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The Beauty of Ouch

Okey dokey. Settling in with a smile. Last time tour ended, I think Sept of '07, I set out to buckle down and get to business. That I did! but not without a cost. Oh I learned a lot and it was well needed with the economic turmoil and running a small business and all. This time though, the outlook I see around me is a much rosier picture. So this time home I making sure to better balance work with fun. And what could be more fun than building a complex multi-angled custom enclosure from scratch with no drawings, designs or sketches?

The back shell had a bummer of a shallow angle so I put in a tension support

Side wall and front edge

and we have a rough assembly

Router, trim and add in the cut to fit face

Paint it black, make some custom brackets out of aluminum and old K&M mic booms. If you look carefully you can see I drilled and tapped some holes in the boom swivels

The clutch is accessible through the side handles

Add some light and a music stand screws into the boom swivels

And ha! A tiltable music stand inside a wedge to hold set lists and fits perfectly between two Rat S Wedges. And with a little bit of work on making a bracket, it easily converts to a teleprompter wedge.

I started saturday morning and finished sunday eve with a bit of help sunday and still got the shorty softball and soccer games in. Now that was fun!

**** Sound Nerd Speak ****

I want to thank Kevin Young and Jeff Mackay from Live Sound Magazine who came out to the Toronto Blink 182 show and spent the day with me. As y'all may know by now, I have spent quite a bit of time and energy working on new and hopefully usefull subwoofer configurations. Iit was so cool to see that Kevin and Jeff were not only fun to with but they really grasped the gist of what I was working on. If you do not get Live Sound Magazine and are interested, check out page 40 of this link and let me know what ya think:

And another kind of cool smile thing, the EAW MicroWedge's 12 and 15 got 'readers choice' awards on Pro Sound Web

These are things I need to remember when the inevitable life stalls occur.

**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****

And while we are on the subject of smiles, I may as well immerse deeply, because it is always better that way. I recieved this e-note not long ago that literally made my day!

Hi Dave,
It's for a long time that I wanted to contact you again after we met at a concert of the Red Hot Chilly Peppers in Bologna a view years ago.
Probably you don't remember about me... let me give you some indications. We met at the supermarket in front of the Palamalaguti stadium near Casalecchio di Reno (Bologna).

You were very gentile to me and gave me the possibility to see all the concert from behind the scenes. After I told you that I'm a sound technician you let me have an "all areas pass". I still have the entire ticket of the concert.

Why I'm telling you all this things? Because after I meet you I had an enormous professional grove. Call it coincidence, call it destiny... you may laugh, but after one week I worked with my first W 8 System of Martin up to 16000 Watts and an K8 console of Soundcraaft. That was amazing for me. One year later I went to Milan where I now life and work. I'm specialized in big conferences, events like Fashion, computer, medical stuff etc.

But very often I must recognize that I have to thank You for the possibility to think big. It was about the thought that even behind this big shows they are humans to do the work, not gods. To meet a great human like you changed my hole approach to this job.

Excuse me for my very limited English knowledges. I hope you''ll understand. One thing is to speak English every day during your work, one thing is to write down something that has any sense. I'm Italian after all, and i've never studied english at school.

I appreciate your fantastic and very comprehensive blog regarding sound systems. You must be a fantastic sound engineering teacher!
There must be a way to thank you ... do you still like Italian Coffee (I remember that at that time you bought some typical italian products like olive oil and of course coffee and we left saying that after the concert I would offer one to you. Do you have an original italian Moka Coffee-machine? If you let me know an address where I can send one to you, including some packets of real italian Coffee, it would be a great pleasure for me to send one to you.

Hope to see you sometimes if you are in Italy for work or for pleasure...

And thank you Stefan for sending the note! I have also recieved quite a few positive responses to the blog and I must say that that is what makes it worthwhile. There are people in my life past and present that have opened various doors of inspiration for me and to know I am passing it on and it is appreciated, rules!

Figuring out a destination and being confident that that is where you truly want to head is the hardest part.

But it it sure seems the the road is full of potholes, obsticles and worst of all is taking a wrong turn.

But when when you see it clearly, it is then easy to recognize especially when you get there

The question are "what speed to travel?" and "how much exposure and what expense am I willing to endure to get there?" Or perhaps "what amount of reckelessness can I get away with?" Either way, at least for me, no worthwhile life adventures come without a bit of bumps and trauma. Annnnnd, it seem I am not alone in this is this perspective. Perhaps out of one upmanship or just pure fearlessnes. A dear companion of mine, much to my fear and concern surfed right toward a huge rock, Closer and closer, I am think noooo, dont do it! Yet the desire to push the limits must have been overwhelming. Finally, I abandoned ship but not my companion, oh no, he heads right for the rock and ouch! That had to hurt!

Everyone, please tell Rat Surf Board to be more careful! He just wont listen to me. Oh wait, Perhaps, like me, he needs to learn the hard way. Speaking of learning the hard way, raise your hand if you think Taco should jump from a 6 foot high bunk bed. ??? Anyone?

That's what I thought. Some ideas are better than others and I am sorry to say that Taco now has a broken leg.

But I must admit, I would not trade the bumps and bruises for boredom. Boredom and death avoid at all costs, life is what is lived in between.

Dave Rat


All Saturdays

It's saturday night and I can feel from somewhere way back when, the residual desire to go out and about and not miss out. Outside my window I hear a few muscle car motors and joyous voices of my neighbors revving up to party on this warm beach evening. Yet it"s 8 pm and I am laying almost content in bed with a bottle of wine thinking about the significance of saturday nights, well content on catching up on some computing and unraveling a bloggery post. Then it dawns upon me. Tour for me is nothing other than all saturday nights! Everyday for the past 70 days has been a saturday rock show evening with new and old friends. Even the days off were just showless versions of the same. It's all good and this night is closer to a school night for me, hey did I mention that I love surfing?

Thank you Gene for the photo!

Actually surfing is just one of the clear mind adventures I crave. It is all about finding something that requires so much mind focus and energy outlay that the world slips away. Years ago traffic tickets and broken body parts inspired me to give up most motorized versions, though a laid back Harley ride remains an exception. Mixing sound for rock shows, snowboarding, sex with someone I feel a true connection with and designing/building things, all fulfill a version of the 'mental dream pause' that regrounds. Yet it is important to know our limits. For me, I crave thrill and have illusions of invincibility. Big huge owie's have learned me to at least attempt moderation but some things are less malleable, for example; sound limits in venues. The question is, how close can we get without having undesirable outcomes?

I remember one show back when I was mixing Rage Against the Machine in a field and the venue told me I had a 98db A weighted limit at mix position. Bummer, especially with Rage. "Who measures, it? How is it measured?" I asked. They introduced me and and I saw the sound meter and met the human. That's the rule? No variation? 98 at mix, period? "yes, no leeway, do not go over or the band will be fined $10,000 per minute over, it is in the contract.". I pondered and looked out at the FOH setup and then asked for 6 stage hands. I had them break down mix position which was at 80 feet and moved it to 175 feet away. They had a full meltdown, but hey, it was in the contract. I was happy. The rules make it fun. I love finding the lines and seeing how far they bend.

So as far as the rules in the sheet above, ouch, they are including low end. Bummer. Getting smarter they are! "Where is the measurement mic?" Oooh on a tower to my right dead on with the main right hang. So, I just turned the right PA hang down 10 db and cranked the left PA and the side hangs up. That actually made thinings worse for noise to the neighbors but hey, I obeyed the rules. Actually everyone was really cool and they ended up letting me push it and in exchange I dropped the level of the right side hang that was the main issue with neighbors. I must admit that I enjoy the challenges. I guess my point is that it is better to embrace and navigate than throw wrenches and point fingers. Our job as soundies is to get the best we can and do the best with what we have. The whole 'bitch and moan' session is annoying at best.When people complain to me, all that comes to mind is that they want attention. Yet when someone complains, the last thing I want to do is give it to them.

But hey, it is easy to get confused. It's harder to find a simple path through complexity, so much that needs to happen, how do we connect it all?

So back in the meandering longevities. Blink at the Hollywood Palladium! The first show I ever saw the was The Clash on London Calling tour. I have done hundreds of gigs there so I know it well. Check this out, full Orgasmatron setup, K1, KUDO side hands and it was pure heaven, so fun!

And this was the closest picture I have to how it felt

But before this we did a a benefit for and it was really cool. Much respect for cool people doing cool things.

Blink played Tony's first benefit 5 years ago at a bowling alley and back again. Oh, look up Ronald Burkle if you are so inspired. Multi billionaire started as a bag boy. Well, he was the one one that donated the Beverly Hills backyard space.

Since today seems to be the day for giving props to cool people, here are a few more things high on my list of cool. Flea, as you may know has a non profit music school to help kids learn music. check it out. So all these kids show up with crap instruments as the large manufacturers have lost a bit of track in their focus to meet profit margins, the Walmart basses are just junk. Parents don't know better. Did you ever get one of those bicycles with hard tires and everything rubbed so bike riding was no fun? So Flea is now making inexpensive high quality basses so parents can buy their kids something and playable Every Bass is played before it is sold to be sure it is all good. And, to support the music school there is a Benefit every year called hullaballoo , Ben Harper is playing this year and I go nearly every year and donate my time gear. If you are in in LA it is worth the adventure.

But with every smile come a tear. And though I do well at hiding my sadness as it is often more than I can handle, like skipping stones I try and float over the things that hurt. Losing someone that has been a magic influence for nearly three decades in my life hurts more than I wish to share. If you did not know him, maybe take a look as he is a good heart well missed. Goodbye Brendon Mullen and no single web site shows his depth so I linked a Google search of his name. When I die I want to be remembered with a smile, so I swallow the sad and smile,

And on that note never forget that more than anything, safety first. Always be prepared in case something goes wrong it is wise to have a back up plan, Hence the reason I made sure I was familiar with the medical staff that travels with the Aquabats.

I feel better knowing that if something were to go awry, there are professionals ready and willing to assist.

And finally, Oh, as you may know know, though I do not hate Apple and ATT, I profoundly disagree with extortion and milking of the captives. So therefore I enjoy watching the inevitable dilution of their greedy monopolistic vectors|htmlws-sb|dl2|link7|

And feel free to disargee, but please know I practice what I preach. I share info rather that conceal, I network rather than form exclusive alliances and I strive for compatibility rather than the proprietary "must buy from me." And if I did not, you most likely would not be reading these words right now

But hey, if ya like being trapped, more power to ya.

This completes a bottle of wine and un edited bloggery post. Rock On!

Dave Rat

Critters Dreams and Machines

Finding the balance between being content with appreciation and striving to reach the new heights is an ongoing contrast. At least for me I look back and see it has been a cyclical process. I look around and find the things I wish to change, build some dreams and goals and then set out to accomplish them. Focus, hard work and consistency sooner or later finds me arriving where I was headed. The happiness of my new found achievements and surroundings inspires pause and some time to immerse with smiles till it becomes normal and so I look around and find the things I wish to change build some dreams and goals and set out to accomplish them.

Sometimes things work out to where all three become merged into something less volatile and more consistent, and that works too for a while and then over time as I find my life become a homogenous luke warm brown adventure, the cycles start again.

As the symbol to represent each phase became clear I went and got it tattooed to mark it my body so I would never forget. Those three markers are the only tattoos on my body. The first is the Rat on my left forearm which to me represent breaking free from expectations and freedom. Rats are intelligent, industrious, curious, relentless and feared. But not feared for their aggressiveness, but rather because they roam freely outside of the rules. And yet, their motives are simple and pure; to eat, sleep, sex, play and wander. I like that the rat 'weeds out the weak ones.' By that I mean, people that are so uptight or offended by it can not help but scoff and identify themselves and then they steer clear of my world. Next were the four the mechanical Hinge tattoos on my right wrist and elbow. It takes a lot more work to hack a new path than to follow a predictable one. The hinges on my arm are to remind me to work hard like a machine, no matter how tough things get, do not stop until the task is accomplished. A machine feels no pain, needs no sympathy and does not follow the 9 to 5 with breaks and lunch pattern. And finally, the Monkey on my hip and thigh. That was the missing link to happiness. For years I worked hard but failed to take adequate time to smile. Without the monkey it is easy to fall into the martyr/workaholic trap. She represents immersion in the pleasures of my accomplishments and unfolding of dreams realized.

All this comes to mind as this fun celebration adventure starts to wind down to it's last few weeks and I get to switch it up to home world.

Speaking of adventure and home world. On the way from the Bakersfield show to San Diego I jumped on the Production Bus, which pulled off the freeway and dropped myself and Royal, the rigger at Burbank airport at 3:45 am. The town car I had waiting dropped me off in Oxnard at 4:45am and was fast asleep in my own bed by 5. Of course I left my straw hat in the town car.

By 7:15am I had my wetsuit and surfboard in the car and by 7:30 was paddling out. Good morning sunshine!

Breakfast with the surf buddies and made it to Rat in time for our weekly meeting that I had been doing by phone, Since no one knew I was in town, I made the call to do the meeting and walked while on the phone. Ooooh, look what I found in my office!

That rules! Thank you! I did some sound proofing work and and this was thank you gift!

Next stop, go pick the shorties up from school! Oh, how beautiful to see their smiles and pace pick up as the see me. I can not wait to see and hang out with them. They came over did homework and we made dinner together, so fun!

A good night's sleep a cab to the train station and

an easy and beautiful train ride on the Surfliner to San Diego. All Good!

Oh, and thank you Phil for an awesome time in Portland. So fun, so happy!

May as well mix it up and not forget the rock show.

Ohh, check out the PA!

Gigs gigs and more gigs.

Dave Rat