WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Death of an Icon of Cool.


George Carlin once said that his ultimate prayer was: "Dear God, let me be a Cool Guy." I always thought that was the ultimate life-ambition. That was enough. Be a Cool Guy. Although, maybe you could pray for it, but you couldn't conjure or order it up, it wasn't something you could learn or whatever, God-given, built into the fabric of your being or maybe something that descends upon you like a gentle mist.

Coolness.

Some folks just exude & embody coolness. Carlin had it. A bunch of Jazz Cats had it: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane. Stone Cold Cool Guys.

I would add the debauched Errol Flynn, the ill-fated Sean Flynn, the tragic James Dean. I would throw in Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Sam Shepard, Keith Richards, Patti Smith (I know, she's a woman, but still a very cool guy). I know I am probably leaving out a whole host of Cool Ones, but this list isn't supposed to be definitive, it's just off the top of my head while I guzzle coffee this morning.

Anyway Peter Fonda has died. He is one of the Icons of Cool, for sure. I first saw him in all his glory  with my cousin at a Drive-In in the early 70's watching a double feature of "Dirty Larry, Crazy Mary" and "Easy Rider." "Easy Rider" was the more memorable movie, one of my favorite all-time films. It was an eye & head opener. Made in 1969 it won an award Cannes, it inspired a whole new independent movie movement and featured r&r on the soundtrack.

We heard Hendrix, the Band, the Byrds, Steppenwolf on the soundtrack. That was new and exhilarating. The film was breakout hit for Jack Nicholson, and the beginning of a long breakdown for Dennis Hopper, and at the center of the storm, in the ultimate zone of cool there was Peter Fonda as Captain America.

Peter may not have been as an accomplished actor as his father or his sister, but he was cooler, no doubt. No one was cooler. He carried himself with a powerful, quiet grace. Every movement. Every gesture. Cool. The Death of an Icon of Cool. Take care Peter. See you down the road. Take it Easy, Rider...

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Morning Wise Guy!

Some hard-won wisdom.

I mean maybe this sounds simple, easy, but maybe it's the simple, easy things that are the hardest, because we can easily forget, overlook, disregard.

How to be a decent Human Being? And by decent I mean decent in it's various guises: "marked by moral integrity, kindness, and goodwill..."

Those are high-minded words, but you get the drift. You don't have to be a Priest or Prophet, you don't need to be a Holy Being; show up, be alive, stand up to be counted, be conscious, listen, respond. Don't just complain. Don't judge too harshly. Let the moments of your life come to you. Be sure to give something back to others. Notice the little things, the tiny kindnesses, the unexpected laughter.

Share the light, share the sparkle in your eye. Don't be afraid. Show a bit of pluck and courage. Stand by your words. Always aim to align mind, heart, spirit. And then jump into the pool. Damn the torpedos. Remember the Universe is a glorious place, our special playground. Be sure to play. And remember maybe your life is a little bit about you, but it's really not about you.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Great Sea of Little Fuckups!

Sometimes you think your life is bounded by the great sea of little fuck-ups. A missing piece, a forgotten detail, a mislaid device, an inability to juggle multiple things in real time. Multi-tasking is a mug's game. Lots more information coming your way than you can process, and you end up doing everything slightly poorly.

This happens often. Maybe you are too slow for life? Too simple, simple-minded. You write things down, you plan, you strategize, but the little fuckups add up. The plan doesn't resemble reality. The map is not the territory. Sometimes these fuckups are just annoying, easily over-looked, you power thru, don't pause or look back, you just plow forward. But then, sometimes the accumulation of mistakes is overwhelming, just too much. The little tiny glitches, and fuck ups add up to a bit of spontaneous chaos.

The whole edifice comes crashing down. I think this happens on a personal level, a societal level, a cultural level, in physics, the life-sciences. There is a randomness, a chaotic level that kicks in at unexpected times. The unexpected comes unexpectedly.

A life made up of little fuckups. I am not talking major sins, the little stuff, the tiny things. The butterfly's wing flapping leading to a hurricane. It's a funny life. A life of interesting fuckups.  You can't judge too harshly. Leave that for others. You, well, you Pilgrim, must move forward, damn the torpedos, carry on, whether they come from out there, or in here. Maybe you learn something? Try to plan better? Open the door to chaos. It's always looming.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Inner Kid!

I do think adults are just damaged children, some more damaged than others, but all damaged. As adults we may wear big boy and girl pants, still inside, we are those little kids we were in our formative years. I think of a tree, the roots, the early rings, they don't disappear, they are the foundation.

It is the same with us, little, innocent, helpless beings, taking in a world of wonder, so sensitive, so impressionable. We carry those little beings inside of us always. We do adult things, but we are stunted beings. Flawed, partial, closed-down.

So much of our lives are arbitrary, random. Where were we born? When were we born? Where did we grow up? Did we have a family? Who did we hang around with? How did we occupy our time?

Peer Group. Very important. Who were the folks we looked up to? Was there anyone we respected? Did we hang with people we did not respect? I think we consciously and unconsciously model ourselves on others. We try on different personas. That's how we kind of figure out our mode of living.

Choose wisely Pilgrim. Who you admire, who you live with, how you occupy your time. Everything counts. Everything defines us. One day you wake up and realize you aren't a kid anymore, or maybe you realize that you betrayed that little kid you used to know. Don't worry that little kid is buried in there somewhere. Waiting, patiently, and Patience is a godly virtue, is so unchild-like, but essential.

Friday, August 16, 2019

"I Wonder If...?"

There is a bit of magnetism to human beings who exhibit a measure of "sureness." You know someone who thinks they know what's what. So many of us are flailing, confused, unsure. There is something appealing, and attractive, about human beings who display maximum confidence. Be forewarned Dear Pilgrim. Proceed with caution. That maximum confidence is often a riff, a game, a bluff. And almost certainly a bit of smoke and mirrors, partial, a smokescreen for a blind spot. I think the truly Wise Ones will tell you that they are certain of nothing. Look to the ones who don't often begin with a sentence with the words "I know..." but, instead with the magical words, "I wonder if...?"

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Demonic Holy Ghost!

Yeah. Dreams (see previous post), I know they aren't real, but I can't help but think they are important missives, messages, or signals, from a deeper consciousness. Often they seem garbled, confused, nonsensical, otherworldly, sort of like badly-constructed David Lynchian-type flicks.

Often they just of vanish in the light of day. But sometimes they hit home, they seem prophetic, pull you up short, make you ruminate, contemplate, and try to decode.

That Dylan dream totally captivated me yesterday. Add that to my days of obsession. His music fills my ears, I am stirred by his evangelical passion, his short-lived, fire and brimstone, stone-faced preacher of judgement and damnation. Just another one of those forbidding and entrancing Dylan masks. And don't forget, when a human being puts on a mask, they always tell you the truth.

Of course, I reject much of the gospel according to Bob. I can go with the idea of Jesus as cool guy, but all that mighty King on the Throne crap just sounds like bad superhero B.S. to me. I pretty much stop at the shore of a shaggy Jesus, a flawed human being with a messianic-complex, who preached love and forgiveness. I'm pretty much mushy, new-agey, New Testament. Jesus as Perfect, Peace, Love and Understanding Hippie. Dylan is very much Old Testament: Sin, Flames of Hell, Eternal Damnation, Repentance, Blood.

I accept Dylan as poet, not as prophet. Dylan as truth-teller, alive to the illuminated word. Yes, there are insights, revelations, poetic truths, but he doesn't persuade me when it comes to the battle of Armageddon, the End Times, Heaven & Hell, etc. Except, of course, all of these concepts work for me metaphorically, poetically, psychologically. I can fall for the psychology of sin and redemption. I can envision my life and all of human existence as some grand battle of good vs. evil. And we all always hurtling towards a personal and global end-time.

So yeah, "messing with his grain." That's me picking and choosing what I want to align myself with, and rejecting what I think is clap-trap, serious, whacked-out, mumbo-jumbo. I am much more aligned with Allen Ginsberg's Buddha, or Ginsburg's forgiving vision of William Blake, a vision of mystery and wonder. "Energy is Eternal Delight."

But I am addicted to Evangelical Bob. I love the poetry. The language of a man aflame with the creed. And he worked with some killer musicians all along the way. Listen to Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love, or the double cd live set Trouble No More and marvel at the Wonder, the Beauty and the Power of musicians giving it all to a catalog of songs that can stand on their own against anything else in the canon.

Dylan as Demonic Force? That was a surprise, a startling revelation, I always thought Dylan was channeling some Holy Ghost, but you know there's always the dichotomy. The light and the dark. Maybe this Holy Ghost is Demonic too? Makes for better songs. Makes for Great Art. The highest variety.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Apotheosis of My Dylan Obsession!

I suppose the summer of 2019 will go down as the apotheosis of my Bob Dylan obsession. I have been stuck on Dylan's "gospel years," for months now. I discovered Clinton Heylin's "Trouble in Mind," "Judas," "Man Behind the Shades," and Dylan's "Recording Sessions," this summer and have read them all as if they are sacred texts. I often go back to them after an intense listening session. Heylin is the most obsessive of obsessive Dylan-ologists. He knows the man, the work, he is not afraid to praise and condemn. I don't always agree with him, but he makes me think, makes me listen with fresh ears.

Last night I had a nightmare. I was "messing with Dylan's grain," what, yes, Dylan was in my dream, he had these large vats of grain, and I, for some unknown reason, was messing with them. Dylan found out, he was furious, and he came after me with all the power he could conjure. Dylan came at me like a demonic force. I was a trembling ball of fear. I curled up into a fetal position and Dylan rained down on me like a hard, metallic rain.

I woke up, heart racing, fear shooting through my cells. What to do? I put more Dylan on the box this morning. The man has gotten into me. I can't shake him. No one fires up my imagination like Dylan. No one else has the same power to open my head. A master. Scares the shit out of me too. Why oh why did I mess with the man's grain?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

R&R in the Black Box!

I found myself in a little black box theater last night. It took awhile for me to locate the a/c so I immediately burst into flames, I always run hot; a muggy August evening, in a small enclosed space, stuffy, and hermetic, this is where theatrical magic happens. I was there for a band rehearsal, my other band, the one that rarely plays, rarely rehearses. We don't really want to be "good" or tame or put together. We like it loud and raw. I mean we are sort of musical, not dark, not too heavy, just a noisy garage band.

All the sweating reminded me of all the many years I have spent in dark, black-box theater spaces. Most of them have been homemade, marginal, and for some reason, there was never any a/c and I was always in there during the hot summer months. Lots of sweat. It was sort of agreeable. Made it always seem like the neccesary work. Essential. Important. Maybe it wasn't really important, but it felt that way. Like some sacrifice, some effort, some discipline was required to do the good work. The scene, the play, the skit, the one-off performance piece, the song, the monologue, whatever. I mean it was the good work even if the result was a bit shabby, or loose, or ramshackle.

It was always the doing, the effort, the willingness to endure, to stand up and try something. To try to create something that didn't previously exist. So many years doing it. So much of my life. Conjuring up things that came aand went with barely a ripple. I am left with a few photos, lots of memories, and  buckets of sweat, except of course, there were no buckets. I do know there were buckets of sweat. But nothing to point to. Sweat. Now evaporated. Who knows, maybe absorbed by the atmosphere, added to the great cloud of unknowing? How did rehearsal go? Fine. Hot, sweaty, ears ringing. I plugged my Fender Telecaster into a little tube amp and wailed away for all I was worth. The band played that old rock and roll in the black box. We all sweated, but it was good.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Speak like a Racist, Act like a Racist, You are a Racist!

It is important to be precise in our language. This morning I look to Kevin Drum who explains the differences between Racist, White Supremacist & Race-baiter. Seems the fat, blubbering man in the white house is wondering how he can rebrand himself. I think racist fits just fine. But really, Kevin is persuasive, Race-baiter might be even more accurate. What kind of cowardly creep would use race-baiting as an election strategy? The answer is blowing in the wind, it's on our screens, in print, we see it every day, a great idiot wind blowing thru the land. We need other voices, we need folks to stand up and decide this is all intolerable. We are so much better than this, we have other important work to do. We need to move on from the blubbering one, and reclaim our country. I am optimistic, I do think this man will be a sad shadow, a stain on the carpet, forgotten soon. I really do. The blubbering fat man is not a beginning of a new era, or a new movement, no, his idiot mummerings are the last, fatuous, dying, gasps of a racist, race-baiting, retrograde blowhard, a man out of time. You do not want to be him, a man swimming in his own seething, superating, bile and ignorant hate.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Consciousness and Energy!

I may be wrong, but I do think that materialism is a lie. A pretty big one. We are told that if we can't touch or see something it doesn't exist. So spirit, energy, vibes are kind of dismissed as wacky new age stuff. A massive lie which most of us believe. Some folks tell us that material, matter is everything. There are whole philospophies built upon that belief. And every day we seem to be ruled by matter and material things. Of course, we have bodies, made of cells, organs, flesh, bones, material all. Our bodies are subject to the laws of nature. Matter, matters. It seems everything flows from matter. We are led to believe that matter is all that matters. It's a bright, shiny lie that seems true. The Universe is overstuffed with matter and anti-matter.

But my experience tells me that the immaterial, the invisible things that drive, animate and float around us actually rule our lives. I am thinking of energy, spirit, emotion, feeling, consciousness. Do these invisible things emerge from matter, or do they infuse or descend upon matter?  Is it a stupid question? Maybe all the essential, important questions are stupid.

Energy is eternal delight. Consciousness is like a cloud of unknowing wrapped around the universe. I am no great thinker, I am back, stumbling in my little dark closet. But I throw my lot in with those who believe in a certain Spiritualism. I guess that puts me on the side of Aristotle, Plato, Pindar and Descartes. Go team!

So, yes, I can live in the world of material, the bounty of material, but at the same time, I know that I am more than my body, and the Unierse is more than matter. Energy. Right? I am all about consciousness and energy. Maybe an energy and consciousness beyond matter? No need to call it anything. Just experience it. Embrace it.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Everything is Connected!

I think my most important, deepest insight, one that I carry in the cells of my being: everything is connected. It is not just an idea, or feeling, or guess, it is an insight, a knowledge, gnosis, something that has overcome, overwhelmed me a couple times in my life. It is something I have experienced in the deepest core of my being. It's a simple thing, a simple idea, and in some ways it seems so obvious; not all that unusual, or surprising, just a fact, a belief, that colors everything else that I see, hear, and experience. It is one of the reasons I rarely feel alone. I am connected to all that lives. Of course, it's not just me, this connection unites all of us. This does not make me special. I am like everyone and everything else. Knowing this changes everything. It transforms, underlies everything. All strife, all division, all the turmoil and and hurly burly of the world comes from ignorance, from a partial understanding, a sort of blindness. Now, of course, since I am just a human being, some of the connections, some of this wisdom is a mystery to me. I am wrapped and surrounded by mystery, by unknowing, but that's all part of it too. I know that I don't know. Knowing is unknowing too.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Ideas, Feelings, Germs!

Yes. Ideas are like germs and feelings. They are invisible, they can totally overtake you. I suppose some ideas, like germs and feelings sometimes choose you. You are exposed to them and they invade you, whether you want them to, or not. Some ideas, germs and feelings are good for us, benevolent to our beings. Some are not, they are destructive, sickening.

There is a double- edged nature to ideas, feelings, germs. Are we just permeable containers? Open to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? How to live? Carefully? Be careful of what we put inside of us? How to maintain some kind of equilibrium, stasis, stability, but at the time be open to new ideas and experiences? See new places, meet new faces?

What is the integrity of our beings? How do we judge health? When do we know this idea, this feeling, this germ is good for us? How we know when these things are destructive, that they will destroy us?

I suppose that's why we live, to find out. Seems like a difficult and messy way to go. Dangerous too. Any little germ, any stray idea, one misguided feeling can lead to a certain doom. We are teetering on the knife's edge of existence, with death and destruction around every damn corner. Welcome to my paranoia! Have a nice day!

I mean, we must  be discerning consumers. Be careful and choosy. Also we can change, evolve, morph, in fact it is highly recommended. We can change our minds, change our surroundings, change our friends, change our diets, read new books, search out new ideas, new perspectives, always be moving, flexible. You know be transparent, be like water, always flowing.

So yeah, my personal motto, "You Must Believe." But what to believe? Aye, there's the rub. Choose carefully Pilgrim. Your life, happiness, health, spiritually, intellectually and physically depends upon it.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Grooving on My Own Thing!

I have entered a sort of Howard Hughes-like existence. No, I'm not wealthy, I haven't dated any starlets, I never flew in a wooden plane, never crashed, didn't buy a hotel in Vegas, didn't collect my urine in jars, I'm not fond of Richard Nixon, I'm not overly paranoid, or unkempt, but I am living in a big old mansion with just one furry little creature by my side.

It's sort of a strange existence. I am the caretaker, taking care. I am living in the lap of luxury, spinning Dylan CDs almost exclusively. I am now stuck in Dylan's gospel years. Songs about God, hell, apocalypse, all that fire and brimstone stuff. Dylan fell hook, line and sinker for some of the most extreme evangelical, apocalyptic jumbo-jumbo. A long way from the surreal, Mercury-mouthed, r&r Saint. Kind of otherworldly, disorienting.  Perfect for this time. Seems totally cut-off from the real world. Hell, what's real, anyway?

The days are long. Up early with the chirping birdies. Everything is lush, green, well-manicured. It's quiet around here, except I am blasting Dylan at great volume. Playing the same records over and over. I am now convinced Dylan's "born-again" years are some of his best. He is singing with such conviction, in fine voice, supported by incredible musicians, a man lit on fire by belief. Pretty awesome, awe-inspiring.

The immediate post conversion records are extraordinary too. So the soundtrack goes like this: Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love, Infidels & Oh Mercy. Fabulous. Grooving on great work from Mark Knopler, Mick Taylor, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Tim Drummond, Fred Tackett, Clydie King, Daniel Lanois. The Muscle Shoals ensemble. The legendary producer Jerry Wexler.

Music from another time and place. Living in another time and place. I have fallen into some strange cocoon of existence. It's a fine life, a bit unreal, a bit dislocated, a bit disorienting, but enjoyable too. Grooving on my own thing.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Anything Less is a Waste of our Precious Time!

I suppose there is a slow-motion Civil War going down in my beloved country. I live in a blue bubble on the north shore of Lake Michigan, so I am pretty isolated. Most of the folks in this community are progressive, welcoming, open-minded. It's a mixed community, a bit of a melting pot. There is a major, Midwest university nearby, this town is educated, diverse, affluent, There are some subsidized housing complexes for lower income folks. We are only a few blocks from a high-crime neighborhood with gangs, drugs, shootings, but overall the streets I walk seem safe. There are epic mansions on some of these blocks.

This place seems like the perfect American town. We are close to the big city of Chicago, so we have all the cultural advantages of the great urban megalopolis. Still, bad things happen often even around  here. Robberies, gangs, shootings, drug busts, overdoses, divorce, madness. All the human stuff.

This is no utopia. Just a community of folks. Humans who live together. Relatively peaceful. Trying to live and let live. We look across the land and see so much hate. An young, angry, white man problem. White Nationlaism. White Supremacy. Encouraged by the blubbering racist fat man in the white house.

It seems like lunacy here. Race is a lie. White Supremacy is a pernicious idiocy. We are all just human beings. Branches from the same source. I mean, I suppose I would be classified as a white guy, I am a "mongrel," a mix of genetic material from many parts of Europe. My "people" landed on these shores a few genrations ago from Poland, Ireland, Germany, etc. I don't think that makes me special, chosen, or superior to anyone. I am not threatened or afraid of "people of color." I don't understand that kind of thinking. It seems preposterous, ridiculous. So contrary to everything we know and hold dear. Look to your own soul pilgrim. Be humble. Lean to the light. Try to live with love and compassion. Anything less is just a waste of our precious time.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

We Don't Have to Accept the Lies about Guns.

They Lie...

Humans. They lie about little things. They lie about big things.

Another massacre of innocents. Another mass shooting. Some humans tell us things are hopeless, that we are all helpless in the face of the carnage. That there's just nothing that can be done. It's all just the new normal.

Lies, all.

Also, of course, the gun-apologists now tell us let's blame mental illness, let's blame video games.

More lies. Terrible, damnable lies.

The worst arguments. Terrible logic. Does not stand up to simplest scrutiny. Look around the world. We are the only advanced nation on the planet with such ridiculously lax gun laws. You can't outlaw mental illness. You can't fix the human soul, but you can make it really, really hard for folks to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. Anyone telling you that it's not possible is lying.

America loves their guns. But they can give them up. Yes. Not impossible.

We can rewrite the 2nd amendment.
We can ban guns.
We can buyback guns.
We can confiscate guns.
We can make it impossible to buy guns and ammo.

No. Not easy. We need a new consciousness about guns. We can't eliminate evil, or bad people, or terrible tragedies from happening, but we can do our best to eliminate the arsenal available to the civilian population.

Yes, we can. We just need folks to stand up and be counted. We don't have to accept the lies of hopelessness & helplessness. We can work toward a more perfect union. Yes.

Monday, August 05, 2019

White Nationalism is a Death-Trip!

Humans. We have so many fears. We are easily worried, we are paranoid, we scare easily. We are suspicious of folks who don't look, don't dress, don't act like us. We often turn to the Big Daddies, we think they will be the tough ones who will protect us. It all just delusion.

Every day is an adventure. There is no protection. You just have to live and hope for the best. Lately it's the White People who are the scariest amongst us. The hate-filled, raging, White Nationalists telling us to be worried about those "other people."

White Nationalism is just another idiocy of our time. Race is an illusion. We are all descended from the same source. We actually really are brothers and sisters, cousins, distant relations. We are not so different from each other, except for cosmetics. The Blowhard Big Daddy is just fanning the flames of hate, ignorance and fear. It's a virus, a sickness. Folks are easily susceptible.

America. It's a beautiful idea, a melting pot of humanity of all kinds coming to these shores to live and prosper. Of course, America is also a hard place, founded on genocide and slavery. Today we are a wealthy, armed camp. Hatred and division conspires against love and community.

We are due for a reckoning. The house is on fire. Snipers are on the periphery. The Big Daddy is spouting hatred and bigotry, the rest of us have figure how to take back our streets, how to shout down the hate, how to find a sensible, responsible way forward. We have some hard tasks ahead. How to eliminate the arsenal of weapons, how to get folks to talk, to think, to listen, to put down the weapons.

Those who refuse to do the good work must be shunned, moved to the side. We should not listen to the hate, or to the ones who tell us that nothing can be done. They are the Zombies of our Democratic Dream. No sense in fearing them. Let us ignore them, dismiss them, acknowledge that they are the wayward ones who need help.

White Nationalism is a dead-end. A death-trip. A trip off the cliff.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

America's Tear-filled Eyes...

We live in America. Which means we love guns. We want to own lots of guns. We want to own every gun ever invented. We want handguns, semi-automatic guns, rifles, shotguns, tommy guns, machine guns, military-styled weapons, etc. We want stockpiles of guns and ammo. We want enough guns and ammo to supply a small regiment. We like to point to the ambiguous words of the 2nd amendment and claim that owning our own arsenal of weapons is blessed by sacred words.

Of course, this is total madness. Insane for a civil society. A fatal flaw in our thinking, in our laws, in our beings. We are the only major, civilized (I use that word  civilized  sort of cringing inside) country with such ridiculous, unnecessary, totally lax gun laws on the books. One party in particular has been totally cowardly and spineless on the issue. Did anyone say GOP? We can't outlaw hate, we can't outlaw flawed human beings, we can't reconstruct the human brain from the ground up. We can't design a clockwork orange. But we can do our best to make sure that such serious weaponry, built to kill lots of human beings, in a blink of an eye, are not available to humans willing to unleash hate and mayhem upon their fellow citizens. It should not be possible to go to your local Walmart, buy a weapon and then murder your fellow customers in the parking lot.

We hear these words over and over every time one of these horrible events occurs: hate, massacre, mayhem, bloodshed, tragedy, random, senseless, horrible, unconscionable, un-explainable. We throw our hands up and ask what can be done? We send thoughts and prayers. Not enough. Not fucking enough. Gun-control. Gun bans. Gun-buy back programs. Who will stand up and be a hero for sensible gun-control and the strict banning guns? We need you, now. America turns it's tear-filled eyes to you.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Cold, Hard Facts

Cold, hard facts. Hard to argue with them. You can look away. You can wish and dream. You can try to bury them, but there are some cold, hard facts that just won't be denied.

What to do? There must a reckoning. A taking into account. A reconciliation of a new reality, a new day, a new way of seeing the world. This happens all the time. It's happening every moment of every day. New realities, new facts, new data points.

We need to open our heads and hearts. We need to be pliable, permeable, flexible, changeable. We must go with the flow. Try our best to evade the stones in our paths, the thorns in the branches of the roses. Work around the pricks and kicks.

Still, there are some things you just can't avoid. Denial only gets you so far...

Friday, August 02, 2019

That's Enough!

The days are long. Lots of blue sky. Warm temps, beautiful, sparkling blue lake. We found a zone of space. Quiet. Contemplative. Soulful. We know the planet is on fire, but here everything seems fine. The thought descends upon us: "Everything is gonna be alright."

Can that be true? Well, of course not. There is no "everything," there is no "alright." We are always rolling and tumbling. Everything is always morphing, changing becoming something else. It's okay, ride the wave, see what happens next. That's enough.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Nothing Certain...

This morning...

Contemplating my "certainty of nothing..." 

Made me think of Anthony Bourdain, and his tattoo: "In the Senegal episode, towards the end, Bourdain said that he had a tatoo that read paraphrase of a Greek/Latin phrase I’ve always liked, scio me nihil scire: I know that I know nothing. He said, I am certain of nothing."

Seems to me a very humble and wise way to approach life and all the things in it. We are so filled with vanity, puffery. We are so vain. We even call ourselves "Homo Sapien"  - "wise man!" Isn't that rich?! We think so well of ourselves and our abilities, we dub ourselves as the wise ones.

Funny. Ridiculous. Dis-proven, daily. For reference please check out (at least), the last 350,000 years... 

Our knowledge is at best arbitrary, partial, often off the mark, subject to revision, subject to a rethink, etc.

Let us turn to the poet, John Keats. Sometimes I think poetry is our only way to some kind of truth, some kind of understanding. It's a language of mystery. A language beyond understanding.

This will work as a motto for the day: "I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections, and the truth of imagination." - John Keats

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

More Trees Please!

Good news. Lately that seems rare. The trends have not been good. I'm thinking especially on the national, and the global stage. Personally, things are okay. I spend lots of time in my own head. Just my imagination...

Anyway, yesterday, in one dayEthiopia planted 350 million trees.

"About 350m trees have been planted in a single day in Ethiopia, according to a government minister.

The planting is part of a national “green legacy” initiative to grow 4bn trees in the country this summer by encouraging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings. Public offices have reportedly been shut down in order for civil servants to take part.

The project aims to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier."


Thank you Ethiopia. More of this Humans! PLEASE!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Feelings... Maybe Both!

I just want to riff this morning...

Feelings. Are they everything? Not what we do but what we feel about what we do? It doesn't sound right to me.

What we do is important. Alternatively, if we are not aligned with what we do, we are in crisis. Unaligned with our own actions.

I feel better about saying that we should aim to align heart, head & spirit. When they are aligned, I think what we do can be phenomenal, we can move mountains, achieve amazing things.

But I'm torn, not sure. Yes, feelings are sometimes arbitrary, ephemeral, changeable, they easily evaporate and reconstitute. Still, my feelings are damn important to me, maybe they are everything to me,even if they are fleeting, even if I can't really hang onto any of them.

Sometimes I think feelings are like germs. They are invisible, powerful and they can make you giddy or sick. So what do I feel about the primacy of my feelings? I'm ambivalent, confused, unsure. Feelings = everything or nothing? Maybe both?!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Not in $!

It pays...
not in $ mind you...

to live
to say yes
to have an open heart
to have a sharp wit
to be strong-minded
to be disciplined
to take your time
to walk
to drink coffee
to smell the roses
to laugh at funny things
to cry often
to change your mind
to try new things
to walk backwards
to listen to music every day
to play your guitar
to sit in a room with other musicians and ride the vibe

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Better to Live with Rats than to BE ONE!

Not sure if anyone could do better than this Baltimore Sun editorial. Our current President is a total disgrace, a racist, a very stupid and corrupt man. Love how the Sun chooses just the right words... epic...

Better to live with rats than to BE ONE...

- Baltimore Sun Editorial Board

Saturday, July 27, 2019

We are the TV Zombies...

Yes. Reading & writing has kept me sane. I don't watch cable news. It immediately gives me a freaking headache. Every damn story is hyped beyond belief. One long, ranting, hyperbolic show.

I don't watch network television either, I cannot stand laugh-tracks, or commercials, except, of course, I do watch the NFL, usually with the sound off. I provide my own soundtrack, either music or my own guitar strumming. Turns out having the NFL (all that concentrated mayhem), streaming across my eyeballs is good for coming up with new riffs.

It seems our whole culture is now just another branch of the Entertainment/Celebrity Conglomerate. TV is the worst. It reduces everything to the SHOW. So yes, tragedy, political conflagrations, the daily grind of life, is all just grist for the mill.

How does it play?

So, in my own way, I am living in another time and place. I read. I contemplate. I spend lots of time in the analog world. I listen to CDs on the stereo, sometimes vinyl too.  I still own a flip-phone. My main source of information is the radio or the newspaper. We do love to stream Netflix, or Amazon Prime. We are hooked on the long-form narrative thing.  That is probably our most "of the moment" exception.

But I always have a book handy. I am always poring over text. I am always living in my head, in my imagination. I think it's important. I think it has kept me sane, or insane in my own comfortable way.

Marshall McLuhan was right: "The medium is the message.... the medium (the channel through which a message is transmitted) is more important than the meaning or content of the message."

TV (video screens of all kinds) has rotted us, hollowed us out. Images wash over our eyeballs. We have become the TV zombies. We really have. If we stop watching, to listen, to read, we are deprogramming ourselves. That's a good thing. An essential thing.

Friday, July 26, 2019

We Like to Watch...

Yes... it's true... I usually refer to George Orwell and "1984," as the template for our modern dystopia, but it's actually Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," that we more closely resemble, especially here in good, old, USA. Don't get me wrong, we really are the children of Winston Smith, but Huxley's notion that we will "voluntarily sacrifice our rights," we will willingly give up our data, we will gladly submit to the surveilance state just for the ability to shop more efficiently is right on the mark.

Also Huxley is spot on with the idea that "people will medicate themselves into bliss." So many of us rely on the pharmaceuticals to get us to a bliss state. It's seems like a certain madness. How many folks do you know who have that glassy-eyed look? They are legion. There are the mood enhancers, the pain-killers, how many drugs do we have to load up on to face the reality of the day? There is a whole contingent of Pharma-Stepford-Folks!

How do we take Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow our bliss," when it's a manufactured state of our daily chemical cocktail? Purple Haze, baby. Can we face the day stone-cold sober? Can we find bliss then? Might be a bit more hard-earned, but probably more worthwhile. Just a thought.

We don't freaking read anymore. We just like to watch. Let the images fly over our eyeballs.  You know there's that famous Neil Postman book: "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Roger Waters made a record inspired by that book too.

"Postman asserts the presentation of television news is a form of entertainment programming; arguing that the inclusion of theme music, the interruption of commercials, and "talking hairdos" bear witness that televised news cannot readily be taken seriously. Postman further examines the differences between written speech, which he argues reached its prime in the early to mid-nineteenth century, and the forms of televisual communication, which rely mostly on visual images to "sell" lifestyles. He argues that, owing to this change in public discourse, politics has ceased to be about a candidate's ideas and solutions, but whether he comes across favorably on television."

Yes. Well. Not a new idea. We are living in a Reality TV World. What is on the screen is reflected in what's happening in our neighborhoods. So yeah, no one "reads the fucking report," everyone just watches the TV show... and it's all about how did the show go.

You actually end up with a Reality TV Buffoon running the fucking Government... what the fuck! Wake up, folks! This is not a show. It is your freaking life! 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

It Pays to Keep Your Mice Straight.

My friend thought it was the "other mouse."

You know, not the DJ with the mouse head (Deadmau5), no, she thought Karen O. from the Yeah, Yeah,Yeahs (not the punk rocker Wendy O. from the Plasmatics) made an album with Modest Mouse that feisty outfit from Portland, which definitely perked my ears up. I mean, we LOVE Modest Mouse. Some of their records come across as overflowing, over-stuffed, masterpieces. I'm thinking especially: "The Lonesome Crowded West," "The Moon & Antartica," and "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank."

Karen O. and Modest Mouse. That would be interesting...

No. This collaboration is between Karen O. and Danger Mouse. They have recorded a cool new album called "Lux Prima." Quite nice. A bit dreamy. Lush. It's playing on the box right now. Definitely a keeper. Danger Mouse is Brian Burton, a guy who has made cool albums with lots of folks: Beck, Gorillaz, Black Keys, Norah Jones.

Anyway, it pays to keep your mice straight. Your O. s too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Traces...

Castles Made of Sand...

"and so castles made of sand,
fall in the sea
eventually..."

Jimi Hendrix floating in the air this morning.  When I think of Jimi, I think of the impermanence of our existence. A beautiful, brilliant, fabulous, unusual shooting star, flaming out before our eyes.

He left some amazing grooves, shimmering, lightening-like vibrations. Those vibrations have a life, long after Jimi is just a flash in the eye.

This morning, those castles are just beach. If you pay attention you can feel the sand shifting beneath our feet. Everything is alive. Moving. Changing. Morphing. Disintegrating. Even the center of the earth, the solid planet we walk around on has a bubbling, molten core.

What is solid? What endures? Traces...

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Morning of Dislocation.

I just don't really know...

That's about right. I have no clue what's going on. It's been that way pretty much since the beginning. Probably will be that way til the end.

I have had a few flashes of insight, just little flashes in the pan. Those flashes have no staying power. They look illusory with a bit of distance. I've often singed myself by getting too close to the flame. Just when I think I have a handle on things, I lose my grip, or fly off the handle.

Watch the harpoons. They usually come from close range. Unexpected. Strike deep. And you probably won't know why.  Van the Man tells us: "there ain't no why, it just is.."

It pays to be humble. To figure you know nothing. Back to Zero... 0... maybe that really is the secret touchstone, the Holy Grail. It's hard to grip. You can't grip it. You can't hold onto anything.

That's a bit of hard-won wisdom there. This morning, feeling pretty sketchy. Listening to Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs." An odd duck of a record. Sounds like a movie-soundtrack from an unmade movie from long-ago. Out of time. Out of range.

Perfect for this morning of dislocation.

Monday, July 22, 2019

That's the Assignment, Grasshopper!

They like to depict the Wise Man on the mountaintop. Sitting in the lotus position. Contemplating his navel, or eyes closed, communing with nature. Alone. Above the fray. Dislocated from the Hurly-Burly, away from the daily tumult of living with people, on "retreat" from the human world.

You know, Jean Paul Satre - "Hell is other people."

Can you be wise, can you find transcendence, can you find peace in the middle of the maelstrom? Can you be the calm center in the eye of the hurricane? How about on the train? How about in a crowd? How about on the streets, riding the bus, at the local sports bar?

Can you be in conversation at the local coffeshop, in the midst of the daily litany of woe, and find your calm center, let the words, the emotions, the anger, the misery, the incomprehension just roll off your back?

Can you play the Sage in the midst of the madness? Since this little blue planet continues to get more and more crowded, filled with the teeming masses, needing, wanting, grasping... can you tune it all out and ride the waves of ecstasy?

That's the assignment, Grasshopper!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Greater Minds than Mine...

I know greater minds than mine have grappled with these questions (see previous two posts). I feel like I'm a blindman stumbling in a dark closet. I have a few brain cells to burn, but I am sure that at best I'm really, really good at misunderstanding the most important, subtle things. Welcome to my reality.

This morning I'm stuck on ZERO. The number ZERO: the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸ denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity.

That's not a bad conception of what we are talking about, when we speak of "God." Void, or absence of all magnitude or quantity. A mystery.

When Hawking tells us that all matter and energy in the Universe is matched with anti-matter and negative energy and it all ZEROES OUT, I take it as an affirmation. Not a scientific nihilism, but mysterious validation of everything in the Universe.

Zero is also a circle: 0... an infinite circle... what is Zero in the Tarot Deck? The Fool...

"We begin with the Zero. This is the un-manifest where everything exists in potential. The Zero neither contains nor is contained by any number. It exists outside of any cycle. When the Zero is added to any number it symbolises a perfection of that number’s meaning, a completion if you like. Although 1 is the root of 10, 10 is not strictly synonymous with 1. This is because the addition of the Zero signifies a perfecting of the 1 influence, in effect moving out of the cycle of 1 through 9 and into a higher order—10 through 19. When Zero is added to a number it tends to bring a universal responsibility to its root number. It is out of this formless perfection that some-thing appears."

Yes. Zero is a heavy thing. My little brain is grappling... but it's a happy grappling...

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