WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Bubble People

I was gonna blog about a great book I just finished, (maybe tomorrow), but instead, I was sipping some coffee looking over the Sunday NYT Business section this morning and came across some numbers that kind of knocked me off my chair.  I of course, can't really vouch for them, and I know the mischief that can be had by narrow-casting on certain numbers in certain years, but, just for the heck of it, I'm gonna assume that they are correct.

Supposedly between 1947 and 1973 (from Truman to Nixon) real hourly pay for non-government workers rose by about 40 percent.   Now get this...since then, from 1974 to 2008 real wages for workers have fallen by 5 percent!

Is is possible we've all been living in a fake bubble for all these post Nixon years?  A bubble of denial?  I mean our government lives on deficit spending, how many households live on deficit spending too?  How much is our wealth tied up in the bubble in real estate, the bubble in the stock market, the bubble in bubbles?  

How many of us are floating on Plastic and our crazy mixed up dreams of affluence?!

I've been out and about recently and I've marveled at how fat we've all become.  We are a flabby, bloated, massively huge people.  America must be one of the fattest nations ever to walk the planet.  Is it all empty calories? Have we all just become the BUBBLE PEOPLE?!  

We make less, consume more - defy gravity - now that's amazing!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Real World - Freak Show

I've been reading about some indie bands making cross country treks to do shows.  The high fuel prices suddenly make the economics even trickier.

We've been doing some local shows and we do seem to have the schlepping factor down to a manageable level.  Last night we took two trains and a bus to get to the show and back.  

What with the Cubs/Sox game, and Taste of Chicago (Stevie Wonder was the big draw), public transportation was packed with customers.  One can already see the days of burning fossil fuels in a big old automobile is becoming a yesterday kind of thing.

I have a classic little Pignose amp which I can carry in a bag slung over my shoulder, a gig bag for my electric guitar and a handy carrying case for my acoustic.  The Lovely Carla carried a tambourine, a magical egg, a microphone and a music stand all in one kit bag.

We were a smooth, efficient outfit.  The show was great.  Wicker Park on a Saturday night is a carnival.  We plugged into the PA at the Pontiac and filled the room with sound.  We came off the stage very pleased.  One of WWSP's best shows so far.  Banana Street also was in fine form. The audience really responded.  

It really is the good work. 

Made it home late, the Red Line train at 1:00 a.m. is one of the great freak shows - not to be missed.  We were on a rollicking car, folks were drunk and giddy.  It was almost like being on some weird Reality Show.  

Oh yeah, I guess that was the Real World!  I wonder if it will be renewed?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Bountiful Splendor of Soy!

This thought just occurred to me this morning as I opened the fridge, grabbed the container of soy milk and poured a healthy serving into my waiting coffee cup: If it later turns out that soy (soy milk, soy sausages, soy burgers, soy cheese, soy hot dogs) is NOT good for you, I am toast!

UPDATE:  By the way, WWSP is playing in the heart of Wicker Park tonight at the Pontiac Bar & Cafe.  Not sure how my brother snagged this prime time gig, but we open for his incredibly intense outfit, the Banana Street Band.  We do one set, they do two.  I'm actually sitting in on guitar with Banana Street.  If you're in the neighborhood come on and check it out.

Friday, June 27, 2008

R & R Thursday

I played with the Telepaths last night at a hipster place called The Spot.  A Thursday night and it was hopping.  Early in the evening there was some kind of comic burlesque show, women in black leather, feather boas, beehive hairdos and tattoos.  The place was packed for that show.

I arrived early and got shuffled to a side bar where Peter Special the opening musical act was cooling his jets.  Peter sort of looks like Tom Waits.  He's got a nice worldly demeanor.  He used to be in a band called Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows.  Peter was one of the main Mellow Fellows.  I actually saw those guys play way back when.  Peter played with Big Twist for 17 years. The band fell apart when Big Twist gave up the ghost in 1991.

Anyway, Peter followed the burlesque show with a superb set, some originals, some Dylan covers.  He did it all with an acoustic guitar and a voice that reminded me of Dylan as he sings now, also, Waits, Louis Armstrong and Dr. John.  It was sublime.

A tough act to follow.  And the Telepaths had not rehearsed as a full band in a long time.  But you know, we blazed through our set, and filled that room with unholy noise.  I think I kind of pissed off the sound guy, my Bassman Amp was cranked up and my Telecaster sounded monster - it's the same set-up Keith Richards uses - and I thought it sounded great.  I may have been the only one in the place that loved it.  But you know what?  I loved it.

Peter V. our drummer matched me with massive sonic blasts from his drum kit.  That kid is a heavy hitter, not so much about technique but more like an amazing physical graffiti!  It was a long set, a long night.  The band got paid in free Pabst Blue Ribbon Tall Boys -  and I ended up quaffing my fair share.  Home late, up early.  

Rock and Roll!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

These Assholes Work For Us!

Okay, this post from Kevin Drum takes the cake.  The Bush Administration isn't even pretending to try anymore.  I'm thinking this has to be the end of the Republican Party as a serious political alternative.  

I mean, it's been a long time coming, but now they don't even bother to pretend.  If you are thinking of voting Republican this November, I have one word of advice: Please get your heads out of your asses people!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All Clowns are Not the Same!

There's nothing like working with people you like to work with.  I mean, it's rare when you find cool, intelligent, honest people who inspire respect and trust.  They are out there people!  

I've been in other situations, where all the vast, bottomless pool of human flaws comes to the fore.  Much of our lives seem to be some weird, pernicious clown show.  If you guest on a pernicious clown show long enough, you too become a pernicious clown!  That's one of the inevitable laws.

So here's to the best of us!  And if you find yourself in a sitcom gone wrong,  Get Out Now!  You will thank yourself later!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sort of Amish

John McCain doesn't use a computer.  Doesn't know how?  Is that a disqualifier?  Even my father, bless his soul, became a computer jockey in his later years.  It says something right?  It kind of emphasizes how we are all walking around on the planet, but depending on when we were born and what we've been through, we are very different from others who were born earlier or later and went through other shit.

I guess that's obvious, it's a generational thing, but still, sometimes it sort of whaps you upside the head.  I will probably never play a video game, I mean I did play Pac Man and Space Invaders in the Disco Years, but video games will never be my primary mode of entertainment. And that probably dates me and disqualifies me from something too!*

And not long ago, I was on the train with my Walkman, popping old silver discs into the spinning mechanical device.  I looked around and felt so old world in the land of IPOD.  Sort of Amish in my own way. Weird.

By the way, if the End of the World as We Know It is really coming, maybe The AMISH WAY is coming back in our future!

* I could be wrong.  Maybe there is a video game out there now, or one in the future that will change my life.  If we live with eyes wide open anything is possible.


Monday, June 23, 2008

He Made Us Laugh


The Pop culture, celebrity world is weird.  You sort of think you know people you don't really know.  And some of those people you don't really know have a great effect upon you.  It's another way to remind us all that we really are all connected.  Even if  we can't really trace the connections, except in the invisible strings of the Pop Culture Ether.

George Carlin died yesterday.  He was one of those people that opened my eyes.  He defined (along with Richard Pryor) stand up comedy.  He emerged out of the cocktail, Vegas world of Henny Youngman, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Joey Bishop.

He became a real counter-cultural voice in the 70's.  There was no one else like him.  He was closer in age to my father than to me, but he was closer to me in his long hair, pot-smoking demeanor.  He spoke for both of us when he got up onstage and questioned all of our assumptions.  

And he made us laugh.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut!

This is a  superb article about the end of the American Empire.  It's the end, because our empire was built on cheap oil, and those days are over.  I know people right now are focused on gas prices, you hear stories on the radio where people are asking:

"When are gas prices going down?"  

I think that sums up our general clueless-ness.

I've followed James Kunstler's various doomsday scenarios over the last few years.  But Sara Robinson really wraps it all up in nice overview.

Our empire was made on oil.  We swim in the stuff, we owe our affluent lifestyles to the black gold - fuel, plastics, fertilizers, my beloved cds, wonder drugs, etc.  We've become a cheap oil behemoth.  Car culture is our most pervasive religion in the land.

And what about the FUTURE?  Check this out:  

"It's never happened that an empire that built it's wealth on one energy resource also succeeded in dominating the next resource that supplanted it.  Human nature being what it is, societies that are deeply invested in the current energy regime tend to fall into denial when that regime comes to it's natural end - either because it simply runs out, or because it's superceded  by something even more efficient and versatile.  People can't believe things won't go on as they always have, or imagine that life could be any different.  They shut their eyes to looming trouble, ignore the signs of impending doom, and refuse to make any reasonable plans to navigate the coming changes."

That kind of sums up our energy policy.  That and unleashing "wars of choice," upon the playgrounds of other's people's miseries - the lands where the big pools of oil still sit.  No blood for oil?  You must be joshing!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Only Question

The Torturers in the White House.

This is extraordinary.  Antonio Taguba, the retired Major General who investigated the Abu Graib abuses, tells us: 

"There is no doubt that the current administration has committed war crimes.  The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Road Trip

I drummed up a really cool business opportunity.  So yesterday, it was "take care of bizness, mister bizman!"  Everything went perfectly.

I had to take a road trip to Indy.  Chicago to Indy is about 400 miles round trip.  7 or so hours in a car. I needed music, lots and lots of music.  I grabbed a bunch of cds (remember those old spinning silver discs?), some I haven't played in forever, piled them in a paper bag. Loaded up on soy lattes and hit the road.  Perfect road day, blue sky, a long flat road trip into "subliminal mind-fuck amerika."

Somewhere on 65 there's a big billboard, white block letters on a black background:  HELL IS REAL.  I'm thinking, "yes it is," and it's probably located somewhere near Gary (the only town on the route that still makes stuff - see the belching smoke stacks!) or it's hidden in the cellar of some desolate farmhouse amidst the fields of corn and soy.

Anyway here's the discs (with a little contemporary commentary) that I played at maximum volume, the windows down, car flying like a magic carpet across the land.

1. Chris Whitley - Din of Ecstasy - not sure why I grabbed this one and popped it in first.  A great expressive guitar player, in love with heroin.  Every song seems to be an ode to "H."  I switched it off about half-way through.  Whitley ended up dead - overdosed on his love.
2. MC5 - Kick out the Jams - White Panthers, the "high society," in the heat of police riots and Vietnam protests.  Great garage band from Detroit recorded live.  Wayne Kramer guitar pyrotechnics. The last song on the disc (Starship) is unlistenable.
3. Led Zeppelin III - one of my favorites.  Jimmy Page on electric Les Paul and acoustic twelve string.  No one plays better. Robert Plant sings on Hats Off to Roy Harper - "ain't no monkey, can't climb no tree." Robert you are lying!  This band did not make a bad album.  Sounds even better today?!
4. Smashing Pumpkins - Gish - what a great debut album!
5. Neil Young - Tonight's the Night - I always play this one.  Over and over.  Neil Young in a very dark period.  Live, raw in the studio.  Killer band of musicians.  Exhilarating!
6. The White Stripes - Elephant - if somehow Robert Plant and Jimmy Page could have a boy child it would be Jack White. "Be like the squirrel."
7. Nirvana - Nevermind - Still sounds like a world changing album.  Kurt Cobain - r&r genius.  He found the formula and perfected it.  Plus what balls out charisma.  He brought his pain over with pure sonic energy.  Still stunning!
8. Radiohead - Amnesiac - maybe the best band today.  Not sure if you can call it rock and roll.  Beautifully realized, complex soundscapes.  Not one hummable tune or memorable chorus.  Great, profound.  I envy these guys - they have a following, with no compromises, and they seem to just follow their own artistic impulses.
9. Green Day - American Idiot - really hard power pop perfectly realized.  Maybe Billie Joe Amstrong's finest creation?  Some great lyrics.  Holds together as a complete piece.  Surprise!
10. The Who - Who's Next - they kind of opened the door on this kind of power pop.  Maximum Rock and Roll.  This is definitely their best studio album.  But I think their live albums are even more impressive - Live at Leeds, Live at Isle of Wight - listen to them rip through their catalog at the height of their power.  Take your breath away!
11. Pearl Jam - No Code - I think these guys might be the best rock and roll band in America.  Eddie Vedder is a charismatic vocalist.  Superb musicianship.  No compromise.  I don't play this often but it is exquisitely realized music.  I need to get more Pearl Jam!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Its a Hard Hit!


I love when it happens...

We sat in the park last Saturday (a sunny, blue sky day) and wrote a song.  I was working on a chord progression, the Lovely Carla had written some words.  I started playing, she paged through her notebook and found the page, and starting singing.  

The words found the chords.

It came together then.  She wrote the line: "Its a hard hit, when you remember you forgot."  I started singing and it came out: "Its a hart hit when you remember it."  A few times through and we knew we had it.

We tracked it Sunday in the home studio.  Home studio =  1. Mac 2. Garageband 3. Condenser Mic

Two voices, one guitar, live in the studio.  Simple, immediate.  We posted it here: "Its A Hard Hit."


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Zen of Ouch!

If you were rooting for the Lakers to extend the NBA championship series last night against the Celtics, well, you were disappointed.  The young Lakers, a team made up of a Frenchman, a Serb, a dude with enormous ears (Farmar), a guy with a great name (Lamar Odom) and of course, the best basketball player on the planet (Kobe Bryant) went down in flames in Boston.

They were eviscerated, decimated, gutted, drawn and quartered, flagellated, disemboweled, devitalized, pummeled,  trounced, flogged, lashed, blitzed, drubbed, thrashed, burned down, killed, walloped, whipped, slaughtered, whacked, etc.

The Celtics just romped and stomped up and down the court, and even Kobe was marginalized. One great player does not a championship make.  

They play the regular season for one thing: Home Court Advantage, and last night was a good example of what a hyped up home crowd can add to the mix. Pandemonium!

Hat's off to Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce.  Those guys have worked and sweated for years and years without getting to the big dance.  At the end you couldn't help but be happy for them.  There was no doubt who was the better team -  Zen Master or no Zen Master.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Drug Wars


Once in awhile you get the message that everything is connected.  You see the threads.  We watched "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" on DVD recently.  If you haven't seen it, I can certainly recommend it.  It's funny.  I mean sometimes it's not, it's stupid too.  But the genuinely funny parts outweigh the genuinely stupid parts.

Overall it's an enjoyable ride.  Harold and Kumar follow in the great marijuana clouded steps of Cheech and Chong, Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth.  Two likeable dudes (one Chinese- American, one Indian-American), toking and blundering their way about in the world.

This brings me to a headline I read in the Saturday NYT.  "Legal Drugs Kill Far More Than Illegal, Florida Says."  I think this is something we all suspected.  Turns out the shit those drug companies are making a ton of money on, the ones the doctors are pushing (being on the payroll don't cha know?), the ones those pharmacists are doling out so kindly, can kill you dead.  

According to the Florida study the legal stuff: Vicodin, Oxycontin, Valium, Xanax killed more people than the illegal stuff: cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine.  

Alcohol was the most commonly occurring drug in dead people.  Bud Light is the true "gateway drug."  

And how about Harold and Kumar's favorite?  What about DEMON WEED?  Zero.  No deaths. None.  I mean, I'm sure there were plenty cases of the munchies, probably a lot of spaciness and uncontrollable giggling, but NO ONE DIED FROM SMOKING POT!  And how crazy is it that we won't even let people smoke weed to help them deal with their cancer treatments?  

And what about hemp shirts and skirts?  

Insane Madness.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Inspired by the Frog

  
Jim James of My Morning Jacket talks about his influences when it comes to vocalizing.  He mentions Richard Manuel of the Band, Bob Dylan, Neil Young.  But who tops his list?  The great green wonder, Kermit the Frog.

"I remember Kermit sing and then finding out that that was actually a real person singing.  That kind of blew my mind."  - Jim James (A man with two first names - one wonders does his birth certificate read  James James?).  

Anyway, I was looking for some My Morning Jacket music to post and came across this clip from the Darjeerling Limited.*  Great flick.  Nice match of music and image for a Monday morning.

*I love Wes Andersen movies.  My favorite is Rushmore, about an overactive, underachieving, playwright who falls is love with his teacher.  It features one of Bill Murray's finest performances.  And really, all of Andersen's movies have something to offer.  The Royal Tannebaums, Bottle Rocket, and even the one with Billy Murray in a speedo (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) are all worth seeing.  The Darjeerling Limited impressed me when I first saw it, and a second viewing made me love it even more.

UPDATE:  I guess it's not enough to say, that I love Wes Andersen movies.  I have my reasons.  Andersen is a master at setting up beautiful images and matching them with great music which for me leaves indelible impressions on my consciousness.  He primarily uses music from British bands from the Sixties.  Which is always a little other-worldly, in my book, and kind of hints at a lost idealism.  Also, all of his movies deal with ambition and desire, loss, broken dreams, forgiveness and reconciliation.  There's the family stuff.  Fathers and mothers and all the different paths we must walk.  All the most important stuff, dealt with a light knowing hand, always a little whimsical and funny and sad too.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stuck

Sunday morning.  The black clouds are moving through the sky.  The rain is pouring down.  John Fogarty of all people is singing, "Stuck in Lodi again..."

The Lovely Carla: "Hang in there Jimmy."  Jimmy: "I'm hanging."

UPDATE:  Here's David Byrne, famous singer and bike-rider, talking about $10 per gallon gas!
Jumpin Jack it's a gas and not all doom and gloom! 

Did anyone say "RENEWABLES?!"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Money Eats Itself

I was speaking with someone I know and respect.  She was unhappy with the "bail-out" of stupid people who got stupid loans on over-inflated houses.  She did not think the government should bail them out.  She reminded me that other people, (the non-stupid ones) including her own family, worked hard, played by the rules, scrimped and saved, and made sure that they would not default on their 30 year mortgages.   Nothing was coming their way to help them out.

I (with no dog in this fight - I'm a renter) reminded her that already the Feds are bailing out the Money Boyz on Wall street, and that it was a little unseemly, to be making those guys whole, while letting the little guys flounder.  But then I hedged and said, but you know "it's complicated."

It is.  John Robb at Global Guerillas tells us that foreclosure and violent crime go hand in hand.  So if this trend continues we may end up with roving gangs and militias sprouting up across the land, driven by "a volatile mixture of wealth/expectation destruction, neighborhood decay (due to empty and abandoned properties), and a visceral sense of economic betrayal/abandonment..."

Mad Max sprouts up from abandoned housing developments!

I don't know why all this is sort of interesting.  I've been fascinated by the whole "sub-prime" debacle, and amazed at the billions and billions of dollars that was made and lost.  Everyone was riding the money train, and now the train hits an immovable force.  Money is vanishing before our eyes!  

I do believe it's one of the signs of the apocalypse when the Bankers don't know how to responsibly lend money. Or no maybe they knew exactly what they were doing - it's apocalypse when Bankers start acting like Crack Dealers!   Finally the last stage of decadence: the money just eats itself!  And the people? They're pissed off and just want to Kick Out the Jams!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Puppet Speaks Up!

I spotted my all-time favorite tabloid headline a few years ago at the local 7-11 (since deceased), "Ventriloquist in Coma, Dummy Still Talking."  I actually had to buy a copy.  Ended up using some of the text in one of my plays.

So, anyway, yesterday, the Puppet (referred to in yesterday's post) decided to speak up for itself.   Turns out Iraq is not playing ball with Bush.  How bush league you might say, but it is good to see that the audacity of atrocity does have limits in the real world!  

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Darth Vader Won't Die!

They are telling us this is a change election.  And both candidates are running on "change."  Since neither candidate is George Bush, I guess this is sort of true.  But the more one sees and hears our fine Senator from Arizona, the more one wonders what freaking planet those commentators are from?

The man now tells us that being in Iraq forever is okay, as long as our guys aren't dying.  This is the perfect logic that tells us "if things are going bad we can't leave, and if things are going good, we can't leave."  

Bush is actually trying to negotiate with the Iraqi puppets we've planted there to let us keep 58 permanent bases in Iraq.  Plus we'd control the air space, and we'd get to decide if Iraq has been "attacked."  Sounds like Bush's way of making an end run around Congress so he can strike Iran before he runs the string.

Turns out John McCain thinks all this is just great.  Also, he's quite impressed with the superb job Dick Cheney has done over the last eight years.  He thinks Dick might fit perfectly fine in his administration too (I was thinking Mr. Cheney should be making a visit to the World Court in the Hague!).  

Now that's change you can believe in.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Fat and Skinny


There used to be two guys, the fat one, the skinny one, the big guy, the little guy.  They lived in a cartoon world.  They were always together.  Getting into jams.  And all kinds of pratfalls and comic mayhem would ensue.  That was Old World comedy gold.

But you can take that kind of thing to the edge and it isn't funny anymore.  For instance, now, Rick Dutrow, the flop-sweating, orotund trainer for Big Brown, is blaming ("It was the ride that did him in.") the little guy, Kent Desormeaux, the tiny jockey, his regular rider, for Big Brown's poor showing in the Belmont.*

No class.  That's all I can say.  Every time a jockey gets up on a big horse, and gets in the starting gate, every time that bell rings and race goes off, every time those little dudes try to navigate through the thundering herd to the finish line; that horse, that jockey is risking life and limb.  The fat guy shouting from the stands?  Maybe he should chalk it up to a bad day and move on.

*Big Brown did have a difficult trip in the Belmont, he got bumped, he looked a little feisty, and in trouble.  Kent D. brought him to the outside to give him a clear path to victory.  When he asked for acceleration, Big Brown fizzled.  Was it the track, the oppressive heat, a bored horse, the gods of fate pulling a fast one?  Who knows?  And Big Brown ain't talking.  It happens all the time - that's why a long-shot bettor sometimes goes home with a roll of cash in his pocket and smile on his face.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Staying Alive - A Surrealistic Experience!


"Cause we're not sure where we're going, but we've managed to linger through a period where now things are changing so quickly that it's become novel in a way that Salvador Dali and the Dadaists predicted.  They said that at some point the future will bring, moment by moment, a surrealistic experience just by staying alive." - Billy Gibbons

Monday, June 09, 2008

Free NIN


There's a profile of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails in the Sunday NYT.  He's a one-man head-case, and one man band.  He's getting ready for a big arena tour.  Nine Inch Nails latest release is called "The Slip" (go here to download it for free!)

Reznor is no longer on a record label, and just like RadioHead, he is now a true independent force.  He's seems very tech friendly.  Free is good.  I just downloaded it to iTunes, the process was a breeze.  I haven't heard it all, but what I'm listening to now is quite hard and noisy, which is kind of the Nine Inch Nails aesthetic.  Drive those nails in your head!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

No Sure Thing!

I don't know if you followed the hype leading up to the Belmont horse race run yesterday afternoon in New York.  If not, I followed it for you.  One horse, Big Brown, was trying to complete the "triple crown" - a three year old winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont in a two month marathon.

Didn't happen.  I didn't bet on the race, (I watched on TV!). Big Brown was the prohibitive favorite, (1-4 odds) which means you'd have to be a real idiot to bet on him.  There was a shit-load of idiots betting on him yesterday (over 5 million dollars to win at the track alone).  

Big Brown is owned by a Hedge Fund.  Which is fucked up.  Haven't the hedge fund managers done enough harm?  Do they have to fuck up horse racing too?  What happened to the country gentlemen owners?  Big Brown's trainer (Rick Dutrow) is a real loudmouth, an arrogant dude who has been in hot water before for doping up horses - the guy's all bluster, no humility.  He talked like the other horses might as well not even show up for the race.  Yes, he was running a good horse, but good horses lose races all the time.

The ABC commentators were ridiculous too.  I mean, have any of them ever actually been to a horse race?  One guy actually said they should have suspended betting and just run the thing as an exhibition, since it was a foregone conclusion that Big Brown was gonna just bury the field and coast home a champion.  Does the stupid just burn?

So a 38-1 shot Da' Tara went to the lead early, and never looked back.  Big Brown finished dead last.  And that's horse racing ladies and gentlemen.  The long-shot, the underdog can beat the odds, can vanquish the money men, the big talkers - there ain't no such thing as a sure thing. I'm sure of it!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chicago is an Obvious Town

I'm gonna write about the weather. Which is sort of pointless. Except in this case, I have a point. We recently went from unseasonably cool, to unseasonably hot.  An aside: maybe really both states are completely seasonable!?  Today it's gonna be hot and humid - there's a certain beauty in that - the exquisitely change-able nature of the weather here in the Windy City.

Change is the thing.  That's what Zen tells us.  Chicago is a Zen Town.

And today is hot, and we're gonna sweat, and it seems like it's always been hot, and we've always been sweating, but it's not true.  Not long ago, I found myself at the Howard Street El stop, freezing my ass off.  It was cold, and it seemed like it was always gonna be cold - it was cold forever.  And that wasn't true either.

That's the thing here.  Weather-wise - nothing lasts.  Weather is our teacher.  So sometimes it gets better, and sometimes it gets worse, and sometimes it stays the same, neither better nor worse, and in fact it always just is - but no matter what, it's not for long (even when it seems like forever).  

It's the same everywhere, or not the same, but different by degrees, but living in other places maybe it's just not so obvious.  Chicago is an obvious town.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Voice in the Pines...


The story goes that a young Buckminster Fuller, mad scientist inventor, famous for the Geodesic Dome, was depressed, nearly bankrupt, had no job, no prospects, with a young wife and daughter, walked by Lake Michigan one morning in 1927, and he considered "offing himself."   

Suddenly, he found himself  suspended several feet about the ground, surrounded by sparkling light.  Time seemed to stand still, and a voice spoke to him.  The voice said: "You do not have the right to eliminate yourself, you do not belong to you.  You belong to Universe." 

Now that's the kind of pep talk we all could use!  I wonder what kind of music Kurt Cobain would be making now, if that same voice would have visited him in that Seattle attic.  Of course, there was still the "Courtney factor," to take into account, but it's hard to deny the SPARKLING LIGHT!

I've always loved Kurt's version of this Leadbelly song...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Zen Again - Hit Me!


We did the Zen thing again last night.  There were three (count em!) three Zen priests in the house, so the vibe was alive.  I had run earlier in the day, so I was relaxed and in the moment.

One of the priests did a little talk and he said that we were to be like "shining mirrors."  We reflect the world, register moments of our lives, but cling to none.  And that shining-ness, does it come from inside or outside?

One of the other priests talked about the "stick of compassion," it's an actual stick that is used to "wake up" a dozing meditator.  I guess in long sessions, when a lone pilgrim is zoning out, they can request a couple whacks from this stick to bring them back to the present.  I've not seen anyone request this stick yet!  

Anyway, I'm sitting on the black cushion, staring at the wall and then here comes Ian Dury and Blockheads.  Forget the stick of compassion, "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Iraq Attack

As Atrios reminds us, and the MSM seems to willfully forget, Barack Obama is now the Democratic nominee* primarily because of Iraq.  His candidacy rose up from the streets of pre-war protest.  Iraq was his major policy difference with Hilary Clinton.  Without that difference there was no reason for Obama to run.  

The willful ignorance and silence on the part of the Washington Establishment on this is quite amazing.  As Baghdad Bob (oops I mean Scott McClellan) reminds us, the White House lied us into an unnecessary war that has destroyed our country.  A lot of people have died or live in misery because of that lie.  And it did not make us a safer, better people.

Can we pick up the pieces and make a new Union?  That is still to be seen.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Exercising the Brain Matter

John Robb at Global Guerillas is always forward-looking.  Trying to see beyond the next bend in the road.  If I understand him right, he believes that the global system of trade and intelligence that has settled over our planet, is actually too large, too complex and too unwieldy for us to control and make work for us.  Instead it's an overly large complex system with no master - well beyond nature - and it will foster major disruptions to our ways of life.  Changes will continue to come fast and furious.   Speed will feed speed.  Is that the endgame for the whole she-bang?

Maybe thinking and acting "globally" and can be a positive new paradigm, but maybe not.  In the short term maybe our brains and worlds will just go "haywire" - too much information, too much acceleration, too many choices, a large planet reduced to a small playground.  

Robb is sort of predicting some kind of "black swan" event (a meteor?  an Alien Invasion? maybe the avian flu?) that blows a hole in the fabric of the new thing, upsets the apple cart and brings us back down to some more sustainable (reasonable) existence. 

And then there will be some kind of retrenchment.  In the pain, the tumult, the chaos a smaller scale, sustainable mode of existence will emerge - whether we want it or not.  Then again maybe all of this is poor crystal gazing.  Thinking about the future, trying to read the day and making guesses about what's gonna happen is sort of a "mug's game."  Still it does exercise the brain matter.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Simple Life

I know it has been said before, it is probably a tired cliche, and it is almost certainly true:  the best pleasures are the simple ones.  New day, blue sky, warm breeze, friendly smile, quiet conversation, good cup of joe.  Nice tunes playing on the box.  No worries, no expectations.  A long, languid, lingering moment...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

"Open your eyes, look up into the skies and see..." - Freddy Mercury

I realize this is a little "Wayne's World-ish" but last night while the Lovely Carla was watching old seasons of Gilmore Girls, I was surfing YouTube and came across this video from the Freddy Mercury Tribute concert in the 80's (it was actually in 1992!).  

Was "Bohemian Rhapsody" one of the most improbable Top Forty hits ever?  Check this out - Elton John and Axl Rose give it a big-time rock star performance.  Kind of mind-boggling - is Elton wearing a toupee, did Axl ever take off that bandanna?   Is there a cooler guitarist than Brian May?  I mean the guy also has a degree in Cosmology or something (actually ASTROPHYSICS!) and he designed and built his own guitar from scratch.  Do the Fandango!

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