Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Curious Case of Doris Payne

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  "Ask any officer - have ever I been arrested and lied?"  So said Doris Payne, notorious jewel thief, speaking to WGCL in Atlanta in 2015, after she had been arrested - again, for stealing.  She claims she's always honest about it if she's caught...and also says she's really, really good at stealing.

  Ms. Payne has been caught again, stealing from Wal-mart with eighty bucks of stuff in her purse.  She's 86!  She first thought of supporting herself with this skill set in her 20's, and has made quite a reputation for herself ever since.

  And here's a fascinating thing:  if the opening statement is indicative, she views herself as an honest  thief, further proving Dale Carnegie's maxim that "no man thinks himself wrong."  In fact, it seems like most people think themselves superior in some way or another, elevating themselves among their fellows by some small merit, completely ignoring the dire situation that everyone is in.  What good is a fancy suite if it's on the Titanic?

  The things we do to ourselves!  WOW!  We all know someone like Doris Payne, although perhaps not as dramatic.  I run into it all of the time!  But after I smugly shake my head at how people like her fabricate their realities, and  am glad that I don't, the smile fades from my face...but what if I do?  Ahhh!  Off to do work!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Division vs. Polarization

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  Good morning, and happy Tuesday!  If you stop by to visit, you'll immediately notice that I've gone overboard with the vinyl record collection.  Wait a few minutes, and at the top of the hour, your eyes might widen a bit at the menagerie of sounds of the assorted clocks.  And now there's the newspapers.  I should probably cancel a subscription, but I am having a blast!  There's paper EVERYWHERE.  And it's really not that  bad - just a daily subscription to the Wall Street Journal, and a Sunday Washington Post.  It's been illuminating to read the two simultaneously, and to try to extract my own conclusions from the rustling print. It's also a bit frustrating. Here's a thought for today:  Are differences a problem, and if so, how are they best solved?

  Case in point...The right headline on the Sunday post stated Trump's approval rating takes hit.  Examining the story further, there's a graph outlining the percent who approve of the way Trump is handling his job.  Between April and now, the percentage has dropped from 13% to 11% among democrats, 38% to 32% among independents, and 84% to 82% among republicans....with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. This is from the Washington Post-ABC News poll July 10-13, among 1,001 adults.  So.....yeah...Not exactly a shocker.

  At first glance, I was struck by the polarization of views.  82% to 11% is a pretty big gap.  But thinking further, is this a bad thing?  If you poll the people who like the Orioles vs the Yankees, you're going to get numbers like this.  And back to governance, complicated problems require many ideas.  But - when we believe that the people who entertain opposing ideas are divided from us, are the enemy...I'd assert that's a bad thing.  Generalizing schools of thought, globbing ideas together and then making it into a pinata...MAN it's bumming me out!  I find it not only intellectually lazy, self-righteous, and annoying, but also harmful.  And, it makes a lot more work for the rest of us, trying to figure out where we stand in the world, sorting through the hysteria at the Post or the wasteland of empathy that is the Wall Street Journal's editorial page.

  I'd suspect that those polling numbers would be different if we listened to each other a bit more.  At least, mine have been, and I've been learning a lot from you all.

  SO, what to do?  I don't know...But I'm thinking that, for me, the poll numbers tell me more than ever it's important to have friends from all sides.  I want to be a part of a crew that is a pollster's nightmare, making squiggly lines.  I don't want to try to reach a consensus -  that would destroy many worthy schools of thought.  But I want everyone to be welcome at my table, and boy we'd have some good discussions, and hopefully few agreements.  So, let's start today!  The polarization can be eased with a return to civility, restoring ideas to the ideas shelf, and realizing that it's our fellow citizens that think them. But BOO YANKEES!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Street Views

The Signalman show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  Hey there, and happy Monday!  Wow, what a time in Richmond, VA!  Embarked on my monthly trek to The River City to DJ for the retired soldiers at the VA home, host a broom guitar-building clinic at Sam Ash music, and of course to play some street music in Carytown, the art district of the city.  Here's a little vignette for ya:


"I want somebody to tell me, what is the soul of a man?"  A dollar for each of us sat in the pot, our voices gathering in the fading day, the alley behind me adding a streetlife symphony echo.  Blind Willie Johnson songs sound best at dusk when there's only an indifferent audience shuffling on down the street, away, away, tepid.  His "real kazoo", not a plastic one like the kids use, added to his harmonica and cigar box guitar as we both strained to pay tribute to the long-gone bluesman, dead like the noon long passed.

  The song ended.  Time passed as it always does.  I sat next to my friend who left his legs in Fallujah, as the people walked by above us on the dirty sidewalk.  We talked about war and life and PTSD and helping family and target practice and fear and girls and a system that failed.  His girlfriend showed up, he went on down the line, and I headed back north, haunted.  There is no moral to the story...no tidy lesson found in the confusion of the cigarette butts we sat among.  And that's the point.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekend Challenge: Look 'em in the eye

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

Good morning, and HAPPY FRIDAY!  Whew, it's gonna be a scorcher today, and hey, that's a good way to kick off the weekend.  So, are you ready for the WEEKEND CHALLENGE?  This one is simple, cheap, and might change your perspective.

  It's called..."Look 'em in the eye."

  Here's what's up:  As a creative fella, I play music in a lot of different ways, one of them being street music.  It's the most colorful gig I've ever had.  Sometimes, I'll do little street music tours, traveling by train.  It is a blast, and also decidedly unconventional. Last year, I was traveling around, and since I was carrying an amp, had my suitcase with me the whole day, leading to the misconception that I was homeless.  Before you say "Oh, the NERVE of the privileged", the lady who made the assumption was homeless herself.  So there I was, a foot in both worlds by perception, not by economic situation.  And boy, was it illuminating.  Traveling from Charlotte, NC, to Richmond, VA, I took an uber from the train station to...the grocery store.  It was right by my next street music spot, and I was gonna get lunch. And still rattled by this perception people seemed to have of a traveler with a suitcase, I quickly regretted my decision.  I've never felt so invisible as walking through the store, trying to avoid knocking over any of the wine bottles with my luggage, my guitar on my back and a gulf between me and my fellow man all around.

  Perhaps I was tired from traveling, and perhaps I was being a drama queen.  But, the street music has given me a new perspective on how we tune out that which we're confused by, saddened by, threatened by, and obviously don't fully understand.  And it takes a real toll to be ignored on the street and in the store.  And I'm only out there for a few hours at a time! So, this weekend - engage with someone who might feel isolated like that.  Look them in the eye, ask their name, never pity them, talk music or movies, and commiserate about the summer heat.  Build a bridge...and have a rockin' weekend!


Friday, July 14, 2017

The Power of the Question

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  Hey there, and good morning!  I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time planning.  I sat on my porch the other evening, planning the next phase of my musical endeavors as part of an occasional check in.  Entrepreneurial waters require frequent scans of charts, philosophies, and thoughts.

  And man, it's easy to get confused as to the proper order of the thought processes.  Do market conditions dictate artistic direction, is it the other way 'round, what's available, what should be available, what should be created, and so on until the thinker's brain...or at least mine...ends up in a knot.  So, I corralled my thoughts into a series of questions, and then distilled them further to a single sentence that is scrawled on a yellow posty note stuck to my bathroom mirror.

"What is the real deal?"

It's just stuck to the glass, hanging out.  I'm letting it marinate, enjoying the space this question-based planning is giving my thought process.  When I answer that, I will know what the next step is.  Give it a shot - it's cool!

As Rage Against The Machine would say..."I won't stop, 'cause I know the power of the question!"

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inky Lines

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

Yo!  Happy Tuesday!  It's 7-11!  Get yo' slushie or whatever it's called at 7-11!

  Isn't ordering things online the coolest?  With a few taps, it shows up.  Well, if you like THAT...you should try getting the paper.  WOW it's like Santa every single day!  I found a slammin' Groupon deal for home delivery of The Washington Post, and after a few weeks of enjoying that, have added a daily trial of The Wall Street Journal to balance things out.  It was Garrison Keilor's essay on why a print paper is superior that got me interested in the experience, and it's dope!  In addition to enjoying the hipster vibe of actually reading the paper, walking out to the driveway and getting the paper, and having newspaper around the house to smirk at saying "oh yeah, I was reading that the other day", it's reminded me of something interesting:

  What's the line between seriousness of a subject, and seriousness of oneself?  Both publications seem to erase that line, and perhaps I draw it too harshly, not crediting myself when I should, hiding behind a mask of joviality.  I'm guessing that, like anything else, it's a balancing act.  Food for thought!  Now go away, I'm being a big boy and reading the paper.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Your World Improvement Fund

The Signalman Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

Happy Monday, and happy Duran Duran appreciation day!  Gonna be spinnin' a few of their albums later fo' sho!

  SO, anyone do the weekend challenge?  This week's was to give something away to someone worthy.  My dad had given me twenty bucks recently for this purpose, so I set out to give it away.   I spent the twenty by giving a few bucks to a homeless lady who's sign mentioned cancer treatment, another fellow at a light that just asked, and the rest on buying pizza for a dad and his three sons that came to buy my shed from Craigslist.  Hard work, even if paid for, deserves pizza!

 I found that with a mission, and a small budget, it opened up a new genre for me...it's not home improvement, when you go to the store to spend money to make your house just a little bit better...it's world improvement, when you go just a bit out of your way to spruce up mankind.

  Yes, to be sure, it's a simplified look at a nuanced topic.  But, I've been reading a lot of opinions about the healthcare debate recently, with big words like "GDP" and "percentages."  So, if I can increase my world improvement fund  to just a fraction of my home improvement fund...why, if nothing else, I'll be better off.  It's nice to help each other. And that's worth something.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Weekend Challenge

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

Hey there, and HAPPY FRIDAY!  I'm gonna pop some taaags, only got twenty dollas in my pocket...

  No, seriously, I have a twenty burning a hole in my conscience.  My dad gave it to me with the instructions to give it away in a good deed of my choice.  I haven't yet.  But this weekend, I'm gonna try!  And, I'd like to invite you to join me in the first Signalman Show WEEKEND CHALLENGE!  This weekend's challenge:  Give at least a dollar away to a worthy cause or person.  Tweet me @DontJoshMe or hit me up on Instagram @JoshUrban and let me know what you did.  Now, off to see what I can do about this twenty...I'm thinking I might get some extra fun out of this if I break the bill.  I get to be Oprah twenty times in a row.  "EVERYONE GETS A DOLLAR!"

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Operation Rinse Cycle

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

Hey there, and Happy Thursday!  You know I deal in metaphors, notice inspiration in daily life, and seek conflicting points of view to make us all think...BUT, don't want to get too Dr. Phil 'round here!

  SO, we have a practical episode, a down to earth broadcast...my brother was right, you can go on a pressure-washing spree.  The fellas lent me their pressure washer, and MAN, my house is a different color.  The sidewalk has transformed.  The gutters are as white as the dancers at a Republican convention, and almost as awkward.  It feels good to take care of stuff!  I drove to the gas station for more fuel, bedraggled, damp, and covered with paint chips.  The dusk set in, and I got a tactical flashlight for a tactical special forces pressure washing operation...we could call it "Rinse Cycle."  It was quite dramatic.  Try it!  You'll love it!  And those neighbor kids will stay off your lawn for good as they nurse water burn and remember a lesson learned.  It's operation rinse cycle, and we don't fool around!

Happy 4th!

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  Good morning, welcome to the show, and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!  If you're listening, and don't happen to live in America (cue the James Brown song), today's the day to blow stuff up and eat lots, celebrating our independence from Britain.  Or, as my buddy Skip would put it, the first Brexit.  I'm ready to rock, and wearing my "support your right to arm bears" shirt, too.  It's got a bear with a shotgun on it.

  Seriously speaking, though, it was this day in 1776 when they delivered one of the best mission statements ever, looking at it as an entrepreneur.  The idea was so good, that 241 years later, we're still here, and we're still observing the anniversary of that bold move.  Makes me want to think bigger.  My current concern:  will the fridge leak onto the new floor I just put in?  Hmm...gotta aim higher!  Have a great 4th of July, everyone!  I'm gonna go DJ for some old people and have a dance party with them.  Seems like a good start.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Road metaphors

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

Such a metaphor, man!  They are EVERYWHERE!  So, been working on this kitchen floor over the weekend, and as you know, any project requires endless trips to Home Depot.  I hopped in the car...again...and being my father's son, took the scenic route.  I found myself on a shaded road, a relief from the nuclear July sun, but stuck between someone going moderately fast, and someone who wanted to go really fast.  It was totally like Life!  I hurtled along the winding pavement, glancing in my rearview mirror, and realized that we all have these things that drive us, just like a mental tailgater, and are even more dangerous...but they usually aren't obvious in any mirror at first glance.  Seems worth it to keep looking, though!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Morning Show is a blog companion to the podcast audio

  Good morning, and Happy Friday...and thank you for a great month, June!  Got a big podcasting project over the weekend...that is, putting in a new kitchen floor.  I'm sure I'll have some metaphors about cutting three times and measuring once and building a platform to stand on.  Some things are just made for examples it seems!

  And already it's started.  I went into the crawlspace today.  I've been raised to be a handy dude, but man, given the fact that gigantic spiders have been finding their way into my house, how warm and humid it is, and that the snake that lives under my porch seems to have a back parlor with the motto "we put the crawl in crawlspace", well...I wasn't too keen on checking out the shape of the kitchen floor from underneath.  I almost called my brother to ask if he thought the floor would be in good shape.  He doesn't even live here!  The things we do to avoid direct confrontation with scary places and things that unsettle us.  I remember my grandfather asking my opinion of the safety of aluminum wiring in his house.  I was 11 years old.  

  So, donning some old mud clothes, I lowered myself in to the subconscious of my house.  Interestingly, there were less spiders than I had imagined.  Make of that what you will.

Have a great weekend!