Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My letter to President Obama regarding U.S. Wars and interventionism in the Middle East

Today, on September 10, 2014, I submitted the following letter on the above referenced thread of President Obama's official White House Facebook page.

Dear Mr. President,

Hopefully, this makes it to your desk.

I respectfully am going on the record for you to consider these ideas before your upcoming speech on the so called ISIS threat.

I don't think it would hurt, in fact it would be good, to avoid military intervention in the Middle East for the rest of your term. Bring our troops home, close bases. Stop funding rebels over there. That is how ISIS started, when we sent weapons and trainers into Syria, and trained and armed imported rebels, to destabilize Assad. As you know, ISIS has acquired our U.S. weapons. That's our fault. Continuing on this same path is not going to make things better.

We also should end all foreign aid, to everyone. Our country needs the money. We should not be borrowing from China when we are giving money away to other foreign countries. Furthermore, the dollar cannot endure more devaluation as we print money to give foreign aid and to pay back China.

Lastly, We also need to stop covertly and overtly overthrowing foreign leaders. This is why ISIS is thriving in Iraq. Saddam would never have allowed ISIS to advance. We are the reason/root cause recent events got this way in Iraq. We are not going to make things better. It's time to bring our weapons and vehicles home, so no thugs can gain access to it. With what we bring home, we can protect our own borders.

Let's get rid of the Department of Offense (pun intended), and begin to rebuild it back to a Department of Defense. Our interests on our soil should be first and foremost. Whoever says it's okay to go to war against a State player for American interests on someone else's soil, if they have not attacked us first on our soil, doesn't know which way is up. Whoever says it's okay to target what we deem as terrorists by our bombing of/on other peoples soil is also wrong, because the blowback of hitting civilians is far too great. We almost always do it. We, or our actions, create new potential so called terrorists every time we do this, and rarely do we reduce their actual numbers. More people hate us for every bomb we drop from a bomber or drone and kill their loved ones (innocent or not innocent). The CIA knows this. It's time trigger happy Americans get this into their minds too, perhaps we can begin do the right thing. Leading by example, taking care of our own country for a change, would be a great place to start.

I know I am just dreaming, Mr. President. And, to some this might even be blasphemy. However, as George Bernard Shaw was quoted: "All great truths begin as blasphemies."

I would hate it if we continue to be a menace overseas until the dollar collapses, kind of like how the Soviets were an occupying menace in Afghanistan until their currency collapsed. They had to leave, for they could not financially afford to be there. If the financial dominoes were to fall here at home, and the U.S. dollar begins it's slide, we will find ourselves in the same predicament as the USSR faced, unless we take the right actions now. Otherwise, we should be prepared for blowback on our own soil. Everyone knows there are terrorists lurking inside our country, who have crossed the Mexican border into our country. If we don't focus on ways to diffuse those people by ending our bombing campaigns, they will make good on their threats. We shouldn't be in this to save face, against terrorists. They have said, they will do something on our soil if we continue to bomb. The beheader said that the decapitation was (in retaliation) for our bombings. Why do we need to keep bombing? To antagonize the terrorists? The people who claim we have to stand up to the terrorists, by bombing more people are just continuing the cycle aimlessly. Though you were not the one who started it, and I am not blaming all of this on you, but there is a case to be made that possibly pre-emptive strikes like Shock & Awe were acts of terrorism, if you really want to get down to it. We don't exactly have clean hands. Now's your chance to wash our hands for all of us. Bring us home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Unknown Consequences

This is a fragment of a lecture by the late philosopher, writer and prolific speaker, Alan Watts.

Alan Watts - The Story of the Chinese Farmer

Connect direct with the official Alan Watts website at AlanWatts.Com

Hear more from Alan Watts archives:

Friday, July 4, 2014

The best thing since Sade

The best thing since Sade: London Grammar

There is a group I love tons and am very pleased that within a day of posting their videos to MusicTelevison.Com, they shot to #8 on the MusicTelevision.Com Top 10 Chart on the lower right hand side bar of the site! That's a big deal to rise that fast, organically, a day after being posted!  Click here to see the post, hear the music and enjoy the videos.

This very special group is a trio named London Grammar. They deliver music that is genuine, un-hyped, un-manufactured, perfectly crafted and well honed. The songs are simply beautiful with a timeless quality that crosses over comfortably into multiple genres. It's the kind of art that I believe will actually have legs many years into the future. I recommend buying their vinyl record for that purpose, if you have a turntable. The sound of this group on vinyl is stellar and I am sure it will outlast any MP3 collection! However, when buying their vinyl, you'll get all the MP3's upfront before the vinyl arrives in the mail.

The overall sound of the group would not be what it is without just the right blend of organic instruments and electronica that the instrumentalists, Dan Rothman and Dominic 'Dot' Major, bring to the table. But, I especially love how vocalist Hannah Reid fronts the group. She stands in front of the mic and delivers with no pomp & circumstance. She does not flaunt anything except a calm, cool, controlled attitude. She has a unique sound that is all her own. You'll feel like you are listening to serious music with a definite classical inspiration.

For the last month, I've played their songs while getting ready for bed and I am certain it's what has been contributing to more sound sleep. We are supposed to have beautiful thoughts before we sleep. A little London Grammar does the trick. Hannah Reid is the best thing since Sade. - GC

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Forever Inspired by Jaco

Jaco Pastorius was one of the most prolific electric bassists in the history of electric bass. Everything he played was different from that of other players, unique and leading the groove with style. His death in 1987 was a tragic loss for modern music. The first video below is a treat for those who know about Jaco's music, but who have never had a chance to hear Jaco speak. This video below is a unique window into what matters to him musically, as well as other parts of his life. The video also shows, up close, how he developed and carried out his technique that delivered his trademark sound.

Jaco played with a wide variety of artists and groups. A neat performance I recently discovered is from 1979, when Jaco played with Joni Mitchell on her Shadows & Light tour at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. Watch the full concert at this link:  TheQuietStorm.Com/2014/05/shadows-and-light.html

Just below is one of my favorite songs from his self titled 1976 vinyl album.

Jaco Pastorius - Come On, Come Over

Just below is an excellent concert of Jaco performing with Weather Report, live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976

Connect direct with Jaco's official legacy website at JacoPastorius.Com


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Inspired Great Minds, The Value of Mentoring, Why "Making It" is a Death Sentence and The Art of Avoiding Toxic People

As a wise old sage once put it: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

When I was young and working on my very first business ideas, I was fortunate to have several formal and informal mentors who always tried their best to guide me, brainstorm and provide alternative points of view. Fortunately, I grew up in a community where originality, big ideas and entrepreneurship was encouraged. I was and have been fortunate to connect with many inspired great minds throughout my life. As we get older, the world does not always seem as open and friendly as it was when we had the advantage of youth. When we are young, mentorships were like one way transactions. As we get older, we learn mentoring is a two way street. So long as we are able to reciprocate and share knowledge, resources or access, the two way connection comes alive. At the present time, I have two mentors. Each has specialized knowledge that I need, but did not possess or have direct access to until we connected. And, I brainstorm with them on their ideas and make occasional introductions between people who I know are solid. I have always been grateful for those who have shared their time, knowledge and insights. Anyone who wants to grow needs this!

As part of the circle of life and to give back, I have advised, mentored and brainstormed to help advance other people's ideas and goals since the days I helped others win student body elections in school. In the last 10 years, such activity has increased and I routinely spend at least a few hours of time each month privately brainstorming with aspiring and established entrepreneurs of all ages, including many different artists who are shooting towards big ideas. It's one of the most fulfilling things that I have the privilege of doing, as well as one of the greatest learning experiences for myself. The rewards often and unexpectedly come back tenfold.

Mentoring is a two way effort that is about big ideas and change. It's about looking forward, rather than backward, except to remember and apply life's lessons when applicable. I love interacting with those who go after their ideas and know "whatever one can conceive, one can achieve".

I receive many notes and requests through the contact forms on this page and my music websites.  Some ask for advice on how to break in and or "make it" in the music business. I do my best to respond to each note, usually stating I feel unqualified to give advice on how to "make it".

First and foremost for me, I am focused on finding inspired artists or acts who have really honed their craft and are genuine and authentic. Living in the middle of that world is what matters to me. It makes me happy. Making it is not a arbitrary amount of money, a fancy car or material belongings. Success is doing what I love to do, where I love to it, on my own schedule, and only spending time with people I like to be around. I don't like to use the words "Making it", because it sounds like some sort of ending, instead of a never ending journey. "Making it" is a synonym for retirement. I don't wish to retire, ever, for that sounds like a death wish.

When I get a note asking for advice on how to "make it", I've brainstormed with others enough times to know that everyone has a different idea of what it means to "make it". I am not qualified to advise others on how to make use of their freedom and liberty in their pursuit of their own happiness. All I can do is share some ideas and occasionally offer unique ways of approaching problems or targeted goals for the journey, after spending a great deal of time listening and getting a clear overview of the goals.

If we are talking about how to "make it" in music, any sort of success is a very elusive concept. Sadly, the cream does not always rise to the top, when all too often the lowest common denominator does. It's survival of the most entrepreneurial, not necessarily the most musically talented. It's a sad fact. What does make it so darned interesting though, is that there are no rules. What is the solution to overcoming the elusiveness of success? Doing what we really love to do is probably most important, because it brings happiness even when money is tight and the going is tough.

I am a firm believer in the idea that if we do what we love to do in life, for work, play and just about everything, money is much more likely to follow. Actions and inventions that come from love are powerful things. Achieving happiness in this way must be at least half of success, if not more.

I like to endorse or promote the idea that artists focus on being original and preserving that originality. If you are hearing from certain people that your original sound sucks or isn't hip enough or isn't following the right trends or that your business idea is lame or that you are crazy, it might actually mean you are onto something good.  Don't give up until you've searched more deeply for your niche market, because there probably is a niche market for just about everything out there. Don't let the killjoys and armchair quarterbacks get you down. Keep on truckin'.

Do your own thing and don't be afraid to be a contrarian. Don't float with trends, lead them. Do what you love, first and foremost.  Play your way, not someone else's way.

As soon as possible, lose all ego and prepare to relinquish some control, but only to the right people. Hire people who are better, more organized, more articulate and smarter than you to run the business side things. This is so cliché, but artists and managers should read Don Passman's book titled All You Need to Know About The Music Business. Especially read the part on building a team. Treat those who you hire as if they are gold, because they are.

Last month on the Stanford University Graduate School of Business' website, which is on ongoing must read for those who want to succeed in any business, an interview of entrepreneur John Crean highlights many important hiring and team building ideas, such as when he said: "Every time you hire friends or relatives, you create instability in your company." The full article has sound ideas for those building a team:

Don't be like people who you, yourself, would want to avoid. Follow the Golden Rule: Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you.  I say this because artists and those on the artist's team should avoid talking poorly about any other artists, no matter who they are.  It's a sign of insecurity.  Constructive criticism is good, but it does not mean that you need to be the one who gives it when not asked.  Even if you are asked, avoid it.  The bigger point is, don't hire people who talk negatively about others, because they will get you in trouble and you won't even know why until it is too late.

When it comes to hiring your team, or partnering with those who you will represent you, truly constructive criticism from them is good because they work for you or are acting as your partners.  But, learn how to separate those who repeatedly tell you, give cues or act as if you can't do it, or that you won't not reach you goal. Avoid those people like the plague. Simply don't spend time with those people. Unless you are running for a political office and need to practice the fine art of debate, don't even bother arguing or attempting to convince them otherwise. If you associate with these people, they will dilute you and get their way. The solution is to quietly and humbly forgive such people in your mind and move on.   If you have accidently hired them and found out about or picked up on their negativity after the fact, fire them immediately.  Just like John Creen said in the Stanford article: "Don’t ignore (hiring) problems. Don’t assume it will get better. It usually gets worse".

One of the most important things to achieve and maintain success can is be highly selective about who we spend time with and/or work with on any level from entry level to executive level and every contractor or service provider. It's a choice. Try not to make those you are avoiding or firing feel rejected. There is no reason to burn bridges when you don't have to. Not stirring up drama when attempting to avoid toxic people is a true art worth honing. Just because someone is unkind or has not worked out for you, it is no reason to be unkind in return as you are letting them go.  Wish them good luck with a smile.  Everyone will feel better and you never know, something good can always come from such acquaintanceships in the end.  Everyone changes, people can grow. I like that Maya Angelou quote: "People will forget what you said ... But people will never forget how you made them feel."

Avoid people who pick fights or are overly defensive and sensitive to you speaking your mind.  Hide from those who talk non stop about yesterday's drama. Run from those who have a penchant for gossiping. Listen to and follow your own inner voice and use it to avoid toxic people and situations with grace.

At the same time, be wary of butt kissers and yes people and don't be one yourself. The smartest of the powerful people like inspired ideas, not butt kissers. Smart people you should want to deal with always know the difference.

Reciprocate and stick with people who are prompt, timely in their responses to your inquiries, show up on time and who are constructive with their criticism with a declared interest in seeing you reach your goal rather than tearing you down.

Artists must think of themselves as entrepreneurs in this age of the Indie DIY (Do It Yourself) artist revolution. The Forbes magazine article link below drives home the idea to "Act. Learn. Build. Repeat". Sounds like good advice - GC

Subscribe to Forbes Magazine

Friday, March 21, 2014

Quote of the Century (For artists of substance)

"The truth is, if you're afraid to be hated, your art is going to be worthless."

This quote above is from music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz who publishes the The Lefsetz Letter. The quote was pulled from his March 18, 2014 post titled Being Liked.

I get several letters a week from emerging bands, artists and songwriters, or from their managers, fans or their moms. Usually it's to send me links to their music and often asking me for advice and/or critiques.

I not in the business of giving music critiques. I am not a critic. If I don't have anything good to say, I try not to say it. If the music has something I think is special, I might post it on one of my websites.

Instead of me giving advice, I always like to write back and recommend reading The Lefsetz Letter and The Wall Street Journal religiously, as well as reading and knowing Don Passman's book inside and out.  Usually, most any music related questions have already been addressed somewhere in Bob Lefsetz' newsletter archive and/or in Don Passman's book.  The quickest and easiest thing to do for any inquiring mind is to go to Lefsetz.Com, click on the Archive and type keywords of any questions in the search field.

For those trying to make sense of the music industry, the treasure trove of information buried in Lefsetz' archives is well worth researching. His daily stream is often more exciting, as a wide range of industry heavyweights, legendary artists and various tech geeks chime in on everything Bob Lefsetz writes about, sometimes calling bullshit and starting public arguments. I am talking about all of the relevant stuff. Bob sees it like it is, from his unique perch, and reports on it with clarity. He flips conventional wisdom onto it's ear, so you hear things from another perspective that will sometimes make you mad that it took you so long to finally understand it that way. GC

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Power of a Smile

This afternoon, I visited the Forbes Magazine website and saw yet another great quote by the late Malcolm Forbes Sr. that read:
Forbes Thought Of The Day
“ One of the ceaseless wonders of the world: The power of a smile. ”
— Malcolm Forbes
Greg Chamberlain (Left) and Malcolm Forbes (right)
Greg Chamberlain and Malcolm Forbes Sr.

When I was in my early twenties and struggling to make a success of an idea I had to launch a print magazine, I had privilege of getting to know Malcolm Forbes Sr.

The magazine was a good early failure of mine that hurt. I got my butt kicked at the proverbial School of Hard Knocks.  Forbes offered insights and optimism during what seemed like adversity. Looking back, I was very fortunate to intercept from him vital information and libertarian viewpoints that continue to influence me to this day. It influenced the way I view the world of unlimited possibilities, the way view and stand up for liberty and the way I pursue & enjoy the fruits of freedom and capitalism.

I still view the world with optimism, but it is clearly against a backdrop where the powers that be, our supposed leaders, seem hellbent on diminishing liberty, freedom and real capitalism. I am not brainwashed by their jingoistic rhetoric that tries to convince us all that they are our saviors and that they are the supreme policemen of the world on behalf of all Americans.

What we seem to be getting these days, from these so called leaders, is a big dose of hypocrisy and totalitarian style activities. It is clear that we now live in a overzealous police state, a growing unsustainable nanny state, and a business environment where insider deals such as "too big to fail" allow politicians and the secretive Federal Reserve to bail out those who should be bankrupt, corrupting what should be free market competition. Crony capitalism, teetering on all out fascism, now reigns! This plague is undermining the entire fabric of our country. This is something we must all vigorously resist. However, we cannot and should not stop smiling during the process of resisting these powers that be. The powers that be hate happy smiling resistors hellbent on stymying their repressive ways.