WWSP's "The Alternate Boot!"

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What Have We Learned?

What have we learned, so far?

There are things we don't know, and can't see, that can gravely harm us.

Cleanliness really is next to Godliness.

Good Luck & Bad Luck, Fortune & Fate are all real, and are determinative in our lives.

Probabilities rule.

Biology & Death are great levelers.

We are all fragile, delicate beings.

We really are all in this together (although lots of folks will never be convinced).

Math & Scientific Modeling are informative & instructive, but those numbers & graphs = Human Lives.

Be smart, be aware, be awake, take care, carry yourself lightly & with grace. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Take your vitamins. Stay positive. What else can we do?

The a.m. soundtrack - Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Axis: Bold as Love."  (1967). A gorgeous record from a true "boundary-crosser." A guitar Magus. No one comes close. A musician and human being unlike anyone else. The Experience: a blast of magic, love and supremely beautiful vibes. The Experience blew the doors off the scene in late 60's London. An amazingly soulful trippy, band. LSD-infused. Dazzling. Jimi plays like no other human on the planet. Otherworldly. Steeped in blues, r&b, rock, soul, jazzy touches. Everything done with maximum creativity, love and power. Mitch Mitchell is one of our greatest drummers, Noel Redding has some beautiful bass-lines through out the record. I am in love with Hendrix as a vocalist and songwriter. This record has so many standout tracks: Little Wing (dazzling and gorgeous, it always takes my breath away), Spanish Castle Magic, If Six was Nine, ("I'm the one who has to die, when it's my time to die..."), Bold as Love... incredible... a promise of another land, another way of being, this record always transports me... magic...

Monday, March 30, 2020

Dark Angel Hovering...

It is gonna be hard to ignore the virus.

It's like a black cloud hanging over everything. Or a Dark Angel hovering. Or a gorilla sitting on our collective consciousness. 2020 = The New Dark Ages.

I tune into the radio as usual, this a.m. and all the news is dark, and will probably get darker. More illness. More death. Hard to put your thoughts anywhere else. It is topic #1.

Laying low. Hanging tight. Carrying on. Social-Distancing. Frequently hand-washing. Our mission is to stay healthy. Try our best to avoid that invisible menace.

The a.m. soundtrack - The Rolling Stones' England's Newest Hit Makers - the U.S. Edition. (1964). A blast of exuberant r&b and blues from a much more innocent time. 5 musicians in a room recorded directly to tape. 33:24 of fun & excitement. I love the rawness of the tracks, the tight, but loose ensemble playing. Andrew Loog Oldman's amateur production is a feature. Nothing fancy. Brian Jones & Keith Richards do that great interlocking guitar weave. Charlie and Bill are a fabulous drum/bass combo. Mick Jagger is a charismatic frontman. Believe it. A confident band. They know they are onto something super-cool. Promising. Their original, "Tell Me," (later featured in Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets), is a good oneSo many favorites. Covers of songs from Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas, Buddy Holly, James Moore, Holland & Dozier. These young cats had great taste. And they back it up. All the elements of a great band are there from the start.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

More Attentive...

More attentive...

One thing is clear. We are becoming much more aware of our well-being and health in this crisis. Checking on our breathing, doing an inventory of any aches or pains every morning. Every cough or sneeze is suspect.  Is this the beginning of the onset of a Covid-19 infestation?

We are loading up on Vitamin C, we have a supply of Zinc tablets at the ready, just in case. Not sure if these things are useful, or just a waste of time and $, but you know, the general thought is: They Probably Can't Hurt.

Also drinking lots of hot tea, ginger, garlic, lemon...

Looks like we will be wearing masks out in public going forward. That's what we heard from a "Pandemic Expert" yesterday on the radio. Seems like we are all becoming amateur Pandemic Experts.

We have learned a lot about viruses, and pandemics and our interconnected global world. More info than we ever knew before. Some of it is pretty awful to consider, some of it is hopeful. Maybe knowledge is power. Or maybe knowledge is superfluous? The virus don't care if you know or not. Still, the more we know, the better we can prepare and take "precautionary measures." That's about all we can do.

Living with pandemics... it may be our future...

Spending lots of time indoors. Time of the Lockdown. We wonder if "social distance" can really save us? Who knows?! Taking it all day by day.

The last few days I decided to learn how to navigate & play a Mini-Moog Synthesizer on an iPad. It has totally consumed me. I have fallen down a deep rabbit hole. Not sure if I can work a Moog into my band's sound, it's a totally off the road detour, but I am excited about learning a new instrument. My partner told me some of my doodling on the Moog sounded sad & beautiful... funny...

The a.m. soundtrack - The Flaming Lips' "In a Priest-Driven Ambulance." (1990). Okies on Acid. This is a trashy-sounding record. Sounds so home-made. Wayne Coyne's voice fragile & off-key. Friendly-like. This is "early" Lips with Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue in the lineup, along with drummer Nathan Roberts. A kind of strange, obscure document. A band exploring weird, trippy, sonic territory. 90's psychedelia. Unsupervised, amateur, loose, kicky, noisy, scratchy, cheap-sounding, buzzing and feeding back, pawn-shop guitars. Ends with Wayne trying his best to mangle Louis Armstrong's signature song "What a Wonderful World." It actually, kind of works.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

2020 - Our Brave New World.

"Life is People." - Bill Fay

"People have the Power." - Patti Smith

"People are the Problem." - Covid-19

We have met the enemy. It is a nasty, deadly viral entity. It is brought to us by close contact with other people. Scary. Freaky. Welcome to 2020. I remember thinking 2020 would be the year of "clear-seeing," maybe I was right: What we see, is what we can't see, and oh yeah, it can kill you.

We have been practicing social-distancing, pretty much in lockdown mode here, hunkered down until further notice. Yesterday, we found ourselves low on supplies, so we ventured out to the grocery store. Two of us, we wrapped our faces with bandanas, we looked like amateur bandits, or badly-cast revolutionaries.

Grocery shopping is now the most risky, "dangerous" activity on our calendars.  Trying to shop less frequently. It was a strange, surreal experience entering our local Whole Foods. Navigating the aisles, doing our best to keep our distance from other shoppers, most of the folks were wearing masks, or other kinds of coverings over their mouths.

You can't help thinking that Covid-19 is lurking, hovering over, and around us all. Could it be in the air? On the shelves? What about the packages, the cans? Shite, what about the produce?!

At check out we thanked our grocery clerk.  It must be totally strange and unsettling to be in that store all day long, watching folks doing their best to stay infection-free.

You wonder, is it even possible? We got home. "Sanitized" the boxes, cans, washed the vegetables. Washed our hands. Exhaled. We won't have to venture out to do that again for maybe a week...

Yikes. Welcome to our Brave New World.

The a.m. soundtrack - Father John Misty's "Pure Comedy."  (2017). When Josh Tillman exited Fleet Foxes, he put on his Father John Misty mask and found his voice as a singer/songwriter. Father John Misty has a lot to say. Maybe sometimes too much to say. He asks all the big questions. He likes to observe himself as he composes, asks, and sings. He is a bit precious. Self-aware/self-absorbed. A complete Hipster. So smart, a bit of a smart-aleck. He does have a fabulous voice. He writes with passion and intelligence. It's a great record. About the Human Comedy. And you, know, really the joke is on us.

Friday, March 27, 2020

His Unmitigated Stupidity Will Lead to More Illness & Death!

The Toxic Clown in Chief 's words and actions (inaction too) are tragic, an on-going, abject failure. His unmitigated stupidity is going to lead to more people becoming ill, and lead to more death. Tune him out! The Toxic Clown in Chief and his team issued a "cease & desist" order to take this ad down.  I think it should be shared widely. The Truth hurts, still it's the Truth.



Our Toxic Clown in Chief really is a dangerous know-nothing. Remember, character counts. This current crisis reveals the depths of our President's unsuitability for the job he occupies. I suggest it is best to tune him out. Instead, listen to the experts, the doctors, the scientists, the Governors who have stepped up to take responsibility to care for their fellow citizens. This virus doesn't seem to give a shit about Red State or Blue State, Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal. The virus is an equal opportunity menace. Don't be stupid.

By the way, as a companion piece, be sure to check out this Roger Water performance of "Pigs (Three Different Ones)." It is fabulous. Roger Waters warned us (October 2016), that the Toxic Clown is a Liar, a CHARADE  and a Pig.  We were all forewarned... view it and weep...



The a.m. soundtrack - Emerson Lake & Palmer's "First album"  (1971). ELP, sounds like a law firm. A much derided record and group. Lots of folks considered ELP just three pretentious show-offs. Classically-trained. How dare they? They actually know how to play their instruments. I mean three virtuosos. So un-r&r. OK. Yes, the drum solo in the middle of the record is a bit much. So many bands fell into that cliche and trap. It's hard not to want to skip over that after the first listen or two. Still the musicianship on much of the record really is pretty impressive. It's very, very progressive. Keith Emerson's organ playing is extraordinary. The best song, the one that everyone heard on the radio is "Lucky Man." It was a song Greg Lake supposedly wrote when he was 12 years old. A beautiful ballad. And Emerson's vamp on the Moog Synthesizer at the end is unexpectedly exquisite, and strangely loose and wild. Sort of takes your breath away. OK. Yes, it is worth it to slog thru the heady, classically-infused tracks to get to "Lucky Man." It really is... "Oh, what a lucky man, he was..." A wonderful song. One of the great ones, no doubt.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

"Are We There Yet?"

"Are we there yet?"

"When will this be over?"

"Are we all gonna get it?"

"When does everything get back to normal?"

"Are we all gonna die?"

"How are we gonna make it?"

"Is anyone in charge?"

"Will we ever be able to gather together in a crowd again?"

"When can we stop thinking/talking about it?"

"Is this all just a bad dream?"

The a.m. soundtrack - "Buena Vista Social Club." (1997). Produced by American guitarist Ry Cooder.  Recorded live in the studio the old-fashioned way. "It should be the thing that sets it apart. It was a kind of club by then. Everybody was hanging out and we had rum and coffee around two in the afternoon. It felt like a club, so let’s call it that." - R. C. You can hear it in the grooves. A blast of classic Cuban standards, played with heart and distinction. "Buena Vista Social Club was meant to bring back the traditional trova and filin, a mellower take on the Cuban son and bolero, as well as the danz√≥n." Recorded under the umbrella of Castro's Cuban, Communist Regime. Pure joy. Pure musicianship. So refreshing. Life-affirming. Groovy. Perfect morning blast of enthusiasm from the "socialist" fringes. Music that makes you think you can make it thru. Viva La Revolution!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Social Distancing is the Order of the Day!


We are taking shelter at home. Social Distancing is the order of the day. The highlight of every day is pretty simple: socially distant walks on the lakefront. It is always invigorating to walk to the lake and watch the waves crashing in. Every day the lake looks different. Sometimes smooth as glass, sometimes a churning, raging beast. And everything in between.

Turns out Spring is happening all around us. Green shoots coming up thru black dirt, buds on the trees, birds busy doing their busy birdy things. Each day, so far, we have spent time basking in the healing rays of the sun.

Everything seems normal out in nature. Still, we know the virus is out there. Most folks around here are doing an excellent job of distancing themselves. Lots of knowing glances and nods of the head from folks passing from a distance. Everyone is being serious and responsible.

At home it's all about music. Playing music in the kitchen, two voices, an acoustic guitar, various shakers and bells. Playing old songs, and new songs. It's been super-gratifying.

We also of course are playing all kinds of CDs on the BOSE Music System. Positive Vibes flowing thru the air.

We do tune into the radio once in awhile to catch the latest news. We have been listening to our Governor give his daily Coronavirus Update. We voted for Pritzker. He seemed much better than the alternative, but frankly we didn't have high hopes for him and his term in office.

We have been surprised at how good Pritzker has been thru this crisis. He seems in command of the situation, listening to the experts & scientists. He is not making crazy promises. He is taking responsibility, he has marshaled forces to try to tackle the problem. He comes across as a common sense problem solver. He has been a reassuring voice. Surprising. Who knew he would rise to the occasion? Who knew someone in power would show compassion and care? Pritzker: "You should not have to choose between your life and your livelihood." Makes sense. Life comes first.

The a.m. soundtrack - The Zombies' "Odessey & Oracle."  (1968). Recorded at Abbey Road and Olympic studios in 1967. Exuberant, British Psychedelia. A joyful blast of catchy, perfectly-realized Pop. Gorgeous harmonies. Fabulous musicianship. It stands up to anything else from that era. The band dissolved when the record was released and the first two singles sunk without a trace. "To this day it remains a word-of-mouth obscurity." Later  the single "Time of the Season" became a major hit. Still this record is much more than one single. Sounds so fresh. A breath of fresh air. A major work that can go toe to toe with albums from The Beatles and Pink Floyd released around the same time. Zombies Live! Really. No kidding!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Expert Germaphobes.

My partner and I are walking around our place like full-blown hypochondriacs. We are discovering new aches and pains that never surfaced before. Every sneeze, every cough is suspect. This is new. We have both become expert germaphobes. Who knew that could be a job?

There is an invisible enemy loose in the land, and really, it is legion. All we can do is be vigilant, careful, determined. Doing our best to be super-clean, and safe. We are taking our vitamins, sipping lots of hot tea, eating garlic, & ginger. Don't know if that does jack-shit, but it does make us feel a bit better.

Yesterday, I received a letter from my cousin who lives in Arizona. He sent me two face-masks, a photo of the TV show Pop band, The Monkees, as well as a cool photo of a Gretsch guitar. A perfect little missive from the Land of the Sun. The masks may come in handy. I laughed at the photo of Mickey, Davy, Michael and Peter, and I lusted after that old, classic Gretsch guitar.

My cousin is hunkering down, just like us. Cases of the plague there, cases of the plague here. It really is near and far and everywhere in between.

My partner and I had a little music session in our kitchen. We ran through some old songs, and some brand new songs too.  Just two voices, an acoustic guitar and a few bells, shakers and a tambourine. That's the whole thing, right there. It felt good to play. Our voices reverberated thru the apartment. The kitchen is all hard surfaces, which results in a nice reverb effect. It's not exactly Phil Spector reverb, but it's not bad.

We also ventured out. The sun was shining in the afternoon, and like little moths to the flame, we had to take a trek to the lakefront, to look at the waves crashing in, to bask in the sun a bit, to notice the new roots pushing up from the black earth, little buds on the trees, new flowers coming. Damn, Spring really is coming back.

Late in the day word came that our Toxic Clown President is getting bored with the global pandemic.  Seems he's bummed that all the attention is on the virus and not on him. Plus, of course, if the economy crashes, folks may hold him accountable for fucking up the response to the virus. President. It's a tough job. “Trump is like an 11-year-old boy waiting for the fairy godmother to bring him a magic pill.”

Right. Yikes. Best to tune the Toxic Clown out. He is gonna get more people needlessly ill. There are plenty of other voices to turn to, listen to the doctors, the medical professionals, the more intelligent and responsible Governors through the land (Priztker, Newsom, Cuomo, etc.). Be smart, be safe, take it one day at a time...

The a.m. soundtrack - Gillian Welch & David Rawlings' "Time (The Revelator)."  Yes. Essential. Two voices. Two guitars. This record puts me in mind of Flannery O'Connor and her short stories of hard, bible-belt, southern, bleak-gothic country. These are songs of fire and heart. A dark, stripped down, beauty. So American. Plain. Gritty. Well-constructed. Beautiful. Gillian and David met at music school, but they seem like hard-boiled Americans from a time and place long ago. You can hear echoes of the Carter Family. Hard-won songs after the apocalypse, after the drought, after the locust & the plague. Two folks singing songs in a shotgun shack. "I dreamed about Elvis, the day that he died, the day that he died..."

Monday, March 23, 2020

Voices in the Crisis.

Times of crisis. I flick on the radio. Seems it's all going to get worse before it gets better.

I switch off and turn to the voices in my head. I hear Vince Lombardi telling me: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Not sure how that works in the time of "plague;" a little invisible, viral entity wreaking havoc across the globe. I suppose try to stay safe & healthy, and don't succumb to the darkness. Also from Lombardi: "Run to daylight."

Yes. Maybe that's closer to the mark. Some say that maybe the virus doesn't do well in direct sunlight. Hope that's true, but who knows?!

We are in lockdown mode. Still going out for walks. Trying to stay on the sunny side of the street, and the sunny side of life. Not easy. Today is cloudy and gray, with a bit of snow on the ground.

Yikes. My father used tell me: "No one ever promised you a rose garden." 

That's true. No promises. We all just found ourselves here on this little spinning blue planet. Doing the best we can.

The a.m. soundtrack - Tom Waits' "Alice." (2002). Another one of those amazing voices I turn to in times of need. Waits sounds a bit like Louis Armstrong, a bit like Howling Wolf, a bit like a raving street preacher, street poet, beat poet. He is supremely dextrous singer and lyricist: musical, jazzy, intelligent, hilarious. That voice is old and crusty, hard as a rusty nail. Waits is a verbal/lyrical trickster and magus. This record was written for a play, directed by Robert Wilson. Waits at his arty best. A bit of that  trashy Bertolt Brecht, European ragamuffin, down and out, vibe. Puts me in mind of the Threepenny Opera. All songs co-written with Kathleen Brennan. A major work in Waits canon. Brilliant, moody, melancholy, inspiring. A dark, twisted, hard beauty. Waits unbound.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Muddle Thru...

Maybe I got carried away (see previous post) yesterday? Blame it on a good night's sleep and a potent coffee brew. I look back at yesterday's manically optimistic post, and I think to myself, "What bubble do you live in, Dude? Pull your horns in, Man!"

I am thick in the middle of the dichotomy (dumps vs. sunny) of being me.  This morning, thoughts of "revolution" and instant "change of consciousness," seem like big, gaudy words and ill-conceived concepts from a distant land. What the hell was I thinking?

This morning I am feeling much more humble and tentative. Maybe, just maybe, we can muddle through the plague!?

Maybe. I mean, I hope.

Maybe we can all make it without devolving into some savage & dark Road Warrior Apocalyptic Existence? I've seen all the movies, and read all the books too. I know all about dire straits, doomsday scenarios and dark avenues.

I have no great insights. I am just trying to keep my head up, keep myself occupied, trying not to panic, trying to follow the thread of the story, and carry some little hope in my heart that we can somehow keep going. Muddle through.

Maybe people will pull together? Maybe we will do the right thing? Maybe we can be all civil with each other? We are all going to have show a bit of discipline. A determined "stick-to-it-tive-ness."

Try to stay healthy. Try to keep our heads. Try to dream of better days. I mean, try our best to Muddle Thru as best we can.

The a.m. soundtrack - The Ronettes' - "The Best of the Ronettes - Original Phil Spector Hits."  (1957-1968). Fabulous girl group. Elaborate, "wall of sound" productions. The echo chamber sound, unlike anything else. High-Art doled out in catchy 3 minute pop songs. Yes. Phil Spector, the madman at the controls. Spector is now a totally disgraced figure. A wreck of a human being. What to say? Spector did know how to make great records. His work with the Ronettes, John Lennon & George Harrison was fabulous, the work stands up and speaks for itself. As for the man? Yikes. Off the rails. So there's that human dichotomy again. The dark and the light. The destroyer/creator.  All in one elaborate fright-wig package.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

THE REVOLUTION IS HERE. NOW.



The Revolution is Here. 

It came to us via a nasty viral entity. The virus went viral, and everything changed.  One of my favorite maxims: "A Change of Consciousness Can Happen in An Instant." Turns out that when folks realized that a nasty viral entity was now everywhere, a Change of Consciousness was in the air.

What did the new Revolution teach us?

Borders and walls are meaningless. Nations and Governments are only valid and relevant if they can take care of people! Guns, ammo, bullets are totally irrelevant.

Race & class are beside the point. The color of your skin is irrelevant. Your investment portfolio is irrelevant and shrinking.

Biology and Science are pushed to the forefront. Turns out facts, data, & reality really do count. Political spin, lies, propaganda, disinformation evaporate in the face of the cold hard reality of disease.

We are (as the Dalai Lama always told us), Human Beings First. We are all the same. We are all connected, via invisible strings. We are all responsible to each other. We all have a responsibility to care for ourselves, for our planet, our environment, and for each other.

Turns out Capitalism is a figment of our imaginations. We really can print up money and give it to everyone. No one need go without, no one need be left behind, no one need go hungry, no one need to lack a safe place to shelter. No one need be denied quality healthcare.

We are not in a competition with each other, we are engaged in a vast interdependent cooperation agreement with each other.

We are all safe and healthy if and when we are all safe and healthy.

Most of us are "non-essential personnel." Maybe only essential to ourselves and our loved ones.

Essential Personnel = First-responders, Nurses, Doctors, Care-givers, Teachers, Health-Care workers, Scientists. These are the essential ones. These are the ones we turn to for help, for counsel, for care.

We can live with less, and in a more sustainable way. We can live more responsibly. Instead of mindless consumption, mindful contemplation.

THE REVOLUTION IS HERE. NOW.

The a.m. soundtrack - King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King."  I guess I have "progressive" politics on my mind. Makes me think of the great "progressive" rock of King Crimson. The brain-child of Robert Fripp, one of the great British guitarists. This record takes you to another land, far away. Exquisite musicianship; the players venture to the far reaches of expert proficiency. The first song gets a bit frenetic, the rest of the album sort of washes over you with softer, mellower vibes. Greg Lake has such a fabulous voice, rounded, grounded tones. "I talk to the wind..." Excellent record all around. As they say, "a classic."

Friday, March 20, 2020

Biology. It is a Hard Master.



Biology. It is a Hard Master.

Cells. Dividing. Multiplying. RNA. DNA. Enzymes. Proteins. Hostile Viral Entities.

We sometimes forget, or try to forget where we came from. Sperm and Egg meet. There is a process. A Trajectory of Life. It is all beyond our control. We emerge from the process, and are carried along by the process.

Born. Live. Die. Life & Death; two sides of the same coin. The Coin of the Realm.

We sometimes take good health for granted: These eyes, these ears, these limbs, these organs, all our fingers and toes, our beloved brains, all working together, an elaborate, collaborative team.

We think we are the world. We reflect and mirror the world. Everything we can imagine, everything we experience,  everything that we do, or don't do, fills up our days.

Biology. It is a hard master.

The a.m. soundtrack - Black Flag's "The Process of Weeding Out." (1985). Pretty sure I purchased this CD in the late 80's because of the cover. That horned-being behind the microscope piqued my curiosity. The word "Instrumental" on the cover was intriguing & appealing too. I had no idea what to expect. It is a hard, stripped down sound. Guitar, bass, drums. No frills. Basically an EP, 26 minutes, 28 seconds. Avant garde jazzy, crossed with elemental r&r fire. I mean, I am just grasping for words. Hard, spiky, wiry, a bit elastic. It is unlike any other record I've ever owned. Militant. Black Flag. A hard master too.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Normal?!

The global pandemic. It dominates the news. It is everywhere. Reports this morning tell us that Covid-19 is in our town, it's in D.C., it's in every state of the Union. It is already in a theater near you.

It is definitely a blockbuster. An unwelcome blockbuster.  Yesterday afternoon we listened to a Global Pandemic Expert. She was totally pissed off, and alarmed, and alarming. I won't repeat her dire warnings, but let's just say they were extremely, extremely dire. I am not one for panicking, but a little flame of panic rose up in my being.

I think the source of her "pissed-off-ness" is that we all should have been much better prepared for this inevitable event. The experts have known that a global pandemic like this was coming for a long time and we could have, no, scratch that, we should have been well-prepared for it.

We aren't. And our Toxic Clown President has been pretty clueless and toxic throughout the unfolding crisis. Every time he opens his mouth more stupidity and disinformation pours out. You couldn't have picked a worse, less qualified, supremely incapable person to be at the head of our government. Yikes. We have a crisis of leadership too.

This morning, what do do? Trying to "act normal." Find a level of normalcy. What is normal? It's pretty much an illusion, a bubble, but we are doing our best not to panic, not to go too dark, not to be too discouraged.

We hear on the radio that tonight the Spring Equinox will arrive! Spring is coming! There will be new roots, new flowers, new life. Birds, bees, buds on the trees. Remember to smile, to laugh, to dream.

The morning soundtrack - The Kink's "The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society" (1968). So British. Ray Davies at his best. Ray called it "the most successful ever flop." It is a magnificent flop.  A brilliant record: "I miss the village green, and all the simple people" - Ray Davies. Yes, a look back to simpler, greener times. Trying to hold onto a grace, intelligence, innocence. Maybe it's only alive in our hearts and heads. That will have to do. This one makes me smile every time I spin it on the box.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

"Keep Calm. Carry On."

"Keep Calm, Carry On" - "Commonly featured on posters, clothing, novelty items, and internet memes, keep calm and carry on is a popular slogan calling for persistence in the face of challenge. It was first used on a British propaganda poster during World War II but now enjoys general currency as an expression of resilience."

Right. You know, that "stiff upper lip" idea might come in handy right about now.

Latest word is this coronavirus is gonna alter our lives for a long time. Social Distancing. Isolation. Quarantine. Lockdown. For many of us, our lives are going to get very small and circumscribed.

The Federal Reserve is printing up money. Word is they will be flooding the economic system with "Trillions of Dollars." A reminder that money is a fungible, abstract thing that we all live and die by. It's not "real," or only as real as we imagine it to be. The Fed can just conjure up money. Add a bunch of 0's to a sum. Pretty much creating something out of thin air. Something from nothing?! Who ever said it couldn't be done?

Personally, I think the hardest cut is no live shows for our band for the foreseeable future. It is something that we lived for, a driving imperative. Every day. Where do we play next, when is the next show, what songs will we do, I wonder who will show up?

All that has vanished. Sometimes the show just won't go on. You find out pretty quickly what is essential, and what is not essential. The essential list is pretty compact: survive, stay well, eat, sleep, dream, keep yourself occupied.

What's important? Breathe.

The a.m. soundtrack - Dead Can Dance's "Aion" (1990). Medieval. The album cover is a detail from a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. Sets the tone.  Music from the 14th, 16th & 17th century.  Lisa Gerrard's voice is an incredibly beautiful, expressive instrument. The music is otherworldly, sacred. It's not r&r. Instruments include the hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, an array of percussion instruments, strings, keyboards. Some of these songs sound absolutely sacred to my ears. You think of plague, and dark times, and voices, naked, human voices reaching up to the heavens, beseeching, praying, wondering. Life, it is a mystery.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Uncertainties & Probabilities...

The Fickle Finger of Fate.

Luck. Good luck. Bad luck. Biology. Randomness. Accidents.

It's hard to get your head around the idea that so much of our lives are arbitrary, subject to the whims of the Universe. The scientists spin a yarn about how the Universe started with a Big Bang and the whole thing became a long unfolding.

Subtract Gods and Demons, and you have a place of uncertainties & probabilities. Welcome to the Funhouse.

The a.m. soundtrack - Joy Division's "Closer." (1980). Hermetic. Recorded at Pink Floyd's Britannia Row studios in the middle of the night. Sounds like it was recorded in a void. Maybe we are all really just inside a hushed, sealed chamber in Martin Hannett's head?  Hannett is just as much the artist here as is the young, totally unique and distinctive band. There is a hollow, ghostly clarity to the music. Such a great, incredibly focused band. Peter Hook is one of our greatest bass players, many of his riffs became the signature instrument in many of the songs. He plays bass unlike anyone else. And of course, Stephen Morris is a fantastic drummer. Hannett worked hard on a very dry, totally pristine and mannered drum-sound. It is an "Uneasy Listening" record. A perfect soundtrack for those of us in the middle of a plague. The second and last Joy Division album, it was released two months after lead singer Ian Curtiss committed suicide. Curtiss sounds like a man in great distress. Totally on fire. Aflame. The record is an austere masterpiece. Knowing what we know, a bit morbid.  Ian Curtiss was such a young, sensitive soul. A super-intense artist. Everything seemed to weigh him down like a ton of bricks. Guilt. Shame. Anger. Clear vision. Clairvoyance. Not easy to listen to, hard to forget. A great record.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Process of Stripping Down...

The process of stripping down...

Living in the shadow of coronavirus. What's important?

Survive.
Stay healthy.
Stay home.
Eat well.
Sleep well.
Keep moving.
Read.
Listen to music.
Make music.
Keep clean.
Wash hands, frequently.
Count your pennies.
Laugh.
Pray.
Dream.
Stay clued in.
Listen to NPR.
Stream Netflix & Prime.
Write.
Play guitar.
Write new songs.
Tell the people you Love, that you Love them.
Encourage everyone you know to keep safe.
Social Distance yourself.
Physical Distance yourself.
Stock up on essential supplies.
Don't forget Coffee beans.
Take long walks to the lakefront.
Stay away from other people.
No hand-shaking, kissing, hugging.
Lots of bowing: "Namaste... I bow to the Divine in You."
Meditate. Religiously.

The a.m. soundtrack - John Cale's "Eat/Kiss - Music for the Films of Andy Warhol"  (1997). Moody. Fascinating. John Cale truly stretches out, shows his incredible range as a composer. Cale plays keyboards, he conducts a string quartet. There are voices, creating moods, colors, textures. Music for those intimate moments. Cale at his creative best, background music, stands up. Dark. Exotic. Evocative. Cool.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Healing Vibes!

Yes. The coronavirus. A very nasty virus, a wicked beauty...


We "grounded" ourselves yesterday. Doing our best to be "socially distant." It's all a bit weird and surreal. Living with a the looming global pandemic. It is here. So strange to walk to the lakefront. The streets were quiet. Not many folks out and about. We watched the waves crashing into the shore. The wind was whipping. Hard little snow crystals pelted our bodies and faces.

Back at our apartment, we filled our time up with music. When my partner played DJ it was all Chet Baker ("Let's Get Lost") and Billie Holiday ("Verve 12 Jazz Masters"). When I played DJ it was Shye Ben Tzur, Johnny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express ("Junun") and The Rolling Stones ("Aftermath"). It made quite an impressive sonic stew. Our choices seemed significant, important. Filling our heads and hearts with uncommon vibrations. 

Earlier in the day, I had visited a friend and client. We bowed to each other. "Namaste!" "I bow to the Divine in you!" No hugging or hand-shaking, and we stayed a good distance apart as we conversed. She had recently traveled to Nepal. She had made it overseas and back hale and healthy, avoiding the virus. On her trip, she had purchased a number of Nepalese "healing/singing" bowls. These elaborate, hand-crafted metal bowls are made from 9 different metals. They come with a special little pillow to rest upon, and two different mallets. The idea is, you strike the bowl with the mallets and vibrations ring out and provide a wave of healing. She gifted me one of the bowls.

I brought it home. We set it up in the living room and took turns striking it. My partner and I could  feel the vibrations traveling thru all the channels and nerve-ending of our bodies. The bowl vibrated for an incredibly long time. A subtle, powerful hum reverberated in the room and in our bodies.

Made us feel better. Seemed to light up every cell in our bodies. Is it all illusion? All these "invisible" things. Changing our lives. Moment by moment. So strange, so weird, so surreal. Maybe it has always been so? 

The a.m. soundtrack - The National's "I Am Easy To Find" (2019). A joyous, majestic, blast of Art. This one is a bit different. Same great band, fabulous musicianship, but lead singer Matt Berninger shares vocal duties with a number of female vocalists and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. A stand-out.  It all works brilliantly. A beautiful work of High Art. The album is just the finest stuff imaginable. Breath-taking. Heart-breaking beauty.  Life-affirming. Fabulous, healing, vibes. Music-making at it's best.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Responsibility of Being Responsible.

"I don't take any responsibility at all."

Remember those words. They define a Presidency. Tattoo that on his forehead, chisel it into his future tombstone.

Hah. That's our Toxic Clown President, doing what he does best, doing his best to avoid any responsibility for anything. It's been a life-long quest with him. A long record of failure, stupidity, bluffing, huffing & puffing, lies, cons, predatory exploitation.  This man has an incredibly damaging personality flaw. He is probably the last man on the planet you'd want to be managing a crisis, any freaking crisis.

I actually listened to his whole "national emergency" press conference yesterday afternoon. I was laying on the kitchen floor. The cool floor tiles keeping me conscious. Listening to the Toxic Clown's words was worse than plunging an ice-pick into my forehead. Why did I listen? Maybe I am a bit masochistic. I think I am gonna blame it on the my Catholic upbringing. I think of punishment, guilt, shame, sin. I think of our shared Humanity, and our responsibility to all living things.

I wanted to directly experience the deep dysfunction and the mental anguish our Fear-inducing leader inflicts on the nation on a daily basis. We are truly being ruled/guided by Toxic Idiots. I wonder how that all works out?! Living with the Plague. I think of that Existentialist idea - we are all responsible, for everything, every little and big thing. The things we can control, and those we can't. Always, forever, responsible.

I finally did have to laugh.  Gallows humor. All the lackeys and minions who surrounded the Toxic Clown President slavishly lavished him with creepy, over the top praise and gaudy words.  You couldn't write that shit down with a straight face.

We are on our own.  Best to lay low. Wash your hands. Social distance. Dream of better days. That's pretty much what all the experts recommend. We have to take responsibility of being responsible.

The a.m. soundtrack - Spiritualized's "Pure Phase." (1995). What a great band name. This record was a bargain bin find. $2.99 used CD at Reckless Records. It's noisy, cacophonous. Builds to crazy-ass crescendos through-out. Melodious too. There is noise and beauty. Rides easily on the sound-system. It kind of hovers, and hangs and peters out and fades away at the end. You kind of hope that is what happens to Covid-19. Not counting on it...

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Hard Dystopia.

The problem with being, aware, awake, alive, being always "clued in," you are subjected to all the elements, all the hurly-burly & turmoil. You wear it all like a cloak, you carry it in your head and heart.

Yesterday, I heard from a long-time friend, who lives overseas, in Poland. We had a long, rambling, phone conversation. My friend is in a "dark mood," he is thinking along the lines of "Road Warrior," a hard dystopian existence, where the thin social/political fabric comes undone and folks are left to fend for themselves. A process of stripping things down to the basics, "How do I survive?" "How can I protect my family?" My friend lives closer to the land than I do. He is a hunter. He keeps his hunting rifle close.

 It is amazing that a little biological entity, a biological virus - "A virus consists of genetic material, which may be either DNA or RNA, and is surrounded by a protein coat and, in some viruses, by a membranous envelope," could so quickly bring down our social/political structures. But, I don't think my friend is wrong. I am a little less dark, I still live in a little bubble of naivety, and maybe I still harbor a spark of hope that we can pull through this crisis and dream of better days.

But I also realize I may be looking through rosy glasses. I may be wrong.

I have no faith in our Toxic Clown President. I do think our government is clunky, our healthcare system is great for rich people, not so great for everyone else, our democracy is inefficient, and will be stressed, the economic system is teetering, and could come crashing down.  That is some powerful biological entity, don't you think?

How resilient can we all be? How do we make it if the money stops flowing? How long can we hold out when everything comes to a halt? How do we pay the rent? Keep the lights on?

It is all a bit surreal too. The threat is invisible. The sun is shining. A mild day today. Everything seems normal. Except it's all madness on the radio, in the financial market, and at the supermarket too. Folks are canceling concerts, sporting events, parades, theater shows, closing Disneyland. Yikes.

This morning I start with an inventory - fingers and toes still working, no sniffles, breathing free and easy. Relatively healthy today. We will be washing our hands regularly. We have instituted a policy of no hand-shaking, no hugging, lots of social distancing. We canceled a r&r show that was scheduled for tomorrow. It was hard to do, it hurt a bit to cancel, but we just didn't want to put anyone at risk.

These are hard, strange times. For sure. What's gonna happen? I don't think anyone really knows...

The a.m. soundtrack - Pink Floyd's "Animals." (1977). The perfect soundtrack for a hard dystopia. This one is loosely based on George Orwell's "Animal Farm." Humans are divided up into "predatory" Dogs, "despotic, ruthless" Pigs, & "mindless, unquestioning" Sheep. Dark. Ugly. The record is great. It opens & closes with Roger Water's bare voice, and his acoustic guitar. Stark. There are great moments for David Gilmour too, especially on "Dogs." No one paints a better dystopian picture than Roger Waters. A hard, brilliant intelligence. The only other singer/songwriter I think even comes close would be Thom Yorke of Radiohead.  Sometimes the dark stuff sounds just right.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Less. I guess.

So it looks like the "Looming" Global Pandemic is no longer looming, it is, in fact, here.

Don't listen to our Toxic Clown President. He just seems be making it all worse. Best to tune that idiot out!

What is a humble pilgrim supposed to do?

Less. I guess. Wash your hands. Social distance yourself. The dominoes are falling, the world is spinning, markets are crashing, folks are canceling plans.

I am (to quote Dylan), "Praying the pieces don't fall on me."

I am still reading William Gibson's "All Tomorrow's Parties."  It does seem so smart, almost clairvoyant, (it was written before 9/11),  it's all about some unnamed change, some cataclysmic event, a grand turning where the old world dies and something new arrives.  I wonder...

Some of the lines from the book seem to come at me as precise, personal messages. I take them out of the context of the book, and place them squarely in the context of my present existence.  For instance:

"Don't anticipate outcome... Await the unfolding of events. Remain in the moment."

Right. Roger that.

The a.m. soundtrack - Sigur Ros' "Takk..." (2005). A gift. This one came to me as a gift from an amazing meditation teacher. She is an extraordinary woman, a visual artist, a vibrant soul. She knew I was a great fan of the band, and one day, out of the blue, she gifted me with this record. It starts with a hush and builds to a massive crescendo. A very dynamic record from hush to crash. Another great record where the vocals are in a foreign language. It is the language of vibe, of music, of ethereal sound. The music washes over you. You don't need to figure it out, you just let it engulf you. You live inside these vibrations. It's like finding a secret garden, a sanctuary of vibes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Sleepy Joe, the Wise Elder.

Reassuring.

Sleepy Joe Biden. He represents the Nation's Calm Center. He is an old man. Really up there, but you know, he is experienced and a decent, honorable, honest and trust-worthy man. A long-time public servant, one who seems perfectly cast to serve the public.

Let's recast it: Sleepy Joe is a Wise Elder, and Elder Statesman. Someone to look to for guidance.
It would be a welcome change to have a President who is responsible, intelligent, capable, common-sensical. A healer. Maybe folks remember fondly that Joe Biden stood side by side with Barack Obama for 8 years. Remember when decent human beings worked in the White House? Seems like another time and place. And, well, it's true. We have been living in a harder, uglier place with our Toxic Clown President these last few years. Yikes!

Looks like Bernie Sander's "Revolution" will not be televised. The numbers just don't add up. Another wise elder. A fount of integrity and good ideas. Bernie didn't catch fire like he and many others thought he would. Politics is a hard, weird game.

Numbers. It does come down to numbers. Looks like Sleepy Joe is the one. Fine with me. Blue Wave 2020.

The a.m. soundtrack - D'Angelo's "Black Messiah."  (2014). How to describe this record? Slinky, slippery, groovy, funky, soulful, beautiful, sexy, hard to hold, like sonic quicksilver. Definitely reminds me of Sly Stone and his great record "There's a Riot Going On." But it's all got its own vibe too. Gorgeous Art/Funk/Soul. I don't believe in no Messiah coming to save us, but I do believe in art, soul, music and D'Angelo. The real thing. Reassuring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Improvising a Life.

Long-form improvisation...

That's life right?! We are constantly confronted with uncertainty, calamity, mystery, strange cul de sacs, wrong turns, unintended consequences, mistakes, misjudgments, thudding failures, misperceptions, delusions, bubbles popped, dreams deferred, or dreams squashed into oblivion like an army of ants on the sidewalk.

What to do?

We say, "Yes, and..." We keep the game going. We wing it. We make it up as we go. We live by smoke and mirrors. We try to defy gravity. We dance and evade, and duck, and run for cover. Flee. We flee, often from one place to another, and back again. We are the little people, the common people, you know the ones who stuff happens to. If there are consequences for major cataclysmic events, we are the ones who will suffer "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

But, fuck it, we carry on, damn the torpedoes.

What of plans? Yikes. Sorry. No plans, "We don't have no stinking plans." We are just living in the moment. Living on a hope and a prayer. This breath, this blink of an eye. Alive. Improvising a life.

The a.m. soundtrack - Robyn Hitchcock's "I Often Dream of Trains." (1984). An odd, uncommonly beautiful beast of a record. Hitchcock name-checks Dylan and Syd Barrett as primary influences. Makes sense. The record starts with a gorgeous, moody piano piece. Most of the record is stripped down & acoustic. There are even a couple crazy-funny a cappella numbers. Lots of humor in the grooves. An uncommon intelligence and wit at work. I think Robyn was winging it, and not giving a damn, just letting it flow. Which really works. A freaky, funny, uncommon gem.

Monday, March 09, 2020

The Momentum of Things...

My Bookmark

I am reading William Gibson's "All Tomorrow's Parties." It was a bit of a mind-fuck to finish Marlon James' novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings," and then jump into Gibson's world. It took me about 50 pages in to adjust to the flow. Gibson is a fabulous writer. He keeps you guessing about what's happening. He creates a powerful narrative thru-line that carries you along. You are off-kilter, unsure of where it's all going. Very true to life in the hurly-burly of the Present Moment.  Gibson creates a complete world, it's the "Present/Future/Now." "All Tomorrow's Parties" was published in 1999, before 9/11, but it seems so of the moment, so forward-thinking. Clairvoyant.

I came across this line in Gibson's book thinking it was a message just for me: "That is the result of maturation, you are less inclined now to move counter to the momentum of things." 

This morning I click on the radio, to see what's up with the momentum of things, seems like it's all fear and meltdown. I am up early, still completely dark outside, daylight savings time is such a head-trip.  These are words that jumped out at me while I brewed my coffee:



I have decided to stay in a contemplative/meditative state of mind. Find the calm center in my being. Stay there today.  I won't cling, won't try to swim upstream, I will just let go of all the "needing, wanting, grasping," and watch the river flow...

The a.m. soundtrack - Peter Gabriel's "So." (1986). This record is a heavyweight contender for best-sounding album in the 80's. I guess it's no surprise the legendary Producer Daniel Lanois had a hand in the making. It is a monster of a record. You heard it all over the radio. Some songs are still in heavy rotation today. It's a bit "clean-sounding," it's the synths, less organic, more synthetic, but if you want to really test out your sound system, crank it up, and bathe in the sound. It does sound fabulous. Every song. Pretty much perfectly realized. "Sledgehammer" is a bit annoying. It was so ubiquitous, but it is a catchy ear-worm. My favorite track, alone worth the price of admission is "Don't Give Up." It's pretty much an anthem to live by. An absolutely gorgeous song, a duet with Kate Bush, powerful, beautiful, inspiring.  Yes, the world is freaking melting down. It's a contagious world we live in... but... you know... "don't give up, 'cos you have friends, don't give up, you're not beaten yet, don't give up, I know you can make it good..."

Sunday, March 08, 2020

What are those Silly Humans Thinking/Eating?!

'Meat is Murder."

Yes. It's the title of a famous Smith's record. Kind of a vegetarian's clarion call.

Supposedly the latest looming, global pandemic, Covid-19 started in a "wet market" in China. 

"The origin of the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak was linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.[5] Following the outbreak, proposals were made to ban the operation of wet markets selling wild animals (some of them endangered species) for human consumption. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was permanently closed on January 1, 2020. The Chinese government subsequently permanently banned the sale of wild animals at wet markets."


Yeah. The market is banned now. A bit  too late. The virus is alive in the human population around the world.

Maybe our callous treatment of animals, domesticated and wild, is coming back to haunt us? Makes one think of other previous, deadly outbreaks: Ebola virus (humans eating diseased monkeys?) and Mad Cow Disease, (humans eating cows who were fed the diseased brains of other cows?). It all sounds insane. What are those silly humans thinking?!

We are what we eat. Maybe think first before swallowing?

The a.m. soundtrack - The Smith's "Meat is Murder."  (1985). A breath of fresh air. Fierce intelligence. Fierce grace.  Shimmering guitars. A great r&r band. Johnny Marr is a master guitar player, arranger, composer. Morrissey one of a kind singer & lyricist. A bit precious. So personal. Uncommon. The record is "strident and political." Of course, that's what you want. Artists/Musicians who have something to say. Morrissey always has something to say, and Marr backs it all up to the hilt with an army of shiny, shimmering guitars.  Haunting. Beautiful. A blast from another time and place. To my ears this music never grows old. It's like the grooves are preserved in amber. Ready to be excavated at any time. The band, the sound comes fully alive any time you put the record on the box.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Mystery Engulfs Us All.

I am no Theologian.  I don't know God. I don't have any deep insights into the Mind of God. I don't have a Personal Savior. I don't know the Secrets of the Universe. I am just grasping at Meaning and Purpose to Life, it's like trying to hang onto the wind.

I do think the Universe is a Grand Dance between the Light & the Dark. Some might call it the battle between Good & Evil. I do believe in the Dichotomy. If you were to imagine a God, you sure as hell should imagine a Devil.

It's the only way to explain, pain, suffering, death, horrible doings.

I have a had a few epiphanies and glimpses of Light, and these little glimpses, make me think we are connected to everything in the Universe. I do have a strong feeling that there is more to Life than we can know.

Mystery engulfs us all.

The Universe is not a Puzzle to figure out. Life is not something to Solve. We live, and we die. What we do in between is up to us. At the same time, we all must bear the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. We don't get to choose the circumstances into which we are born, which Era, which Country, which Family.

We all have to try to survive in the Human Tribe. It's not easy. Turns out our fellow human beings love to bully, oppress, confuse, rape, pillage and murder human beings. It can all get quite ugly.

Plus, of course, we are murdering our life-supporting ecosystem. Our wicked ways are destroying the fabric of life on the planet. Basically for $. Freaky. Stupid. Part of our grand narrative.

I do think we can transcend the darkness, the stupidity, the greed & brutality. But it's an iffy proposition. And really, it's just a glimmer of Hope and Light that I cling to. It's a bit of a life-raft.

The a.m. soundtrack - Richard & Linda Thompson's "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight." (1974). Richard still had hair when this one was recorded. Richard and Linda were still in the "happy couple phase" of their relationship. This is definitely a masterpiece of Dark and Light. Two voices: Male & Female. Both forces of nature. Richard's guitar playing is striking, original, extraordinary. He can make his guitar sound like bagpipes, his electric guitar is a spiky, slithery, sparkling fount of mercury energy. There is major creative alchemy on this record. So many great songs. Some of the greatest songs ever recorded include, "Calvary Cross," "The Great Valerio." Dark. Hard. Spiritual. Beautiful.  The Battle of Good and Evil, Dark and Light spill across the tracks.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Black Swan Friday!

Maybe we will call this "Black Swan" Friday... ?

"Nassim Taleb describes a black swan as an event that 1) is beyond normal expectations that is so rare that even the possibility that it might occur is unknown, 2) has a catastrophic impact when it does occur, and 3) is explained in hindsight as if it were actually predictable."

Yeah.
Who knows?
What, me worry?
Sure, yeah, why not, I mean, of course, didn't we all know?

There are the unseen things, the invisible strings that connect us. All the systems we have built have joined us across continents. There is an upside, but of course, there is a downside too.

If we build it, they will come, I mean, at least sometimes they will come, sometimes they don't, but of course, what we build will also, finally, inevitably come crashing down.  

Sounds like in the global financial sector we are in the crashing down phase.  Who knew that an infectious disease, jumping from animals to humans could wreak such fear, panic, and havoc. Blame it on the Huanan Seafood Market. Maybe it's not a good idea to slaughter animals in unsanitary conditions, and then serve up those remains to humans? 

Who knew?

Anyway, be sure to wash your hands!

The a.m. soundtrack - Brian Eno's "Another Green World."  (1975). You want to live in Eno's Green World. Yes. You do. It's a more innovative, head-opening, musical, & surprising place. "I'll come running to tie your shoes." Eno's world is funnier, stranger, more lush and vivid. Unexpected things happen. Everything is expected. Remember: "mistakes/accidents are just hidden intentions!" Eno is the "Secret Agent of Change" in music. Founding member of Roxy Music, a huge influencer, and collaborator with some important music-makers including U2, David Byrne/Talking Heads, David Bowie, Robert Fripp. Eno. Unique. Uncommon. A bit of a Black Swan. Who could have predicted?!

Thursday, March 05, 2020

The Democratic Primary - Where Are We At?

Where are we in the Democratic Primary? One of these folks will be the new President come November 2020. The Toxic Clown President will be "retired," and sent off to deal with his legal issues in N.Y.

That's my vision.

Super-Tuesday came and went, finally, a more diverse public, a rainbow coalition of voters, came to the party.

- Looks like "Sleepy Joe" Biden is now the front-runner. Maybe an experienced, decent, competent, long-time Democrat who served as VP for Obama is attractive to lots of folks and demographic categories? Joe had very little $, almost no organization, but he did get some key endorsements (Amy K. Mayor Pete, Beto and the heavy-weight champ in S.C. James Clyburn), which carried lots of weight with voters. There is still time for Joe to blow it. He is a life-long stutterer, and he is known for verbal gaffes, but still, everything seems to be falling into place for Joe to secure the nomination.

- Bernie's "revolution" seems to be fizzling a bit. Lots of donors, a great organization, lots of enthusiasm from the young, lots of great ideas. But some times you build it and "they don't come." Hard to ignore the reality that Bernie was unable to garner big vote totals in 9 out of 14 states. Maybe the revolution won't be televised? It ain't over yet, but not sure how Bernie pivots, or adjusts to appeal to more Democrats. I think it's always been a very "heavy lift." How do you run an insurgent, hostile take-over of the Democratic party, when you need lots of Democrats to embrace you?

- Elizabeth Warren lags behind the two old white geezers. It seems unfair. She works harder, has more energy, more detailed plans, typical, the woman does more work than the men, does the work, cleans up afterwards, and gets less credit. WTF. What to say? Ain't it a shame?

- Bloomberg, rich oligarch spent $500 million and got a handful of delegates. Money can't buy you love. Did they make him King of American Samoa yet?

The a.m. soundtrack - The Waterboys' "Fisherman's Blues."  (1988). "I wish I was a fisherman..." The opening track starts with a great riff from Steve Wickham's fabulous fiddle, and a whoop of joy from Mike Scott. Brilliant. Exciting. A joyful masterpiece of a record. Acoustic. Heartfelt. Beautiful. A spontaneous, raw beast. It's a bit slapdash, lots of strands. Perfect. Eclectic. A great cover of Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing," a W.B. Yeats poem set to music, and a wacky version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." A tip of the cap to Paul McCartney's "Blackbird." Life-Affirming. A real gem. A complete record. A marvel. It was one-time thing. This band, this place, this record. Unique. A beautiful accident. Pure pleasure, and unmitigated joy in the grooves!

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

I Prefer Not To.

Lots of huffing & puffing this a.m. post-Super-Tuesday. If you follow politics, a momentous day. The hurly-burly of competing thoughts and opinions swirling around this morning. Maybe best to just take it in. Reflect. Refrain from commenting, or wielding an opinion.

I am sure it will all work out. Maybe not for the best, but it will work out, right? I hope for a better day. But who knows, I mean, where is it all going? Beats me.

People live, people die. The planet spins, time (it's not an illusion, right?!) moves on, the Universe is expanding...

The a.m. soundtrack - Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs."  (1998). A dream. A fever dream. Dreamy. This record seems like the lost record from another trippy band, The Flaming Lips. Rev's frontman was originally in the Lips and Dave Fridmann the Producer is also a longtime Producer and collaborator with the Flaming Lips. Jonathan Donahue Rev's lead singer/songwriter sounds like Wayne Coyne to me, the same high-register, shaky & fragile voice. Still, Lips or no Lips, this is a fabulous record. The use of horns is unique. A strange dream record. Dreamy. Trippy. A recording mastered to 35mm magnetic film. Weird. Cinematic. It's a cool dream.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Essential. Questions.

The calm center in the storm.

Everyone and everything is in flux. That's not unusual. It's the way of the Universe - Change, Impermanence, the Arbitrary Nature of our Existence.

We are here. Then we are gone. Our bodies are in motion, cells always changing, our brains are elastic. Turns out you really can teach an old dog new tricks.

Best to keep a healthy skepticism in your tool-kit. What do we know, how do we "prove it?" Are we willing to sift thru evidence, change our minds? Admit that we are wrong? I mean sometimes we need a refresh.

Curiosity. A sense of wonder. Be aware. Be awake. Keep your eyes peeled. The Universe is an amazing place.  Life, clear-consciousness, love, beauty, poetry, music, art. Fill yourself up.

The a.m. soundtrack - Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" (1971). The perfect record to start any day. Marvin asks all the essential questions. "In 1969 or 1970, I began to re-evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say ... I was very much affected by letters my brother was sending me from Vietnam, as well as the social situation here at home. I realized that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world." — Marvin Gaye. Yes. A beautiful record. A breath of fresh air. The questions linger in the air, stir our hearts, wake up our souls. Perfect soul-stuff. Brilliant. Beautiful. And you know, every morning, drinking that first cup of coffee, it's worth it to ask: What is Going On?

Monday, March 02, 2020

People are Crazy...

Bonkers.

You know. Lots of folks are just completely bonkers, crazy, kooky, irrational, nuts, looney, mad, insane. There are these fucking crazy cults all across the land, and the world. Some of it is religious madness, some of it is political madness, some of it it a mixture of the two. Madness times two (Madness x 2). I mean it's also cultural, social.  We are herd animals. Get us together and we quickly and easily make ourselves fucking crazy. There is safety in the crazy.

I know a middle-aged white woman, bleached-blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes who is convinced that our Toxic Clown President is a gift, personally donated to the USA from the hands God. Of course, her God hates liberals, and people of color. She belongs to some kooky church that has convinced her that she is part of the chosen few, the righteous ones who will rise up and conquer the sinful liberals who are fucking everything up. Yikes...

I have often said that my personal motto (if I have one), is "You Must Believe," but I also think you must be really, really careful and choosy about what to believe. So many dead ends, crazy-ass cult-like ideas. A healthy skepticism is also quite useful.

"Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters." - Dylan

Best to be humble. Believe in Love or a Better Day. Get too far out beyond that and madness, lunacy, stupidity, insanity, irrationality, lurks. Believing in the grand things seems mad. Believing in kindness, grace, humility, and in the limits of our abilities and intelligence, seems more on target.

Anyone selling Eternal Life, or the Kingdom of God, or The Answer, or Some Grand Contest Between Good and Evil is selling you a complete load of shite. If someone tells you they have the answer, and you should follow them, don't hesitate, run for the hills.

Meditate. Believe in sitting quietly, believe in silence, the calm center. Believe in the light & dark.

Life. It's to be lived. What's going on? What's happening? Best to observe. Be awake, be aware, be careful. One step. Keep your eyes peeled. Be ready to change your mind, admit you could be wrong. The lunatics are running the asylum.

The a.m. soundtrack - Neil Young's "Tuscaloosa." (2019). Grounded. A gem from Neil Young's Archives project. A live show from the "Time Fades Away" tour, February 5, 1973. Features one of Neil's greatest bands, The Stray Gators with a fabulous rhythm section - Ben Keith (pedal steel), Jack Nitzsche (piano), Kenny Buttrey (drums), Tim Drummond (bass), fabulous musicians, stripped down sound. Space and air in the grooves. Buttrey and Drummond have also played on some great projects with Dylan. An excellent concert, loose, raw, but tight, intimate & powerful. Ends with "Don't Be Denied," Neil's Odyssey and personal anthem. Recommended.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Unless We Get Out of the Way.

There is probably a sensible explanation, but this really happened, and for a minute my mind jumped into the wildest of speculations.

I was nearing the end of Marlon James' fabulous novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings," a book so well-written, so all-consuming, so "masterful," that I didn't really want it to end. I was slowing down, reading very carefully, mindfully, savoring every page, every word. I was reading in bed, late in the evening.

I turned to page 670 and I read this line at the top of the page: "... is maybe we must die. That whatever we start, can't finish unless we get out of the way."

I finished the sentence and at that precise moment my reading light went out. It just blinked out and died. I was engulfed in total darkness, I was in bed, propped up with pillows, the book cradled in my arms. Total darkness.  Those words echoing in my head. Yes, "get out of the way." I was disappeared, erased in the blink of an eye, dispersed into the deep, surrounding darkness.

It was a stunning moment. Caught me up short. I thought to myself, "Hah, that is one powerful book!" I fussed with the reading lamp in the darkness, I jiggled it, turned it on and off, maybe a loose wire, the light blinked back on.

Message received.

I finished the book. Brilliant. Loved it. A powerful experience. Secret mojo. Darkness and light. I got out of the way. Life-affirming.

The a.m. soundtrack - John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme."  (1965). A masterpiece. A towering achievement. Hard to write about this one. Spiritual. Breath-taking. A song-suite. Coltrane conjures, captivates, enchants. His saxophone is a force of nature. So much emotion and beauty, and fire and passion. Must be experienced. Intense, thrilling, soothing, healing. The finest.

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