Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Football, football, more football....

Since 1997, I've been working as a subcontractor for Simoni Systems, an audio contractor, doing the visiting coach's headsets for Detroit Lions games. The first few years were at the Pontiac Silverdome using a system that involved long cables for each coach. We are now on a second-generation wireless system, and the games are played at Ford Field. I also do occasional college games that are played there, and this year I did the mixing for two days of high school championship games. My position on NFL days has been refined by the NFL the last few years as they have become more sensitive to technological issues. I am the "VST" or Visitor's Sideline Technician. I am stationed at the Telex intercom rack on the sideline and wear a yellow hat so the coaches can find me quickly if there is a problem. I am not allowed to have any other duties on game days, have had background checks as well as factory training on the Telex wireless systems. On weeks when there is a home game, I receive the headset diagram and electronic files from the visiting team 5 days before the game. I burn the electronic files to an SD card that is used to configure the wireless transeivers in the Telex rack. The coach-to-quarterback and coach-to-defensive-captain communications start with my Telex gear, are sent to Motorola radios attached to my rack, transmitted upstairs to a repeater, then re-transmitted to the helmets. There is a cutoff switch on the repeater to prevent coach-to-player communications except when allowed by rules. All radio transmissions are encrypted, so even if unauthorized personnel had the frequencies, they would be unable to understand the messages. There are numerous other security safeguards including periodic sweeps for bugging devices by FBI agents.
Monday, December 13th, 2010, was one of the most memorable football games played at Ford Field. The New York Giants had been scheduled to play the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis on Sunday the 9th. The Giants left New York, but a winter storm kept them from reaching their destination and they only made it as far as Kansas City. The game was rescheduled for Monday. While they were working on their travel dilemma Sunday morning, word came through that the Minneapolis Metrodome roof had collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow. By noon Sunday the decision had been made that the game would be played at Ford Field. An unbelievable number of logistical challenges were overcome jointly by the Giants, the Vikings, Lions staff, and Ford Field staff, and over 45,000 people were in the seats for the kickoff Monday night. The Vikings did their best to make it a home game; painting their logo on the field and in the end zones, bringing their home production crew and announcers, even their cheerleaders. I worked both with the Giants headset tech and my old friend Gary Bosiacki, the Vikings tech who worked for Telex for many years when I was a Telex dealer as Cook's Music. The most memorable thing about this game was what did NOT happen- Brett Farve did not start the game for the first time since he started his career in 1992. A copy of the "inactive" roster (an original is going to Canton for the Hall of Fame display on Farve) released at game time is posted with the photos here:!/album.php?aid=261676&id=689831554
Think about that for a second. Brett Farve started his chain of consecutive NFL starts 5 years before I started working NFL games and I am now in my 14th year. I once read a quote by an NFL player who compared play to walking onto a highway full of speeding volkswagens. For the most part, these guys are not only BIG (many are 6'5", 275 lbs and bigger) but also armored and it is incredible how fast they can move. Many quarterbacks who starred in college never make it in the pros. Very few actually can claim to have had a successful career of 5-10 years. I doubt that very many of Farve's records will ever be broken and I'm grateful to have spent time on the sidelines so close to him.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicago Drum Show clinician slots

What do we look for in clinician selection? Lots of things... I guess the bottom line is that the artist has to have chops, has to be enough of an educator and entertainer to present a structured clinic that will entertain and inform. It helps, of course, if there is enough of a resume and/or name recognition to draw people to this event. The artist's fee has to be in line with our budget, and it helps if there are sponsors to help underwrite the expenses of bringing the artist in. We do help artists break in occasionally, and make a special effort to recruit local artists and female percussionists.
This morning I received a note from an artist seeking a clinic position. Included in his note: I'm endorsed with D.W. Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth & Evans. I always here great things about your event.
If you get the chance, please check out my page on Drummerworld. Here is the;
(I replaced his name with the x's to avoid embarrassing him publicly.) Perhaps I am being a little picky, but there are in my opinion three problems with this. First off, I do not think it was appropriate to use "I'm endorsed with...". I believe he was trying to say "I'm endorsed by..." which I would also have a problem with. When an artist signs an endorsement deal with a manufacturer, it primarily means that the artist is endorsing the manufacturer, not so much that the manufacturer is endorsing the artist. Second problem; "I always here..." should be "I always hear..." Again, this is picky, but I am looking for skilled communicators. Lastly; the link that the guy sent was no good. I tried it several times before simply googling him to learn a little about him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bahlke House named Historical Site

The residence of Rob Cook & Maria Bruno, known locally as the Bahlke House, has been named a historical site by the Gratiot County Historical Society. Built in 1907, the 6,000 sq ft 3-story tudor was constructed as the residence of Wm and Mary Bahlke. Bahlke was a lawyer, farmer, postmaster, and village president. In addition to playing central roles in the startups of a bank and several important manufacturing concerns, Bahlke was a major benefactor of Alma College. He donated the land still used as Bahlke Field and his widow built a stadium there. Mary also started Alma's first library in a storefront. When she died, the Bahlke House was bequeathed to the city and it became the public library with meeting rooms for women's clubs. A residence since 1974, Cook & Bruno have lived in the Bahlke House since 1996.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Appraisal documentation for tax deductable donations

If you donate gear to a museum, school, etc. and plan to deduct the contribution from your taxes, you need form 8283 from the IRS. The first section of the form is for donations valued under $5,000 and you can complete it yourself. Section two is for donations valued over $5,000; for that one you need to attach an appraisal. I am a qualified appraiser; contact me if you need assistance! (I just completed an appraisal of Francine Bellson's donation gear which she gave to The Louie Bellson Heritage Days of Rock Falls, IL.)

Watch out for this guy!!

Before you spend $10,000 on a drum from an Ebayer with only one feedback, think carefully.

This guy stiffed me for his drum show booth 2 years ago with a bad credit card and seems to have no physical address. I managed to get his stepfather on the phone, who was not at all surprised and said even HE does not know where the guy lives or does business.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Busy days

Where did the summer go? Maria starts teaching again next week (Michigan State University), and it seems like everything is happening at once. I'm still making some progress on the Gretsch book thanks to John Sheridan's assistance. A new project still in the planning stage is an autobiography of Jerry Shirley, drummer for Humble Pie. Jon Cohan will be editing the text and it looks like Chad Smith may be involved with translating some of the Anglo-centric comments. Casino video gigs were heavy in August; tomorrow is Donny and Marie Osmond, Sunday we have Paul Revere and The Raiders. In betweeen, on Saturday, the Lions have their first home exhibition game of the season so I'll be at Ford Field teching the visiting coaches intercom systems. (Cleveland Browns.) Next week I'll be shipping stuff to Winnie in Amsterdam for the UK Drum Fair at the end of September- I'll be flying to Amsterdam and driving (and riding the ferry) with Winnie to Birmingham, England, for the show. I'll have to miss the Amsterdam show and George Lawrence's Ohio drum show, both coming up soon in September.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Some tragic losses this year...
Terry Breese, co-founder and co-owner of Huber Breese Music as well as Southern Thumb Music, both in southeast Michigan. Terry was a longtime exhibitor at the Chicago Drum Show, a career music educator and the consummate supporter of the percussive arts. And all-around nice guy. Terry passed away suddenly and unexpectedly just before this year's show, which was dedicated to his memory.

I am headquartered in my home town of Alma, a central-Michigan town of 10,000. The community was rocked last week by news of a tragic plane crash. The superintendant of schools Don Pavlik was being airlifted to the Mayo clinic for cancer treatment accompanied by his wife Irene, his doctor and friend Dr. Jim Hall, pilot Jerry Freed and copilot Earl Davidson. The plane went down in Lake Michigan with Jerry the only survivor. For more details, just google "plane crash near Ludington" or search the stories at the site of the local paper, The Morning Sun.

First blog post

Welcome to the Rebeats blog. I'll be posting here instead of trying to keep the "news" page of the Rebeats site updated. To stay completely in the loop, please occasionally check the Rebeats home page, the drum show home page of the Rebeats site, and the Chicago Drum Show facebook page. Thanks! Rob