Saturday, December 14, 2013

Much Will Be Demanded

With all the media rhetoric and political opposition that has literally consumed Americans concerning the Affordable Care Act, it's time to step back and take a deep breath. And once you've exhaled, let's all look at this debacle using some good old common sense.

First, I think we'll all agree that Obama is a big picture guy regardless of whether you like the pictures he's painting. I know a lot of CEOs as well as folks in general who have made a lot of money due to their abilities in seeing a bigger picture. But these folks were all in the private sector and weren't relying on government to execute on details. And because our government attempted to execute on a private sector level, we all stand witness to one of the biggest train wrecks in U.S. history.

Details. It's where the devil lives in all projects and anyone will tell you that big ideas always fall short due to the details. And one of the details that no one seems to be talking about is the market itself so I will ask you good folks to put on your marketing hats for a moment and hear me out.

The Affordable Care Act was created for people that can't afford health care. That's straight forward and from a business perspective, that's the target market. These are people who struggle to make ends meet. They live paycheck to paycheck and may or may not have enough money to pay their bills each month. This population represents 15 to 20% of America and is growing daily due to the great divide between wealth and poverty as the middle class continues to shrink.

In theory, this sounds great. We create a health care plan for the uninsured where payments are evened out in hopes of balancing prices for both healthy and unhealthy people. And without any marketing research on how this population lives or pays their bills, a web site was built with the hope that 7 million people will sign up for the plan and make it sustainable.

So let's take a look at this population and try to define them. How does this market behave that we know damn good and well wasn't ever really evaluated with any kind of research other than the fact that they don't have health care. Surely we can all agree that little if any research was executed in light of such a
disastrous roll out. What I mean is they spent a lot of time baking the cake but bought really crappy paper plates and never found out if the market had a fork to eat it with.

I'll switch hats now for some perspective. Not to go into a great amount of detail as most of you already know I played blues music in the ghettos of south Dallas for years. I've traveled with band members, slept in their houses, rehearsed in their garages and ate at their tables. These are modest and humble people that struggle on a day to day basis. Focused on their grocery bill and the rent, budgets are extremely tight. They may have a day job while the music helps subsidize additional living expenses or the wife may work full time. Visits to the doctor are only on an as needed basis. And this as needed basis had to be pretty serious as I was called on numerous times as a taxi to Parkland due to the absence of a car.

As we evaluate this market, our government has created a system that requires the following.

1. You must apply using a web site. This means you must have a computer. Ok…let's say that all of these folks I know have a computer. Not all of them do but we'll say they do so we can move on to the next step.

2. You must have a credit card to pay the average $328 bill each month. They have a computer, in our imagination, so let's say they have a credit card as well. Not one of those debit cards you purchase at the grocery store but a real personal credit card.

3. This amount must be paid every month without fail for the program to work. That means each month that the credit card must work. Not declined and not maxed out.

It would be a stretch to think that I have any idea what it's like to live month to month even though I saw it first hand. But the elephant in the room is our own government has this market all figured out. It should be obvious that everyone  owns a computer, we all have credit cards and without a doubt, won't have any trouble making payments each month. Keep in mind that the most a lot of these folks can afford for rent is around $300 per month. A family of four may live in a one bed room apartment. They have no car and ride the bus. If they do have a car, it's used and they only put five or ten dollars of gas in it at a time. They have no bank account and live on cash. They eat fast food because it's all they can afford.  

But hey…paying $328 a month on your laptop with your own personal credit card is going to be a piece of cake.

This entire effort has about as much of a chance, if I can quote Merl Haggard, as a snowball headed for hell. But before we all stomp our feet and complain about our government, we all need to take a good hard look at ourselves. If you remember anything I've ever written on these rambling blogs, remember this my friends. Our job is to take care of the folks that need to be taken care of and if we don't do it, the government will step in and do it for us. I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, you will never convince me that the government has some duty in tending to the poor. That's your job. That's my job. That's our job.

Take heed this Christmas my brothers and sisters and remember your job. A job that was given to all who have much. I believe it was our good friend Luke who said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Crossroads

The other weekend, I played a gig in Fort Worth and was asked a question. This is a question I'm asked a lot but the answer is so long that I never quite give it the justice it deserves.

The question is simply, "Do you perform all the time and how come I've never heard of you?" Which I guess makes two questions really.

So here is my story as best I can tell it. It's long and definitely on the edge of insanity but hopefully it will settle the curiosity surrounding my musical career.

I grew up in New London, Texas which is a small East Texas town. Population of 942 people when I left and it hasn't changed all that much.

Musically, I was just like everyone else which is why most of my childhood friends had a hard time grasping my love for blues music. I was an eighties kid. Big hair rockers like Van Halen and AC/DC filled the speakers most of the time. My exposure to real music was somewhat limited due to my location but that all changed when I went to Mississippi to attend Ole Miss.

Ole Miss is another story all in itself but the short version is I never went to class. I got caught up with a senior who owned a t-shirt business and controlled pretty much all the fraternity and sorority shirts for any and all parties. A business he left to me due to my drawing abilities after my freshman year. I waisted no time in finding another vendor out of Dallas cutting out a middle man in Oxford and was pulling in a very sizable income every month in pure cash. This amount not including my allowance so throw that much money on a 19 year old kid with a very busy social calendar and there were no boundaries. I went and did pretty much as I pleased and none of it included class which would bring me back home the end of my sophomore year.

However, during those two years and all the road trips from Memphis to New Orleans, I fell in love with the blues.

When I came home, I began to practice the harmonica. I didn't have much else to do as I was attending Kilgore Junior College attempting to get my grades into shape in hopes of alleviating any laughter from Texas Christian University as they gazed upon my transcript.

For over a year and a half, I practiced that harmonica every day with a glass of scotch. Usually around two hours of practice which would earn me a spot in a Country and Western band in Gladewater on highway 80. It was the roughest joint you could imagine with a hole above the toilet in the bathroom put there by a shot gun blast. I played every Friday and Saturday night for twenty dollars a night. The beer for band members was fifty cents a bottle so the twenty dollars turned into ten dollars by the end of each night making for some interesting driving as I made my way home down highway 42.

I was finally accepted into TCU and the weekend before Dad and I were scheduled to look for apartments, our housekeeper heard me playing harmonica on the front porch. She told me I was getting pretty good and asked if I would like to follow her to Dallas the next weekend to a real blues club. I asked Dad and since we were headed that direction anyway, it sounded like a reasonable detour to make. And so we went.

Upon arriving at the original R.L. Griffin's Blues Alley in 1989, Dad and I realized we were the only white people in the joint. Dad whispered to me as low as he could, "If you don't play your ass off, we might not make it out of here alive."

We were met with stares as we slowly moved into the club and about half way through the night, I was brought up on stage as a young man from East Texas. Unbeknownst to me at the time, R.L. was from Kilgore and he was curious to see what a young white boy from East Texas might do on stage. Since we were with my housekeeper, Louise, I decided to sing the song "Louise" originally recorded by Howlin Wolf. And when I did, the whole club came undone. It was like nothing you had ever seen before as I was suddenly the long lost white boy that everyone was related to.

During my first year at TCU, I began to visit the club more frequently and R.L. and I became very close. I was his project so he would invite me in as much as he could which would lead me into acquiring my own band in 1990. The name of the band was the Little World Show Band and featured a keyboard player, bass, guitar, drums and female vocalist by the name of Lady Princess. This jaunt would go on for three years until it was cut short by one word…marriage.

I got married the same year I graduated from college which was in 1991 and that would mean leaving the juke joints behind and becoming serious about a real job. As most of you know, I'm also a designer and went into advertising as soon as I could find something permanent.

Music would take a back seat leaving me to play when my wife went out of town or sometimes I could talk her into letting me go down in the hood if it meant playing for friends. The nights were always long and coming home at three in the morning smelling like you've been rolling around in an ashtray wasn't real conducive to the married life.

These little visits to the guetto would continue until 2000 when Johnnie Taylor passed away leaving his band leader, Jack Williams, with very little to do. My wife had gone out of town with family and I found myself down at R.L.'s once again and having played with Jack a couple of times, he told me if I ever needed a twelve piece band to give him a call. He would be more than happy to back me up.

This offer ended up at the feet of my wife and her response was that as long as I played really nice events, it would be acceptable. No more blues clubs which was fine by me as I had never played with a band this size before and the thought alone surpassed any venue that we might get a chance playing. Full horn section. Back-up singers. I had to dive into old soul music just to prepare some sort of song list.

Within one year of playing with Jack, I landed a headline spot on the Texas Blues Festival as their featured artist. From there, I began to play really big social events in Dallas for five years until a group of friends along with a label approached me about producing an album. I had never done anything like this and the mere idea was very exciting.

We would soon hit the studio producing my very first and only album which would make all kinds of noise on XM Satellite radio hitting a number one pick to click. The album was being played all over the world as I received reviews from Paris, England, Germany and Italy.

That's when I got a call from a group in Dallas that wanted me to open for Al Green. He would have to approve of me first but I was their top pick for the opening act. I couldn't believe it as Al Green was huge on my playlist. Al would approve which blessed me with one of the most memorable evenings of my life. One that I will cherish forever.

Soon after Al, I received another phone call. This time, I was asked to fly around the world to headline the 2006 Broadbeach Blues Festival in Australia. A seventeen hour flight that almost killed me but I made it standing up only to stay in Australia for three days and then come back home to a weary wife and four kids.

The weary wife and four kids was a reality that an almost 40 year old man had to come to grips with. I was torn between two worlds. One of which seemed a bit more stable but it was hard to stand at those crossroads staring at a corporate world on one side and a world of music down the other.

And so the story goes…I hung up the music and went down the corporate road. Or as corporate as I'll let myself get anyway. A father and a husband first was the path I chose which left me with no regrets and a very full cake.

And the best part is the music is still the icing every now and then.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

May I Have a Pecan Log Please?

Each summer, we travel to Georgia to the beach with family. Enjoying a tradition from my wife's side of the family, we are all able to leave the real world behind and take in the sun and sand.

This year and in keeping with our tradition of walking each morning, something my wife and I try to do as it provides a small break from the kids, we headed out and up the street towards the beach.

It was really early this particular morning and my wife suggested we take a walk on the beach. We hit the sand and began walking as the sun rose slowly above the ocean and the gulls swarmed looking for their breakfast.

Within the distance, I saw what looked like a man sitting in a chair with his trusty dog by his side. As we got closer, I noticed he was much older and was smoking a cigar almost down to the nub so he must have been out there for a while. I told my wife that any man who would get out on the beach this early in the morning smoking a cigar had to be someone I should meet immediately.

We approached the man and while my wife paid attention to the dog, "Tyler, Texas" blurted out of the man's mouth and I was a little taken aback. He pointed at my shirt and I realized that I had worn a Stanley's Barbecue shirt on our walk which had Tyler, Texas on the front.

"I spent half my life in Tyler, Texas." said the old man. "You folks sure are odd about your liquor. When I was there back in the old days, you had to have a club membership for each place you wanted to get a drink. I'll bet I had a hundred memberships in my pocket at any given time."

As he pulled on the cigar, I asked, "What were you doing in Tyler?"

"I was in the construction business. I built Stuckey's up and down the interstate. Of course, that's when the interstates were all brand new so my job was to evaluate land and then build the buildings. I spent a lot of time in Tyler as it was in a good central location. And it was a nice town except the liquor thing."

In Tyler's defense, I quickly told him that we could now buy beer and wine in stores as the law just passed a few months ago. Not sure that this was much of a defense as he began to chuckle at my statement.

The wife glanced my way telling me it was time to get back to our walk. I stuck out my hand and said, "Well it was nice to meet you. My name is Edwin Holt."

"Well it was nice to meet you as well Edwin." said the old man. "My name is Bill Stuckey."

Walking away, I whispered to my wife, "No freakin' way."

This would begin the conversation down my childhood memory lane as Stuckey's was a big deal on any road trip with my mother. Pecan logs were like gold as well as all the other candy they offered.

Stuckey's began in Eastman, Georgia back in the 30's. Williamson S. Stuckey, Sr. had such a successful pecan harvest from his family's orchard that he offered a portion of his bounty for sale in a lean-to roadside shed. Florida-bound tourists traveling the two-lane Georgia 23 blacktop snapped up the flavorful pecans instantly, as gifts for friends and family and as succulent souvenirs of the agricultural south.

As the business continued to flourish, Mrs. Stuckey took to her kitchen and created a variety of homemade pecan candies. The rest, of course, is history.

In 1937, a new building went up in which candy became king. The crowning glory in a profusion of nut-based confections was the now-famous Pecan Log Roll in a size for every appetite and every budget. Restaurant service was added, other fancy foods were stocked, and a souvenir section was installed to cover every whim from rubber snakes to sea-shell ashtrays. Gasoline pumps were a logical addition - all of it tied together with the signature teal blue roof. Stuckey's had come to life, and a new era of roadside travel service was born.

Stuckey's are few and far between these days due to a corporate buy-out that happened back in the 70's. Now, with a Stuckey back at the helm and over 200 franchised locations on the interstate highways spanning 19 states from Pennsylvania to Florida in the east and to Arizona in the west, they're alive and thriving.

Peace out brothers and sisters. And remember, great brands are made from hard work and that great entrepreneurial spirit. Oh...and Pecan Logs!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

From The Sidelines of Common Sense

It's been an unusual couple of weeks considering all the emotions that seem to be swarming around the Zimmerman and Martin case. Emotions can be a dangerous thing and for the most part, I've stayed on the sidelines watching this disastrous media and now racial frenzy.

I think emotions and race relations aside, my opinion on the matter is a bit more cut and dry than the rest of America and has very little to do with justice but just good old common sense.

There are two topics I would like to cover on this piece and they are:

1. Fear

2. Guns

First let's discuss fear. There will be very few women that can relate to this story as most women I know haven't really been in a knock down drag out physical fight. I'm sure there are a few of you perhaps but I'm talking about a down home outside the bar fight that involved fists flying.

It was in a summer of my high school years when a young man approached me outside of a club and before I could get two words out of my mouth, he hit me twice in the jaw. (Yes there was a woman involved.) It happened so fast that the rest of the fight was more or less a blur and I have no recollection of movement, what I was doing or any sense of coordination. I do remember grabbing him by the head and hitting him underneath but this only lasted until a bouncer came running out of the club and broke us up. Fear, anger and adrenaline managed to take over my entire body leaving me with little control of my own actions. All I could do was hold on and try not to fall down. It damn sure wasn't like what you see in the movies. You know, where the guy is some sort of martial arts expert and within three moves the bad guy has a broken leg and a dislocated jaw. This is the kind of crap the entertainment world feeds us as if two guys are actually in control and fighting is some sort of glorified art form. It isn't.

In consideration of fear, which will bring up another point of this piece, I'll tell you another story that everyone can relate to. A few years ago, I was in a drugstore on the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Central picking up a birthday card for my wife. I was in the back of the store where all the greeting cards were when yelling broke out up front. Looking around the greeting cards, I saw a man yelling and screaming at the clerk. "I'll kill all of you! You'll do what I say!" He was obviously homeless and raging back and forth at the counter which put the fear of God in all of us in the store. We had no idea what to do and I felt absolutely helpless with nothing to defend myself with. Then all of a sudden I heard screaming and the air became so thick with a burning sensation that I could barely see and breathe. Unbeknownst to me, the clerk had let go of an entire can of pepper spray and even though I was at least 20 yards away, it was all I could do to get the hell out of there. I can't imagine what the homeless man was feeling as he took it straight in the face.

My take on all of this, the case, Zimmerman and the Martin boy is that both of them were out of control due to their own emotions. And emotions like fear, anger and a good shot of adrenaline are a deadly combination when a gun is involved.

Which brings up Mr. Zimmerman as we're all supposed to believe that it's perfectly acceptable for an untrained guy to carry around a firearm. It's the American way right? Now before you go beating me down as some liberal who's against guns, think again. What rubs me the wrong way is our society is perfectly fine with giving a guy who has no training the responsibility of keeping the peace with a gun. And that's just plain stupid.

Some of you reading this may know a cop or a soldier. These men and women are trained to handle guns and under large amounts of stress. All the while controlling their fear and emotions and even trained, it's not easy. They suffer from all kinds of emotional damage if by chance duty leads them into taking another human being's life so to say it's fine to arm up a civilian would beg the question, are you really prepared to take another man's life?

The moral of this story lies within my own experience in the drugstore which is simple and most importantly, it works. There are several ways to render a man helpless without killing him. Pepper spray, mace and my new favorite, the taser.

So before you plan on pretending to be Joe Badass with a handgun, ask yourself this question. Am I really ready to kill another human being? And if not, what other alternatives are there that would aid in taking a man down.

Problem solved brothers and sisters.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hans and Spätzle - The Shoe Spoon Novel

This particular blog post was something that started around five or six years ago. Back then, it was actually an email chain going back and forth between me and Julian Potter due to how funny we thought the image was that Wade Griffith, a photographer, had discovered. 

What started out as a few emails began to grow into a full length story written by me, Julian, David Brashier and David Allen, one of Dallas' finest creative directors.

I had forgotten all about it until I discovered it in some old files so here it is for your own reading pleasure.

The great thing about this piece is it's an open story so if you feel that you can add to the saga, please be my guest. I'll review your content and post it if I deem it worthy.

Enjoy the read...



Hans never made it to the front lines. Most days, he stayed in his very own bunker he dug using a shoe spoon in the back of his grandmother's yard. He was always good about keeping his legs clean shaven and wanted so much to meet all the other German soldiers.

His pet kitty, Mr. Whiskers, kept a close watch on him as Hans had been known to eat other small animals and Mr. Whiskers was in no mood to become a small meal. He spent his time atop the green helmet. A place he called home or as Hans liked to call it, "My Lookout Kitty."


Hans’ older brother, Spätzle was extremely jealous of Han's ability to dig with a shoe spoon.  Of course, Spatzle wasn’t his original name, but after their mother left, the boys’ dad (Arnulf) renamed his oldest after his favorite German delicacy.

Soon after, Arnulf disappeared.  Some say he went to live out his dream as captain of a shrimp boat…but most others feared a more notorious theory.

The boy’s grandmother took great care of the boys…she was a seemingly caring and kind person…but getting along in years…Her only rule was to NEVER enter the room on the third floor – she called it the “knitting room”

One day while both of the boys were playing in the bunker, Mr. Whiskers inexplicably left his helmet and ran into grandmother’s house…straight up to the third floor.

The boys ran after him, and despite grandmother’s warning, they entered the “knitting room”…what they saw when they opened the door…would change their lives…and perhaps the course of history…forever.


The room was littered in documents with swastikas and empty make-up containers. As Hans looked around the room, there were numerous pictures of Adolph Hitler and Nazi memorabilia. Rows of German uniforms hung from a free standing rack in the room next to a full length mirror. Next to the mirror was what appeared to be a makeup sitting table lined with bright white bulbs. An array of brushes and small black mustaches were lined neatly on the make-up table while pictures of Adolph Hitler were taped to the mirror.

Looking closely at the pictures, Hans gasped in shock as all the pictures of Adolph exposed a very hefty chest. Obviously a women's chest of generous proportions. The head of Adolph Hitler on a 70 year old woman's body? Hans shrunk to the floor in disbelief.

As he held his hands over his head hoping that he would awake from a terrible nightmare, Mr. Whiskers screamed as the door swung open.


It was Grandmother!  She had a furious look on her face…a grimace the boys had only seen once in their lives when she caught them trying to electrocute a frog with a car battery and her curling iron.

Grandmother, except for her generous sized chest, had always been a masculine looking woman…strong chin…excessive facial hair…larger than normal adam’s apple.  The boys were petrified with fear.  Poor Han’s actually wet his pants, which was not uncommon because of the strict diet of apple sauce and sour kraut that was demanded by his grandmother.  Spatzle however, was allowed to eat whatever he wanted…another point of contention between the boys.

Besides being frightened, the boys were confused.  Growing up they had heard a spectrum of stories about Hitler…he was considered a monster by some…and a hero by others. They also heard that Hitler’s supposed death in the bunker may have been a farce…this was the main inspiration for Han’s obsession with digging bunker’s in the back yard with a shoe spoon.

Spatzle garnered up the courage to ask a question of his grandmother, although he suspected she would not tell the truth…”Grandmamma – did you know Adolph Hitler?  Are you Adolph Hitler?”  Grandma simply answered “No”…but the tale-tale signs of her deceit were evident – the boys had learned this over the years…her left eyelid would become uncontrollably twittery…and she became extremely flatulent.

As the foul air overcame the room, Grandmother told the boys “NEVER EVER come back to this room…and NEVER NEVER EVER tell anyone about this.”

The boys agreed, and ran from the room…they felt guilty…but they knew what they had to do….


The boys' plan was simple in concept, but fraught with complications as to its execution. They had decided that their grandmother had to be exposed to the world as either the somewhat gender-confused Hitler impersonator that they feared, or, even more horrifying, an actual gender-transmuted Hitler. Either way, the road ahead was a treacherous one.

Choosing the right media outlet for this task was imperative. They considered Geraldo, but were concerned that he might not have the necessary credibility after the whole "Al Capone's Vault" fiasco. Fox news was also a possibility. But would a cross dressing Hitler really stand out among the Bill O'Reilly's and Sean Hannity's that graced their airwaves? Not to mention the prospect of their grandma/fuhrer being given her own 30 minute time slot on Fox. What about CNN? MTV? TMZ? There was a veritable alphabet soup of possibilities.

Once an agreement had been reached, they decided to act before they lost their nerve. Hans soaked a rag with ether, careful not to stain his lederhosen. With a trembling hand and a rumbling in the pit of his stomach, Spatzle picked up the telephone.


One ring. Two rings. Then, suddenly, a click of the receiver and a voice at the other end of the line that would chill every fiber of Spatzle’s being: “This is Harriet Goldfarb, how my I direct your call?”  Spatzle had meant to call the CIA, but in his haste had inexplicably dialed the JDL by mistake. Speechless, he  desperately groped for something, anything to say, until he blurted out the first thought that came to mind:

“Can you tell me where I might find a nice Pastrami on rye?”

The irony of the situation was not lost on Whiskers, who by now had overpowered the unsuspecting Hans, wresting the ether soaked cloth away from him. There was something about Whiskers that had always troubled the boys, something they couldn't quite put their finger on. There was the time their pet parakeet mysteriously disappeared. And other strange occurrences too: a bootleg mix of Cat Stevens inexplicably appearing on Hans's Wolkmon and an unsolicited VHS of Bye Bye Birdie arriving by parcel post with no return address. Unfortunately for the boys, they were never quite able to put zwei and zwei together.

As it turns out, Whiskers was no feline in the forest.  She had been around the litterbox a few times and when it came to counterintelligence, she was one Tidy Cat.


It wasn't like she'd intended to become a double-agent. Whiskers had started life with the intention of being a simple family pet in rural Kansas. Things had surely changed directions several times.

Her first "owner"--God, she hated that word--had been an eight year old girl, and they'd lived together on a farm in Hill City. Then she'd ended up living with a troupe of clowns, spending her nights sleeping in the glove box of their tiny car. After that, she'd moved to Pennsylvania, which is where she'd learned German and had been recruited as part of a network of couriers who could move around Europe without arousing suspicion.

That had been the life. One week, she would be living as the companion of a intermediate-end French prostitute. The next week, Whiskers would be on a train to Belgium, traveling with a salesman who dealt in clockwork marital aids. And then to Germany with the plastic surgeon pioneer who had perfected the first breast implant not made from wood. It had been he who had grafted the two tiny thumbs onto Whiskers' front paws.

The same front paws she was now using to hold the ether-soaked rag against Hans's nose and mouth. "Does this rag smell like ether to you?" she thought, smiling to herself at the joke as Hans lost consciousness and slumped to the floor.

All because of the invention of redial. If Spätzle had just dialed direct, instead of hitting redial on Whiskers's experimental Cat Phone, he wouldn't have known she'd been in touch with the JDL, and she wouldn't now be staring him down, trying to analyze his weaknesses and planning to kill him.

She didn't want him dead. They were on the same side, in fact. But, he'd possibly discovered her identity, and for that he must be silenced. She'd deal with the grandmother after she got the answer from the Home Office. First things first. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bound By Technology

Photo by Eli Chamberlin

Just the other day, I was reading an article about Stan Richards humbly attributing his success to the simple act of he and his staff getting to work on-time. I began to wonder about this statement as it pertains to the world we live in today and asked myself what does on-time really mean? Mr. Richards is referring to a very old school of thought where people clocked in and out each and every work day and enjoyed their own time as it was in the days of nine to five. Now that nine to five work day has never worked real well in the ad business so make that eight to whenever or even never going home in some instances when you're pitching an account or working some insane deadline.

As I began to ponder when my work day begins and ends, I was hit with the realization that it has exceeded any real boundaries. With my mobile phone helld (yes I meant to spell it that way) close to me at all times, I can't seem to get away from it. Texting, emailing, voice mail…the way we're all working and communicating seems endless.

There are some that will read this and think they unplug on their vacation. Really? I just saw all your pics on Facebook…have you really left the world behind?

I envy my father as he represents a generation that knew when and how to shut it all down. Throwing a bunch of guns or fishing rods in the back of that old green Pontiac, we would usually tail out on a Friday and come home late Saturday. No mobile communication which shames the now modern day me as I'm never without my mobile phone allowing it to interfere with my time and my family.

Think you're above the problem? Here are a few questions written by Daniel Sieberg who writes for the Washington Post which you may want to mull over.

1. Have you ever realized that you were texting or checking your email while your child was telling you about his or her day at school?

2. Have you ever felt that something hasn't really happened until you post it on Facebook?

3. Does a flashing red light or alert sound on your mobile device make your heart flutter?

4. Are you spending time with your spouse or significant other without talking to each other because you're each immersed in a different device?

If you answered yes to at least a couple of these questions, you're among the millions of Americans being overrun by technology.

Time acts differently as I've become older. I remember school seemed like it would never end and months seemed to drag on endlessly which is certainly not the case these days. Ten years ago feels like last week as I squeeze pants around an ever expanding waist line and struggle to focus on really tiny type. I'm almost in a state of shock with each school event I attend watching all of my boys slowly become young men.

As we all check our mobile devises and read endless emails, perhaps we should all wonder if Stan Richards had it right all along. His success may truly be attributed to getting to work on-time. And that time which is considered to be work time is exactly that. Which would mean that time spent away from work is not work at all but a blessing.

The blessing of time given to each one of us to unplug and enjoy.

Monday, January 7, 2013


It's been quite a while since I posted a piece. Fortunately, this is due to the amount of work that's been piling up as a glimmer of hope seems to shine underneath all the doom and gloom that has been casting such an atramentous shadow over our world.

And with all this work flowing into the firm these days, we decided it was about time to upgrade the computers which translated into long migrations, purchasing of new software and a lot of curse words.

While transferring files last week, I began the tedious effort of moving all of my music. A collection that has been underway since my twenties when CDs were invented. A product that made the purists cringe but gave way to the now digital age of music. Music transferred and listened to with the ease of a button.

If you are around my age, you have witnessed the greatest evolution in music that has ever taken place in our history. I don't think we as a society fully appreciate just how far it's come as we get so wrapped up within our own world, we lose site with where we were and how far we have taken this technology.

I can remember a night dad and I were watching television and a K-Tel advertisement came on promoting a new album. Rock Power featuring Stepping Wolf, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and various other artists. It was indeed a power house of rock so we had to order it. I must have been around seven or eight years old and the anticipation of that thing coming in the mail was more than I could bare. We had both been punished with mom's albums of the Carpenters so anything aside from that or B.J. Thomas's Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head would be a welcome rebellious volume cranker.

High school would follow with cassette tapes. Now you could fast forward to your favorite song if you had the right kind of stereo in your car. A simple mechanism that would read the breaks between songs and stop before each number. No more clunky eight track players that were a crap shoot just finding what you wanted to hear.

I was in my college sophomore year when the CD came out. We couldn't buy them fast enough and the music companies couldn't remaster originals to keep up with demand. There was enormous paranoia with owning a CD player as we had all heard that the laser could blind you if the lid wasn't shut. A bunch of eighties kids being pushed into the future amazed at the shiny disks that held so much music. It was truly an amazing time for all of us who loved music.

And then it all went to hell in a hand basket with the computer, the internet and free music downloads.

As I transferred thousands of songs that have bounced from one computer to the next, I began to wonder where all the fun went. Where was that time when dad and I sat on the couch and ordered the soundtrack that would drive us down the road in his green Pontiac with the windows rolled down and seat belts buried out of sight without a care in the world. In fact, I was having trouble remembering the last time I actually bought a new album. I asked my wife if she had purchased a song or album recently and she couldn't remember either. This of course aroused my curiosity and the sociology bug began to bite raising the question if there were other folks like us.

Turns out…there are. And it's slowly killing the music industry.

According to a CNN article, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

That's a big decline and those dollars represent a lot of hands within the world of music. Artists, musicians, producers, engineers, distributors and of course when was the last time you saw a record store? The article goes on to say it's due to the economy or free downloads but I think they are missing the mark. I think what's killing the music industry is the simple convenience of the internet itself. And you can define that as free downloads if you want but the fact is even as I type this blog, I'm listening to a station that I created myself that fits around my own tastes. A playlist that's tailored to fit around what I enjoy so why in the world would I want to buy anything? What's the point of that?

This is such a change from the old regular radio stations that either stuck to a commercial playlist or certain style of music that surrounds a target market. Not to mention the ownership of music with huge record albums that needed to be felt cleaned and dust tree, the eight track tapes that all had wrinkled labels due to a bleaching sun or a cassette tape that was recently eaten by an Alpine stereo that you picked out for the Trans-Am. 

And finally the CD that became so scratched it released a sort of du du du du du du du du du sound which you kept trying to clean with rubbing alcohol.

Is it good change? I can tell you the change doesn't sit well with the music industry but as a listener of music, I love what I'm able to do with the ease of a button. However, as a lover of music I miss the anticipation surrounding the release of a new album or song by one of my favorite artists. I miss times like the ones spent with my father ordering a K-Tel eight track tape loaded with legends of rock and roll.

I miss the Anticipation...

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway,
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'

–Carly Simon