Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Another year and another opportunity to write the wrong date on my checks. Only three days into the year and I've already taken that opportunity. As a child I could never understand why adults always talked about how quickly time passed, for me it moved at a snail's pace. No longer, now I wish that I could slow time down, if only just a little.

For the first time in a long time, I really celebrated the turn of the year, taking a deep breath and realizing all I have and how lucky I am for my loving family, for a roof over my head, food on the table, and for simply being alive. The older you get, the more you learn not to take those things for granted.

Another good thing about getting older is you learn to not worry so much about what other people think of you. My son is currently at the age where he would as soon die as be embarrassed. I remember those days well and completely sympathize with him. But at some point in life you begin to realize that other people are far more concerned about their own image than yours, and it's a very liberating feeling.

With that in mind, I give you a piece of music entirely appropriate for the New Year, a Central European tradition that for all its schmaltz and un-hipness, sends a chill up the Central European half of my spine. It brings me back to my grandparents and all those Germanic restaurants they took me to in Chicago and Milwaukee. It brings back the place where my parents met, a hole in the wall night club on North Avenue in Chicago called Stadt Wien, and the real Vienna, the charming city on the Danube that I visited with my half sister Eva almost twenty years ago. It does not evoke the dark, post war city Graham Greene and Carol Reed portrayed in their classic film  The Third Man, but rather memories of my father's wiener schnitzel, of sacher torte and the coffee with whipped cream they used to serve at CafĂ© Vienna in the old Bismarck Hotel in the Loop.

The only disclaimer is the title of the piece which is a bit misleading. The Danube is neither blue, nor is it particularly beautiful.

Enjoy if you dare:

Happy New Year!

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