50 Years Ago Today

Shortly after Kennedy died, people begin saying “We will always remember where we were when we heard the president was dead.” I suppose my grandparents generation the “where was I when it happened” event was Pearl Harbor. For my parents and I it was JFK assassination or perhaps for my generation that was either RFK, MLK or the moon landing that classified as the “where were you” event. We have to suppose that 9/11 is the latest in a series of these life-changing historical moments.

I was in the third grade in James E Robert School IPS #97. Every year the PTA had a fundraiser cookie sale where the kids would sell cookies to raise money for the PTA that then purchased equipment needed by the school. Most of it was wheelchairs. After each annual cookie sale the PTA would throw away “Thank You Party” for all the students. My mom was the PTA room mother for the third grade. My teacher was the much beloved Clara Rose Holmes. Someone came into the room and talk to one of the other adults either my mom or the teacher and it was obvious they were pretty upset about something. There were probably other parents there is room mothers for the other classrooms that day. We didn’t have a TV set in any of the rooms but we had a radio and someone turned it on. The adults were all intensely listening to the news reports.

At one point the kids were told that the president “got shot in Dallas”. I thought he had been given an injection of some kind. I couldn’t figure out why he had to go all the way to Dallas Texas just to get an inoculation. “Don’t they have doctors in Washington DC that could have given him a shot?” At some point someone finally explained to me he was shot with a gun and eventually confirmation came through that he really was dead.

Mom had brought me up to be a political junkie. We watched The Today Show every morning religiously. It was a practice she continued to her final days. She was watching The Today Show on 9/11 and woke me up shortly after the first plane hit. I was watching in time to see the second one hit live. Anyway back to ’63… We were lifelong Democrats and Catholic as well so Kennedy’s election was a big deal in our house. She had made sure even at age 6 or so that I appreciated the significance of a Catholic president. I remember the stern look on her face watching The Today Show during the Cuban missile crisis. I distinctly remember asking “Mommy what is a blockade?” So although I was taking lots of cues from her reaction to the days events, I’d like to think of myself as being a reasonably politically savvy little eight-year-old who knew that this was a very big deal.

Being big fans of the Kennedy family and people who appreciate good comedy, we had a copy of the best-selling comedy album “The First Family” by comedian Vaughn Meader in which a comedy troupe put on sketches with spot on impersonations of the Kennedy family. My favorite little clip from the album was an argument over toys used in the Kennedy bathtub. They included an entire flotilla of battleships, submarines, cruisers, and a rubber duck belonging to the president. Another favorite clip simply said “Go to the polls and vote. Vote for the Kennedy of your choice but to vote!”

Rather than ride the bus home that day, mom drove me home. I remember as we got in the car I said to her “I guess we can go home and throw away the First Family Album. Nobody will ever want to laugh about the president again.”

Looking back on those sketches 50 years later I guess I can laugh a little bit and I’m not alone. A quick search of Amazon.com shows that last year they released a 50th anniversary edition of the album. I actually bought it on CD a few years ago from Amazon along with some other vintage comedy items like Spike Jones and Alan Sherman.

Being a huge fan of the American space program also may be an even bigger fan of Kennedy and his pledge to get us to the moon. It always sort of pissed me off that the plaques on the lunar modules at the name Richard Nixon on them. All of the things I would’ve liked Kennedy to live to do, my biggest sorrow is that he did not live to see the moon landing pledge fulfilled.

I watched TV continuously with my mom over the next several days. I saw Oswald shot live on TV. I saw the famous salute by John John. I watched it all. I did think it was a little bit arrogant that the torch they let at his gravesite was called “Eternal Flame”. Both the scientist in the theologian in me take the word “eternal” quite literally. The sci-fi fan in me hopes that someday we colonize other worlds. If that dream comes true it will be because Kennedy put us on the first step of that journey. That will be his eternal legacy. Not some propane torch buried in the ground.

4 Days in the Hospital Without Wi-Fi

As many of you know I spent four days this week at St. Vincent Hospital with an extremely nasty urinary infection. I knew the mild one every six or eight months. Usually I just did a little stinging sensation and I know that one is coming on. Dad takes a sample up to my urologist office. He writes me a prescription. And everything goes okay.

(Spoiler alert: there may be some TMI too much information contained in the rest of this blog entry.)

This one snuck up on me very hard and very fast. I did feel a pretty nasty sting when I went shortly after dinner Monday night. I was feeling worse and worse throughout the evening. I went to bed about 10 PM and took some Tylenol just because I wasn’t feeling too good. It didn’t take long to realize I was getting very nasty chills. I ended up coming up with multiple extra blankets and still shaking very bad. When we took my temperature it was a whopping 103.6. I don’t ever recall having a temperature that high.

I probably should’ve gone to the hospital that night but I was feeling so awful and it was just so comfy all snuggled up in all those blankets. I just didn’t feel like moving at all.

The Tylenol brought the fever down a little bit but it was still pretty high. At 2 AM I took another dose and it eventually came down.

The next morning it was at about 100 even. My caregiver Rick showed up at 10 AM like always. I decided to go ahead and get dressed and have dad take me to the ER. For some reason I was having difficulty swallowing. I had really nasty nausea and dry heaves. I knew that even if I got an antibiotic it was laundry hard to swallow and I needed to drink lots of fluids at this point I just couldn’t see that happening the way I felt. I was definitely going to need IV fluids and probably IV antibiotic. I was a little bit embarrassed that I had not gone to the hospital the night before.

Once I was up and dressed I had Rick back my laptop into my wheelchair bag. Dad packed up my CPAP breathing machine and we found my special nurse call button that the folks at St. Vincent made me about 30 years ago. It’s just a little microswitch like I use on my remotes and stuff but it’s got a plug on it that fits their receptacle. They build it for me when I couldn’t use the ones that they had. They just told me to take it with me bring it back anytime I need it. That’s what I’ve been doing for decades.

I got on my computer and posted a quick message to Facebook and some email to friends who either don’t have Facebook or don’t read it very often. I plan online browser game called Travian. I sent them an in-game message telling them I was going to be off-line. I took a quick look at my bedroom DVR and canceled some programs that were scheduled and deleted some stuff that I could get on demand later.

We got to the hospital about noon and they took me right in. I took a urine specimen with me. We keep a supply of specimen jars here. They didn’t want to take it but I told them I didn’t think I could give them a fresher sample. It’d take a lot of effort just felt a little bottle that morning.

They wanted to start an IV on me but it’s very difficult to find a decent vein. They finally got a little ultrasound machine and found one in my upper right arm. They drew some blood from that and then hooked up and IV. At first they said they might just keep me overnight in an observation room but based on the idea that I was having other issues like appetite and swallowing etc. they decided they should put me in a regular medical ward. I got to my room about 6 PM.

I still felt really lousy but I slept reasonably well all things considered.

My urologist showed up early Wednesday morning and said he wanted to do an ultrasound of my kidneys and bladder. He wondered if perhaps I had some stones that were aggravating this infection. We were both concerned that this one was way worse than anything I had ever experienced.

I was also visited by an internal medicine doctor. My regular primary care physician is an interest but he doesn’t do hospital visits anymore. They’ve sort of change their model where they have doctors who do nothing but hospital and doctors who do nothing but office. You can’t get one that does both anymore which kind of disappoints me because I like to have someone managing my overall care like an internist who actually knows my history.

Anyway the interest was concerned that there might be something else besides urinary problems that had made me so sick. He wanted to do a CAT scan of my abdomen since I told them I have a history of diverticulitis and of course in 2006 my intestine actually ruptured and I had to have a temporary colostomy. I was similarly worried that it might be something intestinal because I was so sick. On the other hand I was not having any intestinal pain whatsoever. I was very constipated. My “normal” is perhaps every two days sometimes and it was pushing 3 or 4 since I had had a movement. (I warned you this was going to be TMI… It gets worse).

Of course when you have a CAT scan they make you drink a bunch of liquid. I did have a tiny bit of an appetite by now. I had eaten some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. The stuff they made me drink was not as bad as some that I have had. But I had to drink three glasses of it and I only managed to get 2 of them down. At least with a good IV line I would not have any problems with the dye that they have to inject. Whenever I have a CAT scan, that is always a big hassle.

The ultrasound on my kidneys in the CAT scan procedures went relatively easily. I did end up with a fever of about 100 which was making me feel pretty lousy. Normally I have to take liquid Tylenol because I can’t swallow the caplets. But Tuesday night I was so sick with dry heaves that just the thought of taking the syrupy cherry liquid made me gag. I asked them if there was an IV Tylenol or aspirin they could give me. Their only alternative was a suppository 🙁 I was feeling bad enough that I agreed to one. Later on in this ordeal when I was eating something and swallowing better they did get me some liquid Tylenol.

Of course when you’re in the hospital one of the first questions they always ask you is “Are you allergic to anything?” For many years I always said no even though there are couple of antibiotics that I don’t tolerate very well. Of course the one time I said “no” they tried to give me one of those and when I said I didn’t want it they said “I thought you said you weren’t allergic to anything!” So now when they asked me that question I always say “I’m not allergic but there are a couple of antibiotics I don’t tolerate very well. Cipro is me really bad nausea and Keflex gives me really bad diarrhea.” Despite my dislike of Cipro, they talked me into giving it to me IV. I can usually tolerate it for about three days. After that it feels like I’ve got toxic waste flowing through my veins. Not a fun feeling when all your fighting is a bladder infection. Eventually I did talk them into using something different once the urine culture came back and they knew exactly what bacteria I was growing. My usual antibiotic of choice is something called Levaquin and I know for a fact that I have had it by IV at St. Vincent before. But for some reason they didn’t have IV Levaquin this time. Among my normal medications is a nasal spray for my sinuses. I was using Flonase but I recently switched to a different spray is a combination of Flonase which is a nasal steroid and something else which is an antihistamine. They didn’t have the new nasal spray so I went back to Flonase for a few days.

One other bit of medication issue I had… The first time the nurse went to give me meds she started naming things I had never heard of. When I asked her what it all was she said that one of them was stool softener for my constipation. I had already discussed that with the doctor and I was cool with that. Another was a kind of diuretic that was either Lasix or something similar to Lasix. That was okay. I knew I needed to get that fluid passing through me. I was a little surprised that’s what they were giving me because it is notoriously bad on your potassium levels and they had already discovered my potassium was low and they were giving me IV potassium. My previous encounters with IV potassium burned terribly. However this time it was okay because they were giving it to me very slowly mixed in with a bunch of other fluid. Anyway back to the mystery meds… One of them was a blood thinner because they were worried I was going to get blood clots lying in bed. I explained to them that I have feeling everywhere. I know when I’m uncomfortable. I have them reposition me. I’ve never had problems with bedsores. And that I wear a heavy back brace that likes to poke me in various places. While I wasn’t wearing the brace in bed, I could just imagine once I was ready to go home and put that brace on I would end up with bruises everywhere. They said it was okay if I refused to take it.

I had a long talk with the internist the next day. I told him I didn’t like them prescribing me medications that we had not previously. “That is not cool at all!” I told him. He never actually apologized but he agreed that they should have discussed those other meds with me. Other than that little glitch I really liked the doctors that I had. Also all the nurses were great. I had no complaints about any of them. I also had a chance to be cared for by some student nurses from Marion University. They all did a really good job. I had fun chatting with them. Of course they get all of the lousy jobs like feeding me breakfast and giving me a bath but it gave us time to talk. There seem to be a lot more male nurses these days. 20 or 30 years ago when I was in the hospital it seemed unusual to see even one. This is that they were all over the place in two out of the five students that worked on me were men.

After resting up from all that I decided to dig out the laptop and check out the Wi-Fi service. I had used St. Vincent Wi-Fi in the past. I don’t think I had ever used it on my old laptop. I did use dial-up on the old laptop several times before Wi-Fi was so popular. But I had previously used it on my iPod touch when my mom was in the hospital. In fact I bought my first iPod touch when she was diagnosed with cancer sort of because I knew I might be spending some hours in St. Vincent waiting rooms with nothing to do.

I didn’t have any problems identifying “STV-GUEST” as the proper Wi-Fi signal to connect to. When I told it to connect there was a pop up window that asked me to accept the terms. I didn’t bother to read it but it was a little bit suspicious because it didn’t say anything about St. Vincent. I had seen such a pop up before that did identify it as a St. Vincent user agreement.

Anyway when it finally did connect, it said that the connection was “limited”. I didn’t know what that meant. Apparently “limited” means “utterly useless”. I think around with all the troubleshooters and properties and everything else I can think of and determined that it was connecting me to the network but not giving the Internet access. For some reason it would not assigned me an IP address.

I told the nurse about it and she sent in someone who was the secretary for that floor. She was apparently their “go-to-gal” for all things computer. In the end she really didn’t know much about it. It turns out anytime she had ever tried to connect it had worked so she didn’t have any strategy for fixing the problem. She tried disconnecting and reconnecting several times to no avail. We rebooted a few times with no luck.

I tried to convince her to call someone in the IT department but she insisted that they would be highly unlikely to work on a patient computer. She says I have a backlog of maintenance tasks on the hospital’s own computers. There’s a PC in virtually every room from the nurses to do all of the record-keeping. They got a little laser barcode scanner that is Bluetooth connected to their PCs. Every time they give you a pill or an IV bag they have to scan the barcode on my wrist tag and scan the barcode on the medication. It looks like a pretty cool system for keeping track of everything.

Wednesday night I came up with a brainstorm so when I called Dad Thursday morning I had him bring me some stuff. I have a little Wi-Fi dongle that looks like a USB flash drive. I bought it from the Wi-Fi on my Raspberry Pi tiny computer. I had him bring me the Wi-Fi gadget and the driver disk. When he arrived Thursday morning I disabled the built in Wi-Fi on the laptop, installed the other Wi-Fi gadget and it behaved exactly like the built-in Wi-Fi.

Dad had his Barnes & Noble Color Nook book reader with him. We tried connecting to the Wi-Fi using his tablet and it worked perfectly 🙁 That ment it was something I was doing wrong. Or perhaps their system just wasn’t compatible with Windows 8.1. We never did figure it out. I showed dad how to log into my Facebook account to post a quick update message for friends and family.

I also installed a special chip in his Nook that sort of turns it into a full-blown Android tablet. We switched it over to Android mode and downloaded a copy of my favorite remote control program called TeamViewer. We used that program to remotely access my desktop at home. Then we can post an email using Outlook on my PC. I can use webmail on my Road Runner email account but it does not store any of my email addresses. So we got a quick message out that way.

One of the things that bothered me at this point was the status of my DVR. If I had had good Internet access I could’ve used a Bright House remote access webpage to get to my DVR and try to reschedule some shows. Unfortunately that system isn’t quite as useful as I wish it was. It will let you schedule a recording. It will let you see what you have scheduled to record. It will let you cancel a scheduled recording. What it will not do is it will not show you what you already have recorded nor will it tell you how full your DVR currently is. That makes it marginally useful in my opinion. I didn’t bother to have dad try to log into that mess. I would just have to hope that any movies I had scheduled would be shown again later and that any regular TV shows I could catch on demand more from “other sources” wink wink.

I normally eat two meals a day and a snack before bedtime. That’s usually lunch and dinner. But since I was waking up early and eating breakfast and lunch I didn’t really feel much like dinner. One thing that was cramping my style, they had me only cardiac diet. I was going to argue with them that I really didn’t have any cardiac diet restrictions but they explained to me that it was really a no salt diet (low-sodium) because they wanted to keep the fluids running through me and salt makes you retain fluid. So I really couldn’t argue with that.

Early on Wednesday the urologist had said he was probably going to put a catheter in me. The whole reason I get these infections is because my bladder doesn’t completely drain. However when I told the internist and the nurses have difficulty usually is to hit one of those things in me, they all decided they wanted the urologist to do it. He would not be back until Thursday morning. So although I should probably had the catheter on Wednesday it didn’t happen until Thursday. The urologist sent over his nurse to do it. It actually went better than some such procedures I’ve had although none of them are any fun.

On Thursday morning the urologist came in early and told me that the ultrasound and CAT scan showed nothing extraordinary on my kidneys or bladder. He said that he had already known I have some small cysts of fluid on my kidneys that they were nothing to worry about. He knew about them but I don’t ever recall hearing about them. Anyway I asked him what the CAT scan had to say about my intestines. “I don’t really know… I was more interested in your urinary system.” Viva specialization! The internist was very late getting in that day. I was kind of anxious to hear about the CAT scan. When he finally did show up he said everything looked normal.

Okay here is a double triple TMI alert…

I mentioned that I was constipated so they finally started giving me some stool softener’s. It took two days worth of them but finally early Thursday, they kicked in and I filled a couple of bedpans with some really nasty stuff. I did start getting some cramps after I was cleaned out but having heard that the CAT scan on the intestines was okay I didn’t worry about it too much. The pain went away pretty quickly.

When I talked to the internist late Thursday I asked him “What is our goal here for getting me home?” My white cell count had been something like 37,000 when I came in. They had it down to 22,000 and normal is 11,000. I asked him does it have to be normal? Anyway after a small conversation he concluded there was a good chance I could go home Friday that he needed more input from the urologist.

One other visitor I had on Thursday was a woman from the chaplain’s office. I had thought about calling them. I told them when I went in that I was Catholic and wanted to receive communion but nobody had showed up. When she stopped by for a visit I told her that no one had been by. She looked at her paperwork and she did have me down as Catholic. She promised someone would be in and they did show up Friday morning for communion. That was nice.

Also my friend Rich stopped by Thursday night for a quick visit on his way home from work. I told him the whole saga about the Wi-Fi problems. We also got caught up talking about our favorite TV shows such as The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy. He was the only visitor I had other than dad but that was okay.

Thursday night was the Colts game versus the Titans. Fortunately St. Vincent has a great selection of cable TV channels including your usual basic cable ESPN, ESPN2 2, all of the news channels including MSNBC, and all the science and discovery and history channels. Fortunately when the Colts play on NFL network may always allow a local station to broadcast the game it was on WTHR. I was pretty wiped out and I dozed off somewhere late in the second quarter and woke up during the opening drive of the third quarter. Naturally I was very disappointed at the way the whole first half went. I tried not to scream too loud when Luck ran in that touchdown from about 12 yards out to give us the lead. I was really worried when we were only up by 2 field goals because I knew if Tennessee ever got their act together again, they might march right in with another touchdown. Fortunately we ended up leading by 10 and I got a little bit of a relief. Then Tennessee marched in and scored. The onside kick was no good and we ended up winning. I classified as one of those apologetic “a win is a win” kind of games. At least they didn’t slaughter us like what happened the week before.

I slept reasonably good Thursday night. I was disappointed Friday morning when the urologist did not come in like he usually does. That did not look good for my prospects of coming on Friday. However the nurses all had the word that I was a probable discharge. I’m guessing it was about 10 AM that the internist finally showed up. He had talked to the urologist who apparently had been on the floor or had checked in at the nurses station or something but had not visited with me. Anyway he had signed off on the discharge so the internist said that I was good to go. He would write up my orders.

In addition to things like removing my IV and all that stuff, we needed to make some changes to the catheter system. I had about 6 feet of tubing and a huge bag hanging on the side of the bed. They switched that to a shorter tube and a leg bag. Dad got me dressed to go. As I suspected it had experienced previously after being on IV fluid for a long time, my back brace didn’t fit worth a damn. We put it on me as best we could. Fortunately they had a Hoyer patient lifter gadget to lift me out of bed and into the wheelchair. Once I was sitting up I could tell for sure that the brace was a mess and that my arms were extremely stiff. I knew it was going to be at least a day and probably two until I would be able to function normally. There was no way I was going to be able to drive my wheelchair.

I did get a chance to say goodbye to some of the nursing students before I left. They were all really cool people. Also the transport people who took me back and forth for various tests were all pretty cool. Every time they were about to go over a bump in the floor such as getting on and off of the elevators they would warn you. I thought that was really special. I told them I wasn’t in any pain and it didn’t really matter that I could see that if I was in pain, every bump would’ve been a big deal and it was nice that they would always warn patient. Dad had been bringing little three wheel go-go scooter that we had bought for my mom. It’s a very long way from the parking to my room and he really liked having it. Once I was up in the chair, dad got in the go-go and went to get the car. They sent someone from transportation to push me downstairs in my wheelchair. In a cool bit of bookend irony, the guy who had pushed me from the ER to my room on the first night was the same guy who pushed me from the room down to the lobby.

We stopped by the drugstore to turn in my prescription for some liquid antibiotic. We told them we would pick it up in a couple of hours. They just called to say they didn’t have it and would not be able to get it until tomorrow morning. Dad just drove back over there to pick up the prescription and try to take it to a different drugstore. I did not yet have my IV antibiotic today or I would’ve waited until tomorrow morning but I don’t want to wait a full day without any more medicine going in me.

It’s a little bit strained sitting here in front of the computer not being able to drive my wheelchair or get to the phone in case of an emergency. Dad asked if I was going to be okay with him running this errand. I told him I was at the computer and if he didn’t show up in a couple of hours I would send out some emergency emails and Facebook messages.

The first thing when I got home was I had dad put me in front computer to send out email and Facebook reports that I was home. Then I tried eating some lunch but didn’t feel like much of an appetite. I was having a little bit of difficulty breathing until we loosened up some of the straps on my back brace and then I was okay.

The next thing I did was go through about 300 unread emails 95% of them were of course spam. Then I started going through my DVR to see how much damage I had. Fortunately I have a gadget that allows me to send IR remote signals to the DVR using a webpage on my PC. I see what’s on the bedroom DVR because I have a coaxial cable running from the bedroom into the office where I can watch the bedroom DVR from the office. There were only two movies that I’ve lost that I was not able to reschedule. Fortunately they were ones that weren’t very important to me. I get by without seeing them. There were quite a few that I really did not want to lose and was lucky to catch on the schedule a few days from now. I will still have to catch up with some shows on demand but that’s okay as well.

After that I started writing this blog. It’s great to be home with a real computer and real Internet connection and real cable TV with DVR!

Thanks for all of the prayers and support from family and friends.

PS added later… Neither Walgreens nor CVS had my antibiotic in liquid form. Instead we got it in a capsule form and we open a capsule up and mix it in some vanilla pudding. That’s what they did with some of the pills I had to take in the hospital. And he did make it home okay so I don’t need to send out any emergency emails 🙂 I still not limber enough to drive my wheelchair but I think I push buttons on my TV remote and we might even crush some candy on the iPod touch if we’re lucky. All future updates will be quickies on Facebook.

Disguising a Wheelchair on Halloween

Lots of people have been sharing their creative Halloween costumes online. Today’s costumes have to have lots of blinking LEDs, electroluminescent wire, and all sorts of other electronic effects. I can only imagine the kind of costume I might have dreamed up when I was a little kid if I’d had access to the electronics that I have access to today.

However as you will see below, my parents and I did get pretty creative in trying to design a Halloween costume that dealt with the fact I’m in a wheelchair.

I think my favorite is this one from 1963 when I was 8 years old. We had recently purchased a washing machine or some other big appliance that came in a giant cardboard box. We reused the box for my costume and decorated it like a TV set. We cut a hole in the front for the screen and I dressed up in a cowboy outfit. That made me “A Cowboy on TV”. You probably can’t see it on this photo but written on the front of the TV was the words “RCA Living Color” even though probably at the time we only had a black-and-white TV.

The problem with doing something creative is that you constantly have to try to outdo yourself over and over again. While in 1963 costume simply covered up the wheelchair, the 1964 costume sought to transform the wheelchair into part of the costume itself. A canopy was added to the wheelchair to make it look like a baby stroller. Of course that meant that I had to dress up like a baby. I don’t know how they ever talk me into doing this but I did anyway.


Here’s a closer view where the photo is not quite as faded.


For 1965 we just sort of ignored the wheelchair when turned me into a robot. I suppose a robot could sit in a wheelchair. The arms and legs were made out of flexible duct work. The chest and head piece were cardboard covered with aluminum foil.


I’m pretty sure that after that I didn’t do much trick-or-treating. In years prior to that I always just got a ready-made purchased costume. The only photos I could find on many of those costumes go all the way back to 1958 where I was an astronaut before there even were astronauts. Or maybe I was a Martian who knows?


Here’s another photo from the same year. The guy in the Popeye costume is my former next-door neighbor and currently my dentist Dr. Michael Tillery.

Here's what the guy in the Popeye suit is doing today.

Here’s what the guy in the Popeye suit is doing today. (Click to view)

You’ve probably seen his advertisements on local TV. I’m not sure who the other person was. The writing on the photo is very faded. I tried adjusting brightness and contrast and could almost make out the word Jenny or Jeremy but I don’t remember anybody by that name.

I have all sorts of ideas of how I could string rows of LEDs around the wheelchair or create fancy light show displays. I could put a string of LEDs around my wheels and use an accelerometer chip to detect when the wheels are turning and that would change the pattern of lights. It would be a lot of work and I never go to Hollywood parties or go anywhere like nightclubs where having a blinking outfit would be cool. So I guess I will stick to my usual electronic projects such as TV remote controls and toy helicopter controllers.

New App Maps and Rates Wheelchair Accessibility

Back in the 1980s my mother had a grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation to create an accessibility guidebook for Indianapolis. The book was called “Navigation Unlimited in Indianapolis”. It was actually an update of an earlier book that the foundation had produced. Many different disability organizations had created such guidebooks for other cities around the country. This was prior to ADA and other accessibility legislation. She went around to hundreds of public places and measured doorways, surveyed restrooms, counted steps, measured curbs and scouted accessible entrances.

After ADA and other building code changes I’m happy to say that for the most part such a guidebook is not needed. But there are still a few places where access is problematic. One guy has found a modern way to handle this problem. He has created an app using Google maps that allows people to rate various locations and facilities as to their accessibility or more importantly there inaccessibility to people in wheelchairs. Here is an article from Time online telling his story.

My mother would’ve absolutely loved this. In fact I’m a little embarrassed I didn’t think of it myself.


Paul McCartney in Concert: Part IX “Epilogue”

The Journey Home

I don’t really recall everything that Judy and I talked about on the way out. We were both sort of emotionally exhausted but still on a big high. Even though we waited a little bit for the crowd to thin we still had to fight a pretty big crowd to get all the way around the arena to the other side were the elevators were. I decided we should not call my dad until we got downstairs because we didn’t want to be on the phone with him if it was our turn to get on the elevator. As it turned out of the three elevator lines, ours was naturally the slowest moving one. I already told you about the conversation with the woman from Cleveland who had gotten emotional over “Paperback Writer”. Judy asked where they were staying while they were in Indianapolis. The woman said they were staying with friends from Jeffersonville which is almost as far south from here as Cleveland would be north. I was happy we didn’t have that far to go. It was after 11:30 PM.

We got downstairs and reunited with Anne. We called my dad and went down the ramp and out the door To wait for him outside. I knew that Judy and Anne both needed cigarettes. We just talked about the show in and talked about taking pictures and about the people that sat next to her. At the very end of the show they had fired off a pair of confetti cannons and the clouds of confetti drifted towards where Anne had been sitting. I had said to Judy “I hope she saves us some confetti”. Great minds must think alike because indeed she did. I will end up taping the confetti pieces into my program as a keepsake along with my ticket stub. Judy made sure she had taken her ticket stub as a remembrance as well.

Confetti and ticket stub memorabilia.

Confetti and ticket stub memorabilia.

I was in bed by about midnight but I didn’t get to sleep until about 2:30 AM.

The Days That Followed

The next day I started working on making a mix CD of all of the songs we had heard that night. Some of them I already had on CD. A couple of them I bought on iTunes. The remaining songs were acquired by a method not altogether dissimilar from the one in which I had first acquired Beatles music (wink wink nudge nudge say no more). A Google search provided me with the set list from the concert. Apparently the McCartney press office had released a set list in the concert had followed it except that it originally was supposed to contain “Get Back” instead of “I Saw Her Standing There“. I like “Get Back” okay but I was glad the other one was substituted. I later found another set list with links to some of the songs on YouTube and it helped me identify Beatles versus Wings versus just plain Paul songs.

It took two CDs to hold the entire collection of songs from the concert. I had asked Anne if she preferred live versions or studio versions of the songs where available. She said “studio” and I agreed. I like them best so that’s what I did. She came over that evening and brought her camera so I could download the photos. I was overjoyed to see how wonderful they all were.

I took a break from my Beatles adventure on Tuesday and then on Wednesday through Friday I worked on writing this blog. It took me from lunchtime to suppertime all three days to complete it. Then it took me all afternoon Saturday and Sunday to edit it, upload it, and attach the images. As you can imagine, writing it was an emotional experience as well. However as I said in the beginning when I have big experiences in my life, they aren’t complete until I’ve written about them.

I originally started doing the Wikipedia searches just so that I could link the song and album names in this blog onto something but along the way I learned a lot about the songs, how they were written, and the context in which they were written. I did not know for example that “Abbey Road” was actually the last album they recorded even though “Let It Be” was released after “Abbey Road”. I did not know about the role that the “Long and Winding Road” had played in the breakup of the Beatles.

Although Wikipedia is not always the most reliable sources for encyclopedic information, my guess is that Beatles fans would not allow an accurate information to stay on the site for more than a few minutes. Even if it isn’t 100% accurate but still is some interesting reading and I encourage you to click on a few of the links.

harrisonWhile preparing this blog I also stopped by Amazon.com and ordered DVDs of “The Love We Make” which was the documentary about the post-9/11 concert that McCartney did. Also “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” which was the Harrison documentary I mentioned. And while I was at it I ordered the Billy Joel documentary “Last Play at Shea” and a Blu-ray of the concert film “Billy Joel: Live at Shea Stadium

Me in my Paul McCartney T-shirt. Photo taken with my new Nikon S3500 point-and-shoot camera.

Me in my Paul McCartney T-shirt. Photo taken with my new Nikon S3500 point-and-shoot camera.

Then in early August I made one more purchase. I wasn’t going to have a camera that you stupid AA batteries that you had to take out and charged by themselves. For a long time I had wanted a new camera that was chargeable by USB. My friend Stu recently bought a new Nikon point-and-shoot that was really nice so I went out and bought one for myself. It has a 7x optical zoom, shoots 720p video in addition to stills, and the extremely thin considering resume. On sale at Best Buy for under $100 and I couldn’t resist. Here is a photo of me in my Paul McCartney T-shirt taken with the new 20 megapixels camera. Note I downsized the picture to lower resolution for uploading a blog. You don’t want to see my age spots and scruffy beard at 20 megapixel resolution trust me 🙂

Overall it’s been an amazing experience and one that I’m certain I will never forget. Sharing it only with Judy and Anne just wasn’t enough. I had to put it down in my blog and share with everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed our own little Magical Mystery Tour. I like mine better than the original.

Paul McCartney in Concert: Part VIII “Encore Encore”

After that last Beatles song, I was really surprised when the band again came downstage and waved and bowed. He still hadn’t sung “Yesterday”. The summer before last, Judy and I went to Deer Creek to see Elton John and we were surprised at how many people left during the encore. He still had not done “Your Song”. I realize it was a cold and rainy night and that traffic would be hell leaving the place but why would you spend all of that money and sit through the entire concert and not wait to hear him sing “Your Song”. Judy and I are also the kind of people who never leave a sporting event until it’s completely over no matter how big the score is one way or the other. If you’re going to pay the money to see the event by God you ought to stay for the whole thing!

Judy noticed that the couple who had been standing in the row 1 seats behind us were about to leave after the first encore. She said to the woman “You do know he’s coming back to sing ‘Yesterday’ don’t you?” The woman replied “Oh yeah that would be worth staying for.” And they stayed. As I looked around the arena I didn’t see very many people leaving. This second break was much longer than the first one. We were not going to let him end the show without “Yesterday”.

When he eventually returned, he picked up an acoustic guitar, walked to the center of the stage, and our wishes were fulfilled.

What We Came for

Yesterday” 1965 Beatles album “Help!“.

I cried.

“Yesterday, All my troubles seemed so far away…” Photo by Anne Chapman

I could just leave the review at that but after having detailed the emotions and feelings and history behind so many other songs, I really need to talk a tiny bit this one. I was 10 years old when the song first came out. I liked the song just like everyone did. It was once voted the best song of the 20th century and you will get no disagreement from me there. But it really didn’t mean that much to me until three years later when I got my heart broken by my first love Rosie Shewman. I must have sung that song to myself and cried myself to sleep for hundreds of nights. Of all of the “soundtrack-of-my-life” songs in the world this is the “soundtrack-of-my-life-iest” of them all.

Wallet photo of my first love Rosie Ellen Shewman

Wallet photo of my first love in junior high Rose Ellen Shewman

Although she broke my heart, we did end up becoming very good friends throughout high school. In my high school yearbook she wrote “You mean more to me as a friend than you will ever know “. I realized at that moment that the reverse was also true. She meant more to me as a friend than I had ever realized. That taught me a lesson which has served me well throughout many relationships. No matter how much you are attracted to a woman romantically, if the romance isn’t meant to be, don’t discount the powerful blessings that come from a deeply felt lifelong friendship. The chief beneficiary of that lesson was sitting next to me as I cried through the song that night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Wallet photo of my good friend from high school Rosie Shewman

Wallet photo of my good friend from high school Rosie Shewman

I still miss Rosie every day. I carry these two photos of her in my wallet. The last I saw her was at the Roberts School reunion in 1986 which was chronicled in my award-winning magazine article “The Reunion“. She got married and had a baby. She passed away October 29, 1993 of complications of disability.

I won’t ever see Rosie again. I won’t ever hear John Lennon or George Harrison sing live in concert. And soon this wonderful experience of hearing Paul McCartney sing these wonderful songs would be over and would be just a memory like Rosie and Lennon and Harrison and all of the other events of my life that I had relived over the past couple of hours.

So I cried.

"… I believe in yesterday". Photo by Anne Chapman

“… I believe in yesterday”. Photo by Anne Chapman

Mood Breaker

Helter Skelter” 1968 Beatles album “The Beatles (White Album)“. Once McCartney had finished Yesterday I expected him to take another bow and walk off the stage for the last time. I was really surprised when he declared “Do you want here’s a more rock ‘n roll?”. Naturally most everyone screamed “YES!”. I was too spent to say anything. What came next was an assault on the senses both audibly and visually that was completely unpleasant in my opinion. McCartney had said in an interview that they wrote the song to be the loudest, raunchiest rock ‘n roll song ever written.

I had actually never heard the song before. I had never owned the White Album and it was at a period in their history where I really wasn’t that big of a Beatles fan anymore. Some of their music from “Magical Mystery Tour“, “The White Album” and “Yellow Submarine” was just too bizarre for me. I didn’t really get interested in the Beatles again until “Abbey Road” which followed.  Given the connection of this song to the Charles Manson gang and the book and film about him of the same name, I never felt inspired to go back and listen to the song after I heard about it and the Manson connection. All I can think of that night was I was glad I wasn’t on drugs and I was a little bit pissed off that he would follow such a wonderful song was such a horrible one.

Before the final songs started, McCartney gave a big shout out thank you not only to his band but to all of the other stage technicians, audio, video people and even the truck drivers who made the show possible. I thought it was great that he gave the roadies a shout out.

And in the End…

Golden Slumbers“, “Carry That Weight“, “The End” 1969 Beatles album “Abbey Road“. McCartney returned to the grand piano and begin gently playing Golden Slumbers. I had run out of tears by that point and the mood had been broken by the previous song however I did get a little bit emotional over this medley of songs which have long been favorites of mine. They are three out of four final songs of Abbey Road which is one of my favorite Beatles albums. Thinking about Golden Slumbers I felt a sense of peace that John and George and Rosie and all of my other friends who succumbed to their handicaps were now sleeping Golden Slumbers. The rock ‘n roll bridge in Carry That Weight is so much a part of the medley and I enjoyed so much that I didn’t mind it as an interruption.” The entire lyric of the final song it was a fitting conclusion to this entire adventure. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

To be concluded…

Paul McCartney in Concert: Part VII “Encore”

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

After the big “Hey Jude” sing-along, the entire band came out and took a big bow and waved and walked off the stage. Of course that didn’t stop the crowd from cheering for several minutes and with “Yesterday” still unsung he had to come back. This was the first time since the beginning of the show over two hours prior that McCartney left the stage at all. It wasn’t too long before they all returned. As they came on stage they were waving large flags. They had American, British, and state of Indiana flags that they waved to thunderous applause. Finally after handing off the he picked up a guitar and the show continued.
Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

Day Tripper” 1965 Beatles single on compilation album “1962-1966 (The Red Album)“. Okay we are back in Beatles mode yet again. I didn’t cry with this one but it definitely transported me back to a place and time in the 60s. I always loved the double entendres of this song. Also had a particular question about one of the lyrics (“she’s a big teaser”) and after reading the Wikipedia article, I see that the lyric was changed from a raunchier one. That means we got the message even if they did change the lyric 🙂

Photo by Anne Chatman

Photo by Anne Chatman

Hi, Hi, Hi” 1972 Wings single. This is a heavy rock ‘n roll song is a great one for an encore performance when everybody is all fired up. They did a rousing version. Check the Wikipedia link to see how the BBC banned this song from the airwaves.

I Saw Her Standing There” 1963 Beatles album “Please Please Me“. Now we’re all the way back to the beginning. This was the first track on the first Beatles album and a longtime favorite of everyone including me. It had McCartney’s signature screams of “Wooooo…”. Again I didn’t cry for this one but it didn’t transport me to another time and place yet again.

I recently enjoyed watching a special on PBS where McCartney was given The George Gershwin Award for songwriting at a special ceremony at the White House. A variety of artists were invited to come in and perform various McCartney songs in tribute to him as he was given the award. But they also invited comedian Jerry Seinfeld to come in and do a few jokes. Apparently McCartney is a big fan of Seinfeld. He started off by saying how much he loved McCartney’s work but he wondered if some of the lyrics were just a little bit suggestive. Quoting from the song Seinfeld said “‘She was just 17 if you know what I mean.’ No Sir Paul… Just exactly what do you mean? This all sounds a little creepy to me!” I about laughed my ass off when I heard the joke originally and I couldn’t help but giggling throughout the whole song thinking about what Seinfeld had said.

At some point during one of the encores (I cannot exactly determine when) Anne turned her camera towards the balcony and took the photo below. When she first brought me the photos I skipped through them rather quickly and when I saw she had taken a photo of the audience I just thought it was an ordinary crowd photo. I didn’t notice it right there in the middle of it was me in my yellow shirt and Judy sitting to my right in her blue and white stripes caught in mid clap.

Judy and I in the balcony. Photo by Anne Chapman

Judy and I in the balcony. Photo by Anne Chapman

After “I Saw Her Standing There“, the band took another set of bows and walked off stage again.
To be continued…

Paul McCartney in Concert: Part VI “Sing Along with the Finale”

After the emotional tribute to George Harrison it was great to have some fun songs to raise the movie again. It was time to build up for a grand finale and we were not disappointed.

Let’s Have Some Fun

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” 1968 Beatles album “The Beatles (White Album)“. This is a fun little Beatles song which was a big audience participation song. People chimed in on the refrain “La la la life goes on…”. I really needed something upbeat after that previous song.

Band on the Run” 1973 Wings album “Band on the Run“. This is one of my favorite Wings songs and they did a really great version of it. Again another big upbeat song to get me over the Harrison thing. It’s one of a number of Wings songs that changes tempo in the middle. It starts out as a soft ballad in and goes into hard rock. I really enjoyed it. Especially the synthesizer solo.

Back in the USSR“1968 Beatles album “The Beatles (White Album)“. Always liked this hard rock song even though it was a bit difficult to like a song about the USSR at the height of the Cold War. I always thought it was strange that they wrote the song having never been to the USSR. Check out the Wikipedia article about how it was written as a parody of the Beach Boys and their influence and input into it.

After the song he went over and sat down at the grand piano at the back of the stage again and begin talking about the time they did get to go to Russia and played the song. They were the first rock band ever to be invited to play in Red Square. He said they were introduced to all sorts of Russian officials such as the defense minister and other high ups in the Soviet government. He said they tried to be as polite as possible not wanting to set off some international incident and wondering just how welcome they would really be there. He said the defense minister came up to him and said “The first record I ever bought was ‘Love Me Do'”. McCartney did a pretty good fake Russian accent as he told the story. He went on to say that some of them told him they learned English by listening to Beatles records. One of them came up to him, shook his hand and said “Hello Goodbye”. I thought it was a really good joke. I don’t care if it really happened or not. Because he had returned to the grand piano I knew that one of my much awaited songs was not far off. I was not disappointed when the next song was…

Let It Be” 1970s Beatles album “Let It Be“. When I said at the beginning that I had braced myself for emotional moments in a Paul McCartney concert wherein he would likely sing lots of Beatles songs, I was a little bit concerned this might be a tough one for me. It’s probably fourth or fifth on my favorite Beatles songs but the more I got to thinking about it prior to the concert I realized it wasn’t really a tear jerk kind of song for me. I just really really liked it.

I suppose the most emotional part about the song for me was that we used to sing it in my high school choir and that I had the sheet music for it and learned to play the opening piano introduction on our Hammond organ in my house. Back in the days when I had better use of my hands (hell any use of my hands) I liked to play the organ. Most of the time I played a one note melody with my right hand occasionally hitting a two note chord. There were only two exceptions to this limitation. One was a Christmas hymn “What Child Is This?” in which I could play pretty good melody with the right hand (one note at a time) and a base note with the left hand. However “Let It Be” was my masterpiece. I played it with both hands and at certain points actually played two note chords with each hand! I worried a little bit that the fact that I might get nostalgic and upset over my loss of ability to do this would make the song a tough listen for me. As it turned out I just set back and enjoyed hearing one of my favorite songs being beautifully performed live.

One other note… Part of my love of the song was it talks about “Mother Mary”. Being brought up a good Catholic boy I naturally presumed that it was talking about Mary the Mother of God. The fact that the piano gives way to a church organ part of the way through the song probably reinforced that idea. It wasn’t until about a year ago that a friend of mine ruined it for me (thanks Megan) by telling me that Paul’s mother was named Mary and that the song was about her. Megan believed it was a double meaning but my research since then says it was all about mother McCartney. I still like the song a whole lot and it was wonderful to hear it in person.

It’s also a little bit sad that it was one of their last big hits on their last studio album before the breakup. Actually by the time it was mixed and released the breakup was complete. That always makes it a little bittersweet for me.

Live and Let Die” title song from the 1973 James Bond film “Live and Let Die“. I remember when I first heard that Paul McCartney was going to do a James Bond theme. I thought it was really cool that they would hire a rock star for such a role. Pop stars had performed Bond themes in the past most memorably Shirley Bassey performance of “Goldfinger“. But I didn’t recall a rock star writing and performing such a song. However it set a precedent that continues through the most recent Bond theme when Adele wrote and performed “Skyfall” and won an Oscar for it. “Live and Let Die” was nominated for best song Oscar but lost to “The Way We Were“. The Beatles did win Best Score Oscar for the documentary “Let It Be

I had seen McCartney perform this song for the Queen’s Jubilee and it included lots of pyrotechnics and fireworks. It was really spectacular so I was hoping we would get a good show for this one and I was not at all disappointed. There were four very loud fireball cannons that went off in the front of the stage. There were also Roman candles shooting fireworks balls into the air at various angles. Along the back of the stage there was a row of about 10 or so smaller fire cannons shooting small orange propane fireballs into the air.

bond3I noticed that one of the rear cannons wasn’t shooting fireballs that was shooting a continuous orange flame about 6 feet tall. The flame continued to burn after the other devices had quit shooting. It had me a tiny bit worried we were going to see some disaster if the thing got out of hand. The flame gradually died down and ended as if someone had slowly cranked closed a valve. Near the end of the song when the rear fireballs resumed, that particular one did not do anything. I thought it was kind of cool that the stagehands had a way to selectively shut that one down and did so.
As wonderful as these photographs are from my friend Anne, I’m a little bit disappointed she didn’t get a wide shot of the whole stage showing some of this pyrotechnic stuff. But I can’t really complain considering how awesome the rest of her photos are. And you can see some of the fireballs in these images. The song ended with a loud explosion and McCartney walked away from the piano holding his hands over his ears shaking his head and laughing. The whole thing was every bit as spectacular as a James Bond song performance should be.
Hey Jude” 1970 Beatles album “Hey Jude“. Judy had been saying since well before the constant that she couldn’t wait to hear McCartney sing to her directly “Hey Jude”. I told her “You know it was actually written for Julian Lennon don’t you?” She said “Yeah I heard that they are wrong. It’s all about me.” With the song started she let out a big cheer.

This is always a big audience participation song for the much repeated coda at the end. The audience didn’t need much encouragement to sing along. The band quieted down and just kept a beat for the audience to sing to. He went through the usual live concert routine “Everybody on this side.” And then “Everybody on that side”. And now just the guys. And now just the gals. And now EVERYBODY! It’s a cheesy trick but it’s a lot of fun and I screamed out the words just like everybody. I was kind of surprised how clearly you can tell the difference between the men and women singing. There was clearly a deeper tone. Lots of times when they say “just the guys” the guys don’t chip in and sing very much but this time they did. Everybody likes singing along to the song and it was a lot of fun.

So it wasn’t just McCartney singing to Judy. It was about 18,000 people in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The band all stepped forward with McCartney, took a bow, and walked off stage to thunderous applause.

Paul McCartney in Concert: Part V “Songs From Silly to Serious”

I’ve said it many times so far and I will say it again, my good friend Anne Chapman took some wonderful photos that I’m pleased to share with you. I teased her after the concert saying “Now you did write down which song he was singing during each photo didn’t you?” Of course there was no way to enjoy the show and keep such notes. There are a couple of piano songs coming up that were played on an upright piano. The image of that piano is not from this section of the concert. It was brought back out for another song during the second encore and that’s where the image is from. Also he began one song on ukulele. Unfortunately she did not get a photo of the ukulele. In this section I can’t guarantee that these photos matchup with the songs. So just enjoy the photos and the descriptions even if they don’t line up perfectly.

This piano was used on "Your Mother Should Know", "Lady Madonna", and "Golden Slumbers". Photo by Anne Chapman.

This piano was used on “Your Mother Should Know”, “Lady Madonna”, and “Golden Slumbers”. Photo by Anne Chapman.

A Psychedelic Piano

Your Mother Should Know” 1967 Beatles album “Magical Mystery Tour“. They rolled out an upright piano with a 60s psychedelic paint job on it and the band returned to the stage. I never saw the 1967 TV special “Magical Mystery Tour” and never really cared for many of the songs in this period. It was all just a little bit to psychedelic and weird for me. I don’t think I have ever heard this song before. During the song, Judy turned to me and said “That piano sounds like ‘ Lady Madonna’style piano”. She was right because the next song was…

Lady Madonna“1968 Beatles single. Judy was ecstatic that she had called it correctly. She said she still had the 45 record at home and when it was new she played it constantly. It’s one of her favorites. I always thought it was a pretty good Beatles song. During the song the screen behind the stage projected images of famous women from Mother Teresa to Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland holding an infant Liza Minnelli and countless others.

This was one of those songs I was surprised to learn was only a single and was not put on an album until years later when it first appeared on the 1970 compilation album “Hey Jude“.

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

All Together Now” 1969 Beatles album “Yellow Submarine“. Back on guitar again this silly little song was actually written for a TV special in the UK. Click on the links for details. It was supposed to be a frivolous little sing-along children song and that’s exactly what it is. Although there was some audience participation moments in the concert ironically this sing-along song was not one of them.

Songs with Names in Them

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

Lovely Rita” 1967 Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. This was another of the songs that McCartney said they had not done on tour before. Judy and Anne had never heard it before however they were not big fans of the Sgt. Peppers album. Neither had they seen the cheesy 1978 film “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees among others. Both the album and the bad film are guilty pleasures of mine. There are lots of goofy little character songs on the album and I had thought this one was in the movie as well but my research says it wasn’t. It’s about a meter maid with whom the author of the song is madly in love. I always thought that this song, “Mr. Kite” (coming later) and the other silly songs were a lot of fun. My favorite from the album and the movie but was not played in the concert was “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer“. I especially love Steve Martin’s version of it in the film.

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

Mrs. Vanderbilt” 1973 Wings album “Band on the Run“. This was an audience participation song. We practiced and then chimed in on the “oh, hey ho” refrain. I had never heard the song before. It looks as though we’re putting together a theme section of the concert with songs that are the names of people. So naturally the next song had to be…

Eleanor Rigby” 1966 Beatles album “Revolver“. This was one of the songs that Anne was especially looking forward to hearing. So Judy and I immediately turned to one another and said “Well, Anne is happy now”. I guess because at times I’m one of those lonely people I always really liked this song. Those of you who know the Enneagram Personality Typology know that I am a type 5 and I always thought that Eleanor and Fr. McKenzie mentioned in the song might be type 5 as well. The idea that the padre was “writing the words to a sermon that no one would hear” reminded me very much of Maria Beesing’s parable about the type 5 person in the ivory tower writing everything down but never sharing it.

Reproduction of poster which inspired "Mr. Kite" song.

Reproduction of poster which inspired “Mr. Kite” song.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” 1967 Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. This is another one of my favorite silly songs from Sgt. Pepper both the album and the movie. I saw a documentary one time with Sir George Martin produced many of the Beatles records. He explained the inspiration for this strange song was a poster that John Lennon had found in an antique shop. A reproduction of the poster is shown here and you can get all the details in the Wikipedia article by clicking on the title of the song. I like this live rendition and it had a really cool laser light show with it that gave at the circus feel of the original song. This was the last of the “never before performed live” songs of the evening.

Crying Spell Number Two

Something” 1969 Beatles album “Abbey Road“. McCartney walked to the side of the stage and picked up a ukulele. He said that this was a gift from George (George who? snicker) who loved to play ukulele. He said that George was a big fan of British comedian and singer George Formby who was famous for playing ukulele as well. He said one day he and George (Harrison not Formby) were sitting around together on a sofa and started playing one of George’s songs both of them on ukuleles. He then began playing and singing “Something in the way she moves…”. He sang at least an entire verse and a chorus or perhaps more all alone just strumming on that little ukulele. It was mesmerizing sitting there watching him play and thinking about the two of them sitting around strumming of these little instruments in an impromptu jam session. When the song got around to the electric guitar solo, the band joined in and from there out they sing the entire song in a fully produced version reminiscent of the original.

This was the second time in the evening that I broke down and cried. I’ve already mentioned that I had recently watched the documentary about Harrison titled “George Harrison: Living in the Material World“. That documentary was also emotional for me because it taught me all sorts of things about Harrison and I never knew and made me realize how underappreciated he had been by everyone during his lifetime. As the song went on I began thinking that I would never hear George Harrison perform live because he died of cancer in 2001. So I thought to myself this is the closest I’m going to get to hearing him live. To hear one of his closest friends sing his greatest song in tribute to him.

Paul McCartney in Concert: Part IV “Memories Both Fond and Sad”

At this point I think my emotions have pretty much settled down and I’m just sitting back and enjoying the show.

Back to the Guitar

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

I Just Seen a Face” 1965 Beatles album “Rubber Soul“. McCartney moved back to guitar after playing several piano songs. This is a fairly obscure old Beatles song. I think I’ve heard it somewhere but it’s not a favorite by any means. My research says in the UK had originally appeared on the “Help!” but it and one other song were excluded from the US version of that album.

Another Day” 1971 McCartney single. This was his first single released as a solo artist. Sort of like “Maybe I’m Amazed” I think it got overplayed so much that I got tired of it.

My Roots As a Bootlegger

And I Love Her” 1964 album and movie “A Hard Day’s Night“. Okay it’s time to get emotional again. This is my second or third most favorite Beatles song of all time with “Yesterday” holding the number one spot and this one in a close tie with “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” from the album and movie “Help!“. I was back in the Beatles concert again and although I don’t think I cried during this one it did get me pretty emotional.

peabodyOkay Mr. Peabody set the Way Back Machine for 1964. The location is the Lafayette Road drive-in theater and I’m sitting in the back of our Corvair van in my wheelchair with a tray across my arm rests. Sitting on that tray is a small 3 inch reel-to-reel tape recorder. (Note this was before cassette tapes became widely used.) The microphone is propped up on the window of the van right next to the horribly low quality drive-in movie speaker that is hanging in our window. I’m watching the film “A Hard Days Night” with my mom and dad. Every time one of the songs comes on I quickly hit the record button on the tape recorder. The people who sneak video cameras into theaters these days to bootleg movies thought they were on the cutting edge of bootleg technology. All the way back in the 60s I was bootlegging the soundtracks of this film, “Help!” and “Mary Poppins

This song was performed in the movie during a sound check for the TV show in which the Beatles were going to appear. It really ticked me off that there is a brief interruption of the song by one of the TV technicians saying something during the sound check. Back then before even seeing the movie I had heard the song and really liked it and was disappointed that it had been ruined in the film and not presented in a pristine version.

The version I heard that night in the concert was absolutely wonderful. I also liked that the video camera got a close-up of one of the band members playing the percussion of clicking wooden sticks together which is one of the signature parts of the original arrangement. The other signature part of that song is a four note guitar rift that is absolutely beautiful. In the 2011 documentary “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” which I had recently seen, Paul McCartney said that even though many of the Beatles songs were listed as written by “Lennon-McCartney” it was George read written that brilliant four note rift that McCartney himself thought made the song special and so do I.

At some point during the concert and I really can’t remember when, he announced that he was going to play songs that had never been heard live in Indiana. He said in some cases the songs were being played on tour for the first time this tour. Judy and I both figured it was some newly recorded song but in each case it was an old Beatles song. I don’t recall if this was one of those that he said it never been performed on tour or not. However according to Wikipedia it says that this song was only performed live twice by the Beatles. That means it was probably was one that he first said had never been done “in Indiana”. You can click on the song title in this section and read the details. I do recall a couple of other ones that he categorized this way and I will mention them later.

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

Blackbird” 1968 Beatles album “The Beatles (White Album)“. I hadn’t noticed but most of the band except for the percussion had left the stage during the previous song and for this song, McCartney walked downstage to a smaller stage in front of the regular stage. This beautiful little acoustic guitar ballad is a big favorite Beatles fans and probably top 10 on my list. Anne told me afterwards that the guy who was sitting next to her had gotten pretty choked up during the song. A friend of Judy’s had told her that at one point during the concert the last time they saw him he had played a segment of the concert on his own with no other accompaniment so we were certainly expecting this and pleasantly surprised he was doing it again. As he sang that front section of the stage started to rise up about 15 or 20 feet in the air. I sort of felt sorry for the people in the front row who probably couldn’t see him for the first time the concert. I’ve always enjoyed acoustic solos in big loud concerts. There’s just something piercing about the sound of an acoustic guitar in a huge arena or outdoor amphitheater like Deer Creek. I mentioned I’m a fan of the group Yes and they always do one or two acoustic songs this way.

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

Here Today” 1982 McCartney album “Tug of War“. This very touching song was dedicated to “my friend John” who is no longer with us. It was written after his death and was in the form of a conversation they never had. As he introduced the song I wondered if there were young people in the audience saying to themselves “John? John who? I wonder who he is talking about.” I guess I was just feeling old. My guess is 99.99999% of the people there that night knew who “John” was. I had heard him perform the song before I don’t recall when on TV. Judy and Anne had never heard the song before. When I saw it before and that night in concert it was obvious that he chokes up a little bit trying to sing it.

It was a little bit emotional for me not that I felt the loss of John Lennon all that much. I love his music but personally I didn’t really care for him. I like that he was all for peace and love and all of that but I always thought that this signature piece “Imagine” was a little too atheistic for my taste and can even be construed as communist. I don’t mean communist as in Soviet or Chinese dictator style communism. But at more pure type of communism in which people share everything equally. I think John Lennon was so introverted and withdrawn that at times he came off as aloof and inaccessible. Paul and Ringo have such big personalities that you can’t help but like them. George also seems quite withdrawn and inaccessible but not in an arrogant kind of way. So to the extent that you can have a least favorite Beatle out of session unbelievably talented group of people, John was always my least favorite.

I did get emotional however because it told me that there were things left unsaid between Paul and John and I felt sad for him because of that. I had experience that at a young age when many of my friends in high school succumbed to their disabilities at an early age. I learned the lesson the hard way not to leave things unresolved with someone when you never know if you’re going to see them again. This is especially true for apologies.

Photo by Anne Chapman

Photo by Anne Chapman

To be continued…