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Monday, July 31, 2006

Feed the Monkey

The Lovely Carla yesterday: "whatever it takes to feed the monkey." Indeed...

So, lately my favorite band is an outfit from L.A., now defunct, Rage Against the Machine (nothing like truth in advertising!). Not that I missed them the first time around, but lately, I've been spinning "The Battle for Los Angeles," over and over, and the pure, bone-crushing drums, the throbbing bass, Tom Morello's unique, avant garde approach to the electric guitar and Zach De La Rocha's raps on oppression and resistance, really ring the monkey's bell...thanks to the wonderous YouTube (instant fame three minutes at a crack!), you can view RATM in all their raucous glory (Morello and De La Rocha are human pogo sticks!), so anyway, my order from Amazon just arrived, a biography of Timothy Leary, and two more RATM discs...

Rage indeed...the world scene demands it...at the same time, it's all so damn ridiculous and heart-breaking, as Bill Montgomery over at Whiskey Bar puts it: "Welcome to the 'new' Middle East -- the geopolitical equivalent of the 'new' Coke. The recipe may be different, but it still tastes like blood." Yes, no sense in taking sides in a fight between lunatics...only adds to the madness...

I know a group like Hezbollah would probably be happy to have my head on a stick, but as I like to say, "one man's terrorist, is another's freedom fighter." It depends on which man or woman you happen to be...so what's a pilgrim to do? An accurate reading of the world scene seems to demand cynicism, sarcasm...how not to succumb? Rage...but, no it isn't enough...action? Anything one man chooses seems so miniscule, so ineffectual...become philosophical? Kind of a "cop out?" Leary once said, "tune in, turn on, drop out." But so much of the drug revolution proved to be a bran-numbing dead end...the beast actually thrives on a drug addled, consumer-crazed, populace...is it enough to note that we are in the belly of the beast, but we are not the beast? No, prrobably not...there's rage, but no refuge...where is the love???

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Does Anyone Remember Laughter...?

What to do on a hot, muggy Chicago evening? Go to the movies! The Lovely Carla and I went to the Gene Siskel Film Center (the classiest movie theater experience in the City) last night and time-tripped back to 1957, to watch Frank Tashlin's satiric masterpiece, "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" What a great, funny, insightful, ridiculous, glorious film. Perfect. It stars (improbably) Tony Randall, who tackles the role of his career. Strangely the Siskel center was packed, (usually the Lovely C. and I find ourselves with the theater virtually to ourselves, maybe a film student or two, a guy with a beret, a bag lady, and a few disheveled lonesters), and the audience ate the movie up like a tasty box of salty, butter-laden popcorn. A spot-on comedy where the laughs come in raucous bunches. It's timeless and a product of it's time, (it's about the Ad business on Madison Av. in New York, a distant land, circa the Eisenhower era, when the American Empire was at it's pinnacle of materialistic, consumer mad, success-obsessed, glory.) Jayne Mansfield playing a character based on Marilyn Monroe is a revelation, in all her busty, lusty, curvaceous splendor. Anyway, the movie is about the absurdly capricious road to success (Ad Execs lusting after the golden key to the executive washroom!). It also shows us that the material, ad-based, pop culture machine that was really revving up in the 50's and is now in it's apotheosis stage, is all a ridiculous, hollow hoax (Oh we do so love our gadgets!). Who's picture of success are we willing to give our lives up for? What to make of it all? Laugh your ass off as Tony Randall prances around his office lair! Did I mention Groucho Marx makes a cameo! We're even left with an uplifting moral to the story: "success is the art of being happy." Thank you Frank Tashlin...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cuckoo Cloud Land

I'm a major Philip Dick fan, he of the many simultaneous, alternate realities...I came across a phrase this morning (in the context of the Middle East conflagration) and it seems appropriate for a few of the realities I find myself in at the moment...Cuckoo Cloud Land...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

See the Reptile Jump!

"Horror, like comedy, has always been something of a reptilian-brain endeavor, unusual among the arts insofar as it is successful only when it is able to produce a single, audible emotional effect - a scream or a laugh - that is primal, cathartic and difficult to understand." - J. Hodgeman

I guess this is what we'd call appealing to the baser instincts...

Now what if you had a government, or many governments employing this same reptilian-brain pleasing technique...? Oh yeah, that might explain an awful lot of what we read in our newspapers, see on our TV screens...we can be so damn smart, except when we're so damn reptilian...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Makes Life Fun

Every morning I surf the blogs, heavy on politics, on Sundays I also usually buy a NY Times. Yesterday I was a little reluctant. If I buy it, I'm compelled to read it, and lately the news has been weighing heavy on the psyche...but I bought a copy anyway, thinking it's my responsibility to see what's up with the world, at least according to the MSM...

After, paging through the Week in Review (really the whole week, and everything important too?), I jumped to the Arts section to find "The Return of the Dolls, What's Left of Them." Excellent news, the New York Dolls (at least two of the survivors) are back with a new album...

I actually saw the legendary New York Dolls back in 1974 or '75 on tour with Aerosmith (new band out of Boston) and Mott the Hoople (I think Ian Hunter's shades were affixed to his face with superglue). It was my first exposure to the actual embodiment of the concept "transvestite," I remember David Johanssen clomping around in these unruly high heels, rocking out like combination of Little Richard, Mick Jagger and Carol Burnett...

Anyway, for every "bad" news story, I'm searching for a "good" one. This article is a good one. The Dolls have a new song, "Dance Like a Monkey" - "evolution is so obsolete, got to stomp your hands and clap your feet." And just why does David keep at it? "I mean, I have my ideas about music and rock and roll and all that kind of stuff...I don't know if it's actually necessary for the species, but it sure makes life fun."

That's good enough for me too...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Death Spiral

It is amazing to see how quickly and easily people (singly and in groups) will resort to violence to solve any problem...many times it seems it is the first resort, not the last (do people really enjoy death and destruction?). It seems that it is easier to kill your enemies (which considering the birth explosion inevitably, multiplies the enemies), than to actually (heaven forbid!), talk to them. This seems to betray a hatred for life...life is sometimes complicated, there seems to be many realities all competing with each other, which makes the world messy and sometimes unfulfilling...so by killing, eliminating alternate views, I guess there are those who think this will make the world a simpler, and more fulfilling place. The Killing Ground...it really does seem so damn misguided...Yoko Ono: "do not attack, do not defend"...(sounds impossible?)...how about "love thine enemies?" Love may be the anwser, but what the hell is the question?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Words

I must admit, I have a very strange job...communication is my currency...some days I'm on the phone constantly talking to people coast to coast. Add in all the e-mailing I do, and you could probably draw invisible lines all over this continent representing the little thought trails that emanate out from my caffiene-saturated, supremely-befuddled consciousness...

Sometimes, it's amazing what a well-placed word can do...bring a hot situation to a cool resolution, send money streaking from one bank account to another...open someone's head to a new concept - energy efficiency...(whoa! who would of thunk it?!)...

Other times, it's amazing how little I seem to accomplish...leaving messages in someone's voicemail...messages never to be answered, maybe quickly deleted as if they never existed in the first place...sending e-mails out into a cruel, uncaring world, messages in bottles floating off into a roiling sea of indifference...my words floating out into the world, no substance, finding no purchase, no home...

Same job, different days...I can do this all from my little home office...and then those days where nothing comes back my way, no response, no echo, I feel like I could fall off the face of the earth and no-one would notice...this is my life...strange...it all comes down to words...sometimes I can conjure up something with my words, sometimes I can't...there's no telling from one day to the next...odd that, don't you think?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Feels Like Forever

You've got to love nature, our mother, for she is a changable phenomenon, she is unpredictable, although there are certain patterns and cycles that serve as signposts along the way. It's been ungodly hot lately. I'm not one to complain about the weather, the weather just is, it's beyond our control, it's just something we must contend with, and there are other things that we can control (or at least it seems so) and it's best to concentrate on the things we can do when we can do them. Or something like that...

Anyway, this is all a round about way of saying, hey, it's raining outside! And it feels so right. Black clouds and thunder, I wandered out to get a paper and the big drops of rain joyously pelted me with their sloppy wetness. I got soaked from stem to stern and I luxuriated in it. I'm now sitting in a coffee shop, sipping an iced drink, listening to some latin jazz, connected to the web via free wifi, typing into my little laptop like I have something to say...

Sometimes I write just because I can...maybe that's reason enough...and it feels like it's always been cloudy, the rain has always been falling, my shirt has always been wet and clinging to my skin...it seems like always but it will all change soon, and then something else will feel like forever...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fripperies: A Guitarist Speaks

O.K. it's not the Buddha's sevenfold path, (sunny jimmy says: kill your god, adopt a dog), but I found this little write up quite stimulating. This about the practice of craft, from old King Crimson guitarist R. Fripp. I'm thinking you can apply it to the craft of anything, living included:

1. Act from principle
2. Begin where you are
3. Define your aim simply, clearly and briefly
4. Establish the possible, and move gradually to the impossible
5. Honor necessity
6. Honor sufficiency
7. Offer no violence
8. Suffer cheerfully
9. Work, but not solemnly
10. Without commitment, all the rules change

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Demon

Not so damn enlightened this morning...the heat kind of puts an edge on everything...more madness from the radio waves...what's up with the human race? Are we just stupid? If you are a pessimist, you will be rewarded every day with an embarassment of riches, if you are an optimist, you have to work a little harder to find any gold...

If you're working in the creative sphere, everything is fodder for your black arts...the Lovely Carla tells me she is convinced there is a devil in me...(he comes out into open in full force after a few drinks)...I know what she means, there's a madness in me...a strange gleam in my eye that even puts me off...but of course, it's the little demon who I turn to for creative inspiration...cynicism, sarcasm, black humor - these are all great tools...the creative realm is where I can let my demon loose, sunny and dark get to cavort together to unleash a crazed alchemy...

This is kind of a revelation for me...(I mean, I've been working this way for years, just never really, explicitly laid it down for myself like this)...it's the play of light and dark that make it all worthwhile...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Divided

I was at a dinner last night with the Lovely Carla and one of our spiritual mentors...someone who has been instrumental in opening up the meditative landscape to us...it was a delightful night, at a little Pan-Asian restuarant on Broadway, near Belmont. The city was alive with sound and light, people and action. We live in an incredible place at an incredible time...

We talked of the madness of the world, the beauty and potential too...my favorite line of thought from the night: we live on multiple levels always, for instance: we are the dreamer in bed, we are the actor in the dream, we are watching ourselves in the dream acting. This is very much a line of thinking I've been obsessesed with over the years. This dream logic can be applied to our waking state, we are alive, we are an actor in the "real world," we are watching ourselves as we act...we are divided...

Within these divisions we struggle to live a life of integrity, wholeness, health, growth...creativity...at the same time, we are seeking a clear-eyed view of the reality around us, and much of what we see is darkness, death, pain and suffering... how best to live in this strange world of good and evil?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Blessing and A Curse

The last few days have been really hot and humid in Chicago...I used to love the heat, but over the years my melting point seems to have become easier to breach...still, I've been running in this heat, it's a great way to remind one of the primacy of the body, nothing like sweating, huffing and puffing to prove to oneself that you are still alive...and to prove there are limits to what a body can and can't do...(like I really need to prove it!).

After a head-spinning, ecstatically exhausting jaunt on the lakefront I sat in my cool kitchen, chomping on a cheese sandwich, and listened to Patterson Hood of the Drive By Truckers singing how, "it's gonna be a world of hurt..." he goes on to explain that "to love, is to feel pain..." I guess I'm with Patterson on this one (lately I've been getting my best philosophical insights from the rock and rollers)...but of course, he ends his song with the line, "it's great to be alive..." Ain't it the truth!

And there you have it, the exquisite contradictions of our meager little lives...the only life worth living is a life of love, to love is to feel pain, it's gonna be a world of hurt...and (the kicker)... IT'S GREAT TO BE ALIVE!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Less

So much of the world seems to be aflame with rage, hatred, racism...whatever outrage you can imagine, will at some time be visited upon one human being by another human being...makes you wonder about human beings...it's amazing and absurd what people will kill and die for: their version of god, their little plot of land, their particular version of a flag, ancient grudges, perceived slights, blood oaths, you name it, all of this and more will be used as justification for pain and death and suffering. You can't ignore it, you can't let it destroy you, you can't pretend that you're above it all (this is sunny's preserve)...in the face of the atrocities all we can do is point to other realities: beauty, love, compassion, humility...in some ways it's such a meager list, but it's all we have to try to pull ourselves together. I've got no answers, I'm trying to do my part to not make the world a harder place than it already is...utimately we are beings equipped with both the love and the hatred, if there is good in the world it resides in us, if there is evil in the world it resides in us, we can live with both, we can try to restrain ourselves, we can see ourselves in the other; those looking back at us with eyes filled with pain and fear, the powerful and the weak...we can strive to be more, or less, the world is so full of the less...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Greatest Movement...

Rembrandt is 400 years old today...of course, many of those years his body has just been mouldering in the grave, but Rembrandt the artist has been in our collective consciousness oh these many years, because some of his paintings have made a deep impression on many peoples of many cultures...I'm not the greatest student of art, but I know what I like, or what moves me, and Rembrandt's touch is unmistakable, no one quite captures what he captures...(kind of like Keith Richards in that regard).

As I get older, and just a reminder, all of us are getting older (alas, we're all on the same merry go round), at least in the physical realm, (a case can be made, and I'm ready to go with it hook, line and sinker, that we are more than our bodies, we have something, or are something, that transcends the physicality of our bodies - consciousness itself seems to be a good example - although what happens to that consciousness when our bodies melt into the ground is anybody's guess) but maybe it's that case that some of us can grow younger as we grow older, in some kind of spiritual sense - Dylan's phrase: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

What's really striking about Rembrandt, besides his unworldy attention to, and exquisite rendering of light, is his honesty in depicting the disintegration of the flesh. He is known to have used the phrase: "the greatest and most natural movement." No one exactly knows what he meant, but look at one of his canvasses, especially his series of self-portraits, and watch the trajectory of a life, a man from young to old, and I think we get a strong hint of what he was going for. There is no sin in growing old, in fact, in many ways, it only happens to the lucky ones. See the daily newspaper for a chronicle of the unlucky.

If we can face the truth of age with clear-sighted honesty, maybe we can see beauty in the decay, a nobility in the lines and creases, a story in the scars and folds of a face collapsing upon itself. It is natural, it is only the greatest movement...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Can't Make Up My Mind...

Sometimes we are just passing the time, and sometimes the time is just passing us. Either way there seems to be some forward movement, or maybe it's circular, or maybe it's all an illusion...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dancing!

I must admit I've had some gnarly times lately, where the world is all hard edges and bristly quills. When the bad times predominate, there's a point where you begin to think that's how it will always be, you don't see any light at the end of the tunnel, hell you don't even see a tunnel, just darkness.

Well, I'm happy to report that the last few days have turned in a new direction. Yesterday the thought that came to me..."sometimes the day carresses you." Yes, it was a carressing kind of day. It was like all the tumblers clicked into place and suddenly I had the key to open any lock.

It's been like that for a few days consecutively...what you forget sometimes and what I was reminded of, it's best just to do, to act, to be, don't "try" to say something, just say it...do it, etc. It's a simple thing, but sometimes not the easiest thing to do...it's like we're in this extended tango with the universe, sometimes our feet just move to the tune without hesitation, sometimes we're clunky and flat-footed; the key...JUST KEEP DANCING!

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Snack

I went to this power breakfast yesterday with movers and shakers in the energy industry. Now little sunny is not a mover or shaker, no just a hold on tighter and hope not to fall off-er, and everything went fine, no visions of apocalypse. It's strange we spend a lot of time thinking about what will be, and then, what is, turns out to be so different. What a waste of psychic energy. I showed up, paid attention, told the truth, wasn't attached to outcome. It seemed to go well. I was kind of on a high the rest of the day, thinking that maybe my luck has changed for the better. I've been getting advice from many unlikely sources things like: listen to god, let things come and go, have a love affair with your life, be a man. I decided not to be so recalcitrant, no resistance, just take everything in and let it pass, kind of like a good meal...hmmm, here's a delightful little universe...put it on a cracker, add a little seasoning, yum, yum...tasty and so nutritious!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Cooties

I'm vacationing this week, but events have conspired against lazy, summer, bliss and I find myself up before the crack of dawn preparing for a strange, off the cuff, sunny-orchestrated, power breakfast with two dinosaurs from the energy business. This in the shadow of Ken Lay's untimely exit. What the hell am I doing? I've been on a bad streak lately, having difficulties in my communication space, so to say. It seems I'm making enemies left and right and all I'm doing is walking the walk. It seems the world is tilted in one direction and I'm full tilt in the other. On the one hand, I'm thinking I'm stepping into a possible combustible situation, one that I choreographed, (I've got no one to blame but me), on the other, I'm kind of interested to see if the sparks fly, the walls crack, and the sidewalks really do open to the flaming gates of hell. What a tangled web we weave...

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