Sunday, July 29, 2012

It’s a Cannon Ball Run



The Ladies (Steph, Gina) and I are doing something a bit over 3,100 miles in six days….  From San Francisco to South Florida… a true Cannon Ball Run…

The Cannon Ball reference comes from a series of races, or runs… Sometimes the Cannon Ball Rally… Sometimes the Gumball rally… in any case, a fast cross country run… commonly a race…  There are movies based on the run…  Legends…  

 In the case of the Canon Ball, Redondo Beach or Santa Monica to Long Island… West, the Pacific, to East, the Atlantic…

We can blame the concept on Brock Yates…  On Car & Driver magazine, on a couple of movies…  more likely David E Davis…. Journalist, car enthusiast…  these were the automotive journalists of my youth…

Our trip is not a race… there are no competitors excepting the clock…  We are traveling West to East… San Francisco, aka San Mateo, to South Florida, aka the Atlantic… Since not racing, we get to take time out to sleep, to explore Cajun country and eat in New Orleans…  Walk the river walk in San Antonio, look for lights in Marfa, and visit family in Tucson…

Still it will be a hard run….  And, We are making a longer run than the classic cannon ball…
I think we can dedicate the run is to the spirit of David E Davis  Automotive Journalist… Editor of Car & Driver… Founder of Automotive Magazine…  I think he would approve of our run… not a race…  not a time and distance test… not a just about cars… but instead about a fast journey… we will stop for food, road food, not corporate fast food, about local road food… We will go slowly near New Orleans… 

Still, it will be a 3,100 mile run in 6 days… fast, a celebration of the road, occasionally the interstate, sometimes the Highway, in any case the road.  We will be civilized… staying in Hotels, motels, sleeping in comfort… eating well, while not wearing suits, we will dress nicely for the road… I will sport a beard…   As David E Davis did... It is a point of pride...

We will likely too often drive too fast… beyond posted speed limits… We have miles to go before we sleep, and speeding makes the journey go faster…

It will be a good, hard, fast run... 

Randy

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Music… a sound track for my life…



I find myself following music… much like a follow the yellow line down the center of a road… occasionally leaving the road to follow some interesting path…  dodging dead skunks and armadillos…  It is a journey of connections, events, people and influences…

 Like music, I rarely sit in silence…  the radio(KFOG) is playing in the background in the early morning… later it may be the TV instead, not so much to watch, but as background noise…  Late at night, I generally shift to CD’s or vinyl… in the car it is the radio, mostly music, but NPR and who ever might have the best traffic report…  At work when at my desk it is KFOG again…  I look for concerts, buy CD’s sometimes downloads… 

We (Tina and I) recently attended a house concert, Mike Compton playing mandolin…  We attend a lot of house concerts, small venue concerts…  Our favorite is ”Acoustic Tune ups and Joe’s Garage”… If it is a stand up show (Slim’s or the Fillmore) Steph joins me in place of the lovely Tina… she is beyond stand up venues…  If neither is available I will go by myself…  Recently I spent three days in the redwoods listening  to music at the Kate Wolf Festival by myself (with several  thousand of my new friends) The pull of the music is strong…

If I attend a concert, I generally visit the “merch table” and pick up a CD or two, occasionally a t-shirt…  The CD’s generally from the earlier acts… I probably have the current CD’s from the headliners already.  Over the next weeks I listen to the CD’s… getting to know the group… some continue in the rotation, some are filed in the CD shelf’s, rarely to surface…  

The best lead me down a road… looking for more related music… googleing (is it spelled google-ing or googl –ing?, what is the rule on the last “e”…  Microsoft word’s dictionary doesn’t know… of course, Google is a competitor… and there for ignored, shunned if possible…).  Back to the blog, I Google the musicians, the back-up musicians, song writers, covers of the same song…  Each can be its own road… with more music, more roads, sometimes alternate paths to follow…

When I find an interesting artist, I sign up for updates at their websites… I occasionally Google them…  I look at their page on Amazon…

I am planning a road trip in a week…  music is important on a road trip… hours driving frequently away from good radio signals… having music available is good… it is a good time to listen to full albums, with limited distractions…  So I Googled several favorite artists… and found some new stuff…  Likely the best is a Guy Clark tribute album “This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark”… it is on in the background while I write this… The album is Guy Clark’s friends, playing Guy Clarks songs…  It has meaning…  I am familiar with them sung by Guy, but the different caring voices let the lyrics sing in a different way… It is likely influencing this blog post… From a song just played, “Stuff That Works”  “I got a woman that I love…. I got a tattoo with her name right through my soul”…  Tina, I love you… 

There are a number of song writers that I follow… Guy Clark, Gram Parsons, Towns Van Sant… I have followed the sound of a Gram Parsons song into a bar on Beale Street… with my daughter, only to find it was the only Gram song the duo knew, but sat happily listening for three beers…  My cousin was playing guitar at a family reunion at Thanksgiving… along the banks of the Merced in Yosemite…  He played one of Gram’s… I said something… he said his favorite was Towns… I don’t think we have talked about music that way in the last 40 years…  It brings us closer…

Back to Mile Compton… I bought three CD’s…  inside one was a postcard… a questionnaire… a survey… with a possible reward of 30 CD’s from his record label if I return it… They are looking for my contact information to add to a mailing list…

Beyond that, under the heading:  “And if you have a minute…” (complete with three dots) were 4 open questions… plus a 4 more multiple choice questions…  the question that got my attention, and lead to this blog post was; “How do you find out about new music?”… (this time my three dots)
I think they get it… The new paradigm… music beyond labels… A&R men… Music for music… But, it calls the question… how do I find out about new (to me) music…  They give me about 4” to answer… not nearly enough…  hence the blog post, the answer to the question.

Among the multiple choice questions is another interesting “thing”…. They offer four alternatives for the question “what kinds of music are you interested in”… among the choices is “Americana”…  A new category trying to define a place between country (and western) and rock and folk… 40 years ago Gram called it “Cosmic American Music”… Houston Jones calls it “High Octane American Music”… Americana works…  In the current mix in the truck’s CD player is a new CD by Chris Doud, “The Story Song”… I found Chris through his participation in the band “Good Time Thrift Store Outfit”…  I bought his CD at the Kate Wolf Festival.

The CD player has now flopped to the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” … the first single I ever bought… they lead me to Emmy Lou, to Levon Helm… Emmy Lou and Levon lead me to Gram, who lost his battles with his demons before I found him…

Back to Chris… I found Good Time Thrift Store Outfit at a concert at Slim’s… I followed them to the Kate Wolf Festival… Chris is the lead vocalist, co-song writer with WilleTeaTaylor  Chris has a song, “Guitar Case Sticker”…  about a folk singer (“the good news he’s a great folk singer, the bad news is he is a great folk singer…”) It contains the line “ Americana was created by industry folks to give us  folk singers a second chance”

Back to Mike Compton… I sent the post card with the survey back…  It seemed to matter…

Bye, Randy

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blogging…. Blogger



I blog, therefore I am…. Or at least you have something to waste a few minutes on…
Blogging, via blogger is free… recently I added a few ads, so maybe it is better than free…It is an experiment that I may abandon, but may continue… comments from readers are welcome… negative, positive, just thoughts…

It is not about money, the couple of cents a click that Google pays… instead it is a a continuation of the experiment in new media that is this blog…

I changed the look as well… but there are issues… I post via a paste from word… and when it appears it is in different fonts, different colors, different size fonts… confusing…  but I generally like the new look… Blogger is a free service, so if there are issues, I tend to let them ride…
Like I said, comments on the look welcome.

I tend to write in MS word… then cut and paste… recently I have been writing on an Ipad, then emailing it and pasting… each has issues on how the formatting appears once in Blogger.

 I continue to blog…    Hopefully you continue to read… 

Randy

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tonight someone asked how I was doing, was I settled back in…


It was a reference to Dad, Mom, the dog, and scattering their ashes... 
 

I answered, no, Not quite settled, work is a zoo, life is imitating work... and a trip looms...”

I am way too busy at work… it is making me testy… grumpy… co-workers may be noticing… I am lucky to have an assistant… a good assistant… without Barbara I would either go crazy or quit…  Work is not currently fun… It is not fulfilling… it is a slog…

With work less than fulfilling, the looming road trip takes on a life of its own… Significant importance as a diversion…

With trip looming, The question of rules comes up… I believe we need rules…  (any significant undertaking needs rules… How can you break rules if you don’t have rules… )

 Alton Brown has published rules for his two “Feasting on Asphalt” trips… ( but not for feasting on Feasting on water) 

His Rules:

FOA Rules
1. Stick to back roads and clear of Interstates whenever possible
2. Will not eat at national chain restaurants
3. No whining
4. If no place to eat, fend for self—camping and cooking or kindness of strangers

FOA 2 Rules:
1. There will be no freeways. By pass them at all costs
2. Not eat any industrial chain fast food
3. No whining
4. Seek authentic food and tell the stories attached to it so we will know more about who we are and where we’re going
So, reviewing Alton’s rules, and understanding his goals, and our goals… I offer a set of rules for our Cannon Ball Run

So, reviewing Alton’s rules, and understanding his goals, and our goals… I offer a set of rules for our Cannon Ball Run… (based or at least inspired by Alton’s….)

Our Rules….
1) When possible avoid the Interstate…  Of course this trip is a cannon ball run, and we have to go many miles before we sleep, so, the Interstates will be used, but when an option is offered consider it…
2) Do not eat in any industrial fast food chain (this may be the most important rule…  This of course is targeted at Micky D’s, Taco Smell, and the Waffle house, but also at Starbucks… The ladies may push back at Starbucks…) But, once in Florida, it means we may eat Bar B Q…
3) No whining (Of course, they (the ladies) may, but based on our rules I get to ignore them… to a point)
4. Seek authentic food and tell the stories attached to it so we will know more about who we are and where we’re going… (this is Alton’s… I am adopting it as mine….)
5) Honor requests for bathroom stops (We after all are a civilized people)
6) Weird museums and local attractions are good… and worth a bit of time (a rule for me)
7) Occasionally, stop, walk once around the car, take a deep breath.

I have spent some time tonight trying to find acceptable places to eat along I-75 in Florida…places that conform to rule 4… finally I think I have a list… It was the biggest challenge…

Early to marrow I will go to work (5 hours from now)  I will work for many hours… I will return tired… then, I will do it again…  The trip is looking better all the time.

“It is not down any map; true places never are,”
Herman Melville

Randy

Friday, July 20, 2012

A New Look…. And more trip planning



I have been playing with the blog… changing the look… a got the slide show working again…  I updated my profile and the blogs and sites I follow… I considered a new photo centric look, but too often on the road, photo uploads are difficult… I decided that the words are more important.
I may even try to “monetize” it… ad a few ads on the margin… why not, it (the blog) is really all just a grand experiment in new media.  If Google ads buy me a six pack of decent beer every quarter it may validate the process… 

I am continuing to experiment with posting from my I pad… I can, but it ends up looking like one long paragraph… more appropriate for a rant, less for a thoughtful discussion about secondary roads and random sights in Texas…  Some of which may appear here in the near future…

Back to the trip…

I am continuing to over plan the next road trip, a cannon ball run to Florida… I have reservations for 3 of the 5 nights, a couch for one, so only one is unreserved, unplanned…   So far the food plan is looking good, strange places for lunch, wonderful places for dinner… except the last day, New Orleans to Ft Lauderdale… Breakfast is under control (CafĂ© Du Monde, New Orleans)  but Florida is looking like a food desert, with lots of Micky D’s, Taco Bells, and Waffle Houses… but few unique dining opportunities…  this is sad… The most memorable restaurant meal I ever ate was in Florida, in Ft Lauderdale, in Johnny V’s… the meal was wonderful, (ostrich, bunny and venison, the cheese plate afterward beyond…) but now, crossing Florida, north Florida, I can’t find a place to eat… beyond the Waffle House….  No one wants to eat lunch at the Waffle house…

It is likely there is a diner, a dive… somewhere along the I-10/I-75 area… but so far I haven’t found it… We have a trip goal, no McDonald's… No Taco Bell… (I will throw the Waffle house into the mix) we need to be true to the goal… Florida is a challenge…
More research is needed… back to the internet, the web, the grind stone….
On other news… tomorrow I will make a run to Carson City, Nevada, USA…. To a railroad museum, a museum with railroad cars, one of which was built in Sacramento in 1868, used by Governor Stanford in May of 1869 at the Golden Spike ceremony… I will do forensic paint research… as part of a team doing a restoration feasibility study, in building terms a Historic building report….   identifying how the car was painted many, many years ago…  We will look at how the car is bolted together…   It is my passion… I will enjoy the long day… then collapse on Sunday, before a late lunch on the coast with the wife and dogs…