Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Telepaths played last night. A cozy, neighborhood bar. We cranked up the amps and blasted our sound through the place.
One of our friends called it "psychedelic garage," which sounds good to me.
Is it just me, or is the bar scene a lost and lonely world filled with broken and sad people pretending to be really, really happy?
I don't know. We just rocked out and forgot about everything but the noise!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
We saw Mary Archies' production of "Cherrywood," last night. One of the great plays, perfectly realized. That's my take. It is very of the "now."
A stage full of actors (nearly 50) at a party out of control. At first, I sort of cringed when I heard it was 90 minutes long, but for me it went by in a heartbeat.
Great lines of dialogue, cryptic and prophetic. Great music and lots of amazing performances from a large cross section of the Chicago acting community.
I checked out some reviews this morning and I think lots of people missed the brilliance of this work. Maybe the best overview is Monica Westin's take in the Huffington Post. Although some of what she says seems absurd to me and a lot of what she says I don't agree with either. Why did it take her two viewings to "get it?"
This one hit the bulls-eye for me on the get go. A house full of people at a party out of bounds. Pop culture claptrap and apocalyptic rants about a world unmoored from any roots. A generation at sea in the murk of everything/all the time. Mary Archie is enjoying one of their most successful runs ever. 7 weeks or more of sold out shows.
They have hit a nerve. It's the pulse of the moment! Tonight is closing night. It's sold out!
Friday, August 27, 2010
I still read the newspaper, still listen to NPR.
So the world of human affairs still intrudes on my consciousness. I suppose listening to the chatter is part of what being aware of the world means.
So, it's clear there's "trouble in River City! Trouble with a capital T..."
There's trouble in every corner, in every sector. We are breathing trouble...
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Yes, we all have prejudices. And we must fight them!
Some prejudices are easy to debunk, based on irrationality. But sometimes prejudices are based on real-life experiences. Those types of prejudices are probably even more insidious.
We can make "pre-judgements" based on totally irrational ideas or totally rational facts. Sometimes we "pre-judge" for what we think are good reasons, for instance some concept of survival...
Still prejudice is wrong: morally and literally, and/or practically. To pre-judge a whole people based on some thing is so unimaginative!
Human beings are more than a particular group, race, religion, etc. To lump them into a category is anti-human. Not good for an individual or a society...
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
After a weekend of sound and fury, the Lovely Carla and I spent most of Monday in the world of mundane chores and basic house-keeping responsibilities.
Kind of a come-down from our main-stage heroics...
We also spent some quiet time out on the lakefront. Kind of nursing a "people hangover." We watched the waves crashing into the little man-made beach, watched the seagulls flapping around in the blue sky.
We could almost pretend we were in Laguna Beach. Except we were on a bench facing east as the sun went down behind us. Lots of waves yesterday... the sign at the beach said, "Water Closed Today!"
Monday, August 23, 2010
Back to being audience for day three. We saw lots of good stuff. Our friend Jason sang about the adventures of Lobster Boy on his ukulele in the afternoon.
And then in the evening it was the awe-inspiring "Jimmy Gamble" (which I blogged about last year) and Citizen's Relief superb take of Harold Pinter's "Ashes to Ashes."
In between there was lots of laughter and sound and fury. It was sort of overwhelming. Kind of like letting big waves just rush over you again and again.
A day later, and we were still basking in the glow of a very successful performance on Saturday. Lots of folks came up to us to say they enjoyed our show. It was all very satisfying.
What a great event. Rich Cotovsky and the Mary Archies are just so supportive and generous and vital to the Chicago theater scene.
I'm still buzzing this morning. Now I'm expecting the post-Abbie emptiness to descend. It's kind of inevitable and probably necessary...
Sunday, August 22, 2010
We spent lots of time at the little black box theater yesterday. Saw some really great performances from the Mary Archie players, Famous in the Future and the Plagiarists. I mean, stunningly good shows. The vibe of the weekend has been totally electric. It's hard to convey how impressive it has all been. You really had to be there.
We got our chance to take the stage and we felt good about how it went. Our friend Mr. Mo. dubbed our approach "rock and roll theater" and I think that fits. We played to a very responsive and attentive audience, pretty much a full house, which, considering our afternoon time slot, was quite impressive.
No matter how many people are there you must always give it your all. Still if the audience is with you it can propel you into another stratosphere. We were propelled into the higher reaches and it was totally exhilarating.
We will be back there later today ready to give back the love we felt after our show. The Abbie Fest is one of those completely unique worlds where love and creativity and laughter and drama fill you up! And it's good!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
We played the part of audience last night for the opening of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Your Sins Fest. It was a packed house and a rollicking good time.
We were inspired and humbled by all the great acting, and all the good vibes of the evening. The small space was absolutely electric.
It's so great to see actors of all ages getting up and giving it their all. Every year there is a profound energy of cooperation and mutual respect for the "good work."
There is something totally unique about live theater in a tiny space; about watching someone get up from the audience, getting on stage and just nailing it. No bullshit. Just bringing it. So vital, so refreshing, so inspiring.
The schedule is chock full of great shows today. Plus we get our chance to get up there too. Should be a trip!
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Fest (check out this Chicago Magazine piece for a primer) kicks off tonight at 7:00 p.m. And then it rolls along for the rest of the weekend. Lots of theater, and for sure some wild-ass acts. It's always a carnival of human ingenuity!
Black Forest will be doing it's thing on Saturday. We're almost ready! Still rehearsing our mad little adventure. It's a totally schizophrenic piece. It seems very of the moment. At least the moment as I'm experiencing it.
I wonder if any one else out there will track with it? We will see...
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Yesterday I ended up in a conversation with a major Dylanologist. It was so cool to meet a kindred soul.
Someone who has listened to the records, gone to the concerts, bought the DVDs, read the interviews and books.
We kind of inspired each other talking about the songs and albums that Dylan the man, Dylan the myth, has conjured for us. We talked about that voice, and the man's wild ass working methods.
The two of us talked the same language. It was like discovering that someone else could speak this cryptic, secret language that you thought didn't really exist, except in your own head.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I live in the Heartland, and I actually voted for Blago. I thought he was a dumb but honest guy. I got the dumb part right. So anyway, Blago has become this big joke. The Feds wire-tapped him and caught him on tape saying really ridiculous things. It's clear Blago really, really wanted to be corrupt. He wanted to be corrupt so badly.
But at the same time, his dumbness kind of overwhelmed his corruptness. Or his dumbness made all his hair-brained schemes go up in smoke. He talked a lot and it seems most people just ignored him.
Anyway he went on trial and his brilliant and clownish lawyer argued that his client was an idiot. And well, I guess his lawyer told the truth and some of the jury went along. And it looks like the idiot basically skated.
And I think our political system is such a corrupt, money sucking machine anyway, that being corrupt does not dis-qualify you from the job, no it actually qualifies you quite nicely. And most folks figure "everyone's doing it anyway." Some get caught. Most just skate.
And maybe there was some sympathy for the dumb guy. I mean he did end up losing his job. Which supposedly he hated anyway. So maybe everyone wins? Except the people who think their government is working for them. Those people might want a re-think!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I don't watch cable news. I think I'd rather drive nails through my head. Probably more enlightening too.
So I missed out on all the "outrage" about the "GROUND ZERO MOSQUE!"
Turns out it isn't really at Ground Zero, and it isn't really a Mosque... Still there's all that freaking, sputtering outrage...
Monday, August 16, 2010
You wonder if you are just mirroring the world around you. Or whether you are projecting your internal condition upon the world.
And how would you know for sure?
So when things seems to be spinning out of control, when it seems no one has a clue, when it appears that most people are living under false assumptions, or when you conclude that the people with any kind of power are deluded or malevolent, when it seems like human beings have kind of run out the string of this little planet and are in deep denial about the results of all their "needing, wanting and grasping," are you just a sensitive and observant human being seeing the world as it is, or are you a self-obsessed human being, seeing only your own reflection in everything around you?
Hard to know for sure, huh?
Sunday, August 15, 2010
We ran through our little performance piece, "The Dogstar Rages," a couple times yesterday. It's tightening up. We are working through the kinks.
End of the evening: tired, hot, wondering what it all adds up to...
It's kind of a jumble of ideas.
But I guess for me, it's about how we humans have kind of run out the string, we've pushed the environment to the brink, our existence teeters on a cliff.
And all we have is each other... and a glimmer of hope.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Someone asked me how our rehearsals for our piece The Dogstar Rages was going. I said, "kind of train-wrecky."
Which was sort of true, and sort of not. I mean, everything is going fine. We are learning our lines and our movements, refining and ironing out difficulties. Cutting some stuff that isn't quite working - rearranging other stuff. All the normal part of the process. No worries.
But in a way my reply got me thinking that I actually delight in creating "train-wrecks." That's really sort of the approach I have taken - putting a bunch of ideas and elements into a piece, a space, and then having them sort of collide and see what happens...
I am Creator of Train Wrecks!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Looking at the "big picture" is probably a "mug's game." The human thing is just such a weird job...
I guess if you go planetary, look at the universe as gases and rocks and energy, well then everything is fine.
If you go molecular, sub-atomic, it gets strange. There are odd forces beyond our control. But hell that's fine too.
So then you are left with your own human destiny. Some things seems to be in your control and lots of things don't. Maybe what we think we can control is illusory. Or maybe not.
Still there are some things I can choose: What will I have for lunch? Can I breathe through my left nostril? Will I write a new song today? Will I listen to the Dead Weather on my iPod? Can I make today a happy adventure?
Still you wonder if you are really choosing or has some invisible hand or some mystic force intervened?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A guy I know, (I'm not talking about myself in the 3rd person), is panicking. He's going through a major life crisis. He recently retired, he broke up with his girlfriend, his parents are long dead, his best friend lives in New Jersey, his brother lives in California and they haven't spoken in a long time.
This guy can't sleep, he lays down, closes his eyes, lays in bed for an hour or two, and then bolts out of bed feeling claustrophobic. He spends long nights on the lakefront, sitting on the beach, in the darkness. He spends his days on his bicycle. Riding up and down the lakefront, not really going anywhere.
He sees me once in awhile, as I'm navigating around the neighborhood. He comes to me and unburdens himself. Tells me about his crisis. I say things like "that's terrible," "it will pass," "you need to find a focus," "things will get better," "maybe you should try meditating," etc.
I don't think he really listens to me. Maybe he just likes to watch my lips move. Maybe he just wants to borrow my ear. He tells me he's actually thinking of "medicating," not "meditating." He mentions Xanax and Ambien. I don't say anything to that. I mean, hell, what do I know about medication? While he's talking, I flash on Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley... it all worked out for them I guess.
I guess I can understand the panic. Maybe it's warranted: Moscow is in flames, Pakistan is flooding, USA is in depression. We all are getting older, and every one of us will die. The planet is being consumed by a ravenous human horde...
Still the PANIC THING seems so cliche. I think I'll go to a quiet space and meditate on what I'm gonna have for dinner...
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
We don't really know ourselves or the world. But we surmise, based upon our experiences - we do this whether our experiences are relevant or not.
I mean what happens to us may just happen, and maybe what happens has nothing to do with us and our world.
Then again, maybe experience is all we have and all we are, and adds up to what we call "world."
So then we have our insecurities, and then we surmise that the world is some elaborate Rube-Goldberg-like-construction of insecurities (our's and other's) piled on top of each other.
And maybe you can't really run from, or deny, your insecurities. And maybe your insecurities are insecurities for a good reason.
So really then you must find some sort of security in your castle of insecurities...
And that's what we call a "happy existence!"
Monday, August 09, 2010
You must beware the "subtle dick-wad," the smiling "friend," who has perfected the silent kill; the one who wields the polite, cutting comments meant to destroy you.
This is the one who is most dangerous to your well-being. The one who comes on all hale and hearty and oh so friendly.
You won't figure them out, you can't explain why they want to destroy you. There's just something about you that feeds their desire. Your every success cuts them to the quick.
You can't show any weakness or hurt. You must protect yourself...
It's a lesson and a laugh! You need "sharper knives...!"
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Every time I work on a theatrical-type piece I start seeing connections everywhere. Maybe there's something about concentrating really intensely on one thing, that then expands out into the larger world?
I'm always mixing philosophical musings with Pop Cultural clap-track and seeing what happens.
It's a strange modus operandi, but one that comes naturally to me. This time around my collaborator, The Lovely Carla, is bringing not only her incredible stage presence, but she's bringing a monologue and a "prayer" that will be a big part of the whole thing.
So her offerings go into the Waring Blender of creation too. Add in my latest obsession with Iggy Pop and the music of Queen, along with a smidgen of Beckett-esque dialogue, and top of the head, stream of consciousness rants and you have 25 mins of Black Forest.
So now, I'm in the mode of everywhere I look, there's Iggy, there's Queen, and lines from the piece seem to resonate everywhere I walk. Strange.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Sipping coffee this morning and listening to David Bowie's "Heathen." It is quite good. I recently bought it at my local 2nd Hand Tunes. $2.99 for a used cd. What a steal!
I mean, I know I'm a little behind the curve, hell this was released in 2002, but I finally caught up. Bowie has been around so long, he's done so much good work, it's easy to take him for granted.
This is certainly one of Bowie's best discs. He doesn't need any endorsement from me but I'm always amazed by his great voice, his ever-evolving creativity and his superb sound. On "Heathen" he teams up with one of his great collaborators, Tony Visconti.
These guys know their stuff!
Friday, August 06, 2010
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Monday, August 02, 2010
Our new theater piece, which we will debut at the Abbie Fest in a few weeks, is called "The Dog Star Rages." What is it about? It's about 20 mins.
It's very much of the moment. In fact, my method was to write off the top of my head, with little or no re-writes - to try to capture a very stream-of-conscious, hyper-spontaneous, eruption of the now.
It's scattershot and schizophrenic - which I think kind of reflects the world (or maybe it's just me?!?) at the moment. Yesterday we blasted through lines: cracked ourselves up and cleansed our brains repeating odd, fractured, and silly lines.
I think it's gonna be something!
Sunday, August 01, 2010
I love being able to strap my acoustic guitar to my back, getting on a train with the Lovely Carla and navigating the street-scape to a show. The Elbo Room is all glittery neon; lots of loud, throbbing music greets you at the front door.
We were the musical act in the Upstairs Lounge last night. They've kind of re-arranged things, and now there's actually a little stage - two mics, a plug-in for my acoustic guitar. A classic "low schlepp" gig.
Attendance was sparse. A couple tables of strangers. Which is something we actually hoped for - trying to expand the circle. We gave it our all - we sounded pretty good. We had a few glitches, mainly because I broke two strings. Not sure what's up, either I'm just hitting harder, or maybe the humidity is a factor. I'm thinking of going to heavier gauge strings.
Plus the bands playing downstairs were really loud. Lots of sound bleeding into our intimate space. Made it hard to do the quieter stuff. Still we gave it our best and felt good about our performance. Play anytime, any place - and rock. That's the drill!
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