Mike Kolasky was seated at his desk in the basement of The Orrville Journal office in Northeast Ohio when he asked if I knew how to spell the word ‘February.’
“I was born in February,” I replied.
He glanced at his computer screen and then to me, and back again, with one hand on his chin. Mike always had a calm Zen-like presence from what I remember, and those sort of memories remain with me all these years later.
There was not much else to be said that particular day. I quickly realized he was editing a story I’d just written, one that was likely littered with typos and run-on sentences. I told myself I’d never be so careless again.
Two years ago I recruited two of my younger brothers to record a hip-hop song. It was a hectic process at times, but the track turned out well. I tell the behind-the-scenes story of that process in the latest edition of the Mass Chatter podcast.
Joel recently recorded and added musical elements to a song performed by a young female vocalist at his home studio. He shares that recording process and how he lucked out while tweaking the track on a rainy day.
Life continues to be consumed by local sports writing for me. And I absolutely love that I’m able to make a living doing something I’m passionate about.
But during those moments not spent in a sports state of mind, I’m usually running around with my family, digging through my music collection or attending some sort of live event.
That’s where a new podcast collaboration with Joel Martinez comes into play. We’ll be talking about those sorts of things on a weekly basis beginning in January.
Until then, enjoy the debut episode of Mass Chatter. You’ll be introduced to us through the highs and lows we’ve experienced over the years during the holiday season. The episode features stories about a home-made haunted house, backyard football, and a Christmas tree left in the front lawn.
My guy Swamburger was offering a holiday special on hip-hop beats and I felt the time was right to make a move on the offer. The intent was to have two of my younger brothers put together a complete song, something I figured they’d be suitable for after so much time spent rocking the 8-track recorder without much direction up north.
So I sat with Swam for an hour, nodding my head and making facial expressions as he fleshed out an instrumental. Then I sent it to Ohio for Arron and Jayson to begin putting their pieces in place.
Jayson drove to Orlando two weeks later ready to roll with two verses sometime in late January/early February. Arron flew down with no idea what he was planning to record, which I guess could be considered both a gift and a curse depending on your viewpoint.
All I did was figure out words for the intro and hook, and guide the creative direction.
Check out the track “Matters of the Mind” by clicking here on the link or hitting the play button below. Leave a comment and let us know what you think. And stay tuned because more music is on the way later this year.
Back in 2012 an album came out that truly got me excited about hip hop again.
A white guy from New York and a black guy from Atlanta, each from different spectrums of the same genre, joined forces to collaborate and plant their freak flag in the middle of a cookie-cutter music industry.
I’ve since come to realize that what makes the 12 tracks on R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike so impressive is not only the atypical production style of El-P, but the passion and sincerity with which the leading character delivers his commentary.
I was in my early teens when dad loaded us up and headed for the outer banks of North Carolina. The vacation rental was stocked with a record player and piles of albums with speakers in all corners of the house.
It was the self-titled debut by The Doors that I remember spinning the most that week.
I’ve since analyzed the band’s career over the ensuing years, long after my 15-year old former self was making out in a theatre during the Oliver Stone film or was initially inspired to scribble poetic drivel of my own.
And so last week while binge listening to The Doors I solicited people for their favorite songs via Facebook and text. I was only slightly taken aback by the responses as not many veered from the typical selections.
Sports fans in Cleveland will settle for a championship any way they can get it.
Even if it comes by way of the city’s NBA team as opposed to their beloved NFL Browns.
Even if it comes via the help of the greatest player in the world, who several years back went on national television and publicly embarrassed the region when he took his ball and won titles elsewhere.
But again, make no mistake, you take the sweet taste of success any way you can get it.
It was at the conclusion of The Big Kahuna many years back when I first heard the inspirational spoken word track “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann.
The words were apparently written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, who offered up some sound advice for graduating teens preparing to embark on the next phase of their lives.
It’s likely many of those same teenagers, now closing in on 40, wish they would’ve actually taken those words to heart.
The Big Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, had already riddled my mind by the time this piece of prose began. It served as a worthy backdrop to DeVito packing up his belongings in a hotel room and Spacey checking out at the front desk as each prepared to move along to live another day, ever the wiser for their experiences.
My grandfather has lived through the deaths of nearly everybody he’e ever known over the years. He turns 80 years old this July.
We often chat about this very topic over vodka and tonic each time he makes his annual trip south to pay me a visit. I’ve come to terms with the reality that I’ll be sitting in his seat decades from now sharing similar stories.
If it’s not the recent passing of pop culture figures I’ve grown up with in some form or fashion, such as David Bowie or Prince, it’s the moms and dads of friends who’ve been laying to rest for the final time over the past few months.
Just a couple of days after it was published Skinner was put in the intensive care unit after going into septic shock. An infection was discovered, then more than a week later he was flown by air ambulance to Dallas in hopes of undergoing a previously planned experimental treatment.