Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Ted Greene page is really coming along

I haven’t been over to the Ted Greene page lately, but it has a whole lot more content than the last time I checked. The site has a bit of a strange design — you need to click a few more times than you’d think, but it’s very much worth it.

There’s lots of audio and video, plus quite a few lesson sheets and tunes in PDF form. Even though this stuff is on the Web, I’d love to see some released in book and CD/DVD form.

Barbara, if you see this, you are doing a great job.

Blog still seems to hold up

A look at the stats shows that 10 to 30 people a day hit this blog.

The tech blog I do for the Daily News draws between 100 and 200 on a bad day, and 300 to 600 when I get a good link on another blog or site. On a really good week, meaning a good link during a heavy tech-news period, it can go up to 1,000 or 2,000 a day. That hasn’t happened in awhile.

But I’m happier here with 30 a day than I am over there with 200.

On a related note, I’m thinking of moving this blog over to WordPress. Besides being a newer, ostensibly better service, WordPress will allow this blog to be moved over, supposedly in its entirety, and will then allow backups to XML files. I have no idea whether or not Blogger supports this same feature, but I’d like to find out.

One thing’s for sure: Writing on Blogger beats the hell out of doing it on Movable Type.

It’s been a long 10 months

I haven’t written here in a long time. Not much has been happening in the musical realm. The time I do have has been spent working on computers and blogging about it. That sort of thing comes easier. Picking up an instrument I haven’t picked up in months and months, trying to relearn what I’ve forgotten and learn what I never knew is a daunting prospect.

I even worried about the blog being called “Jazz Guitar Journey,” because the direction I’m going in remains instrumental and solo but is diverging away from the jazz repertoire. Looking at the long term (and the way I’m going, there is no short term), I’m going to keep the name. If I ever do shift my focus back here, there’s no telling what will happen.

Long layoffs from playing. They don’t happen to everyone, but they do happen to plenty of us. Some go years or decades without playing. The challenge of returning to the box is one that isn’t written about much.

I’ve seen a couple of players lately. One at a wedding, another on the street in Santa Monica. Neither were all that great, but just seeing people playing out is inspiring.

Especially when it comes to street performers, they toil in obscurity that is anything but relative. People rarely stop, and there’s not a lot of attention or respect paid. That all changes when the player is really good and knows how to perform. But a lot of solo guitar playing is meant to be backgroundish. You can still catch ears with good playing.

Time for a Ted Greene reference. I’ve read plenty of stories about how Ted liked to play parties. He’s set up and play, knowing full well what the deal was. Of course, somebody with Ted’s talent and command of hundreds or thousands of tunes (much like the great piano players who do this sort of thing, but unlike most guitarists) could draw in a single person or a whole room as much as he liked. Invariably, the stories come around to the person in the room (the teller of the story) who is a huge fan and can’t believe that a then-living-legend is playing the party.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that a guy like Ted Greene was so unique, but that shouldn’t be the case. Guitarists, like pianists, should know how to play tons of tunes by themselves and be able to do so for a few hours at a crack.

And here I am, not playing at all for months. I couldn’t fake my way through a whole tune, much less 10, 20 or more.

It all begins somewhere. At the beginning.

Old Van Nuys Library sold

Before it leaves Dailynews.com forever, don’t miss the story that recounts the fate of the old Van Nuys Library — the 1926 Deco/Spanish/Colonial mixed breed building that, unfortunately, is leaving the public domain for that of a new owner who’s got a little money. Since, for reasons that don’t hold water, stories only last two weeks on Dailynews.com, here it is:

Auction of Van Nuys Library is one for the books
BY KERRY CAVANAUGH, Staff Writer
LA Daily News
Article Last Updated:10/01/2007 10:46:09 PM PDT

The historic Van Nuys Library fared well on the auction block Monday as a longtime admirer doled out $1.52 million to become the building’s new owner.

Winning bidder Tony Nasr with NTR Consultants said he’s admired the 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival-style building for more than 20 years and used to frequent the building for business when the Fire Department used it as an office.

“I was in love,” Nasr said after placing the winning bid during an auction at City Hall.

“I studied in Greece and I love the history of the buildings. I respect historic things. I want to keep the building as it is.”

Nasr – who paid more than a half-million dollars above the library’s appraised value of $950,000 – said he plans to restore the building and use it as an office.

The auction capped several weeks of controversy as some San Fernando Valley groups tried to persuade the city to retain ownership and let a local nonprofit use the building as a public space.

The one-story masonry building at 14553 Sylvan St. is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Allison and Allison, which built many public buildings – including Royce Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The building was among the Valley’s first libraries but was vacated in 1964, when the library moved to a more modern home in the Civic Center complex.

The Fire Department used the building as an office until 2005, and it’s been vacant and surrounded by a chain-link fence since.

The city decided to auction the historic building to expand library services in the area and, perhaps, build a new, larger library if the city can raise additional money, officials said.

Said Reginald Jones-Sawyer, director of real estate for the Department of General Services: “$1.5 million, that’s a lot of books.”

The money from the sale will be used for libraries in Council District 6, which includes Van Nuys, Arleta and Sun Valley.

“The proceeds of this sale will give the other libraries in the Valley the resources necessary to better serve our families,” said Councilman Tony C rdenas, who represents the area.

“If we had not sold this facility, we would have denied these families a vital funding opportunity and we would have risked burdening the taxpayers with hefty costs.”

Some in the community noted that the library’s final sales price was higher than they had expected.

“That’s certainly higher than I would have been able to bid,” said Sara Fisk, president of the New Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Fisk had collected about $500,000 in pledges toward buying the building and is still hoping to find a home for the orchestra.

“I’m so sorry,” Fisk said. “We already have a glut of office space in Van Nuys. It had the feel that it should have been an arts center,” she said.

Bidding on the library started at $950,000. Although the building has been modified over the years and the interior looks more sterile than the original version, bidders quickly pushed the price up to $1.52 million in the fast-paced auction.

Susan Kudo-Leeds, who owns Leeds Investment and Management with Ben Leeds, was hoping to buy the library and restore it to its former glory.

“It’s stately and old,” she said. “And it just needs a little help.”

kerry.cavanaugh@dailynews.com

(213) 978-0390
Copyright ©2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Ilene update

Ilene has a lot going on. Besides teaching nutrition to five dozen or so at CSUN, her father is in a coma after falling from a ladder. In lighter news, she got a new bike.

Other things we’re doing: dealing with clutter. Ilene moved a bunch of our Lulu’s boxes o’ crap out of the living room and into the kid’s own room. It’s her crap, and she’s got her own room, so there. The 4-year-old loves to collect and save any old thing.

We’ve got bags upon bags of old clothes, toys, baby detritus, plus assorted electronic gear and other various and sundries in The Back Room. We need to have a garage sale to get rid of as much as we can. We must reclaim The Back Room, which is also filled with various two- and four-wheeled vehicles, has become a staging area for crap and the spiders who love it.

It’s easier to make mess than it is to deal with it. But dealt with it must be.

Van Nuys auto dealers shuttered

Have you noticed the now-closed car dealerships on Van Nuys Boulevard. One is the Suzuki dealer (who ever bought a Suzuki car, anyway?), and I’m not sure, but I think the other one is/was Miller Nissan. There’s still Miller Infiniti a few doors North.

Is it me, or is Van Nuys Auto Row (or whatever it is they call it) going totally updscale. Sure, there’s Toyota and GM on the other side of Burbank Boulevard, but with Keyes replacing its Hyundai dealership with Acura, which is directly across the street from Hummer.

And south of Burbank Boulevard, I think used BMWs are now in the lot that used to be Chrysler. So you’ve got BMW, Mercedes (Keyes European), Lexus, Infiniti — I don’t even think Honda is there anymore (yeah, I do drive by every single day, and it’s still a bit of a blur. And I already name-checked Acura and Hummer.

Still, I bet that Toyota dealer sells more cars than just about all the others combined.

Al fresco dining in Van Nuys adjacent

Four ‘N’ 20 Pies used to be in Van Nuys proper, in that funky, totally-early-’70s building that was replaced, I believe, by the Toyota dealership on Van Nuys Boulevard.

After the demolition, Four ‘N’ 20 moved south of Burbank, into what is nominally Sherman Oaks. No matter.

Anyhow … they have a few outside tables, and we had a nice coffee/tea ‘N’ pie afternoon there last Sunday while the little girl was at grandma’s.

As always, the service, the coffee and the pie were all great. And at 2-ish, the place was packed.

2,000 Days, 10,000 page views

I’m almost never over here, yet this site manages somehow to draw 15 to 20 page views a day.

Kinda makes you think. My Van Nuys-ish site under the auspices of the Daily News, Come on Feel the Nuys, is similarly neglected, and I bet it doesn’t get as much traffic as this one.

As has been the case for almost a year now, most of my blogging is about technology. It’s just easier, for the most part — both to write and in terms of finding an audience.

When you focus on one subject over almost all others, your world closes in. I haven’t been to L.A. Observed in a few months. Not because of anything over at the blog itself, just because my attentions are elsewhere.

It wouldn’t kill me to pay a little more attention.

More Van Nuys items coming right up.