wwsp albums on bandcamp!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Out standing in a field!

I posted a couple of new songs over here. It's jimmy m. the hermit and the all hermit all stars! I'm thinking of making a disc called, "all hermits are not alike."

It will be a must for all those aspiring hermits out there. We must stick together. No wait, we can't stand to be in the same room with any one else.

The Cheese stands alone!

P.S. "E.A. Poe" is dedicated to God and his great re-working of The Raven!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Trust Yourself, Then Again...

The Black Swan has me by the lapels and keeps throttling me.

Not sure if this is "provable" (although some studies from evolutionary psychologists are cited) but it certainly rings true...

"True, our knowledge does grow, but it is threatened by great increases in confidence, which make our increase in knowledge at the same time an increase in confusion, ignorance, and conceit." - Nassim Taleb

Other gems.

Be wary of the "experts" in bespoke suits.

And anyone who predicts the future.

We're really good at "explaining" what happened after it's happened. Not so good at seeing what is coming round the bend.

Our brains might be wired to actually help us deceive ourselves from our own incompetence.

Bad Brain!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Black Swan...

OK.

So there's the known unknown.

And the unknown unknown.

And there's the place (as per Nick Tosches) Where Dead Voices Gather...

And 99.00% of the species that have walked the planet are extinct.

And we are the supremely confident Lucky Duckies still kicking around who think we have it knocked.

And we are all quite skilled at blinding ourselves and each other.

Situation Precarious!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tragedy and Hilarity

I just dipped my toe in Nassim Taleb's "The Black Swan." What an eye-opening read.

It confirms my sneaking suspicion that what we don't know is probably more important than what we do know. And what we do know is more limited and flawed than we think.

We don't know what we don't know, and foolish beings that we are, we think we know more than we really do.

And we think that what we don't know isn't really all that important.

Which leads us to all kinds of tragedy and hilarity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's all about the hair, baby!

Our Governor here in Illinois, let's just call him Blago, is a very, very funny guy!

Gandhi - non-violence. MLK - civil rights. Mandela - grace and peace. Blago - HAIR BALL!

I must admit that I voted for the guy. My only excuse, he was running against a Republican.

We do have a tradition here in Illinois. First the Governor's office - then jail. It's quite the career path.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"You can't get lost if you don't know where you're going." - J. Jarmusch

I watched (again) Jim Jarmusch's great movie "Down By Law" last night. Made in 1986. In glorious black and white. It features two musicians - John Lurie and Tom Waits. Plus that wacky Italian, Roberto Begnini. They make a great trio.

Cinematography is by the incomparable Robby Muller. Jarmusch may be the greatest living American movie maker today. Or at least my favorite. He is the man responsible, for "Broken Flowers," "Dead Man," "Ghost Dog," "Mystery Train," "Night on Earth" "Coffee and Cigarettes" and "Strangers in Paradise." All worth seeing multiple times, and savoring.

"Down by Law," is beautiful, funky, elegaic. It has a real old-timey feel. Some of the best moments are when the camera lingers, or slowly pans (always right to left), with some stirring or haunting music in the background. The best moments are the ones you can't put in a box.

And then Tom Waits. What can you say? What a strange hipster cat. So cool. His discography is overwhelming. A true master. Under-appreciated.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why do they call it a Johnson?

Antony and the Johnsons have a new album out. I haven't heard it yet, but I can't wait to score a copy. I do believe Antony Hegarty is an extraordinary singer and unique soul.

"I am a Bird Now" which came out a couple years ago now, is one of the great records. Beautiful, haunting, heart-breaking.

Antony is reportedly "transgendered" a self-described "bearded lady," or a "female Rip Van Winkle."

Whatever. His voice is totally amazing, a supremely expressive instrument.

Check out Antony and the Johnsons on Lettermen from a few years ago.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Anarchists Knocking on the Parliament's Door!

Are we all Icelanders now, and just don't know it yet?

"45% of Icelanders are bankrupt. 60% of Icelandic business is bankrupt."

What does this mean for my favorite Icelandic band Sigur Ros? And what of that little sparkling imp Bjork?

Then there's this:

It is the first time in Icelandic history that a young anarchist can well expect to meet his grandmother in the crowd demonstrating against the government and drumming with her kitchen knife on pots and pans. The government is surely hanging by a thin thread and might fall at any moment.

The Icelandic public fear that their country has virtually been stolen by the globetrotting business elite that spent more time rubbing shoulders with international high society than giving back to the society that enabled them to enjoy this privileged lifestyle. Now ordinary Icelanders are determined to take their country back.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Those Gods Must be Freaking Crazy!

"We're just puppets to the gods. The gods don't want us to be too ambitious, too aggressive. The gods just want us to be subservient to nature. Leave the planet the way we got it." - Nassim Taleb

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Lives

When something really good happens it is easy to get carried away. Suddenly everything looks brighter. And I do believe everything looks brighter today.

Still, there's always something in me that kind of tugs against the tide. I mean, there's still darkness in the world. And lots of bad shit happens every day too.

I believe we can handle the good stuff and the bad stuff too. I think that makes me an optimist. Knowing that good and bad shit is part of our portfolio I guess makes me a realist.

BIFURCATED.

That is our lives.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day the Torture Stopped

So many great moments yesterday. The images dancing out of my TV Eye. The teeming masses converging on Washington D.C. You have to think even the most cynical power brokers had to be impressed.

The big media megaphone will relentlessly pound any event into the ground. And yes, this megaphone was used to beat the images to smithereens.

Still it was all so transcendent. Barack and Michelle with the million-watt smiles. People from all walks of life declaring the day for themselves.

And George W. Bush getting on a helicopter to Texas. The man will not be missed.

The day the torture stopped.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It is a Wonderful Life

Many of us visualized this day. And improbably, unbelievably, I mean, holy shit, it is here. Mr. Obama Goes to Washington.

I read last night that Cheney will be attending the Inauguration in a wheelchair. I do believe Mr. Cheney is chanelling Lionel Barrymore in "It's a Wonderful Life." What a creepy, decrepit soul.

And Barack is our multi-cultural Jimmy Stewart. All eyes will be on that man. I can't imagine what that kind of all-consuming focus and intention must feel like. Still, Barack seems like he was born for this moment.

All hell is breaking loose in the world. You couldn't find a better time for such a refreshing, healing personality. Strangely, it is not just what he does, but who he is, and maybe we all expect too much, but too much is what we need.

And I'm sure Barack Obama can handle it. I'm thinking he's got his own Zuzu's petals hidden somewhere in a secret pocket.

UPDATE: Hey maybe this is a little sappy, but sometimes sappy is just right. Art Garfunkel's finest moment works just fine for me today.

When youre down and out,
When you're on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Give that Man an Apple!

"I can calculate the movements of the heavenly bodies, but I cannot calculate the madness of men." - Sir Issac Newton

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Tricks

I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or maybe the old dog has to do it himself. My latest obsession is exploring new ways to play my guitar. I'm lucky to have friend who is teaching me some jazz tunes. My first session was quite humbling. It was kind of like going from English to Spanish. Suddenly the fret-board of my guitar seemed like a completely foreign land.

There's something so cool about going back to first principles. It opens new doors. My challenge is not to get bored, frustrated, impatient. Oh yeah, that's exactly what I have to do!

I'm also working on my slide guitar technique. Never really played that way before, but suddenly I can't get enough. I was lately inspired watching Ronnie Wood playing slide alongside Keith Richards. I love those two old English cats.

Anyway, there are so many great slide players: Robert Johnson, Duane Allman, Derek Trucks, George Harrison, Ronnie Wood, Muddy Waters, JB. Hutto, Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, John Lee Hooker.

And there's this guy, Ry Cooder. He is some kind of American Treasure. Check him out on Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dig Lazarus Dig - Nevermore!

I was thinking about Edgar Allen Poe yesterday. And I was thinking about Nick Cave yesterday. And I was thinking if Edgar Allen Poe were alive today he'd be fronting a band like the Bad Seeds.

No, let me put this another way. If Edgar Allen Poe were alive today, he'd be an Australian named Nick Cave and he would be fronting a band called the Bad Seeds.

This morning while I was making coffee (Mexican Zaragosa) I heard that Edgar Allen Poe's 200th birthday is coming up. And I heard John Astin (Gomez from the Addams Family) reciting some Edgar Allen Poe on the radio. Kind of a weird coincidence.

As far as I'm concerned, he might as well have been reciting some Nick Cave.

Dig Lazarus Dig...

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Theme Song

I know I've posted Spoon doing "The Underdog" in the past. Here's a live on Letterman version. I do find this an absolutely sublime song, full horn section and all.

"But you won't hear from the messenger,
don't wanna know bout something that you don't understand,
You got no fear of the underdog,
that's why you will not survive! (Hey!)"

I finally purchased the album. I was reluctant, thinking the rest of it couldn't be as good as this song. I still think this is the standout song on the album, but really the whole thing is quite good.

Note: This is a special shout out to those rats on that sinking ship I used to know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thermal Underwear Too!

Mocha Java coursing through my veins.

I wonder if that's enough to keep warm today.

Sub-zero temps!

What a life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Running...

I'm a long-distance runner. I've been running since the 80's. Logged a lot of miles. I've had my spills, injuries, and time off. I've almost been hit by cars, bitten by dogs, accosted by mad men.

I've run in mountain terrain, on the beach, in the jungle, the desert, on a lone highway with birds of prey circling overhead.

There is some kind of undeniable kick to running. Probably something to do with adrenaline and endorphins. There is a certain madness to doing one thing so consistently.

I've often wondered if I'm running towards something, or away from something. Or maybe both.

Maybe I'm running just because I can.

Yesterday I trekked across the frozen tundra on the lakefront. It was a pretty lonely trek. Me and the lake, the snow, the ice, the brilliant blue sky looming above. It felt like going to church. A hard church made of ice and cold.

My prayers were the footprints I left in the snow behind me. I was alone, but I didn't feel alone.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I wonder if this is true:

You must hate yourself to hate another

You must love yourself to love another

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Not So Revolutionary Road

We tramped through the snow yesterday to go see a movie. It was a way of getting out of the cabin and out of our heads. Sometimes it is good to just change things up.

We saw "Revolutionary Road." I wanted to see it after I read this post from Kris Cahill.

I agree it is quite good. Sam Mendes definitely knows how to make a powerful, totally engaging movie. Remember "American Beauty?" These two movies have a lot in common. Great performances, masterful cinematography.

Both films show us lives of quiet and not so quiet desperation. People who have made choices and then find they can't really live with the choices they have made.

"This is not my beautiful wife, this is not my beautiful house." - David Byrne

The big difference between the two movies: in "American Beauty," the children decide to live their own "picture," they exercise their "free will" to take a new path. In "Revolutionary Road," conformity wins the day. The only out seems to be a certain kind of death for all concerned.

There is one exception in "Revolutionary Road." One glorious exception. The Crazy Guy. The math genius emptied by too many electrical shocks. He is the one the Lovely Carla and I identified with. He is the truth-teller. And sometimes truth sits like a big old atomic bomb in the middle of the pantry.

Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet are superb. The last time we saw these two together they were on a sinking ship in the Atlantic. Here they are on a sinking ship in suburbia.

And the Crazy Guy is played by Michael Shannon. Michael almost steals the show. No, scratch that, Michael Shannon steals the show. Michael by the way is a Chicago guy. I've seen him do some great work ("Bug,"and "The Persecution of Arnold Pestch"), with A Red Orchid Theatre on Wells. He is a great talent. Strange dude. Incredible actor.

Anyway, the movie is kind of funny and kind of sad too. I don't think it's a comedy, or it's a comedy with tragic overtones. Or a tragedy with comedic overtones. We all make choices. And we have to live with them. And every choice we make means there are others that will not be realized. It's a conundrum don't you think? We all are responsible, sometimes it's like Jean Paul Satre on freaking steriods we are even responsible for the things we're not responsible for. That is a heavy existential burden. Or then again maybe not.

We all make choices every single day. To not choose is a choice too. And the choices add up to a life.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some see the Dopeness, Some See the Wackness

It is winter in the Midwest. It is colder than (as Tom Waits once said) "The ticket taker's smile at the Ivar Theater."

So what to do? Rent DVDs and hunker in.

We just watched "The Wackness." I really, really, really, really like this movie. I know that is a lot of "reallys," but really, I think it is a very, very good movie. Maybe even "great."

It is one of those flicks that is deceptively small, but really deceptively big. It focuses on a high school age kid. It is kind of a 2008 version of a late 90's version of "The Graduate."

The Wackness illustrates (as per the tag-line) how doing the "wrong" thing can be the "right" thing.

My list of favorite deceptively small movies about deceptively big things includes: "Donnie Darko" (finding God), "Rushmore" (finding forgiveness) and "Dead Man," (the death of the American Myth).

I'm adding "The Wackness" to the list. These movies all feature killer soundtracks which for me can make simple scenes resonate with thunder.

The Wackness also has a great performance from Ben Kingsley. He is truly one of the great actors working today. Also check out "Gandhi," "Sexy Beast" and "House of Sand and Fog" if you have any doubts.

Note to Self: Who do you think you freaking are? Freaking Roger Ebert? How many thumbs up your arse?

The Wackness works for me because my personal dichotomy is always in full force. Which means of course that Sunny always sees the Dopeness and Dumps always sees the Wackness.

Put them together and you get Chicken Salad.

The last song in the movie is David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" which he wrote for Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople. Someone has "reconstructed" the track with David singing lead vocals and the Hoople backing him up. Quite nicely done.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Crystalized Universe

It is Friday. The snow is coming down. It is snow, not volcanic ash from the Yellowstone Super-Volcano. The Apocalypse will have to wait.

So, I'm sitting here, keeping my toes toasty, slurping down big cupfuls of java. Dreaming of Jamaica. White beaches. Blue water. Barracuda and dolphins flashing in the surf. I see myself parked on a beach chair, plopped down in the center of a topless beach. Surrounded by lovelies of every creed and color. I'm reading Paul Bowles great novel "The Sheltering Sky."

Later I will meet up with some dudes from San Francisco and we will commandeer a taxi and head to the hills to find Mrs. Brown and her famous psilocybin tea. I will meet Mrs. Brown. I will have cupfuls of her home brew. I will see the Crystalized Universe. I will lose all sense of time and place. I will somehow survive the ordeal.

Anyway since I'm not really there, I need to bring a little Jamaica to my Midwestern icebox. I declare today Reggae Friday! Here's Bob and the Wailers Stirring It Up!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This Life

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.


-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

At a recent theater performance, we had a large video screen behind us and we played a movie while we performed monologues and music onstage. It was quite the spell-binding show if I don't say so myself.

The movie we played was something I picked up at the local video store. I wasn't exactly sure what it was, but I thought it might work. It turned out to be amazing. It was "Koyaanisqatsi" which is a Hopi word that means "life out of balance."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Standing in the Line of Fire

Check out this clip from South Korean TV. I suppose there's a good reason for Israeli soldiers to be shooting at Palestinian youth. I wonder what it could be.

The courage of the young Palestinian Girl standing in front of the soldier's gun is quite stunning.

Two Conversations

There are two conversations going on simultaneously.

One is about righting the ship. Getting things back on track. Patching up the egg and piecing it back together. Pumping up a new bubble.

The other is about kissing the ship goodbye. Digging up the track and using the steel for something else. Cleaning up the eggshells and dripping yolk and dreaming up a completely new egg. Inventing an unimagined world without bubbles.

We are suspended between the two.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bohemian Cacaphony

I didn't watch much football either Pro or College over the holidays. I did watch a little of the USC vs Penn State scrimmage in the Rose Bowl. I marveled at the vivid, sparkling colors, the sun and the warm weather in Pasadena. These images brought back memories of some of the good times I've had in nearby Arcadia, CA betting on the ponies in the shadow of the mountains.

I've always had a sort of California state of mind.

Anyway the highlight of the game for me was at half-time. The Penn State marching band had an elaborate set, with sophisticated choreography. Blaring horns, high-stepping cheerleaders, batons flying high. They did a Queen medley. Yes, I kid you not. Queen. Freddy Mercury, Brian May. Very funny. And sounded pretty good too.

Bohemian Rhapsody in all it's horny (every horn in the book) glory. Anyway it's Monday, 2009. Here's Freddy doing it live. It's a weird version with some DVD issues. Makes it even more kitschy, me thinks.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Crash and Rebirth

I think we are suspended in that moment between the Crash and the Rebirth. The Crash was inevitable. It was coming for a long time. There was much pain and anxiety stirred up in its wake. And really its happening fast, then again its kind of happening in slow motion. Or its happening fast, but our realization of its effects are slow in coming. It might take years or decades for us to really understand what happened.

And the Rebirth is starting now. Its a feeling, an idea, a wisp of a cloud of an inkling. The Rebirth would not be possible without the Crash. They are Soul Mates. We want and need this Rebirth although there are surely some big surprises in store for all of us. We desperately wanted Change. The world demanded it. And like a Tsunami it is coming. We will surely get more than we bargained for.

The new thing always comes out of pain and blood. The spanking new world begins with a cry. The new infant always looks like a wrinkled old man. But it is new life. The story takes a new turn. The worm turns.

John Robb at Global Guerillas starts to map out what this new world might look like, and "Middle Class Consumers" may turn out to be a very grave insult!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends


For some reason I was a big Delaney and Bonnie fan. They were a band that gained some fame in the early 70's because they had some famous friends who liked to hang out and play with them. I'm pretty sure I discovered them because Duane Allman played with them, and when I was a wee lad Duane Allman's guitar sound was whirling around on my turntable quite a bit.

Delaney Bramlett has died. I wore out my copy of Delaney and Bonnie On Tour with Eric Clapton many times over. I owned the vinyl, then the CD. It's kind of an obscure record, a live show recorded in England. Clapton and Dave Mason and a guy named "Mysterioso" played guitar on some of the cuts.

It turns out Mysterioso was George Harrison. George credited Delaney with helping him refine his slide guitar chops. And George ended up giving Delaney his Rosewood Telecaster - yes the famous Tele that George plays on the rooftop in Let It Be.

Delaney and Bonnie created a unique vortex in the music world. They connected with all kinds of people such as Duane Allman, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, George Harrison and Joe Cocker. Clapton dissolved Blind Faith after being on tour with Delaney and Bonnie. He thought their band was much more exciting. Clapton's Derek and the Dominoes poached some of the members from Delaney's band.

Also George Harrison's All Things Must Pass has a whole contingent of players from the world of Delaney and Bonnie all over the sessions. Delaney and Bonnie had a cool thing going. They were both soulful singers evoking a joyful Southern R&B vibe. But their power was in the combo. When Delaney and Bonnie split, the vortex no longer had the power.

Still they left a couple of really cools discs of music and inspired a bunch more. Delaney Bramlett RIP.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Watchword: Beauty

We had a rousing good time at the gallery last night. Doing our theater/music thing. Sometimes all you have to do is show up. Be present in the moment. And amazing things happen. We were surrounded by cool, quirky, creative souls.

It was a magical night. I think it was one of our most mysterious, beautiful shows we've put on, we transformed the theater space and filled it with a powerful vibe. The placed was packed with artists of all kinds. Certainly our best audience.

There was no sense of grasping or needing. Everything was right there. All we had to do was show up. And be in the moment completely. It all just happened.

The future is here now. I suppose 2009 will be nothing like we think it will be. There's beauty in that thought.

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