Politics*Music*Life

Feb. 6, 2015

Once upon a time in a land just a few hundred yards from where I sit, I attended Beverly Hills High School and was a member of the BHHS wrestling team. Wrestling is not a glory sport. Girls never chase after wrestlers, as they are just a different breed.

Today I attended practice for the current squad who are about to face the toughest test of their young wrestling lives, Bay League Finals next week.

I sat there with my old friend Dr. Gary Solnit and our beloved 82-year-old coach Jack Gifford. What a thrill to walk into the old practice room with the heater going and the kids working out and running laps indoors.

The smell alone brought back memories I cannot accurately describe to someone who has never experienced the blood, sweat, pain and tears a high school wrestler experiences in a sport most people in your own high school will never experience. Some of the kids are on the football team, but it takes a rare breed to handle this sport. 

To be a wrestler, you have to wrestle at a weight you can compete at. If you wrestle at your natural weight, you are sunk. Every kid you will face will most likely be wrestling at a 10-12 pound deficit. AT least that is how it was when I wrestled 1975-1978.

I'm not going to go "in my day, we had it so much tougher" on you. That isn't fair to these kids who sacrifice so much. I will just say that many years have passed and the rules and laws have changed so much that it is rare you will find a kid who experiences the type of discomfort many of their predecessors did.

Let me also state that I was not the most-talented wrestler (by far) on any of the squads I was on. I was a useful wrestler. In fact, I was so useful, our star wrestler Mark Schoenfield beat me to bits for two years. I helped prepare him for bigger and better. He did pretty well, so I always took great comfort in my broken noses and bruised ribs helping our team to the BEST of my ability.

When I was a senior, I had to face a kid from Torrance High School who was one of the best in the state of California. Kaichi was a much-feared quick pin artist. 

Coach Gifford and my squad knew going in we had a big chance to win that dual meet. In fact, it was one of the few times our wrestling room was overfilled for a meet. This team had several top wrestlers and I was very nervous. 

"Platt. You will NOT get pinned by this kid," coach Gifford drilled into me all week. He then reminded me that I must make weight. This was one weight class under my usual 120-pound weight class that year. So I had to reduce and take on a top wrestler. This was daunting.

I lost the battle, but I won the war. I stalled, ran and weedled my way to a 6-1 loss and we won that dual meet. Now most of you must be saying to yourselves "What a loser." I say anyone who knows ANYTHING about this sport, knows that it IS a team sport and sometimes you take one for the team.

That is what Jack Gifford instilled on me and my teammates. I am a better man for having experienced the pain and torture, the discipline and the utter joy high school wrestling brought this kid who was three-years removed from losing his mother and being thrown into a new community, after my father remarried.

I took this challenge very seriously and it has helped shape me for more than 40 years. 

I don't recommend wrestling for everyone, but there is a certain pride we former wrestlers carry with us throughout our lives.

For some of us, the thrill of a Thursday afternoon in the high school wrestling room brings back both sensory and emotional memories I never got anywhere else.

Thanks Gary, Shoney, Allen, Engel, Farrell,  Cabrera (RIP), Fu and the rest of my old Norman mates for three of the hardest, yet best years I ever experienced.

Feb. 6, 2015

By Marc Platt
February6, 2015

 

Venice, California is home to a unique Pop & Jazz outfit called The Strands, who play in and around the Los Angeles area with their brand of Pop & Jazz Music. They are fronted by Amanda Campbell and have produced a new recording with 5 upscale recordings that bring back the best of old-school adult contemporary new standards.

If you like the old Dustry Springfield records as much as I do, you will love this stuff.

Campbell and her crew are solid and tight in the recordings and compositions. Songs like "Stop and Turn" (by Susan Ferrrari) are well-thought out and mean something to the listener. "I've got miles to go on this flight" is a wonderful sentiment about slowing it all down and enjoying life. "..And I'm bending to the light." Campbell has a way with words and these words mean something. Her band plays to the words and messages very well.

I have had the good fortune to share several bills with this band in recent months and appreciate their artistry and drive to entertain.

There is a Shirley Bassey feel to the song "Feelin' It." I appreciate this band's adherence to it's Jazz roots with modern emotions. I love the fact that this band can produce a song about the joy of playing this music they love together as a unit. "Feelin' it deep inside...Are you feelin' it too." Very good sentiments and all of us musicians can appreciate where they are coming from.

The EP closes with with "Flying" (by Susan Ferrrari). This song has a modern girl group feel to it. Great harmonies and the piano work is stellar. In fact, the musianship is solid throughout this recording and Campbell is a unifying presence on stage and on record, something not always that easy to pull off.

"One of these days/I'm gonna turn it all around/Lost in the maze in th eunderground." What a great message of hope and frustration all at once. Any artist who has tried years to achieve what they consider "success" can appreciate this EP ("Entaglement) and The Strands.

I highly recommend you check them out soon.

 

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/TheStrandsOfficial

 

Dec. 12, 2014

Paul Zollo's 'Universal Cure' review
By Marc Platt

Paul Zollo has been a top-notch music writer, critic and connoisseur of popular music for decades. He has also been a songwriter, performer and producer of his own music. To say Mr. Zollo is a supportive member of the Los Angeles cultural scene would be an understatement.

'Universal Cure' is another fine example of Zollo's lyric-central technique and acumen. The man has worked with many great musicians as a lyricist including the late-great comedian Steve Allen. Art Garfunkel has performed on one of his albums. He wrote books with Paul Simon and Tom Petty. His book 'Songwriters on Songwriting' is practically a bible for serious writers in Los Angeles or anytown in the world.

The CD begins with "Mississippee Sheiks" and sets the tone that this is a CD full of ear candy to go along with Zollo's heavy-duty lyrical content. He tells stories, cajoles listeners with a landscape that is uniquely original. He has worked with Darryl Purpose for years writing songs. You could say Zollo collects talented collaborators and that is evident by the husband & wife team of Earl Grey and Lisa Johnson who leave their footprints all over the recording.

I really connected with the poppy "God Gave Me Something To Keep." The message is clear and Zollo leaves his audience with hope and a reason to pull out your 'Graceland' album for a reminder of the great sounds that world music offers us and inspire us to do better as artists.

"Muddy & Bo" delivers for those of us who revere the founding fathers of Blues, Rock and Soul. 

"Baltimore" sets the somber tone of Edgar Allen Poe's final days in Maryland. Zollo is impeccably well-read, but never writes above his listeners heads. He eductates with his lyrics and leaves you wanting to check it out on Google. God forbid we should ever open a book. We don't need to with artists like Paul Zollo to remind us that music can be a teaching tool. 

"Clown Jam at the Moose Lodge" is just plain feelin' good fun. I love the accordion on this track.

"Maggie" is tender and telling as Zollo recounts lost love. Solid writing and the mood is reflective.

"Bow & Arrow" rocks a little harder than most of the tracks and has a Tom Petty vibe with some crafty chord changes thrown in. The story goes against the musical backdrop with serious lyric matter regarding native Americans. "The Ghost of Crazy Horse" carries on with the serious subject matter that Zollo is known for among songwriting circles.

I LOVED "Tallahassee UFO." It rocks and grooves in a great pocket throughout. Great hook line also. I can see this one getting some airplay if the CD is serviced to radio.

Paul Zollo doesn't write short songs. They groove and are worth repeat listenings. This record borders on 70 minutes timewise. I suggest playing the CD in your car on a loop. You will appreciate where the man is coming from. Great production and assemblage of talent around him.

Highly Recommend: "Tallahasse UFO," "Baltimore," "God Gave Me Something to Keep" & "Universal Cure."

Dec. 9, 2014

Look. We all have our First Amendment Rights and should voice our opinions, but honestly, the castigation of Aaron Sorkin for writing a Newsroom Segment on "Campus Rape" is really over the top.

I'v ebeen a fan of his writing since the brilliant "A Few Good Men" play and movie two decades ago. This dude can write and he seems to always be moving the conversation forward on whatever issues he writes about in his movies (like "Social Network") and his past long-running "West Wing" TV series.

Does America really want our dramatists and talented writing rooms to avoid the big issues that are confronting our country and the rest of the world, because you find it unpleasant? 

I saw a tweet regarding my Jewish faith in which a character on the show says "I don't like Jews." The tweeter thought it was in bad taste. SPOLIER ALERT. The character (in reality) was a GHOST of Will's father he chats with throughout the episode, you moron. You probably didn't even bother tpo watch the episode until the end, because you (like many) have the attention span of a gnat.

Do you want all of our greates writers to just stop creating art because you can nit pick the "Less tasteful" parts and dissect them and go on social media to prove you have a brain?

Look. I know Mr. ASorkin doesn't hit a home run every at bat, but he sure gets on base a lot and really gets his viewership to think twice about these stories and issues.

That's it. That is all I've got on this. The series ENDS next week and will be missed by more than just myself.

Thank you Aaron Sorkin for many years of thought-provoking drama.

Dec. 8, 2014

Look. We all have our First Amendment Rights and should voice our opinions, but honestly, the castigation of Aaron Sorkin for writing a Newsroom Segment on "Campus Rape" is really over the top.

I'v ebeen a fan of his writing since the brilliant "A Few Good Men" play and movie two decades ago. This dude can write and he seems to always be moving the conversation forward on whatever issues he writes about in his movies (like "Social Network") and his past long-running "West Wing" TV series.

Does America really want our dramatists and talented writing rooms to avoid the big issues that are confronting our country and the rest of the world, because you find it unpleasant? 

I saw a tweet regarding my Jewish faith in which a character on the show says "I don't like Jews." The tweeter thought it was in bad taste. SPOLIER ALERT. The character (in reality) was a GHOST of Will's father he chats with throughout the episode, you moron. You probably didn't even bother tpo watch the episode until the end, because you (like many) have the attention span of a gnat.

Do you want all of our greates writers to just stop creating art because you can nit pick the "Less tasteful" parts and dissect them and go on social media to prove you have a brain?

Look. I know Mr. ASorkin doesn't hit a home run every at bat, but he sure gets on base a lot and really gets his viewership to think twice about these stories and issues.

That's it. That is all I've got on this. The series ENDS next week and will be missed by more than just myself.

Thank you Aaron Sorkin for many years of thought-provoking drama.