ON FINDING STUFF OUT

Welcome to Wednesday and one more blog post.  This is the one year anniversary of www.kleimansays.com, and I am pleased to report that I didn’t miss one week!  That’s right, 52 Wednesday posts in a row.  This was Kiki’s idea.  She said an author needs a blog.  So blame her.  At first it was easy, but there’s only so much material. Still, even with no material ready to write about, like today, I sat there and banged out a post every Wednesday for one year, come rain or shine.  Sure, they weren’t all great, but overall the response from readers has been very positive.  Now, I quit.

Nah.  It’s become a healthy habit and I like it as it sure beats working.  By the way, besides friends and family, do any of you actually read this thing or do you just “like” it?  There’s no way to tell.  In any event, if you do read it, or even if you don’t, please share it with your friends and loved ones.

Today, I looked at Facebook, which is usually annoying.  Lots of political stuff today, and a couple of celebrity deaths like the great lyricist from the Grateful Dead, Robert Hunter, truly a great rock poet. Hunter penned many great lines (and he used an actual pen for most of them), but this is one of my faves, from “Franklin’s Tower” on the Blues for Allah album (side note: why was there no fatwa issued on the band for this album title? Just wondering what the rules are for that):

“Whichever way your pleasure tends, if you plant ice, you gonna harvest wind.”

I always liked that one, especially the second part. Sounds like an adage, an old saying, meaning, you get out of it what you put into it, and that’s a good piece of advice for us all.  He was a good one.  Rest in peace.

robert-hunter-jerry-e1569348684733
Robert Hunter (l) with Jerry Garcia Photo: Jay Blakesberg;

Back to Facebook, a friend of mine posted a video of the Mets when they won the Eastern Division on this day in 1969. Those were the Miracle Mets and it was quite a thing for the fans.

Watching the video, I heard the old organ at Shea Stadium, the old Thomas organ that played little songs and ditties between innings and when players were walking up to the plate, etc.  The organist was named Jane Jarvis.  I heard her play many, many times at that stadium, but didn’t know much about her.  But now we have the internet.

I always pictured some older, gray-haired church lady playing that organ back there behind the scoreboard where the sound seemed to be coming from (she was actually up in the press box level).  But I was a kid and didn’t notice that the musical phrases were often very jazzy and also exhibited a sense of humor, a commentary on the game as it went along.  (Another aside: the speakers Jane played over were part of the same P.A. system the Beatles played through in 1964).

Well, today we have google, and Jane was no church lady.  Born in 1915, she was hired as a staff organist and pianist at a radio station in Gary, Indiana at age 12.  Her parents were killed in a horrific crash a year later, but she somehow was able to complete a music education at many fine schools and conservatories.  Here she is at the Thomas in the 60’s, and then later in her jazz piano days in New York.

 

She first played organ for the Milwaukee Braves.  She moved to New York, not to play organ for a baseball team, but to become a producer and artist at Muzak Corporation. That’s right, all those elevator and doctors’ office songs.  Thank you Ms. Jarvis!  She later took the Shea Stadium job as a side gig.  Eventually, in 1978, she retired from Muzak as a VP and Director of Programming. She quit the Mets job the following year to go back to her love of jazz performing and composing.  She died in 2010 at age 94.  Wow.  And to think, I would never have looked her up without reading my friend’s post.

This is a way to use Facebook and other such social media for good instead of evil. Most of the time we read a post and see something we might want to know more about, but we’re too busy to look it up.  Instead, when something triggers some interest, take a look and you’ll probably learn something unexpected.

This happened last week when we attended a benefit and live recording session for a jazz album at Capitol Records in Hollywood, in legendary Studio B, where greats like Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Glen Campbell, Frank Zappa, Babs… the list literally goes on and on and on with names that most music fans will at least recognize if not adore… made best selling, hit records.

 

This was pretty cool in itself. Later, my friend and I were talking to the sound engineer who was mixing the in-studio sound, a tech-geek guy with hipster glasses, long, straight black hair and a beard. My friend asked where the reverb chamber was.  Reverb is an effect added to make the sound fuller, and is present on most recordings to different degrees.  The guy said that the reverb chambers were under the garage of the building.

cap paulkiki
Kiki, who made me write this blog, and me at Capitol Records, where there are no longer any records.

We were like, “oh yeah, that’s cool.” But it got me thinking: under the garage?  Just how big were these chambers?

Well, if you know anything about me, you know I love to research.  It turns out that these chambers were designed by Les Paul himself.  That’s right.  As if being a virtuoso guitarist, inventor of the electric guitar and hugely successful composer, producer and recording artist wasn’t enough.  He also lived to 94.

610_paul_intro
The great Les Paul – photo stolen from Milwaukee Sentinel who borrowed it from the NY Times

Turns out there are like 5 or 6 large trapezoidal chambers under the famous building, with microphones on one side and speakers on the other, and the engineer can send the sound signal down to one or more of the chambers to get natural echo/reverb into the mix and then it goes back up to the studio and… voila! Reverb that has been compared to the sound in a cathedral.

In contrast, the reverb tanks in old guitar amps are smaller than a shoe box.  Those you can drive a car into.  That’s just so darn cool.

See?!  I found that out in like 2 minutes.  It’s worth the time.  Then you get stuff to write about.  Better yet, this is majorly good dinner or cocktail conversation fodder, especially if you hang out with musicians or music aficionados, because it’s very interesting and most people don’t know about it, even those in the music biz.  Or if they do, they don’t talk about it much.  You’ll sound like an expert.

Here’s my lame attempt at recreating a photo of Paul McCartney:

 

In other news, I mean other research, I’m having fun researching phrases that people used in the south during the Civil War, where my novel is set.  I’d like to share a few with you.  Just another example of fun things to be found on the good ol’ internet, which as we all know was invented by Al Gore himself.

“Clean his plow” means to beat someone badly in a fight.  I like it.  Very concise and visual.  And the word “clean” makes it sound less violent.

“Full as a tick.”  Here’s a good one that should be brought back.  It means drunk. It’s kind of funny, and also gross.  Me likey.  Another good one for drunk is “roostered.”  Where did that one go?  C’mon, bring it back!  Let’s get roostered!

A “flannel mouth” is a fancy or smooth talker.  That’s a good one to throw at someone because they might not know if it’s good or bad, depending on your tone, so you can play with their head.  Just don’t play soccer with it.

And finally, my personal (most humorous) phrase: “Hot as a whorehouse on nickel night.”  Well, heck, that needs hardly no explanation. Makes you want to take off your hat and fan yourself.

Lots of phrases and idioms were in use in 1860 that still are common today, such as “the jig is up,” “fork-over,” “hang fire” (maybe not as common), and “play to the gallery.”

So what have we learned today?  That I have too much time on my hands?  I wish.  I’m not sure what we’ve learned, but I sure learned a lot.  And I just told you all about it, so if you paid attention, you learned it too.

If you have fun reading this blog, then imagine the bliss and joy you will experience upon reading 414 pages of me talking to you kind of like this but with less personal pronouns: Smoking in Bed: dreams of love, sex and terrorism.  Available in paperback and on Kindle.

Hope you all have a great week!

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s