Looking for the reset button

resetHad a really good time during the Christmas/ New Year period, which I will write about soon. Temporarily forgot about the backlog at work- more on that down the road.

Already sad about the death of Mario Cuomo, which I wrote about, I did get a bit irritable about some of the commentary from the political left that his actions didn’t always match his rhetoric. As this article suggests, Cuomo knew that politics is the art of the possible. Or as Cuomo put it: “We campaign in poetry but we govern in prose.”

Then, when I got back home, I hear of the death of fellow choir Jimmy Rocco, who I knew and liked; wrote about THAT.

I’m sitting in church Sunday listening to the joys and concerns, when someone noted the sudden death of Sonny Hausgaard on January 3. Did I hear that name right? Yes. Sonny was a member of the board of the Friends of the Albany Public Library, over which I preside. His wife was a friend of one of our church members. This is the first time I looked in the newspaper obits and saw TWO people I knew personally.

Also, I was musing over the death of Edward Brooke on January 3, “the first African American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote and the first Republican senator to call for the resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal,” who died Saturday at the age of 95. “Upon his arrival in Washington, Brooke automatically achieved a number of social firsts, according to his memoirs, integrating both the Senate swimming pool and the Senate barbershop.”

More significant, for black people across the United States, he became “their” unofficial senator when he took office in January 1967. When their own representatives were unresponsive, often because of the vestiges of racism, they well might contact the junior senator from Massachusetts.

I was also saddened, far more than I expected, by the passing of Stuart Scott, the ESPN anchor who brought a “hip hop attitude” – ESPN’s words, not mine – to sport commentary. He was only 49 when he died on January 4. Watching a bunch of grown black men, usually, former athletes such as Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson, holding back tears, saying that Stuart let them know they had a role model so that they could be themselves, was surprisingly affecting. I had not realized that this was Scott’s THIRD bout with cancer, going back to 2007.

Instead of dealing with stuff I should have been addressing – paying bills, ABC Wednesday stuff, Black History Month organizing at church, Olin reunion, library lobby day, etc. – I was e-mailing the Friends to make sure they knew of Sonny’s death, planning to take off Wednesday morning (today) for Jimmy’s funeral, and in general, feeling more than a little discombobulated.

I may just throw the first week of 2015 on the 2014 bonfire and start anew. Perhaps I need to look at those good news sites Arthur was talking about, but suddenly I haven’t got the time. Hmm, feel like I’m crankier lately in this blog; this Alberta clipper cold snap (blame Canada!) we’re currently experiencing does NOT help.
Bess Myerson died back on December 14, though it wasn’t revealed until recently. I knew her best as a panelist on the game show I’ve Got A Secret, but she came into prominence as the first Miss America who was Jewish. She wouldn’t change her name to something less “ethnic”; I always admired that. She had later difficulties in NYC government and in her personal life, unfortunately.

Jimmy Rocco

Jim Rocco and I talked about the Beatles, a LOT.

 Jim Rocco, 10/06/2010. (Michael P. Farrell / Times Union) Used with permission.l
Jim Rocco, 10/06/2010. (Michael P. Farrell / Times Union) Used with permission

Long before he joined the chancel choir at First Presbyterian Church in Albany as a fellow bass, I would see Jim Rocco at the choir parties a couple of times a year with his wife Deb, our soprano soloist and section leader.

Inevitably, he and I would gravitate towards each other, no small task in a crowded space, and talk music. No, not the sacred music we tended to sing together every week.

Instead, we would talk about rock and roll, specifically the music of the 1960s. He would impress me with his arcane knowledge of obscure bands and records. Occasionally, I could surprise him with some bit of trivia that I knew.

We talked about the Beatles, a LOT. I attended one of those events at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady where Scott Freiman explained the background of many of the songs on the white album. He had gone to a similar Deconstructing the Beatles session for an earlier LP, probably Sgt. Pepper or Revolver.

He loved playing the drums, and had for a very long time, as this 2010 article about the reunion of his high school band, the Chord-A-Roys, will attest.

Jim had participated in several church productions, especially those involving the kids. One of the last times I saw him was in the fall of 2013 when he was on the drums, naturally, for a production at the Steamer No. 10 theater. He was feeling unwell, as though he had broken some ribs, but was still doing the gig because he loved playing.

When we talked, he had not yet been diagnosed with cancer, which involved various treatments over several months that seemed to be working for a time. I’ve missed not seeing him in 2014, as much of his treatment took place in Arizona.

Jim Rocco passed away on Friday, January 2, 2015. Those of us who knew him feel a tremendous sadness at losing him. He was a great guy.
The Times Union obit.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial