Say Hello 2 Heaven Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman

I hopped in the back of pick-up truck and sped toward Manhattan for the much anticipated Guns N' Roses concert. We had just finished our shifts at IHOP and two of the waitresses had changed out of their blue plaid frocks into fishnet tights and black leather jackets. Their lips were painted ruby red and their friends provided the transportation along with a case of beer. One of my fellow refugees was not going for Guns, he was going to see the opening band Soundgarden. He had on a Badmotorfinger t-shirt that was well worn.

Chris Cornell performs in 1992.

That concert was my introduction to Soundgarden and the emerging Seattle music scene. I can still hear Chris Cornell shake the walls of Madison Square Garden as my neck snapped back and forth with each passing rocker chick who left nothing to my teenage imagination. I would hear that same booming voice again some years later when Audioslave played atop the marquee of The Late Show with David Letterman  and shook the neighboring building were I worked 32 stories above.

News of Chris Cornell's passing was shocking. He was the beacon that led the way for the tumultuous talent in flannel shirts who occupied the nation from coast to coast for more than a decade. Chris Cornell had a voice. Not only to shake the concrete walls where he performed, but also to carry the beleaguered hearts of his generation. His lament for the loss of his friend Andrew Wood on the Temple of the Dog album is eerie as it is a fitting eulogy for himself: There's just one thing left to be said, Say hello to heaven.

There's Nobody Left to Run With Anymore

With zero time to comprehend the loss of Chris Cornell, we were hit with the passing of Gregg Allman. I've lost count of how many Allman Brothers shows I've seen and how transported I was at each one across each state I visited. There is one show that stands out. It was not due to the sheer power of Gregg Allman's voice, rather it was due to its absence.

Gregg Allman and Cher circa 1975.

It was late morning in the summer of 1995 when my phone rang. My friend broke the news that Jerry Garcia had passed. I met my friend at our familiar spot and friends dropped by at various times to grieve the loss along with us. We went to the Allman Brothers show that night at Jones Beach where the crowd was in a somber mood. 

The Allman Brothers took the stage and Dickey Betts addressed the crowd by saying, "We lost a brother today." It soon became apparent that Gregg Allman had lost his voice, so the band played many of the songs Dickey sang including Ramblin Man which they had retired after its chart topping success. The Black Crowes were in town and the Robinson brothers joined the band for a spirited rendition of Southbound. Gregg did manage to to sing No One to Run With that featured a montage of fallen musicians with the recently added Jerry Garcia. 

As I look at my music shelf, a good percentage of it comprises Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman records. The impact these musicians had on my life can be measured in decades. I take comfort in knowing they left behind many recordings and I imagine the choir of angels has gotten even better.    

Tire

When my life does expire
my poems will roll on like a tire
even though the words
and thoughts aren't new
the arrangements will give people 
something to chew on and on
as the threads become smooth
the next generation will feel my groove 
and light their own fire
with ditties that inspire 
as they roll on like a steel-belted tire.

Tire by D.W. Dowling (Meredith M. 1998)

Other poems:

Made in the USA

Buying products that are made in the USA has long been a passion of mine. It can be a challenge sometimes as these products may not be easy to find or may not be made here anymore. In categories such as autos, shoes and clothes, there are many wonderful American manufacturers to choose from. While price can sometimes be more than foreign counterparts, I find the quality of American products is worth it with the added benefit of supporting jobs here. 

From the coffee I drink, to the car I drive, there are numerous opportunities to buy well-made products that are manufactured in the USA. Here are a few examples in men's wardrobe:


Shinola Men's Watches


The Runwell Chrono by Shinola

Randolph Engineering Sunglasses


Aviator by Randolph Engineering

Hickey Freeman Suit


Navy Chalk Stripe Tasmanian Suit by Hickey Freeman

American Trench Socks


Pima Cotton Houndstooth Socks by American Trench

Rancourt & Co. Shoes 


Blake Wingtip by Rancourt & Co.

Try any one of these products when it comes time for your next purchase, not only will you feel good about it, you'll look sharp.


Writers on the Storm

The legendary editor of Charles Scribner's Sons, Maxwell Perkins, worked with writers who became legends such as Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. None of these men knew celebrity until their first novel was published.

Back then, publishers invested in writers who could build careers. They paid modest advances and worked together to produce literature that could achieve commercial success. Some books would flop, others would yield a modest return, and some would be gigantic best-sellers. The best-sellers would fund the enterprise.

George R.R. Martin

Publishing has changed since then.

An unknown writer presents undue risk to a publisher. To achieve profit they must invest in those titles the industry will support as best-sellers. That said, a writer with an established audience has leverage. For example, the Obamas were awarded a $60 million contract from Penguin Random House for the President's and the First Lady's memoirs. A safe bet by any calculation, but the pendulum for today's writers can swing both ways. 

With a bona fide hit out of the gate, the pressure to follow it up can be overwhelming. One way writers can avoid the sophomore jinx is through a series that rolls like a snowball down a hill such as Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. Of course, a writer can become the series themselves such as Stephen King, Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Since many of the commercially successful books are wonderful pieces of literature, too, where does it leave today's aspiring writers?

J.K. Rowling

While the business of publishing has evolved with the marketplace, the marketplace has itself become more accessible. Backing from a publisher with promotion and distribution can smooth the path to fortune and fame, but it's never an easy path. It's a howling storm out there and writers must put on their boots, fasten their coats, hold on to their hats, and trudge along.