Friday, July 1, 2016

She's a Beauty, One in a Million.

I bought my R90/6 in April of 1993, it was my birthday and after a bit of a false start (not a crash or anything just a literal bad starter) I was able to ride it home from Marin County to my apartment just south of San Francisco. This meant crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a glorious spring evening. I was literally howling at the moon and was even able to get the toll taker to let me pass free because it was my birthday and I had this beautiful motorbike. And so it goes, flash forward all these years and the many many bikes in between, but this love affair that has followed me around the country California to Denver back to the bay area and then, alas, to New Jersey where the bike has sat now for ten or twelve years. I originally parked it because it started to run rough and at an advanced idle. After exhausting my first aid skills I took it to a professional who told me that is was likely the woodruff key had worn out and needed to be replaced. I have no idea the veracity of this claim, but I have been dragging the dead carcass around for years. AND NOW YATATA DA!! I get to start the process of taking her apart nut from bolt and refreshing and or replacing everything that I can and like Frankenstein resurrecting the old girl. Pictures are to come, but here she is being brought to my new workshop in Branchburg NJ

and this just for fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gerry Mac's Custom Crafted GuiTardis, The Tardis Guitar

It has been a busy summer.

But here is one for all you Dr Who fans out there anxiously awaiting the upcoming season, here is something we hope you’ll really like. Introducing GuiTardistm a concept from me and guitar master builder Gerry McGuckin. This custom made affair was produced for Steve, professional player, fanboy, and soon to be brother in law.

Whovian Guitardis is a one of a kind work of Art
The original handmade GuiTardistm at Pandorica in Beacon NY

custom made Dr Who Tardis Guitar
Custom Guitar Maker Gerry McGuckin.
The GuiTardistm  is extremely playable for a professional and is not much heavier than a Stratocaster. I know many Whovians that will drool over this work of functional art. There are a few “Doctors” and former “Doctors” that should probably have one in their collections, I think specifically of Peter Capaldi who cut his teeth in the 80s playing punk rock guitar with Craig Ferguson in a band called The Dreamboys. So yeah, he needs one, and I understand David Tennant plays guitar as well. Custom orders can be made by contacting Gerry 845.926.0471 or me m8qlaff .

"Oh, It's smaller on the outside."

And OMG, look at this place! A relatively new Whovian mecca in Beacon NY, this CafĂ©/ Bistro is kitted out in complete Dr Who style from its “smaller on the outside” bathroom to the Ood who greets you at the door. Pandorica is certainly worth a pilgrimage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Creativity in Marketing.

It is finally here, the 3rd installment in our conversation on marketing in the digital age. I started with the postulate that the internet, for all its flash and sizzle, is really not new in terms of communication, but it is faster and smarter.  But we come to learn Social Media or content driven marketing requires adaptation and perhaps an evolution from consumers as well as business and advertisers.
Feel free to watch that one: Thoughts on Evolution

In the follow up we defined agility and examined the necessity of paying attention and being willing to respond quickly, even if it means making a mistake. As in the famous "You can still dunk in the dark." Tweet from Oreo.

A Tweet from a brilliant Content Marketing Pro
during the blackout at the New Orleans Superbowl

Go ahead and watch that one again, you know you want too. Agility in the Digital Age

In this 3rd installment I explore the possibility of creating something from nothing. Building up a business from just an idea is easier that ever, or is it? It requires vision, creativity and a lot of hard work, so no I guess it is not any easier than it ever was, just "maybe faster and smarter",

I do hope you enjoy these and keep looking out, because more are coming.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Great Reissue at a Great Time

So we started a fairly comprehensive list of books for my Daughter in college and most of these would make for some fabulous summer reading for anyone who missed any of the classics the first time.

Something to add to that list is the re-release of Adrift in the Vanishing City a novel by the award winning author Vincent Czyz, who also contributed to the reading list by the way. It got some great press the first time around and I think it deserves more this time.

Like this, which came from Matt Badura, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Spring 2000
Adrift in a Vanishing City by Vincent Czyz is a collection of 9 interconnected fictions constellated around the love story between Zirque Granges and Rae Anne Kelly. Zirque—a world-hungry cavalier raging against Thanatos—is “trapped being who he is for eternity, tired of being Zirque, distracting himself from himself with a change of scenery.” Zirque’s restless nature impels to continent—and bed—hop, while the love-locked Rae Anne recedes into the depths and learns to “live through the never-knowing of her man.” Within this basic yet inexhaustible framework, Czyz composes an Orphean song of desire and longing that explores the tenuous nature of human intersection and memory with a tenderness rare in experimental fiction. 
Enhancing the pleasures produced by Adrift’s multiple narratives, Czyz’s primary accomplishment stems from the quality of his language. Indeed, Adrift is a book that rewards multiple readings and demands to be quoted, as the multilayered construction of Czyz's prose enables Adrift to speak toward those depths of mind and memory that tend to elude language. In this sense Adrift is ostensibly a work of prose poetry. As Czyz says, “This is the land of the guttural tongue, the great dead stone cities, the legend that has begun to lift itself out of the ruins, like those surreal paintings in which the images are raising themselves off the canvas, emerging from flat two-dimensional art into the four- or five- or 22-dimensional actuality we cannot keep track of anymore.”

Throughout Adrift in a Vanishing City, the city is a metaphor for memory—human and mythic—and its unspeakable reaches. Readers should rejoice that Czyz has explored this city and has returned from the underworld with a song to recover the vanishing dimensions of ourselves."            

And from Capper Nichols

Certain books require a patient reader, one with the ability to concentrate closely and intently. Sentences are not straightforward or transparent, but long and labyrinthine, like intriguing yet shadowy dreams. The writing, more like poetry than prose, calls attention to language, to the fullness of a word, a sentence, with the purpose of expressing inexpressible emotions and experiences. Think of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury or, more recently, William Vollmann's Fathers and Crows.
In such works, plot is secondary to language, image and character. What happens in the story is less interesting than how the writer writes the fictive world and its residents into our consciousness. And what we come away with after reading is mood and idea more than a narrative.
Vincent Czyz's (pronounced "Chez") Adrift in a Vanishing City is just this sort of work: lyrical and pensive, an odd and often beautiful portrait of longing. Many sentences and paragraphs need to be read more than once, sometimes for meaning, sometimes for the striking words and images. Czyz's feverish style can get tiresome, but more often his sensuous writing is a pleasure:
Leanin against the fender of my car ... Blue Jean would work so hard on gettin that malt thick as it was through the straw she'd forget me ... she looked so happy, the cold sweet malted slush in her cup all it took, a warm kiss against cold lips, her tongue cold too...
Neither a novel nor short story collection, Adrift falls somewhere in between. Or somewhere else entirely on the genre map. The nine stories (or chapters or sections or...?) share characters and settings, but there's no narrative progression in the conventional sense. The characters do stuff, talk, ruminate, do more stuff.
The main character is Zirque Granges, a man who can't stay put in one place for long, but who always comes back to Pittsburg, Kansas, and his long-suffering girlfriend, Blue Jean. Blue Jean teaches kindergarten and hangs out with the Duke of Palluca, a "famous walker," and with Pap, a drunk with a clubfoot and harelip. When Zirque blows into town they all hang out together. The point of view shifts among the characters from section to section, giving each a shot at telling what they see and think and feel.
Some of book follows Zirque on his wanderings, to Mexico City, Budapest, and to Paris, where he hooks up with his other (though less important) girlfriend, Veronique, the bad girl to Blue Jean's good.
Each of the characters is dissatisfied, longing for something, someone. But there's no sense that anyone can or will or expects to get what they want, except maybe for brief moments. The mood of the work is melancholy but not forlorn. The characters are adrift in memory and in anticipation, yearning for what (supposedly) was and for what could be. "It's always that way," Zirque says. "In a pocket fulla crumpled, unanswered (or once-answered) desires, we keep a photo of what it is we want (again maybe) and hold it up to everything we get. Time after time there's a shakin’ a the head, a return a the photo."

Our desires, how we want and what we want, are never simple. Adrift shows just how intricate and troubling desire and memory are. What makes Czyz's book so satisfying is that he accomplishes that end not just through the depiction of his characters' inner lives, but with a strange language that is hauntingly appropriate.

I look forward to getting my copy and you should too.
And of course check back for the reading list in it's editable spreadsheet soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Speaking of High School Book Reports.

We started a conversation about books and required/ assigned reading.  I will glean the short list and I hope to keep it going with new additions in the comments of this blog.

 As many of you may know, my daughter has skipped out on the last two years of High School in order to attend college. I am very proud and her first semester is going great. However, I come to think that maybe there are some valuable reading assignment that she may miss out on. So I put this out there.
What books from High School where most helpful to you in life? A reading list for a young autodidact. I especially want to hear from the High School English teacher out there, what say you Jonathan Schwartz

  • Alan Blaustein, my brother and published historian, says  "'Autobiography of Malcolm X' as told to Alex Haley. If I were going to assign only one book on the Civil Rights Movement in America that would be it."
  • Stephanie Spino Wright Honestly, my favorite books in High School were (in no particular order) The Three Musketeers, The Great Gatsby, and Cyrano de Bergerac. As far as books that help me in life now, I like Tim Ferris' books.

  • Gerry Mac Yes, I REALLY like that book, and Jonathonn Livingston as well, but the movie of THAT is spectacular!
  • Wynn A Shafer Any book by Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment to begin with.

  • Gerry Mac Brother's Karamazov- torture!
  • Michael Blaustein What prompted this is that I am reading a book of Letters written by Vonnegut and I thought of course of Slaughterhouse 5 but so many of his great works. Also I found out this little tid bit. Vonnegut taught at the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1966- 67 among his students...John Irving who knew and yes Gerry Mac Setting Free the Bears is one of my favorite books, but I completely forgot about Illusions, indeed.
  • Liz Pasha Hold on.... you mean the daughter with whom I share a birthday is in COLLEGE???
  • Gerry Mac Bokkononists rule! Cat's Cradle! How could I forget THAT one! Je t'adore!
  • Michael Blaustein Yes Liz Pasha at 16 she dropped out of high school and now attends Bard College at Simon's Rock

    Bard College at Simon's Rock: The Early College is the...
  • Wynn A Shafer Also, Animal Farm.
  • Michael Blaustein Desiree Mae the librarian, post something here not just useless thumbs up.
  • Desiree Mae Honest... because I am probably dyslexic or ADD or something that prevented me from being able to focus on reading in High School. The only book that I read in High School was "No one here gets out alive." Jim Morrison's Biography. Oh... I also read "Less then Zero" somewhere in there. Helpful? weeellllll.... no. I didn't start reading for enjoyment until years after I met you.
  • David Potter A Clockwork Orange (with the original last chapter that Anthony Burgess's American publisher wouldn't print) was one of my favorites when I was 17, but all of the classic dystopias are great -- 1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm -- all of them I read at that age. And Sam has loved everything by John Green, especially Looking for Alaska. --Jenn.
  • Glenn The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, R. Heinlein; Swarming: the Future of Warfare, RAND corporation; Pattern Recognition, W. Gibson; Outliers; Malcolm Gladwell; Steal This Book, Abby Hoffman; The Rise of the Royal Prerogative; anything by Dr. Helen Caldecott or Rachel Carson; Winning Modern Wars by Wesly Clark; China Inc.; The Wedge; ...
  • Benjamin Carlson Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Dune. I bought her copies of both but damned if shed do anything I told her to do. :You try telling her.
  • Dan Cassidy Wow, that's the coolest! Is that school affiliated with Bard in NY? Does she, like, live on campus and the whole bit? Extraordinary!
    Here's my list: Stranger in a Strange Land (glad to see another Heinlein mention!), God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (and t
    ...See More
  • Michael Blaustein Yes Dan Cassidy It is Bard College and she does live on campus. Thanks for the input.
  • Dan Cassidy Amazing! You must be awfully proud. You're welcome!
  • David Potter Machiavelli, The Prince; Marx & Engles, The Communist Manifesto; Heller, Catch 22; Abbott, Flatland; Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land. - David Potter
  • Glenn The Heinlein Juveniles as well, so much more fun to read them when young and then again later with the perspective of age... Rocket Ship Galileo; Red Planet (of which Stranger in a Strange Land "is a sequel"; Space Cadet; Have Space Suit -- Will Travel and Citizen of the Galaxy -- each of those books has something worth learning hidden in the story).
  • Michael Blaustein Wow these are great! I want to hear from the English teacher and the author, where are you Jonathan Schwartz and Vincent Czyz ?
  • Gerry Mac Yes, Stranger In A Strange Land had a HUGE impact on me and Flatland is just..well,. a really COOL perspective on math
  • Vincent Czyz The Things They Carried is disturbing but powerful. Les Miserables (if she can get through it), and I enjoyed Moby-Dick in high school ... though I read it again and enjoyed it more in college because of course I understood much more.
  • Michael Blaustein HA Les Miserables not only has she gotten through it (multiple times) but she has played Cosette and can hit the F over high C but that's a different story. Thanks, these are great suggestions .
  • Vincent Czyz It made a real impression on me ... the depictions of poverty in particular.
  • Karen Evangelista Self-Reliance by RWE, Atlas Shrugged, Fahrenheit 451...
  • Jonathan Schwartz that's 'reading assignments' don't end a sentence in a preposition 'miss out on.'
  •  I taught...and this is from memory off the top of my head...catcher in the rye....the great Gatsby...great expectations (yuck)...lord of the for Algernon....huck finn...the heart of darkness...excerpts from walden...into the wild (ehhh)....the pearl (ninth grade)... tell me about the rabbits George, uh...of mice and men ( I think I taught that one)...the giver (you could live without it)...animal farm...
  • personally, I like ...ask the dust ( John Fante)...anything by Faulkner ( I know. I'm weird )...o pioneers ( Willa cather)... anything by Zora Neale Hurston...anything by Renaldo Arenas...that's all that comes to mind
  •  thanks, mikey, for this... it felt good to be positive about being a teacher...weird stuff is happening right now at school...I guess I'll post about it...
  •  p.s. I think it's awesome you have a daughter, especially one who is interested in learning and smart
  • Michael Blaustein I love Faulkner. I read Sound and Fury and I think I still have your copy of Light in August.
     and Yes Jon please help me fill in the reading assignments she may have missed out on...Asshole! heh heh
  •  Also I have two daughters, the 16 yo who's mother you met when she was pregnant the time you came to visit San Francisco. Which may be that last time we saw each other. And a 15 month old with whom I have the pleasure to stay at home. She will be 16 months on my birthday, I will be 16 times 3 and Camille will be 16 years, so it goes.
  • Robert Langer The "classics" may be examples of fine literature, but all my reading lists were boring. These are sci fi fantasy, but well written & engaging. Dragons of pern series (Anne mccaffery), chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien, ring World Series (Larry Niven), piers Anthony (recommend "on a pale horse" as the first - he is a prolific writer), Isaac Azamov, Robert Heinlein,