Dave pulls into the Amoco on 27th and University at 8:15AM. This is the same Amoco Dave has gone to for the last eighteen months, ever since he got his different car and quit going to the 76 on East River Road because they ripped him off one time too many for repairs on his old car. Dave gets out his credit card and inserts it in the slot of Pump Number Two. “One Moment Please,” it says, then, after a couple of minutes: “Please Pay Cashier.” Try it again; same thing. Once more, this time he thinks to “Remove Card Quickly,” like it says. Nothing. [Read more…]
Here’s a collection of half-baked ideas, off-the-wall, prejudiced, slanderous, idiotic, and unpatriotic opinons, including what Dave (and others) thinks is wrong with the world and most of its occupants.
Downtown Toledo and the National City Bank Building
Koerner, Ray and Glover played a gig at the Toledo Museum of Art in June, 2001. We’re staying the Radisson on the edge of downtown, so I’m walking around the loop, unwinding after the concert. It’s a smallish downtown, but well-preserved, with some classic Twenties and Thirties architecture. The phone building is particularly impressive, with its columnar style, huge grated windows and arched entryway. There’s a big doorway in the middle of what must be the fourth floor, on the alley side, that opens into the void. I don’t know what that was for – maybe there was an upper-level walkway to a since-demolished companion building; saved the workers from going all the way down to the street and back up again. [Read more…]
(Here’s a letter from a misused British citizen to his telecommunications provider. Those of us with a less-developed sense of style and a humbler command of the lingo can only wistfully aspire to such heights of reasoned complaint. Thanks to Marty for forwarding this piece.) [Read more…]
Let’s see about this parking meter deal that’s going on in Minneapolis. The meter guys are in the third year of a four-year plan to replace 6500 mechanical meters with electronic ones. This is a program that typifies City Management By The Unknowing. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the meter salesman gave the Council his pitch. I can just hear his raveup about the “newest” and “greatest” and “trouble-free” and “increased revenues.” But, dig it, these new meters run on a nine-volt battery. That’s right: a bunny battery, just like your average fuzz pedal or garage door opener uses. Have you ever left a battery driven device in your car for the night, like a forty-below night? Guess what? It doesn’t work!! Batteries don’t like the cold. The voltage drops to -0-. [Read more…]
Here’s the first rant, which is actually more of a plea. It dawned on me that what I write on these pages gets seen worldwide. I’m not that worried about offending my local friends and enemies (just ask any of them) but I’m a little uptight about getting a bottle in the head in some foreign country where maybe they don’t understand that these pages present me in My Country ’tis of Thee with a rare means for escaping the humdrum requirements of compromise, appeasement solicitude and, god forgive me, political correctness (as THEY are fond of calling the currently popular rendition of Everybody’s Right and Nobody’s Wrong).
As I sit here alone in my dim myopia, I feel like I can say anything I want to. So give me a break when you feel yourself boiling over at what a passive-agressive, dimwitted, gratuitous and grandiose dolt you’ve tuned into, and have the good grace to exit this site.
Everyone has an opinion about whether or not 12:01AM on January 1st, 2000 is the beginning of the Third Millennium. The sight of the big 2 preceeding the goose eggs and the ballyhoo surrounding the Y2K computer glitches has everyone excited. Astute observers agree that next year (2001) marks the rollover. Here are some sites that explain why, as usual, zero is at the root of this minor argument. Yes, your first birthday occurred after you already had a year’s worth of days completed. Yes, your first wedding anniversary marks the end of the first year of wedded bliss and the beginning of the second. [Read more…]
Here are a few of my random thoughts on the copyright issue.
I love mailbox money. When I get a royalty check, it really does something for me. I wish I had a few published tunes that had been covered by somebody bigtime so I could walk downstairs each morning and get the check from my publisher. So far, nothing, but this is the way I think it’s supposed to work. (I say “I think” because, like everything else that concerns the artist getting paid, this whole process is cloaked in as many layers of mystery and legal obfuscation as can be concocted by the armies of those who would prefer to live off the efforts of others. And, to be fair, some system has to exist to insure that the artist does get paid for his work): [Read more…]
[This came to me by email. I don’t know if it’s a transcription of one of Mason’s routines, or was lifted from print. I love this guy so much, I took it upon myself to put it up here and I hope I don’t make anybody mad by not even looking for clearance. It’s such a beautiful rant I figured everybody’s got to see it and we’ll figure out later how to pay Jackie for sharing it.] [Read more…]
Guys in jackets and ties walking into the pretty blue buildings downtown never get asked what they do all day, unless it’s by their wives, recalling “Angel From Montgomery,” and wondering if he can be gone eight hours and have nothing to report. Guys with ladders on top of their vans and tools in the back never get asked what they do all day. People don’t ask them because the assumption is there, based on the evidence of dress or implement, that these people work for a living. Most people could care less what someone else does all day, as long as it looks like what they do is productive and somehow conducive to an incremental increase in the GNP, or DNP or whatever it’s called these days. Try to make a living playing the guitar, though, and people are constantly asking you: “What do you do all day?” When I try to make an appointment to meet someone in the morning, they give me the wink and say, “You mean around 3:00?” If I tell them I’m too busy to see them in the next couple of days, they start with the “What do you do all day?” I guess they figure the guitar player’s life consists of rolling out around noon, kicking back in the Barca with a cold one, catching some ESPN, maybe take in a ball game, smoke a little rope, take a nap, have dinner, get driven to the gig, noodle for a couple hours, go back to chicken shack for a snack and little what-you-may-callit with the old lady and nod off around three AM. Maybe a few observers are acquainted with some of your more serious type of musicians who spend a lot of each day trying to decide which foods to eat and which pills to take to get them to just the right level of performance before they go to work that night. Most of these analysts must figure that musicians spend the whole day just thinking about their personal weltanschauung, you know, man, their space, and not much else.
I ran an insurance agency for fifteen years. Nobody ever asked me what I did all day. Nobody in their right mind would ask an insurance man what he did all day unless their Nembutal script just wasn’t strong enough and they really needed some winks. I once went to the trouble of cataloguing what my Finnish amanuensis and I did all day. It was 1986 and I thought we ought to automate our agency. I wanted to be able to justify the high cost of automation, so she and I kept a log for two weeks of what we did. By dint of heritage and fear of narrative, she was somewhat less than forthcoming in what she actually did all day. She had entries like: “answered the phone,” “wrote checks,” “filed,” “had lunch,” stuff like that, usually with no times attached. I put all my post-Catholic, workaholic, Germanic obsessive traits to good use by pencilling in the duration of phone calls, mileage for errands, applications filled, all the numbers any efficiency expert would love to see. When it was all over, the eighty-twenty rule was affirmed. Most of the tasks we accomplished were devoted to satisfying twenty percent of the clientele. We proceeded with automation, although it was pretty obvious the computer would never be able to do what we were doing. In those days, “paperless” was a bold dream and what the machine actually did was increase our workload by a factor of ten and nearly bankrupt our operation. By the time I sold the agency in 1996, the machine had fulfilled its Peter Principle goal of serving as an elaborate adding machine and typewriter. We still had drawers full of paper and we still had to go to the bank and we still had to use the telephone. The computer forced a certain organizational hierarchy into our thinking and our way of doing business that resulted in an unquantifiable gain in productivity but made us feel mainstream.
My point in relating this automation history is to let you know I’m no stranger to computers. If you’re not either, then you know what I’m talking about when I say that any answer to the question “What do you do all day?” must include a certain allotment to the care and feeding of the computer. I can’t work without a computer. When it’s doing a maintenance task and I can’t access it, I have nothing to do. All my work is connected to the machine: music programs for writing and recording, addresses and phone numbers, bookkeeping, this Web page, my schedule, my list of vitamins–everything. It’s been a slow, inexorable process and one from which there is no return: I’m cybernetically attached, like a life-support system. When I can’t use it, I have to resort to some really time-wasting, ephemeral busywork, like reading or practicing guitar, sleeping or vacuuming.
Except for major maintenance tasks, you won’t see in the following logs any of the time spent in file manicuring, error analysis, software grooming, learning programs, disk defragging, reindexing and all the myriad time-consuming tasks required to keep a clean hard drive and a sporty desktop. We nerds know how long it takes, the rest of you will have to accept that what might appear as too much time allotted to certain tasks is the overhead inherent in owning the machine.
Other than computer-related busywork, my time is spent like yours: looking for meaning in life and trying to stay Two Steps Ahead Of The Blues.
Most drivers, and it seems, especially men, hate to be given advice, admonishment or even praise about their activities behind the wheel. They would prefer to be left alone in their own world of driving, a world which ordinarily pivots around them and in which they never commit an error and the other driver is always wrong, pig-headed and should be deprived of his or her license.
Knowing this, I offer the following advice to the driver of the late-model GM sedan, license number 75_ MWX, with whom I had the dubious pleasure of sharing Highway 52 northbound near Zumbrota at around 10:20pm on 14-Dec-98, in the spirit of the season: open, humanistic, affirming and sharing. [Read more…]
I’ve taken some hits to the working musician body for including on my latest CD, Snake Eyes, and on the Blackburn-Beach CD, a Mercy Dee Walton tune entitled “One Room Country Shack” that includes the original lyric:
“I’m going to leave here early in the morning,
I’m about to go out of my mind [repeat]
I’ve got to find some kind of companion,
Even if she’s deaf, dumb, crippled and blind.”
Objections included, but were not limited to, the sexist nature of this lyric–the ‘any port in a storm’ mentality it conveys, and to the use of the unenlightened terms in the last line. [Read more…]
I don’t work with numbers. I never did well in math at school and, besides, my taste for figuring has been corrupted by the daily intake of the news which always includes improbable mathmatical and arithmetic backup for indefensible positions. Like my old man always said, “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” So, I’m not too interested in the arithmetic of the airport. I like to throw a few digits out once in a while, but they’re for illustrative purposes only and don’t purport to be accurate. I do know something about number perspective, though. When I say “rich people,” I mean those who make more than I do. When I say “poor people,” “slum-dwellers,” “inner-city prisoners,” “workers,” and “citizens,” I mean the rest of us. I know something about economics, too, even though I’m not a statistician. Some of my favorite terms in the field include: “pent-up demand,” “economies of scale,” and “too big to fail.” Finally, just so you know I’m qualified to deal with the subject at hand, I know something about community, the application of government to that community and the idea that economics is at the basis of successful community organization. [Read more…]