The Betrayal

I swapped out my SM-57 Mic for an SE Voodoo ribbon mic. The second Mic is a Royer – also a ribbon mic.

Surprise! The SM-57 sounds better with the Royer.

On Losing 40(+) Pounds

I started my latest weight loss journey mid October, and even with total knee replacement surgery – (where I have a lull in strenuous physical activity) – I’m still losing weight.

All of my regular clothes now fits me. I have a closet with some very cool retro wool cycling jerseys and they be will what drives me to lose “the rest of the weight”

Losing 40 pounds is just to get to what I would consider to be the absolute upper end of the range for my height. Its still overweight but not obese – BMI wise. To wear those jerseys I would have to get to the weight I was at 20 years ago.

I even have blasted through a plateau – something that caused me to give up – on at least two previous attempts at this

All of my labs before surgery were the best I’ve had in 20 years. I do feel a ton better (bad choice of words intended). I even have reduced my alcohol consumption down to 2 drinks a week, and haven’t had any since January 1 and don’t miss it one bit.

How have I done this? LoseIt! app and walking 3 miles 3 times a week and weight lifting 4 times a week. Occasional bike rides. I log everything and have my goal set to lose 2 pounds a week. I am allotted 1500 calories a day but net (calories in – calories burned) only consume 1200.

My goal was to reduce the weight on my knees – especially since knee replacement.

There are so many benefits – I’d need several more blogs to list them all. All I can say is that these things are a total game and life changer.

I’m feeling very proud of myself today.

Green Apple Man

Its so nice to see one of my favorite used book stores – Green Apple Books – still in business after all these years. My grown children live in San Francisco and have gone to this store quite a few times.

Today’s song has a structured guitar part but the cello is 100% improvised and a lot of fun

Its Only a Paper Moon

I have to admit, I’m an “old soul” and have always been. I remember my parents always wanting a new model home. They didn’t care for the older house like what my Grandfather had in Keyport, NJ after he retired. I loved that house – it’s front porch was closed in with many small window panes. The house was a sort of Craftsman bungalow style house.

In the modern real world, I also love new technology, but I do know the foundation of old technology that made the modern possible.

For example, the Computer evolved from a Jacquard Loom – where punched cards were made to automate part of the weaving process.

With my song writing, my latest song experiments have me slowing down my songs which finally have me arriving at the destination I’ve always wanted. I’m changing the way I play, and it forces me to be a lot more precise and careful about playing chords and notes while muting strings that shouldn’t be heard. In other words, be more thoughtful and deliberate. The extra care and attention is already paying off yuge bigly.

The destination harkens back to the 1920’s and 30’s more than any other decades. There are a few forays into Victorian / Gold Mining times, and perhaps some 40’s and 50’s, but if I had to chose one lifetime I’m most fascinated with – it would be my Grandparents age and lifetime.

Several posts I had an image of a small outdoor theatre with a cool crescent moon. There’s a little art deco and maybe even tinge of Victorian, not sure. But when I see objects like that, I feel it.

In the 90’s, one of my favorite rock albums was The Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness. It was heavy and grungy and really did sound like it bordered melancholy without sinking into a maudlin blubber fest. Its like Radiohead – where through magic they were able to write music that was more uplifting than depressing – but which evokes a certain set of introspective thoughts and feelings.

The Decemberists also have this vibe but not grungy but more folksy / Americana.

My goal is to write songs that have some drama, some pathos, evoke emotions or feelings, without getting maudlin.

New Godin Guitar

Godin 5th Avenue T Armond

I love great value – and am always happiest when I know what I purchase has great value. In this case, the quality wood, finish, hardware and craftsmanship are easily better than the “Big 3′ guitar makers. I also am more than pleased that this guitar is made in Quebec by a family run business. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Radio Flyer – 1988

Lowell, Massachusetts

In the late 80’s, before Gupta Technologies sent me live in London and teach classes around Europe, I traveled around the US teaching. When I had the chance to go to Boston in March, I jumped on it. I love Boston – its like San Francisco of the northeast.

During that trip I made a pilgrimage to Lowell, the hometown of one of my favorite authors, Jack Kerouac. As I was crossing a bridge I noticed a wagon stuck in the snow on top of the frozen ice of a mill canal that fed into the Merrimac River. This is one of those silly photos I remember and think about from time to time and I have no reason why.

Musically, I’m finally writing music with feeling and which also evokes either how I feel or have felt recently.

But is it Art?

Jonesing for a Fuji X100V – its unobtainable right now – but this camera is what I think should be called the “Digital M6 Junior”. Leica only knows how to make very expensive cameras. Fuji – 1, Leica – 0

I recently visited a couple Youtube vlogs where the host had the right look and feel of what a good vlog would be, they had music, mood and also did a good job with gear review.

Then they showed their photographs and they were super bland with very poor light control. Compositionally and technically it was shit. And someone saying they intended it to be an ironic piece of anti-art doesn’t impress me. In most cases that’s an excuse used by lazy people who haven’t put enough effort in it.

“It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of two mockeries of a sham

– Woody Allen, Bananas, 1971

In the 80’s we called these types poseurs. My hope for them is that they either take a photographic art appreciation class or buy the countless used monographs of famous fine art photographers. I did both of these and still don’t lose any sleep over whether I’m a Fine Art Photographer or just someone who stumbles on it occassionally. And because I was roaming around Europe trying to copy Henri Cartier-Bresson or Eugene Atget – does this mean I’m a copycat Fine Art photographer?

“Fine-art photography is photography created in line with the vision of the photographer as artist, using photography as a medium for creative expression. The goal of fine-art photography is to express an idea, a message, or an emotion”

– Wikipedia

I like the above quote. I am old enough to remember the discussion of whether or not Photography is an Art or not. Paralleling this, there was discussion about Rock Music being Art. Same for Rap. In the 80’s this really was a topic because there were bands pushing the envelope. Many of these were influenced by bands like Roxy Music and Bowie and others who really stepped out if traditional rock circles.

Soon, I’ll have my second lovely Godin guitar. I really love Godin guitars

One fun thing is looking back at an era you did not appreciate at the time – in your younger years – but you look at it now and can’t believe how your novice eye or ear missed it.

Just musing over coffee on a crisp, bright sunny Sunday morning after what seemed like a Biblical set of 12 major rain storms.

Godin Guitars are my Favorite Guitars

Made in Montreal by Superb Craftspeople

In my decade of playing guitars, my favorites used to be Rickenbacker (way back in the 80’s), Fender (Telecaster Thinline) and Gretsch (just about anything they make).

Three months back I purchased a Godin Kingpin Archtop with single P90 pickup mainly to try to add a bit of acoustic guitar sound to my Gretsch and Fender sound. I’ve been blown away since, so much so – that I’m selling 4 guitars and will purchase a Godin T Armond guitar (pictured above).

The materials used and fit and finish are as good or better than anything I’ve ever seen, and their value is off the charts.

The way these guitars play (most comfortable for my hands) and how light they are and how great they sound – plus that they are made by wizards in Montreal, and no kidding, I’m addicted. Heck, I’d love to go visit their factory – along with visiting Montreal and Quebec City – two gorgeous cities with very interesting history.

I will have one of these beauties in a couple of weeks, and can’t wait.

Cafe Des-Arts Paris – 1987

I was lucky to live across from a great little Lebanese Deli in San Francisco near my beach bungalo at 21st and Irving. They had the best Shawarmas.

While visiting Paris I obviously thought that it was so important to catch this that I just went for it. I’m usually pretty shy and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. This nice fellow seems to enjoy the attention. If I lived in Paris I would have made him a print.

I tried to Google Paris Kebab and Shawarma, but couldn’t find a restaurant with the letters nao in it – at least that’s what I think the letters are in the window.

Grunge Lounge Music

When I was Curt Cobains final age

I have no idea why, but of all the dead rock stars and other members of “The 27 Club”, I occasionally think about Curt Cobain. He was from a small town like I was – his town (Aberdeen, Washington) was about twice the population of Newton, NJ). He also was a shy self doubter who worked extra hard to make sure he was doing his best.

The only other musician who saddens me this way is Amy Winehouse. When I posthumously checked out her music, I was blown away.

OK – Grunge Rock. In many ways its tied for #1 rock style with some forms of Americana – and by that I mean R.E.M. and Uncle Tupelo / Son Volt. There is one person who ties these seemingly disparate threads together – Neil Young.

Neil Young is the “Godfather of Grunge”. From his Harvest Moon album – one of the best rock albums ever – to others like Rust Never Sleeps, I love how he can play country or folk twang and then get really gritty and grungy. Pure brilliance.

Curt Cobain listed Neil Young and R.E.M. as influences, and his list overlaps and dovetails with mine. I guess I feel some kind of affinity with him.

He reportedly had terrible stomach pain, and hence got on heroin, an opioid. I’ve had chronic back pain since 1995 when I had half a disc removed, but took up cycling and yoga to stave off what could be crippling pain. Its a damned shame he couldn’t find a different way through. During these knee replacements I’ve been ultra vigilant about the Oxycodone they gave me and am using it very sparingly and will stop taking it soon. Its easy to use a crutch when you are in pain. I am empathetic with others who get hooked on this shit.

Anyway, a few songs back – “New Moon Rising” is exactly what I have envisioned for years but had no idea how to write it. It was trapped in my brain and couldn’t get out. The guitar part is Neil Young influenced, and the Piano is Mike Mills from R.E.M. Bet you didn’t know R.E.M. could be a catalyst for learning to play piano – but if you go back and listen to some of their songs – the piano part makes the song. “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” is one of the obvious ones, but there are many that are much more subtle, but no less impactful.

When I listen to my latest Grunge Lounge music while looking at my old photos I finally have combined the art work I love making in a way that I feel really good about – because for the first time ever its the complete way I feel – these things are me.