· Miscellany

Last night a creepy wind blew west from the hills, in strange pulsing gusts, dying down to nearly nothing and then growing almost instantly to gale force, whipping shrubs and vines against our drainpipe and windows, stripping new buds from plants fooled by the false spring we’ve been having around here lately, tossing the top of our compost bucket around the backyard and buffeting who knows what else. It was hard to ignore, disturbing, though what can you do about nature?

As we lay in bed, trying to ignore the shrieks and whistles outside the window, I said to B that it was a witch wind. She said that was a sexist term, so I amended it to ghost wind before discussing the fact that there could be male witches and noting that I had recently read that ‘wicca’ originally, ironically, indicated a male witch.

This morning I woke up feeling dry as a bone.

Layoffs at Grateful Dead Productions

· Miscellany

By now, most tapped-in Deadheads have heard that GDP is shutting its doors and outsourcing its merch business, laying off most of their longtime employees. Here’s a report supposedly from an insider (while I can’t vouch for the veracity, it’s interesting enough to pass along):

…awful news from GDP today. All 4 of the band members came to a meeting of the employees…. and explained that the decision has been made to have an outside fulfillment house take over their mail order/shipping business, and that a major downsizing will start immediately. They also said they will soon be selling the building GDP is in. It sounds like everyone will eventually get laid off, but it will be done in waves. By the time the next Almanac comes out, the
merchandise will be handled by this new outside company. They will start looking for a smaller warehouse to move a limited operation to, maybe to
include a recording studio, maybe not; maybe to include the vault, maybe not. A lot of decisions have not been made. They’re shopping for a new
record deal, and that will define some things. But it pretty much sounds like they’re winding down the whole operation…. It was a sad day. Phil
gave the “When one door closes, another door opens” rap.

Bobby was close to tears….

Really, it’s just furthur fallout from Jerry’s death – it just took 7 years to get to this point.

I heard that when Phil walked out of the room, he said to someone, “Well, that was a lot easier than I expected.” Bobby headed straight into the studio and went into rehearsals with Ratdog.

This came through unattributed, so take as you will.

Coffee: elixir of life, industrial lubricant

· Miscellany

Peet's logoI rejoiced a week or so ago when I learned that Peet’s was about to reintroduce Aged Sumatra beans after a several-year hiatus. I am drinking it right now. Sumatra is fine as it goes, but the aged stuff is just incredible. Mellow, chocolate-y, rich, flavorful. My endorsement for the day.

PowerShot S100 DIGITAL ELPHHowever, over the weekend, through an unfortunate mishap, my digital camera ended up marinating in Peet’s Aged Sumatra for several minutes, long enough to soak the LCD, the viewfinder, and gopod knows what other delicate elements inside.

The guilty party and her friend spent many tense minutes removing the eleven tiny screws that secure the outside casing and then draining, drip-drying, swabbing, and blotting as much coffee as possible from the interior. Last I looked the viewfinder was still opaque. At this point they’re having trouble reattaching the cover and of course we haven’t tried using the thing yet. Fingers crossed that it may work out just right and that dusty dried coffee residue will not interfere with any delicate electronics.

Off the wagon

· Miscellany

Since late last year I’ve been meeting once a week with a good friend in a bar or café to do some writing. We encourage each other. It’s a bit like having an “exercise buddy.” If either of us don’t feel like doing it, we can use the fact that the other guy is depending on us to spur us on.

He’s got a bunch of creative projects going right now; some really fine stuff. I’ve been working on a fairly straightforward project; a memoir of my childhood in New York centered roughly on the years 1974–1976. Current working title: “Run, Joey, Run.” I’ll not say much about it because at the rate I’m going it won’t see the light of day in any form for over a year at least.

For now it’s a writing practice, an effort to plumb my own memories, an attempt to tell a straightforward story without fireworks or flash, an experiment in linear storytelling, a old-fashioned throwback first draft written out entirely in longhand without a lot of revamping or reshuffling till I get this draft done.

This week has been exhausting for various reasons and this afternoon I was feeling woozy, possibly from lack of sleep. I had to call up Dan and bail on our scheduled meeting. I felt really bad! Once a week is barely enough to keep the momentum going as it is. Plus, of course, I felt like I was letting him down as well, though he was very gracious about it.

I may try to do some work on the project during the upcoming week. I’ve had it in mind to start to slip in a few more sessions each week, just because one to two hours every Sunday night makes for pretty slow going, but I’ve also been concerned about pushing myself too hard, overdoing it, crashing and burning, like a reformed exerciser running too many miles in his first week out, pulling a muscle, and dropping the program.

So we’ll see. It might be another week before I revisit RJR. The hope is that the story kindles it’s own sense of integrity and urgency and starts pulling me in, daring me to steal time away from my myriad other projects and priorities. I’ve had that experience before. Spend enough time on any one story and it starts making its own gravy. So far I’m not there yet, but if I get back on the wagon I can always hope.

Insane conspiracy theories

· Miscellany

I suppose it was inevitable that the frootbats would crawl out of the woodwork almost immediately with conspiracy theories about the shuttle disaster, in this case claiming that it was a deliberate act of self-sabotage in order to provide distracting news coverage during the ramp-up to war in Iraq. And I thought I was being paranoid.