Checking out Christmas Lights with Iggy Pop, Elton John and Jimi Hendrix


After a year of playing with the Nike plus technology, I have become addicted. It is a good addiction, as it is getting me outside more, even in this inclement weather. Sunday night,
December 9, was just such a night. I purposely picked an evening walk, so to check my neighbor's Christmas lights...the snow was cleared pretty well, and we were just about to get hit snowy, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Come and join me on my walk...

My IPod is full of my music, and it is pretty eclectic. Tonight, I wanted easy, contemplative music early on, and then moved to some Jazz, and then, onto some quick moving, fun stuff.

So, the first 45 minutes were old Elton John, from either Honky Chateau (1971), or
Madman Across the Water (1974). Music is something that is always in our home, so either Adam or I have something on.

As I went out into the dark evening, with snow everywhere, I started with Elton John's "Rocketman," a nice thoughtful song, that put me over the Main street bridge at Milwaukee Avenue. Trying to figure a good walk where I could enjoy safe footing and also the best Christmas lights, I ventured down Milwaukee Avenue West, taking a left on highway 26, to cross the Rock River one more time, and start getting into neighborhoods. The evening was cold ( seven degrees), but crisp. You could smell the
nice smell of wood burning stoves or a good fire in a fireplace.

As I got warmed up, my pace quickened. I always check new sidewalks, but was pretty lucky and getting along at a pretty good clip as the music continued through about
ten Elton John songs ( Madman across the water, Honky Cat, Mellow, Rotten Peaches,
Levon, Tiny Dancer, and finally, from his 1970 album, Country Comfort), when, as I hit a nice long incline, near halfway, ( I was planning for 90 minutes), Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man"came on. The perfect song for a nice walk on a snowy evening. Great beat as you are clomping through snow on the roads, checking out the neighors' Christmas lights. The bass line, along with the electric organ, just keep me going, as all I could hear was Hancock and my breathing.

Near halfway, I saw a house with reindeer, Santa, and an airplane for Santa, all Balloons, well lit up. Against the snow, and the neighbor's blue lights, the yard looked like a kid's playground. I had cross Monroe Street and began checking out each street, one at a time. About the time I got into a street without Christmas lights, Iggy Pop came on (
Candy, from Nude and Rude, 1990) and that pumped up the walk a bit.

Like running, when I head out for more than an hour, I try to relax, and my questions, my problems and concerns seemed to get answered. It is that time, that time that allows contemplation. The Music, while it is there, only aids in the comfort, and the relaxation. I am pretty careful also, even while listening to Jimi Hendrix's remastered,
"Are you Experienced?" to watch cross traffic and my neighbors out with their dogs.

During my walks, I go places, in my memories. Tonight it was running on a track, at Los Gatos, while my college coach, Dan Durante, called out splits for the mile repeats with Paul Gyorey, my compatriot on the cold winter nights for intervals. I could hear Dan laugh as we asked for some coffee or maybe a break. Twenty five years later, I can still hear his voice, and then, boom, I see a neighbor walking a dog....

It is a nice, cold evening, with no stars in the sky. The lovely voice on my Nike plus, tells me how many minutes to go, which I tune out until about twenty to go. I cross the Rock River again at Highway 26, and notice the lit up Christmas Tree in our River Walk Park, which is closed due to the high snow. The lights are a wonderful collage of red, blue, yellow and green and stick out, even after dark, in the wonderfully deep snow, which surrounds the tree and the playground.

The walk, and the music continues..David Bowies' Space Oddity and Heroes come on, and then some old Rod Stewart, so I decide to add on another mile, as " Cut Across Shorty, Mandolin Wind and Handbags and Gladrags take me home, and the nice women's voice on my plus tells me, " Seven point two miles and one hour, forty five minutes" A nice brisk walk before I get back to editing and working on business plans...
just as I stop, I notice that my mustache is frozen...

Combining music with my walking does add something. There are days when I walk with my Nike plus with no music at all, as I need the real quiet. But there are other times, when the music is my partne, like running in the old days with Gerhard Behrens, my college teammate or my crew from Bellarmine. Those memories keep one alive and content..but for now, it is time to get on with the evening.....

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