Brown Shoes Don’t Make It

More fun with old quotations. Another one from Uncle Frank.

"I think that if a person is making music — even if it’s the most crass, commercial kind of crud — that person should be doing that because there are people who want to consume crass, commercial crud. And they’re doing a necessary function for the audience that needs to be entertained. Just because I’m not the consumer of that stuff, it’s no reason for me to go on some big campaign against it. I don’t think it’s particularly aesthetic, but then again, if it’s providing enjoyment for somebody, then fine."

– Frank Zappa, 1983

What Fun Is It Being Cool If You Can’t Wear a Sombrero?

Often do I ponder the Nature of Cool. What is cool and why? I’ve come to the conclusion that what conveys cool in humans is confidence, and that confidence can either be authentic or a pose. Cool can be truth or it can be an elaborate front.

Movie stars and rock stars are generally considered cool by those who do not know them personally. From what we see of them, they move with confidence, either on screen or off. Most often, their cool is a product of their performing skills, their marketing, and their existence inside a glowing screen where dreams come true. Most often, however, this is a pose.

Authentic cool is the sort of cool we witness firsthand in people. Regardless of fame or social status, authentically cool people are self-assured and operate with a freedom that most people lack and therefore envy.

I’m always fascinated by fashion models and their variety of cool. One of our clients is a fashion photographer and I was talking to her assistant, who mentioned that listlessness and boredom have been the general tenor of fashion modeling for the last several decades. The Cool of Supermodels is interesting. They look bored because, as the poet Bill Watterson once said, “the world bores you when you’re cool.” Models, of course, are where the science of pose originates. The easiest way to appear confident and cool is to do as little as possible, lest you give away your pose. If you appear bored, an observer will assume that you’ve been somewhere better than the place you’re currently in, and so you devalue your present location. This sets you apart from your environment, as well as the observer. You are transported in the observer’s mind into the realm of the theoretical, the imaginary, perhaps the idealized. We can’t learn anything about a bored model, aside from the fact that he or she looks good. Beyond that, we are met by a wall of mystique. If a model were to appear excited or involved in anything, then we could learn something about him or her, and the mystique would be broken. The School of Boredom in Modeling retains that mystique, and so it is little wonder that it has gripped the fashion industry for so long.

This was much too long. Maybe I’ll make a full-fledged Two-Bit Opinion on it, since I haven’t had one in a dog’s age.

Also, I have a blue toe and a red toe. My guitar tree fell on me Monday night. I think I might have a broken toe. And my Ibanez Universe has a scrape on the back, which is actually more distressing to me.

Knowing Which Way the Wind Blows

The last weekend of most every month, I play guitar (actually bass, now) at Christ the King Catholic Church. One of the other guitar players there is Ed Buckner, Channel 11’s weatherman. He’s a good singer and guitar player. He was telling me about some of the crazy people that blame him for the weather. Like he’s got some control over it. He actually told me that once a guy told him something to the effect of “I know the government’s got a big umbrella up there” or something.

Also recently I overheard someone expressing frustrated disdain for doctors, which got me thinking. People often disparage doctors and weathermen. I suspect that there are a few reasons for this: 1) both professions involve a great deal of technical knowledge that confound most people (hence causing them some measure of unconscious resentment, particularly among the those who are complete idiots), 2) both jobs are subject to the whims, chaos and complexities of nature (or the vagaries of God, depending who you ask), and 3) people wrongly assume that these fields are scientifically mechanistic. A mechanic can inspect a car and tell you with a great degree of accuracy how well it will run, whereas a weatherman can only make an educated guess about how the weather will behave, and a doctor can only make a diagnosis based in the data available. Both jobs present the challenge of reading signs within an enormous confluence of factors, reactions and influences.

Lest You Think Anything Has Changed in 20 Years

I’m finding lately that reading old magazines can be more enlightening than reading current magazines.

"It’s the 13-year-old girls who buy the records in mass quantities, so the guitarists who make huge amounts of money are in vocal bands. Think about the psychological conditioning that starts to happen: I do less, I make more. It doesn’t matter. Nobody notices. The more poppy the band becomes, the less musicians there are. Certain days I’m real bitter about our lack of success, but other times I know this is the right way. My big gripe is the way the radio stations program the listeners: It’s all aimed at the pre-adolescent, everything. I’m proud to be in an underground band."

Steve Morse, 1982

And Now a Few Words From Malcom Forbes

Here are some great quotations that I came across recently
from Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990).

“Profits shouldn’t be the sole measure of success. It’s also making sure that not too many people are getting screwed by the system, and that people understand that the system as a whole is working for the benefit of the most people. I’m not suggesting that they do that just to be nice to everybody but to be damned sure that the system survives, and it doesn’t help if everybody thinks he’s getting the short end of the stick.”

“I’ve found it hard to swallow a Republican candidate, and in the privacy of the voting booth, I didn’t always [vote Republican]. The majority of the people lean to the Democratic Party because it is the party of greater awareness and greater conscience, and the voice of the Republican Party is often the voice of reaction.”

“The Republican label is endangered, in my judgment, because often the people who call themselves conservatives are merely using a polite word for reactionary.”

“In terms of Government and the economy, I simply think that the way you conserve what you value is to anticipate change, and if you’re not in the vanguard, at least be flexible and open to the nuances. You don’t preserve by dropping roadblocks in the path of change.”

— Malcolm Forbes, 1979

Uncle John in Beautiful Veracruz, Mexico

I added a link on the left to my uncle Johnny’s website. It’s sort of a photo-blog of Mexico. It’s some really interesting stuff. My favorite so far is Santa Anna’s hacienda.

Another website I’ve been meaning to mention is Arkansas Interstates. It has webcams of all current highway work zones. It’s great for seeing what the highway looks like before setting out. It’s nice to know that state is taking advantage of technology. Too bad they’re not promoting it at all. They really should put this on the road signs.

You Can Make a Difference

Recently I’ve discovered that this web thing was true. The Internet can make a difference in people’s lives. Ross Rice has just informed me that he scored a gig as Peter Frampton’s keyboardist/guitarist in part because the Frampton Organization liked what they saw on his website (which I designed and maintain). Additionally, my other musician web project,, has enabled Jan Cyrka to recently discover that Jeff Beck is a big fan of his. Jan was not previously aware of that, and has thus been residing on cloud 9 for some weeks now, as Jeff Beck is perhaps his primary influence.

So yay me! I don’t do either website for any profit; I just did them for the love, and it’s this sort of thing I get in return. Plus occasional perks (Jan has in the past hooked me up with aftershow passes for Satriani/Vai shows).

In other news, I bought a guitar from Dweezil Zappa! is having a big garage sale.

The guitar I got is an Eddie Van Halen replica from GMW. The white one in the picture. Only $300!! I suspect because of this. I think it’s illegal now to profit from Ed’s trademark stripes. So now I have to sell some guitars to make room. Seriously, there is no more space in my living room for another guitar. So I’m selling my OLP and Jay Turser guitars for $150 each (no cases) to anyone who wants them. They’re amazingly high-quality guitars for the price. Both are gig-able instruments and are comparable in quality to American Fenders (well, the Turser is, but I do use the OLP as a backup guitar in Superflux). More info on the guitars page.

Happy birthdays out to Robin, Tracy and Arika! Three girls to whom I freely pledge my undying devotion despite the vast geographic distances between us.

Strange Bedfellows

All of these domains are registered to a guy in Little Rock:

and they all forward to a mile-long page at (the Republican National Committee’s website) that tells of the horrors of John Edwards:

I’m impressed. If they registered all those domains, then that means the RNC probably wrote up mile-long pages for each of the other contenders as well…pages that they won’t get to use. Those are some motivated cats. I humbly bow to the superior flying monkey forces of the Republican party.

Sadly, is still available, despite Matt Drudge’s fever dream scenario of a John Kerry-Hillary Clinton ticket.