Monday, August 07, 2006

You Can't Always Get What You Want

...which in this case was a week at the Outer Banks. The mini-vacation we planned was scuttled to some extent by needing to work last week to do turnover before moving into my new role on a new account. But we still made it out Friday night for the weekend (sans kayak - not enough time to make it worthwhile). We ate some righteous food at Black Pelican, Mama Kwan's and Full Moon Cafe (we'll have to hit Chilli Pepper's next time out), I got out and jumped around in some really fine waves Saturday while J hit the "tax-free weekend" sales at the outlets, and mostly just relaxed a bit with a promise that we'll go back out for a longer stay in a few weeks.

Started the new gig today and moved into my office. Now, you have to understand that I've always either had a cubicle or I've worked from my home office (which is also my photo studio, storage space, etc.). I now have an office. I mean, a freaking office with four walls, 10' by 12' feet, one whole wall of windows overlooking the woods and a small lake beyond. It has a door, people!! Now I need to figure out what to put in it to make it mine (and stop the echo - this damn thing is huge!!).

I take that back - I did have my own office for a short period of time back in the mid-80's when I was working for Blue Bell (makers of Wrangler Jeans and Jantzen sportswear before being bought by VF) but that was also when I was trying to run a rock-and-roll club at the same time and frankly I spent way too much time with the door closed either calling Venture Booking trying to score an act I liked or napping out because I'd been up 'til 3am the night before. That was not a good thing and I'm quite a bit older and wiser now, with many fewer distractions. But I will still have to populate the office with UNC Tar Heel crap (my boss is a State fan), toys (yo-yos are a must) and other stuff to make it mine. But no posters of kittens dangling from a branch with "Hang In There" across the bottom - that will not happen.

Good Read (and Listen)

I am in awe of PCs ability to power through Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle - it took me months to read Quicksilver (with many breaks) and after about the first third of The Confusion, I needed another break. That should not be taken as any slight of Mr. Stephenson - it's just that the work is so dense my little pea-brain can only soak up so much at once. (Oddly enough, Cryptonomicon went much faster.)

As a break, I checked out a couple of novels from the library but couldn't make any headway in any of them, finally realizing that I needed some non-fiction to clear my head. On the new book shelf, I found one that really caught my interest: How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row by Michael Kosser. It is written by a long-time Nashville songwriter and rather than focus on the Grand Ole Opry and performing stars, the focus is on writers, publishers and producers. Chet Atkins as record company exec rather than guitar player, Willie Nelson as young songwriter discovered at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and too shy to go into Patsy Cline's house to pitch her Crazy and Roy Acuff not as a performer but as co-founder of Acuff-Rose Music, long the top publishing house in Nashville. It's clear that many of the people that this book is about are still alive (even many of them that started it all in the late 50's and early 60's) so there's not a whole lot that is going to be controversial, but you do get some of Nashville's long-time love-hate relationship with country music and the sort of defensiveness that some on the inside have every time someone outside of "the family" shows a snaggletoothed inbred-looking coot as the typical country music fan.

I can appreciate the locales having grown up in Nashville at the same time Music Row was coming into its own, but you don't have to know who Billy Sherrill is or remember the King of the Road Motel or know anything about Printer's Alley to appreciate the book. Some of the stories are downright hysterical and the voices are just right. Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Building writers are long gone, but Music Row is probably the last place where songwriters who are not necessarily performers can still make a living - it's a hell of a good story.