BEYOND MUSIC

On occasion, to gain perspective with your music, you need to pit it against other markets and take jobs that have nothing to do with it; plus a lot of the times you have no choice. Ideally, you may want something related, like making guitars or consulting for API or something. Ironically, I found it easier to build and service US submarine ballast controllers than to work fixing multi-track machines or consulting for MCI… There appeared to be a kind of snobbism that came with the field. So, in that spirit, because I did indeed work on US subs and even help redesign some of their aging controllers, as well as devise unique ways to match their magnetic amplifiers, I found myself in position to take jobs like the one below…


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In March of 1984 while working under French president Francois Mitterrand, I was assigned to locate the whereabouts of Guinean president Ahmed Sekou Toure who had been flown from Saudi Arabia to the US for emergency treatment. Nobody knew where he was and there was an aura of secrecy around the whole incident. After many hours on the phone with various diplomatic figures from around the world, I finally found out that Toure had been flown to the Cleveland Clinic, and I managed to speak with his first minister who informed me that Toure had passed just a few minutes earlier and that I was the first to know. I immediately related the message to Mitterrand who in turn sent his condolences and made a few public announcements. For my work, I was rewarded in ways disproportionate for such a small accomplishment. From personal handshakes to gifts to recommendations, my name made the top of the list, as ministers and generals from then on addressed me with considerable respect. My point: In world politics, being ahead of the action, regardless of its degree of importance, is a highly desirable position to find one in. It’s part of the status that makes political posturing all the more effective. There is a reality in leadership that is so removed from that of the masses, that it makes one wonder how the two can coexist. The huge push from money and control combined with the swollen collective ego of these political elite makes for a perplexing subject of concern for those who seek a balance in world peace and justice, and who aim for equity in wealth distribution.


In my short stint with politics I was exposed to accepted levels of corruption, recklessness and immaturity. The Reagan clique was so high on power and paranoia that it looked downright dangerous, and you could not bat an eye at a secret service agent without the sense of being x-rayed while connected to a lie detector. These guys were pros at the suspicion game. It didn’t really matter that I wore their small octagonal red USSS guess lapel pin; they just couldn’t help it.


The French president on the other hand, was a trickster. He wasn’t cut for the bullshit and needed his space to think. He enjoyed losing his bodyguards and knew how to vanish in a crowd. One of his favorites was to seize the opportune moment when a cab was finishing unloading its fare; he would then deftly jump in and order the driver to peel off before the guards could act. It was always a drama production at the other end when he did that. He would then walk back to the hotel by himself. I loved that in him.


But when I was offered a position I could not refuse as the result of my work with Mitterrand, I chose the back door. I had come to the conclusion that it was saner to surround myself and play music with my insane friends instead…



View from the presidential suite of the Meridien hotel in San Francisco

The business card Mitterrand handed to me