Thursday, December 31, 2009

Updated Studio

Just finished setting up my Christmas gift, a Creation Station studio desk in the new home studio. It was a breeze to set up considering I'm not a fan of DIY furniture assembly.

With this updated, streamlined setup I have a dedicated PC (3 GB RAM, dual-core Pentium 3 ghz, ole Windoze XP) running Pro Tools M-Powered v8 to dual 19" monitors (Acer and Samsung). The monitors are not quite matched, but it works fine for now. There's just enough room for the M-Audio AV40 studio monitors on the top shelf, which sound great actually slightly too bassy in this room. Also included are BeyerDynamic DT 770 Pro headphones (which I love) as well as a M-Audio Oxygen8 MIDI controller. The digital interface is a M-Audio Fast Track MobilePre due for an upgrade, and there's the trusty Samson mixer functioning as a headphone amp.

I'm already appreciating the cleaner setup, the desk and layout really are comfortable and I have a feeling I will spending alot more time in the studio!

Next step: researching acoustic treatment and dampening techniques.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Into No Man's Land

November 27, 2009

6 AM - Woke up with a cold and sore throat. Slept lightly, with strange dreams.

7:50 AM – Met tour guide at our hotel in Myung-dong, Seoul, to board a shuttle headed for the actual tour bus.

8:50 AM – Finally depart for tour after delays due to bus getting stuck in traffic.

9:15 AM – Stop at Grand Hilton Hotel for final passenger pickup in Seoul, and make a quick break for the restroom. We are only about 50 minutes drive to the DMZ from here.

9:30 AM – We pay for our tour tickets on a cool CDMA cellular-enabled portable credit card swiper. Need to learn more about how these work later.

10 AM – North Korea is viewable from the left (west) side of the bus, for the first time, through barbed wire on banks of the Imjin River. Foggy conditions prevent good visibility. Our tour guide, Jason, speaks English somewhat haltingly but is friendly and does his best to cheer everyone up. His comments on history and politics are fairly conservative and biased to South Korea not surprisingly.

10:15 AM – Arrive at Imjingak, a park created to host memorial services for South Korean families with parents in North Korea.

Here's Freedom Bridge.

Yes it's Popeye's, my favorite ;) Too bad it's not open yet.

At the gift shop, lo and behold - there's a very cool DMZ baseball cap. Have to get it!

Wonder if I should try to find a way to sell my CD here, but the clerk didn’t have much information.

Next stop: 3rd Infiltration Tunnel.

10:40 AM – A ROK (Republic of Korea) soldier boards our bus to check passports. Taking photos from the bus is no longer permitted as we enter the military-controlled area immediately adjacent to DMZ. Guide makes a half-joking comment about not moving if you step on a landmine, nobody laughs. FACT: Only about 35% of total landmines have been removed from the DMZ.

10:50 AM – Pass Unification Village, where about 500 South Korean citizens reside year-round, with major incentives including waiver of military service for male children. The environment appears increasingly desolate and foreboding as we near the 3rd Tunnel.

11 AM – Checkpoint for Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint trade initiative located just across the DMZ in North Korea, staffed with North Korean staff and largely South Korean management. Also passing the base for the 1st Military Division of South Korea.

11:05 AM – We arrive at the site of the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, discovered in 1975. It was discovered in 1978 and is just 52 km from Seoul, able to transport over 30,000 troops in about one hour. 3 additional tunnels have been located, including the 4th in 1990.

We descend a long walkway roughly equivalent of 25 stories underground to reach the actual tunnel. I have to bend my neck a lot because of the lowered height, and we are required to wear hard hats. At the end of the tunnel, there is barbed wire and a large video camera mounted prominently. If you cross over the MDL (Military Demarcation Line), you will be on North Korean soil.

It’s a draining walk, and my wife has some trouble climbing back up. What a relief to return to the surface.

11:45 AM – Reach the Dora Observatory, which enables viewing of the demarcation line through the middle of the DMZ as well as into the North Korean side.

Through the binoculars, we can see a lone NK soldier stationed at a guard tower. Seeing the barbed wire across the MDL leaves a deep impression.

12:15 AM – Leaving Dora Observatory. Picked up some souvenirs including a map of provinces in North Korea.

12:25 AM – Arrive at Dora Train Station, funded by South Korean citizen donations to connect the first railroad line between South and North Korea. The station is a fully functional modern facility, however there are no routes currently running into North Korea.

There are 2 ROK soldiers standing at attention, a good chance for photo opps.

From here, one can envision a brighter future where there are active routes running from South Korea through Dora, up to Pyongyang and then Sinuiju.

Souvenir visa stamps from Dorasan, marking the route from Pyongyang to Seoul.

12:50 AM - Begin the ride back to Seoul.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Heating Up

Like most Southern Californians this summer, the daily challenge is staying cool in all this heat. Especially on the weekends, since I just started a new day included a trip to the Grove and enjoying cool mist from the fountain, a relaxing dinner picnic, and some morning tennis which unfortunately caused a mild case of heat exhaustion for my girlfriend...On the music front, laying low while finances recover from the recent album release, looking to slowly build up more press and with any luck more shows in the fall. Getting back into my day job as a network engineer is a welcome break from the chaos and frustration of the LA music scene...But the songwriting bug is coming back and I expect to complete new material before the end of summer.

The deepening war in Lebanon continues to anger and defy common sense. Israel is courting disaster (once again) with the full complicity of Washington. Tomorrow's Bin Ladens sprout from the ashes of this worsening conflict, and it appears the US peace movement is on the sidelines...peace in our time, a lasting peace, will only come if we can oust these lying, warmongering thieves from their cowardly perches...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

North Korean Missile Test

In light of North Korea's recent missile test, I feel compelled to state for the record:

1. These missile tests are counter-productive towards building a peaceful Korean peninsula, and thus are to be condemned in the strongest terms. I support a nuclear-free Korean peninsula as part of a global path towards non-proliferation and eventual disarmament.

2. Diplomacy must prevail. Talks between the US and North Korea should commence immediately regarding this issue, as suggested recently by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind). The six-way process involving South and North Korea, U.S., China, Russia and Japan which has stalled should be reviewed.

3. The latest developments in this ongoing situation confirm my conviction that the future of the Korean peninsula must focus on a peaceful reunification of the divided Koreas.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

No Compromise with Fascists

Springtime is a risky time for me more often than not. In just the last few years I've had to battle the twin demons of dementia and incarceration, sometimes together...And somehow I had sensed that this spring I would have to surmount another major challenge, apart from completing my album and moving, only this time it turned out to be illness. Seems slightly laughable that it takes a brush with mortality for us to sit up, stop taking our life for granted and see the world with fresh vision. I definitely have a lot of living left to do and am not interested in fetishizing death or its near cousins. I'm also at a loss to comprehend how I could so completely neglect my physical and mental health in pursuit of an artistic goal with amorphous worth...At the same time I pledge to steadfastly refuse to allow the "world" or "society" to de-value my art built with real blood, sweat and tears based on its own indifference, bigotry or pedestrian ignorance. In other words, no more suffering artist. In 2006, DMZ is up in this beotch to get PAID.

Oh, and about the title...I've always felt one of the great liberatory acts was throwing out one's TV, or at least disconnecting cable/satellite/etc. One of the grand deceptive memes still in effect is that the mainstream media hold major responsibility in force-feeding and then repeatedly recuperating this monster masquerading as the Chief Executive. I NEVER hear the OTHER side (esp. wacko so-called Christian rightists) worry about appeasing "the left," "Democrats," "progressives" etc. Why are we always so willing to bend and compromise?!? I say, fight fire with fire and do to them what they've had coming FOR YEARS- demonize and dehumanize the adversary, there are LIVES and a WORLD at stake, PEOPLE, how much worse does it need to get before we just put our tools DOWN until CHANGE is DONE!! Some of us should start thinking about we do AFTER Bush gets impeached/bounced/whatevah because it really could happen by this time next year, and if we don't the OTHER side will already have a plan to pre-empt any window of opportunity, makes sense?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So Close

Putting the final touches on the new album. The last few weeks have been magnificently intense, testing the limits of my patience no doubt. But I anticipated a rough road, and the final product has been well worth the effort. Meanwhile, the world outside seems to continue a never-ending spin to oblivion. The latest announcement that the National Guard is being sent to militarize the US-Mexico border sends chills down my spine, there is a larger scheme playing out here. And, now this report that the Mexican state is attempting to liquidate the Zapatista leadership signals that south of the border there is a broadening state of insurgency. Could the ever-present LAPD choppers overhead in the last few days, not just at night but during the day, be connected?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sleepy Sunday

Resting peacefully at home during the quietest weekend in months. Still catching my breath from a ridiculously busy April that saw a change of residence (with last minute readjustments), road trip up to Sacramento/Bay Area, and regular rehearsals leading up to studio recording at the end of the month. Nothing can match the sense of accomplishment from completing this recording at breakneck pace, over the last week spending 5 of 6 days at Headroom Audio in West Hollywood with impressive results- 11 fully instrumented tracks from DMZ//38. Now is the time to look one step ahead to promotion and summer show booking, with the album days away from manufacturing. Only time will tell...