“Those Blue River Skies”
A lazy day, laying back in a hammock on a front porch somewhere with a cold beer and the Yankees game on the radio, trying not to drift off to sleep with the Yanks two runs down in the bottom of the seventh is one pleasant way to spend a summer day. Well it would be if I lived somewhere with a porch, a yard, a hammock or a portable radio for that matter instead of a cramped New York City apartment. Such is life though, so those lazy summer days are actually spent with the air conditioner cranked to the max with the Yankees on the TV and some electronic distraction device in my hands and a fear of melting if I actually do venture outside for so much as a pint of milk from the store. Curiously enough the beer remains part of the equation however. As I write this in early March with winter dragging interminably on, I will admit to longing for a little dose of that summer heat right now. Of course as a friend of mine pointed out to me recently, when summer is at its height, and the Sahara Desert sounds more inviting than a descent down into the NYC subways to head somewhere, the mind will switch gears and think, wouldn’t it be nice to have some cool weather right now and be able to wear a jacket? Such is human nature I suppose, but in any case, summer has been on my mind recently. As usual with me, it is aided by both music and photography.
When I am actually able to escape the city and get out for a vacation, a long weekend visiting friends or camping, or even just a daytrip it always involves those two things together inevitably. The photography side is because I always take my cameras with me in a continuing quest to find interesting things outside of my normal routine. The photographs in this installment are but a small example of that. The one constant in all of them is that they were all taken in the summer and taken on trips just as I describe. The music because well, it accompanies me everywhere I go as I mentioned in Part 4 and there is nothing like getting out on the road with some good music. It is another aspect of summer I enjoy, along with laying back in that hammock. Thinking back, I think I know where that all must have started for me, and it goes back to my youth.
“Playing on a tree where the rope swings tied around, like most kids, just like most kids”
As I was preparing this installment I suddenly had a fleeting memory of growing up in Demarest, New Jersey in the 1970s and riding my bike to school when the weather was good. After school we would ride to the candy store in town for a coke and some candy usually. Later that changed to a coke and a slice of pizza, using the change for the heady days of video games like Pac Man, Space Invaders, or Astro Blaster. Slightly later still that changed once again to the humble beginnings of my working life with that most noble of professions, the paperboy. Though the distances travelled on that bike to these places seemed great at the time in reality it was at best never more than a mile or two at any given point, especially in the small town of Demarest. But there was one accessory that was de rigueur on a bike in those years- the transistor radio. I seem to recall the bright red Radio Shack transistor radio with such superior technology features as “On/Off Volume Dial”,” Convenient AM/FM Tuning Selector”, and of course the coup de grace “Handy Vinyl Wrist Strap Securely Attached.” Actually the wrist strap did come in handy when you only had the actual transistor radio and not the “Bike Mounted Transistor Radio” that the rich kids had, which clipped either on that bar on your BMX bike between the handlebars where a numbered plate usually went (thereby making your bike look like a motorcycle in some off road race in the mud) or on the crossbar. For me though it was that plain old red transistor radio with the vinyl strap slung over the “racing style” grip that the BMX bicycles had, which when no one was looking you pretended was a real motorcycle, and you clutched that grip as if you were on a motorcycle, changing gears and making the potatopotatopotato motorcycle rumble sound in your head. Admit it, you did it. Anyway, you would tune the radio to your station of choice, which in the 70’s was still AM mostly I seem to recall, sling the strap over the grip on your bike, and be on your way with your musical accompaniment of a tinny mono speaker blasting out the hit records of the day.