The Beatles Can Save Us!

“Don’t forget The Beatles are coming on in half an hour.”  My Dad, delighted to remind me despite being locked in Beatles gridlock at Idlewild Airport (yes, folks, it wasn’t JFK just yet!) just two days earlier.

“Oh Daddy, we’re already watching TV.” I quipped back, annoyed that he’s already taking my attention from the TV at T-minus 30 minutes!

“Don’t miss The Beatles,” he continued noodging, as only a Dad can do.

the-beatlesAnd so began a decades long love affair with four men I would sadly never meet, yet who continue to influence my life to this day.

And it seems that love affair was shared by director Ron Howard who has delivered a tour de force in “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.”  It is a documentary that is nothing short of the perfect homage to The Fab Four as seen through the eyes of an adoring fan and not just a filmmaker.  Their music was truly the soundtrack to our lives and it’s so beautifully woven seamlessly throughout.  The emotion of the frenetic energy that landed on our shores mirrored the social unrest and the awakening of a generational social conscience.  We were raw and ripe for something fresh when The Beatles landed in America.  The Mop Tops were as cute and charming as our late President and when he was cut down too short and the Vietnam War escalated shortly thereafter, The Beatles were our sounding board.  The world placed great weight on the shoulders of The Beatles and they eventually buckled under the strain.

It was a time of innocence amid a time of struggle and strife.  The Beatles were our antidote, social messenger and Dr. Feelgood all rolled into one.

“Well, who do we love this week?”  My Uncle would ask, seeing me weighed down in Beatle Buttons.  I loved them all but my closest connection was to John.  Oh, John never knew it but his voice led to many spirited political discussions with my Dad.  While his music led my Mom to hide her two tickets to Shea Stadium until the morning after the famous concert.  She couldn’t very well take only one of her two Beatle fanatic kids.  So she made the ultimate Mom sacrifice – she didn’t go either.  We loved them all.  We changed with them and we grew with them.  Their lyrics were timely and raised our social awareness without vulgarity or inhumanity.  They were a global force for good.

“Eight Days a Week” brought me right back to those days of innocence.  Those days of Beatle sneakers and sweatshirts, school binders and pencil cases, and yelling at Dad to play them on the car radio.  I sat in a theater of strangers with a shared sense of memory, a shared sense of how we’re all connected.

In the game of “Six Degrees of Separation,” I am lucky enough to be within one degree of John Lennon at least three times over:

  1. In my days at NBC, I interviewed his son Julian.  We had a long, candid chat about life, music and his Dad……and I also interviewed Harry Nilsson who spent many a long, drunken hours with John in a delayed misspent youth.
  2. I enjoyed a business lunch with Sid Bernstein and my Mom, thinking the whole time that he, in fact, would tell me, of all people, that The Beatles were reuniting for beaucoup bucks.  Ah, to dream!
  3. The love of my life was Sean Lennon’s guitar tutor at a time when I assumed that Yoko would be looking for a private school tutor as well.  My resume was secretly passed along and imagine my surprise when Elliot Mintz, John and Yoko’s confidante, called me personally to say that I didn’t get the gig.  Who cared?  I didn’t even know I was in the running at that point.

I was one degree away from Lennon’s memory.  Just one degree from a voice who changed the world with his three best friends.  One degree from a global connection that had a theater full of strangers laughing together last night.

How the world could use The Beatles right now.  Thank you, Ron, for giving them back to us and introducing them to a generation who desperately needs them now.

Only hope can save us!

I’ve kept silent in this hellish political season. That’s a hard thing for a journalist/attorney to do. I’ll admit I was unsure until last night but the light bulb went off as President Obama addressed the Democratic Convention.

I remember that night in 2004 when he first took the national stage. I was mesmerized by his forceful, infectious optimism, not yet tarnished by the corroding abrasion of Washington lawmakers. If you remember, his message was one of hope.

Well, a lot has happened since then. America is living under a cloud of fear. The fear of  parents who can’t imagine how they’ll pay for college for their child; the fear of grandparents who don’t turn on the lights because they can’t afford the bill; the fear of children who see friends shot in the safe harbor of a school and the fear of teens who see heroin as a cheap Saturday night.  Fear has grabbed hold of the black population, scared to send their young men for a container of milk and cops operating under a trigger point state of paranoia for their lives.

History has shown us what fear can do to a population. History in our time and not in the dusty books of a university library. Fear is palpable all around us.

The two candidates who saw that fear in our eyes took the baton and ran to places we never imagined. One who continues to ply that fear and the other whose burn to change it fell short.

Only Americans can change this malaise, this anxiety-ridden cloud that is suffocating us faster than a swath of disease-carrying mosquitoes on a stagnant pond. We are choking with fear. We long for the security of a country that can protect us, rather than a country who is chided and viewed with derision on the global stage. We long for the days when we could send our kids out on a summer night to play safely in the streets without fear of random gunfire. We long for the day when bankruptcy was the taboo and not the norm for every other American. We are Americans. We hope, we dream that our best days are still ahead. Our eternal optimism is what makes us stand out and what makes us strong in this world. That is precisely what makes us Americans.

If we, as Americans, are going to win in November, the candidates need to take our fears seriously, not ignore them. Listen to what the fear mongers are saying and give us a concrete path to tomorrow. That’s the only way to win the election. That’s the only way to tip the numbers in our favor.

Of course we are afraid. It’s a scary world but baseless propaganda which panders to that is not the solution. You’ve got this America, now get out and do something about it and vote. It is your birthright! It is our future.

If you want change……….we’ve come this far……..after 240 years of male leadership, why not let women take the lead!

Time for a change

Yogi & My Dad

When Yankee great Joe DiMaggio died, my Dad was so sad. When I asked why, he replied, “A big part of my childhood just died.”  Today, I finally get it.

Yogi was my childhood hero, along with John Glenn.  They were heroes at a time when that word meant integrity, courage and mastery of the game, whatever game they played.  Yogi was how my Dad and I bonded over The Yankees…you see,  my Dad was a catcher, one of the best and a great baseball/softball coach to me.

A true hero!

Die hard fans never forgave Mr. Steinbrenner when Yogi was banished but we all followed Yogi’s lead, straight into the stadium when he forgave the man and celebrated Yogi Day in 1999.  It was as if God smiled down on The Bronx that summer day and blessed us all with David Cone’s perfect game…who knew that when Don Larsen tossed a catch to Yogi before the game started that we would be a part of baseball history again. A perfect game on a perfect baseball day.

In my many years as a news reporter, I interviewed Presidents and rock stars, but never was I more excited then when I placed a call to Yogi in NJ and got him on the phone for a “beeper.”  My day, my career was made…and the first call I made after hanging up was to my Dad.

Rest in peace Mr. Berra. Have a catch with my Dad when you see him!