WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Quicksilver Brilliance.

"He not busy being born, is busy dying." - Bob Dylan

Yeah. My go-to wise-guy - Dylan (he not only wrote and sang those words, he has lived them to the hilt as a man and an artist). My interpretation: Always Be Moving. We were born on a spinning globe circling around a Sun, in a galaxy expanding like countless other galaxies, into the great unknown void.

So yeah. Movement is a theme. Small and Grand. Our bodies too are always growing, morphing, changing, aging. Cells. Organs. Our brains are elastic, fungible. We are always dealing with all that reality that pummels and confronts us every moment of everyday.

The target is always changing. He or She who targets the target is always changing too. So it's complicated, but really, it's simple too. Keep moving! Never stop until you stop, and even then, you won't stop. Death is just another transformation, a change of clothes, a disintegration and a re-integration. God knows.

This a.m. the soundtrack: Billy Bragg and Jeff Tweedy and Wilco channeling Woody Guthrie. Guthrie was/is my wise-guy's wise-guy. So surprised it took me so long to find this record. Shimmering intelligence. Woody. So American. An American Hero. And Bragg and Tweedy, they do the man justice. They add a loose funkiness to the proceedings. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Funny. The finest of the fine.

Quicksilver brilliance. Moving... always moving...

Monday, January 13, 2020

Old Testament Judgement.

People just love to lay that Old Cosmic, Old Testament "Judgement" on you. They love to hit you right in the head with it like a ton of bricks. They do it so casually, so easily, so quickly and even friendly-like. That's the worst. Someone close, someone who knows you well, someone who "cares," just uncoils on you and let's go with the Doom-Voice of the Lord.

It can also come with a handshake or a hug. And a razor-sharp shiv to the belly.

But remember. It's all speculative. All theory. All opinion. Maybe delivered with authority. Maybe sounds like the undeniable truth.  But, it's not.

It's funny. You see it coming. You wince a bit, but really, these words of judgement are just words. They can roll right off your back. You can just see it's just someone else's idea. Someone else's fear, bias, prejudice. You don't have to own it. You don't have to honor it. You don't have to accept it.

You really don't. Judgement, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Misterioso

Misterioso.

Yes.
The shadow, unknowable.
The light, unknowable.
The deep sadness, unknowable.
The depths of despair, unknowable.

Angels & Demons.
Unknowable.

Love, unknowable.
Hate, unknowable.

Bound by mystery.

"In a mysterious manner - used as a direction in music."

The soundtrack this a.m. - Springsteen's "The Rising." The Boss may have made better albums, but listening to it now, it's hard to believe. A stunner, powerful; a party and a wake.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Fail or Fuckup...

When I heard the word, "Impossible," in the context of a tragic, unforeseen event, I laughed out loud. Maybe a bit inappropriate, but if there is one thing I've learned from being alive during many revolutions of our little blue planet, there is no place for "impossible" our lives.

"Incapable of being or of occurring?"

I don't think so. I mean, come on, Man! That's just a failure of imagination. My experience: anything goes, anything can happen. If something can fail or fuck up, it will fail or fuckup. Especially in the human realm. "Human Error." Right. Tattoo that on your forehead.

Might as well toss these words in the dust-bin: impossible, not possible, un-possible. Forget them. Open your mind, Grasshopper. If you can imagine it, it pretty damn well can happen.

BTW - the soundtrack this morning? The Fleet Foxes "Helplessness Blues."   Dare I say, better than CS&N by a harmonic mile...

Friday, January 10, 2020

Unbelievable is a Stunner.

We binge-watched "Unbelievable" on Netflix over the last few days. 8 episodes. Unbelievable how fucked up people can be. Also unbelievable how determined, strong-willed resilient people can be. Watching the series is a thoroughly consuming experience. A series based on real events. A brutal, difficult story. Two women detectives emerge as real-world heroes, or as they say, heroines. We can't forget that there are human beings willing to do the right thing. Willing to care, to go the extra mile, to reach deep down into themselves and to do the hard work. Just because it's the right and good thing to do.

There is something so appealing about "detective stories." Hunting for clues. Putting things together. Making sense out of the insensible. Sifting thru conflicting facts, formulating theories. On the hunt for truth, justice, the right working of the world. It's something we all yearn for in this crazy, mixed-up reality. We need stories like this, we need to believe in heroes, and goodness. We really, really do.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Morning Report...

Thursday's Report:

Item #1: Coyotes are on the streets biting people. Hungry, belligerent coyotes are loose in the Big City.

Item #2: An Aboriginal Australian, speaking about the raging inferno in his native land, and speaking about the white man's history of rape and pillage of Mother Earth, quoting his Grandfather: "The White Man must destroy himself to save himself."

Item #3: What's the soundtrack this A.M.? Chet Baker's "Let's Get Lost." 

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Missile Strikes this A.M.? Not Good.

The radio tells me missile strikes in Iraq overnight. Not good. Here's hoping for a "de-escalation." The President of the USA is to speak later this morning. No thanks. I mean fuck no.

I do not want to hear from that man. I do not believe one word that falls from his lips. I don't trust him, his intentions, his motivations, etc. It has nothing to with Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat.

The Loud Fat Man is a liar. He lies about big things, little things, infinitely inconsequential things. Often his lies are so tissue-thin, it's like he knows that we know, that he knows that he's lying. He dares and doubles-down on the most ridiculous untruths. He doesn't care if you know that he lies, he does it enthusiastically, boldly, supremely ignorantly. Lies. He can't help it. He lies with impunity. At this point even if he accidentally utters a truth, it sounds like a brazen lie. Fuck that guy.

Hearing him speak is not good for your mental health.

I switch off the radio and put on U2's "All That You Can't Leave Behind." Bono is singing "It's a Beautiful Day," maybe, maybe yes, maybe no. I choose to ride the Bono vibe. Damn the torpedos...

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Musical Therapy, Retro-Style

Time Traveler.

He still owns a Sony Walkman and uses it in conjunction with those little spinning silver discs encoded with 1's & 0's. He also owns and frequently uses Sony Studio Monitor Headphones. The combo is retro, and thrilling; music delivered in powerful, robust, totally engulfing fashion.

And what little spinning discs did Time Traveler listen to when laid-low with a malady, laying on an old-camp-bed, propped up with pillows, Sony Walkman sitting on his chest?

Musical Therapy, Retro-Style, in this sequence: Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night" - (1975), Bob Dylan's "Oh Mercy"- 1989, The Beatles "Revolver" - 1966, Bob Dylan's "Shot of Love" - 1981.

Those amazing, inspiring, distinctive voices: Young, Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison. The finest distilled medicine.

This all "dates" Time Traveler. He's been on the planet for awhile. He can still remember B&W TV. He can still remember a time before Smart-Phones & CGI. He knows those times are in the distant past, anything more than a week old seems like ancient history, but he doesn't care, he likes to visit remnants of those ancient times. It's a healing.

This is not "nostalgia", Time Traveler is not the sentimental-type, he doesn't yearn to return to the past. He sees all this as a just connecting the past to the present/now. The past, those voices, those years infuse, inform and deepen the present-now. They naturally and organically make life deeper, more vivid, more infused with intelligence and integrity. They illuminate the world, and situate Time Traveler's place in it.

Two sayings bubble up: 1. "You may be thru with the past, but the past isn't thru with you." 2. "The past isn't really past."

Time Traveler also watched Orson Welles' "The Other Side of the Wind" released in 2018, filmed in 1970-1976. Such a time-trip, starring the great, legendary Actor/Director John Huston. So many memories flooded back to Time Traveler. Where have all the old greats gone?

To the wind, my friend, to the wind.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Tested by the Fates and Furies...

I was recently at a public event, and in front of a room full of people, I declared that I was "The Last Optimistic Person on the Planet!" Ridiculous, right? Silly? What was I thinking? I mean, a pretty dumb thing to declare. And for sure incorrect. I am not the only one, or the last one.

I mean I am an optimistic sort, but it's almost like that public declaration was like asking the furies and fates to test me. I mean, even in the Dark Ages there must have been a few optimistic folks, there must have been some killer parties. But maybe best to keep my optimism to myself?

For instance, on a local level, I immediately came down with a nasty bug. It laid me low. Filled me with congestion and phlegm of epic proportions. Yuck. It's like I'm walking around with a pillowcase over my head.

And on a global level? Yikes. Nasty. For instance I turn on the radio this A.M. (NPR) and the onslaught of bad news is quite impressive. I mean, Dear Pilgrim don't try this at home, brewing a pot coffee and listening to the news for an hour may not be good for your mental health (death-defying, and buzz-killing shite!).

What's in the news?

Out of control wild-fires in Australia
Floods and unrelenting rain in Indonesia (Jakarta is sinking!)
White Supremacists getting bolder & deadlier, anti-semitism on the rise in USA 
Sexual Assault on trial in NY (H. Weinstein faces 2 accusers in court, 80 woman have claimed they were assaulted by the man)
The Middle East aflame with Hate on all sides
Our President is threatening war with Iran and tweeting like a "wanna be War Criminal"
Oil Prices spiking (will we ever get off fossil fuels, or burn up the planet instead?)

General trend? Bad. Really bad. Stupidity, Greed & Hate is on the rise. I think my optimism needs a bit of a re-think. Or at least maybe I should hold it closer to the vest.  I may need to be a bit more discrete going forward. Cautiously optimistic? Emphasis on cautiously!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

"Darth-Vader-Nuns"

I can't go with the idea that everything is going to hell. Even if everything is going to hell. I always tend to look on the bright side, even if gloom and darkness surrounds me.

Funny. I think I'm still basically that happy-go-lucky kid who wanted to be invisible at Catholic grade school, doing my best to avoid the "Darth-Vader-Nuns." I mean I didn't really know anything, I lived inside my head.

Imagination!

It took me a long time to get comfortable with revealing myself to the world. At the same time, I have gotten good at protecting myself. It's important to lead with love and compassion, but at the same time be ready for hate, indifference and the pricks and kicks, all the incoming fire from my fellow human beings.

Humans are such a gnarly lot. Things can get really ugly, really fast. That's just the nature of human nature. Weird. Sad. But, shite, it's all part of it. Those nuns weren't wrong. They were scary, impossible to connect with, but not really wrong.

Hell.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

A Problem of Scale.

Big plans. Small steps. Big picture. Little picture. Grand scheme. One small, humble step forward. Sometimes it's a problem of scale.

So much suffering in the world. Such big problems. So much hurly-burly. The hurly-burly, the storm clouds are in our heads and hearts too.

We do our best to see the world with clear-eyes. The brutal nature of human existence can be overwhelming. You have to keep in mind that you are one person. One mind. One head. One heart.

What to do? Live humbly, gracefully, with Love and Compassion. Change yourself, change the world.

Clear consciousness. Take in the suffering. Take in the doubt, the worry and fear. Transform it. It's a big job, but each of us need to take it on.

That's life. Living in the Present. As good as it gets.

Friday, January 03, 2020

One Step, One Thought, One Dream at a Time

Before I went to sleep last night, I read about a drone-strike in Iraq. My sleep was a tortured one. Lots of surreal scenes of fuck-ups and mayhem. Out of control. That seemed to be the basic theme. Clinging, hanging on for dear life. So let's say I'm an optimistic sort, I realize my optimism has a small footprint. There are enormous shadows hanging over all of us. Climate apocalypse. War and rumors of war. And the "leadership" of our country seems to be uniquely unstable, ignorant & incapable. Moral rot runs through the body politic.

Optimistic? Well, yes, but just for the next step. One step, one thought, one dream at a time. How did my torturous night of dreams end? I made it. I stumbled through. Darkness gave way to light. I did grab the steering wheel briefly, and made it out of danger. New day. Best to keep your eyes peeled. Danger is around every corner, but there's always suprises too. Some of them may actually be pleasant.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Richard Thompson - Wizard, Magus, Holy Fool.

The last thing we did in 2019? We were in a great little music room with about 350 other folks and we watched and listened to the great musical legend Richard Thompson. It was totally inspiring; we were captivated, enchanted by an extraordinary spirit; one guitar, 10 dexterous, remarkably nimble fingers, a powerful, expressive voice, songs of heart, passion, fire and thunder.

Thompson is an elder, a wise traveler, a remarkable troubadour. He draws upon an expansive catalog of songs, original and traditional. He traverses the history of r&r and British Traditional Folk Music. He played songs from his old band Fairport Convention, songs from his collaboration with his ex-wife Linda Thompson, songs from his long distinguished solo career.

Highlights for us: an ancient Druid song about a little brown wren, "Walking on a Wire" from the stone-cold classic album with Linda, "Shoot Out the Lights," and Sandy Denny's magnificent song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes"

Yes. Ghosts and age, and death hovered over the show. Kind of perfect for New Years Eve 2019. The show ended with a song about the "Saints Rising from Their Graves," and a magnificent version of "Auld Lang Syne." Perfect. Magnificent. Did I mention that Richard Thompson is a Wizard, a Magus, a Holy Fool of the highest order? Dare I say it? One of the best concerts ever. No doubt.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

The Possible.

2020. Numbers. You think they are probably arbitrary. But, then again, what isn't? Sometimes life itself seems arbitrary, tentative, situational, precious, accidental. The arbitrariness, can feel like a certain fate. Weird.

I never envisioned myself living in 2020. I mean I didn't envision myself not here either, but the number itself seems improbable, maybe impossible. It's the Future. The Future is here in the Present Now. Weird.

I am hopeful, for me, my loved ones, my friends, my country, the world. That seems like an unsupportable position. Hope. Seems off the mark. But I dare to hope, to be positive, despite the facts, the accumulation of events.

A better year. A better day. A better decade. A better human race. Why not? The sun is shining. Snow covers the ground. A day in January 2020. I think of the possible. Imagine that.

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