Election 2020

Election 2020
Gaseous Little Baby Man Dirigible Implodes!

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Shapes of Things

Awhile back I read an article about Tom Stoppard and his play, "Rock & Roll." He mentioned that at one point he considered writing about Syd Barrett, the great, lost frontman of early Pink Floyd. It kind of spurred my interest in Barrett too. So I ordered up a copy of "Crazy Diamond Syd Barrett & the Dawn of Pink Floyd." It's a very good bio of a baffling person. Barrett was a charismatic dude, an artist and musician, very witty, literate and experimental. After bursting on the scene with the first Floyd disc, "Pipers at the Gates of Dawn," Barrett totally spun out. He had a breakdown, no one was sure if it was the drugs, over-indulgence of mind altering substances, or just plain "mental illness" (whatever that is) that did him in.

Barrett, unlike Hendrix, and Brian Jones, did not check out of this earthly realm too soon, but instead retreated to his mother's house and lived a long reclusive existence, pretty much disassociating himself from his earlier persona. Syd was not his given name, it was actually Roger, and when fans would track him down and say "Hi Syd," he'd reply, "Syd's not here."

Anyway, it's one of those strange, artistic deaths, one wonders if Barrett was just too sensitive, too precious for this world, or was he just a drug casualty who burned out, and really, was turning away from music, fame and fortune the best thing for Roger Barrett in the long run?

Was the great promise of his early work an over-hyped chimera, or a just a glimmer a hint of great things to come that never did? That's sort of the mystery of the man. There's a cult built up around the "Crazy Diamond," and some people compare him to Rimbaud and Van Gogh - although, Syd kept both ears firmly attached until the end.

Barrett died July 7, 2006. At his funeral, a passage from one of Roger's favorite children's books "The Little Grey Men," was read. I'm thinking it's a useful instruction and well, a good epitaph for us all...

"The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts."

And you know, even if Roger stopped the writing and singing...I don't think he ever stopped seeing, and maybe there's eloquence in the silence too.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Love All Around

Our band, WWSP (minus our dazzling bass player Sara), played the Elbo Room last night. We were the openers on a 5 band bill. Maybe it was because of the holidays or because it was a Saturday, or maybe the stars just aligned, but many of our friends and family came out to see us. It was such a rewarding experience. I thought we put on a really tight, high-energy set (even though at one point I stepped on my guitar cable and unplugged in the middle of a song - which actually added to the drama, and our great drummer Sanjay filled the resulting sonic void with some great drum and cymbal work).

We stayed out quite late, in fact, we stayed for the whole show watched all the other bands too. It was all so exhilarating. I should be exhausted, but no, I'm fired up today, listening to Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible." Check out this cool link! At first listen the new disc didn't bowl me over, like their first disc "Funeral," did, but on repeated listens, it is really starting to grow on me. I really love that band. I love ours too.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

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

Wow. Back to politics for a moment. Check out this post from Lambert. I found it linked by Paul Krugman. Succintly explains how Americans have bought into the Billionaires game for the last 30 years or so. It has always been amazing to me how these elite rich folk have successfully glorified themselves, (a small, powerful, group that control the corporations and the political parties) and demonized the rest of us, the poor, the disenfranchised, the average working stiffs, anyone who isn't in the millionaires or billionaires club, and/or anyone who isn't lionizing them and wanting to be just like them. I mean don't we all want to learn all the great knowledge Donald fucking Trump can teach us? Certainly he has some secrets about hair-care that he can impart to us!

I mean, I guess we all want to be a millionaires, or billionaires, how many of us want to be on welfare or unemployment, how many of us feel solidarity with the dude asking for change on the corner? I for one, have always felt empathy for the "have nots," my motto has always been, "there but for the grace of god go I." I almost always want to bet on the underdog. I guess it kind of came out of the tradition of my family, working people, Democrats, FDR was a saint. Working stiffs, always striving for more, but just getting by really. And well, there's something noble about that too. And I don't think it's fucking class envy, but I have always been suspicious of the elite money. You know they wouldn't be where they are if it wasn't for all the "common folk" who bought their fucking products or services or whatever. They wouldn't fucking be rich, if it wasn't for all the other people in the world who did their jobs or bought their shit, or paid their taxes so we could even have a country to make profits in.


Anyway, it's a great post. I do think our politics have been driving economics and it really should be the other way around. We have gone off the rails, and as per some enlightened friends I know, maybe it really will have to get even worse before it can get better, but I'm hoping we can use the 2008 election to start some kind of change of consciousness. So which millionaire running for office is gonna look out for the little guy? Who knows? I mean, "why a duck?" Krugman's analysis of Obama's rhetoric seems spot on. We do need a fucking fighter. Someone ready to go to the mat. Lambert gives it all context. Brilliant.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"I must above all things love myself..." - Nick Cave

Good consumers that we are, the Lovely Carla and I purchased a couple of music discs for Christmas. I think it was more of a Winter Solstice celebration really, because, come on, that whole virgin birth thing with the Immaculate Conception, the farm animals in the little manger, and the three wise guys bullshit, just sort of leaves me stone cold sober.

I came across Nick Cave's band Grinderman and their disc called, surprise, surprise, "Grinderman." There's a picture of a monkey on the cover, a little organ grinder type monkey. It's a perfect image to introduce you to the music on the little spinning disc. I'm thinking Nick is projecting himself onto that monkey, and in fact, I think he's projecting for all of us. We are all like that little organ grinder monkey, dancing to nature's unforgiving tune!

Here's a live version of Cave's "No Pussy Blues." All in all, it's a funny, raging little ditty. It's got a good beat, you can probably dance to it too! You know how to dance don't you...?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Robert and the Blue Glow

All the buzz was about the Led Zep reunion. And from the clips on YouTube it sure looked like Page, Plant, Jones and the newest version of Bonham did an admirable job of playing rock gods. But then the news came that Plant was not planning on touring with the rest of the boys anytime soon. Instead, he was going out on the road with the bluegrass fiddler, Alison Krauss.

Sort of baffling, until you actually hear their collaboration together on their superb new disc, "Raising Sand." It's a really unlikely and totally captivating melding of talents. T-Bone Burnett produced, he was the man responsible for putting the "O Brother Where Art Thou" disc together. T-Bone has assembled a great band to back the two vocalists. It's a disc of covers. And there's not a false note. From the first listen, I was totally knocked out. So, as Plant himself writes, "Gratitude to T-Bone and the Blue Glow (Krauss) who steered an old dog to new tricks."

The world clamors for Zep, and instead Plant goes on the road with the girl. Now in my book that is so cool!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Julien Schnabel is an inspiring, visionary artist. His latest film is so beautiful, so powerful, so devastating. I mean that in the best way possible.

Seeing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,""is an indelible experience. Words fail me. It's the best example of what film can do to us. The imagery washes over you and you ask yourself, "what is a life?"

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"This Car Available"

Hey, well, check it out, the little band that the Lovely Carla and I started, WWSP, has finally entered the world of digital downloads. Our new release, "This Car Available," can now be purchased over at Whitewolfsonicprincess (wwsp) - This Car Available I've also added a permanent link on the right for future reference. We've been working on these songs for the last year or so, writing and recording them in our little home studio. It has been a labor of love.

"This Car Available" is made up of thirteen songs. The album represents a rewarding and unique collaboration, and a melding of minds. It's been a real blast to make these sounds. This is just a first step for us. We've been working with two other musicians, Sara on bass and Sanjay on drums and we are honing a unique live sound. We've done a number of shows in and around Chicago, playing some great rooms like Uncommon Ground, the Elbo Room, the Red Line Tap, Sylvies, the Skylark. And we plan on booking many more shows in the coming new year.

We hope to have a CD release party in early 2008. Anyway, it's kind of cool to be out in the ether, on iTunes with all those other great artists from Elvis to Elvis! One small step for a human, one great step for a band!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Corporation has No Soul

One of our big problems is that many of us have signed our lives over to corporations, directly and indirectly. The purpose of setting up a corporation is to "limit liability" for the individuals who start the thing. As we all know people working together in groups can do amazing things, but when these groups become huge, multi-national entities, it is hard to hold them accountable to anything. Their core purpose is to maximize profits at all costs. That's the beauty of capitalism. This is not necessarily a soulful way to live, or to run an organization, or anything else really. In fact, its kind of a dead, zombie-like existence, a soulless way of life that goes on even as the people come and go. The people, the "worker bees," kind of adopt a "hive mentality" focusing on their little job, never looking at the bigger implications of what they do, and what the entity does with all their expended energy. The investors, the shareholders count their pennies and are happy they can buy all the shit they really don't need.

So we feed these mega-beasts and the beasts devour everything in their path. For instance, all the remaining resources on the planet will be devoured, if these corporate beasts are given enough time. We have built an extreme group of national and multi-national Terminators, large, killer-robot-like entities that make all kinds of things, some cool, some stupid, all of it probably not so necessary, but anyway it's the stuff we can never get enough of, and well, if we choke the planet with this stuff, drown ourselves in mountains of this stuff, hopefully we will be stupidly and happily sated, but probably not.

So, yeah, a corporation has no soul. Even the ones telling us they do, even the ones with the great and cool ad campaigns that show us how enlightened and brilliant they are, and even the ones with the cool logos that everyone wants on their shoes and pants, and shirts, and well, maybe some of us will even start tattooing ourselves with those same logos and well, it probably makes us less human and more zombie-like and maybe that's really the goal anyway. We can't live forever, but our corporate Terminators can, or that's maybe our secret wish, but the zombie needs to live off the living right? So maybe it all just comes to a halt and then the big creaking hulks all over the planet slowly disintegrate back into the soil, because of course, "rust never sleeps."

Monday, December 17, 2007

"The system sucks..."

I must admit, I've burned a lot of brain cells thinking about the Presidential election slated for November 2008. Not one vote has been cast and already I've vacillated and flip-flopped between the three main Democratic contenders. Partly because they are all good candidates and their policy positions aren't really all that different. But there are differences between them and their approaches are instuctive. I do think this will be a major realignment election, it should bode well for progressives - we really should go for the "whole hog."

My first intuitive choice was Obama, but Clinton and Edwards have at times endeared themselves to me. When everyone was attacking Hilary, for being a woman, having cleavage, being married to the Big Dog, I started to root for her. Now that she and the Big Dog have started attacking Obama, they have kind of gone down on the "sunnyjimmy politico-meter." Lately John Edwards has impressed me with his attacks on the great corporate beast that is sucking the blood out of the country. Obama is still the only one who was against the Iraq war from the beginning. That holds a lot of weight for me.

This post below by Atrios, over at Eschaton seems to sum up the campaign so far in a very concise manner. I think he's nailed it. Looking at it this way, I'd say I'd put myself in the Edwards camp. I do think we need to fight like hell to destroy the system. It's that bad! Having a smart lawyer who made his fortune fighting the corporate beast is a solid credential to bring to the table.

Here's Atrios:

Shorter Candidates

Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

-Atrios 18:58

UPDATE: Paul Krugman's column in the NY Times today seems to also recognize that 2008 could be a great moment for progressive politics, but to accomplish anything we will need a real fighter to take on the entrenched corporate interests in health care (and elsewhere) to make any headway. It's kind of a slam against Obama's "big table" approach. Probably another good reason to support Edwards. I mean, one wonders how aggressively Clinton, who is taking loads of big bucks from these same interests, will take on her own big bucks donors when it's time for a little reform?!

UPDATE #2: Okay, as per Brian Beutler, via Ezra Klien, via Matt Yglesias check this out, this is how John Edwards would tackle health care reform. He'd challenge Congress to offer average Americans the same health care benefits that Congress itself receives. If individual Congressmen and women refused, President Edwards would use the "bully pulpit," and he'd go to their Congressional districts and call them out on it. Now that's the kind of confrontational approach that just might get things moving!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's Us Baby!

Paul Krugman blogs about carbon dioxide here. I don't own a car, I don't eat meat, I recycle, I now have my own cup when I go to the coffee shop, I use cloth bags when I go to the grocery store, I turn off the lights and the computer when I leave the house. Much of this is thanks to the Lovely Carla's strong environmental evangelism. Still, I know this is nothing, not even a drop of water in the great ocean.

As Al Gore tells us, some kind of massive collective action is required. A lot of shit is gonna change big time when all the polar ice melts, and we kill off species left and right. We have destroyed, are destroying our ecosystem. We evolved out of this ecosystem, everything has a "job" everything is connected. We are killing ourselves. It's a slow, massive suicide. And it's our own arrogance, ignorance and ridiculous greed that drives this forward.

Fucking amazing!

And well, our great leaders dither or worse, actually, intentionally, drag their feet on this issue. Maybe it's too big? I don't buy it. It goes against the free market capital religion. Somehow the great free market will somehow miraculously fix this, and we'll all make shit loads of money. That's how it goes right? What a load of shit. We need collective action. We need regulation, targets, priorities. Smacks of "socialism?" Whatever.

I do think Al Gore is the prophet in the wilderness. The problem is, the wilderness is shrinking around us and it will disappear. We will drown, we will starve, we will roast. Somehow the planet will adjust. Don't worry, the planet will survive this, but the people, well that's another fucking story. And we can't blame some god here, it ain't the devil's doing. It's us baby, we are the fucking culprits!

Friday, December 14, 2007

John Bites the Apple

December is a hard month. What with the holidays, and the marking of time. You think of all those who have come and gone. As the years go by (nice title for a song), the memories of all those bloody christmases kind of flood in. Living in the present and the past at the same time is kind of a drag. As per a Philip Dick novel, it might be cool to just wipe out some of those past experiences, but I guess it kind of defeats the purpose (is there one?) of going through it all in the first place.

Every year, we get a little christmas tree, the Lovely Carla decorates it. She puts so much creativity and care into it. Each ornament has a story. The tree is one big novel all it's own, with subplots and detours. When she finally plugs in the lights and turns them on, the little sparkling colors just bowl you over. It's that beautiful.

Of course, the damn little tree is sad too. I mean, it's been cut, it's dying, and it won't last long. We ornament it, light it up, make it more than what it is, or maybe less? The tree is a little lesson too. A lesson we know already, every year we do the same thing, and it's never quite the same, and that's part of the process too.

December. My father was born in December. I think of him a lot. John Lennon died in December. I think of him a lot too. People who are gone, are gone, and well they aren't really gone either. And that's how it goes too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Christ, You Know it Ain't Easy..." - J. Lennon

Okay, this is superbly bleeding/fucking hilarious.

The Democratic-led House passed a resolution yesterday (the vote was 372-9 in favor) that does the following:

(1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;
(2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;
(3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;
(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;
(5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and
(6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

Isn't that sweet? How about all the fucking pain and misery that that crazy cult inspired too? Let's not forget all the faith-based wars (as Dylan reminds us, "they all had god on their side!"), the Inquisition, the collusion with the Fascists and Dictators of the world, the Holocaust, all the bleeding raping of the land, the constant blood and conquest blessed and condoned by our precious holy ones. Plus, there's the sex abuse scandals ensnaring a goodly segment of the Catholic Priesthood and there's the decades long "coverup" that enabled our favorite Parish Priests to sample the finest altar boys in the land.

After all is said and done, I'd say this Christian thing is a pretty mixed bag. Although, I suppose it's good to see our representatives are stepping up to the plate and taking tough stands on the important issues of the day.

Merry Fucking Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fearless Speech

From Al Gore's speech to the Nobel Committee:

"But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters – most of all, my own country – that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act. Both countries should stop using the other's behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment."

The full text is here."

Also check this out.


And then there's this trailer for "Machine Girl." Just in time for the holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Help Wanted

100 year old Zen Master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi looking for successor. Qualifications required: someone who can totally abandon their ego and manifest that zero state that is neither subject nor object and that is a complete unification of plus and minus.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


It's Sunday. Maybe my outrage should take a rest for a day. But you know what? A little Mocha Java and I'm fucking fired up. I don't agree with Andrew Sullivan on a lot of issues, but on torture I think he consistently gets it right. Yes. It's not new news, but we have a war criminal in the White House. I mean, at least two of them. I see that Joe Biden is calling for an independent prosecutor to sort things out. Sounds like a good first step. Any other Democrats want to weigh in? I know it's primary season, candidates are careful not to take controversial stands, but this seems like a "no shit Sherlock" moment. Biden is known to be a little bit of a blowhard. But now is a time to blow hard on this corrupt house of cards. I mean FUCKING REALLY?!

EDITORIAL NOTE: Sorry for the excessive, almost Tourette's stream of "fucks" lately. But you know, what the fuck?!

UPATE: I'm thinking to myself, "why the outrage?" I guess, to answer myself, "it's either outrage or despair." Or actually it's probably outrage and despair. I was born here, I'm trying to make a life here. I pay taxes, I vote. I sort of give a shit about who represents me in the world. It's kind of that existential conundrum (Satre and Camus - those dudes with the berets would undersatnd), I am responsible, even for the things I seemingly have no control over. Eventhough, I am powerless - or no, not powerless, I could leave the country, I could stop paying taxes. I could go to jail in protest. But, well, I'm not willing to go that far. So instead, I throw these words out into the blogosphere, I live with the responsibility, the guilt. I feel responsible and guilty for the things some fat fuck in Washington is doing or not doing in my name. Is that the Liberal's disease? Is it preposterous? The only things I seem to be left with - anger, outrage, despair. And laughter. Cynical, sardonic. How not to get hardened, corrupted by all the shit too? So it's maybe not necessarily the good kind of laughter, more like the "laughing past the graveyard" kind of laughter. Here it comes again: FUCK!

UPDATE #2: As Glen Greenwald points out, and as per an article in the Washington Post today, key Democrats on the "Intelligence" Committee were briefed on, and enabled, the torture atrocities. Rockefeller, Graham, Pelosi, Harman (supposedly Harman wrote a letter of protest, but all the others were silent). This is a bi-partisan scandal. I suppose the "fear of terrorism" made all these highly-paid fucks crumble like little fortune cookies. It's safe to say that yes, the terrorists did win. It's amazing how quickly our government gave up on some core principles that define a civilized, law-abiding nation. All we are really left with is a country of brute power, blood and rivers of cash. It's a hollow republic and we are truly fucked! Have a nice day!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

These are the Fucking Good Guys, Right?

So it looks like the CIA tortured a mentally ill dude, made him confess to all kinds of non-existent crazy ass terror plots, rushed around trying to squelch such non-existent crazy ass plots, all to save face for our tin-pot dictator wannabe, the venerable Moron in Chief. Joseph Stalin, if he were still around, would be so proud of our current Commander.

Then the CIA, just to cover their sorry asses (did any one say "crimes against humanity?"), destroyed the videotaped evidence. How convenient. It kind of takes your breath away. Make up the worst shit you can possibly imagine. Then read the headlines. It's actually fucking worse! That's our America, land of the free, home of the brave. Fuck.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Religious Shite!

People are free to believe any wacko shit they want to, right? I mean, what the hell, the universe is big, and there's all kinds of crazy things happening, and well once you get your head around the idea that we evolved from bacteria, just about anything seems possible.

But when we talk about respecting others "faith," what we really mean is we tolerate people holding some really stupid, crazy ideas in their heads, and that these folks somehow think that by believing this crazy shit, they somehow get a ticket to some exclusive club where all the other good dead people go because they also believed that crazy shit too.

Some of the crazy shit includes: there's a god, a great overseer who gives a flying fuck about what we do, there are virgin births, rising from the dead, re-incarnation. The usual stuff. Then there's additionally wacko shit like Mormonism where people believe that Jesus walked around in America, Joseph Smith dug up a book buried by an angel, there is special underwear that will protect you from harm (we're not talking Victoria' Secret, are we?), men should take multiple wives (okay, supposedly they've retired that one).

Most "faiths" profess that if you don't believe what the other freaks believe, you are fated to burn in hell for eternity.

Now that's all well and good, but when we have politicians who are vying for a pretty damn important job, wanting us to take them seriously, do you think maybe we should call them out on some of this shit? And what about how some of these same bastards have demonized a religion (Muslims believe some crazy shit too, but I guess there are levels of crazy here, right?) and well if you're holding some crazy ass ideas in your head, doesn't it compromise your ability to condemn someone else's crazy ass ideas?

UPDATE: Exactafuckinzakly!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Lost Causes

I took one of those on-line polls, I can't find the link now, that asks a series of questions, and then matches you with a candidate. It seems my preference for bringing the troops home from Iraq immediately, giving amnesty to all the illegals already here, and having a universal health care system, matches me up best with these three guys in this order - Mike Gravel (sounds like a character in a Mikey Spillane novel), Dennis Kucinich (wasn't he an extra in the Wizard of Oz?) and John Edwards (didn't Bill Clinton once say John was such a smooth talker he could talk a squirrel out of a tree?).

I don't really think any of these three has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Democratic nomination. My preference is still Obama, but I recently heard a little of the NPR debate in Iowa, and frankly all of the candidates in the Democratic field sound reasonable and intelligent to me. Now wouldn't that be a refreshing change?

Anway, got me thinking, I've not always been the best at picking winners. My absolute favorite all time candidates in no particular order - Jerry Brown (Mike Royko dubbed him Governor Moonbeam), Eugene McCarthy (the great insurgent!), Robert Kennedy (gunned down), and George McGovern (lost in a landslide!).

Three of those guys wanted to end the war in Vietnam. If they'd been elected, most likely, thousands of lives would have been saved...but of course McGovern actually lost to the all time CREEP, Hunter S. Thompson's doppelganger, Richard Nixon! Early on, I realized my politics was kind of inspired by Saint Jude. Saint Jude, of course was the saint of lost causes and hopeless cases.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"You got the yay-yo?" - Tony Montana

Did Karl Marx foresee this?

Hedge fund managers living the life of Tony Montana? I know that the De Palma directed, Oliver Stone scripted "Scarface," with the great Al Pacino, is a touchstone film for many in the Hip Hop community, but when our Titans of Finance are living the lurid, cocaine-fueled high-life, frolicking with male dancers named "Tiger," ending up dead, face down in a swimming pool, you have to wonder if maybe our capitalistic paradise has reached some kind of decadent apotheosis.

I mean, it used to be our drug lords, our rock stars, would be expected to spontaneously combust. When our lawyers and financiers are following a script conjured by Oliver Stone, well, maybe the end times for this capitalized beast really are near.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Accurate and Impermanent

"I think of dancing as movement, any kind of movement. It is as accurate and impermanent as breathing." - Merce Cunningham

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hey, Let's Get the Mice to Exercise for Us!

As a long time runner, this story is not surprising in the least. Feeling down in the dumps? Take a long run on a short pier! I am here to attest that yes, exercise can cure the blues. So scientists have been putting mice through their paces to demonstrate that exercise produces a naturally occurring anti-depressant chemical in the brain. Extrapolating from the evidence: what's good for the mouse is good for us.

Read the story until the end to get to the punch-line: "Besides offering more support for the benefits of exercise, the findings also point to VGF as a target for new antidepressants, according to Duman and his colleagues. Such medications, they point out, would work by an entirely different mechanism than existing antidepressants, which are effective for about 65 percent of patients."

Now that's the ticket! I'm thinking the underlying assumption is that nobody is gonna actually get out there and run or jump or walk. Exercise takes time, and it's hard, and who really wants to sweat? Hell, this is just another great opportunity for the drug industry to create more product. We are living proof of better living through chemistry. Is this the Timothy Leary Legacy?!

I'm thinking in another time and place our Pharmaceutical Industry would be called the Snake Oil Business. I've known folks who have been stuck on anti-depressants for years, and well, I'm convinced the best drugs in life are free and/or illegal!

DISLCLAIMER: The author of the above post, and frankly all the other posts found on this site, imbibes massive doses of highly-concentrated java daily. This leads to states of euphoria, excessive dizziness, long unfocused rambles, and incoherent flights of fancy. Please read this blog with caution. After reading a post, if you experience any of the above symptoms, please consult a physician.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


According to the definition I found on the web - Euphoria: Elevated mood. Euphoria is a desirable and natural occurrence when it results from happy or exciting events. An excessive degree of euphoria that is not linked to events is characteristic of hypomania or mania, abnormal mood states associated with bipolar disorders.

Yes well. Last night, dancing on thin ice, we put on the a rock show at the Red Line Tap. We packed the place. We rocked. It was a great night. Probably the best show WWSP has done to date. The Telepaths brought the mayhem. Tiffany Tarpit sat in, and well, it was rock and roll magic. The Cells performed a tight set of power pop gems.

I'd say I'm experiencing an abnormal mood-state today. Still riding the adrenaline rush. It's cool to play rock star. I feel like trashing a hotel room, or driving a limo into a swimming pool. I'll resist the impulse.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

"What's the world got in store, for you?" - Jeff Tweedy

A storm is coming tonight. I mean besides the winter storm that's supposed to whap us upside the head. A rock show is coming to the Red Line Tap tonight, featuring three of my favorite bands (yes, I'm biased, I'm in two of them). The Cells, The Telepaths and WWSP are joining forces to help the kids. That's right, it's a Toys for Tots benefit. Raising toys and cash for needy children.

It should be a real r&r blast. I've seen the Cells once before, they are led by a true rock and roll original, the human jukebox himself Cory Hance. Cory is a charismatic dude who writes, sings and plays with passion, verve, excitement. He's a true rock and roll star. The Cells are one of the great bands in the City.

The Telepaths are my band of brothers. Like minded musical anarchists working in the trenches of the rough and tumble trench of garage rock. I play guitar, Cory is on bass, Peter is our drummer and Patrick is our vocalist. I don't exactly know what it is, but put us in a room together and sparks ignite. There's a wildness, a sloppiness about our approach, and that's where the excitement begins. You just don't know what's gonna happen. We are oh so "telepathic," in that whatever we do sounds unmistakably like us. But we really have no idea of what's coming next. Tonight we will have a special guest, Tiffany Tarpit, from a great band that is no longer with us. She will be fronting the band on "Fresh 24," check out the song. We don't exactly play it like that, but should be a highlight of tonight's set.

Then there's WWSP my labor of love with the lovely Carla. She fronts a sweetly whimsical bunch - Sara on bass, Sanjay on drums, me on guitar. It's quite the journey. We are still jelling working on an ever-expanding set of originals. It's one of the most intensely creative, and exciting projects I've ever had the pleasure of participating in.

Anyway, hope you can make the show. I'm sure to have some words about it tomorrow!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Base!

If this little post from Kevin Drum can be given any credence, it seems to confirm a sneaking suspicion that yes, the Republican base is a contemptible, vile lot who despise anyone who suggests we should help poor people and who also despise anyone who suggests that maybe the U.S should follow the Geneva Conventions and NOT torture people. Watching the Republican candidates pander to this hard core wing of the party is a truly pernicious clown show. Maybe, just maybe the rest of us can pull our heads out of our asses and aspire to live up to a little higher standard?! Maybe?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Be Aware, Be Awake!

Sometimes I think we can all sort of hypnotize ourselves into the "humdrumness" of our lives. We adopt a routine and try to reduce the world to a simple, understandable set of actions and thoughts. We do this individually and collectively. We work synergistically, the more of us who do it together the more powerful it all is, we create a force shield or a blanket of sameness, of comfort, that insulates us, (or at least we hope so - sort of the safety of the herd mentality thing right?), and we gain a sense of stability in the day to dayness of our existence.

Of course, sometimes, one can step out from behind the shield and see that this is all illusory. We are always dancing on the precipice (can fall off anytime), walking a razor's edge, a super-sharp edge that cuts and divides, and makes us bleed. Bleeding is the first step to oblivion.

Now it's possible that as a survival mechanism (less stress, heart attacks, mental breakdowns), we need that humdrumness, at least up to a point. Every one of our evolutionary tools that help us survive, can also be a weapon of our destruction. The old, double-edge sword. Is there really any other kind? There's a certain beauty in the contradictory doubleness of everything.

Sometimes it may be beneficial to shake off the humdrumness. But then it all gets really scary. Finally all we are left with is: be aware, be awake! And then one wonders if that's really gonna be enough...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Friend

I have a friend I haven't seen for many years now. He used to live in Chicago. We met through a mutual friend and for some reason we immediately connected. He was born in Poland. Grew up in a small town outside of Warsaw. His father had a job in the Communist government.

Poland changed. There was Lech Walesa. Solidarity. The Communist government failed. My friends father's life changed, and after a few years of "retirement," he died of a heart attack in his fifties. My friend went to art school in Poland. After he graduated, some years passed, things happened, and then somehow, someway, he ended up in Chicago. He was here without a work visa. Kind of slipped through the cracks. He dated a woman who worked in our theater group. That's how we met.

He and I were from two totally different backgrounds. I was older than him, we grew up with so many different cultural references. There was so much that separated us. At the same time, there was this amazing connection. We laughed. We drank. We talked. We laughed some more. We worked together on a play. I got him to act. He was new to acting. It was a challenge. It was fun. We did some great work together.

After struggling at some quite menial jobs, my great friend, decided America just wasn't gonna work out for him. It's a hard life here if you don't have money, if you're not willing to join the Polish mafia. There's the sex trade, dope, etc. Not exactly the life for a country boy with the heart of a poet. So he went back to Poland.

Over the years I have heard from him sporadically. He is kind of the "international man of mystery." Very much a man of my own inclination. He's in Germany, in London, in Ireland. Doing import/export in Prague. I get an e-mail. Sometimes a snapshot. Usually there's no explanation. No great exchange of words. Just a "hello" from somewhere out in the world.

It's all kind of sad. I think about those fleeting times together. My good friend. There is so much time and distance. And still when I hear from him I remember how it was cool just to be together. We didn't want anything from each other, it was great just to hang together. To talk, create, laugh. A real rarity. Two loners really, somehow able to connect. And well, the years go on, and there's so much to say, and then there's the long, dark silence. My friend is out there somewhere. I am here. And then well, I guess that has to be enough.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This is What Happens When You Don't Sleep...

Sometimes (maybe in the wee hours before dawn), it dawns on me that I have enemies, that not everyone I know wishes me the best. In fact, I know for a fact that there are some folks who wish me ill. Does that sound like something a paranoid person would think?

At the same time, I'm quite convinced, that if I have a primary nemesis, I know him well. In fact, he's often staring back at me when I peek into a mirror. Does that sound like the seed of a premise that David Lynch could run with?

Yes, okay, I admit it. I'm just a character in a David Lynch movie. I wonder how it all ends? I suspect it's not gonna be a "feel good" picture. But then again Lynch is known for those strangely ambiguous resolutions that leaves everyone scratching their heads as they try to puzzle it all out. So maybe my hope for a happy fate rests upon befuddlement!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Texas Governor - Morons Only Need Apply...

I woke up hopping mad. I was dreaming of wrestling with my enemies. They are legion. And then, making the coffee, I hear a story on NPR about how Texas is in a state of denial about global warming. They quoted the Texas Govenor Rick Perry (this must not be a hard job - remember George Bush had it before this bozo), saying this in a speech in September 2007: "I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard Al Gore talk about man-made global ... his mouth is the leading source of all that supposedly deadly carbon dioxide. ..."

Seems most folks in the state just don't believe in global warming, or even if they do, they don't really care, hot damn, they are Texans, and if they want to waste energy they damn well will. If they want to drive their big, fat asses around in their big, fat cars - no goddamned Al Gore is gonna stop em.

I'm not kidding, that was basically the story. Now, I'm sure something good has come out of Texas, but with childhood memories of JFK's murder, LBJ's fuckups, and the dynastic Bush debacles of unfathomable proportions, I can't think of anything good at the moment. Oh yeah, okay, maybe Willie Nelson. The long-haired, pot-smoking, golden-voiced cowboy/troubador. Seems like cold comfort. Can't we do an intervention and get Willie out of there? Send him to Long Island or something? And then well, I mean, I don't want to condemn a whole state, I guess it's sort of juvenile thinking. Hmm, let's all get together in a circle and do a meditation. Let's try really hard and see if we can just sort levitate the state of Texas and send it out beyond our solar system. Maybe it'll do them good?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'll let you be in my movie, if I can be in yours." - sunny jimmy

Saw Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There." If you think Bob Dylan's voice is like listening to fingernails on a chalk board, you will not enjoy this movie. If like me, you think the idea of having multiple actors portray versions of Dylan is a stroke of genius, you will probably love it. Yes, Kate Blanchett is amazing, so is the young African American kid as the young "Woody."

I loved it. It's an "art movie." Surreal, circular, mysterious, odd, impressionistic. Haynes is obviously a Dylanologist of the first order. The more you know about Bob Dylan, the myth, the man, the cartoon, the more you will find to enjoy. It's not worth taking the movie apart. I'm thinking that like most of the best art, you should just experience it. As Jean Luc Godard reportedly once said, the only way to "review" the film would be to make your own in response.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Singer and the Sage

"But he hurts and shines/unique, individual, a wonder without equal/he already has the courage to know he is immortal." - Caetano Veloso

"Joy is the natural state of man." - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Das Kapital!

When it comes money, I'm fairly clueless. I mean, it seems to flow, sometimes it rushes, sometimes it trickles. I make it, I spend it. It's the fuel that drives the engine of this industrial/technological beast. It's seems you can never have enough of the green.

When I make more, I spend more, when I make less, I spend less. I fill my life up with the stuff that I buy with the green. And well, I know you can't eat money, but you can eat the stuff that money can buy.

It's seems capitalism is the true world religion. All of us on this planet are now basically congregants in the Church of the Buck. So, living in the Capital of Capital, the land of milk and honey, the land of the free and home of the brave, one would think that the Big Money Boys, the bankers, the wall street masters of the financial world would know the ways of capital.

I mean, the Bankers are kind of like our holy men, our wise elders, the keepers of the oracle. Now to read about the "sub-prime" housing market, one begins to wonder if even these wise guys lost their heads. Go over to Eschaton (see the link on the right) if you want to glean a little more insight, frankly a lot of this is over my head, but it seems like there's a financial mess (Atrios calls it the "big shitpile") a ton of worthless loans that total billions and billions of dollars, and money is evaporating like the rain. The rain-makers are now the rain-takers.

There are a bunch of wise guys who made a shit load of money on basically total shit. Now that's capitalism at it's finest, don't ya think? But really, if we can't even trust the Bankers to be smart with their bucks and to get the ways of money right (or maybe they got it right for awhile - "money for nothing, chicks for free!"), I mean, hot damn, who can we trust?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Mask Today?

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, November 19, 2007

Behind Closed Eyes

"I've got a word or two to say about the things that you do. You're telling all those lies about the good things that we can have if we close our eyes." - George Harrison

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Smoke Up Our Asses!

I watched some of the Democratic debate last night. More like a pseudo-event don't you think? Not really a debate. Not really much of an event. People on stage in front of the cameras trying to maintain some sense of dignity. I think there are some fine people running for president (on the Democratic side). The bar has been set quite low. Anyone on the stage last night would be a step up in class from the world class asshole we having running the country at the moment.

The after-debate "reporting" was ridiculous. Did you ever see Woody Allen's movie "Bananas?" There's a scene at the end where Howard Cosell (remember him?) is giving a play by play, blow by blow account of Woody Allen and Louis Lasser as they consumate their marriage. Howard does his best fight narration...something like, "Fielding Mellish is not the man he used to be!"

That's what the post-debate discussion was like. Our media is basically a bunch of clowns. What a horrorshow. How the hell did we come to such a sorry state? We are all just blowing smoke up our own asses. How long can we survive on our own self-generated smoke?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dancing on the Grave of an SOB - Diane Wakoski

Will these pro-torture, boot-licking bastards shed a tear when Cheney finally kicks the bucket (will it be a bucket of spit)? There are those who still think our Fearless Leader and Darth Dick are doing a great job. Fuck them. People cried when Stalin died.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Alive and Vital

Went to see Shakey at the Chicago Theater last night. You know that strange, lanky guy with the quavering voice, that drove a black hearse from Winnepeg all the way to the City of Angels to make his mark in the music biz all those many years ago?

It was a great night of music. The same voice, the same passion and fire. A beautiful, haunting and inspiring rock and roll performance. One realizes that this dude is a very old soul. He's been singing old man songs ever since he was a young man. He's finally grown into some of his songs after all these years.

He mixed the old with the new, but made them all of the moment. Now that's quite the feat in itself.

The first half was acoustic - guitar, piano, that otherworldly, mournful voice. The second half of the show was all fire. Shakey strapped on that old black Les Paul and conjured the spirits. He was accompanied by a superb outfit: Ralph Molina on drums, Ben Keith on guitar and lap steel, Rick Rosas on bass.

An amazing performance. Alive and vital. Now that's the way you do it - money for nothing and chicks for free.

UPDATE: Some people might think Shakey is the ultimate hippie, but he's always walked hand in hand with the Shadow. See "On the Beach," or "Tonight's the Night." Beautiful, heart-breaking, haunting - edgy like a porcupine too. Here's Shakey himself doing "Spirit Road" (plus a photo montage of his old cars collection) off his latest disc. He did a great live version of this song last night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Don't forget that you're alive." - J. Strummer

I'm happy to see that my favorite New York-based Militant Librarian is back to regular blogging. Ever since I read her post about Julien Temple's documentary of Joe Strummer, I was wondering when the flick would open in Chicago. It amazes me that the movie biz still thinks you have to open in N.Y. or L.A. first, (to get the critical buzz going?) before they can venture into the desolate heartland in the middle of the country. By the way, for more background on the movie check out this article at Salon.

Anyway, yesterday, the Lovely Carla and I went to the Music Box Theatre to see, "The Future is Unwritten," and yes, well, it is essential viewing for anyone who wants to know more about an amazing rocker, a world-class character, a singer/songwriter who tried to wake people up to their own possibilities. I mean, Strummer was not a wide-eyed idealist, he was a complicated dude, a self-described bully as a child, who emerged as the voice of one of the great bands of the 80's. Please see "London Calling" and "Sandinista" for a grand overview of their work. Both are multi-disc excursions through punk, rock, reggae, etc. Vivid illustrations of why that band was once called "the only band that mattered."

Temple is quite the documentarian. He's also responsible for a great doc on the Sex Pistols, "The Filth and the Fury." So yes, there many things you will learn about Strummer: he was the child of a diplomat, he was a squatter, a hippie, a punk. He truly was committed to being an authentic voice. When the Clash began to drift into "RockStarism," he blew the whole thing up.

Strummer also did some great work with a much lower profile group - the Mescaleros. Let's let Joe have the last word. Check out his beautiful take on Bob Marley's "Redemption Song."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Black Face is Verboten

I have to mention that the Lovely Carla and I did a little theatrical performance last night. We were on a bill with our comedy heroes, Famous in the Future. We went into the whole thing with zero expectations. Not a bad way to do anything. We did a scene I decided to call "the Unbearable Whiteness of Being White." We played a sort of white-trash couple, a polka duo, (she sings, he plays accordian).

It was a scene that was originally based on Ike and Tina Turner. I had heard a story about Ike Turner (one of the most hated and discredited men in show biz - a wife beater, an emotional monster) who was watching Tina on TV, she was wearing a wig and Ike commented that he wanted that wig back, his money had put it on her head. This reminded me of a song recorded by Hound Dog Taylor called "Give Me Back My Wig." This was the seed of the piece.

I've always been fascinated by Ike Turner. He was one of the true originators of rock and roll, his "Rocket 88" was one of the seminal cuts in the genre. Later, Ike and Tina became one of the great acts, they really broke into the mainstream when the Stones put them on the bill during one of their late sixties/early seventies tours (see "Gimme Shelter"). Ike just seemed like good material. A man of great creativity and orginiality, who never seemed happy, an innovator, a survivor, a hustler, a man who had been exposed as a bully and a creep and who lost everything: Tina, fame, honor, credit, freedom (he spent time in prison for drugs and tax problems).

The scene just came to me in a dream. I saw two actors (African Americans) who we had worked with in the past, doing the scene onstage while I sat in the audience and watched. Since I'm a believer in following your dreams where they lead, I wrote it all in a flurry over a couple of days. I don't know why I wrote it. I didn't question. I didn't know if we'd ever use it. It seemed like a stretch, and really, who wants to see a scene depicting Ike Turner? Didn't "What's Love Got to Do With It," (I never saw it.) have the last word?

Our original casting didn't pan out, (I actually think our male lead bugged out because he did not want to play such a scurvy character as Ike!). My idea of doing it all in blackface was roundly derided. This is one taboo that cannot be breached. For more on this see the history of the Wooster Group. They were roundly condemned, they lost patrons and funding, when they did a blackface show. The days of minstrelry are over! And rightly so, irony will only go so far. I mean, I can't really write from the African American perspective. I can only write from my own. And really it wasn't Ike's black skin that was important to me or the scene I wrote, it was the examination of a man's dark soul. Black or white. Didn't really matter. I wasn't hung up on the facts...it's all about the imagination baby!

Anyway, I decided to re-write the scene for a white couple. It was now about the Elston and Gladys Revue. A white-trash polka duo. People so damn white you'd need dark glasses to see them clearly. I buried Ike and Tina way down inside. I'm sure no one in the audience made the connection. Which is just how I wanted it. And by abstracting it all, I think it actually worked better all around.

Surprisingly, we played to a full house, most of the folks were there to see Famous in the Future. We rode their coattails. Another obscure and obtuse experiment (our specialty) for Black Forest. Carla flounced around in a blond wig, I nearly broke down, begging to wear it myself. It was all quite satisfying. And well, who knew?! This whole process is just so strange.

The more I do it, the stranger it gets. And well, that's OK by me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tough Guys Don't Dance Forever

Norman Mailer has been silenced. He was one of the great American writers, an American character who sometimes overshadowed his own work. I think he must have been born a "literary lion," never a literary cub, always a lion. He has roared his last. I will miss him. As per the Coen's brothers movie, this is "no country for old men." Mailer wasn't the last old man, but he seems like the last of a type. The two fisted, ego-maniac, wielding a pen like a sword.

He ran for mayor of New York. He stabbed one of his wives. He lobbied to get Jack Henry Abbot ("Belly of the Beast") out of jail, and then, tragically, inevitably, Abbot murdered a man. How would you like that on your conscience? He had some weird ideas - a really great fuck would lead to the birth of a genius, birth control was nihilistic.

He wrote over 40 books. I'm one of those who thinks his non-fiction was superior to his fiction, although, to be honest, I haven't waded through much of his work. I believe he wrote one masterpiece, "The Executioner's Song." It is a book about a murderer, it is a book about America. It's a book you can't really sum up. You should just read it. From cover to cover. It will change you.

I think Mailer was one of those guys who would actually sit down at a typewriter and aim to write the "great American novel." I think "The Executioner's Song," is that book. It's not even a novel. But it's certainly great. I would say "rest in peace" Mister Mailer, but it just doesn't seem appropriate to the man, no instead, Norman, I hope you are still "raging against the dying of the light!"

Friday, November 09, 2007

Time is a Circle

I'm still sort of sick. Nothing major. Won't kill me. Probably. But being sick certainly focuses me. I mean, some things I think about, or do, I drop and let go, because lack of energy. One can see how one slowly and easily lets the things of the world go. We think time is a line. Sometimes it looks like a line. But really I think it's more like a circle. We start out as some sort of quasi ameoba-like thing, and well, eventually we return to that state, and then I guess sort of drift off into dust. And then some essence starts the cycle again. Is that really how it goes? Not exactly sure...but maybe something like that...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Which Means There's No Lack of Material!

According to Jacques Barzun, "The vulgarity of mankind is not only the source of art, but the ultimate one."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Dream of a Shadow

Whacked by a bug, I spent some quality time on the couch last night with Percy Shelley, via Ann Wroe's engrossing experiment, "Being Shelley." It's not your typical biography. Wroe recreates the mind of a poet, using his poems, his notebooks and his friend's impressions of him. She re-imagines a man's thoughts, feelings, emotions.

The book jumps around, much like you would imagine a poet's mind would too. The book is broken into sections: earth, wind, water and fire. It's a great read, although it has been very slow going for me. Partly because Shelley's poetry is dense, from another time and meter, and also because I've been sort of savoring each page.

Shelley is a lost type, one no longer to be found in this modern world. He had much time on his hands, living like a butterfly, floating, running; a mad prophet of liberty, atheism and revolution.

He was in love with LOVE, and with Plato's world of the ideal. He not only read the ancient texts, he translated them for himself. He was an idealist, unhappy with the world as it is. Nothing more forlorn (and maybe dangerous - at least to himself) than a disappointed idealist. This is one of his favorite passages from Pindar, a poet born a long, long time ago. It works for me too.

"Creatures of a day, what is anyone? What is anyone not? Man is but a dream of a shadow; but when a gleam of sunshine comes as a gift from heaven, a radiant light rests on men, and life is sweet." - Pindar

I think we live for that radiant light...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Germ Day

I've been invaded. By a germ. It happens. To all of us. It's amazing how a little bug can turn the whole boat over. So, I'm a little waterlogged. Foggy. It's strange, but when I get sick, I actually sort of float through the day. Bogged down but at the same time kind of like a ping-pong ball floating in a raging river. Just floating above myself and the day.

I know we've all kind of evolved out of bacteria. We come from real humble roots don't cha think? But some germs when they visit don't make for a real happy homecoming.

It's a little bifurcation. Kind of reminds me of the body/spirit and/or the brain/mind dichotomy. That same old cross. I've gravitated to a zen-like philosophy where I try to blow the old "this and that" frame of mind to smithereens, but sometimes one really can feel disconnected from the body, there's the experience of spirit, unconnected, floating above or beyond.

And our minds, seperate from that lump of flesh, the brain, can jump around like a mexican jumping bean. Whenever we try to come up with an analogy of mind, everything sort of falls flat or seems grossly inadequte. Is that self-flattery?

Mind = video game, computer, clock, machine, mercury, sponge, movie projector, movie screen, movie, dream, amusement park, carnival ride, mirror, ocean, software, music, song, rock, tree, leaf, smoke, air, water, fire. None of the above. Whatever it is, we have it, in spades.

Are our minds the recorder, the record, the thing vibrating in the grooves? Ah, whatever. My energy is sapped. Time to put on some music and float...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

More "Proverbs from Hell?"

Walking on the planet for awhile, (maybe too long?) one begins to suspect some things that one hopes really aren't true:

1. It isn't really all going to work out for the best.
2. Hate is stronger than love.
3. Time won't heal all wounds.
4. Love will tear us apart (thanks to Joy Division).
5. Some things happen for no good reason. I mean there's a reason. But it isn't a good one.
6. Life isn't something we can figure out. It's not a puzzle or riddle to solve. (This might be a good thing. But it's frustrating).
7. Age doesn't make us smarter.
8. Rock and roll won't save our souls (for more on this, please see the movie of Ian Curtis' life - "Control").
9. If we have a soul, it isn't anything we can understand, or redeem for valuable prizes later. It's probably more like a cloud.
10. Being a human being is kind of embarrassing.
11. As per Samuel Beckett - other people's misery (and ours too) is quite funny.
12. Pleasure evaporates quickly, pain lingers.
13. Life, it's not a journey, it's not a lesson book, it's not a quiz. What is it?

Friday, November 02, 2007


"The spirituality of imperfection is what interests me." - Steve Coogan

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Art Brut - Charismatics! New Pic Too!

The Lovely Carla and I ventured out to a rock show at the Metro last night. We were quite pleased to find that smoking is no longer allowed inside the club - what a brilliant policy (we thank you, our lungs thank you too!). Two relatively new bands. One I've heard before, The Hold Steady and one I hadn't, Art Brut. It was an enjoyable night of loud and spiky r&r delivered fast and furious. Art Brut was the real revelation. They are quite good. Especially live. Their frontman is funny and charismatic. The music is sort of edgy - reminded me of a Brit version of the Strokes (sort of). Anyway, it was all thanks to the Telepath's drummer, our very own man about town - Bruce Wayne - Mr. Big Bang. He is a musicologist of the first rank. There's nothing quite like a spirited r&r show. It's kind of like a revival meeting. In this case, it's the slashing guitar notes, the pulsing bass lines, the ringing drum shots, and the articulate British dude stumbling around and swinging the microphone like a lasso that conjures the unameable power of the holy ghost.

UPDATE: Listening to a couple of cuts from Art Brut's recorded output, I'd say they're better live than on "memorex." On reflection, I'd say the Hold Steady probably make better records, but there's was just something about Art Brut that I loved. They seem a little decadant and dangerous and happily sloppy, (someone who knows them says they're great and fun drinkers), eventhough they're well-rehearsed and pretty tight. I guess it's something about "charisma." A hard to figure and hard to package commodity. I guess, you had to be there. And isn't that how a lot of rock and roll goes? That moment. That night. Never to be repeated. Yes, that's it. Art Brut has some kind of undefinable charisma that transcends the tracks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Moondog's Corner - Center of the Universe

Stand in one place long enough and just possibly the world will come to you. Happened to a guy dressed as a Viking who used to hang out on the corner of 54th street & 6th avenue in New York. His name was "Moondog." He was blind. He wrote music. In braille.

Famous people came to visit him. Marlon Brando, Muhammad Ali, Martin Scorcese and a bunch of folks recorded his music: Elvis Costello, Julie Andrews and Janis Joplin. He composed and recorded classical pieces and little ditties such as this one:

Oh lord, wont you buy me a mercedes benz ?
My friends all drive porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So lord, wont you buy me a mercedes benz ?

Oh lord, wont you buy me a color tv ?
Dialing for dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh lord, wont you buy me a color tv ?

Oh lord, wont you buy me a night on the town ?
Im counting on you, lord, please dont let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh lord, wont you buy me a night on the town ?

Oh lord, wont you buy me a mercedes benz ?
My friends all drive porsches, I must make amends,
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So oh lord, wont you buy me a mercedes benz ?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Life Raft

You know, when it all comes down to it, it's all about the passion. And well, maybe (as per Buddha Boy), compassion.

As this mad, media-saturated monster of a virtual world we have conjured around us, begins to teeter, authenticity (that rare unicorn-like quality) starts looking like some kind of life raft.

"You got any room on that boat?"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elvis and Dylan

I'm lucky to live in a city where I can hop on a train and in less than an hour I can step off the train platform and walk right into the Chicago Theater. Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello were in the house last night.

It was a very spirited and rousing show. And well, surprise, suprise, it was Elvis who really blew me away. I mean, I cannot criticize Bob Dylan, in my book he's kind of like a river or the grand canyon, or a willow tree. He just is, love him or hate him. I happen to love him, or maybe it's not him, he's a cantankerous, strange and quirky dude, but his music, his poetry in all it's various guises is a gift that keeps on giving. David Kehr talking about Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood," once remarked that the movie was "beyond criticism." (Errol Flynn jumping around in green tights - could be ridiculous, but for some reason it works!). That's how I feel about Dylan. No one, especially not the little man in the black hat and shiny black suit with stripes down his pant legs can live up to DYLAN. There's the man, the work, the myth.

All that said, Dylan has a very tight and solid band backing him these days. There were only two songs that I thought they really murdered. I'd suggest to Bob that "Positively Fourth Street," and "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" just should not be re-arranged in some weird, faux Lawrence Welk manner. I get the feeling that Dylan believes he has the right to do anything he wants to his songs, even arrange them out of existence. Like Piccasso in his later years, no one around him can say "no." Sometimes a good collaborator can save you. Anwyay, that said, these guys know how to do that old-timey stuff as per Dylan's "Modern Times," but it was when they rocked out on the up-tempo numbers where they really grabbed me. I guess, when I go to see Dylan, all those other times I've seen him still resonate with me (Dylan backed by the Band, Dylan backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Dylan backed by the guitar masters Charlies Sexton and Larry Campbell). All in all, happy to see Mister Dylan still going strong. He's a true American treasure.

But it was Elvis Costello opening for Dylan who stole the show. One man, one guitar, one voice. He absolutely tore the house down. I've seen Elvis before, with the Attractions, with the Imposters, in fact, I saw Elvis when he first came to U.S. shores all those years ago, at a little club in Schaumburg, Illinois way back when "My Aim is True," first hit the shelves, he's always been good, but this time around, you realize the man really is a master.

Elvis (excuse my French), fucking rocked. So much passion, so in the moment. He had the audience in the palm of his hand. he was wielding an Epiphone Acoustic/Electric, the same model J. Lennon used to play, it was hooked up to a small tube amp, and he got a perfect, creamy overdriven sound to back his superb vocals. I can't say enough. It was so powerful, so inspiring. When he quoted Lennon's line, "I don't want to be a soldier mama, I don't want to die," in "Wake Up," when he did a rousing, punkish, version of "What's So Funny about Peace, Love and Understanding," he hit the bullseye. The audience roared with delight. It was one of the best performances I've ever seen. Totally unexpected. Elvis truly is the King. This one writes his own songs too! Elvis lives!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"authorized and ordered crimes of torture to be carried out ... as well as other war crimes."

Yes, well, sometimes there's a glimmer of light. I know sometimes justice is slow, or never comes, (or doesn't exist?!), maybe this never goes anywhere, but this is good news from Europe, or at least it's a first step. We have our own homegrown Milosevics and Pinochets (think Rumsfield, Cheney, Bush) and one can at least hope that they one day there is some kind of reckoning, that they "get what they deserve."

I suppose just having to be a Rumsfield, a Cheney, a Bush is punishment enough on some karmic plane. But in this human element, it would be good for all of us to bring these guys to account for their crimes against humanity.

Tonight I am going to see Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello at the Chicago theater, and I'm really looking forward to it. My band, the Telepaths are thinking of adding Dylan's "Masters of War," to our set list when we play in early December. I'll let Dylan have the last words. He is of course, speaking of those who build the death planes, who build all the bombs, those who "hide in your mansion/as young people's blood/flows out of their bodies/and is buried in the mud."

And then the final stanza: "And I hope that you that you die/and your death'll come soon/I will follow your casket/in the pale afternoon/ and I'll watch while you're lowered/down to your deathbed/and I'll stand o'er your grave/Til I'm sure that you're dead."

Here's Eddie Vedder giving it a whirl:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life - I recommend it!

I hate nostalgia. I love history. Makes sense? For instance, I listen to music from the sixties or seventies or eighties, not because it reminds me of a lost time, or reminds me of who I was back then, I'm not fondly looking back through misty eyes, hell no, I listen because some of that music still resonates with me NOW. When that snare drum shot rings out to start "Like a Rolling Stone," it's the kick, the immediate adrenaline rush of now that grabs me by the lapels. I'm thinking there are some songs, some novels, some poems, whatever, that are so much of the moment, that they are beyond time. The moment stretches out forever and you can dip in and you are alive in an ever-expanding nowness.

At the same time, the now, is the aquarium we swim in. Sometimes there just seems to be too much now. I find it refreshing to read about times and people who lived long ago. Partly to see a glimpse of a lost world, and also to illuminate, or to put on fresh eyes to see what's happening today.

So lately, I've been reading a biography of Percy Shelley. An English poet. I kind of get the impression that he and his fellow poet, Byron, if they lived today, would be fronting rock & roll bands. I see Shelley as kind a kinky Ray Davies, and Byron, well of course, he'd be the lead singer of the Doors.

I came across this yesterday, something Shelley wrote in a notebook in 1819. It seems to me, not so old really, no, I think it could have been written today, and well, there's a real kick when someone from another time and place hits the bullseye in your head, this moment.

"Life and the world, or whatever we call that which we are and feel, is an astonishing thing...we are struck with admiration at some of it's transient modifications, but it is itself the great miracle. What are the changes of empires, the wreck of dynasties, with the opinions which supported them; what is the birth and the extinction of religions and of political systems to life? What is the universe of stars, and suns...and their motions, and their destiny, compared with life?"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Murdering Mother Nature or "Oedipus. You can't handle the truth!"

If you want to know how poorly we are taking care of our planet, you should check out CNN's Planet in Peril. I didn't see it all, (frankly some of it is quite painful to watch!), but it is impressive in it's scope and there is a ton of new information to process. To sum up, our wealth and affluence and prosperity are killing the planet (all of us are culpable - every last one of us!). Seems that our great technological/industrial paradise is squeezing out the planet-wide ecosystem that spawned us. We truly are murdering Mother Nature and at an alarming and accelerating rate. Did you know that our world-wide population has grown by 400% since 1900? Unchecked growth (don't the economists tell us this is a desirable state?) in nature is what we call CANCER! Human Beings are now a Cancer on the Planet! Yikes! Not so good for one's self-esteem.

Reminds me of one of my heroes, the famous beat poet Gary Snyder.

Back in the 70's he wrote a truly great book called "Turtle Island." That's what the Indians called the territory we now call the U.S. Anyway, Gary was kind of like the canary in the coal mine. The lone poet/prophet whistling past the graveyard. And well, now that we know we are turning this blue planet into a grave, can we somehow stop it?

It's kind of funny in a sort of sick way, we are the uppity monkeys that just don't know our place. Everything in an ecosystem has a job. At some point, we got it in our heads that our job was to destroy the ecosystem and replace it with Orlando, Florida, a faux paradise of glitz, a desolate, god-for-saken amusement park of cheap thrills. Not so amusing after all. And is it our fear of Mother Nature, our fear of death, that drives us to killing everything that is not us and in that way, we actually assure our own destruction? Maybe there's a play in there?!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wake Up and Smell the Roses

Supposedly a cow, a horse, a pig, a dog, a cat, a mouse, a bug, etc. (I mean there's a long list of fellow creatures on this planet, although according to the latest count, species are disappearing at an alarming rate - and may I ask if we finally kill off all off our fellow species, won't it actually be quite a lonely damned place to live? And if you listen to the news (oh god no!), the water, the air, the soil, and of course the ice, is all being polluted, corrupted and destroyed by our heavy-handed presence - so I mean, what's the end-game here?) these creatures don't fret about their place in the world, although, I'm thinking this might just be more of that human hubris we've all grown so accustomed to, who are we to say what goes on in the mind of a pig, or cow or a mouse?

But as a human being, a guilt-riddled, brain-addled specimen, no doubt, I sometimes wonder what exactly I'm doing here. I mean, I've kind of opted out of the "be fruitful and multiply" directive. My seed has not engendered an offspring, no indeed, instead, it has fallen on deaf eggs, and in my book that is a good thing. Does the world really need any kind of facimile of me? I dare answer, "I think not!"

So, what purpose? Some days it's not even a question. Just glad to be alive. Other days, well, is it my job to enjoy, or only to endure the pummeling of the world? Maybe I don't really have a purpose or job at all. Aye there's the rub. So, what's the matter, except the matter? On the other hand, as my father used to say (quoting someone else) "I never promised you a rose garden." And if I don't have a rose garden to haunt, can I still take a whiff and smell the roses?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Turning Guns to Butter!? (or how about "I can't believe it's not butter!?")

A must read from Chalmers Johnson:

"There is, I believe, only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge, still growing military establishment that undergirds it. It is a task at least comparable to that undertaken by the British government when, after World War II, it liquidated the British Empire. By doing so, Britain avoided the fate of the Roman Republic -- becoming a domestic tyranny and losing its democracy, as would have been required if it had continued to try to dominate much of the world by force."

Two wars and counting! Big Dick and Little Bush are itching for more. Anyone for dismantling an empire? How would that play in Iowa, in New Hampshire? As Nick Lowe wrote, and the other Elvis once sang, "what's so funny about peace, love and understanding?" Who will step up to the plate?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Sometimes a record whaps you upside the head and you can't get it out until you play it to death. Then it's imprinted forever. Or at least until they finally put the pennies on your eyes.

Sparklehourse's album, "Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain," wasn't like that for me. I bought the cd sometime in 2006, just after it came out. Played it once in awhile. Liked it, but it kind of washed past me, if you know what I mean, it sat in a stack of other discs, filed under "nice background music," but still, I didn't listen to it very often. I gravitated to other stuff.

Well, I do think this thing is some kind of masterpiece. Totally hypnotic. Captivating. Creeps up on you. I "re-discovered" it one afternoon, and now I play it obsessively. Not exactly sure what it's all about. But it's about something. And I can't get enough. Makes me think of Yo Lo Tengo on some tracks, but only tangentially. Then it has it's own unique sounds. Unlike anything else. A haunting, ethereal beauty. And some rocking tracks, and some dissonance, and fractured surreal lyrics.

It's all the brain-child of a guy named Mark Linkous. Seems he's had a strange and difficult existence on the margins of musicland. Anyway, I love this cd...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Torture Logic!

Why am I so tortured about the torture debate? Not really sure. Maybe I've been on the losing end of that bargain in another incarnation. Or maybe my powers of imagination and empathy somehow make it real easy for me to see how you could find yourself under the screw for no good reason. Maybe it was all those formative years sitting through Benediction and taking in the stained glass re-enactment of the stations of the cross. I mean, that seemed to be a case where a fairly likeable dude who talked about love was whipped and pummeled and nailed to a tree for what was in his head. I guess the injustice of it all kind of seeped into my DNA.

So, eventhough I know torture goes on, it's been employed by many nations, many police forces, many armies, it's usually been condemned. I mean some of the great practitioners were folks like the Nazis and Stalin, and the French, the Spanish. Or for years if you wanted to know how to torture you'd go to folks like the KGB or the CIA for the latest methods. Again, I realize that bad shit happened. Happens still.

What's amazing though is how you now have a President, a Vice President, an Attorney General (or Attorney General to be) who basically has decided to "redefine," what torture really is, because if we do it, even if the Geneva Conventions says what we're doing is torture, it must not be torture because well we're doing it!

So you actually have a statement sort of like this (I'm paraphrasing what I heard on the radio this morn): If it's torture, it's unconstitutional, we don't do anything unconstitutional, so we don't torture, even if we do what we are doing looks like torture, don't worry it's not! Also this Attorney General-to-be tells us that we have a "war president" (remember this is a never-ending war!), and as WAR PRESIDENT our Commander in Chief can do anything to protect us! And by the way, if he does it, even if it includes torturing us, or ripping up our constitution, well it's all ok, because once he does it, it's actually legal and constitutional. And NO ONE CAN TELL US ANY DIFFERENT.

Is this what it's like to live in a BANANAS REPUBLIC!?

UPDATE: I just wanted to add to the list. Of course, just about every country, every army, every police force, every bully has at some time used torture, to either get information, or well, maybe just for the sadistic pleasure of having power over another human being. George Orwell's definition of power - one man's boot-heel crushing another man's head. Elizabethan England along with being a such shining, verdant village idyll was also a terror state with Catholics and Protestants torturing (the rack and screw) and murdering each other for what was in their hearts and minds. There are many arguments against torture - doesn't work, false confessions, brutalizes the tortured and the torturer. It's immoral, it's wrong. There's some thresholds a man, a force, an army, a nation should not cross. Once crossed we are lost. When dudes in suits with big salaries start hedging on the meaning, the definition of torture, I think it is safe to say that our ship of state is on shaky ground. The more boot-heels, the more pain, the more brutality, the weaker we become. A hollow bully of a nation.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"He Lifts Me Up!" - The Belfast Cowboy

I read obits once in awhile. Is it some magical-thinking way of proving I'm not dead yet? It's a way to find out something about people you didn't really know. A person was born at this time, did this, did that, died at this time, and at this place. There's so much left out. You know that the simple facts tell you something, and still the facts basically miss the essential stuff of what makes a life.

I came across this obit for Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual holy man who founded a meditation center in Queens back in the sixties. He became a guru for some famous people, including the musicians Carlos Santana and John McGlaughlin. I came across his name many years ago. I was a fan of Miles Davis' haunting "Bitches Brew" album, which led me to listening to the great guitar work of John McGlaughlin, which led me to his band Mahavishnu Orchestra. I learned McGlaughlin was a disciple of Chinmoy.

A guy named Jerry Goodman was the violinist in Mahavishnu Orchestra and many years later, I met a guy named Fred Glickstein, who was also in a band with Goodman, a Chicago based band called The Flock, one of the great, lost, psychedelic rock outfits that came and went after a disc or two. Anyway, I kind of count Fred as one of my friends. He lives near me, we chat once in awhile, trade e-mails. He's totally unplugged from the music scene, but he's got a million funny stories. He's a sparkling soul and I'd glad I know him.

Anyway, so in some weird way, I feel connected to Chinmoy via Davis via McGlaughlin via Goodman via Glickstein. So I read Chinmoy's obit with quite a bit of interest. He advocated meditation (yes!), vegetarianism (well, I guess ok!) and celibacy (are you sure? I mean you got to let it out sometime captain!). He was an athelete who slept only 90 minutes a day (that sounds totally crazy to me - isn't that how we break prisonsers at Guantanamo - I mean I need a good eight hours to be somewhat coherent?!), and who ran ultra-marathons and did some heavy lifting.

Here's the really funny part. It seems Chinmoy was a spiritual leader who "literally" lifted people up. He physically lifted them. It was one of his great acheivements. I mean who else can boast that he lifted: Sting, Muhammad Ali, Neslon Mandela, Sid Cesear, Desmond Tutu, Yoko Ono, Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Eddie Murphy and Richard Gere!?!?

No, he did not lift Van Morrison. But still, when all is said and done good ole Sri was quite the uplifting holy man!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dancing on the Precipice

I recently read about the late, great, French pop songster, and bad boy, Serge Gainsborough, and well, eventhough, I've never really heard his music, he seems like just my cup of tea. I guess he sort of reigned supreme in France during the late sixties, early seventies.

I was lost in the Dylan/Beatles/Stones/Who/Allman Brothers milieu at the time, I had no place for an ultra-hipster (think of a French Bogart who could write songs and sing) like Serge. I am ripe for him now. I plan on ordering some discs from Amazon to kind of catch up. Anyway, this quote from Serge (he believed he was an ugly man - eventhough beautiful women were wildly attracted to him, and he had relationships with many, including at the time, the great sex kitten, Brigitte Bardot), has resonated with me. I've been carrying it around in my head for weeks, and I thought I had to put it in the blogosphere. Here it is:

"Beauty fades, ugliness endures." - Serge Gainsborough

It's something I can relate as per my own self-image. I've always been uncomfortable in my skin. Ever since I was little, as soon as I could see myself in a mirror, or a photo, I have been disappointed. There's nothing quite like a disappointed Narcissist! But as life has gone forward, my strangeness, my self-perceived "ugliness" has sort become a badge of honor. I'm not worried about fading beauty, instead, the accumulated rust starts to turn into a dark, weirdness that is undeniable. Something endures. And the endurance itself becomes a virtue. Of course, entropy rules and well Serge finally gave up the ghost, just as we all must. Serge is gone but ugliness endures!

So anyway, this is all just a preamble to what I really wanted to write about - THE TELEPATHS! It's a band I'm in. I play guitar. It a combustible, anarchic outfit that specializes in energy and mayhem. We played out last night at Sylvies, a smoky and muggy little rock club. We did a 40 minute set. It was raw and exhilarating. I think we are undeniably the "sweatiest rock and roll band" in the city. I don't know exactly what it is - get the four of us up onstage, and suddenly the adrenaline kicks in and anything seems possible.

We were sloppy, and almost lost it completely a couple times last night, and well there's some kind of amazing kick when you realize you are dancing on the precipice. I hope we never lose that mad and loose r&r ethic. It's a cool thing, so different from the work I do with the Lovely Carla in my other band White Wolf Sonic Princess. There we are shooting for some kind of ethereal beauty. The Telepaths are definitely on the extreme other end of a dichotomy.

I feel lucky to be exploring both sides of that weird-ass equation...

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