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Friday, April 10, 2015

Bam boom.

What are you going to do, play on garbage cans? That works for some songs, but how long can it possibly hold up? We need a more permanent solution to our problem. (Did I say that?)

squxOkay, so ... this will come as no surprise to any long time followers of Big Green, but we make recordings using technology roughly equivalent to stone knives and bear skins, as the late Leonard Nimoy once put it. (My guess is that he had 1000 times the resources when he cut "Mr. Spock's Songs from Outer Space," but I digress.) We are plagued by technical glitches and the spotty performance of superannuated recording equipment, including a first generation digital workstation with no practical means of exporting song data or sound files (namely a Roland VS-2480 from the year 2001). It is choked with projects and ready to keel over.

Now, don't get me wrong ... we have invested in newer technology. Mitch picked up a new blender last week. Great for daiquiris (I hate daiquiris!) and it makes a nice whine on high. Marvin (my personal robot assistant) installed a new oscillator the other day. THAT cost a packet. Seems like when it comes around to music gear, the well runs dry. Not freaking fair, I say. But then, I'm liable to say anything by this point in the day, or perhaps just build sentences using words that Android suggests (Android:) the same time as the most important ...

Yeah, see? This machine doesn't know how to make sense. Give me a rudimentary non-verbal robot assistant any day. Still, with our grueling production schedule - 20 songs a year, sometimes 50, sometimes umpteen thousand - we need to come up with a way of plugging these suckers together, like widgets on an assembly line. I'm sure this is the type of problem all songwriting teams have encountered since the beginning of recorded music. The difference between them and us is, well, we're not paid. But it's the mission that matters! Huzzah!

What is our mission again? Oh, right. Finish the songs.

Best practices.

Hard to find the words to describe how I feel about the video of Walter Scott's murder at the hands of an officer of the law. I think the thing that impressed me the most about it was the craven disregard for the victim's condition, as well as the casualness of the officer's actions and apparent demeanor. I am inclined to suspect that the police department was telling the truth when they said, prior to the emergence of that video, that the officer had followed proper procedures. That this represents standard operating procedure comes as no great surprise. The question I have is, why didn't the Eric Garner video prompt a similar self-examination within the NYPD?

Standard Operating Procedure (African-American version)Of course, the North Charleston Police Department would likely have stuck to the police officer's original story if the video hadn't surfaced; that Scott had grabbed the officer's taser, that he had posed a threat to the officer's life, that the cops had administered CPR in some kind of timely fashion. Feidin Santana's video put the lie to all of that, and in so doing, threw into question every official claim of following proper police procedures. Those initial reports sounded like what we heard after Michael Brown's shooting. But then, so did the web cam video that captured the police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Has anyone gone to jail over that? Not yet.

Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and now Walter Scott - their treatment at the hands of the police demonstrates an important principle with respect to African American males. In the eyes of the authorities, black males can never be children. Neither can they be adults. They are trapped in a perpetual, errant adolescence. Tamir Rice was doing what any white kid might do: play with a toy gun. I did it a million times as a child of 12. But in the eyes of the Cleveland police, he was some kind of superpredator that had to be killed on sight. Brown, same story. His super crime? Shoplifting. Penalty? Death. Garner and Scott - both adults - are treated like errant adolescents, never given even common decency, let alone respect. Why are you driving that Mercedes, black man?

Often times, best practices can lead to the worst outcomes.

luv u,

jp