WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Monday, April 30, 2007

Create and Destroy?

Some days you wake up and well, kind of like in the spirit of Keith Richards, you think, "I'm just happy I did wake up." Then there are those days you get up and well, you're happy to be on the planet, to be walking around and basking in the pure pleasure of existing. Then there are those days when that's not enough, you actually want to make your mark, to leave a legacy, or a body of work, or be remembered for something. I guess it's a matter of ego, or ambition, or a way of imagining a certain kind of life after death.

You'd think maybe the Zen way would be enough, live lightly and leave no trail. But then you can't help rearranging the rocks, or leaving a footprint, or bending a branch, just to leave some proof that you once walked these paths.

Some days you have to write the next play, record the next song, not because the world is clamoring for the work, but because you can't imagine not doing it. Whether what you create has any life beyond the moment is not a question that needs to be answered. It doesn't even need to be asked.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

That is Jazz


I heard an interview with Jazz great Sonny Rollins this morning. He talked about how "every sunset is different - that is jazz." Yes, indeed. At one time, Sonny unplugged from the music scene, and he played his saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge in NY. He did this for a couple of years. What an amazing image. It stuck a chord with me this morning, I too have a fondness for bridges - my particular love - the Brooklyn Bridge. Anyway, I think it's great, one of the best musicians in the human kingdom, blowing his sax to the four winds. Sonny (the old Lion) in his seventies and still going strong. Now THAT IS JAZZ!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tell Me About It...


"I been trying to make some sense/Every action I take is of no fucking consequence." - Nick Cave

Thursday, April 26, 2007

John Cage - Genre: Avant Garde, Chance, Experimental


The Lovely Carla and I participated in an event last night organized by the Black Mountain Collective, a group inspired by improvisational work done by John Cage back in the the fifties and sixties of the last century. It was a blast. I mean, it was strange and fun, and well, I guess you had to be there...it was ridiculous too...

The concept: get a bunch of painters, poets, musicians and dancers together, put them on stage, and see what happens. No rehearsal, just kind of a controlled chaos. It was quite fun, and we actually (surprise) had a nice, attentive audience that kind of went along with the proceedings.

I played guitar, or, well, I kind of manipulated my wah pedal, and basically played feedback. It was quite liberating. The Lovely Carla recited some text from our upcoming play, as well as her own poetry. Her voice stood out in the madness.

There were moments of complete cacaphony as well as quiet beauty. The proceedings were "conducted" by Dan Godston (trumpet, percussion) and David Hawkins (paint & canvas).

One of the highlights as described in the event's directions:

Section C: 8:50: Hear the Building Breathe (10 min.): During this piece the performance space is seen as a giant organism. Spectator / spectacle reversal. Focus moves from the “stage” to “audience” to other spaces in the building. We become the “doctors” who give the building a “check up.” We will be the stethoscope listening to the full organism of the building. Then we become oxygen cells that travel through the building’s circulatory system. Some of the time we will be “playing” the building, and some of the time there will be silence. The building is amplified—with contact and other microphones. Distortion and other effects can be used. The rafters, windows, radiators, and other building elements will be heard.

Hmmm, yeah, well,....you had to be there...!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I DIG THIS...


"Ordinary people only see the ashes of art, or the failures, or frozen moments. Only rarely onstage do bands achieve reality; mostly it's in rehearsals, in lost moments. Nobody ever sees that, or knows anything about it. Jim Brown would understand."

AND THIS...

"Your only reward is a genuine shot at being the best. The caveat is that no one but your brothers will ever know it. That's the deal we agreed to." - David Thomas, lead singer, founding member of Pere Ubu & Rocket from the Tombs, avant garage bands from Cleveland, Ohio.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I Didn't Know...


Something I learned yesterday:

This band, Sleater-Kinney, might be the best band in the country...I base this on seeing one video, their performance on David Letterman...not sure when they actually appeared, not sure if they're still in business (indefinite hiatus?!)...but there's something about their performance that totally knocks me out. Two guitars (no bass) and drums...so elemental, so cool, so passionate...they have that special r&r magic...wow.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Silence is Okay Too

Yesterday was one of those gloriously beautiful days in Chicago (they are rare), blue sky, abundant sunshine, temps in the eighties. Kind of set the tone for the day. The Lovely Carla and I rented a car and went to visit our moms. We made the trek out to the western suburbs where we both grew up. It's a strange trip, kind of like travelling to your past, but everything is slightly off. We're different, and places we remember are different too. I mean alot of the buidlings and trees are still in place, but even the things that haven't changed, have well, changed. We're older, the world is older too.

I visited with my mom, we talked about the weather, her emerging garden, the Chicago Bulls and well, again, the weather. There's so much we don't talk about, the silences are a big part of the trip. It's okay, we can sit in the backyard, watch the birds and squirrels flitting and leaping about, and just sit there like it's the best thing in the world to do.

I went for a bike ride. I pulled my father's old bike out of the garage, pumped up the tires, it's been sitting in there all winter, and took it for a spin. This bike, an old Schwinn Sprint, I mean it's an old clunker of a bike, it's heavy, red, rusting, it's kind of dorky, from another era, means a lot to me. I like to take it for a ride, to take it to the places my father used to take it. It was the bike he was riding when he took his last ride.

So, I'm riding down the path, pumping the pedals, clasping the handlebars. I'm thinking how I have followed my father in many things, and how I've diverged too. His life and my life so similiar and so different. I rode for a few miles, looking for a favorite bench that my father used to ride to, to sit in the sun and watch the world go by. I went to the place, but the bench was no longer there. I mean, it was there, in some way, it's there now, but there was no bench to sit on, just an empty stretch of land that kind of filled in with grass, it looked like there never was a bench in that spot. It was emptier than empty. It's only an image in my head. I used to sit here too. My father and I, talking about something, or nothing, I mean, we loved to talk, but sometimes even the silence was fine with us.

And sometimes the silence is all you are left with...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hell-fire


This last week has been my own personal hell-fire. I've been wracked by fierce headaches and stabbing pain. So odd, so sudden. I can't explain it. At the same time, I've been experiencing weird synchronicities, everything seems to resonate with meaning. It's my week of magical thinking. Maybe there's a "dislocation" from my body that has opened me up some how. I can't draw any higher meaning from any of this, I just note it. I have been treading very lightly. My grasp on things is quite tentative.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Migraine Music



As expected, my "waves of euphoria," described in an earlier post were followed by "waves of mud." I've learned that life is never one thing, it's a range of things, or a process, there's always this dichotomy and we're pinballing from one extreme to another, or somehow floating in between. So, I fell into a state of anxiety, followed by a major migraine. This is very rare for me. At the same time, I had a major breakthrough in the new theater piece I'm writing. So, I was in the midst of creative inspiration and and the same time I was reeling from intense pain. What to do? I thought of reaching for a Guinness, but I knew that would lead to a few more, and well, I could then add a hangover, with the bright bubbling of guilt to the mix. Instead, I bought a chocolate bar. I devoured the whole thing, and then I put some music on the box and draped myself across the couch.

So this is my special migraine music: Frank Zappa's "Weasels Ripped My Flesh," and Miles Davis' "Live at the Fillmore." Two absolutely brilliant albums. Not exactly soothing background music. But for some reason, the intensity, the creativity, the uncommon brilliance of this demanding music kind of cleansed me. In the age of IPOD not sure how many people actually listen to an album's worth of music from start to finish anymore. But these two artists reward the listener with such an investment. I know people bandy about the term "genius" quite liberally, but I do think Zappa and Davis are musical geniuses. They always pushed the boundaries. These two albums take you on a wild ride. There's jazz and rock and much more. The music is funny, challenging, intense, dissonant, beautiful. The full range don't you know? By the time I got to the end of the Zappa disc, "So that's what a weasel ripping into flesh sounds like!" The pain had started to ebb.

I then put on the Velvet Underground for good measure..."whip it on me Jim..." I was healed!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Dark Suspense

"At the bottom of the American soul was always a dark suspense." - D. H. Lawrence

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

War Criminal


Remember that guy who told one of our illustrious Senators (Patrick Leahy) to "go fuck yourself." That was our own President of Vice, Dick Cheney. Did you ever see "It's a Wonderful Life?" I think Dick Cheney is channeling Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter). Or no, that isn't quite it, Dick Cheney seems like a combo of Mr. Potter, Dr. No, Darth Vader...fill in the blank here _____!

Except Dick Cheney is a real life villian. He travels with a small army. Enemies are everywhere don't you know. I do think Mr. Cheney is our own free market version of Milosevic or maybe Stalin. What an abomination. It would all be funny if he hadn't done so much damage to our country.

So, when the Big Dick goes traveling he is transported in a very, very big plane, and inside that plane he resides in an Airstream. It's pictured here. There's something really strange, and sick about this fellow.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Waves of Euphoria


Writing about meditation is kind of like writing about sex, I mean, it's a very hermetic, personal thing, kind of hard to convey the totality of the experience, I mean, bascially all I can really say is, you should of been there. Yesterday the Lovely Carla and I ventured out and attended a group meditation at Invision. It's something we do once in awhile. Eventhough, we are both dedicated meditators on our own, we find that sometimes we need to "recharge" our batteries, and sitting in a room with a group of other meditators all sitting in silent, focused awareness, guided by Ken Jones (he serves as the co-pilot on this particular trip), can be an event of incredible, ineffable, power.

So anyway, I don't know if it was the coffee, the music mix I had been listening to (Lucinda Williams, Sigur Ros and Tom Verlaine), the sunshine, the position of the sun, moon and stars, or...whatever, but I came to the session, relaxed, open and alive. I had one of the most profound meditations I've ever experienced. It's strange to write about it, I mean it's kind of like having a very profound dream and then trying to explain it to someone else. Something (probably the most important thing) gets lost in the telling.

I mean, this "telling" seems like an impossible task, so why even bother? Plus, there's the thought that maybe writing or talking about this special thing actually diminishes it?

I don't know, I feel compelled to write it down. WAVES OF EUPHORIA washed over me. I sat in meditation for an hour and the waves just totally washed over me. It's the greatest feeling in the world. If only I could bottle that feeling, that experience. I mean, probably there's some biological explanation, that euphoria was a burst of endorphins flooding into my body, whatever. The feeling was just amazing. I did not want it to end. All the way home, I tried to be still, to let the euphoria reside in me. It slowly ebbed away, although, even this morning, all my senses seem to be heightened, I feel more alive than I have in quite awhile.

So I can't explain it, I can't hold onto it, not sure I can even recreate it...but I have glimpsed it...I know it's there...and that changes everything.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Doog si Efil

Good news is out there too. We must be on the lookout for the good news from all corners. Too much bad news makes the baby go blind...

Gary Kasparov was arrested yesterday in Moscow, he was detained and then released. I think he and his "Other Russia" movement are playing a cat and mouse game with Putin. Putin would be the cat. He has shown the mouse that he can snatch him at any time. But you know, the cat doesn't always catch the mouse...and sometimes the mouse does get the cheese...

When I was in Laguna Beach awhile back, (it now seems like another lifetime in a place far, far, away), I bought a baseball cap, green in color, with the words, "life is good." I thought it would be a good slogan to carry. Funny thing is, when I see it, (in the mirror) it reads, "doog si efil." Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but hey, it will do.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"I'll be there..."


The one man our little piss pot authoritarian leader (that would be Bush), looked in the eye and saw as a comrade was another piss pot authoritarian leader (that would be Putin). You look at Russia and you see some of the same trends that are happening here, playing out in a much more stark and accelerated manner there. The chess grandmaster, Gary Kasparov has been risking life and limb, standing up for a free press and free and fair elections. Russia seems to have evolved or devolved into a little police state, with Putin consolidating his power and "neutralizing" his enemies. He's doing what Bush and Rove would like to do. Bush looks to Russia and see's a "decider" who really, really gets to decide. I think he's envious. So word is Kasparov has been arrested as he made his way to speak at a demonstration in Pushkin Square. You knew this was coming. I hope he has a few secret moves up his sleeve. There are still Gulags over there, and well, there are now Gulags over here too (they are the "offshore" kind - see Guantanamo). Kasparov is a hero, a man armed with nothing but his wits...if I was the praying kind, I'd be praying for him right about now. What was it Tom Joad said...? "I'll be there..." - from the Grapes of Wrath.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Unhappy Puppet?


The sun is out today. The first day in quite awhile. I walked down to the lakefront and meditated on a bench. A good day to be alive.

For some reason Jimmy Cliff's voice kept popping into my head. He was singing the line, "The harder they come, the harder they fall." A line from one of the greatest reggae songs ever put to tape. Also, the title of one of the best independant movies ever made, and maybe the best soundtrack ever recorded for a movie...and, well, hey, that's the trifecta!

Jimmy Cliff stars in the movie and sings some other great tunes on the soundtrack. When it came out back in the early seventies of the last century, it totally put reggae on the map, in a totally international way. Jimmy Cliff kind of led the way for the reggae explosion that burst across the airwaves, the vanguard of the sound included: Bob Marley & the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear, and yes, Desmond Dekker. Plus there are all those obscure artists who made a cool record, and then, disappeared. You can find some great gems on Trojan records - they have multiple cd retrospectives - I've got one called "Rude Boys."

There is so much great reggae music, it's now a fixture in the international music scene. But no one can outshine Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley for charisma, and style, and well, they truly embody an amazing music.

So, the song the "Harder They Come," also has the line: "I'd rather be a free man in my grave, then living as a puppet or a slave." It's a catchy line, and I understand the sentiment...but man, the grave sounds so damn final...can I pick "unhappy puppet" and try to work it out?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Billy Pilgrim Died for Our Sins - Kurt Vonnegut - RIP


"If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

If I think of myself as a writer, and I do, then the man who lit the wick, who sparked the spark was Kurt Vonnegut. My English teacher in Junior year of High School had the class read a short story from Vonnegut's collection, "Welcome to the Monkey House." It was a revelation. I had finally found the Oracle, the secret of the universe.

I devoured everything I could find: Breakfast of Champions, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Sirens of Titan, Player Piano, Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle...

These were the standouts for me, but everything he wrote was informed with style, wisdom and sly wit. Thank you Mr. Vonnegut...

Oh yeah, the secret I discovered in the pages of his books - even in the darkest, bleakest moments of life: the universe laughs...it's a mad, silly, life-affirming, death defying, laugh, it rings out...you can hear it even now. Love and Peace Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Happy Generation


Can I claim that I am a member of the Happy Generation? Well, I suppose so. If I think back over my life, the good times have out-weighed the bad. Count me as one of the lucky ones.

The Tibetans are said to be "the happy people," maybe it's their Buddhism, or the high altitude, or maybe there's something in the Yak butter that just makes them look so darn joyful?!

So, this morning, I'm reminded of the changeable nature of nature. It's a spring day in Chicago, cold, raw, rain, sleet and snow, the wind is blowing three directions at once. Of course, against all common sense, I decide I must go for a run on the lakefront. Heck, it will do me good!

So I brave the elements - we Chicagoans think there's something brave or heroic about contending with the elements. There really isn't. Instead it could be a sign of simple-mindedness, but okay let's go with heroic, kind of like climbing a mountain, or jumping from a plane, or driving loaded on Jack Daniels, is there a kick to doing something stupid and then surviving it, and by so doing, beating or cheating death once again, and maybe there's a joy in that too?

So, I run, I'm pelted with snow, like darts, my shoes get soaked, the cold wind cuts through me, Lake Michigan is a violent, roiling, crashing, chaos of water...still I make it back in one piece, and well, it's almost like I actually accomplished something.

So, back to Buddha, he said something pithy like: birth is pain, life is pain, death is pain...

And then he probably smiled and said, "have a nice day." So, if you start with that in your kit bag, any little joy, or beauty, the impossibility of love, must come as a real kick in the pants...enjoy the day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Holy Spook


The Church of the Holy Spook. Shane McGowan of the Pogues once wrote a song of that title. All about the Holy Ghost don't ya know? The Holy Ghost is kind of like a mystery pidgeon, or a holy dove, I mean, I have this image of a bird, but really I think the bird was just a stand-in for a spirit, it's a visualization of the spirit of the Lord, part of the Holy Trinity. I'd say the Holy Ghost is the most mysterious of the three. Now Shane, is Irish, Catholic, and a serious drinker. He has a lyrical bent - check out some of his work with the Pogues for some definitive raucous Irish rock as well as some very powerful and poetic imagery. Shane has a little problem, the same one I've had from time to time, he likes to indulge in the old demon alchohol, it's a demon that will drive you into the dirt, and like Tom Waits, I think all three of us, at one time or another could say: "I don't have a drinking problem, except when I can't get a drink." Sometimes it's best to abstain. To show a little discipline, to teetotle, to just say "no." I find that now when I drink, even if I drink in moderation, I wake up that old demon and deep, primal feelings of guilt and pain rise up into my consciousness. I come from a long line of drinkers from all branches of the family tree - Irish, Polish, German. Man that's a combustible mix. I find that if I don't drink, those feelings stay buried in the deep. So anyway, Shane is back on the road with the Pogues after a long breakup - the drink had gotten him kicked out the band many years ago. And well, from what I've read in the press and seen on YouTube, Shane is living the debauched, rock and roll lifestyle to the hilt, with a little D.H. Lawrence and Dylan Thomas thrown in to boot. I wish him good luck. I think I'll offer up a few kind words to the Holy Spook upon Shane's behalf. The world needs it's mad, sodden, poets. Yes it does. And the Spook works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you happen to find the inspiration in the strangest places...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Light Doesn't Age


I'm not physicist, or rocket scientist, but as I understand it, light does not age. And anything travelling at the speed of light won't age either. Now even the fastest among us looks pretty damn slow in a contest with light (light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second, or 186,000 miles per second). Even an Ethiopian marathoner looks like he's standing still compared to the speed of light. So, we age, yes, we do. And as they say, life is precious, and we need to make every moment count. And even if we know it, I mean, really know it in our bones, sometimes it is hard to do. There are times we just go through the motions, or watch the clock, or forget about the moment and bury our heads in the past or the future, and well, the clock is ticking away my friends...precious moments are whizzing by - what's that, that just flew out the door (?), well, that's your life brothers and sisters!

Then there are those events that bring you up short, that take your breath away, and remind you again...yes... it's all so precious...I mean when death comes knocking and takes a loved one, or a serious illness grabs you or someone you know (it's the cancer - you know, the good kind like Charlie got in Party of Five!), or a divorce, or, well, you know one of those once in a life-time, irrevocable, occurances comes along that make you wonder what's it all about, where are you going, what makes life worthwhile and well, shit, am I really doing it?

So, yes, the light...if I can't propel myself into the universe at the speed of light, can I acquire a little of that "enlightenment," a little sliver of that precious stuff that tells me life is precious, and we are alive, and it's good...and if not, if I'm age bound, and those irrevocable events are coming for me and every one else too, is it even more precious and good and well, I guess that's one of things we're here to figure out.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Whatever Happened to the Singing Cowboy?


It's Easter Sunday, a day that has special resonance for me, "you can do what's never been done, you could sing what's never been sung." I mean, people can do some amazing things - the worst, the best and everything in between. I imagine a big stone, rolling from the entrance of a tomb, and brother, strange as it seems, it's blast off time!

If we can imagine it, can it become a reality?

So, of course, I'm asking myself this morning, "what ever happened to the Singing Cowboy?" Gene Autry was the man. He was the mold. They didn't break it, they just tweaked it over the years, and eventhough Autry kind of morphed along the way, (I mean there's a continuum from Autry to Roy Rodgers,to Bob Wills, to Johnny Cash, to Willie Nelson - my favorite singing cowboy smokes weed, has hair down to his waist and plays an old guitar with a big gaping hole in it!), that original Autry DNA can be traced from the latest to the first.

I remember watching Autry and then Rodgers on Saturday morning, roping, riding, and improbably, singing. The happy go lucky cowboy, always doing the right thing, staying in tune, and in key.

So yes, the Singing Cowboy lives...Autry rides again, and again, (I mean he is risen!), and as they say, you can't keep a good man down.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Funny Ain't It?

Ah well, how to explain it? I can't really. I fell into a very black, I mean, blackest of black moods yesterday. I wonder if it was the barometric pressure, or genetics (I come from a long line of dead people and well, they descended from some hairy creatures who liked to hang in trees oh those many years ago), or some chemical imbalance, or well, maybe it's because Sister Mary Aquanata rapped my knuckles in third grade (a left-hander don't ya know?), or maybe because my dog died when I was in high school, or maybe it was all those books on existentialism I read in college or, well, maybe it's the music I listen to now, including the Doors, Led Zeppelin and Mazzy Star, and well, maybe there are demons dancing in my head, and maybe every once in a while they stomp around just to let me know they are there?

Beats me. My mood was black. Like Long John Silver's eye-patch black. Like Witches' Brew coffee black. Like really bleak, dark, black. I started out fine, had a nice morning, things were actually looking up and then, well, some kind of cloud enveloped me. I wandered about the city in wretched state of disgust; with the world, humanity, myself. Like I said, bleak black.

So, I went with it. I didn't flee, or drown myself with alchohol, or seek out counselling or medication. I sat in the depths of the black. I didn't murder anyone, I didn't take a razor to myself. I sat and read the paper. I scoffed and laughed derisively at the stupidity of my fellow man. I laughed at myself too. So, I hit bottom, and stayed there. Then, finally, I went to sleep. A long, fitful, dream-filled sleep. And today, well, the cloud has lifted. I'm feeling bright and chipper, with just a little tiny hangover of black on the outer edges of my mind.

I can't explain it. And well, maybe I don't need to. The black cloud came over me, and then it left. So, well, if I can't explain myself to myself, how am I gonna explain anything else to anyone else either? Funny ain't it?

UPDATE: After I wrote the words above, I opened Steve Pinker's "The Blank Slate," and read the following: "Ambrose Pierce's The Devil's Dictionary contains the following entry - Mind (n.) A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. It's chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain it's own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with."

Kind of spooky innit?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Blog World

In the heat of the last presidential election, I was in a blog frenzy. I think I had about forty five blogs in my favorties folder that I'd visit to get the latest on the political scene. Recently, I cleaned out my favorites and just kept the essential blogs. Here are the blogs (political or not) I visit nearly every day.

1. Josh Marshall - this is the first blog I ever came across. I was researching some political story (I forget which one), and typed the subject in Google and Talking Points Memo came up. It's essential. Josh does political analysis and he has a team of reporters in Washington D.C. doing great work on what's happening in the corridors of power. His reporting on the Niger Forgeries, the Abramhoff Scandal, the Attorney Purge, etc. and his overall political analysis is superb.

2. Atrios - this self-described "dirty fucking hippie," (I'm one too!) has his finger on the pulse at all times. A great resource, he links to the world, a progressive, funny, blogger from the city of Brotherly Love.

3. Juan Cole - a midwestern professor of middle eastern studies, this guy can actually read Arabic. Essential information and insightful views of an extremely volatile side of the world that has relevance to everything you and I read in the papers daily.

4. Andrew Sullivan - he's a gay, British, Catholic, conservative now residing on the East Coast. He's a good writer, quite thoughtful, willing to listen to reason, can admit when he's wrong. He's been very eloquent on the horror of Abu Graib, Guantanamo, torture, and the failure of the Bush administration. He's certainly a contradiction (he voted for Bush in 2000, Kerry in 2004). He stuck with Bush on Iraq way too long. Still a great read. Often I disagree with him, but I respect his willingness to entertain many sides of an argument on politics, religion, culture.

5. James Howard Kunstler - this is Mr. Long Emergency. He usually posts once a week (see Clusterfuck Nation), but what he has to say is usually biting, funny and essential. He is the canary in the coal mine. He believes the "end is near," for suburbia and the car culture. If oil has reached it's peak and consumption continues to go up, that black gold will vanish sooner than we think. Much of America is a ridiculous joke of cheap malls, poorly built housing tracts in the middle of nowhere. When oil goes to $100 a barrel or more, won't it all come crashing down around our ears? I don't know if he's right or not, but he makes a compelling case.

6. David Byrne - a renaisssance man, a great musician, singer, songwriter, world music advocate. A great mind. It's always a pleasure to check in and see what he's up to...a world traveller, lives in New York, rides a bike. A long way from CBGB's, but then again, not so far either. He's got great insights on music, culture, politics, whatever...

7. James Wolcott - he writes for Vanity Fair, but I like reading his blog for the immediacy (plus you don't have to wade through all those perfume ads!) He came of age in the old CBGB days, he's always referring back to Television, Patti Smith, the Dead Boys, Iggy. He's a great writer, with a poison pen for his enemies. Politically progressive. Politics, music, movies. He's a pleasure to read.

Of course, there are many more great blogs out there (see my blogroll on the right!). Each of these bloggers has a blogroll of interesting blogs that they read. There's nothing like brewing up a fresh pot of java, skimming across the blogosphere and picking up the latest from great writers across the land.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fall Out Boy


The first Tuesday of every month, the city government where I reside, tests out their emergency siren. It's blasting now as I write. It's kind of a mechanical fog horn blast, I'm thinking it's a C note, blared for about sixty seconds. There's some kind of wurlitzer effect, the sound kind of swirls or pans left to right across the horizon. I'm thinking Pink Floyd could of put it to great effect.

"This is a test, it's only a test." That line always goes through my head. Yes, well, isn't it all just a test? And as Woody Allen once asked, "why couldn't it be multiple choice?" But of course, it is multiple choice. Or, at least, sometimes it seems that way. Then again, other times, it seems like the choices are made already, we are just sort of fulfilling them. So there's the illusion of multiple choice. And as the great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (yes, he's still alive, he's now in his nineties) said on the radio a few days ago, you must "be yourself," and yes, well why are all the great, insights so mundane and bland?

I guess saying the words is easy, to play the game that way, at all times, in all circumstances...maybe not so.

So yes, what if this was an emergency? What if the aliens were invading, or the bombs were falling, or Lake Michigan was Tsunamiing? What would I do then? Hide under my desk? That was the old plan, in school, at direction from the nuns. The horn blasts, hit the floor, roll under your desk and cower in fear.

I don't think so...I'm fortified with some kickass coffee this morning. So, I guess, my feeling is "bring it on." Whatever is in store, I can deal with it (or not). The proof is in the mechanics of a day.

"I was praying the pieces wouldn't fall on me." - B. Dylan

Monday, April 02, 2007

Guitar Master


Nearly two years ago, I bought an amazing guitar, made by a little guitar shop in California. I was in the market for a really nice instrument, and well, I wanted to buy an American made piece, and I thought it would be cool to seek out a guitar maker who didn't work via a big assembly line. I settled on Suhr Guitars founded by John Suhr. Probably his most famous client is Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits. Anyway, I found a retail shop in Riverside, California that carried a couple of hand-made Suhrs and via the internet, I zeroed in on the one pictured here - it's basically a custom made Stratocaster, based on Fender's classic design. When I found myself on the West Coast, (I do not recommend buying a guitar without first having it in your hands), I ended up making the trek to Wild West Guitars (which is kind of like a Disney Land for musicians), I plugged the guitar in, and well, I guess you could say I fell in love. I'm still learning how to play it, it's an amazingly versatile guitar, I've lately been trying to learn how to incorporate a whammy bar into my sound, and well, it's got three pickups and multiple settings and gee, it's a real dream to run your fingers up and down the fret-board. So anyway, yesterday was April Fools Day and I was playing & recording music, and I came up with kind of a psychedelic jam, which I entitled "Fools Day." I uploaded it here. It's another instrumental that I am making available as a free download. I'm very happy with my guitar sound (three different tracks), plus, that bass-line grounds the song quite nicely. I do love that classic Strat sound, I'm pleased to get a glimmer of it for myself...thank you John Suhr you are truly a guitar master!

UPDATE: Wow, I just checked the current stock of Suhr Guitars at Wild West, and well, I must tell you, I purchased my Suhr for substantially less than the listed prices...not sure if that means I got a lucky deal, or listed prices are misleading, or the value of these guitars are rising because of demand, or what else? I know some people buy guitars for the investment possibilities, or as collectibles, but hell, if you can't take the thing out and bang away on it like Buckethead, or Townsend, or Hendrix, or whoever, I mean, what's the use?!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Meat is Murder


An interview with legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr (now with Modest Mouse), on meeting Morrissey and about the strange alchemical connectedness of music. There's a long and winding continuum from the Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, Phil Spector, the Shangri Las, the Velvets, The New York Dolls, Patti Smith and finally, improbably The Smiths. Johnny has distinguished himself as one of the great guitarists, with an amazingly, shimmeringly, distinctive sound. Oh yeah, that guy Morrissey had something going on too!

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