Useless Information?

8 May 2011



Django Reinhardt played at the bals of Paris. i attended some of these affairs in the early 1960s and they didn’t seem all that different from the photograph here. The people who went to these bals were called Mulots (mice) and they do rather look like Minnie and Mickey, don’t they? Mulots mignons, cute mice.


Try to play one new thing a day, even it’s a small idea. Do one thing differently. Put your sock on the foot that you never start with. Vary the routine in some way.


More than half of the coastline of the entire  United States is in Alaska. That’s something Sarah Palin could say rather than discussing matters that are above her pay grade. She could use her bully pulpit to tell us something about where she lives. Alaska is actually a very interesting place.


Have confidence in your ideas. They will develop if you nurture them.


The Lee Andrew tribe: Edie Andrew, Alyssa Amundson, Bryan Anker holding Harley Amundson. Thank you to Kari Borle for this photograph.


Django Reinhardt was a Manouche Gypsy. “Django” is a first person verb; it means “I awake.”


Listen to the actual physical sound of the notes you are playing. Sit alone sometime, play a note and listen to it until it decays to nothing. You will hear all of the overtones sooner or later. This can be spooky. The harmonics appear one by one as if entering on stage.


The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen supply.The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than one hundred miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can still dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States


Accent the notes that you don’t pick, the hammer ons and the slurred passages. This will make for an even set of notes, legato and smooth.


Mark Twain arrived in Honolulu on Sunday, 18 March 1866 fresh from Virginia City and San Francisco. Hawaii would be his last apprenticeship. When he returned to San Francisco on 19 July where he would give the first of hundreds of lectures, he was ready to begin his career as “about the best known honest man on the Pacific Coast.” (Like Charlie Chaplin he would go on to become the best known person in the world.)


Dynamics, dynamics. Play the softest you can play and the loudest you can play in one song. James Gurley and I did this in Summertime.


In an autmobile with a rear wheel drive, the main parts front to back are the radiator, the engine, transmission, clutch, catalytic converter, drive shaft, universal joint and differential.


Instead of copying notes from someone, express the feeling that those notes give you when you hear them.


But if the car has front wheel drive, many of these parts are crammed up in the front of the auto, which makes working on them a bit difficult.


Let your mistakes in music and in life lead you to new strange areas and teach you something by showing you something new. This can be strange and uncomfortable. Play through the fear and uncertainty.


The Beatles did Got To Get You Into My Life in the key of G. Matter of fact, when I think of the album Rubber Soul, I think of the key of G. Even the photograph on the front of the album is in the key of G. I’d rather you wouldn’t ask me how I know this.


Stop thinking. Let go. Feel it. That’s what she said.


With front wheel drive the universal joint is in the front of the car and it becomes a constant velocity joint (a C-V joint) or even two constant velocity joints. The drive axle and the transaxle are up front there too.


The sound is in you more than in your amp or in your guitar. It’s in you. You can’t buy it. You can’t copy it. It’s the singer not the song. It’s you. Be proud.


I remember frequenting La Porte de Clignancourt in Paris in the early 1960s. There were still Gypsies at the flea markets. It was here in 1928 that Django or his wife Bella accidentally set their caravan on fire. Bella had made a lot of celluloid flowers that day for the burial  of a Manouche boy. Django pushed Bella out of the fire and tried to put the fire out. His whole left side was badly burned. The doctors said he would never play the guitar again.


Quickest way to improved guitar tone? Change your strings.


Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. Ninety percent of the world’s ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents seventy percent of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches. Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it ice.), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert. Think of how your refrigerator dries out everything you put into it.


Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around. Maybe the only country named for a nut? Hmmm. How many nuts are there?


Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. ”Canada” is a Native American word meaning Big Village.


Oddly enough, no automobile company has designed a car where the engine is in back and drives the front wheels. The Volkswagen had the engine in the back and it drove the rear wheels, which seems like the most logical arrangement, although there haven’t been a lot of cars with this design.


Consider switching pickups on your guitar. Change is good.


Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan, carries the designation M-1, so named because it was the first paved road anywhere.


Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC making Damascus the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.


Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city in the world located on two continents.


In 1001, lower caste Indians were conscripted to battle Muslim invaders. The wars lasted for years and when they were finished, the erstwhile soldiers traveled westward. From Byzantium (Constantinople, Istanbul) their trail split into north and south. Some went up into Europe and others went along North Africa. This was the gypsy road.


Every riff you know, learn it in all keys and with all possible fingerings. Each new key sheds a new light on the idea. Same with changing the fingers you use. Look at each new idea you have from every angle. This will lead you to  places that you didn’t know were there.


In France, the first mention of Gypsies is in 1415. They were called Tziganes from a Byzantine word for animal trainers and traders, or Sinti because they came from the river Sind in India. In German Gypsies are called Tzigeuner which is from this same word root.The French word for Gypsies, Gitanes, also has the same origin. And you thought it was just a cigarette?


Roma or Romany is the Gypsy word for “human,” and this is their favored name for themselves. We call them “Gypsies” because there was a belief that they came from Egypt.


Los Angeles’ full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula. This name can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size:  LA.


My next painting is called Hoc Erat In Votis (This Was To Be Wished For). I am going to do a fairly elaborate drawing at first, right on the panel, and then slowly build up the color. That’s the method. I am not sure of the subject matter. Maybe I’ll make it abstract.


Play loudly. If you make a mistake, play it very loudly. Ask yourself why it’s a mistake and then see if you can use it as a non mistake. Every single note, all twelve of them, each single one, has its own validity and its own meaning.


The term ‘The Big Apple’ was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930s who used the slang expression ‘apple’ for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time, The Big Apple. There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin. More Italians than in Rome and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv.


The smallest island with country status is Pitcairn, Polynesia, at just 1.75 sq. Miles/4,53 sq. Km. This is MUCH smaller than Okinawa, Japan, which is a prefecture. Also smaller than Saipan.


Stéphane Grappelli was born in Italy but raised in French orphanages. He had a father who was a journalist and left his son to roam the streets. Grappelli père gave his son a three-quarter size violin that he had found in a Montnmartre secondhand store.


Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure but not higher than that. Overinflation of the tires makes the car hard to handle and will cause more tire wear. Underinflated tires cause the engine to work harder to maintain the same speed and thus will waste your precious gasoline.


When you come up with a new idea, some conventional person is always going to compare it to something that has already been done, because that’s the only way he or she can keep from creating. It is your duty to ignore such  cynical, shortsighted people. They are lazy and they want everone else to be lazy so they can be comfortable in their laziness. Have faith in yourself. Persist.


“Manouche” is the name for gypsies who found their way down into the south of France and into Spain. The word comes from Sanskrit “manusa,” meaning “true man.” Django Reinhardt was a Manouche. His great grandchildren are still playing in the south of France today and many of them play the same brand of guitar that Django did, the Maccaferri.


The tradition continues.


The first city to reach a population of one million people was Rome in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.


Start your solo on the pick up note, the “and” of one or four. Try to play as softly as you can and still be heard. (Yes, I know this contradicts something i wrote above. Try everything.)


If you look under your rear wheel drive car at the rear axle, you will see a big lump almost in the center of that axle. That’s the differential. The differential allows the wheels to turn at different speeds, which is important when you go around a corner.


Siberia contains more than 25% of the world’s forests. Once upon a time long, long ago, Siberia was a beach but no bikinis in evidence now.


Django Reinhardt toured from the south of France all the way up into Belgium. When he was in the south he would play at Lourdes, for example, and in Cannes at the casino. The club in Cannes was called La Boîte à Matelots (The Sailors’ Club). Django began playing here in 1931.


In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, Algeria. Tidikeit did not receive a drop of rain for ten years. Technically, though, the driest place on earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island. There has been no rainfall there for two million years.


Listen to the drummer if you are lucky enough to have one who plays in time and keeps her eyes open.


If your car shakes or shimmies, this is not good at all. Have it looked at right away. This is not something that should wait.


The third and the seventh of a chord are really all you need, unless there is some alteration, such as a raised 9th or a flatted fifth. The bass player already has the root. Try playing just the third and the seventh. This gives a good spare radical sound which may lead to exciting new ideas.


Spain literally means “the land of the rabbits.” (This dates from a time when “Spain” didn’t sound like España or even Hispania, which is what the Romans called it. The Phoenicians, and who knows how many people named this land before them?, the Phoenicians found rabbits in abundance where they landed in Iberia, and thought the rabbits were hyraxes such as they found in Africa, so, in their Canaanite dialect, they called the land i-sepanim, Isle of the Hyraxes.


In the 1930s, 40s, 50s, there was a zone around Paris where the Gypsies could park their caravans. Now the Périphérique, the belt road that runs around the City, has obliterated the places where Django lived and played. It gives me a strange feeling when I am in this new, sterile, automobilistic land.


The deepest hole ever drilled is the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia. It reached a depth of 12,261 meters (about 40,226 feet or 7.62 miles). It was drilled for scientific research and gave up some unexpected discoveries, one of which was a huge deposit of hydrogen so massive that the mud coming from the hole was boiling with it. I remember vividly trying to dig a hole “all the way to China” more than once when I was young.


Practice the way a cat eats. Not a lot all at once, but a little bit frequently throughout the day.


The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five be straight. These straight sections are usable as landing strips in times of war or other emergencies.


It’s the right hand, not the left hand. Try circle picking, keeping the pick at the same angle and making a small circle, down and up.


You really want to take care of the steering assembly in your car. This ensemble, steering gearbox, ball joints, center links, steering arms, coil springs, this whole assembly literally holds the front wheels on to your car, so if any of that breaks or just “feels different”, you need to attend to it immediately. You don’t want your front wheels falling off, do you?


When you feel good, take more chances. On a really good night even the mistakes work. In fact, on a good night, the mistakes are the best things that can happen.


The water of Angel Falls (the world’s highest) in Venezuela drops 3,212 feet (979 meters). These Falls are fifteen times higher than Niagara.


Lulu Reinhardt made her début on this recording. She is a powerful player and carries on the tradition. “Do you remember the time?” it says in Romany and German. This quintet played Gypsy jazz in the 1970s and 1980s.


Take care of yourself. See  you next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company