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Entries in artistic vision (24)

Thursday
May032012

Rhythmic Catharsis +20

I knew it. I knew 1992 would be a year demanding a quasi-nostalgic look. It was the first full calendar year after high school so it was certainly going to be a time of change and new insight and adventure. I guess it was that, but the story I am about to tell isn't nearly so captivating. It's about aimless young men biding their time in suburbia with the help of a drumset.

18 year old Ed with drums on a new homemade rack system. The shells are mismatched because two were add ons from another kit.My kit in transition before the refinishing, but after the add on toms were brought in. May 1992.

Tales from recent months have chronicled the exile from home once my drums and love for pounding the skins proved to be unwelcome. Enough of that story has been told by now and you just need to skim back to about November 2011 to get on track with those stories. Today's is a related development because it started a new concept in my creative history. I don't want to oversell the idea, but it did make a break point where things went on in a new way and in such a way that shaped a lot of history to come.

Drum set at the bridge. Seems lonely but there's a road just beyond a chainlink fence that provides a boundary so stalkers won't get to us and leave us for dead.At our favorite bridge in Mission Valley, spring 1992.

When Matt and I were out in the parking lots, parking tunnels, and wherever else we could take the drums and do guerilla percussive pounding, we didn't really have any plan but to go blow off steam and have nothing but a few hours to waste in our time away from Subway. After the middle of April 1992, I was on permanent time off from the Subway where we met. All I had going then was a semester of school that was coming to its end, and little else but a raging anticipation of my trip to Germany coming up in July and August.

May 3, 1992

I don't suppose May 3rd was any different from what we did on other such occasions down in Mission Valley. Matt played his takes on whatever metal and hardcore stuff he could emulate and I did my usual takes on Rush or whatever else I was doing then. Matt was probably banging on whatever else I brought along, probably not much more than a cowbell or three, or he was thumping on parts of the kit while I played. He might have been honking the car horn too. And he was probably screaming some really odd shit. I have since parted with the recording from that day. But my calendar shows that it was on that day when the name "Rhythmic Catharsis" was first used. Before the advent of digital editing and multitrack recording that, taken together, can make projects go on for weeks, months, years, it was good enough to slap a cassette (it's a form of recording media, for you young'uns out there!, and not a very good one) into the recorder, set it up, and play back the recording. In those early days almost everything was a kick to listen back to—even randomly implemented double drumming and screaming and smacking of found items in an underground concrete cave under a freeway!

The pen and pencil drawn cover of the third DWA recording, featuring the screaming, pounding stick figures at their respective percussive stations.The cover of DWA's third tape, Rhythmic Catharsis.

Because of the new indignity of having been fired from Subway weeks earlier and having had a restraining order put on me and the looming appearance in court to make an already-doomed attempt at defending against it, I guess that day was channeling even more youthful energy and rage. Something sparked in me to call it rhythmic catharsis. Once a tape is recorded, that's the end of the deal, so to call it a project, I gathered a few other bits that had accumulated in the few outings prior to that, and I made a sleeve using a word processing typewriter to type titles and other notes on the card that served as the album cover. I then drew a couple stick figures with super exaggerated gestures at a drumset and stand with a few cowbells, each screaming out. And so it was, Rhythmic Catharsis.

The thing is, that was just the "album" title. I was still referring to us as the name we adopted a couple months before, Drummers With Attitudes (DWA). In the first of two instances of an album title becoming the identity of the performer(s), this launched us as Rhythmic Catharsis. (The other time was in 1996 when I launched The Artist Presently Known As Ed with a tape I released that summer and later adopted the moniker as my persona. Obviously, sixteen years later, it's done well for me.)

Meta-Catharsis

Rhythmic Catharsis, the third tape from DWA, was really no different from the ones before it or the one after it, which was probably worse, if that is possible! But the new name gave me a bit of an excuse to play around with new ideas that included words that made some crude attempt at direction and phrasing. The song genie was let out with the rather crude and cynical Roly Poly Porky Boys tribute to my ex-bosses and their family.

Matt at the drums inside the warehouse we pirated. It has a bunch of random construction junk in it. Matt inside the warehouse we pirated a couple times that month of June 1992.

At the same time in the late May, I launched into a project of taking my Pearl Export knockoff drum kit completely apart down to wood shells and refinishing the now seven-piece kit with new pearloid wrap (from the very same material as used to adorn classic kits in the 60s, provided by some old codger named A.F. Blaemire who once made kits for Hal Blaine and others). The bearing edges were manually filed to a sharper edge using primitive means and the interior of the shells were smoothed out with repeated applications of wood filler, primer, and gloss black paint until they projected like cannons. The whole kit was also augmented with a custom rack my old man made for me. It looked and felt like new. It was like a rocketship, and far beyond what most Pearl Export kits ever looked or sounded like. I was beaming.

The Rhythmic Catharsette

With a new name, a new drum kit, a new approach to thinking about what we were doing, and stupidly much time on my hands, and moreso, fighting back depression, the next new thing was going to happen just before I headed out to Germany in July. You wanna know where the origins of TAPKAE.com reside? This whole chatty approach to the minutiae of my career as an artist like person really owes itself to a two issue fanzine from 1992 called The Rhythmic Catharsette. (It was actually a bit more newsletter like, taking up four sides of 8.5 x 11.) In the Catharsette, I detailed all this stuff in sickening detail. Since I had been on the school newspaper for one year, I had just enough knowledge to lay out the three columns of typed and printed copy, leaving space for images, and doing a few other bits to pretend it was a newspaper. It even had a masthead drawn by Matt, in one of his unusually cooperative moments. Of course it was done his way, and indicated another set of figures, this time one was playing drums upon the other's head. In the Catharsette, a fun little playground for my imagination, I turned our jams out in parking lots, warehouses, and even a trip to the local canyon/nature preserve into our "gigs" or even our "tour" and wrote reviews of those dates. In one weekend, we did four such stops and recorded much of it. Other Catharsette features included a survey question and "fan mail," preceded by the terms for publication of such missives:

Rhythmic Catharsette welcomes your letters. Please keep them brief, legible, interesting enough to want to be read, and polite, addressing us as "Sirs." Letters may be edited, censored, or banned at our discretion and we reserve and observe no rights so take your own risks.

A piece of fictional fan mail came was borrowed in form and narrative from the comedian Yakov Smirnoff. The bit about the radio being destroyed has to do with Matt carelessly placing my boombox recorder upon the car before we left home one day to go jam somewhere:

Dear Sirs: God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at the homeless persons' bridge on your last tour date here. I am 43 years old, homelss for 3 years and it's nice to know that there are people like you who came about the homeless. Bless you for your kindness to some forgotten homeless people under a bridge. One of the men I live near is 73 years old and always had his own radio but never let me use it. The other day he radio dropped into the river and washed away. It was awful and he asked me if he could use mine, and I said eat shit and die.

We were sufficiently cocky like young men tend to be, at least for the sake of shameless self promotion in a rag that hardly anyone would see anyway:

Rhythmic Catharsis, Inc., originally Drummers With Attitudes. Now we're San Diego's newest, hottest, coolest, baddest, loudest drum duo. Reservations or not, we can turn your residential or commercial are into a sonic dumping ground in minutes! So give us a call and we'll be there. Or don't call us, and we'll be there anyway. Our Motto: "No Rights Reserved or Observed."

Our respective drumming influences were named in groups that were supposed to number ten:

Matthew's gods:

Stewart Copeland; Dave Lombardo; Pete Sandoval; Ian Paice; Lars Ulrich; Chuck Biscuits; Mick Harris; Bill Ward; Nicko McBrain; Neil Peart.

Ed gods:

Mike Bedard (I forgot this was here); Mark Brzezicki; Larry Mullen; Tim Alexander; Manu Katche; the drummers of Dire Straits (Pick Withers, Terry Williams; Jeff Porcaro; Manu Katche); Stewart Copeland; the drummers of Jethro Tull (Doane Perry, Barriemore Barlow; Gerry Conway, et. al.); Neil Peart; Neil Peart (sic).

(You might see the common denominator. Sometimes I wonder if Neil Peart was all that held me and Pig together. There hasn't been much between us since NP started to lose it.)

The subscription information informed the reader of the terms:

Subscription Information: $100 for four issues, or $75 for two issues. Please send your request for a subscription with check or cash and the following: An essay of 500 words or less why you wish to join our fan club and receive our fanzine. Or write an essay telling how you feel on the topic of writing essays for people who don't really care about reading them. Or maybe I'll just send the next copy to you. How would that be? Easier on me.

Ed and Matt crouched at the front of the drums, new and glimmering with their slick shell wrap and the stainless steel rack.Matt and me with the just-completed reconditioned kit, just outside the door of the same warehouse. I wonder if we had yet tried the door to find we could actually get in and set up out of the sun?

And that's what I have on the page that's available to me right now. Later on in 1992, I wrote and mailed another complete issue of the Catharsette, but not because of high demand. In the early summer 1993 I typed out most of a third issue but shelved it. This Rhythmic Catharsis thing ended up being the first "band" I was in. It was far from mutual, but it did give me the chance to think in terms of doing songs, recording them somehow and then publishing. In the second half of 1992, after I returned from Germany, I pushed it farther along into song territory with some songs that had a bit more staying power, including one written in Germany, Is God Trying to Make Me a Smoker? (this recording is from 1999 with Todd Larowe on guitar and me on everything else, but the drums and basic vocal are about the same as Matt and I would have done), even though things were still really juvenile, the charm of just jamming with no particular focus began to fade when it made better sense to show up with some lyrics and hope that chaos would self organize into something decent on tape.

I never liked punk music. Still don't. But you have to admit that Rhythmic Catharsis was punk in its own way. Matt was closer to that more rebellious strain of music than ever was. I was into progressive rock and things that I had discovered along the way: Dire Straits' laid back country/folk rock, Fairport Convention's folk rock; Sting's fusion of world music and pop. My ambitions were always to make more refined music than I ever saw in the punk world. I just didn't have the knowledge or the ear or much of anything else. Always wanting to play stuff like Jethro Tull or Rush, I talked my way out of a lot of potential band options at a young age. So I got Matt. We put that drumset to some use though and in a way had fun pretending. I did, anyway. It was always my project. Matt was sometimes more clear about it. He was sort of embarassed because of the words I put before him. He brought some things but they were... too punk or hardcore or something. So part of our "sound" was really Matt acting out in rebellion against ME! I swear he threw me a few bones but then pissed all over the rest of what I was trying to accomplish. We never played real gigs though I did actually book a couple. He flaked out.

The drums a year later with a square tubing rack that was better proportioned for the job. This was the aesthetic peak of this drum kit.About a year later in 1993 I shed the homemade rack and bought the far nicer Pearl Jeff Porcaro rack. The drumhead featured a hand painted logo upon it. We had arrived. We broke up two months later.

As he showed his true colors in 1993, I found myself drawn to more legit musicking and away from him. By the time the book closed on Rhythmic Catharsis in August 1993, I had developed a sense of being accountable to recordings and a process that went beyond just the one take stuff. It was crude, crude, crude both in technology and implementation, but it was a start. I found in the course of the year following RC's demise that I had no drum style that would apply to anything of a real musical context. All that time wailing was one way to make "music" when playing solo drums and aspiring to be both a progressive rock drummer (known for being more complex) and to also be the sole instrumentalist in a duo. It's hardly conducive to developing a musical ear and technique. So that was what I had to learn while in the subsequent groups in 1993-94. But that is all a story yet to be told here.

Some heirs to the Rhythmic Catharsis material are still around in my more elaborate recordings done in the late 90s, a tribute to that stuff and a chance to make better versions of things that I thought had some promise if Matt's distractions were gone, and if I had some more musical sense. Taken as a bunch, the recordings that constitute my unreleased-but-nearly complete project, ReCyclED, represent my first attempts at making music in the crudest possible fashion, but in their present form, a number of the old tracks were done with a rather delightful array of cameos from local players on the working circuit. It's an odd mashup but there are some witty tracks done in that fashion.

As much as I've had a music career, I have to own my humble roots with DWA/RC.

Back in 1992 at the kit in a parking lot of a place we played. In the midst of office buildings, light industry, etc.December 1992, about the time of the second Rhythmic Catharsette, and just before the first crude attempts at "multitrack" recording. It was actually sound+sound recording, but it was what really launched my musical approach as a recording artist.

Tuesday
Apr242012

TAPKAE dot com at Ten

Ten years ago, sometime in the late winter/spring, the first complete incarnation of TAPKAE.com went up. Click the link there and you can see a fairly early version, courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine. (Once at the view of the old TAPKAE.com you can click forward in time to see incremental captures of the site as it has evolved, though there are a few versions that don't appear.)

Picking a domain name was never a point of debate or hand-wringing. What else would have made sense for me in 2001-02 when I was thoroughly embracing my moniker, The Artist Presently Known As Ed? Of course, that is a bit of a drain on memory resources for people (and a bitch to type out), so the shorter form, TAPKAE, was a brilliant and available alternative in just six letters. In those days, the .com top level domain was still quite open, and even today, there aren't many TAPKAEs out there, at least in the English speaking world. Mike Thaxton ("Thax"), a major supporter of my movement into the web, reserved the domain name and got me a hosting plan (100 mb!) that lasted from mid 2001 until early 2004 when I really took the reins and tried new stuff.

I was drawn to all this web stuff because of the value it offered to a self produced recording artist such as I was then. As a guy who employed the studio space to capture various instruments and to record things from start to finish, the chance to craft a whole digital presence was alluring. The notion of standardizing what songs were presented in high quality audio was a major lure; this was the promise of not needing to have to dub a cassette or burn a CD and then shove it into a package. There was a cool distance from all that. Putting a bunch of material out for all to hear seemed a great equalizing device when talking up my tunes and asking people to hear them.

HTML Dark Ages

I went to the Art Institute of California during the year from April 2001—April 2002. TAPKAE.com was developed with the help of things I was learning there. It was actually my second HTML website, the first being a project that focused on the eccentric composer Erik Satie. TAPKAE.com was developed in nearly the same way with some additional bits: javascript menu, pop up windows for detailed pages, and a shopping cart system that cost me more than I ever made in sales. This TAPKAE 1.0 version was pretty complex for a first time out. Totally self indulgent. The menu structure was using drop menus with a couple levels to them. My bio was split over three pages—pretty crazy stuff, and it was only my music related profile. An attempt at an image gallery was arduous.

Without CSS, HTML had therefore not evolved into the rather lean language it is now. Without CSS, the thing was a bear to visually inspect and keep styled consistently. All those bolds? All those italics? One by one, page by page. Without the database-driven active pages we have now in most platforms, each page had to be copied to provide the basis for another, or I'd have to use a template (I never did). It was arduous trying to keep it all together. Deciding to change a header style would be an absurd amount of work, even in Dreamweaver—mainly because I didn't use the site caching for years to come.

In 2002, who really knew what social media was? Mp3.com was one site I used that was starting something a bit like Myspace became. Even the word blog seems to have not been on my ears then. Web 2.0? RSS? Podcast? The Cloud? Facebook? Wordpress? Stuff we take for granted now wasn't around then.

The first time I can think of when I knew I was looking at a blog was in late 2003 or early 2004. It provided me the clarity to know that the days of manually updating HTML and moving front page journal entries to "archive" pages was a hopelessly unnecessary act. Somehow I went in search of new hosting solutions and happened upon Startlogic, which I remained on from early 2004 until early 2011. And BAM! there was the B2 blogger platform ready to install. For a while in 2004-2006, the blog was a separate component that was not integrated into the site. And so it was that I had to essentially style the two separate entities so they looks enough alike.

But what the hell was this .php shit? And how in the world was I supposed to edit things when I could not see the whole page at once? Why were these blog sites so damned complex? I guess it took me a while to learn the part about how sites were leaving plain ol' HTML behind in favor of detailed and consistent styles with databases providing the content. My paltry education at Art Institute was made seemingly more so with the advent of all this new blogging technology. I was in over my head. But blogging was cool because it took care of the old entries.

The thing is, I came into this as a guy with some stories to tell, not as someone out to make money and to connect with other blogs. At various times, I disabled pingbacks, trackbacks, comments, and other things. I just wanted to put my stuff up, and all those extras just got in the way. Meanwhile, I heard about people blogging to make money. Journalists blogging to tell their version of the truth, sans editorial review. The rules had not solidified.

B2 & Wordpress: 2004-2010

After discovering B2, I tried out various other blogging platforms but remained on B2 for a while, and eventually in 2006 landed with Wordpress. And then I decided that Wordpress was mature enough in the late summer of 2006 that I found I could make my entire site within the Wordpress environment. But I always had my problems with Wordpress even though for a number of years it was the tidiest platform of all. While the Wordpress era was structurally more solid, the visual aspect was more limited since I didn't then know how to do a local testing server, so to change the graphic or other CSS related details, I painstakingly edited one thing at a time and resaved and uploaded. I got off Wordpress before I ever did a Dreamweaver local site to test and edit upon. The Wordpress years were a time when the major component was the blog itself, during a period of a lot of transformation.

In some way though, turning off all the social options at the blog gave me a needed period to let the TAPKAE online identity reform under new values. In the early days, I sabotaged things with certain newsgroups and music/recording related forums. The stuff is still out there for the looking, but there is now more stuff that bears my name and more of it is worthy material.

In 2010, after slipping away from publishing much to the web but for blog posts and pages, I found myself drawn toward helping Jubilee Economics Ministries, a small non profit that was in need of new methods to move their message. I had proposed podcasting, not even knowing much about the medium, and then to support that, I found it necessary to reacquaint myself with some things and to plunge into many others. What started as a podcast became a new website for JEM (using Squarespace, which I had just learned about as I was starting to actually learn Wordpress for JEM), and the typical social media accounts, and then organizational things like Google Apps and Mailchimp... It was all exasperating to me, and even more so to the others, who, being folks my parents' age, were blindsided by all the changeup, but grateful since they never would have unpacked it all.

Certainly I can't deny that several years of publishing to the web was handy, but as I have spent a couple years now with JEM and an ever-unfolding map of possibilities, I have read a lot of material about best practices for blogging, search engine optimization, social media, and all that. And sometimes it makes me feel pretty low. In some ways, I seem to have gotten it all wrong. I know that's a bit much to take on and that I'll never master the stuff.

The mind that generated this site probably does not connect with all but about four people out there in web land. My stats are shit at this site. Who but a few friends and curious onlookers are interested in this story? (Craig Z.?) Certainly this is just a labor of love, and a way to keep from seeing my own handwriting! My methods and approaches, a more-is-more kind of expression, is so counter to the prevailing winds of web publishing where blogging is supposed to be pithy and succinct. It's supposed to be nearly mathematically derived to squeeze every ounce of SEO value it can. No long paragraphs. Lists are always winners. Connect with readers and give them a reason to come back. Incentivize. Laser focus on a topic. In 2004, it was the wild west in blogging. I guess I wandered down one dirt road, maybe into a box canyon, while others built a freeway system.

The Squarespace Era: 2010-present

I pay for web hosting with Squarespace now that I moved this site over some months after finding I liked it for JEM. The rate was $240 for the first year, and thanks to a rate change, it's $180 now. It has allowed me a chance to be more visually creative than anything I did in the Wordpress years. I don't have to worry about that sick feeling associated with managing my own database at the MySql level. So I have been willing to pay for that. I've never run an ad here. This is just my channel to tell a story; a labor of love is all this is, a way to help untangle the spaghetti of life. Some people spend that kind of money on their booze or gambling in a few hours. Or in driving their car for fun. Or to go to Disneyland. None of that appeals to me. And, here, about a decade after my first foray into the web, the rate is perhaps twice what I used to pay, or less, but the potential to put up so much content makes all that a moot point.

I like that for once, I've managed to create an online album that reflects a mix of experiences, good and bad, and a mix of media to tell the story. Keeping busy with JEM such as I have, trying to find new things to move that message, I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to take some "me time" here at this site. Never mind there are just a few subscribers (thanks!). Never mind there are no casual users stumbling upon this site and bringing it to Facebook. Certainly there is more that I want to put up. More pictures, more scans, more audio. More video. There is only one of me though, and it happens that I allocate more time to JEM, sensing that promoting or even building this self-indulgent site is not as responsible a thing to do as developing the JEM platform. Last summer, I did plug in a good deal of content here that was never on any previous version of the site. Were it not for the bottleneck of the scanning process, I might have done more. The other bottleneck is that I am a loquacious, captioning freak, and it takes time to narrate things, particularly when a new photo gallery is put up! And since I got this site (and a new camera at about the same time), I've had a lot more photographic material to process. It's easy to get distracted.

Netizenship & Transparency

The web has changed a lot since 2002. I've changed a lot too. When I first got into it and didn't know about netiquette I went overboard and offended people, some of which were in-person relationships too. But overall, I've put that away and tried to become a better netizen. Blogging at least gives me the chance to soapbox in my own space rather than on other sites. And even that has sort of waned for me. The futility of trying to argue a point online is pretty clear. I feel this site got more interesting when I went inside and unpacked this person I've had to deal with all this time. Maybe no one else gives a shit. A few cheer on the sidelines, saying I'm doing something that takes guts. Others cringe. Others slip away nearly unnoticed. And then there are about seven billion others who don't even know this site is here. Sure, it might be a self-indulgent site, but it doesn't mean I am important. But who else will tell the story?

And that brings me to the matter of my approach to sharing information here. Presently I am looking for work, same as I've been doing for a year and more. (Unless I am applying to a web job that might call on certain aspects or technology or aesthetics that demonstrated at this site, I don't usually give away TAPKAE.com or social media links. I use a personal Gmail address.) I know no HR person is going to write me a courtesy note saying that they read a handful of posts on TAPKAE.com and decided to pass me over because they didn't think my family situation was going to lead me to be a good employee. Or that a post said I have struggled with depression. Or Wordpress. (There is some overlap at times.) The fact is, I don't really know how thoroughly I am disqualifying myself from jobs. And I sort of don't care. The places that won't have me won't have me. This site is a tool to help me feel that I know myself. And in the process, I might find that truck driving is not really my calling, and that while it could be an entry into an industry, I don't awaken each day, licking my lips at the prospect of piloting a few tons of steel down streets and alleys. Somewhere along the line, I embraced transparency in the hopes that it would win me more than it lost. Shutting doors to paths that I have no business on should be a better thing than not. I can say I've applied to jobs that I know I'm not interested in, and then it should be no surprise, website or not, that I don't get them.

Nothing is stopping me from making a go at a commercial site, doing things by formula and metrics, and leaving out the personal stuff for the most part. I don't exactly feel I have anything to share that warrants that, but I would like to develop community around JEM and when possible, other orgs or groups that have shared interest. I may or may not ever get that right. It may or may not ever be my thing. Lurking at the edges is TAPKAE.com, where it's okay to get it wrong, to experiment, to be transparent and unpretentious.

Tuesday
Mar062012

Getting in Tune with the Music

Ed mugging behind the StratocasterNovember 2000I suppose maybe I should have done it 17 years ago, but I waited until February 23rd. I mean, I started when I was just about to turn 21, and now I'm 38! But I didn't ever do it right. I just did it my way. And then things got distracted and even the attention I used to pay it was cut down noticeably. But something inside me keeps nagging for things to be reawakened, but this time it has to be done a different way. Of course, everything could have been different if last Friday happened anytime in the last 17 years. But it didn't happen that way. But it did happen.

I had my first proper guitar lesson.

You read right, folks. First paid guitar lesson ever. It wasn't for lack of opportunity; there are quite a number of teachers in this town, and there were several teachers among the various bands I used to work for. It wasn't that I didn't know anything about guitar, either, or about music. I did have a basic musicianship class (and a concurrent piano class) at Mesa College in 1993. So, by the time I picked up a guitar in late summer 1994, I was already introduced to chords and scales and intervals. My second instrument, the piano, made some sense to me since one key makes one sound. But after playing in bands that used guitars rather than keyboards, it began to be apparent guitar and bass would be more useful as auxiliary instruments to know. (I mean, I had a piano at home but I wasn't about to go to a rehearsal with it!) 

It just so happened that Bill Francis, the curious fellow who lived at our house in 1994 had two guitars and he wanted to shed one to make a few bucks. For me to say he lived "at" our house is more descriptive than to say he lived "in" our house. He was afforded a trailer or a shed to live in, courtesy of my old man, who was willing to help just enough to keep Bill from being totally homeless. Bill let me borrow one guitar—the Fender F-210 I still use today (about 25-30 years after its manufacture)—and that the old man subsequently bought for my birthday just a month or so later.

I had a chord book but had no idea what to do with it, really. It was more of a traditional jazz-blues kind of book from Mel Bay and I was kind of sour on it because I didn't hear the chords I saw in the rock bands I played in. I didn't really have vocabulary for it, but I was essentially missing the various power chords, partial barre chords with an A or E string left to drone, or certainly, open tunings or altered tunings. Not long after messing with all that, I sought some time with Jim Pupplo from Slaves By Trade. SBT was just in the process of breaking up, not by some big artistic differences, but that Jim was leaving to play with another band. As a parting gift, he showed me some power chords and other bits one day at his place. The thing is, I wasn't really sold on guitar as something to get passionately into. Chords never fell well under my fingers, and even to this day, I am slow to get certain forms, lest my fingers get into a tangle.

The battle-damaged F-210I never took a lesson since then. I've had a few more chord books and a couple books that, if actually used as intended, might have done me some good. Instead, I was keen on experimenting with sound. In early 1995, I was in an interesting spot to receive two guitars from a girlfriend who was keeping her convict friend's possessions. For a while, I had an acoustic guitar (don't remember if it was electro or not) and the very same Strat as I now play. (Sort of. Almost everything on it has been replaced and renewed over time.) I recall that quite early on in my guitar era, I took to using alternate tunings. I think the first ones must have been to tune to what would be a minor barre chord, or maybe a major if desired. One of my early tracks, Earl, was simply me strumming open chords at a couple positions as a drone effect. I was rather far from actually making music. Another odd tuning I used was EBEebe and perhaps a more extreme form, EEeebe. Somewhere there lurks a recording from mid 1995 using that tuning on the F-210, with an amazing stack of octaves and unisons but no real chords. It pretty much is a heavy attack minor key kind of theme that has an interesting buzz about it. That Fender acoustic could be called on to do some odd tunings. I've used it to play Robert Fripp's CGDAEG tuning, and even a variant of that, tuned a half step down! And of course I've done DADGAD and DADF#BD type things. It's versatile.

Some of that was to avoid having to learn real music on the guitar. Almost as soon as I picked up guitar, I found my two leading inspirations to diversify away from my drums-only identity. In December 1994 I saw Mike Keneally for the first time, and in the spring of the next year, the newly re-formed King Crimson threatened to explode my brain. There was nothing I could do to emulate Keneally's guitar or keyboard playing, but I could make jokey recordings with copious amounts of tape editing. And over in Crim-land, I could go for a highly processed tone, ambient effects, noise, and unusual tunings. It was fortuitous that just a month after seeing the Crimson King, I began working for Rockola. By the end of the summer, I was beginning to work for Bob Tedde. He let me borrow all sorts of things that made my experiments fruitful: pedals, 12 string Rickenbacker, effects boxes, Mustang bass (the short thing), and over time, various synths. Doug and Marty of the band also let me use bass and drums if I was responsible for getting them to the next gig. Various other guys I jammed with let me use instruments for various periods: 6 string bass (the one I played with an air compressor), electronic drum kit, and more. It was handy to have access to things, but because I wanted to record more than I wanted to practice, I set about my early practices that became my standard approach until maybe 2001: the recording was the artistic focal point for me and instruments were the brushes that let me paint the sound onto tape or disk. Learning musical vocabulary and repertoire was secondary, and often ignored.

Receiving coverI worked around cover bands playing a lot of classic rock, funk, disco, fusion, and even some blues and country. Some of what I missed in lessons was supplemented by watching bands so much of the time, and at least taking some stabs at things I saw over and over. But I never really learned songs or parts on guitar or bass in the way that I did on drums. Major disadvantage that I am now trying to put right. Receiving was recorded at the peak of my activity in the music/tech world, but you will barely hear anything directly attributable to my having watched so many bands play those styles named above. On Receiving, like all my recordings, there is really no knowledge of conventional harmony. I doubt there is even one tonic-dominant progression to be found. Or maybe only one! And yet, there is some adventure in the tension and release on certain tracks. It just isn't anything you'll find "in the book."

Over time, there were a few players that were on my scene for a few months or a year or so, and who graced me with better musicianship than I ever brought to things. In order, I'd name Michael Kropp (bass/guitar 1995), Tom Griesgraber (bass/guitar/Stick 1997-99), and Todd Larowe (guitar/bass/keys 1999-2002). Each of these guys gave me access to better playing on those instruments, but each also left me with something to think about as I watched their method or as they helped me unpack other things about music. My understanding was pretty decent, but my application of any of that to the instrument was always lacking. Knowing some things was half the battle, but I never won the other battle on any of the instruments I played: working the sticks and picks with any discipline. I've tended to regret that.

In the years since 2005, most bets have been off the table anyway, particularly with regard to space to set up and do thing as I used to. That was a bruising time that took a lot of wrestling. Despite selling off pieces that I sort of wish I had kept, I did retain enough to maintain a guitar/bass/drum/recording capability. And in the absence of actually playing much guitar or bass, I've been soaking up music just as a listener and allowing it to reach me in a way that I don't think it did when I was trying to create stuff myself. In the background I've been trying to push myself to develop some familiarity with pop music of various eras, either on bass or guitar, or just in trying to map out chords and get a feel for things at a new level. Part of the challenge has been to develop my ear and intuition on an instrument.

Church in the parkIn the fall I briefly played drums and a bit of bass for a budding worship band at church. I don't like the music and I didn't like the structure, but I gave it a shot for a while to at least put myself to some use. In all the years of doing church and playing music, I had never played for any liturgical purpose. The band leader was driven enough to buy a drum set and so I used that at rehearsals, making it quite easy to show up and play, only needing to add a few personal bits to the kit.

Fender bass wall with 5 string jazz bass and the bastard Fenderless fretless modJazz bass on the left; Fretless on rightIn October I bought my first instrument in years. It wasn't a huge step, but it warmed me up some. I found a rather used and very cheap ($100) Indonesian Squier P-Bass at a pawn shop, and as soon as I got it home, ripped the frets out in gleeful abandon, using toenail clippers! Then I took it to a luthier and paid 2.4 times as much ($240 more) to have the fingerboard properly finished with inlay lines and dots, and smoothed out. I was just aching to have a fretless again. It's no Warwick, but it soothes me to find my own notes again. Maybe it's part of my ear training method, but it's good to have a fretless bass once again.

Since the late summer, I've been joining in on a monthly acoustic/folk kind of meetup that lets me come in to learn some pretty basic songs on guitar. Again, not all of it strikes me as my kind of music, but since I did such a job of not learning the basics, now it's like I am building the foundation underneath the second floor! Just a couple days ago I went to the monthly meetup and the theme was "no guitars." I was able to come in with the fretless and hamfist my way through the tunes. It was quite a different group with no guitars. I think I was more able to participate on bass than on guitar.

Heartbreaker amp/cabinet looks pretty lean and sporty.I hope to make the Heartbreaker screamAll this has helped draw me back into spending time with music. Over the past few years, there have been a trickle of song fragments and chords that I have not finished. Part of the hold up is not really feeling I have a singing voice yet, but knowing that can be worked on. And I think maybe that should be made a co-incident priority with guitar related tutoring. I've mostly resisted the urge to set up a recording environment. It's hard, but I've sat many times in the past decade, staring at a rather complete recording rig, fully aware that I am more beholden to the gear than any stroke of brilliance and passion in my fingers. And that got old. I've stormed out of the studio plenty of times knowing that that approach was disingenuous, and that I should tap into whatever feeling lurks, and to work at developing some technical readiness to deliver the goods when the muse arrives. Eventually complicated recording setups can be put together, but for now, I need to trust that me and the guitar have something to say, and that has been the trouble. 

Another meetup group I just tried last week was a songwriters' meetup. I got a good feeling off of it, and since the people are dedicated to song craft, with a chance to be reviewed by others, and a feeling of collaboration, it might lead to other opportunities that get me out of my rut.

Unfortunately, the jobless situation means funds are a bit tight, but the choice to get music lessons is a worthy use of funds. I've been of the mind that the time has come to seek personal growth with some combination of music lessons, a gym membership, or with a shrink. I can't really afford all three. Two of them are things I've never done. One will just tell me to do the other two. In the few days between the first lesson and the songwriter meetup, I felt distinctly more alive—damn the therapists! I've been of the mind that it's time to make some more space for music, even if it comes at some cost to a life at, say, church. I've already cut back on that for various reasons. With the meetups and a new sense of empowerment, I might be able to meet some new people and do things that I've been setting aside and dreaming about.

Sunday
Sep112011

Drumming, Strumming, and Humming

ed on drums with two members of the new MHUCC praise band, playing in the parkToday I was in a whole new situation in more ways than one, or maybe more ways than two or three. You see, while drumming isn't anything new to me, and I've done some public performance on drums, I have never performed publicly on bass except as a kind of joke (with Rockola and their stage gimmicks), and have never ever been part of a music making ensemble for church. And furthermore, I've never really played guitar in public to account for much, and even more so never tried to sing for any public outside of my 2006 voice class at Mesa. And still furthermore, until just a few weeks ago, it was almost impossible to have done much of anything in the aim of singing AND playing at once; my skills just did not go there.

And yet today all of that was put to some use.

ed on bass with members of the new praise band in the parkLoyal readers of this fine journal know the struggle I've had with music for the last decade. And it has been one decade and a bit more since the old Hog Heaven glory days. Over time it has been apparent that if I was going to keep doing anything in music the game would have to shift to another focus. Mainly, the focus would have to move from my solo-oriented musicking. (Which was originally considered a way to learn stuff that would eventually let me be more versatile in other musical situations beyond playing drums in grunge and classic rock bands that were in abundance here in SD in 1995.) I didn't know it would take so many years to even get where I am now. All the life that has been chronicled here had to happen. As my understanding shifted, it was clear I'd have to make music for different reasons. All the years of basically being a listener more than a player were times that I've had a chance to connect with music in a way that I perhaps haven't done prior to, say, 2003, but now with more experience and learning to bring to my role as a listener, hearing more of the life in the songs that I like, and connecting with it more readily. I've found myself shifting my listening focus from some of the instrumentally focused ears I had for drum parts (when I was just a a drummer), or instrumental parts (when I began to incorporate guitar, bass, and keys), or for a few years now I have been able to better hear and appreciate vocal music, or the vocals in the midst of a full mix. Having had just a bit of training at a basic level, that opened me up to imagining how it was done and allowing myself some leeway to explore my own voice some. But mainly to let the expressiveness hit me. Connecting with more singer-songwriter artists of various genres has helped me shift focus too.

Years ago when I went to church at CCCPB, I got into drumming at just about exactly the same time in 1989. My intentional church life and drumming go together as partners in the narrative in my life, but aside from one jokey cymbal crash for a church play in 1990, and aside from last year's picnic show playing blues and country and oldies with the Broken Strings, performing in the midst of several local UCC churches, I have never until today—that's about 22 years now—played in a worship setting, on any instrument. But today I was in a trio that played a number of musical pieces for an outdoor service, and for my part, I was on drums primarily, bass for one song, and came equipped to play guitar and to sing, but the set list got changed some on account of the synchronicity of the worship service falling on the 9/11 anniversary. But once we finished and were in picnic mode, I did actually take guitar to a circle of people and, in a kind of giddy way that once was on display when I did my first "performance" for my old man and grandfolks in August 1989, I was excited to try out some newfound musical ability.

The extra odd factor is that most of the drum and bass stuff I played was out of a songbook that the UCC has formed recently, based on praise music. And to be rather blunt, I never liked the stuff and have often been rather unsparing in mocking the stuff. Many reasons for this, but I could address that as muso-artist ("the stuff is just brainlessly simple choruses that ape pop song conventions"); or I could take it on as a sound engineer (bands of amateur and semipro players with a mixed bag of gear and an even more mixed bag of stage skills makes for a messy mix); or I could talk about the rather inane theological ideas that comprise the lyrics. I would make these arguments because I have always hungered for musical sophistication and complexity (whether that is of any use or not), or because I worked for The Rock Church for a year or more as audio tech who had to wire stages with unusual and shifting musician lineups, or because I came from a liberal theological tradition that can be a bit snobbish sounding at times but that does pursue unusual avenues of theological thought and inquiry. To me, praise music has never done it for me. It just smacks of the church appropriating the common culture to get the hook in the mouth of the vulnerable. To me, it's pretty smarmy stuff musically and theologically. It wasn't enough to just have a rock or pop band instrumentation; it had to have screens, Internet video feeds, and the whole song and dance. I used to mock it all by saying, "how in the world did Jesus ever get any attention without all this shit?" My coarse but effective guide is that the more a church is invested in a modern day pop gospel band and screens and other showy things, the less I expect to be interested. To me, the goal appears to out-produce the secular world. On stages, as an audio man accustomed to working on professional stages with professional bands who "play for the stage," it could be rather dreadful as less experienced players come in with bad mic technique and sub-par gear, and ask for things they have no idea about. In fact, after about a year or so of working for the Rock Church, that was one gig I told Mitch (my boss for those Rock shows) that I never wanted to do again. And for a few years, that worked out.

During my years of distance from music, repeatedly talking about wanting to play music in a collaborative effort and not with solo ambition, I have kept the musical flame alive only by basic life support means. Obviously I kept a share of gear that allows me to get back into my guitar, bass, drums, and recording ability. The keyboards are all gone though. (I find myself a vulture, circling over a piano shop that is going out of business soon, waiting for the fire sale on an upright, just so I could get back to where I was in early 1996!) Since no place I have lived since 2006 has given me a Hog Heaven style studio environment, I have never had all my gear at my disposal, with most being stacked and put away. The acoustic guitar generally was around, and sometimes I'd bring the bass out and with either I'd strum or thump along to music or download some chord sheets and try to throw myself into unfamiliar territory. Some I'd try to sing. I have a lyric folder that has some ideas that have a few chord changes, but as alluring as working toward being a singer-songwriter has been, not feeling the "voice" in me has left me rather disappointed. I have had musings that maybe I need to do a cover album of songs I've connected with—Nik Kershaw, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, David Sylvian, Mark Knopfler (all from England in the 80s, mainly!) Aside from the few shows with the Broken Strings in the years since early 2008, that was about all the music being made. Period.

the drums were Ringo-style with a 4 piece kit and two cymbals. Pretty lean stuff.Then about a month ago I heard of a woman at church, a new member whom I had not met, was interested in praise music. When I heard about this I was not yet thinking I'd be involved with it, and the news was from a friend who washed her hands of that kind of sound when exiting the Southern Baptist world (with an ex-husband who played such music too). But somehow a week or so later, the topic came up again and it was drawing me in at least as a chance to play music and learn some new stuff, clearly in a setting I had no expectation of ever joining in on. Today's date was given as the first performance date, so somehow I offered that I was interested and could be called on to play drums or maybe bass or vocal parts. With just a few weeks to go, that is just what happened. All of it. We started off two times at the church and then another three times here at the house. It was just three of us—she on guitar and voice, and another on piano and voice and a generally handy sense of musical director for it all. I started on bass the first night, then brought a "toy" kit of kick, snare, hat, and ride only, but when we got to my place, I had the range of things set up and ready. Even guitar. One night we had no keys so with just two of us, we strummed a bit and listened to music that might fill the bill or get us rolling anyway. Built some rapport. While I am far from a sight reader, it is getting easier to read lead sheets (chords/lyrics only) and to give it a go. I have found that if I start off attempting both an instrumental part and the vocal part at about the same time, I have better luck integrating the two and for the few songs that I've tried that way, I've done better at doing two parts.

None of the songs are blindingly difficult but I find that at last I have to work from some basic building blocks of songmaking in order to progress. Slowly I am reversing the longstanding relationship to musicking that defined my older days: I was a recording artist, not a musician. Recording was the finished canvas, instruments were the paintbrushes and other tools to achieve that end. That means that my attempt to always come up with new recorded sounds was more attractive than getting the fundamentals right, which is generally regarded as a no-no. Occasionally a song did turn up and maybe it was memorable (Tired, I Wanna Be Your Puppy, The Power of Disco Compels You) but really, songwriting was accidental more than anything. And none of my stuff has been played live because I fancied myself in the vein of Steely Dan, The Beatles, and others who really just wanted to make recordings and not face the pressure to perform their work.

One thing that probably won't change is that the audio engineer part of me will wrestle with how to deliver a stage performance using electric instruments and amplification while also being seated at a dynamic acoustic instrument that takes more effort to play quietly than loudly. So for me at the drums to not have monitors to hear the others even over my own sound is rather challenging. And I'm not playing with much intensity at this or the Broken Strings type gigs. I use rod sticks, whip sticks, and those types of implements. But then people out in the audience, or hypersensitive people who are worried about "too loud" will emerge for certain, asking for the sound to be turned down. To me, that essentially neuters the performance on drums, while everyone else more or less has a knob to reach for and can still play with the same feel and abandon without making as much sound. (And I doubt that anyone will offer an electronic drum kit anytime soon.) Without monitors and a tiny sound system as we had today, at best I was able to get one speaker to be stacked upon my bass rig which itself was next to the drums where it was sort of audible but still not loud. Later video clearly shows the system was too low. The vocals were impossible to hear, the keys barely audible against the drums. 

What I foresee is that beyond "just" being a musician in this setting, sooner or later I will need to speak up in favor of some sane audio practices first using the minimal gear available in effective ways, and possibly incorporating more. But then there is still the cultural momentum of the congregation. Some will not like praise music because it is unfamiliar. Some because it smacks of a rather conflicted mix of conservative theology and "liberal" liturgy. Some will hear it and think it is just too loud. Or whatever. But really, since praise music is essentially pop music, gospel, rock and other styles that are essentially of the contemporary era of music, electrified and amplified, to do it like it's meant to be done means there is stretching to be done. Or to do it with a bit of a more acoustic instrumentation might mean there would have to be people with those types of instrumentation. I'd love to hammer on a djembe drum for some things, but not for everything. I play kit. Kit is rather loud when played with conviction. Loud is often misunderstood and cautioned against. 

About five years ago the cracks were showing in the wall at my old church where I had spent an August week installing a system meant to improve the church life. But it was majorly misunderstood and no one knows it even today. No one knows what to do with it. It is severely overengineered for an attitude like the one that exists there. But what I have found needs to happen is before these kinds of major decisions are made that will affect so many, the church needs to have some kind of visioning committee to evaluate potential impact, and to have some idea of feasibility. Something like a sound system needs to be operated weekly. Who will do that? And who are the various subs? What will the system be called on to do on the off days? Who will coordinate what needs to happen technically with any changes in the liturgy, with different ensembles playing, or more mics for guest speakers or whatever? I basically left my last church under a lot of pressure that I was the only guy who knew how to operate the new system and the culture there was mostly ignorant of what I was talking about, and if not ignorant, all sorts of factors conspired to make my ideas impractical. But by then, I realized that I was not in worship anyway, I was an audio tech again, and this time one that did not get paid, but was also utterly alone and was not part of a larger team to make stuff work right.

I know none of that has to happen. My present church is rather larger and far more conscious about major decisions. I would love to just show up and play music. But it is hard to suffer for long with bad sound after being responsible for making pros sound good. I can flex with regard to theology in the songs, or to play unfamiliar instruments in the name of taking some musical risk and enjoying camraderie. But bad sound just irks. People recognize bad sound but can't always articulate what is wrong. People maybe even are forgiving to either the amateurs or the intermediates who show up and give it a good try for the sake of worship. But really, to do praise music right, it takes some commitment to a certain level of technical quality. And again, I get the feeling I might be the only one who can bring this up, and fear that it will be somewhat mixed in its reception. 

But for today, I was happy to play all the instruments I have (but for electric guitar), and to try my hand at some new musical material, and to cut loose some with people who knew me but perhaps were rather surpised to see me up there at all, perhaps having no knowledge that I played anything. I really fancy the idea of finally integrating the two big threads of my life somehow.

Monday
Jul112011

TAPKAE at 15

I'm not sure I have an exact date for it, but it was fifteen years ago in July or so (it might be August) when I dubbed my recording project from that year "The Artist Presently Known As Ed." At the time, I still fancied myself Ed Lucas, and that was the name of the album. But, in the months that followed, the name was found to be memorable enough that I started to identify with it. Upon doing the next project, Hog Heaven, in early 1997, I released it under the new name. Read all about it.

Saturday
Feb192011

The Ghost In The Machine

Having read all my years of blog posts in the last year I've noticed a bunch of digital bread crumbs I left myself along the way. They are the crumbs that help me find who I am across the longer period of time that the blog covers. Seeing all that in the short period of a few weeks has an effect on me. It reminded me why I got into this often bewildering and sometimes angering encounter with computers and their indifference to my life. But the underlying compulsion is to tell my story. When paper and notebooks were the media on hand, I used that to write in and to illustrate my life and interests in pictures. Recording too was always a matter of using whatever was on hand and trying to make something with it. About a decade ago the computer became appealing in the way it tied all that together. By then the programs were evolved enough that I was not required to be a programmer to achieve anything. (A reference to the dark ages in 1983-85 when I had my first encounters with desktop computers).

Technology is not really my strong suit. Trying to see life as meaningful is. Technology offers a chance to document it and share it. The evidence is already in my collected project of journaling that I would resort to hand typing stuff and cutting out magazine or product brochure images. My earliest produced recordings amounted to just that and those eventually matured into doing a production ready CD with real output (bad art printed well, I admit) and a glass master CD. My photo albums from about high school onward were affairs of taping pictures to paper and typing captions alongside. These days I see that in the galleries on this site. The endless journals in school notebooks, a project beginning on the day after I graduated from high school, is clearly the ancestor to the endless blog articles here now. You could say that this journal is really a 20 year project, and more if you dig farther back into the prehistory.

On a whim a couple years ago I subtitled the site "Like, the greatest story ever told, man..." I mean for it to be said in that drugged out Grateful Dead kind of way. I didn't know it at the time but the movie by that name was one about Jesus. Pardon any pretense on my part, I was ignorant of that. But I don't really shirk from the part. Not about being anyone's savior, but about the fact that Jesus is really the model human life of enduring rejection and suffering even to the point of death and coming out of the whole thing a new being. The greatest story ever told isn't just one of Jesus, the man who walked the earth all those years ago and who died and somehow carried on as some type of burning memory-consciousness in the hearts of some oddball followers. That is great, but the real greatness of the story is the spiritual victory it contains: that all the suffering and trials are formation measures to become something far greater.

Well, if that isn't a great story, what is? I happen to have lived my version of that and identify with it just fine. That kind of spiritual death and rebirth with a hunger to reach beyond oneself is the greatest story ever told. Dying to self to live for others is what makes it great.

TAPKAE.com now is more of a place to hold the tension between what was and what now is. I've decided to transparently embrace the confusing mix of who this Ed is. Oh sure, that can be dangerous stuff sometimes. Some of it will turn up in Google searches and might be grounds for disqualification or dismissal from jobs. The fact is, I am pretty exhausted from living in a house divided. Disowning parts of myself is bad spirituality and bad psychology. These days, the freedom to tell the story comes from within. I am only bound really by my attention to the details involved in sitting and writing or scanning/editing/uploading pictures or audio. I have my bursts of interest in the stuff. I'll probably never get done what I want to have done. C'est la vie. But I want to deconstruct the internal walls of this online box and make the place more spacious and less divided.

 

Friday
Sep052008

Mmmm, Tastes Like Chicken

Chicken is a versatile meat that lends itself to many recipes. Here are some that I like, with names that seem to capture the flair well.

  • Steamed artichokes with mayo or butter and garlic, with lemon and oil marinated chicken with herbs. It evokes a Mediterranean vibe when served with warm pita bread. I call this one "Choked Chicken."
  • Or, tonight we had a salad with some chicken that was marinated and let to simmer in a delightful parmesan and shiitake mushroom sauce. I call it "Chicken Shiit Salad."
  • In an effort to eat less meat, we have sometimes experimented with some of the soy/tofu substitutes for common meat products. Trader Joe's has a pretty adequate chicken substitute made of tofu. I thought it was a tad dry but if it were let to simmer in a sauce of some sort, it would be even better. The name "meatless chicken" is so unfortunate when you could call it by a far more succinct and memorable name using the words tofu and chicken.: "tofucken." Caution must be exercised so it isn't confused with foot fetish sex or anything else that falls under the term "toe fucking."
Friday
Jan112008

Sam And George

The following is a bit of fun I put together in the middle-past, maybe in 2005 or so, and somehow forgot about it while working on it. Even though there are no shadows on the penguins, I think it's good enough to go.

sam and george are two penguins standing in a parched desert landscape that used to be their snowy antarctic region.

Sam always said that global warming was a lie and that it was all a conspiracy by America-hating commie liberals.

George reminded Sam that he'd been acting like an ostrich trapped in a penguin's body for years, and had been figuratively sticking his head in the sand every time they had this talk.

But this time, there really was sand!

Monday
Oct152007

Entrepreneurial Canine?

Buber the Dog suggested the other day that maybe he and I fight the boredom of unemployment together. Usually, he just likes to sit and be petted for hours. But then it was clear that maybe someone needs a dose of Buber's patient demeanor. I swear he used to be owned by a senior or someone more or less unambulatory. So far he hasn't told me outright, but that is my hunch.

So I was thinking of an older idea I had some years ago back at the Clairemont senior center where I delivered meals to seniors in their homes. At that time, I thought about recording these folks using some of the gear I had. I thought it would be a good souvenir for families, interesting and unfiltered research material for me in my writing capacity, and just a neat way to encounter people, and to get an idea of life and values as they were understood before my time.

I may have said it before on these pages, but there has been a great regret that for a few overlapping years when my studio was at my grandmother's house, and I was in my creative peak in audio work, I never once took anything from one room to another (immediately adjacent, moreover) to record a word from G-ma. My experience delivering meals to seniors pointed out that it is not at all uncommon for seniors to be alone at home with no one to talk to, and sometimes, their families can be the hardest to talk to. I hate the thought of all the accumulated stories and wisdom being let to die with these people. Certainly some have families who record their every move, and so I am not needed, but maybe for some who don't have such options. There is Buber and me.

I had this idea that since Buber is so patient and all, maybe he would be an icebreaking catalyst to start talking. For people who like dogs, he is the perfect dog to get people talking, and he's a good recording dog too—he's almost perfectly quiet except when he deems it mealtime.

So I put up a cursory first shot ad on Craigslist which introduces the idea. I pitched it as a dual purpose deal which can obviously provide the family souvenir, but also would provide me with original and unfiltered material which would prove handy for any writing I could do. The additional dimension would be that it just helps a person feel that their story is important enough to tell, and maybe there is meaning in that alone, but a marvelous speculation on what it could mean to someone else. Maybe it is just me trying to reclaim what was lost in not recording G-ma those last years of her life, when I had more than enough chances to, but didn't think it was worth it.

Thursday
Aug302007

Words

Meat. Mate. Meet. Maid. Made.

Great. Grate. Greet.

Feat. Fate. Feet. Fat. Phat.

Eat. Ate. Eet. Eight.

Treat. Trait. Tree. Trade. Traitor. Tray. Troy. Triad. Tried. Trite. Try it.

Beat. Bate. Bait. Boot. Beaut(y).

Leak. Leek. Like. Lick. Lack. Loch. Luck. Look. Luke. Lucas.

Thought. Fought. Taught. Tot. Taut. Tout. Teat. Tit. Tat.

Wrought. Rot. Wrote. Rote. Row. Roe. Road. Rode. Rhode. Rhoad.

While. Wile. Wiley. Wheelie. Wheel. Wield. Wheeled. Welded. Well-dead.

Spank. Spunk. Skunk. Stunk. Skank. Stank.

Sea. See. C. Cie. Seed. Seat. Conceit. Receipt. Deceit. Precede.

Beast. Best. Bust. Bussed. Baste. Boost. Bossed. Boast. Burst. Borscht.

TAPKAE :-)