Saturday, August 4, 2012

Comfortable Under This Rock, Thank You

I’m sitting here, listening to Judee Sill’s The Kiss. She is definitely one of music’s great losses. I’m getting lost in the labyrinths of fate.
I had this summer all mapped out. I was gonna camp as much as possible but it’s been too damn hot. There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in a tent when it’s over 90 degrees. I’ll never forget the night Dylan and I spent an entire night in my car with the AC.
I have 2 major skydiving events I’m missing. Last week a lot of my jumping buddies went down to Sullivan, MO for an annual memorial service for friends we lost in a crash. We not only lost dear friends but the operation had to close.
I haven’t been able to tear myself away from editing the final part of the band’s DVD, so I didn’t go.
This weekend is an old timer’s reunion in Taylorville, IL. My other drop zone in Vandalia has also closed. I’m still working on the film. I can’t afford it anyway. I know I’m going to regret not being there. The prospect of a bunch of non-current hot dogs trying to out crazy each other is pretty frightening anyway!
I was supposed to meet up with my friend Tom. We just got word that Tom broke his back during a bad landing in Ottawa, Il at Skydive Chicago. He was air lifted to Peoria. His wife Drea says he’s coming home soon and shouldn’t be paralyzed.
Maybe we’re getting too old.
The other thing we’re supposed to do this summer is stay with our friends Marion and Terry in Chicago. I’m going up once with Valerie and another time with my daughter Chloe. Chloe is fascinated with dinosaurs and is dying to see Sue, the world’s largest T-Rex skeleton at the Field Museum.
We should have gone by now but I have to finish this film. I’m working on the finishing touches so it shouldn’t be long. I just have to get a couple more important interviews.
Terry and Marion---- if you’re reading this, we are still coming!
They turned us on to something called the Megabus. We can get to Chicago for almost nothing. It’s a good thing (and a miracle) we didn’t go last week.
A Megabus on its way from St. Louis to Chicago had a flat, lost control, and veered into a bridge. One person died and dozens were air lifted to hospitals in St. Louis and Springfield, Il.
Sometimes inertia is its own reward.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jury Duty

When I turned 18, we had just gotten the vote. The argument was, if you’re old enough to get drafted and die for your country, you're old enough to be part of the decision making process. What a joke that turned out to be. Without corporate money you might as well hang it up.
When I was young and idealistic I really wanted to part of the process. I knew my vote threw me into the jury pool and I saw it as my civic responsibility.
My first vote was for an independent and I prided myself on never having picked a winner.
I had friends who voted for Nader. At the time I thought both parties were so bought and paid for, it didn’t matter who you voted for. People who voted for Nader were derided for giving votes to the Republicans.
I now know, if Gore had won we wouldn’t be at war or be facing our current deficit. It really does matter.
Valerie, my son and I visited our friends Uncle Bill and Martha Rose last night. They were shocked to learn how much I hated Obama.
He gave the banks Bush’s TARP with no strings. They refuse to lend so small businesses and home buyers are screwed. One third of his stimulus was in the form of tax cuts. This was to make the Republicans happy. Not only will they not acknowledge it, but it watered down the stimulus so much they can say, “See, it didn’t work!” He said, “Single payer is off the table.” So we lost the public option.
His “pragmatism” has set the Democratic party back 20 years.
The American public is convinced he’s socialist. By that logic, the right are Nazi’s and Fascists. The ignorance scares me. Big money is rewriting history. A guy I work with learned that Nazi is an acronym for National Socialist Worker’s Party. “Socialist, that proves they were lefties!”
My son has been doing research on presidential candidates and found someone in the Green party he liked. Uncle Bill and I looked at each other and said, “There’s a vote for the republicans.” In his defense, Dylan pointed out I was idealistic in my youth and never picked a winner. “It’s my turn now,” he said.
Uncle Bill said, “If you don’t vote for the lesser of 2 evils, you vote for the greater of 2 evils.”
This is all long winded back story for my real story; I had jury duty this week. Needless to say, I’m a lot more cynical now.
I get picked every cycle. I even get picked as a juror.
Last time I told them I was a self employed courier, living paycheck to paycheck. It would be a financial hardship for my kids and me. They bumped it back 6 months to Christmas and it was even worse.
A friend of mine at work said that excuse works for her every time. I guess they only believe women have to raise kids.
I been worried about covering bills for months. What if a trial drags on and on. Last time I was in one that dragged on for a week and a half before they settled out of court. That was after sitting for 3 days.
I think things have changed a little. Last Wednesday we sat until 3:00 in the afternoon before they started calling jurors. There weren’t really very many of us. They kept calling numbers and I was convinced I’d be called. They must have picked 2 thirds of the crowd. They didn’t get me. I was kinda hoping they would so we get get it over with.
One woman didn’t respond. They kept repeating her name over the intercom and she never responded. Finally they marked her absent and picked some other schmoe.
About 30 minute later she came in. She’s been on her cell phone out front. Everyone in there was on a smart phone or lap top. They scolded her, told her to sit down and unmarked her absent.
They then told us we were excused from jury duty. It was all over. We were told that in spite of the fact that we sat there all day doing nothing, we could take pride in the fact that we did our civic duty and participated in the process.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Spreadin' Art

When we ride in the Banana Bike Brigade parades we usually get paid $5.00. I guess it’s for a hamburger when we get to the carnival that’s usually at the end.
I love all the small town festivals we’re in. I really think we’re the favorites of the parades. The kids line up so we can slap ‘em five as we ride by. Adults come up saying we inspired them with new ideas for their art class.
Yesterday we rode in New Athens, Illinois. It’s a perfect little town off the main road against the Kaskaskia River. You could drive right by it and not know it’s there.
I feel guilty that I get credit for the wonderful creations we get to ride.
Valerie, the kids and I became part of it when I ran into my friend Jon at a political rally downtown. He thought my kids would enjoy it. I think Valerie and I enjoy it more.
We usually grab a couple tables after the parade. We’re pretty conspicuous and folks come around to meet us. There are people with fascinating stories. The carnival owner told us his wife loved us and he had to say hello. They’re from Texas and they spend their entire life on the road.
New Athens has a historical society with a museum. I couldn’t imagine what they had so I went in. Among other things, they had ancient cheerleading outfits from the high school. It was an incredible look at America’s past.
The BBB are really about 5 or 6 people with friends coming in and out. Valerie and I joke that they only call us when it over 100 degrees and no one else will do it.
An artist named Uriel made the first bike and taught others. There’s Carolyn, Jon, Lori, and Chris who’s always working hard keeping the bikes road worthy.
It’s all about bringing art to the people and I think they really inspire everyone they come in contact with.
I told Jon there was no need to give us the 5 bucks, we just want to be part of it. He said, “Don’t let them hear you say that!”
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tony's Project

Tony Patti and I were going through videos of Wax Theatricks rehearsals to see if there was anything I could use for the DVD. I think there will be good Youtube stuff.
He told me he hadn’t been able to finish his personal project since Danny had passed. It certainly took the wind out of my sails.
When we were in rehearsals for the Wax reunion, my son and I went down to a studio in South St. Louis. Tony asked him to bring a t shirt so he could put band art on it for the show. Dylan cherishes it.
If recordings were still on vinyl, his band had just finished side one. This was just over a year ago.
Last Fall Danny, Dominic, Dylan and I went to Tony’s house to hear his new quad release of Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia. It was the happiest I’d seen Danny since he got sick. He said he was going to throw away his stereo copy.
After Quadrophenia, Tony played his project. It’s incredibly ambitious.
The first half is a concept album and he made the band learn and play the whole thing straight through. I suspect you won’t be able to play a single song on the Cd. You’ll have to listen to entire thing. I have to admit, I’ve wanted to control my audience’s listening experience myself on occasion.
As a record maker, the whole really is academic. It reminds me of Hitchcock’s Rope. He filmed the entire thing on a stage with a single moving camera. It was an ambitious experiment, but in the end it didn’t matter to the audience.
As we were listening to Tony’s project, I couldn’t help but thinking, “This would have been so much easier to record in pieces!”
I just got a skeleton of a musical piece from Carl Weingarten and Walt Whitney. I have to do what I’m gonna do to it and send it back. That’s how the next Delay tactics record is going to be made.
The DVD has been consuming my every waking moment and I have 3 other projects behind that. Not to mention 2 unfinished Fojammi records and 2 records worth of my own material.
Just after Danny passed, we had a huge party for him at Duff’s Restaurant. My buddy Stephen Martin pulled me aside. He said Danny had given him a message for me. “Finish your stuff!” It does seem like every time I start making headway on it, I get distracted.

Get off your butt and finish the project Tony.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time Lost

I sat down at my computer Saturday morning around 7:00 to edit the Wax Theatricks film. When I looked up at the clock, it was 8:00 Sunday night. Needless to say, no blog.
I get emails when I’m tagged on Facebook. That’s the only time I go on. I see friends who must spend their entire lives there judging by the amount of posts, forwarded articles and thumbs up that cover my wall.
I have musician friend who tell me they won’t rehearse unless they get paid. Why not learn the material at the gig?
That’s how I feel about computers. The only time I ever felt like time wasn’t being eaten up by them is when I was paid. I could spend days trying to figure out a software glitch or assemble a pc at a workbench. Days gone with hardly anything to show for it.
I worked several years in the I.T. department at Harrah’s Casino. We used every kind of technology, network, and hardware known. Training had to be done on the fly.
A lot of time and money was wasted because they didn’t want to pay for training. That seems to be the current trend. I guess Harrah’s was ahead of its time.
I’ve built every computer I’ve owned since the mid 90s. I could never have afforded them otherwise. I’ve spent countless hours trying to install drivers for hardware that didn’t want to play with the rest of the system. Building good music machines has a learning curve.
When I kill hours on my own time, I honestly feel like I’m sacrificing my life for my art. Life’s too short!