Saturday, October 8, 2011

So Much Music and So Little Time

We're back filled fall is here. I feel like Chris Stevens from Northern Exposure. First off, getting to see the filming process of Greetings From Tim Buckley each day on my way to work was kinda nice. Being able to say, yup, Jeff Buckley made me late for work again made me smile. It also made me re-load all that Tim Buckley onto my iPod.

This fall brings so much music back to my life -- Felice Brothers, Nicole Atkins, those Umphrey's pretending they are the Allmans and taking over Brooklyn Bowl  for a week (congrats on your wedding Robbie), there was the Big 4 Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth, a little Widespread Panic in Billyburgh, in December maybe some My Morning Jacket, who wouldn't love a nice autumn Ramble with Levon Helm (can Robert Plant show up PLEASE) not going to see Guns N Roses -- ain't GNR without Slash - sorry DJ Ashba I will see you with SIXX: AM. Sadly missed Wilco in the Park -- but nothing will top their April 2010 Carnegie Music Hall show in the Burgh. And all these "old" bands as one of my "young" friends call them: Jane's Addiction, the Cure -- and some up and coming bands like Apophenia are also out there trying to make their mark.

To  get ready for this exciting season of music, I will look back at a highlight of my concert attending career. No, not the Pantera incident (War Memorial, Skid Row / Pantera. My head versus steel toed boot).  June of 2009, I was able to continue chasing the ghosts of Vaughan and Buckley -- and make it to all the concerts that any music fan should see. This time on my list: Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. I would not be let down.

I had seen Buddy Guy, Crosby, Stills, even Bob Dylan, but Clapton seemed to elude me. Not this time. It was even more of a great night being that Steve Winwood -- the other half of Blind Faith, was there to re-create many of those classic songs. Years of experience, loss, love and just the simple love of music truly influenced the artists that Clapton and Winwood have become. There were no long set breaks, not many words spoken except Clapton's occasional thank you. They played - we enjoyed. I sat transfixed by the closeup of Clapton's hands while he played Layla -- yes, I would not ever say I wish I had seen Clapton. It would not be a regret in my life.

Set List from June 2009 Clapton / Winwood @ the IZOD

Had To Cry Today
Low Down
After Midnight
Sleeping In The Ground
Presence Of The Lord
Well Alright
Tough Luck Blues
Tell The Truth
Pearly Queen
No Face, No Name, No Number
Forever Man
Georgia On My Mind - Steve Winwood solo
Driftin' - acoustic
Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
Layla - acoustic version
Can't Find My Way Home
Split Decision
Little Wing
Voodoo Chile

Dear Mr. Fantasy

So what is next for the blog??? I will share a new band from Long Island -- Apophenia (please click on their link above to hear their new music - completely original). I will also share some photos I have been taking about music history in NYC -- like pics of the infamous and now doomed Chelsea Hotel. To quote Eddie Izzard -- we tear our history down. I will also take any ideas -- still working on a blog about the whole debate with MP3 and old music technology. Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fool in the Rain

I was so pumped to go for a nice run over the Brooklyn Bridge this morning. Saw the clouds in the distance but figured I could dodge it. I listened to some of my new tunes I loaded onto the Shuffle: some INXS, Depeche Mode, Pantera (not a typo). I kissed my sleeping Love a wonderful day. I even picked up the neighbor's Times and put it by his door on the way out. Raindrops--plop plop. Heavier and heavier- almost like Riders on the Storm rain. Sigh-I usually don't mind running in the rain but when it entails keeping soaking wet clothes and shoes at work all day, I quickly admitted defeat.

I didn't let this stop me though. I did some ab work, weights and even updated my to do list (and found every excuse to have some Nutella). I changed, made sure the iTouch had some juice, again kissed my  snoozing Love a good day and walked to Starbucks. Upon receiving my iced quad espresso -the sky opened and rain fell heavy-like a Braveheart rain-sideways and even up from the ground. I could do it. It wasn't a far walk to the train and I had an umbrella. I was just happy I wasn't on the bridge in this rain. Whew-nice save. But then it became the rain like in Forrest Gump -- remember when he was in Vietnam?

Fast forward ten minutes: Didn't you leave like two times already? Soaked-shoes, pants, bag, wallet, everything but the iTouch (thank you very much) was soaked through. Ok - regroup. New clothes, wet ones hanging. I will simply use my hairdryer to dry some things. Until it too decided to stick its middle finger up at me and quietly whimper and quit.


I felt like sitting at home and listening to Sarah McLachlan (not) maybe a little angrier like Slayer. I dried everything off, re-dressed - this time a la Jimmy Buffett complete with some flip flops.

Again- I kissed that lucky guy again who was sleeping though all of this silly nonsense. I don't know what the plan was - to save me from some demise, a crazy person or to just allow me to spend some more time with the hubby.

So instead of being angry I am thankful that I   got to spend extra time at home, listen to some Robert Plant and even get  a new hairdryer out of the deal. I crossed many things off my old to do list as well -- and yes, added a whole bunch more.

I sit here on the subway listening to some Apophenia and Jeff Buckley and look at the unhappy faces (looks like they listened to Sarah McLachlan today - just kidding people, lighten up). I am completely happy to know that this was not the end of the world -- especially when I look at others in my life right now (prayers to you all for healing, safety, enough ammunition and a healthy newborn). Let the sun shine in people -- even if you are the fool in the rain.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

MTV Celebrates 30 years of Music...sort of

Where it all began  Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles. Unbelievable what has changed in 30 years in music alone and what a force MTV WAS.
Yes, was. I don't count the recent MTV Video Music Awards or The Jersey Shore as marvels of pop culture as much I view them as train wrecks and bad attempts and being influential. I honestly wish Lady Gaga were around twenty years ago, but alas I recognize that we need her now more than ever.

MTV helped my music addiction. Although radio sufficed until we got cable - I know my music life would have been different had MTV not been created.Much of my life growing up was shaped by MTV (shock): what to wear, what to listen to, how to register to vote, even just background noise. I used to worship  MTV : Remote Control, House of Style, Denis Leary, Dial MTV, Club MTV (where I still cannot believe was filmed where I swim everyday),  Headbangers Ball - I could not get enough MTV.

Where did it all stop? Did the creation of the Real World ( the beginning of reality TV) become the beginning of the end of MTV? It is a joke now that MTV doesn't actually play music videos around the clock anymore. Think about it, MTV was so ground breaking and had such an impat on music culture that Dire Straits used their slogan I want my MTV in one of their songs.

Videos -- you waited for new releases or just seeing your favorites. Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, INXS, U2, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Poison, Madonna - so much influence from them to me in a 4 minute video. I wanted to preach about apartheid, wear Jean Paul Gualtier clothes, walk the Sunset Strip, ride motorcycles and save the world thanks to them. I learned the best dance moves for the Friday night dance and still think of the videos to this day when I hear certain songs. Hysteria by Def Leppard, Losing My Religion by REM and Girls Girls Girls by Motley Crue  have visual cues in my mind when I hear them. To be honest, even though I love her, I can't picture Poker Face or Bad Romance when I hear Lady Gaga on the radio. Take a random survey and many people my age and older will describe a song though it's video.

I don't remember my first MTV experience. I do know that I HAD to watch Dial MTV and the Top 20 Countdown to see what videos were #1. I remember wanting to go to NY to audition to be a dancer on Club MTV. VIDEOS people, this was about videos. They played them all the time - with only night time shows like the Half Hour Comedy Hour, Remote Control or House of Style. I do remember my first Video Music Awards. Yes the VMA's to all of you acronymizers - the giving of the Moon Man Trophy. It was where people dared to be outspoken: Madonna and her crotch grabbing, the Axl Rose and Vince Neil saga, and Pee Wee Herman asking us if we had Heard any good jokes lately?
It was from one of these performances on the Video Music Awards that created buzz for a show to be titled Unplugged. Believe it or not, Jersey Boys Bon Jovi and Sambora's acoustic version of Wanted Dead or Alive caught people so off guard that they wanted more and demanded a show. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Alice in Chains were only a handful of artists that performed some of their greatest moments acoustically.

Late nights, before the Howard Stern show on WWOR, I would tune into the Headbangers Ball with Riki Rachtman. When I was weaning myself off Paula Abdul and New Kids on the Block (do you notice that when I grew up we spelled things out) I had to turn to late nights to get my fill of what metal was not top 20. Towards 1991, the vibe began to change as the top interviewees were Mother Love Bone and Alice in Chains. Sadly, every time Layne Staley appeared on the show, the more out there he was.

MTV also paid respects to legends when they dedicated weekends to them: Queen, U2, Madonna. You learned everything about the artists and more. When was the last time you turned on MTV and learned that Freddy mercury was from Zanzibar or watched U2 videos A-Z?

Kurt Loder did his best to bring us the news, which sadly also included some of  music's saddest moments: the loss of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddy Mercury, Michael Hutchence, Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, Aliyah, Jeff Buckley just to name a few. And MTV news also pioneered with getting my generation involved in politics: Rock the Vote. I set up a voter registration booth for the 1996 election (but I was not allowed to don a flag, ala Madonna).We watched MTV broadcast the end of the Cold War and Heavy Metal Music breaking boundaries in the USSR:

And then IT happened. MTV created a new "reality" show where they put strangers into a loft in NYC and filmed them 24/7. I admit, I was hooked (and had a slight crush on Andre, who did call me by the way that summer). It was a novelty, but it was also pure - and no one "acted" for the cameras. But, as it became more popular, the call for shenanigans and craziness won and we had Road Rules and the Real World putting people in the Emergency Department with alcohol poisoning. It was the beginning of the end.

You cannot say that musicians make fewer videos now- or that people don't enjoy them as much. We all know the Internet probably had something to do with the downfall of the videos on MTV but not the downfall of the heart behind the channel. Yes, generations change and so do music tastes, but is it too hard to understand why MTV fails to be what it was. It is pure happiness for me to watch (how ironic) VH1 Classic promoting MTV's 30th anniversary. Maybe we are at the bottom of a curve and there will be a comeback. Now more than ever I WANT MY MTV!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Soul Lost No More

Today my bird flew away
gone to find her big blue jay
Starlight before she took flight
I sung a lullaby of bird land everynight
sung for my Ava every night

October Song

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


1/4 mile to the finish

Well, I did it. I ran my first half marathon. 13.1 miles of I can do this, why am I doing this, is it over yet, oh my God I am so close and wow, it wasn't that bad. All of the training and support paid off so well. It wasn't the training, it wasn't the right diet, the music helped (you will see below) but it was the mental preparation.

I know what a race feels like. I know what it feels to surge, to get a good steady pace, but I thought about how I would deal with a course I never ran, a possible schizophrenic Shuffle, tired legs, running in an elevation...the last mile. You have to mentally prepare for this is going to hurt, not as much as those sadists running 26.2 miles but life could get a little uncomfortable.

Of course, you know me. I think that if I maybe ran a few more days I would have done better than my 2:14:26 finish. But, in the end - I finished what I started. I think that signing up for the half would not have sufficed. Knowing that I was raising money for the Mario lemieux Foundation -- that people gave me money to run my best for a charity -- it kind of seals the deal.

The whole weekend was organized extremely well - from the packet pick-up to the corral system. I found a great sushi place to get a nice mix of noodles and some protein Friday night. I stared at my running bib for a while wondering what I had gotten myself into.

Saturday was a mix of nerves, carbo loading and taking in some Pittsburgh faves. I had never been to the Andy Warhol Museum. I trecked over the Robert Clemente Bridge - soon realizing, Oh my God, did I just jinx myself? This is the end of the race tomorrow. I stopped and did that mental thing - No, look at this spot. Tomorrow, when you come over this bridge *note this is also the final hill of the course * and you see the sign that reads: We Are Victorious. Remember how you feel. Remember the run not just the finish.

I spent two hours in the Warhol Museum - not realizing there was a keep at least a foot away from the painting rule...I wanted to see the brush strokes. I proceeded to the Strip - I needed food. It still amazes me this part of town - so diverse and so Pittsburgh.

Gaga World

The Strip

I ate my carbs at Rolands -- then ventured to the Heinz Museum to see the Sports History Exhibit. So much sporting history - The Crawford Grays, Roberto Clemente, Mario Lemieux.

I was THERE!
Ultimate fan

A Legend

The day was getting late -- no more procrastinating -- I had to rest. I had to run the 13.1 miles in my sleep.

The day was perfect.  A nice drizzle, kind of cool, and I felt the two carbo loading days - I felt energy and positive and READY TO KICK SOME PITTSBURGH ASPHALT! 

By some miracle, I was placed in the second corral with people who could run -- ha ha. Seriously, these were 8 minute milers. I had to remember to not rush - to pace. I cheated and listened to what my first song would be. Traveling Without Running by EMF...good pace song.

National Anthem, God Bless America...Oh my God the race just started. It was just like that. Run. The first mile was met with enthusiastic crowds, a drumming circle that played until the last runner / walker crossed, a fire breather and a lot of people who only cheered for their friends (boo Pittsburgh - we have names on our bibs for a reason). EMF, Lady Gaga, Skynyrd, so far so good.

The first four miles went well and I was on my way into the Northside. The crowds got bigger. Mile 5 heading towards the West End Bridge brought possibly my favorite moment - a full gospel choir. Seriously - if that does not motivate you than you should step aside and let me Glory Hallelujah to the South Side sister. We crossed the bridge as Cold Play - the anthem to last year's marathon played -- appropriate.

The South Side -- also known as the reason why i HATE flat stretches. Great people - costumes, gummy candy, music...and dehydrated on my end. I could feel it -- I had been drinking Gatorade and sipping water. My very pleasing 9:45 miles was diminishing. I stopped at the mile 11 fluid station...make or break - I drank two entire cups of water. Then I ran - and here comes the Forrest Gumpism -- I just started running. I miscalculated and was soon at the Smithfield Street Bridge - a surpise - I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT. In my head, I knew that the downtown stretch was a few blocks - Smithfield to Sixth - Roberto Clemente - finish.
Wait - there was one final goal. I forwarded through songs until I found it -- the song I vowed to end with -- Maniac by Michael Sembello. I knew it wouldn't take me to the end - I wanted to hear the crowd, Ryan Clark, I wanted to hear my feet cross the finish line.

The first lines killed me to tears -- Just a steel town girl on a Saturday night, lookin' for the fight of her life... I am a maniac. This song is Pittsburgh to me. Girl power. Overcoming obstacles. Achieving dreams.

Finally - 12.5 miles into the race as I crossed into the final hill of the race, the Roberto Clemente Bridge, just as I got into that zone of "remember this, remember the run" like the Voice from Field of Dreams took over in my head. Someone shouted my name  GO PAULA!!! Finally - someone can read!! Around the corner and down the chute. 2 hours 14 minutes and 26 seconds. I DID IT.

It feels amazing to know that I was able to take something that I never liked at all and learn to appreciate it. Now, I love it. I love the challenge of a new hill, lack of motivation and rain. I love learning about a new world and meeting new people. I can share this with my husband - who introduced me to running - and how it can give you a new outlook, a place to hide and a way to work out your mind. I don't know what is next - I would love to improve my time. I cannot fathom the life commitment of a full marathon - but I have learned to never say never.

What would this be without some music -- a little commentary on my Shuffle List:

1. Traveling Not Running - EMF Perfect for the pace -- ironic title
2. Judas - Lady Gaga I wanted to dance at this point -- and run next to Norman Reedus
3. Bang Bang Bang - The Virginmarys Good power song -- since people were silent
4. Fuel - Metallica Cranked this one
5. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd Would have preferred this at the end - on Carson Street
6. Channel Z - B-52s Took me back to 6th grade
7. I'm Still Standing - Elton John I began to feel like Elton was mocking me at this point
8. I'm Being Followed - Duran Duran One of my new faves -- the sirens help run fast
9. Vida la Vida - Coldplay Last year's anthem for the marathon - motivation
10. Rolling in the Deep - Adele I think I was strutting to this...sing it Adele!
11. Rockaway Beach - Ramones Where I wanted to be with a beer at this point
12. State of Love and Trust - Pearl Jam One of my fave PJ songs, don't remember this
13. The Fly - U2 I began to think about Bono chasing me in the Fly outfit ... dehydration
14. Against the Wind - Bob Seger The Gump moment...
15. Working on the Highway - Bruce Springstreen Nice pick me up
16. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen Had an 80's moment here
17. Pride and Joy - Stevie Ray Vaughan For anyone who knows my history with SRV -- LOVE
18. Dance Tonight - Paul McCartney Lighthearted for the tough beginning on Carson St.
19. Powerful Stuff - Fabulous Thunderbirds Had doubts at this point --needed water
20. Same Direction - INXS Yeah - not too enthused at this point.
21.Moneygrabber - Fitz and the Tantrums Small burst of energy -- think it was the gummy saver
22.Tennessee River - Alabama love this song - quickly forwarded it for motivation
23. 40 - Franz Ferdinand Now we are talking! still want water
25. Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds WATER!!!!
26. Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash Miraculously -- I was saved
27. Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode Singing out loud I think...imagining I was carrying a folsing chair through the moutains with a cape and crown ... oh, that wasn't me.
28. Hey Hey (What Can I Do) - Led Zeppelin Robert Plant I love you
29. Major Tom - Shiny Toy Guns remix
30. Truckin' The Grateful Dead Good song for cruise control...but I have some time... Wait, bridge bridge, no I don't!!!
Skipped  some songs
31. Maniac - Micahel Sembello


The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start (John J. Bingham)
The reward

Monday, May 2, 2011

3500 Days

Courtesy of NYTimes...Ladder 4 The Pride of Midtown

Disbelief. Closure. Anger. Sadness. Bittersweet. That pretty much sums up the feelings of the news that Bin Laden was killed. When the news of the President making an "unannounced subject speech" was made, three things came to mind: UBL was caught, peace in the Middle East was secretly secured or someone accidentally pressed the red button in Moscow and nuclear annihilation was imminent. Geraldo was the first I heard say anything about Bin Laden. Everyone assumed it was news about Libya.

Who knew the day would be capped with news of Bin Laden's demise. There was the initial - wow-finally. But the was soon followed by the thought of "it's not over." No, the death of Biden does not signify the end of AQ or terrorism, it is more symbolic if anything else.
As terrorism goes, Al Qaeda was not ruled by Bin Laden so much anymore, he was more like the Queen of England, a figure head, but a powerful one at that. His death, which some may call a martyrdom, could be a catalyst for the extremists. It is time for us to be more vigilant - we have stirred the hornets nest indeed.

For the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones on 9/11, from the Deutschebank fire, and who died fighting overseas, I wish them a sense of closure. Bin Laden was the face of 9/11, although we all know the enemy is faceless and an extremist theology wrought with hatred and retribution. This has been going on since Isaac and Ishmael (look it up - it's in the Bible).

3500 days have passed since that blue sky September day. Once I got home tonight - I watched familiar faces on the news, men I call friends relieved that their brother firefighters received justice. They rushed to Ground Zero - as they did over 3500 days ago - this time to celebrate then seeming closure of a wound that will always remain open. I watched the Concert for New York: Mike Moran telling Osama to kiss his royal Irish Ass, Paul McCartney talking about his father, a fireman; Cop, Fireman, Rockstar there to heal with Music. Tears and memories of our world that changed so quickly 10 years ago.

No matter how you feel about today -- I ask that you simply follow this: Never Forget.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Won't You Kick With Me?

Today, another talented, young musician lost his battle with heroin: Mike Starr of Alice In Chains. It shocked me I think, not just his death, but that heroin is still so prevalent. I have been touched numerous times by losses because of this drug - and to defend them - they simply cannot stop. They know it is wrong - but the need and the euphoria overcomes reality and hurt.

When the whole Seattle scene first hit - a little earlier for me, pre-PJ and Nirvana. It was Mother Love Bone. It was Andrew Wood - the combination of Marc Bolan, Freddy Mercury and, well, himself. Flamboyant, talented, loving - an addict. In the end, it wasn't the really the bad batch of heroin that took him away from this world - it was an allergic reaction to a medication he received after he OD'd - BUT that addiction, something he knew was killing him, overpowered him and won. He is not alone. Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, Jimmy -  my friend and someone I spent years laughing with, singing with, swooning over and respecting when I recognized his gift as an artist. I cannot hear Stairway or see an And Justice for All T shirt without thinking of him.

It hurts because you want to say, it's so sad that they all died so young - it's not like they had cancer or were in a car accident - but, they were sick. Have you ever seen someone withdraw? The movie Trainspotting gives people a good look at what heroin can do - it brings the best down.

BUT - there are positive stories. Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, who used to talk to stuffed Wizard of Oz dolls like they were real, or Nikki Sixx who had his heart shocked twice when he OD'd - overcoming heroin addiction can happen. Overcoming drug addiction can happen - Robert Downey, Jr or Stevie Ray Vaughan are perfect examples.

Is this an anti-drug rant - hardly. This is just a plea to help those who are addicted - they are beyond recreational - their lives hang in the balance. When you stop to think of the talent lost - the loves left alone to wonder if they could have saved them. Lynyrd Skynryd's song  That Smell  is actually a good example of friends trying to help. About their guitarist Gary Rossington and an infamous car crash, Ronnie Van Zant must have thought telling Gary via song for the whole world to hear was a good way to get his point across:

Angel of darkness is upon you.
Stuck a needle in your arm (you, fool, you)
So take another toke, have a blow for your nose,
one more drink, fool, would drown you. (hell, yeah)

I think a lot of people are hurt right now - Mike had people rooting for him on Celebrity Rehab - and we'll never know what happened inside of his mind. All I can say is, be there for them - if they know they can turn to you, maybe they will. They'll reach out to you and ask you to kick with them.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Music can bring you home

Way back in April of 2011, I was told about the need for extras for a film. The need: an audience of Grateful Dead fans for a 1980's concert scene. The movie: The Music Never Stopped, based on the real life story The Last Hippie, by Oliver Sacks. The story, just like Awakenings, was inspired by real life events written by Dr. Sacks. The story is about a father and son who are able to reconnect through music, after the son is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Now, I gathered bits and pieces of the story as we waited for our moment on screen. Everyone was decked out in their finest Dead Head attire: tie dye, beads, head bands, you name it. We listened to two songs over and over and over and over and over - sometimes with us making noise - other times with us miming. Sometimes we had the actors reading their lines, others it was a free-for all jamming 1980's dead concert - complete with Jerry and the band. I cannot hear Truckin' ever again without thinking of that movie shoot.

The day finally came - a free screening prior to its release at Sundance (yes folks, Sundance). No previews, no dancing candy or soda commercials. The movie just started.

I have never seen a movie that captured the power of music more than this. And the beauty of it is - it's a true story! It's not made up - not science fiction. A father and son reconnected because of the power of music. It might not have the most exciting plot or fancy screenwriting, but it is powerful nonetheless, especially if you like love music. Not only do some of the songs catch you and make you go back to the moment when you first heard it, you begin to think back to moments of time with your parents, your teenage years and the music you blared around the house.

By the way - you cannot see me in the film because I am somewhere in the crowd). Seeing that moment you filmed, the twelve hours of stop and go for three minutes on screen is a reward and it makes you understand how much work goes into a film.

So, why go see this film? It's simple, hopeful, beautiful and inspiring. No violence, no special effects, just music and how it can heal. For those of you who have read this blog before, you know I subscribe to the notion of music as therapy. It can transport you to a memory, become a band-aid on a bad day or just a way to escape the now. To quote the tag line of the movie: No matter how lost you are, music can bring you Home.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I run with Dave Matthews Every Day

True, sort of...except I have not gotten my butt to run everyday and Dave is on my iPod. The first race I ever ran, Dave got me through it. I wasn't even going to run it - until I saw everyone else fly past me. I had my iPod shuffle, but I first thought - I only have Dave Matthews to listen to. Let me tell you something - Dave Matthews is surprisingly good running music for long runs. He keeps me at a consistent pace and just when I need it - during Too Much - and when I was running up the hill that seemingly ends every race - he told me to "Suck it up Suck it up" and I did.

Music usually doesn't accompany my workouts - which are usually in the pool. I know, "why don't you have a waterproof mp3 player?" Because the water is where I think, where silence is meet with zen and all I need to think about is breathing , keeping my head down, not rotating my shoulders, and flip turn. In the water I am my own enemy. On the road, I am my only friend.

I know the "rules" for serious runs is that iPods are discouraged. I understand the safety aspect of this rule. However, if running on a course with no vehicular traffic - I find the mish mosh of pattering feet, staggered breathing, talking to oneself and spitting a little, I don't know, really distracting. Maybe it is simply my love of music, that I get lost in it - maybe it is a weakness - but I need it when I run or my pace becomes as erratic as Charlie Sheen in the Plaza.

I honestly don't get overjoyed by the aspect of running. It is in fact a little yeah with sarcasm swirling about when I think about doing it. So why - well, if swimming is my release, than running is my challenge. It is something I have to work at - a lot.  But, as a way to defer the "oh my God, this isn't fun." I try to always run a race with meaning - a charity or memorial race. It also gets you thinking while you are running about why you are dedicated to that particular race. For example, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Race traces the final steps of Firefighter Stephen Siller from Squad 1 on 9/11, through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and to the World Trade Center.

My most recent challenge to myself is three-fold: 1) Run my first 15K at the Colon Cancer Challenge in Central Park,  2) Run the very hilly Memorial 3.2 mile race at Virginia Tech in April. (at a 2200 ft altitude in the mountains) and 3) Run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May - raising money for the Mario Lemieux Foundation to help build a playroom in the new Walter Reed Medical Center for children of injured veterans.  For this, I need to not be lazy, not say, tomorrow is another day - I need to run as often as I can - remembering why I am running.

Like the time that Dave told me to suck it up suck it up as I ran up that hill of infinity, I need thoughts of the 18 wheeler chasing after me in the Enter Sandman video, the driving sound of Robert Plant singing Trampled Underfoot,  Geeze, I would settle for the six pack abs of Marky mark and the Funky Bunch pushing me the final mile.

The VT remembrance run will have it's own soundtrack of course - Dave Matthews, U2, maybe even some Phish. That is a run to remember, not really a race.

My half marathon - I am so excited. It will be filled with Pittsburgh music: Donnie Iris, Rusted Root, a polka or two, some Steeler songs...and this. I want to finish the race to this song. I would even prefer it blaring at the finish line. Sorry Dave, even  though we've been through so much together, and I know that a nice long version of Watchtower or Ants Marching will find me around mile 7...this must be heard by all when I accomplish my mission of 13 miles: