Housekeeping: Getting Better All The Time, But Not Fast Enough… And Why Did I Call This Blog “Have You Heard”?

Something I’ve learned through my various impact-trauma medical issues and now this bout of pneumonia is this: people will extend you 72 hours of slack for being seriously injured or ill. After that, you’d better be back up to speed, regardless of whether or not you’re coughing up thumbnail-sized pieces of bright-green slime in their presence and/or visibly bleeding through your clothing. The exception to this, on the less-tolerant side, was the now-deceased Dr. John Romano of Miami University, who assigned me one of the three B-grades I received at that august institution; although I had never gotten less than an “A” on any test, I’d missed three classes in a semester due to some horrifying superflu that required treatment back home, and that meant a “B” for me, regardless of my superior knowledge regarding Chaucer.

John Romano did not, as they say, mess around, nor did he permit any such thing to happen on his watch.

I miss him some days, though he has been dead for a decade.

My “sick time” is officially expired, even though they say I won’t breathe right until September and I believe ’em. Time for an eight-week cavalcade of adventures to include: music gigs in Charlotte, NC, London, KY and right here in Ohio; racing and/or instruction at Nelson Ledges, MSR Houston, and Summit Point; travel to Napa, CA and western Michigan; the PRS Experience Signature Club event in Maryland; a number of obligations to be named later.

I wrote my will yesterday — the old one was fairly out of date. There was something cathartic about it. Everybody who is getting something is also getting a note. I’m so pleased with the notes I almost hope I get in a really bad plane crash so others can appreciate them as well. All of my old (pre-1920) books are going to Miami University. I should send them a note imploring them to hold to the standards set by John Romano. No fucking chance of that. Every time I go back there the women are uglier and dumpier and the men are more feckless-looking and the university in general more closely resembles the artificial downtown neighborhood of Celebration, FL. I suppose that had I contributed a single penny to the Miami Fund this sad state of affairs could have been prevented. The Tri-Delts of today look like the Alpha Phis of 1989. The Sig Eps look like Sigma Nus. I should cut my hair and rush Beta Theta Pi this fall. I think I’d have a chance. “He’s no fatter than the other pledges,” they’d say in the meetings, “and he can do eighteen shots without falling over.”

In any event, if I die in some sort of heart attack or stroke brought about by indignant and probably completely incorrect blabbering about my alma mater, you, the reader, might receive a thoughtful selection from my voluminous catalog of personal items, along with a thoughful note. Something to look forward to on those long winter nights.

This blog is called “Have You Heard” after my favorite song of all time. It appeared on Pat Metheny’s Letter From Home album in 1989. It’s the lead track. I bought the CD my second weekend as a freshman at Miami. It’s probably the song I’ve listened to most in my life. Some years ago I reconnected with a woman I’d dated at school and when the the time was approximately right she reached over to her CD player and cued it up. That’s the very definition of thoughful and I’m a little weepy-eyed just thinking of it. Not that everything didn’t turn into a giant flaming jumbo jet crash shortly afterwards, because it did. I’m still dreading the day her not-so-bright husband learns to read an Ohio map.

Where was I? Oh yes. “Have You Heard”. The video on the top of this post is an accordion-centric cover of the tune. Isn’t that great? Music always has the power to surprise and cheer and uplift. Or you can sit there and listen to Corinne Bailey Rae until you’re ready to skin someone’s face off with a Dremel tool. Not that I would ever do that. I had to let Chris O’Dee borrow my Dremel so he could finish the MelodyBird prototype. So there won’t be any Dremeling, spiteful or not, until he returns it.

Said MB prototype, by the way, is receiving rave reviews from its new owner and his friends in Toronto. The Birds are time-intensive to build but they are extremely satisfying.

Let’s close this rant with a link to the proper original version of “Have You Heard”. It has the power to put me in my dorm room at 108 Dodds Hall, stretched out across my bottom bunk with the Denon DCD-620 fired up, the Sennheisers clamped to my head, and Herman Melville’s ocean across the pages in front of me. Or in a bedroom in a Cincinnati suburb, watching someone I loved for a long time wiggle out of a lace teddy. Or a thousand other places. Some good, some bad, very few of them available to me again.

4 Replies to “Housekeeping: Getting Better All The Time, But Not Fast Enough… And Why Did I Call This Blog “Have You Heard”?”

  1. AvatarDomestic Hearse

    Epic choice. The unison lead line covered by the three voices of flute, guitar and singer becomes tonally complex, overtones everywhere. Fitting, as your life theme song. The melody a narrative thread. Memories building chords.

    For me, Last Train Home. Melancholy infused with hope. Hit me where I lived when Still Life (Talking) first came out. Not even selling it to Publix for a holiday commercial could ruin the song for me. Instead, I hope some people were exposed to Metheny and took the time to look him up, buy his music.

    Nobody (except Coltrane, perhaps) can sustain a phrase as long and infuse it with so many ideas — the musical equivalent of a James Joyce sentence.

    Reply
  2. AvatarDave

    Great article. I’m a fellow Miamian who also had the good Dr. Romano for two semesters of English. We became friends (I was older, having been in the USMC for 6 years) and dined almost every Tuesday with the family. He introduced me to opera (he was the Opera critic at WAMU) and his teaching was wonderful and hilarious (and as you point out, unforgiving on many fronts).

    Thanks for this. Great memories. Anyone who sat in front of those mutton chops must miss him.

    Reply

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