Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My new desktop image

I love it. It's my favorite 45 albums of all time. Well, maybe not precisely. It's hard to actually draw a line between your 45th and 46th favorite albums. The last few entries might be somewhat arbitrary.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lost music: The Madd Scientists blues band

Toronto blues band Madd Scientists broke up about six years ago. To the best of my knowledge, what very little air-play they once received has dried up. Their only album, Antenna Town, was self-produced and only marketed in the form of give-aways to blues radio stations, of which a handful are now available on for as low as a penny each. The man behind the tunes, Jim Layeux, seems to have taken his few dozen songs that I loved and quietly vanished with them. The world of Google and YouTube avails just one of his tracks, the instrumental title track to the above album.

The first thing I came to realize just the other night, is that there are songs that I love that I will almost certainly never hear again. I have never suffered this brand of sad realization before.

And the other thing that I came to realize is that I, their number-one fan so far as I know, am probably the only human being anywhere with a serious interest in keeping both their name and their body of work as relevant as possible.

I figure I have a moral duty and the only way to do it is to pour those 14 Layeux songs I do possess onto my YouTube site. I suppose this amounts to copyright infringement but if the act succeeds in dragging Layeux out of his hermitage in order to say so, then I will happily yank the videos and instead engage in useful dialogue with this excellent songwriter and see if I can't negotiate access to those beautiful songs that are currently lost to me.

Oh, and their bassist, by the way, was our own Dr. Lock.

This first Madd Scientists offering I have thrown together is actually a traditional song but Layeux does some really neat things with the words and melody making his the hands-down grooviest cover I can find:

Monday, February 27, 2012

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

(2005) Kim Cooper

Young Neo lent me this book from the "33-1/3" series of 100-page-or-so treatments each concerning a music album of particular interest. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea was the second album from Jeff Mangum's idie rock band, Neutral Milk Hotel; one of the configurations to come out of the Elephant 6 collective; a close group of young friends, starving artist types, who figured largely in this and other bands, notably Olivia Tremor Control and Apples in Stereo. Aeroplane was a major international success without any marketing from a major record label but because of its remarkable integrity, genius and strange beauty and the potentially endless process of word-of-mouth.

The book drifted through a fair amount of logistical details which I did not find interesting, and spoiled some of the songs somewhat, for me anyway, by offering explanatory notes on the lyrical content, despite the author's introductory rationalization that it shouldn't. I won't fall for that again.

Some of the anecdotes though, carried a lot of weight. Between the lines, I sensed something really special had been going on. Primarily a lot of love and courage.

At the moment near completion as I turned to the last page, I was wondering whether I would slot this book under the 2-star or 3-star column of my personal book log. One final page later, I knew it would be 4-stars. Because the last page ends with the following quote from Neutral Milk Hotel's Julian Koster. As a very serious poet, I appreciate this message whole-heartedly. It is directed at young musicians and artists anywhere who are trying to find thier way. I can tell you without a shade of uncertainty, that if every young person took this to heart, the world would become a better place; about a million times better:

"I think what Elephant 6 meant for us is very simple: there's something pure and infinite in you, that wants to come out of you, and can come out of no other person on the planet. That's what you've got to share, and that's as real and important as the fact that you're alive. We were able, at a really young age, to somehow protect each other so we could feel that. The world at large, careerism, money, magazines, your parents, the people at the rock club in your town, other kids, nothing is going to give you that message, necessarily. In fact, most things are going to lead you away from it, sadly, because humanity is really confused at the moment. But you wouldn't exist if the universe didn't need you. And any time I encounter something beautiful that came out of a human somewhere, that's them, that's their own soul. That's just pure, whatever its physicality is, if the person can play the piano, if they can't play piano, if they're tone-deaf, whatever it is, if it's pure, it hits you like a sledge-hammer. It fills up your own soul, it makes you want to cry, it makes you glad you're alive, it lets you come out of you. And that's what we need: we desperately need you."

"You wouldn't exist if the universe didn't need you." Did you hear that? If that doesn't blow you away, I'm not sure I have any hope for you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

White and Blue

It's time to play another original song at you. Sorry about your luck!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Twisted survey

The ever kewl writer and plague enthusiast Elizabeth Twist has selected little old me, among others, to answer her very own random question survey:

1. What are you reading?
Pretty much everything. Re-reading The Road (C. McCarthy) for the sake of the young readers group. I'm on book 4 of the Dark Tower series (King), book 5 of Song of Ice and Fire (Martin), book 2 of Riverworld (Farmer), Book 3 of the Jolly Stone series or some darn thing by Iain Lawrence. As well currently, short stories and poetry by Atwood, Whitman, R.W. Emerson and a few other things; various non-fic. I am seriously aiming at reducing my Concurrent Reading Load. It's grown a tad out of control.

2. What is your favourite creative activity that is not writing?
Writing songs. Wait. Is that still writing? Composing songs then.

3. Where or how do you get your best ideas?
Mostly by peeking in people's windows at night. I've found that we're all freaks. There is no normal.

4. If you could magically and painlessly change one thing about your mind or body, what would it be, if anything?
I'd lose a hundred pounds from all the right places and give it all back to the universe. There's probably a shortage somewhere because of me.

5. What's the scariest movie, story, novel, or scene you can recall?
Watched Nightmare on Elm Street all alone as a teenager. I was scared outta my mind. Started the whole Sleeping with a Bag of Golf Clubs phase. I can't even talk about it.

6. What's the weirdest thing you believe?
Well, I don't believe anything. I don't need to. I am equipped to proceed with all things in life treating testimony as testimony. I am equipped to gauge the usefulness of ideas without subscribing to them. I don't believe in belief so we're not going to get very far with this question, are we?

7. Super strength or super intelligence?
I'll take super intelligence, thank you. I hope this is a genuine offer and not rhetorical.

8. You're granted the ability to become invisible. Where do you go and what do you do? (Bonus question: are you wearing clothes? I mean, what about YOUR becoming invisible makes your clothes invisible too? This has always bothered me.)
Okay, I read the bonus question first, which was a little disturbing for a while. I assume that whatever process I used to make me invisible, I could also apply to a few items of clothing.

I'd like to think I'd spend a lot of time spying on the private meetings of the leaders of nations, religions, corporations and media etc. and then airing all their filthy dirt to the public but in reality I'd probably waste all my time in the bedrooms of the world's sexiest people. Oh well.

9. What one change do you think would have the most positive impact on the world as a whole?
People grasping the reality of the illusion of consciousness; fully understanding their slavery to instinct. It would change absolutely everything. I suspect it would solve every problem. Most of those solutions being the new understanding that what you thought was a problem is not in fact a problem. Most problems are illusory.

10. What is the crappiest advice you've ever been given?
"You should be able to jump from there."

To the letter, it was true but landing was more the problem.

11. What's your favourite song right now?
Never My Love by The Association. That's right. I'm on the cutting edge of music, clearly. Here's something more impressive: My favorite albums currently are: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel and The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man On Earth. They are significantly more recent and they are incredibly beautiful after you get used to them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The negative dialectics of poodle cuisine

It didn't bother me that someone left my bathroom door open nor that Ezri the Poodle had been in there making mischief as she is wont to do. It did not bother me to have to pick up the garbage and refill the can.

What unsettled me was finding that the dirty ends to the Q-tips had all been bitten off and were none to be found.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Typical Sunday Night

On Sunday I tracked my time at my weekly 12-hour gig at the Big Empty Warehouse so as to measure a sampling of my productivity. It was not the best of shifts. I became tired later in the shift and thus my creative endeavors were given more to passive music listening (though not entirely un-poetic) and less to writing.

Results in minutes:

120 explored music
90 watched DVD - comedian Louis CK
85 security patrols
75 composed music. No significant results
70 correspondence
65 writing
45 visited with good friend/co-worker
35 young writers group preparation
25 meals
20 pack/unpack
20 editing
20 played chess
10 updated personal budget
5 phone call

More significantly, by category:

315 create/explore (too low)
155 liesure/entertainment (too high)
130 mundane details of life (too high)
85 security work (oh well. Must earn a paycheque)

That was a boring post but useful for me. Sorry about that.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pulp fiction

Fairly regularly someone will be talking to me and refer to some news event or another; local, national or global. Usually it sounds like this: "Isn't it terrible that [insert personality] did [insert misdeed]?" or else "Isn't it sad what happened to [insert victim]?"

Then I reply that this is not a matter in which I've been involved.

Then I get looked at funny. "Oh but it's in the news." This usually sounds accusatory, as if I am an irresponsible citizen if I do not keep up with the news. And I might even find a shred of legitimacy in that judgement if only I had a shred of confidence in the media machine for being either fair, honest, thorough, intelligent, useful or in line with properly noble interests.

Unfortunately, the opposites to these ideals are the rule according to my observations which I make rarely, but regularly enough to keep my understandings of the matter hopefully current and legitimate!

While major newspapers and news radio programs offer bit pieces designed to extend good advice to readers, which can be often quite useful, their coverage of events is their bread and butter and is woeful by any angle I look at it. And sure, there may be many limitations, financial, logistical and otherwise, behind the woefulness, but excuses for being useless, as good as they may be, does not change the quality of being useless. There are no points for effort.

The problems:

Material which is political or with political applicability is slanted in favor of the party of choice of the media entity's ownership. This has always been obvious. So has their penchant for spinning everything to appear as sensational and controversial as possible.

If you've ever been present at a newsworthy event you've probably watched it later on the news and been horrified how the newscaster's angle is utterly foreign to your own experience.

And if you've ever watched CNN or Fox News cover any matter Canadian, you know how completely idiotic and laughable their messed up ideas are. Are we sure their more local reporting is any purer?

There is a complete lack of usefulness with regards to learning from the news event so as to garner wisdom or to service endeavors toward prevention of bad events from happening again.

The most obvious intelligent questions which should arise from a given report are so often absent without explanation or apology.

The journalism process leaves itself prone to inadvertent reporting of lies. Worse is the creation of its own deliberate lies as Fox News has been caught doing and without the slightest repercussion for reporting complete fiction. They were literally taken to court where the judge ruled that news agencies are not legally required to tell the truth. In short, just because something is in the news does not mean it is true.

The media is corrupt in that it quietly tows the line of the ruling power while reporting inconsequential items to the contrary in order to come off as government watchdogs and earn undeserved trust. The ruling media are corporations prone to the same pervasive corruption uniformly plaguing all the ruling structures of our society and is as much to blame as any of them for keeping this mindless economic machine grinding away; this system of economic and mental slavery in drag as freedom.

Note that much of that corruption is evident in what newspapers choose NOT to report. But this is invisible to people who trust main stream news as their only source. There are more independent; more trustworthy sources on the Internet.

The media limits its capacity for enlightenment to that of the average jerk. It asks few if any questions from a global context and accesses no perspectives outside the lame social prejudices of the day. It knows its average purchaser is basically dull, if not outright stupid, and lives in that realm, encouraging potentially intelligent people not to bother thinking critically.

The main reason I no longer have any interest in so-called news is because what we call news is rarely, if ever, new. Event after event, it's just the same principal manifestations of human instinct that have been happening over and over and over again since humans first evolved into the world-plundering sweethearts we are.

Using media to learn the scant particulars of these latest manifestations accomplishes what? Mostly, I see that it helps us service our tribal instincts which is very detrimental to the evolution of consciousness that we, as a race, desperately require. Why do I say this? Because people read the news and immediately blame the badness in the world on the perpetrators of the day and feel all happy with themselves for being a good guy. And this, to me is complete crap.

I don't see the average newspaper reader as being any better than the average criminal. The average newspaper reader is committing harmful acts against the world and its inhabitants daily but most of those are socially approved and overlooked. The blame for these detrimental acts lies with the very same illusions of consciousness and the very same domination instincts which cause so-called criminals to commit so-called (non-society-approved) criminal offenses. The only difference I see between we and the villains-du-jour is circumstantial. Cause and effect have put them in a more dire cocktail of situations than we.

If you deny this by saying, "Hey, no way! If I was in that circumstance I would not have committed that act!" it is only because you do not grasp the all-pervasive and staggeringly incremental natures of cause and effect; a common and crippling human condition caused largely, I assume, by our completely false feeling that actions stem from conscious choices.

Here's my actual point: Reading the news, for most people, does not make them responsible. The key learning available from troubling news events can really only occur by looking at the behavior of the humans in front of our own face and by looking inward at our own personal susceptibilities to evil. Newspapers do nothing to encourage this. I personally work at this daily and I don't need arbitrary newspaper stories to make this happen. I already know what the human being is capable of. I know with fine clarity the whole morbid roster of it and I know there is no usefulness in blaming nations or individuals. The blame is right here in our DNA; yours and mine. We all need to evolve.

Who are you to condemn another's sin? He who condemns sin becomes part of it, espouses it.
- Georges Bernanos

Nothing can be more contemptible than to suppose Public Records to be true.
- William Blake

...You're watching television. You're watching the news. You're being pumped full of fear. There's floods. There's AIDS. There's murder. Cut to commercial. Buy the Acura. Buy the Colgate. If you have bad breath they're not going to talk to you. If you have pimples the girl's not going to fuck you. It's a campaign of fear and consumption and that's what I think it's all based on, is the whole idea: Keep everyone afraid and they'll consume.
- Marilyn Manson

I laugh for the newsprint nightmare; A world that never was, where the questions are all 'why', and the answers are all 'because'.
- Bruce Cockburn


Monday, February 06, 2012

Obi Wan, You're my only hope!

I'm straddling residences for a couple weeks while Pan vacations leaving two psychotic Dobermanns in my care. Juggling core possessions gets tricky. Got separated from my coffee pot (oh and my toothpaste too. Don't get too close). Thus I stopped at the Evil Tim Horton's Empire on the way to my Sunday night security gig at the Big Empty Warehouse for to buy me some drive thru coffees.

I dodge an array of extraneous curbs and roll up to the Squawk Box.

Storm Trouperette: Welcome to Tim Hortons... [evil empire]... How may I help you?

Moi: Hi, I'd like a large coffee with double cream please, and another large coffee with double cream and two sweeteners please.

Storm Trouperette: Sorry, double cream in the second one as well?

Moi: Yes please and two sweetener.

Storm Trouperette: Anything else?

Moi: No thanks.

Storm Trouperette: That'll be three fifty-nine. Please have your money ready at the window!

Puzzled, I mosey forward to the window of doom, lowering my own drivers door window as I go. The window of doom slides open as I dig out my wallet.

Storm Trouperette: Three fifty-nine.

Moi, cheerfully and polite: You know, it's kind of hard to fiddle with money while driving a car at the same time.

I pull out a fiver and surrender it.

Storm Trouperette: Well, most people have their money ready before they get to the window!


[Editor's Note: She didn't say any of that.]

I know! But it was implied! It was in her eyes! Her dull
soulless Imperial eyes!

[Editor's Note: Whatever.]

So what am I supposed to do? I don't order the same thing at Tim Hortons regularly. I don't have their prices memorized and I'm not a human calculator. I usually pay with coins which must be wrestled from my front pocket.

I don't want to get Tatoonie all blowed up. Am I supposed to order and then remain at the squawk box getting my coins together while the driver behind me pulls his hair out or do I fish my money out while coasting forward and probably driving into the car in front of me or veering into a wall?

Or should I make the window lady wait for five to ten seconds while I put my coins together with the auto safely in park and risk having her dine on my cranium as punishment for making her wait?

I'm at a loss. What is the appropriate pop culture/matrix thing to do? Please help.


"Hurry up! Where's your money!"