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: