Touch of Grey will, well, touch upon the rainbow that is life. Good music, good times, and good friends combine to make all the splendid colors. Touch of Grey will celebrate this beautiful rainbow.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Conversation With a Twelve Year Old

There she sat on her canopy bed, a remnant from her childhood that she had already outgrown, as she was twelve going on twenty. I watched her for some time, a girl surrounded by the things she loved, Hit Parader and Creem magazines, her favorite tunes (currently "Sweet Leaf" by Black Sabbath) on the turntable, and posters galore on her wall. Oh, the posters!

She looked up suddenly and said, "Oh, it's you again."

Just stopping by, I told her, and wanted to see how she was doing on this New Year's eve of thirty years ago.

"Hey, are you ready for the eighties?" I asked.

"I guess," she muttered, never much one for conversation.

"So I heard Jefferson Starship is going to give a concert that's gonna be broadcast live on KLOL tonight. Cool!" I said, hoping this will help open her up.

"Yeah, I'm set to record it. It's gonna be good. Patti is gonna come over tonight."

Ah, Patti. Her very best friend for life, or so she thought. I didn't have the heart to tell her that many years hence, best friends sometimes don't have so much in common and drift apart, through nobody's fault. It just happens. I decided to just let her enjoy this moment.

She then said, "I invited Todd, but he couldn't come."

Oh, man, Todd. Now I remember. Good ol' shoplifting, class-cutting, destined-for-juvie Todd.

I had to try to steer her onto the right track here, but doubted she would listen to me. Does any twelve year old? Particularly this bullheaded, stubborn chick?

"Maybe you should forget about Todd for a while. How about Donald that took you to the homecoming dance? He's really cute, and you might be surprised how he turns out...."

She cut me off at the pass. "Donald's not cool. He hangs around the kickers. I love Todd. HE'S my boyfriend now!"

Yep, that went over real well. I shouldn't have opened my mouth. Next subject, please.

"Hey, you've still got that Star Wars poster hanging by your light switch, I see."

"Yeah, it's cool," she replied. "George Lucas says he's gonna make all nine chapters into movies three years apart. So I figure by the time I'm 34, I'll have seen them all."

Oh, jeez. How to break this girl's bubble? How on Earth to tell her about the Ewoks, JarJar Binks, and the SIX movies made? I really couldn't do that to her. "Well, just enjoy the movies as they come along," I told her.

Man, this room was dark. Between the blue lights in the ceiling fixture and the black lights on the wall, I could scarcely tell if she was paying any attention to me at all. But I sure could tell how messy her room was.

"Hey, you know, it's not cool to leave all your Mr. Pibb and Tab cans laying around. That's nasty," I informed her.

"Who asked you?" she said smartly.

Yeah, she had me there.

"Well, you're old enough to pick up after yourself," I said. "Give your mom a break every now and then, okay?"

"Whatever," she shot back.

Time to change the subject again.

"What are you thinking of doing this coming year, next year, next ten years?" I asked.

"Uh.....I guess just going to school and hanging out with friends maybe. When I'm done with school, I want to be with rock and roll bands, like KISS, helping them with concerts and stuff...."

"Oh, you mean like a roadie?"

"Naw, not really, just like promoting them and booking their concerts and helping them and stuff."

"Ah," I replied. "A regular Bobbie Fleckman in the making, right?"

"Who??" she asked with a scrunched-up nose.

"Nevermind," I said, wondering if she knew how much she looked like a kid with that nose and those freckles and those braces on her teeth. I noticed suddenly how she seemed so young, so fresh, so small. I suddenly wanted to hold her, to protect her, to never let her get hurt, to shield her from all that I knew would come and all that would go. I wanted to tell her don't cross the street, don't hang around people that do drugs, don't be so caught up in boys, don't shut people out when they try to help you, don't live a day without telling your parents you love them, don't drink, don't drive, don't drink and drive, don't be sad when he doesn't call back because you never really needed him anyway, don't wear fuschia eye shadow with leg warmers and giant hair bows, don't take anything in life for granted, don't......


But I couldn't. These were things that she would have to figure out for herself. Things that would make her the woman she would need to be to deal with everything life had in store for her. So, I just wanted to take a moment to help her remember her dreams.

"So what about being an astronaut? I know that's what you really want more than anything else. Don't you remember how much you love space? If that's what you want, that's what you should do. You're smart enough, you know. And don't let anyone ever tell you that you're not."

"Eh," she said. "Maybe someday."

Oh, honey. Sometimes somedays come and sometimes they don't. Sometimes we get so busy living life that we leave our dreams in the dust and when we want to revisit them, it's too late. You will never have it better than you have it right now. Both your parents and all your grandparents are here. All four Beatles are still walking the Earth, all the Ramones are still making music, you are sheltered, loved, and so full of potential.

How to reach her? I knew she probably wouldn't listen. Would anything I say soak in? If I could reveal her life to her now would it make a difference?

I decided to just enjoy this moment with her and let her be who she was. She would touch down on the ground again when the time was right. I couldn't save her from the heartache I knew would befall her, but I wouldn't for a moment prevent her from experiencing the joy and freedom to come later. Besides, she wasn't a half-bad kid. Stubborn and willful, yes. Wild and untethered? Of course. But loving, polite, smart, and fearless as I've ever witnessed. I didn't want that part of myself to ever be snuffed out.

"You know, you're weird," she said, half-amusedly. "But kinda cool."

"So are you, chickadee, so are you."

And for the first time, I saw a smile emerge from that little-girl face, with a hint of mouth metal gleaming under the black light.

"Thanks!" she beamed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good Song

So the weather has been chilly lately. You could almost say it's been feeling (and looking) a lot like Christmas, which in South Texas is not always the case. It seems this year many people are getting in the spirit, even my dad, who has been going crazy hanging lights and (gasp!) sending out Christmas cards. He has even enjoyed listening to those ever-increasing numbers of post-Thanksgiving all-Christmas music channels on the radio.

With such a wealth of Christmas music every year sometimes one can get Christmas song overload long before the actual blessed day. A couple years ago, I did a sort of bah-humbug blog about Christmas music, because I had heard too much and just wasn't in the spirit. This year, maybe I will get burned out before Christmas day, but it seems it's hitting just the right spot for some reason. I and my family have thoroughly been enjoying the cool, cloudy days and the "job" of getting those decorations out of storage and displayed for all to see. Could it have a little to do with the fact that this year I am actually off work for Christmas day? Probably so. That's a rare occurrence that will be put to best use this year. I can't imagine anything better than just being with family and listening to wonderful music. I wish the same for everyone this year.

And oh, where to start with the music? Perhaps with a (semi-) contemporary take on the "Little Drummer Boy" showcasing a couple of my favorite artists, David Bowie and Bing Crosby. A beautiful version of this song, with a different, added sentiment by the duo always got my mother in the mood every year. She loved it and thought there was no better version. I must concur. I do hope you look and listen here and enjoy as much as we always have.

Next, a most beautiful version of an old standby, "O Holy Night," by a country artist who doesn't get enough recognition, John Berry. This is just about the most resonant version of a difficult-to-perform song that I have ever heard. I have it for you here.

To get you in a reflective mood, I have a song that seems to not be played too often, though these days I can't imagine a better reflection of the prevailing mood. It is a somber one, to be sure, but with just a tinge of hope that mirrors what much of the nation, I think, is going through. It is "I Believe in Father Christmas," by Greg Palmer, here, and perhaps it will give a little meaning to what our world has been experiencing of late.

They may have "sold" Palmer a "silent night,", but when performed by the one and only Temptations, it is something you can believe in. This is my favorite version of the old classic, and it's just not Christmas to me until I hear it. When you combineTHE best version from one of THE best groups ever, you get pure magic. The harmonies are absolutely perfect. I think you'll hear what I mean here. It is impossible to listen to this song and not be moved.

To put you in a rockin' mood, I must include "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms, definitely one of my all-time favorites, here. This song is simply timeless, and I still love it as much as the first time I ever heard it. There have been many versions made of this song, but the original is still and always will be the best.

And finally, I have included what I consider to be THE most timeless Christmas song ever. It is THE best version by one of our finest artists of all time, and its sentiment is so lovely and simple, it needs no frills. It is, simply, "The Christmas Song," by the incomparable Nat King Cole, here. The words and music are timeless, and I've never heard the whole concept of Christmas expressed in a more beautiful way. It just doesn't get any better than this.

So there you are....a short list of my faves for this time of year. I hope you enjoyed these fine songs, and share some of your most treasured music memories as well. Merry Christmas to all, and may there one day be peace on Earth.

Peace on Earth....can it be?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Never again must the blood of law enforcement officials be spilled upon our streets.

Never again must police officers' widows, widowers, and children be left without the most important person in their lives.

Never again must we allow our safety, our security, our protectors, our freedom, and our nation to be held hostage by a madman.

Never again, America. Never again.

Slain in the line of duty on Sunday, November 29 are: Lakewood WA Police Sgt. Mark Renninger, age 39; and Lakewood WA police officers Tina Griswold, age 40; Ronald Owens age 37; and Greg Richards, age 42.

These servants gave their lives doing what they loved, ambushed by a piece of trash with no regard for life. There are (as of January 2009) 18,274 names on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Too many will be added this year. Too many will be added next year. And with no end in sight of the blatant disregard some have for our men and women in blue, this memorial will continue to grow. I want it stopped. I want it stopped now. Please take a moment to visit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund here. I have been a member and contributor of this fine nonprofit for over a decade, and they do so much more than just engrave names on a memorial. A museum is in the final planning stages, statistics are compiled and published, and on and on. This worthy organization is bringing attention nationwide to fatalities of law enforcement personnel and their survivors. Take the opportunity also to follow their excellent blog at . I think you will be impressed.

The Concerns of Police Survivors at this site is also worth considering if one is wondering what they can do to help families who have lost their law enforcement officer. This is also a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping not only the families of fallen officers, but also the agencies who have lost a valued member.

The price our law enforcement personnel pay is too high for any of us to demand. They patrol on foot, on motorcycle, on horse, in vehicles. They leave their families, never knowing if that may be the last time they see them. They give their all so that we may be secure, while they put themselves in harms' way every day and every night. Some may die by the hands of others, while, in the most tragic scenario imaginable, others may die by their own hand. They give of themselves. They also take. This poem can explain better than I just what they take in return....
A Cop on the Take

First he takes ... the oath. Now look at what else he takes:
He takes ... it in stride when people call him pig.
He takes ... his lousy pay check realizing he'll never be rich.
He takes ... a second job sometimes to make ends meet and support his family.
He takes ... time to stop and talk to children.
He takes ... your verbal abuse while giving you a ticket you really deserved.
He takes ... on creeps you would be afraid to even look at.
He takes ... time away from his family to keep you safe.
He takes ... your injured child to the hospital.
He takes ... the graveyard shift without complaint because it's his turn.
He takes ... his life into his hands daily.
He takes ... you home when your car breaks down.
He takes ... time to explain why both your headlights have to work.
He takes ... the job no one else wants -- telling you a loved one has died.
He takes ... criminals to jail.
He takes ... in sights that would make you cry.
Sometimes he cries too, but he takes it anyway because someone has to.
He takes ... memories to bed each night that you couldn't bear, or even endure for one day.
He takes ... time to explain to his family why he can't make the ball game his child is in and why he has to work on the holiday when other parents are off.
Sometimes ... he takes a bullet.
And yes, occasionally ... he may take a free cup of coffee.
If he is lucky ... he takes retirement.
Then one day he pays for all he has taken ...and hopefully, God takes him.

Written by Texas Police Officer Kendricks as a tribute to his late brother, Police Officer Rodney Kendricks, who died from injuries suffered in an on-duty auto accident in Lubbock,Texas - July 2001.

Please pray for our officers, so that never again tears will fall upon a nation that has just lost one of its finest.