Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We Have No Secrets: Carly Simon & Harry Connick, Jr.

Sometime in 1989 or 1990 I was a first year law student.  I would occasionally drive 2 hours to my cousin's suburban home in Morton Grove, IL, for some home cooking and face-time with my godson.  My departure from Notre Dame those weekends sealed my persona as an outsider in law school.  Nevertheless, I appreciated the escape (try living in a graduate dorm in the winter; it is the nadir of miseries).  My little cherub nephew, a warm living room, a clean and readily available washer and dryer to do my laundry in peace.  And HBO.  My cousin had premium cable and I was able to be a couch potato for a couple days.

One night I was flipping channels in his living room and I came across an intimate performance pairing Carly Simon and then-hot newcomer Harry Connick, Jr. (who had just put out the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack).  I watched what I could, perhaps the last 40 minutes or so, and found myself transfixed by Carly's beauty and talent.  This song never left my memory; the clapping hands providing the timekeeping, and Harry on double-bass.  The performance disappeared, evanescent, and I never saw it again.  Until I searched for it and found it on YouTube today.*  It is exactly as I remember it.

*In fact, I searched for it on the very same YouTube a few years ago, to no avail, so it's appearance, finally, is a nice turn of events.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Walter Cronkite's View of the 21st Century

I don't know if you realize it, I barely did, but we are fourteen years deep into the 21st Century.  At no time in my life have I felt like I lived in the future, but really at every point I in fact have.  Born in 1967 I am indubitably post-modern.

Especially from the Eighties on, I could've stopped, taken a breath, and looked around and said "this is science fiction I'm living in!"  First supersonic flight.  Remote controls.  Microwaves.  Power windows, power mirrors, and power antennas.  VCRs.  Then 24 hour news, 24 hour sports, 24 hour new wave music videos.  Desktop computers with the capacity to store half the information of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  And it progressed from there.  Cellphones.  Laptops.  GPS.  Clones.  A black president (finally)!

But look at the view from the year I was born.  It all seems so quaint.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Magnus Walker: Early Porsche Aficionado and Life Architect

So everyone, especially the male of the species (which means bachelors and OnceWereBachelors), has a vision for their life formed early on, before the restraints of reason and common sense take hold.  If you were to ask boys what their ideal life would look like, I bet we can all speculate accurately about what answers we'd get.

"I want to grow up to be a man of adventure, who travels the world, fights evil, makes lots of money, has a jet plane. And my mom makes me brownies and my favorite spaghetti and meatballs everyday."

"I want to be a scientist who has his own lab and invents things that help the world."

"I want to live on an island with my friends and hunt and fish for food and surf and swim all day."

Whatever that vision is, it involves an element of freedom and desire to be left alone by others - perhaps grown ups - to write one's own script, to be an architect of one's life.  No one envisions a life with a mortgage, private school tuition, and high overhead.

I wonder if, when Magnus Walker was a young kid he said "I want to live in a large warehouse with tastefully wild furniture, and a tattooed bombshell for a wife.  I want to make that warehouse available to Hollywood to use in edgy movies and music videos.  And I want to take the fabulous amount of money I make doing that, and spend it on restoring or modifying dozens of early Porsche 911s.  And I want to not have to bathe or observe norms of male hygiene too much."

If so, his dream came true.  If you have an odd half hour of free time, and you like old cars and interesting living spaces, watch this.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Oh no, Mr. Tate, he can't shoot!"

I can't believe that this blog -- about fathers, fatherhood, and especially now, for me, fathering alone -- has never ever considered Atticus Finch.  A widowed man who is a calm influence, letting his kids kick up a joyful, curious swirl around him.  A man who instructs not by lecture but by example.  A man who blesses his children with both his involvement as well as his absence.  A man whose character is revealed before his children's eyes over three summers in Maycomb, Alabama.

Here is my favorite scene of revelation, as portrayed in the Oscar winning 1962 movie:

So although Harper Lee's story is widely recognized as a meditation on American race relations, for me it is also about how to be a father (and, to a lesser extent, how to be a lawyer).  As part of my Canon, I keep a First Edition Library reproduction in my office, but I never refer to it.  It is only a touchstone, but like my law partner once said, it's a story he never wanted to end.  Fathering is a work in progress, and if one can keep examples like Atticus Finch in one's sights - even when one's glasses slip every now and then - the target will be hit often enough.