Saturday, April 21, 2007
My last full day at work was Groundhog Day. This wasn't just any February 2nd., this was Groundhog Day in Woodstock, Il. Woodstock is where they filmed "Groundhog Day", the movie starring Bill Murray and directed by Harold Ramis. It is my favorite movie save for "Citizen Kane". (There is a Woodstock-"Citizen Kane" connection. I'll write about it in my next blog)
The station I programmed was WZSR; licensed to Woodstock. I confess that I was drawn to this particular job in part because of my fancy for the "Groundhog Day" movie. Like most people, I thought it was filmed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I remember visiting Punxsutawney back in 2002 and wondering where the square was. (My good friend and mentor Mike McVay had the same experience)
As Groundhog Day approached, I was nearly giddy. We arranged a broadcast from the bar where Phil and Rita drink to world peace. (now known as the Courthouse Grill) We even had the "World's Largest (Unofficial) Toast to World Peace" that evening. (made up 150 T-Shirts to mark the occasion) The town of Woodstock celebrates Groundhog Day the same way Punxsutawney does, but with far fewer people in attendance. My goal was to support the community our radio station served by creating the best Groundhog Day possible. With 8 million people in Chicagoland, I thought "why not". I am happy to say that the turn out this year was the best it had ever been with the exception of the year WGN came to town. And it was cold. Just like in the movie. Single digits. I had my Oldies station there (WWYW) and a sister station from Kenosha (WILL Rock) joined in the fun. The next day a professor from Rock Valley College in Rockford did a symposium on the movie. He, like me, and apparently millions of others, LOVE "Groundhog Day". The story of the sardonic Phil Conners character is one many of us can relate to. The whole "is that all there is" aspect of Phil's view of life, hits home. As you know, Phil spends day after day, week after week, month after month (year after year?) stuck in Punxsutawney, on Groundhog Day. He goes through all of the stages of loss: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. It is only after he has accepted his situation and makes the best of it, that he is redeemed. Embraced by the entire town when he chooses to serve it, and in the end, loved by the angelic Rita, played perfectly by Andie MacDowell.
There is an old saying about how yesterday is in the past and tomorrow isn't promised to anyone, that in reality, we have today...this moment. In "Groundhog Day" , after Phil finally wakes up on February 3rd with Rita in his arms, he says: "Today... is Tomorrow". He realizes what a gift he has been given, to see another day, (in a profound new way) and you know he will make the most out of the rest of his life. I love that the song "Almost Like Being In Love" sung by Nat "King" Cole closes, in my opinion, one of the most satisfying movies ever made:
What a day this has been
What a rare mood I'm in
Why, its almost like being in love
Theres a smile on my face
For the whole human race
Why, its almost like being in love
Make today your February 3rd. The first day of the rest of your life. Fully awake and aware. Grateful. Seeking to Serve. Why, it's almost like being in love!
I may not have served the wonderful people of Woodstock, Illinois for very long, but I know I served them well. Happy Groundhog Day (Always!) woodchuck, chuckers!!!