Lisa and I attempted to go out peach-picking yesterday, with limited success (the peaches were on the trees, if a little rocklike, but the people we were supposed to pay for them & who were supposed to give us baskets to put them in had gone home early because of the heat). So instead we went to New Asha Café in Staten Island again, then came home and had thawed-out slices of the year-old top tier of our wedding cake for dessert. Can't think of a better way to have spent our anniversary.

Today I went out to Adelphi University to speak at a program called "Noise: A Summer Experience For the Teen Music Entrepreneur." 40 teenagers from all over the country (a few from overseas), spending a couple of weeks at a program sponsored by Muzak (no kidding), learning about the music industry. I'd been told it would be a panel discussion, but in fact it turned out to be me and a guy from Bar/None individually talking about our careers to date, then having Q&A sessions with smaller groups of the kids (who were divided into 3 groups--each of us got to talk to 2 of them--somebody's math was a little faulty). One of the groups I talked to was really active and interested and responsive. In the other one, only one kid really had anything to say or ask; the rest sat there listlessly, and finally gave up on asking real questions and started asking me about my cat. Odd. I gave everyone copies of the singing catalogue--I wonder if any of them will find anything they like on it. At the end, somebody from the program handed me a little gift bag as a thank-you: two brochures about the program, a T-shirt vacuum-packed into the shape of a guitar, and a blank notebook whose cover has a little kid in the Born in the U.S.A. pose and costume. Not like any of these teenagers even recognize the joke, I suspect--they were all born after that record came out. I'm trying to imagine what I'd have thought if I'd been to some sort of summer music program when I was 16 that drew its iconography from, I don't know, Disraeli Gears.

I'm currently deep in the next wave of the RSAG listening madness: the complete works of John Coltrane (well, from Giant Steps to his death--42 albums in all, skipping the first 12 years or so of his career). At first I thought all that genius would be exhausting, but I'm remembering that it's actually not. Back around 1990, WHRB did an almost weeklong Coltrane orgy, with everything in chronological order, and I remember having the radio on as much of the time as I could, drinking it all in.

Another advice question someone asks:

Before you freelanced full-time, did you work a day job? How difficult is it to freelance and balance a 40/hour a week job, without going crazy from stress/deadlines? Any tips to manage the stress of insane hours, or how did you balance the two?

I did indeed have a day job from mid-'93 to late '97, as managing editor of CMJ New Music Monthly. One piece of advice I wish someone had given me to make the insanity more sane: when you agree to take a 40-hour-a-week job that doesn't give you a direct share in the proceeds, and have aspirations to do freelance work, make sure that the job is in fact 40 hours a week, and not more--that if you show up at 9, you can switch off your desk lamp and leave at 5 PM sharp every single day. (That goes double if you're not being paid overtime rates.) I was rather too eager to please in the CMJ days, and showed up early, stayed late and even came in on the weekends all the time. The hell with that. If the people who work somewhere full-time can't do what needs to be done in a 40-hour work week, that just means the company needs to hire extra people. If there's a once-a-month rush for which people need to stay late, then they ought to get extra vacation time to compensate for it. If you're any good, you can demand no less. (When I worked at Blender for a couple of weeks last year, I was proud of myself for knocking off work almost every day after exactly 8 hours. I still felt wiped out, but that's another story.)

If you make sure that your time outside of business hours is your own, it's a lot easier to freelance in the mornings (if you're a morning person) or at night. I sort of eased into the freelancing business--a review here, a show preview there--probably three nights' work a week. Which meant I didn't get to go out those nights, but I knew it wasn't going to last forever. And it didn't.



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