Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh, the inhumanity.

The story of Puppy Doe has been on my mind all week, and is probably contributing to my overall crankiness. September is always our busiest month with events, and I'm overtired and a little bit prickly. But the story of Puppy Doe is one that would turn even a great day to shit.

In case you've missed it on the Interwebs, a young pitbull mix female was found dumped in a park in Boston at the end of August. The person who found her thought she'd been hit by a car and took her to the vet. If only it had been that simple.

After a thorough checkup, the vet determined that the dog had not only been repeatedly beaten and burned, she had also had her legs pulled in a medieval-style "draw." And this didn't just happen once - the vet's investigation showed a consistent history of severe torture and abuse. The dog only weighed 18 pounds when she should have weighed closer to 40. Because her injuries were so severe, she had to be euthanized, but not before she had the chance to have a real meal and be petted on and fussed over by people who cared.

Now, to give a little backstory, a woman claiming to be the dog's original owner came forward and said she had to give up her pet thanks to breed restrictions in her area, even though the dog never presented a danger to anyone. She rehomed the dog via Craigslist and got periodic updates from the new owner until sometime in July. When contacted, the new owner said she had given the dog away. (These details are still coming out, so who knows if they're 100% accurate or not.)

Y'all, I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around this. Not even one iota. Just like I can't wrap my head around people who beat and torture children and elderly folk. I don't get it. To say that it makes me sad is a grave understatement; to say it fills me with abject sorrow is closer, but it's still something more than that. I don't know that there's even a word for it in English.

What I do know is that law enforcement needs to take cases like these with all the seriousness they can muster, because there is a clear link between crimes against animals and crimes against humans. So far, the Boston police seem to be taking it seriously, understanding that the perpetrator is likely to continue this abuse on other animals or people. (Y'all remember a guy named Jeffrey Dahmer, right?) The person who perpetrated this abuse did it on purpose. ON PURPOSE. Repeatedly. Deliberately. Methodically. What kind of a sick excuse for a human being do you have to be to do this sort of thing?

I don't know. I just don't know. We can insist that the abusers be punished, but the more pressing question is, how do we prevent these things from happening in the first place? What makes a person think it's okay to torture a living being?

I can't comprehend.

Till next time - hug your pets. And your people.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The futility of preserving the ephemeral.

You know how we knowledge geeks are. When we're learning about something, we have to compile every little scrip & scrap pertaining to our passion, no matter how insignificant it may seem to anyone else. This includes a multitude of random sticky notes, scrawlings on old gas receipts, scribblings on cocktail napkins, and especially for us musicians, sound recordings of all kinds. We hoard these things like they're rare gold (my preciousssss!), and in a sense, I suppose they are.

In addition to my sticky notes and old receipts, I have music everywhere: Kindle, iPod, two recorders/mp3 players, various thumb drives, and other computer files. I got myself the iPod Shuffle as a graduation present when I finished grad school a few years ago, and it was GREAT! Between what I got from iTunes and what I uploaded from my own CDs, I had a pretty big library. Then one day I opened up iTunes and . .  EMPTY. Nothing there. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Gone. I also had to reset the device because it was glitching, so the iPod was empty too. SWELL. I had to rebuild the library from scratch. Now the computer won't recognize the iPod, but that's a whole nother story, as we say in the South.

When I started going to Irish session night at the pub a few months ago, a friend suggested I record everything in case there was something I wanted to learn later. I dug out my first little voice recorder, which still works great after 8 years, but it doesn't hold a lot. I discovered that for what I paid for it back then, I could get a recorder/mp3 player with 4 gigs of storage. Shut up and take my money!

Well. I had a great recording of the most recent session, including some mind-blowing uillean piping. I mean, really ultra-spectacular. I sat there doing the Simple Dog Head Tilt, and when I looked over at the flute player, he had this look of disbelief and amazement on his face. I can't even describe it to you. It was that amazing. And I had it all on my digital recorder. . . that is, until I accidentally erased it yesterday.

Yes. I was trying to upload some no-longer-commercially-available archival recordings and in the process, pushed the wrong tiny button. If that weren't cringe-worthy enough, I outdid myself a little later by erasing ALL my live recordings. Every. Single. One. I thought they were stored in a different file, and I was wrong. Poof. Gone. Not recoverable. The archival recordings are safe, but all my live stuff is off in the ether.

In the 17th century, when memento mori paintings were a thing, musical instruments were often included as symbols of impermanence. Before recorded music came along, all music was live. Let that sink in for a minute. If you're reading this, you've always lived in a world where recorded music was available in some medium: vinyl, cassette, 8-track, whatever. In the grand scheme of history, recorded music is a fairly new invention. Once upon a time, not too awfully long ago, if you wanted music, you had to either make it yourself or go someplace where someone else was making it. Once it was over, it was over. You couldn't go back and listen to it again.

But maybe, just maybe, you could remember how you felt.

I don't know the name of the tune the piper played, and couldn't even tell you how it goes, but I sure as hell remember how I felt. Amazed. Awestruck, even. Grateful and humble that I had the opportunity to be there at that moment with that particular group of people. And those are things you can't capture on a recording, anyway.

Till next time --- capture what's worth saving and don't worry about the rest.