Vote Blue 2020

Vote Blue 2020

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Anonymous Citizens

I suppose what separates the Great Powers from the Not So Great Powers, is the capacity to inflict damage on the anonymous citizenry without any compunction. At one level, there are the Great and Mighty who breathe in the heady air of Empire, then there are the poor people who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So the Big Shots get to divide up the maps, draw up the treaties, pat themselves on the back at another well-run campaign. Then there are the little people, nameless, faceless, with bloodied heads, dead children, blasted homes. They are the innocent bystanders, the collateral damage. They are the poor, down-trodden refugees. And as Woody Allen once said if you are a refugee all you do all day, every day is FLEE!

It is a sad, disgusting story. It happens all the fucking time. Change the names of the countries, change the names of the territories, it's happened on every bleeding continent. It is the never-ending story.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yo La Tengo

I'm listening to Yo La Tengo this morning. One of the great bands from Hoboken, New Jersey. The core of the band is a husband/wife duo. He plays guitar and she plays drums. They channel early Velvet Underground and they certainly seem like cousins to Sonic Youth.

Still they have something unique, which they churn out with great regularity.

There is something to be said for longevity. Yo La Tengo is the kind of band, a kind of sound, that grows on you. Repeated listens. Beauty and dissonance. They have flown under the radar for a long time. And that's cool.

Here is a very funny video. Yo La Tengo goes to Rock School. They didn't learn much. I can't find any Hobbit references on the discs that I own...

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Healing Has Begun

I had a strange, healing dream a few days ago. It felt like all night I was channeling energy from different people. It was like I was running other people's energy through my body.

First a Kenyan runner, then a South Korean woman, a Serbian soccer player, a snooty New York socialite, a small Chinese farmer.

It was kind of disturbing, not the most restful sleep. It was like running an AC current through a DC cord, or maybe like playing a Guns N Roses song on a cello.

When I woke up I was in a pool of sweat, the pillow, the covers, were soaked. And it was like a fever had broken, I was alive, my hands and feet tingled. It was like my body was renewed.

I have been riding this newness for a few days. So strange.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

If you pay attention, you can't help seeing that over the last few thousand years buckets of blood and carnage can be traced back to organized religion. Who Got the Gravy? has a nice overview post on the subject which I guess got my wheels spinning.

Any time, any day you can see see the blood-letting in action.

I'm thinking we took a wrong turn when we turned away from the Sun. Oliver Morton recently reminded me how powerful is that big gold thing up in the sky. I think we should go back to basics.

I think the Pagans had it right. The Sun gives us life. All of us. We are equal under the Sun. It is warm, life-giving, non-judging. There is no dogma. No rule book. No do's and don'ts. There is no secret club. No hierarchy.

If we look up to and worship the sun it does not make us any better than the next guy. Or the next worm or monkey either. There's only one Sun. But really we don't have to thump each other over the head proving or disproving the point.

I'm putting my faith in the Sun God. I do believe it will rise today and tomorrow too. It's gonna shine down upon me whether I like it or not. Maybe it won't save my soul, but it will certainly tan my ass. The Sun's only agenda seems to be to support life. All life on the planet. Now that's a Deity I can get behind!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Dignity of a Man

Harold Pinter has died. He was a fabulously great writer. I remember when I first took up acting, doing a scene from the Caretaker. It totally fired up my imagination. I became a Pinter fanatic. I ended up buying the multi-volume collection of all his works.

No one quite wrote plays like Pinter. His plays, The Homecoming, The Caretaker, The Birthday Party are hilarious, mysterious, hard, brilliant. Very much like the man. When he won the Nobel Prize in 2005 he delivered a blistering speech about the Iraq debacle. Warmed my heart.

His work can't be reduced to politics, but I do share much of his supremely caustic view of the American Empire. We must always look in the mirror and try to discern the truth.

"When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimetre and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror - for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us. I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory. If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man." - Harold Pinter

Friday, December 26, 2008

It is an Energy Thing People!

Did you see the Oliver Morton penned Op-Ed in the Times a couple days ago?

I mean I guess we all knew this, but it is good to be reminded that SUNLIGHT powers all life...

"It is this sunlight, endlessly refreshed, that allows the grass to grow, the birds to sing — and you to live. The Sun’s energy flows through your breakfast cereal, your morning coffee, your veins and your mind. It animates you as it has animated almost all the Earth’s life for billions of years."

We are all connected. Every living thing. Don't forget it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two To Tango

The weather here forces one to stay indoors. I think it also validates the idea that there are bigger forces in the world working on our little hills of beans. Sometimes things are imposed upon us, and we must deal with them, whether we like it or not.

The world has some demands which we must meet. There are debts to pay. Agreements to keep. Still it's all just our choice. It takes two to tango.

But the world isn't always the greatest dance partner. Sometimes it steps on your toes, throws you to the floor, flips you in the air. The tune is called and the dance commences.

You have to keep your dancing shoes nearby. Keep on dancing. Indoors. Outdoors. Whatever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One Icicle

Yesterday it was so cold. Sub-zero, wind-chilling, face-freezing. Dangerous cold. I went out once. Snagged a newspaper (some habits die hard) and a hot chocolate.

First day of winter. It was a hibernation day. Slow movie. Zombie slow. Wake me in the Spring.

The news was crazy. Flying shoes. Crumbling pyramids. Rich people fleecing other rich people.

I was feeling a day-long groggy. Still recovering from my Spiritual Epiphany watching a James Brown cover band (see previous post) Saturday evening.

My party shoes have some serious miles on them. A little party goes a long way.

I seem to have arrived at a new place. A new face.

I imagine an icicle forming and then melting. Over and over.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Divine in the Funk

Could a simple but widely-awake Pilgrim get an ecstatic glimpse of the Divine in a short but intense set by a James Brown cover band?

Last night I believe I did.

I saw a Hispanic Punk channeling Mr. Brown in all his sweaty glory. I saw a rag-tag five-piece horn section pumping up the funk. I saw a charismatic group of needy souls get up and get down. I saw white girls finding bliss in the Funky Chicken.

The Divine was in the Funk.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dancing on Air

One man had a dream to build the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

One man had a dream to bring down the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

One man had a dream to string a wire from one tower to another and dance between the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Man on Wire is an extraordinary movie about an extraordinary dreamer who dreamed to dance in the air.

Amazing. Inspiring. Improbable. A dream.

The movie has a superb soundtrack. One of my favorite cuts is early Fleetwood Mac's Albatross. Beautiful. The band mimes for the cameras. Check out Peter Green fingering his famous Les Paul.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hocus Pocus Dominocus (the little dominoes fall!)

Last night we went to our favorite Psychic School and we learned that there's a lot of energy around Giving and Receiving. Who would of thunk it?

I realized I'm good at neither. Which does not bode well for my great spiritual quest.

"I am a rock, I am an island. And rock feels no pain. And an island never cries." - P. Simon

I am not a rock. I am not an island. And I do feel pain. And I do cry.

Anyway, just by exploring this highly-charged subject I kind of blew up all the silly pictures that I have carried around with me. I did not know.

It's kind of a mind-blower to discover something about yourself. I suppose there is much we all don't know we all don't know.

The snow and ice is falling on our heads this morning. And I am ready to receive it! And I'm ready to throw myself into the day. I am the gift that keeps on giving.

Our lives are gifts. They are ours to give as we choose. And as they say, in a weird-ass way, by giving we receive.

It's a strange calculus.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Criminal Enterprise Launched by Madmen

The re-writing of recent history is already going forward. We must not let it happen. Memory is our friend. We must strive to remember the good shit and the bad shit too. It's the only way we learn, as people and as a culture.

Bush and his enablers want us to believe Iraq was just a great little adventure to establish a shining new Democracy. And who could have predicted it would go bad, and really wasn't it all worth it any way?

Matt Yglesias calls us "An Empire of Sentimentality:

"The harsh reality is that this was not a noble undertaking done for good reasons. It was a criminal enterprise launched by madmen cheered on by a chorus of fools and cowards." - Matt Yglesias

Let us always remember...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Malady!

The Lovely Carla tells me that all the problems of the world can be traced back to one thing: BIG MAN MONKEY BUSINESS!

Post Script: I told the Lovely Carla that I'd be happy to be Little Monkey Man if that would help.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And that's OK!

Who to trust? The Priest, the President, the Banker? Sorry, no can do, and that's the Trifecta. It's over. The End of the World as we knew it.

Time for a new narrative.

Once upon a time...

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Semi-Permeable Membrane

How much of what we know comes through osmosis? How much can we absorb? Are our brains, our beings, just like a big resilient paper towel?

What can we learn from the amoeba? Why did I think of 7th Grade Science Lab this morning? Is the great Amoeba in the Sky sending me a message?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Iraqi Welcome Wagon

President George Bush made an unannounced visit to Iraq. I guess this means he was secretly flown into the Green Zone, a fortified city within a City, and kept under wraps so no one could get a could get a clean shot at him.

He is there to assess his handiwork.

I have a suggestion. When Mr. Bush's term is finally over, how about if he and Laura move to Iraq? He's expended so much time and energy there. He staked his Presidency on the place. Wouldn't it be a great gesture for him to move into the great new Democracy he established in the Middle East?

And I don't mean in some heavily fortified compound. How about a nice little bungalow in Fallujah? I'm sure the grateful citizens would be happy to roll out the Welcome Wagon for him.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dog Chronicles

I was walking Bear. Or is it, Bear was walking me?

Bear is a dog. Bear and I have a deep connection. Can't explain it. Bear doesn't think she's a dog. Doesn't like to be around other dogs. Doesn't act like other dogs.

Bear takes me places. Shows me secret paths. Likes to frolic on the beach. Likes to roll in the sand. Likes to let the wind blow through her hair.

Bear and I walk the wild places. The overgrown areas. The nooks and crannies. Near the rocks. Near the crashing waves.

We like to chase the waves. We like to chase the seagulls. We like to watch the light playing on the surface of the lake. We like the snow, the ice.

The whiteness, it makes us feel lighter.

Bear has a delicate animal grace. A delicate assurance.

I follow her. She cuts a deeply honest path.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Yesterday the Lovely Carla said to me: "You can't just plug in your iPod and hide from the world!"

I'm sorry, I beg to differ.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It is a time of failing. Bankers, Auto Execs, Politicians. Our Capitalist Utopia has turned out to be made of Plastic! We don't make anything anymore. Except Debt. Which is basically a number followed by another bunch of numbers on a computer somewhere out in the virtual world.

In the time of this Great Failing I think we are also witnessing the Great Unveiling. The liars and their lies are being exposed on a daily basis.

Pretty soon there really won't be any place to hide.

And then what are we left with? We're gonna have to figure out a better way to live on this planet with each other.

Or else we gonna hit that Wall of Suffering at full speed. Kind of like a bug hitting a windshield - 80 miles an hour - on the big highway.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For...

I've been on a U2 kick lately. I've always loved the band, hadn't really listened to them for awhile, and then kind of re-discovered them. Last night, I watched their concert movie Rattle and Hum from 1988. Hat Tip to Paula G.

It's a really well-made movie, shows the band in fine form. They have always been able to provide rousing arena rock shows without becoming totally cheesy.

Here's my favorite clip. Two Irish rockers come to Harlem. Music is some kind of communion...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


For awhile I thought it was just me. But I realize it's not just me. We are shrinking. All of us. Day by day. Getting smaller by degrees.

It's hard to see because it's happening to each and every one of us. So proportionally everything seems normal.

And maybe getting smaller is just part of the process. Finally we are so small we will just sort of disappear.

From a speck of dust to nothing.

It's weird. Really, really weird.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It Would Explain a Lot!

The Lovely Carla informed me yesterday that Jesus, (you know that guy in the Bible) was gay. She went to this tapestry show at the Art Institute and I guess there is lots of "foppishness" on display. I Googled it (Google is kind of like our modern Delphic Oracle don't you think?), this morning ("Was Jesus Gay?), and well, I guess I'd say the jury is still out.

But really, if we are talking about the same guy who turned water into wine and brought dead people back to life, I'm thinking it wouldn't be totally inconceivable to think that the guy was open to exploring the various forms of human sexuality.

Plus he shunned his family, moved to the City, hung out with a bunch of dudes. Didn't he love show tunes too? Who knows?

Like Solomon I think I'm willing to slice the baby in half on this one.

I'm going with: Jesus was definitely Bi!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rock and Roll Religion

We played a rock show last night at the Red Line Tap. It was a "Toys for Tots" Benefit. The Lovely Carla always reminds me it's about having the "right intention" and in this case, giving toys to needy kids is about as right as rain.

What a great event. One of our best crowds ever. They came out to see three bands: Muff Puppy, WWSP and the Telepaths. We ended up with a pile of toys (over fifty toys) and a rollicking bar full of festive people.

It was all so satisfying. I played in two of the three bands. Which for me is some kind of NIRVANA. I am lucky to be able to collaborate with some great people, number one the Lovely Carla of course, and then the hard core rockers of the T-paths.

The T-paths are so messy and fun.

I broke a string, almost blew out my amp. It was rock and roll perfection...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Recreational Drollery

Do I have a sharply-honed sense of humour or am I just displaying an unusual amount of "recreational drollery?"

Beats me.

I do think in order to survive this roller-coaster ride we call life, one must find ways to amuse oneself. Laughter is the best medicine for our terminal condition. Once it dawns on you that your time is limited on this ball of confusion, that you and everyone you know is going to die, you have to arm yourself with some kind of antidote.

Humour is probably the best we can come up with. Is life a tragedy or a comedy? Your choice probably helps decide whether you are an optimist or pessimist - or at least whether you primarily sport a smile or a grimace.

Of course, there is "gallows humour" a type of humour that "arises from stressful, traumatic or life-threatening situations."

But doesn't that just describe a typical day on the planet?

So a comedy is a light and humorous drama with a happy ending, whereas a tragedy is a drama in which the protagonist is overcome by some superior force or circumstance.

I suppose the trick is to somehow see the "overcoming" as freaking hilarious!

Friday, December 05, 2008

All About the Hair

We played a party last night. At Celebrity Salon. One of the coolest places devoted to all things hair. We played multiple sets, just about every song we know, plus a few we don't really know at all.

It was a well-paid gig. And a blast too. We got some great feedback from the crowd. One guy actually compared the Lovely Carla and I to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Something about the great chemistry we create onstage.

Not sure if we should take that as a compliment...or not...I mean, didn't they end up hating each other?

Certainly Stevie and Lindsey have better hair. And much bigger bank accounts! Chemistry? What chemistry?!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Adventures of Big Chief Jimmy Thunderpants

This is not a movie soon to be at your local cinema:

"The Adventures of Big Chief Jimmy Thunderpants" - The saga of a lowly guitar-tuner, a foundling, an orphan, living on the coast of Lake Michigan. Thunderpants makes his daily bread working in a guitar warehouse tuning cheap Chinese-made guitars. His days are filled with broken strings and fret buzzes.

By a series of odd occurances and strange coincidences Thunderpants is discovered to be the long-lost Chief of a mythical Native American Indian tribe. It is a rebel tribe that wants to bring the buffalo herds back to the cities of North America. Thunderpants is entranced by the Lovely Rebel Indian Princess "Two Deers Behind a Tree" who shows him the true meaning of Rebel Indian love and introduces him to the joys of living in a Teepee.

A wild joyride of a movie. Heartwarming and befuddling. Two thumbs up. Way, way up.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Reality Sandwich

I do think we've entered the "anything it takes to eat" phase of the economy. The Lovely Carla and I have been early adopters, we've both been free-lancers the the last couple years (sometimes more "free" than "lancing," although lately, more "lancing" than "free") and we've made cash playing music, walking dogs, and in the Lovely Carla's case painting portraits.

Which is okay. Actually more than okay. It's been kind of great. Some how we've been able to keep our own little bubble afloat. We've been lucky. Something always seems to turn up just when things start looking dire.

In order to stay sane, I've basically broken my reality up into little increments - make coffee, check e-mail, make phone calls, walk a dog, play guitar, read a book, run on the lakefront, eat beans, make more phone calls, check e-mail again, eat more beans, read another book, play guitar some more, work on my next play, read the newspaper, write my blog, etc.

I do keep up on the global scene. Most of the news on that front is pretty grim. I break the grimness into increments too. That way it's all more digestible. Somehow we just have to be able to digest the whole thing. Without letting it choke us. I do believe it's possible.

Reality is consumable one little bite at a time...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

National Wig and Bag

Every time I get stuck at the Howard El stop, waiting for a train, I look down from the platform and survey the street. It's one of those hard-luck avenues. You don't want to be down there by yourself on a cold December night. Unless of course you're looking for some cheap and illegal thrills.

Up on the platform, I always get a bird's eye view of the street. It's the best vantage point.

There is a store on the avenue called National Wig and Bag. I am fascinated by this store. I mean I have conjured up a product that is multi-purpose.

Wig and Bag

You know what I mean? One way it's a wig. And one way it's a bag. National Wig and Bag.

If you hold it upside down in your hand you can carry things in it. If you put it on your head it's a new look.

If the Lovely Carla is with me on the platform, I repeat the routine, as if for the first time, every time, like I never thought of it before. I have done this countless times. Whenever I'm stuck at Howard. Which is often. This is a great source of laughs. Always, every time. If not always for the Lovely Carla, at least for me.

One way it's a Wig! And. One way it's a Bag! It's National Wig and Bag!

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Time for Every Season

Snowflakes are falling. It always happens in these parts, this time of year. Sometimes I wonder why I live in a place where long cold winters are part of the drill. Days are short. Gray is the predominant color.

Born here is one reason, I guess. I've got some roots here. Not sure that really explains anything.

There are things I love about Chicago. It's a great theater town. And music town too. It's flat, in the middle of the country. And I guess there is something reassuring about going through the seasons.

Turn, turn, turn...

I usually do some of my best writing in the winter. A hot chocolate never tasted so good as when you come tramping in from a raging snow storm. There's actually almost a satisfaction that comes with over-coming the hostile elements.

I can be happy on a gray day. Now that's an accomplishment!

And then there's the lessons of nature. Everything will change. Maybe overnight. There's some kind of cycle. Death and renewal. There's possibility in that. And I guess that's good.

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