Cycle

Cycle: (n) any long period of years; age. 

I am not sure if I am offering an observation or a musing.

Just so you’ll know the difference—at least in my mind—an observation is something that has occurred enough times that it causes me to believe there is a trend.

A musing is an action which may have only happened once but foretells a cycle of change.

All that being said (and offering way too much information) I want to put forth the observation (or the musing) that even though we contend that “everything old is new again,” I have begun to notice that fads and tendencies may return, but seem to possess less vigorous authenticity.

In this way, I think the human race is threatening its own demise.

It is not because we fall into repetition, but rather, because each generation loses a degree of passion in chasing the possibility.

I see people wearing bell-bottoms and tie-dye shirts much like the apparel of my friends from my comin’-up years. But rather than holding up signs against war or speaking up for love and peace, they are staring at their phones, perusing a fresh vein of distraction.

When I was a young human, we recycled jazz and blues into rock and roll—but the steaminess, pain and earthy quality of the Bayou and the Delta were translated into “Hang On, Sloopy.”

I think, in our pursuit of originality without duplication of our parents, we must keep a pulse on our hearts, to ensure that we are a purposed people instead of mud-puddles reflecting a murky past.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

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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Acoustic

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acoustic: (adj.) of music or musical instruments not having electrical amplification: e.g. acoustic guitar

  • It has to be fun.
  • It has to be humble.
  • And it has to be willing to learn.

Those are the three ingredients I think are necessary to make any adventure workable, enjoyable and realistic. Whenever any group of people takes themselves so seriously that they believe they’ve arrived at the apex of all understanding or the pinnacle of all talent, they are obnoxious and in some ways, dangerous.

This is true of musicians.

Music, which was meant to be a heartfelt explosion of joy, intimacy and emotion, has become, God forbid, a craft. And as craftsmen, we sit around and discuss the subtleties of the use of particular implementations which hold our delicate treasures together.

Thus the word acoustic.

So the rock band, which was once willing to admit “they only knew four chords and that’s why their music sounded the way it did,” pretentiously now does a documentary film, sharing their music acoustically instead of using electronic assistance. We’re supposed to stand back in awe of these cave men, who have discovered that there is some little world outside their enclosure, and mull over their genius simply because … “they’ve unplugged.”

I love music.

  • Music was God’s way of saying life should be tuneful.
  • Music was God’s apology for conversation.
  • And music is our way of expressing ourselves without insisting that the whole room listen to us pontificate.

So we should HUMBLY pursue it, realizing our limitations and ceasing to make excuses for our frequent bobbles.

But instead, we proclaim some people who compose to be “masters,” and everyone else mere “minstrels.”

So rather than enjoying the fact that other people have picked up our instrument and exceeded our efforts, we instead attempt to tear them down because they are not purists and don’t honor the traditions of syncopation or structure.

YUK.

I don’t care if you rock, jazz, square dance, hillbilly, rap or insist on Mozart. Be humble about it and have some fun. You’re not a better musician because you play an acoustic guitar instead of an electric one. It’s not a better auditorium because it’s acoustically adjusted to the high A-sharp on the first violin.

It’s supposed to be joyful. “A joyful noise”–remember that? So unless you plan on giggling and dancing, don’t come my way.

Acoustic set.

Somebody needs to take off the rubber nose and the big floppy shoes.

Aboral

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Aboral: (adj.) relating to or denoting the side or end that is furthest from the mouth, especially in animals that lack clear upper and lower sides, such as echinoderms.

I don’t know why this word made me think about the Mississippi River. I stopped worrying about the weird tendency of my mind to leap to bizarre inclinations years ago, and have chosen to believe it a virtue rather than a vice.

But the Mississippi River has a mouth. It’s somewhere up there in Minnesota, among those stoic German-Lutheran folk, who would certainly be willing to be the “salt of the earth” if their doctors had not told them to avoid too much sodium.

But the further you get away from the mouth, the less German and Lutheran the Mississippi River becomes. It winds its way through the heartland, flirting with Illinois, kissing up to St. Louis, where it throws a quick wave at the Gateway Arch, careens down through Memphis, listening to jazz and smelling the barbecue, but also remembering some of the tragedies, such as the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Having started at its mouth, it now gets deeper into its aboral quest, as it swims its way through the south, landing at a very un-Minnesota-like destination, of New Orleans. Desiring international credibility, it eventually dumps itself into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is a flow of water which separates this country from east to west. Yes, east of the Mississippi live most of the population, insisting they prefer wide-open spaces, while clumping together like year-old peanut brittle. West of the Mississippi, there are regions that appear to be still available for marauding buffalo and Native American tribes.

The Mississippi River is a divider without being divisive. It does something that nobody seems to be capable of achieving–dribbling from one culture to another without preconceived ideas or bigotry. As it goes from its mouth to more aboral locations, it wiggles through accents, belief systems, cultures and states with ease and comfort–absent favoritism.

It is a citizen of both Minnesota and Mardi Gras, without apology.

I’m not so sure if those at the mouth would approve of the aboral destination of the river. But the river does not ask permission. It has learned a valuable lesson:

Go with the flow.