No thanks to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, during 2020, University Heights Community Development Corporation cancelled concerts normally held Friday evenings throughout July into early August. Presumably, because I see nothing scheduled as […]
Someone please explain this to me—seeing as I am an older white guy who is supposedly clueless about social justice matters. Today, I moseyed over to the Billboard Hot 100 to see where ranked controversial Cardi B song “WAP”, which is shorthand for “Wet-Ass Pussy”. The tune is Number One its only week on the chart. That’s an impressive debut.
Unexpectedly, I am perplexed by the other nine, in context of racial riots raging across the country; protesters demanding “no justice, no peace“; and U.S. representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) calling for “unrest in the streets“. Among the Top 10 songs, seven are from artists of color (the majority men); one is from a mixed-race troupe; and two are from white male solo singers. If anyone is looking for someplace where there is black representation, look no further.
Our Sunday spot shouldn’t be, because of endings: The photographer is no longer active on Flickr, and I am unable to confirm that his subject matter still exists. But I can’t resist the portrait for looking to be exactly what it is—in purest, iconic, grainy, black-and-white composition: An indy rock group.
Steve Hardy shot self-titled “The NYC Band, The Upwelling” on Jan. 24, 2009, using Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 1600,1/15 sec, 33mm. He describes himself as a “Grammy Award and multi-platinum, award-winning mix engineer”. He mixed the group’s album “An American Stranger”, which released in August of the same year that he snapped the photo.
This afternoon, my wife and I attended one of two matinee showings for “Jesus Christ Superstar”, which is making a 50th-anniversary U.S. tour. The new stage play started in Syracuse, New York, on Oct. 1, 2019 and is scheduled to end in Fort Worth on Aug. 30, 2020. As I write, two local shows, at San Diego Civic Center, remain: Tomorrow at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. PST. I enjoyed the performance enough to want to see it again, but that’s not happening.
Anne and I sat in the last row of the Orchestra section; seats 44 and 46. The location was close enough to fully see the performers and enjoy the music (the arrangement was fantabulous). Having not been to this theatre before, I chose to purchase presale tix that put us aways back but not too far. After attending, and seeing the musicians high over the back of the stage rather than in a pit before it, I might move forward. That said, because the cast performed across the stage, and above it, ORCHR3 V44 and 46 gave great vantage point. Closer seats are lower to the platform, perhaps too much so.
Concurrent with the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 kick-off and other Day 0 announcements, music streaming service Tidal updated its Android app (hehe, sorry iOS users) to support Masters. Oh, yeah, baby. Gimme, gimme. Tidal unveiled Masters, in licensing partnership with MQA, two years ago during the same tech gala.
Abandoning Apple for Google products during summer 2018 meant my giving up Tidal Masters, which until today were only available on the macOS and Windows desktop apps. Because Chrome OS supports Android apps, I can now listen to Masters on my laptop, not just smartphone. You can, too (if not an Apple device user).
I can count on two hands, which soon may not be enough, how many times that I cancelled the Tidal music service only to resume weeks later. I first joined on April 1, 2015, when the rebranded music streamer started. Three days before my then most recent renewal date, June 30, 2018, I pledged to end my subscription for good. Simple reason: The Wilcox household subscribes to too many services, and Tidal is among the most expensive at $19.95 per month. I terminated, as planned.
But as expressed six months ago, “the new rule is this: we will pay for what we get good value”. My aging ears derive too much value from music streamed as so-called hifi—Free Lossless Audio Codec, delivered at 44 kHz, 16 bit, and 1411kbps bitrate. I can hear the difference, compared to muddy 320kbps MP3 or 256kbps AAC files. Every time I switch services, the muddy sound—particularly pronounced in vocals—drives me back to FLAC, and to Tidal. About two weeks later, in mid-July, I celebrated my birthday with yet another return. My subscription is uninterrupted nearly six months later.
When I first opened the box containing the Grado Labs GW100 headphones, one word came to mind: “Cheap”. The cans didn’t look or feel like the classy Grado RS1i and RS1e, which I once owned, or the GS1000e that are still beloved and possessed. But after connecting to Google Pixel 2 XL (and later the 3 XL), via Bluetooth, I exclaimed: “Priceless”. The first offering in the company’s “Wireless Series” rises to an audiophile class unmatched by most competing cans; I prefer the GW100 to the GS1000e, which cost four times more to buy. Four words best describe the experience listening to music of any genre: Natural. Immersive. Balanced. Authentic.
The GW100 are unique among wireless headphones by design: They are open-back like Grado’s wired models, but they are unlike all other major manufacturers’ wireless cans, which typically cover the ears and/or impose oppressively confining noise cancellation. I understand that commuters on noisy trains or travelers on rumbling airplanes might want NC, but the feature creates a cone of silence that is very unnatural. By comparison, the GW100’s open-air design allows music to expand, while—I must concede—letting in background noise going on about you.
As explained yesterday, Google Store Father’s Day sale specials spurred along my decision to abandon Apple for Pixel devices and supporting services, nothing more. I had contemplated such a move for some time before acting, which brings me to revealing another change: Leaving behind Tidal.
I have subscribed to the high-fi, lossless music streaming service since its rebranded launch under Jay Z (and partners) ownership: April 1, 2015. A few other times I cancelled, mainly because of monthly cost ($19.95), but resubscribed during the billing cycle. Why? I can hear the difference, particularly in vocals, which pulled me back. Every other option makes muddy audio. But I have finally decided to, regrettably, put value before fidelity.
Let’s dispense with the important disclaimer: The song lyric that follows is in no way about my wife. I wrote it years before we ever met, in 1979, at age 20, around the same time as “Seventh Star Dreamer“.
I got to thinking about “Show Me a Smile” today while discussing high neighborhood rents. I reminisced about my first apartment costing just $40 a week—and being more visually appealing than the great place where we live now. Most of my best songwriting goes back to that first flat.
Like the Sirens’ call, festive, rambunctious live music beckoned as I left Trader Joe’s this evening. I walked to the car, set in my groceries, and returned to see who could be the player. Approaching, I pulled out 2 bucks to drop in his instrument case.
I snapped the Featured Image, at 6:08 p.m. PDT, using iPhone 7 Plus, opting for the second lens that acts as optical zoom. The choice allowed me to keep distance while shooting and clear way for other passersby to likewise show their appreciation.
The other day, my sister Nanette reminded how much my younger self bore some (let me editorialize fleeting) resemblance to singer John Denver. During high school chorus trips 40 years ago (or so), somewhere, somewhen, […]
I started writing song lyrics around age 14, when given a typewriter. I long had fancied myself a lyricist, and you can be the judge by reviewing some of the verse. Songwriting was harder, but the first song came to me while walking home from high school (gasp) 40 years ago—perhaps a May day like this one, year of my graduation. I don’t recall the date. All my writings from the 1970s and 80s were left, and later lost, in Vermont circa 1989.
“Joe College” is simple, purposely repetitive, and peppy. I remember trying to hold the melody and words together in my head as I rushed back to my bedroom. The tune, as first inspired, changed because of short-term memory loss before being committed to permanent neural storage. Strangely—and I do mean strangely—the inspiration came from an animated Peanuts special, which in part featured Snoopy the dog as Joe Cool attending college.