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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

River of Black Snakes

I usually don't try to puzzle out my dreams. They are usually so strange and surreal, no good through-line. Usually plot-less. They are like really bad art films. Abstract, fractured. Very French.

UN-HOLLYWOOD.

Often times I wake up scratching my head. WTF? "Who made this pretentious piece of shit?"

Last night it was all pretty clear. More like a Monte Hellman kind of thing. I was on a river, the river was a highway, I was leading a caravan of people - swimming ahead of the pack, I was the scout. And there were BLACK SNAKES everywhere. I was evading them, wrestling with them, trying to clear the way.

The river was filled with BLACK SNAKES and it was my job to clear them!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seeing...

Sometimes I see the world as it is, or at least as I perceive it...

Sometimes I see the world as it is, or at least as I perceive it, and I see it as something else too...

Sometimes I see the world only as something else...

Sometimes I don't see the world at all...

Sometimes...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Adventures in Ass-Mar!

I suffer from the malady Piggy in the "Lord of the Flies" called "ass-mar." It's something I've carried with me from an early age. I have the ability to breathe the world in, but sometimes I can not breathe it back out.

This leaves me gasping for air, gasping for life.

Little furry pussy cats can be quite toxic to my system, sending me into a tailspin. Also cold air can turn me into a fish flopping around on the ground mouth agape. Usually "Ass-Mar" comes to me like an annoying old friend, nudging me, tapping me on the shoulder, demanding payment for sins now long forgotten, or maybe never committed.

But sometimes he comes to me as the Angel of Death. Someone recently reminded me, "You could die," from an attack. I've had a few bad ones in my time. The most memorable when I was 15 or 16 years old. I collapsed into a snowbank, gasping for life. My little brother picked me up and carried me home. If it wasn't for him, I guess, I wouldn't be here typing these words now.

Yesterday was a bright, cold day. About a 1/3 of the way into my run I had to stop. The cold air was trapped deep in my lungs. I was drowning. My head spinning from lack of oxygen. Little black stars were swirling around in my head.

It's kind of funny. One minute feeling bright and shiny and the next the Black Angel of Death is sitting on my chest. Suffocation! I walked home gingerly, like a damaged toy on delicate cat feet. Made it back to our toasty apartment, took a gasping hit from my trusty inhaler and my lungs opened up like a golden flower.

The Black Cloud lifted. The Angel disappeared. The rest of the day I was reeling. Even a tiny glimpse of your demise can put a new glow around everything you do...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pie Country

Yes, well, most of the year I stuck to a vegetarian diet. Keeping fit. But yesterday, (who am I to buck tradition?), with sharpened knife, I took on a turkey. The turkey lost, I won.

But the real carnage came during dessert. There was that poor, very delectable apple/cranberry pie sitting on the counter just smirking at me. I decimated that sucker.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

THE GAMES

As they say, life is not a "zero sum game." But of course, we actually play many games in a life. There's the main game - Life. Then there's all those little games: Family, Religion, Power, Military, Government, Money, Job, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, Art.

Some games are fun, and some are a freaking chore. You can also play a fun game and make it a chore, or play a chore game and make it a freaking blast. You can choose the games you play, although sometimes games are thrust upon you by friends, enemies and FAMILY!

And some games are a "zero sum game." Some games are rigged. Take the Government & Power & Money games. It seems there are those who make the rules and there are those who play by those rules. It turns out the RULE-MAKERS play the game really well. Funny how the rules favor the RULE-MAKERS. And the RULE-MAKERS are always blathering on about how everyone needs to play by the rules.

And then there are the chumps, the marks, the commoners, the simple people who play those games by the rules. They think it's all a legitimate game and if they play well, hell, it's party time! Turns out that's pretty much a freaking myth. Here in America they call it the American Dream! They call it a dream for a reason!

Now of course, if you are playing the game of Life, these little games are important, but they aren't the main game. The main game is about LOVE, and HAPPINESS and HAVINGNESS. And LAUGHTER, and FORGETTING AND REMEMBERING. And the main game isn't zero sum.

So we can play lots of games, some we win, some we lose, some we refuse to play. And still finally we are left with LIFE. It's the best one and we MUST PLAY - that's why we are here!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Devil Spawn of Scarface

The God-fearing Western Capitalists were so afraid of that turbaned, bearded dude lurking in a cave in the mountains of Pakistan, they didn't notice that the BANKSTERS were living it up like Al Pacino in Scarface.

It turns out the death of Western Capitalism was brought by the Western Capitalists themselves.

And most of the politicians and the huddling masses still don't know that the game is up. So governments are shoveling mountains of bucks to the Banksters, hoping they will do the right thing. And of course the Banksters think the right thing is for them to continue living like the Devil Spawn of Scarface.

And we are all in thrall to their wealth. We bow down to it. We are such Piss-Ant Peasants. This experiment in Capital has failed miserably. When will we wake up?!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Problem-Solving!

Another looming problem: Healthcare in America. Seems the population is aging. More old-timers will need more and more operations, medications and long-term hospital care.

I think there's a simple solution.

You feel like you are getting older? That your bones are disintegrating? Your joints are sore? You can't remember things like you used to? You are tired? You are depressed a lot? Your body is completely falling apart? You are afraid your arteries are clogged and your heart is pumping out of control and you ain't gonna live forever?

Forget the tests, forget the meds, forget the long-term hospitalizations!

"BABY, GET USED TO IT!" Problem solved - Next!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Asian Carp Standard!

So I'm reading Ian Frazier's masterful write up on Asian Carp this morning while drinking massive amounts of coffee. At the same time, I've got the radio on, it's NPR blaring about the Debt and the Deficit.

I'm in problem-solving mode.

So I figure since we now have way more Asian Carp than we can stand, and way less dollars than we need, we will reformulate our economy to the Asian Carp standard. Let's establish a Federal Reserve of Asian Carp. Let's pay down the debt in Carp. They are silly, ugly fish and we are a silly, ugly country (at least some of the time).

Our paper currency will now be backed by Asian Carp. We are back to being wealthy and healthy and a little oily and fishy too! "Problem Solved! Next!"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Epic Fail

Epic fail. The Telepaths played a show for Zombies last night. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. I broke a string during the first song of the set. I did not have a spare. My guitar kept going out of tune. I improvised with five strings, but it was not a happy experiment. The sound was bad. Our lead singer blew out his voice. I blew out my voice. Our bass player stepped on his cable and went silent for a brief time. Our drummer was having problems keeping time. It was a full moon. The booze flowed. It was a long night. Very unsatisfying. Afterwards a few of the patrons told me I sounded like Stevie Ray Vaughan and complimented me on a "rocking set."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Recording Session #2

Back to the big-time recording studio yesterday. Pretty intense. We worked on vocals. Very intimate. The Lovely Carla did about 4 1/2 hours of singing. We are in such good hands with a very experienced recording engineer. He's kind of a wizard. A guy who used to record to tape. He said in the old days he'd be on the studio floor splicing tape. Now it's all digital. Sound is even more malleable.

It became clear we are now in collaboration with the sound engineer. We want to keep it all live and organic. Trying to capture the poetry of the songs. He's got an amazing ear, and basically the soul of a poet. We lucked out.

Lots of work left to do. Step by step.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Deed

And of course, once the knife is squarely embedded in the back, once the deed is done, "I'm sorry," just doesn't cut it...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"All My Friends are Going to Be Canines"

I have a soft spot in my heart for Larry McMurtry's "All My Friends are Going to Be Strangers." One of the all-time great literary titles. Plus the novel itself is quite funny and kind of existential in a distinctly American way. I remember reading it when I was hitch-hiking across America back in the late 70's.

For some reason that title was swimming through my consciousness yesterday as I walked the streets. Maybe it has something to do with betrayal and friendship and my naive propensity to trust that people will usually do the right thing. I guess, sometimes they think the right thing to do is embed a knife squarely in your back.

So I think my version of the title would be: "All My Friends are Going to Be Canines." I mean with the canine class you get what you get. Fur and paws instead of the grubby hands of all that needing, wanting, grasping...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Running Lives

And then there are all those wonderful people who just want to run your life for you. It's not that they are doing such a good job of running their own. No, in fact, they are expert at making a wreck of their own lives. But somehow, they think it's time they took a shot at running yours, even if it's into the ground. Good intentions and all that...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amazing Power

As long as we are alive, self-invention and self-renewal are still possible. Possible every day, probably every moment of every day. This is a source of both hope and responsibility.

If you aren't happy with your circumstances, you can change your circumstances, or at least change the way you think and act within those circumstances. Which is an amazing power that we have, although it may feel like a certain powerlessness.

We don't have to be the person we were yesterday. We don't have to be anything anyone else thinks we should be. We can accept new ideas, new feelings, new experiences as they come to us and interpret them in a new way. This newness might actually be a simple shift in perception.

Doesn't seem like a big thing. But it's planet-cracking, world-changing. Mind-blowing. Just the kind of experiences we should have each and every day...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Backbone

The other thing I love about Keef's book is his discussion of his musical obsessions and influences. Keith studied the blues of Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, as if it they were the Priests of the Holy Grail. He happily acknowledges he learned, mastered and made his own, every guitar riff Chuck Berry ever devised.

We also meet some of the unsung heroes of the Stones saga: Ian Stewart, Bobby Keys and Jimmy Miller. I have always thought that Jimmy Miller was one of the great rock & roll producers. It seems George Martin always got the greatest accolades for his work with the Beatles, but Jimmy Miller's string of albums with the Stones is totally mind-blowing, I mean these are all arguably in the top ten or twenty best rock albums of all time: Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goat Heads Soup.

As Keith says they are the "backbone" of their work. I still listen to these records today, oh these many years later. And not as some nostalgia trip. They just happen to be some of the best r&r recordings in existence. They stand up today. You can put one of those discs on right now and they kill! And even if it's hard to define what Miller actually brought to the table, the "groove" the "feel", the "vibe," whatever, (maybe he was smart enough to get out of the way?!), the results are undeniable.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Keef's Book


After reading Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf, I jumped into an autobiography from our very own, real live Steppenwolf Keith Richards. I'm in the middle of his book
Life right now.

It is certainly one of the best books on rock I have ever read. I'd put it up there with the finest stuff including Peter Guralnick's Elvis Books and Nick Tosches' "Hellfire" about Jerry Lee Lewis.

I mean, I think it's actually masterful. Keith wrote the thing with James Fox, a novelist and friend, and together they have created a superb book. Amazingly Keith remembers a lot, and his life time memories encompass a fascinating chunk of our world.

Keith's voice comes through in spades. He's funny and humble. He's a combination of Long John Silver, Captain Kidd, the Vampire Lestat, Monkey Man, Rock & Roll Junkie, Riff Master, and Lord Byron with a Telecaster.

And the times of his life include everything from his birth during World War II (1943) to now. An amazing slice of time. He was at the center of a hurricane of a rock and roll journey. He is a very cool character. One of the great characters of our time. And now a great character in literature too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Know Your Enemy!

I have found that having a NEMESIS is a useful thing. You now have someone to define yourself against.

As in, "I am this, not that." And as Billie Joe Armstrong tells us, "Know Your Enemy."

"Silence is the enemy
Against your urgency
So rally up the demons of your soul"

Still it's a surprise when you find your Nemesis can multiply! And well thinking of Lombardi this just makes you tougher, it just doubles the pleasure!

And it's an instructive lesson: the best, most useful Nemesis you can find is probably right now called "Friend!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Days

And some days it seems like you have rocks in your pockets. And shackles on your feet...

And some days its seems like your engine is turbo-charged. And you have wings on your feet...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Trap for Fools

Just like Hunter S. Thompson, I have found it necessary to befriend a lawyer. It may seem like a drastic step, and really, at the time that I first hired him, it was a drastic step.

But it turns out that my lawyer is absolutely the perfect lawyer for me. He has come in handy in a couple of cases, lately he helped us buy some more time at our storefront space so that we could do our Lennon Bash.

Also he's on the case of a much bigger case, we've been in the trenches together locked in battle with some real bad actors. So anyway, last night we were on the phone strategizing, and making jokes.

It helps to have a lawyer with a sense of humor. But I know this is the lawyer for me when he starts quoting Rudyard Kipling:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Calculus of Energy

I think a well-lived life means tossing yourself head over heels into whatever you are doing at any particular moment. To seek out those all-consuming situations and just giving it all up.

You might end up with some bumps and bruises, hell you might get cut to the bone, still if you're in the game, it's probably best to play it to the hilt.

And the mystery of it all - Energy makes Energy!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Recording Session #1

Up early, sipping coffee, listening to the rough mixes of our recording session yesterday. It was an amazingly intense experience. 4 1/2 hours of very focused work.

We've lived with these songs over the last year. So walking in the door we knew we were damn tight as a band. And we lucked out to meet an absolutely extraordinary sound engineer. He had everything set up, microphones everywhere to capture the live sound.

The goal for this session was to capture the bass, guitar and drums working together as a unit. I wanted it to sound to live, warm and organic. Even in it's rough form I think we were successful.

And the Lovely Carla sang live with us in another room. We could hear her and see her through a little window. She was doing what's called a "scratch vocal," although she gave it her all in the moment, some of the best singing she's ever done. And it sounds extraordinary to my ears.

There were smiles all around. Lots of work left to do - overdubs, additional instruments, vocals, backup vocals, etc. But this was an incredible experience and we are getting closer to "that sound!"

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Big-time Studio!

Well, well, well. This is going to be a totally new experience. Our band, WhiteWolfSonicPrincess is going into a big-time Chicago recording studio today. It's the full band, bass, guitar, drums, with the Lovely Carla on vocals.

The studio is in a big old house. The 2nd floor is a state of the art facility. We loaded-in last night and did a little sound-check. We have an ambitious list of songs which we're going to track. We will blast through our set a couple times and see what we get.

I'm really excited to finally get our bass and drum combo tracked in all their glory.

We've done some home recording, and we've done some live and rehearsal recordings but this is the real deal. Our recording engineer is a pro, he's also an amazing guitarist. He's heard us a few times over the last year.

It seems like a marriage made in heaven. We will see. Hope to capture that "lightening in a bottle!"

Friday, November 05, 2010

Life Time Themes...

1. As a writer, I have come to realize that I usually have the last word. At least in my own realm. This has been a feature and a bug in the fabric of my existence since the early days.

2. Fight the Power. Always. And always pick your fights with those with more power than you. Otherwise you are just a bully. Which means most of my fights have been with bigger, more established people and entities. Which means my win/loss record is not exactly peachy-keen-sterling.

3. But then as per #1 one I do usually get in the last word. For what that's worth. I get to feel just a little bit better as I lick my wounds.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

When will the Banksters think Gangsters and Wall Street Kleptocrats be held accountable for Crimes Against America?

This is the message pasted in the window of our now sadly abandoned storefront space. The Lovely Carla took the photo. You are seeing the reflection of the building across the street.

Just in case it's not clear, it reads...

" When will the Banksters, think Gangsters and Wall Street Kleptocrats be held accountable for Crimes Against America?"

I suppose that's what you'd call a rhetorical question. The author? A-non-y-Mouse! The ghost of John Lennon hovers...

Merit Bank of Ohio, you probably think this song is about you. Don't you?

We Are Steppenwolf

I continued with my Hermann Hesse quest. I just finished "Steppenwolf" maybe his most famous and controversial work.

You can see why it was so influential in the 60's culture of Amerika. Sex and drugs and r&r (actually jazz).

Hesse himself thinks the novel was pretty much mis-understood. He's so good at depicting the "despair" of the modern world. Maybe not so convincing on the way out of that despair.

It's a hallucinatory trip! A hall of mirrors. Again it's a "spiritual" novel about the "essential work" of trying to dismantle a personality, a personality that is defined by the family, the church, the state.

It's "not for everyone," maybe for "madmen only." The work inspired the Magic Theater in 60's California, the rock band led by John Kay, and of course Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

And what is the way out? Humor! Chop that EGO down to size! Don't take yourself so seriously. Live. I loved the novel. It totally resonated with me. It's CLAIRVOYANT! One of the great works of our time. Sometimes we have to take a step back to take a step forward. Steppen - Wolf!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Smoke Clears - My Spin

As a long-time Political Junkie, I must say, the junk just doesn't have the same kick it used to. Maybe that's inevitable for someone who came of political age in the Dark Prince Nixon years.

My spin...

1. The smoke clears and Obama is still President. It wasn't a referendum on Obama, he wasn't on the ballot. I mean, some folks might think he's a socialist, a commie, a pinko, a Chicago agitator. Ha! Ha! He's Mr. President to me!

2. Lots of conservative Democrats were replaced by even more conservative Republicans. No great loss.

3. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, probably the most decent person in the Senate, needs a job. Obama better appoint him to something cool! Soon!

4. Government is not a business. It's not supposed to be about profits - this whole "fiscal discipline" thing is a bunch of hooey! The Fed can print up money. The whole business ideology/analogy is a bunch of shit. Basically all those conservatives who think government should be run like a business need to get their heads out of their asses.

5. The country is still totally screwed up. I don't think it's just the fault of government - although many if not most of our politicians are toadies to big business. We are ruled by an oligarchy of rich folks - corrupt banksters and Wall Street Kleptocrats. Not one of them were kicked out of office. The problems of this golden land run very, very deep.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Video of Radio Man

Here's a video my brother made of an early version of "Radio Man." We recorded the song at the now defunct Golden Roach Studio. That's the Lovely Carla on vocals, Sunny Jimmy on guitar and my brother on harmonica. There's also a little studio trickery to kind of sweeten the whole thing.

The video itself is all my brother's doing. Nice work Dude!


Monday, November 01, 2010

Gnarly!

Being human is such a gnarly exercise. To be fully human you must delve deeply into your own gnarly-ness.

You must own it.

You won't be rewarded with anything except even more gnarly-ness, but hey, no one promised you a rose garden!

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