If you are not me as you are reading this page, then I say "How the hell did you get here?"

Dec 24, 2010

Goodbye to 2010 - Hello 2011: A Christopher Walken Odyssey

Why not celebrate the end of 2010 by playing a music link in the background while you contemplate the wonders of life?

These wonders of life I believe include your blessings and experiences that you have already had and those about to be.

I just found this great picture file of Christopher Walken in space from the site called Mighty Optical Illusions.


So I say check out Chris as he moves forward on his interstellar quest for more cowbell while you listen to some tunes. I dig these two for starters:

The George Russell Sextet playing an excerpt from Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature

and also

Iron Butterfly playing their Iron ButterflyTheme

If you hold the Ctrl (Control) key down while you click on the link, the tune should automatically begin playing in the background while Chris does his thing.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

philosopher chris

Dec 8, 2010

Losing Lennon, Dad, Donald, and Tommy - RRA's Nostalgic Road Trip 1980 - 1996 - 2010

1996 was a really tough year for me because in short order I lost three very close friends.
Strike One.

My dad died in August after battling cancer for 2 years.
Two nights before he died I attended a King Crimson show in Philadelphia with my friend Steve.

We had a great time that night. I believe it was the last night of the KC tour and through Steve's friendship with Bill Bruford, we had received back stage passes and we gave BB a ride to his hotel. Perhaps the relief I felt at getting away from my father's illness if only for one night may have lessened the heaviness of losing him two days later.

Here I am with my father in the early 1990s.
Strike Two.
Donald King, the father of my childhood friends David and Julie and Doug King, who along with his wife Ellen were classmates of my parents at the Peabody Institute of Music, passed away a few weeks later in November of a heart attack.

Donald King in our dining room Winter 1986-1987

Donald King and my Dad in David and Patti King's Reservoir Hill backyard late 1986 or thereabouts.


He always reminded me of Ross Martin (Artie in The Wild Wild West) and he was (like my father) a great cook and a talented organist and a funny guy.
Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon and Robert Conrad as Jim West in The Wild Wild West.

Strike three.

Then in December for the first time I experienced the loss of one of my earliest childhood friends. Thomas Kent Winchester died of cancer at the age of probably 43 or 44.

He was born on December 11th  in the early 1950's. When he passed away, the date was 11 days after his birthday on December 22nd. He was one of the people that I would always consider to be like a brother to me. Being that I have always been an eternally young and lonely, only child, I have always welcomed the bonds that I have had with friends like Tom.
We grew up together playing baseball and football and trading baseball cards. I had never met anyone like him before. He was like a mogul when it came to collecting things. He used to buy Topps cards by the box. He bought candy bars by the box. For years he got so excited about Christmas that he would find out where his parents had hidden his presents.
On his yearly pre-Christmas holiday undercover-special ops task, he would penetrate the perimeter of his parents' bedroom. He would traverse the closet door defense and then silently unwrap the gift boxes, and then he would put them back in the wrapping paper and return them to the closet vault. He did this because HE HAD TO KNOW what he was going to get, and he always liked life when it was on his terms.

His lifelong passion for collecting things like his Beatles collection and his sports trading cards came in handy. As he grew older, he began to shed his collecting bug. In his later years these pop culture possessions  were akin to stocks and bonds as they allowed him to cash in these items as needed to survive.

Like many kids in our age range, we were Beatles fanatics and we listened to their music and we really knew the catalog. The songs were religious hymns in our church of pop culture. We made Christmas ornaments together, and went shopping for albums and 45s in downtown Baltimore, and we ate a lot of pizza, and lots of other fun stuff and I’m sorry he didn’t live a longer life. He died too young, and unfortunately he grew up in a family atmosphere where there was a strong preference for smoking. Many of the photos that I have of Tom show him with a cigarette in one hand.


As fate would have it, the Beatles Mono Box arrived today on December 8th 2010, and it is an early Christmas present for me waiting to be played. It was Tommy Winchester who called me from Idaho that Monday night on December 8, 1980. He wanted to let me know that Lennon had been murdered. To hear that brutal news from him made it "official" given all the positive quality time that we had spent together, and much of it accompanied by the music of our heroes the Beatles. We had experienced a loss in our family, and we needed to share the loss of Lennon.

Tom Winchester was a true friend and such a character like most of my friends from Baltimore, and I thought I should post a photo of "Kent" today. In his later years he preferred to be called by his middle name with the family ties to the Eastern Shore, but to me he will always be Tom.

Tom and Randy

For a short time when I first became a huge fan of The Who, I thought that TKW enjoyed the rock opera Tommy only because it had the same name that he had. I was wrong.
All I can say right now to TKW is “Merry Christmas” and to ask of him, “Tommy, can you hear me?”

The link above is from The Who live at Tanglewood in 1970 performing "Christmas".

Here are two frame grabs of everybody's favorite rock drummer Keith Moon playing in the above You Tube link.


Keith is so excited about playing "Christmas" that he is jumping out of his seat three different times to maximize the impact of his sticks upon the second cymbal crash before the arrival of each part of the lyrics as the song goes forward! The Who during their peak years were undeniably POWERFUL. They were funny and ferocious, incredibly symphonic, always emotional, bombastic and in-your-face, sensitive and confessional, essential, meaningful, and heavy and timely, and that's why I loved them so.

Like all the things that I love deeply and care about, I still do.

Dec 3, 2010

RRA as a hybrid: one part Aurora model, one part pitchman for healthy eating. (More goofy bits for laughs)

You're getting hungry.........very hungry. I want to sell you my breakfast bar!


iTunes day one - Streaming Beatles First Concert November 16, 2010 12:35 PM

On Tuesday November 16, 2010 the Beatles finally made it to digital download on iTunes.
I sat down just before noon to watch some of the free streaming video of the Beatles first concert in Washington, DC.
Here are some frame grabs from the video stream that I watched that day on iTunes.

It never fails to amaze me that even as I get older, there continues to be new milestones that mark the impact of the Beatles upon pop culture.


Dec 1, 2010

December 1, 1974 .... I remember it well.

December 1, 2010

Tonight is the 36th anniversary of a wonderful event. Unfortunately for my friend Chuck, he had tickets to a concert that we all wanted to see and he was unable to attend because he was going on a family trip out of state. I was able to buy his tickets and I brought my friend Mike with me to see Genesis with Peter Gabriel perform the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre. In the early 1970’s, rock music fans who enjoyed progressive rock were really spoiled by the variety and high quality of theatrical presentations and musical concepts. Although fans take heat from the "in crowd" when it comes to 70's Prog,  The Lamb remains one of the greatest rock concept albums ever created and one of the best shows that I ever attended. Tonight I remember the amazing time that we had. I’m sorry that Chuck could not go, and I am grateful that I could be there.

A few years ago in 2004, on the 30th anniversary of its release, I went with my friend Jamie to hear a Genesis tribute band called The Musical Box perform the complete Lamb using period instruments and pedals. It was remarkably like the original presentation. The verisimilitude was assisted by the tribute band having obtained the permission of Genesis to use the original slides and some props in the recreation. 

Picture 1 -
Although my picture below of the interior of the hand out that concert goers received when attending the Lamb concerts in 1974-75 is "blown out" and over-exposed from the flash, I find it to be wholly appropriate to the feeling that the audience had when the stage lighting pointing at the audience went off just like a pair of massive flash bulbs. This occured when these lyrics from Lilywhite Lilith were sung:
" ..two golden globs float into the room and a blaze of white light fills the air."


Picture 2 - This is my ticket stub and a (slightly) more legible view of the inside layout of the concert handout. It replicates the content that is found on the inside of the album gatefold cover.


Picture 3 - Back in 1974 or thereabouts, the recent Genesis catalog releases were repackaged. Here is a shot of the Genesis Collection Two box which housed a poster and the British import lps of Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound with the Lamb handout and my ticket stub just above it.



Genesis performs "The Waiting Room" a.k.a. "Evil Jam" live from the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour at the Shrine Auditorium L.A., CA in 1975

updated 12 10 2010
updated 12 11 2010

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