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Entries from June 2010

Maria Murnane–Author of Perfect on Paper

June 7th, 2010 · Comments

Tags: DefaultTag · relationships · books · love · persistence

BEA–Karen Morgan

June 7th, 2010 · Comments

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Serendipitous Encounters–A Chat with Jon Regen

June 6th, 2010 · Comments

I arrived at JFK International Airport just before midnight on Sunday morning. The familiar feel of humid summer air, the rows and rows of taxis and the sounds of honking horns were music to my soul and affirmed the fact that I had arrived in New York City. Alex, my brother-like- friend who came into my life at Saitama High School right outside of Tokyo after we each received Kikkoman Soy Sauce Scholarships more than a decade earlier, was waiting outside for me. As we began driving toward Long Island in the wee hours of the morning, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty about accepting my friend’s hospitality at such a late/early hour of the day and even questioning if it was the “right” decision to leave the city. True to my writer’s mantra, it was of course ‘right’ and better than anything I could have planned.

After a few rounds of drinks and a case of the late night munchies, I retreated to my loft just before 4:30am. Several hours later, we grabbed breakfast at a diner and were en route to Sparkling Point Vineyard more than an hour away. Alex’s friend, who is a Steinway Piano sales rep, had organized a special event where a jazz pianist and singer named Jon Regen was playing. I’ll admit that while I’ve slowly come to acquire a taste for jazz, I was much more excited about sipping vino with friends than I was about hearing the musician. But, while sitting outside the perfectly green winery, sipping on champagne, I couldn’t’ help but tune into the music that set the ambiance. There was something charming about the music that Jon Regen was playing and singing, prompting me to purchase one of his cds. I would have been happy just to purchase a cd and give it away as a gift, but the wine servers searched for a pen and insisted I get Jon’s autograph. Since Jon was done playing for the day, I decided to squeeze in a quick interview with him. Struggling to hold back his Bronchitus-induced cough, Jon shared his story.

Turns out, the now 40-year old musician took up singing only seven years earlier, when he noticed that conventional jazz just didn’t capture his experience as a man, as a hopeless romantic or as an artist.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to capture the human experience in a three minute song,” Jon said.

“And, what is it that inspires the content of the songs?” I began asking. But before I could finish the question, Jon responded.

“Girls,” he said with a smile.

Jon described how the imperfections of relationships, combined with the strain his traveling musician career puts on relationships, inspires his song writing. As a serial dater, who compares men to shoes (I love both men and shoes, but have yet to find one of either that goes with all aspects of life) and have come to embrace relationships as the inspiration for writing projects and trips around the world to pursue random journalism projects, attend weddings of commitment-prone friends and continue to gather more stories, I found Jon to be a person of my own heart. I took Jon’s cds back to my tiny room in the Paramount hotel in New York City that I shared with my parents. And, the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been in a serious relationship with Jon’s music ever since. True to Jon’s words, each of his songs is a musical story about a phase of love—the beginning, the end, the starting over phase, the forgetting and moving on part and the longing part—that anyone whose ever experienced a relationship or a heartbreak can connect with. To get a sense of who the man behind the music is, listen to Jon’s interview.

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Serendipity in New York City–Eddie Fisher from One Republic

June 4th, 2010 · Comments

New York. It is a city of rhythm, a city of change, a city that never sleeps, a city of serendipitous opportunities.

Every year, I come here alone for the Book Expo, fly into Wisconsin to enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend with my family and then head back to California. This year, I changed things up a little bit. When my 69-year old mother shared that she hoped to visit New York in her lifetime, I suggested that she and my father join me. I broke my tradition of staying in the New Yorker and instead booked us a room right in the center of time square that happened to be just bigger than a box. We had our normal share of ups and downs—I sometimes lacked the kind of patience that is required for a mother with a hurt ankle and weak knee that requires her to carry her cane just in case she needs it and with a father who gets motion sickness in a cab and walks through midtown Manhattan vomiting into a bag and then explains to anyone who will listen that he has a bad stomach. But, at the end of the day, I feel like my parents shared a piece of my dream with me. I had opportunities that I wouldn’t have had without my parents being here with me. My mom shared a cab with a publicist from a company that I consider a perfect. I wouldn’t have known to research the publisher, if not for my mom having her serendipitous cab encounter. I went to see a play, which I wouldn’t have done on my own. And, I had a chance to enjoy meals with my parents every evening. Given that I am single and live 2,000 miles away from my parents, meals together are not something that I take for granted. After so many shared experiences with my parents, I contemplated foregoing my usual tradition of going home for a long weekend to have some more time in the city to write and breath. While contemplating my sister called and put my four-month old niece on the phone. Hearing my niece make her silly baby noises was all it took for me to know that I needed to get on the plane along with my parents and head back to Wisconsin. I packed, went to bed and woke up before 6am, so I could have one last breakfast in my favorite café, one last walk and bid the city farewell until my next visit.

But, the universe clearly had something else in mind for me that day. When I walked by Rockafeller Plaza, I noticed that it was all set up for a concert and One Republic was in the midst of its early morning rehearsal. I decided to go in for a while and strategically found a spot, which happened to be right beside Eddie Fisher and his drum set. I couldn’t be standing so close to the drummer of One Republic and not ask for an interview so I did it. His polite “yes” was music to my ears.

The 36-year old is humble and takes nothing for granted. In the process of pursing his dream of being a drummer, Eddie lost a marriage and spent time living on the streets. As he puts it though, dreams aren’t supposed to be easy to accomplish. And if you want your dream to happen, you’re going to have to follow it and make it happen, because it’s not coming to you. It was the most insightful five minute interview I’ve ever done and was the perfect way to end my week in NYC. I pushed the button on my zoom to listen to the masterpiece to find that it had not recorded. As I contemplated what to do, Eddie’s words ‘dreams don’t just happen, you have to make them happen,’ replayed in my head. I sucked up my pride and caught Eddie just before his group went live to ask if we could do a 3-minute repeat after his set and he graciously agreed. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and the minutes separating me from my departure time were diminishing. After Eddie finished his set, he autographed and took pictures with fans, as her responded to my questions with a microphone in his place. Right after Eddie’s interview, I spotted the infamous “Lenny,” the man who shows up on the Today Show every single day. I interviewed him one year earlier, but neglected to take his picture. I repeated Lenny’s interview, took his picture and headed back to my hotel to grab my luggage and sprint to the airport. And, to make a long story short, it was in fact too late.

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June 4th, 2010 · Comments

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