Monday, October 31, 2016

Head colds and Werewolves

Sorry, not much of blog to write this week as I'm laying low with a horrific head cold. I'm feeling a bit like a werewolf so here's a little Happy Halloween from the late great Warren Zevon.




Monday, October 17, 2016

Disruptive innovation and taking my Kodachrome away


In May 1973, Paul Simon released There Goes Rhymin' Simon one month before my high school graduation. As mentioned in previous blogs, my good friend, Paul Hobbs, purchased this album and I went over to his house to listen to it like with so many other albums. I loved Rhymin' Simon so much that I in fact, purchased it myself shortly after and continued to burn that vinyl record out during my college years.

My next door neighbor at the time (also previously mentioned in my blogs) was Ron Zieman. In the early 60's his family had moved from Rochester, New York as his dad, Ray was selected by his employer, Eastman Kodak to work at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In 1965, my family moved next door to the Zieman's on Tunnell St. in Santa Maria, CA and started a long-time friendship that endures to this day. During my time with the Zieman family on Tunnell, I began to learn a little about Eastman Kodak as a powerhouse of American manufacturing, not knowing at the time, that the quiet mannered Mr. Zieman worked for Kodak with our Government developing cold war spy satellite technology against the Soviets. Back then, Kodak was literally everywhere.

From being a senior in high school, my girlfriend Mary Kit (also mentioned many times in my music blogs) bought me this very Minolta Hi-Matic F 35mm camera for Christmas in 1973. So as an American consumer, I graduated from buying Kodak Pocket Instamatic 110 cartridges to now buying Kodak 35mm film.

With the popularity of the hit single, Kodachrome which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Charts that June of '73 and with my new camera in hand, I started to buy Kodachrome film. As I began to experience photography, I learned of Kodachrome's color richness properties that made photographs a magical enhancement of real life. Kodachrome 25 and 64 became my go-to film rolls. I also learned that Kodachrome was very popular with professional photographer's. I thought maybe I could get a little closer to their art rubbing off on me by buying the film they used. An interesting fact to There Goes Rhymin' Simon is that Kodak made Columbia Records put the registered trademark symbol (®) after the song's title on the album cover. Paul Simon sold a lot of records with that song not to mention vast quantities of film he sold for Eastman Kodak to kids like me.

In 2003, I remember doing a photo shoot for my friend Bill with his wife and son in their sheep field on Vashon Island in Washington. I was using a Sony digital camera and remember going to the very small and only photographic shop on the island. I was going to get prints made of the shoot and brought in my digital photo card to upload in their new digital photo processor. We could pick out the digital shots we wanted and they would be developed into prints for later pick up. I will never forget the owner who was helping us and complaining the whole time how digital photo technology in general was terrible as nobody was buying film anymore. I remember thinking, this guy is a dinosaur and wondered how long he was going to be in business with his attitude and the changing times. A year or two later, when I was back on the island, I remember looking at that shop as we drove by, it was now a clothing store.

Several weeks ago, I was in my car listening to NPR's Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal as he was doing a story on Kodak and Rochester in a continuing series called, How the Deck is Stacked and this segment titled, Rochester looks to rebuild from the rubble, Can manufacturing save America?. This broadcast caught my attention on two fronts, one, my association with the Zieman's and Kodak and two, I was scheduled to speak at the Leatherstocking Library Conference about 120 miles east of Rochester outside of Syracuse in Vernon, New York. The report was fascinating describing the heyday of the Kodak Park facility in Rochester employing 30,000 local residents.

“You didn’t even have to go to college. You got out of high school and went to Kodak, Delco, Rochester Products, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb and you made $20 an hour. Back in the day, you got out of school, and you could be 18 and move off on your own into an apartment. Today? These kids today? If you don’t have college, those top companies are just not here anymore. My youngest daughter did it the hard way. She found out without college here, there’s only $13-an-hour jobs. If that. She’s still at home, 31, but back to school now to get that degree to get out on her own. There was an article in the paper this past weekend, ‘Oh, middle class America, so many jobs are coming back,’ $12 to $15 an hour. Like, what are you gonna do with $12 to $15 an hour? You cannot live on your own.” from NPR


The NPR piece on Rochester got me thinking about Eastman Kodak and the concept of Disruptive Innovation. "A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995. In the early 2000s, "signi´Čücant societal impact" has also been used as an aspect of disruptive innovation." from Wikipedia

The demise of the former Eastman Kodak is quite astounding for the fact that Kodak invented the digital camera, yes drum roll... in 1973. I don't expect you to read all my links, but this link just above from the New York Times by James Estrin is a must read and the big idea to this blog. 

Go ahead, you have the time.

Okay, you read the article, so the irony should not be lost on you or me taking photographs of my still intact Minolta Hi-Matic camera above, and my family's vintage Eastman Kodak Folding Autographic Camera below, with my very digital smart phone.



Kodak and their wonderful products like Kodachrome, represent America as the innovative and creative company that helped build this great nation. I'm dismayed when our current political rhetoric reverts back to the glory days of America; yes, we have created and built great things in our history, but it really doesn't need to be beaten into us with fear. Instead, I'm always inspired by our national spirit, not to be longing for the old days and old ways, but moving forward to new days with new technology and products to help us along the journey. Rochester is the story of American manufacturing. Now, how will Rochester and the nation engage our young people to be successful in today's economy? How will our education system create learning innovations to seed new American product innovations in our country?

Here, I'll return to There Goes Rhymin' Simon and Paul's timeless classic, American Tune. The 1973 song speaks of many things gone wrong in the United States at the time. For me during that time, it was social unrest, the Vietnam War and my uncertainty for my future. I was also learning as a young person that life was getting harder for many Americans. I then, in 1973 and now in 2016 take solace as Simon ends the song with-

Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day

And I'm trying to get some rest

That's all I'm trying to get some rest. 

As American's, we have the freedom to let our music sing the truth, we get knocked down, but have the ability to get back up and make our way. As life always balances with things old and new, we can take our adaptive spirit and build upon our new innovations.

As you begin your Monday working day, I wish for you a creative and productive day. Here's a three song playlist from There Goes Rhymin' Simon to start it off.



Monday, October 10, 2016

Springtime for Donald

This past Saturday, MK and I saw The Producers a Mel Brooks Musical at the Spreckels Theater in San Diego. The audience loved the show as we continually laughed our way through this musical romp. Brooks, a Jewish World War II veteran proves the pen is mightier than the sword and skewers Hitler like no other. As I was watching and thinking about the same 1968 classic movie from which the play is adapted, I couldn't help but think about our current political climate. I started to imagine a new Broadway production with the working title of Springtime for Donald.

After coming home from the play, I caught SNL and their latest comedy sketch with Alec Baldwin as The Donald, very funny. This past couple of days, with the daily Donald news of the moment- this time the Billy Bush (so ironic) interview for Access Hollywood, I realized, comedy always pulls us through. After listening to fear mongering tools like Rudy Giuliani as now a Trump surrogate, you can start to mentally put the cast of characters together including Chris Christie as one of the Blue Meanies (from Yellow Submarine).  Of course the star would be Trump already lampooned in various sightings across the country as The Naked Donald.

As a citizen and typically apolitical blog writer, I'm actually very scared that this self-serving egomaniac could actually be elected as our President. So thank you Mel Brooks, John Oliver, Samantha Bee and SNL for making me laugh when the Blue Meanie's of the world are trying to scare the hell out of us and Make America White Again. And now, think of a future Trump musical comedy with Mel's famous send up, Springtime for Hitler and be sure to read the first verse.


Springtime for Hitler 

Germany was having trouble
What a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore
Its former glory
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me!


Thank you Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Kenneth Mars

Monday, October 3, 2016

Vinyl Flashbacks

I might be typical of many boomers who grew up with great music in the 1960's and 70's who've come back around to listen to music again as adults now in their actual 60's and 70's. I remember buying albums for $1.33 (as that figure sticks in my head). I think I purchased George Harrison's All Things Must Pass (3 record set) when it came out in 1970 for $3.99 in a little record shop next to JC Penny's, maybe it was a bit more. Well, into the 80's, I purchased less albums, watched more music on TV and eventually got a CD player. Into the 90's, I purchased less CD's and got caught up in the rat race.

Now, with the empty nest, I have a bit more time to listen to music again as I love the old stuff and love so many new artist's as well. I've also made the time to go to more concerts again and it is simply a blast! My friend and college roommate, Mark Hunter first told me about the music category of Americana as I've now embraced that genre along with traditional genres of rock, folk, blues, bluegrass and jazz as my wheelhouse of music today. Mark and I must have spent hundreds of hours listening to albums together in our dorm and later in our apartments.

As my music blog's tend to go back to the well of my youth, I take my long-term memory here again to fuel this passion. I was so re-minded of that this past weekend on a visit to my home town of Santa Maria, CA and seeing several old friends. After having dinner with Ken and Vicki Forman and Jane Hobbs (Paul was very sick and couldn't make it), we went to Ken and Vicki's home. We were talking about music as usual and Vicki was showing me their CD and then vinyl collection of music. Jane pulled out the 1969 vinyl, Blind Faith album which had our friend Ron Zieman's name on the front and back jacket. I recognized the hand-writing immediately on the back and it sent me into a central coast high. Jane even said, "I think Doug's going into a flashback moment."


So my first flashback -  It's 1969 and I'm sitting on Ron's bed (who's my next door neighbor) and listening to the Blind Faith album with him in his room. Here's the thing about this period in time. When one of our friends bought an album, You might buy it too, because it was so good, but even if it was a great album, you often didn't buy it because you just went over to your friends house and listened to it. I don't remember borrowing albums much, we just listened to each other album's at who's ever house we were at. One time, I remember several members of my youth church group coming over to listen to my new Cat Steven's Tea for the Tillerman album. Tommy Wishard, where are you now?


My second flashback at the Forman's - I'm in a house (can't remember who's) but Ken and Vicki came over and we are listening to one of Dan Fogelberg's albums. I remember Vicki saying at that time how much she loved Dan Fogelberg.

Back to the present, I mention what I just said above and then Vicki brings out all of her Dan Fogelberg vinyl albums. I see his first album, Home Free and it's like seeing an old friend after many years. I touch it and remember it's recycled-like paper texture, kind of like Neil Young's Harvest album jacket.


So I'm back at my mom's house in Santa Maria thinking about writing this blog, my mind suddenly flashes back, I'm over at my friend Bill DeVoe's house. We go into his bedroom that he's just painted black (and I'm thinking, we should be hearing the Rolling Stones). Anyway, he plays me his new Bob Dylan album, New Morning. I remember the song, If Not For You from that album and, it was then recorded shortly thereafter by George on the All Things Must Pass album.

I guess as friends, Bob and George knew a few things about sharing too.



Footnote 1 - In 1978, I go up to see Mark Hunter in Sebastopol CA as he's into doing his elementary education certification program at Sonoma State University. He's living at a farm house with several people but he's actually living in a small wooden shack off from the main house. Nobody's home in the main house, we go in and he takes out one of his roommate's new album's from I'm assuming the roommate's record collection and puts on Dire Straits' debut album. I listen to Sultan's of Swing for the first time and I'm blown away listening to this with my buddy sitting on an oriental rug with lots of animal hair.


Footnote 2 - It's a couple of week ago, I go into Barnes & Noble and see their tiny vinyl shrine to Tower Records. I walk up and start running my fingers through the vinyl jackets just like the old days, my thumb, first and middle finger all working together, flipping the records forward in the bin to find a gem. I stop at Hotel California, pick it up and start the flashback total visual experience of looking at vinyl record jackets even before you listened to what's inside. I look at the little price sticker in the upper right hand corner, $24.95.

Now here's a little Monday Monday Music from each of these albums.