Volume 2-2013



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MINE YOURS & OURS: That Christmas shot above is a far cry from what is presently happening in the streets of Cairo, Greece, and even Sweden. Here is a plea for a global reset narrated against the awful news that has become the soundtrack of our lives. PLEASE PLAY LOUD ENOUGH TO WAKE THE NEIGHBORS.

NO MATTER WHAT SHE SAID: We have this cat, a Snowshoe Siamese, who my wife named "Magnolia Thunder Pussy" after a '60s San Francisco radio spot, and who came to us as a replacement for our dear deceased cat "Gary Gilmore", also named by my wife. (One can imagine the psychological damage or purr enlightenment the children have endured.) Anyway, "Maggie" was a rescue cat, plucked from the Stanford University campus by a student who found her injured, starving, alone; a refugee from God knows what. Maggie grew to the size of a house living in the student's apartment, but upon graduating Maggie's student-savior had to give her up to move wherever Stanford graduates move to, so she put Maggie on Craigslist and my wife brought this fat cat home. She slimmed down, given some room to roam, and is now a much different cat from that which she was when she came to us - accept for her monotonic meow. I have no idea what this cat is saying. It may be "hello"; it may be "there is a tarantula on your head", I don't know, it all sounds the same. I assume her issues in this song. PLEASE PLAY LOUD SO I CAN CLAIM THIS ON MY RESUME AS A BROADCAST PRODUCTION.



(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; "Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; "1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; "We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; "Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY; "I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  "Carriers of Light" by Brendan James; "The Last Time" by Model Stranger; "Last Call" by Jay; "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; "Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio; Apteka "Striking Violet"; Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along"; Dana deChaby's progressive rock



Memphis Rock'N Soul Hall of Fame - A plea for good intentions

Tim Ryan - Tool Cool for Just One Band

Amy Lavere - Memphis Upright

8 Days to Amsterdam - Memphis Power Pop

Reba Russell - Memphis Queen Rips up "When Love Came to Town"

Matt Nathansan on the SF Links










Learning from Jimmy Iovine

Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine was featured in a recent piece in Rolling Stone, and it was one of those rare celebrity interviews that actually yield insight and useful information for people interested in music production and engineering. READ MORE...



"The Musical Meccas of the World"









Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects



BIOGRAPHY - Rick Alan Rice

My biography is sprinkled liberally throughout this website. It is in my songs and stories and on my Projects page. This section offers the background in summary form.

* * * * *

I was born in 1952 on Scott Air Force Base just outside of East St. Louis.

I am a Libra.

My father was a 23-year old Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force, a radio instructor at the base. My mother was 20.

My father had grown up as the fair-haired son of a Nebraska farm family (Walter and Besse Rice of Hays Center), and he was gifted. After excelling on exams, particularly in mathematics, he was plucked from his country school and placed in a boarding school at Curtis, Nebraska, where he attended high school. After graduation, he became the first person in the Rice family to attend college, enrolling at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Two years into his studies, at a time when his older brother Charles was away in the service, his father Walter fell ill and my father was forced to drop out of college to return to keep the family farm in business. When Walter's health improved, my father signed up for the Air Force and served during the Korean War.

On a leave from the service he reunited with a McCook, Nebraska girl he had dated. From a family of seven children, she had been born in Atwood, Kansas, and had grown up on locations ranging from a Kansas farm to Oakland, California. She attended high school in McCook. Graduating three years after my father, she worked for a time in a doctor's office, then she and my father were married. Phillip Walton and Ruby Dolores Rice, August 1951.

After the Korean War ended, my father left the Air Force and went to work as a television repairman in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1957 we moved again, this time to Englewood, Colorado, a new incorporated suburban development south of downtown Denver. My dad took a job doing electrical engineering for the Martin-Marietta Company, and he bought a brick home in a community heavily populated with young Martin-Marietta families. He car pooled to work every day at the missile testing site near Castle Rock, south of Englewood.

CHILDHOOD: I attended 1st through 6th grade in Englewood, one of the Maddox Elementary "Madmen." My summers were spent playing baseball, winters playing football. Each summer I would return to Nebraska for a week or so to stay with my grandparents Besse and Walter, and with the family of my dad's sister Lillian (Betty), the Fieldings. They had a farm seven miles outside of little Hays Center (population 240), and I had adventures there with my six Fielding cousins. We encountered rattlesnakes and skunks, rode cows, pulled calves, drove farm machinery, milked cows -- we did a lot with cows. It was an idyllic childhood. One summer I surfaced as "the city cousin" in a story in the Omaha World Herald titled "City Boy Lassos Skunk." My Uncle Court had been teaching me to throw a lasso and I lassoed a skunk, which responded as anyone but me might have expected a skunk would.

After the Kennedy assassination funding for the space program began to tighten. Most of the conceptual developments that led to the missions of the 1960s had been achieved between 1958 and 1961, and after that oversight on spending became a government priority.

In 1965, my father got an opportunity to buy into a hardware store in Atwood, Kansas, population 1,600. He gave up his aeronautics job (by this time he was working for Beech Aircraft outside of Boulder, Colorado) and our family moved to "The City By the Lake," as the signs outside of town announced.

Atwood was at once an idyll and a nightmare. The town was quaint and picturesque in a kind of Mayberry way. At the intersection of U.S. Highways 25 and 36, it was a cottonwood-canopied village nestled next to a 43-acre lake in the cup of the Beaver Valley. There was a central courthouse square with a beautiful two-story red brick building with a bell tower. The county offices and courtroom were upstairs, and there was a jail in the basement with bars on the windows.  At the top of the boulevard that ran past the courthouse square was a high school built in Kansas Stone, and downtown were four square blocks of locally owned businesses that dressed up beautifully at Christmas. It was, on many levels, a great little town. I played on the American Legion baseball team, and participated in the school football and golf programs, with some additional involvement in basketball and track. I rode my bike everywhere and skated on the frozen lake in winter and up the Beaver Creek. I hunted pheasant and quail and turtle dove. I did some fishing.

More than anything, however, I dreamed of the day I could escape the place. I had grown up in suburban worlds and couldn't find much in common with my rural schoolmates. (I will never forget that my first memory of conversation between my new seventh grade classmates was two farm boys arguing over tractors. Tractors! I think one was a John Deere man, the other a Case.) What was adventure over a couple weeks in summer on the Fielding's farm was a drag as an every day existence in Atwood. The fall after I graduated from high school in 1970, I enrolled at the University of Kansas. I was 17 and gone from home forever. 

COLLEGE:I loved the University of Kansas, but performed dismally. The Viet Nam War was still raging. I was in the draft lottery in 1971 and, as I recall, drew 157 in a year when they took up to 125. (There were 366 numbers representing each day of a leap year, which were pulled from a "hat" and people were selected for service based on their birth dates and the order in which the numbers were drawn.) I don't recall feeling any connection to that serendipitous lottery event or having any anxiety about it at all, which is a tip-off to my mental state at the time. (Also, I was in college and student deferments were available -- just ask Dick Cheney.) I was lost in a wonderland of hyperbolic sights and sounds. The Lawrence, Kansas area was alive with anti-war activities. Village Voice/Hippie Poet George Kimball was on the ballot to become Sheriff. I would go to the Jayhawk Cafe and the Bierstube and find myself drinking with Yippies, who seemed to me to be wearing American flag-inspired war paint. They scared the hell out of me. (They were followers of Abbie Hoffman's "Youth International Party" whom I took to be 30-year old volunteers to the youthful-female liberation program.) The girls, however, were gorgeous and there was a guy who would come in the night to your dormitory and place marijuana in your mailbox. His identity was not known, but everyone called him "Weed Man" because he would leave a note with the pot that said something like "Greetings from Weed Man."   Weed Man's stuff wasn't particularly good, but I always thought his gesture was of a high quality. That somehow the dorm police didn't intervene on this practice must say something about the climate of the times in Lawrence, Kansas. It was a hippie town and if you liked that type of thing, which I did, it was great. It was also incredibly distracting! I rarely went to class. My classes were all screwed up anyway, because I didn't know how to read the enrollment book, didn't really have an advisor, and found myself taking whatever classes I could get into, sometimes without the benefit of the prerequisites. I was tossed out for poor academic performance, readmitted on the strength of a self-explaining essay (not unlike this one), then eventually tossed again. I lasted two-and-a-half years, then retreated to dismal Hays, Kansas where I graduated with an English-Journalism degree in 1975. (Fort Hays was the recently-deceased Mickey Spillane's alma mater. There in the journalism department they still kept yellowed pages of stuff he had written while there as a student. I always thought the existence of this material was either somebody's silly good fortune to have found something from a celebrity in a box in the back, or extraordinary prescience on the part of somebody else, because based on my reading of the writings Spillane was not obviously headed toward success.)

Fort Hays Kansas State College, as it was called then, was not at all distracting. It also held a much lower academic standard than had KU, but for some reason I attended to my studies religiously and flourished as Editorial Editor on the college newspaper. I wrote outrageous things, even suggesting that American foreign policy wasn't entirely altruistic, and was occasionally reprinted in newspapers around the state as an example of just how screwed up some Kansas students had become. I went on to graduate school at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana (David Letterman's alma mater) and pursued a master's degree in journalism. Muncie was another really sleepy place, but the journalism department at BSU had some strong faculty members. I was particularly influenced -- and this is going to sound like a joke -- by a professor named Dr. Larry Horney. He was a Princeton dandy but a very good teacher of writing mechanics. There was also a professor there named Sheldon Kagan, whose brother Paul (Paul Kagan Associates) was already an influential media consultant. Sheldon's specialty was the business of publication management and he was an intellectual mind twister, very effective at introducing a variety of ways to visualize whatever was there to see.

I gained preliminary approval to submit a novel in lieu of a dissertation to complete the masters program, and I continued to work on a collection of stories I had already begun, which I called "City By the Lake." It was a Sherwood Anderson "Winesburg, Ohio" inspired book that struck me as doable given my development to that point.

With grad school classes completed, I took a job on a small daily newspaper in Winchester, Indiana -- the News-Gazette. I had previously held paid part-time positions on other publications, but with this position my journalism career was officially launched. More importantly, with "City By the Lake" I was what I considered to be a real writer, on my way to becoming a novelist.

Go to www.RickARice.com for career information. Visit the Verse and Projects pages on this site for additional family background.

* * * * *


  30 years back...


Today I live in Benicia, California with my wife Joanne (married 1987), daughter Gillian (born 1995) and son Griffin (born 1997).

Sal Valentino

Beau Brummels and Isolation


Yours truly was a slow starter in a lot of ways, probably in part due to a series of unfortunate events, which I suppose is the métier and defining operand in the lives of all people. My big issue was that I was uprooted from the comfort of a suburban lifestyle in a somewhat major metropolitan area (Denver, 1965) and relocated to an isolated hamlet in Northwest Kansas (Atwood, Population 1,200) just about the time I was coming into puberty. Apologies for the inclusion of that last detail, but it is critical to the story, for hormonal eruptions set people off in odd directions, and the coupling of that craziness with the physical relocation of my physical being was almost enough to cause a split in my perception of reality, at least in that time and in those moments. I became surly, detached, uninterested...I was at my worst in those years, as I suppose is the case with many cases of arrested development. And like most teenagers, my retreat was into music, which spoke to me on a deeply emotional level. I probably thought those songs were written about me, not in actuality but in their knowledge of my feelings. Other than The Beatles, which wallpapered my interior life, and much of my exterior life too, there were two bands that really spoke to me: the Beau Brummels and the Zombies. The Zombies warned me about evil women, which was a general area of study completely new to me at the time, me being still somewhat connected to my electric football game and other remnants of childhood. The other was the Beau Brummels, the San Francisco band that scored two hits, "Laugh, Laugh" and "Cry Just A Little", which were tremolo soaked and unbelievably sad, which was right on the emotional mainline to my dysfunction. They sounded like cries for help carried in the wind from some unknown island place for which rescue could never come. That, to me at 13, was Atwood, Kansas.

In reality, the lonely sound of the Beau Brummels was carried on the pipes of Sal Valentino, a North Beach kid who took has last name from that of a boxer that his dad liked, and whose life was the flip side of my own. Valentino, who was born Salvatore Willard Spampinato in 1942, achieved success in his early 20s, and then went down hill from there. San Francisco music writer Joel Selvin traced the entire arc in a 2006 piece for the Examiner (read here).

Around 2002, Valentino started a slow comeback playing open mic nights as a solo acoustic act in the Sacramento area. There he met Jackie Greene, a dude in his mid-20s at the time, who has since scored successes as a solo artist (his 2003 Gone Wanderin' CD stayed on the Americana charts for over a year) and been a band member of Phil Lesh and Friends.  Greene, who has modeled himself after a young Bob Dylan, has an affinity for classic rock figures and he has helped champion Valentino's comeback. In fact, he wrote a song for Valentino, a live performance of which is shown in the video in the right column, shot at The Palms venue in Winters, California (Sacramento area).

FOLLOW-UP: Related to that personal account above of my relatively brief life in rural Kansas - I left for the University of Kansas at 17 and never really went back - I got a call recently from Atwood, Kansas resident Skip McCain, who is referenced in my biography on this site as an "older guy" who played drums and with whom I jammed on a few occasions. Skip, who is now 65 years old, took cheerful exception to my referring to him as an older guy (back in the '60s). He reported that he has re-purchased his original drum set, which is the model of Ludwig made famous by Ringo Starr, but which Skip is proud to report was purchased before he ever saw Ringo Starr. The set got away from Skip over the years, but one of the odd facts of life in the rural parts of the country is that such items rarely go far. In fact, almost like community property, people tend to know what others have and they tend to keep track of items of particular interest. I know tons of stories from rural Kansas where people have recovered favorite cars, drum sets, amplifiers, etc., that they parted ways with decades earlier but somehow still knew where they were and how to get them back. And so Skip has done this with his original drum set, which is particularly valuable to him now that he has a grown son who is a drummer. Skip further reports that the long-defunct Skyline Dance Hall, a quanset-style cinder block-construction dance venue that overlooks Atwood from a hill on the northeast side of town, has been refurbished and re-opened for a few special events. The building is historic in the sense that it was built by hand by the local Morton brothers as an entertainment venue for soldiers returning home from World War II. Maybe a local historian can trace its history, but by the 1960s it was closed as a venue and used as a warehouse for a local merchant. This would make the second historic venue to be re-opened in little Atwood, Kansas in recent years, the other being the Shirley Opera House, that has been covered extensively on this site.






©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), May, 2013