Select Page

Feats of wonder…

by | Oct 16, 2020 | Feet (Followership), Little Feat, wonder

My daughter gave me a baseball cap with NASA on it, which I had on as we were checking out at CostCo.  The young man checking us out – had on a Nasa shirt – one with the old Blue logo and the swoosh, so we naturally struck up a conversation, not that I actually need an excuse 😉  I started talking about my work on the program, and he was amazed to talk with someone that had actually worked on it.  My son had suggested recently I watch the new Netflix special series on the Challenger… which I thought was just a little raw. But with his and others’ encouragement, I have at least started it.  The first one is all about the backstories on the astronauts… which makes it even more real… 

… and funny. They told the story about Ellison Onizuka who was the first Japanese American in space.  He was “just” a staff engineer at Edwards Air Force base, a “normal American kid” as an active member of FFA, an Eagle Scout, when they started recruiting for the next class of Astronauts… and he was selected in the 1978 class.  He was at a party at Dick Covey’s house.  They had smuggled oysters back in their T-38 Jet from Florida, and he was shucking them, when a guest asked him “Did Mrs. Covey hire you?”  Without missing a beat, he said “I am her Houseboy”. The person later asked where they found such a nice young man to work the party, Covey said “.. the astronaut office…” 

Can you imagine being called one of the finest American piano rock and blues musicians… by most other rock pianists, including Sir Elton?  That is Bill Payne, another of the key founding members of Little Feat. He cold-called Frank’s label as a college student at UC Santa Barbara, and eventually found out that as a Keyboard player, it was unlikely he was needed in one of Zappa’s band, but this guy Lowell was forming a band.  He loved jazz, but Lowell really didn’t want to blend that in, but eventually said that he and Paul could “do what they wanted to do”.  Today’s cut is one of their masterpieces – a combination of jazz, funk, rock, and … well just listen.  For wonder I thought it was perfect… and with no words, you have to imagine your own thoughts on what it really is about … other than pure genius. 

And the story of Ron McNair, the African American who had his PhD from MIT in Physics.  Growing up in the south, he was in a segregated school system, and he knew he was not learning what he would need.  He went to the library to borrow better books – which he couldn’t…. and the police were called… along with his mother.  I can only imagine who had a harder conversation with him, but he prevailed.. and that library is now named for him. And I didn’t know this – he was an accomplished jazz saxophone player (tech people are typically musicians…) and had developed a piece that he was going to play the solo of … on orbit when he arrived on this mission… to be the only piece of music recorded in space… 

All of their Feet traveled paths that few others would understand…. and prevailed to accomplish Feats that most of us can only wonder about.  For me, making them more real, more human, has actually made dealing with the tragedy…. easier.  They would hate to be called victims… in fact, at least these 2 would love to be just noticed for being “American”.  This week, wonder about your own path… and not the easy places, but the harder places – the things you had to work through, over, around.  We are told over and over that some of us have it easy… I don’t think that works.  It is the wonder of Americans that we get up and try again… every day… to make it better for all of us. Listen to this masterpiece as encouragement … as Bill would twist the words again to get ready for our own… Dog Day At the Races. 

 

Share This