Sunday, December 31, 2006

Back From Puerto Rico, Part Two

Part one was the last post. It's now the morning of New Year's Eve. I've done a gig an party and a workout since then. Tonight there are many parities and then my full gig season completely kicks in. Crazy time is upon us. Here's the rest of the trip story:

Another night we drove about an hour to the town of Fajardo Eat of San Juan, where we boarded an electric powered boat and slowly hummed over a twisty canal through the mangroves to a bioluminescent lagoon. Quite phenomenal. Billions upon billions of one celled creatures called dinoflaggellates favor the conditions of this protected lagoon. When they are touched, by anything, they light up! We watched a greenish glow in the water behind the boat and gradually noticed all the fish swimming just below the surface, all lit up like green glow-in-the -darks. Imagine the spectacle of a ray going by. Then Bree dove in and I got to watch my daughter swimming like a light fairy. I reached over the side and scooped up a handful of light and watched it drip through my fingers. Just call me Zeus. Impossible to photograph this unless you are National Geographic. Cathy is great around a camera but didn't attempt this. I didn't dive in because the idea of diving for an hour and a half in a wet bathing suit full of one celled creatures, just didn't appeal to me enough.

The language thing. If you are growing up in a bilingual household, you have an excellent chance of becoming eloquently bilingual. You might even adopt two appropriate accents. My nephew's kids have accomplished this at ages six and five. If, however, you are an adult, you process learning new stuff on the left side of your brain and your chances are less certain to adopt a second language. This I know is true. How difficult and uncomfortable is it to be in a place where nobody is speaking your language? You should have the experience. How scary is it when you really NEED to know what's being said or written? I think I know now.

San Juan airport dancersThe airport was quite harrowing. If my daughter hadn't heard the number 25 being announced in Spanish around some other words she was less sure of, we'd still be in Puerto Rico eating Mofungo. They changed the gates on us. In Spanish. Some people got lost in that translation or lack there of. We were also an hour late to let the Space Shuttle land. That may or may not have been announced in the airport. Even if it was in English, the chance of hearing it over the mariachi band and dancers would have been slim.

Alejandro and Sophia We had a delightful day at my sister Judy's house near the beach. Her son, Stefan, brought his two children, Sophia and Alejandro and we had a smashing day exploring an old World War Two bunker, and a secret beach. We had a native meal in a seaside restaurant in Naguabo. The owner stayed open for us even though he was closed. His daughters pitched in to cook. Then we had a fifth birthday party for Alejandro with new years hats because that's all we could find. Sophia insisted on cake, hats and noise makers. She can read Happy New Year in two languages so there was no fooling her but she appreciated the effort. It was sad that their mother was working and couldn't join us.

We had many splendid meals with Judy and Stan throughout the week and I had my fill of Mofongo. My body can wait another year or two before I do that again. I'm a no fat kind of guy, after all. "No fat" apparently does not have a Spanish translation. Two percent milk was as close as they dare come on that sunny island.

So here we are home among piles of stuff to put away or throw away. I'm tossing my CD jewel cases in favor of envelopes. Gotta save room. I'm up to the M's and I might have enough room to keep my entire collection and accumulate a few more.

A very busy season of gigs to get ready for. A lot of weight to lose. And songs to write. Always songs to write.

I'm hoping to have some pics and video up soon as I contemplate my yearly renewal of my life goals. Resolutions sound too much like something you have no intention of really keeping. I have life goals! They work, for me, way better than religion. Takes a lot less time, aggravation and money too. And since one of my life goals has always been to avoid conflict, I'm not likely to start a war.

posted by Bud @ 7:27 AM

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back From Puerto Rico

Podcrapular Back from our trip to Puerto Rico. I got back to discover that I have been declared Podcrapular by Golf Widow and Andy on their Podcrapular podcast. I love listening to these two. They just get better and better. Funnier and funnier. I put them in my iPod so that I'm sure to listen to them on the run. I rarely have time to sit and listen at home. But that is why they call is a podcast, isn't it? Go there now and subscribe to their podcast.

So I'm back and it took a day and a half to unpack and three solid days moving and sorting stuff into my new , still unfinished, studio. I have not yet read a single blog.

The audio wiring is not done in the studio so I can't actually do any music. But I did jerry-rig the internet connection and moved all my stuff in. Let those guys work around me. They have to install four ceiling speakers with switching, and the speaker selection arrangement to the rest of the house from there. They have to put a workable end on the central vacuum line so I can suck out all the saw dust, etc. Then I have to figure out how to wire all my stuff together to make it usable.

I sorted through tons of accumulated paper work and found there was not that much I could discard. I have years and years of little notes and big notes and pictures drawn by school children. I can't throw that stuff out. That was an important part of what I was actually paid. That stuff validates the last part of my life. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time. WAY better than TV or Hollywood recycled crap that you have to pay $9.00 to see. I have to rotate photos that I put out. As I began this writing, Cathy gave me the mail which contained still another photo from a pair of kids who are ready to graduate from High School. I haven't seen them in about 6 years. They just wanted to let me see how they've grown. I only had a small part of helping them grow but I'm thrilled they remember my part. That's why I loved teaching. That's why I'm completely satisfied that I didn't become a journalist or a musician but kept those things as side lines.

PR beachPuerto Rico was beautiful and even warmer than South Florida. The major differences are that coconut palms are the dominant tree as opposed to sable palms. And there are lots of hills and mountains. In Florida, anything higher than six feet is either on a golf course or it's a land fill. PR beach dogs
PR Iguana Here there are no dogs running wild because we have lots of alligators. Their favorite lunch is dog. In PR there are no gators and wild dogs are as common as squirrels. They have a serious problem with iguanas eating shrubs and crops. They are not indigenous there so nothing really eats them accept the occasional lucky dog or a dog who can climb trees.

PR condom world The further you get from San Juan the less likely you are to run into bilingual natives, except in the resorts. My sister lives in a regular upper middle class native community on the south east shore. She manages to communicate but she works at it. Her husband is president of their homeowner's association and not only does lack Spanish but doesn't even pronounce the name of their community correctly. Again, it's better than TV, watching this. We found it impossible to order food in American chains like Chile's. Nothing was in English. We were amused by the signs for Condom World and wondered if we would have difficulty ordering there. "Muchos profilacticos grandes, por favor!"

PR Bud & Bree We took my daughter Bree and son-in-law Josh with us to celebrate Christmas, her completion of her masters degree and student teaching and Josh's successful back surgery. We stayed in a Sheraton in a gated town called Palmas Del Mar. Nice digs. Four dollar coffee. You have no idea how much coffee I drink. Triple digits. Puerto Rico hasn't discovered fat free anything yet and sugar is a major food group. My pants don't fit that well now.

PR dog on roof We spent a day in the rain forest know as El Yunque, a mountain in the clouds that dominates every view toward the center of the island. How to describe such a place. It's mystical for one thing. Very primal sized trees. Lush green hiding the ruggedness of the landscape. Roads that are just too scary when a tour bus or dump truck is coming at you around a blind curve, an event that occurs every two tenths of a mile. They want to build a trolley up there. I hope they don't. Our favorite stop is a roadside cafe with a dog living on the roof. Cathy sipped coconut milk right out of a freshly hacked open coconut. Bree and Josh had more conventional rum drinks. Ice tea for me, the caffeine hound.

I'll post part two in a day or two. Before the New Year, Promise.

posted by Bud @ 10:43 PM

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Thanks enormously to all of you who have been so kind to listen and comment about the new songs I posted. They are very rough vocally at this point and I'm grateful you were able to overlook that to just see where I am with them at this point. Nothing is ever finished, nothing is ever perfect and nothing lasts forever. Wabi Sabi. You've all been very encouraging and I'll plug along to try to get a real recording done for the new CD.

My Particular Brand of Weirdness
If this were a weird-thing-about-me meme, I'd have to admit that I don't pay much attention to holidays. I don't get at all pumped up about them or decorate or go out of my way to do special things. I usually remember to wish everybody who cares a happy (fill in the name of the holiday here) and attend things I'm invited to unless they involve religion or Christmas carols. I avoid singing Christmas songs at my gigs and don't try to book many things too close to the holidays. I don't consider myself a humbug because that implies too much overt activity. I just don't care to exert much energy toward it all. I don't get involved in the ongoing debate about Christmas greetings and decorations in public places. If my utter indifference causes outrage, it is one more sign that we really need a secular government. Believe whatever the hell you want but please don't try to legislate it.

I'm not sure what the reasons are for the way I feel nor do I care to exert the energy to find out. I don't know what feelings my attitude or lack of attitude generate in other people. If it's particularly bothersome to them, I trust they'll get over it as I don't go off on their beliefs or life styles that differ from mine.

Studio Update
I've been very preoccupied with getting the new studio finished I think by Christmas it should be mostly done enough for me to actually teach guitar in there and work on music but I'm not positive all the audio wiring will be operational. I'll try to post video when there is something to show.

Leaving On A Jet...
One more gig this Wednesday and then we're off to Puerto Rico on Sunday for about a week to visit my sister and her family. Taking my daughter and son-in-law to celebrate her finishing her masters degree and student teaching. A biology teacher she will be. And okay, we'll celebrate Christmas too as my sister's grandchildren will be around. What can you bring precocious bilingual children who already have everything?

As soon as I get back, my season begins in earnest with several gigs a week and lessons as usual. This runs until Easter. This is when I make the bulk of my music money and it'll finance the new CD and help pay off some of the new studio.

My postings will be thin but I'll continue to read each of you. I hope you have a fantastic holiday season and that your new year starts off with all good intents. Decide to make the best of it and the best it will be. That's really the core of my belief system. It's always worked for me. Do whatever works for you. Cheers!

posted by Bud @ 8:32 PM

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Okay, Here's the Second Song


BUD: Michael, as a friend of yours I want to help your project for 12 year old Sahara Aldridge by asking just a couple of questions for my readers. I know we have many different bloggers and you have really been on a partial hiatus with blogging since September 15th. But you've also been running 14 to 16 hour days non-stop since November 6th trying to get people to the Rick Springfield Benefit Concert for Sahara Aldridge from your home town to make a positive statement of love and mercy. Where is the project at this moment?

MM: Clearly, the project was dealt a devastating blow from a number of unscrupulous people and unethical acts. A local radio station contact who tried to help me out with public awareness is just heartsick about what has not been happening and he has been--literally--screaming at me to cut my losses and just let this project go. He sees people here locally who were in a position to grant me enormous Television and Radio coverage FROM NOVEMBER 6TH FORWARD that would have really benefitted Sahara Aldridge and their business interest as well--- even in the so-called "Sweeps" (ratings) period. Instead, they gave me the proverbial "back of the hand" and this has sickened him. He even tried to bail me out by approaching a well-heeled source to buy up 54 concert tickets and motel rooms. The plan shifted to getting that done and then giving the tickets away on the air. Our source waffled and then backed away. Fortunately, I had no financial exposure to the concert arena seats being held nor the hotel rooms. Several young women committed to the trip, then stonewalled me by refusing to answer follow up e-mails. Next, the Radio News stations began pulling this same crap. It was awful. The only way I've been able to push ahead and keep a healthy perspective is to turn away from this dark undercurrent and focus stubbornly on the hour-by-hour events as they unfolded. And I did this by bearing in mind what my mandate is. I have promised Sahara and her family that I would be able to bring 56 people from a city of 1.5 million to the benefit concert to demonstrate by our presence that we want to Sahara to beat her cancer and get well! I still believe she can. But as my 87-year old Aunt says, "An outstretched hand must be met with another". When Jimmy Buffet or The Stones tour here, people drop hundreds of dollars, drive hundreds of miles and blow a lot of bread. Here I am dangling a carrot with a mere $35 concert ticket and a $69 hotel room with a FREE ride aboard a $300, 000.00 luxury Tour Bus. Greyhound Bus Lines charges $161.00 per person for the same round trip destination. Yesterday, with the "Sweeps" period over, the Number-One Rated TV News station, WCPO ABC 9 interviewed me on camera. It's true. I have worked night and day in pouring rain, in 19 degree weather, canvassing an area that amounts to a 100 mile radius by car and foot. I'm not trying to outdo Mother Theresa or gain a blue ribbon. I'm doing this from my heart. My focus now is: "Can I salvage this project?" The next 48 hours will tell. I'm beyond exhaustion. But I have no regrets. None whatsoever. I did the right thing and I still have hope.

BUD: Can you briefly sum up what has gone right out of this huge set back?

MM: I can! Here are the positives. Mayor Mark Mallory has granted me a Proclamation to make this Friday "Sahara Aldridge Day" in Cincinnati and that was major! Next, I managed to bring aboard four Fed Ex/Kinkos store managers to cover my expenses for computer rentals, faxes, e-mailing and production costs associated with the Tour Bus signage and so much more. This expense alone has exceeded $3, 000.00. Cleveland Sports Talk Internet Radio owner Paul Belfin has deployed 2.7 million e-mails nationwide, and 127,000 targeted emails to Ohio residents. Plus he's running a commercial twice an hour 24/7 until the event begins. Missouri television, radio, newspapers and magazines interviewed me even on Election Day and beyond! Without going into the details of all the one-on ones, and the exhaustive visits to churches and industry to "work smarter", at the end of the day we have reached a staggering 3.7 million people who now know about this trip. So, let's see where the TV news coverage lands us. I still have faith. And I MUST stay squarely focused on the here and now. Not yesterday or tomorrow--at least in terms of bringing in this project. There will be time for debates later. Now is the hour for positive life-affirming action only. The final chapter may still have a positive ending.


Now back to our regularly scheduled blog:

I realized I should get this next song up and explain it fast before I have to spend the rest of the week answering queries about when it's okay to listen to the next song. You're all so obedient.

Can't Leave My Mind is the second song that came to me spontaneously, words and music together. And it came the day after I wrote the last one. This process is starting to take root but I'm not going to depend on it 100%. I'll take songs in any way the come. As I wrote several posts ago, I had just brought home my new Taylor GS and this song leaped out of it at me. It's about how Cathy is never really gone. Naturally, this song, like all songs, took over and wrote itself at some point and it started being a little more general/universal. So it works on a lot of other levels for different people.

I just did two tracks of guitar and one vocal take. Again, it was late at night so there were no contractors banging things around. I often sing way better than that. Like when I'm awake for instance. Had a terrific gig at Bella Luna last night and Deja served me up just enough iced coffee to supercharge my performance.

Can't leave my mind is the second song down. I hope you'll give a listen.

Good chance my new studio will be 85% done by the end of this week.

posted by Bud @ 10:49 AM