Posts Tagged ‘Ann Arbor’

Bumpy Landing

Life’s major transitions are often messy. When (halfway between two marriages) I finally gave up playing the field, that was a major transition. And majorly messy.

Two Trees

In the world of Genesis, knowing the difference between good and evil seems to be a bad thing. Adam and Eve develop what in English we call modesty, the sense that some things should stay private, which they experience as embarrassment. And somehow that makes them God-like. And even more confusingly, God treats this as a bad thing, objecting as if He were afraid of the competition. What a thematic mess, at least for a modern-day Christian!


The cathartic quality of Purple Rain spoke directly to me. I could dare to recognize now that I had been engineering my own catharsis. And so for that night Purple Rain was my anthem.

Bat’s Squeak

I knew now that I had a susceptibility. I might never act on it, but I had it. What I did not have, it soon emerged, was a job.

Lovesick on the Shop Floor

The first car may frequently be more important in a young man’s life than the first sex. Sometime in the first two weeks of May 1969, my dad bought me mine, a well-used blue Chevrolet Nova. The car finally necessitated that I get a job, in order to pay for insurance. The following Monday I was at the gate of the Grove Street plant of the Ford Motor Company.

An Empty Room, Green Trolleys, and Brubeck

However, for sheer guillotine-like intensity and definitiveness of severance, nothing in our society, short of divorces and funerals, begins to compare to the moment when parents leave kids off at college for the first time.

Summertime, Betwixt and Between

The summer after my graduation was perfect. I wasn’t working; couldn’t find any. So I kept my own hours — noon to 3 a.m., working on the Great American High School Novel. Only problem: I really had nothing to say about high school. But I think my inchoate hope was that by making sense of it all through fiction, I could still get the girl to love me.

An Unexpected Open Door

That was kind of the impression I got of Dorothy Ashby’s harp – that she had some abnormal number of fingers and strings to syncopate with. It was a preternatural experience. Which, come to think of it, is exactly the kind of thing orchestrators rely on harps to convey anyhow. I wanted to locate things that no one else knew were there, not just my parents but my contemporaries. Developing a taste for something obviously objectively very good, not just an affectation, which no one else I knew even knew about, that was one way to do it.


Damn! This was stereo! I just kept playing it. I’d keep coming back to those two speakers and the fact that I could close my eyes and lose myself in an imaginary space. I was so taken with the sound that the music almost didn’t matter to me for a while. Eventually I stopped listening to the sound and started paying attention to the record. I’m not sure I found the music overwhelming. I think the effect was subtle, like the very sound of the bossa nova itself. Still that rich Nelson Riddle orchestral palette elucidated part of the truth about bossa nova, which is that, while it may be quiet and subtle, it’s often about passion and excitement. It’s not just in the breathless frustrated eroticism of The Girl From Ipanema On this very album you can hear Surfboard, which somehow captures the thrill of waiting for and then riding a wave.And then there’s Samba Do Avião, which is about riding a plane coming in for a landing at Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão Airport, and looking down at the town as one goes.

The Ground Was Shaking

Standing on that field under a darkening, cold sky, with the indomitable sound of those drums and tympani shaking the earth, mischance is being defied. For a moment at least, Michigan, and I as one of its fans, are transcendent. The universe is ours. Go Blue!