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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Is it Love or Confusion?

This has been a strange day...the weather in Chicago is sublime. I've been weathering storms on the work front, but there's a strange calm that has descended upon me...

I bought Dylan's new CD. A new Dylan means a good day...

Anyway is the calm some kind of Buddha posture, or just ennui? Who knows? I guess I'll just go with it...the Lovely Carla beckons...off to see the "little man" about some soy milk and chocolate.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

That God-Feeling

I'm reading about Timothy Leary, the LSD guru who believed that he could transform society by introducing the population to god via a psychedilc experience...he certainly helped blow the doors open in the sixties and seventies...he also helped hasten the end of psychology (he was a psychologist himself) and the beginning of pharmacology as the answer to all our problems. "Better living through chemistry," as they say.

Today, you take a pill if you can't digest the swill you're eating. You take a pill if you feel down. You take a pill if you feel dizzy, or anxious, or constipated, or you can't leave your house because, well, because it's just too damn scary out there...

There does seem to be some kind of evolution of thinking: revelation (god) to psychology (evolution) to chemistry (drugs)...so Leary was just completing the circle back to god via chemistry...and well, you can get that "god-feeling," just by meditating, or running, or looking at a sunset, or eating chocolate, or loving someone, or being loved, or...well there's a million ways to feel a euphoria, a joy, a sense that you are connected to something larger than yourself, that you're a brother or sister to the plants and animals and stars...a feeling of health and well-being...don't need no stinking dogma, or church, or big dude on high, to get you to the right place...it's in us baby...all the colors of the rainbow are inside us...ain't it so groooovvvvyyyyy!?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Con Game

America is a Con Game writ large. The engine of this empire is run on the greed, the dishonesty, the gullibility and the optimism of the populace. I think we actually revere the Con Man. For examples of the Con Game in action please refer to: Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington D.C. Be sure to check your wallet when dealing with the Financial Services sector, or the Insurance game.

The days of honest labor are waning. In fact, today, the honest day-laborer is mocked, ridiculed by the participants in the big Con. The promises of the Con: "you can do what's never been done, you can win what's never been won." We're told we can have it all, all the time. And we see the lucky ones who seem to live in another realm of infinite riches, big cars, flashy diamonds, endless party...

"You make the big score, and then you're free" - Billy the Kid
"We blew it." - Captain America

I've lived with the Easy Rider ethos for many, many years. One deal away from nirvana. I know it's an illusion, this irrational promise of golden riches...I've been conned, lived the con, practiced the con. All entertaiment is a con game (sometimes it pays off) - promising more than the price of a ticket.

Sometimes the Con works because you do win, or someone wins. Sometimes you do walk away from the table with a bankroll. The gold is dancing in your eyes. You know it's a temporary high, a small win, there are always future games ahead...but maybe, just maybe, you'll know when to call it quits, you'll be smart, you'll know when the time is right...and then, what's next? Oh yeah, there's another game waiting...and maybe you can try your luck one more time...you're good enough, smart enough, and damn people like you...so, they say you can't cheat an honest man, but of course you can...

Monday, August 28, 2006

They all Want to Whack You!

I watched Brian De Palma's "Carlito's Way," last night. I remember seeing it when it orginally came out in 1993. I always thought it was a well-made movie, I kind of saw it as a tamer retread of "Scarface," the joyfully, delerious, over the top coke-fest scripted by Oliver Stone. Today, I'm here to claim that "Carlito's Way," is one of the great movies of the 90's. What a beautifully filmed piece. It's odd and surreal, with incredible color and dizzying camera moves. Al Pacino (of course), can do Italian, he can do Puerto Rican. He's sort of campy, and strangely authentic at the same time. Also Sean Penn as the Jewish lawyer is an incredible treat. There are movie cliches galore, but that's part of the joy. We know this story, it plays out like all good tragedies...we see a man, so human, inexorably moving towards his doom (can he make it to Paradise before his past catches up to him?) - "everyone ends up as they are."

De Palma, an absolute master, is in total command. Pacino, as Carlito Brigante provides a voice-over narration...as a word-smith myself, I'm a sucker for voice-over. I love how the technique distances us, and pulls us in at the same time. Anyway, this morning I quote two gems from the great Carlito Brigante:

"A favor can kill you faster than a bullet."

"You get old enough, everyone has a reason to whack you."

sunnyjimmy: Yeah, two more reasons to follow that dream...wherever it leads...and damn the torpedos...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Multiplicity of Deities

The Lovely Carla and I were out and about yesterday, no great plans, we were in the mode of taking in the day, come what may. We went to the Bucktown Art Fest to visit friends and comrades. I ended up in a fiery political debate with my doppleganger, (it's a yearly ritual), who is diametrically opposed to everything I think, eat and breathe. It's kind of refreshing and exhilarating, (frustrating too) to find another fairly intelligent human being who sees everything absolutely contrariwise than I. It almost seems impossible (can there be any consensus? NOPE. I see up, he sees down, I see left, he sees right). It makes you realize there really isn't one world...only versions, infinite versions of the damn thing.

So anyway with all the discussion of terror and prayer, and Ayatollahs, and Christian Fundamentalists, and war and peace and corruption, and torture, etc. It became clear to me, that my polar-opposite was in the Christian Ayatollah Camp, ready to do battle with the Muslim Ayatollah camp...

I was not prepared to take sides in that craziness...I threw my hat in the ring with Las Vegas, Internet Porn, Rock and Roll, a world of QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS, free of ideologies...

Which leads me to...today I'm reading about Eliot Minz, who used to be a publicist for John Lennon. Eliot now works for Paris Hilton. According to Eliot, Lennon was a voice of a generation, and he believes that Paris is too. "Young people don't believe in politicians, they don't believe in their leaders. They look to celebrities to lead them." Now I don't know if looking to celebrities to lead us will bring us to a more just society, a higher minimum wage, more education and health care for the young and old, peace and prosperity...but maybe following the exploits of Paris Hilton is it's own little utopia.

What a strange continuum...but ya know, the more I think of it, it makes some kind of strange sense...from Lennon to Paris. "He (Eliot) really gets me, the whole Paris thing. He knows it's all a game." - P. Hilton

I'd rather play with the godless heathens of this mad pop culture world than the death-embracing world of the apocalyptic Ayatollahs of judgement and morality, and pin-headed-one-god-religions. Pagans of consumer culture live in a land of a multiplicity of deities...Lennon and Paris...long live multiplicity!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Sphinx Speaks

"Let's face it, you're either serious about what you're doing or you're not serious about what you're doing. And you can't mix the two. And life is short." - B. Dylan

Friday, August 25, 2006


I love running. I'm a dedicated runner. It's something I'll probably do until I can't. This morning I was feeling so good, it was like my shoes (Pearl Izumis) had wings on them...kind of like that old gas station sign...if you run long enough you'll find that there's always someone faster than you, (which is humbling - "damn it's like I'm stuck in mud!") or slower than you (which is validating - "man, I still got it!"), and sometimes it happens on the same morning (which is humbling and validating at the same time! "I'm fast, but not the fastest, I'm slow, but not the slowest."). And you realize it's the same for all the other runners too...although somewhere there must be someone who is the fastest, and someone who is the slowest, at least at that particular time and place, although, since my morning jaunt isn't a race, (although once in awhile a runner will go out of their way to challenge another - "death on the highway" don't ya know!), everyone is starting from a different place, and going to a different place too, there is no real way to say what's what and who's who - we are all on our unique journey, with our own unique goal. The guy or gal keeping that blistering pace may be going around the block, that twisted old paralytic-looking dude one of Samuel Becketts long-suffering survivors, may be doing a marathon. So who's really impressing whom? Some mornings I fly with the Angels, with no effort, some mornings it's like I'm pulling a ball and chain...some mornings I'm ready to dance with the clouds, some mornings my only mantra is: "just don't hurt yourself!"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

One Shot (thanks to Marshall Mathers)

One shot, a spunky little spermatoza,
a fat and shiny human egg,
they meet up for the big rodeo
what they're making, they don't know

Once they get going
it's all about dividing
and multiplying,
and turning into other things

They no longer exist
as seperate entities
they can't explain it,
but they are one

So they float in space
and exit the void
and enter a world
they never made

And then it's a real
strange ride
with nowhere to hide
and the changes
keep coming

a trajectory
like a shooting star

shoot up high
peak in the sky
there's a slow
decline, or a big
bang, or a meek

and then they
split up again
into tiny little
microscopic pieces
finally invisible
tiny energies
kind of melting
into the infinite sea

make it real
make it real
make it real real

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I like reading biographies. They have become my favorite read, partly because if they are well-written, you can learn much about particular times and places, as well as the human game of living - you learn about the life, and the context of living a life. Now some of this is just selective editing, any book is subject to skepticism I suppose. Do most lives really have a theme, or is that really a device used by the author to make the life and the book more compelling? Like so much else a biography is a work of art (artifice) just like much of what we make of the world.

Some of my favorite subjects have included: Jean Genet, Howard Hughes, Richard Nixon, Neil Young, Jack Kerouac, William Blake, Vince Lombardi, Bob Dylan, Dean Martin, Nicholas Ray, Robert Oppenheimer, Led Zeppelin, Sam Fuller, Thomas Merton, Bing Crosby, Phil Lesh, Terry Southern, Sonny Liston, Christopher Marlowe, Billy Strayhorn, William Shakespeare, Andre Breton, Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, Robert Irwin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jean Cocteau, Michel Foucalt, Johnny Lydon, Jean Paul Satre...

Right now I'm reading a biography of Timothy Leary. It's a real kick. Here's a line from Kerouac to Leary as they discuss how the good Doctor is going to transform society (I think it's clear that he did so, whether for good or bad is anybody's call):

Kerouac: "Coach Leary, walking on water wasn't built in a day."

Now that makes little ole sunnyjimmy just want to sit up and laugh...and laugh...and laugh!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Three Days

Ben Franklin (Poor Richard) tells us, "early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

Well, Ben, I'm not sure about health, wealth or wisdom, but there's certainly something to be said for the "well-rested" man...

The early bird may catch the worm, but birds and men cannot live on worms alone...

Sleep deprivation is a good way to break a human being; add in three days of debauchery (too much sweat, way too many cold beers, lots of laughter and a little stumbling), and you've got a good idea of what the Abbie Fest really meant to ole sunnyjimmy...

How can I feel good if I don't feel bad? How can I be up if I'm not down? We live in a bi-polar world, right? There's the north and south, and as one of Bukowski's titles once posited - there's the "South of No North."

It was probably all too much, or just enough, or too little, too late, or anyway it was something...hell it was loads of fun too, although as I've been known to say, "fun isn't what it's cracked up to be." Now I'm on a new kick...clean living...let's see how long that lasts...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Post Abbie Post

I think I'd need to get Herman Melville to do a post-Abbie writeup that would do it justice...let's just say, it is a Great White Whale of a festival of staged entertainment. I really rode that whale this time...almost went down with the beast (too many little green soldiers - the Heinekein variety - don't ya know?), but hung in there from beginning to end: the march, the grand and noble opening ceremonies, the highs and lows of comedy and tragedy and everything in between, the ups and downs of live performance, and finally the chilling laying away of the earthly remains of our martyred hero. Ah, yes, though we bury him, he does live, yes, Abbie lives...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Abbie Diary

My Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Festival Diary...

Friday August 18: A rough-cut show, out of tune and unsatisfying...
Saturday August 19: A rollicking, supremely exhilarating experience...

This is the beauty of live performance...you can go from one end of the spectrum to the other in a blink of an eye.

What a great, inspiring event...a carnival of creativity...

Biff Rose: It isn't a small world, it's a big world...

And brother, sometimes it is great to be alive and in it...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"I am So Out of Tune...with You." - Wilco

Wallace Shawn once said something like: 'nothing is ever what you think it will be..." I think that's true. Last night was a good example. I was really looking forward to our performance at the Abbie Fest, but it didn't exactly play out as I envisioned. My trusty guitar, it's my Excalibur, let me down somehow (was it the humidity?). I had tuned it a half hour before performance time, but when it came time to hit that first ringing cord, some strange, off-key sound rang out across the stage. It seemed like I was strangling a snake...it kind of set the tone for the night. OFF-KEY. This is the beauty of live performance...you never know what's coming next. You have to ride the wave, and try to catch another more to your liking...we salvaged the show, the other actors picked up the energy, the bass and drums filled the holes...but man, that was unlikely, unexpected and oh so gnarly! I wonder what's coming next?!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Levitating the Pentagon

I took the day off...it's the kickoff of the "Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Fest," tonight. My little theater group has performed there 7 or 8 years running (it's somewhat foggy in my noggin). It's a cool Chicago theatrical institution, hosted by one of my heroes, Rich Cotovsky overseeing the proceedings in his guise as Abbie; a celebration of the the splendiferous, rag-tag, bare knuckles and broad shoulders version of the dramatic arts. There ain't no bullshit to be found in Rich or his approach to the work.

What I like about the fest: it's a snapshot of what's happening now...from the sublime to the shit, and everything in between. My group is to be found somewhere in that mix...we've probably hit both ends of the spectrum somewhere along the line.

I'm feeling good about our new piece; it combines our usual mix of odd and twisted, cut and paste scenes, with original music, backed by a little three-piece r&r combo. There's a kick to acting, playing guitar and...oh mercy, singing in public...there have been moments when I can see we have something that could really be a breakthrough for our little group.

It's all transitory and tentative...seeking perfection, but knowing that it's a place like Eldorado...it beckons, out in the mist...promising riches beyond imagination...does it really exist or not?

Well, what the fuck...it's "put up or shut up" time...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Enjoy Every Sandwich

I came across a YouTube this morning, a clip of Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers (plus Warren Zevon's son), playing the Zevon penned tune, "Lawyers, Guns and Money," on David Lettermen...it's a cut from a tribute album to Zevon called "Enjoy Every Sandwich."

Yes, indeed...watching the clip, one is struck by how much a young Jakob resembles a famous young Bob... carrying on a certain tradition, doing it in a similiar vein, or at least a familiar vein, (it's in the DNA), but also unmistakably and irrevocably a different vein too, somehow everything is transformed in every particular...and damn, isn't that how the world goes...?

Zevon was one of those rockers who supposedly burned the candle at both ends and in the middle too...but he did leave an impressive collection of songs...(easy to forget, and easy to remember how often I found myself spinning the vinyl, dropping the needle on Zevon's albums, listening to his wry lyrical take, backed by a solid rock band, spiced by L.A. swagger, Raymond Chandleresque, with a shot of HST bravado, and sense of impending doom )...I remember a New Year's Eve show that still ranks up there with the "best ever," maybe because I was young and reckless, and Warren was up there on-stage wielding his guitar like a rock and roll gunslinger, and at the time, (sometimes now too) he seemed to be reflecting something inside me with his rollicking r&r, mock-troubadour, brilliantly smartass music...what a strange alchemy...

"Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School"

So the Zevon legacy lives, the Dylan line continues, Jack Paar morphs into Johnny Carson, Carson morphs into David Lettermen...yes, and every sandwich does count in some way, right? There is a continuity, a sameness about the form (just like r&r, just like life) - two slices of bread, and something (could be just about anything) in between. What you put in there is up to you, although there is ultimately a finite number of choices...but, by some magical formula that adheres in the real world - no two sandwiches are the same... (it's this bread, this slice of bologna, this particular pickle - at this moment - and no other), to paraphrase (or dance around) another famous phrase... since you can't devour the same sandwich twice, make the most of the one you have on your plate at the moment...enjoy...now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gems from the Science Times

1. "You don't see what you're seeing until you see it, but when you do see it, it lets you see many other things."

sunnyjimmy: Yes, this is my credo! It almost sounds like the mission statement from my Theater group...

2. "To a topologist, a sphere, a cigar and a rabbit's head are all the same because they can be deformed into one another."

sunnyjimmy: Kind of reminds me of that mystical idea that if you can look at the world with clear eyes you will see the ONE.

3. "Astronomers are still arguing about the overall shape of the universe, wondering if it's topology resembles a sphere, a bagel or something even more complicated."

sunnyjimmy: I'd go with bagel...I mean, of course, it would be an EVERYTHING BAGEL!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Path

Someone told me I'm on a "path of perfection." Not exactly sure what that means, but I like the sound of it, although, if there is such a thing, the path is a long and winding one with brambles, obstacles, dead ends, and false trails...

And then there's this:

Lovely Carla: Everytime I look at you, you make me sad.
sunnyjimmy: It will only get worse.
Lovely Carla: I know.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Steve Zissou, (think red cap and speedo): "What an adventure..."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

We are Family

Hey this was in the Washington Post, so it must be true right? (Well, remember all their great reporting before the Iraq War? So maybe not...)

Anyway, accurate or not, there's an assertion that many of us are "descended from royalty." So you say, Big Fucking Deal! Remember all those pasty, consumptive, tight-asses...and on the other end of the spectrum, remember we're also descended from crazed, and uppity monkeys...

But then there's this line: "Humphrys estimates that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appears on the family tree of every person in the Western world."

Now that kind of puts our recent politico-religious turmoil in a new light doesn't it? Think of Muhammad as that crazy uncle in the attic, with all those wifes, ranting on about paradise and virgins and whatnot... Kind of makes the world seem smaller for some reason...we can look at our "enemies" as estranged cousins or something...it's all just one big family feud...I guess I would be more excited about finding out that Muhammad Ali, (float like a butterfly, sting like a bee) was my "dutch uncle," but that's just me...

UPDATE: Wikpedia says - "Dutch uncle" is a term for a person who issues frank and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage or admonish someone, often with benevolent intent, as an elder relative or uncle would.

So I guess what I was saying was I wish Muhammad Ali would give me some severe and frank "encouragement."

Ali: So sunnyjimmy keep your left up, don't drop your elbow, and go on the attack...otherwise you're just another pasty, whiny, titty boy!

Friday, August 11, 2006


Jim Jarmusch: "80% of the fucking planet is asleep..."

I don't think it's hard to tell who is awake and who is sleeping...


Could we be dreaming of being awake, when we're sleeping, or dreaming that we're sleeping, when we're awake?

Are we the butterfly dreaming of being a caterpillar, or a caterpillar dreaming of being a butterfly? The Buddha sits under a Bodhi tree sleeping off a drunk...do visions of debauch cloud his perfect vision?

"I guess Nobody gets you now..." - Dead Man.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Vision Statement

We are all on our own unique journey...it's easy to say, "follow your heart," or "do what you love." Easy to say, less easy sometimes, to do. But "do," we must (or maybe not)...

The first challenge is to find your heart...find what you love...sometimes it's a moving target, sometimes we are our own worst enemy...sometimes we just aren't up to the challenge...sometimes (maybe a lifetime) we just don't know who, what, where, when or why...we just muddle through, or live someone's else's vision of what we "should," do...

Also, "following our heart," does not necessarily mean "easy street," in fact it probably has nothing to do with ease...

Sometimes we still have to do things we don't want to do...it's part of the following your heart thing, even if you sometimes have to listen to your head, or your gut, or your landlord...

We need to work...we need to apply ourselves, we need to challenge ourselves, we need to push ourselves into uncomfortable scenes to find out who we are, to find out what's really important...some of us just don't want to do it...maybe sometimes it's easier to be bored, to be lazy, to not care, to not try, to not do...

You know what? To put it sort of bluntly: fuck that...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Battle

What to do when the knives are out? Find the humour, act with grace? Easier said than done, but yes, I think that is the path to follow. When to stand and fight, when to stand down? Well, it's not a science, there are no clear-cut lines, it is an art just as much of what makes up our lives is an art...

I'm not good with authority...my first reaction upon any declaration from on high is to resist (what's that Rage Against the Machine line? - "Fuck you, I'm not doing what you tell me to..." - not exactly Keats or Shelley, but I'm definitely down with the sentiment), although sometimes it doesn't really pay to resist, or there are some things not worth resisting, things not worth expending the energy on. Some would counsel "no resistance," - a supreme passivity could be seen as a strength, but again this is not in my natural make-up...

So, I was in the middle of a battle yesterday, I was the odd man out, not so foreign to me, and I watched myself as the battle (3 against 1) unfolded. I held my ground, no backing down, but I did not let the knives of aggression strike me down. I found it all a little amusing...the others brought some heat to the fight, I was cool, parried every thrust...left smiling and somewhat happy...(probably infuriated my opponents even more)...oh well...when you're feeling sunny, no one else's dark clouds can obscure the light...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Creative Dichotomy

Two songwriters, two approaches to the work:

Tom Petty: Every song has already been written, you just have to tune yourself in to the cosmic radio station.

Joe Strummer: Bollocks! You have to beat it (every song) out of your brain.

Friday, August 04, 2006


This makes me smile:

Paul Kantner (from 1970, Blows Against the Empire): "Sign me up as a diplomat, my only office is the park."

We still need someone to speak for the trees, the grasses, the little hopping bunnies...

Yamataka Eye (vocalist for the Japanese band The Boredoms): "I had seen the sun rise. I started thinking about my position in relation to the sun. I also thought that the sun made a sound. I didn't hear the sun make a sound, but I had an idea of what the sound would be like."

Eye represented this sound as a wordless chanting pattern repeated over and over.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Accident (There are no accidents?)

Sunny Jimmy: I'm an accident waiting to happen.
Lovely Carla: No, you're an accident that already happened.

UPDATE: Which sets me off on a rambling speculation (is this what TPM calls "naval gazing?") What exactly is an accident?

According to Wikpedia: "An accident is something going wrong unexpectedly. Physical examples include an unintended collision (including a person or object unintendedly falling), getting injured by touching something sharp, hot, electrically live, ingesting poisons, or getting injured by not properly landing when jumping. Non-physical examples include babies being born."

Do we live in a world of probabilities? Inevitabilities? Actualities (what happens is what happens?!). Are the things that happen the only things that could have happened? Are words like would, could and should just idle chatter?

Are these just useless questions with no definitive answers?

"Something going wrong unexpectedly," sounds like much of what we call human interaction...babies being born are accidents? Tell that to the sperm and the egg!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Players

One of the life-changing books I've read, (I've mentioned it in previous posts), is "Impro," by Keith Johnstone, it's primarily about acting, comedy, improvisation, but it's also about creativity, and how we all have access to a fantastic creative realm, if we can drop the "blocks," the "walls," that inevitably go up in the course of our education and our lives...

I do believe we can all "have it," we can tap into this realm of creativity to live fulfilling lives, we can transform ourselves and the world...sometimes when things are clicking, when a group of people get together in some kind of creative collaboration, it is "magical," it is powerful, it is life-affirming...

It's also just a small thing, playing music in the kitchen on a hot summer night. Three voices echoing out over the linoleum, a guitar played by a player, but at the same time the player is played too...

Sometimes we make the music, and sometimes the music makes us...that's when you know it's working, when you're not sure where one ends and one begins...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I'm posting from the coffee shop down the street from my hideout. Chillin with the A/C...sipping an iced drink...the place is packed, we are all refugees from the heat. The weather, like death, is a great leveller...everyone feels the extremes, it sort of unites us. The weather, like death, also reminds us of how little we really can control in our lives. So much of what we do is react to events in the world. So, in this way, we really are products of our times. I have always been, "death haunted," not so much fearing it, as acknowledging it as a reality in my moment to moment existence, at the same time I've always been oblivious to age, not really thinking of my own (too young, too old), and at the same time not really feeling comfortable in my skin...it's always been a moment to moment uneasiness with "the way things are." I have some good memories, some bad too, but ultimately my life seems like a series of dreams that have passed through me...as I've also passed through them...death and weather...I (we) pass through them too...

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