Music and Arts Monday October 23, 2017: Meet Mo

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Mo at home in his cigar shop Holy Smokes

It’s been a long time since I did a M&A Monday, so I thought I would start anew with a good one.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Holy Smokes Cigar and Pipe Shop during it’s weekly “Cigars and Guitars” night. It seems the turnout was a bit lower than normal, but that didn’t stop the shop’s owner Mo Leverett from treating us to a few of his songs.

I met Mo just before heading out on last year’s adventure to Arizona, and even from that brief meeting I knew I liked the man. Occasionally you meet someone who you just know has had an adventurous life, from his look, his manner, or his way with words. This is one of those men. That evening he told the men gathered at his shop  his testimony, and confirmed to me his interesting life. I remembered that much when walking in to Holy Smokes Friday night.

But I forgot about his music.

It’s not often that I get hooked on someone’s music from hearing a live performance of it,  possibly because I don’t get out that much, but largely because live music can often lack the quality and depth of music carefully manufactured in a studio. Mo proved to be one of the rare cases. His music almost begs to be performed live, just so he can pour his emotion into it time and time again.

So here’s my recommendation this week, go check out his videos on YouTube. In particular I really enjoy “Like Hell Inside“, “Florida“, “If You Know What I Mean“, “It’s Your Family”, and “His Claim To Fame“.

Then if you like what you hear, head on over to his site and purchase a CD or two. Or three.

You won’t be disappointed.

Why I Hate My Neighbor’s Rap Music

no crap

Someone out there is going to call me a racist for this, but to be honest, I hate the “music” my neighbors blare at random times of the week. It just so happens that my neighbors are black, and the “music” is rap.

But I’m not a racist. If you could label me anything it may be a “culturalist”. But I’m not opposed to “black culture” either. So I guess even a label like “culturalist” doesn’t fit.

Really, I just dislike any culture that denigrates any class of individual, whether they be white, black, rich, poor, male, or female. When your music contains words like “n*****”, “ho”, “b*****s”, and an abundance of the “f-word”, every other lyric, you might want to check your culture.

The over glorification of sexism, drug abuse, and violence is the sign of a dying culture.

Also, if you don’t want my children to be calling you certain racial terms, you probably shouldn’t blare them quite so loudly within 100 feet of my house.

It’s not a genre thing, my dislike of much of the music out there extends well beyond rap. I actually enjoy some rap, there are several good Reformed rappers out there who redeem the art form. It’s not the musical form, it’s the lyrics.

A fair amount of the country music out there is also junk. Rock has always been about
“sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll”. Top 40 pop rarely puts out a song that isn’t horrible. Not that pop has ever been as squeaky clean as it pretends to be, but at least back in the day they tried to use innuendo. Today it’s all about being as blatant and in your face as possible.

I know, I just sound like an old fuddy- duddy (does using that term make me one?). I need to get with the times and accept the fact that sex, drugs, and violence sell, and they sell very well. But to me, any form of “art” that reduces women into objects to be conquered should be considered anathema to a respectable culture’s ears. Any “art” that glorifies violence against others or turns self-abuse into a recreational past time should be put on the trash heap. That goes for all mediums, from music to tv to painting.

If the only thing we find entertaining is the degradation of others we need to wonder if our culture as a whole is dying. My neighbors need to seriously consider whether or not their culture is improving or crumbling around them.

I’m not seeing much improvement.

 

Losing Paper

I have this “certification”.

While doing the long overdue job of sorting through my over abundance of books the other day a question occurred to me: how often do we use paper anymore?

I mean obviously we use some. Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, paper dishes etc. The wood fiber industry is in no danger of failing anytime soon!

But how often do we refer to paper for information? On my shelves I have at least a dozen and a half books about “how to do this” or “how to do that”, many of which I have never picked up, even if I had done projects in related areas. Several of these books ended up in my giveaway pile.

Even books of photography or art or fiction are hardly picked up anymore.

The reason for all of this is obvious. The internet has pretty much everything we need. Millennials have nearly given up on paper. They are often accused of being know-it-alls (isn’t every generation?) just because they feel quite confident that they can find answers to every question just a few clicks away. This is the first generation in history in which nearly everyone has virtually immediate access to vast quantities of data and information.

I remember the days when the internet was considered the last place to go for information. Every page was suspect, and if you couldn’t back up the fact with a book, you had better not put it in your research paper. Now, even the Bible is on an app or website. I’m certain I don’t have to fact check that one.

I greatly appreciate having the Bible in an app. It’s easy to find verses by keyword or topic, and I can even click the word to find out the original Hebrew or Greek words. How many paper books would I have to refer to to find that info?

These days I now carry a bigger library of fiction and textbooks in my pocket than many of my ancestors had in their entire house. And with internet access I have the ability to find any number of recipes, how-tos, and hints and tips. There is no need anymore to occupy large quantities of space with tomes of outdated information.

This easy access to billions (trillions? more?) of bits of data can be overwhelming. There are things that are much simpler to do with old fashioned paper or a few phone calls or face to face meetings. Like car repair. Type in any symptom of car trouble into Google and you will likely find at least fifteen different diagnoses with at least seven different fights going on in forums about what the proper repair is. While I have learned nearly all of my mechanical knowledge from YouTube and forums I must say there is nothing quite like the Haynes Manual when you just need to know something simple.

I was nice enough to buy this for my wife. She’s kinda into car repairing. She’s awesome.

They offer online access to these manuals, but for the same price you can have a real object in your hand, available even in the iffy phone service of southeast New Mexico. And unlike online versions your subscription will not expire and the site will never shut down.

What else do I want in paper? Well, the owner’s manual for one. Do you know how hard it is to look up fluid capacities and recommend oil types on a tiny little screen? Fortunately most cars still come with those.

And magazines. There is something great about being able to pick up some colorful and quick knowledge while sitting in a doctors office or car mechanic’s shop (because YouTube failed to mention that one step). It makes you look less stuck up to be flipping through a magazine than it does to have your nose buried in your phone.

Kids books also. My kids stare at enough screens all day, they need something tactile that doesn’t make random noises and overstimulating flashes. A child reading a book is a classic image that should continue to be ingrained into our collective psyche.

Children
Thanks Google. Try to find a picture like this in a book that quickly, I dare you!

What do I want to stop seeing on paper? Bank statements (usually a week behind), letters stating “disregard if you have already addressed this matter” (yep, three days ago, thanks to web alerts), and pretty much any bill that I have already set up online bill-pay for. All the nonsense that comes into my house and makes me think “oh this is important, they took the time and money to print it out” can go as well.

Books are not ever going to disappear, there will always be some nostalgic souls out there who just want to hold one in their hand. Or people who enjoy searching through page after page for the (probably outdated) answer to one question.

My prediction is that books are going to be the vinyl album of the next generation. “Oh wow, did you see they put that out in book?! We should totes get one to sit on our shelf. That would look swell!”

The word “swell” will also make a come back. Oh, I hope not…

 

It’s a zTrap!

Ever hear of something too good to be true? Everyone has. More often than not, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

Such is the case it seems for a company I was told about last night. While making my rounds for Uber I was told by a rider that there was this great new ride sharing company in Jacksonville. She said this company is just like Uber, but unlike Uber where you bring your own vehicle, this company provides you with a car that you keep 24/7. On top of that, they provide you with insurance and pay all maintenance on the vehicle. And the most enticing thing: you keep 100% of the fares.

This definitely sounded wayyyy to good to be true. So of course I went home and looked it up. Sure enough, their website had a handy comparison chart demonstrating that, unlike their competition, they provide insurance and maintenance.

The other differences between the two are pretty vague.

Uber has just started providing 24/7 driver assistance so that point is moot.

Keeping 100% of “Your” fares seems to be word play to me. There is no way a company could survive without income while providing insurance and maintenance (and vehicles?). They must be taking some portion of the charges to the costumer, which is exactly what Uber does. I assume what is “yours” to keep is determined by the company.

Build repeat clientele? Honestly? Meh. My zTrip informant also described an Uber driver who basically drove a school bus route every day. She picked up the same kids every morning and took them to school. Then she picked them up in the afternoon. You don’t need a parent company to help you build repeat costumers, you just have to be in the same place at the same time every day. Where there is a will there is a way.

Still intrigued, mostly because I was thinking they might actually provide a vehicle (nothing on the site to confirm nor deny it), I decided to sign up. All I had to do was fill out a small form, then I was taken to a “Thank you” page which said they would be in contact. This was definitely different from Uber, which in the initial sign-up phase asked about my vehicle type as well as information like driver’s license number.

With Uber, I signed up and was driving less than 48 hours later. zTrip is already feeling like it will take a lot longer. If I recall correctly, the lady last night said she had to go in for an interview. That sounds suspiciously like an employee gig and not an independent contractor gig like Uber or Lyft.

So after signing up I decided to do some research (I know, typical me, wait until after to read the fine print). It appears zTrip is really just a re-brand of Yellow Taxi.  This made me recoil. I don’t like clever cover ups which just change the name of an old crappy service.

Have you ever heard anyone say “Man, I had this great taxi driver the other day, really nice person, and they were so cheap!”? No one ever hears that. I hear it all the time about Uber drivers though. Not to say we are perfect (as a driver I hear horror stories) but we do seem to be better on average.

After a bit more searching I found this page:

Ignoring the typo, this page is ambiguous. It doesn’t say you do get a car, but it doesn’t say you don’t.  The best I can figure is they offer specials on leasing vehicles, but you don’t get to pick exactly what you want, just what they want you to want. Judging by the cars in the first picture above, there is branding involved.

I’m all for competition. I’d rather taxi companies offer a better service at a better price than go whine to legislators. Before re-branding they attempted to have the draconian laws the local government puts on them enforced on the new rideshare companies. Taxi companies in other cities have been more successful at this.

Why don’t they instead fight to have those laws relaxed? Why must they use government to stifle the market? Obviously people like the other companies, otherwise they wouldn’t be so successful. Do taxi companies care about the consumer?

I applaud ZTrip for at least trying to be more like it’s successful rivals. I hope the competition drives the pay up for all of us drivers (and the fares down for the consumer) as the companies fight it out for customers. I just don’t know if I want to be stuck as an employee with a branded car, I’m not ready to give up my freedom as an independent contractor.

I awai

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