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September 29, 2017

Michael Southern: Triumphs and Tragedy

In May 1981, I had earned my undergraduate degree magna cum laude from New York University, with a triple major in politics, economics, and history (with honors). To say I was stoked to have been accepted to the NYU doctoral program in politics, where I would go on in 1983, to earn a master's degree in political theory, and in 1988, a Ph.D. with distinction in political theory, philosophy, and methodology, is an understatement. I was positively ecstatic.

I had, by this time, laid out a path of professional goals that merged my passionate libertarian political convictions with a rigorous course of study that would include seminars and colloquia with scholars that only New York University could offer. I would study with such Austrian-school economists as Israel Kirzner, Mario Rizzo, Don Lavoie, and others, as well as leftist political and social theorists such as Bertell Ollman and Wolf Heydebrand. In this combustible intersection of ideas, there would emerge the seeds of what would become a life-long commitment to the development of a "dialectical libertarianism", and a trilogy of books---Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism---that would articulate the foundations of that approach.

Alas, these scholarly goals were made all the more joyful to achieve because of so many individuals whose lives touched mine in ways that were fundamental both to my intellectual and personal growth as a human being.

One of these individuals was a guy named Michael Southern. It was September 1981, my first day as an NYU graduate student, when I walked into Professor Israel Kirzner's seminar on the "History of Economic Thought." Looking around the room, few seats were available, so I found myself sitting next to Michael. When Kirzner finished his first lecture, logically structured as one would expect from any esteemed student of the great Ludwig von Mises, I introduced myself to Michael. He seemed a little shy at first, but I think he was genuinely surprised by my friendliness and that unmistakable Brooklyn accent. We went to a local cafe and talked for a very long time. I got to know a lot about him in that first encounter.

I learned, for example, that he was two years older than me, almost to the day: I was born on February 17, 1960; he was born on February 23, 1958. I also learned that he hailed from Massachusetts, and was a rabid Boston Red Sox fan. Back then, that was almost a non-starter for me.

After all, I was and remain a New York Yankees fanatic. We jousted and dueled over the Curse of the Bambino, and argued about who really deserved the American League MVP for the 1978 baseball season: the Red Sox hot-hitting outfielder Jim Rice or the Yankee pitching ace, and Cy Young Award winner, Ron Guidry, who went 25-3, with a 1.74 ERA. In 1978, the Yankees were 14 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in July, and on the last day of the season, they found themselves in a tie for first place. And, I argued, no man was more valuable to that team than Guidry, who had pitched back-to-back two-hit shutouts against Boston down the stretch, and won the deciding extra 163rd game of the season, enabling the Yanks to advance to the AL Championship series against the Kansas City Royals, and ultimately to win their second straight World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Michael was going on and on about Rice's hitting. Blah, blah, blah.

In any event, it wasn't Guidry's victory that was the most memorable aspect of that deciding game; it was a miraculous 3-run homer hit over Fenway Park's Green Monster by the Yankee shortstop Bucky "F*&%ing" Dent, as Michael put it, who had hit a measly four homers prior to this game throughout the entire season. But that homer lifted the Yanks ahead for good. I guess Michael was still a little bitter. For Dent, apparently, was as beloved by Boston fans as Bill "F*&%ing" Buckner, whose fielding error in Game Six of the 1986 World Series, ultimately allowed the New York Mets to win the trophy in Game Seven. Even this diehard Yankees fan reveled in Boston's loss that year! Oh was it fun locking horns with Michael on these issues.

Animated baseball disagreements aside, it was clear that Michael and I had a lot in common; we were both avid fans of Ayn Rand, devoted readers of Nathaniel Branden, extremely interested in politics and culture, lovers of film and of music from jazz to progressive rock. All he had to say was that he had seen my favorite jazz pianist Bill Evans perform live, and that he had fallen in love with the emotional depth of his music, and I just knew that there was something very special about this man.

Over time, our friendship deepened; he'd tell me about some trouble he was having with a girl he was dating, I'd tell him about my own dating woes; we talked about our families, our friends, our goals, our triumphs, and our tragedies. He had extraordinary qualities about him; he was perceptive, intelligent, gentle, kind, compassionate, and had a great sense of humor.

By holiday time in December, that sense of humor manifested itself on both sides of the baseball divide. Michael gifted me a Jim Rice T-shirt, which I own till this day, and I gifted him a Ron Guidry T-shirt. Such was the nature of our developing affection for one another.

He had taken a waiter's job at the Cheese Cellar on East 54th Street in Manhattan, which became a regular stop for me and my family. The waiter's service was terrific, I might add. As he got to know my jazz guitarist brother Carl and jazz vocalist sister-in-law Joanne, and saw them perform at so many jazz clubs in Manhattan, loving their music, he eventually offered to do a website for them (as he would eventually develop my own website---all for free).

But something was troubling him deeply, early in that first semester, as the class with Kirzner continued. I'm paraphrasing the conversation from memory, but it went something like this. He said to me: "I can see you coming from blocks away. You just have a way about you. It's in your walk. Your step. It's never timid, but it's not overbearing. It's just the walk of a man comfortable in his own body, walking purposefully to his destination, wherever that might be. The way you walk is a bit of an inspiration to me. I just don't walk that way. I don't feel that way inside."

My walk? Lord . . . I'd never even given a second thought to the way I walked. And here, my friend was telling me that there was something in my walk that inspired him, and that made him focus on the things that he felt he lacked. He had attended weekend Intensives in New York run by Nathaniel Branden and his wife Devers Branden, and felt that they had tapped into something that needed greater attention.

I was no professional, but I was becoming a very dear and trusted friend. I tried to help him through it, with long phone conversations into the wee hours, but he seemed stuck, unable to get through a term paper for Kirzner's class. It was then that he made a momentous decision that I figured spelled the end of a friendship; he decided he was too overwhelmed by the course, that something deeper was at work, and that he needed help. As he put it later in "My Years with Nathaniel Branden," a deeply personal essay written for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposium, "Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy":

For the third time, I'd finished reading The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Breaking Free, and The Disowned Self, all books by Nathaniel Branden. I placed my meager belongings in a backpack, went to the Registrar's Office at New York University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, officially withdrew from Graduate School, booked a flight, and in two days landed at Los Angeles International airport; I had come to be a client of Nathaniel Branden.
Prior to my time at NYU, I had finished an undergraduate degree with honors. I was thrilled when I got accepted to NYU, to study the history of economic thought under Israel Kirzner, who had been a student of Ludwig von MisesĀ­---both being giants in the field to me. And as it all nicely fell into place, I froze.
I don't ever remember this happening to me before. While Kirzner's class was better than even I had anticipated, I couldn't write the paper for the course. I sat at home, or at the library with ten and twelve books piled up in front of me, but I couldn't begin. Anything I thought about writing seemed trivial after a little research. I began to panic so that the more I tried to push myself, the greater the feeling that whatever I produced wouldn't be enough. I tried everything I knew to get myself "back on track." I believed I had something to offer, but I was paralyzed, much like an actor might experience stage fright. I spoke with Kirzner, and he was kind and logical and gave me some suggestions, but I was too in awe of him to show just how lost I was in terms of generating a paper. It seemed an emotional block, not an intellectual one; how could I ask for his help for an emotional problem? I understood the coursework, and the books on his reading list. I just couldn't seem to create.
...
Sitting in an outdoor cafe in the Village I reached in my backpack for The Disowned Self. I ordered coffee, threw the waiter a gigantic tip so he'd leave me alone, lit a cigarette (you could do that back then), and read the entire book, slowly, making notes; the lights and noise of the West Village turned on around me as night fell.
The next day I headed for Los Angeles, wanting to resolve, heal, and grow. I was beginning to suspect that I had had a particularly difficult childhood, and had responded to it by shutting down huge parts of myself.

To my surprise, Michael and I never lost touch. He was in therapy with Nathaniel Branden, and making strides. Every so often, we'd speak, not so much about the details of his therapy, but more about how he was challenging himself to keep moving . . . forward. Sometimes a month would pass, or two, and he'd call, and it was as if the last conversation had occurred only an hour ago; we picked up where we left off, never missing a beat. And during this period, as I faced my own trials and tribulations---with everything from relationships to my health problems (an outgrowth of a congenital intestinal condition)---he was as present and tuned-in to me, as I was to him. This was never a one-way street; the friendship that I thought would be lost by distance, had intensified. And the feeling that he was a "brotha from another mutha" only deepened. It was clear that we loved one another as only brothers could---something that geographic distance did nothing to alter.

As Michael explained in that wonderful essay of his, he was able to work through so many of his problems; he credited Nathaniel Branden and Devers Branden with saving years of his life. He would become an intern for Branden and then an office manager at Branden's Biocentric Institute in Beverly Hills, California. He'd go back to school to earn a master of science in management from Lesley College and a master of science in information systems from Boston University. As a technology specialist, he did wonderful work for Fortune 500 companies.

Through all the years, our friendship only grew. He would go on to develop my website, and the original website of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. In fact, he was a member of the JARS family from its beginnings in 1999, as we unveiled the website on the day that our first issue was published. While I remained with NYU as a Visiting Scholar for twenty years (I guess you could say I bleed "violet"), he would travel the world. He was never so far away, however, that he didn't participate once or twice in my cyberseminars on "Dialectics and Liberty." Eventually he married, and even moved back to New York City for a while, living in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

There were bumps along the way---though never between us. His marriage didn't work out, his work took him out of New York again, and his interests, especially in the history of the Holocaust, took him to other countries. But again, geographic distance never seemed to interfere with our friendship. Eventually, he came back to the states, and his software expertise gave him many job opportunities, including business with a company in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked for several years.

Indeed, his software expertise was certainly highly valued by JARS; the two of us worked hard in 2015-2016 as he created a brand spanking-new website for the journal, which made its debut with the Nathaniel Branden symposium, to which he contributed that enormously revealing and enlightening essay.

In many ways, writing that essay was, for Michael, a catharsis of sorts; while it served the greater symposium's purpose of understanding the work and legacy of Branden, it also served as a profoundly personal statement of how Michael stood up courageously to the challenges he faced. It was a commitment to a life of promise, of so much more to come.

Immediately after the debut of the new JARS site and the publication of our Branden symposium, Michael began working on a prototype to finally revamp my website, which, he said, "embarrassed" him because he'd become so much more sophisticated in his software development. We had so many plans for so many projects.

But, of course, life always seemed to get in the way of smooth transitions. As my own health problems became more difficult to bear, he spent as many hours on the phone with me in 2016, as I had spent on the phone with him in 1981, except that now, we both knew each other so well that we could complete each other's sentences, anticipate each other's thoughts. Thirty-five-plus years will do that.

We last spoke in early September about the website and a few other issues; Lord knows, we still had our differences with regard to sports teams (though I was enough of a good sport to congratulate him back in 2004, when his Red Sox finally beat the Yankees, and went on to win their first World Series since 1918). We even had developed a few political differences. But nothing ever affected our mutual love, admiration, and respect for one another. When I'd call him on the phone, he'd answer "Chris!"---as if with an exclamation point. There was always joy in his voice when he heard mine on the other end of the phone. And if I needed to cry because of a slew of unending medical or personal problems, the gentility with which he treated me was just the medicine I needed.

We last corresponded on September 11th. A few days passed by, and I hadn't heard back from him, so I wrote him again. Still, no reply.

I figured he was busy or traveling, but it was unlike him not to reply to an email. So on the weekend of September 23rd, I called him on both his personal and business lines and left voice mail. It was comforting to hear his voice, even if it was automated, telling callers to leave a message. So I left messages. And still, no reply.

On Tuesday, September 26th, I got an email from his cousin, who lived in Waco, Texas, where Michael had been staying. She told me to give her a call. My heart dropped. I knew that this meant something had happened to Michael; maybe he was in a hospital. Maybe something worse. I called her immediately.

She told me that Michael had been pursuing new business in Detroit, a city where he had once worked for so many years.

And then she told me that his body was found at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 19th; he had been killed by gunshots. Police are investigating the crime as a homicide.

I have suffered many losses in my life. I lost my father suddenly to a massive coronary, when I was 12 years old. I lost my Uncle Sam, who was like a second father to me, in 1994, to prostate cancer. I lost my mother in 1995, before my first two books were published, after five years of being one of her primary care-givers, as she struggled with the ravages of lung cancer and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I've lost many loving friends and relatives over the years, in circumstances that were painful and difficult.

But absolutely nothing could have possibly prepared me for the grief that I felt upon hearing that one of my best friends in the whole wide world had just lost his life by a wanton act of brutality. I had the phone in my hands, tears streaming down my face, stunned, shocked, horrified, feeling literally destroyed. My heart had not been broken; it had felt as if it had been completely shattered. I still can't quite wrap my mind around this event.

Michael's funeral is scheduled for Monday, October 2, 2017 in Waco, Texas. My health issues prevent me from attending his funeral. But my heart goes out to his family and friends, who so loved him, and who suffer with unimaginable grief.

I pray that justice will be done, and that the murderer will be apprehended.

But nothing will bring Michael back.

The December 2017 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be dedicated to Murray Franck (1946-2017), who died this past July, and to Michael Southern (1958-2017). Both of these men were part of the JARS family from the very beginning, and deserve to be so honored. But they were both among the dearest human beings and friends I've ever known. To have lost both of them within two months of one another is unbelievable. But to have lost Michael in such a violent manner is just beyond tragic. He didn't deserve this ending. The pain of this loss is almost unbearable.

Rest in peace, dear friend. You made such a difference in the lives of so many people. And you made a difference in my life. I will honor you and remember you for the rest of my days. And I will miss you until the day I die.

Postscript (October 2, 2017): I posted a link to this tribute to Facebook, and was comforted by how many folks have shared the post and shared their condolences with me, both publicly and privately; I added this to my own Facebook thread:

Thanks to everyone who shared my post and who have expressed their condolences to me, both privately and publicly, here and elsewhere. Anyone who was fortunate to know Michael was blessed by his presence in their lives. And I express my condolences to all of you for this loss.
Today is Michael's funeral in Waco, Texas. It's also a day that I awake to hear that this country has just experienced the worst mass shooting in its history, this time in Las Vegas, with over 50 people shot to death and over 200 injured. Not counting the folks I knew who were murdered on 9/11, I have never had the experience of having lost a loved one to a shooting. This morning, I send my empathy and condolences to those who are mourning the deaths of their own loved ones who have died in this massacre.
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Savagery and brutality have always been a part of the human condition; that is not a comforting thought, however. What is comforting is that there are still far more people in this world who care and who will not give into the fear of such carnage, even when it hits so close to home.

September 25, 2017

All Rise for The Judge

Since the 2017 season began, I have been watching the young Bronx Bombers (aka "the Baby Bombers") with great interest. In my playbook, with the era of the Core Four long gone, and a young group being nourished in the big leagues right before our eyes, I would have been satisfied with a season in which wins outweighed losses. But it now appears that the young Yanks are headed for at least a wild card playoff game, their first postseason appearance since 2015. That's more than any fan could have asked for.

I have taken special interest in Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge. The rookie had a great first half and then put on a majestic show for the All-Star Home Run Derby at Marlins Park, becoming the first rookie to win the competition outright (hitting a total of 47 HRs, including four that travelled over 500 feet, one of them measuring 513 feet). He cooled off a bit after the All-Star break, but showed great poise throughout that slump.

Slump no more. Whereas yesterday, many in the National Football League gave the President a knee to the groin, today, I rise for the Judge. Aaron hit two home runs against the Kansas City Royals in a Yankee 11-3 win. After hitting two home runs yesterday, Judge went deep for another two today, reaching a total, thus far, of 50 Home Runs for the season. His 50 home runs this season breaks the all-time Major League Baseball season record for a rookie, previously held by Mark McGwire (yes, he of the Steroid Era).

Whatever happens in the postseason, I think the Yankees have a lot of youthful potential for a wonderful future. Today, Judge joins an exclusive club of great Yankees who have had seasons of 50 or more home-runs. This list now includes only five Yankees, three of whom did it in the non-Steroid era: Babe Ruth (who did it four times); Mickey Mantle (who did it twice); and Roger Maris. (Alex Rodriguez hit 54 for the Bombers in 2007---but this was during the Steroid Era.)

I think Judge wins the American League Rookie of the Year hands-down. He has not only amassed 50 home runs, but is the first Yankee right-handed hitter to have at least 110 walks, 110 runs scored, and over 100 RBIs in a single season (Mantle held such records, but he was a miraculous switch-hitter). An argument can be made for Judge having Most Valuable Player credentials; but even if he does not get the American League MVP, he has certainly been this season's Yankee MVP.

Either way, congratulations to Aaron Judge. And... GO YANKEES!!!

September 22, 2017

Song of the Day #1515

Song of the Day: Disturbia, words and music by Brian Kennedy, Chris Brown, Robert Allen, and Andrew Merritt, is featured on Rihanna's 2008 album "Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded." This song went to #1 on four Billboard charts, including the Hot 100 and the Hot Dance Club Songs (almost 9 years ago to the day!). Check out the original video, the 12" remix, the Magnifikate Remix, the Daniel Brown remix, the Techno Remix, and finally, the DONK Remix, which makes the Techno Remix sound chill by comparison! Our Second Annual Summer Dance Series concludes today, since the season ends with the Autumnal Equinox at 4:02 p.m. But we ain't disturbia-ed... we're going out dancing!

September 21, 2017

Song of the Day #1514

Song of the Day: Make Me, words and music by Rodney Jerkins, Thomas Lumpkins, Michaela Shilo, Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers and Janet Jackson, was the 19th #1 Hot Dance Club single of Janet's career. The song appears on Janet's 2009 album, "Number Ones." Check out the video version (where Miss Jackson, if your Nasty, shows us she can still move and groove!). And her paean to her late brother Michael is clear; when she says "Don't stop til you get it up," she is, no doubt, tipping her hat to "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" [YouTube link]. Check out a few other remixes: the Moto Blanco Video Remix, DJ Dan Audio Remix, Dave Aude Club Mix, and Ralphi's Martini Mix. The Autumnal Equinox (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) doesn't arrive in NYC till 4:02 p.m. tomorrow, so expect one final song as our Second Annual Summer Dance Series concludes.

September 20, 2017

Song of the Day #1513

Song of the Day: Turn Up the Music has ten credited writers, but the one I'll focus on is the man who recorded this super dance single: Chris Brown. It appears on Brown's 2012 album, "Fortune." Check out the video single, the Roc Hound Club Mix, the Miami Life Remix. and the remix version with Rihanna (yes, Rihanna!).

September 19, 2017

Song of the Day #1512

Song of the Day: Fantastic Voyage features words and music credited to the 9-member band that recorded it: Lakeside. This was the title song to the band's 1980 SOLAR-label album. This #1 R&B dance track offers us some early hip hop touches steeped in a deep bass line. Indeed, it makes you want to "come along, pack your bags, get on up and jam y'all," as we take that "fantastic voyage . . . to the land of funk." Check out the original extended mix [YouTube link].

September 18, 2017

Song of the Day #1511

Song of the Day: Diggy [YouTube link with lyrics], by Spencer Ludwig, is featured on the "Target" commercial "Vibes" [YouTube link] focusing on "Leggie Moves." Having just watched the Emmy Awards, honoring excellence in television, I figured it would be nice to note some danceable music on TV commercials! Check out the full video version as well, in keeping with the Summer Dance Party theme that started way back in June. We're in the final few days of the season, and promise to go out dancing every day until summer ends!

September 17, 2017

Song of the Day #1510

Song of the Day: Feud ("Main Theme") [YouTube link], composed by Mac Quayle, is heard in the title sequence to one of the best of this past season's TV minseries (as is another one of my favorites: "The Night Of"), focusing on the "feud" between legendary actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, which reached its climax in the production of the classic horror-fest "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Susan Sarandon (as Bette) and Jessica Lange (as Joan) deliver fine performances, and both are nominated in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie. And Quayle has earned nominations for "Outstanding Original Dramatic Score" and for "Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music"; in fact, the opening credits have been nominated for "Outstanding Main Title Design," giving "Feud" a total of 18 Emmy Award Nominations. Check out the Emmy Awards tonight on CBS.

September 16, 2017

WFAN-AM: My 2 Minutes and 30 Seconds of Fame

So let me report on my 2 minutes and 30 seconds of chit-chat on New York Sports Radio WFAN-AM (660), where I called the knowledgeable and hilarious sports commentator, Steve Somers sometime around midnight. I was a first-time caller, and once I was screened, I was put in the queue, as I waited for Steve to announce "Chris from Brooklyn."

The reason for my call was because a few nights ago, I was listening to his broadcast, and a gentleman had called from the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn (the neighborhood one step removed from my Gravesend section of the county of Kings). Steve remembered that Bensonhurst was home to Lafayette High School, famous for its many sports alumni. They mentioned Dodgers pitching Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, the wonderful Mets reliever John Franco, and Mets owner Fred Wilpon (whom Steve affectionately calls "Fred Coupon" for his unwillingness to spend any money to improve the Mets organization). And then, the guy from Bensonhurst got stuck and said something about another Lafayette alumnus, named "Marv," who ran with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. And Somers wondered, because the guy couldn't be talking about sports announcer Marv Albert, who was born six years after those Olympic games, and was actually a graduate of another Brooklyn educational institution: Abraham Lincoln High School.

So I'm sitting home, and screaming at the radio: "Not Marv Albert"---it was that other voice of New York Knicks basketball (for 21 years), mentor to Albert, and famous also as the radio voice of the football New York Giants (for 23 years), among other sports: Marty Glickman. And Glickman was not a graduate of Lafayette High School, but of James Madison High School. I should know, because my Mom was in the same graduating class as Glickman, and she remembered what a great athlete he was.

So I called for two straight nights and couldn't get through; lo and behold, I got through after midnight today, and finally spoke to Steve on the air! It was a hoot. First I told him, very sincerely, that I thought he was the most entertaining guy in sports commentary, and that anyone who uses snippets from films like "The Ten Commandments" to make fun of sports moments was out of this world. He couldn't thank me enough.

So we finally turned to the nature of my call, and I reported the facts to him. I told him that the guy from Bensonhurst was actually referring to Marty Glickman; of course, Steve knew immediately about the Great Glickman, and we spoke a bit about the superb HBO documentary on his life. It was actually Glickman and fellow runner Sam Stoller, who were removed at the last minute from the track and field events at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. We recalled that the U.S. didn't want to embarrass or offend Adolf Hitler, the host of the games by having two Jewish American athletes on the Olympic field. Of course, Hitler ate dirt anyway, because one of the athletes who took the place of Glickman and Stoller was Owens, who went on to win the Gold Medal.

When I told Steve that my Mom had been a member of Glickman's senior class at Madison High, he mentioned "Ah! Six Degrees of Separation." He added that Brooklyn had given the world so many famous people, including Barbra Streisand from Erasmus Hall High School.

So my 2 minutes and 30 seconds were over, and knowing I was a first-time caller, he told me to call back anytime.

Now that was a lot of fun!

Song of the Day #1509

Song of the Day: Jealous features the words and music of Nolan Lambroza, Simon Wilcox, and Nick Jonas, who was born on this date in 1992. God, they're getting younger and younger in this survey of dance music, aren't they? The 25-year old scored a #1 Hot Dance Club Hit in January 2015 with this song. Check out the video, the version featuring Tinashe (along with the E-man and Ikon remix of it), a gospel rendition, the Anda Remix, the hot Rooftop Boys Remix, House Remix, Club Killers Deep House Mix, Ugo Remix, and the DYAGO remix.

September 15, 2017

Song of the Day #1508

Song of the Day: Look What You Made Me Do features the words and lyrics of Jack Antonoff, Fred Fairbass, Richard Fairbass, Rob Manzoli, and Taylor Swift, whose video of this song made its debut on the MTV Video Music Awards on August 27th. The lead single from Swift's forthcoming "Reputation" album is already #1 on the Hot 100. Check out the killer video [YouTube link] to this infectious song, which broke the all-time record for views within a 24-hour period. And then listen to a few remixes by Vylet, Vincy, and Tom Damage [YouTube links]. Even young Andrew Foy is fingerpickin' this one already [YouTube link]. And Look What Taylor Made Me Do: Expect a song a day right up until the last hours of summer!!!

September 11, 2017

WTC Remembrance: Sue Mayham - Not Business as Usual

At a time when so many are suffering the effects of Hurricane Irma, a force of nature, I return to my annual series, "Remembering the World Trade Center," on the anniversary of a time when so many suffered the effects of the force unleashed by human beings against other human beings.

My series returns this year to recording the recollections of those who lived through the nightmare that was September 11, 2001.

In previous years, my interviews have focused on those within the Twin Towers, and those who witnessed the horrific events of that day; those who were first responders and those who worked on the pile at Ground Zero. I have even featured various pictorials of the memorial, museum, and the new One World Trade Center that opened in late 2014.

This year, I interview Sue Mayham, who provides an entirely different perspective on the events of that day, and the days and weeks and months that followed. Sue is an example of a different kind of heroism: the kind of heroism that symbolizes the work of those who kept aspects of the real world running even when the global capital of finance and culture had taken a direct hit from those who sought its utter destruction.

And as I have done in previous years, I provide this index for those readers who would like easy access to the previous entries in this series:

2001: As It Happened . . .

2002: New York, New York

2003: Remembering the World Trade Center: A Tribute

2004: My Friend Ray

2005: Patrick Burke, Educator

2006: Cousin Scott

2007: Charlie: To Build and Rebuild

2008: Eddie Mecner, Firefighter

2009: Lenny: Losses and Loves

2010: Tim Drinan, Student

2011: Ten Years Later

2012: A Memorial for the Ages: A Pictorial

2013: My Friend Matthew: A 9/11 Baby of a Different Stripe

2014: A Museum for the Ages: A Pictorial

2015: A New One World Trade Center Rises From the Ashes: A Pictorial (This essay has been translated into Portuguese by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos.)

2016: Fifteen Years Ago: Through the Looking Glass of a Video Time Machine (This essay has been translated into Portuguese by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos.)

2017: Sue Mayham: Not Business as Usual

Never forget.

September 09, 2017

Song of the Day #1507

Song of the Day: No Frills Love, words and music by Arthur Baker, Gary Henry, and Tina B., was recorded by "Dreamgirls" Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday. The recording went to #1 on the Billboard Dance chart in 1986 and hit #1 again a decade later with the 1996 Anthem Mix [YouTube link]. Check out the original 12" remix, the Love to Infinity Mix, and even one that is dedicated to Channing Tatum [YouTube links].

September 08, 2017

Song of the Day #1506

Song of the Day: Places features the words and music of Greek DJ Xenia Ghali and singer-songwriter Raquel Castro, who recorded this song and hit the #1 position on the Billboard Dance Club chart on May 6, 2017. Check out the official video, the Extended Mix, and Lynn Wood 'We Love the '90s' Club Mix.

September 05, 2017

Song of the Day #1505

Song of the Day: The Fugitive ("Judgment Day, Part 2, Finale") [YouTube TV clip, Spoiler Alert!], composed by Dominic Frontiere, is the music that highlights the climax of the 120 episodes of one of the most iconic "TV Noir" shows in the history of the medium: "The Fugitive," which ended its four-season run on Tuesday, August 29, 1967, in front of over 78 million viewers. It was the largest audience to watch any show in TV history up to that date [YouTube, Leonard Goldberg interview]. But in the "Epilog" of that famed Quinn Martin production, narrator William Conrad tells us that it was "Tuesday, September 5th, the Day the Running Stopped" [YouTube TV clip]. And in those closing moments, the haunting theme of the show, composed by Pete Rugolo, re-emerges, as it must. Frontiere, who was a great fan of Rugolo from the days when he arranged and composed for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, got the chance to complete the score to the climactic finale. Cheers to a great series, its great score, and its unforgettable finale [YouTube link to the final two episodes in their entirety], which concluded, in narrative legend, fifty years ago, on this date.

September 04, 2017

Song of the Day #1504

Song of the Day: Crazy in Love features the words and music of Rich Harrison, Eugene Record, Shawn Carter (aka Jay Z), and Beyonce Knowles, who was born on this date in 1981. This was the lead single from Beyonce's 2003 debut solo album, "Dangerously in Love," and it is highlighted by a guest rap from the man she'd marry in 2008, Jay Z. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the peak of the Dance Club chart on September 13, 2003 due to a few stylish dance remixes. Check out the original video single, the Pat.No. 2K13 Mix, the Fare Soldi Remix, and the DJ Stylezz Mix, and for those who want to slow it up a bit, there's the "Fifty Shades of Grey" rendition (re-recorded in 2015 for the soundtrack to that hit film) [YouTube links]. Happy birthday, Queen Bee!

September 03, 2017

Song of the Day #1503

Song of the Day: Let Me Love You features the words and music of Andrew Watt, Ali Tamposi, Brian Lee, Louis Bell, and William Grigahcine, aka DJ Snake, on whose 2016 album, "Encore" this song appears. The song, written in C-minor, hit the Top 5 on five Billboard charts, while also breaking the Top 20 on two additional charts, including the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. It features vocalist Justin Bieber and can be heard in a plethora of mixes. Check out the official video and a video with Bieber and Selena Gomez, as well as the remix featuring Sean Paul and R. Kelly. And then the DJs Take Over the World with: the Marshmello Remix, Tom Westy Remix, R3hab Remix, Don Diablo Remix, Slander & B-Sides Remix, Danny Dove vs. Offset Remix, Audio/Zedd Remix, Murper Future House Remix, Faruk Sabanci Remix, Tom Budin Remix, Albert Yam C.B. Remix, JustinTechN9 Deep House Mix, DJ Kavesh Latin House Remix, and finally, the Andry J Future House Remix.

September 02, 2017

Song of the Day #1502

Song of the Day: Fine China, words and music by Eric Bellinger, Leon "Roccstar" Youngblood, Sevyn Streeter, and Chris Brown, whose throwback sound on this lead single from the album "X" is inspired by the likes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Sam Cooke. Check out the official video with its storyline, and then listen to the bluesy dance single, with its sensual sleaze beat, a version featuring the rapper, Common with its "Rock with You" and "Billie Jean" MJ samples), and the Chris Madem Disco Remix. For some, this is "Atlas Shrugged Day"; but it's also the birthday of someone I love very dearly... and you know who you are. Just like "fine china."

September 01, 2017

Song of the Day #1501

Song of the Day: I Specialize in Love words and music by Lotti Golden and Richard Scher, was an international dance hit by Sharon Brown. In 1982, it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Dance Club chart. Check out the classic 12" remix and a later "Dirty House" remix [YouTube links]. In 1995, the girl group Expose released a rendition of the song that hit the Top Ten of the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Check out the album version and the dance remix [YouTube links]. Today, we kick off an extended Labor Day Summer Dance weekend.