Vote Blue 2020

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Low Battery!

If you are the Caretaker...

If you are the Caretaker you take care of the manor house. The family who lives here blew out of town in a last-minute rush. It was almost like an Alien Spaceship evacuation. Food still on the table. Shoes and clothes strewn about. One day the family up and vanished and the Caretaker comes to fill the void. It's strange living in one of these massive dark manor homes on the edge of the lake. So big. So many empty rooms. Plush, comfortable, palatial. Can't imagine how people live here.

It's me and the dog. Yesterday, we had guests. An alarm went off in the kitchen (who even knew there was an alarm, I mean, I've been Caretaker for years, never set an alarm, never knew there was one to set), a quiet little beeping. Of course, the dog and I were in a totally different part of the house, didn't hear a thing. We were watching football on TV, about the most perfect time-waster invented. We heard voices coming from the kitchen.

The dog goes into a barking fit. I get up and head to the sound of voices. Two young cops in full regalia - bulky, bullet-proof vests, billy-clubs on the side, holstered revolvers, body-cams, comms devices, fully loaded officers of the law, full metal jackets, are standing in the kitchen, a little beeping in the corner, the dog getting loud and unruly.

I must say I was "dis-oriented," didn't really understand what was going on. How did two cops get in here? I can't really convey how strange and surreal it was for me to be confronted by two cops in the kitchen. I did flash on all those little videos we've all seen of cops and citizens accidentally working themselves into violent tragedies, misunderstandings, miscalculations, mistakes, bullets and bodies. A little chill went down my spine. "Hi. What's going on?"

The cops were young, wary, suspicious, but courteous at the same time. I suppose I am not the typical "home invader" profile. Luckily, we were all the same "color," if you know what I mean.

One of the cops - "We responded to the alarm." Me - "What alarm?" Cop (suspicious) - "You don't hear an alarm?" The beeping is now louder. Me - "Oh, yeah." I walk over to the alarm next to the door. Cop - "You know how to turn it off?" Me - "I think so." I press the off button. End of beeping.

I explain to the cops that I'm the Caretaker. They take my name and number and wish me a good day. Then they are gone. They vanish so quickly, I wonder if they were really there to begin with. Did that really happen? Surreal. What happened? What's the answer? Low battery!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Incarnation It's a Big Job!

Incarnation: "the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form," right, that's the gig. As the Guru said, "Be Here Now." Not as easy as it sounds. There's the past, the future, there's denial, and ignorance. All the little games we play. How to be us, totally us, in our skins, in our spirit, in the moment, every moment, every breath, knowing that any breath can be our last. And that's part of the incarnation too. Who we are now, this moment, who will be when we won't be. It's a big job.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Light from the Shadows Shall Spring!

Dreaming of Goblets of Gold...

That seems so unlike me, but it's true, last night I was dreaming of goblets of gold. I woke up confused. If you were to ask, "what motivates you?" Gold would be a bit lower down on the list for me. Really. Truly. Which may be one of my major flaws this time around in my human suit, especially since I am just another tiny cog in this massive, ever-raging, always-on, devouring-everything, capitalistic perpetual motion machine.

$. That's everything for some of us. So, anyway, this morning I go to the great Google and ask, "what does dreaming of goblets of gold mean?" This comes up first: 

"A dream of gold coin indicates that you need to work harder to achieve a royal and rich lifestyle. Take it as a sign that your efforts will surely get you unexpected gains and make you earn more than normal. Finding gold in a dream means that the dreamer will accomplish great things and attain the goals which he has set for himself."

"Work harder to achieve a royal and rich lifestyle." Find my inner Gollum, ok got it. This puts me in the mind of J.R. Tolkien...

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, 
a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Some days it's heroic just to "go on."

Yesterday was one of those "Samuel Beckett" kind of days“You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.” Yes. Some days it's heroic just to "go on." A slow, steady, constant rain. Basically the worst kind of weather for someone who must be out in the weather. I was out most of the day. Wet, cold, hot, sweaty,  crunchy, grouchy, slowly trudging along in the mud, the muck, the shit.

I would have sworn at the gods, but I think they high-tailed it to sunnier climes. Why bother?

So, I carried on. I mean, I don't deserve a medal or anything. I just did all the things I had to do. I just did them. Not really heroic at all, pretty mundane. Nothing great. Nothing extraordinary. Just survived. And then, afterwards, I kind of collapsed into a little ball, a fetal position, sprawled out on the living room oriental carpet and listened to a random mix of records: Jeff Tweedy's "Warm," Modest Mouse's "The Moon & Antartica" & "The Lonesome Crowded West," Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell's "Hawk," & "Ballad of the Broken Sea," and Uncle Tupelo's "No Depression." Pretty nice mix there.

I recharged a bit in my little sonic bathtub. Noisy, mellow, cool, tragic, funny, beautiful, thrilling. It was good. I made it. Great. What's next?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hippocrates Was One Smart Greek!

Food is medicine....

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates

Hippocrates seemed like a smart guy. He was "ahead of his time when, around the year 400 B.C, he advised people to prevent and treat diseases first and foremost by eating a nutrient-dense diet."

I do think our bodies (and minds, connected, don't you know?), are sick from so much junk food. And then we take medication to compensate for our bad diets. We fill our bodies with junk, then take pharmaceuticals to combat the effects of the junk, then our bodies react to the pharmaceuticals, compounding and multiplying our problems.  It's a conundrum of unhealthiness. We are entrapped in a cycle of sickness.

We should all be much smarter, eat much smarter, eat to be healthy, and be wary and skeptical of those all those pill-pushing doctors who always have the latest in snake-oil pharmecuticals! Come on people, let's get it together!

"Nutrient deficiencies and toxicity from a poor diet are linked to nearly all modern health conditions. John Hopkins University reports that some 80 percent of cancer patients are believed to be malnourished, and that treatments used to battle cancer (like chemotherapy) only increase the body’s need for nutrients and very high-quality foods even more. (1) You probably already know that diabetes and heart disease (currently the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and most industrialized nations) are also illnesses that are highly influenced by one’s diet — and the same can be said for allergies, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, thyroid disorders and many more."

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

If You are Jeff...

If you are Jeff Tweedy, you get to make a recording at your own studio, The Loft in Chicago, you get to play your 1930's era Martin 0-18 on every track of the recording, you get to make a really warm, beautiful, intimate solo album entitled, "Warm." You get to write all the songs, lyrics and music, you get to play almost all of the instruments on the album, with a few notable contributions, primarily from your son Spencer and Wilco's great Glen Kotche, both on drums. You get to reveal another side of your magnificent song-writing abilities, you get to reflect on a life well-lived. You get to face mortality in the lines of a song. And you get the great writer George Saunders to write your liner notes. And it turns out that Saunders liner notes are their own  little bit of masterpiece. Not a bad present to find under the Christmas tree yesterday morning.

We played the record over and over, all day yesterday, helped make Christmas day 2018 pretty damn special. Here's a bit of text from George Saunders' liner notes:

"Jeff is, to my mind, a warrior for kindness, who has made tenderness an acceptable rock-and-roll virtue. By “tenderness” I don’t mean that New Age thing, where someone drives a spike through your head and you place hands palm to palm and do a cheesy deep bow while thanking them for the new coat rack. No: Tweedy-tenderness is sophisticated and badass and funny. It proceeds from strength and good humor and does not preclude being angry or tough or peeved. It is based on the premise that you are as real as he is and as deserving of attention, and that the world is worthy of our full and fearless interest, just as it is."

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

No One Saw It Coming...

"Plunging us into chaos." Right. Isn't that our Little Baby Man President's brand? "Stocks on track for worst December since the Great Depression." Hah! Who would of ever thought that a lying, know-nothing, racist, white nationalist, super-divisive, intellectually lazy, business-wise incompetent, politically inept, socially sleazy, morally corrupt, legally-exposed, hostile-foreign power compromised President would be bad for business? Merry Christmas 2018!

Monday, December 24, 2018

No Dogma!

Dogma. I do my best to avoid dogma. Don't you? I think it's best to experience the world, to see the world first-hand, to be active in it, and to make inferences based on your eyes, on the evidence of your senses. To see clearly. Clear-seeing. I mean, it's okay to listen to the Wise Ones. But we must choose the Wise Ones carefully. Are there Wise Ones?

So many voices. Chattering. The Tower of Babbling Voices. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes best to tune them out. Find that calm center. Still the inner monologue. Even our own chatter can send us off on a wild goose chase. Others lie to us. We lie to ourselves. We must try to get to the essential things: Clarity, Purpose, Meaning, Intention.

Simple living. Try to live simply in a complex world. Aye, there's the rub.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Chaos Upon Chaos!

Chaos upon chaos. 

Try to make sense of the non-sensical. There are limits to logic, reason, math. Sometimes we need to take chaos in. Let it into our wombs. The males too. Imagine a womb. Imagine it's near your belly. Put the chaos in there. Baby Chaos. Fat Little Baby Chaos. A cheerful, little, floating creature, slowly turning in that amniotic sack. Looks innocent. Weak. But it's not. It's planning crazy shit. Conjuring up schemes. Major disruptions. There is crazy shit a brewing in that soft little, still-forming, totally malleable cranium. Shit we don't want to deal with. Shit we can't imagine. Shit we can't eat. Right? Disgusting. Indigestible. Fat Little Baby Chaos you are a heavy little load. We don't want you. We want to expel you. Deliver you. And put you in some dark orphanage buried deep below the sea. Shoot you into the heart of a raging volcano.  Strap you into a rocket ship. Fire that thing blindly into the night sky. Propel you past the stars, past the dark curtain of black. Oh, Fat Little Baby Chaos, you are a nasty, yucky, little motherfucker.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Old Testament Thing...

"Dear John Q. Public, this is a test, you think this is a Presidency? No, it is not... it's a biblical thing... it's like an Old Testament thing... a scourge, a pestilence, a plague, a rain of terror, a rain of frogs, a sea of blood, an abomination, a swarm of flesh-eating locusts, a famine, a flood, a period of deep dark void, an erasure, a shit-hole. Dogs walk backwards. Corpses rise from their graves. It's a Dark Ages Cluster of Fucks. Sun don't shine, moon wobbles in a jet-black sky. Thoughts scatter like a million sugar-crazed, army ants. Bad shit my friends. Really, really bad shit."

Friday, December 21, 2018

The "Holy Shite Phase" of Our Constitutional Crisis!

Yes. Our Little Baby Man President is imploding.

The walls are crumbling, the market is tanking, Putin is laughing, Mexico still isn't paying for that fricking wall. And THE COYOTES ARE COMING... Old Glory is torn and frayed. Happy Solstice!

Old Glory. Torn and frayed. I think we have entered the "holy shite phase" of our Constitutional Crisis. You know, our Little Baby Man President is imploding, he feels the jaws of the law nipping at his heels, and he's taking orders from his Russian handler, who obviously has great leverage over him.

My theory about Little Baby Man: he only, and exclusively, thinks of "self-interest," and "self-preservation." Nothing else moves that little baby man. So yesterday, something extraordinary happened. James Norman Mattis, the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense, former U.S. Marine Corps General resigned in protest. Really. Extraordinary.

This doesn't happen. Seems surreal. Unreal. Really. Little Baby Man chooses Putin and Erdogan of Turkey over Mattis... holy, holy shite! You wonder just what exactly Putin and Erdogan are holding over Little Baby Man. I think we are at the beginning of the end, or maybe we're in the middle of the end, or the end of the end... or, whatever... holy shite!

Here's an excerpt from Mattis resignation letter...  he basically tells us he thinks Little Baby Man is on the side of the Despots and Anti-Democratic Authoritarians... like, I mean, wow:

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Can You Make Someone Love What You Love?

Thinking out-loud. Or typing out-loud.

Can you reason your way to love? Can you talk yourself into loving something, or someone? Can you talk someone else into loving something, or someone?

Can you make someone love what you love?

Can you get them to care about the things you care about? If you think something is beautiful, funny, amazing, can you convince someone else that it is? Is it about your powers of persuasion? Or does it just happen? Is it a matter of taste? Or temperament? Or what?

How do we get others to see what we see? How do we get others to agree with us?

Sometimes it seems we all live in our own private realities. Sometimes we collide, sometimes we run in parallel. Once in a great while you meet someone who you can totally, completely connect with. It's rare. But it does happen. You can see what they see. You can understand them on a deep level. And every conversation is a revelation.

Is that just luck? Destiny?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What's It About?!

Someone asked me what "Roma" (see previous 4 posts), was about. It's funny. For me it's like trying to sum up what life is about. You can tick off the plot points, you can talk about the characters, you can try to sum up the theme. But you know, it doesn't quite capture what it is, what it means to me, why I love the film. In fact, the dissecting of it (like dissecting a cat to explain a cat), is pretty much besides the point, kind of kills the magic of the film.

Here's a quick take: it's a memory piece, about a family (Cuaron's family) in Mexico City, 1971. Lovingly depicted. Every detail fully realized. It's an effort to show "what happened," in a very specific time and place. This time, these human beings. It's about the over-flowing, incomprehensible, joyous and challenging and disappointing, beautiful and tragic, energy of life. It's about these people. But of course, it's about all of us too. Anyone who has lived on this planet.

There is something about the way the camera moves. Every shot is perfectly framed. Layered, complex scenes. Long slow panning shots. It's the method of the film, the specificity, the all encompassing approach. The vividness, the great attention to details, the big and the small things wrapped up together. The lived nature of every scene. The poetry of motion. The light. The sounds of the street. This idea that permeates the film that life is messy, complex, that we don't understand the moments  of our lives as they reveal themselves. Order. Chaos. Energy.

The film captures and embodies the idea that life unfolds around us. We are participants and observers too. Life is a river. Flowing always. We get carried along, we get swamped, we stand against the stream. All things happen simultaneously. We live it, and then, later, try to understand what happened. It's about life, love, pain, chaos, energy, poetry, memory, human beings alive in a world they fully don't understand. Something like that...

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Aesthetic Biases & Preferences!

Yes. No doubt I have my aesthetic biases & preferences; what's beautiful, what's ugly, what's good, what's bad?  Sure, yes, I do, don't you?

So, for instance, if a new film (see previous 3 posts), is shot in vivid black & white, and it's from another time and place, dialogue in another language, with sub-titles, I am not turned off at all, I am probably pre-disposed to think it's going to be good, probably another "art film." That just reflects my long experience over the years, delving deep into films by Robert Bresson, Francois Truffaut,  Jean Luc Godard, Loius Malle, Jean Renoir, Bernardo Bertolucci, Agnes Varda, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky.

Maybe reading sub-titles actually concentrates my attention? Just a thought. I also love films that are shot on film, with 35mm, 70mm film. No CGI. Again, it's just a preference, a bias, based on my own experience. I also love films shot on location. You can usually tell. There is something about reality, a camera panning down a street that captures something that can't be fully recreated on a soundstage.

Of course, you can make a good film on a soundstage ("Singing in the Rain"), loaded up with CGI, ("The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" Or maybe something like "La La Land") but often when I see a film like that, I am thinking to myself, "Oh, look at that great CGI!"

I have some retro biases in music too. I love records made the "old way," back to basics, you know, musicians, in a room together, playing live. I think the Band's "Music from Big Pink,"  or the Rolling Stones recording with their mobile unit in a basement in the south of France ("Exile on Main Street") are the ideals. A house, wired for sound with recording equipment, microphones, amps, an assortment of instruments. A motley group of musicians huddled around microphones, laying down their sounds in an intimate, funky place. A basement, living room, hallway. This time. This place. These particular musicians actually playing their own real instruments.

Of course, you can make a great record with pre-recorded beats, with synthesizers emulating all kinds of exotic sounds and instruments, you can conjure a cool track from a laptop, with samples, with no musicians, no cool room, no real instruments. I own and enjoy plenty of records like that. I think of Thom Yorke's side band Atoms for Peace, or the soundtrack of "Ghost Dog" (Wu Tang Clan! RZA, GZA), or "Do the Right Thing" or "He Got Game" soundtracks, (Public Enemy) and Trent Reznor's soundscapes in Nine Inch Nails. I think also of Radiohead, Thom Yorke's other band, a great, great band that combines both old and new world strategies (real instruments combined with keyboard-based, computer-emulated, synthesized, extraneous sounds) to maximum effect.

So yes, even with my biases, I realize there are no rules. Does a film or an album work? Does it speak to me? Does it touch me? Does it open me? Do I fall in love? Am I challenged? What are they saying?  What's going on? What just happened?!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Still Popping Off on "Art!"

Yeah, I've been thinking about this "great art thing" (see previous two posts). I grew up in a family of common folk, folks who in their own ways were secretly "aspiring artists." A few of us were always painting, writing, drawing, reading, playing music, watching and discussing art and artful things. Lots of disagreement and heated arguments about art, what was good, what was bad, what it was all about.

These long-running arguments seemed important. Essential. Life and death. Everything. They were ways to define ourselves, to declare a certain code and belief system. Now I have a much more expansive view of it. I love all these figures. But then, early in my life, I had to choose, and defend, and fight for my opinion, fight to have a voice, to be heard. Fight to be right.

There were a some iconic figures: Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Renoir, Degas, Monet, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Shakespeare, Samual Beckett, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neil, Mark Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner, Robert Louis Stevenson, Howard Hawks, John Huston, David Lean.

Then there were the usurpers: De Kooning, Pollock, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Sam Shepard, Ken Kesey, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, John Cage, Velvet Underground, Martin Scorcese, Francis Coppola, Robert Altman, Sam Peckinpah, Jean Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Louis Malle.

I grew up in the Pop Culture explosion: Sex, Drugs, R&R! It became clear what spoke to me was totally personal, like falling in love. And what I loved didn't necessarily travel. How do you convince someone who doesn't feel the love, to feel the love? Love in the first moments feels like forever. And then surprisingly it can fade, never be erased, but can fade away.

So this is a long-winded way of saying, yes, all of these artists are valid. They are part of the great canon of art. They all featured in our family discussions about art. "What's art? What's good? What's bad? Who cares?"

All these figures spoke to us; my little family. We argued, and implored and dismissed, and got angry with each other over who was great and who was not, who was right, who was wrong. But really, all of these figures speak to us right? They all enrich us. Each and every one. And those long-ago arguments, heated conversations seem sort of silly now.

It's all pretty damn ephemeral. Just like everything else. What's good, what's bad? What lasts? Who matters? Who knows? Who decides? It's all up to us. We are the authorities. Each and every one of us.

And what may speak to us today,  may not speak to us tomorrow. What we love today, we may not love tomorrow. And what we thought was so damn important then, doesn't seem quite as important now.  No, that's not quite right, it is important, all of it, the particulars define us, the choices we made, the choices we make, they are important, but the heated arguments, the wanting to be right, the trying to prove the other person wrong, the trying to invalidate the other's choices, that is silly, funny, hilarious in it's own way. I mean, like, really funny that.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Teaches Us How to Touch!

What does great art (for example, see previous post),  do for us?

Opens us up to other people's stories, other truths, other realities. Makes us see the world in new ways. Tells us things about the world we didn't know. Shows us how we are wrong about other people, other places and other times. Shows us that the world is bigger, richer, deeper, more varied and more complex, more contradictory, than we may have realized.

The best art (this can be true of any form of art - music, dance, poetry, theater, film, novel, painting, etc.), is vivid, layered, shows the contradictions of experience. Great art captures us; our imaginations, our hearts our heads. It opens us up to explore our own thoughts, feelings, memories, maybe in a new way. It deepens us, deepens our understanding, maybe changes us, yes, just by watching, listening, experiencing.

There is no strict formula. No rules. Great art can emerge from any quarter. There are always surprises, that's the beauty of it. Sometimes it's the least expected, the simple, the small, unassuming manifestations that can have universe-cracking consequences. Great art can be a flood, an earthquake, a star-burst, a total eclipse. A wave. A sign. A detour. A moment. A breath. A space. An opening. A conjuring, a vision, a spell, an incantation. Great art touches us, shows us, teaches us, how to touch, how to be human.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

"Roma" - Exquisite, Changes Your Sense of Time...

I haven't seen every movie made this year, 2018. But I am totally confident in saying that Alfonso Cuaron's film "Roma" is the best of the year. Why am I so confident? It's one of the greatest films I've ever seen. No doubt. It's a mind-blower. Beautiful. Powerful. Changes your sense of time. Every shot is exquisite. Vivid. Captivating. A knockout.

I kept thinking to myself this must be a very personal film. Cuaron tells us 90% of the scenes of the film are "scenes taken out of this memory." 

Alfonso CuarĂ³n's statement for the film: "There are periods in history that scar societies and moments in life that transform us as individuals. Time and space constrain us, but they also define who we are, creating inexplicable bonds with others that flow with us at the same time and through the same places. Roma is an attempt to capture the memory of events that I experienced almost fifty years ago. It is an exploration of Mexico's social hierarchy, where class and ethnicity have been perversely interwoven to this date and, above all, it's an intimate portrait of the women who raised me in a recognition of love as a mystery that transcends space, memory and time."

Highly, highly recommended!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Celebrity Culture is a Terrible Thing...

Celebrity Culture slimes us all. It elevates and diminishes, infantilizes and wraps everyone up in tissue-thin bullshit. It's a plague, a disease, a blight on us all. It's all consuming. It sucks the air out of everything, every room, every head. We are all brainwashed by the 24/7 noise machine. It is relentless, a perpetual-motion machine signifying nothing, that mows down everything in its path. It is awesome, awe-inspiring, terrible, terrifying. It ruins lives. It permeates everything: politics, music, cinema, entertainment, every aspect of daily fucking life. We begin to think life is all a show, and celebrity culture is the only show in town. Yikes. It's a terrible thing. It has polluted the cultural air we breathe. We are all poisoned, and corrupted and slimed and diminished by celebrity culture. Help us! We are drowning!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The To-ing, the Fro-ing!

There is the slog...
the schlep...
the long march...
the circuitous route...
the lifting...
the carrying...
the one step after another...
the burden...
the duty...
the basic things we do every single day...

So much of our lives are filled with the little jobs, the busy work, the simple tasks. The to-ing, the fro-ing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Stupid Way...

I almost hate to look at the headlines. It is beginning to dawn on me that my species is nowhere near as smart as we think we are. Of course, I include myself in this judgement. We are the self-important, clever monkeys, not so clever, really. We are blundering along in our favored stupidities. We love to cling to our stupidities. We think they define us. So yes, we blunder along in our stupid way, thinking we are so damn smart. There may be some smart ones amongst us, but of course, we tend to tune them out, "Who do they think they are?" I like to quote Studs Terkel's famous quote: "Hope dies last." But I'm beginning to think it should be amended to: "Stupid dies first and last."

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Existential Funk!

Existential Funk. Not a bad band name. It is funny how the funk can just rise up in one flash. One minute you are sailing fine and true, and then, the next instant, you are swirling in a downward whirlpool of funk. How does that happen? It's just the way of the world. The human way. It's complicated. The light and the darkness dancing in our hands, in our hearts, in our heads. Best to keep it simple. Keep your head, keep your feet on the ground. One step forward. Never know what's around the next turn.

Monday, December 10, 2018

My Bi-Polar, Well-Rounded Life!

This is typical behavior for me. A flurry of activity. I work myself up. I am hyper-active, up, up and away. And then the crash. Hit the wall. I have always been this way.

I manage it on my own. Always have. And it's funny the post-crash phase can be quite productive and instructive. I slow down. I watch my steps. I breathe deeply. I get a bit meditative and philosophical.

It's the post-crash that leads me to the good work. Working on creative projects, listening to music, feeding the soul. Sinking in. So I wouldn't change a thing. Maybe the folks around me wonder what's up. I suppose it's all a bit "bi-polar," but I don't see it as a syndrome, no, I see it as my well-rounded life.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

We Live With Contradiction...

We live with contradiction...

For instance: Everyone is unique. Right?

No one can walk in another person's shoes. Each human being has a story to tell. No person's story is exactly the same: it's this person, this time, this life, these circumstances, these events.

At the same time we have many things in common with each other. For instance: born, lived, died. There is an arc. We win some, we lose some. We suffer. We thrive. We fall. We pick ourselves up.

No one is the perfect being. No one can defy gravity. Everyone dies.

We come, we go.

Life is Holy. Life is Cheap. We live with that contradiction. Every single day. It's not an easy thing, to live with contradiction, but we must, and we do.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Now What America?!

The President WAS a Crook then, and he is a Crook Now...

The President is a Crook. 

I know, I'm just stating the obvious. And it's obvious lots of folks don't want to know. But it must be stated, clearly, simply, unequivocally: The President is a Crook! A Criminal.

He isn't misunderstood. He isn't a Conservative or Liberal. He isn't a Republican or a Democrat. He isn't being persecuted. This isn't a hoax or a witch hunt.

The President is a Criminal! Now what America?!

Friday, December 07, 2018

We Need A Miracle to Save Our Little Blue Planet!

I am basically an optimist. Don't exactly know why. I was born in a supportive environment, grew up a happy little boy, lived in my own private little bubble in my key formative years; my fellow human beings and the long slog of history (one damn thing after another), haven't totally snuffed out that basic optimism and happiness.

On the other hand: We Need A Climate Miracle! Don't call it "Climate Change," call it Climate Catastrophe, or Burning Up the Planet, or Destroying Our Habitat, or Frying our Ecosystem, or Killing Life Support as We Know it on Our Beautiful Little Blue Planet.

Are we the crazy, rapacious, greedy, uppity-monkeys enamored with our own brilliance who would destroy our own habitable little Blue Planet just for $? I suppose the question is it's own answer...

"As Chris Hayes has pointed out, there’s about $20 trillion worth of fossil fuels still left in the ground right now. Knowing what you know about human nature, what are the odds that anyone is going to leave all that money there? About zero, right? Hayes compares it to the $10 trillion economic value of slaves in the South on the eve of the Civil War, and points out that this is why the South would never, ever voluntarily give up chattel slavery. It took four years of the bloodiest war in history to finally force their hand."

Yeah, $20 trillion worth of fossil fuels. We are the kind of crazy, rapacious, greedy beings who would do all they can to extract every last drop/dollar. Damn the children. Damn the future. Damn the Planet. Damn the air, the water, the soil. Damn the torpedoes. 

So yes, what to do? Pray for a miracle? 

"So what’s the answer, aside from frying the planet? That’s simple: we need a miracle. And we should be spending vast sums of money to get one."

Thursday, December 06, 2018

I Pray Willingly.

I Pray. Willingly. 

Never thought I'd get to this point. I was coerced into praying when I was a wee lad. I learned the "Hail Mary," and "Our Father." Classics in the Catholic tradition. I do remember them. I remember going to confession and being assigned a number of "Hail Marys" and "Our Fathers" to atone for my sins. I kneeled in the church pew and prayed. I didn't like it. It always seemed like a game, a sham, a little joke. Even that little wee lad suspected something was up. Like I was being fooled, being a fool.

I can recite those old prayers. But they are like old pop hits, think "Sugar, Sugar" or "Sweet Caroline," sequences of words burned into my consciousness that I don't really like, that I no longer sing or recite.

No. I don't pray the classics. After years of meditating I offer up my own homemade ditties. What do I pray for?

Peace. Love. Happiness. A good lunch. Sunny day. A better future. $. All the best for those I care about. Justice. Karma. Good will. Health.

And who do I pray to?

The Wind. The Trees. The Day. The Great What's It!? The Cosmic Giggle. The Void. The Darkness. The Light.

It's a kind of a simple, meager, thing; praying. But what the hell. It can't hurt, right?!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

What To Do With Useless Man?!

Yes. This is a test for our Democracy.

It's a multiple choice test, please choose one:

1. Bury our Heads up our Asses.
2. Resignation.
3. Impeachment.
4. Indictment.

What do we do with "Useless Man?!"

Yes. Useless Man. He's a bit more portly and repulsive in the actual flesh. He lives in big white house, he spends lots of time on Twitter. He's working himself into a lather, and an orange jumpsuit! He did a very, very bad thing and the chickens, yes, the chickens are coming home to roost!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

A Good Place to Go!

A flurry of activity, and then the lull. 

Time to reflect. Time to breathe. Sometimes it feels good just to sit still, tune out, or tune in, to a more interior vibe. Not everything is "out there." The interior vibe is just as important. Everything is reflected in our reservoir. Thinking is good. Feeling is good. Reflecting is good. You can go deep. It's amazing how deep you can go. Deeper than you know, deeper than you think. Beyond thought. That's a good place to go.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Hanoi Jane - Ringing the Bell 3 Times for Peace & Love!

We traveled to the "land beyond O'Hare,"over the weekend. We played a movie-fundraiser at an American Legion in one of the far western suburbs. It felt like we were going to another country. A Harder Country. The American Legion was filled with two-fisted drinking Vets, horror-movie geeks, heavy metal kids, and the parents of horror-movie geeks & heavy metal kids.

You might think this would not be the most promising of audiences for our "neo-psychedelic, folk rock ensemble," but everyone was friendly and welcoming. There was college football on every TV screen, there were video poker machines lined against a wall, there was a back-porch smoking section for those folks with their smoking addictions.

There was also a "Hanoi Jane" sticker in the urinal in the men's room. So all the males in the place could go make their peace with Jane Fonda, members in hand. Funny. The 60's culture war still lives. Jane, of course, is famous for doing a photo-op with the Viet-Cong at the height of the U.S. war. Not very popular with most Vets. Also there was the guy with the "Cops Lives Matter T-Shirt." The subject was never broached, but one might surmise this could be Opioid-Land and Trump Country.

So yes, we felt like invaders from another planet, folks from a completely different tribe. But really, when it comes down to it, we all really have much more in common with these folks than these cultural markers might indicate. As the Dalai Lama reminds us: "We are all Human Beings first." What's funny, two of us actually grew up in suburbs just like this one, but truth be told, we never felt we fit in, always seemed like fish out of water, couldn't wait to escape to the Northern shores of Lake Michigan.

Surprisingly, the show was exhilarating, cathartic. Our lead singer started our set by ringing the Tibetan prayer bell three times for "Peace and Love." That got everyone's attention. There is something about trying to win over a room. Our band played a tight, battle-tested set, we have played a number of good shows lately, our set is strong, it flows well, the sequence of  songs allows us to reach a satisfying crescendo.

It was hot. The sweat poured. It all just felt fantastic. We knew we were making an impression when the guy playing video poker actually stopped, turned around, and watched us. That was the best tribute of the night.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

The Good Lies...

Yes, these are some of the "good lies..." Or maybe not lies, but thoughts that kind of go against our own experience. Dead-eyed, clear-seeing may actually be pathology: the depressive frame of mind. Some of us go out of our way to adopt the optimistic frame of mind despite the trials and tribulations.

1. Tomorrow will be better than today.
2. Everything will work out for the best.
3. Don't worry, be happy.
4. People are basically good.
5. There is a purpose and a meaning to everything.
6. We're gonna make it.
7. Everyone will get what they deserve.
8. Karma!
9. Life is worth living!
10. Life is good!
11. The Universe is perfect as it is.
12. Chocolate!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Lessons in Life - Lying is a Waste of Time!

One of those lessons you learn in life, I mean, that is, if you are the type of person who learns lessons in life - telling the truth, usually, is the more efficient and practical way to go. It's just simpler, and easier to keep your story straight. I mean, sure, you can lie, there are all the little lies and the big lies we tell; some lies you tell to yourself, and some you tell to the world, but more often than not, those lies have a sneaky way of coming back to haunt you.

If you are a frequent liar, you spend lots of your time trying to keep your lies straight, and this can get convoluted and confusing, and since some of the lies are tissue-thin, unsubstantial, made up on the spot, it's often difficult to be consistent, and to remember just exactly how, and to whom, you have lied. And you end up worrying about how to keep the lies going, and they multiply, and sometimes, collide with each other. You build an edifice of lies, each one, another brick in the wall, but that wall is not a solid construction. It is easily demolished, sometimes as easy as exposing the first or simplest and most unassuming lie of the bunch.

It is much simpler to stick with the truth, at least the truth as you understand it. It's better for your conscience, I mean, that is, if you have a conscience. A clean conscience. Might be one of those things good to have if you value sleeping soundly.

Of course, all of this is easier to see play out in other people's lives. You can see the lies, the liars and how they often end up squirming like a worm on a fish-hook, or turning themselves into pretzels trying to make all their calculated lies look like plain truths. Reconciling the lies is not an easy to do, even for the smartest, and least conscientious of us.

When you see the clearly corrupt, ignorant, morally and ethically challenged folks amongst us, those who are carrying a huge mountain of lies on their shoulders, suddenly trying to extricate themselves from the consequences of their consistent lying, by coming up with a better brand of lie, trying to unsuccessfully change the story in mid-stream, it's actually quite entertaining, and instructive. You think to yourself: "Better them, than me!"

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