Jukeboxes – The First Playlists

Juke Box

I fell in love the first time to the music of the jukebox. I remember the day well; a wintry Sunday at the Pam-Pam Cafe and the song that stirred me was Sinatra’s All the Way. A dark-haired guy had put a coin into the Wurlitzer, and when the song played he glanced over at me with inviting eyes and smiled. I was gone at that very moment; sent straight to heaven by Sinatra’s magic and a glance.

The music from a jukebox may very well have ignited many such romances; a nickel rolled into a slot and then the simple spin of a record sending intoxicating music drifting across a crowded room and into the consciousness of young starry-eyed lovers.

Jukeboxes were leased to diners and coffee shops where people gathered, enabling one person to manipulate the ambiance by the power of a single nickel. Yes, the guy with the coins owned the joint, albeit for just a few minutes. The music-making machines were also located in Prohibition-era speakeasies where Jazz-Age people tangoed or danced the Charleston, and then jukeboxes appeared in wartime PXs, canteens and clubs, sending jitterbugging soldiers and USO girls swinging. The 1950s heyday of Select-O-Matic models saw acrobatic jiving and cool bebop. The word ‘juke’ derived from African Joog, aptly meaning wicked wild dancing.

For Pre-Boomers and Happy Days aficionados seeking a 1950s fix with a heavy dose of nostalgia, all senses will be satisfied with a visit to Danville’s Blackhawk Museum where an entire lower floor gallery exhibits one of the world’s best collections of vintage jukeboxes. Upon entering, Golden Age music sets the stage and jukeboxes’ riotous colors flash rainbow neon tubes—the iconic eye-candy music-makers ranging from 1929 to 1967.
Mid-century jukebox music may stir memories as the era’s leading vocalists sing familiar Hit-Parade songs; Memories Are Made of This; You Are My Destiny; Love Me Tender; April Love; Jailhouse Rock; Volare; Chantilly Lace; Witchcraft; and Peggy Lee’s Fever.

The jukebox did not just appear; it evolved from other music-generated automata. The first coin-op model phonograph appeared in 1889 in San Francisco’s Palais Royale, and the 1929 Depression spawned the first electronic version when a nickel bought a song. Jukeboxes could be defined as the earliest offering of standard song ‘playlists’—popular music all encapsulated in one big box.

Their popularity burgeoned when moving pictures moved from movies to talkies—film industries switching from silent to sound—crossovers to dialogue brilliantly spoofed in such classics as Singin’ in the Rain and the Academy Award winning masterpiece The Artist.

Music flourished on the Jazz Age scene, with cleverly-crafted songs by Cole Porter, Ira and George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Hoagy Carmichael. When the market crashed in 1929, musical entertainment screeched to a halt; the last thing on the minds of laid-off workers in bread lines, were songs.

Music for the Masses:
Music was a luxury; only those who could afford theatre tickets heard concerts until melodies were generated by boxed mechanisms, amplified by cornucopia-shaped horns. Thomas Edison invented the first music machine in 1901, thus becoming instant luxury items for the wealthy and shared public venues. Few early 20th century recording artists became as famous as composer-pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff who was probably the very first recording star, followed by Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. It may very well have been the first time that classical themes and opera were introduced to the masses.

The popularity of hand-cranked Victrolas lasted through the first quarter of the century, and knocked into oblivion in the mid-30s when coin-operated multi-record Automated Phonographs were introduced. The automated machines grew from Post-Depression era cathartic needs for uplifting music in public places.

By the time pay-to-play jukeboxes were introduced, the fast-growing music industry realized that automatic coin-slot machines made money and were perfect venues to hook the public to their vast catalogues of music. The synergy between songwriters, music publishers, producers and recording artists was to be the perfect marriage to market music to the masses and voila!—the jukebox embedded itself in the culture as pure Americana.

The jukebox, magical keeper of songs, also became entrenched in global cultures broadcasting American music to the world. Pre-war years saw people swooning to popular music, written and produced with mass-listening in mind, setting hearts pounding, and the stirring rhythms igniting dancing, jiving and fox-trotting in canteens, clubs, cafeterias and cafes.

Jukebox styles evolved with kaleidoscopic colors and flashing lights that stimulated visual and auditory senses. They became iconic symbols for music-lovers; stirring monolithic memories to those who memorized top-chart songs, listening ad finitum to tunes ruled by the guys with pocketsful of nickels.

As Jon Snyder of the Blackhawk Museum points out; musicians and music industry moguls courted jukebox manufacturers and renting agents, who in turn courted location venues, and together they forged alliances to sell new music releases, splitting percentages and raking in the big bucks.

By the mid-30s, American music played on jukeboxes around the world, and the subsequent promotional angles singlehandedly caused record sales to soar. Once-obscure singers gained instant fame. Recordings by Victor, Columbia, Decca and Capitol Records were played thousands of times daily in self-contained money-generating media. Royalties, during the sales of 78rpm shellacs to the 45rpm victorious days of vinyl, set singers and musicians on trajectories to stardom. Thousands of jukeboxes blanketed big city night clubs and gas station diners; the smallest burgs knowing the biggest names and teenagers from farm to range knew every song.

Big name Wurlitzer out of Buffalo, New York emerged at the turn of the century manufacturing church and movie house organs, and then introduced music sound boxes that played as potently as a big band itself; an orchestra in a box. Wurlitzer 1015 played 78- standards and then in the 1950s introduced conversion kits that changed device mechanisms to 45rpms. Today, the Wurlitzer 1015 model is very sought after, fetching a whopping $16K.

Seeburg jumped on the bandwagon of auto-generated music in the 1930s, emerging as a serious player in the 1950s with Select-O-Matic100-record selection capabilities; and iconic ‘53 Seeburg M100C model anchored Happy Days TV show to the period. The man, who may very well have inspired the Rock-and-Roll term, was jukebox industry player, David Rockola. The rarest, single survivor, Rockola President Model is worth a cool $150K.

Mills made slug-proof coin-box machines and invented remote units where table patrons chose tunes-on-demand from juke joints. Enter Automated Musical Instruments Company, AMI in 1941 that perfected flip mechanisms for two-sided play and 200-45rpm record selections. Seventy five percent of new record releases went straight to jukeboxes, carpeting nations with the newest music, and if carousel play counts were good, it stayed, otherwise was purged.

Multi-colored illuminated jukebox styles evolved during the Golden Age, diverting from drab ho-hum cabinets that first housed the mechanisms. Artistic stylists borrowed Art Deco and Moderne sleek, lustrous lines that had advanced fresh looks for ship and automobile design; streamlined, seductive, sexy and geometrically innovative visuals that were subliminally indicative of sensuously intoxicating music drifting from the new magical boxes.

Jukebox design reflected period styles, such as Wurlitzer’s 1941 flashy ‘Peacock’ model that warrants a price tag of $23K and the Bandbox model $24K, topped by the rarest Gables Kuro model for $125K; only four existing in the world.

Jukebox Saturday Night – Frankie, Elvis and Pat Boone
The jukebox was the marquee, if you will, showcasing golden voiced superstars; the vocal heroes of favorite playlists. Hit Parade singers still resonate; Frankie, Judy, Ella, Satchmo, Dean, Elvis, Everly Brothers, Kingston Trio, Connie Francis and Pat Boone.

When the 1950s saw a post-war generation emerging, the jukebox yielded to the seduction of the new box on the block; the television set. Jukebox culture had run its course; the competition of black and white screens housed in sleek teak cabinets became the focal point of American family rooms, and storied jukeboxes were relegated to obscurity along with defunct Victrolas.

As Blackhawk Museum’s Jon Snyder states, “The 50s were the saturation point for the jukebox, and is the time when it enters the collective memory of so many…new models moved to high-end night-clubs, the older models to the diners—ironically the very jukeboxes where the rock-and-roll culture began to flourish, even though the Golden Age of jukeboxes had already waned…”

Twenty one iconic Golden Age jukeboxes are exhibited in Danville’s Blackhawk Museum, the monolithic building anchoring the Blackhawk Plaza. “Jukebox Saturday Night” is featured in the lower gallery of the world-renowned museum where one of the world’s most important antique, classic and vintage car collections is on permanent exhibit.

Blackhawk Museum, 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506 Enquiries: 925.736.2280 www.blackhawkmuseum.org

When Life Hands You a Disorder: Understanding Those with Asperger Syndrome

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin

“Different, not less,” are the words Eustacia Cutler used to describe her daughter to others, because it accurately defined Temple as a person and not as an autistic person, or what others might disparagingly describe as geek or nerd. Born in 1947, Temple was diagnosed with autism in 1950. She began speaking at age four and credits her mentors from primary school onward in life for her achievements in life while struggling with a high-functioning autism, also known as Asperger Syndrome.

Today at age 64, she’s an American doctor of animal science, professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. Temple is also listed in the 2010 Times Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in the category “Heroes.”

During a time when Asperger Syndrome was not an actual diagnosis, Temple’s diagnosis at age three followed a dire prognosis from a doctor who said she may never talk. He recommended institutionalization. Fortunately, her mother refused to put her daughter away, and pushed to have Temple immersed in normal education as well as continued education through college.

Different…Not Less is also the title of Temple’s latest book, due out in April. It contains stories of 14 older adults with Asperger’s or ADHD, who have been employed all their lives, and some have families. They tell their own stories in their own words.

One of Temple’s many messages to parents and teachers of autistic kids involves accentuating their positive traits and talents. “Let’s work on building their strengths,” said Temple, who cleaned nine horse stalls every day at age 15. “What’s going to happen when they grow up and graduate, they’ll have no job skills; such as showing up to work on time.”

“We need to be teaching more job skills and trades,” added Temple, also author of Developing Talents, and Thinking in Pictures. “Right now we need more diesel mechanics, certified welders, chemical technicians, and machinists.”

Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, of whom Asperger Syndrome was named after, studied children in his practice in 1944. He observed kids who lacked non-verbal communication skills, demonstrated little to no empathy with their peers, and who were physically clumsy. As one of the autism spectrum disorders, Asperger Syndrome (AS) did not become standardized until the early ‘90’s and odds are, if you mention the disorder Asperger Syndrome to a friend or family member, more than likely they will reply with “what’s that?”

One thing about AS, is that the disorder is considered high-functioning autism and can appear as someone who is awkward, uncaring, rude, shy or distant. Nancy Myers, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist since 1998 and in the mental health field for 22 years, is co-owner of Pinnacle Neurofeedback in Pittsburg and Brentwood, and gives a clear picture of what Asperger Syndrome looks like on the outside.

“It’s a condition where individuals have impairments in social interaction. They have difficulty recognizing social cues, emotional reciprocity, and lack of interests or achievements in other people. They tend to have other problematic behaviors such as over-focused interests and activities, inability to be flexible or transition appropriately, and have poor ability to regulate emotions,” said Myers, who is currently treating five patients, from autistic spectrum disorders to AS.

Myers’ practice also includes work with children and adults suffering from social interaction difficulties due to other autistic spectrum and/or learning disorders, ADHD, Bi-Polar, conduct and anxiety disorders. Her professional goal is to help improve the overall quality of life for adults, children, adolescents and families, and she accomplishes this through play therapy, social skills straining, anger management, parenting education and collaboration with agencies and schools.

Understanding the difference between a child with a developmental delay and a normally developing child requires the help of a licensed practitioner. “The thing that sticks out the most are their social interactions; teacher’s saying they’re isolated and withdrawn and not socializing with the group – more than just shyness,” said Myers of Brentwood, who is a wife and mom together with two kids ages 9 and 15. “A lot of people will see these disorders and misdiagnose them.”

She said AS is mostly found in males, under-diagnosed in females and is passed on genetically from one of their parents who has AS, or other conditions such as bipolar or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). “They’re finding the male brains of those with AS have an under-connectivity of their four lobes of the brain, poor long distance connectivity, but very good visual skills. Unfortunately, their brains cannot quickly integrate information from sounds and pictures,” she said.

Neurofeedback is one tool Myers uses to help her clients reduce symptoms and behaviors that are not productive. Using computer technology and electroencephalogram (EEG), Neurofeedback helps improve several conditions and improve personal performance. It’s used to monitor and feedback information to the brain about its own activities. “Electrodes are placed on the scalp and measure at the cortical level brain wave functioning. The information then comes up as feedback in a game or movie on a monitor. The feedback is visual, auditory and tactile, and that gives folks the information to influence and/or change brain wave functioning,” explained Myers.

She said it normally takes 20 to 40 sessions, each 35 minutes long, and costs $125 per session.

“Weigh that against years of medications and appointments,” added Myers, who says selective insurance companies are now covering it. “The sessions won’t cure the disorder, but instead reduces symptoms and sometimes the need for medication.” She said the sessions also help with physical calming and anxiety, something Temple knows a lot about.

In her seven-time Emmy-Award winning HBO film called Temple Grandin, Autism Gave Her A Vision, She Gave It A Voice, Temple designed and created her own calming device in 1965 called a “Squeeze Machine,” patterned after a squeeze chute used for inoculating cattle. When she saw the calming effect it had on a frantic cow on her aunt’s farm in Arizona, she discovered it had the same comforting effect on her, when she became hypersensitive.

Whether through self-calming devices, Neurofeedback or therapy sessions, today there’s a wealth of resources and help available for parents, teachers, family members and those concerned with children and adults with Asperger Syndrome.


For more information, contact Nancy Myers, MSW, LCSW, Pinnacle Neurofeedback, Lighthouse Counseling at 130 E. Leland, Suite C, Pittsburg, California, or 191 Sandcreek Road., Suite 215, Brentwood, California. Phone (925) 240-0943 www.pinnacleneurofeedback.org

Also, visit Temple Grandin’s official website at www.TempleGrandin.com

Native American Art Show & Sale 2012

California artist John Balloue will be featured at the Alamo Native American Art Show and Sale coming May 19th and 20th to theAlamo Women’s Club (1401 Danville Blvd. Alamo).  John’s works have been shown in galleries and museums across the country and have been included in many published illustrations. Inspired by a photograph by John Choate (1848-1902) at the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, PA., John created “Delegates for Peace,” a painting depicting five Sioux Indian Chiefs from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. This painting was chosen for the commemorative poster for the world famous Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2001. John was awarded the honor of being named artist of the year by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association and is listed in Who’s Who in the West, Marquis Publication, Providence, New Jersey.

Born in 1948 in Richmond, California, John is the son of a Cherokee father and a mother of English and Irish descent. He is a registered tribal member of the Western Band of Oklahoma Cherokee. After returning home from Vietnam, he attended California State University at Hayward graduating with a B.A. in art in 1975.

Although he began his career painting abstract canvases, he was gradually drawn to creating more realistic paintings that reflect his Native American heritage. “Not being raised on a reservation,” he says, “art is my way of understanding, keeping alive and honoring my Native Ancestors.” After painting in a realistic style for over 30 years, in 2003 he needed to try something new. He began experimenting with color and texture to create a more contemporary look and feel to his work.

“Now my work is more innovative and experimental in nature,” John explains, “Color is the primary means in which the change has occurred. Color is said to be a barometer of emotion and the strong use of color is reflective of a passionate approach to painting. Besides it just looks cool!”

John’s passion for his work and subject matter is evident in all his pieces. Many paintings will be available for sale and viewing at the Alamo Native American Show in May. John is looking forward to meeting the young and old and to share his experiences as a Native American artist.

I’m Playing Words with Friends (By Myself)

Words with Friends (“Words”, “WwF” or “Palabras con Amigos”) the mobile device app, has become insanely popular—so addictively popular that people of every race, religion and species are playing “words” everywhere; at home, while driving, in the gym, at their kids’ sporting events, even at church (I picked up 18 points for the word “heathen” last Sunday). The popularity of WwF was never more evident than when acclaimed thespian, Alec Baldwin, was thrown off an American Airlines flight for failing to turn off his game when asked to do so by a flight attendant. As popular as Words with Friends has become, we all do realize it’s just the game Scrabble played alone right? It’s Scrabble played on your phone or iPad or laptop, but it’s still Scrabble. The biggest difference between Words and Scrabble is that Words is played in cyberspace with supposed acquaintances while Scrabble is a board game played with actual friends who gather together to engage in communication, camaraderie and the consumption of Doritos or M&M’s.

While apps and online games have replaced the need to actually interact with real live people, once you’re engaged in a desolate and lonely game of WwF, it’s hard not to be competitive. Let’s hypothetically say someone, who will remain nameless, plays the word “conquistador” for a triple letter, double word, quadruple back flip for a total of 324 points, I, because of my poor draw of letters, can only play the word “dot” off her “o” for a whopping seven points. See, it’s still Scrabble, but now, as the popular 70’s singer Leo Sayer sang, I play “All By Myself.” For the purpose of this article, I am currently engaged in a game of Words with Friends with my wife, Julie, who is obviously not so nameless anymore. While most people might think my twenty-year career as a brilliant word crafting writer would give me an unfair advantage, those same people might also be surprised to learn I have never beaten the woman at this game of chance. However, as I organize my thoughts for this article, I will also be utilizing the Thesaurus of my brain to, once and for all, annihilate my competition in this Scrabble-like game.

Words with Friends, while highly entertaining, is just another example of our lone wolf society. When you have your phone or iPad, who needs actual friends? Our children have been playing computer games by themselves since they emerged from the womb. Nintendo DS was a favorite of our girls when we embarked on a road trip, when they tired of television, when they went to the bathroom or when they simply desired some down time. While the games do greatly enhance their hand/eye dexterity, it left them with thumbs the size of a corn dogs. Nintendo transcended into Play Station and Play Station eventually found its way to the bottom of a dresser drawer with the emergence of Wii. Fortunately, Wii did encourage some social interaction with family and friends, however once it was determined that Wii could also be played alone, my wife became a Wii widow. Speaking of my wife, she just played Quoz for 589 points. In what language is Quoz, a word? Bequoz I think she’s cheating.

Back in the day, the neighborhood kids (Clifford, Terry, Felicia and Angela) and I would gather together on a rainy day in Cliff’s sunroom to play board games for hours on end. When you’re a “gamer” or “board playa” in kindergarten, the games we rocked included Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Granted, we did live a little fast in those early days. Games become much more interesting when you’ve got something riding on them. Not money of course, because a six-year old can’t really get his hands on cash, no instead we would stake a game with Oreo, Chips Ahoy! or Nutter Butter cookies. Playing board games was a chance to develop our social skills, which was crucial to our adolescent development. I recently read about an eight-year old child in Florida who proclaimed her best friend was her Droid cell phone.

As my underground game gang matured into our tweens, our board games of choice naturally evolved along with us. Me and the boys (Jeff, Derek, Troy, Luis and Mark) moved our high stakes games into the backyard fort at Jeff’s house. It was really his older brother’s fort, but he allowed us to rent it for $2.00 an hour because he had taken up heat lamp gardening. Chris became quite the businessman selling his extremely popular and odiferous plants to the neighborhood teenagers. Games such as Clue, Masterpiece, Life and Yahtzee were now our thrill of choice. Of course the stakes also matured and the grift became items such as firecrackers, cassette tapes and Playboy magazines (“for the articles”). Our conversations also moved away from topics such as cartoons to sports, girls and girl sports. Julie just played “dominatrix.” Let’s see, with her three double boggy letter and four triple word squares she just scored 713 points. Fortunately for me, I was able to follow that weak play with the word “dirt” capitalizing on her “t” for a nifty 11 points.

Perhaps the Godfather of all board games is Monopoly. Monopoly, a game of high stakes real estate, requires a player to exhibit guts, strategy, negotiation and a knack for getting out of jail free. Monopoly marathons in college were commonplace. Often following a wicked fun night of partying, we would commence a rousing game of Monopoly at the FRAT house around 2:00 a.m. and go until dawn. Assuming we could convince a few Sigma Chi little sisters to join us, the stakes became clothes and it was mandatory to down a shot of Jäger every time someone passed GO and collected $200. Oddly, I remember losing my pants when I landed on Park Place one too many times, but I was usually the last one to lose my dignity. Of course, there was more to the game than alcohol consumption and naughty voyeurism. There was deep, meaningful dialog on topics such as Reagan-ism, the Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird rivalry and of course, MTV’s hair band rotation. Julie played on my word “dirt” and her word “dominatrix” and scored 666.5 points in two different directions with the seldom-used word, “ambidextrous.” I strategically countered with the word “farter” using six letters for a total of five points. How did that happen? Score – Julie 1,594 points and Mike 26.

I’m not saying that there aren’t positive aspects of a game such as Words with Friends (or Mobile Scrabble as I like to call it) which does require that the participants utilize their brains far more than say Brick Breaker or Bejeweled, but my question is where does it stop? Will our children’s children eventually engage in youth sports online instead of actually going to a park or field to participate in a game of soccer, softball or lacrosse? Will virtual swimming take the place of swim team? My fear is that our society will become a bastion of overweight, socially inept computer hackers that’s can’t communicate in the real world. We’ve got to force ourselves to promote meaningful interpersonal interaction and it might start with a hard copy board game Darn it, Julie just played the word “gortex” for 214 points and I’m left with five “U” letters, a “Q” and a “Y.” I quit this stupid game and am going to the closet to find Apples to Apples, Balderdash or Sequence. Hey kids, “Daddy’s done working and it has just become Family Game Night. Tell mom to “put down her iPad and join the fun.”

Spring Cleaning—Inside and Out

Okay, am I the only one, or do you too sometimes struggle with letting go of old possessions? Oi vey…I’ve lived in my home for 27 years and have managed to acquire a whole lot of “stuff.” Although I regularly donate and recycle items, it is an ongoing process to downsize possessions and clear old clutter. Whew!

Now, the great thing about this time of the year is that we have an opportunity to do some Spring Cleaning. Yep, there’s something in the air that gives many of us energy to “spring” into action and assess the things that physically inhabit our homes.

Did you know that there is another type of Spring Cleaning beyond the physical? Yep, I call it emotional Spring Cleaning. Emotional Spring Cleaning is what I often do with clients in my private practice—year round. I ask the ones who are seeking tools for stress relief or weight loss, “What are you carrying in your life that feels like a burden?”

Then, our work consists of hoisting the burdens off the client’s shoulders, and onto the floor between us. We metaphorically let the burdens gently spill onto the floor allowing each one to receive some light. From this higher perspective…we now let the “lightening-up” process begin.

We sit patiently together, identifying, sorting, and clarifying what each burden represents in his or her life. “Paths not taken,” is a recurring topic of discussion. Sometimes, even when outwardly a person’s life looks rich and fulfilling, inwardly he or she may be experiencing a sense of emptiness…a proverbial hole in the soul.

Guilt, shame, and regret are commonly uncovered during this inquiry process. For example, painful feelings due to:

  • Unrequited love
  •  Job challenges
  • Self neglect

In addition, many clients are carrying emotional burdens for other people—burdens over which they have no control or any power to change. The recently Oscar-nominated German documentary feature film Pina depicts several examples of “burdensome challenges” expressed as dance.

One surrealistic scene shows a woman struggling while carrying a man (dressed in black) on her back. This poignant piece is an excellent literal depiction of “carrying another” or another’s burdens. We watch the woman struggling to move forward, teetering from the weight of the man on her back, as she attempts to walk barefoot across a sandy beach. This unique (and quirky) 3D film, shares snippets of dancer/choreographer Philippina “Pina” Bausch’s colorful life and her fascinating personal perspective on a variety…of joyful and challenging life issues.

For the challenging life issues that are referred to me by doctors and other health-care professionals, I offer numerous tools, including hypnotherapy. The tools I share often assist in lightening emotional loads. The good news is, I see a recurring gift that many clients receive after they’ve gone through this process of sorting through their burdens with me. Once a layer of the emotional Spring Cleaning is complete and they have clarified and compassionately addressed burdens that are not appropriately theirs to bear — a clearing appears. After they’ve created some emotional space and added breathing room, they then have an opportunity to invite more balance into their lives today.

This empowering process can be a great way for each of us to update our “internal environment” and continually address burdens we have no control over. When we dive in to release and renew both physically as well as emotionally, we are honoring who we are in this precious moment—mind, body, and spirit. Finally, from this recharged place we can declare that indeed we’ve accomplished another year of Spring Cleaning…inwardly and outwardly!

To receive Trina’s FREE newsletter “Transformational Tips for Mindful Living,” sign-up on her website: www.TrinaSwerdlow.com
Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of the 2-CD set, Weight Loss: Powerful & Easy-to-Use Tools for Releasing Excess Weight.
She is the author and illustrator of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. She soulfully shares her creative approach to personal growth and passionately supports her clients in reaching their goals. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or info@TrinaSwerdlow.com
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Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.

Market Watch – Time to Rebalance

Investor optimism has risen a bit lately and it is easy to see why. The world’s equity markets have rallied quite dramatically since October of last year. While such positive sentiment is by no means unanimous, optimism clearly is climbing. This is hardly a surprise given such strong gains over the last few months. Of course, there is considerable debate over the staying power of this bull market. I don’t know what the future holds, but I feel now would be a good time to consider rebalancing your accounts.

The process of rebalancing forces an investor to sell high and buy low. Many people recommend rebalancing on regular intervals. Some say to do it at least annually and some as often as quarterly. I believe it is better to let the market tell you when to rebalance. I preferred to rebalance after we have seen a sustained period of either strong or weak returns in the markets. This helps keep the risk level of your portfolio consistent with your plan and avoids being overexposed to stocks before a downturn or being underexposed during an upturn. Think of the markets like you do your health.  When are you most likely to catch a cold? After a sustained period of good health. When do you get better? After you have been sick a while. Markets are not much different.

Let’s take a simple example from the last few months; suppose an investor’s portfolio stood at $1,000,000 just a few months ago on October 1, 2011 and on that day the investment mix was right at their risk targeted allocation of 60% stocks (represented by the S&P 500 Index) and 40% bonds (represented by the Barclay’s Capital Aggregate Bond Index). By the end of February 2012, only five short months, the strong relative performance of stocks over bonds would have increased the stock allocation to 64% and resulted in a portfolio value of $1,132,168. That’s an over 13% gain in just five months! While it is always nice to enjoy positive returns like this in a short period of time, it is also an appropriate time to consider rebalancing. Taking profits on the stock portion and reallocating it to lower risk bonds in this example would make sense for an investor concerned with maintaining a consistent risk level in their portfolio.

Clearly, it is important to review your mix of assets from time to time. Rebalancing the mix back to an appropriate level will help an investor guard against being over or under exposed to equities at the wrong time. This is especially important at moments like now when optimism has increased and everything is beginning to feel fine.

Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP® and should not be construed as investment advice. Rebalancing may be a taxable event, before taking any specific action be sure to consult with your tax professional. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Not all recommendations are suitable for all investors. Each investor must consider their own goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or Damien@WalnutCreekWealth.com.

 

Flashback Fashion

It’s an ‘80s flashback! I can almost hear my favorite Wham song, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” while eating frozen yogurt with my college BF (boyfriend) who is now my H (husband) of 25 years. The spring trends of 2012 have taken me back to my “bang-wall” days—a serious fashion déjà vu.  So, what do you do when trends come back, and in some cases, haunt you?  Follow these tips to successfully navigate the ‘80s AGAIN:

Photo 1

*Wear ‘80s trends in small doses, especially if this is your second time around.  Bold floral prints are everywhere this season—jackets, tops, bottoms and accessories. Start with one bold piece, and complete the look with modern elements (photo 1), not a jumpsuit featuring a head-to-toe ‘80s garden of delight (photo 2).

Photo 2

*Color, especially neon, was a must-have in the ‘80s, and it’s back like crazy. My favorite take on color this season are jeans in every shade of the rainbow. Kelly green jeans (photo 3) are a fun and easy way to put POP in your wardrobe. A hint about neon: make sure the color compliments your skin tone. Otherwise, a girl can appear less chic, more sick.

 

*Lace is back. This time, it’s more lady-like and polished than the edgy way Madonna wore it thirty years ago. And, if you prefer an even more classic look, a lace top (photo 4) with colorful pencil pants will give you more of an Audrey Hepburn vibe. Who doesn’t love that?

Photo 3

*Lastly, do not grab your old clothes out of the attic (or heaven forbid, your closet!) and wear them again. Over the course of the last 30 years, life experience has taught me one thing…I am not a girl anymore. As much as I would love to fit into my acid wash Guess jeans with the ankle zipper, I know that my sense of style has matured. And I like it! However, I will enjoy watching my 20-year-old daughter find her way through the colors, floral prints, and over-sized, off-the-shoulder tops, and she’ll emerge just like I did, with her true personal style intact.

Photo 4

If I see you wearing a scrunchie, I’ll have to “Get Physical!”

For style tips and trends, go to Carolyn Rovner’s blog at C2style.com/blog and subscribe by clicking the “subscribe” button on the right side of the page.

Lessons From A Scandal

The Dirty Dui/P.I. Moms/Contra Costa Narcotics Scandal just won’t quit.

In the latest bomb a former New York state deputy turned actor, who moonlighted as a private eye (or was it the other way around?), went on the record with the San Francisco Chronicle talking about how he is the informant in the case against Butler and disgraced former county narcotics commander Norman Wielsch. The two and other law enforcement associates are accused of running a soup-to-nuts criminal enterprise that would make Harvey Keitel’s character in The Bad Lieutenant blush.

I never knew Chris Butler other than having a professional relationship with him over the phone and talking a couple times a year. I knew him as a competent, professional private investigator skilled at both video recording and setting up video systems. Let’s just say he had advanced technical and investigative abilities.

Butler used his skills to sting unlicensed private investigators, shown by ABC-7’s investigative team. In a case where we had a common target, he used an undercover investigator to get a covert recording of a psychic offering to make cancer go away if she was paid hundreds of dollars.

The first time I ever thought something was odd with Butler was when The East Bay Express ran a glowing profile of him and his firm in May 2007. The article was called “The Honeytrappers” and it detailed how Butler used attractive female operatives to catch cheating husbands. Many of my professional colleagues looked sideways at this. And yes, there was some professional jealousy. But most private eyes feel uncomfortable using undercover agents in garden variety domestic cases. (A cheater is going to cheat, it just might take a few times to catch him or her.)

One potential red flag in the Honeytrappers article was that it said he had been on the Antioch Police Department but just resigned and cashed out his pension to start his agency. Most private investigators who are former law enforcement come to the private sector after long, long careers. Some of the others perhaps were forced out. I don’t know the circumstances of Butler leaving the force, where he had worked with co-defendant Wielsch.

Another of Butler’s marketing tools was the “P.I. Moms” for a reality show. It seemed that he was everywhere. Butler had all the tools and abilities to make an excellent living doing corporate or legal investigations but is alleged to have engaged in: running a brothel, selling methamphetamine and other drugs and the now infamous “Dirty Duis” where his undercover agents drank with subjects who drove off and were arrested by Butler’s associates in various area police departments. It seemed like he was bent on being a television star.

As private investigators, we are business people. I admit, I have an ego and like some publicity. It’s just that serious private dicks don’t want to be too well-known. The Chris Butler story is a cautionary one about ambition. He was using methods that amount to short cuts. If a case is going to be in a court it’s all about having the moral high ground and getting evidence legally. Any client such as a lawyer, a business or a private party should know their investigator and how they operate. Ignorance is not bliss.

Beauty News – Burberry Cosmetics are Stylish and Elegant

Burberry fashions have always been a favorite of mine. It is a luxury brand with a distinctive British sensibility, all while being effortless, trendy, and classic. I love their structured designs and beautifully tailored trenchcoats. Their stylish look is well known and has been seen on A list models and celebrities worldwide.

Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look for it and, of course, have the openness to be inspired. Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Officer of Burberry has continued to keep the design fresh and innovative with a new concept…Cosmetics! Burberry Beauty was born. In 2010, Burberry Beauty celebrated its worldwide launch with a gorgeous campaign shot in London featuring British models Lily Donaldson, Nina Porter and girl du jour Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Early this Spring I was asked to do a review of the Spring Burberry Beauty Collection, since it was launching at Nordstrom in March, I was intrigued and honored. I find for myself that the worlds of art and fashion often collide, inspiring me daily, sometimes consciously, sometimes by happenstance. When I received the package of the beauty collection I was excited about the cosmetic treats and opened it with curiosity. The packaging was gorgeous with the iconic Burberry check stamped on each of the glossy metallic beauty tools. As I opened the lipsticks I noticed the magnetic closure and beautifully handcrafted embossed check they engraved on the lipstick as inspired by core Burberry icons and fabric details.

The new spring lip colors are very neutral and soft as reflected in their clothing line. I liked the fact that you can add them to your existing cosmetics and it will enhance them. Anyone could wear these hues with confidence; yet have their own personal style. They are subtle, breathable, lightweight and modern. The lip-glosses are nice and hydrating and have a cute glossy metal engraved at the top. The Nude Rose lip-gloss was a hit with all the girls at The Rouge; it looked natural yet different on everyone.

When you’re out on the town wearing your Burberry trenchcoat, slide out your Burberry Beauty lip-gloss and be oh-so-chic with your new up-to-date British style. Now all I need is a Burberry Trenchcoat and a Burberry cosmetic bag to go with my new lip-gloss!

Timeless, Elegant and Classic = Burberry

Find a Place for Joy

Native American PaintingHave you ever felt guilty doing something you enjoy? You know the feeling — I’m doing “X” but I should be doing “Y.” I’m working on my quilt but I really should be working on next month’s budget forecast. I’m reading (or writing) another chapter when I really should be studying for next week’s test. I’m going for a bike ride when I really should be cleaning out the garage.

To one degree or another, we all share in a day to day struggle to manage our time (or more accurately, our actions) in terms of “must-dos,” “should-dos,” “want-to-dos,” and “like-to-dos.” Time management gurus tell us that if we are grounded in what we value most, managing time is simply a matter of dividing our activities into categories like urgent, important, trivial and useless.

As many people likely define their highest values in terms of things like family or duty to God or country, these are expressed in terms of a hierarchy of responsibilities. For example, because one places a high value of providing for their family’s physical needs, they spend a great deal of time working in some career or job. While this is all very natural and I won’t suppose to know what you value most, I do believe we are sometimes prone to under-valuing essential parts of our character that contribute much to our humanity—those parts of us that are emotion, creativity and artistic expression.

Our dramatic cover and the accompanying article about Native American artist, John Balloue reminds us that there is so much more to life than our “should dos.” What are the things that enrich our life experience? What contributes significantly to joy and fulfillment for ourselves and others?

My message this month is simple: regardless of what you consider to be most important, forget about feeling guilty. Find a place in your schedule for joy and artistic expression. In your own way you will be contributing to the richness of life’s experience for yourself and for everyone around you.