One two three / A little fool I want to be /
Two three four / You can give me more /
Five six seven / I don’t want to wait for heaven /
Nine ten eleven / Going back to seven /
Seven eight nine / Kann den das noch sein?
We love it’s… / We need it’s… / Excess
We hate it / We want it / Express
We feel it’s… / We get it’s… / Not less
We need it’s… / We love it’s… / Excess
Title track from the Yello album “You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess” by Boris Blank and Dieter Meier, 1983
Intro – Intergalactic Stardate Sometime in October 2018
Just as Snakefinger wrote “This is not a Disco Song,” I can say this is not a music post. It may involve music and lyrics, but it is not a music post. It is an “I” post. This will follow me through time, as I piece together different pieces of the fabric of my “I”.
Right now, “I” am listening to Bill Heid’s CD release “Wylie Avenue”. Bill was the organist in the Super Blues Band, along with drummer/brother George Heid, and Tony Janflone, Sr. They played around the Washington & Pittsburgh, PA area. I heard them at the Jefferson Mall in Washington around 1969/70, at the grand opening of Chess King men’s clothing store. I took guitar lessons from Tony. This album is from 2009, and while there is a Wylie Avenue in Washington, Bill was referring to the Wylie Avenue in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, where he mastered his organ chops playing the local pubs and bars of the chitlins circuit. On this album the guitarist is Peter Bernstein, with Mike Petrosino on drums and George Jones on congas. Of course, Bill is on the Hammond B-3. George Heid co-produced and did the recording, mixing, and mastering at Heid Pro Audio in Pittsburgh in the Spring of 2008. This is the jazz of organ-based combos of the 60s, done with warmth and dexterity.
Well the above was written yesterday. Tonight, I am listening to NRK Klassisk, in Oslo, Norway. Right now, I am hearing Debussy. I miss the times I would sit at my dorm room desk at Indiana University of Pennsylvania reading Husserl, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, or Russell, with the college radio tuned to the classics. Of course, listening to Velvet Underground or The Mothers would not have been helpful when reading phenomenology or epistemology. At this point the station has become erratic so I moved to Radio Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are playing an Afro-Latin selection with a mixed chorus, lead singers, and some great percussion. I hear no other instruments except percussion. The voices fill everything else. This is great stuff! Now comes a flute and some jazzy scat singing with the choral and percussive background. You can always rely on the stations in what was the Eastern Communist Block during the Cold War for interesting music that is never heard here in the states.
Intergalactic Stardate November 24, 2018
The year is nearly over. Tomorrow is the last Sunday in November. Thinking back on all the music discoveries of the past year, there have been many – local artists as well as CD and vinyl acquisitions. I have been a real slacker in writing about what I’ve heard around town. I have heard many new artists thanks to Ken Rexrode’s Six String Society shows, as well as the Adams Avenue music events. The problem is that I have had to travel immediately after attending these music events and then the moment is lost. One performance I will mention here, although not of a local artist, is that of 60s legend, Jesse Colin Young (of Youngbloods fame) at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. He presented a mix of solo acoustic guitar songs as well as full band with his son. With his son’s band he has taken a jazz/rock fusion turn in his sound. The music spanned his entire career from his first release in 1964 to selections from his upcoming release, and included the obligatory performance of Chet Powers’ (aka Dino Valente’s) “Get Together”. It was a memorable and uplifting evening of music.
As for CD releases by local artists, there is one that has risen above all the others. It is Whitney Shay’s “A Woman Rules the World”. This album has received rave reviews internationally and anyone who loves rhythm and blues should really consider adding it to their music collection. Here is one of my favorite reviews of the album, by JD Nash: https://www.americanbluesscene.com/whitney-shay-professes-a-woman-rules-the-world/. I won’t attempt here to repeat the accolades it has received – if you are curious, Google it and you will see. Then go out and buy it. Better yet, if you are in the San Diego area, go out and see Whitney with her band, Shay and The Hustle.
I have added many albums and singles from my home town area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Seven-inch 45 rpm records acquired include The Electrons, Napoleonic Wars, and Time Stoppers. An album by Groov-U suddenly popped up in the collector’s market and I immediately scooped it up. Groov-U and The Electrons used to play regularly at the Psychedilly Lounge in McKees Rocks when I, as a teenager, was listening to what was happening in the tri-state area.
There were other recordings, not from my hometown area, that received frequent airplay on Pittsburgh’s “Underground” program on WAMO-FM that came available in 2018 at the right price for me – Ten Wheel Drive – Construction #1; Battered Ornaments – Mantle-Piece; Peter Lemer Quintet – Local Colour; Charles Lloyd Quartet – s/t; and Brute Force – s/t. These groups are a mix; some are of psychedelic rock and others are cool jazz.
Ten Wheel Drive was more of a horn rock band, sort of like Blood Sweat and Tears except it featured a female lead vocalist and was a bit more r&b in style. Genya Ravan, the singer, is soulfully powerful and often compared to Janis Joplin. Her earlier band, Goldie and The Gingerbreads, was one of the first female rock groups. And, there is an Off-Broadway musical about her career, “Rock and Roll Refugee”. The station always dug deep into obscure contemporary rock and folk while mixing it with just as obscure jazz selections. If it wasn’t for WAMO-FM I would have never had the privilege to hear the likes of the Dave Pike Set or Jeremy and the Satyrs. At that time the program director of WAMO-FM was Ken Reeth, who hosted a show, The Underground, as “Brother Love”. His music selections provided a gateway to a deeper knowledge of the unsung music heroes of the 60s.
I purchased more box sets in 2018 than ever before. These included the latest Led Zeppelin – Definitive Collection, and Pink Floyd – Discovery box sets. Great care had to be taken to avoid the Chinese bootlegs, and to get both sets at a reasonable price. After several years of watching, it all came together. Other sets included The Rolling Stones mono box set of their 60s albums, plus the Kinks and Turtles career spanning box sets. While I generally go after unknown or at least lesser-known artists, there are some groups you just cannot overlook when they come in career-spanning sets of remastered recordings.
Intergalactic Stardate December 7, 2018
It is now December 7. My grandmother, who died in 1941 on December 6 would never know the USA became involved in WWII and that her four sons would enlist in the Army, Navy, and Marines. Fortunately, they all survived, and I enjoyed their presence in my life, and although they rarely talked about it I did hear them describe a few of their experiences in the war. I never knew this grandmother. My mother used to say that it was a blessing that her mother died the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
I am on an American Airlines jet, traveling home from Chicago. I will connect with another jet in Phoenix to my destination of San Diego. This past week in Chicago was miserably cold. Living in San Diego these past 19 years has thickened my blood. When I return to the cold climates of the Midwest, I experience a more intense cold than those who live there. I had to walk three blocks, a little over a quarter mile, from The Blackstone to the offices where I was working. Having to leave at 7:30 a.m. each morning and return at 5 p.m. provided an opportunity to experience the coldest times of the day for my walk to and from work. It was so nice to enter O’Hare Airport and be out of the cold (except for the walk down the jet bridge where I once again faced the cold.)
This weekend will be busy with paperwork before I head out again – this time to northern Kentucky, along the Ohio River. The holiday season hasn’t hit me yet. It will, once my vacation time begins after next weekend. I will try to squeeze in some performances. However, I have some shopping to do and we are on a quest to adopt a shelter dog.
As I sit here listening to my music library on the iPad in shuffle mode, I notice that Apple has updated some of my selections with versions that were re-recorded. This is disappointing, since I never asked them to make these changes. If I paid for the songs, I paid for the original versions. If I had uploaded from my CDs it would have been an original version. Now, I must check to see if the versions on my PC have been changed; hopefully not. When I recently purchased this third generation iPad, it had several desirable features. I had been using an iPad 2 since late 2011. But this feature is not welcome. I am a bit fussy when it comes to my music. It is the original version that was popular that I want. I can hear the subtle and not-so-subtle differences. It reminds me of the alterations Frank Zappa made in the late 80s and early 90s to his albums by the original Mothers of Invention. I was glad that his family restored his early works to their original sound after Frank’s passing. I also remember when the Ultimate Spinach second and third albums were first reissued on CD and how original producer, Alan Lorber, changed the order, cut several minutes and lyrics from songs and even cut entire songs from the albums and then called it the “producer’s cut”. He must have received several complaints because he later restored everything to the original versions except one song on their second album, Behold and See. I see no merit in doing these alterations and do not understand why someone would think they have the task of “improving” on the past. Regarding the Behold and See album, Sundazed did release a fully uncut version of the album on 180-gram vinyl, however it is in mono and many of the special effects lose their impact in mono. I realize that Lorber has a tight grip on the Ultimate Spinach recordings, but I do not understand why he would not permit a stereo version of the original album to be released. Perhaps he has plans to later release it himself to milk as much money out of the project as he can, but it does a disservice to the listeners who remember the original album from 1968, and to those newer listeners who would like to hear exactly how it was released in the 60s. Perhaps Alan Lorber resents Ian Bruce-Douglas, the band leader, songwriter, lyricist and arranger, walking out on the band after the completion of the Behold and See album. Lorber did a fine job of remastering the first Ultimate Spinach album, and the contents were left intact, in the proper running order, and with no tinkering with the music. I can only think he did the butchering of the second album to piss off Ian. I must admit, regarding my own interactions with Ian over a period of about 10 years that he can be difficult to tolerate at times. Generally, I found him to be a nice guy, and quite intelligent, but with a lot of resentment about his experience with Ultimate Spinach, Alan Lorber, and the music industry. He often referred to the band as his “Frankenstein’s Monster”. Yet, it is hailed by many today as one of the great psychedelic bands of the 60s, capturing the psychedelic experience better than anyone else.
Another thing I have noted about the shuffle system on this iPad is that they seem to pick one album and play several selections with other random artists in between. This time it is Lightstorm. Last time it was TapWater. So, I am not sure how random it is. The old iPad was random. Apple, what have you done?
I am so glad my four-hour flight from Chicago to Phoenix is over. Middle seat in bulkhead due to the late scheduling of the assignment during the holiday season. No chance of an upgrade even with Executive Platinum status. And this time I had a morbidly obese woman in the aisle seat. Bulkhead seats have solid arms between seats. She overlapped the arm between us and made it impossible to open my tray table, so I could eat. I had to wait for her to struggle to get up, so I could pull out my tray, and then had to do the same to put it away when we were arriving in Phoenix. I was leaning against the poor guy in the window seat for four hours resulting in a stiff neck. Thankfully I am in a first class seat from Phoenix to San Diego. But, as usual, the flight was delayed getting to Phoenix, so we left 45 minutes late. Another trip getting home later than expected. That seems to be the norm now. Currently, I am listening to “Your Lucky Day in Hell” by The Eels. Seems appropriate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyQCOrVIRIg
In an hour I will be in San Diego, waiting on luggage, then getting my ride home. Then I will sleep in tomorrow. A working weekend.
Intergalactic Stardate December 11, 2018
Back on a jet heading to DFW. Will then go to Evansville, Indiana.
Intergalactic Stardate December 14, 2018
I’m on my way back home; right now, I am in transit from Evansville, Indiana to DFW in an American Eagle regional jet. It is always a worry if my roller bag containing thousands of dollars of equipment will fit in the overhead. It did.
Passwords are a real hassle. On occasion my iPhone requires my password rather than my thumb print. This morning it was quite early, not even 5 a.m. yet – I had to wake up the person at the hotel front counter to turn in keys and get my receipt. Once in the car, I needed my phone for directions from Henderson, Kentucky to Evansville Regional Airport. Sure enough, I couldn’t get into my phone because every password I used did not work. Finally, one worked. What a relief! It was still dark and raining heavily, making it very difficult to drive on strange roads. I missed my exit to the airport because I couldn’t even see there was a road there, although Siri was telling me to turn. I had to go to the next light, a mile away, to do a u-turn and this time, due to the lights of other cars I could see the road to the airport.
American Eagle spares nothing to provide first class travelers with an excellent breakfast – an açaí bar and a bag of mixed nuts, downed with a cup of coffee. The connection for my next flight is tight. But I should be able to get something more substantial to eat on that flight. We will land around noon, and then I will probably get home by 1 p.m. And then I must get to the office. I’m on vacation beginning next week and I have reports to finish before returning on January 2.
While writing I have been listening to music on the iPad in shuffle mode. Quite a variety but this time the shuffle is fixated on the compilation Bringing It All Back Again on the Shroom Angel label. Another couple discoveries about the music app on this new iPad – I had been a bit irritated with the old iPad cutting off songs about a minute before they end, and this iPad doesn’t do that. It had been a random thing, and primarily happened to music that had been transferred from downloads on my PC. The other discovery is not so pleasant. It doesn’t let you see what you had just listened to. So, if I wanted to go back to write about what I had heard, I would have to rely upon memory since I cannot go back on the app to see.
Well, we arrived early in DFW and I was able to grab a bite. I had not patronized McDonald’s in ages, but a sausage McMuffin with egg sounded so good and they were right beside our arrival gate. Just so you all know, I did not get the hash brown; just a coffee. Once that was accomplished, I headed for Terminal C via Skylink. Now I am on board awaiting take-off. Wouldn’t you know we are delayed due to not having our pilots. They are arriving on a flight that was delayed. We are ready to go as soon as they arrive. Forty-minute delay. Pilots arrived. Ready to go.
We have a new dog, purchased last Saturday. It is a mix breed shelter dog, known as a chiweenie, which is a mix of chihuahua and dachshund. It is a tough adjustment. She was as gentle as can be until she bonded with my wife. Now she is super possessive when my wife is around. We will have to do a bit of training to get her adjusted. Our new addition, named Gracie, had bonded with me before I took off for Kentucky, so I am hoping she will remember me when I get home today.
Something else is waiting for me at home; the Wings – Wild Life/Red Rose Speedway/Wings Over Europe deluxe box set. Last month I had received The Beatles’ “white album” deluxe set, so my investment in recorded music has met its quota. Next year will have to be a much more conservative year in purchases. At this point the music shuffle on the iPad is focused on the Forum Quorum album from 1967. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason for this.
So, as we move through the holiday season, I become more contemplative; thinking about the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and the future. Then I begin thinking about how I have often been Scrooge as well as Santa, or the child Scrooge or the child recipient of Santa. In fact, I have had many iterations, many shapeshifting moments, melting into the environment, losing identity, as well as becoming the people around me – entering their heads so to speak. Always the observer; the spectator. Yet, always being the court jester, the prankster, the comic. A catalyst. Memory holds the pleasant and the unpleasant. Imagination creates the pleasant and the unpleasant. It is a question of being… what is being? What is creating? Are we creating each moment or are we experiencing a moment created outside of ourselves? Or, are we the moment… or are we inside the moment? How much are we separate, and how much are we a part of It All? How much control do we have? When we exercise what we think is control, is it simply our imagination…or are we controlling? When we think we are letting go, are we? Or are we puppets controlled by an outside force? Or is the force simply our collection of experiences and the interpretation of those experiences? Am I writing this? Or is something outside my being writing this through me? Or is it a mix? Is what is outside “I” really outside “I”? How do I know? Who holds the truth? What is the concept of “truth”? Is it simply veracity? Fact? Is “being” fact? Could “being” be “truth”? How much of my perceptions are shared and how much do I assume my perceptions are shared?
Perhaps I should just leave it there. But where is “there”? And what is “just”? Oh no! This is going to be an ongoing conundrum in my mind. If we just “be” is that just hocus pocus bullshit, or is it “truth”? Is it here, there, or everywhere? Let’s just say that this is becoming excessive. But I am often visiting the House of Excess, and then I leave to return to the House of Guilt. Perhaps this is simply a form of the pleasure/pain continuum? Is it a continuum? Is there a you, a me, a we, and do we travel to each other? Do our thoughts travel? Or is it just our physical selves that do so. And what is the concept of “with”? If I say I am with you, how close in physical proximity do I have to be to be “with”? And what about touching? Can we really touch? That would mean our cells touch. But there are an infinite number of points between any two points. So, touching can only be the pressure applied to nerve endings enough that our brains become aware of the pressure and interpret it as contact. While asleep or unconscious, I do not have any awareness of contact or touch. And when returning to consciousness I do not have a recollection of such experience. So, to me it did not happen unless there is some evidence to verify that it happened. Or is it just a set-up by those controlling the situation? Sounds paranoid, doesn’t it? It seems we have all sorts of ways to describe supposed experiences.
In our minds we map our happenings and place them on a time continuum to keep them from appearing random and chaotic. We attempt to make sense of it so that we can move about in time and space. But there is no time or space in our thoughts. When thoughts travel, there is no respecting of physical boundaries because thoughts are not in the physical realm. And we really do not know if thoughts travel. But thought does control the physical. Or is it vice versa?
In short, since my flight is approaching its end, and I will be gathering my things and heading home, I will wrap this up. What you have been reading is a collection of time-thought-experience by my “I”, but as you read it, it becomes an influence mixing with what is already in your head. Is it control? Who knows? But there is an “I” and it really doesn’t hold much significance for there to be anything else on a mental level. However, on a physical level it does. So, you are you and I am I, and we are we, and I U We Be; whatever the hell that means. All I know is that we gotta say yes to another excess.
After getting home Friday, late that evening I had some chest discomfort and pain in my left arm and neck. I checked with a nurse Saturday morning and was told to go to the emergency room. From there I found I had experienced a heart attack. But with some luck there was no heart damage, no clots, and when I underwent angioplasty there was no need for a stent. They cleaned out the arteries going into the left side of my heart. As a result I just needed some changes in medication and some changes in diet (coupled with exercise) and I should be around for a few more nanoseconds, give or take a few decades. The moral of this story is to listen to your body. When it acts weird and the weirdness persists, get it checked out. I am okay now; I will heal from the medical intrusion into my body and will make some lifestyle changes. I want you to be okay too. I need the readership. Hahaha! Really, I want the best for you regardless. Until next time, happy holidays!