So, Sunday night, I went to St. Louis to see The Rolling Stones with my longtime high school pal Ronald Rice. We had a great time and attended what was a historic concert for this great rock band. It was the first show of the U.S. "No Filter" tour that originally began in 2017 but had to be put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic. There was some talk that it might not ever be concluded and last month the longtime original member of the band, drummer Charlie Watts died. But the show must go on. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ron Wood with other musicians hit the stage to present a rousing rockin' show. A video was shown before they hit the stage of Charlie Watts in tribute. The three surviving members were visibly emotional as they thanked the fans and paid tribute to their fallen comrade as this was the first show that they were going to do without their beloved drummer. The night's performance was one of the greatest shows I've ever seen. For me, it was my first time seeing The Rolling Stones as I've been a fan of them for as long as I can remember. My pal Ron has seen them several times, but this was a "bucket list" item for me. Well, it was only rock and roll, but I liked it.... liked it....liked it....yes, I do.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Early that morning, I was heading to work over at Springfield College in Illinois. I had a 9:00 a.m. World Regional Geography class that I was teaching that semester. My students were about to begin studying the section on The Middle East and the Muslim religion that day – of all days. So, on my way to work, I had the radio on and was still in Sherman at the red light waiting to turn. The disc jockey on the radio was reporting that a jet airplane had hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City that morning and then a newsflash came across that a second jet had just hit the other tower. There was shock and silence.
I knew at that moment that our country was under attack.
I pulled in to the gas station in Sherman to fill up and I went inside. I told the clerk behind the counter that they might want to turn on the news and told them about the World Trade Center had just been hit by two jets and that I think our country may be under attack. Later that afternoon, this same gas station would jack up the cost of gas with nearly 50 cars trying to get gasoline in a panic.
I arrived at the college and went downstairs into my classroom where I had about 50 students. Everything was abuzz with the news and I had a television set that I turned on to the news as we all just watched live what was going on. I “officially” cancelled class and we just watched the television. A few minutes in, news hit that another plane had just hit the Pentagon. There was disbelief, shock, sadness, and anger. We all watched for probably about an hour and then people began to come and go. I remember heading over to my office across from the classroom and trying to gather all the news that I could. We heard that all flights across the nation were being grounded. We heard rumors that the Sears Tower in Chicago (now called The Willis Tower) was a target, but that didn’t come to fruition. Thank God. All sorts of chaos and this feeling in your gut hit you that you were witnessing a moment in time that was going to forever change the world.
As a side note, I remember that day before the attack, I was planning on eating lunch in my office as one of my favorite musical artists, Sting, was going to broadcast over the Internet a live concert from his home in Italy. The concert was cancelled for the online broadcast, though Sting did decided to go ahead and do the concert. He would later release it as a live CD album and DVD. I digress, but this was part of my memory from that day.
I was also scheduled to teach an art class that afternoon where I had only three art students. Hunter, Stan, and Richard. I remember talking to them during the lunch hour and they were mentioning they weren’t coming to class as they planned to go get gas for their cars. I guess news of a possible gasoline shortage was starting to float around as a rumor. None of us felt like making art that day. I also broke a rule as an instructor and I didn’t notify the Dean of Academics office that I was cancelling a class. I just was numb and emotionally distraught with what was happening. I decided to head home early that afternoon.
Heading home to Sherman, Illinois, I passed the gas station that I had visited earlier in the morning and was amazed at the line of cars that I saw. Not since the 1970’s oil crisis had I seen a scene of that many cars all honking and lined up to get gas. I went ahead and made my way home.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I don’t have recollections of interacting with my ex-wife or children that evening when I got home. My kids would have been ages five and one. I just know that I was emotionally so very numb. I remember the television was covering the news and there was footage being shown that evening that I don’t think I’ve seen since. It was tragic. Watching the World Trade Center collapse. Watching footage of the jets hitting the towers. Watching footage of people falling out of skyscraper buildings to their deaths. All I remember was that I was sitting on the couch as evening fell and it got dark outside. I was glued to the television set just watching the horror.
At some point, the Dean of Academics at Springfield College called me that late afternoon. I kind of got a little bit of a chew out that I had cancelled my class and hadn’t reported this to his Administrative Assistant. I apologized and let him know that the students and I decided to cancel class due to the events of the day. He asked if I was okay and I think he heard it in my voice that I was numb. He kind of let it go and never it mentioned it again. I don’t know how anyone else could have carried on that day acting like it was business as usual.
I just remember sitting in the dark watching television until I had enough and decided to go to bed. I do remember checking on my kids in their beds as they slept and thinking that the world had just become an uglier place for them and nothing was ever going to be the same again.
It is 20 years later as I write this. I’m still numb thinking about that day and what it has done to the world and our country. I think it will remain one of the saddest days of our lives. Our country seemed to rally in the days after that and there was an American fervor like I had never seen with patriotism and oneness. Two decades later, our country is torn in two where I wonder if we will ever be united again.
Friday, September 10, 2021
I just re-watched BAND OF BROTHERS for the umpteenth time. Each year, I find myself annually revisiting this 10-part HBO original series based on Stephen E. Ambrose's best-seller, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. This landmark series recounts the story of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, starting with their jump training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, while following the unit through their airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and on to the war's end at the Eagle's Nest.
This week, HBO has released as special 10-week long 20th Anniversary Podcast that revisits the series. The prologue included an interview with Tom Hanks, and while I type this, I'm listening to the podcast for episode one "Currahee" that features an interview with Ron Livingston who portrayed Captain Lewis Nixon.
For those of you like me who love this series, I highly recommend the free podcast. You can learn more at https://www.hbo.com/band-of-brothers/podcast.