March 8, 2011

Open Mic Night

The wife and I did something a little different the other night. We went to an Open Mic Night at a café in a neighboring town. Personally I was intrigued by the idea of watching people go up to the mic and perform. I always envied the guts it takes to do such a thing.

Well as though it were fate the very first participant proved to be true Blogger-Gold. An old man named Jordan. (pictured to the left) And though my name-prediction of “George” and my wife’s of “Lou” proved incorrect we were not far off in his life story.

Once his saxophone set was complete I offered to buy him some Bubble Tea. He obliged. The next 30 minutes, well, have a read for yourself…

Jordan Ramilovitch was born in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in 1927. Raised by Polish immigrants in a Jewish household with an “iron fist”, his mother was a housewife and his father a “plumber by day and plumber by night.”

As Mr. Ramilovitch says, “My father was the hardest working man I’ve ever known….he worked his tail off to put food on our table. And let me tell you, young man, they don’t make men like that these days.”

Noted Mr. Ramilovitch.

Mr. Ramilovitch had 3 elder sisters and this played a role in shaping his personality at an early age. He often found himself playing with instruments on the front stoop of his rowhome for the local kids. He was known as a loner who sought attention through music. His 3 sisters received most of the attention from his mother, Gladys, as she groomed them to follow in her footsteps. Something Mr. Ramilovitch seems to say with a little tinge of bitterness.

“Yeah I guess Mom had a plan for my sisters the whole time. Me – well, not so much.”

Alas it was this feeling of loneliness that made him who he is today. He enjoyed success with instruments but fell particularly in love with the alto saxophone.

I can now attest for that particular skill. He played his sax that night as though the two were Butch & Sundance robbing a bank – effortlessly.

It wasn’t until December 7, 1941 when he was a 14 year old “in need of something a little, umm, relevant” that he truly “became a man.”

You see, Pearl Harbor was the 9/11 of his generation and 3 years later Mr. Ramilovitch found himself in a Battalion taking up camp in France not long after D-Day. He wasn’t leading the men into battle, per se, but he was doing something arguably just as important during times like that.

He was entertaining them.

“It was just like old times,” He says. “Only at that time I had a purpose. I wasn’t doing it to escape. I was doing it so others could escape like I did as a young boy.”


He takes a moment and repeats as if to truly emphasize what he said, “…so others could escape.”

Mr. Ramilovitch went on to fight in WWII and lived to tell about it.

He didn’t win any medals. He wasn’t involved in the liberation of Paris. He didn’t get mentioned in Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation. He didn’t go home and tour the country rehashing his heroics.

What he did do was go home and meet the woman who would father his only child. Something that seems particularly appropriate knowing Mr. Ramilovitch.

Not long after returning from The War, he met Grace Levinson in a music store after moving to Newark, NJ.

“If you asked me what the name of that store was I couldn’t tell ya’, sonny. I could tell you that she was wearing a light blue dress and a matching blue headband in her hair and, well, the rest is, well….”

I’ll spare the details of their life but needless to say they are romantic and the stuff great author's write about. Unfortunately, Grace died several years ago. Mr. Ramilovitch had sadness in his eyes that were as obvious as they were stoic and yet he sat there and sipped his tea as though he’d had this conversation many times before...only with his journal.

Mr. Ramilovitch still lives in Newark. Still lives in the same house he purchased after returning form Europe. Is still a loner. His only son, Jacob, moved on long ago and “lives west.” Not much has changed in Jordan Ramilovitch’s life since his days as a lonely boy in Bensonhurst.

As we sit there at the table having our tea one thing stands out to me. After all these years Mr. Ramilovitch still revels in the idea of performing for others. He stands up behind the mic and plays his saxophone for local kids just like he did for 17 and 18 year old “kids” during The War.

And he does it, “because lets face it. We all need to escape. Whether we are fighting in the hills of France or the tough roads of everyday life….We all need to escape.”

Yes we do, Mr. Ramilovitch. Yes. We. Do.

Then again, maybe we didn't sit down with Jordan after his set. Maybe we pondered the life story of this old man who showed up to open mic night, alone, with saxophone in hand, and played his heart we could escape?

Maybe. Just maybe.

March 2, 2011

Fueling My Fire

Ladies and gentlemen I offer you yet another article from that incites the blogging rage inside of me…

High court rules for anti-gay funeral protestors

I will try not to go into a generalized anti-church rant here but it may be difficult. The basis of these absolute psychos arguments, however, are rooted in what is taught by the church and that’s the anti-gay sentiment.

I do recognize that not every Christian may agree with this anti-gay philosophy.

That being said – these psychos who would have the nerve to picket a soldier’s funeral as a result of this and trespass on the privacy of such an event deserve to find themselves amongst their very own funeral. Separate from the anti-gay sentiment – where do you find the nerve to picket someone’s funeral and disrespect a family, let alone a soldier, like that?

Its hard for me to even write about this because I sit here writing and all I can think of is, “How do people like this even exist? How do they go to bed at night believing what they do?” In this case the following quote rings true..

Mario Puzo wrote, “It is dangerous to be reasonable with a stupid person.”

In these people’s warped and highly-disturbed minds they think that holding signs like, “Thank God for dead soldiers”, “You’re Going to Hell” and “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11” and picketing a marine’s funeral are acceptable ways of livng.

They think this simply because they believe that a soldier’s death is a punishment handed down from their mythological god. These lunatics apparently think these soldier’s die because they are fighting for a nation that tolerates homosexuality. I guess they don’t die because they were sent off to fight a war? The basis of their argument isn’t anti-war though. It’s anti-gay and that’s where the ultimate problem lies...

Just the word “tolerates” is ridiculous. The only reason I used that word is because it is written that way in the MSNBC article itself. Most importantly, whether or not you choose to believe in a mythological figure, people have the right to be homosexual, bisexual, green, black or purple. And, btw, – they should be able to get married and have kids and raise a family and do whatever it is you “normal” people do and shouldn’t need legislation to “allow” it.

This religiously-backed societal-outrage over homosexuality and gay rights is absolutely embarrassing. If you don’t like it than don’t be gay. How’s that? Otherwise take your signs and your bibles and stay home.

You may not believe it but I do understand someone’s desire to believe in a god and follow a church. I do. I may not believe myself but it doesn’t mean I don’t respect where you may be coming from. It’s when it’s taken to a different level that infuriates me. Its when people take their religious beliefs and throw it in the face of others simply because they think they are all-knowing and their law rings true.

This just in. Common sense, logic and respect are what ring true.

If you do believe in god do you really think he’ll give you a high-five for picketing a dead soldier’s funeral when you supposedly run into him at the “pearly gates”?

These particular delusional lunatics probably do and that's pretty sad.

Driveway Bus Stop Lunacy

This little rant can be filed under the category of Long Time Coming. Why now you may wonder? Well this morning it smacked me right in the face and I feel the need to fight back. And as we all know mature people use words. However, I don’t use words. I use blogs…

I’ve had enough of the lazy child generation. Done. I said it.

Let me first clarify by stating I have some laziness in me so I’m not writing this from the top of my mountain. In fact, I’m writing this from behind my cubicle on my lunch break. Alas, I did ride bikes. I did play sports. I did roll around in the grass. I did get dirty. I did get injured. I did live outside 300 days of the year. Its what kids do and sadly i
t’s not what kids do today.

Want to know what else kids don’t do?

They don’t walk to bus stops!

They have their frigging bus pick them up at the end of their driveway. This has gone on long enough. I’ve had it. I was behind a bus today that stopped at 4 different homes in less than ¼ of a mile picking up kids. Yes. Less than ¼ of a mile. Do you mean to tell me these kids could not meet at one central street corner to be picked up?

Its nauseating. It’s lazy. It’s a product of today’s over-protective society and it’s gone entirely too far. The lack of bus stop is a microcosm of all things wrong with the world.

Yes I said it. All you parents out there that have children who succumb to this nonsense are participating in worldly-wrongdoing…worldly-wrongdoing I tell you!

I bet the same family that allows their 2 precious children to “catch the bus” from their driveway also have the little green men at the end of their driveway as well…

…There. I’ve got that off my chest. Thanks for your time.