As mentioned before: herein I will blog, and commenters can comment, without feeling guilty about seeming to disregard the seriousness of our present COVID-19 Reality. In other words, this space is reserved for escaping/managing Reality – however that translates. Anything goes, so here goes!
Dear Teacher, You were my very first formal classical guitar instructor…
Thus begins an open letter I wrote years ago.
The new vistas that surfing the ‘net* opened up in the ’90s prompted me to try contacting my first classical guitar teacher to thank her for the role she played in my development as a musician. I posted a copy of my open letter on both** of the forums I was subscribed to at the time in the hopes it would yield a lead towards finding her. As was common in those days, this inadvertently started a new thread on each of those forums…that of honoring those teachers who most influenced the direction of our lives.
However, it did not bring about the desired outcome.
I have always wanted to thank-you for all you did to nurture my first forays into the world of classical guitar. I think you’d be proud of me. Not because I am anyone famous or great, but because you’d recognize the method of love I use in teaching others about our common bond: the classical guitar...
*a term bandied about along with riding the internet highway in the earlier days of internet development.
This link goes to a short excerpt of an NBC interview (it’s only 2 minutes, please click and ponder) with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1967…still strikingly relevant to these times…(full interview here).
“White America must see that no other ethnic group has been a slave on American soil. That is one thing that other immigrant groups haven’t had to face…America freed the slaves in 1883 through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land or nothing in reality…to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of free land in the West and Midwest. Which meant there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base. And yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa – who came here involuntarily and in chains, and had worked for free here in chains for 244 years – any kind of economic base…” Dr. Martin Luther King
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8: 32
I humbly believe this tribute does not take away from the honoring of our Veterans – My Dad, 2 Uncles and Father-in-Law served in WWII, hubby & 2 cousins during Vietnam and various nephews served during and since the Gulf War. My Sister-in-Law, 5 cousins and a niece are essential health-care providers during this war against COVID-19 – thankfully our family has not suffered any casualties.
The official closing down of ‘non-essential’ services and stores is in a confused, motley disarray here in South Carolina. There is no real rhyme or reason as to what is considered essential or non-essential – case in point, until last week hair salons were still open and truth be told, hubby has seen several still open while doing drives to check on parking lot volume of customers in area grocery stores. Kind of a no-brainer that maintaining social distancing and performing haircuts with gloves and mask for both hairstylist and customer isn’t an easy way to stay open and provide services, much less provide a safe environment. But hey, what do I know?
And let’s not even get into the phrasing of our governor’s official COVID-19 orders* submitted just last week: “Stay at Home. Stay at Work.” When asked by a reporter what that meant exactly, he replied that if you’re at home, stay there and if you’re at work, stay there…say what? Oh and in continuing to clarify, he added that whatever was open before is open now and whatever was closed before is closed now.
That, dear readers, is Governor McMaster’s version of a ‘shelter-in-place’ order while not exactly being a ‘shelter-in-place’ order. Welcome to South Carolina…
Anyway, back in March, certain retail & grocery stores began announcing special COVID-19 shopping hours for Seniors and people with special health needs. We’ve incorporated our immediate buying around those times as much as possible with extra trips to the grocery store as needed during low volume times.
In addition, I now make a point of visiting our local Target Store during their special Senior Hours: Wednesday from 8AM-9AM each week because
The specially designated hours are user-friendly
The brick & mortar store offers up a sense of leisurely ‘window’ shopping for ‘non-essential’ items while in a relatively protected environment
In other words, I go there for a fun outing during this period of self-isolating while showing off my stylish homemade face mask at one and the same time. 🙂
This week, I scored a pair of Sketchers that were sorely needed. I tend to use up my running/athletic shoes until they no longer can stand up to my demanding version of wear and tear, and my current pair were way beyond ‘making do’.
As I passed by the shoe section, I noticed boxes of women’s athletic shoes scattered along a sparsely filled shelf. With nary a try-on bench in sight (they have been removed in an effort to minimize virus transmission), I plopped down on the floor. Surrounded by shoes of varying sizes and styles I promptly focused on the matter at hand.
Happy with my score, I then ventured over to the book/media section and browsed. Amazon states on their website an inability to guarantee a timely, if ever, delivery of a non-essential item such as a book to read during isolation, so I decided to find something of interest. Oh, I know, there are lots of offerings via the library’s on-line books, but my eyes are getting way overloaded with screen viewing these days and besides, I really do relish the feel of a book in my hands while hunkering down in isolation.
Lucky me, I scored another find – a book I’ve been wanting to read, but never got around to until now (you guys all know the drill on that!) – Becoming by Michelle Obama. At 30% off cover price, I also got a small discount for the immediate gratification of bringing my copy home same day of purchase!
When I returned home from my magnificent morning outing, I placed both purchases in the quarantine corner of the kitchen floor to await release in a few days.
Today both items were released from quarantine. I laced up those new Sketchers for my daily walk this morning and Ms Obama’s book is ready to be opened this evening for my before-bedtime reading.
Yes, it’s the small things in life during coronavirus that help us to make it through each day.
* A 12 page document that lists the details of the actual order starting on page 6
Like most of you, I’ve been getting cookie cutter ‘We’re here for you’ emails from retail stores…some sincere, some not so much. This one is not that. This one is a ‘What we’re doing to make a difference’ with a twist. Please read and/or watch what I found in my email box this morning from a ‘store’ most every working musician is familiar with…and please pass it on to any HealthCare Worker/Hospital Administrator you may know. (And yeah, I kept in the Disc Makers advert of their normal product at the end..a small thing I can do to support their efforts IMHO)
Warning, this Saturday email is longer than usual… or you can just watch the video above from our local NBC affiliate. (However, it’s Saturday, and you’re probably sitting inside being socially distanced—or even quarantined—so go ahead, take the time to read on.)
A little less than two weeks ago, when it became indisputable that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to sweep the nation, I was worried about the future of Disc Makers. Our orders had decreased by 50% literally overnight. We had to cut back our factory hours by 20%, and our salaried staff had agreed to a 20% pay reduction (and significantly more for execs) to make sure we didn’t run out of cash. After almost 74 years in business, I couldn’t believe a virus was the biggest threat this business had ever faced. Could this really be happening in 2020?
Then last Wednesday night, after watching the news and seeing the desperate need for protective equipment for frontline health workers, my wife asks me, “Tony, can’t you guys make some of this?” And that was exactly the spark we needed.
By Friday, our amazing team of manufacturing engineers and operations pros had come up with a prototype for a protective face shield. They ordered supplies, worked through last weekend to finalize the specs, set up workstations Monday, and started manufacturing this past Tuesday! The factory staff who print your inserts, replicate discs, and package your products—as well as office staff from every department—are now soldiers in the battle to literally save lives.
Perhaps best of all, instead of worrying how we’re going to survive on half our CD volume, I’m worrying if we have enough staff to fill the demand. Every single person at Disc Makers is pumped to be helping fight this coronavirus, and without fail, they are prepared to help build face shields. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. I’m so impressed with how my team turned on a dime, made this happen in 3 working days, and how everyone enthusiastically jumped in to help battle this global crisis. It shows that American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and fighting spirit are second to none.
As a country, we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s more social distancing, more quarantining, more medical emergencies ahead. But it’s heartening to see so many companies rushing to help defeat this crisis—one of them being Disc Makers.
If you have loved ones working in the medical, emergency, janitorial, food service, or any other field without adequate supplies, we’re making face shields as fast as we humanly can and are working on narrow margins to make them affordable. They can be ordered at www.discmakers.com/faceshields. Hospitals that need large quantities can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just forward this email to them.
Let’s go win this war! Tony van Veen CEO, Disc Makers email@example.com
P.S. Our factory is still open and producing CDs, vinyl, and T-shirts. Demand may be down right now because no concerts are happening (though, online sales…), but rest assured that, when you need product now or in a few weeks, we’re here for you.
P.P.S. We are doing all we can to maintain a safe, clean environment at Disc Makers. The only way that potentially impacts you is that we are not accepting any client visits or in-person product pick-ups at our Pennsauken, NJ factory until further notice. You can order online, and we’ll be happy to ship your products right to your door.
David: I didn’t know your songs until you passed away and I watched a CNN short video in tribute to your life and contributions to the musical world.
Dying while doing what one loves most is a blessing, but still hurtful for those left behind.
…Wish I had ‘known’ you sooner…
RIP David Olney: March 23, 1948 – January 18, 2020
About ‘Death Will Not Divide Us’
David often draws inspiration for his music from classic poetry and literature as well as The Greatest Story Ever Told a/k/a The Bible. A true troubadour, many of his tunes touch on social issues of the day. This track is one of ten on his album, “This Side or The Other.” While not a concept album, David alludes to several recurrent themes. One of which is the frequent reference to walls.
His essay, “Taking Sides and Building Walls” begins, “The Wall is in the news.Trump’s Wall.”
Then David continues to touch on various other walls, “…the infamous Berlin Wall…the Great Wall of China…Hadrian’s Wall…In the Middle Ages, cities built walls around Jewish ghettos. The rationale on the part of the State was that the walls helped protect the Jews. The Holocaust put an end to that particular line of logic.”
‘DEATH WILL NOT DIVIDE US’ was co-written with Abbie Gardner (of Red Molly). David says, “I wanted to catch the spirit of Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 38 and 39*. I love Abbie’s line, ‘There’s a moment of decision when the ground comes up to meet us.’” The new music video echoes our ever-changing world with one constant, opening with a young girl joyfully dancing as she leads a parade of the past into the future. Her movements are whimsical, flowing and childlike while she dons a jester hat. Others follow her “blindly” dancing through town, wandering through historic sites and Romanesque buildings, trusting their fearless leader.
Personal Note: the bookstore in the video is a landmark in Nashville – McKay’s Used Books. A really cool place!
* Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Note: Something triggered this nostalgic moment and while more on the rough draft side, I thought I’d use it for day three of my “6 years on WP.org” posts.
Detail of Denver Mandolin Orchestra group photo (circa 1999?) Laura Bruno Lilly (me) – kneeling in front, Paul Drury – tall one in the back
One of the joys of being a performing member of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra was the sense of generational genesis. The turn of the 20th to the 21st century marked my introduction and induction into this motley crew of musicians. A group ranging from violin virtuoso Thereza Stephan doubling on mando; mando greats Eli Karasek, Charlie Provenza, Drew Horton; to mother-daughter and father-son mandolinists sharing music stands during rehearsals and consequent performances. And then there were us guitarists headed by Ron Grosswiler whose collection of historical American classical guitar scores along with Mandolin Orchestra Repertoire from then till now was legendary and not fully revealed until after his death in 2010.
Peppered throughout the DMO’s 23+ musicians, amateurs and professionals alike, we all contributed to the awareness of this largely unknown type of accessible American music. Plus, those like myself who just wanted to play in an ‘orchestra’ with instruments not normally associated with conventional orchestras.
But what I remember most vividly is the memorial service Swallow Hill hosted for one of its own volunteers, and for one of our very own DMO members, Paul Drury, sometime in 2004 (?).
Living within modest means, and one who knew hardship as well as gritty challenges, Paul cared for others. He made sure everyday people got to enjoy simple pleasures – like music. Often, he’d pass on Swallow Hill concert tickets he purchased himself to people he knew marginally (often a little lost in life) – just so they could bask in the healing that is music.
One evening, he died suddenly due to an unperceived advancement in symptoms of diabetic shock…
I hadn’t been a part of the DMO for several years, but was contacted about the jam-session memorial to be held in his honor…an invite to bring my instrument and pluck some of the corny rep we played as a group. And yes, he had a proper musical tribute played by a smaller version of the DMO.
However, it wasn’t until the first strums of Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart drifted through the auditorium sound system that the crowd got silent…Paul’s wish for all, sung for the one we had all come to honor that night.