Ghost City

Ordos

It was the first time I felt I could relax, even for a moment.  I knew that it couldn’t last.  After the three-hour hike down the alien streets where the grass was beginning to push through the cracks, I was back at the building.  The silence permeated every cell of my being but I knew I couldn’t turn the music on.  The fact that I had turned the multi-module in my arm off was the only thing probably keeping me out of harms way.  Still it would have been great to listen to something.  The only solace I had as I came up the leaf strewn parking lot was the sound of birds.  Those crows that always gathered like a gang of spies that had never given up.

The door was left open, which I kind of expected, but at least it wasn’t smashed down in the final riots before we were all shipped east to the fence-line.  It was a little silly being here.  It was hardly like I could take the elevator up, let alone go in, throw my keys down and grab a beer from the fridge.  It would be probably white walls.  Nothing but white walls and dust stains from the scraping of the furniture.

I began my ascent up the stairwell, shafts of light coming in the windows, their frames high above where anyone could reach them.  The walls looked grimier and more battered that I remember.  Minette and I lived on the 5th floor which was I was sort of half thankful for at the moment.  I wasn’t in bad shape but I definitely began to feel it by the third.  I sat on the fading carpet and looked out the window across from the black-railed stairwell.  The orange yolk of the sun was broken by shafts of cloud, the afternoon sky a slight cedar that we always called the Curtain.  The Curtain never lifted where I had spent the last fifteen years since we were gathered.  Out here the effect of the great processors seemed slightly thinned, like when you add more water to a teabag.

I was also looking for movement in the city.  The skyline was grey and quiet like you would expect, but more unkept, with bramble and grasses turning everything into a strange sort of greenhouse solarium with the orange white roof above.  There was so many of us back in the camp that I suspected it would take some time before anyone noticed I was not around, but then all it would take was one idiot to say “Hey, where’s Yun?” and then the reports of a lost worker would set out the whole barrage of Shepherds into their roles as the people’s trackers.  I knew just how invisible I wasn’t, with how my heat register made it’s imprints on everything around me, sticking me out in Westwood like a beacon.  I almost considered staying exactly where I was.  Partly due to the fact that what I was after would have already have been stripped from the room to crush any thoughts of doing exactly this and partially because I didn’t even want to see our home like this.  It was one way to sleep in section twelve.  I mean, I had free Wifix at call and I was really careful about my credit points but that was just the crap they wanted us to see.  If I wasn’t reading what few pdfs were still out of their reach I would think back to when we had our last job, our last day of work, our last meal.  I can even remember my last employer on his knees crying, with his sister Satiyo beside him rubbing his shoulders and cooing to him like a child.  He wasn’t the nicest guy on the planet back then but of the four bosses I had, he was the last and to his credit he had tried to build the company from the ground up.  Now he was just a balding man in a dirty white shirt on the floor, his shoulders shaking with his hand to his face.  I remember I didn’t know what to say.  I just sort of stood there.

Back on my feet I continued up to fifth.

The inside of the room could have been anywhere, in any room all up the coast.  It was better than most I had passed in the halls.  No one had attempted to squat in it before the gatherings.  The walls were still mostly white.  Minette smoked back then, which was the only illegal thing either of us ever did, but we were excruciatingly careful about it.  A friend at the university had given us some Linethen, that blueish grey composite that cleans the air of cigarette smoke almost instantly.  We kept in buried behind the back of the fridge and even now I could see the trails up the wall, fanning out like so many spiders.

Then I heard it, noise from far away like the mewing of a small cat. 

Scrambling onto the counter-top next to the gaping hole where our old stove had been, I opened the cupboard.  The sound outside grew just slightly.  They knew where I was, and they knew that I knew.  I looked for the slight edge upside down in the cupboard, my eyes squinting as bits of old wood unsettled all over my hands and face.  With the other hand I began to punch the top of the stained cupboard wood. 

The sound grew louder, coming from the living room.  In the giant square empty room, the windows remained open with just one frayed curtain remaining, it’s flag swaying just slightly in the wind.  Across the way was the other block of flats, patio rails like bleached bones.

I punched harder and the sound grew.  Finally, the roof of the cupboard cracked and dust and particles spewed out, causing me to look away again.  In the living-room the curtain began to flap more in earnest.  They were very near.  I found what I came for and stashed it into the pocket in my leg where a hole turned the rest of the pants into an accidental deep pocket.  I dropped from the counter just as the sound of the chopper blades became obvious.  The rag by the window flapped violently as the giant glass globe of the Shephard’s vehicle rose with the blades roaring invisibly above their heads.  I walked towards them, looking straight at them in their black silk uniforms and red helmets.  What was there to say or do at the time?  I simply waited with my arms out so they wouldn’t strip the flesh from my bones.

There was noise behind me which I expected.  My leg was kicked out and I fell into darkness.

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Get visable!

Friendly group of people waving to you

 

Can people find you?  Imagine getting an online readership of over 25k!

One of the things I have been working on this morning, due to the fact that I am now full time self employed, is the whole world of self promotion.  This of course takes a myriad of forms, but what’s interesting is how there are bloggers out there that make over 25k in just WordPress followers.  That number is amazing and from what I’ve seen it isn’t entirely impossible to do.

Here’s one link to kind of wet your appetite, or maybe even give you some immediate insights with identifying your target audience…

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fonecoolsite.wordpress.com%2F2013%2F09%2F01%2Fhow-to-identify-your-blogs-target-audience%2F&h=OAQEr84G-

That said, I have been working with a number of newer companies and artists over the past few years and one thing that I find myself saying all too often is…

“Ahh!  What are they doing!?  I’m really looking for them and I can’t find them!  If I can’t find them, how can there be an audience!?”

This is not a place I think you want to be.

The Social Media creator pitch

(I don’t know about you but I hate those posts out there that lead you down a garden path and then after hours of your time hit you with “I can tell you for only 49.95!”  Ugh.  So here we go…)

I am absolutely happy to help anyone set up there social media platforms for a competitive cost.  I am not a massive Html and Java slinging pro designer who worked for Apple or Google any time recently so my costs for this would be relatively low.

However I have had success in my work, and I can easily assist someone outside of the Greater Victoria Area as well, but it will take some emailing back and forth to set up things such as a Twitter platform which typically requires a text message conformation from a unique phone number (your cell).  This is because, well, I can’t afford to buy dozens of cellphones.

The nice thing about me doing it for you is that you can get on with what you do and leave the social media setup to me.  As an example, I set up the entire http://www.westsoundmag.com campaign of website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and email all in about three hours with images and content.  Some of it was from the back of a friend’s car.

My background with all this came slowly, starting with my earliest music projects and just running around with posters.  Posters are still in my world, but we have other people who do that sort of thing these days.  Still, the basic advertising theory is essentially the same.

A show, an event or whatever that’s going on in real time isn’t about the show in itself.  Any event is a reason to put the name out!  With something coming you have suddenly a great reason to advertise the name and then it becomes about repetition.  They say it takes about five years to really lock down a brand in people’s minds.  You don’t expect anyone is going to see your poster, or whatever and suddenly take out a notepad and start jotting things down.  It’s all about seeing that name one more time so that they later on say “Oh yeah!  I’ve heard of them!”  We move towards what is familiar.  Familiar seems way more reliable and enticing then “Never heard of those guys.”

Hiring me or not is totally up to you and your project, but the main thing is to make yourself visible.  Everything is converting to online activity.  Despite all this tech I’m older than I look, and I have had younger folks ask if I dyed my hair this way (It’s grey).  I remember when if you wanted to seem like someone who puts in initiative for work, you would show up with a resume in a shirt and tie.  I have been informed more recently that no one wants you to do that.  They prefer emails.

Emails!?  What a different world this is!  I can distinctly remember a friend in the nineties saying how if a resume and cover letter were faxed they would throw them to the, let’ just call it, “less interested” pile as fax=lazy!

But that’s the thing, and it covers everything these days.  If you want to find the next bus do you use the bus schedule book?  No.  You google the location and it tells all.  Order pizza?  I don’t even know where my classic phone book is right now.  I use the Yelp or Zomato App.

The point of this side trip in the direction of memory lane is that if your product can’t be found online, your product has a problem.  You don’t want to spam people as that has a reverse effect of course, but you do need to at least get visible.

You know what the last thing most people will use their smartphone’s for these days?

As phones.

Telling someone to just give you a call might just have you sitting there listening to your Hootie and The Blowfish album, and that’s about it.

Cheers,

Tom

7 Bass Books every bassist needs

No introduction needed really.  Got your metronome and your axe?  Let’s do this.

7. Joel Di Bartolo – Serious Electric Bass

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I love how full this one is.  Joel does an amazing job of going over every nuance of playing in detail with attention for those playing five or six stringed instruments.  This one I keep coming back to, in fact, I pretty much had to take it off the music stand to take the shot.  You can’t go wrong with the guy who played for Johnny Carson!

6. Rufus Reid  – The Evolving Bassist

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I had this recommended to me by my former bass teacher Joey Smith.  Fantastic book for upright and electric players alike going into rhythm, chord structure and how to approach jazz basslines.  Really helped me in getting my theory down along with…(drumroll)

5 Jaco Pastorius – Modern Electric Bass

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If you haven’t heard of Jaco, bassist or not, go to youtube immediately.  He’s pretty much our Hendrix!  But anyways, this book goes over the video which is excellent and genuinely teaches you things as opposed to just making you go “Wow, he’s good!”  It does that, and you do feel like the least educated chimp when you try playing after  but the book also has some great little bits on theory that helped me finally piece it all together.  Worth it!

4 Simandl

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Yeah, what do you follow Jaco with?  This is pretty much the book, which Jaco actually mentioned himself, for studying classical bass.  Even if classical isn’t your thing it is the tried and true study of the rhythm section.

3. Slap it! – Tony Oppenheim

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We want the funk!  Get your groove established by this great little book for woodshedding the basics of funk.  Not a really thick book but it gets straight down to it with exercises you can start straight away with and give you a foundation of sound that is not only cool, percussive and funky, but also clean!

2.Teach yourself Advanced Bass – Clive Harrison

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And I can hear the “whhaaa?” from here.

Despite how this one looks this little guy has been my straight, no nonsense foundation to so much of my playing and bass philosophy that I don’t know where to start.  Formerly with the Little River Band, Clive takes you through all the things you need to get your chops sailing as well as gives you great directions in things you might not of thought of like his section of Chops versus Performance or on Shifting.

  1. Chuck Rainey – The Method, sadly not pictured

This might be anti climactic but my copy has disappeared in a recent move, which is annoying because not only did I use to come back to that book again and again but literally it is where I started actually practicing.  Chuck is such a great book to start with as he goes into great detail exactly what kind of strings to use and proper right hand form and technique as well as getting your from that shaky first C scale and onwards.

Hope you enjoyed this little list!  Please feel free to add your own recommendations to the messages below!

Cheers,

Tom

Discovering Georgia’s Eden

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This is something that I have always meant to blog about since it first captured my imagination.  From simply doing research for a book project I was working on, I have always wanted to travel to the country of Georgia.  To venture into the Caucasus Mountains that form its northern border and roam the streets of it’s capital city Tbilisi.

Set between the Black and Caspian Seas, Georgia first caught my attention in a series of videos called Vintage : A History of Wine which are narrated by the author of the original book by Hugh Johnson.  It is in this small, beautiful country that the story of wine begins.

In his film, Hugh explains that not only is Georgian Wine still made by the same ancient process of aging in gourds underground but that the history of winemaking there goes back to 10,000 B.C.

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I could almost finish my blog there and just let your imagination take things from that point.  This country on the border of Europe and Asia was making wine, something that requires patience and planning (and most importantly, civilisation) before most of the great empires of history took their first steps.  As an example they were making wine long before the construction of the first of the Egyptian pyramids with the earliest being the Pyramid of Djoser between 2630 and 2611 B.C.

The vineyard owners that Hugh Johnson interviewed were very humble and friendly which is exactly what I experienced myself when I made contact with people from this country myself.  Long before the Internet was what it is today I emailed some folks for more information on Georgia.  I was sent not only the phrasebook I sent for but a sheet of Georgian recipes and another sheet that contained facts about the country.  I still have my copy of this wonderful book by Patricia Hall and Tatyana Bukia which goes over everything from basic survival phrases to what to say at a Georgian Dinner.

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What is also interesting has been the increase of archeological discoveries in the countryside.  They have found the existence of dinosaurs in the area, ancient caves and more importantly, the evidence of human activity.  Near the town of Dmanisi, sixty kilometers south of Tbilisi that go back 1.7 million years.  For those who believe in the accounts of the Bible, Mount Ararat of the story of Noah’s Ark is a stone’s throw away.

What ever one believes I am personally enchanted by the wonder of Georgia as one of Europe’s most fascinating treasures.  Due to its military position as the border between two continents, its truth may be locked away under centuries of soldiers, horses and the endless scouring of time. 

If you are a Victoria, BC based reader you can find Georgian Wine as I have at the BC Liquor Store at the corner of Fort and Foul Bay.

Thank you for reading!   

Tom

The time to explore

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I’ve mentioned before about my love of mornings which I know makes me weird straight away.  I actually woke up far too early on this one even for myself but I had set myself this rule of getting out each morning to do some kind of exercise.  I have been struggling with a digestion issues since last October so this is one of the many ways I’ve have found myself fighting back.   I honestly don’t know if it works or not, but I’m just not willing to find out what would happened if I stopped!

One of the great things about getting out there is the exploring side.  This morning I finally, and this is nuts I am, but after going for about a half hour walk I finally took a route 1 bus out to its furthest end.  Some more walking and a different route home and I am completely reading to get out there and start my regular work.  If I hadn’t become so enthused by all this desire to be outside each morning I never would have done such a nonsensical thing.  I admit I felt a bit too self conscious to get on the 1 route home, because I was fully expecting the driver would have looked at me funny. 

I’ll work on that one.

Once home though I started planning out some really nice ideas for some other walks involving quieter bus routes I could do.  A simple one (no pun meant) would be to take the same route to the café at the end, walk the beach to Gonzales Park and then hop a quiet #3 home again.  You can’t beat breakfast with a million dollar view can you?  As someone who already has one of those bus passes the only thing that cost you was some time and maybe whatever you picked up at Delish.  Not a bad deal!

In the theme of exploring, and this is weird too because not only was I thinking about this subject this morning but my friend Kevin Lintern wrote about the same thing so I hope I’m not borrowing that too much, but people should not be afraid to explore possibilities within their own worlds.  This could be anything from boating to model making but naturally my focus is creativity. 

There is a mentality out there which states that only really talented people should even think of walking into a music store…and art supply store……ok, writer’s don’t have the same thing (a pen store?!) but…setting up a blog, and I am here to tell you it’s just not true.  Creativity is a place you can simply explore with whatever fascinates you.  You don’t have to be serious and think you have to play guitar or paint at a certain level with so many hours a day in order to try it.  

I just recently started doing more visual arts thanks to the spurring of a book called “The Trickster’s Hat” by writer Nick Bantock, which I definitely recommend.  One of the ideas he comes up with is the idea of just setting out without big goals or expectations in mind and just freeing yourself to try and make mistakes.  As far as I’m concerned, in creativity, there is no mistakes.  Ready for this…?

There is no bad art.

Whoa huh?  Now you might say I’ve crossed a line there as you can probably quote me a list of names of people who you think have no talent and should stop.  I’ve been on some people’s list with that one!  But I stay stand firm on this.  The very doing of creating is wonderful in itself…the simple act of stepping out of the things you have to do to explore what could be and creating from nothing.  The Artist’s Way series is also great for breaking through this.  I still try (and fail sometimes but what the heck?) to do my morning pages first thing every morning along with my other routines.  I’m at the point now where I actually can’t imagine my life without that or the morning exercise.  Also started doing meditation with a great app for the meditationally challenged like myself called “Calm”.  There’s other things I like doing first thing like practice and drinking lots of water but that’s more specific to me.  The process does take a while.  Mornings work for me but whatever you find best for you, that’s the best time.

Thanks for reading!

Happy exploring J

Tom

One World Playlist

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This is something I’ve just started playing with, along with my more localized Westsound Magazine project.  It came from listening to some Coast Salish drumming on YouTube which lead me to this really interesting Coast Salish Suite produced by Bravo Fact.  In the video you hear a mix of First Nations music with a full orchestra, resolving with the work of the conductor.

From being a fan of music and watching those giant crowds of people to my own experiences playing before crowds, I can tell you that there is definitely something going on under the surface of our songs.

From the simple power of an drum song to gatherings of music across the world something connects straight into us.  Its like synchronicity.  Or that could be me just being a Police fan.

Anyways, I already had a SoundCloud channel, so I started putting together a playlist of music from around the world.

It isn’t finished (in fact I don’t think it logically could ever truly be) but it’s got eleven already, mixing some traditional music with some more contemporary.

Have a listen!

Cheers,

Tom

What you pay for

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Fear is the biggest hurdle in poverty.  This is not only because a sense of lack, something perpetually put to you as evident, makes you act in ways that push reason.

But there are those that know of this fear and are only too determined to make the most of it.

They come at you with their ads and bargains, their dollar stores and discounts, their news events and threats upon the nation.

They push you and pull you and tell you that all you need to really do is go under their wise wings and everything will be alright in the end.  They put pressure on you at just the right moment.  Time is their greatest weapon against you.  You don’t want to miss out do you?  You don’t want to miss the boat!  After all, these chances don’t come along often.

Bull.  Can you imagine someone saying that to a salmon?  You’re both creatures.  You’re not missing anything.

It does cost a little more to steer away from where they want you to go at first, yes.  But as people we are not that complicated.  One thing I have noticed just this morning is how much better my day started by just going out for a walk.  Came home, started writing into my notebook (I write on their before going digital) and had some oatmeal with blueberries.  Coffee.  Nothing you would really think to Instagram (some might, I know I’ve gone there too!)  But like the salmon that I sort of plunked down into this little ramble, we are not that complicated a creature.

No one has all the answers.  If they say they do, tell them you’re just browsing.

 

 

West Coast Love Affair

Check out this amazing blog by Anishanaabe, First Nations artist and fellow WordPress blogger! Cool shots of my own hometown Victoria, B.C. 😊

A N I | S H A N | A A B E

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Traveled up to the West Coast of Canada a few times and can never get enough the breathtaking scenery of oceans and mountains and vast landscapes. I tend to go a little picture crazy. I figured many of you would appreciate these select few, they are some of my favorite shots that I captured while I was there. I have many more from where they came from so just comment below if you’d like to see more.

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Home

 

This is my refuge but it’s also my study, my factory.  Here I build for better things to come.

Dreams are dreamed, coffee gets shared and things are at their softest and least diffused.

I work here with music on, seeking the truth, elusive as clouds and you can find me writing, playing, rewriting, waking up, cooking.

Memories find tin boxes, plastic containers with dusty lids and new ones get their little births.

Everything I’ve ever done sprouted from the walls of home.  Sitting on the floor with a guitar and an old Panasonic tape deck.  Silly thoughts pass here like fish in a stream.  Some sparkle so bright you can reach out with your hands.