Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Incident At Milepost 49

The HoJo at Oakmont looked just like this

             Lately, I haven't been posting much for reasons that really don't matter but have resulted in my going through some of the essays and other writing that I've had laying around for a long time. Over the years, I've accumulated a trove of mediocrity that I once thought was pretty good. At some point, everyone even semi-serious about writing imagines their masterpieces being featured in the New Yorker or some other lofty publication and I was no different. But most of my stuff was written with no idea where it could possibly find the light of day. I paid no attention to any of the advice every aspiring writer gets on researching markets and how to appeal to editors or anything else that might have at least gotten me some encouraging rejection slips. So now I've decided that if none of this stuff is ever going to make me a member of the next Algonquin Round Table, I'm foisting it off from time to time on whoever runs across this blog accidentally in the course of surfing for pornography.
           The first of these I've rewritten so many times I can't stand it anymore. It was intended originally for some now defunct online magazine in Pittsburgh and I think I was encouraged by most of the previously published pieces being worse. I'm not sure Thurber would have gotten very far, either, if his mantra had been, "Shit, I'm not that bad."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Duke's Place

Duane "Duke" Wareham

            This is a post I've been meaning to do for a long time. If you've read my "About Me" page, and made it to the end, you would know that at Springdale, Pennsylvania, High School, I played in a jazz big band that was then known as the "Mellowmen" and for every member it was the musical equivalent of being a star athlete. I made it into this group my sophomore year and by the time I graduated in 1970, the continued presence of females meant the band would eventually have to find a new name since "Mellowpersons" just wouldn't cut it so later editions were known simply as the Jazz Ensemble.
            It's not a stretch to say that being a part of this outfit is what got me through high school. (Most memories of these years that don't involve music cause a state that can only be relieved by judicious applications of medicinal spirits.) Of all my life's experiences, playing in the Mellowmen has probably had the most lasting and profound effect, except for the ones that filled me with bitterness and resentment so I guess I should say it had the most positive effect. It helped to create a passion for music, particularly jazz, that's never left me and was a big part of the reason I retired early to earn the music degree I'd wanted all along. Most of this was thanks to one guy in particular.