Inspired by Lory…

I tip my hat to her Fan Highlights post for inspiration.

Looking back at 2010, really…it’s strange. I look back and I realize that a lot has happened. A lot more than I thought! And the highlights of my year (most of which I chronicled, really…) were:

- Working on the CD design work. Definitely my first long-term project experience, and a definite start to what is now my independent business. I was just helping out at first, and then one conversation led to another, which led to “okay, let me try the layout”, which in turn led to, “hey, I am good at this!” It was a frenetic month of lost sleep, but an experience of a lifetime.

- Berks 2010. I wanted to hit Berks for years, and finally had the chance. And, aside from this being my first Long Drive (I do not own a vehicle, and having my driver’s license was only to keep my permit from expiring!), this was the first time I’ve been in a festival like this. The auditoriums were packed to the gills. It was an excellent reunion/meetup for me; I’ve met so many great people at that festival…

- Dave Brubeck at the Blue Note. It’s a must-experience for every jazz fan. Really. There’s something very magical about seeing him play.

- CapJazz Supercruise 2010. This brought back a serious surge of nostalgia for the All Star/Smooth Music Cruise 2009, and it was also a great New Music opportunity. And a great way to see music, truthfully…with a heaping side dish of tropics!

- Meeting Rhonda and Rachel in NYC during Spirit season.

- Meeting Ken and Dave Koz in Atlantic City.

- Finally getting up the guts and making the decision to start K.G. Creative Enterprises. After the first point on this bullet list, it was inevitable. I had a lot of doubts about getting things together and not giving up one facet or another of my creativity. The business was important to me then, and considering the sort of work I’ve done so far, it’s been more than worthwhile, regardless of how much or how little I made. Money will follow, but I love what I do.

Now, what shall 2011 have for me? :)

K.G.

Bobby Caldwell at B.B. King’s

I guess you wonder where I’ve been
I searched to find the love within
I came back to let you know
Got a thing for you
And I can’t let go…

- Bobby Caldwell

It seems that my old dilemma of last year’s December 4th had come to revisit me early – tonight! And that dilemma was, which show to attend on a Saturday night? My buddy Dennis informed me that Bob Baldwin was performing upstate in White Plains. The illustrious Matt Marshak was with Marcus Anderson tearing it up in the Bronx. And Bobby Caldwell was at B.B. King’s. Decisions, decisions, and since I cannot replicate myself, I can’t be in three places at once.

Of course, Bobby Caldwell won.

Now, I’ve seen him once before, at the Blue Note, and that was my first time seeing Bobby. Now, this time – in a bigger venue, and with somewhat more decent weather…okay, that’s debatable – I took a lot more notice of the showmanship. And really, Bobby shines. You take a look at him and think that hey, this guy doesn’t look like much, but there’s that little glimmer of brilliant composer in his eye somewhere. Then he grabs the mic and it’s obvious – he loves his music now just as much as he did when he recorded it the first time.You see it in crystal clarity; the man loves the music, and he’s sharing both with the audience.

Now, behind every soloist, as you well know and expect, there has to be a fantastic band, and Bobby picked out some fantastic stagemates. Brian Dunne on drums, whom routinely backs up Chuck Loeb and his daughter Lizzy. Gil Parris, a guitar wizard whom I hadn’t seen since the ye olde Cutting Room – and what a lovely surprise to have heard his riffs tonight. And, of course, Andrew Neu on the saxes, two altos and one tenor.

All considering, Bobby had written a lot of great songs for others. Janet is a classic, and of course, my very favorite, is What You Won’t Do For Love, which I have heard many covers of. Still – you know, covers. There’s a completely different effect when you hear it by the original mastermind, and hearing Bobby sing it is an instant smile. Initially released in 1978, it was an instant hit, and its melody is immediately recognizable, and when I heard it today, I just closed my eyes and reveled in the feel of it a little. It makes one feel like the clock is turned back, and the first thought upon hearing the chorus is, “You just don’t hear this sort of music much anymore.”

But I must add this: Andrew Neu stole the show tonight.

I’ll say what everyone at Berks can attest to: Andrew is a fantastic and very well-skilled sax player. I first saw him in the jam session at last year’s Berks, and saw that he has a definite success combination: steady tone, good cadence, overall well-balanced sound. But there’s a jam session and there’s the Bobby Caldwell solo. Dave Koz, Richard Elliott, and Boney James all played with Bobby, and all have gone on to make stellar solo careers. Now, tonight, I heard a little something different with Andrew when he took his solo on one of the altos. In fact, it was something that very distinctly reminded me of Dave Koz; the horn suddenly became very expressive. Where only a few minutes ago Andrew was backing Bobby Caldwell with well-timed licks, in the solo was something else; a little crescendo push that makes you look up from the drink du jour and listen a little closer.

When Bobby came out on stage, he sat down, gave Andrew a look and said, “I asked you to tell a story!” Andrew shrugged. Bobby: “Not your life story!”

To which I can only say… Bobby, if you had Boney James in your lineup, I would think you got used to saxophone storytelling by now.

The finishing touch was Where Is Love and it only then struck me just how full the venue was. For those of you who hadn’t come to NYC yet, B.B. King’s is pretty big as far as clubs are concerned. A great, dark-wood expanse with a dance floor and excellent acoustics, and once in a good while, it gets packed to the gills. And tonight was such a night; the applause was thunderous.

In all, a great night, and if only I could replicate myself, you guys would have some more writeups.:)

K.G.

Flash fiction time!!

Yet another challenge out of the Absolute Write community, and one that’s a little bit unusual.

You guys know my genre of writing: urban fantasy, jazz reviews, streams of consciousness. Well, the lovely people of AW have given me an assignment: horror or YA.

I’m combining the two, in a sense.

Placed behind a cut, and a disclaimer: graphic imagery, violence. So tread lightly.

—————

Continue reading

My insomnia is back. Again.

It’s a different kind this time. Ordinarily, I look forward to it, because it usually means that I pour the energy into writing, getting creative, and generally being all-around productive. But the more stressed I get – especially around this time known as tax season – the less I look forward to nighttime, because it means one thing: I will not get any semblance of rest.

But the to-do list remains. I will definitely work on the pitch for ABNA. Submissions are open, and I’m in there. One way or another.

K.G.

This is my last short day before tax season takes me in earnest, so my updating will be severely curtailed until further notice.

But I can bring you some news.

1. Book 3 is 10 chapters edited and in progress for rewrites.

2. Two awesome spur-of-the-moment designs coming up. Prototype of one of them is already on Facebook, so mosey over and check it out.

3. I am not sure yet, but I may see California sooner than I think.

Details, of course, forthcoming.

So is a bit of frothing at the mouth about healthcare, but that is another thing.

K.G.

*headdesk*

So, the FDA is rolling out an anti-obesity drug. Which got denied, but the mere proposal of it made my blood boil.

Take a close look at the article and note the ingredients: phentermine and topiramate. Now, I know phentermine is an effective weight-loss drug, but combining it with what’s basically Topamax is a very fucking bad idea.

Per drugs.com, topiramate is a seizure medication, which is sometimes used to treat migraines in adults. The reason that it makes for a great addition here is because it’s an appetite suppressant. While that’s so, it doesn’t take away the fact that this will, invariably, be altering the way that a person’s brain functions.

Also, who remembers the Fen-Phen lawsuits? And that the drug was known to cause pulmonary hypertension? Phentermine is a stimulant and appetite suppressant as well, already marketed as an anti-obesity drug, and it’s an ingredient in this mix as well. It’s also of a composition similar to amphetamine. In fact, it’s a controlled Schedule IV Substance.

Now, think about it. I’m not a pharmacist, but I do have this thing called logic. So, in this exercise, we’re taking a drug that is commonly used to treat migraines and seizures, which by reason of logic, will temporarily alter the way that the brain functions, and using it in order to tank appetite. We’re then adding an amphetamine-style stimulant.

Does anyone else see a recipe for disaster?

I certainly do. If Fen-Phen caused abnormal valve findings in addition to pulmonary hypertension when combined with fenfluramine, I don’t see good things coming out of this combination. You already have something that alters brain function, temporarily (long enough to relieve a headache? Or control small seizures?), and then you’re adding an amph-style drug into the mix. Bad? YES.

Amazing. To risk people’s lives because of a perceived epidemic which isn’t an epidemic at all. Lovely. How long before the lawsuits for this one begin?

To quote the illustrious folks at Merriam-Webster:

Definition of EPIDEMIC

1: affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time <typhoid was epidemic>
2:
a : excessively prevalent
b : contagious <epidemic laughter>
3: characterized by very widespread growth or extent : of, relating to, or constituting an epidemic <the practice had reached epidemic proportions>
I won’t deny that it has been more noticeable than before – fact is, there are people of all sizes everywhere, and have been for ages – obesity is not contagious, for fuck’s sake. Last time I checked, you don’t catch fat. Also, all considered, fat is hardly an indication of ill health, on the account that a big person is just as likely to eat well and exercise as their skinnier counterpart. All fat is not created equal, and this idea that it’s some unbelievably scary, run-for-your-life horrible thing is absolutely ludicrous. You won’t get fat just because you’re standing next to someone who is. But if they have the rabid flu that’s been going around lately, well…better stock up on that NyQuil, poindexter.
Also, there’s this minor factor that fast food is and always has been cheaper than healthier food, but now’s hardly the time to meander onto that subject. Done it before.
K.G.

What’s Coming Up Next

I glanced at the calendar again as I was writing the previous post, and it hit me that this is the last week that I’m on a modified schedule for the Day Job (short Fridays). Which is an indication that my life is about to become very, very hectic indeed.

If you didn’t know this before, my day job is admin at an accounting firm. Tax Season 2011 is, quite technically, underway already.

If you think, however, that this means that K.G. Creative Enterprises is on hiatus until April 15th, this is your official No Way In Hell! statement. I’ve seen a lot of business come forth to KGCE in just the past three months alone, and although I did not make as much in profit, I have established an amazing clientele, and built up a stellar portfolio. Although my day job will, without question, keep me busier than I can stand, I should like to continue working on graphic design every bit as much as I did pre-season, for the simple reason that being creative really takes the edge off from the day job.

So, on my Project List

- Something very cool for Midtown Groove, which is approaching completion.

- Oasis Contemporary Jazz Awards work

- The Index, Book 2 for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards

- The Index, Book 3 for completion and publication…and wait until you see the cover art for this book. It’s a step away from the character portraits that I’ve done for Books 1 and 2, and it features a very multitalented guest artist alongside Jenna. I will not say whom…not yet. And those of you who do know, kindly keep mum for a while.

Unfortunately, upon re-analysis of my budget yet again, I’m forced to cancel the trip to Philadelphia that I was planning on. Gerald Veasley at Warmdaddy’s was a very, very tempting musical treat in this cold weather, but I’m budgeted so tightly right now that I can’t swing even the couple of hundreds that this trip would cost. There is a reason for that, and that is to pay down/pay off the debt that I have accrued so far, so that I can travel with a semi-clean slate and not fear for my credit score. The one thing that I will forever remain grateful for in my day job, it is the intricate knowledge of personal finances: I would not be ordinarily capable of affording what I have managed so far without that know-how.

I am sure that I will be able to manage, and I look forward to that management paying off in its own due time.

So, what’s coming up next is, simply, lots and lots of work. Distractions, of course, are welcome, and so is additional creative meandering.
Bring it on, says I.

K.G.

The Dream, Revisited.

Click here for the video and full transcript of the famous “I have a dream” speech.

When this iconic speech was made, it was not safe to be a black individual living below the Mason-Dixon line. I will not begin to list the injustices and horrors that black people of that time had faced, and I am sure that you can find a survivor of those times somewhere who will speak of that time not without a certain hint of bitterness and anger in their voices, and rightly so. You needed only to look to Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit for just one example of what had been faced by them. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle alluded to the injustice in The Five Orange Pips, where Sherlock Holmes sent a letter to arrest the captain of a ship once he figured out that said captain was a KKK member.

Since the speech, since Rosa Parks, since Dr. King’s subsequent assassination, Americans would like to think that the climate had changed. Eased a fair bit, perhaps. We did move closer to equality, right? After all, you don’t see racial discrimination as much anymore, right?

Wrong.

It took us electing a black president to see exactly how racism and racial discrimination is alive and well. I still recall seeing testimonies online of how people stood by Obama’s principles, but refused to vote of him because he was black. The emergence of “birthers”, people who don’t believe Obama is a born citizen of the US because he was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan immigrant father, or has a questionable middle name, is something unprecedented. I don’t recall a similar brouhaha being raised about any other president in the whole of US History. I severely doubt that it would be even a question, had Barack Obama been born white.

It took us the emergence of the Tea Party, who have successfully pushed a school district into re-segregation – think about that for a moment – to see exactly how discrimination is alive and well.

It takes us the countless incidents of violence against women, against homosexuals, whether male or female, murders of transgender individuals, to see that America, in reality, didn’t change very much from the America of 1960s. Excepting the technological advances, the only shift in social climate is that there’s always a group for people to hate. In Dr. King’s time, it was anyone nonwhite. In our time, it’s liberals, women, and the LGBT community.

It makes one wonder what Dr. King would say, had he been alive today to see what America had turned into.

What would he say if he found out that if a group screams into the media machine loudly enough, they can undo fifty years of history and go right in the face of Brown v. Board of Education?

What would he say if he knew that a young woman who is in graduate school has to dogfight to have herself and her studies taken seriously if she’s in a male-dominated field like physics, technology, mathematics, and dodge sexual harassment while wanting nothing more than to make a future for herself?

What would he say if he knew that if a young man fell in love with another young man, and by being together, they both risked their own death at the hands of homophobes who disagree with the “morality” of their personal lives?

What would he say if he knew that violence against women is something very tacitly tolerated, and that a woman can and will be arrested for fighting back in order to save herself?

What would he say if he knew that, everywhere across the United States, people were dying because they literally cannot afford their healthcare, and that there was a vested political interest in continuing to deny them access to the basics?

What would he say if he knew that every young college graduate was entering the workforce with a mountain of debt on their shoulders, without there being enough jobs to go around, simply because colleges and banks decided that profit overrode education?

What would Dr. King say if he knew these things about what America had become?

Maybe it’s just my theory, but I would imagine that he would be outright disgusted, and rightly so.

Injustice isn’t dead. It simply shifted focus away from the injustice that Dr. King had known, and developed a new, broader focus and targets a lot more more people.

Dr. King’s dream is still alive. It has been re-adapted to fit this new, modern injustice, but it lives. Those of us who fight to be taken seriously, for no reason other than we are who we are, know what Dr. King’s dream is, save that with passing time, we have adopted it for our own.

We have a dream, not just today but every day, of living in a society where there is no need to discriminate on any basis. It’s still a work in progress, and it’s a work we do every day.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

K.G.