WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Life is People. Do You Care?

What to care about? What is the right equation? Is it a math, or a resource problem? If you care about everything, isn't it basically the same as caring about nothing? Who has that much care to give, or to not give?

Puts me in the mind of the "Serenity Prayer:" 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Right. And what "God" are we calling upon? What if the dirty little secret is that we can't really "change" anything? What if courage is irrelevant, and we humans just don't have that kind of wisdom at hand?

I mean, hell, what do I know? Too much caring can be detrimental. Caring is a business. It is not something in endless supply. We are not perpetual motion machines. We need to refresh, recharge, retrench, re-think.

Do we care about Humanity? Or do we pick some humans to care about? Do we care about the planet, or some things on it? How do we measure out our caring?

New idea. Care greatly about the things you love, and, well, the rest, parcel out your caring very carefully.

Take inventory:

What can I do?
What can I change?
Who can I touch?
How do I help?
How do I stay positive?
How to heal, both myself, and others?
Is healing even possible? 

Are we all in a sense "Doctors" to and for Humanity?

The Hippocratic Oath: “I swear by Apollo the physician, by Aesculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment the following oath: To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone, the precepts and the instruction. I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the diseaseis manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners (specialists in this art). In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction, and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or outside of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal. If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.”

The a.m. soundtrack - Bill Fay's "Life is People."  (2012) - I think of this record as an obscure gem. A friend tipped me to this one. It is a healing record. Powerful. Spiritual. Even some of the titles will give you a clue: "The Healing Day," "City of Dreams" "Be At Peace with Yourself." There is also a fabulous cover of a Jeff Tweedy & Jay Bennet's "Jesus, Etc." Fay is charismatic, he is backed by a great band, perfectly realized tracks, a gospel choir, the record is a little church service. Good medicine for the soul. A humanistic manifesto, with great spiritual overtones.  Love.

"The Cosmic Concerto (Life is People)"
There are miracles,
In the strangest of places
There are miracles,
Everywhere you go
I see fathers,
Hold a little child's hand
I see mothers,
Holding a little child's hand
I see trees, trees,
Blowing in the wind
I see seeds,
Being sown by the wind
It's a cosmic concerto, and it stirs my soul
I see grandmas,
Blowing kisses into a pram
I see grandpas,
Scratching their head in amazement
It's a cosmic concerto, and it stirs my soul
It's a cosmic concerto, and it stirs my soul
Like my old dad said,
Life is people, life is people
In the space of a human face,
There's infinite variation
It's a cosmic concerto, and it stirs my soul
It's a cosmic concerto, and it stirs my soul
Like my old dad said,
Life is people, life is people
In the space of a human face,
There's infinite variation
Life is people, life is people, life is people
Life is people, life is people, life is people
Life is people

Bill Fay

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Scary Fascist Vs. Scary Socialist.

Let's get this out of the way...

If the election is going to be a contest between a Scary Fascist vs. a Scary Socialist, put me in the Scary Socialist camp.

I am not afraid of Medicare for All. Or Free College for All. Or better, more robust Social Programs. I don't worry about tackling Climate Change head on. I don't worry about my government working to help the poor and working families. I don't worry about a wealth tax, or trying to close the gap between the filthy rich and the rest of us.

In fact, of course, I actually believe all that is good and necessary.

We are in the midst of a Existential Crisis of Governmental proportions. Our Democracy is under attack. It would take too long to list all the problems, outrages and bad deeds (for instance: caging immigrant children, ripping them from their families), of the current administration. Let's just say, the White Nationalists, the Ugly Fascists are on the rise. Ugly.

We must make sure they fall, they fail, epically on Election Day 2020. Yes. No doubt. Blue Wave 2020.

I hope, pray, and visualize it! Let it be so...

The a.m. soundtrack - "Junun"  (2015). Intense, beautiful. A two CD set. Disc one is playing at the moment. A brilliant collaboration: Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur, Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead), Nigel Goodrich (long-time Radiohead producer), and the Rajasthan Express. A glorious horn section, married to powerful percussion, ethereal vocals (male & female), Johnny Greenwood's guitar and computer soundscapes. It was all recorded at Mehrangarth Fort in Rajasthan, India. Paul Thomas Anderson filmed it all. The film is magnificent too. I wrote about the film here. The music just washes over you. I have no idea what the vocalists are singing about. It seems profound and important. Beautiful.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Authors of Our Own Existence.

Monday Morning.

This is usually the time reserved for an existential crisis. You know, time for the eternal questions: 

Who Am I? 
Where Am I Going? 
What Is It All About? 

We live on a spinning planet, a moving target. Turns out we are moving targets too. Life is change. Nothing lasts, any answers we come up with really are up to us.

As Philip K. Dick once wrote (if I recall correctly, which is dicey in itself): "You are the Authority."

We are the Authors of our own existence. We make it up moment by moment.  It's a bit scary, but maybe liberating too.  

Crisis? Yes. What crisis?!

David Bowie: "Where the fuck did Monday go?!"

The a.m. soundtrack - David Bowie's "Blackstar." (2016). Bowie's 25th and last record. I do believe it's his masterpiece album. Recorded with a fabulous Jazz Quintet led by saxophonist Donny McCaslin. Stunningly, shockingly great. Bowie was ill, getting treatments for cancer during recording sessions. He knew he was facing death. Mortality, sickness, thoughts of saying goodbye to the things we all love in the world, fading away into the great unknown, hanging over the record. It's  a dark, beautiful, powerful, soulful and blazingly original statement. How does an artist confront death? By doing his work. Doing the good work. Putting himself completely into the act of creation. Creating masterful, fully-realized music. It was produced by his long-time collaborator Tony Visconti. Gorgeous sound. Rich, lush, layered. It's playing right now on my little Bose Music System, and the fullness of sound fills the room, takes your breath away. Every track... shockingly, stunningly fabulous.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Reading Fiction. I Recommend It.

Reading. Reading fiction. I recommend it. I used to do it almost exclusively when I was young.  Then later in life, I gravitated to "non-fiction," histories, biographies. I also got totally obsessed reading books on music and music-makers. Lately, I am back to fiction. There is something extraordinary and uncommon about a good novel. It is an art-form unlike any other.

I am reading Marlon James' masterful "A Brief History of Seven Killings," (the spirit of the great music-maker Bob Marley hovers over the story). Before that I disappeared into Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov." Crazy, agrarian, pre-communist Russia. Mad emotion unbound. Time-tripping, indeed.

The best novels take you to other worlds, you inhabit other human beings. You live in other minds. It is so refreshing. Humanizing. It's best to sink into and experience human beings who are foreign to yourself. Expansive. Opens your head, your heart, your spirit. Bathing in other conscious beings.

You learn. You experience. You change. The process changes you. Art working on you on a very intimate, all-consuming, enveloping level. Subtle & powerful.

The a.m. soundtrack - The "Before Night Falls"  film soundtrack. (2000). A great film by Julian Schnabel. Our first introduction to the amazing Javier Bardem. What a tremendous actor. A beautiful, heart-breaking film, based on an autobiography by the Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. The soundtrack is a compilation of 60's Cuban music with some original orchestral music from Carter Burwell. Gorgeous. Other-worldly. It all rises to a heart-swelling climax. You inhabit a time and place that no longer exists. Except, of course, in the grooves, in our hearts, heads, souls.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Floating. Adrift.

Floating.

Adrift.

Sort of fell into a zone of expectation.

Not sure what's happening.

Alive. Aware. Awake.

That's about it.

Let's see what turns up today.

The a.m. soundtrack - Harry Nilsson's "Nilsson Sings Newman."  (1970). An uncommon gem. Two incomparable singers and songwriters - Nilsson and Newman. Harry's voice always makes me sad, even when he's singing a funny song. I mean what an amazing voice. An original. Unique talent. Under-rated/under-appreciated. Harry's voices embodies so much emotion & beauty. Heart.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Reading is a Superpower!

Reading is a super-power. The human imagination, another super-power.

Sub-zero freeze here. But who gives a damn? I'm time-traveling and head-tripping.

The last week or so, I have been living in Jamaica 1976. Reading Marlon James' fabulous novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings." (2014). I am nearly 200 pages into the novel (total pages 688), and already, I am hoping it never ends. The story is told by 75 different characters. Amazing book. "The Singer" (Bob Marley) hovers over the whole thing, the early action all revolves around him too.

It wasn't long ago I was buried in Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov." (1879-1880). I lived and breathed crazy, emotional, irrational Russians, day by day.

From old-world rural Russia to concrete jungle, urban Jamaica in few leaps of the page.

It's funny, I do feel super-empowered. Hell, a hefty tome, an over-stuffed novel, a long, rambling narrative? No problem. I mean,  over the years I've read Melville's "Moby Dick" (1851) twice, and I even tackled David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" (1996). I read every page of Jest, 1079 pages. I read every damn footnote too.

I do not feel intimidated by a fat book at all. Super-power, indeed.

The A.M. soundtrack - The Rolling Stones' "Goats Head Soup" (1973). Some folks over-look this one. It's actually a fabulous record. I highly recommend the 1994 CD Virgin remaster by Bob Ludwig. Sounds tremendous. One of the best sounding Stones records ever recorded. Primarily recorded in Kingston, Jamaica. The drug-ravaged, tax-exiled band chilling out on the island. Keith Richards deep into his heroin addiction. Supposedly the legendary Producer Jimmy Miller was strung-out too, nodding out often during the sessions, cutting Nazi symbols into the recording console. Keith perks up enough to deliver one of his greatest songs: "Coming Down Again." Mick Taylor plays some of his finest lead lines. Jagger also has fabulous moments especially "100 Years Ago," and "Winter." The ballads stand out as the best songs, but I do like the rockers too. Maybe only the last song seems a bit "trying too hard." "Star-fucker," hah! Debauched, decadent r&r. Murky. Druggy. I believe this one definitely stands up to their other classic albums, (Beggars' Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street). Quite a string of masterpiece r&r albums.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

On the Other Hand, Still Breathing...

I hang with a crowd that's worried, confused, gun-shy. People have been pummeled by bad news, unwelcome surprises. Lots of disruption and uncertainty. There is almost a certain paralysis of the brain. Folks just don't know what to think or do. Maybe try prayer?

Welcome to the Terror-Dome.

I do my best to stay positive. It's not easy. I fall back on my old tricks: meditate, read books, listen to music, play music, write music, write in this little blog, drink lots of coffee, eat well, sleep well, walk the neighborhood, try to keep my wits and sense of humor. Oh yeah, and praying too. I pray to the Great Cosmic Giggle.

I do try to keep up with "what's happening." Which is kind of deadly for the spirit. Most of the news bubbling up into my consciousness is pretty bleak and disturbing. So I do a lot of mental jujitsu. Sure, things are going to hell in a hand-basket, but on the other hand, still breathing.

A global pandemic. A rogue Monster President destroying everything he touches. A lawless, corrupt and corrupting U.S. Attorney General. Puts me in mind of Nixon's AG John Mitchell. He did end up in jail. Is William Barr following in his footsteps? One can hope that justice will come to the bad actors. What else? A snowstorm coming. Bitter cold in the heartland.

Yikes!

The A.M. soundtrack - Explosions in the Sky "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone" (2007). A band from Austin, Texas. Instrumental. No words. Refreshing. No. Words. Moody, r&r. Guitars. Lots of electric guitar. Yes. Guitars. Shimmering. Music that puts me in mind of expansive horizons. Rolling thunder. Meteors crashing. Silence. Noise. Thrilling. Satisfying. No. Words.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Slime and Corruption Oozing from the White House.

The slime and the corruption continues in USA. The President is an amorphous blob of toxic goo. He oozes into every nook and cranny of our lives. I think he is an aberration, a mutant viral infection. I mean, he is toxic and dangerous. A global-pandemic, swamping the one spiraling out of China.

Still, happy to say, the anti-bodies are forming. I do think we will rise together and dispose of this diseased human being and his toxic-waste trail, in November 2020. I do hold out great hope that he and members of his administration will be held accountable. Prison terms for some of them seem perfectly appropriate. Orange suit for the Toxic Orange One.

I can see a complete house-cleaning coming. I mean, I still harbor a "fierce hope" for humans, for USA, for Democracy, for the planet. But in the meantime, lots of ugliness. I do think there is a vast middle. Much of our politics is being pushed to extremes, but most of us are trying to be level-headed, rational, common-sensical.

I think/hope/dream that cooler heads will prevail. But then again, what do I know? The planet is heating up. Maybe all of our brains are being fried in the process? What will humans do when push comes to shove?

The A.M. Soundtrack? Beck's "Sea Change."  (2002). A cool masterpiece. Acoustic guitars and lush, powerful orchestrations. Music that sits lightly on the day. A bit melancholy, a darker shade of beauty. Maybe reminds a bit of the legendary Nick Drake. My friend tells me she hears a bit of Gordon Lightfoot too. Yes. That's good. Beck is sort of a chameleon. He is is not who you think he is; he grew up hard in a tough, low-down, dangerous neighborhood. He was a marginal kid on the margins. Not a child of white privilege. He hid out in the library. Pretty much a self-taught human being. The more you know and read about Beck, the more of an interesting character he becomes. "I'm a loser, baby, why don't you kill me?!" Maybe that line was never as ironic as we thought. I highly recommend this profile of Beck in the New Yorker. "Sea Change" is a great record. Helps one chill. And right now, we could all use a little bit of a chill-down.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

America What Drugs are You On Today?

America what drugs are you on today?

This a.m. I hear on the radio that the North and East is wracked with opioid addiction, and in the West it's all about methamphetamine (and guns, a deadly combo). Plus of course, everywhere, alcohol flows like water through every little burg and town in the land. And don't forget pot. Medicinal, and recreational.

And then there are the countless pharmaceuticals that doctors prescribe for every malady, real and imagined. Drugs. They are legion. We are all hopped up on something for sure.

There's also chocolate (sugar), fast food (fat & salt & sugar), and my favorite poison, coffee (caffeine is both my religion & savior).

One thing America can agree on, we love our drugs. The drug war is a scourge, a plague that pushes the whole thing in a deadly, punishing, and counter-productive direction. The narcos just love that we've made a class of drugs illegal. Good for a thriving black market. Empowers the narcos and gangs. Good for prices. The money flows, the drugs flow. And everything is copacetic.

Should we all blame Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg and those other Drug Utopians? Or was it all inevitable, with no one to blame, except maybe just the human condition? People just don't want to confront too much cold reality.

America what drugs are you on today?

What is the a.m. soundtrack? The Incredible String Band's "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" (1968). Take one listen to the these original British Freak-Folk and the first question that comes to mind: "What drugs are these people on?" Trippy. Acoustic. To my ears a bit of Monty Python mixed with a dash of Syd Barrett &  a drop of Robin Hitchcock. Were they all on psychedelics, living in mud huts in the forest? A utopian, Manson family? Weird shit.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Only Give a Shit About the Important things, like the people & things you Love!

This seems important and of the moment.

Worth a read. An "Asshole Survival Guide." How to navigate in a world of Assholes? I am thinking of a prominent orange a-hole we all know, but really aren't the assholes a scourge and plague amongst us?

I mean, they are legion.  I like this: "Not giving a shit takes the wind out of an asshole's sails."

Not giving a shit. Maybe only give a shit about the important things, like the people & the things you Love!

The A.M. Soundtrack - Luluc's "Sculptor." (2018). I was slow to come around to this one. My friend loved it from the first listening. I found it hard to get a handle on. It's almost too beautiful. I thought it was insubstantial. I now think I was wrong. Repeat listening pays off. I do understand. Gorgeous. A Hushed Beauty. There's substance to the lightness of touch, the grace of the voice and note. A passing cirrus cloud. A slight, gentle warming breeze. A smile. A flower. A rich perfumed scent. A life-affirming breath. Perfectly-realized. A simple, kind, act of grace. Something to love.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

The Mad, Hurly-Burly River of Thoughts!

Get out of your head.

That is a strategy for coping. Meditation helps. Which is weird, because you are basically sitting quietly, focusing your mind. There a few handy techniques: picture a scene, repeat a mantra, or a short prayer, concentrate on each breath, still the mad hurly-burly river of thoughts raging inside your crazy-making head.

Remember you are more than your thoughts, your feelings, your body. Sometimes, it's easy to forget. You get carried away, lost, sort of like drowning in a sea of your own conjuring.

Last night I had a weird panic-attack. Funny. A day of rest, a day where I really had nowhere to go, led to an uncommon, and strange attack of panic just before going to sleep.

I had spent most of the day working on new songs. One of my favorite things in the world to do. New lyrics, new riffs, new chord progressions. Finding rhythms & melodies. But the day was a drift. I mean, I was adrift. That's probably when we are most vulnerable, when we are at the whim of the moment, the day. No telling where you will go.

Of course, that's also an opportunity. You get to choose new paths, grab onto new ideas. Create new realities.

Anyway, the panic passed. I sat up in bed. Concentrated on my breathing. One breath, one breath, one breath. Cleared my head. Found a calm center and then had a nice, long, restful sleep. That "under siege" feeling seems to have passed. Clear head, clear breathing this morning.

What is the A.M. soundtrack? The National's "The Boxer." (2007). A great American band. A fabulous record. The first piano notes of the first song on this record grab you. "Fake Empire" is one of the anthems of the 2000's. Matt Berninger has a unique, soothing, baritone voice. It sounds "reassuring," it's seductive, but his lyrics always take you to unexpected places. I mean he is a superb lyricist, always surprising, sometimes he takes you to very dark & twisted alleyways. He is a man with a raging, contradictory tornado inside. He sounds like a man grounded, but he is actually a man awhirl. We own a bunch of the National's discography. Every record is exceptional. The band is tremendous. Bryan Devendorf is one of the great drummers. No cliches. Everything well-executed, layered, songs often build to satisfying crescendos. Surprising. Shimmering production. Great stuff. No doubt. Oh yeah, of course, we all do live in a Fake Empire. Half-awake. Didn't you know?!

Stay out super late tonight picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
We're half awake in a fake empire
We're half awake in a fake empire

Tiptoe through our shiny city with our diamond slippers on
Do our gay ballet on ice, bluebirds on our shoulders
We're half awake in a fake empire
We're half awake in a fake empire

Turn the light out say goodnight, no thinking for a little while
Let's not try to figure out everything at once
It's hard to keep track of you falling through the sky
We're half awake in a fake empire

We're half awake in a fake empire

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Damn those Flying Monkeys!

We call it Saturday. It's just another day in a long string of them. That long string is my life, your's too. This is a rare Saturday where I have nothing on the schedule. Absolutely nothing. Nowhere to go, no one to see, nothing to do.

It's a bit disorienting.

Usually, even on a day like this, I usually have "things to do." Places to go. So, maybe I will I decide to enjoy it, I don't know, or just drift. Breathe in, breathe out. No needing, wanting, grasping today. Just being. In the moment. See what turns up.

I still don't know what to think (see previous post), lately, I have this feeling of being in state of siege. A weird feeling of being overwhelmed by events in the news, and in my personal life. You know, I lost a good buddy earlier in the week, and really, it was like being hit with a house. One minute walking around feeling ok, then brought down low, like that bad witch in that old Judy Garland movie.

It isn't Kansas any more. It's all gotten a bit sad and surreal. And frankly things don't look so good. You know thinking about the bigger trends. I do hope things will work out, but, you know... who really knows? When do the flying monkeys make their entrance?

The A.M soundtrack? Sigur Ros "Agaetis byrun" (1999). I dare say, my favorite album. I mean, I have lots of favorites, and maybe they change with the whims and breezes of the day. I have my enthusiasms and I can be easily carried away. I don't know. I discovered this one a year or two after it came out. I have probably listened to it more than any other record from the 2000's - to Now. I used to fly from Chicago to L.A. often, and during flights, I would always listen to this record on infinite repeat, and the white one too "()" (2002). They are both majestic. Instrumental music, with an ethereal voice singing in a foreign tongue. I have no idea what the words are supposed to mean, and really it's doesn't matter. The music is beautiful, overwhelming, transporting. I have had some amazing, and powerful meditations listening to Sigur Ros. Some powerful insights which I can't reduce to words either. I also used some of their music in theatrical presentations over the years. This music always, always affects me madly, deeply, profoundly. I do believe it is my church music. Sacred. Emotional rescue. Life-affirming. Damn those flying monkeys.

Friday, February 07, 2020

What's Important?

A bit off-track this morning...

We are calling it "Existential Crisis Friday" around here. Usually the "E" Crisis comes on a Monday, but hell, why not get a jump on it a bit early?

What's important? Can I trust my senses five (and more)?

Can I trust...

What I see?
What I hear?
What I touch?
What I taste?
What I smell?

And what about my sense of space, etc?

Blasted with sensory data. Sometimes it's a bit hard to process.  I don't know what to think today.

The A.M. Soundtrack - David Johansen and the Harry Smiths. (2000). White boys singing the acoustic, country blues. Pretty chill record. Classic old American blues songs. The first time I ever saw and heard Johansen (live show), he was the lead singer of a sloppy, swaggering and swaying r&r band, wearing high heels, ratty furs, done up like a tacky hooker from New York. The whole band (The New York Dolls) looked like tough as hell, debauched dudes dressed up as the trashiest women you could imagine. These guys looked like fallen, drugged-out and sinful women who would slit your throat just for kicks. Pretty impressive. Eye-opening. Shite, can you trust your senses five? The Harry Smiths are a whole different ball of wax. Johansen sings these songs with authority, elasticity and conviction. No mascara. Songs of death, loss, sorrow; you know all that very, very human stuff. Trust me.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

What About Conscience, God & History?

Mitt Romney votes to convict Trump for "Abuse of Power."

That was surprising. 

Hell. I am one "bad Catholic" who agrees with the Mormon Senator from Utah, at least on this one issue: "Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine." - Mitt Romney

Turns out Mitt was the only persuadable Republican out of 53 members of the Senate. I do want to give old Mitt a slight "tip of the hat." I think he did the right thing, when it would be just as easy, or maybe easier to go along with the Republican "coverup." Of course, in the larger picture, it didn't matter, there were nowhere near enough votes to remove the President. 

But it is worth watching his speech. It's seems heartfelt and honest. I mean, I cannot look into the man's soul or read his mind, I can't be sure of his intentions or motives, except, maybe we should  just take the man at his word?

I mean, he tells us he struggled with the decision. He is voting against his party, a party he has been loyal to all of his life. His father too was a notable Republican. He knows he will be vilified and bullied by the President and his followers. He knows they are those kinds of folks.

Mitt tells us his decision was guided by his "Conscience," by his "God," and by "History." Big words. They almost sound false in these cynical times, but really, isn't that something we should admire, is there still belief in honor?

Someone making a decision as if it meant everything in the world. I think he did the right thing for the right reasons.  I mean, I suppose he could have done the right thing for the wrong reasons, but ultimately don't we have to acknowledge that no matter how he came to his decision he did the right thing? A small thing. A big thing. Everything. Nothing. You decide.



A.M. Soundtrack - Jim White's "The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus!"  A weird-duck of a record. It's great, but odd. How odd? Well, it is supposedly based on a true story. So, I'd say "true-story odd." The record is dreamy, lyrical, word-rich, beautifully played and produced. Nothing else like it. The cd booklet includes the full story. I think I need to go back and read it. It's sort like a Flannery O'Connor short story. I forget lots of the details. Safe to say it's a weird-ass, American tale. This record is probably out of print, hard to find, but worth tracking down.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Sticking to Facts and Truth.

Yes. Personally, I am working hard on sticking to the facts and the truth. It's not easy. Nancy Pelosi's simple act of defiance, ripping up Little Baby Man's State of the Union speech last night was a beautiful moment.

"The manifesto of mistruths presented in page after page of the address tonight should be a call to action for everyone who expects truth from the President and policies worthy of his office and the American people." - Nancy Pelosi

It's gonna get crazy around here. Looks like the Senate will vote to acquit Little Baby Man today. I wonder, will even one Republican break ranks and defy this corrupt, authoritarian, lying scumbag administration?

Probably not. Still, no matter what, this President has been Impeached, for life.

I am not a worrier. But I worry a bit about my fellow Progressives too. Everyone seems so sensitive, conspiracy-minded. There's a lot of hyper-active hurly-burly, huffing and puffing and hyper-ventilating.

I recommend deep breathing and silence. Go for a long walk. One step, one step. Keep your feet on the ground, keep your head, keep your cool. We need to keep it together people.

A.M. Soundtrack - Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left." (1969). A "lost masterpiece." I mean, when it was released in 1969 it pretty much sank without a trace. I didn't "discover" the record until the 1990's. It's a stunner. A hushed and beautiful record. Drake is a brilliant singer and guitar player. He's playing alternate tunings, and singing in a darker register. Shimmering. Breath-taking. Moody. Reflective. He recorded most of these tracks live in the studio accompanied by a full orchestra. Produced by the great Joe Boyd. Just totally fabulous. The truth.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Goodbye Old Friend.

I entered the house, standing in the kitchen. Somehow, last evening, my little furry, four-legged buddy (see two previous posts) had made it upstairs, two flights, all by himself. He had slept upstairs with his owner. He was still alive, hanging by a thread. His breathing had gotten more labored, more shallow.

I called his name. He heard my voice. He perked up, carried himself to the top of the stairs, and waited for me.  He was so thin, you could see the bones of his back, his ribs, the crown of his head poking through. Five days with no food. Only a few sips of water. Unexpectedly I thought of the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia used to sing at the Acid Tests in 1967 - "Death don't have no mercy." You wonder how those young acid heads in San Francisco took in that message.

I picked him up, carried him downstairs, put him on a little cushion. Every one of his breaths came hard. The owner and I talked a bit. We marveled at our little buddy's will to live. The determination to make it. But we both knew the end was very, very near. Nothing we could do. Helpless in the face of death. No mercy, indeed.

The owner had made an appointment at noon. The clock ticked down. The idea was to ease his transition. I put my hands on my little buddy's head, (his crown chakra) and silently mouthed a little prayer, wishing him safe passage to the other side. He looked at me with big, brown eyes. Silent. Always so silent. No whimpers. Nothing except his shallow breaths.

I picked up him and took him to the large, gray, Ford Explorer. A perfect vehicle for liftoff, transcendence. We looked at each other. His eyes locked on mine. I nodded, smiled, and closed the door. Goodbye old friend.

The A.M. Soundtrack - Patti Griffen's "American Kid." (2013). A gorgeous, acoustic guitar-based masterpiece. Griffen's "tribute to her late father." A superb collection of songs, every one heart-felt, powerful, beautiful, sad. Cody & Luther Dickenson (sons of the late great, legendary Jim Dickenson - remember the Rolling Stones "Wild Horses," Jim D. played the tack piano on that classic song) provide fabulous accompaniment.  A perfectly played and sung album. One of the finest records ever recorded, every time I listen to it I am inspired and shattered, in a good way.
God is a wild old dog
Someone left out on the highway
I seen him running by me
He don't belong to no one now

Dropped him out on 93
Mange was setting in on his hips and on his knees
Between the highways running north and south
We pulled on over and we put him out

Willie said he was old and going blind
Momma told me how she didn't mind
When Willie kicked him with his shoe
He just climbed on in just like he knew

God is a wild old dog
Someone left out on the highway
I seen him running by me
He don't belong to no one now

It's lonely on the highway
Sometimes a heart can turn to dust
Get whittled down to nothing
Broken down and crushed
In with the bones of
Wild old dogs
Wild old dogs

Dropped him out on 93
Tall grass was waving there just like the sea
He tore off running like we set him free
Just disappeared right in front of me

God is a wild old dog
Someone left out on the highway
I seen him running by me
He don't belong to no one now
He don't belong to no one now

Patti Griffen

Monday, February 03, 2020

Every Moment was Radiant & Full.

The owner made it home last night (see previous post). My little furry, four-legged friend was still (barely) with the living. Hanging by a thread.

I am "off the ranch" this morning, back at my own place. Yesterday, was a long day. It was like I was living and dying with every breath from my little friend, the poor guy was laboring to breathe. Each breath seemed like an effort of will.

The will to live is strong. Despite cancer, despite weakness, despite no ability to take in and hold down food. It was a sunny beautiful day. My furry friend made it out to the backyard a few times. I was surprised he had enough strength to stand up, to walk to the door, to go down the stairs into the yard. It all seemed impossible.

We sat in the back yard together. Snow was melting. The blazing sun provided a surprising warmth. Nearly 50 degrees on a February afternoon. Uncommon. Welcome. Blue skies, a mild breeze, patches of snow, patches of green, trees swaying. Life.

My friend sat in the snow. Cooling down his body. Everything seemed so illuminated, definitive, important. Each action. Knowing that each step, each breath could be the last; time slowed down. Every moment was radiant and full.

I don't know if he made it to this morning. I hope to hear one way or the other a bit later today. I am exhausted. Stunned. I had a difficult night sleeping. Lots of tossing and turning. I had a vivid dream that my buddy died. This morning I am hollow. Quiet. Waiting.

A.M. Soundtrack - "Ethiopiques - Volume 4" - Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, (1969-1974). First heard this one in Jim Jarmusch's film with Bill Murray "Broken Flowers." (2005). Gorgeous. Moody. Swings a bit, a loose, easy vibe. Music for the Silent Witnesses.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Helpless.

Silent witness.

It's a sunny Sunday morning. My good buddy, a furry, four-legged friend is slowly fading away. His body is wracked with cancer. He has stopped eating. He is weak, so very weak. I am on death watch. Waiting for his owner to return later today. Hoping that my little buddy can hang on to say his goodbyes.

What to say? Helpless in the face of death.

What is the a.m. soundtrack? Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Skeleton Tree." (2016). Sad. Beautiful. Majestic. Deep sadness and certain death hang over this record. A dark masterpiece. The finest art. Makes you happy to be alive, even if being alive means heart-breaking sadness.

It is going to be a long day. It's already been a long morning.

So a 2nd album for the soundtrack this a.m. is already playing on the stereo. Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night." (1975). Neil's dark ode to death and drug psychosis, drug deals gone bad, murder, overdoses, and a "celebration" of all-around bad behavior. It is exquisite. Recorded in the dark of night, fueled by drugs and tequila. Produced by the Dark Knight of  R&R, David Briggs - "Be great or be gone." Over the years, I have played this one so often, I have gone thru multiple copies both on vinyl and cd. Fucking essential.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Worse than a Proctology Exam!

Ha. After a week of thunder and fury, the Senate has decided the truth is best left untouched, unheard, unseen. I do think this will be a historic blunder that will come back to haunt those who voted for a coverup. The Republican Party is completely corrupted and slimed by our Little Baby Man President. His influence is toxic. A plague. A poisonous goo. Eats your brains, destroys your common sense and moral compass. At least we all know. It is all written down and displayed for all to see.

I mean, I suppose this was not a surprise. You could see this coming. It wasn't unimaginable. Still it is stunning. To watch intelligent, accomplished folks, people who made it to a position of power and influence, sitting in very special privileged club, the U.S. Senate, supposedly representative of the American people, 100 folks with a super-cushy job, just totally abdicating any responsibility to truth, justice and the American way. Where is Superman when you need him? The hypocrisy, the cowardice, the bad faith on display is a real horror-show. Welcome to America 2020.

We have been "Trumped." It is worse than a proctology exam. It is worse than driving a spike into your forehead. It is worse than Ebola. Half the country seems Zombified with stupidity & corruption. Yikes.

What is the a.m. soundtrack? Bob Dylan's much-maligned "Shot of Love." (1981). When it was released, the critics savaged it, the public pretty much ignored it. It was the third album in Dylan's "Christian trilogy." Folks did not want to hear it. I was one of those folks. I was a major Dylan fan who wasn't interested in hearing Sunday School sermonizing. Guess what? I was wrong. Everyone was wrong. This is a fabulous, essential record. It's loose, funky, brilliant. Most of these tracks were live "monitor mixes." They capture a wild-ness, an alive-ness, a sloppiness, that's thrilling. The lyrics, the voice, the band, just superb. Best to play it loud. Some of the best Dylan tracks ever recorded: Shot of Love, Groom Still Standing at the Altar, Every Grain of Sand, Summertime. Dylan is on fire. Yes, I do believe. He was fired up by the Holy Ghost. Dylan as fiery Prophet. Ok. Maybe Dylan's tribute to Lenny Bruce is a lame song , but hell, it's Dylan, man. Good medicine for the soul.

Friday, January 31, 2020

There is Always A War...

"If we've not heard from witnesses and if we've not received documents, don't anyone walk away talking about acquittal because there's no true acquittal if there's not been a fair trial." - Kamala Harris, Democratic Senator from California

Right. No acquittal. Instead, a blatantly shameless coverup.

Sometimes you fight. Maybe you do it reluctantly, maybe as a last resort, maybe you do it for entertainment or sport. There are some fights you can't avoid. There are existential contests. Battles of will, battles of ideas. Yes, we are all human beings first, but we can always easily divide up based on sex, wealth, social position, class, religion, race, nationality, political party, philosophical ideas, or just plain ornery feelings. There are so many reasons to divide and stand in opposition to each other.

Sometimes you have to fight even though you know you will lose. You lose the day. But maybe win the future?

Look to history and it's plain as day. People like to pick sides. They will gather together and fight to the death over all kinds of things. Power. Human Beings who acquire Power typically want to display it, they want to use it. Which usually means they end up lording it over the ones without Power.

Listening to day #2 of the Q&A at the Impeachment Trial, you realize there is an epic struggle between two sides, two ideas, two world-views. This one is simple Democrats vs Republicans. I of course, am not a unbiased observer. I see that the Democrats have all the facts, all the evidence, all the documents and depositions, all the common sense and righteous feeling on their side. They are standing for the U.S Constitution, for Democracy and for the Rule of Law. "No Man is Above the Law." And "The President is Not a Monarch."

And what of the Republicans? They seem so cowardly. So anti-reason. So anti-Democratic. They throw sand in our eyes. They try to confuse us. They make cogent-sounding arguments, about process and legalese, but in reality, it's all smoke and mirrors. Their arguments are quite scary. They tell us this President can do no wrong, cannot be held to account, Trump truly is above the law. 53 Republicans. They have the power to deny, to cover-up. And most assuredly, they will.

On the one hand it's disheartening. How can the other side not listen to and not see the plain truth? On the other hand, it's clear that they are lost and must be defeated. Their opposition to reason and truth and the meaning of our Constitution and the rule of law, must not be forgotten. Luckily November 2020 is coming soon. A reckoning is surely coming.

What is the a.m. soundtrack? U2's "War." (1993) This is the first U2 record I ever owned. Over the years many formats: vinyl, cassette & cd. Powerful, hard-hitting, unlike most of their other output. This is the sound and band I first fell in love with, well before the apotheosis of Joshua Tree. This is the early incarnation of U2. They had not tasted unbelievable wealth and fame yet. War is the theme. As they say the band "turned pacifism itself into a crusade." Reagan in the U.S. was rattling the saber, deploying missiles in Europe. The Soviet Union was still an epic empire. The Berlin Wall was up dividing East & West. That Wall looked eternal. In Ireland Catholics and Protestants were killing each other with a determined, random terror & viciousness. This record is always relevant. There is always a War going on somewhere on this little Blue Planet. Human Beings just can't get it together. "I will sing a new song... how long to sing this song..."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

American Fascist!

Impeachment Q&A. Ok. I am a nerd. No doubt. I am a long-time political nerd. I actually enjoyed listening to the Q&A in the Senate yesterday. 93 questions were asked by Senators (both Republican & Democrat), read by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, submitted to the House Impeachment Managers and the White House Defense Team. I didn't listen to the whole thing, I caught it intermittently, throughout the day and early evening.

It is a heavy-duty thing. We are watching our Constitutional Democracy in action.

I think there are some real heroes and villains in this saga. Adam Schiff House Manager from California has emerged as an American hero. A brilliant mind. He knows his subject, and all it's details, intimately. He argues his case with a grace, an ease and authority. Once in awhile there's also a flash of emotion and humor. I didn't realize how capable the man was, very, very impressive.

Actually the House Managers are all quite good. I especially enjoyed listening to Jason Crow, Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings and Hakeem Jefferies. I am not a fan of Jerry Nadler. It's not so much his arguments, he is right on the facts, it's really his presentation. He's comes across a bit hostile, testy, heavy-handed. Not sure he is very effective, especially if he wants to win the other side over.

The other side? The White House Defense Team? Yikes. They do have an impossible hand. I mean, it's a real shit-sandwich. They are defending the indefensible. Their lead "constitutional expert" is actually a criminal defense lawyer, Alan Dershowitz. He makes his living defending folks who are clearly guilty. He has represented some real monsters. That is how he has made his reputation. He made some ridiculous and bizarre arguments. Arguments that defy common-sense. I mean laugh-out-loud stupid. He is smooth, sounds coherent, but the shit coming from his mouth is pure gobbley-gook.

The rest of the team? Their voices do make my skin crawl. They sound so sensible, so reasonable. Until you parse what they are saying. Pretty much their arguments can be summed as: Our President, can do no wrong. He is Above the Law. He is a grade-A genuine, American Monarch.

Yes. It's true, this is Fascism. Dressed up in sweet words, and bespoke suits. Plain and simple. Scary.

My favorite moment yesterday? Bernie Sanders question. It was brilliant to make Chief Justice Roberts read these words out-loud to 100 Senators, and the wider world: "Given the media has documented President Donald Trump's thousands of lies while in office, more than 16,200 as of January 20th, why should we be expected to believe that anything president Trump says has credibility?"

Ha, ha, ha. That was a good one.

What's the a.m. soundtrack? It's Billy Bragg and Wilco's "Mermaid Avenue." (1998) Woody Guthrie's (a great American Hero), lyrics - forgotten, left for dead in old, dusty notebooks, newly excavated lyrics, brought to life and married to new music and arrangements. Wilco at their loosest, sloppiest, best. Effortless. Sounds like Jeff Tweedy and company are having an absolute r&r blast. An American party. I do think Jeff was liberated by working with Woody's words. It got him out of his own head. Billy Bragg is great too. Natalie Merchant also makes a beautiful, inspiring appearance too. So many great tracks: California Stars, One by One, Ingrid Bergman, and the morning-appropriate: Christ for President! A must-own record.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

"Fuck Your Speakers" - Sturgill Simpson


A.M. Soundtrack - I just immediately went to music this morning.

A long, refreshing sleep. That doesn't happen often around here. I usually wake with a start. Often feeling under siege. Not this morning. Slept like a baby. Maybe reading "The Brothers Karamazov" before falling asleep helped? That fine novel, really is fine. It took awhile for me to synch to it, but now 700 pages into it, I am totally won over. A big, sloppy, polyphonic novel. Many voices, many moods, those "crazy Russians." So human. The novel actually seems perfectly of the moment. Spirituality/Sociology/Psychology/Politics mashed up into these very, very flawed and excitable, depraved, debauched and contradictory human beings.

So, yes, to the soundtrack - Sturgill Simpson's "Sound and Fury." (2019). An atomic bomb of a record. Mushroom cloud and Mustang motor vehicle from hell on the cover. It's the soundtrack to an anime film by Junpei Mizusaki. I haven't seen the film yet. Simpson is a trip. He's made 4 records. We own the last three records to Sturgill's credit. All three offer very different moods and colors. All three albums absolutely astonishing. Simpson sounds a bit like Waylon Jennings, but think of an over-the-top, Outlaw Cowpoke Waylon hyped-up on amphetamines, magic mushrooms and acid. Pissed-off. Brimming over with energy, emotion and intelligence. This one has synthesizers and heavy metal guitars. Heavy. Slaps you up the head. Really. Written on the back cover of the cd booklet in bold letters: "Fuck Your Speakers." Yes. Turn it up loud! Sound and Fury, indeed.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Let Mr. Mustache Sing!

"The Truth will out."

That's the hope. But sometimes (maybe often), you need to have an "agent" who cares about the Truth first. Someone willing to work to find out the Truth. Someone who will fight for the Truth. Someone willing to face the Truth. Someone to look at the facts & the evidence with clear consciousness.

Truth. Sometimes it doesn't come easy. Just ask Oedipus. Life is a tangled web.

Let Michael Bolton sing! Oh, wait, I mean... you know... the Mustache. Let the Mustache sing! "Et Tu" Mr. Mustache (John Bolton). A nicely timed dagger for Little Baby Man.

Yes, it turns out John Bolton wrote a book and in this book he pretty much demolishes Little Baby Man's defense. "He wondered at times if Trump was acting in America's best interest or if he was inspired by nefarious reasons, according to a person familiar with the book..." Ha, ha, ha. Very funny. A little monkey-wrench in the grand coverup.

It will be interesting to watch 53 Republican Senators squirm. How do they extricate themselves out of this pickle? What sand will they throw in our eyes? How will they continue the pretense? How do they look themselves in the mirror?

What hoops must they jump through to avoid the truth? How will they deny Mr. Mustache the opportunity to testify at the Impeachment trial? This is getting quite entertaining.

What a sordid saga of corruption. Yes, well, I do think "the truth will out." It's an ugly story. But, best to get it out into the light of day. Let's expose all the ugly details. Yes. We can handle the truth. It's the only way to keep everyone honest. Is that even possible in this world of dishonesty?

The a.m. soundtrack is such an obvious choice - U2's "Joshua Tree." (1987). A monster record. Sold an ungodly number of copies. So ubiquitous. Every track radio-friendly. It's almost a cliche now. I mean it's almost a cliche to even listen to it. But really, it's a fabulous record. Every song works. Some songs are magisterial, majestic, sacred. It all does sound like "church music." Bono proclaims, testifies, preaches. And Edge and company back him to the hilt. This is the real deal. Truth.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Sadness of Being Human.

Kobe Bryant - 1978-2020

I did not know Kobe Bryant personally . I only knew him through his work. He was an extraordinary basketball player. One of the finest who ever played the game. Even though I am from the Midwest, and Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were "my team," I always rooted for Kobe when he played with the Lakers. If he and the Lakers played Michael and the Bulls, well, that was always a treat. Two of the best going head to head. It was always, thrilling, amazing, inspiring to watch them work. Both of them played with fierce competitiveness, but also with uncommon grace and beauty. Yes. It was a powerful, totally captivating aesthetic experience to watch Kobe and Michael play the game. Breathtaking.

The news of Kobe's tragic death has left me in a pool of tears this morning. I broke down and cried like a little baby.

I cry for the loss of life. Kobe, his daughter and 7 other people died in a helicopter crash. It's like a punch in the gut. The tears just pour and pour. It's all so sad. Incomprehensible. I cry for everyone who's ever died in a crash, anyone who has ever lost someone. I cry for everyone who has died or will ever die. It's that kind of morning.

It happens every day. That's reality. Senseless. Devastating. Heart-breaking. Actually none of these words do the job of describing the deep well of sadness that opens up. Thank you Kobe Bryant. So much joy. So much sadness. I will always remember Kobe's grace, his wonderful smile.

The soundtrack this a.m. is Sun Kil Moon's "Benji." (2014) - It's beautiful. A long meditation on death. A long cry. A vigil. A mourning. Not the the kind of record you just aimlessly put on the box. It will bring you to tears. It will open you up. Mark Kozelek is a major character. Unlike anyone else. He plays a nylon-string guitar. He has a deep voice. He sings about death, and accidents, and suicides and the sadness of being human. It's beautiful. Powerful. Recommended.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

I am Not Holding My Breath.

Impeachment Trial Day #5.

To be honest. I skipped it. I mean, I just couldn't sit in real-time listening to Trump's defense lawyers make their arguments. I'd rather drive nails into my forehead. I did listen to a summary. Pretty much what I expected. Disinformation. Alternate realities. Conspiracy theories. No attempt to prove that their client is innocent, just a patched together smoke-screen to give 53 Republican Senators an excuse to vote to acquit.

What a clusterfuck. It will be interesting to see if one Republican (maybe the Mormon?) votes to hear from witnesses and documents. I am not holding my breath.

Soundtrack this a.m.? The Beatles "Past Masters." (1988). A collection of singles from the 1960-1970, A and B sides. Essential tracks. Exuberant, creative, boundary-pushing (at the time), r&r/pop of the finest kind. You wonder how four human beings could be so creative, so forward-thinking, so open and progressive, so of the moment. Two of the greatest voices in r&r (McCartney & Lennon), three fabulous songwriters. And don't forget the 5th Beatle, Producer George Martin. Perfectly realized songs, the recordings are absolutely extraordinary, even today these tracks sound so vibrant, alive & fabulous. The Beatles were always at the forefront of the zeitgeist. One of the rare bands that was completely free and creative in everything they did, and at the same time they were always incredibly successful. They were an artistic vanguard that commanded attention. Art & Commerce merged. And don't forget the Drugs. The music also reflected the drugs they were experimenting with. The journey of the drugs: Amphetamines & Alcohol > Marijuana > LSD > (and in Lennon's case)  Heroin. Beatles = Optimism, Exuberance, Creativity, Hope, Beauty. Possibility. Still. Even this morning.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

"You Got No Time for the Messenger, You Got No Fear of the Underdog, That's Why You Will Not Survive" - Spoon

Impeachment Trial day #4.

The House Manager Impeachment Team wrapped up. Adam Schiff was my favorite. He was eloquent, persuasive, passionate. He presented the case forcefully, beautifully, he is arguing for the soul of the Country.

All the House Managers did a great job. I also liked presentations from Jason Crow and Val Demings. Quality folks. Making sense. Putting two and two together. The House Managers made a rock-solid case that Trump must be convicted and removed. They have the truth, facts and evidence on their side. You would think that would be enough, but actually they are out-gunned. How to convince 53 Republican Senators to open their minds, to consider the facts, to confront the truth, when everything tells them that they can't handle the truth?

How to convince those who refuse to be convinced? To persuade those who will not be persuaded?  It's a conundrum. Today, Trump's Defense team will make their case. We have had a preview. Expect lots of huffing and puffing. Denial and disinformation. It really is that simple. One side has the facts, the evidence, the truth. The other side has disinformation, lies and brazen bluster.

What a fucking mess.

What's the a.m. soundtrack today? Spoon's "Ga, Ga, Ga, Ga, Ga." (2007). It's the only Spoon record we own. It's a knockout. Catchy, uplifting, indie-rock, sort of power-poppy, from Austin, Texas. Smart lyrics, great r&r band. Britt Daniel has a excellent, evocative voice, he sings with verve and exuberance. My absolute favorite song is "The Underdog." Maybe the finest single in the 2000's. It's sort of my anthem. I have always, always sided with the Underdog. It's a bit of that Tom Joad thing:

“Then it don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there." - Tom Joad

The Underdog by Spoon

[Chorus 1]
You got no time for the messenger
Got no regard for the thing that you don't understand
You got no fear of the underdog
That's why you will not survive

Friday, January 24, 2020

"If Not, We are Lost." - Adam Schiff

Impeachment Trial Day #3.

Adam Schiff, Lead House Impeachment Manager - "Donald Trump must be convicted and removed from office. Because he will always choose his own personal interest over our national interest. Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost."

Yep.

How to persuade those who refuse to be persuaded? How to convince your political opponents, those who cling to lies, to disinformation, who watch Fox News and pretend that everything is fine? How to convince folks who believe their power, prestige and pay-check depend on burying their heads in the sand and refusing to see the plain truth right before their very eyes?!?

That's a hard one. The nub of the issue. It seems like an impossible task. Fighting windmills. So what to do? Speak the truth. Present the case. Hope for some kind of epiphany. But figure there is more difficult work ahead.

Stand out. Speak up. Fiercely cling to truth.

Finally, the answer may be that voters need to rise up and vote the cowardly ones out. Hope for our Democracy, our Constitution? Blue Wave 2020.

Soundtrack this a.m. is Tinariwen's "Elwan." (2017). Fabulous. Tremendous band. Tremendous sound. Breathtaking music from a distant land. Most of the record is in a language I don't understand. I do understand the groove, the gorgeous, shimmering electric guitars, the beautiful languorous, luxurious sound. A bit of the Stone's "Exile on Main Street" guitar tone, filtered thru soulful Tuareg musicians. Mark Lanegan guests on one track. The only track with lyrics in English...

"No sleepwalking
don't keep me apart
I'm through sleepwalking
been asleep too long
no more sleepwalking
keep me with you god."

Thursday, January 23, 2020

53 Republican Senators: "See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil."

Impeachment Trial Day #2.

Part 1: Adam Schiff,  Lead House Impeachment Manager, spoke for 2 hours. He presented a brilliant, cohesive, fact-laden case against the President. Reasoned. Logical. Cogent. A perfect narrative laying out a grand, corrupt scheme. It was powerful, devastating, and ultimately inspiring.  I do have to say it sounded to me like a rock-solid case. Every detail fit. Every detail was damning. Schiff laid it on the line. Our Democracy is under threat from a lawless President. We are in a real constitutional crisis. A real pickle. The only remedy is Impeachment.

Of course, word is that  the 53 Republicans in the chamber were either sleeping, slipping out into hallway doing their best to not hear, looking down at their shoes, etc. Really they just do not want to know. Here is a shot of key members of the GOP at the trial, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil."


Part 2: We took a trip to the Art Institute last night to catch the Andy Warhol show. It is an excellent show. You see the evolution of an artist, from an advertising sketch-artist, to a subversive, revolutionary artist making provocative prints, and turning ideas of art & trash upside down. A key figure in Pop. A key figure in the melding of art and commerce. An artist mashing-up Fine art, Advertising & Celebrity Culture. Give Andy some of the credit, some of the blame. Can't imagine the 60's & 70's without Warhol. It was cool to see the iconic works: Marlon Brando, Jackie O, Liz Taylor, Marilyn, Mao, Electric Chair, Mug Shots, Car Crashes, Campbell's Soup, Matchbooks, Poppies.

15 mins of fame.  We live in that totally self-absorbed, everyone is a celebrity, selfie culture today.

This image of Richard Nixon is one I've never seen before. A demonic-looking Nixon. Perfect image for Impeachment day. And the "Vote McGovern" made me think of alternate realities. What if McGovern had actually won in 1972? He lost to Nixon in a landslide. The Watergate Scandal was brewing under the surface. McGovern was a war hero, one of the finest people ever to run for President, and he lost to one of the worst humans ever to be President. You wonder how things would have been different if McGovern had won against the Dark Prince of USA politics? One can dream.


What's the a.m. soundtrack? Radiohead's "A Moon-Shaped Pool." (2016). It opens with strings, violins in violent staccato fashion, and Thom Yorke's flighty, fidgety bird-like voice. Thom often sings about the things that are disturbing him, and pretty much everything disturbs him.  "Burn the Witch:"

Stay in the shadows
Cheer at the gallows
This is a round-up

This is a low-flying panic attack
Sing the song on the jukebox that goes

[Chorus]
Burn the witch
Burn the witch
We know where you live


Thom is super-sensitive, super-intuitive. I believe he is a clear-seeing, clairvoyant. A seer and prophet. So alive. His voice is extraordinary. He is an artistic canary in a coal-mine. He's often in panic mode. Often, I have no idea what words he is singing, his tone is so seductive, so captivating, I get lost in the beauty of his voice. His voice is an very evocative instrument. But there is always meaning to be found in his lyrics. It's always worth the effort to parse the words. Yorke always casts a  captivating and enchanting spell. A key voice in our present/now dystopia.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Alternately Inspiring & Deflating.

Impeachment Trial Day #1.

They argued over witnesses and documents. The Prosecutors (The Democrats) made the case for calling witnesses and subpoenaing documents. The Defense (Little Baby Man's lawyers), pounded the table, ranted and raved, and threw hissy fits.

One side was presenting a cogent, well-reasoned case, pretty air-tight, with facts, quotes, and witness testimony. The other side yelled and screamed. Oh yeah, and lied their asses off too.

So it was alternately inspiring and deflating. Listening to Little Baby Man's lawyers was headache-inducing.

So what's the a.m. soundtrack? The Dirty Three's "Ocean Songs." (2001).  No words. Just vivid, beautiful vibrations from three extraordinary musicians. I could listen to Warren Ellis play violin all day long. Such a great band. Loose, inspiring, sort of funky, sort of disheveled. Then shimmering passages of extraordinary beauty. A stunner.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Impeachment 2020. History Doesn't Repeat, It Rhymes!


Neil Young's "On the Beach." This album cover came to mind this a.m. 1st day of Impeachment Trial 2020. It was 1974. The end of things. The 60's were definitely over. Nixon, who won in a landslide in 1972, was imploding. He famously declared at a press conference: "I am not a crook." Most of us knew he was lying, that in fact he was a crook. What is the headline on the front page of the newspaper, under the table, laying on the beach? "Senator Buckley Calls for Nixon to Resign."  Surprisingly, improbably, Nixon did.

What about 2020, and this corrupt, toxic, clownish, President? Could the same end of times scenario be playing out? Highly unlikely. But of course, some of us believe that the future is unwritten. Anything is possible. The full story has not yet been told.

I do have a long-running gentleman's bet with my local barista that 45 doesn't make it to November 2020. Don't know how it will all coming crashing down, but I'm betting that it surely will.

I could be wrong. But I say, "Let it Come Down!"

I believe that we are at the end of things. Our current dysfunctional President is a blight, a scourge, a toxic-waste dump of a human being on his way out. He will be a sad footnote in the history of our Democracy. Years from now, no one will admit they even voted for the man.

Mark Twain: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Yes. I think we are rhyming now.

So of course, the a.m. soundtrack is Neil Young's "On the Beach." A bleak, beautiful masterpiece. Always makes me happy. There's "Revolution Blues" - Neil's ode to Charlie Manson. So many great lines. So many great songs. "The world is turning, hope it doesn't turn away."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Beloved Community!



MLK Jr Day. We all want to live in his "Beloved Community." Maybe some of us don't know it yet. But if the world is in crisis, and it is, it's because humans are in a spiritual crisis.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our separate struggles are really one—a struggle for freedom, for dignity and for humanity.”

And in his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a response to local clergy who objected to “outsiders coming in,” he issued perhaps his most eloquent defense of the beloved community as a global phenomenon: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

What is the soundtrack this a.m.? Sly and the Family Stone's "There's a Riot Going On."  (1971) - A funky, soulful, groove-thing, masterpiece. A party out of bounds. Druggy, trippy, hooky, engaging. Makes you want to dance around the kitchen on the way to the coffee machine. 

"It's a family affair." No doubt. We are all in the same family. Whether we want to know or acknowledge it or not.

It's a forward-looking record. Songs kind of flow into each other, the grooves are smeared across the record. "A dense mix." Not a collection of singles, a song-suite. A complete vision. Including, I kid you not, yodeling. As they say, it was recorded when there was "drug use and intra-group tension." Hah! "Thank you for letting me be myself..." Makes for a fabulous record. Love to love, to love. Totally Beloved!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

"... Corruption Itself, Naked, Unapologetic, and Insidious. This is Precisely Why the President Must Be Removed From Office."

Back to politics. Here are some facts, sprinkled with my opinion.

There will be a lot of babbling, wagging heads, talking points, heated back and forth, overwrought cable TV blather, etc. But the case against the President is pretty simple, clear, and totally damning. Yes, the House impeached the President. Not one Republican in the House voted to impeach. It was a majority of the House that voted to impeach, consisting of Democrats and one Independent.

"The Democratic-led House approved 230-197 the first article of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit his reelection. Minutes later, the House approved a second article, voting 229-198 to charge Trump with obstructing the congressional investigation into that request."

What's it all about? Here is a nice summary from the House Impeachment Team:


And what is the soundtrack for this a.m. post? The Roots "Things Fall Apart."  I have listened to this one on infinite repeat. So rich, so dense, so filled with overflowing sounds, and words. Such intelligence. Powerful grooves. Powerful voices. It's a lot to digest. Still working on it. A stunner. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Turn the Idiots Off!

Yes. Turn the idiots off. It's essential. Mind & brain pollution. Too much noise. Too much idiocy. We don't have to engage with, or pay attention to it. We can track with the news. We can be awake and aware. But it's best to keep some folks at a healthy distance.

There are toxic fools, conmen, grifters, creeps, bad-actors, scoundrels, back-biters, racist rabble-rousers, supremely corrupt and corrupting men and women amongst us.  No sense of giving them our time. Really. Life is short. We need to dedicate ourselves to the good work, the good life. The good.

Friday, January 17, 2020

An Imposter Kind of Morning...

Humans.

None of us really know what we are doing. No one. Especially the ones in the fancy outfits: 3 piece suits, flowing robes, uniforms of every stripe.  Even the "common ones." Are we all just imposters? Living examples of the "Imposter Syndrome" - a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

Some say all adults are basically "damaged children." We are all to some extent the "Wounded Child." Living in adult bodies, in an adult world. It's all a bit of a masquerade. Are we all afraid of being found out?

Who am I to write all this down? I am a full-time, professional Human Being myself. And an amateur psychologist. It's a bit of an imposter game I play too. So often you find out what you thought you knew you really didn't know. And the ones who claim some great knowledge or wisdom are basically pissing in the wind.

"Know thyself." Know that you don't really know. Maybe that's a start?

Soundtrack this a.m. - Yo Lo Tengo's "And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out."  Transcendent, no-nonsense, hushed, beauty. "You can have it all," lingers in your head.  It's a whisper in the ear. A mantra. Perfect soundtrack for an Imposter kind of morning. I mean, come on, Who do you think you are?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

What About My Mood?!

It's all about my mood, and mood-enhancers this morning. I am willfully ignoring the news. I do think momentous things are happening, and I do think it's darkest before the dawn, so this darkness promises light. But what about me?!

The brew this morning: "Mind, Body & Soul." From the package: "Blend of Medium & Vienna Roasts - Smooth & Creamy with Chocolate Notes." Yep. I think so.

The soundtrack this a.m. - Jeff Tweedy's "Warm." (2018). It is one of my all-time favorites. Intimate Jeff. Doomy, wistful, funny, evocative. Death hovers over every track. I am a big fan of Jeff's acoustic guitar playing. Old strings, old Martin guitar. As a chaser I put on Wilco's "Star Wars." (2015). A different spin. What an incredible band. They can play absolutely anything. Layered, rich, it rocks hard too. Wilco is such an underrated band.

Forget the news. What about my mood?!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Slogging!

Doing the work, (I am thinking of creative work here, but it could be any kind of work), you need to push through, carry on, prepare yourself for the time of slogging. Sometimes things just flow easily, inspiration descends upon you like manna from heaven, but you can't count on those times, you thank your lucky stars when they happen, but you know that that kind of gifting is not a given.

So you learn. Even if you don't feel well, you carry on. Even if inspiration is hiding, you carry on. The main thing is you carry on. You do the hard things first. Get them out of the way. If you are reluctant, want to put something off, that is the first thing to tackle.

And don't judge too harshly. Don't judge your efforts. Just carry on. Write it down. Put it on paper. Or play it, over and over. Record it. There will be time later to reassess, the review, to edit, to trash it.

Although so much work is about "feeling," don't let your feelings intrude. The work is actually more than what you feel, what you see, what you do. It's bigger than you. Outside of you. It's not an ego thing. It's a drop-your-ego-thing.

Slogging. It's necessary. And good. Really.

Soundtrack this a.m. - Wilco's "Summerteeth." Jeff Tweedy and the other "Jay" (Bennet). This is old Wilco. A bit looser, Stones-ier, funkier. Don't get me wrong, I love the later Wilco too. But there is something about some of those early Jay Bennet era Wilco records. More of the "fuckedness quotient" in the grooves. I am also a big fan of Ken Coomer on drums, a bit loose and sloppy with a big wallop.

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