February 7, 09:41
Outside, snow approaches. What else is new. Inside, it is equally cloudy. The result of yet another relatively sleepless night. I should’ve taken a damned pill, but I waited too long. My grocery order will be here shortly. A little housekeeping, and a nap may be in my future.
It’s not all doom and gloom. The web page continues to take shape. The hardest part — learning how to do it — is mostly taken care of, save for a couple of minor details. The most tedious work — placing more than 400 pieces spanning five years under the appropriate heading — is yet to come. Needless to say, it will be handled in increments.
Few things are more shameful to me than having a boatload of equipment and having no idea how to use it properly. I’m looking at YOU, camera bag.
I finally got off my keester (so to speak) and looked into a basic photography class. I found one for a mere 10 bucks. And it’s a 90-minute class! I figure that should get me a little past “point it that way.” My photographer friends are already recommending books and tutorial videos. This should be a fun adventure.
Robert Fripp’s Music for Quiet Moments starts my day.
A busy afternoon of website building. Things are starting to come together. I was able to solve one serious issue, but one other remains. A small ton of people in my Facebook group have been tagged for potential feedback. Hopefully, they’ll actually provide it.
I know my back is weak, but I sincerely believed I could get the two small tables I ordered upstairs from the mailroom, even though they were in a single box.
It can’t weigh more than 50 pounds, I figured. That’s easy! I’ll just make sure to use good form when I pick it up. So I squatted at the knees, got a firm grip on either side of the box, drove up with my legs … and nearly collapsed because I was sure my spine was going to explode and blow my lumbar region to pieces.
Somehow, I maintained my balance and got the box to the elevator. But it never left the ground again. So I guess the squat rack is out when I go back to the gym.
February 8, 13:24
The Reverberation Station
Nice to see the sun and a little blue sky. It’s still cold, but not as much. And the clouds are due soon. So I’ll take it, for now.
I feel like I slept too much last night. Which balances out barely sleeping at all the night before. At least I know my prescription works.
Trying to develop the habit of starting my day with tea, ambient music, and a good read. Seems like a good way to gear up for the new day.
My copy of the photographer’s bible (according to my photographer friends) arrived today. I’m looking forward to diving into it, along with the bazillion other interests I have. This is why I’ll never be one of those retired cops pining away for my past life. I’ve got too much shit to do!
Speaking of which, I’d best hop to it.
The Reverberation Station
It’s shaping up to be a fairly productive day. Errands were run, then home for a little casual listening.
There will be more attentive listening in the office shortly, where requests for review await me.
The end tables have been assembled. It was painfully easy, and now order had been brought to mild to moderate chaos.
One is in the living room music corner helping to tuck away the jumble of wires and cables.
The other got my typewriter off my desk and onto its own spot in the office.
The back pain has returned with a vengeance. I’m sure the lifting of things (like that damned box and the typewriter) didn’t help. But the shot was wearing off before then. And NOW I remember what I forgot at Walgreens: Motrin. Dammit! Guess I’ll pick it up in the morning.
I’ve gotten used to the look of constant snow in the Chicago winter. Im still not fond of it, even if it can be pretty.
It’s like a houseguest you expected and agreed to tolerate for awhile. Only now it won’t leave!
That being said, I hope the next round of shots help with the pain, because I’d still like to give Bane a go in the snow. That’s what his tires are for, after all.
On to the next project.
The end of a highly productive day. I know I was busy, because the TV stayed off until 21:45 or so.
The website has been updated, reviews have been written, interview prep was completed, and everything but one item was crossed off my list. And I’ve managed to keep the house clean.
Off to bed shortly. Another busy day awaits.
February 8, 11:16
The Reverberation Station
Outside, it’s bright but cloudy. Inside, it’s shaping up to be a day of “hurry up and wait.”
My 14:30 interview needed to be moved to 11:00, so I had to kick my brain into gear a lot sooner than expected. Not the easiest thing for a non-morning person. The quiet morning read requires a little extra jolt via coffee and Nine Inch Nails.
I rushed through my morning clean-up and prep only to have the interview moved AGAIN (but for a good reason) to this afternoon. That’s the way it goes.
I’ve been asked more than once why I choose to put so much effort into interviewing musicians few people know about. The quick answer: How are you going to hear about them otherwise?
Sure, there are a couple of “big fish” I’d like to land for chats. And perhaps I will someday. But it can be such a challenge to work your way through the machine of managers, publicists, and other barriers. If you’re fortunate enough to get that far, then you’re often told you have 15 minutes to conduct the interview. There’s no depth to be attained that way, so what’s the point?
Lesser-known musicians are far more willing to take the time and make the effort. Sure, it’s for their own self-promotion purposes most times, but that’s fine. They get what they need, and I’ve established a rapport for things down the road. Win-win.
My back is in a foul mood again. I think it knows more injections are coming tomorrow. I’m hoping to talk the doctors into expanding the range. This is getting ridiculous.
An up and down day. My interviews finally came off and went well. Up. The website continues to come together and more efficient ways to post content has been discovered. Up. The pain center called to inform me that my insurance company still hasn’t approved my procedure. Very, VERY down! The pain is growing steadily worse. This is torture! Phone calls will have to be made.
Taking a little time to watch the Bulls. A reward for a fairly productive day.
February 10, 11:11
The Reverberation Station
Another gray Chicago winter day. But it could be worse.
Inside, I enjoy some quiet moments with Robert Fripp while the engines in my brain spin up like old school propellers. I’m sure there are four of them, and only Prop 1 and Prop 4 have kicked in. My busy day starts on 45 minutes, so hopefully the others will spin up shortly.
I should be home from another round of injections. Alas, there’s an insurance hang up. Figures.
It’s a busy day nonetheless. Starting with an interview for Bernie and a live stream from GoGo Penguin, who have a new drummer. And I have magazines to skim for potential musical adventures. And that’s just the beginning.
Frustration, joy, elation, irritation. This is my afternoon thus far.
In all my days in music journalism research (first book, web site contribution, second book), I have never been part of a bad interview. Not once.
I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. I just didn’t need it to happen now. A series of monosyllabic answers backed up by “I don’t know how to answer that” doesn’t help me very much.
My questions aren’t complex. Personally, I try to keep them fun. But I felt like I was annoying my subject, who volunteered to talk to me! Toward the end, my subject managed to open up just a little. But the sense of purpose was gone. I cut things short. There was no point in continuing.
My irritation was curbed a bit by getting to see GoGo Penguin perform from London via livestream.
I still deeply regret skipping the Chicago show I had tickets for a couple of years back. I was tired and didn’t feel like hopping a train and getting a hotel. Dopey me. My last chance to see them in an intimate venue may have come and gone. Regardless, I won’t pass on my next chance to see them.
There was more joy when a package I wasn’t expecting until next week arrived today.
Oh, yeah! I’m getting my geek on!
The statue was assembled quickly, and The Mandalorian now protects my desk.
It’s the little things that make me happy.
The mystery of the denied back injection claim has been partially solved. The next steps will be taken next week. Here’s hoping …
February 12, 13:41
The Reverberation Station
Sunny. Cold. Normal.
Up at a reasonable hour (long before now) for a change. As I got dressed I realized that I could hear a human voice. Given that I’m 11 floors above the street, that seemed odd. Yet I looked out my window, and there was the source of the sound.
I have no idea what he was on about, but it was bugging him. Mental illness? Maybe. I’ll never know from up here.
The morning read, tea, and tunes came off as planned. And is still going, actually.
I’m taking to the photography book with particular relish. I have my first lesson next week, and I’m really looking forward to it.
In the PD, when we trained at the range, the instructors called us “shooters.” Make sense. Now I’ve learned that photographers call each other the same thing. I like that better.
Last night, I took in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was highly enjoyable.
The number of inside jokes and Easter eggs was pretty much countless. A second viewing will be required to catch them all.
For now, I’m spending some musical time with Bill Laswell, whose grooves never get old.
I’ll be in the office soon enough, tweaking the website and assembling playlists. Followed by some much-needed Bernie work.
February 13, 00:05
I didn’t accomplish quite as much as planned. I had a pretty busy week, so I cut myself a little slack. I’ll make it up before the game tomorrow. Or technically, later today.
Winding down with reading Ted Gioia and listening to Robert Fripp make soundscapes.
No doubt some people don’t like Robert’s ambient pieces because they are melodic, but have no discernible melody. Therein lies the beauty. The improvisational nature of the music makes predicting the next notes virtually impossible. Which means repeated listens will not lead to predictability like a song with lyrics would.
Well … for me, anyway.
Made some headway learning about my camera. No doubt I’ll have to do the exercises repeatedly in order to make them stick. But I learned what a couple of terms meant, which was nice. I’m entering a world where I will use my camera in full manual mode. What a frightening thought!
This comes from a desire to be taken seriously as a music journalist, even if my iPhone camera does take terrific photos. This raises the bar just a bit, and I’m all for that.
Time to make my way to bed.
Downtown has disappeared. That usually means weather is moving in. Oh, well … I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.
I’m calling it the Morning Tea, Tome, and Tunes. It seems to be taking hold.
Beats turning on the TV first thing every day.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so my evening is set. I’m also supposed to have company. Chances are, the game will take a back seat to music and chat. That’s fine by me. I still hope to get a couple of things accomplished between now and then. So, I’m off.
Waiting for a software upgrade. Why I chose to do it right when I was ready to start working is anyone’s guess.
My sister bought me an Alocasia plant as a housewarming gift some 16 months ago. I’ve managed not only not to kill it, but to help it grow. Perhaps it’s because I have my late parents watching over it.
Meanwhile, Jazz Sunday starts with Miles before a planned musical trip to England.
I’ve been appalled by the amount of time I spend with my phone glued to my hand. But when I think on it, I haven’t exactly been wasting time. My phone has actually been part of my workday.
I’m looking up needed information, constantly updating my social media (a requirement if you want to maintain a presence and build a following, I’m told). I’m writing reviews, essays, and diary entries (ahem) for my website. I’m not wasting time. The phone is actually helping with productivity.
Most of the time.
Update complete. Back to it.
It’s a wonder I can get anything done, when all I want to do is gaze out the window on an afternoon like this.
Nevertheless, the spirit of Bernie Worrell is consuming me. This is a good thing. Work has begun anew, with a bit of relish.
Naturally, there were a couple of complications revolving around the transfer of data, but I think I have it all figured out.
February 14, 15:49
The Reverberation Station
The sun is out. Always a nice thing. Kinda funny when it dawns on me that I haven’t been outside in several days. Well, I have to go out tomorrow.
Inside, Bernie research leads to the flow of words. It’s a nice feeling, indeed.
A change in narrative approach seems to have made a world of difference. I’ve opted to write the book out of sequence, like I did with the last one. A little editing “in post-,” so to speak, will help everything come together.
Before diving into writing, I went and collected the art that now accompanies my LEGO salute to NASA in my office.
As much as I dig the reflection of rocket in frame, I can’t see this art from my desk. So, it had to move.
This is much better. As easy as it is to just stare out the window, it’s nice to give myself a few things to look at indoors, too.
Bernie research continues.
February 15, 13:40
The Doctors Office
It’s rather nice out today. I actually got away with wearing a car coat rather than the full-on parka. I’m thinking that’s a big deal in this town, this time of year. But it won’t last. We’re hearing rumblings of another 10-plus inches of snow headed our way. Guess I’ll make sure I’m stocked up.
Sitting in the pain doctor’s office again, hoping to get on the same page. It figured that of all the doctors and medical professionals I’ve met over the past several months, the one I need the most is the one I vibe with the least.
Sleep was broken again last night. I was hopeful since I got sleepy on my own just before midnight. Alas, it was bed at midnight, awake at 04:00 for two hours, then back to sleep for three.
Spent the first part of the day reading to peaceful music and waiting for when I needed to go out. Hoping the afternoon and evening revolves around website and Bernie work. At some point, I need to dive headlong into video editing.
Plates are spinning.
February 20, 20:33
Now, where was I?
It’s been a busy few days. The plates have begun to spin even faster.
Going back a day or two …
The doctor and I finally got on the same page where my back treatment is concerned. This unity was translated to the insurance company, who got the message. The next day, I got a call to come in for an injection the following day, rather than the following week.
I was hesitant because I knew we had weather moving in, but I took the appointment anyway. And while I did get my next round of injections (complete with baking the nerves in my low back), the office ran some 90 minutes behind. And I paid the price.
My normal 25 commute home took almost two hours in the blinding snow. Kudos to Juan from Lyft for being calm and patient, making it possible to get me home safely. A nice Thursday.
Erik and I hung out for a bit on Friday, including a brief run by Dusty Groove.
I haven’t been in a real record shopping frame of mind for awhile. Probably because I have so much stuff lying around I still need to play and review. So, two Oscar Peterson records were more than enough. The Mexican seafood meal and good company was all I really needed.
But the weather wasn’t done with me yet.
Friday’s big feature was a squall warning. My first. I don’t know whether I experienced it or not. All I know is that I stepped out of Erik’s car to make my way into my building, only to discover walking forward was impossible for several seconds. In fact, I was reasonably sure I was going to be tossed in the opposite direction, records and all! That was a new one.
Writing has kicked back into gear. Seeing a title page printed out helps things feel a bit more real.
My friend Keith Wakefield — a huge Bernie Worrell fan — was kind enough to “beta test” the first couple of chapters for me.
It seems to have gone over well. I’m more than encouraged to keep going. I’m finally starting to feel a sense of momentum.
Today was the photography class. A nice foundation (much of which I had been introduced to via the Understanding Exposure book) was out into place. I may dive deeper into the class in the near future. But the pull of the book is much too strong right now. Perhaps later this spring or summer.
And still more plates are being introduced.
February 23, 11:12
Nice to see the sun again. Even if it is cold. Again.
Writing has taken over my world. Finally! A chapter I had to no intention of working on (and no idea how to start it) revealed itself to me. Before I knew it, I was off and running!
It will be the Bernie book’s most controversial chapter. But it needs to be said. The story will not be complete without it. In policing, the words you put in a police report can send someone to prison. You remind yourself to be careful about how you say things. No one will go to jail because of this chapter, but perceptions could be drastically altered.
The research material continues to pile up.
Still, the Big Binder of Bernie feels wrong. It feels inefficient. At some point today, I’ll probably go about rearranging it.
Ed is right. I really am persnickety.
February 27, 17:06
I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll. Book work is slowly turning into a near obsession.
I’m spending less and less time on the other parts of my musical world. I’m okay with that. I’m starting to feel like making Bernie the dominant part of my world for the next three months could very well produce a solid manuscript. As much as I long to do other music-driven things, I know I need to do this NOW. Nothing else will flow properly unless I deal with Bernie FIRST. It’s the right way to go about things.
Things got a little more real when the first printout of my manuscript got a binder.
This means I’m thinking about editing. It’s a big step. There will be tons of printing, to be sure. But this is … meaningful.
Someone mentioned how difficult writing a second book is compared to the first one. There’s truth in that statement. There was a definite mental barrier to clear. Getting the physical issues taken care of is another key step. That, like everything else, remains a work in progress.
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.
Would you like to have your record reviewed? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org