Vote Blue 2020

Vote Blue 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trent Reznor Goes for the Apple!

Trent Reznor knows music. And has been an innovator. I guess you can say he has been on the forward edge of music for many years. He has thrown in his lot with Apple Music, and the way he describes it does sound quite exciting. 

Hoping this opens a new era for music and musicians. Like I said, I still love the "old model" - buy a vinyl record, or CD, and band t-shirt, go to concerts, support a band. But the new paid streaming model where the global catalog of songs is available on your phone or computer makes a lot of sense too.

Free music just never made sense for the people who make the music. "Music is my entire life. It's the only thing I've been good at. I love it." - Trent Reznor

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grumblings from the Dead-Enders!

Reading highlights from Antonin Scalia's dissents on both the Obamacare case and Marriage Equality, was extremely entertaining. What a grumpy, sputtering old white guy! What's really funny, this guy is supposed to be some kind of conservative-thinking heavyweight. He pretty much leads the "Dead-Enders" on the Court - Scalia, Thomas, Alioto, with a strong assist from Roberts.

These guys definitely represent an old world sensibility. Gnashing their teeth, clinging to an old picture of America. A place where the Constitution isn't a living, breathing document, written by human beings, open to adapting to the real world, but instead some kind of sacred, illuminated document that should be read literally, word for word, damn the social, cultural changes that have washed over us over the last couple hundred years.

Except of course, when they are deciding a conservative cause, then, well, interpret away - remember, that is how Bush ended up winning against Gore, that is how they decided that Corporations are people too, and money in politics is "free speech."

It's funny and entertaining to read Scalia - "pure applesauce," "interpretive jiggery-pokery," "Ask a Hippie!" You couldn't imagine a better curmudgeon. Except, of course, it would not have been funny if the cases had gone the other way. And you realize that "Marriage Equality" was affirmed by just one vote.

I think we should give Scalia, and the rest of those unhappy old-timers lawn chairs and Pina Coladas. Let them rail at the kids on the lawn. They can keep their old black robes, but we need some new blood on that court!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Obama and the Emanuel African Methodist Flock will Deepen Your Heart!

Yesterday morning I watched Barack Obama's speech/eulogy at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in South Carolina. I can't imagine a more difficult speech to give; to look into the eyes of the victim's families, to stand up and deliver those words, to do it with such intelligence, love and grace. Extraordinary. Inspiring.

I recommend that you watch the complete speech. Take 37 mins out of your life. Don't just get a summary, don't watch sound-bites, don't experience this through a media filter, watch the whole thing from start to finish. It's more than worth it. Obama's words are beautiful and devastating, and inspiring. The man talks the talk, and walks the walk. Not only is he a great President, but he's a great human being.  And an exemplary man.

And the congregation is totally with the man. I don't consider myself a "weepie" type person, but I was totally "destroyed" by this speech. The tears came down like rain. Sometimes events open your eyes. This is the kind of event that opens your heart. Deepens your heart. Very, very, necessary.

I cried for the victims. I cried for all of us. I cried because Obama and the church-goers show us such grace, and love, and forgiveness, and strength, and belief in a better world, a better human species.

And I cried because I'm not sure that I have that much forgiveness, that much grace, that much love, that much strength in my own being. But I am trying, I am working on it...

And we all need to get in touch with our own "reservoir of love."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality! Wonderful!

I'm not married, but have been in a great long-time relationship. Friends tell us that we are "more than married." There is something great about finding someone that you want to live with and share life experiences with. It's an essential social thing. Makes you oh so human. All humans should have that right, and possibility.

I was so, so exhilarated yesterday to hear that "Marriage Equality" was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Sometimes the progressive idea wins. Sometimes equality and justice for all is affirmed. And that raises us all up.

On the one hand, it seemed like marriage equality had to be the only logical, reasonable and just decision. But on the other hand, you realize it was a close vote, and it could have easily gone the other way.

I worried that 9 legal scholars in black robes would weasel out of it all, and kick it back to the States. So happy that they didn't. Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. And I totally applaud his reasoning.

I think of gay men and women who suffered from discrimination, it wasn't so long ago when "being gay" was considered a sickness, an abomination, something to hide or try to cure. Some of my favorite artists endured a long, cold social torture. I think of such wonderful, intense and gifted people like Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Turing, James Baldwin, T.H. White, etc. People who endured terrible, terrible discrimination and misunderstanding, or suffered in a closeted silence.

All those "loud and proud" gay folks from Stonewall onward have done us all a great favor. They stood up and declared they were gay and they belonged too. And slowly, but surely the culture has changed. Most of us realized we knew lots of gay people, and they were not scary, they were people just like us.

Andrew Sullivan has been an eloquent voice for many years on this topic, he had a new post about the decision here.

Yes, so yesterday was a great day. For everyone. One small, necessary step. Wonderful!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fight "Social Anxiety" with Pickles!

Are you suffering from "social anxiety?"  "The fear of interaction of other people that brings on self-consciouness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and as a result leads to avoidance."

If you don't, why not?! If your eyes and ears are open you really should be socially anxious! Just take a quick look at this kooky, crazy world around us friend. 

Just kidding.

If you are socially anxious, what can you do? Get on the meds? That's the usual medical response. They will "put you on the meds" at the drop of a hat. Think: Valium, Prozac, etc.

But "science now tells us" that the answer is actually pickles! Not just pickles, other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt work too. You see, fermented foods are good for your gut biome. And remember dear pilgrim you are made up of bacteria. Lots and lots of creepy, crawly bacteria.

And that's good news. You want a healthy biome. A healthy community of bacteria swarming all over, and inside of you. Really.

When I read this article I immediately went out and bought myself a jar of organic, kosher dill pickles. It's been a long time since I ate pickles, I always loved them, but I thought for some odd reason that they were probably bad for me.

I was delighted to find that they're very good for me and my bacteria. So I have been eating pickles since last Monday and I must say I have been swimming in good feeling this week. I realize I love pickles! Now, as my close friend points out to me, often, I am very impressionable. Easily swayed. Easily turned on to the latest thing. So there's that.

Plus, this all could be the placebo effect in action - I think pickles will make me feel better, make me lose my social anxiety, and well, what I think becomes what I am. So I'd take this all with a "grain of salt," although really, you should watch your intake of salt.

Pickles! They have changed my life this week. My bacteria seems to be applauding! And nothing makes me anxious.  Just don't want to run out of pickles.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How to Conquer Hate with Love?

I heard a woman on the radio talking about praying in the room where a gunman killed 9 people. She talked about love, about praying and loving. About how events have brought people closer together.

How to conquer hate with love? 

By loving. Filling yourself up with love, when that seems absolutely, inconceivable, totally not possible. I mean, pretty much impossible. That's really when it counts. When you walk the talk with love. When that is the hardest, most inconceivable thing you could possibly ever do.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"What Gun?!"

I get how symbols are powerful. They hold meaning. People live and die for them. A flag is that type of symbol.

But I don't think it's political "courage," or some kind of "brave act" for a politician to decide it's now time to bring that Old Confederate flag down. I see it more as a practical reality. Finally accepted. This is not courage. 

BTW - Josh Marshall digs into the history and finds that old flag was always understood as the White Man's Flag. Explicitly, implicitly, racist.

So to see all these folks on the bandwagon of bringing the flag down, rolling it up and hiding it in the closet, just seems like "grandstanding." I mean, sure, take those flags down. They are offensive, a symbol of division and hate and represent a time that supposedly no longer exists. This all should have happened long, long ago.

But we are a country so Gun Sick we act as if taking a flag down somehow addresses an issue. The gun sickness is so embedded we can't/won't even think about how to fix our gun problem. The flag thing almost seems like a calculated side-show.

Don't look at the gun in the closet. What gun?! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Old Time Music Model Works Just Fine!

Yes, there's the new music model, (see previous post) - streaming music to your phone, which is better than stealing, but, to be honest, I'm still very much stuck on the old music model.

This weekend it went like this: see a band playing live at a street fair, get totally knocked out by their live performance, dip into wallet, pull out some cold hard cash, and buy one of their CDs, and band t-shirts!

There was something viscerally, physically exquisite about the whole transaction. And giving real $ to musicians, and telling them how much their music inspired, and explaining how their energy, enthusiasm and musical talent totally impressed - well it's just the best overall kind of human interaction you could possibly experience. Really!

And who was the band that did all this impressing? Jefferson Street Parade Band. How would I describe them? A funky, soulful, jazzy, marching band. A rag-tag band of serious musicians, with major jazz chops, and a funky, loose, party, street vibe. They were all dressed in glad-rags - vests and funny hats. Yes, they are a marching band - they look like hip rejects from a more traditional, half-time type band - this version consisted of three drummers with those little cocktail kits that they wear and can walk around with, and a three piece horn section - baritone sax, tenor sax and trumpet,  a kickass guitar player and a funky, soulful, stunningly cool bass player.

Their set? Total, maximum, pulse-pounding energy. They played party-time jams, Balkan gypsy stuff, Ghanian soul music, Thelonius Monk jazz, all layered with cross-rhythms and a loose, good-time vibe.

So impressive. And fun. And most excellent. We bought their latest CD "Consultation with Tubby" and the record is well recorded, and does a decent job of catching their unique magic. Still, I highly recommend finding these guys and seeing a live show.

They are from that musical mecca Bloomington, Indiana and are in the midst of a little midwest tour. Worth seeking out. And while you are at it, buy a CD and t-shirt. It will make you feel extremely invested! And your being will be flooded with happiness and good feeling. I promise!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Taylor Swift Strikes A Blow Against the Empire for All Music Artists!

I'm not a Taylor Swift fan. I mean, I'm not, not a Taylor Swift fan. Just not interested. I wish her the best, although, of course she doesn't need any good vibes from me, she seems to be doing just fine without me.

I don't plan on buying any of her music, but I must applaud her crusade against free music on Spotify. And I am glad that she stood up to Apple Music too, to make sure that artists are paid for their music. Some may say she did this only for herself, but the result is that all artists will benefit, so I say, great work Taylor!

We still buy CD's and vinyl, but we also get the idea that lots and lots of folks prefer to stream music on their iPhones, etc. That is the way of the world. And that's cool, as long as the people who make the music are compensated.

We have some of our music on Spotify and it really is a sad joke. Pennies for many, many plays. Doesn't add up to a hill of beans. Certainly not cool or fair. So I guess if it comes down to a battle between Apple's new streaming service vs. Spotify, count us in on the Apple Music side!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Marilyn Monroe Quotes Milton!

Kim Morgan is probably my favorite "movie critic." She has a free-range mind. She sees what she wants to see and writes about what moves or touches her. She is not a "consumer guide" critic, or a movie industry flak or cheerleader.

Just a very intelligent, sensitive, knowledgable soul who loves movies. She always has something interesting to say about the movies she loves. Makes you more intelligent just by reading her. And I seek out films she writes about - her taste is exquisite.

This birthday tribute to Marilyn Monroe totally blew me away.  Marilyn, the sex goddess, writes beautifully, poetically, tragically. I thought I knew the woman, the myth, but of course, now I don't think I ever really knew her at all.

MM quotes John Milton: "The Happy Ones were never born."

The opening paragraph of her letter to her psychiatrist is beautiful, heart-breaking...

"Just now when I looked out the hospital window where the snow had covered everything suddenly everything is kind of a muted green. The grass, shabby evergreen bushes -- though the trees give me a little hope -- the desolate bars branches promising maybe there will be spring and maybe they promise hope." 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

America, Gun-Sick!

Another massacre in America. It happens. Often. There is a pattern. A dead-eyed, hollow-headed idiot, usually a dweeb, a "mental defective" with some terrible haircut, arms up with a cache of guns and unleashes a torrent of bullets on innocent people. Places like schools, movie theaters, malls, churches.

Hate. Stupidity. Madness. Sickness.

And we all shudder, and "tsk, tsk." And say "terrible."  Listen to John Stewart, or Barack Obama. We know the issue, we understand the problem. It's appalling. And our political system is at a standstill. A stalemate.

Maybe America's love affair with guns is actually a sickness itself? We can get all "Freudian," it seems fruitful - a gun is a phallic symbol, a symbol of power, of death, and those who are obsessed with guns, who must arm themselves, are just sick people. Scared, weak, pissed off, attracted to death and dreams of violence. Maybe gun ownership itself is a kind of sickness?

Is it a surprise that many gun owners end up shooting themselves? Or "accidentally" shoot their friends and family members? I think of Chekov. He tells us if you have a play with a gun on the mantle that gun must go off sometime during the play. I think of a gun like that. It must go off.

So yes, other Western democracies have no problem regulating guns. With much success. We could do it too. As Adam Gopnik so eloquently tells us we can become "gun-sane." It is not impossible. It is not hard. Why don't we? It's not a matter of logic, reason, or inability to come up with an answer, it's a matter of sickness. Gun-Sick.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jerry Seinfeld - Drop in Ocean, Goofy Guru and TM Master!

Last night I heard Judd Apatow talking about his book "Sick in the Head." I must admit I have never seen a Judd Apatow film. So there's that.

The most striking thing I heard in the interview, and maybe not surprising - Jerry Seinfeld is a big-time worrier, but he is also the happiest, most well-adjusted comic Apatow knows and has interviewed. Seinfeld is a long time meditator, (Transcendental Meditation), and he is very comfortable with being "just a drop in the ocean."

And that just makes so much sense. I mean, now, after all these years, I think I understand Seinfeld. I get where his comic sensibility is coming from, and I get why he has been so successful for so many years, and I get why he has such an ease and is always seemingly so humble and nonchalantly happy. 

And it makes me happy too! Jerry Seinfeld - drop in ocean, Goofy Guru and TM master!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Root for the Pope Team - Eco-Justice!

Everyone is trying to get jump on the Pope. His big encyclical is due today, but there have been leaks and speculations. Usually when I think "Pope," I think "Irrelevant!" And don't bring up that "infallible" idea - Pope - just another human being in a fancy cloak. He comes with all the flaws and foibles as the rest of us.

Usually "Pope," means old white guy in robes, endlessly flogging the old church rant. It's all musty books, and pain, and guilt, and no sex, and no condoms, and no women priests, and just all that Old World claptrap for the masses. Retro!

Like I said, supremely "Irrelevant." But this Pope Francis dude seems a bit different. Dare I say, "progressive?" He almost seems tolerant, and a bit "open-minded." The crazy right wingers are denouncing him as a "Marxist," or "Socialist," which leads me to believe he must be doing something right.

Pope Francis actually seems concerned for the poor, and the planet. And he seems to think that unbound Capitalism isn't such a great thing. And that "trickle down economics" is a freaking, pernicious, toxic hoax.

My favorite new word construction? Eco-Justice- "ecological responsibility and social justice!" 

All I can say, it's a good start, I want to root for the Pope Team so, well, "Go Pope Go!" Eco-Justice indeed!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The War on Drugs - Comfortably Dumb!

No doubt the "war on drugs" has been a scourge, a blot on civilized society. Of course prohibition doesn't work. Of course you can't wipe "illegal" drugs off the planet. What a silly, counterproductive and tragic idea. Criminalizing drugs just creates a more violent, more deeply embedded problem. You have your addicts, and you have your wealthy "Narcos." And there is a thriving market that corrupts politicians, bankers, cops, etc. So much dirty money to spread around. And what a hypocritical society we are - on the one hand we tout all those "miracle drugs" and encourage the population to "drug up!" And then criminalize another class of drugs. Which just drives up prices, increases the violence, feeds the beast. How dumb! Completely, comfortably dumb!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Old Friends!

Yes, it's true. If you have a friend, a real, long-time friend, anything can be transformed. A rainy Monday, on the El, going to the dentist?! Who knew that going to the dentist could be fun?! Turns out our teeth are fine, a patch here and there. And then off to Old Jerusalem in Old Town, dinner at one of our all-time favorite restaurants. Everything tasting extraordinarily great. Talking with the owners, people we've known for years and years, recalling days long ago when Old Town was funky, and bohemian, and the rents were so much more affordable. Through it all, still friends. And then the long ride back home on the train. And stops along the way brought laughter, lots of laughter. Can't buy that kind of good feeling. It just emerges, over time, a long time, together.

Monday, June 15, 2015

You Always Have To Do The Work

Yes, "The Subterranean River of Emotion." I find these lines from Cheryl Strayed very resonant this morning. The river flows...

"Ultimately, the truth is that we have to help ourselves — we all benefit from people helping us, but we will never get anywhere if we don’t help ourselves… [There is a] universal truth that we are all are responsible for our lives — that we all suffer and we all need to find light in that darkness, strength in that weakness...

... So you have to do the work, you always have to do the work. And part of the work is about getting comfortable being uncomfortable, learning how to say, “Hello, fear, thank you for being here, because you are my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.”

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Finest Stuff

If you've seen the movie, "Once," you know Glen Hansard.  If you haven't heard his EP of Jason Molina songs, well, you are missing out on one of the finest collection of songs ever. Really. It's that good. Gorgeous. Beautiful. This is a project of heart, soul, love. 

Molina was an amazing songwriter. You should also seek out Molina's "The Magnolia Electric Co." Breathtakingly great. I didn't think both records would hit me so hard. But they do. Both. The original artist, and the talented guy channeling the original artist. Both are fantastic, beautifully done.

The finest stuff.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A 140 Character Tower of Babel

Twitter. Every one gets to say something. Instantly. And post it for everyone else to see. Is this a good thing? Seems like lots, and lots, and lots of mindless chatter. Often about subjects no one really knows anything about. So lots of mindless chatter about mindless chatter. And then lots of people sniping and snarking and shaming other people for mindless chattering. The mindless, relentless, in the moment beast of social media madly feeding on itself. A 140 character Tower of Babel. Is that a business? Is that a must-have app?

Friday, June 12, 2015

My Telecaster - Unique Mojo

I own a Fender Telecaster Thin-line Reissue guitar. It is a Mexican-made Fender. I bought it in 2003. It's not fancy. It's not a collectible. It's been lugged, beaten-up, dropped, and knocked around. I've opened it up so often the screws in the pick-guard are loose and rattle around. I put black tape over them to keep them from falling out. 

There is a nasty black scorch mark from a soldering iron on the side of the body. I am dangerous with a soldering iron in my hand. If you opened up this guitar you would see solder splattered all over the place. Sort of like a Jackson Pollock painting.

I replaced the original Fender Pickups with Telecaster Texas Specials, and then later I replaced those with 1 Seymour Duncan Hot Rail in the neck position, and one 1 Seymour Duncan Old '59 in the bridge. Surprisingly, this guitar is super-quiet. No hums, no crackles, no fizzes.

I am a little embarrassed about the condition of this guitar. It's a result of lots of experiments, lots of work on it, by a person who really didn't know what he was doing, when he was doing it, he just did it, and then lived with the results.

The wiring is all sloppy, and loopy and if you tried to trace the wires from one place to another, well, you'd need Google Maps to figure it out. Last night, I did a "truss-rod adjustment." I lately put on some super-heavy electric guitar strings, and I noticed the action up the fretboard was pretty bad. For a brief second I thought maybe I should bring the guitar into a shop and let a real guitar tech work on it. But then I figured I couldn't deal with the embarrassment of showing this guitar to anyone with any knowledge.

So instead, I watched a YouTube and then figured I was an expert. And all seemed to go well. I made the adjustment, and now the action is much better. I am very proud of myself. And I must say there is something amazing about this guitar. I have totally put my stamp on it. It's unlike any other guitar in the world. You would not want your guitar to be like this guitar. But that's ok. When I play it, I realize it has it's own unique mojo. And in it's own quirky way, it sounds and plays great. It is so much me.

Do guitars have soul? I believe so. Can an inanimate object radiate energy? Yes. Does this guitar uniquely contain, and offer up music to me? Yes, indeed. It is so.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Vinyl Record - The Ideal Artistic Form

I am one of those who think that an "LP," a long-playing vinyl record, represents the ideal form for a collection of songs, an "album," - "one or more recordings produced as a single unit."

Vinyl records are making a little bit of a comeback - up 260% since 2009. They are a tiny part of the market, but vinyl sales are a thriving sub-market. And that's not counting all the used vinyl stores and collectors.

What's cool about vinyl and so "defining" for the art form is that you could only get about 22 mins. of music per side.  All those records that made their mark in our consciousness had to conform to a pretty strict limit of music. The strict limit actually helped define the perfect, idealized form - a quirk of the limits of technology.

And since vinyl ruled for such a long time, when the CD was introduced, all those early CD's reflected those limits too.  I think of the "greatest" albums and I think of Sgt. Peppers, Highway 61, Revolver, Sticky Fingers, Let it Bleed, Beggars Banquet, Astral Weeks, Patti Smith's Horses. They were cohesive collections that did not overstay their welcome.

Of course, there were exceptions, double albums that totally captivated, these especially come to mind: Exile on Main Street, Electric Lady Land, The Beatles White Album, The Who's Tommy, the sprawling, three platter All Things Must Pass.

Today, there are albums being released that adhere to the "less is more" approach, probably with an eye to the upswing in the market for vinyl releases, and they tend to be my favorite records - Low's "Invisible Way," Luluc's "Passerby"  Sturgill Simpson's "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music." 

CD's allowed artists to put more music on a platter, but it didn't make the form richer or better. I own quite a few records made in the "more is more" era and they can be tiring and boring, and I don't play them often. There are some collections, that when I get finished listening to them, make me cry "Uncle!"

Now people are back to downloading individual songs, listening only to "singles," taking the music "out of context." I think this a way of dissipating the power of music. I want to hear an album, an LP of music. That is the art form, the cultural artifact, that I love. 

So the new interest in vinyl has imposed a new discipline, which I think is great for the form. An artist today, thinking of releasing new music, will take into account how many songs will fit on a vinyl LP, which dictates the length of the CD, and the digital downloadable "album."

Vinyl, CD, or digital download - I want to hear the collection of songs in context, one song flowing to another as the artist intended. One cohesive statement. To me that is the art form, the ideal way to experience music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Skimming Or Delving In

Within the Context of No Context. George Trow's great essay. We are the culture of no context. You can live that way. Skimming over the surface of everything. That can become your "go-to" mode. Skimming. Streaming. Skipping. The eternal now. It's sort of Zen. Living on the surface. 

Or you can delve in, sink in, dip in.

Knowing the context, finding the context, exploring the connections between things, that's another mode. Takes time and thought. One thing leads to another. Looking for connections. How one thing comes out of another, how they are linked, what else was happening when something was created, when something happened.

Skimming or delving in. Two modes.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Beach Boys were "The Straights"

Yes, I loved the Brian Wilson movie, (see previous post), but to be honest, I've never really been a fan of the Beach Boys. When I was a wee lad, the Beach Boys seemed to be on the wrong side of the culture. They were so "uncool." They seemed like a band of straight arrow, conservative kids, the kind of kids who liked to sing in the glee club, and voted for Nixon.

They were accepted by the "straights" along with Sinatra, Elvis, Lawrence Welk, The Carpenters, Pat Boone.

I mean, to me there were the countercultural heroes - the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Bob Dylan and the Band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and then all those great bands from West Coast - Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, The Byrds, the bands who played the Monterey Pop Fest, and Woodstock.

My perception was that the Beach Boys were decidedly not part of the Woodstock Nation. What I didn't realize at the time was that much of their image was a marketing hook, a gimmick. When I found out that Brian Wilson wasn't a surfer, that all that myth making - cars, bikinis, surf boards, endless summer was pretty much a manufactured image, I began to separate the image from the music.

When Paul McCartney said that Wilson was a worthy rival, a pop-meister, a musical genius, I began to just listen to the sound they made. Certainly "Good Vibrations" with all those phenomenal sounds - a theremin, sleigh bells, was a knockout single. And Wilson's achievement is really amazing. Those multi-part harmonies were stunning.

So yes, the Beach Boys were an act of imagination. And Wilson was a complex character. But to me it's still true that the rest of the band really was pretty uncool.  Wilson was a solitary genius, surrounded by a band of brothers and cousins, haunted by his authoritarian, domineering, abusive father. And he was pretty much alone. And when he got weird, he really, really got weird. And maybe in fact, he was decidedly counter-cultural, but by the late sixties he was pretty much isolated in his own little world of madness. More myth than reality.

Monday, June 08, 2015

We All Need a Little Love & Mercy!

Tony Fitzpatrick writes beautifully and memorably about the new Brian Wilson "bio-pic" "Love & Mercy."

We saw it yesterday. It is a wonderful/powerful movie. Two actors play Wilson. The young "wunderkind" Wilson (Paul Dano), and the older "shell-shocked" Wilson (John Cusak). We thought both actors were phenomenal. Not so much portrayals, but "conjurings."

The movie just oozes with telling detail. Really catches the era of the Beach Boy's 60's. And the odd, disjointed, authoritarian aftermath.

I openly weeped. I felt so sorry for Brian Wilson - a gifted, talented sensitive boy bullied and hounded, and pushed around by just about everyone in his orbit. There is the Wilson myth - sensitive, misunderstood artist, ripped apart and destroyed by lesser minds - monstrous people - jealous of his talent, manipulating and feeding off him. 

There is a "second act." Wilson did find a measure of "love and mercy," and that's part of the story too. Highly recommended.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Embrace Guacamole!

Life. You think it's about accumulating things. Knowledge, experience, etc. It's also about losing things, letting things go.

I think food. I think about things I used to eat and drink, and have given up over the years: alcohol, sugar, fried food, processed food, meat, soft drinks, fast food, desserts, gluten...

I think about the things I have enthusiastically embraced: quinoa, nuts, guacamole! Can a person live on guacamole? I think I will try!

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Let Them In...

Maybe it helps that I'm a "bird person." My partner and I have lived with birds for years. One male bird in particular has been a constant companion for nearly 20 years. So I do know how a cross-species relationship can be a unique, life-affirming, totally amazing & touching thing.

So when I read Dwight Garner's review of "H is for Hawk" in the NYTimes, I knew I'd have to read it. 

I just finished the book a few days ago. It is extraordinary. I can say I've never read a book quite like it. It's about falconry, grief, loss, losing one's self to find one's self, death and reality, and all the things we do to evade reality. It's also a totally engaging and maddening portrait of T. H. White. Makes me want to seek out T.H. White's work. 

That's how great books work on you. They engage you. Plunge you into another world, another mind, and then lead you to other connections, send you down new rabbit holes. There is an element of "magic" to it all. How do words on a page fire your imagination? How can a little bound book change your head? 

Of course, not all of them do. But when you come across a great book, you realize the world is bigger, and more engaging, and more transformative, than you imagined. There is magic in the world, in the wind, in the things right in front of our faces. We just need to open our eyes, open our heads, and let them in.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Perception of Time

The way we perceive time is weird. Maybe it's an "illusion?" An hour can drag, almost come to a stop. A month, a year can fly by. One day you look up and a decade has come and gone.

Maria Popova reminds us that Robert Graves and Maurice Sendak once collaborated on a children's book.

So yes, one day, a blinking, happy little boy, the next a grizzled old man. Think Merlin without the wisdom, without the magic, without the cool hat. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Pen is Still Mightier!

Terry Flamm from the great Power Pop Music blog, Broken Hearted Toy came out to see our show at the Red Line Tap last Sunday. Armed with notebook, pen and intelligent ears. Sometimes a tree falls in the forest, and someone does hear and see it! A mini Abbie Fest? Sounds good to me. And my life summed up as a Yardbird's song? What could be better?!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Find Yourself, Get Lost!

Yes, finding yourself, by getting lost, I've been doing this naturally all these years, never knew I was really onto something. Rebecca Solnit shows us the trick.

To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away. 

A conscious "lostness" alive, aware, not a dark oblivion.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Ebb & Flow

There is a difference between being "empty," (vacant, unoccupied) and being "down," (lower, worse, defeated). Similar, they some times seem like the same thing. Especially if you were recently filled and animated with a project or idea. They are not. Being filled with enthusiasm, that is an enviable state. It's just the best. But you can't keep it up all the time. Ebb & flow.  That is inevitable. It's natural. Don't need to remedy or try to fix it. Some fall into a trap of trying to fill the emptiness with cheap thrills. That is just a sideshow. First flow, then ebb. Then wait to flow again.

Monday, June 01, 2015

A Collection of "Off-Kilterness"

Our band hosted an afternoon "variety show" yesterday. It was an odd collection of acts. Poetry, theater, comedy and music. It was sort of mini-circus, or a really oddly programmed set. Lots of things, pretty much unalike, presented together. 

It was my idea, and I put all those acts on the bill, so of course, I just thought it was brilliant. I really love all those acts, those odd souls. Lots of laughs. Lots of cool sounds and images.

There was stand-up from Elizabeth Gomez, garage rock from The Rut, mad poetry and story-telling from KC Chronis, surreal and hilarious theater from Citizen's Relief, dazzling exuberant go-go dancing from the Revelettes, and music from the always mind-bending Gunnelpumpers, and our band too.

Talking afterwards I realized that just like me, many of these folks always feel on the "outside looking in." Oddballs, misfits, weirdos. Every one of them has a little bit of an off-kilterness about them. And each of them has something unique to offer.

That's so inspiring to me. The audience was small. But that's ok. The folks that did show up seemed to really enjoy the variety. So yes, a Sunday afternoon variety show. What a great idea! Long live the odd jobs!

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