Friday, November 03, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Special guest

On Tuesday Blues Traveler's John Popper sat in with the Hometown Sweethearts, everyone's favorite cover band. I wrote about it on the Daily Page.
What the

For musicians, MySpace just might be the greatest promotional tool to come along since the staple gun. But songsters should take note of something I recently learned the hard way: Any business-related e-mailing really shouldn't be done with MySpace's messaging feature. E-mails in a MySpace inbox don't necessarily stick around very long, partly because when people delete their profiles -- as is known to happen in the highly volatile universe of social-networking Web sites -- any messages they sent go with them.

Who cares, right? But as I was preparing to play a private gig last Saturday afternoon, I realized to my dismay that my messages to and from the client were gone from MySpace because, yes, his profile had gone away. These were messages that contained such information as: Where the gig was, and when I was supposed to be there.

Fortunately I had made a few notes, and on the basis of them I somehow managed to show up at the right place, at the right time. And if the worst had happened, I suppose I could have -- ulp -- called him. That would have inspired confidence! Anyway, it's good to have stuff in writing. I normally save and archive my electronic messages as meticulously as any congressional page would, so it was unsettling when the MySpace messages went poof.

My advice to musicans: Be grateful that MySpace makes fielding gig inquiries so effortless, but once you've gotten a query, switch to traditional e-mail for everything else.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

That boy's got talent

I commend to you the musical creations of my oldest friend and earliest musical collaborator Walter Biffle, who has set up shop on MySpace as Snuffy. Especially, be sure to take note of the song "Stuff." Good stuff.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Good word

"Beware of people who misquote themselves while purporting to display candor."

-- George Will
The gang was all there

Strange what sparks a memory. This election season, and especially its echoes of the election season of 1994, take me back to that storied autumn a dozen years ago. It was a noteworthy fall for me, because it was one of about two times in my life when I belonged to a gang, a clique, a group of a dozen or more people who socialize mostly together. I have otherwise been inclined, at any given moment, to have just a handful of close friends, sometimes just one.

I was about a year out of college, and I was still living in Hyde Park, my old college neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. I had settled into work I liked well enough, and I had settled down in another way -- several months after breaking up with the woman I dated through most of college, much of that time unhappily, I was starting to feel normal and sociable again.

(I had to think carefully just now about when it was that we broke up. Was it really 1994? Or was it 1993? They are fading, these dates and events that were once so important to me they seemed seared permanently into my being. But yes, it has to have been 1994 when we broke up, because that happened after I went to Seattle for Thanksgiving in 1993. Yes. That's right.)

That fall my friend Robin, a college student at the University of Chicago, moved into a Hyde Park apartment with two other women, also students. The three of them brought separate groups of friends together, I among them, and soon a great many of us were spending a great deal of time together, drinking and flirting and generally making merry. From weekend to weekend the party moved from apartment to apartment, and we were, as often, at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, the classic University of Chicago tavern.

Usually we dressed up for our parties. We looked pretty in jackets and cocktail dresses. We smoked cigarettes and sipped Manhattans and Rob Roys. I felt surrounded by glamour, by cultured people who made scintillating conversation.

But it couldn't last. As you might imagine, gossip began to corrode the esprit de corps. There were strong personalities. There were arguments. Sides were taken. The gang began to collapse, and then it was all over. Everyone moved on. Alas.

I associate that time so strongly with the 1994 elections because I remember election night so vividly. A small group of us had gathered in the home of, oddly enough, Sara Paretksy, the famous crime novelist for whom one of our number was housesitting. In our jackets and cocktail dresses we were shooting pool in a basement room that featured a life-size oil portrait of Paretsky, and we were listening to the election coverage on National Public Radio. I recall that as race after race went to Republicans, the NPR announcers sounded more and more like they were covering a wake. It was unsettling to know an era was ending.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Consumer reports

After two uneventful years with the wireless phone service US Cellular, our contract is about to expire, and it is time to contemplate a switch. So I put to you, loyal Back With Interest readers: Which is your cell phone carrier, and are you happy with it?