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not for sale
Image by suttonhoo
Growing up, we were different.
When you’re a kid, different isn’t a good thing.
We moved a lot, driftwood in the steady sea of normalcy that was whatever suburb or city outskirt we touched down in. Each landing meant recognizance: Who are these people? What do they wear? What do they care about? Followed by some serious fitting-in.
My sister was the master: she used Nice like a tactical weapon. She could fold herself into any new social situation and own it with her smile.
I wasn’t so good at it, but I got along. Mostly through subterfuge and deception. I hid myself behind a screen of what I determined — through astute observation — was normal. I left the awkward lunches that my mother packed for me in my locker (course homemade wheat bread smeared with strange combinations of avocados and sprouts or peanut butter and banana; raw fruit juices; the occasional disastrous and stinky split pea soup with tofu subbed in for ham) and got by on the change that I scrounged off my parents’ dresser. For years I survived on 60 cent lunches of 10 cent milk cartons and packages of hostess powdered donuts, because I didn’t want to pull out my strange sandwiches at a table full of white bread wonder and bologna. (We didn’t eat much meat, either.)
My radar was always up; I was always scanning for difference and working hard to conform to the norm.
One of the things that made us different from the rest of our normal block was the mass and scale of my father’s record album collection. He had shelves made especially for the vinyl that he received in the course of his trade: deep massive shelves that accommodated big blocks of records and smaller portions for the amp and turntable and reel to reel that siphoned music like fuel through a mass of wires to his big orange waffle grid JBL speakers. The shelves were made of one inch pine which wasn’t enough: they bowed under the weight.
This was a different that I didn’t mind. Home was church when the music was on. I didn’t learn until much later, from a high school boyfriend, that my speech was peppered with expressions that marked me as different without my knowing: I said things like “flip side” and “give it a spin” as easy as breathing.
I had my own albums that were gifts from my dad, starting with when I received my first turntable on my 8th birthday. It came with a pile of records that must have weighed at least 25 pounds: A crazy mashup of the Beatles and Fantasia and the Brady Kids singing “Ben”. Ragtime, bad pop, symphony and rock and roll.
Many of the albums that I played full tilt in the privacy of my room were stamped with “Promotional Copy Only: Not for Sale”.
It was a long time before I learned that albums cost money: Up to ten dollars a friend told me, when she was talking about how expensive they were. I was amazed. Records just arrived at our house: packages at the door several times a week. I never saw money change hands, although I had a sense that something was going on at that big Peaches record store that my dad would frequently schlep us to. (I want to say it was on Colfax — this was Denver — but I’m sure I’m wrong about that.)
I felt vaguely ashamed of the Promo Copy stamps on so many of our album covers, and of their notched corners. I hid them from my friends, pulling out only the pristine covers that appeared “paid for” when they came over to play.
In junior high I sucked up my shame on the afternoon we were all invited to bring albums to music class. I brought in two Commodore albums, when the Commodores were cool, and I figured I would be careful and hide the promo stamps from view.
The discovery was made of course, by one of those loud boys who always uncover the awkward and untoward and announce it to everyone within shouting distance. How did I get these? Theft was implied. My face flushed red with shame as I stuttered and explained: “Yeah. My dad gets those from work.”
Silence. More shame. More fierce blushing fire.
Then his face softened, almost amazed. “What does your dad do?”
Unlike when we lived a long time before in New York and LA, very few suburban kids had parents in the music industry. It was hard to explain promotions and production to a room full of kids who only knew about the folks singing the songs, but I tried. And they listened. Eagerly and interested.
Which is when it first dawned on me that different could be good.
I was reminded of the Promo stamp, and my shame, when I picked up a bin of cheap vinyl recently, and then in a matter of days received a couple of promo copies of my own that I wanted to pass along. I’ve only given each of these a quick listen, but it was good enough on the first pass to share.
The first came from my dad, who’s still pimping tunes even though he’s no longer on the payroll: Cowboy Fandango by Michael Hurwitz and the Aimless Drifters. Hurwitz is a cowboy and songwriter whose true western lyrics include references to old green trucks and UFOs over Wyoming. The CD cover features a naked lady astride a centaur who looks remarkably like Hurwitz. Quirky and classic and so worth a listen.
There’s also two-time Latin Grammy nominee Jovino Santos Neto’s latest release, Alma do Nordeste (soul of the northeast), which his lovely wife Luzia delivered to me over lunch when I saw her in Seattle.
Jovino and Luzia and their kids are family to me, ever since we met in the cherry blossomed strewn courtyard of the cheap shotgun shacks that we rented at the end of Broadway in Seattle, so I’ve course I’m going to plug Jovino’s newest CD. But also because it was inspired by the trip they took through the Northeast of Brazil recording indigenous music, and because he invokes the legacy and influence of Hermeto Pascoal, whom Jovino played with for years, and who, like Jovino, makes music that’s remarkably different.
In a really good way.
Healthy Living and More Summer of ’08
Image by Pesky Library
Read more about the following new books at Pesky Library Thing :
OBD: Obsessive Branding Disorder…Conley
Need to Know: UFOs, the Military and Intelligence…Good
What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life…Gilbert
The Taste of Sweet: our Complicated Love Affair with our Favorite Treats…Chen
Game On: the All-American Race to make Champions of our Children…Farrey
The Way Toys Work: The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch A Sketch, Boomerang, and More…Sobey
The Complete Compost Gardening Guide…Pleasant & Martin
Swiss Weather Anomaly – animation
Image by frankdasilva
Click ‘ALL SIZES" to view animation!
On the morning of the 24th of April 2009 employees at MeteoSwiss (Switzerland’s Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology) got the surprise of their lives. Huge circular fields hovering over Switzerland were picked up by their radars. The question was asked as to whether a massive UFO was in the upper-atmosphere above the scenic mountainous nation or perhaps these circles were signs of an imminent hurricane or maybe some sort of electromagnetic radio frequency/microwave technology is in use to cause such an anomaly.
Felix Schacher, a senior Meteorologist at MeteoSwiss claimed the circles were not UFOs or the signs of a hurricane about to wreak havoc on his country. Mr Schacher told the Swiss news site ’20 Minutes’ that they were merely caused by the reflection of water droplets that just happened to form a circular shape.
A few minutes after being queried on the issue the radar images were hurriedly removed from the departments website. Many Swiss UFO researchers have left comments on various internet forums expressing their doubt on the ‘reflection water droplets’ story, asking why was the image so quickly removed and who ordered its removal.
Many people also left some comments on forums asking if the interference patterns shown on the meteorological map, could be caused by trials in relation to the startup of the LHC – Large Hadron Collider near Geneve also, in Switzerland.
Please, feel free to comment!!