Moving on Out

Other Minds’ Newest Board Member

Last Tuesday, I was elected to the board of Otherminds. I was asked to speak about myself and had no idea of what to say. I knew that I would have to, but when asked, my mind went blank. Things that I could have mentioned and didn’t were numerous. Despite being in the presence of the founder of the Just Intonation Network, I did not mention my membership nor my work on the Java Just Intionation Calculator. Nor did I talk intellgiently about the music I write. But I did talk about the history of the tuba and related brass instruments. I guess Charles must have said good things about me. anyway, it’s clear that I’m going to have to write a spiel and memorize it. I’ll need to have different versions of it depending on how long I need to speak.
Afterwards, Carl Stone showed up and he, Charles and Jim Newman were going to go out to dinner. Christi and I were waiting around to go to dinner with Mitch, so we all ended up going together to a Tapas place at 16th and Guerro where Carl Stone’s cousin’s husband is the head chef. This translated into free desserts. Charles once again impressed upon me the need to write down witty things that people say and to keep a diary so later when someone asks about what composers that I’ve met (because they are wirtting the difinite biography of witty things said by a particular famous composer), I’ll be able to regale them with facinating stories about going to restaurants after board meetings. With that in mind, it was a delightful evening. Carl Stone is very charming. I had met him once before at Charles’ Christimas or New Years party and he remembered me from then. He’s been teaching in Japan. He was talking about how terrible meetings there were, but as he cannot read or write Japanese, most of it went over his head and he spent his time in meetings by responding to email. He said they spent over an hour on one occasion discussing the locations of ashtrays around one of the buildings.
The food was great and sufficient vegan-ized things were available. It was nice to get a last visit with Mitch. after dinner, I hopped on Bart to go stay at Polly’s house. “Naiomi” also arrived. (Name changed for reasons that will become clearer as the story progesses.)

she said, “let’s go to Vegas, man

The next morning, we got the rental van and drove it back to Polly’s house. Actually, Naomi drove it. We weren’t in a hurry, but she drove as if we were. She was a terrifying driver. I swear she alomst rolled the van. Well, I dunno how hard something has to pull to the side before it actually rolls, but it was the most sideways force I’ve yet experienced. “Oh, it doesn’t corner well.” she said. As she was driving in the fast lane down the freeway at highspeeds, she was about five feet behind the car in front of her. “Oh it doesn’t break well.” she said. We got mightily lost, but finally arrived to load the gear and set off for Vegas, and, thankfully, Polly drove the whole way.
It was my first time seeing the Mojave desert. It’s got big basins surrounded by hills. Really big, crater-like basins. And darn, is it hot! It’s hot all the way to Vegas. Really darn hot. We got to the Vegas strip just as the sun was setting. In case you have never been there (and this was my first time), It’s not nearly as glamorous as the movies make it to be. At least the end I was on was not as glamorous. I think “glamorous” means “a lot of lightbulbs.” We were staying at the Rivera Hotel. The bellhop cmae to help us with our gear and started dropping everything. Polly made a wild grab and caught her mixer as it tumbled towards the pavement. We clustered nervously around the lacsidasical belhop, on the ready in case he dropped anything else. After he left, I anxiously called Christi and asked her to repack all the boxes of dishes that I had just packed. Polly came and introduced me to Robert Dick. We chatted for a few minutes and then they went to catch up. Naiomi and I decided to go to Circus Circus. I know of this casino because of the movie Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas. In the movie, the lead charecter takes acid and then sits at a Merry-go-round themed bar while surrealist, scary clowns lurk menacingly. We found the rotating, merry go round bar, but there was nothing menacing about any part of the casino. It was crawling with children who were excitedly playing midway games. I was slightly disappointed. Vegas seems to be like american culture concentrate. Add water and you get a strip mall. they did have a short free show have fantastically talented jump rope acrobats. Naiomi dumped several quarters into the slot machines. She won all of the first several games that she played. Then she wanted to buy stuff, so we went to several gift shops. Then I was tired, so I went to bed, but we stayed up talking far later than I anticipated.
Naiomi and I slept late the next morning, although Polly got up when the clock radio, set by the previous occupant, went off at 7:00. Christi called and said that I could have Tiffany’s Bjork ticket if I could get back in time. Bjork was playing on Friday night in San Francisco. I hadn’t bought my own ticket because I was supossed to drive the van home that day and didn’t think I could make it in time and didn’t think I could make it in time. But the offer was tempting, so I approached Naomi and asked if she would be willing to leave early and drop me and my gear off in Berkeley and take the van and Polly’s gear south by heself. (Polly was planning on staying for the rest of the convention to network with flutists and try to get gigs based on our show.) As Naiomi lives in the city, I figured she would have an easy time getting back via BART. She became very excited and called someone to find out if there will still tickets to Bjork available, so she could go to the show too. She wondered if we could leave extra early. I said that 8:00 would be a good time to set out and added that I thought we could come back faster if we went throught Yosemite rather than Bakersfield. I called Christi and found out that Bakersfield really was the fastest route. Naiomi wanted to leave earlier, maybe 6:00 AM, maybe right after the show and we could drive all night? I said no, since I was anticipating staying upp all night friday night packing. I need as much sleep as I can while in Vegas. I could sleep while she drove? No, I can’t sleep in cars. She was getting agitated, wanting to leave earlier and perhaps drive as fast as possible. I was becoming increasingly concerned about becoming a traffic fatality statistic, since her driving was irratic when she wasn’t in a hurry. I told Polly about Naiomi’s driving. We had been planning on adding my name to the rental car contract anyway (they would only allow two drivers when we got the car, and I won at rock paper scissors), so we looked up the location of the closest office for our rental agency. It was only a mile and a half down the strip, so we had the very bright idea of walking. It was 3:00 in the afternoon and the heat seemed to be at least 105 F, perhaps higher. I was dying by the time we got to the parking lot to get the paperwork, but I’m on a mission to combat my whinyness and did not contest the plan to walk. Clearly, it seems, there are times when being whiny is essential.
We walked more than a mile and a half in 45 minutes in the scortching midday heat. Only mad dogs, englishmen and stupid tourists… There are vending machines on the strip that sell water for a dollar a bottle. It’s a racket. They could charge $10 a bottle. We stopped at drug store on the way and I bought cold chocolate almond milk (vegan food in vegas? arg! I was hungry hungry. All I could find for lunch was “chinese” food: boiled cabbage in sauce). We got to the car office and collapsed. We rode the bus back to the hotel. I felt like I might loose all my almond milk. We were all dizzy and sick. I stuck my head in the bathtub and ran cold water on it and then conked out for a nap and then woke and drank a lot of water. Naiomi went out, while I napped and put a lot of money into slot machines and other games of chance. She came back later and was feeling extremely ill. She was trying to “win back” the $50 she lost on her previous Vegas trip. At some point, we had a conversation about how gaming is regulated. She was surprised to hear that the amount of money the casino gets to keep and has to give away in prizes is set by state law. The odds are titled in the favor of casinos, it is not random. The slots by the door really do win more often. Seriously.
Finally, after we had all recovered, it was time for our sound check. Will, Polly’s brother, was running our sound for us. He’s an actor and is perfectly and completely charming. The hotel’s sound guy did not understand how we were going to set up. I talked to him for several minutes but was unable to convey any meaning. Will explained that it was ok and started running cables. He set things up in the only way that the sound guy said would work. The drums were way too low in the monitors. I had several ideas about how they could be raised, but this was the only was it would work. We played a few songs and souldn’t hear the drums when suddenly Will had an idea about how to raise the drum level. Later, Will told me that he knew how to have a seperate monitor mix all along, but there’s a certain way that union sound guys must be approached about sound. First, they must be befriended. Polly’s idea of using her brother for sound was perfectly brilliant.
We hung around waiting for our time to go on, while Naiomi pushed me to consider leaving earlier to get the Bjork show and I became pretty certain that a traffic accident was in my future. Naiomi had a pink mohawk, which strangers would comment on. Of course, making comments to strangers about their hair is rude, even if it’s as benign as telling her that she should spike it up instead of letting it lie flat. She had confessed to me that she wanted to punch people who made comments. In my past, I had a blue mohawk and when I had it, many, many peple commented on it. People would regularly tell me to spike it up or ask how it got to be blue and generally wanted to ask questions about it. Such is life when one has a mohawk. Naiomi just got angry. She also became extremely angry when the elevator stopped for someone on the way down and the guy got on a different elevator that also stopped. “That asshole stopped our elevator and didn’t even get on it, he got on that other one first.” I suggested that it might not be his fault and perhaps it was the fault of the hotel for summoning multiple elevators on a single button push. “You think so?” she asked, quite seriously and still angry at the hapless elevator traveller.
anyway, while we were waiting to go on, the opnening act was becoming alarmed since it was time for him to go on and his bassist had not yet arrived. since folks at home keep telling me what a great bassist I am, I told the guy that I could fill in, especially if he had charts that I could read. Thank goodness that his bassist arrived. That guy was one of the finest bassists that I’ve ever heard. He was playing a five string Carvin bass with a fantastic tone. Since the band had never played togteher before, the flutist would play the bassline to him once at the start of the song and the bassist would play it perfectly, as funky as you’ve ever heard, occassionaly making appropriate and highly funky fills. In nearly every song, he also improvised extremely textured and intricate bass solos. In one of them, we was simultaneously playing an improvised bassline and tapping out a solo on the high strings. It was synchopated and perfectly in time. That is what a great bassist can do. And that guy was just another Vegas bassist, once of hundreds if not thousands of bassist in this country who make a living just playing gigs as needed or as a studio musician. The world is crawling with highly proficient, professional and completely musical bassists, of which I am not one. Not that I don’t appreciate compliments. I must not beleive my own hype.
So I spent the whole first act comparing myself to the amazing bassist and consequently, when I got on stage, I was terrified of screwing up. I normally get stage fright. My heart beats fast. My palms sweat. I act foolishly before I go on. When I play with Tennis Roberts, I calm down as soon as it becomes clear that a train wreck is not going to destory us. However, Polly had a much larger audience and I psyched myself out more than usual. I thought I must have looked terrified through the first several songs. It didn’t help that Naiomi was playing guitar very tentatively and came in late several times. She ended one song many bars too early and, of course, the drum track kept going. I felt like we were in danger of slipping from the beat. Normally, it is the repsoncibility of the bassist to keep the beat together (so says Bass Player Magazine), but it is doubly so when the drum are pre-set. Anyway, as a consequence of being highly fearful, I was also highly focussed. I knew exactly where I was in every song and exactly where the beat was to a degree that I don’t normally in practice. I realized that I was playing very solidly. I was on FIRE! And as I became confident, the break came and Polly did some solo pieces without backup and I got nervous all over again and was definitely not on fire during the second half. As the show went on, I felt like my playing was getting weaker, but it was getting later and later. We didn’t start until almost midnight, so by the time I was on the wrong beat on the last song, there were only five people in the audience. If I’m going to screw up, I’m going to do so as confidently as possible in front of only a few people. I tried to look as if the one was not ususally on the one.
afterwards, the few remaining folks, who were all friends of Polly’s talked to us and when I said that I had been pretty much terrified the entire time and been off-beat on the last song, they said that I looked “cool as a cucumber” and that it had all sounded very solid. And it was easy to tell at the start of the show that the audience was loving it (at the end of the show it was very late and everyone had gone to bed). Several people were chair dancing. There was cheering when Polly announced that she was going to play a Dead Can Dance cover. Polly was definitely on fire. She had a great stage presence throughout. The folks watching soaked up every naunce and would go anywhere that Polly lead them. she was completely fabulous.
Polly’s mother, Polly, Robert Dick, Naiomi and I went to get beers afterwards. Robert is extremely friendly and it was very nice to get to talk to him. He told me to say to Ron Kuivilla and Alvin Lucier from him. Polly’s mother is also very charming. She was extremely proud of Polly’s performance. She is really sweet. Finally, we went to go to sleep. At 3:00 AM, I was sleeping sitting up, leaning over my gear, waiting for my turn to use the bathroom. Polly went back out to do more partying and just Naiomi and I were left in the hotel room. She was setting the alarm to off earlier than our agreed-upon time. I said, “Naiomi, there’s no way I’m going to be able to get up before 8:00 tommorrow morning. I’ve got too much stuff to do this weekend. I’m moving and stuff. I’m really sorry, but this is why I didn’t buy my own ticket to the concert.” I then passed out as I said “goodnight.”
Naiomi did not say anything. She did not turn out the light. As far as I know, she didn’t move. I felt tingling at the back of my neck and finally turned to look at her. she was glaring at me with narrowed eyes and a bitter rage. She said that she wanted to leave at our agreed-upon time. I had been thinking about our schedule and had realized that there was no way we could get to an 7:00 PM concert in San Francisco if we left Vegas at 8:30 AM. There was likely to be traffic at both ends and we had to unload the gear in Berkeley and Burlingame and then return the van to the San Jose airport. I could clearly picture the trip. I would be driving, refusing to give up the drivers seat while Naiomi angrily urged me to go faster and constantly offering to drive and finally demanding that she should drive, which I could not let her do or I would end up rolled over on the side of the road. I could also picture the return trip if we left later. It would be exactly the same except she would be bitter towards me from the start. Maybe we would ride in silence the entire way. I was already counting the hours until I never had to see her again and it looked the last hours were going to be very long. So I declined leaving at the earlier time and said goodnight again and fell back asleep.
The light still did not go out. I was exhausted. The day had not been relaxing. I had heat stroke and then I had been in the grips of stage fright for more than an hour long show. It was a whole lot later than I normally go to sleep. Maybe a minute later, maybe and hour, maybe a second (certainly after I had again faded from consciousness), she yelled, “I just don’t see why we can’t leave now and you can sleep in the car!” It’s hard sleeping when one is convinced that one is about to be horribly maimed in a car wreck, even if one is already completely exhausted. And regardless, I’ve never been able to sleep in a car. (This conversation, btw, is recorded here very near verbatim)
“Naiomi, we’re not dating. Please don’t wake me up to yell at me. I can’t sleep in cars. goodnight.”
“Why can’t you?”
“Alas, I’ve never been able to. Perhaps it is an as yet untreatable physiological condition. goodnight.”
“I’ve always wanted to see Bjork and I might never again get a chnce to see her in my whole life!”
“It’s highly probable that she will survive this tour and decide to emabrk upon another one during which time you would likely be presented with an oppotrunity to see her.” I gave up on the ending goodnights as a good night was seeming to be an increasingly remote possibility.
“She’s a huge influence of mine . . .” she started into a speech which I don’t recall (and probably tuned out at the time) about how it was imperative that she go to see Bjork.
I pointed out that she had not known about the concert until I had told her about it. She argued further, hoping to wear me down rather than convince me, I think, since she was too threatening to be convicing.
“This is not my problem. Parhaps you can take a cab.” I was not going to give up.
“You can’t take a cab to the City from here, but You could fly!” she exclaimed, siezing upon a possible solution.
I considered it. Travelling seperately had never looked so attractive. I would get back much earlier, have time to do more packing, get to see the concert, etc. But how would I get my gear back? And moving expenses alone were going to hit my credit card pretty hard. And I was not going to give up. “Alas, it’s not in my budget. Perhaps you could fly”
“Well, it’s not in my budget either!” she yelled quite angrily. I think that around then she stomped out.
I lay in bed with wide open eyes and my heart racing from tremendous amounts of adrenaline. Her bitter rage plus dregs of stage fright anxiety made for a very powerful fight or flight responce. I began imagining the things that she was plotting to do to get revenge. “Fly!” my instincts ordered. But where could I go? The casinos would be open all night, but to be in there, I would have to be awake, and this entire conflict revolved around whether or not I was willing to stay awake all night. I still needed to get whatever sleep that I could if I was going to be prepared for the mvoers coming on Saturday. Tracking down Polly also seemed like a bad idea. She had her cell phone, but I doubted that she wanted to hear about squabbling in her rythm section. And due to her boy craziness and the late hour, I figured that I would probably not see her again until morning. Anyway, I was being unreasonable. Naiomi wouldn’t strike out in revenge. True, she had said she wanted to assualt someone for stopping our elevator, but . . . uh . . .. I was in the grips of creeping paranoia.
A while later she came back in. I feigned sleep, but knew extactly where she was at every moment. She started digging through a drawer. I looked up. “What are you up to?” I asked.
“I’m going to see about getting a flight,” she said holding her cell phone. She no longer looked murderous, but merely the kind of very annoyed that I had expected from trying to change our plans.
This was a wonderful idea! “Continental has a hub here. you can get up to 70% off last minute flights from them,” I told her. She brightened and returned to her normal state and thanked me genuinely and gratefully and left again to make calls.
And I lay in bed wide awake, still considering revenge schemes she might launch upon me. She came back in later and started packing up stuff. I pretended to be alseep. What if she was stealing all my stuff? My run-away paranoia promted. That would be ok, I reasoned and stayed still. she came back two or three more times, waking me one of them to ask where the rental van keys were. Still paranoid, way beyond reason as she had completely calmed down and was acting normally and anyway had never threatened me, I wondered if she might be planning on taking the rental van. That would also be ok. Finally, around 5:00 AM, she left a perfectly friendly note to Polly and I explained that she had all her stuff and wishing us good trips home.
5:00 AM, coincidentally, is about the time that people start waking up to take showers. The pipes started making loud pipe noises, which I could not identify. I had not yet slept. I wondered if one of the flute convention attendees was fighting insomnia by practicing long tones on a newly purchased bass flute. I wondered if Naiomi had somehow sabotaged the bathroom. I wondered if I was a big loser for getting in a giant argument defending my desire to sleep, only to have it result in my getting no sleep whatsoever.
Polly came back around 7:00 and started quizically looking around for Naiomi. I sat up and explained what had happened. “She’s fired.” Polly said. I said that Polly shouldn’t fire her on my account, sicne I was quitting anyway. Polly said, “As far as I’m concerned, she abandoned her band mates to have to deal with all the gear by themselves.”
I’ve never been so happy to drive alone through the boring, miserable desert. And I never have to see Naiomi again.


I’m not going to work, I’m going to reveiw the Other Minds Festival!
So I went to the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre at 1:00, to show up for the final wineglass rehersal. It was to be the only rehersal with the everyone together. I’d never met any of the choir members or soloists before. so I showed up at 1:00 and the wineglass players were sitting in the suditorium waiting while the stage hands set up the stage. There was actually complicated staging, so this was not a short wait. Also, whenever there were questions, someone needed to be able to answer them and Lentz, the composer, was in and out, mostly out. Nobody knew where he was.
So I had a long conversation about handbells. Apparently there’s a contingent of secular handbell groups looking for secular music. More such groups than you’d think. a few of the wineglass people were also handbell people and they said that they tended to play works by the same few composers over and voer again, just because they didn’t want to always play hymns. Opportunity is knocking! after i get everything else done and stop procrastinating, I need to find out about writing for handbells.
finally, after a long wait, we got on stage for a sound check and then a rehersal. We did not manage to play through the piece. I was lost most of the time. My stand partner, who is a professional singer who has sung opera and toured for years and certainly has read more music than I have, was also lost most of the time. Things were not coming together. It looked worse and worse.
One of the guys at my table was having trouble staying seated during the rehersal. He kept getting up and taking photos. then he’d go for a walk. It was just too long for him. It was too long for me too. And a complete trainwreck. When they turned us loose at a quarter to 6:00, i had not eaten since breakfast and felt doom hovering over the entire endeavor.
I went out into the lobby to tell the folks handling tickets that my dad wouldn’t be showing up until after my call, so could they tell him that I’d meet him at intermission.
then I started eating GORP. Linda bought food for the staff to snack on while working. I wasn’t working that day, but I sat in the supply closet and inhaled all the GORP, some sushi, some treck mix, a soda pop, a ton of cookies. No work, yet all the food. They told me not to feel guilty, so I didn’t.
Christi’s mom and her friend Joyce came and were in the lobby. I sat with them and said that the whole mini-opera was going to fall appart completely after the first three minutes. I felt better about it, though, from the food. Just smile and look confident and any errors will be placed at the feet of the composer, not the ensemble. So when it was time, I went back stage and waited around again for a long time and missed the composer’s talk.
I got in a long conversation with a floutist. she’s auditioning bass players to play rock and roll at the national flute convention. I got her card. I’m going to try out if the dates work. Then official people told us instructions about getting on and off stage. they cautioned us that the glasses were worth $200 each.
We got on stage and found that my fingers were dry and were not going to make sound no matetr what I did because they had gotten wrinkly and weird from rehersal. thinking quickly, I switched to my index finger. fortunately, this worked, since I opened the piece. (I’m not making this up…) So I started playing and then my solo was over and then other folks started playing their wineglasses too and then the guy who kept getting up during reheral knocked his wineglass over and broke it. wine sprayed acorss my table and we all jumped. I had been repeating as mantra to everyone, “smile and look confident and everyone will think it was on purpose.” so when he knocked over the wineglass we all looked startled for a moment and then smiled and tried to look confident. He later told me that if I hadn’t kept saying that over and over again before hand, he might have lost his cool. anyway, my dad said later that he thought it was onpurpose, since it was set up to look like a cafe and people always drop glassware at cafes.
the conductor loudly whispered measure numbers to us and we were able to stay mostly together. He had been making changed to the score (big huge changes) druing rehersal. christi was running the supertitles for the opera singers. she was following the score and projecting the lines as they came up. nobody told her the score changes, but she managed to hold it mostly together. The projectionist was impressed. apparently it takes alot of practice and training to do the supertitles at the opera. He was surprised that Christi could just pick it up and do it. Especially since she didn’t have the most recent version of the score.
Anyway, amazingly, we got through it without a trainwreck and stayed together a lot better than in rehersal, especially because of the whispering. I was amazed at how well it went. Not to say ot was perfect. Five more times, and I’d have it solid.
so afterwards i asked my dad what he thought and he said, “Actually, I liked it.” I’m glad. I don’t want him to feel like all those music lessons and that undergraduate composition degree was wasted.
In the second half was Jack Body’s Sarajevo for piano, which got a lot of people, especially, Christi, excited. Then they played Three Sentimental Songs for piano and percussion trio, which was a world premier. For that, he took three kids songs, like Daisy and set them for crazy marimba lines and celesta and fun toy-sounding percussion. the percussionists sang at one place. The last song, the audience was suppossed to sing along, but I didn’t know the song. I told my dad that he hadn’t sung enough to me as a child. He said that I complained to my mother when he tried to sing to me. Which, I did. I remember him howling the song Barney Google and me running to my mom to get him to stop. anyway, I noticed Evelyn Glennie in the audience, slapping enthusiastically. The percussion parts were fun to watch, but since she could sing along with the marimba weh she was playing it, maybe she has perfect pitch and can watch people play and know what the notes are? Her skills boggle my mind.
There was a very long pause, longer than even an intermission would be, while we waited for William Parker to set up. finally, after more than twenty minutes, he came out and played a short set. It was very low-key. There was excitement when the vocalist asked what the difference was between a soldier and a murderer. But it peaked there and didn’t ever creep above that. The audience wanted to get excited and the band tried to comply, but then, while trying to creep up in energy level, William Parker suddenly announced that he was done. It was sudden. There was polite applause. I later learned that one of the guys deliberately streched out the set-up time way beyond the allotted five minutes because he considered t part of the performance and OM was forced to cut him off to avoid thousands of dollars in overtime pay to the tech crew.
We went out to the lobby and the folks working there started dimming the lights up and down to get folks to leave. Very rushed. My dad said he had to go because it was an hour commute each way and it was late, so he took off. Then Christi went around making sure that everyone had a ride to the reception afterwards. Daniel lentz invited folks to self-hosted reception in honor of his birthday and Cafe Desire. So we gave Zeppie and Jack Body a lift to the reception. Body remarked that the Parker set never reached orgasmic intensity. Christi highly praised Sarajevo. We talked about other things that have since slipped my mind. He was extrodinarily nice and friendly, though.
There was cake at the reception. I talked to Dina, one of the wineglass players, about the New York subway. She loves it. I’m going to record her talking about it soon. I decided to buy a glass of dessert wine. Amy X Neuburg was standing at the bar also trying to get dessert wine. I accidentally tried to pay somebody else’s tab, so she asked if I was going to pay for her too. I said I would cuz all of her music was so cool. She asked some questions about wineglass playing, were we playing thw whole time? We chatted and then Lentz came by, so I gave him a CD of mine, Faux Pas. I told him it was a birthday present, but I was just kidding around. He took it seriously, though and asked me to sign it, so I did. At some point, he took off saying the party was moving to his house.
Around 1:00 or maybe 2:00, the waitstaff started encouraging us to leave. Jack wanted to go to the Lentz place and so did Amy X. I did too, but Christi wanted to go home, as did Amy’s husband. We offered to drop them both off at the Lentz place, but there were issues, for example, the bug did not have enough seatbelts.
“It’s ok,” Amy explained, “I never die in accidents.”
But then how was she going to get home? Jack’s hotel was just blocks from the party, so he said that she could dleep with him in his bed. Amy’s husband objected. Jack exclaimed, “I’m gay!!!” Anyway, none of them got a lift from us, since Amy’s husband decided they they should verify that there was actually a party before leaving her to sleep with gay Jack.
I reluctantly decided not to go, since I was going to be working at the EYH confrence in the morning. It was probably a good idea to skip, since I later heard that Jack asked Amy how she slept (apparemtly, she found a ride home afterall) and she said it had been terrible. They started tearing up the sidewalk only an hour after she went to bed, at 8:00 AM or something.
So I went home to sleep. This is my celebrity gossip, though. Maybe I should send it to the Chronicle gossip woman, Leah Garick?


skipping back to the OM festival….
I went with Christi to work, then went over to the Palace of Fine Arts for a TV thing. Evening Magazine was filming some of the wineglass ensemble for their show, and I was a in the ensemble. So I sat at a table, with the TV camera and obnoxious TV personalities to my back, and played a wine glass tuned too full of fluid to be audible. The wrid thing about playing wineglass, is that it creates standing waves in the fluid. SO if you’re playing and can’t hear yourself for some reason, like because you’re on a stage and the monitor speakers are pointing at you and there’s a mic right over your glass, you can look at the fluid and see if you’re getting sound out. In really full glasses, drops of water spring up, creating a mist. These glasses were filled with very cheap wine, so a mist of something like redwine vinegar was spraying up at my hand.
The pitch wasn’t audible, though, so the guy sitting next to me said that you could raise the amplitude by running your finger along the outside of the glass, rather than rim. He then demonstrated this. It was like a nice physicics lecture, because the raised amplitude of sound, directly corresponded to a raised amplitude of waves in the fluid and red wine got sprayed out all over me. Fortunately, I wore clothes that would bear this, just in case.
So we sat and played wine glasses in the background, while the TV people had inane banter encouraging alcholholism. Why would you play a wineglass, when you could drink the contents??!! Well don’t drink and drive, folks, but be sure to drink a lot. Certainly, drink alll the wine in front of you rather than linger over it or make music! Um, actually, the “why would you play a wineglass…” sentence is a direct quote.
Then my stand partner showed the TV people how to play the wineglasses. The male announcer said, “Oh I think mine’s a bit sharp.” and then drank some. Ha ha ha. Go alchoholism. Anyway, he has acting skills, because he didn’t gag on the auful wine.
Then the TV folks went to talk to Charles about the score auction. He pointed at the handwritten, signed scored by Lou Harrison and explained about them. Then, out of the blue, the host asked him if he watched Survivor. Charles looked startled and the female host said that whoever of Survivor has “finally met his match. ME!”
Clearly I’m not missing any life-enrichment by skipping the Tv medium. After this utterly meaningless bit of publicity was over (would anyone who want to watch that TV show want to come to our concert??), I asked Charles if he needed me to do anything. He said yes and had me watch a rehersal with him. I think he wants or needs a personal assistant or something.
After watching Amy X reherse, I went back to the OM office, where I did some kind of grunt work, then back to the PFA, where I sat at the auction information table and missed the composerss pre-concert talk. A lot of people wanted to look at the scores, but nobody was taking bid forms.
the concert was a world premiere of a new work by Ge Gan-ru that was studies of Peking Opera. It had a lot of fast plucking in the String Quartet and a piano part. The plucking seemed to flow from one instrument to another. They also did slides up and down the strongs. It definitely evoked Peking Opera, while also definitely New Music. Very interesting. Amy Cook and Mario were in the audience and so were Tiffany and Ed and Mitch and Mitch’s chew toy Stacey. Saw all of them at intermission.
Then Amy X Neuburg played. She did the same set that I saw her do over the summer at the San Jose Museum of Art. Her songs are pop-y and entertaining and use Bel Cant opera singing techniques, which means that she can sing really well in a flat or in an operatic style. All of her songs use vocal loops. So she’ll sing one thing and loop it and then sing with herself and loop that. Bobby McFerrin uses this technique too, but Amy X is cooler.
The audience thought she was the bomb. I don’t think many of them knew of her work before. She sold more CDs than anyone else at the festival.
then Evelyn Glennie played two songs for solo snare drum and several songs for solo marimba. She wrote one of the songs that she played, but the rest were written by other folks. You wouldn’t think that anyone would want to listen to songs for solo snare drum, but she was so amazing, I could have listened to another hour of snare drum. And the marimba was also incredible. At one point, she was singing the same pitches that she was playing on the marimba. What makes this an especially amazing feat is that she’s been profoundly deaf since age 8. She plays with tremendous warmth and sensitivity and with great care. She has an incredible dynamic range (the ability to play very loudly, very softly and in between) and is probably the world’s best percussionist. Apparently, she’s also very gifted at reading lips, but obviously cannot dect sounds that she doesn’t visually witness. Christi says that she went to the artist retreat one day and there was a loud noise outside. Everyone jumped except Glennie, who asked what happened.
Anyway her performance was inspiring and changed the way I view the snare drum.
One of the Board of Directors had a party afterwards, so we headed over, as did Mitch, Stacey, Tiffany and Ed. It was in her five story warehouse/loft thingee. All of us unimportant hangers-on tried to look as if we belonged and tried not to be intimidated by the decor. Oh yes, I always go to parties at houses with Lichtenstein and Warhol hanging on the wall. Wanted to inpect them to see if they were real or prints, but didn’t want to be uncool. Wanted to talk to the composers but didn’t know then and hadn’t been introduced and didn’t want to be uncool. Christi introduced me to the hostess. People started going home. As it got less croweded, I started being less cool and talked to a bunch of nifty folks. Some guy on his way out said “Gxis la revido!” I said “Cxu vi parolas esperanton?”
the guy took esperanto with Ed Williger at Stanford but had quit just weeks before Tiffany, Christi, Mitch and I had started. He was amazed to learn that several esperantists had been at the party. He was kind of drunk though and tried to engage everyone in a game of charades. We were parking on a tow-away after 2:00 AM spot, so we took off and then spent more than an hour on the bridge trying to get home.
Overall, great concert. Great party. I haven’t been to party that cool since the era of dot com launches ended. I just heard today that thursday actually had the best turnout of all the nights. Also, I leanred that the symphony opening was scheduled for wednesday also (poor planning, really) and the Chronicle reviewer skipped it to come to the OM concert! Unheard-of!!
More later

Old News

In the old days of HTML, everything needed a title and when you send an email, it needs a subject, so I feel compelled to title every blog entry, even if the title is insipid. is this a dumb idea or good practice thinking up titles, since every piece of usic needs a title, no matter ow insipid. Of course, I’ve been titling some of those by date. Hmmm

Untitled Blog Entry


Last Wednesday, I did not go to work with Christi for some reason. None of my car pool really wanted to go to the Rorem reception, so I skipped it. I didn’t drink the good wine. I didn’t meet the composers or the board of directors. I didn’t hear Tom Armanio’s speech. He had two minutes allotted to him in the schedule. I understand he went somewhat over time. In retrospect, I have no idea why I didn’t just go with Christi to work that morning.
I did see the concert, although not the pre-concert talk. The only song of Rorem’s that I’d really heard before was I am Rose, which is not my favorite song, so I went to the concert with low expectations. It started and was very neo-romantic. His songs seemed to be composed primarily with intellectual conciet, to show off his skill at setting the words, rather than to highlight the meaning of the words. He used a whole bunch of poetry about love, life and death, mostly death. as the piece went on though, the power of the words began to build intensity and his setting seemed more to highlight the intensity. finally, by the third part, in the midst of a long and emotional, angry, worried poem about AIDS that the baritone was belting out with all the anger and intensity that belonged in the poem, the audience was moved to tears. There was a lot of sniffling in the auditorium. I reached for my hankerchief.
There was a lot of ego in the settings, but also a lot of artistry. The singing and piano playing was excellent. All of the songs were played through with only minimal pause. At the end, the applause was tremendous. the Palace of Fine Arts is not a resonant hall and applause tends to die very quickly, but the audience was very enthusiastic and clapped for a long time.
Then one of the opera singers, two pianists and the gay men’s chorus came out to play and sing christi’s arrangement of King David’s Lament for Johnathan by Lou Harrison. It was moving and fit very well with Rorem’s work. It also personalized and made immediate all of the song and poetry about death. Some of the poems were very immediate and personal that Rorem set, but Lou just died and many of the singers, players and even audience members knew him. He was featured in the previous year’s festival and spoke briefly at the film festival, so many folks there had at least seen him before. The song is a wonderful and beautiful lament and Christi’s setting flowed very well from soloist, to chorus to chorus and audience singing. The San Francisco Chronicle review described it as “moving.”
Christi, however, was not happy. There was no time for a tech rehersal, so the micing of the chorus was uneven and they were quiet (the acoustics in the hall are not good enough for anyone to sing unamplified, even a full chorus). the sound guy tried bumping up the volume and good a bit of feedback. Also, one of the piano players apparently did not have time to reherse. The piece opens with a piano line that continues throughout and some nice tone clusters. One of the pianists missed some of the opening notes and although the performance notes called for them to link arms, Christi said they did not do so. The piano part quickly came together, though. and the audience’s singing was surprisingly good, given the difficulty of the vocal line. There were clearly some excellent singers in attendance.
afterwards, I was listenign to what folks around me were saying and it was all good. Charles told me that he felt bad for Christi when the pianist missed the notes, but I don’t think many folks in attendance noticed it, or if they did, they forgot by the end.
All in all, and excellent evening and the largest audience of the entire festival.

New News


Protools is softare that is used of sound editting. It does everything that you can do with a multie track tape recorder and a mixing board and a bunch ofthings you can’t. It’s got 24 possible tracks and splicing and just like photoshop quickly automates things that used to take hours with razor blades and splicing tape. It’s very cool.
I’ve got some heardware that lets me record up to eight tracks at once (actually, I could go 16, if I attached some other stuff, but only two mic pre-amps) anyway, I have two versions of protools. One for OS9 and one for OSX. I’ve been having problems with both versions. Right now, I can create a file and record to it on OS9 and play it back and edit it in OSX. I haven’t tried recording in OSX yet, but all the other things won’t work in theother operating sysem. I can’t create files in 10. I can’t play them back or edit them in 9. Just thought I’d share.


I finally got five minutes of bart sound mixed into a file. The file has problems, but we’re going to have the judges look at a websirte to listen to them and the mp3 conversion hides the flaws. Thank goodness, technology is working in my favor for once! The voice-over part is not finished being editted to pieces yet. I have have a very nice sample of jean saying wistfully, “well, i guess that’s unemployment.” My midiverb seems to be on the fritz (what’s going on with my equipment, anyway? did the pentagon test it’s EMP missle offshore or something?), so i added a 13 milisecond delay with 50% feedback at a 20% mix for reverb. Many, that’s got some aliasing… I’d use if for noise FX, but it’s wayyyyy to cheesy. URL of website will be posted here. We’re calling it “Mind the Metro” with a subtitle that somehow explains that metros are the same everywhere, even though they’re different and the universality of the urban commuter.

Other Minds

I spent all day yesterday working in the OM office. I processed email unsubscribe requests so they can send out their giant reminder email. And i put inserts into programs. about 2000 of them. And I put comp tickets in envelopes. I don’t want to speculate on the number, but I’ve heard a rumor that 25% of the audience is going to be comped in. Ushers get two free comp tickets for another night. It would be cheaper to pay the ushers a living wage than give them these tickets. It’s the most generous ushering thing that I’v ever heard of. Anyway, I continued helping Christi with comp tickets until midnight, when I fell asleep on the floor with my head in her lap. Maybe that was somehow helpful.
the festival starts today. they’re playing a piece arranged by Christi. If you don’t have a ticket and want to go to a night aside from tonight, I have an extra ticket. I’ll be plaing on friday night. Contact me if you want to go.

Brain Tumors

Somebody on one of my mailing lists might have one. I met somebody with a brain tumor when I was in Portland and I guess I looked visibly freaked-out when Renee told me because she and a number of other peope asked if I was alright.
The last holy candle has burned out.

Things that keep me awake at night

More brain tumors…

I can’t hear as well in my right ear as in my left. Normally, I just wonder why this is so (I always hold the telephone on the right. I’m on the right side of the band I play in… hrm, but I was on the left when I played in hgihschool band. My tuba bell was on the right though…) and make vague plans to get an earwax removal kit. but at 3:00 AM, it’s a brain tumor. “Can I see as well with my right eye? I don’t think very creativly! Maybe my right brain is being impacted.” Yeah, the thing that are giant at 3:00 AM are stupid by morning.


Fundamentalists have the death thing all figured out. You die (or get raptured) and go to heaven where you get to spend an eternity with people who agree with you about everything and get to bad-mouth all the folks in hell and occassionally yell down that they can’t have any of your bottled water.
Catholics always have to go and make everything more complicated. Because of that story with the grape pickers, whether or not you get into heaven has to do with whether or not you’re in a state of grace when you die. That’s it. If the pope cursed god as his last thought, he’d go to the fiery pit, whereas if Dubya Bush’s last thoughts were, “oh my god, what was I doing? Jesus, forgive my misdeeds!” he’d go right to heaven. Everybody is equal in heaven.
except that everybody is not equal in heaven. There are all these saints floating around. Saints are God’s special friends. You can’t square it, if St. Joan of Arc is God’s special freind, how can she be equal with Bob the foul-mouthed butcher from down the street? And what about Bob’s swearing? He was never sorry for it. It was a sin on his soul, even though he was good enough for heaven, he still wasn’t perfect. Hence: purgatory. If you didn’t finish your penance on Earth, you get another shot after you die.
Purgatory is the great equalizer. Basically, non-saints are imperfect and need to cleanse sin from their souls. So they go to a temporary hell for a while and burn for their sins. when a fundamentalist’s mother dies, he gets comforting thoughts of Mom having afternoon cofee with Jesus, bad-mouthing sinners, just like at home. But Catholics geet to lie awake at 3:00 AM wondering if their devout mother is burning for her sins. It can keep you awake for sure.

Say a Prayer

fortunately, like Americans have Mis Manners, Catholics have the Baltimore Catcheism to give us algorythms to handle problems. Your prayers can get folks out of purgatory faster. It’s like writing letters for convicts or something. This is the prayer:

Come holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of thy love
Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created
And thou shalt renew the face of the earth
Let us Pray
O God, who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful
by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same
spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His con-
solation. through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

saying that prayer every day for a month gets you a five year plenary indulgence with the usual conditions applying. I don’t know what that means except five years less purgatory for mom. See, you can say prayers like that and transfer the indulgence to a nother person, provided the person is deceased. Also, in the Middle ages, thrity people fasting for one day was equivalent to one person fasting for a month. after a while, they decided that you couldn’t pay other people to fast for you anymore, so the group fasting fell out of fashion. but if they did it for free, it still counted.
this means that if thirty people recite this little prayer to themselves today, my mom spend five fewer years in purgatory. this is what the internet is really all about. Sending money to debtors, a dollar at a time until they can pay off their credit card debt, or saying prayers for dead people.
My mom sure believed in all this stuff. I’m not too sure about it. It all seems kind of overly structured and fair to me and I’ve seen no sign of anything else God made being fair, but at 3:00 AM, it all seems very reasonable. So maybe I could sleep better at night. Say a prayer for my mom. And that guy on my mailing list who might have a brain tumor.

My Dad

He’s taken up being a camera guy for pledge breaks on KTEH channel 54 in San Jose. Sometimes he films the phone bank volunteers and sometimes he films the host’s finger as s/he points at pledge gifts. One day, he may work his way up to being a sound guy. I offered him use of my mixing board if he wants to practice at home, but he declined. He’s also got a red BMW motorcycle. It’s a nifty looking bike. I haven’t seen his leather outfit yet.

Rock Band

I was drunk. I played the tuba instead of bas. If I’m drunk next week, I’ll play the tuba again. I think learning to play rock while drunk helps with the rock and roll lifestyle thing. I’m ready to be a rockstar.


Ok, so I was sitting talking with Christi and Jenya last night about our installation plans when the phone rang. I answered it “Saluton!” since that seems to make telemarketters hang up. But then a strangers started talking quickly and fluently to me in Esperanto! I was flabbergasted. Not knowing what to make of it, I agreed to everything the person said, cathcing only that she was from ELNA. She thanked me about 100 times as she hung up. I have no idea what I agreed to. Maybe I’ll be cleaning restrooms at ELNA headquarters. anyway, I think I might have told her I was Christi. It was very confusing.

right now

Mate is a stimulant tea thingee from south america. It inspitres me to write too many words while avoiding tasks such as walking to the drugstore to get an earway removal kit or working on editting my 11 year old neighbor yelling VJ-style into a mic about how BART is dangerous for little kids.

and now for my latest blog novel!

Ok, so i’ve been writing too much lately. but you know, i spent a lot of time thinking, so it seemed like a good idea.
Wednesday, the 19th was my work in the Other Minds tape archive day, and so I did and it was uneventful. Thursday was my work in the Other Minds office day and it was uneventful and long. We didn’t leave till after 7:00, but we didn’t get there very early. I finally exchanged my binaural mics for some omni directional ones and so i was secretly recording christi’s office! anyway, they had me print and stuff envelopes. sometime soon, i’ll use it to record the sounds of BART for the singapore thing we’re doing with Jenya.
CHristi is doing an arrangement of Lou Harrison’s King David’s Lament for the OtherMinds festival. She is compining the original version and the choral versions. It will be sung by a solo tenor and then the SF Opera Chorus and then the SF Gay Men’s Chorus. She says it’s really hard work, becuase it’s Lou and she is treating it with so much respect. She’s certainly spent many hours on it. And at the end of the OM office day, folks were looking at the program, making last minute changes before it went to the printers. There was an argument about whether to credit Christi as the arranger. You’ve seen credits in programs and movie credits. It says: “Some Song by Jow Blow arr. Jane Blew”. That “arr” is the arranger. That’s what credit looks like. I’ve been reading an orchestration book (“orchestration” is another word for “arranging” and it’s useful for composing, anyway) and one of the first things it says is how to credit an arranger, specifically yourself for your own work. It would be unheard of to not credit an arranger! good lord. so we’re talking about Seattle.
Our toy piano is gone. It’s being played in a concert tomorrow night. it’s very exciting.
And our clothes washer caused a small flood. Tiffany heroically and quick-thinkingly, took fast action and saved equipment and OM archive tapes from getting wet. But all of my formerly clean socks were impacted. Every one of them. We called some guys to come out and repair it. I should not have dropped my spanish class. Arg. Anyway, they took a bunch of pieces of it away again and said they could come back with new parts on tuesday. the thing ran ok, it just slowly fills up with water when not going. so it would have been possible to turn off the water when not in use and still be able to wash all of my formerly-clean socks. except that the repair guys took the parts. anyway.

don’t quit your day job

Indeed. It doesn’t matter if you’re so cool that somebody in holland wants to do a festival of your stuff (which is happening for Ellen Fullman. she’s in Europe right now talking about it.), you can’t quit your day job. So I’ve spent some time thinking of how to fix this problem. after all, an internationally recognized composer/performer should be past the career point where she has to make sacrifices for art. Those sacrfices should be paying off by now.

there is not enough money allocated for New Music in the USA.

Why not? Modern art museums are popular and enjoy civic support. But comparable music centers, like the opera, while they also get community support, don’t tend to perform new works very often. There are no civic music organizations that exist to showcase 20th and 21st century music. what organizations do exist, like Other Minds aren’t an institutional part of the region and rely very largely on private donations (although they do get NEA grants). Since they’re not “faith-based,” nor an offical piece of San Francisco or the region, this is unlikely to change. therefore, capitalism is to blame.
When the proletariat rise up, then artists will be able to persue their art. a person will be a stone mason in the morning, a poet in the afternoon, a composer in the evening and a garmet worker the next day! but in the mean time…
the Other Minds festival is really cool. (christi will be arranging one of the pieces in the festival! Really! It’s so cool!) But the Other Minds festival is expensive. so is the opera, which does get a chunk of public money. Classical music is therefore an elitist, burgeouis fetish!
Nope. Operas lose money. Every opera always loses money. When Phillip Glass did einstein on the Beach, he sold out every performance, got rave reviews, and tried t keep ticket prices affordable. IIRC, he ended up being over $100K in debt. Other Minds also loses money. They bleed red ink every year. Ticket sales and public moneys don’t come close to matching production costs. Which leads one to wonder why Metalica and The Three Tenors can fill up stadiums and be profitable. Firstly, there are a lot fewer people needed to make The Three Tenors happen than it takes to put ona whole opera. Less costume design. Less stage design. Also, they do it in a stadium, which has very poor acoustical properties (sounds terrible), but holds a whole lot of people who pay $25 and up to get in. Those ticket prices aren’t affordable either. Maybe The Three Tenors are a burgeouis fetish! (I think I will refer to them as such from this moment forward). Also, they are not only willing to compromise their art by playing in a stadium, they actually have the draw to fill it up. Metalica is in basically the same situation. Meanwhile, Other Minds won’t be able to completely fill the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre every night that they’re there. Also, because it’s only a single event, rather than a touring group, the travel costs are higher on a per-show sort of basis. One of the guys is coming from Down Under. If he were playing ten shows in an Other Minds tour, his travel expenses could be possibly recouped as the Other Minds tour bus crossed the West coast. But instead, one conert is suppossed to pay for everything.
So why do the Three Tenors and Metalica fill stadiums? why is their audience so much larger? It’s name recognition and especially radio play. Metallica gets played on the radio because listeners know their music, like it, want to hear more of it, and will listen to an ad for soda pop while waiting for the songs to come on. new Music doesn’t get radio play. Because listeners don’t know it. Because it doesn’t get radio play.


It may be more complicated than that. In the Bay Area, some college music stations play Noise and some “high art” New Music. Also, until ten or fifteen years ago, KPFA played quite a bit of New Music. so in some radio markets, listeners can and do listen to noise and New Music. Two of the best stations for this, KALX (UC Berkeley) and KFJC (Foothill Community College) often win awards for being the most popular eclectic stations in the area. Since they often give Noise prominent time slots, it seems likely that playing it contributes to their popularity. So if it’s popular, it follows that people would be willing to listen to soda pop ads in between songs, which means it would be commercially viable for profit-driven stations to play it. but they don’t. why not?

Homogeny is not a term for “lesbian,” but homogyny would be.

there are no commercial, eclectic stations in the Bay Area. This is one of the top ten radio markets in the USA. Very few stations are locally owned, if any are. they are owned by Disney, Clear Channel, etc. Gigantic corporations own our airwaves. There used to be rules about how many stations in a market could be owned by one company. Clinton got rid of those. As stations like Live-105 got purchased by corporate giants, their local programming decreased and their coverage of smaller acts also decreased. Now, their playlist is set by folks who may not live here and is the same playlist used by many other stations across the country. the DJs may not live here. things are centralized. The radio stations are paid thousands of dollars by record companies when they pick up a Major-label song and start playing it (this commission is funnelled through folks called “indies” so as to skirt payola laws. But clear channel owns the indies now too, so they get to keep all the money, sicne the indies used to keep half the cash. anyway, it’s payola and if it’s legal, it’s on the barest of technicalities.). It’s cheaper to do things centrally and you get to pocket all of that major label money. this creates obstacles for Noise Mucisians and folks into New Music. Very few New Music composers are out on major labels. Also, while noise plays well out in the Bay Area, it might not play so well in other parts of the country and it might not be able to sustain an audience if it plays on a station all day, every day. an eclectic format weakens brand identity. A rock station is a rock station is a rock station. Consistency of product means no surprises for consumers and it’s easier for corps to advertise.
there are “high art” classical stations, but they don’t play new music either. they play nothing newer than the Romanic period. the local classical station, KDFC (rumored to be Mormon-owned) advertises that it’s relaxing. then they play ads for Lexus. They’re better than many classical stations in the country, because they play minor-key movements. Many classical stations play only happy, major key movements, so you never hear more than one movement of a work when you listen. Christian groups call this “light classical” and highly endorse it as free from the influence of Satan.

Pablum for the Masses

Almost every commercial station plays music that’s soothing or relaxing. Ok, maybe Metallica isn’t exactly soothing, but it’s certainly not challenging. And KDFC practically brags that their music could put you to sleep! Why is commercial music auditory soma? There’s two possible answers that I can think of.

Work Ethic

Americans work more house than anyother country on Earth. We’ve outpaced the stereo-typically work-a-holic Japanese. (I like the term “work-a-holic.” It’s rediculous. Like people acually want to work insanely long hours or two jobs and it’s not just so they can get by. hahahaha! It’s by choise! right! anyway). People work super-long hours, possibly two jobs and they have to commute to these jobs. sice public transit system might inhibit the sales of SUVs, the few areas that have decent public transit often underfund it, so most folks have to commute by car. The news they listen to while they spend maybe two hours a day coming and going from their ten to twelve hours of employment (possibly with unpaid overtime, for “exempt” non-union workers), tells them that terrorists are going to blow up the bridge they’re on (while stuck in traffic) and the traffic reports suggest that maybe they should have just stayed at work an extra couple of hours rather than go out in this mess. Injury accidents have killed 15 workers and, well, you get the point. then they need to find food, try to spend time with their families, do chores, clean the house, run errands, etc. At the end of a day like that, do you want to listen to new and challenging music? Or the three tenors?

the Children are our Future

Teenagers still have some free time, though. I keep reading that they have more homework than ever and more scheduled events than ever before, but I’d like to hold out some hope that they still have time to listen to music. MTV still exists, so they must. Also, it seems to me that a lot of folks form musical tastes that will last a lifetime when they’re young. If you like the Beattles when you’re 15, chances seem to be that you’ll like them for the rest of your life. so all we have to do is get teenagers listening to Noise, New Music and Contemporary Classical.
It’s a curious thing, though. When I was young and impressionable, advertisements used to tell me that Classical Music was totally uncool. Unhip. I always thought this was an aside as advertisers vainly tried to figure out how to appeal to us young-uns. And this is probably true to a certain extent. If millions of teenagers decided they loved Micheal Nyman and Phillip Glass, the corporate media would bend over backwards to give it to them. The composers would be approached to hawk tennis-shoes and soda pop. and if they were too principled to do it, some now-quite-as-edgy ripoff band would be happy to do it.
Most music is put together by record executives. once in a while, something new emerges from College radio, like Nirvana did, but I think most songs are from established acts. and may of these acts were assembled b industry insiders who know what’s popular and how to put together a sure-thing. So as soon as something new comes out, folks are copying it. and those folks sound a bit more mainstream and formulaic. And eventually a formula is developed and a producer can quickly put togther an album by following the formula. this isn’t challenging, but it’s a garunteed way to make a buck.

More sinister plans?

It’s possible that the giant corporations that control the media don’t want kids to think challenging thoughts. I mean, our crazy work schedules and lame corporate art doesn’t prevent people from going to Modern Art Museums. The MOMAs are popular. People clearly have an interest in seeing new things. If they want to see new things, it’s entirely possible that they want to hear new things too. Classical music, even classical music that’s 300 years old is complicated. Old music is still challenging if you’ve never been exposed to it before. Advertisers, in their quest to sell breakfast cerial, tell kids to stay away from challenging music. It’s possible that they don’t want kids to expect music to be challenging. Maybe kids that were used to inspired performances of complicated music would lose their patience from corporate schlock-rock and preformulated pop songs. Maybe they would expect more from music. Maybe their tastes would change even more unpredictably. Maybe they would start thinking more about media.
you can argue that it’s elitist to say that classical music requires more thinking than other forms. So substitute new jazz for new classical. It’s still more thought-provoking than Britney Spears and more visceral and more inspired (when performed well). In any case, classical and new jazz are more complicated than pop tunes. Just like chess is more complicated than connect-4. And chess builds brain-power and critical thinking, and you don’t see advertisements for chess sets either. Also, coincidentally, they’s not enough money for schools or school art programs and corporations aren’t exactly upset about that. but they seem to have definite opinions about whther blowing up Iraq is a good idea.

Critical thinking might make you think critically and critical thinkers aren’t as good at being canon fodder

Cutting money from education is an investment in the future. the future of prisons. Seriously, folks in college classes study about social planning and they learn that when you cut money from education, you know that you will have to spend more money on prisons later on. Look at California. the modern prison-boom started 20 years after Regan. and prisons are profitable. You get money for construction. You can get cheap prison labor. The prisoners are captive audince, so you can charge them more than $3/minute to use pay phones (which phone companies do in California prisons). There’s corporate profits all the way around!
Would chess and new Music keep kids from eventually going to jail? Um. I have no idea. but you wouldn’t want to establish a pattern would you.

We must overthrow the capitalist system!

In the ols days, the government paid for tthe arts. In these old days, the government were feudal lords. the patronage system finaced the composition of New Music. Sicne the patrons were the government, this was a government function. when Alan Smith proposed switchng to a capitalist syetm to do everything, he specifically said that the arts should be exempted from this change because the arts were valuable and might not survive if viewed as just another commodity. This bit of advice apparently didn’t make it into the USA edition of The Wealth of Nations or we chose to ignore it. either way, governments are suppossed to support art and ours isn’t.
In the thirties, we had the WPA and tons of art was created. Those days are gone. the NEA gets smaller every year because conservatives hate art. Why? Maybe because art isn’t conservative by nature. Laura bush cancelled her little poetry thing becuase she suddenly discovered that most good poets are pacafists. (Does being good at persuits like poetry, art and music make you more likely to be leftist? it seems to. why?) Art is challenging! art asks questions! Art makes people think. Conservatives, or rather, reactionaries, don’t appeal to people’s higher natures. they appeal to gut emotions and unthinking, simplistic responces to complex problems. Well, this is true of all politicians. So we can see where our arts funding went. (Remember too, that corporations, including those that own radio stations and record companies have a tendency towards conservativism.)

Private Patronage

Ever since somebody decided that taxes were a tool of Satan and could only be levied to pay for bombs, private charities ahev assumed responcibility for many public works. Before you know it, your city will be hosting a telethon to pave the roads. In the mean time, we rely on private donors to aid those in pverty and to fund the arts. both of these things are the responcibility of the government by rights. but our government has switched over to supporting corporations only. and corporations are basically feudal and anti-democratic. therefore, the haeds of corporations are functioning as our feudal government. you can see this is true by looking at the white house right now. Anyway, it means those guys should be acting personally as patrons and keeping artists and composers in their employ. And really, since we’ve decided to run our government through private donations, the middle class should be giving money to arts foundations. and they are, but it’s not enough. Too much money is being diverted to build bombs.

Low budjet Patronage

Want to comission me to write a song for you? I’ll work for pretty cheap. You’re only turnging 50 once, so why not celbrate witha song written especially for the occasion? Your marraige is the begining of a new life for you. It deserves a new song to accompany it. Comissioning music can be surprisingly affordable. come to our website and you can browse through composers in a variety of price ranges and styles. then, we’ll help you find performers in your area. What better way to show off your equisite taste than by commissioning a piece of new music.
This is one solution. the down side is that we wouldn’t be lapdogs to the rich, we would be lapdogs to the upper-middle class. It seems worse somehow, but maybe that’s classism on my part.
I don’t have a better solution aside from socialist revolution. some smart arts advocacy group is putting up billboards that say “Art” Ask for More” and “Art: Are you getting your fair share?” This seems like a good idea, but I don’t know how it can compete with the likes of Clear Channel. And since the billboards are often owned by Clear Channel, well, it’s putting money in the enemy’s pocket.

Three Paths to Art

In the end, I was only able to figure out three methods for musicians to be able to quit their day jobs.

  • Inherit Money It worked for Thomas Buckner and me! Maybe it can work for you!
  • Leave the country Most first-world countries have money for art. Maybe you can get some.

I forgot number three! ack. I should have made notes before wiriting this!
This is not as important as poverty or agressive, imperialist warfare, but it’s still important. and these issues may be linked. something must be done about this.

Grumpy Update

Yes, I’m grumpy and this is what I’ve been doing:
Christi came home Tuesday night without her laptop. Wednesday morning, we had to go pick up Joe/Zeppie and take him to the OM Tape archives. Apparently, last time it was aproblem because we showed up at 9:02 instead of 9:00 and made the building owners late for something. So we have to be there absolutely by nine and Christi has left Zeppie’s address on her computer, which is in San Francisco. This story is not that exciting. We arrived at 9:00 and spent several hours cataloging stuff, including something called the World Ear Project. Back when KPFA was extra cool, they would just play any sonds that anybody recorded. Tape recorders were kind of expensive then, so they had a smaller number of potential folks sending stuff in, and people who had tape recorders generally knew how to use them, so these are pretty high quality recordings. None of the tapes had numbers, but they all have titles (and the shelfs are numbered). So we were typing things like, Cat eating cat food in a backyard on Regent Street. with the actual address. Part of the reason we’re figuring out what is in the archive is so that we know what’s there, but it’s also so we can go to potential doners and say, “Here’s a fabulous recording that needs to be digitized! Give us the $400 we need to do it!” I’m not sure that this 1971 cat is going to be a big money maker. Christi was joking that we could go knock on the door of that address and see if the persons living there now want to pay for restoring the tape. Charles Amirkhanian glanced at the tape and told us whose house it used to be and a bunch of background. He can look at any tape in the archive, no matter how minimally labelled, and tell you all sorts of things about how and when it was recorded, who was there, what happened, etc. Anyway, he found a tape of the premeire of Lou Harrison’s piece King David’s Lament and got very excited about doing it at the OM9 festival and decided he had to go right away to digitize the tape and left it behind.
So after lunch, we went by his home/studio with the tape and recorded it to protool. Charles did not clean his tape haed at first, until it was questioned about how dirty it might be. Zeppie wanted to photgraph it. There was actualyl a piece of tape stuck to the head. We had already played the Harrison tape a few times when this was noticed. I think the tape might have been degrading with every play…. We spent time trying to mix it there. Maybe and hour. Then I decided maybe it would be better to do it on my own computer.
So I went home with the Pro Tools project and spent an hour or so trying to get the super-optimal mix. Then Christi and I went to Spanish class. The teacher there is obviously spending his non-teaching hours writing a thesis on second language acquistition. He spent the first 45 minutes or one hour of the class talking about how language is acquired. Interesting. I can’t imagine he would beleive in Esperanto as it doesn’t jive with his theories. He told us that the most important conversations we would have with folks would be practical. “Where is the bathroom?” “What’s your phone number?” “What’s your name?” “What’s your passport number?” etc. So we learned some shape named and colors and then he gave us cut out squares, rectangles and circles and some phrases for locating things and had us play battle ship. Then he talked extremely briefly about shops and then gave us lists of clues for where the shops fit into a map that he gave us. He said, “There is only one correct solution as there is only one correct solution for all of my exercizes. . . We can talk about why this is some other time.” La tienda de X es entre A y B. or something. I’m not sure how much spanish I learned, but I feel good about second language acquistion. I think the exercizes would work really well for a lesson 5 in Esperanto. At lesson 5, you’d have some vocalubulary and kinds know how the language works and then you could learn more vocab, like shapes, colors and locations by doing exercizes and you’d probably feel a lot less lost than I did.
Then we went back to Charles’ house with a zip disk of the Harrison piece. He was super-excited because he was reading Lou’s biography and the piece was mentioned, but the biographer didn’t know it had ever been preimered. Apparently, it’s for four hands on the piano and the players interlock arms. The piece is beautiful and is a very moving lament. I wish we could have had it at my mom’s funeral, for example. It’s wonderful. Anyway, Christi was looking at the bio and discovered that a choal version had been recorded in the 80’s and was included with the CD that came with the book. We put on the CD and found a excellently recorded, well produced, much bigger and hiss-free version of the same song. Charles said, “wow! Adn we were wasting time with that rinky-dink piano version!” yes indeed. non-profit is just like for profit, but without the profit.
So I went home and couldn’t sleep and so woke up late for my thursday volunteer in the OM office day and we missed BART so drove in. I could not wake up until I had a double latte. I had one yesterday morning too. I think I’m addicted. Anyway, so they gave me a list of people whose addresses I was suppossed to locate. This list included Lilly Tomlin, Sharon Stone, etc. You always hear about cyber-stalkers. I think they are after people less well-known. I couldn’t even find Lilly Tomlim’s agent. Not that I had an idea of how to search besdies google. I tried searching for “Lilly Tomlin” AND agent, but apparently she is widely quoted in signatures, something on the order of, “I always wanted to be someone when I grew up. I guess I should have been more specific.” Nerds love this quote. So I found many lengthy usenet archives of discussions for AI groups on intellegent agents.
Another guy that I was suppossed to look for was named “Eric Smith.” Whoever suggested him for this list had gone home. Was he a famous photographer? Does he lives in Texas and do topiary as an avocation? Has he writted books on pharmocology? All-righty. So I got through a large chunk of my list. (You can actually find a name and address for a Sharon Stone agent on a geocities site. Is it real? Who knows.) and gave up on the rest and came home and spent 20 minutes eating a banana and petting my dog and went back to Charles’ house for a meeting on the MPR project. This was 7:00 PM.
Minnesota Public Radio wants to air a show on modern music that draws material from the KPFA tape archives. They would give us money to digitize the tapes and possibly pay the people working on it. I got on the list for the project as a sound engineer or producer or composer or something. This show would be broadcast on NPR-affiliates, so people all over the country could hear it, except in much of the Bar Area, cuz KQED doesn’t do music anymore.
So we show up at Charles’ house at 7:00. We assemble in his studio and he says, “why have we called this meeting? What is this about?”
We remind him and on the meeting goes. He set the tone, kind of, with the start. At some point, he told Christi and I took keep a diary, so years from now when we try to remember details of the music scene, or a particular composer, we can go look at our journals and remember stuff. My blog, especially today, is dedicated to that vision. He also said, during an interview that will air tomorrow at 4:00, that peple who wanted to reminis about Lou Harrison could go to the Other Minds website to do so, because there would be kind of a memorial message board. Such a board does not currently exist. Christi does not work on Fridays. Really.
I got home at around 9:45 – 10:00, had a plate of noodles with canned pasta sauce (actually, bottled pasta sauce) and then typed away in my blog. Mitch would be concerned about the pasta, but my lunch was very healthy. There is a wonderful vietnamese restaurant near the OM office. I had string beans with tons of garlic and mushrooms and it came with a salad and wonderful soup (pinapple and vinegar were in it, as well as tamaters and tofu and other vegetable matter) and rice (ok, it was white rice) and an Imperial roll (this is a new phrase for me. It’s a really long fried thing, similar to a spring roll, but bigger). It was great. Especially the soup and garlic beans. The thai place across the street from it also has excellent soup. The mission is a soup neighborhood. I just made that up. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. I want shepherd’s pie and asparagus and artichokes for dinner, but I’m suffering for art.
tiffany is asleep, so I can’t work on my symphony (this situation will persist until digidesign ships digi001 drivers for OSX). Phillip Glass only has time to write music in the mornings, so he would only write down musical ideas that came to him during morning hours and thus trained himself so that now he only has musical ideas in the mornings, or so he wrote in a book that I read. That’s discipline.