Election 2020

Election 2020
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Land of the Shopper, Home of the Corporate Shill

Yesterday the NY Times had a nice little article about Adbusters and the old Estonian Dude, Kalle Lasn, who coined the "meme" OCCUPY WALL STREET and helped brand a movement.

Adbusters has been on an anti-consumerist/anti-corporate movement for quite awhile and maybe, finally, that movement has seeped into the national consciousness.

You realize that America is on the road to becoming, as John Robb calls it, a HOLLOW STATE, where "Corruption and violence are its only traits."  Think of a massive military with lots people-killing capability, no holds barred rules, combined with a class of CRONY CAPITALISTS who have looted the Treasury and used the money to gamble and live high on the hog.  Welcome to America Dudes and Dudettes!

That leaves the rest of us poor schmucks in the wilderness.  Left to our own devices.  Of course, we are all encouraged to shop and kind of forget about it all.  But the meme is out there and folks are waking up.  I suppose it could all get ugly, but there are also glimmers of hope. I throw my lot in with the glimmers!

And even if the heavy hand of the law clears out all those parks, the movement is alive in the heads of lots and lots of people.

And yes, take a close look at Old Glory:  Land of the Shopper, home of the Corporate Shill!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sonic Monster of Beauty!

This is my third post about Moby.  That's the trifecta!  And a sign of my obsession.  But you know,  I actually have read "Moby Dick" twice, (really, I'm not kidding, it is my favorite novel of all time, and certainly the best novel centered on "whaling" and yes, I truly do love the chapter on the "color" white! And yes, I truly, really did finish the novel twice!) and Moby is a great, great grandson of Herman Melville, so maybe there's some kind of circularity of obsessional logic in there somewhere.

So I bought "Play" at my local used CD store.  $1.99!  That's the lay of the land of music these days.  A record that sells over 10 million copies world-wide will finally make it (11 years later) to the used CD bin at a bargain-basement price!

And this late adopter finally caught up to the zeitgeist well after it's passing into the fog of time.

And well, I guess it's not an earth-shaking assessment from me, at least 10 million other people know it already - a great disc!  I love how Moby uses blues and gospel in a techno/electronic/dance setting.  And some of the tunes are so atmospheric and "spiritual."  I did think of that other bald-headed genius, Brian Eno, and I was also reminded of U2's "Achtung, Baby" and "Zooropa."

So yeah, it's a keeper for sure.  Sometimes you land the little fish, and it turns out the fish is a monster.  "Play" is a sonic monster of beauty!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bathrobes and Web Cams

We're playing a bunch of cover songs for a show this coming weekend.  It's been kind of a weird exercise.  I invited some guest vocalists to front our band with their preferred songs.  So we are doing some songs that we'd probably never think of doing on our own.

And the actual process of figuring out someone else's songs is kind of nerdy and not that full-filling.  Go to You Tube and you'll find lots of folks in their bathrobes playing their guitars in front of web cams.  It's a great way to learn a song or riff, but I find it kind like working a crossword puzzle.  Kind of takes the inspiration out of the equation.

Usually when you learn a song it's because you really, really want to play and sing it.  In this case, it's sort of like a homework assignment.

We rehearsed yesterday with the full band, and our band was fabulous, but it was kind of like letting friends get behind the steering wheel of your shiny new car.  

What the hell was I thinking?  But hell, it's all for the show!  Rock and roll!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

More Moby

I finished the Moby book (see previous post).  I'm definitely on the Moby bandwagon.  I realize I'm pretty late to the party.  His monster album "Play" was a 1999 release, and I guess it took the world by storm in 2000.  So yeah, 11 years late.

But isn't that the story of pop culture?  People create works of the moment and then the moment passes and then well, sometimes stuff lasts or comes back or disappears.  And really you are free to dip into work from any time and era.  

And you connect with it when you can, or you don't.  And in the world of pop culture what's good or bad is really up to you.  I mean there's the critics and the press, and they can sort of put the microscope on certain performers, but there is this vast pool of work that you can discover for yourself.

And some stuff is really so connected to a time and place, and it doesn't transcend that time and place, or some stuff is of a time and place, and transcends that time and place too.  

And you can choose to like stuff because everyone else likes it, or you can choose to like stuff because no one else likes it, or you can choose stuff to like just because.  Or then again, maybe what you like sort of chooses you?

So I come to Moby through a book, which is weird, usually you come to the music through your ears.  But everything in the book (a slight read), just hit me in the right spot.  I love Moby's sense of play, his sampling of pop culture from all eras, his melding of electronic music and dance music, and the blues, and punk too.

Seems Moby has drawn lots of love and lots of hate too.  Funny that the Little Idiot (a nickname Moby decided to embrace) became such a polarizing figure.  Every track from "Play" was licensed by either the movies, commercials, TV spots.  This is either really creepy or really cool or really irrelevant.  But obviously it helped Moby become stealthily ubiquitous and to kind of insidiously slip into our pop consciousness.

"I'm not a very good star.  I'm little.  And I'm bald." - Moby

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Moby - Bald Zen Dance Dude

For some strange, unexplained, and frankly unexplainable reason, I'm reading a book about MOBY.  Never really listened to his music, never really thought about him as a person or an artist.

 I was in a used bookstore and on impulse bought the book for $6 bucks.

And I'm finding the book quite entertaining.  Loads of information about songs and discs that I've never heard, and not really compelled to listen to.  Much of the book just kind of floats across my eyeballs, floats into my brain, and then sort of dissolves.

It's kind of a refreshing brain-rinse after reading the pretty heavy, and kind of depressing, biography of Ian Curtis.  Moby is funny and seems to enjoy life.  His monster album was called "Play," and that kind of describes his vibe.  A little bald dude, a playful gnome, making interesting electronic dance music.

MOBY comes across as a pretty intelligent and like-able guy.  A vegetarian, a "christian" a progressive thinker.  And really he doesn't take himself so seriously.  It's kind a bald Zen thing.

And dare I say there are some laughs and tidbits of wisdom in the book?  Yes, indeed.  Moby is emerging as quite the cool artist. Really.  And it looks like I have lots of catching up to do.  I surfed around You Tube and came across lots and lots of beautiful MOBY music.

"I can't get upset over other people's failings"- MOBY

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mad Over Depressed Any Day!

I suppose given the choice, and well, isn't everything just a freaking choice around here, that I'd choose getting mad over getting depressed.

Getting mad is sort of outer-directed, and even if there isn't a clear target, it's good to kind of expel those darker feelings, as opposed to being depressed which is sort of inner-directed, and kind of just chews you up.

And just why do I choose to be mad?!  Well look around at the world, you Toad!

So yeah, put on some over-charged rock and roll and start shadow boxing in the kitchen.  A good release of energy.  And as long as I'm fighting shadows, no one gets hurt, including me.  

Best to just jump around for a awhile, maybe mop the floor too, might as well clean up while I'm hopping mad and well, turn all that negative energy into a positive force.

The Flaming Lips and Rage Against the Machine provide a great soundtrack to clean up time!

Now that's using your energy in a constructive way!  Oh yeah, and Piss Off!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holy Days

Holidays!  Yeah, like Holy Days!  These kinds of days mark time.  I remember days like this from long past.  Not often I like to look back.  

I try my best to live in the moment.  I hate nostalgia.  But these kinds of days are so charged with pictures and memories, and there's just the ritualistic aspect to the whole thing that kind of swamps you.

And there's time.  Can't cheat time.  At least not in the long run.  Einstein proved that time is malleable, and it's all relative, and our experience sometimes validates that insight.  Time really can stand still, or bend backwards, or speed up.

But then again, there are the undeniable signs of a live lived in time.  There's the table with your family members, but then there's the empty chairs too.  There's the ones who didn't make it to the table this time and haven't for many, many years.

So you sit down in the present, but the past looms over you like an enormous shadow.  And then you start thinking or remembering that the past is getting longer than the future that lies before you.  

And there are no guarantees.  There's now, and the past (if you remember it) for sure.  What happens next is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All That Matters

Some times you feel that "oneness" that the holy ones talk about... you find that place where mind and body, or spirit and body are one.  There's no divide, no separation, there's a completeness that is not bounded by thought.  It doesn't happen often, but it does happen, so you know that it can happen.

And you think maybe this is what "heaven" is, or eternity, or life after death, or whatever.  Maybe it's just a feeling.  And the feeling is all.

And then some times you feel like an alien, a rogue presence inside a foreign machine.  Yes, it's an organic, flesh and blood, machine, but it works like a machine, and it's part of what you think of as "you" or "I" but it's not the only thing.  This is when the mind/spirit feels disconnected from the body.  Sometimes this happens when the body decides it has it's own agenda, and that agenda diverges from your thoughts and wishes and plans for the future.

And you think maybe this is what "hell" is, a yawning gap, the place where you are disconnected, and unbound, and spirit and body are a house divided.

So you experience the finiteness of your being through your body, and you experience the infiniteness through your spirit, with an assist from your body.  You embody both things, often simultaneously.

And when you die, you change into something else.  And we don't know what that is until we experience it for ourselves.

So you have the experience, the knowledge that you are more than your body, but this knowledge doesn't necessarily free you. You can't experience spirit without the body.  And experience and feeling is all that matters.  So you are caught in that dilemma, that's what we call life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Collaborators

You don't know until you do it. 

You quickly find out who is a good collaborator and who isn't.  I don't think there's a rule book.  Some people just have the skills, and some don't.  Maybe it's something you can learn, but I think the only way you learn is by doing it, and if you are really unsuited to collaboration it becomes pretty clear, pretty fast.  And then your opportunities to collaborate dwindle.  So you don't get the experience, and don't learn how to do it, because you piss people off.

Maybe it's fundamentally a "personality" thing.

I recently came across a real lousy collaborator.  A talented person, great voice, funny, enthusiastic.  I reached out to them, brought them into our circle.  Very quickly found out that this person really was only concerned with themselves and with their performance.  This person kind of quietly ran rough-shod over the other players, and in small ways made the other singers and players uncomfortable.

Instead of creating great group cohesion, suddenly people were feeling insecure and inadequate.  This person was kind of the ultimate "anti-collaborator."  I could see things starting to fall apart.  I sort of stepped in and tried to lay down some markers and boundaries to keep it all moving forward.

There's a delicate balance between shooting for some kind of "perfection" and working with the tools and the people at hand.  I think there's an "art" in working with limits. If you work the group energy wisely you can bring out the best in everyone; accentuate their strengths, and play down the weaknesses.  And sometimes you can even make a weakness a strength.

That's not to say the you have to be a good collaborator to do good work.  There are lots of examples of people who are relentless perfectionists who are really difficult to work with and who have done amazingly good work.  

Collaboration is it's own unique thing.  And my goal usually is to get the best from everyone without steam-rolling them.  I like to get a group of performers together and to create a sense of play.  And see where it takes us.

When you find someone who just doesn't get it, well, you just don't invite them back into the circle.  Or you blow the circle up and try again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hall of Mirrors of Sound

We are still working in studio on our latest recording, the first we've ever done in a professional studio.  We are in the middle of "mastering" 11 tracks.  It has gone well, but there have been surprises.  Basically when you "master" a track, you increase the overall volume of everything.  The highs are higher, the lows are lower, the mids are more mid!

Sounds simple, and if you have a good mix, everything kind of falls into place.  Then again, little things have huge effects, so suddenly a bass guitar can become big and boomy, or cymbals can become high and tinny.  One element can become sort of "unruly," and suddenly swamp everything else.

The other interesting twist: how do you listen to the results?  There are lots and lots of options, and each has their unique quirks and brings out different elements of a tune.  

Do you listen in the studio on $3,000 speakers?  Do you listen on a cheap kitchen stereo system? Do you listen on the great home stereo in the living-room?  Do you listen on an  old Walkman with good headphones?  Do you listen on the shiny new iPod with those really crappy ear-buds, or those pretty crappy headphones, or with those really nice headphones?

Plus there's the car stereo with the big bottom end.  How does it all sound when you crank it?

The goal is to kind of have a set of tunes that can live in each of those environments without sacrificing dynamics and volume.  This is tricky, and "infinitely subjective."  So we are still in the hall of mirrors, slogging through the process.  We have made great progress, getting close, but not there yet.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Believe in the Treasure

There are great mysteries at the center of our existence, at the core of our beings.  It's hard to talk about these mysteries, there really isn't a language that can translate them for us.  And the language we do use is very shallow, sometimes misleading, or totally bland.

The best language turns out to be simple zen koan-type lines, or poetic riddles.  And usually this type of language doesn't really explain mystery, but instead, usually deepens it.

All of our transcendent experiences are unexplainable.  Even to ourselves.  And the deep wells of sadness, or madness, or deep overwhelming clarity, are vast pools that can't be wrapped up or bounded by thought or action.

When we "forage" looking for treasures we must believe that the treasure really exists in order to have a chance of finding the treasure...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Unrealized Potential

I just finished reading Torn Apart.  I am sort of fascinated by Ian Curtis and his band Joy Division.  I've seen movies, read books, listened to their music, watched the videos.

I have always seen Curtis and the band as sort of weird, spiky, icy, a little "doomy."  But good.  Very unique.  And quite influential on a whole bunch of other bands.

And I do think there was a huge cloud of mystique that bloomed up as a result of Curtis' suicide at 23.   Curtis was a self-described "weak and emotive" sort.  Young, confused, and in pain.

Everything happened so fast to that young, intelligent and super-sensitive lad.  He was an epileptic, and his illness seemed to grow worse as Joy Division started their ascent as a band.  Plus, Curtis really was torn apart by love.  

On the one hand, I am totally repelled by the "cult of death," and I am amazed that the "will to live" which is so strong in us, can be extinguished by the will to die.  I am much more attracted and inspired by those who endure, those who survive, those who overcome the horrors of life and carry on.

And there are so many people who have suffered much worse than young Curtis ever did.  So there is the mystery of why someone would choose to step out.  But then again no one can measure the pain of illness, the overwhelming guilt, the deep consuming depression that seemingly ground him down.

I always look to art, to our creative pursuits as somehow transcendent.  I guess I am left with the mystery of why someone who could create such great, powerful work, couldn't find the way forward by riding that creative vibe.  You would think/hope that the work, the music, the lyrics, embodied and carried forth by that haunting baritone voice could bring some kind of peace, some kind of escape hatch for young Mr. Curtis.

It's sad that it wasn't enough to keep Curtis moving forward.  You are left with unrealized potential.  And a couple really good records.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Not A Show!

Since everything is like a TV show in America, the Occupy Wall Street protests seem like just another TV show, right?  Another show being broadcast every day.  And you can surf past, or choose another channel, or hit the mute button, and just watch all the pretty pictures.

Still, the reality of it all slowly starts to seep into your consciousness.  There are people in the streets all across America.  There is social unrest.  It is here. In the streets.  And for every person marching or occupying, there are many more who are standing on the sidelines who sympathize with the cause.  

It's on the lips of everyone you know.  Now that may be a small circle of people, but it cuts across a pretty interesting cross-section of the population.  People aware, awake, and they are all pretty convinced that things are fucked up beyond repair.

Lots of people.  Across the nation.  Unhappy with the status quo.  This is a story.  A major story of our times.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Heroes, No Saints

My deep-seated, anti-authoritarian streak is rewarded over and over by events of the world.  It's not necessarily a good thing.  There's lots of pain and tragedy associated with the subject.  And I don't find much pleasure in being proven "right."

Let's just say that I'm not surprised that Priests, Popes, Coaches, Bosses, Boy Scout Troop Leaders, Bankers, Politicians, basically anyone invested with in-ordinate trust and authority, invariably abuses that trust and authority.

Seems it's all part of our complicated human nature.  There are no Saints amongst the herd.  I mean you may be perceived as a "saint" or "hero" in one realm, and be a deeply twisted and flawed creature in another realm.  Same person, different realm.

To be "human" means we are capable of the best and the worst.  For some reason this is deeply ingrained in me.  Maybe it comes from an awareness of my own complicated and flawed nature - is it a carryover from my Catholic upbringing?  I have never bowed down to authority, have always been baffled by those that do. I ended up rejecting the whole religious hierarchy, just saw it as a big, hollow game of fear and guilt.

Still maybe that fear and guilt was useful and instructive.  On the other hand, always reacting against authority has sometimes gotten me into trouble.  Sometimes you must learn to bend, not break, because given the chance, those in authority will try to break you if they can.  

So yes, in my world, no heroes, no saints, no one worth putting up on a pedestal, just human beings.   Humans can surprise with their kindness, their "genius," their beauty, and their grace, but they bring along the whole package.  And sometimes there are little nasty surprises too.  Trust no one, not even yourself.   Over-throw the bosses, even the boss of yourself.   Be vigilant, be disciplined, be humble, and watch your back little Grasshopper!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Elaborate Lie!

I'm reading a biography on Joy Division's Ian Curtis, (more on the book in a future post), and I realize that in the last few years I have been totally obsessed with reading biographies.  Much earlier, in my formative years, it was fiction I was mad about.

I think it kind of goes with that idea that "truth" is stranger than fiction.  Or that the "works of imagination" and "real-world" events are both fabulous and confounding.  And really a biography is an act of imagination too, with some markers along the way.

A life has a trajectory bounded by "born" here, "died" there, but then how the middle space is filled seems infinitely malleable.  And the other appealing thing about a "well-written" biography is there is a coherence, there is some through-line forged from the accumulation of seemingly random events.

Maybe this is reassuring in some way, that the raging flow of experiences that wash over us, can be sifted down and the nuggets of meaning can be extracted to add up to some coherent story.  We do this all the time, try to make stories of our own lives.

It's sometimes hard to do on the fly.  What is significant, and what is just noise?  Does everything count?  Is there an invisible hand?  Are we really conscious of all that we do?  How did I get here?  What the hell is going on?!

So the biographer distills it down and hammers it all into paragraphs and chapters.  In a way a biography really is a fiction, just like any other act of imagination.  And really you are guided by the unseen hand of the writer.

And then there is a weird pleasure associated with knowing something about the subject before you even crack the book.  Suddenly seeming random events, chance meetings, odd coincidences, background noise of a life all accumulate into some kind of narrative and grand tale of "destiny."  There is a satisfaction knowing what we know, and finding out what we didn't and thinking that somehow we understand something about life and how it is lived.

It's all really an elaborate lie.  But an enjoyable lie.  It usually doesn't end well.  But then you put the book down and move on to another.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Swimming in the Stupid

You tend to want to just totally ignore rank stupidity.  Why bother with the profoundly stupid?  But then, of course, that attitude can come back and bite you in the ass.  Just because an idea, or a person wielding that idea is obviously stupid, doesn't mean that it/they won't be taken seriously.

Yes, I am thinking about our current political debate and the brain-dead folks running for President in the Republican primary, although, really, this extends to all walks of life in our current cultural milieu.  Lately it seems stupidity has been elevated to a high-art.

And fairly intelligent folks seem to go out of their way to show that they too can do "stupid" unashamedly and with gusto.  I guess stupid is attractive because it just seems more "fun," and it's less lonely too! 

The crowd is a superb intellectual and spiritual leveler. 

"Come on in, the water's warm!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Video Guy is an Amazing Artist!

There's a guy I know who works at the local video store.  We seem to be a the same wavelength on certain pop cultural fronts.  We both love Iggy Pop, we are both fans of "Dead Man," we both love Neil Young's soundtrack to that film, we both think Iggy in a granny outfit, making beans and talking about "philistines" around the campfire is funny and sublime.

Turns out we also have a shared admiration for Edgar Allen Poe and the Surrealists too.  And it turns out my video guy is also an amazing visual artist, who is creating his own stunningly beautiful and strange world of impossibilities. Who knew? 

My video guy is a neighbor in my blog world too. 

You can check out his wondrous, amazing, totally confounding visual world fully exposed on his blog site: "Beyond the Limits of Reason."  You must give it a look. The more you look, the more you see, and hell yes, the world is more beautiful and complex and strange and beyond any little box of reason you want to put it in.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Lonely Place

And then by a series of coincidences and circumstances you find yourself in the midst of a little, tight-knit community and you realize, it's just another club in which you really don't belong.  And maybe at another time that would have been distressing; when you were younger you may have tried to pretend to fit in, but now you know that's just a fool's game and it's not a game you want to play.

So you are the painted bird once again.  A bird of a different feather.  A bird that stands out in the crowd. This can be a good thing, especially if you are a performer.  You stand over here, and all the others are over there.  But it is also a lonely place.  And you realize that it can be a dangerous place.  There really is nowhere to hide.  There is no denying your difference.

And folks in the club don't really like different, even if they act like they do.  They shake your hand and smile, but they can't help it, your difference is a breach in the fabric of their nicely maintained bubble.  You are an example of someone who doesn't fit in the club.  That's how you define a club, by identifying those who can't/won't make it inside.

And you don't want in.  Really, you don't. And that makes your very presence dangerous to them too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Big Man Derangement Syndrome

I "Googled" the phrase "Big Man Derangement Syndrome" and came up empty.  So I guess this is a phrase that I have "coined."

And just what is it?  

Did you ever see those Red-Assed Baboons at the zoo?  There's a hierarchy, the big baboon, the king of the kingdom, and then there's all those underlings who bow down to the Big Man.  

Well, since we are pretty much well-dressed, Red-Assed Baboons, we have that same thing going, in all walks of life. 

There's the Big Man, thinks he knows his shit, make lots of money, or has lots of status for doing one thing well, and wields lots of power and authority.  And this power and authority gets extended to all kinds of realms where really the Big Man doesn't know shit, and his status and power really goes to his freaking head, like he's something special.  And all those little red-assed, human baboons think he's special too, like he walks on water or something.

And men and women and little kids, and hell, even their pets all bow down to the power and the glory of the Big Man - Coach, President, Saint, Financial Adviser, Dictator, King, Pope, Cop, Boss, Mayor, God (of all stripes), whatever.  People actually want to bow down to the Big Man.  This would explain how people like Donald Trump or Newt Gingrich can actually get laid, and write books and be lauded for something or other.

This Big Man thing might actually be hard-wired into us. Comes from our baboon-ish nature.  And it's a tendency that must be acknowledged, and fought.  The Big Man is not really a big man at all.  Just a man (or woman) with all the flaws and foibles that come with the package.  And no one should be bowing down to anyone else for any freaking reason.  The bowing down is a mistake.

The bowing down can lead to all kinds of heinous things.  It seems the worst stuff rolls out when this figure of Authority begins to act like he is above the world of the common schlubs.  Usually the worst crimes occur when the authority is abused, and the little red-assed baboons just play along because, well the big man can't fuck up, can he?

You must fight that bowing down tendency.  You must acknowledge that you are your own authority.  And the first step to knowing that, is to accept that you are a human being, and you basically don't know shit!  

Be humble little Grasshopper!  And always, always question Authority!  There is no "big man" just lots of us little people, fuck-ups all!

Friday, November 11, 2011

"The Mafia has higher moral standards." B. Bissinger

Buzz Bissinger (great name!)  has a scathing rant on Joe Paterno and the Penn State scandal.  It's a must-read if you can take it.  It goes into details and the details are absolutely horrifying.  It's also a rant about the bogus world of big-time college sports.  Looks like another fine institution turning out to be a hollow shell of corruption.  I mean, I guess we knew it was a sham, but it turns out to be a hollower and corrupter sham than we thought.  Still, for sure we know it's all built on the lie of the "amateur, student athlete."  That is a big-time myth, and an avalanche of hypocrisies flow from that fundamental lie.

By the way, if they decide to make a movie about all of this, I suggest David Lynch.  It is all so "Blue Velvet," or "Twin Peaks"- like.  Sleepy University town.  Big Man on campus.  Cheerleaders, Football stars, trim green lawns, footballs flying around on a sunny fall afternoon.  And deep, dark, horrid secrets.  Dark doings in the showers.  

And silence.  The web of silence cuts across all levels of society.  No one wants to know, no one wants to look, no one wants to "rock the boat."  There's just too much money and football glory, and mythology of the "big man," and no one wants to see the darkness underneath the covers.  Classic American story...

Bissinger's close:  "And so, frankly, should major college football and basketball as it exists now, rotten beyond repair, as has been pointed out a thousand times. Totally disconnected from the academic experience, they are insulated kingdoms with their own rules and reigns of terror because of the money they make, trading in illegal recruiting and illegal gifts and illegal favors, and now, thanks to Penn State, alleged sexual abuse of children by a former coach who must have assumed he would always be protected. Just like a Mafia soldier. Except that the even the Mafia has higher moral standards."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hey Joe, You Failed the Freaking Test!

It kind of reminds me of that scene from that great, mystical, esoteric masterpiece pretending to be a "teen comedy," about a troubled youth: Donnie Darko.  Although in this case, the stakes are a little higher.

"Ling, Ling finds a wallet..."

So let's say you are an amazing football tactician.  You have a long and illustrious career, winning games, mentoring young men, earning lots of awards and major cash for your university.  You are a big man, lauded by people from all walks of life, a beloved figure.

You also harbor a secret.  One of your long-time aides is a "serial predator." You were alerted to this fact by an underling many years ago, and you mentioned it to someone else in the chain of command, and then kind of looked away.  You conveniently just let it go.  And this predator was free to do his thing over the years.

Maybe your loyalty to a friend, your loyalty to the school made you want to just forget about it.  Kind of a messy, ugly fact.  Maybe it would just disappear.  Plus maybe you think no sense rocking the boat, it's cushy as hell, you don't want to jeopardize your exalted position, and there's all that money and prestige to think about.

Maybe you didn't like what transpired, but you didn't do much to stop it.  Maybe you hoped it would just go away.  But unfortunately, it didn't, finally it all came to light.  Sure, you still know how to win football games, and there are lots of people who still love and revere you.  In fact they took to the streets to protest for you, hell, they even rioted to show how much they loved you.

But come on Joe, where were you on the "life-line" when it really, really, counted?! I mean, Dude, you failed the freaking test!  Badly!

** UPDATE:  I get a little touch of vertigo when I play the "morality game."  It is easy to play when you are at a distance.  Easy to see the "black and white" of a situation.  But of course, in the human realm there is a vast spectrum of gray.  And there are a million contingencies and explanations and divided loyalties.  I look at the Ten Commandments and think, "Well, I never killed anyone!"  But coveting a neighbor's wife might actually be justified in some cases, don't you think?!  So he who is without sin should cast the first stone.  Still there is some shit that you just know is bad, so bad, beyond the pale.  And sometimes you do have to drop a dime on a friend...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Electrified Monkey!

I've lately been totally enamored with Ryan Adams and his beautiful, melodic, "Ashes and Fire," so when the Lovely Carla brought home Tom Wait's "Bad As Me," I just wasn''t "having it." It sounded a little too ragged and jagged to my ears. I just didn't think I was up for another dose of Wait's "electrified monkey schtick." 

That voice: Howling Wolf/Screaming Jay Hawkins/Louis Armstrong on steroids!

I mean, I am a Waits fan from way, way back, but on first listen, I wasn't moved by his latest effort. It kind of sat hard on my ears. But then I listened again, I listened to what Mr. Waits was actually saying, and then I saw this video. And then, well, it all came back in a flash.  I remembered that I love Wait's "electrified monkey schtick!" And of course, there's beauty in the tracks too, and melody and bold ideas.  And Keith Richards guests on guitar and backup vocals on some tracks.   Brilliant, essential, Waits!


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

American Song Book

I'm now working on an early December multi-band show featuring "American" r&r cover songs.  This is an interesting challenge: to find American songs that can resonate with an audience, songs fun and not too difficult to sing and play, and songs that have something to say, or are worth dragging out into the night.

Lots of songs tossed around by all the participants.  And once you eliminate the British Invasion from the scene, the possibilities, new vistas, open up.

There's the early stuff: Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis.  There's Johnny Cash.  Dylan - but we already had a show devoted to him.

Some of my favorites include: Warren Zevon, Tom Petty, Tommy James, IGGY POP, Springsteen!

And then there's the primal essentials:  The Ramones and Nirvana!  These two bands are hard to emulate. Simple, primal, brutal and hard to play.  So much energy and velocity to their music.  And then of course, Cobain - one of the great all-time r&r voices.

There's also The Grateful Dead, Smashing Pumpkins, Lady Gaga.  The great traditionalists:  ZZ Top, Muddy Waters, The Band!

Someone tossed in Grand Funk Railroad.  The road is endless.  Our American song book is large, a sprawling mess of music.  There are too many choices, genres, and no consensus on what's good.

There's Journey and Gnarls Barkley, and The Monkees, and... well, whatever, and everything to boot!

Should be an eye-opening night!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Managing Your Life!

Managing your life...   

Say "yes" often; you will open new doors, meet new people, have new adventures.

Learn to say "no" with conviction and finality.  This will close doors, keep you from meeting extraneous people, and save you from mis-adventures.

Dance often!

Remember, you do not have to dance to every tune.  Especially tunes you did not request!

Be kind, and sensitive, and empathetic to other people.

Be willing to disappoint others; be swift, cold, and sure.

Remember: you want everyone to be happy/you can't make everyone happy!  It's not your job!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Strange and Good

If you can find that "calm center" you also find that others are suddenly very attracted to you.  The more you "get your space," the more others want to crash it.  Yesterday we were able to find that calm center in the storm of our existence.  The best way to do it: meditate!

So we had one of those extraordinary meditation sessions.  Everything fell away and we found a deep well of calmness and "wholeness."  Can't really buy that feeling.  And it doesn't always come when called, but when you do find it, everything changes, everything is transformed.

And there are consequences everywhere you turn.  Suddenly we were in demand.  Everyone wanted to be around us, like moths to the flame.  It was almost funny how suddenly we were the celebrities of the neighborhood, people came out of the woodwork to demand our time, to bask in our glow.

And we kind of floated above everyone like a little butterfly of energy.  We could not be contained, or slowed down, or burdened with any demands or problems.  It was strange, and good.  

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Crazy, Up Close!

I had one of those Sunset Boulevard kind of experiences.  Visiting a person of interest.  It's weird when the mask comes off, and you realize that the person you are spending time with has a completely other side, a side that has never been revealed to you before.

This is in line with my whole theory of our human make-up - that we pretend to be rational creatures, we put on the mask of rationality, but it is a thin disguise, and there all these vast pools of irrationality just below the surface, waiting to emerge.

So I sat in kind of numb/dumb wonder, and watched the show.  It was funny, sad and horrifying at the same time.  And well, what could I do, except just kind of play along?  And I did, for about two hours.  Two of the longest hours I have experienced in a long time.

And "my friend" carried on in his mad way, not really noticing that I was doing my best to just "play along" like all was right in the world.  Finally got out of there, vowing never, ever, to get myself in that kind of position again.

I know the crazy is always right there, but to see the deep, dark, crazy up close, face to face, man, it's like being in an Ingmar Bergman movie!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Oh No! They Aren't Gonna Get To Vote, Are They?!

The Greek Bailout saga continues.  What's sort funny is to watch the markets and the politicians who work for them, go into a complete tizzy, when the Greek Prime Minister threatens hold a "referendum" on the latest bailout agreement.  Like that's the worst possible thing that could happen.

I guess the idea of the "common people" actually having a say in their future is just completely abhorrent to the market and all it's political toadies.  

Remember Greece was supposedly the cradle of "Democracy."  Now it seems democracy is tolerated in the abstract only!

Thursday, November 03, 2011


The radio is now beaming cryptic messages into my head.
For instance: "the uncertainty is getting more uncertain."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Life, not the Market!

Yeah well, "the markets" have been a big casino for a long time.  And now everyone seems a little frantic that the whole thing is teetering.

I say bring it down.  We will survive!  "People not profits!"  "Life, not the Market!"

I'm on the side of the people in the streets who have certainly been swindled by the "wise guys."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

What Good is A Rule?

There may be a plot, or maybe not.  Everything might be connected, or then again, maybe not.  Everything has meaning, or well, I mean, if you don't know the meaning, what does it all mean?

And you have been told over and over, "keep your eye on the ball."  But sometimes there is no ball.  Or if there is one, you just don't see it.  And then suddenly it comes at you from a completely unexpected direction, and you wonder if someone "has it in" for you.

And sometimes you think, this is just a grand game, but then it's not always a game you want to play, and it's not so grand, and the rules are not explained, and if a rule can be changed on a whim with no explanation, well then, what good is a rule?

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