Tag Archives: KISS

EQT 10-mile training – Week 5 9/22/15

Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.
Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last.

Some rise,
Some fall,
Some climb,
To get to Terrapin.

Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright;
The spiral light of Venus, rising first and shining best,
On, from the northwest corner, of a brand new crescent moon,
While crickets and cicadas sing, a rare and different tune,
Terrapin station.
In the shadow of the moon,
Terrapin station.
And I know we’ll get there soon,

(Terrapin! )
I can’t figure out,
(Terrapin! )
If it’s the end or beginning,
(Terrapin! )
But the train’s put it’s brakes on,
(Terrapin! )
And the whistle is screaming,
Terrapin!

Let my inspiration flow!

Let my inspiration flow!

Those words – written by Robert Hunter, sung sweetly and soulful by Jerry Garcia and performed by the Grateful Dead – are goose bump-inducing. “Terrapin Station” – an epic, multi-part anthem performed 302 times by the Dead beginning in early 1977 – produces a state of euphoria. Its lyrics inspire freedom, and, for me, it’s the perfect running song. When a run begins to flatline and “Terrapin” enters my headphones, my legs and lungs find something extra. It’s like Jerry’s voice is guiding me through the run. My lips mouth the words. Sometimes, my arms even raise in triumph. (Yep, if you’ve seen a short, headband-wearing dud running the streets of Greensburg while jamming out, it’s me.)

Sound stupid? Maybe to some, but, to me, the right music is as essential to running as stretching, the right shoes, hydration and determination.

Music is moving, and the right songs can shave seconds off the pace and help set personal bests.

Generally, I prefer running to the Dead. From “Bertha” to “Promised Land” to “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider” to “Morning Dew” to “Touch of Grey,” the Dead’s expansive and easily accessible catalog provides ample choices for this runner, but it’s certainly not the only band worth a listen when pounding pavement or staring at the television screen on a treadmill. Glam/hard rock like KISS, Guns n’ Roses, Motley Crue and Tesla get the job done. So does rap, particularly the early 1990s gangsta sounds of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Nate Dogg (R.I.P.) and company. Eminem usually works, too. I’m not likely to see Foo Fighters live, but no song makes me dig deeper than “Walk.” I’ve nearly pushed myself to tears while listening to that amazing call to action. Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride,” Katy Perry’s “Roar” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” work perfectly.

It doesn’t matter what music moves you, but it is important to play the right music for you when breaking down barriers and going for goals.

Music played an integral role in a solid week of training for the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler.

9/14/15 – Last week, I said on this blog that I didn’t mind missing Sunday’s long run because of illness. That’s only part true. Missing a run made me determined to make up for things, even if my sinuses weren’t cooperating.

After dropping Anna off at school and walking Ringo, I went to the basement for a programmed, 30-minute ride on a stationary bike. A couple moderate hills helped provide resistance and I covered 11.1 miles in 30 minutes. From there, me, myself and my tissues hit the streets for a 4.52-mile run in 34:39. My first mile was a 7:50 pace. The second mile was 7:12. Seven friggin’ 12! The third mile was 7:33.

Not going to fib, I surprised myself.

9/15/15 – Kicked the distance up to 5.38 and got it done in 43:58 – not as fast as Monday’s run but a solid pace.

9/16/15 – Erin had a rare Wednesday off, so we did spin class together. Great ride. Felt it for hours after completion.

9/17/15 – A couple of variables forced changes in schedule for the fifth week of training. 1. Erin was off Wednesday and Friday, and since I missed the long run in Week 4, doing two spin classes sounded like a good idea; and, 2. Erin was working in Pittsburgh Sunday. Anna needed to get to Sunday School and church, so that meant Sunday was not a good day for my long run.

So, with legs still tired from spin class, I stumbled onto the streets of Greensburg, where I completed a 7.03-mile run in 1:01.04. Given Greensburg’s terrain, hills were unavoidable, and I encountered four of them on this run. It was tiring, my pace wasn’t outstanding, but I conquered the distance.

9/18/15 – Second spin class of the week and, for the first time in 2-plus years of spinning, I didn’t enjoy the class. The music mix had too much pop. Only one song – Eminem’s “‘Till I Collapse” – moved me. About 50 minutes into class, I was wishing I lifted weights instead, but I finished anyway.

9/19/15 – I digested plenty of vegetables Friday, which made Saturday morning slightly uncomfortable, but I had to get out before Anna’s 11 a.m. soccer game. I covered 5.23 miles in 43:09 – another decent, but not great run.

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Paul Stanley’s Inspirational Quote of the Week

It’s Thursday. It’s hot. It’s understandable if a boost is needed to get through the rest of the week.

Thankfully, the eternally optimistic lyrics of KISS frontman Paul Stanley can pull us through. Stanley’s ability to inspire didn’t end when KISS took off the makeup in the early 1980s. If anything, Stanley dug deeper into his reservoir of rock and roll righteousness, penning classics like “Lick It Up,” a beloved tour de force of live shows these days.

KISS also dusted off another 80s classic, “Crazy Nights” on a recent tour. That’s where we look to for Paul Stanley’s Inspirational Quote of the Week.

They try to tell us we don’t belong;
That’s alright, we’re millions strong;
This is my music, it makes me proud;
These are my people and this is my crowd.

That’s right, Starchild. It is your crowd. We are you’re people – the unabashed members of the KISS Army. “And nobody’s gonna change me, cause that’s who I am.”

Book review: “Face the Music: A Life Exposed” by Paul Stanley

Each night is the only night that counts to the people at that show. They weren’t at the show the night before, and they won’t be at the one tomorrow. I won’t let them down.

Paul Stanley's "Face The Music: A Life Exposed" covers everything from the origins of KISS tro many of the band's misfires in the 1980s to the powerful lineup in place today.

Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music: A Life Exposed” covers everything from the origins of KISS tro many of the band’s misfires in the 1980s to the powerful lineup in place today.

That passage is from the 65th chapter of Paul Stanley’s autobiography, “Face the Music: A Life Exposed,” which was released April 8, 2014, and it’s as fitting a description for the frontman and driving force of hall of fame act KISS as any before or since.

Stanley, who formed the band in the early 1970s with original members Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, never takes a night off on stage. Part inspiration, part perspiration and total determination, Stanley – at age 63 – still completes aerial stunts onstage in massive, platform shoes. In his book, Stanley credits the massive KISS Army for his ability to perform such acrobatics at an advanced age.

If you’ve seen KISS in concert, you know what I’m talking about. Stanley reveres his position in the band and in rock history. Confident, sexified and strut-tastic, Stanley sets the bar high for rock frontmen. He’s as good as it gets, and he basks in it.

Stanley, the last original member of KISS to pen an autobiography, takes the same approach to his book, and with a thoughtful retrospection one might expect from someone who’s had significant ups and a few downs during an epic four decades with KISS. Stanley delves into his upbringing – from his detached, unemotional parents to his difficult older sister to the pain he felt growing up deaf in one ear, which was also deformed.

A prevailing theme in the book is Stanley’s struggles with self-confidence stemming from his deformed ear. He sought fame, fortune and women in an attempt to mask the pain. None of it ended up working, though he achieved all his goals in ample proportions.

Stanley eventually found peace, and fathered four children. He cooks, he cares and he’s optimistic. Unlike books by Frehley and Criss, Stanley holds no grudges and it comes across as painfully truthful. Stanley doesn’t hide his disappointment in Frehley’s and Criss’ poor play as the reasons why KISS’ reunion in the 1990s fell apart. He openly makes fun of some of the music he made in the 1980s. He even holds no punches with Simmons, whom Stanley said takes far too much credit in the band’s success.

But Stanley never comes across as bitter. It’s just not in his nature.

That’s is why I dubbed Stanley, “The Walt Disney of rock and roll” following a particularly excellent KISS show at Star Lake Amphitheater in Burgettstown. (Sorry sponsors, it will always be Star Lake.)

Stanley’s tale is beyond extraordinary, yet it comes across as relatable. It’s well-written, thoughtful and, just like Stanley on stage, it doesn’t let the reader down.

Paul Stanley’s inspirational quote of the week

Part inspiration, part perspiration and part showman, Paul Stanley is one of rock’s ultimate frontmen, a persona so grand, I’ve dubbed him “The Walt Disney of Rock and Roll.”

Stanley’s lyrics are filled with imagery – visceral and inspirational. It’s the latter that’s inspired a new feature for this blog:

Paul Stanley’s inspirational quote of the week.

Every week, we’ll draw inspiration from Stanley’s often over-the-top lyrics. Apply them in life, and happiness is guaranteed.

“I know life sometimes can get tough!
And I know life sometimes can be a drag!
But people, we have been given a gift,
we have been given a road
And that road’s name is… Rock and Roll!”

There, feeling better?

Concert review: Ace Frehley invades Greensburg

Ace Frehley’s reputation as a rock and roll wildman is well-deserved. The former lead guitarist of KISS is as heralded for his exploits away from the stage as the RnR Hall of Fame-caliber licks he delivers on it.

But that reputation is in need of a makeover.

There's still something magical about an Ace Frehley guitar solo.

There’s still something magical about an Ace Frehley guitar solo.

It’s been years since Frehley lost his sobriety, and, as he and his backing band hit Greensburg’s Palce Theater Saturday night for the third gig on his Space Invader tour, which backs an album of the same name, it’s apparent Frehley takes his business seriously. Granted, he didn’t hit the stage until about 10 p.m., but it didn’t take long for the original Spaceman to captivate the crowd his high-decibel rock.

Frehley’s set list at the Palace Theater (11/15/14): Lost in Limbo, Gimme a Feelin’, Toys, Parasite, Snowblind, Love Gun, Breakout, Space Invader, King of the Night Time World, Strutter, Bass solo, Strange Ways, Rock Soldiers, New York Groove, Shock Me, Guitar solo, Rocket Ride, 2 Young 2 Die, Shot Full of Rock. Encore: Detroit Rock City, Cold Gin, Deuce.

One thing is certain at a Frehley concert – volume. Chances are your ears will still be ringing the next morning. But the blasts of volume aren’t disguising anything with Ace’s outfit, which includes drummer Scot Coogan, bassist Chris Wyse and guitarist Richie Scarlett. It’s an outstanding group, particularly the talented Coogan, who handled vocals on multiple KISS songs.

Ace Frehley's rock soldiers at the Palace Theater in Greensburg,

Ace Frehley’s rock soldiers at the Palace Theater in Greensburg,

And Frehley doesn’t shy away from his past. The setlist is loaded with KISS classics, some of which Frehley had a hand in writing. Love Gun, with Coogan’s searing Stanleyesque vocals, was a highlight. King of the Night Time World, an underplayed KISS classic, was a pleasant surprise. Strutter rocked hard. And the encore, a triple-shot of KISS classics, including Cold Gin, the first song Frehley wrote for the band, left the crowd satisfied.

Frehley ran through songs from his solo work and Frehley’s Comet. The epic Rock Soldiers stood tall.

And so did Frehley.

His playing his sharp. No doubt years of sobriety are treating him well. His confidence is evident, and his new material stands up well with the songs that keep people turning out to see the 63-year-old, who entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year along with the other original members of KISS. During the induction ceremony, Frehley drew the loudest cheers from the audience. His popularity has rarely waned whether he’s playing in KISS or not.

No doubt, Frehley has another tour or two left in him. Chances are his rock soldiers will demand it.

Ace Frehley: No Regrets

Awk!

Ace Frehley has maintained his sobriety for years. I read parts of his books while drinking sangria.

Ace Frehley has maintained his sobriety for years. I read parts of his books while drinking sangria.

Ace Frehley used that expression frequently in interviews during the heyday of KISS, which occurred in the mid to late 1970s. Awk was part crutch, as Frehley struggled in social settings for years. It was also part asshole, the creation of someone often obliterated on alcohol and cocaine. Frehley said, “Awk,” so often, it was originally the only speaking line given to him for “KISS Meets Phantom of the Park” – a movie so awful even Gene Simmons might deny being involved. Frehley wasn’t pleased, and his dialogue was eventually reworked, even as the original lead guitarist of the recent inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used filming as an excuse to snort coke and be merry around Los Angeles.

This much, and many other intimacies of Frehley’s life in and beyond KISS were revealed in No Regrets, which was released in 2011. Frehley was sober for nearly five years at the time of releasing the book, which he received help from Joe Layden and John Ostrosky.

Frehley admits his memory isn’t sharp. “Let’s face it – my memory isn’t what it used to be. Speaking with old friends and coworkers jarred my memory, allowing me to recapture the true flavor of some of the stories within these pages.” 

But Frehley remembers enough, and, after reading, it’s amazing the man is still alive let alone touring. (Full disclosure: I’ll be hitting Ace’s Nov. 15 show at the Palace Theater in Greensburg and have traveled to other states to see the legend do his thing.)

Frehley takes us from his time in grade school to his work with bands pre-KISS. Frehley once drank too much at a Grateful Dead show, where he worked his way backstage and came within a few feet of legendary Jerry Garcia, whom Frehley described as “down to earth” despite being one of rock’s biggest stars at the time. He woke up at the venue to discover he was alone and locked inside.

Frehley’s true excess began in earnest once KISS became a money-making machine shortly after the release of Alive. Frehley drank. Frehley snorted. Frehley cavorted (though this book makes no mentions of his alleged bisexual escapades that Peter Criss addressed in his autobiography.) Frehley had multiple brushes with death, was pulled over driving drunk by police on several occasions and destroyed relationships along the way.

But as he was ruining his life, KISS kept them in theirs, mostly because Frehley was worshipped by fans. Frehley reveals that, contrary to what Simmons and Paul Stanley say as time passes, he voluntarily left KISS – not once, but twice. The latter came after a highly successful reunion spurred by KISS’ appearance on MTV’s Unplugged and was fueled when, according to Frehley, Simmons snubbed him by cutting scenes of his daughter from the movie Detroit Rock City.

Among other tidbits revealed by Frehley – he was close friends with John Belushi, he dislikes Tommy Thayer, delights that his KISS solo album was better than and outperformed his bandmates’ releases and is rightfully proud of his work with KISS with a few exceptions like Music From the Elder.

Frehley’s book doesn’t hit hard. He doesn’t come across as bitter or whiny, and it appears he really wants to make the reader realize he’s just a likeable, happy-go-lucky guy who wants you to like him like everyone else does..

Finally, toward the end of the book, Frehley does let it fly.

“Since 2001, every move KISS has made has been premeditated and part of a well-orchestrated plan. Nothing, including their attempts to minimize my contributions, has been left to chance.

So, you might wonder now, ‘How does Ace feel about Kiss today?’ (Notice he didn’t use all caps here.)

Fair enough. Here’s my response: 

At this point in my life, I just need to let things go. Holding on to resentments can really make you ill, so I’ll leave the dirty work to my attorneys. I can sum up the KISS situation in just five simple words: ‘What goes around, comes around. No matter what happens, I’ll be just fine.

That being said, in reality, I think they’re just a bunch of dirty rotten whores. Awk!”

While Frehley tries hard to comes across as likable, it’s not something he needs to sell. Just watch the band’s induction into the rock hall and listen to the crowd roar in approval when Tom Morello mentions his guitar hero, “Ace Frehley.” There’s something about Ace that makes people root for him, and that’s what makes you crack a smile when you’ve finished this book.

The ‘liberating’ art of speechmaking

One day before the start of the 2010 high school football season, I made the short drive from the offices of the Observer-Reporter to Wash High Stadium, a throwback to the glory days of the sport in Western Pennsylvania.

Walking onto the same field where the likes of Brian Davis, Dan Mozes, Travis Thomas and Shai McKenzie made headlines, I approached the Prexies, who were huddled around head coach Mike Bosnic, a former player at Pitt who was at the High following a successful coaching stint at Carmichaels.

Practice had concluded, and Bosnic was at the beginning of a speech to his players. A day from that speech, Wash High would host Clairton, a perennial Class A power with a national following thanks to its wildly successful winning ways. Bosnic mentioned certain players, then told the team how that player was going to execute his assignments perfectly to help lead the Prexies to a 1-0 start.

It was inspiring, powerful and impactful. After Bosnic was done and his players headed toward the locker room, I approached to talk. I told him I was ready to run through a wall for him.

Thank goodness he didn’t take me up on it as Clairton manhandled Wash High, 41-0, in a game more lopsided than the final score.

Bosnic’s speech isn’t famous, nor will it ever be, but it’s one of many I’ve been lucky enough to hear during my long career as a sports writer. Whether it’s at the professional, college or high school level, the art of speech making is essential in coaching.

Maybe Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello is a coach because he delivered my favorite speech at the 2014 Rock and Roll Induction Ceremony. Morello inducted KISS, and wasn’t a popular choice heading into the event. After Morello’s awe-inspiring speech, no one complained.

Why mention it now? Well, my daughter, Anna, and I were listening to “Destroyer” as I drove her to school Monday and something made me think of Morello’s speech. After dropping her off, I went home and watched it. Then, I went to the gym and enjoyed a fantastic workout.

If you haven’t seen the speech, please check it out. It’s chill-inducing and liberating.