Monday, August 27, 2007

Michael Vick Revisited

Today after his guilty plea, Michael Vick did what I think is the right thing: Took responsibility for his actions.

In this day and age, that is somewhat astounding. Instead of making a bunch of excuses, he apologized to his teammates, the team management, and most importantly, kids that might look at him as a role model.

He didn't seem to be trying to get out of whatever punishment will come his way, and mentioned that he had to work on "Michael Vick the person", not "Michael Vick the football player".

I can only hope that he is sincere and will learn/grow from the experience. I also think that if the NFL bans him for life, that's the consequence of messing with gambling of any sort when you are in a sport that is bet on.

I also still think that the comments from the NAACP leader were ludicrous. The road to redemption for Vick will be tough, but he will deal with it himself. His personal growth will be between him and God. His professional fate is in the hands of the NFL. His criminal punishment is in the hands of a judge. His fate with the public is up to us, the public. Where does the NAACP come in to this? It doesn't. It can't give Michael Vick his job back, spring him from jail, make him a better man, or convince us to love him. There may be no more irrelevant organization on the planet (except for the hundreds of federal government organizations, I suppose!).

Michael Vick is no victim. He engaged in thug-like & criminal behavior, got caught, and will pay a price. It remains to be seen if he has learned his lesson. I pray that he will turn the corner and use his fame to warn other would-be scofflaws that even the high and mighty can't just do what they want.

One of the headlines contained a quote "I've found Jesus", but I didn't see it in the body of the article. I sure hope that this is true and sincere, and that Michael will take his punishment and return as a warrior for Christ and not just the Atlanta Falcons. That would be a great story of redemption. Jesus Christ changes lives, changes hearts. Not race-baiting organizations that have to trade in poverty-pimping and victimhood to keep themselves in existence. I anxiously await the next chapters of this guy's life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

When's the Darwinist Reformation?

This quote jumped out at me from an article on entitled "Fossil Find Pushes Human-Ape Split Back Millions of Years"

"We know nothing about how the human line actually emerged from apes," the authors of the paper noted.

But, if anyone dare suggest that the human line DIDN'T emerge from apes... you're a religious extremist. Way to go, science! Posit your theory as fact and spend the next 150 years twisting, turning, spinning and forcing "evidence" to support it.

Wow. I thought a theory was just that: A theory. Until PROVEN. Silly me. I'm sure this latest hole in the 'theory' won't deter the religious extremists of Darwinism, however. :::yawn:::

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Michael Vick: Get Out The Violins

OK, I have to get this off my chest.
Michael Vick is about to plead guilty to felony offenses related to the dogfighting indictments against him. FELONY OFFENSES.
However, as I predicted to many of my friends, Mr. Vick is now being portrayed as a victim and the NAACP (what is the relevance of this organization in 2007?) is "pleading" with the NFL to reinstate Vick once he's out of jail. Here's the quote:

"As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football," said R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter. "We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."

WHAT THE !#$%#$^???!!!

Michael Vick is about to plead guilty to animal cruelty, interstate illegal gambling, and Lord knows what else. These are CRIMES. CRIMES.

However, Don Imus, a curmudgeon of talk radio... called some people names. But HE is supposed to pay with his career. He's even being sued by one of the players involved (after, I might add, she and the rest of the team FORMALLY accepted his apology -- but I'm sure it isn't about money, oh no). What about banning Mr. Imus from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country?

Hmm, sure. It's only fair. White guy calls black people some names, we can't have that! OH no. We'll even muster up new definitions of those names to make them sound more derogatory than they were ever intended, just to make SURE no one will touch the guy with a 10-foot pole.

But, if a black guy exhibits the most extreme stupidity and takes his position of wealth and fame and throws it away on thug-like criminal behavior, builds a facility intended for ILLEGAL activities, tortures and kills helpless animals in brutal and disgusting ways, gets caught, is pleading GUILTY... we're supposed to look the other way, extend the olive branch, focus on his redeeming qualities, and let him have his multi-million-dollar job back AFTER HE SERVES TIME(!)...

OK, I know I'm pointing out the obvious (at least I HOPE it's obvious). The blatant racist hypocrisy exhibited by so-called "Leaders of the African-American Community" is setting back "The Struggle" by decades, if not centuries.

Let's talk about redeeming qualities for a minute. You may think Don Imus is a disgusting sack of human flotsam, but he and his wife, Deidre, run a ranch for kids with cancer. They don't just "fund a foundation", they RUN it. WORK it. Hands on, with the kids, every year. Giving them hope and a season of life-changing activities. They are raising awareness and money for the cause of Autism - calling out politicians who flip-flop or are soft on the issue (Don used to be able to lambaste them live on the air). They've invented a line of cleaning products that get the carcinogenic and otherwise toxic chemicals out of homes and hospitals. He's a staunch advocate for veterans, and was instrumental in the building of the Veteran's Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio. Hey, I may think the guy is a flaming liberal, but at least he is taking ACTION where so many others spout off about how the government needs to run our lives. This guy puts his money where his sizable mouth is and I will say has a lot more redeeming qualities than a man gifted with athletic prowess who can't see past his own ego.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Want My MTV (moment to do over)!

The year was 1990. I was the Music Director at a venue called ClubLand in Detroit, MI. ClubLand was a concept created by Steve Jarvis. The idea was to take an existing theater space and turn it into a nightclub and multipurpose venue. The main physical things were to remove the sloped theater seating on the ground floor, put in stepped levels and add cabaret-style seating. The stage itself, and the area immediately in front of the stage would become dance floor. A large video wall would be installed upstage to create a dynamic multimedia backdrop for the night's activities. Three large projection screens would then be installed above that, which enabled many different visual pieces to happen consecutively. Those large screens were retractable so that they could also act as a curtain for performers on a platform atop the video wall. Add in a killer sound system and light show, and a bunch of bars...
The first ClubLand was in Chicago at the Vic Theater, then Houston's Tower Theater followed, with Detroit (in the State Theater, now the Detroit Fillmore) being the third and largest by far. They tried Worcester, MA (now the Palladium) and Key West, FL as well, to less success. The State Theater in Detroit was a historic theater built in 1925 and was just beautiful.

The entertainment concept was unique among nightclubs: Sure, you had programmed music (a DJ - that was me), but there was a lot more. Since the stage was a natural focal point for the crowd (and not everyone is a dancer, many preferring to people-watch), we actually had an MC, a dance troupe, and guest musicians. This in addition to all sorts of video 'bits' that could be something as simple as text scrolling on the big screens, to pre-taped comedy bits, live camera interaction, and of course, music videos. We had an elaborate DJ booth that housed lighting control, the audio gear/records/videotapes, and the video switching and routing command center. Pretty high tech for its day, I must say.
The dance troupe consisted of usually 6 dancers that constantly worked up routines to either various songs of the day. There was a professional choreographer who worked with them and they actually did a great job, considering 90% of their routines were performed on a 6' deep platform with no front railing to keep them from plunging off the top of the video wall. OSHA who? The guest musicians would also perform up there, usually a guitarist or sax player who would jam over pre-determined songs 3 times during the night. We got pretty creative sometimes, though, and had a trombone player (Bugs Beddow! Still remember that guy - he could wail. On flute, too!) and even a drummer (Dennis White)[2] with an electronic kit -- that was great fun. He and I would "trade eights" like live musicians do, me scratching in and out of records, him playing all sorts of cools stuff (he had a lot of sample triggers & such).
Most of these entertainment elements were 'seamless' to the clubgoers as to not disrupt dance floor activity, you could watch and/or pay attention, or you could just dance your butt off. Occasionally, though, we'd do some sort of skit that stopped the action and turned the place into a theater for a couple of minutes (our "Mandatory Union Break" was pretty funny). All in all, it was very successful, as it was varied enough that most everyone found something to really like about it.
When the nightclub wasn't in operation, we'd use the venue for concerts, corporate events, fashion shows, beauty pageants, whatever. I still remember Ford debuting the Escort there (whee!)-- they even had the lady who sang the jingle "Have you driven a Ford... lately?" come sing it live as a surprise to the Ford execs. The wild stories of the "urban" Hair Shows will have to wait.
Anyway, during this same time, MTV was running a show they called "24-Hour Street Party", where Downtown Julie Brown would visit some club in America, they'd tape some segments, and then edit them into a show for broadcast (she'd intro videos 'live' from the club, chat with various people, etc.). They came to ClubLand on November 1 (no, I don't remember that date, someone very nice at Clubland made me a 'scrapbook' of sorts with xeroxes of nearly every event flier and ad we ever had - thanks, Wendy!) and we had SNAP! in concert that night as well as the usual club madness (no, SNAP! wasn't a real band, but they pulled together enough musicians to pull off a tour, just like Inner City and other house music outfits). So, Julie and her camera crew were shooting intros/outros from various places in the club, and also getting quick interviews with bartenders, patrons, and of course... the DJ. Well, I was thinking about what glib and funny things I might say, and Julie came down to the booth to talk to me before recording. She asked me if I had a "handle" as many DJs do (I never used one), and said "OK, we'll be back in a little while to roll tape". Keep in mind, this is in the middle of a screamingly loud room, SNAP! wasn't on stage at the time so I was busy spinning records. Apparently when Julie said "in a little while" she meant "now". She basically turned around, waved her cameraman in, and came right back to me. Her first question, of course, was about "what crazy, cool DJ handle" I used, to which I had to answer "Clay" -- first dork moment of the evening. Then, she says, "Well, CLAY..have you..." and then she turned away from me towards the camera and I couldn't hear what she said. Next thing I know, she has turned back around with the mic in my face... and I got nuthin'. Not to mention, my record is running out and I've got to get the next one going. So I kind of went "...Heh-heh... well..." and had to grab for the turntable. She said some sort of goodbye and they went on to the next bit. Horrible! I was pretty red-faced over it, and had NO idea what she'd said. Much later, after the episode aired and someone got a tape, I found out she'd said "Well, CLAY, have you seen anything really funky go on around here?" -- which I'm not sure I would have had much of an answer for anyway... what kind of a question is that? I guess I could have told her of all the times we'd caught people in flagrante delicto up in the balcony...
Luckily, not that many people really watch MTV. I did have one old girlfriend from Pittsburgh (5 years earlier) call and tell me she saw it, but that was it.
All in all, my 15 minutes seconds of fame was a bust! I did get to spend a little time with DJB though, and she was very friendly and down-to-earth (a refreshing change from TV-types, including one of her predecessors, Mark Goodman, who was a total jerk when I met him years prior).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Six Degrees part II

OK, I promised to mention what got me on my Atlanta kick. A few months ago, I was able to find and purchase a copy of the very first Mother's Finest album (self-titled, RCA from 1972... not to be confused with a second "debut", on CBS in 1976, also self-titled) . This is a rare record that was never released on CD. More recently, I'd decided to record it into my computer & burn it onto CD so I could listen to it wherever. Also, randomly, I came across a copy of The Producers' "You Make the Heat" album at a thrift store. It was in really good shape and now I had more motivation to get the recording done (this album is also unavailable on CD). So, I got to tracking. There were some technical difficulties, however, and I was getting a weird noise on the files. I thought that maybe my cartridge/stylus had something to do with it and began looking for another that I knew I had somewhere. That turned into about a 2-hour search. While I was looking for the needle in the haystack (pun fully intended), I came across a very old address book that had my old Atlanta names/numbers in it.
So here I am recording LPs of Atlanta bands, and find my Atlanta address book. It was all just a little weird. Flipping through, I just started reminiscing a little and wondering about some of the people I'd worked with & been friends with so many years ago.
I decided to "Google" one of my friends, expecting to come up empty (happens with the females, they tend to change last names at some point in life for some reason). Anyway, a hit did come up on a "friends of animals"-type website. She had answered someone's post about how to humanely trap feral cats. I was able to get a message to her through that kittie-pal website and it was indeed my friend, and we have corresponded a little since.
Having moved so many times during my 20s & 30s, it's pretty much impossible to keep up with everyone (and considering I'm terrible at it to begin with, it is a lost cause). So it's always a big deal when I re-connect with someone. Lately, I've re-established some other friendships as well, mostly from Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, it took the death of one of our friends to get us talking again. Some folks are doing great, others have had hard times with illnesses, loss of family members, that sort of thing. Makes me wish I'd been around for them.
Everyone has a story. I guess that's one reason why these blogs are so popular. Even if no one else cares or even reads, you can tell your story. You can tell it when you want, how you want, when the urge strikes. I suppose that's a good thing.

I need to remember to write about the time I got on MTV. Not terribly exciting (and actually a little embarrassing), but fun.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"On The Prowl" (1984)

I figured I'd get my 1984 class project video up on YouTube... it's what you do nowadays, is it not? Some history of the video is on the previous entry. It looks like the audio got way out of sync with the video when this got processed by YouTube (and the video quality is pretty bad -- started with a low-res .wmv file)... but what can you do.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation, Atlanta-Style

I've recently had some nostalgic "deja-vu" moments, all going back to my time in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1983, after getting an AA from St. Petersburg Jr. College (FL), I attended The Music Business Institute in Atlanta. At the time, this school was an independent program founded by Mert Paul, a former CBS executive to give people an overview and real-world instruction in the ways of the music business (It was purchased by the Art Institutes and developed into their recording/production track). One of the "guest lecturers" that came to speak to us during my tenure was Wyzard (Jerry Seay), who was currently the touring bass player for Stevie Nicks. However, Wyz was also a member of Mother's Finest [2], an Atlanta act that had regional success in the 70's and enjoys a cult following today.
That was the first time I'd heard of Mother's Finest. File away "Mother's Finest" in your head.
Also in school, for our video production class, we had to do a project and no one in my class was very pro-active. I'd been listening to a local band called "Bareback", headed by keyboardist Doug Bare.

I approached them and asked if they'd let us shoot a music video with them for our project. They thought it sounded like a hoot, and they'd get a free video out of the deal! The video turned out OK (it was early '84 at the time and MTV was just out of its infancy, remember), and got some play on a local UHF music video channel. My only directing credit!
The guitar player for Bareback was Tommy Strain, who'd been in the one-hit wonder 70s group Starbuck ("Moonlight Feels Right). He is still playing in Atlanta and the "On The Prowl" video is actually available on his website! Thanks, Tommy! You are a sick puppy.
Both Doug and Tommy had toured with Mother's Finest, I believe in 1983. So, another connection.
As another school project, in our Concert Production class, some of us actually did a little field trip for extra credit. The Atlanta Music Awards show was going on and somehow one of our teachers got us to be stagehands for the show. There were some live acts playing, the headliners being The Producers. These guys were phenomenal. Sadly, bad management pretty much robbed them of their stardom. In our Artist Management class, they were the poster children for a raw deal. They too have a huge cult following today and I am a proud fan. The bass player/vocalist for The Producers is Kyle Henderson. Little did I know, Kyle had been in a band called "Whiteface" with Doug Bare back in the late 70s. Ain't this convoluted?

A little later, I found myself working for a nightclub called Confetti and there were a couple of Mother's Finest songs that would always raise the roof off the place ("Baby Love" and "Piece of the Rock"). Now, the nightclub gig wasn't paying the bills at the time, so I picked up a part time job filling phoned-in ticket orders for a venue called Chastain Park. We'd get a pile of credit card slips from the answering service and would verify the cards, pull the tickets, stuff the envelopes, and mail them to the customers. Sounds incredibly exciting, doesn't it? Anyway, one of my coworkers was a lady named Terra Moore. It turns out, she was the wife of Gary "Moses Mo" Moore, the guitar player in, you guessed it, Mother's Finest (MySpace page here). OK, that's enough for the moment. I'll get to the current stuff next time.

Mind-Reading Websites

I use NetFlix for renting movies, as do 5 kajillion others. Anyway, like Tivo, Netflix takes a look at what you've rented/watched in the past and tries to make recommendations of other movies/shows you might like. Netflix doesn't doo too bad of a job, but this one struck me as funny.

According to Netflix, since I enjoyed:
The Passion of the Christ
Coach Carter

They thought they'd recommend:

Of Course! Who wouldn't? Seriously, though -- what's the connection? None of the above were comedies, that's for sure. This just don't make no sense.

Friday, August 10, 2007


OK, this is too cool. You'll need an uploadable photo of yourself and a few minutes for 'tweaking', but this is genius!

Here's me:

And here's the site:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Anyone Need A House In Florida?


It has now been over one year and my parents still can't sell their house in St. Petersburg.
My heart just aches for them, I know that they are not enjoying this one little bit. But, at the same time, I am frustrated.
Many of the problems that have occurred during the saga stem from their trusting nature (or is it Naivety?) plus the fact that they, for some reason, decided to sell their old home by themselves. No fixing up, no improvements, no consideration of curb appeal, etc. So now the house sits looking "unlived in" without a lick of furniture inside, and nothing to help the looks of the outside either. I'll spare you the details of the debacle involving the people who they let move in, on a "promise" that they could qualify for a loan (hint: it didn't end well).
My take (and that of my siblings) is that if they are serious, they need to invest a little money and update the bathrooms and kitchen... OR just cut their price to make the place attractive to someone looking for a 'fixer-upper'. Of course, they think they should get appraised value (well, they did -- just got word that they've dropped the price some).
The good news is that this house is long since paid for, so at least there's not a payment. But taxes, the new mortgage on their new house, etc. are putting the squeeze on them. If I lived closer, I might swipe their keys and go do some work on the place. But from here, there's nothing I can do. I don't have the cash to buy the place or even pay for remodeling. If I could, I'd buy it and rent it out. But that's just a fantasy. With my prestigious, high-paying job, I can't even buy a house for myself to LIVE in, much less take on a rental property.
As much as this eats at me, I can only imagine what they are going through. They do finally have a Realtor, but I don't think he's lifted a finger to actually try to move the house (case in point: He had a lame open house on Father's Day! Who does that?).
I know they love the house and neighborhood they are in now, so that's some consolation, but this selling problem just grows slowly more painful every day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007