Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I remember when my son was born. He gave us a false alarm on March 20, 1991. My wife Sherrie and I rushed to North Hills Passavant Hospital in Pittsburgh. The practice run turned out to be one of the first of my son's pranks. He entered earth the next day. We were up all night at the hospital and he was born around 7 a.m. March 21st. When I left the hospital, I ws tired and hungry so I got an Egg McMuffin at the McDonald's in Wexford, Pa. where my wife and I worked seven years earlier.

I chose two biblical names I liked for our son, Joshua or Jesse, and offered these suggestions to Sherrie. My wife didn't like Jesse, so Joshua it was. I started calling him "Ja" or "Jaja" when he was little, not sure why. A year later, I played some gigs with some reggae Bob Marley musicians and they told me "Ja" is a name for God in their culture, from "Yahweh." Josh is truly a godly person in his worldview and treatment of others. Recently, he urged me to be more patient with a waiter who forgot our order at DuPar's. I was frustrated because dinner was late and I had a gig to rush off to. Josh said "Maybe the waiter's going through something in his personal life. Give him a break Dad and don't say anything." I didn't listen to Josh and complained. Josh was right. The waiter came to the table on the verge of tears and said "So sorry, my Mom just died." I ended up eating crow and felt like crap. I apologized to the waiter for complaining and told the manager everything was fine. Josh's questions and our discussions about life are rooted in intelligence and his grasp of what is eternally important.

21 is a big birthday, in our culture, a rite of passage. I even wrote a coming-of-age novel "Stick Man" about a guy turning 21. 21 is the number for my favorite baseball player, Roberto Clemente, the subject of my next film "Baseball's Last Hero" which is currently in post. I see 21 everywhere right now because my wife taped the number up around our apartment for Josh's birthday. To some, 21 is a big deal because they can go to a bar for the first time. This always seemed strange to me, because I grew up playing guitar in bars with my father since I was a boy and bars our no big deal to me. But I guess to kids who never got to go to one, it makes them feel grown up, like they're finally an adult. Josh is more mature than kids his age, in fact, sometimes I think he's more mature than me. His songwriting is light years ahead of what I wrote at his age. He has grown up to be a tremendous talent as a writer and performer with his band The Aeons. His songs are literate and thoughtful.

Looking across the living room at him last night while we were watching KISS perform on Jimmy Kimmel, I felt incredulous. I still see him vividly as the little boy with long blonde hair that woke me up every morning by jumping on me and challenging me to a wrestling match. He pretended he was Superfly Jimmy Snuka as he leaped and landed on my chest.

Happy Birthday Josh, you don't have to grow up if you don't want to. Here's some lyrics I wrote about the little blonde haired, blue-eyed Jaja:

I love you when I see you run

You're my buddy, my only son

I love you for your big blue eyes

I love you when I realize

God gave you to me

So my heart can be free

You're just like I used to be...

My son has laughing eyes

My son he makes me cry

My son is just like I used to be

Don't grow up too fast and find

What the world can be like before your time

Stay young, my son, your heart is free...


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