Election 2020

Election 2020
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Presenting Bill Graham

Thrasher on Neil Young News gives a nice capsule review of Robert Greenfield's book, "Bill Graham Presents..."

Do you want to meet one of the inventors of the rock and roll universe? Bill Graham, born Wolfgang Grajonca, had much of the 20th century etched into his bones.

He fled Europe, escaped the Holocaust (his mother was not so lucky), grew up in New York, worked as waiter in the Catskills, hitchhiked across the country, went to the Korean War, earned a Bronze Star, became an actor, (did a scene study class with Marilyn Monroe!), and opened the Fillmore West in San Francisco.

The Greenfield book is a great read. Graham is one of the most fascinating, original self-made American characters to emerge from the Sixties flowering. The book is made up of interviews, the audio-tape must have flowed like a river of beer, or ganja smoke.

Other voices that emerge and inspire: Pete Townsend, Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia, Keith Richards. Graham was a famous screamer. He could use obscene language to superb effect. He ran a small family operation whether it was one of the Fillmores, Winterland, or a Rolling Stone world tour. An amazing dude. He did it all.

Talk about creative booking, a Graham show might be Lenny Bruce and Frank Zappa. Or Neil Young and Miles Davis. Or Buddy Rich and The Grateful Dead.

The book takes you from the 30's to the 90's. What a long, strange trip.

As I was reading this book I was so happy to have met Bill Graham. I wish my father would have had the chance to meet him too. By the way, there is a great site devoted to the music that Bill Graham promoted. Check out Wolfgang's Vault to stream an amazing collection of rock shows. Simply incredible stuff.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Unexpected Gift

It snowed here yesterday. It was kind of a confounding event. We were just getting used to the idea of Spring. But it's the heartland, and Mother Nature is a real joker.

We used the snow as an opportunity to do some filming on the beach. We are working towards a Black Forest Theater show in May. We have been filming scenes of color and beauty.

It's some kind of theme.

The Lovely Carla and the equally Lovely Sara put on some colorful dresses and I manned the camera. We were trying to capture something of the hushed exquisite grandeur of water, sky, sand, (and snow!) and the feminine form.

The beautiful images in my view-finder can't really be reduced to words.

So it turns out snow is just a prop, or part of our set design.

An unexpected gift.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

One of those kind...

We spent a good portion of the day yesterday at my brother's recording studio trying to catch lightening in a bottle.
Or maybe it was trying to invent a butterfly.
Or trying to corral a shooting star.
Or trying to ride a moon beam.

It was one of those kinds of days.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


We're listening to Cat Power this morning. She has something. She is a Pussy Cat. Here she is transforming Frank Sinatra's "New York."

Feline Perfection. Meow!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Operator's Manual

If I was tasked to write an Operator's Manual for being a human being, I think my first instruction would be to follow Quentin Crisp's pithy admonition:

"To know who you are - and be it like mad."

I'd also recommend that you should never run to catch a train. Don't worry there will be another.

And if you are looking for the calm center in the storm, you don't really need to venture very far - it is between your ears.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Three Chords and a Blur!

Last Friday night my ugly step-child band, The Telepaths played at Sylvies Lounge. It's one of my favorite bands (probably because I'm in it!), playing at one of our favorite places. The band is still evolving. We do have some nice original songs influenced by everything in the rock and roll universe.

This band is primarily dedicated to three chords and a swagger. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. But it's always an adventure. Anyway the Lovely Carla took some pictures. These are my favorites. It's best to see me as a shadowy blur. Really! What with the goofy hat, and the goofy grin. But man, my Telecaster is quite photogenic! That's the Professor on bass.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sometimes Satan Comes as a Systems Manager!

Wow. Check out Chris Hedges this morning ("In decaying societies..."). Quite the substantial breakfast.

The Corporate State Vs. Moral Autonomy!

Guess who is winning?!

"The manipulative character is a systems manager. He or she exclusively trained to sustain the corporate structure, which is why our elites are wasting mind-blowing amounts of our money on corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG. “He makes a cult of action, activity, of so-called efficiency as such which reappears in the advertising image of the active person,” Adorno wrote of this personality type. These manipulative characters, people like Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, AIG’s Edward Liddy and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, along with most of our ruling class, have used corporate money and power to determine the narrow parameters of the debate in our classrooms, on the airwaves and in the halls of Congress while they looted the country." - Chris Hedges

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Never Give a Sucker an Even Break

I think Matt Taibbi may be the Hunter S. Thompson of the Post Bubble Years. Maybe without the ether and the poppers and the Wild Turkey, although, who knows, it's likely that Matt has some of his own kinks too.

I mean really Matt and Hunter S. have very little in common except maybe a jaundiced eye for the absurd, and the knack for a good turn of phrase.

Anyway Matt's got a great overview of the "global economic crisis" in Rolling Stone, it's online so you don't really have to buy the magazine, which is a good thing me thinks, because that glitzy piece of celebrity trash seems light years away from the glory days of Jann Wenner's late 60's counter-cultural rag.

One man's counter-cultural marker is another man's urinal. Or something like that.

Taibbi kind of explains the unexplainable and sort of makes it all hilariously understandable. We've been fucking swindled. And the folks who have done the swindling are now threatening to shoot the puppy if we don't shovel more cash down their greedy fucking gullets.

Welcome to the Audacity of Hope!

"These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they're on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests. Good luck with that, America." - Matt Taibbi

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Talk to Angels

The Lovely Carla and I have resolved this morning (the coffee is good) to talk to Angels more. And the Little People too. Or maybe I mean the Village People?!

It's seems to have worked out fine for this guy. Talk about beautiful tone. This supremely sweet man exudes pure, soul-stirring, music. I love the way Carlos plays guitar. We're spinning "Abraxas" on the cd box this morning. SANTANA!

''I truly believe that we're going to be visited in prime time by a landing from the so-called invisible people,'' Santana says. Uh...oye como va? ''The invisible people,'' he explains. ''The extraterrestrials. Pleiadians, Arturians, Andromedans, angels. I've been saying for a long time that we have friends outside our eyeballs and friends inside our eyeballs.'' - C. Santana

Maybe so. If true these other beings probably speak a language sort of like this:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Awakening

And then one morning, they all woke up and realized that they were hopeless idiots.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Happy Dichotomy

"Disciplined yet free-wheeling." Now that's something worth aspiring to.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Leap of Ambition

Okay, there's the Universe. And then there's me. I guess I'm basically an infitessimal speck in the super vastness of space.

Some days I'm happy just to survive. Thank you Universe for not completely crushing me underfoot.

Some days I think I want to help fix things and make a better world.

Now that is quite the leap of ambition for an infitessimal speck of flesh and blood.

Who the fuck do I think I am?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fleecing the Rubes!

If you ever thought that our lovely little economic system was really just a rigged game, rigged by and for those at the top of the pyramid, well, my friend, your time has come.

If you ever thought that the whole insurance game seemed like just another way to fleece the rubes, or an elaborate protection racket, not that different from your local neighborhood mafia organization, well, congratulations! You win the prize! A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Feared Future Alternate Titles

I sure hope it doesn't come to this, but could all hopes be dashed on the shores of Credit Default Swap Land?

Future Alternate Titles:

"The Audacity of Nope."

"The Audacity of Dope."

"The Audacity of the Mopes."

"The Audacity of the Fallible Pope"

"The Audacity of Too Much Rope."

"The Audacity of the Slippery Slope."

"The Audacity of Julian Cope."

And of course, for the unwashed masses: "The Audacity of Soap!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Age of the Truth-teller

I do think this is the new age of the truth-teller. The last few days everything I see and hear seems to reinforce this intuition.

First there was the Jon Stewart thing. Then I read an article about Tony (Fuck You) Gilroy, a filmmaker/screenwriter trying to navigate the supremely compromising world of major movie-making.

Then I saw Gilroy's film "Michael Clayton," with it's theme of corporate corruption, and how we are all part of a game where everyone is only in it for themselves. A game of no trust, no truth, except the corrupting luxury of money.

Gilroy shows us that sometimes truth is as awkward, as unwelcome, as jarring, as distasteful, as a naked man ranting in a conference room.

And if you build a society that only values money, you have a society of no values at all.

And then The Lovely Carla bought Antony and the Johnson's new disc, "The Crying Light." It's a superb disc of beauty and truth. Heart-breaking, breath-taking and inspiring.

The truth can do that to you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Line

What's that old line?

"I come from a long line of dead people."


That will have to do.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Totally Asshole Free!

It's tough times, weird times.

I used to work with some real grade A, number one, USDA choice assholes (note: if you think I'm talking about you, please see disclaimer to the right!).

The money was pretty good. I was a successful front for a bunch of idiots.

I'm happy to say that now I am totally asshole free. I only work with people who I know, trust and respect.

It's probably the most important lesson I've learned over the years. You think you can handle the assholes, that somehow they won't bring you down, that you can make it, defend yourself, survive.

It's not worth the effort. Avoid the assholes at all costs. Take a different job. Take lower pay, become a dog-walker, start your own business, sell your blood, whatever!

I am asshole free. And if I encounter an asshole I call them out and move on. Of course, they are everywhere, you must always be on guard.

Which is OK. Be aware. Be alert at all times. It's the only way to go.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Truth on the Idiot Box

It is supremely entertaining to watch Jon Stewart totally eviscerate Jim Cramer (Mr. Mad Money) on the Daily show.

I give Cramer points for even going on the show, although, I'm sure he's working under the premise that any publicity is good publicity.

Still Cramer ends up looking like an ass-kissing, smoking corpse; an enabler, a snake-oil cheerleader for the greedy bastards on Wall Street.

And Jon Stewart is the dangerously intelligent, smirking, wise-cracking hero! Amazingly Jon Stewart seems to be the only "truth teller" on the idiot box.

Fucking A!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three sentences

You can't really reduce a human being.

We all seem to be living in a state of luxurious insecurity.

The finality of things is so damn final.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Aggressive, Greedy, Assholes

Now for some reason I've had Noam Chomsky on the brain.

I'm completely paraphrasing, but I vaguely remember years ago hearing Noam say something along these lines...

If you construct a society that rewards aggressive, greedy, assholes, you will end up with a society controlled by aggressive, greedy assholes.

I think that explains a lot.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Great Unraveling

Let's call it the Great Unraveling.

Everything is being unwound.

All kinds of interesting scams and schemes are being revealed.

All kinds of rich people and power centers are coming up empty.

Evolution's engine is being hot-wired.

Society is being turned upside down.

What is important, what is beautiful, what is desirable is having a make-over.

This is all for the good.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dealer of Choice

Maybe it's a sign when your Dealer of Choice, uses your image (that's Brian Kim one of the K Brothers, the Lovely Carla and I in the picture) as an example of a happy satisfied customer on their web site ?

Anyone who reads this blog, knows I have a deep and abiding addiction to coffee. This is my rocket fuel of choice. I usually brew up a nice pot of the black gold in the morning to get me going, to assure that "dumps" to "sunny" transformation. It usually works.

Later, sometime during the day, I inevitably find myself at the Brothers K Coffeehouse (their coffee concoctions and baristas are top of the pops) on the corner. This is the neighborhood hub, the place to meet and greet. It has become the focal point for my little neighborhood tribe.

Anyway the Brothers K Coffeehouse has a new website and it's one of the nicest looking websites I've ever seen. Beautifully designed by Jonathan Liss.

If you are ever in the hood, come on and check it out. I'll probably be there hunkered over a latte, or possibly easing off on a hot chocolate. What a way to go...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Tonight Let's All Make Love in London

I've had a nasty lingering cold for awhile now. I'm figuring it's just a metaphor for the state of the world. A kind of congested and wheezing condition, maybe not terminal but certainly disheartening. It's the stuff you can't see (germs, credit default swaps) that will lay you out.

So winter in Chicago, a bad cold; I've done a lot of reading lately. There's a cool little used bookstore a few blocks from my apartment. I sometimes wander in and just pick something off the shelf. That's the old fashioned way of finding a book.

Sometimes you come across a book that you'd never specifically order, but since it's sitting there, it's cheap, ($8 bucks) you think, "what the hell."

So I plunged into Nicholas Shaffner's "A Saucerful of Secrets, The Pink Floyd Odyssey." I'm not the biggest Pink Floyd fan in the world, but I've always enjoyed listening to some of their discs, especially "Dark Side of the Moon," and "Wish You Were Here." In the 70's listening to Pink Floyd was some kind of cultural marker. The bongs helped.

I thought "The Wall" was pretty much an overblown piece of crap, (as well as a perfectly realized 4 sided dystopia) and certainly the movie is a hideous example of a self-absorbed Rock Star who thinks he's the center of the world. I mean I guess that's the theme of the movie, but it's seems it's also Roger Waters primary modus operandi.

Roger Waters comes across as a control freak who makes no compromises, who has made some supremely compelling music, grand and ambitious, and who has also made enemies wherever he goes. In some ways Waters is the ultimate, self-absorbed artist, one who wants to save the world, but seems to despise everything and everyone in it. Some call him Megalomaniac. I find him completely fascinating and a little repellent too.

I certainly admire his commitment to his vision.

Anyway, the book is a great read, it's interesting how focusing on a group or a person, taking them through the decades of their existence really illuminates the world, culture, society, politics, business, music, fashion, etc. It's a story about us too. And since I lived through some of the times described in the book it is quite the personal odyssey too.

The book is dominated by some interesting personalities, primarily, the aforementioned Roger Waters, David Gilmour (those two dudes ended up hating each other) and of course the Madcap, the Crazy Diamond himself, Syd Barrett.

Ironically both Barret and Waters ended up outsiders to their own band. The last phase of Pink Floyd was firmly in the hands of David Gilmour.

Syd headed up the band in their early "underground days," when they were the house band at a club in London called UFO. Some consider that early version of the band the real deal. Certainly it was an experimental, arty band, that didn't have a lot of commercial potential. Maybe a lot like Syd himself.

Anyway, I found a very rare clip, (who knew it even existed?) of Syd and company playing "Interstellar Overdrive" live at UFO and at a recording session. There are some great scenes of the English Hip Psychedelic scene in it's infancy and glory.

You can even see Syd Barret wanking away on his Danlectro and his mirror Fender Esquire guitar. Man those times are long, long gone. Did they ever really happen?

It's all from a movie called "Tonight Let's All Make Love in London." It's worth giving a try, (maybe a little spacey and annoying, but also sort of enjoyable), almost like finding a video of a lost island tribe on Atlantis or something. I'm thinking the drugs were probably better then, although really they didn't seem to sit well with Syd one bit.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Night of the Living Dead

We've entered the "Night of the Living Dead" or "Shaun of the Dead" phase of our culture. The Zombies are multiplying. People, companies and Institutions that are dead and just don't know it. And if they bite you, you're dead and don't know it too. It's a creepy new world.

Lots and lots of unknowing!

Zombie Banks. Zombie Financial Services companies. Zombie Car Companies. Zombie Suburban tracts. Zombie Cities.

Zombie Governments!

There's the meth addicts, the crack heads, the TV Idiot Class, the Video Gamers, the Internet Drones.

Zombie, Zombie, Zombie!

I'm fine. I'm sure of it. I wouldn't even think of eating human flesh. Nope, not even a little delectable finger. Not a Zombie.

I mean, what the... "ARRRRGH! ZZZZZZZ! GRRRRR!"

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Globe on the Juice

The Binge Economy. Steroids World. Globe on the Juice.

Isn't it kind of weird that the Entertainment world, the Sports World, the Economic world all went off the rails simultaneously? It just kind of happened and we didn't notice.

Everyone ended up juiced. And since everyone was doing it, it was kind of imperceptible.

The bubble world in all it's splendor has been driven by scam, deceit and chemical cocktails.

In a way aren't we all Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez?

Pumped up on easy credit, inflatable housing, huge consumer debt? The steroids of finance? The steroids of the web?

And in a way we all cheated. Except it turns out we only cheated ourselves.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ghost Boxing

I don't need a shrink.
I don't need the meds.
I don't need the juice.
I have the Lovely Carla.

"Jimmy, you have to stop. You are boxing with a ghost. And the ghost is you."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

How to Dismantle a Spiritual Epiphany

I've got shelves full of books. I've always been a seeker. Looking for answers. And really the questions seem to just continue to pile up.

How to Dismantle a Spiritual Epiphany?

My previous post mentioned one such episode. And after I read what I wrote it seemed so paltry, so cliche, so trite. I certainly didn't do it justice.

How to Dismantle a Spiritual Epiphany?

I don't know, it's kind of like dissecting a cat, right? I mean, what you love about your cat, the meaning of your cat, the importance of your cat cannot be found in analyzing the parts. By looking inside, you might understand some of the plumbing, but that understanding does not add up to what you love about the cat.

And by dissecting, you kill it. You end up with a dead cat. Not the same thing at all.

How to Dismantle a Spiritual Epiphany?

So I think the answer is you can't. You can have one, experience one, but can't really explain it. That's one thing I've learned after all these years of seeking - reading all those books.

And it's the same with other things too.

I can take U2's music apart (for instance). And tell you that Edge is a great, inventive guitar player, that Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen are an exquisitely good rhythm section, that Bono has an evocative voice and that his song lyrics speak on a transcendent plane, but that doesn't really add up to what U2's music means to me.

It might explain why I think they're a good band, but it doesn't really tell you why they are important to me. Why they speak to me on a deeper level, why their music seems wise and holy in some weird pop cultural way.

And what of that feeling of oneness, of everything is perfect, that flooded my consciousness, my being? I can't dismantle that. I can't explain it. There was the water, the sky, the beach, the dog, the music, and me. And it was all so much more than that.

How to Dismantle a Spiritual Epiphany?

Yes, exactly!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Epiphanies are Hard to Come By

I don't know if you're excited about the release of U2's latest music. I've heard that radio stations and MTV (does any one watch MTV anymore?) aren't really all that pumped about playing it. It's kind of funny. Finally a band gets so big, no one wants to see or hear them anymore.

Sometimes over-saturation has it's limits.

Still these guys are masters of playing the pop consciousness game, and I figure we'll all be seeing a lot of them. Check out this great site. You can listen to the complete album "No Line on the Horizon," and see cool pictures and videos.

Not long ago I had an amazing spiritual epiphany while listening to their song "One Step Closer" on my iPod. I was dog-walking on the beach, and this incredible wave of good feeling and oneness overcame me.

I ended up buying a bunch of U2 albums that I never really listened to before and loaded them up on my private music unit. They really do have a remarkable discography. I think Pop, Zooropa, How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb and Achtung Baby are absolutely superb. These are the discs that U2 really dismantle and remake their sound. Their collaborations with Brian Eno, Flood and Daniel Lanois are truly remarkable.

Plus Boy and Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree and War are the discs where U2 defined U2. U2 makes music that rewards repeated listens. It is sophisticated Pop/Rock. Some of the best music ever recorded. Really. And those spiritual epiphanies don't come easily and often. So I am eternally grateful to those dudes.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I know something is wrong, when I get the newspaper and go to the business section first. Usually numbers make my head spin.

And really there's so much head spinning material in the biz section it makes you pine for Linda Blair!

Looks like we are in for some major exorcism of our banking/financial sector.

The Devils have been playing Casino with the Wealth of Nations.

And now the rich people are getting a major hair cut.

Kind of like going from Moe to Curly.

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