Aug. 21st, 2009

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Fire! Fire!

The final tally from the Bonny Doon fire:

Number of acres burned: 7100
Number of houses burned: 0
Number of outbuildings burned: 2
Number of pot farms burned: 0 (officially)
Number of people evacuated: 2400
Number of horses evacuated: several dozen
Number of firefighters brought in: 2400
Fire engines: 300
Helicopters: 10
Tanker planes: 6
Bulldozers: 40
Governor visits: 1
Time till smoke clears, in months: 2

I knew things were getting out of hand last Thursday morning when, on my trip over 17, dozens of fire engines of all types and colors from all over Northern California were headed south en masse. The fire had started the night before and was already over 1000 acres.

Details and a picture... )
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Les Paul died last week at 94. If you're not familiar with his name, he was the Edison of rock.

Just about everything we do these days in recording and performing was either invented or deeply influenced by him. Things like, say, the electric guitar. Multitrack recording. Echo. Reverb. Distortion. Pitch and time shifting. Gibson licensed his designs and his name for the Les Paul guitar, a mainstay of rock for decades.

At his heart, though, he was a performer. He invented all these techniques to allow him to record the jazz and early pop he was writing with Mary Ford. Listening to their music now, it sounds almost quaint. But, 50 or 60 years ago, pulling that off was a big deal. I love what my modern recording systems can do for me, but it all really started with Les.

Today, anybody can walk in to Guitar Center with a few thousand bucks and walk out with a better recording studio than even the Beatles ever had. But, you can't get talent there. You can't get the chops to do a good job there. You can't get an ear for your vision, to mix metaphors.

Les Paul still played a weekly gig in New York all the way to the end. He will be missed.

Edit: And here is a commercial he did recently for Coors (!). Gives you a tiny glimpse of his playing.


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