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Looking for the Light in a Very Dark Year

29 Dec

Charlottesville: “We replaced you.” (Photo credit: Casey Kilmartin)

So, let’s just get this out of the way: 2017 sucked.

As bad as 2016 was, 2017 was, in many ways, even worse.

We had a new President*, and he set the tone for the year. Trump used his bully pulpit to anger, frustrate, provoke, frighten, threaten, belittle, and mock ethnic groups, other world leaders, the press, and many others all year long in his tweets and unscripted remarks, and through his actions (or inaction). He undid as much of President Obama’s forward-thinking legacy as he could. And he displayed virtually no warmth, compassion, or leadership — just a lot of callous self-centeredness. As hard as you may have tried to avoid him, he — and the effect he had on everything — was inescapable.

There were events like those in Charlottesville, where newly emboldened hate groups took to the streets and a young resistance protester wound up dead. There were the shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and no action taken to prevent others in the future. There were deadly and destructive hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico that left many without power, food, or necessary, essential supplies — even now, months later. There were multiple terror attacks in London and elsewhere. And there were all those revelations of sexual harassment and assault by those in Hollywood, the television media, and Congress, among other places.

The political scene and cultural moment this year forced us to do a lot of soul searching. To reckon with parts of ourselves and the country’s wounded psyche we don’t like to deal with, and to confront racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and unsavory acts from people we know, like, trust, and admire. It wasn’t easy, and it was often exhausting.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we lost legends like Tom Petty and Mary Tyler Moore, among others. At the start of the year, two of my own friends passed away unexpectedly, and way too soon. Over the summer, Ari Schultz, the five-year-old son of two friends of mine, was taken from us. And other friends and colleagues lost family members, friends, and people close to them.

No, by any definition, 2017 was not a good year.

But now that we’ve covered all of that, can we move on? Continue reading

This Time Capsule Playlist Provides a Musical Reminder of All the Moments that Mattered in 2017

13 Dec

The Lone Bellow at the House of Blues in Boston, November 2017. (Photo credit: Martin Lieberman)

Every December, critics (both professional and amateur) like to share their lists of the year’s best music. And while that’s important, and much appreciated, it’s near impossible for music fans to agree on what’s “best.” Musical taste is too personal. Case in point: For every Taylor Swift fan out there (and I know there are a lot of them), there’s someone like me who can’t stand her. On the other hand, I have a soft spot for other artists who don’t often show up on top 10 lists of best music and don’t win many awards. John Mayer, for example.

Point is: We all listen to different things and like what we like. And that’s a great thing.

So, when the end of the year comes around, I choose a different angle on the music recap thing, and prefer to compile a sort of “time capsule” playlist that provides a soundtrack of my year. Continue reading

Thank You to Everyone and Everything That’s Made Me a Happy Person So Far This Year

30 Jun

View of Boston from Look Out rooftop bar at the Envoy Hotel

Photo credit: Martin Lieberman

I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, we’ve already come to the midpoint of 2017. Holy crap, did time fly.

Usually at the end of the year, I like to look back and take stock of all that happened, and celebrate the good times I had. This year, there’s been so much going on that I didn’t want to wait till December to do that. Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Me … and Here’s to What’s Next

7 Jun

Photo credit: Diapicard / Pixabay

I was watching CBS Sunday Morning the other day, just like I do every weekend, and there was a great segment about three Hollywood comedy legends: Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, and Norman Lear.

Towards the end of the interview, Lear and Reiner shared their perspectives on the secret to a long and happy life.

“I think there are two little words we don’t think enough about: ‘over’ and ‘next,’” Lear said. “When something is over, it’s over. We’re on to next. I mean, this is the moment.”

Then Reiner added: “If you have something to get up for, you’ll get up. You won’t die in the middle of the night if you have something in the morning you gotta do.”

These were good sentiments to hear a few days before my birthday — and not just because they helped inspire this blog post. Continue reading

The 2017 Happiness Project

3 Jan

HappinessSomething I’ve learned over the years is that happiness is not something you can seek or plan. You just have to allow yourself to feel it. To notice and appreciate the good things in life — no matter how small — that make you smile. Hopefully on a regular basis.

With so much negativity in the world, that can sometimes be hard. And this year, it may prove extra challenging.

So, to proactively prevent another sucky year like 2016 was, I want to do whatever I can to focus on my own happiness — and hopefully, in the process, share that happiness with others. Continue reading

Don’t Forget All the Good Times We Had in 2016

31 Dec

2016-videoMuch has been made about how sucky 2016 was. And for good reason: For the most part, it was a pretty bad year.

But dwelling only on the negative does a disservice to all the good times some of us had. Continue reading

After a Sucky 2016, I’m Ready to Work for a Better Year Ahead

30 Dec
Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash.com

Photo credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn/Unsplash.com

What a year for a new year, right?

At this point it’s become a cliché, but that’s because, for the most part, 2016 really did suck.

There was the long, contentious, ugly, controversial election, which further divided an already highly partisan country, raised serious questions about Russian interference, and may have set us on a direction to a nuclear arms race, high anxiety, and worse. Included in this was all the fake news, the ignorance of facts and reality, and the many, many ridiculous twists and turns that were often unbelievable.

There was all that death. It hurt time and again to lose legends and those some of us grew up with, from music icons like Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Sharon Jones, and Glen Frey; to TV and movie favorites like Florence Henderson, Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Alan Thicke; to history-makers like Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel, and John Glenn. Can’t forget Harambe, of course. Or Jim Delligatti, the creator of the Big Mac. And that’s not even counting friends who’ve lost family members and other loved ones. Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that at the end of December, we also lost Robert Leo Hulseman, the inventor of the Red Solo Cup. Continue reading