WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Deepest Wisdom

As 2015 approaches, I am feeling road-tested. I mean, I have been driven around the block a few times. I mean, like over and over and over again. I can look back and remember things that happened long ago and far away in another century.

Time marches on. With big muddy boots.

Sometimes it all seems sort of arbitrary, and meaningless, I mean does the universe really count by number? Is this a "by the numbers" universe? Does 2015 really mean a thing?

It is some kind of marker. Maybe it's a gauge of how much experience a person has accumulated on the planet. Some of this experience is helpful and instructive, and some of it is maybe not.

I'm in a wise guy mood this morning. And what is "wise?" If you pressed me, I'd say it's all sort of Zen/Paradoxical.  

This is the worst of times, the best of times (thanks C. Dickens), each of us is the center of a universe that has no center. We are the most important thing in the world, and the least important. All life is holy, and all life is cheap.  

I think, sometimes I really have no clue about what's really going on. And maybe that is the deepest wisdom of all...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Living in the Moment!

Living in the moment. Living moment to moment. I recommend it. Days run away like wild horses. Years pass by in a blur. You blink, and there goes a decade. But you really can live in the moment. And sometimes a moment can seem like a lifetime.

The past is gone, the future isn't here. And what you remember, and what you imagine, is not really what you thought it was, or what you think it will be.

It's only the moment, the now, the always now, that exists in real time. You can get lost in a moment. You can find everything there. And everything is real, and true, and alive in the moment. Every moment is the first, and it is the last. Moment. That's it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Recycled World!

Our recycled world.

And then there is music about music. Songs about other songs. And bands really trying to be other bands. And movies about movies. And movies about TV shows, and TV shows about movies, and novels about TV shows and movies, and movies about novels and about TV shows and movies, and don't forget comic books made into movies, and TV shows, and grand multiple movie franchises.

And then there are restaurants that are about being a restaurant. Fast food joints that are about serving things that are something like food. They resemble, remake actual real food into a sort of faux facsimile. And there are vast hollow chains spread across the land, chock-full of products that resemble other products, except, not as good, not as well-made, not really good stuff - crappy stuff that breaks and falls apart and disintegrates and clutters up our lives, but always at the "best price."

And it turns out that we are very sophisticated in our tastes and we actually grow to like stuff that resembles other stuff. We like the copies of copies. It makes things familiar but slightly different too. We think we are smart and discerning and we get really good at tracking how things become other things, and where they are derived from, and what spawned them, and we get joy and pleasure in our great, smart understanding of our recycled existence.

When we come up against something truly authentic, original, challenging, something that doesn't fit the template, it's very off-putting, and really we want to kill it or ignore it, or bury it. It's the kind of stuff that shows us maybe we don't know what we think we know, and maybe what we know is wrong. And we laugh at the idea of "authentic," and "original," and think that they are not important, or just the same old thing pretending to be something else.

It's a nicely contained, well-insulated existence.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Past With Some New Toys

I grew up in the "Generation Gap" era. Also there was the "Pepsi Generation." There were all these kids, and then there were the adults and it seemed like there was a large, unbridgeable, yawning gap between them. Still it turns out that what the adults did and what the kids ended up doing too wasn't really all the different or radical.

"No more war," turned into lots of little wars, conducted by professionals. And then of course the "terror" came down upon us, and then there was "perpetual war."  Yes, the hairstyles changed, and the clothes, and the movies and music, but much of it was the same old stuff in a new package.

I guess the internet and computers, and smartphones are a leap into the future, but in many ways the future seems pretty much like the past with some new toys.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Age!

Some things get better with age. Guitars. Tube Amps. Fine wines. Bourbon.

Some things decidedly do not get better with age. For instance human beings.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Created and Destroyed!

And yes, maybe we are stuck on a cross too.  We are nailed to a contradiction.  Our bodies are imperfect, fragile, subject to time and decay. But our consciousness is nearly perfect. With this amazing tool we can imagine anything. We can transcend time and space. We can create, and conjure. We can conquer all comers.

We perceive the world and invent it too.

But since we have both this fallible body and this expansive mind, we are sort of trapped in a nether-world of imperfection and perfection. We are nailed to a cross. We create and destroy and are created and destroyed.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Our Story Too!

Whatever the story. This day is sort of a remembrance and celebration of events that supposedly happened long ago. Who knows if it was the real story, and if it really happened at all? I think it's best to think of it all as some grand poetic metaphor. Some little baby was born somewhere. And a new consciousness sprang into the world. It happens every day. Actually probably every minute of everyday. That's how we continue to add to the billions of beings with consciousness to the planet.

And this little baby was "special," and "different," just like every other one. And then this little baby grew up and had a life. And then as an adult that life ended. That unique consciousness disappeared from the planet. Or at least that's how it seems to those on the planet. And this too happens all the time, every hour of every day. 

So yes, the world begins and ends every moment. So I guess we can celebrate that. It's kind of a bittersweet thing. And where does that consciousness go? Does it vanish? Does it accumulate? Or transform? I guess we decide to think of it any way that appeals to us.

And if we tell the story, and repeat it, in that way it lives. It's the same for all of us. That's the story, our story too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Believing! And Hope!

Believing. I believe it helps to believe. In something. Not sure what. But just believing in something. Something greater, or bigger, or more meaningful. I think it helps to make it through this "vale of tears."

Now, you hope that what you believe doesn't cloud your mind or vision. Doesn't actually blind you to the world. You hope that a simple belief in believing can be empowering. And that you can use it to see the world more clearly. You hope.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Adds to the Darkness!

Since everyone has a megaphone, everyone has a platform to vent, everyone has something to say, and everyone really, really wants to be heard, we end up with so much "ugly rhetoric." Really shameful. There are too many of us willing to spread the hate. Instead of trying to be cool, rational, pragmatic, sympathetic, empathetic, understanding, so many of us just can't wait for an excuse to fan the flames. All of our "social media" just makes it all so easy to spew awful words. It's like many of us actually want to hype the hate, inflame the situation, yell "fire" in a crowded room. It's a little baffling, and terribly destructive. Yes, as they say, "words have consequences." I believe in intentions,  good intentions and bad intentions, and if your intentions, and your words are coming from a dark place, that only adds to the darkness. And you and your words are part of the problem.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Really there is no escape...

That's how it goes. You think it's gonna be one thing, then it turns out to be another. You think it's gonna be bad, turns out better than you thought. You think it's gonna be good, turns out worse than you expected.

You end up doing things you didn't think you'd do. This can be an eye-opening thing. Maybe broadens your horizons. Or you think, "Never Again!" We are all trapped. By circumstance. By time. By biology. Sometimes being trapped is actually a good thing. Sometimes not. And really there is no escape.

You want to escape. But escaping just means accepting a new set of conditions. I think it's best to choose the things you do, and the people you spend time with, wisely. Very carefully and wisely.  Of course, you won't know what is wise until it's too late, one way or the other. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Re-Invented!

Maybe it was the gleam in the eye. Maybe it was the studied vacantness. Maybe it was the look of embarrassment when I mentioned our past shared theatrical adventures. This man standing on the corner, shaking a bell, soliciting coins for the Salvation Army, used to be a fellow-traveller in our world of theatrical madness. He excelled in the theater of excess. He specialized in a creative approach supplemented by lots of drink and smoke, and over the top theatricality.

He looked at me as one of the Souls of the Damned. A denizen of a fallen world that he gladly, thankfully, has left behind. He wanted to make me disappear. He told me he had "re-invented" himself. He was a new man, a different man, and he'd prefer not to be reminded of where he came from and what he used to do. And that creative realm, was actually part of a destructive lifestyle that no longer worked for him.

I wanted to tell him we weren't that much different. I too have re-invented myself, I do it all the time. And yes, I too have left the drink and smoke behind, but the theatrical madness, never. But it wasn't really the time or place for any of that. He's on a new, better path, I'm just a reminder of that old road that leads to some kind of hell.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rare and Uncommon

"I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." 

I kind of understand that Dylan line even more deeply than I ever did before. The longer I walk around on the planet, the less sure I am about so many things. When I was younger, I was lots more opinionated, and sure of myself, and willing to tell someone about it, and argue about all the finer points and judgements, and I wielded my opinions like a blunt instrument. Even when I was a gawky, shy teenager, I held very strong opinions and ideas about the world, which I was glad to share with all the unfortunate ones in my viewfinder.

Now, not so certain, not so sure, not so opinionated, or at least lots more circumspect about wielding my grand judgements. I don't have quite so many grand judgements to wield. I still make judgements, all the time, but I am a little more suspicious of my own mind, my own prejudices and biases, and I question myself about how I have come to certain conclusions. Most of the time, I realize there are no definitive conclusions to be had.

Yes, I'm certain this is a journey, and certainties on this journey are rare and uncommon. One thing I am sure about - that great storied line we find in stories is a lie: "And then they lived happily ever after." No, sorry, it doesn't happen like that. Ever. Only in the stories we tell each other. Only in our imaginations.

There's the journey of life. And then there's death. And that's just another part of the journey too. And we can name things good or bad but what we name things doesn't really describe or encompass them. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

2015 is a Hoax!

2015? Really? It sort of sounds like a hoax, right? It sits uncomfortably on the tongue. Can it really be? Seems like some strange, distant future time. That time is almost here. The future is now. Whether you want it or not.

If you were born some time in the last century, 2015 just seems sort incomprehensible. It sounds like a time and place you could imagine, but not really inhabit. Where does the time go? For some reason, I never imagined myself living in 2015. I mean, I never imagined not living in 2015. 2015 just sounds and seems so unlikely.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Mean, Well, Anything!

Yes, America's Pro-Torture Cult. I guess I'm kind of surprised and horrified that there should be such a thing, but then again, why? We did build this country on Slavery, and Genocide. And there is no sense in running down all the horrors and crimes we have committed in defense of our Freedom.

So, what are we capable of doing and justifying? Well, just about anything. I mean, well, anything!

And yes, well, as Kevin Drum points out, an unapologetic Moral Cretin like Cheney actually represents a good portion of our populace. Cheney is just a perfect embodiment of the problem.

So yes, some of us really are this depraved and morally befuddled: If we torture people, it is good and justified, because we do it to our enemies. If our enemies torture us, it is not good or justified, because our enemies are doing it to us.

Perfect Moral Clarity!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scrape and Scramble for the Crumbs!

Yes, and then, counter to Albini (see previous post) the Shazam Effect is probably bad for music. People like to listen to popular songs that they've heard before. They like to listen over and over and over. Which is good for the popular songs and artists, but not so good for everyone else.

The main takeaway from the Shazam Effect: "The top 1 percent of bands and solo artists now earn 77 percent of all revenue from recorded music."

So yes, another fine example of our "Winner Takes All" Universe. The 1% rule our Finance, our Politics, our Social Networks, our Music, our Art. The 1% sucks the oxygen out of the Universe and converts it into $ and Power for themselves.

The rest of us are left to scrape and scramble for the crumbs that fall from their tables. Maybe that's why many of us turn to glue to sniff?!

UPDATE: And check out this great article about how those blockbuster Superhero Franchise Movies that everyone flocks to, are totally destroying what used to be a pretty cool art form.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We Are All Now Pimply Glue Sniffers!

I must admit I really enjoyed Steve Albini's take on the state of the music industry. He's seems pretty pleased with the new landscape. And I can't really argue with anything he says. With the internet  and low-cost recording technology, the days of the Major Record Labels and the "rule of the suits" really has come to an end.

We are all DIY-ers now.  And as Albini tells it: "If a bunch of pimply glue sniffers could do it, we reasoned, then anybody could."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Living with Keef!

"FYI: When your girlfriend tells her girlfriends that she is 'living with Keith Richards,' it isn't necessarily meant as a compliment."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Someone's Favorite Band!

What you want…

You don't want to be everybody's favorite band.  Too grand. Too bland. You think it must entail some serious compromising and crowd-pleasing. It's kind of like craving to be a fast food meal. And craving seems pointless. How does such broad appeal work? Who the hell knows?

You don't want to be no one's favorite band. This would be sad. Possibly tragic. And at least certainly quite frustrating. Playing for lots of empty rooms. Lots of unsold CD's in your closet. Alienated and alone. 

You do want to be someone's favorite band. A niche. A micro-market. Attentive and intelligent ears. Serious listeners. People who would listen to the music, read the lyrics sheet. Make a commitment to what you are trying to communicate. Kind of a cult. Yes, a cult. That's probably what you want.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Buddha - Kick-Ass Role Model!

This Woman, she's been rumored to be (horrors), a "Fundamentalist Christian," (Yikes! She doesn't believe in climate change!) noticed the Buddha medallion hanging around my neck. It's been there for years and years. And I've known this Woman for years and years too. Turns out you can discover new things every day. Yes, well, so this Woman was startled to see Buddha hanging around my neck. She sort of flinched and asked, "Is that Buddha?"

"Yes, it is…" All she could muster in reply was a sort of strangled "Oh." It's almost like she discovered I tortured puppies or something in my spare time.

Nothing more to be said. Yes, Buddha. A pretty kick-ass role model. Think Compassion. And a meditative life. What more can you ask, what more can you aspire to? I walked away with an extra little spring in my step. Yes! Buddha!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Those Who Torture, Those Who Were Tortured!

I had the exact same reaction as Kevin Drum to those trying to "defend the indefensible." Torture is Not a Hard Concept.  There are all those "stony-faced men" trying to tell us that what happened wasn't really torture, and anyway it was necessary to fight the terror, and well, what's the big deal anyway?

These same "stony-faced men," should be facing prosecution for Crimes Against Humanity. Yes, it is that simple and clear. Of course what they did was torture. Do a thought experiment. Imagine our soldiers, our sons and daughters experiencing those procedures.  No doubt it was torture. And turns out that it's not a very effective method for extracting information, but it is a tremendous tool to debase and dehumanize - both those who tortured and those who were tortured.

Vox has a handy overview of the 16 Absolutely Outrageous Abuses...

Yes, and Mr. Cheney should be handcuffed and put on a plane and dropped off at the Hague to answer for his crimes.

And Torturing people doesn't make you a Hero. And it isn't a badge of honor, and it doesn't make you tough and clear-eyed. And it isn't the "right thing" to do in "difficult circumstances."

Torturing people is cowardly. Torture is for cretins and sadists. It is an act of weakness. It's an act of desperation and fear. Only the worst of us would resort to torturing other human beings. There is no justification for it. And to "institutionalize" it, is an abomination and a stain on us all!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bad is Good, and Good is Bad!

Yes, it's super-easy to feel like Winston Smith. I grew up hating the enemy. When I was a kid, that was most significantly the God-less Soviet Union. We were told our enemy had nuclear missiles pointed at us, and they were certain to push the button, and we'd all have to hide under our desks, and pray for a miracle, or we could just kiss our asses goodbye.

I read about those two monsters: Stalin and Hitler. These two were the two-headed personification of Evil. And how many movies did we watch where the Nazis were the ultimate bad guys? And it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Bad guys killed innocent people. They tortured people. They spied on their own citizens. Their governments lied to them. They lied about torture, they lied about spying, and they lied about reasons for sending men into wars. The Good Guys? Well...

Turns out my own country, the Good Guys also did all these things. So yes, that Winston Smith feeling.  An alien in my own country. The "Good Guy/Bad Guy" thing sort of seems naive. And stupid. And sort of irrelevant. So yes, I live here. I keep my eyes peeled. And I don't believe the bullshit. I don't love Big Brother, even if he tells me without him the Bad Guys would devour me. I don't love Big Brother, because I can't really see the difference between him and the Bad Guys. If my government tortures, and spies, and lies well, even if they are doing these things for me, they are also doing these things to me. 

Bad is Good, and Good is Bad! And Freedom is Slavery... and well, read the book!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

American Torture & Gulags!

Andrew Sullivan is one of the most eloquent, engaged voices out in the blogosphere, especially when it comes to the Bush/Cheney Torture Regime. In the darkest days, when the USA went off the rails in response to The Terror, Andrew was a strong, clear voice. He has not been afraid to point out that "enhanced interrogation," is, and has always been, torture. And torture is illegal, and immoral, and those who do it, or authorize it, should be prosecuted for "crimes against humanity."

So with the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's "Torture Report," Andrew Sullivan is a "go-to" source. He and his staff have meticulously plowed through the report and comment on it as they go.  It's all a must-read. Chilling, outrageous, sad, disturbing, terrible. We knew some of these horrors before, but not in such detail. And it's worse and more horrible and inhumane than many of us imagined.

Certainly one of the darkest chapters of the history of the USA. We are no different than our enemies if we commit atrocities against the enemies who commit atrocities against us. "Black Sites" of torture are just another way of saying "American Gulags." We want to look away, but we must not! And we must prosecute those who committed these crimes.

Here is Ronald Reagan's position on the matter: "Each state party is required to prosecute torturers who are found in it's territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution."

Kevin Drum also sums up the report quite succinctly: "... The torture was far more brutal than we thought and the CIA lied about that. It didn't work and they lied about that too. It produced so much bad intel that it most likely impaired our National Security, and of course they lied about that as well."

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Occupation Failure!

I do think you have to keep "trying things." Trying to do new things. Or, I guess I mean, you should keep doing new things. It's something you learn in the creative realms, which for me would be theater and music. You are always searching, testing, and performing and then moving on. 

Lots of ideas blow up, or fall flat. Or outright fail. That's part of the process. So yes, failure is an occupation. But it's all the little failures that show you the way. And you can apply this to any realm in your life. You wear failure like a cloak. Don't take it personally. Run the idea to it's conclusion. Test it, see if it flies. Most times it doesn't, but once in awhile you will be surprised. There is life in a new idea, a new venture, a new attempt. And that brief success is worth the trouble.

Monday, December 08, 2014

What Happened!

Sometimes we can't even agree about what actually happened. What one person sees conflicts with what another person sees. Details and facts that are persuasive to one person, aren't persuasive to someone else. We grasp at evidence that supports our position, and eliminate evidence that contradicts our position. People who have lots in common, who agree about a lot of things, come down on completely opposing sides of an issue. It happens all the time. And some of our most fundamental conflicts, conflicts that have gone on for years, for decades, for centuries are never resolved, but are just argued over and over. That's an inevitable part of the human adventure. 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Trial of the Night!

Sometimes sleep is a restful state where your body, your brain, refreshes, restores, recharges. And then, sometimes sleep is a stressful adventure. Weird scenarios play out. You turn into other things. You fly and fall, and realize you didn't study for the big test.

Lately it's all about losing control of my arms, my hands, my fingers. Very disturbing. Sleep has become this elaborate scenario of incapacitation. Paralyzed. Rendered an invalid. I wake up happy to find that my arms, hands, fingers still work. But the night was such an ordeal, a trial!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

A Literary Life

You wake up and think you are in a romcom. Or maybe just a bad comedy. But instead you are in the middle of "Moby Dick," a tale of madness and obsession, or the "Catcher in the Rye" - you want to erase all the "fucks" in the world, or "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," - everything is twisted and out of control, or "Catch 22," - everyone you know is mad except for you, and you're not so sure of your sanity either, or the "Lord of the Rings Trilogy," - you are in for a long, strange journey filled with lightening and thunder, but you are the hero of a fabulous adventure, and all will work out in the end. But no, it's turns out you are really in a Beckett play. Doesn't matter, which one, a short work, a long famous work, it's all the same, and life is a slog, it's real, it's odd, and fractured, and you just have to carry on, just because. There is no alternative. You live. And you wait. And live some more.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Dumb Little Monkey!

You don't want to be just a dumb little monkey....

But some times you don't want to know, you don't want to see, you don't want to say. 

Sometimes it's just better if you withdraw. In to silence. It's better for you and for everyone else. 

So yes, sometimes the smart play is to be a dumb little monkey...

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The In-Justice System!

Kevin Drum writes about the Eric Garner chokehold case, (murder), and he says whatever I was gonna say about it much better than I.

If we build a system of Justice that just embodies our biases, opinions, and prejudices, if we create society where different people are treated differently because of  their cosmetic differences, well, then of course, the system is not a system of Justice, at all.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Misunderstood!

"I suppose I'm not really surprised that no-one understands me. I mean, I don't understand me."

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

An Odd Existence!

We are caught between the extraordinary and the ordinary. It's extraordinary that we are alive. It's kind of amazing to think about all the things that had to happen for us to be living, breathing, human beings. But then, our days are filled with ordinary moments. So much of our time is getting from one place to another. Waking up. Going to sleep. Eating. There are moments of boredom. There's down-time and sometimes we are even killing time. Every moment is precious but we don't really live like every moment is precious. Our time is limited, but sometimes we act as if we have all the time in the world. We are caught between knowing that every moment that passes, never comes around again, and acting as if we can hang onto every moment, and the moments will keep on coming. It's an odd existence.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Laughter and Food!

Laughter. It's the best medicine. Along with really good food. Both are excellent medicine. 

You should think of laughter as essential to a good life. I mean, genuine, heart-felt, gut-busting laughter. You can't will it, but you must be open to it. And I don't mean that cynical, sarcastic, cutting type laughter. And not the laughing at the poor, or halt, or lame. I'm talking about a generous, robust, life-affirming type of laughter.  When it overtakes you, there is nothing better. 

And food, good food, it really is medicine. Better than pills and injections and operations. Eating well is essential. And food closer to the source is the best. Anything you grow, dig up, or pick. Avoid food processing. Avoid eating animals. Our industrial meat processors produce sick, bloated, unhealthy animals. Go for green food. Green is good. Colorful food is good. Fresh, organic. Good!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Finding Stuff!

Finding stuff. You have to show up. Be alert. To your own life. If you don't do it, guess what? It won't get done. That's a revelation. Came to me late. No one gives you anything, really. You find stuff. You see it, you pick it up. Or you don't. So if you are looking for meaning or enlightenment, you have to look. You have to open your eyes. Open your hands. Open your heart. And grab it.

It's easy to miss stuff. You are walking along and all you see is old shit. Dead leaves, dead grass. Hard, cold ground. Turds. Lots of turds. But then, sometimes you find something: a hat, gloves, a twenty dollar bill, a bracelet, a ring, knick-knacks. 

Yes, so you do find stuff. You see stuff, or you don't. You pick it up or you don't. You show up or you don't. It's up to you. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Some Days, Other Days

Some days you are happy to feel well-rested and refreshed. Face the day with clear eyes, a happy heart, and a renewed spirit.

Some days you are happy to wake up. That is all. Just to be awake. That's enough.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Much Too Real!

It's getting weird. Weirder. Yes, it's getting weirder. No. That's not it. It's getting more "the opposite of weird." Like, it's getting more mundane, or "day to day," or pedestrian, or just plain real. Yes, that's it. It's not getting weirder, it's getting more and more real. It's getting much more real. More real than it's ever been. And it's disturbing and frightening. There is a gravity, a realness to the realness. Weird would be better. Or surreal. Or strange. Or odd. Or surprising. Or supernatural. But, no, instead, it is getting really, really real. Too real. Much too real!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

whitewolfsonicprincess Tee!

What can I say? Sometimes we have dreams - sometimes they are small, humble, maybe even silly, but very specific dreams. One of mine is "coming true." We just put in an order for a band t-shirt. Seems like a simple thing, but for some reason, it's sort of exciting. I mean it makes me very happy. Yes, a band t-shirt! Really! Here's a link to the band. And below is the shirt design. White on Black. Basic, 100% cotton Tee. $20. And, if I don't say so myself, very, very "Cool!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Trust. And Lack of Trust.

Trust. And Lack of Trust. It's hard to Trust. If you live in the world. And open your eyes. Who to trust? The Cop on the street? The Priest? The Politician? The Coach? The Televangelist? The Famous TV Comedian? Your Fellow Citizen? Your Self? You don't want to be Paranoid. But it's sometimes hard not to be Paranoid. You realize that once Trust is Broken, it's hard to reanimate it. You want to believe that you can Trust. But believing you can Trust, is not the same as Trusting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Funny Man, Family Man, Role Model & Sexual Predator

I don't know, maybe some stories aren't worth commenting on. This Bill Cosby story, is pretty hideous. One friend just said to me, "I hate this story. It's a horrible story." Another friend said to me, "Not a subject for polite conversation."

And maybe that's part of the problem. So horrible, and unthinkable, people just looked away. And we've heard about this kind of thing before.  Still, I think this one is especially troubling. A beloved man. Lauded. Successful. Funny. Charismatic. A family man. A role model.

With a terrible, terrible secret. A secret life. A predator. Stunning. Human beings can really blow your minds. One reaches for answers. None are forthcoming.

Hubris. Fatal flaw. Shakespearean, Freudian. Nothing really can explain it. Turns out the great man is not what he appeared to be, or much more than he appeared to be, or, he was one thing, and another terribly horrifying and disturbing thing too. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

America's Great Theme!

America's Great Theme...

Sometimes I think America's Great Theme is optimism over pessimism, life over death, success over failure, progress over regression, light over dark.

Then, sometimes I think that's only the great lullaby we like to sing to ourselves...

And that really America's Great Theme is pessimism over optimism, death over life, failure over success, regression over progress, dark over light.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Problem with Gods!

First we accept the Gods. Figure they rule our world. Then, we start questioning, we start seeing inconsistencies, and outright falsehoods, so we banish them, kick them out of our lives, and then it feels very, very lonely. Then we start letting them back in, one by one. But we are leery of them, we figure they are a gallery of rogues and scalawags, and some of them are cruel, and some of them don't really give a damn, and some, well, they have their own problems to deal with. So now our world is a little less lonely, it's filled with an assortment of characters, but they are just a motley crew that doesn't really help at all. So, it's like being left on our own, and we are just as lonely as if the Gods didn't exist.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

No Center!

The Scientists tell us the Universe has no center. Mythology tells us there is the Axis Mundi. If you are a human being, you live with this great illusion that in some way you are the Center of the Universe. You aren't. But that illusion is strong, it's compelling. Sometimes it feels like everything revolves around you. And then every once in awhile, that illusion is shattered. You can put the pieces back together, you can do it time and time again. And then, finally, maybe, some event unfolds and that simple, compelling illusion is completely destroyed. And there is no putting it back together. It's an eye, and head, opening kind of moment. And then there is no going back. No center.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Empathy Loop!

Empathy. You either have it, or you don't. I mean, most of us have it, except for the ones who don't, and they are scary people. How many of us are the scary types? Who knows?

So we choose to empathize with others, or we do not. And we make choices, we draw distinctions, we decide who we will empathize with, and who we will not.

We hope our empathy for others will be reciprocated to us. It doesn't always work that way. Sometimes you are one of the ones left out of the empathy loop. And that is hard.

We are all human, we were all born, we all live and die. We grow old. We will all succeed at some things, and fail at others. We aren't perfect. We are all the same in all the essential ways. But some of us choose to see the things we share, and some don't.

We can build a society together that rewards the empathetic ones, or we can reward the narcissistic ones. We choose.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Godspeed Bono!


High risk activities. Riding a bike? You don't think of it as one of them. I ride a bike nearly everyday. As I get on it, I should probably think about falling off of it. And how far I will fall. And where I will land. And what I will break. But I don't.

When I get back from a trip, I should probably get on my hands and knees and kiss the ground and thank my lucky stars that I have arrived safely. But I don't.

If you have read Bill Flanagan's great book about U2's Zooropa tour in 1991 - "U2 at the End of the World,"  (and you should, it's really a great read) you know that Bono (Paul Hewson), is not only a very charismatic showman, an international, globe-trotting rockstar, a gifted evangelical salesman, and an accomplished Irishman full of smarts, vim, vigor and blarney, but he is also a long-time risk taker.

He's a balcony-jumper, a stage-diver, a scaffolding-climber. He likes to hang with Supermodels. He likes to hijack boats, and he will stay up for days after a stadium show (flying on the adrenaline-kick of playing r&r to hundreds of thousands of deliriously fired-up U2 fans), often prowling foreign cities like Tokyo and Sydney late into the wee hours, lurking in dark and dangerous places looking to "put my arms around the world."

I am sure Bono didn't think that riding a bike in Central Park was a high-risk activity. But, of course, it is. Seems he was involved in a terrible, horrific crash on his bike - he was trying to avoid another bike and ended up in the hospital with some very serious injuries - lots of broken bones and trauma.

When we think rock star and high-risk activities we usually think heroin, snorting drugs off the backsides of groupies, choking on vomit, (their own, or another's) etc. Riding a bike in Central Park? That is one of the coolest things you could ever do. For some reason this has really hit me. I can see myself in Bono's place. "There but for the grace of God, go I."  I love riding my bike. I love Central Park. I can see how one false move can land you in the hospital.

I am also feeling slightly guilty. Lately, I've been railing against U2's latest "spam iCloud record," but you know what? Despite that tempest in a teapot, I love U2, they are one of my all-time favorite bands, and Bono is one of the great wonders of the r&r universe.

So Godspeed Bono. Heal quickly! The world needs you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Wild Mad Ones!

You want your airline pilot to be cautious, consistent and level-headed. Same with the guy driving your train. Or your accountant, or the guy with the authority to push the nuclear button.

But your artists, your writers, your painters, poets, song-writers, singers? You want passion. You want the mad ones. You want those folks who get carried away with an idea, can change on a dime, who lose themselves to the moment. And run off with an idea half-cocked.

Yes, you want the Wild Ones. The ones, who when you ask them: "What Are You Rebelling Against?" Reply: "What You Got?"

You want the ones who create a stir, who piss people off, who are good at "righteous indignation." You want the ones that are sensitive, super-sensitive to everything around them. They can see, and think and feel, everything.

So yes, there's a type. And there are many versions of this type: Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Sinead O'Connor, Oscar Wilde, Kanye West, Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allen Ginsberg, Yoko Ono, Miles Davis.

People with a "chip on their shoulders." They have something to say. And they believe what they say with every fiber of their being. But of course what they say and believe today, might not be exactly what they say and believe tomorrow. They are those kind of folks. 

They are mad, wild, changeable and messy, and always growing and trying new things, and making a noise, and annoying people, and moving onto the next thing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rage On Sinead!


I sort of lost track of Sinead O'Conner. And I don't know why. Her first two records are absolutely thrilling and amazing and beautiful. And fiery too. I still listen to them once in awhile. I also think "Am I Not Your Girl?" and "Universal Mother" are quite good. I just put her last record, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" (I heard that it's great) on my "wish list," hope to get a copy soon.

I came across this story in Rolling Stone yesterday.  It reminded me that Sinead is not afraid to speak her mind. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She is not afraid of controversy. She seeks it out. She has a fire and feistiness that's impressive. She is a throw-back, an artist with a chip on her shoulder, sort of like John Lennon, she's the kind of artist who will rip up a picture of the Pope on national TV, and get banished. Not exactly a smart commercial move, but it was great theater. And well, that's certainly another reason I really think she's wonderful. Plus, of course, that voice.

She also is not afraid to take on other music makers. She takes a shot at her fellow Irish rockers, U2 (which makes me happy): "What they did with iTunes was a badly judged move, there was something almost terrorist about it. I'm not really a U2 fan but it wasn't all kosher invading people's lives like that. It was bad management."

She also takes on Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Prince (and don't you just know Sinead could probably kick Prince's ass?). Rage On Sinead O'Connor - Love You!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Truly Masterful Work!

We don't go out to the movies often. We are very selective. If we go, we have high hopes of seeing something good, something that will transport us. We are not jaded movie-goers. We tend to sit close to the screen and just give it up to a tale well told.

We saw a fabulous movie yesterday, "Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Innocence)." I think it's important to always acknowledge good work, perfectly-realized. This is one of those kind of movies. It works on all levels, entertaining, enlightening, funny, surprising, deeply felt, expands your mind and your heart.

The ensemble cast is amazing, and they all have good, juicy roles and they all bring it. I kept thinking that these actors never had such good, well-rounded, and intriguing characters to play, with absolutely superb dialogue. The roll-call of actors is amazing: Michael Keaton, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galafinakis. Wow!

I mean this is one of those movies that is so good, so surprising, so intelligent, so well-done, you can't believe how good a movie can be. It was Written, Produced and Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and it is masterful work. The trailer doesn't do it justice, but here it is anyway...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Opposition to the Crowd!

The crowd. I have always spent my life avoiding the crowd. Think: lonely boy, lone wolf, marching to my own drum-beat. I never really have fit in. Never. Anywhere. I can remember have difficulty with others in Kindergarten. I remember getting into an argument over cardboard bricks, and being banished to my nap rug.

I have spent so much time in my own head, making my own plans, living my own little dream life. I have been most comfortable in those lonely pursuits: playing guitar in my bedroom, writing stories, poems, plays, blog posts, songs. It took a long, long time before I ever shared my stories, plays, poems, posts or songs. And the sharing is always a little awkward - Is something lost in translation? Am I really connecting? Is anyone really listening?

The loneliness hangs around me. I wear it like a coat. Put me in any social situation, and there's this bubble of solitariness that surrounds me. It's no mystery that I found meditation pretty early in my life, and that I practice it nearly every day. Sitting quietly in a corner, eyes closed, breathing, repeating a mantra, or visualizing elaborate scenes of peace and clarity.

I try my best to engage with the world, but I am coming from a very self-contained, or self-centered bubble. It's not really a choice, but a temperament, one that I have possessed for as long as I can remember. I do love to reach outside the bubble. I do love encountering others. I do love finding people - artists, singers, writers, playwrights, poets, guitar players, all those folks in the arts who also seem to be working from a very personal, solitary, self-contained place.

I do think of myself as part of that crowd, those folks who are coming from a profound loneliness. Folks who are uncomfortable in a crowd. Those who avoid crowds. Those in opposition to the crowd. So yes, alone, but armed with words and sounds, and ideas and reaching out… to see if anyone else exists out there...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Christ of Celebrity vs. The Anti-Christ of Celebrity!

I am not qualified to evaluate Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters. Lately, they are totally ubiquitous - new record, new HBO series, Grohl is popping up everywhere you look. I haven't actually been able to make it through a complete Foo Fighters record. It's not that they are that "bad," just not that interesting. My eyes glaze over mid-record. I just find Dave and his band so generic. They are bland. They are tame. They are just so "stock." No risks, no edge. No surprises. Big chords, slamming drums, quiet verses, big rousing choruses.  Every song seems to fit a template. Well-made, workman-like music. Obviously that's what lots of people want from their rock and rollers. Who am I to dispute it?

I don't really want to knock Dave Grohl, he is a monster drummer, (see his work with Them Crooked Vultures, and of course Nirvana), and he is charismatic, he comes across as a very likable, totally personable guy. It looks like he loves being a rock and roll star.  He's rich, famous, and doing what he wants to do. And he can command an arena filled with screaming, joyously delirious fans.  I have watched some videos of their live show - and I'm always amazed how everyone seems to love the band and their songs.

I can't love or hate them.  I just yawn…

I do think it's kind of ironic that Dave has become the antithesis of his early bandmate Kurt Cobain. Kurt was sort of the "Anti-Christ of Celebrity," Dave is kind of the "Christ of Celebrity." Kurt hated being a famous person. Dave seems to excel and revel in it. Seems that Kurt kind of hated his life and his self, Dave seems love his life and his self. You would much rather be Dave Grohl than Kurt Cobain! Dave's life looks like it's a lot more fun and fulfilling, but I'd much rather listen to Kurt. Everything that tortured little dude did was interesting, compelling, sometimes thrilling. Every Nirvana record is worth spending time with. Foo Fighters? Not so much!

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Thing, Old Thing, Whatever

You want to be onto the "new" thing. But the "new" isn't really new for long. And often the new thing is really an old thing. And the new gets old really, really fast. And then well, the old thing can kind of be new. Or experienced as new. And that really old, musty book, that everyone is always banging on, tells us "there is nothing new under the sun," but somehow you know that can't be right. And maybe this whole idea of "new" and "old" is just another shadow play in which we get caught. Yes, let's be on to the new thing, even if it's old, or feels old, and well, isn't it true that we can make every moment new, just by living in it?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Joy and Sadness That Rocks!

Why I love Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips... he worked at Long John Silvers for a long time while he also played in the band. And he faced the prospect of his own death at an early (17 years old) age. The Lips have always embodied a joy of living, mixed with a profound sadness. And there's a little of that weird, anarchic hippie-ness too. And it almost always rocks...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Missing Out!

Yes, sometimes you get that distinct feeling that you are missing something. That you are in your little world, occupied with the things you like to occupy yourself with, and there's this sneaking suspicion that rises up inside you that you are missing out. Out there things are happening: the action, the passion, the good times, the power and the glory. And there's no way to get from here to there. So you let that feeling kick around inside you. You make your stand. You breathe deeply. You let it go. Yes, for good or bad, that's all you can do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"All that Glitters is Not Gold." - Wm. Shakespeare


Yes, well, Robert Plant's post-Zeppelin career really is an amazing musical journey. I think he's grown to be an even more interesting, powerful and inspiring musical force. I love how he is always evolving, looking for new musical partners. He's done great work with Alison Krauss, T-Bone Burnett, Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin, and now the Sensational Space Shifters. Listen to how Plant uses his voice - he sings so softly and delicately... a lesson.

If you would have told me that I would be head over heels for Plant's later career music I would not have believed it. Some of his early Rock-God work seemed a little bit overwrought. Although, in retrospect, it's hard to find a flaw in the Zeppelin catalog.

The other remarkable thing? He's walked away from some serious cabbage. Richard Branson offered Plant/Page/Jones $800 million dollars for a 30 date Led Zeppelin Reunion Tour.  That's $300 million for Plant for 30 shows. How many people would walk away from that kind of money? Remarkable!

Instead, Plant wants to write new music, explore sounds with other collaborators, and play in small venues, and just do his own thing!  Seems the music, and the muse is more important.  But maybe not so surprising. Plant always had a Tolkien fixation... and remember: "All that is gold does not glitter."

Which was an inversion of Shakespeare's "All that glitters is not gold."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Peak or Not to Peak

When is a peak experience not a peak experience? Good question. My answer would be - when you are observing yourself in the middle of your own peak experience, you are not really "peaking."

Which is sort of frustrating. The observing is actually a distancing, and this distancing means you really aren't totally "having" it. I experienced this over the weekend. I was in the middle of a situation that had "peak" written all over it. But I was strangely disconnected from my own experience.

Having it, means really losing it to the moment. And you can't will it. It has to overtake you. If you are conscious of what's happening, or what's not happening, you have already lost your shot at peak.  So instead of a good feeling of satisfaction, you are left in an unsatisfied haze. A missed opportunity. Not peak at all.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters - Yes, Sensational!


Lately I like to use U2 as a punching bag.  It just feels right. So yes, as Greg Kot so eloquently said about their latest free, iCloud album: "This is what a dinosaur does in it's last days." I think this "dinosaur-ness" has more to do with their coziness with corporate behemoths, than their longevity.

I don't think it has anything to do with age. There are plenty of old-timers, or maybe better, LONG-Timers who are making lively, important and yes, great music in their later careers. Think Richard Thompson, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams and... Robert Plant!

Yes, Robert Plant! What a remarkable singer and artist. He continues to amaze, continues to seek out new collaborators, continues to explore sonic territory, continues to pursue his own muse, his own dreams. He doesn't seem to be serving anyone but his own artistic bent. I think his voice has grown to be one of the finest instruments in music. Love his musical choices, his aesthetic just seems so perfect.

His latest album with the Sensational Space Shifers called "Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar" is one of the finest records I've heard in a very long time. I was captivated from the first note. Some of the sonic influences in this stew include: celtic, middle eastern, african, bluegrass, hippie, r&r, beats, loops, with a major dollop of shimmering beauty.

And the Sensational Space Shifters are just a killer band. I mean, I love this band!  What a great ride. So inspiring! Robert Plant!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Tweedy - The Cool Daddy!


Hey guess what? "Sukierae" from Tweedy is a total knockout record. Turns out "Dad rock,"  which has been sort of tossed around as an insult, is actually, super-cool. Jeff Tweedy and his son have made a really excellent record. It's a double-album overstuffed with subtle, layered, perfectly realized music. I recommend you actually buy a CD. Check out the cool pictures and the lyric sheet. It's a personal, family-affair record.

Jeff Tweedy sometimes sounds like John Lennon to me. Which is just the highest compliment I can imagine. He's a great singer/songwriter, and underrated guitar player. Jeff just has a way about him. He comes across to me as a very committed, working artist. No bullshit. Just the good work.

I love some of the stripped down songs. They are my favorites. There are one or two songs that sound like they could be outtakes from other Wilco records - but hell, the two bands share the lead singer, the lead songwriter, and the driving force.

Still this record, this band, this approach, it holds it's own.  Superb on all levels! Highly recommended!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Slightly Benevolent Millionaire or Billionaire vs. Slightly Malevolent Millionaire or Billionaire (or Friends of $)

We used to be ruled by Kings and Queens. We assumed those Kings and Queens were very special people with some kind of mandate from God. Then there were all the other hangers on, you know, the Ruling Class.  Then, somewhere along the way, lots of folks figured out that the Kings and Queens were really just people in fancy clothes. For the most part we've done away with that mode of governing ourselves. And the change was kind of hard and a little messy. People lost their heads and got hung from posts and stamped into the dirt by mobs. Change can be messy.

We now use the ballot box to decide who gets to tell us what to do. Since we elect them, we expect them to tell us to do what we want them to tell us to do. I always vote. I like voting. But from the beginning, I realized I was always voting for people, not Super-heros, and people are flawed, and fallible, and contradictory. And they say lots of things, and promise things, and sometimes they try to do what they say they are going to do, and some of them will actually do the opposite of what they say they want to do. The people we elect are very much just like us!

Still, you've got to watch out for the ones who say one thing and do another. And some of these folks are really, really good at making you think one thing and doing another. That's talent! So yes, voting. Sometimes it's a case of voting for the slightly incompetent person, vs. the slightly malevolent person. But hell, it is a choice!

Now, in the USA, the land of $, we have decided that $ talks, and $ walks, and people who have $ or who can raise lots of $ are the ones who should be in charge. So often we are choosing between the Slightly Benevolent Millionaire or Billionaire, (or the good friend of lots of Millionaires or Billionaires) vs. the Slightly Malevolent Millionaire or Billionaire (or the good friend of lots of Millionaires or Billionaires).

The result - we are ruled by Millionaires, Billionaires (or good friends of Millionaires and Billionaires). Now maybe we think these folks have some kind of mandate from God, but in this case that God is $.  We expect the Filthy Rich, or the friends of the Filthy Rich will be nice to us, that they will make decisions good for us. Good for the Country.  But not sure if this makes any sense at all.

I think those Millionaires and Billionaires bow down to the mighty $, and they don't really see a "country" they just see lot of $$$$'s and opportunities to make more $. And if any of those $ trickle down to the common folk, well, it's probably just "leakage."

Anyway, not sure those Millionaires and Billionaires and friends of the $ really have any special mandate from God or special knowledge about anything. As Paul Krugman points out, they may not even have any special knowledge about money and how it works. So people with money, are they really qualified to be making decisions for us?  Probably not. They are just people with $ in their bank accounts. Nothing Kingly, and not so special, and well, it's not surprising that most of the country seems so disconnected from the moneyed class of people we have given the keys to the kingdom. $ rule. And the $ only serves the $!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

E.O. Wilson's Half Earth Movement!

How to save biodiversity? E.O. Wilson has an idea. A brilliant, crazy idea. Just the ticket! Let's set aside half of the planet for wildlife! Is it doable? Hell yes, why not?! All we have to do is convince all those small minds amongst us. But you know, as they say, consciousness can be "changed" in an instant! Put me in the crazy camp! Half Earth!

Wilson recently calculated that the only way humanity could stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would be to set aside half the planet as permanently protected areas for the ten million other species. “Half Earth,” in other words, as I began calling it—half for us, half for them. A version of this idea has been in circulation among conservationists for some time.
“It’s been in my mind for years,” Wilson told me, “that people haven’t been thinking big enough—even conservationists. Half Earth is the goal, but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang onto. I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish.”

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

So Like A Human!

The latest Global Warming Report is even bleaker and more dire than in the past. Our addiction to "fossil fuels" is leading us to a very hot and uninhabitable planet. At least uninhabitable for us.

And isn't there some kind of cosmic joke there? "Fossil fuels" are an energy source (oil, gas, coal) derived from "former life." And the addictive use of these fuels, will lead us to being a "former" life form by destroying the environment that spawned us. Fossil fuels will make us fossils. We are doing our best to make our own species just extinct as the dinosaurs.

And there seems to be nothing we can do to stop ourselves. We are fossil fuel Addicts. Using to a certain oblivion. Weird. Strange. So like a human!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Really Lame!

I don't like being cynical or snarky. Kind of goes against my nature. But I just heard three interviews with fellow citizens of this grand, teetering empire who intend to vote tomorrow.

All I heard was a sort of willful stupidity, a blatant prejudice and a counter-intuitive fear. What a great cocktail for a really lame political season.

No wonder.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Waiting to be Heard

Yesterday we spent our time in a recording studio, working on a batch of new songs. One track at a time. It's called "mixing" but that really is a misnomer. More like "sound sculpting." You have the raw tracks, the sounds - guitar, drums, bass, vocals and maybe an extra instrument like an organ or a double-bass. And then you lovingly and obsessively work over each and every little detail. In our session we had three sets of sharp ears listening to every last sound. And it turns out the more you listen, the more you hear.

We are committed to our "band's sound," real instruments in real time, but how the elements fit together, what goes where, what emerges, what is emphasized, what is de-emphasized, what is left out, is all left to what feels right. What's best for the song? There are lots of "in the moment" ideas and inspirations. Quick, intuitive decisions that give the song life.

Such a cool process. So fun and engaging. It's an art form itself. Sort of like being the Director/Editor of a film. Telling a story with a handful of elements. A couple new songs emerged into the light.  Some surprises along the way.  It's was like we "discovered" a song that was laying there in it's raw undifferentiated state, waiting to be heard.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Absurdly Simple!

I'm reading a book about Albert Camus. A famous "absurdist." While reading, after all these years, I realized that "philosophy" is really just trying on a "thinking cap." It's a way to think. Such a weighty subject, and a simple method. Made me think that lots of big, seemingly complicated things are actually very simple...

Philosophy - thinking how to think.

Meditation - learning how to breathe.

Music - discovering how to listen.

Life - living.

Friday, October 31, 2014

R&R Poet Does Not Disappoint!

What do I expect from my favorite writer, R&R poet, Shaman, and spirit-guide? I expect pithy insight - and enlightened commentary. And you know what? She does not disappoint...

"I can't say it's always been a happy life, but I like being alive." - Patti Smith

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cabal of Disgruntled Women?

Of course, as one of my good friends pointed out to me, the Ghomeshi thing (see previous post) isn't exactly a "he said/she said" kind of thing. It's a "he said/she said AND she said AND she said, AND she said" too thing. So yes, you have to believe that not only a disgruntled girlfriend is making stuff up, but that a little cabal of women are conspiring together. You know, kind of like those Weird Sisters in the beginning of "Macbeth."

And if your only defense (I'm paraphrasing) is that "Yes, well, I do have a weird kink in the bedroom, but it was all consensual," you need to make sure that all of your partners believe, and will say, that it was consensual too. Otherwise your understanding of "consensual" isn't really what you think it is.

So anyway, listened to Q last night. The show is one of my favorites. I think it will be fine without it's original voice. It will carry on. Sort of like the Tonight Show, or Pink Floyd.  Sometimes that original, defining voice can be transcended.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The "He Said, She Said" Thing is Always So Confusing!"

CBC fires Jian Ghomeshi Over Sex Allegations!

I hate those "he said, she said" kind of stories. You don't really know who is the perp and who is the victim. If you choose a side, you are just revealing your own bias. And people have no problem taking one side or the other, and totally denouncing those on the other side. So ugly.

And what is the truth? Hard to tell. Is it a case of a powerful, successful person, taking advantage of his position, or is it a case of a group of women "conspiring" to bring a good man down? 

The evidence is sketchy. Was it all consensual sex? Or was it aggressive uncalled for abuse? I have no great insight on this, except to say "who knows?!"

And then the lawyers will get involved, and then who has the better team of lawyers? Who has more money to spend? Who can demonize the other side more effectively? How do you decide what happened? And what is just?

It's all so murky, and muddy, and dark and confusing...

I did enjoy listening to Jian's show Q. I thought he was a charismatic, and gifted interviewer. He had a special interest in music, and I discovered lots of new music via his show: The Civil Wars, the xx, Shovels & Rope...

But there's the work and the man... and sometimes one does not really give us insight on the other... there's the mystery... what happened?!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yes. Our. Choices.

I've never read any of the Harry Potter books. I saw a scene or two from one of the movies. That's it for my exposure to the phenomenon. But I think I kind of get what they're about. I'm not against Harry Potter. I don't think it's "witchery" or pro-Satan. Or anything like that.

But I do have some really great friends and teachers who have read the books. And I always like to hear their insights on things they like about the books. One of my friends highlighted this quote. Yes. Choices. Absolutely!

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Professor Dumbledore, 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Priceless and Fleeting!

"All We Will Ever Have" - exactly. I mean this is exactly where my mind has been lately. This is so eloquent and on target.

"We look about us, on the streets, and in the subways, and we discover that we are beautiful because we are mortal, priceless because we are so rare in the universe, and so fleeting." - Philip Applebaum

Saturday, October 25, 2014

All We Have is Beauty!

All we get is a slender reed to cling to. That slender reed is beauty. It's the one quality that makes the world tolerable. Time is a beast. It looms over us, it's unending. We live in a blip of time, but the universe carries on for millions and millions of years. It carries on with or without us. People come and go. Life rolls on. We look for meaning, we look for purpose, we look for a reason to believe. We mainly get silence. A large looming, monolithic silence. There is light, color, sound. There is the play of elements. That's it. We see beauty in the play. Or not. It's up to us.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Talent Doesn't Exist!

Yeah, I don't think "talent" actually exists. And I think the term is way over-used, and mis-used, too. There are very few Mozarts composing symphonies at 3 years old, but that is so rare and unusual. I mean some people have "perfect pitch" or a wide vocal range, or can jump high, or hold a basketball with one hand, but those aren't really "talents," I would call them physical gifts.

So yes, there are some "gifted individuals" who have an advantage when it comes to some tasks and occupations. But most of us have to apply ourselves.  We must study, and practice. And really, really want to do something. And it's amazing what we can do if we really get obsessed with doing it. We can do extraordinary things, even if we are just ordinary human beings. And sometimes it's our flaws, our lacks, our deficits, which propel us forward to be creative and enterprising, and to even work harder.

When someone says they don't have a "talent" for something, they are just taking themselves out of the game - it's like they just don't have the real "want to." Which is OK. Not all games are for all folks. We are drawn to some things and repelled by others, that's just part of our individual, unique personalities. But look at the history of art or music or business, or even sports, whatever you can think of, and marvel at all those hard-working "talentless" people who worked harder, practiced more, tried out more things, thought creatively and "out of the box," and who did, or are doing, amazing things.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Thing About "Art!"

That's the thing about "Art." Some times there is a very thin line between what's extraordinarily great,  profound and enlightening, and what's embarrassingly lame, poorly-executed and terrible. And it's all in the "eye of the beholder." And often this line shifts around over time. What may have once been considered a terrible mistake is now considered an essential, perfectly-conceived work. And vice versa. "Art" is just so damn nebulous too. I think that's why we love it. Can't pin it down. Can't contain it. Can't really understand it either. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bad Feelings and Noxious Vibes

Yesterday, as per Arlo Guthrie, I was just "sitting on the Group W Bench," minding my own business, when I was suddenly totally overwhelmed with bad feelings and noxious vibes. Where the hell did they come from? Waves of despair, worthlessness, and futility totally washed over me.

My mind and my body were permeated with these feelings of darkness. No clue what triggered it. Was it the cloudy day? The barometric pressure? Something I ate? Bad chemistry? Some kind of precognition? Who knows? 

I carried these dark feelings with me during the long, bleak day. I plowed on through. When I got home, I plunged into my own little flow activities. Made dinner. Played my guitar. Sang songs. Slowly, almost imperceptibly the darkness evaporated. 

This morning, I feel empty, and clear. The storm has passed. Where did it come from? Where did it go?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Complete Basement Noise!



The Complete Basement Tapes is to be released in November. I am going to have to dig deep into my pockets to get a copy. I mean, I do have the 1975 version, which has a pretty nice selection of songs, and I also have a burned copy of a bootleg version that had more songs, but looking at the track list of this version just looks so tempting. All the juicy bits!

This is probably the most famous and influential set of songs ever recorded in a basement - okay, maybe Exile on Main Street ranks up there too. Still this is an amazing collection of music from Dylan and the Band, chilling out, smoking dope, playing covers and originals. You can hear a ramshackle, laid-back ease and joy in the tracks. And what's funny and amazing, Dylan pretty much walked away from this music and moved on to other things.

These were raw tracks, not meant to see the light of day. And some of the songs are among the greatest songs Dylan ever wrote: Tears of Rage, I Shall Be Released, Goin to Acapulco, Sign on the Cross, I'm Not There, Clothes Line Saga. And some of them were never played again. Amazing. There is just an overpowering sense of creativity, oozing from every last track. Some of the tracks are messy, and there are false starts, and there's laughter, and that all makes it that much more exciting and mind-blowing. You hear Dylan relaxed and having fun, playing with his greatest backing band - just for the hell of it.

Love some of the covers they do too: Big River, You Win Again, Folsom Prison Blues...

The absolute complete best!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wisdom & Oblivion!

As Dylan famously sang in the basement, "too much of nothing," can be a bad thing. Turns out too much of something isn't a good thing either. It's all about the portions. Sometimes the right amount of poison can actually be "good for you."

And I think as I once said, "too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing." According to Wm. Blake, "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom," but you know that little dude was kind of a joker, and that line comes from his little missile "Marriage of Heaven and Hell," and the quote is one of his Proverbs from Hell!  

The road of excess can also lead to oblivion... and maybe sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between wisdom and oblivion, but I think there really is a difference!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Found My Voice!

I got it into my head that I wanted to master the art of harmony singing. Really. I can always find time for my own crazy obsessions, and I happen to be living on my own right now with 4 little birds. And the birds have no real say in what I do, or don't do.

So, armed with a little digital recorder, a set of headphones, an acoustic guitar, and my voice, I have been singing and recording cover songs and working out harmony parts, and then overdubbing those parts. I didn't even realize I could do it. So just the doing is sort of empowering. 

I'm not saying it all sounds great, my voice is an acquired taste, even for me, but I have been surprised at my own vocal range. I can hear the notes in a chord and then sing the note. So I've worked out duo parts and trio parts. How self-indulgent. A duo and trio of me!

I guess in a way, it's sort of a very particular kind of "self abuse!" I do wonder about the neighbors, but hell, it's a free country, right?! Some of the songs I'm singing include: Dead Flowers by the Stones, Knocking on Heaven's Door by Dylan, Rain by the Beatles, Baby it's You by the Shirelles (the Beatles covered it too), and Redemption Song by Bob Marley.

Some of my all-time favorite songs. Anyway, I don't own the copyright on any of these songs, so I won't be posting them anywhere. It's all just practice. But it is all consuming. It's the good work. I have found my voice! After all this time...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Go Your Own Way!

If you are a human being, you should remember that you are a human being, and you are very much like all the other human beings on the planet. Our similarities are overwhelming. Whatever surface differences exist really are surface. We all have characteristics unique to us, but still we are also essentially the same.

At the same time, those unique characteristics really are unique to us. They are important and in small ways they are absolutely essential to what make us us. We really are goddamned snowflakes too. And what works for one goddamned snowflake might not work for another.

So what we do, what we eat, how we sleep, what we think, how we deal with life and stress, all of these things really are unique to us. And we should be happy to embrace our own unique ways. As Lindsey Buckingham once sang, "You can go your own way."

It's really the best advice I could pass onto to someone, if for some odd reason they were asking for advice from me.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Clean Green Cold Fusion - Magic Bullet?

Sometimes you get the impression that our species is hurtling towards a certain doom. But you know, people have been thinking apocalyptic thoughts from the beginning. And the human waves just keep rolling out. I mean, if you think far enough ahead, the sun burns out and the universe collapses. But we won't be around to see it happen, and that is a long, long time away.

We don't know how things will work out for our species in the medium term either. Most of us came on the scene in the middle, and we will leave in the middle too. We won't be around to see how it all works out.

John Robb tells us that our real existential threat is "a corrupt decision making system." We are a "smart" (although maybe not as smart as we think we are) and adaptable species - "... if our social decision making systems are sound, we'll avoid catastrophe. If not, disaster."

So, there's that. And then you hear about Google working on driverless cars, and Green technology improving by leaps and bounds, and then you read about Lockheed Martin, one of those great Military industrialists, working on clean, green cold fusion power and you think "magic bullet!"

And well it would be like one of those classic Greek plays where the "Deus Ex Machina" comes and saves the day.  Makes good drama.  So yes, there's hope. Always hope. And well, maybe we're not so smart, and not so dumb, but we are really really adaptable. And that's sorta, kinda encouraging...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

U2 - House Band for the Establishment!

Bono and U2 are the gift that keeps on giving. Probably not in the way they planned it. Bono actually kind of sort of "apologized" for "putting U2's album in everyone's iCloud library."

Bono: "I had this beautiful idea. Might have gotten carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that kind of thing.  A drop of megalomania, a touch of generosity, a dash of self-promotion, and a deep fear that these songs we poured our life into over the last few years might not be heard."

This after he and band cashed in their chips and took their $100 million from Apple to the bank.  Ha! Bono wants his cake and to eat it too. Guess you can't blame him. Bono wants to be rich, famous, successful, popular, and cool! Sorry. Doesn't work that way.

As Josh Wimmer, another disgruntled U2 fan puts it: "The worst part of being a U2 fan is just how goddamned uncool U2 is."

Yes, exactly. And "coolness" is a super slippery and elusive thing. You can't manufacture it. You can't will it. You can't really do anything to earn it. It just descends or not. You wear it like aura or not. You carry it or not. 

Love this from Josh: "... it's hard not to describe their 21st century incarnation as the house band for the establishment." Perfect! He then goes to suggest ways U2 can do things to try to earn back their "coolness." Which is a fool's errand. There's nothing to do, or can be done, to earn it back.

Which is not to say that U2 can't be cool again. But events would need to conspire. And it's hard to see how it could happen. I'm not saying U2 is fated to be thought of in the same way as Vanilla Ice, or Milli Vanilli, or M.C. Hammer, or... fill in the blank. There is a price to be paid for being "house band for the establishment." You cash in your cool card and you may never get it back.

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