Election 2020

Election 2020
Gaseous Little Baby Man Dirigible Implodes!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Shadowy Chimera

Yes, well, you can't buy "perfection" in a bottle.  You can't just order it up.  And frankly, it may not even exist.  It's just another one of those shadowy chimeras that haunt us when we do the work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spring-Time for Revolution!

Yes, so the funny thing is, that's how it always seems to work...

It was the actions of the King that led to the death of Kings.  Too much power and wealth concentrated in too few hands.  Finally the King falls, loses his head, or bites the bullet.

And it was the actions of the Communists that led to the death of the Communists.  Too much power and wealth concentrated in too few hands.  Finally the party collapses under the weight of it's own privileged hubris.

And it was the action of the Holy Roman Catholic Church that killed the Church.  Too much power and wealth concentrated in too few hands.  The Church rallies to protect a generation of priestly "child molesters."  The power of the Church is a snake coiled around it's own filthy throat.

And now well, it's clear that it is the actions of the Capitalists that leads to the death of capitalism.  Too much power and wealth concentrated in too few hands.  The crony capitalists scratch their own backs, while the country flails. The Capitalists have no one to blame except themselves with too much greed, too much pride, too much selfishness for their own good.

It is the spring-time of Revolution! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Very Cool Thing!

We logged some more serious studio time the last two weeks working on our recording project.  Our last session of "mixing" was revelatory.  We took a song that we were just not that happy with; thought it was on "death's door," seemed a little flat, lifeless, just didn't have any pizzazz, and then took it apart piece by piece.

The engineer stripped it down and rebuilt it from scratch.  I mean, all the elements were there: a strong vocal from our lead singer, a great soulful bass line, enthusiastic acoustic guitar from me, some virtuoso drumming, and powerful sax work throughout the piece.  But our mix just didn't pull it together.

It seemed just a little too static or staid, some element of excitement got lost in our initial mix.  This wasn't apparent at first, it dawned on us over time after some intense listening.  This track wasn't holding it's own on the "album."

So we rolled up our sleeves and "remade" it.  I do think "mixing" is a misnomer.  We came up with a new arrangement of the elements.  We "sculpted the sound," in a totally new way.  We stripped away some instrumentation in some sections, and brought up other elements.  We added a new dimension and dynamic to the whole song just by some subtle re-framing of things.

After we finished, the track had come alive.  Suddenly all the elements seemed to jell, our original live performance was now totally up front.  It all sounds edgier and livelier now. It now demands attention.

This was certainly the most instructive mixing session I have participated in.  It demonstrated that process is subtle, intuitive, creative and technical.  It is an art in the best sense of the word.  I'm not sure if it's under-appreciated or over-appreciated how important the Producer is to any musical project.  I mean it's probably not a mistake that certain names are associated with certain recordings:  George Martin, Jimmy Miller, Nigel Goodrich, Rick Rubin, Mark Ronson.  

What role they played on any recording is not something that can be easily explained.  Just like any good performance, there is an indefinable something they bring to the table.  When all the elements come together, there is an opportunity for magic to happen.  That is a very cool thing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Crazy and Crazy

Two assumptions that will work in your favor...

1.  "The World," - I'm talking about the collective consciousness of those billions of people walking around on the planet, the ones with the big heads, the ones with big dreams, the ones with all those fears and insecurities, the ones with those large brains filled with god knows what, are totally bat-shit crazy.  

They may talk a big game about logic, and rationality and level-headed-ness, but it's basically all a show.

2.  This goes for you too.  You are part of this crazy-ass club of crazies.  You may talk a big game, but basically you are putting on a show too.  Your irrationality underlies everything, every decision, every action.  

So crazy world, crazy you.  And just how do these two assumptions work in your favor?  Silly question!  I mean, crazy, man!  Make sense out of that, or not, and have a good life!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Moral and Patriotic!

George Lakoff, renowned linguist and the guru of "framing" writes a "memo" to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  It is essential reading.  Sort of outlines how the movement can broadly position itself smack dab in the political dialogue of the country.

Lakoff lays it out nicely.  He makes the case that the movement can be the right action @ the right time.  The 99% can be the essential voice to reclaim a more inclusive, more prosperous and more "moral" America.  The conversation has been hi-jacked by the conservative jackals of our culture and it is time to re-direct the conversation!  

There are lots of smart, creative and committed people in this country.  They are finally waking up.  No going back to sleep now!

"Occupy Wall Street is a moral and patriotic movement. It sees Democracy as flowing from citizens caring about one another as well as themselves, and acting with both personal and social responsibility. Democratic governance is about The Public, and the liberty that The Public provides for a thriving Private Sphere. From such a democracy flows fairness, which is incompatible with a hugely disproportionate distribution of wealth. And from the sense of care implicit in such a democracy flows a commitment to the preservation of nature." - G. Lakoff

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Choose Wisely Grasshopper!

To badly paraphrase Melville: "if you hang out with assholes you will begin to resemble an asshole too." 

Melville didn't say it exactly like that, but that's kind of the gist of what he wrote in a memoir about working on a Merchant ship.

So, yes, a little asshole goes a long way... choose wisely Grasshopper!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flesh and Blood Rules

Yes, I like the digital/virtual world.  There is an amazing wealth of entertainment and information at our fingertips today.  Still, I also still love some of the old stuff.  I still buy CDs, I still play vinyl, still like to use the old turntable.  

I love the "tangibility" of stuff.  

This tangible world is the world we truly live in, the virtual/digital world is a vast illusory realm that is very, very seductive and all-consuming.  And it is not the real world, it is a hyper-world, maybe it sometimes looks better, more alluring, and more exciting than the real thing, but it's not, it's a flashy trick!

It is a representation.  Not the real flesh and blood thing.  Which we do have to try to remember.  We are all so obsessed with our computer monitors, our TVs, our video screens, our smart-phones, all of our faux digital communities, it's easy to forget that the analog world of flesh and blood, of people and the dirty streets, of shit and blood, and all the stuff that you can touch, stuff that gets old, that gets dirty, that breaks and falls apart is our real, real world.

So yes, this old guitar, these old boots, this beat-up old coat, this weathered face, these creaky old bones, these old friends, all these flesh and blood folks we meet, or walk past everyday on the street; the places and things we can touch, the air we breathe, these are the things of our life, they make up the analog world that we truly live in.  Virtual/digital is nice.  But it's a dream-world full of promise and pretty lies too.

Funny, but sometimes you have to remind yourself that flesh and blood rules.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wilco's The Whole Love

Yesterday we had a rental car and we trekked out to the suburbs.  Besides counting all the closed stores and desolate abandoned strips malls on the way, we listened to another cool disc I recently purchased at my favorite record store.  Yes, I still buy CDs, (how old world) there is something about having something you can hold in your hand that appeals to me.  It's the appeal of tangibility!

The disc in question: Wilco's The Whole Love.  What to say?  It's superb.  A band at their peak for sure.  There is a quiet confidence to this band that just comes across in the tracks.  They have melded all their great players into a power-packed outfit.  Nels Cline does some amazing guitar work.  Love the bass playing, the keyboards and the noise and "sound effects" throughout the disc.

The songs are layered and complex, but there is an assurance and ease about it all.  I kept thinking "Beatlesy"  as in like the Beatles at their best.  Yeah, that's kind of a weird idea, Wilco as Beatlesesque, but I think it's true.  I kept hearing it from track to track.  Maybe it's something about how they are now a band in total control of their creative destiny.  They have their own recording studio - The Loft, they have their own label, and they just seem so comfortable and exploratory as a creative outfit.

They seem totally free to take the songs in any direction they desire.  Very much like the Beatles at their best.

This collection of songs really holds together well, lots of beauty and harmony and noise and surprising turns.  All of this comes organically.  This disc will bowl you over.  Jeff Tweedy's singing is great throughout - there is power and joy and touch of world-weariness  in his voice.  But it's all so r&r and exhilarating!  Most highly recommended!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicago Acoustic Underground

Yesterday our band Whitewolfsonicprincess recorded a podcast performance @ Chicago Acoustic Underground, hosted by Michael Teach.  Lead time on a podcast release is about 6 weeks, so it will be awhile before our episode is added to the site.  But it's definitely worth visiting the site.  All kinds of great shows to check out!

What a cool idea and experience.  Michael Teach is an amazing entrepreneur and musical obsessive.  He has so far recorded over 300 performers in his living room in a classic old building on Armitage in Chicago.  What a great place, a very comfy and welcoming room to make music.  There's a full drum kit, amps for guitars, a great collection of microphones and a full soundboard and computer system ready to capture lightening in a bottle.

And Michael is a wonderful host, kind, and attentive, with a wealth of experience working with musicians.  He's the kind of guy you want to know.  Someone who really listens.  Did he actually say our band reminded him of Procal Harum and The Band?!  Pretty cool!

We did a "stripped down" set of originals - bass, acoustic guitar, drums and vocals.  We were arrayed in a circle so we could all see each-other and totally connect.  It made for an amiable but intense session.  We were pretty pleased afterward.  Add podcast to our resume!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Two Marines!

The Lovely Carla tipped me to this little video clip of 2 Marines @ the Occupy Wall Street Protests. It is "ironic" that some are calling these protests and protesters "unpatriotic;" Americans raising their voices, standing together, peacefully. The hypocrisy of the "right" is just shameless. So glad people are standing up and speaking out!

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Old Bike

I bought a beat up old bicycle, a classic Western Flyer, for $25 bucks.  It's red and has silver fenders.  The gears don't work, it's stuck in one gear, but it isn't a bad gear to be in.  It's got those old style handlebars.  The brakes work fine.  And the tires are good, they still have some life in them.  One of the rims is a little bent,  and it sort of wobbles when I ride, but you know, that's ok, I sort of wobble when I ride too.  

There's something great about this old bike.  It isn't made out of super-cool, super-light alloys, it isn't high-tech or sleek.  It's a cheap-ass old bike.  It fits me like a glove.  It's out of time, and from another world.  And well, when I ride it, it's sort like "kid's play."  Even when I'm just trying to get from one place to another, there's an aspect of play when I get on the thing.  And there's an aspect of time-traveling, or just being out of time. And that's sort of how I feel about my life; it's kind of like time traveling and out of time and sort of like "kids play."

I have decided to consider this a good, and not a bad, thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Music!

I stopped in 2nd Hand Tunes yesterday afternoon and plunked down some cash for new music.  When I say "new music" I mean artists totally new to these ears.

I took the plunge on some singer/songwriters I've never listened to before, and I must say I absolutely love these two discs on first listen:

1. Vic Chestnutt - Ghetto Bells - What a surprise.  Chestnutt has a great voice, and he is a spikey, quirky lyricist.  This record is loose and assured.  The band is superb.  Bill Frissell adds some "expansive guitar," and Van Dyke Parks adds piano, organ and string arrangements.  The record is funny and sad and fiery too.  Chestnutt sings his heart out and he was a soulful, passionate energy!  This one was released in 2004.  Chestnutt is no longer with us, he committed suicide last year at the age of 45.  Chestnutt has a long discography.  I guess Michael Stipe of REM was an early advocate.  Not sure if this disc is representative of his other work.  But Ghetto Bells is just amazingly good.  Funky and cool.  Nicely recorded in Don Heffington's Backyard Guesthouse in Los Feliz!

2. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire - This is just gorgeous.  Beautifully and smartly recorded by the legendary Glyn Johns.  It's a hushed beauty of a record.  Norah Jones adds piano and vocals, and Benmont Tench adds some Hammond B3 Organ.  Ryan Adams* is a gifted singer and lyricist.  I just never listened to him before.  I know he has a long discography.  Don't know if this is characteristic of his other work, but this is stunningly good!

*Note:  I think I avoided Ryan Adams because I confused him with Bryan Adams!  This is not the same Adams at all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Picnic Approacheth!

Back to my latest musical obsession...

We have been mastering tracks in the studio.  This is a sort of mysterious process that increases the volume and density of the tracks as well as spiffing up the EQ and god knows what else.  It also supposedly decreases the dynamic range, which can be good or bad depending on how it's done.  But what's funny, to the ear, compressing the dynamic range sometimes actually seems to increase the dynamic range.

So it's a weird process, but you trust your ear to figure what's good and what's not.  We are working with a very experienced Engineer and he seems to be making excellent choices.  My partner in crime also has an amazingly sensitive ear, and she has made some great "catches" in the overall sound.

We had one long, bleary-eyed session where we did most of the mastering.  Then we put the results on a home stereo to see how it all held together.  This led to some notes and recommended tweaks.

One of the most interesting problems was a track that starts quiet, and then explodes in the middle, then goes quiet again.  What's funny, the quiet times were rich and full after mastering, but the loud explosive musical passage sounded thin and trebly.  Turns out since everything goes up in volume the cymbals sort of drowned out the lows and mids.  We went back and re-did the mix on that section.

Suddenly the drums emerged much fuller and dimensional, the bass came across fuller, warmer and more powerful.  Again, little incremental changes have major impacts on what we hear.  All of this is "infinitely subjective" and I guess that's kind of what it's all about.

More work to do, but we can see that the "picnic approacheth!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From Prosperity to Regression!

John Robb's post today is essential reading for anyone who wonders, "what (the fuck) happened?"  

As he frames it, America went from an open, dispersed system of prosperity where the wealth was shared by lots of folks, who then fully participated in decision-making process about how that wealth would be spent and saved, (these were the years of prosperity); to a closed system where the wealth gravitated to Wall Street and where decision-making was concentrated in many fewer hearts and heads.  The Wall Streeters then skimmed off the top and gambled away the cash!  These are the years of the great regression.

Here's the picture:

How do we fix it?  That's the million dollar question.  Robb thinks it's so broken, it can't be fixed, that we have to turn to resilient communities and start over.  It is a compelling vision!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pretty Good is Good

The quest for the perfect show (whether theater or music) is kind of like the quest for the Holy Grail, or the Fountain of Youth.  It's a never-ending quest.  And it's some kind of blind ambition, or life secret that compels one forward.

Perfection is really a utopia that has no real tangibility.  And all efforts towards that mythical shore are an approximation, a compromised jaunt, a voyage with no purchase.  Maybe the quest itself is flawed.  

Perfection is not of this world, everything is an approximation, or alternatively, as those New Agers like to say, the universe is perfect as it is, all we can do is accept it, and it is our picture of what perfection entails that needs adjustment.

Although by that logic, our conception of perfection, as flawed as it is, would be perfect too.  Hunh?!

Whatever.  I mean, so we played a show and it went well.  But it wasn't perfect, or perfectly satisfying.  But maybe that's OK.  Makes us want to do another one.  And maybe the next one will be perfect.  Or maybe it will be pretty good.

And maybe pretty good is good enough? Nah!  I want perfection!  Maybe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We Call Fate

Your body is your vehicle, and your friend.  But of course, it will betray you.  Or maybe the betrayal  is really a "payback" for past sins.  And even if you don't believe in sin, you will still pay the price.

You will also pay the price in cases of bad luck or ill circumstance.  So even if you didn't earn it, or "deserve" it, there will always be an accounting.  You are given these gifts, but you pay for them some time down the line.

There are times when "you" and "your body" diverge.  Those are times of trauma, or crisis.  You are left to pick up the pieces, lick your wounds and try to heal.  Healing is sort of like magic.  Let's say you have a damaged finger, blood, a deep cut.  Almost as soon as the bleeding subsides, the healing process is at work. 

So in that sense, you don't really "try to heal," you just heal.  You may bear the scar, you carry the experience, it becomes another episode in your personal drama, but you don't have to work at it.  Forces converge and you carry on.

Of course there are some wounds that cannot be healed.  Those are the "grave ones."  Some of those you don't come back from, they actually lead to the grave.  You try to avoid those kinds of wounds.  But there is no avoiding in this realm.

That's a strange circumstance we call "fate."  And you want to escape, but there is no escape.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finally Woke Up!

Some declare that the Occupy Wall Street protest is "Un-American."  A protest movement made up of Americans from all walks of life; gathered in a park, voicing their unhappiness with the status quo? 

Nothing more American than that, my friends!

Finally, as Krugman (again) points out, they are just a group of people who FINALLY WOKE UP!

Krugman in Prophet Mode:

"I have a vision – maybe just a hope—of a great revulsion: a moment when the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country. How and when this moment will come, I don’t know. But one thing is clear: it cannot happen unless we all make an effort to see and report the truth about what is happening." - P. Krugman

Friday, October 14, 2011

Authority Blinks!

Civil Disobedience is a powerful tool!  The Occupiers hold tight against Bloomberg and Bloomberg blinks!

This is inspiring!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why They Hate Hippies

The Occupy Wall Street movement has unleashed a backlash from the usual suspects.  If you are defined by your enemies, then we know for sure that the Occupiers are on the right track - right cause, right time, right now!

Still it all leads me to this question: Why do some folks Hate Hippies?!  I think it's because people hate a "know-it-all."  It's the same problem some people seem to have with Paul Krugman - HE SEEMS TO BE ALWAYS RIGHT!

Hippies were/are right about so much, I suppose it can be annoying...

They were right about love - make it.
They were right about war - don't make it.
They were right about yogurt - eat it.
They were right about the planet - save it.
They were right about organic food - it's healthier.
They were right about free love - practice safe sex!
They were right about rock & roll - it's exhilarating!
They were right about drugs - OK this one is a mixed bag, but the illegals are still probably the best ones.
They were right about patchouli - love that smell!
They were right about yoga - flexibility!
They were right about alternative medicine - first do no harm!
They were right about "back to nature" - it's where we came from and is our life-line!
They were right about lava lamps - cheap entertainment!

There's probably more to add, but that's a pretty good start!  Hippies!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A New Way of Listening

So yes, we are coming down the home stretch on our new record.  Not done yet, but getting there.  The mixing is done, and we are mastering tracks now.  11 new songs from Whitewolfsonicprincess recorded in a real deal Chicago recording studio.  We actually started this project last November.  So it's almost a year of work.

And that doesn't count the time to write and rehearse the songs with the band before we even set foot in the studio.  Why so long?  This has been a weird process, but one that has worked out really well.

We originally tracked 14 songs in one intense afternoon, and then tracked vocals, extra guitars, violin and sax in a handful of other sessions afterwards.  Then it was the long slog of mixing the songs.  We did that in weekly sessions, a couple hours here and there, week by week.  This allowed us to mix and then to live with the results, to listen to the mixes on different stereo systems - iPod, car stereo, home stereo, friend's home stereo and then make adjustments and tweaks as needed.

By the way, I now think of the mixing process as "sculpting the sound."  It is so much more than setting levels.  I guess it's similar to the editing process in film.  It is where what you hear (or see) is realized.  And everything counts. 

As they say, "the more you listen, the more you hear."  We really stuck to the task.  It tried our patience sometimes, but I think the results will be worth it.  Which means what?  The most fully realized creative project I have ever participated in.  We wanted to give these songs a chance.  We wanted to have a record of our superb band, and we lucked into working with a few outstanding guest musicians who added some remarkable performances.

Turns out some of the songs that we didn't think would make the final cut, actually turned out to be some of our favorites, and some that we were sure needed to be on the album, didn't actually make it.  Two songs that I that were "toss offs" turned out to be stunningly good; free and swinging.  Somehow our band just caught the vibe.

I had no idea the level of commitment all this would take.  Going in we had no clue how intense and all consuming the mixing process would be; the million little decisions that would turn out to be critical to what we ended up with.  We lucked out to be able to work with a Recording Engineer with over 40 years of experience tracking music. 

The Recording Engineer really served as another "Producer" on the project.  So there were three sets of ears making millions of little tiny decisions in the moment.  And all those little decisions added up to big things.  There is a science of sound, and we relied on the Engineer to understand the science, but then, how that knowledge is applied is certainly an "art." We never had any major disagreements.  We all learned to trust each other.  We all listened and heard different things.  We all made critical "catches" that certainly improved the final versions. 

This thing probably won't be released until 2012. Once we finish mastering, we need to work on the packaging.  Hope the Mayans were wrong about the end-times.  Hope people still buy and listen to music in 2012!

I have recently been reading books about recording sessions.  Two of my favorites are part of the 33 1/3 series: Exile on Main Street and Loveless.  These albums are legendary, and the stories of how they were recorded, and all that that entailed is extraordinary.  We haven't had the drama of trauma of those sessions, but we have paid our dues trying to create something beautiful, powerful and extraordinary.

Not sure if we got there, I'm certainly too close to it all.  But like I said, it is certainly the most fully realized project I've ever had the chance to work on.  It has been an amazing journey and I think it's it's made me a better musician and a better listener.  I don't hear music the same way.  My ear has been sensitized!  I hear more.  Music for me is more articulated, more detailed, more dynamic and alive.  

It's a new way of listening and hearing for me.  I like it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Purity of Creation

You learn that being in a band of musicians means you spend lots of time rehearsing in cramped quarters. This is where the work really happens.  The work of honing a sound.  You spend lots more time rehearsing than you ever do playing shows.  This is also where you bond and meld the various personalities and energies that make up a band.  

Our band starts with bare-bones "songs" which we then work through to find out what they will sound like, as everyone finds their way.  We are lucky to have an amazing bass player and drummer who are totally committed to our vision.  Everyone is fully in.  Not an easy thing to find.

Some of our rehearsals are the most intense creative sessions I've ever participated in.  Over time you begin to develop another language, another level of creative collaboration; it is wordless and ephemeral.  Not something you can explain or bottle.  And it either happens or it doesn't.  You know the band has "got it," when the energy level rises, and we are all just in the moment together, communicating in an almost "clairvoyant" way.

Yes, it is spooky and cool, and more than just playing music.

We had one of those remarkable kitchen sessions this weekend.  The bass player next to the stove, the drummer near the refrigerator, the vocalist next to the window, the guitar player in front of the dishwasher.  Our little kitchen reverberated as we cooked up a few exquisite moments of "controlled chaos."  We can go over the brink and then bring it all back, sometimes in the middle of a song. 

We've had some great shows, but our rehearsals stay with me longer.  It's work, and a challenge, and when we are locked in a tight little circle just playing for ourselves, discovering the possibilities in the songs, well, it's just this amazing purity of creation without any distractions.

Is it good?  Yes, it is. It is the thing.  The band.  Yes, it is.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Well-Heeled Oligarchy!

And just why are people out in the streets?  Why are people rallying to Occupy Wall Street?  This little graph might give you a hint...

And as Paul Krugman points out, America's Plutocrats, the well-heeled Oligarchy, really don't like it when the common folk point out the obvious!  Something is wrong.  And something needs to change!  Now!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Flaming Lips Songs of Prophecy and Doom!

I've been a fan of the Flaming Lips for awhile now.  I caught up with them a couple years after the release of The Soft Bulletin (which is a grand pop/rock/psychedelic/symphonic masterpiece), and own all their records since that one.

These guys are seriously twisted.  Wayne Coyne writes simple lyrics that are always asking the big questions.  I recently picked up the Lips last release "Embryonic."  It's a goofy, spiky porcupine of a record.

Lots of bleeps and blurbs of sound.  Sort of electronic and noisy.  It seems like a "concept" album, but not sure what the concept is supposed to be.

Still I love the band, and Steven Drozd is one of the great rock & roll drummers of all time.  And I think it's still the case that Steven plays just about all the instruments when the Lips record in the studio.

There's some nice melodies and the production of the record always surprises.  The Flaming Lips don't play by anyone else's rules.  Which for me adds to their "genius."

Then there's Wayne's voice, not the greatest voice in rock, but an effective and charismatic voice that somehow always connects.  He seems to have his finger on the pulse of some shiny beast and sings songs of prophecy and doom that somehow always make me smile!

See the leaves
they're dying again
see the moth
it's flying again
see the grass
it's dying again
see the sun
it's trying again...


People are evil, it's true
But on the other side
They can be gentle too
If they decide...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Crisis in the Church of Capitalism!

More on Occupy Wall Street from John Robb!  He is preaching the truth, Brother!  We are watching a crisis unfolding in the hearts and minds of the believers of the Church of Capitalism!  Finally some of us are waking up to realize that the system just doesn't work anymore! 

"This isn't merely a crisis of outcomes (economic depression, financial panic, etc.), it's a crisis of BELIEF.  While people generally believe in the idea of capitalism, a critical mass of people now think that the global capitalist system we currently have is so badly run, so corrupt, so terrible at delivering results that it needs either a) a complete overhaul or b) we need to build something new.   
In short, in its tiny way, this protest may be the start of a reformation of the church of capitalism." - J. Robb  

Friday, October 07, 2011

Right Protest Right Now!

I think this is right.  Maybe Krugman's Army is finally assembling! The Occupy Wall Street protest is the right protest at the right time.  Actually it's been a long time coming...

I created this little tableau in the window of our former performance space in 2010.  It was the year the Tea Party helped elect more conservative idiots...  the question then,  the question now...

"When will the Banksters (think Gangsters) and Wall Street Kleptocrats be held accountable for Crimes Against America?"

Yes, it was rhetorical then, and maybe it's rhetorical now...  but finally citizens are in the streets demanding economic justice!  About time!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Modeling the Sound

Whitewolfsonicprincess is still working on a new set of songs in the recording studio.  We finally finished mixing.  And we are on to "mastering."  This a weird process.  You put the tracks through compression, equalization and limiters.  It's all about bringing volume and density to the music without inhibiting the dynamic range.

Anyway, it's been eye and ear opening.  The engineer has all these tools available for the job, but finally it's all about aesthetics.  What sounds good to the ear?  There are a million little decisions made in the moment based on experience, intuition and "taste."

We brought some discs in to compare sound, to see if our tracks could hold up side by side with others we admire.  So far so good.  These are the "records" we brought in, and I realize they are some of my favorite discs over the last few years.  I have listened to these over and over.

Not saying this is what we sound like; different instrumentation, different vocalists, different types of songs, but there is something about the vibe or the feel or the ambience of these discs that that serve as a model for how we want the band and the songs to "sound." 

I'm kind of surprised by the discs I chose.  These are albums that have held up and inspired over many, many listens...

1. Cat Power's "The Greatest."
2. Lucinda William's "Essence."
3. Okervil River's "The Stage Names."

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Occupy Wall Street is An Open Source Protest!

I think John Robb nails it:  Occupy Wall Street is an Open Source Protest!   It is clear our "democracy" has been hi-jacked by the financial sector.  So yes, the protest is staged at the source of power.  And this power center is a cesspool of  corruption and is not accountable to the people.

And the protest itself is leaderless, and amorphous, and constantly evolving.  This is a source of strength, not weakness for the movement.  And just where is it moving?  Well, since it's "open source" my suggestion would be major re-distribution of wealth.

We need a thriving middle class!  We need to take care of the poor!

Maybe this is the beginning... of something... big...

And as I understand it, it was the "Culture-Jammers" @ Ad Busters who initially cooked this up!  Cool!  They are calling on the 99% of us who have been left behind by the "swimming- in - fithly - lucre" 1 % -ters! 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Cleverness Conundrum!

So yeah, the Clever Monkeys find there is a limit to their cleverness.  Or maybe their cleverness, which for a long time was an asset in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, can in the end turn out to be a liability that actually constrains life, liberty and happiness.

Let's call it The Cleverness Conundrum! Or as my own personal Obi Wan Kenobi used to tell me: "It's the Law of Diminishing Returns!"

And in the midst of the Great Diminishing, the people get freakier and freakier, and grumpier and crazier too.  And all kinds of weird things can be unleashed: meltdowns and world wars and lots of crazy ass shit.

Where's Freud when you need him?!  (Sometimes a Cigar is not a Cigar!) 

Welcome to the Post Bubble Times!

Monday, October 03, 2011

He was just a prophet that's all...

Faced with complex problems I think we all like to find simple solutions.  But some of these complex problems seem to actually require quite complex solutions.

So we are faced with complexity on both sides of the equation.  And our powers of cooperation are put to the test.  When we are in small, like-minded groups (for instance tribes), we are quite good at cooperating and working together.

When we are in big, sprawling groups, like nations, or multi-nations we are quite bad at cooperating and working together.

We see the result of this poor cooperation on all fronts.  In the past we relied on competition to sort it all out for us.  But with all this inter-connected complexity, competition can actually be our enemy.

The Free Market Religion, the guiding myth of America, is dislocated from any reality, and is actually part of the problem, not the solution.  

This dysfunctional late-stage capitalism (the snake eating it's own tail phase) that we are going through now, pretty much validates and vindicates Karl Marx's critiques of capital.  He truly was the prophet outside the temple of money-changers...

"All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned..." - K. Marx

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Economic Justice?

The American MSM was slow to pick up this story.  It's already been 14 or so days long.  Protests in New York: Occupy Wall Street!

Could Americans be emulating the pro-active Egyptians who brought a dictator down?  Who knows?!  These American  protests don't have one single-minded agenda, like bringing down a dictator.  We have a much more confounding problem.  A class of Banksters and Wall Street hustlers who have swindled America. 

And we have been such idiots, when it became clear that these guys robbed us, and crashed the financial system, we ended up bailing them out.  The politicians rallied to save the crony capitalists.  And now those same greedy schlubs want to go back to their thieving ways without any consequences.

Privatizing the profits, socializing the losses.  Something is wrong with this picture folks!

And the rest of the America crashes and burns.  Maybe this protest is an ember that can flame across the land; a true populist movement for economic justice... we shall see!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Trees Are Our Friends

I reside in a little hamlet that rides the shores of the Great Lake Michigan.  There are signs on the beach telling visitors that the lake is a "dangerous body of water."  This is true in many respects.  On a windy day, it can be a roiling beast of a body; there are undertows, and brutal waves that can knock you down and carry you away.

Also the lake is polluted with toxic shit.  For years companies have been dumping chemicals and waste into the water. Some of this dumping is done illegally, but also some of it is dumped with the blessing of the law.  Of course, Lake Michigan is also the main source of drinking water for the City of Chicago.  The stupidity and willful ignorance of human beings is often quite stunning.

The other main feature of our lovely little hamlet on the lake are the trees.  We are blessed with an amazing population of old growth trees.  I suppose if there weren't houses, and buildings and roads, most of this area would be forest land.  The remnants of the forest can be found dotted along every street.

And of course, these trees are our friends.   They and all the other forest lands out in the world are absorbing all that carbon dioxide human beings are spewing into the atmosphere.  Without them we are toast.  And of course, we are now toasting and destroying these forests.

When people lament the fate of polar bears, the penguins, and the other animals and plants that are being decimated by our destructive habits, I think it should be pointed out that all life is connected.  If species of plants and animals are dying off, it tells us that we too are in danger.  We are killing life and killing ourselves.

Like I said, the willful ignorance and blind stupidity of the human race is often stunning.  Sometimes we can be so clever and creative.  I wonder if we will wake up?  I wonder if we will wake up in time?  Once we kill off our friends, we will be toast too!

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