Delightful Oddness

If you’ve been watching the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” you know that a certain piece of music plays as background in a couple of scenes in one of this season’s episodes. The song is “Running Up That Hill,” by Kate Bush. It has now reached #1 on the charts.

Here’s why this caught my eye. This is a 37 year old song, which has been resurrected and has caught on strongly with a brand new demographic, one which was not even born when the tune was first released in 1985. What a strange and good thing all on its own. Allegedly Ms. Bush is very pleased about the whole affair.

Here is a clip from the show, and after that, the original recording. Interesting.

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Running Up That Hill, by Kate Bush

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From The New Yorker

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Went to see the movie “Elvis” at a matinee on Wednesday. There was a respectable crowd present, mostly of our generation. It was a good movie with a sad ending, just like Elvis’ life was. Tom Hanks played his manager, Col. Tom Parker, a man who the film points out was neither a colonel, a Tom, nor a Parker. In fact, you could easily imagine his face and voice as those of the snake in the Garden of Eden.

Austin Butler, who played Presley, looked remarkably like him and is a very good actor to boot, so we had no problem suspending disbelief for a couple of hours on a Wednesday afternoon. The musical performances could only hint at what Elvis could do with an audience in his day, but the hint was a strong one. The Parker character put it well – these screaming and swooning women were experiencing “feelings that they were not sure they should have.”

BTW, this was one of those movies where although you knew when you walked in the door of the theatre how it would end, midway through you realized that you were now seriously invested in rooting for a new finish to the story. That some miracle would happen and the good guys would win. It didn’t happen this time, either.

Mystery Train, by Elvis Presley

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June 30 was the 53rd anniversary of the birth of my son, Jon Davis Flom. Jonnie was born on the last day of my pediatric residency and died the day before he would have been 25 years old.

He was a good kid with a great heart, endowed with more than the usual amount of human kindness. When I think of him I find myself wondering what he would be like now, but of course he will always be twenty-four in those reveries.

In the photo above we are standing on the porch of one of the buildings on a reconstructed military post, Fort Wilkins, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Jonnie’s musical tastes were his own, as was only proper. More than a little into the punk music of the time, he could easily set my teeth on edge whenever he wanted by cranking up the volume on tunes like Blister In The Sun. Times change and now I treasure remembering those annoyances.

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Blister In The Sun, by Violent Femmes

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From The New Yorker

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Really, I have to limit myself to no more than 100 horrible news stories every day. If I read them all and believed everything I read, the most rational response would be to get into a warm tub and open a vein or two. But that seems such a damp ending to it all (and don’t you just hate dampness?) that I look every day for things to be upbeat about. Not Polyanna-style, just something less grim than politics and the economy.

To do that I find that I turn more and more to the “natural world.” Like on that hike up to Black Bear Pass last week. Spending time where the lives of plants and other animals cycle with minimal human interference. I go as an observer, not wanting to change anything at all, but simply to have my spirit nourished.

You know what is saddest about it all? That we humans have squandered the gifts that we could have brought to the table. We are in some ways such intelligent creatures, and yet we spend most of our days in competition with one another … neighbor against neighbor, tribe against tribe, country against country … . How fine it would be if we instead spent our time trying to fit in with the physical nature of the world instead of “defeating” it, in helping one another in our short and arduous time together on earth. As opposed to acting as if this zero-sum game we are playing is the only possible game in town.

BTW, to me there is no more vivid an example of where our mindsets start to go wrong than when I read about yet another person who conquers Mount Everest. Conquers? Good lord. I suspect that Everest is not even aware that we are in competition with it. But when a person with way too much disposable income comes back from a trip to the summit claiming victory over the mountain … poppycock! What they might say instead is “Hey, I know that my hike to the top was basically a meaningless exercise, and that I survived only because I was incredibly lucky in the weather, the skills of my guides, and having the body that I was given.”

I have been fond of saying that the world is a more lovely place than it needs to be. I’m not sure that I always get my point across, but what I mean is that when I stand as I did last week in a place where I am surrounded by wildflowers, and when I raise my eyes there is the magnificence of the mountains in front of me, I am overwhelmed by beauty. There might not be quite enough oxygen up there for the body that I now inhabit, but for the spirit … even a fraction of what I saw would have been enough to fill me up.

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