WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Monday, February 28, 2011

No Biz Like Show Biz

Watched the Oscars last night. What happened to show business? Is it just a hollow Ponzi Scheme? Just like banking, government and corporate life?

It was a night of small talk. "How did it feel when you..." (blah, blah, blah). Lots of plastic smiles and strained laughter.

Maybe everyone knows the game is up and they're just hoping that no one else has wised up yet?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Nowness of Now

I'm brewing coffee, listening to the radio. The world seems topsy turvy. Lots of blood and protest. World is turning and burning and churning.

I hear a wise man speaking in my head. Of all the voices I've heard on my crooked path of life, of all the wise ones who have leached into my consciousness, of all those competing voices, whose voice resonates through my cranium?

It's Wayne Coyne's voice.


"All we have is now. All we ever had is now."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Qaddafi the Swamp Thing!

What is it about isolation; too much power, time and money? What happens to the human brain? Think Howard Hughes, Kim Jong Il, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Idi Amin...

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely...

So yes, it's nice to see the Dictators toppling like dominoes. These guys have kept too many people under too many thumbs. I hope the streak continues.

The latest episode of topple the dictator is quite bloody. Libya: The Swamp of Blood. And this Qaddafi dude is totally mad. Like freaking loony over the moon mad.

This is priceless...

"Qaddafi gave another speech this morning, reiterating his belief that the protesters are all youths driven out of their minds by “hallucinogenic drugs,” and sobbing over the “children of Libya” who litter the streets because he ordered his forces to murder them. In a new twist, he identified the Dr. Feelgood who has been supplying Libya’s children with hallucinogenic drugs as none other than the nefarious Obama bin Laden."

I think Qaddafi missed his calling. He should have been a Hollywood script-writer!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar Buzz

Yeah, whatever. It's not really a contest is it? It would be one thing if everyone was making the same movie, and playing the same roles, I guess then you could have arguments about which performance/film was "the best" of the year. Still, even that's quite lame.

So I don't really care who wins. Lots of really, really great movies over the years were never even in the running right? You could compile an awesome list of films never considered for any damn award.

And everything but everything is a freaking contest now. So annoying...

So, no I didn't see all the nominated pictures, but I did see a few. Loved the Black Swan, and loved True Grit. Two very well-realized movies.

But I think the one that really catches the vibe of the times is The Social Network. An amazing piece of work. If it was fiction, you'd say totally implausible, unreal characters, couldn't happen. Of course, it's based on a non-fiction book and the characters and events actually freaking happened.

It's kind of the Citizen Kane of our time. It isn't a pretty story. It really shows the madness of our post-industrial, consumer-crazed, entertainment-all-the-time, socially networked paradise. It turns out it really does take a village to raise a Billionaire. And our billionaires are just needy nerds, pretty despicable, pathologically anti-social, and slightly teeth-grittingly, annoyingly, somewhat admirable too. That's if taking an idea and running with it to the back-stabbing, where are the bodies buried, bitter end is admirable. I mean, it worked for Zuckerberg, Mao Tse Tung, Osama Bin Laden and John Lennon, to name a few!

If there is a future, people of the future will watch this movie and be amazed, amused, and horrified that we lived in these times.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Days...

It's the "everydayness" of everydayness that can get kind of wearing. But you must remember that these are the days. The "everydayness" of the days is really an illusion. You don't get the days back.

So you must seize them and plunge into them, and experience each one as if they are new and unlike another. Even if they sort of blend or blur into each other. Maybe we try to make our lives a routine, but life isn't a routine.

You can't step into the same river twice. You can't step into the same day twice. It's always a one-shot deal...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Musical Lessons

And what lessons have I learned in my many musical excursions?

1. Every note counts.
2. Listen.
3. Small changes can have big effects.
4. Less is more. More is more. But less is more more.
5. Precision.
6. Rhythm.
7. Muscle Memory.
8. Work it until you can forget it. Then you can fly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Hard Day's Night

Working on music a lot lately. Along with working on our own music, (I write songs of my own, as well as write songs with two very strong song writing collaborators), I've been practicing singing and playing Beatles tunes. Which is it's own unique challenge and kick. Of course, these songs are some of the best pop tunes in the canon.

I've been working my way through this amazing book, The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook. It was originally published in 2000, it is a really great resource. My resident Beatles expert, Mr. Mo. confirms that it is very, very accurate. You will uncover all kinds of interesting musical insights. Just what was that ringing chord George Harrison played at the beginning of "A Hard Day's Night"?!

Anyway, working with this book is like going to music school. I think it's one of the best ways to learn how a good pop song works. You have three very distinct voices - McCartney, Lennon, Harrison. And it's great to watch how their musical know-how develops over the course of their Beatles careers.

And of course their singing voices, their melodies, their harmonies are just absolutely exquisite. Trying to do a decent version of "Yesterday," or "Let It Be," or "Don't Let Me Down," or "Strawberry Fields," or "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is humbling and exciting too. It's also instructive to find out what your fingers and voice can and cannot do.

And then again, sometimes sitting on the floor of my kitchen working on one of these songs, my guitar and my voice brings one of them to life. And the energy of these amazing songs and song writers kind of courses through me. And that is amazing!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chalk it up to a Full Moon!

It was a confusing, rocked out weekend. The energy was mixed up confusion. We will chalk it up to the full moon.

There were cat fights, hair-balls, weird chest pains, cold feet, runny noses. A pack of teenagers (young vampires) strolling down the avenue - somehow I was invisible to them. Maybe they just saw my moon-shadow!

We played music too. Old songs, new songs. There was feedback and sweet tones too. There was trouble and paradise all rolled into one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Clowns of the Right!

Donald Trump thinking of running in the Republican Presidential primaries? So funny. Ha ha. Ridiculous. I guess it would be good for David Letterman. He loves to make jokes about that stuff on Trump's head.

What's funny is it just shows how stupid and clueless and pointless the Republicans are now. They are the Clown Party! All their leading lights are Pernicious Clowns. Which makes for entertainment, I guess, but really not so entertaining.

It's probably bad for Democracy too. America has become the entertainment capital of the world. Good at show biz, but then the essential stuff of running a country kind of gets hustled off to the side.

Obama wants to have a dialogue with his friends and opponents, but his opponents can't see past the big rubber noses on their heads. Clowns. Clowns to the right. Stuck in the middle...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Workers Unite!

This thing in Wisconsin just seems to be a total war on the Union movement. Kevin Drum lays it out pretty clearly.

I was totally inspired by the protests in Egypt, the Wisconsin protests not so much, but really it is an important issue and closer to home.

The Union movement has faded here in U.S. but it's not for the good, we became a great country, a place where the middle class could thrive when the Unions were strong!

U.S. workers and the middle class, needs a strong Union movement. We need a renaissance of the Union movement. Workers of the world unite!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Strengths

And just how do you endure the slings and arrows? With smiles and kind words. And if are wounded, you repair your wounds silently, in private.

Humility and kindness. They really are strengths.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Glimpse

We experienced a little thaw yesterday. The sun peeked out. We were able to shed a couple sweaters, the floppy hat, the gloves.

The ice and snow melted into little puddles.

It's been very wintry the last few months. This was a hint of Spring. Of course, it's only February, so it could all turn again.

But the milder temps just showed us a glimmer of warmth and renewal. The little birdies were chirping in the trees. The sun seemed to have a renewed presence. Everything seemed lighter.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Academy of Change!

Yes, well, I was totally entranced by the Egyptian protests. And then totally enthralled by this story in the NY Times about the organizers.

Yes, they shook the history of the Arab world, but I'd say they rocked our world too. And it turns out there was a sophisticated and coordinated effort from people across the planet that contributed to the effort - Serbs, Tunisians and Eygyptians.

And they drew upon ideas from Gandhi, MLK, and a guy named Gene Sharp the "Machiavelli of nonviolence" and the "Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare."

And it is so exciting to hear that there is an organization in Qatar called The Academy of Change.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Personal Over-throw

And then you are back to your own life. There are dictators and bogeymen you'd like to over-throw too. And you want to seize the day by the throat and make it sing an inspiring tune. And you'd like to make yourself new. Shake out the old thoughts and replace them with the new. And create work that will fill you up and carry you to new places...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egyptian Tea

Sipping Egyptian licorice tea this morning. Of course, I already had massive quantities of coffee. Still basking in the glow of the stunning event in Egypt.

I think it is like an earthquake of secret and massive proportions. With reverberations for all people on the planet.

There will be those who don't see it. Those who are in denial. And of course no one is sure what the lasting effects will be. But this is huge. No matter what.

We are seeing the world break. And it will not be the same. I am an optimist. So I think it will be a positive event. But of course there are unintended consequences. And major tumult is to be expected... I have my hopes, but I wonder how it all turns out?!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt - What Next?!

No one knows. Hopefully the Military plays it cool. The amazing, peaceful, display of People Power was/is so inspiring. I hope for the best for the Egyptians. The protesters were hopeful, optimistic, peaceful, persistent and brave.

What a great lesson for the World. Even here in America where so many of our people are cynical, sarcastic, apathetic - we can take heart from the Egyptians. Who could imagine 17 days of protest could bring a Police State to it's knees, could actually succeed in getting the Strongman to step down?

And the message was yes, we are all the same, we all wish to live happy, fulfilling lives. And yes together we can make a better future! Don't we all deserve it?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt

The story is still unfolding...

My heart and head are with the protesters in the streets. There is something so amazing and powerful about "passive resistance," and "peaceful demonstrations." It's remarkable this is happening in the streets of Egypt.

Can passive resistance topple a regime, can it carry the day? Can the voices of people be heard? You wonder and hope that peaceful change can occur in the face of entrenched power, and guns, and bullets, and tanks.

Social justice! If it works it would be an amazing lesson for the world...

UPDATE: Wow. The (U. S. backed) Dictator steps down (after 30 years of rule). Joy in the streets. One of the most stunning events I've experienced (vicariously) in my lifetime...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Honest Job

Yeah, well, I was thinking about work. Honest work. An honest buck. I've had a few jobs where I really earned an honest buck for honest labor. Turns out honest work is not all that well-paid. I mean, you do a job and make a buck and you really earn it.

There are lots of jobs like that, hard-earned dollars for a hard day's work.

Then I think about other jobs I've had in the "corporate" realm. Most of those jobs were well paid, nice benefits, lots of "free lunches" and expense accounts. Cushy. I made lots of money, and really sometimes it wasn't hard at all.

And the companies weren't really all they were cracked up to be. Software not quite ready for prime time, hardware not really up to spec. And management that was corrupt, small-minded, greedy and well, basically stupid. Good money, lousy job. Bad conscience.

I think lots of our economy is built on the second type of job. Whole industries are little more than scams: Insurance, Financial Services, Software companies (Bug in the code?! Wait for the next revision!). Folks just have to kind of bury the guilt. Deep down they must know that what they are doing is an abomination.

An honest job can be exhausting. But at the end of the day - clear mind, open heart!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Story Full of Holes

Sometimes you feel like you are part of a story with billions of authors. And they all have ideas of their own which they insert into the text. Some of these ideas seem complimentary, and some contradictory.

And then time goes by, and the story seems to take shape. And then other stuff happens that seems to come totally out of left field. This blows holes in the story, but then the authors scramble to fill the hole. And then we all pretend that there is a coherent story after all.

But the story is big, so big, that even coherence is transcended or maybe just besides the point. So there are big parts of our story that we all pretend don't exist. Kind of like the black holes or anti-matter particles out there.

And some of us can get our heads around black holes, but then there are some holes of unknowing we sink into without explanation. These holes in the narrative are vast and important, but we ignore them for the sake of the continuing saga we tell ourselves...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Good Work

There's that transcendent moment of inspiration, (where does it come from?), and then there's the hard slog. Somehow the transcendent part must carry you through the slog part.

Put another way, there are those incredible moments of unexplained magic, which come unbidden, which overtake you, with no effort, no work; and then there's the wading through the mud part, where discipline and persistence carry you through.

Maybe you hope for the first part, without the second part, but it doesn't seem to work that way. Those transcendent moments usually do not come like a string of pearls.

And you can make the slog part less sloggy, maybe kind of make it a game. That's what some of us call the "good work."

Monday, February 07, 2011

Super Antidote

We decided to go all "counter-cultural" yesterday. First I barricaded myself in the house and played guitar and listened to music most of the day. Then we had a lovely pasta dinner. THEN, instead of tuning into the Super Bowl, we watched a Jean Luc Godard movie, "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her."

I mean, would Lombardi's ghost approve? Watching a French film instead of the super duper doings of all those steroidal freaks? Plus we decided to not do what everyone else was doing - and picked a film that really, really runs counter to the present culture.

Godard is a hard case. Of course, he's a master of a universe no one else even inhabits. His film plays with all the elements of a standard movie, and kind of blows up and subverts them. I guess I'd say this one is really a film essay on Capitalism, American Imperialism, Consumer culture, the commodification of human beings, fashion, sex and the hollowness of the modern world.

Made in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam war. The movie looks beautiful. The actors are charismatic. The off-screen narration pummels you with questions. Everything is up for grabs. It's amazing how few movies really push the envelope, this movie tears it up.

Loved it. I laughed and laughed and laughed. A very smart, funny movie. The perfect antidote to Super Bowl Sunday!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim Carroll

And then again, I find it is the private obsessions which drive me, occupy me, keep me engaged and entertained. Being snow-bound is a great test of your own powers of discipline, and of keeping the creative spark alive.

I've lately been obsessed reading
Patti Smith's book "Just Kids." A great book about two young artists finding their way. Funny, one of our friends brought it over, saying that the book reminded them of the Lovely Carla and I. I mean, in so many ways Patti and Robert's story has little to do with us, but in at least one significant way there is a great affinity - the great creative conspiracy of two souls committed to art, and to supporting and inspiring each other.

Patti draws a great portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe and her own story - the tale of the tough little sparrow, making her way in the rough, debauched streets of N. Y. and emerging as the Rock and Roll Poet, is extraordinary.

The other book that totally captivated me recently was
Jim Carroll's "Forced Entries." I picked it up at a used book store for $3.00. It sat on the table unread for awhile. I started reading it after the Patti book. It had me laughing so hard. What a great voice, what an indelible character. Carroll is a modern St. Augustine, experiencing all the glorious sins of a totally debauched N. Y. existence.

What's funny: the first entry in the Carroll book had portraits of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Strange convergence. That's the kind of thing that totally stokes my private obsessions. I realize I'm on some great journey where I just don't know what might be around the next corner. There is some creative thread, a journey of discovery, coursing through my life. I like that!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

Graceful Exit?!

You think, well maybe in this case, the guy will do the right thing. Just make a graceful exit. Wish everyone the best, and move on with dignity.

Then you think, well, that's not how it usually goes. Usually the guy goes kicking and screaming. Clinging to their last tattered shred of dignity like a dog protecting a bone.

Or he brings down the Iron Fist and crushes those calling for peace and calm.

When it comes to power and status, people don't like to step down lightly. And instead of doing "the right thing," they end up doing what ever they can get away with.

It's not a pretty picture of the human kind.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Snowstorm!

Yeah, over in this part of the land, snow, lots of snow. The white stuff is just another obstacle to try to overcome, to get around. Another challenge.

Yesterday was the aftermath of a huge snowstorm blowing through; the first time I ever saw snow and thunder and lightening. The wind blowing through the trees with amazing force created this almost mechanical moaning sound. Pretty impressive.

People were digging out yesterday. Everything was shut down, except for my favorite coffee shop which did box office business. There was a festive atmosphere, adults and kids, shovels, sleds, skis.

We kept warm and toasty and watched movies - movies with lots of green and sunshine. Escape!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New Picture

Looking around the world, you realize that not everyone wants to be like us. Maybe not even us. Anymore.

Remember when we thought of America as that Shining Mansion on the Hill? Well there's a dark fog enveloping us, and the mansion is in foreclosure, and the hill is crumbling, and a mudslide is looming.

Maybe we need a new picture?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Status Quo

A hole is blown in the middle of the "status quo." And that nice little orderly status quo starts teetering. What some once called stability is really just a rickety old shack ready to crumble.

And it's instructive to see that sometimes "world powers" are powerless; reduced to watching events unfold, without any real influence. Or then again, their influence can actually work against them.

And all those years of supporting the status quo which was basically a dictatorship (and this story can be told over and over in countless countries), maybe doesn't sit all that well with those who were dictated to.

So people are in the streets. And no one knows what will emerge from the rumble of the old order. Might be good, might be bad, might be different, might be just a new status quo. No one knows, no one seems in charge. Change is hard and messy - that's change you can believe in.

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