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Action Bob Markle

Music, theater, and my personal life, not always in that order. I try to keep it interesting, I rarely hold back, because one thing I truly believe in is the shared experience of this reality we call life. We're all in this together, people. More than we even know.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today's Libra

Okay, I know it's just the horoscope on facebook, but after a sleepless night, it's kinda weird to log in and see this on your page:

You have forgiven an untrustworthy friend once too often. It is time to find companions you can trust as much as they trust you. Stop trying to be something you are not and your goals will be more easily achieved.

I basically sat on the couch in the early hours this morning thinking, am I that bad of a person?...am I cold-hearted because I don't want a particular person in my life who I've known for about twelve years but isn't the same person today as when I met her?...I think I make a pretty good friend, so don't I deserve the same kind of friendship that I think I give?

How many times do you make excuses for a person, how may times do you have to disregard blatant insults--she's just having a bad day, she's going through a phase, she's experiencing a tough patch in her life--before you realize that maybe you're really an okay person and that there really are assholes in this world and she is one of them? (Why are we so slow to realize that women can be just as shitty as men?)

Your life begins to narrow down significantly, and you--or I've decided to, at least--choose only the cream of the crop for your life. Quality over quantity.

True love, love at first sight, soul mates: I've come to believe that they rank right up there with Santa Claus, world peace, and the idea that every boy (or girl) can grow up to be president. Nice idealistic ideas, but one day the world begins to look like a bright winter day, the light harsh and bright, making you shield your eyes. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. For someone like me, a searcher, you realize you've been looking desperately for something that doesn't even exist, that all that energy you've been putting into relationships and people could be better put toward just about anything: a cure for cancer or the perfect grill cheese sandwich, perhaps.

But friendship seems to be something different, at least for me, because I've experienced deep, true friendships. (Maybe deep, true friendships are just a form of love, true love, and soulmates all wrapped up in one. That would be nice.) So, a friendship is attainable. And it's hard to jettison someone from your life, but as Sue is fond of saying, if you act like a doormat, people will just keep walking all over you.

When you finally stand up and demand what you deserve from people, and not in an irrational way but in a heartfelt, true way, and they don't want to change, they don't want to respect you, who but a crazy person would stick around?

You can't live someone's life for them. You can't tell someone to do something--act a certain way--and expect them to behave that way, just because you told them. Unless you're holding a gun to their head, or have something really juicy on them. They have to value you and want you as a friend. And if they don't, all you can do, all a sane, person with a dose of self-esteem should be expected to do, is protect oneself.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How to act

Spencer Tracey said, just remember your lines and don't bump into the furniture...

yeah, sorta...if it were that easy then everyone would be doing it, even though it does seem everyone is doing it...

but here's the real secret right here...so simple...but that's what makes it hard:

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Rev. Wright: How many years did Cheney serve?

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Worlds in collision

video

With all the "news" about the war in Iraq, the presidential elections, the recession, none of which is good or positive or uplifting, I thought I'd turn my eyes heavenly, with a little help from NASA and the Hubble telescope. It is such a beautiful, amazing universe, isn't it? And frankly, our puny intrigues don't mean a hill of beans to what's really going on in the world.

Galaxies are colliding. One day the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies will collide, and the collision will take place over the course of a billion years. If we--our species is still around (fat chance!)--what will we think? What will we think is happening? The Christian Right will say it's the end of the world, even though it's preplanned and inevitable today. And talk about global warming. Don't worry, if we're around, we won't feel a thing. Just a slight pinch. A bit of discomfort.

But it's something to think about. More and more I keep thinking that life is just like watching a reruns on TV. After a while you just know how things are going to turn out, and life loses just a bit of its mystery. But that doesn't mean there isn't mystery in life. You just have to look for it in different places.

Here, on earth, in the United States, in Massachusetts, in Boston, it's all the same, over and over and over again. And some people really like that. They like tradition. Ritual, even in all it's weird and dysfunctional ways. Bizarre interpersonal relationships that are perpetuated are just fine for a lot of people, because they'd rather put up with a little discomfort, whether it's a galaxy colliding or personalities than change. People just don't like change.

But I love it. I get bored so easily. And the universe is filled with change. It's built on it. The universe is constantly changing. We used to think that the natural state of matter was stillness, and it took force to make it move. What we've learned is the natural state of matter is motion, and it takes force to change the direction of the motion. But we're moving all the time. The atoms that make up our bodies and the spaceship that we ride on and the galaxy our spaceship spins around and the space that our galaxy inexorably speeds towards a collision with another galaxy.

Happy Friday.

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Electability

We have a new issue injected into the Democratic presidential race. Electability.

It's not who the people want in the White House (popular vote; the most votes), it's who can get elected (win the most electoral votes.) Big difference. Who can win the big states for the Democrats like California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? Or rather, who is more attractive to redneck, blue-color white voters that gave Ohio and Pennsylvania to Clinton: a white woman or a man with brown skin? That's the big burning question right now.

And that's a good question, and a good lesson to all the young, idealistic people who are getting so involved (finally) in this countries politics. They're learning how our country works. They're learning about democracy, or our brand of it, not the kind that we're exporting to Iraq and Latin countries but the kind where money and delegates matter, not a person's vote. See, when you say one man/one vote, it's like saying anyone can grow up to be president. Or there's a Santa Claus. It's a nice theory, but that ain't the way this country runs.

Electability. It's not even who can beat McCain. It's who can beat the system.

Welcome to the U.S. of A.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why can't Barack Obama close the deal?


That's the question Hillary Clinton posed about Obama. Sticking him for losing Pennsylvania. It's a jab.

Well, you know what? The same damn question could be put to Clinton. She's not closing anything either, and she doesn't realize that the reason Obama isn't closing the deal (and just the language, the way she posed the question, speaks volumes about her and the reason why people like me can't stand her, the way she represents that white, corporate, back-biting world that sharks like her swim so well in)...the reason he's not closing the deal is because she's siphoning votes from him.

Maybe she thinks she's getting the votes because people really want her in the White House. Sure there are real Clinton supporters out there. But there are plenty of blue-color whites, plenty of rednecks who aren't voting for Clinton as much as they're voting against Obama's skin color.

She (and Clinton supporters would say Obama) is fragmenting the Democrats. But since she posed the question the way she did, she's the one who looks like the egotist, the one who isn't thinking about the country or the voters but her own self and how much she wants to sleep on Pennsylvania Avenue again. She looks like the one who's in it just to bust things up, a la Nader eight years ago.

And there isn't a lot of time between the end of August when the Democrats hold their convention, and the beginning of November. That's not a lot of time to patch things up. To present a united front to the country.

The Democrats remind me of a family of hillbillies fighting among themselves while the rest of the world is stealing from them. It seems the Democrats are too stupid to see that the real fight is against the Republicans and McCain, and they should be focusing all their efforts on that fight. But right now they're just like a bag of cats, clawing at each other and making a bunch of noise.

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Make Your Own Kind of Music

...for debby...



Nobody can tell ya;
There's only one song worth singin'.
They may try and sell ya,
'cause it hangs them up
to see somone like you.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sing along.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin',
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.

So if you cannot take my hand,
and if you must be goin',
I will understand.

You gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.

...but then, i couldn't leave this one out, being a LOST fan and all...and just love that contrast of the sweet, happy, happy song and the visuals...

...welcome to a piece of my little world, peeps...



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BPD increases its patrols out by Stony Brook

The Boston Police Department said it was increasing its patrols out in Jamaica Plain at the Stony Brook T stop where Luis Troncosco was killed over the weekend in the Southwest Corridor Park near the stop.

This is called locking the barn after the horse is stolen...sorta...

There's no way the BPD could have prevented this. Some crazy person just fired into a crowd. The weather was nice and Troncosco was playing basketball. But showing a presence is the only way the BPD can make the people who live out that way safe.

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Music sites and magazines that are making it

This was in AdAge last week, and was posted on the the home site here at digital central, on our home page. It's about music magazines and sites and how they're winning the battle (or so they say) for advertising dollar. You have to consider the source, but advertising is what it's all about. As soon as you figure out that television is one big advertising medium, that the TV show is just a commodity for bringing in viewers, i.e. potential buyers of your products and shit, you've got the game beaten. That's why morals are out the window. As long as it's selling toothpaste, you'll see the skankiest, amoral bunch of losers doing the most base things. It really is that simple.

And I know I keep saying the business model, the business paradigm has shifted in the music business, it looks like the same old model for entertainment will be put to work on music. The music, the artist, will just be a commodity, and while that flies in the face of a lot of real artists, the real world has always done so for people who view the world from the fringes.

Fader, Paste, Rcrd Lbl, according to this article, are music-supported vehicles, not ad-supported. There's a difference. Target the audience with a specific kind of music (the bait, the commodity) and the theory is the audience (potential buyers) will show up and advertisers will pay to get their attention. It's the rifle approach to advertising, targeting a specific audience, vs. the shotgun approach to the more general sites like the music site MySpace just launched, that throws a bunch of stuff out there, hoping to hit something. The more targeted, the more specific anything is--a joke, a dramatic monologue, an ad--the more powerful it's going to be.

Art as business.

And as for the musicians. They'll keep banging away. They'll need a cut. They'll want a cut. But they won't get that much, unless it's Madonna or U2 dealing with Live Nation, which is a whole nother story. And right now these sites are giving free downloads of their music, which is giving them exposure.

Here's the article:

Music Blogs Team With Magazines and Labels
Spate of New Deals Create Opportunities for Advertisers
By Andrew Hampp
April 17, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- This was a banner week for music blogs, as several merged and others found partners in Universal Music Group and print magazines like Fader and Paste.

Gawker Media kicked off the round of deals this week by selling off Idolator, its music blog, to Buzznet, a social-networking site that recently added the popular music site Stereogum to its network. Now two independent-music magazines, Fader and Paste, are looking to the music blogosphere to add some reach to their online-ad buys.

Fader Media is partnering with Rcrd Lbl, an ad-supported indie-music downloading site that launched in November, with clients such as Puma, Virgin America and Nikon in tow.

Independently together
The indie-music mag, which has a print circulation of 92,000, saw an opportunity to align similar audiences interested in underground music and emerging talent. Its partnership with Rcrd Lbl is expected to grow Fader's online audience from 60,000 unique visitors per month to 250,000. Plus, Rcrd Lbl's creative director is a former Fader editor, so the relationship with the magazine was quite simple to negotiate.

Andy Cohn, Fader Media VP-group publisher, said, "The aesthetic of Rcrd Lbl -- the hand-selected content, curated by a former Fader editor -- made the site something we were all extremely excited about when it launched. It wasn't really just a clearinghouse of ad-supported music, it was carefully selected music that's ad- supported."

That was a key differentiator to both parties, separating the new association from more broad-based ad-supported music downloading sites like Qtrax, Spiralfrog and the recent expansion of MySpace Music. Sites like "MySpace are so overarching and so mass, this is much more of a targeted community," Mr. Cohn said. "It weeds out the average casual music fan that might go to MySpace to check out a band."

Multi-sourcing music customers
Peter Rojas, CEO of Rcrd Lbl, sees the ad-supported music space as part of a larger strategy for advertisers to use behavioral targeting online. "It's not a one-player game anymore. Just because someone downloads from Rcrd Lbl doesn't mean they'll stop buying from iTunes or stop going to Hype Machine. You ultimately have to recognize the music fan gets music from lots of different sources."

The same goes for music content, which Paste Magazine is looking to aggregate for advertisers via its new Paste Nation network. The new partnership brings 11 music and movie blogs to the Paste online network (including PopMatters, Spout and Virb), totaling 4.3 million unique visitors and over 28 million page views per month. Not only is it a scale play for Paste, it's a targeting opportunity for non-endemic advertisers seeking to align their brands to different music- and movie-based activities.

"The idea here is to provide major brand advertisers an efficient way to reach that true tastemaking audience," said Nick Purdy, publisher of Paste. "It takes a lot of work to go buy those individual sites, so grouping a select group of these together can help even just the planning side of some of the agencies out there."

Indeed, scale is of utmost importance to key buyers in the space, but so are the targeting opportunities. Carl Fremont, senior VP-media director at Digitas, said aggregated online communities with focuses like music, fashion or travel have benefits for brand marketers seeking to align with lifestyle affinities. "Anything that will improve our ability to target and improve our relationships with customers is what we're looking for. We applaud anyone who develops technology that will allow for a greater connection," he said.

Blogging for bucks
As the indie, Long Tail side of the online music community gets more consolidated, the major labels are starting to take more of a stake in monetizing through blogs, too. Universal Music Group just announced its investment in Buzznet, the aforementioned music-oriented social networking site that recently added Idolator and Stereogum to its network. Universal will be one of the first music conglomerates to take a hands-on role in editorial programming for a social-media site, with revenue split between both companies. Universal artists' songs and videos will be woven into the site's daily news feed, and users will also be able to create blog posts dedicated to Universal artists and content.

Doug Morris, Universal chairman-CEO, said in a statement, "We are always striving to push boundaries and expand the scope of our digital activities. And our partnership with Buzznet fits perfectly into that strategy. Tyler [Goldman, CEO of Buzznet] and his team have built a dynamic and legitimate social destination that provides fans and sponsors an all-encompassing musical experience."

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spate of violence sets off worries...

Please, let's hope the craziness isn't beginning.

From today's Globe:

"A 20-year-old Boston man died and at least five other people were injured in a spate of shootings across the city yesterday that raised concerns about a possible spike in violence as the weather warms. Law enforcement officials said they did not believe the three separate shooting episodes were related. The bloodshed began early yesterday with the wounding of a 13-year-old in the South End and flared late yesterday afternoon with a deadly shooting in Jamaica Plain and more gun violence in Dorchester that left four people injured.

In Jamaica Plain, Luis Troncoso (left) became the city's 18th slaying victim this year, compared with 17 at the same time last year. He was shot about 4 p.m. on a basketball court at Southwest Corridor Park and was pronounced dead shortly after at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office."

And on the Red Line just this morning, I'm standing there minding my own business, listening to some Jim Cuddy, nice country stuff to get me into my day, when right behind me, right in my ear, I hear some yelling. This happened after the train lurched and a man fell onto a little Asian woman sitting down. I felt him fall against me, too. He apologized profusely to the little lady, who seemed as if she didn't want any part of anything.

Southie accent: What'r'you lookin' at?

I turn and get a whiff of booze. Some big, loud lout. He's yelling at a few people farther up the car who, indeed, are looking at him. One, a woman, is dressed in full Boston Marathon regalia.

Southie accent: Take a fuckin' picture. It'll last longer.

I guess he was drunk, he stumbled, and attracted some attention. Even though he was drunk, he still was like a mad rhino. Not someone you want to fuck with at any time of day.

And so it goes in the city...

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Daydream Believer

nice haircut there, davie...it's looks like the one i just got...

john stewart died just a while back...i always thought michael nesmith wrote this honey...not that it matters what's inside my head, but it sucks that you have to die before you get your dues...sweet, sweet little song...




Oh, I could hide neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings.
The six oclock alarm would never ring.
Whoops its ringing and I rise,
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes.
My shavin razors cold and it stings.

Cheer up, sleepy jean.
Oh, what can it mean.
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen.

You once thought of me
As a white knight on a steed.
Now you know how happy I can be.
Oh, and our good times starts and end
Without dollar one to spend.
But how much, baby, do we really need.

Cheer up, sleepy jean.
Oh, what can it mean.
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen.
Cheer up, sleepy jean.
Oh, what can it mean.
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen.

[instrumental interlude]

Cheer up, sleepy jean.
Oh, what can it mean.
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen.
[repeat and fade]

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Turn off your TV week


This week--From Monday, April 21st to Sunday, the 27th--is Turn Off Your TV Week, sponsored by the Center for Screen Time Awareness. They say all screens, including video games and computers, should be turned off to get the maximum effect of the...what is this?...a protest?...a ban?

Anyway, turning off the TV isn't a prob for me. Sue and I actually do have a television, but it's not connected to the cable. As a matter of fact, it's not even plugged in. Right now, it's on the floor in the corner of the bedroom with a DVD player stacked on top of it. We moved in January 15, and haven't watched any television, except when I "watched" the Super Bowl.

Anyone who has been in the same room with me watching television knows that I can't just sit and watch anything. I have to be doing something else at the same time. I honest to God don't understand how people can just sit still and watch television as much as most people do.

And when I tell people we don't have a television, I often get the same response I got from a co-worker. Total disbelief. They flat out don't believe me. Well who would, when you realize that, for example, this particular co-worker told me he had a television in every room in his house? Hey Mr. Green, he's so serene, he's gotta TV in every room....(Pleasant Valley Sunday).

It's not that I'm even opposed to television, no more than I'm opposed to say, polo. I don't play polo and I simply don't like watching television. I'd rather read or play a guitar or listen to music or talk to Sue or play with my dog or...well, you get the idea. There are just other things I'd rather do than watch television.

I do think there is a ton of crap on television, and I think a lot of it has gotten way out of hand and is inappropriate, for example, for young people, but I don't think percentage-wise there's any less crap than in say a bookstore once you factored in all the self-help books and autobiographies "written" by pop stars. You have to choose on television as much as you have to choose in a bookstore.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Arpil 19: Record Store Day


On Saturday, April 19, 2008, hundreds of independently owned music stores across the country will celebrate “Record Store Day.”

Stumbled on this. Saturday is Record Store Day. Not sure what it means, but I think we sure can use one.

I still buy CDs. I will for awhile. Despite the convenience of digital, the size and the fact that you can store thousands on something the relative dimensions of a playing card, I have a nice high-end component stereo system at home that sounds so much better than anything digital. And I would dearly love a really good local record store where I can touch them and read the covers and just breathe them in.

Right now I buy from Borders on Downtown Crossing in Boston, which is wildly over-priced and where I only buy on sale. I've also heard it's going to go out of business, and maybe one of the reasons is that it's one of the worst places to buy music because the listening stations are the worst things in the world.

Then there's Looney Tunes up on Bolyston by Berklee, but that's a used store so it's all hit or miss if you're looking for something special.

F.Y.E. on Downtown Crossing is another option, but again, over-priced, but at least they do carry some used country. But the selection is pretty slim, limited to a lot of the popular country.

Newbury Comics on Newbury Street is pretty good, too.

But in the end, places like Amazon.com are still the places to go for CDs, where you can get used CDs that are the same quality of new, for the price that they should be in the first place.

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Malcolm Holcombe


It's always a good day when I find a new musician, and I mean one that blows my socks off.

Malcolm Holcombe is written up in the March/April issue of American Songwriter, and as I started reading the reviewer, Steven Rosen, used all the right words to get me interested.

An Appalachian Townes Van Zandt. (In my mind one of the greatest American songwriters ever.)

A 52-year-old western North Carolinian (which means he's got some experience and from the hills.)

His new album is produced by the same guy, Ray Kennedy, who has produced for Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle. (The old birds of a feather idea.)

Not pop. (Jackpot! You can keep your CMT Awards.)

A voice that's raw and groaning. (Denotes character.)

And Rolling Stone said:
"Not quite country, somewhere beyond folk, Holcombe's music is a kind of blues in motion,
mapping backwoods corners of the heart." ~David Fricke

There's a wonderful video of him at Studio Southtv, where he recorded. You get a real good idea of who he is, and what his music is like. He's real country, and by that I mean real like the people who live in the country.

Here's Mama Told Me So



Tell me this guy ain't the real deal.

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Buffalo River Home

there are two things in life....but i forgot what they are...

just mixing drinks with mixed feelings...






Ive been taking off and landing but this airports closed
And how much thicker this fog is gonna get God only knows
Just when you think that youve got a grip
Reality sneaks off it gives you the slip
As if you ever knew what it was taking you down the line

Chorus:
Tearing through the cottonfields and bus shelters
Of the south running helter skelter
Down through the mississippi delta
With no place to call your own
Mixing up drinks with mixed feelings
All along the paint was peeling
Down to an indian blanket on a pony
With no rider in the flesh and bone
Looking for his buffalo river home

Ive been circling the wagons down at times square
Trying to fIll up this hole in my soul but nothing fits there
Just when you think you can let it rip
Youre pounding the pavement in your daddys wingtips
As if you had some place better to go
Or a better way to get there

Chorus

Now theres only two things in life but I forget what they are
It seems were either hanging on a moonbeams coat tails
Or wishing on stars
Just when you think that youve been gyped
The bearded lady comes and does a double back flip
And you run off and join the circus
Yeah, you just let that pony ride

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Actor or guitar player?


The question was, would you rather be an Oscar-winning actor or a great guitarist? Without hesitating, I answered, guitarist. I should have pulled out the three guitar picks I have in my pocket just to emphasize my point.

I love acting, but for me acting is stressful and anxiety-ridden, although ironically, I feel more comfortable on stage than I do in most social situations. And I love what it teaches me about myself and the world.

But the feeling I get when I play guitar, when I'm making, for what for me passes as music, can be so uplifting, calming, invigorating, cleansing, whatever emotion I seem to need at the time, like your body craves potato chips after you run for the salt, is why I say I'd rather play guitar than act.

What's even more odd is I know I'm a much better actor than I am guitar player. I've only been playing guitar for coming on two years, but I've been acting steadily for the past 13 years or so. And I acted years before that.

Maybe it's the newness of music. But there is such a feeling you get when you hold an acoustic guitar against your body and play it. You physically feel the music. Or the strength and control that comes from an electric. You pick a string and the powerful sound that emanates is the same feeling you get from pulling a trigger. (Maybe Hillary Clinton should play electric guitar. Then she won't sound like such a doof talking about shooting one duck in Arkansas.)

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I want to be Digitas


Last week David Armano wrote about The Top 10 Made Up Words of Web 3.0.

It's cute and clever but I dearly hope he's wrong.

But check out his status.

Yes, David, we all want to be Digitas.

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Today's Libra

There are plenty of people waiting in the wings today who would be more than happy to assist you. Utilize your excellent intellect and listening skills to uncover new things about your friends and coworkers today. You may be surprised at what you find. Others will listen to you when they realize that you have their well being in mind.



So, where are these people in the wings? Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Maybe I'll use my excellent intellect and listening skills to uncover things about my friends so I can blackmail them.

Just kidding...no, really I am....

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Shine a Light



Caught the movie over the weekend. So, beyond the hype...

The trailer has the highlights. That's the best part of the movie right there. Scorsese's little asides, what he has to go through to organize the shoot, and when the Clinton's entourage shows up before the show to shake hands, all those bits are entertaining, at least. Keith Richards' and Charlie Watts' reactions are funny.

The film then is just the Stones' playing the benefit, broken up occasionally with little ironic bits of old footage from the Stones' career that's supposed to illustrate, I suppose, the amazing fact that these old geezers are still playing rock and roll. No, what's amazing is that intelligent people are still forking over a lot of money to see them.

You don't learn anything new about the Stones.

And granted, even I've never been a big Stones' fan to begin with, you see that Jagger is still crazy on stage, but definitely slowing down. And his singing has taken a big hit. Keith Richards is a huge egomaniac with this reputation for being an awesome blues guitarist, but then Buddy Guy takes the stage and then you see what a real blues guitarist really is. Buddy Guy is on stage, and it appears that Richards is trying to hog the spotlight, or suck up to him, and Guy just plays harder and just blows them all away. Beautiful. The blues is American, and the Stones came over here and they incorporated it in their music. Just like they think Faraway Eyes is country. It's just them making fun of country music. And Keith Richards is given two solos, and man, you wonder why: He can't sing...at all. He's just Keith Richards and the crowd eats it all up, but then you realize that it's a wealthy white crowd in NYC that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

And I think Ron Wood has taken a back seat to Keith Richards, even though Wood is probably the better guitarist. At one point in the footage, a reporter asks each who's the better guitarist. Wood answers that he's the better one. Then Richards is asked, and he hems and haws. When he learns that Wood said that he was, Richards says something like, they're both lousy guitarists but together they're awesome. A good guitarist is happy to just play, and let the frontman do his job.

Which brings up another question, with Richards and Wood on stage, plus an awesome backup band, why does Jagger pick up a guitar? He plays acoustic when he does a number with Jack White, and later he's prancing around with a Strat. His point...?

They're old, and they still rock, but it's nothing new. They're just scarfing up the money like hogs at a trough.

The flesh on Keith Richards' upper arm just hangs on him. Ron Wood's hair is dyed (or is the correct word choice, died?) a color of black that should never be seen on a man his age. And Mick Jagger should have retired a while ago and used some of his money and power and prestige to help some part of the world: I don't know, the homeless, the hungry, ugly people who bear an extraordinary resemblance to monkeys.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Lonely Planet: A Sick Bag Tour of Asia



Buddy John just left for a few weeks in China, then I see this on Youtube today.

Got a big laugh from #2. John's been through Bangkok a few times, and knows all about gastrointestinitis.

But here's the thing...

We think health care is so great here in the States. (Not!) If you're going to get sick, get sick in Thailand. They have about the best health care in the world.

When he got deathly ill in Bangkok, a doctor paid a house visit to his hotel, hooked him up to an IV, gave him medication, and healed him up. Sum total of the visit: about 80 bucks. That's not the co-pay. That's the total cost of the care.

Getting sick is all a part of traveling. My advice is to take your shots and bring plenty of Imodium.

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Today's Libra

John,
Buoyant with confidence, you embrace the moment even as you throw yourself into the uncertain future. Everything you do today will be part of a learning curve. Accept it for what it is and keep from letting it bring you down. Consider finding a new territory if you want to make a fresh start.


Uncertainty? I'll take it. It makes life interesting...

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Skidboot

Proof positive that all a man needs in this world is a dog, a pair of boots, and an old truck.

....thanks, Jack....


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Filene's is tumbling down


The old Filene's building is getting torn down this week, and people are lining up to watch. There are these two dinosaur-like machines with huge jaws that grab and hold and shake girders. I'm not sure what the fascination is. I know I've stopped a few times and I wonder if one of the machines will pull the the entire building down on top of the operator and I'll be the eye witness of a disaster. That's part of the element of NASCAR. There's the potential danger.

But there's more. I'm sorry to see Filene's go. I love Downtown Crossing, and a few times have blogged about it, calling it Boston's Times Square. Boston isn't all "pawking the cawr at HawvardYawrd"....as a matter of fact, that is a tiny aspect of Boston. Boston is multi-racial and multi-cultural, and Downtown Crossing is one of the few places in Boston where you can see that. You don't see people of color at Fenway Park, the Garden (TD Banknorth Garden), Faneuil Hall, or any other Boston tourist site. Truth be told, Boston is a pretty racist, segregated city.

So, the powers that be, the developers, are putting in a 38-story glass tower in place of the old department store. And this morning standing on the other side of the street were two very old women, watching quietly. I asked them both what they were thinking. The first said she was sad. I said, I bet you spent a lot of time in there, and she laughed and said yes. The other said she missed the basement. (That would be Filene's Basement, the long-time place where Bostonians bought discount from Filene's.)

But things change. Sometimes I just get a glint of what those two women must be feeling. Blogging more, instead of writing for publication. Reaching out this way, sometimes I do wish for the days of a typewriter, when you could feel each letter of each word with a punch and a snap.

And all in all, I think change is good. If you don't embrace it, if you just live in the past, you're just waiting for the Grim Reaper to tap you on the shoulder.

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Katie Couric, in or out?


Is Katie Couric still in? Is she getting yanked from her anchor job? Is this something anyone really cares about? Why do we care about people on television and the movies? I could no more care about whether or not Katie Couric will have a job than I care about Paris Hilton's crotch or Britney Spears' bald head. And no offense to Katie, who actually seems like a really nice person, though I'm really not into her brand of perky, the status of her job ranks right up there with crotches and bald heads.

Lots of people establish these bonds, what perversely pass for relationships, with these people on the screen, both big and little. No wonder Facebook and your list of "friends" and other social networking sites are so popular. It's the level of relationship that people are used to. The digital world really is just one step removed from the electronic world on television.

People had withdrawal from during the TV writers' strike. People have shows, as in, I have to watch my show(s). Whether it's CSI, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, America's Next Bachelor, Bachelorette, or Majorette. It's been months since I watched television. Months. And I don't miss it one bit.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Absolut yanks Mexican advertising

Okay, I thought it was pretty funny when I saw it, but I guess Absolut Vodka, or rather, the PR flaks for Vin & Sprit, Absolut's Sweden-based parent company, apologized because a few groups thought it was in insulting. The ad only ran in Mexico, and I bet it was received pretty favorably there.

Frankly, like I said, I glanced at it a couple of days ago when someone forwarded it to me, laughed because I got the visual joke, maybe identifying with the target audience, going outside my own head, as it were, but I never thought or felt that I, as an American, was supposed to be so nationally outraged that I would actually stop buying Absolut vodka--not that I buy that much anyway; I don't usually drink vodka anyway, but for some reason I suddenly have a hankering for some.

Anyway, let's face it, the United States conquered the lower 48, and though the most red-blooded American would choke on the celery stalks in their Bloody Marys if they heard me say it, it's the damn truth. The United States was stronger and just took the land.

It wasn't that long ago, and there are other places in the world where there are demonstrations and civil unrest for the very thing that we did to Mexico. Uh, Tibet, for one. We did to Mexican lands what China has done in Tibet, but I don't hear anyone shouting, Free Southern California. Or New Mexico. Or Utah.

So, the ad was right on, as near as I could tell. It was yanked though, because in the end the dollar rules, though maybe not for that much longer, and the Swedish-based company that owns Absolut will soon be taken over by French-based Pernod Ricard SA, so maybe the U.S's nationalistic attitude may just suffer a few more hit.

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Glory Bound

thanks susan...



Freedom came my way that night
just like a jet plane In and out of sight
I was hauling ass at a million miles an hour
wondering how hard I'd hit

When they came into the station
they said I was bad beyond repair
But I got no qualms with my situation
say here I am

So say cheri cheri won't you dare to
say cheri cheri won't you dare to
leave a message and your number please
Tie them up all my old fantasies
Put them in a big red bow and send them care of me

I'm taking a chance on the wind
I'm packing all my bags
Taking a mistake I gotta make
then I'm glory bound

So I packed it up and I went to the winds
and I lived out of a VW bus for a year or two
Ain't nothing but a pipe dream and my guitar
livin off of apple fields and old cigars
Diggin this microphone checking it out every night all alone
the car battery is dead again so I got my head dead set against it

So say cheri cheRI won't you dare to
say cheri cheri won't you dare to
leave a message and your number please
Take the time to want to satisfy me
Take all those fantasies and send them care of me

Chorus

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Organizations are like zoos


We were talking about work while we were getting ready to go there...

We need a new computer. The one we have the Smithsonian wouldn't even take...and Sue can't get her personal email at work. They--the IT powers-that-be where she works--have blocked access. It's work, and their reasoning is you're not supposed to do personal business there.

But email has become such an important way we stay in touch in life, and personal life and professional life do overlap now. There's no denying it, there's not getting around it; life has gotten faster and more complicated and people will find a way to get around the system to do the things they have to do in life. A progressive organization might as well have a system in place that truly reflects the people who work in your organization. A happy employee makes for a successful organization.

Such a controlling attitude...such an old-fashioned attitude...treating mature, intelligent professional adults like children. As if they all will take advantage of the situation. And some will take advantage; of course they will. That's human nature. But we tend to dumb down, and instead of cracking down on the slackers and the people who abuse the system, we make everyone follow the least common denominator.

Anyway, this reminded me of the time I was hired as a writer for a pretty prestigious software company. And on my first day, like everywhere, I put in my order for the office supplies I'd need to perform my very important function for that company: pens, pads of paper, and pencils. That's really all I need to do my work. Anyway, I also put in an order for a pencil sharpener, since I tend to use pencils. I just like the old-fashioned way of putting words down. It forces you to really think about each word. (An aside: one time someone I worked with admonished me for using pencils and not pens, insinuating that I was afraid to make a statement. What an idiot.)

Anyway, at this particular software company that is still around but not doing that great, and once I finish this story you might understand why, when I asked for the pencil sharpener I was told by the department administrator, some crusty old bag, that I couldn't have one because she had one and only she could have one.

You mean, I said, if I want to sharpen my pencil I have get up from my desk, walk down the hall to your desk, which sat out in the hallway outside the director's office, by the way, and sharpen it there?

Yes, was the answer.

You're kidding. Do you know how many pencils I sharpen in a day?(I should have just asked for a bunch of mechanical pencils, but you know how these kinds of arguments kind of take on lives of their own.)

I still had to go to her desk.

So I went out to someplace like CVS and bought a little battery-operated pencil sharpener. The look on that crazy woman's face was priceless.

My point: human organizations are some of the most bizarre inventions, and they force humans to behave, or allow certain human to behave, in very bizarre ways. We don't act human. Instead a lot of people tend to behave like animals in a zoo, like those crazy baboons with the blue butts who sit around on monkey island, masturbating in the open and throwing their feces at each other. That, to my way of thinking, pretty much sums up just about everywhere I've ever worked.

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Whizzin!" opens Thursday April 24


(If I recall, Urinetown is also being spoofed in this show, too, hence the name....)

Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans are proud to announce the Boston premier of their latest hit musical,"Whizzin'!"

An adult version of the beloved classic, "The Wizard of Oz", "Whizzin'" tells the musical story of troubled teenager Dorothy Gale, as she travels over the rainbow, far from the dull, sepia toned trailer parks of Hyannis to the deep, dark recesses of her own VERY colorful mind.

It's a musical, magical place called "The Land of Id" where all your favorite characters reside! There's a pill popping Glinda, some VERY gay Munchkins, an agoraphobic Tin Man, a painfully insecure Lion, a cell phone addicted Scarecrow ... even the sociopathic Wicked Witch of the South End flies in for a spell!

Chock full of terrific new songs, (plus a few standards!) "Whizzin'!" just can't be beat for all out entertainment! The show boasts an all-star cast of Orphan favorites, including Afrodite, Penny Champagne, Megan Love, Olive Another, Billy Hough, Ryan Landry, Cheri Amour and returning to the Orphan stage, Boston favorite Rick Park!

So grab your basket and get on board for the sassist, silliest, sexiest sensation of the season!

As they say in Revere, "Whizzin'!" is a pissah!"

"Whizzin'!" will be presented at the Machine Theater from April 24 through May 24 with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. Advance tickets are available for purchase through Theater Mania 1-866-811-4111 or online www.theatermania.com. Tickets are $28 for general seating, cash at the door. For more information, visit our website at www.GoldDustOrphans.com and now check us out on MYSPACE!

We look forward to seeing you at the show and thank you for your support!!


Gold Dust Orphans
387 Ashmont Street
Dorchester, Massachusetts 02124

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Chickamauga

Chickamauga's where I've been
Solitude is where I'm bound


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bob Dylan wins a Pulitzer

Bob Dylan received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

He is the first rock musician to receive the award. Previous musician recipients are John Coltrane, George Gershwin, and Thelonious Monk.

I didn't know the Pulitzer gave out this award. I thought it was all about journalism. News reporting. Dylan is one of the greats, but it seems odd for him to be put in this crowd. Words are words. Music is something different. Still, it's pretty cool, even though it seems the Pulitzer crowd needs Dylan more than he needs them.




Roland Scherman took a pretty good picture of Dylan, and he didn't get a Pulitzer.

Although he did win a Grammy for it. The shot was used for the cover of Dylan's greatest hits album.

Although the Grammy people spelled Scherman's name wrong.

He sent the statue back, asking that his name be spelled right.

They didn't do it, though...



Scherman also took some pretty good images of Dylan at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.

Here's a young, scrawny Dylan arriving at the festival. Yes, that's a bullwhip he has slung over his shoulder. What's that all about. Obviously some sort of statement, but at a different venue other than a folk festival, say a honky tonk in the south or someplace like west Texas, young Bobby would have left with that thing knotted around his neck. Or ceremoniously hog-tied and flung out the door.

But the folkies were duly impressed....




And here's a really good up close and personal image of Dylan and Joan Baez on stage together.
















Finally, it's the early songs that still just resonate. If I wasn't going to be cremated, the words, "Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me" would make some nice words on a tombstone.

I've loved this song from the moment I heard it. I would love to meet the Tambourine Man. What's weird is that voice coming out of that young face.

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Loss

Two University of Rhode Island students were struck by a vehicle Sunday morning on Boston Neck Road in Narragansett.

URI sophomore, Mary Ellen "Molly" Offer, 19, was transported to South County Hospital and later pronounced dead.

Holly Maganzini, 20, was also struck by the vehicle, and was transported to South County Hospital and then to Rhode Island Hospital for lower extremity injuries.

My oldest knew the two students. I told her that this is how you get old.

I told my other daughter who is about to get her license that this is what parents talk about, that we've lived through this and when we tell you to drive safe it's because we've lived through things like this, and it's only experience that teaches you about these things.

There are friends and family who suddenly woke up to a loss. It's one of a parent's worse nightmare, losing a child....like this...

It's just short of one, having one barely escape something like this, and having the other one die.

It seems a lot of life is hurt and pain, dealing with loss. It's a lucky person who hasn't. Or doesn't, who leads a charmed life.

And it's how you deal with it that makes all the difference, but sometimes the loss is too great. I remember the nuns used to tell us when I was little that God would never give you a burden that you couldn't carry. Bullshit. The nuns were full of bullshit. That was just their way of guilting you for feeling human. For being human. For hurting. They'd admonish us, Jesus died for you on the cross, the least you can do is...(you fill in the blank.) That's all bullshit.

Sometimes the hurt is too deep. And we've yet to develop a medical treatment, a surgery, to repair the damage.

When I was little a friend's little sister was troubled. And when she was a teenager she ran away from home. Not far. In the end we learned it was only a few blocks away, and just up the street from where I lived, they found her frozen to death in the trailer of a moving van where she had sought shelter.

I'll never forget the look that from then on was on the mother's face. A blankness and a numbness and, yes, an emptiness, because something was gone from inside her, something we can't see but it's still there, as tangible as her daughter once was.

Don't tell me time heals all. Don't tell me we're given burdens that we can carry. Sometimes they crush us.

I think that's why I love the book No Country for Old Men so much. Some might say I'm getting older. I don't think so. I think I'm getting smarter. And there are so many times when I want to just sit real quiet and play music.

I've blogged about this on more than one occasion now, how Baxter found me floating face down in the water, miles from shore, and handed me a guitar saying, here, you need this. (What he was doing way out there is still a good question.) I clung to it like the piece of driftwood it was, and floated to shore.

Not knowing the first thing about it, I started picking and strumming, read part of a book (because I have a really, really short attention span and couldn't have gotten through the entire thing on a bet) and two years later it's the one thing I cling to, and I can't explain where my mind goes when I play. Sometimes I wish I did, but mostly I just want to leave sleeping dogs lie, and not worry about where I go because if I find out it might be taken away. It's a secret kept from me for a reason.

I guess I'm saying we all deal with loss in our own way. Sometimes it can be pretty destructive, even self-destructive. Other times we don't deal at all. You kind of hope these people can all get through it in the end. There's no guarantee though.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

The 48 Hour Film Project

From the site:

The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just 48 hours. On Friday night, you get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all to include in your movie. 48 hours later, the movie must be complete. Then it will show at a local theater, usually in the next week.

In other words, a whole bunch of crazy filmmakers with all the assorted people that go with making a movie (actors, camera operators, make up artists, gaffers, and best boys and girls) write, shoot, and post prod a movie.

They did their insanity this past weekend. Now their going to screen their work at the Kendall Square Cinema starting tomorrow night.

I got the word about all this from the Young, Innocent Irish Lass, Ashley James, who was in Frog Pond Films entry, Complicated Arrangements. If there's any voting involved, please vote for Complicated Arrangements because Ashley is a very nice, hard-working actress and if she's involved it's gotta be good...

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A day to be a bum

It's just one of those days when I wished I could have just stayed home all day and played guitar. It's not that I'm not thankful for my job; most days I like it, like coming to the office, like the people I work with. It's just that some days I just want to be a bum. I think a bum is a noble goal.

Trailer for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes

I'm coming up on some kind of breakthrough, down there on the fret board, and I don't want it to slip by. I've been sitting on the same plateau for some time now, and I don't do well on plateaus. I've learned to take deep breaths and wait out the time, but all in all I like climbing.

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Sylvia


We should all have dogs. It should be put in the Constitution. It's not just a right, it's an obligation Why just think: you and I and Nelson Mandela and Yassir Arafat and Meryl Streep could all meet at Club Med and what would we talk about? Our dogs, Leslie. Our dogs.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Isabelle Eberhardt: The Oblivion Seekers


It's one of Sue's favorite books, and I can see why. It pretty much sums up Sue's (and to a greater extent, my) philosophy on life. I don't want to own property. I want to rent so I can pick up and leave when I want to. I don't want to cut grass on a beautiful Saturday, and I don't want to be financially responsible for fixing the toilet. I've done all this in another life, and looking back, I hated it. It never was me. It was just me doing the stuff I thought I was supposed to do, because everyone else was doing them.

It's true: I really want to live out in the middle of the desert with a (loaded) shotgun by the door, with Sue, my dog, a guitar, some books...

When I finally cracked the book, it took me about two nights to read it.

Isabelle Eberhardt traveled mostly through North Africa alone, among the tribes and the French soldiers there.

Here is the essence of her life's philosophy, from Penciled Notes:

A subject to which few intellectuals ever give a thought is the right to be a vagrant, the freedom to wander. Yet vagrancy is deliverance, and life on the open road is the essence of freedom. To have the courage to smash the chains with which modern life has weighted us (under the pretext that is was offering us more liberty), then to take up the symbolic stick and bundle and get out! To the one who understands the value and the delectable flavor for solitary freedom (for no one is free who is not alone) leaving is the bravest and finest act of all.

Later, she writes:

The healthy wayfarer sitting beside the road scanning the horizon open before him, is he not the absolute master of the earth, the waters, and even the sky? What housedweller can vie with him in power and wealth? His estate has no limits, his empire no law. No work bends him toward the ground, for the bounty and beauty of the earth are already his.

And finally:

To have a home, a family, a property or a public function, to have a definite means of livelihood and to be a useful cog in the social machine, all these things seem necessary, even indispensable to the vast majority of men, including intellectuals, and including even those who think of themselves as totally liberated. And yet such things are only a different form of slavery that comes of contact with others, especially regulated and continued contact.

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Now that's country: Robbie Fulks

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Boston was in sync with the universe today

It was a beautiful day in Boston, and it seemed things were working out today...the universe was in sync....

I plowed through a lot of work this morning and suddenly found some time on my hands, something I haven't had for a while...sometimes I'm too busy to attend to some of the really important things in my life that might get me out from behind this desk...

...but...reaching into my pocket to check....yes, I had two guitar picks with me, I jumped on the T and headed up to Daddy's Junky Music...maybe play a few guitars...look for that digital recorder that I don't know why I want...hope that the salespeople weren't pushy today, because they sell on commission there and I know what I'm looking for, if I want help I'll ask for it, and no I don't need another credit card...and hoping that the number of Berklee students present would be at a minimum, because Berklee students suck...they are the most selfish, self-centered, whiny bunch of show-off babies---worse than musical theater actors--and they really make the time spent there a real hassle.

...and the world was in sync with me today....

I was going through the gates at Park when a Cleveland Circle train was pulling into the station, right there at the bottom of the stairs....no fighting through a crowd of meandering commuters....and what the?...a seat?...no effing way...sigh...

Easy train ride...going past Berklee suddenly a punked-out woman was walking alongside me...she seemed awfully interested in me...what?...do you want to help me save a whale? she asked...I started laughing, and I heard her say, why are you laughing?...do I look like someone who wants to save a whale?...particularly that not fifty feet away was a perfectly good drunk/drug addict who could have used her help...that's what I love about liberals and do-gooders: They care more about the whales and the baby seals than their fellow humans.

Hot damn...I slip into Junky Daddy's and not a salesperson notices, not even the greeter by the door...and in the acoustic room is a older Latino man with a woman, and neither one looks like they go to Berklee...and he's playing some sweet classical riffs, too...nothing fancy, just nice....

I check out the geetars on the wall...there's a pretty Ibanez that I pick up; it's nice and solid but you know, it just doesn't sound right. I look around. Gibson...no, I'm really not a Gibson man...Taylor?...uh, no thanks...there's the old standby: a Martin D-28, retailing for about $2,800, on sale for $2,100. The other guy is sitting on the bench, and since there were no stools, I plopped down on an amp and played Good Friday. Then Angel Mine. I sang under my breath.

The other guy said the guitar sounded good...at least I think that's what he said...we started talking and from what I could gather from my broken Spanish and his broken English, he lived in Somerville in a big room with a lot of guitars and a piano, and he thought I was Bruce Springsteen. Nice. He left and I noticed a gorgeous Gibson and thought, it's so bonita...and expensive...$4,100 on sale for about $3,200...it sounded so rich and then I plugged it in and played some more.

Slipped out. Saw the Latino guy in the subway station. Waved. Got off at Arlington because it was such a darn nice day and had some time to walk and get some exercise. Crossing Boylston I thought what a nice city Boston can be when the weather's nice and the people aren't so cranky. Almost bought an ice cream cone from a truck until I noticed a cone was $3.00. Ah, right, tourists will pay that, I guess.

Up on Tremont I helped a blind woman cross the street, because I was feeling so damn good...

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Birds of a feather



Sometimes I swear people are put into our lives for a reason, though I actually hate typing those words...I don't believe there's an angel behind every bush or that every little moment and detail of life has reason and purpose (I think all and all the universe is pretty random), and although I think the universe is way more connected and complex than we can ever imagine, I don't necessarily believe in fate...I think it's a matter more of like people have a tendency to be in the same actual geographical spot and from our individual pov we see it as something bigger and grander than it is...kind of like God or Plato's Cave.

...Though I do tell the story of a point in my life when I was so emotionally wracked I suddenly noticed I had two key people in my life with serious physical disabilities, and I realized that the way they were--one in a wheelchair, one a multiple amputee--was exactly the way I was on the inside, and that they figured out how to get along in the physical world handicapped (I'm sorry folks, that's probably the un-pc way of saying it, but there it is; physically challenged, is that better?) and I would have to do the same thing in the emotional world..btw, Dick Hoyt and his son weren't in my life; I just think he and his son are awesome individuals...

...but all this is starting to pay dividends in my acting, I'll tell you that...or just in life, because despite my disclaimer above, it ALL is connected...

anyway...people in my life....

I suddenly find myself with a lot of creative people who have had a few setbacks...or people who started late...a beautiful woman who is looking for her inner voice and pretty much has found it as an actress...an older man, early retired because he was successful in business, but feels like a failure but gives off warmth like the sun...people so excited and driven with expressing themselves...an older man who was at the top of his game, dropped out, maybe made a few "stupid" choices in his life, but what's that mean?--only that he has regrets, maybe...but he's not bitter and is still so damn interesting and smart and sharp that he is a delight to be around...

there does seem to be a time and a season for everything (it's in the bible; you can look it up) and sometimes I think if we just stop trying so hard that things tend to fall in place...I think more important than going out and looking for things, you have to let them come to you, and more important is knowing what you want when it comes along so you know to grab it....

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Going Back

Gotta love the set, the clothes, the hair...actually, it all gives me the willies, truth be told...but it's a good song, gotta hand it to gerry goffin & carole king for the lyrics...nice sweet melody that could use a bit more of an edge, that edge you get when you get older, but they were young when they wrote it, so they didn't know about that....yet...


I think I'm going back to the things that I learned so well in my youth
I think I'm returning to those days when I was young enough to know the truth
Now there are no games to only pass the time
No more electric trains, no more trees to climb
But thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win

I can recall the time when I wasn't ashamed to reach out to a friend
Now I think I've got a lot more than just my toys to lend
Now there's more to do than watch my sailboat glide
And every day can be a magic carpet ride
A little bit of courage is all we lack
So catch me if you can, I'm goin' back

Now there's more to do than watch my sailboat glide
But every day can be a magic carpet ride
A little bit of courage is all we lack
So catch me if you can, I'm goin' back

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Last night on the T

Last night on the T. The Orange Line. It's crowded, and we're pulling into Back Bay. I'm standing. Hell, most of us are standing. And a woman who's been fidgeting the whole time starts to move to the door as we pull into the station. Or, rather, as we lurch into the station. It's really annoying. You're trying to keep your balance with one hand and a briefcase in the other, or in my case a briefcase and a duffle in the other, and some people just compound the discomfort.

"I'm getting off here," she said, trying to push by before the train has stopped.

"So am I," I said, stopping her. "And so's half this train," I added.

I've never understood this behavior of my fellow commuters. The door is right there. It's not like the train is that packed and the door is that far away, and even if it is, I've never seen anyone get trapped on a train. But they act like they've got five seconds to get off before a bomb is going to explode. Maybe it's some kind of weird city neurosis, kind of like claustrophobia with a bit of OCD thrown in for good measure.

But I've reached the point in my life where I just say things. I'm starting to understand about old age, not that I'm old or even feeling that old, but you just get this "I don't give a damn" attitude, and let me tell you, it feels really good.

I used to care about so many things in my life. But I hit a spot, and I just don't give a damn anymore about a lot of things.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More on the state of the music business


Shit comes in threes.

Harp magazine quit publishing. Then No Depression.

Today Folio reported that Resonance, what Folio called a "small, well-regarded independent music magazine," called it quits.

I didn't read Harp or Resonance, but the other day I blogged about No Depression, a magazine I found about a year ago; I would devour the each issue of the magazine cover to cover a couple of times. And I pretty much said the music industry has to figure out how to market, but that mags (or is the hip terminology, 'zines??) are still valuable to the industry.

The music industry has to come to terms with the new business model that includes the digital world. So do magazines like No Depression, and all the rest. Low advertising, paper and printing costs, postage, and a few other reasons are all the standard reasons why magazines are going out of business. The Web seems to be the answer, but Resonance was finally putting its edition online, and that didn't work. I'm not sure why, except a quick glance at their site showed that they basically took their magazine, turned it into a giant pdf, and made that the content. The online world won't have none of that.

First and foremost publishers have to prove to the labels that they are needed, but that's not easy. What they need are hard numbers. I can't give hard numbers off the top of my head, but because of magazines like No Depression (and Performing Songwriter and American Songwriter) I actually went out and bought CDs of artists I read about in their pages. And I will continue to buy more CDs because I like the quality I get, but I'm never paying full retail price because they're way overpriced and I'm too smart of shopper to pay that. I'll buy on sale or used. CDs are not going to go away anytime, soon. Times are still in a transitional phase, so there are still uses for CDs as revenue generators--even in ways not yet thought of, but the labels have to figure this out, too. How about this, A&R head of your major label:

CDS ARE OVERPRICED, YOU'RE JUST RIPPING OF THE PUBLIC, WE KNOW IT, AND THE TRUE LOW COST OF A CD MAKES IT IDEAL FOR PROMOTIONAL PURPOSES.

There, do you think they'll get that? No, they won't. Blind, deaf, and dumb. And richer beyond belief. You actually can have too much money. It changes you. But that's a topic for a different blog. No wonder people steal music.


My Tour Filter is packed with bands I'm tracking. I'm a huge Lucinda Williams, Cowboy Junkies, and Steve Earle fan, just for starters, all of whom I've seen in concert a couple of times. There's where you're money is, or good chunk of it. I keep saying it, too: ticket sales, t-shirts, beer. There's where you're money is going to come from. (Of course, when I write that, I think, the labels and promoters will jack up the price of admission to the point where Major League Baseball has gotten, where you can't afford to go. Greed, greed, greed.)

But I'd drive a hundred miles to see Chris Knight, who I first heard about in No Depression. You can't tell me there aren't others like me. Maybe not huge numbers to fill a stadium like, oh, say Faith Hill and her Hollywood hillbilly husband, Tim McGraw, but that's the size of your market. Too effing bad if you don't like it. The world is changing, and you got to get creative. Labels and magazines both....

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