Random ramblings.

Thursday
Apr282011

Muslim-Mole-To-President-Birth-Fraud!

Yea, they're gonna pull off the most amazing Muslim-mole-to-President-birth-fraud caper EVER, then forge it in a way that any closet-racist schmuck (and yes, this whole mess has EVERYTHING to do with race) can tell by opening it in Adobe Illustrator (This link explains it very well). Just quit while you're behind. You're making ugly people money and ruining our country.

To anyone whining about the 'politics' ruining our country, look at any number of threads on this (non-)subject or so many others. Extreme, irrational, sensational thinking is the problem, on the Right and the Left. We get what we want. So, so sad.

Everyone, please, just vote for the candidate that will keep the Far Right out of office, whether local or national. There is a BIG difference right now between Reps and Dems, and getting scarier every day. Don't sleep.

'Nuff said.

Thursday
Apr282011

Just Goethe.

I'm not sure there could be a moment
for which this sentiment wouldn't be perfect:

 

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether
a crisis is escalated or de-escalated,
and a person is humanized or de-humanized."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Wednesday
Apr202011

(faith+belonging=love?)

I had such a busy dreamlife last night. It was impossibly quick, vast and nonsensical, yet all so full of meaning and depth. And now, gone. And we all have them. I think. We can truly never know each other's thoughts, experiences. I really need to reexamine 'faith' and what it means to me. I also need to look up the definition of 'belong' and think about that word too. If knowing is not a choice, really, then faith and belonging (faith+belonging=love?) are the only two things that are possible. Hmm. A good quandary.

Wednesday
Apr132011

Grohl is to Kurt as Diddy is to Biggie.

I wrote that offhandedly while listening to the new Foo Fighters record offhandedly. I've thought it for years, but never really thought about articulating it further. I think about lots of inconsequential stuff, after all. Then, when I posted it and a bunch of people chimed in, seemed worth elaborating on. And I'm on a long, rainy bus ride, so… win-win.

First off, I really need to underscore that I'm completely aware that Grohl and Diddy are both 80 gazillion times more talented and capable than me in so many ways. Just cos I'm talking about them rock-geek style and I happen to be in their field of work does not mean I think I'm on their level or anything. This is me as would-be rock academic, not as rock peer. I'm proud of what I've made and how I've made it, all that good blah blah, but really. I would love to open for the Foos any day, I'm sure Grohl would be awesome to hang out with, I'm sure I'd learn so much from him on so many levels. Similarly, if I were a hip-hop artist, Diddy would probably be amazing to learn from and work with. They have achieved great stuff on just about every level, that I never will. I'm completely okay with that, promise. I don't think all that's for me, probably never has been. And I just don't think I'm that smart/cool/talented/hard-working/good. Anyway, just wanted to clear that up before I got into this.

Predictably, it's been mostly Grohl fans taking issue with this idea, as most fans of Nirvana/Foos/rock think Diddy is a talentless, sample-sucker shyster, along with many other hip-hop artists, and don't want their guy compared to Diddy (also, I'm not clear on whether Diddy has fans passionate enough about his craft and career to nerd out like this about it). I do NOT hold this anti-Diddy view. I'm not a fan of Mr. Combs on many levels, AT ALL, but I'm even more not a fan of ignorant rockist (and sometimes even straight-up racist) views belittling and disparaging a newer and unquestionably more vital form of music that is just as competitive and creative as rock ever was. Sadly, hip-hop is pretty bloated already (maybe like rock in the 80s or somethin) and much of the age of innovation has passed, but rock is truly a 20th-century form. It has more in common at this point with jazz and blues in our popular culture than it does with hip-hop. It will always be here, but it isn't driving our culture the way it did. Anyway, that's a whole 'nother mess. Back to Grohl n Diddy.

Here's another controversial subject: Genius. Basically, I think that Biggie and Kurt were geniuses in their way, and I don't think Grohl or Diddy are, in any way. They're more the worker-bee type; they do their best, have a flair for being social and mellow, just generally work hard and take life easily. By all accounts, that wasn't the case for either Kurt or Biggie. I've heard & read that they were both quiet, temperamental sweethearts, both troubled, with various addictions and compulsions to wrestle with. The personality part matters to me, because it's relatively well-documented that genius and social awkwardness go hand-in-hand. Somewhere on the spectrum of Savant / Asperger's kinda stuff. I'm interested in the topic.

More importantly, the art bears out the differences pretty clearly. 

Simply put, Diddy's business instinct has been as razor-sharp as his flow has not. He's made some beats and production choices worth noticing, but he's no Timbaland / Dre / Bomb Squad, etc. His success has primarily been in branding, promotion, talent-scouting, celebrity, etc. Again, he's been really great at all that. Biggie was just about the opposite of all that. He wasn't particularly savvy as far as I've read/heard, but his voice, flow and presence were instantly recognizable, honest and undeniable. Like Kurt. All the music stuff aside, those guys were just gorgeous, larger-than-life entities. I know they have the James Dean / Marilyn Monroe factor, the dying-young-and-perfect thing that we love to worship, but still. They really were that special.

Grohl is the most singular and musical rock drummer still going, which is saying a lot. He's pretty well synthesized the best of the great rock drumming innovators (Bonham, Copeland, Peart, Moon), kept that metal / punk-rock mania pulsing, and dusted it all with a truly songwriterly approach to playing. Great stuff. He seems like a happy, grateful, fun guy, and he works his ass off. He's written a handful of great songs along the way. My fave is actually still this old Nirvana b-side, I think it's called 'Magnolia'. Anyway, 'Everlong', '…Hero', 'Monkeywrench', some other good ones for sure, can't think of the names of a couple, I'm sure lots of people have their faves… And none of them are anywhere near 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' or countless other Nirvana songs. It's worth noting that Grohl definitely lifted that band to a new level with his playing, helped make it what it is, but even pre-Grohl, there were such effortless gems. Also, Grohl's musicality benefitted greatly from those years, as anyone's would have. I'm sure Diddy's did too. It must be a great thing to be around geniuses, let alone make stuff with them. I've rarely, if ever, experienced it, but I know what it is to be inspired and fired up being around great talent; exciting and life-changing stuff.

'Teen Spirit' alone is one of those songs that is so good, you have to just remember someone actually wrote it. It didn't just come from the sun or something. Kurt's impossibly simple, perfect melodies and changes. His obtuse, touching lyrics that got to you even when you had no idea what he was talking about -- just perfectly weird and astonishing pop/rock/punk genre-transcending masterpieces. And then, his voice; impossibly dynamic, somehow perfectly tuneful and completely chaotic all at once, soothing and unsettling, all the great paradoxes. Even his playing was stunning and visceral, in its messy way. In contrast, Grohl's growl/croon schtick is overdone, mediocre at best and simply nothing special. I like the croon much more, personally. In the studio he gets the screams goin pretty great, but still. He can play guitar really well, especially his right hand, but he doesn't have any sort of individuality to it that's worth remembering.

I could go on. I already have. Again, I'm not saying that Grohl n Diddy don't have talent, etc. I'm just saying that neither of them would have nearly the cultural or commercial staying power they've had without the ghosts of the geniuses they came up with. Diddy has been much more gross about exploiting it. That bit with Sting onstage butchering 'Every Breath You Take' in 'tribute' to Biggie before his body was even cold is really one of the most depressing things ever. That said, he's moved on, done a lot of other stuff, used the springboard of the mystery of his genius, iconic friend's death very well. As much as that sounds like a put-down, it's not. We all have our circumstances. It still takes talent and hard work to take advantage of them. Grohl has been comparatively tasteful about Kurt's spooky death, but really, if he didn't have the Nirvana / Kurt pedigree and mystique, his tunes would just not be taken nearly as seriously, on any level. His actual musical output shares less with Nirvana than with, say, STP. Again, not a horrible band, perfectly serviceable rock with some great moments, just forgettable. Just as STP wouldn't be if they were still together, the Foos would not be headlining Reading, winning all manner of awards, on every magazine cover like clockwork for 15 years running. They would be one of many, many bands that rode the wave of the early 90s dude-rock innovators (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Pumpkins, Rage, Radiohead, etc). 'Everlong' would be on some compilations and in some movies. 'The Colour And The Shape' would still be a really great record… If it ever got made. Working as hard as Grohl does, even without the Kurt factor, the Foos would have a nice base of ardent fans. He'd be known more for his many face-melting guest-drummer appearances with other artists (Google 'Honeybee Petty SNL Grohl' for a really good time). But see, he wouldn't even be the celebrity guest drummer if not for the Nirvana thing. It's obviously impossible to know what would have been if he'd never met Kurt, if there had never been Nirvana. It's pretty easy to imagine, though, that the Foo Fighters wouldn't be so popular. Perhaps they wouldn't exist at all.

That Diddy & Grohl have done what they've done in the wake of those tragedies is to be commended. I just want intellectually honest critical thinking about these gravely important matters. I'm joking about what a Rock nerd I am right now. Okay, I'm still on a rainy bus ride, and this felt fun to babble about. If you've read this far, go do something way more important. I'm going to try to as well. Here's to music and our crazy, wonderful culture of death and genius and success, whatever Success™ is.

Monday
Mar282011

Protection

For anyone you love that needs some shelter. Such a perfect song. This is the Eno remix, really great and peaceful. Click the play button to listen. Lyrics below.

Music makes a difference.

Massive Attack Feat. Tracey Thorn - Protection

------

This girl I know needs some shelter
She don't believe anyone can help her
She's doing so much harm, doing so much damage
But you don't want to get involved
You tell her she can manage
And you can't change the way she feels
But you could put your arms around her

I know you want to live yourself
But could you forgive yourself
If you left her just the way
You found her

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

You're a boy and i'm a girl
But you know you can lean on me
And I don't have no fear
I'll take on any man here
Who says that's not the way it should be

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

She's a girl and you're a boy
Sometimes you look so small, look so small
You've got a baby of your own
When your baby's grown, she'll be the one
To catch you when you fall

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

Sometimes you look so small, need some shelter
Just runnin' round and round, helter skelter
And I've leaned on you for years
Now you can lean on me
And that's more than love, that's the way
It should be
Now I can't change the way you think
But I can put my arms around you
That's just part of the deal
That's the way I feel
I put my arms around you

I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
Protection

Thursday
Mar172011

Bridge Over Troubled Water

I just recorded this song and put it with various clips of what's going on in Japan. The song will be part of a compilation to raise money for Japan. I'll let you know when it's ready and all, but please help out in any way you can, as soon as you can.

I know there are always countless situations, both personal and global, that warrant our attention, efforts, money and support. It's easy to go numb. I have no real idea what's going on in Japan right now, and it's all pretty overwhelming, but a few personal messages have reminded me that behind all the headlines are actual people. I know that's obvious, but it seems easier and easier to forget these days. Ironically, the more 'connected' we supposedly are via all this stuff, the more overwhelmed I get with all the 'connectedness'.

Anyway, I just made a little donation. I did it via the Red Sox site, after seeing a sweet message from two of their Japanese players. I'm sure there are lots of other ways. Tech does make it easier to do that, I guess, even though I'm annoyed that banks are making creepy amounts of loot from all those transactions and so many more. But that's another story.

So, give a little today. And the next time a disaster comes along on any scale, give again. It may not fix everything, but it's what we get to do. After all, a little goodness can at least counteract ugly stuff like this

Anyway, enough from me. Just give.

Have a great day, for reals.

 

Wednesday
Mar162011

Love Others As You Love Yourself

Love others as you love yourself. I've always thought of that in the commonly understood way; that you should treat someone the same way you'd like to be treated. I saw it differently at Glide* the other day. I saw it more like an answer to a question I'd been asking for years: How can I fully love someone and put them first while simultaneously loving myself and putting myself first? What I understood when I saw those words is that both can happen at the very same time. In fact, it seems pretty clear to me that one can't happen without the other. I've never thought of the possibility of love and intimacy in this way, this clearly. I've had it so backwards. I've always thought that there was some struggle between loving myself fully and loving another person fully; balancing needs and all that. I think we make an unnecessary mess of all that in our futile quest for 'individuality' and 'independence'. I have definitely made a mess of it. I've always wanted to take care of myself and have others take care of themselves. That's a perfectly fine statement and idea, but I've used it to justify isolation, selfishness and the deepest sort of dishonesty. I've been acting as if I don't need help, and expecting others to act the same way, when inside I've been screaming for help, scared of the ferocity of that need. It could be that I've largely helped people and been interested in their problems to distract myself from that pain, and perhaps to justify some 'fair exchange' of help, or something crazy like that. I need people, I depend on them, the way I depend on air. And people need me the very same way. It's a paradox, the way we need to love ourselves to love others, and vice versa. This doesn't mean I can't discuss boundaries and limits and make agreements. Conversely, it means that for the first time I have a chance to discuss those ideas from a place of Truth. The Truth of Belonging is the way to healthy dependence, desire and commitment.

Even as I write all this stuff about love, I'm scared. I'm scared of how this applies to any number of situations in my life; with family, partners, friends, strangers. The thing is, the details of how this works in any given situation are secondary. To focus too much on them and the emotional charge they may well bring -- given that we're dealing with big ideas like Love, Community and Commitment -- can summon their opposites so easily: Fear, Loneliness, Abandonment. That is one of the many ways that I've gotten distracted and confused. I've attacked details and variables as a means of escape, as if by thinking quickly enough I could figure it out and fix (escape) the situation, without understanding the pain I was in when facing those situations. I need to breathe deeply before diving into details. I need to remember why the details in question matter. That's the best shot I've got at navigating them and whatever situation I'm in with some degree of grace and sanity.

---

*Glide is an astonishing, beautiful, unique place and community. I sing in the choir there. More writings about it in the future, I'm sure. In the meantime, check the site out and give 'em some money, it'll be used well.

Wednesday
Mar162011

Alone vs. Lonely

Here's a neat article, sent to me by a dear friend, about spending time alone.

This is something I spend quite a bit of time wrestling with. Back to working & dreaming alone in my little apartment. Wishing you well wherever you are, with people or not.

Wednesday
Mar162011

Surrender

For a while now, I've thought of this song as a great and wise teaching in the form of a ridiculously rocking, infectious rock tune: Surrender, but don't give yourself away. This is a great performance, with the 'We're all alright!' live bit at the end extra-pronounced. 

When I played a few shows with some of the guys in Attention/Gratitude, we'd all get together onstage and encore with version of this, paying homage to the iconic version from Live At Budokan.

I love music.