Election 2020

Election 2020
Gaseous Little Baby Man Dirigible Implodes!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Cut and Paste World

I've discovered a new toy, (I need a new toy like I need a new hole in the head!). Last Friday our IMAC blew up (logic board), so instead of paying for repair, we traded up to a new improved one. Faster, bigger screen, more stuff. My new discovery?! GarageBand! It is very cool. Amazing. Suddenly anyone can be George Martin (remember him?). Its an easy to use software tool that allows you to combine loops in new ways to create...well...just about anything. My first stab at it, I came up with a moody jazz piece in C Major, 4/4 time, multi-layered keyboards, spooky strings. It was basically point and click. Incredibly empowering. I also bought a special cable that will allow me to hook in my guitar (which I can turn into something else: a grand piano, steel drums, etc). So, I'll be able to create totally original tracks, mix them, manipulate them. This is definitely cool shit. It kind of opens a whole new vista of creation and makes one reflect on the creative process. Once you get over the technical hurdle (this is my keyboard, this is my mouse), it's up to one's aesthetics, one's sensibility. This sounds good, this sounds bad, this sounds complex, hey, this sounds good and complex! It's a "cut and paste" world. Thank you William Burroughs. Everyone can be a creator! Thank you Steven Jobs. Thank you Andy Warhol. I'm still waiting for my 15 minutes!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Doing Good is Good

"Morality - a system of conduct based on right and wrong." That's from a dictionary. Yesterday I waded into a discussion of Post Modernism and morality, and I kind of think I muddied the waters a little, even in my own head. Going back to basics I'm thinking this "system of conduct" evolved, (I'm going with the Scientific/Evolutionary view) in countless ways over our history. If you take the evolutionary tack, having a system of conduct based on right and wrong, must have given some people, societies, civilizations advantages over others. At the same time, this "morality" was used as a tool against others, as a tool of justification for both good acts and bad acts carried out under the cover of goodness. Ever since the Enlightenment, ever since Darwin and the Scientific paradigm, I do think we are stuck in a kind of Post Modern Morass, where its clear no one has a monopoly on truth. We can try to come to some kind of consensus, but when people start wielding "absolutes" look out! If there's no "god" handing down absolutes, then we are left to our own devices; each of us seeing partially, incompletely, maybe ineptly. We can venture some simple "rules to live by," - don't kill, lie, cheat, covet your neighbor's wife, etc. they've been handed down through the years probably because they make life a little simpler, neater, etc., but even these aren't hard and fast absolutes. If we are "the authorities" there are no absolutes. Doing good is good is relative too! It ain't in the human makeup. We can make rules up as we go along, (I'm a big fan of the golden rule), but we are "making them up." I'm thinking, like the Scientist, we ultimately try to go with "what works" (what does the evidence seem to support?), what tends to increase pleasure, quality of life, "goodness" for society as a whole? We might have some big ideals, but then we need to test them in the world. I'm thinking what's considered "good" is what has given us some kind of evolutionary advantage. Maybe part of that advantage has been our "flexibility" in maneuvering around the hard and fast rules. What was strictly forbidden in the past, what could get you stoned or flogged, what could get you a first class ticket to hell, is now just "a day in the life!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

"The Opposite of War is Creation" - J. Larson

Yes, well, the Lovely Carla and I saw the movie (we never saw the play), and the theme resounded in our ears, loud and clear. We occupy a space, and then we move on, we pay "the Rent," we are all "renters," we own nothing, everything is temporary. How do you measure a year? In Seasons of Love?

We went to see Jonathan Larson's rock-based musical, "Rent," last night (I especially wanted to see it - doing research on my own Rock Opera don't you know?!), and the story of a group of marginal artists in a rough neighborhood in NYC really resonated with us. It's such a great, death-haunted piece with the back story that Larson died right before previews of the original theatrical run, and with AIDS front and center in the lives of the main characters. So you have young beautiful people (who can sing and dance too) singing life-affirming songs about mutual masturbation, and T-cells, and cross-dressing, and all the wonders of modern urban civilisation in America circa 1990.

I think it was life-affirming. As long as you can get your head around the "truth," that anyone of us can disappear at any moment. That all we have is now, that all we have is love, that none of it lasts beyond this moment. And how do you live with that knowledge, (experience the yawning canyon of sadness), I mean really know it, feel it in every fibre of your being? "Viva la boheme!"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"A Hunk of Burning Love" - Elvis

I'm seeing everything through "trickster" glasses lately, (see previous posts), cultural figures who kind of straddle the margins of society and there's evidence of "trickster tracks" everywhere I look. Last night, the Lovely Carla and I ventured out to our local multi-plex to submerge ourselves in "Walk the Line," a movie about Johnny Cash and June Carter. We both thoroughly enjoyed the flick, and I was especially taken with the portrayal of the desperate cast of characters in C&W that surrounded the Man in Black, and the Woman who loved/saved him. The biggest stars were also the strangest characters, emotional gargoyles, flawed human beings, willing to "live large," willing to display their wounds, their deep flaws in order to entertain other people, to seek some kind of recognition, some kind of acceptance of their "freakiness." I'm thinking especially people like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash himself. Maybe these people become "stars," because they are willing to get up on a stage, to expose themselves, to act out in front of others, and these "others" sitting in the audience, see their own strange freakiness in a new light. So, going with this line of thinking, it's all one big "Freakshow," with the "stars," being the ones willing to show their wounds, and by some strange human alchemy, use them as elements in their "talent," their "genius." Of course in many cases, it doesn't make their lives any less freaky (see Peter Guralnick's two volume bio on Elvis), or tragic; celebrity, fame, money, sex and drugs don't heal the wounds, in fact, usually they maginifiy them, but this too adds to "the legend." In some sense these "tricksters" are performing a ritual sacrifice for the audience. They display the emotion, they express the feeling, they conjure the picture that the audience secretly wishes they could express too. "I'm a freak, no one understands me, no one loves me!" Maybe that explains all that crazy panty tossing! Caution: this post was composed under the influence of TRICKSTER!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Goofing Off

It's amazing what a couple of days off from the daily work grind can do for you. My work tasks are primarily in the mental realm: strategizing, fretting, worrying about details that tend to spin out of my control, talking endlessly on the phone, tapping away at my keyboard. Work is an imposition of "The Wheel" a wheel that demands: needing, wanting, grasping. The main burden, I guess, is that my "space" is not my own. I trade my time and my mental capacity, for cash, which I can redeem for valuable prizes later, although, as one goes along on this journey, one begins to realize that time and personal freedom are the most valuable prizes of all.

But of course, we all have to eat, we are "mere bellies," with voracious appetites, which is just another Wheel that we must ride to keep on going. A "day off" still has demands, there are responsibilities, chores, appetites, etc. but there's a different quality to everything. There's also that "just goofing off" kind of thing (think Huck Finn, think Wiley Coyote), bouncing around, not doing much of anything. Catching a movie, noodling on a guitar, sitting back and listening to music. Not really a waste of time, no, a kind of aligning with time. The tick of the clock (eventhough you don't need to consult one), the thump of a heart, strangely synchronized.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Original Trick

I'm reading a book about "tricksters," ("Trickster Makes the World" - Lewis Hyde) a character type that appears in mythology all over the world, that traces the self-invention of consciousness to the act of "lying." Basically (I'm simplifying a very subtle multi-layered discussion into a very crude, simple one) when we lie, we are creating other worlds, other realities. Characters like Hermes, and Mercury, and Coyote and the Signifying Monkey figure in this tale. So do artists, Picasso's famous line: art is the lie that tells the truth.

Our dreams, memories, art, arguments, ideals in some way are all lies. They are simulations of the world, not quite the world; our language, the words we use day to day, describe and obscure at the same time. Consciousness, being aware of the world, imagining other worlds, this is a unique human ability. We step back from the world into a languauge of symbol, abstraction, this is our "hall of mirrors," the mirrors reflect images of the world, and those images become our world. Trickster, tricks himself into forgetting the genesis of that original trick.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Beam of Light

"The most wonderful thing about life seems to be that we hardly tap our potential for self-destruction, we may desire it, it may be what we dream of, but we are dissuaded by a beam of light, a change in the wind." - John Cheever

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Everything You Know is Wrong" - Firesign Theater

Let's get lost. It isn't hard to do, getting lost, there's so many contradictory impulses, competing realities, so many simulations (I read an interview with Jean Baudrillard first thing this morning - caution - when in doubt a French Intellectual is not your most reliable tour guide). It's hard to hang onto a clear understanding of the world. There I said it. It's one of my goals, to get to clarity (I've dubbed this space the "school of clarity" - it's me who is going to school - trying to absorb the lessons!), it's why I meditate, why I write, it may also be why I'm a runner, why I play guitar, why I eat and sleep, why I read voraciously; I'm looking for some "understanding" of myself and this raging ball of confusion, I'm searching for some glimpse of "enlightenment." There have been plenty of times where think I've been chasing shadows on the walls of my little cave. I look at my library of books, little coffins of information, and I ask, "how much have I forgotten?"

So, I'm lost, I admit it. Ever since our aborted trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, ever since my father died, a little hole has blown open in my understanding of the world. What I thought I knew, I know longer know. I don't know what I know. It isn't totally disagreeable, this lost-ness. I'm floating in that great "cloud of unknowing," just floating, grabbing onto nothing. From this vantage point, words like enlightenment, knowledge, clarity, are promissary notes from some phantom lender who no longer honors fancy-looking pieces of paper. I have no other currency at hand.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Need a Beret and a Pack of Gitanes!

Maybe this isn't surprising, the Lovely Carla wasn't fazed, I took an internet quiz (Wikopedia) this morning, and found that I'm basically an Existentialist, with a healthy dollop of Hedonism thrown in for good measure (plus a smidgen of Kantian, Nihilist and Divine God). I'm in the camp where the meaning of life is something we supply. Actual circumstances might be grim, MEANING is what we bring to the party. At the same time, we should/can/must ENJOY IT while we can! Oui, Oui.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Old Voices

This Monday morn, I'm cruising the web and come across this from William James (supreme pragmatist) - "nothing, is inherently true or false, either things work, or they don't." Also, this from Jean Paul Satre: "So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the 'burning marl.' Old wive's tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is other people!"

And this from the Notebooks of Lewis and Clark (glimpsing the long gone world of Crazy Horse, Black Elk, Sitting Bull): "I ascended to the top of the cut bluff this morning, from whence I had a most delightful view of the country, the whole of which except the valley formed by the Missouri is void of timber or underbrush, exposing to the first glance of the spectator immense herds of buffalo, elk, deer, and antelopes feeding in one common and boundless pasture."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Black Brew

So, last night, I found myself at an Irish pub on Chicago's northside, propped up against a finely polished bar, draining a number of glasses of hearty Guiness Stout. It was all for a good cause, a benefit, for a little girl, who suffers from a horribly incomprehensible disease. There was so much life and vitality all around me: a bevy of beautiful women, broad shouldered men, the jukebox was playing U2's "Beautiful Day." The black brew made me light-headed. The conversation was inconsequential. I had this strange, "there and not there" feeling. Inside the pub: laughter, music, life, the swirling carnival of existence. Outside: a cold, black, darkness, silent, waiting...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Hump! What Hump?!" - Igor

Sometimes a long sleep isn't restful, the sunlight doesn't bring light, love doesn't conquer all, peace doesn't descend on the land, the coffee refuses to bring it's usual kick. Sometimes optimism seems like a fool's errand. Sometimes there's a sneaking suspicion things won't all work out for the best. Sometimes it seems everything is seriously off track, that there's some dark secret that can't be acknowledged, and much time and energy is expended making sure it remains buried in a cold, dark place.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Trickster Makes the World" - Lewis Hyde

"Trickster makes the world, gives it sunlight, fish and berries, but he makes it 'as it is,' a world of constant need, work, limitation and death."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Ballad of J & Y

It's just a black and white picture (a poster) that someone gave to me. A man and a woman, sitting in bed, each holding a flower in their hand, looking intently at the camera, not smiling exactly, but there's a hint of a smile, and a definite light, an intelligence that seems to reside in the eyes, that seems to connect to something inside the viewer. There's a lot of hair, long, and lank; the man and woman, they have long hair, down to their shoulders and beyond. The man has a full beard, he wears those wire glasses. It's a famous picture, of a famous, maybe infamous, couple, a couple that went out of their way to challenge the status quo, kind of weird, kind of arty, kind of avant garde, the kind of couple that was famous enough, and rich enough, and entertaining enough, that if they decided to spend a week in bed to promote peace, reporters would come, other famous people would come, this couple would get attention, and abuse, there would be controversey. This was a time when a war, (there's always a war) was raging in a far off land. It's an old photo, from another time and place. The photo captures one moment. Click! So this image is now affixed to my refrigerator. Everytime I go to get a refill of milk for my morning coffee, those eyes of intelligence stare back at me. They remind me of an idealism, a beauty, a fire, a desire, a way to live, that still resides deep inside me. Is it all a cliche? Some cliches are true. Even if that truth is only a moment, one moment of a camera flash, a flash, frozen in time. That flash, that image, that thought, that dream still lives...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Box of Mud

I need to get this out of my system...it's kind of like the "snake-bite" scene in Woody Allen's "Banannas," "you must suck the blood out." In this case, I must suck out the the bad blood of a long, lost day, on the road to nowheresville. Yesterday my "whale chase," was inconclusive, strange, murky, disheartening. I started in the morning with a "box of sunlight," I came back in the afternoon, with a "box of mud." This thought came to me: all hopes are meant to be crushed, all desires to be unmet, all love to be unrequited.

I went to a Board meeting and watched the messy process of democracy in action. It was a theater of the absurd, it was meandering, it was boring, it featured debate and argument, and finally, as climax, one board member actually stomped off in anger while the gavel hammered down closing the meeting. I was left completely in the dark. Did my whale pass by? I couldn't tell.

I took the long train ride home, (this is Dumps talking) in the wind, the cold, the damp depressing murk of a bleak November day. I got home and ended the work day, on the phone, in a testy back and forth with a "figure of authority," who is clueless, pointless, just basically "less!" I had to bite my lip and take a heap of hostility and subtle abuse as pre-dinner snack.

So, anyway, it's a new day...what box today?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Passengers

We are all "passengers," on a journey to an uncertain future, retreating from a murky past. There's always this sensation that "we are more than our bodies," as if our bodies are simply the vehicles we use to make the trip. We can "time trip," revisit old places on the way, we can circle back to certain mile markers, we can barrel ahead in frenzied speed, or coast, or putter, trying to conserve our fuel, to extend our time on the road. We probably do all of the above at sometime or other. This weekend, the Lovely Carla and I revisted a seminal film that we originally saw together (not in 1975, probably a few years later 1978? 1979? on re-release) Michaelagelo Antonioni's (admit it the name suggests "genius!"), "The Passenger." I don't really want to review the film, except to say that orginally viewing it was one of those events that had a profound effect on both of us, brought us closer together, made us realize the beauty and mystery of the journey that we were embarked upon, and affirmed that we were lucky to be making the trip with a fellow, like-minded, traveller. It opened the door to all the essential questions, about existence, identity, uncertainty. Seeing it again, brought all this back, front and center, as if there were no "time and distance." We both walked from the theater with a sense of wonder and joy. The ultimate experience of art, for me, is a "kicking open the door," or a "breaking open the head," that destroys preconceptions, that melts certain assumptions. It is amazing a film can do such a thing. It's also quite exhilarating.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Open the Door, Richard" - B. Dylan

Lately I've been trying to live the discipline of anti-discipline. To find a more spontaneous approach to experiencing the moments of my existence. It's all very paradoxical, which suggests to me, I'm onto some profundity, which of course, I must immediately banish from my thought processes, because "profundity" seems like some sort of death knell. There's this tension between remembering and forgetting, a kind of self-canceling mode that hopefully opens up a vista: the now. I have noticed time seems much more malleable. Some moments speed up, some slow down. I've been playing guitar every day, and I have been getting lost in notes, chord structures. There's noise, then silence. I've been "breaking things down," in order to "understand" how a song works, then I try to let that knowledge go, and sort of improvise on the fret-board. This "work" seems like play. Another paradox, that seems to kick open a door.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Matter of Empathy

Empathy is the ability or the capacity to identify with or "understand" the position, the "feelings" of another. I think it's something we all have to some degree (except for maybe the real social cretins - serial killers, etc). I realize that from a very young age, that empathy has been a guiding principle of mine ("but for the grace of god, go I"). It may have been passed down to me from my father, my mother, it may have been programmed in my genes, who knows? I first really felt it in Catholic grade school. There was a kid, with glasses, braces, frequent nose-bleeds, who just stood out in the crowd, (kind of like Jerzy Kosinski's "Painted Bird). Some kids went out of their way to torment him, I guess to make themselves feel superior, to show that they were stronger, to show they weren't like him. Lack of empathy is great if you want to divide into "us" and "them" camps. This always sickened me. I went out of my way to be nice to this kid, partly because I identified with him. I was one of those quiet kids, who really just wanted to be invisible, I often wasn't noticed, which is how I liked it. I wasn't really friends with "Nosebleed," but I'd help him up when he fell down, or kind of shielded him when it looked like he was stepping into trouble. Later I had my own problem with bullies, there was one particular kid who loved to sit on me and make me eat dirt. Finally, improbably, one afternoon I landed a lucky punch square on the bully's nose and he never bothered me again, but I never forgot being on the dirt end of the equation. This is a long way to my thought that I still see the world through this prism. If there's someone down and out, some underdog, some prisoner being tortured in some secret room or some street person feeling the the sharp end of a stick, like Steinbeck's Tom Joad, "I am there." I guess I'm basically a "bleeding heart." I wear this label with honor. At the same time, I believe I must have a steely resolve to work towards a better world. A world where empathy is a sign of strength, not of weakness.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Noise Room

Last night, the Telepaths, (minus one) got together to create an unholy, r&r noise. It was pure pleasure. Turns out our bass player is a guitarist extraordinaire, our new drummer has "hands of stone," our vocalist found his "sweet spot," and my new guitar is like a bolt of lightening in my hands. At least that's how it all seemed to me from my vantage point. There's something about simple chords, a solid beat, tossed off lyrics, sing-a-long choruses. My father, in his later years, spent much his time at the old fishing hole, he used to say there was a Chinese proverb about how fishing didn't count against your time on earth. That's how I feel about playing guitar. It's out of time, a pure pleasure. By the way, looking for old Chinese proverbs, I found this: Tiger father begets Tiger son.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"So much trouble in the world..." - B. Marley

Is this so obvious, that it's stupid to even bring up? Well, that never stopped me before...If the "good guys," in order to do battle with the "bad guys," use torture, murder, bombs, bullets, phosphourus chemicals; if they sometimes imprison innocent bystanders, kill women, children and old men; if they lie about doing these things, and lie about the reasons for doing them (for instance, by using big, abstract, good-sounding words to cover their actions), if they live in a "democracy," but make most of their decisions in secret, if they show contempt for the people they represent by saying one thing and actually doing another, if they hold themselves up as good and true and moral examples, and accuse anyone not toeing the line, of giving comfort to the "bad guys," is it any wonder, "good," and "bad," start to seem like relative terms? Is it surprising that someone might start thinking that it's not that some people are inherently good or bad, but instead that they are capable of both, and it's their actions which are to be "judged," and if the actions of the good and bad guys are identical, doesn't morality look like another "word game?" Is it fair to say that words and beliefs are just a smokescreen, that it's only what you do in the world that defines you?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Musical!

Last night was a scene of domestic bliss at the old homestead. The Lovely Carla got home, parked herself in front of the TV with her dinner and watched her show, "The Gilmore Girls." Hey everyone needs "a show!" I sat in the kitchen writing my musical. Think Billy Joel, Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Lieber and Stoller, George Gershwin, Pete Townsend - you get my drift? Suddenly, I'm consumed with the idea that I can write a ROCK OPERA!

"I am, he said..."
"I write the songs..."
"Tommy can you hear me..."

The mind reels.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Special Bond

The Lovely Carla was off yesterday, I was working from home, so we had plenty of time for sly and friendly banter as we went through our appointed rounds. I especially liked this little exchange, I think it nicely sums up the dichotomy of our special bond...

Sunny Jimmy: Every morning, I wake up and ask myself, 'What can I do to make my honey happy.'
The Lovely Carla: Every night, before I go to sleep, I say to myself, 'I'm living with the Devil.'

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Two Trains Running"

The Lovely Carla attended a Director's workshop this weekend. I originally thought it was a good idea for her to go, thinking there might be some new information, new inspiration, and if it turned out to be a total waste of time, she could split. Turns out, she got a lot out of it, meeting with other directors, hearing how others try to work within an ensemble, how they deal with organizational issues and work with actors (the Michael Chekhov technique). Every night, she came back and kind of shared the highlights with me. I kind of got a vicarious kick, from seeing the new fire in her eyes, hearing how she incorporated the new information, seeing a glimmer of how it will help us in our new performance adventures.

I spent most of the weekend, noodling on my new guitar (it's a custom-made John Suhr classic), working on a song which I'm thinking will be the "grand theme" of what I'm sort of hoping will be our new musical/performace piece. I've got much material to draw from, I realize now, that while I was searching for the next thing, it was materializing before me. This is how we work together, the Lovely Carla and I. We zing along on two totally unique tracks, and then kind of watch how they collide and then organically track together. It's an amazing process, and it humbles me every damn time it happens.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

After the Crash

I seem to have fallen into a pattern of behaviour. Once a week, I kind of hit an energy deficit, and crash. Yesterday was my crash day. The weather cooperated, it was kind of cold and dark, so I seemed in tune with the elements. I went for a run on the lakefront, came back, and kind of staggered through the motions of a day. I ended up on the couch, watched Notre Dame play football, listented to "Cream Live a Albert Hall." I took a long, hot soak in the tub, (think Edward G. Robinson in "Little Ceasar" minus the cigar) and read, "Hip: The History." I crashed out early, about 9:00 p.m. and slept like a little baby. I'm a new man this morning. Refreshed, re-charged, etc. Where does the energy come from, where does it go? I just don't know..."I'm your vehicle baby, I'll take you anywhere you want to go..."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"Sometimes a Great Notion" - K. Kesey (with thanks to Leadbelly)

Well, there are limits, we know because they tell us so. There's death and gravity, and if a frog could sprout wings, maybe his ass wouldn't bounce on the ground so much; but maybe the limits aren't as clearly defined as we think. Maybe it pays to test those limits once in a while. Maybe we really have nothing to lose. Maybe it's possible to "ask for the impossible." And if we did, maybe our idea of what's possible and what is not, would melt in the light of a grand wonder.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"The Road of Excess, leads to the Palace of Wisdom" - Wm. Blake

I guess I'm drawn to a certain alienation (from other people, the world at large). It's something I've cultivated since I was young. Not sure where this originally came from, maybe it was some kind of genetic heritage, it just seems to be a natural tendency for me. I like to think that it is an avenue to some kind of "enlightenment," but this is not a given. There's always this "stanger in a strange land" feeling to everything I do. Maybe this is not so unique, maybe it's a result of our materially driven, consumer society. The fraternity I'm drawn to, is the fraternity of "lone wolves," they don't like to hang together, they don't seek comfort in the pack. There's a profound lonliness that comes in the bargain. Maybe this is not a bad thing, maybe a certain strength comes with it too. It doesn't matter if I'm in the middle of a crowd, with friends, with family, it's always there. I've used this "space" to create things, other worlds, other realities, it's like I'm always seeking a lonely palace of knowledge, a hard knowledge that can only be experienced alone.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Angel Tendencies

One of the rules to live by (besides "make no rules"), found in Keith Johnstone's "Impro," when in doubt: BREAK A ROUTINE. Let's say you're down and out, adrift, out to sea, etc. Let's say you've misplaced your mojo. What's a Lone Pilgrim to do? Jump into a parallel universe, try on a new suit of clothes, buy something (it's the driver for this mad, mad, mad, consumer culture - in my case, I finally found the mythical, "ultimate guitar," and I took the plunge!), crack a new book (I suggest the superb "The History of Hip" by John Leland - it's a "hipology," that explains it all!), listen to new tunes, (In my case I rediscovered an old disc of Bluesbreakers cuts with the sublime blues guitar of Peter Green), go to new place, (I wandered the down and out streets of LA sprawl), eat exotic foods, (Indian, French and Asian), fly in the air at 32,000 feet, meditate until the golden light envelops your entire being, repeat until well done, although it's important to remember that even all this can become routine, which you then must assiduously break!

So, in my head, (deep into the tome on HIP), I was hanging with the hipsters, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Dashiel Hammet, and of course, Jack Kerouac. I discover this little tidbit: Kerouac was kicked out of the Navy because of his dedication to "complete and absolute freedom," and what the Psychiatrists called "Angel Tendencies." Hmmm, every hipster (as per the African word "hepi" - enlightened) has a little bit of the Angel (Angel of Joy, Angel of Doom), in them. According to Walt Whitman we must be "poets of goodness, and poets of wickedness too." Sounds like an ambitious regimen, but it's where the mojo is to be found.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Golden State

Is it possible I fell into a wormhole and I got a glimpse of myself living in a parallel universe? Let's just say in this other world, I used to own a Surf shop in Laguna, I now lay low in the shadow of Santa Anita, living at the Azuza Motorcourt, I cook my meals on a hot plate, I still eat TV dinners, I watch reruns of Dobie Gillis, and Dick Van Dyke, I hang out at Shady Brady's, I own a vintage Chevy low-rider, my car stereo blasts Cream's "Wheels on Fire," and Hendrix's "Electric Lady Land," and Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde," I live off my hard-fought winnings at the track, (the first-time lasix rule still holds, and nobody else notices!), I regularly venture over to the ocean, take out my trusty old surf board, (oh if only it could talk!), and try to catch a wave that will get the heart pumping in double-time. I hang out with burnt-out rock stars with names like "Lefty," and "Jo-Jo," and ex-Playboy Bunnies named "Darlene." I live a life on the margins, I embrace alienation, my life is full and every night I watch the sunset in the West and I think, "ain't it great to be an American?" I aspire to be the "coolest cat," on my block...I am, but no one else knows it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"This blink seems just like that other blink."

If you've been around long enough, things start to remind you of other things. This trip, resembles that other trip. This place, evokes memories of another place. This meal, reminds you of a meal you had long ago, in a land far away. Many things start to have a "deja vu" aspect to them. You start thinking: "I've been here before, I've done this before, I've thought about how I've done this before, before." Maybe that's what it means to "get old." Finally, everything seems to be a reflection of an experience you had another time, another place, and so, there's no room left for the new. I think you have to battle this tendency. It's all a damn illusion anyway. Our bodies provide us with some continuity (look in the mirror, if you dare!), but really every morning, every day, every moment is in some way NEW. The past is gone, the future awaits, and the now is IT! You have to remind yourself, "This moment will not repeat...it is unique, and it goes so damn quickly, even as I recognize it. Shit, it just passed me by."

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