Friday, November 12, 2010


My 12 year-old got by it a year or so ago, finally coming to honest terms with herself about it; not only in her own mind, but as concerning the fact we told her a huge, heinous, spectacular lie.  Now, sure, we think it's cute that little kids are so trusting, endowing us so easily with the care of their young unspoiled souls, hearts, and minds as well as their physical aspects.  We love to see the wide-eyed wonder of their curiosity, their delight at having their fond desires met by a kindly grandfather who knows all, sees all, forgives and loves us.  It's a figure of our own desire to be cared for.  We relate to it, are captivated by it, wooed, and entertained... and we see it- and excuse it- as innocent.  Of course they'll learn that it's a mere crock of shit.  In fact, in an ideal Western World, their first run at dealing with crocks of shit and the disappointment they inevitably represent is the one called "Santa Claus".

It's not innocent to put kids through it though.  Put yourself back in those vulnerable shoes, and remember what it was really like to grow up with divorced parents, to find out your father's heart was long gone from you, or to hear, by the grapevine, that your girl/boy/best friend had betrayed you.  Santa Claus was your first lie, the first (and perhaps most brilliant) example of what this life would be delivering so much more of.

Our 10 year-old, in her almost aggressive leaning toward things bright and beautiful, hopeful and wholesome, is still holding tenaciously to the myth.  I don't know if- or how much- doubt has set in, but I'm pretty sure she knows she's alone in her enthusiasm at this point, so long before that season of wondrous magic and joyful celebration...  Last night she was in her room listening to Christmas music, making Christmas cards.  She was cutting up magazines with the big scissors, crafting Christmas wishes and blessings for her long list of loved ones.  I think she suspects...

And the part I don't look forward to isn't so much her view of me or her mother, but the fact she will end up feeling like a blame fool, and perhaps come to doubt the truth of anything that carries with it the power and promise of the impossible.  I think the fact we've made so much good into such a lie is the worst thing we could have done- especially to one for whom hope and faith are such a mainstay.  It was destructive, and boy am I sorry.

But she'll get over it.  Her sister did.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gas Relief Syndrome...

...The opposite of "Gear Acquisition Syndrome"...

So you know that post earlier, where I said I wasn't going to sell my bass amplification gear?  Well I sold most of it.  Yes, I did, and I'm really alright with it.  No rants!

The Bag End cabs and the GK 400RB head have their new home at The Mill, here in Greenville, RI.  The Mill is a small music academy/instrument refinishing and rebuilding shop/music venue here.  They have a nice live set up and can record shows or do 16 track sessions.  They now have their own very slick little bass rig, and the GK 400RB is a back-up head to the resident Ashdown Evo-II 500 head.  What a sound!  They needed a nice bass rig- the cab that had been there was nice too- an SWR Big Bertha 2x15, but it was on loan and finally went the way of all things on loan... so now they're set.  The local music scene is a little bit bettered for it, and I scored a little bread to help out with our scene here at home.

I have this now:

This plus a small, home-made pedal board (plywood with carpet stapled to it) with some essential effect and utility pedals on it, powered by a DC Brick power supply is all I actually need to play, make a gig happen.  I've picked up a nice little extension cab to go with this potent little box, and it's coming in a week or two.  Sounds great, and I still have a backup head.  I'll find an additional cab as I go, but for now this stuff will totally take care of needs.  Portable, sounds punchy and present, and it's already been beat up, so now all I have to do is play it!

I have found, finally, that I really like the 80's-90's Trace Elliot stuff (models no longer produced), and it's all I have now.  Fine.

Anyhow  you gotta do what you gotta do.  Meanwhile work is picking up, our relationship with kid's school is improving.  Money is still sucky, and now we're going to have a bad time in the USA with all the new attitude in congress.  Sorry, politics have to come in sometime- and the air is certainly thick with it.  Even our drummer is at the polar opposite end of the room with me politically, but we're playing music, and I'm not ruining that for something as superfluous as politics.  I like my new band, and hope it gets to play some music we want to play!

Speaking of, our guitar player brought me an Audio-Techinca AT RMX64 console/4-track cassette recorder, and I'm in the process of fixing it.  Maybe that'll be a blog... more later.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I'm finding myself gravitating towards a direction of creativity and resourcefulness concerning work and my ability to make bread, brought on by the desperate feel of our present economic chapter.  I've got  a 'Linked-in' page, I'm on 'Facebook' publishing photos of stuff I've done with/to wood in the context of home carpentry, as well as more novel applications, and I'm chasing down folks who have bits of my work installed in their homes to ask if I can come over and snap photos of it.  I hope it's all still standing- I do believe it is...

Today it's raining, and I'm sitting here plotting, editing photos, forming ideas and letters to send down the tube to prospective clients.  I'm really hoping to ramp into some other form of employment (I almost said 'excrement'!...) beside/instead of carpentry.  I have some pragmatic reasons for this as well as the more general, economy-derived concerns:  I have a condition known as 'Peripheral Neuropathy' which means my nerves send signal slowly along their paths to and from my brain.  Now I'm still quick on my feet, and reaction time, when I'm awake, is good.  But my hands and feet go numb-ish sometimes, and I have other limb/nerve issues as well.  I'm also very slight of build, and It's a drag to be dealing with cold weather in the context of manual labor.  I'm a scrawny bastard, see, and I have virtually no insulating properties to my physical being- no bulk, per se.  This means I get too cold when working outside in winter to be very effective for long; and "it's a drag" to go around being severely uncomfortable every day!  I don't see the need of it, so I'm looking for a novel approach to work, and hoping to find something near a reasonably dependable heat source.  Like South Florida, for example...

All that said, here's an example of a piece I built, off-the-cuff, for a fellow musician who's also a composer and performer of ancient music, Steven Jobe.  It's the stand for this custom-built 10' long, three-person-operated hurdy-gurdy (I'm pretty sure it's a one-of-a-kind instrument):

The stand, made of 3/4"plywood and minimal 2x framing lumber, is in two pieces, the cradle on top set around the top edge of the lower rolling base.  The instrument sits in its cradle, its resonant body effectively isolated from the cradle arms which are inclined at a 20-degree or so angle, facilitating manipulation of the melody-producing pull-handles by the performer.  Two additional helpers operate the three cranks at the bridge-end of the instrument, which activate two drone strings, and an addtional drone string that travels through a rhythmic "Clatter Bridge"... very medieval...

The 'gurdy's inception and execution was based on a painting by Heironymous Bosch called "The Garden of Earthly Delights", taken from the right-hand panel of the triptych, entitled "Hell".  Steve was composing some scores that involved the Bosch Hurdy-Gurdy as it was getting some final tuning-up from its builder after completion, and asked if I might be interested in building him something to hold it- so he could play it!  If he was going to perform with it, well it was going to be hard to sit such a device in one's lap and reach the melody keys.  Out came the wire-bound notebook, and a few days later there I was in the basement, sawdust and funny-looking jig-sawn plywood bits whirling about my head.  We seem to have nailed it:  The darn thing sounds very cool up in the air like that, and I'd say you'd be lucky to catch a performance from it.  Steve's got the thing 'wired' and it's a fun way to make some music.

*Next post I'll get the guy's name who built it!  Seems something one ought to know, sorry.

Anyway, the above is an example of where I'd like to go next with carpentry.  It's not fine furniture, I don't have those chops.  But it's form-after-function, and if I can make something that becomes invisible, but invaluable in use, that's what I'd like to be able to offer.

Another day, another bright idea.

I'd also like to do some writing, which is another reason for my "worrying" this blog page.  I don't know what it is exactly that I've got, but if I don't start forming up something then I'll never know!  So I ramble, hopefully...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Warning: Grievous Post... A Rant.

Too much to say, too little time to say it in…

On the way to driving my kids to school this morning, late- it was a hard morning- I found myself annoyed with my fellow drivers to the point of near-anger.  On the way home I repented, begrudgingly.  I realized the reason I'm so angry with humanity at times (often) is because I'm a part of it, and all the stupidity I see in my "fellow man" is light fare compared with what I myself exemplify.  I'm worse than my complaints about other people, and I find that discouraging to say the least...the crimes committed against my own self even bare witness...

...I allowed some misdirected people to take the wheel at a time in my younger years, to drive the leading edge of my life, so as to bring myself to utter shipwreck, leaving a trail of broken hearts and personal destruction to myself and to those who actually loved me.  Since turning my back with deflated heart, for the benefit of that twisted situation, ( a long and arduous story) on true, neon-lit, pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow opportunity for success in a field I still love as my first choice, I now live hand-to-mouth working low-end carpentry jobs to fight off the bank from the borders of my children's house and inheritance.  I can't even attain the simplest of life's pleasures without holding my nose above water- not only financially but often emotionally as well.  One gets tired of continually knowing they've allowed their hopes to be stolen from them- even handed them over to The Enemy.  Especially when the rest of your life looks pretty reasonable!  I’m working on retrieving the remnant of them, sure, but damn… when you’ve screwed the years you could have used as investment in that good gift you had (still might have), you know you are going to remain sort of screwed.  It becomes a condition you learn to live with.  This morning,  however, is not going well.

Learning to live and survive, never mind thrive, has taken 49 years.  All the musical talent that might live and be realized in this coil is largely unattended, and no you can't just play and record music and dismiss work and responsibility to other people unless you're Jimmy Page or his ilk, and that's reasonable.  My wife and children have been redemption for all my stupidity, mistakes, sins, and embarrassments.  I love them and would trade them for nothing... in fact in a better moment I don't care about the rest of this tripe I'm punching out right now, before I go, late, to work!  But it does seem that so many people I know with a considerable musical gift have already had a day of it, had their decent time of making a life, and are either playing reunion shows, getting letters from their grandchildren, or forming new projects playing their 20-30- year personal favorite instruments.  I'm playing a used bass I've had now for 3 months, since I can't manage to keep anything I really love... I can groove a circle around most of the local scene within a 50-mile radius given some regular playing time and a venue, but I have nothing to show for it. Yes that's a flip remark and liable to get me in hot water with somebody, but I'm feeling it.  I'll repent later...

That's humanity for you.