Thursday, March 31, 2011
My grandfather came up the other day while I was talking to a friend, and I suggested that she Google him. That phrase sounds a little weird -- creepy even, doesn't it? In any case, my grandfather, who was born in 1902 and died in 1985, wouldn't know a google from a giggle. He did the latter often. He loved puns--especially bad ones, like Marlene Dietrich in the bank ("I want to make a loan.")
My grandfather was an attorney, but he worked for many years doing title searches. This was important work back in the day, and he was a recognized expert. Now, they send out a paralegal with a laptop, but Israel Dautch knew how to do it.
He was the soul of gentility and gentleness. He adored my grandmother, who was a fiery, fundraising little Jewish woman who at one time was recognized by David Ben Gurion himself for all her efforts to help the State of Israel (which came into being during her watch). My grandfather would say, "I wear the pants in this family. I ask my wife where she wants to go and then I TAKE HER THERE!" Always a laugh, but it was true. And it was perfect.
I think about Grampy often, and remember his kindness and humor. Oh--when I googled him, I found one entry--for their house in Buffalo. I contacted the man who posted it and he was excited to hear about their "Vermont Modern" style house (in of all places, Buffalo, New York.)
So, the man died before the Internet was used by anyone and is listed now only for his house. And the latest word is, the house in question may not be theirs after all.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
A great time, and for my wife, a new adventure.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Newsboy. Delivered the morning paper—sometimes in the snow. I learned: How to use an alarm clock, that the job must be done—regardless of the weather, collecting and handling money.
Dishwasher and Busboy. My first fulltime job before college, in a busy downtown lunch place. I learned: Efficiency, organization, routine, commuting and how to polish silverware to perfection.
Auto Textbook Editor. Edited the work of tech writers. I learned: Enhanced computer skills, coordinating work with writers, how to job search in a pinch.
Technical Writer I. Produced documentation and online help for major software company as a member of a writing team. I learned: How to jump in the deep end of the pool and swim; work effectively with engineers, product managers and quality assurance people; manage constant change; understand and use documentation software of various kinds; how to move to single sourcing; the salvation of “the next release.”
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Chester's Bayview Cafe, located in the Walnut Square area of Berkeley just a block off Shattuck, is a friendly place, made so as much by the no-cover, informal ambiance as by the attentive service by Hugh--who effectively runs the entire place himself. A narrow space, it is divided into a front bar (with TV), middle restaurant section and a rear space that, last night, was dispensing something in small cups for what appeared to be a neighborhood promotion. The narrow venue is greatly relieved by windows along the entire west side so there's no claustrophobia.
Celu and Roger played two sets. The first song was Arlo Guthrie's City of New Orleans, a familiar tune that's accessible and provided a nice warmup to get the harmonies in sync. Celu is the stronger singer, blending a Joan Baez style tremolo with the blues energy of Bessie Smith. Roger's singing style is more mellow; the mix is quite successful. They tease, taking turns at the lead and then working together. In Helplessly Hoping, the Crosby, Stills and Nash tune, they didn't harmonize through the entire song as in the original but judiciously placed it where they wanted it--leaving you eagerly anticipating the next time.
In a bit of a surprise, the final song of the evening was Bruck Cockburn's Lovers in a Dangerous Time. I'm familiar with the Barenaked Ladies cover of 1991. Nice work through both sets, and the audience would have been happy to sit longer and enjoy the duo longer. But the singers had already started ahead of schedule and run late.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Free: The music sample is now as easy as picking up a little piece of paper the size of a VISA card and entering a number into your iTunes account. Presto!
REM Song: REM, the alternative band that's been around for more than three decades, now offers Oh My Heart to coffee buyers. The Out of Time album is marking its 20th anniversary now!
iPod: When I was a kid, a six-transistor radio with AM reception or a miniature reel-to-reel tape player was an amazing device. I've seen 45 records with a big hole in the middle, cassettes, and CDs. Who'd think you could cram more than 2,400 songs (with plenty of room for more) onto one pocket-sized device? I love my iPod Touch.
Starbucks: Now celebrating it's 40th birthday, the ubiquitous coffee, snack and mug distributor, has its own music publishing business! That's great. However, having already put most neighborhood coffee houses out of business, the company (rumor has it) has its eyes on S.F. Bay Area rival Peet's. Oh, please don't take my Peet's away!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
There's a new book available on his work called Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover. You can order it from William Stout Books.
Monday, March 21, 2011
If you want one, hurry, though--they're only making 918 copies over the next two years.
Here's Autoweek.com's take on this amazing machine.
The 918 Spyder is a gas-electric hybrid--you choose which fuel you use--a first for the brand.
Now, about that price. How about $845,000? Whew!
I actually am fond of the Boxster, currently Porsche's most "affordable" model. I drove one when they first came out in the late 1990s and loved the look, the feel, the shifter, the engine sound, the top-down cruising--everything, including the Guards Red paint. The Porsche I could afford now is that very car--a 1998 model!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
It worked its way into the literature of the time, too. Owsley supplied the fuel for Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, featured in Tom Wolfe's 1968 book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. If you're interested in more about drug literature, consult Flashback Books -- they're the experts.
Owsley Stanley was the Colonel Sanders of acid. He somehow got the recipe just right (and kept it to himself). You can read a lot more about him in the March 14, 2011 New York Times obituary.
There's something inglorious about his demise--in a car accident in the Australian bush country--but it's not surprising either.
I'm listening to my copy of the Dead's Anthem of the Sun in his memory right now.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I most recently heard Simon & Garfunkel's version on SiriusXM Radio, which has been offering a special station featuring the duo (which, sadly, ends shortly).
What I didn't know until today was that it was written by Ed McCurdy, who was a very popular folk singer in the 1950's and 60's, and died almost exactly 11 years ago.
The song has been recorded in 76 languages and is the official theme song of the Peace Corps, among other things. The lyrics:
Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men*
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again
And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray'rs were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing 'round and 'round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
*Note: I saw a version that said "It was filled with women and men" for this line--probably an update--and more appropriate for today.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Dave Brubeck is definitely cool, and his longtime drummer, Joe Morello, could really make those skins dance. He now joins the legion of departed Jazz legends. The photo to the left is from 1962.
Take Five was a huge hit in 1959 on the album of the same name. It was in an unusual (Jazzy) 5/4 time, which made it stand out. With its energy and feeling of movement, it's been a favorite for movie and TV soundtracks.
Check out this story and video of Joe and the gang in a French filming of a fast rendition of the tune.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
We played between two sets by a tight blues band called Grease, Grit & Grime. They set up a fine background for the party, which featured beers on tap and a pig on a spit among other attractions.
Today, Sunday, I played my Spring concert with the Castro Valley Chamber Orchestra. It included beautiful music by Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Chopin. The Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 featured Lois Brandwynne, a brilliant pianist. What a joy to play along with her.
All of my adult music playing began in 2003, when I picked up my electric Fender bass. It was reinforced by starting the upright bass in 2004. Finding bandmates was great, but to play in an orchestra you need help. I found my community orchestra through the Adult School, but there is another way to do it--the New Horizons International Music Association.
I learned about this group in the AARP Bulletin. If you're 50 or over, you can attend one of the sessions and start playing a new instrument--or resume playing the one you gave up after high school. There are about 7,000 members in 182 orchestras, bands and choruses in 41 states and overseas.
Groups meet once a week for an hour lesson followed by playing together for another hour. I have found my two-hour weekly orchestra rehearsals, with concerts every three months or so, to work out perfectly. However, with an orchestra you may need some experience to join, but with New Horizons, you can start whenever you're ready, at whatever level you're at.
It can make all the difference in your life. I know it has in mine.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I read comics from 1964 to the early 1970's and loved Spider-Man. My first issue was number 8. My mom got it for me along with several other now forgotten comics when I was home from school sick.
I loved the story of Peter Parker, the nerd with glasses who suddenly, with the bite of a radioactive spider, acquired super powers. I would have loved to have had super powers in the 7th grade.
I started buying Spider-Man and other Marvel comics off the newsstand myself with issue 25 and was able to fill in most of the gaps from guys in the neighborhood. My oldest one was number 2, featuring the Vulture--a popular and recurring Spider-Man villian.
Starting with issue number 39 the artist changed from the classic Steve Ditko to the sleeker renderings of Johnny Romita. I still treasure those original 38 issues--but don't own any comics now. I gave it up as an adult--but now I wish I had those slim little Marvel 12-cent classics back.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Besides the great opportunity to drive a wide selection of the latest cars on local roads and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, it was a chance to reconnect with with my automotive colleagues and favorite industry representatives.
Highlights for me this year included:
- A special presentation from Chrysler, who brought samples of all of their revamped products as well as the new Dodges, Jeeps and Fiat.
- A chance to drive local roads, some winding and scenic, in the long-awaited new Fiat 500 (pictured) as well as the Volvo S60, 2012 Ford Focus, Cadillac CTS Coupe--with a manual six-speed, BMW 335is, Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, Honda CR-Z manual-equipped hybrid, and the Mitsubishi i-MIEV and smart battery electric vehicles.
- A busy track day with a selection of great vehicles including the MAZDASPEED3--which was just as much fun as it is on the road--and the surprising Buick Regal Turbo--with a manual six-speed! The Subaru WRX STi was marvelously tenacious on the curving racetrack. Even the Volt was OK on the track--running only on electricity.
- There was an impromptu drag race between the smart and the i-MIEV to see who the best electric was--the i-MIEV won.
- The Hyundai Equus impressed me with its amazing luxury--like a Lexus for less money--incredible.
- Many tasty meals, including the usual banquet on Tuesday night.
The weather was incredibly good, considering the date. I wore a T-shirt outside both days.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The two occasionally perform together today, and of course Paul Simon has had a long and busy solo career.
The music from the movie, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman, is particularly familiar. That was the vehicle that launched Hoffman's film career.
Now, I have learned that satellite radio provider Sirius XM is giving us a special Simon & Garfunkel channel. If you're a subscriber, you will find Paul and Art at 113 on Sirius and 38 on XM until March 18th.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
A movie was made recently that was also enjoyable and followed the book pretty closely.
Che Guevara posters were around when I was a teenager. He helped Fidel Castro in his takeover in the Cuban revolution in 1959 and with his beard and beret, was very cool to many in that tumultuous time.
His compadre on the journey, Alberto Granado, just died today, at the age of 88. Che died in 1967 while trying to stir up revolution in Bolivia.
Friday, March 4, 2011
I guess that's not a complete surprise, really.
Researchers found that species are going extinct three to 12 times faster than would be expected if there were no crisis.
That gives Earth between three and 22 centuries to reach the point of mass extinction if nothing is done to stop the problem.
It would be the sixth time in Earth's history that this has happened--none of them recent.
We'll have to keep an eye on this one.