Rich Paschall:

The snow and cold have arrived here in the Midwest, so it is time for my top ten winter songs again.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

My Top 10 Cold Weather Songs, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

With much of the nation having already been visited by cold and snow, it seems like a good time to bring on the winter tunes. Songs by any band with “Cold” in their name is not what we mean here.  Nor shall we include song about loves who are as “Cold As Ice” or running “Against The Wind.”  Our tunes are really songs about winter, cold, and snow.  Some are a bit more symbolic than others, but they will do nicely for my purposes.

Let’s be clear, they are not holiday songs, although some of them only get played in the holiday season.  Since the Christmas holiday season seems to start around Halloween and go until New Year’s Day, I guess there is already ample opportunity to hear some of them.  You will discover that there is no holiday greeting included in…

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We Stand With Humanity, a political commentaryribbon-black_68

On September 11, 2001 we stood with our fellow citizens of New York, and Washington DC as well as those who died in a field in Pennsylvania.  It was a natural reaction to a terrorist act on the homeland.  We were not the only ones to stand up and condemn this action.  It was condemned across the world.  The acts of 9/11 were not just taken symbolically around the world as an attack on all citizens of the earth.  The bringing down of the World Trade Center was literally an attack on the world.  People from more than 90 countries died in New York.  People everywhere were outraged.

In the wake of the tragedies in Paris, Beirut, Egypt over the Sinai and elsewhere across the globe, do not let your Tea Party friends explain that some right-wing bigots with hand guns could have stopped these tragedies.  Don’t let their hate of immigrants or other religions fool you.  Some of the worse tragedies of all time have happened here, they are not confined to other countries.  No idiots “packing heat” will stop a well-coordinated attack by terrorists.

We stood with Paris after the attacks on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  At that time I explained, as did many that “Je suis Charlie.”  It was not that we could identify with “Charlie.”  The magazine was a bigoted publication that repeatedly provoked a particular “religious” group.  It was because an attack on freedom of the press anywhere in the world, is an attack on all our freedoms.

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Now we stand with Paris again.  The coordinated attacks this week in the French capital are an indication of the lengths these terrorist groups will go.  Are they to be feared?  Of course, that is what they want.  Will the world stand up against ISIS and those who claim responsibility?  It is the only response.  Humanity must stand together or this type of thing will never end.  We should learn the lessons of a house divided.

It is important to point out that no matter what terrorists spokesmen may claim, this is not an act of religion.  The phrase “Terrorism has no religion” has been trending on social media.  Muslim leaders around the world condemned the attacks (Washington Post).  Pope Francis has referred to the global terrorist attacks as “piecemeal WWIII.”  It is probably in that light that we should consider our global response.

All attacks on innocents should be taken somewhat personally  As a society we must consider what is next.  Putting hand guns on the persons of right-wing bigots will protect no one and is not a plan at all.  Certain Republican candidates will now find the opportunity to spread hate and fear while spewing the NRA (National Rifle Association) party line.  We need something better.

I did not know anyone in New York or Washington on 9/11, but I watched in horror as many of us did.  They were my countrymen and citizens of the world that died that day.  We did not have to know them to mourn them.

Now I have come to realize that I have many friends in Paris, so this recent tragedy hits home to me more than it does for some in our country, I would guess.  Four of my friends reported their safety on facebook.  A few others have not yet commented.  I have sent them my concerns.  Any tragedy in Paris is like a tragedy down the street from me.  The world is our global village. Good people of all colors, nationalities, and religions must have a coordinated global response to the “piecemeal World War III” or we will be standing up and mourning these tragedies over and over.



Rich Paschall:

We still need that “new beginning.” With yet another presidential campaign already upon us, we seem to need a fresh start more than ever.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The Path to a New Beginning, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Ask anyone what is wrong with the world, and you will certainly get an opinion, or many of them.  We can all point to things that are wrong with politics, education, religion or whatever it is that crosses your mind, but we don’t all agree on what those things are.  We are polarized to the max, whatever that means, and we can not reach consensus.  Worse, influential people will try to make sure the majority does not rule.

With an eye toward the concept that this world should end, the one that is full of prejudices and deceit, is a video that presents our problems in detail.  That You Tube video has gone viral.  A rap artist and rights activist who calls himself Prince EA has put out a video that quickly hit a million views and is reposted and…

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Rich Paschall:

It is not just autumn, but also “the autumn of my years.” It is a time for reflection. Sometimes the past is the image you see.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The Autumn of the Year, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…

As I turned seventeen, I had finished my Junior year in high school and was looking forward to Senior Year at a new school.  It was a bit scary, I admit.  No one wants to leave his mates behind and start again, but that was my fate, not my choice.  At least the new school was in the neighborhood, and I already knew a few students who were going there.  Although we did not admit at the time, the final year of high school put many new thoughts in our heads.

You may think sex or sexual orientation, but those thoughts had already arrived years earlier.  All the passing of a few years meant was these thoughts and curiosities intensified.  As you might imagine, a few of the boys and girls were a…

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Rich Paschall:

Here’s another look back at an era of segregated radio and cover songs.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

Black artists and white singers, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

At the dawn of Rock and Roll in the 1950’s and even into the early 1960’s, it was not uncommon for white singers to cover African-American singers.  Black artists did not get radio play on white radio stations.  That shut them out of a lot of markets and kept much of America from hearing their songs.  This opened the door wide for white singers to record songs heard only on black R&B stations, leaving the impression in many areas that they were the original artists.

The Memphis area, Tennessee label, DOT, founded in 1950, became big by hiring white singers to cover black songs.  Indeed they made stars out of some of these singers.  Among the biggest was Pat Boone.  The crooner recorded Fats Domino’s 1955 song “Ain’t That a Shame,” which became a big hit.  It had been suggested that Boone change the…

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Rich Paschall:

Because the “gay athlete” stories never go away, here is a reblog of a story from last year at this time.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The Openly Gay Athlete, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

If you have read any stories about gay athletes in professional sports you would certainly know about it.  That’s because no matter how often it has been stated, any article that mentions a gay athlete will state that he is “gay” or even “openly gay,” as if telling you he is gay is not enough.  I guess if you tell the press you are gay, then you are pretty open about it, and you certainly can’t take it back.  Reporters follow around openly gay athletes just for the purpose of asking them what it is like to be openly gay and play ______ (fill in the sport here).  I wish just once the athlete would respond that it is the same as being “openly heterosexual.”

Perhaps they should ask the reporter what it is like to be “openly heterosexual” and asking…

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  A visit to the park                 

 small Midwest town church

A drab, older model, olive colored Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled up directly across the street from the bright white colored Protestant church.  The driver of the car liked that particular spot because he enjoyed looking at the church with its impressive steeple and large cross at the top.  He was not a member of that church or even of that denomination.  He just liked looking at the church.  He never went inside and could not tell you why he liked it so much, he just did.

Harold exited his dependable vehicle.  It had taken him around town for a dozen years already.  He guessed it was good for a few more years, just like Harold himself.  His parking spot was not far away from Harold’s modest home in the small Midwest town, but it was a little too far for Harold to walk.  He did not walk much at all anymore, although he would be the first to tell you that he really should get more exercise.  He would tell anyone that, if only someone would ask.

Across from the white church with the tall steeple that could be seen for miles was the town park.  It was well-kept and was the pride and joy of the town.  It had a small pond stocked with swans, who could come and go into a little house where they were fed and cared for.  The door of the house was always open.  The pond was fenced in and the little house was inside the fence.  The fence was certainly to keep the people out.  Swans were to be looked at, but not touched.  They may look nice but could be downright mean. There were none around for Harold to see.  Maybe they went south for the winter, maybe they were inside the little house, maybe the town puts them away somewhere before winter.  Harold did not know and really did not give it much thought.

He took the path that led to a magnificent gazebo which was just about in the center of the park.  He could imagine bands playing there on summer nights to the joy of small town Americans with lemonades or ice cream cones in hand.  He had to imagine it because he had never actually seen it.  He stayed away from the park on summer nights when they had activities of any kind.  There was never a parking spot close by when bands were playing and Harold simply was not going to walk for blocks to go to an event where he knew no one and would have nowhere to sit.  Rocking away the evening hours on his front porch was his main summer evening activity.

When he reached the gazebo he went up its three steps and walked into the center.  It was on slightly raised ground and he could see all around the park.  “What a beautiful autumn day,” he said confidentially to himself.  “We are lucky to have such a nice spot.”  The “we” at that moment was actually just Harold.  Although the temperature was pleasant for that time of year, the breeze was alluring and sun was falling softly between the clouds and across the beautiful green grass, no one else came to the park that Thursday afternoon.  Children were in school, most adults were working and the rest did not know they could put on their best fall outerwear and join Harold in the park.

Having exited the other side of the gazebo, he looked down the path that led to the main street in town.  Right before the road was a tall flag pole with the American flag flying proudly in the autumn afternoon.  There were shorter flag poles on either side flying the flags of  the military services.  They were put there by the local VFW and the bushes and flowers that surround them were cared for by VFW members.  Harold wondered why he had never joined the VFW.  Of course, he was not sure if there was anyone he knew in the VFW and he certainly was not assertive enough to find out.

Rather than take the pathway, he decided to cut across the grass to a park bench he spotted across the way along another path.  Leaves were gently pushed out of the surrounding trees and were falling around the bench.  He thought it would be a pleasant place to sit down for a while and rest.  His slow movement across the lawn would have revealed a slight limp if there had been someone, anyone there to see it.  No one knew of the limp, however, except Harold and he was not about to tell anyone of it.  There were plenty of things Harold kept to himself.  He could not think of a single person he could tell.  There were no family or friends left.  He guessed he had outlasted them all.

When he reached the destination, he sat down on the cold metal bench.  The old wooden ones were more comfortable but these were going to last longer, if properly maintained.  With the awkward spacing of the metal slats, no one was ever going to get comfortable,  even Harold.  From a distance the bench looked quite inviting, but it turned out to be a poor invitation once you sat down, especially when the weather was turning colder.  It was of little matter to Harold, he was not going to stay long anyway.  First, he looked at all the trees and saw the yellows, oranges and even some greens.  Some trees had their colored leaves neatly decorating the green grass below.  “I wish I could get a thick, green lawn like that,” Harold murmured to himself.  “I wonder how they do it.”  Then he looked down the path to the right to admire some bushes with bright red leaves.  They were probably the brightest red leaves he had ever seen.  Finally he gazed off to the left to admire the white church.  He thought he should bring a camera some day to get a picture of the church from this beautiful vantage point.  Actually, he had that same thought many times before.

When he got on his feet again, Harold discovered that he had stiffened up in the cool breeze.  He moved slowly across the lawn feeling the effects of age and inactivity.  The slight incline toward the gazebo now seemed like a small hill but he conquered it just like he had conquered small battles in the past.  His impulses told him to turn around and take in the view one last time.  Across the lonely park he spied the black, metal bench sitting there all alone, just like he was doing not long before.

Note: Harold in this story is no relation to the Harold that has appeared in the short story series on SERENDIPITY (  Apparently I know a lot of people named Harold. 

The short story as a video presentation.


Rich Paschall:

As I was freezing at our local Oktoberfest last night, I thought of this. Unlike Germany, the fest here was in a large tent so it was not a warm event. My Germany visit is one of my best memories.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The meaning of the annual celebration, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

German-American Festival, Chicago German-American Festival, Chicago

It seems every community wants to have an Oktoberfest.  It doesn’t matter if they have any idea what the Oktoberfest actually is.  They just want to have one.  Perhaps some think if they have enough music and beer, then they have a Fest.  Our community is no exception.  Chicago’s largest ethnic group is German-American so we think we know how to have a Fest.  As street festivals go, it is pretty good.  It is not an Oktoberfest like you would find in Germany.

Some of my friends have the Oktoberfest in Munich on their Bucket List.  They think I should want to be a party to this too.  The older I get, the worse this idea actually sounds.  For those who don’t know, around six million visitors show up for the 17 to 19 day festival.  If…

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Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent ...

Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”

The changing seasons may hold special memories for some.  Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment.  It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day.  Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.

When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football.  No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college of professional football.  I am talking about the in the park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park with many different friends as teammates and opponents.  Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind.  Only good images remain.  I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated.  Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life.  Fortunately, they are good memories.

Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind.  There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park.  Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off.  We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons.  We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.

Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry KramerInstant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage.  Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game.  A couple other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game.  I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since.  That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me.  Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.

“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”

Summer could last forever for me now.  Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I pray will never fall away, I would then wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around.  While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era.  I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks.  That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”

If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon.  Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile.  If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here.  The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few.  The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature.  When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow.  If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.

“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”

There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn.  If a cool fall afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now.  For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.

– “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.


Rich Paschall:

When I hear Linda Ronstadt on the radio, I recall her remarkable career.

Originally posted on SERENDIPITY:

The silencing of Linda Ronstadt, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

All through the 1970’s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys from the mid 60’s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging.  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50’s and 60’s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song, Hurt…

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