Archive Page 2


Dr Dan in Laurel Canyon

The magical canyon

Dr Dan In Laurel Canyon

There’s nothing to this old road except everything…


Rockie & Me

Rockie and Me

I was explaining to Rockie that I was Fake Keith.

Back in 1995 I played a show in Jersey City opening for a Stones cover band called Sticky Fingers. Fake Mick and I hit it off and enjoyed some groupies and 420 in the Men’s Room. I told him we had fun dancing to his music, but that we needed a ride back to Hoboken because the rest of the band didn’t want to stay for the cover band. Fake Mick told me that he thought I played guitar like Keith, but that we should just walk home or take a cab. It was such a good night that we didn’t care.

About two months later Fake Mick called me from his home base in Boston and asked me if I wanted to do a Southern tour. He said that he and Fake Keith were fighting and that Fake Bill and Fake Charlie didn’t want to travel all that distance. I don’t remember what Fake Ronnie/ Brian/ Mick Taylor thought.

I was living with a punk band and we needed rent money so the timing was impeccable. The pay was $300 per show, plus per diem. This was by far the best paying gig I had, and yet I felt so dirty when I agreed to be the musical director. I hired the punk band to back us up, augmented by an alcoholic Americana guitar genius from the band The Ex-Husbands. We played the Stones with a punk edge – awesome on When The Whip Comes Down, and it really worked down South where one radio guy said we sounded like Skynard playing the Stones. Fake Mick encouraged us to jam and entertain the crowd by playing with our teeth or behind our backs or jumping into the crowd.

One night I did the rock star back bend on my knees. I had my eyes closed when I felt my face and my guitar covered in something wet. Fake Mick had done a whole sex thing where he blew a beer in my face, much to the audience’s delight.

The audience was full of drunks, sometimes women jumped on stage and started dancing, we played behind chicken fence one night in a roadhouse in Georgia, and we had a bad night only once when we lost out to the Beatle cover band. Damn that Fake McCartney.

Anyway, Rockie couldn’t get past the money. He keeps harping on how short sighted I was not to keep playing with those guys. I told Rockie, I know that now! But he just keeps coming back to it. He says that’s why I need him. He says he is more objective about the business side. He also says I am dating the wrong women, but that he’s going to help me with that too.


A Postmodern Internet’s Impact On Music

A Postmodern Internet’s Impact On Music, Art, Fashion and Writing

Tasting like a burst of sour when you bite into an unsqueezed slice of lemon, the distribution and marketing of music has changed in the same way that cities have grown – not with class and planning, but through the shortest method to the quickest buck.

My premise here is that the mountain pass is too narrow for a corporation to slip through. You have to have the ability to move fast and be prepared to take unexpected hits that you often can’t see the impact of until time has passed and the fire has started. And that fire will spread.

The lessons I learned at Cornell on Deconstruction, and the time I spent as an apprentice writer to the most important minimalist author to walk the planet, John Barth, exposed to me to possibilities of unconventional storytelling. The medium of the Internet is the perfect canvas for post-modern authors.

I was at a real Hollywood party with actually funny writers – and even if they write drivel for money, they often have very amusing observations that make you think and laugh, especially if you’ve got your mojo going. Anyway, I was introduced as the great writer that doesn’t write anymore. I explained that writing novels seemed to me to be almost like riding a horse and buggy to work. I love pretentious writers, and I fancy myself to be one as well. However, I need feedback on what I write and sitting in a room of pretentious writers, which is what we did at Johns Hopkins and in my writing groups, doesn’t represent the real world.

I also need support. I am not continuing on this topic unless I get some hard data to suggest it’s worth the time.

What does that mean, I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me?

City WInery

1-15-13 All Access Pass


Walk On The Wild Side

The New York session players can make you sound really good or really bad. Luckily they were with me tonight. We covered Lou Reed like he was Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan like he was Tom Petty and Tom Petty like he was Janis Joplin…


Family Dynamics for John Lennon

It’s a cold, winter day in NYC and I hear John Lennon’s music in myhead – there’s no way to shut it off or turn it down, and that’s a good thing…

Mother is God-like to an infant, and father is less important.  Clearly, there is a dynamic that moves as father becomes more powerful in the perception of a child.   This dynamic also greatly effects the child, and the child’s future relationships.  When John Lennon was  lad, as the story goes, he had to choose between his mother and father.  Who knows what really happened, but the family dynamics are reflected in songs like “Mother,” and “Isolation.”  But if you look at the dynamics of John and his wife, Yoko, and you look at John as a father to BOTH of his sons, you may begin to see the mirror image of what likely happened to John.  

A friend just told me a story about a drunken John Lennon pissing on a fan at the Rainbow.  I guess you do have to have been pissed on as a kid to do something like that?  The fan was a good sport, but if it were me I probably wouldn’t have been as understanding.  How about you?


‘roids, Oprah, Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow

I feel like I am watching a very slow version Melrose Place – a bunch of good-looking people running about, emoting fiercely …

1) Armstrong used steroids and won the Tour De France and that’s too bad, but it’s not something the average person can do even if they do take steroids. What does it mean? It means the world is a complicated place?

2) Why is Oprah focused on gossip as opposed to stopping the war? I know it’s a business but she’s done very well, and she has the potential to contribute more to her audience – the people who have given her so much, so why not give them something of real value instead of a car which is like giving a few random audience members a hit of dope?

3) Sheryl Crow (I just wanted to mention her)


What About Google Minus?

article by Philippa Warr

Google launched Google+ (their long-awaited social network) on Tuesday and, while everyone else seems to be asking “Will it kill Facebook?”, it got me thinking about a general positive trend in social media.

Part of the Google Plus project is the +1 button for websites and pages which is billed as similar to Facebook’s ‘Like’ and ‘Recommend’ options. Hitting the button on a particular page will, in Google’s own words, say “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out”.

Notable by its absence is the counterbalancing option — Google are giving us Google Plus — what of Google Minus?

It’s a similar question that which has been asked on Facebook for years — “Where’s the ‘dislike’ button?” There’s even a 3 million strong Facebook page dedicated to that very question.

Looking at other well used social networking services you’ll see a similar story. Twitter has favourites, Tumblr has liking — heck, even socially influenced reality television shows such as X Factor are set up so viewer vote for the people they want to succeed rather than those they want to be eliminated.

The negative option seems to be becoming outdated. Older social recommendation sites like Digg and StumbleUpon still have their own versions of negative feedback but in both cases they’re not as prominent as the positive. StumbleUpon’s thumbs down is a physically smaller button on the toolbar and is missing the text that goes with the thumbs up. Digg actually got rid of their ‘bury’ function for a while due to abuses but then reinstated it. At the present moment is sits a distance away from the positive option and is far less prominent.

So what’s this positivity trend about?

I think it’s the result of two main things:

One is that the internet, for all its glory, is a place where anonymity often breeds negativity. It’s all too easy to type out a spiteful comment because you will almost never see or have to deal with the results of that remark. The human connection that prevents a lot of callous real-world spite is missing.

Looking at the comments on sites can be quite the education (depending on the level of moderation) with commenters more likely to be moved to comment negatively than positively.

Even when the comments are more balanced, the negative is frequently more extreme and more personal. Comments about the writer’s personal appearance, calls for them to be fired or to get a proper job form a contrast with the positive which tend towards the far less emotionally charged “I enjoyed the article” model.

Bearing this in mind, why introduce a button to fan the flames? Why would Facebook introduce a mechanism to enable bullying? Why would a news site introduce a method of undermining its staff? Why would a blogging platform build in a casual smackdown option? The point is to encourage communication — what better way to ruin that than to admit via the interface that its users’ content could be worthless?

The second is that the amount of content online is increasing at some astronomical rate.

Anyone with a stable connection can create something on the internet. And they do — as evidenced by the proliferation of blogs, personal websites, home businesses, Twitter accounts and so on.

But not everyone is a genius and not every piece of content produced by a great content creator will be a sparkling tour de force.

What this means is that the great and the good and the fascinating are floating about in the swirling morass of content that Google is trying to organise and make searchable. When you start thinking in terms of Google and in terms of search, a Plus without a Minus starts to make more sense. Google has determined that the content we want to see is the stuff that is relevant, well written and interesting to others — i.e. what we expect from the stuff on the first page of Google search results.

What only offering a positive option does is tacitly acknowledge the fact that the internet contains a lot of middling content and then ask its users to elevate the good from the rest.

When the end goal is to lift up and share the best, is there really any need to pick out the worst?

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Amazon started signing authors!

The Shatzkin Files

Amazon’s news of hiring Kirshbaum is a helluva start for BEA
Posted by Mike Shatzkin on May 23, 2011 at 10:19 am

Amazon dropped a shoe last week when they announced their new mystery imprint, Thomas & Mercer Books, and started signing authors, including self-publishing evangelist, Joe Konrath.

Last night they dropped the other shoe, which turned out to be a very heavy boot. They signed former Time Warner Publishing (the company that is now Hachette Book Group) CEO Larry Kirshbaum to head up a new general trade imprint for them.

The next thing to drop will be a few pennies as the industry wakes up to a very new day.

Konrath complained in a blog post over the weekend that independent bookstores planned to boycott the Thomas & Mercer imprint. It would appear Konrath (who, in his pre-ebook-evangelist days worked hard to promote through independents) took very personally what was meant to be resistance to Amazon.

One would suspect that the books Kirshbaum is going to acquire will be very hard for any bookseller that wants to serve and keep her customers to avoid stocking. In other words, the Kirshbaum signing might have cured Konrath’s concern.

Where did this arise before? Many times, many places. Borders stopped buying Sterling books when the independent publishers was acquired by B&N. The relationship between Sterling and Amazon is more complicated, but it would be safe to say that sales of Sterling books were not Amazon’s highest priority and sales through B&N’s biggest competitor were not Sterling’s.

Amazon briefly (for a couple of days) turned off Macmillan’s buy buttons in January 2010 in an fleeting and unsuccessful attempt to persuade the big houses not to go to agency pricing.

When Barnes & Noble bought Sterling, they stated clearly that they did not intend to publish precisely the kind of books Kirshbaum is now going after: “non-fiction and literary fiction.” Although things have changed in what has been nearly a decade since that acquisition, Sterling was a “category” publisher when B&N acquired them and have never stepped aggressively into the high-advance, agented arena that is Kirshbaum’s natural milieu.

I’d say one of the pennies dropping might be at B&N, where they are probably reconsidering their title acquisition strategy. If their biggest retail competitor is going after the biggest authors directly, can they afford not to?

Five years ago we lived in a world where every book that mattered sold more copies at brick stores than it did online. Five years from now every book that matters will sell more copies online than it does in a brick store. The Amazon decision may mark the commercial turning point of that massive shift.

The edge in maximizing online sales revenues will go to the publisher that can manage online pricing and marketing most effectively. That not only means raising and lowering prices dynamically to get the most possible revenue, it might also mean experimenting with free sample sizes to see what delivers the best rate of conversion to a sale. It certainly also means having the best list of potential readers to alert to a book’s publication.

Publishers have a steep hill to climb to develop skills in that regard that Amazon has been honing for years. The announcement of Bookish, a community and information site for readers, seems like a weak counterweight to this Amazon announcement. I would imagine Kirshbaum will have signed away a few books the Big Six publishers wanted before Bookish even opens its doors.

Agents, who have just gotten a big new bidder to drive up the prices of everything valuable they have to sell, are having a very good day. Publishers, as they say: not so much.

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