Decal

Decal: (n) a specially prepared paper bearing a design for transfer to wood, metal, glass, etc.

 The extra-large was not quite big enough.

It was the story of my adolescent life.

I was always just a little bigger than the size chart proposed, and the clothes-makers made available.

But the guys in the group had their hearts set on these bright yellow-gold, open-front sweaters that we could wear onstage whenever we actually found ourselves onstage, playing our music.

Like most high school bands, we talked and planned more than we set up and performed.

We practiced twice a week—for no gigs.

And every once in a while, we got the itch to buy a stage outfit—for no stages.

I had to admit that the sweater was absolutely one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in my life. It looked great on everybody else—whose bodies aligned in the righteous station of normal.

But it was small on me.

I didn’t care.

I decided to buy it along with the rest of my friends.

And suddenly we were the possessors of the coolest outfit to wear if a stage were ever made available.

Black pants. Black banlon turtlenecks. Gold sweaters.

A mother of one of the guys suggested that we needed some sort of decal on the sweater to set it apart as unique to us.

We didn’t know exactly what she meant, but we nodded in respect. Sensing our confusion, she gathered up the sweaters and said, “Give me a week and I’ll give you a surprise.”

We had no capacity to object.

Two weeks later, she handed us back our golden sweaters—except on the top left panel, near the shoulder, there was a B and a Q decal, which she had embroidered into the cloth.

Since we were called “The Blessings Quartet” it was pretty cool.

Actually, we were all shocked at how neat it looked and how groovy it was, considering it had been made by an adult.

It did not make my sweater fit better.

But to this day I believe that we started getting opportunities to perform because word of our gorgeous sweaters, with the decal, quickly spread throughout the surrounding masses.

 

Combo

Combo: (n) a small jazz, rock, or pop band.

Being clever is similar to setting a bear trap down in a room full of balloons. It is so easy to spring the trap and bust all your balloons of hope.

In my early years I had a music group and was desperately trying to promote us–at least to the point that I could make enough “jack” to pay for “Jill.”

Money was rare.

Now, opportunities and gigs seemed to pop up everywhere–but when the subject of remuneration was suggested, there were offers of free coffee, “help yourself
to the day-old pastry,” or “we have a garage where you can sleep overnight.”

I knew I needed to do something drastic to set our group apart from the rest of the marauding musicians trying to fend for the single crust of bread, so I put together a damn good press release.

Now, wait.

Understand–this was an era when bands did not advertise themselves via printed material, but rather, through audition tapes or live performances.

I got a great picture of us, looking our cutest (and surliest) and attached our release. One of the things I discovered in writing the piece was that if you’re constructing a great article, it should not repeat words.

I kept landing on the word “group.” “Group?” “GROUP!”

So thinking myself extremely clever, I went to the Thesaurus and looked for different words to communicate the idea “group.”

One of those was “combo.”

I was ecstatic. The word sounded good to me, so I stuck it in the press release a couple of times and sent it off.

I noticed when I started calling places back to see if they wanted to schedule us based on our fine piece of promotional material, the proprietors would grumble, “We’re not interested in a jazz thing.”

I tried to explain that we weren’t jazz, but by that time they had hung up the phone and I was left standing, listening to the dial tone of the day.

Finally, one of the gentlemen I called suggested a nightclub down the street that specialized in jazz.

I squeezed in my question. “We’re not a jazz group. Where did you get the idea we played jazz?”

“Really?” he said. “Your article said you were a combo, and I never heard of any band calling themselves a combo unless they were jazz.”

I wanted to tell him about my journey through the “prehistoric thesaurus,” but instead, I went back to my creation and removed the word “combo.”

Needing to replace it, I inserted “adventurers.”

 

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Albuquerque

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Albuquerque: city in central New Mexico on the Rio Grande, pop 448,607. It is the largest city in the state.

A plan is when we attempt to connect two things which seem to be related, but after we’ve made our agenda, they end up surprising us with unknowns.

That’s why we’re so funny. Human beings are determined to put life in order when the experience of living was never meant to be orderly.  It happened to me in California about five years ago.

I needed to get across the country–to Nashville, Tennessee–in about seven days. I decided to schedule some gigs along the way, to break up my journey, meet new people, and of course, cover some expenses. Sitting right along the main route was a town called Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • It was perfectly placed.
  • It was perfectly timed with my driving concept.
  • It was perfect.

What made it even more special was the fact that I quickly discovered someone eager to have me and my traveling buddy come in and put on a show. It was one of those junctures in life that we call “ordained, blessed, miraculous, destined, or unbelievable.”

I was going their way, they were coming my way, things were going to be wonderful, and I would end up with a stop off in Albuquerque with the potential for memorable, if not eternal, consequences.

Arriving at the venue, I did my setup, went backstage to my green room, and emerging at the hour of showtime, discovered there were four people in the audience. Apparently the populace of Albuquerque had not been sufficiently cued in to the amazing nature of this well-conceived plan. So what started out to be an inspiring notion, with earthly possibilities and heavenly overtones, ended up being an evening for six, with clever–though it be awkward–conversation.

Albuquerque taught me a lot.

You can plan until your planning seems to be immaculately conceived by an overshadowing spirit, but when you get down to it, human beings don’t really care about either your organization or even your feelings.

We are selfish–which is no problem at all … as long as we remind ourselves of it.