WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

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

Imperfection!


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

Blog Archive