Saturday, August 29, 2009

Going to College

These past two days have been amazing. Here's N., turning 19 tomorrow, at his college campus, SUNY-Cobleskill. While we've always set short-term and long-term goals for N., and college was always, at least in my mind, a real possibility, seeing him in that setting, with the rest of his freshman class, was a mind blower.

Why? Because N. is high-functioning autistic. Don't tell him that. When you mention it he protests, with a bit of a whine. Recently, when he heard someone says he was autistic, he rebutted, "No, I'm authentic." And he is.

When we got his acceptance letter in early October last year, it was, in itself, enough. N. had been accepted to college, completely on his own merits. There was nothing on the application that would have given anyone at the school a glimpse at his, as they say, "special needs." What a great moment.

In December, he and I went to Cobleskill, and met with the Dean of Liberal Arts, the head of disabilities and one of N.'s possible Graphics professors. She got him right away, giving him a tour of the computer building, pointing out the bathrooms (which he loves) and bringing him in to a senior lab. He studied what the older kids were doing and, as I watched him intently look at their work, I felt that he could make a go of this.

This past Thursday he checked in, got his freshman T-shirt and lined up his support network - note takers, test accommodations, etc. On Friday, N. and his entourage (meaning his parents and his aide) sat at the orientation speech. He didn't listen; neither did most of the new students.
We marched to the School of Liberal Arts meeting and he had a group picture taken. N. went missing for a bit after this. He was found sitting in the back of a study hall with a large group, where his mom found him quite at ease. That's it. Classes start Monday.

He's got all the fixins - new Mac Book laptop, an iPod touch, a Go phone - he's only mildly interested in what other kids would go crazy over. Homework is becoming a worry - he likes doing it at school and maybe he will.

Everything is falling in place. We have a one on one aide situation set up, replicating his public school experience. We have all the on campus support lined up and have made good connections. The professor we met back in December will be his adviser. We've done our part, now it's up to him. Can he succeed? Can he graduate from college? Damned if I know, but we've always set the bar high for him and he hasn't let us down yet.

He calls college his "Cobleskill adventure." We're all on board for the ride.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shared Experiences

I have this battle waging when I blog - I want to share personal stories but really take great care to avoid naming names, especially when it comes to family. I recoil from bloggers who write sensitive material about their closest friends and family - not appropriate in my figurative book. For today, I'll use a Kafkaesque "first initial" construct to tell my tales.

R. has been very much into the music scene lately. He's the one who got harassed at the Woodstock Museum last month (Back to the Garden?, July 22). In no way did that mar the Woodstock experience for him. We've been dedicated to getting through the giant 40th Anniversary DVD set of the Festival and watched the director's cut Friday and Saturday.

Now, I've loved and enjoyed my kids at every age, but don't let people fool you that the teenage years are the toughest. They have their pitfalls, no doubt, but, maybe because I still feel viscerally connected to that age, I'm getting a lot of fun out of this time. So, when R. and I watch 3-4 hours of Woodstock, and I can share with him some musical history, it's top notch father-son time.

We are so different in one way. R. just came back from a fossil trip in Wyoming and he totally digs (pun intended) being out in a dry, hot, dusty, dirty fossil formation, chiseling away all day in pursuit of a find. Not me. I firmly believe in the power of indoors. As we observed the hippies sliding in the mud, it was clear that R. would not have been averse to being there. He told me that he and his best friend talk often about how awesome it would have been to be at Woodstock. I can't say the same, but I admire where he's coming from.

I've written about N., our autistic oldest, and will probably write more as he embarks on his college "adventure" (as he calls it). Last week, while the rest of our crew was hammering dirt out west, N. and I went to New York. He's easy to please. His demands centered around pizza, deli and museums. I could pick the places.

Driving down from Cooperstown, the GPS decided to take us via Route 17. I was willing to follow. I hadn't been that way in decades, but it was the path I used to take from Staten Island to Binghamton. It was very evocative and put me in a nostalgic frame of mind. When we stopped for a bathroom break, the trip back in time was nailed down when I saw a giant Hostess Coffee Cake. We've been back East for over six years but I'd not seen one of those beauties yet. They are positively Proustian in their ability to take me right back to my youth, a Madeleine, Brooklyn-style. With the first bite and I could see myself sitting on my bike with its green banana seat and cushy back rest, driving down Canarsie ramps to the driveways below. (I do prefer them chilled, though. The cakes, not the driveways).

N. and I had a great time at Lombardi's, then Ferrara's, where he surreptitiously ordered himself a second dessert of gelato. Then, off to the UN Plaza, a side trip to Macy's Herald Square where I browsed cut price CDs as he pored through bargain DVDS. Down to the 2nd Ave. Deli for dinner and, next day, The Morgan Museum. While N. is not the greatest conversationalist around, he's always a hoot to hang with and we had a blast at some of my old stomping grounds.

My youngest, J., is an excellent musician and last night he had a slot in a local variety show. J. played "Just Like a Woman" on guitar. (I kept busting his chops all week - "Don't you do everything 'just like a woman'?" I promised I would heckle him, but didn't). He was great. Though he had the words memorized, the Dylan lyric book was on the floor beside him just in case. When he forget some of the second verse, he threw back his head and yelled, "Oh God!" It was so sweet and, even though he had already won over the crowd, they were in the palm of his hand from then on. He nailed it.

Sitting at the back of the Pierstown Grange Hall, I couldn't help marvel at what J. was doing and that he was my son. That's sort of the theme of each day. Here are these three near adults - 13, 16 and 19 - and they are my kids. Not just children who I love, that goes without saying, but a bunch of guys whose company I seek out and revel in. That's no small feat, to raise children you genuinely like and choose to be with. I'm very lucky and know it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jeff Katz, Culture Wanderer

I've been thinking a lot lately of the Jeff Katz of May 1984, just out of college and beginning to work on Wall Street. Maybe it's because I've recently gotten back in touch with a few friends from SUNY-Binghamton, maybe it's because I think about myself too much. When I graduated after four years of taking almost nothing but history, political science and literature courses, I knew enough to know how little I knew. College put me on the right path to have an open mind about books and music. I wouldn't say I had much of an open mind before then.

One of the life-changing courses I took was Russian lit with Rima Salys, a name that is awfully hard to forget. (There's one other professor I had, Otto Ulc, who had been a judge in Communist Czechoslovakia and had crazy stories about the KGB and mainland China. I'll write about that some day). Salys also taught Russian language, which I took for a semester before it became too hard.

Russian lit hit me hard. That depressing outlook couldn't have been more in line with my world view. Dostoevsky, Lermontov, Gogol - wow! I can recall taking the Staten Island Ferry to work, letting all the tourists get a good view of the Statue of Liberty, as I sat on an outside bench thinking how I would never be able to read all of these books. Dostoevsky's novels were so huge, I could never get through them all.

Commuting for the next 20 years allowed me to read voraciously, nearly one book per week. I look back at how much I've read. Yes, I've gone through almost all the Russian novels I wanted to read at 21 years old, all of Dostoevsky. Not Tolstoy though, I hate that bore. And I think of the 20 or so Graham Greene books I've gone through, and my lengthy Jame Joyce phase, when I read Ulysses twice and Finnegans Wake once. In fact, after reading Ulysses and a companion criticism entitled The Argument of Ulysses (by Stanley Sultan). I contacted the author of the latter for guidance on approaching Wake. He gave me some handy tips and later told his class that Joyce had relevance to the real world using me as the example. All I could think was a lecture hall full of teenagers thinking, "What kind of dork reads Ulysses when he doesn't have too?" That'd be me.

Having run the campus record store, Slipped Disc, for two years, I was immersed in music, but just starting to get into jazz. I had a decent record collection and hopes of steady growth even though I now had to pay for my platters. It's ridiculous the changes in music possession in the last 25 years and between CDs, free CDs at the library to burn on iTunes, huge record collections that were dumped on my doorstep by people who no longer had any use for them and the joy of eBay, where my LP and CD lot buying binges can be satisfied, I now have thousands and thousands of pieces at my fingertips. I look at it as another learning experience, like books only shorter. In researching my other blog, Maybe Baby or, You Know That It Would Be Untrue), I hit on bands that I may have not known of (like The Pretty Things) or have little of (like The Small Faces). Determined and patient searching of eBay brought me a pile of CDs of each and, voila, instant coverage of groups I had no experience with.

Movies were also a passion but, as I tell my kids to their utter disbelief, there was a time when a movie came out and, if you missed it, you were shit out of luck. Maybe it would hit the second run dollar theater, or end up on TV a few years later. Maybe not. Videos were beginning and it was becoming easier to see older titles.

In the mid-'90's I found a Pennsylvania video dealer, Home Film Festival, that had a vast catalog of silent, foreign and art films. Pretty expensive, about $7 a movie to rent by mail, but it was a prehistoric Netflix that allowed me to dive headfirst into the oeuvre of Truffaut, Fellini, Kurosawa and others. I can't believe that I've seen nearly every film directed by those giants. To be honest, I would never have considered a full time move from the Chicago suburbs to Cooperstown if Netflix didn't exist to satiate my movie jones, or if Amazon and eBay weren't there for me to buy all my books and music.

Last week I was at the Village library and saw a recent high school graduate. This kid is great - smart, curious, hungry to learn. We've talked before about movies (he would bring up DeSica) and I've always been impressed by his knowledge at his age. I went on the Senior Trip to DC and caught a glimpse of him reading Raymond Carver. Very nice.

We were talking in general about the relative merits of video games; I was pro, he was con. Then he vented his frustration at how little time there is to read all the things he wanted to, see all the movies he wanted to. It brought me back to that guy on the Staten Island Ferry, contemplating the futility of ever getting through all the great works he wanted to. 25 years later, the 21 year old me is 46 and progressing just fine. So, don't worry kid, it'll happen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Soundtrack for a New York Road Trip

It takes great thought to pick music for an eight hour round trip drive from Cooperstown to New York City. At least for me it's a serious endeavor. No radio; don't like it. Here's the set list.

Wilco (the album) - Wilco

I wrote about the new Wilco record on July 14 (This Week's Music and Movies). No more about it here, other than it's just delightful, track after track.

Electric Arguments - The Fireman

I've always been an unapologetic Paul McCartney fan (he being one of The Fireman, Youth the other). His recent output has been very strong and Electric Arguments is a solid and adventurous disc. More Radiohead than Macca, it's often not your usual Paulie fare. "Two Magpies" is another bird tune in the same style as "Blackbird" and "Jenny Wren." I'm undecided about how I feel towards McCartney's aging vocals. There are times when his raggedness work incredibly well, other times it makes me a little sad.

Emotions - The Pretty Things

Also covered in the July 14th post. You can see The Pretty Things are in heavy rotation here. More on them later.

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake - The Small Faces

Until a recent binge, Ogden's was the only Small Faces LP I owned. Side 1 is filled with classics - "Afterglow," "Lazy Sunday," et al. Side 2 is the killer, the saga of Happiness Stan and his quest to find out where his beloved moon goes as it wanes. Spoken intervals of nonsense are read by British comic Stanley Unwin in his patented "Unwinese." Glad to see the CD comes with a replica of the LP's circular presentation in the style of an old tobacco tin, a landmark cover.

The Ecstatic - Mos Def

Didn't see that comin', did ya? Lulled you into the sense that all I listen to is white music, strictly British Invasion stuff. I have my share of rap records and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides is one of the greatest of all. The new one isn't nearly as good as that, or as good as Black Star (hah, caught you again!), but it is very good and tons of fun. As the man himself says, "Having a good time, everyday."

Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
It's a greatest hits album, really. Tough to pull out the highlights, and while the occasional sound effects sound dated, the totality is as fearsome and powerful as it was, dare I say it, 30 years ago. Better to burn out than to fade away, exhibit number one.

And that's only the way there.

Lust for Life - Iggy Pop

From the first sound of the pounding drums - "Can we listen to something else?" That's my eldest sitting in the back seat. Wonder what that's about. Next disc.

Singles Collection: The London Years (Disc 2) - The Rolling Stones

Has there ever been a worse move by a major rock band than the Stones psychedelic experiments of 1967? Maybe the failed The Doors Do Disney album (OK, I made that up). This is terrible stuff, you should give it another listen. Even the so-called hits, "She's a Rainbow" and "2000 Light Years from Home" suck hard. Keith tried to deter them from this disaster, but you know Mick, looking to do what's in, what's selling and, most importantly, what The Beatles are up to. Bill Wyman's "In Another Land" is atrocious, "The Lantern" is as affected as Bowie at his worst (think "Time" from Aladdin Sane) and "Child of the Moon" was much better when it was done by The Beatles the year before. It was called "Rain." I think there are two problems with these tunes. One, the Stones don't have enough musical curiosity to delve wholeheartedly into a different sound. Two, I just don't believe them when they chant "We Love You" - you know they don't.

S.F. Sorrow - The Pretty Things

S.F. Sorrow, though it no doubt owes a huge debt to Sgt. Pepper's, is a singular piece of work. It's one of the best albums of 1968. and one I had never heard of until early this year. Seek it out; it'll stick.

Go Insane - Lindsey Buckingham

For a key member of a high profile band, Buckingham doesn't get his due. His guitar picking is extraordinary, his songwriting and singing top notch. This is one weird dude. His solo work is consistently bizarre. It's not your run of the mill Fleetwood Mac album. Go Insane is a compelling listen, but a little too strange. Not a good choice for the road.

I Never Loved a Man the Way That I Love You - Aretha Franklin

The aural bad taste left in my ears from Go Insane was cured by Aretha. Is there anything more perfect in this world than this record? "Dr. Feelgood," man, that'll just do you in. If you don't have this, why not?

Keep It Simple - Van Morrison

Van Morrison is the Octomom of rock stars. Every time you look, he pops out another album. This is his most recent studio release and has that warm, easy groove that Van the Man pulls off effortlessly. It has almost none of the lyrical bitterness that marks (and sometimes mars) much of his late period work, but, hey, he's Van Morrison and he can do whatever he wants. He doesn't look too happy over there, though, does he?

And then, back to Lust for Life. It was a long trip home and this time we got to listen to a bit of Iggy. I learned from the back seat that the song was featured on the episode when The Simpsons went to England. There you have it - Iggy made a connection with my son.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jeff Katz, Culture Warrior

Actually, no. Do not be alarmed. Plus, when I think of culture it tends to be solely focused on music, movies and books. Always has, always will.

What bugs me lately is the lack of respect shown to other people, particularly people with some sort of title that should command civility, if not deference. The town hall meetings I watched today, those of Arlen Specter (R, no wait a minute, D-PA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) were appalling.

It's not that I have a problem with the angry folk opposed to the President's health care plan. The idea that these are false protests is a tricky analysis, as it applies to every movement. Did the masses wake up on August 28, 1963 and spontaneously decide to congregate on the mall to fight for civil rights? Well, no, it was an organized event, but the people were very real. Has there ever been a mass protest without some organizing force behind it - March on the Pentagon (Norman Mailer wrote a whole book about the people who put the protest together), the Million Man March. You get the picture. It would help if the people attending these town hall meetings knew what the hell they were talking about, but without a real bill to reference, anything can be assumed and is.

It troubles me to see men and women threaten and taunt Senators of the United States. They're office deserves better. I don't say this as an elected official myself. I have a friend who hates George W. Bush (actually, I have a lot of friends who hate George W. Bush). This friend was in a position to meet the President and, when face to face with his nemesis, my pal was overwhelmed by the aura of the office and was humble as pie. As he should have been. It's the President of the United States!

We all end up in situations where we don't believe who we hear, or don't like the surroundings we're in. I'm not one of those "in my days it was different" relics, but it WAS different once upon a time. I'll give you a personal example. I was at a Catholic Mass last week. Now, I'm not Christian, and, in no real way other than birth am I even Jewish. At Mass, I didn't sit there and roll my eyes, or laugh at things I found hard to believe. Why? Because you're not supposed to. You're supposed to mind your manners and be respectful, survey your surroundings and act appropriately. In the presence of a Senator, even one like Arlen Specter, people should behave better. In fact, it's more effective than wearing "Proud Member of the Mob" T-Shirts, or carrying a pistol on your belt to an anti-Obama rally.

It's impossible to respect anyone's opinion on any issue when they carry on so despicably.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Steroids & Double Standards

The David Ortiz fiasco cracks me up. When ARod fessed up to Performance Enhancing Drug use, he was pilloried and left to stand alone to face up to the press. When countless players copped the "I was careless with my supplement use," (remember Barry Bonds and his flax seed oil?), they were destroyed for their obvious perfidy. When Manny went down this season, suspended for use of fertility drugs that gave birth to countless dingers, Tim McCarver killed him on the air, as he always does, as the pinnacle of selfishness.

Here comes Big Papi, that lovable overstuffed Teddy Bear, who came out of Minnesota nowhere to put together season after season of prodigious production for the Red Sox and help lead them to the promised land. Ever smiling, easy for the press to deal with, he was a symbol of good in the morass of druggie-ball.

Except, he took PEDs. Not surprising, the evidence was before your eyes, if you cared to look. No one was interested, though. He was too good of a guy. So, now he's one of the many who indulged and is to be branded as a cheater and a disgrace to the game, left to bear the wrath of public vitriol. Wanna bet?

When the news came out that Ortiz was on the dreaded 2003 list of those who failed random drug tests, the press came to his defense immediately. "He may not have known what he took," said a sympathetic press. When Bonds made that claim, the media rightfully howled, "How could a top athlete who knows every little thing about his body NOT know what he's putting in it?" Sound point. Not for Ortiz, though.

Yesterday, Big Papi held his obligatory press conference. Did he sit alone and take the heat as so many others had before him? Nah. There by his side was Michael Weiner of the Player Union, citing the cumulative effect of the growing disclosure of names as the force behind the union getting involved. For shame, really. The union should have never allowed testing without reasonable suspicion and the compilation of a list which was guaranteed to leak at some point. They failed miserably in protecting their membership on this and ex-Executive Director Marvin Miller saw that from the get-go.

I am positively pleased at the amount of names disclosed. This "cheating" idea never gained hold with me. An entire '60's generation took speed thinking it would help their performance on the field. That it didn't means nothing; they thought it would. Anyone want to be the first to claim that Willie Mays, a known amphetamine user, should be banished from Cooperstown, or that his records are tainted?

When Barry Bonds was, in the press' eyes, the only steroid abuser, he was demonized to the extreme. Then, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite, and, oh, wait, maybe we should look at this differently (race card, anyone?). ARod, and now Ortiz, will get us where we've always needed to be on this issue. The preponderance of PED use in this era is so vast, that it's best to paint the whole crew with the drug brush. Once the fans and the sports reporters accept that as so, we can all just calm down and get to the real Hall of Fame question: Who was the best of the era? That is still indisputable and, down the road, we'll all be watching the Induction of Bonds, Clemens, ARod and Manny. Not Big Papi, though, he wasn't good enough.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Am I Too Late?

I just got an iPhone. I sorta feel like the last one in on it, like the Red Sox and integration. If this is all old hat to you out there, humor me.
Does everyone get nervous when a piece of new technology arrives? No matter how many VCRs, TV remotes, computers, iPods, etc. I have wrestled to a tie over the years, I'm always tense when I have to match wits with a new device.

The phones arrived in two days, I assume so that AT&T could start charging me the $290 per month for family unlimited plans, data charges and God knows what else. I followed the directions in order, as demanded by the instruction booklet. I'm not taking any chances here, although the most liberating time to have new technology is right when you get it. If you fuck it up, you can always try to convince the store that "it came that way."

I was lied to when I was once promised I would never have to re-punch my phone numbers due to the invention of the SIM card. Of course, I have more numbers now than ever before, about 130, but there's something to be said for mindless monkey work. Hours later, all numbers, email addresses and Internet bookmarks were entered and I was ready for the fun part. (I know the iPhone is supposed to sync contacts and bookmarks, but it didn't have a tab to sync with Outlook Express and I don't know why it didn't sync with Explorer).

Wait, not ready for fun yet. For some reason I can receive emails but not send them. Although all my pop's and smtp's are correct, I can't send. Maybe I'll get it some day, like when I finally realized I wasn't watching my HDTV's in HD. Details.

I had to figure out what music I'd put on the phone. I'm a capacity hog. My iPod is 120 GB and not nearly big enough for my entire collection. What to do with smaller capacity in a way that makes some logical and overly thought out sense? I decided that I would only put on new CDs, which is not a small numer. Just this week I bought over 20 discs, so new stuff should be sufficient.
Apps. I can't imagine an app I would ever pay for, especially since the entire web is a finger movement away. The freebies are good. Here's what I have, initially:

Wolfgang's Vault, an amazing concert library that I listen to on my PC already
eBay (What's with this second letter capitalized thing anyway?)
Map Quest
Weather Channel
Flashlight (just that, but I've used my phone as a flashlight for years)
Complete Shakespeare.

Think of that last one. By pressing a button that doesn't really exist, I can access all of Willy's plays. Who cares? Well, I do. Besides just the idea of having the entire canon of civilization's greatest writer in my pocket, I can now go to the last scene of Henry IV, Part II whenever I'm in need of a good cry. When Hal, now Henry, says to Falstaff, who's been waiting to be lavished over by his erstwhile playmate, the new King refuses him, saying, "Presume not I am the thing that I was." That kills me. Not sure if that is word for word correct. I know where I can check though.

Last bit. Appropriate beginning wallpaper. Here it is:
Charlie don't surf, but now I do via iPhone. Smells like victory!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Live Piece of Crap in Toronto

Last month I bought John Lennon's Live Peace in Toronto LP. It was one of those Beatles-related platters I didn't own, but always wanted. I bought a copy in fine condition, with the John and Yoko calendar included. Gotta have the calendar, although it's a pretty cheap piece of work.

Soon after, I read that a DVD had been released of the concert itself. For those not in the know, The Plastic Ono Band, composed of John, Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Alan White, headlined the 1969 Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival in Varsity Stadium. It was a one-off show for the POB - they'd never played together.

The DVD is D.A. Pennebaker's film Sweet Toronto with a prologue of Yoko interviewed in 1988. Although Cat Mother, The Doors and other contemporary acts played the 13 hour event, the movie focuses on the '50's stars. Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, are killer, ultimate pros who put on top notch shows. Then comes John.

The crowd on that sunny September day was enthusiastic about the oldies, who were not that old (Lewis was 34, Richard 37 and Bo 40), but went nutty for Lennon. John made it clear that this ensemble had not rehearsed and they would do songs they knew. They slogged through "Blue Suede Shoes", "Money", "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", "Yer Blues" and "Give Peace a Chance" with moderate success. And there's Yoko, standing next to John the entire time, mostly holding lyric sheets, occasionally crawling into a bag and, during "Yer Blues", shrieking away. Was John embarrassed at being party to this catastrophe in front of his rock heroes? He sure looks that way.

John was ill, and maybe that's why he looks like a deer in the headlights, totally out of his element. But remember, The Beatles hadn't appeared live since 1966, and he was nervous. It doesn't help at all that Yoko, though an intriguing artist perhaps, is a no-talent as a singer. Her vocalizing is apart from the music. There's no sense that her actions are remotely connected to what the band is playing. Her clapping during "Give Peace a Chance" is memorably detached from any sense of rhythm.

The DVD package refers to the show as the "second most important concert" in rock history. Hmm. Is Woodstock first? I would guess so, but there are so many other shows of import- Beatles at Shea, Stones at Altamont, Clash at Bond's, I could go on and on. It is a shock to see John performing with long hair and bushy beard. That John is a still picture to me, as on the covers of Abbey Road and Hey Jude.

The looks are priceless. The staring that Clapper directs towards John may be in anticipation of musical cues, but so many coincide with an animal howl from Mrs. Lennon, that's it hard not to read disgust. Interestingly, John shoots Yoko similar looks, especially as she warbles through "John, John (Let's Hope for Peace)" a cacophony of violent screaming that is as far from peace as one can get. I may be projecting, but John seems as if he's wondering how he got to this point, playing on stage with a crazy Japanese lady instead of his peers. It's so bad and neverending that John and band finally exit as Yoko stands alone, still "waaahing" alone at centerstage. I couldn't help but think that, in that instant, John sought out his mates, rather than Yoko. If only there had been an intervention.

The show is a lifeless endeavor. For all who have seen footage of The Beatles at Shea Stadium, and watched the Fabs laughing hysterically and having a great time, it's a tragedy that bySeptember of '69, John Lennon could perform his favorite songs from his youth with nary a smile or laugh. Towards the end, he goes into a forced jig, a feeble attempt to show that he's having a ball. His face betrays his feet. In the parlance of the times, a real bummer.