A LIFE TOO SHORT

By now, he may have been a huge international star.  There may have been concert tours and record deals.  There may have been television appearances and interviews.  His good looks and winning smile may have captivated generations.  All that was not to be.  It was on this date ten years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this originally, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 10th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

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SOME GRAND MUSIC

Although he lives in the Chicago area, there does not seem to be much opportunity to see Steve Grand here. Last year I caught a rare live performance at a local club.

SERENDIPITY

Just Steve and the Piano, Rich Paschall

Perhaps if you are lucky, you get to meet one of the celebrities you write about. Maybe it is easier in a big city where celebrities will often pass through.  Even then, meeting them at the venue or bumping into them on the street would seem rather remote.  I guess it happens.

Steve Grand lived in the Chicago area and actually worked in the neighborhood.  No, I had never met him.  Before his break-out album, All-American Boy, I had never heard of him so if I passed him on the street, I would not have known anyway.  If you have been following this space, you may have noticed the articlepresented here on his music.  You certainly would have remembered the publicity photo.

All-American Boy All-American Boy

In a city like Chicago you might think there would be plenty of opportunities to see a…

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WHAT IS YOUR SONG?

This article appeared last year on SERENDIPITY.  Go visit and see today’s article Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song.

The Soundtrack of Your Life, Rich Paschall You have probably heard that phrase before. Oldies radio stations love to use it. They want you to think they are playing the soundtrack of our lives. You…

Source: WHAT IS YOUR SONG?

SOMETHING THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME

In the over a year since this article was written, David has worked on a project for the Mormon Church, recording “Glorious.” He has also worked on his own music and made few public appearances. He has a short tour this fall, limited to Utah and Idaho so far.  He may never return to the celebrity he received following his American Idol success.  That fame does not seem to concern him as much as his faith and his music.

SERENDIPITY

A pop star profile by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

What comes to mind when I say “rock star” or “pop star?”  Do you think of your favorite singers?  Do you hear their music in your head?  Can you sing along with their songs?  Have you gone to their concerts?  What if I was to say that I am not talking about stars of the past, just stars of today?  Now who do you think of?

Perhaps Justin Bieber and all the little “beliebers” come to mind.  Perhaps you think of Miley Cyrus and the strange antics that have surrounded her recent career.  Lady Gaga with all of her wild outfits might be the next image in your head.  There are plenty of stars that stand out as much for their behavior or arrests as they do for their music.

So what about qualities?  Humanitarian efforts are probably not among…

View original post 714 more words

CHICAGO “NOW”

Following up last week’s reblog about Chicago the band, here is another about the latest album.

SERENDIPITY

AKA Chicago XXXVI, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Chicago, the band, has done something most older bands are reluctant to do.  They have put out a new studio album of original music entitled “Chicago NOW.” Legendary bands with staying power such as Chicago make their living off their faithful fans at live performances and sales of older albums.  They know that only a select handful of older bands can actually sell new singles and albums.  The buying public for new music is mainly in the 13 to 34 age bracket and many of them tend to stream music rather than actually buy it.  The main buyers of CDs are in the 45 and over crowd but they are buying “catalog” music, or that is to say, classics from their favorite artists of the past.

Studio time can be expensive, both in terms of the studio cost and the lost concert performance time.  A…

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Writing a blog

All over the map

Y from the Yahoo logo

Y from the Yahoo logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I write a weekly blog,” I proclaimed rather boldly while some sport events played on the televisions around us.  “Sunday Night Blog!”
“Really?” my friend questioned.  “What kind of blog?”
“What kind?”
“Yeah, what kind is it?”
I stared back with a rather blank look, I guess.
My friend continued with determination to extract some further information, “What is your theme?”
“Oh!” I said as if I finally understood. “The theme is Twenty ten. It is a typical lay out and you can change the header anytime and add all kinds of cool stuff down the side.”
“No, not the theme. What is your subject? What do you write about? What are your topics?”
The light bulb finally went on, but I did not have a good answer for him. “I write about anything, or everything.  It depends.”
“It depends? What do you me it depends? You have to have a certain type of blog. Do you write about politics? Music? Religion? Sports?” As I did not provide an immediate answer, my friend added, “Something else?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “I write about all those things.”
“WHAT!? You can not do that.”
“Why not?”
“No one will ever read a blog like that. You have to find your niche and write for them.”
“Isn’t that a bit like preaching to the choir?” I asked.
“Exactly,” my friend said without a millisecond of hesitation.
“Well, what is the point of that? The choir probably has heard the sermon already. I want to write about the things that interest me each week.”
“No, no, no,” my friend blurted out, almost shouting so I would be convinced. “You have to have a goal for your blog, a higher purpose!”
“I do have a goal,” I insisted. “I wish to finish each week before Sunday night, hence…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said while cutting me off. “Hence, Sunday Night Blog.”
“That’s it,” I said proudly. “I even finished on time for the two Sundays I was out of the country.”
“That doesn’t count,” he reminded me. “You probably wrote those before you left.”
“True.”
“Look, you want to have readers, don’t you?”
“Of course.”
“Then you must have a permanent category,” he instructed. “How about music?”
“I don’t go to enough concerts and I do not hear enough new music.”
“What do you listen to in your car?”
“I sing along to the oldies,” I replied with a smirk.
“Oh my god,” he declared rather slowly to add emphasis. “Remind me never to ride with you.”
“Why not?” I laughed.
“Moving on,” he stated in a manner indicating his resolve. “What about entertainment in general?”
“No, I don’t get much entertainment, unless you count your facebook status. They really ought to get spellcheck for that.”
My friend either did not get it or pretended not to, so as not to get sidetracked from his mission to find me a purpose. “What about food?”
“Hot dogs?”
“Nevermind. How about the economy?”
“Too depressing,” I replied.
“Politics?”
“No, everyone will be sick of it by election day.”
“Religion?”
“No, the choir has already heard me sing.”
“Sports?”
“No, everyone I know is into fantasy leagues, not real sports. That’s like reality television, only with beer and chicken wings.”
“Well, how about the media?”
“I could review other blogs.”
“Absolutely not,” he shouted, “you will lose the one or two readers you might have now.”
“I must have more than that,” I insisted. “We can look at the dashboard and find out.”
“Don’t do it. You will be too depressed if you do not find any readers.”
“That’s true.”
“You can not go on like this, however. If you want readers you need a regular topic. You must load up you your articles with the right keywords so they will be picked up by the top search engines. You must choose your categories wisely and add lots of tags. Blast out notices on facebook and twitter, maybe Stumble Upon, Tumblr, Reddit and Pinterest, maybe Google+ and Yahoo.
“They still have Yahoo?” I said innocently.
“You simply can not be all over the map!” He was finally finished with trying to help me be an internet author. Besides, it was time to get another round and more popcorn.
“But I like being all over the map,” I said rather meekly. “It has provided me with the greatest adventures. My best travel companion and I have always started off with a general destination, but no specifics that stop us from going all over the map. We have the best trips ever.  The blog is sort of the same thing, I think”
My friend glanced back at me with a rather incredulous look.
“Honest! I wished I had lost my sense of direction long ago. It really has helped me find my way.”
My friend just shook his head and grabbed another handful of popcorn.

The World Around Us

Great but totally random thoughts and musings

First and foremost, have we not learned anything from failed Middle East policies?

Is there a particular reason why we are not calling the military coup in Egypt a “military coup?”

With the hundreds of thousands of surveillance cameras in a large metropolitan area like Chicago, does anyone doubt that Big Brother is watching?

Isn’t Glenn Beck’s 15 minutes of fame up?  Doesn’t anyone care that he just makes stuff up?

Have you seen A Face in the Crowd?  Now would be a good time.

“Hey Orville, is that a big crow up there?”  “No Wilbur, it’s just another drone.”

The city claims that all the speeding and red light cameras are for increased safety of the citizens.  Does anyone doubt that they are really for revenue enhancement?

Did Miley Cyrus kill Hannah Montana by dropping a house on her or has she morphed into the green witch out for revenge?

Did anyone notice what a great job James Franco did as Oz, The Great and Powerful?  It is the perfect prequel and pays due respect to the Wizard of Oz 74 years after its release.  (It played to mixed reviews.)

Did John Kerry have a face lift?

Does Mitch McConnell have permanent indigestion?

Does John Boehner has permanent indigestion?

Is democracy dead?  If not, why do you have to be a millionaire to be elected to high office (or at least have many millionaire friends)?

When did pink become a gay color?  Colors are not gay or straight, masculine or feminine.  They are just colors.

If cotton candy was actually made out of cotton, would it be any worse for you than the stuff it is made out of now?

In this day of advanced technology, why would we ever hear, “Price check on register two?”

Is advanced computer training necessary to be a cashier at a fast food restaurant?

If a teenager can account for every penny received from parents, why can’t he make change at the fast food restaurant?

Should McDonald’s include 5 dollar items on the dollar menu?

Is Edward Snowden actually spying on the Russians for us?  Does anyone besides the president care if he stays in Russia for the rest of his life?

If 90 percent of teenage girls and 10 percent of teenage boys have crushes on someone in One Direction, doesn’t that equal 100 per cent?  Doesn’t Perez Hilton think it equals 100 per cent?  Doesn’t Perez Hilton have a crush on someone in One Direction?

Isn’t Seabiscuit a great movie with appropriate commentary on the time period by the appropriate narrator?  Rent it, buy it, download it, stream it, steal it.  OK, maybe you should forget the last option.

If Mick Jagger stopped singing “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” does that mean he got some?

Do you think Mick Jagger still Moves Like Jagger?

Should the Rolling Stone start their concerts an hour late like they are some 60’s, or worse yet some 70’s, rock band?  Oh wait, nevermind.

What do you suppose are the combined ages of the members of the Rolling Stones?  What if you include Mick Taylor in that?  I am sorry if you have to be a Rolling Stones fan to figure that out.

Isn’t the baseball season over yet?  Even though the Chicago Cubs are “three peat” champions (1906, 07 and 08) we are losing our enthusiasm.

What if the “loveable losers” are no longer loveable?

If I have only watched a total of 2 dozen different channels on my television, why must I buy a package that gives me hundreds of television and music channels?

Won’t streaming video to my computer and tablet someday replace cable television?

If everyone wants a 65 inch television, why do they watch things on a 7 inch tablet?

Is 3D television dead because we don’t want to buy/wear those silly glasses?

Does Ashton Kutcher remind you of Steve Jobs?  Yeah, me neither.

Is it possible both Two and a Half Men and Charlie Sheen came out ahead in the infamous falling out of the two?  And what is the beef of that Angus kid?

These are just a few of the wonderful things running around in my head.  Feel free to share some of yours in the comments.

This and That

Random Thoughts and Musings

There are over 330 traffic deaths in Illinois already this year.  This may be due to drinking and driving, speeding through work zones or distracted driving.  I sat at a traffic light this past week watching a police SUV speeding toward us with lights on, sirens and horns blowing when a driver from a cross street went through the intersection nearly missing a high-speed collision.  It looked to me like she was talking on the telephone.  I wonder if she had any idea of the close call she just had.

It is a puzzlement to me why some people continue to smoke when they are presented with certain proof that the practice can kill you.  Why would anyone risk his/her life like that?  On the other hand, I continue to eat foods with more than a little cholesterol even though my doctor told me my cholesterol is too high.  To top it off, my brother had quadruple bypass surgery probably due to the same cholesterol issues.  Of course, he ate far more junk than I do.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Does anyone think the AIDS epidemic is over?  It may have slowed but it is still here.  Three possible cures does not mean a thing in the short-term.

Who discovered that the best way to check your prostate health is to stick his figure up your bum?  The only other people who do that for money are in a completely different profession.

Gardening is the best way to take your mind off of every day stress.  You can so focus in on playing in the dirt, that you forget about everything else.  That reminds me of my childhood actually.

The city of Chicago has over 22,000 surveillance cameras.  Who says Big Brother is not watching?  Of course that does not stop the jackass that has to tag a garage door or the side of a preschool building in my neighborhood.

Does anyone wonder if the Chicago Park District knows anything about dandelion control outside of the downtown area?

Why do so many young people think it is a good idea to “come out” in a You Tube video?  Even more surprising, why do some think they should tell their parents over the phone on a You Tube video and post it later, no matter how it turns out?

Are we about to see a lot of athletes coming out of the closet?  Does it make a difference?  Really?  “Sir” Charles Barkly, an NBA Hall of Famer, says “of course” he had gay teammates.

Some say that 1 in 10 people are gay, but I do not think 10 per cent of the people I know are gay.  Or are they? mmmm?

Why do we salivate like dogs when we hear the ice cream truck coming?

Do all moms really know that when a younger brother tells on an older one that it is probably the younger one who was the trouble maker?

If I have an album on vinyl and cassette tape, should I still get it on CD?  If I do, will I still need to download a copy someday, or will my Google eyeglasses just play the song for me because I am thinking about it?

Why would anyone consider 8-tracks and 8 track players a collector’s item?

Why would anyone consider a Commodore 64 a collector’s item?  (Google it!)

If you have finally decided that something is junk, even though it still works, there is probably someone on eBay who will buy it.

It is an absolute sin that there are places in the world we can never visit because of fighting and hatred.

I am saddened over the desperate situation of people in Gaza, Syria, Somalia and a handful of other countries we hear little about.

Why are human rights abuses in some parts of the world of little concern to people in other parts of the world?

Does anyone think the Chinese government is not behind a lot of cyberspying and perhaps even web site crashes?  A show of hands please.

Casablanca is the best movie ever made.  Period.

Citizen Kane is an interesting movie, but does anyone (except a few critics) think it is the best movie ever made?  A show of hands please.

Laurence Olivier may have been the best actor of his time (look him up), but Johnny Depp is the best actor of his time.

I like Spencer Tracy in everything and doubt he ever gave a bad performance.

Iconic performers the Beach Boys, The Monkees (minus Davey Jones), Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand all delivered the goods in concerts this past year.  Bob Dylan did not.

Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson are the best late night talk show hosts.  Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman are also worth watching most nights.

Will FOX News ever be anything more than biased and imbalanced?

Aren’t Justin Bieber’s 15 minutes of fame over with?  There are sooooo many You Tubers with more talent.

An original album by Sam Tsui and produced by his friend Kurt Schneider has just come out and was backed by their fans by way of Kickstarter.  If you do not know these guys, immediately go to You Tube and search their names.  They both do great work.

We are on the doorsteps of amazing break throughs in medical science in a number of important areas.  Your support is needed while the government tries to get its financial house in order, if that is even possible.

With friends in other countries, I appreciate the value of social media and of Skype.

I had no idea I could toss in so many random thoughts in a short amount of time.  These are a few items on my mind for which there are no complete columns, at least not yet anyway.

All over the map

Y from the Yahoo logo

Y from the Yahoo logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I write a weekly blog,” I proclaimed informatively while some sport events played on the televisions around us.
“Really?” my friend questioned.  “What kind of blog?”
“What kind?”
“Yeah, what kind is it?”
I stared back with a rather blank look, I guess.
My friend continued with determination to extract some further information, “What is your theme?”
“Oh!” I said as if I finally understood. “The theme is Twenty ten. It is a typical lay out and you can change the header anytime and add all kinds of cool stuff down the side.”
“No, not the theme. What is your subject? What do you write about? What are your topics?”
The light bulb finally went on, but I did not have a good answer for him. “I write about anything, or everything.  It depends.”
“It depends? What do you me it depends? You have to have a certain type of blog. Do you write about politics? Music? Religion? Sports?” As I did not provide an immediate answer, my friend added, “Something else?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “I write about all those things.”
“WHAT!? You can not do that.”
“Why not?”
“No one will ever read a blog like that. You have to find your niche and write for them.”
“Isn’t that a bit like preaching to the choir?” I asked.
“Exactly,” my friend said without a millisecond of pause.
“Well, what is the point of that? The choir probably has heard the sermon already. I want to write about the things that interest me each week.”
“No, no, no,” my friend blurted out, almost shouting so I would be convinced. “You have to have a goal for your blog, a higher purpose!”
“I do have a goal,” I insisted. “I wish to finish each week before Sunday night, hence…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said while cutting me off. “Hence, Sunday Night Blog.”
“That’s it,” I said proudly. “I even finished on time for the two Sundays I was out of the country.”
“That doesn’t count,” he reminded me. “You wrote those before you left.”
“True.”
“Look, you want to have readers, don’t you?”
“Of course.”
“Then you must have a permanent category,” he instructed. “How about music?”
“I don’t go to enough concerts and I do not hear enough new music.”
“What do you listen to in your car?”
“I sing along to the oldies,” I replied with a smirk.
“Oh my god,” he declared rather slowly to add emphasis. “Remind me never to ride with you.”
“Why not?” I laughed.
“Moving on,” he stated in a manner indicating his resolve. “What about entertainment in general?”
“No, I don’t get much entertainment, unless you count your facebook status. They really ought to get spellcheck for that.”
My friend either did not get it or pretended not to, so as not to get sidetracked from his mission to find me a purpose. “What about food?”
“Hot dogs?”
“Nevermind. How about the economy?”
“Too depressing,” I replied.
“Politics?”
“No, everyone will be sick of it by election day.”
“Religion?”
“No, the choir has already heard me sing.”
“Sports?”
“No, everyone I know is into fantasy leagues, not real sports. That’s like reality television, only with beer and chicken wings.”
“Well, how about the media?”
“I could review other blogs.”
“Absolutely not,” he shouted, “you will lose the one or two readers you might have now.”
“I must have more than that,” I insisted. “We can look at the dashboard and find out.”
“Don’t do it. You will be too depressed if you do not find any readers.”
“That’s true.”
“You can not go on like this, however. If you want readers you need a regular topic. You must load up you your articles with the right keywords so they will be picked up by the top search engines. You must choose your categories wisely and add lots of tags. Blast out notices on facebook and twitter, maybe Stumble Upon, Tumblr, Reddit and Pinterest, maybe Google+ and Yahoo.
“They still have Yahoo?” I said innocently.
“You simply can not be all over the map!” He was finally finished with trying to help me be an internet author. Besides, it was time to get another round and more popcorn.
“But I like being all over the map,” I said rather meekly. “It has provided me with the greatest adventures. My best travel companion and I have always started off with a general destination, but no specifics that stop us from going all over the map. We have the best trips ever.”
My friend glanced back at me with a rather incredulous look.
“Honest! I wished I had lost my sense of direction long ago. It really has helped me find my way.”
My friend just shook his head and grabbed another handful of popcorn.

You Tube “hits” and other updates

In the past week my You Tube channel got over 1200 hits (views). This is somewhat surprising as I only have 1 subscriber (a friend), so no fan base to draw on. It is all on the strength of the Barry Manilow videos I posted. On July 12th I attended the first night of three concerts for Manilow at the Chicago Theater. It is a wonderful place to see a show, big enough for big names but small enough to be somewhat “intimate.” That might be a bit of overstatement for a theater that seats thousands, but everywhere is a good view and the sound is great. After the popularity of the first few videos, I put up all the usable recordings that I had. While the channel has been there over 7 months, the number of views more than double in the past week.
It was never my intention to have an “oldies” channel, but that is what it has turned into and I am OK with that. I thought it would be current groups I like. There are some Maroon 5 videos from a few venues sandwiched in between Chicago and the Beach Boys. I also have a song from a Led Zeppelin tribute band. People are now pointing out to me other old-time rockers coming to the Chicago Theater. I am not sure what is next.

It was hard to decide what is next for the Sunday Night Blog. The appearance of the “Fed” chairman, Ben Bernanke, at Congress and his stern warning on what will happen if they fail to take action on the end of tax cuts and the automatic budget cuts that take place if no agreement, seemed a good follow up to last’s week’s comments. Franklin Roosevelt once commented that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. It looks like we also have to fear Congress.

Both last week and this week I have thought about writing on the death of the middle class. Yes the patient is on life support and it looks like Congress will pull the plug. It seems the wealthy class in Congress fails to understand how the success of the middle class drives the economy and therefore helps to make many of them wealthy. Perhaps we will hit this topic soon.

Sunday night we’ll look at the unfortunate trend to wage campaigns in the social media and the resulting misinformation we receive. I fear too many people get their “news” from their friends’ errant postings.