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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Heavy Medicine

Days of paradise are few and far between here in the heartland. An extended gloom has descended upon the land.

What's a poor, foggy-headed pilgrim to do?

The usual weapons don't seem to be doing the trick: bountiful cups of java, daily meditation, chocolate, long-distance running.

Finally I decide to mix it up and resort to the heavy medicine: ICED SOY MOCHA LATTE!

Thankfully it seems to be working. It's still gloomy outside, but in my own little bubble, I just don't seem to give a fig!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Apocalyptic Juggling

Okay, just how many apocalyptic doomsday scenarios are we supposed to juggle at one time?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

70 Million Kronur!? Yes, but did he sing "Rocket Man?"

“It is the same poisonous philosophy that we had here, based on a lack of moral awareness and greed, and people who thought nothing of flying Elton John into Iceland for their 50th birthdays and paying him 70 million Icelandic kronur,” or roughly $600,000." - Iceland's Steingrimur Sigfusson

Monday, April 27, 2009

Uh Oh!

My radio tells me "don't panic."

Seems there's a bunch of mad swine on the loose in Mexico, and they are threatening to cross the border. The authorities are asking for calm.

I guess that means prepare for the worst.

No consorting with pigs, wash your hands, lay low.

When the authorities tell me not to worry, I can't help it, I start worrying!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ball of Confusion

Lots and lots of people. Probably more people on the planet than ever before. At least as far as we know. Which admittedly isn't very far.

So, with this many people all kinds of things happen every day.

Paying attention can be a full time job. And the pay isn't very good. And then people are coming and going all the freaking time.

Lots of sadness and happiness all mixed up together. It can be sort of confusing, confounding.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Long-Form Improv

Yesterday was sunny, 80 degrees of paradise. It came out of nowhere.

No, the warmth came on a stiff southern breeze.

Everybody came out. Kind of like the Clay People in those old Flash Gordon's - white, pasty-faced people emerging into the daylight to greet the blue sky, the spring greenery, the roiling lake.

It was one of those days where you were happy just to be alive. No plan, no agenda. Just one long-form improvisation. Remember - always say "yes," keep the game going forward, don't wait for the laugh, just listen and respond.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"It Takes Guts to Be Gentle and Kind" - Morrissey

So you ask me this awkward question: "jimmy jammer, you like the Smiths, okay, it's been a long, long time since they made a record, I mean that group is long dead and gone, they are so last century, but still, if you were gonna delve into their catalog, which of their records would you recommend?"

jimmy jammer: "I haven't heard every record they ever made, just a few, I don't know why, I mean, I love them. I owned one or two on vinyl and then bought the same ones in cd format. I recently loaded up a couple discs on my iPod and it's like finding an old long-lost friend. I'm a big fan of "The Queen is Dead." Just about every song is great. I mean Morrissey is not only a great singer, he has the literary chops to write exquisite lyrics and Johnny Marr's approach to the guitar is unique and relevatory."

"I Know It's Over" is amazingly good:

"It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes strength to be gentle and kind
Over, over, over, over
It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes guts to be gentle and kind
Over, over
Love is Natural and Real
But not for you, my love
Not tonight, my love
Love is Natural and Real
But not for such as you and I, my love
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my ...
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can even feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head
Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my ... "

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Big Brother Sucks!

Hey it's all over the news, I'm not gonna bother to find a link. The Black Hell of Illegal Torture consumed a good portion of the last administration. It is no surprise. Very old news.

Still it's kind of amazing how many supposedly bright, high-profile people approved methods that were clearly violations of international law. And there is a good portion of the Washington establishment: politicians, and media pundits who are basically cheerleaders for torture. And there's probably plenty of people out in the heartland who have no problem with torture either.

There should be a "perp walk" of some prominent people in the near future. Whether it will happen or not is anybody's guess. Probably not. But if not, it only shows that a sickness and corruption has over-taken the body politic. If we can't get the basics right, then we are truly fucked.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

“I can smell burning flesh and I hope to god it’s human!” - Morrissey

Ever since I was a wee lad, I've always been partial to those songwriters who could write a good lyric. I think Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Paul Simon probably set the standard for me. Plus later I discovered some other guys, especially Johnny Mercer who wrote some killer songs, literate, sophisticated and funny.

I recently read a book on Roxy Music and ever since, I've been obsessing over some of the great British lyricists. My favorites include, Ray Davies, Bryan Ferry, Pete Townsend, Robyn Hitchcock and Morrissey. I'm especially a big fan of the Smiths, one of those great bands that really sounded like no one else. Sort of fey and precious. The Smiths are another instance of a great collaborative effort between a singer and a guitar player (Morrissey and Johnny Marr).

By the way, Morrissey played a set at the recent Coachella festival. He is a long-time vegetarian and as the story goes...

The wafting smell of the hamburger and gyro stands made it to the crooner’s nostrils. Morrissey grimaced and then gagged. “I can smell burning flesh and I hope to god it’s human!”


Cut to the YouTube a nice video montage featuring a Smiths song created by someone out in internet-land!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Cloud

It seems we don't know what we know until we know it. And we don't really know what we know until the moment's over, the dust has settled, and we're looking back at the wreckage, or the post-party, or whatever.

So it's one of those things like, you're in the moment, and moment sort of seems like chaos, unknowable, and you think you know what's going on, but you're quite not sure. You're looking for clues, details to hang onto. And you surmise. And plan and hope.

And then the thing happens, the world unfolds, the moment passes, and then there's some kind of dawning. Oh yeah. That's it. Or you think you know. And you move on. Although everything is fungible or up for re-evaluation. And maybe that re-evaluation goes on for a lifetime.

And that's kind of the cloud we live in.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Truth-Teller in Chief

"We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand." - Barack Obama

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Private Paradise

The Lovely Carla and I watched Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" again last night. It's one of our favorite films. Bertolucci is a supremely accomplished visual poet. Every scene is suffused with a hushed beauty. Not quite as brutally stunning as "Last Tango in Paris," but still a superb companion to that film.

Both are based in Paris. Both are about creating a private paradise and the limits to that strategy. Both films feature amazing soundtracks, in the case of "Tango" it's Gato Barbieri, and in "The Dreamers" it's primarily the great music of the those fallen 60's heroes, Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison. All of them done in by self-induced excess.

I hadn't heard Jim Morrison's voice in awhile. And it really called out to me. What a great vocalist. Forget the legend for a moment, forget the excess, forget the leather pants. The man could really sing. Indelible. The Doors were a great band. One of those groups with no middle ground, you either loved them or hated them. Put me in the camp of love...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

And that is the Dream

You come here, you can't explain it, one day, you find yourself ambling around the planet with no real clue about origins or destinations, you have no brief or mission book, and the maps and rule books people try to shove into your greedy mitts seem so lame or implausible, or just not appealing at all.

You'd prefer not to.

So on your good days you dream. You dream big dreams and you dream little dreams, and you dream about dreams and dreaming. You dream how you're gonna change the world. And you burn up a lot of time and energy making plans and hatching schemes and how you're gonna implement all these dreams and schemes, and how happy you're gonna be when A and B and C and D and E and F and G happens.

And maybe the dreamed up things happen and maybe they don't. And then you have learn how to be happy anyway, or maybe no that's not what happens, sometimes happiness comes down on you like rain, and it really doesn't matter what happens or what doesn't happen, sometimes you are happy and sometimes you are not happy and you can't really explain how or why it happens that way, it just does.

Just more mystery to add to your closet full of mysteries.

And then one day you notice that maybe you haven't really changed the world, it hasn't happened like that, no the world has changed you and maybe that was the dream that the world had, that it would be impervious to change but it could change the beings who lived in the world. And really the world isn't impervious to anything. The world changing you means the world changes too. It's some weird equation where everything adds up, even the things you can't sum. And you helped fulfill that particular dream and really that was what you meant anyway.

You dreamed of changing the world but what you meant was you wanted the world to change you and it was gonna happen anyway whether you wanted it to happen or not. And that is the dream and the dream was realized. It was always gonna be realized. You just didn't realize it. Until you did.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A More Clarified Existence

My fair weather friends won't understand since they get sunshine and blue sky and moderate temps all the time. Here in the city of Big Shoulders, the days of gorgeousness are few and far between. And when you get one of those days, it's usually already fading away, or you're deeply in the know that this is a gift that won't last, it can be taken away with one stiff breeze. The next one down the line will probably be soggy or cloudy or cold.

Yesterday was one of the gorgeous ones. And I was on a trek to the Heart. Off to play music with my brother in Wicker Park. Which is always a weird-ass kick. We fire up our amps and wail. Sometimes it's ecstasy and sometimes complete madness. Usually a little of both. I'd probably enjoy it all the more if I was on the juice, but I've opted for a more clarified existence. So that means everything comes sort of bifurcated.

Cognitive Dissonance should be tattooed on my freaking forehead.

So, I wore my dark shades, plugged in my iPod and rode the vibe of the day. Kind of like Williard on his way to his reckoning with Kurtz. The young ladies were out, showing off the latest fashions. Suddenly, everything seemed brighter and lighter. A spring day, and the green shoots of the future were poking from the mud.

And unaccountably a certain joy just seemed to completely envelope me. I was a letter of joy without a sender. It was a day of clues and no solutions.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Stupid

The Big Media Megaphone just loves the stupid. And it seems if you blare enough stupid out into the atmosphere it saturates everything. We all eat it, breathe it, regurgitate it.

It's all just too much stupid. And we are getting stupider. No doubt. Wired, connected, on-line and fucking stupid.

We can turn the Megaphone off. Stuff our ears. Pick up a book and actually read it, or sit in silence, or change the subject.

Live outside the herd for awhile. It's a little less crowded and less stupid.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Odd Ducks*

I do like my people to be smart, funny, articulate and creative.

* I originally titled this post, "Vanishing Breed?" But really, I don't think it's about breeding at all. The circumstances of our births are pretty much circumstantial. And I don't think they are vanishing either, just rare. These are the kind of ducks who don't like to be put in a row.

All of us are capable. Each and every one of us. We are human beings.



In the moment.


How do we choose to be in the world? What do we value? How do we treat each other?

I think it's more a question of choosing to be awake or asleep. There's upsides and downsides to both.

I drink way too much coffee to hang with the sleeping ones for long. So I put myself in the "awake" category, although, to be honest, I could be just a light sleeper.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Steady Souls

The dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham is 90 years old. Still going. Makes me feel like a spring chicken.

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls.” - M. Cunningham

And isn't it true of anything that we truly value? The precious moments of our lives? You can't hang them on a wall, or store them away in a drawer. A faded photograph really doesn't do the trick.

A life fully-lived to the absolute max is not for "unsteady souls."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Andrew Bird Whistles

I bought this Andrew Bird Nobel Beast disc yesterday. And played it in the rental car on my way to visit family.

If you are named Andrew Bird, you should be fine-boned, with feather-like locks, you must warble, you must know what a whip-poor-will is, you must have a nice singing voice, you probably play violin, you fill your songs with stringed instruments: mandolins, maybe dulcimers, or other organic sounding things.

And you whistle. I mean, you are a world class whistler. You are a virtuoso whistler. And people are amazed at how good you whistle. You bring the house down with your whistling. Yes, Mr. Bird, you do.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I just finished Michael Bracewell's book on Roxy Music "Re-make/Re-model. It's really a revelatory read. Not just about a band, but about Pop Art, the Rockers, the Mods, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, the Art School world of the 1960's in Newcastle and Reading and London, and the whole what is art anyway conundrum.

I just absolutely loved the book.

I think so highly of the book even in mid-read, I ordered another Bracewell book. I think he's a superb writer. He tackles the subject of Roxy Music as if they are worthy of the utmost research and respect. He makes the case that Bryan Ferry and his vision of Roxy was the perfect melding of fine art and pop art, the living embodiment of the collision of the two.

And the characters that you meet are an extraordinary lot: Richard Hamilton (the Warhol of England), Brian Eno (the avant garde prodigy) Andy Mackay ( the brilliant, classically-trained sax player in the band) Simon Puxley (the tragically brilliant intellect who did PR for the band) and of course Bryan Ferry.

Bracewell also spends a lot of time exploring the fashion of the times, who made the suits and dresses, who styled the hair, and these little details seem to assume major significance - social and cultural impact. The book changes the way you look at the world. Nice job.

Here's a clip from Roxy Music in their early incarnation at a show at the Royal College of Art June 1972. They all seem like exotic birds, or a strangely-stylized aristocratic contingent from a wildly colorful unknown island out beyond the stars. Ferry loved Motown, Ethel Merman, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, John Cage, Muddy Waters, Gene Kelly. Eno and Mackay loved the outer fringes of the serious avant garde. The melding of all those influences made something new and totally exhilarating.

Check out this sonic blast of pure pop art adrenaline. Wow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday Hit Parade

1. It's probably not a good idea to start a conversation with your long-time girlfriend thusly: "I was at the coffee shop and that young Asian girl was on the other side of the counter, and she caught me accidentally looking at her ass and..."

2. Sometimes you are just one hot chocolate away from feeling good.

3. The Lovely Carla told me that "hairy" was in. Now if "grizzled, worn-out, beat and wizened" (think Walter Brennan) come back in, I'll be freaking hot!

4. It seems I'm always waiting for the next shoe to drop. It's like there's a bunch of shoes up there. Some filled with gold and daisies, some filled with daggers and stones. And they are just up there waiting to hit the pavement at an inopportune time. Of course, just the shoe-dropping itself could be dangerous. Still I spend much of my days thinking of/waiting for those damn shoes to drop. Gives a whole new meaning to the concept of "loafing!"

5. I posted some new jimmy m. the hermit music here. "When you're walking the dog, you're just walking the dog."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Trickster is Alive and Well

Today some people are burning brain cells over some long ago Messianic Rabbi who kind of ventured off the ranch. It didn't work out so good for the poor guy, sometimes Love is a rebel yell.

Anyway my Mythological Heroes are Tricksters in every way. Not perfect. Supremely quirky. In my book quirky passes for holy.

The Native Americans have Coyote. The ancient Greeks had Hermes.

And we have Bob Dylan.

"It must be the Southern air. It’s filled with rambling ghosts and disturbed spirits. They’re all screaming and forlorning. It’s like they are caught in some weird web - some purgatory between heaven and hell and they can’t rest. They can’t live, and they can’t die. It’s like they were cut off in their prime, wanting to tell somebody something. It’s all over the place. There are war fields everywhere … a lot of times even in people’s backyards." - Bob Dylan

The Dude Abides and never ceases to surprise.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Crux

We say we like consistency in others and ourselves (safer? more predictable?), but really it's our contradictions that make us fully human. And where the contradiction springs is where we find our greatest strengths.

Maybe the most admirable among us, are not those without contradiction (because we know this is a false face, a bald lie, and only the shallow mask of the hypocrite), but those who are fully comfortable with all of their contradictions fully on display.

We are all of us crucified on the cross of contradiction. It's the crux of the human story.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Flying Things

Sunday night I braved the ice and snow and made my way to Silverspace to videotape Sara Thompson's (Sara is in our band WhiteWolfSonicPrincess check out her vocals on "Don't Look in the Mirror") beautiful dance performance piece called "Flying Things."

I basically pushed the buttons and followed the action. Here is the raw footage that Sara posted on YouTube, no edits. What a hauntingly beautiful piece. She is an artist in every way.

Sara also has a really cool web-site with all things Sara!

And she continues to amaze...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Are we all future denizens of Club Orlov?

I don't know if Dmitri Orlov is right or not. He's predicting COLLAPSE of good old USA. He is quite the fascinating and funny writer; always a good, provocative read.

I find much of what he writes quite plausible, which is sort of scary, but the madness of our current situation seems palpable.

So what to do?

Orlov suggests starting a garden, owning a donkey, getting to know your neighbors, maybe getting a sailboat - the wind is a good energy source.

Learn to do something that will be useful as barter in an economy where money is worthless.

Good times?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Just America

I was out on the streets of the big city Saturday night. I was in my own little bubble of genial bliss. Listening to Green Day and the Who.

I'm not sure what it was, but as I watched the passing scene, the people, the cars, the pulse of a busy metropolis, this incredible and overwhelming sense of violence and danger came over me. It was just something in the air. So strong I could almost touch it, smell it.

Nothing in particular happened. It was just like a passing cloud or fog. It seemed as real as death. I can' explain it. It was just something I sensed and couldn't shake.

It was with me the next morning in kind of a hang-over although I had not altered my consciousness with any chemicals or beverages. Nothing stronger than coffee and chocolate. I just thought that I had picked up the general vibe of the night, the city.

We are a land of drugs (legal and illegal) and guns. We are awash in the need to desensitize ourselves with chemicals, we are armed to the teeth preparing for an enemy who lurks in the mirror.

And sometimes it seems the door is coming off it's hinges. The frames are crumbling. What emerges from the haze of narcotics and concealed handguns? Not sure, just America my friends.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Live a Life

I notice that I hate nostalgia, and love history. It's not in my nature to look back at my life wistfully or longingly for times long past. My life has been filled with good moments and not so good moments and moments that now seem neither good nor not so good.

I'm usually just in the moment. And that's good enough.

On the other hand I do like reading history, or especially biographies or autobiographies of people from other times and places. I have found it's a great way to ground events, and draw the crazy strands of our world into some kind of focus. You have to kind of trust that the author isn't completely fabricating shit, some are better than others, but in the right hands it's not that great of a leap of faith.

I realize that I live in a world where our Pop Culture has leached into everything, so for me these characters that I have delved into are all of equal weight, I mean, each a human life: Crazy Horse, Bing Crosby, Jean Genet, Dean Martin, William Blake, Bill Graham, Josef Stalin, Anthony Keidis, Christopher Marlowe, Bono, Arthur Miller, Bertolt Brecht, Elvis Presley, Marcel Duchamp, Jimi Hendrix, Samuel Beckett, George Amstrong Custer, Che Guevara, Richard Sheridan, Morrissey, Francis Bacon, Phil Lesh, Jasper Johns, Richard Nixon, Andy Warhol, Errol & Sean Flynn, Sonny Liston, Jerry Lee Lewis, Andre Breton, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, Led Zeppelin, Robert Oppenheimer, Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan, Yukio Mishima, The Flaming Lips, The Futurists, Emmet Miller, The Beatles, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Vince Lombardi, Black Elk, John Peel, Jean Paul Satre, Johnny Rotten, Sonic Youth, The Dadaists, Pink Floyd, Yoko Ono, Joseph Cornell, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, Aleister Crowley, Dante, Terry Southern, Philip K. Dick, Rolling Stones, Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Charles Laughton, Billy Strayhorn, Thomas Merton, Syd Barret, Machiavelli, Daniel Pearl, George Orwell and a bunch more that I can't recall at the moment.

Which is weird. How come we don't remember everything? And why do we remember the things we remember? And where do the things we forget go?

And what have I learned from all this reading?

There are billions of ways to live a life. Each unique. Like another world. None like any other.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Runaway Thought Train

So put 100 monkeys in a room with typewriters, give them 3 or 4 billion years and one of them will type up "Macbeth." And let's say that for some reason the monkey that comes up with "Macbeth" assumes some kind of cache, and thus scores more chicks.

That's sort of the idea.

And if our DNA code is a script, just a long string of letters, we are actually the result of a mechanism (natural selection) very much like those 100 monkeys in a room and that one lucky stud monkey with a Shakespearean bent.

Everything living on the planet is the result of this mechanism. So that's kind of interesting, or mind-fucking. And then if we think of our lives, and our bodies and brains we think isn't all kind of amazing?

We are kind of a controlled experiment. Or an uncontrolled experiment. Or maybe an experiment gone awry. Or an experiment with no point. Or not really an experiment at all. Those 100 monkeys just can't help themselves. Click, clack, click. (We don't let them have word processors, it's more satisfying to think of them whacking away on old Remington typewriters for some reason).

So there's no good reason we shouldn't just have a great old time while we're here. I mean what the hell.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Please Raise Your Hand

What is that saying, did I hear it or coin it?

"Evolution is good for life, not so good for the living."

There's a bug in the hardware/software of being a human being. Or no, it's just an ego-killing operating feature: "Planned obsolescence."

"The process of a product becoming obsolete and/or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use in a way that is planned or designed by the manufacturer."

Okay, who is the bastard that came up with that damn option?

I wanted to go with the leather seats and "under-coating."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Strange Arithmetic

It's kind of strange to think of your life as the sum of odd occurances, chance encounters, happy or not accidents, weird phenomena, positive fuck-ups, unexplainable epiphanies, molecular collisions, and supremely lucky and unlucky moments.

But there it is...

Or is it that "everything happens for a reason?" Even if you don't know the reason, and never will. And the Universe don't need no stinking reason for anything? It just is?!

Sort of makes the idea of a "plan" or "career" or an ordered existence seem sort of silly or irrelevant, or just plain off the mark.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Son of Idiot?!

I was wondering what happened to Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day. A couple of years ago, at a friend's suggestion, I gave American Idiot a try and it is certainly one of my favorite albums of the new millennium.

Billie Joe is actually quite the ambitious rocker. The music didn't really seem "punk" to me, even if that's where Green Day started. The music is melodic with some great hooks, more in the mode of slick power pop. There's nothing like a cranked Marshall and a Les Paul Jr. wielded with authority to get the adrenaline flowing.

I have always been a fan of the "rock opera." Which sort of seems like a contradiction. A bastard genre. But ever since Sgt. Peppers bands have been playing with the form.

The Who scored with two rock opera masterpieces - "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia." Superb music, great themes, ambitious without being overly grand. Hard rocking and not pretentious (ok maybe a little) in the least. At least that's my take.

And it turns out Green Day is gonna take another crack at it - "21st Century Breakdown." I'm making room on my iPod!

UPDATE: Plus Billie Joe is a funny guy. I mean, I don't think he takes himself too seriously. Which is sort of refreshing. He's the Jesus of Suburbia living on a diet of "soda pop and Ritalin."

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