WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Friday, January 31, 2014

How You Got Here!

You generally have a "sunny" disposition, but you also often wear apocalyptic glasses. You are a positive thinker and you tend to believe in a better future, but you can also envision the grand edifice, the mad, multi-headed beast of human society that we have constructed, imploding, and crashing into a million tiny pieces.

You can enjoy the day, but you can marvel at the ignorance and blind stupidity that rules much of human activity. You see beauty and humor all around you, and at the same time, you see the deadly, crazy-making mindset that compels humans to be so blood-thirsty and selfish.

You marvel at the contradictions of existence. You wonder how you got here. You hope for the best, even as you catalog the daily, mindless acts of outrage.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ringo Starr - R&R Diety!

Sure, it's easy being a holy person if you are born into it, or reincarnated into it. I'm thinking about you Dali Lama.  I mean, if you are born into a world of holiness, and treated like the next version of the Buddha or something, well, you probably have a leg up on being a wise person, a transcendent being. And yes, the Dali Lama fits the bill.

But what if you were born a sickly child? Big ears, big nose. Spent a lot of time in bed, trying to overcome various illnesses? And what if you spent a lot of time in bars and clubs in a working class city, a neighborhood of toughs and sailors?

And maybe you were a drummer in a really, really popular band. I mean in an insanely, irrationally, maniacally crazy kind of popular way.  And somehow, you came out of it relatively intact. You didn't become a total asshole, you didn't let your ego blow up to mega-proportions. You actually emerged as a total class-act.

You did everything with humor and grace and class. And you were funny and kind and humble, and well you preached peace and love. And you were clean and sober, and a vegetarian to boot. And you really were/are a fabulous drummer, with a track record unmatched by anyone else on the planet.

And that band you were in, well, 50 years after their wildly received debut on a big American TV show, people are still listening to your music and reveling in the joy and energy and over-powering creativity of that little 4 person outfit.

Well, if all that were true, you'd be Ringo Starr - R&R Diety! Rock on Ringo!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hate Your Boss!

It's gratifying to hear the truth.  Some times it only comes in little dribs and drabs. Little nuggets of truth kind of poke up from this great ball of lies and confusion.

"Voters hate their bosses." When people hear "job creator" they understand, "Boss."  People hate their bosses. How true. Amen.  This is coming from a Republican. How can this hatred be corralled into a new political movement?

Hate your boss! Viva la Revolution!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chip on Your Shoulder

"Is that a chip on your shoulder? It's a sizable chip. Must make it hard to walk. It's better to be light on your feet. You should lose the chip… No, it's not an asset... Really... OK... If it works for you, I guess, I'd say, 'different strokes for different folks.' You gonna dare someone to knock it off? That's just that old macho bullshit.  Really? Are you sure? A chip, right? On your shoulder? Hah!"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Take it Personally!

It's probably best not to take the weather personally. I mean, it's kind of hard, when you are being pummeled by the wind, when the temps make your fingers and toes freeze, when snow falls down upon your head, when you have to wrap yourself up like a layered mummy just to even step outside for a minute or two.

The freezing cold, yes, the polar vortex-type weather makes it hard to breathe. Yes, the sub-zero freeze seems to sit on your head, and on your chest, and just dare you to come outside for some punishment. So yes, the weather seems like a punishment, and it seems like you are being punished. You personally.

And you ask yourself, "Why?" If there is a god, why is god punishing me? Or the universe. Why would the universe go out of it's way to make things so uncomfortable for me? It's probably best not to take the weather personally… but, it's hard. Really hard.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

That's Our World

No great insight today. Maybe just stating the obvious. We are survivors. And we celebrate the survivors. Those who carry on through adversity. Those who have discipline. And prevail against the odds. And the odds are always stacked in opposition.

But you only survive until you don't. And it can all end in a blink of the eye. Any moment. That's just the way it is, and you need to get your head around that if you want to live, for real.  We are here. And everything is possible. But there's only a brief window of opportunity. And we don't know how brief. That's our world.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

There Will Be A Spring!

Yes, well, the cold. The freezing. The absolutely numbing cold. It has descended here. There is a closing down, a closing in. You wrap yourself up in layers, you are like a walking zombie. One step. One step. Make sure you don't slip on the ice. Your world is closed to the smallest increments. You can't help but recoil. Makes you want to hide. To curl up next to a fire and wait for spring.  There will be a spring, right?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bieber's Jailhouse Rock!

I must say I know very little about Justin Bieber. And I'm not gonna bother looking him up! He's a young singer right? He was just in the news for driving his Lamborgini really fast in a residential neighborhood.  Didn't pass a sobriety test.  Ended up in the dock.  But really, look at the hair! So rock and roll. A little James Dean, a little Elvis.  I don't know if this young dude has the chops as a singer, but he's got that rebel, rock and roll look. You must admire his grooming skills! Even in the county jail! Pass the mousse Dude!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Essential 5

Lately some friends of mine have played that game of naming records that "changed their lives." It's been kicking around in my head. Yesterday, taking shelter from the bitter cold, I decided to fill the CD carousel with my choices.  This carousel only holds 5 CDs, so here are the 5.  I put them on shuffle and listened to the tracks in a randomized order.  All the songs stood toe to toe with each other.  All of these records still resonate with me very, very deeply.  They help make me who I am today. Yes, really.

1. John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band --- Lennon's first post-Beatles record. Stripped down, elemental truth. Powerful, razor sharp with great production by Phil Spector.  The wall of sound reverb meets bass, drums, guitar, piano and Lennon's amazing, heartfelt, cutting voice.  Still brings chills.

2. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 --- A blast of exuberance. Funny, over the top, genre busting. No one ever recorded songs like this before. Dylan fronting an incredible band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. A shock. A blast. Mind-bending. Dylan never sounded more engaged, more intense, more alive and funny.

3. Neil Young - Tonight's the Night --- Shakey's "dark night of the soul." A death-haunted record. A great band pushed to the ragged edge. Raw, bleak, darkly funny. Neil opens up a vein.  Spooky and cool.  L.A. Dark shades. Bleary nights. Filled with flaws, quirks - perfect.

4. The Rolling Stones - Let it Bleed --- The Stones at their darkest. Decadent blues, desiccated country. Perfectly realized r&r.  Jagger and Richards at the peak of their collaboration.  Perfectly recorded and produced by Jimmy Miller.  The Stones made other great records, but this one is complete. Flawless. Thrilling.

5. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Everybody Knows this is Nowhere --- Neil emerges with the first and greatest Crazy Horse lineup. Danny Whitten on vocals and guitar is the secret weapon.  Long guitar jams. Overpowering sound. Funky. Cool. Sad. And when the "Horse" kicks it up, there is nothing better.

UPDATE: This was cross-posted over at whitewolfsonicprincess r&r diary!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You'd Like To Fly!

You'd like to fly. You think you know how. You have seen yourself fly in your dreams. You have experienced soaring in the air. You have experienced the feeling of spreading your arms, and taking flight.  

Sometimes you seem so heavy. So earth-bound. You know this isn't the only way. You know you can fly. You can feel it in your bones. You can see yourself up in the clouds. Light. Graceful. Free.  You can see it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Believing Things!

You believe in evolution. You believe in re-invention. You believe in renewal. You believe in fresh starts. You believe in play. You believe in creativity. You believe in imagination. You believe in following your dreams. You believe in spirit, and heart and integrity. You believe in responsibility. You believe in a better world. You believe in conservation. You believe in science. You believe in accountability. You believe in forgiveness. You believe in action. You believe in love. You believe in courage. You believe in truth (even if you don't know what it always is).

You believe in believing the things you believe in.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Have Met My Match!

"Yes, well, of course he's lovable. That's true and obvious. And I guess I do "love" him. But he's also "butt ugly." He drools, and pants, and snores like a freight train, and when he farts, well, you need to clear the premises pronto. He's on meds, but I don't know what the meds do, they don't seem to mellow him out or anything. He's a randy, humping force of nature. I have met my match. There's nothing to do with him. He is who he is, and that's the end of it. Being in his orbit for a few days has totally whacked me out…I just need to find a quiet corner, sit alone and try to recharge.  I've had my fill of Bruce. Too much Bruce. Overdosed on Bruce!"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Unredeemables!

Yes, I'm in the camp of those who loved Martin Scorcese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." It's funny I've come across lots of people who did not like it. Or maybe it's more accurate to say they loathed it.

It seems in Pop Culture we can tolerate and even elevate all kinds of transgressive characters into mythological status.  I mean, we love the Hookers and the Hit Men. We love our Mobsters, our Drug Dealers. We can even imagine interesting "genius" Serial Killers.

But "Wolf" shows us that some characters are just not appealing at all... these are the lowest of the low, the totally unredeemable ones... I am talking about, of course, the Financial Services Salesmen! And yes, well, I do understand the loathing... yes, I do. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Global Everything Present Now!

Douglas Rushkoff tells us "How Technology Killed the Future."   I totally get it. He frames it all in a political context, but I think this idea transcends politics and bleeds across our consciousness into and thru our media-saturated society, and global culture, and changes not only politics, but every aspect of our lives. How we think of ourselves, and how we live in the world. 

The ever-expanding, "Present Now," has swallowed up the past and obliterated the future.  We no longer have a need for the future. And the past is no longer past, it's always available to us through our vast and varied communication technologies. 

So yes, no "future thinking," or "future plans" just the GLOBAL EVERYTHING NOW PRESENT! It's the vast in-the-moment moment.  Our flashy gizmos, flickering screens, and constantly updating Twitter-feed existence is all-consuming.

And yes, well, if you believe the now growing frantic Climate Change Crowd (and I dare say, you should), the future for human beings is pretty dicey. And if we keep our heads only in the present… well, the present may come to a  very unpleasant halt in the not so distant future… I mean even if we don't believe in a future...

Friday, January 17, 2014

"She just didn't want to…" - N. Cave

Nick Cave(and Grinderman), what can you say… rage, rage against the dying of the light!  

"Your limitations make you the wonderful disaster you most probably are.

Being on stage meant I got to be that person I always wanted to be. Then, you look down into the front row, and someone yawns." - N.C.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Confidence Game = Confidence!

So yes, if we take "con game" to be slang for a confidence game… can't we apply it broadly to much of our lives, and to our great American "can do" spirit? And really isn't the whole "power of positive thinking" enterprise just an elaborate con game?

And isn't Stuart Smalley's - "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and dog gone, people like me," just a great personal con?

Or that Little Engine that Could? "I think I can, I think I can…"

And if we dream and try to do anything new, create something that hasn't existed before, don't we have to con ourselves into thinking that it will work out, that we will have success despite all the odds against success? And isn't it people who successfully con themselves into taking a chance, who are the ones who do take a chance?

So yes, the con game. For ourselves and others too...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

American Dream/American Con

The American Dream/The American Con…

Yes, they go together. They are inextricably linked.  The Dreamer dreams a dream and then tries to get others to dream too and maybe separates them from a little bit of cash to be applied to the dream.

The Con Man (selling confidence) sells a dream and then tries to get others to dream the dream with him, and also separates them from a little bit of cash to be applied to the dream.

The Dream is a dream. And some live the dream. And some just get to dream. And some of us con ourselves and others, and some times the con pays off, and sometimes it doesn't.

Steve Jobs and Jordan Belfort are not so different. Both are con men. Both were selling "confidence." One becomes a business world hero, the other becomes a convict.

It's a thin line separating the two Cons...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Imitation Anything!

Google the word imitation and you get… imitation crab, imitation of life, imitation of Christ…

Imitation. Imitation anything, such as imitation cheese!?  My advice? Avoid. Avoid at all costs! Just take my word for it.  Do not get or consume imitation anything. If you are gonna get, gonna consume, get the real deal. Not a copy. Not an imitation. Really. I mean it!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Maybe Not So Surprising!

Well, maybe it isn't really all that surprising. Turns out cake, whiskey, a night of Elvis songs - singing and playing through the evening = Pure Joy.  I mean, throw in some great conversation, lots of laughter, and a little bit of insight, and it all adds up to a satisfying evening. Good vibes and a great time. Our songs held their own. We did our best to command the room when it was our chance to shine. And shine we did!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cake, Whiskey and Elvis! Mercy!

It's finally here. The Cake and Whiskey Club presents "Hunka Hunka Bourbon Love" tonight at the Homegrown Cafe. Our band whitewolfsonicprincess (acoustic duo with second guest guitar), will play a mini-set of Elvis songs. This is a cool concept created by our friend Carlo Garcia.  Every month the Cake and Whiskey club hosts an event featuring a whiskey, a cake and a musical theme.  We are honored to be part of this one.

Picking Elvis songs was a challenge. And at first, I didn't think it was gonna work for us. The trick is to find songs that you have some kind of connection to, or songs that you can sort of "make your own." It took some work, but we finally came up with a little set that sits well with us. Yesterday we had our last rehearsal and it was a deeply rewarding session.

Hope it works for the audience tonight!  Happy to say this one is sold out! Should be a good rocking time!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

An Elected Oligarchy!

OK it's official… we really are "ruled" by millionaires.  And even if our representatives are elected by "the people," it just so happens that this country works much less like a democracy and much more like an oligarchy! We are ruled by the few, the elite, and we willingly go along. It's a freely elected oligarchy.  

And here's what voting really means (this is not cynical or jaded, just realistic - I vote, even if I think it's often pointless) - our choices are usually between a very rich, very conservative, right-wing ideologue backed by other rich people and big corporations VS.  a very rich, somewhat less conservative person, a supposed  "moderate," backed by other rich people and big corporations.

The right winger is rich and basically doesn't give damn for anyone but other rich folk, (they despise the poor), and the moderate sort of gives a damn, or at least pretends to, and maybe once in awhile tosses a crumb to the huddling, seething, masses.  There's your choice! That's Democracy, baby!

The rules of the game of society are made by those millionaires, and surprise, surprise those rules seem to always favor the millionaires over the vast majority of the people. We all act like it's some kind of divine right of the rich.  Maybe it's a hangover from the time of Kings? And if we are punished or ignored, well, we are just the poor schlubs… maybe those rich people will be kind to us, or maybe somehow, some way (the lottery?), we will one day join the club too?

And yes, well, we hope to be like those rich ones. And we toil away. And hope they will look kindly on our days of toil. But of course, they can't really be bothered, they are too busy being rich!

Friday, January 10, 2014

3 Chords and the Truth!

One of the surprises in my life has been that old news is often new news, and those old, worn shabby cliches (at least some of them) that you have heard a million times actually are true. Now this does not mean we should look at the world with "tired eyes," we should not stop looking at the world, we should not assume that we know everything already, we should not become blasé or jaded, we should always be on the look-out for the new, the unconventional, and we should always be open to the idea that "everything we know is wrong."

So really the surprise is that, yes, a lot of those old cliches are true AND everything you know is wrong!  Case in point… "Three Chords and the Truth!"  It's a tired old phrase, and a new album just released by an old bluegrass master named James King. This came out at the same time I've been working on some old rock and roll songs. And yes, well the three chord thing is absolutely true.  The best of blues, bluegrass, rock, rockabilly, country, punk - three chords is more than enough for sure. Anything beyond three chords is jazz or classical or some kind of avant garde thing!

And well, it's songs about "truth" that make the biggest impact. I guess I mean some kind of emotional truth. Those are the songs that really resonate. There is a universe of music and emotion in three chords and "the truth." And you learn that playing less (less chords, less notes) is more all the time.  You delve deep into the essential, and you find that the essential really is everything...

Thursday, January 09, 2014

It's Not Always Pretty!

One of the knocks against Scorcese's new movie is that it "glorifies" low-lifes and scumbags. This is funny. Just by putting a camera on a character it somehow glorifies that character? I suppose you could say the same of just about any movie Scorcese has ever made.  Think Jake Lamotta, or Tony Spilotro, or Henry Hill, or Frank Rosenthal, or Travis Bickle.  A pretty motley, low-life crew.

Where does Jordan Belfort fit in this spectrum? Well, he ripped off a lot of people. But he didn't kill anyone. Oh yeah, he did more drugs, had more sex, and lived a lifestyle of bling that would put Caligua to shame, but compared to the mobsters in "Good Fellas" or in "Casino" Belfort's crimes fall short of the brutality of some of those thugs and murderers.

And if we took out novels and plays and movies about low-lifes and scumbags, we'd have to forget about some the great works from some of my favorites, including plays and novels from these guys: Shakespeare, Dostoyevski, Nelson Algren, Charles Bukowski, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac, Hubert Selby Jr., Sam Shepard, etc. … and most of David Lynch's work and the best films of Francis Coppola too!

I think these guys and Scorcese tell very,very human stories, stories about humans… and it's not always pretty, not always uplifting, but most of the time very illuminating!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Matter of Cinema!

As you may know, if you happened to read a previous post of  mine, I loved Martin Scorcese's new movie. It has created some controversy. Some people were turned off by the movie, turned off by the people in it, and criticized Scorcese for spending 3 hours telling Jordan Belfort's story in vivid, and exhausting detail.

I was surprised when one of my writer friends actually said she was "boycotting" the movie, sight unseen, and attacked Scorcese for making it.  To me that seems so counter to the whole creative endeavor. I mean, I can understand not going to see a film, but to criticize it without actually seeing it, seems indefensible.  I mean, hell, I don't go to see any Sandra Bullock movies, she sort of makes my skin crawl, but I don't feel like I have any right to actually speak about her movies since I haven't actually sat through any of them.

And well, I am convinced that "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a great film. But I don't really think I need to try to convince anyone one way or the other. See it, or don't see it. Do I think Belfort is admirable? No. Do I think he is an interesting, compelling character? Yes. Do I think the three hours were well spent? Absolutely.

Scorcese wrote an "open letter" to his daughter about the "future of film."  It's worth reading. Loved this…

"You have to be absolutely dedicated to the work, you have to give everything of yourself, and you have to protect the spark of connection that drove you to make the picture in the first place. You have to protect it with your life. In the past, because making movies was so expensive, we had to protect against exhaustion and compromise. In the future, you’ll have to steel yourself against something else: the temptation to go with the flow, and allow the movie to drift and float away.

This isn’t just a matter of cinema. There are no shortcuts to anything. I’m not saying that everything has to be difficult. I’m saying that the voice that sparks you is your voice – that’s the inner light, as the Quakers put it.

That’s you. That’s the truth." - Martin Scorcese

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sub-Zero Survival!

Tramping, trudging, slogging, slipping, sliding. Wrapped like a mummy in layers and layers of fabric… that's how it goes out in the sub-sub-sub-zero temps...

Monday, January 06, 2014

Beat the Deep Freeze!

If you've ever seen Game of Thrones, you have often heard the line, "Winter is coming." Yes, well, John Snow, winter is here in the Windy City.  They are saying wind-chills of -40 today.  Now, that's cold brothers and sisters.

Yesterday how did we beat the deep freeze? We didn't venture out. We had a kitchen session.  We set up our little p.a. with 3 microphones and two acoustic guitar inputs and played music. It was warm and cozy.  The radiators were playing a tune too.

Two guitars, three voices doing Elvis songs. And surprise, surprise the songs are really rounding into form.  We did a little bit of "arranging," changed some tempos, added a few little flourishes, and really made these songs "ours."

It was very encouraging. Bodes well for the show next weekend… now we need to slog thru and get there! 

Here's our little 5 song set-list: Now and Then, Suspicious Minds, Fool Fool Fool, I Forgot to Remember to Forget, That's Alright Mama...

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Just Marvel and Smile

"Trying to see as God sees…" I think we do this all the time. Or try to. Even if we don't believe in the concept. And I think this "god-like" seeing does sometimes elevate us. Especially if we end up marveling and wondering at the splendor of the universe.

Although, no doubt, it also leads to hubris and arrogance, and ignorance and lots and lots of our problems. Our man vs. man problems. Playing god, thinking like god, or speaking for god, is a deadly trap.

But this little mashup of music and image… is so beautiful and amazing, and sort of takes your breath away… Think of a silent, powerless god who could see all of this, and just marvel... and smile…




Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Expectations Game

I don't know if it works like this for you, as it does for me, but time and time again Low expectations = High payoff. 

I wonder if we set ourselves to "no expectations" at all, maybe everything we experienced would be experienced as it really is, and that "is" would often be amazing… Maybe.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Change

Change… is it possible? Is it inevitable? Or illusory? Does it come from intention? Or does it just happen?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

You Think It Shouldn't Work!

You think this movie by Spike Jonze shouldn't work. And the description - "A man falls in love with an operating system," doesn't really capture or explain it at all. I found this movie profoundly, deeply, and totally moving. It makes you see the world and your place in it in a new way. I found it renewing, a healing, a clearing. Life-affirming and beautifully realized.

It asks all the big questions - "What is love? What is life? What is reality? How do we connect with others? How do we feel? What makes life worth living?"

And it opens you up in a totally new and subtle way. There are so many layers to this film. It's a mystery. A beauty. Genius.  Really. With a light touch, and lots of intelligence. Amazing.


 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Pork Rectums - Yum!

Happy 2014! 

I thought this story about "imitation calamari" consisting of pork rectums on "This American Life," which hasn't' aired here yet, and which I haven't heard yet, and which may be just a joke, and may not be true, but should be true, because it is so emblematic of so much of the American Way of life and of capitalism, would make a great first blog post for the new year.

I mean, we don't know what we are eating. We must trust the food industry. And time and time again the food processors have proven to be low-lifes and scoundrels, and pork butt-holes are the same shape and consistency of calamari, so you could see someone coming up with the idea of making a switcheroo.  And hell, who would know the difference?

And you have to admire the audacity of it. And also how it seems just as innovative and ethical as "credit default swaps" or "mortgage securities," or all the other imitation crap that people pass off for quality every day in the market place.

Yes. Pork assholes… perfect! Welcome to America 2014!

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