Archive for December, 2007

Happy Holidays to one and all

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Here it is the Sunday before Christmas and I was feeling very smug that, unlike all those last-minute procrastinators, I had all my gift shopping out of the way. A week ago, I took an entire day, list in hand, and did not come home until I was finished. When I was done, I felt like I had just completed a marathon, but at least it was behind me. Ah, I thought, now I can sit back and enjoy the holiday in peace.

Wrong. I forgot about the kids. They came to me a little bit ago and said, “So Dad, you’re taking us to the mall today so we can do our shopping, right?” The mall? The one with the horrible traffic even in the middle of August? Two shopping days before Christmas? “Ummm, sure kids. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.” Hey, I figure it’s the only way I’m going to get a gift out of them. So we’re off in a few minutes to battle the crowds. I promise I will do my best to not get grumpy.

But first I wanted to wish you all a great and happy holiday and a prosperous new year. Thanks for all your notes, friendship and support from all over the world this past year. It means a lot to me. See you back here after the holiday.

Jingle Woof!

John

The Power of Neil

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

I’ve been a huge Neil Young fan for as long as I can remember, but until last week I had only seen him once — in a giant outdoor arena in Toronto in 1974 in the pouring rain. He was with Crosby, Stills and Nash, and I spent the concert soaked and shivering. Nonetheless, I was smitten.

I’ve always loved Neil’s music, but I love something else about him, as well, and that is the way he has led his life, balancing fame and family and always following his creative muse even when it might make better business sense to follow more predictable paths. So when I learned he was coming to the intimate Tower Theater just outside Philadelphia, I jumped for tickets. The show sold out in minutes, and the best we managed was to nab four seats together in the lower balcony and one seat off to the side and far back on the main floor. I took the lone seat so Jenny and our three kids could be together.

We split up in the lobby, Jenny and the kids heading to their seats and me to mine. I had just sat down when dumb luck struck. A young couple approached me and asked if I were sitting alone. They had a favor to ask. They were unable to buy two seats together, and wondered if I would swap tickets so they could sit together. “Mine’s actually a better seat,” the man volunteered. I was leery. What if I handed over my ticket only to discover I had traded for a nosebleed seat? He must have sensed my hesitance because he offered to show me the seat. We wound through the theater together and ended up….at seventh row center. I couldn’t believe it. “You must really be in love,” I told the guy as I handed him my ticket. He nodded that he was, and we shook hands.

The concert was great, and, true to form, Neil was still following his muse, delivering a quirky mix of songs, ignoring the shouted requests for favorite hits. At 62, he’s still rocking hard and showing no signs of slowing down…not a bad role model for the rest of us. To the guy who swapped tickets with me so he could sit with his girlfriend: Thank you. And to his girlfriend: I think you have a keeper there.