Sergeant Tony's Blog

Archive for August, 2017

One Good Egg — 8/10/2017

Aug. 10th 2017

In the spring of my senior year of high school I lied to my mother and said I was camping with some buddies in the Ozark National Forest. What I actually did was drive two hours to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend my first concert. I knew mom would say “no” if I asked, so I just didn’t ask.

By the spring of my senior year in high school, I no longer thought of myself as a boy under my parent’s care. I was earning my own money. Bought my own car. Paid for my own gas and insurance. Bought my own clothes. Ate 90% of my meals out, paying with my own money. Gave money to my mom every Friday when I got paid to help ends meet at home. And on top of that, I’d already joined the Marine Corps. So, I decided it was time I got a little more independent.

The concert wasn’t a big time event at all. No stadium rock show. No laser lights. No drugs being passed around. No “wooohooo” drunk chicks riding piggy back on some dude’s shoulders. I couldn’t even convince any of my pals to go with me. So I drove to Tulsa by myself to see a little known guitar player named Leo Kottke.

On the stage with Leo was a plastic chair, two microphones, and two acoustic guitars leaning on stands. That was it. I’ve been in living rooms larger than the venue he was playing that night in Tulsa.

When the concert was supposed to begin, a guy came out on stage and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Leo Kottke!” Then Leo walked out to the cheers of a couple hundred of us, picked up one of his guitars, sat down, and started to play.

I sat on the front row and learned to hate Leo Kottke.

Let me explain that. My envy bubbled up like hatred, but it was really just acute admiration and awe. Here’s why.

Sitting to my left were two pretty college girls. I really wanted to talk to them, but I was shy and though I’d convinced myself I wasn’t a high school boy any longer, they wouldn’t have known that. They were WOMEN! And if I’d lied and said I was in college too, their next question, no matter what it was, would have revealed that I was a phony.

But LEO talked to them.

While he played his 12 string guitar!

As his fingers flew flawlessly up and down the neck of his guitar, producing unbelievable music from the 12 string, he carried on a conversation with these two girls! As if he were two different people: the musician and the conversationalist! “Thanks for coming. How are you ladies? Are you from Tulsa? Oh, you’re in college? Where do you go to college? What are you majoring in? blah, blah, fricken, blah!” He was doing two things I couldn’t do and he was doing those two things at the SAME TIME! THE SAME TIME!

SHOW OFF!

Leo sings, but he’s not a particularly good singer. So I took some solace in that. At least he wasn’t great at everything! Allegedly, before he picked up the guitar he tried to play the trombone and sucked at it. So there was that.

In all truth, I sat there mesmerized and spellbound.

I’d driven all that way and lied to my moms just so I could hear him play one particular song, “A Good Egg.” I was like a kid on Christmas morning waiting impatiently for their parent’s signal that they could come in and see what Santa had brought. When at last I heard the first note of that song I knew so well, I could literally feel the muscles in my face starting to fatigue from the big grin I couldn’t suppress. I’d long since abandoned my attempt to look cool in front of these college girls. I was in the presence of greatness and just wanted to soak it all in.

After the concert, Leo hung around and talked and signed autographs. I had no pen or paper, but I did manage to meet him and babble something inane. “Mr. Kottke, sir, I er uh … well, that’s to say, um … your music … you see, uh well … I really like it.” (Oh, lord, did I REALLY just say all of that nonsense … pathetic … geez.) He probably glanced over to Security and gave them a nod in my direction, alerting them to the borderline stalker blabbering on in front of him. Leo Kottke was gracious and patient with this young runaway from Arkansas.

Leo Kottke transcended “good at something” to the level of “phenomenal at something.” It was the first time I’d been in the presence of that kind of spectacular. I knew people who were good at things, but I knew no one who was phenomenal at anything. A few years earlier, my 8th grade English teacher told me that she “expected greatness” from me. A burden for which I was unsuited to bear. I wasn’t great at anything and saw no visible means toward that end in the future.

I was an average 17 year old kid, ordinary, and unremarkable. I was an average athlete. An average, to sort of above average, student. (I had to work twice as hard to be a “good” student.) I had no talent and no means to achieve “greatness.” It wasn’t until years later that I realized there were things I could actually excel at. I could have a great curiosity. I could exercise great kindness. I could be a great friend. My sense of loyalty and duty could be great. I could have a great sense of humor. I could have a great work ethic. I could read great books. I could serve a great country.

Unlike talents and skill-sets that can fade, none of those things—curiosity, kindness, friendship, loyalty—deteriorate with time.

You might not care for Leo Kottke’s style of music, and that’s okay. There’s no accounting for taste. But you’d certainly have to acknowledge his talent. I don’t care for jazz, or country, or hip-hop, or rap, or polka, or death metal … but I can recognize the talented players in those genres. When I lived in Japan I attended several concerts featuring traditional Japanese music. The Shamisen is a Japanese banjo that’s so difficult to play that new students generally practice for months before they’re able to make any kind of noise come from it. You and I might not care for the Shamisen, but we can all admire the dedication of those who play it well, or at all.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have the talent and skill of those musicians, or athletes, or writers, or whatever, who seemingly are from a different planet. We call them “stars” and “super stars” for a reason. Their gifts and talents are so rare they don’t even seem human. We mortals just sit back and admire them. I own two guitars and have tried to play them over the years, but I barely sound like more than a first year guitar student.

My first night with Leo Kottke confirmed the fact that I was average, at best, and would only be granted the gift of recognizing genius without the ability to achieve it.

My mom passed away in 2012 and of course I never told her about the trip to Tulsa, Leo Kottke, sleeping in my backseat parked at a Howard Johnson’s, none of it. A few months after that concert I was on a plane to Parris Island and the Corps and confessions to mom about my solo high school road trip didn’t seem necessary after that. But I always felt bad about lying to her. I still do.

I’ve seen Leo Kottke several times since that Tulsa gig. He’s 71 years old now and still going strong. In fact, I saw him here in Memphis just last year! And he played “A Good Egg” again … for me, I’m sure!

— 30 —

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Next Tuesday morning, the 5:30 class will meet at St. Mary’s track. St. Mary’s is located at Perkins and Walnut Grove.

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DO YOU USE VENMO?

If you’d like to pay using VENMO, you may! I’m Tony Ludlow on VENMO!

If you’re unfamiliar with VENMO, it’s a payment app for your phone (or computer) owned by PayPal and functions like a check. You can LITERALLY make a payment on your phone in less time than it takes to fill out a check! Click, click, click, done! All done!

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TODAY’S NUTRITION TALK
by First Sergeant Ashley Holloway, MS, RD, LDN,
(An Registered Dietitian has a BS in Food Science, followed by a one year internship through an accredited university, and then with the recommendation of the internship program’s supervisor, a national examination is required. After that, an RD must have continuing education units annually in order to remain active and registered. An RD is an expert, not a hobbyist or a “food enthusiast.” You could follow the nutrition advice of some Facebook friend of a friend … or you could follow the advice of a scientist.)

Ashley recommends that you read this excellent article from the New York Times.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html

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80% OF YOUR WEIGHT LOSS SUCCESS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EXERCISE!

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MAKE A FACE!!!!

INCREASE YOUR WEIGHTS!

YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN!

What you get out of the workouts is determined by you.

How much do you work? How much effort you put into trying to do all of the repetitions with proper form and how much weight you’re using will determine what you get out of each workout.

YOU DETERMINE WHETHER YOUR WORKOUT IS HALF-ASS OR KICKASS!

It’s time for you to go up in weights … that’s what I’m thinking!

MAKING A FACE (THE GRIMACE) IS THE POOR MAN’S (OR WOMAN’S) FACELIFT!

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EVERY WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY ARE T-SHIRT DAY!

WEAR YOUR RANK INSIGNIA SHIRT, SUB 7 SHIRT, OR OTHER USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP SHIRT EVERY WEDNESDAY!

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Have a GREAT Thursday!

Yours in good health and fitness!

Sgt. Tony

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