I heard the news, baby

October 7, 2020

“Nature’s music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.”
~ Mary Webb

My souvenir from the Staples Center, 2007


1978 was a memorable year for me. As a freshman in High School, navigating all of the changes and challenges that come with being a teenage girl, music was a source of passion, inspiration and refuge. I would spend hours in my room listening to my favorite albums.

When the band Van Halen released their self-titled debut album, it sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before. Nearly every song became an anthem. “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” was background for some memorable make-out sessions with a high school crush, while “Little Dreamer” felt like it had been written just for me, a young girl whose curiosity and imagination were vehicles for escape from a sometimes less than ideal reality. “Eruption”, Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar solo track, had to be listened to with eyes closed.

Years later, while I was living in Pasadena, a neighbor of mine who was older than I and recently retired, shared that he had resumed playing the guitar after giving up the instrument as a teenager. When I asked him why he had lost interest in playing as a teen, he corrected my assumption by sharing a story about a local guitar competition he had entered.

My neighbor told me that he grew up determined to be a professional guitarist and played and practiced hours and hours on end so that he could become the best. His developing skill eventually gave him the confidence to enter a local Pasadena guitar competition. He was scheduled to play last and, after hearing the other contestants, he was sure his performance would wow the judges. There was one entrant left to play before him, a small and somewhat awkward kid who was a few years younger than he. The skinny kid got up to play and blew everyone away with his virtuosity. After hearing this younger kid play, my neighbor said he decided that he could never be that brilliant and, right then and there, gave up his dream of playing guitar. The kid’s name was Eddie Van Halen.

Van Halen the band went through many changes over the years, as did I. I can’t say that I’ve loved every iteration of their line-up, nor every song released since since that eponymous debut album; but decades later, those first songs still inspire passion and inspiration.

A concert can be defined, not only as a performance, but also as an agreement in purpose, feeling or action. Ludwig van Beethoven was quoted as saying:

“Music is indeed the mediator between the spiritual and sensual life.”

Thank you, Eddie Van Halen, for reconciling the earthly with the divine through your guitar.


Zucchini are still in season. These Eggplant Zucchini Panini are the best kind of comfort food: delicious, nutritious and simple to make and serve.

Eggplant and Zucchini Panini
You can also use a panini press or a Foreman-type grill to make these. I use the old-fashioned method, detailed below.

1 small to medium eggplant, washed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 large or 2 small zucchini, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 or 2 ripe organic tomatoes, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 slices of Italian bread or 4 panini rolls, cut in half
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
8 oz of smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
16 to 20 large, fresh, organic basil leaves


Brush eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Lightly season zucchini and tomato slices with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil and rub with cut side of a garlic clove.

Divide cheese slices among 4 of the bread slices and place on top of sides with olive oil and garlic.

Grill eggplant slices until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Place hot slices of eggplant on top of cheese.

Grill zucchini 3 to 5 minutes per side. Place cooked zucchini slices over eggplant slices and top with slices of tomato, then basil leaves. Top with remaining bread slices, with the olive oil side facing towards basil leaves.

Working one at a time, carefully place each sandwich in grill pan over medium heat. Weigh sandwich down with a smaller, heavy pan (such as cast iron). Heat sandwich about 1 or 2 minutes and carefully flip over to heat the other side, using smaller pan to press sandwich down. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Cut each sandwich in half and serve warm.

Serves 4


2 Responses to “I heard the news, baby”

  1. Marie

    Yes, an agreement in purpose.

  2. Sue Quinn

    What an interesting story and what a great gift Eddie Van Halen had.

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