Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Alt-Reality (huh?) & Politics (boo!!!) & New Bass (yea!!!)

I'll actually save the information about the new bass until the end of this blog posting, mostly so I can end on a positive note. That being said, let's do the Jersey thing and start negative ...

You don't get much more "Jersey" than this picture!

Have you noticed how everything is, all of a sudden, alt-reality?  President Trump lives in an alt-reality world, the press/media are fake/alt-reality, BeyoncĂ© is all of a sudden persona non-grata because she was pissed that Adele won awards instead of her and that is now the alt-reality of BeyoncĂ©s world (what?? Yeah, I don't know either but that's what I'm reading??) .... Jeez, I'm getting old and just don't understand this new mumbo-jumbo ...

Now that President Trump is, indeed, president and President Obama is no longer in charge, my FB feeds and emails and every other method of communicating were fully clogged up with political BS. My right-leaning friends are busy telling me that the world is saved because President Trump is on the scene. My left-leaning friends are telling me that President Trump is, in fact, Hitler and that they will NEVER support anything he does.

And I'm busy clicking "ignore" or "remove from news feed" or, in certain cases, "unfriend" from all of these right & left leaning people. I have no issue with someone presenting their point of view or expressing an opinion, that's fair and is one of the reasons social media exists. But when every single post someone puts up is a "Pants on Fire" finger-pointing at President Trump to the exclusion of anything else getting posted, or when every single post someone puts up is an indictment of Hillary Clinton's many years of service and how she should be in jail, to the exclusion of anything else getting posted, that kind of stuff is tiring to the alt-extreme (can I just arbitrarily put the word "alt" in front of anything I want?)

Do I like President Trump? Nope, I do not, and it's almost impossible to imagine that he is actually President of the United States. Do I like (choice is yours) Clinton/President Obama? Nope, I do not and I'm glad President Obama is gone and equally glad Clinton lost. All of our choices in these recent, and particularly the last, elections were bad and this go-round only time will tell if the lesser offensive person is leading our country or not. One thing I do know for sure, no one can make that judgement after only a couple of weeks in the job.

I have come to realize, after my brief 4-month stint as a Georgia resident, that the major cities on the East and West coasts DO NOT IN ANY WAY represent the views of most of the country. I realize that the major cities have population count on their side, but geographically there is a lot more "the rest of the USA" than the densely populated cities would like us all to believe. I have no proof, but I'm guessing that, on a percentage of the total population basis, the so-called fly-over states have many more people voting (% wise) than the big coast city states.

After spending some time here is Georgia, in an area that has some pretty good left-leaning Atlanta-influenced people and some pretty good right-leaning country-boys, I realize that the overwhelming majority of the people in this area are pretty much like me, not left or right, but center people. Escaping the liberal craziness that is the NYC-influenced region I've come to see that most people don't think President Obama was trying to make us a Muslim country and most people don't think President Trump is a reincarnated Hilter. Most people, here in the average central thought zone, are concerned with their families, their jobs, their hobbies. And most central-zone people don't want to be force fed the alt-reality sputum that comes at us from both the left and right ... sadly, that includes an awful lot of our friends who have joined the "I can't think for myself so I'll just be nasty" ranks of the righty and lefty world.

Here's my alt-reality ... I'm, daily, reading things in a world where people have completely lost their minds and no longer think for themselves. They have taken to reposting completely irrelevant nonsense about what ever political crap de jour they saw that hour, gleefully proclaiming that the President is, in alt-reality terms, either stupid, corrupt, perverted, communist, war mongering, anti-immigrant ... Must I really continue this list? I'm not defending the President, trust me, I'm not, but how can any level thinking person call a multi-billionaire stupid?  He's a friggin' bilionaire, many times over (how are you all doing in that regard?), and figured out how to become the President of the most powerful country in the world ... And people are calling HIM stupid?  Talk about alt-reality !!!

So please, I'm begging all of you, please stop with all of these "Pants-on-Fire" posts (just an example, there are loads of other garbage posts as well). Yes, the President lies ... Just like the last 44 Presidents lied, they are all politicians, they all lie all the time ... Yes, Ms Clinton won the popular vote but that isn't how elections are decided and YOU aren't going to change that by whining incessantly about it ... Please, just stop it all, stop feeding me alt-reality right-leaning and left-leaning slop that you collected in your social media groups. I'm tired of hitting "delete" and "block" and "unfriend". And I'd like to think that many of the people I know actually have more intelligence than they appear to express on social media ... or maybe that was alt-intelligence??

Now, for something that is not alt-reality ....

Yes, it's a "real" bass

I've been lusting after an Eminence bass for several years but haven't had the opportunity to grab one until now. These buggers are expensive (you pay dearly for convenience) and while I was able to purchase one I just couldn't justify the $3500 for what seemed to be a "novelty" ... it was hard to mentally ignore the beautiful DB's I already own. So what if they are hard to move around, it wasn't worth paying that kind of coin just for convenience, right? Turns out, I was wrong ...

This bass is the real deal, no joking around. It might look like an emaciated upright bass forced into a starvation diet, but the double bass details are there in full force.Full sized neck (for the bass nerds; 41.5" D neck), fully adjustable bridge, good under a bow, soundpost, highly variable end pin (plenty of height, even for a tall dork like me), everything is double bass worthy ... except for the acoustic tone, which is thin and soft. But once you plug it in it opens up just like any amplified double bass.

The cool thing about this bass is that it comes apart for traveling. The neck detaches at the body of the bass, effectively cutting the size down to something that fits into a standard hard shell golf club case. This is huge for those of us who have been moving these big boys for all of these years. Trying to get a DB onto a plane is a major PITA and the odds are good that it will arrive with some sort of damage.

Shipping case

With this Eminence bass design I can easily pack up the bass into the case, catch a flight up to Jersey and do a gig that night. Of course, the gig needs to pay more than $50 bucks for that to happen and those dates are getting to be few and far between.  Nonetheless, the opportunity to easily move this bass is there and I love it. I am available to come to you with the bass, but make it a good paying gig with a meal and some scotch, then maybe we can talk.

Bella,checking out the packing job
Speaking of music opportunities, it has been far too quiet on my end in that regard. A big chunk of the fault lies with me (okay, maybe most of the fault) (all right, all right ... ALL of the fault), I have been very busy getting settled in here in Georgia and haven't put much of a push into finding the right situation. And I've set some restrictive boundaries that I'd like to maintain:

  • No playing in night clubs until 2:00 am for crappy pay
  • No twice-a-week rehearsals (learn your parts on your own, before wasting everyone's time)
  • No 2 hour round trip travel for rehearsals (easy to do here in the greater Atlanta area)
  • Play only with GOOD musicians, not guys that are just learning (or re-learning ... "I played in a band in high school and I'd like to start up again" or "It's been a lot of years but I used to know about 20 songs" or "My wife bought me a guitar for Christmas, can you tune it for me before rehearsal?"). I don't mean to be snotty but learn on your own time
  • Play jazz, not some blues/R&B derivation. I know that market for jazz sucks, but that's what I'm looking for
  • I DO NOT PLAY FOR FREE ... don't ask
Now, the rest is up to me, time to stop messing around and either get serious or start selling some basses. I had lunch today with an old friend and it was embarrassing to have to make excuses about where my music "career" is/isn't right now. I have enough junk to make excuses for, I don't need to add music to that list.

So many things are going so great, it's time to to make it all good ... get rid of social media negativity (which has already made a huge difference in my feed by eliminating those nasty, politically biased posts and posters leaving me with good music info, nice personal life details from friends that haven't hit the "unfriend" pile, even some cool dog video stuff), enjoy this beautiful new life with Sheila and get music back up and running the way it should be!

Bella, waiting for Spring!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Aiken SC - Great Visit!!

We just spent a few days with Beth & George at their sort-of new home in Aiken, SC. Aiken is a small equestrian-centric town deeply soaked in history, particularly as it relates to horses, polo, and fox hunts. George was a wonderful tour guide, growing up in this area left him well prepared to show us the immediate "must-see" sights.  We'll definitely be back to see more ... Beth is one of Sheila's very best friends and the fact they live in such a sweet community is just a huge bonus!

It's a cool place that was started in the late 19th century. Aiken pretty quickly gained a rep as a winter-time retreat spot for people with big bucks. Wealthy northerners began visiting during the harsh winters and the Aiken area became the "Winter Colony",  a place to let loose, away from the NY society columnists!  The Winter Colonists brought their horses to Aiken to extend their equestrian activities throughout the year. Riding, racing, fox hunting and polo were among the top favorites. You can feel that total attitude throughout the place when visiting.

The first night we went to The Wilcox Inn, an historic old hotel in the heart of Aiken. Really pretty place reminiscent of all the old Inns you see in so many classic movies on TMC. They had a VERY good jazz band called "4 Cats in the Doghouse" playing (and they were good, too, and not just because it was in SC). Spent the evening having grown-up beverages and fantastic light fare (blue cheese on graham crackers with a cherry & clove jam, just ridiculous good) and talking with best friends in a classic southern inn ... Darn near perfect ...

The Wilcox Inn
3 of the 4 Cats
Sheila - in her element
The next day we spent touring the area and poking around some nice shops in the downtown district. Apparently there was a major antiques event under way ... Downtown was packed with "well-heeled" dealers paying some "well-heeled" prices for this stuff!  Sheila and I prefer the local Georgia auction where chaos and mayhem can result in some great finds (not to mention sausage biscuits at 9:00 pm), all this high falutin' fancy antique talk was out of my league. Well, in fairness, since meeting Sheila, pretty much everything is out of my league ... (She seemed pretty comfortable with the rich people, though) ( and again making me wonder what she sees in a bass player from NJ with a dumb dog?)

As a jolt back to my Jersey roots reality, the morning we left, Beth and George took us to the Track Kitchen for breakfast. This is a ... ah ... umm ... hmm ... shack-type building in the middle of the primary polo fields area. With dirt rounds surrounding it ... in deference to the horses the entire area has dirt roads ... this place is as no-frills as the plain exterior. Inside, it's obvious that no-frills is the theme they've chosen, with hand-printed cardboard signs tacked up above the countertop. Which is really just a wall with a 2x6 nailed onto the studs.

This place was originally established to feed the trainers, jockeys, stablemen, groomers ... it was set up as a place to hang with the people you work with, swap stories, just a good old get together spot. It was never intended to be fancy ... and it's not. They serve mostly breakfast foods and are open from 7:00 am until they run out of stuff to cook. The exterior sign kind of indicates that, mostly thru innuendo:

The Track Kitchen has pictures all over the walls ... I'm fairly certain not one of them was straight, or if it was straight, it was by accident.  I remember, when we were kids, my father used to screw all of the pictures (can't really call it artwork when it's a picture clipped out of Mad Magazine, can you?) directly to the wall with 4 screws, one on each side, so the herd of kids wouldn't keep knocking them sideways. The Track Kitchen could learn a thing or two from the OM (an abbreviation for "old man") (we all called him OM, except for Barb, my sister, who was his favorite) (hey, don't think we were disrespectful, HE call every single one of us "Charlie", including my sister) about how to put up a picture and "make sure the damn thing stays there"!  And they would need some big old screws, too, just to be sure the picture didn't move.

And it would have been great if the pictures were secured, because then you'd never see the grimy outline where the picture used to be. But since the OM did not decorate, the pics move and it's pretty obvious that the place hasn't been painted in a very long time. Strangely enough, the Track Kitchen was featured in a kinda hoity-toity magazine called "Saveur" (see pic, below) where it's was called "supremely casual" and a "beloved domain": if it was in Jersey it would be called "out-of-business" ...

George & Beth
Sheila & me

Although you can't see them, the folks sitting directly behind us are the owners of the 2013 Belmont Stakes winner. This joint might be seriously no-frills, but the thing I liked about it the most is that they didn't give two hoots who you were ... you get waited on in the order you come in, you wait like everyone else, no special treatment because you happen to be a zillion-aire ...

But, to be fair, the food was good (can you really mess up eggs, bacon, home fries and toast, though?), and in keeping with local hoity-toity traditions, much too expensive. I mean, $9 for 2 eggs, toast, hash browns, bacon and coffee? In Jersey, that's $7, tops, and the diner has been cleaned sometime in recent memory. I also liked that you walk into the kitchen area and get your own beverage. You can have "tea water", "decaf" or "real coffee" ...
Coffee Station - "real coffee" is out of view
A pic of the framed pics and menu board

 In spite of what must read as a highly negative review, I was thrilled with this place! The food was good, service was slow but everything is cooked one order at a time, so you (and Mr Belmont Stakes winner) just wait your turn until it's ready. And be careful how you order ... Sheila said the first time she visited Beth they went to the Track Kitchen and Sheila ordered her bacon extra crispy! She was immediately told "well, now, I don't know 'bout all o' that", the cautionary tale delivered with hands on hips and an accusatory raised eyebrow ... Sheila learned her lesson, eat what's served, which in our case was absolutely 100% perfect bacon!

Big love to Beth and George for their wonderful hospitality during our trip, we are really looking forward to a return visit during polo season!