Friday, January 29, 2016

injaynesworld "Another Star Burns Out..."

It is the late sixties. San Francisco is the rock music capital of the country, and a good place to be young and reckless.  There are few diseases that can’t be cured by a shot of penicillin, you know your drug dealer on a personal basis and they take pride in their product, and concert tickets are only three dollars plus you get a cool poster.  Hidden away in a neighborhood haunted by hookers and heroin addicts is a set of brown, unadorned, double doors that lead into Wally Heider Recording.  It is here that the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the Grateful Dead come to make their magic, and I am the first person they see as they enter. 

I am 21 years old and my job is to book their time in one of three studios, along with the assigned engineer and equipment.  Competition for the most coveted times and rooms makes it hard to keep these artists always happy, but it does garner me a lot of perks in the form of free records, concert tickets, and pot, the smoke from which seeps through every air vent in the place.  

It is a nine-to-five job, but nights are when the big stars arrive, and I find reasons to stay late.  When the heavily-insulated studio doors seal shut and the light above them flashes red, musical history is about to be made, and I am an enthusiastic witness to it all:  Gregg Rolie’s organ solo on “Black Magic Woman,” Jerry Garcia’s vocal on “Friend of the Devil,” Tower of Power’s horn section dropping by to lay down some tracks for The Pointer Sisters.   

My position at Heider Recording puts me in rarefied air with those most others can only admire from a distance and when I leave the job the door to that world closes behind me, leaving only memories. 

Today when one of the tunes from that time comes on the radio, the names, faces, and those hours in smoke-filled studios come rushing back, though I know that none of them would remember the girl at the front desk behind those nondescript doors who was the first to greet them. 

This week we lost one of the superstars of that era, Paul Kantner, guitarist and driving force behind The Jefferson Airplane, later to morph into The Jefferson Starship.  He died at the age of 74, continuing to play gigs around the City up until just a couple of years ago.  Rock on, Paul.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

injaynesworld "How Not to Start the New Year..."

You leave home early to drive 300 miles north for a family visit with plans for a three-day stay firmly in place.  The visit could not go better.  Great food, great wine, movies, shopping, presents (you love presents), and leave-taking before everyone gets tired of each other. 

The car packed, hugs all around, and you're ready to head out.  You put the car in gear, a little wave and some blown kisses and… nothing.  The engine hums, but the car does not go forward, the car does not go backward.  Denial is the go-to emotion.

For the sake of brevity, let’s just say it appears your transmission is kaput. 

You unload the car and go back inside, your stellar leave-taking ruined like an actor who has blown his lines.  Now you must figure out a way to (A) Get your car back home to your own mechanic, and (B) Get yourself home.

You go online and find yourself sucked into the underworld of auto shippers.  One simple request for a quote brings a barrage of offers to your inbox and, like beggar children on the streets of Bangladesh, they are relentless. You pick a phone number at random hoping to find someone who will not screw you over.

A guy who sounds like Gary Busey answers the phone.  You are strangely comforted by his folksy manner and peppered language.  He assures you that every other company but his will indeed screw you over.  All brokers put your information up on the same trucker board and then you must wait for a trucker to bid on your job.  Might take 24 hours, might take 48.  You should call him back Monday morning, because he’s about to take off on a weekend binge.  “Brokers like to party,” he laughs.  You’re no longer quite as comforted, but now you’ve entered into a “relationship” and feel a certain obligation to make it work. 

You then call the 800 number for Enterprise car rental.  You are told you may not rent a car with a debit card, only a credit card.  Your debit card also serves as a credit card, you argue to no avail.  However, someone else can rent the car for you with their credit card if you bring them with you when you pick up the car.  You can do that, and the car reservation is made for pickup the next morning at ten o’clock. 

Along with your cousin, you arrive at the Enterprise Vortex-of-Hell Car Rental right on time.  Their website states, "When a customer leaves with a smile, you know you made their day a little better."  This is not going to be one of those days.  Yes, they have your reservation.  Yes, your cousin may rent the car on her credit card.  No, you may not drive it unless you have your own credit card.  You point out that if you had a credit card you would not have had to drag your cousin down here with you.  The perky prepubescent behind the desk is not moved by your logic. You continue to plead your case.  The word “bullshit” might escape your lips once or twice.  You and your cousin decide the best course of action is subterfuge.  Fuck ‘em.  She’ll rent it, you’ll drive it, authorized to do so or not.  But because of the lack of some kind of chip on her credit card, the card will not go through.  Now the cosmos are conspiring against you, too. 

You and your cousin return to her house where you announce your intention to drink yourself blind. Your cousin offers you the use of her car to drive home.  She will be leaving on a month-long trip that week and won’t need it.  You marvel at her generosity only slightly suspecting that it may just be her desire to be rid of you.

Meanwhile, offers to transport your vehicle continue to flood your inbox.  You begin to question your relationship with Gary Busey.  Perhaps, in your initial panic, you were a little hasty in pledging your allegiance to the first guy who whistled up your skirt.  And let us not forget your long history of dalliances with inappropriate men. 

You troll the websites of other auto-shippers.  At first it’s just a flirtation. Then, sufficiently wooed by an impressive slideshow, you make the call.  Matt Damon answers the phone.  Clearly, he must be researching a role for his next movie.  He needs to run your information by his father to give you an immediate quote.  Yes.  "Immediate," he says in his dreamy, grammar-perfect voice.  His father owns the company.  You feel like Debra Winger in the final scene of “An Officer and A Gentleman.”  You make the deal and send Gary Busey a kiss-off text. 

The rain holds off the next day and you make it home safely.  Your car arrives from Northern California a mere five hours after you do exactly as promised.  A warm bath and you fall face-down into the bosom of your own bed to dreams of having Matt Damon’s child.

Forty-eight hours later the verdict is still out on your car. 

Happy New Year.

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