Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This is an update of an old MySpace blog of mine from years ago. I have changed drastically since those days, and my attitude has adjusted accordingly.
Monday, January 3, 2011
So I’ve been on this online dating site for several months now. For the most part, I haven’t run into any psychos or major pervs like a lot of the women on there deal with. I have no complaints about anybody I have met on there (there have not been many, by the way. But I do have issues with many of the women’ s profiles that I come across on there.
Nearly every woman on there has a profile headline that says something like, “Looking for an Honest Man,” “Looking for a Good Hearted Man,” “How Many Frogs do I have to Kiss?,” “Looking for my Best Friend,” “Where are all the Good Guys at?,” and “ Tired of the Games.”
When you meet somebody, and subsequently fall in love with him. You have to take the good with the bad. Stop thinking that your relationship will be the same fairytale tomorrow as it seems to be today. Such naivety will only lead to massive heartbreak in the end.
When I was married, I loved my wife very much. I can remember thinking that I wanted to marry her after being with her for only about a week. I was so excited about the idea of spending my life with her and her daughters, and in my eyes, I could see no wrong in her.As our marriage progressed, even in the first month or two, I started to notice things that I didn’t like about her, things that annoyed me, and yes, even things that grossed me out. But at the end of the day, despite all of her faults, when we laid down to go to sleep at night, and I could smell the coconut shampoo in her hair and the cherry blossom lotion on her face, all I could think about was how the bad things and the imperfections are what made me love her even more. There were times that she made me very angry. There were times, especially toward the end, that I didn’t trust her. But none of those things were ever able to change the fact that I loved her.
Even today, after all she has put me and my family through, and despite the hatred for her that burns in my heart, keeping me up every night, there is still a part of me that loves her. As difficult as that is for me to say, I simply don’t believe that love is something that can be turned on and off. You either love somebody forever, or you never loved him or her at all.
Stop looking for a fairytale, and start looking for a man that loves you.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I don’t quite remember exactly when I first heard it. But I do remember that it was before I could read or write. It was back when girls were still infected with “cooties”, and school was little more than the culmination of snack time, coloring time, and nap time. It’s existence and implementation predate my birth, and yet this “new” sound opened up a wider view of what I considered to be cool music. The “scratch” is a sound that can evoke jubilation in one crowd and utter revulsion in another. The former most accurately describes how this auditory anomaly struck me. I can’t put my finger on it. But something inside my subconscious said “I like this.”
It could have been while watching the video for Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” on MTV Europe. Watching the Ray-Ban clad Grandmixer DST moving the vinyl record back and forth on his Technics 1200’s in perfect harmony with Hancock’s synthesizers sent chills up my still-growing spine. More important than it’s “hey that’s cool” effect on an impressionable youngster however, was that this video dared to put a DJ right up on stage next to the keyboard player, the guitarist, and the percussionist for all the audience to see. He wasn’t simply some anonymous guy pushing “Play” and prodding the crowd into line dances over a static-muffled microphone. He was a member of the band. He was a music maker rather than a music player. The DJ contributed to the piece of music just as every other member of the band did, and I would dare to say that the song would not have been nearly the hit it was had he not been involved, winning 5 MTV Video Music Awards and a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental in 1984.
At that early point in my life, I never aspired to one day be the man behind the turntables. I would grow up taking for granted the sounds of needles over vinyl. Most members of my generation could not remember a time when “mixing” and “sampling” weren’t a part of popular music. The acoustic sets of Herb Alpert, the quasi-rebellious anthems of the Beatles and down-home folk rock of James Taylor, so revered by our elders, were nothing more than music credits at the end of “Forrest Gump” to those of us who grew up in the post “Rapper’s Delight” era of electronica, hip-hop, and bubblegum pop music. I don’t venture to contend that every member of my generation embraced a single style of popular music. In fact, I remember as if it were yesterday the ridicule I received even in high school for my musical preferences from the plaid-wearing, long-haired sycophantic disciples of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and other iconic bands of the “alternative rock” era. These were the “in” bands. This was the trend. This is what you had to listen to in order to be one of the cool kids. Yet the appeal of these Seattle-bred, melancholy dirges escaped me. I felt this musical genre better suited to coffee shops filled with bespectacled pseudo-intellectual Poetry majors than to radio play. Perhaps that was what most of the general population would describe as a band, but not me. As a young boy, I was enthralled by the masterful beats laid down by RUN-DMC’s Jam Master Jay. As a preteen I was amazed by the comical yet expertly mixed beats of DJ Jazzy Jeff. As a young adult I was blown away by the ghostly, hard edged beats of the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and the ingenious production of Gang Starr’s DJ Premiere. I loved these sounds, but I was ignorant of the skill and creativity possessed by those who produced them. At that time, I would have fallen into the category of the naysayers. I would have conceded to the popular notion that DJ’s don’t make music, they play music. I would not have been alone.
Are DJ’s Musicians? The answer to that question depends upon who you ask it to. One could contend that the existence of a piece of music does not necessarily endow it’s creator with automatic “Musician” status. Does a computer programmer who encodes a video game program with Basic consider his or herself a musician based simply on the fact that the code can manifest itself as music when read by a computer? Can a teen pop star made famous by appearing on the Disney Channel be considered a musician despite the fact that he or she can neither read nor write music? It’s a debate that will never be won by either side simply due to the self satisfaction possessed by the purveyors of both popular and contemporary music. However, arguments for both points of view cannot be branded as meritless simply because the subscribers to those viewpoints are also the creators of the music.
Let’s make sure that we understand the basic terminology of those who use turntables to create music. Some of the most successful DJ’s who consider themselves to be legitimate musicians would consider the term “DJ” to be far too generic. The word “Turntablist” is more desirable to many of these artists. Roc Raida of the New York City based DJ band, The X-Ecutioners, quoted in the November, 1997 issue of Rolling Stone, says, “A DJ will play somebody else’s record, say, ‘All right, that was this tune,’ and play another record. We do more than that. We beat-juggle, scratch, do body tricks, play bass, guitar, drums. A turntablist is the same as a pianist or anybody else who plays and instrument. And therefore we’re called turntablists instead of DJs” (McDonnell, 28.) This is quite a bold statement when you consider the esteem held by instrumentalists like Kenny G and Yo Yo Ma. You could say with relative certainty that a large percentage of the general population have heard of these musicians. But can the same be said of Mista Sinista, Roc Raida, Rob Swift, Total Eclipse and Radio of the X-Ecutioners? Perhaps not, but is popular acceptance the measure of one’s status as a musician? Turntablists write, produce, perform on and sell their own records just as conventional musicians do, and they tour and perform at sold out venues just as other musicians do. And if you think that that there exists no rhyme or reason to the music that turntablists perform and sell compared to that of more traditional music styles, you may be surprised.
For centuries, musicians across all genres have utilized a variety of graphical notation systems which help translate sight into sound. Everybody has seen these systems at one time or another. And millions of people are able to read, write and interpret them, using them to create compositions that can be preserved without the use of audio recording media. There is nothing more worthy of the nomenclature “music” than a written work that can be performed by any musical entity from a symphony orchestra to a thrash metal band. These systems have always been the measure of what constitutes music. And the only people capable of deciphering them are commonly referred to as “musicians.” So that leaves DJ’s and Turntablists out of the running, right? Wrong. There exist at least three notation systems that are indigenous to the art of turntable manipulation. Although these systems, when compared to other methods of musical notation, are in their infancy, their existence nonetheless puts major cracks in the once rock-solid common argument that scratching, beat juggling and other turntable techniques are “just noise.” Once thought by the lay person to be incoherent and improvisational party tricks, unworthy of recognition by true artists, turntable sets can now be arguably just as legitimate and well thought out as anything that flowed from the quills of Mozart or Beethoven. The first such system to be commonly accepted was developed in 1997 by American producer and director John Carluccio. Known as Turtablist Transcription Methodology (TTM), it became the first widely accepted notation system for music created and performed exclusively on turntables (MIyakawa, 81). Another such system was created at approximately the same time by Canadian turntable prodigy and 1997 Technics DMC World Champion DJ A-Trak (Walters, 86.) Although A-Trak’s method of scratch transcription failed to garner mass appeal among the general population of turntablists, it remains a viable system for allowing turntable sounds to manifest themselves visually. Another transcription system that is currently in it’s early stages of development is the brainchild of French designer Laurent Burte (Walters, 87.) Neither a conventional musician nor a turntablist by trade, and admittedly respectful of Carluccio’s TTM system, Burte nevertheless felt that scratch music’s graphical translation deserved a more aesthetically pleasing way of being transcribed. Seeing a market amongst DJ’s for a standardized notation system for scratching, Burte set out in 2001 to develop ideograms inspired by the calligraphic forms of Arabic and Asian scripts. These glyphs, Burte hopes, will one day capture visually the unique sounds that thus far can only be distinguished audibly. Could this artistic endeavor eventually be the catalyst that sparks the music world’s acceptance of “scratch music” as a legitimate art form? There’s no way to know for sure. But it is undeniably a huge step toward legitimacy for a style of music making once assumed to be rooted in improvisation.
So we have established that DJ’s are capable of writing and performing musical compositions that are as well rehearsed and painstakingly planned out as any works within the realm of contemporary musical standards. But what about the apparatus that they use to create those compositions? Can a 35 pound machine with the sole intended purpose of playing back pre-recorded media really be considered a musical instrument? The industry standard Technics 1200 MKII doesn’t possess the aesthetically pleasing curves of a cello or the undeniable majesty and angelic connotation of a harp. But it may surprise some people that a seemingly static device such as these turntables can be used to manipulate recorded sounds into new pieces of music. It is simply a matter of how one uses a device that determines it’s application. Turntablists use two or more of these devices linked together by a multi-channel mixer to weave together the sounds pressed into vinyl so that they become a unique composition. Much the same as a pianist weaves together the variously pitched sounds created by each key to culminate into something that the human brain perceives as a single piece, the turntable can be used to create new songs from old ones. Can we therefore say that a pianist and turntablist occupy the same artistic plane? Once again, the answer lies in the eye of the observer. The Japanese sound equipment manufacturer, Vestax, which has developed and marketed some of the most advanced DJ turntables in existence, was featured in the 2002 documentary film “Scratch” as it appeared at a the 2000 N.A.M.M. Music Convention, a musical instrument exposition. Surrounded by representatives of some the world’s most prestigious manufactures of musical instruments, Qbert of the turntablist band The Invisbl Skratch Pikls, showed of the capabilities of the Vestax products on behalf of the company. Strange indeed were the sounds of scratching and cutting echoing throughout the expo center filled with people whose entire careers revolved around the marketing and distribution of conventional musical instruments. Nevertheless, sheer morbid curiosity, if nothing else, caused these esteemed representatives of the music world to gravitate toward the Vestax kiosk to witness up close what most of them had no doubt only seen on television. The impromptu critiques of these onlookers seemed to point toward some kind of collective consciousness or telepathic connection between them. Ingenious comments such as ,“It just sounds like noise to me” and, “It’s kind of a silly way of making a noise that’s not too pleasant to hear” seemed to be the only way these “serious” musicians could articulate their disgust at the fact that a DJ was being prominently featured next to them (Pray, Ch. 19.) What better way is there to gain an understanding of the music world’s attitude toward the turntable than to witness firsthand the on-the-spot snide criticisms of it’s best and brightest? I feel that the condescending attitudes demonstrated toward Yoga Frog by the crème de la crème of the music industry speak for themselves. In the eyes of the people who know musical instruments best, the turntable does not fit into that category.
Perhaps the myopic views espoused by aficionados of more traditional genres of conventional music are not the best measure of musical legitimacy for turtablism. Popular music seems to have more effectively embraced the DJ as a valued performer. The most noticeably measurable beginning of the Disc Jockey’s regular inclusion in musical genres outside of Hip-hop was during the era of so-called Rap-Rock in the mid to late 1990’s. This new genre was an attempt by numerous pop groups of various success levels to infuse the flexibility and street savvy of Hip-hop with the popular appeal of Rock music. With some bands such as Limp Bizkit and Crazy Town reporting records sales in the millions, and other groups such as the Blood Hound Gang selling records in the hundreds of thousands, it seemed that Rap-rock was to be the industry’s newest exploitable resource. DJ’s were a prominent fixture of these bands. Limp Bizkit’s DJ Lethal and Crazy Town’s DJ AM were nearly equal in popularity to Fred Durst and Shifty Shellshock, the respective band’s lead singers. The basic reasoning seemed to be that you can’t be classified as Rap, without at least the token presence of a DJ, who during the early years of Hip-hop took center stage, relegating the rapper (more properly referred to as the “MC”) to sidekick status. Even pure Rock bands like Sugar Ray, Incubus, and Linkin Park incorporated the DJ as a necessary member of the group. Rap-Rock’s dominance of the Billboard charts would however, be short-lived. In 20/20 hindsight, the phenomenon appears to have been little more than the hastily expedited product of corporate strategy, attempting to capitalize on the widely accepted demographic statistic that up to 70 percent of Hip-hop music, a genre dominated by African-American artists, is purchased by white males aged 18 to 24. This is exactly the segment of the population that mostly gravitates toward rock music. The combining of the two art forms would be a natural inclination for corporate big wigs that operate with profit foremost on their minds. While Rap-Rock is little more than a fuzzy memory in the fickle minds of today’s pop music consumer, a number of today’s most popular and financially successful Rock bands are those that boast DJ’s as members. Linkin Park and Incubus have had continued success to this day. On a somewhat less culturally relevant note, one hit wonders like late 90’s mambo novelty act Lou Bega, despite he and his band’s rather hasty recession into the annals of pop culture obscurity, also counted a DJ among their ranks. It is a safe bet to assume that while classical musicians may look down on the Disc Jockey as a musician, the powers that be in the pop music industry (arguably the only profitable facet of the music industry) take them very seriously. Hollywood has also zeroed in on the potential profitability of turntablist compositions, recruiting producers such as The RZA to score movies like “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” and other films whose gritty street-themed moods are accentuated by the rawness of turntablist beats.
No matter which side you take in the “DJ’s as musicians” debate, the turntablist’s influence on the modern music landscape is undeniable. While I have serious doubts about ever seeing Disc Jockeys performing in tuxedos as members of the London Symphony Orchestra, perhaps that is not their intended niche. While classical music may not benefit from the ingenuity of these “masters of the 1 & 2”, it is clear that modern musical palates have become accustomed to the omnipresence of DJ’s in their music of choice, as producers, performers, and band members. So even though the thought of DJ’s ever being revered as serious musicians might make Beethoven spin in his grave, the fact is that that the success of modern popular music is dependent on those capable mixing, producing, and annotating sound. DJ’s do it all. And that’s why, like it or not, they’re not going away anytime soon.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Maybe it's the highly stressful current circumstances that I find myself in as of recent months causing chemical and electrical signals to fire in my brain with unusual patterns. Maybe it's my ADD medication that makes me feel like The Incredible Hulk for a short period, and then causes me to crash shortly afterward. Maybe any number of nuerochemical processes or medicinal factors are playing into my sudden spike in cognitive abilities. But whatever it is, I don't like it.
I'm not gonna say that "I see dead people," or some Hollywood crap like that. But I just seem to have a way of scanning an environment or person, especially a new one, and being able to extrapolate certain details that shouldn't be immediately noticeable. It's almost like having that "Terminator vision" that you see in the movies, where you look from side to side and your internal CPU flashes graphics and information about objects and people in the field of view.
Listen, I know this sounds crazy. But I'm gonna wait and see if this "psychic ability" either diminishes or gets worse. I can tell you right now that this is certainly an ability that I do not want to possess. Hopefully, I'm just imagining things and my supposed ESP is only a set of incredibly creepy circumstances. But still, it scares me.