WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Thursday, June 30, 2005

How Many Gods Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

I scored a copy of Nick Tosches latest book, "King of the Jews," about Arnold Rothstein, who supposedly "fixed" the world series, and emerged in the 1920's as a gambler and fixer extraordinaire. Nick is a great writer, and he's on a roll: previous books have included his take on Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin and Sonny Liston. This time, Nick is really pissed off, and it comes across in spades. Early in the book, he has decided to show how Monotheism ("there is one god, my god, and no one else's god is worth shit!") is an abomination that has led to the plague of Islam, and the plague of Christianity, and how stupidity, ignorance, and lies, have led to the clash of civilizations (Muslim, Christian, Jew) rocking our planet.

So far, there are many great lines in the book. Here are few I really enjoyed:

"All of Judeo-Christian theology can be set beneath kindling wood, save for these few words (from St. Augustine) - If you can comprehend it, it is not god."

"And that is the great lesson of Christianity. THEY LOVE YOU WHEN YOU'RE DEAD!"

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"Road Cases." - Drive By Truckers

I lugged my guitar down to Peter Jones last night, to plug into my Fender Bassman amp, and test out my new pickup. It was hot, I was loaded down with my guitar case and my effects-board in a backpack slung over my shoulder. The El was crowded, I found a seat and clasped my guitar between my legs. I'm always impressed by the anonymous nature of riding on the El. City people from all walks of life converge in a little train car, they sit silently, seemingly seeing nothing (we see it all!), no eye contact, no interaction, just people sitting, listening to the roar of the train.

I de-trained at the Irving stop, and as I was walking down the platform, I saw an image of myself as a thirteen year old boy, lugging a guitar down a suburban street. I thought about the continuity of a life. In many ways, I am so different than that little, unsure, kid, but at the same time, aren't these the same blue eyes, haven't they seen everything, recorded it all, filed it away in the recesses of my brain? How do we choose to remember what we remember? How do we choose to forget what we forget? I manuevered through the turnstile and it clicked, registering another traveler on the road.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Trucker's Dream

Last night, I found myself in a most improbable situation. I sat on the oriental carpet in the living room with a toolbox, a soldering iron, a new set of Fender Custom Shop Pickups, wiring diagrams, and my Fender Telecaster Guitar (totally deconstructed). I was doing major surgery to replace and rewire my bridge pickup (it had died on me at the last Telepath gig). Now, dear Pilgrim, this is not in my usual comfort zone. I look at a wiring diagram, (did anyone say, "Rorshach Test?"), and I see TROUBLE; a visit to my local guitar shop had not been encouraging, the guy behind the counter hearing of my plans had said, "You're gonna wire it YOURSELF?!" What he meant but didn't say, "Dude, you look like you have trouble tying your shoes!"

Anyway, there I was, connecting the black wire here, the yellow wire there, and how come the black wire used to be a blue wire? In the middle of this process, (by the way, I had two wiring diagrams, neither of which quite matched up -- sometimes the map is not the territory), the Lovely Carla comes in from a long day on the road. So, it turns out, I've got the soldering iron all hot (700 degrees!) and ready to go, and who has the most experience soldering wire? Yes, it's the Lovely Carla (during her high school years she worked in a factory soldering computer boards), so she sits down and does the final operation, a little dot of hot solder in each connector. (Question: does Patty Hansen help Keith Richard rewire his Telecaster?!)

So, I put the guitar back together, tighten the screws, re-string etc. All the time I'm thinking "this isn't gonna work." Well, surprise, surprise, it works beautifully. The new pickup is a monster, the classic Tele sound: biting, sharp as a whip, with some real resonance. Exquisite. I was quite pleased with myself, and pleased with my assistant too. I was reminded of The Band's song, "Cripple Creek."

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me.
If I spring a leak, she mends me.
I don't have to speak, she defends me.
A trucker's dream if I ever did see one.

Monday, June 27, 2005

"We Were the Young Americans." - D. Bowie

I stood on the sidelines, the observer. Yesterday was the annual Gay Pride Parade - first down Halsted, then down Broadway, and I was there to witness (and photograph) the Lovely Carla and the Lovely Robin carrying the banner for the Hooper Freaks (lovely hula hoopers) one of about 250 unique groups participating in this big, sloppy, over-stuffed extravaganza, dedicated to an unbridled celebration of being "happy and gay." And anyway, who isn't? Happy and Gay I mean? Yesterday I felt like a Tom Joad in (metaphorical) red hot-pants, and pink go-go boots. "If you're kinky and cool - I am there. If you're shapely and demure - I am there. If you're scuzzy, sleazy, sweating and doing the rumba - I am there." ETC. What a great explosion of human splendor! I thought to myself, this must be the Conservative Evangelical's worst nightmare - and it was really absolutely, life-affirming, and beautiful, and rollicking, and strange and yes...fabulous!

Edgar Allen Poe used to smoke opium and he wrote a little book called "Eureka," and in it, he posited that we are all little pieces of god. That it is the sum of humanity, the sum of the material and the immaterial that makes up some abstract, god-like, energy. Yesterday, I saw some little pieces of god - dressed in drag, on fat motorcycles, in leather and chains, in bikinis, in speedos, in ball gowns, in skivvies - bounteous, beautiful, ridiculous, outrageous. So, anyway, I'm thinking my abstract, god-like, universal energy was kind of giddy yesterday, giddy and loud and proud and pretty in a pink tutu too!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"Sometimes a Great Notion." - K. Kesey

I have always been fascinated by Boxing. It is a brutal sport, not so kind to the participants, that seems to be a microcosm of those willing to risk it all for a little measure of glory. In my book, (if I had a book) there are two great Boxing Movies: "Raging Bull," and "The Champion." Both are downers where the main protagonist is a guy who burns all bridges on the way to the top, and once he gets there, he finds it very lonely indeed. I also have to throw in a great documentary: "When We Were Kings," a powerful film about the Ali vs. Foreman fight in Zaire in the 1980's. It's a thrilling movie that shows the impact Muhammad Ali had on millions of people around the world.

My favorite books on the subject? David Remnick's "King of the World," about Ali. "The Devil and Sonny Liston," (about the the mystery and enigma of a man) by one of the greatest writers alive today, Nick Tosches. And also, "Redemption Song," by Mike Marqusee, about Ali's politics and religion. (It has great insights on Malcolm X's influence on The Champ.)

Boxing is on my mind this morning because I came across this quote in the latest New Yorker (in an article by Remnick) about Mike Tyson's latest (maybe last) humiliation. Tyson actually echoes a famous Shakespearean soliloquy (is it in Hamlet?) and I thought, wisdom comes from many quarters. The quote: "I'm a peasant. At one point, I thought life was about aquiring things. Life is totally about losing everything." This also resonates with that Buddhist notion of non-attachment to the things of this world. Or as the Belfast Cowboy, Van (the Man) Morrison reminds us: "Sometimes we live, sometimes we die, sometimes we cry, sometimes we fly."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

"Ring them Bells." - B. Dylan

Push yourself past the point of exhaustion (this was not by design) and you begin to see things in a different light. I found myself flying along suburban roads on a hot summer night and the colors and sounds and textures of things seemed to have an extra shimmeriness. I noticed patterns made by streetlights, telephone wires and electrical structures, pasted on the blue and darkening sky, the vibrant green of the trees, (trees, these big, bold living things that loom over us) and I thought, these patterns, these random intersections of lines and colors are very much an "art experience." I was reminded of Robert Irwin's formulation that art is what happens inside the observer. If the observer can really "look and see," without labels, without naming, he can begin to perceive a completely new aesthetic universe. The label, the name, can blind us to the reality of our own perceptions. The common, mundane, street-scene, one that no one even notices, offers us color, sound, shadow, line; the observer's eye can select and discover themes, patterns, and yes, even beauty.

Like I said, I was really exhausted. I was playing The Who, really loud, (The Who is one of my "road pleasures," since the Lovely Carla and the little birdies back at the Hacienda, don't appreciate Keith Moon's monster bass drum, or Pete Townsend's majestic major chords). Roger Daltrey was singing, "I once heard a note, pure and easy," part of Townsend's idealisitc version of rock and roll as some kind of new salvation. Pete's Vision: we all contain one pure note, we are all notes in a musical score, each of us resonates at a unique vibration. Our mission is to find that place of purity, to open up to that "pure and easy note" and ring out!

Friday, June 24, 2005

"A Day in the Life" - The Beatles

I'm back in Chicago, but I'm still in a California state of mind. Yesterday was a travel day, which meant I was locked into the routine of cars, highways, airports, planes. At the same time, I was in a sort of fever dream, (too much coffee, too little sleep, too much action) where everything seemed unreal, I was strangely disassociated from the phenomena around me. I perceived the things of the world, and I also watched myself perceiving. I hopped into a Mercedes Benz, big, black, sleek German styling (wasn't this the car where Lady Di breathed her last?) and flew through the neighborhoods of San Francisco to the airport. Music played on the radio, it was like being in a movie, someone else's movie. Shops, cafes, we passed some of the "down and out" parts of town, working class people doing their day to day tasks. The fog rolled in from the ocean, the wisps of cloud, like ghosts rushing in over the hills, while we rushed out of town.

On the flight back across the great expanse (only a Kerouac, or a Whitman or a Melville could even attempt to capture it) of America, (what a view at 32,000 feet - there's Lake Tahoe, there's the Missisippi River, there's the Rockies, there's the flat farm lands of Iowa) I sat in my seat with eyes wide open. My seatmate and I talked about how we "woke up," sometime in our thirties, our earlier existences (our teens and twenties) being an extended time of unconscious unknowing. I meditated, but even the meditation seemed to be the act of someone other than "me." My body went through the motions, de-planing, waiting in the taxi line, zipping along in a cab through the suburbs of Chicago to Evanston.

I opened the door to my humble sanctuary, and hugged the Lovely Carla. Happy to be home, still seeing everything as strange, other-worldly, not exactly mine, not exactly me. Alive in the changing stream. Changing even as the thought of change descended on me as my head hit the pillow.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Frank, You are So Groovey!

I'm back at this Starbucks on Geary St. in San Francisco, right across from a theater showing "Les Miserables." A guy comes in and demands that they put "Frankie," on. Moments later Frank Sinatra's voice comes out of the sound system. This same guy seems to know everyone who works here, he tells the folks working behind the counter..."I'll put you all in my will...no money... but lots of loving, Italian loving!"

So, I'm here for a few more hours, then back on a plane to Chicago. Yesterday, was a long day, many times my eyes glazed over from the insistent numbing chatter about stuff, which, I frankly, have no passion. The real challenge of my job, is to appear that I am happy, engaged, sharp, attentive, when in fact, I'm somewhere else, thinking of other times, other places. How to keep the spiritual quest alive in the everydayness of the material world? This can be a strain, very tiring. By the way, right now Sinatra is singing..."I've got you under my skin..."

No time for City Lights. No time for running. No time. That has been the theme of this little trip. Everything has gone well, the deal has been furthered, we've solidified bonds, earned trust...we are actually helping San Francisco become more "energy efficient," which is a good thing. But I've been running, to keep up with myself, I'm dancing, trying to stayed balanced, keep it light, keep it real. Did Sinatra just say something about a "magic carpet ride?" PSYCHEDELIC!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"If You're Going to San Francisco" - J. Philips

I'm on the grand tour of American cities. Today I am in San Francisco. It is a beautiful city, I don't know if it's the light, the water, the the hills, the cable cars, the old world funkiness, the people, or everything all together, but it feels good here. It's a classy city on a hill. I'm staying at a grand old hotel, the Warwick, and it's comfortable, and somehow classic, old-world. This place seems a relic from a grander time, although, here everything seems to be thriving, there's a feeling of prosperity, but also of cultured funkiness that's cool and comfortable.

San Francisco for me represents the Beats: Ferlingetti, Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder. I'm looking forward to stopping into City Lights bookstore, it is the literary Mecca. This city also evokes the "summer of love," the Grateful Dead, Santana. Plus there's Coppola's Zoetrope. It's also the city of Gavin Newsom and his crusade for the Gay Americans. I'd say San Francisco represents some of the best of the American Experiment.

I'm blogging from a Starbucks this morning. Sipping a latte. Hoping that the business meeting I'm heading to won't absolutely bore me out of my skull. It looks to be a long day, I'm hoping to be able to break away and soak up some SF energy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Touchstones

I'm scheduled to fly out to San Francisco, later this afternoon. I'm planning on a long run on the lakefront this morning, and a good long meditation to set the tone for the day. These are my trusty tools to help me settle into my body. I think I've finally recovered from the benefit on Saturday, two ten-hour sleeping sessions have left me feeling refreshed.

I am re-reading a book that is one of my touchstone's (along with "Impro," by Keith Johnstone - "life is a status game!"): "Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees," by Lawrence Weschler. It is a profile of the artist Robert Irwin, who through his paintings and "sculptures," and "environments," explores fundamental questions about what, and how, we "see."

It also a book about "the search." Irwin is one of those inspiring characters, who reminds us that we can live with mystery and wonder and flow, and the best way to do this, is through the disciplined examination of our art and life; through the "good work," (which can be anything that lets us use our imaginative, creative selves) we can open up to fundamental, transformative realities. In Irwin's formulation the "art experience," is what the art object creates inside of us. What we do, what we see, transforms us, if we are intent, awake, if we let it in!

Monday, June 20, 2005

"God said to Abraham, 'kill me a son,' Abe said, 'man you must be putting me on'..." B. Dylan

There was that "one hit wonder," from the late seventies or early eighties, by, (I'm amazed I remember this woman's name), Melissa Manchester - "There's Got to Be the Morning After." I don't actually remember any of the verses (was she singing about a one-night stand?), just the chorus, but it was the line I kept hearing yesterday morning, in the wake of the Black Forest Benefit. I was back at the Peter Jones Studio with our skeleton crew, cleaning up, tossing beer bottles, emptying garbage cans. It was great to see the space, back to normal, (life-drawing was going on), artists were intently sketching, listening to classical music, as a nubile beauty was baring it all for art.

There's something to be said for consistency, persistance. It's how we actually accomplish things. There may be the burst of inspiration, but it always comes down to "carry through." The mission has been clearly defined, take our show on the road to an international audience. We have much work ahead of us, but that's the real kick, the reason to be doing this in the first place. The social aspect of this is really just a sideshow. It's important not to get distracted by the sound and the fury of the crowd. There's a contradiction inherent in theater. In many ways the writing, the acting, the directing is a very private affair. It's an inner journey. The "result," is then presented to a group, in a very public and open way, it's an exposure, a blood-letting, in some strange way, a sacrifice. It's important to stay detached, to not let the public aspect consume the performance, the performer.

"The Morning After," we are alone once again. Back to the source, back on the search...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Edinburgh Beckons...

All of my wounds have been self-inflicted... It would of been better if we could have just sacrificed a goat, although, not so great for the goat. I ended up burning up some brain cells for the cause last night. Our little benefit for Black Forest went off without a hitch. It seemed a good time was had by all. The cast and crew was phenomenal. It's amazing what a small group of dedicated people can do. And surprisingly, yes, we did have a nice, supportive crowd. We made a good sum of cash for our Edinburgh trip. Another step on this crooked path. I'm paying the price for "too much fun," this morning. My head is fuzzy, my body aches, there's an emptiness that haunts me, but hell, I didn't get to sleep until about 4:00 a.m. so, I guess it's to be expected. Now the work on the play really begins, we have less than a month to totally restage and refine the show for the Fringe Fest. There's no turning back...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"Geronimo!"

Finally it's all in the hands of the gods and goddesses...The old Greeks used to say that a man's character, was his fate... I guess, what we call "fate," is what happens, and how we deal with what happens. So, this is the summer of the "Great Cloud of Unknowing." Our little theater group is edging out into uncharted waters. First, tonight, we are having a "benefit," to help get us to Edinburgh, Scotland. It's got all the elements for a great night, but the big question mark, will anyone show up? Who knows? We roll the dice and see what happens!

Then there's the whole Edinburgh adventure itself. In August, we are bringing our unique brand of theater to an international audience. This is a leap into the void. It's a little strange, not knowing what looms in our path, but isn't that the "truth," on any given day? Anything can happen. My attitude is: "damn the torpedoes." There's a kick to getting out of our little comfort zone. The risk is disappointment, disillusion, what? Really, what is the risk? We have an experience, we discover something about the world and ourselves. Isn't that the game we are in from the get-go?

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees." - L. Weschler

Success, breeds success, I guess... Suddenly, the clouds blow over and everything is sunny. It turns out I've got a hot deal on the West Coast and a hot deal on the East Coast - simultaneously. My "positive mental attitude," (thank you Starbucks!) has carried me through the ups and downs (What have I learned? What goes up must go down, and vice versa!) So I'm riding a particular "vice versa" like a big, beautiful roaring wave. How long can I ride this wave? Is this the Big One? Hmmm, is it really beside the point to even ask the question? Probably so. There's always another wave, the waves have been hitting the shore for what, millions or billions of years? So I think I'll ride for awhile and see where this all goes...spending my time waxing my surf board, kind of like waxing philosophically... "The question is asked in ignorance, by one who does not even know what can have led him to ask it." - Soren Kierkegaard.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"When a Body Meets a Body." - J.D. Salinger

Yesterday I was stuck in the "everydayness," of a life, waiting for a plane, making the trek back to Chicago, looking for my carry-on bag in the airport (I found it), a long taxi ride in heavy traffic. It seemed like everything took more time than it should. I was trying to catch up to the day, I never quite did. It's good to be home, everything is familiar, comfortable; in a way, everything is renewed, just because I was away from it, and I'm here now. There is a flurry of activity ahead of me. Rehearsals, and set-up for our big benefit event on Saturday. Activity itself can be an end; the momentum, the forward motion giving one the illusion of purpose. The purpose is to keep going...to the next moment, and then the one after that, etc....

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

To Be Onto Something

The DOE show is over. These things are tests of stamina and endurance. I guess I passed. I packed up the booth last night. I fly out a little later this morning. I will be glad to be back home. I did a little more wandering in the streets of Nashville. Turns out, it's a really cool town. Music made this town. There are little clubs and bars with live music on almost any street. There are more monuments to guitars (also to Jack Daniels, he of the whiskey rye) than politicians - this, I think, is a good thing.

I found myself at the South Street Crab Shack last night just down from Chet Atkins Lane. I sat at the bar, watched the Spurs and Pistons on the TV, and ate a salad and a Tuna steak. I was so damn hungry, I ate like a man possessed. It was like I hadn't eaten in days (not true). I think I couldn't eaten the napkin and maybe even the bar, but I stopped at cleaning my plate.

Earlier in the day, I had read this little quote, and it reminded me of what this thrashing and rolling and tumbling is all about: "The search is what everyone would undertake if he were not stuck in the everdayness of his own life. To be aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair." Walker Percy, The Moviegoer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"Stuck Inside of Mobile, with the Memphis Blues Again." B. Dylan

Dante, when describing the circles of hell, conveniently forgot to mention the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennnessee. It is truly a monstrosity of enormous proportions, a sham world, a corporate dystopia, a perfect place for the shameless schmooze of industry and government. The Department of Energy, or as they affectionately refer to it here, DOE (think Bambi!) wants to do business with people in business who want to do business. I'm thinking this is the kind of business that's driving our beloved country into the embrace of the Smart Bomb, the SUV and the GULAG! Somehow the smiling faces, the fake friendliness, the blind acceptance of mediocrity and tastelessness seems to me to be a symptom of a greater, deeper soul sickness...

Anyway, I was able to explore the real city of Nashville and found out that it is a kind of cool and funky town. I really do love cities. I love the messiness, the funkiness, the diversity... Nashville is about music! Country, Blues, some Soul too. I found a cool little coffee bar where tatoos and long hair were prominent, and as soon as I walked in, I breathed a big sigh of relief. The girl (a sweet little slip of a thing) serving up my latte had a large black tatoo of a cat on her thin white arm. She was about the most beautiful sight I came across all day.

In the evening, (I skipped the DOE sponsored Hoedown), I wandered around in my rental car, chomping on a blueberry bagel, the Who blasting on the CD player, and kind of soaked in the streets of Nashville. It was a welcome and neccesary antidote. I found a cool little guitar shop and played some really fine guitars (a Custom Shop 1960 Les Paul Standard and a Paul Reed Smith) for about an hour. I fell in love with the Les Paul, it really is my destiny to own one...

This is the last day of the show. I'm stuck one more night, I have to pack up the booth and get it back to FedEx. Then maybe a little more wandering/meandering. Maybe there's another guitar shop worth checking out.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Nashville Nadir

This is a test...this is only a test... Well, (as per Woody Allen), if "god" wanted to test me, why couldn't it be mutiple choice? I have entered some nether zone...the last place on earth I want to be...at a Department of Energy (Bush's energy plan? An industry boondoggle, hey let's kill A-rabs to keep the oil flowing!) conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm staying at a smiley-faced, Facsist/Authoritarian (everything is so neat and orderly, everything has it's place, everyone is so happy, there is no life, spontenaity, disorder, diversity...HELP!) Paradise, an Air Conditioned Wonder, called OPRYLAND. It is an enormous, and enormously ridiculous place (a sanitized "Mall on Steroids,") with inane little shops, hideous decor, a slowly revolving restuarant, an incomprehensible floor plan - "I know my room is somewhere in the Cascades quadrant," --- the coffee is weak, the food is..."Please do not feed the ducks and fish, your food is INDIGESTIBLE TO THEM" - yes, I know what you mean, it's a false place...a place where falseness is the norm.

I just knew it was gonna be bad. I left Chicago Sunday morning, kissed the Lovely Carla on the forehead and headed out the door... her last words, before "goodbye" and "I love you," "Nashville...you'll be like a fish out of water..." oh yes, the words are so true...I'm flopping around down here, gasping for air, looking for my sweet and comfortable aquarium. This is what all those meditation classes were about, to give me the strength to put up with this shit! I know someone (from appearances a lot of someone's) must like this place, but "It ain't me babe!" There must be something cool down here, (I think to myself - both Dylan (Blonde on Blonde) and Neil Young (Harvest) recorded great albums down here) but the cool cats, the funky little studios, the great session musicians, they must be off the beaten track, hiding out in some dark smokey bar, or jamming in some basement hideout. So, I'm here til Wednesday morning...hmmm. There must be something I can find that will make me smile...well, we'll just have to wait and see on that pardner....

Sunday, June 12, 2005

What You See is What You Get

Yesterday was a long rehearsal day, both for the play, and the band. All went well. We've had a few bumps in the road, (it's to be expected), but every session has been productive and instructive. What's amazing is this idea/process of looking intently at something (for instance a scene from the play) and seeing new connections and meanings with every run-through. Every move, every gesture can/will/does carry motive, intention; there is the actual and symbolic, they are intertwined, they can be perceived or not; by perceiving, everything is transformed, everything can/is invested with meaning. The observer, and the observed are in a collaboration - to make meaning of simple words and gestures...OR NOT. This does not need to be overly-intellectualized, in fact, it's not about the intellect at all; a man or woman onstage, reciting words, moving, gesturing, they carry enormous loads of information in their bodies, their voices, their words...the more you look, the more you see. We can be senstive and open to this reality, or we can choose "not to see" anything. I think it's actually a spiritual/energy kind of thing. I think this is how our lives work. We can see the world with open eyes, and by being open, by being willing to invest the world with meaning, the world responds to us with meaning. We can trust our vision, make connections, discover a world of wonder and mystery and beauty. Or not. We can use our heads and spirit and vision, OR NOT. It isn't up to the world, the play, or the thing we are experiencing, or "seeing," IT IS UP TO US.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A Meal, More than A Meal

What do you get when you mix organic Rain Forest Blend, with organic Wild Blend? An excellent pot of coffee (Organic Wild Rainforest Blend!). Finally got a good night's rest. The Lovely Carla and I finished up Friday evening with a wonderful meal at Rick's Cafe on Sheridan. It's run by a French (I think he's French Morrocan) couple, the sweetest, kindest folks you could ever meet (they are down to earth and regal at the same time), he's a marvelous chef (I had the salmon and wild mushroom soup, the Lovely C. had a salad and the spinach and artichoke ravioli) and she's a dark-haired, mysterious, French beauty. There's something about the place, the food and service (it's a two person show) are great, but it's also the ambiance, the energy of the place; simple, almost mediterranien (think Morrocco) decor, the pictures of Bogey and "the black bird," (the dingus) on the walls. You expect to see Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet sharing a table in a corner. It's one of the few places where after the meal, after we've paid the bill, and we're walking out of the place, the Lovely C. and I each give our hostess a warm embrace (strange soul mates from totally different worlds making some kind of deep and life-affirming connection). Somehow it's acknowledged that we are a "unique couple," special people ("you're not from around here, are you?") or (as our hostess simply expressed it: "some people don't use their heads,") and so are they. It's about the light, the flame, you can see it in the eyes. Is the flame turned up, does it burn brightly. Can you see beyond your senses five? "Energy is eternal Delight!" Wm. Blake and yes, of course, it's about "the stuff that dreams are made of." S. Spade.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Breaking Open the Head

Changing your mind. That's part of being on the Enlightenment Train (don't need no ticket, you just get on board). It's built into the scientific method, test your hypothesis, see what happens. So changing your mind, about events, people, is a fundatmental principle. There's shifting perceptions, shifting loyalties. What do we have to hold on to, what do we cling to, what do we resolve not change our minds about?

Everytime we "make up our mind," we close a door. Living in a world of closed doors may allow us to feel more secure, but doesn't it also isolate us, cut us off from new experiences, new ideas, new perspectives, other people, etc? Open door, open mind.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"I Dig Love. I Love Dig." G. Harrison

I'm trying to do everything I have to do, and do it well. I'm living in "accelerating" time, or at least, that's how it feels, I'm rushing through the paces, from one appointed round to another. There's a certain kick in just trying to keep up with myself, just the forward motion seems to give me a mission, a purpose. I'm happy just to be standing.

We have built a world of stuff. Buildings, streets, cars, cell phones, trains, planes, computers; all our dazzling gadgets, all our pretty toys. We fill up our lives with material and we hypnotize ourselves to believe that this is a material world. We think our "stuff" will save us. We run our lives like a business - there's debits and credits, balance sheets, the law of diminishing returns!

But there's no denying that we are mystical creatures, we are strange beings, made up of contradiction, our very existence is essentially unexplainable, baffling; the end of existence is impossible, enigmatic. We don't know where we came from, we don't know where we are going. We are the light between two darknesses. There is no gloom in the mystery. Our hope, joy, purpose, and meaning transcends the material. We are spiritual beings, on a spirtual journey. This opens the door to the FunHouse. Let's party! Let's rock on! Long Live Rock!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Flip-Side of a Dream

Hell, I guess everything is an experience, even being in hell is an experience; once there, can you find something to divert you? This was my mission yesterday at McCormick Place, I participated in one of those little sham worlds we have constructed, a (horror of horrors) Trade Show. This one called Sensor Expo (oh yes, I'll be there again today). We live in a world of our senses five, we have built these machines and technologies that "sense" and record "phenomena," and turn it into digital information. It's a strange world indeed. Just what we need: more information!

So, it's a test, of stamina, of character, of...damn, what kind of test is this thing? I kept my head, my cool, I looked for the humour, and in fact, it was everywhere, the whole thing was kind of funny. After the show, I found myself walking the lakefront (there's Adler Planetarium, there's Shedd Aquarium) with a woman who could NOT STOP TALKING. She was the "booth babe," hired to lure poor saps into our booth (everyone has a booth). She was a nice woman with the right configuration (long-legged blond) who makes her living (I guess it pays pretty good) going from show to show, serving as the "eye candy." What a strange existence!

So, just another experience, something else I've been through, something I survived. What did I learn from this little test? Trade shows are the land of the living dead, yes, but I can make it through, this too shall pass...hell is a place, a time, it's a mirage, a bad dream, it won't last, it doesn't really exist.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses." - C. Bukowski

The last two days, (Sunday and Monday) have seemed like a week already. I'm back home, but I'm off to some kind of business show today...this is like going to the Land of the Living Dead! The Big Apple is tempting me with the Big Deal, (this could be the ONE!). I'm burning the candle at both ends, I am the candle. So finally, when it all burns out what am I left with? Flame and only flame? Or ashes, only ashes? I'll look on the positive side and say...flame! "Shine on you crazy diamond." - P. Floyd.

Monday, June 06, 2005

"The Bridge...we'll build it...it may take a lot of time." N. Young

Another Brooklyn morning. I have lived this movie. Arrived in NY yesterday afternoon. 90 degrees, sunny. The Hindu Goddess and I spent most of the afternoon walking the Brooklyn bridge, from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back. I am enamoured with this bridge. It is a phenomenon, a reality, a potent symbol, an enigma, an impossibility; it holds a lot of meaning for me, it reminds me of how I think and feel about the lakefront at home.

The walkway starts at street level, you are a pedestrian surrounded by cars, then slowly you rise up, the pavement turns to wood, there's a steady incline pointing you to the sky. By the time you reach the middle of the bridge, you are in another realm, up with the birds and gods, yesterday it was all sunshine and blue sky, you look down and see streams of cars coming and going (it's Sunday and it seems everyone is out and about in the world). People of every shape and size, every nationality, on bikes, rollerblades, walkers, runners, lovers, families, babies in strollers...of course the energy...poised between two immensities...Brooklyn, Manhattan.

The Hindu Goddess and I talk, about everything under the sun. At one point she says, "You must have the will to do, what pleases you to do." It hits me full on. A simple formulation, saying so much, so little, it depends on how and if you can let it in - a motto to live by, a credo, a goal, a means and an end...

A bridge is a hopeful expression, joining people together, it declares, "let us share this place." The suspension, is a suspension of disbelief, an assertion of possiblity, of, dare I say it, fraternity, brotherhood. Thomas Merton, tells us, "no man is an island," and it's true, we need to build bridges...it's how we get to the other side.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

"Isn't it all basically the SAME DAY?" - J. Joplin

Yesterday was one long day...

Up early and out to Peter Jones for an early morning "Henry Goodbar," rehearsal. We're restaging the play, based on dimensions of our performance space in Edinburgh, Scotland. This changes the production substantially. It's an opportunity to re-think major portions of the piece. What's unique: the cast is tight, we're nearly off book, we've done this before, we can reinvent, refine, rediscover. What's great for the Lovely Carla and I, we can take the production to a completely new level; usually by the end of a show's run, we are finally getting to a place where we can "play," where some of the instinctual processes arise. This time, we can start at that place, and see where we can push ourselves, our cast, and our audience.

In the afternoon, we did a Telepath Jam. This is still not a clean machine. We have a set list, a mission, we're not just aimlessly jamming, but it feels like an outfit that's pulling in different directions. The group dynamic is a little shaky. Part of this can be attributed to a poor sound system, (I'm hoping to remedy this soon) so vocals and guitars and drums are all competing with each other. But there's also a little tension in the band, (different visions, agendas?) Our two original songs are my favorites at the moment, which does bode well. But if we don't get the mix and the energy all working together (does anyone tell Neil Young to turn his guitar volume DOWN?!) not sure if the Telepaths (in this configuration) have staying power.

Late afternoon - went for a massage and a Space Time Tank float. All I can say is, thank you John Lilly. What a strange, unique way to explore the inner world. Then had a nice meal at Angelina's on Broadway. Finally got home and packed my bag. I'm heading off to Brooklyn, New York today. I'm sure I'll be posting from the road. As always...to be continued.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

"Power to the People." J. Lennon

I'm reading Michael Frayn's play, "Democracy," which concerns the reunification of Germany, East and West. It's quite good, funny, intelligent, uses the events of that time to reflect the major political currents of the 20th Century.

Willy Brandt is the central figure, there is a crowd of characters (spies, lackeys, boot-lickers) that surround him. What comes across is the humaness of the politicians, the government bureaucrats, and in a way, their humaness is their strength: compromisers, and those who are compromised, consensus builders. Willy is a man who wants everyone to be happy and at peace. He counsels forgiveness, patience, he battles depression, he drinks, he has affairs with women outside his marriage. He is a Democratic Hero, flawed, imperfect, one of us!

I like this line from the play: "Capitalism is a system where man oppresses man. Socialism is the opposite." The hope for us all is to realize the flaws in the system, in the people who run it, in the people who live in it. Yes, in order to be a hero, you must be human. It is the man who sees everything in black and white, with certainty, with moral fervor, the righteous, the moralizers, those who would impose their vision - these are the enemies of the people!

Friday, June 03, 2005

"What if Six Turned Out to be Nine?" J. Hendrix

A few days back, on Memorial Day, I kind of hit an emotional "bottom." I was low energy, and the world seemed a little overwhelming. I tuned out the news, unplugged from all the rolling and tumbling. It's strange, since then, I've found an odd calmness and peace. ("I'm the one who'll die when it's my time to die, so I'll live the way I want to." - J. Hendrix). This attention to death, to endings, to the shadow thoughts, to the darkside of the moon, seems to me to be a necessary strength. I think the darkness and tragedy of our lives makes the light and happiness that much more precious and soulful.

It's the Jungian idea of light and shadow, the strange duality of exitence. To be happy and shallow, to be in a place where everything is always sunny and easy, is a sham paradise. Instead, we live in an incredible world of hard realities. Reality is a great teacher. To find the beauty, the light, and the goodness in the "real," all wrapped up with the pain, heartache, loss, acts of cruelty and the "evil," men do, yes, that is the strange alchemy of a life.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Terrible Trio?

Marx, (Karl, not Groucho), Freud, and Darwin. I was reading an article about the dawning of "the age of enlightenment," secularism, and materialism, and these three gents were mentioned as the "terrible trio."

Now it's the 21st century and these three guys sort of seem to be frozen in an earlier, dustier, world, but I think its safe to say that all three still have interesting and consistent things to say about capitalism, psychology and biology.

Can a sense of wonder, spirituality and transcendance co-exist with the thought of these three? I say yes, absolutely, in some ways their dangerous ideas are incredible descriptors for the world and the way we live and work. Marx's description/critique of capitalism seems definitive. Freud's ego, superego, and id offer a nice shorthand for the turbulence inside us, and Darwin's astonishing discovery of natural selection/evolution knocks down doors and opens heads.

I don't think any of them really "demystify," the world, although, their descriptions make you see things with new eyes. Some people just can't handle a universe without an all powerful "creator," overlooking the entire shebang!

Now, how to live a life? Marx's "workers utopia," seems like a false Eldorado. Freud's psychoanlysis seems to offer a lot of fruitless wallowing in absurdity (see Oedipus). Darwin's natural selection is a blank impersonality.

Still, I see beauty and wonder, and possibility. The meaning of a life, is the meaning we bring to it. We are in a dialogue with an incredible universe of form and content. We decide what we choose to hear and what we choose to say.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Precursors

I've been writing a new play, I've got a character, and he's kind of rambling on at the moment. Not sure where he's going, but I'm following him anyway. I started thinking of the writers who got me started in the first place, especially, Robert Louis Stevenson ("Treasure Island"); my first sustained narrative, was a story called "Mistaken Pirates," (good guys, mistaken for bad guys) written in seventh grade. Kurt Vonnegut totally enraptured me in High School; his imagination, his dark humour, his crystalline sentences of simplicity ("And so it goes."). I was inspired by the guys who wrote in a frenzy: Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Herman Melville, Henry Miller. I tried to avoid writers who struggled, or, guys who had "writer's block," not wanting to catch the malady.

Plus there were the writers who were so good, it was kind of intimidating: Shakespeare, Joseph Heller, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neil. (In music the Intimidators are: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan). I found my way into playwriting through Sam Shepard, a writer who has an almost musical sense, the words coming out in a blast, like a saxophone or trumpet. It was a volume of early one-act plays that convinced me that I could "do it too." I still go back to Shepard for inspiration. Kerouac too. I like the idea of writing in a blast, a stream of consciousness, where words come up in a torrent, and lead to new places.

I find that Samuel Beckett is the anti-Shepard. Beckett's work in some ways is about the impossibility of language. He reduces things to their essence. Powerful and scary work, and not what I want to be thinking about when I'm trying to discover "the flow." So there's the writers I want to tune in, and those I want to tune out, and then hopefully I can find my own channel and let it come.

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