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Shelly Peiken book discussion and signing September 25, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
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Back in March, I wrote about my experience reading songwriter and Freeport native Shelly Peiken‘s (“PIE-kin”) book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. I was hoping for an opportunity to meet her in person the next time there was a book signing in New York City or here on Long Island. Over the summer, that opportunity came to be as Shelly invited me and her fellow Facebook friends to an event on Friday night at Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, not too far from the LIRR station. I proudly committed to going, as did many other friends from her youth in Freeport. That includes my mother Lisa, who grew up within walking distance of Shelly.

My original itinerary to get to Turn of the Corkscrew was similar to the previous Friday’s journey to Long Beach for the Long Beach Jazz Festival. The only difference is I would eat an early dinner at home before leaving for the Wantagh LIRR station where I would take the 5:59 train. Mom would meet up with me in RVC, as it’s colloquially known, coming from work in Freeport. That never happened because Mom decided to come home first so we could go together. We did, leaving the house at about 5:50. We arrived a half hour later. Shelly wasn’t due to speak until 7:00, but I always like to be early so I can get a prime seat.

After having a can of diet ginger ale and two chocolate chip cookies, I took these preliminary pictures:
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Shelly arrived on time, hugging my mother Lisa on the way to the podium:
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For about an hour, Shelly read excerpts from Confessions of a Serial Songwriter
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…and sang a few of her songs:
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The songs were:
Bitch” – #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Meredith Brooks in 1997
Almost Doesn’t Count” – #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Brandy in 1999; #19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for Mark Wills in 2000
Human on the Inside” – #59 in Australia for the Divinyls in 1996; #30 on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart for the Pretenders (as “Human”) in 1999
Who You Are” – #8 on the UK Singles chart for Jessie J in 2011

Mom loved “Almost Doesn’t Count.” “That’s very pretty,” she complimented after the last chord. “Thank you, Lisa,” Shelly cheerfully replied. Mom added, “It’s my kind of song.”

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Shelly also admitted she’s working on an audiobook version of Confessions. I can’t wait to hear it.

After Shelly’s friend Susan took a group picture of her with all of us in the first few rows, it was time for the signing portion of the night. I had my copy ready and Mom bought a copy, too.

She wrote the following in my copy:

Mike –
I love that you came
Nice to meet you in person
Shelly

I couldn’t agree more.

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Here’s what she wrote in Mom’s copy:
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Lisa –
I cried when I saw your face
Shelly

Aww.

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As the crowd thinned out, all that remained were Shelly and her friends. They sat, reminisced, and looked at childhood pictures, for a half hour. I sat with them and took it all in.

Before sitting down, Shelly gathered them for a picture:
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From left to right, there’s Linda, Lisa, Celeste, Shelly, Lisa, and Peggy.

Thank you again, Shelly. I had a wonderful time, and I know (friends) did, too. Tell Susan it was nice to meet her, too. And thank you, also, to Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran, the co-owners of Turn of the Corkscrew.

Kerry Kearney Band, Special EFX at Long Beach Jazz Festival 2016 September 19, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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On Friday, for the first time in four years, I came to the second day of the four-day Long Beach (NY) Jazz Festival. This was the festival’s 14th year and the sixth year I’ve attended.

I was there to see Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, but was treated to blues by the Kerry Kearney Band beforehand.

Despite running 7.6 miles earlier in the afternoon, I walked a mile and a half to the Wantagh LIRR station just before 4:00. I waited for the 4:27 westbound train, which I took to Lynbrook. Then, I switched platforms to board the Long Beach train. I took the same two trains four years ago.

After I arrived in Long Beach, I walked to Brixx & Barley for a pasta dinner. I had eaten there with my parents and sister on Mother’s Day after we walked the Long Beach Boardwalk.

Unfortunately, there was still a lot of time before the Long Beach Public Library was opened to patrons. So, I walked to the nearby Starbucks and treated myself to dessert. There were only a few people outside the library when I left, but a crowd had gathered when I returned. I was still able to get a front row seat when the doors opened at 6:45.

The Kerry Kearney Band went on just after 7:00.

Here’s Kerry in action:
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The rest of Kerry’s band was David Cohen on piano:
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Gerry Sorrento on bass:
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Mario Stiano on drums:
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…and Nydia “Liberty” Mata on percussion:
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I saw Nydia perform with Alan Bates at the 2008 festival, and she played the steel drums during cocktail hour at my friends Jenni and Clemente’s wedding reception a few weeks after the 2011 festival.

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The band was also joined by Victor Poretz on harmonica:
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…and Charlie on trombone:
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A few wide shots:
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The last note:
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The set lasted about an hour. A half hour later, it was time for Chieli Minucci and Special EFX.

As with the Kerry Kearney Band, Special EFX was introduced by Steve Adelson, Long Beach Jazz Festival founder and Chapman Stick player:
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Chieli played electric guitar:
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…and acoustic guitar:
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Jay Rowe was on keyboards:
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Jerry Brooks on bass:
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Joel Rosenblatt on drums:
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…and Antoine Silverman on violin:
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As always the set list was a mix of Special EFX tunes and Chieli’s solo work. Here’s the list:
1. Courageous Cats
Originally heard on: Jewels (Chieli), 1995

2. Dance on the Delta
Originally heard on: Yet to be released album

3. Crazy Eights
Originally heard on: Genesis, 2013

4. Daybreak
Originally heard on: Global Village, 1992

5. Speak to Me
Originally heard on: Masterpiece, 1999

6. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Allman Brothers Band cover)

7. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (Stevie Wonder cover; based on Jeff Beck version)
Originally heard on: Renaissance (Chieli), 1996

8. Kickin’ It Hard
Originally heard on: Night Grooves (Chieli), 2003

Antoine Silverman did not perform on #1 and #7.

Various shots of Chieli Minucci:
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Jay Rowe:
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Jerry Brooks:
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Joel Rosenblatt:
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Antoine Silverman:
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Wide shots:
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After the last note:
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The bow:
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With that, my night was complete. It was great to be back at the Long Beach Jazz Festival. I hope to be there again next year.

Joe Falco Documentary September 10, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Fire, History, News, Personal, Video.
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Five years ago, I posted my 9/11 experience, via a written summary of a portfolio I submitted in college a few months after 9/11. Two years after that summary, for my senior project, my dad Bill and I interviewed Joe Falco, an FDNY firefighter who survived the collapse of the World Trade Center’s South Tower. I never posted it to YouTube until tonight. Here is the resulting documentary, with pictures added two years later:

Two days at The Barclays August 30, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Golf, Internet, Media, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the third and final round of The Barclays, the first event of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs. This year, as in 2012, the host venue was Bethpage Black, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Bethpage/Farmingdale.

One day after acquiring tickets to the second round of the PGA Championship, my dad Bill ordered tickets for the third round of The Barclays. About a week before we were to go, Dad won complimentary tickets to the final round. Our weekend was set.

This was the tournament’s 50th year. It began in 1967 as the Westchester Classic. This was also the last year it was sponsored by Barclays. Starting next year, when the tournament will be at nearby Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, it will be known as The Northern Trust. As a result, the tournament that was called the Northern Trust Open, held in February at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, will become the Genesis Open.

For the third round on Saturday, Dad and I left the house at 11:30 and drove to Nassau Coliseum for general parking. From there, a shuttle bus drove us to Bethpage Black.

All pictures both days were taken on my iPhone 6.

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The practice green and media center:
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The 1st tee:
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The 1st fairway:
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We stopped at the 18th fairway to watch Phil Mickelson and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose finish their round:
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This was back by the 1st tee:
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The 1st green:
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The 4th tee:
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We stopped at the concession tent by the 5th green and 12th fairway, then watched the last seven pairings at the 5th green:
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Those pairings were:
Jim Herman and Jhonattan Vegas
Ricky Barnes and J.B. Holmes
Martin Laird and Harold Varner III
Jason Day and Adam Hadwin
Jordan Spieth and Sean O’Hair
Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore
Patrick Reed (36-hole leader) and Emiliano Grillo

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The MetLife Blimp:
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After watching Blayne Barber and Jason Kokrak at the 12th green, Dad and I made our way to the 13th green:iPh82716046

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We stood in the sun at first, then moved to the shade (seen above). We watched Barber and Kokrak, Ryan Palmer and Kevin Chappell, and then the seven pairings I listed earlier. As the leader and challengers approached, we saw Billy Kratzert, Dottie Pepper, and Peter Kostis from CBS Sports. Also passing by were course reporters from PGA Tour Radio, NHK (Japan), and Sky Sports.

After Reed and Grillo, Dad and I walked back toward the clubhouse.

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The jib by the 14th green:
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A closer look:
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The 15th tee:
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We stopped at the crosswalk by the 17th tee as Jason Day and Adam Hadwin teed off.

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We stopped in the shop to buy a shirt, then took the shuttle back to Nassau Coliseum.

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Rickie Fowler (-9) took the lead from Patrick Reed (-8) going into the final round. Here are highlights of the third round, which concluded while we were in transit.

For the final round on Sunday, Dad and I left for the Coliseum at noon. The shuttle we took arrived at Bethpage Black before 1:00.

Our first stop after arriving was the practice range, which was adjacent to the Yellow Course:
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At the range were Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Kevin Streelman, Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, and Rickie Fowler.

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Then, we walked toward the 18th green.

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Me and the infamous warning sign:
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Our plan was to sit in the grandstand above the green until play concluded, but that didn’t pan out. I’m glad it didn’t.

We watched the four pairings start their rounds at the 1st tee:
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The four pairings:
Kevin Streelman and Gary Woodland
Emiliano Grillo and Justin Thomas
Adam Scott and Martin Laird
Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed

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Fowler and Reed waiting to tee off:
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After a brief stop in the Mastercard Club, Dad and I walked to the concession area by the 14th hole. On the way there, we passed Brandt Snedeker and Brian Harman as they made their way to the 17th tee. People were high fiving Sneds, and I tried to get in on the action, but he didn’t see my hand. Oh, well.

After hot dogs and soda, we returned to our spot at the 13th green:
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As you can see, the hole was moved.

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We watched the last 14 pairings come through. In addition to the four I listed earlier, there were also:
Brian Stuard and Jim Furyk
Billy Horschel and Rory McIlroy
Brendan Steele and Chez Reavie
Sean O’Hair and Charl Schwartzel
Ricky Barnes and Jordan Spieth
Jason Dufner and Blayne Barber
Ryan Moore and Kevin Kisner
Jason Kokrak and Ryan Palmer
Dustin Johnson and Jamie Lovemark
Jason Day and Tony Finau

Occasionally, photographers and TV cameramen set up in front of us. On a personal note, my dad’s friend joined us at the green for a little while.

Day parred 13, but made a 71-foot putt for birdie at 15.

When Fowler and Reed came to the green, volunteers strictly enforced the no-camera-or-phone policy. I put my iPhone back in its holster and didn’t touch it until they holed out. By this time, Fowler had faltered and Reed regained the lead. That lead would grow to three shots, but he won by one (-9).

Dad and I made another stop at the concessions by 14. While there, we ran into my friend Mike and his wife Laurie.

The jib also made an appearance:
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Then, we walked to the grandstand by the 17th green for the last two pairings:
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The view was spectacular:
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As we approached the 18th tee, we ran into Mike and Laurie again. After Reed and Fowler teed off, we walked adjacent to fairway.

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We stayed until the last putt:
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The 18th green at the moment Reed putt for bogey to win by one shot:
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Here’s how it looked on CBS.

The moment Peter Kostis interviewed Reed:
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Here’s how that looked.

We walked closer to the green for the trophy presentation (not televised), which came after Reed signed his scorecard.

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Dottie Pepper hosted the presentation:
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Reed’s win, the fifth of his career, earned him a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

On the way back to the shuttle, we passed by the 1st tee of the Red Course:
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And we saw Rickie Fowler signing autographs by the practice green:
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With that, we exited and boarded the shuttle:
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I expect to do as the sign said and return next year at Glen Oaks for The Northern Trust.

I will update this post after the Tour Championship with the FedExCup Champion. Until then, I leave you with post-tournament links:
Final round highlights
Patrick Reed news conference
Shots of the week
Final round photo gallery
Associated Press story
Helen Ross: Teamwork leads to success
Winner’s Bag: Patrick Reed, The Barclays

9/25 UPDATE: Rory McIlory won.

Lee Ritenour at the Blue Note August 20, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
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Another month, another concert at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village. Friday night, I saw guitarist Lee Ritenour with special guest Dave Grusin.

My recap of the Spyro Gyra show I saw at Blue Note in May caught the attention of Art Jackson of Smooth Jazz Magazine. Art asked to put most of it in the July/August issue and I eagerly agreed. He also asked if there were any shows I’d like to attend as a photographer on behalf of the magazine. I told him I was interested in seeing Lee Ritenour the week he was at Blue Note. Like Earl Klugh last month, I had never seen him – or Dave Grusin, for that matter – live. However, I interviewed him twice for The Mike Chimeri Show on Webradio WCWP (now MyWCWP) a decade ago.

I had in mind Friday night at 8:00. Art came through.

I arrived outside at 5:00. I was second in line this time, behind a jazz concert regular named Celeste. We had a great conversation and time flew by. Before we knew it, it was 6:00 and we went in.

I sat in my usual spot right by the stage, but I wasn’t there for long. I felt cramped and closed in. So, I asked for a different table and the staff was very accommodating. Not many shots below were taken at the table. I mostly walked adjacent to the stage in brief spurts to avoid getting in the audience’s way.

Lee Ritenour was on guitar:
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Dave Grusin was on piano, except on the first song:
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…and briefly on keyboard:
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Otherwise, Giorgi Mikadze played the keyboards:
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Giorgi was a 2014 grand prize winner of Lee’s annual Six String Theory competition.

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Tom Kennedy on acoustic and electric bass:
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…and Lee’s son Wes – named after the late guitarist Wes Montgomery – on drums:
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Wes is two weeks older than my cousin Steve.

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Here was the 8:00 set on Friday night:
1. The Village
Originally heard on: Rhythm Sessions, 2012

2. Waltz for Carmen
Originally heard on: Stolen Moments, 1990; A Twist of Rit, 2015

3. Punta del Soul
Originally heard on: Migration (Dave Grusin), 1989; Rhythm Sessions, 2012

4. Stone Flower (Antonio Carlos Jobim cover)
Originally heard on: A Twist of Jobim, 1997

5. Wes Bound
Originally heard on: Wes Bound, 1993; Alive in L.A., 1997

6. Pearl
Originally heard on: A Twist of Rit, 2015

7. (Dave Grusin song I didn’t recognize; unidentified by Lee)

8. A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That
Originally heard on: First Course, 1976; Rio, 1979; A Twist of Rit, 2015

9 (Finale). Wild Rice
Originally heard on: First Course, 1976; A Twist of Rit, 2015

A few wide shots from my table:
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Lee introduced the band one last time at the end:
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This was the first Blue Note show I’ve been to with a meet-and-greet. I brought a copy of Lee’s 1998 album, This is Love, the first album of his I ever bought. Rit’s House, The Very Best of Lee Ritenour, and Overtime would follow. Then, I gradually filled my collection with every other album in his discography. After A Twist of Rit came out last summer, I completed the collection to date with First Course, Gentle Thoughts, and The Captain’s Journey. The title track from that last album came up in my iPod’s shuffle during my run earlier in the day.

I introduced myself, Lee signed the album, and he told me that his son Wes was on the cover. I never knew that was him. Before leaving the line, we posed for a picture.
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Before gathering my belongings and taking the subway and LIRR back home, I ran into Wes downstairs. I complimented his performance and showed him the CD. Then, we posed with it. The picture took several tries, as the patron I lent the camera to initially shot above the CD, but Wes was patient.
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I wished him luck with the second set, packed up, and headed for home.

Thank you to Lee, Wes, Dave, Giorgi, Tom, and the Blue Note staff for another great night at the legendary venue.

If you’d like to see Lee and the band perform, you have two more nights to do so.

A day at the 2016 PGA Championship July 30, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Golf, Health, Media, News, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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I spent my Friday with my father Bill at the second round of the PGA Championship, held this year at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. The championship was held two weeks earlier this year because of the Olympics. This is a photo recap of our day. Regular cameras weren’t allowed, so all pictures were taken on my iPhone 6.

A few months ago, I listened to the Audible version of Love That Boy, a book by National Journal senior political columnist Ron Fournier. (I ended up buying the book and then buying a copy for my dad for Father’s Day.) It’s mainly about his relationship with his son Tyler, before and after he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 12, about five years before I learned I had it. After the diagnosis, Ron began taking Tyler on trips to presidential museums and to meet a few living presidents, whom Ron covered while a reporter. My dad and I have also taken trips since my diagnosis: to golf tournaments, especially major championships. He used to go to golf tournaments with his friends and father, my grandpa Carmen. In particular, he attended the 1986 and 1995 U.S. Open Championships at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol. Since 2002, when the U.S. Open was first held at the Bethpage Black Course in Bethpage State Park, we have been to six majors and a handful of regular tournaments. The majors we’ve been to, counting the one that’s the subject of this post, are:
2002 U.S. Open, 3rd Round – Bethpage Black Course
2004 U.S. Open, Final Round – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
2005 PGA Championship, Final Round – Baltusrol Golf Club
2006 U.S. Open, Final Round – Winged Foot Golf Club
2009 U.S. Open, 3rd/Final Round – Bethpage Black Course
2016 PGA Championship, 2nd Round – Baltursol Golf Club

In 2005 and 2009, play was suspended due to thunderstorms (PGA) and darkness (U.S. Open). I watched the rest of those two majors on TV the following day. In 2009, I also went to the course twice before the first round; once with my mother Lisa and once alone. Here’s how that went.

Dad and I didn’t plan on going to this year’s PGA Championship, even though it was in the tri-state area, but earlier this month, my uncle Jim gave us two grounds tickets to the second round. We would be going, after all.

Rain was in the forecast for Thursday night and yesterday, which I thought would mean no trip or a wasted trip. But play was only delayed 45 minutes and the rain subsided shortly before we left Wantagh around 10AM. General parking was about a half hour away from Baltusrol at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey. We arrived there a little after noon.

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Shuttles traveled to and from the park and Baltusrol around the clock.

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We got to the grounds just before 1PM.

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The 2019 PGA Championship will be at Bethpage Black:
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We watched Soomin Lee, Joost Luiten, and William McGirt finish their second round starting at 16.

The 16th green:
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The MetLife blimp:
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The 17th green:
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The 18th hole:
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The clubhouse:
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We reached the practice green just in time to see Phil Mickelson leave it and make his way to the 1st tee:
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Phil won the last time we were at Baltusrol in 2005.

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In his second round, he recovered from a triple bogey at the 1st to shot an even par 70, making the cut at +1.

Gregory Bourdy chipping off the green:
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He went on to shoot a 68 after starting at the 10th tee. At -3 for the championship, he was six shots back of Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb (-9) after two rounds.

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Brian Gaffney’s ball adjacent to the 6th fairway:
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Gaffney reached the green and was able to save par, but he shot a 74 (+4) in the first round and 73 (+3) in this second, missing the cut by five shots.

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The 7th fairway:
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The 11th tee and 10th green:
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From there, we watched two groups that started at the 10th:
1) Omar Uresti, Greg Chalmers (who had an autism awareness patch on his bag), Ross Fisher
2) David Muttitt, Smylie Kaufman, Zac Blair

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The view from the grandstand by the 10th tee and 9th green:
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Here, we watched a few groups:
1) J.B. Holmes, Brian Stuard, Hideki Matsuyama
2) Matt Dobyns, Tyrell Hatton, Harris English
3) Ernie Els (whose son is autistic), Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson

We left the grandstand before Jimmy Walker’s group reached the 9th green.

The 13th green:
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The aforementioned Harris English’s ball adjacent to the 13th fairway:
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He did make the cut and was five shots back (-4).

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Walking through Patron Plaza…:
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A misting fan:
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After 4 1/2 hours, our day came to an end:
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Since it was rush hour, the shuttle ride back to Oak Ridge Park took about 40 minutes. From there, Dad and I drove home, listening to the coverage of the rest of the second round on SiriusXM’s PGA Tour Radio. Heading up the coverage was the voice of the New York Giants, who play a half hour away at MetLife Stadium, Bob Papa. We arrived back at the house at about 8:30.

It was a memorable day at the PGA Championship. Thank you, Uncle Jim, for the tickets.

I will update this post after the final round.

7/31, 7:30 PM UPDATE: The rains came yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and suspended play until this (Sunday) morning. Jimmy Walker briefly trailed in the third round this morning, but regained the lead heading into the final round this afternoon. Moments ago, Walker held off defending PGA Champion Jason Day, and his own nerves, to win the 2016 PGA Championship. He won wire-to-wire, leading or tied for the lead after every round. Day showed class by congratulating Walker on the 18th green.

I’m glad to have been part of the tournament as a second round spectator.

7/31, 8:41 PM UPDATE: Post-championship links:
PGA/CBS Sports: Walker’s winning par putt
PGA/CBS Sports: Wanamaker Trophy presentation and interview
Nick Menta, Golf Channel: Walker bests Day by one to win PGA Championship
Kyle Porter & Robby Kalland, CBS Sports: PGA Championship 2016 leaderboard, highlights: Breaking down a wild ending

8/1 UPDATE: More links:
Matt Stypulkoski, The Star-Ledger: Jimmy Walker continues trend of first-time major winners
Steve Politi, The Star-Ledger: Jimmy Walker’s PGA Championship victory is a win for grinders everywhere
Hank Gola, The Star-Ledger: Is it still Jimmy Walker’s day if he had been paired with Jason Day?
Andy Vasquez, The Record: Walker holds off Day for first major
Tara Sullivan, The Record: Walker’s wire-to-wire act was dynamite (a reference to “dynomite!,” the catchphrase of J.J. Evans on Good Times, portrayed by namesake Jimmie Walker)
Michael Bamberger, Golf Magazine: Jimmy Walker Edges Jason Day, Wins 2016 PGA Championship
Art Stricklin, Golf Magazine: Party Awaits Jimmy Walker at His Home Club in Texas

8/2 UPDATE: Even more links:
PGA: Full Sunday Highlights
PGA: Full Tournament Highlights
PGA: Jimmy Walker’s Full PGA Champion Press Conference
PGA: Top 10 Shots of the 2016 PGA Championship (#9 spoiler: I saw John Senden on the practice green after he completed his second round.)

An afternoon at the Fire Island Lighthouse July 16, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in History, Jazz, Military, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, Weather.
5 comments

Two weeks ago, Lori Downing, a co-worker of my mother and sister, invited me to visit the Fire Island Lighthouse. Her father, Bill Laghezza, is among its volunteers. I agreed, not knowing what to expect.

Lori’s original plan for yesterday – a hot and humid day, even by the ocean – was to pick me up at 10:30. That became 11:30. We took the Wantagh Parkway to Ocean Parkway, planning on getting on the Robert Moses Causeway, proceeding to Robert Moses State Park, and walking to the lighthouse. We knew there would be a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride until 1:00, but we thought it stopped at the State Boat Channel Bridge. It actually ended on the Ocean Parkway, which meant eastbound traffic was diverted back west at the finish line. So, we had to reverse course, taking the Ocean Parkway west, Wantagh Parkway north to Exit W4E, the Southern State Parkway east to Exit 40, then take the Robert Moses Causeway south to the park. By this time, the Soldier Ride was over.

Lori and I parked in Field 5 and walked the path to the Fire Island Lighthouse. I brought my Nikon D5500 and snapped away. Below is our photographic journey. Enjoy.

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The lighthouse’s 15th Annual Benefit Art Show was in its third-to-last day. Here are the exhibits:
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Time to climb to the top:
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It was tougher than using a stairmaster.

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The view from the top deck:
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It was jarring at first being up so high, but I adjusted.

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Lori took my picture:
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Then, Bill joined us and I took a picture of him and Lori:
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Here are a couple of videos I shot while on the top deck while Bill was with us.

“C.I.” is Central Islip.

Time to head back down:
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It was easier going down than it was going up.

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All visitors that climb to the top and come back down get a certificate of accomplishment. Another lighthouse volunteer, Angela, took my picture after filling out my certificate:
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Angela and I had a brief conversation about Earl Klugh and I told her about the show I went to a few nights earlier.

One last piece of business: signing the guest log:
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As a privacy precaution, I blurred out last names, locations, e-mail addresses, and the file location of the log.

I’m so glad I decided to join Lori on her trip to the lighthouse. As I wrote in the guest log, it was worth waiting in traffic to get there. I will never forget the sights, the sounds, or the volunteers I met.

Earl Klugh at the Blue Note July 13, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
4 comments

It took many years, but last night, I finally saw guitarist Earl Klugh (“clue”) perform live. It’s been 40 years since he made his solo debut with a pair of albums, Earl Klugh and Living Inside Your Love. Most of his early albums were released on Blue Note Records, and the show I saw was at the infamous Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village. It was my fourth time at the Blue Note, and won’t be the last.

The show I saw was the first of 12 over six nights. As usual, I opted for the 8:00 show over the 10:30 show.

My sister drove to the Wantagh LIRR station at 3:45 for the 4:02 train to Penn Station. As fate would have it, the 3:27 train was running a half hour late. So, I boarded that train a few minutes earlier than the train I planned on taking.

Just before 5:00, I arrived at Penn and proceeded to the 34th Street subway station for the downtown A train to West Fourth Street. Just like my previous trip to Blue Note for Spyro Gyra, I was so early that I was the first in line outside the club. After 5:30, a line began to form behind me. At exactly 6:00, the door opened and I was let in. I chose my center stage table seat and ordered dinner. A father and daughter from Japan sat to my left, which made me wish I spoke enough Japanese to carry a conversation. I was rewarded a half hour later when a man from Ottawa, in town for his daughter’s dance competition, took the seat across from mine. We had a nice, prolonged conversation. It was great.

The show I was about to see was even greater.

Earl Klugh, as he has throughout his 40-year career, played acoustic guitar:
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David Lee was on keyboards:
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Tom Braxton played alto sax (seen below), soprano sax, and flute:
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Al Turner, the Bass Burner, on electric bass:
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…and Ron Otis on drums:
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There were also two special guests, as you’ll see in the set list below:
1. Brazilian Stomp
Originally heard on: Collaboration (with George Benson), 1987

2. Midnight in San Juan
Originally heard on: Midnight in San Juan, 1991

3. Last Song
Originally heard on: The Journey, 1997

4. Across the Sand
Originally heard on: Move, 1994

5. Cabo Frio
Originally heard on: Finger Paintings, 1977

6. Wishful Thinking
Originally heard on: Wishful Thinking, 1984
Special guest: Barry Eastmond, keyboard

7. Vonetta
Originally heard on: Earl Klugh, 1976

8. Living Inside Your Love
Originally heard on: Living Inside Your Love, 1976

9. Dr. Macumba
Originally heard on: Finger Paintings, 1977

10 (Encore). Twinkle
Originally heard on: Crazy for You, 1981
Special guest: Michael Lington, alto sax

Here are various shots of each musician, including the special guests, starting with Earl Klugh:
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David Lee in emcee mode:
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…and at the keys:
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Hearing him on the Kurzweil synthesizer reminded me of Bill Heller, who also uses that model:
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David was quite the character. I loved his antics.

Tom Braxton on alto sax:
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…on soprano sax:
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…and on flute:
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Al Turner:
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Ron Otis:
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Barry Eastmond appeared on “Wishful Thinking,” just as he did on the original in 1984:
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Michael Lington joined the band for the encore, “Twinkle”:
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Wide shots:
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The last note:
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With that, the 8:00 set was complete.

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I complimented Al Turner and Michael Lington as they left the stage, and let Earl know that this was my first time seeing him live. “Really?” Yes, and I hope it isn’t the last time. I spoke to Tom Braxton before the show, but didn’t have a chance to talk to him again afterward.

I got a picture with Al before I left:
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If you’d like to see Earl and the band at Blue Note, you have five more nights to do so. Come on down to the Village and see them play. You won’t be disappointed. I was enthralled. Thank you to Earl, David, Tom, Al, Ron, Barry, and Michael.

My National Camera Day story June 29, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Personal, Photography.
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Another day, another social media holiday. Today is #NationalCameraDay.

That was how my proposed Facebook status update started. It snowballed into a multi-paragraph history of cameras I’ve used. Below is that history.

I’ve been using cameras regularly for 22 years as of next month. That was when I got a Kodak Funsaver disposable 35mm camera. I used a few more of those before getting a Minolta point-and-shoot camera and 35mm rolls to go with it. Like the disposables, it didn’t have a zoom, but I didn’t care. Three years later, forgetting to bring that camera on a trip to Florida led to purchasing an Olympus camera with a zoom. I alternated between the two cameras for a few more years. Then, another instance of forgetting to bring either camera led to purchasing a Nikon camera, which also had a zoom. A handful of times at the turn of the century, I used my dad’s Canon Rebel G SLR, mostly at sporting events, including two Mets games.

By the fall of 2004, I was ready to switch full time to digital. I had Fujifilm DX-10 and Largan Chameleon Mega digital cameras, but used them sparingly while sticking with 35mm. For the full-time switch, I bought an Olympus C-765. To save space on the 256 MB xD card I bought for it, I only took pictures at the 1280 x 960 resolution. The maximum resolution was 2288 x 1712. In hindsight, my space-saving decision was a mistake. By today’s standards, 1280 x 960 is microscopic.

For Christmas in 2007, I received another digital camera to replace the C-765: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8. With a 4 GB SD card, I shot at nearly double the resolution of the C-765: 2048 x 1536. The max resolution is 3072 x 2304, but once again, I settled for less. The Lumix got me through another 4 1/2 years, which included an upgrade to a 32 GB SDHC card.

By May 2012, I craved a DSLR camera, which my jazz fan friends were using to photograph concerts. So, I took a big step and purchased a Nikon D3100 with a kit 18-55mm lens, and a 32 GB SDXC card to go with it. For six months, I alternated between that and the Lumix, which could zoom farther than the lens I had with the D3100. Finally, after my birthday, I bought a 55-300mm lens. After that, I gave the Lumix to my girlfriend. The D3100’s max resolution was 4608 x 3072, but I settled for less (3456 x 2304) a third time, except for pictures of the moon or passing planes. That practice continued when I swapped cameras with my dad 11 months later. I ended up with a D5100. The medium resolution was a little higher than the D3100: 3696 x 2448. The D5100 got me through another 2 1/2 years. I would eventually opt to shoot at max resolution (4928 x 3264).

Last November, I bought my latest camera: a Nikon D5500 with a kit 18-140mm lens. The max resolution on the D5500 is all the way at 6000 x 4000, and it records 60p video. The previous cameras only shot 30p. I kept the D5100 and 18-55mm lens as spares, but they’ve only been used once. I gave them to my mom to take pictures at a retirement party earlier this month. At some point, I plan on buying a second D5500 body and dedicate the 18-140mm lens to one and the 55-300mm lens to the other.

That’s my story. And you didn’t need to click on “See More” to see all of it. Happy National Camera Day!

Dharma 2.0 recap June 25, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Media, Music, Personal.
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A new era began last night at Suite 1828 in Merrick. Drummer John Favicchia upgraded his band from Dharma All Stars to Dharma 2.0.

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The set now features mainstream covers while retaining Dharma classics, as you’ll notice in the set list.

I was last at the Suite last January for Dharma 1.0. I had planned on returning two months later, but came down with bronchitis and had to stay home. I felt redeemed last night.

I sat in a chair in front of the stage. Behind me, a packed house gathered. We were all in for a wild set.

Dharma 2.0 is led by John Fav on drums:
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Tim Regusis on keyboard:
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Benny Reid on tenor sax:
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…and alto sax:
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Brandon Dove on guitar:
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…and Thomas Velsor on bass:
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SET LIST
1.
Apocalypso (Dave Weckl cover)
2. Spies (Coldplay cover)
3. Coincidence
4. Sing a Song of Song (Kenny Garrett cover)
5. In My Place (Coldplay cover)
6. Kukuc

Here are various shots of each band member, starting with John Favicchia:
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Tim Regusis:
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Benny Reid:
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Brandon Dove:
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Thomas Velsor:
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Wide shots:
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The last note of the set:
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Until the next show, I’ll leave you with a pair of group pictures taken by me…
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…and mutual friend Jeff Krasner:
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