LIVING IN TWO PLACES

If you could choose only two places to live, would one of them be away from winter weather? Perhaps you would avoid the blizzards of winter.

SERENDIPITY

A Tale of Two Cities, by Rich Paschall

Recently The Daily Prompt asked this question: “If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?”  Normally I am not a Daily Prompt kind of guy.  I am on the subscriber list, but usually by the time I read the email notice, it is a day or two later and I just delete.  This one sounded rather intriguing, so I stashed it away for later use.

St Petersburg bridgeIf you have been visiting this space regularly, you may have noticed that Marilyn responded to the question when is was posted over a week ago.  If you read SERENDIPITY, her choices would not have been a surprise to you.  If you missed it, you can run right over there now and read her response.  You will find it here.  Don’t forget to come back!

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Christkindlmarket Chicago

A Holiday Photo Gallery

The Christkindlmarket in Chicago is a relatively new tradition. Many Chicagoans might actually claim it has been here for a long time because it is such a big part of our holiday festivities.  Based on the market in Nuremberg, Germany which began in 1545, and in partnership with that city, the first Christkindlmarket in Chicago was held on Pioneer court in 1996.  It was an immediate success and the following year the city invited the event to move to the somewhat larger Daley Plaza.

Today the event not only fills the downtown plaza, home of many civic events, it also makes its way down Dearborn alongside the building.  Vendors come from all over Germany to participate along with a few select vendors from Chicago, France and other locales.

Click on a picture and go through the gallery to see larger versions of above.  These pictures are from the recent past.  This year the event was a little whiter and a lot colder.

Pride

When I posted the following three years ago, I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.  Also note, at the time of this writing Benedict XVI was Pope. 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.
The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the current pope was elected (at the time of this original article), old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.
Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility (the current year’s awesome revival thrills lifelong fans). The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.
With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

Note: Comments in italics were added to the original article for purpose of updating.

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?

NO H8 Campaign Comes To Chicago

No H8_mediumThe NO H8 campaign returns to Chicago this afternoon so I thought it was a good time to rerun this article and photo gallery from 2014.  My photo from this stop is on the right. 

Spreading the message of equality

Perhaps you have seen some of the famous pictures captured by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska.  The ones where the subject has duct tape on his or her mouth and “NO H8” stenciled on the person, usually the face. While many celebrities and politicians, including a large number from the House Democratic Caucus, have had their pictures taken by the campaign, it is the many thousands of others who make the campaign a success.

The NO H8 (No hate) campaign was started in response to California’s Proposition 8, or as some called it, Prop H8.  The photo campaign of silent protest was started by photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley.  The duct tape over the mouth is a symbol of voices being silenced by legislation like Proposition 8 and the No H8 stencil is the message that is being spread anyway.  The pictures struck a chord with supporters and eventually the movement spread across the country and finally it has gone international.

When the campaign came to Chicago in 2012, the second visit to the Windy City, I went to the photo shoot and posted a small gallery here.  The following year I noted the campaign had gone international.  Now the campaign has returned for another photo shoot.  Almost 300 people came to have Adam take their picture as Jeff prepared the participants for their moment in front of the camera.  Adam took many shots of each person and later will decide with picture to add to the growing No H8 gallery.  Following is from last Sunday’s gathering in downtown Chicago.

Click on a picture for a larger version, then go through the gallery.

The video shows the moments just before many of the photos above were taken as well other moments.

Walk Out On The Ledge

Let go of toxic memories

English: Glass balcony at the skydeck of the W...

English: Glass balcony at the skydeck of the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of things we hold onto as we get older.  Memories are certainly top among them.  We cherish certain ones and tell those stories over and over.  Grandchildren learn to tolerate them while their parents and grandparents take great delight in tales of yore.  We may hold on to certain pictures and mementoes solely because of the happy memories they conjure up.  A coffee cup from Nashville, coasters from the Black Hills, shot glasses from Texas, wine glasses from Germany, videos from France and pictures from the glass ledge at the Willis Tower in Chicago may all be things whose value is far greater than the money it cost to acquire them.  So we display them with pride and keep them around us for years and years.  Long after we can partake of such adventures, these items will jog our memories and warm our souls.  There is no reason to let go of them, even if they get crowded out by newer items.

Some hold onto bad memories as well, but the toxic ones must be let go or they will poison your life.  Perhaps you know someone who continues to stew in the hot juices of bad times.  They may do so openly so that everyone gets tired of the sad tales.  They may internalize these bad memories and let them eat them up from the inside out.  How can you let go of such things that hurt so much?  How will you ever rid yourself of past times when the thoughts are so painful you can barely speak of them?  For those wallowing in evil past, it may seem an impossible task, or at least not as simple as I will now make them sound.

Let go!  That’s it, just let go.  Starting that process is tough, but oh so rewarding once complete.  You do not need to tell the world, but you may need to tell someone.  In 12 step programs they will tell you to admit to yourself and to another that you are powerless over this problem (addiction, memory, whatever).  This is an important step, because the sooner you realize you can not change the past, the easier it will be to leave it behind.  If you have seen portrayals of 12 step groups, you may have seen people start out by announcing who they are and what they are powerless over.  Once you have said it, there is no more worry about the bad news getting out.  It is out there and you can begin the process of walking away.

Some say, “Let go and let God” (higher power, fate, whatever).  Leave whatever it is that bothers you in the hands of something higher or greater, because you can not change it anyway.  If you are guided by what is good in your life, you can leave the past at the side of the road and travel on.  In the Catholic Church, they taught us to ask forgiveness of God for what troubles us.  The part about telling another, even somewhat anonymously in a dark confessional booth, may have grown to be an archaic practice for many of the faithful.  Nevertheless, that part about telling yourself and telling another can be an important step in leaving the past sins, or whatever troubles you, behind.  Indeed, some people with bad memories spend fortunes on psychiatrists so they can try to figure out how to say out loud what is troubling them inside.  I will not pull a Tom Cruise on you and tell you there is no need for psychiatry, but I will tell you that steps forward are up to you.

A while back I posted a little about my past and it made brief mention of some things that even close friends and family would not know.  The bad parts needed release and that may have been part of my purpose.  I stated even before then that I was intrigued by a book of letters by writers to their younger selves.  I did not know what would come out when I sat down at my desktop to write to the 14-year-old me, but was not too surprised at the most solid of my memories.  I can understand as a result of the exercise how some traumatic moments can control you for decades into the future.

After you let go, it is time to fill in the empty spaces with the good memories.  Toss what reminds you of bad times and let your pictures, videos and various souvenirs be only those of good times.  Go out and make new memories to fill up your mind.  If there is a lot of happy times bouncing around in side your cranium, there will be little time to dwell on what should have been purged long ago.

Let go of toxic people too!  Recently a friend posted on facebook a comment that it was easier to get a toxic person out of your life than out of your thoughts.  I replied that with enough good friends, the bad ones can be sent to the corners of your memory banks.  He reminded me that it is harder to do with family.  Yes, I know that well but if you have to trigger someone from your life, it is best to do so and stop taking the crap.  Once you have moved forward, absolutely, positively do NOT do so with regrets.  Do not wonder what could have been done with all the time that was wasted on someone, or worse, all the money.  That just brings it back to the top of the page.  For gosh sake, let go!

Autumn

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.

ALL-AMERICAN BOY – RICH PASCHALL

Steve Grand has been invited to perform at many Pride events this year. The All-American boy has even gone overseas to Latvia and Lithuania to perform.

SERENDIPITY

Steve Grand music, Rich Paschall

What do you think of when someone uses the term “All-American Boy?”  You may immediately think of someone who is quite handsome.  He may be “clean-cut” and “wholesome” looking, that is to say he is neat and well dressed.  Your image may include someone who is athletic.  He may have a body that is “buffed-up.”  It may be a young man with a glowing smile and pleasant personality.  An All-American boy can be a variety of handsome and talented things to the person thinking on this term.

Steve Grand is all of these things.  In addition, he is an excellent singer, songwriter, musician.  His musical talent alone is enough to impress, but when combined with his good looks, he definitely comes across as the quintessential All-American boy.  His image as a performer both supports this and makes it unique at the same time.

All-American Boy All-American Boy

Steve…

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Pride

Recently I saw a post on my facebook newsfeed questioning the need for a Pride Parade and Pride events in general.  Someone responded that if your group was suppressed or discriminated against for a long time, you might feel the need to speak out and express your pride in who you are.  It was an important response to the issue, but I see it as more than that.  It is also based in the need that people have to feel important, significant, meaningful.  We all look for purpose in life and we all want to be proud of who we are.

When I posted the following three years ago I purposely chose Gay Pride week in Chicago.  I also purposely did not mention “gay” anywhere.  I would rather let everyone decide which part of themselves they were most proud of being, and hope they could see everyone wants to have pride.  Also, to be proud of one thing in your life is not license to hate all of the other groups in your community.  Diversity is our strength, not our weakness.   

Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud. One of the neighborhoods where I grew up was very Irish American. Indeed our parish was run by an Irish American bishop and there were always priests of Irish descent there. The Irish friends and families we knew seemed to enjoy life so much and were so proud of their heritage, it almost made you wish you were Irish too. Of course on St. Patrick’s Day just about everyone wishes they were Irish, if just for the day.

The next parish included the high school where I graduated. This fit our background a little better, I suppose. My grandmother could sometimes be seen talking in German to neighbors. The neighborhood was and still is very German American. As we grew older we attended festivals and parties where we could enjoy our heritage. You could feel great pride in the traditions that remained from generation to generation. When the Benedict XVI was elected, old timers from the neighborhood began to just show up at church. Interestingly, the parish is St. Benedict. The pastor later told us that there was great pride in the election of the first German pope. People who came to church rather spontaneously expected something appropriate should be done, like say mass perhaps. They actually had not said mass in German for many years, but it seemed to be what would bring a great sense of pride to parishioners.

Support for, and pride in, our local sports seems to be taught to us from elementary school and little league and on through our adult lives. Chicago Bulls fans have had a great resurgence in pride the last two seasons that they have not had since the Michael Jordan era. Blackhawk fans have seen great improvement in recent years and even a Stanley Cup championship. Baseball fans always remain loyal. Even Cub fans inexplicably remain loyal and proud despite their continued futility. The many sports media outlets show fans every day who are proud of their local heroes.

With all the things that make us feel proud in our lives and for all the things we wish we can find pride in, why should we wish to deny any group the opportunity to feel proud of their community? Honestly, there are many parades and celebrations in this city for which I have no desire to attend. Therefore, I skip them, of course. I would never dream of showing up to voice my displeasure at something they wish to celebrate. Why then do some feel the need to do this to others? Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself? Is it so hard for some to understand that everyone wants to feel like they belong, and they want to feel proud? I guess that is the point I started on, isn’t it?

For more thoughts on your own true colors as well as the song below visit Don’t Be Afraid To Let Them Show on SERENDIPITY blog.

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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