New Vistas…

Greetings from Portland, Maine.

Almost exactly two years ago, Covid almost took me out.
Laying in an ICU bed struggling for every breath,
I began to think about my bucket list.
I don’t know if you have a list but I suspect that you do. Most people I know have a wish list for their lives and as you get older you begin to think about a concept called QTR: or quality time remaining. How do you want to spend the time you might have remaining, knowing of course, that nothing is guaranteed?
After all, I never dreamt my life might end as a result of a virus discovered in a Wuhan, China wet market.
So as I lay there wondering if I’d ever go home, I began to think.
What did I want to do with my quality time remaining if I was granted a Covid reprieve?
My list was relatively short and I think fairly modest: an escape place in Maine and another golden retriever.
Oh, there’s many other things I aspire to do in business and life and I’m out there trying, but time in New England away from the Florida heat and humidity and falling for another golden were at the top of my list.
And thanks to my wife Diane, both have happened.
I’m very grateful. Especially for Diane and for Gracie, our beautiful golden and our new townhouse tucked in the woods in the West End of Portland.
So,  I urge you, my friends, to find your bliss and go for it, if it all possible.
Because life is fragile and time is finite and self care is important.
This blog consistently extols the importance of community and giving back and that’s something I try to do and enjoy doing.
But in order to give, we have to have gas in our tanks and sometimes we need to replenish.
For me, stepping away for a few weeks is a start. The change of scenery has been good so far.
You see new things, breathe different air and you feel your perspective change.
Of course, I miss my friends and my favorite haunts but I’m going to lobby my friends to visit and missing those favorite places only makes me appreciate them even more.
So I encourage you to think about your QTR and to try to make the best of your days.
Today, more than ever, it’s easy to stay connected to home, work, loved ones etc. But it’s also important to refuel, renew and restore.
I wish you all three and abundant health as well.

Riot, Redemption & Rock n’ Roll

Great documentary with a guest appearance by Delray’s own Max Weinberg.

We went to Ipic last week to see a new documentary Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n’ Roll.

Nestled in our cozy “pod” with a pillow, blanket and a glass of wine after a long day,  it would have been tempting to nod off but the movie grabbed us from the opening frame and held us through the mini concert at the end.

Having been to Asbury Park last summer it was extra interesting because we recognized streets,  buildings and iconic landmarks.

Asbury Park—all of one square mile—looms large in our national consciousness because of its history and musical roots. This little town punches far above its weight.

In the 60s, the place crackled with amazing music. All of the big acts—The Stones, Hendrix, The Who, The Byrds—played the convention hall sometimes on the same bill all for $5 a ticket.
Can you imagine?

But just as compelling was the local music scene with clubs like the Upstage, The Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar attracting local legends such as Bruce Springsteen, Miami Steve Van Zandt and Southside Johnny.

It was a special and magical time that came to a crashing end with the riots of  July 1970.
The redemption comes later, with the redevelopment of Asbury again driven in large part driven by music.

It’s a great story. And if you love cities and music this is a must see film.

I’ve been thinking about the documentary ever since and the instant attachment I felt to the area when we visited. I’m a Springsteen fanatic and to walk the boardwalk and see the sights that inspired my favorite songwriter was a real thrill.
As a student of cities, I also admire how Asbury leveraged its strengths and brand to launch an impressive comeback.

The riots took a huge toll on the town’s economy and soul and was sparked by racial tensions that seethed between east Asbury and the west side of town. Because despite the vibrant music scene and the throngs of tourists who were flocking to the shore the people on the west side of town were lacking jobs, quality housing and recreational opportunities. Tensions may build slowly, but when they explode the impacts can last years. In Asbury’s case, the damage caused by the riots lasted decades.

The documentary confronts the issues head on and also shows the terrible toll that violence, inequality, racism and poverty takes on a town until one day, sparked by something minor it all unravels.
There are lessons there.

Springsteen, sitting in the ruins of a former club where he played, talks about the riots as something that perhaps “had to happen.”
Maybe, I suppose.

But isn’t it sad that things have to boil over into violence and destruction before people eventually focus on what needs to be done.

The movie praises Asbury Park for its redemption and seems to strongly indicate that things are different today with care being taken to avoid and or confront some of the mistakes of the past and not repeat them.

I don’t know enough about Asbury to know whether that’s true. But it does seem that once again music is leading the way—with schools focused on bringing east and west together through music and the Asbury Film and Music Festival positioned as a major cultural force that bring tourist dollars back to town.

We loved our stay in Asbury—the restaurants were awesome, the music scene was lively and the beach was beautiful. So were the neighborhoods which seems to be attracting urban pioneers and creatives.
If you’re in the area, visit. The Jersey Shore is a lot more than Snooki and “The Situation.”
It’s a place of magical history, enduring music and cultural importance. If you can’t, check out the documentary it’s special.