Friday, December 25, 2015

🎄 Christmas Reflections by Peter Reum

This is my 63rd Christmas. The holiday is the most commercial time here in the United States. The discussion of the people in media tends to focus on anything but the holiday's meaning spiritually. Looking for benchmarks that provide Christmas meaning is difficult but necessary.

Not unusually, my moments of Christmas connection are tied to music. The best memories of this holiday revolve around making music or hearing Christmas music live. There are many classic types of music that are inspired by Jesus of Nazareth's birthday. For me, there are many forms of music that fit Christmas. My favorite hymn was done perfectly on The Beach Boys Christmas Album from 1964. We Three Kings of Orient Are is some of most beautiful singing ever committed to vinyl. The Beach Boys also did a beautiful arrangement of The Lords Prayer on the flip of their Little Saint Nick single. Getting to sing Handel's Messiah was a beautiful experience.

Last Christmas Day I spent several hours compiling a diverse collection of various Christmas music. The collection can be heard on my YouTube page. I listened to them earlier today, and still felt the joy of this most complicated of holidays. Things we think of as related to Christmas have insinuated themselves into our holiday traditions. May all of you have a wonderful holiday season, regardless of whether you observe Christmas or not.

I am happy to have a loving, caring wife and four children and three stepdaughters. I am also blessed to have been adopted when I was a baby, having been an orphan. Thanks to my second cousin, I was placed with a loving and generous family. There is so much to be grateful for. I wish I could hug them one more time.

If you love music, you will find it is, as Brian Wilson says, it will touch your heart...that part of you that touches the Eternal.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Beach Boys America's Band Review by Peter Reum

Having been involved with 70 media projects in the years since 1974, I tend to look at new Beach Boys books as reruns of books that have preceded the book I am reviewing, unless the author breaks new ground. Of the recent books on the Beach Boys as a band or biographies of individual members, only the James Murphy book Becoming the Beach Boys 1961-63 deserves the praise of being innovative, but not The Beach Boys America's Band.
It appears that Mr. Morgan, the book's author, felt that there was a need for a coffee table type of book covering the recording history of the Beach Boys. The book is lavishly illustrated, as it needs to be as a coffee table book. There are no pictures or historical articles that are unfamiliar to me, yet it appears to me that people under 40 years old would be thrilled to view the visuals in this book.
The book is organized chronologically, beginning with Surfin' and ending with That's Why God Made Radio. The book's coverage of each single and album is information any curious fan could see online. The author, Johnny Morgan, appears to have forgotten the 4 by Beach Boys EP, and doesn't seem to be aware of the appearances by the group's members on other artists' recordings.
Furthermore, there is no coverage of solo projects by the group's members. These stumbling points are significant enough to grouse about. The coordination of text and visual content is herky-jerky. Whoever proofread the text missed misspellings of several words and people's names.
What makes the book purchase a bargain is the price, the excellent visuals that whoever did photo research found, the accuracy of the basic information (e.g. release dates, color illustrations of original albums and singles, chart performance,etc), and the presentation as a hardback book instead of those trade paperbacks that always end up with pages coming loose and falling out.
I was somewhat in disagreement with Mr. Morgan's critiques of group members. Throughout the book, I found his assessment of Brian particularly off center. For example, the opinions he expressed of songs like When I Grow Up and Til I Die.
Overall, I would give this book a C on the old scale of A being excellent, B being very god, C being Average, D being Don't Bother, and F being a waste of a good tree. This book will be more than enough for people with a casual interest, but as a book to turn to by serious students of The Beach Boys or music scholars, it is irrelevant. For the latter group, there is Andrew Doe's out of print complete critique of the group, or his site located within Endless
Summer Quarterly's site, Bellagio 10542.

Copyright 2015 by Peter Reum - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tropically Topical: Curt Boettcher's California

Curt Boettcher's name graces some of the most treasured albums of the Sixties and Seventies. His productions brought innovation and creativity to nearly every artist he worked with. There is no doubt that people who enjoy a softer sound will eventually find their way to listening to albums Curt produced. Starting out singing folk music with the Goldebriars, Curt moved to California in the mid Sixties, promptly making his mark with other psychedelic pop musicians. As early as 1966, Boettcher produced The Association's first album on Valiant, with the iconic singles, Along Comes Mary and Cherish.

California Music

Artwork for Poptones Issue of Passion Fruit Released as California Music

Boettcher's production work caught the attention of Brian Wilson and Gary Usher, with Usher inviting Boettcher to produce records at Columbia. Boettcher used the Columbia Studio access he had to produce the unreleased Ballroom album, which in turn led to the CBS Begin the Millenium album and the also the Sagittarius CBS LP entitled Present Tense. The single My World Fell Down, with its unusual bridge and psychedelic lyrics was lauded as being ahead of its time. Gary Usher, already an established and respected producer, asked Boettcher to collaborate on producing albums for the Together Records label. While relatively short in its lifespan, Together issued a number of soft pop records, including Sagittarius's second album, with Boettcher performing and co-producing. The result was a number of  Sunshine Pop albums by not well known artists, which, when compiled together and listened to, reveal a beautifully crafted body of work.

Several albums were issued with Boettcher's production and/or perfomance during the first affiliation with Usher. The best of them, such as the two Sagittarius albums, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Begin the Millennium, and Eternity's Children had Gary Usher's sure footed supervision and Boettcher's already formidable production talent flourished. Boettcher began to have a favorable reputation among some of the more attuned to new ideas record company executives in Los Angeles. His reputation for his albums being expensive to produce also accompanied him. The Millennium on Columbia was well received in many countries, such as Japan, but tanked in the USA. It was estimated that nearly four albums worth of material were recorded in the Millennium sessions, which was confirmed when 3 and 4 cd boxed sets were released in the USA and Japan in the early part of the 2000s. The quality of the material in those sessions was an excellent example of the Baroque Rock and Pop period in Sixties music. The album as first released may be heard here:Begin the Millennium Album 1968 release  The sales results were disappointing to Boettcher and Gary Usher, co-producers of the sessions.


Original artwork for the Begin the Millennium Album Produced by Curt Boettcher

As the Seventies began, Boettcher focused on writing, recording few tunes under his own name or for other artists. Gary Usher was also still producing, and recorded a moving instrumental album tribute to Brian Wilson, who was experiencing exacerbated mental illness at that time. In 1971, Boettcher was asked by Jac Holzman, President of Elektra Records to record an album for that label. The resulting album was two years in the making. The team of Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher and studio musicians were responsible for There's An Innocent Face, released under Curt Boettcher's name. The album suffered from there being only three Boettcher compositions on the album. The reviewers at All Music make the point that the album bowed to the the explosion in popularity of Country Rock in Los Angeles and the USA as a whole. Their criticism of the album center upon Boettcher being out of his usual element, Baroque Pop, and the unfamiliarity of the Country Rock flavor of the album.

There's an Innocent Face

1972's There's An Innocent Face by Curt Boettcher
The Executive Producer was Gary Usher

As the Early Seventies appeared, several former Surf Music alumnae decided to begin recording for fun. The first single, by the Legendary Masked Surfers, included Jan and Dean, Brian Wilson, and Bruce Johnston among others. Several singles followed under the name California Music, with Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher taking the initiative. The two Legendary Masked Surfers singles got some USA radio airplay from friendly disc jockeys, but did not chart. The Japanese cd entitled California Music and Disney Girls gathers most of the songs recorded by Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher for RCA Equinox, which was a custom label run by Bruce and Terry. A nice Bruce Johnston tribute to Brian Wilson was Don't Worry Baby, with the second side being a song called Ten Years of Harmony, also sung by Bruce, which eventually was reworked into Endless Harmony on the Beach Boys Keepin' the Summer Alive album.  A second California Music single, produced by Brian Wilson, was issued in 1975. The version of Why Do Fools Fall In Love on the first side was produced by Brian. The second side was co-produced by Brian and Bruce Johnston, a nice version of Jamaica Farewell, on which Brian also plays organ. 

Curt Boettcher was interested in 1975 in beginning an album of songs under the name of California Music. The resulting collection of songs appearing on the California Music cd in 2001, originally entitled Passion Fruit, brought a new and vibrant sound to the Los Angeles music scene. Curt worked as a dj for a number of local dance events in Southern California area beginning in 1975. That the audience response to some of the earliest disco pop music he played excited him, and made him want to produce a record of contemporary California Music, harmonies included, but with a new approach that embedded dance into every song on the album. The resulting 50 to 60 minutes of music was entitled Passion Fruit. The album demo was shopped to a number of record companies in LA, but no one seemed enthusiastic. Two issues of the music from Passion Fruit have been released, California Music by Curt Boettcher by Poptones in 2001, and again in 2010 in Japan. 

Cover Art for 2010 Passionfruit by California - Japanese CD

The Japanese reissue from 2010 contains some mixes of songs that are different from the 2001 release on Poptones. The track lineup here is:

Happy In Paradise
Happy In Hollywood
(Just To Let You Know) I Love You So
Jamaica Farewell - Traditional Long Version
Music Music Music
Banana Boat Song (Day-O)
Iko Iko
Come Softly To Me
The Word
Brand New Old Friends
Yes We Can Yes We Can
Head Shampoo (Bonus Track)
Happy In Hollywood (Bonus Track)
I Can Hear Music (Bonus Track)
Love's Supposed To Be That Way (Bonus Track)
I Can Hear Music (Special Disco Mix) (Bonus Track)
Music Music Music (Disco Mix) (Bonus Track)

As can be seen, the Japanese track list has some minor variations from the first Passion Fruit track list. The major difference is that two tracks, California Music and Will You Ever See Me are not on the Japanese version of the Passion Fruit sessions.

The question everyone asks is "why did this music not receive a proper release when it was originally recorded?" The answers are fairly subjective. First, the music is a disco album that strays somewhat from what was then the disco music that was being released in the Seventies. It has a dance orientation, but sounds Beach Boys enough that it got a similar reaction to Boettcher's redone Here Comes The Night on the L.A. Light Album. It seems that listeners could not move aside their preconceptions and just accept a Beach Boys sounding disco format recording. Second, the music on Passion Fruit is joyful, almost giddy. That is, it  sounds like someone swallowed an overdose of happy pills and then went to the studio. Third, the album itself was a major project that took an enormous amount of  studio time, and perhaps the record companies approached could not see it selling highly enough to recoup its costs.

When I was given a cassette tape of the Passion Fruit sessions in the late Seventies, I could not move past my own biases toward disco and mixing that style with the Beach Boys vocal sort of sound. Listening today, some 38 to 40 years after the album was cut, it offers up a feeling of joy and affection that a "would be" Sixties and Seventies rock music critic like I was in the Seventies could not be caught dead liking. The reviewer at All Music had the same reaction to the album that I did in 1978...."what is this sh*t?"  Well, age and many listens have changed my mind. This album is a timeless sort of album that can be listened to, danced to, or enjoyed while driving. The cover versions of Iko Iko, The Banana Boat Song, Come Softly To Me, and especially I Can Hear Music are delightful. Bruce Johnston's Brand New Old Friends, a loving tribute to the Marx Brothers, is probably the best song Bruce ever wrote. Brian and Bruces's Jamaica Farewell is fun, perhaps the surprise of the album. Love's Supposed To Be That Way,  Music Music Music, California Music, Happy In Hollywood, and This Is Just To Let You Know are all catchy and beautifully realized tunes. The All Music critic who reviewed the album is a Beatlemaniac, and hated the version of The Word on this album. Not being one who brings any pro or anti Beatle ideas to the table, I liked it and thought it was an imaginative reworking of the song.

To summarize, this collection of Curt Boettcher's is a fun and sunshiny collection of tunes. It is neither heavy nor should it be approached that way. Curt released an almost 11 minute remake of Here Comes the Night for L.A. Light by the Beach Boys. He was saddened that the record company chose the version it did for that album. He had mixed several more adventurous long versions of the song. Had the L.A. Light Album been released with the 3:18 length version, that album would have been better received. In the Eighties, there was not much activity from Boettcher. Sadly, he passed away far too early at the age of 43 in 1987. His friend and mentor Gary Usher also passed away much too early as well. Both men brought a freshness to every project they took on, and they are central figures in California music from the Sixties to the Eighties.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Personal Favorites #6 - Michael Nesmith's Nevada Fighter by Peter Reum

Michael Nesmith is an artist who has always followed his intuitive expression, not necessarily bound by the demands of his fans or the expectations that his listeners present. His post Monkees music has always knocked me out. I first heard his solo albums while looking for some Country Rock that sounded natural, like the Western genre I listened to as a kid. There were so many people from Los Angeles making money from Country Rock in the late Sixties and early Seventies that I heard and thought to myself "nope, that's not what I want to hear..." I walked into my favorite record store on an afternoon break from the rigors of the Colorado College block system and they had Nevada Fighter on the store turntable. I happened to first hear Michael's composition "Propinquity," and the sheer nakedness of the tune, it's emotional honesty, caught my attention. You see, in my mind, the best Country Rock resonated with the type of fingernails on a chalkboard honesty that Propinquity expressed. Every human being has had a friend who did not fit the idea of life partnership, but rather was a friend in the best sense of the word. The idea of knowing someone as a deeply trusted friend without seeing the friendship as a romantic partnership resonates with an honesty that is straight and true. That it may turn romantic is just as equally true.

The Nevada Fighter album was new, fresh, and had that Western sound that I had grown up hearing. The opening track, "Grand Ennui" is a whimsical and true accounting of life in the music business probably derived from his years with The Monkees. Five years before Hotel California, Nesmith captured the phoniness of the LA music scene and the accompanying emptiness an artist feels when he or she has lost direction. The recurring theme of losing your soul in the music business, then fighting to regain it, is an archetype that every artist seems to struggle with. Perhaps this is why Michael formed Pacific Arts, his own label, to release his recordings.

After Propinquity, Here I Am reinforces the theme of love found. The song is a gentle acoustic tune and the song's protagonist humbly approaches his long time love, apologizing for his part in being self-centered in their life together. The couple has grown older and there is scar tissue. The song's singer asks his partner to "let me offer what I've taken back to you, here I am." For me this song eloquently captures the honesty of Western music as I remember it.

Track 4, Only Bound, is a tune in waltz time, one which a couple would slow dance to at the Legion Hall or the VFW. The song paints a picture of a man who came back from a war and married his sweetheart, only to fall into his horrible war memories, then drowning them in an alcoholic haze. When facing the sunset of his life, the singer realizes that he has selfishly focused on his memories, then sees his partner who has faithfully stood by him, emotionally withered, yet still trying to hang in their relationship. He then turns and realizes he has consumed his partner's soul while focused on his own painful memories.

The title track, Nevada Fighter, closes the first side of the album. This tune exemplifies what a well played Country Rock song should sound like. For some reason, this song reminds me of a country bar, miles from anywhere. The song's narrator walks into the bar, pockets bulging with his share of the annual sale of cattle (or sheep), ready to party, only to find that no one cares to share his money or his company. The person singing could just as well be a guy who has been working on atomic weapons testing or some other isolated, lonely occupation.

Texas Morning, the next tune, is a slice of life song, the singer describes an early morning coffee shop encounter. The singer has been let down easy by a female friend who perhaps did not like the obsessive approach to love the singer has taken. She told him she was going to Texas, being careful to not be specific, promising she would see the singer when she returns, which she has no intention of doing.The tune is true Country Rock, lyrically and instrumentally. The singer's creepy behavior is noticed by the waitress, cook, and store patrons. Eventually they chalk his searching as odd, labeling the singer as "probably a California bum."

Original Artwork for Nevada Fighter Album

If you as listener are beginning to see a song cycle, you might be on the right track. The loneliness of finally realizing that he might have been lied to by his lover is sorrowful. As in Elvis's Kentucky Rain, the desperation of trying to find his lost love has made the song's singer begin to feel the meaning of his life has gone. There is no song more lonely than Tumbling Tumbleweeds. This singer has entered a prolonged time of trying to grieve his way out of the loss of the love of his life. There can be no comfort here, just desolation.

I Looked Away, track 8, is at once a reflection on the part of the singer, summarizing for his own understanding of how the relationship ended. This retelling of the story is a coping strategy to help a broken man begin to pick himself up, dust himself off, and release the woman he loves to be free, following her own path of life. The songwriter tells himself that he will always love this person, and that he will let her go.

Harry Nilsson's Rainmaker, track 9, uses rain as a metaphor for the desolation, anger, and grief he felt so deeply. Kansas is the location of the story, but it could be anywhere. Tears flow, harder than ever before. Many Country listeners have told me that the pedal steel guitar is, if played the right way, the most important instrument in Country Music for expressing the utter and complete sadness that Country (and therefore, Country Rock music) has to express a broken heart. The album's last tune, Rene, exemplifies this truth. Red Rhodes spills sorrow 💔, closing this album as eloquently as Caroline No from Pet Sounds.

That the Nevada Fighter album has been misunderstood is sad. It is a song cycle about the complete devastation that the end of a relationship brings. In that light, it equals any Country Rock or Country album ever recorded for it's emotional downhill run into feeling completely and utterly lost.

Copyright 2015 by Peter Reum - all rights reserved

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Search For the Perfect Record by Peter Reum

What is a perfect record? For more than 50 years, I have listened to thousands of recordings in nearly every genre. Anyone who has loved music can probably tell you about a peak experience that they had while listening to something that literally blows their mind. The criteria for a perfect record will vary according to each individual's taste in sound. But, there may be some criteria that we as listeners all have in common.

The first criterion that we all probably have is an immediate attraction to the sounds upon first listen. A second criterion would be that the recording would take on a desert island disc feeling.....that would be that if you could only have a small number of recordings on the island you would live on for the rest of your life, and you can only take between 5 and 10 recordings and never have any more, what would you take? The third criterion would be that you feel impelled to share your discovery with people you know. we go. These are the perfect records that I have selected. They are not in any particular order. Feel free to share yours in the comments section following this article....

My perfect records in no particular order...

I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos-This record is timeless. It captures that time in life when you find the love of your life and carry a torch that burns brightly. The feeling is euphoric, unlike any other high, like Bogie and Bacall.

Jumpin' Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones-What would a perfect rock and roll record sound like? Tongues firmly in cheek, The Stones describe suffering in a manner that drips the Blues, but in a rock style. I used to play this record just before going to work at a hospital job that I loathed. It did the trick!

Porgy and Bess by Miles Davis and Bill Evans-Miles Davis and Bill Evans' trilogy of albums from 1959 and 1960 are hailed as masterpieces. Kinda Blue, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain have brought me innumerable hours of listening pleasure. Porgy and Bess, the second album of the trilogy, was my first Miles Davis album. The arrangement by Bill Evans brings out a dimension of George Gershwin's melodies that for me remain timeless. When you hear an album like Porgy and Bess, it becomes an itch that only repeated listens can relieve. The tones here are so varied that they offer a beauty that is inspirational. If you are like me, each listening will make another facet of this diamond shine.

Don't Worry Baby by The Beach Boys-How does one pick out one record from a plethora of perfect records? Fortune smiled on Brian Wilson, and the gift he was given is now a gift to the world as a whole. Don't Worry Baby expresses in a little over two minutes what most of us take years to know how to express....Roger Christian's evocative lyrics and Brian's simple, yet elegant track. To paraphrase another record producer, Terry Melcher, "I'd sell my soul to just make one record as perfect as Don't Worry Baby!"

Peter and the Wolf,Op. 67,Composed by Sergei Prokofiev, Performed by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Symphonic Orchestra - When I was about six years old, my mother presented me with this version of Peter and the Wolf. It is an album that fulfills Sergei Prokofiev's intention to compose an orchestral work for children that helps them fall in love with classical music. For me, it worked. I developed an insatiable desire to hear symphonic works that continues to this day. Specifically, I have come to really enjoy Russian composers' work. If this album is still in print, invite your children into the lifelong pleasure of symphonic compositions.

Cancion de Mariachi (Morena de Mi Corazon) - by Los Lobos - These guys have been together more than forty years. They were the main band that played at rallies for Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Union. They are masters of all forms of Mexican and Chicano music,as well as rock and jazz. They are bilingual, as most of us from the Southwestern United States are. They are probably the best band playing today, and all of their albums are worth a listen. Give them a'll be glad you did!

5:15 by The Who - 5:15 - When older Sixties fans assemble over some form of intoxicants, the debate usually comes around to who the best band of the Rock Era was. Usually three bands come up. They would be The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who. Because I believe that Pete Townshend is the finest songwriter during that time from the UK, The Who occupy a place of honor among the artists that comprise my collection. Pete successfully wrote two long form thematic compositions, Tommy and Quadraphenia. His work on a third, Lifehouse, was also incredible, and when finished to Pete's satisfaction in 2000,it became the second longest gestation period for an unreleased album in rock history. I could have picked any number of songs...but my affection for 5:15 from Quadraphenia won the day.

Rhapsody In Blue as recorded by George Gershwin and The Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - The premier of Rhapsody in Blue was on February 12,1924 at Aeolian Hall in New York City. The piece was commissioned, lending anticipation that it would be a long form serious work. George Gershwin already had a reputation as a songwriter for musicals and Broadway variety shows. The piano was played by Gershwin himself, accompanied by Paul Whiteman's Orchestra. There were at least two recordings of the Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin and Paul Whiteman's Orchestra. The one I like is the 1924 recording, with Gershwin playing himself. The version from 1924 lasts a shade over nine minutes. This version was arranged by Ferde Grofe, Whiteman's arranger, who later wrote another personal favorite of mine, Grand Canyon Suite. The familiar clarinet glissando that begins the Rhapsody was a happy last minute addition, suggested by Whiteman.

Waiting For Columbus (especially Fat Man In the Bathtub by Little Feat - In the Seventies, the title of best LA band was usually given to Little Feat, led by Lowell George and Bill Payne. My favorite album of any year is Waiting For Columbus, featuring the Tower of Power Horns, who toured with Little Feat in 1977. In this case,my preference for a live set is not because the studio versions of the tunes on Waiting For Columbus are inferior. The live versions simply transcend the studio versions because they selected the best live versions from several concerts recorded. In some cases, the live versions were remixed or a part that did not sound right on the raw mixing board tape. This is standard for live recordings. The version of Waiting For Columbus that I prefer is the Rhino version, which adds thirteen songs to the original album's fifteen. Fat Man in the Bathtub has become a personal anthem for me, because of the rhythmic pattern of the song and Lowell George's depiction of a dissipated musician in LA. His description of his tunes as "cracked mosaics" is there to enjoy on. Fat Man in the 🛀 Bathtub. Oh damn, I forgot to close that parenthese!

Music From a Painted Cave by Robert Mirabal--My ties to New Mexico are strengthened by the work of Taos Pueblo's Robert Mirabal. I have come to love his music and sense of humor, which is often ironic or often funny in a way that allows us to laugh at ourselves. For many Indigenous People, the sheer fact that they survived an American campaign to either "whiten" them, or even kill them means they can laugh at themselves and the dominant Caucasian way of doing things. The album I have chosen to be an example of Mirabal's work is designed for live performance. Aspects of the Taos Pueblo oral traditions and history are presented in a highly visual manner, at times using rock music. I caught his live performance here in 2001, and before the evening show for the general public, he had already done two shows for Indigenous youth that afternoon which filled the venue completely. To say these kids were awed by Mirabal's show would be an understatement. While Music From a Painted Cave, may not be the most traditional Indigenous album Mirabal has recorded, it is the most accessible of them.

There you have it...those are my perfect record selections. Feel free to share yours in the comments section below!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Atomic City by Peter Reum

The Interstate 25 corridor through New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming is often nicknamed America's Nuclear Highway. Within 100 miles of that Interstate on either side of the highway are situated many of the United State's most strategically significant nuclear defense installations.

As the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have passed with numerous media articles and segments presented, the controversy surrounding the decision to deploy the bombs against Japan is as vibrant as ever. In New Mexico, the National Laboratories entrusted with the maintenance and development of nuclear weapons are alive and thriving. The discussions about dealing with the toxic cores of obsolete missles and bombs, and the proposed replacement of the old designs with new and more deadly weapons at an estimated cost of over $1,000,000,000,000 (trillion) dollars boggles the mind.

The Atomic Age began in New Mexico. The test of the plutonium core of the Trinity Site bomb was a leap into the most complicated and dangerous period in world history. Los Alamos, one of two New Mexico cities I call my hometown, is the site where the research designs of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were done. In the case of the plutonium bomb, Los Alamos National Laboratory also tested the bomb before it was dropped on Nagasaki. The National Laboratory system, which includes numerous scientific research labs, has two National Laboratories in New Mexico, Los Alamos and Sandia Laboratory, located in Albuquerque.

My father came to wartime Los Alamos in 1944. He worked for nearly 32 years at Los Alamos, retiring in 1975. My half-sister graduated from the high school in Los Alamos in 1949, with me graduating in 1971 and my younger sister in 1975.

To help explain Los Alamos as a community, it is good to cite a few statistics. Los Alamos has the highest percentage of Ph.D graduates in the United States, the highest county per capita income of any county in the USA, and was selected as the most desirable small community in the USA by a national publication this year.

My first seven years of schooling took place in the Rio Grande Valley below Los Alamos in a small city called Espanola. The Espanola Valley is a beautiful valley situated between two major mountainous canyon systems along the river. The Valley, as it is called by people who live there, is roughly 85% Indigenous Pueblo people and Hispanic, and 15% Caucasian. In Los Alamos, the percentages are roughly the opposite, 85% Caucasian and 15% Hispanic and Indigenous people. Los Alamos is a relatively new community, begun in 1943, although ancient Anasazi occupation dates back to pre-Columbian times. In the Espanola Valley, Pueblo tribes have been present for at least 1200 years, and Hispanic people came in 1598.

The contrast between the Espanola Valley and Los Alamos County is so different that it is impossible to understate. What makes Los Alamos different than almost any community in the United States is the manner in which people live there. The higher percentage of Ph.D.s in town makes for unusual expectations with respect to primary and secondary schools, as well as the sheer number of different organizations reflecting the interest of residents. The expectations parents have is that their kids will get into the best colleges, and follow their dreams. At a time when parents across the USA are shuddering at the cost of higher education for their children, Los Alamos families retain a strong faith in the value of higher education.

The families in Los Alamos and Espanola are also different in daily life. Many Espanola Valley residents have been on the land their family owns for centuries, especially the Pueblo peoples. The economic impact of the Los Alamos National Laboratory on the Valley is dramatic. There is an impact that the Laboratory makes by purchasing numerous goods and services from the Valley and other towns in a 100 mile radius from Los Alamos.

The Pueblo peoples and the Laboratory also have a high level of secrecy in common. Pueblo peoples guard their ancient beliefs from a prying world due to attempted interference from the Christian church in the long history of Hispanic/American/Pueblo conflict over traditional  Indigenous religion and missionary work that several Christian sects have introduced over the centuries. Los Alamos families do not discuss what mom or dad did at the Laboratory today over dinner due to the high levels of National Security that most of the Los Alamos staff have to observe. This secrecy is especially prevalent in new weapons design and testing. If friends ask what your mom or dad do at the Lab, it is common for most kids to say that their parent works at a particular Tech Site in the numerous canyons and mesa tops that make up the Lab.

Recently I watched a miniseries called Hiroshima. It covers the events leading up to the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, 1945. The three hour film, which appeared to be produced by the Hallmark Channel. The film used archival film from World War 2 along with new footage with actors portraying various leaders and other people important in the story.

The story of Los Alamos is intimately and permanently linked with the fear that someone or something will invade and take over the USA. We as a country have lived in fear of potential enemies since the "day that lived in infamy," to paraphrase President Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. Since that attack, our country has lived in fear of it repeating. When it did on September 11, 2001, those people who died, became not only martyrs, but a reason for more protective armament to keep out foreign threats.

It is difficult to overstate the fear that pervades today's world, and we appear as a country to believe that the size of our military forces increases the level of safety our society has. In a state as impoverished as New Mexico, the billions of dollars that Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories bring to the state are crucial to its financial health and employment of New Mexicans statewide. That the sheer number of businesses related to defense related work is crucial to New Mexico's economy is not surprising. Throughout the West, the Representatives and Senators from Western states actively seek new contracts from the United States Departments of Energy and Defense. We are dependent on those dollars.

My parents were conservative Republicans when they came to Los Alamos. This was the way both sides of our family had been affiliated for generations. Naturally, when the time came to register to vote, I did what I thought was the right thing to do, and became a Republican. It was a comfortable association that pleased my parents, my adult friends, and most of my friends in high school. After graduating from Los Alamos High School, I decided that of the five colleges I had applied to, I would matriculate to Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was and is still a college dedicated to liberal arts, and then had a new way of holding classes called The Block Plan, which reduced a semester long class into a month long form which a student took, eliminating the traditional form of learning by taking several semester long courses simultaneously.

The Vietnam War was in full force, and veterans were coming to Colorado Springs, trying to readjust to life. They often wandered onto the Colorado College campus, often high or intoxicated. It would have been easy to condemn them, but I took time to talk with them, often over beers or cheap wine. The men I encountered were from a variety of backgrounds. They had been drafted, and then were assigned to various locations in Vietnam. They generally were non commissioned troops. I listened to them relate their stories while serving in Vietnam, being careful to not be judgemental. As time passed, their inhibition would leave them, and the horror of that war would descend upon these young men. The stories they related were only shared when inebriated or high on some other mood altering substance. These men were not cheered for when they came home. They were verbally condemned.
The experiences I was fortunate to be able to hear from these guys, and the insanity of the entire Vietnam War as a whole, profoundly changed my political views and my faith in a Higher Power as well. I was able to read the New Testament, especially the four gospels, and nonviolent literature from a variety of people and eras. The whole period of study, which lasted about two years, showed me that war was always futile. I became a conscientious objector, and served two years in a hospital after graduation.
I became persuaded that the use of war as a means to solve disputes between sovereign nations was wrong, on both a spiritual and a humanitarian basis. The Jesus that I loved told his followers to turn the other cheek. The writings of Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi Martin Luther King, and so many others, in my mind showed that me that wars against Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Spain, and Mexico were either designed to gain territory or to enrich stockholders in American countries. Coups authored in Iran, Chile, and so many more countries were proof to me that the country I loved as a young Republican had an extraordinary dark side to it.
The fact that my immediate family had participated in the making of a weapon so heinous that it could bring about the decimation of humanity and other species as well shook me to my foundation. This realization early in my nonviolent approach to resolving conflicts in turn had an effect upon my view of Los Alamos.
I read everything I could find that had been published on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the decision making process that led to the deployment and detonation of these bombs. What became apparent to me as I progressed in my literature review of both sides of the question as to whether these bombs should have been dropped made me feel conflicted. I had grown up with my family knowing scientists who were instrumental in the building of the first atomic bombs and subsequent "new and improved" atomic weapons in the decades after the first atomic bombs were dropped. It began to be irrational when the hydrogen bombs were built by the USA and USSR. Then, bombs were put on ICBMs and submarines. The world was almost destroyed in 1962, were it not for the extraordinary common sense of a Soviet submariner. The irrationality of our public servants who fund the building of and support the deployment of bombs that kill people but left buildings intact had reached new level of insanity. Who,pray tell, was going to use these buildings when the radiation therein would not allow people to be near them?
Then came Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and ultimately Fukushima. The whole nuclear proposition began to stink like rancid fish. I became familiar with Los Alamos scientists who were part of the World War 2 scientists who later became avid and vocal opponents of nuclear weapons. Men like Robert Wilson, Richard Feynman, and Andrei Sakharov. What these men had in common was the strong conviction that nuclear weapons would be the means of the human race destroying itself.
I read probably 75 books and another 100 papers on the subject of the strategic use of nuclear weapons, their history, the ethical arguments against and for their existence, and the personalities of prominent scientists who were instrumental in the creation and dramatic increase in power of their destructive capability.
I came to the conclusion that the laboratories in the American West that build this most deadly of weapons have become an economic necessity for many of the regions in which they are located. To close these labs would devastate the economic stability of their surrounding communities. This is the rationale that begs the ethical issues that such powerful defensive (and offensive) weapons bring forth. Our elected officials, executive, legislative, and even judicial, have to grapple with the question that they have to confront, which is "why should we support the downsizing or closing of such facilities in the Western USA, when other parts of the country thrive on them?"
This is how the armed forces in the USA and other nuclear capable nations have perpetuated the nuclear and defense industries. For the Western USA, these facilities are thought to be irreplaceable. It is mind boggling to even count the number of installations in the West. In New Mexico alone, there are the Los Alamos, Sandia, and Manzano labs, the White Sands Missle Range, and the nuclear waste disposal facility near Carlsbad. California has Lawrence Berkeley and Livermore labs, Edwards Air Force Base, and the Jet Propulsion lab. Nuclear missles are a reality in Montana, Wyoming, and many other Western states. Even Hawaii and Alaska are home to defense sites involving nuclear weapons. The Las Vegas area has the site now known as Nellis Air Force Base, with Area 51 and the area once known as The Nevada Test Site.
The thing that makes this nuclear reality so unstable is that we now have knee jerk Republican Tea Partiers with apocalyptic fervor in both houses of Congress who would welcome a nuclear war, expecting Jesus of Nazareth to come riding in from heaven on a white horse wearing a cowboy hat and making war on the unbelievers. None of them have ever experienced the power of a 50 kiloton bomb from thirty miles like my dad did. I hope that nations around the world consider the implications of an all out exchange of nuclear missiles. The prevailing opinion is that such an exchange is unlikely to occur. With the rise of fundamentalists in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, the world is far closer to destruction than any time since the Cold War. My dad's boss once removed has this quotation attributed to him after a U.S. President visited Los Alamos to be briefed
The quote went something like this..."Maybe if we put these SOB politicians on a boat in their underwear 30 miles from a 50 kiloton hydrogen bomb explosion, they would get rid of these bombs or at least agree to dismantle them." You know, maybe he was onto something!

Copyright 2015 by Peter Reum - All rights reserved

Thursday, September 10, 2015

How Do You Work This Out?-Reflections On Disability by Peter Reum

When I was a boy, a neighbor child named "Butch'' V. lived near us. My friend Butch was 10, and I was 6, but Butch was fun to play with because he always wanted to play whatever I wanted to play. This was fun, and although Butch was "a little bit slow" as my mother termed it, he was always welcome to be at our house. I grew to really like him, and when we moved from the Rio Grande Valley to Los Alamos, I made it a point to say goodbye.

You  see, Butch V. was not going to school at all, and the State of New Mexico did not provde school for children who were slow learners. Many parents who had children with special needs would pool their time together, and trade off with each other to give each family a break (now called respite care) from their special needs parenting. In the Fifties, children with special needs were either sent to an institution run by the State they lived in, or their parents took complete responsibility for their developmental learning. The Education for All Children Act was two decades away from its passage by Congress, and school districts were not legally bound to provide special education.

Between my freshman and sophomore years at Los Alamos High School, I volunteered at a day camp run by the Association for Retarded Citizens, an organization of progressive parents of children with special needs who advocated for better childrens' educational services and adult developmental services for people with special needs. The word "retarded" back then did not yet have the terrible stigma that it would in the future. The ARC, as they are now called, remains a powerful and effective group of parents and advocates for both children and adults with developmental disabilities. My experience in this Los Alamos ARC Day Camp would dramatically impact the path my vocational career would take in the future.

I found that my self-esteem was improved by the experiences I had with the day campers. There were children with a variety of types of developmental disabilities, such as Downs Syndrome, Autism, Cornelia DeLange Syndrome, Reyes Disorder, Praeder-Willi Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and what we now know as Fragile X Syndrome. But, for that week, it did not matter WHY these children had developmental disabilities, it only mattered that they were with volunteers who played with them, taught them games, and accepted them as they were. There were picnics, hikes, horses to ride, games to play, lunches to prepare, and friends to make.

That single week was the highlight of my summer. Like many people who volunteer at these wonderful programs, the reward was simply the chance to make a peer with a disability a little happier.

 A cynic would say that we were there to make ourselves feel better. That would be partially true. There is always a hint of "but for the grace of God, I would be disabled." The fear of people with disabilities and their relative invisibility in the history of American life through being institutionalized or being homebound was palpable, even when I was a teenager. The idea that people with severe and profound developmental disabilities could live and work in their own communities was unthinkable.

People with quadriplegia lived in iron lungs. Blind Americans had special workshops set up for them, and their mobility training was provided by sighted teachers. State schools for people with blindness and deafness were where people with sensory disabilities were educated. People with Mental Illness were housed in State Hospitals, and in some cases cruelly lobotomized, never to recover.  The whole picture, considering all types of people with disabilities, was that people with disabilities could expect that they would be treated as invisible, inferior, and unable to work or otherwise function as citizens with full rights under the law.

As high school progressed, my time was split between my studies, extra curricular activities, and volunteering in special needs classrooms in Los Alamos High School and helping establish the first community based residential program in Northern New Mexico, Santa Maria El Mirador. I knew that my friend in the Rio Grande Valley, Butch V., would need a place to live, because his parents were getting old, and his siblings were living their own lives.

Through Youth ARC, I had the chance to work in the classroom for children with disabilities at Los Alamos High School, and to invite other students to  come and volunteer, and the idea of inclusion of students with disabilities on regular classrooms was 2 years in the future. Los Alamos High School's physical education teacher, Mr. Cox, made me a permanent squad leader in PE class and proceeded to assign three special needs boys to my squad. Although I was okay with that, some of my peers got tired of having to make adjustments to their presence in PE activities and sports. The guys with special needs were well treated, however, and saw themselves as peers with other members of my squad. That was a small triumph.

The Key Club for which I was an officer in my junior and senior years made the decision to choose the renovation of an eighteenth century adobe hacienda which had become a geriatric home, and then an estate owned by a wealthy heiress from Chicago. We cleared about five acres for gardens and greenhouses. We arranged for several union plumbers and electricians to renovate the buildings on the property, so that they would pass building codes for group homes for people with developmental disabilities.

The first residents moved in shortly after my high school graduation. The property was developed into a working model of what was best about community living for people with developmental disabilities at the time. There were growing pains, as the founder was removed by the State of New Mexico for spanking adults with developmental disabilities. The staff expanded and services multiplied over the next decade at an astounding rate.

Santa Maria El Mirador today is the largest provider of services to people with developmental disabilities in Northern New Mexico. The hacienda in Alcalde is still in operation, having expanded to Espanola, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos. I served on the founding board of directors, and our Key Club in Los Alamos won some awards for our role in helping Santa Maria El Mirador get off the ground. The story of my experience with people with disabilities began with Key Club, and continues today, in my retirement.

When asked what the correct nomenclature is to talk about people with developmental disabilities, I always use the word "citizen," which helps nondisabled people realize that people with disabilities are equal under the law in this country, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the world's first law in the world that guarantees equal rights for people with disabilities in the USA. We have come a long way, but the journey is just beginning.

Copyright 2015 by Peter Reum - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pave Paradise, and Put Up a Parking Lot by Peter Reum

Development and social issues do not always mix. Fifty plus years ago, the world began to respond to the desecration of wild areas by beginning to protect them. In the American West, the battle has always been between those who wish to keep wild areas undeveloped, and those who believe that the land is ours and we should profit from its development. Several years ago, I wrote a piece in this blog which addressed the need for preserving the sacred lands of the various Indigenous tribes in the Americas. For many Americans, worship takes place in a building set aside for that purpose. Churches, synagogues, and temples fill that drive that calls people to have faith in something beyond our small lives, beyond the trivial concerns of daily life. Whether our background is Indigenous, European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, or Oriental, a common attachment to our wild lands draws us back, with feelings of awe, fear, wonder, and interdependence flowing through us.

As we propagate, fewer of us experience that feeling of wonder than the previous generations have experienced. The reasons why are too numerous to mention. A few that come to mind are urbanization, mining and drilling, a growing dependence on technology to help us survive and entertain ourselves, the automobile, lack of sufficient time, and the loss of basic survival skills needed to live in the wild...even for a weekend. Today, we look at other planets and their moons the way Nineteenth Century society viewed the wilderness. We look at our Moon, Mars, and other planets as potential places to colonize and as places to extract precious metals. Will there be a Sierra Club or a Wild Place Guardian equivalent that will protect our neighboring celestial bodies? We have already planned to visit Mars in 2020 and return with ore samples.

How much contamination is okay on Mars 2020 rover?

NASA Mars 2020 Sample Gathering Rover (NASA Image)

How much contamination is okay on Mars 2020 rover?

MARS 2020 Sample Gathering Rover Functions (NASA Image)

NASA already has potential plans for sending astronauts to retrieve the rock samples that would be obtained by the 2020 Sample Gathering Rover. What do we think of such plans.....what SHOULD we think of such plans.....

The Great Frontier still exists. It is further away, and would take longer to reach, but we are beginning to plan on how to engage ourselves with it, even today. How have we treated the American Frontier over the last five centuries, since Europeans first arrived and claimed others' lands for themselves? How do we engage our Moon this century? Do we drill and destroy the Moon the way we are drilling and destroying the aquifers that give us life? The Apache tribe has been fighting to preserve a piece of land that, while outside their reservation, is sacred to them. Tribes in Alberta and  British Columbia are fighting to stop pipelines full of highly flammable oil from crossing their reserves. Several USA tribes are fighting the Keystone Pipeline from being constructed and crossing their sacred lands. The Lakota have refused a payment from the US Government in lieu of returning The Paha Sapa-The Black Hills, sacred to their tribe.What will it take to convince us that some lands are sacred and should be respected as such?

Slowly, the growing population of humans on this planet is beginning to exceed Mother Earth's capacity to sustain us. Areas previously thought of as inhospitable to human life are being considered for growth and development. The polar regions in the North and South are being contested for ownership by nations that previously had not been as aggressive toward each other. Tiny islands in oceans are being contested for strategic reasons as much as for development.  Many biologists contend that a sixth mass extinction is already underway. The idea that other species have not only a right but also a place in sustaining other species is only beginning to be understood. Whether it be wolverines, wolves, prairie dogs, sharks, birds, or whales, less is known about their place in Earth's habitats than is known conclusively. We risk starving ourselves to death by destroying the very bees that pollenate our crops.

The  reality of the world warming is a fact. That much of it is due to fossil fuel consumption is a fact. Where we go and how we travel will have to change dramatically the first half of this century. Obfuscation of simple and proven links of fossil fuels and climate change is rampant. We have heads of major world corporations contending that the human need for fresh water is something that has a price tag attached. Animals that were plentiful in my own childhood in the 1950s are either endangered or extinct. Lions, tigers, giant pandas, whales, dolphins, polar bears, and too many more species to mention have gone extinct or are going extinct.

There is an old saying that reads something like this...."you should never defecate in your own nest." Our nest is this planet, and we have compromised its ability to self-correct and heal. What is really sad is we are talking about colonizing other planets to ruin as well. I belong to the Sierra Club. I am proud that we as an organization have begun to understand that human problems correlate with each other, some highly, some not as highly. The Sierra Club sends me petitions and notices about human problems that, on the surface, seem to have little to do with wilderness. But, through analyzing issues, the Sierra Club has realized that human issues and wilderness issues are inextricably related.

I read the other day that Shell Oil had removed their membership from ALEC because they felt that ALEC's position on climate change and fossil fuels was so ludicrously out of touch that Shell could not support it with a straight face. Corporate citizenship is essential to the preservation of wilderness and the survival of all species, including ours. Our faith in technology as an agent of change in our world is excessive. Technology is a tool that can carry our goals forward only if our attitudes for healing the Earth are adjusted and changed. We need to think as do the Indigenous Peoples, seven generations ahead of our own.

For those of you who doubt the reality of our ancestors observing us, I will share a story. On my honeymoon with my wife, we made it a point to visit many of the sacred temples of the Hawaiian people. We approached them respectfully, and felt welcome to enter each one. In Kona, there is a resort hotel which has Ahu'ena Heiau, the personal worship site for King Kamehameha I onsite. The morning before we flew back to Montana, there was a protest by the Hawaiian People at Ahu'ena Heiau. The hotel was gracious in their approach to Hawaiians and visitors alike, opening the temple to anyone who wanted to enter. 

Ahu'ena Heiau 

'Heiau-Kona, Hawaii

When we started to pass through the gate to the Heiau, I immediately felt a feeling I have only had in a few sacred sites before. The essential message I felt was "get out, leave immediately." We turned around and departed. I had experienced a similar feeling in New Mexico at the Stone Lion Shrine and Ceremonial Cave in Bandelier National Monument, but I have been to dozens of ancient sites in New Mexico, Hawaii, and the Western USA, and only had that feeling once before Ahu'ena. It is important that we remain open to these intuitive experiences, as there is so much we don't see, hear, or comprehend in this world. I fear that as we become more detached from sacred spaces and places, our ability to hear messages from our Earth and the world we don't experience with our senses is lost. For this reason, every child, no matter how poor, how urbanized, and how technologically involved, MUST learn to hear the messages our wild Earth has for him or her. Our very survival as a species depends on it.

Text copyright 2015 by Peter Reum-All rights reserved

Monday, August 3, 2015

Call the Sheriff - Volume 1: Adult Child and New Album by Peter Reum

Call the Sheriff - Volume 1: Adult Child and New Album 

by Peter Reum

The Beach Boys - Brother (BW - 1977)

Adult Child

Side 1:

1. Life Is For The Living
2. Hey Little Tomboy
3. Deep Purple
4. H.E.L.P. Is On The Way
5. It's Over Now
6. Everybody Wants To Live

Side 2:

2. Shortenin' Bread
3. Lines
4. On Broadway
5. Games Two Can Play
6. It's Trying To Say
7. Still I Dream Of It

Bonus tracks:
Side 1

7. Mony,Mony
8. Ruby Baby
9. Be My Baby

Side 2
1. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
8. Calendar Girl

The period of roughly 1976 through the autumn of 1977 was a period where Brian Wilson wrote a number of songs for therapeutic purposes during the first period of Eugene Landy's treatment regimen, as well as afterward. A number of cassette tapes from those sessions emerged in collectors' circles, and a few unscrupulous recipients made the tapes available to music bootleggers, who pressed the initial vinyl bootleg  issues.

The Adult Child tapes were relatively good fidelity compared with other studio material circulating at the time.  It was most likely inevitable that the bootleg would be issued. The Beach Boys bootleg market was terribly small. It is likely that this particular lp was an edition of 500 or 1000 copies. The cover was taken from the Jasper Dailey photos, and given that I owned them, was mildly distressing to me to see. Adult Child was a combination of Brian Wilson 1976 and 1977 compositions and productions, oldie covers/productions, and "cold tracks," which dated back to the 1970  period, also produced by Brian back then. Dick Reynolds, arranger of the traditional Christmas Music side of the Beach Boys Christmas Album, reunited with Brian to perform his magic on 4 songs on the projected track lineup, Deep Purple, Life Is For the Living, It's Over Now, and Still I Dream of It.

Collectors did not have immediate access to these types of records, unless they "knew someone who knew someone."  Suffice to say that this album retailed for a higher amount than the usual legal Beach Boys albums of that time, perhaps 4 to 5 times as much. What made these types of records so irritating to artists was that they heard from fans that such records existed, and in some cases had them brought to autograph sessions. It was only human for recording artists to ask how much the autograph seeker paid for the bootleg, and when the owner said $20 or $25, the artists were justifiably upset. Most artists did not realize that such bootlegs were very limited, and assumed that they were losing thousands of dollars in royalties.

That Adult Child still has a few tunes that remain unreleased is somewhat interesting. Life Is For the Living, Deep Purple, Everybody Wants to Live, Shortnin' Bread (Brian Lead Vocal), Lines, On Broadway, and It's Trying to Say (aka "Baseball") are still officially unreleased. Also unreleased are the bonus tracks Mony Mony, the 1976 Ruby Baby with a Brian lead vocal, and Be My Baby and Calendar Girl, both from 1978. This album does not come up for sale often but is relatively affordable as Beach Boys bootlegs go, in roughly the $20 to $40 range, based on averages from auction sites.

The Beach Boys - Making Waves 1

"New Album"

Side 1:

1. My Diane
2. Marilyn Rovell
3. Hey Little Tomboy
4. Ruby Baby
5. You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
6. Sherry She Needs Me
7. Come Go With Me

Side 2:

1. Mony,Mony
2. On Broadway
3. Sea Cruise
4. Help Is On The Way
5. Games Two Can Play
6. When Girls Get Together
7. Honkin' Down The Highway (Billy Hinsche lead vocal)

This bootleg was issued as one bootlegger's best guess of what a second album contemplated after 15 Big Ones might have been. Needless to say, there were a number of tracks that Brian cut that were therapeutic in nature, with the idea being that he would ease back into a producing role as his mental health improved. This record was issued as part of a projected four part series of bootlegs that were supposed to be issued in 1982. Suffice to say that the lineup is an amalgamation of a number of periods of Beach Boys in the studio ranging from 1970 to 1977.  My Diane, Marilyn Rovell, You've Lost That Loving Feelin', and Sherry She Needs Me date from late 1976 and early 1977.  The track to Sherry She Needs Me is the 1965 Brian produced track, and has a sandpaperish 1976 Brian vocal on it. It was issued on Made In California.  Brian's My Diane and Marilyn Rovell are catchy and melodic, but reflect his conflicted feelings at that time.

Oldies are mostly from 1976, and many of them are 15 Big Ones outtakes. The version of Honkin' Down the Highway presented here appears to have a Billy Hinsche guide vocal on it, which was replaced by Alan Jardine on the Beach Boys Love You album.The version of Come Go With Me on this bootleg is the quirky but charming Brian version from the 15 Big Ones time period. Sea Cruise is the outtake from 15 Big Ones that eventually appeared on Ten Years of Harmony. When Girls Get Together is from 1969 and 1970, and is inferior to both cassette versions and the Keepin' The Summer Alive version. Mony Mony is a terrific 15 Big Ones outtake that rocks hard, and remains unissued legally. The remaining songs are virtually the same as the Adult Child versions of these tunes, but in inferior sound quality, which is a BIG problem for this record overall.

Copies of this bootleg typically are sold for $20, plus or minus $5. The album is probably only suitable for completists, and I feel sorry for them having to shell out for it. It has justly faded into obscurity, and I considered it a ripoff when I saw it for the first time. It is not worth the plastic/vinyl recycle value of it at the junkyard. 

Copyright 2015 by Peter Reum - All Rights Reserved


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Carlsbad Caverns-New Mexico's Natural Wonder by Peter Reum

The Southwestern United States is mainly known for the Indigenous people, past and present, the dearth of fresh water in rapidly growing cities, and perhaps for the large distribution of defense related organizations that are headquartered there. There are federal sites under strictly enforced entry regulations, where trespassers will be shot if discovered inside the boundaries of such reservations. The White Sands Missle Range alone is larger than several of the Eastern United States. The large number of National Parks and Monuments in New Mexico, Arizona, and West Texas are unique among the sites in the National Park System for their diversity and Pre-Columbian origin.

The drive to some of these National Parks and Monuments is long, and in some cases, far off the Interstate Highway System grid. New Mexico and Arizona are fortunate to have two natural wonders that are as spectacular as any others in the world. Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks are one-of-a-kind wonders that attract visitors from around the world. Carlsbad Caverns is situated in the Guadalupe Mountains of Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, and is a Park that takes a special effort to get acquainted with. These mountains are the remnant of a large reef of what was once a large inland sea. This feature is most visible at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, some 70 miles south of Carlsbad Caverns.

Texas's Highest Point-El Capitan Peak Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The foothills of the Guadalupes are the home of the spectacular caverns grouped under the name Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The main cave, Carlsbad Cavern, is situated about 27 miles south wet of Carlsbad, New Mexico, a great place to use as a base for exploration of the region. The caverns include a few caves requiring Park Ranger guiding services. The main cave was once a mine for bat feces, known as an excellent base for fertilizer. The main cave may be accessed by riding an elevator some 800 feet down to the entrance to The Big Room, the largest single cave chamber in the Western Hemisphere, or by hiking to the main cave entrance, a short distance from the visitor center. In the summer Mexican Freetail Bats enter the cave at sunrise and leave at sunset, making for an experience that is spectacular, if a bit scary.

Natural Entrance to Carlsbad Cavern

Park rangers await potential cavern hikers at an amphitheater near the Natural Entrance and inform people that the 1.7 mile walk is a strenuous hike, due to the fact that the trail, not suitable for wheelchair users descends the equivalent of walking down 830 feet of stairs, the equivalent of most of the Empire State Building. Despite the warning, this overweight hiker and his family elected to do the hike. The first quarter mile of the trail is incredibly steep and reeks of bat guano. The combination of those facts probably dissuades some folks from carrying on, but not our family. We kept going, and the trail got darker, and the reward was a series of beautifully lit cave formations that are a marvelous revelation for anyone who has not spent lots of time spelunking. Here are a few to whet your  appetite....

These photos are shot by various persons who followed the main trail from the Natural Entrance. The sheer scale and variety of formations stupifies the viewer as one vista closes and another opens. The temptation is to rush through the cavern, due to the number of hikers who are in better physical condition, and who walk through at a brisk pace. For those of us who are not as fit, there are numerous benches and other places along the main trail to stop, rest, catch your breath, and enjoy the incredible formations. Another tip for those who don't regularly hike is bring water. The walk through the Main Entrance to the Big Room Junction is rigorous. You may want to start in the morning, when your legs are fresher, and your  morning meal is digested. The cavern temperature is brisk, and a light windbreaker may help.

When you finally get to the intersection of the Main Entrance trail and the Big Room Trail, there are restrooms and a lunch room to refresh yourself and use the facilities. Some folks may be tempted to ride the elevator to the Visitor Center at this point, and that may be a good choice if you are simply beyond exhaustion. For the rest of us, The Big Room awaits. The chamber known as the Big Room is so large that one is hard pressed to get a perspective on its size. Suffice to say, it is eight plus acres of cavern, and the whole trail through it is a mile long and takes an hour to traverse. As mentioned above, the Big Room is the largest known chamber in the Western Hemisphere. Here are some gain perspective, I have added a few photos with people appearing in them.

Big Room-Carlsbad Caverns National Park (previous 6 photographs)

Again, taking this relatively level walk slowly I highly recommend. The water you drink will help keep leg muscles from cramping up as badly as they might otherwise. The use of photography is governed by certain regulations which must be observed. Part of the Big Room walk is okay for wheelchair and scooter users, but consulting with a ranger is highly recommended.

No mention of Carlsbad Caverns is complete without a discussion of the amazing cave known as Lechuguilla Cave. It was discovered in the 1970s by spelunkers who noticed the cave "breathing" as they walked by. Lechuguilla Cave is the seventh longest  cave in the world, and is some 1604 feet deep. The 1980s brought  detailed mapping of the cave and recognition of the unique formations of the cave led to it being set aside as an underground wilderness, not open to casual visitors. Lechuguilla Cave's dimensions make the Carlsbad Cavern a second place finisher for size and features. The total length of Lechuguilla Cave is 134.6 miles (216.6 km). Here are some photographs from Lechuguilla Cave.

Photographs from Lechuguilla Cave-Carlsbad Caverns National Park-New Mexico USA

Finally, for the intense wild people, hiking and camping is allowed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Permits are required. The best seasons are fall or spring. The numerous poisonous animals that make the back country their home are in their lairs, and one is unlikely to encounter rattlesnakes, scorpions, or other unpleasant critters. Here are a few photos of the desert in the Park...

Scenes from the Carlsbad Caverns National Park backcountry

The closest airports to Carlsbad Caverns are the Albuquerque Sunport and El Paso International Airport. As may be seen from the map below, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is quite far away from major cities.

Map of Carlsbad Caverns National Park-New Mexico USA

Location of Carlsbad Caverns National Park-New Mexico USA

Carlsbad Caverns National Parks is designated a World Heritage Site and visitation details may be found here: Carlsbad Caverns National Park Website

Don't pass up the chance to visit a true wonder of the world.....