Saturday, November 30, 2013

POP VOX w/Broadleaf - TODAY !!

Whether Duke or UNC win the football game, come to #2ndWind, Carrboro this evening and celebrate or commiserate with hi-energy interactive Beach Pop!

The fun kicks off at 8.30pm with indy pop reggae from #Broadleaf. Followed by hi-energy interactive Beach Pop from Weaver Street's very own one-man Boy Band #POPVOX. You won't want to miss it!!

FB Event Page:

Friday, November 29, 2013

POP VOX w/Broafleaf - TOMORROW [+ PosterGuys]

"Your [POP VOX] show at 2nd Wind was the most entertaining live show I have seen in the last five years." (Matt @ The Poster Guys)

Want to see what got him so excited? #2ndWind. Tomorrow. November 30. #Broadleaf (indy pop reggae) opens at 8.30pm. Followed by hi-energy interactive thermal beach pop with Pop Vox / Geoff Gilson ...

FB Event Page -

Sunday, November 24, 2013

POP VOX + Broadleaf = Beach Pop Extravaganza !!

At 2nd Wind in Carrboro this coming Saturday (November 30) fight off the cold with indy pop reggae from #Broadleaf starting at 8.30pm. Followed by hi-energy interactive thermo beach pop from Weaver Street Market's very own one-man Boy Band Pop Vox / Geoff Gilson.

First time at 2nd Wind for Broadleaf. And #POPVOX has new songs, violet hair and will be sporting the Fifth Doctor Who's outfit t-shirt, in honor of the good Doctor's Fiftieth Anniversary.

Or you could just stay at home, shiver and watch yet another re-run of 'The Sound of Music' ...

FB Event Page -- 

This Thanksgiving Fiesta will be something of a Weaver Street Market affair, with Geoff Gilson (SV Kitchen) as POP VOX, and Greg Sronce (SV Deli) in Broadleaf. You won't want to miss 'em ... !!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hugh John Simmonds, CBE: April 20, 1948 - November 15, 1988

Twenty-five years ago, Hugh Simmonds, my closest friend, my law partner, my political mentor, a rising star in the British Conservative Party, and Margaret Thatcher's favorite speechwriter, turned up dead in a woodland glade, seven miles from our hometown of Beaconsfield, in England, in mysterious circumstances.

I made a promise to investigate those mysterious circumstances. The mothers of Hugh's children became a tad concerned about where my investigations were leading (ok, they thought I was loopy). I don't blame them. So, in 2002, I handed to the children's grandfather, Hugh's father, who did believe in me, folders to be given to the children on the occasion of his death, Which occurred in 2005. Those folders set out a somewhat different scenario to the official version.

I don't know what those children think of all of this. I still care for them deeply. I believe one of them may even have surreptitiously Friended me on Facebook. What I do know is that I did what I could. Which is not as much as I would have liked. But sometimes, we can not always do all that we would wish. As my very favorite President discovered, when he decided to let the US health insurance industry design his healthcare reform package.

And those few spare words about Hugh's children camouflage an eternity of continuing personal anguish.

As for me. Well, twenty-five years ago, I was a deeply ambitious young man. Office manager of Hugh's law firm (although not in charge of the bank accounts!). About to earn six figures a year as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a newly-formed company, which was purchasing 100 tenanted pubs from Whitbread. Senior staff member for a politician, who likely would have been a senior Cabinet member. Perhaps not a star, but maybe a rising starlet, in my own right, in the British Conservative Party. Wing-tips, braces and Filofax in my hand.

Today, I am older. Not much wiser. Violet in my hair. A confusion to my father, as I seemingly live my life backwards. Earning low five figures in my local co-op. Where I advocate, to the consternation of my management, and sometimes to the delight of my fellow workers. I don't wear a watch, nor carry a smartphone, nor own a personal organizer. If there is something which does not neatly fit into my immediately-accessible memory, then it is something which is a step back into a life of stress and anxiety, which life I left behind when I chose to become a recovering alcoholic (nineteen years, two months ago).

My current preoccupation is with exploring my creative side. And that finds its most immediate musical expression in my alter ego, Pop Vox / Geoff Gilson. I have a wealth of good friends. Many new. Some from my past, who re-discovered me earlier this year, and who have a far more generous memory of me from twenty-five and some years ago than I have. Thank you.

It has been an interesting twenty-five years. Begun with tragedy. Finding destinations that never figured in my early planning. But still welcome. There is much left to accomplish. I am fifty-seven years young. The powers that be may yet act with the good faith I have sought for Hugh's family these past twenty-five years. In the meantime, I never forget. Not Hugh. Nor his children.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paid Holidays For Hourly Workers

As promised earlier this week, when I discovered this was 'Respect for Shopworkers Week' in the UK, I have now written to the General Manager of our co-op (Weaver Street Market/Panzanella), asking him to consider putting hourly workers on the same footing as management, i.e. we all get paid for holidays:

"Hey Ruffin,

I've tried before. I'll try again. The hourly-paid workers of WSM and Panzanella are currently moving heaven and earth to create the large profits WSM is experiencing. We are allowed two 'official' holidays each year - Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The problem is this: although managers are paid for those two days 'off,' hourly-paid workers are not. You make much hay with your thanks each year to hourly-paid workers. Why not thank them this year by actually giving us the day 'off.' It's only 'off' if it isn't requiring that we use one of our own vacation days to pay for it. What do you think?

All the best,

We'll see. Next up. Trying to get him to allow those who work on New Year's Eve to leave in time to get to a party. Yes. We stay open on New Year's Eve until 10.00pm (which is 11.00pm, if you're clearing up the Hot Bar, and the Salad Bar, and counting cash, and vacuuming the Bulk Section). And then, time and a half for those of us who work on federal holidays ...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Respect For Shopworkers Week

This week, in the UK, is 'Respect for Shopworkers Week.' Just for one moment, I have completely lost my train of thought, so bowled over am I by the thought that anyone actually cares. I thought we shopworkers were acknowledged fodder for every crazy, foulmouth, redneck, tosser and general all-round neanderthal God ever created.

I think I will celebrate by:

1) Writing to the General Manager of my co-op (again, I have to stop and lean against the wall in hysterical laughter for a few minutes, as I use the term 'co-op' in reference to the capitalist, profit-driven paradise where I work). Where was I? Oh yes ...

I will write to him to ask if it is possible that, this year, we might actually get paid for the only two official holidays we are granted (Thanksgiving and Christmas). I mean. The two lone holidays are fine. And all. But they're pretty useless if we have to use up our own vacation days to pay for them.

After all, respect for shopworkers (and Food House workers and admin workers) should be forthcoming from management as much as customers. We are, after all, the ones directly producing for and selling to the customers. We are the ones making the money, which management then divvies up as it sees fit.

2) Trying my hardest, for one week at least, to encourage my customers to end their requests with 'please.'

Meanwhile, the photo with this rant is of Jessica Simpson, in the movie "Employee of the Month." Because Jessica is hot. And to remind me that respect for shopworkers is due not only from customers, but from other shopworkers, too ... guys and gals ...

Friday, November 8, 2013

POP VOX, Broadleaf, Beach Music, Violet Hair and Me ...

Ok. No photo yet. But my evolution as the #POPVOX continues. I now have tasteful streaks of magenta and violet in my hair.

No, this is not just a ploy to get you to come to the next Pop Vox / Geoff Gilson gig ... which, um, is on Saturday, November 30. Although, there is loads that is new.

Beginning with wonderful indy-pop-reggae band, #Broadleaf. Who kick off the evening of hi-energy beach music at 2nd Wind at 8.30pm. And are composed of Greg Sronce (who works with me in the SV Kitchen), Douglas Stoll, Ian Watkins and Carly Yusiewicz.

After which, the hi-energy will continue with my shamelessly interactive set of beach pop. Including three new songs. About which I am terribly excited. A stadium rocker; one of those boppy numbers you simply can't get out of your head; and a whole new dance-a-long extravaganza.

And. Finally. My hair. You won't want to miss any of it ...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Political Correctness, Scarecrows and Customer Service ...

Ah. Halloween. An excellent opportunity to mull upon political correctness. First, costumes and scarecrows. Then, customer service.

Dressing as a Boston marathon bombing victim isn't politically incorrect. It is obnoxious, tasteless, uncaring and insensitive. The woman concerned deserves all the opprobrium she received. We don't need to invent a new expression to deal with blatant incivility and lack of tact.

Then again. At the Southern Village Weaver Street Market, we were apparently forced to take down our scarecrow. Because a customer complained that it was 'politically incorrect.' Namely, the Bobblehead Zombie had too much tomato ketchup on the brain (cauliflower) it was holding in its hand.

Look, people. It's a called a bloody scarecrow. Not a tickle-crow. Not a princess-crow. Not make-me-laugh-like-frigging-Elmo-crow. Not a please-don't-make-Tiffany-cry-crow. No. A bloody scarecrow. Get over it.

And those in charge? There are times we don't give in to every customer's tiniest complaint about political incorrectness. In fact, it is also politically correct to stand by your employees (many of whom have children), who voted democratically (well done!) for this particular scarecrow, and then invested time and creativity giving expression to the collegial concept.

Again. It is called 'customer service.' Not 'roll-me-over-and-kick-me-wherever-it-is-vulnerable service.' On the subject of political correctness. In a co-op. Where all are equal. Customers and workers alike. Can I stop ranting now, please ... ??

[Oh. Do I need to add that these are my personal views? Really ... ??]

Monday, November 4, 2013

Make Work Pay Contracts In The UK

Oh dear. An article in this past Sunday's [London] Independent on Sunday quite neatly encapsulates (for me) the difference between progressivism and socialism. How I support the former; not the latter. And, on a slightly side issue, why it is that I get ever so gently annoyed that socialists in my locale pretend to be progressives, when, in fact, they are avid socialists.

I lived through the disastrous experiments in neo-socialism in which British Labour Party Governments engaged in the Sixties and then in the Seventies. We had combined tax rates for some individuals of 102%, and employers (good and bad) could barely move for all the impositions placed upon them.

From several decades of experience, my current view is as set out in a previous and rather long Note on my Facebook Page. Basically, the economy is a natural force. Let it flow. The minute you try to interfere, you screw it up. What we should do, as caring progressives, is leave the economy alone; maximize the opportunity for all to benefit; and provide dignified support directly to those unable to make ends meet.

But no. Ed Miliband (current Leader of the British Labour Party) dives straight back into the Seventies. Plans to dump all sorts of interference on businesses up and down Great Britain. His artifice, the Make Work Pay contract, will be massively rejected by businesses as unworkable. Just as similar measures were in the Seventies. And the low-paid will be even worse off.

What's worse is that Ed is dishonest about how the scheme will be funded. Instead of coming straight out and saying folks will be paying more tax. He uses the old and continually discredited chimera about increased tax revenues.

I would be much more impressed if his Labour Party would come up with proposals making it easier to establish co-operatives and/or encouraging public companies/large private companies to elect employee and community Board Directors (as I suggested in another recent Facebook post). In that way, it would be up to the companies themselves to determine, within the context of more progressive structures, what they could reasonably afford in terms of better living wages.

But no. Bless him. Ed is a socialist. Not a progressive. He still lives in a fantasy land, where some amorphous and omnipotent entity, known as the state, knows better than people what is good for the rest of us. Sigh. We learn nothing ...