Hanging with a Blackheart

Hanging with a Blackheart is hanging with a good heart.  I spent my Sunday hanging with more than one Blackheart. A whole band full led by the Rock & Roll Queen, Joan.

Rock is still alive and well, definitely in Bakersfield. The closing night of the Kern County Fair rocked out with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The overflow crowd stood jam-packed into the two gate areas of visibility and sang along with all the “Joan Jett Anthems.” (I love Rock and Roll, Cherry Bomb, Bad Reputation, Crimson and Clover, and many more)

It was a good trip down memory lane for me. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s I would hang backstage with the guitar techs of the Rock Gods. And sometimes hang with the Sound and lighting folks. I did both last night.

Really good people.

Joan’s guitar-tech, Zach, known as one of the best on the road, is a home-town bud from Indiana. His early years in the music business started at McGuire Music & Sound in Lafayette, Indiana.

When Zack worked the music store, I had already left and was doing the artist relations and wholesale music stuff in California. It was great to get to know a young dude that had worked at my old store after I was gone. He’s been the guitar tech for Joan Jett for quite a few years. Besides going out on tour with the Joan and the Blackhearts, Zach also ‘techs’ for Cindy Lauper, Wilco and others.

Guitar techs, drum techs, sound techs, lighting techs are all skilled jobs that are as important as the players. Good Sound & Lighting can make a show memorable.

Here’s a quick look at the boys and girls at work last night.

Zach preparing J one"s guitars

Zach preparing JOAN’S Guitars

Sharing her booth before the show

Sharing her booth before the show

Doing Joan Setts  Sound for 28 years.

Bobby has been doing Joan’s sound for 28 years

Little Annie working the light board

Little Annie working the light board

Picture from the lighting board

Picture from the lighting board

And then...the Tear Down

And then…the Tear Down

This is when I suddenly had things to do. I hate “tearing down.”

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Scary Irony

I’m not sure how I feel about the “selfie” generation. If they can make change without a computer register, I’ll feel better about them then the last bunch.

Yet, I’m sure they’re missing out on some important life steps. Like sitting in a booth across from each other, holding hands, staring into each other’s eyes…and maybe even talking.
Like hanging out and cutting up, making fun of teachers, talking about the party.

Here’s a typical group of high-schoolers…hanging out.

RIPE FOR SHARKNADOTeens hanging with cells

 

 

No one absorbs the sounds and sights of a live concert…through their own eyes and ears, not their iphones.

Have you attended a concert lately?  Really weird. One half of the audience is waving their cell phones around taking video and shooting shots. The other half are busy posting their last video and pictures in the hopes of quickly gaining more Instagram followers. When the “selfie” generation attends an event, there doesn’t seem to be any “here” there. They seem to be living a self-made movie that they believe people really want to see.

Here is an amusing, scary, ironic little film called “Aspirational.” It was shot by Matthew Frost for Vs. magazine. It stars Kirsten Dunst.

It explains what I’m talking about.

http://fashiontube.com/pwxp5e

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Sex, Drugs and Blues

Yeah, all those other scribes are busy writing about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Not me, man. I’m a blues guy.

Now that my novel, Barstow Blues, is released, many potential readers have asked me, “Hey, Dan, what’s the book about?”

When I say, “Sex, drugs and blues”– their eyes turn blank and they usually gulp and suddenly need to take a phone call before their cell rings. I understand.

I read a book about writing. It said– write what you know. I did.

I also know a lot about kitty litter, Satanic poetry, Nascar, the ‘49rs, car wrecks, Jack Daniels and Indiana. I’m excited about my next novel about a drunken witch who takes her cat with her everywhere she goes. She goes back to Indiana and puts a “spell” on Danica Patrick who begins to win every damn race. You won’t believe how she becomes Danica Kaepernick. Stay tuned. Or not.
Colin-Kaepernick-24witch and catDanica

BOOKS
Speaking of books, it was fun to see the latest American Library Association list. The all-important “Best Banned Book List.”

If I could only get on that list I would sell millions of copies of Barstow Blues.

The rules to get on the Best Banned Book List are easy. The books having the most “challenges” to be banned make this honor roll. This list is a celebration of our freedom to read any damn thing we want to read. Yes, roll your eyes, holy rollers, I mean you.

Right here in Bakersfield, where Steinbeck brought the Joad family in “The Grapes of Wrath” the local do-gooders had a book-burning of that incredibly great book– right in the center of town. And yes, we still have a closed-mind-set group of people who think they know what’s best for us. They definitely don’t like us reading about filthy sex, unless of course it’s that great clean sex in the Bible…you know where Lot has sex with both his daughters and they bear his sons to be the heads of great new clans. That’s the good stuff we should read.

On to the list. For the second year in a row the number one most challenged  book is CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. Yes in fact the whole series (10 total) are under siege for their potty humor. Poor Captain Underpants is always busy plotting against Professor Poopie Pants or wrestling with the wicked Wedgie Woman.

Here’s the Top Ten Best Banned Book List of the American Library Association:

1)    Captain Underpants                  by Dav Pilkey
2)   The Bluest Eye                            by Tony Morrison
3)   The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian         by Sherman Alexie
4)   50 Shades of Grey                    by E. L. James  (sorry ladies, there’s a lot of do-gooders                                                                                               that don’t want you reading that)
5)   The Hunger Games                by Suzanne Collins
6)   A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl    by Tanya Lee Stone
7)   Looking for Alaska                by John Green
8)   The Perks of being a Wallflower        by Stephen Chbosky
9)   Bless Me Ultima                    by Rudolpho Anaya
10) Bone                                         by Jeff Smith

 HAPPY READING!

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Please Mr. Putin, don’t shut me off

I know it’s important to place the sanctions on Russia. I was all for it. But what happens so often is even when we do the right thing, the little guy gets hurt.

So we have gone and pissed-off Mr. Putin and now he’s about to shut off the internet in Russia. And there goes my two readers…kaput.

Every day of the week, even though I only write three posts a week, I have two wonderful readers from the Russian Federation. I don’t who they are.

Did you read that Mr. Putin?  I don’t know who they are. (no spying going on here). WordPress doesn’t tell me that…they only report the number of readers and what country they are from. Every day, every week there are two readers of “Bako Heat” from the Russian Federation. I have readers in 120 countries, but I don’t want to lose my two Russian friends.

Now there’s a chance that it could be Mr. Putin reading me every day. If so, maybe he will change his mind about shutting us down.
IS IT YOU VLADIMIR? ARE YOU READING ME EVERY DAY?
Putin

Maybe Putin and Snowden are my two readers…hmmm.  I’ll give that some thought.
OTHER STUFF I NEED TO TELL YOU ABOUT—

ANIMAL FACTS

Before I let you get away I found two strange stories about two very large animals. I have no comment on either story. Maybe you do?

1) In 1916 a circus elephant named Mary was executed by hanging in Erwin, Tennessee, for killing her circus trainer. The prosecutors agreed upon hanging after they exhausted the possibilities of firing squad, electrocution and dismemberment by train engines.

2) The male giraffe determines the fertility of the female by tasting her urine. If it passes the taste test the courtship continues.

 

Enjoy this great week!

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Asian Language Lesson

Every year for the last decade I get a call from the USDA (Ag Department) asking permission to come hang a little white box in my peach tree and another in my orange tree. They probably hang thousands throughout the area, always looking for fruit flies, psyllids, or other pesky little creatures that could cause a quarantine of fruit.

Citrus alone is a $700 million dollar annual business here in Kern County so finding a “bad bug” can be devastating.

Last September ag inspectors found a Asian Citrus Psyllid on one tree in a large citrus grouping in a little town, Wasco, just north of Bakersfield. This strange looking bug was called a “hitchhiker.” A bug that somehow finds his way across the Pacific. They can carry a dreaded disease that would cause a major quarantine of citrus shipping. That bug was not a carrier.

Whenever they find one of these bugs they quarantine the fruit trees in the area and do a close-up 100% inspection. The bacterial infection these bugs cause to trees are fatal. They don’t hurt humans but I wouldn’t eat one.
AsianCitrusPsyllid1

The disease they carry is called “Huanglonbing.” These little psyllids were discovered in Florida in 1998 and they disease they carried was discovered in 2005.

I’m glad they didn’t find that stuff in my trees. I can imagine my neighbors talking among themselves. “Did you hear about old Dan down the street? He’s got Huanglongbing.”

Yeah, that’s all I need.

But, it is a fun word to say.

There’s another fun word that Japanese have been saying for over 20 years. It has become a common Japanese word since it was invented in 1992. That was when President George H.W. Bush (Bush I) was dining in Japan with the Japanese Prime Minister. During dinner President Bush felt sick, leaned over and vomited in the Prime Minister’s lap. (Yes!)
(Why couldn’t Obama have pulled that trick with Putin?)

So…now when someone vomits the Japanese have a new slang word “bushusuru.” It translates to “Do the Bush Thing.”

That is the end of your first Asian Language lesson.

Sayonara.

 

BTW: My novel is on sale this weekend. Click on the book cover and be transported to the wonderful world of Amazon.

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Barstow Blues

Four years ago this Saturday was a typical triple-digit heat wave in Bakersfield. I opened the local fish-wrap and saw this article about a writer’s group meeting with an interesting speaker. If I wanted to go I had one hour before the meeting started. I’m not sure why I went.

It was like a repentant sinner hearing the singing from the big tent out in the field and the irresistible urge to go see what’s happening. I wanted somebody to lay hands on me and shout in my ear, “Man cannot live by bread alone, he must have peanut butter.”

Oh sure, everybody wants to write a book. Until they try. I had never tried.

And like everybody, I thought it might be something I’d like to do…someday.

When I retired eight years ago, I had a burning ambition to learn option trading. And I did. And I did OK. Sometimes a lot better than OK. Only one thing stopped me from continuing.  A pretty big thing. A large blood-pressure reading and a sarcastic doctor.
Doctor in lab coat smiling

 (You know, Dan, if you made as much money as me you could say, Screw the Market!)

But, I was hooked on spending 15-18 hours a day in front of the computer screen trying to second-guess where the market would be in 60 or 90 days. I thought if I was going to replace this passion I needed a new one.  I still had playing and writing music but that’s a weekend thing.

So, I went to this writer’s meeting and some young gal from L.A. stood in front of the audience and told everybody they could write a novel in 30 days.  She said in November (40 days away)  was a contest called NaNoWriMo and there would be over a quarter million folks trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Hopefully 50,000 words that made sense.

I went home and told my wife I was going to write a novel in November. She never flinched. She said, “You can do it. Go for it.”

I did. I was one of 20,000 people (less than 10%) who made it and won the challenge. I was hooked.

So every November for the last four years I wrote a novel in 30 days. This year I couldn’t wait till November and already wrote #5.

Does that mean they are any good?  Hell No! Most of it was vomit. The better parts were shit.

But writing is really re-writing. So that first novel from four years ago I have re-written at least four times and today I’m proud to ask you to “PLEASE BUY MY NOVEL.”

I promise I won’t keep asking.

Just click on the book cover in the side column and you’ll be magically transported to a place called Amazon. One more click after that and I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life.
barstow blues book cover-LATEST 2

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Going Viral in the ’80s.

The term “went viral” is as common as “text me.”

Not too many years ago, I would assume someone was talking about getting the flu.

YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are our “viral” sources today. It can be as silly as our local Bakersfield cat attacking a dog biting a child to a horribly out-of-tune singer. This past month has been all about raising money for ALS with the “ice bucket challenge.”
ice bucket challenge

With the ice bucket challenge going viral, I was reminded of another challenge some 28 years ago.

Remember this was before Social Media. If something went viral, it had to be seen on television, newspapers and blasted by the news media.

This event was and it went viral.

I drove from my home in Newport Beach up to Long Beach, paid $10 to have a place in line and stood with almost 7 million people in the first “Hands Across America” campaign to fight hunger and poverty.

There were four celebrity National co-chairs for the event. Check these names:  Kenny Rogers, Lily Tomlin, Bill Cosby and Pete Rose. (I kid you not)

Every major city had a host of celebrities taking part.

It was a beautiful day in Long Beach. Our anchor celebrities were Mickey Mouse and Goofy (Of course), Rev. Robert Schuller, Kenny Loggins and a few others I can’t remember. Papa Doo Run Run was playing live music at the Queen Mary which was the starting(or ending) point.

THIS IS A “HANDS” LINE IN SANTA MARIA CALIFORNIA
Hands Across America

In New York there was Brooke Shields, Lisa Minnelli, Gregory Hines and many more.

In Washington D.C., President Reagan and Tip O’Neill held hands in the middle of the chain. For whatever reason, Michael Jackson was in Columbus, Ohio.

The event raised $34 million.

My friends back in Indiana remembered it was going to work in tandem with the Indianapolis 500 mile race. There would already be 300,000 plus packed in there that could take part. However the race was rained out, but the Hands Across America still happened there– in the rain.

Did any of you take part?  It was May 25, 1986. What do you remember and where were you?

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