Truths

1. You’re gonna keep your mobile handset a hell of a lot longer. With T-Mobile shifting the tide to non-subsidized handsets, many people are going to balk at paying $649 for a new iPhone, they believe it’s only $200, the same way some people believe the handset they got for free with a two year contract is really free. If you’ve got an iPhone 5 or the latest Samsung, with LTE connectivity, there’s no reason to get a new one, not a good one, just like there’s no reason to upgrade your computer.

2. Steve Jobs was all about usability. Somehow this message got lost on Spotify. Although their new interface looks cool, it’s much harder to use, and not intuitive. If you’ve got to Google for instruction, the developer missed the boat. And remember, Jobs was all about REMOVING functions as opposed to adding them like Microsoft. And look where Microsoft is today…

3. You don’t need a connection to use a streaming service on your smartphone, you just sync playlists and it’s like owning the tracks (as long as you pay the monthly fee!) But most people still don’t know this, they’re worried about nonexistent data fees, proving that people are stupid and the streaming companies are doing a bad job of getting the message across.

4. Red Bull has a record company. And is heavily involved in music. I know this because my inbox is filling up with people telling me. They got their message across, have you? And are you giving back, doing something that is not your core mission, in order to burnish the image of your brand?

5. Quarterly numbers are for Wall Street only. Just like debut sales are for the music industry, but not the consumer. Publications are migrating to printing the streaming chart, so get people to listen, not buy.

6. Phenomena still exist. I.e. “Frozen.” Sure, it’s a target audience of kids, sure, parents will buy anything for their children, but I haven’t found one person who says the film sucks, and the album is a souvenir, and repeat play builds loyalty, the more you hear it, the more you like it. We had the same phenomenon in the music business with Adele’s “21,” but so far no one’s replicated it. Because in music, unlike with Disney and Pixar, it’s not about getting it right but about getting it out. If you do something superlative, truly better than anything else, it will break through and sustain. Instead the music business is selling good or intermittently great, with all focus on touring revenue. This is a mistake, the same way focusing on production does not add longevity to your concert career. It’s about music, the way it makes people feel, it’s about involving someone as opposed to spectacle.

7. People are victimized by the silos they live in. Most have blinders. If you’re not getting your news from multiple sources, you’re missing out on huge swaths of information. Fox News people should watch MSNBC, and vice versa. And “New York Times” readers should peruse the “Wall Street Journal,” and vice versa.

8. There’s a new rock star in town, he’s Thomas Piketty, a French economist. His book came out in his native language eons ago, but it’s just been put out in English and it states…when return on capital exceeds the rate of economic growth, income inequality is the result. The book is number one on Amazon. This is the issue of our day. While “artists” keep flaunting their wealth, kissing up to corporations all the while, their audience is waking up to the fact that their future is hampered. Want long term success? Raise the difficult questions, get on the side of the people, but it’s all meaningless if you don’t have music as good as Adele, we don’t care what you’ve got to say or your charitable contribution if your music sucks. Your music is your entrance ticket, without it, you’re nothing. No one would have cared that John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than God if the band hadn’t put out “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Eight Days A Week,” none of which were social commentary.

My Birthday

I’m numb, both literally and figuratively, and not comfortably.

Mama said there’d be days like this, when the best laid plans go to waste.

Yes, plans. I have a birthday routine. Langer’s, a movie and a hot fudge sundae.

It hearkens back to ’77, when I went with my girlfriend to the aforementioned home of America’s best pastrami sandwich and then to C.C. Brown’s and “Annie Hall.” A perfect trio that I’ve repeated ever since. But not today.

So where does this story begin?

Let’s call it the Counter. The overpriced burger joint with too loud music with amazing fries and rings, it’s where I go when I’ve had a bad day and I want to reward myself, yes, some use alcohol, I use food.

And I’m biting down on a soft burger, they employ pre-made patties, which is a mistake, and…

UGH!

I’d just had my teeth cleaned. By a woman who thought she was scraping graffiti from the subway, despite labeling me an excellent flosser. And now…there was a tooth that was moving in two directions at once…IMPOSSIBLE!

So, like a good boy who was brought up by a mother who believed it was illegal to be ill, I ignored it. That’s what happens if you don’t succumb to pain, it goes away. Unless it doesn’t.

And then you end up in the hospital. That happened to me.

But maybe the hygienist just tweaked a nerve, the pain would go away, the same way the pain from LAST YEAR’S April break did.

That’s right, my teeth are crumbling. Well, cracking to be exact. After not having a cavity since my teens, being proud of my rock hard teeth, they suddenly decided to give up the ghost. I’ve sworn off trail mix, my favorite food, but still…they’re going.

So I’m in Utah a week later, and I bite down on some jerky…

I know, bad choice, but I hadn’t eaten in hours, and I feel this sensitivity.

And then I got to wonder…what if this tooth decided to announce itself in Oslo?

It didn’t.

It waited until last night, at our reunion seder, when I bit down on some salmon and…

That’s right, salmon, from Costco, soft and flaky. Suddenly, my birthday plans were in jeopardy.

To say I didn’t sleep soundly is an understatement. You’ve got to go to the dentist immediately if you have sensitivity when you drink, but I didn’t, so I didn’t pull the emergency cord, which I’m always afraid to do, afraid to be judged by the provider, hell, I’m always worried when I show up they’ll give me a hard time, claiming I’m a pussy and there’s nothing wrong.

But not this time.

I was ringing them before they were there. I wanted to get in. I wanted to save the day.

But I didn’t.

They wondered if I could come TOMORROW!

No f’ing way. I can’t EAT!

Okay, I’ll come at 4:30.

And what did I do all day?

Read, and watched the minutes tick by on my iPhone. I was in a state of suspended animation, celebrating my birthday didn’t even enter my mind.

And at first the dentist can’t find the spot. Because I think it’s a tooth that had previous work, it all made sense to me, that the hygienist tweaked a preexisting condition.

But he thought differently. I had to bite down on wood twice to convince myself that another virgin tooth had decided to go.

But how deep was the crack?

This ain’t no amateur dentist. He’s not going by guesswork. He wonders if I have time to walk a few blocks to the endodontist. I’VE GOT ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, I’VE ALREADY BLOWN MY BIRTHDAY!

So I walk over to Bedford and I’m waiting and waiting and waiting, which means if nothing’s wrong I won’t have time to go back to the dentist and get the crown I crave and…

Finally I’m seen by a mad scientist who resembles no one as much as John Turturro. Someone so caught up in his work he’s giving me detail I’d only need if I went to dental school, which I love, I’m all about information.

And he dives in and says…

We’ve got to go deeper, he needs to shoot me up, and after doing this, he reaches down and removes half of my pearly white and announces that not only do I need a root canal, but probably gum surgery too.

HUH?

And how does he know this dentist anyway, he looks like he just graduated from school.

BECAUSE HE USES A MICROSCOPE!

That’s right, in the last five years there’s been a revolution in endodontics. Either you peer through the microscope or you’re history.

And I’m peeing and texting, waiting for my turn as the minutes tick by, and then I’m in a scene from “Marathon Man,” only much shorter than the last time I had a root canal. I’m running sexual fantasies in my brain, trying to distract myself from the droning of the drill, and then…it’s done.

So I’ve got an appointment at the dentist tomorrow at 9 AM, to see if he can execute a crown or whether I need that aforementioned gum surgery first, since the tooth broke below the line.

And I’m wondering how life plays out…

Is this my future?

I mean I can bang the bumps on the South Rim no problem, but body parts I never think about are saying NO MAS and my best laid plans are jumping the rails.

So, I want to thank all the people who e-mailed, called, tweeted and texted me birthday wishes, I truly appreciate it.

But it hasn’t been a very happy birthday.

But I’m afraid of appearing ungrateful, not responding.

So let the foregoing be my explanation, my excuse.

P.S. The endodontist told me to tell anybody who said I had a big mouth that I didn’t, he’d been inside, he could testify… And I didn’t even tell him I was a writer!

P.P.S. The endodontist told me twice that it was an EMERGENCY! And he doubted if I’d come in a month earlier, when I first felt the pain, that the result would have been any different. So, I guess that’s my big birthday gift…JUSTIFICATION!

Gotta Get To Know You

Gotta Get To Know You – Spotify

Gotta Get To Know You – YouTube

And this is why algorithms will never replace deejays…

I just got an e-mail from Mike Marrone, of Sirius XM’s Loft, he sent me a track from Foghat’s debut LP that immediately took me to a zone wherein I felt fuzzy all over.

And I’d never ever heard it. Even though Mike figured I had.

That’s the thing about music, it may be recorded in 1′s and 0′s, but it can’t be quantified, it’s something you feel, that changes your life.

And it doesn’t matter if you drop the needle or push play, whether it’s rendered on a $50,000 stereo or comes out of the single speaker in your Chevy, the essence maintains.

Lonesome Dave is singing about getting to know a woman, but what we’ve gotta get to know are numbers like this, lurking on YouTube, buried on Spotify, just waiting for someone to point us to them, not because they want to profit from the exchange, but because they want the payment of the joy they see on our face when we finally listen.

Why is “Gotta Get To Know You” so fantastic?

Because of the MOOD!

That’s why we sat in front of our stereos, why we wanted to pull back the foam on our JBLs and climb inside, because we wanted to merge with this sound, we wanted to be taken away to a fantasyland where we were immersed in warm honey, floating down a river of dreams.

And this is not the kind of stuff you can build by committee. It’s got to emanate from a core of like-minded individuals who pour their hearts into a groove, thrilled that they’re making this music.

Just as much as we’re thrilled to be listening to it.

So, take your eyes off of Katy Perry, get your head out of the Sahara Tent, put down your smartphone and slow down for an ethereal ride inside your own brain. Isn’t that what the Moody Blues sang about, not having to leave your own home, your own mind, to go on an amazing journey?

Yes, “Gotta Get To Know You” is an album cut. Its sound hooks you instantly, but the reward comes in playing it to its conclusion, and then listening once again, not because it’s being trumpeted by the media but because your best friend told you to check it out, because you stumbled upon it at the end of an LP.

Once upon a time, this exquisite number would have been dead and gone, only remembered by the few who heard it the first time around.

But now, through the magic of the Internet, it’s right here for all to enjoy, to be transported to a land where TV and movies don’t matter, where your only desire is to tell everybody you know…LISTEN TO THIS!

But not until you’ve spun it so much it’s bonded with your DNA.

“Gotta Get To Know You” is subtle. There’s no guest rapper. It’s got no superfluous instrumentation. It’s fully-formed, it’s genius on wax, it needs no remixing, no release of stems so fans can place their stamp, it’s sealed, listening to it is like stumbling upon the Dead Sea Scrolls, an artifact from the past.

And Lonesome Dave is long gone. Rod Price too. They’re not going to know you played this. Their heirs are not going to profit handsomely, hell, they didn’t even write it. But money is not what music is about. Cash is just a byproduct. The jism on the sheets that Gene Simmons keeps pointing to that really doesn’t matter.

Because it’s about the experience, whether it be coming or listening to music, it’s what it feels like during, not what you’re left with after.

And these land mines are all over the Web, throughout music history, just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t.

We just need someone to point us to them.

Thank god Mike Marrone pointed this one to me!

Young/Old

YOUNG

Are friendly, they’ll talk to anybody.

OLD

Won’t talk to anybody they don’t know.

YOUNG

Believe they’re all in it together.

OLD

Are all about status. They want everybody to know they’re better than they are and will pony up for VIP access or anything that separates them from the hoi polloi, especially if it’s visible.

YOUNG

Go to the gig to have a good time, it’s about hanging with your friends, known and unknown, it’s a license to party.

OLD

Go to the gig to hear the band. They know at least a few songs, if not all of them, unless, of course, they got the tickets through Goldstar or another discount operation…old people love a deal, they’ll sit through almost anything if it’s cheap enough.

YOUNG

Don’t remember a day when hats were not cool.

OLD

Some will wear hats, a bunch still will not, other than baseball caps, they still remember Kennedy being inaugurated sans chapeau, or the influence thereof.

YOUNG

Love to dress up, Halloween was always a national holiday to them, they’re unafraid of looking stupid.

OLD

Will dress up on occasion, but are too inhibited to look stupid.

YOUNG

Let their freak flags fly. If you’re odd, you can still be included.

OLD

Don’t want to be the victim of derision. They’re judging their brethren all the time. They haven’t seen each other as equal since Woodstock.

YOUNG

Are optimistic.

OLD

Are pessimistic.

YOUNG

Are laissez-faire, they believe life will work out.

OLD

Are afraid if they don’t pay attention, they’re gonna get screwed, they’re always afraid of getting screwed.

YOUNG

Want a photo.

OLD

Want an autograph.

YOUNG

See marijuana as part of the culture.

OLD

Still see marijuana as cool.

YOUNG

Don’t need a fancy car, if they need a car at all. They want to go places, but they’re willing to use every mode of transportation, from the bus to the plane.

OLD

See a car as a status item. They’ve got to have one and most keep theirs in good shape, they believe their auto is a reflection of their identity.

YOUNG

Want to travel.

OLD

Want to stay put.

YOUNG

Need to be there.

OLD

Don’t need to be anywhere, unless it confers status upon them, they’d rather stay home and watch television than go to the gig.

YOUNG

Listen to all kinds of music.

OLD

Only listen to the music they already know.

YOUNG

Will live with a broken cell phone screen, but they upgrade their handset as soon as they’re eligible.

OLD

Get their broken screen replaced, and are not eager to replace their handset.

YOUNG

Think that money comes and goes.

OLD

Think if you don’t hold on to the money you’ve got, you’re gonna run out in the future and they fear being destitute.

YOUNG

Smile.

OLD

Scowl.

YOUNG

Don’t talk much politics, they see the parties as similar and controlled by corporations. They see politics as “other.”

OLD

Talk politics all the time. They think they can make a difference. And they’re very busy protecting what they’ve got, irrelevant of whether this will negatively impact someone else.

YOUNG

Believe if you skip the dentist your teeth will be okay, that accidents will happen, but generally they’re invulnerable, and if they get hurt, they’ll heal.

OLD

Only skip the dentist or doctor if they can’t afford it. They shy away from activities for fear they’ll get hurt, worrying they’ll never heal.

YOUNG

Think they know everything, at least everything necessary to live.

OLD

Are so much wiser than the young, but the young won’t listen to them.

YOUNG

Don’t want to be old.

OLD

Are dying to be young.