Vote Blue 2020

Vote Blue 2020

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Was Pat Tillman Murdered?

I was always a little baffled by the Pat Tillman story. Young football star inks a multi-million dollar contract, walks away from the glitter and the gold to join the Army, goes to Afganistan. Gets killed, hailed as a hero. Tillman becomes a perfect tool of propaganda.

Was it just hubristic stupidity? Admirable heroism? In another time, Hemingway might have used Tillman as a template.

Then slowly the story starts to unravel. Turns out Tillman was killed by "friendly fire." Weeks, months, years go by before the story slowly starts to emerge in drips and drabs. Mulitple bullets at close range. His uniform was burned. His diary was burned. His Army buddies are uniformly "close-mouthed." The Tillman family is lied to, over and over. The chain of command is making up stories that don't add up.

Tillman's brother testifies in front of Congress, and his righteous indignation is supremely compelling. What is being covered up here? Tillman starts to emerge as tool of propaganda of a completely different kind.

Also, turns out Tillman was gung ho about tracking down Osama Bin Laden, but not so happy about our occupation of Iraq. Tillman is a friend of Noam Chomsky. Tillman keeps a diary, documenting what? Tillman is an atheist. Tillman starts to look more and more like some kind of existentialist hero. Tillman is Sisyphus. Tillman echoes the absurdity of the human condition. Tillman is dead. And the truth is buried in the desert, or the hills.

And the Army, the Pentagon, Rumsfield, and Cheney and Bush - what the fuck? There's always the cover story. The liars spin their web. And then just below the surface another story starts bubbling...and where is the truth...? Will it be glimpsed? Can it be denied? Again?

UPDATE: And Tillman finally reaches apotheosis. He's a symbol. A metaphor. The innocent hero, fighting the bad guys, ends up in a foreign land, gunned down by his own guys. They're over there fighting an enemy they can't really see. Can't tell who's the good guys, who's the bad guys. Looks like the people that sent him there had other motives. Hero or sap? Know one really knows. Tillman - dead man.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Freak

One more post about Freak Fest. One of the great things about the fest is that much of the audience was made up of musicians. People sitting watching the acts on stage, later, got onstage and performed too. And musicians were playing for musicians, and well there was no competition, instead there was a wonderful attentiveness, an awareness, a sensitivity, a solidarity about the creative thing.

Instead of an invisible barrier between performer and audience - pampered rock star vs. r&r fan - there were no barriers. "The Freaks" ruled. Everyone could play and sing and dance, and well, isn't that the DIY ideal totally embodied? It was a beautiful thing. And there was no bullshit. Everything and everyone was music. I mean, there were a few people who were there to be the audience. They wanted to enjoy the performances, they wanted to watch and listen and that was that...but even those folks seemed open and creative and fucking interesting.

So in that way, this little experiment in the corn really was kind of freaky. What if you could go to a place where everyone was cool and creative, and loved music and it wasn't about the hustle or the money, or some "star" trip? Wouldn't that just be the freakyist, coolest place on earth to be?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Flying the Freak Flag High

Back home after a little excurison to Plateville, Wisconsin to play a show and submerge ourselves deeply in the funky authenticity of Freak Fest. We motored up in a big old rented Mountaineer (it would be an ideal vehicle for a little band on the road, if only it ran on bio-fuels, or solar power, or human excrement!), loaded to the gills with instruments, people (the Lovely Carla, Sara the bass player, her metal band boyfriend Markus, and me, your humble tour guide), a cooler full of ginger beer, bread rolls, cheese of various kinds, and a bag full of cds (Neil Young, Pelican, White Stripes, Byork, Cat Power, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Jim White).

Plateville is about a 4 hour drive from Chicago. We drove up early on Friday and arrived in Plateville mid-afternoon. Freak Fest is held on a 400 acre farm (feed corn and soybeans) in the rolling, verdant fields of the heartland. It seems Wisconsin is endless tracts of corn and soybeans, dotted with taverns and cemetaries and well, from the first to last, I guess, that about covers it.

To get to Freak Fest you have to find a little dirt road just past the river and take it down a ways, past the fork in the road and then finally, inevitably, you find yourself in a little clearing, one side is the river with big shady trees and the other is endless rows of corn. It's a little idylic place, and right there in middle of that little field is a state of the art rock & roll stage setup with a big generator and amps and lights and drum kits and everything a band needs to make some noise.

Did I mention the freaks? These are our people. It was not a big crowd, most assuredly less than 100 freaky souls all camped out in various tent configurations. Men, women, children dogs. You know how sometimes you don't feel like you belong anywhere? The Lovely Carla and I get this feeling all the time. Almost like we weren't made for this ole world. But as soon as we got out of the Mountaineer we were surrounded by cool and mellow and well, not so much freaky but just "lit up," people who seemed to have no other agenda except to play and listen to music, to enjoy good food, good booze, (maybe a little hooch too), to camp and frolic in the river and dry out in the shade, to dance under the moon, to watch a big old campfire blaze away into the blinking black night.

It was bloody beautiful. What a great place for our band to make it's debut. We kicked off the fest at 6:00 p.m. and played a fairly tight set of original music. It was a great success especially since the four of us had never played out in public together before! It was great to hear the full band with sara on bass and sanjay on drums, the lovley Carla singing her heart out and me whaling away on my guitar. It was very satisfying indeed!

Then we got to sit back and enjoy the music. It came out in all varieties. There were two other bands after us on Friday. Dan Whitaker and the Shinebenders closed the evening with two full sets of rollicking good country tunes. Those dudes are so tight! There's nothing like the sweet, twangy sound of a pedal steel guitar wafting through lines of corn!

Now the Lovely Carla and I didn't actually camp (we are such citified pussies!). We stayed at a hotel nearby, so we decamped after the Shinebenders. We slept in late, fortified ourselves with veggie burgers and coffee and came back for a full afternoon of music on Saturday. What a total gas! Dare I say it, I loved every band on the bill. From Grateful Dead covers to absolute chaotic noise and everything in between. These are the bands that we saw, each were great in their own freaky way: Birth Defectors, Daddy Burger Swag, Grun Tu Molani. It was hard leaving, but we needed to be home with our little birdies (they were stuck in their cage - which for us birds of a feather is a little tug of heartache) so we split about 8:00 p.m. Saturday night. Freak Fest was still going, what a cool event. The ride back was smooth, uneventful, I fortified myself with some rocket fuel coffee and cranked the cd player up loud!

I definitely want to make Freak Fest a new summer tradition...

There's something we are all looking for, some kind of realness, a beautiful authenticity. No bullshit. A positive vibe. Well I'm here to testify brothers and sisters THAT IS FREAK FEST!

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Future is Now

I just finished John Robb's book, "Brave New War." The subtitle is "The next stage of terrorism and the end of globalization." It doesn't really capture the total impact of the book. It's a great little read. And for me it was a real eye-opener to the world unfolding before our eyes right now. Robb really has a great critique of what's happening in Iraq, and as an ex-counter-terrorism planner and commander he's got the facts, and the ability to interpret them and he's unafraid to draw air-tight conclusions. For instance, our little adventure in Iraq is doomed, not because of politics, but because we are fighting an "open-source" enemy with a blunt instrument (the American Military) that is not built to fight that kind of war at all.

Suddenly so much of what's happening over there makes complete sense. And this "open source" approach is being adopted world wide. The tools that have allowed globalization to flourish are the same tools that are being used to stop it. The nation-state, is an old-world concept, a big, hulking beast that cannot effectively deal with the new world order. Laptops, cell phones, the internet really do turn our world up side down. Individuals suddenly do have amazing technology at their fingertips and small groups can create tremendous mischief, and wealth, and innovation, and well there's danger in that, and hope too.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book if you want to understand some of what seems like total madness in our day to day world. Robb also has a blog called Global Guerillas, where he documents this open source movement in other hot spots (they are increasing and learning from each other) around the world.

UPDATE: Almost forgot...our new little band, White Wolf & Sonic Princess and the Enthusiastikatz are heading up to Plateville, Wisconsin today to play at Freak Fest. It should be fun, as long as it's not too soggy. I'll be sharing the highlights in a day or so when we get back, I'll be off the internets for a day or so...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"We're Not Gangbangers."

I found myself in a part of Chicago (south & west) that I've never been before. Considering I was born and raised in and on the outskirts of the big city, I guess that's kind of unusual. There are parts of the city someone like me should not be. Any one who lives in a big city knows this fact. It's essential to survival. I mean, there are certain territories where I should not venture. And well, because I wasn't really thinking, (except about meeting up with our bass player - she was house-sitting, for a music session) I trekked to the "land I shouldn't go to" via a series of trains (purple, red, blue, pink).

I was fine on the train. I mean, it is a great leveller, anyone with $2.00 can get on, and well, there were people talking to nothing, and drug fiends and heavy duty guy was rapping about "bad weed," and well, it's all part of the city life. But once I was on the street, lugging my acoustic guitar, I was a target, a target with a big sign above me "this dude is fucking clueless!" I was no longer fine.

I got to an intersection and a big silver van pulls up, two latinos, (wife beater shirts, gold chains, tatoos, over-sized biceps) and they shout at me, "Hey you with the guitar...we want to talk to you." I kept moving, my heart kind of skipping a beat, and I realized I had stepped into a nice little hot zone. "No, I'm late for a jam." They kind of laughed at me, and they start backing up the van (it's a one way street) and they're now backing up the wrong way to kind of cut me off at the pass. I booked as fast as I could. I mean, maybe they wanted to talk to me about open tuning, and the figerstyle techniques I like to use, but for some reason I just didn't want to stick around to find out! I hear them yell as I retreat: "We're not GANGBANGERS!"

Then they floor the van and race around the block. I high-tail it, as fast as I can to the door of the house I'm going to. It's in a nice little neighborhood (okay it's broken down, but families are here), but obviously, this is someone's turf, and well, I'm not really from here, not welcome here, and shit, what the fuck was I thinking?!

Anyway, I got to the doorway, (saftey) before the van made the long circle around the block, and after I get inside, I kind of catch my breath, I swallow that raw fear that is shooting right through me, and well somehow, the bass player and I have a nice little session playing music, getting ready for our gig at Freak Fest. Later, summoning my courage (or wait, is it just stupidity?!), under the cover of darkness I make it back to the train without incident. An hour later, I arrived back home safe and sound....

There are some parts of town I should not go to...I get it...fuck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"To Sing, or to Dance..." A. Watts

Alan Watts is one of those seminal figures from the sixties. He was a shaman and a showman. I once saw a short film with him laughing the laugh of a wise and foolish Buddha. It was absolutely exhilarating.

This is brilliant. Alan Watts words and Parker and Stone's images. And yes, we were made to sing, dance and make music! All the rest of it is such a "dreadful hoax."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Hairy Truth

If we are going to actually have an election in 2008, I mean, assuming there isn't another terrorist attack, and/or we don't invade/attack another country (Iran!?), and the powers that be don't suspend the constitution for our protection, and declare martial law and send guns and tanks to subdue us, if we are actually allowed to sort of practice our little democratic experiment once more, (count the votes, all of them!), there are actually at least three candidates on the Democratic side that at least for the moment look better than contemptible...or no, I mean, they actually seem to be pretty good candidates (besides my favorite possibility - Al Gore) no particular order their names are: Obama, Clinton and Edwards.

Any one of them would be a breath of fresh air in the fetid swamp of Washington...

Unfortunately, we seem to have campaigns that resemble some kind of fucking student council election, or some wacky popularity contest based on hair, and teeth and face paint... anyway, I love this little video from the Edwards campaign on the subject of hair with some images that kind of highlight some of our more pressing there hope for this bloated, dying beast? What would the Cowsills say?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Our New Band Emerges from the Cocoon!

So last night, our new band, White Wolf/Sonic Princess and the Enthusiastikatz (less one, our bass player was out of town), premiered at the Red Line Tap, a nice comfy little bar on the northside, situated right next to the Heartland Cafe. We stopped in the Heartland first for a root beer and a photo booth session. You can see the three of us are lit up like christmas trees. We all just love to perform.

The first act was the Hairy Spaceman, and they were a really good little group, with a dreamy, outlaw sound, nice guitar work and a drummer with a strong, baritone, almost operatic voice. Then it was our turn. We have a full set of originals, (16 songs and counting), but we were kind of rushed setting up, and well the sound wasn't exactly to our liking. It's important for us to have vocals up front and personal, and I think my guitar was a little overwhelming. Plus for some reason I was so jazzed up, as soon as I got onstage the sweat started just pouring out of me (see Albert Brooks in "Broadcast News.") My fingers were a little slippery and some of my nice guitar changes kind of smeared off the stage.

Some of the set went fine, and a couple of times we fell off the cliff. Afterwards the Lovely Carla gave us a B minus, which coming from her ain't too shabby. We played to a very small crowd, dotted with some of our loyal friends, and we did get some nice applause and good compliments too. It was all a nice little experiment. It was good to get the first gig under our belts. Now it's onto Freak Fest on Friday. Should be interesting. Our bass player will be with us, and well, we'll see how it all shakes out in the cornfields of Wisconsin.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

With your mercury mouth in the missionary times, And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes, And your silver cross, and your voice like....

The Lovely Carla and I ventured out to see Mary Arrchie's lastest theatrical extravaganza last night. They're doing two short plays from Sam Shepard, "The Four H Club," and "Cowboy Mouth." Shepard and Mary Arrchie is certainly a match made in some distant heaven. Shepard's abstract poetry, his stream of consciousness brilliance, is brought down to the earth, and embodied by this grubby, energetic, troupe and well, it all really works so well. Shepard is such an inspiring writer, I mean, I know I would have never written a play, if I hadn't come across his work. Blame it on Sam!

"The Four H Club" was written in the sixties when Shepard was just starting out, and it's a hilarious, three stoogish, piece about man and nature. Eventhough, some might say the piece is an artifact from another time, for me, it resonates deeply today...nature can be cruel and violent, and all our "sophistication," and culture, is just a thin veneer...the MANDRILL is just outside the door and he is ready to devour us!

"Cowboy Mouth," is a phrase Patti Smith or Shepard picked up from Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands." One can't help seeing this play as an autobiographical snapshot of the time a very young Smith and Shepard lived together in some hovel in NY. The two of them originally performed the play in 1971. There are some great monologues, one long rant from the character based on Patti Smith about rock & roll and Jesus, and how Dylan and Jagger vied to be the saviour, but well they both fell short and the world was waiting to be "saved" by some super rock and roll shaman. Turns out later, Patti Smith herself put on a semblance of the guise, and shit, she's still conjuring that r&r voodoo magic today.

I love the play. The Lovely Carla used to do one of the other monologues as an audition piece. Anyway, I walked out of the theater filled with a mad, unbounded joy...and really, that's what art and theater and poetry and music is about. And rock and roll will save us...yes, I do believe so!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Shine a Light!

President Pissy Pants is going in for a colonoscopy this morning, and well, while he's under sedation, Darth Vader Cheney is in charge...I know there's a joke in there somewhere, but I just don't have enough energy this morning to summon one up.

Stage Directions: - sunnyjimmy pauses - takes another sip of mocha java - and then returns to the keyboard.

If I was going to make up a joke, I'd work in something about assholes and black holes and it probably wouldn't be all that funny anyway.

Stage Directions: - the coffee doesn't seem to be working, instead of a rush of adrenaline, sunnyjimmy seems pensive, distracted.

I annouce to the Lovely Carla that Bush is getting a colonoscopy, I tell her, "the doctors will be looking up his asshole to confirm that he is an asshole." The Lovely Carla doesn't laugh, instead she tells me. "You should get a colonoscopy too."

I refuse to take the bait. "I need a colonoscopy, like I need another hole in my head." The Lovely Carla: "You should have your prostate examined too."

What madness. I know we all harbor deep, dark secrets, but there are some places I refuse to venture...

"No, I don't think so..."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dopplegangers with Wings

The Lovely Carla and I live with two little cockatiels. They are two little souls that we've kind of bonded with over the years. They are strange little creatures, all feather and air. They're chirping like mad this morning. Something's in the air. Sometimes you just don't know why they're happy and content, and why they're not. I do know they like opera or jazz vs. rock and roll. They are not fans of The Who, or Rage Against the Machine. When I indulge, it's best if I put on headphones. We let them live most of the time "out of the cage," which is our favorite mode too. The fly, they walk around on the floor, they hide under the bed. They like to chew on stuff. We have a whole routine with them, in the morning they like to hang with lovely Carla in the sun room, look out the window, watch the dogs and people and birds flying in the blue sky. Later they like to be in the kicthen when we have lunch or dinner. They like to eat when we eat. It's like we're all part of the same flock. We clip their wings, but they're still good flyers...kind of like us too...the more I look at these two little birds, the more I see myself and the lovely Carla too...sometimes the boy (Boy - Boy) sits on the chair like a little man. Sometimes we find them on our bed. The boy sits on my pillow, the girl sits on the Lovely Carla''s kind of like they are our dopplegangers...dopplegangers with wings!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mum is the Word!

Some days it's just not necessary to say a thing. Does the world need one more word? One more cry? One more tear? One more rant? Usually, that kind of sentiment doesn't faze me in the least. I've always got something to say. But not today!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pussycat Politics!

It's clear that YouTube is having an impact on our politics too. Pop culture swallows everything! Maybe not so enlightening, but the production values are quite nice. And well, hell those women really have personality. A battle between the "front runners," - Obama Girls vs Guliani Girls!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rogue Nation

If this post from Whiskey Fire is to be believed, our Fearless Leader and his co-conspirator are now planning a war with Iran. I guess things have gone so well in Iraq, it's time to expand the positive vibe! What complete, fucking madness...! Hopefully this is just crazy, scare-mongering, which lately seems to be one of the favorite pastimes of our national discourse. I do think America has gone completely psycho. I mean the nation. Maybe it's our obsession with technology, and virtual reality, and all our toys, and living at the top of the pyramid, and well, maybe it's like being on a mountain and the air gets really thin up there and our collective conscisousness just starts going wacko, haywire, and we start seeing things, imagining things, and reality doesn't really fucking matter anymore. It seems clear that we are a "rogue nation," - a nation of fat, stupid, rogues! Welcome to the terrordome. Our leadership isn't fighting the terrorists, THEY ARE the terrorists!

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE! - - THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD! - "Look for me Ma, I'll be there!"

Monday, July 16, 2007

Freaky But True

A strong earthquake rocks Japan...just a reminder that everything...vibrates. It's funny, the universe is constantly reminding us that nothing is solid, (you can't even count on the ground you walk on!), everything is permeable, changeable. I guess it can be a little disconcerting. "Does that mean that every thing isn't going to be ok?" Well, yes, it will be ok in the universal sense. Since it's all just vibrating energy. Maybe that doesn't sound very reassuring? Oh, well...we live in a fluid, ever-changing universe. Freaky, but true.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Slim Taking the Last Ride - Til We Meet Again!

I do love YouTube.

I was clicking around the web this morning and I came across this video of Jimi Hendrix playing "Voodoo Chile" on TV in Stockholm, Sweden...unbelievable...amazing!

Then I revisited this one:

These guys are the real Spinal Tap, I mean there's something totally ridiculous about these guys, and at the same time, what great rock and roll theater! When the drums kick in, and Slash cranks it up, I don't know, I can't help it, this weird adrenaline rush comes over me (I wonder if, when finally, our civilization crashes and burns, and the aliens come down and find this clip, will they understand us?)!

GN&R are doing one of my all time favorite Dylan songs, "Knockin on Heaven's Door." A song featured in one of Sam Peckinpah's great, rambling, shambling movies, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," featuring Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, Bobby D. himself. I love that movie...and of course, don't forget Slim Pickens (he also took that last great ride in Dr. Strangelove!) ...he's the one sitting down by the pond with a bullet in his gut, taking his final gander at the sunset before he shakes off his mortal coil, while that Dylan song plays away and well, no doubt it'll bring a tear to the eye of even the hardest-hearted mofo!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Michael Moore: Both Barrels Blazing!

If I was in one of those presidential press conferences, (is it possible I could get credentialed as a writer of the dumps/sunny blog empire?), I'd stand up in the middle of all those high- priced jounalists and press honchos to ask (I'd have to talk really, really fast), president Pissy Pants this loaded question: "Mr. President, isn't it obvious that you have failed miserably in your efforts as a world leader, and as a president, to rally Americans, Iraqis and well, the rest of the known universe to your total, fucking debacle in Iraq? And isn't it time you "be a man," and admit your mistake for starting the war and your complete failure as a president, and well, as a human being, and shouldn't you get on your knees and beg forgiveness from the world for all the pain and suffering and horror you have needlessly inflicted upon all of us?"

Now, I wonder, after the security people swooped down upon me and carted me off to a secret prison for a little "enhanced interrogation," if any of those other beltway pussies, would stand up and ask a followup question?! I guess I wouldn't hold my anyway, if you have about 10 minutues you must absolutely watch this YouTube of Michael Moore on CNN.
It is great, essential theater. If I can't get credentialed for the next press conference, can we somehow get Michael in there? I'd pay big dollars to see that!

UPDATE: A great line from Andrew Sullivan (see blog link to the right) about Pissy Pants: "Look, Mr President, most Americans aren't as dim as you seem to be. Maybe it's time you realized that. He's just out of his depth, I'm afraid. And others are sinking - and dying - as a consequence."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The People Vs. Larry Flynt - A Woody's Finest Moment!

I suppose one way to assess a man or woman is to take a close look at their enemies. Larry Flynt is a dude who's made a fortune publishing pictures of naked women. Maybe not the most noble enterprise, but if you look around at the great American Hustle (okay, maybe that's a little too limiting, think Great Global Hustle) there seem to be even more nefarious and disreputable ways to make a living: Insurance, Financial Services, Politics, Oil, Pharmaceutecals, etc. At least Flynt sells an honest product. It doesn't pretend. There is no hypocrisy. When you plunk down your money for a copy of Hustler, you know what you're getting, and well you get it. What you do with it in the privacy of your own bathroom is well...I mean, whether those glossy pages later get stuck together or whatever, I mean, damn that's your problem!

On the other hand, I understand some people's concern that Flynt's enterprise may demean or degrade women who are being exploited for someone else's cheap thrill. I do think our society would benefit from more women executives, more women astronauts, more women scientists, more women everything. But, as Zero Mostel once said in a scene in the original "Producers," - "if you got it, flaunt it!" So, if you've got an "oompy chasis," and you can get paid showing it off, well, who am I to knock it?

Which leads me back to the subject of enemies. Flynt seems to relish bringing "holier than thou," hypocrites down a peg or two. I mean, I realize Flynt is looking for enemies, and well they are legion. Flynt's famous for his long-running feud with the now deceased Jerry Falwell, and it looks like he's gotten the phone records of the DC Madam and already a Louisiana Senator has found himself in some "hot water." Go get em Larry. Seems this Vitter dude also railed about "family values," and ranted against gay rights, and shit is anyone surprised this guy was a regular at a New Orleans whorehouse?

Maybe we need a guy like Larry Flynt? Maybe he's some kind of hero? Milos Forman kind of made that case a number of years ago. I loved the movie!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Real Smart Ass - If the Shoe Fits!

Lately I've spent some time on a new venture (to be revealed later)'s kind of a wild idea (it wasn't mine), and well aren't those the best kind? But it's all about deferred gratification - work now, get paid later, maybe like really, really much later. But it's a writing gig for a new venture that will be premiering soon. And it's cool, and it kind of grabbed me by the lapels. I've basically been writing stuff in my free time. And lately, well...eventhough I'm not free, all my time is free, baby! So, I realized I've sort of adopted a persona, and I'm writing from that perspective and well it fits me very nicely, and today the thought came to me: wouldn't it be great if I could make a living, or at least a semblence of a living, just doing exactly this? I mean, like get paid for just being a real smart ass!?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fear the Underdog!

Check out this video from Spoon. I don't really know much about the band, don't own any of their cds, but this cut and video is really good. Anything with a mariachi band can't be bad. I love this line: "you've got no fear of the underdog/that's why you will not survive." That really, really resonates, on many levels, doesn't it? Please fill in the blanks at your leisure...

Monday, July 09, 2007


There are handful of movies that I can watch over and over. I mean, they are like friends. I go back to them to get refreshed, recharged, re-inspired. I'm not saying these are the greatest movies ever made (although some of them might be in that category), but they are movies that are rewarding, they always make me feel good. Last night, I watched one of them again, it's called "Fearless Freaks." It's a documentary about the Flaming Lips (psychedelic freaks from Oklahoma!). There's something about their lead singer/songwriter Wayne Coyne. He's an optimistic, charismatic dude who isn't afraid to look life and death in the face. The scene where he mows his lawn in bright green rubber boots always brings a smile to my face. What a refreshing soul.

Anyway, here's a quick list of some of my favorite movie retreads, most of these are offbeat, quirky and have great soundtracks: Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, Dead Man, Easy Rider, Rushmore, Dig!, Boogie Nights, Mean Streets, We Jam Econo, Twenty Four Hour Party People, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Days of Heaven, the Passenger, Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now, Ed Wood, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, the Harder They Come, Taxi Driver.

Some of them are funny, some of them are sad, a few of them are sad and funny, which in my book (if I had one), is perfection!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Freak Fest

Yesterday was hot, not quite blazing hot, but hot. We found ourselves in a dark theater space rehearsing our songs with our new drummer and bass player. It was the four of us, playing music for hours on end. The sweat poured off all of us. The Lovely Carla and I now have a full-fledged band. We will be premiering the group at Freak Fest an outdoor festival to be held at the end of July up in Plateville, Wisconsin. After a couple of hours, we were all tired, sweaty, and one of the players said, "I love playing!" Now that was music to my ears. I'm confident we have the right group of musicians. It was great to hear a new, distinctive sound slowly emerging. It was a blast, and a beginning. By the time the fest rolls around I think we'll definitely be ready to "get our freak on!"

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Making Movies

Last night I caught a few songs from a TV concert by Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris. They were playing songs from this cd. Not exactly sure how they hooked up, but together they turn out to be a great musical duo. I haven't thought of Knopfler for awhile, but I was always a fan of his band Dire Straits. This classic album (one of the greats!), when it came out, (I owned the vinyl) really took hold of me. I remember one summer just playing it over and over.

Knopfler is a great guitarist and singer/songwriter. He's cool and subtle and has light, classy touch. I watched him last night play a variety of guitars (Les Paul, Strat, Tele) using his unique finger-style approach. It was superb, breathtaking in a perfectly understated way. Emmy Lou added some ethereal vocals. Nice stuff.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Crazy Ass Dreams

"Another fine mess you've gotten me into." Another one of those lines that one character never said to another...but it's what everyone thought Ollie was always saying to Stan in those old-time Laurel & Hardy movies. Those guys are "branded on my brain." If you haven't seen them, catch Penn & Teller some time and you'll get the act - the fat one, the skinny one, the one who talks, the one who doesn't...a perfect comedy duo.

Anyway, the Lovely Carla and I use the phrase frequently. When one or the other of us find ourselves in some adventure or escapade intstigated by the other. You know your relationship is working if you each indulge the other's crazy ass dreams. I mean this literally. One of us has a crazy ass dream and then since we are both believers in the "secret message," the prophetic insight, we go off and enact what was given to us in our slumbers.

So that meant that yesterday we were gathering dead trees and branches in a forest preserve (it's a bad sign when you need a preserve to actually find a forest). We were looking for "interesting" dead trees and branches. You know one, when you see one. We then bungy-corded a small dead forest to the roof of our rented car and drove across the cityscape at about 30 mph with our hazards blinking away like a speed freak.

We unloaded our little dead haul at our friend's studio, where we are slowly (but surely) building a movie set. It's all part of some grand plan which I haven't actually seen, or I mean, I've seen bits and pieces of it in my head and as related to me by my lovely co-collaborator, (some of our best stuff comes when our eyes are closed and we're barely conscious - go figure!), but really, I've just seen a few fractured pieces of the puzzle and not sure what it will all add up to.

So, yes, just as Macbeth discovered, sometimes the forest does move! I guess our motto would be "we follow our crazy ass dreams where they lead us!" Hopefully they don't lead us off a cliff...and if they do...well, who knows, maybe it will be a good ride!?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Well, You Can't be a Pimp and a Prostitute too." - J. White

When the bullshit index (see previous post) gets to a certain level, I mean, like up to your eyeballs or lower parts of your earlobes, it's time to get an infusion from the creative realm to kind of re-balance the internals and lower the bullshit quotient to a more manageable level - we cannot eliminate bullshit from our lives, in fact, it's actually good fertilizer for those of us who try to be creative - but it's critically important not to let the bullshit totally engulf us. I mean I do not go with the idea that I will eat a shit sandwich and say it tastes good too - even if that is a core tenet of the American Ethos. I realize that when I get overwhelmed by events in the world, I turn to art, movies, music, theater. There's something life-afirming about people working in a creative endevour. Lately, music has been a huge aspect of my life, and really it's been so since about the age of 11.

This morning I'm listening the Jack & Meg White's latest effort: "Icky Thump." I love, love, love it. It's bluesy, rocking, I hear some Led Zeppelin (both Page & Plant), early Faces (yes, that band with a young Rod Stewart), and some new and un-identifiable elements. Jack likes to work within a blues tradition as all great rock & roll does too. He is a true guitar genius, able to take cliched blues licks and make them new and powerful (that weird high-octave whammy pedal makes an other-worldly, unholy noise!). Plus the guy is just quirky cat who can work in bag-pipes and marimbas and other weird sounds and make it all fly. Meg is a strange and fabulous drummer who is also funky and quirky with her beats. I love when she sings too.

Plus, these two people know drama. There's a great dynamic, guitars and drums, there's space in the songs, and maybe there's joy and hope in the silence in-between the loud, raucous, joyous noise these two pump out. I came a little late to the White Stripes, but this latest effort and the one previous (Get Behind Me Satan), are just absolutely great discs. Turn up the stereo loud and let the music knock you for a loop!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th - State of the Nation - FUBAR!

I highly recommend Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko." It's another eye-opening documentary, in a long line of excellent work from Mr. Moore (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Farenheit 911 - plus don't forget his book, "Dude, Where's My County?"). If you want to know a little bit about the American Nightmare (It co-exists with the American Dream - it's just the mirror image), there's no better primer than Michael Moore's work.

I must say, I came out of the film, on fire, jumping out of my skin. I think it's the result, not only of a perfectly realized indictment of our present healthcare system (it is total lunacy!) but an accumulation of outrages that have been building up daily. How many outrages can dance on the head of a pin? Let's see if I can count the ways this old USA (I realize I am writing these words on July 4th!) is totally fucked up beyond all repair (FUBAR!).

Maybe I'll just make a list of things that obviously aren't working anymore: our economic system (unlimited growth in nature is called CANCER!), our political class (bribery is built into the system - we actually reward the corrupt!), healthcare (see the movie - we reward doctors not to treat people!), our Justice system (the Supreme Court is a fucking joke - see the Bush presidency, and the latest raft of decisions this term), Big Business (it's a pyramid club, a ponzi scheme, check out global warming, our poisoned food chain, the raping & plundering of natural resources beyond any rationality!), IRAQ (what the fuck can I say about that debacle? We were lied into a war! Cheney and Bush are our Milosevic, our Stalin, our very own, homegrown WAR CRIMINALS!), Katrina (poor people die, or are kicked to the gutter - the wealthy get some new prime development land - more strip malls coming soon!), etc.

I think the list could go on for a long time, but finally if you're outraged every day it starts to take a toll. It's not just an accumulation of events, it's what we value, how we live, it's systemic, this beast we have created is devouring us. How not to get totally demoralized?! Not exactly sure. Somehow voting my conscience just doesn't seem to be enough...

I do think this country is fucked up (it's the only word that encapsulates it!) beyond repair. We are so deluded, so self-satisfied, so dumb, we are swimming in our own excrement and we think it's great. I walked out of the movie last night thinking I must figure out how to get out. I'm "mad as hell and can't take it anymore." And well, if I stay, I'm just fucking endorsing it all, just giving it all a pass...that's not a tenable strategy anymore. I'm gonna google Montreal this morning...there must be a more rational way to live...?!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mayan Apocalyspe Now - "Will they say he was a wise man?"

There was a story in the NYTimes Sunday Magazine about the end times. It's a popular subject. Seems the Mayans, who may have been descendants of extra-terrestrials, were very astronomically engaged and they figured out some grand galaxian equinox which will occur around 2012. Not exactly sure what happens then. One guy talked about silver ships coming down and taking folks away, leaving the more spiritually enhanced (that's you brothers and sisters!) to live a simpler, cleaner more enlightened existence. Some folks talked the old apocalyptic schtick, you know fire and ice and cataclysm. Sounds like it might be a wild ride.

One thing that really resonated with me was the idea that politics, religion and economics as they are now manifested in our daily lives are completely failing us. These pillars of civilization are disconnected, out of whack and basically corrupt and useless. So we have global warming and peak oil, and war and crazy ass leaders out of touch with nature and basic human decency. And when it comes down to it, our grand Western experiment is doomed! (The Lovely Carla finds this kind of unsettling, I'm more in the Alfred E. Newman camp - "What? Me Worry?"). I mean, I guess if we're all somehow fucked, I figure I'll make it through somehow, someway. I'm not a worrier. Although, when the heavy shit comes down maybe I'll wish I did a little more planning! Amen brother!

Many years ago, the Lovely Carla and I actually visited one of the ancient Mayan sites - Chichen Itza. It was a powerful, mind-blowing trip. I remember sitting at the top of a pyramid staring into the heavens, wondering where all those Mayans went. I also remembering thinking I'd never make it down that pyramid in one piece.

So, well, 2012 isn't that far off, and change is good, right? I'm taking one day at time...I'll be happy if I can make it to lunch. Hey, now that's a goal!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Beyond Kyoto!

Al Gore, the Man Who Would Be President, yesterday had an op-ed in the NYT. He asks if it's possible to make a decision, to take action as a SPECIES! I suppose he is asking a lot, but he makes the case that our future on this little blue planet depends upon it. I've heard a few times that it is Barak Obama who is the right man for the times. I think it's actually Al Gore. I do think it's a tragedy - "any event with a sad and unfortunate outcome" that the Smiling Chimp has been navigating the ship of state for the last 7 or so years, instead of Big Al - I mean, shit, what a fucking debacle for the country, the world! So anyway, not sure what's in store for Al, or for us...but read the article. I mean, do it now, for the species...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Blog Roll

I finally did some overdue maintenance on the my site today. I updated my links section with a bunch of sites that I regulary visit. There's some culture stuff represented by David Byrne, James Wolcott and Mary Arrchie Theater, plus there's James Howard Kunstler - Mr. Long Emergency, and then a number of political sites including: Hullabaloo, Eschaton, Talking Points Memo, Andrew Sullivan, Juan Cole, Kevin Drum, and Daily Kos. All of these sites are worth visiting. In fact everything on the blogroll is worth visiting. I do so almost daily...

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