Michael Anthony Groteke, 21 years ago today

It feels like just yesterday I posted wrote my annual post about Mike last year. I feel a little weird posting about this each year, since I’m all out of stories and anecdotes. It’s been 21 years since his death in a car accident on Dayton Yellow Springs road on February 8th, 1992. This is my one public ritual I do each year remembering him, though I wonder if perhaps I should move it to a less morbid date like his birthday, February 24. Maybe next year, though I doubt it since this is the day that I immediately associate with him.

Mike was such a fan of new technology, Apple Computer, and games, I often wonder what he’d be doing now and how he’d be interacting with all the current technology trends etc.  I also wonder how he would have reacted to Antioch closing and about the strange way the ‘revival’ played out. He certainly had mixed feelings (love/hate) regarding Antioch (as do I, I guess)

So here’s my annual tip of my hat to my lost friend. I still miss you Mike.

3 things that made me think of living in Boston 23 years ago

I’ve been meaning to blog more, though I don’t have any real reason too. Not sure why I feel the sudden urge to blog the following, but hey, I’m going for it. Someday maybe I’ll have deep and interesting posts like Nancy Wood’s I’d Rather Be Defying Gravity Blog, or interesting tech posts like Nicole Ouellette’s Breaking Even Inc. blog, but for now, I’m pretty sure it’s neither, but here’s what I’ve got:

From some strange set of random of news, events and others facebook posts, I’ve been thinking back to my brief time living in Boston in early 1990. I had moved in with my friend Sean Elliot as one of his many housemates (6 I think.. Becky, Jeff, Mark & Katie(?), Sean & Thom) on Calumet Street in Jamaica Plain, NY. My room was barely big enough for my bed, guitar and computer, but it was enough. Here’s what’s triggered these memories this past week;

Photo stolen from Marshall Hawkin’s facebook page

My college roommate and friend, Marshall Hawkins, posted a photo on Facebook from his office window at the Unitarian Universalist Association on 25 Beacon Street. Not sure exactly where his office is, but that view is very similar to the one I had when I worked in the UUA development office from January through April 1990. I hadn’t thought about working there for a long time, wow, 23 years.

I just happened up the job I had there through our apartment mate Becky (who had moved out by then actually) when she said ‘Matt you know computers right? The computer guy in the UUA development office was in a car accident and they need someone to help out ASAP’. So I interviewed and started a job where I figured out their database through random guessing and phone calls with the person who had just started months earlier, Ted Windt, who was stuck in a hospital for months. He eventually returned to work and we ended up becoming friends. I even returned to work at the UUA for a few more weeks in the fall of 1990 after I got off Star.

Photo of Sandy's music, from Cambridge Day
Photo of Sandy’s music, from The Cambridge Day

Sandy’s Music Closing – I received an e-mail on a mailing list with news I’m on about a small music store in Boston closing. Big deal right? Well, this store is one I somehow found while wandering Boston 23 years ago, and it was one of my favorites. It was really a small ‘hole in the wall’ kind of place, packed to the gills with instruments, music books and hard to find folk CDs, cassettes and LPs. I spent way too much time & money there on folk CDs, harmonicas, guitar strings, music books and even an concertina I could never figure out and finally traded in. I’m sad to hear it’s closing though I have to admit I haven’t been back there for a long, long time and didn’t know it was still open. I’m still sad to hear it’s gone, and that it’s owner is having health problems. Best wishes Sandy. Oh, and a lead in to my next entry, I bought all my Christine Lavin CDs there (long before I even owned a CD player).

Christine Lavin and Marshall after the show
Christine Lavin and Marshall after the show

Christine Lavin – I had the honor of seeing Christine Lavin perform at Williams College this week, and I even dragged my 6 year old son, Marshall (yes, same name as my friend mentioned above, and not completely coincedentally) to the show. He actually had a great time, stood up and cheered when she did her baton act and even got 2 of her glow sticks (which as of last night were still glowing) off her batons. Marshall and I even went on stage and sang ‘Sensitive New Age Guys’ (I had to explain to him what this meant on the drive home!).

I even sat in on her visit to a songwriting class the next day. While I haven’t written a song for over 22+ years, I would credit the silly ones I did write with some influence from Christine, so I really couldn’t ‘let the moment slip away’ (a Christine Lavin song reference) and not attend this class just to hear Christine talk about the craft she has mastered so well. I believe I was the only non-student attending this though they had announced it was open to the public.

This, among many other things, baffles me, how can a concert, let alone a free class with Christine, not be standing room only? In my book she’s as big a star as any other musician I know of, though clearly my perception of ‘star’, let alone my idea of what good music is, is most definitely not in alignment with popular culture. Anyways, it was great to hear her and say hello, though I suspect I probably talked too much and she just chalked up another tally on her ‘Strangers talk to me’ list, but she was kind and humored my bothering her well 🙂

And to loosely tie the above back into the title of this post, Christine’s CDs were a big part of my music intake during this time. I was always amazed how she could mix songs that made me think, laugh & cry all together on one CD.

Oh and finally.. after all of the above early 1990 references to Boston, in 1990 I went out to work open-up on Star Island in April 1990 and shortly after that met the wonderful woman I eventually married, Emily Hayden.

So … 1990 was a good and memorable year in many ways.