Eulogy for Steve Jobs

“Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”  – Steve Jobs

I’m going to talk about love. I know for some, this will be a completely ridiculous post. I warn you that it’s idealistic, thick with accolade and short on criticism. Of course, love isn’t always sunshine and unicorns; the expression of love can be completely messed up and dysfunctional, but when it can be expressed purely, it is a profoundly transformative force. Love has changed the course of world events (see Edward VIII). If you believe that the bond of love is the strongest bond there is, imagine the energy created when one does what one loves. Then imagine when it is stoked and magnified by others coming together in sharing that pursuit. Now imagine it as a company. Maybe call it Apple Computers. Or maybe call it Pixar. Or maybe drop the “Computers” and just call it Apple.

Richard Branson, business titan and Steve Jobs admirer, wrote:

I’ve never been interested in being ‘in business’. I’ve been interested in creating things … Business is creative. It’s like painting. You start with a blank canvas. You can paint anything – anything – right there, is your first problem. For every good painting you might turn out, there are a zillion bad paintings just aching to drip off your brush. Scared? You should be. You start. You pick a color. The next color you pick has to work with the first color … People who succeed in business have swallowed their fear and have set out to create something special, something to make a difference to people’s lives …

Steve Jobs was a creative soul who used business as his creative medium and love as his fuel to make a difference to people’s lives. He encouraged us to do what we love. And what did Steve Jobs want to do? Steve Jobs wanted to make great things that would “make a dent in the universe.”

People love Apple products because they can be seen as a reflection of the power of people in pursuit of creating the best tools; tools that allow others to better do what *they* love. All of this effort and creative force of will processed through the prismatic mind of one Steve Jobs.

Maybe he was a jerk sometimes, but a lifelong, singleminded pursuit of ongoing creative vision can do that to people. It happens often. Historically, the pursuit of marching to one’s own drummer can often require sharp elbows in wider society. They’re imperfect souls, these creative visionaries. They don’t worry about giving society what we want, they give us what we need. The lucky ones live long enough to see society’s acceptance. Steve Jobs was one of the lucky ones. He not only saw society’s acceptance, he saw its standing ovation, then ultimately a full on arena roar. Steve Jobs was a rock star.

First, Apple created tools for the creators. Then, the world got to see what these tools could create. And then, Apple gave tools to the rest of us, we who no longer needed to understand the technology in order to use a technological tool. We turned on an Apple product and it just worked. Made with love, given with love, created with the highest aspiration that this tool will allow us to do what we love, be that creating digital art on a macbook pro or making movies at Pixar or creating music on an iPad or putting your entire music collection in your pocket or allowing you to hold a loved one’s face in your hands as you see and talk with them on your iPhone. Tools created by thousands, used by millions and given to us by one Steve Jobs.

The quotes of the wise reverberate through history, and so many of those reverberations carry the message of the importance of love and the importance of doing what one loves. Steve Jobs took that advice to heart and excelled in the expression of that message in ways few others do. In doing what he loved, Steve Jobs used Apple to create infinite opportunities for us to do the same.

Shine on, Steve Jobs.

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The Police, Oakland, CA – 06/13/07

(originally written 6.14.07)

Ticket stub, The Police

The Police in Oakland, 2007

Here’s my take on last night’s show:

The Police show last night made me happy. Not as happy as I would have been had I been allowed to see them on the Synchronicity tour at age 13? 14?, (my hopes were kiboshed by the “parental units” on that one) but considering there were no albums after that one*, I can’t imagine the show would have been too drastically different (although maybe I would have heard “Tea in the Sahara” back then).

* Not including the greatest hits with the re-recording of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”

From a sound standpoint, both K and Larry said the low end was pretty sucktastic – we didn’t pay $200 for our tickets, and I felt like their performance was worth the $30 per guy I paid to spend a couple hours with them. I had a good time, and that was all I was looking for. K was a trooper; we didn’t know if he was going with us as he’s been sick for the last few days, but we cajoled him into going and I think he was glad he went.

The Police is one of those bands that I used to really like a lot, but I almost never listen to them anymore, so it was kind of strange to be sitting there, singing along word-for-word to all these songs…I kind of marvelled at myself for remembering them, and then tried to remember if I was a HUGE Police fan when I was fangirly about so many other acts in high school. Apparently so 🙂 I always did love Sting’s lyrics, though, and was reminded of how much I learned from tracking down the myriad references that peppered his writing.

Highlights for me:
– “Invisible Sun”
– “When the World is Running Down”
– “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”
– “Can’t Stand Losing You”
– The fact that I was finally watching The Police – Live!
– No drunken jerks in our section

A gratifying and satisfactory concert-going experience all in all, for me at least, and an absolutely perfect night for an outdoor show. Not the best, far from the worst, and glad to have seen them live at last.

Peter Murphy at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA – 5/24/05

(originally written 5.25.05)


Ticket stub, Peter Murphy at The Fillmore in San Francisco, 2005

Peter Murphy in San Francisco, 2005

We went to see Peter Murphy  at The Fillmore last night; there were issues with the sound and Peter’s in-ears – he introduced us to Sascha, his tech, as Sascha spent more of the night than he should have running around the stage adjusting things and trying to put the in-ears back in the middle of songs while PM was singing.

Most of it was either new material or stuff from Holy Smoke and later; 4 songs from deep, if i recall correctly, two of which were in the encore: “Cuts You Up” and “Marlena Dietrich’s Favorite Poem” (which was great to hear, one of my favorites); he also did “A strange kind of love” and “deep ocean, vast sea”….The new stuff sounds like Deep II; I was hoping that he had continued down the turkish-influenced path, but apparently not. I’m a big fan of his first two solo albums and was slightly disappointed but unsurprised to not hear any songs from that era.

I don’t think I heard any Bauhaus songs, but I wasn’t expecting to.

quote of the night:

“You know, 3/4ths of that band [Bauhaus] were total primadonnas, and Peter was the QUEEN BITCH.”

Bjork, San Francisco, CA – 8/8/2003

(originally written 8.9.03)
Ticket, Bjork 2003

Bjork in San Francisco, 2003

so…
we just got back from the afterparty for the Bjork show 🙂
The show itself was fantastic, there were *fireworks* that went off during a few of the songs. We sat in the bleacher area, it was a strange venue (Piers 30/32), but once the fireworks went off, it was like “oh, maybe that’s why” — her ‘backing band’ consisted of the “Icelandic String Octet”, a harp player, who also played a bunch of stuff (like accordian, harpsichord, etc) and Matmos, a blip pop duo (which is a genre I’ve never even heard of! K just informed me of it, and a quick search on google confirms it. My god! *marvels*) They played with Bjork on Vespertine.

There was pyro, there were fireworks, there were pyro(!) and fireworks at the same time! It was off the hook. She sounds as good live as she does on the albums – her voice is amazing. I have a whole new level of esteem for her- it’s rare these days to hear that level of expertise.

She played a lot of songs that are on her greatest hits album that recently came out. K’s a much bigger fan than I am, he really enjoyed it. It was a really good show.

Our friend Wobbly was dj’ing the afterparty, and he told us about it and where it was going to be. It was all very hush hush, even though, in his email he said she almost never shows up at them. So, we got there early, we actually found parking right away in North Beach at 10:30 on a Friday night (which is virtually *unheard* of, incidentally) we showed up just as Matmos showed up with Wobbly (they’re friends). So, we met the Matmos guys and chatted with them for a minute while they got the place opened up. Big white space, they threw on a vintage golf instructional video up and set up the drinks table. K and I talked with W. while he got set up.

We’re all hanging out, people start showing up, a very hip and arty crowd. Everyone’s got their own vibe going, it’s fascinating to just sit in the corner and watch. There’s this interesting woman who looks an awful lot like Bjork; I say to K “look at that girl…she looks like Bjork” – he looks and says “it *is* her”. So, there you have it. We were all dancing in a circle on the dance floor, a bunch of girls. I haven’t danced in a long time, and I danced my ass off. It was great. We got home at 2; it was such a fun, random evening. The rock gods were with us, we had a really wonderful time. We need to go out more, definitely.

Imagery PSA

Just a heads up that I’m currently posting a music-related photo each day at Flickr.com — Concert ticket stubs, setlists, live show photos, promo items and other miscellany.

The Morrissey Show, Columbus, OH – 6/27/1991

ticket stub, Morrissey 1991

Morrissey in Cincinnati, 1991

(originally written 3.16.07)

Just saw that Morrissey is playing the Paramount in May [1997], and for an nth of a second got excited. But then I remembered the time when I was living in Columbus, OH and I won tickets to go see Morrissey in Cincinnati.It’s a bit of a drive from Columbus to Cincinnati, but it was never an issue to take a road trip for a show, as my friends can attest. We’d pile into the bumper-stickered Volvo with a vast selection of cassettes carefully chosen for the selected show and drive as far as necessary.

I was a huge fan of The Smiths, and for years had an advertisment for the UK Smiths “Queen is Dead” tour on my full-length mirror, one that I had carefully clipped out from a Melody Maker that I had purchased from the local “cool” record store on one of my regular visits. I had never seen The Smiths live, and while I liked some of Morrissey’s solo work, it wasn’t the same. But! Winning tickets to the show made it a foregone conclusion that I would at last see the illustrious MORRISSEY!! Awesome.

So we went the show, which was at an outdoor ampitheatre, took our seats and waited for the magic to begin. The show starts, but before long, there were some sort of issues with security that kept interrupting the show – Morrissey’s pissed at the interruptions, throws some kind of fit, and after six songs, storms offstage. Aaaaand… that’s the show, kids!

What a scam. I remember being glad that I had won my tickets, because if I would have had to pay for that show, I’d have been royally p.o.’ed. So I say, no thanks to you, Mr. Steven Patrick Morrissey and your stupid Paramount show. 😛

Here’s a video from a different show on the same tour.

Jane’s Addiction / Henry Rollins Band, Cleveland, OH – 11/27/90

Review, Jane’s Addiction/Henry Rollins Band
Cleveland Agora
27 November 1990

When Jane’s Addiction played in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, they only performed eight songs, citing lack of enthusiasm on the part of the audience for the short set. Well, Perry and friends didn’t need to worry about the enthusiasm of the sold-out crowd at the Cleveland Agora Tuesday night.

The show began at 8:15, with Henry Rollins Band as the opening act. Rollins, formerly of Black Flag, and the rest of the band performed a tight, 45-minute set, consisting of mostly new songs with a few Black Flag songs thrown in for good measure. There was a high level of intensity throughout the set.  Rollins was like a rattlesnake, coiled to strike as he rocked back and forth on the stage. He did lunge at one of the several stage divers as he was stalking across the stage. Near the end of the set, Rollins finally asked politely that the audience stay off the stage.  The crowd’s enthusiasm was not dampened by the announcement, however; and the slam pit at the front of the stage kept the security guards busy all night long.

At 9:30, under the smoky haze of red and purple lights, Jane’s Addiction kicked into high gear. They performed several songs from their three albums, including “Whores” and “1%,” “Up the Beach,” “Obvious” and “Then She did…” Perry Farrell’s vocals were somewhat fuzzy during the first few songs, but that was quickly fixed by the sound men. There were a few other technical glitches during the show; however, they were due more to overzealous fans that to the band or the crew.

At one point, a stage diver (yes, they reappeared) took the mic with him as he leapt back into the crowd. This caused the show to stop momentarily while the crew retrieved the mic. Of course, once the mic was returned, the band responded to the crew with “Thank You Boys.”  The crowd obviously consisted of many fans as they sang along to “Standing in the Shower, Thinking” “Been Caught Stealing” “Ain’t No Right” and “Stop,” among others.

The lighting and stage set complemented the music of the band. Colored Christmas lights were strewn along the back of the stage. Along the sides, flowers and icons were overflowing from the shelves, which gave the whole stage the look of a shrine.

In all, aside from the distractions of a few overzealous fans, Jane’s Addiction delivered a very high-energy show.

– me

Here’s a video from a different night of the same tour:

The Sisters of Mercy, Cleveland, OH – 4/2/91

Sisters of Mercy ticketstub, 1991

The Sisters of Mercy – Agora Theatre, Cleveland OH 4/2/91

Who better than my 21 year old self to describe the night I saw The Sisters of Mercy, which, oddly enough, was exactly 20 years ago today? Here’s my journal entry from April 3, 1991, the day after the show.

Trav & I went to see The Sisters of Mercy show in Cleveland last night. We got to the Agora at 7:15ish I figured that since the show was general admission*, we could get close to the stage (good figuring). so here we were: diagram time!

stage and audience diagram

The masses, me & Trav, security

Very, very close to the stage! But it doesn’t end there, nope. The set ends, but they are going to come out for an encore, surely. But suddenly, I ask Trav if he wanted to hang out by the buses, as we might catch them before they got on. So we debated for a minute and left. We found a stage door and were hanging out momentarily when a woman roadie came out and she told us we could go in, the door was open. So Trav goes walking in like he owns the place. AND WE HUNG OUT BACKSTAGE FOR THE WHOLE ENCORE! We could see EVERYONE! One roadie asked us for our passes and I told him that woman told us we could come in and he said that was cool.

After the show, we talked to a couple more roadies and they told us about the other stage door where everyone would come out. So, we waited [I remember it was really super cold and we were freezing our butts off waiting around for ages] and eventually Andrew came out and walked right by us and didn’t even stop (which was disappointing). But we decided to wait for the rest of the band. So we were waiting. and waiting. This guy came out with a guitar and asked us if we were waiting for autographs. We said yeah, and he told us that he’d drop off the guitar and TAKE US IN TO MEET THE REST OF THE BAND!!!!!!!!! And he did!

Journal Entry #1, part 2, 1991

OMG!!!!!!!

So, we met the rest of the band and it was cool. We got a poster and autographs!

Dressing Room Sign, 1991

So we had a good time. It was long, but definitely worth it. The songs included

  • Dominion / Mother Russia
  • This Corrosion
  • First & Last & Always (opener!)
  • Body & Soul
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Amphetamine Logic
  • Vision Thing (last song)
  • Ribbons
  • Lucretia My Reflection
  • MARIAN!!!
  • Detonation Blvd.
  • Something Fast
  • I Was Wrong
Here’s a video from a different night of the same tour:

*general admission shows mean there is no assigned seating, and often, no seats at all.

The Posies, Dear 23

In the fall of 1990, I was the sole employee for an independently owned record store located in an unglamorous suburb of Akron, Ohio.  We were located in a long and slender shoebox-shaped space in an unremarkable strip mall located across the street from a televangelist headquarters that had a giant concrete tower and an all-you-can-eat buffet as defining characteristics.

One afternoon, I was opening the mail. We had received the usual miscellany — some invoices, some promotional material, some padded envelopes from labels. I used to open the padded envelopes first. Padded envelopes meant music – usually promos or advanced copies of artists that I could throw on while I opened the rest of the mail.  I opened an envelope from Geffen Records, selected an album by a band called The Posies, stuck it in the player and hit “play.”

Dear 23 was the name of that album, and it was played by me not just once, but repeatedly for hours and then days on end. I worked at the store from 11am til 8 or 9pm daily. By work, I mean “sit around all day, listening to music and turning people on to quality music.”  Dear 23 qualified as quality music (amazing music! genius music!) in my book and everyone needed to hear this. I think I played that album at least six hours a day every day for a month at least. I was in love with this album.

I wrote a review of the album for a local music newspaper:

Is there something in the water in Seattle, Washington?  Many bands from the Seattle area have recently found themselves releasing debut albums on major labels. One of the most promising of these new bands is Geffen recording artists THE POSIES.

Their album, Dear 23, is reminiscent of the music of The Hollies from the sixties. Lush guitars and striking harmonies are found throughout the album, and they sound extraordinarily good.

However, it is not only the music that makes THE POSIES sound so good, they have have a talent for developing dynamic lyrics. The lyrical diversity ranges from the frustrating hopelessness of “Help Yourself” to the gentle admonition in “You Avoid Parties.” Kenneth Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer have been able to unite the intesity of the music with lyrics that are equally intense.

So, if you’re looking for something new, check out this four-man band from Seattle. THE POSIES are a band that has captured the sound of the sixties, while adding a nineties flair.

The Posies came to town in December 1990. My editor called me a couple weeks before the show: “Hey, that band you like is playing at The Empire – do you want to review the show?” Do I?  “Yes, I do!”  I got the name of the label guy and reported to the venue the night of the show.  “Hey, do you want to meet the band?”  Do I want to meet the band? “Yes, I do!” And away we went to the green room, where I encountered four Posies and a deli tray.  And copies of the newspaper with my review in it. I believe the conversation started like this: “You’re the one who wrote that review!?” “You’re the ones who made that awesome album?” and then continued into one of those magical moments that happen when music lovers bond.  The time quickly came for the show to start – “We have to go play – are you going to stick around after the show?” Am I? “Yes, I am” and off we went, the boys headed to the stage while I positioned myself front and center. It was a fine show.

My review  follows:

I must admit, after listening to The Posies Dear 23 I was a bit apprehensive about seeing them live. Visions of Milli Vanilli were haunting me; I could only hope that The Posies were real.  With notebook and pen in hand, I stepped into The Empire Monday night, silently hoping The Posies wouldn’t let me down. As those of you  who saw the show (or heard it on WMMS) know, The Posies are no Milli Vanilli (THANK GOD!). The Posies are, in fact, one of the most powerful, energetic new bands I’ve seen in a long time.

Opening their set with “My Big Mouth,”  the band jumped into some of the more aggressive songs in their repetoire, including “Under Easy” and “Any Other Way.” In case anyone thought that the Posies are a one-dimensional band, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow reassured the crowd that there is indeed “a kinder, gentler Posies.”  With this said, bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger left the stage, allowing Auer and Stringfellow to show their vocal and instrumental talents on “You Avoid Parties” and “Apology.”  The only disappointment was the lack of the acoustic guitars on these songs, which were used on the album. The electric guitars caused a bit of feedback on “You Avoid Parties,” but it was quickly fixed. The other band members returned for the rest of the set.

It was evident that The Posies really enjoy performing together as they joked and kidded around both with each other and the audience. They seemed as excited to be on stage as the audience was listening to them.

Afterwards, I sat and talked with Ken and Jon for a long time, and promised to keep in touch.

MTV Afternoons

(originally written Feb 8, 2003)

When I was in jr. high/high school, I would come home from school and watch MTV until Mom and Dad came home from work. I would sit on the wooden floor, three feet from the set, with my vcr remote control (with a cord connecting it to the back of the box) in my left hand, thumb hovering over the ‘record’ button, waiting impatiently for the next cool video to appear so I could add it to my collection.

This was when MTV played videos.

There also were “World Premiere Videos,”  an event that would require me to take over the tv at 8pm *exactly* so I could tape the latest by music video superstars like Madonna or  Duran Duran. The world premieres were great though, especially if it was someone you liked. If it was someone you liked, you were guaranteed to see a cool video at the top of every hour for the next day or so. If it was someone you didn’t like, well…maybe better to skip MTV for a day or so.

The adrenaline rush moments came when I heard the opening strains of a favorite song, thumb springing into action within the first five seconds in order to capture the entire music video in all its glory. Sometimes, there were false alarms, and then I’d have to stop the tape and try to rewind it enough that I would tape over the mistake, but not the tail end of the last video. VCRs weren’t precise at all.

If it was a good afternoon, I’d see an Ultravox video, followed by the latest Madonna video, followed by maybe David Bowie or Duran Duran. If it was a bad afternoon? If it was a bad afternoon, I would be forced to sit through videos from artists like Def Leppard, Quiet Riot or RATT. Not for this new wave girl.

The worst thing that could happen would be that when I got home and flipped everything on, they would be in the middle of one of the rarest of rare videos. Things like the Sisters of Mercy’s “Black Planet” or The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?”. I’d capture 5 or 10 seconds at best. There were several half-videos on my tapes, but half was better than not seeing it at all.

Sometimes after school, my girlfriends would come over and we’d sit and watch the tapes of all the videos. We’d analyze them for fashion ideas, we’d discuss the merits of the story lines, we’d swoon over the faces of the musicians we adored, we’d argue over who was going to marry which member of Duran Duran.

The girls would also bring over their lastest finds from the record store. 12″ import singles from England, overlooked scores from the cut-out bins, and later, cassettes dug out from the monsterous heap of sale cassettes from places like K-Mart. It was like a scavenger hunt for us; trying to wade throug the muck to find diamonds like Siouxsie and the Banshees or Japan.

Now I can watchVH1 classics or search YouTube and see videos that I didn’t even know existed. On VH1 Classics, in rapid-fire succession, the rat-a-tat fire of Xymox, Ministry, Depeche Mode, Romeo Void, Shriekback. I see REM’s “Wolves, Lower”, followed ten minutes later by The Blue Nile’s “Headlights on the Parade”, neither of which ever graced my eyes back then. It’s a magical flashback, almost like the MTV of our alternative dreams in miraculous slices. It’s a beautiful thing.