Sketches + Suggestions

In 2002, Jeff Fowler locked himself in a studio for the weekend with three accomplished jazz musicians, none of whom, for legal/contractual reasons can be named here. The result: ‘Sketches + Suggestions’, a jazz tour de force featuring Fowler on piano. These tracks have never seen the light of day until now. Mixed and Mastered at Jousting Studios, at Bureau HQ, these 16 jazz tracks run a variety of moods, from cagey to sublime:

1. Her Nerves
2. Tentative Decisions
3. Secret Multiple
4. Appeal to Reason
5. Why Take It Away
6. You Told Me But I Wouldn’t Listen
7. She May Never Have Known
8. Breaks All These Things
9. Something Lost Forgotten
10. For A Better Day
11. Another Night On The Moon
12. Fair and Square
13. End of Our Rope (Found)
14. You Will Try
15. Crazy Midnight Dreams
16. Bliss

The above opening statement notwithstanding, all songs were composed, performed, recorded, engineered and produced by Fowler in 2002. Final production and mastering was accomplished last night using Acoustica Premium Edition (with Voxengo .vst plugins).

All sounds were, in fact, made solely using a Roland KR-577 Intelligent Piano (yes, even the drums which were recorded ‘live’, not sequenced).

Download Sketches + Suggestions free of charge here.

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History Meets Dust: A Short, Surreal Story by V.N. Lombergh III

For score and seventeen hundred years ago our further foreskins mapped to jars all over this continent. Twain fells the delicate underline mayday bats to brains made slovenly low. All in all our catastrophe was bartered to plastic realms already mastered. Artichokes stifled painters and musicians alike into the peppered ground.
“We shall not want!” cried the colonists.
To that, King George replied, “Ardios reptellum carpe pollum,” which (loosely translated) meant, “It is difficult to tell if you are fishing or instead love lizards more.”
Once, we calliope snatch ocean’s perfume, the largesse foaming rammed our waves and could no longer stand toe to toenail with slinkies. Arguments ensued only to be understood by barristers with halos, meaning the void had been achieved inside an half-hour’s moment. Yet time, if not speed, was of the essence. This, of course, explained nearly everything. The only parachute never to open, sadly (and saltily), still hung in a closet on a plane now sitting, shifting softly, near the Strait of Magellan.
“Arduous lightfood hokum!” Colonel Revere cried.
“Why must you constantly wake my slumber?” Tom Jeffer’s son inquired, groggy-eyed.
“Not in my lifetime hath I foreseen such impressive marbles,” said Mayor Humpledink, still stinging from his lack of recognition for single-handedly trouncing the sink bubbles he found emanating from the spout of diswashing liquid.
“Where oh where are you tonight?” wailed a group of daisies, unimpressed by the attempts of the weasels to stir the pot, however boiling, focused solely they were upon Emperor sunlight instead.
We gallop from history into mundanity for such intensity of spotlight slips, banana-peel-like, off the stage of illogic upon players too gullible not to rid themselves of all dignity upon learning that a few pieces of silver may be gained. I, for one, was salivating with interest and found stiffened joint-like object lessons for those who needed comforting. Thus, the conclusion became lark-like with grins and such.

THE END

Quote of the Day

“To name an object is largely to destroy poetic enjoyment. The ideal is to suggest the object. The magic charm of art requires not description, but rather evocation, allusion, suggestion. Only by abandoning the objects of earthly life can poetry and art achieve a universal musicality and a state of soul.”
-Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)

The Law and You

If you have enough money or are in the right position to file a suit in court, you can create any kind of reality that you wish as long as journalists are stupid enough to publish it. The tide of public opinion can sway to and fro, depending on who can fill enough reams of paper. Then the talk show pundits and bloggers can have a field day.

Reality: filing a suit does not mean anything at all except somebody wrote some words on a paper and had enough conviction/political will to file it in one of the 1,000’s of courts of law in our great country.

I suppose it is comforting in a way to know that anyone in the world can be put on the defensive if someone has the money to hire an attorney who can pose it in a reasonable way. Of course, counter suits can prevail as well, but people with a certain political agenda can use the courts as a continual weapon to push their way of thinking.

Now I do not wish to curtail the freedom of the press or prevent people from availing themselves of the court system, but I believe belligerent suits (such as linking people to terrorism with no real evidence) should be closely watched. I am also an advocate for a better educated public regarding what is and not significant in our court systems. Remember: consider the source of the core information. Not always easy to decipher, I know.

Finding Lost Children

The strange thing about creativity is that often I find I have to rediscover pieces I have finished, set aside, and completely forgotten. I record under the moniker “The Silence Bureau” (see www.thesilencebureau.blogspot.com) and I am fortunate to have a home studio. With instant access to recording technology (that has grown more and more sophisticated over the years) I often will find more joy in working on something and moving on then dwelling on just what to do with it. So it is with 45:48, a live ambient piece I actually recorded outside my studio. Probably what made me forget this piece was the circumstance surrounding it. I recorded it as a rehearsal for a live performance I was to do on NTNS radio, an internet radio show, formerly hosted by John Ingram (www.intelligentmachinery.net). It was a proof of concept piece where I set up a limited amount of my equipment down in my den, hooked up to a CD recorder and did it all in one take. I never made it to the performance. The day of the show, my wife was in a car accident. A truck rear-ended her Honda Civic, that she hadn’t had for even a year yet. I had to call John from the hospital to tell the bad news. That was early 2006.

With some recent work I’ve done unearthing other past works of mine, I was hunting around and found 45:48 (a title I just derived from its length). It’s just one long ambient track, sometimes haunting, sometimes humorous, sometimes startling. I will have to work on getting it mastered and posted to the Bureau website. So out of touch I was, though, that this even existed was I posted a whole new ‘complete’ discography of my work to date, leaving it off entirely.

Oh well. It will stay off the list until the next release goes up. Of course, during this process I also discovered at least six finished tracks that have seen the light of day here and there (appearing on ‘Extras’ tracks as incentive to buy the album back when I was releasing my work through John or posted to various outlets such as Soundclick and MySpace), but have since never appeared on any currently available Bureau release. It’s like finding a son or daughter you sort of knew about and have now realized ‘oh it’s you’ and being suddenly interested again in doing something with them.

Announcement: The Silence Bureau releases ‘Vacuum of Power’

The Silence Bureau is proud to announce the release of Vacuum of Power, thirteen tracks of eclectic, alternative pop. Originally released as a CD with hand-made packaging in September 2000 to a few friends, this album has been remastered and is now available at www.thesilencebureau.com . It was the first CD release by The Silence Bureau. All previous material had been available only on cassette tape.

The full link to Vacuum of Power is www.thesilencebureau.com/SB_VOP.zip .

Tracks:

1 Petty Crime
2 Rosetta Stone
3 She (A Song)
4 Grunge Face
5 Computers Suck
6 Time-Traveling Girl
7 Onion
8 Jazz Notes (from Bob)
9 Crowbar
10 Apathy Generation
11 Live in Fear
12 Funny You Should Ask
13 Too Much Water (Without Drowning)

Vacuum of Power is #4 in the ‘Noise Furniture’ series.

Quote of the Day 3

“If you don’t like the spirit [of this country], then change the things that make the spirit happen. If you have kids who are rebellious, if you have kids that are hopeless, if you have kids who are into drugs, then give them something to hope for. What I tell kids and have been telling kids for quite some time, I tell them first register to vote and second, as soon as you’re old enough, run for something.”

-Frank Zappa, 1986

Quote of the Day 2

“When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view [you have a right-wing fascist state].”

-Frank Zappa, 1986

Zappa’s point is that, while government has an obligation to support certain moral behavior that facilitates a free, democratic society, when legislators pass laws based on specific theology, they violate the country’s founding principles.

Greetings From Caucasia

Because it’s a new year, over the holidays, I decided to get in touch with my ethnic roots by returning to the home country of Caucasia. What a lovely place. A place where vanilla beans grow plentiful. A bakery on every street with the sweet smell of white bread lingering in the air and all the people’s linens have that freshly bleached scent. I will admit the square dances each evening and the lack of any athletic sports left me a little bereft. Still, it was nice to return home. I had always wondered what it would be like. After so many years of filling out surveys, forms, and, under ‘ethnicity’, filling out the bubble for ‘Caucasian’ , I dreamt of the day I would be able to return to my point of origin. It did not disappoint. White picket fences as far as the eye could see. Clear, running brooks behind all the neatly-rowed houses. It’s such a pleasant place. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, but later found out that cameras, in fact, while not prohibited, are not especially encouraged. It seems that the people in charge of Caucasia would prefer that we remember it well in our imaginations, thus adding to its mythical charm. I may never return to Caucasia, but one day I am hoping that all Caucasians get a chance to return to their homeland. It’s always nice to find one’s roots.

Social Media Reality Check

Paul Seaman makes some predictions in 2009 about social media (thanks to Jason for pointing this out). I have condensed his ten points into a few major statements, along with my comments.

1) The media form the fourth estate precisely because they connect to their audiences and interact with them.

No they don’t. They connect to their advertisers and owners and show what their advertisers and owners want them to show and suppress what their advertisers and owners don’t want shown.

2) The major media players will be recognized as clear leaders across all channels and formats, including blogs.

Wrong. The major media players will be increasingly seen as irrelevant to the daily lives of most people as they become dependent on more and more advertising, which no one wants to watch or be exposed to. It’s a joke to think anyone cares about a major media player’s ‘blog’ when there’s no such thing. When a real person keeps a web log/journal it’s a blog. When a major corporation does it, it’s just a website.

3) Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and other firms already have the ideal infrastructure for social networking in the form of the address books, in-boxes and calendars of their users. It has the advantage of being an open rather than a closed Web network.

Microsoft has software. Google has a great search engine. Neither one has done anything for social networking except provide free email. Yahoo! is a total joke. It’s ‘social networking’ is very terrible chat rooms which are dominated by computer generated personalities called ‘bots’ that Yahoo! has no way of controlling due to their ‘open’ network. There is nothing ‘closed’ about Facebook except the fact that you actually have to have user permission to connect with someone. It’s called social networking for a reason. You have to work at it.

4) Social media will mostly remain gossipy, silly and only very slightly scary.

People share their lives on social networking sites and keep in touch with family and friends as well as make new ones. Far from gossipy or silly, they will be increasingly cultural touchstones as we progress through the new millennium.

5) 2009 will confirm that there are no replacements for old media such as TV, radio, print, or even advertising.

No one cares about advertising except those doing the advertising. Commercials provide us time to get a drink, eat a snack, or take a whiz while waiting for the show or game to come back on. Executives who think otherwise are ego maniacs who think everything is about them anyway. Marketing people know how to lie to them and stroke their egos, but the reality is – no one cares about ads or takes them seriously.

6) Professionalism and quality matter


A personal touch and amateur quality will be increasingly more sought after to differentiate from canned, plastic garbage that the media elite have been selling us for years. We’re tired of it and can do without it. I’d rather listen to a friend’s band then the latest teeny-bopper manufactured group that is supposed to be famous or Simon Clown’s next big ‘accidental’ hyped-up discovery.

7) The most important social networks will be mum, dad, wife, husband, and best friend.

More and more, people will create their own networks of the people they really care about, regardless of their blood relation or marriage contract. People will become more intimate rather than less with more people simply because it is easier to do through technology. As a newer generation, who grew up with the technology is unafraid of sharing themselves with the world, more of the older generation will catch on. The insular nuclear family will be enhanced by social networking but people will not be limited to blood relatives and a few ‘best’ friends.

All in all, Mr. Seaman speaks as a media elitist without any clear understanding of the actual social networking world around him. He either is not paying attention or just doesn’t get it. His message is this: “I’m a trained professional so don’t try this at home.” Well, boys and girls, that cat is already out of the bag and running wild. He’s not going back in either, so get used to it. The internet revolution is not only not over, but it’s just beginning.

If you want to stay on top of the game, then my advice for big media is that the things people will always go for are:

1) Nostalgia. Give people something they grew up with and give it life and continuity and you have something there.

2) Fresh humor. A new perspective that is real and relevant will always be viewable. Re-invent the sit-com. Create a new Monty Python. Appeal to the Seinfeld audience.

3) Cute. Everybody likes cute. Though you can overdo it with all the dog movies.

4) Newsmakers speaking candidly about real situations. A politician giving speeches is out. Real people who happen to be serving in elected office giving interviews to real people who happen to have a camera and a microphone are in.

5) Stuff about ourselves. This is why social networking is not going anywhere because everyone creates the content and it’s about us. Nothing can beat that. Nothing.

New Goals for 2009

It’s a new year and a new head of the federal administration is taking the helm. Election promises aside, we need new goals to improve our society and bring about prosperity.

Goals to set:

1) Infrastructure improvement – building something you cannot maintain is foolish. We have gas lines, sewer lines, roads, bridges, and all types of systems that need attention. Tomorrow is not the time to start doing this. It should have started years ago. When you buy a car, you get a handy manual that tells you when to have certain maintenance performed. It’s time to get that manual out for the U.S. infrastructure.

2) Complete rejection of religion in public decision making – if I told you that my firm belief is that Gorgons from Nebula 5 will one day return to take over our planet and free us from the slavery of other men and that the spirit of the Gorgon prophet Uka fills us all with his great light of peace, you would think I was crazy. So far, the major religions of this planet have done little better than the Gorgons of Nebula 5. Organized religion (as opposed to personal spiritual belief) is a crock. It’s time we let rationalists make decisions and not spiritualists, sorcerers, witches, faith healers and power mad religious crackpots who invent ways to psychologically enslave weaker minds and build up their own power at the expense of society. If people want to believe in a personal God and worship Him on their own time, that’s fine. But freedom of religion necessarily entails freedom from any particular religion. No one belief system should be in charge of making decisions for everybody, Christianity notwithstanding. For the Gorgon believers wish to create laws to ready our nation for the great return of Uka*. Should we let them? (The point is: anyone with an above average intelligence and imagination, a modicum of stage presence, and mildly decent acting skills can lead people down the rosy path into a ditch.)

3) A Reduction in Work Time – If people worked less they would spend less time wasting time while at work. The truth is this: work expands to fill the time allotted for it. Working ‘harder’ is dumb. With more actual free time, people would actually work more effectively because they could concentrate on their jobs instead of the million things they don’t have time to do because they’re always at work. There needs to be a mandatory cap on hours worked – 32 is the cap. No one works over that – that means no ‘overtime’ or other such trickery. The reduction in work time would also mean more time for people to independently, on their own time: exercise, invent things, invest in their families, and enjoy the life enhancements of our time. Culture could become important again. The arts could flourish. People could be(gasp), happy and productive instead of obese and depressed. Let’s face it, most work occurs at the direction of a few bosses at the top who think they have the answers. Obviously, they do not. They’re primary goal is to make a profit for their shareholders, the invisible masters who rule over the company. This does not lead to innovation or anything resembling democracy or freedom for Americans. Free the slaves. Free the Americans.

4) A living wage – Every job in America should pay enough for food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and a modest amount of entertainment. The idea that people have to constantly work just to scrape by is a travesty. It’s sheer greed and the corporations who allow it do it intentionally. If they can’t figure out how to do business while investing in a solid workforce, then they should go out of business. Is that not what the market is for?

5) Stability – We need to stabilize America. This has three parts.

a) We need to treat everyone like human beings and no one like gods and kings. We spend far too much paying sports stars and movie stars and media stars huge amounts of money to play around while everyone else struggles: teachers, firemen, policemen, ordinary people. No, don’t spread the wealth. Don’t give wealth to people who don’t deserve it to begin with. As far as CEOs, unless you started the company in your basement and grew it to where it is today, you don’t deserve gazillions of dollars to press the autopilot button or feel good about yourself. Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut their salaries, bonuses, etc. Incentives for innovation and enhancing the business in someway is great, but do not give people ‘golden parachutes’ when they drive the business into the ground. When that happens there is obviously something nefarious going on. Don’t think we’re stupid.

b) Encouraging stable families.

i) Make divorce possible only for abuse and neglect. Hopefully people will take a lot longer to decide whether to get married or not. This will necessarily create better matches because the threshold for getting married will be a lot higher.

ii) Make it illegal for any business other than the military to transfer employees from one location to another. Local areas need a legacy of families who grow and contribute to their community and that is impossible when families stay for two to three years and then disappear because Erudine Inc. decided it needed a new branch manager in Hoboken. If this means providing tax cuts for people who stay longer in a community, then do it.

iii) Give non-traditional marriage partners the same rights as conventional partners. This means if people want to marry someone of the same gender or multiple people want to partner together in a marriage relationship, they have the same rights as anyone else. This is a matter of contract law. If people want to contract with one another in any type of legal relationship, that should not be limited by religious belief systems that curtail their rights.

c) Make it illegal to fire someone other than for gross misconduct. Any other system creates virtual slavery where bosses have entirely too much power. Yes, people can quit, if they don’t mind having no health insurance, no money, no car, no home, etc.

6) Discourage the anal retentive, the obsessive compulsive, and the ego maniacal. Our society currently encourages insanity by putting people with these traits in charge. It’s time we stopped doing that. We need special program to treat these people at an early age as soon as they start showing these traits.

7) Provide incentives for good behavior rather than punishment for bad. We live in a society run on fear of going to jail. How about if we lived in a society where we lived on the joy of doing good? Some would say, why would we have to encourage good behavior? Shouldn’t people feel intrinsically good about “doing the right thing”? Well, wouldn’t you rather have your insurance company pay you for not having accidents then all your money going to people who do? What people don’t understand is our tax money, our hard-earned money goes to felons and others to take care of them in prison. I’m not saying we do away with jails. I’m saying we make them pay their own way and if they can’t, then they starve to death. Cruel and unusual? It’s a cruel society that takes money away from honest people to give it to people who really don’t give a rip about society. That means more money in the pockets of people who do the right thing.

8) Reform the criminal code so that only real crimes are punished by jail time. Rape, murder, theft, battery, and arson are crimes. If we concentrated on just a few really bad actions that are obviously unwanted in society we may have justice system that would not be bogged down in every ridiculous puny charge invented by overzealous legislators.

9) Seat Congress every ten years. We don’t need them in session that much. They really can only do more harm than good. And how does anyone keep up with all the laws enacted? I guarantee you that no one knows. It’s a waste of time.

10) Ignore this whole list. That’s right. Ignore it all. But if you do, you have to come up with your own list of what you would do to make society better.

It takes minimal effort to be a critic. Society is full of complainers, naysayers, and negativity. Where are the real ideas rather than pat dismissals? Where is an assertion of something positive? It’s not enough to be a commenter or an analyst. It’s not enough to cling to some party line like a baby with a philosophical blanket. Invent. Create. Make something positive happen.

*This entails requiring all women to wear what amounts to fake furry tails and all men have to erect a huge statue in the likeness of a giant Kumquat, exactly 600 feet high and 350 feet wide. There’s more but those are the main things.