Posted in The Publications

A weekend with some Good Caramel pt. 1

On memorial day weekend I had gone up to record with Brenyama for our second studio album, the location we would be spending our long weekend at is none other than Good Caramel Records, a studio housed in an old Catholic school in downtown Buffalo. 

Entering the studio facility was refreshing for me as someone who has a halfway decent home studio, which satiated my creative needs still. from the kitchenette which wraps around to the sole restroom on the ground floor, to the makeshift bass amp room under the stairs every facet of this setup amazed me. The elements of improvisation at work everywhere I could see, using every square inch of space to full effect.

Further exploring the space leads one to go upstairs to studio A, a wooden dome of space and sound, our work space for the weekend. What occurred over the next 3 days was magic, getting roughly 90% of tracking done with some pretty good first vocal takes too. The sounds recorded there on our record sound so organic and also professional which is a refreshing combination.  I was so fortunate to be able to use the bass head and cab favored by Robbie of the Goo Goo Dolls, a vintage Ampeg SVT with an 8×10 cab. Mics used for my bass was a blend of the audix d6 and the Electro Voice RE20. My Ronaldo Custom P bass seems to be the only bass recorded on the record. Using a legitimate Hammond organ only adds to the good vibes and sound here. 
I’m sure I will write more regarding this weekend, stay tuned for part 2!

Posted in The Publications

Manny’s mod shope; Better bass tone for under $30!

The fender bass is a classic instrument, since its debut in the early 50’s it has been used in nearly every style of bass playing, and every genre of music. Vintage fender basses now cost upwards of $5000 , on the low end of the spectrum, sometimes less, but classic era basses cost the remortgaging of a home.

I myself would love to have capacities to afford such luxuries, but in the absence of such funds I found a great way to upgrade my Mexican made p bass, the Wilkinson 4 saddle bass bridge!

My p bass is an early Mexican made one from 1992, the neck is a more j bass profile, and it has shaller tuners which are solid, and these had a thin layer of finish on the neck which feels very nice. The bridge has always been ok and reliable on it, but it seemed to be a chrome, or nickel plated brass. The Wilkinson bridge has larger unplated brass saddles and upon installation and first playing it feels and sounds livelier and louder. These are marketed as a classic style bridge and it is very accurate.

Posted in Operation ORCHID, The Publications, The Trials of Doris

Op. Orchid: Bringing Down The House

Upon walking through the towering gates, the newly opened site formerly containing Doris Duke’s home, the winding path let to the remnants of Ms. Duke’s home, some stone steps and what could be summarized as an otherwise mostly vacant field. Walking up the path revealed some stone fixtures; the leftover parcels of the structure of the Duke Mansion in Hillsborough NJ. Even with snow decorating them they reflected a grace, age, and majesty that these stone fixtures had led to before the adamant efforts of the Duke Farms Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to demolish the beloved home of their founder. These organizations were claiming a decade of research into alternative uses for the home was made, bringing no documentation or proof of these efforts, only providing a powerpoint made by someone hired by the foundation, to trials determining the house’s fate.

Walking up the stairs I couldn’t help but tell my wonderful companion that maybe we should try to knock where the doors would have been, just in case. You could likely guess that there was no invisible Duke Mansion there, but there is an entire field with some circular fountain beds with freshly painted birds in the middle of the fountains, while looking new not in any way matching the patina of the rest of the property.  In the case of the Garden of Nations remainder, there’s too much patina, wood rot, and gaps in the outer integrity of the structure. Oh the irony.

I could be quoted saying “You know what would be really nice here? A HOUSE!”. Walking around the grounds previously occupied by the home of Doris Duke, there was a somber feeling in my chest as if the nearly vacant space was reflective of the hole I felt in my chest. It feels as if I’m visiting the grave of someone whom I had been trying to save, but couldn’t be saved because of the slow train coming that had no intention of stopping with this person in the way of the tracks they have laid. On a gentle slope going away from the plain at the center of the location, there is a bit of a grotto, a pleasant small body of water that I could imagine was a peaceful and serene spot for Ms. Duke when her home was on the grounds of her estate.

Most upsetting for me is the gall of all parties involved in the previous and concurrent attempts at assassination of the Duke family history and the legacy of Doris Duke. A plaque on the site of Doris Duke’s home reads (in reference to this site) “Doris Duke’s seasonal residence”, an improvement to DFF’s use of the phrase “Former main residence” (when referring to the two story hole in the ground as the main residence). Upon this plaque are images of other homes that Duke would visit when she wasn’t in her home and main residence in Hillsborough NJ (the one that’s not a large hole in the ground). Below these images are the words to the effect of; Doris Duke left specific instructions for her other properties, Shangra La, and Rough Point. This is the boldest of the falsehoods shared by DFF in their failure to honor their founder’s mission and purpose for founding the DFF and DDCF. According to Christie’s Auction, “it was Duke Farms she truly considered ‘home’ “.

It is important to note that during proceedings in attempts to preserve the Duke mansion the DFF had the copy of the will of Doris Duke submitted into evidence struck from the record. In the will, that they fail to correctly reference on the plaque commemorating the demolished home of their founder, it states that she expects her organizations to maintain and preserve all of her properties, stating the term “preservation” and other words to that effect several times while there is a single demolition clause much later in the will which is not quite specific either, clearly Duke had hoped her foundations would honor her legacy.



Posted in The Publications

Courtship; a study in the history of romance


I went to university from the years of 2009 till 2014, and throughout that entire experience “romantic relationships” seemed to form very sporadically among my acquaintances. The phenomenon known as “hooking up” always struck me as foreign, at least from my own understanding. A visceral desire to be intimate with someone without having gotten to know that person strikes me as a very strange approach to interpersonal relationships. From what I was able to observe, hook ups can happen at a party where conversations are near impossible to hold because of blaring music or absurd amounts of inebriation, which leads me to believe that its driven by something visceral. Weather by pure physical attraction, influence of alcohol, or some combination of the two I could otherwise not understand this occurrence (though I do not judge). These hookups may lead to an emotionally bonded relationship, and can even flourish into a strong long-term relationship, but this style of initiating a relationship has never appealed to me personally.

Another situation I have seen arise is the friendship (for a short period) into hookup relationship, also known as the path of no return. Not to say that this sort of start to a physically intimate relationship cannot be successful in certain cases, but there are complications that could easily arise that challenge the friendship aspect especially in situations where either party engages in further hooking up and or lack communicative skills. This is something we see happen in the romantic comedy de jour, and has some similarities to the kind of relationship that is an ideal for many of my closest friends and myself personally, friendship into courtship.

My first ever relationship began when I had realized hat I felt a particular void in my emotional state for the previous few days, what had brought this about? A female friend of mine had been away for a few days, and I genuinely (as genuinely as is possible for a teenager) missed them. This drove me to communicate with her how I felt about her absence, and that was the start of a courtship, that began with getting to know them in a non-sexualized, personality and interest focused relationship. In my limited understanding of relationships I found this kind of relationship, and thusly courtship (in the sense of spending months, or years getting to know someone before the suggestion of romance) was particularly powerful, and most importantly meaningful. This seems to me an under appreciated, and timeless style of relationship.

Ultimately relationships and how they come to be is up to the actors of the relationship, modern relationships can be very successful, but I believe that there are lessons to be learned from traditional values in nurturing and growing a long lasting and loving relationship.

*Historically courtships began as buissnes arrangements, which is an important element of any relationship because especially in the modern age both members of a couple normally have to maintain a full time job to support an average household, and an imbalance in that aspect of a relationship can cause turbulince for any couple (unless one of the members of a pairing are wealthy  and prefer their mate not work, in which case a power imbalance may occur).
Chivalry is another element of courtship that I feel is under appriciated, *”From buying a woman dinner to opening a door for her, many of today’s courting rituals are rooted in medieval chivalry”, as a stark contrast to modern relationships, “Chastity and honor were highly regarded virtues”. This is not to say modern sexuality and romantic ideas don’t have their own logic, but this is a highly underrated aspect of relationships, the phase of courtship that is about knowing tour partner as an individual and not in a sexualized way(life expectancies are much longer than the Medieval era). Entering the victorian era romance became essential to marriage as an institution; “She would notify the lucky gentleman by giving him her own card requesting that he escort her home. Almost all courting took place in the girl’s home, always under the eye of watchful parents. If the courting progressed, the couple might advance to the front porch.”

After my observations, and some research I have come to a consensus of sorts, courtship has changed over time, and I feel as if  each period teaches us a lesson about love, and how to raise a family, what elements can be, and ought to be utilized to lay the foundation to a long lasting relationship, and to hopefully leave behind a legacy of love and harmony for the next generation. There is an over emphasis in the modern approach to courtship on the physical aspects of love and not enough exploration into emotional aspects of relationships. While both are important elements to any relationships it has always been my personal feeling that the emotional and intellectual connection in a relationship always precedes the physical elements, not taking importance away from the physical elements of a relationship, but should be sought and nurtured first and foremost.

Posted in Manny's Music Column

Fender Mustang vs. Squier Bronco, short scale bass shootout. 

Recently I picked up a Squier Bronco Bass from The Guitar Boutique in Ridgefield New Jersey. So in a bit of an experiment to see what a modded mid-price Mexican made short scale Bass by Fender sounds like in comparison to a stock Indonesian made Squier Bass. Not a scientific comparison, but simply what extra money into a mid-price instrument versus the stock version of an Eastern made import instrument by the same parent company sound like. 
The current configuration on my Fender Mustang bass is Seymour Duncan PJ quarter pound pickup set, stock tuners, stock bridge, with short scale rotosound flatwound strings.

In comparison the Squier Bronco bass has all stock everything, strings possibly being stock as well. 

Posted in The Publications

About Last Night…

Anyone who has liked our Facebook or follows us on Twitter knows we at the Retro Revival were tuned in last night to the…interesting choices made in regards to the live version of “A Christmas Story”. This was an interesting study in how to not integrate musical numbers into a screenplay or live renditions. The tone of the story was strange while expecting some snarky or dark themes tied into it.

Anyone who has liked our Facebook or follows us on Twitter knows we at the retro revival were tuned in last night to the…interesting choices made in regards to the live version of “A Christmas Story”. This was an interesting study in how to not integrate musical numbers into a screenplay or live renditions. The tone of the story was strange while expecting some snarky or dark themes tied into the Christmas themes in the live show.

My biggest issues are with the overall presentation because there were at least 4 unnecessary musical numbers, most notably the musical numbers introducing the infamous Santa scene, and the “C+/You’ll shoot your eye out” number which drove the point like a jackhammer driving a stake into an already obvious plot point, and the number following Ralphie beating his bully up, transitioning out of the scene in such a clumsy manner that it was, in my opinion, harmful to the flow of the show. This seems to be an issue of the transition between media formats, the original movie that is the definitive version of this intellectual property was made into a musical, and that musical was brought to the screen last night, I was not myself aware of this formatting that occurred. the transition from movie to musical seems to have been the source of the musical numbers that broke realism and at times the 4th wall. I had an issue with the number done on Xmas eve where the children convene in the street and do a dance number with large candy cane props, it felt as if it had wasted a great expository moment for Ralphie and his brother to have via dialogue.

This live show was treated like a Broadway production and was far too clean in the outside scenes, not much of a patina on the buildings and this was a very idealized and whitewashed version of a post-war and post-depression America. I also had issues with the future Ralphie interacting with the past environment, it’s something that makes the experience inherently disassociating as a viewer.

Among the main cast, I found Mia Rudolph to be the MVP of the live show, the children performances were perfectly fine, and the father character had a very extreme shift in character, while this change was catalyzed by the breaking of the leg lamp, it was still incredibly abrupt and felt unearned.

Harpie’s notes; The adaptation was, in my opinion, a betrayal of the spirit of the original film, possibly resulting at least to some extent from the film to musical adaptation before the re-adaptation to the live TV format. Despite the fact that it’s delivery was a heaping pile of garbage and awkward lack of fluidity, the underlying themes of political incorrectness and the value of sharing that sense of deviance with the public resonated in a powerful and somewhat careless fashion. It touches base on the lack of appreciation given toward the housewife stereotype and the female agenda, the sense of relatability we have toward blunt and honest political incorrectness, and the schoolyard social structure. What damaged the ability for these messages to be received was how the rendition was produced. Sets and costume were on point but unfortunately, the lack of fluid 40s authenticity and logistical choppiness took away from the plot and original intention.

Posted in The Publications

Net Neutrality and Retro Living

Now that the FCC has approved the splitting up and selling off of individual internet services such as (but not limited to); streaming, social media, gaming and many things we all use every day, all that separates it from reaching the public is a vote in the Supreme Court. This partitioning and selling off of services is part of the downward spiral that occurs when greed is allowed to control policy decisions as a result of legalized bribery, courtesy of the Citizens United ruling that allows companies and corporations to be seen as people. We are witnessing what is a desperate attempt by some ISP’s to squeeze every last possible cent from their customers while providing less service for more money. With each service sold there is potential for fees for providing the service that you are already paying for. Ultimately, this results in a capital gain for the upper 20% of shareholders in the service package providers, while stripping clean the wallets of those potential consumers.

So here’s the real question: How is this at all relative to the retro lifestyle? As a result of the death of the internet, it may be harder to keep and utilize these services, therefore; we as a nation will have to learn to adapt to the true pre-internet way of life. One of the most valuable services to us on the internet is Google, a search engine that makes information around the world available to us without very much effort. I suspect that if you do not want to pay for the new unregulated internet services you may want to subscribe to the encyclopedia Britannica so that you can open up a volume of this knowledge-rich book to find out things that have been included and added to the volumes over the years (if only an instant access information site was available). If you can’t afford to pay for unregulated internet check out the encyclopedia Britannica store to stay up to date with last year’s current events!The Encyclopedia Britannica

Most exciting for me is that if streaming becomes a pay for access services (such as YouTube (where I publish my videos on this site and my own gear reviews and music antics), and Spotify (and all other streaming platforms)), the overall packages will become extra expensive for residential use. If you are paying for Spotify Pro then you will be spending even more, if only these services didn’t cost more than they already do. This could lead to the resurgence of the record store while the public resorts to buying albums, as well as the expansion of the market for CD, vinyl, DVD, and blue-ray. Yes, Netflix and Amazon Prime video will still be available (but both losing customers if net neutrality is lost and streaming becomes a separate service). Feel free to join my protest by voting with your wallets and canceling online services while the FCC helps ISP’s attempt to drain us of our last penny. Youtube will be losing many creators as part of this as well, and they may lose my patronage because I won’t be able to watch their videos. This will hopefully lead to the resurgence of the movie theatre and the video rental store, I genuinely miss the fun of going into a blockbuster or family video and renting a B movie and laughing with friends about how bad it is: truly retro in the best way. This new market for physical products does, however, mean that the price of physical media may go up as demand goes up. While not a pastime of mine, the “Netflix, and chill” method of spending time with a special someone will have to become dates out at a movie theatre, and some people may have to learn the subtleties of communication and courtesy of spending time with someone else and not being able to go to a nearly limitless movie theatre on their home tv systems or computers. Record Stores in the USA

Another advantage of not having access to Youtube or streaming could be the resurgence of live music scenes when people no longer have easy affordable access to live streams and mp3’s or any of the nearly infinite convenient services that bring the music to them! The transfer of information will suffer most; with corporate-owned newspapers that control their messages and do not report honestly regarding their sponsors if there are genuine matters of concern regarding the will become our main source of news and information, while responsible reporting would be hoped for, it is not guaranteed. We would also be living in a world where we find out tomorrow about an event happening as opposed to immediately. TV services are going to still exist, but this doesn’t mean that the corporate owned networks that may even own the ISP’s that are trying to parcel off the different aspects of the internet that we use will be honest in their reporting if a sponsor or donor doesn’t want specific and potentially vital news getting out about a public health or safety issue brought on by the constant deregulation of business practices and the deregulation of environmental protections.

Most interestingly we may see the protection and utilization of libraries again if the internet is minced into tiny chunks as the FCC ruling would allow, which offers some more public interest in their libraries. We should enjoy them regardless of the greed-fueled systemic cannibalism we are in the midst of witnessing.

In addition to the dangers of bias being integrated into the National and global news, the chances for shopping pattern shifts are high. Without the Amazon and Ebay luxuries that power our abilities to purchase a variety of goods sight-unseen, many major retailers like ModCloth, Groupon, Airbnb, Uber, and ASOS will lose out entirely on a profound percentage of their overall consumers. What might save our collective asses is that the barons of these fallout companies will find themselves rather outraged at the greater system responsible for their n-dollar losses. We digress… This does sound like the greatest resurgence of Harpie’s favorite piece of furniture: the gossip bench! Used for telephones, phone books, and notepads for taking messages, this mid-20th-century staple is an icon of 40s modern living. With enough catalogs to contemporary that of Sears Roebuck back in the day, Americans may find themselves dialing in from landlines to get all their fulfillment in dry goods. What a shame it would be to have to speak to someone and learn effective communication skills through a telephone order. We may even learn delayed gratification if the lines are busy.

Now, we at the RR blog are rather adverse to the use of Chromebooks by school-age children to basically take the place of all their scrap paper and assignments, but this is exactly why on overdependence on technology when unmitigated is bad as well. While it would cost parents a tuition or a severe localized tax increase, the Chromebook technology has taken a toll on children’s learning in the united states. The use of writing and repetition helps to affirm in the minds of students the concepts they study. Without net neutrality, these parents will additionally have to pay for their at-home services to allow students to complete coursework at home when dependent upon Chromebooks. The implications for Online college and postgraduate scholars are frightening as well. Would school require certain internet packages? Would it be possible to depend purely upon libraries and Starbucks for Wi-Fi for school work? With what money will they pay for their Blackboard or eCollege residential packages?

Let’s be clear. The Retro Revival Blog and its authors strongly advocate against over-dependence on the internet and technology as a whole. We think that in a healthy balanced way, the internet and its comforts can be beneficial. America especially can use a serious wake-up call with how severe its addiction to the internet is. Consider this scare your wake-up call. You do not necessarily need to purchase with one-day shipping on a routine basis or constantly ‘Like’ your neighbor’s erratic posts about her twelve obese cats, but these are comforts that have improved life to some extent and hindered social skills and understanding as well.

In case the FCC ruling flings us back into the 1970’s we will be making a newsletter so that the Retro Revival lives on regardless of the FCC destroying the internet as we know it. 

If you want to fight for Net neutrality please go to and go to the express link in order to tell them that you stand for net neutrality.