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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do we understand. . .

. . . the fact that we're NOT TRYING to understand? We dignify inanity when we should speak up and say, like Peter Finch's character in the movie NETWORK, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Ann Davidow summed it up nicely on Buzzflash this week. . . .

Will We Ever Get Some Relief From the Witless Muddle that Still Afflicts Our Public Dialogue?
FINDING A VOICE by Ann Davidow

'Let's be clear' has become a popular phrase that usually portends a muddled message. Listen as hard as you might, clarity is not what you'll be hearing most of the time. In fact the phrase is just what politicians use when they are at a loss for words or at least a loss for anything that makes sense. Euphemisms abound in discussions that run the gamut from tax policies to how our various armed conflicts are proceeding.

Everything is on the table we're told when it comes to making a dent in our massive national debt, but of course nothing could be further from the truth. Depending on one's perspective solutions are to be found in what are called "entitlements", teachers' salaries, union contracts and measures to protect the environment, the favorite whipping boys of the right wing while defense and tax cuts remain inviolate. Even when taxes are part of the discussion they are expressed in terms like "tax code expenditures" that soften the effect of procedures that in fact hide special-interest set-asides.

What could be more fiscally irresponsible, for example, than House Republican's intention to support the Defense of Marriage act by insisting legal fees be undertaken despite the Justice Dept's refusal to funds a defense of the legislation? These are supposed to be the "adults", caretakers of our economy, not the purveyors of partisan views that appeal to right-wing supporters. The public is being flummoxed once again by political entities that fail to come clean about what their real goals are, using a phony 'values' context to hide the true nature of narrow views and often a religious sub-text.

Deniers on the right pursue bizarre notions that tend to reduce the viability of their cause - - there was no holocaust, the earth is only six-thousand years old, the president is a secret Muslim who is not a natural born citizen. To carry on such divisive prattle suggests a dearth of ideas in the GOP. Why would wanna-be leaders spend so much time on matters that marginalize their party?

Interspersed with the nonsense, however, conservatives throw in matters of real concern such as rising fuel prices, joblessness and the cost of never-ending war so that voters face absurd battles among the witless. How often is the public informed about the manipulations of speculators on Wall Street who drive fluctuating oil prices at the pump? Does it occur to anyone that there is no good reason for sudden changes in price? After all oil that started out in a pump didn't suddenly become more valuable during the day. I once sat a pump, having paid beforehand for my purchase, watching a young man place cardboard placards on the pumps raising the price of gas by several cents. There had been no intervening delivery so obviously the increase was an arbitrary assessment by the gas-station owner not a reflection of market forces. We've all fallen down the rabbit hole and are having great difficulty making sense of our environment.

In addition to current predicaments at home and abroad we are confronted by people from our past who just will not go away. Donald Rumsfeld's book takes an exculpatory look at the mess he and others in the Bush administration created. At the conservative Hudson Institute Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby and retired General Pace 'examined' the course that took us to Iraq each justifying for the audience a path that led us into a quagmire from which we are still unable to escape. Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for policy in the Bush administration, and once referred to by General Tommy Franks as the "dumbest fucking guy on the planet" moderated. It was said early on "that everything that has gone wrong in Iraq - especially those matters that Congress is either investigating or is poised to probe is linked to his office." Nevertheless these Bush stalwarts were pleased to defend their dubious exploits and, infuriatingly, even found moments of hilarity as they elaborated on their observations. Apparently the public's memory is of short duration; many will be content to look back on the Rumsfeld years with reverence, content to celebrate the mindless claptrap that so misled us in the past.

Today, Donald Trump, new-found leader of the mindless, must have nothing much to do other than to keep track of what others are saying about him. He has attacked actor Robert DeNiro for his criticisms saying he wasn't "the brightest bulb on the planet." For his part Trump isn't just a dull bulb he's an electrical grid gone dark.

Will we ever get some relief from the witless muddle that still afflicts our public dialogue?



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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Have you heard. . .

. . . my duet with Yo-Yo Ma?

Yo-Yo and Me (the Indabamusic.com contest from awhile back)


Well, in truth, it was a contest on Indaba Music.com where you download Yo-Yo playing this piece and you do, essentially, whatever you want production-wise. Needless to say, my rather tame jazz-treatment with improvisation did NOT win the contest. But it was fun. And it REALLY is Yo-Yo and me through the magic of digital technology.

(Thanks to Indabamusic.com and Mr. Yo-Yo Ma)


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I Am . . .

. . . here!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anybody out there????????????



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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Black Coffee's Aroma. . .

. . . hangs thick like a cloud every morning. He sorts through paisleys and patterns and stripes on the door as he lifts up a vain little finger to stifle the blood from a close shave in the battle of life. The jet-set crowd's returning from an all night bout of drinking while he's all-consumed by grand delusions also known as wishful thinking.

His star quality seems to escape everyone who would be in position to help him. Still he goes off each day in anticipation of all of the thrill and the joy that one feels when he's making interment arrangements. He's misunderstood. A book, a song, a TV sitcom part you'd miss for blinking or a winning lotto ticket in his hand is only wishful thinking.

Oh it's nobody's fault but his own. So few offers come over the phone. But he still perseveres; faces up to his fears that can cloud the intentions and bring on the tears.

Still his spirits get lower each day that this program's protracted. Moment by moment it takes all he's he has to go on. But he just grits his teeth, charges in, slings the arrows back into the face of outrageous misguided confusion. And even though he'll never die a pauper or a rich king he's just not content to waste his time on anything but wishful thinking.

Oh the groceries and the bills aren't paid by talking or by drinking. So he just resumes his grind lacklusterly and does his wishful thinking.



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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Company One Keeps. . .

. . . says a lot about one.

Monday night at Brewer's Alley, was (as always) a pure, pleasureable potpourri of piano performance and otherwise musical patois. Check out the eclectic roster of fine performers: (Hyperlinks are to the left of each name)

Craig Cummings Craig Cummings
Jamie BoydJamie Boyd
Jenny Morgan Jenny Morgan
Teporah Teporah
Rod Deacey Rod Deacey (Rod not only plans, books, schedules, runs sound and co-mcs this venue WEEKLY, but is [as you will hear when he posts some music very soon] a local, talent treasure]
Tomy Wright Tomy Wright

Would it then be immodest of me to say, that's pretty damned good company?

[And I started things off with Tomy, admirably and tastefully, on percussion for most of the set. BTW, I am one of the featured artists on "my-piano.com" this week. (See below)]
my-piano.com My-Piano.com

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Busy, busy, busy. . .

Been Trying to Get the Word out about ANOTHER SHOT

Ray Jozwiak - Gonzo Piano
performs the piano prelude This Week!
Monday, April 25, 7;30PM at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery (Songwriters Showcase-Upstairs)
124 North Market Street Frederick, MD 21701
Telephone: 301-631-0089 Fax: 301-631-1874
http://www.brewers-alley.com/
Get a FREE burned copy of the digital-download release ANOTHER SHOT at Brewer's Alley (while they last)
visit: http://www.rayjozwiak.com


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I found a friend. . .

. . . a passtime, a hobby, a treasure, a joy, a therapy, a passion in music. Not consciously, mind you. But music and I became one. We were joined at the hip and never found each other to be a burden.

And as I uncomfortably approached, then entered adolescence, I found that music could be a comfort; a refuge. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As a young guitarist, who never took a lesson or ever really played a guitar with any semblance of skill, at the tender age of seven, my Mother received a phone call. A young entrepreneur was opening a 'music studio' in our very own east Baltimore neighborhood. (I always thought the term 'music studio' sounded impressive. Sophisticated, cultured and exclusive.) This studio was to be called the Maryland Accordion Institute. (Talk about impressive, sophisticated, cultured and exclusive.) The phone call was telemarketing for prospective clientele, namely wee sprites who were interested in learning to play that prince of all reed instruments, king of the Bohemian beer hall, and butt of many, many jokes - the accordion. But, this was not the perception held by myself at the time. Nor was it the perception held by many in a similar position at the time. It was, quite honestly (and truly , unashamedly) an interesting and desirable proposition. I was, indeed, VERY interested in learning to play the accordion. DAMNED interested. Those Sunday afternoons listening to Dad play his accordion, combined with my natural love of music, possibly even my lack of ambition and talent on the guitar, all united in my seven year old brain forming a profound hunger to learn to play the accordion.

As odd as it sounds, I did not regret at the time, nor do I now regret not pursuing the 'cool' -er musical path of playing the guitar. It just never occurred to me that that's what I should have done. And I never looked back.



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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taking in. . .

. . . my daily sustenance down at my local Scottish restaurant when I noticed that my entree was more than I bargained for. Look what I got. The manager said there was compensation coming my way. But not today. Don't call us. Don't call us. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Auntie Lynn said it would be a sin to waste my precious vocal expertise. So I took me to audition down at the prestigious theatre called the Ritz. Producer man was nice as he could be. He said I was fine, but not this time. Don't call us. Don't call us. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Seems I've been hearing the same thing since I don't know when. Some with a little less confidence might just give in. I'm no one's fool unless I want to be. Life can be cruel. Won't someone please just CALL ME!?

At the end of what had seemed to be a perfect evening, just what did I do? Could it be something I said or didn't follow-through? I wish I knew. We danced and dined. I even kissed your hand. Under a twinkling sky I said goodbye when you cried don't call us. Don't call us. Don't call us, we'll call you.

©1997 Raymond M. Jozwiak


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Friday, April 22, 2011

Not much fidelity. . .

. . . emanated from a 3 x 5 inch transistor radio, but who knew from fidelity? When you're five years old and you're starved for sounds, a transistor radio is nothing short of a little jewel box. Mine was a General Electric, black. Very sleek. It was maybe 1 1/4 inches thick with a length and width similar to a post card. It came with an 'earphone', only ONE bud, no FM stereo here, which was perfect when circumstances warranted private listening.

Walk Like a Man, It's My Party, Ring of Fire, Blue Velvet, Surfin' USA, Blowin' in the Wind, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Rubber Ball, Big Bad John, Blue Moon, Traveling Man, A Hundred Pounds of Clay, This Diamond Ring, Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter, Dang Me, Do You Love Me, Louie Louie, I Saw Her Standing There, Needles and Pins, You Really Got Me, It's Over.



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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Whenever. . .

. . . I get to feeling discouraged, or sorry for myself, I like to read things like. . .

Every part of the scheme shows that this man [George Stephenson] has applied himself to a subject of which he has no knowledge, and to which he has no science to apply. (Parliamentary Committee 1825)

Far too noisy, my dear Mozart. Far too many notes. (Emperor Ferdinand after the first performance of The Marriage of Figaro)

I liked your opera. I think I will put it to music. (Beethoven to a fellow composer)

If Beethoven's Seventh Symphony is not by some means abridged, it will soon fall into disuse. (Philip Hale, Boston music critic, 1837)

I played over the music of that scoundrel Brahms. What a giftless bastard! (Tchaikovsky's diary. 9th October 1886)

We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out. (Decca Recording Company about the Beatles.1962)

These boys won't make it. Four-groups are out. Go back to Liverpool, Mr. Epstein, you have a good business there. (Recording Company)

I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper. (Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind")

They may be world famous, but four shrieking monkeys are not going to use a privileged family name without permission. (Frau Eva von Zeppelin)

He bores me. He ought to have stuck to his flying machines. (Auguste Renoir, on Leonardo da Vinci

This fellow Charles Lindbergh will never make it. He's doomed. (Harry Guggenheim, millionaire aviation enthusiast)

Very interesting, Whittle, my boy, but it will never work! ( Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Cambridge University)

You will never amount to very much. (Munich Schoolmaster to Albert Einstein, aged 10)

Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools. (New York Times about Goddard's revolutionary rocket work, 1921)

Stanley Matthews lacks the big match temperament. He will never hold down a regular first-team place in top class soccer. ( Unsigned football writer when Matthews made his debut at the age of 17)

Why do you necessarily have to be wrong just because a few million people think you are? (Frank Zappa)

Failed in Business, 1831. Defeated for Legislature, 1832. Sweetheart/Fiancee Died, 1835. Nervous Breakdown, 1836. Defeated in Election, 1836. Defeated for U.S. Congress, 1843. Defeated again for U.S. Congress, 1846. Defeated once again for U.S. Congress, 1848. Defeated for U.S. Senate, 1855. Defeated for U.S. Vice Presidency, 1856. Defeated again for U.S. Senate, 1858. (Abraham Lincoln, Elected President of the U.S.A., 1860)


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Who's to blame?

Jimmy only went outside to take a walk. And when he saw his buddies, stopped to play some ball. Nobody heard the shot ring out 'til they saw him fall. Jimmy was gone. And everybody shakes their heads when the story's told. Jimmy was ten years old. Tell me how can we stop the slaughter? How can we stop the pain? How can we call this order? Oh it's a shame. What a shame. How can we stop the slaugher? How can we stop the pain? It could be your son or daughter. Then who's to blame?

A screaming siren split the calm of a summer night. The crowd was pressing in with eyes that were filled with fright. What can a population do to make this thing right? Haven't we tried? NR association claims that it's still our right. Oh what a noble fight! Tell me how can we stop the slaughter? How can we stop the pain? How can we call this order? Oh it's a shame. What a shame. How can we stop the slaugher? How can we stop the pain? It could be your son or daughter. Then who's to blame?

Hear the roar of the gunning motor. Hear the squeal of the spinning tires. See them running through city streets. Ready, aim and fire. Have you ever felt like the victim? When the culprit has all the rights? See them running through city streets. Ready, aim and fire.

So here we sit in comfort and indifference. If the situation gets no better put up a fence. The problem isn't getting smaller, it's grown immense. What can I do? I could save my pennies, buy a magnum; protect my self. Safety for all my wealth. Tell me how can we stop the slaughter? How can we stop the pain? How can we call this order? Oh it's a shame. What a shame. How can we stop the slaugher? How can we stop the pain? It could be your son or daughter. Then who's to blame?

©1993 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Monday, April 18, 2011

Beatles, Schmeatles. . .

. . . maybe it didn't really last that long, my career as a Beatle, but it was a potent experience. And thanks to my Mothers' Day debut, I got a taste of public performance, the energy shared between performer and audience, and I certainly did like it. Although the Beatles' influence upon me had subsided by this time, they were undoubtedly a profound influence; a lingering presence in or on our culture and myself as well and though I was not by any means an obsessive fan, I was always an appreciator of the music of the Beatles. Little did I realize at the time, their music-like all the music that I absorbed over the years, influences and informs the music that I make today in some form or fashion.

Around this time my record collecting appetite grew as did my curiosity about and pleasure in the music all around me. Soon added to my collection (and some borrowed from my sister) were records by Herman's Hermits, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Dave Clark Five, The Turtles, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Animals, Tommy James and the Shondells and more. And added to that, one Christmas I was to receive one of the most treasured gifts of my childhood, that technological miracle that could connect a young boy to the great big world outside, that marvel of marvels. . . the transistor radio.

My little musical world was instantly widened and the musical menu available to me embellished beyond belief. In those days, there were many 'Top 40' radio stations which in truth (much like pop stations today) played a surprisingly small selection of songs over and over and over and over and. . . well, you get the idea. But to me, to possess this little box of my very own, that travelled easily with me, over which no one else could exert their control (broadcasting had not become concerned with 'parental contol/guidance' concepts yet) which provided me with endless (as long as I provided battery power) music, was nearly nirvana.



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John, Paul, George, Ringo. . .

. . . and Ray. Well OK. I didn't LITERALLY become one of the Beatles. But I did learn to imitate, to some childish/childlike extent, a Beatles performance of I Want To Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. I used to sing them to the bus driver on the way to school and to any and ALL of my relatives- most of whom were a more than receptive audience.

This Beatles 'experience' led me to my first public performance. My Mother's sister was a member of the 'Ladies Organization' at her church and one of their activities was an annual Mothers' Day breakfast and showcase. The affair was held in the church hall and consisted of a breakfast of bacon, eggs, biscuits, hash browns, fruits and cakes followed a program of Polish folk dancers, an occasional crooner and some 'talented' children or possibly a novelty act. I was recruited to be the youngest member of the Beatles, this incarnation comprised of some older boys, offspring of other of the 'Holy Family' membership, all of whom I had never met.

We all wore wigs, made cleverly and skillfully of black construction paper, picture THAT, if you will. The Beatles record was played, and we all sang along. No Nilly Vanilly lip-synching stuff for us NO SIR! And I even played my little, plywood, Toy Barn acoustic guitar, which I incidentally didn't even really know how to play. I only knew the 'moves'.

But, fortunately for this group of wayward impersonators, the 'moves' were indeed what counted, because as fate would have it, we were A HIT! Of course not for our musical abilities, though. We were a hit because we were the children of members and relations to members of the ladies sodality at the church. But that didn't matter to us. As a matter of fact, I don't believe I ever even saw those other Beatles again, and if I did, it was never again in a Beatles capacity to be sure. Nor do I know whether or not any of them pursued solo careers (certainly none achieved individual success to the extent that McCartney did) but a lasting impression was made upon me.


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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Southward bound. . .

. . . a latte grande on the sea between my legs. All around I see the saints. I see the dregs and the byproducts of civilzation enter, exit from stage left; stage right. Then, another monument to the elusive and mysterious Honolulu Harry, the richest man I know. Honolulu Harry, the richest man in this life or the next.

Through the town, sometimes with baggage some without, making a livlihood. Up or down, any direction that you choose. And among the fast foods, strip malls and traffic, there's that name again as plain as day. Then, another monument to the elusive and mysterious Honolulu Harry, the richest man I know. Honolulu Harry, the richest man in this life or the next.

Harry was certainly rich. But it only was money. Very few liked him that much. Now it seems kind of funny.

Just the sound of his name, spoken with respect and reverence that's owed to him, brings to mind beneficence without a peer. And it warms the heart to think of the thousands Harry helped, but not while he was here. Then, another monument to the elusive and mysterious Honolulu Harry, the richest man I know. Honolulu Harry, the richest man in this life or the next.



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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Listening to Dad. . .

. . . play his accordion on Sunday afternoons was not my only exposure to or involvement in music. As kids, in the 60s, we always possessed, and I don't know how many (because they were cheap and inexpensive) that we went through, a small, portable 'record player' (we did not call them 'turntables' although the turntable is an essential component of the contraption). And through the magic of our 'record player', I entered a world that held every bit, if not more, intrigue, excitement, mystery, joy, sadness, exuberance, melancholy, pleasure, challenge, rhythm, lyric, engagement than any other child's literary or sports-induced fantasy. I felt like, paraphrasing Van Dyke Parks' song title "Movies is Magic", Music was magic.

I had records that you wouldn't believe; vinyl records, or maybe they were plastic since they all, at least the initial 45rpm and 78rpm-the little ones, contained children's music and the pop songs of the day. Some of the 78s were even different colors; which reminds me of my days in radio (many years after this) when I experienced a promotional 45 of the Brothers Johnson's Strawberry Letter 23 which was red AND strawberry scented. Some of the titles I remember are, Tom Terrific (the theme from the cartoon television show; one of many others: Huckleberry Hound for example), Puff the Magic Dragon (yes, Peter, Paul and Mary and it WAS in the top 40), Waytt Earp (with the Legend of Jesse James on the flip side; not sure who the performers were though), The Bear Went Over the Mountain (little memory remains of this one except that it was performed by a chorus and was one of my least favorites), until finally one day. . .



What I call 'selective memory' (not the textbook definition), "episodic memory impaired in normal aging" has left me with few definitive details of how, when, why and by whom my first Beatles 45rpm record was purchased. But I clearly remember that I owned "She Loves You" on the Swan record label (due to episodic memory impairment I don't remember the flip-side**) AND "I Want To Hold Your Hand", flip side of which was "I Saw Her Standing There".

At that stage in my musical development, I didn't evaluate music or entertainment for its sophistication, its level of technique or virtuosity or any of that stuff; and still don't, for the most part. But something about the entire Beatles' AURA got me hooked. I instantly became. . . one of the Beatles.

**I'll save you the trouble, flip-side of She Loves You was I'll Get You, which thanks to the web, I listened to again and do, fondly, remember.



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Friday, April 15, 2011

So when. . .

. . . I started this blog, I said I would write everyday. With one or two early exceptions, I have been quite religious about it and now I see that I have 68 posts. SIXTY EIGHT POSTS. That's kind of hard to believe.

We, meaning a handful of dedicated 'amateur' (only in livlihood, not in skill) musicians are working hard on a piece of music entitled GONNA SMILE to which I referred a while back. The beauty of the thing is, we've never met face-to-face. We're doing the entire thing through the internet via a website called indabamusic.com.

As I said earlier, this is a great site for musicians with a little web/tech/virtual know-how. It's kinda like Fantasy Baseball for musicians.

Anyway, hopefully I can post the finished product for you to hear very soon. Meantime, if you're interested in making music on the web with people from all over the world, go to www.indabamusic.com. It's FREE. But if you're such a pro that you want lots of bandwidth, bells and whistles, you may upgrade.



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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So management. . .

. . . says I should keep this blog focused on music and music-related things. . . and since I'M management, I know that they know what they're talking about!

So that's what I'm gonna do. At least I hope I am. (I can't promise that I won't stray occasionally just because. . . JUST BECAUSE.
That's what life's about.)

Springtime can be downright inspirational. Of course it would be much more inspirational if the rain would stop. A little warm spring air might be nice too. Hey, it could be much worse. We've been known to have snow in these parts as late as May, although rarely. So suffice to say that I shall take inspiration from the fact that spring (and subsequently summer) are within view and inevitable. I take my inspiration from wherever I can get it and am in the process of composing new things while editing and reworking some older things. Meantime, I can hear the birds singing outside.

Like Frank Zappa said, "Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best..."


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm feeling dead. . .

. . . on my feet. I've got that stubble on my chin. Spent half the night on the job. I'm gonna bring that new account in.
There ain't no supper on the table. The lady knows just where I've been. I do the best that I am able with the limited resources I have in matters of the heart. And if it's coming down to minding my own business, it's just the business I've been minding; that I've been minding all the time. You gotta make up your mind. I always wanted to grow up shooting outlaws while riding on the back of a horse. But that just wasn't a part of the plan. My mother told me to always be a good boy. But I'm a company man. I do the best that I can. My wife and children will have to wait in line for my time 'cause I'm a company man.

This lookin' bad isn't good. The only answer is ignore it. A little pain here and there, you get some medicine and cure it. It's not that I can't take the PRESSURE. The pot is boiling all the time. It's only that I'm being measured by the powers in the boardroom above. They're always watching me. And if I miss an opportunity to make another, to make a profit they will find it. And it'll certainly be missed. Another cheek to be kissed. I always wanted to grow up shooting outlaws while riding on the back of a horse. But that just wasn't a part of the plan. My mother told me to always be a good boy. But I'm a company man. I do the best that I can. My wife and children will have to wait in line for my time 'cause I'm a company man.

I was so young and idealistic then. Couldn't see the trees for the forest most of the time until I tasted all the choicest wines. Saving money up for that rainy day. Promising a romantic getaway. Have I made a pact with the devil or is it just fate?

I was a child of the light. I always hoped to do the right things. And though they said I was bright there's still a fire inside me burning for all the riches I am missing; for all the love I never found. I wonder who she might be kissing in the middle of a cold winter night when left alone again. I wonder just what I would do if she would leave me; pack up the kids and run away without a singular goodbye. Why in the world would she try? I always wanted to grow up shooting outlaws while riding on the back of a horse. But that just wasn't a part of the plan. My mother told me to always be a good boy. But I'm a company man. I do the best that I can. My wife and children will have to wait in line for my time 'cause I'm a company man.


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Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sometimes you feel like a nut. . .

. . . sometimes you don't.

It's difficult to explain, but sometimes I feel like I am about seven years old. Childish? Hopefully infrequently, but more childlike, I think. Childlike in that I am curiously still full of wonder; questioning a plethora of things which so many others take for granted or are simply too busy (and adult?) to think about any longer. Childlike in my optimism (can you believe that?) and the sheer joy and pleasure I derive from the simple, and the BEST, things in life.

Security? Yes. I crave it at about the same rate as any other human being. But I do feel a certain amount of security, but a different, mature, independent security of my own making and not the security felt by a seven year old boy in a happy, for all intent and purpose, home with 'not a care in the world'. But at seven, why in hell should there be a care in the world? At fifty three, I would have to live in a hole to not have a care in the world.

The security I possess no longer comes from reliance upon a mysterious, unseen being or the promise of a nebulous, supernatural, post-death existence. It also most certainly does not originate from my own tiny little glob of gray matter. The king's portion of the security that I experience comes from my very own immediate family; my wife and three sons. And I don't mean that they exhibit a 'Ward Cleaver' authority and confidence to my sniveling, helpless child-man. What they DO each provide is a real, dependable, loving, appreciative, challenging human presence which elevates, fortifies, inspires, puzzles (and sometimes angers) me on a regular basis. This security seems to hit the spot for a mature (and again, I mean physically) adult male in 21st century America. . . me.



ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yeah. . .

. . . blathering again. . .

Music, music, music on my mind. Listening to my friend Doug Alan Wilcox as I write. He's working on a new CD. Check him out. Mellow! (The good kind of mellow.)

Good weekend. Weather is improving. Looking for those damned ants again. Not because I'm looking forward to seeing them. Only because they always show up. But I'm ready for them. I've got my Terro and more on order. Yuck!

Worked in the yard, not one of my favorite things, but actually enjoyed the time with my wife. And alas, another bottle tree grows in Towson. Tricky little suckers though. Gotta get the nails in the post at the perfect upward tilting angle, but not drive them in too far. A good wind though, and I fear their will be some bottles on the lawn to rake.

Watched a bit of the 'reelz' network special on JFK, my minimum weekly television requirement. Some good acting. Even DVRed, seems like there's a commercial after every 3 minutes of program. Sure, we zip through them, still annoying though.

Soothed the soul at the keyboard a bit. Mystic I played to a warm, appreciative congregation at CSL Baltimore on Sunday. Great folks. Love Lisa's soulful voice. (And the rest of the band is good too).

Shutdown of the government was avoided shortly before midnight Friday. That's good for a lot of government employees, that's for sure.

Gaddafi is still hanging in there. WTF???

Gotta go to the day job. Bittersweet. (Balance man, balance.)



ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Stick to your guns. . .

STICK TO YOUR GUNS
STICK TO YOUR GUNS
DON’T LET NOBODY MAKE YOU RUN
JUST STICK TO YOUR GUNS

I’M NOT TALKING ‘BOUT WEAPONS
AUTOMATIC AND SUCH
IF YOU HAVE SOME CONVICTION
PRINCIPLES MEAN SO MUCH
PRINCIPLES MEAN SO MUCH

I JUST WANT TO SING
HEAR THE MANY VIBRATIONS RING
MAYBE MY MUSIC’S NOT YOUR KIND OF THING
I’VE GOT TO GET THE OTHERS LISTENING
I’VE GOT TO GET TH OTHERS LISTENING

IT’S A HUMAN THING
WE’RE EAS’LY LED WHEN THERE ARE TWO OR THREE
YES TWO IS COMPANY AND THREE IS A CROWD
THE GROUP OF VOICES CAN BE VERY LOUD
THE OTHER VOICES CAN BE VERY LOUD





ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some strange things. . .

. . . have I experienced this week. . .

The bumper sticker: "I love my Granddogs" (Sorry, this is taking 'doggie-dom' to new heights)

A girl I know always says 'You can do anything if you have your glasses and a bright light on.' (Which is probably true, now that I think about it.)

Trump is thinking about another run for President. (Does ANYONE really have to comment on THAT?!)

"Business is business and business must grow" [. . . Dr. Seuss] (Came to my mind after hearing some bad news about a local office of a very successful business)

And last but not least, the budget battle in DC. . . looked up some facts. . . (Thanks to FactCheck.org)
Obama claimed that by the middle of this decade his budget “will not be adding more to the national debt.” But that’s not true. The debt will continue to grow by more than $600 billion even in 2015, the year with the least red ink projected.
The president also claims that the “discretionary” budget is only 12 percent of the total. It’s actually 36 percent. Obama, like President Bush before him, is referring to “non-security” spending that excludes not only the Pentagon but the Department of Homeland Security and veterans’ benefits.
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee, repeated a false claim that Obama has increased domestic discretionary spending by 84 percent over the last two years. He hasn’t. That spending went up 27 percent, even counting stimulus spending, according to the official tally from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Ryan’s committee also claims that Obama’s budget contains $1.6 trillion in “new taxes.” Actually, 44 percent of that total is made up of increases scheduled under current law, not proposed in the budget. And one big proposed increase is offset by Obama holding down a scheduled rise in the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Speaker Boehner claimed Obama has added 200,000 federal workers, when official figures put the total at 58,000, and Sarah Palin claimed in a bogus Twitter message that Obama’s cuts are only 0.1 percent of the deficit, when the true figure is 20 times higher.

So. . . THERE!


ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Friday, April 8, 2011

Talk about your glass HALF FULL. . .

Irrespective of its inherent theistic philosophy, to which I do not personally subscribe, I do think this is a damned happy (and catchy) tune. . . .





Oh yeah, hope you'll check out ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who'da thunk . . .

. . . the government would actually shutdown. Well, this isn't the first time. It happened during the Clinton administration.

AND Rob Kaplan (Harvard Business School) says the government ALREADY HAS shut down, and this for a number of reasons. One, particularly glaring one though, is that 'while President Obama's budget commission developed proposals to address budget issues, a lame-duck Congress declared a temporary victory by extending all tax cuts (even for the wealthy) as part of a deal applauded by both sides of the aisle that, in effect, simply kicked the can down the road.' Fans of tax cuts for the rich think that tax cuts eventually pay for themselves, even when the facts suggest otherwise. They are unwilling to even discuss the facts that underlie this premise.

Gannett reporter William Theobald learned from his sources exactly what a government shutdown would entail:
- The Internal Revenue Service would continue to process electronically filed returns and provide refunds (and take payments), but would not process paper returns and would not conduct audits.
- The Small Business Administration would not issue small business loans.
- The Federal Housing Administration would not guarantee mortgages. During the 1995 shutdown, 12 percent of mortgages were FHA-guaranteed. Now, 30 percent are.
- The national parks would close, as would the Smithsonian Institution (and the Cherry Blossom Festival parade in Washington would be cancelled).
- There is no hard estimate on the total number of federal employees who would be furloughed, but it would be in the "same vicinity" as when 800,000 people temporarily were laid off.
- The Veterans Administration would remain open because it is on a multi-year appropriations schedule.
- The Environmental Protection Agency would no longer be issuing new permits and would stop work on Environmental Impact Statements, which are required for many transportation projects.
- The Social Security Administration would continue to provide benefits for current recipients. The SSA has not finalized the rest of its plans.While President Obama's budget commission developed proposals to address these issues, a lame-duck Congress declared a temporary victory by extending all tax cuts (even for the wealthy) as part of a deal applauded by both sides of the aisle that, in effect, simply kicked the can down the road.
- Medicare would continue to pay out benefits, at least for the short term. If a shutdown lasted for months, the trust fund would run out of money and payments would stop.
- Department of Defense employees required to stay on the job would continue to earn money, but they would not be paid. A significant number of civilian DOD employees would be furloughed.
- The same general rules apply to the legislative and judicial branches of the federal government, but the OMB official said those two branches make their own plans.

Politics, ideology and questionable theory should not influence this process. When your representatives ask you to re-elect him/her, ask them why they don't take YOUR BEST INTEREST more seriously!!!



Oh yeah, hope you'll check out ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You don't have to. . .

. . . travel to the record shops, the Best Buys, Targets, WalMarts or the mall. You don’t have to decide whether to pay cash, write a check or use your credit card. You don’t have to lug it home and leave it under the car seat, and go outside in the rain (or snow) to get it after you’ve dragged your groceries, dog food, dry cleaning and six pack in from the car, forgetting that it was even under that car seat. You don’t have to clutter your countertop with that pesky little receipt which you can’t decide whether to throw away, recycle or file, and that your usually leave on the countertop, only to move it back and forth between that countertop and kitchen the table (sometimes the dining room table, for variety) because you couldn’t make the aforementioned decision. You don’t have to add another plastic bag to your already monumental collection which occupies a prominent place in your kitchen, laundry or mud room which frequently find their way to the ocean only to asphyxiate some innocent little sea creature or sit for innumerable years in the trash heap at your local landfill. You don’t have to struggle with that indestructible cellophane wrapping and cut a 2 x 3/4 inch gash in the tenderloin part of your right (your left if you are right-handed) hand using a steak knife to break through, or scour the house for that little plastic ‘cd opener’ which you have so wisely stored in ‘A GOOD PLACE’ which, as we all know, is the place where you will never find it until you have absolutely NO NEED for it! Which, of course, will prompt you to search for a band-aid, which you meant to buy last trip to the grocery store but forgot because you didn’t write it on your grocery list after you used the last one (probably the last time you bought a cd). You don’t have to struggle with that permanent, impenetrable tape that they put at the top of the jewel case and that only comes off in ½ millimeter strips instead of all at once, if and when you can pry off a corner. You don’t have to find a space for it on that over-crowded book-shelf, cd rack or the bottom cupboard of your entertainment center which is already over-stocked with Barney videotapes and chick-flicks that you can only bear to watch once, even though you thought they were funny and that you’d like to own them (the chick-flicks, not the Barney tapes). You don’t have to jam up the cd player in your car because you forgot Dean Martin’s Greatest Hits was still in there and you forced it into the slot anyway to find now that you can’t listen to either of them, or any other cd for that matter. . . or discover that the batteries in your personal cd-man only have enough power to illuminate the display that shows you are low on battery power. . . or find that your cd changer in your stereo has changed. . . it now DOESN’T work (which leads you back to Best Buy, Target etc. above, but that’s another story).

All you have to do is:
purchase it online
download
sit back and listen

Bet you wouldn’t have it any other way!

ANOTHER SHOT by Ray Jozwiak (that's me!)
Ray Jozwiak: Another Shot

Monday, April 4, 2011

Not quite sure. . .

. . . how we can ever stop such ridiculousness as the Terry Jones/Koran-burning/Afghanistan riot/killing or whatever you want to call it.

The situation provides a vivid illustration of what can be achieved when ignorance and reactionary violence are combined. . . death.
Of course some parties involved not only have no objection to the resulting death, they actually welcome it.

Since I clearly see which side of THIS argument is the correct one - NEITHER side - I won't belabor any point here at all.
I only want to use it as another opportunity to repeat what I believe to be a lesson learned, or more importantly, a preventative measure to such nonsense-induced tragedy - EDUCATION.

Take the time to LEARN. I mean real objective LEARNING. This would and should entail the consultation of MULTIPLE sources (and not merely or exclusively one or another 'holy' book), discussion (objective, non-emotional discussion) followed by some REAL thinking. . .

although I wonder now if the number of human beings truly capable of such educational endeavor is, of late, dwindling. . .




Coming April 5th - ANOTHER SHOT
by Ray Jozwiak

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Some divine. . .

. . . musical chops from Mr. James Carter, this fine Sunday morning. . .



That saxophone had to be smokin' by the end of this solo. Does anyone know the name of the gentleman to James' right? (looks like Phil Woods, possibly) Watch the video twice, but keep an eye on that man the second time. His reactions to the solo are very entertaining.



Coming April 5th - ANOTHER SHOT
by Ray Jozwiak

Saturday, April 2, 2011

More money. . .

. . . issues. (Root of all evil? Maybe not ALL, but MANY!)

The Wall Street Journal ran an article last week about why it's a 'BAD IDEA' to tax wealthier folks at a higher rate.

A former economic forecaster for California, said that the state was overdependent on its wealthier citizens. Upon encountering a group protesting state spending cuts whose signs said "We Love Jobs!", this forecaster thinks THEY are missing the real problem. California, he says, depends upon the top 1% of 'earners' (important choice of words on his part, don't you think?) for almost half of its income tax revenue. That's the guys making more than $490,000 per year.

But do you know why this forecaster thinks that's a PROBLEM???? It's because theses unfortunate 'earners' have "especially volatile incomes." They are the state's most unstable income group, according to this financial wiz. (Such a sad story, isn't it????)
He further 'justifies' his argument by stating that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois being the states most heavily reliant on taxes from the rich are now among those with the biggest budget holes.

The top federal tax rate—which applies to joint filers reporting $379,000 in taxable income—is still twice as high as the rate for joint filers reporting income of $69,000 or less. But alas, as they've grown, the incomes of the wealthy have become more unstable. That unconscionable growth of income, read GREED, is how we got into this economic mess in the first place. Between 2007 and 2008, the incomes of the top-earning 1% fell 16%, compared to a decline of 4% for U.S. earners as a whole. But they didn't tell us about the rise on the other side of the 'mountain.' As they've grown, the incomes of the wealthy have become more unstable. (I think I'm gonna cry!) Because today's highest salaries are usually linked to financial markets—through stock-based pay or investments—they are more prone to sudden shocks. Again, I think our problem here is obvious and this 'street' dog is barking up the wrong tree.

Many republicans advocate a flat tax in California to reduce volatility and keep high-earners from leaving the state. Instead of a steeply disproportionate income tax rate, a flatter, broader tax rate would help stabilize the most volatile of California's revenues, they say. The other camp says, and I think rightly, that the volatility problem can be solved by making sure citizens are fully employed and decently paid. Progressive tax systems are the best way to equalize the rising riches at the top and rising poverty at the bottom. Flattening the tax system only adds to income inequality.

So in short, the Wall Streeters and conservatives would prefer a different system. . . tax the poor people whose incomes (if they have incomes) are not as 'volatile' as the rich people and, VOILA!!! Problem solved.

Is it me or is something wrong with that picture??????????



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Coming April 5th - ANOTHER SHOT
by Ray Jozwiak

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rambling. . .

. . . about everything

It's supposed to rain all day and if the day looks anything like yesterday, it's going to be an awful, depressingly, gloomy affair through which it will be difficult to stay awake and soberly engaged in a professional capacity. Gaddafi is saying that western leaders should resign, not he. Strange dude, man. I always thought the actor Stewart Margolin bore a resemblance to Gaddafi. He's the guy that appeared on the Rockford Files in the 70s with James Garner, as the character Angel. I think he should be cast as the Libyan leader should anyone decide to make a movie about that troubled North African nation. My wife asked if I might be interested in seeing the stage production of the Addams Family, prospect of which I have been, up until this point, somewhat lukewarm. She left a browser open on the laptop last night that involved the current touring production of that show and I must say, I was attracted. Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth (who are in it on Broadway) are quite funny in the scenes I watched. Of course, as usual with me, when pondering the prospect of a remake of something from my childhood, I search YouTube to watch the old versions. Wish Nathan and Bebe were in the touring company. And, as quite often occurs, I find that the original is really not quite as wonderful as my perception would have me believe. The Addams Family printed cartoons, of course, the exception to this rule. The television show, case in point. I love John Astin and Carolyn Jones and Jackie Coogan. Somehow, the YouTube episode I briefly viewed moved at a fast and jerky pace, at least faster and jerkier than I remember, making it look like an old silent movie WITH sound- if THAT makes any sense. And the laugh track, as all laugh tracks, was hideous. I fell asleep before I could look at clips from the movies with Raul Julia and Angelica Huston. I KNOW they're great though. I'm thinking about my music and ANOTHER SHOT and how difficult marketing what I do actually is. As Capt. John Quincy Taggert says in Galaxy Quest - NEVER GIVE UP!. . . but I think it's time to give up this blog for now.



Coming April 5th - ANOTHER SHOT
by Ray Jozwiak