Election 2020

Election 2020
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A High All It's Own

Surprisingly, you find that you really can be "high on life." High on clarity, and sobriety. In fact it's probably the "best" high, although, the high includes the downs too. And for every peak, there is a valley, so you have to ride the ups and you have to ride the downs. And then, somehow, and not always, but sometimes, the ups and the downs, the experiencing of both, become part of the high.

You get high from the experience of experiencing everything. But the high doesn't last. Just like everything else doesn't last. But if the high is really working, your lows, your down-times, turn out to be just other aspects of the high.  It's kind of a trick. And maybe it's a ZEN, thing, or a weird framing thing, or maybe just an illusion, but it's an illusion that can come from, can be derived from, the sobriety, and from the clarity. And it can be a high all it's own.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wandering Star

I forgot how much I loved Portishead. They are a great band from Bristol, England. Here they are in 2009 doing "Wandering Star" live in a studio in France.

We are thinking of using this track in our upcoming theater piece... it's beautiful and haunting...

Monday, July 29, 2013

High School on Steroids

Yes, I've a gained a new scar or two. And I've had some kind of "breakthroughs" in my thinking, or feeling, or in the knowledge embedded in my being. Yes, knowledge. Sometimes you wonder if any of us learn anything. Our vast global networked, and social-media-saturated world sometimes seems so juvenile, almost like high school on steroids, with all of the snide competitiveness, the petty insults, the cheap shots, the struggle for popularity, the cliques, and spite, and stupidity, endemic to our species. That almost desperate desire to belong, to not have to stand alone.

It's hard, but you have to tune it all out. Often. I mean sometimes it's worth tuning in, just to see what kind of madness the humans are up to now, but you can easily be sucked into the stupid. It's not worth it, it's so freaking demeaning for all concerned.

The knowledge seems so simple, and maybe simple-minded, but that's part of what I've learned, yes, the cliches, the simple truths, they look simple and trite, but that does not erase their deep profound meaning.

So I mean it comes down to believing, in the work, in life, in a better day, the next project. And maybe not so much the believing, but yes, the believing, but the doing, the doing, despite everything. So there's the doing, and that doing is it, really, in a nutshell, and the world with be indifferent, or hostile, or there will be those who are jealous, or will who belittle you, but that's just the way people are, you have to take it in stride, you can't let it destroy you, you have to carry on, to do it, and really, really, really want to do it. And then do it. And really, fuck the rest. And you can say fuck it and still love too. Truth.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I love this photo. It's from our show last night at Jerry's (you can read more about the show here). Yes, the show was great, the food was amazing, the band has really benefited from playing lots of shows in a brief window of time. This is some of our gear. That is Rich's vintage Slingerland drum-kit, I just love the sound of that little kit, and that's my old, beat-up Hohner guitar. They don't make them anymore. And maybe it's a good thing, it's not the greatest guitar ever made, but it's like another arm, I've played it for a long, long time. The little white amp is mine too, a limited edition Palomino made in St. Louis. It's a powerful little tube amp!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Real Show

Theater. The process.  It's a strange thing. And a weird kick. At least that's my experience with the way we do things. I'm not sure how others do it. For us, it always starts out with an image, or a word on a page. The most slender of reeds. And then it goes from there. 

And even with a script there is so much, unsaid, un-worked out.  There is so much space to fill. And the process is a little scary.  Days and days of working lines, trying to get them into your body. And then you try to visualize, or actualize things on stage, in space.

The last few years our process is so loose, so unplanned. We set things up and let them kind of roll out. There are those moments of panic, moments when you catch yourself for a moment and think, "This can't work," "This won't work," "What were we thinking?"

But we've learned this always happens. Always. So the panic is not so consuming. You can stop mid-panic and say, "Oh yeah, now this is when we go into that panic mode."  We know it will pass, it's just a phase, and then you go on, you go through the wall, and break on through to a real show.

It happens. Will happen. We know.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Madness x 3 = Abbie 25

Yes, Mary Arrchie Theater's Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Fest will be celebrating it's 25th year in August.  It's always a blast of theatrical madness, 3 days of non-stop performances. This year the fest will be hosted at The Den, and there will be 3 stages. So the madness will be multiplied by a factor of 3... the mind reels.

Our theater group, Black Forest, has decided to do 2 shows this year. One musical with theatrical flourishes, and one theatrical with musical flourishes, but please do not accuse us of doing "musical theater."  Anyway, we are scrambling to get these shows ready - learning lines, working out the staging, and hoping we can pull it all together in the nick of time!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gunnelpumpers CD Release Show!

We went to Martyrs last night to see our friends the Gunnelpumpers. It was a CD release party for their new CD called Montana Fix. Martyrs is probably one of the finest, if not the finest music club in Chicago. The sound was just the best we've ever heard, and we've spent lots of time, in lots of clubs, the last few years.

So it was the best place you can imagine to hear the Gunnelpumpers. And they are amazing, inspiring, unique. Instrumental music: funky, cerebral, groovy, noisy, ethereal.  They are led by two Bass players. One of them also plays with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Last night there were six Gunnelpumpers, although, just about every time we've seen them their lineup is slightly different. Last Night it was  two basses, one drum-kit, one guitar, one various percussion, one tabla.  Throw in a digeradoo and you got it! 

These guys are seriously great musicians. And you can see they love to play together. And this band is primarily, and joyfully improvisational, although for this show they played tracks off the new CD. And the CD itself is a sonic beast.  Anyway, it was great show!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

See What They See

Yes, if you live in "opposition" to others, well, then you are defined by your opponents. You are defined by their world-view, even if you take the "opposite" view. This is not necessary. Sometimes you can just decide not play that game.

You can make your own rules, you can define your own world-view and you can envision your own solutions.  You really can make your world, your world. And you can step around your opponents. You don't have to see what they see, do what they do. You don't.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living By Your Own Code

I think you're probably born into it. You are born to a certain temperament,  and then, armed with that temperament, you go out into the world and search for a code to live by.

If you are of an independent frame of mind, you really don't want to adopt someone else's code. You like the search, (and it may be a "lifetime" search), you want to pick and choose, you want to add elements to your self-constructed code, you want to build your own code based on people you respect and admire.

But you want to make it all your own. You want to measure the world, and the things in it, with your own instruments. You don't want ride with the herd. You don't care what's popular, you don't care what everyone else is doing, you don't care what everyone else likes.

You want to discover your own value system. You want to assign your own values to what you think is important. You want to value, what you truly value, on what you think is truly valuable. And you are happy that you get decide. Everything. You are in charge. 

You don't care if the road is lonely, you don't care if no one sees what you see. You aren't really trying to bring others along with you. You take your own road. If you see fellow travelers on that road you are surprised, pleased, but those lonely stretches let you breathe, and think and you live for those lonely times too. It's in your code.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus!

Did you ever hear Jim White's "The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus?" It's an album that was released in 1997. It's the only record we own by Jim White. It's sort of a masterpiece, a loosely connected narrative collection of quirky songs.  One of our friends originally turned us onto this one. I just recently re-bought it.

It's inventive, dreamy, filled with lots of weird sounds, and quirky arrangements. It's shimmering, mysterious, funny, and just oh so superb.  You should seek it out. It's really, really good. We rented an auto yesterday for a long ride, and we popped in Jim White's CD and just sunk into the beauty and mystery of his creation. It made the ride very enjoyable. The best.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It Seemed Like Everything

This was cross-posted at whitewolfsonicprincess.com

We have a new band mascot: horse head by Carla Hayden, photo by Michael Doubava.  Seems appropriate. It feels like we are in a new phase of the band. Hard to pinpoint, but most likely it's just that we've played a number shows together in a short span of time, and to my ears, we sound better than ever. We have added new songs to our ever-evolving set of music and we have a finely-honed core of songs from 10+1 that have really emerged anew in our "stripped down" guitar, drums, bass and percussion line-up.

Last night at the Red Line Tap was just head-opening.  Carla and I sang with such confidence, and the sound onstage was tight, intimate and powerful. We opened with "Killing Place," and it really set the tone for an intense set. By the time we got to "Fallen" our band was a wild, barely-contained tornado of sound. Rich and Tim played as one wild-ass drums/bass r&r unit. It was totally exhilarating. Afterwards, my whole body was jangling with a fiery energy.

I think it was the best we've ever sounded live onstage. It's what we've often glimpsed in some of our rehearsals, this balance of discipline and wild abandon, all resting on a foundation of  fairly tightly constructed songs. It's hard to write about, hard to describe, and maybe it can't really be described at all. It was an "experience" and it seemed like everything.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Could Have Been Me...

Yes, empathy, (see previous post), can you really put yourself in someone else's shoes?  

And isn't it so refreshing, breath-taking and earth-shaking when someone stands up and actually verbalizes the truth?

Barack Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Questlove is Not a Scary Black Man!

Empathy - "the ability to share and understand the feelings of another." Not so easy.  You look around at the coming and goings, the doings, of your fellow human beings and you see lots of "lack of empathy."

And this leads to (as Bob Marley once said), "So much trouble in the world."

This essay by QuestLove in reaction to the Trayvon Martin verdict is quite the eye and head and heart opener. Questlove is a musician who seems to have it all. He plays in the Roots, Jimmy Fallon's house band, he's a DJ about town, definitely one of the coolest of the cool right now in the music world.

He also happens to be a 300 pound, 6 foot 2 black man, with a impressive afro.  And he details how his world is all about trying not to make other people "uncomfortable."  Seems many people don't see an accomplished musician, an amazing creative force when they see Questlove out and about in the world, but instead a "scary black man," a threatening presence.

A heart-breaking look inside an amazing human being, who is often judged only by how he looks.  Lack of empathy. It's a killer.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Channeling the Astronaut!

Sometimes things happen, and they make you wonder...

Does it ever happen to you? Lately, I've been learning lines for a show we are performing in August. It's a little script that I wrote a few years ago and had forgotten. My partner was searching through the archives and she found it. She printed it out, and we read it together, and decided to use it as the basis for one of the  shows we will be premiering.

This one is called "The Cheerleader and the Astronaut." I am learning the lines now. It's funny, I wrote it, but then put it aside, and never did anything with it, so now learning it, it seems like it's been conjured up by another author.

I'm "playing" the Astronaut, which is funny and ridiculous, but it's right up our theater alley. Anyway, I'm walking around the neighborhood, doing lines, learning lines, it's all about lines. And I walk over to a little park on the lakefront.  I'm channeling the Astronaut!

There is a bench under a willow tree, it's hot, so I decide to sit in the shade. I get to the bench, look down and see a book. I sit down, reach over and pick the book up.  The title is "The Astronaut's Wives Club." I page through it, pictures of Astronauts, and Astronauts wives and children.  I start reading the first chapter... Astronauts and their wives... really...

I don't know, sometimes things happen, and they make you wonder...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Different Kind of Truth!

Alchemy - turning base metals into gold. Yes, well, don't we do this all the time? Turn the shit, the detritus, the "failures" of our existence into the sublime?

We get to decide. We get to imagine, to create, and bend the things of the world to our own will. It's kind a rudimentary magical practice.

You might think it's bullshit, a lie of the mind, a trick on the brain, and well, maybe it is, but that's OK. This alchemical process is essential to a well-rounded, fully creative and positive life...

It's a different kind of truth...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm a Freaking Roman Candle!

I'm like a freaking Roman Candle, as in a firework exploding into sparks and colors. I just run hot. I'm full of hot air, hot thoughts, and I'm constantly stoking the fire with caffeine. I am a hot-head for sure.

So it's summer in Chicago, and the humidity is oppressive, and I'm out in the weather most of the day. So I'm basically in flames. Smoke comes out of my eyes. Sometimes I feel like I'm gonna spontaneously combust.

I try to cool down in cool rooms. I am on the hunt for cool zones. But hot. I am. I can live with it. Probably. Just need to keep it a "controlled burn."

Burn on!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fragile Nature of Existence!

The last few days, due to extended exposure to some excessive heat and humidity, I was feeling quite "fragile:"  as in easily broken or damaged. Sort of like I was made of fine glass or porcelain.

I walked around with a little bit lighter touch and a little less firmer grasp on the world. It's strange, once you get the inkling that you can easily be snatched away, well, you see evidence at every turn.

You start wondering if you can trust your body, will it betray or let you down? Yes, probably at some time. But it wasn't long ago when you felt invincible, indestructible. It wasn't long ago you lived a little more dangerously, taking risks, doing "crazy" or stupid things.

You actually occupied yourself with activities that could have easily gone seriously wrong. Some of it was just the "stupidity of youth." Or just the unconsciousness of one who is walking through life like a sleep-walker.

And then, well, a series of events sort of add up, and you one day awaken to the fact that your life is very tentative, your existence is marginal, your body is resilient to a point, but it's easy to push past that point.

You awaken to the fragile nature of your existence. And you realize it was always so. And once that realization takes hold, well, you can't ever really sweep that knowledge under the carpet and forget.

Even if you'd like to...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Often Sadly Unjust!

Yes, well, it turns out that our "Justice" system proves to us time and again that justice isn't really a solid, tangible thing. No it's fungible, partial, a chimera.  It's a nice "ideal" that we use to try to hold a society together, but it's a human thing, and it's unreliable, unpredictable, inequitable, and of course, very often, creepily, sadly, UNJUST!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Ever-Flowing, Ever-Renewing!

We are "perishable containers." Life is ever-flowing, ever-renewing, emerging in a universe of forms. Individuals are the containers of this life-force.  We wear out. We get leaky, we don't fill up quite like we used to. It's inevitable.

Life is not deterred. It is constantly finding new containers. We all spend lots of time self-replicating, or looking to self-replicate. And life is not choosy: a single-celled organism, an insect, a plant, a dog, a fish, a human being; to life it really is all the same.

So in that way, we really are connected to everything else. We share life. Maybe even the "inanimate" forms of the world are just life-forms working at different, slower tempos.

Instead of "God" think "Life," and maybe you are closer to the mark in discovering the secret code of the Universe...


Friday, July 12, 2013

Sand Castles in the Air

I can honestly say, there is no plan. There has never been a plan. It's all been sort of "improvisational," without prior preparation. Just living in the moment, acting and reacting to events.

That's been the approach, to the life, to the work. 

So when it comes to the work, whether it's theater, music, whatever, the basic modus operandi has been "do the work and see what happens." You do the best you can, you follow your creative impulses where they lead, and then, well, you hope other people notice.

You hope to be seen. That's pretty much it. Not really a plan. Just a mode of life. Sometimes it has panned out, sometimes not.

It's not exactly "empire-building," more like making sand castles in the air... not sure if it's smart, or productive, or just lame... not sure, the story is still being written.

And all I have is "the work," and the "doing of it..."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Heat of the Day...

She was wounded. I was wounded too. She had a band-aid. I did too. She was out in the heat. I was too. She was hot and sweaty and feeling light-headed. I was feeling these things too.  She seemed too delicate for this kind of day, just like I seemed too delicate too.

We used to spend lots of time together in a big old dark gallery together. We both seemed like fish out of water out on the boulevard. I was sitting in the shade, sipping a cold drink, trying to reconnect with all my faculties. She got off her bike and halted her journey to join me.

We sat together and talked about life, about depression, about the heat, about madness, about set theory and about wild goose chases.  We cooled off together. We smiled, hugged and parted.  Back into the heat of the day...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wonder Coexists with the Bland

Of course our world of wonder coexists, sits side by side, with the world of routine, the world of the mundane. We spend lots and lots of our time getting from one place to another. Putting one foot in front of another foot. Lots of time thinking about what we are gonna eat today. What are we gonna wear. Lots of time  is filled performing simple, mind-numbing tasks. There is the world of the bland, the boring. Standing in line. Waiting our turn. Most of our time is filled with these kinds of moments. And sometimes the mundane, the bland is overwhelming. You sometimes think that's all there is, the material, the physical, the grind of life. But the wonder and transcendence somehow, miraculously emerges from the grind of daily life.  And that's what is amazing, unexpected, extraordinary. And it turns out we really live for those moments. Something happens, and the routine, bland, mundane moment turns to gold. Strange, but true.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wonderful World of Wonder!

Do I use the word "transcendent" too often? Too lightly? I would say "no." And what is interesting, or surprising (at least to me) is that these transcendent, extraordinary moments that I refer to usually occur, or maybe always occur, within the context of some ordinary, mundane, or routine moment.

The transcendence just emerges, unbidden from "being in the moment," in "the flow," of some all-consuming activity, and this focus pulls one out of the usual human thing. I mean the feeling of transcendence is a human thing, but it feels like an extra-human thing that sort of descends and envelops someone.

This all sounds so trippy and ephemeral. Unreal. And these experiences can't really be verified or documented or measured. So yes one experiences these powerful, overwhelming events that emerge from simple, plain experience, and then they vanish, and one is left wondering if they really happened.

Welcome to our wonderful world of wonder!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Just Another Rehearsal

We capped off a couple days off with a band rehearsal yesterday.  It had been awhile since the "core band," (bass, drums, guitar and vocals) got together in a room.  It was intense and exhilarating.  I wonder sometimes if our best work is in rehearsal. Making music in a relaxed setting, a familiar room, with our own P.A. Making music for each other.

We were fresh and sharp at the same time. We went thru 18 songs, old ones, new ones, originals, a couple covers that we have really made "our own." We even had a few moments of "improvisation" that just seemed to take wing and soar...

It truly was like catching lightening in a bottle. One of those unexpected, totally extraordinary experiences. It's hard to talk or write about. It's something "you do," you can't really translate or explain the phenomena to yourself or someone else. It was just the four of us, creating this amazing sonic energy.

It was just another rehearsal. And then, well, it seemed totally intense and transcendent... and then we packed up and closed the door and went back to another world.  But for a couple hours it was really amazing, over-powering... 

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Can Drinking Tiger's Blood Get You In?!

Seems standards just aren't what they used to be.  Even when it comes to becoming a Saint in the Catholic Church.  Used to be you'd have to perform two miracles to qualify.  And usually it would be pretty major shit like turning water into wine, raising the dead, walking on water...

But the New Pope has decided that one of the Old Popes can get in the Saint Club with just one measly little "miracle" - did he really help end Communism as we know it? The guy in the white beannie? Really?

So yes, even Sainthood is now graded on a curve.  So I guess there's hope for the rest of us... I'm rooting for Charlie Sheen next!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Infinite Jest - A Life-Changing Experience!

It's funny. In my own work, whether it's writing a script or a song, I've been trying to say "more with less." Less words, less clutter.

But over the last 4 or 5 months I have been totally immersed in a gargantuan epic, a maximalist work that shows that sometimes more is more and more. 

Last night I finished reading David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest." Truly one of the greatest novels I've ever read. A work that I can say really did "change my life." Literally. I mean, I've had to show an amazing commitment to read it, to stick with it, it tested my patience, and endurance, and forced me to concentrate on one task for long stretches of time.

How counter to our Attention Deficit, everything in the moment now world? It changed what I think a novel is, and what a novel can be. There are "dead ends" and weird digressions and 388 endnotes. Plus nearly 1000 pages of text.  I read every page, every note, every word.

The narrative jumps around, the scenes come out of sequence and circle back. It's such a perfect picture of our world. It was written in 1996, but it seems so "of the moment."

It feels like a major accomplishment just to have finished the thing. It's a wonderful, confounding, beautiful, funny, mind-altering read. It's about addiction, pop culture, drugs, entertainment, sports, madness, and what it is to be a human being in the late 20th and early 21st century. It's all that and so much more.

It's a comedy, a tragedy. Etc. It's everything and more. I didn't want it to end. I fell in love with some of the characters. I fell in love with David Foster Wallace's mind, even though at the same time it was maddening and confounding too. It proves that the more you pay attention, the more you look, the deeper you focus, the more you see, the more you understand, the more you know and feel.

What a masterful writer. What a wonderful novel. Life-changing!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Catchy Slogan Inspired by Recent Events: "Don't Give The People What They Don't Want! Figure It Out From There!"

I'm pretty much with the people. I say give the people what they want. Still it can sometimes be confusing. Sometimes the people don't really know what they want, they just know what they don't want. So I guess it should be: "Don't give the people what they don't want! Figure it out from there!"

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Yes, Who Doesn't Want to Get Lucky?!

Disco ruled the charts in the late 70's. I was not in the disco camp.  I was in the Patti Smith Group, the Ramones, Televsion, The Stones, Bruce Springsteen... etc. camp.

So this "reemergence" of disco-like music should not be appealing to me. But you know, with time and distance, and a new twist, hell, I'm willing to give it a go.

Bands like Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem (they aren't called "disco but "electronic" or "alternative dance") have done some amazingly good work.  Whether you club or don't club, dance or don't dance, there is something kind of cool going on.

And "Get Lucky" from Daft Punk must be considered the song of the summer. But you must see the video to really get it. The amazing, super-cool Nile Rodgers guitarist and record producer extraordinaire (Madonna, Bowie, Chic) plays a custom see-through Strat, and his energy, his smile, his smooth, effortless technique, and those long dreads are just absolutely priceless.

Nile is playing with a band of French Robots with Pharrell Williams on vocals.  It's great. And who doesn't want to get lucky?!?

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

We are Vincible!

You wonder where the idea of human "invincibility" ever came from.  I mean, we are born as these helpless little infants, totally dependent on others for care and feeding. And then we live these lives of misadventure where death and defeat loom around every corner.

We are oh so vincible...

Maybe it's just a silly fantasy. A wish, a hope. But it does seem like we all go thru periods of our lives where we really think we  can't be destroyed.

Maybe chalk it up to a kind of willful stupidity. Or a flood of teenage hormones. Or useful forgetfulness. Maybe it's in our nature to forget how vulnerable we all are.  Otherwise we'd be cowering down in a basement somewhere hoping not to be noticed!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

No Comfort in that Quote

You take comfort in Nietzsche's famous quote - "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." And you remember that it's the quote that kicks off John Milius' movie version of "Conan the Barbarian."

But then, you remember that Nietzsche went mad, and that Conan is just a comic book character played on the silver screen by the ex-governor of California.

And you no longer take comfort...

Monday, July 01, 2013

Loved Much Ado!

We saw Joss Whedon's film version of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," yesterday. Surprisingly, to me, it's really, really great. Loved it. Could really track with it. The language flies. Beautiful black and white. Shot in 12 days. Amazing.  I fell into it completely. Loved that I didn't know any of the actors.  Perfect casting. Shimmering, dazzling. Yes, we liked it! Much Ado!

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