4.27.2004

a brief FYI

now playing: tom petty, "straight into darkness"

next time you see one of those spiffy ads that dubya is flooding the airwaves with, blasting kerry for "no" votes on defense, think about this....

from a washington post article that you can find here:

Since Congress approved an $87 billion defense request last year, the administration has steadfastly maintained that military forces in Iraq will be sufficiently funded until early next year. President Bush's budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 included no money for Iraqi operations, and his budget director, Joshua B. Bolten, said no request would come until January at the earliest.

or, for clarity's sake, no more money for my unnecessary war until after the election.



4.25.2004

short circuits

now playing: michael hedges (old vh-1 footage), "all along the watchtower"


somehow, this weekend has brought about a considerable amount of reflection as to what it is, exactly, that motivates me to do what i do, as a musician...and, dare i even fucking say, an artist...

i was sitting at denny's earlier tonight, listening to the songs that were piped in over the speakers, a tune from the second jars of clay album came on...wendy said something about the song being about jesus - i immediately thought back to the amazing show i was at in nashville some years back, when they played at the ryman auditorium with a string section...honestly, it was one of those transcendent concerts where everything else falls away and nothing else exists but the circuit between the listener and the band. i remember the singer, at some point between songs, saying something to the effect of - "on nights like tonight, it's easy to absorb all this - all this stuff going on around you - and start to think that you're a bigger part of this than you are...." the gist of what he was saying, i thought, was that there was a secondary circuit between himself and where the music actually comes from.

and i was sitting there, staring at my plate...listening to this song, and thinking to myself that perhaps that circuit is a little weak for me right now.

i mean, i still play regularly, i'm gigging all the time, i'm still in the thick of this...as far as being active as a musician is concerned...so outwardly, all probably looks just fine.

i'm still pickin'...

lately, though, these little unrelated things keep happening - drunks walking up to me after shows and telling me that i should be doing my own stuff, for instance. there was a guy last night who spent most of the second half of the night playing drunken air guitar...he was wearing a kansas t-shirt and a lynyrd skynyrd baseball hat...your typical northern berks barfly, really...but he comes up to me at the end of the show and starts this self-righteous rant about how i should be doing my own songs, how people would really dig me doing my songs....

now, keep in mind this guy doesn't know me from adam, nor i him...but it started to get under my skin after a while...in fact, i was actually starting to go pretty hard on him after a while. i so much as told him that he "didn't know what the fuck he was talking about". i asked him if he'd ever even played in front of people before, and he admitted he hadn't, and i told him to spend a decade or two playing in front of people, slaving over your own songs, recording them and sending them out into the world to be largely rejected, and then he could come back to the village and tell me what the fuck i should be playing....almost verbatim...

earlier this week, angela - the woman in HR whos' become one of a small circle of friends that i would have such a conversation with - told me that she was listening to my CD on the way to work, and asked what i was doing here (in the way that one does when they're asserting that you should be doing something else). i gave her the short answer, with all the usual talking points - whereas, in jon cusack fashion, i pointed out "at least one and possibly all four of the following pieces of information": the kind of music i do isn't in vogue anymore, i don't really have the ambition to maintain the kind of onslaught one has to maintain in order to hack through the underbrush, so to speak...i enjoy playing the role of sideman more than being the focal point, blah blah fuckin' blah....

and the truth is, all of this is true. every bit of it.

then today, i had work to do at joe cala's house (joe is the vp of sales at work, and one of angela's superiors), and got the same question - the whole "what are you doing here" trip again...and i repeated the same schpiel again....

so tonight, i'm listening to jars of clay, and thinking about all the shit that we do to try and fill our various spiritual holes...with food, with sex, with material posessions, with guitars, with money, with whatever a given person might latch onto to try and satisfy whatever it is that they think they want out of their life...and remembering that there are two circuits at work in this exchange of energy that exists when this channel opens up - one between the performer and the audience, and the one that's often overlooked - between the performer and the source of inspiration.

whether anyone chooses to acknowledge it or not, it doesn't begin with them - as much as ego or vanity or whatever internal reasoning process might lead them to that conclusion, the good stuff comes from somewhere else - and in order to get to the really good stuff, that circuit has to be open.

i don't know that this circuit is working well for me lately. in fact, i think i've all but shut it off completely in some ways.

i'm not entirely sure how this came to pass, but i think i have some ideas...but it's after midnight, and i have to rejoin the ranks of the uninspired tomorrow to earn my living doing something totally unrelated to creativity...

the scary part is that getting up and going to work feels more natural than sitting down with a guitar for me lately...


....i gotta figure out what that's about.





4.24.2004

it's 3 a.m., i must be lonely....

now playing: peace and quiet....



we had a great gig tonight.



i sure do miss quin.




4.23.2004

fat folks with broken cars

now playing: marty higgins, "drivin' her home"


last night, jayda and i sat on the bench outside pep boys for over three hours (not including a trip to dairyland, our favorite strip-mall burgerjoint), waiting for a brake and rotor job to finish up...we wrote a really bad poem about a very hefty lady with a full-on, don-johnson-circa-miami-vice 5 o'clock shadow (seriously. she shaves. you can tell when a person shaves, and she shaves.) of my two favorite dairyland waitresses, only carly was working last night - angie wasn't there. we thought about walking to the mall, but it was threatening to rain the entire time, so we discounted the option.

when i got home, i spent some time helping her with her "board game" project, but then went to bed well before ten...which is a sign of something bad, i think. two gigs this weekend...can't afford to get sick just yet.

been thinking a lot about this today...found out about it just as the controversy over the pentagon's objection to photos of military casualties being brought home at Dover AFB began to erupt.

i really don't think that america puts a face to the people who fight and die amidst this insanity.

i think it's about time they did.

unlike most of those who've been called upon, though, tillman actually asked for this lot in life. this was something that he wanted to do, and he walked away from a much more prosperous path to do so. it should be pointed out that tillman died in afghanistan and not in iraq, although he had already been deployed to iraq and had returned home...afghanistan was his second deployment.

there's a slight irony in the fact that tillman was a constituent of john mccain, who is lobbying to send 15,000 more troops to iraq to take his place.






4.19.2004

top o' the ninth...

now playing: andy gibb, “i just wanna be your everything”
(and mlb gameday – red sox 4, yankees 4, top 8th)





it’s come to this – following baseball on the internet from work. i’m truly hopeless, man. This has turned into a pretty good game, though…you can only get so emotionally involved in a game when you’re “watching” it via a java applet that reports the results of each pitch through a window on your desktop. of course, it could be argued that it’s tough to get emotionally involved in any game this early in the season to begin with.

and i’d be inclined to agree with that argument, most of the time. but this is the sox vs. the evil empire.


i’ve been struggling mightily to stay awake today – i had to come in last night and take care of some odds and ends, and to drop off an assload of cardboard for recycling. got home this morning and into bed at around 3:30am. we were scheduled for a visitor from a potential painter today, so i busted my balls to try and get the major parts of the house into a presentable state…wendy did her part and cleaned up the living room and was nice enough to run the vacuum over the area of the dining room floor that i was using to slice cardboard…now if i can just stay awake long enough tonight to do the dishes and some laundry, i’ll be thrilled.

less than a week until spring cleaning day. i can sleep soundly afterward in the knowledge that i can navigate the corridors of my home without fear of breaking something…hopefully.

this just in: boston goes into the top of the 9th with a 5-4 lead.

and they’re bringin’ in keith foulke to close.

today is the last game of the Sox/Yankees Fenway run, today is the boston marathon, and tonight the bruins play game seven of their stanley cup playoff with their rivals, the montreal canadiens…

…glad I’m not drivin’ home from work in beantown this afternoon.


oh, by the way…that 5-4 is a final now.







goodbye to the hotel california

now playing: paul pccartney and wings, "silly love songs"


No Ice, No Rooms, No Guests. Now L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel Is Running Out of Time


By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 18, 2004; Page D01


LOS ANGELES

If the light is right -- and is the light ever really wrong here? -- this city will sometimes do a halfhearted impression of its former selves, using places that still exist, or using a stand-in.
Driving west on Wilshire Boulevard sometimes feels like the back cover of an Eagles album. Driving east, however, toward downtown L.A., just before you reach MacArthur Park, is a ripped-out page of a Raymond Chandler novel. The problem is you get this kind of thing only in fleeting shots, with just the right palm trees casting shadows across just the right buildings. Something always comes into the frame (a "Starsky & Hutch" billboard; the a.m./p.m. convenience store; the Korean dentist signs) and your brain yells cut.

Then comes the Ambassador Hotel. Forlorn, darkened and, in a sense, gone.

It gives off a hulking, vacant sense of the beautifully doomed, except when someone needs it for a movie or TV shoot.

Britney Spears's people have called, says Joe Ortiz, who has worked in the hotel for 28 years as a maintenance engineer, staying long after the last guests checked out. Britney Spears may or may not need to use the Ambassador for a music video the following week -- the contract pending, the concept pending, Britney pending.

The Ambassador waits, too, its fate undecided. With its 455 empty rooms and its once-famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub, it can be anything you want it to be, and Hollywood still uses it, abuses it, romances it. You can lease it out and film anywhere except the former kitchen pantry, on the notion that it is sacred American space -- the narrow corridor with the ice machine where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and five others were shot by Sirhan B. Sirhan on the night of the 1968 California presidential primary.

The hotel sits a half-block back from a busily evolved and presently pan-Asian stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, on 23.7 valuable urban acres three miles west of downtown. It is falling apart a tile at a time behind tall chain-link fences, draped in tangles of ivy and shielded ambivalently by palm and olive trees. Opened on New Year's Day in 1921, it has been permanently closed to guests and visitors since two days after New Year's, 1989.

Now, in the months before it will be at last torn down or partially restored as a public school, the hotel has become a kind of fetishized treasure, in a city where it is possible to drive around and feel an elusive sense of loss, even if you just got there.


read the entire article here





the transitional minute

now playing: carly simon, "anticipation"


had one small disaster dropped into my lap this weekend - a PC i upgraded for one of the top executives for the company where i hold court during the day can't open up the files i restored from the pre-upgrade backup. seems that his wife was using an ancient version of wordperfect, and the new and improved (i shouldn't even say "improved", because i essentially replaced every important component inside the box) machine will not open the old files.

the old machine was an antique by nearly anyones' standards - and the fact is, i wouldn't have had to deal with it at all, save for the fact that he wanted it to have internet access via his newly installed wireless network. but, what with the machine running windows 95 with 16MB of memory, etc, etc, it weren't havin' none o' that. so it had to be upgraded in order to deal with the wireless card that needed to be installed. otherwise, i never would've had to deal with it. now, though, the machine it is and the machine it used to be are worlds apart, and i've got a bit of a problem to deal with. there are some obvious solutions that come to mind, but it's gonna take some time, and i'm not sure how much of that i have. we'll soon see, i'm sure.

this was the transitional weekend here.

transitional, meaning that this was the weekend between actually hearing the heat kick on once or twice during the night to sleeping with zero bed covering on because it's stinkin' hot in the house. i already put jayda's air conditioning unit in, and would've put dylan's in as well, were it not physically impossible to get to that side of his room right now due to the huge amount of crap flung all over his room. just unreal.

i haven't put ours in yet, either, but i doubt it'll be very long before i will. i don't do summer well. and, as per the usual transition here, it appears to have gone from too chilly to wear short sleeves outside for very long straight to jesus christ, can ya hand me a towel? without passing "go" or collecting two hundred bucks. this has become something of a tradition here. screw spring or fall...it's either freezing or ridiculously hot. one or the other. no grey, just black or white.

i haven't forgotten sweatin' my ass off in nashville last summer, though...not feelin' a huge need to jump back into that, either...

still majorly on the fence about that. have given that a lot of space inside my head this week/weekend. no closer to a plan now than i ever was.

jayda has informed me, however, that she wouldn't mind being closer to the home of sonic.

neither would i, man.







4.16.2004

the still, small voice with a southern accent....

now playing: paul mccartney and wings, "with a little luck"

...yeah....we're back to the old shit again....



jayda and i went for a long drive last night...for a while, i thought i was lost. we saw, almost simultaneously, signs for shanesville and earlville...which, i mused, were founded by the famous explorers and woodsmen, shane and earl - which sparked one of my all-too-common dual conversations (conversations that i hold for people who couldn't have them themselves, with me taking part in both sides of the conversation):

shane: dude...i like it here.
earl: me, too, dude, but i like it better over there.
shane: so what, dude? it's major cooler over here. i'm gonna stay here, yo.
earl: whatEVER, dude. i'm goin' over there. that's gonna be my crib.
shane: righteous...can you hear me NOW? GOOD!
earl: DOOOODE! i can, like, TOTALLY hear you now!
shane: dig - i'm gonna call my crib...uh....shanesville.
earl: aaaaw, dude...i was gonna call MINE earlville.
shane: dude - you're wiggin'. you're only sayin' that 'cuz i already said my plot was gonna be shanesville, man. that's just wrong, yo.

this faux-conversation goes on for about five minutes, with jayda laughing so hard that i would assume tears are coming down her eyes...i don't know this, obviously, 'cuz it's dark. she remarks that her friend devena has to come on a ride with us sometime.

this conversation was followed later by another similar conversation that i made up in my head and had with myself between firefighters at the Stonersville Fire Company.

i won't even get into that one. you can probably figure that one out for yourself.


anyway, i thought that after dinner on tuesday, the subject of nashville might have come up, but neither of us mentioned it. i've talked to jim, the musical director for this guys' band, a number of times this week, and we exchanged some emails as well, and the consensus has become that they're going to use someone local for the time being, as they're on the road almost constantly, and they have some really important gigs coming up. i had hoped to be in town this past week to audition, but no ones' schedule allowed for it. there's only two days between their shows this weekend and leaving for the southwest on wednesday, and it would have ended up being the end of the month before we'd have actually been able to pull this off. and, under the circumstances, that's just too long.

i think i was dreading the audition process, because i was somewhat afraid of succeeding. because if i have, it would have thrown my whole life into chaos for the rest of the year. even if you discount the fact that i have a wife and kids at all, it would have meant leaving my job, finding another job to tide me over until the summer work kicked in hard, finding a place for us all to live, setting up the move, and trying to determine what kind of lives my kids would have for the next three to five years.

now, if this sounds like resignation, then maybe i'm leaning too hard on all this. because this ain't over yet.

i'm probably gonna try to give charlie a call later tonight to talk about this some more - the one thing i keep hearing from people i've spoken to, in terms of checking with folks about using them for references and what have you - is that i should be on a bus within a few weeks of arriving in town, because of all that i have to offer. while i find that flattering, and i appreciate the encouragement, i just flat out refuse to believe that there is a drought of musicians in nashville that do what i do. it can't be that thin there.

charlie made the point, the last time that we talked, that i already had a foothold simply by virture of the people i know in town, and that may be true to some extent, but i don't think it pushes me that much farther toward the top of the "call first" list. i've been around too long to be that willingly naive.

but i do think i can compete. i think that there are certainly gigs that would have my name all over them. marlene baker told me, when i spoke with her recently, that she thinks i should have done this ages ago, that it's a great idea...she talked about how things only really started falling into place for her most recent client (mary gauthier) after she moved to nashville, and made the point that if this is what i want to do - the sideman thing - that i really need to be there to make that happen. certainly, everything that is happening in my life lately seems to be pointing in that direction...but i have to do this in a way that makes sense.

what i have to figure out now is...well, exactly what is it that makes sense about all this? how, at this point in my life, do i go about it in a sane manner?

two or three more years and i'll be too comfortable to do anything about this.

it isn't gonna happen tomorrow, but if it's gonna happen at all, it's gonna have to be soon.



charlie...is that your phone ringing?





here today, gone tomorrow?

now playing: eagles, "sad cafe"


wendy hates it when i reproduce entire articles in my blog, but i've done it in the past because other sites have a tendency to remove items after a certain amount of time has passed, and here on my blog they have a permanent home, if i deem them important enough to include.

Andante at collective sigh posted this link to the stars and stripes letters section, featuring some very, ummm....strongly worded letters to the editor. you'd better believe i was tempted to reprint them here - but i decided to do something a little different.

i just finished copying the source code from the S&S page and setting up an identical page here. let's see how long it takes the folks over at S&S to remove or otherwise manipulate the content of the page, now that word is getting around the internet about these families' opinions in print in the militarys' official propoganda sheet.

if more of the liberal blogging community picks up on this, i give it a week until the official page is gone. when it is, come back here and compare the original page to whatever is left of the impending censorship effort.


in other news, it looks like michael moore's latest film, farenheit 911, will be finished in four weeks. no word on release date yet, though.




4.14.2004

wasted away again

now playing: lionel richie, "you are"


(and this, in a nutshell, may have been the real evil posed by the Napster era...when there's that much free music available, you'll download some awful shit just 'cuz you can.)


i still feel, at 3:30 in the afternoon, as if i just woke up. pretty sad. but i haven't gone to bed before 1 in the morning any night this week thus far.

tonight may or may not be any different.

we have a little ritual here in my town called spring cleanup...this is where the borough allows you to dump as much shit on your sidewalk as you want, and they take it away without charging you what would be an extra fee any other time of year.

let me tell ya how much i'm looking forward to this when it rolls around this year...i'm so ready to start throwing stuff out that i don't know how to tell you just how excited i am about the prospect of uncluttering the house somewhat.

d-day is a week from friday.

in other news, i've just launched yet another domain - basementguitars.com. there's a long, long story behind this, but i'll try to narrow it down to the highlights.

some time back, i bought a really sweet copy of a rickenbacker 330/12 from an online auction, and out of that i forged a relationship with the company that was importing them into the united states. so solid, in fact, that i decided i would buy a few of them and sell them myself on eBay.

well, the reaction was swift and positive. within less time than it took for the auction to run its course, i had sold half a dozen of them.

and the happy ending would be inserted at this point, but there's a twist...the guitars that i'd ordered to fill the sales didn't actually exist. well, they existed, but they weren't in stock. first they told me they'd have them in a couple of weeks, then the story changed to they'd only just ordered them and they were on a container on its way here from korea. well, unreasonable bastard that i am, i got just a little peeved. out of this experience of having been publicly humiliated and humbled to strangers who had trusted me to do the right thing by them, i decided that i could do this better if i just did it myself.

so i started doing some pretty intense research to try and find out what the source of these guitars might be. i had gotten an actual model number off one of the shipping containers, and i googled it...found a company in asia that carried the same guitars, under the "silver star" brand. so the next step turned out to be an exhaustive search of korean musical instrument manufacturers until i found one that branded their instruments with that name...then i started matching model numbers to make sure i had my man. everything looked perfect. so, this past monday, i called them to find out what the story was, and - sure enough - i had my man. so we exchanged a few emails at that point, and they're sending me specs on their full product line. apparently, they manufacture guitars for a handful of very well known american interests - including gibson and dean and possibly others that they didn't bother to mention on first contact.

so, while i was thinking that an initial order would be certainly multiple pieces, i wasn't prepared for what their requirements were for the first one...long story short, it would require an investment of roughly $20K for the first shipment. so, in the time since, i've been recruiting partners for the venture, and it's looking as though we may actually be able to pull this off.

when i told dylan about all this, his comment was, "dad...are we even gonna be able to watch tv anymore?" (meaning, "are the guitars gonna spill out into every crack and crevice in the house now?")

this is a huge thing, to be sure...requiring a pretty serious investment of time and money. and all because i wanted to add a few pieces to my collection at some point in the hazy past. it has a lot of potential, though...the price they quoted me per piece for the models that we're chiefly interested in is extremely attractive, and promises a kick-ass margin, depending on what our shipping ends up costing us.

it's an exciting time...this is a promising venture, should we be able to pull it off.

other developments....

talked for quite some time last night to jim, the MD for the artist in nashville whom i've been entertaining thoughts of auditioning for - it doesn't appear at this point that there's going to even be an opportunity to audition until close to the end of the month. that, coupled with the fact that he's got a couple of local people who are showing interest in the gig, could very well mean that this is a foregone conclusion at this point. certainly, stranger things have happened than something like this actually coming together in the eleventh hour, but they've got a pretty full itinerary and i can't see them dragging this process out past the end of the month as it is. i had initially thought that this week would present the best opportunity for me to head down and do this, but this week is all but over at this point. next week, they're leaving for the NM leg of their perpetual tour on wednesday, so that week is out - leaving the last week of the month.

dunno, man. i'm inclined to think that when that much time passes, either someone surfaces locally, or something else comes up. we'll see.

in the meantime, i found out that the rigbees are looking for a guitarist, and they're right in my backyard. might not be the kind of work that would be as lucrative and satisfying as actually gettin' on the bus, but it'd be a nice change.

listening to me wring my hands over finding more work, you'd think i was sitting at home all the time...two bands aren't enough for this guy, you might think...what the hell is his problem?

well, it's not that there's a problem, per se...i just feel as though for once in my life, i'd like to have the opportunity to get on the bus, so to speak. i know i'm good enough to be playing on that level, and i feel like it's something i have to prove to myself. i feel as though i should be doing it if i'm capable of doing it. i think i'm getting to that point, now that 30 isn't a fresh memory for me, that i feel like it's time to prove it to myself before the window of opportunity closes and it's no longer realistic for me to think about getting on the bus. and it just seems like a waste of the talent that i have to fritter it away playing rocky mountain way to a roomful of harley davidson enthusiasts every weekend.

i have more than that to offer...and i guess i just want to put it out there at some point.

no one wants to feel as though they're wasting their talent...or their life, ultimately.




4.12.2004

cribs

now playing: october project, "a lonely voice"


posts like this are the reason i love the fact that blogging has elevated to the level it has. go on, lane!

it's raining here - and, according to the weatherman, it will be for the lion's share of the week. perfect accompaniment to my mood of late.

yesterday was just what the doctor ordered, though...a long sleep-in after a particularly satisfying gig, followed by a road trip to cracker barrell and a temporary overdose on side veggies (their cabbage always sucks. i don't understand it. everything else they make kicks ass, but their cabbage is always a disappointment. go figure.). home, then, to watch the bruins lose their first playoff game to the home-team canadiens...then, later, i popped in the videotape that blake brought over last week...a documentary on the making of the last fleetwood mac album, "say you will".

man, was that ever hard to watch.

for those who haven't seen it, here's the story in a nutshell: lindsey brings an assload of material to the table, with mick's initial support for a double album package - but after some, uh, sage managerial advice, mick has a change of heart and ultimately, lindsey is the only member in favor of releasing the double album - against the wishes of the rest of the band. he ultimately sells himself seriously short on royalties, agreeing in principle to get paid for twelve songs even if they include twenty on the album. (and, of course, since the extra songs are all lindseys', it's him that would take the financial hit moreso than any of the other band members.) in the end, though, for reasons that aren't really clear, the album was released as a single album anyway - no one really comes clean on why that is during the course of the show.

and all the while, i'm sitting there thinking that if fleetwood fuckin'-mac is subject to this kinda ass-picking by the labels, what chance does a baby band have in the world we've created?

really, why even make the effort?

i think that the silver lining of the huge-assed mess that we've made is that once all this dust settles and whatever ultimately happens with the record business as we now know and love it has happened - which is to say that the Time Warners and Sonys and BMGs of the world have been replaced by Amazon.com - we may actually see who's in this business for the love of music and who's in it to be on cribs. i think that those who fall into the latter are going to be sorely disappointed with what lay in store for them down the road.

signing a record deal is like hitting the lottery nowadays. you get a hard shot of quick cash, which you blow doing the record company's job for them and after your first record comes out and ultimately tanks, you're so far in debt to the record company that you stand no chance of earning a shot at a second record. and if you're one of the one in 480 acts who actually has some degree of chart success and earns a shot at a second record, your chances of duplicating your initial success are a researched and proven one in 4300. and this is, of course, provided you've overcome the almost insurmountable odds against your having arrived in that scenario in the first place.

who needs it?

i think that in ten or fifteen years, even, the artists who are subsisting and earning their keep from their art will be touring almost nonstop and selling discs out of their vans or on the internet. because the court of play keeps creeping in that direction, more and more every day.

me?

i'll still be fixin' computers and playin' in my (an' i mean this in the best of ways) white-trash, trailer-park, classic rock cover band.

and maybe, sooner or later, i'll get around to posting some of my works in progress on the internet.

for free.





indefensible

now playing: garrison starr, "superhero"


from the Times' editorial page - although i'm not sure why this isn't on every news show in the nation. i find this seriously disturbing. this has gone too far.



A Justice's Sense of Privilege
By BOB HERBERT

Antoinette Konz is a young education reporter for The Hattiesburg American, a daily newspaper with a circulation of about 25,000 in Hattiesburg, Miss. Ms. Konz, 25, has only been in the business for a couple of years, so her outlook hasn't been soiled by the cranks and the criminals, and the pretzel-shaped politicians that so many of us have been covering for too many years to count.

She considered it a big deal when one of the schools on her beat, the Presbyterian Christian High School, invited her to cover a speech that was delivered last Wednesday by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

About 300 people, many of them students, filled the school's gymnasium for the speech. They greeted Justice Scalia with a standing ovation.

Ms. Konz and a reporter for The Associated Press, Denise Grones, were seated in the front row. They began to take notes. And when Justice Scalia began speaking, they clicked on their tape recorders.

What's important about this story is that Justice Scalia is a big shot. Not only is he a member in good standing of the nation's most august court, he's almost always among those mentioned as a possible future chief justice.

Compared with him, Ms. Konz and Ms. Grones are nobodies.

Justice Scalia, the big shot, does not like reporters to turn tape recorders on when he's talking, whether that action is protected by the Constitution of the United States or not. He doesn't like it. And he doesn't permit it.

"Thirty-five minutes into the speech we were approached by a woman who identified herself as a deputy U.S. marshal," Ms. Konz told me in a telephone conversation on Friday. "She said that we should not be recording and that she needed to have our tapes."

In the U.S., this is a no-no. Justice Scalia and his colleagues on the court are responsible for guaranteeing such safeguards against tyranny as freedom of the press. In fact, the speech Mr. Scalia was giving at the very moment the marshal moved against the two reporters was about the importance of the Constitution.

Ms. Konz said neither she nor Ms. Grones wanted to comply with the marshal's demand.

"It was very distracting, very embarrassing," she said. "We were still trying to listen to what he was saying."

The marshal, Melanie Rube, insisted.

The A.P. reporter tried to explain that she had a digital recording device, so there was no tape to give up. Ms. Konz said the deputy seemed baffled by that.

Eventually both recordings were seized.

If this had been an old-time Hollywood movie, the Supreme Court justice would have turned a kindly face toward the marshal and said, in an avuncular tone: "No, no. We don't do that sort of thing in this country. Please return the recordings."

But this is the United States in the 21st century where the power brokers have gone mad. They've deluded themselves into thinking they're royalty, not public servants charged with protecting the rights and interests of the people. Both recordings were erased. Only then was the reporters' property returned.

When agents acting on behalf of a Supreme Court justice can just snatch and destroy information collected by reporters, we haven't just thumbed our nose at the Constitution, we've taken a very dangerous step in a very ugly direction. The depot at the end of that dark road is totalitarianism.

I called Jane Kirtley, a professor of media, ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, and asked her what was wrong with what the marshal did. She replied, "Everything."

Not only was it an affront to the Constitution to seize and erase the recordings, Ms. Kirtley believes it was also a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, a law passed by Congress in 1980.

"It protects journalists not just from newsroom searches," she said, "but from the seizure of their work product material, things like notes and drafts, and also what's called documentary materials, which are things like these tapes, or digital recordings."

Ms. Konz told me: "All I was doing with that tape recorder was making sure that I was not going to misquote the justice. My only intention was to report his words accurately."

After the encounter with the marshal, she said, "I went back to the office and I just felt absolutely — I just felt horrible."





4.09.2004

reports of my demise have been greatly....uh....

now playing: sarah shannon, "i'll run away"


so i guess...i just process information differently than most people do.

when i have something on my plate that's potentially important, potentially life-changing, potentially could-impact-people-i-love-type stuff on my plate, i completely internalize it.

well, maybe not completely, but i internalize the majority of it.

i thought about talking to the kids about it on tuesday night, but i lost my nerve. i thought it'd probably be best to keep my mouth shut until i was ready to make a decision, one way or the other. why get them worked up about it if it wasn't going to come to fruition, after all? they have enough stress in their lives.

the only person i really talked to about it at length was charlie, mainly because of his potential involvement with the decision, and his degree of familiarity with what i'd be doing, since he's gone through it already, although his means of doing this and mine would be considerably different....

but that's it, really. maryann here at work knows, but only because she's been privvy to the flurry of phone calls that have transpired in the last week or so.

and i dared not mention it here, because people i love read these pages on a regular basis, and i hadn't really processed the information yet.

i'm still not sure i have. i mean, i think i've made a decision, but i could probably be swayed, even now, if the situation were made attractive enough.

i guess i should stop beating around the bush and spill my guts.

an opportunity has become available for a road gig with an up-and-coming country singer in nashville who is looking for a pro guitar player to join his band. i've been exchanging emails for a week with his musical director, talking about the situation and exchanging information and questions...and the stuff that he does would be right up my alley, in terms of what his music is like and what i enjoy playing. they tour regularly - on his website, i saw dates in oklahoma city OK, albuquerque NM, indianapolis IN, franklin OH, louisville KY, and several cities in TN & AL within the space of a pretty short framework, itinerary-wise...there are still enough "gaps", though, that i'd probably still have to hold down a day gig in order to remain afloat...with my overhead costs being what they are.

there's enough irony to choke on in the fact that when an opportunity like this comes my way, it's with a country band. who woulda thunkit?

for those who need some background, i'm originally from tennessee - born and raised in a podunk farming town almost right on the tenn/ala border on the banks of the tennessee river called savannah. i actually went to high school with a guy named darryl worley who's having some success as a country act right now. i grew up listening to guys like dan fogelberg and jackson browne and crosby stills and nash and jim croce and the like - so what ultimately became my songwriting voice echoed those guys considerably - i thought. what i found out, years later, as i found my feet and started writing songs seriously and making inroads as a singer and songwriter was that i was pretty much the only person who had this perception, outside of a handful of contemporaries - most people thought of me as a country singer. to this day, i still don't get it. but it didn't take me long to start resenting it.

i resented it not out of disrespect for country music - but what i was doing didn't have much in common with country music at all, to my ears. granted, country music of the last decade and a half doesn't bear much resemblance to what i consider to be "country" music, but i still didn't see the connection. still don't, for that matter.

as time went by, though, i made a few trips to nashville during my road years - and some pretty serious internal myths i had harbored for some time were shattered. one of them was that every bartender and plumber in town was an amazing songwriter, scratching and clawing to get their song to someone and make their own break. what i found to be the case was that there were an awful lot of hacks in nashville, just like here at home. in fact, i remember doing a songwriter's circle at a place called big river at 2nd and broadway, right across the street from the nashville hard rock cafe - after our round was over, i took a walk up the street, up towards gruhn's guitar shop, and taking in some of the folks who were playing at various places up and down the strip...there was a girl playing in the gibson cafe who was just awful...beautiful, but awful. then, on the other side of the street, there was a guy playing in a storefront window with his back to the street...but his PA was plugged into a speaker hanging just underneath the door, broadcasting his awfulness to the unsuspecting public...a 12-bar blues tune with three words - "big boss man........big boss man........big boss man......big boss man.....big boss man......big boss man....."

after about the thirteenth one, i moved along.

still, the thought of living in nashville was off-limits to me, because all i wanted was to be john gorka - to be identified with folk music moreso than country music, to have a decent sized, loyal following that would allow me to make a record on occasion and tour as much as i could for as long as i could. i wanted to be Northampton, not Nashville. but alas, it was not to be. and for me, moving to nashville and trying to have something resembling a career as an artist or a songwriter felt like conceding defeat in some perverted way. plus, i had a bit of a chip on my shoulder concerning country music once i got an up-close look at the songwriters' hierarchy and how the machinery worked. (more on that some other, more relevant time.)

so now, this opportunity is opening up, and this dialogue has been taking place, and i have to decide whether or not i want to go down and audition. this could be happening as early as next week, should i decide to go.

i've been doing all kinds of research on the internet this week. for instance, the average rental price in nashville is $30 less than what i pay now. average income is roughly the same, i know my way around the city somewhat, and i have people there that i know. in terms of picking up and moving that far away on a whim, i could do this in relatively good shape, but there are other issues involved. two other issues, specifically, that complicate matters quite a bit. there are decisions to be made with regard to whether or not they'd be summer kids or how that'd be danced around with their mom. jayda would be an especially tough negotiation, because i couldn't see her wanting to be there through school or for the summer, because she's so engrained into her social fabric here. dylan, on the other hand, would probably welcome the opportunity to get the hell outta here.

but this is all supposition on my part, of course, because i haven't said a word about any of this to them.

but over the course of the last couple of days, i think i may very well have talked myself out of it. and i'm not even sure why.

these are the things that can make you crazy...trying to tell the difference between intuition and fear. this is one of those times when i just can't tell the difference. i don't know if i'm afraid of change or if there's some reason that i'm not consciously aware of that is keeping me from throwing out a ton of my shit, packing my bags, and calling the movers to come get me the hell outta here.

i dunno, man. i started thinking about this post this morning, and it's almost 4 o'clock now. that probably means something....

but i'm not sure what....yet.






4.01.2004

rubber band man

now playing: shane nicholson, "nice to be here"


yeah, yeah, i know...but i'm still not even remotely tired of this record.



today's quote from jayda to her beloved father:

"you are such an asshole...i love it!"

(of course, you know, i hear this all the time...)


today, she and six of her friends made a game of walking through the halls at school and then simultaneously falling all over each other. it was so funny the first time that they did it again in a different part of the school building.

i don't know where she gets such behavior. i really don't.


dylan, on the other hand, managed to inspire yet another email from mr. brown, this time for shooting a rubber band into the face of his lab partner in science class.

this is becoming a huge...huge problem.


there's only one thing left for me to take from him. i guess it's time for it to go.


i'm pissed at him for making me have to do this to him. i'm tired of having to beat him down on a disciplinary level - and i'd think he'd be tired of it too, by now.

apparently not, though.