So, I signed up for Google Analytics because my current host offers automatic setup. I also seem to have stopped getting all of the spam attempts now that I’m using WordPress instead of Movable Type. The end result? I can now determine at a high level of accuracy that no one reads this site other than me. Like millions of other bloggers, I am literally whistling in the wind. That’s kind of zen in a rock garden, sand painting type of way, isn’t it? Or is it just lame?
I have a hard time with animate objects, so I shower my love on things that give me pleasure without asking for anything in return. Quite often those things have to do with producing or re-producing sound.
My grandmother Nancy always spoiled me, even when some of those expenditures weren’t the most financially prudent. I don’t remember when or where we bought these speakers, but I do know that from the day I got them they have been a pair of loyal friends.
Then in May I started to hear a buzzing sound from one of the speakers. At first the sound was slight and Sarah thought I was obsessing over nothing. Little by little the sound got worse. When I removed the screen from the speakers, several bits of orange foam dropped to the floor. After years of pumping out the low end, the foam around the speaker had finally given out. I jury rigged a temporary solution with tape and started looking on the internet for repair options. A couple of weeks later the foam around the woofer on the other speaker started to crack as well.
At that point I switched to using a pair of Onkyo speakers that I’ve had in a closet collecting dust. They were smaller, at least ten years younger and sadly they did not rock. There wasn’t a huge difference when watching movies or television, but the ripping sound of electric guitar + Marshall amp just wasn’t the same. My reggae 45s just didn’t have the same oomph to the stomach even when playing at the same levels. Maybe this is all in my head, I’ve never done any blind A/B testing to scientifically prove that there is any difference in the sound.
I spent a few hours surfing the web in consideration of a new speaker purchase. I even got excited about the thought of saving space with a new set of space age micro speakers built using the latest carbon fibers and psychoacoustical advances. Then I remembered my old friends. The thing is, like those old speakers, I am big in a small world, brown and old fashioned. I had to stick by the old timers.
I emailed the kind folks at Cerwin-Vega and received a prompt reply suggesting that I contact a company to have the speakers re-foamed. It took some digging, but I was eventually able to find a repair shop in Bensonhurst that would be able to perform the work. I hopped on the train and headed out to Heavy Electronics and Security. I took two magazines for the long ride.
The very friendly folks at Heavy made me feel a lot better about spending a lot of money to fix speakers that most people would have just replaced. The husband showed me the difference in construction between the speakers in my CVs and the speakers in even high end new models. The feeling of solid heft was missing from the newer speakers, which felt like they could be twisted by a man with strong enough hands. The older speakers were built like tanks. Then he showed me the molding on some new reasonably priced speakers. The casting was sloppy and asymmetrical and it was clear that the newer speakers were assembled by people for whom quality wasn’t a major focus. I’m not sure that the poor appearance makes any difference in sound, but it definitely tells you something about how the creators felt about the items they were creating. I wouldn’t be surprised if other shortcuts are being taken.
They also convinced me to go full bore and get the speakers completely reconed instead of just having new foam added to the old speakers. The people at the company seemed genuinely interested in what they do and sincerely motivated by the desire to get my babies back to their fighting shape, so I trusted them. I will admit gasping just a bit as the owner pulled out a razor blade and sliced off the old speaker cones.
A few weeks later, I had two new woofers ready to woof. I took them home, cradling the bag with the two speakers on the train and eagerly awaiting the first tune back with my old buddies. I slipped the newly coned guys back into place and dropped the needle on Dice The Boss “Brixton Cat”. Then I danced around my living room in my stocking feet with an ear to ear grin on my face. Things were right in the world once again for the low cost of two hundred dollars.
We’re living in the disposable age. Things are sold cheaply because they are made cheaply and without any focus on long term quality. When things break we don’t fix them, we throw them into a magical box that transports them to the land of “someone else’s problem” and we whip out our credit cards to spend money on the newer version with ten new features we’ll never use.
Just try getting things repaired now-a-days! The repair shop seems to be going the way of the dodo. There was a time, though, when spending your hard earned money on something assured that you were going to receive an item that would stand the test of time. Even when things went wrong, a quick visit to a skilled repairman would get things right back on track.
Times change, I guess, but I don’t have to like it. For one day at least I feel like I pushed back against the tide.
So, I’ve decided to give screen printing another try. I’ve tried and failed to make a screen once before, but I’ve become a much more patient fellow in the intervening years. I have a lot of ideas for t-shirt designs and I’d also like to be able to make some cheap shirts for 45AD. Anyway, it’s always seemed like a cool project.
As an aside, the last manual labor type job I had was about 11 or 12 years ago working in the shipping department for a t-shirt factory over in Dumbo. Now back to our actual story.
Being a true believer in shopping locally, I found a store in the city called Standard Screen that seemed to have all of the necessary supplies. Their website also featured lots of friendly instructions on how to get started, so I thought this would be a good source for information as well as the actual supplies.
Unfortunately, the folks there were professional enough, but not exactly personable or itching to discuss the finer points of screen-printing with a neophyte such as myself. Not a big deal really, but I was disappointed not to get even a glimmer of excitement from them that someone was getting started and turning to them for his first setup. That kind of personal handling being the main driver for my preference to shopping locally, I’ll probably just order my supplies online if I continue with the hobby.
Don’t get me wrong, they were completely polite and professional, just not at all interested in conversation or providing any getting started tips. They don’t actually have a store front, so perhaps I’m just not used to dealing with a supplier who caters to professionals.
I got about a block away from their building before I noticed the single thin plastic bag they gave me to carry six or seven large bottles of liquid, a roll of tape and a squeegee. Did I mention the incredibly fragile screen I was carrying in my other hand? Life being an endless fountain of irony, the bag practically exploded a few mere moments after I started thinking about it. Maybe my nervousness about the bag subconsciously caused me to slightly tighten my grip on the bag leading to additional stress in the already overstressed bag…or maybe I just have bag luck.
It was hot, I was wearing a black T-shirt and dealing with rush hour and now various bottles of expensive chemicals were rolling around the streets. Shockingly, the kind people of New York did not rush to my aid. I finally managed to finagle as many of the bottles as I could into the pockets of my camo shorts and I headed off to find the nearest ATM. Did I mention I was broke? It came as another shock that no one seemed to care that someone was walking down the street obviously struggling to carry some bulky items. No one even paused a beat to let me pass them and I often wound up stepping out into the street to protect the unbelievably easy to ruin screen.
I don’t really know Soho very well, I don’t even know my own neighborhood to be really honest, but I was surprised not to find an ATM before I hit Broadway. Yes, Broadway. The heart of the downtown shopping area, tourist attraction…did I mention this was just about five o’clock? The streets were packed with a mix of the obnoxious and the oblivious all chattering away but completely incapable of clearing some room for someone obviously struggling along in the hot summer day.
Finally I was able to get money from the ATM and I decided to see if someone would give me a garbage bag if I made a purchase in their store. I tried three, including a cafe that actually had some garbage bags in plain site and not a single one was willing to give me a piece of plastic that probably costs less than a quarter. I can understand that no company wants to make a practice out of giving things out for free, but not a single one of them had the common courtesy to try to help out their fellow man in a bit of trouble.
Now, I’m not some innocent naïf ignorant of the ways of the big city. I’m not expecting everyone to join hands, sing a round of kumbaya and then carry me home on their shoulders like the Ewoks carried C3P0. I did think that I might run into one kind soul.
The lady at the third place, the cafe I mentioned, suggested that I walk two blocks over to the Duane Reade. Thanks a lot lady. I was finally able to make it to the pharmacy and I struggled and squeezed my way through the packed aisles with my bottles and my screen. By the time I got outside and transferred everything to the garbage bags I was pretty hot under the collar. Yes, I double bagged.
I explained my plight to a security guard who was standing outside of the building next to the Duane Reade and he assured me that he would have been glad to give me a garbage bag for free. It made me feel a little better, but it was probably best that no one did anything to annoy me on the way home or they might have been in for a fifteen minute rant at full Gerrard volume.
You know, I let life’s little frustrations weigh too heavily on my mind. That’s something I need to work on.
I tend to write songs as polemics, personal attacks with back beat. Here’s my latest. This was especially satisfying to complete as the title has been kicking around in my head for months. As usual, the mixing is too loud and a bit too squished, but I’ve already spent too much time on it to start over. Try to look past it and enjoy!
(You) got Debbie Harry’s glamour with a heart made out of stone
(You) got no room for clothing ’cause your closets always full of bones
you’ve sewn pain and anger in the lives of everyone you’ve known
you talk about yourself so loud just so no one can hear the moans
You’ve got all the smartest gear
You’re dressed to the nines
You’re make-up is perfect
but you’re shabby on the inside
shabby on the inside
shabby on the inside
you’re dressed to impress
but you’re shabby on the inside
you’ve left behind a trail of broken hearts and broken homes
but time is gaining fast and your steps are getting slow
one day your victims will get a clue like Sherlock Holmes
and what will you be left with after your good looks finally go
You’ve got a golden ear but you’re heart is made of tin
you’re never invited back to any place that you’ve ever been
it’s like a broken record when you come ’round begging again
and I’m not sure I can afford the high cost of being your friend
You know all of the best songs
You sing every line
Your Record collection is perfect
but you’re shabby on the inside
shabby on the inside
shabby on the inside
Record collection is perfect
but you’re shabby on the inside
you’re already sick of bands that haven’t even formed
well I’m sick of supporting you it’s already been too long
if you think I owe you anything you’re misinformed
i think it’s about time that you learned to sing a different song
I’d like to cook more often, but I wind up eating out more often than not. Being a vegetarian from the age of 15, I’m most comfortable ordering from vegetarian or vegan establishments. I do eat food from normal restaurants, but I’m always paranoid about the random inclusion of meat ingredients in things like sauces or even salads. You’d be surprised how often I’ve been told that an item is vegetarian only to find out that it contains chicken or fish.
My absolute favorite vegetarian restaurant in the city is Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch. I try to make it there at least once a week. The food is good, the prices are reasonable, the proprietors and all but one of the waitresses are incredibly nice and it’s conveniently located three subway stops from my house. This restaurant is run by the folks behind the old 24hr Veg City Diner that used to be on 14th street as well as one of the original founders of the dearly departed Burritoville. I recommend their Cubano sandwich, which is my favorite veggie style Cubano.
Brooklyn Boneshakers is a new-ish bike themed restaurant that I order from at least a couple of times a week. It’s great that they opened their doors right around the time when Mighty Diamond shut down. They are located pretty near by my house, but usually I let them do the riding and order in. Quick delivery, tasty food at reasonable prices and even the delivery people are friendly. These guys have started to recognize me when I call, so you know I’m a huge fan. I recommend the Sag Sandwich which is an egg and cheese on a roll type deal.
My favorite restaurant when I’m in the mood to “go out” is Red Bamboo Brooklyn. Decent ambiance in a decent area of Brooklyn with a pretty decent crowd. The waitresses are incredibly nice, which if you haven’t noticed, is a big factor in my decision as to what establishments I patronize. One particular young lady is a huge basketball fan and is always ready with a quip or putdown. I don’t usually go in for the faux fish, but their Bridgetown was tasty enough that even the carnivorous Knighthawk was pleasantly surprised.
Another favorite of mine is S’Nice, which has tasty sandwiches, delicious and healthy sides and is a decent place for a coffee bar type experience. This is actually my newest discovery, I missed out on it for quite a while. This is my favorite place to go when I want to earn my meal with either a long walk or a long bike ride.
A couple of times a year I splurge and take the lovely Miss Hoadley to Candle 79 on the Upper East Side. The food is probably the best vegetarian food I’ve ever had and the restaurant has the feel of fine dining. Of course, the prices reflect that. I haven’t had the food here often enough to have a solid favorite, but everything we’ve ever ordered has been delicious.
My favorite site for information on veggie restaurants is SuperVegan. The site has a great interactive map of veggie restaurants in NYC and really informative reviews. This is the site I turn to when I’m in the mood to try out a random place.
So…wanna buy me lunch?
I’ve loved Johnny Cash’ recording of the song “Nobody” for years, but only recently did I check for the composer’s name. It turns out it that the song was written by Egbert Williams, better known as Bert Williams. He’s the gentleman on the left.
It’s always a shock to confront the casual racism that was once so prevalent in this country. Imagine a talented black songwriter, singer and clown being forced to war blackface to make a living! When people say “nothing has changed” it sounds like they are very uninformed about how bad things really were for black people at previous points in this country’s history.
Hear Bert William’s version of “Nobody” recorded from a cylinder or a more upbeat recording form the Library of Congress.
Brentwood, Long Island (founded as the anarchist utopian village of Modern Times) is my home town.
Hip Hop pioneers EPMD are from Brentwood and they even released a song called “Brothers From Brentwood” as the B-Side to their hit song “Crossover”. Erick Sermon (the E in EPMD and noted producer) went to North Elementary School, just as I did. He even gave the speech at our high school awards ceremony way back in ‘95.
As a kid we snuck into the Pilgrim State Mental Hospital grounds for fun. When my grandmother and I went to the movies we cut through the same grounds.
When I rode my bike to my job at Waldbaum’s in Bayshore I always smelled the pastry in the air from Entemann’s.
Anyhow, enjoy this slice of Brentwood pride that was pointed out to me by el ray.
I mentioned last year that my band, 45 Adapters had broken up. I also mentioned that I “play in a band” in my post on performance enhancing drugs, but I never went into any detail. Well, for the non-detectives among you, consider this the official Pickabarland announcement: 45 Adapters are back!
We’ve played about three shows so far with our new guitarist Knighthawk and our sound is really starting to come together.
We even got some coverage for our song “Metropolitans”.
BTW, if any of you actually listen to the MP3s I post here, you’ll always be one step ahead of everyone else when it comes time to sing along with new 45AD tunes.
Tug McGraw was a long time Mets closer, most famous for coining the unofficial Mets motto, “You Gotta Believe!.” Although he later made the poor choice of signing with and playing for the hated Phillies, he is still very popular with Mets fandom. Yes, even though his son sung that horrible “Live Like You’re Dying” song.
Anyway, Tug was also a veritable quote machine. Here’s a possibly apocryphal quote about what he intended to do with his salary:
“Ninety percent [of my salary] I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish Whiskey. The other ten percent I’ll probably waste.” – Tug McGraw
Clever turn of phrase. Anyhow, the quote popped into my head one day while I tried to make something Celtic sounding. I didn’t succeed. Enjoy anyway!