Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

The Service of Man



I got up quite early to drive to DFW airport this morning. I picked up my nephew who has never been to visit us by himself before around 8:30 a.m. The weather featured freezing temperatures and mild drizzle.

This nephew, like his younger step-brother, likes to fish. One might imagine that whitewater waves, spraying mist, and freezing temperatures provide an insurmountable obstacle to such fun. But one who so imagined has never been to the Lake Lewisville Fishing Barge.

The sign over the Lake Lewisville Fishing Barge says something along the lines of: "Lewisville Fishing Barge-Devoted to Man's Happiness". Never was a truer word spoken.
The fishing barge is roughly the size of a floating mobile home, and has all the style and grace of A-1 manufactured housing.

We entered the door, paid our admission, and found ourselves with dozens of fishermen (who owned, apparently, the roughly one dozen pickups in the parking lot) in an enclosed, heated, multiple-well palais du piscatore (to mangle my languages as a sportswriter might). Three oblong "wells" of water, i.e., holes in the floor, were surrounded by a wonderful collection of thrift store easy chairs, picnic chairs, and all purpose plastic "I miss K-Mart" chairs. A large group of men and one woman dangled their lines into these wells, sometimes pulling up a crappie or a white bass for their trouble. Indeed, one of the three "wells" had the name "Crappie Well", while another had the name "Carp Well". We chose the Well with No Name, and, as in the old America song, on the first day, we were looking at the river bed.

We saw a good few fish caught, albeit none on our lines. We also saw people smoke, chat as if everyone over eighteen but us was a regular, and talk about nothing but fishing.
The Lake Lewisville Fishing Barge, heated ambience, dusty fluorescent lights, printed "don't abandon your pole" rules, and all, is open twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. In a troubled world, it is comforting that some places still work tirelessly to afford this compelling form of homeland security. We fished as stray mallards, belatedly lamenting that they are not soaking up sun in salt flat marshes outside Corpus Christi, looked like nothing so much as decoy ducks left in a wave machine at a theme park, as the cold front did its chill duty at Lake Lewisville. I'd show you a picture, but it was too cold.

We left fishless but well pleased at noon, and met my wife at the IMAX theater on Webb Chapel Road. We all got lunch at a sub and pizza shop, and then watched an IMAX about th Martian Rovers, which, it turns out, anthropomorphize rather better than other inanimate objects such as Nancy Grace do, though perhaps not as well as Tucker Carlson does.
I wish Mars were my spare room, having determined that is aridity is more ambient than Osaka's vigour.

We all then went to Half Priced books, where I bought vintage sheet music to resell on eBay, a Perry Mason mystery, and a guide to coastal south Texas (with the mallards gone, there must be lots of tourist vacancies). Then we repaired to Red Lobster, a favorite of my nephew's, where the flounder flowed like root beer and, by coincidence, the Diet Coke also flowed like root beer.

We all then went to the mall, where a Sam Goody record store was going out of business.
Lately, I salute artists who release their music for free or for donations on the internet, and, certainly, the best electronica albums I got in 2005 were free releases from Peter Koniuto (ambient) and Henri Pettersen (minimal chill). But a store closing sale, with its attendant 1/3 to 1/2 off prices, brought out the troglodyte music fan in me. I got a boxed set of Springsteen's 1st, 2nd and 4th albums (the 3rd apparently being unavailable due to a last chance power drive).

I got a remastered Gentle Giant, which is odd, because I did not buy (though I respected) much Gentle Giant during the first mastering. I got Liz Phair's new album, as well as the cloest thing that the record industry has ever made to true ambrosia, Roxy Music's Avalon. In other words, it was in the main a nostalgiafest plus Liz Phair, as to whom I am usually nostalgic for either Exile in Guyville or whitechocolatespaceegg.
They didn't have, sadly, 24 Hour Party People, any Sparks, Be Bop Deluxe, Durutti Column, Bill Nelson, Sundays (I've reconfirmed by CD listen that Harriet Wheeler is simply, breathtakingly amazing this week--certainly, my young adulthood would not have been livable without "reading, writing and arithmetic"), dBs, Dream Syndicate, modern ambience or even Boards of Canada. I barely resisted the ELP DVD. There is always tomorrow. My nephew got a cool distortion pedal for his electric bass.

We stopped by another store or two, then braved the cold yet again to head home. We watched Batman Begins (for me, again), and then I headed to my computer. I posted the newest contest entry I've been working up to the CCmixter.org site. This is my second entance to this contest, which is to use samples to create a new song which will be the soundtrack keynote to a documentary about sampling in hip hop called "Copyright Criminals".

I had happened upon a capable Frenchwoman who could provide me with vocal samples and a great hip hop beats line, and all I had to do was incorporate movie samples, add my own
musical input, and voila. Yet voila turned into "mom, the angel cake's fallen--what do we do now?" as I couldn't seem to make the song work as a hip hop song. The beats went off sync with the vocals, or the sound didn't sound rippin' enough, or a hundred other reasons explain why Gurdonark is unlikely to be the next word in Texas hip hop mixing.

Finally, after some frustratingly bad efforts to take Lise's good samples and turn them into real hip hop, I had a revelation. I am much more comfortable making weirdbient music according to my own muse than I am making a hip hop song. So I pulled out a synth sample,
pulled out a sliced sample of hanging bells, melded the vocal samples together, and
did "Copyright Criminals (featuring Lise)" as a good old fashioned Gurdonarkian weirdbient song. I may have to re-frame the song a bit, as the uploading process appears to cut about a second off, but the result is much more "me" than the hip hop efforts I had undertaken before now.

I do not believe that Q-Bert, Matmos, or even Keith Emerson would approve, but I am hopeful that the Residents would understand. We'll see how few stars it gets--my last faux "hip hop" entry, which tried to meld Lawrence Lessig talking about the dangers of copyright with a MIDI morph mildly reminiscent of the 70s classic "Low Rider", only hyped up on speed, mustered a far from ideal 2.8 stars out of 5 from the other mixters.
I enjoyed doing it, though, and Lise, with whom I collaborated, is really talented.
I find, parenthetically, that although my "ratings" are lower on my more offbeat pieces, it is the offbeat ones that people send me e mails about. I don't fault the folks on the mixter, though--these folks include a lot of seriously talented people, and it must be odd to hear my seriously weirdbient stuff sometimes.

I look forward to reading Perry Mason again, and to dreaming of what it must be to live life like a downhill skier--make haste, but stay within the boundaries.
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