Saturday, February 20, 2010

this & that. . .

I took a week's worth of days away from blogging to deal with some other stuff.
Nothing heavy just a few of life's "curve balls" (and/or screw balls); taxes, a little house cleaning, longer periods of meditation and some homework for the new projects I'm planning. I also discovered a new book that I wanted to get a good start on, bought a new toy that took a little time to figure out how to play with and, with all that, still managed to help another edition of "The Blue Paper" find it's way to the newsstand. Last weekend, the start of the Olympics caught my eye and I made it out to Smathers for the offshore oil drilling protest on Saturday.
So even though it was an anemic week for artistic output, it was a week well spent on new and inspired input.

Most of you already know that unless I rent a car to go visit the kiddies or call a cab to move artwork around town, I travel everywhere else on my bicycle. But on weekend mornings after meditation, I turn into one of those nuts who likes to kick his own ass with a 2 or 3 hour bike work out. (It's one of the most joyful activities I do.) The inspirational ingredient though, is music. Hard, loud, arrogant & immortal, "take it downtown" tunes.
When it got to be time to upgrade the music's delivery system, I shopped around for something without a lot of the bells and whistles. I just want to get on the bike, kick up the volume and go to the zone so, here's what I decided on. . .
an "iPod Shuffle". With it's 4GB, this tiny little bugger fits 1,000 tunes and really gives them to me good.
(another of life's simple pleasures)

Less than 35 pages into it, I knew "Cracking the Code" was a book I'd have to read twice.
Written by Peter Eric Hendrickson, the subject of the book (and it's subtitle) is, "the fascinating truth about taxation
in America"
It sounds kind of dry, doesn't it? So why read it twice? Dealing with that specific subject matter the book is, understandably, written largely in the language of lawyers and legislators which I don't speak fluently. By the time I started making any sense of the lexicon, I was half way through it and whatever the point of the first half of the book might have been, was completely lost on me. So yes, there will be a second reading.
My reason for the reading in the first place is to get a better understanding of the IRS Tax Codes.
(yeah I know, "good luck with that")

You see, besides being a pain in everyone's ass and deliberately structured to be almost impossible to understand, the Federal Income Tax's demand for the first 28¢ out of every dollar I earn is unconstitutional. Of course, you can't win that argument in court (at least no one has, yet) and if you don't pay them they're in your face like the preacher's donation plate on Sunday. So the next best thing to my mind is, with a better understanding of the tax codes, design next year's business plan to keep as much of that 28¢ per dollar in my own pocket as legally possible.
When I get it figured out, I'll be happy to share the "how to".

I was about 12 when I got my first guitar. (the Beatles made me do it!) An aunt taught me the "famous 4 chords" and I haven't put it down since. After high school I moved from my parent's house in suburban Jersey to NYC, did open mic nights at Village clubs and eventually hooked up with a 5 piece swing band that played the high rent hotels in Manhattan. I carried the axe with me on my first trip to Europe and sat in at a handful of gigs around London and Amsterdam. When I came home I got a rock band together, wrote and recorded a "rock opera", hooked up with a country band for a while and did some solo gigs until, when I was just pushing 30, I hung it up for performing in favor of a "real job" in Art Direction that became a 30 year career.
But the whole time, I still played.
Not long ago, my oldest friend and bass player from the "rock opera" days called to say he was putting together some digital tracks with a few of his friends up north and would I want to start collaborating on some tracks. The idea intrigued me but even though I laid down a few things in "garageband", it didn't catch fire for me.
More recently than that my daughter spotted a name on Facebook and asked me if he was one of the guys I used to tell her stories about from the swing band days. Sure enough it was. We did a little back and forth and then I got an e-mail from still another guy, the lead singer of the swing band. Three blasts from my musical past got me thinking. . .
"Maybe this is God trying to get my attention on a musical move." Stay tuned.

photo credit, Miami Herald

In the heat of the summer, I troddle off (maybe twice a week) to Ft. Zac to splash around and cool off in the Gulf. In that sense, I think of the Gulf of Mexico as my swimming pool.
When I was a kid we had a pool in our yard and so did all our neighbors. Everyone could swim anywhere and the unspoken rule was, "don't pee in the pool".
So when I first learned about "Hands Across the Sand", a protest against oil drilling off the Florida coast, I thought, "the aimless adolescent 500 pound gorilla (which is mostly how I regard government) wants to pee in my pool!"
". . .Well f*#k that!!"

photo credit, SheelMan

So I was sure to show up last Saturday afternoon with my girl SaraJane and 398 other Key Westers to join in the statewide protest against drilling oil wells within 3 miles of Florida's Atlantic coast. It was a very cool and unifying event but, we all know from the old days that protests aren't events, they're marathons. So, there's much much more to do. . .
Write a letter, send an e-mail, jam up the politicians voicemail boxes. Here's a link to HANDS ACROSS THE SAND. Check it out if you care to and, if you don't want the gorilla peeing in the pool and turding up our beaches with globs of "Texas Tea" from the sea, do something.


This is one of those things you might not have thought of but when someone else does, you wish you had.
I found a documentary on "instant netflix" that made a difference in my day and I want to share it with you.
A small American film crew traveled to several countries around the world asking real people one question, "what do you think about America?" The politically un-spun answers are sincere, well considered and inspiring. If you can spend a good hour with it, please have a look.

Here's a web-link to THE LISTENING PROJECT and if that whets your interest, here's the link to where I found the whole movie on NETFLIX

. . .All things considered, maybe we should cut him a little slack on this one.

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