Baseball, Ray

 It’s really hitting me hard today. We’re all struggling to adjust and adapt, to find some normalcy in this madness, to come up with a routine, to live in the moment, to find some joy and beauty among the fear and sadness.

Today’s a tough pill to swallow. I’ve always said that the saddest day of the year is the last game of the World Series. Today is even sadder.

 It’s not just a game. 

 This too shall pass. 


Pandemic 2020 – 3.25.20

Facebook’s asking me, “What’s on your mind Joel”. Well, glad that you asked 🙂

Here’s something I heard today:

“My mother is not expendable, and your mother is not expendable, and our brothers and sisters are not expendable and we’re not going to accept the premise that human life is disposable,” Cuomo said. “We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life.” 

NY President Andrew Cuomo, March 24, 2020

May I be frank for a minute? I’ve been doing my best to remain positive, to not resort to invective, to post mostly positive commentary, to take the high road, to offer hope, to focus on “We’re going to be fine”. And I believe that the vast majority of us will be.

But I’m a little angry tonight. My step-son Jason just said, “Trump is a piece of shit” and I thought, “No. That’s not right. He’s like 10 pieces of shit fused together”. This fucking syphilitic, narcissistic, cloven hoofed, fucking loquat is going to kill an untold number of Americans with his “commerce first, what’s in it for me?” immoral, sick, psychotic, profiteering off of misery, bull fucking shit. And down in Alabamy, and Oklahoma, and in Evangelical *clusters*, ignorant buffoons are having their #COVID45 rallies and incubating mass destruction. And in some ways, that’s just fine. Let their God damned Lord sort it out. But what about the “collateral damage”? It won’t just be jackass trolls getting sick, and suffocating our health care system and stacking their neighbors corpses in refrigeration trucks because there’s too fucking many to bury and no one to bury them. Fer fux ache people. Do you EVER think about the rest of the world?

Breathe, Joel. Breathe.

Now breathe again.


Listen. I’m heartened that many, many state Governors are in charge now, not Cinnamon Hitler. I’m grateful to live in a state where California President Newsom is calling the shots, not this useless game show host and serial-failed businessman. And I’m grateful to live in a community that seems to be pulling for each other and, for the most part, following the advice of the Professionals. 

Today was wonderful for the most part. I heard and saw a lot of beauty in this darkness (it’s everywhere if you look hard enough for it) and I loved and I felt love. And I know I’ll wake up in the morning (that’s the plan anyway) next to my Sweetheart, my soulmate, my wife and my Perfect Plague Partner. Yes, we’re scared and we’re worried, more for our loved ones and our neighbors and humanity in general than our own personal selves, but we remain optimistic that this too shall pass and somehow, something good will come of it. I KNOW it will.

For the survivors anyway. 

Goodnight, my friends. Sleep tight. Tomorrow is another day.


P.S. OMG. Malachi Constant, Unk, the Space Wanderer just popped into my head. I think it’s the perfect time to read Sirens of Titan again! My favorite book and totally relevant to our current situation and the hope that I am cultivating.

Pandemic 2020

March 22, 2020

I’ll say this about the pandemic. It has truly helped me focus on today.

 I know I’m my best self when I’m living a life of gratitude, but it isn’t always easy to remember to stay in a positive space.

Until now.

 I’m finding that, once I got past the initial terror and shock, and turned the news off, life has become great. I wake up each day next to the woman I love with all my heart. I’m blessed to work from home and tomorrow Nickie starts working from home too. I check in with my family and we tell each other that we love each other. I scroll past the horror stories on Facebook and land on the many positive posts where people are sharing music and humor and stories of kindness and hope. I feel such gratitude that we are healthy and fed, that we still have income and medical insurance. We are so blessed. We have what we truly need for today. 

 This afternoon, we drove on empty freeways enjoying the clearest blue skies we’ve seen in forever, arriving at the ranch where our horses were delighted to see us. We sat out in their pasture for hours, the horses coming up and putting their faces against ours. They feel the energy and just love on us as we love on them. Today, they actually led us to their leads, imploring us to take them to the hitching post where we groom them and let them eat the long grass. At these times, there is no worry in our worlds, just pure love. I’m so, so very grateful for today.

 Afterwards, we drove to our favorite burger joint, hoping against hope that the drive through (which we’ve never used before) would be open. It was! The first words to come through the speaker were a cheery, “Thank you so much for coming”, to which we replied, “Thanks so much for being here for us!” I’m finding this everywhere I go. People actually seem happier, more courteous, nicer. Maybe it’s just the way I’m seeing the world, but either way I’m feeling a lot of love.

 As far as getting sick, I’m pretty convinced that I’ve had this crud for a week or more. Seriously. I’ve had mild sniffles and headaches and sore throat and a pesky little dry cough. Of course, this is probably just first week of spring allergies, but if I remain convinced that I have low grade symptoms of the virus, I’m no longer afraid that I’m going to get it. Liberation from fear is so powerful.

Bottom line, I feel happier than I have in a long time. Every day is a gift, a miracle, and I’m so grateful for all of the blessings in my life.

As bobwhite once said, “Tomorrow’s gonna be what tomorrow’s gonna be tomorrow.”

Until then, today is pretty great! 

Love to all! I hope you’re finding peace and hope and love and humor. You deserve it


Good Lord, is it really 2020? Not much more to say other than I’m revisiting my old website, trying to fix shit that got broken (my entire media library is gone! Broken links everywhere…) and find something better to do with my time than play solitaire or do crossword puzzles. Hope it’s fun 🙂

And how better to start the new year than to attach a screenshot from me in Chaka Khan’s 1985 music video for her hit Through the Fire? I’m the skinny guy on the left 🙂

Happy New Year.


I have so much to be thankful for.

I enjoyed a truly delicious feast with my wife and four of our kids this evening. Good food, great company and, of course, we are all constantly entertained by my Grandson Javi. Javi is 13 months old, so he is a ball of energy. After dinner, sprung from his high chair, he is non-stop walking, or more like stumbling like a tiny little drunkard, bouncing off of things, falling on his butt, getting right back up and doing it again and again and again, grinning all the way. You try to pick him up, well… you know how babies are, when you pick them up, they turn to liquid and dribble down the front of you ’til they’re back on the ground, off to wobble another lap around the room.

I pull out my screen to show Molly the awesome new Beatles video (Glass Onion). She’s totally into it! And Javi wanders up and leans on my thigh. So I pick him up, put him on my lap and this is what we looked like for the next half hour as we watched damn near every Beatles video on iTunes.

All through it, I’m rocking him to the beat and he starts grooving out. LOL. A couple of times, I stopped and he looked at me like, “Hey! Don’t stop. Let’s rock!”

The next generation of Beatles fan. Yeah, yeah, yeah 🙂



I lived in Los Angeles from 1980-1993. I made a lot of great friends there, started a long career, played music in damn near every club, heck, my kids were born there and my Dad lived out his years there. Guess that makes me part Angelino.

Back in those days, Tower Records and all of the big record labels had season seats, so I could pretty much go to any game I wanted. For several years in the late ‘80s, during the Dodgers’ glory years of Fernando, Pedro, Orel, Sax, Gibson, Scoscia… Opening Day meant a limo to the park, box seats behind the Dodger dugout and free food. According to my ticket stub collection, I went to over 30 Dodger games in 1986 alone (I lived 10 minutes from the park, so I’d go all the time, even if it was just for an hour before heading to a concert).

But my favorite Dodger Stadium memory happened in the 1st inning of Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS. This turned out to be a game of infamy for the Dodgers, the “Jack Clark game”. The Dodgers were leading 5-4 with two outs in bottom of the 9th, one out away from forcing a game 7, when Mr. Clark hit a heartbreaking 3-run homer. Three outs later, the Cardinals celebrated on the Dodgers field.

But back to the first inning…

Spoiler alert – Kenny G performed the National Anthem (we all took a knee for that one. LOL).

So, I’m getting settled in to my seat right behind home plate – IN THE UPPER DECK – when a guy approaches me and asks for my autograph.

I’ll say that again. A guy approaches me and asks for my autograph.

MY autograph.

I say, “Um… I’m not all that famous, Chuckle. Chuckle”.

And the guy replies, “I respect your privacy, just need a quick autograph and I’ll let you enjoy the game”.

And I say, “No seriously, I don’t think I’m who you think I am”.

But this dude is now all in. He can’t back down and folks are starting to take notice (“DOWN IN FRONT”).

He says, “I really don’t want to make a big fuss. Just give me that autograph please”.
Finally, I have to know. “Um… Who do think I am?”.

And he says…“You’re Kenny G”.
Me: “Um… No, I’m not”.
Him, getting frustrated… “Yes, you are”.
Me: “Seriously, bro. Do you think that, a) You play the anthem and then get seated IN THE UPPER DECK?! and, b) How do you suppose that I got up here this quick?!”

Then I actually pull out my wallet; show him my freakin’ ID and say, “Look. I’m not Kenny G”.

I swear to God, he looks at the ID and says…

“I get it. Stage name”.

Completely humiliated, he finally says, “Well can you just sign your name?”.

And I “autographed” his ticket stub.

True story – this I swear.

And the stars look very different today

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence

Nothing I can say about Bowie that hasn’t already been said better.
The short version – David, your music has been part of the soundtrack of my life since I was 11 or 12 years old. Your passing cuts deeply. You were more than a musician, more than a writer, more than an artist, more than a star. You were, and always will be, a true icon.

Every weekend, Molly, who has somehow become 16 years old (time flies when you’re having fun?) and I go on long drives. She, naturally, controls the music. Over the course of our journeys, I can l always depend on the fact that I’m going to hear Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, All the Young Dudes…

The two best lines I’ve heard on this mournful day:
“If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”
“No more crying. David Bowie wouldn’t want us to waste the eye liner”

Rest in peace David.
Thank you.

P.S. Thanks for turning me on to Stevie Ray!

Photo by Masayoshi Sukita

September 25, 2014 Bronx, NY

Ya know, I’m not the most worldly guy, but I’ve witnessed a few things. I’ve seen a couple of babies born, watched a couple of folks draw their last breath. I’ve driven through a forest fire, seen a bus blown apart by a suicide bomber. I’ve walked the walls of Jerusalem, sung on gold records, had Michael Jackson call my home. I’ve stood on the beaches of Normandy, wandered the streets of Auschwitz, been in the presence of two popes, been moved to uncontrollable sobbing by the Sistine Chapel.

 I’m not sure where what I witnessed tonight will rank, but I know I’ll never adequately find words to describe it. To stand, screaming myself hoarse with my wonderful daughter and 48,611 of our closest friends, having the privilege to be present for what will undoubtedly go down as one of the most iconic moments in sports history…



As we chanted in unison from the 7th inning on,

Thank you Derek!

All Things Must Pass

So, I hear that Colin Hanks’ Tower Records documentary is being screened in Los Angeles. I didn’t hear about this from the director or from the Tower brass. A former employee posted it on my Facebook timeline. I thank her for recognizing that I had a role in this company’s rise and fall.

I don’t delude myself that I was one of the top 25, or even 50 or 100, all-time MTS employees. I don’t imagine, if Tower had a Hall of Fame, that I’d be an inductee. I recognize that when I arrived on the scene, while not yet a worldwide, or even national, company, Tower Records was indeed already an iconic and revolutionary chain. Heck, that’s why I applied for a job within days of moving to Los Angeles in 1980. It’s the only place I wanted to work.

Still, I am a bit surprised, disappointed and curious that, other than a brief introductory email exchange in 2011 (“we’ll be in touch soon”), Mr. Hanks did not feel that I was worthy of even a five minute phone pre-interview by his lowest staff member. After all, I did work for Tower for 26 years. I was the Manager of Tower Sunset, “the most famous record store in the world” during its peak years. I was the pioneer of computerized inventory management for the chain. I founded Tower Israel (employee #1) and opened three stores in the Middle East. To my knowledge, I was the only person in Tower history to manage Store of the Year award winners at three different locations. And, for the last four difficult years of the chain, I was the Director of Purchasing for all US stores, overseeing $1.6 billion in sales. When they finally shuttered the place, I wonder how many staffers remained with an employee number lower than my #3047.

I look forward to seeing Mr. Hanks’ movie. I’m sure it will be glowing with well-deserved and sentimental, nostalgic praise for his hometown chain that conquered the world. I’m sure I’ll learn new things about those first ten years, gain new insight into the legends and mentors that preceded me and feel my own swell of pride for any tiny role I played in this iconic American success story. And I’m particularly interested in seeing how he portrays the demise. For long after the titans had left the building, after the passing of Bud Martin and Tony Valerio, the departures of Hopson, Sockolov (Ross and later Kenny), Barton, Viducich, Goman, Scarlett, MTS himself… and after Russ had lost all relevance, the fight went on. I wonder if this is covered in any detail. Is there mention of those who struggled through those last couple of years to keep the old gal afloat with smoke and mirrors, baling wire and duct tape? Is there any sentiment for the thousands of employees who fought on with no glory, no pay raises, no golden parachutes and, in the end, no severance packages whatsoever? Will their love, passion and selfless dedication be acknowledged?

And, will Russ ultimately take any responsibility for his epic financial blunders and loss of vision? Or will it be his usual litany of blame: Napster, the internet, downloading, record companies (that wouldn’t listen to him and produce more singles and classical records) and “those fucking banks”. Will Tower’s demise just be chalked up, like buggy whips and steam locomotives, to all things (such as record stores), must inevitably pass?

As an insider, and an eyewitness to the bitter end, I ain’t buying that story!

I recognize that this post is not likely to be embraced, but I feel I’m entitled to my point of view, my perspective, my feelings.

And, all that aside, I do sincerely thank Russ Solomon for signing my paycheck for 26 years. It was indeed, a great ride. Thank you sir.

Employee #3047:
1980-1991 Tower Sunset – W. Hollywood, CA
1991-1993 Tower Topanga – Woodland Hills, CA
1993-1995 Tower Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Israel (employee #1)
1995-2002 Tower Stockton – Stockton, CA
2002-2006 Corporate Headquarters, 2500 Del Monte, West Sacramento, CA, USA

P.S. In the Facebook post, I included a photo that I had sent to Kickstarter by way of introducing myself. I call it Hallow Ween (from Tower Sunset,1980). Facebook took it down.

As far reaching, and invasive, as their tentacles are, I don’t believe they can remove it from MY website. Here it is:

the Beatles

That was so awesome! And what class.

“We have to mention that we were in a band and it was called the Beatles”.

So many bands out there, R&R Hall of Fame bands, still playing their hits even though 1/2 of the original members are long gone. As far as I’m concerned, if those two legends had gone out there last night and played those songs under the banner “the Beatles”, I wouldn’t have found it one tiny bit less thrilling. The live audience sure seemed to agree!

If you had a choice to BUY tickets for one concert tomorrow, featuring real live current line-ups, would you go see:

1) the Rolling Stones
2) the Beach Boys
3) the Allman Brothers
4) the Who
5) Fleetwood Mac
6) the Eagles
7) the Beatles (billed as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr since they’re too cool to pimp the brand without John and George).

Me? I’d see “the Beatles” 10 times before even thinking about one of the other bands. No contest.

And hey, just saying, with all due respect to Anderson, Laboriel, Wickens & Ray, I’d rather see Paul and Ringo with Ringo’s current band. Lukather & Frampton are a SERIOUS upgrade!