Sunday, March 17, 2013

Powerman 5000

Powerman 5000: 1994

Kenmore Square in Boston MA the year 1994, the buzz: free concert in the square by local rock bands. I do not recall the reason for the event but there was a couple of them held year after year for a couple of years. Free concerts in Boston are rear and free concerts that shut down an entire area near Fenway Park was unheard of. I showed up with bells on. Michelob was there in full support of the festivities shelling out beer: two hands, two beers. It was a bright sunny day with beautiful woman scantily clad, were plentiful. One local band that was playing was having some local success called “Fighting C#cks” were headlining the show. The name of the band is in reference to rooster fights. The other bands I had not heard of yet, but a free outdoor show was enough for me to show. To my surprise Michelob showed. During the show I was busy checking out women and what color shoes they were wearing, blue, reds and shaded leather. I was enjoying the sights. My itinerary for the day was just watching women with music in the back round. An unknown band, to me, came on second to last on the set of I believe 4 bands. Disrespectfully I ignored their entrance to the stage. The band launched into one of the most powerful sets I have ever and including even today have ever heard. That band was and is Powerman 5000, they had just finished up recording and releasing a Compact Disk titled “True Force” which the next day I went to Tower Records and purchased. Tower Records had a section of local music, bear in mind this was still pre-internet as we know it today and to buy music required going to a music store and not all carried local music. To sample what I am talking about go to youtube and check out some sounds from “True Force.” Like this tune called Organized, one of my favorites.

I asked around to some of the concert goers who the band was and no one seemed to know. A rock club named the Rat was next to the show and the bar tender told me their name, he had heard of them. The band has a mixture of rap and rock with steel drums or use of percussion. Nobody at the time was playing this style of music and its sound was brand new. The first time I heard steel drums was in Waltham Mass as a youth. A Puerto Rican section of the town is where I first heard it as the folks would play these steel drums in the alley ways of Charles St. Segregation of nationality was a part of life back then for all the wrong reasons and not true today for all the right reason. I would cut through Charles St while carrying my shoe polishing gear. Waltham, at the time, was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most bars per square mile in the United States. At the time I would polish shoes for 10 cents and would usually receive 25 cent from the patrons. This was big money for a 9 year old and I would clean up. In the early seventies wearing dress shoes was popular and the style. Later bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit would pound these same sounds, rap rock. I still love the sounds of steel drums and plan to incorporate it in my music as soon as I can find people willing to lay down some tracks that are over forty and not retiring from music or have picked up an acoustic guitar and starting to fall asleep.

I became a top ten fan showing up at each show. At the time they mainly played at The Rat, in Kenmore Square. I didn’t miss a one. One night before their set I bought them a picture of Rats Brew, a cheap on tap beer that the The Rat sold. It was least I could do for a band that was entertaining me every other month. They would pack the joint full of different type of people. Take note, what I mean was the variety of people who would show. There were Spanish Speaking Gang members showing, college folk, regular local crowd and never any trouble except for one night. (In 1994 the east coast west coast gang tension was nearing its height of explosion and the dudes were flying colors loud and clear with no miss understanding. Later rappers realized that working together was more profitable and less fearing than fighting, in the early 2000's era you started to see "featuring" on CD covers as rappers started to collaborate rather than segregate) I was hanging in the back area of the club before the band took stage. What was occurring during the show which would later be called Mosh Pitt, at the time it was just strange sight to see. Mosh Pitt’s consisted of the area in front of the stage in which people would bounce off of each another. One night a 5’1” young lady with blonde hair weighting in at 95 lbs on a rainy day was bouncing off people. She wound up and knocked out a dude with one punch. I would fathom to say that he probably deserved it. She did not have a violent look about her. A 6’5” bouncer came and carried her up the stairs and out of the club. That’s the only trouble I had seen at their shows. With such a diverse crowed you would “think” it would be trouble but everyone showed to hear this band with a new sound called Powerman 5000. I took a date to one show, Kathy, she was not aware of the band and what went down at their shows. She liked music and was in a tribute band of Heart and played on a local Boston CD of Rolling Stones music produced by the man himself,Jimmy Miller called Boston Gets Stoned the song is Dandelion. She had no idea what she was in for. She was walking around the stage and I kept telling her to watch out for when the band was coming on stage that things tend to get crazy in front of the stage and to be aware of this. She ignored me figuring that she had seen plenty of madness at rock shows and she considered herself a vet at rock shows which was true but not to this music. Well the band came on and launched into their typical powerful set in which the crowd went into a frenzy like piranha. She got caught up in front and could not exit the front area. I had to grad Cathy with all my might and drag her to the back of the show. She was in complete shock of what was going on and all I could say to her was "look it, I told you to watch out.”

Creative Commons Copyright by Dess Dermondy

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NAFTA and the Evolution of the World Economy


North American Free Trade Act

Is NAFTA a success or failure?

There are many views and opinions on weather NAFTA is a success or failure. While researching the content for this paper I came across many opinions about its success or failure. What I found is that both statements are true with regard to success or failure. The act has been successful for agriculture and a failure for manufacturing yet successful for profits for manufacturing corporations. There is a two to one ratio. Is the ultimate question about the world economy evolving to the point that we have easier trading among companies trough out the world. This is still unfolding as there are presently dozens of trade treaties among countries of the world for easier for companies to export and import goods and services. The overwhelming opinion is that these treaties are working and expanding. Is the lost of manufacturing jobs the product of evolution among trade partners with the USA? Yes, apparently so, according to the numbers of lost jobs in which no one is arguing the point of manufacturing jobs lost. While the world evolves to a world economy the old way of thinking rejects NAFTA and other trade treaties. The new way of a new world order with regard to a world economy is currently unfolding, stay tuned. If the United States evolves as the management branch of a world economy, NAFTA will be in history the beginning treaty that started the view of a world economy.

NAFTA officially began on January 1, 1994 and over the course of 15 years has been implemented. NAFTA is not an overnight thought but an organized implementation of agreements between the United States, Mexico and Canada. As stated in article 102 of NAFTA agreement outlines its purpose. The purpose of NAFTA is as follows: To promote fair competition among companies of other Nations, increase investment opportunities, protect intellectual property, create procedures that resolve disputes over trade, also to establish frame work for further trilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation among NAFTA participants. The one agreement that receives the most headlines has to do with conditions of fair competition. The one country that seems to benefiting the most has been Canada. Their exports have almost doubled in recent years. The arguments arise from supporters of manufacturing job loss here in the United States. Between 1994-2010 the United States has lost 682, 000 plus jobs with 80% being from manufacturing sector. The industries most hit are motor vehicles, textiles, computers and electrical appliances that were once made here in the United States. The lower wages in Mexico is the main factor for the movement of manufacturing.

Mexico has been hardest hit by farm jobs lost, 1.3 million jobs. Interestingly the lost has been by imports from the United States and subsidized farming has been able to sell produce for under cost to produce. Odd, because one of the reasons NAFTA is established is not to allow unfair competition. Yet the same could be said for lower wages of the Mexican work force. The work force in the United States cannot compete with the wages in Mexico. The average worker earns $3.50 per hour while in the United States the minimum wage is currently at $7.25. It is impossible to compete with a $5.00 difference. There is talk of raising the minimum wage in which I support but also wonder if this will further hurt the manufacturing worker. With an increase in the minimum wage further job loss is eminent. In order for survival at current rates with regard to rent and food basic survival, a minimum wage increase has to happen. One cannot survive with wage alone at $7.25 per hour without help from the federal government. An increase in Federal minimum wage would decrease someone need for Federal support. The give and take affect never ends.

This chart clearly indicates the difference in wages between countries. I added other countries because more trade agreements are in the works. The decisions among law makers is one of sacrifice or are they willing to further sacrifice further manufacturing jobs for corporate profits as the 99% protesters lend to believe or are we as a country in the process of evolving to a world economy? In my opinion we are evolving and I feel it is important to evolve in the name of progress.

This evolving world economy with treaties such as NAFTA has increased exports and benefited countries of Canada, Mexico and United States. Canada and Mexico exports have increase over 400 billion in 13 years. The United States exports of agriculture to Canada and Mexico have increased from 22% to 30% of total farm exports. Business investments have grown here in the United States from Mexico and Canada by 117% in 15 years since NAFTA began as compared to 1979 to 1993 45% increase. Trade among the trilateral agreement has grown from 297 billion to 930 billion. U.S. corn exports to Mexico have increased 175%. Exports of fruits and vegetables to Canada have increased 45%. The benefits to the United States poultry market has increased to Mexico by 60% and to Canada by 100%.

As indicated most of the successes of NAFTA for the United States are in the agriculture and livestock markets. Thirty years ago prior to NAFTA these markets were depressed in the U.S.. NAFTA has and is continuing to improve these markets. Agriculture is part of the back bone of the economy in the U.S.. Manufacturing has declined as the U.S. becomes managers in the world market and countries such as Mexico become the producers/ manufactures with the help of treaties such as NAFTA. At one time I was against treaties such as NAFTA until I have recognized the evolving economics that theses treaties have caused. I once was part of the manufacturing industry namely research and development, which I spent my first 18 year working career and have begun the process of retooling with the help of Manchester Community College in seeking a degree in HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). Recognizing trends and changes is important in staying with the curve of society and becoming a part of rather than rejecting, change.

Creative Commons Copyright by Dess Dermondy

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Memories of a 1965 Dodge Dart

1984, my senior year in High School. Many folks will state that High School will be the best time of your live. Part true but the fall back to that statement is the lack of cash flow. I and many others were constantly broke during these wonderfull years. Home work was at 2 to 3 hours per evening. For a rebal teen these were heavey numbers to endure. Even with this home study program I was only capable of c-d average. Later i learned this would have been a a-b average at other schools due to high standards set. Regardless I wanted to work so I could buy a new car. At teenage level new cars are a constant fanticy. To this day I am still unable to afford a new car or truck for that matter. During this time era I owned a 1969 Chevy El-Cameno. Stuffed in the engine compartment was a 455cu Buick motor, large block. Over sized springs were installed in the front end to handle the extra wieght of the motor(compaired to the stock motor). Even though I love this car and to this day love the 1968-69 chevy El-Comeno, this is not the car I have many memeries from. The car that scared me for life is the 1965 Dodge Dart GTA, owned by a friend (sence grammer school) Anthony Ascolese (spell check on the name). Equipted with a 273cu motor, which by the numbers sounded tame but proved everything but tame. Badges on the car desiginated the car "GTA", I have tried to look up what GTA stands for on the internet with no answers, (if any one knows or cares to research further please leave me a note in the comments section to be added in). Standard for the car were bucket seats with a center console. Back then, the use of chrome was abundent. There wis chrome lased through out the interior compartment from the shifter knob to the outside window tracks. The automatic shifter is located between the seats with 1, 2, D designations for the transmission gears. "EMMA" as we called Anthony bacvk then, used the shifter as though it were a standard transmission. Constantly adjusting the gears with no argument from the transmission. I have never seen anybody like Emma work the transmission so hard (it never failed). Emma could have made an excellent Reliability Engineer for Dodge. He tested the mechanical limits of that car on a daily basis. When he purchased the rig he stuffed a largest cam avalible(do not recall the specs) and masive carborator. The matched cam and carborator provven a perfit combonation for it had tremedous straight line performance. The motor also equipted with solid lifters( lifters open the valves to allow combustion). For the times solid lifters were proven reliable for horse power seeking fans. hydraulic lifters are subject to failure to contamination in the oil and extreme pressure during hard accleration. The carborator, being a large model, complemented the cam by delivering large volumes of fuel into the combustion chamber of the motor.

Emma and I both worked at a local Exxon gas station with two bays for repairs. The owner, Mike Forest, alowed us to use the bays after hours to work on our own cars as long as we put the tool away when done asnd kept the bays clean. This ment we had full use of the car lifts and saved us lots of cash in paying others to work on our car. Try finding that today with every one claiming liability issues.

One Saturaday afternoon Emma had completed an adjustment on the solid lifters ( the draw back to solid lifters is they need adjusting from time to time). Emma decided to test the motor under load to check performance and began to do Donuts around the gas pumps. Donuts is an old slang term for spinning the car around in circles while spinning the tires. I counted 12 laps around the pumps when I noticed in the corner of my, blue lights. Emma continued doing donuts with his eyes focused the gas pumps so not to crash into them. Crashing into them would have set off an exsplotion that would have shutt part of the town of Lexington (MA) down. The blue lights turned out to be the local police. Officer Tim Barry pulled in the Exxon though the car door open, jumped out with his arms flailing in the air yelling "SHUT IT DOWN SHUT IT DOWN." Anthony compliade, jumped out and asked "whats wrong." Officer Barry restated "WHATS WRONG?" He went into a full blown explanation on "WHATS WRONG." After explaning the wrongs about going around gas pumps with the tires spinning, exspostions and possible death, he told Anthony not to do it again. Emma stated he only did it a couple of times. "A COUPLE OF TIMES?" Officer Barry yelled back, "Anthony the whole Police station has been watching you," with that statment the officer pointed in the direction of the Police station. The station was located 100 yards due west from the gas station. Emma and I both looked in the direction the Officer was pointing to conferm that you could see from the station. He was right, not only could you clearly see but there was also Police Officers still looking out the window. Seeing this Emma apologized. the Officer jumped back in cruser, gave Anthony one final look over and left.

On an another occation Emma phoned me on a Sunday morning telling me to come on down to the gas station right away. There was a tone of advenchure is his voice. With out questioning him I imediatly set off for the station. The station was located at the end of my streeet on Fletcher ave and Woburn st. I parked the El-Cameno and asked "whats going on," Emma explained that he had just cut the exhaust off his car from the headers. He informed me he wanted to hear how load the car was with no exhaust. We jumped in the Dart and turned headed East on Woburn st. At approximatly 25mph I exclaimed "wow thats load" "oh ya watch this" he replied. Emma stomped on the accelirator with such force that he lifted himself several inches off the seat. The car erroupted in a deafining ball of noice. The mid 1980's were pre car alarms. If cars had alarms back then he would have set off every alarm on the street as we passed. Emma continue with the accelorator pinned to the floor boards for about 1/16 of a mile. i was holding on for dear life with one hand on the dash board and the other holding the door shut. I hadent noticed the speed we were traveling for I was keeping an eye out for dogs on a Sunday mornibing stroll, solo. No dogs were around. We reached the end of Wobun st turned around and proceeded in the westerly direction with the same acceloration. We arived back at the station, when we left Emma calculatingly left one of the garage doors open at the station. He pulled into the bay a bit too fast and screeched to a hault, jumped out and shut the garage door. With-in 15-20 minutes we had the exhaust back on the car and the car parked out front as though nothing had happened. Emma was constantly looking out the windows as though waiting for the Police to show, they never did. Back then Lexington did not staff the Department on sunday mornings but I can assure you that the switch board at the Police station lite up. I believe Anthony was dissap[ointed that no Police showed because he pacing back and forth while looking out the windows. Anyone who live on Woburn st and was home should beable to recall that Sunday morning.

That Dodge Dart recieved a complete and thorough thrashing each day with no exceptions. During the week we would visit Jonny Carrolls junk yard in Lexington to pick up tires. Emma would burn them off the car during the week and weekends. Anthony was on first name basess with the owner Jonny. He did slow down on the donuts because one day he split the rim in half doing donuts and swore them off. Very rarly did that car ever break down, the car accually seemed to enjoy it. I miss that car even though it was not mine. Creative Commons Copyright by
Dess Dermondy

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bow and Arrow Pub

When faith is no more he shall rise again, on a hill upon a horse; guarded by his Knights on foot, he will ponder with head down on where he went wrong, this I know this I’ve seen…Dess

Bow and Arrow Pub, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1990

We would travel to Cambridge Massachusetts to a local hot spot called the Bow and Arrow Pub, managed by a man I remember only by first name Rich and his knock out ,soon to be wife Tiffany. It was an interesting place to hang out if you were/are interested in night life activities. The shape of the interior was ‘L” shape, with the front half occupied by Harvard University students and the back half occupied by locals and avid motorcycles. On occasion the front of the Pub would have some dozen or more bikes out front with sardine standing room only inside. I mean jamming. Being in my early twenties this was prime. I have heard that the Pub was used as a back drop in the movie “Good Will Hunting,” staring Matt Damon who attended Harvard from 1988-1992, yup, he was there. The back of the Pub had a juke box and pool tables and dart boards. The dart boards were located in the path of the restrooms and caution was needed when traveling to the “head.”

One would at first think that the three crowds of attendees would not mix well. The Harvard Crimson, newspaper, did a false story regarding the Pub and the mix of people,check it out here. They made claims there were animosity between the students and others at the Pub. This could not have been any further from the truth. In fact Rich, the manager, cut the story out and framed it and hung it on the wall for all to see. We would read from it on occasion for a good laugh. The person who wrote the story was directly lying with malicious intent, to give the Pub a bad name. To know that this writer is now a leader in some community somewhere is freighting. Many Universities in the Boston area, at the time, had it out for bars including Boston University who went after The Rathskeller or commonly known as "The Rat."The Rat was a local hard rock night club that supported many bands over the years including but far from limited too: The Ramones, Powerman 5000, Orange9 mm, Pixies, Dump Truck and hundreds of other bands that later disappeared or became famous. This was Harvard’s failed attempt to go after the Bow and Arrow Pub simply because it was a hot spot and very popular with the students. The main reason for the Pub being so popular was the availability of cheap beer. Harvard Square, Cambridge Massachusetts, is an expensive area. Boston University won the battle over “the Rat” and bought the block the club was located on and evicted the club.The diverse crowd that showed up made the place.

Both sides of the Pub got a kick out of the story and both sides of the Pub got along just fine, ask anybody who was there and they will tell you the same thing I just did.

Tiffany, the manager’s future wife, ran the back side of the Pub. I asked her why she tended bar in the rear and not the front, she told me that the rear of the bar tipped better than the front half. The students were broke and would only have one or two draughts. I remember Tiffany having Rich clean her side of the Pub.

One particular night at closing time we had the bikes out front and fired them up and started down the wrong way down a one way street before realizing the right way to meet up with Massachusetts Ave, the main drag in Cambridge. Harvard Square, Cambridge, was always busy even at one in the morning. Maneuvering a Harley Davidson motorcycles through and around traffic was tricky.

With a bit of a buzz on, difficult. (for those of you who mentioned to me that I am glorifying drinking I not, this is just how things went down). When we came to the center of Harvard Square, a fire truck was making its way through the traffic with lights and siren blazon. We proceeded to blast past the fire truck at half throttle which at the time was referred to as lane splitting. Lane splitting was not recommended by the Surgeon General and no longer practiced. Bill the Cop led the way. Lane splitting is flat out hazardous to your health. With cars moving on both sides. I remember the driver of the fire truck looking out the window down at us in amazement that we had the “balls” to pass him while he had his lights on. That blank look on his face I have not forgotten. It was no big deal to us at the time. The two fellows in the rear of the truck had that same look. We never got pulled over the driver must not have called it in to the local cops.

We travelled to Route 2, a small highway that heads west; I had a fist full of throttle by this time and bad timing. When making a corner on a motorcycle, do not accelerate. You tend to drift because the bike will try to straighten out. Well drift I did, right in to the guard rail. I hit the rail hard and was heading down to the pavement, hard. I hit the guard rail with such force that all I could see were sparks. The front end started to wobble uncontrollably. From left to right and back again. I remember the bike starting to lean with the wobble and I grabbed the throttle and twisted it to wide full open. The bike straighten out and pulled out of a very deadly situation. I later learned that this is called inertia. With rotating mass a motorcycle will try to straighten up right. I did not know about this at the time and later read about it in an engineering hand book. If it wasn’t for inertia I would not be here today. The next day my 48’ would not start on Sunday it did. I enjoyed working on my bike and the bike was in top condition and there was no explanation for it not starting. I miss this bike even today. It was a 1948 motor in a 1958 frame with a six inch over stock front end, wide glide. A fellow from the Netherlands bought it for resale overseas. I was short on cash at the time, today I would never sold it because they are so hard to replace. Hay, I was young and you know, live and learn. I would sleep on that bike before I sold it today. I now sit and think about that bike and how hard it would be to replace it. Harleys are an expensive and selfish toy, I miss riding a bike. That Sportster in my blog was stolen and most likely the last. To me, riding, is therapy. I am not going to try to explain it.

Creative Commons Copyright by Dess Dermondy