pt. 3: adios casa… & the long drive home…

So we’ve been back home in Golden now for a few days… We’re into May now. I’m still unpacking, slowly, as is my custom, trying to find places for everything we’ve brought back and we’re back into our routines here for which I’m grateful. On this short, whirlwind trip, most of Sunday and Monday has been kind of a slow, mad rush to get outta here, stress-filled to the point where Tuesday’s long drive home – just slightly under 15 hours this time – feels (almost) like a piece of cake. Easy, in comparison.

Erin and I will both miss the Tex-Mex food… and hanging out at Drip coffeehouse on Lovers Lane in the mornings which, with its wi-fi, has been kind of a lifeline in staying connected to the rest of the world. If you live in the Park Cities area in Dallas, be sure and stop in here instead of Starbuck’s. Steve’s got everything Starbuck’s has only much better, plus a better ambience, and he’s a local business.

We leave very early Tuesday morning, just after 5:00, and it’s a “Six Feet Under” finale moment – “You can’t take a picture of this. It’s already gone…” – Nate’s ghost to Claire. Just last night it had been raining heavily for a while and I was  concerned about what it would be like in the morning because we still had the paintings and a few other items to load into the truck, but it’s dry and we finish the load-out quickly. When we’re in the truck I see dad standing in the doorway in his white bathrobe; the lights in the cab of the truck are on so I wave to him and he waves back. And then we’re off. Once we’re past it I can’t see the house because the view is obstructed out the back and we only have side view mirrors. It kind of reminds me of the years I would visit at Christmas, living in Colorado, and mom would come to the small windows by the front door and I’d see her looking out as I drove away. This is the last time I’ll be leaving from here.

We turn right onto Hillcrest, another right onto Northwest Highway; I’ve got my extra-large coffee from 7-11 and when we come to the Dallas North Tollway I turn right, heading north, because I know it’s the only freeway I can count on not to have some kind of  construction going on (you know, the concrete barriers, no right shoulder) as we get out of the giant amoeba, surging ever northwards, that the Dallas metro area has become.

We pass through Denton on U.S. 380, University Blvd. through town, and yes, the Waffle House is still there but we don’t stop at it and by the time we’re within a few miles of Decatur, the Dallas city vibes have dissipated, been left behind, and we’re free.

Adios... vaya con Dios...
Adios… 6822 Northwood Rd. (1965-2015)  Vaya con Dios…

I can sum up the experience of Dallas, as it is now, in just two words, both this time and the last time Erin and I were here 2 1/2 years ago: Too. Big. As in too big for your britches. It may come as a surprise to those who have heard me bashing on this city since the mid-1990’s, but I really used to love this place when I was growing up here in the 1960’s and early 70’s. I really did. I loved Dallas and that was really the time to be here – it was a big city that didn’t feel overwhelming… like it does now.  So many memories that are still fresh in my mind and too many to list here. They should go in a book.

Maybe a lot of this feeling comes from having lived in a small mountain town of 420 people for four years (Empire, CO), but I can think back to the late 1970’s when I was in Lubbock and the city I’d come back to over Christmas break and for the summer really started to change. It started to change even more in the early 80’s when I was doing singing telegrams here, playing in a couple of bands, the pace of life here always ever accelerating, but even back then it still seemed more-or-less manageable. I’d hang out in Lower Greenville or the Lakewood area (which we didn’t get over to on this trip) and those were the cool places to be… and then I moved away to Santa Fe.

Well, nothing about Dallas feels manageable anymore; it just appears to be go-go-go all the time, non-stop, and just try to keep up, even when visiting, and woe to the person who can’t or chooses not to.  This is not your place. Erin pointed out that the traffic lanes on the roads we were driving seemed more narrow than what we’re used to – claustrophobic, and the parking lots wherever we went were always full, the spaces hard to pull into because they’re narrow too. Try to squeeze in as many people as you can – gotta make that extra buck. That’s Dallas. I noticed the same thing too and it wasn’t just because I was driving dad’s Buick. Getting around anywhere just produces a lot of stress that doesn’t need to be there. And this is inside LBJ Freeway (635) – Dallas proper. I’m not talking about the suburbs and outlying areas here. Another odd thing is that all the traffic lights at intersections seem interminably long… which only adds to the stress and frustration when you’re trying to get somewhere/anywhere.

I lived in Dallas again during parts of the years from 2007-2011 but the energy here now just feels completely different even from that recently and even more alien. More scattered, frenetic… hyper is a good word to describe it, and oddly more generic (i.e., soulless). A lot of this can be seen in the McMansion monstrosities that are devouring the old, familiar neighborhoods in Preston Hollow, where my dad lives (for another month or so), and some, though less evident, in the Park Cities. Neighborhoods that once had character. Well, a lot of them still do, but what about Dallas screams ‘Tuscany’ that people and home builders feel compelled to put up Italian-style villas on these blocks, complete with palm trees?! Lose the freakin’ palm trees!! They’re not indigenous to North Texas! Ugh.

And it doesn’t have to be this way. As we drove around Preston Hollow, we saw plenty of ranch homes, the staple of this neighborhood for so many years, that had been updated along with mid-century modern homes that were beautiful with beautiful landscaping ’cause hey, you can grow anything here (reference the backyard picture from Pt. 1 of this series).

At one point Erin said that Dallas feels like Orange County, California. In other words, it’s all about appearances and keeping up with everybody else. Since I haven’t lived in the OC since late 1980 I’ll take her word on that.

The problem with all of what I’m seeing here is that people start to think (and get used to) all of this as being just “normal” and that the pace of life here is “normal”, and all it does is just produce nothing but stress from the competitiveness of it all, and really, there’s nothing “normal” about any of it. It’s just pathological.

That’s more of a rant than I’d intended, but it is sad to see as I have loved this city… and really, now it just pisses me off and I want to get outta here and get home.

Driving through West Texas, near Childress... The cloud cover has cleared off; nothing but blue skies ahead.
Driving through West Texas, near Childress… The cloud cover has cleared off; nothing but blue skies ahead.

The House Itself
With the house on the market now comes the realization that eventually and soon, it will sell, and when I pull up the address on Google Maps a year from now, most likely the house will be razed to the ground or there will already be a new house – another generic, McMansion monstrosity – in its place. I don’t have a problem with that so much because it’s inevitable given that the house now is a total tear-down, a scrape-off… but it will seem weird when I actually see it (via Google Maps).

Dad had it appraised recently and has listed the house at its appraised value and even I know you can’t do that with a tear-down. You’re only selling the land it sits on. He’s still under the illusion that someone will want to buy it, update it, and basically keep the house intact, but that’s just not going to happen given its current state. Why did he not update the house, cosmetically-speaking, over the years? Both inside and out. Why would you not do that when your home is arguably the most important investment, financially, you’ll ever make? The baby grand piano in its current state – needing the keys, hammers, and strings all to be restored – is a metaphor for the state of the house. Why, why, why did he not restore such a beautiful instrument like that? And him being a musician. I don’t get it, but this is where things stand.

A friend from high school who’s a realtor told me that he’s seen the house and the comps in the neighborhood, and thinks it should be listed for about $50k less than the price that dad is asking. I had been thinking the same thing – the current price is too high. After a month on the market, that’s why it’s not selling… but what can you say here? Some resistance to selling it going on perhaps?

As for the house itself… the wallpaper in the rooms where it’s been applied (from the early 1970’s) is peeling off and just looks supremely dated and tacky; most assuredly there is mold in them thar walls and nobody wants to deal with mitigation there, and the attic… after squirrels had made their way through the east side of the house to the attic, nobody ventured up there anymore. Total. Tear-down.

I had intended to be a bit more mindful of my time in the house, knowing that this was going to be the last time I would ever be in there, but by Sunday afternoon I’m ready to get on the road and mindfulness goes out the window. I am glad we took an extra day on Monday when we picked up the truck (and it doesn’t suck… only 11,000 miles on it, everything in good working order), because it allows me time to walk through all the rooms one last time and had we tried to leave Monday it would have been too hectic. By Monday night I’ve made my peace, I’ve said my goodbyes. And then there’s the Christmas tree…

The Christmas tree in the den...
The Christmas tree in the den…

The legendary Christmas tree in the den is still there – yes, I know it’s April – where it has been since sometime in the mid-90’s and it has its own special story. I visited Dallas one time in March, maybe 1996, and my parents still had the Christmas tree up. I said something about it and mom said that dad would get around to taking it up to the attic. I mentioned that maybe if it was still up in March, they should just go ahead and leave it up all year round. So they did. I plug the Christmas tree lights in one last time before I go to bed Monday night to see if they’re working – obviously they’ve been changed out since the mid-90’s – and they all light up.

Now that we’ve been back for a few days and I’ve had some time to reflect on a few things, it seems that the strangest thing about last weekend: the incongruity between the fact that everything is about to change (radically) and that inside the house everything looks the same as it ever has, same as it ever was, even after we took out everything we did, and it’s just business as usual, and that it could go on that way forever.

You just never know what you're gonna see on the road... Here it appears a VW Beetle is giving birth to a fully-grown dairy cow in Amarillo. Whoa!
You just never know what you’re gonna see on the road… Here it appears a VW Beetle, with Minnesota plates, is giving birth to a fully-grown dairy cow in Amarillo. Whoa!

Shmoopy Takes the Wheel…
At Trinidad, just inside the Colorado state line. It’s 4:30 in the afternoon. The original plan had us arriving here at around 2:00 for lunch, but we had breakfast at IHOP in Wichita Falls and driving into a headwind we made Amarillo around 12:45 and ate lunch at McDonald’s. McDonald’s… we never eat at freakin’ McDonald’s. The Big Mac I order tastes good except there’s too much thousand island dressing on the two all-beef patties and it gets all over my hand. But the fries are great! Except for the stretch between Amarillo and Dumas, I’ve driven the whole way – the boring part of the drive. The prairie and farmlands. I have a high tolerance for boredom. Erin (Shmoopy) does not and coming into Trinidad she tells me that she just wants to get home and she’ll drive us the rest of the way. We’ve been in the truck for 12 hours at this point and I’m like, “Go for it.”

We’ve had various classic rock stations on the radio in the truck because the truck is old school with AM/FM radio – no CD player, no iPod connection. Not even a cassette deck. The most memorable of the radio stations has been The Big Dog FM, coming to you out of Altus, Oklahoma and we’ve been hearing a lot of Stones, ZZ Top, and Rush. It’s two-fer-Tuesday! We’ve crossed the Red River just above Estelline and there was actually water in it for the first time in ages… and the water was, appropriately, red, and I’m listening and a lyric from Rush’s “Freewill” gets lodged in my mind:

“You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice.”

And now that it’s Sunday I’m still hearing this. After we watched “Whiplash” at home last night. Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush, wrote these lyrics and as we were driving through West Texas I thought about books that he’s written – I’ve read both “Ghost Rider” and “Traveling Music” and both are excellent. I highly recommend them; Neil is an excellent writer and I enjoyed these books immensely.

It also makes me think about the possibility that this could be the last time I drive this particular route between Dallas and the Denver area. Over the years, certain music has been designated for certain stretches of the trip – Alice Cooper’s Killer for the stretch between Childress and Memphis, Ziggy Marley’s two albums, Conscious Party and One Bright Day between Amarillo and Dalhart; The Cars’ 1st album between Walsenburg and Pueblo, Colorado.

By the time we get to Trinidad, Shmoopy notices I’m tired so she takes the wheel. We stop in at the liquor store on Santa Fe Trail and I pick up a few shot bottles of things that sound enticing, try a couple of them in the truck now that she’s driving and try to nod off in the passenger seat. Of course this is not going to work ’cause I can’t sleep in a moving vehicle and like looking out at the scenery too much, even if there isn’t any, but we’re back in Colorado now and that won’t be a problem. The Big Dog morphs into 107.9 FM out of Colorado Springs… more Stones… “Gimme Shelter”.

And Erin becomes a “woman on a mission”… We get home before 8:00 and before it gets dark. And then we start unloading the truck…

Despite the challenges and the frustrations, this was a good, memorable trip for all the right reasons, even if it was born from necessity. We had to go, but it was the right time.

Moving forward: the house will sell, certainly within the next couple of months, and had I known about it beforehand, that he was going to do this, dad could have come up here to live with us. We could’ve moved into a bigger house, in the mountains, Evergreen probably, and the baby grand could have been saved, but the invitation is always open. I don’t know right now where we’re going to be spending Christmas this year, whether he’ll fly up here and join us at our house or if Erin and I will be flying down there, in which case we’ll be getting a hotel room and a rental car. I suspect it will be the latter. I do know this: the Christmas tree in the house on Northwood will finally come down after a successful 19-year run or thereabouts. This year.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Nights on Venus, "Santos"... to be released June, 2015...
Nights on Venus, “Santos”… to be released June, 2015…

The new 4-song EP, “Santos“, will be coming in a couple of months, mid-to-late June.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

weekend in dallas, pt. 2: the reunion and packing up…

Saturday… we get an early start and the paintings start coming down off the walls. I put plastic sheeting over them and staple it to the wood stretcher frames so they’ll be ready for traveling. There are 18 paintings coming back with us, the largest measuring 6 feet x 6 feet, 9 inches (183 cm x 206 cm). I remember mom used to ask, “why do you paint so large?”, and I told her it was easier than painting small and minute; you get to use bigger brushes. It is – the materials just cost more.

Soon, the walls are completely bare in three rooms of the house; I can’t remember ever seeing them completely bare like this, except maybe when we moved in. I was 8 years old then and I really don’t remember that.

Standing in front of the tree I used to climb as a kid in the front yard... which has now grown into a "sequoia".
Standing in front of the tree I used to climb as a kid in the front yard… which has now grown into a giant “Sequoia”. I will not be attempting a climb this morning as it would now take a 20-foot ladder to reach the first branch.

The house might look more empty… if it weren’t for all the clutter everywhere else. Just overwhelming clutter still. After a few hours, we’ve hardly put a dent in any of this and I know we’re not taking that much furniture back with us. Dad said he’d had some friends help him and that they cleaned up quite a bit before we came down. Well… we’re here now and there’s very little evidence of that.

Books stacked up on top of each other horizontally, on top of low bookcases about 3 feet high, the spines turned sideways so you have no idea what the titles are. I go through a few of them… the Time Almanac from 1994, World Almanac from 2001, how many books on “natural folk remedies” do you have here?… and give up.

Dad says to take any of these that I want, also any CDs, DVDs (Erin grabs a handful in passing – Goldfinger… score!)…and, oh look, VHS tapes! There’s nothing here and not a whole lot of time. I guess the plan is to let the estate sale people deal with whatever’s left and there will be a lot to deal with. Erin and I start boxing up all my stuff; by mid-afternoon we’ve hit it hard and go out for a break and an Internet connection.

It’s while we’re sitting in Cantina Laredo on Royal Lane for a late lunch… we see the news on the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Just unbelievable devastation in Kathmandu. We have a friend from Colorado who’s there to climb Mt. Everest, again, and knew he had just arrived at Everest Basecamp earlier in the week; we quickly wonder if he’s OK and see that he is. You can read his first-hand account of the earthquake and the events of the last few days at the link below. It’s a very compelling read…

Seeing the first images of the destruction left behind by the earthquake online puts everything back in perspective. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Nepal.


The reunion that night is definitely the highlight of this trip and a necessary respite from the work we’re doing at the house and from some frustrations that are starting to mount, chief among them being the communication connection issues (and no, Mercury is not retrograde). It’s great to see all my classmates from those years at St. Mark’s, most of whom I haven’t seen in 43 years. You try to place the faces in the present with how you remember the way they used to look when everyone was 14, 15 years old. We trade stories…

Brett, who was one of my best friends all through high school, reminds me of a truly awful trip we made to Lubbock to check out Texas Tech University during our senior year and how we spent most of a Saturday afternoon in a muffler shop waiting room with our host who was getting work done on his car. Yes, I remember that too. Brett ended up going to University of Texas in Austin.

Paul and I talk about the French class we took in 8th grade from a teacher who I remember – now that a long-forgotten memory has kicked in – looked a bit like Jeanne Tripplehorn with glasses and everyone apparently remembers as being “nice”. He also reminds me that I came up with a cartoon character for the middle school paper and that has been long-forgotten, now unearthed as well.

We talk to just about everyone there and find out what’s going on in their world and I’m surprised to learn that there’s a good-sized contingent of the class who now lives in Colorado so I hope we will stay in touch. The one thing we don’t see, and it’s not until we’re leaving that Erin points it out: no one there is checking, looking down at, or is otherwise glued to their cell phones. In fact, no one is even taking pictures or selfies with them. The cell phones are nowhere to be seen.

Special thanks to Marc and Wendy for hosting the reunion at their beautiful home. It was a very memorable evening.


Once Erin and I get back to the house for the night and I have a chance to see all the work we’ve done, I’m glad we worked as hard as we did during the day. I can already feel an energy shift as the focus moves toward finishing up the packing and leaving early Tuesday morning. It feels like we’ve been kind of jogging along since we arrived Friday, at a faster pace then we’re used to at home in Colorado as Dallas in no way could be described as laid-back, but by the time we get home from dinner with our friends Jeff and Pat tomorrow night, it’ll be an all-out sprint to get everything done and get on the road and we’re both already more than a little stressed.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Nights on Venus, "Santos"... to be released June, 2015...
Nights on Venus, “Santos”… to be released June, 2015…

The new 4-song EP, “Santos“, will be coming in a couple of months, mid-to-late June.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

weekend in dallas, pt. 1: the storm…

Friday… We land at Dallas Love Field a little after 11:00, Erin and I; it’s been raining and is expected to rain more today, possibly some severe thunderstorms with a chance of tornadic activity. I’m glad we’re on the ground. I had been following the weather forecast for the last week or so and saw rain for Friday here and there had also been thunderstorms during the week. I hadn’t been on a plane for almost fifteen years (yes, really).

So we’re on the ground safely – Erin minus her little ‘girly’ Swiss army knife on her keychain which has remained at Denver International Airport courtesy of the TSA (and I tease her about being such a troublemaker) – and we’re here for the weekend. Originally we booked this flight back in January for the 40th Reunion Weekend of the St. Mark’s Class of 1975, a group of classmates I didn’t graduate with but went to school with from 7th through 9th grade. My dad had his 86th birthday in March but we weren’t able to make it that month; the reunion weekend in April seemed like a good idea. In between came the news that he’d put the house up for sale so now the weekend has taken on a different tone altogether. It’s also moving weekend!

I’d only been bugging him to sell the house for the last 8 years or so; we moved into the house on Northwood in July, 1965. For 50 years this has been the family house – I grew up here and over the years it had become kind of a repository for much of my artwork and a few other things from my various moves, especially since 2007 when I closed down the gallery in Empire (CO). Now, all of that has to come back to Colorado with us. Half a century! It seems like this must be some kind of record but I’m sure it isn’t. In fact, I’m sure it’s pretty common… but 50 years! So this is kind of a big deal and it’s kind of been freaking me out a little.

From a logistical standpoint it means that the original plan of driving a rental car back to Golden has been scrapped in favor of having to rent a truck. Budget turned out to be the cheapest so we went with them. I hope their truck… doesn’t suck.

The first thing I notice as we’re driving through the Park Cities from the airport: everything looks very green and very soggy. Dallas in April.

Within 20 minutes, Erin looks like she just stepped out of a 1970’s disco with big wavy, disco hair.

And of course the first thing we have to do is get lunch… at El Fenix. If you live in Dallas and have people visiting from out of town, you are going to go to El Fenix for some Tex-Mex at some point during their stay. It’s tradition and obligatory. I order my fave, the Puebla Plate, and two Inca Gold margaritas (hey, I hadn’t flown for almost 15 years and it’s humid as hell). They are refreshing.

At the house, we step back into 1976… just the way I remember it when we were last here 2 ½ years ago. I look out into the backyard; it’s a freakin’ jungle out there. Erin asks me if my dad has a gardener. I reply, “Does it look like he has a gardener?” For his part, dad says that it’s been raining a lot, and I’m like, “Ya think?”

Costa Rica? No, just the backyard at dad's house...
Costa Rica? No, just the backyard at dad’s house.

By 6:30 the weather is on TV, ongoing coverage, and we have a severe thunderstorm warning in effect. A line of thunderstorms is moving east through Fort Worth and Arlington at 60 mph and projected ETA’s are given for the Dallas metro area, 7:05 for where we are. Heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 65 mph, possibly up to 75 mph. I hook up my laptop to the Ethernet cable from the old computer (it’s still there) to get a connection ‘cause I know we don’t have wireless here… and get nothing. Dad tells me there’s no Internet (and not because of the storm). OK, we will have to go out to connect to the world.

The thunderstorm brings only the heavy rain, no high winds. We both feel grungy from traveling and the humidity. Welcome home!

I keep thinking of Steely Dan’s last album, “Everything Must Go”… There will be an estate sale in a couple of weeks. If you want a 1919 Steinway baby grand that needs the keys, hammers, strings, and probably a few other parts restored (but the soundboard is good), it can be yours at a reasonable price. Send me a message. I would’ve loved to keep  the piano, could certainly have used it, but just don’t have the room for it in our current digs, not to mention the cost of moving and restoring it. Which is ironic… we don’t have the room for it in our house?…. The baby grand piano was the reason we moved to the house on Northwood 50 years ago in the first place.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.







new EP “santos” coming in june…

The first of two EPs this year will be released mid-to-late June and it now has a title, “Santos”… and cover artwork (click on the image for the full size image).

Nights on Venus, "Santos"... to be released June, 2015...
Nights on Venus, “Santos”… to be released June, 2015…

The artwork comes from St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, England, UK… St. George, patron saint of England, slaying the dragon. ‘Santos’… Español for ‘Saints’.  More on the symbology of this image in a future post…

The Fool... from the Morgan-Greer tarot deck.
The Fool… from the Morgan-Greer tarot deck.

For right now, 4 new songs:
The Owl and the Lynx
For All the Afterthoughts
The Fool’s Journey
Terra Incognita

The Owl...
The Owl…

Recording sessions have finished for the EP and final mixdown will begin in May, when we’ve come back from Dallas later this month.

New music coming soon… There will be a preview of the EP up on this site in early May.
Stay tuned…

the Lynx...
the Lynx…

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

the “blurred lines” case… the lines are even more blurry now

This week we saw a verdict in the case of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” vs. Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” copyright infringement lawsuit and quite frankly, it was kind of shocking. The result: Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who wrote the song, were ordered to pay the Gaye estate to the tune of $7.3 million.

Robin-Thicke-Blurred-Lines-ft.-T.I.-PharrellNo matter what you think of Robin Thicke or the song “Blurred Lines”, this ain’t right. There are two excellent articles, written post-verdict from LA Weekly and the New Yorker, and I’ve included the links below. Check ’em out:

Hopefully the ruling will be reversed on appeal, as it should be. Yes, there are similarities between the two songs but mostly in the areas of rhythm and feel/overall vibe… which you cannot copyright. I hadn’t ever heard “Blurred Lines” until this week – I must be living in that hyperbaric chamber Andy Hermann speaks of – but I’ve played “Got To Give It Up” in a couple of cover bands I was in and these two are not the same song… which, at least up ’til now, has always been the basis for any ruling on copyright infringement.

Certainly it’s not anywhere near as blatant as Vanilla Ice’s ripoff of “Under Pressure”, written by Queen and David Bowie, for his hit “Ice Ice Baby”. That the steal is so obvious in that instance, it should be the standard by which copyright infringement is measured. But as Bob Dylan said: “The times they are a changin’…” and all this verdict does is add more (unnecessary) shades of gray to an already (needlessly) gray area.

First off, the case should never have come to trial in the first place. Usually any disputes over copyright, if the plaintiffs have a good solid argument for infringement, should be settled out of court, more or less amicably, as in the case of Sam Smith and Tom Petty over Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”.

Second of all, Robin Thicke should never appear in court on his own behalf as the jury, apparently, found him “massively unappealing” which, when all is said and done, seems to have formed the basis for their decision.

Which means the jury wasn’t really looking at, or listening to, the presented evidence that these two songs are not the same – that “Blurred Lines” is not a direct ripoff of “Got To Give It Up”. Other factors – emotional perhaps – came into play and thus the verdict should be reversed. There are certain elements of the recording and overall sound between the two that are similar but those cannot be the basis for punitive monetary damages against Thicke/Williams because, as Tim Wu writes, “…by that standard, every composer would be a lawbreaker”.

Well, we are an unruly bunch, as outlined here (tongue in cheek)… but, no – that ain’t right either.

That the Gaye family now has another of Pharrell Williams’ songs – “Happy” – on the radar for copyright infringement should be a huge red flag. That Pharrell has admitted that he was “inspired by Gaye and borrowed from him” only makes him a target for these kinds of lawsuits, but again, “Happy” is not the same song as “Ain’t That Peculiar” and acknowledging one’s influences should never be grounds for someone filing a lawsuit against you.

It points up the unfortunate fact that if you, as an artist, release something that becomes insanely popular, goes viral, etc. – i.e., and the bottom line here, makes you a shitload of money – someone somewhere is going to want a piece of that, possibly a substantial piece of that, whether or not it’s justified or the claim has any merit. In a rapidly changing – some would say disintegrating – music industry, this lawsuit amounts to nothing more than a “land grab” – get whatever money you think you’re “entitled to” while you can, and should be seen as such.

As all art is derivative of some other art that has gone before, this ruling sets a very dangerous precedent for everyone working in all creative fields, not just music … Which is why it should be reversed, no money awarded. I won’t even go into the aspect of “better songwriting” here; that’s for another time… Until then, establish a working relationship with a good music lawyer if you don’t already have one.

Nights on Venus News:  I’m currently putting finishing touches on the last song, “The Fool’s Journey”, for a 4-song EP, as yet untitled, to be released toward the end of June, 2015. More details to follow…

"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Perspective” and all previous albums  from Nights on Venus are available as MP3 digital downloads on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.

a snowy weekend… put some records on the stereo…

Greetings from Colorado! Winter finally arrived yesterday and today.

Yours truly... winter, 2015. From Golden, Colorado...
Yours truly… winter, 2015. From Golden, Colorado…

For most of this winter here in CO we’ve had temps in the 40s-50s, sometimes in the 60s in the Denver area, and it has only been snowing (seemingly) on Wednesdays. Well, that just ain’t right. So thankfully we got our first big storm in the foothills this weekend… and we needed it, because as Coloradans will always tell you: “we need the moisture”. When we don’t get it, bad things happen… warm, dry, windy weather means wildfires in the summer, then floods in the fall.

Now as storms go, this isn’t nearly, remotely in the same league as what they’ve been getting up in Boston and most of New England so far almost every week this year – and kudos to you guys for toughing it out and keepin’ it together. Still, it’s a welcome sight here this weekend. It has been snowing since Friday night, it’s snowing now, heavily at times, we haven’t seen the mountains less than half a mile away from where we live since Friday, and although we’ve been out a couple of times to the convenience store close by, we’ve been “essentially” in snowed-in mode at la casa… essentially, of course, being entirely subjective here.

Cosmo investigating a guitar case...
Cosmo investigating a guitar case…

But hey, it’s fun(!) to think that you’re snowed-in even when, technically, you’re not. So that got me thinking about what albums/songs are what I would call “snow songs”… ’cause you know you’re going to listen to a lot of music, watch a lot of DVDs, break out the board games – Scrabble, etc. – play non-board games, read, sit in front of a roaring fireplace, and spend a lot of time cooking, with a fair amount of drinking, when you can’t go anywhere. If the power goes out… well, that sucks.

Walkin' the dog
Walkin’ the dog

Since we’ve had no power outages, I’ve had a chance to listen to some songs/albums that always remind me of snow days or a time when I remember it was snowing. Or songs that specifically mention snow in their lyrics, like these three:

2000 MilesThe Pretenders
For better or worse, this is pretty much the quintessential snow and Christmas song now, from their 1984 album Learning To Crawl… so I love it. However, my boss at the day job played a Christmas CD that had “2000 Miles” on it every day in the building this past December and a few days into January and for the time being I can’t listen to it again for a while… it’s gonna take some time…

Valley Winter Song – Fountains of Wayne
Another obvious choice since ‘winter’ is in the song title… This is from their album Welcome Interstate Managers so the album automatically becomes a “snow album”.

Love Is Lighter Than Air
The Magnetic Fields
The chorus features these lines: “Love is lighter than air/ It floats away if you let go/ Love is lighter than air/ It rises through the falling snow.”

The Ice Palace at Varykino, from the movie Doctor Zhivago...
The Ice Palace at Varykino, from the movie Doctor Zhivago…

Varykino Snow
The Mermen
This instrumental references the summer retreat turned “Ice Palace” in the movie Doctor Zhivago; there’s a ton of snow in that movie. Brrrr. 

snow5Well, you get the idea… What I’ve been listening to today:


The first two Boston albums, the debut album and Don’t Look Back, both seem to be snow albums mostly because I remember listening to them on a particularly difficult drive coming back to Texas from a ski trip in 1979. The snow started falling just outside of Limon, Colorado and didn’t stop all the way to Lubbock. I drove a VW bug back then and I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the right set of tires on the car for snow-packed roads. Also remember listening to David Bowie‘s live album Stage on that drive.

The aforementioned Fountains of Wayne for their albums Welcome Interstate Managers and also Utopia Parkway; both are snow albums. Spent many an afternoon listening to these songs in the gallery in Empire while the snow was coming down.

The white stuff piled up quickly yesterday…

Other snow albums in no particular order:
Material IssueInternational Pop Overthrow
Seal2nd album, Seal
ShoesBlack Vinyl Shoes
Wendy & LisaWhite Flags of Winter Chimneys
Nirvana‘s MTV Unplugged in New York
The Church – Forget Yourself, particularly the song “Lay Low”
And Brian Eno’s song, “Always Returning”, from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, has always brought to mind the image of blowing snow drifting across a deserted highway at night.

Currently finishing up a new song, “For All the Afterthoughts”, in the studio.

Looks like the snow plow came by and took out the stop sign... Hey, it happens.
Looks like the snow plow came by and took out the stop sign… Hey, it happens.
"Perspective," the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.
“Perspective,” the 4th Nights on Venus album, MP3 album cover. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, eMusic, Bandcamp, and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter (@xlntsky), Facebook, and Instagram.








Zoe Keating vs YouTube: The End of an Artist’s Right to Choose Where Their Music Appears on The Internet.


Important read… and a call to action.

“I believe that this is a dangerous precedent and should be examined by the Federal Trade Commission. I urge you to write the FTC and ask them to look into this matter. I understand that you can reach the chair of the FTC at this email address:” – David Lowery

Originally posted on The Trichordist:

This is a call to action folks.

Many of you may already be aware of this blog post from  Zoë Keating detailing the new terms of the Google/YouTube “Music Key” service.  YouTube’s “communications manager” Matt McLernon has followed the Spotify approach and attacked Zoë Keating’s story as “patently false” although it looks like Google is not exactly backing up their “communications manager“.

I’m pretty sure that Google is not truthful about their conversation with Zoë–you know Google’s lying when their lips are moving–if for no other reason than I believe Zoë’s notes of her conversation with Google are accurate.  Not to mention that the description of the Music Key deal points from Zoë’s notes shows Google tying the YouTube and Music Key deals together in pretty much the same way as the Music Key deal that Google threatened indie labels with last year.

But I’m not sure if the mainstream…

View original 1,356 more words

excursions in sound and consciousness with the band Nights on Venus


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