Monday September 10
Juggling 100 details today, and dropping a few balls along the way. I am
no Michael Moschen,
but I generally do pretty well with multi-tasking.
* * *
Overall, an excellent day.
Following a slew of meetings and greetings, an
inspiring and energizing SGC rehearsal at HQ, our first with the full
septet. How exciting to have eleven guitarists (including the Practice
Circle) together in an aesthetically and acoustically pleasing space dedicated
to our work.
We began by taking on an old familiar piece of
impossible repertoire from Curt: Flying Home. Wonderful to hear
this piece flying again with seven guitars. Then, we revisited a new SB
'novelty' piece called RV. Curt pulled out his slide and let her
rip, and Bob is looking at some expanded orchestration for the lead
voices. Wonder if Bob, Derek, Jax, Dean, or Chris also play
Could add some useful lightness and
contrast to our current repertoire.
* * *
Tuesday September 11
Received many shocking phone calls early in the morning today. Finally
just heard from my sister, formerly an AA flight attendant in
Lord, have mercy.
* * *
Wednesday September 12
Others speaking well where I feel mute:
Bill Rieflin Diary
WED 12 SEP 2001
Awoke from an airplane dream, one of only a few reoccurring dream types. The story line is always the same, but with varying details. This time while flying, we encountered some sort of trouble, forcing an unscheduled landing in an unintended destination. In ‘real’ life, I generally dislike flying, and dying in a plane crash is my worst imagined way to die. I think about it each time I fly.
This morning I realized that I keep a Swiss army knife - with a 2 1/2 inch blade - in my ditty bag. The bag always travels in my suitcase, more often than not as carry-on baggage when I fly. My bag is always x-rayed and I have never been asked about it. I travel with a potentially deadly weapon.
One of FS’s students called to cancel for today. “I don’t much feel like talking about art,” she said. Given the circumstances, I understand what she meant, but still it made me wonder. This points toward something I’ve been thinking about off and on since yesterday: namely, the role of and our attitude toward ‘art’ - painting, music, literature, whatever - in our lives. More particularly, the role of art in the lives of those under siege, under conditions of war. Profound events like those of yesterday refocuses us; our priorities get reshuffled. Suddenly, things of usual importance to us can become absurd. For instance, my getting a haircut yesterday seemed trivial and unimportant, at best.
Engaging in mere entertainment can now seem a shameful folly reserved only for the callus and emotionally shallow.
(my emphasis - SB)
What does art mean to us now? In my case, specifically, what about music? For something normally so important to so many people, has its place and meaning in our lives also been affected by the reshuffle? Is it now one of those incidental niceties we can live without or only indulge in guiltily?
I think part of the answer lies in how we answer the following: Music for___. For what? Relief? Engagement? Forgetting? Reminding? Ego gratification? Communication? Entertainment? Transformation? Commerce? Filling the space? Enrichment? Upliftment? Oppression? Hypnosis? The birth of the Beautiful? Ears? Hearts? Bodies?
As is fitting a pluralistic society, there are many different meaning and uses of music and of art in general, both individually and as a culture. But if music is as powerful as we claim it is, if it does bring transformative energy into our lives, then why should it only assume importance in times of leisure?
By the way, I went to the University Book Store today to look for a book on this subject. No such book exists - to the knowledge of the buyer there who should know. Funnily, he was wondering similar things.
* * *
September 11, 2001
3:35 p.m. – On the train headed home – my handwritten notes from this day.
5:15 a.m. – Rise and personal grooming
5:55 – A quick drive to the train station to catch the 6:08. I purchased my train tickets last evening to save time this morning.
6:08 – Train arrives on time
7:10 – Arrive at Newark and change to the PATH train for a trip to the World Trade Center.
7:30 – Made a quick stop at the bottom of the WTC to buy a couple of Lottery tickets for Joanne.
7:35 – Stop in Trinity Church at the top of Wall Street for meditation before beginning today’s negotiations.
7:55 – To Investor meeting one half block away, next to the New York Stock Exchange. Our original plan today was to have breakfast at the NYSE. However, our host developed a dental problem last evening and would be late this morning. So rolls and coffee are arranged in the conference room on the 34th floor.
8:15 – Meeting and negotiations commence.
8:50 – My back is to the window and I hear, no more accurately, I feel an explosion. I’ve heard plenty of explosions before in NYC and it has always been a construction project of some type. This explosion was different.
One of the guys in the room who is facing the windows says something like “Oh my God, the WTC has just exploded”. I look out the window and am able to see flames, smoke and thousands of pages of paper and other debris floating through the air. The scene is unbelievable. Two of the guys have girlfriends in the WTC. Which building? Which floor?
The explosion is about 1000 feet away from us.
We rush to another part of the office and turn on the TV’s. A plane crashed into the WTC. A plane? How could this be? What a terrible mistake?
A few of us return to the conference room because the view of the catastrophe is better.
8:58 – I call Joanne and leave her a message at work - an explosion at the WTC, I’m all right and will call you later.
I’m sitting again looking at the building, talking to the other guys, what could have happened?
9:10 I hear a jet engine flying right over our building. My first thought was that it is a jet police or rescue helicopter flying by to assist. But then I hear another explosion and I feel the impact, the shock wave. My partner bursts into tears and yells, “My god, another plane just flew into the World Trade Center.”
The moment of impact and the realization that these acts are deliberate fills me with an emotion that I have never experienced before. I’m in danger, we’re in danger, this can’t be happening, this is happening, I need to leave, we need to leave, what’s next? How could there be more than this? This moment cannot be described but the sound of the jet engines at full throttle and the shock wave at impact will stay with me for the rest of my life.
We now realize that this is terrorism and we better get out of the building. We are right next to the NYSE and this is a definite target.
My partner and I decide to walk down the 34 flights even though the elevators are working. We make it to the street in about 12 minutes; there were no other people in the exit stairway. Out on the street, debris in the air all around us, smoke, fumes, people running and sirens.
I realize that Carolyn is on the 54th floor of the Chrysler Building uptown, I have to call her. My cell is dead. I walk across the street and go into a deli and ask the owner if I could use his phone. Yes, of course and he dials it for me. It is now about 9:30 and I’m able to reach Carolyn’s voice mail. I’m now frantic, my voice is breaking, crying, a very loud announcement is being made about staying in the building; “Carolyn, this is dad, I’m all right. The WTC has been hit by two jet planes, get out of your building right away, just get out now, please just get out now.”
We stay for a few minutes in the deli, talking to a few people.
As a New Yorker, I know that everything will be closed down, all subways, trains, ferries and streets. I tell my partner that we have to get out of downtown and walk up to 34th street – Penn Station. We begin our walk.
As we pass by Trinity Church, I pick up a piece of paper that blew down from some office – the paper is charred on all sides. Paper is everywhere – files that were once important.
Tens of thousands of people in the streets all walking north. We stop occasionally to look at an unbelievable site – seeing the two towers burning. We keep moving north.
We’re walking up Broadway, emergency vehicles everywhere, sirens, police, firefighters and civilians directing traffic. The Chrysler Building is directly in front of us about 50 blocks ahead. I see it gleaming in the sunlight, I see the floor Carolyn is on, my imagination pictures another aircraft flying into the building – I burst into tears several times. Can barely control my grief, anguish, terror, yes terrorism.
We are starved for news. It’s only 9:50 and I feel like it should be much later. We hear a radio, we stop at a car and stand there and listen to news broadcasts. 100 people listening to the broadcast, we’re in perfect silence.
We continue our walk.
I look back and see the smoke surrounding the Woolworth Building – this looks like London during the Blitz.
We pass a small store and I spot a television, my partner and I go in. It’s a small B&W TV; we ‘re with about 15 other people. The owner asks us if we need to use the phone. We stay for a few minutes to get as much news as possible.
We continue our walk.
10:15 or so, we’re at 14th and Union Square moving west towards 6th Avenue. I look downtown and the WTC is all smoke with thousands of people walking north towards us. I walk a bit west and hear a roar from the crowd behind me. I rush back and one of the towers is gone, just gone – it collapsed, how could this be?
We continue our walk.
We hear news from others – what’s real? We hear about hijackings; that’s impossible. Eight planes in the air, or is it four? The complexity of doing this is incredible.
Both towers are gone.
I think about a company I used to work for on the top fifteen floors of the North Tower. I’m sure, at this time; I’ve lost 200 colleagues that I used to work with. This company has 1100 employees in the building, the building that is now gone. Two of my closest friends are lost – Howard and Alan. I think about Alan and how he always attended the
Soundscapes shows in the Winter Garden. Howard and his wife Gran used to go to the live
Prairie Home Companion radio shows with Joanne and me during Thanksgiving week each year.
We continue our walk.
I think about Carolyn. The Chrysler Building is still shining in the sky. She must be out by now; they must have evacuated the building.
As we move further uptown, the city is a bit more like it always is. We’re away form the debris, less sirens here but they continue.
At 23rd Street, we turn west, we should avoid going near the Empire State Building, another target. We walk west and turn north with our own thoughts.
Penn Station – Everything is closed. We stop at a sports bar to watch nine TV’s. We get a pretty good place to stand. Everyone is ready and willing to talk to each other. I’m frustrated because it’s local news on eight of the nine sets. I want national coverage and I want it now and I want it loud. I want CNN. I want Bush up there on the screen. I need assurance. No, I need comfort.
12:05 – Cell phones are beginning to come back – I get a wonderful message – Carolyn is calling from Brooklyn, she got a taxi to the Manhattan Bridge and walked over to Brooklyn with a friend. Her building was evacuated at 9:05 a.m. More tears, I love her so. I save this message. I’m able to reach Joanne at home; her office in New Jersey sent everyone home. More anguish. Am I safe yet? I just don’t know. Where is the next attack coming from?
We have lunch and quietly continue to watch nine TV’s.
1:30 Penn Station is gradually opening and we stand outside with a crowd of thousands. Military jets are now circling Manhattan.
2:30 – We make our way into Penn Station and my train is being announced. Our train is the first to leave Penn Station since early this morning. On the train it’s Standing Room Only. As we make it across the Hudson River into New Jersey, I look back at the city – Fires still raging, How many deaths? How many emergency fire and police have been killed? How many injuries?
I realize that the twin towers had a personality. I watched them being built in the early 70’s when I was a young guy just staring out on a career. This is my arena and the arena is badly wounded.
Today, I just want to be home.
* * *
September 12, 2001
Last night I stayed up as long as I could. I slept with a light on. I’m afraid of the sounds of the dark – the jet engines and explosions. I see these sounds. I feel the bed sheets on my body.
I cry every 15 minutes or so – deep sobbing crying. I must be in some sort of shock. I cannot separate myself from this shock, I cannot observe it, it is me.
My girls call me a few times every day.
Many, many messages of good wishes and prayers from all over the world today. I forgot to mention my conversations with Bill Forth yesterday. Very comforting.
Tried to exercise this morning – no interest. I went to WH today and found it very difficult to do any real work. Photocopying for future gigs.
Joanne leaves work early; we have lunch together followed by coffee, a visit to church, a cry, a haircut, I cry twice and home.
Learning more about former co-workers who are now gone. Email exchange with one of them just last week. A telephone call with Howard just last Friday.
And learning more about former co-workers who are OK.
Joanne and I cancelled our trip to Italy set for next week. I think we’ll rent a nice van and drive around this country for a couple of weeks. I need to get comfort from the people. I need to feel safe.
Calls with closest of friends.
* * *
* * *
Thursday September 13
Many things becoming clearer. Not necessarily easier, but certainly
* * *
SBRS rehearsal at Seattle Circle HQ this evening. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...
such EXCELLENT acoustics, particularly for singing. Playing in a
reverberant room compared to a dampened sound-absorbing carpet-hole is like
playing a an expensive vintage guitar compared to a $100 mass
produced middle-school knock-off. There is no comparison. One
makes you never wish to touch your instrument or practice. The other is a
source of fuel and inspiration. This subtle issue (of acoustics) makes all
the difference. Can I hear myself play in a way that is natural and
pleasing? If the answer is yes, then chances are that I may spend more
time practicing, working, and playing.
A secondary factor: lighting.
Very important. TravisH took steps to improve the lighting in the HQ
'office.' Well done.
Another new SBRS cover anthem in the works;
another potential head-turning, foot-tapping hit. We do know how to pick 'em.
SGC rehearsal at Bob and Jaxie's following SBRS. A fun evening of
good work on Flying Home and an expanded Wilson arrangement of RV
c/o Bob. Wow - this is gonna be a fun one.
* * *
Friday September 14
Decisions made on two important fronts. Now, execution.
* * *
Received a pick sample in the mail this week from warm and generous
plectrum expert, Guy
DeVillez. Thanks Guy - I'll check it out this weekend. This is a
triangular pick (Herdim "small" size) and it looks like tortoise
shell, but is probably plastic.
* * *
11:57pm Home after a delicious and health-inducing Pho dinner on Capitol Hill
with a friend.
Then, realizing that the song was originally in Bbm, but we are working
on it in Bm. Can I really do Bono up a half step? Answer: TBD.
* * *
"In life, sports is in the toy department. We can't forget that. Those firemen and policemen went in to save those people. They're dead. They're not coming home. It's tough to go play. You have to have some energy to play. We're not
robots. Maybe we're looked at as something different, but we're not.” Asked his reaction to those who thought the games should have been played to offer Americans a diversion: "If they want to get some diversion, you know what the country should do? Go to church, go pray. Pray for those that are dead."
– Herman Edwards, NY Jets coach (robots link source, unknown…)
BTW, do watch the robots
video. This is not a diversion. It is one of the most amazing and
effective pieces of web-based musical animation I have ever seen.
And it is extremely and poetically subversive. Wow.
* * *
Saturday September 15
7:05am. Special guitar calisthenics and sitting this morning at HQ in 55
minutes. Slept, but not much rest last night.
* * *
Today I caught myself saying to myself something like, "If only we could go back to early Tuesday morning, and somehow those planes didn't fly into those buildings..." This is the kind of game that five-year-olds like to play. As grownups, we know better than to think you can go back and change the past. So I came home, had dinner, put Isabel to bed, worked on my arrangement ideas for RV a bit more, practiced. The usual.
Oh, to be five again.
* * *
Played the 28 bars this morning with ten guitarists for 45 minutes.
Then Hope with an international team at a distance. Lord have
* * *
Coffee break with DerekD and the Travii. Four gear heads around one table:
Then, morning SBRS rehearsal at HQ. This place keeps getting better and
better. If I were into attracting more new people with esoteric leanings,
I might say something stoopid like "our energy seems to be accumulating in
the space," however, it's much simpler than that: we are spending time
there and working to improve the space with each visit.
More work on the new Anthem today. How long must we sing this song?
* * *
SBRS played at Black Lab this evening as part of the first Seattle
Circle Open Stage project organized by TravisH, and executed with the
assistance of Walter Harley on sound.
With one small
exception (a complete no-show and no-communication from one of the scheduled
performers) this event was a success, both musically and
TravisH was a funny and entertaining MC setting
just the right tone for for Scott Adams, Andri Koslov, Travis
Metcalf, and the Steve Ball Roadshow. Each of the performers
presented a confident, unique, essential, and compelling glimpse of their recent
work with the art and craft of performance.
was so right in his recent diary entry: Scott Adam's songwriting,
singing, and performance skills have taken a major leap upward since I last saw
him play. I hope to see a full Scott Adams show soon and hope his
upcoming shows make it into the regular Seattle
Circle Performance listings.
And what can be said of Andrei Koslov's
masterfully innocent performance of two JS Bach cello suites? What
an inspiring, humane, and energizing performance. Such a stark contrast to the
sounds and images spewing out of the television this past week. Rumor is that
this was Andrei's first public performance.
Ever. Nice job,
Metcalf also took a bull by the horns and effortlessly wrestled two songs
(renditions of Bill Rieflin/Chris Connelly doing John Cale and Annie
Lennox doing Neil Young) gently to the ground. Well done.
also presented three new covers we have been working on: South Central
Station (REM), Running Up that Hill (Kate Bush) and a stale, old,
unimportant little throw-away ditty by the Who. All around: both
well-presented, and well-received.
Next Saturday night, SBRS
will be back at Black Lab with a full two-hour show with some additional
Okay, come on?
How can anyone really go wrong with Baba
This just in:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Travis Hartnett"
To: "Scott Adams" "Andrei Kozlov" "Travis Metcalf" "SB"
"Walter Harley" "Black Lab Gallery"
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2001 8:08 AM
Subject: A big Thank You to everyone...
...for your efforts last night. It was wonderful to have something happen this week that was beautiful.
Many heroes this evening. Top two spots on the list: TravisH and WalterH.
* * *
Sunday September 16
Tomorrow: my world the world changes. I begin (again) across the
water, and the stock markets reopen in New York. Both of these events will have
a significant impact on my personal as well as our collective financial lives.
Today: homework, preparation, and reflection before the spare minutes of
my life become scarce again.
* * *
Bright idea of the day: thinking of looking into a bus-oriented commute across
the water: Hmmmm,... could I find a way to practice on a bus?
* * *
Cleaning up loose ends before life changes tomorrow.
* * *
Monday September 17
Remember junior high school? Wouldn't it be great to go back? Okay,
Going back was actually much much better than I had
anticipated. Good people. Very good people. Real problems to solve,
and apparent consensus and resources to support the mission.
so much to do.
Still have a few loose ends to clean up, as well, from the past
few months of consulting.
* * *
SGC at HQ: I missed Flying Home
but caught some maintenance work on Cultivating the Beat, Birds of
Fire, and Vulcanization. We also continued to refine the
arrangement details of Recreational Vehicle with Bob continuing to fine
tune his fantastic (Earth, Wilson, and Fire? Tower of Wilson? P-Wilsonadelic
Allstars?) "horn" (horny?) parts.
This piece of music,
in fact, is quite horny.
* * *
Tuesday September 18
6:27am. Can't sleep. Keep wondering what is going on in NYC this
* * *
I remember this feeling well: growing exhaustion
in the face of many commitments, meetings, logistics, and situations where I
must be alert and "on." Need to embrace a cliché: how to work
smarter, not harder.
Spare minutes become important so that 1,000 details do not fall through cracks
and become one or 1,000 regrets.
* * *
SBRS rehearsal at SCHQ (That is: Steve Ball Roadshow rehearsal at
Seattle Circle Headquarters, for those new to these acronyms.) A run
through at tightening in preparation upcoming shows. Also, a reworking of
an SBRS classic with a new-ish twist. Good to take out the garbage.
Also, working up another classic, and bringing a couple of the new SB songs to
life. Good, solid work this evening.
* * *
9:15pm I remember this feeling too well: very heavy eyes. My
foreground mind juggles three long mental list of a) problems to solve, b) tasks
to complete, and c) people to contact.
Not every problem or task is going to be completed this evening. Must
* * *
Wednesday September 19
6:03am. Up early. My brain just kicked into gear, way ahead of my
body. Shower, and then on the case with 20 small tasks before my first
morning meeting, which conflicts heavily with another previously scheduled early
Word of the day: Ug.
* * *
Thursday September 20
SBRS rehearsal after a long-ish intense day at the borg. More preparation
for upcoming shows, and good solid work on the new stuff. An experiment with a
Todd song did not work. Need to rethink this one.
* * *
SGC rehearsal had some wonderful (post-ironic-America) moments including dueling
slides by the evil twins (Curt and Dean) and some useful experiments in
apparently-excessive-but-in-reality-just-right dynamics by the full septet.
* * *
Too brain dead to report on much more than this. Coming down with
something? Need a good nights sleep.
* * *
Friday September 21
Hit with a sore throat. I can tell I'm going down for a few days.
* * *
Saturday September 22
Out of commission.
* * *
Sunday September 23
* * *