hardware:   Apple PowerBook G4/OSX
software:   RTcmix, max/msp ([rtcmix~]) Digital Performer 4

We live in a very small town in central New Jersey with a somewhat interesting history (see my neighbor Rod Tulloss' web site about the social/cultural/political background of Roosevelt Borough). In 2005, our Mayor started a series of actions that most of the citizens found objectionable, culminating in plans to build a 5-storey yeshiva dormitory for 150+ students and support staff at the local synagogue. Roosevelt has only about 350 houses, so this would be a major change in the character of town (we had also recently won a landmark lawsuit concerning development issues -- Rod Tullos has additional information on the Fund for Roosevelt web site).

A group of neighbors organized a peaceful protest in late July -- more like a town picnic -- against these plans, and of course accusations of anti-semitism began to fly freely, which was very strange considering that the protestors (and most of the town) were Jewish! My daughter, Lian, and I walked down to the "protest" to see how things were unfolding, and we were confronted by . . . armed guards 'protecting' the synagogue. Yikes! I guess the mayor(?) and a few others on the synagogue board decided that we had all embraced neo-nazism and were afraid for their lives (yes I am being sarcastic).

I had been a bit ambivalent about the yeshiva issue up to that point. I believe that the town zoning laws should be taken seriously, but I didn't want to curtail the legitimate religious activities of the synagogue if they could be appropriately woven into the fabric of our community. Given our town's history I figured that this was a real and interesting possibility.

But the guns freaked me out. I mean, the purpose of weapons is to kill people, right? Were the retirees who organized the protest that much of a threat? Were they planning to open fire on our kids if we seemed unruly (not too likely given that the median age of the gathering was about 65)? I wrote the song in the next few weeks, and gained a little local notoriety as a result. Hey, a Roosevelt rock-star I am!

A lot of the sounds come from samples I made of old instruments our family has (my maternal grandfather had quite a collection) during a visit back to Indiana a week after the protest. I had a new Marantz digital audio flash recorder and wanted to try it out; the harp sounds, bell sounds, shakers, etc. are all from those instruments.

I'm most happy with the guitarist and bass-player, especially the bass part at the end. I can't actually play these instruments, so what you hear are physical model algorithms being "played" by virtual style-model agents. Those fragments of LISP code really rock out, heh heh. I'm a lazy computer musician, let the code do the rockin'.

One more thing -- the recordings are from around Roosevelt, and most of the sounds have a local meaning attached to them.

Here are the lyrics: