Archive | May, 2012

Claim to fame…

24 May

I’m 72 and so far, I haven’t become “famous” for anything.  That isn’t one of my goals, so it hasn’t happened and I don’t expect it to happen (but, it could).  We tend to do things that will take us toward our goals. So, if my goal is to paint the garage door on Friday, what will deliver me to that goal?  Need to get paint — I’m kind of annoyed with Jo Anne at Home Depot for laying me off, but it’s only five minutes from our house, so that’s where I’ll get the paint.  Then tomorrow we scrape off old paint.  Then Friday we put the drop cloth down, get out the rollers, pour the paint in the pan and get to ‘er.  By the way — we’re going to paint with Glidden Duo — fantastic paint… primer and finish in one can. Then, within an hour or so, the garage door is painted and I have accomplished what I set out to do… I reached my goal.

But, before continuing, let’s get to the word “goals”… what’s with the emphasis on goals?  It’s part of our culture.  Since our early years, we’ve been taught to have goals — a specific arrival at a place that imagination has created for us.  “I don’t have any goals,” you say.  OK — that’s your goal.  You can’t escape.  We all have goals.

So, one of my goals was to not become famous.  Why not?  I know and have known some famous people and generally, they’re not happy. They can’t live the simple life, like I’m living.  In my early thirties I ran across what has been my major goal in life.  These words were penned by Paul the Apostle in his first letter to the Thessalonians (as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible):  “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thes 4:11,12)

That’s a big deal for me… a quiet life, as opposed to a non-stop event-filled gotta do this gotta do that lifestyle.  I try to mind my own business.  Sweep off your own front porch everyday — if everyone swept off their own “front porch” we would have a world filled with clean porches… cleanliness is next to Godliness (that’s in the Bible, isn’t it?).  To me, mind your own business means that I just take care of what’s in front of me and not try to solve all the world’s problems.  They won’t get solved anyway.

Work with your hands — great therapy.  You got some problems buggin you?  Find something to do with your hands… make something, plant something, fix something… just keep your hands busy and your emotional state will improve. As my dad said many times (I worked with him on a daily basis for about 27 years, so I heard this statement a few times…) — “Work is good therapy”… and working with your hands is even better.

Speaking of dads, our dad (I have a brother Bob and a sister Nancy) was quite a conversationalist — he loved to tell stories and chat with people.  So, you know that telling stories over and over will lead to some repetition. Whenever he was about to tell me about some event, he would preface his comment with “have I told you lately?”…. not lately dad — let’s hear it.  I enjoyed my dad and I enjoy being a dad. Dad’s are cool.  If you’re not a dad, that’s OK… you’re cool, too.  We are all SPECIAL to someone.

Getting back to the title of today’s blog… what’s my “claim to fame?”  My classical piano teacher was Nancy Kendall Robinson, originally from England, but was living in the Palisades when I started taking lessons (at the age of 11 — in 1951). I studied with her for three years before switching to the jazz piano lessons.  My little claim to fame is that I studied piano with Mrs. Robinson and she could trace her teachers back to Beethoven… hard to believe, but that was her “claim to fame” — here’s an excerpt from an article about Artur Rubinstein:

Rubenstein’s early piano training came from Karl Heinrich Barth, a pupil of Franz Liszt, who had been taught by Carl Czerny, who had in turn been a pupil of Beethoven.


Piano teacher Nancy Kendall Robinson (standing)


Finally, I’m reminded of what Sam Goldwyn said after he talked non-stop about himself in an interview — “Well, enough about me – let’s talk about my latest movie.”

I appreciate your indulgence — I’m a little upset that I got laid off.  The work was OK — I wasn’t thrilled with it, but what I did enjoy was the routine — a specific place to go every week and a job to do, and the interaction with people.


All for now





“… services no longer needed.”

23 May


Yep — that’s it for Home Depot.  I was at work Saturday morning and I got a call from Mary Anne — one of the assistant managers.  “Could you come to my office?”  You know what that means.

True, it has been very slow at the store lately — and, it was a Saturday and the place was just about empty.  Not a good sign.  So, I wasn’t surprised.  She did say originally that we were seasonal, temporary hires, so I did have some warning.  Interestingly, the only other guy laid off on Saturday was the other “old” guy — in his 60s.  But, they didn’t lay off any of the young guys (hired on the same day as Ed and I)… I know it’s a worn out phrase, but I still like it… “what’s up with that?”  That wouldn’t be age discrimination, would it?  No way…

So, back to teaching and getting the online jazz piano instruction business going. There’s no point in looking for a job… it’s a waste of time at my age. The only reason I got the HD job was just a fluke — I thought they needed a sign person in there, so I applied and got the job.  My “interview” was to make a sign — and they hired me, so I guess my sign was OK.  But, I was there for three and a half months and only made one sign… so, I wasn’t hired to make signs.

Nevertheless, I did learn a lot about consumer paint. I was quite familiar with industrial paint and solvents, but didn’t know much about the retail side of it.  Very educational experience for me — now I know what paint goes where and when to use this one or that one.  In my sign and screen printing experience there was only a handful of paint products (inks) and solvents that we needed to be familiar with, but the consumer end of it is a very big picture — hundreds of products available in the paint department.


Back to music and piano playing…

The photo above was taken at the Studio West recording studio in San Diego (  It was taken in December of 2006 — our daughter Angela and her family were visiting from Maryland and our daughter Pauline and husband Peter were here for Christmas. They all came to the studio that day and we had a nice time — I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I recorded a bunch of hymns (I take the old hymns and play them using jazz voicings — see:

I love recording studios — a great environment and the potential to record art for future enjoyment.  And, you share the space with very famous people in the music business.  For example, I recorded my first album at Gold Star Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA in August of 1961.  Here are a few names that I will now drop: The Beach Boys, Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, “Route 66” composer Bobby Troup, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, The Righteous Brothers, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Jan and Dean  (I went to Emerson Jr. High and Uni  High with Dean Torrence) , Bobby Darin, The Monkees, Art Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Tina Turner and Maurice Gibb.

So, I recorded my album in the same studio as all these people named above — it’s great for your morale to have this experience in your history.


That’s it for today… as my dad said very frequently… “tomorrow’s another day”….







A special thanks to Charles Jones…

17 May

“Chuck” Jones and I went to the same elementary school — Palisades Elementary School in Pacific Palisades, California. Our family moved from West Hollywood to the Palisades in the summer of 1948. So, I was eight years old when I met Chuck — I was in the third grade.  Then we went to the same junior high school in West LA — the closest school to the Palisades was Emerson Jr. High in West LA.  Then off to University High in West LA — at that time there was no junior high or high school in the Palisades area.

So, Chuck and I hung out together for many years — went on bike rides all over the place. We went to the Bay Theater just about every week and then over to “The Hot Dog Show” across the street from the theater — for a GREAT cheeseburger… the best in LA.  Hung out at the park – there was a “gym” there where we played basketball (see team photo below)…

First Place in a local basketball tournament — left to right: Chuck Jones, John Van Atta., Chuck Schumacher, yours truly and Jack McMillan.

This took place at some point in 1954, I think.  After the games we would all head out to “Dillys Ice Cream” for a root beer float or banana split.  Also, we were all in a YMCA club called the Celts. We met weekly at the park and did a lot of stuff together.

My special thanks to “Chuck” is for keeping in touch with me and offering many helpful comments. We haven’t seen each other since 1957, but one these days I’m going to get up to LA and the three of us (Chuck, Jack “John” McMillan and I) will get together for a cuppa java and a good ol’ chat.  Fifty-five years since we graduated from Uni High… amazing.

Regarding that photo above, I saw John Van Atta at our 50th reunion, but I have never seen Schumacher since  high school, and if my memory is working correctly (a bit of a problem these days), I think he passed away — several of our fellow students have passed away over the years… a reality that we all face.  I try not to think about it, but I keep getting reminders that time does go by and one of these days my number will show up.

In the meantime, I always hope for a good future with a sudden end.  My parents and both of my uncles all died suddenly from heart attacks. I had one in 2001, but I survived and I’m still here… eleven years later. My recommendation:

So Chuck — thank you for staying in touch and let’s shoot for 92…. twenty years to go…

Enjoy yourself…



More time next week…

12 May

Pauline and Nicole have been here for five weeks.  So, I’ve been very busy with one thing or another and haven’t posted any commentary. They left this afternoon — back to London and back to their routine.

I’ll have some time next week to get back to some of my favorite things to do — writing and piano playing. I’ll be posting a full update on the scene around here. Home Depot has been cutting hours… down to eight next week. So, I’m going to focus on getting the jazz piano instructional material on a website by mid-June (both in pdf form and DVD).

Have to keep going here — need to be at work by 9:15, so it’s sack time.

Here’s one of my favorites…

Our walk across Brooklyn bridge last fall…


Here’s a photo of David Nolan and his wife Annie.  Dave is the eldest son of Sylvia’s older sister Dympie.  She and her husband Liam live near Bath, England.  I met Dave in 1964 when Sylvia and I traveled to Northern Germany to visit with Liam and Dympie — he was in the British Army at the time, stationed somewhere in northern Germany.  I also met Dave’s younger sister Barbara at that time. I think he was about five and she was three.

They planted a lime tree in our backyard — a memory jogger for the future.

Dave and Annie Nolan – visiting with us earlier this month. They live near Hull in Yorkshire, England.


Off to dreamland — up early for the old yob… I think I might get a crack at making some signs — one of the guys who works in the garden department wants to see what I can do — so, I’ll be making some samples for him soon… that may lead to something…  you never know what a day may bring forth.