Let me paraphrase something that I have never forgotten that I heard from a motivational seminar that I attended about fifteen years ago when I was an Amway distributor.
Have I got your attention? Let me explain . . .
I used to sell Amway. I got sucked in. I couldn't help myself. I had never heard of it before. It sounded interesting. I had my own fold-up Whiteboard. Drawing the Circles. This is 'YOU'. Showing the Plan. Multi-level marketing evangelism. Helping yourself while helping others. Following your Dream. The Jargon. The Community. The enthusiastic and euphoric monthly motivational rallies. It was like a capitalist religious cult. I was fearless at it, too. For awhile. And I didn't care about the rejections I got. It made me stronger. (It's probably how Mormons feel. Wearing my sharp black suit. Knocking on strangers' doors.) I showed Amway to everyone I knew. My accountant. My realtor. My agent. My publisher. My kids. I even showed the 'business', as we called it, to Glenn Wheatley, John Farnham's manager. He practically threw me out of his office. (Big mistake, too, as he was one of the few people I met that actually could have used some Amway products.)
It took me awhile to kick it. De-programmers had to be brought in. I attended A.A. (Amway Anonymous). 'Hi, I'm Joe Dolce and I'm a Recovering Salesperson.'
I bought the entire set of Queen Anne Cookware. (I still have it! I still love it. In fact, the small saucepan, whacked with a heavy wooden Italian spaghetti spoon, makes a brilliant cow-bell which I am using on my new recording next week.) So I got something valuable out of it. I managed to leave 'the business' behind eventually. But not without a few relapses. (I backstepped into playing the 'Golden Airplane Game' a few years later. Tried a few chainletters.) But I'm fine now. I still use Amway Metal Cleaner now and then to clean my pots, but I'm off the heavy stuff. The washing detergents and the like.
Anyway, back to what I wanted to talk to you about. I learned some valuable lessons from those days. One was the difference between Personal Excellence, and Personal Greatness.
Personal Excellence is doing something the way you KNOW it should be done in the first place. Ten out of ten. No fault. No foul.
Personal Greatness is something different.
Personal Greatness is doing something so unique, with so much intrinsic genius and personal vision, that no one alive, no one who has ever been born, or no one who is YET to be born will be able to do it.
Something that comes from a place . . . who knows from where? It just COMES.
Now many of you may scoff at this, but most of my artistic life has been in search of Personal Greatness - at the sacrifice of Personal Excellence. Paradox? Not really. That's one reason I am unable to continue on the good strong roads I have travelled that others wish I would stay on. This has included my parents, my family, ex-partners, fans, Army recruiters, teachers, my Scientologist friends, and the associates in the various and conflicting music worlds I still segue in and out of.
Jazz guitarist, Joe Pass, once gave a complete music course in one sentence when he said, "If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards."
One of the most profound and valuable musical thoughts ever thunked.
I think I have been compelled, sometimes with single-minded fascination, toward the wrong notes - by the challenge of personal transformation.
Hopefully, though, as I am becoming older and wiser (or deader and buried-er, depending on who you talk to), I am learning to bring the tonal - and the atonal - in my daily life into balance in a Feng Shui kind of way. (Hey, I'm trying to be serious here, ok? If you think I'm crappin' on well, Feng Shui and the Shih Tzu you rode in on!)
I guess some folks could argue that Personal Excellence is a necessary step on the way to Personal Greatness. Sometimes, but not always. Many of my most important influences have either short circuited or burnt out and sacrificed the former for the latter. And everyone can think of numerous people (I won't mention names but you fools know who you are) who are Excellent at what they do - but have abandoned the quest for Personal Greatness, whether in work, or relationships.
Beethoven once said, "Beethoven can write music, thank God, but he can do nothing else on earth." That's sad. That's one of the primary differences between Beethoven and JS Bach. Bach was an extraordinarily integrated person as well as composer.
Liberace was quoted as saying, " My whole trick is to keep the tune well out in front. If I play Tchaikovsky, I play his melodies and skip his spiritual struggle."
To that bit of classic showbiz ignorance, I say, "Roll over Tchaikovsky and tell Liberace the news! " I think The-Smile-that-Ate-Wisconsin would have been better served by getting that candelabrum out twixt his butt-cheeks and paying MORE attention to Tchaikovky's spiritual struggle . . . and LESS to his melodies.
Sounds Like Music to Me No 1.
The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scots as a joke, but the Scots haven't got the joke yet. Oliver Herford
FAVOURITE READER LETTERS OF THE WEEK
RE: Hannibal Lecter, Bellaire, Ohio (or "Put the fuckin' lotion in the baaaasket")
My in-laws live in Bellaire, Ohio. I've spent alot of time there, never knowing that info. Next time I get up there or talk to them I will find you somewhat more elaboration . . . Ever get a weird feeling of nostalgia when you see the other psychopaths in Hannibal's ward? That's because one of them is them is played by Don Brockett, who played Chef Brockett on the children show "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" from 1967-1995). Frank
Thanks for your continuing sparks of wit & gr8 to hear about your new album. David, Jazztrix
The guy that sang all those funny Italian-American folk songs in the 60's was Lou Monte. I recall playing his chart songs on 45's on our "Magnavox" usually around Christmas. It's interesting to note the Italian verses are in dialect and would probably not be fully understood by those knowing conventional Italian. Happy Holidays, Joseph Dolce, USA
(Note: Another one of the many doppel-gangers out there posing as me. Some are relatives. I think I once found about 350 people, in the States alone, with the name Joe Dolce. Haven't even bothered checking Italy yet! And I thought I was special. Anyway, you have to be in awe of people that have the same name as you. Lou Monte, by the way, was of my parents generation, and actually honoured me by recording a version of my song, 'Shaddap You Face,' and even named one of his albums with that title. But I had a little hiccup with his 'people' in the States back in the 80s when we released my own record there. They asked who the hell did we think we were putting out 'Lou's' song. I'm pretty sure these guys were 'connected,' if you get my drift, but the connection was probably faulty, as I still have my kneescaps intact.)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 2
"... I think people overemphasize the importance of gear in their search for tone. Your sound comes from how you pick and dampen the strings, and from your attack as much as anything..." Eric Johnson, guitarist
THE LONG WALK 2006
(in Melbourne this Sunday!)
In 2004 AFL legend and Aboriginal activist Michael Long, fed up with the plight of his people, set out to walk from his home in Melbourne to see Prime Minister John Howard in Canberra. He was joined by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous supporters - it was a statement of strength, leadership and inspiration. It was a step towards uniting all Australians.
On Sunday, 3 December you are invited to join thousands of
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for The Long Walk
2006. We will be walking (approx 5km around Albert Park) to
raise money for the Sir Douglas Nicholls Fellowship for Indigenous
Leadership. After The Long Walk join us for a celebration
of live music and entertainment.
Gates open 9am; Walk begins 10.30am
THE LONG WALK
Albert Park, Melbourne
Sunday, 3 December
Take the first step and Register now!
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 3
".. the whole idea is that if you turn your amp up to 10, you should still be able to play at a whisper - you've got to learn to control your hands" - Michael Bloomfield - guitarist, Paul Butterfield Blues Band
In the Shadow of Ho Chi Minh
President Bush has said many dumb things in defense of his
Iraq policy. Citing the Vietnam War as a model, however, is perhaps
his most ludicrous yet. This past week found the president sitting
before a bust of the victorious Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, seemingly
unaware that the United States lost its war with the Communist-led
country. Having long and vehemently denied parallels between the
invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, he nevertheless admitted now to
"Yes," Bush said. "One lesson is that we tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is ... just going to take a long period of time to - for the ideology that is hopeful, and that's an ideology of freedom, to overcome an ideology of hate.... We'll succeed, unless we quit." Bush seems not to have noticed that we succeeded in Vietnam precisely because we did quit the military occupation of that nation . . . article
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 4
"We were doing a charity show and Jeff Beck actually came down with Jimmy Page... they were both playing "air guitar" as they watched us (laughter) . . it was very odd !" Jim McCarty, Yardbirds drummer
What are We Fighting For? Iraq . . .
Irregular Gippsland Peace Newsletter
No.29 December 2006
" . . .With the lies of 'weapons of mass destruction' clearly abandoned by the war parties the reasons for us remaining in IRAQ are constantly changing. Those recently put forward by [John] Howard (and member for McMillan, R. Broadbent) can be summarised as follows:
1.'Staying the course' / 'not to cut and run' and other cliches
about staying there until Iraq has a democratic or stable government.
2. That to withdraw from Iraq is a victory for the'terrorists' and will encourage terrorism, and
3. Supporting and preserving the US alliance.
The answers to these arguments are as follows:-
Democracy and stable government will be impossible to achieve as the US and UK military are stretched and cannot control the current violence in Iraq where approximately 100 Iraqis are being killed every day. Pro-war commentators often brag of the achievements of the elections held in Iraq. They ignore the fact that these elections were basically plebiscites on the presence of the US occupiers and that now more than previously the country (up to 80%) overwhelmingly wants the foreign troops to leave. The current Iraqi 'government' has little influence outside the US green zone in Baghdad where it meets.
The claims of 'terrorist' victories are a distortion of 'Orwellian' proportions. It is now known that al Quaeda did not exist in Iraq before the invasion, that even now it is only a small component of the Iraqi resistance and probably is more intent on attacking Shiites than the occupying troops.
Withdrawing from Iraq will not create a terrorist state but leave it in its present chaotic situation divided amongst more than 20 contending militias, the largest of which - the Mahdi army - has reputedly several hundred thousand members. There is no evidence connecting the resistance in Iraq with the Bali bombings. The London bombings were clearly perpetrated as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and this same war has and continues to make us more vulnerable to a terrorist attack - almost the opposite of what the war parties claim.
Finally all the claims about harming the US alliance are laughable. The Australian commitment is about half of one percent of the troop commitment there and a token only. Many countries have withdrawn their troops without effecting their relations with the US. . ." (Newsletter)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 5
"Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings." Robert Benchley
VIRTUAL SLIDE RULE GALLERY (for the Geeks)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 6
"If anyone has conducted a Beethoven performance, and then doesn't have to go to an osteopath, then there's something wrong." Simon Rattle
FAMOUS CURVES INDEX
(Just when you thought you knew everything . . .) A website where you can just click on the name of a curve to see its history and some of its associated curves. Examples include: Cayley's Sextic, Cissoid of Diocles, Conchoid of de Sluze, Folium of Descartes, Freeth's Nephroid, Kampyle of Eudoxus, Lemniscate of Bernoulli, Limacon of Pascal, Quadratrix of Hippias, Spiral of Archimedes, Trisectrix of Maclaurin and my personal favourite, The Witch of Agnesi. Curves Index
(Note: The Conchoid of de Sluze sounds like one of my ex-girlfriends. Or at least a part of her anatomy.)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 7
"... Johnny Cash's face belongs on Mount Rushmore ..." Kris Kristofferson
CIA Role Claim in Kennedy Killing
New video and photographic evidence that puts three senior CIA operatives at the scene of Robert Kennedy's assassination has been brought to light. Witnesses placed Sirhan's gun several feet in front of Kennedy but the autopsy showed the fatal shot came from one inch behind. article
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 8
I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else. Lily Tomlin
Domino Harvey: Model, Bounty Hunter
Born on August 7th 1969, Domino Harvey was the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey (The Manchurian Candidate) and Vogue model Paulene Stone. After spending some time with the Ford model agency, she took to running a nightclub and being a ranch hand in the San Diego mountains, and at the same time began to love the independence from her mother's money, and the look and feel of firearms. She then worked with the San Diego Fire Department before joining the Celes King Bail Bond Agency in 1994 as a bounty hunter, getting paid 10% of the captured bail bond from drug dealers. On May 4th, 2005, after a multi-state FBI operation, Domino was arrested and charged with possession of $2m of meth- amphetamines. She was released on $1m bail awaiting possible extradition to Gulfport, Mississippi where the arrest took place. On Monday June 27th, the woman hired to mind Domino while on bail called paramedics from Domino's home in West Hollywood. Domino was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center around 11pm where she was pronounced dead. A post-mortem took place two days later, the findings of which were released on September 3rd. The coroner's report stated that death was due to 'acute fentanyl toxicity'. Domino had died from a heart attack caused by an accidental overdose of a powerful painkiller. The cause of death was 'Accidental'. Domino Harvey was 35 years old.
Contrary to headline-making stories in the press, Domino was never opposed to the semi-fictional movie made bout her life, 'Domino', directed by Tony Scott . . . The film was planned by Scott 12 years ago and Domino gave her blessing to it even then. She visited the set in 2004, contributed to the screenplay and the movie's soundtrack. She was close personal friends with the movie's star Mickey Rourke, and the director. She also helped Keira Knightley prepare for the lead role, and attended the movie's wrap party in Las Vegas in December. (article)
(Personally, I enjoyed the movie - why else would I be writing about it? - but here's another point of view:)
Another Tony Scott Film, Another Stylized
Orgy of Mindless Violence
Domino / Jeremy C. Fox
When is a biopic not a biopic? How far away can you get from the actual life of your subject - or, for that matter, from any recognizable reality - and still claim to be presenting the story of a particular human being? How seriously should you take any movie with an opening title that reads "Based on a true story sort of"? There was a real Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey (the original Manchurian Candidate) and Vogue model Paulene Stone, and for a time she worked as a bounty hunter, but Tony Scott's tacky, cheesy, derivative, over-the-top, surprisingly dull new film resembles her actual life only slightly more than it does mine. (full review)
BE A BOUNTY HUNTER.COM
(If anyone out there wants to have a go at catching some bad guys)
" Through our training manual and online seminar we have
trained well over 1100 aspiring bail bond investigators since
June of 2000 and we are the ONLY bail investigation company offering
state approved online continuing education to the bail recovery
and private investigation industries. In order to make this
claim, our online bail enforcement training course had to stand
up to the scrutiny of lawmakers and officials in several states!
Thank you for visiting BeABountyHunter.com, I certainly hope that you find what you are looking for and that we can help you in your own . . 'Relentless Pursuit of your Success!' " site
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 9
". . . The movie "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956) completely did me in, particularly seeing Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps who looked really dangerous. It started me wanting my own guitar . . . another motivating factor was the collapse of rock and roll in 1959. Elvis was drafted, Buddy Holly was dead and there was no real danger anymore. Overnight everybody was named Johnny This or Johnny That, and they were all singing this terrible V-neck sweater music. So it was like, "What are you bastards doing with my music? I'm not going to have that taken away!" So I think we decided we just wanted to take it back . . ." Jeff Beck, Yardbirds
Now you can listen to some of the doctor's classic raves! Tune in, turn on and drop out . . . one more time with feeling! (Use of mind expanding apparati is optional.) site
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 10
"...the elephant smoked too much." Victor Borge, (explaining why the keys of his piano were so yellow)
Boom in Nanotechnology Poses Consumer Risks,
Products Made with Nanoparticles Growing
WASHINGTON - November 27 - The explosion of consumer products made with nanotechnology, highlighted today by an independent report, is raising growing concern among scientists and health experts that too little is known about potential health risks. Nanotechnology involves the manipulation of materials one-billionth of a meter in size -- larger than atoms, but much smaller than a cell.
While such advances hold the promise of breakthroughs in biomedical treatments, energy efficiency and many other fields, the very real potential risks posed by nanoparticles are largely being ignored, according to Dr. Jennifer Sass, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
"Nanoparticles behave unpredictably and could harm human beings, wildlife and the environment," Sass warned.
A report released today by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars found a 70 percent increase since March in the number of consumer products made with nanotechnology, such as food containers, stain-resistant clothing, eyeglass coatings that reduce glare, and even more durable tennis balls. In all, more than 350 such products are now on the market, according to the center's Project on Emerging Technologies. (For the Report. For the Product List.)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 11
"Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it." John Lennon
16,000 Single Mothers in Iraq
Yearning to Be Whole Again
By Donna St. George
" . . When war started in Iraq, a generation of U.S. women became involved as never before - in a wider-than-ever array of jobs, for long deployments, in a conflict with daily bloodshed. More than 155,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among their ranks are more than 16,000 single mothers, according to the Pentagon, a number that military experts say is unprecedented. How these women have coped and how their children are managing have gone little-noticed as the war stretches across a fourth year. . ." article
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 12
"People today are still living off the table scraps of the Sixties." Bob Dylan
(Note: Ah ha! I knew it was diet! So that's how Bob keeps that brittle, sucked-out look!)
South Land to New Holland
South Land to New Holland: Dutch Charting of Australia 16061756 celebrates early Dutch exploration of the Australian coast, drawing on the rare maps and other resources from the collections of Australia's National, State and Territory libraries. Online access with zoom facility!! Maps
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 13
"Without Elvis, none of us could have made it." Buddy Holly
If We All Vanished Tomorrow
What would really happen if all humans disappeared?
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Of course you already know. Of course you can merely look out the window and see the traffic and the plastic and the smog and the bad haircuts and the war and the Paris Hilton and the Bush and say, well duh.
But imagine the result anyway. Imagine for a moment that every human on the face of the planet was suddenly whisked away to the divine gurgling ether in one big blast of cheery Armageddon nothingness, all the Bible-waving True Believers carted off to a giant sex-free harp-filled cosmic Wal-Mart while the rest of us leap to the next luminous transformational echelon of timespacelove.
What would happen, really? How would the planet respond if all bipeds disappeared tomorrow?
You can probably guess. Almost immediately, the planet would shudder, shift, align itself anew. Immediately, all endangered species would begin to recover. Light pollution (that is, pollution caused by industrial light) would soon vanish, followed by a great reduction in air pollution, methane gasses, chemicals in fresh water. Soon, all bridges and dams would collapse, roads would become overgrown, buildings would decay, corals would regenerate, most organic landfill would decay and vanish. And that's just the beginning. article
Two hillbillies walk into a restaurant. After ordering their cornbread and beans, they talk about the latest addition to their junkyard business.
Suddenly, a woman at a nearby table, who is eating a sandwich, begins to cough. After a minute or so, it becomes apparent that she is in real distress.
One of the hillbillies looks at her and says "Kin ya swallar?" The woman shakes her head no.
"Kin ya breathe?" The woman begins to turn blue and shakes her head no.
The hillbilly walks over to the woman, lifts up the back of her dress, yanks down her drawers and quickly gives her right butt cheek a big lick with his tongue.
The woman is so shocked that she has a violent spasm and the obstruction flies out of her mouth. As she begins to breathe again, the hillbilly walks slowly back to the bar.
His partner says, "Ya know, I'd heerd of dat dere 'Hind Lick Maneuver', but I ain't never seed nobody do it."
(Thanks to Jim Testa)
(Note: This joke reminds me of a song I wrote a couple of years ago:
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 14
"Americans want grungy people, stabbing themselves in the head on stage. They get a bright bunch like us, with deodorant on, they don't get it." Liam Gallagher
Figure drawing of a woman - from the inside out. site
(Thanks to Frank Dolce)
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 15
"I'm gonna put a curse on you and all your kids will be born completely naked." Jimi Hendrix
MURDER ON THE HI C'S
Revisiting Florence Foster Jenkins, soprano
Cosme McMoon, at the piano
IN THE FALL of 1944, it was announced that Florence Foster Jenkins was to lift her voice in song from the hallowed stage of Carnegie Hall in New York. Immediately the world of music was seized by a rare excitement. The concert was sold out for weeks in advance, with tickets scalped for as much as $20 apiece.
Madame Jenkins' recital was the incredible climax of a bizarre career. For Madame Jenkins' shortcomings as an artiste were nothing short of awesome. A dumpy coloratura soprano, her voice was not even mediocre - it was preposterous! She clucked and squawked, trumpeted and quavered. She couldn't carry a tune. Her sense of rhythm was uncertain. In the treacherous upper registers, her voice often vanished into thin air, leaving an audience with its ear cocked for notes with which she might just as well have never taxed her throat. One critic dolefully described her as "the first lady of the sliding scale." Such tart comments were heaped upon Madame Jenkins throughout the 30-odd years that she performed in public. Yet throughout them she was immensely popular among her colleagues. Many of the world's most distinguished musicians - Enrico Caruso for one - regarded her with affection and respect. Audiences laughed at her - laughed until the tears rolled down their cheeks, laughed until they stuffed handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle the mirth - but she was never dismayed. Even when a song was punctured by rowdy applause (her listeners sometimes responded to a piercing clinker with whoops of "Bravo! Bravo!") the diva simply smiled and bowed. (more)
Audio: Queen Of The Night Aria and Adele's Laughing Song site
Sounds Like Music to Me No. 16
"If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong. He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original." Duke Ellington
Smoked Ham Hock and Lentils
1 small smoked ham hock
250 -500 gms small red lentils
1 onion, diced finely
sprig of fresh marjoram
some fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt. pepper and red chili flakes to taste
Remove the skin from the ham hock and discard. (This keeps
the lentils from being too fatty.)
Saute the onions in a little olive oil. Add the ham hock and enough water to cover. Add the salt, pepper, chili flakes and herbs. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to lowest heat. Slow cook for about one hour. Check the water level now and then and make sure the ham hock is covered. Add more water as necessary. After the hock has cooked for about an hour and is starting to become tender, add the lentils. Continue to simmer covered for about another hour. The lentils should be absorbing the liquid. Simmer until the lentils are cooked. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh coriander, sweet and sour red cabbage, and some Indian pickles.
THE FINAL HURRAH
How many jazz musicians does it take to change
a light bulb?
"Don't worry about the changes. We'll fake it!"