sclogo.JPG (10242 bytes)  Musician's Diary 2000  back
sbportrait2.jpg (10308 bytes)


Jump to a specific date this week

Monday January 3 
Tuesday January 4
Wednesday January 5 
Thursday January 6
Friday January 7
Saturday January 8
Sunday January 9

Previous weeks   

fourth week of December 1999 
third week of December 1999 
second week of December 1999 
first week of December 1999 
fourth week of November 1999
at-a distance diary, Oct-Nov 1999 


Monday January 3

Monday's diary is being written on Tuesday evening.  Monday was my first day back at MS after a long break.  Holiday inertia combined with one thousand details made for a longish day.  

Nothing interesting to report except that the december reorg is not over yet.  On second thought, that's not interesting either.  

In the late afternoon, I went to visit Sanford, who is suffering from a broken L4 vertebrae and a dislocated rib.  Seems he had a small paragliding mishap resulting in an 80-foot drop to the ground.  He is in good spirits and ready to fly again in the spring.

During the day, I made it through only half of my MS mail.  But this is a beginning. 

I also picked up my guitar on Monday for the first time since I was in Atlanta, and realized after about 10 minutes of gentle practice that the football injury I suffered with my young nephews is worse than I thought.   I can barely hold my left arm in it's normal guitar position for more than a few minutes before there is shooting pain in three places.   

Although I was looking forward to kicking off the new year with our fist SGC rehearsal, at 8:45pm I called Jaxie and Curt and called in 'sick' for rehearsal.  

Tuesday: time to get some x-rays and find out what is going on. 

* * *

Tuesday January 4

I began the day looking into my left arm problems and walking out of the doc-office with a small hand-sling and some scribbling on some small white papers.  The good news: nothing broken as far as we know.  

The bad news: a "sprained" arm and vague instructions to take it easy.   Also prescriptions for ibuprofen and some kind of mind-altering pain killer.   

Even without these, typing is not a problem -- it only really hurts during activities where I have to turn my forearm toward the ceiling -- such as playing the guitar.  

We'll see how long this lasts.   

It may be that daily trips to the health club will become necessary again.   Since my back pain all but disappeared a few months ago (via three intense months of Rolfing and daily PT sessions) it seems I  have forgotten how to not be a complete idiot with my body.

* * *

I finally called Hernan today after a few weeks of email tag.  I spent most of what would have been my lunch hour catching up on current and future activities in Germany and Argentina.  

The bad news:  yesterday was Herni's birthday, and he was carrying a Rhodes piano up some stairs for his daughters and heard something go "pop" in his spine. Today he is flat on his back in bed and he has delayed his travel to the GC project that is about to begin in Alfeld, Germany. 

Toward the end of the conversation, Herni asked me if I had plans to come to Buenos Aires for the upcoming spring Level One Guitar Craft course.  

I said no.

Although I would love to be there and to go back to Argentina this year, now is not the time.  The opportunity cost would be too high.  At least one more year of Local Immobile work is in my cards.  But eventually, I hope to return to Argentina to work and play for some extended periods and to build on the three years of investments I have made there.

* * *

Some goodies from the email bag recently:

~ email from Paul Richards about an idea for a potential Glob-Mob show in Seattle in the fall of 2000.

~ Curt forwarded a link to the hilarious diaries of Norbert Fragg.  Amongst the immense web diary hoopla going on right now, I have at least one  recommendation: don't miss these.  

~ a kind and generous email from Sid Smith; rather than paraphrase, perhaps best to just publish it here:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Sid Smith 
To: Steve Ball 
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 5:50 AM
Subject: Hi there SB !

Hi there Steve Ball

A big, big thank you for the wonderful CD's and the seasonal greetings - it was a lovely surprise. In your card you ask what I'm currently doing. Well, in the day time I'm the manager of the Arts and Service for a local authority - so if the Gauchos or whichever project are ever touring the UK be sure to let me know as we have a small theatre.

I think the Guitar circle CD is quite beautiful but I have to say that Greenthumb is currently occupying most of the Smith CD playing time. I love that version of Back In New York city.

In your notes you talk about having been fascinated with the notion of a voice against Crafty type playing. I know what you mean. I recall being on that Seattle level one course and for one of the performances in the chapel, instead of playing guitar, I just sang. For me, that was one hell of an experience not least of all because I don't sing (or play the guitar for that matter)..."wood...wind...."

So the Greenthumb album fulfills one of my desires which was to hear voices with Crafty guitars - well done Steve !

When I'm not being a local authority officer, I'm a part - time DGM diarist. I'm working on a book about King Crimson and Robert has very kindly offered me a slot on the DGM diary page. Check it out if you have time. You'll notice that Steve Ball gets mentioned a couple of times - not least of all when I erroneously attributed the knot work on the cover of the Discipline album to you.

I also gave the the albums you sent over an honourable mention as well.

Finally - I loved the taster track from you and that man Rieflin. Swings like the clappers, so it does. Do you have an e-mail address for Bill ? I'm after a review copy of his last couple of albums.

Anyway that's it for now...keep in touch as you can....

Best wishes,


PS meant to ask you about your involvement with bootleg TV but forgot.

Sid was a complete joy on the Seattle L1 GC course a couple of years ago.  It was also a pleasure to see him in Seattle as the merch king for the ProjeKct 4 tour. For me, his diary from that tour is also one of the highlights of the P4 CD liner notes.   

The knotwork confusion is understandable, and a long story.  Someday, that story will also be told.  Not tonight.

Sorry - can't really comment on the BootlegTV rumors or specifics just yet.

* * *

Left a message with Peter Dervin this afternoon about the upcoming SGC/SBRS show on Whidbey Island.  No call back yet.   Better call him at home this evening.

Also, a nice message from Dean on my home machine, wishing me well and inviting me to dinner tonight.   Unfortunately, I ate just before I heard his message. 

Rain check?  Musicians love free food.

* * *

I had a brief conference call today with Robert, David, and Diane in the DGM office this afternoon.  

David Singleton arrives tomorrow for the official BTV kick-off on Thursday.  I'm still in low gear today, but about to be catapulted into overdrive.   Looks like Robert is coming back to Seattle for meetings at the end of January.   

Exciting times just ahead.     

* * *

If I am not mistaken, Bob, Curt, Bill and Fred Chalenor are at it right now with their first not-so-ultra-secret meeting in the rehearsal space even as I type.  I wish them well.  Bob's music is so rich and deserves to be heard in the right clothing -- I hope they can create a loud, rocking, and sustainable vehicle for Bob's sublime musical voice.  

Fred is such a great bass player, too.  

Even just Bob and Fred in a room would be more than worth checking out.  Adding Curt and Bill to the picture could create some compelling fireworks.   

It is my dream that these kinds of ongoing collaborations will become commonplace among our extended Seattle Guitar Circle community.  

* * *  

In my biased view, there are five steps in an ideal and complete process of collaboration:

write (figure out what to play)
rehearse (learn to play it well)
perform (play it well in front of people)
record (document the process)
release (share the document w/ the public)

I suppose my model for this collaboration process is informed by the slew of vinyl albums I bought in the late 70s and 80s which were essentially collaborations among the former members of Roxy Music, King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, Brand X, Talking Heads, and a small pile of other influential groups.  

When I found an album that moved me I would scan the names of the contributing musicians, and then go buy the next album I could find that featured these people.

Duh.  Pretty obvious to recognize this process in the well-established body of work of other musicians. But how to create an environment (a community) where this kind of ongoing, documented, musical collaboration can happen over a sustainable period of time?   

Exploring musical collaborations can be like playing with a chemistry set: Some combinations create heat.  Some create light.  Some combinations are downright explosive.   

Some even produce that burnt-sulfur-rotten-egg smell. 

Over time, an ongoing and attentive audience begins to recognize the particular 'flavor' contributed by each musician.  But the really interesting part is what happens when two or more flavors combine to create something that none of them could have created on their own.

* * *

I'm happy to see that Bob has initiated this process, and I can't wait to hear the results.

* * *

Wednesday January 5

Back into ultra-busy mode today.  A string of MS one-on-one, catch-up meetings all afternoon.  Grabbed a sandwich for lunch which I ate bites of between and during meetings.  Finally got the call from David Singleton at 5:15pm ~ he had landed and was at his hotel.  Quick sushi dinner then a meeting with Curt to prepare for our BTV kick-off tomorrow.  

Finally onto SGC rehearsal, plugged-in, downtown.  Spent some time setting up the PA and warming up the room.  I'll leave the details for the SGC performance team notes which I am to write this month.   As if I did not have enough to do this month.  But it's my turn.  

Also spoke to Peter Dervin this evening ~ making preparations for the Feb 4th Whidbey Island KSER benefit show promo.  Need the promo machine to begin immediately.   We have plans to meet on Saturday afternoon to go over poster and postcard designs. 

It's just before midnight now.  Still left to do:

a.) slight org chart re-org
b.) agenda modifications for morning meetings.
c.) quick mail check, two accounts
d.) answer only anything urgent
e.) write performance team journal notes
f.) brush teeth
g.) to bed, then

Message on the machine from Ingrid tonight.  I'll speak to her tomorrow.   Wondering what is up though...

Also, phone call from Erick Kahan ~ his flat panel speaker company has a presence at the consumer electronics show, and he's looking for a place in the MS booth to show off their amazing speakers.  Made a call about this this afternoon, but no news for him yet. It may be too late...   And right now, for me, it is too late to be thinking about this.

* * *

OK - one final note.  

Watched the Steve Jobs' MacWorld keynote address and OSX demos (on my PC) today.  OSX looks amazing.  The highlight: I thought I saw a shot of Seattle Beginner's Circle member and SGC sound hero, Walter Harley, in the audience of 3000 Mac developers.   

Could this be possible?  If so, hi Walter.   You looked great.  And very happy.      

* * *

Thursday January 6

Cool, overcast and drizzly in Seattle today. 

* * * 

Friday January 7

The phone rang this morning at 8am - Steve Enstad calling to check in as he moves ever closer to Seattle from his long holiday vacation.  I would like to claim that I was awake when he called.  Uh,... 

Then a few minutes after that, I received a call from some University of Illinois Alumni group trying to sell me a Platinum U of I credit card.  My standard response to these kind of unsolicited calls: "take me off of your list and do not contact me again."

* * * 

My first post shower task of the morning was to prepare press materials for the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.  I emailed copies of SGC and SBRS promo materials to WICA, cc Peter Dervin.   

Here is the SBRS promo photo:

sbrs01.jpg (47602 bytes) full size 47K

Still need to add Ingrid's photo credit for the version which gets duplicated next week.   

* * *

Following KSER press stress, I was off to MS for a longish day of a different flavor of Microstress.  The most interesting part of my MS day: I moderated a meeting between people who violently disagree with each other.  This is a mode of communication which happens at Microsoft quite regularly.  

Andy Grove mentions this style of collaboration in his book (only the paranoid survive,):  "constructive confrontation."  

Gently beat each other up to get to the best ideas.   

Mediation and translation between parties who do not see eye-to-eye or speak the same language is one of my core competencies.  

Another word for this: mediation.  

I suppose this skill comes for free with being a type 9 (in Helen Palmer terms.) 

Today, I also set about defining my new role in the Windows Shell team with my new manager.  I have a great and golden path way in front of me, should I choose to accept it.  

Ah, choices.  Debilitating, at times, are they not?  

* * * 

It feels like I made exactly one million telephone calls today: among others:  Peter Dervin, Donna Van Buren, Bill Van Buren, Bill Rieflin, Sally Patterson, Mark Long, Steve Enstad, Ethan Joffe, Reeve Baily, Chad Magendanz, Todor Fay, Melissa Jordan Grey, Academy Cleaning, and of course, Curt Golden and David Singleton (100,000 each.)

I also looked up about one million domain names at;  999,997 of them were taken.

* * *

After MS work, I met up with Curt and David to see some real estate downtown.  I miss Belltown.  But not for long.  I plan to move back downtown again.   

Very soon.  Perhaps a loft?

We also had a meeting at an amazing new performance/meeting space in Belltown called "Big Picture."  This could be a spot for future SGC shows, or even a week of RF soundscapes in a small 88 seat theatre with state of the art 5.1 surround sound.  Could be a great BTV collaboration space.

An amazing, high quality space.

* * *

Then dinner with Curt, David, Mark Long, and Victoria.  Delightful conversation, great advice, and excellent food at Cyclops.  

Quotes of the evening:

1) "one man's flaw is another man's ceiling"

2) "your competitor just raised $97M -- now you know what your company is worth"

3) "your VC could have walked this morning -- he did not.  You're IN!"

And the grand prize winner:

4) "too many insights; not enough websites"


* * *

Then home at 11pm -- first day of cleaning service!!!   The highlight of my day!  I am so incredibly happy.  Clean surfaces everywhere.  Such small details fill me with such joy.  

What is wrong with me?  

* * *

Chris is in town, now preparing for a trip to Italy and France on Monday before going back to LA to finish the Bozzio/Levin/Stevens project in early Feb around NAMM show time.   

Some new strategies in the air for the upcoming transitions.

* * *

I'm up 'til a bazillion o'clock again, like a fool.   "Rockslide" mode this is called in pelota-speak.  Translation: working until the task-at-hand is complete, without watching the clock.  In this mode, time stands still, and work carries on until early in the morning when most sane people are fast asleep.   

Unfortunately, this does not change the time for sitting at Curt's tomorrow morning: 9am; less than five short hours from now.   

I know, Peg -- I can hear your voice:  "go to bed..."

Soon, very soon.

* * *

A few final reflections on my day as I listen to the closing section of "Music for 18 Musicians" (steve reich):  

A nice email from Pablo Mandel, sent two days ago, finally scanned (not even read with much depth) this evening.  No time to answer him yet.  

One quote from his mail:

"Interesting News: Maria Gabriela came to my job by coincidence!, she is looking forward to do some web + music project, for independent bands in Argentina."

Small world, it is.  Good luck and best wishes, Machine Gun.  You two bro, Pablo!

George Zachary mentioned yesterday that he returned home from his holiday break to 1600 emails in his in box.   And 600 of these were business plans!

* * *

Hmmm.....   Looks like Bob noticed the bizarre  coincidence that Curt and I, remarkably, had the same diary entry yesterday.   Also looks like Jaxie noticed that my SGC performance journal entries contains no 'facts' about what happened in our rehearsal.  

These diaries are pretty amazing.

Slow-motion conversations between our inner-voices over great distances.  


All of a sudden, I am again plugged into the day-to-day lives of dear friends both 3 and 6000 miles away.  

Martin and Al, beginning a new octave of struggling in Germany.  Tom, getting all choked-up in New Jersey.  Bill, spraying Hellboy history all over the new carpet.  Travis, gently spreading the cult of TravCraft.   Tobin, the hobbit of Capitol Hill, conducting secret DirectMusic science projects.  Ferny and Victor - alone in a crowd, exploring new musical terrain.  

And how could I forget world-renowned optimist, BillyR, who has transformed complaining about the mundane into an eloquent, communal art-form.  

Curt, as if I didn't already know what you did today.

But, perhaps now, via your diary, I might know a bit more about what you experienced within what you did today.  This is radically different than thinking I might know what you experienced because we happened to be in the same room. 

Same damn scene:   

You see Van Gogh.  
He sees Miro.  
She sees Picasso.  

I see Roz Chast.   

Fact, schmact.  

* * * 

David Byrne, from one of my favorite songs on the planet (crosseyed and painless,) comes to mind:

"there was a line / there was a formula
sharp as a knife / facts cut a hole in us
there was a line / there was a formula
sharp as a knife / facts cut a hole in us 

facts are simple and facts are straight
facts are lazy and facts are late
facts all come with points of view
facts don't do what I want them to
facts just twist the truth around
facts are living turned inside out
facts are getting the best of them
facts are nothing on the face of things
facts don't stain the furniture
facts go out and slam the door
facts are written all over your face
facts continue to change their shape "

Great music.  Great poetry.   

And a great place to end this pelota-spew.

* * *

Saturday January 8

Sitting at Curt's at 9:00am.  I walked in the door at 9:00 sharp.   I was remarkably focused for this half-hour given the slim 3-ish hours of sleep which preceded the sitting.  In attendance: Curt Golden, Bill Rieflin, Travis Metcalf, Ingrid Pape-Sheldon, Steve Enstad, Stephen Golovnin, Tobin Buttram, SB.

Later during our breakfast, Curt mentioned that within his contact at a distance this morning, faces were coming up in pairs.  

* * * 

After the sitting, the seven of us walked over to Cafe Bambino where we promptly filled the world's smallest coffee shop to four bodies beyond capacity.   When we walked in, the barista's hands were shaking uncontrollably and he mentioned casually, that he had "already had a bit too much coffee this morning."


Following coffee, back to Curt's for a short biz meeting with this team, then a trip up the hill for part two of this meeting at Bill Van Buren's house.   Travis, who commuted up from Portland for this day of sitting and rehearsals, peeled off to go over to Greg Sundberg's house for a Repertoire Circle rehearsal.

At the Van Buren's, Kate and Donna were out the door soon after our arrival for Kate's weekly music lesson.  Then, this formidable team assembled around the Van Buren's hardwood dining room table for an interesting discussion regarding a challenging intellectual property issue which is in the air at the moment.  

Following this discussion accompanied by David's poor stomach crying out for input, most of us (Bill VB, BillR, Curt, Tobin, David, and SB) headed out to Vera's in downtown Ballard for what I think of as classic 'road food.'   

Americana diner chow.   For me: eggs, potatoes, and toast.  Tobin went for the Patty Melt, as usual.   

Pre-Vera's, Steve Enstad, recently back from his holiday trip, went home to take care of some pressing business.

More light hearted-discussions continued over breakfast, this time centered largely around Guitar Craft lore, and the fact that for five out of the six at the table met and worked together for the first time here in Seattle in 1989.   

In January of 1990, David had just flown over to join an RF&LCG tour down the west coast.  I clearly  remember the moment I met David, and our first show together was at the Backstage (one block from Vera's, now recently shut down and converted into a health club) almost exactly eleven years ago.    Bill Rieflin was in the audience at that show.  Curt, Tobin, and Steve were on stage, David Singleton was on the mixing desk, and Bill VB was the tour manager.

David mentioned that he was transcribing League repertoire during his plane ride to Seattle nine years ago so he could begin to figure out 'where the changes' were -- wanted to be able to respond appropriately to the changing sections of music, perhaps so that he could replicate Eddi Galimany's dramatic 'el reverbo' endings to almost every piece in our repertoire.   

Apparently, as David was transcribing our highly asymmetrical repertoire, he was counting everything in bars of four.   

Little did he know what he was getting himself into.  

Nine years later, he is still paying the price for his fate of working with Tony Arnold at the right time, and saying 'yes' to becoming the soundman for this tour at the right time.   

* * *

Quotes of the morning:

"All rock must die." - BR

"One of my new year wishes is that the word 'rock' will never be used as a verb again." - BR

"Ever heard of an 'Elvis Twinkie?' - a stick of butter rolled in Quaaludes."  - this was the first words from the mouth of our  shaking-hand-coffee-clerk at Cafe Bambino as we walked in the door this morning. 

* * *

After lunch, David and I went back to Curt's for one last bit of strategy before before an afternoon break.  Then, I sent David off to the Varsity Theatre to see "Being John Malkovitch," and I went home to catch up with a short afternoon nap.   It is important that David see BJM so that we can outfit BTV offices with the appropriate ceiling clearance.

Curt is off to San Jose tomorrow morning for the Bay Area Beginner's Circle meeting, and David and I are on for meetings most of the day.  

* * *

Ah yes, I almost forgot -- my musical friend, marimba builder, and Seattle Repertoire Circle member, Stevphen Golophnin, gently brought to my attention this morning, the fact that I have continually been accidentally and completely butchering the spelling of his name in a slew of previous diary entries.

I apologized profusely, which, I now realize, was a mistake.  

After a great deal of consideration, it has become  clear that Stepven should change his name immediately to make it easier for me to spel.  Plus, I am obviously far too busy to go back search endlessly for every mention and make these complicated changes.  Sheeeesh!   Such a demanding audience!

* * *

Our monthly SGC business dinner was hosted by Curt this evening.   Curt prepared his standard-but-excellent bachelor-meal (yum!) and then we made our way thorough a two hour+ meeting regarding SGC business.  We began with a financial review of our 1999 work.   Not bad.   1999 was an honorable year, both musically and financially.

We also discussed a number of strategies (musical, logistical, and financial) to enhance the quality of and expansion in our work over the next 12 months.  

Musically, we agreed to invest time in our group work to explore methods to increase the depth, intensity, and variety of our live circulations.  For the next quarter, we decided to spend a portion of every group rehearsal working on our ability (as a group) to listen and respond to harmonic changes within our circulations.   

Logistically, an enhancement in the quality of our shows will be directly affected by the quality of our gear.   We agreed to a gradual upgrade in our current PA system.

Financially, we agreed that within the first quarter of 2000, we will hold a special meeting to select and adopt an appropriate business structure and business practices for the SGC.   This will enable us to begin to acknowledge, maintain, and support the professional and semi-professional work we do within the SGC.   

In addition to excellent food, and continual denial that I am catching a cold, there was also some great belly laughter.  

Quote of the evening:

"if there is no soup in the pot, no amount of flame is going to make a meal" - Dean

Speaking of dear brother Dean, he may also initiate a diary on the Guitar Craft diary site soon.   But no pressure.   At least none that I will publicly admit to having applied.  Oops. 

* * * 

We also agreed to begin to invite close friends to 'witness' our Wednesday night SGC electric rehearsals downtown.  Tomorrow afternoon, when I see him, I will invite Peter Dervin (and perhaps our other KSER friends, Dawg and Falcon) to come sit in on our next Wednesday rehearsal. 

* * * 

Some inspiring and thought provoking emails in my inbox this evening.  I have neither energy nor forum for appropriate comment at this time.  But some interesting ideas are evolving.   

Nothing to lose sleep over tonight.  

Unless you happen to be David Singleton, Curt Golden, SB, or on the team who may soon be called on to execute on these ideas.      

Also a message on my vmail from Steven Rhodes who is just back from a trip to Japan.   I called him back, but his line was busy.  

Perhaps he was onlilne reading a whole pile of diaries?  With so much to read, who has time to write?

Nevertheless, welcome home Steven.

* * *

Sunday January 9

More David Byrne alive in my psyche today:

In my mind, the weather never changes
Skill overcomes unfavorable conditions

I realize today that I need a day of rest once per week from diary writing.  From this week forward, Sunday will be my official 'day off' from diary keeping.   

This is a good thing.  

I have found the line and it's direction is known to me.   Absolute trust keeps me going in the right direction.   To the extent I am determined the result is the good thing.

So I say: I have adopted this and made it my own.
Cut back the weakness, reinforce what is strong.

Watch me work.

* * *

Poster and postcard mock-up design for the Whidbey show:

sgc_sbrs_01.jpg (52807 bytes)full size 52K

Peter, Jax, Bob, Dean, Curt: feedback?  Do we need to mention the fact that it is in Langley on Whidbey Island?  Need more words about what we do?   Pithy press blurbs?  

Is less more or is less less?