20140704 - Tisdale SK

I’m back at the hotel with my heartburn medicine and my bug juice. I didn’t know I needed the bug juice until I was on my walk to get the Gaviscon. The heartburn is a longer story.

We arrived in Tisdale Saskatchewan Last night around nine. I called the only Chinese food place in town to order my traditional beef and brocolli – but they’d already been closed for an hour. The nice lady there told me all the restaurants in town closed at the same time. I called the front desk to confirm that and Crystal told me there was one place still open. A hotel that made pizzas. So I called.

“Hi, I’d like to order for delivery”
“Sorry, the taxi driver’s not answering his phone”
” … ”

I was hungry so I thought I could walk into town to pick up – so I asked:

“I’m at the Canalta Hotel can you tell me where you are from here?”
“We’re just down past the Subway”
” …”

The girl I was talking to seemed to be losing patience with our call. I could hear how busy the bar was. I thanked her and called back down to the front desk in a now desperate bid for some eleventh hour local restaurant knowledge.

“Oh, I can get Debbie to run over and get that Pizza for ya”

As it turned out, Debbie picked up three pizzas and a 24 of beer for us. You gotta love a small town.

The pizza was delicious, but I should have stopped eating when the heartburn started. My restless night in Tisdale was my own fault. This morning though, I headed out on foot to the Pharmasave on the main drag there. Just down past the Subway.

[ Permalink ] Filed under: Culture,Travel,Trooper

Saskatoon 620 photo 20140501-SaskatoonSK_zps81cb7340.jpg

Trying to find a good book to read is annoying me. And, for reasons unknown to me, that annoyance makes me want to write. I can’t figure it out. I’m not going to try. But I am writing. Something.

Encapsulating the months that have passed since last I wrote is the impossibility that has impeded me. There is no way. I’ve considered sneaking up on an account of it from several different directions – maybe a general metaphoric discussion of the over-riding emotional landscape, for instance. Bullshit and who cares. Maybe some short illuminating scenes that might suggest the general story – No. No one thing, or two things or three is the nub of it. It can neither be distilled nor generalized, and too many people I love are prominent characters in the story arc and I have no right to share their parts, and I won’t.

And I haven’t been unhappy, or sad in a daily way – I’ve had some great times – a lot of them – but I’ve been overwhelmed. There’s just been too much. There’s been too much and it’s come too fast and much of it is part of a new paradigm that I haven’t had the time or energy to get on top of. I badly want (and need) an attitude that covers this new reality, but all my efforts to engineer one have so far failed. Which is, well, a failure … and I’m not fond of those.

So rather than chronicle that inability to make peace with the difficult parts of what I just now realize has been the first four years of “my sixties”, I’ve clammed up. And although I tell myself it’s the recent subscribers to ramcguire.com – people requesting an alert in the unlikely event that something new happens here – that have embarrassed me into stepping up, the truth is I miss it.

So in the spirit of my original blog, I’ll try once again to overcome the inertia of myself while imagining the three or four of you as forgiving and open-minded friends who don’t give a shit what I write but are still encouraging me to do so.

Santa Bag sixtwentytoo photo 20131128-SantaBag-WhiteRock2620_zpsebe0ac56.jpg

It’s November 28th and we’re heading off to Hawaii in a couple days, so … Merry Christmas to all of you. See you in the new year!

[ Permalink ] Filed under: Photography

 photo SoundCity_zps06a38be7.jpg

Sound City. A Film by Dave Grohl.

“So they never painted any of the walls or changed the lino on the floors just in case it’d fuck with the …” he made air quotes, “legendary sound quality”.

“Looks like they never washed it either.”

“And the bands who recorded there? Like … Nirvana. Like Slipknot. Uh … Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, the list goes on and on.”

I got out my phone and googled.

“Like Rick Springfield and Barry Manilow and Ratt and, it says here: Evel Knieivel. Was that a band or did Evel Knievel the motorcycle guy actually make a record?”

I knew I could Google that too.

“OK, what about the sweet drum sound?”

“On Evel Knievel’s record? Or Barry Manilow’s?”

“The fucking legendary drum sound that Dave Grohl goes on and on about. Even though it used to be a Vox amp factory – just a big rectangular warehouse – it had the best drum sound.”

My jaw clenched a bit. I couldn’t wait to talk about “the best drum sound” again. Where to start …

“So they’re saying that acoustic design and treatment – something that pro studios have spent millions and millions of dollars on – is totally unnecessary? And what constitutes …” I made air quotes and grimaced, “the best drum sound, ferfucksake?” Did Manilow and Ratt use the same sweet sound? And also, if Grohl loved their drum sound so much, why didn’t he buy the studio and it’s sweet unpainted and unwashed magic when they were going belly-up?”

“He bought the Neve board from Studio A.”

“And moved it to his studio …”

A quick glance at the Wiki page.

” … located in a warehouse near Los Angeles – “not far from Sound City”?”

“It was really mostly about that board, right? You can’t get that analog thing, that sparkle, that warmth and humanness from today’s gear.”


I meant to stop there but didn’t.

“So virtually every song recorded digitally … since analog studios started going out of fashion – when was that … in the nineties? – lacks warmth, sparkle and humanness?”


“And the magic of people playing together in a room. That’s a totally analog thing … ”


I spent some time this morning considering buying a book called “Why We Write” that collects the answers to that question from some well-respected authors. The big idea was to find an answer there that might apply to me – since I’ve realized I don’t have a good one myself.

The only reasons I can dredge up seem a little unsavoury. I’d love to truly state that writing is like breathing to me (as one of the authors in the book’s preview claims) but it isn’t. I’m always happy to have completed something, but the drive to begin is more based on the belief that I should write, not that I couldn’t help myself.

And why should I write? I don’t know. That’s why I was going to download the book – rather than writing this.

Once when I was very young, my uncle brought a woman to our house that he claimed was a gypsy. With her black hair and flashing eyes she looked the part. My uncle convinced her to read my palms. I clearly remember telling her that one day my palms would be impossible to read because they would be covered in ink. I thought I was being clever making that “veiled” reference to the career path I had chosen.

I enjoyed writing as a child, although I often wonder now if I was simply enjoying the accolades and attention I received when I wrote. Of course I was – but did I continue writing for more of that attention or because I enjoyed the process? Who knows for sure. Not me. I do know that, like now, the question often stops me in my tracks and, like a snake eating it’s own tail, progress towards a solution grinds to a halt when the resulting circle reaches it’s smallest possible diameter.

I’ve kept a journal for years. The writing I do there is uninspiring and pedestrian but I believe there’s value in keeping track of your days. It’s a struggle for me to keep up-to-date, but I do because I receive good value from the entries that accumulate. There is a clear and useful reason for that writing. Sadly, I’ve become increasingly unsure about my reasons for writing in public.

I’m sharing this conflict here because, for whatever reason – suspicious or otherwise – I’d like to return to public writing with more frequency – and sincerity – and I’m unsure where to resume the story. Or what it is I want to share. Or why …

[ Permalink ] Filed under: Big Ideas,Creativity,Writing

Once again I’ve participated in an international conspiracy to celebrate the naming day of the brilliant Russell Hoban.

All around the world, pieces of yellow paper, bearing quotes from Hoban books, have been left in public places – cafe tables, bookshops, park benches, telephone booths, train stations or anywhere the birthday celebrants deemed appropriate. Over 350 quotes that have been left, on previous birthdays, in big cities and small towns in 14 countries since 2002. Russell Hoban remains one of the most original writers of the twentieth century and one of my very favourites.

Here’s what I sent in this year:

Greetings from White Rock BC Canada!

Yellow papers appeared on the pier today and changed things a bit. Folks on their walks stopped, curious. And walked away, curious. Hopefully Russ got a smile out of it.
“… still I am of the world, still I have something to say, how could it be otherwise, nothing comes to an end, the action never stops, it only changes….”

- from Pilgerman

20130204  Ra McGuire  SA4QE White Rock Pier 640

There are two more photos from my SA4QE adventure here, and you really should check out other submissions, as they come in, here, the full Russell Hoban site here here and the “Head of Orpheus” site here.

Trubba not.

[ Permalink ] Filed under: Photography

1984 Steve Jobs  Norman Seeff 620

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

~ Steve Jobs

Rolling Stone Magazine has run an online version of a Kurt Cobain interview from their January 27 1994 issue. In it, Cobain breaks down Nirvana’s songwriting shares. I was wrong about him receiving all the royalties. If my math is correct, it appears he took a total of 87.5% while the other two band members shared the remaining 12.5%, for a total of 6.25% each. Here’s how he put it:

Haven’t there been any issues where there was at least heated discussion?
Yeah, the songwriting royalties. I get all the lyrics. The music, I get 75 percent, and they get the rest. I think that’s fair. But at the time, I was on drugs when that came up. And so they thought that I might start asking for more things. They were afraid that I was going to go out of my mind and start putting them on salary, stuff like that. But even then we didn’t yell at each other. And we split everything else evenly.

Social media doesn’t usually work that well for Connor McGuire.

He’s tried. If you look around online, you can find him on the obligatory Facebook and Twitter, and he has a Tumbler website – but there’s not much there. Social media is clearly low on his list of priorities. His focus has been elsewhere.

His friends report that he seems to disappear for large blocks of time, only to emerge sporadically with some new version of himself and his art. They imagine a cave – which is not too far from the mark. They imagine screens glowing in the dark late at night, knobs and buttons, piles of instruments, piles of unwashed dishes and empty bottles. They can hear this in his music.

When they hear it, they can also tell right away why he’s doing it. It’s clear he’s searching for something great but different. Different but not weird. OK, maybe even weird sometimes, but not stupid or abrasive – or weird for weird’s sake. The words sound like thoughts we’ve had, the tunes haunt from a place not easy to reach and the emotions revealed are tempered with a welcome intelligence.

A song is a fragile construction, with each piece dependent on the other and, initially, only supported in the air by the artist’s sheer force of will. Some of Connor’s songs don’t get finished, but I sure love the ones that do …

Today I’m doing some social media for him, since he’s been mostly preoccupied with making music (and, in his spare time, his Boba Fett armour).

Please click here to watch a live recording of Connor’s new song “Hand it Over”.
(**For some reason, Safari users need to click “use original player” to see the video’s full width)