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Friday, May 2, 2014

02 MAY 14

A Tale Of Two Drum Sets . . .

Back when I first wanted to begin drumming again,
I had a problem . . . I no longer knew what was
quality in the drum world. Back when I'd begun
playing it was a given that the ONLY drums to play
were Ludwig, Gretsch, Slingerland, Rogers.
The ONLY cymbals to use were Zildjian.
All else was considered to be crap.
(With the exception of the British-made Premiers.)
(This would be 1960.)
Today, there is a plethora of fine drum companies
crafting fine instruments. The old stalwarts have,
mostly, fallen into disrepute. It seems that they
have all been sold off and their names used to
market "beginner-level" drums.
(Again, with an exception, Gretsch.)
Any way . . .
I was looking to buy a quality set.
I'd found a Rogers Drum group on the web.
Following their advice, I purchased the
set depicted in Picture #1. 
It was offered at a reasonable price on e-Bay.
When it arrived, I was dismayed to realize
that the wrap had been badly applied, was a Ludwig
style and would have to be changed.
Put them aside and went shopping again.
Found a black-wrapped Rogers Holiday set that I could
afford. Bought them. The black are fine drums . . . but
had always wanted a WMP set. Finally sent my original
purchase to a drum restoration company (Precision Drum)
and had them refurbished. While all this was going on,
my one granddaughter, Grace, had been learning to play,
was a member of her school band and her 13th birthday
was approaching. When the refurbished drums came back,
I made the decision to give them to her as a birthday
present. That's what is shown in Picture #2.
She spent two days with me, putting the pieces back together.

Now, as for Grandad . . .

I've used the black-wrapped Holiday set for several years now.
They are great drums. Used to mate them up with a COB Rogers
Powertone snare. Today I play with a Western Swing band,
"Western Roundup." We have a standing gig at a local restaurant,
in a small room. I play, what I call, an abbreviated set.
(That would be Picture #3) It's the black Holiday 20" bass
drum, paired with a cut-down Rogers Pageant wooden parade
snare. I play with brushes and mallets. Keeps the volume down.

Western Roundup


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

05 MAR 14

Being a fan . . .

I'm a fan of singer/songwriter Janis Ian.
I think her album, "Between The Lines" is sublime.
On her facebook page I found a posted photo from
about that time period. Of course, I Photoshopped it.


Sunday, February 16, 2014


001.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/11/09-nov-13.html

D01.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/08-apr-13.html

V01.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/08/14-aug-11-2.html

V02.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/07/21-apr-11.html

V03.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/12/13-dec-11.html

V04.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/01/16-jan-13.html

V05.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/01/19-jan-13_19.html

V06.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/03-apr-13.html

V07.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/10/22-oct-11.html

V08.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/03-apr-13.html

V09.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/05/lest-we-forget.html

V10.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/05-apr-13.html

V11.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/01/20-jan-13-2.html

V12.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/03/29-mar-12.html

V13.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2014/02/13-feb-14.html

J01.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/01/28-jan-13.html

J02.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/10/28-oct-11.html

B01.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/16-apr-13-2.html

B02.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/07/25-jul-11.html

M01.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/07/15-sep-09.html

M02.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/04-apr-13_4.html

M03.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/01/13-jan-12.html

M04.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/05/22-may-12.html

M05.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/07/23-jul-11.html

M06.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/12/30-dec-11.html

M07.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/03/18-mar-12.html

M08.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/04/21-apr-12.html

M09.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/06/29-jun-12.html

M10.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/06/24-jun-13.html

M11.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/08/20-aug-11.html

M12.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/08/23-aug-12.html

M13.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2012/09/07-sep-12.html

N01.) http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2013/04/16-apr-13.html


Thursday, February 13, 2014

13 FEB 14

ASA War Story -
8th Radio Research Field Station,
Phu Bai, Thua Thien Province, Vietnam (Republic of)
Late summer:
Had been there a short while . . . perhaps 2 months. Was beginning to feel confined. We weren't allowed off the combat base. A ration convoy was being put together. I volunteered . . . wanted off post, badly. We had to be fully armed, but nobody said with what. I decided to forego taking the -14 and borrowed a .45 pistol from a machine-gunner friend. (Note: I had no idea how to operate said pistol. How fucking stupid was I??) We rolled out the main gate early one morning and turned north, towards the city of Hue. After traveling for about 30 minutes the truck I was riding in began back-firing and jerking and then stopped. The convoy kept going, per SOP, and we three found ourselves stuck on Highway 1, in an area away from any villages or U.S. forces. Me, armed with a pistol that I'd never even held before and two other nervous ASA'ers armed with their M-14s and 80 rounds each. After an eternity of time, along came the maintenance trail. They fiddled with our engine and after a time we were rolling again. We wended our way through paddys, villages and farm country until we reached the shore of a large body of brackish water. On the shore was a small village and our trucks were all parked there, on the beach. Out on the water, about a quarter mile,  was a US Navy self-propelled reefer barge. A "Mike Boat" (landing craft) was ferrying the trucks, one at a time, out to the barge, where they were loaded then returned to shore.

Since my truck was now last in line, I had a goodly bit of time to explore. I wandered through the village, taking in all the strangeness and tranquility and poverty. A little girl caught my eye. My guess is that she was about 10 - 12 years old. She waved me over, then offered me a slice of watermelon. It was a brutal hot day. I accepted. I was struck near dumb. Here was this child who had nothing, offering me something . . . for nothing . . . out of compassion. The melon went down smooth. Tried to talk with her but she spoke no English and I was mono-linguistic. I was then called over and ordered to go out with the next Mike Boat to facilitate the transfer of foodstuff. It was getting late. Once aboard the barge we labored long and hard, shifting crates of vegetables (To include a deck cargo of heat-rotted potatoes that the navy insisted we take because they were ours and "sorry, there was no room in the cooler for them, and we know we're three weeks overdue but regs are regs . . . and there's a fuckin' war going on!") The hardest part was moving the frozen meats up from out of the freezer compartment. I stood on a crate and passed each piece up, through the open hatch, to someone there, waiting for it. This went on for about three-quarters of an hour. It would have been a good workout for a weight lifter in a gym. I was whipped afterwards. Went up on deck and lit a cigarette. Local kids, in round caracle boats, had swarmed the barge and were yelling (begging) to the GIs on board. Somebody had opened a crate of oranges and had begun tossing them into the water to watch the kids fight over the fruit. Some of the fights were downright vicious. Guys were taking bets on which kid would get to the orange first. I found this to be repugnant behavior on the part of well-fed Americans.

Soon, the transfer of foodstuff was complete. We formed convoy on the beach and prepared to drive off. I was, once again, in the back of a truck. This one happened to have a couple crates of oranges on board. As we passed through the village, I spied the little girl who'd offered me the melon slice. I waved at her, then heaved a crate of oranges out towards her and yelled "Thanks." She waved back . . . that's the last I saw of her.

I've remembered that little girl through the intervening years. Wondered if she survived, grew up, got married, raised a family.
I dearly hope so . . . hope her life was peaceful and uncomplicated.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

29 JAN 14

Random thoughts:
Having a pet while growing up leads to fond memories that can be revisited as we age. My family kept a dog and two cats (Plus, for a short time, two parakeets). Our house sported an enclosed front porch which connected to the living room via a door with multiple glass panes. (15, I think, in rows of three.) Someone accidentally kicked out the bottom left pane. My dad was slow to replace it. Over time, all three pets began using the, now-empty, space as a portal to the front porch. This gave our dog, Copper, access to the mail slot and allowed him to vent his distrust for the mailman and protect us from whatever it was that was being pushed through that little hole in the front door. Lost a bunch of government-issue refund checks to the dog's vigilence. (Do Not Fold, Spindle Or Mutilate) The front door, itself, was one large pane of glass and the cats used to enjoy sitting there and watching the outside world pass by . . . especially in winter.

Anyway, all three became used to passing through that open space on the door. Finally, my dad replaced the glass pane. (Am thinking it was over a year after it was broken.) On a day . . . both cats were feeling restless. They began wrestling and racing through the house. The older cat, a Siamese named Kismit, charged straight for the front porch . . . and ran, BANG!, right into the new glass pane. She sat, stunned, shaking her head. She, then, found a place on an easy chair and settled down to ponder life for awhile. I laughed. Kismit had always been a clown cat and was forever entertaining to live with. I told my dad what I'd seen. He immediately thought of the dog . . . said that a 25 pound dog was a whole lot different than a 7 pound cat. Told me to get a bar of soap and to mark up the new pane of glass so that Copper could see that it was no longer a passageway. Took about four weeks before they all stopped trying to pass through that space onto the front porch.

There are other memories . . .
one, in particular, of the younger cat, Teddy Bear, and a 34 pound
Thanksgiving turkey that was left, overnight, on the cold front porch
because there was no room in the fridge for it.
Stories for another day.

                                          The two cat culprits, Teddy Bear and Kismit

My mother and I, with our dog, Copper, and the two ill-fated parakeets


Friday, November 22, 2013

22 NOV 13

One day in Dallas . . .

Got to remembering today.

I'm 67 years old.
Now nearer to the end than to the beginning of all things "Me."
Been thinking about politics and presidents.

Had these thoughts on things presidential:

The first president I can remember is Eisenhower.
I liked him because he reminded me of my grandfather.
I was 10.

Then came Kennedy . . . 
He became a sorta teen-idol figure.
I loved his look and sense of style.
Plus, he drove PT Boats in the war.

Lyndon Johnson . . .
I alternately hated or pitied him.
Hated his micro-management of the war in Vietnam.
Pitied his obvious pain at the American troop losses
that ensued.

Nixon . . .
Couldn't get a read on him.
He wasn't called, "Tricky Dick" for naught.
(Although I did write a college paper in 1974, defending
him, for a Political Science class I took via USAFI.)

Gerald Ford . . .
A caretaker ...
a nice guy who was just "there."

Carter . . . 
An embarrassment to all of us ex-patriots living in Berlin.
Thought his handling of the Iranian Hostage Crisis abysmal.

Ronald Reagan . . . 
Loved how he rebuilt the military to counter Soviet threats.
(But then, I'm a bit biased on the subject.)
Don't really know how his "Trickle Down" theory of economics
worked ... whether it did what he claimed or not. All I know
is that the country seemed to thrive, economically.

George the First . . .
A solid bureaucrat.
Well versed in the world of international derring do.
Plus, he was another WWII vet, one who'd flown combat
missions and had once been shot down.

Clinton . . .
A flim-flam man who made good.
The first president of my own generation
and he managed to avoid military service
by staying in college. (At least he was smart.)

George the Second . . .
A good man, trying hard
but not always getting it right.
Another one who avoided service in Vietnam
but at least he flew jets for the Air Guard.
(And how many thousands of my fellow citizens
joined the Guard for the exact same reason?)

Barack Obama . . .
An empty suit, not near as smart as
he thinks himself to be.
Still ... duly elected ... twice!

As for 2016 ...
dunno for sure.
It could very well be Clinton v Christie.

All I know for sure is that after 67 of my years,
The Republic still stands.

Being career military ... both in and out of uniform,
I learned to keep my presidential political thoughts to myself.

(Plus, I once worked with a soldier who's last prior duty station had been
the White House. Part of his duties required him to sweep the briefing
room for bugs prior to the president's morning briefing. At the front
of the room was a large flip-chart, with a black cover stenciled with
"PRESIDENT'S EYES ONLY." On his last duty day, he peeked under the
cover at the top briefing sheet. He told us that after reading what the
man has to deal with before breakfast, daily, he'd never criticize another
sitting president again.)

I've always tried to emulate him in that.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

09 NOV 13

Veterans Day Approaches . . .

Played around in Photoshop and came up with this
for a holiday facebook Timeline Cover photo:

Touched up another photo from Vietnam also: