WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rebuild, Remake!

The storm is one thing.  Dealing with the aftermath is another.  You just hope people will pull together and get it done.  That has always been the idea of America to me.  We are kind of a "can do," country. And a curious and enterprising species.

Sometimes this gets us into major mischief, especially when we decide that we can dictate to other countries how they should act.  When it goes wrong, this attitude can go very, very wrong.  Think: Iraq, Vietnam.

But when it goes right it can be amazingly great.  I am a life-long Chicagoan, but I am a big fan of the great social experiment we call New York City.  An amazing place.  It's fast-paced, it's a monster of a city with people of all kinds who have learned to live together. New Yorkers are a special kind.  Maybe living in such a tightly packed place just creates a special energy and synergy.  What a vibe! The best and sometimes the worst too. But always more. Always surprising and vital.

You just know that New Yorkers will make it happen.  They will pull themselves out of the jaws of disaster.  They will recover.  This would be a great time for a massive stimulus program to remake the infrastructure.  That's the kind of thing America used to do just as a matter of course.  That was before our cripplingly stupid politics (I blame the small-minded, right-wing madness of the GOP).

We should be throwing money at the problem.  We should rebuild, remake!  We should look forward to all we can be.  Damn the torpedoes.  New York!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mother Trumps All!

Sometimes the Mother trumps all.  And sometimes Mother Nature is a Mother.  And we all just have to endure.  We must experience the rage, the wind, the rain.  And buck up as best we can.

And sometimes it is an awful and awe-inspiring display.  And you realize that this Mother may have birthed us, but she is working on a higher plain and sometimes we are just little beings who happen to be in the way.  Be safe little ones!


Monday, October 29, 2012

No Bond Like the Old Bond

Okay, on the political and social front I'm pretty progressive, but in pop culture I find I'm sometimes a traditionalist.  For instance, in terms of r&r, the Rolling Stones albums "Beggars Banquet," "Let it Bleed," "Stick Fingers" and "Exile on Main Street" pretty much stand as the pinnacle and template for the form.  Nobody's done it better.

And when it comes to listening to music, I still like my big old clunky stereo system with the over-sized speakers, ancient turn-table and CD player.  I love spinning the vinyl and silver discs.  And there's not a better way to listen to music.  And when it comes to guitar amps, give me the old tube technology.  No fancy modeling amps for me.

And when it comes to James Bond.  No contest.  Sean Connery.  End of conversation.  It's the first three Sean Connery Bond films that define the genre: "Dr. No, "From Russia to Love," and "Goldfinger." They are top of the pops. Everything else, all the other attempts, just don't get there.  Sorry.

This is a long way around to mentioning that we saw "Casino Royale" with Daniel Craig over the weekend.  The big old movie machine is furiously trying to get us to buy Craig as the new Bond.  And they are trying to update the old form with lots of splash, glitter, explosions and boom, boom...

Not buying it.  Basically the movie is: See Bond. See Bond run. Run Bond run.  And Craig is a wet noodle, a cold fish.  We were reluctant to see this movie.  But friends had told us it was "not bad."  "Not bad," does not mean good.  And this one is not good.  There's another one coming down the pike.  Adele will be singing the theme song.  I'm sure lots of hype and promotion coming to your neighborhood.  But really, Connery was the man.  Bond is missing in this new incarnation of Bond. And Craig can run but he can't run fast enough for me.  Just saying.

UPDATE: And if I was calling the shots, I'd have the Stones record an album of old, hard-hitting blues songs, with maybe a few classic country tunes thrown in, and maybe a Gospel song or two.   Ditch the originals and go back to some classics. Retro.  That would be an album worth hearing.

And if I was casting Bond now, I'd consider Clive Owen, Daniel Day-Lewis, or maybe the best choice of all Nick Cave.  Perfect debauched gentleman.  I know he's Australian, he's dark, edgy and sort of desiccated around the edges.  And you just know as Bond he'd never, ever, run anywhere. And I would keep the Bond films as "period pieces."  Early sixties.  That's where Bond belongs.  I'd have a series of retro Bonds...  that might be cool.  Certainly cooler than what they are doing now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Get Your Head Out of Your Ass!

Yes, I'm progressive in my politics.  And in my views of social justice.  I heartily endorse Barack Obama for a second term.  I can't imagine a Romney presidency.  I think it would be a total debacle, a re-run of Bush II which was a total train wreck.

It's no surprise that the New York Times is endorsing Obama.  But they lay out the case very logically and coherently.  If you have any doubts, if you are wavering, if you are thinking of not voting this time around, you should read it.  And if you can't make up your mind... well, gee, get your head out of your ass!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Freak of Nature

"A freak of nature?  Well, yes, of course, that's right... a freak of nature.  You have a problem with that?!"

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Own Private Fear and Loathing

Woke up with a start in the middle of the night.  Laid there in the darkness.  And just like in "A Clockwork Orange," a grand series of horrid images flooded across my consciousness.  It was like my eyelids were pinned back and I had to watch and relive all the painful episodes of my life.  All my failures, minor and major flooded in.  The pains, the heartaches, the humiliations.  

So weird.  Stuff that I thought was long dead and gone, came up.  I guess everything is imprinted on our brains, and none of it really goes away.  Kind of sent me into a tailspin in the darkness.  This morning everything seems bright and shiny.  But I see the scars.  And I know that the unseen scars are there too.

I'm thinking it was a mistake to watch Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" yesterday.  I remembered it as a pretty bad movie.  It's actually much worse than I remembered.  Just a terrible, horrid piece of work.  You'd think it should be good.  Love HST's book.  Johnny Depp and Benecio Del Toro are well-cast.  Gilliam is a pretty good filmmaker (see Brazil).  But this one is a total mis-fire. A failure of epic proportions.

Maybe watching all that on screen gibberish started my brain on a downward spiral.  Yes, let's chalk up the tailspin to Gilliam's botch job on "Fear and Loathing."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The truly terrible thing...

Yes, it's a battle.  Of opinions.  Of perspectives.  As Jean Renoir once put it: "The truly terrible thing is that everybody has their reasons."  And it's hard to change minds.  Even one's own mind.  And I think we need to be on guard against our own prejudices.  And our own egos.  And the battle is "in-built" inside of us.  And that's OK it's just our road.  Competing thoughts. Competing emotions. Competing desires.

Our own minds and bodies are battlefields.  And sometimes it's a struggle to see clearly.  Or maybe struggle is the wrong word.  We must look at the world with clear eyes.  It's not always easy to drop the shield.  But sometimes we need to be "defenseless" and do our best to just look, to just see.  The world is a remarkable thing.  Our lives are amazing gifts from an unknown giver.  And we are left to our own devices.  But there are clues all around us and we must do our best...

And the best strategy? "Wide Awake! And not sleeping..."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Snow-balls Upside the Head - Holy!

If you've walked around on the planet for awhile, and you are a lucky sod, you get to meet, and to know some extra-ordinary people.  They are out there.  In all walks of life.  Just people.  People who do whatever.  People who are just people. Beautiful, amazing, contradictory, over-powering...

They might be moms, or work in offices, or any other kind of thing.  But if you are lucky, you get to know them, and their unique, amazing-ness.  These are the ones with that "inner light" turned way up high.  They don't always blaze away, but when they do, it will take your breath away.  And make you happy to be alive, and to know such beings.

Anyway, one of those extra-ordinary ones tipped me to this amazing video yesterday.  Written and performed by Derrick Brown. You must watch this video... absolutely beautiful, touching, life-affirming and true.  You realize this kind of short-form video is a perfect vehicle for enlightened, illuminated poetry.  And this one is married to some gorgeous imagery, and beautiful music from Mogwai... phenomenal!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"He will sell your ass to the highest bidder..." - C. Pierce

It's actually starting to "pain me" to hear and see Mitt Romney walking and talking.  A truly unappealing presence.  I don't like being lied to. The man makes my skin crawl.  Sort of like seeing those creepy crawlies scurrying across the floor.

One thing I am grateful for this election season... I discovered the wonderful writing of Charles Pierce.  Insightful and entertaining.  Just brilliant!


"That is what history always has told us about the career of Willard Romney: sooner or later, he will sell your ass out to the highest bidder and walk away whistling in the general direction of anything to which he feels entitled. In this case, that would be the leadership of the Free World." - C. Pierce

I am so looking forward to Obama's 2nd term.  And I look forward to seeing Romney heading back to his mansion to polish his gold bars.  Please Mr. Romney go home!

Monday, October 22, 2012

It was a long weekend...

"What happened to you...?"

"You don't look so good."

"What happened to you...?"

"You don't look so good."

"What happened to you...?"

"You don't look so good."



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Go, Go, Go

And then you have one of those days where it's "go, go, go." And you can't stop.  You move forward relentlessly like a hungry shark.  And the day is consumed.  And your energy is consumed. And you take a moment to wonder what it all adds up to.  But it's only a moment, and it's not worth the wondering.  You have to go on some more. You can't stop. Don't bother thinking. And so you go. Until finally the day is done. And then you stop. Finally stop.  And you don't even want to think about the next day because it projects to be another one of those days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Everything is Gonna Be All Right!

Some days the news is just so perfect.  You find stories that make you smile.  And you think, "Everything is gonna be all right!"

First, Obama coins a brilliant new term, "Romnesia!"  A perfect little word.  Describes a very unique condition that one particular shit-eat grinning citizen has come down with.  "Flip-flopper" doesn't adequately capture that malady.  Romnesia renders someone incapable of recalling what they said during the Primary season, on the campaign-trail, in a debate, hell even in the last sentence...

And then there's this great story, about this "brilliant football player" (never thought I'd put those words together in a string).  Chris Kluwe is an all round cool guy, with a sharp mind and he's speaking out on gay rights and same-sex marriage.  Beautiful story.  Great kid.  And I hear he's a really good punter too!  

Friday, October 19, 2012

I like to find, what I find, when I find it.

Pop culture is pretty wrapped up with "fashion."  And it's all about the now.  The newest, the latest.  But you know, I like to find, what I find, when I find it.  And I'm sort of resistant to the hype, and to marketing, and I don't like being in lines or just following the crowd.

So anyway, I wrote about The Jesus and Mary Chain record "Psycho Candy" here.  It was released in 1985.  That is a lifetime in pop culture terms.  But you know, I think it's cool to time trip, and to jump around from eras and to experience music out of context.  I mean, to understand what's happening, or what happened, it helps to know the context of what you are experiencing.  But it's also cool to hear something out of context too.

So anyway, this is a record that made a splash when it came out, and it's been influential on lots of bands.  Does it stand up?  Yes.  It's a pretty cool record.  It's a sound.  Pretty much one sound.  And that one sound is really, really, good and it works very well indeed!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Testy Exchange with a True Believer!

I got into a testy exchange with an unhinged right-winger.  I do think the Republicans are now like a crazed, irrational cult.  It's a political organization that really functions more like a "bury their heads in the sand" religion.  They cling to a world-view and disregard information that just doesn't fit their world-view. And if you bring up "facts" they will dismiss them as biased.  In their world facts are pliable.  So you get into this weird loop where you can't even get agreement on what exactly happened.

And it turns out that "reality has a clear liberal bias."  For instance think evolution and climate change.  These ideas are derived from the world as we find it.  Not from minds of liberals... but if a liberal buys into it, it is suddenly discredited by the crazed right...  and you can't argue with a true believer... it's kind of like putting a piano up your nose...

Update: I think a fundamental difference between liberals and the crazed right, liberals can be persuaded with facts.  Liberals will alter their views of the world based on evidence.  And a complicating factor: the scientific method shows us that what we "know" evolves based on discovery and accumulated data.  The world became a very different place when we discovered bacteria, or we realized that the earth was not the center of the universe. Still the crazed right clings to a core worldview and they seem to take pride in clinging even in the face of evidence.  That's a sign of their wing-nutti-ness.

Do I have a main/core liberal principle? Yes, I stole it from the Dali Lama - "Human beings first!" All else flows out from that principle. So no discrimination under the law. Black/white, straight/gay, poor/rich, franchised/disenfranchised, all are equal under the law... all beings treated with dignity and respect... we are human beings first... Christian, Jew, Muslim, whatever... that's always secondary. The hard part: we even have to treat wing-nuts with respect.  The hardest part of being a liberal is having to tolerate the intolerable, to tolerate the intolerant!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Lie Easily Refuted!

Yes, I think Obama mopped the floor with Romney in the debate last night.  And Romney revealed himself as a very unappealing, dissembling character.  And as Paul Krugman points out it was the attack in Bengazi that was a definitive moment.  Somehow the right wing wants to pretend that Obama is not "tough on terror."  And of course it's a lie.  And a lie easily refuted.  And Romney just walked into a wall on that one.  And you could see he was smarting and befuddled the rest of the night.  Romney really is an abomination of a candidate.  And his shit-eating grin, and river of lies just doesn't sit well...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Riccardo Trattoria Restaurant Review!

Hey I don't often do restaurant reviews, but what the heck. We had a celebration dinner at a really cool little place called Riccardo Trattoria.  It's one of our favorite Chicago restaurants.  A small, warm and friendly room.  For some reason it makes us think of Brooklyn...

I had the pumpkin ravioli... delicious and filling.  I also had the shitake mushroom salad. Flavorful and light.  And we shared two desserts.  The tira misu was perfecrt.  So light on the tongue.  Food of the Gods.  The ricotta cheese cake was startlingly delicious.

A very satisfying meal... highly recommended! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trivial Existence...

I suppose I can look at my life as a long series of trivialities...  a long series of trivial things... but that's not a very fruitful way of looking at my life.  I mean, yes, most of my life may be consumed with things trivial.  But it's my life.  And all those little trivialities add up to the reality of my existence.  Which in the grander picture may be trivial... but of course, it's not that trivial to me...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Communal Spirit!

We had a very satisfying show last night.  A packed room of people swimming in the vibe of songs from 1967.  It was very cool to have a room full of people singing along to songs.  A very communal spirit.  The happiness and enthusiasm after the show was extraordinary too.  Lots of work.  But I do think it's the good work!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saints Don't Exist

I wrote about Jimi Hendrix here.  A good friend reminded me that Hendrix was a "flawed human being."  In my book, that's kind of a redundancy...  Hendrix is not remarkable because he was a perfect being, he is remarkable because he somehow rose up above his circumstances and created an amazing body of work, and re-thought what it meant to play an electric guitar.

I don't celebrate Hendrix because he was a "saint," saints don't exist in my conception of the universe. No he was a an amazing human being, a flawed human being navigating a flawed universe.  And still he created something extraordinary, beautiful and inspiring...

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Wide Spectrum of Sounds!

Tomorrow night, we are hosting another one of those shows where we pick an artist, or in this case a "theme" and invite a bunch of performers to play... this one is different, it's "The Summer Of Love Show," songs from 1967.  It was kind of cool to open it up. A much more expansive night of music.

And 1967 happens to be a pretty extraordinary year for music.  Debut albums from Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  The Beatles "Sgt Peppers" too!

So we have songs from Joni Mitchell, the Doors, the Monkees, Cream, Van Morrison, The Box Tops, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Country Joe and the Fish, Jimi Hendrix, etc.... a pretty wide spectrum of sound... it's always cool to hear these songs channeled through performers of all kinds... should be lots of fun!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stone Free!

Yesterday, I wrote a r&r diary about Jimi Hendrix here.  Hendrix was very charismatic and photogenic.  This is my all-time favorite Hendrix photo.  He looks so happy.  It's not an accident that he's on stage with a guitar in his hands.  He was an unbelievably creative musician.  He was probably happiest and most "free," when he played music.  He even had a song about how music was like a woman with whom he was madly in love.  Jimi Hendrix!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Spirit of Alex Chilton

I was researching songs for our upcoming Summer of Love Show.  One song we are doing with our friend the Uber Critic is The Box Tops great song "The Letter." The lead singer on that Top 40 hit song was a 16 year old kind named Alex Chilton.  Alex is just one of those phenomenal singer/songwriters I have come to really appreciate over the years.  He was always on the fringe and margins of having a successful rock and roll career and did some amazing work with Big Star and as a solo artist.

Anyway, Alex is now dead and gone.  But his work remains.  And by spinning the CD's and playing the videos he seems as alive as you and me.  I found this video of Alex wandering around a New Orleans Cemetery, and well, wouldn't the spirit of Alex Chilton be wandering around a cemetery in New Orleans singing songs?  And wouldn't he sing "The Letter," just for the hell of it?

Well, yes, he would...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Whither the Black Swan?!

Some Obama supporters are totally freaking out about Obama's debate performance and the Pew Poll that showed him now trailing Romney.

Me, I'm sticking with the mysterious Sam Wang.  He runs a site that does a "meta-analysis" of all the polls.  I guess his model did very well in the 2008 and 2010 elections.  So the math and the model still has Obama as the favorite.  That's reassuring to me.

But of course, election day is still a ways away.  And what of the Black Swan?  The Black Swan is the unforeseen event. Was that first debate a Black Swan?  Is there a Black Swan waiting to reveal itself? The Swan that we don't see, that we don't know, that we don't even thinks exists, can turn all expectations on their head... will there be a Black Swan?

I predict, definitely, maybe!

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Heart of "More!"

You can think about it.  And feel about it.  And do it.  And sometimes the thinking, feeling and doing are all focused and together.  This is when you are flowing with life.  It is the optimum way to navigate. 

And then sometimes the thinking, feeling and doing are not aligned at all. Instead they are working at cross-purposes.  They get out of whack.  And nothing flows.  It is a less than optimum way to navigate.

And then you ask how to align? It isn't easy. You can try to "work" it out.  But it's not really a working thing.  And it's not a thinking thing, or a feeling thing, or a doing thing either.  It's all those and more. So you are left with a puzzle. And how do you get to the heart of that "more?"

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Perfect Dream!

We went to see Mary Archie's production of Sam Shepard's "Geography of a Horse Dreamer."  My favorite theater company presenting a play from my favorite playwright.  And it's just a dream production.  Perfectly realized.  No flaws.  The cast is perfect.  Great set design.  Directed and acted with skill and enthusiasm.  Shepard's pop cultural dream-world comes alive.  Couldn't ask for anything more.  Perfect!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

It Works

"Yes, it' a raggedy-ass, beat-up little thing, but it's mine and it works."

Friday, October 05, 2012

He'll Blame the Help!

All those "snap" polls told us that Romney "won" the first debate against Obama.  I must say, I was impressed by Romney's performance.  He is a bull-shit artist of the first caliber.  And the bull-shit was oozing from his ears, and he was relaxed and confident, and he did not blink.  Very impressive.

It was all shit-eating grins and a river of lies from Romney.  You might think that's what we need in this Age of Lies. But if so, I think you are wrong.  I also think Romney actually "lost" the debate.  All those lies will come back to haunt him.  He has now taken positions totally contrary to each other on just about every issue.

Romney was hard-right in the Republican primaries but he did not look comfortable pretending to be a fire-breathing right-winger in those debates.  He was stilted and weird under the gaze of Newt Gingrich.  Romney was much more comfortable pretending to be a moderate on Wednesday. 

I do think this threw Obama off his game.  I think Obama was surprised that he could not pin down Romney on any of his plans or numbers.  Obama looked a little halting and unsure.  But he was relying on facts.  Obama is actually trying to win this election based on facts.

My take: Obama's reliance on facts will help him win this thing.  Romney has built his whole campaign on a mountain of lies and misrepresentations... I'd love to see Romney get "caught," to see him squirm under the glare of reality, but I think he's lived a life of lies and he has always gotten away with his lies.

So the bull-shit artist will keep grinning that shit-eating grin. His beady little eyes will keep sparkling.  But he will be sent home a loser this time.  It will be a good lesson for Romney. But I'm sure he'll end up blaming the "help" when he goes down in defeat!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

One Of A Kind People

Still working on "Summer of Love Songs."  You can learn the chords.  You can learn the lyrics.  You can play and sing the songs, but then you come up against freaky, amazing natural phenomena, kind of like heavy weather that just can't be replicated.

I'm speaking of such awesome and daunting sounds such as Nico's  or Grace Slick's voices.  Two  amazing forces of nature for sure. Or how about John Entwhistle's unique bass technique?  It's like he picked up the instrument and invented a new way to play it. Or Keith Moon's weird, over the top, unlike anyone in the universe drum-playing?

You can learn the steps.  But it just isn't the same.

Even though you've heard their songs over and over year after year, if you really listen to them with fresh ears, you experience these things as just amazing, unique, sounds created by one of a kind people. Thrilling.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Friends Not Your Friends

The whacks, the cuts, the pricks, the kicks.  They come from any corner.  Some of them are intentional, some of them are not.  Intention doesn't seem to matter.  When the whacks come, they do their thing, they do their damage, and you carry on.  Usually they just leave small nicks and bruises. No major wounds.  The major ones are rare.

But there is an accumulation.  It all adds up.  Everything counts.  So you carry the bruises, you carry the scars... they come from the friendlies and the unfriendlies.  Those from the friendlies are more insidious.  The are the unexpected torpedoes. They surprise you. And sometimes surprise is not your friend.

You have friends.  But sometimes your friends are not your friends.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Stunner - The Left Banke

We've been researching and rehearsing songs from 1967 as part of our preparation for our Summer of Love show. Came across The Left Banke, didn't really know them, although, I do remember hearing "Walk Away Renee."  What an amazing song. It's a total stunner, just beautiful.  The band didn't last long, but their harmonies and the lush orchestration on the track is just superb.

We are thinking of doing "Walk Away Renee" but ours would be a much starker version.  No strings, maybe no harmonies.  Wonder if we can pull it off?  Not sure.  Still the song is just so gorgeous.  Rehearsing it in our kitchen, one guitar, two voices, to my ears it sounds exquisite.


Monday, October 01, 2012

Takes a Licking, Still Ticking!

Someone read the tea leaves and saw a large conflagration.  An explosion of epic proportions. Sounded like hooey to me.  Couldn't see it.  Couldn't imagine anything rocking my world that hard.  And then the storm came. An enthralling and amazing display of hatred and rage. Very, very surprising, over what I thought was a little thing... so yes, got rocked. Totally. But took a licking and still ticking... sometimes being alone in silence is the only remedy!

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