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Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'd like to say. . .

. . . that for me, the process of writing songs is an easy, breezy, joy of an experience where wonderfully clever lyrics flow effortless out from my brain accompanied by lilting, melodic symphonies both pleasing to the ear and timeless in their universal appeal.

I'd LIKE to say that. The truth is that, for me, songwriting is usually (or should I say- unusually) hard work. Very rarely does a song simply occur to me, fully formed and (in my opinion) wonderful. As a matter of fact, a simple 'hook' fully formed itself occurs periodically at best. I usually have to have either a melody, a concept, a rhythm, or even a 'groove' from another song in my mind before I can even start beginning to start to commence constructing a song at all. The best place for me to begin is with a concept (a lost love, a social injustice, or a stupid human foible, for examples) AND a rhythm or style (three/four jazz, slow rocker, New Orleans funk, for examples) to really get the ball rolling.

But when it's all over, and I like what I've produced, and it tells a story or makes a point, that's one of the most exhilarating sensations in existence. And sometimes, even when the song is okay, not 'Billboard top five with a bullet' wonderful yet not really quite bad, I still feel a certain satisfaction resulting from my efforts, I've flexed my creative 'muscle' and I have practiced my craft to the extent that I am ready to move along and create more. That's how I know that this is what I should be doing. Billy Joel once said, when asked which of his original songs he thought was best, that all of the songs that he created are his children. He doesn't really love one more than another because they're ALL his very own.



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Here I am. . .

. . . at the beach. . . for a week. Man, do I need it.

Talking with a nice lady about the Independent Music Network's August Radio Special while at the beach. Not sure about the details but I sure hope I can be on it, or at least my music can.

The drive was good and though I am not an 'endurance' driver, I made the complete drive with our regular (at least last and this year) stops at some New Jersey wineries enroute ("en" the LONG "route", mind you) to our beach destination. We rent a condo in a 'moderate-rise' (8 stories isn't really high, is it?) and have been able to arrive directly at the complex for the keys, and forego the stop at the realtor's office to pick-up the rules, promotional material a bottle of water and a pat on the back, obtaining the keys from the condo office upon arrival after that. But THIS year, since we forgot to bring along the paperwork received in the mail from the realtor, we MISSED a big change. You're now supposed to pick-up your KEYS at you required stop at the realtor's office. We found this out from a competitor realtor who had their pickup setup righth there at the condo and who were no very 'Sweet' or sympathetic about our situation. Easy/simple though, a short ride back up the road to the realtor produced the keys (the rules, promotional material a bottle of water and a pat on the back) and some extra sympathy for the lack of it offered by their competitor. Problem solved!

Or so we thought. Four armloads of luggage/stuff and five flights up in a slow elevator, we find that not one, but both of the keys to the condo DO NOT WORK. Telephone calls, building supers, locksmith talk, news of news tumblers LATER, (about a 45 minute ordeal) we're in!

Ah, vacation. A puzzle, a laptop, a martini and a Jim Beam Black later, it seems like nothing ever happened. Kind of like. . . summer camp.



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Friday, July 29, 2011

I did not intend. . .

. . . for this to become a chronological revisitation of my indoctrination into the school of Zappa, but I must go on a bit.

From the irreverent, unconventional, iconoclastic ’Freak Out!’ I moved onto ‘Just Another Band from LA’, which was also (ironically?) IRREVERENT, UNCONVENTIONAL and ICONOCLASTIC. I remember listening to it, where I listened to all my music, (played in all it’s glorious, vinyl, hi-fidelity on a Westinghouse, console record-player – NO, it wasn’t even stereo – that we inherited from my Grandmother) in the basement, my forerunner to what is now called a man-cave, though mine was more of a musical, adolescent-cave, keeping a watchful ear on the door at the top of the stairway just in case one of my parents should happen to wander down and catch some of the colorful language on the record. [‘Freak Out!’, by the way, contained no objectionable language whatsoever!] And since some of the language was indeed so colorful, I will not post an audio or video clip of any pieces from J.A.B.F.L.A. here, in this family-friendly, [and I am serious, I was all about decorum when raising my children (there is time enough for them to learn those things elsewhere)] blog.

So just to take my education a step further, after J.A.B.F.L.A., and to be able to post a family-friendly excerpt here, I must tell you that I purchased THE GRAND WAZOO which was like something COMPLETELY different from what I had been listening to by Frank. It was ethereal. It was spooky. It was jazzy. It was intoxicating and it was addictive. It was. . .



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The more I listened. . .

. . . the more I heard. From Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears' sophisticated, jazz-inflected arrangements, I branched out, under the influence of newly-gained high school buddies. Now I was listening to Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and then in 10th grade, with the help of Steph, (Stephen being his full name) I came upon that musical marvel they call Zappa. Frank Zappa. Steph highly recommended the Freak Out! album. Of that release, Wikipedia says:

"Freak Out! is the debut album by American band The Mothers of Invention, released June 27, 1966 on Verve Records. Often cited as one of rock music's first concept albums, the album is a satirical expression of frontman Frank Zappa's perception of American pop culture. It was also one of the earliest double albums in rock music (although Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde preceded it by a week), and the first 2-record debut. In the UK the album was originally released as a single disc.

The album was produced by Tom Wilson, who signed The Mothers, formerly a bar band called the Soul Giants. Zappa said many years later that Wilson signed the group to a record deal in the belief that they were a white blues band.[1][2] The album features vocalist Ray Collins, along with bass player Roy Estrada, drummer Jimmy Carl Black and guitar player Elliot Ingber, who would later join Captain Beefheart's Magic Band under the name Winged Eel Fingerling.[3][4]

The band's original repertoire consisted of rhythm and blues covers; though after Zappa joined the band he encouraged them to play his own original material, and the name was changed to The Mothers.[5] The musical content of Freak Out! ranges from rhythm and blues, doo-wop and standard blues-influenced rock to orchestral arrangements and avant-garde sound collages. Although the album was initially poorly received in the United States, it was a success in Europe. It gained a cult following in America, where it continued to sell in substantial quantities until it was prematurely discontinued in the early 1970s."

So by the time Steph, and me by association, discovered that magical music of Freak Out!, it was only about seven years old, and Zappa, a mere musical infant. I call it magical, but I believe Frank only improved with age and no matter what he created, or would have created if not for his untimely death in 1993, it would have been interesting, challenging and musical. Freak Out! was, in retrospect, more an attraction to my peers for its unconventionality than any true musical innovation. But clearly, this man Frank Zappa was one musician to watch, or should I say. . . Listen!




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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Melancholy. . .

It's a melancholy world when you can't tell the stones from the pearls. You can't imagine what my motives are or what I'm feeling. But the lights are bright on Broadway. And the birds begin to sing as America pours her first cup of coffee. It's a melancholy world.

It's a melancholy world when either it's the big brass ring or the girl. I just can't seem to hold on to the dreams I've worked so hard for. And the crowd is there at midnight where the party's just begun. There's a gold invitation that bears my name but it's gotten lost in the mail.

The mirror holds the same old dour reflection that is used to. And the sun will rise in the morning and the stars will light the night. If they just took the time, listened to my sad song. It's a melancholy world.

MELANCHOLY WORLD
©1994, 2003 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Did I hear correctly? . . .

. . . Yes, she really said this. Really!

"I'd like to be abundantly clear: My ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as commander-in-chief. . ."

Let me get this straight, she intends to serve as commander-in-chief as INEFFECTIVELY as possible. . . or do we have a 'FAIL-YAH TO COMMUNICATE' heeee-yahhh!?





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Monday, July 25, 2011

“Where there is much desire to learn. . .

. . . there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”
-John Milton

The president urged a "balanced approach" in his Monday night speech. He pushed for the two parties to work out an acceptable deal, and called for Americans to demand that their congressional representatives put aside short-term politics to reach a compromise. He also said, ". . . We can't allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington's political warfare. . . "; '. . .stop-gap deal would only mean the Republicans returning again next year to use the same tactics to seek more cutbacks. . . '; "The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government"; "History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed. But those are not the Americans we remember. We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good."

Milton didn't highlight it, but one word should out in the quote: “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in GOOD men is but knowledge in the making.

Mr. Boehner said that he, "made a sincere effort"; "I gave it my all,"; "I didn't want 'mano-a-mano' with Obama" (he was overheard to say on his way out of the building); "Obama created the "crisis" atmosphere". Of Mr. Obama's call for a "balanced" approach in the debt limit deal - one that includes both spending cuts and revenue increases - Boehner said it amounts to Washington-speak for "we spend more, you pay more." The Sacramento Bee said, "In his response to Obama's televised address to the nation, Boehner gave no indication of compromise."

Have YOU decided where YOU stand?



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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The originator. . .

. . . of the tune, IMPRESSIONS.

Had to post the violin version of IMPRESSIONS on yesterday's blog based upon the last quote from John Coltrane that I listed on the page. But if you're a Coltrane fan, once you hear the tune played by anyone anywhere, you like to go back and hear it done by its creator. At least I do.



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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quotes from Trane. . .

. . . John Coltrane, that is. Forty fours years gone, last week. . .

“I never even thought about whether or not they understand what I'm doing . . . the emotional reaction is all that matters as long as there's some feeling of communication, it isn't necessary that it be understood.”

“All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws.”

“Over all, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe. . . That’s what I would like to do. I think that’s one of the greatest things you can do in life and we all try to do it in some way. The musician’s is through his music.”

“You can play a shoestring if you're sincere”

“I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.”

“Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music for the first time, as if I had never heard it before. Being so inescapably a part of it, I’ll never know what the listener gets, what the listener feels, and that’s too bad.”

"My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being...When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups...I want to speak to their souls."

"I start in the middle of a sentence and move both directions at once."

“The first violins have the most interesting part.”



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Friday, July 22, 2011

Two things. . .

. . . First: who, in their right mind, ever thought that lip-synching was a good idea??? (See my entry of July 22) I'm sure Don Cornelius saved a WHOLE lotta money by having artists do that on Soul Train though.

Second: What did I mean by "(HA!)" in my entry of July 22? (See my entry of July 22)

". . .Sometimes, I'm not sure I know what I'm doing. Sometimes it all seems futile. These results were somewhat gratifying though. I think maybe I'll try it a little longer. (HA!). . . "

((as a matter of fact, please see ALL my entries. . . PLEASE!!!)) Well, what I meant was to mock the prior remark about continuing to do what it is that I am doing musically. The "HA!" simply means that it would be absolutely outrageous to even consider NOT doing what I am doing musically. It's no longer something that I choose to do. It now has a life of its own and I don't think I could stop it EVEN IF I WANTED TO.



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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The blatant truth. . .

. . . Make no bones about it, I am here mainly to try to get you to listen to, and purchase, my music in some form, or fashion. Don't take that the wrong way. I like you. If you're reading this, as a matter of fact, I like you quite a bit. So I do try to be somewhat entertaining and/or informative. Although I write something here everyday, I still toil constantly at, first: creating music, and second: trying to place my name and music in front of as many people as I can, and in keeping with my generally lazy nature, as simply and easily as I can.

One of the tactics, for lack of a better word, of getting one's name in the public eye, is to be listed at the top of the list when searched for on Google. So I did some 'research'. Using various search words, I logged where my site appears on the Google list that is returned.

Searching Ray
My site appears at position #10

Gonzo
#12

Jozwiak
#1 (no surprise)

Creative
#12

Original
#11

Eclectic
#15

Sometimes, I'm not sure I know what I'm doing. Sometimes it all seems futile. These results were somewhat gratifying though. I think maybe I'll try it a little longer. (HA!) Why am I doing this anyway?



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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Incongruous. . .

. . . In the midst of responding to a FaceBook posting, I had the occasion to research the spelling of the word 'incongruous'. And it got me to thinking about just how many things we must encounter, juggle, balance and reconcile during the course of a day; so many of which, although seemingly related, are quite INCONGRUOUS. Zappa always had a 'word of the day' at his concerts, generally related to something on his mind or a theme tying the songs in the setlist together, but always a word of the day. Kind of like Sesame Street. Zappa. . . Sesame Street. . . both educational to be sure.

Incongruous. . .



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Just wait until. . .

. . . I always hated when people said such things. I didn't hate the people who said them. They were mostly well-intentioned, though a little outspoken, friends, relatives or acquaintances who were only speaking from their experience for the 'proverbial' betterment of my life.

. . . your kids grow up. . .
. . . you're my age. . .
. . . you have a house. . .
. . . you realize. . .
. . . THAT happens. . .

. . . well, you get the picture. It always seemed, good intentions notwithstanding, a certain bias resulting from each of these well-wishers' individual experiences, was clearly evident. And in many of these cases, the result of which they spoke, which colored their entire perception of the incident, came about through some influence, or lack of influence on their very own part. Sometimes, though I was biting my tongue out of respect for the advice-giver of the moment, I thought to myself, that will never happen to me, because I will . . . (insert the thing that you do, did or will do differently from them).

Which reminds me also of how so many of us, hopefully YOU will not have many occasions to say this, wish that they 'knew then what they know now.' One of our 'shop' teachers in high school would stand in the hallway outside his classroom door between classes and mumble to whomever he was casually conversing, as some particularly attractive 16 or 17-year old coed strolled down the corridor, 'Ah, to be sixteen again and know what I know now!'

Well here's a situation where such reflections actually DID matter. . .

On the last day of Pompeii
Thought I heard some poor boy say
Oh wow man if I knew then what I know now
I would've done more been more than I been
Had fun more sinned more mortal sin
Oh wow
If I knew then what I know now
I would've sent back that steak that was so overdone
Grabbed that big break while there was time time time
Made my life into a fantasy
Hot stuff for me to remember remember
And now that I'm a goner
All that lava rushin' 'round the corner
Oh wow I ain't complainin' only thinkin out loud
You know that my life would be different my love would be different
If I knew then what I know now
My life would be different my love would be different
If I knew then what I know now

On the last day of Pompeii
Thought I heard some poor girl say
Oh wow man if I knew then what I know now
I could've taken up the slide trombone
Had a garden and grew my own
Oh wow man
If I knew then what I know now
I knew I should've taken that Mediterranean cruise
Filled up on chocolate cigarettes and booze
Given some perfect stranger the blues
Hot stuff for me, all that stuff, speakin of hot stuff
And when Vesuvio came to call
Arrivaderci I'd've had a ball [I'd've had it all]
Oh wow man
I ain't complainin' only thinkin' out loud
You know that my life would be different my love would be different
If I knew then what I know now
My life would be different my love would be different
If I knew then what I know now

My life would be -- man, my wife would be --
If I knew then what I know now
Ciao

THE LAST DAY OF POMPEII
by Michael Peter Smith




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This is where. . .

. . . the Brewer's Alley Monday Night Songwriters Showcase takes place. . .

". . . It was in 1725 that Benjamin Tasker patented "Tasker's Chance" - the first of many land speculators in the area. Daniel Dulany laid out the new town hoping to develop a center of trade and a market for goods imported from England. It was not difficult to recruit families in Europe willing to try their luck in a new land.

John Thomas Schley arrived in Frederick Town in 1745 with a group of 100 settlers and built the first house here. Others quickly followed and the town prospered. From the beginning religion played a large part in the life of the town, and three churches, the Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed (founded by Schley) were firmly established. It was not long before temporary housing gave way to more permanent buildings, and businesses serving the citizens were established. The County of Frederick was founded in 1748."

". . . The building (at 124 North Market Street) was raised in 1769 to accommodate Frederick’s first Town Hall and Market House. It served its purpose for more than 100 years and was witness not only to the birth of the city of Frederick, but also the Civil War, including the ransoming of the city by Confederate General Jubal Early. As Frederick grew and prospered into the 20th century, the location functioned as government offices, then an opera house and theatre. Here, such diverse events as a memorial service for President McKinley in 1901, and the Frederick debut of D.W. Griffith’s film, "The Birth of a Nation," were hosted."

As a matter of fact, the very room where the showcase takes place is the mayor's office where the ransom money actually changed hands.


(Thanks to http://www.cityoffrederick.com and Wikipedia)


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Monday, July 18, 2011

The media and the message. . .

. . . do not always arrive in optimal fashion. The news media, in particular, have evolved over the past thirty years, but not necessarily for the better. And our 'leaders', well, they're even worse. (Fortunately, our current president is head and shoulders above his predecessor in this regard. We do, however, need a better class of 'leaders', in general.)

First, the media. . .
From "America- Our Next Chapter" by Chuck Hagel, Republican (yes, Republican) Senator from Nebraska. . .
"Right alongside them (legislators), kind of like backup singers in a rock group, we have the pundits. They are supposed to be sage fonts of political wisdom; just ask them. When they are not shouting at one another, they are little more than partisan mouthpieces who have learned their talking points by rote. Collectively these "chattering classes" create a hostile, venomous atmosphere, raising the temperature until any politician with a sense of moderation and balance risks appearing as a wimp next to these high-octane blowhards. But reasonableness doesn't push ratings and low ratings hurt the bottom line of the media corporations.

Then, the message. . .
Again, from "America- Our Next Chapter" by Chuck Hagel, Republican (yes, Republican) Senator from Nebraska. . .
"America has always gravitated toward leaders who talk straight, who refuse to constantly calibrate their responses based on the advice of political handlers, polling, and focus groups. Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan were leaders who simply and straightforwardly spoke the facts as they saw them. . . We need leaders who can articulate a vision of where we want to take this nation and then lead us there; honest, competent, accountable leadership is what has always mattered most."



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Sunday, July 17, 2011

That much. . .

"Whenever you call me and I'm not on the phone; if you have a problem and you find me at home; you know you can count on me that much. If you say you need me; just a couple days, I'm there. I'll drop what I'm doing if it's something I don't care about. You can count on me that much.

Ours is just like one of those fairytales. Ours is just like one of those shows. One thing 'bout our love that's different, it's not the kind that grows.

I'll always be with you when there's nothing else to do. When everyone's busy, there'll be only me and you. It's clear you can count on me that much.

Would you say it's all you've been hoping for? Would you really prefer something new? Where else could you get this much attention devoted to you?

So don't think you're not special. You're kind of special to me. There's no one else like you. Well, maybe there's just two or three. But be sure you can count on me that much.


THAT MUCH (from CHROMATOSE)
©2003 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Saturday, July 16, 2011

I can't help it. . .

. . . I just want to. . . PLAY!

Have you ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail? It's a hilarious spoof from the early 70's starring, written, directed, produced, conceived and whatever-else-you-can-think-of by Monty Python's Flying Circus (Michael Palin [no relation to you-know-who], John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and the late Graham Chapman) of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table mythology and their quest for the Holy Grail. There is a scene where a wealthy landowner has a son that he keeps sequestered in a tower as a result of his embarrassment. The son, who obviously does not measure up to the father's expectations of what a son should be, frequently states his ambition to SING! . . . at which time the father addresses the camera and puts the kabosh on the music swell that begins each time the son mentions his intention, and we hear the music die as if a turntable was switched off in the middle of the music.

Well, the piano is that way for me, like the son's burning desire to SING. What I mean is, I well understand the son's desire to SING! When I am creating music at the piano, I am taken away from all that is earthly. (Getting heavy here.) But seriously, music somehow has the ability to make me transcend my mortal circumstances and somehow soar to a place that's difficult to describe, but one that I like to visit frequently. The only (musical) thing better than that is doing the very same thing in front of an audience of people who are actually listening and apparently, somehow, moved also. (Hellava thing!)

This Monday Night, I will again appear at the Songwriters Showcase at Brewer's Alley Restaurant & Brewery in Frederick.
(124 North Market Street, Telephone: 301-631-0089, http://www.brewers-alley.com/) where I intend to impose Fractured Jazz and Improvisational Terror Tactics on the audience, much like this. . .



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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shame. . .

. . . our representatives appear to have failed us. Journalist from both sides of the camp weighed in. . .

Huffington Post. . .
One of the most-respected and economically intelligent publications in the world, The Economist, has turned against the Republican party for its disgraceful behavior with respect to the US debt-ceiling negotiations. The Republicans, the Economist points out, would rather disrupt the US economy and put the country into default than compromise on a long-term deficit and debt reduction plan. This behavior is an abdication of the Republicans' responsibilities as elected officials. It puts the Republicans' self-interest ahead of the country's. The Republicans' stance on the debt-ceiling has now gone so far, in fact, that the Republicans appear to be trying to disrupt the economy in order to improve their chances in the next elections, rather than address an economic crisis that threatens to affect millions of Americans. This is not practical or responsible. It's also not patriotic. It's traitorous.

Business Insider. . .
Finally, someone in Washington DC is taking a sensible approach to the US's massive debt and deficit crisis: President Obama. The Republicans continue to stick to their ludicrous plan to fix our problems by slashing spending immediately and raising no additional revenue. Over the long haul, spending does need to be cut, but slashing it suddenly will deliver a hammer blow to an already frail economy. The country will plunge back into recession, unemployment will soar, and--importantly from a budget perspective--government revenues will drop. The latter outcome, which we're seeing in Greece, the UK, and other countries that have tried "austerity" as a solution, will defeat the whole purpose of trying to balance the budget by cutting spending.

The National Review. . .
"Reagan may have resisted calls for tax increases, but he ultimately supported them. In 1982 alone, he signed into law not one but two major tax increases. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year and the Highway Revenue Act raised the gasoline tax by another $3.3 billion. According to a recent Treasury Department study, TEFRA alone raised taxes by almost 1 percent of the gross domestic product, making it the largest peacetime tax increase in American history. An increase of similar magnitude today would raise more than $100 billion per year. In 1983, Reagan signed legislation raising the Social Security tax rate. This is a tax increase that lives with us still, since it initiated automatic increases in the taxable wage base. As a consequence, those with moderately high earnings see their payroll taxes rise every single year.
In 1984, Reagan signed another big tax increase in the Deficit Reduction Act. This raised taxes by $18 billion per year or 0.4 percent of GDP. A similar-sized tax increase today would be about $44 billion. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 raised taxes yet again. Even the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was designed to be revenue-neutral, contained a net tax increase in its first 2 years.

MediaMatters for America, County Fair. . .
From Will Bunch, author of, “Tear Down This Myth:
The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy,” 2009
What the American people have been news-fed instead has been an ideology loosely based on Reagan, called Reaganism – a notion that has led to the Tea Party’s hatred of anything involving government and the bogus ideas that taxes can only be cut or that diplomacy with America’s rivals is for wimps. With each passing election, more and more of the electorate is too young to have remembered or experienced the real Ronald Reagan, yet are searching for an idealized president based on these right-wing perpetrated fallacies. Many of the worst aspects of the George W. Bush presidency – more tax cuts for the rich, soaring deficits, and “axis of evil” bluster – were rooted in this legend of a man who wasn’t there.




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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The apple doesn't fall. . .

. . . far from the tree.

from Factcheck.org. . .

". . . Liz (daughter of former U.S. Non-Apologetic, Vice Torture-Monger & Marksman, Dick Cheney) Cheney's group quotes U.S. military leaders out of context to attack President Obama's Afghanistan policy. Keep America Safe, which is headed by the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is airing a TV ad that uses brief video clips of congressional testimony given by Gen. David Petraeus and Adm. Mike Mullen to support its claim that Obama's plan to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan will put U.S. soldiers at greater risk. It's true that both military leaders recommended maintaining higher troop levels. But they supported the president's decision, and their full congressional testimony shows they believe the risk is manageable and won't jeopardize the mission.

The title of the ad — "More Risk" — comes from Mullen's testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on June 23. Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, was asked about the president's decision to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer, including 10,000 of them by the end of this year. The ad quotes Mullen as saying, "It was more aggressive and it has more risk than I recommended." But the full context of his remarks shows that Mullen also said the plan is "well within reason."

Mullen, June 23: I think it’s well within reason for us to be able to do this. As I said in my opening statement, it was more aggressive and it has more risk than, you know, I was originally prepared to — than I — than I recommended. That said, in totality, it’s within the ability to sustain the mission, focus on the objectives and execute. "



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Slowly. . .

. . . my musical development moved closer to the area in which my peers were located. My love for Chicago (Transit Authority) and some of the 'pop' favs at the time (I listened to the radio and was exposed to such delights as KNOCK THREE TIMES by Tony Orlando and Dawn - which I openly admitted to enjoying [how UNCOOL!]), along with my musical appetite, tastes and scope continued to grow. So now, I wasn't a total freak for being a fan of Sonny James and Charles Magnante because I also like Jethro Tull and Three Dog Night.

My good friend Joe, now being of driving age, was more involved with cars than his old American Flyer. He wasn't a mechanic though. He was enamored with the aesthetics, internal and external, of the automobile with his favorites being those manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation. And if one is an afficionado of the sleek lines and contours of the fine, automotive form, what better way to enjoy it than with some. . . MUSIC?!

Joe was a fiend when it came to high-end sound in his cars. The more speakers, Joe theorized, the better the sound. (Joe's Mother once joked that Joe should install two-way speakers in the car seats so that if someone broke wind, everyone else in the car could hear it.) The source of all this wonderful aural confection was an 8-track tape player. And the sounds Joe liked to pump through those speakers included Rare Earth; Blood Sweat & Tears, The Ides of March and Neil Diamond. And just about one, short city block away from Joe, my buddies Michael and Gus were grooving (although in not-nearly as high fidelity as Joe) to Tull, Bloodrock, (more) Chicago and some Jesus Christ Superstar thrown in.



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Monday, July 11, 2011

You never want to hear. . .

. . . another word from me again. Never wanna have to see my face at your door. If there's so much as the mention of my name, you can feel an uncontrollable fit of pain. I'm the one that you said you would love til the bitter end. This must really be, this must really be the end. Nothing could be fitter. This must really be, this must really be the end. Make no mistake, it's bitter.

You never want us to be seen again in public places. Can't explain it to another friend how it goes. You say there's torment that you feel inside from many things. I can tell you that I still don't know what that means. Long ago we were friends far removed from the bitter end. This must really be, this must really be the end. Nothing could be fitter. This must really be, this must really be the end. Make no mistake, it's bitter.

There's no candy coating to make it go down easier; not so simple to digest; no bright colors and no exotic flavors sweetening.
What you see is what you get.

You never want to have to hear a word from me again. If there's so much as the mention of my name, you can feel an uncontrollable fit of pain. With one fell swoop you sent me direct to the bitter end. This must really be, this must really be the end. Nothing could be fitter. This must really be, this must really be the end. Make no mistake, it's bitter.


THE BITTER END from "Chromatose"
©2003 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Will somebody. . .

. . . please bitchslap house speaker John Boehner and explain to him the theory behind the term 'balance'?

From Carla Fried
The Daily Money July 6th. . .
"When the Joe Biden-led negotiations broke down. . . it was reportedly due in part to the Republicans’ refusal to accept a deficit reduction plan that generated about 80 percent of savings through spending cuts and 20 percent through increased tax revenue. That’s 80-20, not 50-50.

if you tax capital gains at ordinary income tax rates, higher-income folks will probably think twice about realizing gains. But at a time when the rhetoric and politics are flying over how to deal with the deficit, it’s important to recognize that federal spending isn’t simply a function of what we appropriate to various programs. It’s also what is spent on all the tax breaks embedded in the tax code. Without raising income tax rates, trimming some tax expenditures is one more way we could address the deficit."





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Sunday, July 10, 2011

An honest candidate. . .

. . . is an educated candidate, who desires to SERVE her/his constituency. . . so I conclude there's no need to worry about this candidate becoming president. IS THERE????

On Republican candidate Michele Bachmann, factcheck.org reported:

"Bachmann falsely claimed that she and her husband "have never gotten a penny" from a family farm that received federal subsidies. But she reported income from the farm in 2006, 2008 and 2009 — the most recent year available — on her congressional financial disclosure statements.

She claimed she had been "faithful" to her pledge not to request federal earmarks. But she requested $40 million in transportation earmarks in the 2009 fiscal year budget after taking the pledge, later claiming such projects should not be subjected to her promise. She withdrew her requests after the House Republicans took a party position in 2010 not to seek earmarks.

Bachmann wrongly blamed President Obama for increasing the number of federal transportation workers who earn more than $170,000 from one to 1,690 during the recession. At least two-thirds of those employees were receiving more than $170,000 before Obama took office.

She criticized the president for a 73 percent increase in government "limousines." But one department accounted for the increase, and it had a long-term plan, pre-dating Obama, to add armored vehicles. The term "limousine" includes armored vehicles and sedans, not just actual limos.

She claimed government money received by her husband's counseling clinics did not benefit the business, because the funds paid for employee training. It's true the clinics received $24,041 for training, but the business received thousands more in government funds, including money for treating crime victims.

The three-term congresswoman repeated — on two Sunday shows — the false claim that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the federal health care law will "cost the economy 800,000 jobs." The CBO never said that. It said there will be a "small" impact on jobs."




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Saturday, July 9, 2011

You are. . .

. . . the company you keep.

Keeping company on a beautiful day, playing India Arie's IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY with some of the best company I know.




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Friday, July 8, 2011

There was a time. . .

. . . when I had hoped to be a journalist.

That's right, a journalist. Possibly writing for a newspaper or magazine or another media outlet of some iteration. Of course, fate would not have it and I am what I am. My awareness of, and level of emotional involvement in, certain social and political issues, has changed (read increased) with the years. Like my journalism professor in college, and many bright and better-read peers of mine who criticized the media (which has evolved drastically since then) for various transgressions of which I, at the time, gave very little thought, I now see, more clearly every day, how the media, primarily the news media, fail us each and every day.

Take, for example, my 'beloved' Baltimore Sun, who printed these little gems the other day following violence at the Baltimore Inner Harbor 4th of July celebration. . .

"Child shot at harbor says he would punch gunman in the face
Police still seeking person who fired random shot after fireworks
A stick-on bandage is the only thing covering Kavin Benson's dime-size bullet wound.
It hasn't stopped the rambunctious 4-year-old, who was shot moments after the July 4 fireworks ended at the Inner Harbor, from dancing, jumping and climbing all over his family's Brooklyn apartment. And it hasn't stopped the child, sporting a red T-shirt and Dr. Seuss shoes, from seeking revenge. . ."

and. . .
"Calo, of Opelika, Ala., got into a shoving match with a group of men, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Tuesday. Calo "re-engaged" the suspect later and was stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle, he said.
"He was a really good father, and we miss him," Reilly said. "There's a little girl that's going to grow up without a father because someone felt the need to be big and tough and use a deadly weapon instead of his fists like a real man."'

No doubt the latter is a tragedy, the former an unsettling coincidence. And whoever thought shooting a firearm in a crowd of thousands in celebration of Independence Day was a good idea could certainly use some education and possibly rehabilitation. But what bothers me are the 'revenge' statements (I'm not so sure the kid wouldn't use a firearm for THAT if he could get his hands on one [too many Mel Gibson movies?]) and the "instead of [using] his fists like a real man" quote, after all (pertaining to the latter) the victim did "re-engage" the suspect after the initial 'shoving' encounter.

I take four lessons from these 4th of July tragedies:
** LET'S BE CIVIL
Some people are dumber than others. Revenge won't make them smart. In fact, calling for revenge in such a case places
us on a comparable level with the perpretrator.
** DON'T RE-ENGAGE
This act is the non-vehicular equivalent of Road-Rage. Let it go, man. And there's no need to fight "like a man" or
a woman or a child for that matter.
** DON'T READ THE NEWSPAPER
Or at least don't let it scare you unnecessarily. The Baltimore Sun claims now that Baltimore isn't as dangerous as some
people perceive it to be, but they are your outlet of choice to read about every crime, no matter how small, petty or
'inbred' , in order to make you think that 'this could happen to you.'
** LET'S PLAY SOME MUSIC. . .



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Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's magic. . .

. . . when the music takes you directly, authentically and effortlessly AWAY.

A haunting, angelic voice capable of moving you to tears with a whisper before whisking you away to a smokey bar amid screams and shouts. And a band that fills in every gap with breathtaking color and nutritionally and emotionally satisfying musical sustenance while providing freight-train unstoppable rhythm and heavenly ambience.

I actually witnessed this in action last night. Music is, without a doubt, MAGIC. These magicians demonstrated their expertise and then some. . .



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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Gumbo, of sorts. . .

Anyone who was into popular music in the 1970s is aware of the groups, bands and artists who were affected by country and/or southern influences: the Eagles; Poco; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Sacco and Vanzetti-as the Wonderful WINO DJ played by George Carlin would say), the Band; the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; the Amazing Rhythm Aces; the Charlie Daniels Band; Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show and many others. Funny, I can now appreciate much of the music by all these bands, but like the early jazz critics who said that what Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were playing was NOISE, I was a country purist. I loved my Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Roy Clark, George Jones, Tammy Wynette and Johnny Cash unadulterated. I didn't want any 'rock' mixed in with my pure, precious country music. Of course, country influenced rock, Cajun funk and swamp was into country, rock was into New Orleans. . . well you get the picture. And although maybe I just wasn't sophisticated enough to 'get it' at the time, I sure do get it now. And I love it.




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The roar of the crowd. . .

My friend Joe, he of the red American flyer 26-inch bicycle (it was more an extension of his being than a mere bicycle) and I played electric guitar and accordion arrangements of songs by Peter, Paul and Mary, Buck Owens, Buddy Holly (yes, Buddy Holly's music was in there too), and a number of other 'fake book' songs. Our repertoire included Pack Up Your Sorrows, The King of Names, On a Desert Island, I'm In Love With A Big Blue Frog, Sam's Place, Buckaroo, Tall Dark Stranger, Love's Gonna Live Here, My Heart Skips a Beat, I've Got A Tiger By The Tail, Black Texas Dirt, Baby Elephant Walk, Tijuana Taxi, Spanish Flea, Third Man Theme, Zorba The Greek, Solitary Man and Love Is Strange.

We even entered a 'talent show', which I don't recall was actually a competition or simply a variety show, organized by our local Catholic church, to which we both belonged by benefit of our families. And since I don't remember that, I certainly don't remember whether or not we won anything. But it didn't matter. We got to play the music we loved in front of an appreciative crowd. It doesn't get any better than that.


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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Don't take your guns. . .

. . . to space

You were always a crack-shot. You were always the ace. Someone called you a crackpot. Said it right to your face. It was not the effrontery that made you react; the assault or the violation of rights. In this wonderful country, you and I live today. And we value the freedom that allows us to say, though the founders had principles (this can't be denied), nothing's frozen in time but history. Who can really sing 'bout what the future brings? Take the next shuttle, go off to your condo on Mars. Don't take your guns to space. They've done sufficient damage to this place. Don't take your guns to space.

It's a volatile topic I'm addressing today. But I fear to ignore it leaves for us hell to pay. All the hunters and gatherers kick up such a stink. Where this path's gonna lead they dare not think. We continue to venture into places unknown. All this knowledge and progress takes us so far from home. Many say that you must accept the good with the bad. Seems to me that experience would show some things from the past just don't deserve to last. Take that next step and leave all useless baggage behind. Don't take your guns to space. They've done sufficient damage to this place. Don't take your guns to space.

Our sophistication in the arts and sciences can't be denied. Still we choose our tribal ways when there's fear and uncertainty and we can't hide. It's true and tried.

But you still fail to grasp it, like some new cosmic star. Using force laced with habit, you're resisting so hard. You say you got the word from some king high on his throne. But mysteriously each word he speaks in that kingly tone, mighty but all alone, uncannily somehow sounds just like all of your own. Don't take your guns to space. They've done sufficient damage to this place. Don't take your guns to space.

SPACE
©2007 Raymond M. Jozwiak
SHORT SPACE
©2011 Raymond M. Jozwiak



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Baby. . .

. . . CD Baby.com, that is.

For anyone who wants to accomplish anything in the music business, the name 'CD Baby' is one you show get to know, if you don't already. CDBaby.com is the easy, simple, thorough, professional, inexpensive way to market your recordings. You pay one, reasonable, upfront fee, send your music, provide all the album/artist details and they do the rest.

This is NOT a commercial. I do NOT work for CD Baby. I receive no compensation, discount or promotion for saying any of these things. This IS my blog though. And my intent is to discuss music and many of the other things that I perceive as related to music. So I am just stating what I have found to be, through my experience, FACTS.

From Wikipedia, "CD Baby began with its founder, Derek Sivers in Woodstock, New York.[when?] Sivers was a musician and scion of a wealthy real estate family, who created the website to sell his own music. As a hobby, he also began to sell the CDs of local bands and friends. He chose to make CD Baby a "utopian" online store for independent musicians. To do this, Sivers followed four main principles based on his personal preferences:
**The musician will be paid every week
**The musician will get the full name and address of everyone who purchases their music (unless they opt out)
**The musician will never be removed from the system for not selling enough
**The site will never accept advertising or paid-placement
In addition, Sivers made sure to listen to every CD he sold (currently several people are employed to do this). The operation was run mainly in Sivers' bedroom.

Sivers, eventually hired John Steup as his vice president and first employee. In an interview, Sivers recalls saying to Steup: "This thing might get huge one day. I mean, we might have 100 artists here." Steadily, CD Baby grew as more artists wanted to sell their music through the website. Sivers and his employees always dealt with the artists directly.

In August 2008 it was announced that Disc Makers, a CD and DVD manufacturer, bought CD Baby (and Host Baby) for 22 million dollars following a 7-year partnership between the two companies, according to Sivers."

This is the guy who started it. I'd like to be just like him when I grow up. (He's actually quite a bit younger than me.)

I miss the mob from Derek Sivers on Vimeo.


Cheers to you, Derek.



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Friday, July 1, 2011

Ma!!! They're using my song. . .

. . . Tom Petty asked a Republican candidate recently to NOT use his song, "American Girl". Petty also asked another not to use his song "I Won't Back Down" in 2000. The band Heart asked that their hit "Barracuda" not be used for politicizing while John Mellencamp did the same with "Our Country". Likewise "Independence Day" from Martina McBride, "Running on Empty" by Jackson Brown, Foo Fighters' "My Hero", Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" and "More Than A Feeling" by Boston.

What is this penchant for stealing intellectual property on the part of our politicians? Are these the kind of folks that we want to run our country?



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From the ridiculous. . .

. . . to the sublime.

John Coltrane, who passed away 44 years ago this month, was a bebop trailerblazer, hard-bop co-founder, pioneer in the use of modes in jazz, revolutionary in the free jazz movement and ALSO a cannonized saint in the African Orthodox Church.

My initial exposure to Coltrane, not counting dialing the FM radio past a station playing 'A Lover Supreme' on one of the early anniversaries of his death, was a combination of the influence of my good friend Bob and my exposure to the music we call, for lack of a better word, jazz while working at my college radio station over 35 years ago. I always liked Coltrane's sound. I must confess though, I didn't always understand it.

And like other, truly creative, brilliant, musical pioneers (read: their music was always changing), John Coltrane's music was very different depending upon which stage of his career (and development) you consider. True, his tone was clearly and consistently distinctive and his 'sheets of sound' approach is evident in many of these stages, but nevertheless, his development is evident.

Over these years I have begun to understand more of his phases of musical exploration and as a result, appreciate and enjoy John Coltrane's music more with each year that I continue to listen.

I encourage you to do the same. (Don't let the shot of Eric Dolphy throw you. Dolphy's presence here is a nice bonus.)




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