Greetings fellow Santa Claritans, and welcome to a column that’s all about having fun around town! We’re fortunate enough to live in one of the great entertainment meccas of the world. Join me as we celebrate all the area has to offer!
Here’s what I got up to this week: A big bash at BMW with The Rembrandts, a new radio show at KHTS and a Christmas story about a stolen bike.
It’s that time of year where we find ourselves at parties with old friends and concerts with a hundred smiling kids singing carols about bells. I love all that, but I also enjoy the unexpected surprises that come along with the season of magic. For instance, finding myself at an “End of the Year” celebration at the BMW dealership…and let me tell you, they know how to throw a party!
Can I just say, free valet is a beautiful thing. We felt like a million bucks before our shoes even hit the red carpet…and yes, there was a red carpet! Photo ops and all! Then, walking in to the main hall of the dealership we were not only met with tasty hors d’oeuvres and delicious single-bite entrees (the fried artichoke and seasoned parmesan meatball were fantastic) but it doesn’t hurt to have a sexy hundred and thirty thousand dollar sports car decorating your tree either. And this was all just preamble for the main event, ladies and gents.
Most of you are unaware of this but I was once a semi-successful pop star. My brief shining moment came about fifteen years ago with a string of singles on a popular label resulting in a top 20 hit overseas. I had a blast. It was a dream come true touring places like Scotland, Belgium, Germany, Italy and England with my music…tour bus and band in tow. Amazing. There are moments that not only bring those days flooding back, but make me yearn to play music in front of an audience again. One of those moments was at the BMW dealership on Thursday night when The Rembrandts took the stage. A stage the dealership had mounted in their service bay and closed off for the event…not the greatest acoustics but super cool.
To be honest, the only song I thought I knew of The Rembrandt’s was I’ll Be There For You (theme for the hit TV show Friends), but actually a few of their songs were familiar. It also didn’t matter. These guys were pure joy to behold. They loved every note they played and every word they sang. Their joy was infectious. And when I say “they” I’m talking about the duo that have comprised The Rembrandts since 1989, Danny Wilde and Phil Solem. These guys are great performers and great songwriters. In addition to the songs I knew, like That’s Just the Way It Is, Baby every single tune they played was catchy, fun, clever and well written. And Phil is a killer guitar player. I mean these guys were pros right down to their boots. I was blown away…and inspired. Time to start hitting the stage again myself!
Danny Wilde and Phil Solem of The Rembrandts rocking the house at BMW of Valencia.
This was a big week for me personally as I premiered my very first radio show on KHTS (98.1 and AM1220). I’ve always wanted to be on the radio in some form or fashion and for a while I thought it would be through my music…and it was, for a memorable moment. But for now my focus has been on developing a show called Common Ground. This show is an experiment to find out if we’re really as divided as we’re led to believe. We’re all seeing more and more “clear division” in the media, especially when it comes to politics and the sources of information we expose ourselves to, so I want to find out if it’s really true. Do we really believe in such different things at our core in this country? My hunch is we all agree on most things…especially the important stuff.
Each morning I go to the gym I end up speaking with a friend of mine about current news, the state of the world, history etc. and we don’t often agree, but it’s always a stimulating conversation. Well, one day recently a gentleman overheard us and abruptly jumped in with a pretty aggressive viewpoint. We asked him how he came to his beliefs and his responses were so adamant and unwavering it prompted a fourth gentleman to suddenly enter the conversation. It startled all of us when he said, “That’s crazy nonsense.” Which prompted the adamant gentleman to fire back, “Well then you’re part of the problem!”
My friend and I were literally afraid this would come to blows right there in the middle of the gym. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar with family or friends the past few years. But this is what struck me — even though they walked away without doing each other bodily harm, they still could not hear, or didn’t want to hear, each other’s opinion. This sort of thing has been going on since the dawn of man and at times it can be stimulating, even beneficial. At other times, currently perhaps, it can be damaging to the fabric of our union.
So it got me thinking…why not create a public space where we can talk about difficult things while focusing on what we have in common? Common Ground. A space where we are not afraid of information or opinions that differ from ours because we have a sincere desire to understand each other. A return to civil discourse. I know it’s possible because I engage in these conversations quite often. I also know that conventional wisdom and history tell us things have been much worse in this country. The Civil War, for one. I believe we can work through all the challenges that face us as friends, neighbors and Americans if we start with simply hearing each other. I don’t have a degree in civics or history or any claim to brilliance or excessive knowledge on the topics we’ll be talking about on this show but that’s part of the point. I want to continue to educate myself. I have a sincere desire to listen and learn and better myself. I hope you’ll join me!
My sponsor for the show is Louis J. Esbin, Attorney at Law, pictured in the center.
And finally, here’s a Christmas story for you about an eight-year-old boy who got his first new bike stolen. That little boy was my son. His birthday is in late October and my wife and I decided to spring for a new bike, all his own. The bikes he’d learned on had all been hand-me-downs. We went to Valley Bicycles on Railroad Ave and I picked out a beautiful new bike and laid down my money. We surprised my son on his birthday and he was delighted. You remember that feeling…the look on his face was full of pride and freedom as we rode to school each morning. Christmas began to approach and one morning my son’s bike had disappeared from the side porch…this is behind a closed gate, mind you. We never left our bikes out in the open, always around the backyard or side porch.
We were shocked, saddened, angry. I didn’t know what to tell my boy…I called the bike shop thinking the thief may have tried to sell it back. I called the police and filed a report. There wasn’t much anyone could do. But then a friend of my wife posted the story on the Santa Clarita Facebook page. And here’s where the story turns a corner…the post got many sympathetic responses but one man in particular wrote that he wanted to give my son a bike. This bike had belonged to his son but he’d long grown it. He attached a picture of this beautiful silver bike that had obviously been customized and loved by this man’s little boy. But he wanted my son to have it.
This touched our hearts in such a huge way as Christmas arrived and we drove over to the man’s house to pick up the bike. All he asked of my son was that he pay it forward to some other little boy or girl when the time came.
So that’s what we’re doing this Christmas. My son has outgrown the bike and is eager to find someone in need to pass it on to.
Send a brief story of your candidate’s circumstances to firstname.lastname@example.org and my son will choose the lucky boy or girl to have the bike pictured above! He’s looking to give it to child who had their bike stolen, or broken or lost…or just a kid who wouldn›t be able to get one otherwise.
Until next time, have a wonderful holiday. Here’s wishing you and yours all the best in the New Year!