Sunday, August 9, 2020

This Sunday, as is my wont, a fond remembrance

 This Sunday, as is my wont, a fond remembrance:

Many years ago, two folks were sharing an evening at the Hollywood Bowl; The musical play was “The Music Man”. However, that won’t be the point of this story, nor was this particular couple's advanced age. The night was a package of goodies to behold this warm summer evening. The Hollywood Bowl, “The Music Man”, and an all-American Iowa story, dressed up in all its theatrical finery, revived with the music for yet another generation to enjoy. It was pure gold, thanks to Meredith Wilson, a lasting musical genius.

Most of us go to the Bowl for a slice of life, the way it’s supposed to be. A Los Angeles night on display, along with the music of the masters being performed by the cream of our cities most elite musicians. As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, there is always a good chance the Hollywood Bowl becomes a part of one’s lifestyle. That’s not to say it’s the part that gets to sit way up front like we do now. Then, my friends, and yours truly, were more than happy to sit up at the top in what was effectually referred to as the nosebleed section.

            When the first swell of music comes up, the bowl fills with the poetic sounds which will last for a lifetime of memories. One day when magically you’re in a box seat at the Bowl, with good friends, the love of your life, and food that depicts sin, it’s tough not to have a grin a yard wide. Summing up this particular evening is a simple remembrance for me: from the street to a box at the Hollywood Bowl; who would have “thunk” it could happen.


“Glad To Be Alive Time”


It was "glad to be alive time" for me. I must have had my feelings written all over my face. People were smiling back at me. Unsolicited. Glancing around at the crowd is an enjoyment for me, especially in the pond, where anyone who has been in our business as long as we have is almost for sure going to run into a recognizable face or two.

            Above the aisle and directly behind our box, an older, distinguished-looking couple, who were just finishing dinner were raising their wine glasses in an obvious toast to one another. Their joy was compelling. I marvel at the sight of two older people who have obviously been together forever. These two were special; glamorous, genuine, and some may think them a rarity. Hey, for me, they were cool. And as we prepared to see the show, my eye caught his. We both nodded and left it at that. The only other obvious commonality was that the man and I were both wearing a little pin of American flags attached to our jackets.

            The show's first half concluded to a thunderous ovation. All of us were on our feet, time to get some coffee. I turned, and as I moved out of our box and across the aisle behind us, I waved an approval thumbs up at the man, and he did a likewise move. I figured what the hell, I’m going to say something to the couple; just a word or two about what a great show we were being treated to and then be off quickly, down the ramp to get some coffee. 

            Approaching their box, I took notice the man was wearing an air force wings pinned to his chest above the American flag. “Were you in the Air Force?” I asked. He proudly proclaimed with his distinctly British accent he was a flyer in the American Air Force during World War II. “Were you a flyer?” he asked. I responded that I had served in the army, a few years after him, during the Korean Conflict. With that he stood up, straight and erect facing me, extending his hand into mine. Without another word we acknowledged mutual respect, bringing forth a knowing nod from his wife. Though we were separated by a few years in age, our handshake was that of fellow club members greeting one another. Without further conversation, we moved physically apart . As the second half commenced. I felt a single warm teardrop make its way slowly down the side of my cheek.

         In retrospect, that man and I both knew it was a flip of a coin which allowed us to be members of the same club. To survive and be there at the Hollywood Bowl, for one more evening, enchanted by a time, a place, love, and the superlative music of the night. Two strangers from different places joined together by a bond of a mutual appreciation over how precious life is.

            Somehow, the Music Man's love songs had more meaning for me that evening. The hand of my own life’s partner was held closer to my heart than ever before. I wonder how many of my fellow club members allow the joy of similar feelings.

And lest we serve

What values will we embrace

For within our club

Guidelines, self-realized

Of a man’s hand extended to another

A day for fear, shared and lived, and removed

With age which too quickly comes

A moments reprieve of a dream

For this beauty

We all must find

As we enjoy the music of this night!

HK, Monday, 5 August 2002

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Give Us Our Words Back

     This morning, I was taken by this wonderful piece about twin girls that were born with a serious medical condition. The article told of a successful, twenty-two-hour surgery. One of these tiny, incredibly human, little dolls was rushed back in for a second surgery. That surgery was also successful. The reporter, while describing her condition, said that she was valiantly holding on.
     Valiant --what a wonderfully dramatic and descriptive word. I would venture a guess that we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hears that word, that doesn't instantly have a good thought about some good deed, fact, or fiction, from their past. Valiant is one of those great "Knights of the Round Table" words. Heroes and heroines, all in living color.

     In the very moment that I read the word, I was instantly transported way back to another and better time. A time when prior to each movie, the theater's projectionist would run a film clip of our American flag unfurling in a hefty breeze. The audience response was always the same. Without exception, all of us applauded and cheered. In that era, we were all patriots. World War II was responsible for pulling us all together.
     None of us need or want another world war. What I would like is to have some of my words back. Words that make me think of other words, that make me think of other words, that make me think. In other words, just to be a child for a moment of cheerful nice-ness. Chivalrous, courageous, reliable, romantic, Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel, even the Lone Ranger, and Tonto. Strange how those are the people and the things that carry me to a better place. Maybe if it is only for a few minutes, it still serves to invigorate and provide hopefulness for better things to come. 
     After all, there has to be many more people out there to gain from these words. People who are also reminded of a time when being socially gracious wasn't a downer. So, if you can find a moment or two, write down a word. A word that takes you to another time. See it in living color the way I did. Let your smile endow you with a new charge of well-being. If you can think it,  it will be there. Imagination was given to us as a tool to be used and enjoyed. Perhaps the next time you feel a little down, recall the word: valiant. Then what happens? I can't tell you the outcome. I can only imagine.

Uplifting, insightful, loving, humorous, desirable, 
courageous, ingratiating, reliable, and, of course...


Leave a Comment & Share Your Word With Me!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Courage & Imagination

     So much knowledge has been around for so long a period. Each day by the hour and minute, more and more, is being added to our well. New discoveries, new words, new things of all kinds. I read, I often study, and I constantly become increasingly aware of how little I know and how many basics I was not cognizant of, until a moment ago. I constantly question myself about the fact that I have lived this long and still managed to miss something along the way that was so damn absurdly obvious. A word or a thing that has been there for centuries, staring at people like myself in the face.
     How could I have not learned that simple thing? My God, if I missed so much along the way, how will I ever be able to catch or keep up? The fact is... I'm running out of time.
The idea that any of this is my fault is not the point I'm going to attempt to expound on. Besides... I don't often expound (I hope). Of course, writing could be considered an expounding of sorts.

"A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others."
Leo Rosten
Writer, philosopher, educator, and a good human being.

     Writing things down affords me the opportunity to look inside my head and determine whether I am in the advanced stages of either: self-endorsement, infantile amnesia, or just the normal advanced stages of dementia. Of the three suggested maladies, I can rule out dementia because of certain sexual activities that I still maintain a proclivity to remember.
     As has been my condition for almost my entire adult life, the folks that I place on a pedestal of admiration, without exception, have two superb attributes. Both attributes come in one single package. Seemingly, you cannot have one without the other. They are courage and imagination.

Again, I present another Leo Rosten quote:
"Courage is the capacity to confirm what can be imagined."

Da Harv's salvation is:
Yes, I can. Yes, I will. I see it being done. And an inbred (actual) hatred for the destruction of any kind. Within these revelations, I have found a solution, or call it a salve, for my ignorance. Another author referred to it as: "see it, and then do it".
Certainly, a proven fact would be the degree of peacefulness that can enter your life through your imagination. Acting on what you imagine not only requires courage, but can also bring an inner conflict, anxiety, and sometimes a degree of pain. If it's beginning to sound like the formula for growth, you're latching on to the dictates of all the great philosophers.

"No pain, no gain!" 

     If a person is experiencing pain, that person isn't wasting time thinking about how little they know and understand. When I jump into icy water, it's much colder when I deliberate before the jump. Also, the quicker I get in, the sooner I get out. The same might apply to hot water.

"Lukewarm water sucks."

     Imagination and dreaming are synonymous. An old guy once told me: "It's your head. Use it. If you dream it, bring the dream to life. Sure, it will take a great deal of courage. But you can get past your fear. Consider that you're not smart enough to be scared." ("Kid, you ain't smart enough to be that clever.")
     You are your own partner. Tell your partner each and every day: "Yes, you can. What a great dream. I saw it in living color. The opportunity of a lifetime. Your lifetime. Gather 'round folks, we're (my partner and I) are going to show you how it's done."

NOTE: all of the above self-encouragement will work equally as well when told to another real-life, live, and breathing partner. (That, too, will take courage and often the diminishing of an overly aggressive displayed ego.)

Tonight, I will dream
On the morrow to act
As if in my own life's play
With all stars created for me
On this stage that revolves
Stories not yet told
Women and men sharing
While teaching children to be bold
To dream, to imagine, and to see
Going on with courage
To become all they intend to be.


Monday, July 20, 2020

In Case You Missed It: April 5, 2020

How To Find Inner Peace

Heard a doctor on TV saying: In this time of the coronavirus staying at home, we should focus on inner peace. 
To achieve this, we should always finish the things
we start and we all could use more calm in our lives.

I looked through my house
to find things I’d started
and hadn't finished

So I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay...

...a bodle of Baileys,
a butle of wum,
tha mainder of
Valiumun srciptuns,
an a box a chocletz.
 Yu haf no idr how feckin fablus I feel rite now. 

Sned this to all who need inner piss. 
An telum u luvum. 
And two hash yer wands,
 stafe day avrybobby!!!


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Reflections continued

Portrait of Harvey by Kyu Bong Kim
28 September 1953

Korea, 1953

Sept. 1954

University of Seoul

Seoul Stadium


Be well, all!



      For many years, my favorite philosopher has been Leo Buscaglia. Though Leo died a few years ago, his teachings remain a discerning factor in the way da harv attempts to live his life. There was a time period when Leo helped me through the most trying period of my life. I have recommended his books to people of all ages, and from all walks of life.
      Leo Buscaglia was known on campus at the University of Southern California as the “Love Professor”. His dynamism and love for people and life is an accepted force for many educators all over the world. What follows is one simple and to-the-point Leo quote that I feel like sharing with some people I, too, care about.

“Love is a mirror.
When you love another,
you become his mirror and he becomes yours…
And reflecting each other’s love, you see infinity.”

And Leo also liked to quote another favorite of his: Leo Rosten.
This Leo said:
“It is the weak who are cruel.
Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”

      This Sunday’s material was stimulated not by me viewing the turmoil of our country’s vast display of uneasiness, but rather the repeat of the human condition we manage to ignore. I, for one, do not choose to forget our history; certainly, some remembrances are not pleasantly etched in my mind’s eye, but the good of who came before me stimulate the strength needed by my family, friends, and any and all who are unable to provide the strength these trying times cry out for.
      Long before my Father showed me his own personal display of courage and forbearance, he managed even in the worst of times to provide a hand to those around him in need. My Dad could have been a history teacher, he sure was mine--then came my high school baseball coach, my teammates, and the men who shared the imposing rigors of my life as a soldier in South Korea.

      It was 1953, perhaps the most trying times of all for the Korean people, especially the children; many of them left without brothers, or sisters, family, or friends; they wandered the small villages in dire need of food, and protection from the severest of nature’s elements.
      On July 27, 1953, at 9:00 PM, the fighting was suspended, we all breathed a protected sigh of relief. There were still sounds of explosions all over the place, and all of us were warned by our leaders, the Chinese communists can’t be trusted, don’t let your guard down, and we didn’t.

      Overnight, our company area turned into a makeshift American town; shiploads of mail, packages containing every kind of food you could think of began arriving from the states. Enter the Korean kids from all over the place. We never had a shortage of food; not in the American army, not amongst any of us. That’s not to say the kids came directly into our compound. It was merely us, a group of mostly nineteen and twenty-year-old guys finding ways of getting a lot of our stuff into the hands of these children. Overnight, our thoughts of the war had begun to dissipate. Yesterday had become history.
      While Leo Buscaglia’s explanation for the acts perpetrated by the despots of this world, it does allow this person his very own mirrored reflection. And in those fleeting moments, as self-worth is determined, perhaps then a single moment of infinity will be captured.

Be well, all!


When Harvey invited me to share my thoughts, I was initially hesitant due to never having visited the Motherland: a stranger to the turf. However, I can proudly say that I'm quite familiar with the culture and language, more than most fellow Korean-American peers. With that said, it has been fascinating to see and hear of Harvey's experiences in Korea. My mom, who was far too young at the time, shares the fascination when I relay what I learn. The once bare lands of Korea in the wake of the conflict are now thriving—making it difficult to fathom what used to be. All in all, I feel blessed to learn the history of my dual roots through firsthand accounts; Harvey illustrates the turbulent times with such clarity and detail.

Thank you for your service, Harvey.
I can't wait to hear more of your stories while we attempt to have more riveting conversations in Korean.

N. Chung

Monday, July 13, 2020

In Case You Missed It: March 29, 2020


We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.
Sir Winston Churchill

          During troubling times, the weakest and the strongest of us search, together, for answers. Why the pain, we ask? Is suffering a necessary evil in order for us to move ahead and prosper? And, how in the name of hell will we manage to cope with what trying days face us tomorrow, and tomorrow, and perhaps tomorrow once again.
Who do we blame? Where do we cast the responsibility for what’s taking place? In the past, we learned about fighting wars. We all knew who our enemy was. When a bomb was dropped on us, we searched out the enemy and marched together towards the ultimate victory our country has always been able to command. We defeated the enemy and humanely built their society back up to once again stand tall. We restored human dignity to those who chose to destroy us; it was war and peace with total transparency.

          I’ve always been enamored by the knowledge old people manage to store away during their lifetime. There were nine brothers and sisters on my Father's side, and eight brothers and sisters on my Mom's. (Birth control wasn’t part of the immigrant’s vocabulary.) Of all the dozens of cousins in our family army, I was the young guy who constantly leaned in to hear what gems the elders might share. Their stories were colorful to say the least. Dad’s side, especially, had aunts and uncles worth listening to. All of them were bright and outgoing; most played a variety of musical instruments. It wasn’t unusual for a number of them to break into song to go along with Grandma, my Father's Mom, taking a turn telling a story or two about how she and Grandpa Max escaped from Russia on a boat loaded with immigrants. My Father was a conservative, yet he was capable of throwing caution to the wind. He, like all of his brothers, was a family protector. My Mother was a liberal, though ready to physically fight anyone in her way. Mom and Dad were the height of disparity, yet in essence, the pulse of our family’s survival during the worst of times. An outsider who looked in at us had no doubt that we were dysfunctional at best. What those who were on the outside missed seeing about us was a simple fact of life: When the chips were down, we stood together. Mom and Dad created, and we lived within an environment of 'one for all and all for one'. Neither of them knew what the word 'quiet' meant. 
Can you imagine having three children to bring up during the Great Depression (August 1929  March 1933)? Reports show that there were twenty-four million unemployed Americans at the time. 
          In our neighborhood, many of the immigrant ladies would hold their own individual storytelling, like it really was confabs. Little kids like me were allowed to listen in. I was a sponge. Each group of women had their own particular design for displaying grief. I was a little boy then, but I remain with the ability of giving my impression of them saying, along with hand gestures, “Just vait, it vill get voise!” This beautiful Italian lady turned to me and asked me in almost perfect Yiddish if I’d like to join them for some spaghetti. For some reason, when it happened to be a very young child, they felt the child wouldn’t be able to speak English; or as they put it, speak American. 
The bottom line: Is it any wonder why so many kids love spaghetti, chicken soup, corned beef and cabbage, chopped liver, and a list far too long to give you this day. Or like one of those ladies said, “Just vait, it vill get woise!” You know what…she was wrong. It did get better; it always does! In this country of ours, it always has, and it always will get better.