Good morning and greetings, Frankie Valli fans. I bring up the name of this great frontman for the group, The Four Seasons, because yesterday was the winter solstice, marking the change of seasons from fall to winter.
Yes, the skies have been greyer and the weather a bit damp and chillier, but being north of Big Sur, we take the good with the bad, the ying with the Yankees. After all, what good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?
On the other hand, as writer Robert Byrne once noted, “Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.”
Now back in the 60′s, before I turned to hip hop and rap, the first record album I ever owned was the Four Seasons Greatest Hits. Frankie Valli had a wild falsetto voice, hitting some notes that dogs couldn’t even hear, as he belting out top ten hit tunes like “Sherry”, “Rag Doll” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
Lyrics like,”Dawn, good away, I’m no good for you,” comprised the music of my early youth. I remember going on my first date with my future wife to Marianne’s Ice Cream and looking at her and thinking, “You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eye off of you,” which I believe was the same way I felt about pralines and cream in a sugar cone. Or was two scoops of the Alice B. Toklas Chocolate Fudge Brownie in a cup?
Either way, Frankie and the rest of the Seasons made a strong impression upon me, but it was the second album that I purchased that had a bigger and more lasting impact for a young boy growing up along with Bruce Springsteen in the Garden State.
As The Boss recalls from his childhood, “When I was growing up, there were two things unpopular in my house. One was me, the other was my guitar.” Gee, and I thought I had it rough having to eat oatmeal for breakfast.
Anyway, the album was The Doors Greatest Hits, with their signature song, “Light My Fire,” that got me hooked up to the rock and roll bandwagon. Back in 2004, it was rated number 35 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of all time.
Number one on the hit list was “Like a Rolling Stone,” by Bob Dylan, followed by the Rolling Stones ‘Satisfaction” and “Imagine” by John Lennon. Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” was number 17, and my generation’s classic anthem, “Stairway to Heaven” came in at number 31. “And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forests will echo with laughter. Does anybody remember laughter?”
But let’s get back to the winter solstice. This was no ordinary day. It is what meteorologists, vampires and wikipedia would classify as an astrological phenomenon, marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. So according to the Farmer’s Almanac, what this means is the days are getting longer and the medical marijuana stronger.
So I celebrated the first day of winter like a man’s man, with the NFL, the NBA and my son, who returned on Saturday for a two week winter break. After weeks of studying and taking finals in biochemistry and human physiology, all he wants to do is sleep, eat, sleep and dance.
Oh, and watch his Golden State Warriors, whose mind boggling, franchise record 16-game winning streak was snapped last Tuesday in a loss at Memphis. But Steph Curry and the boys got back to their winning ways on Thursday, as their league leading record now stands at a very impressive 22-3. They’re rolling.
So last night, members of the tribe celebrated the sixth night of Hanukkah. During this holiday, we celebrate the miracle of the oil, which lasted eight days, by lighting candles on the menorah. We are then free to bandy about and do as we please, which most importantly involves the eating of potato latkes.
This is the highlight of the eight day festival of lights, as we fry up potato pancakes and then load on either apple sauce or sour cream, or in my case, both. They are delectably delicious and surprisingly, a low carb snack. I personally love to eat them under the mistletoe.
Now for a little holiday humor. It was Hanukkah and the tiny village outside Budapest in Hungary was frightened that they may not have any latkes because they had run out of flour
Rudi, the Rabbi, was called upon to help solve the problem. He said, ‘Don’t worry, you can substitute matzo meal for the flour, and the latkes will be just as delicious.’
Sarah looks to her husband and says, ‘Samuel, you think it’ll work?’
‘Of course,’ Samuel replies, ‘Everybody knows Rudolph the Rab knows grain, dear.’
So to highlight this occasion of shredded potatoes, grated onions and jelly donuts, I am showcasing my third favorite bridge after the George Washington and Golden Gate, Natural Bridges. It’s a tad older than the first two, formed millions of year ago, before the invention of the VCR.
There were originally three arches, but the outermost fell during the early 20th century, and the inner arch collapsed during a storm that I did not photograph in 1980. At that stage of my photography career, I was mostly shooting from Stockton Avenue and rarely ventured north up to the Bridges, so I missed shooting some landscape history. You snooze, you lose.
So these are some shots taken over the years, beginning in 2006. These days, the Bridges is the place to be when the sky blows up at sunset time, because the reflection of the clouds on the sand is always spectacular. And that is something I can live with. So enjoy the final arch.
On to some late night humor. “Sony has canceled the big Seth Rogen movie, “The Interview.” North Koreans hacked their email so Sony said, “Now we can’t show anybody the movie.” I’m disappointed. I think this is the wrong thing to do. And I hear in the film Meryl Streep is great as Kim Jong Un. Last year, my son gave me a delightful gift for Christmas. He took an egg carton, emptied it out, and made me a pill organizer.” – David Letterman
“This evening marks the beginning of Hanukkah. It’s that special tradition where people find out their friend is Jewish and think back on the number of times they’ve asked them what they were doing for Christmas.” – Jimmy Fallon “Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. And who better to celebrate Hanukkah with than our guest tonight — Garth Brooks. Right?” – Jimmy Kimmel
“I’m so excited for my son. On Christmas morning I want to see his face, to be there when he opens the gifts. I want the see what my assistants got him for Christmas. The Giants and the Jets won their football games yesterday. Astronomers say this will not happen again until the year 2164.” – David Letterman
“Those North Korean hackers are at it again. Earlier today they leaked Santa’s naughty list. Happy birthday to Pope Francis. They had a big birthday party for the Pope at the Vatican City Olive Garden.” – David Letterman “A man was recently admitted to the hospital for surgery after doctors discovered he still had surgical scissors in his stomach from a procedure performed 12 years ago. Said his new doctor, “The surgery was a success. Now where are my keys?” – Seth Meyers
So birthday wishes go out today to my old Fort Lee pal Steve Margolin, who after decades of shoveling snow and ice in Connecticut has finally relocated to the Sunshine State of Florida, where he spends the day watching the sunrise and sunset, NBA League Pass and being seated before 5:00 pm to catch the early bird matinee dinner at Flakowitz Deli in Boynton Beach, home of the mile high deli sandwiches.
So that’s the holiday report. It was an unbelievable week for NBA overtime games. So we’ll catch you putting on an fantastic shooting performances in a triple overtime win over the Spurs last week. Aloha, mahalo and later, Damian Lillard fans.