EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Wild Weekend | Baghdad By The Bay

The Case Of The Unknown Guitarist…

I was never much of a conspiracy theorist, but sometimes something happens that you just have to say, WTF?!?. The latest started one day when I was cleaning out my cabinet in my recording studio and came across some CD’s that didn’t have any labels on them. This was unfortunately normal for me several years ago and I started to pop them in and try and identify them. I came across a song I had forgotten about from back around 2001 that started with a strange call I received and that’s where this story begins.

I need to give you a little bit of background so you can understand the head space I was in then. While I had been in a band that played around the city and I was always hanging out in the local clubs that was in the 80’s and early 90’s. After I got married, while I was still a musician I wasn’t playing live or in a band. Hell, my band broke up in 1985 before the local scene really started to get big actually.

I still had lots of friends in the industry that I’d be in touch with and occasionally I’d get a call to help them out with a recording they were doing. I wasn’t really on the pulse of what was going on anymore.  I actually didn’t know that several of the bands that I liked from the 80’s were still together and releasing albums until recently.

This is where it starts to get interesting. I got a call one weekend from a friend of a friend. He told me that he was recording a band at the Record Plant and their guitarist got in a car accident and they were burning studio time. I hadn’t really played with a band in almost 15 years at this point aside from some small side gigs in a studio and I was told that this was pretty much all it was. I was suggested because they needed someone who played like guitarist X. I have to use an X here because I don’t really have enough to go on so I can’t name the guitarist, but I figured it was some sort of cover band or a band covering one of X’s songs and I was pretty much known for being able to play like this guitarist because, well he was kind of my idol in the 80’s. I said, let me grab my guitar and find some extra strings and I’ll be right over. Don’t worry we’ve got everything you need just come right now.

I didn’t think much at the time, but I drove over there and was handed a guitar that I noodled around with for a few minutes. Mind you this was a guitar very similar to the guitarist’s I was supposed to be emulating so I figure wow, they weren’t kidding. It was actually the same brand guitar I played. I started to adjust the tone on the amp to get it to where I thought it needed to be and I was told, don’t touch it, we’ve got his tone dialed in.

OK they had everything figured out, no problem, I just chalked it up to being professional. The bass player and drummer where there, but they had pretty much recorded most of what they needed except they needed more guitar. I jammed on the song a couple of times with the band and then we went straight to recording. It was only a couple of takes and then I went back and re-recorded the rhythm parts. They liked what I did and told me that it was perfect and no one would know that their guitarist missed the session. Cool. I was supposed to get paid $250 for the job and they ended up giving me $500 and asking me not to tell anyone I covered for their guitarist.

I actually knew so little about the band that I didn’t know the name of the guitarist, let alone the band and just figured I was getting paid to play guitar and I headed home with my money. Time spent about three hours total.

It was fun being in a big studio one more time in my life and playing the CD they sent me on this day reminded me of that time. So much so that I decided to post it to some friends in a sort of, remember back when sort of thing. It was when I got a call from a friend I hadn’t talked to in years that the story got interesting.

It turns out that somewhere around this time he was one of a few people called to see if they knew anyone who could play like this guitarist. It turns out the guitarist had fallen on hard times and had well, gone missing during the recording and they needed someone to cover for him. I honestly didn’t even know this guitarist was still recording and thought he was just another guy who’d show up for a guest gig here and there and that was it. Now this was only one song I played and like I said it was an in/out kind of thing so who knows how far this could have gone. There could have been several guitarists called in and they just picked from what they liked the best. I found the album that the song could have been released on and I have to say that it does sound like me to a certain extent. Well, me sounding like him. The worst part is that it was 12 years ago so I can’t say for sure. I notice things that are different between the two, but the singer [who I never met] sounds exactly the same. That’s one of the problems when you’re doing a cover tune is that people try to sound exactly like the original. I did have a bit of a habit of overplaying a bit and there were signs that what I played were there, but that was also based on a few changes the band I was playing with had added to the song. On top of that the song was originally recorded in the 70’s so even bands from the 70’s update their sound a bit over the years.

It all comes down to the question of was it me being asked to cover the part of one of my idol guitarists who couldn’t make the session or was it a band doing a cover of said guitarist? I can’t say for sure. I definitely can sound like him because he was a big influence on me, but the whole idea of me being him on his record is just too hard to imagine. Probably the worst part is that if it was me, I’ll never get recognized for it because no one would ever be able to admit it was me.

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Whitecaps: Barbabos

Yes, this isn’t about San Francisco, but remember it’s my wild weekend where I get to talk about anything and today I wanted to talk about Whitecaps in Barbados. I have a couple of close friends who have purchased a three bedroom house there that when they aren’t visiting they rent it out. They needed a website to best display the house so who do they come to…me of course.

I have never visited Barbados, but from the looks of the pictures, I definitely will one day and I will be staying at Whitecaps. I was given a tour via skype of the house [yes, the house has wi-fi] and it is pretty spectacular. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach because you’re literally about 50′ from the beach. Barbados is definitely geared for tourists which if you look at the photos in the gallery you can see that there are many shows that go on for free at the local plaza that’s within walking distance.

The food is very inexpensive there and fresh the fish and Barbados goats are all over the place so chances are good that it was alive a few hours before you purchase it. When you bring it back to the house you simply hand it over to Waple who is your personal chef that will cook all your meals. You also have a personal concierge who will help you arrange your site seeing trips around the island. In the evening you don’t have to work as there are two security guards that will make sure the house is secure. You also have your own maid service so you don’t even need to worry about making your bed every day.

Just to give you the full blown what you get for your money, allow me to cut and paste from their website:

  • Three bedrooms for a total of six guests
  • Three private bathrooms: two with tubs, one with a walk-in shower
  • Wet bar
  • Flat-screen TV with Bose sound system
  • WiFi internet access
  • Your own personal chef
  • Your own maid service
  • Located on Mullins Beach
  • Lovely shaded garden area for entertaining

Whitecaps is right on the beach halfway between Mullins Bay and Gibbs Bay — a mere stone’s throw from the highly regarded Mullins Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Mullins Beach.

There is a 24-hour convenience store within a five minute walk to the north and a fabulous little gift shop, the Shell Gallery, a fifteen-minute walk to the south.

Further north lies Speightstown, a picturesque old town with a historical museum, an art gallery, a small supermarket, shops, a four-star restaurant (Mango by the Sea), banks with ATMs and a fish market, as well as farm stands offering the freshest tropical fruits and vegetables. It is about five minutes away by bus or taxi. To the south is Holetown, a larger community with high-end boutique shopping, a large supermarket, cafes and gift shops, banks with ATMs and a number of four-star restaurants. It’s ten minutes by bus or taxi.

While there are regular buses to and from Bridgetown, and taxis can be reserved for dinner dates, most guests will rent a car to have full run of the island, including the night life of St. Lawrence Gap and the many historic and scenic points elsewhere.

Note that for what us Americans consider a time to take a vacation is considered the off season and is $345/night. If you get another couple or two to make trip with you it becomes downright affordable. It’s pretty much always in the 80’s dropping to the upper 70’s at night so you won’t have to bring a heavy coat. I suggest lots of tank tops and shorts and maybe an eye patch if you want the total Pirates of the Caribbean vibe.

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Why I Dislike Republicans

A good friend of mine Tim McGranahan posted a link to Facebook that really got me livid. Author Robert Draper has written a book that talks of how Republican members of the House of Representatives met on the day of President Obama inauguration to plot how hold back any progress President Obama was trying to make to his Presidency look bad. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell has even been quoted as saying, The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

I had always though this. I had a very good job that paid me very well that I got through the JobNow! program created by President Obama to help unemployed parents get back to work. It was due to end September 30th, 2009 unless it was continued. The GOP set its foot down and refused to help it continue to keep people employed. I along with over 250,000 other Americans were put out of work and sent to the unemployment office [I actually dislike Libertarians more because they want to get rid of the EDD as well as Social Security].

It took me almost nine months before I could find another job. A country is supposed to take care of its people and so are its representatives. If they aren’t doing it then we aren’t a country. We are a group of puppets with people we’ve supposedly elected pulling our strings, remember while the word democracy is thrown around a lot we are not a democratic country, but a federal republic. This means that when you vote for President your representatives [electors] generally vote the way you do, but do not have to by law. There have been cases in the past where the vote of the people has not equaled the vote of the electoral college. Some of you might remember Bush v. Gore where Bush got the electoral votes, but Gore received the popular vote.

It makes me feel sometimes like We the people that starts the Constitution didn’t refer to you or I, but to the politicians. When many of the most vocal Republicans I see on T.V. are known for enormous wealth and little tax debt, I find it hard to believe that some of my friends are poor yet Republican. What the GOP that is running our nation is trying to do is more of a trickle up than down. They get richer and we get poorer. The middle class barely exists anymore and that’s a problem. My parents were Republican until Nixon’s watergate debacle, but the GOP was a lot different back then than it is today. Hell, even during Regan’s days it was different than it is today. It’s been said that Regan couldn’t earn a GOP nomination today. See the video below:

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Facebook IPO Attacks Tech

I don’t buy stocks and now I have an even better reason not to. Facebook managed to have one of the worst and most embarrassing IPO’s in history. I do follow stocks, mostly of tech companies I like and noticed that the day Facebook opened and its stock took a dump so did everyone else’s. Apple faired the best, but it still has sunk.

Social media has lost the game now. It’ll still be around, but it will be a smaller group. I’m hearing about all these new social media apps where you can share pictures, video, your location so stalkers can find you. There’s a new one everyday. There’s even a Social Media app for people who don’t like to use social media, it’s called Google+.

I doubt Facebook will go away anytime soon, but it’s certainly going to be hurt by the damage it’s caused to all the tech companies. Most of which are in the Bay Area. Now those companies that are privately held will have a much harder time getting investors and especially if they’re a social media start up. Mark Zuckerberg has figuratively screwed the pooch with this IPO. Sure he made money from it and he already had money, but I’m sure his investors will be poking him very shortly to answer for this debacle. Many investors have also invested in other tech companies and they’re probably all sweating like a man on his way to the gas chamber.

The value of Facebook stock has dropped 25% in the first week and people are thinking it’s going to keep going in that direction. It doesn’t do much besides let you find people you haven’t seen in years to become friends again, yet meet up with face to face. It’s going to be interesting to see where this turns in the near future. People already didn’t like Facebook for the changes it made and how it made things you wanted to keep private to only your close friends public to the world. If you haven’t done so already it would be a good idea for you to check what your page looks like to the public by going to the Activity Log and choosing View as…

You might be surprised at what you see. I’ll still stay on Facebook until the new whiz bang site comes along, but it will be interesting to see how long that is.

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Paying The Bills

I had realized that I got screwed yesterday. It turns out when you get a bill from a company you need to check it carefully and not just pay it off and forget about it. I paid my phone bill which was an astronomical $396 dollars and then started thinking. Why is it so high? I started looking at the numbers and realized a few things that I was paying that I didn’t need to pay.

1. I received a text message from a company called ClickGen that I ignored, but after contacting my phone company found out that the FCC actually allows this company to send text messages that if you don’t respond with OUT you get charged $9.99 a month. Lucky for me they reversed the charges.

2. We’re on the Universal Lifeline service because we don’t make money in the 1%’er range, yet we’re still charged tax for the people who receive Universal Lifeline service. That was fixed with the call.

3. The bill said I hadn’t paid last month’s bill so that was added in, but upon checking I had and I mentioned that I had proof that I had paid the previous bill. Upon hearing that they credited me $156.09 dollars which means my next bill will probably have to be paid in August.

Lots of us get bills and just pay them. Its a good time to look over every aspect of your bills because these companies while I won’t say a re totally unscrupulous don’t exactly have their act together because they let their computers do their thinking for them. Because of this they sometimes make mistakes, but they won’t admit that as long as you keep paying your bills.

Keep a good eye on the bills you  receive. I get emails from GoDaddy almost monthly telling me that my domain is about to expire yet I’ve never registered a domain with GoDaddy. These are tactics that companies use to get you to hand over money to them that you don’t need to and if you complain they’ll just say it was a computer error to try and avoid admittance of fault on their behalf.

If you keep your eye on your bills you might find that you have more money in your pocket at the end of the month so do what I have done so you don’t get taken.

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My Dad, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Memorial Day

I don’t talk about my Dad much. Once I turned 13 something changed and we kind of became enemies at times. There were good times when he told me stories, but they were mostly war stories because that was so much of his life and if even half of what he said was true he was not a guy to piss off in a fight.

My Dad was 15 when my Grandfather divorced my Grandmother. His sister stayed with her Mom and my Dad got to go with my Grandfather. I never met anyone on that side of the family, but my Grandfather had the brilliant idea to move from Philadelphia back to his native city of Riga, Latvia. 1930 was not a very good time for this because shortly there after Latvia was at war with Russia in the takeover of the Baltic states.

My Dad always laughed at how he and his friends would blow up train tracks the Russians used and steal their barrels of vodka and bury them in their backyards so no one could find them. How many punk ass teens would go around blowing up trains for the vodka just to get a buzz on over the weekend. This went on for awhile until the Russians started wondering why the train tracks all around a certain area were getting blown up. One of his friends got shot because when you bury vodka in the ground you have to dig it up and you usually spilled some when you’re trying to get it out of the barrel. My Dad’s friend and family were shot on site by the Russians.

My Grandfather was so furious with what my Dad had been doing that he tossed him on a boat at 18 to send him back to the U.S. He didn’t get along to well with his mother and sister and he decided to join up with the Merchant Marines because it seemed like a safe bet for him at the time. Well, it wasn’t 1941 yet so he was pretty safe. Until Pearl Harbor  and then he was a Merchant Marine during wartime. That meant he wasn’t a civilian, but now a soldier.

He was sent off to supply the ground troops in Europe along with moving troops to Europe and shooting at anything hostile in between. His ship was stationed in Italy that was safe at the time. It was Northern Italy I believe and when Germany finished with Austria they came to start talking with the Italians and my Dad was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Seeing the Germans approaching while he was on shore out of uniform they were suspicious of him. Luckily he spoke German and convinced them he was one of them. Great. The Germans took him back with them and now he was fighting for Germany by being sent on Operation Barbarossa to help dig trenches for the attack on Stalin.

While on the front line Russian soldiers caught him and told them he was merely a Russian peasant farmer who was capture by the Nazi’s and put to work. He spoke Russian as well so he managed to keep a bullet out of his head and now was serving for the Russian military.

He somehow managed to escape one night and I’m sure there was lots of vodka involved. He worked his way back to Italy to a part of Italy that wasn’t so friendly to Americans. So now he’s wearing the uniform of Il Duce’s army. He was stationed on the coast in Southern Italy which oddly enough a passing Merchant Marine ship became the target of the coastal forces.

As my Dad always said the Italian Army was so corrupt that they weren’t worth shit in a fight. He managed to get out of the way and hide and when the Merchant Marines send scout teams ashore his perfect English came back and he convinced them that he was one of them. He got back on ship and they checked him out and found him to be who said he was. He was back to safety by then and the war was almost over.

He went through hell during WWII, but he was always a survivor. The war was not kind to him and they didn’t talk about PTSD back then. They just gave you more cigarettes and beer. Towards the end of his life before the hear disease set in he was smoking a pack of Pall Mall non-filtered and drinking a 12 pack of Budweiser a day. I can see now it was to help him forget the memories of WWII. It didn’t always work. I would always see him go off and cry around the holidays because they were never fun for him. We don’t have many pictures of my Dad for some reason. I guess he only liked to be photographed with me when I was a kid. I did manage to find one and that was the day I came home from the hospital. It’s probably one of the few pics of him where he has even close to a smile on his face.

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My Manly Man Experience First Week

So on my first chance I tried the new double edged razor and shaving soap and found them to take a bit more time and needed some help at the end from the fusion razor to get a good close save so I decided to test in various combinations to see which would work out the best.

Next shave was with the 5 blade fusion and shaving soap. It was faster, but just as close a shave as with the double edged razor [probably because I finished up with the fusion]. I can see using these in a hurry, but I’m also used to shaving against the grain with the 5 blade fusion which probably was why it’s faster. In both cases no nicks or blood in either case which in my opinion is good.

Third time is the double edge with fusion gel and shaving against the grain. No problems here. Took a little less amount of time, but I still had to finish off with the fusion in a few places. I’ve been told while reading around that the Dorco blades that came with it are not very aggressive, well now I understand that means they are so sharp, but I did get almost as close with a double edged razor blade than I did with a five bladed razor that cost about $4.87 each as opposed to the double edged blade that I can get for around 8¢.

Four time is the double edge with Col. Conk shaving soap and against the grain. Still not as close a shave. I think I have to get some sharper blades since I once again had to finish off with the five blade fusion, but it was faster. I have a sample pack on order from West Coast Shaving and should have them by Monday. From what I’ve read the Dorco blades that came with the razor aren’t considered very sharp. In the mix of blade is a set of Feather blades which are supposedly not for the timid or untrained in double edged shaving. I think I’ll wait a bit until I’ve had enough practice to try those, but I think I’ll have this down in no time. So far not a single scrape, nick or cut. If anyone out there still uses double edged blades and has some blade recommendations I’d love to hear them.

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