learning

Books Report

🎵🎶 “If they asked me, I could write a book…” 🎶🎵

C’mon now – everybody’s doing it!! (heck, WE even did it a few decades ago!)

I just finished reading Randy Rainbow’s memoir PLAYING WITH MYSELF – and it’s pretty much what you might expect: about as saucy and irreverent as he is. No huge revelations, nothing too surprising about his story; essentially he works his ass off to create his YouTube musical commentaries and is having the time of his life doing so.

I confess I got a lot more from reading Paul Evans’ HAPPY-GO-LUCKY ME – in part because Paul has had a longer and much more dimensional career, and also because we’ve had the pleasure of working with him and being friends for over 40 years.

There are any number of coaches out there who can guide an author on how (and WHY! ) to construct, edit, publish and promote their books. And I believe that while not everyone needs to tell their story in printed form, ALL of our stories are valid and worth the telling. Though it’s none of my business, I badger a few friends on a regular basis to get crackin’ on their memoirs – mainly because I want to re-savor their adventures, but also because, as my grandpa (and Hank Williams!) always said, “none of us are gettin’ out of this alive!” Let “the world discover” your story while you’re still here to set the record straight!

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Home, learning, self-acceptance

Dog Trust

When it comes to trust, I’ll almost always choose dogs over people. We recently watched an episode of the Netflix series DOGS, and I found myself judging Alana, the young military woman who had rescued a beautiful homeless puppy while based in Iraq. Her support system moved heaven and earth to bring Jet🐾 home to Boise, ID for her, before her latest deployment was over. Everyone involved gave their all, especially Tara, the woman who fostered Jet back in the States. It was heartbreaking to see Alana ultimately return Jet back to Tara, his foster mom, but I also found myself thinking, “what’s wrong with Alana that she can’t handle Jet, after ALL these people went to such lengths to bring him back home for her?”

Granted, Alana is a single woman in her 20s who had never had a dog before, and a lot had happened to both Alana AND Jet while they’d been separated. Jet had grown into a much larger dog, and after being held in quarantine and moved halfway around the world, whatever bond they had originally had was broken – on both sides. Neither Jet nor Alana were the same people they’d been when they’d met, and they just didn’t trust one another!

And then I began to feel guilty, as I realized that we’d had a very similar experience just a few years ago. In May 2019 we rescued a pair of beautiful mini-schnauzers but the chemistry had been “off” pretty much from the get-go, and they’d never bonded with us OR our other pups – so after 10 days we chose to return them to their foster mom! We were inconsolable, but Elke & Dana never relaxed around us, and we could never relax around them. They wound up being adopted by a different family and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault – it just is.

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growing up, learning, music, music biz, politics, self-acceptance

A Curmudgienne’s Gratitude List

Not to go all-Pollyanna on ya, but here we go!

I’m grateful to have been born an American, and to still “thrill to see Old Glory paint the breeze”.

I’m grateful to have dear friends and family in my life, who listen to my concerns and respond with honesty, reason and loving support.

I’m grateful to have most of my original body parts, and not to miss the ones that aren’t there anymore.

I’m grateful to have my own row to hoe and not be held responsible for the dreadful state of rest of the farm.

I’m grateful to have experienced breathtakingly beautiful music. ❤️🎶🎵🎶🎵🎶❤️ And to have created and recorded some of my own that I’m still proud of.

I’m grateful I can still laugh when I hear blatant lies. Sometimes. Other times, I’m grateful I can still cry.

I’m grateful to have eluded COVID so far, to still be able to smell horse manure and to still have the agility to DUCK when it’s comin’ at me!

There! That wasn’t so bad, was it?

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music, music biz, politics

Nothing Personal – It’s Just Business!

The older I get, the more I understand THE GODFATHER. I first watched the film by myself after moving to NYC in 1972 and still shudder recalling my visceral reaction to certain scenes. The Corleones had no compunction about imposing their brutal “justice” on anyone or anything that stood in their way.

Since then I’ve noticed as life became less “friendly”, with fewer instances of kindness and compassion, especially in the corporate world. As technology progresses, people feel more connected while in reality living at more of a distance. This somehow seems to make previously unsociable behavior more accepted among many.

A couple months ago I got a notice from google that a website in Russia was illegally hosting almost 50 of my recordings online, without permission or payment – available for free to anyone and everyone to stream or download. When I went there to check it out, I noticed that the quality of the recordings was substandard (i.e. worse than most mp3s), but I know there are many people who literally can’t hear the difference, and to whom it wouldn’t matter even if they did; the most important thing to them is that the music is FREE!? I did some more snooping around the site and found that a couple dozen of my musical colleagues had much of their recorded catalog similarly posted for free on this website as well.

Initially I felt panic – and then anger! Who are these Russian thieves to steal our music and then give it away for free to people all over the world? This practice breaks international copyright law, for starters; at the very least it’s bad karma! And with the political situation being what it is now, it isn’t as if our government is going to jump to aid creators, as was done with napster 20 years ago! No one is going to dare threaten Russia to defend our rights at the moment!? They’re too busy trying to avoid World War III these days!

I don’t know the solution to this conundrum; I’m frustrated at the injustice inherent in the situation but don’t want to work myself up into a lather over a problem that has no apparent solution. After much consideration, I’ve decided to allow this to remain unresolved, to acknowledge that it exists; it’s an unpleasant fact of life. And it’s not “just business” – to me, it’s also personal.

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politics

The Sky Is Falling (and it’s all your fault!)

I’ve personally received many emails re. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine from friends over the past couple weeks, with admonishments that I MUST check out THIS video, or read THAT long-winded article – and always with the guilt-generating expectation that I have to DO something about this horrible situation. This strikes me as more than a little hysterical and reminds me of a children’s story. As it’s been around for at least a couple centuries, there are several versions of “The Little Red Hen” AKA “Chicken Little” – from the more violent to the supposedly-more-suitable for children-happy-ending.

We’ve all been over-subjected to media spin – more in the past five or six years than ever before. As of 2017 it even has its own name; Alternative Facts (Otherwise known as complete and utter BS)

Today I was moved to respond to the latest email entreaty to panic about matters that are above-my-pay-grade and writing my reply helped clarify my own thoughts thus:

I completely understand your skepticism re. how the media reports the news, and how various governments, our own included, attempt to skew public opinion in matters of war, as well as info about vaccines, pandemics, the economy, etc.  The talking heads have all demonstrated beyond a doubt that they can be unreliable, they can be “bought” – and that no one’s hands are completely clean. So I mostly trust my own guts – which tell me that most so-called experts are untrustworthy.  My visceral take is revulsion for virtually all of them. 

That said, I’m not sure how much it actually avails us to ascribe BLAME to guilty parties in this particular shit-show. Since I’m only really responsible for my own choices and behaviors, I recognize more and more that I have ZERO control over what other people think, say, and do. So more and more, I’m letting it go. In my experience, time spent paying attention to theorists, pundits and politicians is time wasted – it only makes me upset and angry. And I can generate enough of that drama without their input.

I look to find enjoyment in every day, remembering that I’m sharing my life with a wonderful, thoughtful, kind and loving man (and our brilliant dog!) I’m fortunate to be in virtual-touch with most of my other loved ones all over the globe, and residing in beautiful surroundings. Why should I spin my wheels over crap that’s out of my control? I work to keep my head OUT of that toilet since I know what’s in there!

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music biz, politics

The Cruelest Month

My mother always maintained that February was the cruelest month – even tho both hers and my dad’s birthdays occurred then. (Double-cake! YUM!)

Artist Kim Dingle apparently feels the same way I do re. CAKE!

And weather this month CAN be problematic, especially in the midwest and back east, where our family comes from. This year life seems especially harsh, what with the pandemic virus, China cheating at the Olympics, ongoing political shenanigans, rising prices at the grocery store, along with supply chain shortages, etc.

It’s been cold in southern AZ; every night when we take Schultz 🐾 for a walk before bedtime, we see a lone bird perched in the corner of our loggia, shivering on the window sill. He’s there from sundown to dawn.

And I’ve felt blue lately; having identified some troubling realities about myself, the music biz, the world at large – things I have been in denial about for most of my life, in some instances. It’s been challenging to find GOOD stuff to feel happy about – sometimes very elusive, no matter how much I seek out these things.

But then today this bird made such a racket in the backyard, I had to acknowledge him and his song. He went on endlessly, and kept returning even after Schultz chased him away. The whole world may be going to hell, our American democracy may be under attack and, like Chicken Little cried, “the sky is falling”. But this bird ain’t buyin’! He’s on Match-dot-com-for-birds! CLICK HERE to hear him!

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Home, learning

Tom Sawyer 101

easy for YOU to say, Bob Ross!

All the monsoon storms made everything grow this past summer and the desert had more green than I’d ever seen here before. Since moving to AZ, I’ve missed the deep greens of summer in CA, CT, IL & NY, and inspired by the late great Bob Ross, I’d originally envisioned coloring the back fence/wall with images of “friendly little trees, shrubs, etc…” like a mural. At first thinking I’d hang recycled shower curtains for a temporary change-of-scenery, but then seeing how quickly they deteriorated when exposed to the elements in the great outdoors, I finally settled in on the idea of applying actual paint to the actual fence.

Once I started I began to see how much actual WORK it was going to be, and as my visual artistic skills are not the greatest, my first attempt at painting wound up looking like very ugly camouflage:

After conferring with my beloved, I tried just using the green samples I’d purchased years ago; we decided we preferred the darker one:

I finished prepping the wall (moving gravel away) and primer-painting all 7 sections in the dreadful light green “industrial hospital wall” color that I had purchased 6 gallons of last spring. (recycled paint = very cheap!) This step took a lot of time, as the cinder blocks drank in the paint like a sponge, and confirmed my suspicion that a much deeper shade of green was called for!

In the process, I kept learning (and re-learning) things; wearing a mask while painting is a GOOD thing (to keep paint dust/particles from my lungs) – and don’t make your primary coat so much LIGHTER a color than your final coat, since you can see every little blurble that pops and then you’ve got go over it again… and again…
And take a shower as soon as you’re finished cleaning up – it really helps your body RELAX and REPAIR!

Mostly, it takes a lot longer than you think it will when you start; I figured I’d be done in 4 or 5 days, but between indecision, weather conditions and my own physical limitations, it took over 3 weeks to finish!

The desired effect was ultimately achieved, however. The color feels calm and the fence almost disappears in some light.

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Entertainment

The Evolution of Stephen Bochco

We’ve been revisiting some of our favorite TV shows lately… much like Vacationing In Sorkin World – only now noticing a few new things from the perspective of the passage of time. Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, HILL STREET BLUES hasn’t aged as well as Bochco’s later shows; we couldn’t even manage slogging thru the entire first season. But rewatching the first couple years of L.A. LAW were like eating candy! We were initially enthralled with COP ROCK when it aired in 1990 and still find it compelling. Likewise, seeing the first couple seasons of NYPD BLUE again is proving to be immensely satisfying!

My dad was an enthusiastic if discriminating TV watcher, and I remember him laughing with joy, recounting the antics of Detective Andy Sipowitz. It only occurred to me upon this current viewing how many similarities there were between my dad’s father and Andy; both of them recovering alcoholics, smartasses, pottymouths and immensely proud of their sons’ joining the military. While Bochco didn’t ace every aspect of his writing (notably his depiction of women), IMHO, he got a lot of things right on NYPD BLUE.

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excellence, learning, music biz

All In The Game

I had a realization tonight – an insight that had eluded me for as long as I can remember, which is that my career has been stymied by my own resistance to playing the game.

I’ve gone to extremes to learn the rules of the game, to get to know the players and their strategies. And then I’ve turned my back on this knowledge, insisting that “it shouldn’t be that way – it’s not fair! – that’s not how the game should be played!”

Flavortown!! Ever been there?? Funny how I got hip to Guy’s Grocery Games after watching a few episodes (well, okay – MORE than a few!) I saw that no matter how delicious any given dish was, (created from the insanely limited food list allowed), no matter how many nummy-sounds the judges made, if the chef hadn’t incorporated the prescribed ingredients according to the rules of the game, that chef would go home empty-handed. The Winner, while perhaps not as accomplished or skillful at creating wonderful FOOD as other contestants, would have ACED the game requirements, thereby prevailing and sweeping up the prize.

There are always excuses that can be made to explain failure, and sometimes I’ve hidden in the comfort they provide. But I think the truth in many instances is that I wasn’t willing to play the game, to kiss the Pope’s ring, to do whatever it took to succeed. I’m still not sure exactly why I made those choices, but tonight while listening to a recording of THEY’RE GONNA LOVE ME, I heard the bitterness and anger in my voice, my refusal to worship the dead gods of jazz at the expense of the living mortals. And I understood.

The good news is that there’s actually more to life than Winning The Game. And there are always other games to play.

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growing up, self-acceptance

Lynnsie, Go Home!

When I was in 4th grade, a classmate and I used to walk home from school together. Lynnsie was a very lonely girl – she may have been an only child whose mom, unlike mine, wasn’t waiting for her after school. In any event, she almost invariably wanted to hang out together much longer than I wanted to, and I had to tell her that I had other stuff to do – hence the title of this post. My family thought I was being cruel – and I definitely was being rude – but Lynnsie never took a hint and had to be repeatedly told that she’d overstayed her welcome. As much as my parents tried to make me feel guilty about telling Lynnsie to go home, I never did. I wasn’t exactly proud of my behavior, but my parents had also taught me to be self-reliant and I knew even at 8 years old that I was responsible for how I spent my time and in whose company I spent it.

Due to pandemic stay-at-home orders, we’ve all had plenty of time of late to consider who’s in our lives and why they remain. I peek in on friends via social media more often than I make phone calls nowadays. I actually began writing this blog with ruminations about former friends, and I continue to puzzle over the disappearance of certain people from my life. It isn’t exactly “ghosting”, but I think we DO amend our interests, priorities and affections over time, and definitely change what kind of treatment we will tolerate.

I’m not alone in this – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/930e6df4-582b-4ec0-bc21-cb26613cd6f1

How much of an explanation do we owe other people when we recoil from them? I used to assume that everything needed to be totally understood before it could be accepted, but then I learned the hard way that some things are never explained adequately, and yet we have to keep living. Bottom-line, a lot of people are like Lynnsie (and I include myself!); we’re a bit in denial about unpleasant realities. Whose job is it to “make it alright”?

While the Golden Rule is a great ideal, there are limits. Ultimately it’s our own job to make peace with how things actually are. As my dad used to say, “nobody can take your bath for you.”

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