Tag Archives: memorial

In Memory of Air Florida Flight 90… again

Greetings, readers. Yes, another January 13th has come around, marking the sad anniversary of a very deadly and very avoidable plane crash. I wrote a commemorative blog entry about Air Florida flight 90 seven years ago. More time has passed, but the heartache goes on. Here is a re-post of that entry.

Thirty years ago today a terrible air tragedy took place. Air Florida’s flight 90 took off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport at 4:01 pm. It stayed airborne for less than 30 seconds. It hit cars on a bridge, killing four people, before plunging into the Potomac River. Of the 79 passengers and crew on the plane, 74 died. I thought about this much over the years and it has weighed heavily on my mind. Several very simple things happened and if any one of them had not occurred the crash might not have taken place.

The D.C. area was in the grip of a blizzard that day, over a foot of snow was on the ground and the airport was closed most of the morning into the mid-afternoon. Once the runways were cleared, planes began taking off again. Palm 90, as it was called in the tower, was to be de-iced, pushed back, and lined up waiting for its turn to take off.

I have seen a TV movie, called Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, and documentaries, including Discovery Health channel’s Critical Rescue: “Heroes on the Potomac,” about this event and they all concur that three things contributed to the disaster. First, when the plane could not push back easily, the Captain applied reverse thrust to aid the tug tow tractor, as it is called, in the push back. Secondly, the wings did not appear properly de-iced, so when the plane was sitting in line for take off, extra snow was piling on top of snow and ice that was already there. Lastly, and most importantly, the engine’s anti-ice systems were not engaged.

When I learned of this, it infuriated me. I thought to myself, how can a pilot and co-pilot be sitting in a blizzard and not activate the systems that would keep the plane free of freezing precipitation. Since they were a Florida based airline, however, I suppose I can understand them being used to not using the anti-ice system.

When the jet crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the Potomac River, it didn’t take long for heroes to emerge. Two gentlemen helped rescue the few survivors that were huddled in the freezing water. They were Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian. Tragedies sometimes tend to bring out the best in people. They might wonder if they have the right stuff. When the time came, both men jumped into the frigid river and did their part in the rescue effort.

Two more heroes were Gene Windsor and Don Usher who performed the daring helicopter rescue. But the biggest hero of all was a man named Arland Williams, who was so tangled in the wreckage and knew he could not escape, that he kept passing the rope to other survivors so that they would have their chance to be rescued first. He made the ultimate sacrifice. To me, it is fitting that the 14th Street Bridge was re-named the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge years later.

For family members of people who died in automobiles on the bridge, and passengers and crew in the plane, my heart goes out to you. It was a tragedy that did not have to happen in my opinion but it did. I’m certain that the FAA learned something from the accident and has taken steps to prevent bad weather crashes from happening in the future.

Rebecca and I will see you on Wednesday. Until then, take care, have a great few days, love one another and happy reading.

Chris Rosenblum CDT article about my memorial lip sync show

Greetings, readers. This is the write up by Mr. Chris Rosenblum of the Centre Daily Times newspaper concerning my memorial show for my late friend Erin Beish. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience and most rewarding. I’m certain that she would have been pleased. Erin always wanted to see KISS but it just wasn’t to be.

This was the first time ever in my lip syncing air guitar “career” that I went all the way by including make-up and black fingernail polish. What follows is the reporter’s actual article from the on-line late Saturday night CDT. What is included is the two-minute video promo of me talking. The photos did not transfer to this blog entry, so you will have to follow the links to see the work of Nabil K. Mark.

Update: 10/11/13 – We just discovered today that these links to the CDT pages do not go to the video or article. Update: 8/26/16 – We removed the links to the CDT pages since they did not go to the content anymore.

Chris Rosenblum | Tribute sealed with a little Kiss

Published: June 15, 2013/

By Chris Rosenblum —crosenbl@centredaily.com

Joe Kockelmans rocked out, his invisible guitar slung low on his hips.

Black and white makeup covered his face like the members of his favorite band, Kiss. His fingernails shone black, the same color of his Kiss T-shirt.

No longer was he a mild-mannered 48-year-old writer.

He was Ace Frehley, lead guitarist, slamming out the solo to “I Stole Your Love” in the community room of the Arnold Addison Court apartment building in State College.

He was a grieving friend remembering a lost soulmate.

He was the Mimic.

That’s his alter ego, his stage persona for the air guitar, lip-syncing performances he’s been doing since childhood. He loves rock, but mild cerebral palsy keeps him from playing real guitars and drums.

For his latest show, he wore a black M on his face, Kiss-style, not for himself.

He did it for Erin.

Erin Beish, an Arnold Addison Court neighbor of his, died in May from cancer at only 34. Also a diehard Kiss fan, she always wanted to see a concert but never had the chance.

Kockelmans, in her memory, filled in the best he could.

“I’m going to give her spirit a show that she would be proud of,” he said the day before his performance.

He chose 18 songs for two sets and downloaded them to his laptop. Studying Kiss concert videos, he picked up mannerisms of original members Frehley, bassist Gene Simmons, rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley and drummer Peter Criss, as well as musicians from later lineups.

In a backroom of Panera Bread downtown, his second home, he rehearsed for weeks. He shaved off his beard.

On the big day, a friend at a salon painted his face. About a dozen friends from the building gathered in the community room. Kockelmans arranged his laptop and two tiny speakers on a table in front.

Then it was showtime.

His audience wasn’t treated to spurting blood or pyrotechnics — just good, clean, rock ’n’ roll theatrics.

Singing sometimes, lip-syncing other tunes, the Mimic furiously strummed as he shifted from Frehley to Stanley in midsong. He shook his shoulders and head, strutted, nodded, grimaced and glared. One minute, he pointed skyward and then the next, he wagged a finger at his audience or, after slashing power chords, raised his fist.

During some numbers, he switched to drums, laying down a crunching back beat, rolling fills and riding a cymbal.

He even showed some tongue, a Kiss staple.

Of course, no concert would be complete without song introductions.

“Some people like to have a little wine. Some people like to have a little beer,” the Mimic said, playing to the arena. “Some people like a little something harder. And some people like a little …”

And he kicked into “Cold Gin.”

Before “Nothin’ to Lose,” he offered a dedication.

“Some of these songs I chose just because I like them. Some of them are just great Kiss songs,” he said before explaining his next selection.

“Because to me, it signified what Erin had to go through to fight her cancer. She had everything to gain, and she just put up one hell of a fight.”

To applause, he added: “She had everything to gain … and nothing to lose.”

Two more songs honored his friend directly.

Opening his second set, the Mimic sat and gently sung his only non-Kiss song, “Yesterday.” Six months before to the day, he had rehearsed it in front of her for a Beatles show he and friends were doing.

“Why she had to go, I don’t know,” he sang.

Then came the classic “Beth,” only with a twist.

“Sister, sweetheart, this is for you,” he said. “It’s called ‘Erin’ today. If they want to sue me, go ahead.”

Rock ’n’ roll is hard work, and the Mimic needed a few breathers. During one, a boy in the audience came up, curious about the middle-aged guy in makeup. Like a pro, the Mimic gave him a few minutes.

“I’m Joe — usually,” he said. “Today, I’m the Mimic. I know I can’t sing. I know I’m all over the place, but, hey, I’m trying.”

Toward the end, the tribute began taking its toll. His solos grew less frenetic. He stalked the stage more slowly.

But he rallied for the anthem “Rock ’n’ Roll All Night,” waving his arms and urging his audience, in true arena fashion, to sing the chorus.

After a rousing “I Love It Loud,” he closed the performance with the showstopper “Detroit Rock City.”

He pulled out all the stops: a hip-shaking, head-tilting, tongue-extending song from the heart to a fan dearly missed.

“We love you, Erin,” the Mimic sang.

He windmilled a chord.

“Thank you so much, Addison Court,” he said.

With a last resounding strum and the time-honored two-fingered rock salute, he said goodnight to State College.

“Thank you.”

Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter@CRosenblumNews.

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/06/15/3654857/chris-rosenblum-tribute-sealed.html#storylink=cpy

R.I.P. to the Great Dick Clark

Greetings, readers. I heard from my dear Godmother yesterday, and saw that it was confirmed in our local paper today, that one of my favorite TV celebrities has passed away. The remarkable Dick Clark. From American Bandstand to the $25.000 Pyramid to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Mr. Clark graced TV sets for well over 40 years.

One of my favorite childhood memories was New Year’s Eve, when my parents and I would watch Dick Clark count down the final seconds until the ball dropped in Times Square to ring in the new year. I was able to have a sip of champagne as we made resolutions for the bright shiny new year. Later, on the re-runs of the $25,000 Pyramid, I remember shouting answers to the contestants, jumping up and down when they would win. Yes, I did tend to get a little excited. I am not certain the years that American Bandstand ran, but I do have vague memories of watching it. Dick Clark would highlight all the up and coming musical talents.

When Dick Clark suffered his stroke a number of years back I thought for certain he would give up. I was wrong. This man apparently told himself, no, as long as I can speak at all, I am going to be part of the New Year’s celebration until the very end. And that is exactly what he did. That is a source of inspiration to me.

For those of you who checked yesterday for a new blog post, it was a crazy day around here. I still hope to have at least one more new one later this week. So until then, take care and happy reading.

Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans

This blog post is extremely special to me. It is a memorial to my late father, Professor Joseph John Kockelmans. Professor Kockelmans, or Pop as I called him, was born in or near Meerssen, Holland on December 1st, 1923.

Dad, a professor of philosophy with great knowledge in religion as well, studied and taught these subjects in Holland before moving to the United States, where he taught at the University of Pittsburgh from 1965 until 1968. Then he moved to State College, PA. with his family and began teaching at the Pennsylvania State University until he retired in 1993.

Even though my dad was a full tenured professor, he remembered the rule to, “publish or perish,” and wrote over 30 books dealing with philosophy and religion, as well as numerous articles. He also was sought after to teach all over the world. In the early years when I was a child and travel was less expensive, Pop would take the family with him to Europe. He lectured in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, as well as twice in Rome. I have vivid memories and many pictures of those trips.

As a child I sometimes felt as though dad was too busy. Most times he would be upstairs in his office typing away, either working on a book or preparing for the next day’s lecture. I was too young to understand that he was taking care of his family the best way he knew how, by doing the work that he felt so passionate about.

My father specialized in the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl and taught them very well. Though I never had the pleasure of taking one of my father’s classes, I heard from many of his students that he challenged them intellectually, yet used language that was easily understood. He was able to get his points across without confusion.

My father was president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, also known as the APA, from July 1, 1986 to June 30, 1987. I called the APA today to get the dates, and a very nice woman looked it up and got back to me within minutes with the exact information. I also got some information from John Protevi’s blog post written just after my father’s death.

One of his favorite times was Christmas. He and I would set up the Christmas tree as my mother would unpack the manger set. Dad also made the Christmas wreath for the dining room table every year. They were works of art. When I was little and wanted to go for a ride to see Christmas lights around town, he always got excited and put his work aside for that special hour that his son enjoyed so much.

In Dad’s later years, his health declined and a new office was added on to the family house, thus eliminating the danger of climbing stairs. When Mother passed in 2003, I moved back to the house and took care of Pop until he passed away in 2008. I remember my father as being strong, witty, loyal and true. He was a kind man who would spend extra time with students if they needed it and sat on many doctoral committees.

Update: Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed this blog post, as well as my other entries. I do have an update for this blog entry about my father.

My father’s official title was Joseph J. Kockelmans, Bacc, Lic, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. I got this information from the Purdue University Press entry on my father’s book Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology.

I hope this doesn’t send a notification to everyone twice. This is the first time that I’ve had to update a post. I’m still in the trial and error time period. I’m still learning how this all goes.

In Memory of Air Florida Flight 90

Thirty years ago today a terrible air tragedy took place. Air Florida’s flight 90 took off from Washington D.C.’s National Airport at 4:01 pm. It stayed airborne for less than 30 seconds. It hit cars on a bridge, killing four people, before plunging into the Potomac River. Of the 79 passengers and crew on the plane, 74 died. I thought about this much over the years and it has weighed heavily on my mind. Several very simple things happened and if any one of them had not occurred the crash might not have taken place.

The D.C. area was in the grip of a blizzard that day, over a foot of snow was on the ground and the airport was closed most of the morning into the mid-afternoon. Once the runways were cleared, planes began taking off again. Palm 90, as it was called in the tower, was to be de-iced, pushed back, and lined up waiting for its turn to take off.

I have seen a TV movie, called Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, and documentaries, including Discovery Health channel’s Critical Rescue: “Heroes on the Potomac,” about this event and they all concur that three things contributed to the disaster. First, when the plane could not push back easily, the Captain applied reverse thrust to aid the tug tow tractor, as it is called, in the push back. Secondly, the wings did not appear properly de-iced, so when the plane was sitting in line for take off, extra snow was piling on top of snow and ice that was already there. Lastly, and most importantly, the engine’s anti-ice systems were not engaged.

When I learned of this, it infuriated me. I thought to myself, how can a pilot and co-pilot be sitting in a blizzard and not activate the systems that would keep the plane free of freezing precipitation. Since they were a Florida based airline, however, I suppose I can understand them being used to not using the anti-ice system.

When the jet crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the Potomac River, it didn’t take long for heroes to emerge. Two gentlemen helped rescue the few survivors that were huddled in the freezing water. They were Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian. Tragedies sometimes tend to bring out the best in people. They might wonder if they have the right stuff. When the time came, both men jumped into the frigid river and did their part in the rescue effort.

Two more heroes were Gene Windsor and Don Usher who performed the daring helicopter rescue. But the biggest hero of all was a man named Arland Williams, who was so tangled in the wreckage and knew he could not escape, that he kept passing the rope to other survivors so that they would have their chance to be rescued first. He made the ultimate sacrifice. To me it is fitting that the 14th Street Bridge was re-named the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge years later.

For family members of people who died in automobiles on the bridge, and passengers and crew in the plane, my heart goes out to you. It was a tragedy that did not have to happen in my opinion but it did. I’m certain that the FAA learned something from the accident and has taken steps to prevent bad weather crashes from happening in the future.