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Remember The Park Avenue Playground?

Park Avenue Playground On 45
Park Avenue Playground 45

You’re not alone in your lack of recall of this obscure band, trust me.

Back in the late 60’s I was in a pop rock garage band. I know, I know. So was everyone else. Known then as the U.S.Males, we were performing quite a lot in the Chicago-land area but again, so was everybody. Garage bands were like Starbucks now. On any given day, when we would go outside on a break, we could hear the muffled thump and low tone of a kick drum and a bass with a hint of too loud electric guitar and screaming vocals coming from multiple directions in my south Chicago suburb of Lansing, IL.

I was alternately on rhythm guitar or bass (when the bass player didn’t show up for a gig or practice) and was writing half of the original material along with Mike, the Farfisa player. We performed so much we began garnering bit of attention and backing.

So now we move into a more rarified field. We got ourselves a record! with the help of our friend, manager, mentor and body gaurd, Larry Goldberg who just recently got in touch with me through the interwebs. We recorded up in Madison WI (I coulda swore it was Michigan) and came back with a tasty little pop 45.

After a name change, we got on the bill with quite a few acts in the area. We started playing the same circuit with The Cryan Shames, The Flock, The Shadows of Knight, not to mention opening for Spirit, The Bob Seger System and a host of other bands too numerous and lost in the synapses of my mind at this posting. A few more were; Mason Profit, The Outsiders, The Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent’s band) and Alice Cooper (if you need a link to find out who Alice is, I can’t help you)

Not everyone was as lucky as my bandmates and I were in those heady days of early american garage rock. We had fun almost always. There was that weekend in Peoria .. but I digress.

Now, all these years later, a label named Sundazed Music Inc. has released a compilation of recordings released on USA and Destination records, available in *vinyl* as well as CD, which includes the A & B sides of our humble 45.

My life is awesomesauciest at this moment.

Makes me wanna make another record.

Remember Boz Scaggs?

I was humming a song from Boz’s “My Time” circa ’72. I went to my LP collection to see what else was on the record and was reminded, once again, that it was no longer in my possession.

My LPs of artists with names beginning with ~A~ through ~Co~ were stolen when I moved to Seattle back in ’93. My Beatles were in an unmarked box thank goodness but all my Allman Brothers to my 1st couple of CS&N LPs were heisted and Boz was filed under ~B~ not ~S~ like it shoulda been.

It’s now out of print and the butt rash who stole my records probably didn’t even know what he/she had. Everyday’s a never ending rediscovery of what I had and have no longer.

I’m saddened by the fact that I can only repurchase it now for $40 … used.

Keep the “YEE-HAWS” to yourself, ok?

For those of you experiencing the metaverse known as Second Life™ with me, I have a small rant to get off my chest.

As live musician in this cyberworld, I have a problem with large gestures spamming the chat.

You know, the howling wolf, 2 finger peace sign, cat, lips, the HELL YEAHs and the YEEHAWS et al.

I’ve talked to many residents and have had it explained to me a number of times.

“It’s my way of expressing my appreciation to the musician!”

While that may be your motivation, it appears to everyone else to be nothing more than an attempt by the gesturer to be noticed… by everyone in the vicinity and further if SHOUTED. It seems to be more self serving than expressive.

In reality, there’s nothing really expressive about it. It’s not original. In most cases you simply buy the gesture and assign it to an F key. It’s almost a non effort.

The larger the gesture, the more chance that someone else’s posted request, suggestion, advice or comment will be sandwiched into the gesture and, thereby, lost.

If you want to be originally expressive, type those 20-30 lines of chat manually for every post with different messages and images each time.

Now THAT’s an original expression of appreciation. (No, please don’t try, thanks! No really.)

A good number of residents as well as a lot of live musicians will mute you in a second for gesture spamming the room chat because it interrupts their chat/conversation with their friends in room as well as with the performer.

Kinda defeats your purpose .. right?

One can only hope that the Labs of Linden will, for residents who would choose to ignore gesture spam, come up with something that would auto block spammed gestures more than three lines long.

I could use that. I have friends that could as well.

Mr. Green Beans

I am, admittedly, a coffee snob, nay an *insufferable* coffee snob.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned …

I buy my beans green from small farms around the globe from Sweet Maria’s and home roast them to my liking (usually just short of charcoal) every month or so. Cost is around $6USD per lb. ($7-8 including shipping) and you lose about 3-5 oz per pound after roasting so cost is better than store roasted but not by much. The experience of home roasted coffee? Priceless!

I prefer beans from Indonesia because I can roast them dark, full city plus and still the coffee produces definite chocolate-y tones. Sumatra Mandheling is the most common and most purchased by Indonesian coffee lovers because of it’s consistency of flavor at all levels of roasting.

I have recently taken to buying my beans ($6USD per lb.) directly from Victor’s, a local roaster, because they seem to buy their beans from suppliers that produce a truly wondrous cup. Plus there’s no shipping applied to the overall cost per pound because I go right to their store.

If you have -never- tasted coffee that was roasted just 12 to 36 hours ago, you’ve never really tasted coffee.

The way to know if your coffee is fresh is to examine the how well the “crown” blooms when you pour water over the grounds (for drip brew, french press or aero-press methods). If the coffee is fresh and the water is the proper temperature, golden bubbles will rise to the top and form what is called a “crown”. The more vibrant and voluminous the crown, the fresher the coffee. When pulling a shot through an espresso machine, you’ll find you’ll get more crema in your cup with fresh coffee

Ever since I received an Aeropress from my daughter for father’s day I have been using nothing but this system to make my coffee. It produces an extremely fine cup. It takes some muscle to force the water through the grounds but so worth the effort.

I usually resort to drip brew for larger gatherings of, say, more than 10 people. I can aeropress cups during a smaller party making two shots at a time but I really have to like the people at my party to do that.

More coffee stuff soon