Archive for the ‘Teenagers’ Category
Boy Scouts of America was founded on February 8, 1910.
The BSA is no longer looked upon favorably by some segments of American society. However, I’m grateful that my boyhood experience as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout taught me to Be Prepared. And, even at this stage of my life, I’m still striving to be:
A few reminders which you might find helpful as your kids get prepare for some Halloween fun:
*Feed them a healthy meal before they leave the house.
*Make sure costumes are non-flammable.
*An adult should accompany elementary school-aged kids. Older kids should trick-or-treat in pairs or groups and carry a working cell phone.
*Set a curfew. Stick to it!
*Reminds kids that its hard for drivers to see them even when they can see an oncoming car.
*In neighborhoods where cars are parked on the street, remind kids to not enter the street between two parked cars.
*Trick-or-treaters should carry a flashlight, glow stick, or wear reflector tape on their costume.
*Kids should only approach homes that have lights on or a lighted display.
*For ALL trick-or-treaters, they shouldn’t eat anything until it’s been inspected by a parent.
Although the show has just completed its third season and achieved its highest ratings to date, I’ve never watched it. But I keep hearing references to it. Mostly, on TV. Although I did see a young guy reading a Game Of Thrones paperback the other day.
So, is it a demographic thing? Is the audience for Game Of Thrones essentially the under-30 crowd? I gather that the show contains a lot of sex and violence so is its appeal primarily to young males. Is it to males what the Twilight series is to females? Or is the series more mass appeal than that and the attraction is its study of impact of power, sex, and violence and human relationships?
What exactly am I missing?
Lately, I seem to be having more conversations with my father. I’ll be on a morning walk thinking about some problem or concern and, suddenly, I’ll be asking Dad what he thinks.
Earl Brindle died in December, 2006.
It’s odd because I didn’t have that many conversations with my father when he was alive. Especially, as we both got older.
When my brother and I were kids, Dad always made it a point to be home for a family dinner at 6pm. He would ask us about what we learned in school or about our days and, if we asked him a question, his Dad’s response would be: “Look it up in the World Book”. [ World Book was the Encyclopedia Britanica for families of more modest means in those days but a useful reference source, nonetheless.] Dad’s response became a bit of a family joke. Whenever my brother or I asked a question, Dad would smile and we’d respond, “I know. Look it up in the World Book.”
My father is one of the reasons I ended up in Saratoga Springs. Dad loved to ride horses, a skill he picked up in Wyoming during his stint with the Army Air Forces, and enjoyed watching them race. Along with such sporting events as the Saturday night boxing matches, NY Giants football, and Red Sox baseball, we would always watch the Triple Crown races together. When I moved to Saratoga and took him to our legendary race course in August to watch the morning workouts, he was in heaven. Along with being able to give him a granddaughter who he adored, I’m glad that I was able to give him those experiences at Saratoga Race Course.
On this Father’s Day, I’m grateful for the time that my dad spent with me at the baseball field trying (unsuccessfully) to help me become a better player, trying to teach me (again, unsuccessfully) how to fish, and risking his life and his sanity as he endeavored to teach his 16 year old eldest son how to drive.
I was running errands this weekend and listening to the audiobook of Michael Chabon’s “Manhood For Amateurs” when I was surprised to hear Chabon talking about KFRC-FM, San Francisco and how its format change which essentially eliminated the Motown-British Invasion-Beach Boys music from the station’s playlist had affected him.
Chabon pointed out that most of the songs which he listened to on KFRC were already on his iPod but he observed that his reaction to the music in that context just wasn’t the same. “No medium is so sensuously evocative of the past as radio.”
That particular observation caused a low-level ecstatic reaction within my soul since the majority of my career has been invested in radio broadcasting. The irony, of course, is that I wasn’t listening to the radio in my car. I was listening to an audiobook which was talking about the radio listening experience.
But the real surprise for me was when Chabon mentioned that, while living in the Washington, DC area in 1972, his mother’s favorite radio station was WMOD-FM (“Stereo Gold”). I was an “on-air talent” on WMOD, (OK, a “DJ”) at the time.
In this chapter of “Manhood For Amateurs”, Chabon talks about how he listens to music radio virtually every day and about how that experience impacts his life.
For some reason, I feel grateful
I wrote this a couple of years ago. Mom celebrated her 94th birthday earlier this year. So, I thought it was worth re-posting for this Mother’s Day weekend.
My mother was the first born child of immigrants. She was born Alice Della but has been referred to by her nickname, “Del” for most of her life. Mom’s mother was from England and her father from Canada. Except for a few months during World War II when she and my father lived in Washington state and California, she has always lived in Rhode Island. Mom was the eldest of five kids the youngest of whom she was frequently responsible for babysitting. I always thought that her parenting skills were honed during those days when she was taking care of her little sister and brother.
Mom grew up during The Great Depression and, like many others, her family struggled financially. When she was 15, my mother quit school in order to take a job in her uncle’s mill. I’m not sure how she felt about that but, as an intelligent young woman, I suspect that she wasn’t happy about it. Yet, I’ve never heard her complain about having to quit her education in order to help support the family. She felt it was her duty and she did it.
Mom was raised a Catholic but for reasons about which I’ve never been quite clear decided to leave the Catholic church and began attending youth group meetings at a Methodist church where she met my father. Apparently, the pastor of the church, a Dr. Metzner (sic) was a charismatic man who had a great deal of influence on both my father and mother. I remember them both smiling in obvious enjoyment as they told my brother and I stories about the doctor and their adventures with the youth group. I believe he was the minister who married them.
Mom and dad met when they were 16 and it was apparently love at first sight. Except for the years when Dad was away during World War II, they were never apart. And they always seemed to enjoy one another’s company. Every morning that I can recall, Dad would stroll into the kitchen, bellow “Good morning, Alice Della!”, sweep Mom into his arms and give her an enthusiastic kiss. Her return kiss was just as enthusiastic. It was the kind of overt display of affection which provided a strong sense of security for an impressionable young boy like me.
Like any married couple, they’d sometimes quarrel or disagree often when Dad would take a detour down some unchartered route to see which way it might take us. Mom preferred the known to the unknown but I think that she secretly enjoyed Dad’s sense of adventure. Recently, Mom observed that they’d never had a fight. (Imagine how warped my perspective on married life was coming out of that environment!) .
As was normal in those days, Mom was a housewife. She didn’t even know how to drive. In fact, she didn’t get her driver’s license until she was in her 40s.
However, when I was in elementary school, Mom became the first woman president of the Smithfield (RI) PTA. Smithfield was a small New England town and that was a big deal. My father was well-known in town because of his business activities and members hips in the Lions Club and Volunteer Fire Department but it also made me proud when I saw the respect with which teachers, school principals, and prominent members of the community treated her. My mother is not an ambitious person so I suspect that she was nominated for the PTA presidency by people who wanted someone in the position whose opinions they respected and integrity they trusted.
One prominent memory from my younger days is Saturday nights at our house. As the big sister and surrogate parent, Mom always hosted her younger siblings and their families on Saturday nights. Invariably, we males would congregate in the living room to watch TV and banter with occasional conversation. But I can still see all the women gathered around the dining room table to get my mother’s opinion. It’s not that she sought to impose her opinions on them but that they seemed to value her insights and advice. My observation was that they always thought of my mother as well-grounded and a source of common sense. They trusted her opinion.
Dad died just after Thanksgiving in 2006. After all their years together, it’s hard for her to not have Dad but she’s adapted well and has realized how self-sufficient she really is. With age have come some challenges but she is still surprisingly alert and present. Since I take after my mother and her side of the family, I find this especially encouraging!
I know that everybody feels this way about their mother but my Mom is a very special lady. I’m proud to be her son and especially pleased that I was able to bring a granddaughter into her life.
Sebastian Junger, author of “The Perfect Storm” and “Restrepo”, has created a documentary in tribute to the photography, Tim Hetherington who filmed the video for the documentary version of “Restrepo”. Hetherington was killed in 2011 while accompanying a band of rebels in Libya. Junger’s documentary, “Which Way Is The Front Line From Here” is currently showing on HBO.
While being interviewed about the documentary by Terry Gross on her NPR show, “Fresh Air”, Junger spoke about how he had been at home in Massachusetts when the bombs went off at the Patriot’s Day marathon. He described how he was having a conversation about the attack with a friend when, all of a sudden, he zoned out and his mind transported him back to a vivid recollection of battle scene which he’d witnessed in Afghanistan. The tastes, the sounds, the smells, the emotions of that battle washed over him as though he were actually back at that place at that point in time. The experience lasted for only a few moments and then Junger snapped back into reality.
As I listened to Sebastian Junger describe his experience, I wondered how many other Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were in Boston that day or in Watertown during the Friday morning shootout, if they experienced similar reactions and, if they did, what the impact of those reactions might be on their lives and the lives of those with whom they live.
It was Sunday, February 9th, 1964. Just eleven weeks earlier, America had been shocked and stunned by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. JFK had been a beacon of hope and inspiration for Americans, especially BabyBoomers. But Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun had silenced those hopes and created a void which needed to be filled. That void was filled by The Beatles.
Music industry veteran, Steve Meyer has vivid memories of that moment and he’s graciously allowing me to share them with you:
“We were four guys…I met Paul, I said do you wanna’ join the band, ya’ know? Then George joined, then Ringo joined…we were just a band that made it very, very big, that’s all.” — John Lennon
Yes…very big indeed, once the “Lads from Liverpool” hit our shores and nothing was ever the same.
Their first appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was watched by an estimated 74 million people that Sunday night in February 1964 making it one of the biggest events in broadcast history, and the crime rate in U.S. cities dropped dramatically during the show’s broadcast. It was indeed, as Ed Sullivan used to say, ” A really big show!”
The assault on American radio and charts was equally overwhelming. In the past few decades you’ve all read about the chart accomplishments of such mega-artists as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and others, but they all pale in comparison to this statistic:
For the week ending April 4, 1964 The Beatles had 11 singles on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart, including the first top five slots:
* #1* – Can’t Buy Me Love
* #2* – Twist and Shout
* #3* – She Loves You
* #4* – I Want To Hold Your Hand
* #5* – Please, Please Me
* #31* – I Saw Her Standing There
* #41* – From Me To You
* #46* – Do You Want To Know A Secret
* #58* – All My Loving
* #65* – You Can’t Do That
* #79* – Thank You Girl
Of course if you’re old enough to remember listening to your favorite Top-40 station back then, you remember hearing all these songs and more as the “British Invasion” started. It’s almost impossible to imagine any artist or band being able to monopolize the charts and radio in such fashion today, and I don’t think we will ever see it happen like that again. It was a different time.
Just how much The Beatles changed everything in pop culture has been the subject of many articles, books, TV specials, and now they teach courses on them in many colleges. Prior to The Beatles, Top-40 radio didn’t play album cuts from best-selling artists … not even Elvis at his height.
But when The Beatles released ‘Rubber Soul’ and made the decision there would be no single released from the album for radio or retail (much to Capitol’s dismay originally), radio programmers simply put “Michelle” on their stations along with “I’m Looking Through You,” and about four other tracks from the album. The Beatles ruled at retail and requests, so radio had to respond.
But the fact is, NOBODY had ever achieved that kind of airplay (album tracks) at Top-40 radio previously. The Beatles were the first. Of course ‘Rubber Soul’ wasn’t the only album they released without a single for radio/retail. ‘Sgt. Pepper’ (the first rock “concept” album) didn’t have a single and neither did their double-album, ‘The White Album.’ But it made no difference, they were all over Top-40 radio. Of course the release of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ (and subsequent concept albums by the Stones, Who, etc.) gave birth to the notion that the radio audience might want to hear more than just singles and great radio men in Boston, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, and elsewhere, put FM stations on the air that played albums and “progressive radio” (the forerunner of all album radio that followed) was born.
Before The Beatles, there was no such thing as “stadium rock.” Nobody had ever played arenas or stadiums before 1964. But The Beatles sold out Shea Stadium, Candlestick Park, and other stadiums around the country in mere hours after tickets went on sale, shocking those in the press and media who predicted the shows by the group (“a fad” as they were called back then) wouldn’t sell tickets in those quantities. I was lucky enough to see them at Carnegie Hall, Forest Hills, and at both Shea concerts. The word mania doesn’t begin to describe what occurred the minute The Beatles took the stage.
Long before MTV hit the air (thirteen years to be exact), The Beatles made a TV film called ‘Magical Mystery Tour.’ Though the critics in the UK panned it for the most part, in hindsight one can watch it and realize it was merely a long-form video with five separate concept videos to support their new songs. They were years ahead of the curve in realizing how music and video could be merged for greater audience.
Another amazing fact: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ was recorded in four-track. Yup, that’s right. Four track. Listen to it today and you realize what an engineering masterpiece it is, and how many tracks had to mixed down and on top of each other to make the final recording. Many albums made today use dozens more tracks and updated technology … but sonically, Pepper remains a masterpiece.
I could go on and on … I’ve been a Beatles fan for these past 49 years. I never imagined that night I watched them on the Ed Sullivan show that within five years I’d be lucky enough to get a job working for Capitol Records selling Beatles records, and then promoting them to the very radio stations I grew up listening to. When I worked for Capitol Records in 1970 and 1971 in New York City I was fortunate enough to meet John Lennon briefly. The first time I talked to him I got “mealy mouth,” was nervous, and he asked me what was wrong. I mumbled and then said,” I … I watched you on Ed Sullivan …” And he said, “Ah…well, that was The Beatles thing and all that … I’m just John now … so tell me what kind of music do you like?” We talked until the wee hours of the morning and I walked back to my apartment on a cold December morning with my mind racing.
The Beatles created the soundtrack for our lives back in the ’60’s and each song they sang made us feel like the wait wasn’t going to be too long, and that sooner rather than later, we’d all be on our way to better lives. Maybe that’s been only partly true, but it’s what we all wanted to believe because their music made us feel such things. So we sang their songs loud, proud to claim them as “our own.” But we should’ve known they belonged to the whole world and that the world we lived in was moving away from innocence.
John was right…they were a “band that made it very, very big.”
They were all that … and a whole lot more. A helluva lot more.
The closest I ever came to meeting a Beatle was when I was about five feet away from Paul McCartney as he left the premier of his movie, “Give My Regards To Broad Street”. We had eye contact for a few seconds. He didn’t look happy.
I also had the chance to hang out one night with John Lennon’s son, Julian. Unfortunately, I blew it. The realization that I was actually spending time with a Beatles’ son left me tongue-tied. While I should have been having a pleasant conversation focused on him, his opinions and aspirations, I was too busy second-guessing myself so that I wouldn’t come across like a dim-witted fan. Too bad. Turned out that Julian’s a pretty nice, down-to-earth guy.
Stephen Meyer is a music industry veteran who has served in executive positions for several music labels including as National Promotion Director for Capitol Records from 1976-1983. You can subscribe to his weekly music industry newsletter at http://stevemeyer.webs.com/
Paul Greenberg, author of the customer relationship management book, CRM At The Speed of Light, cites a recent blog post about an observation from the IBM Institute of Business Value’s 2012 CEO Study which states, “ The view that technology is a driver of efficiency is outdated; CEO’s now see technology as an enabler of collaboration and relationships-those essential connections that fuel innovation and creativity.” Greenberg notes, “This leads CEO’s to see that the three most important areas for creating sustained economic value are (in order) human capital, customer relationships and products/ services innovation. We are seeing the beginnings of more distributed organizations to handle these transformations.”
So, what does this mean for us Alpha Boomers? We keep hearing that the business community has been reconsidering its attitude towards that part of the work force which is seasoned in our favor although the evidence remains slim. We certainly bring a lot of expertise to the table when it comes to establishing and maintaining positive relationships with customers. And, although Alpha Boomers may not be in the top quintile of Early Adopters when it comes to technology, we are certainly more open to embracing innovative new technologies that have been previous generations.
But, as a story in the New York Times noted this past weekend, the latest economic recession hurt we Boomers more than it did Millennials or members of Gen Y. A woman quoted in the article observed that employers are afraid to hire Baby Boomers because they’re concerned that they might have a negative impact on the company’s health insurance premiums and that it might not be worth investing in training Boomers due to the possibility that they’d leave the company in five years. Personally, I find the concern about leaving the company to be a bit disingenuous since a three years is considered long-term commitment nowadays.
However, in a recent editorial, the journalist Thomas Friedman observed that “everyone who wants a job now must demonstrate how they can add value” better than the above-average software, automation, robotics, cheap labor and cheap genius that’s available to companies these days. It’s going to require individual initiative on each of our parts to develop 21st century skills which compliment new technology and, as Friedman notes, will require us to combine our PQ (passion quotient) and CQ (curiosity quotient) with our IQ (intelligence quotient) to find or invent jobs along with a commitment to consistent learning and re-learning.
So, it seems to me that a challenge to Alpha Boomers will be to make a psychological commitment to stay fit in body, mind and spirit and to do the math so that we’re able to create a cost/ benefit analysis for potential employers which honestly compares the cost of hiring us over a three year period to the cost of hiring a younger worker.