A Few Days in the Life (11/5/19)

November 5, 20:03

Afternoon watch.

I hate this time of year.

Well … that might be a little melodramatic. I hate the fact that it gets dark so early this time of year. It makes the 3-11 shift feel so unbelievably long. Summertime is best for this shift. When it gets dark, I know I’m almost done. Oh, well. Hopefully, this is the last time I have to deal with it.

With my piece on my favorite live albums posted, I thought I’d spend some time with them while I drive around. Right now, it’s Steven Wilson, who followed up Supertramp. I played Genesis at home.

Response to the piece was positive. I’m often fascinated by the way people respond to what I write. Some dive right in. Others can’t wait to tell me where their list is better. That’s fine. I’m always interested in what other people have to offer.

And then there are those who simply “like” what I post, when I know good and well they never bothered to read it. I know what I wrote, and I know how long it should take to read it. Or maybe they just cut to the end. I suppose I should be happy they bother glancing at it at all.

My head feels better. My sister is quite convinced I had an allergic reaction to the bee sting. Benadryl did the trick this time, but I guess I need to talk to my doctor about epi pens, and whether or not I need to have a couple around, just in case. It’s always something.

My copy of The Real Frank Zappa Book came yesterday. I have no idea what happened to my original copy. Did I loan it to someone? I don’t recall. Well, that won’t happen again.

I also need to track down my copy of Tony Levin’s autobiography. I think I know where it is. Does he still have it? That’s another question altogether.

I also need to order a copy of Sid Smith’s updated edition of In the Court of King Crimson. These on top of all the other books I need to read for research purposes. It’s time to watch a helluva lot less television.

22:30

Visions of spreadsheets dance in my head. How sad is that?

I already have a spreadsheet started on the albums I’ve been sampling for potential purchase. Now it’s time to get all my label contact information together. Order is the key to the next life, and I won’t be able to rely on anyone else to make that happen. Just one more thing to be a little anxious about.

November 6, 17:23

Overtime.

What a gray and gloomy day, on multiple levels. But we move forward.

It’s my day off. So naturally, I’m at work. But overtime money is good and I have road trips And a daughter’s birthday to pay for. And so, here I am.

I’ve hit one of my R.E.M. periods. Suits my mood for the day.

Sometimes, you’ve got to have a little Michael Stipe.

The day started off rather oddly. Apparently, one of the Facebook groups I post my articles to wasn’t completely happy with the content. It’s not worth going into. It just struck me odd. All right … lesson learned. And we move on.

One of the reasons I love Chicago is the architecture. But St. Louis gets it right every now and again, like our history museum.

Or the art museum located close by.

It’s not the same, to be sure. But there are a few hidden gems around here.

And sometimes, you just stumble upon a cool view.

19:10

Fog is rolling in.

I’ve moved on to Porcupine Tree. Now playing is one of my top five favorite Prog rock songs of all time.

Going through the laundry list of things I’d like to have by next spring, and realizing why I work so damned much overtime. My MacBook is at least seven years old. There’s still plenty of memory left, but the processor is positively glacial. It’s amazing (and annoying) to consider how much time I spend … waiting. It would be nice to go into the next chapter sporting a modern computer. And a new camera.

I may never stop working.

November 7, 20:39

Home.

Yesterday should have been my “do nothing” day, which is usually what happens on my first day off. Alas, I went to work. So now that day was today. I needed the rest, but that doesn’t stop me from being annoyed, because I wanted to get more work done. Well, I’ll find a way to wedge in as much as I can.

It seems weird to see birthday messages starting to flood my facebook wall. Then I see the messages are coming from Japan and Australia, where it actually IS the 8th of November already. And while that makes it weirder in a way, it also makes it pretty cool. I had absolutely NO plan for my special day until earlier today, when I decided that I will go get myself a bowl of gumbo at Fitz’s, and then hit Vintage Vinyl, since it’s right across the street. Then I really need to come home and get some writing work done. My 54th orbit around the sun must begin with better time management. So there’s the goal that starts things off.

Leonardo Pavkovic sent me a wonderful album of European jazz I am currently digesting, and am eager to review. It is from the Sirkis/Bialas IQ, and it is nothing short of remarkable. European jazz is on a nearly completely different plane than American jazz. I’m not saying that it’s “better” or “worse.” It’s just different. And different can be a very good thing indeed.

Speaking of which, England’s GoGo Penguin started out my listening today. Where Sirkis/Bialas could be seen as jazz from a “World Music” viewpoint, GoGo Penguin infuses jazz with a simulated “electronica” aspect I find nothing short of remarkable.

Jazz as my dad knew it has really branched out in some interesting directions. I can only wonder what he would think of these sounds I’ve been exploring of late.

November 8, 20:22

A Birthday. 

Fifty-three.

I am 53 years old. How on earth did that happen?

I’m really not sure what to do with myself. How was I supposed to mark this occasion? You prepare yourself for certain milestone birthdays, like 16, 18, 21, 30, and 40. And 50, I guess. What does one do with 53? Be thankful to be above ground taking in oxygen is a good start, I suppose. I remember busting my dad’s chops in his later years. I’d ask him how it felt to be old. “I made it, didn’t I?” he replied. He made a good point. And that’s pretty much how I’m feeling.

It’s also a little frightening, since Dad passed away at 64. Father Time is undefeated. Nobody gets out alive. And I have more than a couple of health concerns I need to get really serious about. I have so much more to do. I don’t want to run out of time in the middle of the adventure.

Every year I talk about making big changes to my lifestyle. That has been the wrong approach. I think the true solution is to do what’s right, one decision at a time, one day at a time. Before you know it, I’ve created a pattern of behavior. It starts with time management. And then I branch out from there. A whole lot of micro should help create the macro. At least, that makes sense in my head.

Enough with the philosophy.

My Special Day dawned sunny, albeit cold. I didn’t see the need to be out in the streets all day. I rather enjoy keeping to myself more often than not. So that’s what I did for most of the day. Watched the movie Snatch for the thousandth time. It’s a favorite, and never fails to make me laugh. Finally got going in the afternoon, making my way to Fitz’s restaurant in University City for dinner with my old partner Brad. I enjoy their gumbo, and this seemed like a great day for it.

As it happens, Vintage Vinyl — my original record store obsession — is right across the street. It’s almost like I planned this or something.

Four LPs and a t-shirt later, I was in a good place. I thought I was headed home. Alas, may car steered me to Planet Score, where Joe had a couple of items on hold for me. Planet Score has become my true home base in St. Louis, and solely going to Vintage Vinyl almost felt like I was cheating on them. And that’s where the CDs came from. It was a decent haul, and didn’t cost nearly as much as it might seem.

Back home for a beer (no cake this year) and a wind-down before a long shift tomorrow. I’m currently being blown away by Terraformer, the new album from Thank You Scientist. That band is absolutely incredible! I can’t wait to see them and Bent Knee (as well as The Tea Club) next week. Should be an awesome show.

Meanwhile, I am deeply flattered and humbled by the literally hundreds of birthday messages I received on my Facebook page. Sure, these are cyber-friends. I’ve spent very little time with most of them IRL. But that they would take two seconds out of their busy days still means a lot.

I swore to myself that I could get one more review written before the night is done. And so I am off to do just that. Tomorrow, it’s back to work.

And so begins my 54th orbit around the sun.

November 9, 17:27

(Nearly) Doubling Up

The birthday is in the past. It’s back to work. My shift started at 15:00. Naturally, I was at the station by 09:30. The overtime is great, but I need to organize these days a little better. That will help me get my writing life in order.

I’ve been using post-work exhaustion as an excuse for not getting writing things done. But the backlog is driving me crazy. I’m hoping to get to an office supply store, where I find the kind of calendar that will allow me to take good notes, and map out where I should be in terms of writing and gigs. I can’t afford to let things fall through the cracks.

It feels like Fall today. Apparently, Old Man Winter will be paying is a visit in a couple of days. Given where I hope to live, I guess I’d best get used to it, as much as I hate it.

One of the records I bought last night really surprised me. Wynton Kelly’s album features Paul Chambers (bass) and Jimmy Cobb (drums), along with Kenny Burrell on guitar. Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb played on Kind of Blue with Miles, so I just knew the album was headed in that direction. Boy, was I wrong!

Instead of a modal or post-bop display, I got an orchestral easy listening-type album with those guys providing jazz drop-ins. It was a bit of a letdown, but I’m sure it’ll grow on me. If not, that’s the way it goes. I’ve got plenty of other albums to choose from.

I suspected the Chick Corea album would delve into the avant-garde, given its 1971 release. I was right. It’s ok, but I just can’t get myself on the same plane with that style of playing. Maybe it’s my military nature, and the need for some kind of order in my music. The occasional bit of chaos is fine. But eventually, we have to make our way back to something orderly. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully reconcile with the avant-garde.

The collection of vinyl seems to have become a higher priority. I’m really looking forward to getting that turntable, and I want to have top-flight records to play once I have it. If that makes me sound like an over anxious kid around Christmas, I can live with that. I appreciate my turntable, but I bought it in 1990. I’m happy it’s lasted this long, but I’m long overdue for an upgrade.

For now, I find myself sitting in my car on the interstate, blocking incoming traffic from running into an accident up ahead.

Not that my presence doesn’t keep people from trying. Good grief … it’s amazing how selfish and dumb people can be.

It also dawned on me just how crazy guys in my profession really are. We routinely do things no sane person would even consider. Standing in traffic with nothing but a reflective vest and a glare, hoping people see us on the street or the highway; heading toward gunfire when everyone else is headed the other way; walking right toward that suspicious person (who might be armed) because someone was worried about him; charging headlong into a bank, restaurant, or other business that might be getting robbed. We really are nuts.

Cops haven’t been getting the the best publicity these days. And the idiots doing those stupid things have any and all punishments due them coming. But for that other 90 percent of us — those who just do what we do as best we can and go home — well, we really do appreciate being thanked from time to time.

19:39

It says “sketchbook,” but this is my new day planner. The pages have no lines and are perforated for easy removal. And it cost about a third of what office stores want for fancier planners. Yeesh!

This book will force me to write out the day and date, what shift I’m working, whether I’ll be on OT, writing requirements, interview schedules, and gigs. Along with all the other things I need to work into my day.

I realized that retirement means for the first time in 30 years (counting military time), I won’t be subject to a regimented schedule. I won’t have someone telling me where to be, what time to be there, and what to do once I show up. While it sounds liberating, it’s also quite terrifying. You get used to that regimented life. Without it — like when I’m on vacation — it’s easy to go adrift, and get nothing done. Post-police life will call for a complete mental reboot. Damn!

It might take a day or two to catch on.

November 10, 16:37

Afternoon watch.

I hate working Sundays. I’m not religious or anything. It just seems like Sunday should be the one day the good citizens work out their problems for themselves, and give “911” a day off.

Coming in today was particularly annoying, because I had one helluva Jazz Sunday going. Coltrane, Bud Powell, Lionel Hampton, Eric Dolphy, Wynton Marsalis … I was on a roll. I even decided to skip football, sip hot green tea, and work on finishing Nate Chinen’s book. It was a glorious day. And then I had to stop.

Pity.

I decided to divide this Jazz day into two parts. At home I focused on the classics. As I drive around, Bandcamp is providing me with some new voices. Teodross Avery is one of those voices. His album After the Rain: A Night for Coltrane, is blowing my mind! He may not be ‘Trane, but Ross has definitely captured the spirit of the man. The rest of his band is killer as well. That the album is live makes it that much better.

I also made my first entry in my new day planner. Since it’s actually a sketch pad, I thought a more urgent title was in order.

What’s on the list is my concern. But I like the idea of mapping out a day. And physically writing things down (including when I should get up) offers an extra layer of urgency. I hope.

#cirdecsongs

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Check out my book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

Want to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

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