You Kids Have No Idea How Easy You Have It…

I know, I know… it sounds like something an old man would say.

When I was in high school and my mom lived in Ann Arbor Michigan and my father lived in South Bend Indiana, I often went back and forth on the train. I brought a bag full of stuff and that was it. Books and tapes and a portable tape recorder to make tapes for my friend Alan.

There were times however when I would stay for several weeks at a time in the summer.

I needed my music if I was going to be there for more than a week. I had to pack all of my stereo equipment into the back of the car.

I found this picture of one of my home stereo rigs from back in the day. I think I have posted this before but it bears showing again. First of all look at that TV and how big the opening for it is in that entertainment center. Joke. This picture is from later years as is evidenced by the CD player. That is the far right black VCR sized box on top of the receiver. Yeah. It was that big.

So, the entire back seat of the car was packed with my giant speakers, the record player, the receiver and tape deck. When we got to the halfway point, I moved it all from the back seat of moms car to the back seat of dads car. Then when I got to dads place I unpacked it all and carried it up the stairs to the second story apartment and spent an hour setting it all up again. I got really good at marking which cord went to which component.

When dad was at work, I would politely (sigh… apartment living) crank it up and jam to “Rush – Moving Pictures”, a variety of Beatles albums, The Cars, Cheap Trick and whatever I could fit in one wooden crate. Half of it I never even played, but I needed it all at my fingertips just in case.

That was before I even owned a boombox.

It was a pain, but the thought of being without my music for an extended period was a deal breaker and everyone knew it. This was just the norm.

It makes me laugh now when I think back on it. The sheer size and amount of equipment. Now I would just bring my external hard drive and my laptop… or just stream Spotify or Mixcloud to an external portable speaker.

And all that would fit in my backpack, not the backseat of a car.


Man, who knew?

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A Star Is Born – (Redux?)

I have an interesting and special history with the Streisand/Kristofferson album “A Star Is Born”. It was one on my first dubbed albums when I was a kid, becoming one of the first albums I would play on my portable tape player when I went to bed.

Pretty sure I have my mother to thank for this album being in the house. She was the Streisand fan. Thanks mom!

I bought it on vinyl again a few years ago:

and listened to it a couple of times. A bit dated, but it is so imprinted on me that I will always have a soft spot for it. And… it has been remade. Yes. I am now that old.

This time with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

We have tickets to see it tonight. I’m excited to see what they do to it. I have total faith in Lady Gaga, but Bradley Cooper reprising the Kristofferson role should be interesting. I can only seem to see him as the dude from The Hangover. So let’s see if he has the chops. Kristofferson doing “Hellacious Acres” was a favorite from back then. I doubt they will be telling the story exactly the same way. We shall see…

I’ll report back after the movie.


Okay. The story is the same but of course completely different. I guess I should have expected that.

Lady Gaga did great. A singer with a big nose. Well played movie makers.

The biggest surprise was Bradley Cooper playing a mush mouthed drunk with a light in his eye for the love and talent in Lady Gaga. I believed it. He pulled it off. The whole movie worked.

Of course there is a different but similar story to Barbara and Kris’s story, but it was well done. Though for the life of me I can’t recall the end of their movie. May have to find and watch that on again.

Lady Gaga whom I have always considered talented, though maybe not my style, shined and just like when I finally saw Purple Rain and realized what a talent Prince was, I can certainly see the talent beneath the meat suit now. When the two of them were onstage performing it was awesome.

The film is actually (shock) the 4th version of the original 1937 film and directed (his first) by Cooper. It was originally supposed to be a Clint Eastwood film with Beyonce as the lead.

That would have been… different.

Brad and Lady Gaga get thumbs up from me for this film.

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The Aural Retentive’s Guide To David Bowie’s Studio Albums (with Extras)

Here is an actual text exchange with my friend Josh.

Of course that got me thinking about how to actually accomplish this.

I remember one day when a friend of mine made me sit down and listen to Hendrix doing The Star Spangled Banner from Woodstock. I didn’t care for it then, probably because he wanted me to so bad. Seemed gimmicky to me and a lot of noise. Years later I would come to LOVE Hendrix and realize how great he did everything in that Woodstock show, particularly The Star Spangled Banner, but I had to get there on my own.

So how to gently offer up all of David Bowie’s studio work? I definitely sense that there would be bad places to start if you just randomly picked.

But at the same time, the Hendrix situation looms large in my psyche.

The only solution I could come up with was a list of all the albums and a ranking of them by me with notes and let him wade in himself.

I got the list of studio albums from Wiki:

but that even posed issues. Do you include Tin Machine? What about soundtracks? Live albums? Compilations? I discovered that “The Buddha Of Suburbia” was classified as a Soundtrack though it really wasn’t and that there were some I wanted to include that were not considered studio albums. So the process of just using studio albums was imperfect, but in the end, seemed most appropriate.

Then I ranked them on a 1 -3 scale, gave them a time grouping and added some notes. The whole process took a while as I debated the rankings. I tried to ride the line between what I personally thought the ranking should be and what a “new to Bowie” (though who really is?) listener might warm to first.

I also decided I must include some essential non-studio items that I would add to an “Extras” folder. Things like some of the live albums, ChangesOne (where I recommend he start), Sound And Vision I, II, and III, and also Bowie doing Peter and The Wolf that he could share with Emerson.

So… for better or worse, here is my Bowie list. I confess that there are portions of this list that may be compromised by the time and place that I first heard these albums, and if done again in 10 years may be ranked differently.

Bowie Albums Listening Guide by The Aural Retentive:


This includes the Extras that I recommend. Remember, this is for the casual listener. Otherwise I would have included a lot of other things, like “The Absolute Beginners” EP, the Live Aid performance, “Labyrinth” Soundtrack?…

I’m delivering this to Josh on Monday. Spoiler alert Josh if you’re reading this.

Is it some sort of sacrilege if I deliver it on a Paul Stanley flash drive?

Star Child meets Star Man?

Good luck Josh. Take it slow with an open mind and this Paul Stanley flash drive could ch ch-ch-change you forever.

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The Future Is Now! Or Soon Anyway.

I am usually the last one in line for new technology. I’m the guy who refuses to update his apps on his computer unless forced to and I’m also the guy who refuses to get a personal Facebook. No way dude.

I am beginning to change my perspective a bit.

Now don’t get me wrong… I will never be the guy waiting in line to get the next I-Phone, but when it comes to music, I do tend to get interested.

I bought a Juke when they were hot because they played music.

Even so, I resisted the urge to get a Smartphone for a ridiculously long time. Now that I have one and I can play Mixcloud or Spotify or YouTube or Podcasts on it, I wonder how I ever lived without it. The ability to think of a song and tell my phone to play it is I’ll admit… a thing.

Drifting off to sleep and want some sound system or dub music to play you out? Driving and want to listen to a Podcast to pass the time? Talk to your phone.

I haven’t yet reached Alexa stage, I still just talk to my phone, but I did see something the other day that I think I would stand in line for.

A music butler! I mean a robot.

Saw this advertised on Spotify and I had to check it out.

This photo kind of says it all, right? Minimalist setting. Happy dancing child. Grandma looking on from the face of Temi. Is that a bookcase? Futuristic building in view outside. This is the future. Looks like in the future kids still leave toys everywhere.

Just like the time I held out against getting a smart phone and now can’t live without it, I recognize this will be everywhere in a decade. Well, when they get the price down. It runs $1500 currently. Too steep for my wallet, but this one is cute and functional and vaguely like the whimsical Sheldon Virtual Presence Device from Big Bang Theory.

Less the shirt.

This is happening.

I’ve read enough Asimov to know that this kind of robot is the first wave. The ones before the ones that will malfunction and kill us all. So why not get on board now. I bet this could carry my entire music collection and follow me around just waiting for me to call out a tune.

“Jeeves…” that’s what I would call it “… play Working Man by Rush.”

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Joey Ramone Look Alike

Any resemblance to actual people blah blah blah…

It is with great humility that I offer this photo of me. To be fair we were goofing. Alan and I were taking pictures in the photo booth at the K-Mart that existed between our 2 apartment complexes. We often wandered in there like 2 lost teenagers. This was the excitement we found.

I came across this and a couple other photo strips that I think I made to send to him after he moved away, but never did.

First, the Joey Ramone shot. Again, I remind you we were goofing.

but yes, that was my real hair.

For comparison, the real Joey Ramone.

Okay his hair is longer, but you can see the comparison is not that far out there.

If I had had any idea who Joey Ramone was I could pass this off as rebellious and counter culture-ish… but the sad truth is I didn’t know of him and clearly I was just not so much into style. Pretty sure that shirt was one of my uncle’s shirts. Thank your lucky stars the picture isn’t in color.

The other strip contains a more serious haircut and stern face and I include it strictly to showcase the tuxedo t-shirt that I had from renting a tux for the Junior High Prom to which (shockingly) I went alone. The t-shirt though went on to have a life of it’s own beyond Junior High.

Could these glasses be even worse? I think so. At least I lost the Joey Ramone look. Thank goodness for small favors.

Now go wash out your eyes.

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The CD Giveaway Game Pt. 2

I thought I had posted this a while ago, but discovered it in my drafts. This happened a few months ago…

Yeah, so after gathering a lot of CD’s from the Library that they were giving away for free, culling their collection in preparation for moving in the coming year, or years, it’s a long story, I realized I had accumulated a sizable pile. I had been down this road before and had no intention of keeping them all. So I ripped them all, sorted out the few to keep physically, and the rest I boxed up and took in to work as I have done in the past.

I put them out on the “plaza” table with a sign.

There was a real odd collection of stuff. I figured they would go as well as last time at least.

Here is what it looked like by the end of the day. From about 45 or so CD’s to only 15.

I straightened the pile and kept my eye on it throughout the week. Eventually it got down to just these.

Not bad.

This is what a bunch of System Analysts won’t take home. Pete Tong – Essential Mix, Underworld – Beaucoup Fish and Guided By Voices – Isolation Drills. To be fair, Otis might have taken the Guided By Voices, but he probably already had it.

Someone got the King Missile CD that had come from the famous Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. I wasn’t really sure how this and another King Missile CD ended up at the library, but I was happy to pass them on.

even though this one was from the “clearance bin”. It’s kind of cool knowing it traveled across most of America. Well, 2/3 of the way?

I’m glad it played okay. It’s a long way to L.A.

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Tyrol Basin Scene Report Plus The Blues

Joe joined the snowboard team at school. Previous snowboard experience?… almost none. Some plastic play snowboards at the water tower hill in town (affectionately known as kill hill) and I think some playing around on a friend’s snowboard but not on a real hill.

Joe long boards and I didn’t think it was a huge stretch (I’m sure there are those that would say they are whole different worlds) and when he expressed an interest in joining the team, I knew it was gonna be a huge start up cost, but… at least at the end of the season, you keep your gear. So, we discussed and the whole setup became Christmas for Joe.

Boots, bindings, helmet, board, goggles, face mask, coat, snow pants. Everything a growing snowboarder needs.

He has gone twice now. Once with a friend and once with the team. Today I brought him on a Saturday for some more practice.

I watched him go up for his first run on a hill that is pretty much all in view while he was getting his sea legs.

Then after one further run, he announced he was hitting the chair lift. The end of observation time. Unless I could put one of those 1970 bike flags on him, there is virtually no way to know if the blob you are watching come down the hill is your kid or not. 90% of them have the same coat or helmet and casual observation is virtually impossible.

He did send me this chair lift selfie.

Reminder to self. Next year bright yellow snow pants or some bright colored coat.

I knew what I was getting into when I told him I would bring him here. So… to the café/lounge I went.

I brought all manner of entertainment.

Book, laptop, headphones and The Blues.

I heard The Blues on the background while at Alan’s, but hadn’t yet had a chance to really really listen to it. To listen to the painstaking transitions that Alan produced as he crafted the separate Big Bill vocals with the songs he introduced. I have to say that if he had just given me a copy of this I would never have known this was pieced together.

As I write this I hear the intro from Big Bill to the “Sunnyland Slim – Tired But I Can’t Get Started” cut that I converted for Alan and sent to him for his mystery project.

It occurred to me that I blogged about it unknowingly back then. Here is the post:

So cool to finally hear the full finished product. The amount of work that went into this is kind of staggering when you think about it. Particularly from someone just learning editing and Audacity and such. Hats of to you Alan. A masterpiece of sound, on top of what the actual recording means to us.

That number again is 337-5252. I SURE got the blues this mornin’. Now come on.

As I sit and listen to this I am warm, I have power and internet, a chair and table to work on and a great view of some of the hills.

Can’t complain. I can see the skiers and boarders,

but alas, will likely never know which one is Joe. I texted him that I was upstairs in the café and he texted back “Alright. Thanks for the heads up.” He has his phone with him. His helmet has speakers in it. Ah… technology.

I should put my knock off go pro on his helmet. !! That would be awesome for his races. Hmm….


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