Monday, March 22, 2010

Let's Get Together...or Not

Brother Steve sent me another 60s music book, a genre of which I am very fond, and Cliff also sends some originals from the era as he clears out his hobbit abode. The Zappa chronicle in particular was delightful: I think any collection of his interviews could be entitled, "Say Anything." Frank was never intimidated by any person or institution, and never doubted who he was or where he was going.

A fun fact that jumped out of Michael Hicks' Sixties Rock was that the hippie era mega hit "Get Together" originally came out of the Greenwich Village environment as a civil rights anthem, circa 1963. Dino Valenti brought it with him when he moved to the S.F. area where the Airplane and the Youngbloods later took it out into the popular mainstream. He also (falsely) claimed authorship of "Hey Joe" and collected royalties on it for a while (and Jimi Hendrix ripped off his slow, tragic version of it from a mostly unknown Tim Rose).

I've got endless patience for vacuuming up music trivia like this, since it's entertaining as peeling off layers from some giant mysterious onion: no matter how much you learn, there are always more lost and obscure facts to be found as you follow the connections, convoluted by Fortune and Time.

"Get Together" makes as great a theme for parties and backyard cookouts (and Be-Ins back in the day) as "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" does for organization meetings. I knew several people years ago who were in the Harrisburg Canoe Club, and once I finished my 16' two-person kayak, I was eager both to use it and take local trips with like-minded people. So...I went to a meeting intending to join, have some fun and learn about the local waterways. But the meeting was, for its entire duration, about fund raising. I waited politely for the end but never went back. The annual meetings of our 18th-century reenactment group were made so thoroughly miserable by parliamentary procedure and arguments to change rules that a couple of us suggested a second, purely social, get-together each year at a colonial tavern where we could wear our finest, be armed to the teeth, and enjoy much food and drink (no children allowed for this one event), and thoroughly entertain the 20th century civilians who were out for a nice evening not expecting this at all. And just as Alice opined that a book without pictures was of little use, no one should be expected to attend a meeting without food and drink. That's just not civilized.

The spouse of a certain blogger is plagued with meetings all her work-week, many times back to back. Managers who supervise people who have not only a steady regular workload, but who have to pour on extra effort when emergencies and problems roll in every day like unpredicted storms should not be either expected or required to waste time. I wonder if people in brother Ron's situation possibly enjoy or profit from meetings, since he associates with both highly educated and creative people. Even if not productive, they may be pleasant or stimulating. Not that anyone, anywhere, is above politics, agendas, or personality disorders! Funny thing about the quality of those you must meet with, though. Everyone at the Museum of Scientific Discovery was a college graduate, and it being a non-profit, you can be sure there were lots of meetings held to avoid doing any actual work. Poor and uninformed decisions, outright lies and desperate alliances were the stuff of these off- off- Broadway farces. One mandatory emergency meeting was held on a Monday morning (the traditional closed day for museums, when most full-time staff and all part-timers are no-shows) for two hours on the subject of what recommendation should be made to the Board about three days' vacation pay for an individual who had attended an in-law's funeral (for three days?). I kid you not.
At EMO Communications, everyone was high-school level, but meetings were only called to introduce new things (phones, vehicle assignments, benefits election) or to provide specific training (the day-long session on fiber optic fusion splicing with the new $50,000 instrument was one of the best days I can remember in over 40 years of work). Anyone who lied, argued too long, or had an agenda was effectively silenced and we did not waste energy or time.
I try to do a little good and no harm in the community where we live, but not as part of an organization because I will never attend another meeting.
As for cookouts, count me in. I'll bring some good wine.


  1. I'd agree with you, but Cliff might want a meeting before I do that. We're gonna have a meeting to decide when to have that meeting.

  2. Meetings with no meaning are just time for people to talk, give their point of views, and most of the time no make any decisions.
    And charity organizations are only concerned about making money, getting more money, and asking for more money.
    I'll bring the donuts, Rusty you can be Sargent at arms. Maybe Lovebug can take notes? (How sexes is that??)

  3. The four of us + Maria need to take a meeting at Joe's Inn. Sweet soul music on the jukebox and a Bass Ale in hand...