And when our god gets his way in his heaven. There's gonna be hell to; gonna be hell to pay.

We can't afford to have anybody of another color living here. Talk to our maker he'll explain the whole thing. We are perfection you can see so clear. But we've got lots to fear. It's the world-wide church of the head-on armageddon. It's all about purity and how we're gonna get some. It's the world-wide church of the head-on Armageddon. And when our god gets his way in his heaven. There's gonna be hell to; gonna be hell to pay.

And people always ask, "Why do you talk like that? One day they'll take you all away." But when know what to say. We've got the NRA. The ACLU keeps us safe. What did you say was YOUR race?

If you don't listen to the things I'm saying, if you don't watch the little things I do. You'll be surprised. These aren't games we're playing. We will exterminate the lot of you. We believe it's true. It's the world-wide church of the head-on armageddon. It's all about purity and how we're gonna get some. It's the world-wide church of the head-on Armageddon. And when our god gets his way in his heaven. There's gonna be hell to; gonna be hell to pay.


HELL TO PAY
©1998 Raymond M. Jozwiak
**(Disclaimer: 'Hell To Pay' is a work of fiction and does not necessarily reflect the views of the author. Any relation to individuals living or deceased is purely coincidental.)



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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Maybe I'm Milking It, but. . .

. . .I can't help it.

THE END OF THE WORLD

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world,
'Cause you don't love me any more?

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don't they know it's the end of the world.
It ended when I lost your love.

I wake up in the morning and I wonder,
Why everything's the same as it was.
I can't understand. No, I can't understand,
How life goes on the way it does.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world.
It ended when you said goodbye.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world.
It ended when you said goodbye.

by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee
performed by Skeeter Davis


Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano opens the May 23rd Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery with 30 minutes of solo, Gonzo, Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics at the Piano. (take the elevator on the right to the 2nd floor) 124 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, tel: 301-631-0089, Fax: 301-631-1874
www.brewers-alley.com
Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E.)


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Saturday, May 21, 2011

P.S. . .

. . . It's 5/22/2011, 12:18 EDT. The world did NOT end.

Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano opens the May 23rd Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery with 30 minutes of solo, Gonzo, Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics at the Piano. (take the elevator on the right to the 2nd floor) 124 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, tel: 301-631-0089, Fax: 301-631-1874
www.brewers-alley.com
Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E.)


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Posting this one early. . .

. . . just in case the world DOES end tonight, maybe you'll be able to read one more blog from me.

Well, what can I say? The only thing that bothers me about this whole WORLD ENDING TONIGHT thing is that a massive unforeseen earthquake (or other disaster), or cosmic crash, or stray meteor or WHATEVER could happen at ANY TIME. It's just a friggin' fact. That's what it's all about to be a human being in the year 2011. NOTHING IS CERTAIN. No Bible, no Quran, no Pentateuch, no Vedas, no Raelian rantings, no Golden plates - NO ANYTHING that is truly infallible nor factual. It's just we human beings in our frail, human, mortal, self-awareness. The more of us that realize that soon - THE BETTER.

BTW, someone put up a pet care website which was pretty smart. They charge a fee to take care of the pets of we sinners when we're gone and they're probably making a killing. That's the Amer-i-can way!!!
PET CARE FOR SINNERS




Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano opens the May 23rd Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery with 30 minutes of solo, Gonzo, Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics at the Piano. (take the elevator on the right to the 2nd floor) 124 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, tel: 301-631-0089, Fax: 301-631-1874
www.brewers-alley.com
Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E.)


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Our Integrity

Fifteen minutes of glory, maybe less. What I wouldn't give for the chance to confess all my intimate secrets; all my hopes and my desires. I don't care just how valid you think that they are, they've been mine for a long, long while and I'm not ashamed of them. Shut up Joe. How do you really know what's going down? How can you tell if there's a problem somewhere to be found? We all need to gather round to help everybody else to see that running your mouth aloud makes it that much more difficult for you and me and OUR INTEGRITY.

Went to work at the factory at fourteen. Thought I'd finish my schooling sometime in between drunken weekends and futile street fights and the visits to my best girl. But the time slipped away. I've got bills here to pay. I've got small ones depending on me. My vision is limited. Shut up Joe. How do you really know what's going down? How can you tell if there's a problem somewhere to be found? We all need to gather round to help everybody else to see that running your mouth aloud makes it that much more difficult for you and me and OUR INTEGRITY.

All my life I've known I'd want to say something to my fellow man today. Couldn't let the facts get in the way.

We weren't that well acquainted, never were. An occasional run-in we preferred. There's one thing that we both believe in; heard it over and over again. It was something about all the fondness we felt; how the heart can't miss what's not around if the mind doesn't value it. Shut up Joe. How do you really know what's going down? How can you tell if there's a problem somewhere to be found? We all need to gather round to help everybody else to see that running your mouth aloud makes it that much more difficult for you and me and OUR INTEGRITY.

©2008 Raymond M. Jozwiak


Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano opens the May 23rd Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery with 30 minutes of solo, Gonzo, Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics at the Piano. (take the elevator on the right to the 2nd floor) 124 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, tel: 301-631-0089, Fax: 301-631-1874
www.brewers-alley.com
Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E.)


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Friday, May 20, 2011

The blessing and the curse. . .

. . . of aging is perspective. Although I choose to concentrate upon the blessing (and I use the term in purely secular fashion) aspect to be sure. That aspect was vividly, yet unexpectedly brought once again to my attention when pondering the talents and the moving music produced by Eric Dolphy.

In case you're not familiar with Eric Dolphy, he was a (chronologically) post-bop, jazz reed virtuoso, equally skilled and emotionally proficient on flute, alto saxophone and bass clarinet (which has, since my acquaintance with his music, become one of my favorite reed instruments). Born in 1928 in Los Angeles, he died in Berlin in June of 1964 of complications of a diabetic coma and sheer neglect. It seems the hospital staff, after Eric collapsed on stage, succumbing to the stereotypical view that all (or most) jazz musicians were drug addicts, left Eric in bed, unattended, to allow the alleged drugs to run their course. A brilliant, but tragically short, life.

My first exposure to Eric Dolphy is to the credit of my old school chum Bob Z., who had sometime around 1973 purchased an Eric Dolphy LP, which I cannot readily now identify due to record companies' haphazard practice of issuing unrelated and insufficiently documented recordings as an 'album', which contained mostly live material and a seminal performance of the old standard LAURA. The recording, now available as one of three "Live in Europe" CDs, still gives me goosebumps when I hear it.

The 'blessing' and the 'aging' to which I previously alluded come into play as follows. The pieces to which I was listening were recorded around 1960. I was hearing them in the early seventies. That means that music was made about thirteen years prior to my discovering it. In my innocent youthfulness, I perceived that mere 13 years as "A LONG TIME" ago. And the 36 years of age Eric had attained was really very young by most objective standards, but old to one of fifteen years.

Now, at fifty-three, listening to this glorious music and looking at photos of Eric Dolphy online, the apparent truth of the matter is that, when Eric passed away, he was only a kid. But what a BRILLIANT kid!


-----------------------
Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano opens the May 23rd Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery with 30 minutes of solo, Gonzo, Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics at the Piano. (take the elevator on the right to the 2nd floor) 124 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, tel: 301-631-0089, Fax: 301-631-1874
www.brewers-alley.com
Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E.)



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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There's a handful. . .

. . . of selfless gentlemen in and around the Frederick, MD area who sacrifice healthy portions of their free time to organize, promote, facilitate and execute, among other events, the Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley. Rod Deacey, Ron Goad, Todd Walker and Tomy Wright shall not remain nameless here. The show takes place every Monday evening, with the exception of the month of December when the venue (owners of which must also be commended for their generosity in lending it for the purpose at 'reasonable' terms) is utilized for holiday events.

As Rod puts it: "Monday Night Songwriters' Showcase (now in its seventh year!) is held every Monday evening upstairs at Brewer's Alley, 124 N. Market St., in beautiful downtown Frederick, MD. The program starts at 7:30 pm with a piano prelude, followed by three or four songwriters doing three songs each (so you can't get bored). The featured songwriter for the evening goes on around 9 pm for 45 minutes, followed by three more three-song performers. Somewhere in the mix we throw in some poetry from our resident poet, John Holly. Our MCs are Ron Goad, Todd C. Walker and Tomy Wright, frequently interrupted by Rod Deacey on sound. Most of you know all this.... Our shows are FREE -- we collect tips for the featured songwriter, but there is no door charge, so come and support LIVE MUSIC!

Our featured songwriters are a mix of national and regional touring performers, with many award winners from all genres. If you would like a calendar for the next six months of 2011, please e-mail me back and I'll send you one. For information about playing a three-song spot, contact Ron Goad: MisterGoad@aol.com. For info on featuring, contact me, Rod Deacey: roddc@xecu.net

Brewer's Alley Songwriters' Showcases, along with Songwriters Songfests and Open Mikes at Frederick Coffee Company and Beans in The Belfry come under the umbrella of a new non-profit organization --
Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (F.A.M.E.)
Information and membership forms are available at these events."

Monday Night Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery (take the elevator on the right to the 2nd floor) 124 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701, tel: 301-631-0089, Fax: 301-631-1874
www.brewers-alley.com

Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano opens the show this week, May 23rd with 30 minutes of solo, Gonzo, Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics at the Piano.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Have No Limits. . .

. . . said Jay Graboski, my long-time musical collaborator and friend (many years ago- possibly more than even he remembers) when debating with a potential employer about our musical 'combo', trying to convince the man that we could provide whatever kind, type or genre of music the man was seeking for his desired, whether real or imagined, clientele.

And I say this ( i.e. I have no limits, meaning in my musical interests, tastes and avenues to which I am willing to devote or otherwise apply my energies) in jest, of course, but only as an introduction to a wonderful piece of music by another, newer musical associate and friend, Garth Baxter.

Garth is a member (now of the 'executive' or 'steering' committee of the the Baltimore Composers Forum, an association with whom I became involved late in 2009) of the Baltimore Composers Forum and a composer and educator par excellence!

I hope he doesn't mind my posting an aria from his new opera, "Lily", to which he treated me recently, here for all to enjoy.

The delightful performers are vocalists Lydia Beasley and Jason Buckwalter, with Andrew Stewart, pianist.




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Cowboy Justice. . .

. . . is something that we really need. Twice as effective as mercy now for which they plead. If I can't get you to see things the way I do, something happens. I start the process. See it through. Its what I've been taught to do. And I'll teach you.

No one tells me just what I can or cannot do. My advisors, some say, are keepers of a zoo. I don't mind if you think that what they say is real. I'm in charge here, at least that's how they make me feel. That's a part of the deal and it came true.

Gotta see it my way. I'm giving people what I want. It's a price I must pay. We cowboys know how to be gallant.

There's no question of right or wrong here to debate. Disagree though, you'll be subjected to the hate that's influcted on member of the team like you. 'Cause we cowboys will never worry if we're few. Our justice is true. Make no mistake.

COWBOY JUSTICE
©2006 Raymond M. Jozwiak

An instrumental rendition of COWBOY JUSTICE
appears on the CD PUT A FINGER ON IT
©2008 Raymond M. Jozwiak
COWBOY JUSTICE sample




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Monday, May 16, 2011

That polarizing musical instrument. . .

. . . the accordion.

I did become exposed to a gamut of music during my accordion education playing Polish folk music (but of course), American folk and pop music, tin pan alley standards, classical, English drinking songs and even rock and roll- envision that on the accordion. When you began accordion lessons at the Maryland Accordion Institute, you were issued a twelve bass piano accordion. What that is, is a small accordion with a 25-key piano keyboard on the right (from the performer's perspective) and twelve buttons on the left. The piano accordion is designed to be a complete musical ensemble. The right hand plays melody while the left plays bass notes and complete major chords on the first and second row of buttons respectively. Of course the bellows are between the two halves

After completing the basic course, I don't recall if that was measured in weeks or an instruction book, you were encouraged to purchase a full-size accordion which was casually called a "hundred and twenty bass" accordion, appropriately named for the one hundred and twenty buttons on the left side. The buttons are arranged in diagonal rows consisting of, in order from left to right, a 'counter bass' note (the third of the root bass note which is next to the right, major chord, minor chord, seventh chord and last, diminished chord. The keyboard on the right being larger, of course, has 41 keys.

So you see it is a complex instrument, mastery of which equips one very well with a fair amount of music theory knowledge. And you can see how the 120 bass instrument provides the player much more versatility and range in what can be played.





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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Academically speaking. . .

. . .Why is WHATSHERNAME songwriting at it's best?

Hard to believe, but this song is over forty (count em, 40) years old! I remember when I first heard it. Not where I was, what I was doing. But really HEARING the song, and (even in my innocent youth- I was about 12) being very moved. And to be moved by such an 'adult' experience, I, even in my youthful innocence, had sincere appreciation for the skillfully conceived and constructed piece of music/lyrics that I had just experienced.

WHATSHERNAME (see my post of May 9th) embodies so much of what I strive to achieve in my songwriting. It captures a real human sentiment accurately and without preachiness, posturing or pretense. (Guess I should call that the three Ps???) A complex life situation is encapsulated in simplicity of presentation, something that on the surface seems (and sounds) easy, but which is, in fact, very difficult to accomplish. Thus is the ART.

The easy, swinging, lounge-type, yet very conversational rhythm belies the doubt and uncertainty that the speaking character is soon to reveal as the two old friends meet, presumably in a bar. Our leading man is very polite, inquiring about his friend's family, possibly mutual friends, and revealingly tells him, "Who me? Oh I'm great." And then under the guise of inquiring ". . . for a friend", our hero gets to the point. "Do you remember. . . a girl that I brought here, before I got married a couple of times at the end. . . " The same relative chord pattern, this too complex while sounding 'easy', accompanies the verse as the tempo decreases and the drama increases leading into the chorus.

The irony in the chorus is brilliantly expressed.
"Whatshername? She hardly knew me;
Now her name means something to me.
I wonder if she ever got over me?"
He can't remember her name (or CAN he?) but he's inquiring of her "for a friend" and he's wondering if SHE ever got over HIM!
(See what I mean by brilliance?)

Then, the crux of the story, our hero says,
"Anyway I should be flattered
For yesterday at least I mattered
Where did it go?"
'For yesterday, at least I MATTERED'

A 'mid-life' crisis probably. A universal sentiment, or doubt at least.

A little rationalization, '. . . all things considered, I've done fairly well. . . ' He confirms his love for his wife and then, during the second chorus indulges in his fantasy once more and concludes.

One gets the feeling that he's not gonna jump off a bridge, he probably won't get drunk that night and continue reminiscing. He'll stay with Ruth and the kids, probably retire to Florida eventually. But one does get the feeling that the memories of his old 'love' will return on a regular basis, as sometimes those memories do.

Such is life.
Wish I could write a song like that!
Cheers Paul! (Noel)

WHATSHERNAME
Stookey/Dixon/Kniss- Neworld Media Music Publishers ASCAP
(from Album 1700 by Peter, Paul and Mary)


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Friday, May 13, 2011

Neat and Clean. . .

. . . we vowed to make our separation. Never mean or condescending recitation. I fought so long and so hard with these feelings inside of me. And you were the last one that I thought again I would ever see. My fortress, strong and tall, has taken its first hit and its beginning to fall. Now the walls come tumbling down; the pieces crashing to the ground; just like the pieces of my broken heart. Now the walls come tumbling down and when they do they make one deafening sound. Just like your footsteps on the floor. Just like the slamming of the door behind you.

Peachy keen was not the color of the picture. Love just seemed to slip away, no more the fixture. Coming to grips with reality wasn't an easy affair. And seeing your face once again made me wonder if you still care. This barricade of mine is crumbling from the front and just as well from behind. And the walls come tumbling down; the pieces crashing to the ground; just like the pieces of my broken heart. Now the walls come tumbling down and when they do they make one deafening sound. Just like your footsteps on the floor. Just like the slamming of the door behind you.

Just like your footsteps on the floor. Just like the slamming of the door behind you.

©1994 Raymond M. Jozwiak
TUMBLING DOWN




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What???...

. . . would. . .

In the 1990s the phrase “What would Jesus do?” became a fad among evangelical Christians. There were WWJD bracelets, t-shirts, and posters, and a host of mocking pop culture imitations such as "What would Scooby do?". The phrase “What would Jesus do?” originated in a novel titled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?, published in 1897 by Charles M. Sheldon. Sheldon was a Congregational minister in Topeka, Kansas, and a Progressive concerned with Christianity’s relationship to the social politics of his day.Now maybe you have seen it, but I, only yesterday, saw for the first time the "What would Sun Ra do?" bumper sticker and quite frankly, it sparked in me some serious thought.

First, of course, I thought, "WHAT would Sun Ra do about WHAT?" Then I thought that he most certainly would have something to say about the retirement of the space shuttle. He might have two cents to add about which museums in which cities the retired vessels would be displayed. He might have something to say about terrorism, shallow politics, greed and global warming. He always did exhibit concern for injustice.

Then I realized that I was probably barking up the wrong tree. Of course I, and any other fan of Sun Ra (with or without an Arkestra) should know without a doubt, exactly what Sun Ra would do. He would, obviously, PLAY. . . . .







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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Facts . . .

. . . are stupid things. . . " - Ronald Reagan

Following is from FactCheck.org.

"Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has appeared in our fact-checking stories before. We’ll be taking a close look at the claims he makes on the campaign trail, now that the former House speaker has decided he will run. So we’ll be listening to see if he repeats statements along these lines:

At a GOP event in Iowa in March, Gingrich said that he "helped balance the federal budget for four straight years." Not exactly. He was in Congress for only two of those years. The budget was balanced from 1998 to 2001 — fiscal years — and Gingrich was in office up until January 1999.

In February at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he made exaggerated statements on energy, incorrectly stating that Brazil was "totally energy independent" and that the U.S. had an 1,100-year supply of shale gas, or natural gas. Brazil still imports oil from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Venezuela, contrary to Gingrich’s claim that Brazil doesn’t "pay a penny to" any of them. And the Energy Information Administration estimates that the total potential U.S. natural gas resources would last 110 years, 10 times smaller than Gingrich’s claim.

During the health care debate in the summer of 2009, he tweeted that the legislation would result in "[t]ax increases on virtually everyone." Not true. The House bill to which he referred called for a surtax on individuals with adjusted gross incomes above $280,000 a year or $350,000 for couples. That’s about 1.4 percent of American households.

In June 2007, he made false statements about the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill in a TV ad for the group Citizens United. Gingrich wrongly said that the Senate legislation would "put … potential terrorists and gang members on a path to U.S. citizenship" and that it "does not even allow convicted criminals to be deported." But the bill specifically said that an illegal immigrant who "at any time has participated in a criminal gang" could be deported, and anyone suspected of being "a danger to the security of the United States" could be denied a temporary visa. As for convicted criminals, the bill said "aggravated felonies" — crimes ranging from rape and murder to passport alteration and fraud — would be grounds for deportation. And the same goes for illegal immigrants with three misdemeanors on their records.

Gingrich wrongly said in May 2010 that the Obama administration was responsible for a court decision ruling the "National Day of Prayer" violated the First Amendment. Gingrich claimed this was an example of a "relentless anti-religious bias." But the truth is that the Obama administration appealed that federal district court judge’s decision, which was the result of a lawsuit brought by a group of atheists. In fact, administration lawyers recently won a reversal by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the law and the president’s right to declare a National Day of Prayer. Just last month, the president issued a proclamation declaring May 5, 2011, to be this year’s day of prayer.

We also noted a good catch by comedian Jon Stewart who corrected a mistake by Gingrich, a guest on Stewart’s "The Daily Show" in February 2010. Gingrich said Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," was an American citizen. He’s British.
So that’s a range of claims on the federal budget, energy, health care, immigration and terrorism. Something tells us those topics will come up during the campaign."



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Be Careful. . .

. . . who, or what, you believe. . .

Jessica Dovey, a recent Penn State grad living in Kobe, Japan, posted this as her Facebook status, shortly after the execution of Osama Binladen:

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.
"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive
out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out have, only love can do that." MLK Jr.

The first sentence is Ms. Dovey's own, followed by a quotation from King's 1963 book, "Strength to Love." But thousands of people twittered, blogged and otherwise passed on the COMPLETE STATEMENT and later only the FIRST SENTENCE, identifying it as a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

But alas, it is not.


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Monday, May 9, 2011

Songwriting at its best. . .

WHATSHERNAME
Stookey/Dixon/Kniss- Neworld Media Music Publishers ASCAP

Jimmy McGregor, hey, Jimmy, come here!
Jimmy you son of a gun!
What 'cha been doin'? How long has it been?
Hell, seven years if it's been one.

How's the preacher? How's Don, did he go back to school?
(No kidding, I thought he was gay!)
Who me? Oh, I'm great! I'm a father you know.
Yeah, two of 'em and one on the way.

Oh, well, she couldn't make it, she gets pretty tired,
She started her last month today.
I only came up for a couple of minutes,
Believe me, I wish I could stay.

Oh, and yeah while I think of it, do you remember,
Not for myself, for a friend.
A girl that I brought here, before I got married
A couple of times at the end.

Whatshername? She hardly knew me;
Now her name means something to me.
I wonder if she ever got over me?

Anyway I should be flattered
For yesterday at least I mattered
Where did it go?

Jimmy I tell you we're two lucky guys
You've got everything that you've planned.
And all things considered I've done fairly well
I mean God's honest truth, man
I love Ruth and Whatshername?

I thought I knew her, Whatshername?
What happened to her,
I don't know why I'll never forget
Whatshername?





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Sunday, May 8, 2011

If you feel there's a presence. . .

. . . or uneasiness, but you clearly are all alone, those feelings you're feeling seem somewhat out of sync. Tell me, what would you like to drink? There are so many stories everyone here can tell. History full of of color; tragedy too. Such things may weigh heavy. Filled with fear, eyes will blink. We say, what would you like to drink?

Sometimes the weather can get hot. And passion's sure to rise here. It's happened so much in the past. The poet-son who watched his parents' suicide; the yellow fever victims here, with those long gone, still survive. Back some years, goes the story, controversy abounds; love and murder, some mystery in our town. Such intrigue we get through printed pages and ink. Can I please get you something to drink? Midst of all the excitement, everyone chose their side. RIght or wrong, there's no middle; nowhere to hide. He was one upstanding citizen, don't you think? So now, what would you like to drink?

Things aren't always what they seem or how we'd like them to be. They're only just the way they are. But sometimes, just beneath the surface, something we never saw. We're not sure it's dead or still alive. You can see the old movie. Read the book better still. Fill in all of the details; a little thrill. Bartender on Drayton said "Ghosts sell" with a wink. Say now, what would you like to drink?

©2008 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sunday. . .

. . . seems like an appropriate day to quote everybody's favorite atheist. . .

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."

"[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods."

"Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse."

"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it."

"[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."

"The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that 'if English was good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for me."

"Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence."

"To "choose" dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid. "

"Organised religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children."

"I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with 'you' in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me."

. . . Christopher Hitchens



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Friday, May 6, 2011

LVJ

You were always in the right place at the right time when I needed you to be there, in the rain or shine. And I don;'t believe I ever heard a word of complaint. Sometimes there was not a word at all. You were always there to give me the direction true. Now it's time I must be there for you.

In a world where there is danger and uncertainty, you were there to give me comfort and security. You were like the sun upon which could be counted to rise. Like the rain you gave what made me grow. And though now things seem confusing, I can't make you see. I'll be here 'cause you were there for me.

©2010 Raymond M. Jozwiak
(Thanks Mom. I Love You.)



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Thursday, May 5, 2011

You Couldn't Play The Music. . .

. . . so you made up your own. . .

That's what the father of another accordion student said to me at the conclusion of accordion practice on the night I chose as my solo, a song that I made up. . . I mean. . . an original composition. In fact, it was my very first original composition, to the best of my knowledge.

The piece was entitled THE NEW YORK STRANGERS. It was essentially, half blues and half folk song. Literally. It was not verse- chorus-verse-chorus, or verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus. It was first-part-second-part (repeat). It had lyrics. Very simple lyrics which I, unfortunately (and embarrassingly) do remember so will not repeat here. It was inspired by. . . nothing in particular but the need to write an original composition. Well, isn't that ENOUGH?

And the comment from the other student's parent seems quite ruthless in print. It was, in fact, delivered quite humorously (and kiddingly) by a man who had quite a fine sense of humor with no offense intended and none, indeed, taken.

In retrospect, quite possibly (make that DEFINITELY) the best part of the entire experience, and the finest nuance of the memory, is the look of pride on my very own father's face as I received congratulations from several listeners that evening.


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The Poet Said. . .

. . . 'trailing clouds of glory we come. . . '

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

from:
Ode
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Heard somebody say. . .

. . . they overheard you just the other day; a simple word about the way we get along. If only I were sure of the semantics. Having doubts 'cause I'm one hopeless romantic. Could it be you're slipping away from me? What will I do if what I'm thinking is true? And you want to be really free of me? I won't last very long very far from your heart. And this third-hand intelligence might be the way that it starts.

Heard somebody say they thought they saw you just the other day. You were not alone they said he didn't look like me. Thinking to myself, "must be mistaken." Try not to believe but still badly shaken. Why would you deceive me in things you do. So many years! Sharing our laughter and tears. . . lasted very long. Maybe I was wrong not to ask you why you feel we've drifted apart and this third-hand intelligence might be the way that it starts.

Are my sources reliable? Wait and see. Wait and see. Is my psyche too pliable? It could be. It could be. . .

If somebody said, "the sky was falling, soon we'll all be dead, have to quit our stalling, try to be prepared," would you believe it's true or would you question all the things you do and change your direction from spinning round when it hits the ground? That's just not true. Any believers are few. When you've seen it all it could never fall any more than I think you could tear us apart. And this third-hand intelligence might be the way that it starts.


Hear THIRD-HAND INTELLIGENCE
©1997 Raymond M. Jozwiak


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Roar of the Greaspaint. . .

. . . the smell of the crowd.

Yeah, that taste of public attention, appreciation, the thrill, the communication, the connection between performer and audience cannot be underestimated. It's not ego. It is a need. Like a drug. The accordion band practice refined my experience and perception of the performer/audience relationship.

And after several years of accordion band practice sessions, which were really low-calibre concerts, I'm not quite sure what inspired or motivated me since nothing clear remains in my memory of the motivation, I wrote my first original composition.



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Monday, May 2, 2011

You Haven't Lived. . .

. . . until you've heard forty seven accordionists playing HALLELUJA I'M A BUM on a cold, Monday evening in November. Kinda warms the cockles of your heart.

Well, we used to have 'band practice', not as in a conventional 'band' of various compatible instruments rehearsing together for a performance, but a 'band' meaning a group, and 'practice' meaning just that. And many of us most certainly needed practice. Theoretically, the concept had musical merit. Playing with other music students promoted an understanding of time, tempo and dynamics, following a 'conductor' (of sorts) and taught cooperation, support, sympathy, harmony, rhythm and accompaniment.

The configuration was four rows of metal, folding chairs of about 8 - 10 facing the conductor (an accordion teacher, most often Mr. Edward (Taylor) Krawcyk) whose back was to a row of assorted couches and chairs where the parents of the students sat to 'enjoy' the music of their progeny. The protocol had the 'new' or less senior (accordionwise) students in the first row, with students 'promoted' to the following rows as they progressed in skill, or sometimes when they merely 'hung in there' for a period, with or without really improving technically at all.

And the coup de gras for seriously dedicated students of the squeezebox, during each band practice, was the opportunity to perform a solo. Only two rows of students were allowed to perform a 'solo' each week, simply because of the one-hour time limit of the weekly gathering. The first two rows would offer solos one week, with only the 3rd and 4th rows the following week. And Oh Boy, did I look forward to my time to 'shine' with a solo every other week. And this performance opportunity was not taken lightly, by myself at least, and much time and toil was taken in the selection, preparation and eventual performance of my bi-monthly accordion solo.


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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Meteors. . .

. . . that come once a year, quite a show of fireworks when you're there to see them. Shooting stars fantastically glow. All too soon, no one can say where they are or gone to. Back on earth, we average reside. Most of us will never know such adoration. So I go my ordinary way, do my job and feed my kids in this world and wonder. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Why all the fascination?

Fabulous, they'll take your breath away. They will dazzle with their style and their savoire faire. Improvise, they make their own rules. All the cattle follow close behind from the pasture. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Why all the fascination?

Why couldn't I be one among these many millions? Why can't someone see my astrological worth? What causes the sea of heavenly bodies to glow like they do; show off so brightly for me and you? Sooner or later they burn themselves out but oh, so beautifully. Beautifully.

Meteors have nothing to fear. From their distant firmament, they shine for the masses. Safe above, removed from earthly life, from uncertainty that lines the cloth of our mortal existence. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Dust and gas, that's what they're made of. Why all the fascination?


© 2008 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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