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Vance Gilbert

Wheelchair Tennis, Writing Checks, and Vet Stories

Kickstarter or the Like - Fan Funding My Next Album

Before I get going on really ranting, I am announcing my pre-announcement for the announcement for my fan funding campaign. I’ll be asking for funding and giving away as premiums: time, music, lyric sheets, a guitar, decade-old glossies of me with long hair, and even the original pair of red and white shoes (mounted on a trophy stand). I’m going to shoot for $20-25,000, which splits up to look like 60% - 40% album recording/production and radio/media promotion respectively. Many of you have said that you are in whenever I decide to pull the trigger. Thanks for that. I’ll be hitting you up in the next few weeks.

I won’t lie, I have some unmixed tracks that I have already done, and they are from another planet good so far. Maybe I’ll post them when I’m more comfortable birthing those babies…

In the meantime...lemme rant about...

Wheelchair Tennis -

You wanna see heart, guts, athleticism, and tactical maneuvering in sports? Watch Wheelchair Tennis. I was enthralled, even with the 2 bounce rule these athletes use. And I’ll tell you what - even with one bounce in effect I’m guessing they’d kick my ass, and I used to be pretty good, #1 ranked in the 14 and under class in Willingboro NJ. in the '70's. OK, that’s not a huge city, but the point is that these folks could wipe most of us with our Nikes, Sauconys and A-Dogs off of the court.

From a wheelchair.

And after about 30 minutes of that, the station went to a Women’s Semi-final, with all the squealing and thumb-out-to-the-wrong-side-of-the-hand fist-pumping and ... ugh. No misogyny at all intended, but damn, Tennis Channel had a real opportunity here, and they went about just less than halfway towards showing the true inspirational epicenter of sport.

Writing Checks -

Like everyone else, paying bills means money out which generally means eccch. The money out part isn’t the greatest, but once I have an old rerun of something on, a rootbeer, and some chips, I quite enjoy writing out my checks. Every once in a while, on the place on the little slip of paper that goes with the check which I guess is the “bill” part, in the place where it says “would you rather pay electronically” blah blah blah, I actually write “No thanks, I like doing it like this”.

Next, the licked envelope, the stamp, then my return address label - which come from Habitat For Humanity about once a year, even with my meager donation. Then to the P.O., hopefully coinciding with banking or something else I am doing so that I can keep my day all happening in a holistic and sustainable fashion. Job well done, Vance. Job well done.

Why do I like it so much? Because I am physically paying these bills with money that I’ve made singing and playing the guitar. Sometimes I want to wave my checkbook in the air like a little stapled naugahyde flag for my Mom and Dad to see that I didn’t have to stay a line cook in a restaurant in Harvard Square. Or maybe gently flip-book the pages in the face of the naysayers from my past who said I’d end up as a line cook in a restaurant in Harvard Square. I am a tactile man, and I love that sense of accomplishment that runs up my fingers from whatever pen I use to write these checks, almost as much as I like that feeling when I’m playing the guitar.

I made this money doing that thing, yes I did. Bless me.

Veteran Story Encounter #1 -

It was a long week at the Rocky Mountain Song School, as I had taught 4 days at altitude. A man and his lady friend came up to me as I was walking in for an evening session of helping with the open mic. After greeting, this ensued:

(him): “Love your work! I’m hopin’ you have a new album, and one without all the other extra instrumental hoo hahh”

(me): “Thanks (I think). Where you from?”

(him): “Oh, kinda all over now - I cruise the country in my RV and bother all my friends, but most recently a little time in the V.A.

(me, sticking my hand out, we shake): “Wow. Thanks for serving. (I say that to every and any veteran I have contact with). Where? ‘Nam?”

(him, proudly): “Yessir.”

(me, exhausted, and too stupid to let it be): “Thanks again. Sorry your talents and time were spent chasing around an enemy that didn’t have to be one”

(him, eyebrows up with “heard that before”): “Well, my friend Freedom ain’t Free”

(Really? That line? The one that is as irreproachable, as inarguable, as immovably etched into our consciousness, the one that is as ending to any and all reasoned discourse or argument as “because the Bible says so” or my Mother’s “Because *I* said so”? That line?)

(me, exhausted, stupid, hardheaded and now insane): “Well it should be. It’s men that’s the problem. It’s men and our dicks that cause war. We call it protecting ways of life and resources and ideals, but we just follow our dicks, because our dicks want more, more food, more water, more women, and protection from other men’s dicks that want the same. Men on all sides of conflict. Men suck.”

(him, eyebrows waaaay up,):
“Well, I’m proud as to how we have answered the call to war over and over. Like when World War 2 broke out, for example, we were right there…”

(me, finally leveling out to become less altitude-induced hypoxia driven and more normal but still an argumentative dickweed): Actually, that’s not true….

(him) ...whaa?

(me): We were not “right there”. We were quite isolationist at the start of World War 2. Americans wanted nothing to do with war. WW2 started in fall of 1939, and we were dragged into it at the end of 1941. Otherwise, no, initially, as a people, the U.S wanted nothing to do with war.

(crickets...)

(him): Oh. well yeah, I guess you’re right about that.

We shook again and the Veteran and his friend wandered off to the open mic as I did. I had won this argument. Kinda. But did I have to be such a historically correct asswipe to get my point across? My point being that this conservative, tobacco-scented, tough, jingoistic, otherwise good-natured veteran Martin picker didn’t have his historic facts all in a row to defend his hard-lined opinion? Couldn’t I have just left it at “thank you for serving”, knowing that the absolute air surrounding these different ideals could remain as grey as both of our beards?

Veteran Story Encounter #2 - the Story of Harry Smith

I ended up in Pefferlaw Canada, about 65 miles due north of Toronto, at the end of August at the Eaglewood Folk Festival. What a delight this festival is! Everything is small about it - the site, the number of eateries, haberdasheries, and other victualers, the number of performers, even the turnout. But it’s nicely sustained. You get to talking to folks pretty readily, as there’s really no place to hide from the small crowd, and that’s fine.
So this scruffy, skinny, banjo-playing fellow comes up to me after I had been test driving a 6-stringed banjo at an instrument sales booth, and we get to talking about planes, war, and color. He tells me this story, and I paraphrase:

“Yeah, I grew up outside of Hamilton, Ontario. My dad died when I was young. My mom started seeing this Black man named Harry - Harry Smith was his name. Did I say he was a Black man, eh? From Detroit. They never got married, but Harry moved in with my mom. I guess you’d say that they were partners or some such, eh? “

“Harry was the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet, and just great to my mom. He was great to me too. Yet the strangest times with Harry were around Remembrance Day (Canada’s Veteran’s Day, same day and sensibility, different name). Harry would be quiet all morning, then put on a Maple Leaf pin, go to a bar, come home, and be quiet and subdued the whole day. Now, I get the quiet, but I never understood why this Black man from Detroit would be wearing the Maple Leaf pin.”

“Finally, when I was a bit older, I asked Harry why he wore the Canadian pin on Remembrance Day rather than the US Stars and Bars. He told me that during World War 2 he was about to enlist to serve, and he knew that the US Armed Forces had Blacks doing menial things like cleaning, meals, and other support stuff. So he came here to Canada and served, equal to any Canadian, no matter what color and such, alongside any other Canadian, eh? At the end of the war, he thought of going back to the States, but Canada offered him citizenship as thanks for serving. He never looked back. Met my mom some years after, and that was that.

Sure was sad when old Harry died. Man, I liked him a lot, and he was so good to my mom...So what’d you think of that six-stringed banjo you were messing with over there, eh?”

Syria -

Government gasses their own people. Inhuman. Heinous. Do we go in or not? Is it reason enough for war? Sure. Is it any more reason than dismemberment by shelling or atomic weapons? Maybe. Do videos of writhing and gasping civilians trump pics of those missing body parts or first-hand descriptions of the napalm burned? Maybe. I can’t find one instance in history in which a war was started for no particular reason. There are always reasons for war. I think that’s what makes me so sad. Someone will always find a reason for war.

LinkedIn -

Please stop. Stop. Please stop endorsing me for skills. I play, sing, write. I know these things already. Stop endorsing me. Stop endorsing me. Stop. Stop it. Or give me a gig. Or money for this next album. If you can’t do that, stop endorsing me for stuff. Stop it. It’s enough that I thought, for 2 years, that it was “Linked Lynn”, as I didn’t realize that the last two letters spelled “in”? I thought to myself, “what is a LinkeLinn? Is it my job to add the missing letters? Will I get gigs based on my ability to spell “Linked Loan” or “Link educated line dancers?”

Nothing. Nothing from Linke or Lynne. I get nothing from him or her. You’re killing my mailbox. I’m sure a more savvy individual can figure out how to stop the “endorsements”, maybe even quit the thing altogether. Even Facebook’s over-busy, infuriatingly, unrepentantly inconsequential non-real world ass (“Oh, I fried an egg, and the yellow in the middle looks like my happy sunny day ” posted by blah blah..) and its older brain-numbed-by-early-bad-bytes cousin MySpace have greater purpose.

Maybe I’l make my own site called StinksAt. Or WeSuckAtIt. It will be populated by folks who proclaim to not have a particular skill set or another, but would love to try said new skill set on you or your company. How’d you like that?

In the meantime, in LinkedIn, I believe I have found another reason for war...
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updated: 3 years ago