Thursday, February 7, 2008

After a Long Hiatus...

Well…it’s been a reasonably long time since I’ve posted a new blog… not that I have any readers clamoring for my words, but a lot has happened to me in the last month.

For starters, I got a “real” job with Stiletto Entertainment as a music manager in the cruise ship department. I am now responsible for all of the musicians on Holland America’s R-Class line of ships. I’ve already been to Hawaii and back, and I’m on my way to Costa Rica as I type this (on the airplane somewhere over Mexico). Good thing my passport was current, eh? I anticipate being out of the continental United States about 150-175 days this year… I’m planning to go to New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Denmark, Russia, England, Aruba, Costa Rica, Fiji, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and the Ukraine – as well as visiting Hawaii and Alaska numerous times.

All told, I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

The job has meant other things for me as well… First, it meant moving to Los Angeles – which I did in the second week of January. It also means that I now have an income that – while ridiculously low for what I’m actually doing and responsible for – will allow me a bit more financial security than I’ve had for the past 6 months. That said… I am in what I believe to be a relatively severe situation financially. My level of consumer and credit card debt is absurd and borderline un-manageable. I’m trying to get the consumer accounts paid off within a couple months, then deal with credit cards. I never planned on living in Portland or job-hunting for as long as I did.

Fortunately I now have the coolest job anyone could possibly have I think. I get to fly around the world, all-expenses-paid, go on cruise ships and listen to music for a living! Of course there’s paperwork and some loss of sleep… and there are surely going to be problems with the bands and individual musicians I encounter in the next couple years. For many, playing in a show-band on a cruise ship is a great way to get some experience and see the world while young. For some others, it’s the (dead) end of a mediocre music career. This means that (some of) the older guys are often pretty hard to motivate and aren’t very receptive to change – which is what my position is bringing to the system. As much as I can, I am trying to act as an advocate for the band… As it stands, I’m the expert consultant that Holland America has hired to make sure that the music on board their ships is as high-quality as possible.

On the ms Zaandam, which I visited last week, what I discovered was that the band itself was very good. All of the musicians on board were excellent – in fact, they had a Romanian piano trio with Violin & Bass which was phenomenal. However… they were in desperate need of equipment repairs and from what I could tell had been more or less ignored by Holland America whenever they requested them themselves. They have 4 drum kits on board, the cheapest Yamaha makes in fact and not at all what I would expect to see at a professional gig, every one of the drum heads was beaten up and nearly dead. They also have an upright bass on board which is to be provided for the Ocean Bar (jazz) standards/dance band… it had no bridge. And no strings. They were in need of stand lights, monitors, enough microphones for the singer, saxophonist and for background vocals or announcements.

The list goes on…

The good news is, I put in a request for drumheads, stand lights and bass-repair and all were approved within a day and I was told that the heads at least would be meeting up with the ship in about a week. Damn I’m good.

The people by the way, were great. I had a blast. My only complaint of any kind really was that I’m surrounded by Hollywood-style leftists (socialists, wannabe communists, etc.) who are so vacuous in their conversations I wanted to take a power drill to my temple at dinner. This won’t be a big problem though since the vast majority of my travel will be done alone. Yay!

In other news, on the Zaandam, I hung out with the lead female singer in the stage shows… Anne. Assuredly nothing will come of our chats, but she gave me butterflies and made me smile and that hasn’t happened with anyone since I dated Jenny. Jenny still won’t talk to me… *sigh*. The point about Anne though – I must actually be ready to connect with a woman again! This is terribly good news to me. Now – if I can just meet an intelligent, worldly, interesting, multi-dimensional girl with an MFA, a great voice and beautiful eyes who is actually interested in me enough to email me back… *cough cough*.

I’m also keeping a hand-written journal when I travel. Partly because I like the old-skool nature of it all, partly because it’s a lot more fun to sit out on a deck overlooking a Hawaiian or South American vista (or I’d have to imagine Fjords in Alaska or Denmark), partly because it also allows me to draw things like I did when I was in Spain in my teenage years and partly because when I was running the New York Film Collaborative and we did a shoot in a nice boutique store on the Upper East-side I bought an $80 dollar leather covered, Celtic embossed book which I have been saving for a special purpose – and this is it! Speaking of which, my laptop battery is wearing down, so it’s time to bid this Blog adieu and move over to some of my more low-tech means of keeping myself entertained.


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