TR-808

TR-808

By ’83, me and John were burning thru drummers endlessly. We were in Barrington, not in the city, and the available musicians generally were not into what we were into. We got sick of constantly auditioning new drummers, so we figured we’d use a drum machine, which was something new we’d heard about. We got a TR-808 and tried using it, but the sound was synthetic. Also, switching to playing with a drum machine from a loose, sloppy, raw band was a challenging transition. I soaked up the manual, understood the machine, saw the possibilities. The band took a break, and a year after I bought the TR-808, I sold it for a Martin acoustic to take with me on my long Europe trip. When I got back, I moved to the city and started working with Sequential and Oberheim drum machines. The MIDI spec arrived linking tape decks, drum machines, samplers, and synths together. Suddenly everyone had great, new tools. It was a revolution.

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The Culling

Covid-19

This is the God I believe in: If you take the laws of physics, the mystery of life, and that which is un-knowable, beyond comprehension, un-verbalizable; that would be God for me.

The planet has recognized our species to be a threat, and is doing something about it. Like a plant bending towards light, the migration of birds, or the pull of gravity, a force is exerting itself and an event is taking place.

It is beyond our control. We can only do our best to understand it. Some will make correct decisions that lead to good results. Some will make mistakes. The old order will be un-recognizable. A new one will emerge over time.

God will continue with this culling until balance is restored. The species is being challenged with new commands that it cannot resist. Our planet, our skies, and everything beyond remind us how small we are. Species come and species go. It is time to evolve.

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Tom Waicunas Update

Tom Waicunas

September 28, 2019

In mid September, 2019, I posted the notice below on the Facebook Missing and Homeless page after being contacted by Helen Waicunas, Tom’s mom. She had been informed by Humana, and confirmed by the Social Security office, that Tom had died on August 26 of this summer, but they were unable to provide any details of his death or where his body was.

About 10 days later, I was on the phone with Helen when she took a call on a different phone from Patti Caruso Silva, a relative helping with the search for Tom. Over the speakerphone, I heard Patti shouting that Tom was found alive! A woman in Yuba City, Anna Hill, had seen the posting, and was able to locate Tom there. She spoke with Tom and took a photo and video of him. Patti received and pinged them to us as we all were together cross-talking on Helen’s speakerphones, absorbing the news from her. Up until that point we were all but certain Tom had died, and we just wanted closure for Helen knowing where her son was and what had happened.

Anna told us that Tom is liked and accepted in the community. He is able to paint and sell his art.  She’s provided art supplies and winter clothes for him. It is great news to hear that he is alive, looked out for, and his creativity is appreciated and supported!

Missing and Homeless post:

“Seeking information about death of musician Tom Waicunas…

On Sept 9th out of the blue, Helen Paxson Waicunas, the 84 year old mother of my friend Tom Waicunas, received a letter from Humana offering condolences about her sons’ death, and that his insurance would be terminated on Aug. 31 2019. They received electronic transmission from Medicare on Sept 2, 2019 regarding his death. She called Medicare but they would not provide any additional details. She called Social Security and they confirmed that they had received notice that Tom had died on Aug. 26, 2019, but they did not know where. She has sent out a form to California Vital Statistics, and is waiting for a response. We have no additional information about the circumstances of his death or the location of his body.

Tom Waicunas was an exceptionally gifted musician and songwriter. He lived in Martha’s Vineyard for 14 years and played with many famous musicians that had residences there. He looked after many of their homes in the winter as he lived on the island year-round. He relocated to Chicago, living there for about 20 years. He backed up well-known Chicago bluesmen, touring in Europe playing harmonica. He studied music at Columbia College. His own music is on-line.

Tom has been living homeless in CA for about the last 7 years. He was attacked in Yuba City, CA and left for dead on November 11, 2017. He was taken to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and was in a coma for 2 weeks. The director of nursing called his mother November 30 when he woke up and gave her her contact information. He had traumatic brain injury that affected his motor skills, and broken ribs and facial injury. He was also diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mother spoke with him daily. The nursing director told her that Tom was going to lose all benefits if someone did not contact SS, as he had not been collecting his benefits in over a year. She went to SS and was able to get him back all of his benefits.

Tom was moved to a skilled nursing home in December 2017 and released March 2018 in Roseville CA. He asked his mother to send him all communication with SS as he wanted to become his own payee. She sent all communication from SS addressed to Tom at the nursing home. He never followed up.

There was no contact with Tom until his mother received a call on April 14, 2019 from a minister that came upon Tom homeless in Yuba, City. He sent her a video of him that was shot in front of the shuttered Toys R Us store at 700 A W Onstott Frontage Rd, Yuba City, CA. The minister contacted her at least every other day for six weeks until contact stopped in mid-May of 2019. She has been trying to reach him by phone, text, and email. He will not respond to her request for help, which we find odd. She needs information about what happened to Tom and where she can find him. She called all surrounding area coroners’ offices, sheriffs’ offices, hospitals and funeral homes from Yuba City to Sacramento. There is no notice of her son dying on Aug. 26, 2017.

If anyone knows anything about Tom, we are desperately in need of information.

Thank you for any help you can offer.”

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The Pearl Diver

The world began and the little boy sat on the shore looking out across the ocean. The old man approached the boy, stopping near the fence between them, and motioned to him. When the boy approached, the old man spoke to him: “A stranger has come who will be staying for awhile. He dreams of diving for pearls here.” The little boy nodded and wondered what this meant.

The next day as the boy was day-dreaming, a stranger came from the forest path and walked thru the gate in the old man’s fence. He carried a small black case and didn’t seem to see the boy. The boy watched as he surveyed the rocky shoreline, stepping on the boulders, looking out across the waves. He settled on the largest one jutting far out into the sea, placed the black case at his feet, and removed his shoes. After securing the small case with his belt, he paused, then crouching, threw his arms back and sprang out from his perch, diving in a long graceful arc into the deep blue water. After an impossibly long submergence, he re-surfaced, climbed back onto his boulder, put down his case, then stretched out, resting in the sun.

This became the stranger’s routine. The little boy noticed that other than his black case, the pearl diver always emerged from the surf empty-handed. He wondered when the stranger’s precious pearls would be laid out in the sun to an admiring world. Day after day the stranger did this, as days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years, years became decades.

One day, the boy saw the old man and called him over. “What does he do beneath the surface, and what is in his small case?” The old man replied, “Well, my boy, there is something very special in his case. In it are sand grains from another world. He plants them in the oysters hoping to grow and present us beautiful, mysterious pearls.” “So where are his wondrous pearls?” the boy asked. “Son, the reason why is unknowable, but the oysters reject the sand grains from another world. That is why he emerges empty-handed.” Disappointed, the little boy now understood.

On the day the end of time arrived, the little boy and the old man stood together and watched as the stranger rose and walked past them empty-handed, other than his small black case. “Is he sad?” the little boy asked. “No. He has enjoyed his time diving in the ocean” the old man explained. The little boy admired the stranger for being brave and stoic. The old man watched as the stranger departed and wondered if that was a tear he saw in his eye. The stranger continued down the path, disappeared into the forest, and the world ended.

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Climate of Change

In human history, globally disruptive transformations have occurred after sets of events converged and social, political, or environmental pressures led to annihilation of the status quo. We are in such a cycle now. Step back, look from a distance, and it is apparent that the shape of current events perfectly fits the profile of an approaching apocalyptic realignment. A Boomer, I watched the Cold War end in my twenties. It’s easy for me to see the stretch since then as a history book chapter where an era began with optimism and idealism, followed by unforeseen, conflicted, seemingly random world events that proved unresolvable, leading to a disintegration that changed everything for everyone. These pressures exist around us now and are building. We all know what they are. We face evidence of them every day. It is unknowable how this will come to a head. Some of us will be swept away. Some will adapt and endure. Some will prosper. There is no survival preparation for this, other than eyes wide open and get right with your neighbor, family and yourself. It’s coming. No-one escapes untouched. Good luck!

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The Next Thing

Riding my stationary bike, eyes closed in my quiet basement, I peer into the Next Thing, which I’m closing in on. I think my spirit won’t just dissipate, it will carry on in some form to the benefit of the species, to life itself. I’ll rejoin the ocean of souls from where I once emerged. I believe I will reconnect with loved ones and other people from my life. Maybe in this thing we can re-configure and see each other again from our old eyes, but shared. This omnipresent entity we are absorbed by will free us of the barriers of individual creatures driven by self-preservation in the physical world. From it we will re-constitute and precipitate again as new, original beings. Our souls spring from a joined source of retained memory, perhaps. Life advances, new and improved.

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Invisibility

It has taken some time, but I’m finally becoming invisible.

Recently, I came across a video of my family from when I was about 5. Some time ago my parents had old film footage converted to video cassettes and gave copies to us. One part showed my family entering a relative’s house on a holiday. My 4 older siblings entered first looking excited to see our cousins, followed by me and my folks. I looked very uncomfortable and intimidated. I remember being very self-conscious entering places like restaurants, stores or church when I was young. The size of my family drew attention to us, which made me nervous. Even as a teenager, I remember dreading the 30 seconds or so that it took from the point of entering a restaurant to being seated. I also had an aversion to being seen smiling. Very young, I remember being praised by my mom and a photographer for finally smiling after he snapped a picture of me in a cowboy outfit.

As an adult, I came to understand this part of my nature better, developing coping methods and discovering options to deal with my social anxiety. Alcohol helped in some social situations. I learned that beta-blockers masked the fight or flight response that over-loaded me when I performed or spoke to a group. With anti-anxiety meds I could feel at ease around people, allowing me to reveal more about myself. I learned to trust the positive way people responded to me more than my feeling that people didn’t receive me well. All these things helped me manage socially, but didn’t change the essence of who I was.

These days, I’m understanding the ways social anxiety has influenced the course of my life. It is a fundamental element of who I am. I realize now that it’s not being looked at that gives me discomfort, it’s being thought about that causes it. This tension produces an aura around me. It is a tangible gravity that pulls on me and pushes out from me. With just minimal engagement, people will instinctively tend to give me space, regarding me as private rather than aloof. They are cool with me leaving only the faintest trail on their radar. But this also means my creative efforts are offered from a distance to an audience focused on many other things. My creations sail off into the void and are devoured by the vacuum. No sound or light reflects back. No echoes or murmurs in response. No acknowledgement or acclaim.

I am getting what I wished. I have almost achieved invisibility.

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Kickender Drive

Considering a ‘Kickender’ Kickstarter drive:

$50k goal. Represents one year of post-employability income.

If you send me money, I will keep updating this document after I am no longer employable, and will not have to exit gracefully before becoming incapacitated and a burden to my family.

Estimated date of completion: December, 2036. This is based on current life-expectancy (77) of an American male.

Rewards: Upon my death, contributors will receive a zip file with all my music, a PDF with commentary and visuals from this site, a copy of my death certificate, and a post-humous thank you note from me.

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Trump is Not the Problem

Trump is not the problem. He is a symptom of the problem. The problem is what has become of the GOP. Our country has a 2 party system. It is not good for our country when one of those parties has lost it’s mind. This all started with Lee Atwater and his Willie Horton ads during the 1988 election. The right never accepted Clinton’s win in 1992. People like Rush Limbaugh discovered they could rake in millions stoking right-wing resentment, and the right-wing talk radio industry was established. Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract With America’ dominated headlines in the early 90’s and made him a household name. Rupert Murdoch created Fox News, which has become the media platform of the Republican party. These people, and others, have created financial empires dividing the US. THEY are the cancer that has overtaken the Republican party and threatens our country.

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