All-American Social Club

July 9, 2016

All-American Social Club

This was my America inside the club:

A dreadlocked Adonis in Nike trainers chatted up a chica.

An Asian woman in Breton striped danced with a lightning-haired guy.

An African American woman in a purple shirt danced magnificent with a white woman to the cover band.

This is the America I know: free souls at the social club choosing to buck the system that divides us.

We keep on rockin’ in the real world.



Year-End Rear-End Review

I counted down to 1987 at the radio station where the disc jockeys played the top 120 or so songs from 1986 in a “Year-End Rear-End Review of 1986 Record Picks.”

To this day I still listen to music. You can listen to The Alternative Project radio station on the iHeartradio website. In New York City if you have an HD radio receiver you can listen to K-Rock at 92.3 FM HD2.

Over the years my brother has given me exorbitant gift cards for Christmas. One year I used one to buy an HD radio/iPod dock/alarm clock. You can set the alarm clock to wake you up to the radio or to music from your iPod.

I also used one of those gift cards to buy an iPod that holds something like 100,000 songs or something outrageous like that. Of course I doubt it contains anything near that amount of music.

My contention is that often what gave a person joy when they were younger can give them joy as an adult.

From the time I was a young kid I always listened to music on the radio. It’s a free source of happiness.

All you need is the money to buy a radio. And if you’re content to listen to Taylor Swift or any regular Top 40 music played on average stations you don’t need an HD radio receiver just any old cheap radio whose frequency comes in clearly.

At the time I was a disc jockey in the 1980s a listener had called in and told me he was miraculously able to tune into WSIA, Staten Island from all the way up in Boston. This cheered me.

I make the case for listening to music. Or reading books. Or cooking or baking from recipes. Or if it’s your thing watching TV. These simple pleasures can be enjoyed from your own apartment or house.

In the coming season with the encroaching arctic freeze of late I recommend staying inside and doing things like listening to music or cooking.

You really don’t need a lot of money to be happy.

I make the case for installing iTunes on a computer and listening to music to cheer up our spirits in the coming gloomy cold weather.

I’ll end here by saying that gratefulness goes a long way in feeling good when parts of your life are not so good.

And face it: when it’s cold outside baby who wants to trudge outdoors in the snow.

Music can be a companion to our days. It can lift us up. It can take us to a better place.

It’s said that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I say: finding what gives you joy (whether music or something else) and going and doing that makes us richer too.

Never Broken

I will rave forever about singer-songwriter Jewel’s new book Never Broken because it stands alone in a genre I call humanitarian literature. Her dignity and compassion are rooted in the trauma she experienced as a young kid. I told the audience in an acceptance speech for a volunteer of the year award that if I could turn my pain into a thing of beauty for other people I will have done my job.

Alas: Jewel has done this brilliantly, and there’s no comparison. We are both artists and authors. I can sketch and paint yet I can’t carry a tune. If I started to sing I might kill cockroaches. That might be a good thing depending on where you live.


The Lost Gospel of Thomas verse 70 tells us: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

I referenced this in my own words in Left of the Dial in a scene where I returned home after a failed drug holiday. My own words alongside this quote were: “What you resist persists.”

Jewel in her bright and luminous memoir Never Broken: Songs are Only Half the Story lists under her principle: Let go of shame: “We cannot change what we are unwilling to bring into the light of day.”

Everyone on earth is born with gifts to use to better ourselves and others in the world. I have said this so often I must sound like a broken record. Failing to use our gifts and keeping them buried is the greatest loss of all: a loss to ourselves and our ability to have a better life; a loss to humanity that will not ever experience the best we have to give.

Jewel was born beautiful outside yet on the inside where it counts she has reached into a gorgeous milieu of resilience and strength and courage to give us the most inspirational story.

Hope=healing. And Jewel’s book offers hope to all of us who struggle with a challenge.

Mix Tape

In the early 1990s you’d make a mix tape of songs you recorded on an old-fashioned cassette tape. You’d meet a person in a club and he’d send you a mix tape of his band.

This was the prelude to a playlist on iTunes.

The chapter titles of Left of the Dial are mostly song titles, and they’re short, catchy titles.

I present here the “mix tape” of the songs should you want a soundtrack to the book. The songs have lyrics that relate to what was going on in my life in the chapters.

Everybody Knows – Leonard Cohen
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
Head Like a Hole – Nine-Inch Nails
Cotton Crown – Sonic Youth
Crazy – Seal
Roadrunner – Modern Lovers
November Spawned a Monster – Morrissey
Hybrid – Siouxsie and the Banshees
Transmission – Joy Division
Too Much – Fetchin’ Bones
Personality Crisis – New York Dolls
Chill Blue – the Chills
Walk On – U2
Just Like Honey – Jesus and Mary Chain
Funky but Chic – David Johansen
Unwell – Matchbox 20
Mysterious Ways – U2
I Wanna Be Sedated – the Ramones
Left of the Dial – the Replacements
London Calling – the Clash
Regret – New Order
Into a Swan – Siouxsie
Wonderwall – Oasis

Using Music To Power Through

I used to be a disc jockey on the FM radio in the 1980s.

This first career was a labor of love–I wasn’t paid to do it–yet it set in motion the events of my life in the future. I recommend all young people try to do something positive like this. It will power a person through to the rest of his or her life. It can be a kind of therapy when you’re faced with oncoming symptoms.

Even now, I recommend doing things that give you positive reinforcement. One guy watches sports games. Years later, I listen to music on the radio and iTunes. I recommend installing iTunes on a computer so you can listen to [mostly free] radio stations. Zeilsteen in the alternative genre is good.

In a flash one day it hit me to install Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” At first, I accidentally installed the Sex Pistols version of “My Way” and then I found out they re-created it with new lyrics that butcher the song’s intent.

The original version of “My Way” is the perfect antidote to stigma in my estimation. Listening to it can help us soldier on; to remember we’re beholden to no one else in society to prove our worth to; that we need not seek other people’s approval.

I recommend that you do things YOUR way–in your version of the “My Way” that Frank Sinatra sings about.

Old Blue Eyes was right on the money. Here’s to you, Frankie.

I’ll end here that about five years ago a New York Times article reported on the high number of “Sinatra-cides” that happened in the Phillipines when “My Way” was belted out during Karaoke. People singing this song were actually killed. Numerous clubs banned the use of “My Way” as a result.

Google the lyrics to this song if you don’t want to buy it. I find this song to be truly uplifting.

Music can be one of the joys of life. It can give a person positive reinforcement.

Take that, stigma.