10 favorite songs on a given day

Good Vibrations label

Every year for a while now, I’ve participated in a poll at musicradio77.com to choose the top 77 songs of all time.

The site is devoted to the memory of ABC, the dominant Top 40 radio station in New York City at 770 AM while I was growing up in what is laughingly referred to as rural New Jersey. People vote on their favorite songs, which are posted the week after Christmas.

Some of my entries are always the same, while others change from year to year. I often do it off the top of my head, knowing I’ll remember one or more as soon as I irrevocably click “Submit.” This year I realized, too late, that I’d forgotten my favorite band, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and that I had waxed poetically on several occasions recently about “Ripplin’ Waters.”

Whatever. Here is the list I submitted this year, a list of my favorite recordings on one snapshot of a day in late November 2017.

1. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

2. The Word – Sara Groves

3. Devil With A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

4. Born On The Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival

5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles

6. (Just Like) Romeo and Juliet – The Reflections

7. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

8. Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu – Johnny Rivers

9. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James & The Shondells

10. You Just May Be The One – The Monkees


What makes a watershed day

US Post Office Little Falls NJ

I still remember riding my bike past the post office on my way home Nov. 22, 1963.

Over the course of millenia, certain days have established themselves as watershed moments in history. Everything that came before that day is different than everything that came after – more or less. We wake up in one world and go to sleep in a different one.

Nov. 22, 1963, is one of those days. I was 10 years old, and it’s the second day of my life that I remember precisely right down to the date. It was a cold but sunny day, and Mrs. Kearns wasn’t in front of her fifth-grade class at Little Falls, New Jersey, School No. 1. We had a substitute teacher – a very old substitute teacher. She was very nice, but she was … old. We kind of spent the day yanking her chain.

Somewhere around 1:30, the principal, Mr. Laux, stepped into the classroom, which was very unusual. He looked very grim, and he told us that the president had been fatally shot that afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

That was when it became interesting that the substitute teacher was very old. After the news sank in, she started talking about another sunny day back when she was a little girl. She remembered walking past the train station in her hometown when a man started shouting over by the water tower by the tracks, where the steam engines were refilled with water.

The guy was shouting, “President McKinley has been shot!”

It has occurred to me that we are all walking, talking time machines. On Nov. 22, 1963, I encountered a time machine that took me back to a sunny day in September 1901 – and now that story has reached forward 116 years and into your head.

President John Kennedy was not the only historic man who died that November day in 1963. Aldous Huxley, the great philosopher and novelist who gave us “Brave New World,” died in Los Angeles at the age of 69. And C.S. Lewis, chronicler of Narnia and author of many other great fiction and nonfiction books, died in Oxford, England, one week before his 65th birthday.

Nov. 22, 1963, would be a momentous day even if all that happened were these three prominent deaths. But it became one of those watershed days – when the world turned course completely – because of something that happened that day that was not as sad.

You see, on Nov. 22, 1963, in the United Kingdom, a record album was released … called “With The Beatles.” It was reworked into “Meet The Beatles” for U.S. audiences, and it became the portal that introduced most Americans to those game-changing musicians.

All these incidents combined make the date a watershed. Before and after Nov. 22, 1963, are wholly different worlds.

Weary of fear? Just stop


Every message — OK, maybe not EVERY message – most messages, a vast majority, seem to be steeped in fear nowadays.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep people afraid and clamoring to be rescued, after all, as H.L. Mencken succinctly put it.

But it’s not just politics. Most headlines, most ads, most politics begins with something scary.

“You’re scared? Me, too. That’s why I turned to (insert bogus solution here).”

It seems fear sells everything, so the key to success is to scare everyone.

What if we refused to let the fear take us? What if we sought our own solutions rather than accept the ones offered by the fear mongers?

“How do you propose to do that?” you say. But that’s the point: You’re so accustomed to the pattern – propose the scary problem, then sell a solution – that you missed the point. It is not important how I propose to do that. How do YOU propose to move past your fear?

Swallow your fear and find your own solution. You know what to do; you’ve just been snared in the fear trap so long you feel you can’t take action. Take a step, then another, and see where it leads you. Or rather, see where you lead yourself.

Reboots are made for walkin’

12-3-2017 reboot

I thought I’d find you here. You’ve been stuck in the same place for so long it’s easy to find you, waiting for – what ARE you waiting for?

You do know that when what you’re waiting for comes, it won’t change the basics? You will still be who you are.

If you want to change something, don’t wait for some special circumstances or some special person. Start working on it today. That way, you don’t have to wait until what you’re waiting for comes.

It might just turn out that you’ve been waiting for Godot, after all, and then where would you be?

What are you waiting for? Get started.

The Kewaunee County Comet: One year down the road and still chugging along

Kewaunee County Comet 2It was Nov. 30, 2016, that I opened a blog called the Kewaunee County Aggregator to fill what I believed was a gap in local news coverage for the community.

That first day I posted a little introductory column titled “What Have We Here” and links to news releases for the fourth annual Kewaunee Memorial Food Drive, the Kewaunee Grade School Holiday Extravaganza, the Algoma Public Library’s public declaration that the rumors it was closing were balderdash, and Lee Kinnard’s appearance as a speaker at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Atlanta.

After a while I started doing some of my own reporting in addition to aggregating news and information from other sites; I met Todd Lohenry and he constructed the site for the renamed Kewaunee County Comet – so named to harken back to the old Casco High School teams and give a nod to the county’s rich history. This page launched in February, and the rest is becoming history.

The site has slowly but surely gained acceptance as word gets around that there’s someone doing good old-fashioned local news coverage focused solely on Kewaunee County. Although I did snag myself a day job to help pay the bills as the Comet grows, I do aim to see significant enough growth in 2018 to make the Comet more sustainable. (Boy, have I heard that word “sustainable” a lot in the last 12 months …)

More about that in coming days and weeks. For today, I just want to thank everyone who has supported the Comet with your kind comments, your sharing the news that this project exists, and your agreeing to make an investment in local independent online news with a voluntary subscription.

Kewaunee County deserves its own news outlet, and with your help the second year will make the Comet bigger and better. Many, many thanks.

The one with the Beatles comparisons

uwabnrI gave a presentation about the Beatles to the Door County Historical Society on Monday night, and I had some technical difficulties when I tried to give a couple of examples of how the mono and stereo mixes of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band were different. I said I’d post the old Uncle Warren’s Attic podcast when I made the same comparisons, and so here it is!

Click here to reach Uncle Warren’s Attic #8

The Sgt. Pepper stuff is in the first 8-9 minutes. Thanks for coming tonight!

The day things shifted

It’s a bittersweet day for me, personally. It was Oct. 25, 2016, that the corporation told me my days as editor of the Door County Advocate were over, effective immediately. Here’s what I wrote about that the next day.

Of course, it was not the end of my days sharing the stories of this wonderful corner of the universe, and I started turning my attention to Kewaunee County news a month later. Here’s a little bit of those whys and wherefores.

KewauneeComet.com is my little effort to keep community journalism alive here. I admit I feel a little more angry these days, not for me personally but for the communities that once were served by the Algoma Record-Herald, Kewaunee Enterprise, Luxemburg News, Denmark Press, De Pere Journal and other casualties of the last 13 years. For the people who founded those publications, the news was about the community, not the bucks. I’m glad to be away from that mentality and doing my little bit to keep the light shining.