Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Sky Is Falling, The Sky.....Uuuhhhh by Peter Reum

Since before we as humans could write, there  have been oral stories passed from generation to generation. There are stories explaining the consciousness of human beings, such as creation myths, divine benefactors, wars of the gods, people coming into this world from another world, and so many more...too numerous to identify. Human being's self-awareness is the driving force behind such oral traditions. I wrote a poem a few months ago called Sagacity's Folly. It is a lamentation of sorts, an expression of the pain that comes with "knowing too much." In the last 3000 years, our hunger for knowledge has outstripped our capacity to use such knowledge in a manner that does not destroy ourselves, our fellow creatures that are alive, and Mother Earth herself.

As befits each human generation that lives on this small rock orbiting our sun, in a backwater part of our galaxy, we approach self-awareness through ordering our surroundings to fit our perceptions. Hence, many of the world's great belief systems, such as science, mythology, religions, stories regarding the end of the world as we know it, offer perspectives on life, our place in the cosmos, something we can call life everlasting (consciousness after death), the world we live on, with our fellow animate creatures,  and the inner world we know from observation.

Because of my dad's job, working in one of the largest research labs in existence for 30+ years, I have struggled in my heart and my mind, as Thomas Jefferson once described this need to order our world, swinging from one belief system to another.  In recent years, the burgeoning and dramatic manner of observation called quantum mechanics has opened a door (some say a Pandora's Box) to the world beyond logic, beyond order, and many physicists have had the dilemma of trying to describe and explain  observations that simply do not conform to what we have known as the scientific method.

I read the other day in an internet physics site that a group of researchers have actually observed anti-matter for the first time. What has been a theory for roughly the last hundred years has moved beyond theoretical physics into applied physics. I do not pretend to comprehend the world these people are observing. The quantum world has thrown many of our basic assumptions about our universe into question, having formally been accepted as proven to be true. The Hadron Collider in Switzerland has brought to light so many new and exciting ideas regarding our universe. The Higgs Boson theory was verified by observation on on the Hadron. What I have found fascinating is that the Higgs Boson was thought to be the particle of assembling matter. I am not explaining this well, but hopefully readers will understand what I am alluding to.


Hadron Collider - World's Largest Particle Accelerator-Switzerland

After the Higgs Boson became a reality observed and verified, some of my recent reading of science news explained that observation of the Higgs Boson has led to the identification of two particles smaller than Higgs, which leads to the old chicken and egg problem...do the two particles exist because of the Higgs, or is the existence of the Higgs dependent upon the existence of the two smaller particles....or are they not related at all? If all of our observations come through what is called the Observer, our own brain, is all of this information developed in our minds just to satisfy our unending inquiries about the universe?

Dr, Higgs and a Cross Section of the Hadron Collider


I am left asking myself---was Chicken Little right after all, is science another manner of our own mind trying to make order out of chaos, or, is there an objective reality separate from the observer in our minds, that only science can explain? One of the interesting debates the physicists at Hadron were having when I watched this program on the search for the Higgs Boson on PBS (thank you, public tv) was whether the sub-atomic world opened by the Hadron Collider was formed by chance or by what I will call a Prime Mover. Several teams observed the data from the Higgs, and the teams theorized that there was a certain level of data that would support the chaos explanation, and another that would support the Prime Mover explanation, both of these being theories themselves, by the way. Maddeningly, the data revealed a number roughly halfway between the Chaos and Prime Mover theories of how the universe was formed.


Layperson's Explanation of Higgs-Boson Particle

To extend this question...is our human existence due to billions of years of chance, or, is human existence a result of the work of a Prime Mover?

Copyright 2016 by Peter Reum-all rights reserved

To my friends who are scientists, I apologize for this rather simplistic explanation of a profoundly difficult physics question.

For more information, use the Hadron Collider website:http://www.stfc.ac.uk/research/particle-physics-and-particle-astrophysics/large-hadron-collider/lhc-large-hadron-collider-resource-portal/Hadron Collider Site

For a fairly understandable explanation of the Higgs Boson Particle: http://www.stfc.ac.uk/research/particle-physics-and-particle-astrophysics/peter-higgs-a-truly-british-scientistDr. Higgs Biography and Higgs Boson

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Repubes Seduce the Beach Boys by Peter Reum

It appears that the band now known as The Beach Boys has been invited to Trump's inauguration and have accepted the "summons." The invitation seems like an honor, but connects the name Beach Boys to unbashed money grubbing, demeaning of minority Americans, trashing of the environment here in America and worldwide, further polarization of oligarchs from other Americans, and bashing anyone who challenges proposals publicly.....and so much more.

The sad twist about this gesture is that ALL of the surviving Beach Boys will be tarnished by this performance. I personally believe any of The Beach Boys have the right to support who they prefer with respect to candidates running for office. The same is true of choosing to support or oppose various legislative proposals.

As time has passed, the endorsement of politicians by celebrities has become commonplace.  But...the ugliness which was demonstrated in Trump rallies toward women and minorities smacks of White supremacy and misogynistic behavior. White flight has turned into White Fright.

All of this shows a fear that Asian, Hispanic, African Americans, Indigenous tribes, and other Non-White people will treat White Americans the way Whites discriminated against Non- White peoples historically. White Fear is real, and The Beach Boys' good name will inevitably and irreversibly tarnished by association with the incoming White Supremacists that comprise Trump's team. I hope they cancel while they can. The staunch approval of Trump by such groups as the Ku Klux Klan of the Trump election as President is reason enough to bale on Trump's tainted and stinking iinuguration.



Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Cabin by Peter Reum

Here I lay...under ten quilts shivering
A killer storm has arisen quickly
My love is frightened--her lip quivering
Pleading with me to leave this cabin
Before the snow covers all that lives
A nor'easter no mercy gives

The wood is wet, this refuge leaks
A sordid message--the conclusion loudly speaks
Our breaths grow painful-seeking
Relief from dampness quickly freezing

Hunger and exhaustion know no limits
It would be so easy to relent
To the temptation sought
My life I would offer for survival bought
For my love-the warmth she desperately sought

The wolves can be heard outside
Mourning their dead-calling
Out to something or someone
Hoping a force they do not understand
Could stem the tide

We hunker down, resolutely
Hoping the down in our quilts
Does not dampen through the stack
Praying the roof is strong
Absolutely sure that our end awaits
Should the holes we dread appear
We will do our best to control our fear
Wishing that a rescue party is near

We humans think we are so smart
Built for cunning and that
Our higher power will protect
Us from the undesired effect.....
Ravages of Nature we don't
Expect



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Knots That Scar the Soul by Peter Reum

In 1982, I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with two graduate degrees in Rehabilitation Psychology and Counseling. I was fortunate to find a job at Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, Colorado. The positions that I have held have tended to revolve around people who are hurt by the world. Sometimes the wounds I helped people with were physical, for example, paraplegia or hemiplegia. Sometimes the difficulties that people I worked with were due to some form of "labeling," such as moderate or severe developmental disability. The people who seemed to be most disabled were people whose disabilities were invisible.

Those people with invisible disabilities seemed to receive the most bad information leading to  misunderstandings about their condition. In the last phase of my career prior to retirement, I spent almost eight years providing therapeutic counseling to people with what might be termed co-occurring disorders. Most often, these folks had some sort of mental illness accompanied by a type of addictive disorder. Sometimes, it was gambling, sometimes it was alcohol, sometimes it was opioids, other times it was food related compulsive behavior ranging from overeating to anorexia or bulimia. All of these addictive disorders usually began after trauma in some form, mostly physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in childhood or adolescence.

The last several years of my professional life I worked with people either having inpatient or outpatient chemical dependence.   About 4 in 10 males and 8 in 10 females had been sexually abused at some point in their early  years. The biggest proportion of these people had not reported the incident/s to parents when the sexual abuse took place. This was often because the perpetrator was often either a family member or a neighbor. The abused individual most often did not report the sexual or physical abuse due to the abuser being someone who the victim depended on for basic life needs-shelter, sustenance, or transportation.

The discussion of sexual abuse in inpatient or outpatient substance abuse rehabilitation programs can be stunted if the therapist acts judgemental or unsupportive of this most risky of personal disclosures in therapy. In the last several years, my own experience of sexual abuse facilitated my ability to respond supportively to patients who "jumped the canyon" and disclosed their own abuse in group or individual therapy. What began as a huge personal disclosure often became a sign that other patients in the group could feel "safe" to share their own wounds and pain.

One group I counseled in outpatient therapy consisted of six women and one male young man who was in the  group for a Driving Under the Influence arrest that had caused mandatory referral for substance abuse therapy. As the women began to share their life stories with each other, they realized that all six women had been sexually abused as girls or young women. That realization led to each woman sharing her own episode/s of sexual abuse with the group. The fact that I had been a person who was sexually abused as a boy somehow bonded these women to each other, and also to myself.

In essence, this group's sharing of abuse experiences led to the feelings of safety to share these very traumatic experiences with each other and myself. What became apparent was that these women's abuse sexually at a young age became the life event that led to chemical dependence. What was also apparent was that these women had come into using drugs or alcohol excessively, leading to what is commonly known as addiction. Many of these women had reported the sexual abuse to either a parent or trusted adult, only to find out that the common response they experienced was very toxic shame.  The message communicated by the person receiving the abuse report was often shaming, disbelieving, or feeling the reporting of abuse was a waste of time. The minimizing of the report of sexual abuse communicated by the victim was reflected by indifference of the person who was receiving the report.

Because of the so-called "critical mass" in this therapeutic group due to all six women disclosing sexual and sometimes physical abuse in the group and being validated for the first time by other victims in the group, the group was able to deduce that their substance dependence was  a symptom of emotional trauma rather than the emotional trauma being the caused by the chemical dependence. This insight allowed these women to see their behavior with respect to drugs and alcohol was a maladaptive method of trying to drown the sexual and physical abuse histories through "numbing out" the memories.

I feel compelled to share this experience due to a television program I saw yesterday that elicited a strong emotional response from  my seeing a sexually abused mother and child struggling to keep their secrets unknown, due to the abuse perpetrator being a highly respected community member. The program, which was entirely fictional, drew a myriad of feelings from me ranging from volatile anger to tears in response to the program content, due to my own experience with being a childhood victim of sexual abuse. In my case, it was an older male teenager. The shame from the experience led to me not disclosing the abuse until my graduate school counseling/therapy practicum 25 years later.

My hope is that the reader of this piece who may have chemical dependence and mental illness due to childhood abuse will feel empowered enough to find help for both conditions, either in an addiction treatment program or childhood abuse treatment group. There is no excuse for rape, no matter what condition the perpetrator is in when abusing the victim. For those people who need support, find a way to allow yourself to set aside the fear and very toxic shame from what happened to you, and find a therapy group and/or a support group to begin untangling the emotional "knots," as R.D. Laing once called them, that are in your life due to sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

Copyright 2016 by Peter Reum---All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Message to My Children's Children by Peter Reum

Despite my doubts I plunged ahead
Committing gave me horrible dread
Wars made no sense so empty I guessed
Real reasons why we fight are supressed

Young people are delicate, so young and fresh
Innocence once lost can be hard to replenish
Our children are told lies I think
By old farts whose motives stink

Wars once noble quickly turn sour
The true rationale is always dour
The mighty dollar is the real reason
Why short-term truths are really treason

Farm boys volunteer innocently to fight
Never foreseeing their upcoming plight
Promised that those skills they will learn
Will be marketable--big money they'll
earn

Instead they go to infantry and airborne
Rueing they believed such shit-now torn
Being human pincushions are their new fate
Replacing the pitch "sucker recruiters" have made

Patriotism is a noble call to arms
If your only other choice is the farm
The men and women who entered intact
Return more broken--- that's a fact

Perhaps our armed forces' missions can change
A reason for honest national service isn't strange
It would be wonderful to aid humane missions with bread
Not waiting for the next false police action instead



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reflections on Phil Spector: A Broken Man 100 Miles From Shore by Peter Reum

This last weekend,  there was a music itch I had to scratch.  I hadn't gotten out my Phil Spector sets in a long time, and the decision that I needed to make was what set I would listen to. I finally settled on The Essential Phil Spector double set that was powerpacked with both the pre-Phillies hits on most of the first cd and the Phillies and A&M hits on the second. The convoluted and diverse list of artists on this set make up a fine sample of the variety of styles of performances  Mr.  Spector produced.

The success of Spector's productions from roughly 1958's To Know Him Is To Love Him to his work with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Yoko Ono in the early Seventies is a body of work any producer would be proud to have accomplished. Spector's unusual lifestyle also contributed much to the legends about the man himself. His production achievements have been overshadowed since the late Sixties by sporadic behavioral episodes that led to him being labeled as reclusive, unpredictable, and agressive in suing people who he felt had maligned his reputation.


A fine guitarist, Phil Spector shortly after the release of the first Teddy Bears single


The Phil Spector who friends knew was almost completely opposite to the public image he had. He demanded discrete confidentiality  from his friends, and those people he considered close to him prized his friendship and respected his wishes without reservation. Although much has been discussed about his eccentricities, his annual bowling party and personal invitations to his barbed wire surrounded home with trained attack dogs patrolling the grounds were rarely turned down.


Mr. Spector at the front gate of his home circa 2005


The complex person that is H. Phillip Spector has been reduced to being labeled as a madman who killed a "B movie" actress. Like many complicated people, Spector's incarceration for shooting this woman has become the window through which his every action is viewed. I would submit that long term mental illness worsened by extensive ingestion/self-medication of mood altering chemicals beginning in the mid Sixties to erase grief from the suicide of his father were large factors in his mental illness. Onset of what was diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder in his mid twenties was worsened by such substances mentioned above, and are huge factors in his episodic behavioral outbursts, leading to a number of publicized incidents which eventually shredded his reputation as  a producer of highly commercial recordings. His 1974 motorcycle accident, in which he was horribly injured, further complicated his already crippling mental health. The injuries to his head were so serious according to police at the scene that they thought he was dead. The 200 stitches in two areas of his head only hinted at the severity of his head trauma. There is no evidence of Mr. Spector having had rehabilitative services following his acute care hospital discharge. Complicating the traumatic brain injuries was the very primitive state of the art in head injury trauma rehabilitation in 1974.


Mr. Spector with a firearm-early 2000s


Mr. Spector, in fact, had several periods of balanced living helped by effective medications and psychiatric services. Some of these healthy time periods were years long.

The suicide of his father was most likely a massively devastating incident which cast an imposing shadow over his boyhood.  The relationship of a boy to his father is a huge influence on the son's life, even in a healthy interdependent family.  In my own therapy practice, dysregulation in this relationship stunts emotional adaptability, judgement, and intelligence. Adding to the grief that an adolescent Phil Spector experienced was his smaller stature, leading to probable ongoing bullying.  In mid 20th Century America,  boys who were of smaller stature were easy targets for being tormented by larger boys. Victims of such cruelty had little recourse for their ongoing victimization,  and were told to "man up."

Mr. Spector had a marvelous eye for upcoming talent in popular music. He had produced a number of well known people in pop that sold well and were hits or semi-hits.  He thought of the 45 single as the best vehicle for his own productions.  Hits produced by Spector were regular presences on sales charts published by Billboard and similar magazines. With Lester Sill, a veteran record business executive,  Mr. Spector began the Phillies record label in 1961. The name was a combination of Phil and Lester's names.


Lester Sills - Phillies Co-Founder


Mr. Spector was the architect of the "single as art" style of record production and often spent as much time on the "A" side of a single as other producers spent on entire albums. The single's "B" side was almost always an improvised tune written by a member of the much celebrated Wrecking Crew...


The Phillies Record Label Logo


The list of popular  hit standards that this group of studio aces recorded is astounding. Groups on Phillies were loved in the United Kingdom and Europe as well as the USA. As the most famous record producer in the world in the mid-Sixties, Spector was under more and more pressure to top himself in his next record each time he had a hit.  The pressure had become very oppressive, and when his most dramatic and soulful single-River Deep-Mountain High, tanked in USA record charts.....Spector picked up his production charts and walked away from the business for the next 2 years. When he resumed producing in 1968, he produced a small number of tunes for his wife and A&M records. There were 2 singles by Sonny Charles and the Checkmates and 2 nice singles by his the wife Ronnie Spector. There were lots of artists that Mr. Spector  tried to sign, but he did not succeed.


A Goldstar Studio Session - Phil Spector and the Great Darlene Love



The Classic Phillies Ronettes Album Label

Ronnie Spector (formerly Bennett) 1963


Perhaps one of the most celebrated groups Mr. Spector worked with was the Beatles together on the Let It Be album resurrection. Paul McCartney strongly disliked the use of strings on the title song and The Long and Winding Road. McCartney believed that the use of strings distracted listeners from the intent and emotional power the unsweetened tapes possessed. McCartney issued an unsweetened version of that album that was closer to the sound originally he had envisioned. Because  Mr. Spector's version of Let It Be is the most familiar, his mix is the one heard most often on the radio.



John Lennon and Phil Spector 1970


George Harrison, Allen Klein, and Phil Spector 1970

After the dissolution of the Beatles, Spector once again entered the orbit of the Beatles as solo artists by producing solo albums by the members of that hallowed group, including what many people consider John Lennon's best solo album-Plastic Ono Band, and two iconic solo lps by George Harrison-All Things Must Pass and the Concert for Bangladesh. If anyone doubted that Spector had lost his producing skills, these recordings banished those thoughts.


The Iconic Phil Spector Christmas  Album 1963


The Apple Reissue of Phil Spector's Christmas Album

That serious motorcycle accident that laid up Mr. Spector in 1974, along with a painful divorce from Ronnie Spector made that year devastating. Despite these personal setbacks, Spector continued to record artists such as Cher, Dion Dimucci and Leonard Cohen. Spector's vault was opened in 1976 with major artist's albums reissued as well as an album of unreleased masters which awed longtime listeners. Mr. Spector's spectacular Christmas album was also reissued in the mid-Seventies. That album has come to represent the finest quality of Christmas music ever recorded in a rock format. The tunes from that album are regularly played on radio stations that feature the Christmas music of the holiday season.

As Mr. Spector entered the mid Seventies he had a tendency to hurry through his productions, making his work more subject to media criticism, and his quickly completed work began to impact his productions. Whether the reason for his decline was his emotional health was is unclear.  His mental health seemed to worsen, and his reputation for being a "go-to" producer suffered accordingly. He deemed his actions to be due to use of mood altering chemicals.  He also seemed seemed to decompensate when his productions were either critically panned or did not sell well. Based upon his work on the Leonard Cohen and Dion DiMucci albums, this sort of criticism does not seem accurate.

The work he did with several new bands like the Ramones baffled him and the bands he tried to record had punk rock backgrounds. Despite his mental health setbacks, he showed a strong desire to remain a solid producer worthy of the legends about his work in the Sixties and Seventies.

No overview of Mr. Spector's life and career would be complete without addressing how he approached women in his life. There is his mother and sister, with whom he had a loving relationship. After he became a producer, he would assist both women. His hectic studio schedule made seeing them often impossible. Based upon research, Mr. Spector had a solid relationship with his mother and sister. This makes some of his misogynistic subsequent behavior toward his wives seem somewhat inconsistent with his family relationships. Mrs. Spector was widowed when Phil was 10 years old. Showing admirable and resilient adaptability, she moved herself and two children completely across the United States to the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles. With the exception of about five years in New York City in his early twenties, Los Angeles became, for better or worse, his headquarters for his production career and later life. His marriage to Annette Kleinbard was short, lasting roughly four years. The peak years of the Phillies label offered little in the way of directly referenced incidents of misogyny, other than Spector's tendency to record hits with less known artists, and to offer little financial remuneration for hits by  The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, and so forth. It is evident that Mr. Spector genuinely liked the groups he recorded, possibly with the exception of The Righteous Brothers, who jumped labels after cutting a few hits and three lps for Phillies.

It is, according to Ronnie Spector's autobiography that, at some level, Mr. Spector saw other men as a threat to his relationship with Ms. Spector. Consequently, Ms. Spector was only able to record roughly an album's worth of material during her decade long relationship with Phil. She recalls the mansion they occupied as cold, almost impossible to feel warm in. As time passed, the feeling in Ms. Spector's autobiography about her time with Mr. Spector, was being somewhat of a bird in a gilded cage. Being in her twenties, Ms. Spector had lost the adulation of thousands of Ronettes fans. She remembers fondly being with her fellow Ronettes members, and delighted with the support of fans, and even some musicians, like The Beatles. When she left Spector, she felt free and could breathe fresh air, which she felt as wonderful. The impression this writer gets is that Mr. Spector felt that if he lost Ms. Spector that he would never have another wife like her. These feelings enduced a desire for complete control of Ms. Spector due to the fear of losing her to another man. Ms. Spector, in her autobiography, notes that she was not allowed to leave the Spector mansion by driving herself unless there was an inflated rubber male figure, designed to ward off potential men who might harm her while she was out. Of course, that inflated figure would also intimidate from afar possible potential male suitors. Ms. Spector, along with Phil, adopted three children during their union. Two of these children were twins. One of the twins died of cancer, further driving the couple into unresolved grief. Ms. Spector finally snuck out a window in 1972, never to return to that cold home.


Mr. Spector during the period he produced for A&M Records-late Sixties


Apple Records Photo of Ms. Spector in Early 70s

The middle Seventies saw Mr. Spector working with poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen, Cher, Dion DiMucci, and also the release of several compilations highlighting past productions from the Sixties. Of interest in this series was an album of rare masters and a compilation of Seventies productions by Spector. Of interest to those of us who were longtime fans was a series of reissue compilations of masters into albums featuring the major artists Spector recorded in the Sixties. Of highest interest was a collection of gems produced by Mr. Spector in the Sixties which had been unissued up to that time (1976). Here are a few of those compilations...

The album that cracked open the unreleased masters


Excellent Compilation of Sixties Crystal Masters



Perhaps the Finest Ronettes Compilation


Unusual Compilation of Some of Spector's Seventies Productions

The Wall of Sound compilations reintroduced Mr. Spector to a group of Boomers who had all but forgotten him. They also brought in a new group of listeners that enjoyed the convenience of having all those rare Sixties singles compiled into album format.

The divorce from Ronnie Spector, painful as it was for both people, seemed to reinspire Mr. Spector's production of excellent albums as mentioned above. Then was a time when Spector once again found the ambition to look for new artists to work with in the studio. Perhaps the most controversial was Mr. Spector's production of the 1980 Ramones album. Neither party seemed content with the product as issued. The Ramones were especially put off by Spector's adding strings to a few tracks on the album. They were also somewhat put out by Mr. Spector's behavior in the studio.

For Mr. Spector, much of the following two decades were a difficult period, with periods of sobriety and periods of use of mood altering chemicals to excess. However reclusive he was in the Seventies, the two decades that followed made Spector's Seventies appearances and work seem hyperactive. There were highlights in these years, such as appearances at awards shows. Reports of Spector pulling guns on unexpecting artists in the Seventies and Eighties such as Leonard Cohen, Deborah Harry, John Lennon, and wife Ronnie Spector further alienated possible artists who contemplated using Spector's services.


Phil Spector taking a bow at a BMI Dinner in the late Eighties


In  1994 Mr. Spector was Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In the Nineties and the first decade of the new millenium, Mr. Spector had extended period of abstinence from mood altering chemicals. He seemed to be adrift, trying to drop anchor in decades that had forgotten who he was and what he had accomplished. Some biographies were either published or reprinted which lent some truth to some of the legends, both true and untrue. Spector was occasionally seen at industry functions.  Albums were begun with Celene Dion and Starsailor, only to crash when Spector had creative differences with each artist. Hargo had Spector produce a John Lennon tribute in the early 2000s.

The pattern of using alcohol or other mood altering chemicals returned in 2007, with tragic consequences for an actress who came home with Spector after a night of heavy drinking. A gun was fired at his home in an altered state by Spector, according to the trial results as recorded. A life of walking on a highwire between sobriety and creativity and intoxication and gunplay was no longer viable. The reader is referred to extensive articles about the legal proceedings and both trials which can be read by use of most search engines.  Mr. Spector married a young woman in 2008 between the first and second trials. he apparently produced an album's worth of material with her singing. Mr. Spector's occasional antics during the trials made headlines in local papers and on television. His daily wig was the subject of each day's court proceedings, and numerous pictures can be seen online.



Mr. Spector's Police Photograph Taken Shortly After Ms. Clarkson's Death



Mr. Spector Flashing a "Hawaiian Good Luck Gesture" During Trial


Unusual Wig Worn During His Trial

After two trials, Mr. Spector was finally convicted of Murder in the Second Degree by a Jury and sentenced to 19 years to life.




Mr. Spector's life has been difficult in prison. His tendency to offer opinions when none are wanted have caused him to lose his teeth from a punch by a much larger inmate.  Mr. Spector and his third wife divorced in 2016. Mr. Spector filed a complaint in court that his wife was using up his fortune at a rate that alarmed him.


Phil Spector's story, often sad, other times sadder, is the story of a man who was given incredible talent.  As with numerous rock musicians, there are too many "if onlys." Here is a man passionate about studio work, who truly innovated in a manner equaled only by a few other music producers. But...there is also the man who didn't ever feel that his success was deserved. Like too many gifted people to mention, the messages he received from record distributors, executives, and performers was that he had been lucky, and that he would eventually stumble and fall. The scars from the bullying in school and the loss of his father had taught him that living for today was the way to live, because tomorrow it all might be gone. To quote a passage from Ecclesiastes, "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die." Close friends had passed away, each one's death shook him to his foundations...



But there is the music, records that bring happiness, deep sadness, regret, unfulfilled expectations....


So, just to renew that I am first a fan of this fellow named Spector, I will list ten of my favorite Spector produced records... 

1) I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine -- I can't think of a song that better combines the drama of Spector's studio work with the wistful tone that Ronnie Spector brought  to the sadder tunes that she performed

2) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) -- Darlene Love hits this tune out of the park....the tune's heavy production equals the powerful anguish of her vocal. Performed on David Letterman's Show annually for years

3) Da Do Ron Ron-The Crystals surf the powerful wave of a track perfectly...seldom has there been a better match of music and vocals. One of Spector's "little symphonies for kids"

4) Walking In the Rain -- Once again the marriage of Ronnie Spector's vocal and Spector's track, with help from the late Larry Levine at Goldstar Studios for thunder effects turns this song from what might be a throwaway tune into a Grammy Award winner

5) This Could Be the Night -- Spector's closest sound to the classic Beach Boys/Lovin' Spoonful sound. Brian Wilson's favorite Spector tune, and easily is one of mine as well

6) Happy Christmas (War Is Over) -- The dream of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who truly understood the meaning of Christmas

7) Paradise-Ronnie Spector's voice sounds at once hopeful and yet lost on this track, which is a Spector tour de force

8) Just Once In My Life -- The Righteous Brothers play off of each other perfectly on this song, which communicates the desperation of a man who truly is on his knees, begging his wife/girl to stay

9) My Sweet Lord-George Harrison sings with his heart on this tune with a perfect accompanying track produced by Phil Spector and Harrison

10) River Deep, Mountain High -- Tina Turner turns this tune into a passionate raw sexual experience, singing in an impassioned female way over Spector's virile masculine track

Here is to everyone who ever heard a Phil Spector production, or who has wondered what made his music so special.

Copyright 2016 by Peter Reum--All Rights Reserved



















  















Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thank God for Entropy by Peter Reum

They say you can't legislate brotherhood
Attitudes don't change by force
Societies fall apart through conflict
That sane people would never endorse

The lessons history has taught us
It seems we are doomed to repeat
We think that somehow we are different
Our uniqueness makes us elite

Change is neither good nor bad
It is inevitable like taxes and death
We stubbornly cling to our biases
Until we draw our last breath

We seem to swing in perpetuation
Wondering if we are holy or ape
There must be a third choice somewhere
There is a logical answer that
concerns neither celibacy or rape

Clearly our ability to reason
Has not imitated the deity some say
Created the planet on which we live blithely
Instead we destroy our home---living only for today

What will it take to teach us to see
That ruining this Earth for all species
Is an incredibly short sighted outcome
That renders all humans contemptible
For believing there is no stink in our feces

Thankfully our destiny is extinction
Before we can spoil our nest
Entropy may intervene on behalf
Of Mother Earth-when we fail
Life's simple test


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pedazos Para Ti by Peter Reum

There are a few things that I would like to mention to the readers of this blog. I have been busily reading the biographies of several musicians and will be sharing my impressions over the next few months. Watch this space periodically.

I have been asked to do articles on Smiley Smile, Lei'd  Hawaii, and Wild Honey over the next several months for Endless Summer Quarterly, the best of the Beach Boys Magazines extant.This excellent magazine is the main resource for accurate information on the Beach Boys and related artists. I invite you to check out their fine site, esquarterly.com. They also have back issues of ESQ. Their access to Beach Boys and Brian Wilson musicians is unsurpassed.

For people who enjoy articles about the western areas of the USA, I have two pieces on western artists in the works. I also am working on the second segment of my illustrated overview of Montana's most famous artist, Charles M. Russell.

For those of you who enjoy the pieces on Western wildlife, I am also working on a couple of pieces discussing issues related to endangered Western USA animals.

I hope this gives everyone an idea of what is coming. I will be reviewing Brian Wilson/Beach Boys music as time permits.

Thank all of you for visiting and reading Reuminations articles!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Flim Flam Man by Peter Reum

He said that he would make us rich
He told us that we would be safe
He assured us that he would build
Walls that would make us brightly white

His presence was reassuring
We flew to him as moths to a flame
He tapped into the cavernous depths
From which emanated toxic shame

We were afraid--shaken to our core
He encouraged the ugly fears
We did not want to face
The ugliest emotions that lacked grace

Anger buried, reared its ugly head
Racism declared as gone
Returned undaunted instead
Encouraged by the Flim Flam Man
How can he go to bed?

Nobility is sorely missed
Gentility, absent and gone
A country's worst sides shown
The question on our world's mind
Will America's worst traits
Continue to render us blind?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Brian Wilson's Backporch: Review and Commentary of I Am Brian Wilson by Peter Reum

In this time of cynicism and looking flippant, this official biography emerges. It offers a counterpoint to the Rock Stars who died at age 27 biographies that seem to be pervasive in this era where the worshipping of deceased Rock Stars is all too common.

Brian Wilson has been a person whose work in his role of leading the Beach Boys has been finally been recognized and appreciated. At age 25, Brian effectively stopped the compulsive perfectionism that today makes the Beach Boys' Capitol Records catalog unmatched sonically in American popular music. The role of genius, tossed about like autumn leaves in the wind, has been attached to Brian since the release of Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations 50 years ago. The acclaim that Brian's best work has received is tempered by the stigma of his mental health issues.

The role of mental health issues taints public perception of Brian and his music. That Brian and his wife Melinda have chosen to discuss his mental health and act as ambassadors to the world at large regarding mental health is a commendable and important decision. In reading the press and viewing programs that feature Brian's mental health as a subject to feature when discussing his music, it seems that the two roles are fused together without the recognition that the two facets of his life are just small pieces of him as a human being.

Brian's "gift" of music composition and recording is one he has used to share his view of his world with the public. His mental health history is a facet of his life that has been hard to separate from his public image. It is apparent in reading this autobiography, completed with the assistance of Ben Greenman, that Brian did not have the desire to write this book himself. Given that Brian is the last person alive in his childhood family it is quite understandable that reflection about them could be emotionally very painful. What makes this book special is the way it is organized, and the fact that Brian very effectively communicated his personal view of the world and his disability.

I am very impressed by the format that this book is presented. According to published reviews and press releases, Brian was able to speak with Mr. Greenman about 12 times for an hour each time. The interviews were done by phone, with Brian able to be at his home rather than a hotel. For a person who is introverted socially, this accommodation was excellent.

As a researcher, I have often been  given the task of dredging up statistics and applying them to various reports. While most research is presented in this manner, employing statistical reporting with unbiased interpretation of data results, there is another type of research that is valuable when statistical research will not yield useable results. Qualitative Research is a method used to interview subjects and then attempts to find recognizable themes within the interviews themselves. Used most prominently in ethnographic research, it yields a rich body of interview material in thematic content that can then be interpreted, categorized thematically, reported, and then published.

Because Brian is a person with a great deal of traumatic history, Mr. Greenman wisely used qualitative methods to gather the interview material that became this book. Over what sounds like approximately twelve hours of time, open ended questions yielded a rich and meaningful body of information used to assemble I Am Brian. Mr. Greenman undoubtedly spent many hours combing this rich amount of autobiographical reflection that Brian shared with him. The thematic categories, e.g. Home, etc.,  that Mr. Greenman identified allowed him to present Brian's reflections in a set of themes that made the book seem like conversation over a beer on Brian's back porch. Given that Brian is averse to sharing personal information with most interviewers, the distance between Mr. Greenman as interviewer in New York and Brian as interview subject in Los Angeles worked exceptionally well.

Brian and his wife Melinda have a relationship that is strong and supportive. People who visit their home seem to usually comment on how busy and loud the environment is. There are three younger children and two daughters who are now young adults. There are people who assist Brian when he is touring, and at home there are Melinda, Gloria, and perhaps a person who helps with childcare. Brian seems to have set routines that he employs at home and when touring. His descriptions of his life while at home and when playing concerts in this book are enlightening.

The role of long term friends who support Brian emotionally is critical. Several people are identified who love Brian as a friend and enter his life when needed, and are available for calls when Brian needs some advice and/or support. If I read this book accurately, Brian has days where the voices in his head are frightening for him and dominate his conscious mind. However, the hustle and bustle of his home, and the variety of things he can occupy his time with are plentiful. I have read several interviews where Brian has mentioned the Twelve Steps of various addiction support groups as helpful.  What  Brian terms as Spirituality is reflected in his music, and has been there since the early Beach Boys albums. Brian has worked hard in his life to empathize with people in his history who are or were difficult for him to handle. The reflections he makes with respect to his father, Murry, show a high degree of reflection and empathy. The role of shame in his life has receded. His grief at being the last person alive from his childhood family is palpable. Ironically, his mother is not as prominent in his reflections. It would be interesting to know why. She was his confidante when he was a young adult.

The complications related to having immediate family and their families to support financially at such a young age emerge only as passing reflections in this book. The fact that over 25 people were dependent upon Brian for a living when he was in his early twenties seems to have taken a toll on him. His withdrawal from touring was gradual, and his nervous collapse in that airplane flying to Houston was directly related to the load he carried as a songwriter, producer, and performer. It did not help that he was being privately and publically shamed by Murry on a regular basis. Brian mentions the eight page letter his dad wrote, and the mixed emotions that were present whenever Murry made contact. The physical abuse Brian suffered was a direct result of Murry's being physically abused by his father. That Brian vowed not to hit his children and kept that vow is remarkable. That Murry is interred in Whittier and Audree and Carl are interred West Los Angeles speaks louder in silence than any disagrrement while Murry was alive.

Therapists use the term "double-bind" to describe a life situation that has no hope of favorable resolution. Murry had his black belt in slinging double-binds at Brian. He shamed Brian in nearly every encounter they had, and yet Murry was totally dependent upon Brian and the other Beach Boys for the bread on his table. That Brian has a realistic understanding of his father's "racket" is quite remarkable.

Perhaps the most complicated relationship with anyone who is still alive for Brian is his relationship to Michael Love. There seems to be a degree of protective separation that Mr. Love's family and Brian's family have decided to employ. Recently, there was an excellent interview with Mr. Love in which he was able to state the sadness both men probably feel about their current relationship with each other. Brian, in this book, reflects on the pain and the sadness he feels after the early Nineties lawsuit that Mr. Love initiated, and the decision to end the 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour to return to Mr. Love's Beach Boys ensemble minus Alan Jardine and Brian. Money seems to have come between all of the Beach Boys, not just Brian and Mr. Love, from the early Sixties onward. Perhaps Brian and Mr. Love can come together with the surviving Beach Boys and their band members to play one show for the benefit of both men's choosing. This might defuse the injured feelings from the 50th Anniversary reunion tour. The benefit for both men would be a reunion without the financial earning conflicts that have plagued The Beach Boys since the early Sixties. I can also envision the second generation, The Beach Boys' adult children, singing and playing at such a concert.

Brian is blessed to have a supportive wife, and children and grandchildren by Marilyn and Melinda (through adoption) who adore him. He has friends in every port around the world, as sailors term it. He has an abiding faith in the inherent capacity of humankind to love each other and to love whatever higher power that they might worship. Most of all, he has a gift of creating music that millions of people have listened to when in grief, trouble, or unhappiness. He is gifted and has shared his gift unselfishly with the world. If you don't believe me.......read this book.




Text Copyright by Peter Reum 2016-All Rights Reserved



Monday, October 17, 2016

Michael Love's Good Vibrations: Review and Commentary by Peter Reum

Michael Love is descended from Midwestern folks. His mother, Emily Glee Wilson, was a Wilson, a sibling of Brian Wilson's father, Murry. To tell the story of the Wilsons and the Loves, it helps to understand the roots  of both families. There are many facets of both families that are similar. Both families come from hard working backgrounds, with Michael's immediate family on the Wilson side being from Kansas. On his father's side, his dad, Milton Love was a sheet metal worker, as was his grandfather. Michael's family benefitted from the boom in the post World War 2 construction that swept the Los Angeles/San Diego area. Michael's family on his father's side came from rural Louisiana to the Southland, as Southern California is often called. Michael expresses respect and love for his parents and grandparents with the exception of Coral "Buddy" Wilson, who reportedly had a violent temper and battered his wife and children, especially Murry, for reasons known only to himself.

What emerges from Michael's narrative regarding his immediate and earlier ancestors is a solid work ethic and loving parenting with the exception of Buddy Wilson. The writer who helped Michael write his story, James Hirsch, organized Michael's narrative in a chronological format. Mr. Hirsch, asked me to do an interview for the book which I decided to decline. Events that I was personally involved with are well documented in my Reuminations blog. Mr. Hirsch has put together a book that is commendable, quite readable, and that covers many of the phases of Michael's life, before and during his career with the Beach Boys. I have found the narrative to be easy to pick up and difficult to put down. The story that Michael has told and Mr. Hirsch has assembled was easy to read and somewhat illuminating about certain phases of the Beach Boys' careers and family relationships. For example, the section on the period when Charles Manson entered and plagued the Beach Boys' lives is a welcome and fresh perspective, and somewhat clarifies an important dimension of the Beach Boys' story that long term fans of the group knew, but was unknown to the public at large.

Michael's relationship with Brian Wilson, his cousin, is woven throughout the book. Some interviews that I have conducted with acquaintances of the group credit Michael with almost teaching Brian how to socially interact with people his age in the late Fifties and early Sixties. It would not be wrong to say that Michael was a strong supporter throughout Brian's early years composing and producing Beach Boy singles and albums. My personal opinion is that Michael and Carl Wilson's strong support of Brian allowed him the chance to build a self-concept as a top flight composer, producer, and performer. Though Brian disliked the constant touring with the Beach Boys, and would have rathered to be home writing and producing music, his short tenure as a performing Beach Boy helped him learn the strengths of each group member so as to shine a favorable light on the Beach Boys in concert performance.

Michael, as a rule, does not shy away from revealing his life triumphs and lessons from readers. He begins his own narrative in the Beach Boys' story by illustrating a tendency to being impulsive and somewhat juvenile in his life decisions well into his Thirties.

There is a theme of reaping negative consequences from his repetitive impulsive decisions that he made quickly without necessarily seeking out advice from friends and family. The development of his orientation to Eastern Thought and growing self-regulation of his own habit of  "ready-fire-aim" mode of decision-making shows strong growth that might have been absent without his meditation and Eastern Philosophical orientation.

Of course, the story of The Beach Boys is a narrative of "what ifs." What if Brian had released Smile as a solo album? What if the group had taken up several of the opportunities they passed up due to either lack of a consensus about what to do, or an impulsive manner of spending money from record companies and touring revenue as soon as it came in. The results of favorably taking on some of these opportunities are staggering. Bob Moog offered them ownership of his corporation for what was a reasonable price and the Beach Boys declined the offer. At different times, the early version of Three Dog Night known as Redwood, and the Exceptions, who became part of Chicago were given away due to group aversion to making Brother Records a viable entertainment corporation. What if the group had encouraged songwriting by all members instead of waiting for the next Brian Wilson composition? What if Brian had been encouraged to produce outside of the Beach Boys, either within the Brother Records structure, or perhaps outside of it?  One of my close friends calls this line of thought the "woulda, coulda, shouldas." It is a process that is ultimately self-defeating, but worth examining.

Michael looked many years for a soulmate. Sometimes, impulsivity led to relationship crashes.  Other times, the true  lifelong marriage of Michael to the Beach Boys interfered. Ultimately, Michael found his soulmate, just as did Brian. That his life is now more rewarding and stable could be explained many different ways. Suffice to say that Jacquelyne Love has been a strong and unconditionally supportive part of his life.

Every person, by my reckoning, can live fully and satisfyingly in life by using their talents and finding support for their deficiencies. Being a fulfilled son, or a father, or a co-worker, or a grandfather may happen or can be another one of those lost chances that cannot be regained. If age brings perspective, Michael Love seems to have wrestled some of his shadows and found a life about which he feels contented and proud.  He is proud of his career, having received the legal credit for lyrics he wrote so many years ago. That Brian did not confront Murry Wilson about those credits was a painful feeling that did not resolve itself through Brian. Brian's aversion to confronting his father is a possible explanation for these omissions. My hope is that these two talented men can set aside music and just be cousins like it was so many years ago.



Text copyright 2016 by Peter Reum-All rights reserved




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bleeding Blue: Dodgermania! by Peter Reum

When I was 6,  I was introduced to the Los Angeles Dodgers by my Aunt Olivia, a fanatical Chicago Cubs fan. She was a perfect example of the classic Cubs fan, as she had faithfully stayed involved through 80 years of the Cubs not qualifying for The World Series. She came to New Mexico to be near my mother who was her niece. Aunt Liv, as we called her got me interested in baseball, and taught me how tp keep score in the way she did it, which was self-designed. I would hop on my bike, eager to catch a game on her little black and white tv. I had my own yellow legal tablet, and would use my ruler to create my own box score sheet. We would grab some pop, and plant ourselves in front of the small 12 inch black and white television. and watch the games of the week, usually on and CBS and NBC.

The chance to view these games was exotic to me, and filled a big portion of my imagination.  I became a fan of the Class AA Albuquerque Dukes baseball team which was part of the Dodger farm system. My dad and I would hop in the car and drive the 86 miles to Tingley Field to catch a game. The Dukes were in the Texas League, and during the seasons each summer the Los Angeles Dodgers would travel to Albuquerque for an exhibition game with the Dukes. One year I got Sandy Koufax's autograph on a sheet of paper that I happened to find. From then on, I discovered each player's name, and memorized the basic stats for each Dodger. To see the Dodgers live was a major thrill. Famous Dodger pitcher Don Sutton was with the Dukes team that year, and he became a favorite pitcher of mine.

Because I was so strong a Dodger fan, my father's assistant, Ed O'Mara bet me on the outcome of the 1963 World Series. I became quite wealthy that year. I decided I would try to find a radio station that broadcast Dodgers games live. I became determined to listen to every Dodgers game I could find. I happened to find a clear channel radio station in Los Angeles, KFI, that had every Dodgers home game broadcast live, with a distinctive toned announcer named Vin Scully calling the action. Somehow, Mr. Scully had been able to get the announcing job while the Dodgers were still playing at Ebbets Field back in Brooklyn.  The years in Brooklyn were an incredible run for the Dodgers. They were difficult to beat at Ebbets Field, and the intimacy of that historic ballpark made the Dodgers hard to beat at home in Brooklyn.


Vin Scully calling a game for the Brooklyn Dodgers 1956

The familiar Dodger logo




The Brooklyn Dodgers, a team that was progressive and innovative, had been at Ebbets Field roughly 50 years before their relocation to Los Angeles in 1957. Their early and mid Fifties teams had an incredible set of players, including Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play major league baseball. There were a number of other players who are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame, or are honored as excellent players of that era. There was catcher Roy Campanella, Outfielders Duke Snider and Carl Furillo, Shortstop Pee Wee Reese, Pitchers Don Larsen, Preacher Roe, Johnny Podres, Don Newcombe, and Carl Erskine,  and first baseman Gil Hodges. In 1956 in the fifth game of the World series, Don Larsen pitched baseball's first perfect game against the New York Yankees. The Dodgers were called "dem bums" by frustrated but fanatically loyal fans. The annual ritual of building excitement, followed in the end by disappointment, became a common pattern to the long suffering fans, and "Wait ’til next year!" became an unofficial Dodger slogan.


Ebbets Field - Brooklyn Dodgers Home 1914-1957


Ebbets Field Razing for Apartments in 1960


Iconic View of Main Entrance to Ebbets Field



Jackie Robinson - First African American to Play in Majors

In 1957 the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, some players retired, many younger players stayed with the team. The move to Los Angeles was earthshaking for the National League. The New York Giants moved that same year to San Francisco, and the rivalry between the two teams continued on the West Coast. The Los Angeles Dodgers played at Los Angeles' Olympic Coliseum temporarily. The Coliseum was a cash cow for the Dodgers, who averaged over 3 million fans attending each season there. The Coliseum hosted crowds of almost 100,000 people for the 1959 World Series  against the Chicago White Sox. They won their first World Series after the move to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers had exceptional scouting pros along with  an excellent minor league group of clubs. The Triple A team was in Spokane, Washington, and the AA team was the Albuquerque Dukes. As the Brooklyn players retired, they were replaced by so-called "bonus babies."  This referred to the then huge signing bonuses each new player received after signing on the dotted line to become a Dodger. 
1958 was a transitional year. The Dodgers finished 7th that year in National League standings.


The Los Angeles Coliseum-Home of the 1932 and 1980 Summer Olympics
First Home of the Los Angeles Dodgers

In 2016, after 60+ years of announcing Dodger play by play, the legendary Vin Scully finally retired. His voice on KFI in Los Angeles was my main connection to the Dodgers. My last connection to my "rabid fan of the Dodgers" period, the man who was my main connection to 50+ years of being a "bleeding blue" Dodger fan was gone. He was the last connection in the Dodger organization to Brooklyn, having moved west with the team in 1958. There are so many remarkable players in Dodger history. Some have passed away, and some are still alive. For my era of roughly 1960 through 1971, there were so many outstanding players...Sandy Koufax, perhaps the best pitcher ever--Don Drysdale, a pitcher to be respected, Maury Wills, the first player to steal 100 or more bases in one season. There was Frank Howard, a towering man whose homeruns were amazing to behold. Tommy and Willie Davis, unrelated but were steadfast players at their positions.

Dodger Stadium, the famous home of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the last fifty years is a ballpark that was designed for the fans. It displaced a neighborhood known as Chavez Ravine, home to some of the earliest Hispanic families to settle in Los Angeles. Many Angelenos who loved that old neighborhood were angry to see the neighborhood razed. Still, the Dodgers have become such a venerated organization in Southern California that few people hold grudges about Chavez Ravine. The highlight of my Dodgers fan period was attending a double header in 1964 at Dodger Stadium. Thet were playing the St. Louis Cardinals, and by my reckoning today, I saw 6 Baseball Hall of Famers that afternoon. They were Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Ken Boyer, Bob Gibson, and Lou Brock. Also playing was Curt Flood, the player whose litigation got rid of the salary structure that had shackled players financially since the National and American Leagues were organized.



Early 20th Century Photo of the Historic Chavez Ravine Neighborhood


Early Sixties Groundbreaking for Dodger Stadium


The Dodgers Home-Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

For me, the common thread in my Dodger fan history has been Vin Scully, He is the most respected baseball sportscaster alive, and I will miss his calling of Dodger games immensely. His retirement comes at a time when the Dodger franchise is vital and competitive. For me, anyway, he was my connection to the Dodgers for over 50 years. Mr. Scully has been inducted into the Sportscaster Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to this iconic man. Perhaps now, in retirement, he can just be a fan and enjoy Dodgers games like myself and thousands of other Dodger fans. Thank you, Mr. Scully....




Vin Scully of the 21st Century-An Inspiration to Five Generations of Dodgers Fans


Text copyright 2016 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved



Saturday, October 8, 2016

Liberal Arts in the Rockies: Colorado College

When I graduated from high school at Los Alamos High School in New Mexico, the world was much smaller to my thinking. I had done reasonably well in high school, at least I thought so. There is an ongoing debate among politicians, academicians, and potential scholars regarding the value of a liberal arts education versus a focused educational program leading to a specialty in medicine, law, teaching, and so forth. I applied for matriculation at 3 public universities and 2 private colleges. I was fortunate to be accepted at all 5 institutions.

There are solid arguments on both sides of the debate about liberal arts and universities designed to offer entry into areas that are traditionally specialized and professional in designation. I am not going to repeat the major points on both sides of the issue. The main criticism of liberal arts colleges has been that an education from a liberal arts college does not lead to a highly paid profession. I would like to address that argument, amongst others in this essay.

Here are some points about my education. I went to school in a predominantly Hispanic and Indigenous elementary school in Espanola, New Mexico through seventh grade. The class sizes were rather large, and most of the students had not had the benefit of kindergarten or Head Start, which came later.

Being from a family with a professional elementary school teacher, my mom gave me the drive to learn to read, write, and do simple math before I entered kindergarten, which my family paid for privately. The teachers I had blamed my mother for making me "over-prepared" for first grade. In reality, I was just one of those kids who was always asking questions and trying to find the answer  to them. I would like to thank the Espanola Schools for hiring the teachers I had from first through sixth grades in elementary school.

I entered junior high school in Espanola, and did not do well as it was a difficult time for me, and I encountered some hostility from peers which today would be called "bullying." I never enjoyed this sort of interaction, and my grades and self-esteem began to plummet. When pressed to divulge why I was not thriving in Espanola Junior High School, I finally confessed that the seventh grade year had been difficult, and why that was true. My mother, the teacher in our family, asked me if going to a different school system would help.

I  was  able to help my parents understand that the kids teasing me were primarily Hispanic, but also some white kids as well. I had begun to understand the dynamics of being a minority, in that my school was 90% Hispanics and Indigenous students, and 10 % white. Poverty in the Espanola Valley has always been a contributing factor to the Valley's insular qualities, and compared with my fellow students, my family was considered wealthy. This was not the case, but it certainly appeared to be true from those student's perspective.

My family decided to place me in Los Alamos Schools  for the remainder of my education, and I thrived in a highly funded, highly competitive academic environment. The last 2 years of junior high, we lived in Espanola but I commuted with my dad 20 miles up the mountain to Los Alamos, where he worked. We moved to Los Alamos for my last 3 years of high school. The difference in my self-esteem and ability to get along contributed to my adjustment. The experience of the Espanola Valley Schools made me make a special effort to reach out to minority students in Los Alamos High School, and I made several lifelong friends that way.

Having graduated from Los Alamos High School,, my next task was to choose a college. I had personal experiences with all five colleges I applied to, and I chose Colorado College. The faculty and administration had persuaded Colorado College to drop their traditional approach to course selection, leading to a load of four or five courses per semester. The approach that replaced it was the Colorado College Block System, which concentrated all classes into a four week term called a "Block." Some courses were sufficiently intense that they were split into two blocks, with the first half in the early block, and the second half the following block. At the time I entered Colorado College, the Block System had only been in place for one year prior to my matriculation.

My curiosity was encouraged in this unusual liberal arts experiment. I sampled many different fields in my freshman year, and learned to write and research in the accepted manner for college level work. Today, I look at the broadly diverse sampling of courses I completed, and marvel at the opportunities I had. I learned how the United States is truly an oligarchy, with guidance from two exceptional faculty members, Fred Sondermann and Alvin Boderman. I learned beginning level Economics from Ray Werner. Classes were never lectures, but rather facilitated class discussions that were lively and whizzed by simply because they were challenging to the way we as high school students had learned.

I declared a major in Religion after taking two excellent courses on Religion in America and Buddhism. My own approach to spirituality was refined and challenged repetitively in the various classes I took. I also decided to use the Block System to develop a better command of the Russian language I had started to learn in Los Alamos. With several friends, I fell in love with the Southern Rockies, and Great Plains. I was able to learn what tall grass prairie had been, and that it was a threatened and disappearing habitat in the Midwestern United States and Front Range of the Rockies. Elizabeth Wright-Ingraham , granddaughter of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, explained that the loss of that tall grass prairie ecosystem was highly fatal to the various plants and animals native to it.

Courses on West African Art and Navajo Language broadened my already enthusiastic interest on those topics. The student life at Colorado College encouraged lasting friendships, and my roommates in my second and third years at CC are lifelong friends of mine.

A wonderful benefit of the Block System was the Block Break. After four weeks of rigorous study on one subject, the Block System Breaks of 4 days allowed us to clear our minds and enjoy activities with friends. In those brief periods between blocks, I had the chance to hike in Canyonlands National Park, to view an Ara Parsieghien  coached football game at Notre Dame, and to spend time in the cottage of a fellow student near the Collegiate Range in Colorado. It seemed that there was always an adventure awaiting if we as students took the time to commit ourselves to submersion in the next experienced adventure awaiting us.

There were drawbacks, in that some faculty were full of themselves and did not like eager beavers. The Psychology was completely Skinnerian, with the exception of three courses. I immersed myself in B.F, Skinner, only to conclude that while several of his theories were valuable, I preferred a more person-centered approach to counseling. One Religion Department faculty member, who shall remain nameless, found the whole idea of interests in Indigenous Religion and Buddhism to be unacceptable. Sadly, the guy was my faculty advisor. Despite his closeminded approach to Religion, I had excellent courses in Buddhism.

The benefit of a liberal arts education in the Block System was a boost to my own career later in life. I owned and managed book and record stores, managed a large hospital's materials management department, served as a personnel director, program director, administrative services director, and executive director in human services. I taught in undergraduate and graduate courses in a mid sized university, and worked as a professional counselor and therapist.

The versatility in this litany of my different jobs is a direct result of Colorado College's willingness to allow my mind to enter so many topics in courses without discouragement from advisors and department faculty members from around nearly every department at C.C.

Colorado College's variety of courses, top-flight faculty, willingness to experiment with educational methods, and extracurricular opportunities have made it excel in a number of dimensions that make it the most promising college education that I could imagine for any person whose curiosity about the world will never be satiated. This is the benefit of a liberal arts education.

Copyright 2016 by Peter Reum - all rights reserved