Untotaled: Stepping 37 (September 4th, 1967) Fair Weather Friends … October 25, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

For most of the years of my youth, the fall school year commenced the morning after Labor Day. So the last hurrah of the summer was always a trip to the Ohio State Fair, to hopefully connect with friends, and enjoy some cotton candy, joke about the smell of the pig barns and see each other, so that when the academic year began we wouldn’t feel like strangers or look at each other like aliens.

In 1967 something unbelievable happened. My friend Phil asked me to spend the weekend with him and my parents agreed. That, in itself, was special. But when Phil’s father gave us $5 apiece three days in a row, dropped us off at the fair and then picked us up in the evening, I thought I had discovered the pearl of great price.

(I did take the precaution of not telling my parents what was going on, just in case they would throw a wrench into the gears.)

So we called our friends and made plans to meet up at the gate so we could spend the day marching around the fair as free men and women, knowing that in just a few days we would be on a death march to the classroom.

The fair was amazing that year because the proprietors had scheduled both Herman’s Hermits and The Who to appear in the grandstand for free. Living in a small town, I was not that familiar with either group, especially The Who.

The bands were fronted by Peter Noonan and Peter Townsend, so we guys got a great locker room giggle off of the battle of the “two Peters.” (The girls along with us didn’t seem to understand the joke or they played dumb to maintain their small-town innocence.)

Honestly, I found the concerts annoying. There were girls screaming everywhere, which made us jealous that these chicks were getting all worked up over scrawny Englishmen instead of big, burly Buckeye boys. Plus there was a little propriety swimming around inside of me from my parents, which caused me to criticize the groups because they “looked like girls, dressed funny or weren’t American.”

Matter of fact, we had a huge discussion with the females, which escalated into a fight. So we finished out the fair separated into camps of gender. The boys felt that the rock and roll bands were “sissy” and wouldn’t last long. But the girls, having better intuition, knew that this music was here to stay.

The three days prior to school that year passed way too quickly and we spent too much time eating and not enough time feeling.

But the appearance by these two English rock and roll bands did seal something deep within our hearts that would bloom much later.

My Generation was Into Something Good–and The Times Were Certainly a’Changing.

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Thinks-giving … November 19, 2011

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Live, outdoors in Ambler, PA

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No, it’s not a typo. The title of today’s essay is Thinksgiving. Because once again we have come to the time of year when we are supposed to be celebrating the gratitude of our journey and the great hope of the birth of the Prince of Peace, but instead, we’re surrounded by organizations and individuals who want to bring us down by reminding us how tough it is for some people during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have never met or seen a generation in my entire life that spends so much time thinking without ever becoming thoughtful. Let me ask you a simple question. What makes this particular holiday more depressing than others? Wouldn’t you think that Easter would be equally as challenging to folks who are under a cloud of despair? I mean, think about it—one man raising from the dead when our graveyards are full? How about July 4th? Firecrackers and marching bands in full blaze and array, when I’m stuck here with my fizzled activities, unable to toot my own horn? Even Arbor Day would make you mad if you were depressed—because the trees dare to keep blooming while you are drooping.

But these great thinkers of our generation don’t spend any time attacking any other holidays. Just Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is during these two occasions that we are to reflect upon the plight of humanity and be sensitive not to flaunt our thankfulness lest we “offend one of these little ones.”

Now, I am not a great conspiracy buff, but I find it a bit suspicious that these two celebrations in particular are targeted by these ever-so-concerned souls. We certainly do not suggest that Labor Day be kept under the hat because the unemployment rate is at 9%.

No, I think there is a nasty streak in all of us—we actually resents the hell out of being thankful and are equally frightened of becoming so giddy with joy that we regain our childlike faith. We’re just grumpy—and the idea of escaping our grumpiness for about thirty-one days during the year is so galling that we decide to use the excuse of other people’s depression as a reason for why the turkey plucking and tree trimming should calm down, if not cease altogether.

But it is because we, as a people, are depressed, frustrated, hurt, damaged and faithless that Thanksgiving and Christmas need to be taken out of the realm of just thinking—and pressed mightily into the action of participation.

Therefore, when you hear people complaining about the holidays, do yourself and them a favor. Quietly walk away. This season is a treasure-chest of blessing cast down from the heavens for us, if we’re just willing to unlock the secret and find the gift.

I am not thinkful. I am thankful—unabashedly, unapologetically and undeterred. I am NOT sensitive to other people’s beliefs during Christmas because my belief in the birth of brotherhood, peace on earth and good will toward men MUST be celebrated—or truly we are requiring that the elves come and rebuke us for our lack and put us on the naughty list.

Here’s a suggestion. You have about five or six days until Thanksgiving. Every day before you begin your journey into the human soup of life, sit down and write five quick emails to friends. Those emails should consist of this: “You make me …” Then tell the person what his or her presence, friendship and humanity means to you.

  • “You make me better.”
  • “You make me loving.”
  • “You make me think.”
  • “You make me believe in God.”
  • “You make me richer.”

Tell them what they do that makes your “thanks” bell ring.  Then close it with thanks and sign your name. It won’t take you even a minute-and-a-half to do it—and at the end of the six-day period, thirty people who are being inundated with an overly zealous reminder of despair and destitution will be uplifted to be thankful instead of thinkful.

I will tell each and every one of you during this blessed time that you make me … valuable.  Thanks. 

Jonathan

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

You Know Your Life Might Be a Little Out of Balance if it Seems to You That Every Day Is … October 9, 2011

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New Year’s Day.  Symptoms:

  • You always find yourself making resolutions, only to break them very quickly and then feel a sense of despair which is just as quickly alleviated by eating something sweet. You also might have too much desire for roses, parades and watching football.

Valentine’s Day.  Symptoms:

  • You are obsessed with romance and feel that if you could actually find your soul mate you might find your soul, and you have a bizarre notion that a little fat angel shooting an arrow through your heart does anything but kill you.  This condition is also marked by a sensation that a box of chocolates solves all the world’s problems.

The Ides of March.  Symptoms:

  • You take simple tasks like going to the marketplace, but you do it while wondering who is going to stab you in the back.  Or the front, for that matter. Of course, the problem may be that you walk around acting like you’re Caesar.

Your birthdaySymptoms:

  • For some inexplicable reason, you’re always expecting presents from people.  This particular condition is accentuated by a desire to have your cake and eat it, too.

May Day. Symptoms:

  • While children are dancing around poles with flowers in their hair, you fail to notice, because you are always wondering when your life is going to stall in mid-air and go down, crashing into the ground.

Arbor Day. Symptoms:

  • You seem to be much more fond of trees than you are of people. Dogs and cats are the oppressed races on the planet and it really bothers you when your acquaintances wear the fur of animals you’ve never met. You tend to worship nature and all its components–except for having a grudge against your fellow humans.

Fourth of July. Symptoms:

  • You find yourself always talking about freedom, basically because you want to do what you want to do without anybody’s interference or even taking adequate responsibility for your actions. You have the spirit of a child–in the sense that you want to set off a cherry bomb in the school bathroom.

Labor Day. Symptoms:

  • What you have is not really a job.  You’re not really even working for a paycheck. Instead, you are laboring–a struggle to get up, a struggle to get ready, a struggle to do the occupation that you still are able to perform, a struggle to get home, a struggle to listen to the family talk about problems, and then a bit of a struggle to get to sleep. It seems you have found one thing that brings you joy, but unfortunately, you only get to do it once a year while you struggle a bit with it–because you have to take the family along.

Halloween. Symptoms:

  • You find yourself dressing up to try to be somebody else so as to get treats, even though you know in the long run, it all may be just a big trick.

Thanksgiving. Symptoms:

  • You like to eat–and have learned to disguise it well by complimenting the cooking and being thankful for stuffing yourself like the turkey you have already murdered..

Christmas. Symptoms:

  • You seem to be waiting for someone to come in a magical sleigh to bring you all the things you’ve wanted since you were a child as you decorate a tree, complain about the crowded conditions in the shopping mall and have a bumper sticker on the back of your car that reads: Jesus is the reason for the season.

And finally, Easter. Symptoms:

  • You innocently walk into a plot for your demise, survive the atrocity and rather than lying down and giving up, you decide to raise yourself up–and try again.

Now, maybe there are many other choices, and certainly other symptoms in our lives.  But you might take a look at these and see if bits and pieces of the holidays have slid into your philosophy of life.  After all, the word “holiday” was originally “holy day.” 

And to be holy is to find the best way you can to create a sense of wholeness in your life.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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