Saturday, November 27, 2010

The grass is NOT always greener on the other side...

You know, us normal peons often times look at all the super famous and successful musicians, actors and other creative people in the news, radio and airwaves and think they have the idealic, perfect, to be envied lives for sure. We see them traveling the world, playing their music in these huge venues, in front of thousands of adoring fans all the time. We see them making movies that bring in millions of dollars from the public, of which they get huge shares of wealth and think Wow! How cool is that?

Well, there are untold, unimaginably difficult concessions that come with those seemingly perfect life styles, to say the least. First of all, in the vast majority of cases, they've worked their whole lives super hard to achieve the skills necessary to make all that happen. Most of the super great musicians and movie stars started on their perspective career goals very early in life, if not when they were just children.

Just a few examples off the top of my feeble noggin. Let me get personal, just for a moment. I've been a musician basically my whole life and it's far from what it's all cracked up to be to most people. In my youth, I had a full time job during the day in Sacramento California and was in a "house band" 4 nights a week at a smoky bar in a town about thirty miles away in Davis California. My "Day gig" was a 9 to 5 affair and the night gig started at 9:00 P.M. at night and ended at 2:00 A.M.

So.........get off work around 5:00 P.M., go home to a quick dinner, say hi to everyone with phony smiles , change cloths and off I went into the night, not to be seen by my family until the next mornings few minutes before leaving for the day gig. Can you imagine how much quality time that left for normal life with family. To my family of that time in my life, I was just this guy who zoomed in and out of their lives, giving very little of myself indeed, to say the least.

I watched a special on Willie Nelson one time a few years ago where it told of him doing something like 157 different venues a year at that time of his career. OK............stop and give that some serious thought for a moment. That meant he and his entire entourage pulled up to a completely new town, got off the bus, unloaded the incredible amount of equipment necessary to do the concert. Then set it all up in a perfect, precise way to do the concert that night. Then they had to go on stage in front of thousands of fans and pretend that the fans were the most important things in their lives, not matter how bad they might feel. Headache? Arthritis? Hangovers? Screw those details. Doesn't matter. Put on the show, come hell or high water folks..

Being in the business so long, I have a very good friend that joined a group I was in when he was 16 years old. Had all of Jimmie Hendrix's material down pat. Note for note. From my day gig I used to get him false mustaches to make him appear old enough to play in the bars with us. A few years later he went off and became the lead guitar player in a very, very famous 60's rock band and played with them for years. Then he started his own band playing in the "Smooth Jazz" style. He's to this day very successful, traveling the world over, with a huge fan base.

Through these years, we talk once in a while about our lives and I've come to know just how hard his life style is often times. He also is one of the "traveling bands" that move from venue to venue pretty much year around. By the way, he has a home in Oregon with a wife and son. He told me once he sees them about once every three or so months. The truth is he gets to live in fancy hotels, eat in fancy restaurants but he's not home and not eating home made food, that's for sure. He just repeated to me the other day that he spends far, far too much time just handling the bookwork involved in such a large production. Uncle Sam drives him crazy with their demanding paperwork, just as he does all of us. He also told me once that I would be surprised at just how much money it costs to keep this enterprise on the road year around. So in reality, it's kind of amazing how relativity little is left over after paying Managers, Road Crews, other band members, hotel, food, travel expenses. That list is far to much for me to even imagine. I believe him when he says he doesn't get rich by any stretch of the imagination.

I remember a talk we had years ago where I was talking about how much I enjoyed working in my garden. He was very quiet for a while and then said "You know what? I should not complain with my life being so successful right now but I'm actually jealous of your talk of gardening. I have a beautiful house on a hill with landscaping galore but my gardening staff handles all that. I don't have any time at all to put my hands in the dirt and smell nature as you do". It was amazing. I almost found myself feeling a little sorry for him at that moment.

Well as your can clearly see, the "on the road again" phenomena is far from what we all thought it would be. Sure most of them make from very good to great money but in most cases have no regular life at all. In the Western music realm, the greats figured out years ago that they could just eliminate traveling all together. They created great halls and venues in Nashville Tennessee and just invite the public to come on down to their place. It worked beautifully and to this day, they all get to live at home, have great family lives and still enjoy their crafts.

So, as the title of this piece says "The grass is NOT always greener on the other side" at all. Looking out at the world of the rich and famous is not always what it's cut out to be. Probably the best example would be all the poor super famous, rich people who have committed suicide through the years with their flamboyant, crazy living or just done in using drugs to try a blunt their personal pains away.

Makes our plain, sometimes perceived boring lives pretty spectacular huh? So get out in your yard, stick your hands in the earth, smell the richness and be thankful for the wonderful lives you do have.

An update for ya.
In my zeal to talk about the down side of the artist world, I forgot that there are plenty of great artists who have wonderful lives and love every minute of their careers. So I have to add this little piece to complete the project.

Since putting up this Blog, my long time friend responded back with some reality checks that I feel are important.
First of all, he told me that all that "on the road" time was mainly when he was in the super successful 60's band, years ago. He's life was hectic 101 then. For years now though, he does enough concerts to keep it real and is home with his very loving family most of the time. One fact I do know is he is very proud father of his children, which are doing great. Of course that says something about him, now doesn't it.
Good job buddy. In my book, you made it!
I'm proud to say "I knew him when" and unashamedly use him as a bragging point in my life often........"^)


Right at the bottom of this posting is a "Comments" link. Click on it, follow the instructions and leave a comment about this post. You can use your name or make up one, by CLICKING INSIDE THE CIRCLE beside "Name/Url", or just leave your comment anonymously by CLICKING INSIDE THE CIRCLE beside "Anonymous".

I will receive an e-mail, OK it and then it will appear for others to view after they click on the comments link.

COME ON..........DO IT!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thoughtful, creative, loving, expressive presents....

Oh boy. Hallelujah. Whoopee. Christmas is right around the corner again. Can you believe how quickly that happens? Now all of us have to run out and buy well thought out, considerate, fanciful, imaginative, originative presents for our loved ones. Presents that perfectly match their every desire and secret wishes. Presents that show we, out of everyone on the planet know them to the bottom of their souls and hearts because we love them so deeply.

Add to all that the clear assumption at least by the department stories and most people whether they know it or not is that the amount of money spent is in direct correlation with how much we love and care about this person. If the stores had their way, when you asked their advise for a present, the first and most important question they would ask is "Well, lets see here. Tell me this. How much do you love and care for this person"? Same thing is true for choosing a casket for your loved ones who pass away but that's a whole other story to tell...

So...............I see myself as a pretty typical male and I'm telling you right now that us typical males are the worst present pickers in the entire universe and beyond. We have no clue whatsoever how to choose something special, creative and special, especially for our waaaaaaaaay better half's, much less the rest of our "loved ones". We never go to the type of stores that carry anything close to things our loved ones would actually love to have from us in the first place. If it's not at the auto parts store or hardware store, how in the hell are we supposed to find anything?

What's happened also through the years is all the old standbys that men used to be able to give (lucky bastards of yesterday) are all completely unacceptable in this new world we find ourselves in nowadays. Men used to be just fine with kitchen items for instance. more huh? That is now just a hint that they should just be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen cooking your meals while you set in the front room watching sports on the TV and having your nightly relaxing drink that we so clearly deserve after a hard day at the salt mines.

Now in my personal case and lots of others I'm sure, what used to be normal choices become less and less acceptable. My waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better half does not like jewelry at all! Can you imagine what that does to my gift giving potential? That's right. You heard me correctly. Not even earrings, bracelet's, watches, rings or necklaces. Nothing at all! Lets try collectibles. NOPE! She doesn't collect anything at all. We basically have no shelves at our home whatsoever to put nicknack's or collectibles of any kind on. Now, I have to say I'm the same on that front so that's cool with me but it sure takes a whole world of present material out of the picture, now doesn't it?

Here's another weird, odd thing about this whole subject also. In general, this whole "problem" of gift giving is only a problem for the giver. The receiver in this scenario usually is quite calm and not stingy at all. The receiver would be quite happy with just a small thoughtful present, even just a hand made card that shows the giver cares and thought about the receiver. The saying "It's the thought that counts" is so true it's amazing. Especially as we get older, there really is not much we actually need someone to get us. All we really want and expect is some show that they care/love us.

I don't think I'm giving out any kind of family secret here when I tell you that for years, I would call our daughter and ask "OK honey. It's time again. Tell me what to get Mom for her birthday/Christmas or anniversary". She most times had great ideas just off the top of her head and I got to take credit for being super cool on the gift giving front. I shamelessly used her very ample creativity relentlessly for years. I'm pretty sure my waaaaaaaaaaaay better half knew this secret all along or she does now for sure........."^)

My waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better half and I have finally and thankfully reached that point in life where we just choose something we both want for the house or life in general. The next and I think final stage of life would be the way some friends of ours in their late seventy's handle it. They don't even give any of those holidays a second thought at all. No gifts, no cards. Nothing. As far as they are concerned, they don't need to bother with that crap anymore at all. Not sure what I think about that but it is what it is.

OK, that's all the bullshit I can think of right now to add to this subject. Now, here's your assignment folks. Read the instructions below and put in the "comments" page your suggestions for presents for me and other men reading this to give our waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa better half's. Come on now. There has to be several people out of all the hundreds who regularly read this who have cool ideas and suggestions for creative, loving, expressive, thoughtful presents. Tell us about them........Pretty please. Save our asses......


Right at the bottom of this posting is a "Comments" link. Click on it, follow the instructions and leave a comment about this post. You can use your name or make up one, by CLICKING INSIDE THE CIRCLE beside "Name/Url", or just leave your comment anonymously by CLICKING INSIDE THE CIRCLE beside "Anonymous".

I will receive an e-mail, OK it and then it will appear for others to view after they click on the comments link.

COME ON..........DO IT!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hiding in plain sight.......

A guy I used to work with first introduced this interesting phenomena to me years ago. He called it an old Indian trick. Hiding things you don't want people to find right in plain sight. It's amazing how well this works for most anyone.

An example all men can relate to right off the bat would be...."Honey, where's the ketchup?". "It's in the fridge, where it belongs" Your much better half would respond. Now the man has been standing there with the fridge wide open for like 5 straight minutes now and can't find it. The trick of course is the damn bottle is right in the middle, on the top shelf right in the front of his eyes. He of course is looking around it completely missing it. He might even have moved it to one side to get a better view behind it.

One of the things that brought this up at this time for me is I finally got one of those antique Barber Poles for the shop. You know, the kind inside of a glass tube with a spinning red, white and blue thing inside. Now this is a very brightly lit up contraption, spinning around and around all the time. One would think this would stick out like a fart in an aqualung for all to immediately notice when they come through the door. Well, as you can imagine, not one customer so far has commented on it at all. I've had this shop for something like 14 years now with no plain as day, brightly lit Barber Pole hanging in plain sight.........ever........

Because I'm excited about this new purchase I'm wanted my entire career, I ask them if they notice anything in the shop brand new. Everyone of them look all around and around and say "Nope, nothing new here I see". When I point it out, they often times think it was there all along and are amazed when I tell them it's brand new on the wall. They swear it's been right there for years.

Upon some reflection it kind of makes sense that a Barber Pole inside a Barber Shop is so normal and expected that they don't see it at all. It just blends in with all the other Barber related crap on my walls.

I think it's pretty clear that we all go through life taking most things for granted and don't see the trees for the forest. Why would we care about one tree in an entire forest, even it that particular tree was somehow amazingly different and wonderful. So that tells me most of us are truly missing out on a ton of small but wonderful nuances of life without even knowing it.

So, we all probably should pay attention to one of those other great, wise and useful sayings.

Stop and smell the roses.

The key thought here would be the "stop" part. If we never stop or at least slow the hell down once in a while, we won't even know the damn roses are right in front of our faces, much less that they offer one hell of a nice sampling of pleasure for our olfactory senses.

So the next time you want to play a trick on someone or simply hide something well, just stick it right out there in plain sight. No one will ever find it....

Old Indian Trick.


Right at the bottom of this posting is a "Comments" link. Click on it, follow the instructions and leave a comment about this post. You can use your name or make up one, by CLICKING INSIDE THE CIRCLE beside "Name/Url", or just leave your comment anonymously by CLICKING INSIDE THE CIRCLE beside "Anonymous".

I will receive an e-mail, OK it and then it will appear for others to view after they click on the comments link.

COME ON..........DO IT!!!