Ever play Risk?

Today is Good Friday, and my mom called me this morning, as she does every year, to warn me off the meat for a day. I told her I had already had a bacon and egg sammich for breakfast, but that I would not eat meat the rest of the day, just for HER.

I’m far from being a Catholic, though I’m not anti-religion. I just haven’t found the right one for me. Baha’i would probably be closest to my own beliefs. Not exact, but close enough to say, yeah, I pretty much agree with what they say, for the most part. Anyway, I ate meat, and now I’m probably going to hell (Again). Then I ordered grilled chicken at lunch and broke my promise to my mom absent mindedly. When I got to my table, I remembered, and a pang of guilt hit me. Still, mom doesn’t have to know, and it’s not that big a deal. I enjoyed my chicken. I don’t think God is gonna rat me out.

My evening tonight will consist of a trip to Burbank to check out some food trucks, then to a friend’s house to play RISK, the old board game. Glad I didn’t flake (almost did), and looking forward to it now. Especially glad because the person who invited me does so frequently and I can almost NEVER come out. I’ve had to flake badly the last few times. I really had to make sure I didn’t this time. She was at that point where I was no longer going to be invited to ANYthing, and that would suck. She and her boyfriend are among the coolest people I know, and I haven’t played RISK in probably a decade. Something told me I needed to stick to my guns this time. Probably nostalgia.

You see, for a couple of years, a group of friends and I had this awesome tradition of burrito/RISK night. We would each buy a burrito and a six pack on the way, and show up at a buddy’s studio to have a night of RISK playing. Friendly games to be sure, but they got heated. In particular, if we had a Friday night Risk game, it meant three things:

  1. There was NOTHING going on that night
  2. We were broke.
  3. We were planning on getting thoroughly intoxicated.

Tonight, is a different crowd. It will be interesting to see how this group takes, or doesn’t to the game. I would feel like I had some crazy advantage from having played so much in the past, but its a game of luck like any other. The old crowd was all metal heads. All post pubescent, but still boys. . . We all had cars, but nobody had a car payment, you know, that phase of life. Our jobs weren’t part of any career, and crashing on couch’s all weekend didn’t hurt on Monday like it does now.

The crowd tonight, on the other hand is mostly thirty-somethings. All of us are fully responsible adults with real careers. A couple of attorneys, a few professionals, married couples, and a practically married couple. Oh and me. I guess I fall under the professional group. Difference is, instead of bringing a sixer or a couple 40 oz beers, I’m bringing a growler of my own home made Robust Vanilla Porter. Feel a little snobbish saying that, but really it just means my tastes have really developed. I’ll keep telling myself that.

Tomorrow night, I’m going out for Korean BBQ for the first time ever, and I’m promised that I will love it. I’m not too skeptical, since it mainly sounds like grilled beef soaked in spicy marinades. That is so right up my alley, its ridiculous. It’s also ridiculous that I’ve never tried it. K-town in Downtown LA is a hot spot lately, and I’m happy to finally try their trademark meal.

Then Sunday, that’s Easter, and my Niece’s birthday party. She’s an April Fools day baby! I’m hoping to get some pics in, and practice my photo skills for Puerto Rico, which is coming up for me on April 10-15. Twelve days. . . . . Twelve days from now I’ll be in the Atlantic, on an island. An island that loves baseball and boxing.

That’s about it for today, I just wanted to post a little something for the weekend.

Have a happy Easter all!

– Fred.

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Excerpts from an interesting email convo.

Note, sometimes, I just save emails that I enjoyed particularly, or as notes for a future article. The grammatical nightmare below, is just a stream of consciousness ramble, of myself recollecting some details about working at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles from the time I was 16 to about 20 years of age. As a young aspiring musician, I couldn’t believe my luck at being able to see the contemporary great performers that I did. Apologies in advance for the formatting. First email in Conversation is at the bottom)

– Fred.

____________________________________________________________________

Yeah man. Well, for me, top ones were a four night Los Lobos / Santana jam session that had like EVERYBODY on stage as a guest, that was four days of BBQ’s, music out in the park, guitars, and then every night, a bigass Los Lobos Santana jamoff concert with the whole fucking place dancing.

The Gypsy Kings. They’re still one of my favorite shows, and what I think about when I think about EVERYBODY dancing at a concert.

Reggae Sunsplash, man, the air, thick with smoke, dancing in the aisles, and just a litany of awesome jams, it was like a reggae Pandora  for a week straight. Outside they had the rasta booths with jerk meats and chew sticks and we’d always get everything free cause were there there after hours helping out.

I’ve told ya about johnny cash a million times. He brought out his whole fam. June, the Carter family singers, and they went through ALL kinds of AWESOME tunes. Never saw females play stringed instruments so awesomely in my life, or since. They were a real act to see.

Bela Fleck, cause of the bass! Wooten!

Ray Charles, now THERE was an awesome show man. He led like a bandleader should. I remember being most impressed with how he led the band.

James Brown, with his whole orchestra, fucking BAM with the funk all night man. The whole show. I got to see James brown play.

Bryan Setzer was good.

B.B. King, got to meet him, got to strum Lucille once. Got a pic from him too.

Santana played EVERY year, it was always a highlight. Think spotlights filled with smoke. . . from the very back of the theater to the front.and DANCING

Prince, just awesome. Again with the dancing.

I got to work at the Ahmanson theatre for a season, and saw the stagecoach run. That was fucking incredible, even though I didn’t care for the show. Working there showed me how the big money lives.

Still tons I’m sure I’m forgetting. Jackson Brown, who I love, the G3 Summit, Joe Satriani who I hate but goddamnit he put on a show, old glam rockers with HUGE pyrotechnics, just tons of madness.

So much fun.

And that’s not even starting with any of the shit WE did while we were there. There were nights that they would leave the whole stage set up, and if we didn’t have gigs, we would sleep over at the theater and have the whole place to ourselves. THAT was incredible.

At this time, I was playing 100 shows a year. Average about a show every other night. Then weeks FULL of Greek theater music. I think its why I’m so stubborn about music.

______________________

From: Ian

Sent: Friday, March 22, 2013 9:55 AM
To: Alfred
Subject: RE:

I want to hear the good. Because there aren’t too many bands I would want to see bad enough to suffer through a Blink 182 concert.

_______________________

From: Alfred
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2013 9:53 AM
To: Ian
Subject: RE:

Only the worst ones. Dude, Michael Bolton, Live, TERRIBLE OLD MAN JAZZ where they made us wear green sweaters cause it was nicer, hmm, who else, Cyndi Lauper, who I love, but seeing her chew out her musicians and butcher her own songs was awful. Tina Turner, who showed me how much you can fake emotion on stage. Taj Majal, whose wife tried to get me fired, and was a total asshole, Kenny G who I couldn’t stay awake for, Morrissey, Blink 182, 311 (hate them), and every wanky pop band that was hot at the moment or R and B crap like blackstreet, jodeci, oldies concerts full of cholos etc. causing buncha fucking hooligans to tear up Griffith park, The Dixie Chicks, never seen a spectacle like that crowd, ew country pop concerts (I think I remember Shania Twain and Garth Brooks) I just plain forced myself to forget about.

But the good STILL outweighed the bad. Way more good, too many to name.

03/15/2013 and a hell of a weekend it was.

What a weekend! 

Another post will have to follow this one, I’m just sitting here thinking about all that went on this weekend, and kind of not believing everything I got done! 

  1. Rebuilt a SOLEX 34 PICT-3 Carburetor for the second time in 15 years.
  2. Won money at the track, betting on the ponies.($165, not too shabby!) 
  3. Baby sat my niece and nephew for the first time. 
  4. Racked a Robust Vanilla Porter to Secondary.
  5. Shot some awesome photos with the new Olympus (Review to follow soon) 
  6. Yardwork, Laundry, Living room dusting, and even made some kickass homemade lasagna. (No pics, it went too fast) 
  7. Attended my buddy Herbert’s b-day party. Catered by The patty Wagon
  8. Adapted my camera to take old 35 mm lenses! This I’m excited about as it allows more film like video. 
  9. Came up with an artwork plan for a b-day present for mi momma. Now to put it into action. 
  10. Watched Formula 1 Australia! Season opener, and feels super fantastic to have the series on NBC. Can’t wait till The Nurburgring Germany! 

Whew! 

Hell of a lot for two days, and I know I’m missing some good stuff in there, but now here at lunch writing this, it seemed like a week. 

More soon . . . . 

 

– Fred. 

(UPDATE) Retired Artists takes the DIY out of Punk Rock.

Edit, these guys must have gotten some backlash, because right away they changed their name, URL, style, and whole approach. Now they’re “Riffwriters”, but it’s the same bogus, non publishing fools trying to re-invent the wheel that they never learned to steer in the first place.

Again, Caveat Emptor.

______________________________

http://www.Retiredartists.com is a site that promises to hook you up with established musicians for a fee. Basically, it’s like any other publishing house, in that they have a stable of in-house songwriters, who sell songs to clients for pop stars to record . With this site, these guys aren’t pop writers, and their clients aren’t pop stars. They’re Ex punk Rockers, old metal heads, hardcore dudes who are so full of themselves as to say things like “We grew up, but never had the love of music leave us. Everyone involved with RetiredArtists was in a band that was signed and toured extensively, on labels ranging from Victory Records to Bridge 9 Records. You most likely heard of the bands we were in, but we aren’t going to be specific on the site.”

In discussing this with some musician friends, we were all skeptical on whether or not it would work, but also thought that there are definitely people out there who are lazy enough to go their route.

Basically, for a flat fee, around 170 a song, they will write something for you using their uber awesome hardcore skills. They will even send you everything recorded in Protools for you to just drop a vocal on, and away you go, instant band.

I’m having a real problem with this. The types of music listed on the site, “metal, hardcore, punk or rock” are the genres I grew up loving. I know a little bit about them. One thing I can assure you, is that this would not be seen as a good idea by all those bands that came before, all those bands that took the time to write their shitty songs, that earned their cred and legitimacy by developing a sound and expanding the boundaries of music.

Not Retired Artists. . . . . . and actually, let’s think about their name. . . . . Retired Artists? Why would you call yourself retired, then promises a 3 week turnaround on your prepackaged goods? Doesn’t sound like much of a retirement. Sounds to me like a bunch of musicians who can;t hack the road anymore, but instead of letting it go, they want to sell their experience. They feel their time was special,. and that they gained this ease of songwriting that is so good, you’d be a fool not to hear it. They have quantified musical goodness, and have wrapped it up in a nice little package, under $200 a pop!

Straight off their site, “The best part? Everything is discreet. Nobody will know. Why play your shitty songs when you can play consistent amazing ones written by us badass guys who toured in (and with) bands whose names would make you nut yourself.”

Make me nut? Who are they marketing to? Are they really willing to trade their integrity, their experience, and their time in, for a job ghost writing? And if so, why not go the traditional route, and write around what’s selling in the market, like the pros do? Why play my shitty songs? Easy answer, because they are mine. Because I am the artist, and I have my own dues to pay. I don’t imagine $175 buys you any time on stage, or a wealth of experience in dealing with band members. Another good reason to play your own shitty songs, is so you don’t end up playing somebody else’s shitty songs.

These guys are not pros. They tell you they’re going to give you a unique service, when in reality, your fee of $175 is just insurance against their shitty songs.

If their songs were worth a penny over 175, they would sell them for that. They would not be limited to “Hardcore” Labels like Victory, if they were real tunesmiths. Believe it or not, songwriters exist. There are people out there who are good at collaborating, which involves  a real interchange between people, to create music. That is a whole side of A&R and music that most punk rockers don’t even know about. That’s what’s keeping the Retired Artists Retired, its that they’re too old, too tied down, and just to chewed up from the road.

But then, if you;re going to buck tradition, and charge up front for tunes, why ask for royalties?

Check this out, again from the site:

“You can record the songs (or we will record them), but if you are signed to a label and they release them, they can hold the rights to the recording but not the songs themselves. Even on the recording, there is a 20% royalty cut due to the artist who wrote the music for every profitable form of media produced (outside of our set CD percentage). (Example, a band has 500 7″s made, the band stands to make a dollar off each one, so its 20cents owed per seven inch to the artist. Money is due at pressing, so 500 records would be made and the artist would collect $100 from the band. (20% of the money the band would make off the record).”

If you are signing to a label that releases CD’s, the artist is to receive .20 cents per cd pressed, which is $200 per pressing of 1000 for you who suck at math.

By the way, nobody will know you didn’t make that awesome music for the song you are playing. We are 100% discreet and the only people that will know about anything will be the band (and possibly label if they need to cut checks to our artists)”

So there it is. They rape you at both ends. Even in the big leagues, a songwriter is entitled to $.091 per 100% of a composition. Whatever deals are made on the side to set up the writing gig, produce the demos, and create a real collaboration, that’s all done by the publisher. The publisher then has their own creative types who goes out and pitches these songs, and the demos to either record labels with artists ready to release them, or to bands or clients that use their services. There’s no need to be shady, or hide that fact that you’re writing for an artist, because it makes sense in this case.

That’s my main problem with the Retired Artists idea. I wouldn’t blink if it were another publisher offering songs for sale, but the general douchebaggery of the arrogance, and language on the site, and the lack of that punk ethos that makes the music good in the first place is just disgusting.

There’s no room for this shit in music, just like there’s no room for the thousands of 14 year old bands taking up good stages with bullshit pay to play shows, but as long as music is tied to the music venues, and they’re run by the thugs and scumbags who call themselves promoters nowadays, this kind of shit will never go away.

Some kid out there will pay the money to fly these guys out, and totally lack any identity in his songs, get up on stage, call himself punk rock, and maybe even believe it for a second.

Just An Insomniac Ramble Brought On By Daylight Savings Time

It’s been another crazy couple of weeks here in LA. I bought a new camera so I’ve been taking pictures of everything, everywhere I go. I’ve been trying to think of a way to make my writing hobby more full-time, but at the same time I have been really busy at work. I envy the pure artist, those who get to hang out and just create all the time. I’d love for my worst problem at work to be a writer’s block. Then again, by the time you can make a living off of any art form, it seems you have to sell it out to the point that it is compromised. This is why I’ve finally decided to write for myself and get this little journal/blog going. I’ve been surprised at how personal a lot of things that I want to write about are, but I know better than get air out any of that kind of stuff.

It’s crazy how you learn that kind of lesson, went to stop talking or asking questions. You get burned by being too inquisitive, or opening your mouth when it wasn’t necessary. Sometimes you react to things the way that is expected of you, and is natural, but is clearly wrong. Sometimes your feelings get the better of you and you can make a serious mistake without even realizing it. Some of the more serious ones, you can’t take back.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about going into interviews, as the interviewer being a new experience for me. Now that it’s over, I have to say it was pretty exhausting. I hadn’t anticipated having to talk to and choose between people I work with on a daily basis, and while I wouldn’t say I wasn’t ready for it, I was surprised by it. That in itself, was surprising.

It’s hard to explain, but outside of work and in my personal endeavors I have always pushed myself to, and beyond, my own limits. I have always tested myself, I made myself stretch boundaries by learning new things and forcing the mental gymnastics that spurs my creativity in the withers. Now I find myself going through the same thing in my professional life, and I love it. Music is changing and the whole industry is upside down, but it’s not as bad as everybody thinks, and I’m in a position where I get to be one of the tines of the pitchfork, so to speak. I finally feel a personal responsibility for my work, and the results of my work. I thought I always did, but now my work so directly affects so many people, that I see a lot more value in my day to day to-do.

I’m headed off to Puerto Rico in a few weeks, and I’m really excited about that. I’m going with the good Dr. Jones, and I expect us to get into some trouble and quite a few adventures. I’m not too sure how dead on my vision of it is, but I picture white sandy beaches, and blue waters. For the most part that’s what I want to see. I want to have a fruity drink on the beach with some Rum in it, and perhaps something salty to munch on while the waves lap at my feet, in the warm sunshine of this tropical island paradise.

Well, tropical island anyway.I’m not really too sure why I’m going to Puerto Rico, but Dr. Jones definitely had a hand in talking me into it. I have vacation time I need to use, an itch to travel, and a couple hundred bucks in the budget to get around. Mexico has been off-limits into me, the Mexican, and it’s a damned shame because I used love taking trips down there with the bad Dr.

Now I’m reduced to visiting an island that is related to my people in a way more roundabout way, but definitely close and compatible enough for a Relaxing vacation. Especially with them speaking Spanish, and me wanting to practice it. Not much practice for it out here in Woodland Hills.

In my own bicycling news, last night my cousin Cesar and I rode 26 miles for no apparent reason. We picked the furthest destination that we thought we could ride to, and that turned out to be my sisters house in Sierra Madre, about 13 miles away. I hadn’t ridden in a few weeks, and I’ve been feeling guilty with my bike just sitting there collecting dust. When my cousin invited me out yesterday I couldn’t resist, and I had the idea of going to my sisters house in the back of my mind for quite a while. He didn’t think he would make it, but I was sure it would be pretty easy. I knew from my own experience that I would have no problem with the 13 miles to my sisters house.

I wasn’t so sure about the trip back, and my cousin definitely wanted to give up about three quarters of the way back home. I encouraged him and let him know that if he stopped his legs would cramp up, and then he would be useless. I did not want to be picked up for a ride by anybody, and I didn’t want to leave him there to wait for somebody to pick him up. So I talked him into continuing, and we came up over the big lump at Broadway by Lincoln high school here in L.A.

We flew down the hill hitting 41 miles an hour, which is a new record for me. The whole ride round trip took us about three hours, including a visit with my sister, all the way out in Sierra Madre.

When I went to sleep the night, my inner thighs cramped worse than  I’ve ever experienced. I was screaming out in pain, and had to literally Google what to do right there on the bed while I tried to move my legs as little as possible in order to avoid exacerbating the crap. Everybody said massage or rolling pin so I grabbed a tube of foot powder and rolled the crap out of my legs.

I’m still little sore, but I intend to get back on the bicycle, and beat my record of 400 miles from last year, in 2013. I handled 26 miles handily, and I’m rather proud of that. . . . . .  

It’s now 1230 in the morning.

Just realized I’m jut typing away, rambling like mad, but I feel like I don’t have much to say today. I’m just kind of laying here in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep, and there is quite a bit of drama in the lives of people close to me.  I have managed so far to keep my nose clean. Stuff at work, and just a general sense of a whole lot of energy that I need to use up is keeping me wide awake.

Daylight Savings time is messing with my sleep cycle and I need to get catch some Z’s. It’s been nice, pounding away here on the old keyboard, but I’m afraid I must crash now. Good night cruel world!