Many years ago, I listened to ELP, more commonly known as Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, a progressive-rock supergroup from the 70's. I was introduced to them by my then-best friend, Reid Whatley, who promptly gave them up and made fun of me for listening to them.
Over the years, two pieces of opinion clouded my appreciation for them, but I never gave them up as Reid had. Of course, I grew 'out' of listening to them as a 'favorite' group, but every few years, the urge overtakes me and I delve into them again.
I have a 'best of' song list that lives on my iPod. These songs aren't 'the best' and they aren't all my favorites, but they are the ones I listened to the most and appreciate the easiest.
They focus on the 'suites' on their albums. The songs that are a: long, b: multipart, and c: contain solos on top of the 'composed' parts, and d: intrigue me, harmonically.
I am of the opinion that during Keith Emerson's educational phase, he was harmonically influenced by Paul Hindemith. I can't 'prove' it and of course I haven't communicated with him, ever, but I think I'm right.
The main problem is that I'm not very good at studying music any more. I used to be able to transcribe pretty well, and I have made many attempts at going back to that earlier methodology, but I find that I'm much lazier nowadays and my ear has gotten worse. It's a sad state of affairs.
One problem with transcription of KE's keyboard works is that his main instrument is the organ. Since doubling and harmonic complexity is such a main feature of this instrument, extracting the actual-physically-fingered - 'played' - notes is made infinitely more difficult, and octaves are virtually impossible to discern.
Being at least in 'Discovery Mode', I'm searching out any and all data I can while I'm 'on the hunt', and I've listened harder and with more care, and delved deeper into such resources that I can.
Today, I made a discovery - using the internet, of course - that I've been champing at the bit to find out for years... decades, even.
After ELP broke up - Carl Palmer going off and starting another supergroup: Asia - KE and Greg Lake found a drummer, conveniently-last-named "Powell" (Cozy Powell), and made an album and did a tour. Somewhere around 1986, I think. They were able to keep their logo and the general short name of their band, but I think they called themselves Emerson, Lake, and Powell.
They had a 'hit' with a song called Touch and Go (60 on the Billboard Hot 100). I liked the song, but almost exclusively for the 'hook', which was actually not a 'part of the song' as it was almost totally obviously a 'folk song' of some sort. The rest of the song - meaning the verse - was a single-chord-with-blues-based-melody that held no interest for me. Even the lyrics were not anywhere near the type of thing that used to even marginally interest me back when I was 14-16. But the 'classical bit' intrigued and delighted me, especially since it sounded so damn "English". It easily could have been something Ralph Vaughan-Williams could have written, especially around the time of his OboeConcerto. So I imagined.
When I was at college, I came upon Vaughan-Williams's work during a Summer Session while I was playing string bass in a string orchestra. I learned to love his piece 'Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis', written in 1919. I never spent much time attempting to discover the 'melody' he was 'fantasizing' on, as it never interested me melodically, only the orchestrational and harmonic elements attached themselves to my brain stem and never let go. I got the score - among many others around the time and studied it religiously.
Another piece of Vaughan-Williams had the opposite effect. He had arranged "Greensleeves" for string orchestra, and I'm sure I must have heard it back when I was younger, as many of his string orchestra pieces ended up on the same album as the Tallis Fantasy. I never was interested in the Greensleeves, as, really: who cares? It's Greensleeves, for god's sake. The only thing that is interesting to me about that melody is the differing treatments given by this performer or that composer. In this case, it's a 'dorian' melody, meaning it's not in a Major or Minor key, but in a 'mode', which further means it's a minor 'mode' in that it has a minor third - the most prominent feature of any minor scale - and is otherwise similar except for the raised 'sixth' degree, which lends it a very "English" sound, one that Vaughan-Williams later exploits in his lovely Oboe Concerto.
The main point of my mentioning Greensleeves is the real folk song Vaughan-Williams chooses for the secondary melody. You could imagine getting pretty bored of Greensleeves if you had to hear it over and over again for the entirety of a single orchestral arrangement. You could only state it 3 or maybe 4 times, tops, if that's all you were trying to 'say' - imagine a Christmas-time arrangement you could hear in a department store elevator. 1.5 minutes, really, is all you could take.
In fact, in the Vaughan-Williams arrangement, it is exactly 1.5 minutes before he gives up on old Greensleeves and moves on to this secondary melody.
I have always found this secondary melody of a much more indescribable beauty than that old stand-by, Greensleeves, and have always wondered what it was, especially after hearing Touch and Go several years later and only making the connection between the two maybe 10 years ago, when the two songs were played in some proximity - possibly less than a month or so.
I use Wikipedia every day, and can probably say up to 20 or so times a day, but I've never had any luck discovering this piece's name until today, and it was totally by accident that it appeared, and then, only because of a fluke of Keith Emerson's biographic entry.
Going through the ELP Wikipedia entry did me no good - you'd think something having to do with their numerous albums would bring up an entry on 'classical quotations in the music of ELP' or something similar, but no: nothing about these numerous classical quotations is mentioned there. It's only at the end of Keith Emerson's entry that this list appears.
Therefore, I thank the nameless Wikipedia editor who added this data to an entry that, frankly, isn't one of the best biographies I've read there. His birth is mentioned, as is the age he first got an organ, but other than a few band-names strewn hither and yon, there is very little mention of his schooling. KE has written a book, where I'm going to assume all that stuff is mentioned, so I hope I can get a better inkling - or at least an inkling - as to his education, but at this point, I'm just glad to walk away from the computer with not only a name for this lovely song, but a performance of this very song that also intrigues and delights me almost as much as the 'original' pieces that introduced me to it, namely Touch and Go, and Greensleeves.
Here is Greensleeves in the Ralph Vaughan-Williams arrangement, with Lovely Joan making her appearance around the 1:38 mark
During ELP's 1986 opus, Touch and Go, we meet Lovely Ms. Joan after a short string-orchestra chordal introduction. She says 'hello' often in this work, but for the full effect, check out her final, polyphonic - and far more harmonically-complex - costumery during the last statement (found at 3:15 here)
And finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce to you Lovely Joan, here, nearly-nude in her barely-there garb, performed by the delightfully-named Folkal Point.
The lyrics follow:
A fine young man it was indeed,
He was mounted on his milk-white steed;
He rode, he rode himself all alone,
Until he came to lovely Joan.
"Good morning to you, pretty maid."
And, "Twice good morning, sir", she said.
He gave her a wink, she rolled her eye.
Says he to himself, "I'll be there by and by."
"Oh don't you think those pooks of hay
A pretty place for us to play?
So come with me like a sweet young thing
And I'll give you my golden ring."
Then he pulled off his ring of gold.
"My pretty little miss, do this behold.
I'd freely give it for your maidenhead."
And her cheeks they blushed like the roses red.
"Give me that ring into my hand
And I will neither stay nor stand,
For this would do more good to me
Than twenty maidenheads," said she.
And as he made for the pooks of hay
She leaped on his horse and tore away.
He called, he called, but it was all in vain
Young Joan she never looked back again.
She didn't think herself quite safe,
No, not till she came to her true love's gate.
She's robbed him of his horse and ring,
And left him to rage in the meadows green.
Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:33 pm
Trying out something - A survey!
Of course it doesn't mean anything. I'm perfectly aware of how little I post here, or how useful it is. Just having fun!
See? This is what I was talking about!
I was online today, and I found an article from an IT guy who put into words something I tried to say (and failed) many years ago; something that I didn't think about too hard when I said it. People misinterpreted my statement and got mad at me (and others, too, if you can believe it).
Well, now, after many long years (and people forget so easily the important lessons of the day) I have found a quote that more than makes up for any immature lack I may have presented back in the day.
Let me explain.
In 1997, I was intereviewed for Bass Player Magazine by a man named Thomas Wictor. We had a great time and became friends. He took the full version of the interview and stuck it in a book with three other guys. It didn't sell well, but it did sell out. So I guess there should have been reprints, am I right?
I go on about this and that, and I figured it was just an off-the-cuff thing that people who've never been interviewed before might say when confronted with a microphone, a willing listener/question-asker, and a tape-recorder, but oh how wrong I was.
The letters that came in to Bass Player Magazine were so harsh and personally offensive that I chose not to take an assigment as a columnist taking over for...some bass player who doesn't deserve to be named. OK, they weren't ALL mad at me. Probably 2/3 of them were unkind, but the 1/3 of them that liked me were fine. Whatever. That's not the point.
The point is that they didn't get the full picture. They chose to see what they wanted to see in what I said, and they forgot to read what I'd 'written' and check out what point I had to make as it applied to them. I wasn't talking about being an idiot. I was talking about not caring about the result. Not caring about the position they held and who was telling them what to do.
This article states my understanding of what I said way better than I could ever do. I guess I should have stayed in computers longer.
The company started by hiring freelancers, and they were morons
"Before the company was big enough to have full-time programmers on staff and a real IT department, they hired freelancers and consultants to develop their inventory, payroll, order management system and so-on. All of them were morons. It's not that they're stupid people, but the job itself--the job of being a contract programmer--creates an abstract entity who is a moron.
"Why? Because it's impossible to show the value of refactoring and documentation to a CEO.
"Remember I said that nobody knows what they want. Now say they've hired a consulting firm to design their inventory control and the consultants sit in on dozens of meetings, take notes, nod their heads, tour the building, look at the products, produce endless specs and proposals, then sit down and pound out code. Suddenly a zillion gotchas and change requests wriggle out of the carpet like slugs and maggots. The changes are made, but each one compromises the design in some way. Normally you'd iron-out those wrinkles with a good bout of refactoring, but these consultants are on the clock, and when the first bill arrives the CEO is going to want to know what features he's just paid for.
"Imagine the conversation between the consultant and the CEO. "What's this line item for?" Techno mumble-jumble in reply. "What do I get for it?" Abstract and immeasurable concepts of goodness. "Take it off! I'm not paying for that!"
"So consultants and freelance programmers don't do much refactoring. Once the contract is over they move on to the next job and forget about what they wrote. When something breaks, they start the clock again, hack and hack and hack until it works, submit their invoice and bugger off.
"The person behind the role may be highly intelligent and competent (rare, but it happens), but the role makes them a moron. Sometimes they were morons to begin with, and the role makes them even worse.
"Now you've inherited all that code and you get to fix it and extend it, and maybe--because you're salaried--spend time refactoring it."
End Pertinent Text Quotation
See? I was really talking about refactoring music!
Comment if you think I'm a crackpot. Or don't!
Monday, March 23, 2009, 1:28am
Scott's Report On Performing With Zappa Plays Zappa in Santa Rosa, CA, on March 07, 2009
Hi, you guys. Please don't think the lesser of me for being such a raging egomaniac but I figured it would be better to have this out now than it be all:
"What?! you didn't invite me!" and all kinda like "whoa" and shit.
So let me just hep you who don't know much about what's going on with me lately to what's been going on with me, lately.
Two weeks ago I found out from Eddie that ZpZ added a show in Santa Rosa. I wasn't going to go to Sacto or Santa Cruz on my own, nor do I know anybody at those 'theres." So when I heard they were playing closer to my house, I figgered I best get up there, alone or no.
I called Gail and no answer. I emailed her, and nothing. I was fucked.
So I did my thing, and called the box office hoping against hope that something would happen.
I've been doing this kind of shit for so long I honestly don't care what the result is, I just like following my path and seeing what happens.
Last time I called the box office hoping to get connected to the production office was in 1985, New York, when I told Frederika Kesten that I'd be able to get her into and backstage to the Grateful Dead at Nassau Coliseum. I spoke with someone who actually got me and Freddie passes and we set off to hop on the train to Long Island.
We met up with people who were also going to the concert, including a woman who did make-up for the Letterman show and knew exactly why I hadn't gotten a call back from Will Lee when I showed up in NYC to soak up some of his cast-off gigs and he never called me back (seems I pissed off a friend of his and he didn't wanna have anything to do with me. Coulda changed my life, being nice to some dickwad. Whatever.) and another woman who went to Stanford music department with Phil plus their dates.
We got off the train and waltzed into the gig to get tickets but somehow, through drugs or whatever, we were so fucking late the box office was closed and the only reason we got in at all was the Stanford chick. I didn't even get to see any of the show or even say HI to Phil, but yeah. That's what happened last time I got in touch with somebody at the production office through somebody at the box office. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.
Anyway, I got in touch with an excellent human being (who is used to being a human being rather than a production-office robot) who got me in touch with somebody from the ZpZ production (Maryjo, who used to be tour manager for A Perfect Circle and is a friend of mine for at least 9 years) and I got A Ticket.
I finally realized that it was only that Gail was UP NORTH that I couldn't get in touch with her, and that she makes it a habit to come to Dweezil's last gigs-of-the-tours, so I was trebly lucky.
Getting off the phone with Maryjo, I tried to put my life together so I could drive up without worrying about my family, and while I was doing that, Dweezil called me back within about two minutes asking me if I would want to play that night. He offered me a song called King Kong, which, in the Zappa parlance, is called a Monster Song, which means that it's kind of like a jazz piece in that you play the head (main melody) then you do solos, then play the head again.
But a Monster Song could have conducting and audience participation and any other thing you might think of on the spot or occur improvisational-like because of circumstances concurrent with...
You get the idea.
I got nervous because I don't generally do 'solos' well. I'm just not that bass-player guy who can kick-out some improvisational motherfuckery whenever it's called upon for him to do so. I choke. My fingers get cramped up with trying to be 'fast' and shit.
Sometimes, on video, you can actually see me sweating bullets and bleeding out my eyes. Yuck!
But I said yes, and who knows why? but I did, and I didn't let him push me around, either. I said: A solo?!? That's crazy! I can't do that! You know that!
But he wasnt' having any of it and rightly ignored me. Then I calmed down and said 'sure'. We did some small talk and I got off the phone to put my life together, write out my will, and put the cats out.
I couldn't get anybody to get up the nerve to drive with me on such short notice so I got in the car with my Jazz Bass (the one with flat-wound strings on it, as compared to my Precision Bass, the one with the Round Wound strings on it) and drove up to Santa Rosa.
It was such a nice drive. It was dark. It was the freeway (I love freeways. I've been driving highway Five since I was 15). It was rockin' tunes on the stereo.
It was nerves. It was 'Santa Rosa'! It was history. It was jitters. It was Zappa-stuff again. It was feeling inadequate. It was why? It was not having Georgia there. Or Ed. Or any of my boys. I was alone, and I was waltzing back into a world I'd long put off.
I was home.
I parked, I got out of the car and I walked all the fuck around the fucking building looking for the box office. I found it by walking through the foyer. Did you know that you can walk through the foyer of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa (about four miles North of the City Proper), buy tickets and t-shirts and beers and not even have a fucking ticket? Wicked cool, that place.
Because of the timing, when I finally got backstage and got hooked up with a laminate and spoke with the guitar techs and met back up with my old friend Thomas Nordegg (who did video with Frank back in 1981 and 82 and whose sister I fell in love with in Vienna and whose father invented the circular stage [that rises up from the basement and has been industry-standard for decades] and who I lived with during the rehearsals for the 1982 tour in Studio City) and thanked the production-office guy, James, who helped me get to this point in my life, and hugged and kissed Gail and met up with Chloe (that story comes later) and shook hands with Tom Waits and hugged his wife, and got fitted for in-ear-monitors (more on that later) and had a Malibu Rum from Ray White's dressing room (actually, a curtained-off area that was shared by the entire band but they weren't there right then), the band was on stage!
I ran off to get to our seats with Gail and Chloe and we settled in for a nice show with the Zappa Plays Zappa Band.
Then I heard the strains of something echoing from long ago and I noticed that it was time for me to go play music.
I arose and sauntered backstage to be fitted and plucked and chorded and strapped and tuned and tweezed and coddled and loved and wondered-about.
I wore the maroon velvet jacket, black pants, black shirt, black shoes, and a silver-blue too-wide tie as this photo will attest:
They were playing this groove that was a) in 3/4, was from this other Frank song I didn't know, and b) had a two-eighth-notes and eight-sixteenth-notes figure but was played rather lightly by the band so it was easy to play against.
I did about three minutes worth of stuff that did some stuff and then brought that stuff back around, quoted some Yes stuff the Zappa band used to do (that they'd actually played that night while I was backstage waiting to go on), and ended with a fluffed-note that was actually quite impressive from a stage-craft POV.
Dweezil asked me if I'd like to play Willie the Pimp and I nodded my assent to begin.
Unfortunately, we never really got together on which of the two Willie riffs we were going to do and I didn't change what I was doing (either from muscle memory or pure stubbornness) so there's a discrepancy that I refuse to take the blame for.
But it didn't change the fact that we comported ourselves quite well - I thought - for not having played together in over ten years and my not having done such a groove-a-licious bunch of funkinesses in a very long time indeed
I got off stage, went to the dressing room where I drank more of the Mailbu (this time, though, in honor of my drive home, I mixed with Red Bull. Three times!) and waited for the guys and gal to come off stage.
All in all, I had a wonderful time and I would do it again. In fact, if they come back, I've already asked Dweezil if I can play Echidna's Arf with them to make up for fucking it up on Zappa's Universe. He said that if they had it ready (in their repertoire) I'm welcome to try my hand at it.
Thank you for reading this.
Monday, February 2nd, 2009 10:14am
New Email Address
I am so fucking sorry. I honestly forgot. That's what you get, I suppose, when you let your website go years without updating.
So I'm trying something different and I hope it works. I really don't want to have to do this again.
Mostly, it's because a) it's been so long - what? 12 years? and my email has been disseminated so far and wide it's just gat a terrible signal-to-noise ratio. I just can't deal with it any more. And b) I have an iPhone and I really would like to be able to use it. SPAM is not conducive to using the Mail program. Filters only go so far.
So yeah, my email address is "scott.thunes" (no quotes) at the domain you're on right now. If you can't figure out how to make that work, I'm sorry. I don't know what to tell you. Good luck and see me on my Facebook page or my MySpace page. Although I won't friend you if you try to friend me on Facebook. Only meatspace friends there. But my myspace music page is perfect for the likes of you. Myspace.com/scottthunes.
Tuesday, May 20th, 2008. 4:21pm
Scott Carter Thunes in Marin Magazine, June 2008
A couple of months ago, a fellow parent at my children's school asked me if I'd be willing to speak with a journalist for one of our local magazines about stay-at-home dads. Being a Stay-At-Home Dad, I said yes. Also, I'm a publicity whore. I'm all over the net, right? Sure I am!
So I communicate by e-mail with this nice lady and she asks me a couple of questions. I answer them and tell her when I'll be available for being photographed. I'm a publicity whore, am I right?
But I only answered the first three questions, which were basic information such as my name, my children's names, and my address. I forgot to look further down the email to these really odd questions that I didn't know I'd have to answer, thinking - with the small brain - that I'd have a real-live 'interview' thingie at a later date. I forgot: I've already had my 'interview' thingie and that's all I'm going to get (In Cold Sweat: Interviews with Really Scary Musicians, findable on Amazon by searching for 'wictor') so I only get to answer these standardized questions Marin Magazine asks everybody for the 'last page' Personal Style column.
These questions forced me to think of things I've never thought of before. "Personal" and "Style" are two words that have never passed through my lips within ten minutes of each other, so I was surprised and taken aback. I was information-less and dropped some crap into a reply and sent it off, thinking I'd get a further interview for the 'real' stuff. Oh how wrong I was.
A couple of days later, I received a draft of the finished page, with my photograph accompanied by some rather droll text. Once again, I was whoring myself out for no cash, helping to sell product and generally being the bloody lubrication on the corporate machine. Yay, art!
Report on the Night of May 10th, 2008 - In Which I Drive South To See Joe Jackson in Redwood City, CA, But Stop Off On The Way in Hayward, CA, Where I Purchase A New Electric Cooktop For My Home.
I wrote this for my friend David Kamm and my sister, Stacy Thunes Smith. David wanted to know how the show went, and Stace wanted to know how the show went. Here you go, guys! I hope you enjoy the comedy stylings of your host, Scott Carter Thunes. (It's long. If you have something else to do in the background like brew a jar of sunshine tea or allow time for your weed-killers to work, start now, then come back. We're talking around 10k words and 145 paragraphs.)
Yesterday, I was all set to drive to Redwood City to see Joe Jackson play at the Fox Theater. This was interesting to me for several reasons, but the main thing was seeing one of my favorite musicians, Graham Maby, play bass and sing.
I used to be in rock and play music myself some, so I know what I like and I know that Graham has what I like in a large amount. Musically speaking, you pervs. He's also quite cute, for an old man.
Anyway, I'm thinking it's not such a good idea to drive the 47 miles south, leaving my family in the clutches of fate and chance.
My wife was going to a party put on by my children's school as a fund-raising event. It's called "Ladies Night" and is only for the moms. A few of the dads traditionally chauffeur and I enjoy being a part of the proceedings. Unfortunately, the timing for that couldn't have been worse, as I was committed to making the trek to Redwood City and back.
There was another element to the evening, which was that our electric kitchen cooktop hasn't ever worked properly but over the past week, none of the elements have fired-up with any regularity. The wife and I can spend several minutes a day expecting a pot of water to be on the boil, only to check it 20 minutes later and find that it's cold. Bummer!
I looked online to "check pricing and availability" but found that the cooktop we wanted in our price range was nowhere to be found on the premises of any store.
Then my wife mentioned Airport Appliance, a place I'd never heard of. She'd heard from her mother, Mimi, that it was a great place to go. I checked out the website and it mentioned the "hundreds and hundreds" they have on display. Sounded good to me!
I called them up and asked the nice guy on the other end of the phone if they had the model of cooktop I was hoping to buy. I think I got the name wrong 'cause he said he didn't. I was slightly disappointed but not enough to remain intrigued. I felt a trip to the store, even as far away as it was (about 40 miles), might prove to be a good thing, especially since I was already headed in that general direction, because of the concert, you see.
They closed at 7 pm, the concert started at 8, and it was only around 5 pm when I started my journey.
I had to take my children to their grandmother's house in Mill Valley, then decide if I was going to continue south through SF and cross the Bay Bridge to get to Hayward, or drive back up north a few miles to get to the San Rafael-Richmond bridge. I felt that my goal of getting to Hayward by 6:30 pm at the latest would be hard to make if I had all that intra-city driving to do, but this question was rendered moot five minutes after I started driving.
I had taken my wife's iPhone along with my own, and it wouldn't do for her to not have it. We arranged to meet back up in San Rafael and I made an effort to contain my disappointment that I might miss my deadline at Airport Appliance.
But several minutes back on the road calmed me, especially since I chose to disregard the time and concentrate on driving super fast and listening to some FrankZappa music I hadn't heard in a long while (the entire Grand Wazoo album (from 1972) one of my top three favorites of his).
The directions to the store were a bit confusing but I got there at exactly 6:34 pm and I was excited to pull in to the parking lot and enter the store.
It was a magical place, filled with more lovely kitchen appliances I'd ever in my wildest dreams hoped - no, dared - to imagine.
Unfortunately, my love of wandering was tempered by my fear of not getting to the reason I was there (buying an electric cooktop, 30" x 21.2", and under $250), and I did what I don't normally do: I asked a salesman for help!
The soft-spoken and adorable Randy led me against my gentle protests against taking him from what must have been much more pressing issues to an entirely different building where the cooktops were. It's a good thing too. I would never have found it on my own in the short amount of time left to me. I was that dumbfounded! It was crazy in there!
A veritable forest of refrigerators greet you like so many hundreds of Tin Woodsmen, blocking your view of the entire rest of the universe and demanding your attention. Regular humans dot the landscape with their organic otherworldliness and disconcerting non-steel outer husk of flesh and cloth. Weird!
Later, I found what I was looking for: a great cooktop at a great price. A Maytag ceramic four-burner model that came to around $360. I called the wife and she said go for it and they put it in my car and I left. Phase One complete!
I got back on the freeway and started going south once more. It was only a short time before Highway 92 reared its beautiful head and took me across the San Mateo Bridge in style. I was off to see Joe Jackson, for reals this time!
Redwood City is such a weird place that Google Earth doesn't even show a circle for it until you zoom in reeeal close. Also, I didn't see one redwood tree, but that's just a true cliche.
The city council tried to pretty-up the downtown, even going so far as to build and erect one of those cross-street metal banners (like at Auschwitz) proclaiming the corner of Middlefield and Broadway to be the "Theater District". Cool. Whatever.
So, the main reason I go to rock concerts is that I know so many people "in rock" that I can get tickets and such. My connection with Joe Jackson happens to be my sister, Stacy, who resides in England. She called me up several weeks ago and set this up. I was to get tickets and backstage passes for me and a date. This is standard procedure. Unless, of course, the venue is uptight and cruel. Often the places my friends play are full of motherfucking bastards who take their jobs far to fucking seriously. I mean, really, who the fuck cares if some idiot gets backstage? Kick them out! That's what Security is for! Not treating rock royalty such as myself like some criminal who wants to steal the shit right out of Jack White's asshole. Come to think of it, that's not such a bad idea. Get a lot for that, I think...
Too many times I've been shoved between two unyielding forces, one who wants me to show my wristband but the other saying I can't go near the stage with that wristband, even though I was just there and my wife is still sitting right next to Maynard James Keenan of Tool and A Perfect Circle and James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins and A Perfect Circle while they jam out on some rocking tune and they only reason I've come back down to the floor of the Bill Graham Memorial Venue of Hell is to pee out the beer my friend Josh Freese of DEVO and A Perfect Circle (and late of Guns and Roses, the lucky bastard) let me cadge from his dressing room. Sucks.
Anyway, I digress. I'm at the box office and it's near concert starting time and I figure I'll get this out of the way and I ask for my name's tickets and guess what? They have nothing for me.
Now, I've been through this a thousand times in a thousand different ways and each time, my blood starts to boil and I get several chances to do the right thing or fuck up completely. My Fight or Flight reaction is starting to get tired and I find myself using as much tact and politess as I can. This guy doesn't know me and he probably can't help me, but what if he can?
Or, more to the point, what if he tells the nice lady with the walkie-talkie and the lanyard/laminate combo (production person) who just walked in that I was a fucking jerk and I should be escorted off the premises?
What if I treat both of them like little princes and princesses and give them the entirety of my wealth of knowledge of things suave and insincere?
It works. The nice lady calls back stage. Score! That NEVER happens. It's either "Here's your ticket sir, have a nice show" or they fucking look at you with scorn and derision and all things power-hungry. I'm far too happy to have little chicken-shit upstarts give me stink-eye and make my blood boil for no reason so I'm quick to jump back into my car and drive to an In-And-Out or a pseudo-nice restaurant and have a tap-pulled beer in a chilled glass or seven. Tonight, I Get Somewhere.
It seems that my name - I'm guessing here - has seriously fucking been lost in translation and 'just a few minutes ago' some pinhead brought up from the depths of backstage hell a NAPKIN with the name "THOMAS SCOTT" scrawled on it in a brain-damaged insane persons immaculate handwriting.
Thomas Scott, you see, is so damn close to my real name, Scott Thunes, that I'm positive that through the haze of years of working at 'venues', the brain of people who have to get phone messages from fucking ENGLAND and WRITE DOWN THE WORDS THE OTHER COUNTRY SAID must be completely scrambled eggs with avocado by now, so obviously, Scott Thunes is exactly equal with Thomas Scott and it must be me they meant, right?
Did I mention the show is sold out, so everybody thinks I'm a total scam-artist and that I need nothing in this world more than to the "See Joe Jackson Play His Piano" show and have an extremely expensive beer (fucking $8! What the hell is up with that? Must need to pay off that wonderful metal banner that says "Theater District") with aging Joe Jackson fans and their boyfriends/husbands/gigolos? I didn't mention that? Well, let me mention that.
I'm being asked by people in line - very helpful people, but punters nonetheless (a punter is a paying customer, usually used as a cut, as in "look at them punters. losers, the lot of them") - if I want to buy a ticket. NO, I yell at them in pidgin English I'm so angry I can't use the portion of my brain I usually use to communicate in speech.
I KID! I slowly shake my head gravely and murmur (no thank you) and smile inside that they don't know I'm THE DEAD FRANK ZAPPA's LAST BASSIST AND FRIEND OF THE BAND AND I'M GETTING IN FOR FREE! FOR FREE, I TELL YOU! FREE!!!
Ahem. I come back down from my high of looking down on people and re-enter my body. Feh. I could use a new one of these.
I thank my assistor profusely and exit the building to search for a beer purveyor. I'm gonna need one after that ordeal.
I walk down Middlefield into what looks like a Disneyland version of a modern downtown. Restaurant, restaurant, restaurant, cheap restaurant, hot dog place, hamburger place, ice cream place, fake french bistro with jazz trio, pseudo-nice restaurant. Check! I say to myself 'that looks cozy' but something tugs at my fear receptors. It's a low hum, real as my cock and just as threatening. I look around for the offending evil while thinking what IDIOTS! How could you put so many restaurants with outside seating so near a power substation? It's insane!
But lo! I see something I haven't seen in WEEKS. A Tour Bus. Tour Buses mean Rock Stars are afoot! I steal a peek around the corner and what do I see? Besides a near-empty lot, I mean.
Yes: Rock stars. Old, decrepit, hulking and aching for a ciggie. British Rock Stars no less.
But these backstage areas are ALWAYS fenced off. Gates with nearby hulking bouncer-types waiting to hurt me for no reason, and, oh: locks on them. The bouncer-types scowl when you want something using words because then that part of their brain they never use except to grunt appreciatively during punter-beatings could be overtaxed and they might explode with invective. NOOOOO! Not that!
But today, I'm a happy man: no gates! No locks, no fence, even. Just pure British Rock Stars standing near the back of the bus looking concerned about the set list.
Now, I've walked up to a small group of people talking amongst themselves before, so I know the protocol. You slap the person nearest you on the back to let them know you're coming, then you bark into their midst that you're SO FUCKING HAPPY TO SEE THEM AFTER SO MANY YEARS and then you ask where the beer is.
So that's what I do. To Joe Jackson. I slap him on the back and yell into his ear that it's SO FUCKING NICE TO SEE HIIM AFTER SO MANY YEARS and about how much stuff we'll be talking to each other about over the next several hours before and after the show, then I ask him where the beer is.
No, I don't do that. I hover tentatively and meekly, hoping for an in that won't shock and dismay my prey.
My patience pays off. Graham turns around and gives me that tilted-head look that says "are you here to ask for my autograph or kill me with your laser-beam eyeballs?" I kill him with my laser-beam eyeballs.
No, I don't do that. I stick out my hand and say "Scott Thunes." His expression changes from amused fear to abject pleasure as he vigorously shakes hands with me. He turns to Joe and introduces me, even though Joe's been standing a foot away from us the entire time. I shake with him, locking eyes, trying to get him to remember the last time we saw each other (at the downstairs bar at Carnegie Hall, during the intermission of a performance of Mahler's Tenth Symphony, circa 1985). He may or may not remember. He's a cagey sort, that Joe Jackson. Holding his cards close to his vest, he is.
I shake hands with and exchange names with Dave. He's not biting. No interest in meeting me. That's cool. I'll save my suavity for next time.
After a time, I'm alone with Graham as the two other blokes bugger off to who-knows-why.
We small talk for a bit, reminisce for a bit, talk music for a bit, and then we come down to the real deal: I've got no backstage pass! I got a ticket but how do I get to hang after the show without a backstage pass, I whine pitiably.
Graham leaves, comes back with a purple wristband, and I nail down how long they're going to hang afterwards so I can get as much information from them and to them during the short amount of time I have with them.
He wishes me a 'good beer' and I go off in search of something to do for an hour while the opening act entrances the audience that came for Joe Jackson.
In another story for another time, I get caught up in a conversation with two retired Chicagoans who have a time-share in Atherton so they can spend time with their children and grand-children. We vow to meet later year at the San Rafael Italian Street Painting Festival.
I run to the concert (I'm late, thanks to the scintillating conversation) and miss the first song and part of the second.
They sound great, the sound of the hall is great, and I get a seat behind the sound-board (I could have sat in my 'proper' seat but it was at the end of a short row that had, next to me, the most morbidly obese gentleman I've ever seen sitting down in a movie theater-type seat. No thank you, my love, I'll sit back here. "OK,", she says.) so I can see the sound guy ply his trade. Pretty colors on the computer screens!
I start taking notes and writing down the set list. I've decided that during this particular backstage conversation, I'm not going to be caught saying shit like "you guys rocked! What a great show! and what great songs! I can't remember what they were called but I used to be a big fan!" Bleagh. No thank you.
This time, I'm going to be scintillating! I'm going to be brilliant! I'm going to impress Joe with my wealth of musical knowledge and give him a list of what I perceived to be the direct influences on his new pieces! He'll need me to fill in for Graham when Graham begs off continuing this tour because of prior commitments to other less savory things outside of the world of music! Scott Thunes and Joe Jackson together like it was meant to be from the very first time I heard his music to finally playing with him, his glory days far, far behind him but still plugging away, sitting at the piano and writing his little gems, the meaning of which are clearly outlined not only in the lyrics but the between-song chatter that gamely attempts to bring out the hidden meanings in the oh-so-obvious descriptions of loneliness and sadness that informs his better works.
The concert ends, and I refuse to spend even one more second of my brain power at this point describing the acid casualty seated directly in front of me during the show who gesticulated wildly and made crazy motions with his hands, never sitting still for half a second and slouching and pulling the ties of his hoodie tight against his neck, then taking off his hoodie and pulling his drug-damaged hair up into a fall ponytail and throwing up his hands in ecstasy at the end of every song. It wasn't until afterwards that I noticed he had an official lanyard and laminated pass around his neck. Must have been an intern roadie.
The audience shuffles out and I gather with the other wristband-wearers down in the front near the entrance to the stage, an door-sized opening with a curtain and a bouncer and a production person wearing the walkie-talkie of their race and a black shirt, black pants, black shoes, and a black belt in their traditional garb.
This particular production person has informed us that we're to wait until the 'artist' has had a few minutes to themselves and then we'll be let backstage.
I nod as if bored yeah yeah yeah keep it up lets go whatever girlfriend and then, magically, as if made to apparate like from Harry Potter, there's Graham!
Grahammy! Graham, baby! Over here! I scream at the top of my lungs, my voice carried to the rafters and up through the vents to the outside world. I'm so excited I stop all conversations and lock eyes with the target of my affections. Graham Maby. World's Finest Musician, right there in front of me. He's mine, for the next hour or so, before he must leave to rest exhaustedly to soak up the bounty of the information I'll be presenting to him in rapt attention to my every word. Graham!
No, I don't do that. I sit calmly and watch him glide over to a group of people standing in the aisle, a beer in one hand and a goatee tinged with gray on his face. For the next ten minutes, I sit quietly and watch him focus his attention on a long-haired brunette MILF whose date is steaming with jealousy and rage at the stolen attentions of his lady. Fool! You're in the presence of fucking Graham Fucking Maby, bitch! and he takes no prisoners! She's HIS, and the evening is lost to you, my friend!
I'm sitting near the door along with two couples, whose inane chatter chafes me to the core of my being. One of them - I'll call him Man One, 'cause that's how he thinks of himself - dominates the conversation with his viewpoint of every situation all four of them have shared, while the other man - he'll always be Man Two, won't he? - gamely attempts to place a word in edgewise and laughs at everything Man One says. The women smile and think to themselves about how they desperately want to watch Man One get it in the pooper with an extremely large strap-on and choke on a couple of other fake cocks rammed down his always open mouth.
The evening drags on interminably until we're given the high-sign that Going Backstage will now commence to all wristband-wearers in the immediate vicinity.
We all stand up, but of course, Graham! gets to go first. He leads his little ducklings to the curtained door and they all follow him. The rest of us wait apprehensively but optimistically expectant, and why not? We're about to become Backstagers! Backstage! The goal of every person in The Audience.
Everybody knows that Backstage is where Everything Happens. Nothing interesting happens in The Hall. It's all about sitting at The Artist's feet and paying homage to their Artistry.
Now, it's my turn. Sure, I'm An Artist, too, but my time has come and gone, and Graham! and Joe Jackson's time is yet still upon us.
I haven't made eye contact with Graham! during this entire time because not only has he earned his down-time and his being-with-his-posse time, but I'm also - and I'm not sure how many of you know this about me, but - Cool as a Cucumber, and I beg to no man. You want me to come backstage, and pay homage to you? Give me a wristband and I'll perform that function. But I will leave you alone until I'm given Permission To Come Aboard, Sir! and allow the production people in all black and their walkie-talkies used by their race to do their Jobs so I can be Golden during my tenure Backstage. I want to be thought of as an exemplar of my type: Backstage By Dint of Will of The Artist. Don't want to take that gift lightly, do I?
So, yeah, I wait my turn and the line of ducklings disappears behind the curtain and the production person - who sees 5 people waiting expectantly for their chance to SHINE! in the presence of the Artist - steps in front of the curtain and says "No more room. No more people backstage thank you very much for coming the exits are behind you!" and our jaws collectively drop to the floor and even Man One is totally fucking silent. His time has come and gone, and all those promises he made to his date, and her sister and poor deluded Man Two, are nothing but pot exhaust blown out in one final exhale from the Orange County Teenager from the last bit of bong-hit given to him by his older sister the Visiting College Student.
Shit. It's really come down to this, has it? I've driven 50 fucking miles to be here in Redwood City (because for some reason Joe Jackson can't fill a hall in SF proper, the loser) and now I'm driving the 50 miles back and for what? A Joe Jackson show? What's worth driving a hundred fucking miles for that? I wonder to myself...
The only reason I came was to have a nice sophisticated chat with one of my heroes, and ask him about ten thousand questions about his recent stint playing with They Might Be Giants and let him know that after that album came out that he was on I wrote them a letter thanking them for their good taste in hiring my favorite musician ever and if they ever thought that for some reason Graham! couldn't play with them that I would love to fill his oversized boots with my tiny feet but for some reason the either weren't actually given the letter so how could they know about my desire to be a part of their world (or they are rude fucking bastards who look at letters sent to them by Extremely Famous and Talented Ex-Frank Zappa Bass Players and laugh into their cupped palms about what a fucking joke it is to have musicians request work from them as they probably pay total DICK and usually use NO MUSICIANS AT ALL because they're MIDI-using FUCKHEADS who write pretentious songs with big words and pre-school melodies on tiny toy instruments, but also to drink backstage beer for free and schmooze with currently-touring rock guys and scrape a little of the Cool of the bottoms of their shoes and mix it in a Tears and Drippy-Nose cocktail made of my own pathetic crying over the death of my 'career' and the envy I hold deep in my Heart of Hearts about what IS IT that has these 60-something bags of flesh and bone moving constantly from town to town to barely eke out an existence ripping out cash money from the wallets and pocketbooks of hard-working Americans, Europeans, and South-East Asians (along with a smattering of Australians and the citizens of Balikpapan, Borneo).
I'm in my car, and I've got a nice brand new electric cooktop in the back. I'm going home now, and I'm going to sit on my couch with a beer, play Halo for an hour, and then take off my clothes and hop into bed with my beautiful wife (who will be celebrating our 12th anniversary with me in a few short hours).
But first, I stop at my favorite bar and have a couple of cold ones that I've dedicated to the Death of the Career...
Sunday, November 4th, 2007. 8:46am
My First YouTube-age...my uploading, I mean
Waaaay back in 2003, I tried my hand again at playing guitar with my friend, Paul De Benedictis, in my old basement. Near the end of our 'jam session', my family returned from their weekend travels. Fortunately, my wife was holding our videocamera and she grabbed my daughter, Hazle, singing into an already-there microphone (I have no idea what it was doing there, plugged in. We weren't remotely using it to sing on, the two dudes...)
I've just uploaded this to youtube for my first taste of viral marketing. I hope you enjoy it.
Poll: Best Bass Part
Since I'm only testing this software, I'm not putting too many choices here, but that doesn't mean you don't have to help me out. Please, in comments, add what songs you think I need to add to the next poll. Thanks!
Monday, June 26, 2006. 1:11am
My First YouTubeage - 88 Tour Edition Part 1
Another Fucking 'Out of Service' Cop Car
Twice in a Month! What a trip, dood!
I was driving with the whole family up to Target to buy some plastic crap and kidz klowthz when I spotted this local police cruiser making the entire day worth while. Thank you, Tiburon Police Department!
Driving to Pick Up My Daughter This Afternoon.
I saw a California Highway Patrol car on the freeway this afternoon and it had a funny sign on it. Click the thumb to get the full image.
Oh yeah. Nice to be back.
Monday, March Somethingth, 2006
I Totally Forgot To Post This The Other Day.
Way back in 1991, I was lucky enough to snag the last funny/useful issue of the National Lampoon: The New World Order issue - and boy am I glad I saved it. Several articles just hit me as quite humorous/intelligent/imaginative, but the last page in particular was a staple of my readings-to-people.
OK, it's stupid, I admit, but at least somebody could READ the damn thing. Whatever. (Jan 4) Here
Virgil Playing Drums and Singing
Virgil is playing the kid drums (smaller, less useful, but still quite loud) and singing another one of his yelling songs. This one seems to be called "I Don't Know Anything." Now, he's singing, to the same beat, "I Love You." He's slowing down quite a lot, though. Need to work on that.
He's just broken another stick, and he's telling me about it. "I'm a strong drummer, and I break my sticks a lot. It's so cool. I think I need another little stick, 'cause this one broke, and that was so cool." (this is verbatim)
During my tenure in ROK, I chose to spend most of 1993 touring with somebody other than who I wished I had been able to tour with: FEAR. The reason for my choice was purely monetary. If I had been liquid, I would have stayed home and attempted to fix my relationship and try putting more notes into a computer, but instead, I toured American, European, and American again with somebody whose music I didn't care anything about and whose actual self left me rather...pale, I suppose, but it was necessary and important that I leave LA, at least for a bit.
After having done that, I was blessed with a gig that I actually wished rather strongly that I would be able to do. This gig found me commuting to rehearsals, a very strange (but not-so-strange) situation to find onesself in. I mean, really, one should live near one's music, I think, but in LA, one does what one can.
With Frank, I lived in North Hollywood or Reseda or Studio City, but rehearsed in North Hollywood, therefore I'm not really used to a long drive before and after my music, but I do beleive that I'm in the minority there.
Notice the pick in my right hand...no, that's my left, silly...my right! (oh yeah, click to view right hand.)
Even though my commute from Hollywood to Santa Monica was barely worth it - getting paid $25 per three hour session - over the week I'd be pulling in $100, $125 a week. Party time at the Thunes'. That said, I was happy, I was In Rok, and I was playing music that gave people chills...at least when it was first performed 15 years previously. Our updated repertoire was, to me, a god-send. I would break strings, watch my drummer turn into a punk drummer, and know deep in my heart that what was happening was not normal in the slightest.
We went on tour, and the first three weeks were great. Then disaster struck in the guise of a simple misunderstanding-cum-argument, a nightmare from which I still recoil from the thought of.
After FEAR died (for me), I was happy to be finally rid of the scourge of Rock, something that had been a deep-rooted complication in my life. Of course, I wasn't actually FREE yet. I had a couple more antics to proceed with, but for the most part, I was obviously ON THE OUTS.
Once one has decided to cut something out from their lives, it's really easy to just go ahead and put all the trappings away. In the case of photographs, one can actually forget that one owns them and that they contain truths.
In this most current case, I find a trove of goodness in some 8x10s sent to me by the photographer that took the accompanying pictures. They were sent to me rather kindly by a couple that lived near me in Berkeley at the time. I met them once, I think I recall, and we traded emails or something...I don't think I had a computer, so what the hell was it?...but they were really nice and they spent some time and money on about ten of these giant prints. One of the very nice things that happened to me in my years of degradation.
A couple years back, a musician friend of mine asked me if one of his sons - just getting into music. punk, fortunately - wanted a short interview for a class project. I of course agreed and when he came over, since I had just been viewing these pictures for some reason they were out, and so I gave him the best one. He was pleased, I think.
The rest of them went back into hiding, awaiting some reason to live. My new server-situation gives me reason to post them. I'm not sure it's important, but it's mystorical, so they're here for your pleasure. Click 'em, and they get biggish.
Monday January 24 08:58:38 AM
Holy New Server, Batperson!
Something I've been wanting to for a very long time has come to pass: I was bitching about my bandwidth issues and now I don't have to bitch anymore.
Remember my note about wondering how long it would take for me to overtake my bandwidth? Two frickin' weeks. TWO.
Probably because of my co-hosting my brother-in-law's site on Geoscott as well, my bandwidth is toilet-bound constantly. I decided to do something about it and so I got in touch with Scott Chatfield, Mike Keneally's manager and friend. He runs a web-hosting-business called Moosenet. I have been the brother of Stacy Thunes for as long as I can remember (I was one when she was born). She and Scott put together Thunes.net for her as a lark, and for my birthday, Stacy gave it to me. During this time, I realized that it would be perfect if Scott was Geoscott's host as well. Just really convenient. As much as I was displeased with my previous host I was just not really ready to go through the angst of breaking it off with him, but this last outage just really got to me.
I went up to NetSol a couple of days ago to check out the procedure for changing the DNS, seeing as how I've been with the same host for seven years, and I fucked up and accidentally hosed my settings. Didn't even realize it until I couldn't get my email at work this morning.
So I'm still sussing things out. I should have access to the email once I figure out the new control panel, but until then, I'm happy just to have hosting.
Scott says there won't be any bandwidth issues, so let's check it out. See what he can handle.
Here's where I thank Scott publicly for saving my buttocks. Thank you!
Sometime around Jan 4, 05
Wayback Machine Geoscott
Here's a neat thing. I don't have to search my home and archives for all this crap. Anybody and their accountant can get to it.
Beginning of the New Year. I can post these clips again. See how long it takes to overtake my bandwidth. (see note above, Jan 24)
Ok, I have to explain.
There are probably some of you who have heard that my son plays music. Some of you have actually heard it from me. Others will know the experience of seeing him do his thing at my very home. Then there are the rest of you.
Those of you who have not heard about 'The Virge', he's a musician. I have no problem calling him a prodigy. I'm not being proud (although I am, obviously) by saying that. I watch and hear people all fucking day long tell me the same thing, and these are people who might indeed know.
Besides, if you don't agree, let me know why. Sure, he's not anywhere near as good as that Korean Lass who kicks ass on the xylophone, but that's like the Antique Indian Math Prodigy. We do not live in that world.
In our world, a three year old - who has been playing since he was 1 ½ (no, and not improving all that much, to be honest) - can be considered prodigistical. I so declare it, and it's up to you to argue your point.
Our friend Dana Miller lent us a drum set, and now my friend A. Violante has lent us a child's drumset (but one of those with real hardware). The guitars are still attractive to Virgil, but he only really plays the drums on a regular basis. He talks guitars, but he plays drums.
These clips are from two days ago. We have had a video camera for a long time, and we even have several minutes worth of Virgil playing during the beginning 2004 but I have not the technology to transfer and compress video for internet use. Recently, my wife and I decided that our current digital camera was about as weak as could be, so we dumped it for a modern setup. It makes AVIs. They play in Quicktime. I am pleased.
These clips are not the ultimate expression of Virgil's art, but they certainly will do. I guess you have to watch all of them. I forget if one is better than the other.
Thank you for taking the time to watch these. They're pretty short, say, 2 and 4 minutes a piece. I think.
(my wife said she had a tough time loading these in a browser, but she's just gone ahead and downloaded them and viewed them on her mother's computer, so that should work for you.)
Saturday October 09 02:30:09 AM
Virgil and The Can of Drink
My wife works for a company that does package design. She's a project manager. There, I said it.
The first ever anything she worked on was the copy for a can of mixer (which uses high-end contents such as Meyer's Lemons, Fuji Apples, and Blood Oranges - along with carbonated mineral water). For those of you who aren't media-savvy, 'copy' is any text used in product design, packaging, or advertising. My wife wrote the copy for the can of high-end mixer and it became her first published work. My wife, the published writer!
The can was a hit, the design beautiful, and the copy a miniscule novel of pure deconstructionist perfection.
ANYWAY, I brought the children up to Mama one day at work. A cabinet there was full of comestable product that they'd done the designs for, given to them as partial payment (year's supply of coffee drink, anyone?) for a job well done. Virgil found the cabinet and I picked up the digicam that was lying about.