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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jammer - Destroyer of Strings!

I have a new nickname. Jammer - Destroyer of Strings. At band rehearsal I broke 3 strings. The high "E" and "B" and amazingly, the thickest and hardest to break, the low "E." It was humid, and I did a lot of up-tuning and down-tuning, plus the strings were on the guitar for a little over a month, but still, that is some kind of dubious record.

I am a heavy-hitter. Exuberant! But some of it might be attributed to bad technique. Or crummy strings. But in this case, the strings are actually quality. So yes, I admit, it's the player, not the play. Destroyer!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Live and Die for It!

Road-blocks. Dead-ends. False starts. Stones in my Passway. Cross-roads. A bump in the road. A hiccup. A blow-up. A crash. A total fuck-up.

How to deal with that shit?! My usual mode: "damn the torpedoes." Full speed ahead. Try to make lemonade out of lemons. You know, all that positive thinking hurly-burly. Takes a lot of energy. And bravado. False bravado.

Sometimes I know I'm bluffing. And sometimes I just fall into bluff mode without even realizing I'm doing it. And it's only later I realize, I bluffed my way forward. I even bluffed myself.

I always fall back to one of my father's favorite sayings, via Vince Lombardi: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." 

And yesterday, trying to rally myself, I thought: "They didn't just give Frodo the ring, did they? He had to earn it, to journey for it, to fight for it, to live and die for it. Didn't he?"

And then I remembered. No, they did give Frodo the ring. He was the ring-bearer. He carried it, it was his, and then he lost it, and had to recover it. Oh yeah. Different story. But still, right, the ring. You have to journey and risk and be brave and go forward. And get tough when it gets tough. But maybe not too tough.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bootstrap Our Own Meaning/Light!

I studied Psychology in College. Kind of just fell into it. I was studying literature, and realized if I was gonna write anything of substance, I really needed to study people.

And I discovered some real interesting stuff. Especially Jung & Freud. But Psychology/Psychiatry is kind of a discredited thing now. Who needs "talk therapy," when you can get brain scans and drugs?

All that brilliant and provocative insight from those two totally engaging minds kind of gets flooded over and out by the drugs. 

But you know, maybe instead of being "drugged up," we need stories, symbols, we need to talk to it all out to try to make sense, and to give meaning to our lives. Even if that meaning is fleeting, elusive, illusory. Whatever.

And this Psychiatrist reminds us we need uncertainty too. I always thought that the best of psychology/psychiatry was not so much a scientific endeavor, but an artistic endeavor. We are creatures of art and science. We need both. 

Life and our place in the great stream of life is poetry, art. It seems we do need to bootstrap our own meaning and light. As Stanley Kubrick put it: "However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Creators!

Bumped into a fellow "creator" yesterday. And had an amazing, enlightening, inspiring 15 minute conversation that resonated all day long. 

Anyone can be a creator. But the folks who actually spend their lives creating really are a special tribe. Really they are. Now this tribe has no special qualifications, as they say, "don't need no ticket to get onboard."

But you do need a bit of optimism, and energy and "stick-to-it-iveness". You have to be a bit stubborn and focused,  determined, to decide to bring things into existence. You can be a creator with mud, yarn, or plants, or food, music, art, dance, etc.

Put a couple "creators" together and watch the sparks fly. Really. It's that lively and kinetic. It's something really cool and special. There's also an element of hot air, talking about the ability to defy gravity, and the odds, and the naysayers. But when it comes down to it, it's about doing the work. It's just a human thing. Human beings being humans. Fully.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What's Gonna Happen Next?!

And then you sometimes wonder, what's gonna happen next?! Like this is all some grand narrative, and you have your part, and you're waiting for the next scene, the next episode, the next season.

And for much your time on the planet it seemed like there was no theme or purpose, or end point, stuff just happened. Some of it happened to you, and some of it happened to other people, and well, that was the kind of  show you found yourself in.

And you wished for things, and planned things, and sometimes your wishes came true, but mostly they didn't, and sometimes your plans panned out, and often they didn't, and sometimes you just floated along, and you realized you were really good at floating. And this was a "double-edged sword." A blessing and a curse.

And often you watched to see what came down the river, what was around the bend. And you realized, you weren't really all that good at "farsightedness."  You did your best to see what was in front of your nose, and did your best to deal with that. And you realized it was that kind of show too.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Heaven or Hell? Google It!

Lately I'm finding everything funny. Not in a cynical, sarcastic way. Really. Just funny. Like Ha, Ha funny! For instance this, "Googling for God." Totally cracks me up.

People are often searching for Heaven, less so for Hell. Except those who live in Retirement Communities. Those folks are searching for Hell. Maybe they're hoping Hell will be better than the Retirement Community? Or after a few years in a Retirement Community they just know that Hell is their next move?

And people want to see visuals. What does Heaven and Hell look like? Will I enjoy my stay there? What kind of amenities do they have? Will there be bingo? Air conditioning? What kind of Joy, or suffering? What's on the menu?

Folks also Google Jesus and the Pope, but those crusty old-time dudes can't hold a candle to Kim K.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reward the Stunt?!?

I wrote about Ryan Adams covering Taylor Swift here. Just weird enough to be interesting. But also kind of a "stunt." And if I buy the Ryan Adams record of Swift covers, don't I also have to buy the Taylor Swift record? Just to see what he did and didn't do?

And is that just a bridge too far? 

Still, you do realize that this new record by Ryan Adams will be his biggest ever, a sort of breakout record. And he will, for sure, be riding Taylor Swift's coattails. Is it the kind of stunt that we should be encouraging?

I'm torn. One part of me says... buy both records... another side of me says... avoid with extreme prejudice...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Conflicting Realities!

I love it when I find out that things that I think I know, are things  that I don't really, really know. It happens often. It happens especially when we are talking about those deep, primal, fundamental things. I realize I make lots of assumptions. Most of my knowledge is partial, fungible, and open to revision. It doesn't exactly make me feel stupid, although, maybe it should. Let's just say I'm a seeker after knowledge, and knowledge is always running out ahead of me, waiting for me to catch up.

How about "reality?" Physicist David Bohm tells us reality is not as simple as we think it is...

"Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based on our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality."

So I guess it isn't all that surprising that human beings are often in conflict. And that conflict is not just of ideologies, but actually and really a conflict of realities.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Pope vs. Fossil Fuels

The Pope vs. fossil fuels? That is an epic battle. The Pope has no army, but he does have a flock. Not infallible, but I like that he is speaking out about a "bold cultural revolution." Good to see a Pope not afraid to speak for the poor, the little guy. Sends the hard-core right into a tizzy. Funny!

Those who make their money via fossil fuels will fight till the last drop of oil, the last shovel-full of coal, but a change of consciousness can come to us all in a flash. Love that the Pope is selling a revolution. That may be salvation for human beings on this little blue planet.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jeb! Fool!

The Punditocracy is waiting, hoping, expecting Trump to say something so stupid, so putrid and so horrifyingly ridiculous, that finally, finally, please god, he will implode like a bloated, gaseous, dirigible. They want to see that comb-over dude totally disintegrate into a million tiny pieces.

But it looks like the hard-core Republicans actually want a bloated, gaseous dirigible for President. They are searching for the "anti-Obama." And since they think Obama is a good-government Apparatchik,  they want an anti-government schmuck instead. Obama is pragmatic, competent, consistent, steady, intelligent, dedicated, patient, successful, etc. So yes, their dirigible alternative needs to be an anti-everything Obama.

Enter Trump.

Still, there's another guy running on the Republican side, and he actually did say something stupid, putrid, horrifyingly ridiculous, and oh so wrong...

That would be Jeb! Think: Fool! "He kept us safe."

That is a howler of epic, biblical proportions... Hey Jeb! Take your ! and stick it "where the sun don't shine..."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Sail Away" - The National Anthem!

Yes, Greil Marcus' great book about music and America (see previous post), reminded me of Randy Newman's great, great song "Sail Away." The Slave Trader, the Confidence Man, coaxing folks to get on the great big "slave ship" and head off to the shores of America.

This song really should be our National Anthem. There are other good candidates, Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Bannner," Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," Dylan's "Masters of War," but if we are talking about "promises and lies," Newman's song takes the cake.

And the promises and lies are so seductive... makes you want to get on that ship... "you'll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day, it's great to be an American..."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Promise and Lies of America!

Dwight Garner writes about his trusty companion, Greil Marcus' "Mystery Train."  When I hitchhiked across America I carried a rumpled copy of  "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" in my backpack. That was my constant companion.

Recently I read Garner's tribute to "Mystery Train," in the New York Times, and it compelled me to pull my copy off the shelf and re-read it. I'm about halfway through, and the 2nd time around is deeper, more profound, revelatory. What didn't hit me the first time around, hit me this time. I always thought it was good book, but now every sentence seems to hit some bullseye deep in my solar plexus.

Now the theme of America's "promises and lies" totally hits home. Maybe because I've lived more? And the idea that Robert Johnson, Harmonica Frank, The Band, Elvis, Sly Stone and Randy Newman are in the same company as Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and F. Scott Fitzgerald seems completely self-evident. And don't forget those mythical figures that hover over and haunt us all - Huckleberry Finn and Ahab.

I am not the same person I was when I first read this book. The person I am now, totally, really understands and embodies the story of America's promises and lies, successes and failures, myths and realities. The dreams and the nightmares of our American thing. 

"Mystery Train," is a wise and enlightening book about America. And myth. And music. It is a great, great piece of work. And everything it says has relevance right now. Maybe more so than when it was written. At least for me. Which if you think about it is truly an amazing thing.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"When Stuff Goes Wrong..."

Yes, wondering about when things go wrong. A friend of mine, very good with statistical analysis and abstract thinking commented: "It is amazing to consider the variety of ways that things can go wrong. And when stuff goes wrong, rarely is it what we considered likely. The Universe is far more perverse in it's ways than the troubles we can think up."

Yes, right. That's the thing, right? And we are always trying to bail ourselves out of the wrongness of things. And we try to make what's wrong, right. But you can only vamp and improvise so much, for so long.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Joy Division's Works of Art!

It was after reading Peter Hook's great book about Joy Division that I ordered up a beautiful 2 CD package of Joy Division's first 2 (and only) official releases from a boutique music vendor from Germany. $14.00

As they say, CDs are now the new vinyl.  I still love the format. And it's a great time to be in the market for CDs. They are now at a price that really makes them a bargain. I love owning the physical thing.

I realized that I never really explored the best of Joy Division. Way back in the distant past I had owned a vinyl copy of a compilation of their work. The compilation had "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the band's last great single on it, but the compilation obscured just as much as enlightened. 

So listening to the original records in sequence, one after the other has been a real revelation. Two records - diamond hard, brilliant, unique. A tight band pushing the boundaries, making singular sounds.  Martin Hannett pushed the band to create something truly extraordinary. Dare I say perfect? 

Still it wasn't until I played "Closer," over and over on infinite repeat that I realized how deeply in debt Ian Curtis is to Iggy Pop's "The Idiot." But what a tribute.  And this realization made me love the record even more. What a great band. Two absolutely, superb, essential records. Works of art.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why Did We Choose Not to Copy Our DNA?

Childfree! Who knew we were living like Shakers, Cathars, Skoptsy, and Manichaeans? What does it take to be a childfree couple? 

Why would a pair of biological/genetic entities choose to not copy their DNA and pass it on to future generations?

Is it a great act of foresight? Or selfishness? Or pessimism? Don't know. It just worked out that way. Probably a little bit of luck (good or bad is up to you), and blind determination too.

Lots of our friends are childfree too. Many of them are "creators" - artists of all types. Is that a thing, a phenomena? A choice or a circumstance. Fortuitous, or tragic?

Childfree does open space in our lives for other things. We fill that space with other stuff. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sanctuary for "Lost Causes & Hopeless Cases"

I have been uploading some stray whitewolfsonicprincess tracks to Sound Cloud. Decided to make Sound Cloud our sanctuary for "lost causes and hopeless cases." Kitchen demos, band rehearsals, live tracks, cover songs. You can stream these to your heart's content.

What started it all? I was staying in "someone else's kitchen, playing someone else's guitar," and I realized it would be really cool to capture the sounds. Lately I've had the chance to play some really beautiful, vintage acoustic guitars - a Rod Bellville Custom Dreadnought (No. 32) and a 1972 Martin D-18.

This also led to a search of our "archives" to see if there were any other songs worth surfacing.  I own a little digital recorder, nothing fancy, sort of lo-fi. Some of these songs are a little "oversaturated," not the best sonic conditions, but I love the looseness, the energy of these tracks. Some of our finest moments have actually been working out songs in kitchens or in our band rehearsal room. Always looking for that lightening in a bottle.

Monday, September 14, 2015

God is His Promoter!

Why do I think Justin Bieber is ridiculous? I don't know. Why do I think Justin Bieber finding God funny?  I don't know. I guess God really, really wants the Bieb to be #1 on the Pop Charts. He/She is known to work in mysterious ways.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Everything Interesting is in Collaboration!

You look for your insight, your knowledge, your hard to define cool factor where you can. You realize it can come from any quarter. You might surprise yourself just by picking up a magazine and reading any little old article.

For instance, Cate Blanchett in the New York Times Fashion Magazine.  Not only does she look amazing, chiseled from the finest stuff, but her mind is a formidable, admirable thing.

And I just love this: "So much of Blanchett's life and work revolves around a careful calibration of control and chaos."

And this too: "... how to practice and prepare and bind together all the 'Eureka moments,' that recapture the spark of the first reading. The way she explained it, when a scene is working, the actors are equally aware of the person unwrapping a snack in row G and the other bodies on the stage.

She hates monologue. For her everything interesting is in collaboration.'That's the dangerous side, she said. You really don't know where you're going to go.' "

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Damn the Diabolical Ideas!

Dread lifted (see previous post), don't know why...

Jean Paul Sartre (damn him) tells me that I am responsible for everything. Every act, every decision. Everything.

Decisions. You get one chance. Make the wrong choice and you have to live with the consequences. You have to decide things you have no clue about. It would be nice if you could make decisions knowing the outcome in advance. That would be much more fulfilling and equitable and fair. Living with the consequences of the decisions you made, knowing the consequences of the decisions you made. That seems like the way you should run the Universe.

No such luck.

What if we are not responsible for anything? Not one thing. What if everything is fated? There is so much is beyond our control. Doesn't seem right we should be held accountable for things we have no control over. Who decided where and when we were born, what our biological entity would look like, our early life experience? Are all our experiences subject to the whim of the Universe?

Are we just leaves blowing around on the planet? Damn that diabolical idea too!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Living in the State of Dread!

Can't explain the "dread."  Not a "fear" to pinpoint. More of a cloud of apprehension that settles inside, or seems to well up from the solar plexus, up and out.

I wonder if it's a precognition of something bad? Or a residue of a past debacle? The dread multiplies because there is no reason, nothing to point to. That's part of it, the mystery. And in this sea of dreadness, waking/sleeping are the same thing.

Living in the state of dread.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning" - Journey

The wheel. It turns. And sometimes you think it's all about the wheel and it's turning. You are on the wheel, you are turning too. After awhile all you see are "cycles" , things recurring in a sequence, a long series of occurrences.

So there is the constancy of the wheel, but everything is also always different - changing, morphing, growing, breaking-down, aging. So the wheel turns, the wheel always turns, but all that is on the wheel is in a continual state of change.

Another one of those odd paradoxes.  Seems we are stuck in an endless, looping, series of paradoxes. That is sort of what passes as wisdom.

There is the way. The Tao. "...the flow that is everywhere. People moving around, nature doing whatever it does..."

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Be Prepared for What You Can't Be Prepared For!

I've thought this before, said it, and probably wrote about it too. That's how it goes. You get older, and things you said before, you say again. Hopefully not all the time. You don't want to be one of those folks who tell you the same stories over and over and act like, or maybe really think, that they never recounted what they've recounted to you a million times over again. 

"Did I ever tell you the one about...?"

But the thought is this: life. It's a long-form improv. It's not a scripted play. It's not a fully-plotted novel with footnotes. It's not a poem. It's not a Rap song.

It's a basic set-up. A room. A place. With people in it. They come and go. And "anything can happen day," happens every single moment!

And this improv thing has been going on for a long, long time. Long before you even existed. And it will continue for a long, long, time after you are gone. And you can disappear any time too. Hustled out the door by forces you don't know. You don't really get to decide. It is sort of decided for you.

And what are you left with? "Yes, and..." You get to keep the game going. You get to try to be present. In the moment. Eyes and head open. Light on your feet. Be prepared for what you can't be prepared for...

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Pinter Distilled!

Many years ago I was on a major Harold Pinter kick. I didn't just read, but "absorbed," many of his plays. Over the years, I have seen some great productions of his work, but it was the reading of the text that consumed me, inspired me, fired me up.

Funny. Confounding. Disturbing. Mystifying.

One of his later works is called "Ashes to Ashes." A play he wrote in 1996. "Later Pinter." It is Pinter distilled. Not a wasted word.

There is a shimmering, dazzling production of this play running in Chicago right now at the Intuit Gallery, by the 2 person collective Citizens Relief. Two actors doing the best work imaginable. Perfectly realized. Perfectly embodied. Every word, every gesture, essential.

A tiny corner of the gallery serves as the claustrophobic living room. You are sucked into the vortex of Pinter. Simone Jubyna and Mike Driscoll sink into these characters, transform themselves. 

The play flies by. It works it's way into your being. It's a fever dream, a homemade hallucination. A fascinating human combat. 

I left thinking this might be Pinter at his best. No fat. Every word, every gesture, knife-edge hard and revealing. Citizen's Relief will transform you. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Maybe My Last Post About Miley!

I think what I mean to say regarding Miley Cyrus' tribute to her dead blowfish (see previous post), is that whether she is acting like she is "genuine," or really is being genuine and open and vulnerable and sad about her blowfish friend, either way, it's a pretty great music video. I mean impressive!

"But watching my friends, eat my friends, ruined my appetite..."

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Miley Cyrus Pop Cultural Auteur!

I'm thinking it's possible Miley Cyrus is some kind of musical, pop-cultural genius. An auteur of her own life-time film. She has certainly perfected the art of "growing up in public." 

I came across this video of Miley singing about her recently deceased blow-fish Pablow. It is either an excellent acting job and put on, or a really heartfelt tribute to her fishy friend. I read it as heartfelt and genuine. It's really quite touching. Maybe the best song I've ever heard from someone wearing a Unicorn outfit.  Can't imagine Dylan or Neil Young pulling this off...

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Youth is Used Up by the Young!

Thoughts after a long, hot, sticky, humid day pushing (metaphorical) boulders up (metaphorical) hills. My thoughts don't usually run away from me like this, but there it is...

They say "youth is wasted on the young." They are wrong. The young use it all up! For sure. This article in the New Yorker tells us teenage brains are different. Everything is heightened, nothing tastes better, everything has a greater impact. Young brains are more sensitive. And impressionable.

And you realize our world, our lives, are a perfect paradise for the young. Really. Maybe that is obvious. As you grow older you begin to see cycles. You don't see "the new," you see things that remind you of other things. After awhile, everything reminds you of something else.

And it's less of a paradise, and more of a mixed bag...

You live in a weary body, looking through weary eyes. You can't un-experience what you experienced. You can't un-learn what you've learned. You can't make things new, when in actual fact, and experience, they aren't new to you at all.

You do hope you can stay flexible, alert, pliable, changeable, adaptable. But time starts to shape and take away some of those attributes. For sure.

Maybe you can trade some of that lively "newness" for a well-earned wisdom? "Will they say he was a wise man?"

Friday, September 04, 2015

We are Always in the Age of Wonder

What the world needs now.

Yes, as Freeman Dyson points out, we always live in an "age of wonder," and we need more human beings to open their eyes and heads to acknowledge and celebrate the wonder.

We need scientists who think and see and write like poets. And we need poets who think and see and write like scientists.

And it does happen. I love when I read physicists and cosmologists who sound like visionary poets. 

Describe the world clearly, vividly - it is a place of signs and wonders. Open your eyes and heads!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Friend and An Enemy!

We schlep these bodies around with us. They are our vehicles, and our baggage too. I am often of the mind that I am much more than my body, but at the same time, like all of us, I am bound to this construction of flesh and bone. So much of our time is spent in the care and feeding, the keeping cool or warm, depending on the elements, of these vehicles.  Sometimes I can't help but think: body - friend and enemy, both.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Mother of All Modern Conspiracies!

Conspiracies. There are conspiracies and then there are conspiracies. And there are conspiracy theories. You don't have to be a nut to believe in conspiracies, but it probably helps.

Who shot JFK? That is the mother of all modern conspiracies. How many Thanksgiving meals were taken up with an all-consuming goulash of conspiracy theories?

Now there is a play that supposedly tells the story. It all comes from a long-time reporter with deep sources in the FBI. From what I understand, just like I always thought, that day in Dallas was a Mob hit. And yes, think Grassy Knoll!

Definitely need to check out this play...

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Polling the Idiocy!

Polls. Not sure if I believe them. It's not a science, probably more of an art. Polling firms still do their thing. How to take the temperature of a population? 

But if it's true that polls tell us something, then I think they tell us that many of our fellow citizens truly are idiots. Is it true that 54% of Republicans polled think Obama is a Muslim?

If so, this is just stupidity. And prejudice. And a concentrated idiocy. And it makes you sort of despair about your country and fellow citizens. If there is a "silent majority" they are pretty damn ridiculous. What a joke.

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