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sparquelito

Extreme fatigue and the going rate

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Are there terrible bands who clearly don't deserve as much as other bands who sound great?

Sure.

 

 

To be faiir I don't think I buy that as a rule really - 'terrible bands' that's a judgement by who?

 

From what I can see f'rinstance,folks round here seem to much rather see amateur bands play the stuff they (the punters) like and who have fun rocking out than technically gifted bands with fine PA's playing what the band likes. This I know from repeatedly packing out local joints (and helping make them butt loads from bar and food sales) and then other weeks watching way more talented people play to an empty house and the bar staff trying to find stuff to do to keep busy. So who do you call out as 'deserving'?

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But when quality bands consistently take gigs for less than they are worth, it lowers the bar and sets a new (lower) standard for live band wages for everybody else.

 

If it is what they are paying, it is what they are paying. We have ups and downs all year long, currently downs because New Years Eve is coming and that costs a place money to have a band, so they either aren't hiring or aren't paying a whole lot these couple weeks before and after the holidays. You either take the gig or you don't.

 

When Atlantic City went all union and such, do you think it raised the band rates for the surrounding area? No, it didn't, not one bit. In fact, the plethora of decent places to play kept band rates pretty low through the 90's and into the 2000s, compared to down at the casinos, which were booming. Today there are hardly any bands in casinos, that's what union money did. Most decent places to play outside the casinos have long since closed, because the economy in general isn't that great at all here, which means they really don't want to pay that much for a band.

 

I don't know anyone who thinks about what other bands are going to get paid as they prepare to accept or decline a gig. Just like us, they can take the gig or not, that's how it works.

 

rct

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Unions:

 

The union around here is a detractor. Joining the union is a good way to avoid work. Most won't even look at a union contract.

 

Plus, I was playing in a big hotel bar in the 1970s. We were the house band and former headliners like Blue Notes, Shirelles, Little Anthony and others did a show between our sets on the weekend.

 

One day the union guy came in and told us that we couldn't play because a non-union band was in the building playing a wedding downstairs. We asked if he would stop the headliners from playing, and he said they aren't in the Miami local.

 

So we quit the union.

 

Playing for free:

 

We play once a year for free at the nursing home of the VA hospital. We consider that a worthy cause.

 

We consider other charities only if everyone else is working for free.

 

If you are the only person working for free (1) you are being exploited and (2) you are taking away a job from someone who depends on gigs to feed his/her family. How would you like it if someone came to where you work and said they could do your job for free?

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I really cannot remark on the Unions situation in other States.

I have no experience with any musician's unions or rate-setting based on union rules.

 

I do have strong opinions on the aviation mechanics labor union I have dealt with further south of here (a deplorable situation), and in the local government-servants union here (abysmal crookedness), but I don't suspect that anybody would want to hear them in any detail. Nor is any of that germane to this conversation.

 

I'm glad that things are great where you guys are, really I am.

I love it when quality bands and quality musicians are happy, busy, productive, and well-compensated.

 

[thumbup]

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I really cannot remark on the Unions situation in other States.

I have no experience with any musician's unions or rate-setting based on union rules.

 

I do have strong opinions on the aviation mechanics labor union I have dealt with further south of here (a deplorable situation), and in the local government-servants union here (abysmal crookedness), but I don't suspect that anybody would want to hear them in any detail. Nor is any of that germane to this conversation.

 

I'm glad that things are great where you guys are, really I am.

I love it when quality bands and quality musicians are happy, busy, productive, and well-compensated.

 

[thumbup]

 

What is not great here is the loss of probably 75% of the venues we used to play in only ten years, maybe 15 at most. Just gone, and not replaced.

 

rct

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I really cannot remark on the Unions situation in other States.

I have no experience with any musician's unions or rate-setting based on union rules.

 

I do have strong opinions on the aviation mechanics labor union I have dealt with further south of here (a deplorable situation), and in the local government-servants union here (abysmal crookedness), but I don't suspect that anybody would want to hear them in any detail. Nor is any of that germane to this conversation.

 

I'm glad that things are great where you guys are, really I am.

I love it when quality bands and quality musicians are happy, busy, productive, and well-compensated.

 

[thumbup]

 

What is not great here is the loss of probably 75% of the venues we used to play in only ten years, maybe 15 at most. Just gone, and not replaced.

 

rct

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So, I'm feeling better and better about there being zero musician's unions around these parts.

 

[thumbdn]

 

I'm not sure that we can blame unions for the loss of venues in Atlantic County. In Atlantic City I suppose yes maybe, but we can still play down there at a couple clubs as a non-union band and get paid pretty well. It has it's own set of huge hurdles for getting in and out, and payment is a problem, no SSN from someone, no pay. If you use your SSN, you are on the hook for taxes and such, which we do thank the unions for, and that sucks. None of us do this for the money and the 1098s, so we avoid most of the places down there. If we are doing a night or two down there we draft somebody to play that works down there, they get paid and handle it easier than us outsiders.

 

Outside the city it is more just It's The Economy Stupid kinda thing. There just isn't any engine running, no great employer keeping everyone flush, so nobody seems able to stay in business long. Sure, the old timer joints are still around, but having bands less and less as they rely more and more on food. You don't want my band playing while you are trying to eat.

 

rct

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Yeah, the only time Uncle Sam gets involved is when we are paid by one of the larger companies (or even the US Army/MWR) for a private shindig.

Then there's the 1098, SSN (and our DUNS number involved, as appropriate), and the IRS has visibility on our getting paid.

 

But that's cool.

I declare all band income on my income taxes anyway, and that way I also get to write-off the annual expenses for guitars, cables, microphones, and other assorted band expenses and purchases.

The local County business license costs me about $50 a year, and that gets written off too.

You can even claim mileage to and from gigs, but I have never bothered with that.

 

Our band isn't incorporated, so the IRS considers me to be operating as a sole proprietor or an unorganized partnership.

The taxes are dead-easy to file, because I'm filing as an individual.

 

Each year I end up with a net business gain of $16 or so, or some years, a net business loss of $75.

However it works out is how it works out.

As long as I don't show a net loss for five years in a row, I'm okay and won't have to go back to declaring the business a 'hobby'.

 

A nice Irish lady who works there at H&R Block does my taxes each year, and she makes sure that we are right and legal.

 

I would love to come see you and your band play live, rct.

I only get up to your neck of the woods though on rare occasions.

(Whenever we visit my wife's daughter in NYC, we'll fly in and out of Newark, NJ.)

 

:)

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Hurry up! 21 months and I retire to FL. I'll incorporate there because I'll do much more studio stuff and I'll be in a few bands, including The Oldlaws with Surfpup.

 

rct

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My groups have always been more background music type, we use odd instrumentation in our covers (flute player will play guitar solos, keyboard carries bass, etc), so we don't get bar gigs. We noticed a lot of the places we would play wineries, coffee houses, restaurants, dried up as a result of spot inspections by copyright organizations to collect royalties for the song writers. While I respect that writers should be paid for their work being used, venues such as coffee houses really don't make that much more by adding live music, so rather than pay the fees, they just shut down on the live music.

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My groups have always been more background music type, we use odd instrumentation in our covers (flute player will play guitar solos, keyboard carries bass, etc), so we don't get bar gigs. We noticed a lot of the places we would play wineries, coffee houses, restaurants, dried up as a result of spot inspections by copyright organizations to collect royalties for the song writers. While I respect that writers should be paid for their work being used, venues such as coffee houses really don't make that much more by adding live music, so rather than pay the fees, they just shut down on the live music.

 

Yes, this. That was collateral damage from the late 90's crackdown on Karaoke bars, who even went to court in NJ to exempt themselves from ASCAP/BMI fees, which any venue playing music is totally responsible for in some way. It worked, all of the Karaokes around here shut down, taking a few other types of venues with them.

 

rct

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I've been following the thread here, and have been trying to decide when I jump in it..

 

I think much of this is region specific. Small town, verses larger city etc..

 

I'm from a smallish city, there's not a lot of places let to play these days, when I tried to get back into some light gigging as a duo, I ran into a few brick walls pretty fast and really just decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

 

1:

All the places that will hire musicians (Due, Solo, Bands) expect the musicians to supply the crowd. If you try to rotate to a few of the places in a 10/20 mile radius to play every 6 to 8 weeks, you can't expect to drag all your buddies, and family members to show up for every booking you get. I find the notion that this has been put on the musicians shoulders, to fill a drinking dive, absurd at the least, an unfair assumption.

 

2:

once you drop out of the "scene" for a while (or a few decades...) it's very hard to get back in. The competition is fierce, as the guys who are still active, make sure they gobble up all the gigs way ahead of time, and they really don't want "you" coming round to take bookings that they'd be taking.

 

3:

I think there IS some element of truth in the fact that some schmuck will play for 50 bucks, and a few free pitchers. It doesn't matter how good, or how bad they are,, they're cheap, and see #1... they find a way bring all their drunk friends, it's win win for the establishment, and I do agree that it does lower the bar for upper echelon who won't whore themselves out for low ball dough just to "get the gig"

 

4:

The only way to get along here, is to find a booking agent, and try to work your way into their graces.. but for me, a guy who's played all his life, I really have done just about it all, and I'm not bragging, but I can play circles around 90% of the putzes that are out working this area right now.. -- I don't begrudge them the work, I'm fine with it. go for it...

 

For me tho, and the idea of trying to jump back on the bus for a while? Not happening.. it's just the way it is. most of it's me, I'm not prostituting myself for this any longer. I'm heading for 60 in April, I DGAF anymore. I've got a great job, and starting to seriously prepare to retire or semi retire, honestly the LAST thing I want to do is cow tail to some 30 year old a s s hat who is booking the pub down the road, just to get a 100 dollar gig now and then.. no thanks..... all set..

 

for you guys who are still doing it, and making it happen week by week.. I applaud you, run with it while you can....

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1:

All the places that will hire musicians (Due, Solo, Bands) expect the musicians to supply the crowd. If you try to rotate to a few of the places in a 10/20 mile radius to play every 6 to 8 weeks, you can't expect to drag all your buddies, and family members to show up for every booking you get. I find the notion that this has been put on the musicians shoulders, to fill a drinking dive, absurd at the least, an unfair assumption.

 

Definitely chapping our azzes a lot these days. We're having it out with a regular place that loves us, does reasonable business when we are there, but keeps telling us we have to bring more people. What do you do when we aren't here? we ask. No answer. We can't bring a couple dozen out every other Saturday, it just won't happen. YOU supply the crowd, we'll dance 'em and drink 'em, that's how popular bars stay popular.

2:

once you drop out of the "scene" for a while (or a few decades...) it's very hard to get back in. The competition is fierce, as the guys who are still active, make sure they gobble up all the gigs way ahead of time, and they really don't want "you" coming round to take bookings that they'd be taking.

 

Not really a problem here. All the cover bands know each other, and all the original bands trying to get somewhere have all left or are playing 100 plus miles away for exposure. Nobody can book too far in advance anymore, just isn't the money to support it these days.

 

3:

I think there IS some element of truth in the fact that some schmuck will play for 50 bucks, and a few free pitchers. It doesn't matter how good, or how bad they are,, they're cheap, and see #1... they find a way bring all their drunk friends, it's win win for the establishment, and I do agree that it does lower the bar for upper echelon who won't whore themselves out for low ball dough just to "get the gig"

 

Yeah, it happens, but not often, and usually not more than once or twice. The bars aren't dumb either, they know the knuckledraggers too and generally don't want them.

 

4:

The only way to get along here, is to find a booking agent, and try to work your way into their graces.. but for me, a guy who's played all his life, I really have done just about it all, and I'm not bragging, but I can play circles around 90% of the putzes that are out working this area right now.. -- I don't begrudge them the work, I'm fine with it. go for it...

 

Our "agent" talks smack with the bar owner, prices us at 600 or 700, then tells us to go see them with a demo. They offer 4-500, he splits the diff with them. It's a great business.

 

For me tho, and the idea of trying to jump back on the bus for a while? Not happening.. it's just the way it is. most of it's me, I'm not prostituting myself for this any longer. I'm heading for 60 in April, I DGAF anymore. I've got a great job, and starting to seriously prepare to retire or semi retire, honestly the LAST thing I want to do is cow tail to some 30 year old a s s hat who is booking the pub down the road, just to get a 100 dollar gig now and then.. no thanks..... all set..

for you guys who are still doing it, and making it happen week by week.. I applaud you, run with it while you can....

 

I'm looking forward to having nothing but this to do.

 

rct

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I'm not sure that we can blame unions for the loss of venues in Atlantic County. In Atlantic City I suppose yes maybe, but we can still play down there at a couple clubs as a non-union band and get paid pretty well. It has it's own set of huge hurdles for getting in and out, and payment is a problem, no SSN from someone, no pay. If you use your SSN, you are on the hook for taxes and such, which we do thank the unions for, and that sucks. <...>

 

rct

I've always claimed every penny I make towards my income taxes and also take every legal deduction. It's much better than looking over your shoulder.

 

Notes

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I've always claimed every penny I make towards my income taxes and also take every legal deduction. It's much better than looking over your shoulder.

 

Notes

 

Well yeah, it's yer job. We have jobs and all the taxes that go with them, along with joint filing. We do this on a cash basis, as we always have. The casinos have to cover themselves, which is understandable, the local bar owner doesn't worry so much about it so we don't either.

 

rct

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I'm looking forward to having nothing but this to do.

 

Rock on while the means are there brother...

 

I guess for me, and having done this routine since I was in my early 20s, I'm done with the games and the BS. 25 years ago, I had more tolerance I spose.

I'm at the "Get off my lawn" phase of life now, and I just don't need the pant load of crap that tags along with this. I'm having a great time jamming with the guys I USED to do all this BS with, we are probably 80% originals. (and you're correct there, same out this way. that's a whole different scene, and none of the bars around here cater to that at all. You gotta get to Worcester or Boston to blend in there.)

 

At this point we do have occasional gigs, (have one in the spring we're supposed to play.) but not actively looking to get bookings.

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Hurry up! 21 months and I retire to FL. I'll incorporate there because I'll do much more studio stuff and I'll be in a few bands, including The Oldlaws with Surfpup.

 

rct

 

 

That's okay, my siblings and I, and our cousins, gather for an annual family reunion down in Destin, Florida every May.

 

And my daughter and her husband (and my granddaughter) live in Indialantic/Melbourne, so we get down there fairly regularly!

 

:)

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That's okay, my siblings and I, and our cousins, gather for an annual family reunion down in Destin, Florida every May.

 

And my daughter and her husband (and my granddaughter) live in Indialantic/Melbourne, so we get down there fairly regularly!

 

:)

 

I smell a jam session!

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That's okay, my siblings and I, and our cousins, gather for an annual family reunion down in Destin, Florida every May.

 

And my daughter and her husband (and my granddaughter) live in Indialantic/Melbourne, so we get down there fairly regularly!

 

:)

Just so you know, Destin is considered by most Floridians to be LA (Lower Alabama) :) Before the invasion of northerners in communities like Destin, it was known as "The Redneck Rivera".

 

East of Apalachicola it's South Georgia and around an imaginary east/west line through Perry it turns into Florida.

 

The Fort Lauderdale area (where I grew up) is considered part of the Northeastern US due to all the transplants.

 

Florida is a weird state (but I love it).

 

BTW, many years ago I did a gig in Fort Walton Beach (near Destin) and the beaches there are beautiful.

 

I have a sister who moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Indiatlantic and another to Melbourne. If you need a good CPA while you are there, let me know ;)

 

Notes

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Thanks for the offer, Notes!!

 

I grew up with a lot of trips to visit my Sanford/Orlando family in the 1960's.

 

Deltona was just a sketch on a real estate developers cocktail napkin back then.

 

Wonderful, weird State Florida is.

:)

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For what it's worth, the best money I made playing music was in a house band trio. No travel costs, far less wearing on the equipment. Between two of us, we had enough book to play different material five nights a week and we usually did 2 or 3. It was mostly older country two-step and waltz with an occasional '50s or early '60s rock thing to wear out the 20 and 30-somethings so there'd be room on the dance floor for the 40-60 somethings.

 

In theory the better of a couple of college rock bands made more in inflation-adjusted money, but it cost a lot more too due to travel costs.

 

Until that @$%#$% stroke a year and a half ago, I'd kind figured to drop the day job and there probably would have been enough venues for a solo like I'd be doing. We'll see, but I fear my left hand just won't get back to where it was, and we'll see whether practice and various adjustments can get back a degree of on-stage confidence I'd kept up by doing 2-3 benefits a year.

 

But the past five years I've also noticed a bunch of factors mitigating against live music.

 

Some are from the increased overhead of the sorts of venues that pay for live music and shrinking crowds. Add your own political commentary to that one, but figure most of that is federal over the past 6-8 years.

 

Some are the loss of venues due to ASCAP/BMI bully tactics.

 

Third is the factor as mentioned that folks just don't go out as much. Economics play a role at home too; and then add that we all have computers and 900-channel cable and...

 

Finally, I frankly think we're in an era of reeeally lousy marketing. Live music is part of an entertainment "experience" whether it's a private party, a saloon or casino. The musicians' union in my region generally committed suicide by living on stagehands and '50s semi-swing dances until that died in the mid to late '60s.

 

Tell me who as a group has spent more than a nickel on marketing live music as part of a nice evening out for families, married or singles in any way over the past 20 years, unless it's a well-known music "concert" or similar?

 

I dunno who and what exactly to blame other than I tend to think that with fear of internet and cable, add increasing costs of operations, regulations and taxes, "venues" cut advertising for the evening experience and ... voila, attendance dropped.

 

The white tablecloth joint of the '70s where I'd get a nice dinner with a before and after dinner drink, then move to the "lounge-dance floor area" had long ago dropped live music in the lounge. Food's as good, but revenues obviously down.

 

A bunch of my area towns contracted a big wheel "marketing expert" to study "us," and his conclusion was that our five area towns, total population around 40,000, lack any idea of who they are as communities, and aren't marketing well because of it. So different venues advertise (or not) for their own schtick and may (or may not) do well at it - but the 5-"town" community loses overall market share for various businesses.

 

E.g., Deadwood, SD, is a casino town that traditionally for over 130 years had been the "get a bit loose and wild" place for cowboys and ranchers, small business folks, loggers and miners to go for fun. Now about all they're selling as a whole is "gaming." That's not an "entertainment experience" after a few weekends the first cupla years they were open for it, especially not in their market area.

 

Ditto in a way Sturgis SD and its biker image that lasts a while each summer but not year-round.

 

Where I live, it's "the cowboy town" that once had live music in 3-4 joints in recent memory. Now music is once in a while in one of the saloons.

 

I could have told 'em that for a lot less cash. A few folks know me enough to know why I knew, but also that the "big wheel guy" has bought himself a much better marketing image for such stuff.

 

A case can be made that over the past 20 years, regardless theoretical increases in household incomes before adjustment for taxes and inflation, the loss of a minimum of a couple-three thousand good-paying jobs largely due to government regulation on logging, mining and "energy-related," the impact of lousy marketing campaigns in a larger community of a bit over 100,000 is a disaster for live music venues.

 

When folks have the cash, they just ain't going out, whether they prefer to spend it on "at home" options or whether they're not feeling that the live music venue offers anything better for the time taken.

 

Yeah, less use of alcohol for various reasons likely plays a role 'cuz that's how saloons to whatever "contemporary clubs" are called make their money.

 

Whatever...

 

I do find it interesting that fewer of us here seem to be playing "out" nowadays.

 

I guess I also feel it's kinda a complicated mess of things that could be corrected, but it ain't likely anybody will see sufficient immediate results from bootstrapping back to when venues could make a buck - and so could many of "us."

 

m

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"Bad..."

 

My point should perhaps have been stated more clearly: It ain't just "us." It's the entire cultural environment that is affected and in turn affects the economic and political climate.

 

And yes, frankly I do think it's not just a U.S. "thing," but in all the more or less "developed" world.

 

Heck, In my house, and we're "older than dirt," we have 2 relatively large screen televisions, three good desktop an two laptop computers and two still fancy "smartphones."

 

And believe me, by local, let alone national standards, we're at best economically "surviving," and no more. By national standards we're doing horribly.

 

But we haven't gone out specifically to be at a "live music venue" more than about once or twice a year, and the main one is in connection with our big rodeo and July 4 celebration.

 

I've said before that never again will we see a media "fame" similar to that especially of the Beatles, and their era.

 

It's not that today's musicians aren't talented and skilled at what they do, but that there are so many more media opportunities that has aided a splintering of who "we" know.

 

There's no "Ed Sullivan Show" that everyone of all ages watches. In 1960 everyone knew "Elvis" and could name some of his songs, perhaps even hum them. Ditto soon the Beatles. But now?

 

But marketing didn't keep up for the smaller venues where once folks all over the developed world went on Friday or Saturday nights, different perhaps by whether as a single seeking "other," as a couple seeking a night away from home's burdens or even as a family looking for a shared experience away from cares.

 

I blame lack of marketing adjustment from the '60s forward, along with economic and political issues that changed the culture to "nesting" rather than "going out."

 

And so venues died. Some would have anyway, but a loss of collective marketing for "A night out with live music" means that it ain't a big deal any more. The options have kept up marketing: There's shopping, television, online everythings, etc. Even buying guitars for personal, if not professional growth.

 

But for those not "in the biz," consider what effect that has on the overall culture and economics - and even politics at a local, regional and national level for all of us whether in Europe, Korea, Australia or wherever.

 

Personally I tend to be more of a "look at the forest and study it as a whole, not because individual trees aren't interesting, but they're most important as parts of a forest that has to be considered first."

 

That's why I see a lot of similarity here with loss of membership in all kinds of institutions from churches to fraternal and service organizations and loss of much of our print media and decreasing quality even of sound and video advertising. "We" are a very splintered world culture if our personal region has any economy at all, and "We" as that culture have seen little competent marketing efforts to promote our own personal schtick whether it's live music or learning about and reading books that might interest us.

 

In the U.S., the firearms and electronic device industries - and POLITICS in general have done better marketing jobs.

 

Don't take this as partisan, but note how much better some political issues and candidates have done in marketing than others.

 

That's across our "developed world."

 

So I ask, why have musicians and venues done such a crappy job? In my own "day job" calling, why has print journalism not marketed its strengths and instead let itself weaken from loss of focus?

 

I look too at the recreational boating industry: It wasn't all economics and political regulation that killed so many companies, folks just hadn't been sufficiently convinced as a general population that the industry and recreational boating were important enough to fight for through personal involvement of any sort.

 

....Oops... I think I got a bit windy, but then again, outside it's well below zero F and the wind's blowing. So my keyboard is an attractive way to escape that, and I've still a couple of hours work to do tonight before beddie. Note I don't even have to go to the office for that work thanks to my desktops and "cell phone," so why brave the chill and lessened momentum for a saloon with live music?

 

Think about that, too...

 

m

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From the extremely rare occasions I happen to read the print media these days, I would be lead to assume that the prostitution and money lending industries seem to be thriving - but then hasn't that always been so? Everything else is trends of various duration, but sex and money seem eternally popular commodities.

 

...which brings us back to Extreme fatigue and the going rate I guess.

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