Song of the Day #1974

Song of the Day: Big Energy is credited not only to the team that gave us “Genius of Love” and to Mariah Carey (who recorded “Fantasy“, featured yesterday), but also to the singer who recorded it, Latto. Released in September 2021, it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart. Check out the original music video (below) and a remix version with Mariah and DJ Khaled [YouTube  links]. From “Genius of Love” to “Fantasy” to today’s song, we conclude another exercise in tracing the art of sampling.

Song of the Day #1973

Song of the Day: Fantasy is credited to the team that gave us “Genius of Love” and the singer of this song, Mariah Carey. This was the first song by a female artist to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100, staying at #1 for eight weeks, and claiming the #1 spot on the Hot Dance Club and R&B charts as well. It makes sweet use of the “Genius of Love” sample—one of the most sampled songs of the 1980s—and was a huge commercial and critical success. Check out the music video [YouTube link].

Song of the Day #1972

Song of the Day: Genius of Love, words and music by Adrian Belew, Chris Frantz, Steven Stanley, and Tina Weymouth, was a Top 40 hit for the Tom Tom Club from their 1981 eponymous debut album. The track went to #1 on the Billboard Disco Top 80 chart in 1982. Back in May 2022, I did a threesong arc in tribute to the art of sampling. Today starts another such arc with this 40-year old dance hit that brings me back to my days as a mobile DJ! Check it out here [YouTube link].

JARS December 2022 Issue Published!

The December 2022 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has just been published on the Scholarly Publishing Collective. It should be live on Project Muse in about two weeks. And hard copies should be in the hands of print subscribers in 2-3 weeks.

This is the penultimate issue of JARS. We are headed toward a truly grand finale in 2023. Watch this space!

Song of the Day #1971

Song of the Day: Sicilienne, Op. 78, composed by Gabriel Faure, was written originally as an orchestral piece in 1893, before going through several iterations culminating as part of a suite for full orchestra. Check out the piano and cello duet by Gautier Capucon and Michel Dalberto [YouTube link]. This “Song of the Day” is a preview of what’s to come on Notablog. Starting on January 1, 2023, I will begin a month-long tribute to the music of the “Breaking Bad” franchise on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the debut of “Breaking Bad“, which premiered on January 20, 2008. This composition is heard in Season 2, Episode 2 (“Cobbler”) of BB’s triumphant spin-off series, “Better Call Saul“. That episode begins with Jimmy’s brother Chuck McGill, sitting at the piano, attempting to play this piece [YouTube link]. A month from today, I’ll post the first of 31 musical highlights from “Breaking Bad“, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” and “Better Call Saul“. Stay tuned …

Song of the Day #1970

Song of the Day: The Thriller Megamix, mixed by DJ Jason Nevins, highlights some of the hottest tracks from Michael Jackson’s masterpiece. On this date in 1982, the “King of Pop” released the all-time global best-selling album, “Thriller“. It would have an immeasurable impact on popular music and culture. It spent an unprecedented 37 nonconsecutive weeks at #1 (and is actually back in the Top Ten this week), was the first album to spawn 7 Top Ten Hits, and advanced the art of music video—from the sparkling “Billie Jean“, the first video by a black artist to air in heavy rotation on MTV, to “Beat It“, directed by Bob Giraldi, with its kick-ass Eddie van Halen guitar solo and its Michael Peters choreography, to the John Landis-directed iconic short film, “Thriller“, a 14-minute music-and-horror dance extravaganza. Many of the songs on this all-time best seller are staged in “MJ: The Musical“—a wonderful “jukebox musical” that I saw on Broadway this past summer. This megamix highlights five key songs from MJ‘s 40-year old masterpiece, an unforgettable part of the soundtrack of my youth and of my years as a mobile DJ: the title track, “Billie Jean“, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’“, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)“, and “Beat It“. It is not without some poignant irony that this anniversary comes during the funeral week of my sister, Elizabeth “Ski” Sciabarra. She and I both saw MJ with his brothers on the 1984 Victory Tour and the 1988 Bad World Tour. We danced to his music anytime it echoed through a dance club. And every time she took one of her dance teams to a national competition, she looked forward to hearing an MJ track on the bus—as a sign of good luck. I miss her. But these memories live on …

Elizabeth Ann Sciabarra, RIP

September 2, 1952 – November 26, 2022

My sister Elizabeth Ann Sciabarra—Ski to the thousands of students whose lives she touched as an educator for half a century—died at 8 p.m. tonight after a two-year long bout with many serious health issues. Her passing came quite shockingly after a steep decline over the past week.

Ski was the recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the opening of Brooklyn Technical High School [YouTube link]. She was fortunate enough to view the YouTube video of this presentation this past week and was very deeply moved; I think that it provided a poignant coda to her lifelong, passionate commitment to the education and well-being of young people.

Back in 2010, before she’d go on to become Executive Director of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation, she retired from the NYC Department of Education—after a professional life that took her from teacher and coach to assistant principal at Tech, principal at New Dorp High School on Staten Island, deputy superintendent and founding CEO of the Office of Student Enrollment at the DOE. At that time, I had the occasion to speak at her retirement dinner. I highlighted one of my sister’s favorite quotations, which she often used at various commencement exercises. It could just as easily and appropriately speak to her own impact and legacy. Noted historian Rina Swentzell (1939–2015) of Santa Clara Pueblo said:

“What we are told as children is that people, when they walk on the land, leave their breath wherever they go. So, wherever we walk, that particular spot on the earth never forgets us, and when we go back to these places, we know that the people who have lived there are in some way still there, and that we can actually partake of their breath and of their spirit.”

In every place she has been, with everyone she has worked, all those students she has taught, advised, assisted, coached, all the teachers, assistant principals, principals, parents, community partners and others with whom she has interacted, not to mention her dear friends and beloved family—all these have been blessed to partake of her very strong spirit.

Wherever she has walked, people will be hard pressed to forget her and her impact on their lives.

I once told her that she may not have had kids of her own, but she mothered literally thousands of kids, whose lives were forever changed by their encounters with her. Indeed, as a caring educator, in the eyes of those kids, my sister flew around the city of her birth, the city she was so proud to call home, with a huge “S” on her chest, which could have stood for “Sciabarra” or “Ski”—or even “Superwoman.”

For me, however, that “S” always stood for “Sister,” which means more than that one word can ever convey.

Indeed, as siblings, we lived together for as long as I’ve been alive. She was more than my sister. She was my friend, my confidante, my partner-in-crime, my advisor, my guide, not only for all things academic but for life itself. As someone who struggled with chronic, congenital medical issues, I could never have made it without her loving support and encouragement. She was my strongest advocate and fiercest defender.

Even over the last month, as she struggled with increasingly difficult medical complications, she was elated as I completed the copyediting and formatting of the last essays for the 2023 grand finale of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. She gave me a fist bump when I told her, “It’s done!” As a lover of music and dance—and boy did she have rhythm [YouTube link]—she was also privy to all the “Songs of the Day” that I had already lined up for the upcoming holiday season, my projected January 2023 fifteenth-anniversary tribute to the “Breaking Bad” franchise, and my annual Film Music February Festival. And so, those songs will be posted, no matter what, with added poignancy.

There wasn’t a holiday she didn’t embrace or celebrate in grand style. She was even able to glimpse the Christmas decorations I put up the day after Thanksgiving. I know that it brought her peace and joy even as she fought bravely against the agony and pain that were consuming her body.

Tonight, my heart is shattered. I am comforted only because she is finally out of pain and that she died with dignity in her own home—by the grace of the generosity of the multitude of people who contributed to her #GoFundSki campaign. For all that love and support, our family expresses a profound depth of appreciation.

My brother Carl, my sister-in-law Joanne and I ask for privacy at this time. We will announce a more public memorial at an appropriate time and place, which will be held sometime in 2023.

I will always love you, my Bitty.

A Happier Time, late 1980s

See Facebook condolences.

Postscript (29 November): There is a poignant tribute to my sister by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (NY) on Facebook.

In addition, I was interviewed by Annalise Knudson of the Staten Island Advance this morning, before attending my sister’s funeral, and I was very touched by this wonderful article detailing my sister’s legacy as an educator. See here. And also see this tribute from Tim Bethea.

Song of the Day #1969

Song of the Day: Flashdance … What a Feeling features the music of Giorgio Moroder and lyrics of Keith Forsey and Irene Cara, who took this song to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance Club charts. This was the title track to the 1983 film, “Flashdance“. Cara died yesterday at the age of 63. Her sweet voice graced this film and the 1980 film, “Fame“. Check out the music video to this 80s pop gem [YouTube link].

Happy Thanksgiving from Ski, Me, & Turkey!

We’re a little early … but before folks head out for the holiday weekend, we just wanted to say how much we’re counting our blessings—for every person who has expressed their love and support during such a challenging time. A very Happy Thanksgiving to All!

_________
* Gravesend is the section of Brooklyn we’ve lived in our whole lives! It was one of the original towns in the Dutch colony of New Netherland, the name meaning “groves end”—from the Dutch settlement of Count’s Beach in the Netherlands.

Ski: A Lifetime Achievement Award

At the Centennial Gala on November 19, 2022, celebrating a century of excellence at Brooklyn Technical High School (1922-2022), my sister, Elizabeth “Ms. Ski” Sciabarra received the Lifetime Achievement Award. My deepest thanks to the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and its President Denice Ware for sending me this wonderful clip celebrating the life and legacy of a beloved educator whose work has touched the lives of countless thousands of students and colleagues over a fifty-year career. Check it out on YouTube (and below)!

#GoFundSki

Thank you to everyone! And a special thanks also to Carol Cunningham dropping off these lovely flowers and memorabilia from the Centennial Gala!