WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Sunday, December 31, 2006

"There is no success like failure." - B. Dylan

"You have permission to fail."

I was at Invision yesterday for an endings and beginnings seminar, it was one of those "out with the old, in with the new" kind of rituals, and that line about failure kind of stuck in my head.

If you write stuff, or sing and play music, or do any kind of acting or performing, there's always a "fear of failure" in the back of your mind. If you really think about it, it's an irrational thing. People will tear you down, they will sneer, or reject you, or maybe just shrug their shoulders, or whatever. It just goes with the territory.

Think of any artist or writer or singer and you will find people who criticize, who knock them, who make fun of them. In fact, it's usually the really creative, unique, artists those who try something new, something different, who are in for the greatest negative on-slaught.

I've written things that have kind of been met with contempt, or indifference. I think the key is to continue to work with heart, with love, with passion. If you do, you will find people who will connect with you. I believe that the passion, the love for the work is inspiring, and will inspire.

As Bjork says, "It takes courage to enjoy it." And yes, well, joy and love, and passion are worth taking a chance on. And if you "fail" in the process, good for you. Pick yourself up and go for it again! Let's bid 2006 a sweet goodbye, and embrace 2007 with passion, love...and no fear!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A New World

The last two weeks, the Lovely Carla and I have been living in a little creative idyll. It's kind of a self-made paradise. We have been working on our various projects, painting, writing, song-making, and at the same time we've been going to movies, floating, meditating, all the stuff that hopefully feeds the soul. Soul Food.

Last night we went see the film Pan's Labyrinth, and it is a very beautiful film. It works on many levels, at it's most basic level there's the split between the brute human realm we've descended to, or maybe in a way, we are married to, and the realm of magic and imagination. They co-exist side by side. Kind of another reminder of my insight in the tank (see previous post) of multiple realities crowding in on us. It is wonderful to be able to sink into someone ele's beautifully complete vision.

What's really great about the film, is that it is "true" to both realms. It leaves you exhilarated and devastated simultaneously. And well, that's a profound insight right there. That the exhilaration and devastation are somehow linked and maybe unavoidable. What's amazing also, is that a story about the right and left battling in the forests of Spain in the 1940s is oh so relevant to what's happening today, in so many excrutiatingly profound ways.

It's a Spanish film, (I think it's true they don't make them like this in Hollywood). It was great to see a packed house for such a clearly superior effort. We walked home afterwards and the streets were quiet. The trees and the sidewalks looked different. We talked as if something really profound had happened to us and we were still in the process of taking it all in. There was a numinous glow around everything surrounding us...now that's when you know a work has truly touched you. You can actually see the world with new eyes. And you know that not everyone is looking, that not everyone sees. And sometimes, you must spare the blood of the innocent...

Friday, December 29, 2006

"It takes courage to enjoy it." - Bjork

The Lovely Carla and I have a year end ritual that we have taken up the last few years. We visit Space Time Tanks for a massage and a float. It is truly an earth-shattering experience, at least, that's how it's worked for me within the confines of my own little noggin.

Hell, it takes courage to enjoy it, just like that little Icelandic fairy goddess so exuberantly tells us. By the way, maybe I'm a late-comer to Bjork, but this woman is an amazing little sprite, a mystical channel, a spiritual, dance-inducing singer-songwriter. I'm thinking she's some kind of genius. I've lately been listening to her first album and it's a beautiful and inspiring third-eye-opener.

Anyway, John Lilly used to take something like 10,000 micro-grams of LSD and float in an isolation tank for hours; our experience hasn't been anywhere near that extreme, just an hour or so, with a fairly clear head, floating in a briny soup. Time-tripping in our heads, doing some weird kind of "astral projecting," looking for space and, dare I say it, "enlightenment?"

So, yes, I started out with a "deep tissue" massage, very liberating, and oh so physical, and then, on to the float. And well, how do I say this, yes, I received a message, a voice in the darkness came to me. Was it a star? A cosmic dolphin? A god? A demon? Or maybe just an eruption of static from my own cerebral cortex? Who knows? I distinctly heard these words boom out across the salty water in that dank little tank: "There are too many fucking realities." Wow, wouldn't you know it, even the voices that come to me are profane!

Hmmm. I thought to myself, "great, what do I do with that?" I mean, I think it's true...and that may be a source of much of my confusion, and pain, and worry, and well general lack of focus, but well, now what?

So anyway, I float some more, I seem to be beyond time and space, I travel through the cosmic spider webs in my head and then out of the void, the voice comes again with a one word kicker: "SURRENDER!"

That's it. No explanation. No footnotes. No guidebook. I float some more, and then, well it's over, I get out, shower, dress. And sit in the lobby waiting for the Lovely C. in a kind of stunned silence.

We get back home, both of us in a renewed, rejuvenated state, silent and glowing. We sit and watch a Bjork DVD and well, that's when her words hit home, they kind of complete the line of thought started in the tank..."it takes courage to enjoy it." And I guess, all I can say is, "well, yes, it does..."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm With Bobby

"I've conceded the fact that there is no understanding of anything - at best, just winks of an eye - and that is all I'm looking for now, I guess." - Dylan (speaking around the time he tracked this joyfully rollicking masterpiece).

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

One Shit Sandwich Too Far

Today, declare yourself a Satanist, and well, you'll be the life of the party, an Athiest, you might get a yawn, an Anarchist, a giggle, but to declare yourself a Raw Foodist, ah well, that's one bridge too far, one toke over the line, I mean, that's as bad as calling someone (Rufus T. Firefly anyone?!) an Upstart!

We live in a tottering Giant of a nation, a Superpower that isn't so damn super anymore. I mean, if all we can do is blow shit up, aren't we really a pathetic beast of a nation? We are at most now, a Fast Food Nation (if you haven't seen the movie - see it - if you dare!) "You can't face the truth!" I mean, if you see it, you either have to dismiss it, or you might have to change your life.

Could we really change the world for the better by being more discriminating about what we put into our bodies? How simple, how radical! If we all stopped eating shit sandwiches (go visit a meat processing plant if you really want to suppress your appetite!) would our poor little pyramid economy come tumbling down? Bring it down! I mean, really, this empire truly is built upon shit -- with the right packaging, a friendly name, and slick ad campaign we will surely eat a shit sandwich (the meat industry feels it's their divine right to feed cows chicken shit, and well, dead cow brains too!) daily, and say it tasted good too!

What a fat, stupid, bloated nation we have become! Is there hope for us? Well, Studs Terkel tells us, "hope dies last." So, yes, I guess there is hope...but it is amazing how full of shit we really are...we eat it, preach it, and even start believing in it...where will it all end?

"Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you'll duck soup for the rest of your life." - Duck Soup

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Writer

Since a very early age, rightly or wrongly, I have thought of myself as a writer. Even when I wasn't writing, although, I think it's true, that you are a writer only when you are writing. I wear the overcoat of alienation that a writer requires. I think a writer requires alienation from others or themselves, the better to observe. All good writing, I believe, comes from observation. All good ideas float in from the ether, and a writer, collects and filters. Imagination is a mirror.

Writing is solitary. It's a lonely activity, but really, when I'm writing, lonliness is an ally. Even if the world is knocking at your door, finally you gladly close it shut, and write, although, it's true, I can write in the middle of the chaos. When I was a bike courier, I used to write in a little notebook, I'd be sitting in the middle of a frenzied city plaza writing notes for my first play. Still, finally, you must find an oasis, a little corner in your head, to let the stream flow.

I'm enamoured with the flow. Sometimes you can stubbornly work your way through the text, I know some writers wrestle with every last sentence, but for me, it's best, when I can catch a wave and just hang on for the ride. I may go back and edit later, but when I'm riding that wave, editing is counter-productive. The worst censorship is self-censorship.

You trust that if you're true to the text, that something true will come out. Even the most ridiculous fabrications. You write and then, the words and sentences are on their own. They are not you, they have their own life. It's almost mystical or magical, and anyone can do it.

Isn't that true of just about everything?

Monday, December 25, 2006

River Deep, Mountain High

It must be the holidays...stayed up late playing music (me on guitar and my brother on harmonica), and exchanging presents with the family...I guess it all has something to do with the baby Jesus -- as John Tuturro's character in the Big Lebowski says, "don't fuck with the Jesus." So, well, I have no problem with the Jesus Man, I mean, he seemed like a peaceful dude and all, kind of met a violent end, and well, ain't that the way of the world? The peacemakers always seem to get the shaft. I don't buy the rising from the tomb thing (roll away the stone!), unless we're talking metaphorically or something, I mean, we all get laid low sometimes and yes, well, hopefully we'll rise again!

You've got to watch out for those who use the Jesus Dude to justify all their greed and hate and general bullshit...which also seems to be the way of the world -- someone comes up with a good idea, "love thine enemies," live with "love and forgiveness," and somehow that gets turned into a worldwide institution that beats the shit out of you, trying to make you conform to a weird brand of malevolent twistedness. Yeah, well, that's the way of the world too, right?

Anyway, I'm listening to some great soul music this morning, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Ike and Tina Turner ...I also throw in a little Rude Boy Reggae to mix things up a little. Right now, Tina Turner is singing River Deep, Mountain High...and well it truly is a miracle, ain't it? I mean eventhough Tina and Ike had a sort of dysfunctional relationship they really created an incredible catalog of
explosive tracks...and there's some kind of lesson in the music, methinks...

P.S. The Hardest Working Man in Showbiz has thrown in the towel. Goodnight Sweet Prince...and remember...you may have passed, but I'm really thinking it's just a case of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag!"

P.S.S. Check out the the great Trickster for an excellent little profile of the Godfather of Soul.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Better Than Prozac

If you're feeling low, I have a recommended course of action for you... drink three of these...and watch one of these...I promise you will feel much better at the conclusion of the session.

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Dinner with Wally

"It is astounding that America does work in the same way that an open dictatorship works, in that a handful of people really seem to be able to dominate an entire country.

If you go to a foreign country, and somebody looks at you frankly and says, 'Your country is going around terrorizing the world,' and then you say, 'Well, I'm against Bush myself. I didn't vote for him.' They look at you blankly. That's not enough. They know that's not enough. They know that you are benefiting every day, you are paying taxes, your money is actually paying for these things, so come on, that's not good enough."

Wallace Shawn (One of our greatest living playwrights).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Creed

The Orange County Creed (as per Robert Greenfield in S.T.P. a Journey through America with the Rolling Stones): "We're gonna make this American Dream work. Yessir, we are. By God, yes. Even if we have to kill everyone to do it."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Raw Life

I'm on vacation, which means another tempo, I have downshifted into a very creative cul de sac. It's amazing how happy I can be all by myself, reading a book, writing a play, recording music, running on the lakefront, soaking my old bones in a hot bath, drinking kick-ass coffee, eating raw. Yes, I have a new obsession, I have adopted the raw lifestyle. This is about as radical a step as anyone can take, I mean it's so fundamental, so contrary to the thinking of our modern conventional herd. I mean, being a vegetarian is one thing, you're already bucking the trend set by our fat, artery-clogged consumers of fast food, bloated livestock and overprocessed crap.

But to be a raw foodist is taking that contrary, looney stand to it's furthest extreme. I mean whole cultures have built their identities around cooking. Italian, Greek, French, Japanese, German, etc. To turn your back on anything that has been cooked, is to turn your back on thousands of years of culinary exploration.

So be it. I've been eating raw for about a month now, and I think it's been good for me. I'm not going to go into a rant about this, instead, if you want to find out why it's a good idea, and how it can make you happier, healthier and "more beautiful," I suggest this book. Beauty here is more than skin deep, in fact, the key idea seems to be that our internals spend a lot of time and energy digesting the crap we put in our bodies. We are basically JUICERS and some food is easy to juice and some isn't. The closer we can be to the raw, the live, the unprocessed, the better. Also, as a side benefit, by giving up meat, we may help save the planet, I'm convinced that our factory farms, the animal processing plants are brutal, ugly and dehumanizing. They're not so good for the environment or the animals either.

Anyway, it all makes some kind of sense to me. I can be quite disciplined when it comes to what I put into my body, although I have had my moments of debauch, where really anything goes, I'm speaking here of controlled and uncontrolled substances. Lately, I've been grazing on nuts, seeds and uncooked veggies. It hasn't killed me yet. Which I guess could be some kind of recommendation...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All We Need is Now

I'm still thinking about my post yesterday. Maybe I should chalk up my "disorientation," to "death of my youth." There was a time and place that now only exists in my head. There are others who probably share some of the same thought-dreams, but even if we think back to world events, they are all basically unique to each individual. I'm not really a big one for nostalgia. I think we tend to forget the bad shit, and remember the good, it's probably a survival mechanism, but "things were not better then," I mean, it was the same jumble of good and bad, sweetness and madness, chaos and order, life and death.

There was good music then, there's good music now. There were major upheavals then, there are major upheavals now. There was war and peace, love and hate and well, you get the idea. Songs like "A Day in the Life," and "Within You, Without You," still speak to me today, but they came out of what was happening then, and maybe they still connect because what they were about was more than the moment, but they were also of the moment and they are "time-bound," just like us. Most of my favorite art is "of the moment." No art really is "timeless." I mean, some works can speak to us across time, but still they are works that were made by people in a certain time and place and if we don't know who they were, their circumstances, their culture, their politics, then we are the poorer for it.

I'm thinking that nothing stands up on it's own - except maybe a mountain, a tree, a sunset, the full moon, a leaf. When it comes to art, even "functional" art, there is always a maker, and that maker came from a certain time and place, a context. Pop art, and at this point in our cultural progression, isn't it all just "pop art," is the quest for the perpetual now. So, yes, "Love" is now, even if it's old hat, been done before, in a time and place that does not exist anymore. So, it's now and it's kitschy too and, well, we can remember the past, but there's no point in living in the past...it's not true that "All We Need is Love," no, instead, (although this will certainly not be a hit), I think it's true that "All We Need is NOW!"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gimmee Some Truth

I don't want to rap the new Beatles CD, Love, a remix by George Martin and his son for CirqueDuSoleil in Las Vegas. The CD is a beautiful soundscape, using some of the best and most iconic Beatles songs, songs that have embedded themselves deeply into our popular consciousness. Some of these songs sound like they were recorded yesterday, they are that alive, exuberant, rocking and beautiful. Martin and his son have done an admirable job of re-mixing and re-matching these songs, bringing them alive by changing up the context.

I've been a Beatles fan since about the age of thirteen. I have lived and breathed this music for many, many years. I think what kind of disorients me about the whole enterprise is the "context of no context" nature of the endevour. Yes, some of the best songs transcend their time, but for me, the Beatles cannot really be plucked out of the context of the time when I first encountered and grew up with them. They were not just musicians who wrote beautiful, inspiring or insightful and challenging music, they were representatives of another cultural consciousness. Lennon and Harrison especially, represented an experimental, searching vanguard in the culture war between the "straights," and the "heads," the war machine and the peaceniks, those looking for some kind of enlightenment and those selling the same old line of crap.

It all sounds so cliche now, but there really was a counterculture, and the world really did seem to be at war, the young against the old, the musicans and artists in opposition to the politicians and the power structure. Of course, all of this got swallowed up and disappeared into the Great Global Corporate Culture Machine, and finally you have Lennon's "Revolution" blasting out in a theater in Vegas, and well, I think a lot of the meaning of the music, or what it represented at one time has been lost in nostalgia and kitsch. Now it's just music, a nostalgia show, then it seemed like so much more.

Isn't that how the story goes? So, yes, it's great to hear the supreme artistry of these four musicians, and I'm sure Cirque Du Soleil puts on a good show, but I'm thinking something gets lost in the process, or maybe it's just the passage of time that makes it inevitable. Without the context, without knowing the turmoil of those times, without understanding the great convulsions that were going on when these songs were written, much of the story is missing, by plucking these songs out of the canon, it furthers this de-contexualization...in my book not such a good thing, because so much is lost.

Maybe it's inevitable. Of course, it may be significant that Lennon and Harrison are no longer with us. I'm not sure if they'd be on the bandwagon for this kind of enterprise, although that great avant gardist, Yoko Ono gave her approval...so really what is my beef? Beats me. Somehow it all just seems kind of phony and kitschy, and well it smells of the hustle, only it's all wrapped up in a classy package. I guess Vegas is our real Paradise where all great pop icons either go before they die (Elvis, Wayne Newton, Celine Dion, Prince), or once dead, go to be deified. We can get a ticket and sit ringside, and well, sorry but that's not what I love about the Beatles...but, well anyway, that was all a long time ago...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

PsychoBabble

Hell, we live in a bi-polar world. There's a north and a south, and as C. Bukowski once wrote, there's the "South of No North." So, I don't know what's up with this bipolar syndrome. I mean, is it so unusual to go from euphoria to deep depression and back again? Especially considering the state of things today, it almost seems required. I think the real problem would be if you were stuck at one or the other poles. If you're swinging, hey baby, it's not so bad. "Don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that SCHWING!" I'm all for keeping up with the oscillation.

So lately, I've been in an existential wrestling match, wrestling with my demons, my expectations, my self-image, and my perceived enemies. There are people in the world who will go out of their way to fuck with you. Strange, but true. I kept telling myself "you've got to let it go, you've got to let it go." This then became my mantra, but of course, I was then stuck in the analytic process of trying to reason my way out of something I just wasn't ready to let go of. I ended up wrestling with my mantra. Remember as the Maharishi almost certainly didn't say, "the mantra will always win." And so you end up bouncing from one pole to the next. It can get kind of ugly.

Anyway, I hit bottom yesterday, this in the wake of our office Christmas party, which ended up being like a Pinter play, all sub-text; the important, essential conversations were the ones that were not verbalized. It was a strange kabuki dance that kind of crystallized it all for me as we sat around the table. I was able to detach, see my demons in front of me, and yes, finally let them go. So I settled in the deep south, and then started floating towards deep north...yesterday was deep, profound emptiness. Yes, I had finally let go. This morning, I already feel like I'm filling up, I feel renewed, ready for something new...and eventhough it's cloudy outside I can hear George Harrison singing, "here comes the sun." And I say, "it's alright!"

Friday, December 15, 2006

Music

"Music does not depend on being right, on having good taste and education and all that."

"Indeed, then what does it depend on?"

"On making music Herr Haller, on making music as well and as much as possible and with all the intensity of which one is capable. That is the point, Monsieur."

Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Life Coach - "I'll Sit Down and Wait for My Answer!"

The Lovely Carla has volunteered to be my life coach. I'm blogging from the coffee shop on the corner, making calls too, and the Lovely C. is by my side, working on paperwork. She has been giving me advice and encouragement. It's kind of like living with Knute Rockne ("Win one for the Gipper!") or Vince Lombardi ("Run to daylight!").

I can use all the help I can get, but really, it's a little much when I'm making a phone call and she's gesturing while I'm talking, almost like she's conducting an orchestra, she being Daniel Barenboim, me being the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She nods when I say something she likes, she gives me the "cut it," sign, if I say something she doesn't.

So, I get through one call and she gives me the thumbs up. So, okay, maybe this is going to change my life...all I ever needed was a little more coaching. Then, again, I hope it doesn't cramp my style. What next, a miked up helmut, so she can send in the plays?!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Messenger

One year I worked as bike messenger in the streets of Chicago. It was quite the challenging job. I think I was more alert and alive, moment by moment, than any other time in my life. I mean, it was required that you be super-on-guard just to stay alive. The job was survival. I had my brushes with car doors, I crashed to the pavement a few times, but I always wore my helmet, and I used my roller blading elbow and knee pads to help protect myself. I was lucky to come out of it in one piece. I got real lean, thin as a rail. Anyway, one thing I really liked about the job, it was totally consuming, totally physical, but when it was done, it was done. I never thought about any of it once I punched out for the day. I didn't make a lot of money, it was not a high status job, but I felt more "free" (I almost felt invisible), in the streets of the city, than I ever have since. I have a much better paying job now, but it requires a lot of "head" work, which is really hard for me to turn off sometimes. I have lately been totally consumed, and even though I can set my own schedule, the work has totally crowded in on me. There's no going back. It doesn't work like that...but sometimes I think about those days with a slight touch of nostalgia...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time

"Time is a dicovery which is only made by thinking. We create it as an idea and do not begin till much later to suspect that we ourselves are Time, inasmuch as we live." Oswald Spengler

Monday, December 11, 2006

Visualize This!

I don't know if you believe in "vibes" and "psychic energy," and "auras" and that kind of thing. I do, or well, I mean, it sometimes seems to "work for me," if you know what I mean. I mean, I'm a big advocate of creative visualization, of creating mental images and then sending them out into the world. Do these mental images actually have substance? Do they have influence in the cosmic soup of our lives? Well, hey, I guess that's an open question. I actually think this kind of thinking isn't all that "out there" especially if you start reading about the current thinking in the realm of science, what with super-string theory, black holes, dark matter, worm holes and the uncertainty principle, and well, even Einstein's theories that both time and space are really kind of fungible.

So, the truth is we can't even trust our senses...or, we live in a time, when it's accepted that the world is more than what can be measured and counted. The idea that we are more than our bodies certainly appeals to me, and it kind of conforms to how I experience the world. I don't draw any great conclusions from this, except, instead, I use the knowledge, I meditate nearly every day. I go through a series of visualizations that I learned at this school. I actually went through a two year program, learning and refining, and hopefully sort of mastering how to create these mental images.

I do know the meditation has helped me focus, it's helped in my creative work, it's made me more aware and awake. Which is sometimes a mixed bag, I mean, you really see the world, and the people in it, and well, sometimes it's a beautiful, marvelous place, and well sometimes it's amazing how ugly it can all look. Somehow you have to be able to see clearly without letting it destroy you. Nice trick, huh? So anyway, this weekend, the vibes around here were all positive, the Lovely C. and I were in a creative flow, she was painting, I was writing, and the energy we seemed to create between us, seemed bigger than the both of us. Very cool, it was just how I visualized it!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sit Back and Wonder

I've been writing plays, or little perfomance pieces for about eleven years now. My great theatrical vehicle is our little company, Black Forest. I've been working on a new piece, and it's been a series of stops and starts. I must have about 100 pages of text. Some of it interesting, some of it total gibberish. The goal is to have a complete production ready for late spring 2007. I'm thinking, "rock opera," basically so we can incorporate some of the songs we've all been working on.

If it wasn't for this guy, I probably never would have started down this particular path. Or maybe I was always heading in this direction and Sam just provided the last little push. Sam's 1980 play True West, (I saw the Steppenwolf production with Malkolvitch and Sinese), really seemed to blow open the gates for me.

So, the last two days I have been writing in a complete stream of consciousness frenzy. I've got about fourteen solid pages. I love when it just flows out like that. Usually it's the best stuff. At least I think so. I can't predict it, I can't command it, sometimes it just comes. I think for some reason, reading an article in the New Yorker about Jasper Johns rekindled my imagination. He was asked how he decides what to paint and he said something like he just follows one brushstroke with another. That works for me too. One sentence, leads to another, and then you just let it come, and you sit back and wonder at all the words sitting on the page in front of you.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Two Jimmys

Lately, I've been working obessively on music. I eat it, play it, drink it. I mean, my ears have been filled with music. I've really bonded with my guitars, I've had music pour out of me in so many ways. I have played guitar since about 12 years old, my best all time job was working as a guitar tuner at a Hohner Warehouse (Hohner is famous not for their guitars, but for their harmonicas, they set the standard for the mouth harp).

In the guitar world, there are two primary schools, you are usually either a Fender player, or a Gibson player, all the other guitar manfacturers are either offshoots of these two standards or they are go off on some little tangent. In the rock world, I think there are two dudes who basically transcend all the other players out there, they were the orignators, they explored and defined the territory, they were founders of what we now think of as rock & roll guitar. All other players after them were either heavily influenced by one or both of them, or they were ignored, kind of like if you're a painter you either were influenced by Picasso, or you basically pretend that he never existed.

Anyway in my little dichotomy here (one of them was a Fender Stratocaster man, the other a Gibson Les Paul guy), I mean, this is just a thought experiment, I haven't really put a lot of brain cells into it, there's the Two Jimmys. First, there's Jimi and then there's Jimmy.

I truly believe these guys stand head and shoulders above just about anyone else, just because they did stuff no one ever did before, and some of what Hendrix did with his instrument no one even attempts. I mean, last night on public television I saw some clips of Hendrix at Woodstock and to watch him commune with his guitar is to watch something otherworldly. Kind of the same feeling you get when you watch John Coltrane play his saxophone. It's spirtual, it's alien, almost like watching a natural phenomenon, like a sunset or a cyclone.

I've also recently watched the Led Zeppelin dvd set spanning their live performance career. Jimmy Page's playing is flashy, intimidating, mind-blowing, and beautiful, lyrical too. These two guys are so different, Hendrix was never really in control of his life, or his career, he had managers and girlfriends who hounded and fed off of him. He was a poor kid who came from absolutely nothing, and he rose to fame and fortune in a flash, and then he was gone. It's kind of a cliche but it seems Hendrix was only free when he was onstage playing music.

Page on the other was a privileged kid, a very successful session player, always in control of his career and owner of his master tapes. Jimmy Page is the mastermind behind all those great Led Zeppelin records, every note you hear was worried and worked over by the fabulous Jimmy Page. Page has made a fortune and he has been able to see his legacy grow, and watch as his playing has influenced a generation of other guitarists looking to be r&r heroes.

These two guys also have inspired a lot of dreck, a generation of bombastic players who are treading the same ground to much less effect. Every truly great guitar player has always played in service to the music first, but there are some players just enamored with technique, which I think is actually a killer of creativity, the best players are those who can incorporate techinque and then forget it, and by doing so transcend it. But no matter, go back to the original recordings, and then check out these guys live on stage and marvel! By the way, I own and play Fender guitars...but I've always wanted to own a Gibson Les Paul too, I guess it must be my conflicted nature!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Against this Wall

I've had a major on-going Jasper Johns obsession for many years. One of my plays, "Space Modulator," was partly based on and inspired by some of Johns' writings. Amazingly, this signature, breakthrough work came to Johns in a dream.

It seems Johns also collaborated with Samuel Beckett - they worked together on a book, Beckett provided the text, Johns the images. Here's Beckett as he's examining one of Johns etchings, he is describing what he sees to Johns: "I'll tell you what I see here. Here, I see you try all these paths in different directions, but, no matter where you go, you come up against this wall."

Yes, indeed, Sam, I think I know what you mean.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Mask of Rationality

Over the years, I've dabbled with Tarot cards, I mean, I'll sit down, shuffle the cards, think of a question or contemplate my present predicament (I'm always in a predicament), and select the cards, lay them out and marvel at the pretty pictures. I'm not exactly sure why I do this, it's just another habit I've picked up over the years, and it probably feeds into my idea that the universe is a mysterious place, and well, why couldn't a sequence of picture cards tell me something about myself and the world as I conceive it?

I could just as easily be using one of those magic Eight Balls that you shake and turn over, looking for some kind of answer, or (and I always do this), cracking open a fortune cookie, looking for some kind of wisdom or guidance. I do this all with a sense of amusement, or ridiculousness, (I think I look at myself as a superstitious, hopeless, romantic fool, when I do this stuff), but still I do it, and I sometimes take the information that I get and kind of take it to heart. I guess you have to find your answers where you can.

I do think this guy put a lot of stock in the symbols that cultures use, and if many cultures keep coming back to the same images time and again, maybe it tells us something about the structures of our minds, or the contents of our human experiences?

The Lovely C. and I own a few Tarot decks including one originally designed by this famous fraud, Magus and self-billed "Wickedest Man in the World!" I like his Tarot deck, the imagery is very evocative, and I like how he characterises the Devil as basically a "lusty goat." Crowley judged our present Aeon to be hopelessly doomed, unless we realize our "star nature." Crowley thought we were brothers to the stars which echoes Carl Sagan's line: "we are star-stuff."

Anyway, not sure where I'm going with any of this, I just must acknowledge that I've spent time contemplating the meanings in the imagery of Tarot. Kind of like contemplating the grains of sand on a beach, or seeing the Virgin Mary's face in the water spot on the ceiling. Part of this journey is to understand just how strange the human brain really is, it's like a foreigner in the house of our bodies, and there are territories inside of us that really are a mystery. We wear the mask of the rationalist, and we wear the cloak of the irrationalist too. I guess these two sides must wrestle it out for themselves. This is what we call a life.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

About a Bass

I picked up a bass guitar less than a year ago, out of necessity, and thus well, yes, we call that the mother of invention, don't we? I needed to be able to add bass lines to songs I was writing, and after I got comfortable with my bass, a Danelctro Long Horn as pictured here, I became much more aware of basses and bass players. Now, when I listen to a song, I specifically gravitate to the subterranean world of thrumming notes, and low tone accents. Lately, I've actually written quite a few songs starting with a bass line and working from there. It totally changes how I look at music.

I've been aware of great bass players since the early days, Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, John Entwhistle, Sting, George Clinton, and then, there's a guy named Flea, that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of these, he's one of the hardest working guys in showbiz in a crazy rock-funk, outfit - the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'm listening to them right now, their lastest CD is Stadium Arcadium and you realize that the heart and soul of this band is the bass player. Very funky, slinky and percussive - the music really moves. There's something about a good bass line that works on a kind of sub-atomic level. If it's recorded right, you feel it right in the center of your gut.

So, any way, after reading Anthony Keidis' autobiography, I really root for these guys, they would not be your first pick for a group of guys who would make it out of the neighborhood alive. This band also features a really incredible guitarist, John Frusciante who brings a wealth of influences and new directions to the table. Good stuff, and funky too, and yes, well, I guess you could dance to it, if you were of the dancing persuasion.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Something Smells Funny

Yes, well, as they say the universe works in mysterious ways...I guess this would be one of my core tenets; in that respect you can count me with the mystics. I am not only perpetually mystified, I am MYSTIC-fied! I get in trouble when I fight it, or I try to have my way with the universe. That is not the way it works. The universe will have it's way with you, whether you consent, whether you like it or not.

So, I guess this could be characterised as a sort of fatalistic attitude, or as the Lovely Carla says, "embrace your fate!" The idea is that this embrace will lead to some kind of trascendant freedom. By embracing you are also letting go...very zen-like...

So, this morning, new information comes to light that totally changes the picture for me on the business battle front. What I thought was a defeat, may turn out to be some kind of victory, and isn't that just a laugh? I put myself up on the rack, kind of tortured myself with my own doubts and fears, and now, it all looks like a silly game that really didn't sully me in the least.

Turns out the joke is on me, friends. At least, that's how it seems today. Of course, it's still early, so in a universe where we come across phenonmena such this, and this, you sometimes just have to sit back and marvel, and wonder, and laugh until you can't laugh any more.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Too Much Too Soon

You must find your spiritual guidance where you can. You never know where the questions, or where the answers will originate. The Lovely Carla came back from a yoga session last week and told me, "you must accept your fate," before you can "change it." I put that in my spiritual pipe and smoked it good. I've been practicing the fatal embrace ever since.

Some folks look to this guy for insight, (he looks good in a flowing robe), but I prefer this wizened rock and roll dude for a more worldly perspective (have you ever seen another guy rock so hard in high-heels and pearls?):

"It's the self that finally reconciles effort and effortlessness, injury and forgiveness, control and surrender, conflict with others and accpetance of them, awareness of defects and unconditional love. You know why the self does this? Because it is pure unconditionality, which is all-inclusive love." - David Johansen.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Co-Conspirators

I have two great musical co-conspirators...this has been a fairly recent development that came out of Black Forest's last full-blown theatrical production, "Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath"

The first spinoff was a songwriting partnership with TPM in the form of this band: The Telepaths. If you have the time and the inclination, please turn your speakers up loud and check out our signature cut, "Area 51," as well as our newest stepchild, "Susan Sontag."

As a band we've already gone through three drummers, a couple of guitar players (we're ready for a VH1 Behind Music episode already!), it's just basically TPM and I keeping the r&r dream alive. Look for more good stuff in the future. We don't know where these songs come from, but it is our duty to channel them and bring them to the world!

Also, the Lovely Carla and I have been seriously (and not so seriously) been writing songs together. We're developing quite a catalog, and you will find some examples of our oeuvre here.

It's been a marvel and a pleasure to see the Lovely C. emerge as a songwriter and singer. Check out the beautiful, "Behind Closed Eyes," and the rocking "Her Stars, Her Wings."

I'm just basically going along for the ride...these two creative souls have been taking me in directions I didn't even know existed. It's really fun, exciting, truly the good work!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Strange Birds

After all this time, I'm finally venturing out of the Cro-Magnon phase of blogging to actually provide links in some of my posts. I just didn't know how, and I didn't worry about it, but I think it's a cool way of sharing info, and it's a tool used widely by most of my favorite bloggers. Sorry it's taken me so long to join the parade. Of course, once I realized how easy it really is, I feel kind of stupid. I'm not sure how often I'll really do it, but this morning, I decided to take the time to figure out how...

This morning, I'm listening to some new discs ("I am a Bird Now" and "Poses") that I purchased; two amazing performers, Antony and the Johnsons and Rufus Wainwright.

Two unique and inspiring voices. So delicate, so beautiful, sad too (especially Antony - his voice almost sounds too beautiful too affected to exist). Two strange birds too. I saw them both perform in the Leonard Cohen movie, I'm Your Man

I'm a big rock and roll fan, and I've learned to love performers who don't necessarily have wonderful voices, but when you hear Rufus and Antony, (both use strings and keyboards to great effect), you are reminded again that there are some vocalists who really can transport you to other realms of beauty just by how they hold a note, how a quiver, a catch in the voice, a certain phrasing, can change your world. Listen to Antony's delicate, otherwordly trill, listen to Rufus' powerful but delicate vocalizing bring something uniquely beautiful to Lennon's "Across the Universe."

Baby, it's cold outside, but with this music playing on the box, I'm feeling toasty all the way down to my strange bird soul...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Storm System

I'm not going to write about the weather, or well, hell, it's everywhere you look today, we're in the midst of a "major midwest storm system." Not all that bad if you have a home office and you've mastered your French Press, and you have a good supply of coffee beans to last for quite awhile.

Commandeering my computer, I've already visited Washington D.C. and British Columbia this morning. I 've conducted a teleconference bringing people together from Illinois, Wisconsin and California. I feel productive, although, it's the deep freeze, and well, I haven't ventured out of my humble abode yet today.

I had an incredibly long and restful sleep last night, which frankly can be all the difference. I feel a little more in tune with the rotation of the planet. Everything seems fine to me, even the snow and ice and wind gusts up to 50 mph. It's winter, in Chicago, and what else did you expect?

It's actually kind of reassuring that the weather, the natural world still has great influence over us. It's somtimes great when Mother Nature asserts herself (sometimes tragic too, I guess). In fact, those times when we tune it out, are really illusory times. We can fool ourselves with our other worlds. We are nature, and just like that falling snow, nature is us.

If we forget, it won't be long before we are reminded once again. And well, sometimes it's a hard lesson and sometimes it's a liberating rush...it depends on how it all manifests itself and who and where we are in the process.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blow Shit Up

I'm working from the neighborhood coffee shop this morning. Free WiFi don't you know? I'm fuelled up, I'm lit up like a pinball machine this morning. I worked on some music tracks last night, and I got so hyped up, I couldn't sleep. Music was dancing in my head all night long. Restful sleep eluded me, so I'm a little edgy, a little briny, a little salty this morning.

I'm still going through my torture phase. My best laid plans have come up snake eyes. I'm kind of at a loss of what to do next. I'm thinking I must change my life, but not sure where to start.

I feel like I have made some poor choices, I threw my lot in with some very bad (okay, maybe not bad, just totally fucked up) people, and it is coming home to roost now. You must be very careful what you choose to do, who you choose to be with. These choices help determine who you really are, what you really do.

If you're not careful, if you're like sunny jimmy and you sometimes just wing it, you can end up in some deep shit. I'm in up to my chinny chin chin at the present moment. So, like Beckett's character, I'm buried up to my chin. Do I deny it and carry on? Do I pretend that I love being in this predicament, do I imagine another reality and try to forget? Or do I somehow explode the whole damn thing? If I do the exploding, how to make sure I don't damage myself in the process?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chase the Day

I've decided not the chase the day today. Usually I rise, have a few cups of coffee (the Breakfast of Champions), lace up my running shoes and go for a lively jaunt on the lakefront. I don't recommend this behavior for anyone else. It probably breaks many rules for health and nutrition, but it's how I live, it seems to work for me. I start my day by running after, or running from something, or no, maybe I'm just running, but something compels me. It has been my routine for many, many years. It sums up my life in many respects. I'm on the run, on the chase, I keep moving just to prove to myself that I am alive. My body has held up remarkably well. I must just be made right for long distance running.

So, today, I just decide, no, I'm not going to chase the day, I will let it come to me. Lately the chasing has not been so rewarding. Whatever I try to grab and pin down, seems to slip from my grasp. So, I sip coffee, I write some incendinary e-mails, I field some phone calls. I'm going to be a passive container today, like this coffee mug sitting next to me. I fill it up, I empty it. It sits content either way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bobby

In 1968 (I was 13 years old), I lived in Wisconsin. My father had gotten a "promotion," and we all packed up and moved up there. We arrived before the furniture, and I remember sleeping on the newly laid carpet in the living room, my little family unit huddled together like refugees. It was not a great time for me. Moving from the suburbs of Chicago, to a little conservative town known for Kleenex was an uprooting of major proportions, and I kind of sank back into my shell of unhappiness even deeper. I took up golf, it was the perfect sport for a lonely kid, with no friends, and no intentions of reaching out to anyone nearby.

I had only one golf club, it was nine iron, and there was a great open field where I spent many hours hitting a golf ball or two. I learned the special golf club grip, I actually had a flip book of Tony Jacklyn who won the British Open or something. I was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated and I was fascinated by some of the figures I discovered in the pages of the magazine: Jean Claude Killy, Muhammad Ali, Carl Yastrzemski. If I happened to whack the ball good, I could spend a lot of time wandering around that big, lumpy field hunting down my golf balls.

Anyway, last night, the Lovely Carla and I went to see "Bobby," a movie focused on one day in 1968, it's a really extraordinary movie, I believe that Emilio Estevez (remember Repo Man?), should be honored for his absolutely superb script and sure-handed direction. I mean, I really, really love this movie, eventhough, ultimately it is absolutely heart-wrenching.

So, I'm remembering Bobby Kennedy, I remember we went to bed before Kennedy was announced the winner of the California Primary, I remember things were looking good, my whole family was excited at the prospect of young Bobby winning. The next morning, my mom is driving me to school, (a big lonely monolith, I was the "gangster" from Chicago, I clearly did not fit in), and the news came over on the car radio that Bobby had been shot and killed. I remember my mother screamed out in pain, like she too had been shot. I was stunned. It did not seem real. It couldn't be real. I cried too.

I think I sunk even deeper into that protective shell. When some of the kids in school made fun of the tragedy, I knew that I was not like them, or at least, I didn't want to be anything like them. The year got even weirder later that summer at the Chicago Convention. Things did not go well - cops beating up long-hairs. Everything seemed to be spinning out of control. I bought my first album, the Beatles White Album. There were strange new sounds in the air. The world seemed like a big, crazy, hard place and at the same time there were hippies and flowers and love, and a counter-culture and I started to let my hair grow long, (I didn't cut it for a many, many years)...and things got weirder and weirder...and weirder...

Nixon Won...etc.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Let Go...

I've only read one Thomas Pynchon novel, Vineland. I don't remember much about it. I'm pretty sure I liked it, but it did not make a profound impression. Pynchon has a new novel, Against the Day. It sounds amazing, but coming in at 1,085 pages, I'm thinking I'm not gonna even attempt tackling it. Going in I'm thinking I just won't finish it. Do I want to punish myself like that? I have an unspoken rule, which I try to stick to, but, in fact, I have broken it many times - if I start a book, I finish a book. Those times I haven't finished, I look upon as some kind of defeat. My library of books is a record of my successes and my defeats.

Did I really just write that? Are even my reading choices my personal record of success and failure? Maybe I judge myself too harshly? I started out as an English Major and finished as a Psychology Major - there is certainly some confusion in that journey. And after I graduated, I realized I wanted nothing to do with Psychology. My fellow students and teachers seemed to be an extra-pernicious lot...and the trend had already started - psychotheraphy morphing into pharmacology, and hell, if you're gonna do drugs, it seems to me the only ones worth doing are the "recreational" kind.

So, I look at many books on my shelf and I see that what I thought I was seeking, turns out to not be what I was seeking. Or something like that...

Ok, so I'm reading a review of Pynchon's new novel (the review goes for pages too), and I come across this quote from one of the characters and it completely, profoundly resonates with me this morning:

"Let go, let it bear you up and carry you, and everything's so clear because you're not fighting back anymore, the clouds of anger are out of your face, you see further and clearer than you ever thought you could." - T. Pynchon

Sunday, November 26, 2006

French Press

Recently, when I was in New York, The Woman Who Would Be President, (yes, I'd vote for her!), the Lovely Melissa, asked me, (rhetorically?), as we were walking down the avenue, after our feast of mac and cheese, how to make great French Press coffee. I demurred at the time. It had been a while since I worked a French Press, I had grown lazy, grinding coffee beans, dumping them in our automatic coffee maker, and letting the machine do all the work.

Well, two days ago, my coffee maker died. So, desperate for a cuppa joe, I hastily dusted off the old French Press and went back to the fundamentals. Here is the secret to a great French Press:

1. Purchase a package of Fair Trade Coffee. It's essential to support a positive social movement dedicated to small environmentally sustainable local producers. The coffee will be good, and you will feel better about yourself and the future of the planet. (I prefer a dark roast such as French or Italian).

2. Grind the beans. You want the grind to be course, not fine. This is all feel. Your result should be asymmetric.

3. Boil water (filtered if possible) in an old kettle. It's best if it has a whistle, so the kettle lets you know when it's ready.

4. Pour the hot water into the glass container first. I like to fill it just below the spout.

5. Put 8 teaspoons of the coarse grind into the glass container. (I like a bold, potent cup!).

6. Stir Vigorously. I suggest you use a wooden spoon. I don't know why. A wooden spoon just seems to work best. I stir until a nice brown foam rises to the top. Again, this is an art, not a science, you must stir with style, panache, and most importantly, love. The more love you put into this process, the better the coffee will taste.

7. Take your pressing contraption and slowly and evenly press down until you can't press any more. Be gentle.

8. Pour into a favorite coffee mug, preferably one that you've used for a time, one that you have a certain connection to, maybe something with a witty saying, or maybe it was a gift from someone special, or maybe it just a plain old mug, friendly and stable.

9. Fill the mug about two/thirds. I then add about 1/3 vanilla soy milk. No cows have been harmed or milked the making of this cup of coffee! I'm a big fan of soy. It's amazing what they can do with that little bean. Although, how they actually milk a bean is a mystery to me.

10. Sit back and enjoy. Maybe listen to the news on the radio, or put a good CD on. If all went well, if you brought enough love and attention to the process, you will enjoy a great cup of coffee. Maybe you'll have another. And you'll wonder why you started using that automatic coffee machine in the first place.

All Done!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Cry

My world is topsy turvy. I cry easily. Every movie I've seen lately makes me cry. I cried at The Queen, The Fountain, I'm Your Man. I cried when I heard that Robert Altman died. Actually, whenever I hear that anyone died (which is a frequent occurance), I kind of tear up. I'm thinking I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This could all be characterised as major "dumps" behaviour.

I'm a man, so I've lived with that "boys don't cry" ethic. I do most of my crying alone, or in the darkness of a movie theater. I usually wear sunglasses, day and night, which comes in handy if the tears start to roll. I'm good at crying without others knowing. It's not a public crying, it's a private, deep-type of sadness that I feel. I mean I don't feel it all the time, it just comes over me very quickly, unexpectedly. I've always been the sensitve kind. It's just my nature. If you knew my mother and my father, you'd know where I got it. They were/are very sensitive souls.

This crying has been very cathartic, cleansing. I think it's a necessary thing. I haven't reached for a life preserver, or a prescription drug, I'm sticking with coffee - nothing like drinking coffee alone in a kitchen, listening to the news of the day to bring on the flow of tears.

Of course, I laugh alot too. It's part of my divided nature. The tears are hard, the laughter is light. I laughed at times during The Queen, I laughed at I'm Your Man, I smiled thinking about all the great movies that Robert Altman made (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, the Long Goodbye, MASH, California Split). Right now I'm listening to a new release, Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Fillmore East in 1970 (they shared the bill with the Miles Davis Group and the Steve Miller Band), and their great music fills me with energy and joy.

Now, those times are gone (Danny Whitten died early on), and that was another era, but still the music sounds so good, so alive now...makes me smile...and tear up at the same time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I've Been Here Before

Yes, well, I'm reading Oswald Spengler, and it's slow going, I read and re-read passages. No, I'm not just reading passages, I'm trying to absorb them whole. Spengler's trying to look at culture and civilization with new eyes. And as a reader, I want to see what he sees, to understand what he understands. I don't just want to read the book, I want it to change me.Spengler talks of "destiny," of doing the possible, which he posits as what is necessary.

Yesterday, I watched the Leonard Cohen movie, "I'm Your Man," once again, this time at the family get-together. Something in Cohen resonates with me. I see him as a teacher, someone who has something to impart to me. I need to hear his Zen message.

I want to change everything in my life. I want to drop all preconceptions. I want to be different. I'm in the process of giving up, letting go, and trying to fill with other necessities. I'm completely at a loss. It feels very odd...but, I have been here before...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What I Seem to Be

What if Ahab would have given up on the whale? For one thing, it would have made for a shorter book. I'm not Ahab, but sometimes I see myself reflected in that character. My job is primarily chasing after deals. Much of my life I have been chasing after larger and larger deals. Kind of like chasing after shadows or dreams. After awhile it's just the chasing I remember. I've landed a few, but usually by the time you've brought the sucker into shore, it kind of resembles Hemingway's big fish in the Old Man and the Sea - all skeleton bones.

So, I saw a movie about Leonard Cohen, and the striking thing about him (besides his incredible catalog of songs and poetry), is his Buddhism, his Zen monk demeanor. There is a kind of sad fatalism in his eye, but at the same time a real joy at the absurdity of a life of struggle. Of course, all life is struggle. Is it possible to live fully without the struggle? Is it just another whale to chase? Another shadow, another dream?

And if you give up the struggle, if you let go, if you stop the needing, wanting, grasping, what then? So, the last few days I suffered a major defeat at my job. I have been driving hard on an opportunity and now, my enemies have taken the reins, they have undercut me, they have checkmated me. At first I raged. I tossed and turned, I fired off reasoned arguments, trying to retake the flag. All to naught. So, now I must resign myself to living without, to giving up, to letting go. I must find the Zen way...

It's difficult, it plays into my weakness, my fear of failure. Would Ahab have won if he had given up the chase? It seems so, his quest for the whale led to his doom. If he would have taken up a prayer mat, brewed some herbal tea and meditated on the great cloud of unknowing would he have been a winner? Are the only winners those who give up the game? I want off this wheel, but I fear it's built into my genetic code. How not to be what I seem to be?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christ

On March 4, 1966 John Lennon said this: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. ... We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first-rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

I don't know about more popular. But hell, the Beatles wrote better songs and got more chicks than Jesus any day.

In 1969 Lennon wrote the Ballad of John and Yoko with the following chorus: "Christ you know it ain't easy, You know how hard it can be. The way things are going, They're gonna crucify me."

Lennon is displaying a little "christ complex" here, methinks. I mean, we're all crucified by something.

At the moment, I feel crucified by my own contradictions. I had a sleepless night. Tossing and turning over silly business battles. At 4:30 a.m. I awoke to what I thought was a loud knock at the door. I laid awake in bed and started to compose an e-mail to my business cohorts.

I have this incredible sense of wanting JUSTICE! I hate when I am misquoted or misrepresented. I have to get the last word in. So, yes, I'm on this cross - the thorny cross of success and failure. I seem to be nailed to it, maybe I nailed myself to it. I want to get off the damn cross. I want to blow up the dichotomy...still...I heard the knock...I wrote the e-mail, I got the poison out of my system. Now I'm toasted...like a big, old slice of wheat bread...kind of crunchy, maybe not too tasty...you know it ain't easy...you know how hard it can be...the way things are going...hmmm, well... how about another tune?

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream,
It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void,
It is shining, it is shining.

That you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being

Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing

That ignorance and hate may mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing

But listen to the colour of your dreams
It is not living, it is not living

Or play the game "Existence" to the end
Of the beginning, of the beginning

John Lennon

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Path

"I didn't find the girl. I didn't get rich. Follow me." - L. Cohen

Monday, November 20, 2006

Germs

Hey, did you ever wake up with a cold, and think, well, at least I'm not alone? I mean, there are germs residing in your body, they are living organisms, yes, they sort of make you uncomfortable, but they look at you as a friendly host, they take up residence for awhile and go through a set routine. So, you have company, you have other realities manifesting themselves, inducing your bodily tissues to respond in new ways. And suddenly you have become a factory of phlegm and mucous...

There's also a new layer, a layer of distance from the world that comes with sickness...I guess you could call it the "sick layer" which gives everything a new feel. For instance, right now, I feel like I have a pillow in my head. A sort of soft and fluffy pillow that takes up space in my head which is usually just a ball of confusion. The world seems all a little more distant with this pillow-reality in my head. I'm thinking the germs have kind of put another layer of distance between me and the hard reality of my life...so, sickness is a companion, it has it's own agenda, but it's content to go through the motions of the day with me, as if it's interested in me and all the silly things I have to do as a human being. We all just have to do what we have to do - human and germ alike...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Carry On

How is it that a malicious, well-placed word can punture our little happy bubble of existence? A word is not a dart, or knife, or spear, or bullet, but sometimes all it takes is a word to do damage. I identify with the sensitive souls, those for whom sometimes the world and a word, is just too much. You come to understand that there are many, many people who do not wish you well. It's an important realisation, but you can't let it overwhelm you. There are also many people who just don't give a damn whether you live or die. There are also those who would miss you if you were hit by a truck tommorrow. It's a big world, with billions of human beings all doing their human being thing. It's a strange existence, and I guess, we all just need to make the world in our own image, or come to some happy co-existence, or rage into the night, or let it all pass, or, well, hopefully you don't have to harden yourself too much, because that hardening is kind of a deadening, and we are here to live, and I think it's best to use all that we have to use. So yes, a heightened sensitivity to the world, to the word is an important tool, it can come in handy, but then there's the wound, the sling, the arrow - we must take the blow, bind the wound, and carry on...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Quotes

"Mankind has no aim no, no idea, no plan, any more than the family of butterflies or orchids." - Spengler

"What's important in life is life and not a result of life." - Goethe

"I see world-history as a picture of endless formations and transformations, of the marvellous waxing and waning of organic forms." - Spengler

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Spy

What happens when you mix Eddie Fisher's sperm with Debbie Reynolds eggs? You get...Princess Leia Organa! Puts one in mind of someone sitting in an orgone box with big muffin-like mounds of hair sticking on each side, doesn't it? Well, maybe not.

Anyway, Ms. Organa is known as Carrie Fisher in another galaxy far, far away...a strange place called Hollywood. She has a new one-woman show about her life. Here's a line that sounded oh so true...

"I'm a spy in the house of me." - C. Fisher

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Wind

The wind is blowing out of the North today, 24 mph or more. I went for a run and the first half of the trip was directly into the wind. It was like running with a refrigerator tied to my leg. What an amazing power. The lake looked like a roiling sea, the water kind of slate-gray, with a greenish tinge. I ran past the beaches of Evanston, and there was a mini-sandstorm. Little grains of sand pelted my face...I felt like Lawrence of Suburbia!

The trip back was like having wings attached to my feet, or like having the hand of some god or devil kind of pushing me forward. There were times I felt I was gonna be blown off my feet. Now that's what we Chicagoans like to refer to as "The Hawk." There's nothing like a north wind blowing across the lake...so much wind kind of takes your breath away.

It felt great to complete the trek in one piece. There were only a few brave souls out on the path today. A small tribe of runners willing to take on the elements. Another day in the life.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spengler's Giving

I'm reading Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West...just started, already it puts me in a worldly frame of mind. We are citizens of nature, and of history. Cultures are too. Spengler talks about how a man is born, lives, dies, there's young age, old age, a lifetime. The same can be said for a culture. History is the meaning we derive from these natural events. Do we live in a personal world that lives and dies with us? Or are we part of a larger historical reality that spans centuries? If it's the latter, we transcend our humble bodies via our consciousness of this greater reality, and we can derive meanings from this world narrative. This gives us a sense of connection to things larger than us. This also points to a symbolic understanding of the events of the world. We can see ourselves as one player, cut off from the rest, with no greater purpose, except our natural function, or we can see ourselves as a historical characters, informed by events past and present, which enrapts us in a symbolic or metaphorical suit of armour. We can derive meanings from this greater reality, we can invest our humble world with these grand understandings. We can read history, and the world, like we read a poem; the more you give to it, the more you receive from it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Old Voices

Old voices are calling out to me this morning. Reading about comedy, Plato and Aristotle rear their hoary heads. Plato tells us that there is a metaphysical realm where perfect abstract forms exist. Reality is just a copy of a copy. Art and theater are then, copies, of copies, of copies - in Plato's retreat this is not a good thing. Aristotle takes a different tack. He tells us that art and theater help us reach a state of catharsis, a purification or cleansing through laughter or tears.

And then there's this: "The tears of the world are a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh."--Samuel Beckett

It's time to brew another pot of coffee...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Eliasson Haiku

The latest New Yorker has a profile of an Icelandic artist named Olafur Eliasson. He's a great fan of Robert Irwin and Lawrence Weschler's biography of Irwin, "Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees." I am too, it is one of those books that can change your life, change the way you look at the world. Elisasson was so inspired, he actually decided to follow in Irwin's footsteps. The whole article is worth a read, but these particular lines, which I kind of took out of context, really captured my imagination, the lines are almost a haiku or are at least in the spirit of a haiku:

How high is the water?
How deep are the trees?
In warm weather,
people could bring
their sandwiches here.
In winter,
they could ice-skate.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"I'm just doing it." - Y. Ono

Last morning at the Essex House...yesterday we walked over to the Dakota, it's kind of like going to Lourdes or Chartes, our secular saint (no, he was just a man, flaws and all, but that makes him even more admirable, right?) lived and died here...

Central Park was alive with people and fallen leaves...bikers, roller bladers (Watch me spin and twirl and skate backwards...Why do I do it? Because I can.), the human comedy in all it's vibrant glory.

We took the subway to Williamsburg, dined with friends...every meal has been a pleasure, it's all too much...can you have too much fun? This is the good life. But even as I'm in it, I question whether this is what I want...what is it little ole sunnyjimmy is looking for? Beats me...I'm just doing it...going through it...enjoying it too, but always questioning, wondering...

This morning in the NYT Sports Section (yes, words of wisdom in the sports section!) I read:

"True success is waking up every day realizing what a great life you have." - A. Quindlen

"It's what we do that determines who we are. It's not our past, it's our present." - J. Angelo

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The City

We went from Brooklyn to Manhattan. We're at the Essex House fronting Central Park. There's a TV channel in the room that gives you a panoramic view of the park. What an amazing resource. Olmstead was a visionary.

Last night we saw a Broadway show, Martin Short in his "Fame Becomes Me." It was superb, not a false note, very funny, a satire of one man shows (in Short's version, there's a full, very talented cast who help carry the show), poking fun at our celebrity culture, the burn-out and comeback saga of celebrity, TV talk shows, Broadway musicals, and the bloated ego-based culture celebrated in NY and Hollywood.

Anyway, we always do a lot of walking when we're in this town, we figured we must have walked about ten miles yesterday, from the Whitney to Times Square to the theater district and back and forth (this was after doing the trek back and forth over the Brooklyn Bridge). The endless waves of people, the ocean of energy from tourists, theater goers, hip-hoppers, music blaring, horns honking, a sea of humanity bursting from every nook and cranny, every street corner alive with every variety of human being. Kind of exhausting.

Today, a little less action, maybe hang out at the park, find a good restuarant. Dine with NY friends...it's the city life in all it's glory.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's Just There

Yesterday I ran the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the greatest things to do - I mean it's not hard, it's just an awe-inspiring experience. I mean, it's exhilarating, and inspiring, and unbelievable. First, the bridge itself is an amazing engineering feat. Plus the human labor and dedication (how many men died building it?), is mind-boggling. The human animal is the kind creature that says, "hey wouldn't it be cool to build a road from Brooklyn to Manhattan?" It must have seemed impossible, "wouldn't it be cool if we could sprout wings?" And then years of hard labor, and finally, it's there, it's just there, like an inevitable, essential element to the landscape. And then, finally, it's taken for granted, or just accepted, it's just there.

Coming to it new, (every time I come here, it's almost like the first time), it blows your mind again. So, yes, it's just a bridge, but it's also a symbol, and then it's a symbol that is a reality that you can actually run across, and the journey itself is a nice workout, but it's also an example of the human spirit, nothing will stop us if we really put our minds and muscles to the task. We will find a way to get to the other side!

So it was sunny, blue skies, and the bridge was alive, with people, kind of like a community of bridge people, tourists, runners, bikers, cops, pretty girls, punk rockers, moms with strollers, shoppers going from one town to the next. And there's a journey that we all share, a slow incline, you reach the high point, and then a slow decline. If you run it, you multiply it all by two. You rise above the city, the car traffic, you look down on the bustling metropolis, and then you slowly come back down to street level. Running the bridge...it's time in a life...it's a reminder of what life is...and then again, it's just a bridge...it's just there...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mac and Cheese

What's the line from Richard Farina, "I've been down so long, it looks like up to me?" There's a little of that feeling as the reality of the new political tide splashes across the land...one thing I've learned, democracy is messy, and inefficient, and oh so vunerable to the inducements of power and money, but once in awhile you get a glimmer, a breath of fresh air, that gets your adrenaline pumping, and you get filled with happiness and hope...but of course, you wonder if it could really be true, and well, when is the carpet going to be pulled out from under our feet? But, even with those doubts, it's good to see people kind of rise up and make a statement, even if it's basically "we've had enough, let's try something else."

I'm perched at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, enjoying the sights and sounds of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Here for an energy conference - "energy is eternal delight." Last night, the Lovely Carla and I dined with the Lovely Melissa and her husband at Sarita's, a restuarant that serves one thing, (in infinite varieties), macaroni and cheese. There's something to be said for doing one thing well. James Brown once talked about songwriting - something to the effect - take one good idea and run it to the ground.

Anyway, I'm guessing Manhattan is one of the few places where you can have a successful restuarant featuring one thing on the menu. I hear it's a trend - a place for french fries, a place for pickles, a place for rice pudding. There are major benefits to having such a hugely diverse concentration of people on one small island. Anything, and everyting goes...now that's a great, American-type beauty.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Election

I'm blogging from the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Kind of in a post-election haze...I have the TV on and the gloom from some of our highly-paid commentators is palpable...

Is Bush back on the sauce as of last night? Does Cheney look in the mirror this morning and say, "Maybe I am an asshole." George Allen is maccaca! Sometimes the news is good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Yes, well...Vote!

Yes, well, all power corrupts. Rust never sleeps. Revolution is not a dinner party. We get the government we deserve. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Waterboarding, it's not torture, it's entertainment!

Today we can vote the bums out...how about it?!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Eternal Waking

Somewhere around age 5, this realization came to me, whether I could really verbalize it or not:

"The world was a cheap and shoddy scam, a bad cover for something deeper and weirder and infinitely more strange." - Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is the writer of a series called "The Sandman." I haven't read it, but from what I can glean from accounts about the writer and his work, I think I can affirm that I have lived his concept of "eternal waking" -- "every time he thinks he is rousing from a dream, he has simply woken up in a new and different delusion from which he must again wake up, and so on into infinity."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Scar Tissue

Sometimes I drink to excess. William Blake in his Proverbs from Hell wrote that the "road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." It's important to be able to live to tell the tale. I have wondered if my binge drinking, (how many beers, glasses of wine, etc. can I consume, in the shortest time available?) has been some kind of search. Search for what? God? Nirvana? Oblivion?

Most of the time I live on a pretty straight edge. But, I have my moments, and when I indulge, I can't just dip my toe in the pond, oh no, I must plunge in head first, and hit bottom, and curl in a fetal position deep in the water, and see how long I can live without taking a breath. Sometimes I think it has to do with being a Catholic. But it's probably more or less encoded in my DNA. I come from a long line of broken men. Good men, but in some way broken too.

Anyway, I was reading Anthony Keidis' memoir, "Scar Tissue." Anthony for those who don't know him, is the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's a long, sordid book, (not exactly deep reading, I know, it's kind of like eating a bag of potato chips, kind of an unhealthy indulgence), a record in excruciating detail, of one man's life of debauch. Anthony has smoked, snorted, injected, inhaled, ingested every illicit drug known to man. I haven't read St. Augustine's "Confessions" but from what I've heard of it, Anthony's descent into hell sounds deeper and more complete.

Anthony, rose from very humble, and not very promising beginnings to become a fairly accomplished singer and songwriter for a very entertaining and enthusiastic, funk-punk-rock & roll outfit. I'm sure you've heard "The Bridge," and who could forget, "Party on Your Pussy!" ?? Anway, it turns out the book is sort of insipiring, just like I'm sure St. Augustine's account might be too (I never read the old Saint's account, but I'm pretty confident Anthony gives the same old story a nice contemporary update.)

Anyway, the bottom line, by the end of the book, Anthony is living alone in the Hollywood Hills, with a dog, and lot of empty rooms, but he's meditating, and working on the holy grail of recovery --- the twelve steps! You put the book down thinking, "I hope he makes it." Later you look in the mirror, and you think, "I hope I do too."

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Spider's Web

The twists and turns of a life...yes, we are like that spider spinning a shining golden web, and then we sit back and try to derive meaning in the pattern of the filaments. We create the world, or we are in collaboration with what we call world. It's a strange alchemy. The web has all the purpose and meaning we want to invest in it. It's really a simple formulation and sometimes so hard to do...

So, lately I have pulled back from the battle field, I took my own advice...let it come down...don't fight, don't resist, be humble. Smile and create. Create a new reality, a new web. I have been re-entangled, and it feels good. My little web-world is a replica of a greater universe...very much like the one all around us...but in my web, there's a lot of smiling and laughter, genuine, not sarcastic. This old spider has banished fear, leave it for another day...hell, everything is as it should be, I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Death of an Anthropologist

I read NYT obits once in awhile. Sometimes people you wish you had met turn up. Clifford Geertz, a Cultural Anthropologist died at 80 years old. A good, long, life, it seems.

I like this quote, it seems oh so true:

"Believing with Max Weber that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun..."

Yes, we are like the spider, spinning our own little worlds, and then we look around and try to derive meaning from the slender, near-invisible threads that surround us.

Is it a fool's game? Clifford concludes that antrhopology is "an excellent way, interesting, dismaying, useful and amusing, to expend a life."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Loner

One day sunny and warm, the next dark and brisk...the weather has such a changeable nature...it is our teacher.

So I'm a little stiff and feeling the Chicago chill, walking to the 7-11, I open the door, and well, there's Neil Young's voice, and the words of "The Loner," from his 1969 debut echo across the shelves and linoleum of the store.

"He's a perfect stranger, Like a cross of himself and a fox. He's a feeling arranger, And a changer of the ways he talks. He's the unforeseen danger, The keeper of the key to the locks. Know when you see him, Nothing can free him. Step aside, open wide, It's the loner."

I think, well, yes, he's singing my song...the loner is someone who feels most alone in the middle of a crowd...and I think of a young Neil Young, driving from Canada to Hollywood in a hearse, looking to make rock and roll history, oh those many years ago.

I leave the store, kick on down the alleyway, singing the song myself..."nothing can free him. Step aside, open wide, it's the loner." This is time-tripping - the most exquisite kind...and it feels so good.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Something Ain't Right

Sometimes you have to get out of your little aquarium to really see the strange world we've created. I'm on a little jaunt to Grand Rapids, Michigan, staying at a hotel in the shadow of the Gerald Ford Museum. How odd to see the glorification of a man known for occasionally bumping his head (also playing football without a helmt),and pardoning Nixon.

The Lovely Carla and I are on a business-based road trip. It's not often that I'm behind the wheel anymore. It's strange to see the artificial, pre-fab, car culture in full force. Grand Rapids seems to be a false-front city. It's drab and kind of creepy - corporate mall land.

There's very much a sense of "we don't belong here." This is America, but it's another America, not the one that I know and love. This has a distinctly Republican odor to it. Of money, of the hustle, the scam, an eerie Stepford-like optimisim that probably betrays some really dark, creepy reality. David Lynch excels in depicting this type of land.

Is it really so different than from where I come from? Yes, and no. I truly identify with a more gritty urban land, a place where the culture is, or pretends to be multi-cultural. It's times like these that you begin to realize that we still adhere to some kind of tribal identity. This seems to be one the centers of the tribe of Red State Capital, we're actually staying at a shrine to Amway...I can't wait to get back on the road, turn the cd player up loud and point our Dodge Charger homeward.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kick in the Pants

I went on an odd little excursion last evening. The Lovely Carla and I went to a restuarant with another couple. We are all basically contemporaries, although we all had so little to talk about...it was kind of depressing.

Yes, well, we could talk about the food. The Cafe is one of those new agey kind of health food places. Everything is organic, clean, vegan, it doesn't exactly taste all that good, but it's all so good for you. The kids who work there (yes, for me anyone in their twenties now looks like a kid), had their requisite nose rings, dread-locks, hemp belts, etc. Everyone was so gentle, and kind and, well, I guess, spacey and grounded at the same time.

I ate like a man who hasn't seen a meal in a week, everything from the brocoli-mushroom soup (pureed!), to the apple-brocoli-wheatgrass drink, the chicken-portobello sandwhich (don't worry - no chickens were harmed in the process!), to the mint chocolate cake (even the dessert seemed so good for me - if you know what I mean?!). It wasn't all that edifying, but it did fill me up.

Anyway, I felt like I had fallen in a glorious, rainbow-hued hole, and I just couldn't get out. The lack of connection with other people, especially our dinner companions, threw me into a state of consternation. It's a state very unlike Kansas, Toto!

The only saving grace? They were playing a CD on the stereo system, first cut to last, that transported me to another reality. It was Television's first album, the stark rock masterpiece, Marquee Moon released in 1977. The dark and beguiling Tom Verlaine singing edgy and strange songs, and trading beautiful electric guitars lines with Richard Lloyd. It was a blast of New York, of post punk underground music, and it was exhilarating. I don't think anyone at the table even noticed.

Here I was connecting with voices from another time and place...I was transported into another dimension...the guitar lines came to me like long-forgotten friends, Verlaine's voice, brittle and harsh, was like a siren song of an alternate reality. Sometimes you never feel so lonely as when you are with other people...and so connected to others not there, except in memory, or through sound waves, on a little spinning silver disc...now isn't that just a kick in the pants?!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Whew!

Whew! I just talked myself out of a major jam...I've been on a collision course, outnumbered, out-ranked, it was me traveling at full speed into what seemed to be an inpenetrable wall. I was on course to be crushed. I saw no way out...none...just bleak, black...failure.

Well, I live to fight another day. Somehow, some way, I turned on the charm, my gift of gab, came through. I think my male ancestral line, that long line of talkers, were cheering me on...shades of Smooth Connors! But, it was just one wall, one battle, one day, one conversation...I can only celebrate for a moment...that moment is already gone...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who Knows?

There's work, and then there's the good work. For me that means creative work, acting, writing, playing guitar, yes, even singing. I've been recording quite a bit lately. It's amazing what technology has wrought. With a computer, a microphone, some cables and instruments and presto-chango, you are master of your own little recording studio. What would Mozart and Beethoven have done with these kind of tools? Maybe they would be doing raps and mix tapes and sampling...then again... maybe not...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Good Medicine

I was feeling sort of lowly yesterday...I thought that maybe I have been a little too obsessively sober lately...so, I picked up a six pack of Guinness Stout, that magical, Irish brew and had a little kitchen rehearsal and singing session with my creative co-conspirators. It was a nice, theraputic get-together. Today, everything seems a little lighter, brighter...you must choose your medicine wisely, but choose it you must.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Behind

I've been running to catch up to the day today. Running to catch up to myself. I feel like I'm a few steps behind on everything...

It's a cold, cloudy day, kind of raw...this is the kind of day, you wake up and just hope you can make it to lunch. At lunch you start hoping you can make it to dinner, at dinner, you're thinking about making it til bedtime. When you plant your head in the pillow you just hope you can make it through the night without having one of those long, disturbing dreams that have haunted you lately. I think this is what's referred to as a "well-rounded existence."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday's Questions

1. To live without any fear whatsoever...is it courage or blind stupidity, or a combination thereof?
2. If I see connections that no one else sees, does that mean they don't exist?
3. If you're one of those who thinks everything "happens for a reason," and you don't know the reason, are you any better off than the person who thinks that everything happens because, well, because everything just happens?
4. Is it really that odd to think that we have descended from monkeys, and that we invented a great big all-powerful monkey figure who looks down on us and sometimes moves us around like little monkey chess pieces?
5. What's so hard about imagining the birds and the bees and the monkeys as spiritual beings too?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wisdom of the Witch

According to the Witches Almanac, (this info via the Lovely Carla): today is a day to "rest and watch." Who am I to defy the wisdom of the Witch?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lennon & Darwin?!

Beware the Utopians...the builders of utopias also sometimes are builders of prisons too. Where else to put those who don't see themselves in another's dream?

The best dreamers are those who stick to the realm of dreams. As soon as those dreams are made reality, well, shit, it seems all hell breaks loose.

As I've grown older, I have begun to respect those with small plans, those who refuse to impose their visions upon others. J. Lennon imagined a world without a heaven, without a hell: "God is a concept by which we measure our pain." He sang about a better world, but he was a citizen of this one.

Darwin saw the same world: "We thus learn that man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in it's habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World."

Lennon: "Everyone's got something to hide, except for me and my monkey."

Darwin: "Our descent then, is the origin of our evil passions! The Devil under form of Baboon is our grandfather!"

Lennon and Darwin, they were dreamers, but they always kept their feet on the ground...their eyes on the world around them...for some reason I'm thinking Lennon was a Darwinist...he wasn't a utopian...he was just a smart rock & roll monkey!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Cowboy

It's my birthday today...it's an odd thing, thinking about the world before I was here, all those many billions of years, no sunny jimmy, no dumps either. But I've been here for awhile now, walking around on this spinning rock, some times I've actually been conscious and aware, a lot of the time I've been sleeping, or inebriated, or crazy with hormones. Today I feel fully alive and awake. The air is brisk, dead leaves are everywhere, the wind is out of the north, the lake is choppy and full of action.

I put on a shirt today, it's kind of a cowboy shirt, I just grabbed it said out loud to myself, "I want to be a cowboy." Then I thought about how being a cowboy was probably one of the first things I "wanted to be." There's a family picture of me, on one of my early birthdays, with a cowboy, a six-gun, perched atop a rocking horse, a big shit-eating grin breaking across my face. I was quite well outfitted. Just to make sure the sunny/dumps dichotomy was in force early on, I also wanted to be an Indian and I remember being on a trip out to Colorado on a family vacation and I ended up with a full Indian headdress which I wore proudly, yellow and green feathers blowing in the wind, I was probably practicing my Indian love call. Of course, on the road trip, that headdress ended up flying out the window of our speeding car...I probably cried over it, realizing my Indian days were over.

There's lots of things I've wanted to be: Cowboy, Indian, Baseball player, Football Player, Basketball Player, Rock Star, Holy Man. I tried my hand at some of these, I can't say any of them really worked out. I'm just me, here, now, wearing my cowboy shirt, thinking about what could have been, what could be...thinking I'm one year closer to something, one year farther from something...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

CBGB is Dead

No, instead, it's being dismantled and shipped to Vegas...I'm looking forward to the the Joey Ramone wedding chapel...

I never went to CBGBs but I listened to bands that made a mark there, the Talking Heads, the Ramones, the Patti Smith Group, Television. I saw the Ramones and Patti Smith when they made their trek across the heartland. These bands were so cool, so New York, tough, and poetic in a basic rock and roll way, and they were supremely democratic too...

They came from the streets...they were city folk who liked to bash away on electric guitars...

Here's Patti Smith, who played the last two sets on the last night of CBGBs:

"Kids they'll find a place that nobody wants, and you got one guy who believes in you, and you just do your thing. And anybody can do that, anywhere in the world, any time."

This sounds like a credo to live by.

And then this:

"WHAT REMAINS IS FUTURE." - P. Smith

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Divided

We are divided beings...or at least that's how it seems, or maybe it's just an easy way for our brains to hash things out. There's a this and a that...this isn't that...and by looking, comparing, discriminating between the two, maybe we figure something out.

So we say we are body and mind...meat and spirit...it sure feels like that sometimes, although mind seems to be a product of body, spirit kind of hovers over meat...we can measure the meat, we can't really see the spirit, although, of course you can; watch people on an EL platform, or on the street, you can see some people animated by something, you can see others who look like dead men walking...to me that's spirit coming out in spades.

So we have this body, we lug this meat around and then we wonder, "what happens when the meat stops moving?" Does spirit take flight? Are there other realms? Are the string theorists full of shit? Are there actually a multitude of universes? If so, what's happening there? Do they have MTV? Are there creatures with divided natures, or with dividing minds working overtime there too?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sea Change

I took a day off...listening to Beck's "Sea Change," (by god, he almost sounds like a hipster Gordon Lightfoot), Laura Nyro (what an amazing voice, soulful, joyful, really overpowering) and Sparklehorse (kind of edgy, moody, I hear a little bit of Yo Lo Tengo). Three discs on random means one long, rambling album that jumps from mood to mood. Perfect for a cloudy, rainy day in Chicago. I'm still trying to play things close to the vest. I actually took the day off so I didn't have to talk to anyone at work. I have tried to set some things in motion that could radically change the playing field. What the hell do I think I'm doing?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Crazy Horse Died for Your Sins

Is the world of humanity getting progressively crazier, or has it always been so? I think it's hard to tell, especially since those doing the "deciding" are crazy too.

I don't wish to be a member of a club that will have me as a member, but of course, that just means that I'm a member of a club of those who don't want to be members of a club.

If you're not crazy, you start to realize that you are crazy, which means you're not crazy because you know you are. Please check out Yossarian in Catch 22 for a much better examination of this conundrum.

I find the internet to be this amazingly useful tool. I also spend an inordinate amount of time in a virtual world of information. Much of it is seemingly useless, or even, basically disinformation, intentionally misleading or false information. Some of this is for the purpose of entertainment, some of it is actively intended to deceive or obscure.

We have developed this incredible tool that makes us more connected, but which at the same time shows us how disconnected, or unconnected many of us are. Lately, I've felt like a "fractured" being...in some ways I feel like I'm mirroring the world I connect to. Connecting to a fractured world makes one feel more fractured. Would unconnecting make one less fractured, more connected to something else?

To embrace or retreat from the world? To do both each and every day?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Beautiful Obsession

Every once in a while I get a bee in my bonnet, and well, I just can't get the sucker out...lately battles on the work front have led me down some strange hallways, and then I get a notion in my head, and I just worry over it like a dog with a bone. Times like these, I don't really sleep so good. This is how to break someone. I get this strange, edgy sensation that starts at my fingertips and goes all the way to my addled brain.

Anyway, there's some interesting radio shows at 5:00 a.m. One is called "Speaking of Faith," and another is called, "Beautiful Obsession." Or no, now that I think of it, it might be called "Strange Obssession." It's a show about recovering druggies and alchoholics...it's interesting to hear how some people totally destroy their lives drinking and doing drugs...maybe it works for rock stars, but the average joe is looking at bankruptcy, living out of your car, alienating your kids, destroying your marriage, etc. The show is basically people who tell their tale of woe, but who have now pulled out of it...they are on the road to recovery...

So, this is a long, round-about way of saying my latest "beautiful obsession" is music. Everything music. I've been buying Guitar Player and Guitar World magazines every month for months now. I can tell you the history of David Gilmour's stage setup, I can tell you the secrets of Tom Morello's wild guitar sounds, I can list Peter Frampton's key recording techniques, I can tell you how many guitar players Axl Rose has tried out and pissed off...instead of porn, I pour over the lovely curves of Les Pauls, Fender Strats, and old, collectible Danelectros.

Yesterday, I stepped over a line, I opened a door deeper into the obsession, where will it lead me next? I actually bought a copy of Bass Guitar...what's next Microphone Almanac, Cymbal World, Mallet World, Organ Player, Drumstick Review, Organ Grinder, Pet My Monkey?!?

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