Saturday, December 31, 2011

American Pie by Don McLean - The Perfect Seque into 2012

As the 2011 year winds down the song American Pie gets a lot of airplay between Christmas and the New Year. I guess a lot of DJs feel that the reflective nature of this song is most appropriate to play at the end of the year. I would have to agree with them. American Pie is Don McLean's Magnum Opus of a song which skyrocketed when it was first released way back in 1971. It is a song that resonates in everyone and carries so many personal meanings and interpretations and like carbon dating, links all of us to prior experiences when we all grew up in the seventies and eighties. The lyrics were amazingly simple, direct and heartfelt, and wove a story that even to this day sounds fresh and interesting as it did in the seventies. I remember saving my allowance and newspaper route money and buying the American Pie album from EJ Korvettes in Nanuet, New York. I played it so many times and now as I am much older, I have even more respect for Don as he was able to incorporate so many themes and touch on so many topics that related to the time when I was growing up during my adolescent years in a suburb of New York City..

The song was an instant classic even though it ran way longer time-wise than most other charting hit songs played on the radio. The recording was very clean and the choice of backing studio musicians made a big difference in the overall production quality of the song. Warren Bernhardt played the piano on American Pie and his contributions elevated the performance and made lasting impressions with each listener. Warren is a very famous and talented Jazz pianist whose mentor was Bill Evans. He also played on Paul SImon albums and was the musical director and piano player for the 1993-94 Steely Dan concert Tour. There were few popular top forty hits that showcased the piano front and center except for Billy Joel, Elton John and Paul Simon. It really raised the bar for songwriters to come up with songs that really delivered on both harmony and lyrical content.

Don really came into his own as a popular singer songwriter in the seventies and really carved his own musical career path and led a very independent life as he eschewed commercialism, performed at a lot of Hudson River benefit concerts, and aligned his music and philanthropic work with Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. Moreover, Don was a local musician, born in New Rochelle, NY.

A few years ago, when I was selling for Voyage-Air guitars, I had met with Stan Jay, the iconic owner of the famed Mandolin Brothers vintage guitar shop in Staten Island. He counts amongst his clients, Bruce Springsteen, Don McLean, Conan O'Brien, George Benson, and most every famous rock and jazz guitarist in the NY metro area. He said that Don lives in Vermont with his family and visits his guitar shop about once a year and picks out some nice Martin Acoustic Guitars for his sons to buy. He told Jay that the royalty checks from American Pie allows him to do this and for that he is very grateful.

I don't think there is anyone, child, baby boomer or in between who does not know all of the lyrics of American Pie. Most people will also sing along when American Pie is played on the radio. Don wrote a song that is permanently embedded in the psyche of our country and I for one am very grateful for American Pie. It's been a helluva year. Any music that makes it a little easier for me to reflect and to count my blessings is a welcome gift so to Don McLean a big thank you is in order.

"So bye bye Miss American Pie drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye singin' this'll be the day that I die
this'll be the day that I die, they were singin' bye bye Miss American Pie drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee but the levee was dry, them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye singin' this'll be the day that I die."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reflections on 2011 - Happy Holidays to All

Holiday greetings to all of my Blog readers and followers. After accumulating some 43,000 cumulative hits, I would like to personally thank everyone for taking the time to read my Blog and also for making valuable comments, technical advice and providing excellent insightful feedback on my articles and posts.

To my international Blog readers a heart felt thank you for reading my Blog. I am amazed at how many readers I have in countries around the world. I feel like an author who has a following outside of the United States and am grateful for all of the attention it has attracted to date.

Here are my reflections on 2011:
I think it's pretty obvious that 2011 was the year of the Tablet computer as Apple's iPad 2 along with the Android gang of Tablets from (Samsung, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, IBM/Lenovo, to name a few) found their way into consumers hands at an ever increasing pace. Coinciding with the Tablet's meteoric rise in sales and overall acceptance by the buying public is the rapid decline of Netbooks which were rapidly removed from store shelves and warehouses to make room for all of the new Tablets.

Steve Jobs passed away and one of the truly great leaders of the PC computing community left his indelible mark on personal and business computing by way of all of the great Apple products brought to market under his guidance and stewardship. The one take-away that resonated with me the most was Steve's regret that he did not have enough time to spend with his family as he was battling cancer to the very end. We can all learn from Steve's work ethic, his vision, the zen-like focus he had on changing the way we make and use computers and demonstrating consistently great leadership in all of the companies he was involved with. He will be missed and his legacy lives on through the continued success and acceptance of all products with the Apple logo.

It was a very tough year economy wise and a lot of small businesses struggled to keep their businesses solvent. I want to take a moment to recognize these unsung heroes of US Business who have been the backbone of our economy year after year without getting much if any help from our government. If you are a small business owner you have my greatest respect in adapting to a down economy and having the fortitude and stamina to tough it out during this extraordinarily tough business climate.

I think the country is doing a better job in reducing our overall energy consumption by purchasing cars that get better mileage and hybrid/electric/diesel cars, installing solar panels, replacing older appliances with Energy Star efficient ones and changing their incandescent bulbs to fluorescent and LED light bulbs. We still have a long way to go in reducing our dependence on foreign oil but I believe the tide is turning in favor of those who want to see us become totally energy self-sufficient. Research continues on safe alternate ways of generating electricity and we need to keep the pressure up on our law makers to continue to spend money on alternate methods of energy production.

Reality TV shows dominated the airwaves this past year and the dumbing down of TV content has reached new lows. I think that the networks have really given up on creating decent programs and content for network television and have also gotten extremely lazy by resorting to Reality TV drivel that is cheap to produce but gets astronomical ratings and sells tons of Ad time. It really insults our intelligence to have this drivel on network television as it continues to dumb down the TV audience. Do we really need more Reality TV shows? I don't think so.

Consumers figured out how to use coupons to their advantage and value shopping became popular as Black Friday approached. Consumers are much more savvy shoppers now and are looking for the best possible deals they can find. They are educating them-selves by researching products on the internet and by reading Consumer's Reports. Money is being spent on high quality items that out-perform their competition and mor folks are fixing rather than replacing higher cost items, such as appliances, electronics and automobiles.

All of us are adapting to the changing times. Most of us can remember the good and the bad economic times we have gone through. We are all wary of scammers and criminals like Bernard Madoff and I think 2011 sobered up a lot of folks with lessons learned from Computer Security Breaches, Hacker Attacks and Identity Thefts.

Here are my predictions for 2012:
The economy will improve somewhat and I think real estate will show some signs of life on both the buying and selling side.

A fire-sale on Netbooks will occur shortly after the 1st of the year. They have to write those suckers down and get them off the books before it impacts the 2nd and third quarter profits.

Amazon will become the dominant eBook and entry level Tablet sales leader by the end of second quarter of 2012. Their cloud computing content delivery model will pick up steam and they will sell a ton of movies through their Amazon Fire Tablet platform.

The Post Office will begin to shut down as half of their service offerings will be shut down to conserve costs and to help stop the hemorrhaging of red ink. Fed-Ex and UPS will step in the fray to provide the services the Post Office was providing but at different price structures. I think letter and junk mail will eventually be phased out. Email and Spam have put the nails in the coffin for the USPS to profitably deliver these items.

I think Fred Smith and the top management at UPS already have a doomsday plan in place that they are ready to implement once the Post Office makes the next round of severe service cutbacks, office closing and lay-offs.

Channels that offer luxury items at a steep discount will continue to prosper and grow. paying full price is something that is reserved for only the richest sheiks these days and even they are looking for ways to save money.

More models of diesel automobiles will be announced and begin their first shipments into the US markets in 2012. Look for the first diesel cars from Mazda and Subaru with more models being announced from Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen.

That's about it for 2012 predictions. Let's see if these predictions were even close in a years time when I will be writing the Reflections on 2012 and predictions for 2013 Blog Entry next year.

Have a happy and safe holiday.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Samsung Series 3 11.6" Princeton Notebook $349.00 STAPLES Deal

12/18/2012 UPDATE
The Staples Ad for the week of 12/18-12/24/2011 just went live on their web site and sure enough, the Samsung  Series 3 11.6" Princeton Notebook with the Intel Core i3 Processor, 4 GB of memory and the 320GB Hard Drive is on sale for $349.99 WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!!!!!


This is a super deal and if you don't pick one up, you will miss out on the deal of the year. THis notebook offers much more bang for the buck than the Mac Book Air. At $349.99 it blows the mac Book 11 inch notebook into the weeds!!!!

Looks like Staples is blowing out the Samsung Series 3 11.6" Princeton Core i3 Notebook again and the alert is for next week (week of December 19-23rd). If you trade-in a qualifying used notebook you can get the price down to an incredible $249.00 by way of a $100.00 Visa Gift Card. The normal price at Staples is $599.00.

Thanks to TTRAN88 for posting this tip:

Here is the link to the tip: