Category Archives: Parenthood

Hey You, Get Off Of My Lawn

Grumpy

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There are a lot of people I like.

You know who you are.

All eight of you.

Everyone else?

Eh, not so much.

I have followed a collision course from my younger self and, right on time, became a grumpy middle-aged man.

A combination of Archie Bunker, Frank Costanza, Fred Flintstone and Andy Sipowicz.

Perhaps, on a good day, a little bit of the great curmudgeon philosophers — Bob Dylan and George Carlin — sprinkled in.

And I guess we can’t forget Sonny Corleone, had he not met his premature fate as a younger hothead.

While you’re getting off my lawn and turning down the Justin Bieber noise, keep the following grievances in mind as I dance around my Festivus pole:

1) This “Merry Christmas” Thing: I do know a lot of people from a lot of backgrounds. Life has been good to me that way. And guess what? I know no one — at all — who ever said you can’t say “Merry Christmas.” As matter of fact, even though the holiday is now past us, say it twice and call me in the morning. There are real societal outrages right outside your window. Why create one that doesn’t exist?

2) Road Work At Rush Hour: A necessary evil. I get it. What I don’t get is creating a backup on a major thoroughfare between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. Unless it’s an emergency, go have breakfast at your local diner. Speaking of which …

3) Male Waiters At Diners: I expect to be waited on by an old-school waitress — not waiter — with a bouffant hairdo who calls me “baby” and “honey” and has a natural instinct to fill up my coffee (and remembers I’m a decaf guy) and pre-butters my toast. I have nothing against male waiters in other dining scenarios — like, say, certain authentic ethnic restaurants (even if they are faking the accent for effect) — but we really don’t need the world spinning off its axis any more than what it already is, do we?

4) Casual Cyclists: I’m all for exercise (especially if I’m not the only doing it), but can’t they stick to the bike path? It’s not like we haven’t made them a few hundred to use. As far as I know, if a cyclist is on the road — even if it’s merely to get to one bike path to another on the other side — they are supposed to obey the same traffic laws as a motorist already stuck behind rush-hour roadwork. The next cyclist I see actually yield the right of way — or actually stop at a stop sign — will be the first. And don’t even get me started on the way they hog the roadway, oblivious to the world, once they are on it.

5) Royal Families: They can do what they want in the UK, but we won the Revolutionary War (in all the history books, if you’d like to check). If there any leaves floating about from the John Adams family tree, no thanks. Same for Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bushes. Suggestions of Michelle Obama running are just as bad as those of Chelsea Clinton. And don’t get me started on Ivanka (my eyes just rolled so hard that I got a detached retina). We are better than thinking certain bloodlines are better than others.

6) Guys Who Aren’t Sports Fans But Pretend They Are: You know the type? They show up at a Super Bowl party asking who is playing and then they ask the line (a real sports fan could care less who does or doesn’t cover the spread). Listen, buddy, if you don’t follow sports, that’s fine. Just be upfront about it. I don’t play the stock market. I don’t hunt or fish. I don’t even know how to play poker. I don’t have a woodshop in my house. If you’re into those things, I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to fake my way through a train-to-nowhere conversation. I’m into sports, so don’t insult mine. This is especially if the game in question is a life-or-death scenario involving a Philadelphia pro team or Temple. Speaking of which …

7) Ersatz Dallas Cowboys And/Or Penn State Fans: If you’re from the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area, or if you attended Penn State (or one of its 32,492 satellite campuses), fine. I’ll even be nice about it. I’ll let you slide on Penn State if you are Pennsyltuckian, and maybe even on the Cowboys if you are from a place in the country cursed with no pro team and have a weird fetish about blue stars on silver helmets. Otherwise, for your own safety, keep moving. You are morally bankrupt and spiritually corrupt. Side Note: Villanova is a national basketball program that happens to based on the Main Line. Unless you went there, which probably means you are from North Jersey or Connecticut anyway, zip it.

8) Lincoln Was A Republican: Easy there, cowboy. Not quite. We’ll get into this more down the line, but let’s leave this here for now: Lincoln was a progressive, which is what the Republican party was then but the polar opposite of what it is now.  If you have to go back nearly 16 decades — doing a selective hop, skip and jump over a clear role reversal in between — you don’t have much to go on, do you?

9) Self Checkout: When people in our moral conscience to the north — Canada — are refusing this concept of eliminating minimal wage jobs, it’s mirror time for us in the US. So wrong on so many levels, it’s yet another sign of apocalypse.

10) Unwanted Calls: Don’t tell me about a Do Not Call List. Been there, done that. No such thing. We still live with daily calls from weird numbers (i.e. 111-111-1111). Because I’m me, a stubborn curmudgeon, I sometimes call back and turn the tables. The best joys are when I get someone clearly from a foreign country trying to tell me his name is Tom or Joe — or Archie, Frank, Fred or Andy.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald (www.timesherald.com) on Dec. 30, 2018.

 

 

Soul Saved By ‘Saint’ Sheeran

Sheeran

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — How is this for pretzel logic?

Wildly popular singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran comes from an Irish-Catholic/English-Protestant background, and this lapsed Jew is nominating him for sainthood.

He has performed a miracle.

As soon as Thanksgiving was in the books, Sofia tucked away her Taylor Swift CDs into an alphabetically organized CD wallet and “requested” holiday music be played 25/8 in the car.

And since we are a family thoroughly spoiled by Sirius (commercial-free) radio, we don’t have the patience for any FM channel that may have 12 commercials – and 15 fifteen minutes of babble — between every two songs that we may or may not even want to hear.

Problem is that Sirius spread itself so thin with holiday music channels that my direct bosses, Sofia and her mom, settled on just two: Bad (Channel 3) and Worse (Channel 4).

But, as fate would have it, Hanukkah scheduled itself early this year. By the end of the eight crazy nights, Sofia had been caught up on her Sheeran catalogue.

She was so excited that I was able to put the axis of evil – Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis and the Ray Conniff Singers – on ice.

This isn’t to say Ed Sheeran has a lofty place in my hierarchy of music, but enough songs run from passable (“Shape Of You”) to pretty darn good (“Castle On The Hill”) and his music is playing a vital role by getting playing time in my car in the holiday season.

I even ran out to buy a second version of his new release when the first vanished between the car seats.

All is right with the world.

Even though my soul was saved by St. Ed Sheeran, I was thinking about those of you who still need to navigate through the rest of the season without losing your mind.

There are some wonderful songs of the season, religious and otherwise, but GPS is needed.

As Norristown icon Hank Cisco would say, “If you want to walk on water, you have to know where the rocks are.”

Here are some of the rocks to get you to the other side:

10) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Bruce Springsteen: A nice enough rendition, but it has worn way too thin. It would have been nice if one of the greatest songwriters of all time could have penned his own song of the season. If I can do it (check out “Gray Christmas” at http://www.ingordonville.come), so can my ultimate boss.

9) Hanukkah Song(s) – Adam Sandler: All three versions, with each one funnier than the next, refused to take a holiday that really isn’t that serious too seriously. This is pop culture at its best, with Sandler rattling off – and rhyming – famous, and infamous, Jewish notables. Though comedic, there is a deeper message about breaking down religious barriers without beating anyone over the head.

8) Same Auld Lang Syne — Dan Fogelberg:  The late Fogelberg, who passed away in December of 2007 – and too late to make any of those gone-too-soon lists against the backdrop of somber music – lamented the ironies of life after running into an old flame on Christmas Eve. At the end of the story song, the snow turns into rain. Gets me all verklempt (too emotional to speak) every time.

7) Father Christmas – The Kinks: Not a song you’d go caroling with at your local senior center, but it tells a real tale of poor kids resorting to roughing up a Santa to get the toys that only “the little rich boys” were going to get. A little crass, yeah, but I can dig the intent of songwriter Ray Davies.

6) River – Joni Mitchell: Like the Dan Fogelberg effort above, it’s more a song that paints a picture of the season than preaching about being naughty or nice. In the process, it’s a real nice offering that still resonates.

5) I Believe In Father Christmas Greg Lake: An original song by the lead vocalist of Emerson, Lake and Palmer sends a strong message in a gentle way about the commercialism of Christmas.

4) Christmas On The Block – Alan Mann: This effort from a late Philadelphia singer-songwriter might not be the easiest song to find but it is a beautiful song – especially for those from rowhouse city neighborhoods – that speaks for itself.

3) Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon: The fact that John Lennon was gunned down in cold blood in the holiday season only makes this song all the more powerful. And now, I’m getting all verklempt again.

2) Silent Night – Stevie Nicks: I’m not a Grinch, I’m really not. “Silent Night” truly is a gorgeous song, but it has been brutally mistreated. Stevie Nicks, the high priestess of Gordonville (and pending inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), flat-out owns it.

1) Little Drummer Boy – Bob Seger: You can keep your Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet. Whenever Bob Seger sings, the vocal cords are secondary. It’s all heart and soul, and this version – with a steady and consistent drumbeat (in a song about a drummer, for crying out loud) — is the perfect match of song with singer.

Honorable Mention: Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano); 2000 Miles (Pretenders); Christmas Shoes (NewSong); Christmastime For The Jews (Ronnie Spector); Please Come Home For Christmas (Eagles); Feliz Navidad (Bob Marley); Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Band Aid); Hanukkah Dance (Woody Guthrie); Winterlong (Neil Young); Merry Christmas, Baby (Bruce Springsteen); Wonderful Christmas Time (Paul McCartney); Mistress For Christmas (AC/DC); This Christmas (Donny Hathaway); Christmas In Dixie (Alabama); White Christmas (Otis Redding).

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 15.

Distant Replay: Sandy Hook

sandy-hook

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The best part of my day is picking Sofia up from school.

I relish the moment, knowing the day when she will opt for the long way home – i.e. the bus – looms in the future.

But I never relished it more than last Friday – Dec. 14, 2012.

The full details of the heart-wrenching tragedy in Newtown, Conn. were still not completely clear, but we knew enough.

When Sofia got in the car, she gave a big smile, completely unaware of what happened to other little kids whose parents sent them off to school, not knowing they would never see them alive again.

When I stopped to secure her in her car seat, which is part of the daily routine, there was none of the usual playful banter between us.

Losing the battle to fight back tears, and trying to imagine what those parents in Connecticut must be feeling, I just pulled her close and held on like I never wanted to let go.

It was a small snippet – one played out everywhere in America – in this country’s longest day since Sept. 11, 2001.

For me, that day ended when I got home from work.

Sofia was asleep. Sweet, innocent, unaffected – clutching her Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal – while our two cats, Hank and Licorice, curled up around her.

Unlike 20 precious first-graders, and the school staff members killed with them, she was going to wake up the next day.

I pulled her close again, and had the next of several hard cries – only pierced by therapeutic fierce battles with thick-as-a-brick conservatives on Facebook – that continued through last weekend.

When I took her to school Monday morning, there was a police vehicle on the premises. When I picked her up, it was there again.

Its presence was a sad commentary on the post-Dec. 14 world in which we suddenly live. Even sadder was the fact that I was relieved to see it there.

Welcome to the new normal. We never discussed the events with Sofia last weekend, instead changing the channel from the news to cartoons when she entered the room, but they addressed it at school Monday.

Later that night, she was seen hiding all the figurines in our Christmas village so ‘they would be safe from the bullets.’

She was assured that she had nothing to be worried about.

Where do we go from here in the quest to make that assurance a reality?

Here’s a start: We need to stop asking how these mass shootings can keep on happening in a civilized society.

The truth is that we don’t live in a civilized society.

During the whole ordeal, I was put in mind of those futuristic movies and novels that projected how our culture might be in the 21st century if we don’t have a serious gut-check moment.

And here we are, living it out like some self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s time for some serious soul-searching, and it begins in my own chosen profession of journalism.

The quest for Pulitzers and Peabodys – not to mention ratings and driving traffic to websites – were blatant.

Children who survived, despite being recently scared and permanently scarred, were interviewed. Reporters and anchors talked about the death toll like statistics at a basketball game, waiting to see where it would rank with other recent massacres.

Then we have Hollywood. The gratuitous violence has become so common, seen as so necessary to fill the gaps in mediocre story lines, that our children are undaunted.

They become so numb to it that it is no wonder they don’t act out more often when things don’t go their way.

And then there is the elephant in the room: Gun Control.

Gun advocates began playing defense almost immediately – pointing the finger at mental health, school bullying and armed teachers in every school.

They won’t even concede the obvious, that all of the above – along with social issues like the erosion of the Middle Class – are connected in an unholy alliance.

You can’t resolve one without the others.

You can’t break out your surgeon’s scalpel and carve gun control out of the mix.

This is no time to cling to your guns, or your religion.

If we need God in school, like some say, then we need God at the gun shows, too. We need God in places like our own state, where it is easier to get a gun than a driver’s license.

President Barack Obama, clearly moved by the tragedy, was feared and smeared as someone who was going to ‘take your guns away’ in his first term, as part of a greater left-wing conspiracy to ‘take your country’ from you.

Now, in his second term, with the specter of Newtown, Conn. happening just easily in Norristown, Pa. or Your Town, it appears the same sane president bold enough to give us semi-humane health care is ready to go where no president has gone before with gun control.

By forming a task force charged with getting answers sooner than later, he would be giving your country back.

Not only to us, but to our children.

So, this season, let us drop the inane debate over whether to say ‘happy holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas.’ Unless you are abnormal – and I concede a lot of you are not (one whacky ‘Christian’ zealot already muttered that it was God’s wrath for gay marriage) – there is nothing to be merry or happy about.

For all the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning Tuesday, or those already given out during the eight nights of Hanukkah, there is only one gift to give this year.

It is the promise to work together for a better world – that civilized society where these tragedies are not supposed to happen – and where we hold our kids out of love and joy, not fear and sorrow.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 22, 2012 (the first Sunday after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook massacre)

A Raw Deal

Summit

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — As a stay-at-home dad, I find myself doing a lot of stay-at-home dad stuff.

Among them is signing up on some online or the other on what to bring to parties.

I like to pounce on the plates-napkins-cups thing.

That means someone else will have to get the hats and balloons. And someone else will have get the drinks, while another will need to do drinks.

What is the occasion this time?

No last day of school. No birthday party for little Jenny or Jimmy.

Our so-called president has declared that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. Sounds worthy of a celebration, but the devil is in the details – or lack thereof.

From a Tweet (of course): “Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

There was also no reason to capitalize Nuclear Threat, but I digress.

This pronouncement comes after a quickie meeting with North Korean dictator (that’s what he is, so let’s not crap around) Kim Jong Un.

This quickie included – or failed to include – what CNN.com termed “no verifiable proof that the rogue regime will discontinue its nuclear program.”

OK, then.

Problem solved.

You know, since centuries of history haven’t already taught us that those cut from the same cloth as the North Korean dictator (do we call him “Kim” or “Un,” you know, now that we are such good buds?) used agreements like the one agreed to this week as extra toilet paper for his palace as he gorges himself while his people starve, we will just take on faith that this time will be different.

After all, President John Barron (or is it Baron, depending on the spelling challenge it poses?) has decreed it to be so.

And when President John Miller, says it is so, it is so.

Don’t dare question President David Dennison.

Don’t question what we got out of this one-way deal.

Don’t question if human rights conditions will change in North Korea.

Don’t question why the Iran nuclear deal needs to be run through the shredder – you know, since everything Barack Obama as president did must be undone or else those bone spurs of yore will return — but we can sleep easy now that an unstable 34-year-old whose only qualification to ascend to ascend to the throne.

Don’t question how apoplectic the right would be right now if President Blackenstein did this on a five-hour junket to a resort.

And we need to not worry about that whole golden shower thing in his beloved Russia.

The 34-year-old despot from the “hermit kingdom” that he once called “short and fat” in a backhanded Twitter slap just gave him a golden shower in the town square.

We all like to equate the world leader thing to a schoolyard, with bullies and jocks and bookworms, etc.

We all know our so-called president is the bully. What is KJU? Since we could squash him like a bug in 12 ½ seconds in a war, he’s not the bully he portends to be.

He is the unstable kid – the one everyone is afraid to associate with – with the arsenal of firearms at home.

What happened at the Singaporean resort island of Santosa was nothing more than the bully getting an assurance from the unstable kid that he won’t gun him down should he go on a shooting spree.

Stray bullets, be damned.

We got nothing real from this deal. Not even a released political prisoner to be named later.

Do you “feel much safer now” with opening ourselves up to the same type of parasitic worm – not unlike those that ravage the insides of North Koreans – that will linger after this agreement is inevitably broken in the tradition of Hitler and Stalin?

I know I don’t.

Bring your own napkins and other paper products. I’m sitting this party out.

Waiting on My World to Change

Super Bowl 39By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — Sofia was not even walking yet when the following type of conversation became commonplace …

Me: “What do the Eagles do to Daddy every year?”

Her: “Break your heart.”

Me: “And who puts it back together again?”

Her: “I do.”

And she does.

Always.

And even though the plight of my beloved Birds is not really a blip on her personal radar screen of Taylor Swift music and girl drama, she knows what she needs to do when another season goes into the books without ultimate triumph in the Super Bowl era.

She will put it back together again.

That one year when she doesn’t will be a life-altering moment, ranking right up there with 10:31 p.m. on March 29, 2007 – the night she was born.

Could this be the year? We will know soon.

I have been on this earth nearly 53 years, and 48 of them have spent consciously aware of the Eagles.

A lot of investment – emotional, physical and financial (season tickets in the family going back to Franklin Field) – has gone into those guys in varying shades of green.

There have been some amazing moments, and after an initiation of them pretty much being brutal, the Eagles have generally been a good team in my lifetime.

Since 1970, the year of my first game (a 35-20 loss to the then-St. Louis Cardinals at the aforementioned Franklin Field), there have been 16 trips to the playoffs, posting a 14-18 record.

And, as of this coming Sunday, three trips to the Super Bowl (note: four losses in NFC championship games).

But without that Lombardi Trophy, it’s really just another year where Sofia will have to put my heart back together again.

The older I get, the tolerance level for just being entertained by a team that provides a nice highlight reel goes down.

How ornery am I? I think the street celebrations after last week’s disemboweling of the favored Minnesota Vikings was nonsensical. In 1983 (my senior year of high school), when the Sixers won the NBA title, we didn’t hit the streets after the semifinals. We waited until they swept the Lakers for the title.

When the proverbial house was traded for Carson Wentz, my immediate reaction was that I didn’t care about how many franchise records he broke. I didn’t care how many Pro Bowls he was selected for, or how many MVPs he won.

If there was no Super Bowl victory in the Wentz era, the trade was not worth it. Period. End of conversation.

Maybe it’s harsh, but this is what a lifetime of heartache does to a person.

Even though Nick Foles is now playing – and playing well — in place of the injured Wentz, this box will be checked because there is no way they get here without the MVP-level play of Wentz, which positioned the Eagles for crucial home field advantage in the playoffs.

But only if Foles has one more magical game in his right arm.

People who know me and my intensity level know just how much this coming Sunday’s clash means, and they ask for an assessment with the perpetual potentate New England Patriots.

Honestly – and I wouldn’t just say this to say it — I think they can win.

It doesn’t mean they will, but they certainly can.

And if they do, it will be another one of those rare life-altering moments.

I will not be the same again.

That much I can guarantee.

It doesn’t mean I still won’t watch every snap of every game, including preseason. It does not mean I will burn my Draftnik card and not sit through three days and nights of draft coverage and endure so much analysis by paralysis that I need dialysis.

But it means that I may take the foot off the gas just a bit. If there is a game-winning field goalabout to be kicked, I won’t hit mute leave the room. I won’t lose my voice, screaming at a television screen. If the network announcers annoy me, I might not be as prone to go to the hometown radio progress and deal with the slight delay between the call from Merrill Reese and the play on the screen (all on the belief that I alone am changing momentum).

It means I might even cool it with the lucky shirts on game day, let alone keep track of their won-loss records.

It means I might tolerate fellow fans who can name less players than the number of bottles of overpriced beer they guzzle at the stadium (well, OK, I can’t promise this one without some therapy).

I will still want them to win, and win a lot, because that is just how this dude who won’t eat a cheese steak made outside of Philly is wired.

When you bleed green blood, you can’t just change your blood type.

However, a voice – the same voice that I heard after I finally saw my alma mater Temple beat friggin’ Penn State in football – will whisper softly in my one remaining “good” ear that I have not only seen the Promised Land but reached it.

If they win Super Bowl 52 (I don’t do Roman numerals, and neither should you), I’m going to buy myself a replica ring and wear it every day.

I – and long-suffering millions like me – will deserve the bling as much as the players (let alone the third assistant to the team’s assistant travel secretary). We have lived through multiple owners, coaches, general managers and players who will like to believe gave all they had for the cause.

My position has always been that I only need one championship – not that I wouldn’t take a dynasty – for my life to be altered.

I know older gentlemen who grew up as Brooklyn Dodgers fans, and they still hold 1955 – the year they actually slew the dragon known as the damned Yankees in the World Series after four previous tries – as a special moment that is enhanced by being singular in nature (the Yankees won the 1956 rematch).

Different sport, different city and a different time. But really not so different.

And there really may be no better time than the present to make it happen.

I have seen Philly teams win titles, and I have seen several others come painfully close, and a sixth sense about a team of destiny develops.

If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

My life won’t change.

I have been there, in the pit of numb despair.

Sofia will put my broken heart back together again.

But wouldn’t be amazing if her Daddy was such a changed man that it was no longer necessary?

Always.

 

 

Letting You Go

PETTY2

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – How am I feeling in the aftermath of the sudden death of Tom Petty?

I feel like I lost a family member.

That’s a pretty powerful statement, and I really yearn not to be easily given to hyperbole, but I don’t swing for the fences on the first pitch without have been under the influence of perhaps the best writer of first verses in the history of Rock and Roll.

That would be none other Petty, who will write no more songs – with historic opening salvos — but leaves behind unlimited masterpieces ranging from his best-known songs to deep album cuts.

To understand, you would have to understand the inner G2 and how music in general, with Petty’s music near the top of the charts, has shaped all I am – for better or worse and all points in between.

My wife and daughter certainly didn’t flinch when I was pretty much hysterical upon learning the news Monday – news that changed slightly, saying he was near death – to learning that he was gone.

It seemed an odd reaction on the same day as the indiscriminate mass killing in Las Vegas, which drew more anger from me, as a longtime gun control advocate, than sentimentality.

I mourn for those who lost their lives, and those who a scarred by the experience, and can’t really fathom the shock of their loved ones.

But I can understand the gut-punch of losing family. You live five decades and it gets to be hard to avoid.

And “family” is not just those who share your blood.

When the magic of Rock and Roll gets into your blood, your family tree takes a different form.

It can be a stranger whose art was such that he seemed like they knew you.

And it includes those who are there for you in moments of extreme darkness and light, moments when your range of emotions can be explained – or enhanced – by a well-written and performed song.

And not many combined those skills better than Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers.

They came along at the tail end of the Classic Rock era, which runs roughly from the arrival of The Beatles in America (1964) until the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever spawned Disco Fever and seemingly forced Bob Dylan to ask Jesus what the hell was going on.

And yet Petty’s clan, with roots firmly in 1960s sensibilities, was easily grandfathered in as a Classic Rock act, although the raw sound on those foretelling first two albums – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) and You’re Gonna Get It (1978) – made for a nice bridge between AOR (album oriented rock) and the burgeoning punk rock scene.

That status would be further cemented when he later joined forces with the likes of Dylan, former Beatle George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne of ELO fame in the Traveling Wilburys for two albums (1988, 1990) and the deal sealed with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

As honors go, it was as well-earned as it was deserved.

When Damn The Torpedoes came out in 1979 – and shot right up to No. 2 – that album’s classics (Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Don’t Don’t Me Like That, Even The Losers, etc.) joined airwaves already populated by songs from his first two releases (most notably Breakdown and American Girl from the first and I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart from the second).

At the time, I was transitioning into high school and was trying to find my place in a world where I was, for all intents and purposes, just another kid.

The songs resonated. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I stopped in my tracks. It was a natural instinct. They just reached out from the radio and grabbed you.

I couldn’t quite explain how or why, but they did.

By the time of his next album — and my personal favorite, 1981’s Hard Promises – I began the arduous, and still ongoing journey, of putting pen to paper to try and make sense of it all.

And writing lyrics, for me, was a natural fit.

I listened to a lot of music, and pondered the messages being sent, to direct me on this quest.

For all the Prog Rock concept albums that made it almost easier to dabble in free-form writing that barely made sense – even to myself – I began to marvel at the way Petty, among others, who could keep it real with concise prose that pretty much told it all in a simply-stated way.

It was a knack I longed to have, and I marveled at Hard Promises songs like The Waiting, Letting You Go, A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me), Something Big, A Thing About You and most especially Insider (with Stevie Nicks singing background vocals).

I longed to be able to do it like that.

But the waiting was the hardest part.

To this day, in many ways, those are the types of lyrics I’m trying to write.

On our last SpringHouse Revival CD (check us out on Spotify and iTunes and shame on you if you have to “like” our Facebook page), co-writer Terri Camilari and I were going for the Tom Petty vibe, while keeping our own identity, in the offering Million Dollar Words, during which I was channeling my inner Petty telling someone who can’t get to the point to, well, just get to the effin’ point.

And with Terri’s vocals, I liked to imagine it was Stevie Nicks doing a Petty cover.

I had carried Petty with me a long time, and it was time for a homage.

Way back in my senior year of high school, a lot was going on. I had freedom with a car (1975 Chevy Malibu that dripped oil), a job as a dishwasher/bus boy to pay for gas and the Sixers won the title.

Petty was still at it, putting out another record to play in the backdrop – Long After Dark – and songs like Change of Heart, You Got Lucky and Straight Into Darkness continued to form the soundtrack of my insistence on having an existence to call my own.

I also had something else that year: An actual girlfriend (even the losers get lucky sometimes). But, lo and behold, she dumped me a few about six weeks before the senior prom.

I could have tapped into my long list of “just a friend” girls to take, but I was never really into going anyway.

I hatched a better plan with dateless running mates.

I returned my tux, and used the money (tickets were cheaper in those days, and there were no pre-sales 64 weeks in advance) for two concerts – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Seger was great, and Petty was even better.

Best proms I never went to.

And every time Seger or Petty came to town, I went back for more (plus their live albums put me in the house countless of other times).

Except the last time, last summer, when a pending vacation made me miss the Petty show.

It is now a regret that I will just have to live with, and one I mitigate with the bigger picture.

In college, I remember my friends and I performing a mock awards show in 1985 and naming Southern Accents – Rebels, Don’t Come Around Here No More, etc.— as the album of the year.

The concert, at the Mann Music Center on a gorgeous summer night, was surreal.

As for the album of the year thing, it still remains a silly tradition of mine, and a lot of Petty’s records – 1999’s Full Moon Fever (featuring  Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down)  through to 1994’s solo-acoustic Wildflowers to 1999’s Echo and 2014’s Hypnotic Eye have pulled in the honor known as the “Gordie.”

During my college years, when I was earning my doctorate in Dylaniac studies (and writing some of my best-ever lyrics) – while barely maintaining a 2.0 in my real-world classes – I was able to see the Heartbreakers back up Dylan and Petty while trading off sets of songs (Zimmy took a few breaks).

Petty’s subsequent release, the underappreciated Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), best known for Jammin’ Me, wreaked of Dylan’s influence.

Petty was not too happy with the effort, but I still dig it.

As I allegedly matured, my musical tastes sort of solidified. My “Big Four” – Bruce Springsteen, U2, Dylan and Petty – has never changed.

I adore dozens upon dozens of other artists, but none – not even SpringHouse Revival – can break into that group.

Petty has earned that same stature with legions of other fans through a dedication to craft (you’ll note how quickly he rattled off those classic albums in lockstep with my formative years) that had to come at a cost for such a young guy.

Addiction cost him his first marriage and put his latter career in temporary peril, but he was still there – with new music just as brilliant as the classic songs that invaded my soul, dating back to when I was kid to being a parent.

Every year, when we get Sofia’s picture taken, we use a song title to give it a theme. When she was real little, it was not much of a fight. We used Springsteen’s “She’s the One” for Year 1, for example. But as music grows in importance to Sofia, she has had insisted on other songs more to her liking.

Knowing that Year 10 of her life would mark the end of the annual tradition, Laurie and I pressed her hard for American Girl.

Even though Sofia collects “American Girl” dolls, she was reluctant, pushing for something by her own family member, Taylor Swift.

But we made her listen to the song.

After a moment of silence, she said, “Yeah, that one is pretty good.”

Victory (although it helped the cause that Swift has her own nifty cover version of the song).

That picture just went up on the wall, and it takes on enhanced meaning.

I will think of our lost family member every time I look at it, knowing I can bring him back to life with the music that will last as long as skeptical kids also can’t deny what they are hearing.

During the shock of the news Monday, I couldn’t even get through Free Fallin’ without a breakdown.

Today, I heard Mary Jane’s Last Dance and I was good to go, playing his music all day, grateful for the years of lyrical inspiration and stone-cold grooves while driving down the road on a summer night with the windows down.

That’s the story of Tom Petty and me.

And it explains why I felt like I lost a family member, as overly dramatic as some may think it sounds.

On such a horrible day, with the tragedy in Vegas, I had to wonder why it had to happen then.

And I fell apart more than maybe I would have on another day.

I was, pretty much, inconsolable.

While Sofia hugged me up during my meltdown, she exuded some of her wisdom beyond her years and said that “it could be worse.”

One could take that many different ways, but you would have had to have heard her tone – and to understand how much on the same wavelength we are – to get it.

And I got it.

It could have been worse — way worse.

These ears ravaged by years of having a Rock and Roll heart could have not taken in the music of a dropout from Gainesville, Fla. who made his way to California to somehow buck the odds and strike gold.

What a loss that would have been, as that would have meant him not being a member of the family.

And that notion, of not finding him at all, would have been worse than losing him.

Way worse.

 

Can’t Shoot Me Down Now

Vegas Shooting

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – Nothing — outside of a Dallas Cowboys fan living in the Delaware Valley — is more annoying than a single-issue voter.

If that’s all you got, stay home. Please.

You need to have a lot of core issues, and be able to articulate the wherefores and whys – whether or not I concur – when asked to explain yourself.

As those who have waged war with me on Social Media know, I am not afraid to do so.

When it comes to issues, and prioritizing them, I’m an open book.

There is education, health care, environment, clear paths to citizenship for productive immigrants and a type of peace in the Middle East that means Israel isn’t obliterated in the process.

On most of those – and others (reforming the election system, from campaign finance reform to the way the primary/caucus schedule is laid out) – I am well left of center.

On others – like denying climate change equating to denying the earth is round – I am aligned with my man, Bernie Sanders, particularly on education and health care as human rights in a nation as plentiful as ours.

Only time I go astray is with the punishment fitting crimes like rape and child abuse (not to be confused with inherent injustices in the justice system with the “drug war”) and with supporting Israel (although those settlements are a bit unsettling when I consider long-range positive outcomes).

And on just about every issue, in general, I’ll meet you in the middle somewhat or be willing to agree to disagree and walk away on a handshake after a battle well-fought.

But not when it comes to my No. 1 issue.

And it’s No. 1 with a bullet.

There’s a hint even someone who thought Hillary Clinton was the lesser of two evils would get.

It’s gun Control.

You will never get me to agree to disagree.

And you will never get me to throw up my hands and say nothing more can be done about it.

And while we are sifting through the carnage from Sunday night’s mass killing (“mass shooting” is too tame), neither should you.

It has been said that if the horror at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012 didn’t do it, if didn’t change the stingiest of minds, nothing will.

It hit home for me because my prized possession — and .600 hitter in Fall Ball softball, Sofia — was roughly the same age at that time. I’ll never forget what it felt like dropping her off at school the next day and taking comfort in seeing police cars on the school lot.

This one at an a outdoor country concert hits home, too. I am a lifelong concert-goer, and the Tom Petty tragedy only reinforces my resolve to see all my heroes — and share them with Sofia — while we can.

The sad truth that the deaths of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook only sent more people toward buying firearms, not less.

Probably of the same in the wake of Vegas.

Seems that what should make our hearts soft, turns them hard. What should make us find solutions, only leaves us creating more problems.

That’s kind of how and why we ended up with this slopstorm in the White House now, is it not?

But that doesn’t mean we give up trying.

Just sitting back and letting it all be is about as un-American as it gets, even for conditional patriots determined to make America “great again” (I’m still wondering when it was “great” to begin with).

How is that makey-greaty thing looking for you now?

If you still support America being the Wild West after all this, you are clearly a sub-human.

I don’t want to hear about banning cars because they kill, too. That’s just insanely inane.

Don’t tell me about the laws that are already on the books being sufficient, because they clearly are not.

We are as able to properly enforce them as I am of dunking a basketball (I’m 5-10 with a vertical leap of a half-inch) in the face of LeBron James.

Yes, some of the laws on the books, in theory, may give what equate to good lip service to generic concerns.

But we don’t need lips. We need teeth.

And doing the biting, with backing from our legislators, need to be the law enforcement personnel we are told we need to genuflect in front of with no questions asked.

I respect what they do, but they also knew what they were signing on for, which was to be soldiers on the home front.

And their country needs them.

Now more than ever, and just as much — if not more — than the troops in trouble spots like Afghanistan.

No one is going to convince anyone with opened eyes that our society is wired to be drug-obsessed because it helps lock up black and brown males at rates that dwarf those of freckled-faced kids named Biff in the frat house.

Therefore, we have drug task force teams – and their sting operations – from small municipalities to large cities.

It’s a noble effort, but don’t be deceived. I used to report on a lot of these in my newspaper days. There would be press conferences where the confiscated contraband would be laid out on a table, and most of it would be enough marijuana to have kept Bob Marley and the Wailers and Grateful Dead feeling mellow for several tours.

There might be a gun or two that were inadvertently gathered during the arrest of the largely “of-color” ring-leaders (who were usually just middle men taking the fall for someone else), but that’s it.

How about we legalize the marijuana – and include prostitution (another waste of law enforcement manpower) in that legislation – and focus all our efforts on undercover firearms stings?

Not saying they don’t happen, because they do.

Just not enough.

Needs to be a priority.

Priority No. 1.

And it’s dangerous work, going deep into the world of black market firearms wheeling and dealing, but it’s really the only way.

We can play verbal ping-pong over the validity of gun shows and how much closing loopholes would or would not do (my feeling is anything is worth a try). The truth is that the kind of firearms that most of these monsters acquire are done so through nefariously illegal means.

The Vegas shooter seemingly acquired most of his arsenal legally, and in the light of day, even while his mental state may have been visible to any arms dealer who gave a shit.

But we can find a way to regulate that a bit more going forward, while still letting hunters shoot Bambi, but the black market is still there.

Cut off the source, via undercover policing, and we may see a light at the end of the tunnel with a lot of these planned mass mayhem shootings – and gang violence on urban streets.

I’m not advocating disarming law-abiding gun owners, but I would like to define just what that means. It’s certainly not the gun owner with the gun loaded under their pillow.

Until he opened fire Sunday night, Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, was likely a law-abiding gun owner – at least by the very loosey-goosey definition – and now he is the lone-nut triggerman in the worst mass killing by shooting in modern American history (probably a lot of Native Americans were wiped out in one horrific stampede of the white man in the now fabled days of yore that made our culture one tied to the gun, with Wounded Knee coming readily to mind).

At present, authorities are stumped about his motivation. He was filthy rich, he was A-political, had no FBI file (although his father did) and not really a loser with the ladies.

My initial gut instinct was that he lost big at the casinos, but apparently he was winning, big-time, before going out in an inglorious blaze of infamy.

The argument about it being all about mental health goes out the window, too. Clearly, he was not in his right mind at the time, but he was not diagnosed as being criminally insane. He clearly had some internal bomb ticking inside, but he still had his wits enough to meticulously plan this out.

In a nation where you can get your hands on multiple military-style firearms and ammo as easily as a milkshake and a burger, we should be more worried – much more worried – about the guy who looks like an average Joe who can snap and go temporarily insane.

That is any of us. Just this past Saturday, I can into it a bit too much with the coach of the opposing softball team (although it was nothing YouTube viral-worthy). I have never fired a gun in my life (and only held one once), but who knows who I was dealing with, right?

The way our country is now, we simply can’t trust than we can will this ongoing horror show away.

We need to peel away at the onion, wiping away the tears it causes, and get to core of the issue. The Second Amendment is clearly so misinterpreted that it’s unfathomable to believe our elected misleaders – from both sides of the aisle – are more concerned with keeping the NRA placated than the health and well-being of their constituents.

Maybe because they are so much in a bubble, they don’t realize how easy it is to get a gun right now.

Heck, we had a garage sale this past weekend (before the softball game and aforementioned incident) and several older men – probably around the same age as this waste of human plasma – asked if we were selling any firearms or ammo.

Really?

Really.

And the fact that they asked tells me that they are able to circumvent a lot legalities by going to garage sales and flea markets.

They were so cavalier about it that they must find plenty while scavenging around on weekends.

And yeah, 999 out of 100,000 might just be collectors who get their jollies by diddling around with guns once their ED sets in, but what about the one – the one who snaps one day and sets up a sniper’s nest above a concert (or any larger gathering) and tries to top Paddock’s kill number.

Won’t happen?

Don’t kid yourself.

Not a question of if.

Just a question of when.

Not comfortable with that, either?

Maybe you need to check your priorities.