Boston

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston you’re my home

But it’s not. But it was my mother’s. She grew up in Peabody. Which is not pronounced like Mr. Peabody and his Pet Boy Sherman, but Pea-BUDDY! Kinda like San Pedro if you live in SoCal. Outsiders would pronounce it in Spanish, but locals know it’s San PEEDRO!

So I’ve spent a lot of time here, but not recently. The Salem Witch House, the Salem Willows, candlepin bowling…they’re in my blood. Along with blueberry muffins from Jordan Marsh. That’s what too many bakeries get wrong today, the ratio of fruit to muffin, it must be HIGH!

So I left Dublin at the crack of dawn and just got here. Why is it there’s always something broken on airplanes. The divider between Felice and myself wouldn’t go down, and her seat was wet, and when you’re paying beaucoup bucks you feel ripped off. But the truth is the world is really small. I used to luxuriate in long plane flights, reading, I never buy the wifi. But the respite is just not long enough to disengage. And I flew through Chicago which makes no sense, I know, but the airfare game is a riddle wrapped in an enigma and I was waiting for my flight back east and…

A guy started hassling me. First he told me the flight wasn’t boarding and then he kept refusing to let me on the plane. I was Group 1, I may have been jumping the gun, but he was a self-appointed cop keeping me in line. And it was then that I realized…

I was dealing with east coast people.

Yes, it’s one nation, with mostly one language, but the people are oh-so-different. You don’t do this on the west coast, you don’t get in people’s business, you lay back, you’re mellow, of course there are exceptions, but California is all about live and let live, so now I understand the divisions in our nation better. I actually asked this guy why he had a problem with me, he didn’t respond. And I realized how people got in fights and got kicked off planes. I held myself back, I wasn’t going to play his game, and then I peered over at his ticket and freaked out that he might be sitting next to me, but he wasn’t, and I didn’t let it bother me, which kinda shocks me, which is all to say THIS is why I live in California. I moved because of the Beach Boys, because of sixties television, but I didn’t realize I was going to a place where where you went to college and what your parents did for a living didn’t matter. Hell, nobody even knew what Middlebury College was until they shouted down Charles Murray, and that was fine with me, if you want to get ahead in Los Angeles have a good rap, get a good look, an education is secondary.

And the beefy guy next to me was watching a movie on his iPad Pro smudged with fingerprints, eating the carbs, but it wasn’t until we were ready to exit that I noticed the MLB tag on his backpack. I Googled him, turns out he’s an umpire, Mark Carlson, here to officiate at the Red Sox game. Now I’m not saying I used to know all the umps, but at this point I don’t even know most of the players. Sure, some people do. But baseball used to be everything to me and now it’s just another diversion. I still love the game, but I loved it more when I still played, I felt embedded in the culture. And then I realized nothing’s that big anymore these days, everything’s a sideshow.

And when I got to Boston the baggage belt was creaking up a storm, and it made me think of infrastructure, how we have to invest, how we have to pay taxes to keep up our country. And then I could hear in my brain the people saying money is wasted. And I know, erect any edifice and there is waste, but does that mean we have to stop all construction?

Seems so.

Which gets to politics, the sports of today. With the teams and the cheating and the desire to get revenge. I just read a statistic that most people were against the confirmation of Kavanaugh, but that game has been played, there is no instant replay in politics.

And I’m scrolling on my phone. Stay in the air for a day and you’re convinced you’ve missed something, and sometimes you have, but not today. Yesterday the stock market crashed, today it rebounded. And everybody‚Äôs on Twitter giving their take, that’s the world we now live in, everybody gets to speak but nobody listens. Makes you want to move to Alaska and live off the grid, at least before the polar ice caps melt and we’re all swept away. That’s another thing, now hurricanes are like school shootings, we’ve seen too many of them, now they happen and we shrug our shoulders.

Not that Logan is decaying, the airport was pretty modern. But it was hard to figure out some of the signs. And when I ultimately made it to the Uber stop it was loaded with people. And I texted my driver exactly where I was and then he called me and…

I couldn’t understand him. I mean there’s so much noise and he’s got such an accent and now I have to be weary of appearing racist, it’s just that it’s funny that so many Uber drivers are now the old taxi drivers, doing it for a living. And for those who say I should take Lyft… I find Uber arrives faster, but that’s not the point, boycotting Uber is like boycotting In-N-Out, which cannot be done, even though left wing politicians in California tried. And at least these Uber drivers have a gig, I saw so many people sleeping on the street in Dublin, it looked like Santa Monica, is this how our world has evolved, where the left behind are ignored? They lift people off the streets in tech-laden India and we keep putting them down in the western world.

And sitting in the tunnel, where I had signal, I read about Lindsey Buckingham’s suit against Fleetwood Mac. Aren’t bands gangs? And if you act atrociously they kick you out? Lindsey’s quoting California partnership law and I’m laughing, weren’t the acts supposed to exist outside the system, be an antidote thereto? But that was before money triumphed over message. That’s what everybody in the arts today says…WHERE’S MY MONEY? As if they’re entitled to get paid, as if there’s federal welfare for musicians. Certainly not in the good old USA, where some of the musicians are now fascists anyway, hell, I hear from them.

And then sitting in traffic the buildings started to look familiar. And I was wondering whether it was a trick, but it turned out my orientation was correct. To my right was Myles Standish Hall, where my sister lived during her freshman year at BU. But they’d given the building a cleaning, it looked nearly new, I wonder if it’s still a dump inside.

And then that record store on the corner, in Kenmore Square, what was it called, “New England Music City”? Where I bought “Mad Dogs & Englishmen.” It’s gone, it’s something else now. And no one would ever know.

Actually, Boston’s been spiffed-up. All of America has been. The changes are palpable if you were around back then. No one flew on a whim. Now people fly to sporting contests, or concerts, and think not a whit about it. And there was bad food everywhere, you ate a boiled hot dog on a spongy bun. But now you expect gourmet options wherever you go.

And I’m reading about the television wars on my phone. How AT&T is now gonna compete with Netflix, Wal-Mart too. Used to be we had our favorite bands, now we’ve got our favorite TV distributors! And Netflix is rock in an age of soporific pop. We thought it was HBO, but that was just a harbinger. Netflix doubled-down. Invested. Caught everybody unawares. Hell, they just bought a studio in New Mexico. Who wants to work in New Mexico?

Can I say that?

On one side we have people who can say anything, insult and tell lies.

On the other, one that issues trigger warnings, is so busy protecting special interests that it hobbles itself.

And I’m thinking about what Bob Geldof said, how rock infected us, was everything. Even music isn’t everything these days, everybody’s a hero on social media, fighting for attention.

And those in the business, the fans, keep expecting music to triumph once again. As if it’s entitled. But I’m not sure. Mariah Carey broke nearly thirty years ago, that’s how long vapidity has lasted. And we’ve got Kanye West self-destructing right in front of our eyes. This guy is absolutely bipolar and is denying it, now saying he was just “sleep-deprived.” But the truth is bipolar people hate taking the meds, because they miss the highs. That’s what Kanye’s on right now, a high. That’s where all the EPs came from, the SNL rant, the Trump appearance. But rather than labeling him sick and having sympathy we’re just watching the show, waiting to see what’s next, we’re not that far different from the Romans, when Kanye jumps out a window it’ll be like Christians being fed to the lions in the Colosseum.

Then again, the antics, the penumbra, are much more compelling than the music.

And the rants, about being a genius, about inventing a new plane…

Then again, today Elon Musk announced Teslaquila, and it doesn’t seem to be a joke.

As Felice’s father used to say, it’s a Barnum & Bailey world.

Then again, the circus is gone now too!

Bob Geldof

The best story was playing Boggle with Barbra Streisand and Gregory Peck.

Or maybe it was getting a call from the Pope, after telling a Cardinal how to deal with the Russians.

Not that Bob was boasting, but this is is his life.

I was worried, that he’d be irascible and withholding…ANYTHING BUT!

First he came into the dressing room and was so charismatic and conversational I kept telling him he had to stop, to save it for the stage. Talking about being a Boy Scout and going to Lourdes, his very first plane trip. And being excluded from going to the World Jamboree in Seattle. You see some people are square pegs who never fit into the round hole. Geldof was the guy who wouldn’t conform, who questioned authority, and people beholden to hierarchy don’t like that.

And despite being a force of nature, Bob doesn’t see himself that way. Which is always strange, one’s own perception of oneself. I think Bob would make it no matter what he chose to do, he thinks he was lucky…after his mother died when he was so young that he doesn’t remember her and he was raised by his older sisters while his father was a traveling salesman, gone from Monday to Friday. That’s one of the main things he got from his dad, how to pack, he never checks luggage, and insists that those with him don’t either.

So he goes to boarding school and hates it. Picks up a guitar and loves it and…

Here is where we’ve got to get to the philosophizing thing. Bob’s a great philosopher, with a take on everything. Especially the importance and impact of rock music back when. Seeing it as a thread he grabbed on to that saved his life, gave him direction, made him who he was. It doesn’t do that anymore, his words, not mine, although I agree, and they don’t make them like Bob anymore.

Bob is BRILLIANT! Better informed with better analysis than most of the people running our country. Oh, by the way, he thinks Trump will get reelected, because the economy is burgeoning, although the stock market did slide yesterday, and that the rest of the world is beholden to the States, they always were, but now it’s obvious. It’s because of the dollar. It can’t tank, or else the whole world will.

And thus begins an endless take on world politics. You’ll be stunned and your head will spin as you listen. How often do you get an educated, unfiltered opinion about what’s going on? Most people don’t know, and those who do won’t tell you. And Bob has access… I don’t know anybody like this in the music business, I asked Bob who he talked to, what musicians other than the obvious could even discuss these issues. One he said was Jon Bon Jovi, which caught me off guard, since Bon Jovi only went on the record when he was angry at his record company, maybe he needs to lead.

Which today’s musicians don’t.

And Bob is anti-Spotify and won’t use a smartphone because it’s insecure, so the longer you talk with him the more you realize that maybe not everything he says is correct, but you’re wowed in the process, bowled over, this is a guy who leads.

Even though he’s not eager to be a leader.

Then again, did you see his screed against Brexit, how it was gonna negatively impact musicians? He walked me through how he got people to sign it, needing acts from every era. Not that he thinks it’ll have an impact. He thinks first and foremost Britain is a FEELING, and people feel they’ve sacrificed it. But Britain is a wedge and a referee between Germany and France, and if Britain pulls out of the EU, not only is it bad for Britain, it’s bad for the world, trade keeps the world safe.

Actually, I read an analysis of this in the WaPo the other day. The writer said Trump might think he’s winning in his war with China over trade, but the writer said that when a country is crippled in trade, they often turn to war. And Bob thinks war is coming too. And for those who lived through the past seventy years of relative prosperity, that concept is daunting.

Then again…

I think it’s the net effect of globalization. But Bob says globalization is good! And I forthrightly agree, it’s just that there was no provision for those left behind by its effects. But that’s talking to Bob, you basically concur, but he starts and he’s hard to interrupt and you have a hard time telling him it’s the nuances that you disagree with. Like Bob says the problem is social media, we used to get our messages from records, of which there was not an overwhelming number, but now everything gets lost in the shuffle. I wholeheartedly agree, but I mention that this started with the public, with Napster, they dictate and we follow. Spotify is trying to herd the cats.

So you put a dime in the jukebox and Bob goes on, lengthily. We could have talked for ten hours. About Irish history, the power of rock, the world today… And you want to hear it all, he’s fascinating and charming.

And when we went for drinks later, he let his hair down. He poked fun at himself. He ain’t easy to live with, as Don Henley once sang, but it’s one of the things you’ve got to love about him, they broke the mold, there’s not another like him.

As he plies the boards today, on tour. I asked him whether he was selling nostalgia, but he said no, it was about the performance, the energy, what everybody was wrapped up in is brand new, even though it’s based on the old.

Not that he’s got any illusion he can top the charts once again. Hell, he didn’t want the reformed Rats to make another record, but his bandmates said that’s what a band does, so they did. He’s excited about it.

So on one hand Bob can tell stories from the past, but he’s not living in it.

Oh, and what you think are taboo subjects, that have been combed over ad infinitum? He’s got no problem talking about Band Aid and Live Aid, telling insider stories I’m not gonna repeat here, they’re his, but when I run into you….

Dublin Day Three

I just had the best chocolate souffle of my life. McGuinness recommended the restaurant, Chapter One, it has a Michelin star, not that that was the reason we went there.

I’m all wired up. After said souffle, and some additional chocolate, which doesn’t sit so well with the aged, and I’m one of them, I journeyed to do hype for my Geldof appearance with Tom Dunne at Newstalk radio, I thought it was a fish out of water story, you know, Californian in Ireland, pick out your favorite Irish tracks, put you on the spot kind of thing, but instead it turned out Tom was a fan and wanted to know about ME! No one ever asks me about me, so I riffed with my greatest hits and gave away a few secrets.

First it must be entertaining. That’s the first rule of show business, ignored by so many.

Kinda like all those articles forwarded to me all day long. Maybe a good topic, but dreadful writing, and therefore I don’t read, I CAN’T READ!

And I was hotter when I walked in the door of the hotel room, but I was giving Felice a post mortem and the inspiration started to drift away. Ah, being an artist, you’ve got to strike when the iron is hot, capture the moment, the zeitgeist, otherwise you miss the mark. I know, I know, some people do it the other way, but not me! “Satisfaction” came to Keith Richards in a dream! If I hear one more person tell me writing is rewriting I’m gonna puke. That means they go over it so many times it no longer resembles normal speech, they’re trying to impress cognoscenti who don’t care. Remember this, who were the biggest acts of the last twenty years? Adele, *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. All with good vocals and singable songs. That’s the music business for you, so up its own ass that it takes an outsider like Lou Pearlman to teach it some lessons. We’ve gotten so far from the garden we don’t even know how to grow things anymore. All we keep hearing is disinformation, you don’t get it, it’s not for you, you’ve got to listen to it a dozen times, IT’S MUSIC, when done right it resonates, with almost everybody, when done wrong…oh, we specialize in doing it wrong.

So today we went up the country. Or down the country. To the mountains, to the moors, to see peat. Pretty cool actually. Although I must say I got sleepy on the ride home, the Irish music blasting through the speakers, the tour done. The coach was driven by John who also narrated. He grew up in a family of nine, after dropping out of school at 13 he drove “articulated” trucks all over the U.K. and Europe until he found this gig, his favorite of all time. Made me wonder, how does everybody survive. How you choose a path without realizing it. Like those people in college who needed to get good grades to get into a good graduate school, I couldn’t do that anymore. But at least I’m in a field where education is irrelevant, in music it’s who you are, it’s unquantifiable, it’s a free-for-all, which is why it never gets any respect, which is fine with me.

So this was where they filmed “Braveheart.” The driver kept on going on about this flick “P.S. I Love You,” which neither Felice nor myself had ever viewed, but that’s modern society, where there are no points of reference.

And the tour guides at the prison and the Little Museum of Dublin, they were good, but what is it like doing the same thing every day? That’s the funny thing about life, you can choose to be happy or choose to be rich, and usually those are not the same thing/path. I keep vacillating, I know what rich is, but I want to be happy. Right now happy is winning, but I vacillate. Then again, tech and finance are interesting from the outside, but on the inside, they’re drudgery, I can never imagine doing them all day, and right now I’m at the peak of my career, but I endured so many hardships, not that anybody believes that, but that’s America, where the goal is to prove you’re poorer than the next. If that’s your goal, you’re missing the plot.

And Chapter One was not cheap. Actually, it’s the extras that made it expensive. And of the four courses, the two in the middle were nothing to write home about. But the starter and the dessert, whew!

I began with “Japanese tapioca, St. Tola, Ballyhoura mushroom, leek.”
Don’t ask me to explain it, but the texture was incredible. Like eating soft-boiled ball bearings floating in gelatin. And uber tasty.

As for that souffle…

It was billed as “64% chocolate souffle, tobacco & lime ice cream.”

And I can’t tell you I could truly taste the tobacco. But this is the first souffle I’ve ever had that wasn’t runny. Sure, the inside was molten lava, but the exterior was firm, I ate the whole damn thing, as you do when you’re on vacation.

As for Paul McGuinness, he’s in the South of France producing season two of “Riviera,” he just told me you can see season one on Sundance Now. But the point is, McGuinness parted ways with U2 and continues to be successful, he’s doing something new whereas U2 retreated into the past. That’s what a successful manager does, no act ever made it without a good one. They usher projects to fruition, they make it happen, and they don’t teach that in school.

And they’re uncontrollable, they can never work for the man, THEY ARE THE MAN!

That’s what made the music business great, the outsiders.

That’s why tech is hobbled, you can start it, but either the FANG brothers will buy you or compete with you and put you out of business, unlike Fleetwood Mac you cannot go your own way. And it’s tough to go your own way in music, the labels are all run by people with no skin in the game, they’re managers, not entrepreneurs, and they wield their catalogs to carve out their pound of flesh, maybe two pounds. And some people sit at home and cry that the game is rigged and the odds are stacked against them. But you can win, it’s getting better for you. Terrestrial radio is fading, you can sign directly to Spotify. Assuming you want to jump off the cliff and do it your own way, without whining.

Maybe something is coming.

Then again, maybe not.

Graham Gouldman-Sirius XM TODAY!

That’s right, Mr. 10cc. The man who also wrote “For Your Love,” “Heart Full Of Soul,” Look Through Any Window,” “Bus Stop,” “No Milk Today,” “Listen People”…

He’s on the road with Ringo, actually, he just finished, and when in L.A., we sat down at the mic and I got his story. An only child, writing songs with his dad, being a songwriter for hire and then ultimately joining the gang at Strawberry Studios and becoming a member of the aforementioned 10cc.

“Wall Street Shuffle” is just as accurate as the day it was written.

“I’m Not In Love” is legendary.

And “The Things We Do For Love” is the definition of ear candy, with an indelible bridge.

Graham is a mensch who revealed his history. TUNE IN!

7 PM East, 4 PM West, Volume 106