Thursday, November 30, 2006

ive been tweeking on this symposium all week. discussions of god vs. science by some of the heavies; dawkins, ramachandran et al. i know most folk dont have the inclination for three days worth of discussion but i thought that i would put up a link of one two hour segment that is especially dramatic and well argued. both sides were a little better represented here. otherwise the conference has been pretty biased toward science. which i of course enjoyed because of the unusually large anti-religous resentment i have been carrying around recently. unlike in my youth, i now generally try to keep my feelings about religiosity to myself. but then again that is usually much easier to do. if it interests you then there is lots more to see at the symposiums main site.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

today i am reminded of the fact that i have always had an escapist relationship to reality. i remember riding in the back of my parents car hoping that aliens would come take me to their planet. after reading the chronicles of narnia i remember pushing through the hanging clothes of my grandmothers armoire looking for a portal. i wondered when i wandered any forest if i would be able to find bag end. could it be somewhere under the ground of this world? then age twelve and thirteen i discovered lsd and mushrooms and began searching around in the inner world of the expanded mind. there was a line of connected electricity to all these explorations that were a lusty search for a reality that was more interesting to me than the one i dealt with everyday. add to this that i was a shy and uncomfortable kid who was always ill at ease around other folks. this same spirit has changed its superficial look but remains with me to this day. i find the usual life unsatisfying. i get restless with the usual choice between lifes little contests (money, tv size, freeway traffic battles) and the boredom of routine. i am still looking for the portals into more interesting worlds. but after being continually disappointed by the 'magical' ones, i now look to this world for escapes into wonder. there is plenty that is true that gives me this adventurous feeling. there is plenty that we dont know that is a rich source for wonder. the more i learn, the richer is my experience of our ignorance. i am glad to see that it seems that science is beginning to assert itself more vociferously into the public sphere. not just passively being used, when convenient, to 'support' some religious claim when it fits and then summarily dismissed as 'just another kind of religion' when it disputes a silly claim. i read a fascinating book some years ago about a conference held at m.i.t. on alien abductions. now i dont believe that little jawas are traveling millions of miles to earth because they are interested in getting a look up our asses. nor do i believe that they could navigate all that space only to blow it in the final mile and crash into new mexico. but people are really motivated about these ideas. that in itself is interesting to me, for example. i understand all too well the impulse to make this world more interesting. a world filled with ghosts, mind reading, gods who smite bad people, alien abduction and government conspiracies is more exciting than one without. but this world is infused with all sorts of more reliable wonders. and pursuit of the reliable ones doesnt have the darker side effect of increasing our gullibility, easy belief, and addiction to simple answers. these things that make a population easy to control.
oh yeah, by the way, in addition to caffiene this was all started by hearing about this guy.

Monday, November 27, 2006

the job of an artist is, at its most basic, a simple act of (as raymond carver put it) bringing the news from my world to yours. for many reasons we are all then able to find some sort of comfort in the fact that the world is seen by others as similar to or related to our own. we have a community of at least one other. i am reminded of this because we are now entering the gauntlet of the christmas holidays and this is a particular time of year when i see a world around me that seems very different from my own. i feel that i am beeing carried along by a large wave of crass christmas commercialism that is dictated by the markeplace to the tune of "little drummer boy". and every year i am visited by the brilliance of the film 'brazil'. there is a sequence in the film where a character is attacked in a mall and overcome by bits of christmas wrapping that are floating along the street. i am buoyed up by this image every year. i remember it and it gives me a small comfort that though it may seem it sometimes i am never really entirely alone.

in an unrelated story, a good one for the world full of wonder category, has anyone else seen this story about an elephant recognizing himself in a mirror. such great interesting creatures (social sophistication, funerals etc.) even before this latest news.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just looked at some photos that a friend of mine is showing here in hollywood and here on the web. the photographer is jennifer finch of L7 fame but i knew her before she was a rock star. There are pics from the very early eighties. Flea, keith morris, henry rollins and that ilk. There is one of yours truly, age 17, long before janes addiction was a glint in anyones eye. It is proof that i was once a truly unremarkable and pimply young man. When i looked at these i was again struck by the good fortune of my life. The fact that i can remember being that age and seeing a reproduction of an artwork called "barney's beanery" in an art history book. I saw that it was housed in a museum in amsterdam and i remember thinking ,"how in the fuck will i ever get to amsterdam." But when the circus came to town i was able to leave with it and i have been on an extraordinary ride from that moment forward. I have since seen enough different countries to leave me tired of it and grateful to be able to spend the last year here at home with my lovely wife. Speaking of which, fyi, there are two of my ex-girlfriends in the photos as well. Good stuff.

I actually did years later wind up stumbling across the barneys beanery installation at the museum of modern art in amsterdam. I had forgotten about the fact that it was there until the moment i saw it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

jesus. has it really been this long since my last post. i dont have anything to say right now. ive been sick so the only thing ive done for days, really, is watch television on the couch under a couple of cats. i can feel my mind atrophy. one thing, i thought id mention. i have written mostly about politics on this blog. this because of the intensity of that part of our american world these days. but from the way people have been posting, i thought it worth mentioning that i am happy to talk about anything musical. questions. thoughts. whatever. i am a musician. i am not a political pundit.

speaking of music, it looks like shirley manson and i (with some possible help from some friends) are going try to cover a lennon song for an amnesty international/darfur charity cd. spent another afternoon with her a couple of days ago. she really is the best woman in rock. i really appreciate people with a complicated world view. especially these days in the climate of easy answers and all the religious nonsense. it seems that thoughtful rationality has been in short supply. speaking of rational thought. found a really good podcast ive been listening to. its called skeptics guide to the universe. info at: has the intellectual rigor but is also really human and conversational. beats listening to mall punk radio music in traffic.

i hope i feel good enough tomorrow to head out to jpl for a lecture on black holes. should be interesting. wow. what a fucking ramble. shirley told me that, if i am going to do a blog, i have to be consistent. even if i have nothing to say. just say that i have nothing to say. so here it is. and was. nothing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

it is the eve of the election. if i was a man that believed in prayer, i would be praying alot. i would be praying that americans would use their last chance to send a message to the world that we all did not, and do not support our current administration. what we do on tuesday will be more closely watched, considered and debated everywhere outside the united states than it will be here. if we do not send a clear message to our government, and by extension to the world at large, then we will have missed an opportunity of huge proportion. if we do not take back houses of government, then we will in effect be saying (as we did with the bush re-election in '04), that we, the american people, approve of the violent and simplistic way that our government has been behaving. if we do not stop bush cold, if we then elect a more moderate conservative (like mccain) as our next president, we wil have given our approval, consistently, for eight (and then possibly twelve) years and in front of the eyes of the world, throughout this awful and important era. we will have lost many more hearts and minds, including our own. think. vote.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

i think that like most folk (especially american folk) i do not normally consider myself a political person. in more reasonable times i see the battle across the aisle of government being fought by two teams with remarkably similar styles and each representing lobbyist and special interest groups that i know very little about. this battle, in most years, is fought basically to a draw that looks more like kabuki theater than any real exchange of ideas. nothing drastic happens. certainly people dont die at the rate they are dying these days.
it is one of my core beliefs that the most effective and consistent way to help the world is to ask people to look at their lives through art. it is arts charm that makes it subversive. and i guess that there is a core optimism buried in here. because i also must believe that people, in general, are good. when we make rational decisions, with little intrusion from fear, we tend to make basically decent decisions. so how do we operate from that reasonable place. we enlighten ourselves and each other when we can.

when i heard recently that north korea was returning to multi-lateral talks, i thought i have to give bush props because he didnt cave and now l'il kim is returning to talks as bush predicted. if i am going to complain about the awful job our president is doing, i have to transcend my resentment of him to credit him when he does something right. if i dont do this then i lose my ability to be fair and i become a schoolyard name-caller with a schoolyard world view. in short i lose my soul and join the mob. it turned out my moment of transcendent generosity was short lived. now i know that a politicians life is a mix of trying to institute a sytem of government you believe in and another part playing a game you must figure out how to win; elections. this blend between ethics and gamesmanship is one of the more interesting things about politics. but as daniel schorr reported on npr here, beijing is reporting that bush sent someone to meet with north korea, one on one, to strike a deal to get l'il kim back to the multi-talks. things just seem to continue to be all games and no ethics at this point.

maybe after this election the democrats will win something back. some semblance of a balance of power will be re-established in government and my interest in politics can fade back to its pre-war levels. i wrote a song on my solo cd that is as close to a political song as i will probably ever write. its called "revolution (of no one)". it is about (amongst other things) the lack of a sixties style voice of dissent in this country. that our 'debate' seemed to have only one side arguing. hopefully, come nov. 7th, my song will be made irrelevant.