Monday, December 31, 2007

Merry New Year!

It’s been a while since my last post, so while I’m sitting here at my desk in a virtually empty office waiting until I’m certain no one will call or email me requesting something, I’ll catch up here.

Had a great Christmas. My sister, her husband, and my nephew stayed at our place for the duration of their visit and I’d say it worked out perfectly. Katie had a bunk mate for the week and when the first bedtime came without her cousin she was heartbroken and crying herself to sleep. Her cousin got a Wii gaming system which provided a great deal of entertainment for all of us. It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to watch two 5 year old kids have so much fun together. Katie’s older cousin joined in the fun as well and gets better each day as the role model for the younger two. I hope Katie’s relationship with all her cousins stays as strong as it is now. This Christmas was the fist in 20 years that the whole family was together. It was great.

I gave my lovely wife a wine refrigerator for Christmas which I think went over very well. She totally surprised me with a table saw. I spent Saturday putting the table saw through her maiden project which was installing the wine fridge into the kitchen cabinets. I was very pleased with the results and the saw is now ready to take on bigger tasks. First on the list will be to finish out the second room in the studio so I can host my first session next month.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto was a stark reminder that freedom’s enemies are as resolved as ever to foul the world with their stink. My one hope is that in her death those in her country and ours come to the conclusion that many of us have been sadly frustrated with for so long now: There is no sharing the planet with the people who carried out this act. There is no diplomatic solution that will satisfy Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic militancy. There is only eradication. We need to unite around this reality now.

I was passed along a copy of a book my brother read and had given to my dad to read. The two of them have been talking about this book for a month now. It's no wonder, “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” is quite the page turner. I’m two thirds of the way through it and will NEVER complain about being cold again. I will never understand why people read so much non-fiction when there are so many true stories that can blow ones mind equally as well.

Tonight it’ll be a small group of us bringing in the New Year. Our good friends and my folks will make their way over to our place to slam some domino's, watch football, drink yet even more of my booze as we wait for the ball to drop.

I’m filled with a sense satisfaction as 2007, my year of big change, clicks over. While not a cent richer or grounded in any more stability than 2006, I still feel like we’ve overcome a great deal this past year. Changes that are not easy to make we’ve conquered nonetheless. Not in anyway compared to the physical challenges Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men had to endure, but challenges just the same.

Have a happy new year everybody and thanks for tuning in…

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

REAL Football...

As kids living in Newport News Virginia, when the snow fell it meant one thing: backyard football. I don't why it was more fun than non-snowing football, but somehow it didn't matter that you were cold, muddy, and wet it was just more fun simple as that. I wonder if that's the way these guys see it?

Monday, December 17, 2007

This IS rock and roll...

Dave P. sent this along. This guy ought to get into the R&RHOF before Madonna IMHO...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NOT rock & roll...

I've just never got what was such a big deal about Madonna. I know, she was hot as she slithered across the early MTV screen as I waited HOURS for the Scorpion's video. I acknowledge that she had a lot of hits. I acknowledge that she had more than a passive hand in creating all those said hits, but to me they've been nothing but radio ga ga, all of them.

They are definitely NOT rock and roll and therefore NOT worthy of this. Maybe along side Paula Abdul in the Hot Chicks of Top 40 Hall of Fame, but no way can anyone who hasn't smoked crack all of their life call Madonna's music rock and roll. Vapid meaningless melodies to be whistled while doing menial tasks and easily replaced with what ever the station played next.

Let the annual grousing over who's been left out of the RRHOF begin. I'll start, have they opened the books for Alice Cooper yet?

Rock is dead, long live rock!

Fuck rock, long rock!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"I want to thank all the people at my label..."

So last night I and another buddy of mine went to call on an old guitar player friend that we hadn’t seen in years. We were like the three Musketeers during our marauding singles days spending what little money we had on lost weekends of partying and recording music. While me and my buddy had gotten married, had kids, and slid in line along side millions of our peers in the white collar career world, our friend sort of faded from view. We’d receive some intel on him from time to time while he worked a few bartending gigs and set up a local wing joint for the owners, but never much beyond that. Then not too long ago, we heard that he and his brother had opened up a club in the Little Five Points section of Atlanta (Atlanta’s mini East Village type area).

We had dinner at a place across the street from his club and enjoyed a great time together recalling the silliness of our joint escapades only fifteen short years ago. It was when the conversation turned to the in’s and out’s of starting up and running a club in the city of Atlanta that our friend quickly became awash with frustration and anxiety as he filled us in on his trials and tribulations over the past five years. Starting a small business in a city as corrupt as ours can do that. If it’s not one city agency or another extorting his hard earned cash, it’s lazy no show employees that let him down on a semi-regular basis, but the biggest frustration of late comes from another direction entirely. A source that I have tacitly defended on another somewhat related issue. After hearing my friends tale, I have changed my mind. The source of my nightclub owning friend’s frustration? Record labels. Record labels and ASCAP.

Yes, it appears that what Bob Lefsetz has been telling us for a long time actually has more than a ring of truth to it. The labels are losing money so bad that they have resorted to sending out their legal goons to (no, not go after illegal file traders, I support their efforts there) go after night clubs that play live music and pinch owners for unpaid points allegedly owed to them for licensed music being played by bands performing in said club. That’s right, they want a piece for cover bands playing licensed music. They sent my friend an invoice for $3000 threatening legal action if he didn’t “settle” this account. The three words that come immediately to mind; WHAT THE FUCK?!

First of all, my friends club caters to real players. He gets some residual bookings from a larger venue down the street of up and coming talent and fills the rest of the stage time with other young unsigned incubating locals and other seasoned musicians. You won’t catch a cover band playing Maroon 5 songs anywhere near his place. He himself is quite an accomplished player and would never pour his heart and soul into a place that catered to drunken frat boys howling top 40 hits. Jeff Sipe, Jimmy Herring, Col. Bruce, Derek Trucks, and others have sat in on jam sessions at his club for cripes sake. There’s no ‘Louie, Louie” being played here trust me.

Second and unbeknownst to the dickheads at ASCAP and BMI, our buddy also happens to be an avid recording enthusiast and when he installed his clubs’ system he was sure to put in both multi-track and two track digital recording devices. He exclaimed to the two of us as he showed off his impressive setup, “I’ve recorded every show that’s ever played here”. When I put the two together I said to him, “Dude, tell those fuckers at BMI to go though all those recordings and let you know what you own them, it can’t be more than fifty bucks tops”, and it was then that the pure evilness of these asshole record labels becomes crystal clear. It’s all about scaring you into folding. It’s all about the small club owner having to decide what’s going to cost him more: letting the civil action play out for which he’ll have to pony up for his own legal expenses, or just paying the invoice (i.e. fine) and getting on with his life. This is what’s called being mother fucked.

He certainly doesn’t need my advice, but if I were him and had those recordings in my pocket I’d shurely be telling BMI to go fuck themselves. If they decide to persue legal action, bring the tapes to the hearing with a per hour attorney at your side and ask the court to demand BMI show how they came up with their figure of three grand. At the same time, offer BMI, the court, an arbitrator, etc… the tapes of all the shows. My friend is certain that a BMI rep has NEVER stepped foot in his club, nor an ASCAP agent for that matter. They are simply betting that because he hosts live music, the acts that have performed have played licensed music without permission. A scorched earth tactic used indiscriminately to see if they can make a quick buck.

While I still firmly believe in protection of intellectual property and remain steadfast in my opposition to illegally downloading music, I will never again stick up for the labels on any issue and now strongly wish for their hastened demise. Yes, it’s jihad on the big labels. Although I held them in contempt for years for their historical artist exploitation and indentured servitude, I’ve also thought they were a necessity from a filtering and artist incubation perspective. Now they can just fuck off into the air entirely.

First they go after guitar tab sites, now their extorting money from small business owners who support working musicians. The labels understand nothing about musicians, their fans, and the music they create and I hope their days are numbered.

KH, good luck my friend and give’em hell.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bah humbug, or my candidate for prez...

At a Christmas party this past weekend, I joked with a spouse of a friend who also happens to be a lawyer that, with the exception of my hawkish foreign policy stance in the the ME, my politics were largely of the liberal bent. Her response was typical of the far left, moonbat, know it all's, and without asking me a single question regarding anything political, basically retorted that I was not worthy of joining their reindeer games. Nice. Isn't there an "ist" word like, pigeonholist or something?

Anyhoo... While trolling the blogosphere today, I found this fun little exercise. According to ABC News, the presidential candidates that most fit the answers I gave to the policy questions they posed are as follows:

1. Chris Dodd
2. Duncan Hunter
3. Hillary Clinton

Chris Dodd, five term Connecticut Democrat. Duncan Hunter, hawkish Vietnam vet, long time California Republican. Hillary Clinton, former first lady, two term senator New York Democrat.

It's a long way to next November. It would appear that my vote is up for grabs along with what I believe to be many others who are, for lack of a better word, centrist hawks.

For the record and if anybody cares, I believe in civil unions for gay folk, gun control, am solidly pro-choice (with common sense restrictions). I think in HINDSIGHT invading Iraq should not have been our top priority, but STRONGLY believe we must stay and stabilize the country as best we can no matter how long it takes. I have little tolerance for those who marginalize and rationalize Islamic zealotry or the blatant human rights vioaltions couched as "cultural differences (i.e. the enslavement of women), or U.S. historical apologists for that matter. I support strict control on immigration and tight seals on our borders, BUT support LEGAL immigration of as many folks as our economy needs and/or can support no matter what that number is. I am a big supporter of the Fair Tax initiative.

Ho, Ho, Ho... Let the campaign begin!