wwsp albums on bandcamp!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

There is a way, is there a will?

According to Robert Kennedy Jr: "North Dakota, Kansas and Texas alone produce enough harnessable wind to meet all of the nation's electricty demand. As for solar, according to a study in Scientific American, photovoltaic and solar-thermal installations across just 19 percent of the most barren desert land in the Southwest could supply nearly all of our nation's electricity needs without any rooftop installation, even assuming every American owned a plug-in hybrid."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Wild Bunch Rides Again!


I always wanted to be a cowboy. My mom has a picture of me with cowboy hat, six gun, blowing candles out on my 6th birthday. It never really came about. I once went to a dude ranch, and I was the only kid who fell off his horse.

I never knew I wanted to be a Telepath. It's become my little band of brothers. It's kind of like being in the Wild Bunch (does that make me Ernest Borgnine!?). We are kind of a gnarly lot, and we like to make an unholy racket. Some bands like to sound good, we just like to SOUND!

Anyway, we had a rehearsal last night, which is never really a rehearsal, instead it's more of a sonic blood-letting. We like to play loud. Reminds me of Iggy Pop talking about when the Stooges went into the studio to cut their first album, they cranked their amps to the max and wailed. John Cale, who was producing at the time, thought they were totally nuts, that was not the way to record an album.

The Telepaths are in that mold. "Brutalist architecture." That's how Cory our bass player described our sound last night. We all took that as a compliment.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"That's my pig." - Roger Waters


Okay, this is hilarious. Roger Waters closed the Coachella festival in California last night. Giving a "greatest hits" Pink Floyd show without the Floyd. The other Pinksters can't stand to be on stage with the man. Here's the grand finale as described by the AP:

But Waters' biggest prop was an inflatable pig the size of a school bus that emerged while he played a version of "Pigs" from 1977's capitalism critique, "Animals."

The pig, which was led above the crowd from lines held on the ground, displayed the words "Don't be led to the slaughter" and a cartoon of Uncle Sam wielding two bloody cleavers. The other side read "Fear builds walls."

The underside of the pig simply read "Obama" with a checked ballot box alongside.

As Waters drew the song to a close, flame bursts exploded on the sides of the stage and the swine floated into the night sky. Waters said sadly and comically, "That's my pig."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Go, Go, GTO!


Wow, I came across Kim Morgan's blog, Sunset Gun, via James Wolcott from Vanity Fair. Movies, music melodrama. Indeed. She's definitely got something going on there.

Anyway, I love her list of top ten car movies. And yes, I can heartily agree that "Two Lane Blacktop" is a masterpiece. I just recently saw it on a fresh new DVD.* Anything with Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton is gonna be up high on the list. But Monte Hellman pushed the car movie to the absolute brink. The best ending ever!

And who else could drive like Steve McQueen except Steve McQueen?

Of course, I'm thinking Warren Oates' other great starring vehicle should be on the list, even though, it's not primarily a car movie, but still - there's nothing like the mad fever dream brilliance of Sam Peckinpah's "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia." Warren has a great scene in a car talking to a severed head. Now that's entertainment - and so much more! And what about "Repo Man!?" I mean it's got Harry Dean, and it's about repossessing cars and the ending is one of the great car rides of all time!

* I originally saw Two Lane as a teen on a rare trip to the cinema with my father. That was when he was a high-energy, bundle of nerves kind of guy - I can't imagine now how he was able to sit in a dark movie house for 90 minutes without jumping out of his skin. Still, my dad was a total movie freak, he connected me to stuff from the 40's and 50's - On the Waterfront, The Westerner, Treasure of Sierra Madre, Gunga Din, Beau Geste, Casablanca, Maltese Falcon, Shane, and then opened me to the edgy stuff in the 70's that made such an amazing first impression on me - Mean Streets, Two Lane Blacktop, The Long Goodbye, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Wild Bunch, The Getaway, Junior Bonner, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, The Godfather. When I see a movie now, I see things through his eyes too...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Naked Lunch's Dad

"The function of art and all creative thought is to make us aware of what we know and don't know we know. You can't tell anybody anything he doesn't know already." - William S. Burroughs

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For the Emptiness

We played some music last night, getting ready for a show on Saturday. It was just two of us. One guitar, two voices. We played in an empty theater space, in the middle of a set for someone else's show. Almost two hours of originals. For some reason, everything was aligned. The sound was perfect, the guitar was smooth, like butter in my hands. Our voices were on key and in harmony. The seats were empty, the building was quiet, except for our hopeful sound. I don't think we've ever sounded better. It was some kind of breakthrough performance. For no one. For the silence, the emptiness. No tape machine rolling. These sounds vibrating out into the night.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"It Ain't Necessary..." - Bob Dylan

Sara, our bass player in WWSP, came by last night to lay down some bass and vocals on a couple of new songs we are working on. Some good new stuff.

Not a bad way to spend an evening. Better than TV!

"Rock is about a micro-moment. It's not even about a year - it's about, like a day. These songs are time-coded with a date on them. Rock does not feel separate from its time, which I don't feel about jazz, classical, any other shit. It was disposable stuff, and whatever these people did to make themselves important in the eyes of eternity, the stuff only works if it got under your skin in the moment. I hear it and smell the day I heard it." - Richard Meltzer

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cheaper


"Everything is cheaper than you think." - Neil Young


AND ON ANOTHER NOTE:




"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness– and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they’re selling– their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." - Arundhati Roy

Monday, April 21, 2008

How Mushrooms Can Save the World!

Spring in Chicago. The greenery, the birdies chirping in the trees, the lake blue and dazzling. Spring is hope and hope springs eternal.

Nature is a teacher. A hard teacher. If we are to survive as a species, we need to start listening to the teacher.

Check this out. The Lovely Carla turned me onto this...

Can you believe it? Mushrooms might help us save the world! BIO-REMEDIATION! Let's give it whirl!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Successing Ourselves to Death!

Successing ourselves to death. I'm thinking that's our global malady. Too much of everything is killing us, killing the planet, and in the process we are over-loading our little noggins, and can't really adequately process all the information swamping our senses. Plus, in a strange subtraction by addition - the more of everything we have makes everything less and less.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Fear of Being Stuck in My Mind."

I'm still stuck on the latest New Yorker. There's a great little article by Nick Paumgarten, about elevators, that didn't seem all that promising, but is actually quite good.

I learned this: "Loading up an empty elevator car with discarded Christmas trees, pressing the button for the top floor, then throwing in a match, so that by the time the car reaches the top, it is a ablaze with heat so intense that the alloy (called, 'babbitt') connecting the cables to the car melts, and the car, in a fireball now, plunges into the pit: this practice, apparently popular in New York City housing projects, is NOT ADVISABLE."

Later in the article - a man with elevator phobia is quoted thusly: "I don't have a fear of dying in an elevator, or of the elevator losing control - I have a fear of being stuck in my mind."

I understand.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Unprecedentedly Deep

I just checked out the latest New Yorker, great stuff, and came across Jonathan Franzen's "Letter from the Yangtze Delta." A good read. One striking fact: Shanghai is now approaching 20 million inhabitants.

Here's Franzen writing his first impression of this gargantuan megalopolis: "It was as if the gods of world history had asked, 'Does somebody want to get into some really unprecedentedly deep shit?' and the place had raised its head and said, 'Yeah!'

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Little Blue Globe

The Lovely Carla watched this movie, "The 11th Hour" about our global crisis. Yes, the globe is in crisis and it is late in the game, really, really late. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Anyway, it's supposed to be a real good movie.

I'm thinking I might need to fortify myself with some wine or chocolate and watch the thing myself. One thing she mentioned that kind of whapped me upside the head. Since I've been on the planet, the population has basically doubled in size. There's something like 6.65 billion people frolicking about this little blue globe right now.

Man. You'd think one of them would have a good idea how to get us out of this mess we've found ourselves in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chicago's Finest

I spent some quality time on headphones recently, listening to all kinds of music. One disc that totally re-asserted itself in my consciousness is Wilco's "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel." It has rightly been hailed as a great record. It also has a great back-story in that the record company originally rejected it. No good reason given. It sat in limbo for almost a year, and then Nonesuch released it. It was considered one of Wilco's best, and propelled them into the forefront of great, edgy bands.

It really is a superb collection of music. Jeff Tweedy sort of reminds me of a Midwest American version of Ray Davies. Less flamboyant, less whimsical, but intelligent, sensitive, with a good melodic sense. On headphones it really zings you with all kinds of unique sounds. Wilco takes a song then deconstructs it. It lets some of that deconstruction serve as a counterpoint to good basic rock and roll.

I know a million discs have come and gone since then, and Wilco has released a couple of great discs since. But "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel," really does stand up as a great disc for the ages.

This is a clip from the documentary, "I am trying to break your heart," filmed during the making of the record. It's got some great shots of Chicago as well as the first cut from the disc.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rabbit Holes!

I disappeared down a rabbit hole, chasing rabbits, real and imaginary. A somewhat satisfying and mystifying adventure. That's how it goes.

So I've been off the "internets" for a few days. Which is not a bad thing. But I'm back. Regular posting should commence!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kiss Me, Stupid!


Watched Billy Wilder's very wacky 1964 movie, "Kiss Me, Stupid," last night. It's one of the great lost movies, about a lost time too. Dean Martin plays an Italian singer named Dino. It's probably one of his finest performances, he's basically playing the Rat Pack lothario he had a reputation for being - not bad casting. Kim Novak is great too, although supposedly her role was originally written for Marilyn Monroe, which would have been perfect. Still Novak is quite good in the role. Also, Peter Sellars was originally cast to play off of Dino, which would have probably propelled this into instant classic status, but he had to take a pass after having a mild heart attack and Ray Walston, the martian from the TV show, "My Favorite Martian," tries to fill his shoes. The movie is a real oddity. Superb. The DVD version we saw was a pristine print, glorious black and white. Of course, they don't make them like this anymore. They didn't really make them like that then either. But Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond truly were movie making geniuses.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Euphoria in a Breath!

I heard a story this morning on the radio about this drug NARCAN. It's shown to be successful in saving people from a Heroin overdose. There is some controversy about whether this drug should be distributed to users or not. A simple answer would be a question, "If it saves lives, why not?

But what really caught my attention was the discussion of how the opiates in Heroin connect with a receptor in the brain that induces euphoria, but this same receptor also sends a signal to the body to breathe really, really slowly. What happens sometimes is that the body actually just stops breathing. Thus a pleasing high turns into the Long Goodbye.

The thing that intrigues me is the idea that maybe breathing slowly in and of itself can also induce euphoria - without any deadly side effects. Isn't this the secret all those Yogis and Swamis and Buddhas and other assorted holy men and carnival barkers have been talking about for centuries?

Sit in silence and BREATHE! Slowly, attentively. Euphoria is right around the corner. Don't need no stinking drug pusher man, don't need no stinking witch doctor shoving pills my down throat! It's simple, clean, and free! By George, I think I got it!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Over-Stoned!


Maybe I should turn this into the Rolling Stone network. Just kidding. Man, I have Stones on the brain. I was paging through Guitar World magazine and came across this quote from Keith Richards from 1997. I know there might be something wrong with me if I start looking to Keith for wisdom, but there it is, and whatever the dude has going, well, it seems to be working for him just fine.

"The blues are probably the most important thing that America has ever given to the world. From Leadbelly to B.B. King to Buddy Guy and all the stops in between - it's just such an amazingly flexible form. It's a musical form that just seems to be inexhaustible in its potential. It speaks so deeply because we all probably come from Africa, we just went north and turned white. But if you cut anybody open, bone is white and blood is red. It's kind of deep you know? And I think maybe the blues speak to us in that way: ancient bone marrow responding to the source." - Keith Richards

UPDATE: Keith may have the blues, but one suspects that posing for this picture by Annie Liebovitz featuring Louis Vuitton luggage probably paid for more than that vintage Gibson guitar.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Munch Plays a Stone


I'm still sort of stuck on the Stones. I watched some You Tube stuff last night, checking out some of their songs, kind of breaking down what Keith Richards and Mick Taylor were doing back in 1970. Some great stuff, but really beyond analysis. It's kind of like trying to dissect a cat to figure out how it ticks. By the time you get through analyzing all the parts, all you're left with is a dead cat.

Some of the best Stones songs are just too damn simple. They should not work, they should not be great. In their case, a great band, a great song, is truly the sum total of the parts, it's the collected energy where the magic resides. The accumulation of little pieces somehow adds up to a greater thing.

This brings me to the forgotten man, a guy who has played with the Rolling Stones since 1993, Daryl Jones. Daryl nicknamed "the Munch" replaced the original Stones bassist Bill Wyman (Bill couldn't take it anymore!). Daryl has also played with some of the greats including Miles Davis, Eric Clapton and Madonna (!) I was interested to see if Daryl was going to get any screen time in Scorcese's movie. He did, as he should. The guy is a killer bass player.

Of course some of those original bass lines written by Bill Wyman or Keith Richards are indelible. Daryl really gives the current Stones lineup a great foundation. Some of the songs in the movie really move, some of that is because of the touch of "the Munch!" I mean after playing with Miles, there ain't nothing these English boys can throw at him that's gonna throw him!

Daryl is billed as a "sideman" but he really should be billed as a Stone, except that would probably bump him up to a higher pay grade. Remember Jagger majored in Economics - it ain't gonna happen!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Old Glorious Reptiles, and I like Them!


We checked out the new Stones movie, "Shine a Light," yesterday. I'm thinking the story of the Stones is kind of like a story in one of those nature documentaries where we follow the life of a sea turtle. The mother turtle lays thousands of eggs, and the eggs that don't get eaten by the fish, the ones lucky enough to actually hatch into little baby sea turtles, who somehow escape the birds of prey waiting for them on the beach, those last few stragglers who inexplicably survive to become mature sea turtles, well those lucky, plucky soul survivors are The Stones. Think of all those others who just didn't make it, or flamed out, or faded away, or lost their mojo.

Crusty old beasts up on stage, flailing away as if their lives still depended on it. That's what Martin Scorcese captures (16 cameras, superb sound) in all their glory. These are old road warriors who wear every moment of their existences on their bodies. Keith Richards is otherworldly, almost reptilian, Ron Wood a sort of dessicated scarecrow. Charlie Watts still reminds me of Harpo Marx, sardonic grin, silent, with a powerful drumbeat. And then there's Mick Jagger. He defies time and nature, even as he shows all the lines and scars from a life well-lived (those lines on his face are mainly laugh lines!). Mick is still an extra-ordinary showman. His schtick is still (as once characterized by John Lennon) superb "fag dancing."

If you love the Stones the movie is for you. If not, not. In a big way. It's a concert movie. Almost two hours worth of music. And really I agree with Scorcese the music is the thing. The music, the songs, stand the test of time. Great rock and roll, put over with style, bravado, panache. The Rolling Stones are an essential band in the history of rock and roll. "Let It Bleed," may be the greatest rock and roll album ever recorded (apologies to the Beatles "Revolver," Dylan's "Highway 61," and Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Lady Land") and "Exile on Main Street," "Sticky Fingers," and "Beggars Banquet," are high on the list too.

These guys are old (which is not a sin!), and they don't act their age, (which is inspiring!), they are millionaires (they paid their dues!), they haven't written a great song in at least twenty years (they have an incredible back catalog!), and still, I don't begrudge them a thing (they have always seemed TRUE!). They are amazing. They are alive. And still true to some rock and roll ethic, where the music, the feeling is EVERYTHING.

UPDATE: Just a point of clarity. The Lovely Carla points out to me that of course, the sea turtle eggs are laid on the beach, and then at night, when the tide comes in the little ones that hatch make a charge for the water, that's when they can get picked off by the birds!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Golden Day

We had one of those golden days yesterday. It was sunny and 60 degrees, and suddenly everyone was out and about. It was like a tribe of cave dwellers who suddenly emerged blinking into a blazing new world. We walked the lakefront, it was quite the scene -- when the sky is blue, the lake is too.

Sara our bass player came up to visit us, and we recorded some new tracks for our band WWSP in our little home studio (a Mac, a mic and Garageband!). I think we're getting even better as we go. I love the new titles we have so far: Tricks on the Brain, Lavender Rays, the Mirror. Sara tracked her bass, she has an old Fender bass that gets a real nice, deep resonant sound. She has really blossomed as a player.

Then we went over to the Brothers K Coffee shop on the corner and signed up for the open mic. There is such a great vibe at the Brothers K, it's a real neighborhood hub. A guy named Thomas runs the open mic, he's a guitarist who specializes in exquisite jazz stuff, one of his favorites is Django Reinhardt. There was also a guy named John who is kind of an old-timer, (older than me!), who blasted through a great acoustic version of the Who's "Pinball Wizard." John reveres the classics and he brings them across with panache. Plus he's got one of the sweetest voices you'll ever hear.

There was some other cool stuff, someone did an acoustic White Stripes song, a Dylan, there was a Cryin Shames song too. Then we got up, the three of us, me on guitar, Sara on bass and Carla on vocals. We put across three of our new songs. It was great, a good mix, Carla sang with confidence and grace. Everyone listened attentively. You can really feel it when an audience is with you. We finished and the audience clapped and cheered. It felt really good.

Like I said, it was one of those golden days...

UPDATE: Miles Raymer of the Chicago Reader tipped me to this great video mash up. Sergio Leone and Arcade Fire. A perfect match of image and sound. Check it out!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Perfect Being?


According to NPR this morning, Bette Davis was born 100 years ago today!

"When they need a broad with balls, they call me." - Bette Davis

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Present Never Ends

According to an article in this week's Chicago Reader, when Del Close, improv master and impresario* lay in a hospital bed dying, he basically threw a party and many of his former students and associates came to pay their final respects.

It turns out Del was a pagan, and he invited a pagan priest and a pagan priestess to come and conduct the Ritual of the Four Elements for him.

I really like this part: "The god blesses you with the strength you already have - the strength of humor. For in the middle of a joke, there is no past, there is no future, there is only the present, and the present never ends."

*Del Close taught and inspired some of our best comic talents including: Mike Nichols, Elaine May, John Belushi, John Candy, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Tina Fey and Larry David's "father" Shelly Berman. Now that's quite the comedy cavalcade!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The World is Completely Nuts!

I guess we knew this already. I'm paging through the NY Times this morning, and I'm reading about the stock market in Shanghai. It seems there has been a huge run-up in stock prices (over 500 percent in two years) and everyone and their brother, mother, aunt and uncle have been playing the market.

Now surprise, surprise, the market is tanking (down 45 percent since October). And as the Times puts it: "Suddenly millions of small investors who were crowding into brokerage houses, spending the entire day there playing cards, trading stocks, eating noodles and cheering on the markets with other day traders and retirees, are feeling depressed and angry."

Come on people, what were you thinking? You want to blow some dough? Come join me in the grandstand at Santa Anita. I mean, at least with the ponies there are fewer middlemen! And if we get a sunny day, no better place on earth to be.

But anyway, it was this part of the story made me want to fall on the floor and laugh like a mad coyote - ""Shopkeepers, real estate brokers, even maids and watermelon hawkers are said to have become day traders. A NEW VERSION OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM MADE IT'S WAY AROUND THE COUNTRY LAST YEAR, BEGINNING...'ARISE! YE WHO HAVEN'T OPENED AN ACCOUNT! POUR YOUR GOLD AND SILVER INTO THE HOT MARKET.'"

Kind of puts the Star Spangled Banner to shame don't ya think?!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Joys of Friendship!

Richard Brody writes about the friendship between Francois Truffant and Jean Luc Godard in the latest New Yorker. Brody calls them "abandoned children," who each found a path via the cinemas of Paris, together watching American films by Hitchcock and Hawks.

They became the key Surfers of the French New Wave. Their first films tell the story well, Truffant's "400 Blows," and Godard's "Breathless." And one could tell even on the first viewing of each film that these two had very different ideas about what films are, and what they should be.

As Brody puts it, Truffant was an outsider, looking to get in, and Godard was an insider, looking to get out.*

I have only seen a fraction of their collective output. But I think the last shot of "The 400 Blows," is still one of the most powerful, breath-taking moments in film. And "Breathless," changed the way I looked at French films and American films too.

Truffant is gone, Godard is still with us. They started as friends and then became diametrically opposed forces in French film. They ended up attacking the other quite brutally in letters and articles, both private and public.

Godard thought Truffant was ultimately a fraud and traitor to the cause of re-making film. Truffant, I think, was baffled and displeased by Godard's burning, lacerating contempt. Truffant had the best lines, he told Godard that he should make an autobiographical film called, "A Shit is a Shit."

Also Truffant once told Godard: "Like Sinatra, like Brando, you're nothing but a piece of shit on a pedestal."

Although, I kind of lean towards Godard's demonic approach, I must say, "Good one Truffant!" He was able to insult (maybe deservedly so), three titans in one simple but cogent line!

*UPDATE: I'm thinking I'd characterize myself as an OUTSIDER, LOOKING TO GET OUT!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Oh Buddha, Come On, Let it Go!

I started my morning, sipping coffee, listening to Wilco's "Sky Blue Sky," and reading an article on the Dali Lama. I came across what was purportedly the Buddha's last dying words - "Strive on, diligently."

Boy, you have to hand it to that Buddha guy, he was sort of like Yogi Berra, always had something to say.

You might think appropriate last dying words might be: "Arrrrggghhhh!" Or maybe, "Ohhhhhhh!" Or possibly, "Oh no, not now!" Or maybe, "Oh shit!"

Was it Yogi who said, "It ain't over til the fat lady sings." I don't know, and I'm not gonna go look it up, I mean, Buddha, Yogi what's the difference?

It would be just like that Buddha Dude to still, even in his last moment, sort of encourage us, to egg us on, so to speak, for us to keep on keeping on. And what about Jerry Garcia, Captain Trips? Isn't it obvious his last words were, "Keep on Truckin."

"Okay, whatever."

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