Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why This is Taking So Long: The Process

I'm learning more about the process of self-publishing than I had ever expected,or wanted, to know. Unfortunately, the individual steps toward accomplishing this take at least as long as the editing, but are less satisfying.

As I mentioned, "Creating a Blog" was one of the first activities strongly recommend by the Self-Publishing Conference I attended last summer. Creating it wasn't hard; maintaining it - - that takes time. And I still need to work on promoting the blog, which includes Search Engine Optimization activities, though I don't intend to become an expert at that! There's a free service I subscribe to that sends me a weekly report on how many people have viewed my blog in the past week, how many are new vs. continuing readers, etc., but I can't get the count at the bottom of each 'page' of my blog to agree with theirs, and can't afford to spend the time figuring that out. At the moment, it's only off by a little more than 100 (that is, there have been 100 more views than what my counter shows).

But as I am now approaching the end of the first round of editing (which includes making certain that the tenses are consistent between chapters; translating or defining unfamiliar words in Yiddish, Russian, Polish and Hebrew; cutting out asides that don't further the action or contribute to our understanding of the characters, time or place; and substituting more familiar or recognizable words for obscure ones), I am starting to focus on some of the technical aspects of creating this book. I will periodically discuss individual elements of this process in individual blogs (so that I can spend more time working on the book and less time blogging about it).

Some of the elements are:
1) Identifying "thought leaders" and soliciting quotes from them for the back jacket of the book
2) Recruiting and selecting a book jacket designer who will provide 3 "test" covers, each using one of 3 "test" titles, to see which is most effective in drawing people, visually. (Once I have the test covers, I will post them on my blog and solicit votes/reactions to help me make a decision).
3) Determine the physical size of the book. It must be consistent with its competition in the narrative non-fiction category so that it doesn't stand out (in a negative way) on a bookstore shelf.
4) Determine how it will be printed/distributed: Should I identify a small press that can do the job to my specifications, such as Or go the print-on-demand (POD) route using an Amazon service called CreateSpace? Perhaps I should contact a University press.
5) Develop a marketing plan: There's pre-publication marketing and post-publication marketing. Pre-publication marketing includes getting involved in user forums discussing the same or similar subjects; identifying organizations whose members would be interested in the content of the blog (and eventually the book), participating in book review forums and contributing reviews of others books in the hopes that, when this book is finished that the individual sites to which I contribute will return the favor.
On the post-publication (or really 'peri'-publication) side: Do I hire a book shepherd (more on this role later)? A publicist? (While I can write and send out press releases, it never looks good to have the subject of the press release be the contact person, too). Is it timely relative to something that's going on either in the publishing industry or the world? What's my platform - - What's unique about the book and why am I uniquely qualified to represent it? This has to do with obtaining speaking engagements and publicity (which is necessary only if I want to sell the book).
6) Try to sell the movie rights. (This has never been a goal, though readers of selections of the book have suggested it. I'll think about this once I've completed everything else).

Many of these categories are circular, and someone with a more linear mind that mine could probably draw out a flow chart, but in order to determine the physical size of the book, I need to both look at the competition as well as have a final word count, which I won't have until I finish editing. If the competition, for example, is "Angela's Ashes," (which is a memoir rather than narrative non-fiction), then I need to consider that that was a 364-page book when it came out in hardcover, and a 500-page book of the same physical dimensions might appear too daunting to readers, no matter how enjoyable it is to read. And in order to determine whom or what to use as a publisher (the conference I attended recommended setting ones self up as a publisher and subcontracting out the individuals services ), I will need to know the size of the book, how I plan to distribute it, how I plan to market it, and how many copies to print. While the process appears to have a logical sequence to follow, unless I start on some downstream activities early, I will finish the book and then have to wait 6-9 months or more before I complete the other relevant tasks. All of which can, sometimes, give me a headache.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Case You Ever Wondered How an Arranged Marriage Worked...

The Reluctant Wedding

While I was growing up my father was as prosperous as a righteous man in this world—that is to say, he had about as much money as a Jew has pigs. That was not how he began life, for my father's father was the richest man in his town, being the only Jew permit¬ted to supply the local Russian fortress with scrap metal, which he transported up the Vistula in his own fleet of barges.

Consequently, Shloime Zalman, my father, was raised in such princely comfort that, when he had to go to cheder, d short distance away, he was driven in a coach drawn by two horses. But since man, as we know, is incomplete until male and female are j oined together, this made it only natural that at fourteen my father should one day without warning find himself betrothed to Rachel, daughter of Reb Shmuel Schlossberg, a ship's chandler and lumberman in nearby Novydvar, who herself had just attained the ripe age of thirteen.

The arrangements were of course made directly between the parents. After all, what did children know about a serious business like married life? The decision, in fact, was to hold the wedding that same year, before the two principals aged any further and possibly got ideas of their own.

Never, of course, did it enter my dear grandparents' heads that the way they raised their son might have left him insufficiently prepared to cope with future hardships, not to mention early marriage.

Fortunately, Reb Shmuel had committed himself not only to a generous dowry, but also to provide food and shelter for husband and wife "in perpetuity." So, as you can see, there was absolutely nothing to worry about.

Ten days before the appointed time for the wedding, the bride's entourage came gliding down the Vistula on their own ship, entertained by a Russian orchestra of (it was said) no less than sixty-four pieces, and a conductor from Vienna. They were met at the dock by the groom's family and, led by the band like an arriving circus or a military parade, the procession made its way to the marketplace. The shock waves from all this commotion not only jolted our own sleepy community, but shook up all the neigh¬boring towns as well.

In accordance with tradition, the wedding was accompanied by a seven-day feast for the poor. At every meal sacks full of coins were distributed, not only by the groom's father, but separately by his mother as well, who like Abraham's wife, was known as "Our Mother Sarah," for she gave not only with a full hand, but also with a full heart.

Like my father, Rachel, the bride, also had known nothing whatever about these plans for her future, until people had sud¬denly descended upon her and fitted her for new clothes. What excitement, to be dressed so much better than all her girl friends! Once she learned, however, that she was to be married, she be¬came intensely curious to know who her groom would be. But, being a properly modest girl, she was ashamed to ask. And since she didn't ask, nobody bothered to tell her. Why tell a child about such thing. Once under the chupah, she'd have time enough to find out.

But now, as the time came to lead the bride under the canopy, she suddenly balked. (Now, if such a thing happened in our day, it would be easy enough to imagine some cause. Perhaps the groom, after having sworn eternal love to her, had been found kissing another girl in some dark corner. Or, having brought his betrothed home from the theater, had been seen at an ice cream parlor with another, or things of that sort. But in those days, of course such occurrences were completely unheard of. And besides, the bride and groom didn't even know each other. So how did she know she wouldn't like him?) After great difficulty, they discovered what was the matter. Rachel wasn't in the mood to go out into the street because it was drizzling outside, and she was afraid of getting spots on her beautiful new silk dress.

The way my father's father told it, he had trouble with his candidate, too. Shloime Zalman absolutely did not want to be married that day. He, too, wanted to know why they couldn't wait a few days until the weather cleared up. They finally had to shout at him that this whole affair wasn't any of his business, he had nothing to say about it, that he was still a little snotnose of a boy, and when his elders told him to go, his job was not to argue but to go.

After a good deal of aggravation in both houses, the ceremony finally did take place as scheduled, and for seven days things were doing, as they say, "on tables and benches." Afterwards, the carpet of white linen on which the bride and groom walked from their homes to the synagogue was given to the poor, who used it to make shirts for themselves. This signified that the festivities were over.

My mother's parents now prepared to return home on their private ship, taking with them the groom, to be eternally provided for according to contract—not only himself and his bride, but also their children and children's children. In return for which all my father had to do was study Torah and live with his wife.

At this point, fresh complications arose. The new husband, who had meanwhile turned fifteen, burst into tears. He didn't want to go away with strangers. He wanted to stay home with his friends. When the Maratecks came aboard to say goodbye to their daughter-in-law, she became bashful and hid in a barrel. The result was that my father's mother had to go along until the boy accus¬tomed himself to his new situation. She said, "What can you do? After all, he's only a child. . . ."

But even with his mother there, each day, when the Schloss¬berg family sat down to dinner, my father did everything imagina¬ble to avoid sitting next to his wife. It was said of them that "their love burned like a wet rag."

My mother was equally reluctant to abandon her childhood. Often, her husband would come home from the house of study to find her playing in the yard. Hearing his approach, she would run hastily into the house, leaving her womanly head covering in the sand.

Time passed. Gradually Shloime Zalman was able to live with his wife without having his mother around. The young pair matured, grew to love each other, and had children of their own, including me. But, as we know, while we live in exile, Jewish wealth is as durable as smoke. Despite the marriage contract which guaranteed my father "sustenance in perpetuity," the Schlossberg fortunes took a sharp turn for the worse, and my father quite suddenly found himself obliged to provide not only for his growing family, but for his in-laws as well.

In later years my parents would point to their own lives as proof that true love comes only after marriage. In fact, they believed this so firmly that they tried not less than seventeen times to arrange matches for me. Finally, at the age of twenty-seven, I put a stop to negotiations for an "heiress" with red hair and a temper, and married the girl who, back in Warsaw, had saved me from being shot.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

An early sign of ADHD?

The first offense for which my grandfather had been sentenced to death was his response to being slapped by a non-commissioned officer for obtaining hot water for tea without permission. As he struggled back to his feet, this same officer screamed,
“Zhydovska morda! Jewface, pick up your hand and salute!” (except morda, more precisely, refers to the visage of an animal).

"Until he said that, I had been willing to overlook his bad manners. But you must remember I grew to manhood in a section of Warsaw where a man does not lightly, as the saying goes, let someone spit into his kasha. So, without thinking, I snatched up the full kettle and walloped him once across the head, and, while I was at it, also allowed my fist to find a resting-place on his broad nose. In the commotion that followed, with plenty of warm encouragement for both sides, he ended up on the bottom and I on top, while the blood from our mouths and noses mingled fraternally on the floor.

After the fight, my grandfather had insisted on walking to the hospital to emphasize that he had gotten "the better of the exchange":
"My injuries turned out to be hardly worth mentioning: A tooth knocked out by the first blow, and a finger cut to the bone by the sharp edge of my own smashed kettle. But they insisted on putting me to bed, so that my opponent, who, among other things, had lost part of his nose, should not suffer by comparison.

"[T]Here [his older brother] Mordechai finally found me at two o'clock the following morning. He'd brought his own little welcoming delegation of Jewish soldiers from our home town. But when he found out I had committed violence against a Russian of superior rank, Mordechai, in his loving anxiety over my ignorance and dimming prospects for survival, started to shout at me that unless I learned to control my “Polack temper” I would spend my army years going from one prison to another until I forgot what a Jew was."

But after surviving the first death sentenced, he must have felt invincible. Or after that, what was there to lose? Plus it would have satisfied his “young blood [that] craved excitement.”

In one of the last few chapters of the book, I discovered that my grandfather had understood something about his personality, as did the people who spent time with him. After escaping from a Siberian labor camp (about which you'll read later) his friend, Pyavka,
"Well aware of my knack for getting sidetracked by outlandish adventures, [Pyavka] made me swear my most solemn oath that, no matter what miracles, temptations or disasters befell me in this great, unknown city, I would not forget him, would not leave him abandoned at the railroad station like some shipwrecked sailor clinging to a plank."

An unofficial diagnosis of ADHD? Then the rest of us come by it honestly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another digression, but this is too funny

(From NYU-Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music: "A special assignment" given to ReMu freshman, Jesse Kranzler, by the NYU Housing Department.)

Music Video for "(Please) Don't Throw Things Out Of Your Windows" by Jesse Kranzler

(I suspect this was supposed to be a punishment...)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Somewhat Gory War Story

“One of our outposts was a desolate stretch of forest where, several times, the Japanese had crept up in the darkness and killed and mutilated our sleepy, half-starved sentries. Thus, among our commander's first official acts was to place me in charge of this post, along with three other Jews and one new Russian boy, presumably included to keep us from talking too freely.

“I was deathly tired from having been on guard duty the night before. But I could see already what kind of a bird we had here, and I wasted no breath complaining. I did, however, ask him for a machine gun to help keep us from being overrun by a surprise attack.

“He gave me an aristocratic look and said, "Just go and do what you're told."

"I need a machine gun. If you'll come with us, I can show you why."

"You think I've nothing better to do? I know you Jews. You'll fall asleep and we'll lose the gun."

“I tried to control my voice. "Without the gun, you may lose five men."

"Four less of you to deal with after the war," he muttered, not quite under his breath.

“I felt confirmed in my suspicion that we didn't have a friend in this new Fonya, but of course what he had said was nothing more than government policy at this time. It didn't occur to the genius that if we were killed, it would endanger the entire camp.

“After supper, we proceeded to our isolated post, holding on to each others' belts in the darkness. I would not say that our spirits were exactly glowing. We knew that if we ran into trouble, we were entirely on our own. But at least our shift was only for two hours at a time.

“…We settled down to watch and listen. Three hours later no one had come to relieve us. Somehow, I was not surprised. It was too dangerous to send back one man to seek our replacements. For all of us to go meant deserting our post, which might just have been what our company commander was counting on. Finally, well past midnight, some shadows appeared and, being challenged, gruffly gave us the password. It was our relief. They were Russians, and they had a machine gun.

“Too tired to go back to camp, we fell asleep in a nearby trench. A while later, we were awakened by sharp automatic fire. Our replacements, it seemed, had all gone to sleep and one of them had been stabbed to death. But the attack consisted of only three Japanese, one of whom was killed by the machine gun; the second was wounded, and the third had surrendered.

“At daybreak, we marched back to camp with our two captives. The wounded Japanese pitiably pleaded and gestured, but no one understood him. It seemed to me he was offering to tells us anything we wanted to know if we would let him live. One of us finally went to look for an interpreter.

“Meanwhile, our commander arrived on horseback, flashing his drawn saber and grinning like a sportsman at the two Japanese, who sank to the ground and started to plead. Our commander asked for volunteers to behead the two captives. Most of the Jewish boys turned away in disgust. But the response was so enthusiastic from the others, the only solution would have been to draw lots. In the end, the commander decided he wanted to do the job himself.

“A stake was driven into the ground and the captives were tied to it in a way that left their heads exposed. They were no longer pleading, but all my nerve endings could feel the hatred in their eyes.

“Our commander had drawn back far enough to give his horse a running start. Now, with a shout of joy, he came galloping toward the stake. One slash and both heads plopped to the ground. Some of the men started a make-believe football game with one of the heads, while the other was picked up by a group now doing a Cossack dance and skillfully tossing it from hand to hand.

“I turned away. But I realized that I, too, had already become brutalized, because I felt no more than a mild twinge of disgust.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Sometimes Distraction Leads to Real Finds

Partially because I tend to get distracted but mostly because I become genuinely interested, I find myself searching online for information that is irrelevant to my project but that are based on questions that arise in my grandfather's manuscripts.

Early in the book, I became obsessed with the need to know the value of an 1896 Polish gulden (now called a zloty) present U.S. currency to understand how much it would have cost my grandfather to travel from Warsaw back to Vishigrod had he had enough money. Somehow I learned that each 1896 gulden was worth fifteen cents in 1930, but got no farther than that.

I have a source I go to: Askville, which is owned/operated by You ask a question, and people who are online and have some knowledge of the subject respond. Sometime the responses are fairly generic and not all that useful, ie, in response to the question above, one Askvillian replied, "I would suggest getting 2 or 3 estimates from experts who specialize in coins from this period and region." Well, I would do that if I know where to find such experts (but I know that it isn't really important to know -- just interesting).

The chapter I'm currently editing raises a few more questions. At one point, after escaping from a Siberian labor camp (belated spoiler alert), my grandfather had been wandering in the frozen Siberian wilderness without any idea of which direction to head toward the nearest civilization, which was supposed to be "only" a five day-walk from the camp. The horizon was so barren that there were no landmarks, so even when he looked for where the sun rose, he couldn't tell from which direction it came.

What confused me in particular was his comment, "...Although the sun rose only moments earlier, I had already lost track of which way was South." Didn't he mean East? Or did the sun rise from a different direction when one was close to the top of the world? (I would have researched that extensively but I couldn't figure out the right way to phrase my query to extract the correct information).

In the same chapter, he and the fellow inmate with whom he had escaped decided to determine which way was North by determining the side on which moss grew.

There's a paragraph break immediately after they arrived at this decision, which meant that no more was written about it; had they figured out which way was North in order to make sure they were heading West (toward Europe) or East (toward Asia and, oddly, Chicago). But still I wondered -- Does moss grow on the north side of trees when they are near the top of the earth, too? Because it turned out that they still didn't know in which direction to head.

For the answer to this question I went to Wikipedia to see if it could school me on botanical, astronomical and other differences that might be represented near the North pole (which would cause me to wonder if the exact opposite were true at the South Pole) when I noticed a little icon for "Wikimedia Commons," and that is really the point of this post.

The issue of what is in the Public Domain had concerned me when I wanted to use the image of a rarely seen Matisse painting known as the "Red Room" (because it's in a museum in Russia and hasn't traveled outside the country) for an article I wrote about The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which houses possibly the largest collection of contemporary art in the world. But the status of the photo of the painting wasn't clear so I didn't use it.

However, photos maintained in an area of Wikimedia Commons are all public domain items, and there are even some photos from the Russo-Japanese War (I won't use the picture of a spy being beheaded, even though that would be relevant, though I hope to find other illustrations to make this blog less visually dense.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

And How He Was Reprieved

This time there was no Captain Mikhailoff to come to my grandfather’s rescue as the Captain was in Harbin, China.

“…My…attorney… wouldn't even consider [letting me] simply tell the truth — that a human being can go only so long without sleep. Of course, he probably knew his customers and what they would believe and what they wouldn't. He seemed to feel my only possible defense was to claim that, owing to food poisoning or drinking polluted water, I now suffered from a strange sickness which, without warning, could send me into a coma.

“Frankly, I was desperate enough to try anything. But where on this green earth would I find a Russian army doctor who would favor me with such an improbable diagnosis?

"...The court, after hearing my attorney's preposterous story, surprised me. They agreed to postpone my case until I'd had a thorough medical examination…”

After being dismissed by the doctor to which a guard had brought him because the visit interrupted a dinner party, my grandfather felt despondent. But once again a higher power intervened.

When the hearing resumed, “… My attorney…[ran] quickly over to the clinic, burst in on my doctor, and dragged him away from a roomful of patients. When they returned, I was relieved to see that my convert outranked the other four [court-appointed] doctors.

“He…examined me right then and there [by] separat[ing] my lids and shin[ing] a match in front of my eyes.… His eyes stabbed into mine like a surgeon's knife. The devil only knows what he expected to find there.… I flinched as the [doctor] suddenly turned to his colleagues and shouted, ‘How can you say this man is well. Have you examined his brain?’

“Flustered, the other doctors shook their heads. I could see they were skeptical but, thank Heaven, in Fonya's*  army, you didn't argue with a superior officer.

“‘You never noticed there is a spot on his brain?’

“‘And what is the significance of that?’” demanded the presiding judge, who outranked even my doctor friend.

“‘That spot is a symptom of a kind of sleeping sickness.’” He said it so convincingly that for a moment I wondered how long I could live with such a disease. ‘A man with those symptoms may sink into a coma at any moment. He should never have been allowed to serve in the army. But now that he's here, the only place for him is the hospital.’

“…The other doctors … look[ed] into my eyes…dutifully lighting match[es], agreed with his diagnosis, and apologized to the court for having overbooked my brain.…

“The presiding officer, with a disgusted look, ordered me straight to the hospital for observation and treatment. I was not convinced that he believed a word of all this, but form had been satisfied, and probably if I could produce such influential supporters, it was best not to shoot me.”

*A diminutive for Ivan; used generically to refer to any Russian

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Second Death Sentence

The next time my grandfather was sentenced to death was much less dramatic, though no less serious.

“After weeks on the run, with virtually no food or sleep, we were worn down to the point where we'd not only ceased to resemble an army, but barely still invited comparison with human beings. This didn't mean we were left free to recuperate. Although we moved about like shadows, there were still enough officers around to see that outward appearances were maintained. One of these was guard duty.

“A call went out for all noncoms to report to the commandant. I made believe I hadn't heard. …I was ready to lie down and not get up for a month. But before I had a chance…, one of the lieutenants tracked me down. I was told to take ten soldiers and mount guard. I told him I hadn't slept all week, to let me rest at least one night.

“He was not unsympathetic, but explained there was a shortage of noncoms; I must do my duty and help fill the gap.

“It was a beautiful clear night with no more than a mild breeze. Having deployed my ten men and sternly warned them not to close an eye, I was tempted to sit down for a moment. But that, of course, was strictly forbidden, and I knew I would not remember to get up again.

"Nevertheless, my lids kept drooping. To hold them open, I pinched myself, I kicked one foot against the other, and generally struggled like a man about to drown.

“Near midnight, I was awakened roughly by a strange officer and two armed men. The officer demanded to know where my gun was. My heart stopped. I was without a rifle. There was no sign of it anywhere. We were miles from any Japanese. One of our own men must have stolen it.

“Fifteen minutes later, the new commander who, only two days earlier, had lauded my coolness under fire, told me what I didn't need to be told. The penalty for sleeping on guard was the same as that for, losing one's rifle: death. About my only comfort was they couldn't kill me twice.”

His reprieve frightening and humorous at the same time: To be continued

Monday, January 4, 2010

But I Digress

It occurred to me that one usually becomes aware of 'famous' people once they've made it but there's little observation about how the process develops from its early stages, which is why I thought it would be worth documenting even though it has nothing to do with this blog.

I'm not talking about myself here but rather about my son who, last week, was recognized on the street for the first time. Reportedly, he was walking around in San Francisco when someone called out, "Hey!" He turned, and the person asked, "Are you from San Diego?" "Yeah," my son confirmed. "Are you in Witt?" "Yeah." "Are you Jesse Kranzler?" Indeed.

(A few weeks earlier, my husband was on business in Germany and as part of making small talk, a lawyer asked him about his kids. He mentioned that one son is a sports writer (I'll have opportunity to boast about him, too) and the other is a musician. The lawyer probed further. "What type of music?" My husband replied, "I doubt you'd be familiar with it; it's called 'Math Rock.'" "I love math rock. What's the name of the band?" It was highly unlikely that a lawyer in Europe would know about a fledgling San Diego band, but my husband responded, "Witt." "Oh,my god. You're Jesse Kranzler's father?") It turns out that Math Rock is more popular in Europe than in the U.S., and Witt's first CD has sold well there. In fact, they're planning a European tour this summer.

For a number of years I was known around Jesse's Middle School and High School as 'Jesse's Mom,' which was delightful, but I found it interesting that at his high school graduation, parents of fellow students and teachers, alike, wanted to have their pictures taken with him so that they could, some day, say that they knew Jesse 'back when.' All of this embarrassed Jesse, who is by nature shy, to no end but he graciously accommodated these requests and then made a hasty retreat from the scene. While we'd watched (when we permitted to observe) him develop into a musician (the fact that he also composed many of the band, Witt's, music had completely eluded us) and become the band's manager, we hadn't thought about him potentially becoming 'famous.' He was clear in his intention to focus on the music Business, specifically to become the Artistic Director for a band, like a Producer, though he began performing increasingly often, both with Witt and with other bands both in San Diego and New York. He has also recorded with quite a few bands (I have no idea which ones but apparently he's on about 30 different recordings at the moment) and seems to spend almost every night during the school year in a recording studio.

His music has been played on various radio stations, though we'd always learned of this after the fact, but last night he sent a text message, "Turn on 94.9." We rushed out to the car and went to the channel,and while the music sounded familiar, there were lyrics, which isn't consistent with his band's style of play, "Math Rock." (It turned out that the guy who'd recorded it for them applied or superimposed or whatever-the-appropriate-verb-is, some other band's lyrics over a portion of their music, which happened to work.) When the music continued sans lyrics we knew it was definitely Witt's. Jesse was surprised only that the station played the entire 6-minute song.

Between getting radio play; being named one of the top eight math rock bands in Europe; being named in a Wikipedia entry about 'math rock'; beginning to sell out their shows; and being recognized abroad and on the street, he seems to be on his way (albeit reluctantly) to what other people might call 'fame.' My husband and I are grateful that he remains focused on his school work -- he's a freshman in NYU's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music within Tisch School of the Arts (Lady Gaga is a dropout from this program), and is so serious about his music that he's not likely (we pray) to get involved with the stereotypical problems that afflict musician, such as drugs and other reckless behaviors. We think that Jesse has enough sense of himself that he doesn't have a need to 'fit in' by doing something stupid, and so far all of the friends and acquaintances that we've met who are also musicians seem similarly focused.

I guess this is how it all starts.

Thanks for indulging me in bragging about my son. (Go to their website to hear their music and see scheduled shows)

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