Home > 1, Music > BOOK 3. A Birthday…

BOOK 3. A Birthday…

BOOK 3. A Birthday…
Yesterday I fully realized and understood precisely why and how the best minds of ancient Greece, after centuries of the most serious inquiry and consultations concluded that the Gods made humankind, our suffering, our dashed dreams and disappointments, our wretched afflictions, our snot riddled grief, our eyeball popping, hair tearing, spittle soaked screeching, and soul wracking sobbings, just for laughs, just for their amusement and delight.
Yesterday was nothing but laughs. But today?

Jeff Medina “el maximo guitarra” (Of Trinidad and St. Thomas) is coming in from Las Vegas where he is gigging, to do leads on what we have managed to record to date. As I mentioned before, I am very disappointed with the quality of the recordings and I will have to find a way to redo many if not most of them.

I will have Jeff listen and select the ones that he thinks he can work with and we will move forward from there. I am on my way to the UVI library to see if there are any last-minute emails from Jeff before his flight is scheduled to leave Las Vegas. I’m scheduled to meet with Derrick at the studio at Eleven AM. We will be looking at what Dan has left us to work with in terms of tracks and track information and I will try to discover how we will proceed and with which engineer and so forth.

When I first imagined creating a musical of the “Virgin Island Songs” it occurred to me to utilize the original tracks from “Dreams Should Never Die” (The V.I. Songs VOL.ll) and I asked Dan (the co-producer and studio owner) to find them. He said that he would. I have checked with him all along the way about the progress and he has reassured me that he and his partner Derrick were steady on it.
At our first “production meeting” this morning, I asked Derrick if they had found the remaining tracks and was amazed to hear him say that he knows nothing at all about those tracks, and that he and Dan have never searched high OR low for the tracks, at all… ever.
Aside from the fact that Dan lied about this important element of the project, if some or all of them are lost, it throws into question the possibility of using those tracks at all. (Which in my mind is half of the score) this is a big big problem.

As the meeting went on, it came to light that Dan may not have left any tracking notes, or written information about what was what. That is extraordinary, and means that someone with the expertise to run the board and the recording program (a recording engineer) will have to sift (along with me) through everything that we’ve done to identify what is useless and ought to have been deleted during the recording process and what works.

We have fifteen additional songs, each consisting of many individual tracks (the drum tracks, snare, kick, tom tom, hi hat, and so forth, the Bass tracks, take one, take two, the Guitar tracks, the Iron, the Congas, the Guiro..The Vocals) the time that it will take to do this work is one thing, the out-of-pocket cost for the engineer, is another. These are dollars that Derrick does not have and neither do I.

I have made quite a serious mistake, in that I gave Dan all the money up front in exchange for his commitment to see the project through to completion. My understanding was that the studio was in trouble and our money would be very helpful. I was happy to do it. One, because I was so jazzed to have a working studio in St. Thomas and Two, I had a commitment from the studio to “see it through”. This kind of commitment from someone in the Islands has always meant hell or high water, shoulder to shoulder, til’ death do us part. And that is what I took the commitment to mean.

However, our off island friend is not grounded in these absolutes of local culture, and has his own cultural interpretation which in retrospect appears to make an absolute commitment conditional, and dependent on factors held secret until the shif hits the shan. Very disappointing development.

Derrick and the studio are in a tough situation, sinking in unpaid debt with at least five uncompleted projects.

I have been telling Dan and Derrick that Jeff is coming from Las Vegas for months and we were scheduled to start this morning, however, (not surprisingly) Derrick has been having arrhythmias and his Doctor has scheduled a stress test and then wants him to rest.
Jeff and I will go over what we have to work with this afternoon and start in the studio with Derrick tomorrow at 9AM. Additionally, Derrick’s wife is scheduled to give birth in two days.

Jeff’s arranged sleeping arrangements have fallen through, and we have spent the day looking for a place for him to stay, we have visited a number of hotels (five) and we are looking at a small boarding house out East called “25 Bolongo”. I smell “arroz con habichuelas” (rice and beans) con sofrito, in the air.
A smell that I know well because after all, I am “El Gringito De Las Virginas” It smells good good good and I’m wondering where it’s coming from when the nice “down de island woman” that we are transacting with, advises us that the only difficulty that Jeff might encounter could be the minor distraction caused by the number of young women also staying there.
A double handful of young women, that turn out to be the current batch of strippers and pole dancers from the notorious Club 75 in town.
We get a look at some of them hanging their wash on the clothesline outside, wash consisting of little more than soap suds, and perhaps a 1/4 ounce of hot tropical Day-Glo paint on a string and “wispy little gossamer dream halters”
Beautiful young calente Dominicanas, who look pretty sharp and pretty sharp. More than anything the impression is of zoftico y calente doctoral candidates. Any doubts that Jeff or I had about the suitability of the accommodation, has of course vanished. He takes the room, and I take my leave.

There is no sign of life at Tut’s house “Consuelo”, so I conclude that I had better see to something to eat. I’d like something wonderful considering that it’s my birthday and I’ve been completely broke for two weeks and today I have a little digit. For some reason I’m thinking rice and beans con Carne, with a little platano maduro and a big fat beso on the side, OR perhaps a plate full of good church picnic macaroni and cheese.
With that in mind I go into a local “Southern Fried Chicken” franchise at Nisky Center and having the opportunity to survey the menu for more than ten minutes (because of the length of the line) and time to reflect that in every single instance that I have bought stuff in this particular franchise, I’ve been completely disappointed, I actually turn around and leave.

This must be the first obvious benefit of becoming 64, because this pro-active discretionary behavior surprises the heck outta me. However, I can’t really give myself too many points, because everybody knows this particular outlet lost the Captain or Colonel’s magic recipe long ago, and even the poultry is suspect.
It’s almost universally accepted that most of these birds were drugged and dragged out of the pigeon flocks that populate the bus Plaza in Old San Juan.

I’m thinking that Tuts and Mary may have made some thing special, but they could also have been called away on a mission of some kind and I am starvin’ hungry. I don’t want to eat something and have had them waste their time, intention and food…so I get a cold cut sandwich and go back down the road. When I get home, I put the stuff in the fridge and go to see Tuts. He says that Mary had prepared something but that she is now stuck in a seminar at UVI…I am touched and want to hold off on eating so we can all eat together. She calls and insists that we go ahead, we do.

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