Saturday, December 30. 2006
So here we are and tomorrow is the last day of this year, bye bye. The fist few weeks of being home are pretty much 'catch up time' for me and fairly low on the thrill meter. To be honest, I don't have much for ya so how about we check out
Once upon a time in August of 2003, I realized that a Rat must weld. So, a few phone calls a bunch of consulting from Tim 'The Thumb' Shanahan and about 3 days later, look what shows up at the hotel! A225 amp Miller mig welder of course.
But what to weld became a quandary and then I remembered that at my house I had some electric scooters laying around so with a few more calls and a few days, a Fedex arrives with two. A pile of bits of metal and some engineering ponders later it began to take shape. The trickiest part was getting the steering together. Being that the cart was so short, I devised a push pull under the seat setup with the invaluable assistance of Scott and Nick the Fly.
Building something like this on tour requires considerable dedication. I carried full set of battery powered tools the red bag, and a box of parts and on days off, the workshop moved
from the gig to the hotel room.
And in the final blitz to get it running and dialed in before tour ended, I lucked out with this hotel room that had a balcony and sunshine perfectly fitting for the mess we made building it. This is the first start of the motors
And the maiden voyage
Dave Lee volunteers to be the first non-builder test subject
I was so excited by how well the cart worked, I decided to test it's capabilities. It turns out that the cart actually was fairly adept at soaring through the air for short periods of time but still needed to work on its landings. My attempt to clear these stairs
was met with a bit less than an optimum outcome and some repairs, adjustments and band aids were then required.
And once repaired and tuned, the cart was ready for all. This is my long time friend Hutch who does sound for Queens of the Stone Age
And Josh from Queens takes it for a cruise
Check out Louie doing the inter gig drive by
And after the tour ended I added a second battery pack and here are the little people driving it around
Cool cool, well hope you enjoyed the mini cart tour. It is a dual motor friction drive. Pushing the bar in the front causes cables to pull the motors down on the rear drive wheels. There is independent braking on both rear wheels that automatically kills the that motor when the break is applied as well as lights up a brake light over the wheel. The steering is controlled by a swivel rod below the seat that attaches to the front wheels.
And on that note, I am off to start my saturday.
The wanting to build something cool,
Wednesday, December 27. 2006
Mental note - Never forget we are always just a phone ring away from the world spinning out of control. In a single moment the unknown can rise up and slap down even the most pristine perceptions of happiness. And just as each moment holds the opportunity for the unexpected to bring elation, equally the passing of time brings the possibility of crushing realities to smash life. And even though I believe that if it were not for my traumas that I would be unable to appreciate beauty, logic does not prevail. Right now I feel connected with all that is not right. People can be devious and deceiving. I see parallels between people and the critters. Some people are like squirrels, playful and and feeding and nesting while others are like snakes that sit in wait in grass. I guess it all fits together somehow and there lays a balance between the hunter and hunted, parasite and host and life force versus gravity and from a distance it all seems to make sense. It is just when it is close at hand that my vision is blurry. And though it is unrelated I must admit that I feel a new caution in sharing my world.
On completely separate note, will you share with me a heartfelt goodbye to James Brown? He will be missed and enjoyably remembered . I heard a quote on the radio today where someone had asked James about what he thought about so many people sampling his music and he had replied something to the effect of "I guess it's cool that they like my music but why don't they write their own music?" I thought that was cool.
Another thing I thought was cool was something I read as I was thumbing through a book on old American logging trains
and came across this
And I realized that I really admire the Buster's of the world. I admire his likable humble confidence and skill without the negative and diluting spike of arrogance. So now, of the engineers I admire several do 'sound' and one drove a train. Oh, and speaking of cool people that I admire, if you feel so inspired, check out this guy Richard Feynman he was a physicist and truly an awesome human. Surely Your Joking Mister Feynman would be the book to read.
The holidays for me brought a a family gathering and we all headed up to my house in Big Bear for a snowy white Christmas of a wonderful get together of several generations from mixtures of families. Disjointed and perfect. Humans venturing together for the sole purpose of sharing time and stories and food and happiness. Meet mohawk snowman and punker dog
built by wonderful aunts and shorties. And speaking of Shorties, meet Jessica, my spirited little niece
And one day in splurge of inspiration I decided several years ago, inspired by train gifts given to me by my shorties and their mom, that a train that traveled around the ceiling would be be cool. So that is what I built, and on a timer that spins, the train activates and around the room it goes
And many gifts were given. It was a holiday to be remembered and once again, like every year, my mom has demonstrated her expertise in gifting by preciously selecting this dapper sweater for me
Well, I do feel a bit jealous. Even though the sweater vest is warm and stylish, I think she may like my brother a bit better. Otherwise, how else could you explain the fact that he got this candle holder a few years back
And also there was the time she showed up with "fortune grapefruits" that were actual grapefruits with little pieces of paper taped to them with scotch tape but I think we will have to save the "mom" stories for another day.
The somewhat somber but still smiling,
Monday, December 25. 2006
Hey, it's Christmas Day! For many people on the this planet, today is a special day and for many it is not. I find the holidays to be an interesting conflict. I love the happiness that people share and I dislike that people utilize the festivities to propagate their belief systems on to others. My dad was raised as an Orthodox Jew. My mother was raised as a Southern Baptist, two quite extreme and opposing viewpoints. Growing up I was faced with some interesting realities. My parents were two people with conflicting belief systems yet I love and trust them both. Trees with bad apples and big boats with an earth load of critters and seas spreading apart and babies that just come. As time went on I noticed that it was so strange that there seemed to be so many arguments in the world around me based on things that I have never seen nor had any logical indication that I would ever see happen. In fact, a lot of these things seemed a heck of a lot less plausible that the things I saw in movies that people readily would laugh at me if I showed any sign of believing to be true. How come an ocean can spread apart and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can't really fly? Airplanes do it! Something is fishy. So today I will share a bit of what I think goes on.
**** Dave Rat History of Religion ****
A long long time ago a bunch of humans are all running around and some Abraham guy is cruising around in the desert and he sleeps with this one chick and she ends up being super grandma to this Jesus guy. Eventually a bunch of humans start rocking out and saying this Jesus dude is the best rapper in the world and so damn good that he is part of the rock show of God. Meanwhile there are a bunch of humans that call themselves Jews that are big into the solo God thing and are not buying in to a new dude joining in. The Christians are all about, "Hey, come on Jew people, check him out, he the one" Jews say "Cool guy but, hey, "hello!, he aint the magic man, and we aint rap fans anyhoo, the God guy is a solo artist." This is where it gets interesting. It turns out that this Abraham guy was a bit of a player with some super sperm and he had gone out and partied with this other chick and she got knocked up and her super grand kid is none other than this Mohammed guy that shows up like centuries later. Turns out that he is also a rapper and builds up a huge fan base that call themselves Muslims. All the Christians are like "Hello, just another rapper but not the OG that we rock to." The Muslims are all like "Y'all are crazy, Mohammed is the Man and he supercedes your outdated old school Jesus' beats and rhymes." Meanwhile the Jews are like "What in the heck are are y'all talking about? They is just dude's and neither of them rock with God." So they all beat the crap out of the Jews and then started kicking each other's asses ever since.
**** End Dave Rat History of Religion ****
It seemed I had somehow been born into an unsolvable situation and refusal to take sides with one against the other, I did much pondering. What if they are both right? Does one have to be wrong? Can multiple conflicting perceptions be simultaneously correct? Is there truly anything that is right or wrong? Hmmmm, here is snippet of the confusion that roams my mind from what I've distilled from the ponderings
The people that are the most wrong, get the most angry. What better way to be right than to fight?
Almost all religions believe the same basic life guiding bits and they just argue about the details. I try and live my life by finding the threads common to all religions and skipping the arguments. Arguments are boring anyway.
Religions are like living entities. Like all other forms of life there is an inherent desire to perpetuate and reproduce and populate. Though most religions may be warm and fuzzy on the outside, they still make a lot of poop and will bite you if you mess with them.
Religious pre schools are often cheap or free as it is a good way to increase membership by recruiting small minds.
All books are words, not truths, nothing ever is truly true in the purest sense of the word, there are just things that less or more people agree with. For something to be truly and perfectly true, everyone would universally agree on it. Try and find something that everyone on the planet agrees on. And that brings to mind...
Never under estimate the ability of human beings to believe the most incredibly absurd and zany things, even if everything in life and survival points to the contrary.
Faith is what humans call 'believing the unbelievable,' sometimes it works out and amazing things happen and it can bring people together for celebrations of common happiness and sometimes in the words of Borat "Not so so much" and faith brings wars and death and hatred and a bunch of human critters spend their lives killing each other rather than eating food and making cool things and hanging out with their little people.
When groups of human minds all focus in harmony in a particular direction, it is an incredible, powerful and real sensation. It is such a powerful, real and amazing feeling that humans have decided to sell and market in many forms. Religions sell it in the form of prayer, rock shows sell it in the form of concerts, motivational speakers sell it in the form of inspirational gatherings and sporting events, well we know how exciting they can be by how well they attract humans en masse. Whether you chose to pay for it or join an orginzation like a religion that gathers to share the sensation, it is important to know that the sensation is natural and free and can be created without cost or strings attached.
Finally, no one really knows the answers or what will happen next, be very very suspicious of anyone that claims to know.
So here we are in the season where nearly every religion on the planet is plugging their holiday into the winter solstice and branding the dinner and family gatherings we share with the strings of their own perpetuation. And to me, it is all good and a beautiful, magic and wonderful thing to see all of us humans clustering and drawn together by love and wrapped in celebrations of life. Strings or not I wish Happy Holidays to all, regardless the your belief system that you have chosen to guide your life. To us and all our friends and everyone else whom with we share this planet. Here is a holiday cheers to warm people. To people that do their best to navigate through life in a positive way and even though we screw some things up. Here is to people that care but do not care so much that it ruins their happiness. Here is to people that strive to succeed but do not fall into the predatory weakness of stepping on others to do so. Happy Holidays! And in the words of The Barfly "Drinks for All My Friends!" Whatever drink that it is that you chose to be drinking.
The hoping I am 'not so much' boring,
Sunday, December 24. 2006
As we approach the new year it is common to reminisce about the journey that got us to the point we are now. So what better time to take a look back in time at what the heck I was doing twenty years ago. Partially out of neglect and partially out of posterity or maybe it is just my rat nesting nature, I have kept many old and ratty things. In the early days of Rat, we would navigate each year by scribbling notes on a calendar. When a phone call came in we would usaully write whatever bands we were supposed to play and the hopefully also the phone # of the person hiring us on to the show day. Here are some excerpts from what we perplexingly called the
"The Far Side Calendar 1986-1987"
October 31 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - UCLA, Ackerman Ballroom (On this show we were low on our normal crew so we hired Henry Rollins and Joe Cole as the PA Crew)
November 1 - 1800 Berkeley Street, Santa Monica (Not sure what we doing there)
November 6 - Justice for Mary - Glendale College
November 8 - Henry Rollins - Lhasa Club
November 8 - Punk Show at Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach
November 9 - Lovedoll Superstar Movie filming at Pitcher College, Avery Hall
November 11 - Henry Rollins at Venice Jail
November 13 - Jane's Addiction - 1743 N Cahuenga
November 14 - Molly Hatchet - Fenders ?
November 15 - Show at National Guard Armory, San Bernadino
November 20 - Blackfoot - Fenders Ballroom
November 22 - Razebrae, Pure Juice and Self 86 - Meters, 4605 Slauson, LA
November 26 - Gone, Zoogs Rift and Saccharin Trust at The Cave?
November 28 - Mood Rally - Fenders Ballroom
November 29 - Ron Miller Hi-Fi -Battle of the Reggae DJ's
December 3 - Hurricane - Boneventure Hotel, LA
December 5 - Megadeth
December 7 - Soul Search - Hollywood Palace (this was an American Idol type gig)
December 19 - Exodus- Fenders Ballroom
December 20 - Alcatraz, Ruff Cutt - Fenders Ballroom
December 21 - Pat Travers - Fenders Ballroom
December 27 - Untouchables - Party
January 3 - Johnny Thunders, LA Guns
January 5 - Johnny Thunders - Scream Club, Hollywood
January 9 - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Fenders
January 9 - Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
January 10- Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
January 16- Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
January 17- Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
January 23- Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
January 30- Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
January 31- Show at Scream Club, Hollywood
February 14 - Classical Performance - Variety Arts Center, LA
**** End Rewind Minus Twenty ****
Hey, if you know more info on any of the gigs or attended them, please post a comment and clarify. It would be kind of cool to add a bit more clarity to the hazy past!!
The somewhat nostalgic today,
Friday, December 22. 2006
The holidays are a time of rejoicing. The festivities are boundless and in order to do my part in spreading holiday cheer, I will introduce to to the happy family Rat.
This is little Maddie Rat
And her sister Sammy Rat
I am their happy dad
And this is Sister Rat
Brother Rat sends his cheer as well
And this is my dad, Papa Rat
And Momma Rat
And we are one big happy rat family. Happy Holidays to all!!
Wednesday, December 20. 2006
**** Mushy 'Getting Home' Speak ****
I used to get depressed when tour ended and I was faced with the doldrums of everyday life. Like a hangover, a motionless depression that would slowly fade as I hacked through the pile accumulated stuff that built up while I was away. I still do. Sometimes I just would not even come home bouncing from one tour to the next as a combination not wanting to miss anything and the thrill of bands paying me money to turn up their sound, combined to leave me near homeless. I never set out to be a touring sound engineer but the temptation and adventure changed that and I fell in love with the motion. I have all but stopped working for other bands touring and it is no longer a financial necessity for me, nor a desire I can not resist. Except for this band and crew. My project for this tour was to never forget what it feels like. My project was to capture the slipping of my perspective over time and see if the essence of what motivated me to spend nearly two decades of my life in motion could be shared. I had no idea about the magnitude of this project I was undertaking. I had no idea of how much I would enjoy it and the best of all is the endless stream of never knowing what will happen next.
**** End Mushy 'Getting Home' Speak ****
Sound systems come in all shapes and sizes and just like transportation vehicles, there is no 'best,' there are only various versions that are better or worse for the application at hand. Attempting a transatlantic journey on a bicycle my be possible but generally it is agreed that a transportation vehicle that also floats would be more suited for the job. Similarly, utilizing a jet plane to travel to the corner market not only would be financially awkward but finding a parking space could prove frustrating, especially this time of year. Occasionally though a perfect match is engineered so well that it deserves credit and recognition. I would like to announce the
**** Ingenious and Practical Sound System Design Award ****
Our first runner up is a PA that was designed and built by an unknown craftsman. Notice the high level of symmetry, notice the height of the mix riser and impermeable vintage barricade around it. If I am not mistaken, this system consists of 14 - 15" and 27 horn drivers per side using three different bass bin designs and seven horn types. Impressive stuff and the sheer fact that they were able to offer nearly a 1 to 1 speaker to audience member ratio is a huge plus. Most likely, given the availability of the audio gear at the time, this represents the apex of practicality. Unfortunately though, there were more ingenuous methods available, even back in those days than to cluster-stack a big pile of horns at ear level right next to the band. Though I was not at this particular show, I will venture to say that it did not reminisce of the sound of angels singing.
Next in line is U2 for this gorgeous but terrible sounding orange sound ball of a system. How do I know? Well I took this picture in 1997 before mixing on it 2 nights when Rage Against the Machine opened for them. So, even though it is ingenuous, clearly it was a set designer's ingenuity and not a sound human behind it's creation which is why it - looks great and sounds bad.
Now for the winner of this most prestigious award goes to none other that our friend Al in New Orleans for creating the Ultimate Bedroom PA!
Not only is it ingenuous, it is practical as well. The 'mix position' is correctly located at a lower level than the PA system and the entire listening area is located distinctly within the optimum sonic coverage. As far as speaker to audience ratio? Well, no question that he wins that one hands down if we count horns and cones, there could be upwards of 8 to 10 simultaneous 'listeners.' Kudos Al for a job well done!
**** End Ingenious and Practical Sound System Design Award ****
The mulling over my own bedroom PA design,
Sunday, December 17. 2006
First order of business is to skip jet lag. I am not going to play that silly little game of being all tired and screwed up and off to the Rat shop. Right now, my biggest stress is peeling back seven months of mini messes that I leave behind each time I on tour break. Endless bits of homeless items strewn about. Clean up time! The worst part is that at some point I picked up a room mate. More of a squatter I guess. The little guy moves in and roams freely for I don't know how long. A couple of breaks ago, with the help of a cage trap and some cheese and my friend Andy, we were able to persuade him to relocate. But not before he ate the only living plant, the corners of a half a dozen album covers and build a few nests. Oh, little ratty rats, testing my patience but ya know, all they want is a warm place to sleep, a bit of food and to exercise their curiosity. At least it was not herd of cows a grizzly bear because they make a lot more poo.
Wayno's Catering (Yes, it is owned by the Wayno who is the band's Personal chef!) going to handle the food for the Rat Sound holiday party, how cool is that? Clean house, clean house. Looks like thirty or so people are coming this year and I have two days. I can't believe the little butt head ate my records.
Off to Costco to stock up on essentials and some party stuff. I love Costco. I love it exactly as much as I hate Wal-Mart. No comparison between the two. Walmart is predatory slave labor compared to the employee partnership of respect that Costco forms. The result? Well, Costco has the lower employee turnover, much better medical plans and pays workers nearly double. Oh, and they provide better products are more fun to shop at, have great prices and treat customers really well. Do some reading up on Costco vs. Walmart http://www.laborresearch.org/print.php?id=391 if your curious. Honest ethical business, great people, great gear, great prices vs pure growth, greed and world domination. The best part of seeing something cumbersomely large is watching it fall!
So the festivities include, massive amounts of awesome food and drink including a pot of Gluhwien, the hillbilly fire pit, Guitar Hero, the Hookah spot (with the Hookah from Keli!) and different tunes in all the rooms.
And Thank you Daniella and Danalle Rat for putting this all together! You are awesome!!!
Well alright, guess what? It's clean up time again!!
The somewhat hazy but very happy,
Thursday, December 14. 2006
Burning eyes and stumbley toe stubbing confusion. Find shower, stay awake, no mini cheater naps that pretend to be helpful. Hey, look at the little teddy and a quick pic of cute little friend I will leave behind, I will name it Jojo, bye bye Jojo!
Did you know this hotel is owned by Abba? Got to go, no time for distractions. Four bags and and only two human arms leaves me shuttling multiple trips. I have long since learned that trying to get a bell hop to pick up bags when two or three dozen roadies are simultaneously checking out, is a pipe dream. So, all bags into hall, bring two to the elevator and push the down button. Get the other two bags and arrive in time to watch elevator leave without me. Repeat the process ito and out of the elevator and again to the lobby and yet again to the bus parked a block away.
Well, at least it is crazy cold out and I packed my jacket up in the big bag and why is there a haunted lady face on the bus door? Ooooh, I hope I brought most of my stuff from the room, oh well.
It is time to reframed my mind for the other world I live in but in the mean time I get to fly to London. Hey look, it's the Concorde supersonic jet. Did you know that the Concorde actually got longer when traveling at top speed? Turns out that it flew so fast that even though the outside temperature would be at -60 C, the friction of the air would heat the plane to +120 C. This temperature change was so great that it actually expanded the plane and it got a foot longer when flying. Wow, a bit of friction makes it 12 inches longer!! Well, this one's days of get hot and long are over as they are for the rest of the manly but grounded fleet.
I am not a big fan of long goodbye's and so the four hour layover in at London's luxurious Heathrow cattle ranch were a bit less than thrilling. Goodbye already, love ya, miss ya, well actually I don't really love London, it's more of a casual relationship we have. Boy is she an expensive date though! I could not afford to love her if even if I wanted to. Plus the whole driving on "not the right" side of the road thing, I think she does that just to annoy me. But there are the good parts and cozy and welcoming place she is, just check out this young woman enjoying the pleasures of basking in a morning London nap
The time finally comes for this sound pirate to sail away on the air ship. To the New World and far away as this part of the journey comes to an end.
Like floating on clouds, the smiling at an adventure well adventured,
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