- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2000

GLENORA, N.Y. The middle-aged Long Island man jumped off the stage, imaginary guitar pick in his hand, hammering out the opening lick to John Fogerty's 80s hit, "Centerfield" on an invisible guitar.

Another night at the corner bar, where spirit and spirits meet to conjure rock 'n' roll aspirations? No, it's New York Senate candidate Rep. Rick A. Lazio in an unguarded moment.

Doubtful you'd catch his opponent, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, in such an animated stance, although the visual is enticing.

Mr. Lazio's love of music is deep; he plays guitar, owns two vintage guitars, was in a band in high school and even gave lessons at one point. He sold his amplifier when he hit fatherhood, "to make room for the kids' stuff," he said. "I still play when I have a lot on my mind."

So music was a fixture during Mr. Lazio's two-day stumping tour of central New York last week, from "Stars and Stripes Forever," which closed the convention and preceded his speech in Watkins Glen, to heavy dance tunes that greeted him at Elmira College, courtesy of a DJ.

"On the Road Again" closed his appearance in Binghampton, an appearance at a golf course that opened with booming salsa and a version of "Hot Hot Hot" that made New Yorker Buster Poindexter a name in the 1980s.

"We have all kinds of CDs on the bus that we choose from," said a campaign aide. "We're looking to get an Allman Brothers CD so we can play 'Jessica.' "

The barrage of boomer hits is ceaseless, but it has its drawbacks.

For example, you know the cultural bandwagon is sagging when the coffee shop of the Newburgh Holiday Inn plays hipster crooner Lisa Germano as part of the background music to go with your breakfast buffet.

But the tour bus is still cranking tunes by 1970s hit makers the Cars.

"No, I don't pick the music," Mr. Lazio said.

But he does sing a little. Or at least tries.

While greeting an older man in a crowd in Watkins Glen, something prompted Mr. Lazio to sing a couple of off-key lines from Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York."

"I better stop," the candidate said, almost inaudibly. "I want to win votes, not lose them."

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