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FOTOFRIDAY: I Voted

Posted on: Friday, October 30th, 2020
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • Did you?

I may look pleased with my-selfie, but…

Voting isn’t easy in 2020. Nothing is. Seems like we were always told to vote. Vote Vote Vote! That’s still the message, but…why is this so hard?

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Live Music Lives On!

Posted on: Friday, October 23rd, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

  • What will you be doing at age 92?

When it comes to Wily Marketing, few businesses can compete with Crooners, a large jazz club here in the ‘burbs. (Yes, the ‘burbs!) They’ve found ways to keep open, keep the conviviality flowing, and keep the musicians working—much to the glee of the socially-distanced, sell-out audiences. Their latest innovation: The tent.

Last week, at age 92, the Marvelous Marilyn Maye filled the big-top for 5 nights with world-class music, spontaneous and spot-on humor, and enough Covid-may-care charisma to leave the audiences deliciously, if temporarily, filled with faith. Don’t believe me? Peruse this rave review from the Star Tribune’s seen-it-all critic.

I sit in awe during her shows. And I’ve seen, oh, 55? 95? Because I spent a few summers working a club in Okoboji, where she played—and has for 64 years—2020 being the first miss since the run started. She also plays fine venues all over including in NYC, Palm Springs, and (in the day) Johnny Carson’s show a record 76 times. No wonder I still show up giddy.

A silly pandemic couldn’t stop her from a five-night run at Crooners. She even flew in her favorite but often-unavailable pianist (since he also accompanies starry names like Liza and Bette), Mr. Billy Stritch. Never heard of him? Just trust me when I say he’s the best. And their harmonious chemistry makes your heart pound.

So…YES! Life goes on. Mini-musical-BreakAways can still happen. My obsession with live performance (best served live with good friends and red wine) has not died of C-19. And there are still savvy establishments like Crooners that won’t shut down, and won’t shut up. Instead, they throw up a tent and invite everyone inside.

Marilyn and Band remind us to fight the fear, support your loves and causes, and of course, to…

Keep the faith.

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America’s REAL Divide Is $$$$

Posted on: Monday, October 12th, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Rants & Roadkill, Spendology | Leave a comment

GUEST POST: Today’s thoughts come from our old mentor and friend, The Armchair Economist. It’s been a while, so we’re honored he’s back. His resume and accolades would not fit on our pages—nor even the internet. So we again welcome his incomparable expertise and vital voice for this treatise on the challenges of BreakAways in current economic conditions.

  • America’s Haves Vs. Have-Nots Is Now in Stark Black-and-White

As Submitted by The Armchair Economist

My friends! I cannot sit back in silence on my luxurious llama leather recliner sipping Louis XIII Cognac while brushing up on my John Locke any longer. Please pay attention. Or a revolution like we’ve never seen since the 1770s may be an inevitable consequence.

Consider our record unemployment. Government aid in the trillions. Lavish bailouts for corporations, airlines, and most any big-ish business that knows how to play the game and liquor up lobbyists. A few honest syndicates sheepishly returned their mega millions. But most kept the cash despite often churning profits, perhaps chuckling between griping about government over-reach and lazy laborers accepting handouts rather than “gittin’ back to work,” even if it also might mean gittin’ sick.

Generalizations? Perhaps. But maybe not. And with those dispiriting variables as our backdrop, the Armchair Economist is displeased to announce that…

  • The wealth gap is bigger than ever before

According to my friends at the Fed (WE can’t make this stuff up), the pandemic-downturn has actually helped the haves—because they are unable to spend lavishly in their beloved parlors, country clubs, restaurants, and opera houses. Sadly, their diminished patronage equates to lost livelihoods for millions of waiters, chamber maids, and pedicurists.

(Oh, and many investments like the stock market and real estate are doing swimmingly, thank you very much.)

  • Need proof of the disparity?

The top 1% now holds a record high 40% of US assets

The bottom 50% now shares a record low 2% of the nation’s wealth

Inequality will likely worsen as more workers lose jobs while the affluent keep raking it in yet cannot resume their conspicuous-consumption, jet-set ways

  • So how does that hit home?

1 in 3 Americans are having a tough time paying basic living expenses

~10 million are behind or at risk of making their mortgage or rent

1 in 4 adults expect someone in their household to have less $ over the next month

So my friends, please don’t underestimate the dire consequences of these inequities. This holiday season may make Mr. Scrooge’s bleak fable look lush. Homeless villages may come to resemble India’s slums, not just tents in parks. Beggars on corners may battle over worthy intersections.

  • Who cares?

But who cares? That’s an intellectually, if immorally, puzzling question. And that’s what troubles this scholar and embarrassingly successful capitalist…who DOES care. And will vote. And will donate bazillions to the kindly causes that try to fight back against SuperTanker FilthyRich. But we need more than that—more resources, more action, more…fair and balanced humanity.

After all, for example, my very close personal friend Kirk, your Curator and Host here at BreakAway, simply wants everyone to get healthful, meaningful, time off. To take care of their loved ones. To get out of town—or tent. And to see the world (or a slice of it), whatever that may mean to the individualist, as allowed and affordable and safe. Everyone wins—even the proverbial property owners whose profits may depend on those of lower class (caste?) having coinage with which to splurge on simple pleasures.

Any alternative could get ugly. And who wants to experience unrest (what an understatement!) and stupid plundering if the working class can’t afford proper anger management courses while the rich and classless keep getting richer?

  • In conclusion…

Here’s the hardest part: There’s enough for everyone. At least in this land (is your land, is my land). Unless the greedy build even bigger walls than that one Mexico kindly built for us. And refuse to share their many toys, like so many spoilt brats.

That sounds like no fun, for anyone. Let’s hope we’re BIGGER…than that. All of us. And that the 1% with 40% realizes the slimy slope between lucky success and greedy narcissism. Otherwise, well, the tea may get dumped in the harbor. And frankly, it’s already dirty.

The economy—and possibly CIVILization as we know it—are in the imbalance.

As Mr. Horsted would say, and I try to repeat as my mantra, “Keep the faith.”

“Those least able to shoulder the burden have been the hardest hit.”

— Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

* * * * * SOURCES ARE ONGOING BUT HEREIN INCLUDE…

The Fed

Census Bureau Weekly Pulse Survey 

https://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/us-household-wealth-hits-record-even-as-economy-struggles/XSYAV7HE3BBI5NCLIAXRYTYBAU/

https://www.startribune.com/median-households-made-gains-but-the-large-wealth-gap-remained-data-show/572569632/

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FOTOFRIDAY: Back to School?

Posted on: Friday, September 25th, 2020
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  • The ultimate 4-year BreakAway? College!

As a one-time college teacher/preacher (and student, many times), I have forever soapboxed about the sacred value of the college BreakAway. It’s the ultimate experience, after all, combining learning, relationship-building, tradition, experimentation, and so much more (whatever you make of it!).

In the College BreakAway Gospel, here are some important commandments: Stay in the same place for 4 years (but do off-campus opportunities); focus on friends and teachers and people; open your mind and try new things; do MUCH MORE than simply studies (sports, music, volunteering, leadership); make memories of all kinds and places; amp up your values and ethics; learn to write.

If you follow that advice, it’s amazing what a $70K tuition (more or less) can buy you these days. All the above, one hopes. And if you’re really lucky, enough hand sanitizer to last until the next…pandemic? Or at least graduation day.

Life is good for my daughter, a senior in high school—today’s sur-realities notwithstanding. Yet doing the college search and visits campaign has become increasingly complex (and it’s never been easy). Interested in playing a sport and wanting to attend the showcase camps, tourneys, and events—where the matchmaking usually occurs? Good luck with that. They’ve been cancelled since March, leaving athletes and teams in suspenseful hesitation. With no clear end or solution in sight.

But we have managed a few presentations, tours, meetings, and walk-arounds. At one university—which had delayed bringing students to campus—we stumbled upon these tons of hand sanitizer. They’re ready for the onslaught of co-eds, contagions, and fate.

So keep the fate. I mean faith. As College Preacher Kirk also says, the process is always strenuous and stressful. But a perfect-enough match usually transpires in the end somehow.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Remember Global Warming?

Posted on: Friday, September 25th, 2020
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  • So Many Crises, So Little Time

To get to the the point: When we are able to travel again, I suggest you brush off that bucket list, save some jingle, and prioritize trips to your sacred natural spaces. Because they are fading fast.

In my life, snorkeling among the stunning coral, fish, and other critters fills favorite memories. Perfect meditation + exercise. But I can testify that, since I started going to the Virgin Islands in the 80s, the difference is depressingly obvious. Like, at least 75% of the sea treasures are either gone, depleted, or bleached.

Above, these geese are lounging in a city park near where I live. My guess is, not many years ago, that pond wasn’t covered in green scum. Oh sure, we’re all haunted by Covid, elections, violent divisiveness, and such. But when (if?) those issues resolve themselves, I hope the world gets serious about saving, well, the world.

Because many of us still have so much to see, in so little time.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Fall = Best BreakAways  : )

Posted on: Friday, September 11th, 2020
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • Maybe Next Year : /

Lotsa folks call fall their favorite season. They seem to get excited about cooler temps, changing colors, a forgotten sweatshirt. Me? Some nickname me “The Summer Guy.” So fall means the end of swims, boats, gardens, and easy-breezy outdoor lounging. I won’t even go into the raking labors and that first ice storm.

However, I do believe fall may be the ideal travel season. Heck, if you go somewhere warmer, it’s still summer! And if you head somewhere trendy and touristy, those swarms have usually flown back where they came from.

I found myself in Europe during the fall of 2000, as part of a 4-month RTW trip. Putin was in Paris on this particular Saturday night. So, well, the place was nuts: Security everywhere, parking nowhere, a seat in a restaurant unthinkable. Until 1:30 in the morning, that is, when my friend and I found both parking and dining.

Without question, that sole meuniere was the best I’ve ever had, well worth the wait. And a long evening of driving all around Paris with no worries and ample time? Unforgettable. The sights were glowing. The people-watching fascinating. And the weather? Picture perfect.

Alas, most of us aren’t going far this fall. Still, happy autumn and…keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Frightful Future

Posted on: Friday, August 28th, 2020
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  • Happy Halloween!?!

BreakAways come in all forms. For kids—and for adults who like to don a costume and party—Halloween offers a giddy vakay from Reality for a night that often stretches into all fall.

But a Halloween display in late August? In the produce department of an upscale grocery store? That’s scary. As if we don’t have enough to fear of late.

Halloween will morph in many ways this year. COVID-19 will see to that. But you can count on commercial interests to push candy, costumes, and cavities.

On the upside, most folks will remember to wear a mask.

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15 Killer Ways to Avoid Viral DoomScrolling

Posted on: Sunday, August 23rd, 2020
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, SoulTrain, Unplugging | Leave a comment

  • Doom? Gloom? Play ball instead!

Yep, it’s a thing. As if we don’t already have enough to freak us out, people (who already obsessed with their digitalia) can’t stop seeking bad news. It’s like admitting that banging your head on the wall is bad for you, but doing it all day anyway.

Many major media outlets recently exposed this unfortunate trend. They’ve  talked to experts, of course, who wisely told us to do things like acknowledge the issue. Plan and schedule activities away from your screens. Take more breaks from your tech and work. Meditate. Connect with someone (friend or family) for 15 minutes a day. Pick times and places to get your bad news, and limit your intake to those times only (how about only when sitting on the toilet?).  The pundits offer us the usual good ideas for mental health hygiene.

Good stuff, all of it. And I must confess that the more Real News I ingest, the more sick I feel. So I second the this emotion and would like to add my 15 worthy distraction—from an unfortunately experienced and deeply disturbed citizen of this sick planet…

  • 1. GROW A GARDEN

If you have a yard or patio, get dirty with it. If you lack that, hoard some houseplants. Or plant some seeds. The miracle and promise for the future sprouts naturally and just keeps on growing. And growing.  

  • 2. TAKE A HIKE

Or at least a walk. Peruse your neighborhood routinely, and note the simply amazing ways that things change daily, and more so over a season. If time and conditioning allow, wander anywhere and everywhere, keeping in mind that, “All who wander are not lost.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

  • 3. STRETCH

There’s enough instruction help online to hyper-stretch both body and imagination. You could buy a bunch of tools and toys (or go yoga). But you can also easily loosen up those tight glutes on the floor while watching bubble baseball. Your body will thank you.

  • 4. EXERCISE NEW REGIMENS

Kayak like a madman. Shoot hoops. Get that old bike working again. Dust off the yard games in your garage. Or toss around my old fave: Frisbee; there are also lots of Frisbee golf courses these days—often for free! Bounce a tennis ball, anyone? Or pick up that new (and superb!) not-just-for-geezers sport: Pickleball!

  • 5. WRITE POSTCARDS

You probably have a bunch stashed away from those trips you took back when, well, you could travel. Or create some. Write by hand to old friends or journey mates or—aha!—folks you met on the road. You’ll spark priceless memories and make someone’s day. 

  • 6. PLAY MUSIC

There’s a reason you can’t quite throw out those old LPs, CDs, cassettes, and 45s. And this time, really listen. Skip playlists; jump back into albums. Few pastimes can be as therapeutic and spiritual as hearing song.

  • 7. PLAY MUSIC 

It’s a lovely release and savvy exercise for hand-to-eye coordination. So noodle around with that old guitar, keyboard, or flugelhorn. Heck, you were probably pretty good…back in the day. Relive those days, rejoice in the noise, and play like nobody’s watching. (They aren’t.) 

  • 8. JUMP INTO LIVESTREAMS.

I’ve been blown away by the musicians, groups, festivals, and beyond that are entertaining online, usually for free. And some bands are releasing coveted concerts for ravenous fans. (I’m hooked on many groups’ shows, including Phish, Radiohead, and the Grateful Dead.) Museums and other venues are adapting too. So join the virtual party!

  • 9. COOK UP A STORM

No, you can’t go out as much as you used to. Yes, you probably have more time on your hands. So put your hands into creating tasty (and healthy!) meals. The CDC would approve.

  • 10. PURGE UR CRAP.

Does anyone enjoy sorting (and eliminating) old stuff? Nope. But does everyone enjoy the feeling of a lighter load and cleaner closet? Indubitably yes. So what are you waiting for? The next pandemic?

  • 11. TAKE A PRETEND VACATION

Watch movies filmed in exotic locales whether Fellini-esque or lampoon-y. Open up old scrap books and photo albums. Or better yet, pack a picnic and visit some popular area nearby that you normally avoid cuz of crowds and Karens. For a change, the traffic and congestion may be less of a hassle—and Karen likely stayed home to bemoan the closed restaurants. 

  • 12. BECOME A NATURE FREAK

Find Jeremiah. Take wing with birds. Look for creatures in the clouds. Watch the grass grow, for heaven’s sake. Nature never fails, and Toady doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about our stupid pandemic. PS Pick up a birdbath; you’ll make the birdies giddy, which will make you happy.

  • 13. HEAD TO THE SHORE

Any shore—whatever’s nearby. Water: Symbolic, calming, essential. And with any luck, there’s got to be a lake, stream, or sea somewhere close to your crib. 

  • 14. HOST A SOCIALLY COMFORTABLE EVENT

Some worry that C-19 is turning some people into premature curmudgeons. Overzealous anti-socialites. Hissy scare-dy cats. Could it be? Meantime, I’m cheering for the local senior softball league that plays on and then stretches out for some post-game beers in the parking lot. I will show up for the neighbor’s spacious bonfire. I mean, isn’t the risk of loneliness and isolation (to say nothing of lost relationships) a credible medical and mental-health concern, too?

  • 15. GIVE HELP 

Folks are getting sad, mad, and tense. Worse yet, someone you know is sick, locked-in, or otherwise limited. So pick up their groceries. Paint their deck. Or just ask, “How can I help?”  They’ll be so grateful, you may solve their problem, and you’ll feel pretty good about yourself too.

  • Please Resist Doomscrolling   : ) 

So turn off that newscast. Just peek at—rather than pore over—the news feeds. And pooh-pooh the politicians that have proven they are talented at very little beyond fueling fear and animosity.

Doomscrolling. Yep, it’s a thing. I’m sorry. We’re all sorry. 

May you stay safe and sane and (with apologies to poet Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day”) find better things to do with your wild and precious pandemic.

Keep the faith.

 

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FOTOFRIDAY: What’s Going On Here?

Posted on: Friday, August 21st, 2020
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • Oh, the people you meet when travelling… 

Who is this guy? How did he get in there? Does he ever get out? Who gave him such lovely blue eyes? And, by the way, when did he last see his dentist?

I know. But I’m not telling.

But I will say this: Take a BreakAway from your normal schedule and routine, assuming normalcy returns again one fine day, and you too will meet characters like this. I promise.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Back in the Travel Days…

Posted on: Friday, August 14th, 2020
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Back in the good old says, most people revered travel as an adventure, a gift, a dream. Nowadays, depending on where you live, traveling a few blocks to get a haircut can seem exciting. And risky. 

Speaking of risky, I took some nice shots of Koala Lampur’s exotic, late-night market back in November of 2000. But I preferred most meals in tourist-popular restaurants—since going RTW inspired keeping gastronomic experimentations on the safe side, especially with my 3-year-old son at my side.

Still, whatever this gentleman is cooking looks pretty good right about now. As does wandering around an Asian city that never sleeps. 

Keep the faith.

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