wwsp albums on bandcamp!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose." - Nelson Algren

I'm a long-time Chicagoan. I was born here. I love the City. The winters here, not so much, but it's part of the Midwestern ethic. It's part of our gritty mythology. We can live in a place that is both friendly and brutal. We could move, but maybe we're a little dim, or maybe mobility is considered kind of flighty.

The weather in Chicago is a game and a metaphor. Change is eternal.

I love living here. Even though that love is colored with pain. Our great Chicago poet is Nelson Algren - check him out if you want to revel in the grand seediness, the hard-bitten streets of a City on the Make.

So, all that said, I am rooting against Chicago getting the Olympics. Give the games to Rio or Hong Kong, or where-ever. This City is corrupt. To it's core. Maybe that's part of the charm.

But the Powers that Be in this city are salivating at the thought of hosting the Olympics here, and those of us who live here know it's really just a boondoggle. An excuse to ask the first question any Chicago Alderman worth his salt would ask (as Mike Royko - that great Chicago newsman told it),"Where's Mine?"

Michelle and Barack have signed on to lobby for a Chicago Olympics. I think it's a mistake. Give it to Rio. We don't need to feed the beast. Obama has more important fish to fry. This place is a two-bit pit of greed. The Olympics would just be one more grand folly.

Our Fat Cats are fat enough. The streets and trains and schools are crumbling. We don't need no stinking games. This City is a game.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old-Fashioned Habit

I read plays. It's kind of a quaint, old-fashioned habit, sort of like collecting stamps or butterflies. Plays are really meant to be performed, but there is a special pleasure in reading a well-written play, and there are some really great playwrights writing great plays right now.

It's not all just Shakespeare, Beckett, Pinter, Ionesco, Shepard and Tennessee Williams...

I'd include Martin McDonagh and Jez Butterworth in that group. I have read most of McDonagh's work and it is funny and brilliant. He is a true Irish Bard of high distinction. His work is funny and brutal. His first movie, which he wrote and directed was In Bruges, one of the best movies I've seen in the last few years.

And Jez Butterworth (Come on, you can't lose with a name like that!) has written two really excellent plays Mojo (I saw a great production a few years back at the Mary Archie Theatre) and Jerusalem. I just finished Jeruselem and I really enjoyed it. Butterworth is a master word-smith and his melding of high and low culture, fine art and pop clutter is superb. Funny as hell too. Both of these dudes come from the British Isles. They are keeping the flame burning bright. Rave on!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Druid Priest/Aleister Crowley/Les Paul/Wizard from the Underworld/Schtick.

We ordered up a bunch of new cds. Always on the hunt for new sounds. One of the discs I picked was from Sunn O))) yes that's not a typo. I checked them out on YouTube and well, they are definitely doing something...

Sort of a Druid Priest/Aleister Crowley/Les Paul/Wizard from the Underworld/Schtick.

This is sound. This is theater. This is some kind of sonic ritualistic convocation. Matching hoods, a bank of amplifiers, a smoke machine and ear splitting, down-tuned guitars makes for a sonic spectacle.

Kind of funny, kind of dark. This is a band Satan might dig.

I'm sort of jealous, I never get to play that loud! And you figure the hood makes dressing for a show a no-brainer!

UPDATE: The Mind Reels: Is it all giggling and grins back in the dressing room after a show? Or is it ritual blood-lettings and grim murmurings? I mean just how do these dudes chill out?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sort of Counter-Intuitive Saturday!

Things I suspected but didn't know (which is subject to change) conclusively until yesterday...

1. Chickens are hot!
2. All the hype can render the music un-listenable. When you are reborn as a Video and Monopoly Game it's way beyond over! Forget the Fabs give me Yo La Tengo!
3. Vinyl (scratches and all) really is better than CD.
4. Yoko Ono totally kicks ass!
5. Neil Young's "Greendale" is a masterpiece.
6. The Doors and the Kinks wear really well.
7. Little speakers matched with a sub-woofer - sonic nirvana!
8. Lunch time Indian Buffet - the good life.
9. The Benedictine Monks brew a hell of a good Belgian Ale.
10. Every time I watch an episode Mad Men's Dan Draper sends me into an existential cul de sac . Maybe it's the hair?!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

“Capitalism is an evil and you can’t regulate evil. You have to replace it with something that is good for everyone.” - Michael Moore

Love Matt Taibbi. A must read. Check this out. Haven't seen it anywhere else.

The rot is evenly distributed across the system. Corruption has seeped into every nook and cranny of our empire.

I think that 's the premise of Michael Moore's new flick too.

Now I guess we've all been convinced that nothing can be good for everyone. We've all bought into the self interest thing. What's good for me isn't good for you and if you're suffering - tough shit.

There's the Wise Guys and the Dupes. We all want to be a Wise Guy. But in order to be a Wise Guy you have to find a Dupe. It's like a Clown Show where each clown rises in status, by knocking the next clown down a peg or two. It's sort of tragically funny.

Then again, what's good for the individual might not be good for the species. And when we have billions and billions served that conflict becomes more and more conflicting. Who thinks for the species? I don't know. Is it even possible?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some Say Ice, Some Say Fire!

Okay the old story told us that this Dude and this Chick ate an apple and they got kicked out of paradise. Maybe that's not the way the story goes...

Instead, the Dude and Chick were given the keys to paradise, and they just weren't satisfied. So they started making changes, drastic changes...

And instead of Paradise, they cooked up a big Towering Inferno made up of plastic and garbage and all kinds of silly junk.

And then the Pointy-Headed Ones told them that they were fucking things up and they had to change their ways.

And then, well... they didn't listen!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tickling the Dragon's Tail

When I contemplate Bioengineering I remember last century and the great melding of Science and Military Genius.

Two Atomic Bombs were dropped on Japan - one on Hiroshima and six days later on Nagasaki. Two cities with big civilian populations. One of the greatest war atrocities ever imagined.

Check out this timeline. It is chilling.

And a bunch of scientists, including our one great heralded genius, Albert Einstein, helped build the beast. They had their reasons. Everyone always has their reasons.


There are limits to reason.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Better Mouse One Bio-Brick at a Time

Okay, this article by Michael Specter in the New Yorker is a real eye-opener. It seems the Industrial Age is over and the Bio-Engineering Age is beginning.

We will now be building new life forms with BIO-BRICKS! This could save us from ourselves - we will be able to build organisms that generate totally clean energy, we can build organisms that digest carbon dioxide.

We can build a better mousetrap and a better mouse!

So far Scientists and and Science students are going to town on this stuff. So everything being bandied about seems benevolent.

I couldn't help asking myself as I read the article - what about the military?! I mean, if history tells us anything, the great military industrial complex has to have their hands deep in this stuff.

Someone in the Pentagon must be tinkering with BIOBRICKS with the intent of creating a new generation of weapons. And what about building a better Army - one BIOBRICK at a time?!

So yes, if we can create life from basic building blocks (like LEGO), then we truly do have what some would call GOD-LIKE powers. And just what kind of GODS will we be? Nature has been working on this stuff for millions of years. I wonder what we're gonna come up with in the next decades?

Are we gonna be gratified or horrified? Anyone want to hazard any guesses?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Inborn Feature

But then the bleakness of the human adventure is just one of it's inborn features. As George Carlin would remind us, the planet will be fine, it's just the life on the planet that is gonna be toast.

A ball of fire, or a chunk of ice? For the planet it's just another geological era.

So what role to play here? The Doom-sayer gets a little old really fast. I'm not really wired that way. The Eternal Optimist seems sort of silly or blind. Does one live with eyes closed or open?

Probably a little of both. So, it's probably best to just improvise the moment. We don't really know how it's all gonna come down.

Expect the worst, hope for the best. And live lightly on the land. That's about all I got.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kill the Ecosystem

The evidence seems to be piling up: We are our own worst enemy.

We are clever, greedy little bastards. Which worked for us for thousands of years to be fruitful and multiply.

But what may have worked to our advantage has been at the expense of everything else.

We forgot we live in an ecosystem, and if we conquer that, and try to re-engineer it, well, I guess we will find out the limits of our own cleverness.

Kill the ecosystem and the clever, greedy little bastards are fucked too!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Man

I get the sense that Barack Obama is a smart, reasonable man with a pretty high-level job, in a country filled with dumb unreasonable people.

I wonder how that's all going to work out?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Art of the Night

Our bands played a new club (for us) last night, The Lucky Number. A very cool place.

The best thing: we played in front of the great big open window that framed the Chicago night. As we played, I could look behind me and see a thriving city night scene: bikers, cops, the el, street people, hot boys and girls out for a night of frolic.

We fronted this scene. It was just so cool. It was like we played the night, and everything was in that big open window frame.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Five Fingers!

I don't know what came over me. I bought a pair of these kooky shoes. I went for the basic black. Why aren't they called Five Toes? Maybe that didn't really market-test well.

Anyway, I've had them for a few weeks. I've put about 20 miles on them running. It's true, it does feel like you are running barefoot.* They really look freaky too. I noticed that my running style has definitely changed.

First time I ran with them my calf muscles were really sore. And I do feel more vulnerable running in these things. I'm not sure, but I think I run a little more carefully, I seem to work harder, maybe go a little slower.

Still, it's weird, I like them. I feel more sure-footed, and I kind of like being able to really feel the surfaces I'm running on. Now I really notice: crushed stone path, green grass field, hard black pavement, pointy-headed gravel.

Plus, I can go with the theory - these shoes with toes let you run more naturally. Millions of years of evolution came up with the human foot, maybe wearing shoes that fit like a glove and let your foot do it's natural thing is right and good.

I've tried every running shoe known to man - add these to the list - FIVE FINGERS!

*UPDATE: This is truly contrary to everything I believed about running shoes. I have been a long-time runner who believed that he needed cushioning and stability - gel, rubber, air - whatever it took to keep my feet encased in protection. Naked, bare feet? I did not think I could run that way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Popism = Taoism

I don't know what took me so long. I finally got around to reading Andy Warhol's "Popism" (published in 1980) which gives us a glimpse of the 60's through the Andy Warhol prism. It's based on Warhol's diaries. It seems definitive!

Warhol looms as the Godfather of Pop. And it seems everyone who was anyone in the 60's came through Warhol's Factory where Andy churned out paintings, prints, movies and The Exploding Plastic Inevitable!

You get a glimpse of lots of people, famous (mainly) or not: Candy Darling, Viva, Ingrid Superstar, Edie Sedgwich, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Tennessee Williams, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Paul Morrissey, Billy Name, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground and a cast of thousands.

Andy's journey runs parallel to what was in the air. Andy is our mirror. And Pop, which started as a sort underground sensibility in his little circle became the Global Religion it is today.

There's lots of "dishing" and gossip, but lots of great insight too. Warhol was our Lao Tzu. Really. And the book is laugh out loud funny! According to Andy some of those years were fueled by "Mother's Little Helper" and everyone was speeding like a amped up MOFO.

Andy's definition of POP - what was outside was now inside, and what was inside was now outside. and everyone could do everything.

Warhol was the absolute genius of our time. Then, as an instigator, the Source of the Nile, (or maybe not the source, he was a sponge soaking it all in, and a mirror who reflected back an extraordinary world without judgement. Andy was SO REAL. In that way he reminds me of Dylan at his best too - Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde - a sensitive soul reflecting back a world off it's hinges.) and maybe even more so now, as our all pervading, all penetrating Patron Saint.

POP!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Perfect Place

I just lived in my head yesterday. It is a pleasant enough place. I ended up walking about 2 1/2 hours. And the weather was perfect. Sunny, 80's. The lakefront was glistening.

Sometimes the moment will just expand, and moments were quite expansive yesterday.

And as they say, everything was perfect and in it's perfect place. Even me. I mean, not perfect, no, for sure, oh so human, but still unaccountably in the perfect place.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Strays

Always Evolve and Grow.

Watch out for those Uninformed Strangers.

What's in my head is wilder than what's on it.

Pop!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Live there Too!

When someone would ask William Blake where he lived, he'd reply that he lived in that special land called "The Imagination."

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dream Brother

I just read "Dream Brother," by David Browne. What a haunting read. Browne tells the story of the Buckleys, Tim and Jeff. Both were singer/songwriters, Tim, the father, and Jeff the son.

The book is well-written, it alternates chapters between the two men. I didn't know much about Tim, who died at 28 of a heroin overdose, but I knew a lot about Jeff, who at 30 drowned in a river in Tennessee.

Jeff was an extraordinary singer who had a "five octave voice." His influences were wide-ranging - from Edith Piaf, Nina Simone, Van Morrison, to Led Zeppelin and Robert Johnson. Maybe he was too wide-ranging for some tastes. To me it was all amazing and dazzling. I discovered him early from his glorious live set a Sin e in New York in the 90's. Later he released "Grace." One of my favorite records of all time.

Jeff was one of those sensitive souls who seemed too lit up for the world. He wore all his feelings, and his heart, on his sleeve. The description of his final day is just so haunting and heart-breaking.

Simple steps, he did this, he did that led to his death that day. One step different and maybe he would have lived a long wonderful life. The dude really resonates with me. A person and an archetype - think Keats, Shelley, Cobain.

Of course Jeff Buckley was very much his own extraordinary star.

The day I read the chapter about Jeff's drowning, I had a lucid dream in which I lived through a plane crash. I ended up swimming to shore, alive. It was one of those life-changing kind of dreams.

In some weird way I feel like he was my Dream Brother.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lazy, Greedy and Cheap

Michael Pollan writes in the NY Times that we are killing ourselves with our fast food diet.

"We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet."

I read somewhere else that since we tend to be lazy, greedy and cheap, changing our eating habits will be very difficult. Plus we have a huge coporate food industry working hard to keep us addicted to their calorie-filled shit sandwiches.

If you think of it, much of what we think of as innovation can probably be traced to our desire to sit on the couch and stuff our faces with fat, sugar and salt. We truly are the Bubble People!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"You Lie." - Congressman Joe (Dumb-ASS) Wilson

I suppose we need to thank Joe (Dumb-Ass) Wilson, the esteemed Congressman from South Carolina.

I had my doubts whether one speech could change minds and move an issue forward.

And maybe without Wilson's Tourette's Syndrome-like outburst, health care reform would be dead in the water.

Not now. Obama lives under a lucky star.

Can I get an "Amen!" from the Amen Corner?

"AMEN!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Good Vibrations

A gathering of the neighborhood tribes yesterday. We invited everyone, and told them to bring something. Every one did, and there was an amazing feast. More than enough for everyone. Isn't that how it should always work?

Everyone gives. Everyone shares.

We played music. I got into a long droning jam with a banjo player. Sort of a shimmering Celtic kind of thing. It was so exhilarating. We both did an open tuning thing. The sound was really captivating.

The good vibes washed over us all as the sun set in the west. Even the nay-sayers just could not fuck with the good vibrations. It was sort of funny to watch them crumble under the blanket of good neighborly feelings. The bad vibes were just totally out-numbered and out-flanked.

Sweet!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Alien Visitor

I do think I'm comfortable cataloguing the death of a culture. And it's not a fatalistic enterprise, or maybe, it's isn't only a fatalistic enterprise, because at the same time there is new life. Our cultural life mirrors the natural world. Things are always dying and being born.

I think Dickens line is always appropriate: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

You can't be overwhelmed by either. And it's probably never as bad as you think, and maybe not as good as you think either. It's the process of life and death that can be a little mind boggling.

We're all implicated in the process. And every moment teeters on the edge. That's the nub of it all. Which is weird. And I can only ever really feel alien to the whole thing.

So as an Alien Visitor you live a life, and watch it unfold before you too. Cataloging the little deaths and births along the way.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

"Consume, Be Silent, Die."

I saw the above quote written on the wall of an abandoned Blockbuster.

The urban blight is growing. Strip malls were bad enough; their cheap ugliness defacing the landscape and the people who inhabit it.

But dead strip malls are a malevolent plague, and they are multiplying like diseased zombie blood cells. Enough zombie cells and the body is transformed into a giant, supperating, beast.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A Slow Ebbing

Of course, Post Civilization is a slow motion phenomenon.

All systems break down, but I'm thinking this drift toward entropy is going to be a very slow, no, a painfully slow ebbing.

If the apocalypse comes it will be a supremely boring event. We might even sleep through it. And then one day, we wake up, and we find that the earth has moved beneath our feet.

The old world gone, a new world birthing.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Vampire Chic

I read this in the fashion section of the New York Times. So it must be true...

We are now living in...

"the kind of world in which everything is bleak; it's POST CIVILIZATION."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Stupid and Dangerous Primates!

You sometimes get the idea that we're pretty clever. We are the primates with thumbs who somehow got smart.

Then you hear about something like texting while driving. And you have a total re-think.

Plus you just know that whatever is being texted is totally inane.

Holy Freaking Shit! We have thumbs. That's about it!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Nutty Country

Invade other countries? Yep. No problem.

Bomb civilian populations? Yep. No problem.

Detain and torture people? Yep. No problem.

Affordable Healthcare for anyone who needs it? Are you freaking kidding me?

I'm sorry, that cannot be tolerated!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Whistling Past the Graveyard?!

When does being positive in the face of doom and gloom become ridiculous?

My life will be the answer!

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