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Friday, August 31, 2007

"Mama, why do they call it the blues?"

Lately, I've been really wrapped up by the big picture. The big picture doesn't look so good. I mean, there's global warming, peak oil, wars present & future. Plus species are dying, rainforests are disappearing, oceans are being polluted, the food chain is poisoned. Our government spies on us, lies to us, secretly detains and tortures us. Each morning, check out the news, be prepared for the "outrage of the day." And don't forget the universe is expanding. Our genetic code is 99% identical to chimpanzees. There probably isn't a god. No one is looking down at us with love and affection. People we love are dead or are going to die. Dead people probably don't go to a better place.

As the lovely Carla likes to say, "something is wrong."

Sorry. The coffee hasn't really kicked in this morning. Of course on the other hand...well...besides all that, I mean, hot damn, everything's great!

Sometimes you just have to go back to the micro-level of existence. Glad to wake up. Brew up a great pot of coffee. Sunny day. No pain. Maybe something good is right around the corner...

I've been in my little home studio, working on new music. I posted some tracks here. They are all free downloads. Check out my 7 minute vamp on a classic Neil Young song, which I dubbed "C the K," and check out my little ditty "The Prisoner of Love." I'm pretty pleased with the results. Anyway we must muddle through, nothing can stop the music...and well things are inexplicably, impossibly looking up!

UPDATE: Last night I was surfing YouTube and I came across this classic performance of "Idiot Wind" from Bob Dylan on tour in 1976. I love the passion and pissed off-ness he brings to this song. Seems to me his best songs always have an edge of anger, it's when the mask sort of falls away.

Although, at the same time, Dylan always seems to be wearing that Dylan mask, which seems to be the theme of this movie (multiple actors will portray the man). I'm really looking forward it!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Confederacy of Lunatics

Looking at the world, and seeing how America's use of military force is such a counterproductive and destructive tool, one figures that only a lunatic would be spoiling for the next war. Well, actually how about a contingent of influential lunatics? Names (where is the wall of infamy - these names should be scrawled in the blood that is forever on their hands) Bush, Cheney, Lieberman, McCain, Guliani...as well as a whole backup contingent of boot-lickers, hacks and lackeys.

What complete madness. Reminds one of this movie. How can we all sit back and watch this spectacle? What can we do? Where are the barricades? Should we all march to Washington D.C. and shut that city down? How long before they bring out the tanks and start shooting us down? Something is seriously wrong. Bush gets up like a little tinpot dictator and starts spewing invective at Iran, and well the audience gives him a round of applause. Shouldn't they have hooted him down? Laughed in his face? Tossed tomatoes? What fucking country is this?

Read this post from Glen Greenwald and shudder. We live in a rogue nation. One that can wreak great havoc. We are a supreme military power that needs an outlet. We gots lots of bombs, it's really the only thing still made in good ole USA, and well, don't we have to drop them on somebody? Didn't Randy Newman write a song about this strategy?

Hopefully this is all just liberal paranoia (it has gripped me real bad), but sometimes even a paranoid has real enemies...

UPDATE: And according to this post, the sales campaign for war with Iran will really ratchet up on September 11, 2007. They figure they only need about 30-40% support for their madness, and well there really are that many (at least) lunatics in this country. What a shameless, gutless bunch of assholes. Remember these war-mongers all avoided combat when they were of age. They want war, but of course the actual fighting and dying is always left to the "little people."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What's a Failed Superpower To Do?

Adam Gopnik recently wrote about France and their new President Nicolas Sarkozy, but really it's the comments on America and it's image in the world that was really striking.

Gopnik:

Now, for the first time, it’s possible to imagine modernization as something independent of Americanization: when people in Paris talk about ambitious kids going to study abroad, they talk about London. (Americans have little idea of the damage done by the ordeal that a routine run through immigration at J.F.K. has become for Europeans, or by the suspicion and hostility that greet the most anodyne foreigners who come to study or teach at our scientific and educational institutions.) When people in Paris talk about manufacturing might, they talk about China; when they talk about tall buildings, they talk about Dubai; when they talk about troubling foreign takeovers, they talk about Gazprom. The Sarkozy-Gordon Brown-Merkel generation is not unsympathetic to America, but America is not so much the primary issue for them, as it was for Blair and Chirac, in the nineties, when America was powerful beyond words. To a new leadership class, it sometimes seems that America is no longer the human bomb you have to defuse but the nut you walk away from.

...Its military weakness has been exposed in Iraq, its economic weakness by the rise of the euro, and its once great cultural magnetism has been diminished by post-9/11 paranoia and insularity. America has recovered from worse before, and may do so again. But it is also possible that the election of Nicolas Sarkozy may be seen not as the start of a new pro-American moment in Europe but as a marker of the beginning of the post-American era.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Karma

The rats are jumping off the stinking, putrid ship of state. I suppose that's good news, but one hopes there's some kind of karmic law in effect. If so, I'm figuring a whole shitload of rich Republican assholes are coming back as cockroaches or mealy worms.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Over There!

I stumbled across this blog by a dude stuck in Iraq right now. I think it really paints a vivid picture of how fucked up that whole mess really is, by someone experiencing it first-hand...not sure how long he'll be blogging, Central Command probably wouldn't approve. We are so fucked!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bush's Goddamned Hell on Earth!

Dan Froomkin:

Instead, Bush ignored public sentiment, overruled his military commanders and opted for escalation.

And now it appears that the only thing the surge has bought him is time -- nine months or maybe a year, during which he was able to postpone the inevitable.

What has that year cost America -- and Iraq? For starters, a year in Iraq translates to over 1,000 more dead American soldiers; over $100 billion more in direct appropriations; over 15,000 more dead Iraqi civilians; and countless grievous wounds and shattered families both here and there.

In light of the costs, having bought a year of time may not seem like much of an accomplishment. But if Bush can drag things out another year or so, he can wash his hands of the whole mess and leave it for his successor to deal with.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Leading Us Into the Abyss

This post by Josh Marshall says something that is in a way obvious, but well, I've never seen it so cogently and perfectly stated before.

Here are the paragraphs that whapped me upside the head:

"And here I think we get back to the root of the matter: We are bigger than Iraq.

By that I do not mean we, as America, are bigger or better than Iraq as a country. I mean that that sum of our national existence is not bound up in what happens there. The country will go on. Whatever happens, we'll recover from it. And whatever might happen, there are things that matter much more to this country's future -- like whether we have a functioning military any more, whether our economy is wrecked, whether this country tears itself apart over this catastrophe. But we'll go on and look back at this and judge what happened.

Not so for the president. For him, this is it. He's not bigger than this. His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?

And when you boil all this down what it comes down to is that the president now has very different interests than the country he purports to lead."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Infinite Sea

I'm the kind of guy who can pop in the Stones "Let it Bleed," & the Who's "Live at Leeds," and think they sound like they were recorded yesterday. These were the discs I was playing on the cd player as I was tooling down the boulevard heading to a business meeting yesterday, driving a big old black Chrysler 300M (it was the only car the rental place had available on short notice), dressed in a suit and tie, my usual shades. Don't even ask about the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. I was traveling in style, looking like "the man," with a plan. Talk about a time warp. I passed a building in Oak Brook where I worked as a young computer salesman 20 years ago. I passed another building where my father worked as a computer salesman over 25 years ago.

I couldn't help thinking I was kind of channeling my father's energy yesterday. He died in August, just like Elvis died in August and well, August now for me just has a feeling of doom and loss. I was edgy as hell, wondering who I was, where I was going. Uncomfortable in my skin. That has always been my way. So, something about the music was reassuring, reinvigorating. The hard edge of the guitars cutting through the darkness in my head, the bass and drums pounding a new and familiar tatoo on my heart.

There's something about the "Live at Leeds" disc that is always refreshing. The sound is so lively, so brutal, so primal, there's no studio tricks, just a document of a tight r&r band at their absolute peak, in the moment, a perfect blend of a strong rock voice (Daltrey), a Gibson SG cranked up beyond belief, Entwhistle's phenomenal, avant garde bass lines, and Keith Moon's volcanic, avalanche of drums. I used to play the vinyl version nearly 35 years earlier, in a little bedroom, all by myself, laying in the dark wondering just what I was doing in the world.

I got to the meeting, and acted like I knew who I was, and what I did, and how the world goes. I acted like everything was clear and neat and there were no doubts or questions. All was good and well, and hell, I was one of the "kings of the world." I left the meeting, got back in the car, cranked up the music and fell back into the infinite sea where there are no answers, only questions and well, of course, there's the rock & roll adrenaline kick that washes over me, and in some weird, unexplainable way that feeling, in that moment, the moment that opens up like an ocean, timeless, is like the only thing I can call home...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

America's Greatest Export: Guns, Bombs, Death


Glen Greenwald is a liberal blogger who writes for Salon. He's been locked in a debate with some other bloggers about America's Foreign Policy, and whether America is an "Imperialist" power. I don't think there's any doubt is there? Anyway, here's a couple of paragraphs that sum up America's historical military role in the world. I think it's testimony to how we have never really recovered from all that "Greatest Generation" malarky. We all bought into the myth many decades ago. We see ourselves as the "good guys" who saved the world from the Nazi hordes and well, we've pumped ourselves up with so much hot air ever since we're like the fucking Hindenburg of nations. We are bankrupting ourselves both economically and morally. We have become the bloodthirsty hordes we so valiantly fought. And isn't that just the way the story goes?

Greenwald:

"I think this is the heart of the matter. Put simply, there is no reasonable way to compare the use of military force by the U.S. to any other country on the planet. We spend more on our military than every other country combined. We spend six times more on our military than China, the next largest military spender. And it is a bipartisan consensus that, even as the sole remaining superpower, we should increase both military spending and the size of our military further still.

No country can even remotely compare to us in terms of the sheer magnitude of invasions, bombing campaigns, regime changes, occupations and other forms of direct interference via military force in sovereign countries. We have military bases in well over 100 nations. In the last 10 years alone, we bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Afghanistan again, Somalia, and Iraq again. Even after the end of the Cold War, we changed the governments of multiple countries from Panama to Iraq, and we've attempted (or are attempting) to do so in Iran and Venezuela. We single-handedly prop up tyrannical governments in scores of nations using financial and military aid. No other country can hold a candle to the breadth and frequency of our involvement in the affairs of other countries. That is just fact.

Obviously, that we intervene, bomb and invade far more than any other country is not, standing alone, proof that our various military campaigns are unjust. But it is rather compelling evidence that we have a far lower hair-trigger for when we use military force than any other country in the world, and we use our military force in far more places and with a far wider range of motives and reasons than any other country."

Monday, August 20, 2007

"...penetrated a black hole...and skittered out the other end."

I was going to do a Post Abbie Fest post mortem. The fest is over, but not dead, so why bother trying to dissect it like a carcass? I just don't have the energy. I don't really want to try to sum it up. (Here comes the Sum UP!) Suffice to say, there were moments of sublimity, moments of ridiculousness, moments of satisfaction and moments of disappointment.

As one of those who experienced the fest stone cold sober, I must say there's nothing like a late night debauch with a bunch of creative people jazzed up on too little sleep, too much alchohol, and enough sexual tension to power Three Mile Island.

The Hypocrites' Bald Soprano was exquisite, one of the best, most perfectly rendered pieces I've ever seen. Another show, which I know nothing about, was a monologue by a bike messenger that reaffirmed my belief in the power of art. It was a riveting piece, a little gem that came from nowhere. One actor, one monologue can blow your world to smithereens.

My own efforts with my theater group and my rock band, were kind of like playing chinese checkers in a land of chess boards. I don't know what it is, sometimes I think I'm talking another language. Where I see clarity, someone else sees obscurity. It has always been so. In pursuit of some kind of perfection we always fall short, sometimes way short. It is our human condition.

A line I spoke this morning in a phone conversation with a business collegue in a totally different context, kind of shines a light on where I am this morning: "I want to live in reality. I think it's the best bet." But then again, here's how real our reality really is...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Abbie Fest XIX

It's the Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Fest this weekend. My little theater group has participated 9 years running. It's just one of those cool events. Hard to explain how or why it's so cool, it just is. I guess it's like the Grand Canyon. You just have to experience it first-hand yourself. Anyway, we're doing scenes and our little r&r band the Telepaths will be performing today and early tomorrow. I hope I survive it all in one piece. Yesterday was the march, a ragtag group of theater people trekking across the cityscape from the shadow of the Piccasso statue, down the Mag Mile, the beachfront and then finally, inevitably to the Mary Archie theater. I took some pictures.


















Friday, August 17, 2007

No One Wears His Crown!


Many, many rock & rollers wanted to wear the King's crown. But I don't think they meant it quite this literally...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What Happens When the Prozac Wears Off?

I read somewhere that there's possibly some kind of correlation between our happy bubble existence and the use of mood enhancing drugs such as Prozac. Could it be that the Wall Street elite and all the lemming-like hordes who followed them over the debt-filled cliff have finally run out the string? Bubbles seem to be bursting all around us. Finally, it seems to be dawning on people that our President is not only a moron, but an especially malicious one. Our economy has been high-jacked by con artists, hustlers and hucksters selling us a load of shite. People seem to be waking up to the idea that maybe government should be more than a feeding trough for greedy, little bastards who have sold us down the river and frankly don't give a flying fuck for the public good. Maybe we've all been getting a little contact high from all the Prozac and Prozac wanna-be's out there. Maybe it's time we all extricated ourselves from our own little air-conditioned bubbles and started smelling the coffee. There's a big old world out there and well a bubble always bursts. That's just the way of the world...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Cool, clear, water."

The Lovely Carla tells me this morning, that according to the Witches' Almanac, this is a "water" year. Well, yes, as above, so below. I'm feeling quite soggy myself. In fact, the both of us are kind of "out to sea." Floating on the U.S.S. Transition. No time for panic. Supposedly this is a good time to let go of ego. On the one hand, "ego" is a way to hold things together. It's a bulwark against the infinite sea, but maybe without falling apart, one can let go, and kind of merge with the molecules. At least, that's one line of thought. So, yes, water. Gets you wet. It's refreshing too. Plus, it's what we contain, we're containers of water. It permeates our beings. Why fight it? It's time to take a big gulp of air, jump in the pool with both feet and kind of drift on down to the deep end. That's where the monsters hang out.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove Decamps

Andrew Sullivan has an excellent post mortem post on Karl Rove's despicable legacy here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Genius, Poet, Twat."


Did you ever see "Twenty Four Hour Party People?" It's a great, funny, inspiring movie. It was made in 2002. It stars Steve Coogan, (a role of a lifetime), who plays Tony Wilson, music mogul, impressario, and as a line from the movies says, "genius, poet, twat." The movie is a somewhat fictionalized account of the Manchester music scene in the 70's and 80's, about Factory Records and the marvelous characters who inhabited the strange little pop sub-culture that sprouted there. Manchester is a sort of dark, industrial city, a port city, that has spawned an amazing amount of innovative and cool music. Wilson was at the center of much of it, as founder of Factory Records and owner of the great, ridiculous dance club, the Hacienda.

Anyway, the movie is a real treat, a must see. It's one of those films I can see over and over, for the funny lines, the great music and Coogan's mad inspiring, embodiment of Wilson's unbelievable, unflagging creative spirit. This morning, I click on Yahoo and see that Wilson has died from kidney cancer at the age of 57. Fire up the cd player and let the sounds of the Durrutti Column, Joy Divison, Happy Mondays, and New Order wash over you. These bands would not have existed without Wilson and Factory Records. Wilson was truly one of the greats, he will be missed. Cheers to you Tony Wilson!

NOTE: Tonight my little theater group, Black Forest will be at the Peter Jones Gallery doing the Flaming Eyeball scenes (something we'll also be doing next week at the Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Fest). Also both of the rock bands I'm in, the Telepaths and White Wolf/Sonic Princess and the Enthusiastikatz will be performing. There's also an art show going on, there will be a keg a beer, it will be ungodly hot with no A/C, and well, we are expecting a cast of thousands. Just the kind of wacky event Tony Wilson might have put on. I will be trying to channel that indomitable Wilson panache & brio in every last living moment!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dog Days


It's the dog days of August. Bridges are collapsing. The stock market is tanking. Uncle Sam is slowly bleeding from an open wound called the Iraq war. One begins to get the feeling that this big, old empire is held together with chewing gum and baling wire. Are we finally at the "wizard of oz" moment? When we see the man behind the curtain is just a smiling, glad-handing, buffoon?

In my version of the movie, when the Wizard was exposed, Toto would have turned to the lovely Judy Garland, the famous snare drum would kick in, Michael Bloomfield's guitar would start wailing and Toto (with a dylanesque growl) would sing: "Once upon a time, you dressed so fine..." And then, at the chorus, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion would all join in: "How does it feel? To be on your own, no direction home, like a rolling stone?"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Burma Shave Law


So, sometimes, just before the Lovely Carla and I fluff up our pillows, turn lights out, and head for dreamland, we encourage each other to "get an answer." You see, we believe in prophetic, or visionary dreams, eventhough, they are a rare commodity, few and far between.

Well, last night, I had one. Or at least that's how I'm interpreting it this morning. It was a real Moses/Burning Bush moment. I was bathed in light, and in conversation with a faceless, bodyless being. Or no, I can't really say it was a being, it was just a voice, a big booming voice (sort of reminded me of Charleton Heston's voice when he played Moses in Cecil B. Demille's campy classic "The Ten Commandments"), and this voice boomed out above my head, and at the same time a placard, a big, bright, shiny placard with one line, appeared before me, which read as follows: THE BURMA SHAVE LAW: NEVER LOOK BACK!

That's it. I looked at the placard, did a double-take, repeated the words to myself, and then it vanished, the placard and voice were gone, and well, I was left to fend for myself.

Now I realize the message itself isn't really all that prophetic or visionary, I mean, there's nothing radical, or new, or mind-altering about it. And well, I actually rarely do look back. I do my best to live in the moment, it's there where we are truly alive, but the manner in which it was delivered was quite impressive, very theatrical, and well I guess it's the whole presentation that had an impact on me.

Plus, to call it the Burma Shave Law, that's clever. I mean, Burma Shave was a product that had a unique marketing approach that kind of became famous in the 1950's. There were a series of road signs spaced along a highway, each with a few words and then finally the payoff. You cannot read these backwards. You must always be looking ahead. Or well, you must always be present, in the moment to make any sense of anything. Anyway here's two examples, in a way, they're little Burma haikus:

SOAP
MAY DO
FOR LADS WITH FUZZ
BUT SIR, YOU AIN'T
THE KID YOU WUZ
BURMA SHAVE

A WHISKERY KISS
FOR THE ONE
YOU ADORE
MAY NOT MAKE HER MAD
BUT HER FACE WILL BE SORE
BURMA SHAVE

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Wild Ass Ride!

Do you feel it? Something's in the air. The worm has turned. Our little bubble world has been punctured. You can almost hear the slow hissing of collapse. It's not just me. Other people are starting to notice too. The paradigm is shifting. Every last aspect of our little bubble world (economics, politics, religion, the family, pop culture) seems like it's running down and out - entropy. Someone else dubbed the next phase we are entering - "creative destruction." Should be a wild ass ride!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

God in the Sunshine

There was a time in the sixties, when supposedly people were writing "Clapton is god," on walls throughout London. There was certainly a time when that dude was channeling a higher power. He was a student of the blues, I mean, when he started out, he was the ultimate blues purist, weaned on Robert Johnson, Albert & B.B. King and other old blues cats like Robert Lockwood Jr.

After serving in the John Mayall Blues Band, Clapton went on to a power trio with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Three over-sized talents with over-sized egos. They made a couple of great psychedelic blues discs including the double album beauty "Wheels on Fire." Here's another great YouTube clip. Clapton's Cream outfit doing "Sunshine of Your Love." The only other power trio that could go toe to toe with these guys was the Jimi Hendrix Experience...and well, that band leader was in another orbit completely. But here is Cream in their glorious prime...sublime. Check out the deep, biting tone Clapton gets out of that multi-colored Gibson. Yeow!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

"If I ain't dead already..."

Wouldn't it be cool if someone posted a clip of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell jamming out on Lennon's blues tune, "Yer Blues?" Yes, indeed, it would...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

"A Lesbian Who was Gyped."


It's been "hot time, summer in the city." A perfect excuse to go to the movies - think - air conditioning! Yesterday, the Lovely Carla and I went to see David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," originally released in 2001. It's a great, engaging, Hollywood epic. One of Lynch's best. A story of dreamland and the nightmare mirror-world. We totally submerged ourselves in the beautiful saturated images. Anyway, afterwards, the lovely Carla heard this from one of the theater-goers, explaining, "what the movie was about," to a group of wide-eyed innocents: "It's about a lesbian who was gyped." I guess that's as good a summary as any other... THE COWBOY: "You'll see me one more time, if you do good. You'll see me two more times if you do bad."

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