Thursday, March 19, 2015

Neighbors In Heaven

TOMORROW IS FRED ROGERS' birthday, so he's been on my mind lately. (He would have turned 87.) I was one of millions of children who were blessedly raised on his long-running show MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD and I was faithful. I watched that show from the time I was around five years old until into my twenties. Even now I'll catch an episode here or there as a reminder of where I came from and how much I absorbed his lessons without even realizing it. I didn't know when I was little that the show was filmed right here in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Even now, knowing that something so important to so many people for so many years originated right here where I live remains a little stunning to me.

Last summer I was up late one night when I came across episodes of his show online. I watched one that I dimly remembered where he went to buy a new pair of dress shoes. He invited us along as he took a trip to visit a friend who owned Wagner's Shoe Store, and he bought a new pair. I paused wondering if this was the same store residing only a few blocks from my house in Lawrenceville. So at 1 in the morning, I pulled on my own pair of sneakers and walked over to see if my suspicions were correct. The facade has changed a lot over the years, so I had to do some more checking online to make sure, but yes, it's the same store. I was walking on the same ground that one of my earliest heroes had walked on.

I learned a lot from him. Today it occurred to me just how much I learned.

Friday, March 13, 2015

MISC. Thoughts 1: Phat Man Dee, Carolyn Belefski, Julie Sokolow

I have gotten so far behind in helping to promote some friends with their recent projects that it's embarrassing. Let's start to chip away at the mountain of information I need to share with you about some amazing things happening here (and abroad) that you can participate in. I'd seriously be remiss in my artistic duties if I didn't tell you about these things. They span the arts - music, comic-books, and film - so there's something for everyone's interests.

So let's get started, okay?
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Prince Setlist

It was brought to my attention a couple of days ago via a post on my Facebook wall that Prince will be performing a series of "pop-up" concerts  in the United States this year, under the banner of his "Hit and Run Tour". And you know, that's pretty doggone cool. I haven't seen him live since 2004, and the notion that he might end up back here in Pittsburgh is something to look forward to.

Wayne made a joke about Prince performing in our living room, then asked me what songs would I include on the set-list if I had the opportunity to host such an event? I have to admit, the question gave me pause because I do loves me some Prince. I was a child of the 1980s, and vividly remember the buildup to his domination of the pop landscape of 1984. He has remained on my radar since, through highs and lows, and he's still in the game. His recent performance on Saturday Night Live (not to mention his already fabled after-party performance following their 40th anniversary show) cemented his reputation as a must-watch live entertainer.

There is only one Prince. He's the only person on Earth over twelve years old allowed to use letters and numbers instead of words in his writing who I will still take seriously. So what if he did perform a concert in my living room? Quantum mechanics suggests the possibility of innumerable dimensions branching off from one another where anything that you could possibly conceive of as a reality exists. Therefore it is theoretically possible - I would even suggest it is likely - that a dimension and universe exist where Prince will be playing a short concert in my living room. That means I should be prepared if it turns out to be this one.

I asked Wayne how long such a show would be, and he said one hour. Assuming I have a little latitude for applause time, encores and such, here's what I came up with. (I even created a playlist on Spotify, if any of you are so inclined to listen along.) This doesn't reflect what I consider to be the Ultimate Prince Songs or even my Favorite Prince Songs (and trust me, I left off notable ones), but just what I think would be the most fun, eclectic mix to hear. I should also mention that I'm a bit of a control freak, and given a chance would even suggest orchestration and arrangements.

Hey, this ain't Paisley Park. This is my house party and I'll rock it how I choose!