POST 40 Here We Are Now,,,,,,

nirvana…entertain us.


Did you read the scientific report, based on analytical data, that named Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the most iconic song of all time?  Now I have nothing against the song. In fact, it is the ringtone for our son Michael on my cellphone, even though he hasn’t been a teenager for a dozen years. But I looked up the definition of an icon, and church images not withstanding, it means “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.” So this is the most representative symbol of music ever? Because of “analytical data”? As any SABREmatrician loving baseball fan will tell you, sometimes you just have to watch the game.

In the arts, agreeing on an icon of just about anything is a near impossible task. While it may be achievable for some one hit wonder novelty band (for example, the “Archies” will always be known for “Sugar, Sugar”)  I would think that the more successful a a particular artist is, the harder it would be to pick out the one piece that defines them. Take Frank Sinatra or the Beatles, Meryl Streep or Picasso. There is no way to agree on a single work that these artists will be eternally remembered for. Each evolved in their calling, tried on different shoes, never allowing one pair to get too comfortable. I thought  Bob Dylan might be an exception, that despite his lengthy career and varying styles, everyone would agree that “Like a Rolling Stone” was his masterpiece. But a quick Internet search turned up 10 “Best of Dylan” lists, with 10 different songs at number one.  And no mathematical formula to tell us which list is best!

So what does any of this have to do with building our house? Well, we drove through the sub-division last night, and discovered that Thorngate does have an icon. And it is…..the muntin. I can already hear some of you asking “What is a muntin?” Muntins, for the architecturally naive among you*, are the wood strips that separate the glass in a window into several smaller panes. They have been around since the 16th century, and if you live in Thorngate, you gotta have ’em on your windows. They are, and there is no other way to say it, iconic! So with the concordance of the holy trinity (Barb, our architect, and the Homeowners Review Committee), have ’em we will!

So a year from now, when I look out at a gray and rainy day like today, I will be looking past our muntins. And probably humming “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Have a good weekend, all.

*don’t worry, before we started this project that included me.


POST 36 Sir or Madam….

beatles…..will you read my book.

Paperback Writer

The Beatles — 1966

If you are a young boy growing up in the 60’s in Chicago and you want to be a hockey player you idolize Hull and Mikita. If you dream of becoming a baseball All Star you either go to Wrigley to watch Ernie slug,  or you go to Comiskey to watch Little Luis field. Want to be in the movies?  You imitate cool Paul Newman or deadly Sean Connery. See a future as a newspaper columnist? You religiously read Holtzman and Bombeck. Wait, did he just say “Bombeck? Erma Bombeck??”

Anyone remember Erma? If you do, it is probably as a contributor to Good Morning America palling around with Joan Lunden and David Hartman. I never caught the show, being a loyal Today Show viewer, but Erma and I go way, way, back. In the 60’s Erma was a syndicated columnist whose “At Wit’s End” column appeared 3 or 4 times a week in the Chicago Sun-Times.  She was documenting the life of a suburban mom, a “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,”  but with a little more bite. And this is what a city kid from Rogers Park wanted to read about? I must have been having visions of what my life would eventually become. Well not a suburban MOM exactly, but you know what I mean.

Certainly there were other columnists I could choose from. Jerome Holtzman was a sports writing legend. Art Buchwald pointed his finger at the odd doings in pre-Watergate Washington, D.C.  Mike Royko did the same for Chicago and the first Mayor Daley. And in contrast to Erma, Royko was always so ^&#$%^ angry. So I settled in with Mrs. Bombeck and learned about suburbia.

Instant karma’s going to get you. Barb and I, suburban parents and grandparents,  building our third home and hoping to keep a sense of humor about it. This week we are dealing with windows; picture windows are nice, but we want real windows that we can open to let a spring breeze in. We are hunting for  an exterior stone that won’t break the budget, either ours or the U.S. Treasury’s. The architect has sent a drawing entitled “Down spout other info.” If I post it here, maybe someone can tell me what all the “other info” is.

Sometimes it seems painful, but the house will get built. In the meantime, I will just keep posting to ease the pain. And wonder what Erma would have had to say about all this.

Have a great weekend.

POST 23 I’m Not Trying to Cause a Big S-s-s-sensation…

the who“hope I die before I get old.”   Those must be the worst lyrics in all of music history. I imagine that 50 years after writing them, Pete Townsend  has some second thoughts. In contrast, our past few days have been all about life and family,  “L’dor v’dor”, from one generation to the next.

Yesterday, I ran the SEA Blue Prostate Cancer Awareness Run in Lincoln Park. Thanks to all who helped me smash my fund-raising goal. But the biggest treat was getting to run with Laury as we remembered my dad, Laury’s grandfather. By “running with” I mean watching her get smaller and smaller in the distance as she put a few miles between the two of us. It didn’t help that I  managed to get lost on a course with hundreds of runners, signs every 300 feet, and bright blue painted arrows on the pavement. I must have been daydreaming about construction schedules and the appearance of stone vs. brick.

Barb and I also had the chance to relish a full 24 hours of grandparent babysitting as Mike and Becca moved to their new home in Buffalo Grove. Their choosing to stay in the area, and our choosing the same with our new home, will allow us to enjoy this newest generation for many years to come. No question that family is the mortar, whether we choose brick OR stone.

Finally, in temple today I was overwhelmed by the number of babies and small children worshiping and welcoming the new year. Heritage is something that outgrows a single family tree, creating  an orchard that last from harvest to harvest to harvest. I know the home we are leaving has contributed to that orchard, and I hope our new home will as well.

A bit sentimental on this special day, but don’t worry, I can still play a mean pinball!

Don’t tilt, and I will catch you all on the next game. In the meantime, how about telling me what the worst lyrics that YOU can think of are!