wwsp albums on bandcamp!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Everything Clicked

And then everything clicked into place.

Courage.

Or maybe just total absence of fear.

And everything changes.

Situation Precarious becomes Situation Hilarious.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Wheel

Once you realize you are on a wheel, everything seems less real.

I mean, once you realize that everything cycles, everything is fluid, everything moves, there's a lot less you need to cling to.

And that's good, me thinks, because you can't hold anything for long anyway.

So then, you can enjoy the ride. Thrill at the ups and downs.

And exit gracefully.

Yes?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Uses of Time

The things that at some time or another you thought might be a waste of time, but turn out to be the most satisfying, essential uses of time include:

sleeping
playing guitar
meditating
day-dreaming
running
making a pot of coffee
ordering a latte
walking the dog
kibitzing
listening to music
eating
sipping a hot chocolate
writing
riding a bike
laughing
watching a movie
doing the monkey dance

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the One Hand

My own little existence continues to amaze and amuse me. On the one hand, I was working on the "big deal" yesterday, suddenly the big shot with the hot hand, and then a little later in the afternoon, I was out walking dogs, picking up dog shit. Keeps me humble. Which is a good thing, right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Holy Mackerel!

I got a call this morning.
Out of the blue.
A business deal.
Could change my life.
Dramatically.
For the better.
Like hitting the lottery.
Stay tuned.

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the Bald Golden Dude goes to...


Two things.

I was really rooting for Mickey Rourke for the best actor Oscar last night (although Sean Penn was great as Harvey Milk), I mean, Mickey gave us a superb performance in "The Wrestler," and it would have been pop culturally cool and significant, and possibly "train- wreckingly" entertaining to see him get up there and say whatever he was gonna say after his long walk in the desert and his recent loss of his last good friend, his trusted dog Loki.*

And best original screenplay should have gone to Martin McDonagh for "In Bruges." McDonagh is one of the great writers (Lately I've been reading all of his plays) working today. "In Bruges" is McDonagh's first film (see Brenden Gleeson and Colin Farrell have a field day with their characters and lines) and he wrote and directed a masterpiece. Stunningly good. Funny and touching too.

* Plus the whole "redemption" of Mickey Rourke meme worked in perfect parallel in two worlds. The real world story of Rourke crashing and burning up after a meteoric rise to the top. And the theme of the movie, a beat and burned out hulk of a wrestler, trying to take one more chance on a life. One of those great symbolic, pop-mythical convergences.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guy Ritchie-Ville


Have you been to Guy Ritchie-Ville? It is a very cool place to be. Many people know Mr. Ritchie only from being Mr. Madonna, and for some reason, being Mr. Madonna (now ex Mr. Madonna) means lots of public attention and ridicule, lots of hyperventilated blathering and tut-tutting.

I guess they met, got married, made a famously savaged movie together (didn't see it), had some kids, got divorced, split some cash, and well that's all she wrote about Mr Ritchie and the Material Girl.

But the reason anyone should know Guy Ritchie isn't because of who he married and divorced, it is because of his series of films based in the over the top, movie-land milieu of British Crime. They are fast and furious, funny, beautifully shot and edited. Ritchie writes them - they are all well-constructed, great dialogue, populated with all these brilliant "character" actors, most of them (the great exception being Brad Pitt as an Irish Gypsy, bare knuckle boxer in "Snatch.") unknowns.

These films come across as tightly-budgeted foreign films - no subtitles (although sometimes it would be nice). But Guy Ritchie knows pop culture - you will see influences from Tarantino, ("Pulp Fiction," Reservoir Dogs"), Scorsese ("Mean Streets," "Casino," "Good Fellas," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull"), David Mamet ("GlenGaryGlenRoss"), Sam Shepard, ("True West") Harold Pinter ("The Caretaker", "The Dumb Waiter," "The Birthday Party"), plus throw a few Asian gangster films (John Woo!), and some comic books (Japanese Manga!), and video games in there for good measure.

Ritchie's debut film is "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." It is one of the great debuts of all time. All his other work (the Madonna film is the unfortunate exception) flows from that original spring. It's a cartoon-like, all macho male world - tough guys with big guns, running around chasing down stupid stuff. In this world the tough guys fuck up a lot. Stupid things happen to the stupid tough guys. Very funny.

The other films in the series (it's like different neighborhoods of the same city) "Snatch," "Revolver," "RockNRolla," all have their quirks. They do sort of constitute one grand vision, but each has a unique slant. "Revolver" is a stand-out in that it isn't really a comedy, it is probably Ritchie's "statement" movie. Some might find it baffling or pretentious, but I loved it, and it's broader theme is a killer - greed and ego is our greatest enemy!

The latest in the series is "Rock n Rolla" and it is superb. Looks like there's to be a sequel too. Can't wait. I predict one day there will be Guy Ritchie festivals. I've been having my own little festival in my little private screening room lately. It's a great way slay those winter-time blues!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sometimes it's fun to be fooled.

Re-inflating bubbles seems like a fools game. I do think the ground is moving beneath us. We all know. Even those of us who don't know. Or don't want to know - those who still want to believe that the bubble world is real.

Some think all we need to do is re-inflate the bubble and everything can go back to the way it was before we all saw that bubble economy was just an elaborate con game. Once you realize you've been hustled, it's hard to put that Confidence Toothpaste back in the tube.

Those big-time, big shots on Wall Street, those bankers down on main street were all living the Scarface Ethos. They ripped us off. All of us. And many of us gladly let them. We ripped ourselves off too. We wanted to believe in the Scarface Ethos too.

Unlimited growth in nature is called, Cancer. One of those scary fucking words. I think it's obvious that our Bubble Economy was a cancer on the planet. It's no surprise that our consumer paradise has consumed everything in it's sorry path.

We've polluted the water, the air, we're destroying our ecosystem and everything in it. We will pay a price for this mad undertaking.

I think we are evolving to a new reality. Exciting times. Evolution is a funny thing. It's great for life, sometimes not so great for the living. Maybe there's hope for the Clever Monkeys, but it seems we do love a great con. Seems it's in our nature.

Sometimes it's fun to be fooled!

Friday, February 20, 2009

"I'll let you be in my dream, if I can be in yours." - B. Dylan

For no apparent reason, (at least to me), I thought of Bernardo Bertolucci's wonderful film "The Dreamers," this morning while I sat and took a few sips from my first coffee of the morning.

And then the phrase, "private utopias" came up in my consciousness. Okay, I get it, let's just say that is the reason I thought of the Bertolucci.

All this talk of a world gone wrong, death of civilization, collapse gap, global implosion, etc. It's all grand scale stuff.

But our lives are mostly lived on a small scale. I know that my finest moments are usually in close quarters. Either in a rehearsal room, a recording studio, my little kitchen, with a small, tight knit group of extraordinary souls. Especially the Lovely Carla and the little chirping Cockatiels, but also including a small group of actors and musicians, and wise old codgers that I've picked up along the way. Trusted and admired souls, who teach me every day.

My good long-distance friend, Clairvoyant Kris came up with a phrase that has totally resonated with me: "don't match to the despair." And in my private utopia ("My Own Private Idaho" - another great film by the way, and an excellent song by the B52's) despair is not allowed in the territory.

I love to see things on a grand scale, to weigh the pros and cons, to discuss the beauty and the fuck-ups, but it's the small scale where I truly live. There, money is not important, greed is considered stupid, envy is a joke, the hierarchy is based on love and creativity and spirit.

It's a small space. Can't fit too much in there. But it contains all that is required to live. Sweet and true.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Impossible to Buy or Sell

Hard times might be hard on us all. Especially the marginal ones and I'm nothing if not marginal. On the other hand, hard times might equal great art. I mean hard times might not be so great for individual artists, but maybe a society on the edge, a society breaking apart and re-forming in new ways opens the door to new avenues of expression. And maybe people seeing their old pictures of "the way things are supposed to be" shattered into a million tiny pieces can experience art in new ways.

Think the Futurists, the Surrealists, the Dadaists. Think the dirty streets of Britain in the 70's spawning Punk - Sex Pistols/Clash. Think the dirty, bankrupt city of New York spawning, Basquiat, Keith Haring, Television, Patti Smith, Talking Heads. Think Pollack and De Kooning and Rothko in dirty, beat-down studios creating new ways of seeing the world.

Or how about Berlin in late 20s, or Paris after the "great" wars.

Maybe our bubble years of greed and indulgence are coming to an end. And maybe that's a good fucking thing. Or as Holland Cotter puts it: "The Boom is Over. Long Live Art!"

"I’m not talking about creating ’60s-style utopias; all those notions are dead and gone and weren’t so great to begin with. I’m talking about carving out a place in the larger culture where a condition of abnormality can be sustained, where imagining the unknown and the unknowable — impossible to buy or sell — is the primary enterprise. Crazy! says anyone with an ounce of business sense. Right. Exactly. Crazy." - Holland Cotter

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Taking the World By Storm One Song at a Time!

The band I'm in with the Lovely Carla is called WhitewolfSonicPrincess. Kind of catchy don't you think? I had this wild idea one morning that we'd be a hip-hop duo. It didn't actually work out that way. We write songs together, usually the Lovely Carla comes up with the lyrics, I write the music, and then we put it together and see if it works.

I guess it all comes out more alternative rock/folk, singer-songwriter kind of stuff. We've been favorably compared to the Cowboy Junkies, someone else told us we sounded like Neutral Milk Hotel. I don't know. Everyone wants to label you as something, or compare you to something, and well, that's okay, I mean we are working within the confines of some kind of genre. And we are influenced by everything we hear.

Music is funny that way. You don't make up the chords or notes, they are a given. Certain chords go really well together. Certain notes strung together make a melody. The challenge is to find something new in the familiar. And since we are all unique beings we just do things in unique ways. When I pick up my guitar and start strumming, it sounds very jimmydumps/sunny jimmy. Someone else playing my guitar sounds completely different. Unexplainable.

Same thing with the human voice. What an amazingly expressive instrument. When the Lovely Carla sings I hear echoes of other singers, but really her voice is her own.

Anyway, the band has evolved and grown. It's a four piece. We have an amazing drummer, and a dazzlingly vibrant bass player. When we all get together it is quite the cool combo. We've played clubs all over Chicago. Some are paid gigs, some are not. The kick is to play.

We also have a digital download "This Car Available" that can be purchased at Whitewolfsonicprincess (wwsp) - This Car Available. It also can be streamed on Napster and Rhapsody. It's been available for awhile. We sell albums, our songs are streamed. Not a lot, but people are buying and listening. That is very cool.

Yesterday I found out that someone in the United Kingdom purchased "This Car Available," and it just made my freaking day. We sold an album in the UK! Someone took a flyer on us! I am so pleased. I wonder who it is? I hope they like it. I hope they load it on their iPod. I hope we are someone's personal soundtrack as they perambulate through the majestic byways of Albion! Someone out there on another continent found us and forked over a few Euros to give us a try! That is White Wolf Magic!

We've got no marketing budget, no promotion team, no manager, no publicist. It's all just a shoestring thing we do.

Still, one one of our songs was also selected to be featured on a Paris radio station. Ooh La La! And now it looks like one of our songs will be added to forthcoming Folk and Bluegrass compilation disc. Knock me over with a flower! Do it every hour!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"When the Death of Your Civilization Proceeds You." - N.C.

Neko Case: "It's not for you to know, but for you to weep and wonder, when the death of your civilization proceeds you."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back to the Garden...

Okay, let's go with worst case scenario...

Everyone, I mean, everyone on the planet loses their job. The whole freaking planet is one long unemployment line. Money, no matter what denomination is worthless, no, less than worthless, I mean just pure trash.

GDP worldwide, shrinks, disappears. The letters GDP no long mean a thing. Everything comes to a screeching halt. No production lines, no printing presses, no power grid. Computers sit looking back at us dull and mute. Can't recharge our ipods. Can't go down to Mickey Ds for a bite.

No freaking lattes. No electric guitars.

No more oil production. No more gasoline. Cars sit in driveways or abandoned on highways and byways.

Feeding ourselves is problem. Heating our homes. Indoor plumbing - gone.

So I guess at that point we all sit down and have a meeting.

Any freaking suggestions?!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good Stuff Too!

The Lovely Carla and I have been dancing on the precipice for a while now. We're kind of like those canaries in a coal-mine. Ahead of the curve on sensing toxic elements in the air.

And there have been times when I thought it might be "curtains" for the little chirping birdies. And the ship of state, and the planet seem like dead letters waiting to be opened.

But on the other hand (there's always another hand), I've always had this sense inside me, or maybe it's a voice, or could be indigestion, that somehow everything was going to work out for us. And really, maybe everything would be ok. And not just ok maybe great.

And opportunities, and lucky breaks, and little epiphanies, and happy accidents keeps coming our way. Somehow we continue to defy gravity. And maybe sometimes we have kind of over-looked all the good stuff, because we see so much of the toxic shit floating around in the world. And it sometimes seems overwhelming.

But the good stuff is undeniable. And it keeps us going. And keeps coming. And that's good. And if it's all just a long lucky streak, well, there's nothing wrong with that. Keep on rolling those tumbling dice!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Joaquin Walks the Line

I'm not gonna link to the Joaquin Phoenix/Letterman interview. It's all over the web, so check it out if you haven't seen it.

It's funny as hell. And I can't quite figure out what's going on. I mean, this isn't earth-shakingly important or anything. Just kind of pop-culturally interesting.

Famous actor, Oscar-nominated, one of the best working today (see "I Walk the Line," if you have any doubts), brother of dead movie mini-legend - River Phoenix (check out "Stand By Me," or "My Own Private Idaho," if you want to see River at his best) grows a beard, let's his hair go long, tells the world he's chucking acting and devoting his life to music, and not Country music (which might sort of make sense after his masterful performance as Johnny Cash) mind you, no, he's gonna devote his creative energy to Hip Hop (for a taste of that, check out his performance in Vegas - Joaquin caps a pretty sub-par, lame-o performance with a quite comical, dead man walking swan dive off the stage).

He goes on Letterman, supposedly to hawk his latest film, and shows no interest at all in talking about it. He mumbles, is sort of lethargic, and comically unresponsive. Kind of gives the finger to the whole celebrity, Hollywood schmooze thing. And how many big time execs in Tinsel Town are crossing his name off the "go to" list right now?

Letterman goes to town, it's one of his finest comedic moments. Letterman is at his best when he can show his absolute disdain for the whole celebrity ass-kissing thing.

So anyway, either this is all a great put-on (sort of like Andy Kaufman's wrestling phase?), or maybe not. If it's an elaborate joke we're not exactly tipped off or let in on the joke. Is Joaquin on the juice? Is he mad? Is he brilliant? Is he making a commentary on the whole corrupt, Scarface Ethos culture we've concocted for ourselves?

Maybe Joaquin is showing us the way? He's seen the Hollywood thing from the inside, and he's turning away because it's a dead end. An elaborate blow job, and who needs it anyway? And maybe taking fashion tips from the Unabomber is the perfect "fuck you" to all that?! Joaquin walks the line. And in a way, I'm madly, deeply impressed with his blissfully, Rainman-like, laconically incoherent chutzpah!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ask for Something!

"Come on, Alex. You can do it!
Come on, Alex. There's nothing to it!
If you want something, don't ask for nothing!
If you want nothing, don't ask for something!"


Thursday, February 12, 2009

I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle!

Shouldn't we all be thumping copies of Darwin's "Origin of Species" instead of that musty old book full of balderdash and brimstone?

I do believe Darwin's majestic opus explains a hell of a lot more about our world and what's shaking.

That other old volume, a compendium of fables and bloodshed, and miracles and malarky has been used to great effect to beat down "unbelievers", women, heretics, Jews, Gays, colored peoples, etc.

One book actually joins us together in a great mosaic of life. It tells us that everything living is a brother to every other living thing, microbe, amoeba, plant, animal, human. It may be a little humbling for some of us, but doesn't it elevate us all?

The other one tells us we are bad, bad, bad. And we're gonna burn in a cauldron of fire, unless we get down pray for forgiveness. And then it promises us another land of angels and cherry blossoms. It all kind of sounds kind of wildly implausible...

Anyway, here's to the Great Charles Darwin. Happy 200th birthday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Genuine Draft

One of my dear friends, let's call her Dragonfly, tells me that she's not surprised by our precarious situation. She and many people I know (including me) have always thought that much of our present lifestyle, our throbbing, over-stretched, consumer paradise, is a false utopia, one built on thin air.

We have lived in a bubble world for a long time. Defying gravity. Which has been amazing. But many of us have been wondering for many decades when the bubble would pop and when we'd hit the ground full on.

Ever since I was a wee lad, knee-high to a grasshopper, I have felt like I belonged to another tribe, a counter-culture that didn't really exist. I mean, I've ridden the bubble world for all it's worth, but I never really believed it was real or sustainable.

So all this talk now of end times, death to suburbia, global meltdown, etc. None of it is all that surprising. Many of us are kind of in the "what took so long?" camp. That's not to say, we're totally prepared for the consequences. I don't think we are, we have no clue what's coming.

But we've been disillusioned about Bubble Land for a long, long, time. We are in it, but not of it. And we think that life outside the bubble could be a good thing. We hope it won't all be blood and pitchforks. It will certainly be different. And maybe more genuine.

Tastes great and less filling...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Hippies are Coming Redux

This is weird.

The previous President - I would hear his voice on the radio, and I'd start cursing, throw my shoes at the radio.

Our new Beloved President - I listen and take to heart everything he tells me.

So...

Last night, after my Telepath's rehearsal, I flicked on the Idiot Box and heard my Beloved tell me: "The party is over."

Uh oh.

I believe him.

Does this mean I should sell my electric guitar and take up whittling?

Are we all Amish now?

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Hippies are Coming!

Business is now in the business of going out of business.

People are buying less and are defaulting through no fault of their own.

Bankers are figuring out how not to loan any money to anyone.

Baseball players are not really baseball players, they are pharmacies.

The Titans of Capital are on the street begging for coin.

Joaquin Phoenix is giving up acting to become a Rap Star.

The Greedy Rich are starting to look like they might need a make-over.

Hippies are coming back!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Local Scene

We are part of a thriving local music scene. Local in like a block away from our apartment. For the last year or so there's been an open mic scheduled every first Saturday of the month at our corner coffee house.

The open mic was spawned by some impromptu summer afternoon guitar sessions, me and a couple of grizzled old cats, sitting out on a lazy summer day, strumming on our git fiddles. Thomas, a great player, with amazing Jazz chops, organized the open mic, and as they say, "if you build it they will come."

He did and they did.

At first there were only a couple of performers, a handful of customers, Saturday night was typically a very slow night. And now the thing is a monster.

Last night there were something like 14 players, and the coffee house was packed, standing room only, with a row of people leaned up against the counter. Plus there were plenty of folks who turned away at the door once they saw we were squeezed in like sardines.

The Lovely Carla and I got there early, got a good seat, ordered up some awesome coffee concoctions, and got our names on the sign-up sheet. We ended up playing third, three songs. I debuted my slide guitar technique, and I'm happy to say, it was a great success. One of our best performances.

It is a great venue. Everyone is there to listen. It can be quite intimidating. But last night was just pure pleasure. The Lovely Carla was singing like her soul was on fire, and I just rode the vibe to sweet bliss.

But the whole show was quite amazing. Folkies, Jazz-bos, rockers, weirdos, professionals, amateurs. Originals and covers. Everything from the sonic landscape from Guns & Roses, Radiohead (you had to be there), Johnny Cash, U2, David Bowie, Beatles, Stones.

Funny songs, sad songs, beautiful songs, ridiculous songs.

There were some old hands and some first-timers. The night ended with a beautiful young girl (maybe 18 years old?) playing a sweet, self-penned lullaby on a banjo. It was like a young angel had decided to come down and serenade us.

Made my heart skip a beat. Then it was over. Wow.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Grizzled

Do I go with "grizzled" today?

Unfortunately, I think it's my best shot...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Funny

Things are getting really, really, really, funny.

Does that mean the worm turns? Or end times?

Or both. Or neither.

Bang, whimper or belly laugh?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dealer's Choice

I finished the Black Swan book. It's excellent. I highly recommend it. It has kind of re-sharpened some of my inherent skepticism. Probably a healthy thing. And the message of the unknown unknown, improbability, luck and "we don't know jack shit," doesn't fill me with doom but instead possibility.

The world is a mysterious, wonderful and sometimes terrifying place. We try to make it sensible and rational - the herd wants things nice and neat, but of course they aren't, and that reality is hammered into us every single day.

We invent all kinds of theories and stories to kind of help us make it though the dark night. And that's okay, maybe even necessary, but we shouldn't mistake the theories and stories for the realities of our existence.

As they say, the map is not the territory.

We can close our eyes, or open them. It's our choice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It's About the Buzz!

I've lately been making music with three different bands. Saturday I sat in with my brother's gypsy blues outfit. Sunday it was a session with the Lovely Carla and the also Lovely Sara in WWSP. And Monday night it was the Telepaths.

Each has it's own unique vibe. I get to try different things with each. So cool, so fun. Music is such a connector. And time spent playing for me is time beyond time.

Jumping from one scene to another makes me feel like a little bumblebee going from flower to flower. It is an eye-opening, head expanding exercise.

I leave something and take something too.

Each human being is a unique energy field. Mix the molecules together, in that particular time and place, and it makes something strange and mysterious. Moments unlike any other.

Maybe it's not so much the music, just the making of it. There's the bee, the flower, the nectar, and the BUZZ!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Get busy and live

My good days I figure we can meet any challenge. Might be the coffee that gives me the confidence. Or my record of survival. Somehow, someway, I have muddled through. Then I extrapolate that to all of us. Somehow, someway we'll all muddle through. Until the muddling is done.

Other days, maybe less good ones, I wonder if the problems we face are all so daunting, that our day of reckoning has got to be right around the corner. As Mr. Taleb would put it, there's a flock of Black Swans ready to swoop down on us and blow our little picture of a happy contented life to smithereens.

Listen to the news, read the papers, put on the Idiot Box and it all starts to seems completely, ridiculously hopeless. Or maybe just ridiculous.

sunny tells me we can tackle every problem head on. dumps tells me we don't have a fricking clue about anything, and only pure dumb luck is gonna get us through. Which is okay. I mean, pure dumb luck can be our friend sometimes. But luck is a fickle friend my friends!

And then another day dawns. Maybe the optimism and the worry are both equally pointless?

Another day. A new one. Unlike any other. Time to get busy and live.

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