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More Unorganized Hancock Live Show Goodness To Improve Your Monday Markedly

If you just stumbled in (hey, who hasn’t from time to time) that’s my two sons, AKA Unorganized Hancock, performing at the Skowhegan, Maine Maple Festival a few weeks back. I watch these videos the same way you do. They entertain me. I don’t get any less or any more enjoyment out of them because they’re my kids. I help them as best I can, then as fast as I can manage it I go sit in the audience.

I’m told by various and sundry persons that being married and having kids and generally being of a traditional frame of mind about many things is either a near-insurmountable row to hoe, or a bad idea in the first place — children are too expensive, or the world is too full of people already, or some such. Others say western civilization in all its forms is very important, of course, but they make it sound like a directive to eat your vegetables. You’re supposed to do it, grimly, because otherwise society will fall apart.

I just don’t get any of it. My wife and children are delightful, and I never get tired of them, and they fill my house with a jolly tintinnabulation every day they aren’t out in the great, wide world making their racket for strangers. I never miss whatever it is I’m supposedly missing out on. Our life might be difficult, but my family is the cure for that, never the cause. And even if you think the world has too many people in it, it surely still has too few of the pleasant variety, so we tried to make some more.

And I hate to break it to you, but vegetables are just food, and I like eating food, and you should too.

[Many thanks to Andy B. in Indiana for his generous mash on the PayPal tipjar button in the right-hand column. I’m constantly amazed by the generosity of my readers]
[Update: Many thanks to longtime UH supporter Kathleen M. of Connecticut, who is as close to a perennial flower as this blog will ever see, for her ongoing generous contributions to our tip jar]
[Up-Update: Many thanks to Charles E. from The Land Of Enchantment for his very generous assault on our tip jar. I do not know anyone named Charles that isn’t a nice person. I don’t think they exist]

Like Watching Titian Grind Pigments: Wes Montgomery Arranges A Song In Real Time

Wes Montgomery sounds like he was a nice man, a commodity that can be somewhat hard to find in the music business. He had a wife and lots of kids. He supposedly learned to play guitar when he was already a man. He worked all day in a factory, practiced at night, and strummed the guitar with his thumb instead of a plectrum so he wouldn’t keep his wife and kids up all night. Odd things often make people wonderful. He was well-regarded enough to be touring almost right away, but didn’t like being away from his family, went back home and worked in a factory and played at local places again. Eventually he broke through and became international anyway. I don’t know anyone he’s playing with in the video, but this looks like European TV of some sort. The YouTube comments say they’re Dutch.

He’s a really rare specimen. He obviously always wanted to play in a manner that would be entirely accessible to the general public, but his chops and musicality commanded instant respect, even awe, from even the cool atonal kids. He’s one of those players that never seems to run out of variations on what he knows. He never seems to be repeating himself. Even towards the end of his career, when he did jazzesque versions of profoundly pedestrian pop songs, no one snickered behind his back. Wes Montgomery’s version of Windy might still be a version of Windy, but he never made anything worse. He wasn’t capable of it.

I think he needs to be considered among the most influential jazz musicians ever, because more people paid attention to him, one way or the other, than anyone else.

Still There (from 2007)

Ever work in a factory?

If you’re reading this page, the answer is likely no. I remember reading that if you are at a gathering of college educated persons, not one of them will know personally anyone who is not. They can cast around for the name of the plumber or something to make their working class bona fides, but it’s not the same thing. With a few exceptions, educated persons don’t know people who are not, and vice versa.

I am not fixing to hold myself up as any sort of example of anything. I don’t fit in anywhere and so am useless as any sort of ruler to measure such things. I drift along through many sets of people, and belong to none, really. Maybe I should be a writer. I have no fixed perspective.

I have worked in a factory. More than one. A big old brick building with tall windows and a punch clock and battered formica tables and two vending machines in a break room. Union, some of them, too. I know what it’s like. A lot of people who have never known work talk about the loss of belching smokestack factories like it’s a plague of locusts or something. If they ever worked in one they might feel differently. I can’t properly describe the sensation of eating your lunch out of a paper sack and reading an inexpertly printed missive from personnel (they used to call it that without shame) telling me, just 19 years old, that all I had to do is work another 49 years putting the same tiny screws into some holes while looking at a gauge, and I could retire with a little pension.

They never understood why I left. My fellow workers, grown old and crabby in the traces, tried to get me to explain, which I could not do without insulting them, and then, frustrated, barked at me that I’d be sorry. I never was. The factory has been shuttered and dark for decades now, and they all lost their jobs. The world is a shark and must always swim. I recognize the charlatans that say the shark must stand still no matter how they tart up the presentation. Numbskull Canutes want to rule the world.

There can be dignity there, in a factory. If there is work that is not dignified I have not seen it. You must bring the dignity with you, as in all things. It will not be supplied to you. It cannot be taken from you if you will keep it.

That picture is taken in 1940. There is certainly dignity in that picture, along with hard work and danger and a wage, and it shines right through. Old Kenyon’s Johnnycake Mill in Usquepaugh, Rhode Island. I used to visit the towns around there often in the summer. And the place is still there.

Kenyon’s Corn Meal Company

It’s marvelous it’s still there after centuries. The shark must swim. It does not devour all its young, though.

Still Better Dialog Than Anything George Lucas Ever Wrote

Kids writing scripts for grownups. It’s glorious. As opposed to Hollywood, where grownups wearing toddler clothes write scripts for kids pushing sixty.

We don’t send our children to public school, but we hear all about what goes on there. They’re always maundering on in the local papers about their bright new ideas — generally already discredited since the 1960s — about “teaching children to be more creative.” See, there’s your problem right there.

I don’t know exactly how dull you have to be to be a public school administrator, but school is supposed to try to put some sort of lid on a child’s creativity, and get them to add single digits without using a sundial as a stopwatch, and put apostrophes where they belong once in a while, for five goddamn minutes a day, at least. Children only have one problem, and that’s creativity. The reason you’re all still sitting at the dinner table after an hour and fifteen minutes has come and gone is because your seven-year-old is still building stonehenge with his french fries. That’s creativity, isn’t it?  The reason your bathroom smells like a cattle stall is all the creative ways that little Magellan you’re raising has figured out to circumnavigate the bowl. This video is like shooting fish in a barrel, which incidentally produces a very similar kind and amount of splashback.

If your kid doesn’t compose at least one insane opera a day that lasts from sunup to sundown, he’s not normal. A kid with that little imagination is luckily not common, but when he or she grows up, they’re likely to cause trouble, likely by becoming a public school administrator or a state senator. Claiming you’re going to teach children to be creative is like claiming you’re going to teach Mike Tyson to be aggressive. And your Common Core plan for teaching creativity? Well, as Mike once said, everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth. 

Patient Effort Will Out

Patient effort will out. It is the only lesson I have, to teach to my children. I do not have anything else to offer them. It’s a kind of faith.

Faith is not a lever you pull and out pops the candy. Faith is putting your candy into the machine, over and over, because you know in your heart it’s the right thing to do, all the while knowing that nothing might ever come back out of it for you. You’re just serene in the knowledge that the machine itself is a worthwhile apparatus, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. That’s why they call it faith. Duh.

The young man in the video grew up, his entire life, with a boot on his face. The Soviet Union was the largest example of the worst state of affairs ever conceived by humans. There are plenty of pikers plying their trade at human misery, retail, in places like basements in Cleveland, and organized and disorganized crime, or in franchises like North Korea and various other gulags with a seat at the United Nations and “Democratic” in their names, but for institutional unkindness, the soviets transformed mom and pop cruelty into an industrial-scaled enterprise. They were the multinational of misery.

This young man must have put his candy into the machine, day after day, never knowing if anything would come back out for him besides a mailed fist. He simply didn’t put it into the wrong machine — the machine that required everything from a man, even his soul — he snuck around back and put it in the hidden slot any man can find if he looks hard enough. That slot isn’t often labeled. Check that; it’s usually mislabeled by the makers of the evil machine. They label it poison or greed or wrecker or apostate or denier or extremist or whatever they think might frighten you off. If you labeled it yourself, you might write, “I am a human being.”

My family and I are required to submit to many indignities. Our arm is twisted and our candy is often mashed into the front of a machine we’d break if we had a hammer big enough. But every night while the people that warm themselves over the exhaust grate of that infernal machine are sleeping, we tiptoe around it and put our patient efforts into another, kindler, gentler machine. We do not know for certain if the machine will ever disburse anything we can use. We are only certain the other machine never will.

Doing The Show

Here’s some more of my boys “doing the show” at the Opera House in Skowhegan, Maine last Saturday, for the town’s Maple Festival.You can see the original mention of it here: A Day In The Life. The performance was captured on nothing more than an ambient microphone on a flip camera, hidden behind their stand-up sign onstage.

I was a performer for a long time. I have a finely trained ear about some things. There are various kinds of applause, for instance. Some people applaud out of nothing more than politesse. A great many people applaud things because they are determined to like things in the first place, whether they are any good or not. Sometimes you get golf claps because you don’t suck, but you’re in the wrong place.  Many applaud simply to celebrate the end of something they don’t like.

That sound on the video is real, live applause. I’d know it anywhere, because it is so rare.

Unorganized Hancock

Notes From All Over

My friend Gerard occasionally writes an essay to demonstrate that I’m the second-best essayist on the Intertunnel, and no better:  It was one of those small town events that puts your faith in the essential goodness of people back into your soul.

My friend Bird Dog is the only person that’s ever noticed that I occasionally insert lyrics of my own devising into other people’s songs when I write about them. I suspect he’s just feigning ignorance that I wrote them:  Sipp has all the verses, including the ones often left out… 

Unorganized Hancock’s Facebook page has a lot of fun pictures on it. In the dressing room with Unorganized Hancock at the Skowhegan Opera House.  

Admit it: If you don’t like musicals, you always end up rooting for the Nazis in this one. But I’d totally get on board with the Von Trapps if they remade The Sound Of Music like this:

The hills are alive, with the sound of Uzis…

My friend Steve Layman reminds me of one of my favorite Beatles songs to play. I once played in a band that was a Beatles tribute band before I met them, and at the drop of a hat they could bang out any Beatles song like pros. We were jerks, and sang: “I’m gonna let you down ’cause you are flat… “

Sometimes I think there aren’t enough pleasant people on the Intertunnel. Then I find people like The Execupundit. 

Other times I think there aren’t enough pleasant people on the Intertunnel. Then I visit the Daughter of the Golden West.  We decorated our Christmas tree with her ornaments. You should too.

Gagdad Bob is the only blogger with a profile page more amusing than mine. I want to go over to his house and listen to Pharoah Sanders records, but I have to shovel my driveway.

Still plenty of nice stuff, discounted, and with free shipping, for sale at  I don’t like to brag, but I know how to make an end table out of a tree.  Just sayin’.

Why I Never Hire Brilliant Men

I have only infrequently been an employee. When I was an employee, I would always be hired as the lowest of peons, then immediately be promoted to just short of the top of the greasy pole. In the past, I’ve been the employer of a good number of people, and as a manager acting for others I have supervised many hundreds. I now work alone.

When I had a handful of men working directly for me, I was in a business that absolutely demanded that the world be altered in a concrete, demonstrable, measurable, and productive way, every day, all the time, and without exception. I employed a rather bright fellow I recall now with fondness. I didn’t employ him because he was bright, because that was mostly superfluous to the topic at hand. He was pleasant, and cooperative. He was not a lifer in the manual trades. 
One day, I gave a raft of instructions to him and all my other employees, and then left on an important business errand. When I returned, everything was either not done, or not done correctly, or an admixture of those two. I was rather heated in my reaction. In a quiet moment later, he said something to me that I found interesting, and useful. He told me that no one that worked for me was as smart as I was, and they couldn’t understand things that I took for granted, and that there was no way the work would ever come out like I wanted it to unless I did it myself, and I was wasting my time trying to make it happen.
Since I did not make this assessment myself,  I guess I can tell you about it without feeling like it’s simply rotomontade on my part. I had made a very bad mistake, and had hired a brilliant person to run my affairs, which is a very big mistake indeed. To hire a brilliant person to run your affairs marks a man as none too bright, if you ask me. It makes no nevermind that the brilliant person was me. 
I do not employ a brilliant person in this capacity any longer. If he gets up to anything brilliant-sounding, I tell him to put a sock in it, and sand another tabletop, because that’s what needs doing.

But that’s old advice, of course. Here it is, from 1924:

 Why I Never Hire Brilliant Men
by: Unknown

SITTING in my office last week, facing the man whom I had just fired,
I thought of the contrast between that interview and our first one,
nearly two years ago! Then he did almost all the talking, while I
listened with eager interest. Last week it was I who talked, while he
sulked like a petulant child.

“Your contract has sixteen months to run,” I said. “My proposition is
that we cancel it at once, and that I hand you this check for ten
thousand dollars.”
With a show of bravado he waved the check aside. He would hold me to
the letter of the contract if it were the last thing he ever did.
I told him he had that privilege, but I was sure he would see the futility of exercising it.
“Let me review the situation for a moment,” I continued: “You came to
us as general sales manager on January 1st, 1922, at a salary of
twenty-five thousand dollars. It was by far the largest salary we had
ever paid in any executive position; but your record seemed to justify
“The letters you brought spoke in the highest terms of your sales
genius. The only question which they did not answer to my satisfaction
was why companies which had valued you so highly should ever have
allowed you to get away! When I voiced this, you stated that they merely
had been outbid by their competitors — and I accepted your statement.
It wasn’t until you had been here a year that I learned the truth. You
are a quick starter, but a poor finisher — no finisher at all, in


Yay Spring. You Go, Spring

It’ s the first day of Spring today. Yay Spring. You go, Spring. Attaboy, Spring. It’s been snowing for twelve straight hours, but that Spring he’s just being coy. He’s got Winter right where he wants him, trapped in my driveway. He can’t escape, and Spring knows it. Spring doesn’t worry. Spring is like Dirty Harry. He’s gonna finish his hot dog before he comes out blastin’. I just know it.

There appears to be some sort of Civil War battleship foundered on my lawn that got snowed over. But that wily Spring, he’s just waiting for the snow on the lawn to connect up with the snow on the roof, and then Bam!, that Spring’s going to send the whole megillah into my basement. Then I’ll be able to drag the Monitor or the Merrimack or whatever it is under there to the scrapyard and get rich like a metal thief.

There is no more firewood. That’s bad. But I have a metal basket to burn wood pellets in when the firewood runs out. That’s good. But after two years of hard use, the bottom of the basket burned clean through the other night, and the pellets just tumble out. That’s bad. But my son and I found a stainless steel lid from a warming tray, like you’d see in a buffet line, and by modifying it a bit with a metal grinder and some pliers, I lined the bottom of the pellet basket. That’s good. But we ran out of pellets, too. That’s bad. But they sell pellets in every grocery store, supermarket, lumber yard, opium den, bordello, Walmart, and feed store in Maine. That’s good. But every single one of them is completely out of pellets, in the whole state of Maine. That’s bad. But I’m currently making ten pieces of furniture, and I burn the tapered cut-offs from the legs for heat. That’s good. But they only lasted a day. That’s bad. But the Tractor Supply company down the street got a pallet of pellets yesterday. That’s good. The people before us bought twenty bags. That’s bad. We bought the other thirty bags. That’s good. Maine is nothing but trees, trees everywhere, trees growing out of the gutters on your house, trees crowding out the flowers in your pots, but the pellets came in bags labeled: Made in Alabama. I have no idea if that’s good or bad, but it sure is something.

Yay Spring.

Month: March 2014

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