May 2012 Archives

#142 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 4 of 4

May 28, 2012

142 Post Depositphotos_6231523_XS.jpgWho are my heroes? Well, let me show you ...

13. Thomas Kincade, 54, January 19, 1958 - April 6, 2012:
Painter; American painter; acute intoxication and Valium overdose

You either loved this guy or you hated him, for any number of reasons. That my mother loves his art should naturally and logically predispose me to loathe this man's art. But I do not. Alright, the guy wasn't exactly highbrow, but who cares: he created art for the masses. And some of it was quite good.

I admit that I dismissed him, at first, as an opportunistic hack, pimping his art to become a multi-millionaire. But, you know what? More power to him. Would that we all could be so lucky and savvy.

He was essentially a modern-day Norman Rockwell without the talent. Much of his art was stylized and idealized with surreal colors and gauzy light. Imagine bubblegum pop music rendered via a painter's palette and you pretty much get the feel of it. Basically, he was a creator of visual guilty pleasures. And how many of you have one (or more) of his prints in your home? C'mon, 'fess up.

Continue reading "#142 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 4 of 4" »

#141 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 3 of 4

May 28, 2012

141 Post Depositphotos_6231523_XS.jpgWho are my heroes? Well, let me show you ...

9. Jan Berenstain, 88, July 26, 1923 - February 24, 2012
Writer and illustrator; American children's writer and illustrator; stroke

Another blast from my past. Like most kids, our family had its fair share of "Berenstain Bears" books scattered throughout the house. Granted, these books paled in comparison with the likes of Dr. Seuss, but they were decent substitutes when you were "Seussed-out" as a kid.

What was simultaneously the greatest and the worst thing about these books is that no single one of them stood above the others as "the best one" in the series. This was a great thing because it forced a kid to hunt down as many of these books as he could in an attempt to read them all. I think there were literally hundreds of titles. This was a bad thing insofar as not a single one of these books could ever rise to the level of a child's absolute favorite book. Where Dr. Seuss excelled at making the utterly bizarre wonderfully comforting, thereby causing a dozen or more of his books to gain a cult following, this never occurred with the "Berenstain Bears".

To this day, in middle age, I can quote large snippets of Dr. Seuss. The "Berenstain Bears"? Not a chance.

Continue reading "#141 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 3 of 4" »

#140 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 2 of 4

May 27, 2012

140 Post Depositphotos_6231523_XS.jpgWho are my heroes? Well, let me show you ...

5. Ian Abercrombie, 77, September 11, 1934 - January 26, 2012:
Actor; British film and television actor; kidney failure

Nothin'? Again, not a familiar name, I'll admit, but you do know him ... as "Mr. Pitt", from the visionary and hilariously funny television series "Seinfeld". There's not much more to add other than the fact that this man was very good at what he did: conveying an upright and stolid British air to Americans who love such stereotypes (myself included).

Dude made me laugh like hell. That's gotta count for something.

6. Don Cornelius, 75, September 27, 1936 - February 1, 2012:
Host and producer; American television show host; dementia resulting in suicide

I admit it: I cried when I heard that Don had died - and in such a tragic way, by his own hand.

There are very few people outside of your immediate circle of friends and family (other than, hopefully, teachers, professors, and employers) who you can honestly state have radically changed your life and your perspective on the world itself. Don Cornelius did just that for me. How? By introducing me and the world to the amazing show called "Soul Train".

Continue reading "#140 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 2 of 4" »

#139 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 1 of 4

May 27, 2012

139 Post Depositphotos_6231523_XS.jpgWho are my heroes? Well, let me show you ...

1. Larry Reinhardt, 63, July 7, 1948 - January 2, 2012:
Musician; American rock guitarist; liver cirrhosis

Alright, so I can already hear the uninitiated asking: "Who the hell is Larry Reinhardt?" And that's just sad. It's sad because this man was a part of two (2) amazing bands. And it's sad because it's obvious that you have not yet sampled the sonic delights of none other than the short-lived Captain Beyond. And now you're asking me "Who is Captain Beyond?" Is there no shame?

Not who, but what. Captain Beyond was an amazing band that was the amalgamation of various musicians from other great bands (lead singer, Rod Evans, from Deep Purple; bassist, Lee Dorman, from Iron Butterfly; and drummer, Bobby Caldwell, from Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer; with Lewie Gold on keyboards). And they produced two (2) amazing albums, "Captain Beyond", from 1972, and "Sufficiently Breathless", from 1973. And they friggin' rocked!

Reinhardt played in Iron Butterfly for a time as well, a member of the line-up that recorded "Metamorphosis".

How many times have I listened to Reinhardt's axe blasting through audiophile speakers and head phones, I just don't know. He was the embodiment of the psychedelic, hard rock, blues rock, progressive, jazz fusion axman.

While he will be missed, his amazing music lives on after him.

You say you need some medicine? I'll give you some medicine. Try a little bit of "Dancing Madly Backwards", my friend. It'll do you good. And that's but a taste of the aural pleasures that await ...

Continue reading "#139 A Tribute To My Heroes, A Retrospective of 2012, Part 1 of 4" »

#138 Who Are Your Heroes?

May 27, 2012

138 Post Depositphotos_6231523_XS.jpgI hadn't planned on memorializing anyone on this blog - until seven (7) artists that I knew and loved died within the same month. Some of the seven you may know well. In fact, if you're around my age (48) and you've listened widely to American music, and you've watched a great deal of American television, and you've read widely in world literature, then you will very likely know each and every one of these personalities.

The idea of noting the passing of famous or important personalities is the sort of thing I felt was more the domain of those sensationalistic rags one finds at the check-out counter of every American grocery store. You know what I'm talking about. They rope you in with lots of T&A or some patently outrageous claims about aliens - anything to get your attention - and then you note that so and so died and you think "Really? I thought he'd died years ago! I wonder what happened?" And blammo: another sucker buys their rag.

Continue reading "#138 Who Are Your Heroes?" »

#137 What I Was Listening To ... 40 Years Ago: May 1972 Playlist, Part 2 of 2

May 26, 2012

137 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgOnce Joe had figured out what we liked in terms of album-oriented rock, things got a lot more interesting. Back then, progressive rock was all the rage as the logical extension of where the Beatles were going had they had the ability to get there - without four huge egos causing them to implode.

Apart from listening obsessively to the Beatles' psychedelic period, from 1966 to 1969 (namely "Revolver", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Magical Mystery Tour", "The Beatles", "Yellow Submarine", and "Abbey Road"), we began to realize that there existed many bands who kept this Beatlesque dream alive.

It didn't come as a shock that each and every one of these bands was also British. I imagine that every British kid, back in the day, heard the Beatles and thought the same thing as we did. But they had done something more: they had learned to play guitar (this was also very high on our list as well!).

Continue reading "#137 What I Was Listening To ... 40 Years Ago: May 1972 Playlist, Part 2 of 2" »

#136 A Modest Proposal, Part 2 of 2

May 26, 2012

136 Post Depositphotos_2046295_XS.jpgI've been mulling over this idea for some time, after stumbling upon it while in the shower (I do some of my best thinking while in the shower!). I've never really understood the big deal concerning hourly rates among attorneys. It's a two-fold misunderstanding, really. I can't understand why it always seems to be such a big secret and I can't understand why the billable rates always seem exorbitantly high. Embarrassingly high, really.

Don't get me wrong: I'm an attorney, and I like to earn a lot of money, just like the next person. But at a rate of $450.00+ per hour? That's insane! But what about $300.00+ per hour? Sorry, even I have to laugh at that. So? What would be a reasonable hourly rate for attorneys? Is even $200.00 per hour too high? Hmmmmm.

Well, while waiting patiently for my mechanic to complete the work on both of our cars, I noticed the sign on the wall: "Labor: $85/hour." My mechanic billed me at a rate of $85.00 per hour for his employees' labor. Kinda high, I thought, at first. Yet, my life is, literally, riding on the quality of the work rendered by this mechanic. Even more importantly: my family's life is riding on it. In that light, $85.00 per hour seems quite reasonable. Think of it as a daily life insurance policy on the whole family. It's all just a matter of perspective.

Continue reading "#136 A Modest Proposal, Part 2 of 2" »

#135 What I'm Listening To: May 2012 Playlist, Part 2 of 2

May 26, 2012

149 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgWell, hey, before we get to the inevitable caselaw round-ups (and there are many of them lined up for the coming days), why not indulge the desire for instant gratification? And new music. Where were we?

So, the works that have dropped by the wayside, after only four (4) tracks for the past four (4) months, are the following:

1. Bombay Bicycle Club, "A Different Kind Of Fix";
2. The Dandy Warhols, "Welcome To The Monkey House";
3. Mike Doughty, "Haughty Melodic";
4. Eve 6, "It's All In Your Head";
5. Gorillaz, "Demon Days";
6. Incubus, "Make Yourself";
7. Interpol, "Our Love To Admire";
8. Jimmy Eat World, "Bleed American";
9. Kings Of Leon, "Only By The Night";
10. MGMT, "Oracular Spectacular";
11. Nine Inch Nails, "Year Zero";
12. Stone Temple Pilots, "No. 4";
13. The Strokes, "Is This It";
14. Switchfoot, "The Beautiful Letdown";
15. System Of A Down, "Toxicity"; and
16. Vertical Horizon, "Everything You Want".

Continue reading "#135 What I'm Listening To: May 2012 Playlist, Part 2 of 2" »

#134 April

May 25, 2012

139 Post-1 Depositphotos_8271675_XS.jpgYeah, yeah, I know: where the hell've I been, right? Working is what. A lot.

I apologize for the delay of the last three (3) weeks but it was unavoidable. I don't imagine client's would find "busy writing blog posts" as an acceptable excuse for not getting their work done. I know I wouldn't.

In fact, I've been so busy that I've had to do something that I used to do a lot, when I was younger, and swore that I would stop doing altogether, now that I'm in my forties. What might this thing be, you ask? It's called an all-nighter. And, god, how I loathe them!

Yes, this is probably the best kept secret of us solo practitioners: every now and then you get jammed up and all sorts of nasty deadlines start to loom large and you suddenly realize, yup, no rest for the wicked: you've got to "pull an all-nighter."

Since starting this gig, back in the beginning of 2003, I think I've averaged about an all-nighter every other month, more or less. Doesn't really sound like a lot - until you're forced to do it. And let me tell ya: six (6) all-nighters a year is six too damned many! The night part isn't so bad. But The Day After is most uncool and I imagine it must be a lot like what a heroin addict must feel like, going through withdrawal. Driving is even more fun. Ever drive when severely sleep-deprived? Yeah, most definitely not a good idea. All I can say is thank god for rumble strips! And loud radios! And open windows! And heat blasting into your face! And the ability to bite your tongue hard enough to stay awake. Anything to stay awake. Anything.

Continue reading "#134 April" »

#133 What I Was Listening To ... 40 Years Ago: May 1972 Playlist, Part 1 of 2

May 4, 2012

159 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgLooking back, the difference between what we listened to with our school friends, and what we listened to alone or with Joe, was as different as night and day. And Joe was oblivious to the fact that I was wiggin' out to "Soul Train" every Saturday afternoon, and drifting off into the ether every Sunday morning to classical music on a church organ. So, instead of a double life, it was as though I was living a musical quadruple life.

School was all about Top 40 and whatever the hell was playing on WTRY - basically whatever our slightly older brothers and sisters were listening to. Our private lives were all about the formative rock of the 60s - basically whatever our much older brothers and sisters were listening to - with tastes veering into the harder blues rock, but especially album-oriented rock. Somewhere in between, I was trying to find a place for this wonderful sound that just about everyone I knew called Black Music, which wildly ran the gamut from soulful gospel to psychedelic funk. And, even beyond that, I wanted to drag all of that great classical music from church into the mix. From the very beginning, I wanted to meld all four of these distinct subdivisions of music into one amazing vortex of sound. I wanted to cross-pollinate it all and come up with something so messed-up and exotic that it transcended everything that came before. And then I wanted to become addicted to it for the rest of my life.

Continue reading "#133 What I Was Listening To ... 40 Years Ago: May 1972 Playlist, Part 1 of 2" »

#132 A Modest Proposal, Part 1 of 2

May 3, 2012

3 Post 2011-10-05 Depositphotos_2046295_XS.jpgAh, Benjamin! Where would I be without you?

Yeah, yeah, the posts haven't exactly been coming fast and furious, I know. However, after putting in twelve hour days for the past week, it's pretty damned hard to get motivated to write a week's worth of blog posts. I laugh when I hear other attorneys think that I've got it made just because I'm a solo. Maybe. But one thing's for sure: a solo doesn't work any less hard than an attorney in a firm. In fact, in my experience, solos often tend to work harder. Why? Well, if I don't work, I don't eat.

Plus, I've never really played well with others and I always hated firm life. I'd get stir crazy after a few months and start looking for greener pastures. I much prefer working alone, being a self-starter, and not having some arrogant partner hover over and around me, cracking the whip. Yeah, screw that! Check, please.

Annnnnnnnnnyway, I've been thinking. Yeah, I know: dangerous. Business has been picking up lately (waaaay too many twelve hour days!) and I've had quite a few people come in for the free consultation that I advertise on my blog and website. Many of my friends think I'm crazy to offer a free consultation and they wonder what the catch is. There's no catch. Really. No, really.

Continue reading "#132 A Modest Proposal, Part 1 of 2" »

#131 What I'm Listening To: May 2012 Playlist, Part 1 of 2

May 2, 2012

149 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgNow that we've reached the fifth month into this odyssey of one hundred (100) albums, sixteen (16) of them have lost steam. In a way, this is hard to believe since the average album/compact disc has roughly twelve (12) tracks on it. Having only four (4) decent tracks means that two-thirds of the album is filler, which is a damned shame. You may feel a bit differently, especially if you are a huge fan of the artist. However, the older I get, the less likely it is that I'm willing to plow through music that I find to be boring and uninspired (and, hence, uninspiring), on the outside chance that I might find a true gem.

Life's just too damned short. No, for me, if the song doesn't grab me within fifteen (15) seconds, it's over. And even for those songs that do grab me within fifteen seconds, if they are merely average-sounding, they get only an additional fifteen seconds to improve. Otherwise ... goodbye.

Continue reading "#131 What I'm Listening To: May 2012 Playlist, Part 1 of 2" »