DJ Jerry B’s Blog Mostly daytime ramblings

April 12, 2014

Boston – Stronger Than Ever

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — DJJerryB @ 7:14 pm

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It was right around this time last year that pure evil and cowardice showed itself near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two completely insignificant “freedom fighters” took on the enemy: a young restaurant manager (Krystle), a grad student (Lingzi Lu) and an 8 year old boy (Martin)  lost their lives. An unknown number of others were permanently affected. Terrorists are the penultimate bullies: only looking for opportunities to wreak havoc on those that can only be described, by those of us who live in reality, as innocent.

I’ve never completely understood what their motive was, beyond being wannabe martyrs, other than to create carnage and fear. So what happened when these two big, brave terrorists dropped their explosives filled knapsacks and ran away? Three innocent people died, more than a dozen bystanders lost limbs, and hundreds of others suffered varying degrees of injury. Carnage? To be sure. Fear? Not even close. Within seconds of the first explosion, and even before the second device detonated, people were running toward the devastation in an effort to help. And it wasn’t just the police, National Guard and EMTs doing their heroic best — it was also Boston Marathon workers, volunteers and civilian spectators.  It’s widely accepted that the death toll would have been far worse were it not for people — humankind — doing what they do when they are needed the most.

I wasn’t there in 2013 — I haven’t watched the marathon in person for well over 10 years. But I made a promise to myself that day: I’ll be there on April 21st, in Boston, as close to the finish line as I can manage. I’ll be wearing my Red Sox cap along with whatever other Boston paraphernalia I decide to drag out of the closet. I have no doubt that I’ll be keeping thoughts for Krystle, Lingzi Lu, Martin and Sean (Sean was the M.I.T. police officer, ambushed and killed by the cowards a few days after the bombings) as well as their families and friends, and for those that were so egregiously injured and continue to recover. I’ll also be doing a silent tip of the cap to those who did everything they could to help on that horrible day.

Boston wasn’t weakened on April 15, 2013. There’s a word for it and you can find various definitions if you look it up:

“not mild or weak”

“having great physical power and ability; having a lot of strength”

“not easy to break or damage”

The word is STRONG.

Boston Strong.

 

 

 

March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013

Filed under: Personal — DJJerryB @ 5:00 am

He died in 1998 shortly before turning 80. He was a good man and the older I get, the more I wish I had known him a little better. He was already nearly 40 years old by the time I came along.

His father had run out on the family when he was young, so he had to grow up sooner than he should have. I have no doubt it was a pretty tough existence — this was during the Great Depression in coal country in western Pennsylvania. But I think it taught him some valuable lessons about self-sufficiency and tenacity. There was nothing he couldn’t do. He could build and fix just about anything he put his mind to (MacGyver had NOTHING on him.) He was strong physically, mentally and emotionally. I was a little soft as a kid and I was constantly getting hurt. I remember one such a occurrence and crying because of it and him telling me not to cry because of pain. “Tears are for sorrow, not pain” he had said. Indeed, the only time I ever saw him openly weeping was at his mother’s funeral. I never forgot that and I don’t think I ever cried again because I had hurt myself. I’m not ‘tough’ by any definition, but he taught me that I could still be strong.

He was part of the group sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Generation.” He spent 23 years in the military, serving his country during World War II in Europe where he was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded by a German sniper while on patrol. The nasty scars on his arm were simply part of who he was, but he never talked about the war. He was part of the 29th Infantry Division, landing at Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion and I suspect it was something that he always carried with him. He also later served in Korea.

Under the G.I. Bill, he was able to continue his education and he became a male nurse while still in the U.S. Army. Providing patient care was, I believe, his truest calling. He held positions at Walter Reed (where I was actually born) and, later, at New England Baptist Hospital. During his career, he provided care to at least six U.S. Presidents (past, present or future) along with a slew of senators, congressmen, athletes and celebrities. I still have the personally autographed photos from Ronald Reagan and the actor Claude Rains (and in the interest of full disclosure, being a huge fan of the movie “Casablanca”, the photo of Claude Rains is the one I keep on display.) He was one of the two attending nurses providing extensive rehabilitation care for Ted Kennedy in the aftermath of the 1964 plane crash. It was the job offer he received after that assignment that prompted him to retire from the military and we relocated to Massachusetts in 1965.

Along with my mom, dad raised four kids. His oldest son (my brother Ralph) followed in his dad’s footsteps and joined the Army at age 17. Ralph also made a career in the military, retiring after 20 years. Ralph’s son, Ryan, is currently serving as an officer in the U.S. Army (a 2002 West Point graduate and recipient of the Bronze Star with “V” device for heroism while in combat in Iraq — dad would have been bragging about his grandson to this day, I’m sure.)

He and my mom divorced when I was 13 or 14 and he moved close to his job in Brookline. I have to admit that the separation kept us from developing the relationship as I grew toward adulthood. I knew he would provide for me if I needed anything — he wasn’t abandoning us, but he and mom were better apart. A couple of years later, he moved to Wareham and we hardly ever saw each other. He ultimately remarried and moved to Ohio with his second wife and I only saw him a couple more times after that. He definitely seemed to be happy in his later years, and I think on some level we connected better, even if it was on very few occasions.

When he died, all three of his sons made the trek to Ohio. One from Massachusetts, one from Rhode Island and one from Colorado. Two of his grandsons were there too, one from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, where he was attending West Point Prep, and the other flew all the way from Germany to be there. We all had private time together at the funeral home before calling hours began. We ended up in the small kitchen area and, let me tell you, there was nothing sad or somber that day. I think we all knew intuitively that this was more about a celebration and saying goodbye rather than mourning a passing. It was a rare occasion for everyone to be in the same place at the same time and we all had such a collective energy when we got together that it was pretty joyous. If dad had been alive to see it, he would have been pleased and would have been laughing right along with us.

His casket was carried by his three sons, two grandsons and the son of his best friend (who had passed away a few months earlier.) Without even thinking about it or discussing it, we had taken hold of the handles in line in the order of birth: on one side, oldest son in front, middle son, then me at the back. On the other side were his two grandsons, followed by family friend. After we loaded him into the funeral coach, we walked the short distance to the cemetery, rather than taking vehicles. In hindsight, I’m glad we did that. I don’t remember any talking at all, but I think we all connected during that walk. For me, the only truly emotional thing occurred at his gravesite. With his veteran status, he received a full military funeral. Three volleys each were were fired by seven members of an honor guard and the American flag was taken up off of his casket and was being folded by two veterans (they were older gentlemen who were obviously volunteer members from the local VFW — and were more-or-less contemporaries of my dad.) As the bugler began playing Taps, I glanced around. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and their wives, and my youngest nephew (the future Bronze Star recipient) snapped perhaps the most perfect salute I have ever seen. It was all so perfect and, I believe, exactly the way he would have wanted it.

My dad would have turned 95 today.

October 3, 2011

Who has the best customers?

Filed under: Fun,Personal,Weddings — Tags: , , , , — DJJerryB @ 1:09 pm

I do. Without question…

I like to talk about the concept of finding the right “fit” when interviewing wedding vendors. It really goes both ways because, from my perspective, not every person who makes initial contact with me is my ideal customer. If the last few years are any indication, identifying that fit has become very effective and I couldn’t be happier with, or more proud of, the relationships that have been built. It’s a labor of love to help create a wedding celebration that is both tasteful and FUN. And my customers give back to me.

For the last couple of years, I have increased my visibility on WeddingWire, which is a wedding planning website. Not only does it offer planning tools, it also provides an opportunity for customers to post reviews of their experience with their wedding vendors. I am continually humbled by the rave reviews that my customers post in their own words. And not just the fact that they were happy with the job that I did for them, but that they take so much time to express the level of their satisfaction. Want to see what I mean about how great they are? Take a look for yourself here.

Beyond that I get e-mails and handwritten ‘thank you’ cards, sometimes MONTHS later. And not too long ago I had one former bride  that sent along a note immediately upon returning home from her first anniversary dinner with her husband. She had been reflecting on how much fun she had on her wedding day and just wanted to say thank you again. I firmly believe that not everyone is lucky enough to meet these types of people.

Then, just this past week, a package comes in the mail. Upon opening it, I discover a small card that reads, “Thank you Jerry, Everyone enjoyed the music! – Liz and Chris 9/4”. Also, there is this:

 

You are looking at a box of Cakettes, which, I learned upon research on their website, are a hybrid of chocolate truffles and cupcakes. Allegedly they can keep for two weeks without refrigeration. For me, about one pot of coffee should just about do it…

 

July 11, 2011

De and Brad – Smith Barn

Filed under: Personal,Weddings — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 11:51 am

I’m gonna need a little indulgence here — this one is personal…

I’ve written before about the fact that I sometimes end up feeling close to the couples that I work with — call it a great “drawback” to my job. In this case, I was ALREADY close to the bride. De and I met, probably, 20 years ago during my financial services days. We rarely worked at the same location – she was in Boston and I was out in the ‘burbs. But between in-house messaging (e-mail’s predecessor) and company softball games, we became “buds” — I can’t even begin to count the number of times that one or the other of us needed another person to simply  help deal with something. Sometimes work-related, sometimes personal. It didn’t really matter. From my perspective, De was the kind of rock-solid friend that I could always depend on to provide an honest (sometimes brutally honest) view on things. I ended up leaving the company 10 years ago or so and De and I pretty much dropped out of touch.

Then, quite reluctantly, I joined Facebook.

Howard Stern may be the King of All Media, but De is surely the Queen of SOCIAL media. And, just about a year ago, De and I re-connected. Shortly thereafter, she asked if I had any plans for a day in July — she needed a DJ. In her own words, De had been on her last first date.

The actual ceremony took place in April and the reception was planned for the summer. The couple had landed on Smith Barn at Brooksby Farm in Peabody as their location. A very easy to get to, fun venue. The main hall is great, with elevated balconies on either side of the dining/dancing areas. I really enjoyed working with the whole crew there, most notably, Tammy and Michelle, both of whom were on top of everything. And an absolutely outstanding buffet was prepared by Mitch Mitchell’s Affairs Catering.

The reception itself was typical in many ways – a room full of people who were so fully immersed in sharing the celebration. One spotlight moment that I particularly enjoyed was their variation on the “Anniversary Dance.” You’ve undoubtedly seen in the past when married couples are called to the dance floor then slowly eliminated until the couple that has been married the longest is the last one standing. Instead, the bride and groom did their homework and had me call up many couples, each of whom had been married for an impressive number of years. It was fun hearing the building momentum from the crowd as the years climbed, ranging from 45 to 52 years. Collectively, these ten couples had racked up 477 wedding anniversaries. We dedicated “Through the Years” to them and invited others to join them. It was very sweet.

It may seem like I’ve sort of neglected the groom throughout this little tale. Brad is, without a doubt, the quintessential great guy. Brad, if you  happen to read this, I’ll let you in on what I leaned in and whispered to De: “You and Brad? Total no-brainer!” Anyone who knows me at all will recognize that as a ringing endorsement. I can’t think of anyone I would rather see together than the two of you. Continue to take care of each other and I’ll undoubtedly be seeing you both on Facebook.

February 13, 2011

Puppy LOVE!

Filed under: Fun,Personal — Tags: , , — DJJerryB @ 3:51 pm

This is Rosie. Rosie is technically not a puppy, but she has the heart of one. Rosie’s mom told me that she loves getting dressed up, which is why she’s decked out in the Valentine’s Day pink t-shirt and heart headband. As you can readily see, Rosie is a sweetheart!

I met Rosie, and approximately 150 of her friends (and around 400 of their human friends) at the 1st Annual Puppy Love Event, hosted by Fenway Bark. The purpose was to give 10 local animal shelters an opportunity to find new “forever homes” for displaced pets. These are truly wonderful people and the dedication and love they offer to help equally amazing animals is a tribute to humankind. You can probably tell that I have more than a small soft spot on this one.

I was utterly impressed with the location. Fenway Bark is a unique facility, offering not only upscale overnight accommodations — this is not your average boarding kennel — but also grooming, training, pet photography, rehabilitation for injured pets, food, supplies…you name it. They are located right on Boston Harbor not far from Logan Airport and South Station, so for travelers, it’s an ideal spot to drop off your pet before a flight or cruise. The owner and staff care for the animals as they would their own.

I’m hoping to be back next year. Rosie said she would be there.

February 5, 2011

Blogging

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — DJJerryB @ 2:35 pm

Although I love to write, I’ll admit that I don’t know if there is enough material to sustain this blog. It is, after all, supposed to be a business blog. I enjoy writing about the couples who have hired me for their weddings, the friends that I have made along the way and the fun (and sometimes terror) that they feel in their planning. But over and above that, what does a DJ write about? Tips, suggestions and whatnot can only go so far. So I decided to do what I do best when I want to learn about something new to me.

I Googled it.

I started searching for DJ blogs that are already out there to see what other DJs have to say. There’s no way that I would ever steal anyone else’s material or style, but I wanted to come up with some inspiration.

I was horrified.

Some have written page after page of text, copied and pasted from other websites. I found at least one that forgot to substitute his business name from the one he stole it from. I guess he didn’t get the memo about the concept of “intellectual property” and I suspect I know where most of his music has been acquired (although I wonder how much scrambling he had to do once Limewire was shut down…)

Some use their blog as a place to directly bash their competition. I guess I really don’t get that at all.  In all of the time I have done this, I have never bad-mouthed another disc jockey to a customer. And trust me, I have seen some pretty sleazy things done by DJs. Like the one who advertises the fact that he was voted “Best DJ” by a particular vendor voting website in Massachusetts — I have been in the business a long time and was quite surprised that such a site existed and I had never even heard of it. I understood a lot better when, after just a little investigation, I discovered that he (the “Best DJ”) was the registrar of that “voting” website. I don’t think those election results were ever going to be in doubt.

I saw one that was heavy on the photographs taken at parties he had worked.  I think that photographs are really useful if they help tell the story. Not so much on this one, since almost every shot was either out of focus, too dark to see the detail, cut the tops off the heads of those in the photos, or were framed so badly that you weren’t exactly sure if the photographer was standing or laying on his back.

I do have to admit that one blog did have beautiful, crystal clear images accompanying the articles. And in every one, the DJ was looking fine… in his white Elvis jumpsuit, wig and sunglasses.

Eww…

November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks – November 20th

Filed under: Fun,Personal — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:42 pm

I had a great time at the Natick Collection on Saturday morning at the “Give thanks. Walk.” Natick was among more than 60 communities participating in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Acting as hosts were John Willis and Lori Grande, better known as JW and Lori, the morning hosts from WKLB Country 102.5. Dozens of volunteers kept things running smoothly. Especially entertaining was the crew from Ta.Da! shown above. The kids (and the DJ) had a lot of fun watching them have such a good time.

And the walkers? They did a great job. The 200+ participants raised over $30,000.00.

September 16, 2010

Some Days Are Very Good Days

It’s a very gratifying day when two different wedding professionals think enough of your work to want to quote it and include it in their own wedding blogs. This is a “thank you” to both of them.

Kat Mooney operates Kingdom Wedding Photography out of Albany, Vermont. Her entertaining and informative blog features a combination of real weddings, vendor spotlights and tips and advice. I was pleased to be her first ever “guest blogger.”

Lester Molina is professional photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. A rising wedding and engagement photographer, his portrait work is beautiful. You should check out his website and blog.

Two great pros who are dedicated to providing the best for their customers. Thanks guys. You helped me learn some new things today.

June 2, 2010

The Kids – May 23rd

Filed under: Fun,Personal — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:37 pm

I was again fortunate enough to be part of the PMC-Kids Ride in Natick, Massachusetts. This is the fourth installment for this annual event and, as usual, the planning committee did an outstanding job. It was held this year at Belkin Lookout Farm, giving the older riders the chance to cruise through the orchard pathways. Regular visitors to the farm would recognize it as the route that the train takes to give customers a tour of the fruit trees.

Anyone battling cancer has a hill to climb, but it seems especially unfair when it is a child having to fight that fight. PMC Kids encourages the concept of “Kids Helping Kids” through their participation in this amazing fundraising effort. In 2009, every penny raised by the Pan-Mass Challenge — 100% of the money donated — went directly to the Jimmy Fund. This year, right around 250 young people, ranging in age from 3 to 12, participated in the Natick ride. Dozens of others volunteered, performing such duties as registering riders, manning the refreshment tables, face painting, beading, balloon animals, and so on.

Landry’s Bicycles, as usual, was there. Not only did they have a tent set up to provide maintenance to the bikes participating in the ride, but they also donated a very cool looking mountain bike to the raffle. The number of vendors who donated prizes or volunteered their time (or both) continues to impress me. It ranged from the small mom & pop operations and local restaurants, all the way up to contributions from The Boston Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. There was even an appearance by Batman.

It’s good to be part of a community effort like that.

May 21, 2010

Hotties

Filed under: Fun,Personal — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 10:31 am

The “hotties” of Team Hotwheels. Four great ladies who are riding the 2010 Pan-Mass Challenge to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with two core members, Caroline and Missy, over the last few years. The selflessness that they exhibit is humbling, participating not only in the PMC itself, but also as key organizers for the PMC-Kids Ride in Natick, Massachusetts. I’m proud to call them my friends.

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