WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

More Trees Please!

Good news. Lately that seems rare. The trends have not been good. I'm thinking especially on the national, and the global stage. Personally, things are okay. I spend lots of time in my own head. Just my imagination...

Anyway, yesterday, in one dayEthiopia planted 350 million trees.

"About 350m trees have been planted in a single day in Ethiopia, according to a government minister.

The planting is part of a national “green legacy” initiative to grow 4bn trees in the country this summer by encouraging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings. Public offices have reportedly been shut down in order for civil servants to take part.

The project aims to tackle the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forest coverage was just 4% in the 2000s, down from 35% a century earlier."


Thank you Ethiopia. More of this Humans! PLEASE!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Feelings... Maybe Both!

I just want to riff this morning...

Feelings. Are they everything? Not what we do but what we feel about what we do? It doesn't sound right to me.

What we do is important. Alternatively, if we are not aligned with what we do, we are in crisis. Unaligned with our own actions.

I feel better about saying that we should aim to align heart, head & spirit. When they are aligned, I think what we do can be phenomenal, we can move mountains, achieve amazing things.

But I'm torn, not sure. Yes, feelings are sometimes arbitrary, ephemeral, changeable, they easily evaporate and reconstitute. Still, my feelings are damn important to me, maybe they are everything to me,even if they are fleeting, even if I can't really hang onto any of them.

Sometimes I think feelings are like germs. They are invisible, powerful and they can make you giddy or sick. So what do I feel about the primacy of my feelings? I'm ambivalent, confused, unsure. Feelings = everything or nothing? Maybe both?!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Not in $!

It pays...
not in $ mind you...

to live
to say yes
to have an open heart
to have a sharp wit
to be strong-minded
to be disciplined
to take your time
to walk
to drink coffee
to smell the roses
to laugh at funny things
to cry often
to change your mind
to try new things
to walk backwards
to listen to music every day
to play your guitar
to sit in a room with other musicians and ride the vibe

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Better to Live with Rats than to BE ONE!

Not sure if anyone could do better than this Baltimore Sun editorial. Our current President is a total disgrace, a racist, a very stupid and corrupt man. Love how the Sun chooses just the right words... epic...

Better to live with rats than to BE ONE...

- Baltimore Sun Editorial Board

Saturday, July 27, 2019

We are the TV Zombies...

Yes. Reading & writing has kept me sane. I don't watch cable news. It immediately gives me a freaking headache. Every damn story is hyped beyond belief. One long, ranting, hyperbolic show.

I don't watch network television either, I cannot stand laugh-tracks, or commercials, except, of course, I do watch the NFL, usually with the sound off. I provide my own soundtrack, either music or my own guitar strumming. Turns out having the NFL (all that concentrated mayhem), streaming across my eyeballs is good for coming up with new riffs.

It seems our whole culture is now just another branch of the Entertainment/Celebrity Conglomerate. TV is the worst. It reduces everything to the SHOW. So yes, tragedy, political conflagrations, the daily grind of life, is all just grist for the mill.

How does it play?

So, in my own way, I am living in another time and place. I read. I contemplate. I spend lots of time in the analog world. I listen to CDs on the stereo, sometimes vinyl too.  I still own a flip-phone. My main source of information is the radio or the newspaper. We do love to stream Netflix, or Amazon Prime. We are hooked on the long-form narrative thing.  That is probably our most "of the moment" exception.

But I always have a book handy. I am always poring over text. I am always living in my head, in my imagination. I think it's important. I think it has kept me sane, or insane in my own comfortable way.

Marshall McLuhan was right: "The medium is the message.... the medium (the channel through which a message is transmitted) is more important than the meaning or content of the message."

TV (video screens of all kinds) has rotted us, hollowed us out. Images wash over our eyeballs. We have become the TV zombies. We really have. If we stop watching, to listen, to read, we are deprogramming ourselves. That's a good thing. An essential thing.

Friday, July 26, 2019

We Like to Watch...

Yes... it's true... I usually refer to George Orwell and "1984," as the template for our modern dystopia, but it's actually Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," that we more closely resemble, especially here in good, old, USA. Don't get me wrong, we really are the children of Winston Smith, but Huxley's notion that we will "voluntarily sacrifice our rights," we will willingly give up our data, we will gladly submit to the surveilance state just for the ability to shop more efficiently is right on the mark.

Also Huxley is spot on with the idea that "people will medicate themselves into bliss." So many of us rely on the pharmaceuticals to get us to a bliss state. It's seems like a certain madness. How many folks do you know who have that glassy-eyed look? They are legion. There are the mood enhancers, the pain-killers, how many drugs do we have to load up on to face the reality of the day? There is a whole contingent of Pharma-Stepford-Folks!

How do we take Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow our bliss," when it's a manufactured state of our daily chemical cocktail? Purple Haze, baby. Can we face the day stone-cold sober? Can we find bliss then? Might be a bit more hard-earned, but probably more worthwhile. Just a thought.

We don't freaking read anymore. We just like to watch. Let the images fly over our eyeballs.  You know there's that famous Neil Postman book: "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Roger Waters made a record inspired by that book too.

"Postman asserts the presentation of television news is a form of entertainment programming; arguing that the inclusion of theme music, the interruption of commercials, and "talking hairdos" bear witness that televised news cannot readily be taken seriously. Postman further examines the differences between written speech, which he argues reached its prime in the early to mid-nineteenth century, and the forms of televisual communication, which rely mostly on visual images to "sell" lifestyles. He argues that, owing to this change in public discourse, politics has ceased to be about a candidate's ideas and solutions, but whether he comes across favorably on television."

Yes. Well. Not a new idea. We are living in a Reality TV World. What is on the screen is reflected in what's happening in our neighborhoods. So yeah, no one "reads the fucking report," everyone just watches the TV show... and it's all about how did the show go.

You actually end up with a Reality TV Buffoon running the fucking Government... what the fuck! Wake up, folks! This is not a show. It is your freaking life! 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

It Pays to Keep Your Mice Straight.

My friend thought it was the "other mouse."

You know, not the DJ with the mouse head (Deadmau5), no, she thought Karen O. from the Yeah, Yeah,Yeahs (not the punk rocker Wendy O. from the Plasmatics) made an album with Modest Mouse that feisty outfit from Portland, which definitely perked my ears up. I mean, we LOVE Modest Mouse. Some of their records come across as overflowing, over-stuffed, masterpieces. I'm thinking especially: "The Lonesome Crowded West," "The Moon & Antartica," and "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank."

Karen O. and Modest Mouse. That would be interesting...

No. This collaboration is between Karen O. and Danger Mouse. They have recorded a cool new album called "Lux Prima." Quite nice. A bit dreamy. Lush. It's playing on the box right now. Definitely a keeper. Danger Mouse is Brian Burton, a guy who has made cool albums with lots of folks: Beck, Gorillaz, Black Keys, Norah Jones.

Anyway, it pays to keep your mice straight. Your O. s too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Traces...

Castles Made of Sand...

"and so castles made of sand,
fall in the sea
eventually..."

Jimi Hendrix floating in the air this morning.  When I think of Jimi, I think of the impermanence of our existence. A beautiful, brilliant, fabulous, unusual shooting star, flaming out before our eyes.

He left some amazing grooves, shimmering, lightening-like vibrations. Those vibrations have a life, long after Jimi is just a flash in the eye.

This morning, those castles are just beach. If you pay attention you can feel the sand shifting beneath our feet. Everything is alive. Moving. Changing. Morphing. Disintegrating. Even the center of the earth, the solid planet we walk around on has a bubbling, molten core.

What is solid? What endures? Traces...

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Morning of Dislocation.

I just don't really know...

That's about right. I have no clue what's going on. It's been that way pretty much since the beginning. Probably will be that way til the end.

I have had a few flashes of insight, just little flashes in the pan. Those flashes have no staying power. They look illusory with a bit of distance. I've often singed myself by getting too close to the flame. Just when I think I have a handle on things, I lose my grip, or fly off the handle.

Watch the harpoons. They usually come from close range. Unexpected. Strike deep. And you probably won't know why.  Van the Man tells us: "there ain't no why, it just is.."

It pays to be humble. To figure you know nothing. Back to Zero... 0... maybe that really is the secret touchstone, the Holy Grail. It's hard to grip. You can't grip it. You can't hold onto anything.

That's a bit of hard-won wisdom there. This morning, feeling pretty sketchy. Listening to Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs." An odd duck of a record. Sounds like a movie-soundtrack from an unmade movie from long-ago. Out of time. Out of range.

Perfect for this morning of dislocation.

Monday, July 22, 2019

That's the Assignment, Grasshopper!

They like to depict the Wise Man on the mountaintop. Sitting in the lotus position. Contemplating his navel, or eyes closed, communing with nature. Alone. Above the fray. Dislocated from the Hurly-Burly, away from the daily tumult of living with people, on "retreat" from the human world.

You know, Jean Paul Satre - "Hell is other people."

Can you be wise, can you find transcendence, can you find peace in the middle of the maelstrom? Can you be the calm center in the eye of the hurricane? How about on the train? How about in a crowd? How about on the streets, riding the bus, at the local sports bar?

Can you be in conversation at the local coffeshop, in the midst of the daily litany of woe, and find your calm center, let the words, the emotions, the anger, the misery, the incomprehension just roll off your back?

Can you play the Sage in the midst of the madness? Since this little blue planet continues to get more and more crowded, filled with the teeming masses, needing, wanting, grasping... can you tune it all out and ride the waves of ecstasy?

That's the assignment, Grasshopper!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Greater Minds than Mine...

I know greater minds than mine have grappled with these questions (see previous two posts). I feel like I'm a blindman stumbling in a dark closet. I have a few brain cells to burn, but I am sure that at best I'm really, really good at misunderstanding the most important, subtle things. Welcome to my reality.

This morning I'm stuck on ZERO. The number ZERO: the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸ denoting the absence of all magnitude or quantity.

That's not a bad conception of what we are talking about, when we speak of "God." Void, or absence of all magnitude or quantity. A mystery.

When Hawking tells us that all matter and energy in the Universe is matched with anti-matter and negative energy and it all ZEROES OUT, I take it as an affirmation. Not a scientific nihilism, but mysterious validation of everything in the Universe.

Zero is also a circle: 0... an infinite circle... what is Zero in the Tarot Deck? The Fool...

"We begin with the Zero. This is the un-manifest where everything exists in potential. The Zero neither contains nor is contained by any number. It exists outside of any cycle. When the Zero is added to any number it symbolises a perfection of that number’s meaning, a completion if you like. Although 1 is the root of 10, 10 is not strictly synonymous with 1. This is because the addition of the Zero signifies a perfecting of the 1 influence, in effect moving out of the cycle of 1 through 9 and into a higher order—10 through 19. When Zero is added to a number it tends to bring a universal responsibility to its root number. It is out of this formless perfection that some-thing appears."

Yes. Zero is a heavy thing. My little brain is grappling... but it's a happy grappling...

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Cosmic Giggle!

One of my meditation teachers taught that you can "blow the picture," sometimes, you come across some info, or have an experience, or hear a story, read a poem, hear a song, or flash on an insight that just totally alters you. Opens your head, your eyes, you feel it in your cells. What you thought you knew, the way you saw things, what you see in the world, the picture in your head, is altered, exploded, falls away to reveal something new. It  can be a major thing, or, a minor thing. Might lead to a new philosphy for life, or can just bring you a big belly laugh.

Stephen Hawking's idea of the Universe as the Ultimate Free Lunch (see previous post), is that kind of thing. I had one of those fabulous, little epiphanies yesterday. I mean, I am not saying I totally understand Hawking, mathematics is not my thing, scientific egg-heads are usually talking over my head, but in my own way, I can misunderstand with the best of them. Give me a little bit of information that ignites my imagination and I can run for miles and miles.

So yes, the Universe, Something, for Nothing. What does that do to your head?

The Universe is a Gift with No Giver. A lark, a jaunt, a kick, a goof, a giggle, a laugh, a shout, a vacation, a bonus, free money, a treasure.

It's not a job, a task, a test, a punishment or reward.

We are here. Somehow, someway. We are free. To do what we want, for the reasons we make up on our own. There is no Daddy looking down judging. It's all up to us.

And there's Postive and Negative. Space & No Space. Light & Shadow. Bright Beauty, Dark Ugliness. Life (which we don't understand) and Death (which we don't understand). Ultimately everything is matched with it's opposite. It all zeroes out. Zero isn't good or bad, it is the mystery. Space vs. Negative Space. It's a big, Universal Dance. We are here. And then we are not. Or we are here and there, and not here and not there. Or something nonsensical like that. Our deepest understanding, our most fundamental knowledge is a bit nonsensical. Beyond Human.

And since we are Human, we struggle to understand, we do our best to see. That is probably what we are here for, to observe, to wonder, to try to skull it out. To marvel at the beauty. To try to stretch our minds, our understanding, to follow the mathematics. But it's a big complicated place, the Universe, bigger than our heads, bigger than our understanding. We are left to lean to the light, and try to cultivate intelligence and a sense of wonder!

The Cosmic Giggle!

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Universe is the Ultimate Free Lunch!

You love "Brain Pickings" because it's a blog devoted to the finest stuff.

Where else can you read a post entitled "Is There A God? Stephen Hawking Gives the Definitive Answer to the Eternal Question."  You know Hawking is a famous smart guy, up there with Einstein, Da Vinci, Copernicus, Socrates, think GENIUS!

I highly recommend you read the whole post.

I will cut to the chase. Here are the highlights for me.

A Personal God? Nope.

An Afterlife? Not the one you are dreaming of.

A Creator of the Universe? Nope. God is redundant. Everything in the Universe was created out of nothing!

But maybe you can think that The Laws of Nature are the "Mind of God!" So E=MC2 (the increased relativistic mass (m) of a body times the speed of light squared (c2) is equal to the kinetic energy (E) of that body.) is maybe a glimpse of a God-like thing, a little God-Let!

You know God would be an equation, algorithym, primordial energy, the first proton, the aftermath of the Big Bang. Postive Energy and Negative Energy Cancelling each other out!

The Universe is the Ultimate FREE LUNCH. Remember when those hard-headed conservatives told us there was "no such things as a free lunch?" Guess what? Surprise, surprise. They were wrong! The Universe itself is a complete and total FREE LUNCH. Digest that Pilgrim!

Hawking: "I’ll admit that, unless mathematics is your thing, this is hard to grasp, but it’s true. The endless web of billions upon billions of galaxies, each pulling on each other by the force of gravity, acts like a giant storage device. The universe is like an enormous battery storing negative energy. The positive side of things — the mass and energy we see today — is like the hill. The corresponding hole, or negative side of things, is spread throughout space. So what does this mean in our quest to find out if there is a God? It means that if the universe adds up to nothing, then you don’t need a God to create it. The universe is the ultimate free lunch."

"The laws of nature itself tell us that not only could the universe have popped into existence without any assistance, like a proton, and have required nothing in terms of energy, but also that it is possible that nothing caused the Big Bang. Nothing."


Everything in the Universe is Energy & Mass, and Everything is matched by the same amount of Negative Energy & Negative Space. Everything in the Universe is Matched by it's Negative. It all sums out to ZERO. Yes. Think of it. We are all running around doing our thing but everything ultimately zeros out. Funny. For some reason that sounds fabulous. A free lunch. You can have your cake and your not-cake too. It really is like one of those Yin/Yang things. Brain-warping. Mind-bending. World-changing. Consciousness-expanding. That's the kind of morning read I enjoy!

None of this bums me out. All of it astonishes me, and fills me with hope and wonder. The Universe really is mysterious. We may have figured out some of the Laws of Nature, but it's all so amazing. Energy, Mass & Space and the Negative too.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

We no longer get "Presidential Speeches," we now get "The Daily Hate." George Orwell our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you...

Storms. Humidity. Rain. Extreme Heat.

My country is aflame. The President is whipping up the HATE. This is a new thing. At least in my lifetime. No. Not the hate. I suppose that has always been there. But the hate has usually been cloaked in flowery language, soothing rhetoric. Hate speech that pretends to not be hate speech.

This President has no problem whipping up the HATE directly. And there are plenty of folks in the heartland who cheer the HATE. Reminds me of George Orwell's "daily hate." That is pretty much a typical speech from our President. The daily hate.

Chilling. Scary. Once you unleash the HATE, it can manifest in so many deadly ways. The President is a supremely bad man, his policies, his past, a very vulgar, corrupt human being. We are in the midst of a deep, horrific phase of our country. What happens in the face of the HATE?

We cannot turn away. We cannot let this succeed. We cannot let this stand. What can we do? Speak up. Protest. March. Vote for Progresssive Democrats. Everywhere.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Just Less...

I have a pudgy friend who is always dieting. He has tried every diet imaginable. Still, I think if my friend could discover his Utopia it would be sinking into a comfy couch with a large Pizza with everything on it, and a cold 12-pack of beer.

So "pudgy" is just his state of equilibrium. Nothing wrong with that, except of course, you wonder about his arteries, and heart and intestines, and all that internal stuff. We are what we eat, what we consume. At the same time all that stuff consumes us too.

It's funny. He wants to be thinner, buffer, less puffy and pudgy, but that couch and pizza and beer is always calling. As Oscar Wilde once said: "I can resist everything, but temptation."

Yes. We all have to live, the way we want to live. Live and let live.

My friend has also coined a name for a diet he invented, his own diet, one that he rarely follows, one that lately I have adopted. It is the ELF diet. You may wonder what exactly the ELF diet is? Do you imagine a small person with big ears and a goofy grin? No, not that. The ELF diet is the Eat Less Food diet.

Yes, lately, ELF diet for me. Also speak less. Think less. Lots of silent contemplation for me. Less consuming. All around. Less. Just less.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A bilious human ball of bullshit.

"Racist in Chief." 

The man in the White House is a stone-cold racist. At least he doesn't hide it. The folks who back him, look away, pretend not to know, are spineless enablers.

Of course, unless we are Native Americans, we are all immigrants, or sons and daughters of immigrants, or grandsons/granddaughters of immigrants, etc.

Our President is not okay. His comments are not American. They are anti-democratic. Racist. Hate Speech. I do think the rhetoric will continue to get worse. He is a drowning man, shouting to the heavens unleashing his hate-filled shite upon all of us.

He truly is the embodiment of all our worst qualities. A bilious human ball of bullshit.

Monday, July 15, 2019

"A Man Who Knows He's Going Under..." - J. Baldwin

"This country was founded on the ideas of justice, of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness. But these core beliefs are under threat. Each and every day. We are under threat by an administration that would rather cage children than pass comprehensive immigration reform." - Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

What if you are a "powerful" man, in a "powerful" office, but no one fears you? Instead, everyone knows you are a fool, an idiot, a coward, a disgrace, a hollow-bully, a big baby, a bloated narcissist, an incompetent, racist, corrupt fraud. How do you make it from day to day? How do you look at your self in the mirror?

I mean, what happens when even your fans/followers know in their hearts that you are a complete bust. They know it, they just don't have the heart, the courage, the smarts to admit it. They can't admit they were conned, that they fell for the toxic, carnival barker selling the "big con," and they are just too dim, small-minded and weaselly to admit it.

We have entered a new phase of this complete debacle. FUBAR! The time when folks start calling out the bully. There is nothing to fear. This powerful man is melting, disintegrating, falling to pieces right before our eyes.

Representatvie Ilhan Omar quoting James Baldwin:

“There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Nothing can help that man. What is left of that man flees from what is left of human attention.” ~James Baldwin

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Mixed-Up Confusion!

Swimming in uncertainty.

Thinking about feelings & judgement. What is important? What is puffery?  Is it true that "all that matters is what you feel?" Are our feelings everything, nothing? Obviously my feelings are pretty important to me, but are they really important at all in the grand scheme? Is even asking the question silly? Is there a grand scheme? Is that more puffery?

Does what one feel over-rule what one knows? When we say we know something, is it that we "feel" we know something? Is it all connected, and silly to try to it pull apart? Pollock famously told De Kooning: "You know more, I feel more."

Are we living in a hall of mirrors? Everything we see a mirror, reflecting back at us? What we feel we project onto the Universe, the Universe reflecting back our feelings?

And what of judgement? Judging ourselves, and the world? What's up with that? Is it a dead-end, a sideshow, irrelevant, or everything?

Yikes. I feel like a blindman, stumbling about in a dark closet. I don't really know if I know a damn thing. How does that make me feel? Confused!

I am a long-time meditator. When I meditate I can see my feelings come and go, sort of like clouds, I can see my "judgements," fade and disappear, lose their sting, their meaning. What is left when we drop attachment to our feelings and judgements? What's that silent state, that silent observing state? Is that really the only thing that is real? Is that just another hall of mirrors?

Are we more than our feelings, more than our judgments, more than what we know, more than our bodies? This morning I am full of questions, not so full of answers, I suppose that has been my go-to mode most of my life. It's a bit disorienting. Something tells me my feelings are important, but they are arbitrary, fleeting, insubstantial, same with my judgements. What else do we have? Welcome to my world of Mixed-Up Confusion! 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Eat more Broccoli!

What message did I get last night while I lay in bed sleeping?

"Broccoli is your special friend."

Hunh? Broccoli? Not Jesus?

I go to the Great Google: Why is Broccoli good for me?

"Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants."

This got me thinking, you know, we think of broccoli, of vegetables, as a lower life-form than humans, but what if that's wrong? What if broccoli and other vegetables are actually a higher life-form than us? Most of my problems have been with humans, humans, just like me. Vegetables?  No problems.

Ok. I get it. I can judge the broccoli, but the broccoli won't judge me. It's a Vegetable. Good. Raw or cooked, steamed or sautĂ©ed. 

I mean, it's simple, the message is crystal-clear: Eat more Broccoli!

Friday, July 12, 2019

"When You Find What Matters is What You Feel..." - J. Farrar


Loved seeing Son Volt (for the first time), last night at a fabulous music room, SPACE in Evanston, IL. My friend and I stood right at the foot of the band, over on the right hand side of the stage. SPACE was pretty much packed, capacity 250 when there's no tables or chairs, all standing room. The room is perfect for music, all wood floors, wood ceiling and rafters, sound buffers on the brick walls. A large stage, superb sound system, cool lighting effects. The sound tech knows the room, a perfect mix. Loud, warm, sound, a r&r mix, vocals prominent but sitting nicely within the instrumentation.

Son Volt is one of the great American bands. They have one stone-cold classic album, their first "Trace," but I will hazard the guess that everything they have done is worthy of a listen. We own three of Son Volt's records: "Trace," (1995), " "Staightaways," (1997) & "The Search" (2007). I picked up "The Search" not long ago, in a bargain bin, and it's a total knockout.

The band has changed, morphed, fallen apart, disbanded, reformed. The only constant has been Jay Farrar, lead singer, guitarist, songwriter. It's his band. Completely. His voice is a powerful, distinctive, thing, so American, dare I say, a Midwestern instrument: a plain-spoken, tough as nails, truth-telling voice. Jay wore dark shades throughout the set, you wonder could he see a thing when he looked out into the audience? The current lineup is truly great. Powerful, layered, stomping, shimmering, American r&r. A tight, exuberant set. Mark Spencer on steel guitar, keyboards, guitar is the not-so-secret weapon.

I was fascinated by all the guitar choreography on stage. Jay was playing various Gretsch guitars, a couple electric hollow-bodies, and an acoustic. There was an elaborate dance between Jay and his guitar tech, changing guitars, the tech tuning them up off stage, bringing them to him, plugging and unplugging, all done expertly and seamlessly. A bit of stage business that was pretty damn impressive.

They opened with new songs from their latest release, "Union." First listen to these songs, I'd say Son Volt still brings it, songs of the moment, songs from the heart and heartland, songs about loss, dissolution, songs about the 99%, you know, the left behind. Funny they were playing these songs on the North Shore where many of the 1% reside.

Later in the set they played songs from "Trace" and everyone in the audience was thrilled, captivated, we all knew these songs. The songs stand as American classics. They did one encore. The last song they played was a cover of The Stones "Monkey Man." It was thrilling, fabulous. Perfect. Genius cover. Great band, great show.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Paging Karl Marx!

I scan the headlines and I just can't take it. Yikes. The rich folks are out of control, freaking crazy, way too full of themselves. They think they defy gravity, that they don't have to play by the rules that all of us working stiffs live by, and really, they are right, the rich do play by their own rules, beyond ethics, beyond morality, beyond good and evil. Ugly shit. $ trumps everything else. And those $$$ are turning everything to dust, mowing down all life-forms. Maybe having a society with a small group of folks with most of  the wealth, and the rest of the folks with so much less is not so healthy. Paging Doctor Karl Marx!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"Don't Be Late." - Jimi Hendrix

"Music is my religion." - Jimi Hendrix

I slept in a bit this morning. Awakened by blasting light flooding through the window shades. So bright, like a new world had just birthed, I knew I had slept in a bit, which felt good, but it doesn't happen often. I went to bed with a raging headache, was it the barometric pressure? I seem to be getting more and more sensitive to pretty much everything as I get older. I am not hardening, I'm getting softer, more permeable. Not sure if that's good or bad. Still, the long sleep seemed necessary, refreshing and healing. Recharged!

What is the first thing I remembered this morning? I had a visitation. I was visited last night by a mythic figure. No, it wasn't Zeus or Buddha, not Jesus or Jack Kerouac, I was visited by Jimi Hendrix. Hah, so odd, unexpected. Why Jimi?

Great American r&r guitarist. He died young, at the age of 27 in 1970. The words from one of his songs, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," was circulating through my head, Jimi was speaking directly to me:

"I want to say one more last thing
I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time
I'll give it right back to ya one of these days, hahah
I said, I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time
I'll give it right back one of these days, oh yeah
If I don't meet you no more in this world
Then I'll meet you in the next one
And don't be late
Don't be late"

Right. I don't know. I think I will take my sweet time Jimi. But yeah, the next one, right, don't worry, I'll be there, just working on some stuff right now...

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Plutocratic Rot!

We sometimes think we live in a Democracy, but of course, for anyone with eyes, we all can see that we live in a Plutocracy -  "government by the wealthy, a controlling class of the wealthy." It's just the truth. Yes, most of us have the right to vote, but usually we are choosing between wealthy folks who promise to be benevolent to the little people vs the wealthy folks who promise to take care of other wealthy folks first.

You would think the little people would always vote for the supposedly benevolent ones, but of course, we don't, and it turns out that lots of the benevolent ones aren't really all that benevolent anyway. Lots of talk of "trickle down," for the little people, but not so much trickle down. Mainly the wealthy like to just piss on us for entertainment.

Anyway, this Jeffery Epstein story is pretty interesting. Super-rich guy running an elaborate sex trafficking ring for years. Oh yeah, looks like he specialized in very young girls. So ugly. And so many rich folks may be drawn into the mess. "Plutocratic Rot." Yes, I like that phrase. Could be the name for our current American Era. The Plutocratic Rot Era. 

You hope maybe things are so bad, the corruption has reached such a fever pitch that maybe the whole edifice comes crashing down. It happened last century, and led to FDR's NEW DEAL. Maybe we are due for a major course correction? That would be nice.

Eat the Rich. Er... no... the rot... don't forget the rot... did anyone say super-hefty Wealth Tax?!

Monday, July 08, 2019

Naive, Innocent, Good...

Can we afford to be naive, innocent, good? A perpetual goody-two shoes?  Is it lame? Is it a lie? Is it silly or absurd? Isn't it inevitable that living in the world knocks some hard-earned sense into us? Jades us? Makes us cynical, wary, doubtful, cautious, suspicious, untrusting? Isn't that what life teaches us?

What happens to us when we find that people are disappointing, manipulative, domineering, bullying, willing to explore the darkness at all costs. Willing to exploit the young, the weak, the innocent. How far down will folks go? How dark can they get? Really, really dark.

It does make you want re-think everything. To do some kind of ritual cleansing. Human, oh so human, but maybe clinging to some bone-deep innocence is essential? Sort of a spiritual re-birth every morning. Wonder what good can be found today? Wonder how we can make today a better day than yesterday?

How do we cultivate a smart naivety? An experienced innocence? An un-jaded, un-cynical knowingness? Maybe it's a Yin/Yang thing... light in the darkness, darkness in the light...

Sunday, July 07, 2019

A Battle Between Good & Evil!

Dark. How dark can we go? Humans. Read the news. Every day. Dark. Very, very dark. Darker than you can imagine. How does that happen? What wakes up the demons inside of us?

We are all creatures of light and dark. There is a battle, a dance, a balancing act going on inside of us at all times. Think of the worst things, think of the best things. Humans are capable of both.

How does that little burbling infant in diapers end up on death row? Or on the battlefield committing atrocities? Playing games of dominance and submission? How does that little burbling baby become a bully, a terrorist, a sexual predator?

It's sort of like that cartoon, right? An angel on one shoulder, a devil on the other. Whispering in our ears. Those are the two extremes. We seem to be caught between the two at all times.

Are some of us more inclined to lean to the light, some to lean to the dark? Are we truly born one way or the other? Or are we pushed that way by the things we encounter in our lives? Nature or nurture?

Hard to know how it happens. Some of us lean to the light, even in the midst of the deepest darkness. Sort of seems naive, innocent, psychically inept. Innocently optimistic.

Some of us lean to the dark. So dark it points to a bleak, black, dead-end nihilism. I guess we are talking Evil.  There is some deep existential battle going on in us. The Battle of Good & Evil.

It's a real battle. Probably good not to forget. I mean, we forget at our own peril. Lately I have been obsessed with Dylan's "Gospel Years," you know... "You Gotta Serve Somebody." Be forewarned Pilgrim.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

We Turn to Kimchi!

What to do? Turn to kimchi. We ordered "take-out" yesterday, why cook? Nothing quite like spicy, fermented vegetables. The scientists tell us that kimchi is good for our microbiomes.

"Both inside and out, our bodies harbour a huge array of micro-organisms. While bacteria are the biggest players, we also host single-celled organisms known as archaea, as well as fungi, viruses and other microbes – including viruses that attack bacteria. Together these are dubbed the human microbiota. Your body’s microbiome is all the genes your microbiota contains, however colloquially the two terms are often used interchangeably."

Remember: Food Is Medicine. We aren't just eating for ourselves, we are eating for a village, the big and small things inside of us. Anyway, the kimchi was delicious. I find that eating light and healthy is just the best. The less food I eat, the better it tastes. Is that weird? I think not. Just another example of "less is more."

Friday, July 05, 2019

Dark Things.

Last night. Reminded me of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." A totally different yarn. Fireworks blowing up around us. Three of us sitting in the backyard, on chairs in the dark; one doing most of  the talking, two of us listening.

Dark things. The conversation took a very strange, dark turn. The little black box of secrets opened up, and the dark, terrible things spilled out in a rush. A long, rambling monologue. Risky behavior. Mad adventures. Dark turns. Freudian murmurings. Drugs. Sex. Deep sickness & pain. Suffering.

A sad, disturbing tale. A hint of yawning madness, a hint of deep sickness. The two listeners realized they didn't know anything. What they thought they knew was shallow, and off the mark. The soundtrack was complete mayhem, fireworks, loud explosions, building to a frenetic crescendo.

The darkness, the sound & fury. Signifying less than nothing. The smell of gunpowder lingered in the steamy night air. The conversation faded into the black. Yes, a heart of darkness. A blackness, a void, a deep, deadly, dead-end.

The two of us, trying to process everything we just heard; we both sort of recoiled. Who is fit to judge another person's behavior? We both wanted to take a shower, perform some kind of ritual cleanse. What of the light? What of heart, soul, love? There is the long, sordid litany of the stark human needs, the yawning pit: needing, wanting, grasping, twisted desires, Meat Puppets stumbling in the dark. We were reminded of the Jean Paul Sartre idea: Hell is Other People. Do we choose between darkness & light? Or are we chosen? Do we choose a death-trip, or a life-trip? Or do both choose us?

We parted, said our goodbyes to the narrator, then a long, rambling walk and conversation in the darkness. We tried to explain to each other how that litany of dark things wasn't our way. What was the meaning of it all? We hit the pillow dreaming of a better day, a better way.  This morning wake up to light streaming through the window. Dark clouds, dark murmurings just a sad, bleak residue. A hangover of darkness.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Mysteries...

The mystery of life.
The mystery of death.
The mystery of the moment.

Right. We are stuck in the middle of mysteries. We just live with them. We need to get our heads around the mysterious realities of our very human situation. It seems like a life-time thing.

We just found out someone we know died in her sleep yesterday. So shocking, devastating, sad. Inexplicable. She was relatively young, under 50. We hadn't seen her in awhile, but when we did see her she was always vivacious, funny, lively.

We were aware that she had gone through some tough times. She lost her father a few years back, and that seemed to send her into a long & deep tail-spin, led to a lingering illness, the doctors were not helpful.

It's hard to reconcile, hard to process the news that she is gone. I mean, we have all lost folks close to us. The well of sadness is bottomless. The losses add up, the sadnesses multiply. That is what life is right? A multiplication of loss & sadness. But still...

We talk about heart, spirit, soul, energy, life, death. We don't know. Mysteries.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Give that Man a Pulitzer!

This cartoon got Canadian cartoonist Michael de Adder fired from his job. Of course, instead, he probably deserved a promotion, a raise and the Pulitzer Prize for an excellent political cartooning. It perfectly encapsulates the horrors of our current political, cultural, social moment. Yes. It's gruesome, but perfect too. We need a rethink folks. We are definitely on the wrong track... something is gravely wrong...

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

No One is in Charge...

"No one is in charge."

That's the truth they don't want you to know. Some preach about a Big Daddy sitting on a throne in the clouds. Big Daddy looking over your shoulder, rooting for you, rooting you on, caring about every little thing you do. Some point to powerful, rich men, pulling invisible strings. Some talk about cosmic forces, demons, spirits, little people.We like to hear stories about grand trajectories of history: inevitable movements, breakthroughs, evolutionary imperatives. We like to think about the power and granduer, we dream of being swept along, swept away, by forces bigger than us. We like to think about how it's all being worked out in some grand symphony of meaning and purpose.

"No on is in charge."

Does that thought wake you up in the middle of the night? Do you feel a twinge of panic rising in your chest?

"No one is in charge." That's the truth they don't want you to know.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Less is More!

OK. Turns out the key to happiness is to "lower expectations," (see previous 2 posts), and now if you are looking to cultivate joy in your life, you should, "do less!"

Sean Illing over at Vox (by the way Sean is a major go-to resource, I recommend you check in with him often), "A new book by Danish philosopher Svend Brinkmann, The Joy of Missing Out, offers some useful advice: Let it go. Stop trying to do everything and instead do less. In fact, sometimes it’s best to be left behind, to enjoy where you are right now."

I think this is great advice. Not just a "digital detox," but a broader cultural detox too. I find that "fun" has never really lived up to expectations. Looking for the "heart of Saturday night," always seemed like a fool's quest. Turns out going for a walk, sitting in a chair meditating, reading a book, listening to one album all the way through, eating a quiet meal with a friend, playing acoustic guitar in the kitchen, doing less, avidly, and intently, can be maximally rewarding.

The Way of the Hermit. Follow your inner light. You can't see that inner light if your phone is always on. I know, its kind of like that salmon swimming against the stream, and maybe at first you will feel like you are missing something, that you are going the wrong way. But, really, probably not! Yes, in some ways, "everything we know is wrong." The messages we get every day from the multi-headed mass culture beast is to always want more, do more, buy more, consume more motherfuckers!

That's a road to madness, unhappiness, a joyless needing, wanting, grasping. Bad for our mental health, and bad for the planet too. Living within our means in all ways. Tend your garden!  Less is more!

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