Monday, April 23, 2012

The Art Of Analog

Larry Mullen Jr on cover of "Desire"
Adam Clayton on cover of "Angel of Harlem"
Adam Clayton on cover of "Where The Streets Have No Name"
The Edge on cover of "With Or Without You"

As I was organizing some of my music the other day, I found stashed amongst all the other 45rpm records these four U2 singles from the Joshua Tree/Rattle and Hum era.  Back then, record companies released singles from albums and I had been a big U2 fan for as long as I can remember, so I got just about anything U2 put out.  Not that I've forgotten these songs -- in fact, I listen to the Joshua Tree album just about every time I drive through the California desert.  However, what I'd forgotten is the fact that these Anton Corbijn photographs of the band at the time were just phenomenal.  A Dutch photographer shooting an Irish band in the California desert!  These days, anyone can find any of these single releases on mp3 off Amazon or iTunes.  However, forever lost is the art of the 7" sleeves that is effectively a blank canvas for the artist.  Digital music had replaced the physical paper and vinyl that I spent $5 for each of these items.  Although vinyl seems to be making a comeback, I seriously doubt record companies are willing to put up the money to pay someone like Anton Corbijn for his images to be put on the sleeve of a single containing just two songs.  The return on investment is just not there.  In the meantime, I treasure these images that most younger U2 fans will never get to appreciate.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Marley (2012)

I have to say, I was a bit hesitant on taking the kids to a documentary film.  But Sam had been listening to Bob Marley for as long as I can remember and of course, JJ, absorbs the music as well just by being around us.  But this is a wonderful story about a man who simply wants happiness and basically, mankind to become one.  Like most, I am very familiar with his music, somewhat aware of his politics but knew little about his personality.  This movie by Kevin McDonald changed all that.  This movie is about a man who lived a rich life, not in the traditional sense -- but rich in music, rich in meaning and sense of purpose (and rich in mind-altering weed as well).  If anything, I can only hope my kids got a little bit of that as well from watching over 2 hours of a great story told with the ommi-present soundtrack of reggae music.  The first Bob Marley song I ever heard when they played "Jamming" on the radio way back in the Philippines in the 70s.  I can still remember the beat as hypnotic.  As a side note, I'm really glad, Laemmle Theaters opened in Claremont. I took for granted the art houses living on the westside and in Pasadena.  Since Marley is a limited release, I would otherwise had to drive over 40 miles just to see the documentary.  Instead, the kids and I enjoyed some Earth Day celebration music around Claremont Village just prior to watching the movie.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Photoshoot 2009

This was taken during a family photoshoot at the Pasadena City Hall grounds in May 2009.  I had restored Maura's Trek to its previous racing condition and we took several portraits with her favorite ride.  The seat, the handlebars, brakes levers -- everything is exactly the way it fit her when she last rode in it.  She owned 3 Trek road bikes the entire time I knew her but this platinum Trek 5500 was one of the first carbon fiber of the OCLV design.  The Spinergy carbon wheels were the first generation wheels back in 1994 as well.  Of all the things she owned, this one, I guess meant the most.  I can't even count the number of times I've disassembled, cleaned and reassembled this bike during her racing season.  She was the racer, I was the mechanic.  Someday, when the kids are tall enough, they can take it for a nice spin around town.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Intonation, Action and Playability

Setting up a guitar for the proper intonation, action and overall playability is one of the most frustrating experiences I have with electric guitars.  With acoustics, I didn't have to bother with it that much since I am usually pretty happy with the configuration of the instrument coming out of the store.  With electrics, however, there is the do-it-yourself aspect of Fender guitars in particular where a tinkerer like yours truly can swap necks, bodies, pickups, bridges, etc.  And of course with each hot rodding or modification, the guitar setup is the final indication whether I'm going to be happy with the final product.  So when I bought the Fender Marauder, it did come with this card from the factory indicating the precise setup at the 1st and 12th frets for strings 1 and 6.  There's got to be process in the factory where they can train anyone to setup any electric guitar.  Anyway, I do not intend to mess with the Marauder anytime soon.  It plays fine the way it is.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jackson Pollock Note

I had bought this used book at Rhino Records in Claremont and is basically a collection of images from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art about "Artists In Their Studios".  Jackson Pollock's basic message is that technique is a result of a certain needs amongst practicing artists.  For some reason, I do find this statement very representative of that way he practiced his art.  Innovation, in many areas of everyday life, is typically a result of a need to solve a particular problem or in the case of art, the need to make a statement.  Several key words jump out that define Pollock the artist as we know from his brief life -- total control, organic intensity, human needs, acceptance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Through Easter And Heading Into Memorial Day Weekend

I got this poinsettia at the grocery a few days before Christmas last year and if I remember right, this is the longest I've kept one.  I'm the worst person when it comes to houseplants -- I can kill a cactus just by looking at it but not this one.  In fact, I did notice a couple sprouts near the bottom so if anything, it's seems to be thriving.  Is it the lighting in the kitchen?  Or maybe it's the humidity.  Whatever it is, I'm determined to keep this one all through December.  

What's Inside The Briefcase?

I've only seen it once before on VHS years ago.  I vividly remember renting a copy at Star Video on Washington Blvd in Pasadena, watching it and there were several lasting moments in the movie -- Travolta and Thurman dancing, for one.  The kids had seen a couple other Tarantino flicks (like Reservoir Dogs and Death Proof) but Pulp Fiction is probably a bit over the top for them.  Maybe in couple years, I'll reconsider.  Anyway, tonight was a night I decided I was going to buy a Blue Ray copy of Pulp Fiction and watch it from start to finish.  My (second) first impression is that this movie has a really excellent soundtrack -- from Misirlou to Surf Rider to Son of A Preacher Man.  In fact, as soon as the movie ended, I ordered the soundtrack on CD.  Except, I had completely forgotten that I have all the tracks on mp3; yeah, it's been that long since I really paid attention to this movie.  Also, I don't ever remember that this one has an all-star cast -- literally Kietel, Willis, Walken, etc.  But what I don't remember at all is that the contents of the briefcase was never known to this day.  Of course, that's what makes Tarantino a great artist.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Value of Video Games

I usually complain about the kids playing too much video games.  Usually.  In 2008, we got Guitar Hero for the XBox 360 and both kids played it endlessly it seemed.  They got exposed to bands like Muse and Rise Against.  Within a year, they both started taking guitar lessons at Pasadena City College.  Fast forward to last week, 2012. After his Friday lessons at Alta Loma Music, JJ's teacher asked him if he's interested in participating in a bass contest impromptu.  He learned a blues shuffle just minutes earlier and after much encouragement from me and from his teacher, he agreed.  Stood there in front of the audience and played bass to a rhythm track for a few minutes.  Would he have taken to playing music if he was not exposed to Guitar Hero?  In two weeks, him and Sam (playing drums) perform together at a student recital.  Something to keep them busy over the summer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dining Room, Pasadena, 2004

I bought the Canon 20D SLR in September 2004 and this is one of the first pictures I ever took with it.  Playing around with the sepia tone settings of the camera and manual focus, I ended up with this blurry photo of the dining room of our Pasadena home, with a very faint outline of the wall that separates it from the living room.  I can still make out every item from the dining room in spite of the lack of focus.  I guess, you live with something for so long, you don't need full clarity to vision to identify the familiar.  From the topiary on top of the dining table to the wall paintings to the light fixture to the curtains, these objects are forever burned into my memory no matter how distant they may seem, almost eight years later.  What we photograph as ordinary on a certain time and day, may actually serve as a lasting reminder of a slice of life.  Literally, a snapshot.  A reminder.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Case For More Space

I did this collage in 2008 when we were just busting at the seam  in the Pasadena house.  This was my studio/library/storage at the time.  Books, CD, guitars, canvas, artwork, photographs, easel, dry cleaning, computer, vinyl albums.  Name it, it was in my room.  I did the 360 deg collage which somewhat shows the chaos of the tiny room, about a 12 ft x 12 ft bedroom.  What was weird about existing in this chaos was after a while, I was able to find anything I ever wanted.  I knew exactly where I had put a CD or a photograph or a book -- which I think for the most part, is our ability to adapt to conditions of disorder.  I knew at some point, that this bedroom had to be cleared in order to make room for either Sam or JJ, who were sharing a room at the time.  Thankfully,  we got more house in Rancho Cucamonga.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pali Science Camper

Three days in the San Bernardino mountains and the kid is pretty tired.  He was napping when I got home from work and will probably be unproductive at school in the next couple days.  I just don't understand why they don't schedule these camps later in the week so the kids have the entire weekend to recover.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Guitar Rooms, A Brief History

For over 3 years, I've resisted converting this only spare bedroom (downstairs) into a music room -- until last week.  I order 4 wall hangers for my electrics and have 4 more on the way for the rest of the electrics.  Geographically, this room is also the farthest away from all the other rooms in the house.  In the event that I want to blast the amps to 10 late at night, I won't bother anyone else in the house.  Ok, the neighbor to the south is only 20 feet away but I don't crank it up to 10 anyway.  Speaking of music room, I found this old photo (below) back in the day when we lived in that tiny apartment in Santa Monica.
I don't quite remember the year but that Jasmine guitar is my first nice acoustic guitar -- Maura was "kind" enough to let me buy it as a first wedding anniversary present.  Also, note the cassette tapes against the wall along with a minimum number of compact discs -- and a massive cathode ray tube computer screen.  The two-bedroom apartment was a bedroom and a music/bike room.
In between the current Rancho Cucamonga and the Santa Monica guitar rooms, is the Pasadena guitar room.  First thing to note is the overflowing CDs on some racks I built, along with another dreadnought and nylon string acoustics.  The nicer Taylor acoustics don't really get to spent too much time outside the case -- only when they're being played.  The Pasadena guitar room was also the art studio, ironing room, the storage room and the library.  This room has the most stuff per cubic space and was just overflowing by late 2008, when we finally moved to Rancho Cucamonga.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Returning To The City

Four days in San Francisco is the first vacation planned for the year.  I basically already paid for 3 nights at Fisherman's Wharf starting the Thursday after school ends and returning Sunday, just before Memorial Day.  I took the kids there there for the first time in 2010 and they just enjoyed everything we did from Alcatraz to Golden Gate Bridge to riding the cable cars and even a short (but sweet) visit to SFMOMA.  It's interesting how they wanted to do the same things -- which obviously, they didn't get enough of the first time.  Also just considering bringing our bikes this time around as well since it helps getting around, except maybe for the hills.  Also, considering taking them to Berkeley and Marin County but if they're all for just hanging out, that's just fine by me as well.  It's also Sam's last summer before entering Los Osos High School in several short weeks, so I want to make it somewhat memorable.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Guitars, Cars, Watches, Wine & The Deluxe Life"

That's what the top corner of this new publication (I recently discovered) states.  I'm into 60% of what's listed (guitars, cars, wine), maybe on 20% (deluxe life) and no on 20% (watches).  Nonetheless, that makes me a target reader demographic and definitely, a potential subscriber.  The coverage is mostly guitars, cars next and the remainder, everything else.  I hear about the death of printed media all the time but with some creativity of content, publishers can find a market for magazines like Guitar Aficionado, which merges multiple interests into a single magazine.  Personally, it would have been even better if they replace "watches" with "bicycles".