Friday, March 29, 2024

The "perfect" "Bridge Over Troubled Water" & what it means for Baltimore


(508 words)

With an eeriness I doubt I’ll ever shake, I’d been obsessed with the Simon & Garfunkel 1970 classic “Bridge Over Troubled Water” since at least five days before a Baltimore bridge became fatally troubled by what was happening upon waters it was built to bridge. 

I’ve tried in vain to find a way to cajole the song — maybe the most flawlessly recorded pop song ever — into a hymn to ease the hurt of those who are weary, feeling small.

The ones who have tears in their eyes, who need one of us to dry them off, to assure them we’re on their side when times get rough and friends just can’t be found. 

Sing it with me: “Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water, I will lay me down!”

It’s estimated 15,000 men and women earn their living from the boats that daily come and go through that port.

How many graduation parties just got canceled? How many weddings postponed? How many vacations denied because the rainy day fund all of a sudden needs to be used on umbrellas.

The disruption. The chaos. The lives thrown into tumult.

When you’re down-’n’-out

When you’re on the street

When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water …

As I said, the song has been on my mind for more than a week. I can’t remember what precipitated the infatuation. I know I was in the car and wanted to play one song really, really loud. I saw “BOTW” on a playlist and thought, “Perfect.”

It wasn’t until I’d played it full blast that I realized the song itself is, indeed, perfect.

It is without flaw. Contributing to its production should be the highlight of the contributor’s entire lives. Each obituary should read for all involved: “Paul Simon, composer of the world’s most perfect song, ‘BOTW, died …”

“Art Garfunkel, who delivered the most flawless vocal performance in history on ‘BOTW,’ died …

An accomplished woman, say, could have lived a life of achievement in math or science, but if she tinged! the triangle for one note 54 years ago, it should be the first mention in her obit.

I played the song loud, so often, that staff in the Tin Lizzy began to complain.

“Why does it have to be so loud?” a waiter asked.

I told him I wanted the whole building to hear it because it’s a perfect song.

I said the song shares no metaphorical kinship with the Key bridge tragedy, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t. Because we will now begin to hear stories of hope and heroism.

We’re going to read about neighbors helping neighbors, of experts wowing us with their insight, and about families overcoming struggles. 

We’re going to hear stories of everyday men and women building a new bridge over once-troubled waters.

And on that day I’ll open the windows and turn it up as loud as it can go.

I want the whole world to hear it.

YouTube: “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”

Monday, March 18, 2024

I shaved my head and beard, why?



I woke up the other day with a wild hair up my ass that went clear to my brain and now the wild one is about the only hair I have left.

I shaved my head and now I’m bald as a baby, albeit a baby with chest hair and pubes.

It’s not uncommon for empathic souls to shave their heads in solidarity with someone they admire, someone battling disease.

But it’s been a long time since I’ve hung out with anyone we could consider admirable and declaring I was shaving my head to support Burt who’s struggling to overcome a wicked hangover lacks nobility.

So why’d I do it?

I shed my hair to save your soul.

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re not worthy. Blah, blah, blah. Okay, buy me a drink. We’ll call it even.

See, I’m honing a new presentation built around the mantra: “Do something each and every day to ensure parking at your funeral will be a real bitch.”

It’s a dandy line. Easy to remember, direct, surprisingly unique — and it’s funny. That’s key. Plus, it has that mild profanity that gives me the appearance of being edgy.

Me and Kanye!

I wouldn’t dare add to the grim mix by putting out something serious. Something serious like me talking.

That was the obvious flaw in the video I recorded over the weekend. I’m uncomfortable alone in front of a camera. It’s just awkward. So when I was game planning the production I realized I needed something to distract from what in essence would be 109 seconds of just me talking.

Don’t let that mislead you into thinking I doubt the importance of my message. In fact, it could be the difference between whether any of us go to heaven or hell.

I contend the number of sincere mourners at your funeral will be a factor in determining if your soul will descend into hell or zoom straight to heaven, a passage which is, ironically, becoming less strenuous thanks to the rapid depletion of that pesky ozone layer.

See, there’s a bright side to everything.

Sure, you and I may die of global warming related disaster, but the destruction of the protective ozone layer means our souls will have less difficulty ascending to heaven.


As I was considering ways to enliven the video my train of thought veered off track and all of a sudden I was thinking about my beard which was due for removal.

Remember, my custom is to grow the beard whenever I see the five-day forecast predicting three consecutive days when the temperature is below 30-degrees and to shave it when I see three days of 50 or more.

For 20 years this worked like a charm. People knew just by looking at me if the weather was moderating.

My face was your forecast.

But the aforementioned climate change has injected chaos into what was once stable.

So I arbitrarily said I’d have to keep the beard until St. Patrick’s Day.

I was thinking about this as I was setting up the tripod in Flappers. The building was empty. I thought, “You know, I could shave parts of the beard off in between cuts so at the conclusion my beard will have disappeared.”

But I soon realized I was going to run out of beard.

That left only one option.

Farewell hair! I sheared off wide swaths and just like that turned 109 seconds of levity into for what I expect will be about 3 months of public ridicule.

I’ve already had two people ask if I’d lost a bet.

And now for the first time in my life, I have more hair on my balls than I do on my brain.

It’s startling.

Because now every time I look in the mirror I get confused over which realm, the balls or the brains, is responsible for making all the big decisions around here.

• Here's  the video ...