A Reluctant Reviewer

There are several dozen CDs awaiting my attention, many sent by publicists who likely have long since given up on me – some have been waiting for more than a year. Some came directly from the artists themselves. Back in August of 2007 I explained that “I do not consider or even intend for this blog to be an impartial journal or source of news as in ‘all-the-news-that’s-fit-to-print. I receive tons of press releases and even some review copies of books and CDs, but I used to be very selective in what I choose to write about, and my selection criteria is admittedly based on my personal taste.” (Read the entire It’s My Party post here )

As readership grew, more submissions arrived. When it comes to the roles of music critics and reviewers, I am conflicted about whether I wish to be one. Today I am leaning toward “no.” Duke Ellington is often quoted as defining two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. I have a minimum of three categories, carving out a subsection of Good for the Truly Great. The truly great songs, singers, musicians, arrangements, and performances (live or recorded) are those that transcend the quotidian and make a lasting mark on my soul.

Still, a number of people have sent me these stacks of CDs and I now feel obligated to respond. This feeling will not continue into the new year. Be forewarned: while you are welcomed to send review copies, please know that I will only blog about those I really like. I may from time to time include something for intellectual reasons, allowing for its evolutionary impact, or rail against something I find offensive, but from here on out my primary criteria for a mention on DevraDoWrite will be to share only the music that has touched me. Luckily there are many ‘“reviewers” and “critics” out there who relish the assignment of screening it all for you and they will be the ones who will reap the joy of a new discovery — I am just not one of those people.

So now, here are a few discs that I placed in a pile marked “well done” – they don’t deserve a spot in my forever time capsule, and they do not even rank near the top of the Good list, but they are enjoyable nonetheless.

Jammin’ by the Jay T. Vonada Quartet is Vonada’s debut release. I got nervous when I realized that it was a self-produced novice production comprised entirely of original tunes, but my ears were pleasantly surprised. His compositions have form and flow, and he displays versatility (blues, Latin, swing, bebop, ballad…) This young man has been studying, shedding, and striving. Being a youngster, he has a way to go, but this release bodes well for his future in jazz.

Morning Glory features flautist Dotti Anita Taylor backed by a lady’s trio: Bertha Hope, Miriam Sullivan and Bernice Brooks. This easy swinging CD is a mix of original compositions and well-knowns ranging from a jaunty Time After Time to a contemplative A Child Is Born (Thad Jones). The recording was produced by Houston Person and the trio is joined by percussionist Steve Kroon, saxophonist Patience Higgins, trumpeter Eddie Allen, and guitarist Dave Tunnell on a few tracks.

Our Delight by the Paul Gormley Quartet features Paul on bass, Sam Most on flute, Paul Kreibach on drums and Larry Koonse on guitar. Toe-tapping with the pros from the opening notes, these gents have clocked a lot of hours on the bandstand. The ensemble is tight, the solos good, and the wide-ranging collection of tunes includes compositions by Tadd Dameron, Nat Adderley, Horace Silver, Cole Porter, Henry Mancini. Very enjoyable!

If you want to hear some standards, old-style, take a trip down memory lane with Since You by vocalist Josie Courreges. And if you’re also a movie buff you might appreciate Jazz and the Movies featuring vocalist Jack Wood backed by a number of Los Angeles-based heavy-hitters including George Gaffney and Llew Matthews, Luther Hughes and Jim Hughart, John Pisano and Peter Woodford, Pete Christlieb and Buddy Childers. The songs come from 11 different movies, penned by the likes of Marilyn & Alan Bergman, Arlen/Mercer, Cole Poter, Gershwin, and more.

Fela! Dance Music With A Political Message

Back in the day, I was a New York City child of the sixties. I attended a private progressive elementary school and my friends and I were fairly savvy and politically active — protesting war toys, stumping and stuffing for Bella Abzug, marching on Washington… My friends and I were also music , dance, and theater lovers, singing folk songs, dancing weekly at Michael Herman’s Folk Dance House, attending Broadways musicals and then performing them in our living rooms. Torches have been passed to next generations, and my best friend’s son has learned his musical, social and political lessons well. Barnaby is no longer a kid. Now he’s a young man with two jobs — a 9-5er by day and musician by night. His band (and Barnaby himself) is featured in this video promo for the Broadway show “Fela!”

I did not know that Fela! and I shared a birthday and that on that day last month (October 15), “Felabrations” were held all over world. A happy belated discovery.

In the words of director/choreographer Bill T. Jones “a confrontation of power is always relevant,” and Fela! is is “a wake up call” that hear you can “hear with your hips.” Click here to watch Jones and biographer Dr. Carlos Moore discuss Fela Anikulapo-Kuti on YouTube.

John Levy Celebrated at Farnsworth Park

thankyou.jpgjohn_headshot.jpgjohnheadshot2.jpg This is a cross-posting from SnapSizzleBop.com and includes some extra photos.
 
On Saturday evening, August 15, 2009, half-way through the free concert in the amphitheater at Farnsworth Park in Altadena, a plethora of plaques and commendations were bestowed upon John. Every summer, the Sheriff’s Support Group of Altadena (SSGA), sponsors a series of free concerts sampling a wide variety of musical genres. Saturday night featured smooth-jazz guitarist Brian Hughes, and tho his style is a tad more contemporary than the music John played and the artists he managed, it was fitting nonetheless and we were delighted to be there. Brian even surprised us with a lovely nod to Wes Montgomery in the second half.

[Many thanks to photographer Leroy Hamilton for sharing these pictures. Click on each image to enlarge and view in a separate window.]

ssga_certificateofspecialrecognition.jpgWe knew, of course, that the SSGA was going to honor John, and I suspected that he might get a proclamation from a local politician’s office, but neither of us were prepared for the number of awards that he received. First was the SSGA certificate of Special Recognition presented by the group’s president, Robert Klomberg, in recognition of John’s “achievements in the music world of Jazz, as a performer, Manager, and Produce of the greatest names in Jazz, and as an Altadena resident…”    sheriffsdept_certificateofappreciation.jpg

Then Bob turned the mic over to Capt. Roosevelt Blow who gave John a Certificate of Appreciation from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept, signed by Leroy Baca, in tribute to John’s “dedication, unprecedented professional accomplishments, and lifetime commitment to music.”
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Next came an award from the NAACP, presented by Charles Pulliam, III. We are very familiar with the annual NAACP Image Awards, but this was a Certificate of Merit and so is quite special. In the presentation, they acknowledged that John’s history was just 3 years shy of theirs as the organization is commemorating its centennial, and in an accompanying letter, Branch President Barbara Bigby spoke of how John “paved the way and set the standard for those who enter unchartered territory.” 

lacounty_commendation.jpgCapt. Blow also did the honors on behalf of the California Senate, presenting a Certificate of Recognition for John’s “Lifetime of Music” signed by Carol Liu. Then came a beautiful hand-crafted County of Los Angeles Commendation (click here to see the special detail – a bass depicted to the right of John’s name) from Supervisor Michael Antonovich, “In recognition of dedicated service to the affairs of the community and for the civic pride demonstrated by numerous contributions for the benefit of all citizens of Los Angeles County.” congressionalflag_capitolbldg.jpgcertificateofspecialcongressionalrecognition.jpgAnd last, but certainly not least, Congressman Adam B. Schiff sent not only a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, but also a flag that once flew over the Capitol Building.

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coolidgegang1_4×6.jpgJohn never seeks the spotlight, and Saturday night was no exception. In his acceptance speech he deftly turned the spotlight on his friends. Eight households from our own little block turned out in force (with their children!) as well as many friends from the greater neighborhood at large. coolidgegang2b.jpgAs much as he appreciated the official commendations, nothing touched John’s heart as much as this show of love from our friends who are as close to us as family and who embody the true meaning of community. Thank you Neil and Brenda; Bill; Joe and Jen; johnmcintyres_4×6.jpgRobert and Sue; Richard, Jan, Jessica, and Christopher; Wayne, Cheryl, and Emily; Tom and Judy; Phil, Susan, and Robin; Byron and Regina; Laronda; William and Erin. Also our friends from Fox’s, Diana, Ron, and Spree; friends from across town, Valerie, Kit, Lynn and Mary; and…. (I am bound to have forgotten someone, if so my apologies.)
autographing-books.jpg Events like this require a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and had we known all the participants before-hand, John would have been able to thank them at the time. Now, after-the-fact, we want to at least acknowledge as many a we can, publicly via the Internet, and extend our heartfelt thanks for all that they did. Capt. Roosevelt Blow who spearheaded this effort, Robert Klomburg, President of the SSGA, the group that sponsors this annual series of free concerts in Farnsworth Park, and Angelica Calleros of Parks and Recreation. Also: Carolyn Seitz of the Sheriff’s Community Advisory Committee; Jamie Bissner, member of SSGA and the Altadena Town Council; all the members of the Altadena Sheriff’s Station including Lieutenant Sheila Sanchez, Sergeant Marsha Williams, Sergeant Dan Bartlett, and Deputy Sammy Estrada; Sussy Nemer and Rita Hadjimonukian in Supervisor Antonovich’s office; William Syms in Congressman Schiff’s office; and District Director Tahra Goraya in Carol Liu’s office.
WE THANK YOU, ONE AND ALL.

Of Interest

I often watch Bill Moyer’s Journal but I missed the April 17 episode with producer David Simon:

The executive producer of HBO’s critically-acclaimed show THE WIRE, David Simon talks with Bill Moyers about inner-city crime and politics, storytelling and the future of journalism today. After a dozen years covering crime for the BALTIMORE SUN, David Simon left journalism to write books and tell stories for NBC and HBO, including his Peabody-winning cop show THE WIRE, which looked at the drug wars and the gritty underbelly of the inner-city. Simon is now producing the pilot for a series about musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans, called TREME.

Though not an avid watcher of The Wire, I have appreciated Simon’s past work at the Baltimore Sun, and am now intrigued by this potential new series.

Also worth noting is his testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee kindly reposted here by ReclaimTheMedia

Thanks, Ken, for bringing these links to my attention.

Bea Arthur & Luther Henderson

On August 15, 2005, at 11 AM, Bea Arthur buzzed me through the gate to her Brentwood home on North Rockingham. When she opened the font door wearing a terry-cloth robe and skippers I thought perhaps she had been out by a pool. “Forgive me,” she said, “I forgot you were coming. Make yourself comfortable.” It took her only a few moments to throw on a jogging suit and fold her 6-foot-9-plus-inch frame into the pillows of a comfortable couch. “Good thing this was not a video interview. Looking good takes so much effort these days.” Bea Arthur shared a few personality traits her most famous characters, Maude Findlay and golden girl Dorothy Zbornak, so I easily imagined each of them explaining that the golden years are not always so golden.

I had met Ms. Arthur almost a year earlier at a memorial service for Luther Henderson. He had played a major role in the careers of many singers. From 1947 to 1950, he worked as pianist and musical director for Lena Horne, and during that time, and for decades to follow, all the singers wanted him to write their shows, Bea Arthur, Robert Goulet, Diahann Carroll, Nancy Wilson, Goldie Hawn, and Florence Henderson among them.

At the memorial, Bea Arthur told us a story about her invitation to sing a song called “It Amazes Me” at an affair honoring Cy Coleman twenty-five years earlier.

“I thought, ‘I know there’s going to be a lot of terrific talent honoring Cy,’ and I decided that rather than just slide in and go to rehearsal next day, I thought, ‘No. I’m going to go a day earlier and work with Luther and really kill the people.”

“So I did, and we worked; we worked all that day. Quite wonderful. And then the night of the event, which was, I remember, at Peacock Alley at the Waldorf – black tie, oh, I mean it was fabulous – a number of people got up and performed Cy’s stuff. And then Tony Bennett came and started singing and, of course, he leveled the place, just tore the place up to such a degree that – I don’t know if you remember this, Billy – that he had to do an encore. So Cy sat down at the piano and Tony sang…“It Amazes Me.” I never in my life … I was so devastated! So after that, we just went to the bar and got loaded.”

And after telling the story, Ms. Arthur, then casually dressed in white pants, tunic top, and sandals, regal as ever, began to sing, accompanied by Billy Goldenberg. Even without a microphone, her voice was strong and sure, her delivery, striking.

I wanted to know more about her relationship with Luther Henderson and that is what had brought me to her house for an interview. She was very apologetic about her memory, but she provided a few pieces to the the jigsaw puzzle of Luther’s life. He first worked with Ms. Arthur in her ingenue days (late 1940s) and she remembered going to his studio:

I was told about Luther, who was a coach and had an arrangement with a voice teacher. I forget exactly what street it was on. I was going to say 48th. No, the theater, the New School theater was there. But I started working with Luther who saw something in me because he never charged me because I didn’t have any money anyway.

It was the time when everyone was emulating Lena Horne. And Luther taught me, among other things, to play the lyrics, to make sure you hear the lyrics, which of course was Lena’s big thing.

And he took me, I don’t know, some place up in Harlem to some black club there where I sang. I, with Luther’s help, auditioned for one night club called One Fifth Avenue. I remember they billed me as “Bea Arthur, Songs from the Heart.” I think I lasted one night. I mean I was fine when I was singing, but I never knew what to do in between songs. I was so up tight, I couldn’t say, ‘Thank you ladies and gentlemen … for my next number I’d like ….’ I just kind of froze there with a shit-eating grin on my face, you know?

This reminiscence corroborates other accounts. Luther’s notes about studying the Schillinger method at the NYU Graduate School of Music (1946-47) included a mention: “During this time I had set up a studio as a freelance arranger/orchestrator and vocal coach on 47th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.” That would have been Vamp Studios. According to a newspaper advertisement saved in Luther’s papers at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, VAMP stands for “Voice Action Music Production,” and Luther, along with Richard Camillucci and Buster Newman, offered “songs, arrangements, and special material written.”

After the initial coaching, Ms. Arthur remembered only two other professional interactions — an episode of Maude required her to sing, so they brought in Luther for a guest appearance, and the Cy Colman story told at Luther’s memorial — but they remained friends throughout the years. I asked her when she last saw Luther and to describe him for me.

“When we played Broadway and I was in New York for three or four months, I had a couple of dinners with Luther and Billie at Picholine, I think. … Luther was fuzzy. Kind of fuzzy and ticklish. You know, his humor was very low key and impish.”

Those dinners took place in 2002. Ms. Arthur remarked on how old Luther looked (“I was rather surprised to see him older”) but I doubt that she knew about his ongoing cancer battle as that was something Luther did not often discuss. She also mentioned a recent Ellington project (“he really got slammed”). The bad review actually occurred in at the end of September, 2000, almost 18 months before these dinners. Ms. Arthur may or may not have read the review in The New York Times from her Southern California home, but around the time of those dinners Luther was actively seeking funding for a follow-up project, Classic Ellington II, so his endeavors and the bad review were very much on his mind and likely discussed over meals with friends.

Piecing together snippets of someone’s life story and interviewing all sorts of people is the fun part of writing biographies. Many snippets never find their way into the final product, and whether Luther’s brief encounters with Ms. Arthur merit more than a mention in the final Seeking Harmony manuscript remains to be seen. Yet knowing all sort of seemingly trivial details informs the big picture, even if in intangible ways.

I have interviewed all sorts of people that I would never had met otherwise, and I am grateful that Ms. Arthur allowed me to spend a few hours with her.

DVT Alert – A Spring Awareness Campaign

I received phone call last week from a publicist at Burson-Marsteller. This was unusual on many counts.

  • 1. it was a phone call (I miss that)
  • 2. I don’t have any personal contacts with flacks there
  • 3. she was calling about a medical story, not my usual beat
  • At first I assumed she found me because of my blog, but I noticed when she followed up via email that she had my writer email address, not my blogger address. Hmmm… She led right off with Deep Vein Thrombosis and she sounded surprised that I knew what that was.

    Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolisms can be lethal. I’ve never had one, but I well remember the scare. It was during my cancer war days and I, an in-patient, fainted while seated in a wheelchair enroute to my room following a CT scan. When I came to, moments later, I was on a gurney and already on my way to Intensive Care because the doctors feared that I might have thrown a clot. They kept me there for 48-hours, just in case. In addition to the chemo lines, trachea and gastro tubes, I was now connected to the EKG, pulse, oxygen, and other monitors; tethered in every possible way. Those 48 hours were scarier than the cancer.

    DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the lower limbs. A complication of DVT, pulmonary embolism, can occur when a fragment of a blood clot breaks loose from the wall of the vein and migrates to the lungs, where it blocks a pulmonary artery or one of its branches.

    Anyway, six years ago, March was proclaimed National DVT Awareness Month and the Coalition to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis is on a mission to educate Americans about the dangers. Their National Patient Spokesperson is Melanie Bloom, widow of NBC news correspondent David Bloom who died in Iraq due to complications of DVT, and they’ve recently announced Driving to Reduce the Risks of DVT, a nationwide mobile campaign designed to encourage dialogue between healthcare professionals and patients about this serious but preventable condition.

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    The customized recreational vehicle is currently visiting hospitals and local communities. They started off on March 3rd in Washington DC. On Tuesday the 10th they’ll be in the big apple, stopping first at Rockefeller Center for The Today Show and then the Weill Cornell Medical Center. Another highlight will be a stop at the Metrodome for a Minneapolis Twins baseball game on May 12th, but mostly they’ll be visiting hospitals and universities. Other strops include Richmond, Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas, San Antonio, Pheonix, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Columbus, ending in Pittsburgh on May 23rd.

    Here are a few more scary facts:

      Complications from DVT kill more people each year in the U.S. than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
      In the United States, DVT affects up to 2 million people annually.
      Approximately 300,000 Americans die each year from a pulmonary embolism, the majority of which result from DVT
      DVT-related pulmonary embolisms are the most common cause of preventable hospital death

    And here is their factsheet.

    Computers – a tool for enhancing communication?

    This really cracked me up, especially now that I’m Mac-enamored. I’m not one who usually passes around jokes via email. A few are indeed funny, but most are just so-so. And who among us has enough time to read them all anyway? Anyway, I found this enactment on YouTube awhile back and I’m still enjoying it.

    I can assure you that this is all too plausible. Here’s the script:

    COSTELLO CALLS TO BUY A COMPUTER FROM ABBOTT . . . .

    ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. May I help you?

    COSTELLO: Thanks. I’m setting up an office in my den and I’m thinking about buying a computer.

    ABBOTT: Mac?

    COSTELLO: No, the name’s Lou.

    ABBOTT: Your computer?

    COSTELLO: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.

    ABBOTT: Mac?

    COSTELLO: I told you, my name’s Lou.

    ABBOTT: What about Windows?

    COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

    ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

    COSTELLO: I don’t know. What will I see when I look in the windows?

    ABBOTT: A desktop and wallpaper.

    COSTELLO: I already have a desk with a large top, so never mind the windows with the computer. I just need a computer and software.

    ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

    COSTELLO: No. For the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?

    ABBOTT: Office.

    COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

    ABBOTT: I just did.

    COSTELLO: You just did what?

    ABBOTT: Recommend something.

    COSTELLO: You recommended something?

    ABBOTT: Yes.

    COSTELLO: For my office?

    ABBOTT: Yes.

    COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

    ABBOTT: Office.

    COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

    ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

    COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let’s just say I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

    ABBOTT: Word.

    COSTELLO: What word?

    ABBOTT: The Word in Office.

    COSTELLO: The only word in office is “office”.

    ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

    COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows? I told you I don’t want windows installed in my computer.

    ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue “W”.

    COSTELLO: I’m going to click your “blue ‘W'” if you don’t  start with some straight answers! OK, forget

    that. Can I watch movies on the internet on this computer?

    ABBOTT: Yes, you’ll want Real One.

    COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!

    ABBOTT: Real One.

    COSTELLO: If it’s a long movie I also want to see reel 2, 3 & 4. Can I watch them?

    ABBOTT: Of course.

    COSTELLO: Great! With what?

    ABBOTT: Real One.

    COSTELLO: OK, I’m at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

    ABBOTT: You click the blue “1”.

    COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

    ABBOTT: The blue “1”.

    COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue “W”?

    ABBOTT: The blue “1” is Real One and the blue “W” is Word.

    COSTELLO: What word?

    ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

    COSTELLO: But there are three words in “office for windows”!

    ABBOTT: No, just one. But it’s the most popular Word in the world.

    COSTELLO: It is?

    ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren’t many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.

    COSTELLO: And that word is “real one”?

    ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn’t even part of Office.

    COSTELLO: STOP! Don’t start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

    ABBOTT: Money.

    COSTELLO: That’s right. What do you have?

    ABBOTT: Money.

    COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

    ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

    COSTELLO: What’s bundled with my computer?

    ABBOTT: Money.

    COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

    ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

    COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer?  How much?

    ABBOTT: One copy.

    COSTELLO: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?

    ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

    COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

    ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

    A FEW DAYS LATER . .

    ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. May I help you?

    COSTELLO: Your people set up this computer in my den and turned it on, but how do I turn it off?

    ABBOTT: Click on “START.”

    Lukas Foss, R.I.P.

    Lukas Foss, Composer at Home in Many Stylistic Currents, Dies at 86 (The New York Times obit) Back in June of 2007 Laurie (my girlfriend from elementary school days) was in the chorus of the revival of Lukas Foss’s major cantata, “The Prairie.” It had been decades since this work was heard in a New York performance.

    The concert at the Rose Theater celebrated Foss’s 85th birthday, and he was present for the concert celebration. Professional soloists were backed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic and The Greenwich Village Singers (Laurie has been a longtime member) with the Choral Society of the Hamptons forming a chorus of over 100 voices.

    Laurie said the piece reminds her a bit of Gershwin, with some Copeland-esque sounds, “but it is not at all derivative–in fact, it’s wholly original and just a very cool piece of music. Very difficult not to like, even for those of you who do not ordinarily listen to choral music.”

    You can read more about An American Awakening: The Rediscovery of a Choral Masterpiece on The Prairie Project website. The text, which was adapted by the composer from Carl Sandburg’s “The Prairie,” is posted there, along with the composer’s commentary a seen in the program from the 1944.

    Sunday morning correspondence

    This morning’s email brought links to three CD reviews: two about Hemispheres (Jim Hall/Bill Frisell with Scott Colley and Joey Baron) in The Independent newspaper in London and State of Mind, and the third was in JazzReview about Brother to Brother (John, Jeff and Gerald Clayton with Terell Stafford and Obed Calvaire). As you may know, I’m a fan and it just so happened that as 2008 drew to a close I had a last-minute assignment to write press releases for these two ArtistShare recordings. I have become so used to reading articles and reviews from around the world that I have to remind myself just how amazing it is that we can be so connected with the whole wide world…and how exhilarating as well as overwhelming that can feel.

    Social networking is a part of that mix and as I just wrote to Orrin Keepnews this morning, “this social networking stuff is crazy and can be time consuming, but it’s fun, people post some wonderful videos and pictures, and it feels good to be connected.” I am trying to juggle the feel-good nature with the usefulness factor, exponentially confounded by three networks — Facebook more social, Linkedin more biz, and I haven’t figured out the point of Twitter yet but you can follow me. All I know is that I can now use HelloTxt to post status messages to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously…for whatever that’s worth. Does anybody really need to know, or care, that I’m about to brew a pot of coffee or head off to pilates?

    What do you think? Are DevraDoWrite readers signed on to any of these networks? Why or why not? Do you read publications from afar and if so, how often? Please post your comments or email me directly.

    My Two-Cents Worth

    Happy New Year, one and all. Have you made your resolutions? I’ve got so many that I had to make lists of my lists. Mostly I resolved to allocate my time more wisely, eschew distractions so as to focus on my writing, and return to a consistent blogging schedule. My desires, coupled with the current state of the world, require that I make some more money and spend less of it.

    I took some time this morning to clip coupons. I never used to do this with any regularity, and while the world’s economic downturn has motivated all of us to tighten our proverbial belts, I admit that my clipping fancy has more than a little to do with preventing the conglomerates from taking extra advantage of me than it does with saving 40 cents on my next four cans of soup. Coupons, and grocery club cards, are proof of the over-inflated prices on all of the products we buy. On top of the cost of making goods, manufacturers add in the cash-back values along with the advertising expenses, kitchen sink, and profit margin before settling on a retail price. If we take the time to clip, and remember to carry the coupons and club cards to the store, then we save a few cents, or even several dollars, and they still get their profits; if we forget, then they get their profits plus a cherry on top. Why should I anoint their sundaes when I can bake my own cherry pie?

    And do they really believe that the availability of coupons actually alters our shopping selection? I’ve been told that I am not a typical consumer, but I wonder. The coupons never affect my taste preferences nor shake my brand loyalties that were mostly forged in childhood. Just because I can get cents off a box of Fiber One doesn’t mean I’ll buy it instead of Raisin Bran; and the only time I ever buy go-gurt is when the grand-kids are visiting. Furthermore, while I now have a large stash of coupons for products I do buy, sorted by the month in which they expire, I am not likely to buy those items right now, unless I need them right now. If a coupon expires before a need arises, too bad — no sale.

    Okay, so this counts as a double check-mark on my lists: a blog post + saving cents.