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February | 2007 | PJ Newman

All Things Being As They Are

Can life just get any weirder or more stressful? I truly hope not, dear readers, for if it does, someone will most definitely get very hurt!

Case in point: I finally got the keys to the new studio but 10 days after signing the lease. Did I mention that I was the only one who signed the document? Not the landlord? Not quite kosher or legal? The biggest reason I was sweating this is because my partner in recording crime, Jon Stone, is getting ready to become a dad any moment, so he’ll be taking himself out of circulation. Jon’s doing the design and overseeing as much of the construction as he can before he has to start changing diapers. On top of that, he’s also building One Reel’s new world headquarters in Pioneer Square.
I got so fed up that I gave landlord dudes a deadline that I either needed the keys or my deposit back. 2:30 pm of deadline day, he calls up and requests a credit check. I’m thinking that maybe this should’ve been done before I signed the lease? When I flip him shit over this, he asks me for an additional $2000 in deposit. Finally, I e-mailed him asking for my money back. 9:00 pm he calls and literally screams at me for being an ingrate for not appreciating all of the work he did for me that day! That day? Where the fuck was he for the past 10 days? He then tells me JUST HOW IMPORTANT the managing partner is, how they had to shove the lease under his nose as he was boarding his private jet to Australia and and and….
I reply that I understand JUST HOW UNIMPORTANT I AM and how understandable that I should be forgotten. A few seconds of dead air later and he says I’ll have keys at 6:00 am!
Noon thirty later, the keys are sitting on my desk in a torn envelope. Now the fun begins.
All seriousness aside, I’m relieved to finally get rolling on this project. As my Klingon cousins are so fond of saying, “It shall be glorious!”

Stress in the work place? Say it ain’t so! But alas, dear readers, stress has been laying eggs in the bottom right drawer of my desk regularly and they have begun to hatch. Ever since I returned to American Music/Triamp Group, money and inventory have been disappearing faster than the ozone layer. We went as far as not allowing cash transactions to try to staunch the hemorrhaging of legal tender. About a month ago, a customer came in to pick up his guitar in or repair. He was told he couldn’t use cash, so he went across the street and bought a money order. Of course, he didn’t fill in the “Pay to the Order Of” part, so the money order and receipt vanished later that day. When I mentioned to cast and crew that we’re waiting for a photocopy of said money order to arrive and culprit shall be terminated and prosecuted, the reactions were classic. A few were outraged, calling for blood and crackers. One wasn’t there, didn’t care. One joked nervously. One asked immediately for a leave of absence.
Film at Eleven.

Last Saturday pretty much saw critical mass. I was asked to do sound for a Mardi Gras party in the heart of Fremont, a risky venture at best. I arrived early afternoon and began to assemble the sound system. Not quite state of the art, but hey, it’s in an old beer brewery, so what could go wrong?
Funny you should ask. Firstly, they were missing a few key components (speaker cables). I made a list of things I needed and called the shop to have gear pulled. The shop was in panic! MC decided to pump about 16 gallons of gasoline into a diesel truck. Luckily he caught his blunder before starting the truck. That caused a mad scramble to get the gear to the Sheraton for load in. Then SR’s girlfriend needed to go to the emergency room.
I went to the shop to grab some cables and the phones were ringing off the hook and the showroom was filling up with customers picking up gear and the few “Oh, by the ways.” I got back to the brewery and finally got everything working. Little did I know that was only temporary. Finished sound checking Capt. Leroy and the Zydeco locals (minus the guitarist and one monitor mix). The production manager (?) told me that he would bring what I needed for the show when he came back from dinner. I guess we both had different ideas about what I needed. I was thinking along the lines of more monitor cables, an amplifier and some spare somethings. He thought I wanted a cheap extension cord. OK, run back to the shop for the 3rd fucking time and grab what I can. Everything starts on time and works perfectly. Soon, I noticed a change in stage volume. Sure enough, the monitors that I struggled to make work died. I tried swapping cables restarting the amp. Nope, sorry, no service after 8pm. I tried telling anybody who would listen (the producer of the event) about my problems. Got blank looks and a pat on the shoulder. Somehow managed to pull the gig off with 1 monitor mix (tough when the 2nd band is a piece with 3 horns and 4 vocals). Then I get a call from MC at his show at the Sheraton…”The wedding is tomorrow!”
Well, of course it is! It’s a Jewish wedding ceremony. Nothing happens on the Sabbath.
The band plays an incredible 2-hour non-stop set and leaves the stage.
I leave, too.
Back at the shop at 8:30 in the morning to load a few trucks.
Robert is throwing a house warming party of sorts today. We finally completed (?) the rebuild of the front house. BBQ, beer and a band? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to play at noon on a Sunday, Boom box to the rescue.
I’m taking the week off from work to prep the studio for the build. A final measure or 2, pressure wash and watch my dream studio come true. Well, dream studio…of course, that would be in Bali, but this will be the next best thing.
I’m off to decompress and prepare myself for my next adventure…A Bluegrass Festival.

Hoping this finds you well, exhausted readers.


Butros Butros-Ghali

Why is the name Butros Butros-Ghali Stuck in my Head?

Greetings, equally bewildered readers. I don’t know why the former Secretary General of the UN’s name is lodged in my brain. For most of the day, it was the Beatles song, “Misery.”
To tell the truth, Misery is still playing, but now they’re singing his name in the chorus. I must find a better combination of painkillers and lunch entrees….

Finally, and I mean FUCKING FINALLY, signed the lease for my new studio space today. Seriously like pulling teeth from someone who didn’t have any teeth but still didn’t want them extracted. Here, take the money, give me the keys and I’ll send you a check every month. Even I can see the linear simplicity in that.
It’s probably a good thing that I only consulted my attorney a few times and even better that he didn’t actually read the stupid thing. Anyway, I should have the keys in my grubby paws by the end of the week and then we’ll see how I fare with power tools of unspecified intentions.
Seriously though, I’ve been waiting for this since Thanksgiving and here it is the 2nd week of February. I was ready to pack it in and move to Bermuda if it didn’t happen sooner than later. I suppose that I can still buy the shorts…

What else, dear readers? Well, let’s just see what’s sticking to my psyche like peanut butter (chunky) to the roof of Mifune’s snout…

Did I mention the little fall I took at work a month ago? Well, it’s gone from an inconvenient gash on my right shin to non-stop pain. Don’t mean to whine, but it’s become a source of constant contention. I started physical therapy and massage, but the only thing that seems to alleviate the pain anymore is electro-stimulation. Basically, for those of you who are not plugged into the nearest receptacle, it’s….well…being plugged into the nearest receptacle! There are like 4 sticky bits connected to electrodes attached to my lower back and I’m, for no better term, electrocuting myself. Something about stimulating the muscles to keep them from scabbing over. I don’t know. Painkillers are fun until you need them to actually kill pain. What a bitch!

Last night at the Tractor, Peter Himmelman stopped by for the first installment of this year’s “Next Book” series. For the uninitiated, Next Book gathers Jewish writers to come and read their works and sell and autograph and leave warm fuzzies all around. If you know Peter, well, this just ain’t gonna happen. Peter showed up a bit aggravated by having to be driven around by someone who just wouldn’t shut up.
Do you have kids? Do you work in a semi-stressful environment? Then you know of the static that rattles around your brainpan 24/7. Peter’s idea of vacation is getting away from writing television cues and the constant hubbub of Los Angeles is going on tour. So he drives up and basically needs to ditch his designated driver for a few minutes. When he asked me what the series had been like up ‘til now, I said it was pretty much NPR touchy-feely goodness and sell some books. Peter said that he was going to do more like Lenny Bruce-Spaulding Gray with a guitar. And scrotums. He mentioned scrotums quite often during the evening. His scrotum, to be exact. He also touched upon the deaths of his father and sister, a nearly dead rat and a definitely dead possum. It was great working with him and he had the foresight and good taste to invite our good friend Ben Smith to play some percussion and wrestle on stage.

Speaking of work (scant few paragraphs ago), I only have 15 more shifts to pull at the long-suffering day job. I’m taking a week off for good behavior, during which I plan some bad behavior. Well, as much bad behavior you can realize hoisting 12-foot sheets of drywall. I guess if you were my doctor or physical therapist, it would be a bad move. Well, until Star Trek-like anti gravity sheet rock slabs become available at my local lumberyard….

Well, tonight ends 24 days in a row of work with about 5 double shifts thrown in (tonight being one of them). The band has finished soundcheck, my dinner congeals somewhere in a greasy white box and the painkillers have gone on strike or vacation. Did I mention that concrete was much softer when I was a kid? Fucking gravity anyway.

OK, fellow adventurous word junkies, I’m off. I promise to write more frequently and not bitch so much. More good news next time… Don’t eat 100 Advil in one sitting, though. My doctor told me that your liver will melt and it’s not very pretty. Not quite sure what brought that up, but it’s good advice nonetheless.