Reggie Lewis, AAU, and the Sultans of Swing


I was driving home from Boston with my younger son today. We had spent the previous day in Roxbury MA at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center for and AAU basketball tournament. We had his iPod plugged in and jacked up. My son was almost fully reclined in the passenger seat, the window rolled up and the sun warming his face; he was teetering between wakefulness and sleep when the Sultans of Swing came on.

I was never a huge Dire Straits fan growing up – I mean, I liked them well enough, but I didn’t love them; but in my opinion that song comes as close to a perfect song as musically possible.  Everything about it seems perfect to me – and I am not sure why. Whenever I hear it, I am transported back in time; and I do not mean in a general sense. I mean I am transported to a very specific memory of me driving my car, turning right from Union Street on to East Main road in Portsmouth RI, on a bright sunny day listening and marveling at how good a song that was.  That was in 1979,  34 years ago – and the memory remains crystal clear for some reason. When I hear that song, I remember the warmth I felt from the sun that day; I remember greenness of the trees against the blueness of the sky as vividly as if I were experiencing them in the present.

System of a Downer


It was 9:00 PM and I needed to go for a walk. This is a relatively new thing for me. I have taken to night walking – it relaxes me – clears my head – puts my spirit at peace for 30 minutes. Sometimes I start out with my dog Walter in tow, then I swing back by the house to drop him off and continue on my own – alone with the night – and my iPod. Before heading out on this particular night I made a point of re-synching my iPod, because somehow I inherited 23 “System of a Down” songs from my son’s playlist.

Here’s a truism: There few things in life more abrasive than having System of a Down pumped into your head unexpectedly at full volume. It’s happened to me on several occasions and the experience has literally shaken my faith in humanity.