Monday, February 26, 2024

Was She Reality or Just a Tune Stuck in My Head?


Ear Worms can drive you nuts, but fortunately most are songs you liked, except that damned song from the Jardiance commercial that everyone hates. While I am suffering through the repeated playing of my current song, the worst part is that absolutely no one is hearing the same tune or wants to. This is where my blog comes. I can share my current aural infection and find some relief.

The song in question is co-written by Artie Kornfeld and Steve Duboff in 1966. Since I was all of seven years old. It wasn’t one had a specific memory tied to it, at least not then. It is a song from the Happy Together period. During that time, bands like the Association, the Vouges, The Cowsills, Jay and the Americans and the Turtles were getting a lot of airplay. These bands became known for their catchy tunes, unique harmonies, and accessible lyrics about romance and love. 

Just minutes before this record was going to be pressed, there was a bit of drama. Someone thought the original title was a little too close to a song released by Scott McKenzie, even though the original title only contained one word that was the same. So, Kornfield changed the title from The Flower Girl to The Rain, the Park, and Other Things. Given my penchant for titles that only vaguely associate with the written word below it, it was a natural match between me and the song, but there is more. McKenzie’s hit song was San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).

If you listen to the lyrics, they are about a man who sees a girl sitting in the rain and says hello. They take a walk together until the rain stops and the sun comes out. Then she disappears. Throughout the song, he knows she’ll make him happy, that he is happy with her, and even though she left, she has made him happy. But in the last verse, he reveals the whole thing may have just played out in his mind -- “Was she reality, or just a dream to me?” 

I think part of what makes me a storyteller and writer is that I can sit on a bench, see the girl, and imagine a similar storyline. It doesn’t have to happen for the love and happiness to feel real. It is a matter of capturing the moment and the feeling of euphoria that matters.

Aside from the lyrics, the song has some beautiful harmonies which are distinctive of The Cowsill’s sound. The specific recording stuck in my head is a live recording made in 2004. It has less production than the original, and more the feel of something that was performed just for the listener. Someone posted the video on social media and I happened across it. I share that version here, with the warning that if you listen to it, you may end up with this wonderful Ear Worm as well.


Monday, February 19, 2024

Occum's Razor Gets an Update

One of the simplest theoretical theorems to understand is Occam’s Razor. Basically, instead of looking for the most complex solution when trying to determine the cause of an event – keep it simple. If you hear hoofbeats, think horse, not zebra. I propose a new codicil to the Razor: If you zebra stripes next to a parking spot, think No Parking instead of Hey, a stylishly painted parking spot for me

Most often, you’ll see the zebra-painted spaces in the handicap zone next to a regular handicap parking spot. The zebra space exists to allow wheelchair-capable vans with have side ramps with enough space to let the ramp down. This allows a person using a wheelchair to get in or out of the vehicle. It all seems very simple until you realize that some stores, to save money, put a single handicap sign on the open parking space and none for the zebra space. 

I’m guess they’re figuring that everybody knows what it means. You’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t or don’t care. When these uninformed people see an open, unmarked spot close to the door, even though it has zebra markings, they whip their car into the space. To me this is a crime far worse than someone just abusing a handicap spot.

I’ve witnessed a wheelchair user come out to discover some unthinking asshole has parked in the zebra spot blocking their access. Because they can’t let the ramp down, they are trapped until the asshole returns. It’s one thing for an adult to be trapped that way, but what about a child? One who needs to get home to take medication? Or has some other appointment they need to get to but now find themselves trapped for an unknown quantity of time? Asshole indeed.

People who abuse handicap spots irritate me. We’ve all seen that guy who pulls a car into a handicap spot without plates or a placard showing, jumps out, and runs into the store. What’s the handicap? Stupidity? I have a college friend who has permanent handicap plates but seldom uses the space unless available parking is just too distant for them to handle. They must think there are people worse off who need that closer spot more. But zebra spot abuse is more dire and heinous. 

Once, after parking and heading into the store, I walked past a woman who was pulling into the zebra spot. At first, I was just going to let it go, but I walked over to the car as she got out and told her she couldn’t park there because of the zebra stripes. The pushback over the lack of a handicap sign for the specific spot ensued. Fortunately, someone a few slots down started to pull out, and I offered to go stand in the empty spot so that she could move her car. She agreed. I felt good the rest of the day because I had saved the zebra.

Maybe it’s time that Occum go beyond his Razor and add a Zebra Strop. It can remain simple: If you see zebra stripes don’t park. It works for both the slot meant to help the handicap and actual zebras. You shouldn’t be parking on of them either.