Skip to main content


Yesterday I heard on the radio that the UK crooner Sam Smith has been ordered to pay royalties to singer/songwriter Tom Petty. It seems the former's hit song "Stay With Me" bears too strong a resemblance to the Heartbreaker's 1989 classic "I Won't Back Down." The settlement also included a writing credit. Of course if Smith wins a Grammy Petty won't share the award since he didn't contribute anything new to the song. The DJ who reported news of the settlement mentioned other artists who had borrowed from classic hits. Vanilla Ice, for example, in his 1990 hit "Ice, Ice Baby" took the riff from "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie and made it his own. In a deft legal maneuver, Ice's lawyers were able to prove that because the beat differed by one note it was not technically the same. Ice won the suit.

It got me thinking about other songs I've heard that sounded familiar, some vaguely so, others downright obviously. Will Smith, for example, strung together a series of hit songs in the late 90s, all of which sampled from classic disco.  Of course he gave the original artists credit (and a portion of his profits) so it his creative license never made headlines. I'm referring to such hits as "MIB," for example, and "Gettin' Jiggy with It," as well as a personal favorite, "Miami," which took the Whispers' "And the Beat Goes On" and set it to Smith's own lyrics. So I played that '79 hit. And walked down memory lane. Of course the memories were vague. I had been only 6 years old at the time. But how I loved to dance! In Ms. Matlow's 4th grade class, when I was 9, my three friends and I would get up in front of the class and dance to Michael Jackson hits. His Thriller had just come out. Man, could we move! Legends in our own minds.

I don't dance enough. Sure if a catchy tune comes on I'll move a little, usually when I'm alone. But I should do it more. We all should. If it is good enough for the Fresh Prince... So let the beat go on, and catch a load of that woman in the gold tight pants. She sure can move!


Popular posts from this blog


I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…


I hereby proclaim that June is meditation month. And July and August and some of September too. For me at least. During the hundred days that comprise summer, give or take, I have taken it upon myself to "assume the position" for approximately one hour each day, usually divided into two 30-minute sessions. During this time I sit in front of a candle flame, let my breathing subside, and with it my mental activity, and literally count the seconds.

The reductive tendency that is emblematic of science has penetrated schools of meditation, and there are many, each of which advertises its particular breed as, if not being the best, at least boasting novel or specific benefits not found in other forms of meditation. 

For example, there is mindfulness, which is the monitoring of thoughts. There is concentration or focus, as on an object or the breath. There is transcendental meditation, which uses the inward repetition of a phrase, or mantra, to "allow your active mind to easily …


To be spontaneous or systematic, that's the question. Or SOS, as the Police sing. Within me these two opposing characteristics are ever at war. I suppose we're all born more of the former. What child is not up for a trip to the candy store on a whim? But our educational system drums in the systematic approach to problem solving. You must progress from number 1 to 10 on your test. Each class is 50 minutes long. Etc. And indeed having a schedule and being methodical can lead to greater material success. If you only do what you feel like you may never study math, or organize your closet. But enslaving yourself to a ritual can suck all the fun out of life. To reconcile the two approaches we've evolved the weekend, which is basically a short vacation from the rigid workday, a time to play in an unstructured way. The athlete has his rest days, a time away from play. The family has the trip to the Bahamas. There are semester breaks in school, though having an entire summer off is…