“That’s right, Benjamin. Around the Block is going on hiatus.”
As many of you know, I hold a special place in my heart for Paul Simon. My first introduction to Queens College was Paul, a graduating senior, performing at freshman orientation the spring before our official matriculation. At Queens I joined the AEπ fraternity where Paul’s brother, Eddie, and Art’s brother, Jerry, were my fraternity brothers. (Truth be told, Eddie was actually a better guitarist than Paul). In my tortured attempts to play the guitar, my go-to songs were many of Paul’s, including, one of his best, the heartfelt “Kathy’s Song.” In fact years later, in 2016, I wrote an Around the Block called “Sanders’ campaign use of Simon & Garfunkel song widely praised” in which I took Art to task for taking credit for Paul’s song, “America.” In it, I included a reference to the “Kathy” of “Kathy’s Song.”
An excerpt from that post:
Mr. Garfunkel said the idea to use the song came from the campaign, “I just acquiesced and let Bernie use my song that I’m so proud of.”
According to sources, Mr. Simon did not agree with Mr. Garfunkel, not regarding his “liberal inclination” but about Mr. Garfunkel’s characterization that the song, America, was his. The song, written by Simon in 1968, concerns young lovers hitchhiking their way across the United States, in search of “America.” It was inspired by Simon’s 1964 road trip with his girlfriend Kathy Chitty, who also was the subject of Simon’s earlier song, Kathy’s Song.
Regarding the controversy, the feelings of fans everywhere can be summed up in the words of David “Davy Boy” Dubenstein, 69, of Bayside Queens who said, “Who’s that old, bald guy with glasses on TV talking about Simon and Garfunkel?”
So, with all due respect to Paul Simon, I figured I could use one of his great hits to announce that Around the Block is going on hiatus.
(And when I say hit, I mean hit: “Mrs. Robinson” became the duo’s second chart-topper, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as peaking within the top 10 of the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Spain, among other countries. In 1969, it became the first rock song to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.)
That’s right. Our nation will no longer be able to “turn its lonely eyes” to Around the Block. At least for a while.
As the nation begins its recovery from the Trump years, as Covid-19 vaccines begin to enter our arms, as President Biden, Vice President Harris and their able appointees start the healing, battling Republicans day and night to get the right things done, I figured that there will be enough voices out there, professional voices, writing and speaking about their progress (and lack of progress). And that perhaps it’s time to take a break and concentrate on my other writing projects.
If I was a real columnist, this would be called a “book leave.” But since I’m not a real columnist I’ll just call it a hiatus; a hiatus to clear my head and actually make some progress on the several stories that are at various stages of development. And then figure out what I’m going to do with them.
This hiatus from writing about current events won’t mean I’ll stop reading about them. I’ll still get my 6+ dailies, 7-8 magazines and dozens of news websites. So keeping informed won’t be a problem. And who knows, it might be that I’ll see or read something that I believe I can lend my unique perspective to. So stay tuned. In the immortal words of “Hamilton’s” King George III:
“I’ll be back!”