Thursday, January 31, 2013

Radio Daze

Every once in awhile I find myself thinking about radio. I know, know, but when you spent the vast majority of your life in the business, it does pop into your head from time to time. First of all I don't listen to it anymore, with the exception of NPR (Terri Gross, Keillor, Click and Clack reruns, etc) I just don't turn it on anymore. I use satellite radio, Pandora and have a good bit of music downloaded, so in most cases radio is redundant, boring and over commercialized.

I still get radio newsletters via e-mail because I'm too lazy to unsubscribe. I got one today on developing a Country-Rock hybrid format. I guess since so much of today's country music is a shitty version of pop-rock (country is now the anti-dance-urban-rap music) some programmers think that you could play that dreck and toss in a few classic rock nuggets and charm the audience with this "new breakthrough"....good luck with it. Especially when you play the Steve Miller Band back to back with Reba McIntire. Or John Mellencamp's "Authority Song" next to Dirks Bentley. If these brilliant programmers want to know what rock songs the country audience wants to hear go to a shit kicker country bar and listen to the rock songs the bands play or to the major country artist concerts and hear what they play from the rock and roll genre. I heard Alabama play BTO's "Taking Care of Business" at a concert and Travis Tritt always sprinkled RnR in his shows, I suspect they learned that it works from time to time because they both played the beach circuit in the Carolinas night after god damned night. Of course what a country fan likes when they are drunk and smoked up is one thing and what they want to hear when they are straight is another.

I got drunk one night in Florida with Jimmy Bowen, who at the time was the President of Capitol Records Nashville (he made Garth a star and got fired) Jimmy produced everyone from the Beach Boys to Sinatra, he knew music! He said Nashville is interested in one thing and it isn't artists. It's hit singles written by a fraternity of hack song writers. The artists are considered   disposable and interchangeable. Bowen was from the school of recording, one that focuses on building an artist with a long term catalog of music, music that sells over the long haul, 180 degrees from Nashville's mentality. After about the fifth or sixth cocktail, he told me that much to Nashville's surprise their efforts in the 70's to urbanize country music fizzled when they produced record after record of music with strings and horns, a kind of mash up of adult contemporary music. That 'rock" artists like the Eagles, Pure Prairie League, Lynrd Skynrd, Marshall Tucker Band the various spin offs from the original Byrds and others were making hit records that were actually country but not played on country radio. No horns, no strings and banjos were used from time to time. No wonder Willie and Waylon left for Lukenbach and didn't look back. At the same time Johnny Cash was ignored and lost his deal with Columbia records. I think it's a good thing when a kid like Taylor Swift intuitively knew this and walked away from Music Row and set her own terms for her career.

The whole mixing classic rock with country is bullshit. Country radio needs to look at it's own past for about Rosanne Cash? Lacy J. Dalton? Southern Pacific? Even my old pal Susie Boguss or gasp, Pam Tillis, Travis Tritt, The Mavericks, Hal Ketcham, Don Williams and so many more. Maybe even some Waylon, Willie and the Boys would show up with the Man in Black in tow.

There is also a series called "State of the DJ" another pile of horseshit. Broadcast Companies now look at air talent as an unnecessary expense. The business is a long way from when I was a kid and we put rock and roll on FM. The mantra in those days was "round up some kids put them on the radio and tell them to make their friends happy". It worked so well it killed itself!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

One of the parents of a little kid slain in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook school was heckled by NRA gun nuts during his testimony the other day. WTF is wrong with these people? What responsible gun owner would even want to associate with them? Jesus H. Christ! BTW, since Sandy Hook, 1800 people have been shot in the USA.

Sarah Palin is out of work, so is Bristol and Todd didn't fish last year or work his good Union job on the oil rigs. Hope Ms Snowbilly saved some of the cash Fox paid her or that house she bought in North Scottsdale is going to be up for sale soon. Maybe it can be packaged with Bristol's pad? Fame is fleeting!

I live in a state with a ton of illegals and as much talk I hear of them ripping off the system, believe me they get ripped off by the system, big time. There are businesses here (and in other states) that do contract labor for employers. Let's say I need 15 laborers to clean up a warehouse. I get a hold of one of these outfits and they send the guys to do the work I need done. I write a check for a flat amount and the suppliers takes care of the details. The supplier pays the workers and the job is done. I have a clean warehouse and no worries. The labor supplier deducts Social Security, Medicare, Federal and State taxes from the workers pay, doesn't send the deductions anywhere because there are no SS numbers involved. The supplier just pockets the money. Some business are ballsy enough to do it themselves, a car wash in Thousand Oaks operated like this for years, finally someone blew the whistle, the car wash was fined 450k, sounds like a lot of money and a big fine, right? The best estimates say the car wash owner pocketed 900k during the years he was fined for. Another car wash operator (5 locations) had illegals 'audition" for 2 weeks at no pay to see if the customers "approved of them". On a personal note, I had a husband and wife cleaning crew do my office, they were illegal, the billing was sent by a straw company, I paid the straw company, god only knows what they got paid by their front. I pay them cash out of  my pocket now. They are good at their jobs, bring their own cleaning supplies, show up on time. He has been here for 8 years his wife for 6 and they've worked their asses off the entire time and been screwed everyday. Time to make them legal taxpayers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Odds and Ends.

Patti Page died this month, my memories of her are not good! When "Old Cape Cod" was a hit record we were at the lake cabin. It was raining almost everyday and the radio was on from morning to night. I must of heard the damned song 100's of times, maybe thousands. It was torture to a Jr High boy's ears. In Centerville, MA on Cape Cod there is a street named Patti Page Way. Ms Page had never been to Cape Cod when she recorded the song, finally visited and fell in love with it! Add "Old Cape Cod" to "How Much is That Doggie in the Window" and "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" you have three songs that probably play back to back on the Muszak System in Hell!

The summer before Patti Page drove me crazy, the same radio in the cabin fascinated me with the news reports of the sinking of the Andrea Doria off Nantucket after she collided with the Stockholm.

The Prius is the best selling car in California. In the rest of the country it's the Ford F-150. Oddly enough if you own a Prius in California, you get a sticker that let's you drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle Lane with only one person in the car. Prius owners speed by the slow moving traffic at speeds that deliver its worst gas mileage! When I had my Corvette, The Cakes and I were rolling along Highway 10 out in the desert. The Corvette was doing just under 85mph at 1850 rpm in 6th gear and was delivering gas mileage in the low 30's. We were passed by a Prius like we were standing still. I told The Cakes, we were probably getting 10 more miles to the gallon than he was! BTW, the new C-7 Corvette should get even better mileage since they have added 8-6-4 technology! Our little Chevy training car gets 22 mpg with students driving it, when I drove it for a couple of months before the school opened I averaged 28 mpg, technique counts!

While we are on cars for a moment, one morning last week the local Model A Club gathered in our parking lot before heading off to do a fund raiser for The Many Mansions charity group. (Many Mansions does housing for abused and battered women and their children) there were Model As of all shapes and configurations, in fact Ford built 34 different models. It was strange to be so old and remembering a few of them being used for daily transportaion when I was a kid in the 50's. The Larson's who lived across the street from us on Lincoln Drive had two cars, a newer Plymouth and Mr. Larson drove a '30 Model A to work everyday. 30 hp and a top speed of 65! Mileage in the mid 20's at best, but better than the Model T's 15 mpg or lower. A base Model A sold for $385.00 when they came out in 1927. Model As in decent original condition are worth from 15 to 25k today depending on the body style and considering Ford built close to 5 million there are plenty of survivors.

One of our student's father runs the syndication company that distributes Delilah. he told me last week that Delilah told him I was one of the best guys she ever worked for and she had a ton of respect for me. Nice to hear. Delilah and I worked together before she was famous. She recently told CBS TV that she was crazy and had been since she was 15, in the beginning she did all bad crazy things and now she only does crazy good things. Like Point Hope.

I haven't been posting much lately, busy at work and bummed out about the dog. Cakes and I are going out on a date this weekend, first time in months we can leave home without worrying about our boy!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Jager December 1999-January 2013

In January of 1999 Jan and I drove to Toni Moore's house and picked up a 5 week old German Shepherd dog. Jan held him as we drove from Boxford back to Boston. We named him Jager, (yay-gah) his name means Hunter in German. His daddy was a big solid German import named Ergo, his mom was the lovely Dana, he got the best of both parents. In confirmation he was as close to GSD perfection as possible. Jager was the third dog I'd gotten from Toni over the years and she made me an offer at the time to take his pappa, the mighty SCH III Ergo or this little fellow in Jan's arms. She wanted a pup so there we were on a cold night in our black, German car with our new, black German dog. We hadn't driven a mile when I knew he owned Jan, heart and soul. He had on a tiny red nylon woven collar with a matching leash. Jan kept lifting him up and looking in his eyes and he was kissing her with his puppy tongue and puppy breath. They were madly in love. So was I. With both of them.

Jan in 2004 with our friend John's pup Lugar and Jager by her side.

As the experienced GSD guy, I had rules for my dogs, no sleeping on the bed, no sleeping on the furniture, no feeding from our plates, etc, etc, etc. Jager broke them all, I didn't let my other dogs do those things, but the combination of Jan's blue eyes and his brown turned me into a wimp. Jan owned me and he did too. Jan had never raised a pup, she was worried about poop and pee. Not a problem with Jager. He peed three times and took one tiny poop in the condo and like that he was trained. We have a country French coffee table, one of the legs has baby teeth marks on it, one application of green apple solution and he stopped. Jan saved all of his baby teeth, they are around here somewhere.

One of our neighbors had a young, long legged, mixed breed named Tybo, The 4 of us would go to the dog park on Comm Ave and Tybo would chase Jager around and around. Jager was one of the fastest GSD I've ever seen, he can thank his old pal Tybo for training him. Jager could run a greyhound into the ground! He was a leaper, too. I'm 6-1 and have 35 inch arms, I could hold a tennis ball in my hand and stretch as high as I can and within three steps he could snatch the ball from my hand. Runner, leaper and he loved sticks and balls. When he was 3 or 4 years old I decided I'd try and burn him out, we went to the park and I threw a tennis ball 56 times before he finally quit, my last throws only went 20-30 feet and my arm hasn't been the same since!

Jager was also a fine sailor, he loved our boat. He loved being in his bright yellow doggie life jacket sitting next to his Mom in the cockpit as we sailed on Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod, Buzzard's Bay, Maine, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay and Florida. When we were anchored or on the mooring in Marblehead he would position himself on top of the cabin and stand his watch. He loved the salt breeze in his face and if I whispered to him in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter "Wanna go on the boat?'' He was packed and ready to go! I'd take him to the boatyard with me when I was getting "Air Time" ready for the season and he was well known around the Alden yard in Portsmouth, RI. Everyone of the storage blocks, shims and boards in the yard has his teeth marks on it! He'd trot around and bring them back to our (his?) boat. At the yard he even learned to go up and down a ladder when our boat was up on jack stands, as long as I was behind him he would do it.

He's gone now, I'm in the den/office and I can feel him. I look over my shoulder from the desk and expect to see him on the floor. His entire life was spent close to me, next to me, unless Jan was around. He would always throw me under the bus for her. God damn, he loved her, worshiped her. protected her, owned her.

We went camping in Colorado one summer. Going from sea level to 11,000 feet. I was out of breath setting up camp, when I finished I decided to throw the ball for him, his legs were buckling like mine in an instant. When we camped in our old mountain tent, he insisted on sleeping next to the door...he had to protect his pack. It was door, dog, me and then Jan. He had his own ensolite pad for camping and his own backpack. He loved the ice cold creeks, the warmth of the campfire and just being with us. He thought Marmots were very interesting animals.

The last few months were hard on all three of us, the nerve deterioration he suffered stopped him from walking in July. he made the vacation in August to Westport, he was here to see our friend (and his) John in late September, we then set a goal of his birthday in December and he did, then Christmas, New Years and now it's done, he just couldn't go on anymore.

Dr. Kane at Agoura Hills Animal Hospital is a great vet, his staff, Jennifer in particular, are all wonderful. They have been supportive of the three of us over the last months. Today they made his last moments, calm, quiet and as perfect as it could be. I held his head, told him to go run, that we loved him and always would, he passed on to where ever good dogs go at. I'm sure he is running with his pals, stick in his mouth and leading the pack.

We miss him and love him.

Run, Pally run, go for a boat ride, go bye-bye in the car. Come to work with Dad and go give your Mommy a kiss!