where do the poor go when all the tenements are gone?


now playing: pure prairie league, “something in the night”


there’s been a lot of publicity, a lot of dialogue of late, about elliot spitzer and his crusade to rid the music industry once and for all of the payola cloud that has hung over radio since (presumably) the halcyon days of rock an roll…

assuming he’s able to accomplish this, i can’t help but wonder what will take its place…what mechanism becomes the accepted means of delivery to the aimlessly wandering program directors who are accustomed to being told what to do when they show up to work every day?

before i get both feet on my soapbox, i want to share a couple of recent articles on the subject (those who wish not to read can place their index finger on the scroll button now):

Broken Record


THIS is not a pretty picture,” declared Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, at a press conference on Monday to trumpet his office’s yearlong investigation into corrupt dealings between big music companies and broadcasters. “What we see is that payola is pervasive. It is omnipresent. It is driving the industry and it is wrong.” But the picture might look a little different to Mr. Spitzer were he to pick up a few history books.

The music industry’s use of bribes to buy exposure for songs actually long predates broadcasting and was one of the defining traits of the New York-centered empire of melody known as Tin Pan Alley. To reach as many ears as possible, music publishers in the late 19th century would ply itinerant vaudeville performers with gifts to carry their most promising melodies across the country by rail. If audiences liked what they heard, the publishers would profit from the sale of copyrighted sheet music. Star singers stood to make as much from pay-for-play as they did from their theatrical salaries; even essentially nonmusical acts like jugglers and dancers that had musical accompaniment enjoyed some trickle-down benefit from the system. So did the shills who were paid to sit in the cheap seats and applaud for or sing along with a given song.

With the advent of silent movies, Tin Pan Alley publishers took measures to motivate theater organists and pianists to incorporate specific melodies into the medleys they played. A payola-supported class of entertainers called “illustrated slide singers” projected still photographs subtitled with song lyrics before the movie showings and invited the audience to sing along while “following the bouncing ball.” When movies switched to sound, the organists and slide singers disappeared, but the music publishers struck up new promotional romances with Hollywood studios.

When radio came along in the 1920’s, Tin Pan Alley greeted it about as warmly as today’s music conglomerates have greeted the Internet. As far as songwriters and publishers were concerned, all broadcasting did was overexpose potential hit songs before they could reach their profitable prime. In fact, radio was magically expanding the market for musical goods: it used to take months to infect the public with hunger for a particular tune, and hits would remain current for up to two years. Radio shrank the life cycle of a hit first to months and eventually to weeks, meaning that more songs could be turned into moneymakers.

By the early 1930’s, the NBC network was openly musing about formalizing the covertly entrenched pay-for-play practices by charging music publishers a flat rate for each exposure of a new song. The weakness of this plan was that the era’s star bandleaders and singers would have never put up with it because that would have interfered with their own payola arrangements.

But by the 1940’s, singers and bandleaders had to share the take with the emerging disc jockeys, with the latter coming into their own as the gatekeepers of pop music in the 1950’s, when television usurped radio’s place as the nation’s alpha medium and encouraged the courtship of a youth demographic. Around 1955, middle-class white teenagers decided en masse to tune out the likes of Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Andy Williams in favor of Chuck Berry, Wanda Jackson and Elvis Presley. Soon thereafter, politicians, the press, the clergy, P.T.A.’s and other moralists seized on pay-for-play arrangements to explain the unfathomable success of such a degraded musical idiom as rock ‘n’ roll: the poor innocents had been bamboozled by corrupt D.J.’s into thinking that Elvis could sing. In a ludicrous series of Congressional show hearings, rock D.J.’s who spun records by black artists got pilloried, while those who favored the white-faced pop à la Pat Boone walked away unharmed.

The moral panic over rock ‘n’ roll brought about incoherent legal changes that would only worsen payola’s worst effects. Radio companies handcuffed their D.J.’s by forbidding them to broadcast songs not on approved playlists, but that only shifted the song-picking power higher up the corporate ladder and further out of sight, thus raising the price and favoring large record labels over small ones of the kind that led the rock revolution. Nonsensically, the rewritten rules also permitted music companies to lobby broadcasters generally while forbidding them to make specific efforts on behalf of individual songs.

Music professionals have always agreed that hits cannot be bought. To this day, when a label backs the wrong song, it loses money. Moreover, systems of “bribery” analogous to payola operate in many retail markets. Most supermarket chains, for example, make a chunk of their revenue from “slotting fees,” which are the rents that food distributors pay them for shelf space. That such rents are paid says nothing about the flavor or nutritional value of any given item on the shelves. Where music is concerned, however, the concept of payola somehow seems intuitively revolting.

Yet, like it not, every popular song you’ve ever loved has reached you via some chain of pay-for-play machinations. The technological landscape has changed over time, as have the laws supposedly governing music promotion, but payola has been as constant and pervasive a force as gravity for more than a century now. A rational set of regulations would probably acknowledge this reality and aim at leveling the playing field so that small players can compete against big ones, just as they used to do in the early heyday of rock ‘n’ roll, when tiny labels like Sun briefly had the likes of RCA on the ropes.

Mr. Spitzer is doing his duty by enforcing the existing laws. But he might want to at least acknowledge that earlier attempts to kill payola, when they had any effect at all, have tended to leave the beast stronger.

Cliff Doerksen, a film critic for Time Out Chicago, is the author of “American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age.”

The Price of Fame

WHEN Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney general, announced this week that his office had settled payola allegations with Sony BMG Music Entertainment, he documented how record companies get songs on the radio as part of a corrupt system that few understand.

I certainly didn’t understand it – until my band, Semisonic, found itself flying around the country in 1996, visiting radio stations and ingratiating ourselves to program directors, just as our debut single, “Down in Flames,” was about to be released.

Knowing that our record company, MCA, would deduct our promotional expenses from the band’s share of future record sales, I kept tabs on our costs – flights, meals, hotels. After visiting stations in a few cities across the country, I estimated we had spent close to $20,000. If that figure was accurate, we’d have to sell tens of thousands of records just to pay for this transcontinental jaunt. I called our manager. How much had we spent on promotion overall? Close to $500,000.

This was my introduction to the pay-for-play system, one element of which is broadly referred to as payola. As I learned, the bulk of our promotional dollars had gone to independent record promoters, gatekeepers who control access to the airwaves. The promoters pay commercial radio stations, putatively to look at their playlists, but in reality, as those in the business know, to get their clients’ songs on the air. Then they charge record companies for their efforts.

Thus, the cost of promoting a new song, nationwide, can be hundreds of thousands of dollars – money that is taken out of whatever the musicians earn from their recording. This standard method of getting airplay circumvents payola laws, which forbid a radio station from accepting a payment to play a song without disclosing that payment to its listeners. Because the promoters pay the stations up front and collect later from record companies, the lines are sufficiently blurred, making it hard to prove that any quid pro quo transaction took place between a label and a station.

We also played at radio-station festivals, where our appearance assured us at least a modest degree of airplay. (One executive referred to this practice as “Show-ola.”)

Other shady methods were employed on our behalf – “You don’t want to know,” one person on the MCA promotion staff told me. The goal, of course, was to get a single on the radio and keep it there as long as possible to win over listeners. (The longer something new is on the air, the greater the chance that people will grow to like it.)

Thus, I was not surprised by the details from his investigation that Mr. Spitzer shared: memos outlining payments in return for spins; contests where a station flies lucky listeners to exotic destinations to hear a band perform, sponsored by a record label in return for airplay; a flat-screen television that was supposed to be given away on air finding a home in a program director’s living room.

That’s not to say there isn’t another side to the story. One person I know, a man with a long history of taking unknown bands to platinum sales, does not look forward to the day when money can’t buy airplay. “How will new bands get played?,” he asked, talking to me on the condition that I not name him.

It’s not an unreasonable question. I know from personal experience that most program directors are reluctant to find slots in their playlists for new artists.

That same person complains that payola is misunderstood: “You can’t buy a hit. You can only buy a chance for a song to become a hit.” Again, his point is valid. There are countless artists who have seen their future sales revenues eaten up by promotional costs for singles that went nowhere. In the case of my band, MCA spent more than $1 million in radio promotion on our behalf, and we had only one big hit.

In 1998, MCA released our song “Closing Time.” As with our previous singles – which failed to win over the public’s ears – the early research by radio stations seeking to gauge how listeners might react to the song was not promising. However, MCA’s promotional efforts kept it on the air until listener responses swung in our favor. Once “Closing Time” took off, radio stations wouldn’t let go of it. When MCA wanted to release our follow-up single, the promotion department asked program directors to ease “Closing Time” out of heavy rotation to make room for our next song. Many stations refused, citing its continued popularity.

Payola gets a song on the radio. If it becomes a hit, radio works it to death. In this day of consolidated radio ownership and programming, my friend suggests, eliminating payola could mean that commercial stations would become even more monotonous, if that can be imagined.

To my mind, however, the difficulty of picturing a world beyond payola is reason enough to cheer Eliot Spitzer along. Payola restricts access to the public airways; only artists whose labels are willing and able to pay get played. Listeners who might enjoy something else won’t hear it from stations on the take. And when fans go to the record store, they’ll find that payola has driven up the price of CD’s.

By the end of our three-album run with MCA, Semisonic had sold close to two million records, but we were a long way from recouping the costs of radio promotion. Thus musicians, even some who have benefited from payola, will applaud Mr. Spitzer, even as they wonder what chance he has of bringing about vast structural reform. Knowing what it takes to get their songs on the radio and watching their share of record sales swallowed up along the way, most recording artists would love to see the current system brought down, even if they can’t imagine what would replace it.

Jacob Slichter is the author of “So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales From a Drummer’s Life.”

the inmate-run asylum

now playing: jackson browne, “the night inside me”

i stopped by the kids’ house last night to drop off the digital camera and an assload of batteries for jayda, whos’ on a bus to boston as we speak for a weekend field trip to harvard university with her upward bound class. her awards banquet was on wednesday, and she came home with an armful of awards…there are essentially two kinds of awards that they give – awards for excellence, which are academic awards, and awards of achievement or recognition, which are essentially awards for effort or for making an impact on the class in some other way.

she came home with excellence awards in chemistry, geometry and composition literature – those i remember. there were five in all, including her perfect attendance certificate…and then she appeared twice in the talent show – once singing with a rapper, and she closed the show out singing a slow, smoky christina aguilera song called “walk away”.

it was definitely her day.

dylan went with me to the awards presentation, and then we bolted with just enough time to stop for a quick bite before i dropped him off and headed to the night’s performance of “tommy” – which was marred with some negative publicity from last saturday night’s show due to someone sneaking in the back door and groping some of the girls as they were coming on and off the stage. however, there were more people in the audience after the newspaper article than there were the initial weeknight show, so again the old adage – “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” – rings true.

i often think about what it is that motivates people and their actions…and where the city of reading, pennsylvania is concerned, it often stymies me completely.

this is a city full of dilapidated row homes, corner markets and one way streets…where people will walk out into oncoming traffic and then flip you the bird and yell at you when you don’t come to a stop in the middle of the street so they can cross. a city where someone will park their car in the middle of the street with their emergency flashers on and leave it there indefinitely without a thought as to whether it’s an obstacle or not, and they won’t care that there’s an open parking space a few car lengths from where they elected to stop – to them, that’s not relevant.

injuries and deaths related to gunshot wounds are very nearly routine in the city…as are drug and gang-related crime. when i lived in the city limits, i was burglarized a total of four times – twice in my apartment and twice in the van. i now pay well over twice what i paid for rent in the city to minimize worry about such things.

in berks-county-speak, the phrase “the city” has overwhelming negative connotations, no matter how you say it, no matter what inflection your voice carries when the words are spoken…if you talk about going into “the city”, driving through “the city”, going to work in “the city”, sending your kids to school in “the city”, there’s absolutely no hope for a positive spin on it. there’s nothing you can do or say to change that here – it is what it is, and it’s been reinforced for at least one generation that i’ve been witness to, and it isn’t likely going to go anywhere.

and things like what happened at the theatre last weekend only go to prove that the negative mindset that people have about “the city” is, at least in part, justified.

but when does “the city” stop perpetuating its shitty image and turn itself around? when do they say, “y’know, we’re kinda tired of being the human toilet of berks county, and we’re not gonna reinforce this mindset any more”?

well, i’ve come to think that will happen on the day that the gunshots die down, on the day that you can drive through the city without dodging double-parked cars and pedestrians with their middle finger in the air before they step off the sidewalk…when a local entrepreneur can sink a substantial amount of money into rennovating a theatre for the public to patronize and appreciate without the city having to post bike cops in the parking lot and sentries in the hallways during performances to keep the peace.

in other words, when the most vocal and visible occupants of the city – the ones responsible for maintaining the stereotype that the naysayers cling to – decide that things will be different, then they’ll be different. in this scenario, the people who would truly like to see positive change in the city are in the distinct minority…and powerless as a result. the future of reading belongs to the punks, the thugs, the jaywalkers and the backdoor gropers – not to the residents who would prefer a citywide facelift, in terms of both landscape and perception.

i’ve come to believe that this isn’t going to happen, though…which brings me back to questioning their motivation…why would anyone want to keep that particular face forward? to keep property values low and rents manageable?

most of it, when you boil it down to its root causes, stems from apathy. but then again, so much of what’s wrong with the world around us today has its roots there to begin with.

i can’t figure it out. seriously.


today’s slightly embarrasing moment is brought to you by…

now playing: keith urban, “the hard way”

keith urban, for making me cry in traffic.


You’ve got your own way of looking at it baby
I guess that proves that I got mine
Seems like our hearts are set on automatic
We say the first thing that comes to mind
It’s just who we are baby
we’ve come too far to start over now
I know what you’re thinkin’
I’m not always easy to be around

But I do love you
You keep me believin’ that you love me too
And I know it’s true
This love drives us crazy
but nobody’s walkin’ away
So, I guess we’ll to do it the hard way

If I had a genie in a bottle
Three wishes I could wish for us
I wish we’d live forever and get along together
Turn these tempers into trust…

right there, folks. today’s kick-ass lyric: turn these tempers into trust.

someone at work brought a pair of his discs over yesterday and asked me to make copies for them, so i comped myself a pair as well…i was listening to one of them in the car driving back to work this afternoon, and i can’t get this song out of my head.

so thanks, keith, you aussie prick.

(you know i’m only kiddin’, right, keith? keith?)

my brain is scrambled today…with work issues, with vivid memories of a dream i had last night that embodies loss like nothing i’ve experienced in my waking hours for quite some time, with a million other things…with ideas and thoughts about this project that i’ll be immersing myself in shortly, with the roles of those i want to involve in it and how they’ll take to it…

tomorrow, though, will offer some respite from what this week has thrown at me, and even though it’s not here yet, i’m already grateful for it.


happy 91st birthday, dad…

now playing: simon apple, “weight of the world”

last night, my son walks into the office where i’m sitting at my computer, working on a vocal-less mix of a christina aguilera song for my daughter to sing to at her talent show tomorrow…he’s carrying a bowl of ice cream with two candles in it, a number 1 and a number 9…they’re not lit, just stuck down into the ice cream.

he hands it to me at my desk and says “happy 91st birthday, dad.”

now, obviously, his math is a little convoluted…but the way i’ve felt thus far this week would make it an honest guess on the part of anyone with the capability to inhabit my body for an hour or so. coming to work and sitting in a darkened room all day doesn’t help…not even a little. i feel pretty much spent…combination of a lack of sleep and sitting in the conference room with the lights out.

but, as it stands, the dreaded day has come and gone now. i’ve officially crossed the threshold into the valley of the over the hill crowd.

this particular landmark will probably evolve in much the same manner as my mothers’ death…no real significant impact until after it’s had time to sink in and become a part of my daily reality. i don’t feel any older, and i haven’t really allowed myself to think about the fact that i’ve hit this particular milestone.

out of mind, out of sight, so to speak.

i have a project that i’m going to be diving into headfirst after this run of tommy is over, and once i’m fully into it and working on it regularly and feeling like it’s time to bring it out of the closet, i’ll discuss it (probably at length) here…for right now, a few friends know about it and that’s about it. i have the necessary approval to move forward with it, but i want to make sure that i have a home for it and that it has the necessary trappings of legitimacy before i start to shoot my mouth off here.

between that and the constant offers of membership in any number of bands (some of which i’ve entertained, some of which i’ve sidestepped before they got too terribly out of hand), i don’t think i’ll be hurting for projects once i complete this one.

jayda has her annual awards banquet for upward bound tomorrow afternoon – should be interesting to see how she makes out, since just a couple of weeks ago she came home with three student of the week awards…in chemistry, latin, and CompLit.

speaking of which…i forgot to turn in a PTO form for tomorrow. shit.

but then again, this is coming from the guy whose phone has been out since an electrical storm almost two weeks ago, and has yet to call the phone company to get it fixed.

which tells the astute reader that maybe i should be looking at what not to do after tommy is no more, as opposed to how much i can cram on my plate.

ok, that’s it. last night off this week. i’m done for now.


distance by omission

now playing: simon apple, “katherine”

so, tommy is officially underway…

i can’t see anything that’s going on down on stage level from where we are…as opposed to the normal setup, the band isn’t actually “in the pit”, for there is no pit…we’re playing in a loft that overlooks the stage from the back, but due to the various backdrops, etc., that are suspended behind the stage, we are invisible to the audience and the actors, and they are invisible to us. the only one of us with some degree of visibility is jeff, the keyboard player…which is a good thing, because he’s the one who cues our stops and starts more often than not.

the place was pretty full on friday night…and to my absolute shock, they managed to clean it up and make the place look almost presentable…all the carpet remnants, the drywall pieces, the crap that was strewn all over the place – all gone. i can’t imagine how much work that was, and i have no idea who did it.

the band played incredibly well, both nights…i had two small gaffes, probably not even noticed by anyone in the audience…and i only counted my own. i heard a thing or two here and there from the other guys, but nothing major. we had our best night on friday night – saturday night was (to use fred’s terminology) a little “juicy”. i don’t doubt that (from my perspective, anyway) that it had a little to do with my attitude.

after the show on friday night, i picked up a program and started reading through it, and found (to my initial dismay) that my name appeared nowhere in it. seriously, nowhere. now, the directors’ girlfriend is listed as a musician because she pretends to play trombone for a passage in a song, and the understudy bass player who is on call for two gigs is listed as a band member, but i’m nowhere to be found..in the program, on the official posters, nowhere.

fred is all over it…as are the guys from simon apple. but not a word about me.

i was pissed until i realized that if this thing flops, it’s probably best not to be too closely associated with it…and based on the number of people who showed up on saturday night, that’s a very distinct possibility. buzz, the drummer, looked out before we started, and said that the place might be half full…

i said, “well, yeah…all the parents came last night, man. they’re on their own now.”

so, as i said before the show started on saturday night…i’m pretty much over the slight in the program. i won’t lie and say it won’t figure extremely prominently in any decision i might make regarding future participation in one of these little events, but i’m past being pissed about it.

i’m not quite through being pissed about being chased out of the parking lot on saturday night, though…

some dude with a handful of programs comes up to me as i’m getting out of my car and asks if i’m there to see the show…i say, “well, i’m actually supposed to play for the show…”

he says, “well, we reserve these parking spaces for patrons…so if it wouldn’t be too much trouble…”

i said, “where were you last night?” he of course asks why i ask, and i said that i parked there last night without any complaint….he says that he surprised that fred didn’t tell us not to use the lot, and i countered with “i’m not, because i parked right next to him last night.”

that was really the end of the conversation…well, actually, he kept talking but i ignored him and got back into my car and drove back down tenth street. buzz pulled up as i was getting into my car and i said something to him along the lines of “hey, dude…you’re not supposed to park here…” he looked at me kinda funny, then looked at the douchebag with the programs standing next to me and he must’ve realized i was serious, because he got back into his car and pulled out right behind me.

so now, thankfully, i have other issues to pin my absolute refusal to do another theatre gig on that aren’t quite so egocentric.

did that little bit of icing on the cake affect my performance on saturday night?

maybe. i dunno.

but at any rate, after the last note was played on saturday night, i split and went to pick wendy up…we had a date to meet up with buzz and his girlfriend sue at their place – we went on a beer sojourn that afternoon to hold up our end of the bargain, and buzz made this fantastic chicken in a mushroom sauce, and i ate probably quite a bit more than i should have…some of the folks who were supposed to come as well didn’t make it, so there was plenty…we ate and talked and listened to music and such until around 3am…

and while there’s much i want to say about some of the things we talked about, i’m not sure just yet that i’m willing to delve into it.

i will say simply this…there’s something terribly, terribly wrong with a world in which a persons’ life can be irreversibly changed with no recourse available to him, simply based on the unfounded words of another human being…words later proven to be completely false.

i used to wonder how it was that domestic violence and sheer acts of hatred were so common between people who must have had some sort of emotional connection at one time or another….i was so much younger then. i’m older than that now.

having been through a divorce, and having been witness to some of the divisive tactics that people use to drive wedges between children and their parents (not my own experience, i should quickly point out), it’s a lot easier for me to understand now…why it is that people take the law into their own hands, how it’s possible for someone to become so angry that they’d do something so violent to another human being…

i don’t think i’m personally capable of it, but then again, i haven’t been through anything that compares with the story that i heard over the weekend.

not even close.

thankfully, i’m still a believer in karma…and i put a lot of stock into the knowledge that this is far from over.

i hope he does, too.


no reason to be over-optimistic…

now playing: jackson browne, “your bright baby blues”

well, this is it, folks.

tonight, it’s sink or swim for the tommy thing.

rehearsals this week have been nothing short of pandemonium…chaos has been the rule of the day.

the theatre, which was supposed to have just undergone a complete facelift, is a shambles…there are carpet remnants lying about, theatre seats lying in the middle of the floor in the balcony, drywall leaning up against the wall up there, and all manners of crap strewn around the place. i can’t imagine how they’re going to make this place look anything like a room that’s undergone all this work based on what i saw last night and during the course of rehearsals this week.

the cast seems very upbeat, in the face of some serious odds against them, but then a lot of them seem rather new to this whole process. there are some familiar faces among them from JCS, but there are a lot of high school age kids in this thing too…they have no idea what it means to be mic’ed up for a show like this (constant chatter from the cast coming through the monitors up in the loft where the band is, and that can only mean that it’s coming through the mains as well), and i’m assuming that they must have some pretty intense faith that this is all just gonna work itself out.

and maybe it will, in spite of the scatterbrained director…maybe they’ll make this work in spite of all the last minutes directives and changes to the blocking and crap like that.

and maybe the folks who come to see this will be willing to overlook the crap lying about in the theatre itself, and the mumbling coming from the sound system…

all i know is this…

when we first started this thing, fred said that he didn’t really care if the play sucked or not…but that the band would not suck.

let me tell ya, man…he was right. this is an amazing band. jeff, the keyboard player and buzz, the drummer, are both veterans of the JCS band and have been playing together for ages in a band called simon apple. they’re amazing. in addition to fred, we have a babyfaced bass player named gene orlando whos’ been doing a great job of picking this whole thing up. i sense that he’s still a little nervous about this at times, but he’s becoming a pro in the process. i told him the other night that when i was younger still than he is now, i was playing in bands with guys twice my age…and that he’s right where he needs to be right now.

so…if you’re in the reading area, and you want to hear a great band, and you’re up for a display of the human comedy that is flying by the seat of your pants, stop by and see us.

you might dig it…although it might not be entertaining in the way that they intended.


what we have in mind is breakfast in bed for a couple dozen…


now playing: charlie degenhart, “gone to grey”


so i took the day off on friday and drove to my friend jons’ in connecticut for a pure prairie league show, and ended up staying saturday as well…

i saw people i hadn’t seen in years, enjoyed some great food, good company, and awesome music…oh, and i played a few songs myself, even. it was a great gesture on jon and georgina’s part, and i appreciate it a lot. good friends are a real commodity.

i had to decline a gig for the day, and from what i’ve heard in the aftermath, it’s probably a good thing…

i talked to my buddy keith this morning on the phone, and it sounds as though it was an exercise in the application of murphys’ law – an all-day, torrential rainfall, coupled with a tractor trailer full of sound equipment stuck in the mud that required the assistance of a backhoe and a great deal of gravel to unstick, a clause in the contract that required that two separate sound systems be provided (apparently the promoter had to pay $6500 for the headliner to bring his sound, but it was specified that it would only be used by the headliner, so he had to provide a secondary system for the other two bands on the bill). then the headliner couldn’t be bothered to show up on time for soundcheck, then dawdled through the whole thing…and when the gates opened as scheduled and people started filing in for the show, he flipped out and demanded that the place be completely emptied until he was finished with his soundcheck. by the time he was done, there was barely time for the first band (my friends’ band) to soundcheck, and the other band didn’t soundcheck at all. then the two opening bands were only alloted 20 or so minutes a piece for their sets, because the headliner refused to go on later than scheduled.

so, really…the only thing that didn’t go wrong would be the absence of a lightning-related incident or some form of terrorist attack. i’ve heard some nightmare stories before, but – wow. just wow.

the one good thing that sprang from the whole thing is that they were invited back to the same venue to play a set on the bill with another national act in august, so at least the situation was recognized for what it was and they were offered some form of compensation for it.

if the gods choose to smile on us, i’ll be playing that show with them…if they want me to.

when i have more time, i’m going to have to put a permanent link on the journal to my yahoo calendar on here somewhere…certain people are already hip to it, but i need to make it a little more readily available to a larger number of people, i think. it makes scheduling things a lot easier when anyone who could potentially need your time can see what you have going on at a particular point. and there have been a couple of times of late when a certain amount of confusion and, dare i say, double booking, could have been avoided if i’d done so…and if i’d been more diligent about putting things on it at the point that i committed to doing them.

my life is one where chaos seems to be the rule of the day way more often than it should…and i’ve given a lot of lip service to trying to attack that issue and make it less so. time to put my money where my mouth is.


false start….offense…three week penalty…repeat first down

now playing: marty higgins, “driving her home”

i think the hardest thing about letting too much time go by between entries is the overwhelming nature of what to write once you sit down to resume your routine…do you try to touch on everything that’s happened, or do you just take up where you stand and go from there?

i don’t really have an answer to that question, but for once, i’m not going to let that keep me from trying to trudge through an entry for once. i’ve started several, and finished none…ranging in subject matter from why i’ve had a hard time sitting down and collecting my thoughts of late to the usual updates from everyones’ lives around me to just general rambling…and all of those entries are flying around on flashdrives in unfinished form, waiting to be posted but unfinished nonetheless.

i’ll admit to thinking a lot about shutting this down over the course of the past couple of weeks, for various reasons – from a general sense of discomfort with the number of people who stop here on a regular basis to a creeping laziness, where sitting down and collecting my thoughts is concerned. but the fact is, i’m not really so much uncomfortable with people stopping here and reading my thoughts (no matter how personal they might be)…i just always find myself a little unsettled when i bump into someone and they tell me that they read my journal all the time. i don’t know why it is that this rattles me, but it feels strange to hear that from people…i’ve always thought of this as my little private space, somehow. i know how completely delusional it must sound to say that i post things on the internet and then consider them private, but it’s always felt like a small group of people here, in terms of who leaves comments and the like. then i take a look at the counter and realize that this couldn’t possibly be true.

but i’ve always tried to walk this imaginary line, where this space is concerned…and i’ve tried to be as personally honest as i can…which is to say, make statements about my own feelings, my own experiences, my own “stuff”, and to have whatever drama that readers might siphon from all this to be from my own perspective, and not to point fingers, to call names, or to rant too excessively (except where certain political figures are concerned…then all bets are off). so i’m going to try to continue to be personally honest, and to try and avoid the temptation to censor myself when things become uncomfortable for me. i also have to respect the wishes and the feelings of others who’ve made it clear to me that they’re not necessarily interested in having their roles in my life laid bare before the cyber-masses. there are times when it’s hard to tell my own story without bringing others into it, but i will do so in order to preserve the peace, as it were.

anyway, there’s a lot that’s happened over the course of the past few weeks, but for right now, there are two things that i’ve seen just today that i seem most inclined to share here…

on the way back from lunch today, i saw written in three foot high letters on the concrete beneath an overpass, the words “i still love you”.

even though i had no role in that whatsoever, it still warmed the bowels of my heart.

on the way to work this morning, i saw a glaring testament to optimism and faith.

a man, easily in his mid-to-late fifties, wearing the most hideous hairpiece i’d ever seen…

…driving his convertible – FAST – with the top down.

as soon as something resembling an opportunity comes about, i’ll try to recap some of the past few weeks’ events…tell you all about dylan’s broken thumb…all about my next album project, which is now all but on the books to begin work towards, and whatever else i’ve missed…

…but right now, it’s just so hard to set aside that kind of time….