Saturday, December 15, 2007

i am here where the rugged coastline of california gets most rugged - big sur. that sounded more like a bumper sticker than i wanted it to but it is still descriptive. i have been alone here in paradise for the last five days but today i am picking up my bride who will be joining me for the next two weeks. due to the generosity of a friend (who lends us his house here) this has become a yearly ritual for us. we stay here well hidden from all things christmas until after humanity has finished moving over all our malls like locust. i prefer the shine of the light of venus like moonlight on the pre-dawn ocean, standing in close company with two beautiful juvenile deer (yesterday morning) or following a wildcat down the trail in front of me (this morning). i thought i would stop here outside the river inn market for a quick free wifi hookup, to give you all a heads up and all my best to you and yours through the holidays. i hope you can make them as much your own as i have been able to. duty calls. monterey airport. peace during wartime.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

this is where i spent last weekend. in this particular room. set designed by a really talented woman named hilary gurtler. she took a bleak plain white room and transformed it into a more cinematic bleak colorful room. both versions give one an existential chill. in fact, the whole place kept giving me the existential chills. the 'green spot hotel' in victorville. we kept referring to it as the brown spot hotel, both because the building surrounds a barren patch of vacant lot and because of the more obvious scatological implications. we were shooting a short film that is based on a character that presented himself to me through three songs on 'help wanted'. hopefully we will be producing a short film that has elements from the record. we find out what we have this week. the director is putting together a rough edit and will then give me a call. i hope it winds up watchable. will keep you posted.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

two of my latest obsessions. annie clark and alex ross. they are here related because, aside from my obsession with both, in looking at annie clarks blog i was reminded that i am supposed to include photos on this blog of mine. so i started with a quick phone pic of the book im consumed by: "the rest is noise; listening to the twentieth century". its a history of 20th century 'classical' music written by a guy who writes for the new yorker so it is not written by an academic. his writing is flawless and flows. great read.

annie clark plays under the nom de plume "st. vincent". she has made a remarkable cd but it is this bare version of the song 'paris is burning' that i keep returning to.

Friday, November 09, 2007

i seem to be falling into a sort of rhythm with this blog. if i am posting, i am posting. if i dont post for a while, it then becomes difficult for me to post anything because i feel a need to find something really worth talking to you all about. i know this is antithetical to blog culture. so in lieu of the fact that i dont have anything important to say i will instead share this with you. there is a series of them; 'jake e. lee shreds', 'carlos santana shreds', etc. i am sure that most of you have seen this. if you are here it means you are connected to both web and music culture. but just in case there are some who havent seen these. this is a series of youtube pieces where someone took rock footage and replaced the audio. its quite well executed. parody approaching high art. seems like someone could do a semiotics thesis on this stuff. rock on.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

listening to kcrw's 'left, right & center' from last week, they mentioned how reactionary the blogosphere is. this reminded me of a great article i read in wired magazine, from the early nineties, by a guy named paul saffo. he mentioned that the whole idea of objectivity in the press was born from newspaper publishers. wanting to increase readership they tried to print news that would appeal to everyone without pissing off anyone. in other words, there should be no point of view. no real assertion that this is what a journalist thinks the truth is; even though things might appear differently. now, there is an objectivity that we should aspire to and that is that we should, on a personal level, aspire to remove any bias or predjudice, anything that will cloud our judgement as we look for the truth of a situation. but after doing this to the best of our ability, ultimately, we must make a call. we must put all the information together and say, "this is what i think is going on". that means not always presenting both sides of a given issue equally. i constantly hear reports that misrepresent the facts of a situation by presenting both sides. when you present both sides, it implies that the issue is split. if the headline reads, "human beings do not jump into the shark tank at sea world" then at a point in the article you bring in a representative from an organization that like to jump into shark tanks, then we will infer that some folks like to do it and some dont; like some like chocolate and others like vanilla. the vast majority of human beings might feel one way but that important fact is lost in the 'even' reporting.

so all this safe lack of opinion, lack of point of view, created a void that blogging could step in and fill. if we err on the side of having an opinion and being fuzzy on background then so be it. if you want to check the facts of a story you hear or read, you have the internet. meanwhile we are going to have a point of view. im not sure about mr. saffos take on 19th century journalism, i havent done my own fact checking. in fact this whole post may be just plain wrong. but this is what i think is going on. conversation begins with a point of view. this is the truth we need to begin. if i am wrong you will tell me. blog on.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

i want to take a moment to preach here. a moment in defense of something that has been relegated to obscurity; truth. as in telling the truth. from the interpersonal or private level to the biggest and most public level i am so tired of listening to people lie or dealing with folks that want to be lied to. on the personal level, this is epidemic in my native psycho-astrological-channeler-guru-hooey california, people that would rather hear nice news than the actual news of their life. my wife has shown me the difference between time spent telling someone what they want to hear and time spent telling someone the truth. the difference is so vast that i couldnt even begin to list differences here. the other night, i told her that i consider my ability to hear uncomfortable truths about myself to be an achievement in my life. i am a sensitive person. criticism hurt my feelings so i would react emotionally to it. i decided some years ago that i wanted to get better at hearing criticism. i made a conscious decision to do so because i knew that sometimes the truth fucking hurts and you have to accomodate yourself to it, in order for it to stop hurting long enough, to be able to decide what to do about it.

on a bigger level, and here one cant help but think of our bonnie king george II, i am tired of having to listen to folks who talk about 'values' all the time while also talking about not being able to tell the truth because it emboldens the terrorists or it is unsupportive of the troops. the latter being a particular peeve of mine. i think if someone is in the trenches, dealing with life and death on a daily basis, they are smack dab in the middle of some of the ugliest truth possible. they do not need to be coddled and told fairy tales like children, that is both condescending and cynical. give them the respect they deserve. they can handle the truth. sometimes the truth fucking hurts and you have to accomodate yourself to it, in order for it to stop hurting long enough, to be better able to decide what to do about it.

if brown did a bad job heading fema during the new orleans disaster, he doesnt need an 'attaboy', he doesnt need his buddy george telling him "nice job brownie". he needs a figuritive kick in the ass because he is fucking up and folks are dying. heavy hangs the head that wears the crown. if he cant do his job without hearing, and more importantly being able to learn from, criticism then he doesnt belong in that job. i will say it again for emphasis, sometimes the truth fucking hurts and you have to accomodate yourself to it, in order for it to stop hurting long enough, to be better able to decide what to do about it. period. end of sermon. have a nice day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

hello people. i have allowed a trip to nyc to turn into a month without a blog post. trip was good. stayed with a friend who is a member of a family of art dealers. her apartment has phenomenal art on the walls; matthew barney, gregory crewdson, even andy warhol. pretty thrilling stuff to live with.

just sent off an email to my lawyer, the planets best lawyer by the way, about the 11th hour soundtrack. it seems there is going to be one. every time i deal with the big machine, ill tell you, i feel less and less sympathy for the demise of the industry. i know that there is deceit and corruption in small companies as well but from my experience, big companies are fat, bullying and wasteful and they do their business according to precedent. in other words, they look at doing things the way they have been done. often times only because that is the way it has always been done. this is where dogma meets commerce. no wonder they are failing. they bring muscle to situations that ask for imagination or creativity. it has been a theme on this blog before, and im sure it will be again, but i am ok with consumers sending the big 'fuck you' that they have sent and are continuing to send. it is working. the big boys are scared and confused. which means that us 'middle class' artists have to take a hit, with some loss in music sales. but at least it is a hit taken for what i believe is a greater good.

good to be back.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the director of 11th hour asked me to ask you all that, if you plan to see the film, getting out to see it this first week would be really helpful. an unfortunate reality in the distribution and marketing of films, and cds for that matter, is that it is all about the opening week. how many folks see it in that first week can make or break a film or cd. herd mentality? yes. unfortunate reality? probably.

also for those in the l.a. area, i am doing steve jones radio program, on 103.1, with the two directors of 11th hour today (wednesday) sometime between 12-2pm. they also replay his segment at 6pm. and for you all outside radio range you can listen here on the web.

Friday, August 10, 2007

for those you interested in my former band polarbear, i finally got my shit together and put the 'why something instead of nothing' record up at to purchase for download. there are also two songs we did with the super talented producer rich costey called 'satellites' and 'superzero' that only a few inner sanctum peeps had previously heard.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

after watching the latest installment of the '7 up' documentary series last night i am reminded of something i was thinking about the other day as i pondered the rock egomania i have encountered in my life. for those of you unfamiliar with the '7 up' series, it is a series of docs about a group of people whose lives have been chronicled every seven years; starting at age seven then fourteen, twenty-one etc. with the current one being '49 up'. it is a nuanced and complicated portrait of human life. which brings me to the rock egos. let me start by saying that what follows is NOT about perry farell. he doesnt fit this category. but i have personally experienced this syndrome most often, but not exclusively, with lead singers. now i know that i am smarter than the average bear. and when i was younger i got alot of info from the world that supported that notion. it is easy to stand out in the rock world if you are interested in educating yourself and reading etc. but thankfully, i have had the good fortune to spend a good deal of my lifetime not being the smartest guy in the room. and not only has that made my life richer, but it has kept me aware of the limits of my brain. what i have often seen is reasonably bright people get a crazy amount of success, and believe that it was their special power that brought them that success; they are smarter than... or more creative than...etc. but at the same time there is a part of them that knows they are not as powerful as they pretend. and that is where they operate from. their power must remain unchallenged for them to continue to rely on this frail self image and so you see them remove anyone who might be considered an equal. so often their best 'friends' are their make up person or their videographer; obsequious and often on the payroll but always powerless and unchallenging. people who are willing to eat it when the boy-king (or queen) needs to re-assure himself of his power by intimidating his lesser companions or having a tantrum. his world view is therefore able to get more warped and further removed from reality with no one to help inform him of this distance and, of course, no one to blame but himself. life doles out hard lessons to almost everyone. during those times, some of us learn some difficult truths about ourselves and our world while some just insulate themselves more and more from those truths and instead choose to fire their friends.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

years ago, as in many moons ago, i saw a post by a brilliant woman. it was on an early internet forum called' the well'. i dont remember her name but i always watched for her because she had a tendency to startle me with bright ideas. these ideas often came in mundane packages. they came in the conversational tone of people having an online chat complete with the requisite typos. one of her little quips that is still with me is: civilization is hypocrisy. it is one of those really great subversive ideas that you initially recognize as being special in some way, worth saving, but you dont yet recognize the power of it until you watch it work on you for a while. it starts to infect your world view. it starts to appear everywhere. from the kabuki theater of politics to the moment in the grocery store when you are stopped, looking at the carnage that is glossed over in the pork chops weve packaged under neat little plastic wrapping. we enjoy our moral superiority over paris hilton while we follow her every move. but before you start to misunderstand me, before you start thinking that i sound preachy, let me first say that i havent found this information about civilization to be an idea that makes me feel morally superior. instead i find that, as truth often does, it frees me. it is difficult to feel outrage and easier to feel understanding when i am reminded that civilization is hypocrisy. there is a core misunderstanding of my own personal hypocrisy underneath almost all of my moments of righteous indignation and moral superiority. i am just another monkey trying to make his way through the world, making calls the best i can and susceptible to all the confirmation bias, fear, and good old fashioned stupidity that tarnishes all our decisions. wow. coffee moment. just had that moment of awareness that the caffeine has been speaking through me again. blah blah. i could go on and on but i wont because my wife wants me now. we are off to a farmers market and then a serious consideration of the deepest of todays deep thoughts: to iphone or not to iphone? dweeb on.

Friday, June 22, 2007

in that random way my life works, i was settling into an evening of making myself dinner and doing some chess tutorials solo (wife was out of town), when i got a call from my friend taylor hawkins. he told me the foos were playing a little show at a small club in the valley. so an hour or two later i was standing in the crowd of a small club. it was very cool. its always special to see a band that has been touring and is battle hardened play a small club gig. it really gives a sense of scale to both their success and their ability. to see them in a little spot, where we all started, is to see an uncontainable force trying to be restricted into a tiny space; stuffing lightning into a shoebox. that tension makes for a perfect rock show. rock music should be difficult to contain. so little of it is these days it seems.

Monday, June 04, 2007

in my internet meandering today i came upon a site for the sasquatch music festival, which, by the way, had a lineup that looks tempting enough that even i , with my considerable disdain for the crowd factor of those things, might make it to. but this site lead me to an arcade fire site where i saw 'journal' entries by some of the band members. in one, win recommends an orwell essay which reminded me of my favorite orwell essay. i hadnt read it in years, not since we began the debacle in iraq so i looked it up on the net. as i remembered it, i thought it would speak to us americans and what we are doing over there because it is about one of the corrupting influences of imperialism. a sickness that cripples the oppressor more than the oppressed. so i just reread it and it has all the candor, directness and power that i remember. i find it heart breaking on many levels. it is called 'shooting an elephant'.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

my friend andrew sent this to me:

"sometimes you are at your computer and want to send an email to someone's cell phone, but don't want to deal with going to your cell phone and text-ing them, and don't know what the email address of their phone is.

Just send an email to [phonenumber], so to email a phone, for instance,

It works for any cell phone, any phone number."

thought i would pass it on.

Monday, May 21, 2007

im here at henson studios. ground hallowed by many creative hours and many cool artists but in my estimation the coolest and oldest is charlie chaplin. my friend taylor walked me over on the cell phone to where you can still see charlies footsteps in the cement. no plaque or anything. just barely visible and therefore sort of ghostly. they turn out in that distinctive chaplin waddle. good stuff.

listening to playback. billy bush has made the new track, 'unexploded', sound great. stoked.

Friday, May 11, 2007

DICK cheney is at it again. this time on an aircraft carrier making threats toward iran. it seems to me that we need some new players representing us on the world stage. the members of king george II's court cant help but look foolish; or to paraphrase john stewart, the bush administration cant do anything at this point that doesnt seem ironic.

going into the studio today to finish up a new song and do some fixits (laying in some more taylor hawkins drumming). the remarkable engineer billy bush got us a couple of days at the old a&m, now henson, studios on the semi-down low. its good to have friends in high places. we worked yesterday and will again today. the studio is absolutely fucking perfect. the right amount scruffy character and then also, of course, it has all the great gadgets as well. the enormous kermit the frog on the outside aside, it has a great vibe. and i do mean 'vibe'. very seventies. i wish i could always work under such circumstances. well i get to today. im off.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

been in a small town in mexico. there is only one atm and you cannot use a credit card. this is a small town. while down there i read my latest wired magazine, one of my favorites (up there with 'new scientist'), the one with the 2007 rave awards results. these are peeps that wired thinks have distinguished themselves as innovators in different categories; gaming, films,industrial design, etc. one of these people is henry louis gates jr. he is an intersting guy. he is someone who always seems to have interesting things to say about race in america. he is being recognized here for doing a program in inner city schools that involves letting minority kids study science through their own dna and genealogy. so inspired. if more people figured out ways to make learning come alive in a personal way like this then we might be less likely to be duped into having the contempt for science that we seem to have these days. and i personally might have been able to stay interested enough in high school to have graduated. who knows.

but im back home now. my skin is a slight shade darker, i am reasonably well rested and i am ready to get back at it. finish and deliver 'help wanted' to dangerbird this month. the doc '11th hour', that i did some music for, is on its way to cannes film festival. i have some friends in need of some love and support who are struggling to stay alive. one of our two loved cats died. i am a year older. all of this leaves me humbled and aware that this life is temprorary rich complex and ultimately interesting and beautiful. or as lou reed put it more succinctly, 'lifes good, but not fair at all'.

thanks for all the happy birthday wishes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

i asked belle for her thoughts about the making of the cd and this is what she wrote:

where to begin?
eric has never considered himself a musician. always operating with a different set of rules than the rest of us. he lives music every day. almost constant noise in one form or another. guitar, piano, never bass. never.

polarbear was an experiment in complicated noise-making. layer upon layer. I remember people were amazed by the integration of a laptop in the live shows. put off even.

polarbear was mostly about people realizing that eric was not who they thought he was. he was interested in making things difficult. dismantling song structure. pushing the technology.

help wanted grew out of a different process. it was written on the guitar. in fact his renewed interest in guitar was sparked by persuading him to play a cover (a cat stevens song as a present for a friend's daughter). it was clear that he was not happy about the idea. until that point I never ever heard him play a cover.

I think e was reminded that day to take another look at the genius of other people's work. leonard cohen. pink floyd. lots of pink floyd. in particular the pure genius of roger waters poetry (one of the few musicians e considers a real poet, as opposed to a great song-writer). by always looking forward he had forgotten to look back.

suddenly e was writing songs on the guitar that sounded like songs. help wanted grew out of his curiosity about that process. unconventional as always, he had somehow worked his way backwards to the place that most people start from.

process is always very much in evidence in eric's work. in music as in his life, nothing is hidden. he has a deep appreciation of the happy coincidence and of the beauty of imperfection. he is endlessly curious about everything (as you might have noticed).


I should mention that we got a piano about six months ago. if you have a chance to see the 11th hour documentary, you will see what I am talking about...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

big thanks for all the enthusiastic responses. to answer the repeated question, i will probably be playing some shows, webcast maybe or some such. but it does not look like i will be doing any extensive touring. i will of course keep you posted here and again i thank you all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

IT has happened.

Friday, March 23, 2007

still toasty from a 10 am to 7 am work burst on the doc score. im still bored of me and my opinions but i did find a cool fifteen minute talk given by michael shermer, the leader of the skeptic society, i thought i would share. what will be of particular interest to you music folk is near the end he does an interesting demo about our perceptions of rock music being played backwards and our ability to hear hidden messages. this was a big deal, when i was a kid, with all the 'rock is the devils music' types. of course his talk has good information as well but if you dont normally consider yourself the dweeby thoughtful type, it is entertaining and its only fifteen minutes long. Check it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

i missed david bowie. having loved bowie so much as a kid, but hearing his hits placed so often in commercials etc., i wondered if i had lost my love. so i had the idea that i would create a playilist of all the songs that havent been overplayed or overused from records that i didnt listen to as much as a kid. i listened to bowie before i was old enough to know how cool he was; also listening to styx, kiss and elton john singing with kiki dee at the time. but my best friends father was a famous guitarist named gabor szabo and he introduced me to bowie. i was maybe 11 years old? but i digress, back to the bowie playlist, basically i saw making a playlist of deepcuts as a way to sort of rediscover an artist i know well and loved once. got me thinking that artists deep cuts have always been what gave an artist a depth to their fan base; devotion. but some of that went away with the focus on singles, or i should say refocus on singles (pop started that way after all). the music biz furthered their own demise along more quickly with this fixation on singles, which fit in nicely to the early small bandwith download culture of the late nineties. not enough bandwith yet to download an entire cd but enough to make pirating a single song doable. and if you repeatedly dupe us into buying expensive cds with only one good song, while bandwith starts going broadband and digital copy ability/internet distribution makes downloading copies of songs easier and easier, you have a recipe for the disaster the major labels find themselves in. tough to feel bad for them. the enormous vacuum they left is being filled piecemeal by lots of smaller and exceedingly more interesting businesses and models. i will watch it continue to unfold to the tune of 'memories of a free festival'. the sun machine is coming down and we're gonna have a party.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

hello my friends. i know i have been remiss in my blogging duties. partly due to the fact that i was unable to get onto for what i believed was a blogger problem. it turned out it was something i have never encountered on my own end. fascinating stuff, i know. but i have been busy. mostly busy writing some music for a friends documentary called the 11th hour. interesting stuff about environment, greed and renewable strategies. i am doing half of the score and a much more musically qualified french composer named jean pascal beintus is doing the other half. i also took some pix the other day in venice for a forthcoming announcement about my solo cd.

that is all for now. im off to help a friend celebrate his 40th birthday.

found a great quick read. some succinct answers for all the annoying times ive had to endure hearing people, including our president, speak of science as something you believe in, 'scientism', like any other religion. its a little essay by phil plait, the bad astronomer.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

one of the drawbacks of getting your ideas form television is that you have to get your ideas in small enough chunks to fit between commercial breaks. noam chomsky pointed this out in the film 'manufacturing consent'. any truly different idea, that completely overturns what you have come to believe, sounds like nonsense on a chat show (btw, although put forth this way, this doesnt entirely justify every time chomsky has sounded like nonsense to me). because any topic is generally built on a bunch of assumptions that everyone in the discussion agrees on, if you question those assumptions then the whole conversation breaks down, complicates in a way that wont fit between commercial spots, and the one questioning the assumptions generally looks like a freak - like he doesnt play well with others. im thinking of all this because this morning on my way to get a cup of coffee i was listening to the skepticsguide podcast. good episode by the way. interviews with matt stone and christopher hitchens. but they were talking about this article. The short version is parents arent using medicine on their childs brain tumor and instead are putting their faith in a 'psychic healer'. they brought up the fact that there exists, in 41 of the fifty states, laws that make parents exempt from child endangerment prosecution if the treatment of the child is based on religious beliefs. they said that these are laws that need to be looked at and discussed in the public sphere. now, the reason i was prompted to write this was that the next thought that came to me was, 'now is not the time to have this discussion'. this country does not seem capable of a reasonable discussion about any difficult or nuanced topic right now. i think this is beginning to change but the change is happening slowly. we are rolling the big wheel over into a more tolerant time. it is my hope. i cite the recent 'obama-mania' is an example of peoples desire for a return to reasonable dialogue. i think we are tired of cartoon representations of complicated topics and he represents that. it is a long road to the white house but he does seem to be doing well right now as a representation of things reasonably considered. in contrast, i am personally concerned that i have gotten emotionally caught up in my outrage alot lately. it has made me enjoy too much my righteous indignation. when i make simple and broad claims about 'how things really are...' or 'how so-and-so really is...' then i am in dangerous spiritual territory. or put another way, i am becoming less effective. being 'right' feels good. its easy. not being sure but putting forth your best considered solution is much more difficult. uncomfortable. but it is my belief that nothing, nothing is ever black and white. all is a shade of grey. when i begin to look for the nuance is when i begin to approximate the truth.

Monday, February 12, 2007

good morning. had my coffee this morning with a tivoed 'meet the press'. during a commercial break, that i was fast forwarding through, i spotted dennis hopper. i wondered what product he might be peddling. he is talking about his dreams and youth yada yada. it turns out he was peddling some financial investment company. i recently went to an event at something that was referred to as 'artist loft spaces' in marina del rey. hopper was one of a few artists that were described as being artists-in-residence at these lofts. turned out these were carpeted condos and hopper was the evenings window dressing, the hand model. now im a reasonable man and i understand needing to make a buck. if you are an artist this is a tricky, shifty and always changing public tight rope you need to walk. we all have rents and mortgages but what i wonder is, in the dense thicket of 'edgy' media and advertising, when does an artist stop being an effective salesman of something that by definiton is not about sales. it seems like each time out, when you put your product next to a particular piece of art or artist, a direct relationship is created that we all recognize. there is a simple formula to this relationship with a zero sum. mojo of hoppers distant past is decreased while the mojo of financial company is increased. led zeppelin music mojo is decreased while increasing cadillacs mojo. but after these exchanges, one does not move on with the original amount of mojo intact. we can make a living and make compromises, because i know life is messy, but why not apply some reasonable ethics to your business affairs. i have made plenty of decisions that were certainly a compromise for financial reasons. but i also could have made considerably more money had i simply taken every big pay day offered. i dont say all this to pat myself on the back. it is just that i feel a sense of balance in this area. like evrything else in life, all is not black and white. i would feel like a real asshole is if i was using my youthful rebellion to sell some evil corporate deathburger. but hey maybe thats just me. or that just might be my intellectual vanity. but then that would be a topic for another post.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

every year on super bowl sunday there is a thought that occurs at least once, "i want to write a song about super bowl sunday". i never watch the super bowl. this idea comes to me every year as i spend an afternoon in a nearly uninhabited city, while everyone else watches their televisions. it is a particular space that i really enjoy. something beautiful about an empty city; like walking through an abandoned worlds fair. i am reminded as i happily move through this stillness that i have never felt like i was built like most folks. from the get-go my wiring dictated that i spend my time away from, rather than amongst, the herd. talking with belle over breakfast, there was a late teen/early twenties kid at the next table, alone on a series of different but uninterrupted phone calls. talked with the phone almost a foot away from his face. always curious to me. he was talking about betting on the super bowl. couldnt help but hear. now let me first say that there were a few things he said that betrayed he was a decent kid. but the substance of his conversations could at best be called inane. i began to think about my inane youth and about my nephew. hes four months old. how will he deal with the unforgiving gauntlet of youth. come his teens will he feel awkward and out of place as i did. if not, good for him of course. but i did think that it seems like my strategy might not have been such a bad one. you are suddenly hit with a tsunami of hormones while simultaneously realizing your parents and any authority figures in your life are full of shit; but you havent yet got the life experience to fully fill out your own world view. why not just lay low for a bit while the dust settles. learn a thing or two about the world on the down low then emerge an interesting young adult. if you are a young person, or feel love for a young person, who doesnt seem to have the herd instinct that most folk have, i hope to buoy you up a bit. i know that one of the most unbearable aspects of my youth was that people constantly told me that i was in the prime of my life. youth is everything. if youth was everything then i had nothing and there was nothing but worse coming? the most important thing that my mother ever told me was that her life didnt get good until her twenties. that was the only time i had ever heard someone say anything like that. i couldnt agree more. contemporary america doesnt really value aging but i do. for all of youths vigor there is also ignorance and self absorption. as a wise man once said," you dont often get anything in life. you only trade one thing for another." i for one am happy to trade in what i had for what i am getting from aging. so there. another super bowl sunday and i didnt write the song but at least this year i wrote something.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

last weekend, belle and i went to see a performance by the kronos quartet at ucla. the show has been resonating with me all week. really inspiring show. the most fascinating piece of music was the first one of the night written by j.g. thirlwell (better known to most of us as 'foetus'). it hasnt been recorded yet but it is one i am going to keep my ears open for. its called 'nomatophobis'. really difficult listening music. i told my wife that i thought kronos were smart to begin the evening with it because it took full concentration to get anything out of it. if it had been later in the evening it would have been difficult to give it the full attention it deserved. which made me think again about the role of music in our lives currently. it was such a rewarding evening of music because the quality was so high and it had my full focus for almost two hours. that combination is increasingly rare in our world. i so rarely listen to music like i did some years ago. it is the background sound while i check for emailsmstextgooglesearchpornimwikidvdhdvoicemails (ha that just made me check my phone for new email). at some point i learned, and this applies to everything, good food, film, etc. that the things in my life that have enduring power, took some time for me to initially appreciate. things that are catchy are generally ephemeral. i have come to believe this so completely that i have begun to recognize things that i 'like' differently. i have begun to get better at recognizing that something, here its music, has a quality that is initially intriguing and not necessarily overwhelmingly seductive to me. that recognition is subtle and not always reliable but i have found it to be a much more interesting compass. i have called that more subtle lingering charm the 'resonance factor'. will the movie i saw come to mind in a daydream a week later, for example. not everything has to have this deep significance, of course. fun and sparkling charms are great to litter ones day with as well but that is easy and they take care of themselves. i have to put a little effort and focus into something that i might find initially difficult, weird or, heaven forbid, boring. instead of a constant cycle of sugar high and a sugar crash i need some things to endure. at least a little.

the rest of the evening was michael gordons 'potassium' also beautiful and unrecorded. two traditional songs from iran and iraq that were good too. clint mansells music from 'requiem for a dream'. i almost always like clints movie music. a piece by matmos who i always find have a very clever process for producing music that i found ultimately unsatisfying. and the show, pre encore, ended with a piece by einsturzende neubauten who, among flipper and others, was some of the music i listened to as a boy. i liked being contrarian then but i can see now that was also the beginning of being able to recognize that there might be something beautiful in something initially repulsive.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

sports it seems has always been the working class mans theatre. a way for people not artistically inclined to watch their beliefs and mores played out on a stage. analogous to their struggle and the competition of living. if living is competition. we seem to belive that in america anyway. so its sort of a perfect analogy for an imperfect world view. all this sets up tonights analagous sports observation. i am a fan, unfortunately, of los angeles' hockey team. i know a considerable amount more than i should about them. they are an awful team this year. awful. the general manager of the team every year has something called 'breakfast with the gm'. he meets with season seat holders and fields their questions. i was not there but read a report on the net. the season seat folks were pretty upset. did i mention the team is awful? awful. so the gm starts addressing their concerns about the state of affairs, including some of the big mistakes that he is responsible for himself. can you see where this is going? i hear the reasons why he made the decisions he made. he takes responsibilty for bad calls. talks about what he is going to do and what he is going to try doing with candor and authenticity. i dont always agree. but his forthrightness and leadership are convincing of his qualification for the job. he has assessed the situations well with some wisdom and clarity and plans to continue in the direction he was going in with appropriate adjustments. ok i know this is getting obvious. i thought of our stubborn monarch, king george bush ll. he is a man (i use the term loosely here) that has always made a big show of being a leader. the author of the phrase, "i am the decider". i think it was shakespeare that said,"methinks he doth protest too much". if you have to keep reminding people that you are the leader then i would suggest that you are not leading. during his entire reign he has operated with the belief that we did not need to know what he was doing or why he was doing it. he has created what jon stewart aptly called the most complete "catastrofuck" in iraq. it has gone so completely wrong it is almost perfect. he has now retreated into a tall tower that he shouts from the top of, alone; rice and cheney notwithstanding. by keeping everyone shut out and now being isolated, he has given no human being any faith in his decision making ability. speaking with my wife, raised in england, we talked about how much all of us (houses of congress now included) sound like we are talking about a king. we all talk about not being able to change his mind. we wont be able to stop him from playing his godforsaken (evidently right?) war. he is the stubborn boy-king of old english monarchy. awful.

Friday, January 12, 2007

its strange to spend so much time thinking about being an american. i traditionally havent spent much time on the subject. it is amazing what effect the debacle of our current presidency has had on us. i have very little experience in the realm of feeling patriotic. i can remember wandering around the monuments of washington dc in the middle of the night (they are all quite well lit at night) on tour back in the janes days. i was moved, as intended, by the enormity of the accomplishment of these men in crafting this american political experiment. that is the only really emotional experience of patriotism i remember having. i find this feeling generally hard to come by for a number of reasons. most recently, i have allowed other people, the wrong people (from both the left and right of me i should add), to define america for me. when i hear americans like susan jacoby speak about america i can recognize the beauty of the acclomplishment we are all a part of. beauty that is of course complicated. what, that is true, isnt? as she spoke about the intentions of our founding fathers to keep a division between church state i felt stirrings of patriotism. these men all believed in god. most were christians. they were wise enough, and susan mentions that the last person executed in france for blasphemy was twenty years before they drafted the constitution, to know that church being seperate from state meant there would be a better chance for true freedom. this is inspired. i know all the usual and cynical complaints about this stuff. they have been dogging my every word as ive written this. i was a teenge punk rocker for a second after all. but cynical criticism is often mistaken for good solid skeptical reasoning. and without noticing, this cynicism can become a refuge that keeps one safe, 'right', and for me at least, ultimately unsatisfied.

in an unrelated story, i am aware of the fact that you are all more interested in music news than in my broader human blathering. fair enough. i am a musician after all. so on that front, negotiations have officially begun with a company about finding a home for my solo stuff. lawyers are talking to lawyers.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007. hello all. we are returned from paradise. must report that there is at least one place left where peace still exists. you know i had this little rant written about this that i found at steven johnsons blog. but i decided to delete it because why start off the new year with the same old crazily fucking absurd story. right?

instead i will start with the cheery winter story of the donner party. i watched a dvd from the american experience doc series. beautifully done by the brother (?) of ken burns, he of the epic civil war documentary. very much in the ken burns style. but anyway, i digress. the point of all that is to get to alexis de tocqueville. the documentary begins with a quote by him. he continues to amaze me. i will really sit down and read him one day when i grow up. but for now i will continue to marvel at his insight into america and americans in the little snippets i find littered throughout our culture. he made these observations in the 1800's no less. the 1800's. this particular quote is not only appropriate to the doomed donner partys decision to find 'the shortest route' to california, but is also, i think, appropriate to the holiday season and the crazy wake of shopping that follows. it sums up eloquently a major theme in my work, in my spiritual struggle and in our collective and unexamined dreams. have at it.

"it is odd to watch with what feverish ardour americans pursue prosperity, ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. they cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach, as if they expected to stop living before they had relished them. death steps in, in the end, and stops them, before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them." -alexis de tocqueville