Thoughts on “The Machine Stops”by EM Forster

I am going to give away certain plot points and the ending but don’t think of this as a spoiler because it is easy to figure out the end
Since I am recommending audiobooks, I would suggest imagining it to be like a poem that lasts an hour and seventeen minutes instead of the traditional novel format
Since I have burned myself out on Zombie stuff on YouTube, I have turned to apocalypse and dystopian themes
I listened to apocalyptic book “The Scarlet Plague” by Jack London, which is set 60 years after a plague and it was pretty good
Then I saw one titled  “The Machine Stops” by EM Forster, which was published in Great Britain in 1909
This is a dystopian story

The general framework is a bit different from the Orwellian ideal of oppressive government
Not only is the authority figure replaced by a machine but the machine is a god instead of an oppressive force
It does have a little bit in common with “The Time Machine” by HG Wells but only in that they share a theory of de-evolution
Their society developed underground after the planet became uninhabitable and not from totalitarianism
They are not oppressed, they are captives of enforced luxury and have been that way for so long that the machine is truly their god
Their bible is a handbook on what all of the buttons and features of the cells do and how to ask them to be fixed
They recite passages from it when they have anxiety

The only thing that these people value is the exchange of ideas
Most of them never even leave their cells because they have audio/visual communication with the other cells as well as a database
That’s right, this book predicted the internet
And all these people do is give lectures to each other
The machine will provide everything else so that you can achieve a higher consciousness

These people abhor being in the proximity of others and especially hate touching each other
There is public transportation but people only use it when they are told to go to other  zones or to propagate the species
Nobody breaks any rules because there are none needed
The only punishment in this world is called “homelessness” which is basically expulsion to the surface, which means death
The only thing that gets you expelled is questioning the machine

I am not sure of how many other stories follow this tangent but this is the one that has the most relevance to our current situation and it is not hard to see the seeds of the future in today
This also puts me into conflict because I have always thought that my role in society was to do exactly what these people are doing
I have always perceived myself as a gatherer of knowledge and my role is to disseminate it
This image of myself really started to solidify when I started editing video
Just like most people and their dislike for hearing their own voices, I disliked my own lyrics because they sounded too trite
Instead, I chose to produce videos that made my points for me and also to have conversations that would expose people to new ideas that they didn’t have time to see because they were busy with normal life
Imagine how deflated I feel right now when faced with the possibility that I might be a symptom of the pacification of the human race

My sense of self worth is based on my intellect and my ability to perceive things that others do not
An artist is supposed to use all of their heightened awareness to give pleasant distraction to the masses while also serving as emotional support
It’s easy to entertain but you need to have empathy in order to provide support
The people in this future are all about the entertainment aspect but they have no impetus to provide support to each other
Not because they are competing for resources or some kind of enforced civility but because they have become disconnected from each other by generations of isolated convenience

They never do tell you what runs the machine but you find out what happens when the machine stops
Even though there are people in this world that I would not like to see suffer, there are parts of me that wish our machine would stop so that I would have a reason to get out of my cell
Even if it is to die in the poisonous air, it might be worth it to see what the sun looks like

 

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The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 4- “Go Home Ann”

The Ramones “Hard to Find” bonus tracks pt 1 “Street Fighting Man”
The Ramones “Hard to Find” Bonus Tracks pt 2- Smash You
The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 3 “Can’t Say Anything Nice”

In the previous installment, I covered how I had been buying the Beggar’s Banquet 12″ singles that the Ramones released in the UK.
I had started with the 12″ released after “Too Tough To Die”
I had enough money at the time to buy one of two 12″ singles that were released after the “Animal Boy” album
One contained the non album track “Can’t Say Anything Nice” and the other included “Go Home Ann”, whaich was on the single “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg”
bonzo-12-inch-single

I ended up buying the single with “Can’t” on it and never bothered to buy the one with “Ann” on it
I often wondered what that song sounded like
Now with the miracle of Youtube, I can
Now that I have heard it
What’s the Verdict?
I am glad I didn’t buy this after all

Obviously, not every song can be a good one and I’m prepared to ‘splain myself
Let’s start with the keyboard intro-
It is not often that you hear a Ramones song with keyboards and even less that the keyboards are in a minor key
The keyboards up until now have been to add an uplifting mood like “Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio” or “Come On Now”

But these are smaller and more creepy sounding keyboards
What is more distracting is that the rockin’ part of the song is at a slightly different tempo which doesn’t really transition well
There is one recognizable riff in the song which reminds me a lot of a riff in “This ‘Ain’t Havana”

This ambitious track was written by Dee Dee and Mickey Leigh (Joey’s Brother)
In the end, it doesn’t feel like a Ramones song

The RAMONE is a One Man Tribute Band that sees The Ramones as a cultural phenomenon and not just an influential rock n Roll band
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The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 3- “Can’t Say Anything Nice”

The Ramones “Hard to Find” bonus tracks pt 1 “Street Fighting Man”
The Ramones “Hard to Find” Bonus Tracks pt 2- Smash You

something-to-believe-in-12-inch-front
My previous posts have been about my first forays into non album tracks through the 12″ single and most specifically, the British releases on Beggar’s Banquet

Although “I Want You Around” is technically my first “non album” track, I had discovered current non album tracks on a 12″ single released for the current album “Too Tough To Die”
I thought both non album tracks were better than two tracks that made it to the album.
I had only owned Rocket To Russia at this point and then saw The Ramones live in 1985
By 1986 I was a solid but recent convert who was now actively seeking out more Ramones material
All of my friends at Lake Highlands High School went to Bill’s Records and Tapes over in Richardson but I soon discovered a new source over by friend Robert Abrams’ apartment at Marsh and Forest
Coincidentally, the first apartment my family moved to in Texas was directly across the street from Robert A’s current residence in 1986

On the opposite corner of Forest and Marsh was Hit Records and it was run by Ron Ross
When the kid in this picture walked in, he instantly knew what band he was looking for
robbie-ramone

Ron was behind the counter and he remarked that I had to be a Ramones fan
He seemed more than happy to tell me all of his personal Ramones  stories which translated to record sales from me
I soon bought all of my Ramones albums from Ron and if he didn’t have them, I went to Bill’s

1986 Means Animal Boy and there were several 12″ singles that I found but could only afford one at the time
I can’t remember which shop had which single but I had a choice of “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” on side A with “Daytime Dilemma” and “Go Home Ann”on side B  -or- “Something to Believe In”side A  and “Somebody Put Something in My Drink” with “Can’t Say Anything Nice” side B
I went with the second choice based purely on the title of the non album tracks and it looks like I made the right decision in retrospect

Can’t Say Anything Nice was written and sung by Richie Ramone who was the first drummer I had seen perform live with the Ramones on the previous tour
It was also a great song to play on the guitar because it was both melodic and simple and had that “dun dun dun” stop at the end of the riff
It was easy to learn and fun to play
It soon became a bonus track on the end of the tapes I made of my albums

This is a different cover but I am not sure if it had the same tracks
somebody-put-something-in-my-drink-cover

Coming up next, the single and bonus track that I am glad I didn’t chose
bonzo7-2

The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 2- “Smash You”

smash-you-street-fight

As I has stated in the lest installment, I bought a 12″ single from Bill’s records and Tapes at around the same time that I bought Too Tough To Die. I really liked the cover of Street Fighting Man but Smash You sounded like the songs I was writing (that sounded like the Ramones)
This song employs the technique of accentuating notes with crashes (think of the breakdown in Now I Wanna Be A Good Boy). I did that a lot in my new songwriting because it sounded cool. Of course, I over-used it but those songs don’t exist anymore, the tapes long since lost or recorded over.
This song was written by Richie but it adds to a list of songs where violence against women is covered. The Ramones never shied away from any controversial topics but I would have to say that beating up women is the only one that makes me really uncomfortable. Still, you can’t deny them their take on life in the real world any more than you can deny a rapper talking about the same thing. It is something that happens in the real world and addressing it doesn’t necessarily endorse it.
It seems that this song was left off Too Tough To Die but I’d much rather hear this song than Humankind or Planet Earth 1988

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My response to the article “Why Road To Ruin is the best Ramones Album”

Here is the original article
Why Road To Ruin Is The Best Ramones Album

There are several factors that the author did not take into consideration
#1- Marky is the new drummer and is light years ahead of Tommy in experience. Keep in mind that Tommy had only played drums for about 4 years. Add to that, he hasn’t had any time to develop any style other than what served the basic needs of The Ramones. Not only did Marky added a lot of dynamics but he gave the band a wider base to write upon.
#2- Johnny has relaxed a bit on his sparse arrangement conditions because they have enough of a back catalog to play headliner length sets. In addition, anything added to the album that could not translate live was basically stripped down to the basic live setup.
#3- Various sources have quoted them as saying that they still wanted to achieve pop status. Their live shows were a solid guarantee of revenue as well as T Shirt sales but they still wanted to put out something that would chart in the top 10. They were confident that their touring fans would tolerate the new pop sheen of the albums because the live versions would be stripped down.

There was no way to tell if the new radio fans would have been able to endure an entire Ramones live show but those are good problems to have.
It seems like Richie was the catalyst for their next pivotal moment. Just goes to show you how important a good drummer really is.
Think about that next time you write off a drummer as a lesser musician.

 

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The Ramones “Hard to Find” bonus tracks pt 1 “Street Fighting Man”

As much as I hate Youtube from a content creator standpoint, I love it as an archive of stuff that I either didn’t know existed or didn’t have the money to buy in the 80’s. To me, “I want you around” from the Rock n’ Roll High School Soundtrack was a “bonus track” that I would put on my personal tapes and mixtapes I made for other people
My first Ramones album was Rocket to Russia but I immediately went out and bought “Too Tough To Die” after seeing them at the
Arcadia Theater
I am not sure if I bought them at the same time but I did buy a 12″ single with “Howling At The Moon”
There was a non album track that was a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” which now became my new “Bonus Track”
This would be one of several British releases on Beggar’s Banquet

street-fighting

I thought it was kind of a ripoff to put two album tracks on the record and only offer one bonus song
I guess I was spoiled by Twisted Sister because their 12″ singles were mostly live versions of album tracks and those count as bonus tracks
What a coincidence that both bonus tracks are Rolling Stones covers

twisted-12-inch

I will be covering more non album tracks and the next one will be “Smash You”
Part 2 of Bonus Tracks “Smash You”
Part 3 of Bonus Tracks “Can’t Say Anything Nice”

The Busking The Ramone Fri 10/15/16

There were two different factors that determined if I was going to be able to busk on Friday
1- There was rain in the forecast but it was done by the morning
2- The allergen count was in the 5s instead of the usual 11s (the highest is 12)

Thanks to my friend Laura, I got a ride over to the East Sieede and got to Ellum in plenty of time
My biggest anxieties in past busking experiences has been that I might not get a good spot
The drums are a very hard instrument to adapt to the street because it is hard to pack them all up into one unit. This usually means a couple of trips, which also means that you need to find a parking space fairly close to your spot
This means endless laps around the block and/or hanging out in your car until you see someone vacate YOUR spot

None of the issues come up with The Busking The Ramone because I can carry the whole setup in one trip
My first attempt took place over by 3 Links  during the car show so I set my sights on that spot
I had  walked through that area and had seen another busker taking that spot, so I got there fairly early
This is usually no issue with the drums because I can play all night but playing the guitar and singing is different
Especially the guitar because my callouses are in the developmental stages where they are getting rough but not enough to take hold up to playing all night
I started playing at around 9pm and didn’t mind that the crowd was thin
This just gave me a chance to run the set list and make lots of mistakes
After going through the set, I discovered 2 mistakes
1- I got there too early and never could have lasted until 1 or 2 am
2- I left the screen on my phone up and it burned half my battery life just doing the one set
I managed to keep the phone screen dark and squeezed enough battery life out to last until I was done
The Alesis TransActive PA/Amp has 3 lights for a battery indicator and I only used up 1 light
I also put Duracells in my distortion pedal and had no worries about that
I managed to play until 12 Midnight before I started to lose feeling in my fingertips and gave up
If I had waited an hour longer to start, I would have hit my stride during peak time
A lot of people saw me but I only managed to make about $10 in tips

CONCLUSION-
The spot I picked is very busy but I did not get much in tips
My amp is only 40 watts and I had a hard time competing with the band playing through the open patio of 3 Links, as well as traffic and crowd noise
It was also a bit hard to move around
If I expect to do well in that spot, I need more volume
I will try a different spot next time
Also, I like having the screen of my phone on while playing the tracks so I can keep my place
I need to get one of those portable USB power devices
All in all, I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to drill the 30+ songs I have already recorded
I am getting stronger fingers and thicker callouses
The small amount of tips is only an inconvenience
Overall, it was an OK night
Not bad but not great
My next target will be Denton

 

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