Happy Friday, y’all! How’s everybody doing with the self-isolation thing? We here in New York are four weeks in and well, we’re doing fine. We’ve gotten into a rhythm and routine and as long as the weather is decent, we get outside all the time.
There’s been a glimmer of positive COVID-19 news this week, thank God, as things may be improving slightly.
So on that note, let’s swing into Good News Friday. I’ve got two awesome musical stories this week, sandwiched around a truly incredible tale of a man who remembered a kindness from 30 years ago, mentioned it on Twitter, and well… I’m getting ahead of myself.
First up, TV star John Krasinski has started a TV show during the quarantine called “Some Good News,” and last week on his show he made a young girl’s dreams come true.
A kid named Aubrey is a huge “Hamilton” fan, and was supposed to go see the show in New York a few weeks ago. Of course, given the state of the world now, she couldn’t go.
Her Mom posted about it on Twitter, Krasinski saw it, and he arranged this magical sing-a-long with Lin-Manuel Miranda and much of the original cast.
Just perfect. A moment Aubrey will never forget.
**Next up, I’ve written about the awesome writer Chris Jones in this space before, someone I admire for his honesty, creativity, and humor.
Well, the other night something magical happened, something that made me put up with all the negativity and nastiness that pervades Twitter sometimes.
Jones began to tell a story, just because, and this is it in full. When he gets to the end, an amazing surprise happened:
A story about one of the greatest acts of kindness I experienced in my life. When I was 17, my little country high school, down to 60 kids, was closed by the board. I was bussed to a huge high school in town for my last year. It sucked.
I made a few friends, but I was quiet, bookish, and awkward; Pearl Jam’s “Ten” was still a year from saving me. I was so forgettable that, after, in that giant photographic collage of graduates that schools make, I did not appear.
One day I had a terrible cold. Bus ride to school was eternal. Blowing my nose constantly. I get to school. There was this preppie kid, Sean, who always made fun of my clothes. He once made fun of me for an entire chem class because I missed a belt loop with my belt. That kid.
I walk into class. He looks at me and goes, “What the fuck is that?” Points at my chest. Where, to my horror, I have deposited a giant snot rocket. I have missed the tissue and blown a booger the size of a corn flake onto my shirt.
” Is that fucking SNOT?” Sean yells, loud enough, of course, for the whole class to hear it. Readers, I want to tell you, I was immediately the temperature of the sun. Other kids gather around and laugh and point. High-school nightmare.
One kid, Pete Simon, comes over. Pete was always a good guy—not super cool, but popular because of his energy. Just one of those happy dudes. He joins the crowd and his first instinct, quite naturally, is to be like: Dude, that’s gross!
But then he looks at me, and he can see in my face, I guess, that I’m dying. Pete goes, “Guys, guys, that’s a piece of banana. Did you have a banana for breakfast, Chris?” And I’m like, “Uh, yeah! Yeah, I did!” Pete looks at Sean and goes, “It’s banana, idiot.”
Crowd disperses, I clean up my shirt, class begins. What could have been a defining incident in the worst way—I could have been Booger Boy forever—never comes up again. Until today, nearly thirty years later.
I graduate, almost grateful for the invisibility. Then “Ten” comes out, and because I can do a reasonable impression of Eddie Vedder, and the flannel shirts that country kids wore suddenly became cool, I find my feet. I get the chance to figure out who I am.
And in some weird way, it’s thanks to the kindness of Pete Simon, teenage hero of my life. I’ll never forget the look he gave me later, during class: “I got you.” I could cry, remembering it. Pete Simon. What a fucking champ.”
OK, so, great story, right? Only it gets better. A woman named Krista Ferrier sees the story and replies: “What high school? My husband is a Pete Simon and this sounds just like something he would do?”
And yeah, it turns out Krista’s husband is THE Pete Simon in Jones’ story. And Krista showed him the story, and Pete couldn’t believe Jones remembered that all these years later, and life is amazing sometimes.
**And finally today, some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic, as far as giving us amazing entertainment, are the video editors who splice together these incredible music recordings from dozens of singers doing tunes from different locations.
This is the best I’ve seen in a long time; the classic 1960s anthem “The Weight,” originally done by Robbie Robertson, with a whole lot of talented musicians, led by Neale Erickson.
Just so beautifully done. Have a great weekend.