Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Minor Seventh Heaven -- 1959 Fender Factory Tour



Aw, yeah. That's Leo Fender hisself in the office at the beginning of the video. A little later on, you can see Freddie Tavares playing one of the finished guitars. Freddie was a lead designer of the Stratocaster, which is the guitar you mainly see being built in the video. Freddie was a well-regarded steel guitar player, born in Hawaii. How cool is Freddie Tavares? He played the big glissando that opens every Looney Tunes cartoon. That makes Freddie Tavares cooler than everyone you ever met, and everyone they ever met.



I've owned a Fender Telecaster. I still own an old Stratocaster. If you bought one of the Stratocasters you see being made in the video and stuck it in your closet, it would be worth about twenty grand right now, according to the place I bought my Strat back in the day, Gruhn's in Nashville. Stevie Ray Vaughan thought the old beater Strat he played the most was a 1959, but it was probably a couple years newer than that. The 1959 written on the back of his pickups might have thrown him off. Maybe those lovely ladies you see winding pickup coils were winding his right then, and they went in a bin for a while.

I used to work in a factory not far from the Fender factory in Fullerton, back in the early eighties. It looked just like that. Concrete block and a metal roof. It's hot as hell out that way in the summer, and the doors would hang open a lot, just like you see. I was a welder, and would have much preferred to be bandsawing a poplar guitar body. I had to wear a long-sleeved shirt buttoned up to the neck. Amusingly, I was the only anglo guy working with all messcans, and we had a Hawaiian floor boss, so it looked like I'd have fit right in at Fender. The video can't capture one aspect of it. I bet that place was loud. And not from guitar music, either.

I'd be able to walk right up to any work station in that Fender plant and start working without training. Part of me --a substantial part -- wishes I could. 


Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Imagine She Smelled The Same The Day After As The Day Before



1901. The year Victoria died. The year my house was built. It's a Victorian, natch. I think it's fascinating that you can watch a video of her funeral.

You know, there really isn't all that much history, if you're talking only of civilization. Twelve thousand years ago, there was a wall of ice thick enough to cover the highest mountain in Maine sitting where I am now.  There's still a wall of ice outside my door, but it's on the porch roof and we don't trouble one another.

My father was a WW II veteran, and his father was a WW I veteran, and the last veterans of the Civil War were wandering around, albeit rather slowly, less than a decade before I was born. Four years after Victoria shuffled off, you could have gone to Hiram Cronk's funeral in New York. He was a veteran of the War of 1812.



George Washington had barely reached room temperature when Hiram was born in 1800. About a hundred years before ol' borrowed-teeth George, Galileo was annoying everyone with his heliocentrism and halitosis. It's easy, and interesting, to hopscotch backwards through the calendars like that until you find yourself up against the wall of ice.

Get busy being interesting -- just plain old might do -- and maybe someone will have claimed to have known you and Kevin Bacon in a blogpost in a century or so.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Powerless


We've lost our power three times in the last day or so; once so the power company could replace the pole that has the drop to our house on it, twice because it snowed eight inches last night and made the utility world go flibbertygibbet for a spell.

I had to sit shiver all night over the stove. When the power goes out, the fan doesn't run and it overheats. It smells like a tire fire barbeque a bit when it gets too hot. You have to close all its dampers and watch it. I had to open a window at two AM to get some fresh air, and made a fire in the living room fireplace to exhaust the place, and get a little warmth. The former occupants of the house never took care of the fireplace, and actively broke it here and there, too, for practice, I guess. I had to watch the fireplace even harder than the woodstove, lest it pull a Miss Havisham on me and let a log roll out. The power was restored before dawn, and then shortly after winked out, and I had to go through the whole rigamarole again.

I fell asleep around eight this morning while sitting somewhat askew on the couch. My little son came downstairs and stood as quietly as an eight-year-old can stand, which is similar to how quietly an organ grinder with a rhino instead of a monkey might keep silent, and when I opened one eye, he said, " Wow, dad, you're finally awake."

Yes, son. Finally.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

City Life Is Millions Of People Being Lonesome Together


The world should have room for more than one kind of person. That does not seem to be well understood these days, if it ever was.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Continental Climate



What is it today? What will wash over us like a tsunami? The ebb and flow of empires is a messy thing. Mongols. Turks. Cossacks. Nazis. Communists.

You can stay and long for a country gone, or go and it's the same. But all invaders can be outlasted, if you pass down the memory of the time before they came. 

Bela Bartok

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whistling Past



Fine version of an old dirge, Oh Death.

What is this that I can't see
An icy hand taking hold of me
I am Death, none can excel
I open the door to heaven or hell

O Death, O Death
Won't you spare me over 'til another year

O Death, someone will pray
Please wait to call me another day
The children pray and the preacher preach
But time and mercy are out of your reach

O Death, O Death
Won't you spare me over 'til another year

I'll fix your feet 'til you can't walk
Lock your jaw 'til you can't talk
Close your eyes so you can't see
This very air, come and go with me

O Death, O Death
Won't you spare me over 'til another year

O Death, please consider my age
Please don't take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command
If you would move your icy hand

O Death, O Death
Won't you spare me over 'til another year
Lauren O'Connell

(Thanks to KCJay for sending that one along)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Luigi, Play That Minuet Again


Luigi Boccherini's Minuet from the String Quintet in E played by the slightly outnumbered Zilina Guitar Quartet, who ain't from around these parts, I gather.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Honey Bodger Doesn't Give A Shite



A bodger is a woodworker that makes chairs out in the woods. The term is being debased or resurrected, depending on your outlook, by the Internet, where many use it instead of the term "jerry-rigged." It refers to a perfectly serviceable ad-hoc apparatus.

These men work the wood "green." Then they air dry it. They are making Windsor chairs. The British invented the Windsor chair, and the Americans perfected it. Here's a British one, with the wagon wheel back splat like of the sort being fashioned in the video:

(lots more here)



Here's a reproduction of an American colonial chair. Wallace Nutting was a collector of American furniture, and was more or less a founder of the Society For The Preservation of New England Antiquities. He had a falling out with them because he wanted to make money, so he went his own way. Now the SPNEA are money-grubbing like everyone else in this world. Nutting died in 1941, and his businesses are just a memory, and he's ever so much more influential than the SPNEA will ever be.

He had a fairly large business hand-tinting photographs in a factory in Framingham, Massachusetts. (According to this, he sold close to 10,000,000 of them) He wrote lots of books, mostly about furniture and furnishings. After a while, he started making reproductions of the furniture he had collected and cataloged over the years. It's hard to make money in the furniture business, and Nutting was no exception, but he made nice chairs. His reproductions are worth a small fortune at auctions now.

Here's his description of the #301 shown here:

"Unadorned in its simple, rugged beauty this true Windsor Chair is indicative of early Colonial sincerity. Honesty of purpose and a determination to excel are apparent in this chair as in all Wallace Nutting craftsmanship. Exact throughout in construction and design this Early Bow-back Braced Windsor is reproduced in the same chosen woods as the original - a combination of selected pine and birch or maple; it weighs but nine pounds."
 Honesty of purpose and a determination to excel. Hmm. If you ever find that, better take a picture of it. It's as rare as a bodger these days. 



Related: Hitting Rockbottom With Wallace Nutting

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I've Eaten Many Elephants. You Take One Bite At A Time



Sad to see that Suzanna Brandis is no longer with us. Jock Brandis is still working, though. Tugging on things on a movie set, mostly.

"Alternative lifestyles." It's a loaded term. I feel a sort of kinship with these people that's hard to explain. It's as if you are trained to be normal, and you find there's no normality anywhere in the land, so you set up normalcy in your own little sphere as best you can and people call you a weirdo. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good Dad Is A Good Dad



Girl people are mysterious and I'm not qualified to raise one.
(Thanks to reader Al Johnson for sending that one along.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

La Fête du Baiser



Will you thumb through the pictures when I am gone?

Will my face, made careworn and tired, be restored in your mind's eye? I cannot know what it was you ever saw in me. I cannot understand how you could know that when I said those things all people say to one another, almost without thinking, that I would really mean them. I said it and only half believed it myself, uttering such extravagant pledges of dubious value. Not for want of them being true. But I am unreliable.

There is nothing in this world but to love, and be loved in return. In a hundred years the most important man you ever met is anonymous. In a thousand everyone is. We cobbled together a life around the table where we break the bread, and for a few thousand times we were as one. I saw your face in our children's faces. You said you saw mine. The universe passed the plate, and we put in our offering. We are poor, but it's enough for anyone to give. No man could do more. No man could ask for more.

I remember when I was lying on the bed like a dead thing, and you came into the room and thought I was asleep. I wasn't asleep; I was gone from sight, and sound, and lost in a fever. I lay there in a puddle of sweat and more; my very life coming out of every pore, leaving nothing but a husk where a man used to be. And you kissed me. I remember.

(La Fête du Baiser)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Flint And Steel Make A Spark





SPANNERS
by: Sippican Cottage

Sun's beaming in the window,
There's rumbling from the floor,
We're swinging while we're swaying
Boxes dancing out the door.

Oh how our muscles ripple,
We're making twenty knots,
We're alternating; current --
We're glowing with the watts.

Pounding down the corridors,
With Bill of Lading piles;
Our output's put the boss on ice
We're blowing out the dials.

They count the beans but can't keep up,
We're cooking with the gas;
Our arms are made from tempered steel,
Our heart is made of brass.

That brass is rolled to make a tube,
The tube is bent just so;
And if we blow that trumpet, Jack,
The girls get all aglow.

The whistle blows at five o'clock,
It's twenty-three skidoo;
The guys and gals that made that stuff,
Go out for dancing too.

They box the compass of the steps
Then swing from chandeliers;
They leave the clerks there in the lurch
Then kick it up a gear.

They pound the floor into the ground,
They swing and then they sway;
They'd drink to all their troubles,
But they've long since gone away.

They close the places late at night,
And walk home 'neath the stars;
Arm in arm, exchanging charms
One's Venus, one is Mars.

Mighty children spring from them,
To keep the flame alight;
They nurse them with acetylene,
And ultra-violet light.

They grow some whiskers when they're old,
And sit down for a spell;
Their Ercoles will take their place,
And raise a little hell.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Back Pages


Had a hard-drive meltdown disaster boogaloo situation this week. My computer is an ancient Funkenstein monster of a thing. I can't remember how old it is. It runs XP, and as I recall XP was the spiffy new thing just then when I bought it. I've added hard drives and a network card and assorted other things to its festering hulk over the years. The hard drives were partitioned like the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WW I, and with about as much long-term viability. I had a dash of ones here and a spritz of zeros there and panoply of pixels from pillar to post.

The hard drive that's coughing up blood this week actually died a while ago, and I replaced it with another, but I left the original in the case, hanging on a ribbon wire, as a warning to the other components. I used it as a sort of half-assed backup to the new drive, but it's about as reliable as a brother-in-law, so I've got to yank everything off it now or lose it. I found that not all of what's on it is a copy. There's stuff I didn't know I had.

I found some sort of article I must have written for some other website. The style is too dull for any of my webpages, so it must have been for money. The squares don't like frivolity. I don't remember it being published, and it doesn't turn up on der Google, so I figure I'll recycle it and go back to erasing things. I found it interesting to read, mostly because it's so dull. It's a top-ten sort of list, and I wrote it in 2006. Most people who make predictions hide them from scrutiny six months after they make them. Let's see how six years have treated mine:
Frustration is a symptom, not a disease. When you're frustrated, it's generally because you're trying to accomplish something, but circumstances conspire to keep you from achieving it. There's a moment of peace that generally comes to those that abandon lines of attack that are too arduous because of extraneous factors: I've done all that I can, there's nothing more I can do.
Frustration is the meat and potatoes of people who wish to predict future trends, though. What are people trying to do, over and over, despite how difficult it might be to do it? That's what people really want; they prove it by how much crap they'll put up with to get it. Do you remember the busy signal you got trying to get online ten years ago, just so you could look at a few pages of text or a picture of a girl with her clothes off? The potential of the internet was shown by the amount of discomfort people were willing to endure early on to get just a glimpse of it.
Let's use frustration as our canary in the coal mine and see what people are desperately trying to do, over and over, despite many obstacles. We'll use it as a barometer to see what the onrush of civilization will make obsolete. Because it's obsolete that I love. I love all the things I used to have to do that I don't have to do anymore. I don't want to stand in line at a bank. I don't want to punch a time card. I don't want ink all over my fingers just to read the baseball box scores. I don't want to have a hair farmer on the network news reading the least interesting, ofttimes made-up stories to me at 6:00 PM -- really slowly. I don't want to stand in line at the Registry of Motor Vehicles twice a year. I don't want any of that, and more. Or less. Or something. So here's Ten Things I don't want any more, at least in their current iteration; Ten Things I'm going to have to tell my grandchildren about, if we're all lucky:
10. Blockbuster Video- It's got the smell of death on it already, doesn't it? The idea of going to a bricks and mortar store to get a copy of digital information is going to seem as useless as drive-in movie theaters do now. The only difference is that drive-in movies seem quaint. A video rental store will seem like a shuttered crackhouse.
9. Stuntmen- Sticking with the movie theme here, who's going to pay another person to get blown up in a car and pushed over a cliff when a computer can just put that guy there with a few mouseclicks? Lots of jobs like that are hanging on by the skin of their union teeth in Hollywood right now. Bye Bye.
8. Movie Theaters- Yeah, I said it. When the screen at home gets big enough -- and you're tired of listening to rap song ringtones and mindless chatter all the while the movie's playing, with your feet stuck in a congealing puddle of $6 soda -- you're never leaving the house just to see a movie, ever again.
7. A Written Check- When someone whips out a checkbook at the checkout line at the supermarket, what do you do? You'd be a mass murderer if you acted out every tenth fantasy you had about those people. It's going to seem so quaint, scratching out a little promise to pay people on a slip of paper, like a note from your mother, the bank.
7. (part B) Your Signature on Much of Anything. Never mind a check. With all the ways they have of identifying people, and the neverending cycle of identity theft and countermeasure, pretty soon you're just going to put your thumb on a pad, or your eye in a scanner, or wave your subdermal barcode thingie at something, and your transactions will be complete. I'd sell my stock in BIC pens, if I were you.
6. Paper Money - You know, adults never have any of that stuff on them, unless you're a drug dealer or a stripper. Or a congressman from Louisiana. It's the mark of the rube or the criminal already. And the laser printer/Treasury Department Mutual Assured Destruction countermeasure broadsides have been fun, but paper money is silly. And any government that collects more than half of what you make (that's all of them, as far as I can tell) isn't going to ignore forever the fact that tax collection is sometimes- how do I put this delicately?- overlooked in cash transactions.
5. The Post Office- God I hate the Post Office. You can almost separate the world into only two sorts of people: people that hate the Post Office, and people that love the Post Office. Let's round up the people that love it, and mail them to France, whaddya say? Let's send them UPS, so they'll get there, though. Nothing the Post Office does isn't being done better by other entities right now. That includes mass killings. Good riddance.
4. Wired anything - If you're of a certain age, you remember the first telephone you had that didn't have a cord. A little older, and you treasure the memory of the first phone you had that allowed you to leave your house and talk into it. You didn't care if the battery weighed forty-four pounds and lasted ten minutes. Don't get me started with getting out of your chair to turn the channel on your TV. No one's going to accept anything that needs to be plugged into anything alse pretty soon.
3. Light Bulbs - Edison, we loved you. But the time has come to stop burning a little wire really slowly in a glass bulb to see what the hell we're doing after the sun goes down. And don't give me any of that compact flourescent crap either; we can find better ways to illuminate things than exciting rare gases in a gossamer glass tube. That's rationed whale oil thinking. LED's, anyone?
2.Telephone Poles -There's nothing more ubiquitous, and nothing uglier, on display everywhere you go than that endless phalanx of tarred tree boles with wires strung from them. The idea of getting your electricity from some smoke belching factory via four hundred miles of copper wires, and getting telephone service brought from even further, all so you can plug a cordless phone into the end of it is going to seem as bizarre as it is, and soon. Power generation will be local, or even better: on-site at every house, and everything will be beamed to you. Power outages will seem quaint.
1. Newspapers - You're reading this, ain't ya?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Learning To Learn



My wife teaches our two sons at home. It is a great deal of work, of course, but she likes doing it.

If you remove all the wasted time out of a public school's school day, there might be three hours or so of education in it. I think I'm being generous there; I think sometimes there isn't any. It's all folderol and riding a cold bus. My son's friends all have school-issued laptops, and they all fart around on Facebook and play Age of Empires on them during their classes. My son works when it's time for school, and plays when it's not. Actually, he likes to do his assigned schoolwork a day early. Then he learns other things that interest him.

Technically, I'm his, and his little brother's, music teacher. But in reality, he's just his own music teacher. He has learned how to learn -- the only important thing in this life.

I hear him up in his room playing these days, and I can't tell if it's him or the recording he's learning anymore. I have to go up and ask. When he was done with Tuesday's Physics homework on Monday night, he wanted to learn a new song, and did. If you have an Internet connection, you can learn anything. Or you can idle your time away. I heard music yesterday morning and had to go see if it was him. It was.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

So You Want To Be A Landlord



This is going to sound outrageous, but here goes: I've seen a lot worse.

I renovated things of one sort or another for a living for a long time.  That rental house was no picnic, don't get me wrong, but there were no corpses left in it for a while. You never forget that smell, no matter how long you live, believe you me.

I've painted apartments that were occupied by people who did nothing but smoke cigarettes for thirty years, never cleaned. We had to scrape and peel the resin off the walls with a drywall knife. It peeled off in big sheets, like nicotine wallpaper. I've seen animals slaughtered for a ritual and thrown under a bed. Straight-up hoarders barely merit a mention. Neatly stacked newsprint and egg cartons are a breeze to lug out, no matter how much of it there is.

Back to the subject at hand. It's plenty bad. Why would anyone act like that?

I'm going to rule out "crazy." The term is entirely misused these days. I'll accept that the person in the house was "acting crazy," but acting crazy isn't the same as being crazy. You'll notice that the person was obviously fastidious about their own clothes, hanging neatly in the closet. They were fussy about what they were eating, after a fashion. A truly insane person would eat sand or the shrubs, and be as likely to wear a trash bag as a turtleneck. They'd listen to the moonmen through their molar fillings, not watch cable TV. The person in the house was acting badly, and knew it, but didn't care anymore. We call any kid that fidgets in class autistic nowadays, so I'm sure there will be a lot of takers to explain that house as mental illness, but like I said: I'm not buying.

The person went feral. Back into a state of nature. It's the hunter-gatherer Eden ruined by Western Civilization that we're told we need to go back to that's on display here. She was living off the land. When the land is covered with stripmalls, pizza and Diet Pepsi represents the nuts and berries. She grazed, and discarded the hulls right where she stood, just like all our neolithic ancestors might. Slept in a nest. Pooped in one spot. When finally challenged for possession of her particular midden, located by the sylvan glade of Pizza Hut and the 7-11, by a member of a more prominent tribe -- the landlords -- she went off to make a nest somewhere else.

She wasn't crazy. The landlord's crazy. He could be put in jail for allowing his tenants to live in squalor. His jailer would pay that woman to live like that. The world is like that now.

She knew someone else would have to clean it up, and that she'd move on to a new paradise. This is civilization, when the veneer is stripped off, and the particle board shows. 


Monday, February 06, 2012

I've Got A Hankerin' For Some Hungarian Rockabilly



Spot-on stuff. Simple. Direct. Charming. Peppy. I wonder; would it be easier to find such a thing in the United States, or elsewhere? These people are from Hungary. Budapest is certainly "elsewhere." The US has an enormous appetite for nostalgia, of course, but it's usually heavily ladled with hipster sauce -- a desire to resurrect it because it's dreadful. I don't see that here. They love it, so they copy it as best they can. The Tom Stormy Trio is the band. Rhythm Sophie is the singer. The translation on her webpage is too charmingly off-kilter not to offer here:
Miss Rhythm Sophie, red hot rhythm and blues chirp of Budapest, Hungary, the most exciting young singer on the scene, singin' the original 40's - 50's style rhythm and blues and rock and roll. It didn't take a long time for her to became well-known of her fantastic voice and style, now she's touring in the country all the time, as well as all over Europe sometimes (she toured Croatia, Romania, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands successfully), making radio and TV appearences regularly, and recording excellent stuff from time to time. She's a very versatile person, she can get you in the mood of the smoky bars of the 1920's when she sings the blues only with a guitarist or a piano player; or she can make you scream and shout and have a ball when she sings them jumpin' rhythm and blues things with her combo. She even sings gospel, country and western or sometimes rock-a-billy as well.

Be-Bop-A-Leopold The Second. Hey kids -- rock on!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bin Laden; Joe Biden; Whatever

People ask us why we homeschool our children. They are very blunt about worrying aloud that our children won't be educated properly if we don't send them to school. Yeah; about that.




Cute kids. It's important to take into account that people asking questions that appear to be looking for a goofy response often get one regardless of whether a more serious inquiry might yield more serious results. Then again, there's currently a girl on my son's Facebook page informing the world that she's been accepted to "four collages." Any videographer should essentially be unable to find enough wrong answers to even make a lighthearted video of this nature at the high school level.

The American public educational system is the most expensive undertaking in the history of humanity. It costs $525,000,000,000 a year just for elementary and high school education, according to the Department of Education. Since they can't add, and are prone to obfuscating and outright fibbing, I imagine it's a lot higher than that. Hmm:

NOTE: Beginning in 1980-81, state administration expenditures are excluded from "current" expenditures. Current expenditures include instruction, student support services, food services and enterprise operations. Beginning in 1988-89, extensive changes were made in the data collection procedures.
  
So more is being spent and they don't feel like counting it. You decide if that's confusion, obfuscation, or fibbing. I'm still trying to figure out if riding the bus is included in the gargantuan number. 55 percent of students ride the bus, and it costs $854 per pupil per year to cart them around. That's over 23 billion dollars a year just to run public school buses and buy tram tickets.

If you had to write one big check for the whole twelve years of public education of the 88 percent or so of the entire population of the United States that doesn't (or didn't) go to private schools, at 2011 rates of $10,441 per person per year, it would be a check for thirty-three trillion, eight hundred forty-eight billion, eight hundred eighty-six million dollars.

I used twelve years, as even though some people drop out early, they're more than offset by the amount of years that are nailed on the front of an education now. "Pre-kindergarten" is mentioned in the figures. If they keep adding years of education, they'll be screaming into your fontanel through your mom's belly button. What they'll be screaming will not be of a factual nature, apparently, though.

Are we getting our money's worth? You tell me. I haven't made many purchases of 33 trillion dollars lately to compare it to. You might be a rich swell that leaves Krugerrands in the leave a penny take a penny dish at the Kwik-E-Mart, but I don't think I'd write that fourteen-figure check just to qualify my fellow citizens to struggle over the last unturned letter on Wheel of Fortune. Do you think one out of a hundred of those kids could even do the math from the last few paragraphs on a piece of paper? I was told there'd be no math on this exam. Until after collage, anyway.

I asked my teenager the questions. He got Biden's first name wrong, and rattled off the rest, of course, while he looked at me funny. He never took his eyes off the video game he was playing while answering, but I swear that somehow he still managed to look at me funny. Does someone not know this stuff?  I asked my eight-year-old the questions. He's never heard of Joe Biden, which is no great loss, but he answered almost all the questions correctly. But then again, how many of those kids in the video can do President math?

In my opinion, public school is not a serious place, so we don't send our children there. It just costs a lot of money, and so is made to seem more important than it is by its very size. But for all its faults, the public school system is at least producing kids that know how to make moderately amusing YouTube videos. That's a growth industry, I hear. I sure hope it accounts for thirty-three trillion dollars of future tax receipts. I am plagued with doubt.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Don Cornelius Just Dropped In To See What Condition St. Peter's Condition Was In


(The Dap Kings homage to Soul Train)


Don Cornelius, the boffo baritone boss of Soul Train, died by his own hand yesterday.

Back in the day, I always enjoyed Soul Train. It was dumb fun, the best kind, and it always had the musicians I wanted to see perform. Guys like Cornelius seem inconsequential when you see them for a few awkward moments worrying a tepid response from an entertainer with a vacuous question, but of course his job wasn't to form penetrating questions and elicit deep responses. It was to be a tastemaker, a style setter, a host -- an impresario.

An impresario (from Italian: impresa, meaning "an enterprise or undertaking") is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business. The origin of the term is to be found in the social and economic world of Italian opera, where from the mid-18th century to the 1830s, the impresario was the key figure in the organization of a lyric season. The owners of the theatre, usually noble amateurs, charged the impresario with hiring a composer, for until the 1850s operas on stage were expected to be new, as well as gathering the necessary costumes, sets, orchestra, and singers, all while assuming considerable financial risks. In 1786 Mozart satirized the stress and emotional mayhem in a single-act farce Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario). Antonio Vivaldi was unusual in acting as impresario as well as composer: in 1714 he managed seasons at Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice, where his opera Orlando finto pazzo was followed by numerous others.

Many impresarios went bankrupt, some more than once; thus, a mercantile background and a gambler's instincts were useful. Alessandro Lanari (1787–1852) began as the owner of a shop that produced costumes, eliminating the middleman in a series of successful seasons he produced for the Teatro La Pergola, Florence, which saw premieres of the first version of Verdi's Macbeth, two of Bellini's operas and five of Donizetti's, including Lucia di Lammermoor. Domenico Barbaia (1778–1841) began as a café waiter and made a fortune at La Scala in Milan, where he was also in charge of the gambling operation and introduced roulette. Wikipedia
My readers might be amused to hear me compare him to Ed Sullivan, but they were very much alike. Someone had to get the Beatles' manager on the phone. Someone had to put up the money to put the Beatles on TV. Someone had to know whether it's worth it to put the Beatles on the TV instead of Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Don Cornelius did the same sort of thing; he got on the horn and got James Brown and The Staples Singers and Al Green and Honey Cone and, well, look at the list.

Goodbye, Don. It was a wonderful "enterprise or undertaking."

Not going anywhere for a while?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Exacto Mundo



Back to the cobblers we go. Italian this time.

They're crummy shoes of course; could you imagine shoveling snow with those on? Ridiculous. But then again, who ever heard of an Italian cobbler?