Random ramblings.


Letter Of The Moment #16,233,241

I'm consistently amazed and humbled by the great stories I hear of the music being in people's lives. Sometimes, they're quite emotional and heavy (in great ways). This one, however, is just fuckin awesome:


"About 12 years ago, a friend of mine worked at a place that had a t-shirt printer. I brought him a white under shirt and the artwork for Far's "Tin Cans with Strings To You" album. I made a shirt of the main artwork. That became and continued to be my favorite shirt for a VERY long time. 

Fast forward about ten years and it was still my favorite shirt. It had grown so many holes in it that I could no longer wear it in public. I would wear it around the house and my girlfriend at the time HATED it. Finally, we were moving and doing a lot of spring cleaning and I said fine, it's time for the shirt to go. I put it in a box and set it outside on the sidewalk (this is in Brooklyn, thats just where the trash goes). 
About a year later, that same girlfriend and I, after 6 years, go through a really nasty breakup. She did a real number on me. Shortly after, I am hanging out in Brooklyn (I don't live there anymore) and I run into an old neighbor. A neighbor I always had a thing for. Well, her and I hang out that night and wind up back at her place where I stay the night. A very successful evening, right? The next morning, I go to use her bathroom and hanging on the wall, I find my shirt. My shirt of your album. She found it in the box a year earlier and liked it (not knowing who Far was). She used it to paint in until it got too used and then framed it and hung it on her wall. A year after she does that, I break up with my girlfriend, run into her, sleepover at her place and find it the next morning. It blew me away. Still does.
Here's a picture:


Oh, and also, I owned a operated a recording studio in Brooklyn named Tin Can Lab and that artwork was the inspiration behind the name. I had a friend paint tin cans in the control room and live room and a string connecting them. Here is a picture of that…


Anyways, I mostly wanted to ask you for those tracks, but also wanted to add in a little positive reinforcement and let you know that what you are doing is important in many ways. Thanks man. Keep it up."


See? You really do never know where your ideas will go.


The Lonesome Death Of Trayvon Martin


I came home from an amazing Speak Out event about Trayvon Martin's killing at Glide (the incredible church I sing at) and knew it was time to sing this. It's based on a tune by Bob Dylan called The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, which is simply one of the greatest songs ever written, sociopolitical or otherwise. I couldn't ignore the sad symmetry between that awful tale and this one, decades later, still so similar. I kept as many of the lyrics intact as I could. As with Dylan's tune, all the details I included are based on verified news reports.

The video is verified, unedited footage of George Zimmerman arriving at the police station after stalking and killing Trayvon Martin. After he called in and told the police he was following Trayvon (and they told him not to follow him), he then shot him point-blank and admitted it, saying it was self-defense. Zimmerman claims that Trayvon had punched him in the face, bloodied his nose and slammed his head head on the ground repeatedly. Some things to think about:

- Can you see any signs of an altercation looking at these tapes? I can't. 
- Please listen to the call Zimmerman made (and bear in mind that he made over 40 911 calls in the recent past). Listen to his voice, his description of Trayvon. Does he sound rational and sober. Does his account od Trayvon heading towards him, then turning and running, make sense?
- Please listen to the 911 calls on which you can hear someone screaming for help. Does that sounds like someone beaing beaten up, or someone begging for their life because there's a gun pointed at them?
- Note that Zimmerman was arrested for assault on a police officer and cited twice for domestic violence. All of those cases were closed for some reason. 
- Note that Zimmerman's dad is a retired judge. 

I have no interest in characterizing George Zimmerman beyond sharing information that would be pertinent to figuring out what happened that night. I don't care what race he is, nor do I care if he's a racist. I think the real story (and the real racism) here is this: Why did the Sanford police let George Zimmerman go that night, after he'd admitted to killing Travon Martin, with no drug testing, despite a story that just makes no sense given all this information? If it were a dark-skinned young man named Trayvon Martin who'd just admitted to shooting a light-skinned young man named George Zimmerman, do you think he would have been let go that easily?

Trayvon's Martin's death is an unspeakable tragedy. Imagine if that were your son, brother, friend. Feel it. Let's at least learn from this horrible situation, be honest with each other, with ourselves. Let's be honest about guns, about race and privilege, about our fear of young black men, about all the many things this tragedy brings up. Let's start by focusing on and fixing the corruption and/or incompetence of the Sanford police and justice system -- and by taking a serious look at ourselves and the racism that still hurts us all in ways we can't even comprehend.

Please feel free to share all of this in any way you like. If you want to download the tune, you can pay as much you like, safely and securely. Any money generated will go directly to Trayvon's family, of course. Mostly, just please speak up in every way you can.  


The Lonesome Death Of Trayvon Martin

C          Am            Em
George Zimmerman killed poor Trayvon Martin 
With a gun that he carried as a neighborhood watchman
In a gated community in Sanford, Florida 
And the cops was called in to see what had happened
And they rode him in custody down to the station 
And asked him some questions and wrote down the answers
    F   G   C            Am           F    G        C
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take your hands away from your face. Now ain't the time for your tears.


George Zimmerman, who at twenty-eight years
Has a dad who's a judge who keeps speaking for him
And over the years, he's tried to protect him
With his high court relations in the politics of Florida,
Like when his son fought drunk with policemen
Or when he was noticed for concerns about safety
Ignored that and told stories, and his tongue it was snarling,
About what Trayvon did, and why he deserved it
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take your hands away from your face. Now ain't the time for your tears.

Trayvon Martin was a young man in high school
On his way from the store with a drink and some Skittles
Like so many kids, sure, he'd been in some trouble
And like so many kids, he liked to wear hoodies
And watch games with his family and learn how to grow up
In a country that fears him and still tries to enslave him
By painting a picture of an angry young black man
And then shot in the chest by a gun at point-blank range 
That echoed through the streets of the small, quiet neighborhood
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And he never did anything to George Zimmerman
And you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take your hands away from your face. Now ain't the time for your tears.

On the night of the shooting, the cops questioned Zimmerman
To show that all's equal and that the police are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the light-skinned get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom,
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'
And the cops in their uniforms, most deep and distinguished,
After asking their questions most seriously decided
To let Zimmerman free on his weird, flimsy story
With no alcohol tests or arrests or, well, anything
Just let him walk free so he could keep self-defending
While poor Trayvon Martin was cold, dead and stiffening
Oh, so you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Bury your face deep in your hands, for now's the time for your tears.
ps - Truly weird trivia: Bob Dylan's real name is Robert Zimmerman -- the same as George Zimmerman's dad.


I've been slacking. I've got big ideas for this place. Not this big, though. Right now, we are all touching the sun. I knew it!



Dec 25 2011

Whatever this day means or not, it has as great a chance as any other to be a time of presence, reflection and love. Maybe it has more, just for all the tradition and memory that is here with it. Whatever it has been, whatever it will be, whatever it's supposed to be; it can be just like a baby that was a mysterious surprise in arriving, bringing with it wonder, maybe even worry, so many emotions... and bringing nothing so much as a present that is is real as it gets. A gorgeous, infinitely possible present. May yours be merry and bright, silent and holy, beautiful and happy, with time for joy and time for cheer. This-mas time is here.



Bye, Thursday. Thank You.

I'm getting on a plane to the UK. We played somewhere there once, I remember. With Aereogramme (however that's spelled) on the bill too, I think. We played lots of places. We made some really fun noise from Hellfest to Hollywood. You let me ride on the bus with you when we toured, if I wasn't chasing you in a rental car. I'd irritate that one merch guy of yours to no end, selling my little mess of stuff sliding-scale next to the mountains he took care of, talking to people for way too long and clogging up the merch area. He'd laugh, though, and he'd always help out when I took a break to go play. You're definitely the band that I always felt the most at home with. You endured the implosion of a scene and an industry with grace and creativity; humble wants, high ideals. I kind of sidestepped all that by touring smaller and smaller. You had the infrastructure of a band to handle, both personally and logistically speaking. You stuck with it. You stuck with each other. I will miss seeing your name on the posters of cities I travel through. I hope that I'll see you all individually; on stages or in studios or in homes. As far as this Rock weirdo is concerned, you did it right. Yea, you stayed true.


Official Statement From Occupy Wall St. Folks.

This is what passionate, reasonable and real looks like.


"As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers' healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people's lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. 

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!" - Oct 2011



Caninetynine Percent


What I Love About This 'Occupy' / 'We Are The 99%' Stuff

There have been a lot of movements/trends/scenes that I've been reticent to really get on board with. Most of them seem exclusive, extreme and other things that don't jibe with my idea of community/democracy. This feels different.

What I Love About This 'Occupy' / 'We Are The 99%' Stuff:

I love that it's exactly what it says it is: The vast majority of us simply announcing ourselves, announcing that we're aware that we're a vast community working together on solving problems we all know are there: Unchecked corporate greed, rising income disparity, the destruction of the working middle class, failing infrastructure, badly compromised systems of education and justice, hypocritical foreign policy... We know it in our brains and feel it in our bones. We are taking responsibility.

I love that there is no discernible 'focus'. Media folks are whining about this. I think they're doing so because they don't get it and/or it makes it hard (impossible) to define it, caricaturize it and marginalize it. I say the shapelessness is the greatest strength of the movement.

I love that it's decentralized and seemingly happening naturally all over the place.

I love that there is no recognizable 'leader'.

I love that it's bringing out people and ideas of all shapes, colors & sizes. Whether you've got no money or plenty of it, you are the 99%.

I love that it gets to include me and people that I may not agree with on any number of specifics. I'm optimistic that this will lead to truly productive consensus and action that will benefit all of us. We may not get our individual utopias right now, but those entitled insta-utopias are part of the problem anyway.

I love that it's encouraging us to be the active, inspired electorate (that means people that get to help make choose stuff) we have the right and the responsibility to be.


Shanah Tova, y'all. Keep it fresh and sweet.

(Rosh Hashanah = Jewish New Year)

"Everything that we do on the days of Rosh Hashanah (this Thursday and Friday) is meant to assist us in planting the right and best seeds for the blessings that we want and will need in the coming year.

Another beautiful teaching is that on this day everything is renewed. One of the greatest sources of unhappiness is that everything ages and becomes old. Usually we are more excited and in love in the beginning of a relationship than 10 years into the marriage. Many of the gifts that come into our lives are exciting and fulfilling in the beginning, but then they become old. Even if we still appreciate them, it is not usually with the same joy and vigor as in the beginning. But it does not have to be so. We can and are meant to renew ourselves, our relationships, our lives, and our blessings at least once a year. One of the gifts available to us on Rosh Hashanah is the ability to draw the energy of renewal to the important areas of our life. Think about the areas of your life that have become old, and blessings that you want to fulfill with the energy of renewal. Through this consciousness you draw the energy of newness into every area of your life.

There are many tools that we can use during the two days of Rosh Hashanah but there are two important connections that we can all make. The first is to take time during these two days and think about our past year, the good, the better, and the not so good. Then ask yourself, “What do I want to change from last year?”, “what do I want to make better?” Also, “what blessings do we want to draw for ourselves and our family in the next year?”

The second important connection is how we think and behave during Rosh Hashanah. We should act in only ways of sharing, forgiveness and care. No anger, no doubt, no jealousy, no sadness, at least for these two days. How we are during these two days will influence the next 363.

May we all be blessed with a wonderful new year and endless blessings for ourselves our families and the world. Shanah Tova."

- Michael Berg, Kabbalah scholar and author.