Updates from New York City/ Random Thoughts in Downtimeland

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  • The New York Times today gave voice to the famous since they are lacking a platform. What do they miss about their beloved city?
  • Dear readers I can tell you what I don’t miss. The noise. The crowds. The expense.
  • I have a strong immune system. I go out everyday.
  • I danced in the middle of 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, Lexington Avenue, and intersections that now stand empty. I do not miss traffic.
  • No sympathy for Disney. Are we not capitalists? You take risks with your investments. The government must stop their welfare for the wealthy. If Disney fails let it go away. Some other thing will come along for the 21st Century.
  • This just in, Disney+ using Hamilton as bait for more subscribers! It’s meant to be seen live.
  • The 7 pm banging of the pots has started to fade. Less and less volume now.
  • That homeless dude on the 6 train was right 2 years ago. Anyone of you may be jobless tomorrow. Did anyone listen to him? nah!
  • I do not “like” any of our politicians. They do not know what to do.
  • The people with means left the city months ago.
  • Some days are better than others. Just like before the pandemic.
  • I wonder how suburbanites will survive. They have to drive everywhere.
  • Now is the chance to lower subway fares. Ridership will not return to previous levels. Why run empty buses? We need to build a new transportation system. Monorail!
  • Our current Mayor will close streets to cars. Pedestrian only zones so people can walk and be distant from one another.
  • How about motorcycle only roads? A Harley highway.
  • New York City was all about luxury for the wealthy before this hit. Now that many of them have left for good how about converting the completed condo units into affordable homes for the rest of us? A rent strike for universal suffrage. Rents should fall back to 1960 levels.
  • Convert failed retail spaces into community use areas.
  • Our primary is now a go! Yay democracy.
  • Delegates count. It affects the party platform.
  • Haircuts? Hey guys, let it grow! We need non-conformity! Learn about rebellion. You can stand out. The Constitution allows for it, lol.
  • We should support Amazon’s workforce. This is retail today. The virus will not go away. Physical stores will never feel safe again. It’s nice to shop at a click with a solid returns policy.
  • Movie theaters are going to have to do a lot more to get us back. YouTube has a lot of great films from all over the world, no CGI needed. Stories about people are making a comeback following a decade of shlock from Marvel (Disney).
  • If independent book shops opened across the city with a medium size sales floor people could enjoy the experience. A no children under 16 policy would be nirvana. Book shops should sell books. No toys, no stationary.
  • New York will remain closed until at least May 18. Politicians are biding (pun intended) their time.

You Tube Allows Discovery For Viewers

World cinema abounds on this platform.

https://youtu.be/3Y2pPaqcHtU

Cut and paste the above address to view a beautiful 30 minute French film about a family that takes a sea voyage around islands and sees whales. The boys swim with dolphins, explore sea life, and enjoy what looks like one amazing childhood.

The choices are yours on YouTube. Why are you wasting money on the banal service of Disney?

Heavy Metal Rules

The corporate record labels forced metal away from the mainstream. It made the culture stronger. Metal listeners are hundreds of millions of people from over two dozen countries. We love Lemmy, Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Metallica and a zillion other artists who play amazing music. It will last forever. A creature comfort. And always regains its stature when things go South.

Metallica are still America’s best metal band. “Hardwired To Self Destruct” is amazing.

The wearing of masks is so metal! Rock on. Up The Irons! Bang thy head that doesn’t bang.

That’s it for now! Just a quick update inside the city of New York 2 months into the pandemic.

The City Sleeps

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Another week is done. I have calendars in my apartment. Two in fact. One features puppies in silly outfits and poses to fit the month/season. The other is a New Yorker magazine cartoon-a-day.

The small things that went unnoticed are now prime pins in my mental machinery. They keep me safe. Taking an anti-depressant is the other component in this equation.

Here we are in New York without sitdown service in restaurants. One diner remains with delivery. It’s called Midnite Express after the drug trafficking movie from the 1970s.

Funny to think how the underbelly of society is operating now. Are they wearing masks too? Everyone is required to wear them now.

So with all this time on our hands we come up with projects. My latest was listening to the entire Bob Dylan catalog. I found out I could listen to 9 albums in one day. This infuriated my beloved husband but I was determined to finish in less than a week.

No theater. No baseball. No concerts. Summer will present a challenge. No day trips. May there be no heatwaves nor hurricanes. Oh, the city pools will not open. The last time that happened was the polio pandemic.

We should remind ourselves daily we must allow the health sector to do its best to curtail new illness. We should also keep in mind that all workers are valuable in any economy. Do not scapegoat.

At 7 each evening New Yorkers are banging pots and pans while cheering for nurses and doctors; food deliverers, store clerks; pharmacists, drugstore clerks. Hand in hand those with advanced educations and those with limited resources are working together to keep us all safe.

The city is quiet. You cannot help but feel how fragile society can become when faced with these unusual circumstances. New York pride was once about being open all the time. Things have changed.

Before the pandemic hit Manhattan the complaints to 311 (our city services number) over noise was hitting records. Subway ridership was bursting, and tourism was high.

Now those complaints are not happening and the subways are empty save essential workers. No tourists.

The past 2 administrations created a city for visitors. This has proved to be a shortsighted vision. Without their revenue now what do we do?

The city sleeps. Schools are closed. Life will not return to normal. Our lack of hindsight has proven to be our folly in 2020, funnily enough a year whose numbers literally mean healthy vision.

Last night at twelve Bob Dylan released another single, “I Contain Multitudes”, referencing Walt Whitman, Anne Frank, and the Rolling Stones! Mr. D is doing his part.

See you next week dear readers!

Western Stars/Bruce Springsteen

Western Stars is the 19th solo album by Bruce Springsteen.
Produced by Ron Aniello on Columbia Records.
13 Songs; 50 minutes

A wayfarin’ hitch-hiker takes a journey back out to big sky country to reflect on a life gone past. Along the way we learn he was a B-movie Stuntman whose proudest moment was a scene with screen icon John Wayne.

Painting a deceptively simple picture of creeping isolation, lost love, and futile attempts to outrun a road that has to end, Mr. Springsteen has composed a romantic yet melancholy tribute to the American ideals of the West.

Remembering good times at a local cafe where the work is left behind; ‘Monday is a million miles away’. Forgetting the mounting sadness of lost opportunity because the western stars are out tonight.

The thematic thread woven through are light and dark; sunrise and sundown; the sun and the moon.

Evoking this vision are understated orchestrations that support the vocals in even tempo. At times the sweeping beauty of the notes will fill you with longing.

This is because our western star is waiting for his lost love to return. He knows this is a fool’s errand. “Tuscon Train”, “Stones”, and “There Goes My Miracle” are songs of tortured romance literally gone south.

The album’s centerpiece track, “Drive Fast” (The Stuntman), shows a physically broken man whose wounds are his only companion. The steel rod in his leg walks him home each night.

The last song on the album is “Moonlight Motel”. A memory of lost lovers enjoying an afternoon delight in a derelict place. The physical structures have gone to seed while their love blossoms. A place once made for nighttime pleasures becomes the sight of a self-made Eden.

Quite a beautiful album that is able to relate this tale of loss and loneliness without making its listener feel too sad. The melodies are uplifting; the vocals are empathetic.

In the daylight chasing wild horses, running for countless miles is enough to outrun the impending gloom. There is a deep abiding respect for this rugged place by the man at the center of it all—The Boss.

In lieu of a tour for this record, Bruce Springsteen makes his directorial debut on October 25, 2019 with “Western Stars”.

The film is a performance of the album with orchestra before an audience. An album, “Western Stars” Film Version will be released. It’s the same track list as the studio LP except for the addition of “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell.

“Sundown” is the first single released from the film version album. The new versions seem to have even more developed orchestration.

Western Stars opens in theaters on October 25, 2019. The concert film premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival.

E Street Stardom/Solo Magic

For decades now Bruce Springsteen has piece by piece constructed a music career that continues to inspire longtime listeners and attract newcomers.

He has enjoyed commercial success but did not count only on selling his music but by creating a persona that was larger than his self but true to who he is offstage.

After listening to “Western Stars” over and over digitally I found my own take. His E Street albums are the rockstar track built with hits like “The River”, “Born To Run”, and “Born In The USA”.

The solo albums have been allowed by an audience that deeply appreciates his hard work in not just entertaining them but making them think too. This is the internal track of non rock Lp’s that delve into Americana, Folk, and Protest music.

His catalog is like a puzzle with thousands of pieces. For years I was distracted enough not to see what he was doing. Building his following slowly in bars/clubs on the Jersey Shore then reaching a zenith with sold out stadiums. He never relies on just hit singles. He becomes by word of mouth a legendary presence. His audience bestows the nickname, The Boss, to signify to them what he represents in the music world.

The solo work allows Bruce to work on music that he knows will not sell stadiums nor spend weeks at the top of the chart. It’s material he hopes will alternately take listeners down musical byways that cannot fit into the mainstream rock frame of the E Street Band.

I feel there are few solo artists doing such consistently fine work as Mr. Springsteen. Bob Dylan comes to mind. The Boss seeks long term attachment with his audience. He gets it because of the trust built upon decades of great work both rocking and reflective.

I hope the puzzle is not near completion.

Bruce Springsteen is performing at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5th. A benefit for Stand-Up For Heroes.

Motown 60

Music is placed into categories for the purpose of marketing. At the end of the 1950’s black musicians were placed into the bin marked Rythm & Blues.

Jerry Wexler, a writer/producer at Billboard Magazine coined the term. The prior label, Race Music, was considered offensive after WWII.

Following the war, a migration of black labor left the south for industry in the north.

Berry Gordy and William “Smokey” Robinson founded a new record label for black artists in Detroit. They called their new group Motown after the city’s famous nickname, Motor City.

There were four labels created. Berry Gordy had his own imprint. Tamla was a subsidiary of Motown. In later years the label was sold to Polygram. The music was then labeled, Soul.

In the late 1950s two other black-owned independent record companies that specialized in rhythm and blues and rock and roll had been enjoying considerable success for nearly a decade—Peacock Records, formed in Houston, Texas, by Don Robey, and Vee Jay Records, formed in Chicago by Vivian Carter Bracken, James Bracken, and Calvin Carter. 

This new culture allowed for this to happen, especially after desegregation of schools. Detroit had public schools with music training programs.

Below L-R: Berry Gordy poses with a Supremes record. Smokey Robinson was interviewed by Goldmine Magazine. He talked about his original goals and the early days of the label. He was going to become an electrical engineer. Mr. Gordy thought otherwise.

In January of 1959 they began in a two-story house they named Hitsville, USA. This would become prophetic. 2648 West Grand Boulevard was a former photographer’s studio.

In just 2 years Motown hired over 400 people. The label would score over 100 hits on Billboard between 1959 and 1961.
The first black owned American Corporation.
Recording studios, Administrative Offices, and Berry Gordy’s apartment all
within this deceptively small looking house.

The music created here was a part of millions of people’s lives. This amalgam of Gospel, Blues, Jazz, and R&B became the hallmark known as the Motown Sound.

In the movie business Louis B. Mayer claimed he had more stars than there were in heaven. I think Motown could claim more stars than there are in our galaxy!

Take any artist on Motown’s roster to find many of the
greatest American songs in history.

The Supremes, “Little” Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Temptations, Martha and The Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Marvelettes, Junior Walker and The All-Stars, The Contours, Marvin Gaye, and The Jackson Five were all signed to Motown.

Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland wrote songs for The Supremes:  “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me” (all 1964), “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Back in My Arms Again,” “I Hear a Symphony” (all 1965), and “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1966).

Sylvia Moy, Norman Whitfield, Mickey Stevenson, Ivy Joe Hunter, and Gordy himself were songwriters and producers for the Motown roster.

The label’s peak in the mid to late 1960’s is still unrivaled today. The standards were comprehensive; the talent pool deep. In its heyday, Motown produced more #1 hits than any other record company.

This compilation featured the 100 Greatest Motown Songs.

The Supremes were the top all-female group of the 1960’s. Their record sales second only to The Beatles. Ms. Ross left the group to pursue a solo career and also acted in movies.

When the label signed The Jackson Five, Diana Ross presented them to an audience of 500 friends at a private party. The struggles over songwriting royalties led to crediting the new quintets songs to The Corporation.

As the 1970’s dawned The Jackson Five scored with ABC. Diana Ross starred in the Billie Holiday biopic, “Lady Sings The Blues”. Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” became the defining soul record of the 1970’s.

The Commodores featuring Lionel Richie arrived with their soul masterpiece, “Machine Gun”. Motown was a cultural juggernaut.

Although the label would move to L.A. the legacy would grow. I watched the Jackson Five’s cartoon series on ABC. It took decades for me to understand how big Motown’s impact had been on my listening.

Today I am able to listen with clarity to all of the truly beautiful recordings of this extremely talented community of artists.

Motown’s music has been covered quite a bit by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Van Halen, and Phil Collins to name a few.

The CBS sitcom “Murphy Brown” created by Diane English features snippets of Motown classics in its opening every week.

The title character loved Motown. A tribute to Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson’s mission to successfully market black musicians to a white mainstream audience.

Most famous perhaps was California’s Raisin Council adapting, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, with animated raisins performing the song with Motown’s signature choreography.

The California Raisins became a sensation with its memorable Motown cover of the Marvin Gaye classic.

To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Motown’s founding, PBS aired Motown 60, double LP “Motown’s Greatest Hits”, special color vinyl issues of The Jackson Five, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye are available.

“Ain’t Too Proud” a Broadway Musical about the Life and Times of The Temptations opened on Broadway at the Imperial theater. The original cast recording is available.

If those releases are not enough, there is the 11-CD box set, “Hitsville”, compiling all 200 plus chart topping hits!

Encased in a hard plastic display case with a replica of the “Hitsville” headquarters in Detroit.

The collectibility of this music is infinite. The Motown group was sold in the 1980’s to Polygram. Today Universal Music Group (UMG) owns the label.

Showtime has Hitsville: The Making of Motown, a documentary. Premieres were held earlier this month in Los Angeles and on Friday night (Aug. 23) when about 20 Motown alumni — including members of the Vandellas, the Velvelettes and the Contours as well as behind-the-scenes staffers — and guests gathered for an invitation-only screening hosted by the Motown Museum in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.

I admit my ears were listening to full albums by many of these extraordinary people for the first time. I fell deeply in love with their work.

A double bill of Motown greats are on tour again this Fall
Friday October 11th at Sound Waves Hard Rock Cafe Casino in Atlantic City & October 12th at New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
For a full tour schedule go to http://www.ticketmaster.com



And the beat goes on…

Superman is 80

The summer of 1939 was a milestone in American entertainment.

The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind premiered in movie theaters.

Superman made his first appearance in Action Comics.

In the first story told by creators Joe Schuster & Jerry Siegel our hero could not fly! He could jump a building in a single bound and lift cars over his head.

Over the next 7 decades there would be many creative teams assigned to Superman. In recent times DC comics restarted their comics at issue #1. So many changes over time. I will relate what Superman meant to me as a kid and now.

Television, Movies, Comic Books, and collectibles are the focus of this entry. Just some memories of how this character impacted my life.

In my early childhood television showed reruns of series broadcast in the 1950s and 1960s. There were sitcoms like “I Love Lucy”, “Father Knows Best”, “Dennis The Menace”, and “Bewitched”, sci-fi like “Star Trek” and “Lost In Space”, and then there was a comic book based series—-“The Adventures of Superman”.

I remember watching this series in black and white. George Reeves played Clark Kent/Superman and Noel Neill played Lois Lane. The opening titles were great. A voice over coupled with images described his powers as “faster than a speeding bullet, strength like a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s a bird, no..it’s a plane..no..it’s Superman!

Super TV

Watching all episodes of the series made me want to read the comic magazines from DC. The impact this made on me as a child was greater than the mark made when Jor-El, Son of Krypton, crash lands on the Kent farm in Smallville.

Described as mild mannered Clark Kent, he would report for the Daily Planet newspaper. His change into Superman was Clark dashing into a storage room at the newspaper or using a phone booth. He would loosen his tie and remove his eye glasses to cue the audience.

The narrative importance was lost on me back then but today has great meaning. The creators were Jewish kids from Ohio who used the ultimate immigrant story, Jesus or Moses, as their source material.

Like Moses placed in a basket, the baby Jor-El is placed in a space capsule. He is launched into space to escape the destruction of the planet by their sun. The baby lands on earth. Raised on a farm by the Kents, his secret is kept by them.

When Clark matures he is sent to the big city to begin a mission to “fight for truth, justice, and the American way” as Superman. The costume is made by his surrogate mother. The ‘S’ on the Chevron is a Kryptonian letter meaning hope. The comic books were crucial in discovering all of the details in this narrative.

You can see why these ideas would sail over the head of a child. The adventure was good enough for my imagination. The effects of flying were all done by green screen on TV. Superman flew at steep angles due to this limitation in effects. The sound mix was cool. Right before he flew Superman would take a few running steps then a sound effect would cue us sitting at home. It sounded like a lid being released from a power vacuum.

Super Animation

Through animation Superman became the hero you saw in print.

The Max Fleischer series was captivating. In the 1970s the Saturday morning series, “Superfriends” added Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman to the mix. As a kid I loved the cartoon, but later appreciated the animated series to be quite superior in quality.

Super Movies

In 1978 Warner Brothers brought Superman to the silver screen. Christopher Reeve, a mild mannered star of stage, became a movie star. Margot Kidder was Lois Lane. Gene Hackman played Lex Luthor. Ned Beatty as Otis, the dimwitted sidekick. Jackie Cooper as Perry White, Editor of the Daily Planet. And perhaps the greatest feat of casting at the time—Marlon Brando as Superman’s father.

The movie featured a score by John Williams (Jaws, Close Encounters, E.T., Indiana Jones, and many more classics) that was groundbreaking. His “Superman March” would stay as the theme of the series to come. There were 3 sequel episodes.

In the debut feature the arch villain Lex Luthor plans to blow up the San Andreas fault in Southern California to trigger a devastating earthquake. Lois meets Clark. Lois interviews Superman. The Fortress of Solitude is introduced.

Superman II brought back the entire principal cast. It focused on the three Kryptonian villains sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone at the start of the previous film.

Superman saves the Earth from a hydrogen bomb at the Eiffel Tower. He hurls the device into deep space. The ripples of the shock wave caused by detonation shatter the Phantom Zone barrier. Ursa, Non, and General Zod are set free with the same powers as Superman.

Terence Stamp (Billy Budd, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) is imprinted in my memory forever as Zod. Commanding all of humanity to “kneel before Zod” as he takes control of Washington, DC is quite a scene.

Despite Superman III being quite comic with Richard Pryor the story lacks in compelling elements. And Superman IV—The Quest For Peace is just dull. The franchise went dormant after this series. The next feature, “Superman Returns” featured newcomer, Brandon Routh. Then more recently, Henry Cavill starred in “Man Of Steel”.

There were crossover features like “Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” that failed to catch the public imagination. The future of this character is more certain in the weeklies published. The movies are demanding. In my opinion, the impression made by Christopher Reeve was indelible.

The late Christopher Reeve is my Superman.

In my young adulthood the man of steel returned to the small screen. ABC TV ran “Lois & Clark” Starring Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. Comic book artist John Byrne’s modern retelling of Superman’s origin where Clark is the dominant personality was the series’ inspiration.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 12: LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN – Pilot – 9/12/93, The “Superman” story, focusing primarily on the relationship between Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and his alter ego Superman/The Man of Steel (Dean Cain), and his fellow reporter Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher), continued in this 1993-97 ABC series. In the two-part pilot, the reporters worked on a story about the space program being hijacked., (Photo by Bob D’Amico/ABC via Getty Images)

John Shea played Lex Luthor as a business tycoon with unethical methods. Lane Smith was Editor Perry White. The role of Jimmy Olsen changed hands from Michael Landes to Justin Whalin after season one. The show would run from September 1993 thru June 1997.

Super Culture

Since his first appearance on a comic book page 80 years ago Superman has become an iconic presence. Thousands of books, magazines, toys, games, trading cards, playing cards, clothing, and any matter of object imprinted with his image/logo are now a billion dollar industry.

Mego toys produced Superman action figures. Ben Cooper provided Halloween costumes. Our imaginations took care of the rest.

Super Books. The panels in a comic book provide more detail than any screenplay. I did not consider the artists when I was a kid. That is a focus you do not get until you are much older.

Curt Swan drew Superman in the 1970s. This portrait of the character became the standard for modern renderings of Superman. The Mego figure was based on this look. The costume in the first 4 films were also this design.

These stories were tales of adventure no movie could ever match. The Fortress of Solitude was my favorite. Although the rendering on film was quite beautiful I prefer the detail of the page.

Thanks for Reading!

To Stream Or Not To Stream

During my childhood the long-playing record or L.P. played back on machines called Victrolas or Phonographs. These platters were the format for pre-recorded music.

You could own records for $5.99 a piece back in those days. The culture was different too. Our parents for the most part grew up in the big band era. Rock n Roll was not music for their generation. Music is directly woven into the fabric of the times in which it is recorded.

When I was a kid rock n roll was in its 3rd decade. The be-bop-a-lula of the 50s gave way to the psychedelic haze of the 60s which gave way to the glam of the 70s. Then the 80s smashed all the genres into niches. Heavy metal, New Wave, Dance, Pop, Jazz, Country, Rap, and many other musical forms energized different groups of listeners.

In the 1970s records were sold in department stores like Sears and Korvettes. Where I lived in The Bronx you could walk down to your local record shop. Broadway Records existed for many years as a provider of LP’s and a provider of concert tickets.

My first record was the soundtrack to the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back. On the RSO label, a double album with a gatefold sleeve that meant it opened up like a book to reveal an inner sleeve that contained a full color souvenir booklet of the movie! This record was $12.99. There were very few double albums for this reason during this era. I will never forget that recording.

Then I discovered Tower Records in Greenwich Village on W.4th Street. There were thousands of records. I only cared about Rock. The radio was the transmitter of music. Every kid had one. In New York City WPLJ 95.5 (which just signed off forever) was our station.

Not realizing at the time that we were not drowning in entertainment choices yet or franchises. Rock n Roll disappeared; Rock Music arrived. Rock radio promoted concerts by giving away tickets with contests. Bands appeared on radio to give interviews with local DJ’s.

I heard The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zep, and Queen for the first time this way. The Disc Jockey (DJ) decided what to play. Every new artist had their respective record labels issue a promotional only single to radio across the country. If the song was received well by listeners it became a hit.

The singles issued on miniature vinyl platters with a giant hole in the center were played at 45 r.p.m. (rotations per minute) and required an adapter to play. They cost $1 per unit. The A side was the potential hit; the B side was another track from the album being promoted.

In the record stores The Billboard Chart Hot 100 songs were displayed in order. This was how music listeners bought songs they liked. If they were really into an artist the album would be bought too.

Much pleasure came from physically going out to purchase music from a variety of chains that developed to meet the demand. Record World, Sam Goody, Disc-O-Mat, Tower, and others were fun stores to experience. The internet killed most of it. Independent record shops are still around. You can search for your local shops online.

The music we collect changes throughout our lives. I loved a multitude of artists all my life. I built a strong foundation as a kid. Although Rock was my focus I was exposed to Classical, Jazz, Opera, Folk, and Broadway show tunes thanks to my parents who had records from the 50s and 60s.

Today streaming services have become popular. At the click of a button and a reasonable monthly price the entire ocean of recordings is available to our ears. More listeners today have headphones than at any other time in history!

I have access to every record published over the last 50 years. My mistakes have led me to a musical epiphany. At first I added hundreds of titles all at once. The novelty overwhelmed me. I could have any album.

Now I only keep about 20 titles at a time. Live with them. Then decide if they are worth having on vinyl. Following 3 listens I decide if the selection will be returned to the ether or placed on a wish list for vinyl.

A subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited is $12.99 a month. A vinyl record now costs $19.95 on the low end to upwards of $35 on the high end. The new records are pressed on heavier 180 gram vinyl.

In the USA after the compact disc became the dominant format the recording industry closed many record pressing plants. Only a few exist today. Many of the vinyl records in American stores today are pressed in Europe.

To Stream or not to stream? I have adapted to every change that has developed during my life. I missed having records. The packaging is part of the experience of having music. Like my first record purchase being so memorable because of its physical contents. Digital cannot provide this satisfaction.

A stream cannot include a poster, liner notes (despite some inclusion of digital notes), images made by professional photographers, and gatefolds, pop-up or die-cut covers. There are inserts in physical copies of records.

However, because of the digital revolution I was able to learn directly from other vinyl collectors how to appreciate the contents of records. I never realized in my youth that vinyl should be kept in poly-lined sleeves. This protects them from dust. Outer jackets should be placed in protective plastic too.

Without album cover art music is dropped sometimes by surprise so artists can make an impression. Nowadays, recording artists spend years developing a new record. The streaming option makes it harder to stand out from the constant availability online.

Every rock group now considered classic has at least 3 or 4 memorable album covers. Some commissioned painters or photographers to create a defining image for their recorded works.

Roger Dean’s Yes album covers, Hipgnosis’ Pink Floyd covers, Mick Rock’s photographic covers for Queen, Blondie, and David Bowie are part of the complete package. Digital obscures these contributions.

The comments people leave online are sometimes really long. Everyone has an opinion. I write here for this reason. I feel that this format is good for expressing opinions.

I used iTunes first when it started. Artwork was not always available for each album. The liner notes were absent. After years of usage I was depressed. Music was no longer the fun it had been when the culture existed for record stores. People would share with each other their love for music.

Streaming allows for constant listening. You do not get up to flip a side or pull a record out of its sleeve. You never learn how to take care of your music except creating back up files.

The cloud is the new data storage system. Thousands upon thousands of files can be filed away in this virtual closet. In my opinion, I do not need this much capacity. Streaming has made me question just how much I can ever listen to in my lifetime.

Physical records last a lifetime. If you clean them before each use or after a hundred plays the quality will not diminish. You are forced to decide on a finite range of ownership. Then perhaps you may enjoy what you have more without constant adding.

Flea markets, record shows, and independent shops sell records cheaply. I found 2 Broadway musical film scores at a flea market for a total of $10. Both recordings were from the 50s and 60s. They still played beautifully.

Princeton Record Exchange is one of the largest on the East Coast. They have thousands of records for $1—$3. I spent $30 for 7 records this past Memorial Day. They also buy used records and collections.

The files in your computer’s cloud take up space too. I do not have the same joy from them. They are not tangible things. Who knows where these files will be in the years to come. My physical records have a place on their shelf beneath my stereo.

Discovery is streaming’s strength as a format. Each Friday new music gets released. Scroll through the selections. There is an option to sample the album or any specific song. You don’t have to download anything.

I have developed a taste for alternative artists because of streaming. Record shops have listening stations too. I think it’s much more convenient to find new music on a streaming platform.

Spotify, Pandora, Apple, and Amazon are popular today. This does not mean records are extinct. The LP is now back in vogue with young people. Their parents grew up on rock. They know classic rock. Sales of vinyl albums are way up now. Streaming is dominant but people are collecting records too.

Go on YouTube and search Vinyl Community (VC). You will find many people posting videos about records they own and those discovered at thrift shops and record stores all over the US.

I learned you do not have to choose streaming over records. I use the streaming to find records of new artists. This process leads to more ideas for my blog. I thought a lot about the pleasures of streaming and its drawbacks too.

The music business learned difficult lessons during our cultural upheavals. As a result there is less of an industry today. People seem to want things fast and cheap now. The loss in experience is hard to measure. Streaming is on the go with you everywhere. Records demand your care, attention, and effort.

I think back to 1984 when I saw those orange foam headphones of the Walkman for the first time. It was on the subway. The beginning of people using music on the go to shut out everything and everyone around them.

Today those wireless ear buds are it. Those using them look like aliens to me. I mostly listen to music at home. Sometimes I will listen on the go. Time management is much harder now.

Advanced technology is great but I feel we must strive for some type of balance. Streaming is here to stay. I feel the rise of physical fitness from the 1980s onward made it possible to sell people on portable devices for music. People use music for workouts. Runners love wireless ear buds too.

Alternative or independently made music is great on vinyl. Finding artists has never been easier to do. One of the best things about streaming is access has expanded around the world.

Because of this global reach more artists new and classic are making music using a wider variety of styles. The new Santana record, Africa Speaks, adds African rhythms to his salsa/jazz/rock combo.

Funny how new inventions make us wonder how we ever lived without them. As a person who remembers life without the internet I can attest to the fact you cannot miss what does not yet exist.

Most of us cannot live without our devices. It’s a creature comfort to know we can still rely on our past methods of playback.

Whatever new technology may lay on the horizon we should keep our love of music alive.

For the love of music keep listening whether you stream, collect vinyl or do both. I recognize it’s just a matter of preference for some. May music always be in the air for everyone. I will do a little bit of both.

More blogs to come!
Thank you for reading.

PhantomFashion 30/Art Review

This year Phantom of the Opera turned 30!  To celebrate theater’s longest-running musical the Museum of the City of New York has a 30 day exhibit of 30 phantom masks that were custom designed. There is a silent auction for each piece.  It runs from October 30th until November 30th.

Visit BroadwayCares.org/Phantom to bid. And now here are some of my favorites in this unique show:

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As you can see they are each one of a kind creations.  Above we see a L.A. inspired mask with palms, sunset, and phantom style graffiti.  Below is Zang Toi’s wonderful white feathered accents perfect for masquerade.

This charitable endeavor was made possible by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Bank of America and The Phantom of the Opera.

Visit broadwaycares.org, http://www.mcny.org, Facebook.com/MuseumofCityNY for more information about this exhibit.