2.27.2004

love and fear are not heteroexclusive (my word. just made it up.)

now playing: dolly varden, "too good to believe"


from former first daughter and ex-don henley squeeze patti reagan davis:


Feb. 23 - I once met a woman who was in her 70s but who had the weight of centuries pushing down on her shoulders. Her husband of more than 30 years had died long before I met her, yet she was still going through the backwash of grief. On the day of his death she was in the room that had become his last country—a hospital bed, a table of pill bottles, an oxygen tank. The end was coming. But she turned away at the fateful instant and missed his last breath. The doctor saw him die; so did the nurse. But his wife, the woman who knew him best, happened to look out the window at that one moment—the last she could ever have shared with him in this life.

By the time I was introduced to her, she was just coming out of a long bout of agoraphobia (fear of leaving home.) The phobia rushed in and devoured her about a year after her husband died. She told me clearly that the heavy stone in her heart—the granite of pain, of guilt, had invited in the phobia.

Love and loss are twin souls; we don’t have to live too many years to learn that, but the longer we live the more often we are reminded. We watch our parents age and often sit by helplessly as one gets ill, and the other tends to them, nurses them, feels the collision of love and loss in every moment. On March 4th, my parents will have been married 52 years. But only my mother will be aware of it. Alzheimer’s has erased all those decades from my father’s memory.

If we never love deeply, we will never experience loss carving us up inside. Then again, if we never love deeply, we won’t live fully, completely, joyfully pushing out the boundaries of our hearts. Many of us juggle these two truths.

If you only look at how many dating Web sites there are, how many matchmakers and how many magazine pieces promising to improve our relationship skills, you would think we are, collectively, eager for love. You would assume that we hold it as a high priority, a necessity.

Yet if you look further—say, at the divorce —you might start to wonder how committed we are to the worthiness of love. Why, as time goes on, do we seem to make more mistakes in our choices of partners? In our parents’ day, divorce was hardly as common as it is now. Did we act too hastily when we said “I do,” or bail out too readily when things got rough? As a divorced person, I can answer only for myself. My ex-husband is a wonderful man, and we have remained friends, but we were ill-suited as husband and wife, and I think we both secretly knew we were a mismatch when we got married.

The irony of our times is that the one group of people—gays— who passionately want to get married are slamming into a wall built of political concerns, legislative wrangling, right-wing religiosity (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), and oddly enraged TV pundits who seem to think the world will come to an end if two people of the same sex join in holy matrimony.

In the early 1970s, I was living with my boyfriend and our out-of wedlock arrangement was regarded as rather scandalous by both of our families. When I went to a wedding ceremony of a lesbian friend of mine, I was struck by the obvious irony. Here were two women who could not be legally wed, but who were happily celebrating their commitment to each other. They seemed to have a better understanding of the importance of ceremony, ritual, public declaration than people like me who tossed off the institution of marriage as unnecessary.

Whenever I hear about the furor over gay marriage, and whenever I step back and look at how tentative and wary we are about love (I’m including myself in that one) I wonder the same thing: What is it about love that frightens us so much? In the personal arena, the easy answer is, I suppose, loss. We wonder if we can survive the deep bruises to our hearts if our partner gets ill, or dies, or leaves. Solitude might be safer. Yet we see people surviving loss so we know it’s possible; the heart is a sturdy little muscle.

The harder question is: What is frightening about a same-sex couple standing forth in front of the world and making their commitment to one another public? Is the happiness of others really so threatening? Maybe the bravery is what’s threatening. I don’t know if I could stand up to society’s wrath in the name of love. I hope I could, but as a straight woman, I’ll never be tested on that one.

A woman I know sat at the bedside of a man dying from AIDS. He told her he didn’t think he’d accomplished much in his young life, and now he was dying.

She said, “Did you love?”

And he replied, “Oh, yes. I have loved deeply with all my heart.”

“Then you accomplished everything,” she said.





doldrums

now playing: karla bonoff, "if he's ever near"



as per my usual blogger routine, i glance over at the sidebar of recently published blogs and see if any of the titles catch my fancy...i woke up this morning in a foul, sad-for-the-state-of-the-world, wish-i-could-go-back-and-start-over kinda mood, and one of the blogs happened to be titled "doldrums" so i went straight there - to find an entry questioning the reader as to whether they shit once or twice a day...seriously.

didn't bother to bookmark that one...

came back to the house this morning after taking the kids to school and flipped on the TV while i waited for wendy to get ready for work - vh1 classic was playing the video for "seven turns" by the allman brothers, which furthered my funk by slightly opening the quin wound...i talked to blake last night for a while, about finishing the record, about putting a band together - suggested we name it "the malcontents" only half jokingly....

i think i've been kidding myself for some time now. i've been touting myself as having made peace with my dinosaur status, and i'm not sure now that this has ever been true. i think that i've neither accepted dinosaur status nor made peace with it. i don't consider myself a has-been, i don't think that i'm no longer able or willing to contribute musically to the world, and i don't think that i'm ready to settle for playing in bars for the rest of my life. i don't think i'm ready to put myself out to pasture and tread water for the remaining days i have left.

one of my old grape street peers, jim boggia, posted this song (poem?) on his site some time back...i haven't asked him about it, but i'm feeling like i want to post it here for your perusal. it seems to sum up my thoughts this morning.


I Realized This Afternoon While Driving to Connecticut


Last Tuesday - I sat across
from another - stupid record label boss.
He told me - I play the notes
too perfect - I should try to be more like the Strokes.
It made me so depressed that now I can't get out of bed.
He wouldn't know an artist if I kicked him in the head.

I saw the brass ring but I'm never, ever getting it
I realized this afternoon while driving to Connecticut.

West Hartford - is pretty far
from Philadelphia - about five hours in the car.
It gave me - time to think about
my life and - now I really have no doubt
unless I get a nipple ring, unless I shave my head
I better call a doctor to pronounce my career dead.

I saw the brass ring - I'm never, ever getting it
I realized this afternoon while driving to Connecticut.

I've read there was a time that
there were Record Execs who had ears to hear a well constructed melody -
that kind of person would do well with me.
But now it seems they only
want you if you're angry and you play two chords and shout out some obscenities -
and since I don't do that, the hell with me.

They're supposed to be in A&R - yet they can't understand
how this song I played on my guitar would sound played by a band.
Or, they'd really love to sign me - but they're sorry, they're not able
because Howie Day did not sell enough units for their label.
Or it's just because my face is something less than photographic
or 'cuz I don't have 14 year old girls making my demographic.
I could keep on going on with their pathetic, lame excuses
but then I'd have to keep on driving all the way through Massachusettes.

I saw the brass ring and I'm never, ever, never, ever, never, ever, never, ever, never, ever, ever, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever . . .

I saw the brass ring - I'm never, ever getting it
I realized this afternoon while driving to Connecticut.



i guess this would be a good time for me to again rethink my position on validation - and where my sense of validation comes from.

or maybe, to examine that within the bigger question of what it would take to make me happy...or to bring me some peace.

most areas of my life are exactly the way i want them. i have a great relationship with my children, who - like their father - aren't perfect, but i wouldn't change a thing about them.

well, except for jayda's taste in music and dylan's attention span, maybe.

seriously, though, they are who they are and they're both wonderful people, and i love that i get to be part of their lives and they part of mine. hell, once latin music gets over that Goddamn backbeat that is required by law to be in EVERY song, i may even start to like some of it....but i digress. while none of us were looking, we've become a family unit that actually enjoys each others' company and leans on each other for support.

i'm one of the rare minority of americans who can honestly say that i enjoy my job a great deal. i make good money, and i have excellent customer service skills...and people trust me. from an occupational perspective, i think i've been pretty successful.

but this music thing still kicks my ass from time to time.

what i think i'm realizing is that i really want to be a part of something that has a sense of momentum...that at least creates some form of movement, a feeling that progress is being made, that there are a few more new faces in the crowd at every gig, that people are inspired by what you're doing, that there's some sort of emotional paycheck - however small - as a result of the turmoil and spiritual wear and tear that making that kind of effort exacts on you.

and, as i've said before, i don't want the brass ring that jim is referring to, per se....i want to be a part of something i can be passionate about. even if it's on a lower rung of the food chain - hell, especially if it's on a lower rung of the food chain. if there's one thing i know about myself, it's that i'm not cut out for MTV - and in the current musical climate, i'm legitimately thrilled to be able to say that. nothing about what's popular in this day and age excites me in the least. i have zero desire to be part of anything that might bear a resemblance to the success stories of these past few years (with an exception or two that i'm sure i'd defer to if they came to mind).

so what the fuck is it i want, you might ask?


truth?


the truth is...with apologies to the buttpirate from jerry maguire...

i just wanna play.


but i want to do it a little further up the ladder...i wanna play for people who show up because we're playing, not because there's a draft beer special on friday nights. i wanna play for people who want to leave the show with a CD or their name on a mailing list...for people who show up to the gigs knowing the words to some of the songs. i wanna sleep on a bus careening down an interstate in the middle of the night with my guitars nestled in the belly between the wheels, waiting their turn for the next show.


this is my little "almost famous" pipe dream.


"would that those days but come again....and they will. they will. but not for me."

-- robert hunter



this is what i need to make peace with, i think.





2.26.2004

they say it's your birthday...

now playing: aunt pat, "saddest cowgirl"


today is my mom's sixty-first birthday. happy birthday, mom.


it's also kathy harris' birthday, but i have no idea how old she is...i think she was twenty-six in 1984, but i'm a little fuzzy on that. she was a brief, intense from my iceland days - she'd actually ended up in the psychiatric ward and was discharged from the navy before i left there...that whole situation is a book in and of itself.

it's also paul cotton's birthday today...paul is three years younger than my mom, if i recall...

i'm tired today. grand total of sleep from sunday night to now comes to around thirteen hours. i'm told this is a bad thing. my original plan was to get out of here today at a decent hour and take care of a couple of service calls so that i could be home in time for blake to come over, and to be there to supervise the final assembly of dylan's book report project (which accounts for forty percent of his grade in mrs. mountain's class), but my officemate bailed on me again today, so i have to stay and take care of her work for the second time this week.

there does come a time when the extra money doesn't justify the obstacle that the extra hours present. this would be one of those times.




2.25.2004

did i really say months? musta been a typo...

now playing: polar creep, "say hey"


wanna know how long our boys are gonna be in Iraq? Just ask original Iraq pointman Jay Garner:

Former Iraq Administrator sees decades-long US military presence


i especially like the part about the Guard troops "voting with their feet"....





terminal

now playing: jackson browne, "something fine"


i remember very well the first time i heard that song - i had bought the first jackson album and "late for the sky" (on vinyl, no less) at a record store in keflavik, iceland when i lived there in 1984/1985. it was the perfect time in my life to have discovered those two records.

"you said 'morocco', and you made me smile
and it hasn't been that easy for a long, long while
and looking back into your eyes i saw them really shine
giving me a taste of something fine..."


this song used to remind me of the time when i'd first arrived in wales and spent all my days in my makeshift studio, writing and recording songs (of which this was one). now, though, when i hear it i think of william miller and penny lane on the stillwater tour bus, talking about how they'd be completely different people and wear completely different clothes...there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that this song factored into those parts of the script.

i don't know if i've ever been as prolific a writer as i was back then, but it was all garbage. it took a lot of lemon squeezing before i found my legs as a songwriter. thank God that i wasn't aware at the time how much those songs sucked ass - if i'd known, i'd have quit...and the most important thing that a writer posesses before he finds his voice is his drive to create.

the kids and i backed into a conversation about songwriting last night - dylan wants to enter this contest that he saw on vh-1, and he's feeling the need to write a song to submit. shady motivation to write, if you ask me, but he didn't ask me. well, he did, actually...

"daaaaad....how do you write a song?"

i think i'd be more prepared for the "other" talk, actually...

but, we went into it a bit...i think jayda "gets" it. but then again, jayda was writing songs when she was seven. i remember not long after we'd moved into the apartment overlooking 5th street, we were listening to music one night and she asked me to play the song that had just played again - dan fogelberg's "to the morning" - and she wrote lyrics to a passage that repeats in that song a number of times and sang it to me.

seven.

anyway, i told dylan that - for me - songs typically germinated from one of two things. usually, it would be either a musical phrase or a riff that felt like it was worth expanding on, or it would be an actual lyric phrase - something that occured to me, or something that i overheard somewhere - that i felt belonged in a song. as often as not, though, you write a song out of nothing - you're feeling the urge to be creative, and you want to open the channel. when that's the case, the best thing you can do is sit down with your instrument and just start playing. you don't even have to play anything in particular - in fact, i think it's best to avoid playing anything specific - just play chords or riffs until something presents itself to you. sometimes something will come to you, sometimes it won't...in fact, mary chapin carpenter said something once in an interview that lifted a huge weight from my shoulders...she said that it's possible to beat one's creative self into a pulp by trying to force ourselves to wring something out of ourselves when the channel isn't open, and that there is no shame or failure in washing the car instead of writing a song if there's no song to write that day. i think that's a lesson that a lot of my kind refuse to learn.

anyway, i said to him that if you sit down with your guitar and you happen to find a series of notes or chords that resonate, that presents some kind of potential, then the next thing you should do is find out if there's something singable that goes along with it...and usually, my method of doing that would just be to sing nonsensical syllables over it to "feel it out" for a possible vocal melody. (in fact, i have many, many minicassettes lying about of me doing just that...i probably should set a match to them...)

so he sat there, on the sofa, playing a I - V - IV - relative minor progression for a while, until jayda pointed out that "that's already a song." dylan says, "yeah, but i'm gonna change it a little."

as it was starting to get late, though, i had to send them both up to bed. jayda went first, but she was followed in pretty short order by dylan. i turned out the lights in the living room and went upstairs to the bathroom and could hear dylan through the wall, "guitarring" with his voice and alternately humming and making drum sounds in between his little vocal riff.



i think he may be terminal.





2.24.2004

glad...i guess...

now playing: crosby, stills, nash and young, "tell me why" (the bootleg version)


yeah, it's a mellow afternoon.

yesterday, at this time, i was in the bleachers at southwest middle school losin' my friggin' mind. now, if you've read the posts from days before, you know that jayda's basketball tournament was this past saturday, and they made an amazing showing for a team that has been losing consistently all season long by a point ratio of two to one.

yesterday, they played their last game of the season against the tournament champs.

i had barely gotten into my seat before they'd opened up a 6-0 lead against northwest middle school, and they kept them within four points of them for the entire game. the lead went back and forth a couple of times, but it was never out of either teams' reach. with less than a minute left in regulation, the score was tied, 25-25. the officials set the clock for a two minute overtime and they took the ball out and the clock started...again, the score teetered back and forth for what seemed like an eternity, and northwest was ahead with less than a minute on the clock when jasmine dropped one to tie it up again, where it stayed as time ran out on the first overtime.

so, again, they set the clock for two minutes.

jayda's team came out with the first basket, but southwest crept ahead by a point going into the last minute of the game...then, with less than 20 seconds on the clock, one of the opposing girls drew a foul as she was driving for the basket, and sank two free throws, bringing the score to 30-27.

they got the ball back and immediately started driving for their end of the court, but there was more court than clock, and they lost the game.

but i don't think it was lost on anyone on that team what a turnaround they made in just the last week or so...after losing that heartbreaker to southern just last week, they seem to have found something in themselves in the time since.

in all seriousness, i don't think i've ever experienced that much tension during any sporting event in my life, save for maybe the 2001 patriots postseason. i was screaming my fool head off...which turned out not to be a good thing later on, when i was trying to pull my singing voice outta my ass for the grape street swan song.

i had almost talked myself out of going before i ever left, because i was just plain friggin' tired. but went i did...

first person i saw when i got there, walking up the empty street, was lee schusterman standing on the sidewalk out front. i introduced lee to wendy and we went inside.

the place looks pretty much like it always has in most ways. the mural is gone from the wall behind the stage, and the lights and backline are nicer, but it's the same shithole it's always been...i went upstairs to the bathroom to find the toilet filled all the way to the rim, and not appearing outwardly flushable (the porcelain cover on the back looked like it had been sledgehammered) - i couldn't help smiling. the upstairs had gone largely back to looking like a deserted city apartment...empty rooms with beer-soaked carpet and no furniture (there used to be all sorts of easy chairs and such up there, and it was open, but not to the public - if you get my drift...but later they opened the doors to the general populace and put a bar and a makeshift stage up there.).

after lee, i ran into mike lightkep, the soundman - he gave us a rundown of the new place, and the hassles they'd encountered in getting the place up to code and pacifying a hostile community group...then i turned around and there stood tom del colle (the only real reason i entertained the thought of going in the first place).

tom and i caught up - he bought wendy and i a round of drinks and brought us up to date on how things had been at superior pasta (his place on rittenhouse square in the city) - he and marilyn finally got married after living together since harry truman was president (exaggerated only slightly) and they'd gone to amsterdam. he brought me up to date on some of the faces who didn't show up, as well...garry lee chief among them. apparently dave ringler from isle of q has fallen off the edge, too...although no one was forthcoming with any actual details...

but, not long after tom showed up, everyone started showing up - jake carlin, the original grape bartender and first guitarist with june rich...the guys from four way street - jim boggia, ben arnold, joseph parsons, and scott bricklin...jack faulkner was there, kevin hanson from the late, lamented huffamoose, bruce reinfeld of polar creep (another band i used to be in for a while) - plus a veritable assload of people i never saw before in my life. conspicuous in their absence, as far as i was concerned, were garry lee, ray naylor, steven wellner, matt sevier, derek dorsey, nik everett...and more that i'm sure i'm missing....


i left with a good feeling, and was glad that i went. it was probably as close to a high school reunion as i'll ever get, but without the hangups that accompany that era of your life. it was nostalgia, but it was good nostalgia...no awful flashbacks of the time you tripped in the cafeteria and fell face first on your lunchtray and wore salisbury steak to all your afternoon classes.


glad i went.

glad i played.

glad it's over.




you're pulling my leg, right?

now playing: gordon lightfoot, "summer side of life"


from a cnn article i saw this morning (with some personal thoughts interspersed):

"So far, all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger," Bush said. "Anger is not an agenda for the future of America. We are taking on big issues with strength and resolve and determination -- and we stand ready to lead this nation another four years."

of course we're angry. anger is a legitimate reaction to having been wronged. i love this - the opposition is chastized for being soft when they don't react, and labelled as hotheads when they do. wtf?

Bush, who has been the focus of sustained Democratic criticism for months, described Democrats as favoring higher taxes and more bureaucracy -- common GOP themes.

"It's that same old Washington mind-set -- they'll give the orders and you'll pay the bills," Bush said.

hey, folks - don't look now, but the cost of operating the fucking government doesn't change as a result of the incumbent party. you've gotten a couple of bribes passing as tax cuts over the past couple of years, sure...and didja happen to notice that our operating budget went from a surplus to the largest deficit in history?

pardon me, you dumb motherfucker - but it's "that same old washington mindset" right now...you're giving the orders, and putting it on the national credit card, and we - and our children and their children - will be paying the bills.


this is why i'm not running for president...they called howard dean angry - i'd make dean look like the pope on the Angry White Man scale.

the thing that really chafes my ass, though, is that people fall for this shit.


i just had to pass that along...i want to tell you all about last night, but it's early and i have fires to put out.




2.23.2004

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

now playing: jackson browne, "hold out"


it probably goes without saying that, based on the amount of sleep i've gotten overnight, that i'm already thinking about bagging the grape street thing tonight, but i know i'll go through with it, when it comes down to it. i may be making an early exit, though.

my son has struck again...last night, before i left to come in, i told him that he should go downstairs and take the laundry from the washer and put it in the dryer...and apparently, this is exactly what he did - this and nothing more. he didn't bother to turn the dryer on, so the clothing was still there, in its dripping wet splendor, when jayda went down to put her own clothes in.

she called me at work to tell me this, and i just had to laugh. i wanted to be pissed, but i couldn't...what a wimp i am.

boy, could i use a nap....







2.22.2004

another personal historic landmark falls by the wayside

now playing: dan fogelberg, "to the morning"


tonight finds me at work, trying to piece together some semblance of reason and functionality from the shards and pieces of a hopelessly obsolete backup system that doesn't play well with others...and of course, the responsibility for doing so seems to come to rest on my shoulders, somehow. not sure how this keeps happening, but it keeps happening.

i put this off until the last possible hour, as i had the kids this weekend, and didn't want to waste an excessive amount of their time here at work. it was a good weekend for kid time - jayda's basketball tournament was first thing on saturday, and they played better than they have all season. they came in third, and came within three points of playing for the championship - the team that they lost to (27-24), played the team that won to within two points at the final buzzer of the last game, and jayda's team missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would've tied the game.

i spent a whole lot of time on the edge of my seat, to say the least.

jayda's team plays their final game of the season tomorrow, against the team that won the championship - and if they play the way they did on saturday, they stand to win. i think they needed saturday to pull their spirits up.

saturday night, after a series of naps, we all convened downstairs to watch movies together, which we almost never do, and it felt good to have everyone in the same room, in each others' company. this doesn't often happen at my house, and it was good to have nothing else to do for once.

but the phone rang saturday night any number of times - one of the calls was scooter, the booking agent for the grape street pub in philadelphia, where i used to host songwriters' nights ages ago. certainly, if i made a list of everyone i'd potentially get a phone call from, he'd be in the bottom five - but i digress.

apparently, "the grape" is closing its doors, and they're having the last ever monday night songwriters' night tomorrow night, and he asked if i'd consider coming down and playing a short set....i said yes, although i've been having some second thoughts in the time since, but it should be ok. i don't know if i'm prepared for a nostalgia-fest with this particular group of people.

during the years when my musical career held promise, i used to host the songwriters' night there - it was during a period (1994-1997 or so) when the philadelphia music scene was vibrant...when there were bands that were being scouted by labels and there were articles in the philadelphia inquirer and billboard about the scene and the bands in it - personally had a review of my album in a couple of prominent magazines...and it felt like something was happening. it was, to me, the equivalent of what it must have been like in the early seventies in LA at places like the Troubadour, when people like jackson browne and glenn frey and don henley and dan fogelberg used to show up for "hoots" and play on each other's demos...before everyone had record deals and were too cool to hang out anymore.

it might seem like an exaggeration to compare "the grape" to that period of time, but i doubt anyone else who was there would say so.

we used to close the doors at 1 AM, and then the actual party started. we'd fall into these little impromptu jam sessions that would go on into all hours of the night. during that time, there were many nights when i wouldn't leave for home until 4 AM. some nights, we'd actually shut down the stage and sit on the bar and play, while "uncle tom" del colle tended bar for those of us who stuck around. tom was the soul of that place as much as anyone was.

it didn't occur to me to ask if he'd be there when scooter called.

later on, as the scene degenerated into an atrophied, stagnant version of its former self, the grape would become my own personal "groundhog day" - every time i'd go there, the same people would be standing in the same place, talking to the same people about the same people as the last time i was there. at one point, i was relieved of my duties hosting monday nights - they didn't have the guts to tell me themselves, i had to hear it from garry lee in the lobby of a hotel in memphis, tennessee during the folk alliance conference. they asked me back a few months later, but it was never the same as it was the first round, and i eventually found my way back outside, and never really went back - i was there a handful of times since, the most recent being about three years ago for a gig with my friend charlie degenhart.

as has been said many times, you can't go back home again.

i wrote a song, a long time ago, called "uncle tom's cafe" that i might have to dig out when i get home and re-learn for tomorrow night. it'd be a fitting epitaph, i think.

so, if you're not doing anything monday night, come out and help us say goodbye.



for me, the grape closed a long time ago.



down here beneath the big steel track
the breeze hangs in the air
in a little while, the sky turns black
tonight we'll all end up down there

the lights go up and the songs begin
the music plays and your friends file in
and everything's just the way it's been

it's just another day
that we'll all get up and play
at uncle tom's cafe

there are faces painted on the wall
people circled 'round the bar
you hear the rumors rise and fall
it reminds you where you are

the conversations that the song withstands
you watch your heroes slipping through your hands
say goodbye to your best laid plans

too soon they fade away
but you might find them here someday
at uncle tom's cafe

you used to waste away these nights tossing dreams into the wind
now all the time you spent down here - it means nothing in the end

the nights are falling early now
the winds' picked up a chill
we all must walk upon this wire
we all end up where we will

now the music's playing just like before
but your friends don't come around no more
you wonder just what you do this for

you never thought you'd see the day
but all good things go the way
of uncle tom's cafe

you know, these moments fade away
but we might find them here someday
and we can all get up and play
at uncle tom's cafe


uncle tom's cafe by tom hampton, 12/19/95






2.19.2004

henley speaks

now playing: stevie nicks, "gate and garden"


none of this is news, really, but here for your review (courtesy of the washington post):

Killing the Music


By Don Henley

Tuesday, February 17, 2004; Page A19


When I started in the music business, music was important and vital to our culture. Artists connected with their fans. Record labels signed cutting-edge artists, and FM radio offered an incredible variety of music. Music touched fans in a unique and personal way. Our culture was enriched and the music business was healthy and strong.

That's all changed.

Today the music business is in crisis. Sales have decreased between 20 and 30 percent over the past three years. Record labels are suing children for using unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing systems. Only a few artists ever hear their music on the radio, yet radio networks are battling Congress over ownership restrictions. Independent music stores are closing at an unprecedented pace. And the artists seem to be at odds with just about everyone -- even the fans.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the root problem is not the artists, the fans or even new Internet technology. The problem is the music industry itself. It's systemic. The industry, which was once composed of hundreds of big and small record labels, is now controlled by just a handful of unregulated, multinational corporations determined to continue their mad rush toward further consolidation and merger. Sony and BMG announced their agreement to merge in November, and EMI and Time Warner may not be far behind. The industry may soon be dominated by only three multinational corporations.

The executives who run these corporations believe that music is solely a commodity. Unlike their predecessors, they fail to recognize that music is as much a vital art form and social barometer as it is a way to make a profit. At one time artists actually developed meaningful, even if strained, relationships with their record labels. This was possible because labels were relatively small and accessible, and they had an incentive to join with the artists in marketing their music. Today such a relationship is practically impossible for most artists.

Labels no longer take risks by signing unique and important new artists, nor do they become partners with artists in the creation and promotion of the music. After the music is created, the artist's connection with it is minimized and in some instances is nonexistent. In their world, music is generic. A major record label president confirmed this recently when he referred to artists as "content providers." Would a major label sign Johnny Cash today? I doubt it.

Radio stations used to be local and diverse. Deejays programmed their own shows and developed close relationships with artists. Today radio stations are centrally programmed by their corporate owners, and airplay is essentially bought rather than earned. The floodgates have opened for corporations to buy an almost unlimited number of radio stations, as well as concert venues and agencies. The delicate balance between artists and radio networks has been dramatically altered; networks can now, and often do, exert unprecedented pressure on artists. Whatever connection the artists had with their music on the airwaves is almost totally gone.

Music stores used to be magical places offering wide variety. Today the three largest music retailers are Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target. In those stores shelf space is limited, making it harder for new artists to emerge. Even established artists are troubled by stores using music as a loss leader. Smaller, more personalized record stores are closing all over the country -- some because of rampant P2P piracy but many others because of competition from department stores that traditionally have no connection whatsoever with artists.

Piracy is perhaps the most emotionally gut-wrenching problem facing artists. Artists like the idea of a new and better business model for the industry, but they cannot accept a business model that uses their music without authority or compensation. Suing kids is not what artists want, but many of them feel betrayed by fans who claim to love artists but still want their music free.

The music industry must also take a large amount of blame for this piracy. Not only did the industry not address the issue sooner, it provided the P2P users with a convenient scapegoat. Many kids rationalize their P2P habit by pointing out that only record labels are hurt -- that the labels don't pay the artists anyway. This is clearly wrong, because artists are at the bottom of the food chain. They are the ones hit hardest when sales take a nosedive and when the labels cut back on promotion, on signing new artists and on keeping artists with potential. Artists are clearly affected, yet because many perceive the music business as being dominated by rich multinational corporations, the pain felt by the artist has no public face.

Artists are finally realizing their predicament is no different from that of any other group with common economic and political interests. They can no longer just hope for change; they must fight for it. Washington is where artists must go to plead their case and find answers.

So whether they are fighting against media and radio consolidation, fighting for fair recording contracts and corporate responsibility, or demanding that labels treat artists as partners and not as employees, the core message is the same: The artist must be allowed to join with the labels and must be treated in a fair and respectful manner. If the labels are not willing to voluntarily implement these changes, then the artists have no choice but to seek legislative and judicial solutions. Simply put, artists must regain control, as much as possible, over their music.



The writer is a singer and drummer with the Eagles and a founding member of the Recording Artists' Coalition.

---------------------------------------------

talk about "careful what you wish for"...i've got plenty to say about this...but it's gonna wait until later today, after i've gotten my customary 4 hours of sleep.


'til then....




eavesdropping at the farmers' market

now playing: jackson browne, "in the shape of a heart"

farmers' markets vary drastically from place to place, i've found.

on opposite ends of the spectrum are the manayunk farmer's market, situated on main street in manayunk (a suburb of philadelphia), and the leesport farmer's market, situated less than a mile from where i work.

manayunk is a trendy spot, with a main drag lined with boutique shoppes and stuffy, pretentious restaurants like sonoma and the like. a farmer's market in manayunk bears all the authenticity of the salvation army store on rodeo drive in beverly hills...it's lined with stands that are essentially outposts of area shoppes and the like, although i had the best meatloaf there i've ever had during the making of mutual angels back in '96, and only cracker barrel is close, thus far. but - once again - i digress.

the leesport farmers market is what a farmer's market is supposed to be - home grown fruits and vegetables and the like sold by those what grew 'em, as well as a huge outdoor flea-market area and tons of vendors hawking everything from cheap hand tools to tube socks. we're lucky enough in my area to have two such places - nearby ephrata sports the green dragon market (which i was equally surprised to find on the 'net).

leesport is the prototypical small town, although the seeds of development are starting to whittle away at it - there are a couple of factories there, one of which i report to every day as one third of the IT department. wednesdays are Leesport Market Days, and on occasion, when i've tired of Subway and driving all the way back to reading for chinese food and still feel like punishing redner's market for changing their soup, i'll go to the farmer's market and mill about for a while in lieu of the mcdonalds dollar menu.

it's an interesting hang, to say the least - mostly populated with northern berks county residents, rural folks, mennonites and the occasional amish renegade or two. probably the last place you'd expect to overhear an anti-war conversation.

i've been going a little more often than usual, hoping to encounter the guy who sold me a handful of pocket tees that i've grown quite fond of, but i haven't caught him there yet. it is, of course, just a matter of time, but during my most recent wednesday visit, i was ambling through one of the buildings and overheard an older gentleman who was manning one of the stands say to another gentleman standing across from him, "you don't buy into that crap on the news, do you?"

my eavesdropping radar went off and i pretended to be completely enthralled by one of the NASCAR collectibles on the table next to his booth. his tirade went on - he said (quotes are approximated), "does it seem to you like catching him has calmed things down at all? people are dying there now, just like they were before they caught him! and yeah, nobody loved this guy, but my grandson doesn't deserve to die over there so that we can hand out money to companies that most of us don't even know about and to make that assholes' buddies rich!" he went on to talk about how he lived through korea and vietnam and that this is the sorriest excuse for a war he's been witness to his whole life, and how he found it interesting that the president who assembled all the reservists and guardsmen to send them into the desert was the same president who slashed billions of dollars from veterans benefits and couldn't be bothered to complete the service that he slid into by way of privelege during vietnam.

i had to move on at about this time, because the NASCAR collectibles guy was asking me if i wanted a deal on the Dale Earnhardt Jr model car i'd been staring at...and frankly, i'd rather eat broken glass.

not a race fan, you say? very astute of you.

the thing that struck me, though, was that this guy bore no resemblance to what i seem to personify to the right - a discontent, left-wing semi-radical liberal. this was a guy in his sixties who'd been a veteran, who had a grandson in Iraq right now and was forced to look at the harsh realities of why we're actually there, and who didn't seem to buy into what washington is trying to sell him.

that guy at the farmer's market, governor bush, is the guy who will vote you out of office this year.

-------------------------------------------------------


you know, i seem to recall starting this blog to talk about music. i do seem to have a vague recollection of that kinda being the point of the whole thing.

i've never been much of an activist - never was this motivated, where politics were concerned. and i'm betting that i'm not the only one outraged by what's going on in our government right now.

but i do want to get back to discussions concerning music...

...once i calm down.



2.18.2004

choice or necessity

now playing: the innocence mission, "a little rain"


i usually prefer to steer clear of the more mainstream media pieces, where reprints are concerned, but this one was a little too good to pass up:



Why the "War President" Is Under Fire
Bush's anti-terror policies are dangerously simple

By JOE KLEIN


"That's an interesting question," the President said, having been asked on Meet the Press whether Iraq was a war of choice or of necessity. "Please elaborate on that a little bit. A war of choice or necessity?" It was as if George W. Bush had never considered this most basic of questions. He seemed befuddled, then slowly found his legs. "I mean, it's a war of necessity. In my judgment, we had no choice when we look at the intelligence I looked at that says the man was a threat."

An awkward moment in a suddenly wobbly presidency. Obviously, Iraq was a war of choice. CIA Director George Tenet recently said he never believed there was an "imminent" threat. It is hard to find anyone outside the Vice President's circle of friends who still insists that an immediate, unilateral invasion was necessary. The real question for this election year is, Was going to war in Iraq the right choice in the larger struggle against radical Islam? Saddam Hussein is in jail. There may have been ancillary benefits from the American show of force: Libya has given up its nuclear ambitions; Iran may, or may not, be doing the same. But the situation on the ground in Iraq remains chaotic. The possibility of a Sunni-Shi'a civil war, which could destabilize the entire gulf region, is growing. The U.S. Army is pinned down; morale and re-enlistment problems, especially among the Guard and reserves, are looming. Worse, there is a strong sense in the highest reaches of the intelligence community that the larger campaign against terrorism—a true war of necessity—has been retarded by the Iraq adventure, that "our actions in Iraq have caused a net increase in terrorists," as an intelligence gatherer told me. "We've gotten better at finding and killing them. But there are a lot more Islamic young people with a desire to fight us."

At the very start of his Meet the Press interview, Bush said, "I'm a war President." Winning the "war" that he declared has been this President's stated mission, and it is how he will be judged. From the days immediately following Sept. 11, the rhetoric has been stark and bellicose. "You're either with us or against us," he warned early on. Any country that "harbors or supports terrorism will be regarded as a hostile regime." But Bush's actions, except for Iraq, haven't matched the dire nature of the threat described—and his rhetoric has betrayed a moral simplicity that misrepresents the true difficulties of the struggle. Take the "with us or against us" point: Saudi Arabia is the primary funder of Islamic radicalism in the world. Pakistan is the primary residence of the most dangerous terrorists. Both are nominally "with" us.

The Saudis represent a particularly serious problem. Bush hasn't had very much to say about them. Indeed, the Bush and the al-Saud families have a long history of personal friendship and business dealings—and this relationship may soon become an issue in the presidential election. "Bush has not only been passive regarding the Saudis," says Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "He has covered up for them." Graham is infuriated by Bush's refusal to release 21 pages of the Senate's investigation into the 9/11 attacks—allegedly the section dealing with Saudi involvement—and by the Administration's reluctance to cooperate with the independent 9/11 commission. "I think we'll eventually find that people who had positions of responsibility in the Saudi government were facilitating the funding of some, if not all, of the hijackers," he says.

For the past quarter-century, the Saudis have financed jihadist movements and radical schools throughout the Islamic world. They have changed the very nature of Islamic practice—making it less tolerant—in formerly moderate countries like Pakistan. The recent discovery that a Pakistani ring supplied some of the world's worst governments with nuclear technology only served to emphasize the contradictory nature of our "friendship" with that fragile country. "It's true the Pakistanis have helped us to capture some of the leading al-Qaeda figures," says Jessica Stern of Harvard, a terrorism expert. "But you also have to wonder: Why do we find them all in Pakistan?"

President Bush once famously told Senator Joe Biden, "I don't do nuance." But the struggle against Islamic radicalism is a festival of nuance. It is not quite a war, and it doesn't yield easily to simple notions of good and evil, friend and foe. We need the limited cooperation we get from the Pakistanis, and we certainly need Saudi oil. Even those, like Graham, who see the Saudis as the root of the problem, are calling for little more than a public statement of the facts—in the hope that the Saudis will be shamed into modifying their dreadful behavior. Bush has called for even less. His war of choice has featured lots of bombs and boots, lots of highfalutin moral rhetoric and patriotic visuals, but absolutely no public sacrifice—no steps to make America less dependent on Saudi oil; not even the taxes needed to pay for the occupation of Iraq. He is having trouble defending his dangerously simple policies, for good reason.




2.17.2004

i got you...and that's all i want....

now playing: john stewart, "lost her in the sun"

(no, no the daily show jon stewart, the other john stewart...this john stewart.)


mornin', folks...i updated the right side of the page with some new links, and culled out some of the old ones - change is good.

didn't get home from work last night until around 9pm - we're entering another one of those periods, it seems. here i thought i was coming out of one of those periods. but, anyway, i managed to do my laundry and wrangle something to eat - i was going to do dishes, but they haven't reached demanding proportions yet...i did some photo editing for blake's upcoming website launch with the TV running in the background before calling it a night around 1am.


today i think i got some insight into why it is that julia cameron advocates "morning pages" (as she calls them) for their particular brand of clarity...i woke up this morning and thought of a philadelphia-area artist manager that i haven't seen in at least five or six years. i don't know if he's still in the business or not, but the one thing about him i remember is that he used to call everyone he met "rock star". i'd venture that he even called his mother and his kids "rock star". he was something of a cross between Newman and Costanza - quite a character. and i have no idea whatsoever why i thought of this guy this morning when i woke up.

my hair, man...i'm needin' a trim. i've been letting it grow since before thanksgiving, and it's been interesting, to say the least. i'm not even sure why, to be honest, but i'm trying to stick it out to see what i look like this way. i'm way past the point where it could be mistaken for a mullet, thankfully - i've gone through the kenny rogers phase and am coming out on the other side of the grizzly adams phase now...and looking forward to warmer, i-can-shave-the-beard-now weather. however, the need to crop off the split ends is becoming glaringly apparent.

split ends...

immediately, the brain hits me with "i don't know why sometimes i get frightened...."


man....do i have so little to talk about today that this has floated to the top?


sheesh. sorry, man.




a victory for moveon.org

excerpted and reprinted from the most recent moveon.org bulletin:


...MoveOn is now over two million people strong in the United States. That's a huge number: the organization we've built together is bigger than the Christian Coalition at its peak. To put it another way, one in every 146 Americans is now a MoveOn member...

...on Friday, we finished our $10 million Voter Fund grassroots fundraising campaign without a dime from corporations or special interests. In the end, over 170,000 people opened their checkbooks and contributed an average of about $60 to put ads on the air that challenge Bush and his corporate backers. The impact of this campaign shouldn't be underestimated: it clearly demonstrates that real people still matter in American politics. And the folks in Washington know it.

Political giving is almost always a quid-pro-quo business: corporate lobbyists trade money for policy, the wealthy trade money for access to politicians. MoveOn members aren't asking for anything but their democracy back, and that kind of generosity is pretty rare. When we hear about the families who saved up to make a $25 donation, or think of the thousands of folks who mailed in $5 checks, we know this is something amazing and new that we're a part of.

And money's only part of the equation: our phone calls and emails helped win a real victory last week. After CBS rejected our Voter Fund's Super Bowl ad, we learned that the White House was being allowed to air an advocacy ad about Medicare. We told you about it, and in just a few days over 50,000 MoveOn members called and emailed to complain. On Friday, CBS pulled the ad, stating that it had violated their policy. It's a big win, and a powerful blow to the Bush Administration's campaign to cover up its Medicare sellout.

...President Bush told us he was a uniter, and he was right: he's uniting people across America to fight back for our country.

end excerpt



so if you see me smiling today, this is part of the reason why.





the more things change...

a great article, lifted from alternet, who syndicated it from tompaine.com:

Nixon's Children

By Stephen Pizzo, TomPaine.com
February 12, 2004


Here's a trivia question of no small consequence. When, about what event and by whom was the following statement made?



But out of the gobbledygook, comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment; and the – the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it's wrong, and the president can be wrong.



You could be excused if you said it was George W. Bush complaining about the recent revelations by WMD inspector David Kay, but you would be wrong. Actually, former President Richard M. Nixon heard those fateful words during a meeting in the Oval Office with aide H.R. Halderman, who uttered them. The date was June 14, 1971 and Nixon was obsessing over the publication a day earlier of the Pentagon Papers in The Washington Post.


I came across this remarkable quote quite by accident while doing research the other day. At first it simply struck me as ironic that three decades later another sitting president's pronouncements about the reasons and objectives for war had been publicly revealed to be false.


But then I realized that there might be something even more significant in this train of thought. Those closest to George W. Bush – notably Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld – learned some valuable lessons from the Nixon presidency and the events that led to its downfall.


After Nixon was forced from office, Cheney became White House chief of staff for Gerald Ford. It was during that job that Cheney first showed he had learned much from his former boss's downfall. While chief of staff for Ford, Cheney earned the code name "Backseat," a reflection of his insistence that his work remain behind the scenes and out of the public spotlight. Rumsfeld resigned his congressional seat to join the Nixon administration in 1969 as an advisor on domestic policy.


Both Cheney and Rumsfeld had front-row seats from which to watch the self-destruction of the Nixon presidency. Finding themselves in power again, both men well understood that it was not what Nixon and his cronies did that got them thrown out of office, but the evidence of what they did – the tapes, the memos, the testimony.


Lesson learned: So when Vice President Dick Cheney formed his Energy Task Force he made certain that its members – nearly all of whom hailed from big energy companies, including Enron – would remain secret as would the advice they provided. When the General Accounting Office demanded the information they were told to mind their own business. Three years and several court challenges later it remains secret.


Back in 1971, when former RAND researcher Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, Nixon tried to close the barn door by having then-Attorney General John Mitchell threaten The New York Times and The Washington Post with prosecution if they published any more from the once secret report. Of course, that didn't work and two weeks later the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against the administration anyway.


Lesson learned: Once information gets loose it's too late. To make sure nothing like happens to this administration the whole operation has been virtually hermetically sealed. The power to classify information as Secret and Top Secret was expanded to every nook and cranny, including Agriculture and the EPA. Even within the Bush administration itself, information has become available strictly on a "need to know" basis. There would be no Daniel Ellsbergs leaving this administration with anything sensitive but what was in their heads – and therefore deniable.


After failing to stop further publication of the Pentagon Papers – which for those too young to remember, put the entire basis for and execution of the Vietnam War in doubt – Nixon's first instinct was to kill the messenger by turning one of the war's chief architects, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, loose on Ellsberg. Kissinger started spreading the word that Ellsberg had shot at peasants from helicopters while in Vietnam and, furthermore, that Ellsberg was gay. When neither rumor stuck Nixon went looking for real dirt, organizing a break-in at the offices of Ellsberg's psychiatrist.


When the White House came under suspicion, Nixon complained to his press secretary. Ron Ziegler, "Goddamn to hell, I didn't tell them to go fuck up the goddamn Ellsberg place."


Lesson NOT learned: The Bush administration had its own Ellsberg on its hands this year when former ambassador Joe Wilson publicly contradicted the Bush administration's oft-stated claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger. The White House response was a ham-handed attempt to discredit Wilson by leaking to the press that Wilson's wife was a covert CIA agent who operated overseas undercover as an energy analyst.


Inevitably the smear blew back on the Bush White House, just as the Ellsberg break-in had, and now the administration is stuck with an investigation into just who leaked the story. It is illegal to reveal the identity of covert CIA operatives – for obvious, and often deadly, reasons.


Lesson learned: But when it comes to digging up sensitive information, this administration did learn at least one important lesson from the Ellsberg case: If you are going to break into someone's private life, make it legal to do so first.


In the wake of 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft spearheaded the administration's push to enact a bundle of new laws that came to pass in the form of the USA PATRIOT Act. The legislation greatly expanded the power of the FBI and CIA. Among the powers extended was the right to break into a person's home or office without a warrant or what the courts had up to now painstakingly defined as "reasonable cause" The FBI, citing Section 215 of the Patriot Act, can now demand "any tangible thing," including books, letters, diaries, library records, medical and psychiatric records. Had the Patriot Act been in force in 1973, Nixon might well have obtained Ellsberg's psychiatric records legally by simply citing national security.


And that brings us back to the here and now and one final lesson from the Nixon days that manifested itself in Senate testimony. When David Kay testified before the Senate in January, disclosing for the first time that there are not now, nor were they before the war, any significant weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Kay went out of his way to exonerate the president and those closest to him. Instead Kay shifted the discussion to failures of "the intelligence community," describing the president as a victim of bad intelligence. Kay, no stranger to the palace politics of Washington and the hardball tactics of the current administration, was anxious to tell the truth, but equally anxious not to end up like Joe Wilson – or Daniel Ellsberg.


Lesson learned.


Stephen Pizzo is a journalist who lives in Sebastapol, California.




2.16.2004

i swear i'm not making this up....

now playing: neil diamond, "love on the rocks"


courtesy of south knox bubba, a presidential brag sheet worthy of a miserable failure.

he also had the balls to declare that democrats "would endanger america's fiscal health".

you have got to be fuckin' kidding me.

this, directly from the mouth of the man responsible for the largest budget deficit in the history of our nation.

absolutely unreal.




doubled over in presidential agony

now playing: robert palmer, "every kinda people"


a snippet from a just-published interview with the legendary al kooper:


If you could see one person get hit in the nuts with a Hammond B-3, who would it be?

I would say George W. Bush but I wouldn’t want to get the B-3 dirty.


(for the full interview, click here.)

speaking of Hammond B3 players, stone road said goodbye to ours this weekend. i'd like to say it was a great show, augmented by a great deal of sentimentality, et cetera, but quin was far from turning in his best performance. i was reminded on saturday that quin definitely exercised a "home field" mentality at certain venues...meaning that he didn't feel particularly inclined to restrain any impulses he might've had towards drinking a bit more than he should. his performance has suffered on occasion in the past from this, and it certainly suffered on saturday night as a result. i sure do wish he'd chosen to go out on a better note.

looks like my hometown got a pretty severe weather beating over the weekend. i grew up in hardin county, and don't remember ever seeing this kind of snow as a kid.





2.14.2004

got milk?

now playing: vh1 classic


it's occuring to me that it's probably relatively easy to discern which of my posts come from home and which ones come from work based on the contents of the "now playing" line - since it's most often a tv show when i'm at home and music when i'm at work. this illustrates, for me, how seldom it is that i listen to music when i'm at home.

kinda disturbing.

saw an amazing movie last night - amazing in that it was a great movie, and amazing in that i actually had time to go to the theatre and sit down and watch a movie without having someplace that i needed to be or someone that i was blowing off someone to make time for myself.

anyway, i can't imagine there are too many people who want to see this that havent' somehow done so already, but - just in case - lost in translation - if you haven't seen it, check it out at some point. in my usual, finger-on-the-pulse-of-pop-culture manner, i may be the last person on the planet to have known about this film in the first place...and i saw bill murray's acceptance speech on the golden globes for his best actor award for the movie before i saw the movie. sheesh.

i truly am becoming an old, out of touch hippie.

however, this is why i fuckin' love vh1 classic. these are the last three videos they've played:

roxy music, more than this
REM, south central rain
throwing muses, juno

i also saw the video for rush's "vital signs" earlier, which i'd never seen before in my life. why was this cool? this was cool because i saw a crown PZM mic taped to neil peart's chest, and it struck me what a great idea that was - to actually record the kit from the drummer's seat and have a track that captures what the drummer hears to mix with the rest of the drum tracks....

...oh, did i forget to mention that it's studio footage? sorry.

anyway, i have some guitar maintenance to deal with before tonight's swan song gig that i really oughtta get on....but first, i'm gonna stroll down to the mini-mart and grab some milk. i've been craving quaker raisin, date and walnut oatmeal ever since i woke up, and i gotta make that happen. some days, i feel like i live in ice cube's house - cereal but no milk, kool aid but no sugar, ham but no burger....





2.13.2004

not-so-slim, but plenty shady

now playing: patty griffin, "you are not alone"



so i did something pretty fuckin' sneaky today.


as i mentioned in a previous post, i responded to an ad in gigfinder recently placed by a local singer-songwriter of some notoriety, whose music i've had a healthy amount of respect for. i thought it was interesting, from a timing perspective, that the ad turned up at the same time that quin was taking leave of the band...in that nice, cliched, "when God closes a door, he opens a window" kinda way. so, exactly a week ago today, i sent her an email - but not before i called a few folks and got permission to use them as references, so that she could check up on me first if she so desired.

now, obviously, i'm not gonna give her the names of references who would trash me, so i knew that if she called even one of them that i'd have gotten a glowing review. and my references kick ass - all total, there are a couple of artists i've done session work for, not one but two artist managers, and a couple of fellow musicians - one of whom is currently playing in lisa loeb's band, and the other of whom is currently writing a score for a movie called everything's jake starring ernie hudson, debbie allen, and lou rawls.

not too fuckin' shabby. i'd hire me.

however, a week went by and nothing. not a word.

now, it should warrant mentioning here, before i go too much further - three years ago, i did a co-bill with her as a member of a friends' band, and i emailed her the following week and told her that i thought she was a great writer and that if she ever needed a guitar player, i'd love to work with her - and she wrote back right away, but said that she wasn't really looking for anyone at the moment. yet, oddly enough, her band sprouted a guitar player a couple of months later. i wrote that off, though, to possibly coming across someone after the email exchange that she really felt connected to.

so, having said that, back to the present.

yesterday, i hatched a sneaky-assed plan.

i decided that when i got home from work, i was going to download an MP3 from her website and import it into my computer in my studio and edit it and create some space to add some tracks to it. i edited out the solo section and replaced it with the intro section, which was the same chord progression. made the edit, piece of cake. then i plugged in my trusty V-amp and went to work. i cut two additional guitar parts, one with fills and one with some scattered arrpegiated parts here and there. then i added a mandolin part to a couple of passages for momentum, and added a lap steel part that essentially just augments a couple of chord changes in the song in different spots.

it made a world of difference - it really gave the arrangement a shot in the arm. i was proud of myself, for the scant couple of hours i sunk into it. i dumped it onto a blank CD and brought it to work with me today to mix it.

now, up until this point, i was still planning on sending to her from my own email address with no deception whatsoever inferred. however, as i sat here working on the track, it occured to me that there's a means available to me here to find out whether or not my email was blown off.

and that has bugged me, to be perfectly honest. why would she not even bother to tell me to fuck off, with the credentials i have? what could that possibly be about?

so, i decided as i was putting the final touches on the mix that i'd do this nice and clandestine-like. i have a dead domain among the ones that i manage and i used it to construct a page with a link to download the final mp3 of her song, and added a bogus email account to it that i set up an autoforward on, so that it'd come straight to my regular email account.

i had a reply within two hours.

quoted:

i like it. sounds good. where are you located? we are looking for LOCAL folks. please send a photo with the replied email.
thanks.


so the only conclusion i can draw from all of this is that she must've gotten my original email, saw that it came from the tomhampton.com domain, and took a quick click over and decided that i was obviously waaay too hideous to appear onstage with, and didn't bother to email me back based on that. 'cuz obviously, there's no problem with the way i play.

now, at this point, i'm torn as to what i should do. there are essentially three choices that make themselves the most obvious:

1. reply to her from my own email address quoting her reply and tell her to go fuck herself because she deserves less than me, and to learn a lesson about honesty and integrity in dealing with other musicians from all of this;

2. reply to her from the bogus email address and explain that i'd sent the email from this address because i thought there was a possibility that she hadn't received my previous emails and that it was me who put the track together...and that if she's still interested, i am. (it should be noted that none of this is really true, though - although i still think that i could be a serious asset to her band); or -

3. absolutely nothing.


as you can probably judge from its placement on the list, i'm leaning pretty heavily towards number one, but i'll probably go with number three, realistically...i'm not a bridge burner, although this isn't a bridge i'll ever need to consider crossing again - considering that i've gone down this road twice now, truth be told.

what would you do in my situation? comments are most welcome....






2.12.2004

just to clear up the confusion....

now playing: little river band, "happy anniversary"


so someone mentioned something to me today about one of my favorite superbowl commercials, the "seattle 1953" commercial, featuring a young jimi hendrix spying a guitar in the window of a music store next to a pepsi machine...remember? (if not, none of what i say will probably be relevant, anyway...sorry.)

my buddy mentioned to me today that he thought it was pretty ignorant that they chose a fender telecaster as the object of jimi's affection, when his guitar of choice was always a fender stratocaster. "how could they be that historically inaccurate?", he says to me.

well, i had to gently remind him that, in 1953, there was still no such thing as a stratocaster. you see, the telecaster made its debut in 1950 as the fender broadcaster, but the gretsch company sued over the name, as they were using the same model for a line of drums they manufactured at the time - so for a short period in 1951, they were manufactured with no model name at all (thus the current day moniker "nocaster") until they were rechristened as the telecaster in early 1952. the stratocaster, by comparison, wasn't made available until 1954 - so in 1953, young jimi wouldn't have had the opportunity to choose between the two. however, according to pepsi historians, young jimi would have had to make the relatively easy choice between the guitar and the accordian...

anyway, after relaying this and other similarly relevant information (did you know that the '54 strat bearing serial number 0001 belongs to david gilmour from pink floyd?), he went back to his desk and i had the awful epiphany that i had just channeled that smug, arrogant mailman from cheers without my knowledge or consent - and i went into a brief period of self-loathing, from which i have sufficiently recovered at this point...i think...

i don't know how anyone suffers us at all, man. musicians....

in other news - please stop over at nicoles' site and take in her thoughts on the current gay union debate, if you have thoughts about the issue...i'll paraphrase my personal contribution to the debate:

"i find it incredibly entertaining, personally, that we live in a country that can become so collectively indignant over the prospect of homosexuals destroying the sanctity of the institution of marriage as they're reaching for the remote to turn on "the bachelor" or "joe millionaire" or any one of a half dozen reality TV shows that have done more to trivialize marriage than any legislation could ever hope to accomplish...

if marriage is such a sacred friggin' thing, then why make a goddamn game show out of it?"


you had to know that i'd somehow bring reality TV in close enough to get a shot in, right?

(for my longtime readers - all two of you - nicoles' saga was the inspiration for the "open letter to a stranger" post a while back...)


i have made a personal pledge to myself to learn a pretty complex passage of music for a gig this weekend, and i think tonight might be my only real shot at getting it done, but that gives me tomorrow and all day saturday to forget it, so i might leave this on the "to-do" list until saturday afternoon, so it's fresh when showtime rolls around. i've been pretty lax on my homework lately. i think, though, with quin's departure from the band, that it's gonna become incumbent on someone to breathe some life back into this thing - and this may very well fall on my shoulders. so whether there's a band in the spot where this one stood a year from now may pretty well be up to me...this is not a position i'm familiar, or comfortable, with...but i'll do what i gotta.







2.11.2004

aaaaanyway...

now playing: eastmountainsouth, "too soon"


man, oh, man....

last time i started a blog entry was the monday after the grammies, and i made a cool little list of all the winners i wanted to congratulate, complete with links embedded in the html code, the whole nine yards...and my PC froze up before i could post it, rendering it extinct.

i was pissed.

pissed enough that i didn't feel much like saying anything from here for a couple of days.

ah, well....

anyway -

i missed work yesterday altogether - ended up in bed most of the day. got up and stumbled downstairs to the living room to find an email from my boss in my inbox, notifying me that i had all of 1/4 day of time left, and that if i was finding myself becoming "burned out" that i should think about cutting back on my work hours. problem with that is that the more i work, the more there is to do -- monday night, i actually took a nap before i came back in from jayda's basketball game, and could've easily worked straight though until dawn, but i began to fade in a big way a little before 2am.

we'll probably find occasion to sit down and discuss this at some point this week, but as much as i'd love to trim my hours, i don't see it having a positive effect on our workload at the moment.

had stone road rehearsal last night, during which darryl mentioned that this weekend will be our last show with quin, period - apparently quin had made some remarks to him when they'd bumped into each other recently to that effect, along with some of his reasons for coming to that conclusion - which kinda chafed my ass a bit, since i had a very long conversation with him after he'd announced his "leave of abscence" during which he made no mention of said reasons...so i'm both a little sad and considerably pissed off, i guess.

quin was our secret weapon - the one thing we had that none of the other bands who do what we do have. he gave us an edge, and allowed us to do songs that other bands couldn't touch. i'm gonna miss that - but, knowing what i know now, i wouldn't vote to take him back if he asked to rejoin.

this proves, yet again, that being in a band with someone is very much akin to being in a romantic relationship with someone...when things go south and someone opts out of the relationship, you may eventually get back together - but things never fully go back to the way they were before things took a turn for the worse.

ah, well.

aaaaaanyway...

i caught wind of another opportunity recently, and have emailed not once, but twice (actually once to both supplied email addresses) and have heard nothing yet - five days have now passed, and i would've thought that a band with a pretty regular gig schedule would have been a little more assertive in evaluating potential replacements, but this doesn't appear to be the case - i would've expected at least a "FUVM" notice by now...

ah, well.

aaaaaannnyyyway...




2.06.2004

refrigerator poetry

now playing: blake allen, "cleaning"


the people who live in my house have....well, some issues.

dylan and jayda have obviously found themselves inspired while throwing something together in the kitchen...the once stagnant refrigerator poetry has been shuffled, and rewritten. reprinted here for your reading pleasure are some of my personal favorites, authors only slightly anonymous:



dark boy drive car to current job dancing

brother play with father and belly as feline to love the music

which home is asking all the sausages to dream soft shadowed summers

worship perfume at chocolate melon

one or three babies make smooth salt

kiss my sad sexy belly is a smooth honey naked playboy woman crapping

candy is like an almost steel picture carameling gorgeously surrounded by a brilliant ghost voice in a ugly licking center



i'm flipping rapidly in the direction of a good therapist in the yellow pages as we speak.





more news from the what the fuck? desk...

now playing: crosby, stills and nash, "helplessly hoping"


OK.

we can get over janet's nipple ring now, folks.

If you want to be pissed at CBS, be pissed at them for this:

(excerpted from an email alert sent by moveon.org)

We didn't think the hypocrisy at CBS headquarters could get any worse. But it just did.

As you know, CBS refused to run MoveOn Voter Fund's "Child's Pay" ad -- perhaps the most tasteful and uncontroversial advocacy ad in history -- during the Super Bowl. CBS executives claimed they had a blanket policy against all so-called "issue" ads.

Yesterday, we learned that the network plans to broadcast an ad promoting the Bush Medicare prescription drug law. This is part of a $13 million taxpayer-financed TV campaign to take the heat off the White House for pushing through a drug plan that benefits drug companies and insurance companies more than Medicare recipients.

The White House ad features the tagline "Same Medicare. More Benefits." But a report by Consumers Union last month said that most people covered by Medicare will wind up spending more for prescription drugs, as a result of the provisions in the law which favor drug companies. According to the Washington Post, the campaign is intended "to counteract Democratic criticism that changes to the (Medicare) program will harm older Americans."

If that isn't a controversial issue ad, we don't know what is.

There's another issue involved here that needs to be taken very seriously: if Bush's Medicare ad is intended to function as a campaign ad (and that clearly appears to be the case) then this may constitute a criminal election law violation. In fact, the ad company which made the ad which will air on CBS also works for the Bush/Cheney re-election committee. We've put in a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Health and Human Services to begin the process of establishing the facts in this case.

(end excerpt)


now, i should also point out that in light of all this, moveon.org submitted their own medicare ad which takes a more honest look at the legislation, but - oddly enough - haven't heard from CBS with regard to whether they'll run it or not.


nothin' like a healthy helping of hypocrisy for breakfast...Dubya and company are spending our taxpayer dollars, and widening the deficit as a result, in order to brainwash you and i into thinking that their medicare bill was something other than a gift to the glaxo/wellcomes and the smithklines of america.

i linked to this once before, but (with apologies to moby), reprinted for your perusal: an accounting of how the medicare legislation was shoved up our asses in the first place, by someone who was there:

HOUSE REPUBLICANS BEND THE RULES, PRESS FOR VOTES DURING WEE HOURS TO ESCAPE THE LIGHT OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Ohio Congressman Sherrod Brown


Never before has the House of Representatives operated in such secrecy:

At 2:54 a.m. on a Friday in March, the House cut veterans benefits by three votes.

At 2:39 a.m. on a Friday in April, the House slashed education and health care by five votes.

At 1:56 a.m. on a Friday in May, the House passed the Leave No Millionaire Behind tax-cut bill by a handful of votes.

At 2:33 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House passed the Medicare privatization and prescription drug bill by one vote.

At 12:57 a.m. on a Friday in July, the House eviscerated Head Start by one vote.

And then, after returning from summer recess, at 12:12 a.m. on a Friday in October, the House voted $87 billion for Iraq.

Always in the middle of the night. Always after the press had passed their deadlines. Always after the American people had turned off the news and gone to bed.

What did the public see? At best, Americans read a small story with a brief explanation of the bill and the vote count in Saturday's papers.

But what did the public miss? They didn't see the House votes, which normally take no more than 20 minutes, dragging on for as long as an hour as members of the Republican leadership trolled for enough votes to cobble together a majority.

They didn't see GOP leaders stalking the floor for whoever was not in line.
They didn't see Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay coerce enough Republican members into switching their votes to produce the desired result.

In other words, they didn't see the subversion of democracy.

And late last month, they did it again. The most sweeping changes to Medicare in its 38-year history were forced through the House at 5:55 on a Saturday morning.

The debate started at midnight. The roll call began at 3:00 a.m. Most of us voted within the typical 20 minutes. Normally, the speaker would have gaveled the vote closed. But not this time; the Republican-driven bill was losing.

By 4 a.m., the bill had been defeated 216-218, with only one member, Democrat David Wu, not voting. Still, the speaker refused to gavel the vote closed.

Then the assault began.

Hastert, DeLay, Republican Whip Roy Blount, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin - all searched the floor for stray Republicans to bully.

I watched them surround Cincinnati's Steve Chabot, trying first a carrot, then a stick; but he remained defiant. Next, they aimed at retiring Michigan congressman Nick Smith, whose son is running to succeed him.
They promised support if he changed his vote to yes and threatened his son's future if he refused. He stood his ground.

Many of the two dozen Republicans who voted against the bill had fled the floor. One Republican hid in the Democratic cloakroom.

By 4:30, the browbeating had moved into the Republican cloakroom, out of sight of C-SPAN cameras and the insomniac public.
Republican leaders woke President George W. Bush, and a White House aide passed a cell phone from one recalcitrant member to another in the cloakroom.

At 5:55, two hours and 55 minutes after the roll call had begun - twice as long as any previous vote in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives - two obscure western Republicans emerged from the cloakroom.
They walked, ashen and cowed, down the aisle to the front of the chamber, scrawled their names and district numbers on green cards to change their votes and surrendered the cards to the clerk.

The speaker gaveled the vote closed;
Medicare privatization had passed.

You can do a lot in the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness.

---------------------------------------------------

I often wonder what it would take to piss off the average, Joe Six-Pack, Reality Show-watching, SUV-drivin' citizen enough to want to get involved in their government and be a part of fixing shit like this.

Fact is, I still do.





2.05.2004

dreaming of phone calls

now playing: bob seger, "fire lake"


didn't even touch that PC that i was supposed to have built in 4 hours yesterday.

didn't even touch it.

today, however, i went from a pile of parts to a finished machine humming quietly away under my bench with the OS and an assload of software installed in under 3 hours.

and this wasn't a quickie job, either. all the internal cables are run properly, tie-wrapped into place very neatly. it's a damn showpiece, i tell ya. looks good in there. i shoulda used a plexiglass case for this one. (it really is that nice)

i done good.

anyway, startin' to get a little hungry - think i'm gonna try to grab something for lunch, even though i'm leaving early today to go to jayda's basketball game...i could possibly wait, but i dunno if i will or not...

had a veerrrrrry weird dream last night, after blake went home...i dreamed that i got a call from an old philly acquaintance of mine, ronny crawford (which outlines from the outset just how outlandish this is - ronny lives in sf,ca now, and plays in lisa loeb's band). anyway, ronny says that he has a "bus gig" (tour) for me, if i'm interested...but it turns out that it's a reunion of seventies stalwarts england dan and john ford coley.

i'm thinking that if i go home anytime soon and there's a message from ronny on my machine, i may have to think twice about returning the call....


(actually, i liked their music...but i don't know if i liked it enough to play it to a field full of lawn chairs at the bloomsburg fair. that's all i'm sayin' here.)




2.04.2004

work work work work work work work....

now playing: gerry rafferty, "right down the line"

last night at dinner, dylan lapsed into one of his "consonant reversal" fits (the gene for such having been inherited from his father) and order peach "frogen yozurt" for desert, which is still cracking me up, even this morning. he didn't finish it last night, and brought it home in a styrofoam cup...which he was instructed by his father to put in the "freeger".

i had to return to work after 9:30, since i left early to pick them up and didn't finish the end-of-day routine before leaving, which has to be done before midnight.

tonight blake is coming over to begin work in earnest on his website, and to hear the work i've done on the last two tracks he gave me to work on. i think i'm expected to start some vocals in the not-too-distant future, which will be the last thing to finish before mixing begins...

today, we find out if i'm capable of building and configuring a PC from top to bottom in less than four hours - my goal is to have it deliverable by the time its owner is ready to go home at 2pm. i'm confident that i can do it, left alone, but that's never the case here.

so, i suppose i should get crackin'....





2.03.2004

there goes the last DJ...

now playing: bryndle, "on the wind"


a couple of things, here.

----------------------------------------------

Radio's Ed Sciaky dies
Fan and friend of musicians stricken in New York

By JONATHAN TAKIFF
takiffj@phillynews.com


Ed Sciaky, a legend in the Philadelphia radio community and devoted fan and friend of many musicians, died suddenly on a street corner in New York yesterday morning. He was 55.

And for many of us, it will truly be remembered as a day when the music died.

"I'm going to be looking out there in the audience and he won't be there," said a broken up Steve Forbert, pals with Sciaky since the late '70s. "He was a Philly fixture to me, synonymous with the city."

"I loved him. I'll miss him," said Steven Van Zandt, longtime guitarist of the E-Street Band and host of the "Little Steven's Underground Garage" show that has followed Sciaky's "Sunday with Springsteen" on WMGK since April 2002.

For many a Philadelphia baby boomer, Sciaky's radio shows through the decades were literally the soundtrack of their lives, and an advanced course in music appreciation.

Always at the head of his class stood talents like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Yes - whom Sciaky tenaciously played from "virtually unknown" status until he'd helped to make them superstars, on almost every shift of his gigs at WMMR and later WIOQ in the 1970s and '80s. That, of course, was back in the "free-form" years of progressive rock radio, when DJs could still pick the music, indulge in their passions.

"Ed was very helpful to our band in the early days of Yes, being one of the first DJs in Philly and the U.S. to adopt Yes music," said group bassist Chris Squire yesterday.

"He was a champion of music, loved and respected all kinds of music," said WXPN mid-day host and music director Helen Leicht, who worked with Sciaky at WIOQ.

"A Bette Midler, Melissa Manchester or Barry Manilow would never have gotten play on a rock-oriented station like 'Q' if it were not for him. But Ed never saw any barriers. He appreciated good music of all kinds."

And the musicians, as well. The unusually gregarious Sciaky and his wife Judy entertained many a musician at their home, and were fixtures backstage after shows, counseling the artists on what they'd done right and wrong.

"He was on me constantly to turn up my volume," said singer-songwriter Forbert, "until I finally gave in and did it. Ed could be relentless."

Sciaky's devotion to Yes was so intense that he spent vacations chasing their tour buses across the United States and England. He traveled to Leningrad to attend and voice the introduction to an internationally-broadcast Billy Joel concert.

In Springsteen's early, just-scraping-by days, the fledgling Jersey talent slept several nights on the Sciakys' green velvet sofa, forever after to be anointed the "Bruce Memorial Couch." Sciaky also earned Springsteen his first big payday by persuading Manfred Mann to cover "Blinded By The Light," a million-plus seller.

One night this writer and friend - then Sciaky's across-the-hall neighbor and WMMR staffmate - got a knock on the door at 3 a.m. inquiring if I had a guitar to spare. Bonnie Raitt and Martin Mull were over, and wanted to jam. (As I'd get to witness, the flirtatious Mull couldn't keep up with Bonnie, in more ways than one.)

Born April 2, 1948, in New York but raised in Philadelphia, Sciaky graduated from Central High and matriculated at Temple as a math major. Then a chance visit to the studios of WHAT-FM changed his life, when Sciaky brought over an album for laid-back folk DJ Gene Shay to play, and Ed became entranced with the medium and messages of radio.

"He became one of my first unpaid assistants and almost like a son," said Shay yesterday. "It was his idea, for instance, that we take along a tape recorder to a coffeehouse show, to capture this newcomer named Joni Mitchell. Ed also kept me organized. He was always very methodical, remembered everything, even the catalogue numbers of records."

Shay, in turn, became Sciaky's mentor, helping him polish his own, similarly naturalistic delivery when Sciaky switched over to the communications department at Temple, and went on the air at then student-run WRTI-FM.

From there, he graduated (circa 1969) to Philadelphia's first, full-time progressive rock station, WDAS-FM, anointed "Hyski's Underground" after program director and air personality Hy Lit. It was a place and a time so free-spirited (and indulgent) that some DJs performed their shifts while tripping on acid. But not Sciaky, then and forever a very straight arrow. He gladly welcomed the chance to move a couple of years later to the more professionally run WMMR.

Sciaky's only real indulgence was food. It earned him the title "Hungry Ed," from Van Zandt, after Sciaky would descend upon the platters backstage at Springsteen/E-Street Band gigs.

While the noose started tugging around the neck of FM rock DJs in the late '70s, with program directors forcing play lists on the air talent, Sciaky was one of the last guys with clout, spinning his favorites (no matter how eccentric) on his "Sunday Night Alternative" sessions on WIOQ. The show lasted into the early '80s.

When he moved to the classic rock-formatted WYSP in '86, though, the DJ's hands were finally tied and much of the fun went out of the gig, he'd privately grouse to friends like Forbert. But pro that he was, Sciaky's warm, comforting voice would never let on to listeners that he didn't really want to play us "another block of Lynryd Skynrd!"

"Ed's greatest frustration of the last number of years was that the radio business had no place for someone like him who loved the music and the medium and was so adept at the medium," said Michael Tearson, a colleague of Sciaky's at WMMR and recently WMGK.

In recent years, Sciaky battled diabetes and a staph infection in his right foot that just wouldn't heal. He also had kidney failure and had dialysis, but never let on to anyone but his closest friends.

A year ago, the foot had to come off, "and Sciaky really busted his chops in rehab, to master using a prosthesis," said Tearson. "And his love of music, of all kinds of entertainment, never failed. He was like a sponge - still out at concerts, at movies, at plays, all the time. He didn't have time for moping."

"Miami Steve" Van Zandt suggested yesterday that Sciaky's fans should follow suit.

"Ed Sciaky will never die. That is what being legendary is all about. As long as the music of the bands he played lives, he lives."

Besides his devoted wife Judy, Sciaky leaves behind a terrifically talented daughter, Monica, a freshman vocal performance major at Northwestern.

Services are pending.

----------------------------------------



i had the pleasure of meeting ed and judy on several occasions, and will post some pics back on my website within the next couple of days - ed was present for a couple of my shows back in the day, including my CD release party in 1997 when our mutual angels came out (along with the other genuine philadelphia radio legend, michael tearson) and he's one of a half dozen people of whom i could say that, during that period of my life, genuinely dug what i was doing and was supportive of it. i still owe him a set of prints from a show at the TLA that i ran into him at, in fact....


we'll miss you, ed.


a few other links regarding ed's passing:

from the courier-post online...from the broadcast pioneers site, the philadelphia inquirer, and friday morning quarterback.


there's also a wonderful city paper article here that features quite a bit of dialogue with ed and a few other philly radio legends about the heydey of freeform radio in the early seventies.



in other "loss of institution" news:

the Bottom Line is now a done deal.

i'm torn on this one...they had offers for bailout help, but the deal fell through anyway. not sure what gives there.




every day that passes, the world bears less and less resemblance to the world i've known all my life.





the saviour of the record business...

now playing: the manhattans, "shining star"


don't get me wrong...i still think the entire music industry should be abolished and artists should have control over their own work, among many, many other things where this subject is concerned - but i like this guy's attitude.

Sony Music head details shortcomings

By Chris Lewis, clewis@nashvillecitypaper.com
February 02, 2004


Independent record heads and corporate castoffs on Music Row have been saying it for years. Now, the head of a major record label admits it.

"I believe the major label [business] model is broken," said John Grady, president of Sony Music Nashville. "It's too expensive, it's too slow, it's too big. Being too slow and being too big - and it's big in every way - makes it too expensive. And with a major company comes a lot of red tape and bureaucracy that makes [it] not extremely nimble."

The record industry has seen CD sales slide 13 percent since 1999, with country sales remaining flat since then. Sony Music Entertainment sales worldwide dropped by $1.2 billion from 1999 to 2002, according to business Web site Hoovers.com.

Grady says his approach to turning the tide at Sony Nashville is all about the music.

"As this business gets more difficult, in some ways, I think that makes the solution a little more simplified. What you really have to concentrate on is what exactly we do here. We sell prerecorded music," Grady said. "The first thing we have to do in order to do that is to make some music that somebody wants to buy."

Since Grady left DMZ Records to assume the helm of Sony's Nashville office last May, the company virtually has slashed the artists roster in half, letting 10 acts go, and has signed five new, untested acts to its Columbia and Epic labels.

---------------------------------------------------

in other news, this from a new york times editorial today:

After Flash of Flesh, CBS Again Is in Denial
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY


"Wardrobe malfunction" was the term Justin Timberlake used to explain why he bared Janet Jackson's breast at the end of their Super Bowl duet. Like "erectile dysfunction," a term used in halftime advertisements for Cialis, it was a somewhat startling euphemism.

If Monday morning quarterbacks are any guide, few people thought it was by accident that Mr. Timberlake's hand snaked across Ms. Jackson's torso as he reached the lyric, "I'll have you naked by the end of this song," and tore off one bustier cup, releasing a breast partly obscured by a sunburst-shaped nipple brooch. The gesture seemed timed to more than the music: the very next commercial was a close-up of Ms. Jackson's cleavage in a gaudy promotion for next week's Grammy Awards on CBS. (Ms. Jackson denies that the nudity was deliberate, saying that Mr. Timberlake was supposed to rip away only the top layer and leave a bit of red lace behind.)

And nobody really has any reason to believe CBS when the network insists that it did not know the bodice ripping was in the works. That is not just because MTV produced the halftime show for CBS and both companies are owned by Viacom. One does not have to subscribe to conglomerate conspiracy theory to be suspicious. CBS has told so many howlers over the past 18 months that any claim to dignity — and righteous indignation — by this network is now open to snickering.

***CBS insisted there was no quid pro quo when it sent Pfc. Jessica Lynch a letter suggesting that an exclusive interview with CBS News would be rewarded with other lucrative contracts within the Viacom empire.

***CBS insisted that its decision to cancel the mini-series "The Reagans" had nothing to do with the right-wing lobbying campaign that threatened a boycott of advertisers' products.

***And the network insisted that it did not sweeten a deal with Michael Jackson to secure a "60 Minutes" interview with him after his arrest last November as the network was preparing a Michael Jackson entertainment special.

Implausible deniability and the fungible walls between news and entertainment, and between art and commerce, exist at every major network. But like a high school student caught smoking pot by the principal, CBS can hardly wriggle free by arguing that everybody does it.

The beauty of the Janet Jackson to-do is that it could well be the one case in which CBS is telling the truth, and like the little network that cried wolf, nobody is listening. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Powell, was watching, however. He called the incident a "classless, crass and deplorable stunt" and called for a "thorough and swift" F.C.C. investigation. The National Football League also took umbrage, huffily announcing it was unlikely to invite MTV to produce a halftime show anytime soon. Perhaps the league will turn to MTV's rival cable music station, VH1. (That should work. VH1 is also owned by Viacom.)

Even trussed as she was in a shiny "Matrix"/dominatrix outfit, Janet Jackson, 37, has never had much luck being taken seriously as a sex symbol, and it is unlikely that her Super Bowl surprise will be of much help there. But if her aim was to grab all the attention, as Madonna did when she kissed Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards, then she did herself proud. And if she wanted to distract attention from her older, more famous and now more infamous brother Michael, then she achieved even that for a moment.

-------------------------------------------

i personally couldn't help but notice that they missed an opportunity to call attention yet again to CBS' censorship of moveon.org when listing their recent lapses of judgement, but hey - whaddaya gonnado?





2.02.2004

boobs? BOOBS!

now playing: todd rundgren, "caravan"

so we've all either seen this by now, or we've at least heard about it, right?

first of all, i'm already miffed at CBS for the moveon debacle - and i'm the last person on the planet to object to the baring of a breast, but why all the falling all over themselves trying to distance themselves from what happened? it's crackin' me up. seriously.

over at the velvet rope, there's a dialogue going on that had a couple of comments that had me laughing out loud at my desk...excerpted for your convienence:

"....And Janet's hands didn't move immediately to her exposed breast. After about 3 seconds, she placed both hands on her abs, one above the other, well below her breasts. As we all know from our pool party, beach volleyball, and/or slightly too active on the dance floor experiences, a woman can cover a free range tit before your Pavlovian instincts even begin to send the drool command...."

"...So, since we all saw Janet's boob... that means there are six more weeks of winter!!!"

now, if perchance you happen to head over there and check out the forum yourself, you'll note that there are a couple of closeup shots of the alleged boob in question. if you take a second or two to look around the boob instead of directly into the boob (which your mother warned you about as a child), you'll notice something pretty telling....snaps. yeah, snaps. little snaps, like the ones on your winter coat, surrounding the alleged boob.

now, of course, i'm prone to wonder why those snaps would be there if that "wardrobe malfunction" were truly an unfortunate incident. also, why the metallic sun-thingy on the boob in question if it weren't scheduled to make an appearance?

during my semi-annual standup comedy routine in the cafeteria today, i was mentioning to the ladies from HR that the last thing i do before i leave for work in the morning is to make sure my pasties are in place, as you never know when your breasts might be accidentally exposed.

(i also went into an occupationally-specific routine about what would happen if they ever tried to entice our powder-coating shop foreman, ron adams, onto queer eye for the straight guy...you'd have to know ron, i guess...)


i'm starting to see the light at the end of the work tunnel, but on a personal level, i'm starting to get a little swamped...i have two more potential PC orders in place today, one of which is a go, the other on the fence at the moment...but i'm lovin' it. keeps me out of trouble... :)