Saturday, June 27, 2009

RIP: Michael Jackson

Being 2 years younger than Michael, I have seen every stage of his career. I'm posting because I want to relay one story which I think reveals how far the U.S. has come since 1982, the year Thriller was released.

At that time, I was in a Senior in college, and living in Hoboken, NJ, which is right across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Radio in NYC was representative of most of the nation. Basically, Rock and Urban music were not to be mixed. It was almost like you had to choose a side.

The two big Rock stations in NYC at that time, were WNEW and WPLJ. When Thriller was released, there was a bit of a conundrum. Beat It was rocketing up the charts and these stations would play it, but did not want to acknowledge that it was daring to cross the line. Of course, no one would ever question why Jimi Hendrix was acceptable, nor ask the even more vexing question about where the Rock genre came from.

In a handful of ridiculous cases, they would just focus on the fact that Beat It featured Eddie Van Halen on guitar, while sometimes neglecting to mention that it was Michael Jackson singing. Incidents like these stand out in your mind because they are so blatant. I think (and hope) we're past that.

In closing, let me say that after seeing Quincy Jones at SxSW this year, and Michael's death, I had to get a digital copy of Thriller, since I'm unable to play my vinyl copy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP: Joseph John Pazik Jr.

First you may be wondering who Joe is, I usually only write about musicians. Joe was my 2nd cousin. By a strange set of circumstances, I have no maternal cousins, but close to a hundred 2nd cousins. My relatives on this side of my family are all descended from Lithuanian immigrants. It's a big extended family and we are all very close.

My cousin was a retired Naval Aviator. He had served as a Navigator in an F4 crew, off of the U.S.S. Midway. A real live Top Gun graduate. His passing stings, since he was all too young, at 58 years of age. Since he was 10 years my senior, I always looked up to him as I was growing up.

During the past two years, Joe and I had been collaborating on tracing the family genealogy, and to the surprise of many in our family, making good progress. From here on out, like Maverick, I'll have to go on without the Goose. I do hope to be at Arlington National Cemetery when he is interred in late September.

Geneaology Note
For those not genealogically inclined, 2nd cousins share a set of common great grandparents. In this case, our mothers are cousins and our grandmothers were sisters.