As some readers may know, I founded Rampage Radio with the guidance and support of Howie Klein back in 1982. I only stuck around for a few years and thereafter left it in Ron Quintana's able hands. But those were years with impact, I look back at them fondly and the show has been running on the air ever since, the last broadcast was in it's usual time slot last Saturday night. As someone who grew up in San Francisco, I always felt that KUSF's presence at 90.3 was a comforting constant. Apparently a deal to sell off KUSF's frequency was consummated last week and the signal was abruptly shutoff Tuesday morning. A rally and a dialog took place last night at Presentation Theater with USF President Father Stephen Privett. I commend Father Privett for coming out to face the music, all 500 or so of us in the packed theater were upset by these events and I think it took a degree of courage to show up. However, after the two hour question and answer sessions, it became clear to me that Father Privett has suffered a third degree failure.
First, the outcome was poor; the students who he claimed to be acting on behalf of will have reduced volunteer support, the revenue (purported to benefit students) wasn't subject to a competitive bid (it was the first and only deal under discussion); just an NDA-cloaked back-room agreement. Aside from poorly serving the students, his notion of the University as an island, that serving the broader community is detrimental to serving the students, is fundamentally flawed. Serving the community and accepting the efforts of volunteers benefits both the students and the broader community.
Second, the process was terrible; instead of backing up and reaching out to the array of interested parties that a deal discussion might commence, he signed the non-disclosure agreement and completely shut out the faculty, students and community. Instead of embracing the stakeholders and providing some transparency, he went straight to the NDA and ambushed them.
And the third degree failure was the cowardly absence of recognition of the first two failures.
Father Privett claimed full responsibility, explained his rationale for what he did and the process he followed but his rationale for the process was weak. Before going under the cover of NDA, he should have reached out to the students, faculty and volunteers to say: before this goes away, give me some alternatives that will serve you better. Father Privett's gross incompetence was saddening, he should just resign. In the meantime, using another frequency as a fall back for a rejected FCC petition makes sense but there'll always be this sense of a vacated place in our hearts for 90.3 as San Francisco's cultural oasis.
I'm certainly hoping that KUSF can reemerge from the ashes. Please join the effort on Facebook to Save KUSF!( Jan 20 2011, 10:27:58 AM PST ) Permalink
Hello, 2010. 2009 was a strange year, indeed. I quit my job after 5 years last spring, since then I've been working as a software/infrastructure consultant and playing with a lot of new technologies (of course also leveraging expertise I have with some more established ones). I've also done a lot of thinking. Thinking about cloud computing and compute marketplaces, about energy, mobile and transportation technologies, about life and the meaning of the whole thing. Consulting has had its ups and downs. Looking back at 2009 though, I can safely say I'm glad it's over. Not that it's all bad news, I have my share of things to be pleased about too. My daughter's Bat Mitzvah was beautiful. I've been spending more time with the kids, switched to decaf (I really enjoy the taste of coffee but excess caffeine isn't healthy) and was invited by my old friends in Metallica to some of their seminal events.
Nonetheless, 2010 will no doubt be an upgrade over 2009.
One of the things I'm spending more domestic time around is Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem solving competition that my son is participating in. My daughter did it previously and went to the world finals with her team twice, my son went last year, and (warning: proud papa bragging alert) placed 4th! This year the coaching torch is passed to me and I'm working with the team facilitating their solution for the long term problem which will be presented at the regional competition next month. We're hoping for a set of repeat victories that will send us to the world finals again this year. I'm new to coaching OotM but my co-coach has coached before and I've helped the teams in supporting roles in years past, so the Odyssey regime is not completely new to us.
This week will present some interesting challenges. My co-coach is physician and will be flying into Haiti to join the relief effort; I'm really happy for her to have this opportunity to be of service. I'll do my best to keep the OotM team moving forward until she returns.
Work will pick up too. Consulting has given me an opportunity to learn Ruby, Rails and a lot of stuff in that technology orbit. I've also been putting Amazon Web Services to heavy use and playing around with Twitter's APIs. I've been looking for opportunities to scratch some Hadoop itches and lately my interests have turned towards programming in Scala, I expect some consulting gigs to shake loose to sate those interests. If the opportunity is right, my entrepreneurial impulses will get the best of me and I'll stop (or scale back) consulting to jump a on new start-up. My desire to set the world on fire will never be satisfied.
Yea, 2010 is gonna be good. Check it out, the Giants have made some changes that look like a credible offense. Already, it's gotta be better than 2009.( Jan 23 2010, 10:02:26 PM PST ) Permalink
Those 25 things you should know about me memes circulating rarely interest me (honestly, I don't care that you have a collection of rare El Salvadoran currency). However, one thing that my friends know but regular readers may not is that I have a fairly eclectic background. Did you know that I used to hang around the art department's hot glass studio in college to blow glass? Did you know that I learned to program in Pascal when I was in college and hated it? Yea, yea, I don't care much anymore either. But anyway, back in the 80's I was friends with this Danish dude from LA who shared my interest in the underground heavy metal scene that was burgeoning, particularly in Britain ("New Wave of British Heavy Metal" AKA NWOBHM) and Europe. We used to trade records and demos (the first Def Leppard 3 song EP on 9" vinyl, I was tired of it so I traded him for a bunch of Tygers of Pan Tang and other crap I didn't own already). I think he, like myself, used to pick up copies of Melody Maker and Sounds at the local record store to read about what was going on overseas. Eventually, Kerrang! came out providing fuller coverage of the metal scene, complete with glossy pictures. But in the meantime back in San Francisco, I helped a friend of mine (Ron Quintana) operate his fanzine Metal Mania (don't be confused, the name was re-appropriated by various larger publishing concerns at different times in the years since but none of them had any relationship to the original gangstas).
Back in the day, Howie Klein was a muckety muck in the music industry, haunting the local clubs like The Old Waldorf and Mabuhay Gardens. Howie hooked us up with a show on KUSF. I dubbed the show Rampage Radio, it ran in the wee hours every Saturday night (right after Big Rick Stuart finished up his late night reggae show with those dudes from Green Apple Records on Clement Street). In between hurling insults at "album oriented rock" and big-hair metal bands (posers!), we played a lot of stuff you couldn't hear anywhere else. Among the many obscure noises we aired were demos from East Bay metalheads Exodus. Amazingly, Rampage Radio is still on the air. Well, that Danish kid and one of the guys I befriended from Exodus were Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett, respectively. In short order, they would be playing together in a band Lars named Metallica (after haggling with Ron about not taking that name for the 'zine).
I eventually lost interest in the metal scene (not enough innovation, too much sound-alike derivatives to keep me listening); even though the music from then is still on my playlist, my repertoire has broadened widely (talk to me about gypsy style string jazz, please). I've been peripherally in touch with friends from back then. Over the years, I'd go to a few Metallica shows but the guys are always mobbed at the backstage parties, there's not much of an opportunity to actually talk about anything. Anyway, we have little in common now. I develop software and crazy assed online services; they tour the world to perform in front of throngs. And I don't drink Jaegermeister anymore. In 2000, I introduced one of the friends I've stayed in touch with, Brian Lew, who also had a fanzine Back In The Day, to editors at salon.com (where I was working at the time). He contributed a great article expressing a sentiment that I shared, dismay at Metallica's war on Napster. I don't think I've actually talked to Lars in 15 years. After seeing news coverage of him ranting about how people (his most valued asset: his fans) where ripping him off, I'm not sure I wanted to. But I think we're all over that now, let's just play Rock Band and fuhgedaboutit.
So here we are decades later and Metallica hasn't just warped the music industry, they are the industry. They're up there with Elvis and the Beatles and all of that (except, barring Cliff Burton, they're not dead). Last week, Brian pings me that Q-Prime (Metallica's management company in New York) is trying to reach me. After a few phone calls, it turns out that Metallica is honoring a handful of us old-schoolers by inviting us to a big shindig in Cleveland for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction next month. How cool is that?! I'm still kind blown away that this is really happening (am I being punkd??).
So, I may be leaving Technorati but I'm going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! w00t! That tune keeps humming through my conscience, "...living in sin with a safety pin, Cleveland rocks! Cleveland rocks!" but the way it sounds in my head, it's ganked up, roaring from a massive PA and a wall of Marshall stacks. So now you know what my plans will be in a few weeks and now you've learned a dozen or so things about me (if not 25) that you may not have known before.( Mar 12 2009, 12:22:51 PM PDT ) Permalink
The underground metal scene of years gone by had reunion on a Thursday night at the Bottom of the Hill. The circumstance that summoned this event into being was a sad one, the tragic passing of Curtis Grant. Proceeds from the show went to Curtis' family. Amazingly, while so many of us have gone very separate ways, word still managed to get around. How surreal it was to see friends, roommates, x-bandmates, drinking buddies, partners in crime and everybody else (some of these guys I know from 7th grade) who emerged from the woodwork into the dimly lit, loud tweaky PA-system and drinks ambiance of Bottom of the Hill. Stranger still was running into people and, after so many years, not remembering their names or exactly who they were. But that didn't really matter, for on Some Enchanted Evening all shall gather whatever memories that still carry from decades gone by, re-introduce themselves and celebrate.
The evening's kick off with Mercenary and Mordred got things off to a bombastic start. American Heartbreak came out after them with a great set, they rocked! The Steve Scate's Mordred formation was awesome, so heavy! 20 years ago, I'd have never imagined that the cavemen-in-the-ice-berg could thaw out and turn it on but that's what it seemed like -- Ruthie's Inn 1985... ZAP! Bottom of the Hill 2007. Frozen in time... Sven still looks the same! Why isn't he all salt-n-peppa gray like me? Sven, where's your goddamned fountain o' youth? Maybe I'm just working too hard. I should find out what brand of vitamins he's been taking. And the years have been kind to Ron Quintana too, look at him here mugging it up with me. Metal Mania! Photo courtesy of umlaut, thanks
At the top of the bill was Anvil Chorus. Like the private Anvil Chorus reunion I wrote about a few years ago, this reminder of of what could have been, what should have been, a break-out act 25 years ago was mind blowing. Good coverage has been already been rendered by umlaut, it would be duplicative to go into the set they did in detail. Suffice to say, they are a superbly talented bunch and it was fantastic to see them perform! Thaen, Joe, Aaron, Doug and (whoever you were playing keyboards) - thanks!
Here's a lil "Blondes in Black" to get you in the moment:
But wait! There's more!
Kudo's to Eric Lannon for getting this together for Curtis' family. Good luck to Thaen, on his way to Tokyo to tour with Vicious Rumours!
So I think I've had my fill of nostalgia for now but I understand the 25th anniversary of the show I founded on KUSF 90.3 FM, Rampage Radio, is coming up in a few weeks. So maybe I'll see you there and if you want to hear some Black Sabbath or Merciful Fate at 7am, I might just be there to dish it out for old times sake!( Apr 15 2007, 01:40:33 AM PDT ) Permalink
If you've seen Charlie Hunter play guitar, you know he's just fantastic. I first saw him play at The Nightbreak on Haight Street about 16 years ago or so (Primus was headlining, Kirk Hammett jammed with Primus too that evening, IIRC). I thought about how it's been too long since I've seen Charlie Hunter play whilst putting down some alaska rolls last night at Yoshi's. I missed Charlie Hunter's shows there last December. But now I don't have to miss them.
Here's a sample:
But that's not a recording you'd take with you.
However, you can buy a recording of the performance directly from the artist, Charlie Hunter Trio: Recorded live at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA (12/15/2006). I confess to knowing little about Fast Atmosphere. But I do know the media establishment needs a severe beating with a clue-stick. Providing services for recording artists that enhances their ability to sell their creations directly to their audience sounds like an appropriate truncheon. Fast Atmosphere has other Charlie Hunter recordings (and more names you might know, like Norah Jones and others you might not), check them out and support direct-sale art.
Next time Charlie Hunter stops at Yoshi's, I'm there.( Mar 19 2007, 09:54:29 PM PDT ) Permalink
Do you ever meet somebody who reminds you of someone else and have to remind yourself, "No, don't mix up the two"? An odd moment fell upon me when I accidentally found myself watching Some Kind of Monster on TV the other night. There was a flashback. And then a flashforward. Ya see, when I was a teenager, our crowd, we hated the music industry and wanted to subvert it by any means necessary. Disco music and the just-following-orders spineless vermin that ran the press establishment and radio stations (the program managers) amused and sickened us. I had a radio show on KUSF and actively tapped underground music scenes, looking for that undiscovered stroke of worldchanging noise. Perhaps my efforts of the last 15 years or so building applications on the web are an extension of the same jaded disdain I have for the media establishments. They're in-bred pay-for-play following-orders brain-washers. Let me tell you how I really feel. Complacency is not an option.
Hetfield rides tricked out choppers. I don't make it to San Rafael much except to visit Bubbe (I hope I make it through the long haul the way she has!). But if I lived in San Rafael I'd probably run into Hetfield all over the place; our kids are similar ages so we'd probably share Thin Lizzy on a boombox while the offspringlings are in the sandbox. When I was living in The City, I'd run into Kirk Hammett all of the time (like, the vegetable isle at Whole Foods).
On the other hand, I work in the South-of-Market part of The City and Veen is oft spotted tooling around in a mini-cooper. I don't think he's into Merciful Fate or Thin Lizzy. But then, I've never asked him.
"Hey, what's James doing driving 'round here in that? Oh, yea... that's Jeff Veen."
Hetfield doodles on his guitars.
So they're about the same height and share some conversational mannerisms. Maybe their hairlines are about the same. The spectacles and goatee look might do it, too. But (rational voice) these guys are nothing alike and the context I know them from are completely different. And yet the introverted sensing part of me always draws the association when I run into one of them face to face or flipping TV channels and stumbling upon VH1; there is the odd familiarity of Hetfield when I run into Veen. I should invite Veen to share a bottle of stolichnaya and crank up Black Sabbath to see how he takes to it, maybe it'd just come naturally.
In my wild, youthful daze of ... indulgence, I could count on Sam Kress to goad me on to indulge more. We shared a common bond, loathing all that spankles and poofs, reveling in the too-loud-and-too-fast-so-suck-it-up sounds of the day. I learned this day via my bud @ Umlaut of Sam's passing. Crap! Sam was one of those people who leaves on indelable mark on your memory with his fervent exhortations and swaggering enthusiasm. Even just recently (at the Godsmack show), I thought of Sam when I put down a shot of Jack Daniels (yea, I know, I should stick to the cabernet, they say resveratrol is much healthier, good 'nuff excuse for me). I last saw Sam at a reunion party of sorts (a gathering of old-schoolers) about a year ago, I hadn't seen him in maybe 15 years or so but that mischievious gleam in his eye was still there.
Heathen were formed in 1984 by guitarist Lee Altus and drummer Carl Sacco. Even without a bassist, this lineup played a single gig, on April 21st, 1985. Then, Jim Sanguinetti left to form Mordred and was replaced by Doug Piercey on guitars. Sam Kress, who was a better songwriter than vocalist, was kicked out in late 1985 and David Godfrey of Blind Illusion was asked to join.Yea, Dave's a better singer but Sam could growl like a mofo.
So long, Sam. I don't drink much whiskey any more but next time I have the occasion, I'll be raising it for you. I'll probably drink straight out of the bottle and pass it around, just for old times sake.( Dec 02 2006, 04:20:45 PM PST ) Permalink
If there's anything to be said for the innovations in the tools of creation and distribution of our present day, it's that contemporary political humor has gotten so much funnier!
Thanks, Adam! ( Apr 22 2006, 05:26:39 PM PDT ) Permalink
Sitting on my own brain, waiting for the end of days
Corporation profits, Bloody oil money
I'm above the law and I'll decide what's right or wrong
I am the egg head, I'm the Commander, I'm the Decider(check it out)
The last time I saw guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth play a live show, it was at a club that no longer exists (Wolfgangs) in San Francisco. That was nineteen years ago! Blending baroque classical music and Jimi Hendrix all-over-it guitar mastery maybe be difficult to appreciate until you hear it. But Uli is the real deal.
WARNING: If you're not into insane guitar playing or if pictures of old hippies freak you out, this post probably won't interest you at all... buh bye.
The Scorpion's guitarist for several years in the 70's never joined them in the commercial success that they enjoyed after they parted ways. Throughout the 80's and 90's, Scorpions were standard icons of the arena metal phenom. But that guitarist, Uli Jon Roth, was cut from different cloth and blazed a different path. He has a unique guitar playing style that is unmatched by anyone (yea yea, I know Yngwie.. used to know him personally too but so what? he can kiss my ass). I've been a huge fan of Uli's since my teenage metal freak days. That show at Wolfgangs in 1985 was a tough time 'cause I was finding a lot of metal acts boring and increasingly lacking innovation; everything was so derivative. I was anticipating Uli's show. Blind Illusion was opening the gig and I knew Uli would be doing something different. Boy... was he ever! He had this big choir on stage with him with all these dreadful operatic layers. The music was brilliant but the performance was nearly negated by the vocal barrage, ugh! I left that show with a mixed bag of feelings. Where was "Hell Cat"? "Firewind"? "Dark Lady"?? Uli has been replaced by an alien replica, "Invasion of the Hippie Snatchers!" OK, no... the guitar work was great despite the over the topic vocal arrangements.
Fast forward to 2004. I had to cut out of work prematurely to go to the show at Tommy-T's in Concord. I knew I was gonna run into some old friends. Lo and behold, Dave who was the singer in Blind Illusion (later and still, Heathen along with Lee Altus also present), Ron Quintana, Mike Meals, Eric Hayek, Tom Christie, all the usual suspects... word. Heard Mike Varney was around, too ("Rock Justice" woo hoo!)... sorry to have missed him. But there was little time for yakking. I know I should probably get out and see some more live music. I should probably take my vitamins every day too. Friends: don't take it personally, but this was business. Nineteen years of wanting to see the performance that I didn't get at Wolfgangs. I'd heard a report from Doug (an ex-Heathen) that he saw Uli play in the spring in Dusseldorf and I knew that this would be a must-see show.
The amazing guitar death show redux: the first act on was yet someone else from distant history: Doug Doppelt (aka "Doppler Inc") came out and played... a really short set! It was like, oh, twelve minutes or so. But he totally smoked for all twelve of them, heh! It was really great to see someone that good at it get that into and have such a good time with it. Tommy-T's blew it by keeping his stage time so short. Oh, well, WTF?!
So after about 45 minutes, Uli came on. He played with a keyboard/sequencer dude and his guitar tech/roadie played rhythm guitar part of the time. And that was it! Once again, Uli is marching to his own drummer... this time a virtual one. The early part of the show had a distinctly classical recital feel to it. Playing Vivaldi's "Spring" and "Winter" movements of the "Four Seasons" along with his own "Metamorphosis" variations on the theme, Uli played in front of screen with projections of himslef playing accompanied by a small chamber orchestra (weirdo-head). But the music. The music was brilliant! The guy has a very individual style for playing articulated arpeggios and stacatto melodies that really is inimitable. Did I ever really think Yngwie was god?
|The classical recital continued with "Venga La Primavera." You almost expected a Meastro's bow after that one. But then it was time to transition through other eras. When he introduced the Greek mythological origins of the Charon character that inspired "Sails of Charon" (off of the "Taken By Force" album), he gave the air of an academic lecture. His seeming befuddlement at the audience's inattentiveness was amusing. Uli: "Leading you across the rivers of the underworld, Charon blah blah blah..." Audience, fists in the air: "ULI! ULI! ULI!" Well, seeing him play "Sails of Charon" was a long time coming for me. It's an amazing piece of guitar work. Next up was "Hiroshima" from the Electric Sun era's "Firewind" album. Completely awe inspiring. Following up with Hendrix' rendition of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" capped it off.|
Then I had to say "adios" to my old pals. 'twas too damned bad. I woulda really liked to have stayed to see Michael Schenker's set but I was running on 2 hours of sleep and wanted to get back to work to make sure a project I'd been working on launched on time. It did: politics.technorati.com's chock full o' features launched on time to coincide with the CNN partnership for the Replublican National Convention coverage.( Sep 02 2004, 11:28:05 PM PDT ) Permalink
|If you're into old UFO and Scorpions, you'll recognize the importance of this event. Amongst guitar geeks, Ulrich Roth is a legend (and to everyone else he's just an old hippie) -- one such friend saw Roth perform in Dusseldorf a earlier this year where he played Scorpions songs from the pre-Lovedrive era ("Sails of Charon", "Hellcat", etc). I love that stuff! And seeing Michael Schenker will be a great blast form the past (like, it was over 20 years ago when I was a youngster and saw MSG in Oakland... 1980? 1981?) but seeing Roth pull those old tunes will just kick ass!|
These are some of the tour dates heard of so far
( Jul 08 2004, 08:45:15 AM PDT )
There were recent reports of medical emergencies on New Music Express' website. But it doesn't sound like an organic problem. Lars explains, "I had to chill out... I had an episode on the airplane going to Donington the other day... The last 6 months caught up with me..." (from a video posted on the Metallica website). Wow! The foibles of the rich and decadent can really catch up with ya, aye buddy?
Indeed, what a drag it is getting old; I hope the dork feels better. Thanks to Umlaut for the heads up.
( Jun 09 2004, 11:35:33 AM PDT )
At least he has time to play his. Cheers to you, Wade!
( May 27 2004, 12:08:27 AM PDT )
Sounds like an old time style Headbangin Hoe-Down!
( May 22 2004, 09:47:02 AM PDT )
Nice headphone groove to write code by. I really dig the fifth track, "Shalom Salaam" ...soulful, reggae and a message so pertinent to the days we live in now.
"children are children no matter color or faith"
( Feb 25 2004, 12:35:28 PM PST )