Friday, January 22, 2016

You belong to the night...

I'm not used to writing this often, and I wish I didn't have to now. Last week I wrote about Alan Rickman and David Bowie. Today I turn to two other losses from the last few days that hit even closer to home. Both of these gentlemen passed away on Sunday and I heard the news of their passing within minutes of each other on Monday evening; it was not a good night.

The Eagles are one of my favorite bands and Glenn Frey was an irreplaceable part of that group. He was also difficult and unreasonably demanding. And I loved his music.  "Miami Vice" was a touchstone for my generation and the songs of Glenn Frey's that were featured prominently in the show ("Smuggler's Blues" and "You Belong to the City") are two of my favorite '80s songs. Somehow singing along made the 13 year old version of me feel very cool. "The Heat is On" from "Beverly Hills Cop" is a staple of '80s oldies radio. Glenn Frey's solo career provided some high points in the soundtrack of my youth, but the Eagles were much more important. It is fashionable to trash the Eagles music. They embodied the excesses of '70s and '80s rock stars and rich people. They also happened to have some amazing music. While I readily admit that the Eagles didn't break the kind of ground that David Bowie did, I am more likely to sit down and listen to an Eagles album than I am to listen to any of Bowie's albums.  I might never have become a singer if it weren't for the Eagles. My earliest memories of music are of my dad and my Uncle Ray singing together. The songs that stick in my head from all those years ago are songs by the Eagles (even though they didn't do very many Eagles songs together) and Simon and Garfunkel. When I started playing drums in bar bands, the Eagles were a staple. The first harmonies I learned were in songs by the Eagles and the Doobie Brothers. When I started singing lead vocals, Eagles songs were some of my first solos. I love that band, even though it isn't cool. I have Eagles bootlegs from the end of their first run. I am sad I never got to see them in person.

The other gentleman is not someone you have heard of, in all likelihood. Terry Davis was a social studies teacher at Flagstaff High School from 1969-2004. When I was first hired at FHS, Mr. Davis and I shared a terribly thin wall. He was gracious and tolerant of a new teacher with classes filled with rowdy resource students. Gradually, I got better, my classes got quieter, and Mr. Davis welcomed me into the history department when I was transferred in-building in the middle of the year. He was the first person I turned to with questions about policies and procedures, etc. He also gave me advice on buying a house and putting family first. He sat around and drank coffee with me and shot the breeze. He was a consistent voice for the kids who fell through the cracks. Terry was my friend, a mentor, and a wonderful man. When he retired, I got his room. I have taught in room 718 for 12 years and, even though I may be at FHS for another 15 years, it will always be Mr. Davis's room. I loved seeing him around town with Mrs. Davis after they retired, and I will miss him very much.

Thanks for letting me share my memories and thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ashes to Ashes

Monday morning the world woke up to news that we had lost David Bowie, a true genius. I admit that I have never been a gigantic Bowie fan, but I enjoy much of his music and I certainly recognize his importance as an innovator and trendsetter. My most indelible memory of him was as The Goblin King in "Labyrinth," which I saw in Canton, MIchigan with my cool Uncle Nelson, still one of my favorite people. My lasting impressions of the movie were 1) I was in love with Jennifer Connelly, and 2) David Bowie was the coolest guy on the planet, even when he creeped me out. I was saddened at what we lost as a culture.

This morning I heard the news that another 69-year-old Brit had passed away. My first memory of Alan Rickman is the same as almost everyone else's: "yippee ky-ay..." Alan Rickman in "Die Hard" was a classic 80s action movie baddie and I hated/loved him. Another bad guy role I loved was the Sheriff of Nottingham in that otherwise terrible Kevin Costner movie. He was wonderful as Eamon de Valera in "Michael Collins," a movie I loved but not many others saw. But the reason I shed tears when I found out about Mr. Rickman's passing was his role as Severus Snape. It is no secret that I love the Harry Potter books and Snape is the best character in the books. I loved the way he was written and completely drawn in by Rickman's performance. I am so sad that I won't get to see him in anything else. Even his interviews were wonderful.

Nothing particularly inspirational to say about all this. Cancer sucks and I am sorry that we have been cheated out of whatever else these two talented gentlemen might have produced. I'll listen to Bowie and smile, watch Snape die and cry, and be glad we got the chance to share those moments.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to do better next time.