Epic Music Week

It may have been 27 years between shows, but it was well worth it. New Order was amazing in a sold-out show.
It may have been 27 years between shows, but it was well worth it. New Order was amazing in a sold-out show.

When I started this blog, I called it The Jerry Project for a reason. I identified myself as a reclamation project and as much as I have written about getting in shape, fitness is not all I had in mind. I thought, from time to time, I’d write about the other things I was doing to maintain (or regain in some cases) my emotional and mental well-being. For all of the things I have done, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve known, good and bad, I’m somewhat fairly well adjusted. I firmly believe that we are products of our environment, experiences and choices. Some things we choose, some things choose us. Some things resonate while others do not.

This is about two things that chose me.

I went through a brief period a few years ago when music wasn’t that important to me. I didn’t listen much. Then I discovered Pandora. I commute and now listen to SiriusXM in the car every day. Music is very important to me once again.

My father was a disc jockey in the late 1960s-early 1970s. I grew up on big band, jazz and Frank Sinatra. I didn’t care for much of it. I was a typical child and rebelled against almost everything my parents liked. It’s not like Dad didn’t introduce me to rock ‘n’ roll. I still enjoy quite a bit of that music – Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Association, Tommy James and the Shondells and more.

Much of my musical taste as a child was influenced by AM radio and Kasey Kasem’s American Top 40 (RIP Kasey). After listening to AT 40 every week with bated breath to learn the #1 song, only to be disappointed and tortured by Debby Boone’s version of You Light Up My Life for 10 weeks in 1977. I was only seven, but I knew I hated this song. Eventually, I longed for some sort of musical identity, a soundtrack, a genre or genres to call my own.

My neighborhood friends were a bit older than me and they liked a lot of rock I didn’t care for at the time. It was only later did I develop an appreciation for Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and the like. We didn’t have middle schools where I grew up. However, I was accepted at a new magnet school in my hometown. The school was transitioning from an inner-city high school format to this magnet school concept. I made a few new friends and I was introduced to hard rock and heavy metal. It was 1981, I was 11 and AC/DC’s Back in Black, Rush’s Moving Pictures and Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance were three acts/albums I enjoyed thoroughly at the time. In fact, my first concert was Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. In four short years, I went from Debby Boone to Rob Halford. Chew on that one for a minute.

I have had this copy of Beauty and the Beat for 33 years.
I have had this copy of Beauty and the Beat for 33 years.

Sometime in 1981 I was at the mall or in a grocery store, I don’t remember exactly where I was. A pop radio station was piped in and I heard We Got the Beat by the Go Go’s for the first time. Oh man. I was sold. I still have the vinyl copy of Beauty and the Beat I got when it was first released and I now have a 30th anniversary digitally re-mastered CD copy. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to that record. It sits on the turntable as I write this.

I picked up and enjoyed their next two albums – Vacation and Talk Show – and then lost track of them. I liked singer Belinda Carlisle’s first solo record but lost track of her efforts too. She lost track of a few things too.

By the time I got to high school in 1983 my fashion sense was severely warped and my musical tastes were about to splinter in several directions. After a taste of hip-hop in 6th grade with the Sugar Hill Gang, rap was about to explode as I entered high school. Run DMC was the game-changer. To this day I listen to many of the acts that came up at that time – Grandmaster Flash, Whodini, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and of course, the Beastie Boys.

I won’t get into what I wore or why. That’s not important right now.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I had made a friend for life. This friend helped me understand that teenage white kids shouldn’t dress for the circus and he also introduced me to what we now would call Alt-rock. The remnants of Joy Division became New Order after lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. I started to become a fan of New Order, The Smiths (Morrissey as a solo), Depeche Mode, The Cure, and many other new wave, progressive, alternative bands.

During the summer of 1987, this friend and I saw Gene Loves Jezebel, New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen in concert in western New York. This show changed my musical taste forever. We saw U2 later that year and the New Order show was actually better in my opinion. I listen to New Order every day on my New Order Pandora station. Substance 1987, the two-disc set, remains as one of my favorite albums of all-time.

My friend was able to visit me this summer here in California. As luck would have it, New Order is touring and their San Francisco date happened to fall during the visit. They were better than I could have imagined. Every note struck a chord, every lyric spoke to me, every bit of the show resonated for one reason or another. And to hear New Order and Bernard Sumner’s version of Love Will Tear Us Apart set to a visual tribute to the late Ian Curtis was haunting.

Three years ago, the Go Go’s released the 30-year anniversary edition of Beauty and the Beat. They performed in New York as part of Good Morning America’s summer concert series. I got the thought that I might have the opportunity to see them live.

After missing a chance last year, tickets to a show here in Northern California were snapped up as soon as they went on sale. SiriusXM 80s on 8 is presenting the Replay America concert tour this summer featuring Pete Byrne and Naked Eyes, Martha Davis and Marty Jourard of the Motels, Patty Smyth and Keith Mack of Scandal and of course, the Go Go’s.

Unfortunately, original bassist Kathy Valentine had a falling out with the band, so it’s not the original line up. No offense to Valentine (not that she’s going to read this anyway), I didn’t care and it didn’t matter. Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, Jane Wiedlin and Abby Travis put on a fun, wonderful show. The band also performed one of Carlisle’s solo hits, Mad About You, and Wiedlin’s solo hit with Sparks, Cool Places. Cool Places sounded a bit strange without Sparks, but it did the trick.

Gina Schock (drums), Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar), Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Abby Travis (bass) and Jane Wiedlin (rhythm guitar).
Gina Schock (drums), Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar), Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Abby Travis (bass) and Jane Wiedlin (rhythm guitar).

I bounced, danced, swayed, reminisced, grooved, sang a little (not loud enough for anyone to hear me of course), longed for another time a little bit at both shows.

I mentioned the resonance to my friend after the New Order show and he said something along the lines of, “that’s what it is to be a fan.”

Two concerts in eight days – my two of my three favorite groups. I can say that now. I probably wouldn’t have said that about the Go Go’s two days ago. I never did see my other favorite group live and I never will. Adam Yauch’s (MCA) death means no more Beastie Boys.

Is any of this “great” music? Many would say no. I know my dad wouldn’t. I know I think it is, that’s all that matters.

It’s the soundtrack of my life.

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A Few Notes About Exercise

I hate exercise.

I’m inherently lazy. Adopting exercise and better nutrition the past 18 months has been like an organ transplant gone horribly wrong.

I loved playing sports as a kid but I hated the training. Okay, I liked Pop Warner football practice from age 10-12 because it was the only time I got to play. I ran cross country in high school because my bad knees wouldn’t allow me to play football anymore and running got me in shape for basketball and baseball. But I honestly hate running. I can usually shut up my inner runner with pizza and beer.

In all honesty I get more out of running three miles than I do in 30 minutes on an elliptical or treadmill or exercise bike. I also get quite a bit out of these Shortcut to Shred weightlifting sessions. I’ve said it before – I’m no power lifter and some may scoff at the weight I’m able to push around, but what I do seems to work for me.

If you are in decent or good shape, take one piece of advice from me. Don’t ever get out of shape. Getting back in shape is a long, difficult road and it’s a bitch and a half. I’ll let you know when I get there.

Looking for Answers and My Abs

Indiana Jones couldn't find my abs
Indiana Jones couldn’t find my abs

The fat guy showed up in the mirror again. I don’t know when, I don’t know why, but he’s back. And I absolutely hate the bastard.

After I completed Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred program from www.bodybuilding.com I liked what I saw but I thought I could benefit from going through the program again. My stomach was still too big and round. A weekend trip to Disney and a work trip to Los Angeles, a little bit of rest, and I’d hit it again. I have thought about signing up so I could get some advice at that web site, but I am tired of signing up for this, downloading that.

Something weird happened during the three weeks I was off the grid with weight lifting – I lost weight. Yep, I lost weight. I came back under 186 pounds. After hovering between 187-191, I was under 186.

A second planned oral surgery got in the way as did work and life so I only did a few of the workouts before resigning myself to cardio roughly every other day. I checked my Nike running app and realized I hadn’t run much of late, so I’ve been trying to run a little more often.

I asked some people I trust and some people who know such things, professionals as it were, about why I have not lost significant weight in six months. It seems to me I should be a lot further along than 50 pounds down in 18 months.

After using My Fitness Pal to log my food for four days last week and having professionals analyze it for me, it has been determined that I have my carbohydrate and protein intake backwards. I thought I was doing well, I thought I was eating the right things. Aside from the occasional pizza indulgence, I haven’t been eating unhealthy, just too many carbs and not enough protein. My meals aren’t the problem, my snacks are. I am convinced that I need to eat something every few hours to keep my metabolism going and to keep from gorging at mealtime. Just about all of my snacks, even the ones that are high in protein, contain too many carbs.

Now, I am not an anti-carb fanatic. I am a believer in carbs for energy. However, if I want to resume trying to lose the 8-10 pounds I still want to lose, I need to flip my carbs and protein intake.

A few adjustments later and the scale read a new low – 185.2. And of course, my weight popped right back up to 188. Either the scale is inaccurate, I’m retaining water, Lord only knows.

Back to the body image issues. So, I think I look better when I am lifting weights just about every day, especially during the Shortcut to Shred program. I had much more muscle definition and my stomach didn’t seem as flabby. I actually think if I could get rid of my belly fat I’d be happy at this weight. Someone told me a couple months ago that I look like a “regular” guy. I took that as the compliment it was intended to be.

You would think after 18 months, I would understand my body better, you’d think I’d know what I was doing at this point. I’m angry, I’m confused, and I don’t know what to do next. I won’t use pills or supplements, I take a lot of pride in the fact that the only dietary help I’ve gotten is from whey protein.

I watched an episode of Extreme Weight Loss on ABC recently. As thrilled as I was for the gentleman featured on the show, I was angry. This guy lost 200 pounds in 12 months. You read that right, 200 pounds in 12 months. Don’t get me wrong, I was blown away by his story and his accomplishments, but I was pissed.

I will admit I don’t have the kind of time to work out more than hour a day or so. I sit in the car for almost three hours a day and I am an accomplished desk pilot.

I have struggled to lose 50 pounds in 18 months. Did smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 18 years (I quit six years ago) mess up my metabolism that bad? Is my sleep apnea a big metabolism slower as well? Why is it so hard for me? I eat 2,000 calories or less per day, exercise fairly religiously now, avoid foods I used to consume on a daily basis (I do have my cheats and indulgences), and I have been on the plateau from hell for six months. I know I sound all woe is me, but I seriously don’t understand. Nothing makes me angrier than feeling stupid.

I like pie
I like pie.

Hopefully this new advice about carbs and protein turns things around. I am angry, frustrated and fed up. It’s not like I’m going to go eat a complete apple pie covered in half a gallon of ice cream (even though that does sound tempting) and give up exercise. Healthy diet and exercise are my lifestyle now.

It’s funny. After doing that six-week Shortcut to Shred program, the old 007 Daniel Craig workouts I used to do just aren’t enough anymore. I guess I could add weight, but I burn through one of those workouts in 25 minutes. I did one recently and I was underwhelmed. Those Shortcut to Shred deals are a full hour, every time.

No critters out on the running trails to tell of. No vultures, squirrels, coyotes, snakes or spiders, just suburbanites, some of whom who have the same goals as your humble narrator.

As much information is available here on the Interwebs, and from the people in and around my life, you would think I would understand what the hell is going on with my physiology. But, since I’m not going back to school to pursue a degree in exercise science or nutrition, I’ll keep throwing stuff at the wall and see what sticks (to the wall, not my abs).

Speaking of my abs, I think I saw them on the back of a milk carton. They certainly are not below my chest and above my…belt. Short of taking out an Amber Alert I guess I’ll keep trying to play Indiana Jones and find them under this layer of fat.