On living among the retired one percenters

VeroBeachFLHPAh…Vero Beach!  I love ya.  Seriously, you’re so beautiful.  Your beaches are free and your weather is brilliant.  At the same time, though, I simply can’t pay $135 for a short sleeved, casual shirt at the local men’s shop.  I don’t even know if I wish I could.  It’s a nice shirt, but, let’s face it…it’s not $135 nice.  Come on.

Charge whatever you think you can get.  That’s capitalism.  I’m down with it.  You want a specific clientele.  That’s your right.  I get it.  I know that demographic is here, or else your beach-front specialty stores wouldn’t be able to stay afloat, as it were.  Folks here may drive slowly and have a terrible time parking between the lines, but Lord knows they’ve got plenty of money to spend.

I truly don’t begrudge anyone here or anywhere a nice, comfortable retirement.  I think what’s making me uncomfortable is the exclusiveness.  I’ve lost count of the number of different gated communities I’ve seen during the ten days I’ve been here.

vero_beach_island_club

What’s breaking my heart a little every day I’m here is the obvious effort our society is putting into separating ourselves from one another.  We seem to be buying into the illusion that by putting up walls, implementing rules about the height of our neighbor’s grass, and charging outrageous prices for a golf shirt we’re somehow going to be able to live without the fear of anyone trampling on or taking from us what we’ve worked so hard to store up.

I’m not saying that all who have retired down here constantly say to each other, “Let them eat cake!” But I do wonder if all of the mansions literally built upon the sand here don’t play so very easily into the metaphor of so many misguided uses of money and resources.

We can try our hardest to isolate ourselves from the poor and the disenfranchised.  We can stand our ground all we want against the desperate and needy. But it won’t change the fact that they still exist in great numbers all around us.

Vero Beach, I’m glad to have the opportunity to get to know you.  You have so much potential; so much to offer.  I’m afraid I just may not be your type, and, like a fickle lover, you won’t even notice when I’ve gone.

 

Advertisements

I’m a fan Fridays! A Simple Song

4135698Good day to you all, and Happy Friday!  For this edition of I’m A Fan Fridays! I am thrilled to bring you a performance that I’ve loved for quite some time.

Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” is a work which was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy to be a part of the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  It had its premiere on September 8,1971.

This performance of A Simple Song from this great work remains my favorite, to this day.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you “A Simple Song” performed here by Joseph Kolinski.

Enjoy!

**

 

______

Follow Scott on Twitter:  @scotylang

On running with the Florida bobcats…

MaMaBobcatSitsSo, a week ago today we landed in Vero Beach, Florida, ready to begin work on How To Succeed. The cast got settled into our wonderful living accommodations, and after a cursory glance around town, I had in mind a few different routes I thought I might try to run while I’m here.

I’m in the middle of a Lenten Run Streak where I’m running at least one mile per day, every day, through Easter (I might extend it after the holiday…we’ll see), and finding new routes isn’t always the easiest thing to do when working out of town.

Several of us in the cast are being housed in some newer condos on the west side of the city, which has just recently seen some development into the more “wild frontier” type lands that Florida has away from the coastal habitations.

So, Friday evening after a long day of rehearsal, I decided to venture out a bit from the confines of our beautiful if not slightly regrettable gated community to the main road and beyond.  The main road is relatively quiet, especially at dusk, around 7:00ish.  After a straight shot of a quarter mile or so, I came to a traffic light and took a left.  This direction was sure to take me to some more interesting territory by the look of things.

After another mile, a second intersection presented me with another left onto a road which looked extremely interesting.  I made the left, and within a few hundred yards, bid adieu to the confines of pavement for the much more pleasant dirt road.

It wasn’t very long before I saw a woman walking in my direction with her leashed canine companion heeling very nicely alongside.  I had my earphones in, and was concentrating more on the Dave Matthews Band in my earbuds than what she was attempting to tell me.

“Waaa waaa waaa waaahh, ” she said, as she approached.  I removed my headphones to hear her more clearly.

“Hi! I’m sorry.  What did you say?”

“Watch out for the bobcats up ahead, ” she said rather casually, I thought.

“You mean, like a kids football team?” I answered, trying to amuse. I was sure she would chuckle.  She didn’t.  “Bobcats? Really?”

“Yeah, they come out around this time of night, around dusk.  Also, not too long ago a raccoon got a guy.” Again with the casual.

“Did you say a raccoon got a guy?

“Yeah. There was rabies and everything.  It was terrible.  That’s why I always walk with my dog.  Have a great night!”

“Thanks.  I will.”  I stared for a second in the direction of my certain doom.

How would they break the news to Malisa?  I thought to myself.

“Hello, Mrs. Langdon?  Yes, we have some news.  Your husband…Well, your husband had an encounter with one of our bobcats down here in Florida.  Yeah, actually he was able to evade the feline, but in the end it was the raccoon that got him.”

I turned around, turned on the jets and waved politely to the woman and her dog as I left them in the dust.

I’ll stick to the pavement.

 

____

Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m A Fan Fridays! (Sunday morning edition)

HowtosuceedHey folks!  I’m sorry to have been so neglectful of late.  I’ve been so busy getting ready for this job that I just started the other day.

On Thursday, I flew into Vero Beach, Florida to begin a production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Riverside Theatre (and boy, are my arms tired!!…I know, I know…)

In honor of this Pulitzer Prize winning musical, I’ve decided to share just a clip if this wonderful show.  Here is the Tony Awards performance of the 2011 revival of this classic thing of beauty.  Enjoy!

(And, yes…that is Harry Potter!)

***

______

Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

I’m A Fan Fridays! Get Busy Living…

andy

Welcome to another edition of I’m A Fan Fridays!  Today I’d like to take you to a movie you might know and even might know very well.  I used to teach this film in my Humanities course when I taught at East Brunswick High School some years back.

This film is easily on my Top 5 list, and this scene is perhaps my favorite in the picture.  Hope, even in the midst of the most dire circumstances, is a beautiful thing, and music can remind us of that in ways that few other things can.

If you’ve never seen The Shawshank Redemption, see it immediately.  If you have seen it, then sit back and nibble on this little nugget.  Enjoy!

**

_____

Follow Scott on Twitter:  @scotylang

On calling myself a runner and then claiming it

AREYOUAREALRUNNERI have a hard time owning some things about myself.  I’m middle-aged (something you can define when you’re 25, but find unbelievable difficult to place when you’re 45), I’m balding (ugh…curse you, Bradley Cooper, and your head of hair!), I’m relatively short (but at 5’9” I’m as tall as Tom Cruise, so there’s that!), and I’m a runner.

While I can’t do a thing about the first three, the last thing on that list is something over which I have full control.  I’m a runner because I run.  That’s it.

This winter was very tough for me; I’m not going to lie.  The cold winter months do not suit my constitution, and running on a treadmill just reminds me of the stress test I recently took because I’m, well, middle-aged.

While I agree with those who might argue that any label you allow yourself to be saddled with may not be the best idea, sometimes claiming one or a few just might keep us grounded in a way that having no defining terms about ourselves cannot.  Sometimes labels can direct us toward a purpose or a desire we might have to accomplish a thing.

When I think about the fact that I’m a runner, I realize that, first of all, it’s a label that I’ve chosen, not because I’m a particularly great runner, but because it defines a part of who I am, albeit a very small part.

I’m a runner not because I run but because I say I am.  Then I have to go about living into all of what that label means to me.  Sometimes I get into a slump, and I don’t run for a while.  That happens to some runners, sometimes.  But even if it didn’t, it happens to me, and I’m still a runner.

Carolyn See wrote one of my favorite books on writing I’ve ever read. Making A Literary Life is a wonderful love letter of a book to aspiring writers in which she talks about what it means to be a writer and live a writer’s life. The most obvious thing you must do if you want to be a writer, she points out, is of course, to write!  But, it’s also more than that.  Being a writer is also about living into what you think a writer’s life looks like to you.  She encourages her students to try on the part of a writer.  Dress the part.  Think you are a real writer and then write!  Write with daring and panache as if everyone in the world cannot wait for you to type another brilliant sentence the way only you can.

Now, I may be coming across as if I’m saying that you can label yourself whatever you want and you don’t have to do anything else.  That could not be further from the truth.  If you’re a runner, then you run, because that’s what runners do.

What I am saying is, only you get to claim the labels that define you, and only you decide what the rules are for claiming that label.  Labels can be a good thing, but only when we claim them as our own.  By calling myself a writer, I am compelled to write.  When I put it out there that I’m an actor, I’m compelled to continue to do the best work I can in my chosen career field.  When I refer to myself as a runner, I’m moved to lace up my Brooks Pure Flows and proceed to the day’s route (with shorts and a shirt, of course…no one wants to see my middle-aged self in just the sneakers!).

So, in this day and age where there’s so much pressure to conform to certain labels and to be contained in certain boxes, break free of the constraints by owning who you are and what you do.  Try on a label or two and then live into what that label means to you.

Then, know this…

You are so much more than you could ever define or imagine.  No label you could ever come up with can match what you are worth right now, as you are. You will not be more worthy once you’ve achieved this or that.  You are not “less than” until you’ve reached this goal or that milestone.  Who you are right now is more than enough.

Everything else is just a label.

On trusting blindly–or other people watching our stuff

Strangers shopI was sitting alone at a table in a local coffee shop, working on my laptop while listening to music with my head phones on.  Her slight touch on my shoulder almost startled me, and would have if I hadn’t seen her approach out of the corner of my eye.

“I’m sorry to bother you.  Would you mind watching my stuff for just a minute while I use the restroom?”

“Of course!  No problem!”

And that was that.  An easy thing to do.  No problem.

Then I got to thinking.  Why would she ask me to watch her things?  That MacBook Air is at least a thousand dollar computer; not to mention any important, irreplaceable documents she might have stored on it.  Why ask me?  Why ask anybody?  Do I look that trustworthy?

Come to think of it, I do the same thing sometimes.  I’ll ask a complete stranger to watch my things while I see a man about a horse.  Is it a wise thing to do?  Probably not.

I think what it comes down to is that we want to be able to trust people.  We want to be able to believe that everyone we come in contact with actually believes that following “The Golden Rule” is a good way to go–Do unto others and all that.

I heard a story once from a guy who was in Vienna with his wife.  He and his new bride were from the States and were on vacation in Europe; a belated honeymoon.  They came to St. Stephens church in the middle of the historic downtown when a stranger came up to them and, seeing the camera around the husband’s neck, asked the visiting couple in his broken English if they wanted him to take a picture of the two of them in front of the cathedral.

The husband said, “Sure!  That would be great!”

So the stranger took the camera and started to back up as he looked through the lens, instructing the couple where and how to stand.

“Let me back up more.  I’ll get church better, ” he said.

So, the stranger backed up and backed up until he finally turned and ran away with the camera, never to be seen again.

What struck me when I heard that story was how I was completely with the guy while he was telling it.  Yeah, dude, of course.  You wanted a picture, yeah.  You gave him your camera, sure.  Then what happened?

It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

I’m not sure if I ever want to give up that feeling.