I was able to put 4 new songs from the last Sigur Ros album into the Legendary Sigur Ros Jukebox (to be found at the top of this page). If you haven't heard any of these yet, by all means give 'em a listen, especially "Festival".
It wasn't too long ago I was blogging about the move we had to make from the house we lost to the one we're in now. I haven't re-read it, but I'm sure it mentioned what a drag such an endeavor always is. The packing, the heavy lifting, the loading, the unloading, the unpacking, the settling in...what a litany of active boredom. I hate moving. I've done it too many times, I'm too old to want to do it.
And now, here we are again, only 4 months after the last one, we are making the move again. Hopefully this time will be a little bit easier than the last few. We're moving into a house that I actually really like, one that holds a lot of memories for me (good and bad, but MINE nonetheless). All three of us are thrilled to get Dad's house. I'm sure it will actually be fun to unload and set up house. I don't know if that's ever been the case before.
To ease the strain, we've hired a couple of movers. Neither Stacie or me are up to transporting extremely heavy items, as we learned all too well back in April. The hope is to get everything we can move by car to the house before these guys show up. Then they would only have to do only the stuff we absolutely could not, and maybe, just maybe they'll get it done within the 2 hour minimum that we're paying for.
We're making it a little easier on them as well...we bought brand new beds and living room furniture yesterday. The store's delivery people will take care of all that.
We spent $3500 at Marquis Furniture yesterday. I think that's more than I've ever spent anywhere on anything, not counting automobiles. But it's nice stuff. Sofa recliner, love seat recliner and rocking recliner...a really nice coffee table with matching end table...It's going to be a great living room once we get some drapes. As for the beds...Stacie and I have never owned anything bigger than a Queen size bed. It's plenty big enough, I think we'd both agree...but what the hell, right? Might as well indulge. Got a brand new King size comin' Monday. Bryan is stepping up from a twin to a full size, so you know he's got to be happy about that (you know, I had nothing but a twin bed until several months after marrying my first wife...that's right, the two of us slept in a twin bed for a long time. Don't ask me how we did it...I have no idea).
To change the subject, I have become addicted to Mahjongg. Bryan showed me how it was played. I took some time to get familiar with the symbols on the tiles and I'm getting better with every game. I've got a game program that includes 20 or 30 Mahjongg designs and I'm working through each one of them. I'm sure I'll eventually order a disc that's made up of nothing but Mahjongg games. Yes, it is a "waster of time", but then again, it keeps my mind preoccupied and prevents it from thinking some of the fucked up thoughts that have plagued me over the years.
Bought a can of Steven Seagal's new energy drink, Lightning Bolt. I had to, right? I mean, it's Steven Seagal, for crying out loud. No matter...this stuff is VILE. It tastes (and goes down) exactly like Malta Goya. NOT recommended.
Thought I was onto something special when I got the news that there was a video on the Museum Of Modern Art's website of a recent performance by Sigur Ros that took place in conjunction with an exhibit by Olafur Eliasson. I'd hoped to post it here, even though the only good thing about it is the song and the performance itself. This is MoMa we're talking about, you'd think they could come up with something more original than this stop/start affair. When I went to YouTube to find an embeddable version I was not too surprised that it wasn't there. What I DID find, however, was a slew of performance videos from the same show. Some are better quality than others, but the majority are a lot more interesting than what MoMa has to offer. Watch them HERE
We have not been happy with the house we've lived in over the past 3 & 1/2 months. The main thing is that it's just too small. Not even close to the amount of closet space that we need. Bryan's room is too small. It's basically not a very good house.
Obviously we've been hoping to find a better one (not easy in a small town like the one we live in). Something that would meet our needs and yet still be in the same price range as the one we are currently at. We didn't expect to find one too quick so we weren't in any rush where we had to take whatever came along first.
So this afternoon Stacie goes through the town newspaper to see if there's anything on the market. There were 4 or 5 rental houses on the market. We wrote down addresses and phone numbers, then went on our way to look at them. The first few we saw didn't look like the kinds of places we would want to live in.
There was only one more ad we had yet to check out, and the address of the house was not listed. Stacie called the number and spoke to the landlord, asking for the rent amount and the address. She arranged for us to meet at the house. She told her that there was no bath tub, only a walk-in shower, that it was one of two houses she had for rent on the old highway.
My dad lived on the old highway. I grew up in a house on the old highway. No way. It couldn't be.
Then it hit me what she said about the lack of a bathtub in lieu of a walk-in shower...my dad's wife had a lot of problems with her knees and couldn't get around very easily. She was a hypochondriac and was always complaining about not being able to get in and out of the bath tub. So, to please her, Dad bought and installed one of those physician recommended shower seats.
We're driving down the old highway and I'm thinking, "No. That would be too good to be true. Surely it's not the same house...but how could it not be?"
That's right, almost ten years after Dad passed away, my family will be living in the house he built for 30 years. We took the tour, although I knew exactly where everything was. Nothing had changed, just new carpet and a fresh coat of paint. It's a really nice house, and I don't say that because I used to live there.
Three bedrooms. just as we need them (our room, Bryan's room and an office/den). At least twice as much closet space as we have here. Plenty of storage space. A bath and a half.
And to think, my son will be spending the rest of his years with us in that house he visited so often when he was a kid.
The rent is only $25 more a month than what we're paying for this place. It will be a REEEEEEEEAAAAAALLLLLLL drag moving shit again, but I think it will be an easier task than it was last time.
But we're in. Luck been a Lady tonight. If nothing unforeseen happens between now and then we will be settled not too long after the first of August. And I vow not to break this lease for as long as I live...okay, maybe I'd do it if the situation called for it...but I am not planning to move from there any time soon. I haven't been this excited since I found my seat at the KC Sigur Ros concert.
There are some other cool things that come with being in the new house. Things that have to do with retribution and justice prevailing over the long run. And other things about the myriad events that took place there that I will never forget. So many memories, such a story, the place has a history and save a decade, I was there to witness it all. I don't have nearly enough time to describe it all...
If I weren't so lazy I'd get up, get dressed and go to the casino.
I'm getting a fair amount of writing in on the new laptop. I was looking through the folder where I keep unfinished stuff and ideas, having transferred it to my computer, and I found a story that I didn't immediately recognize. Reading through it I was certain that I hadn't written it. To be honest, I thought it was better than most of the stuff I have written. It wasn't until the last of it that I finally realized that, yes, it was my work.
I liked it. I'd completely forgotten about it. I wonder how many more stories, essays, articles I have floating around in my documents, and throughout the archives of this blog, for that matter. I'm sure I will find more than a few incomplete books to add to, edit and whatever else needs to be done with them. I'd send them to a publisher if I weren't so sure they would merit anything loftier than a rejection slip. Besides, I have this blog and Chromosome 11 as depositories for it all, in a medium in which a visitor or two might actually stop in and read one or two. I would like it if people read and enjoyed these vignettes. But if not, oh well. I'll enjoy 'em a few years from now when I'm in the mood to look back at it all and become nostalgic. That's what it's all about.
At any rate, the reason I dredge that all up is to let you know that, although the blog posts have dropped off just a little bit, I assure you that material is being written for articles that will appear in the next several days. Maybe sooner if I get my internet wireless service hooked up. Side note: When I first got this laptop last week I got it up and running and woohoo, we were immediately piggy-backing someone else's wi-fi. But that all vanished within 254 hours...I still don't know where it came from.
The internet will wait. It will still be there, perpetually new and improved, when I come back to it. For now I'm gonna utilize the only three programs I have installed in it.
1. The first thing I installed was the ACID MUSIC STUDIO 7.0. It's the most addictive thing in the world to me, as far as computer activities go. Now I can take it wherever I happen to be going, sort of a "mobile studio". It may be a task trying to figure out the best ways to work it with a touch pad instead of a mouse. I can even use it as a game. Take random loops and mix them all together with the mute buttons all turned on, then see what they sound like...sort of like chance music. Something John Cage might do if he were working with the ACID.
2. The Sims. Bryan has already progressed into Sims 2 territory, so he didn't have much use for his copy of the original. So I went ahead and installed it on the laptop. In the past I have found this game to be frustrating and, in it's own way, rather difficult. In a strange way I see it as the electronic equivalent of playing God. Which I don't necessarily have a problem with. It's just hard as hell to do. If I uninstall any of these three programs to make room for another, it will be this one. But until then I'm going to see if it's become any easier to "play God" than it was a few years ago.
3. I am no video game player...meaning I am not a very good PC game player so I tend to avoid them. Still, I wish it were otherwise. So I bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to try and get better and maybe lead to more gaming as I become more proficient with the way they work. I thought it would be a good idea to get one that's got a little humor in it. It makes me laugh. And I don't think it will lose it's novelty too soon.
That's it...3 programs and 6 Sigur Ros albums in the Windows Media Player, it's all I need until the wireless gets up and running. Those and the folders I imported from the desk top.
Have no fear, music lovers, I will make it a point to post the weekly music video. The only thing hard about that will be trying to think of who I want to feature. Sometimes this dillemna perplexes me to irritation, but usually I see the reality of the situation.
To be perfectly honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by the Live8 concerts a couple of years ago. Music tastes change and I sort of gravitated away from pop/rock to more classical and new age genres, along with just a few modern acts (Sigur Ros, Sun Kil Moon, Autechre…basically the top 3 on my list). But when the DVD set was released I thought it might be a good idea to own it, if for no other reason than to compliment my copy of the original Live Aid DVDs. I figured there would be at least more than a few entertaining performances in the lot. It’s almost worth the admission price for the Pink Floyd reunion alone. I remember seeing that one when the shows were on TV. Who could forget the tension between longtime foes Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour? But that’s just about all I can remember about the event.
A good idea to have both seminal concerts in my collection, so I went ahead and purchased the Live8 DVDs. I’m glad I did…having scanned a good portion of the first disc I think it will be just fine.
I come to this conclusion very early on…the first performance, actually. Paul McCartney, with U2, whip out a decent rendering of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”. Those Dublin boys sure make a good backing band. Nice and tight. The Live8 folks spared no expense and pulled out all the stops with a 4 piece French horn section, all decked out in original “Sgt. Pepper” uniforms. It all comes together as a fairly accurate representation of the original version.
Unfortunately Big Macca leaves the stage for now (I think he comes back later on, but I don’t have the program notes with me now, so I’m guessing). It’s all good, though, because U2’s performance is stellar. It was at Live Aid where they first broke through to a global audience, and they seem to be completely in their element in this follow-up. Nothing as awesome as the 1985 version of “Bad”, but “Beautiful Day” is exuberant and “Vertigo” does rock. The former is capped off with a nice (impromptu?) take on “Blackbird”. Perhaps a tip of the hat to Paul, who may well have been watching from the curtains. I can’t think of any other reason they may have done it.
The upbeat tone settles in as Bono croons out “One”. It is amazing how comfortable he seems to be on this stage in front of God knows how many thousands of people. He belts this song out as if he were in a small room amongst a small circle of friends. I suppose that’s how it’s supposed to be done. To all the people out there who think Mr. Vox is too cocky (and there are more than a few), I say “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaze!” That’s what rock and roll is all about.
Then again, maybe not, as Chris Martin exudes a similar, not-quite-as-endearing cockiness trotting onto the stage with his Coldplay mates. They kick off with a nice enough version of “In My Place" which is all fine and good until the end vamping begins. Martin throws out the chorus of the Stones' “It’s Only Rock and Roll”, a propos of nothing. It sounds silly, but not have so much as when he tries to rev up the crowd with a little escalating call-and-response thing. You will have to see it to believe how pathetic it is.
And can anyone tell me what the fuck is up with all that colored tape around his fingers? And the bar-bones tattoo on his wrist that reminds me so much of Black Flag’s logo? I like Coldplay well enough, but I never realized what a bozo Chris Martin is (though I have heard rumors). Between “In My Place” and the next song, he tells the audience, “…thanks for coming to the Live8, and uh…this, of course, has to do with the G8, and uh…those people ARE pretty G8, but, uh, the person we’re going to introduce to you now would really make those guys look not so cool.”
At which point Richard Ashcroft (formerly of the Verve) takes the stage and proceeds not only to make the “guys of G8” look “not so cool”, but Martin and Coldplay in the bargain. Ashcroft has a swagger and a confidence that suits “Bittersweet Symphony” well. I’d forgotten what a kick ass song this is. “I can change, I can change, I can change, I can change…but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold…” This live version is even better than the original, and that’s no small feat. Not to mention that he’s got Coldplay behind him, so that’s either a positive or a negative depending upon your personal opinion of that band.
Unfortunately Ashcroft only sticks around for the one song and CPlay get to do one more. “Fix You” is one I’m not too familiar with, even though I PROBABLY have the CD and, if so, have heard it enough times to where I SHOULD recognize it. This performance doesn’t bring back any memories, if such is the case. As they breeze through the number, pleasant enough as it is, I have to ask myself just how big a fan of theirs I actually am. My original thought was that these Coldplay songs might be highlights, but oh boy was I disappointed.
Elton John strides onto the stage next, flashing “peace” signs to the crowd, jumping up onto his piano bench where he stands defiantly as if daring the tough younger boys in the audience to step up to his geriatric ass. He soon settles behind the piano and backs up his claim of relevance with a super-charged “Bitch Is Back”. It’s as if he’s saying, “I can’t believe this song is 30 years old…I don’t even feel like I’M that old!” Indeed, he does rock pretty hard for an older bugger. “Saturday Night’s Alright For Frighting” follows, and the ivory-tinkling continues, veering even further into aggressive mode.
Reginald brings out Pete Doherty to massacre the old T Rex song, “Children of the Revolution”. I have not heard Doherty or his band, Babyshambles, though I have heard a lot about them. Not a whole lot of good things, either. I can tell, on first glance, that all the naysayers are probably right.
Pete shows up with uniform unbuttoned, hat cocked obnoxiously to the back of his head, a smattering of purple eye make-up and the most ridiculous cigar I’ve ever seen hanging from his mouth. It’s like bright green. Maybe I’m just too un-hip to know what’s up with that, but regardless, it looks mighty foolish.
Even so, I would have forgiven his fashion sense, had he impressed me with his vocal talents. No such luck. It can’t be hard to sing a Marc Bolan song. Surely not. Judging by this guy, though, it must be impossible.
Next, Dido is joined by Yousou N’Dour. I won’t pretend that I have the slightest interest in this pairing…for that matter, I have no plans to investigate the respective canons of either artist, now or in the future. It isn’t that I’m not “impressed”, just apathetic and this performance doesn’t change that at all.
A bit of culture shock kicks in as the Stereophonics turn up the distortion. I don’t know jack shit about them, either, although if this song (“The Bartender and the Thief”) is any indication of their typical style, I would have to come to the conclusion that the singer is a big Kurt Cobain fan. These guys aren’t too bad, even if the leather gear is a little too obvious for such a punk-influenced group.
Okay, this is where it gets wacky. Michael Stipe strides to the center of the stage and---get this---he’s got this funky looking deep blue Lone Ranger mask---PAINTED ON HIS FACE!!! I’m thinking, who does he think he is, Peter Gabriel? Maynard from TOOL? This is Michael Stipe, people! The style of his band’s music lately lends itself more to cashmere sweaters than face paint. The sheen of the blue color really accentuate all the veinage on the side of his head. Another good reason he should have left the spray paint at home.
He grabs the mic as Berry & Mills get situated and pronounces, “Hello, we’re REM, and THIS is what we do.” What’s that, Mike? Paint your face and sing “Everybody Hurts” for the millionth time (50 of which were for similar “benefit” type things where it just seemed to be relevant to the cause)? I never really liked the song in the first place. The success of this song has been an unfortunate contributing factor to Stipe’s deciding he can actually sing. He can’t and he never could. He didn’t NEED to before they started doing pablum like this. This Live8 take is par for the course, Stipe’s delivery having degenerated with every performance he’s done since he recorded since the original.
They do one more song (only natural, since that’s “what they do”), “Man on the Moon”, before thankfully retiring from the show, about 10 minutes too late as far as I’m concerned. God, how I hate this song. It’s so weird…honestly, I was REM ‘s number one fan in the early-mid 80s. I thought Michael Stipe was the best frontman in all of alternative music. Now he grates on my nerves and, guilty by association, I cannot stand the band. Even though there may be a few of their tracks between “Document” and their recent album that I like well enough, Stipe’s bizarre streak and the overall vibe of REM over the last 15-20 years has disappointed me so much that I almost wish I’d never heard them.
Ms Dynamite has the luck to follow the REM contingent. Even though I have no doubt she’s kicking their collective asses, this is another case of a musical style being so alien to my tastes that I don’t feel qualified to offer an opinion. So I won’t.
My brother likes Keane and has tried, for some time, to bring me into the camp of music connoisseurs who appreciate them. “Somewhere Only We Know”, the song they do here, is decent enough. Actually it is very good, and makes me want to call the bro and take him up on his offer to let me borrow his Keane CD.
And so we leave the London concert for now to cross the pond and head to Philadelphia. All in all it was a decent opening. U2 and Richard Ashcroft were definitely the highlights. Elton performed above and beyond the call of duty, proving that you’re never too old to…well, to do whatever it is that Elton John does. Coldplay weren’t so bad as all that. The band itself was good, it’s just that Chris Martin seems so full of himself that he brings them all down. REM were the low point of this show. It really does pain me to say that. But every time I think of that insane blue mask I'll remember why I felt justified in saying it.
Lots of material on this disc...I'm barely halfway into it and I've got to take a break. More to come.
One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn't belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others By the time I finish my song?
I've got a review of the Live8 DVD set in the works. Part one, "the London concert", is all written, but I can't seem to get the hang of my wife's flash drive, and it's on my laptop. That first day with it we were piggy-backing someone's wi-fi, but that's gone now, so I don't have internet there. Not now, at least.
Probably a couple of days and you can read my essential thoughts and opinions on this fascinating subject.
Here it is, my first full day with a lap top. Got my Firefox installed and the Acid program, too. I'm going to have to rip a few albums onto the media player soon...first I'll have to delete all the free crap that came with the computer.
I don't think it will take me TOO long to get used to the "mouse pad". I also need to get a feel for the keyboard. We got that Wave wireless for the desktop not too long ago and I really cottoned to it...I don't think this one is going to suit me quite as well, but who knows.
I've got a lot to do today, so I guess I'll get down to it.
The day has finally arrived. My Social Security disability back pay check came today. Got a lot of things I needed, and I'll be able to pay back some loans that I had to take out when times were tough.
Went to Oklahoma City and bought a truckload of new clothes. There's this store at Crossroads Mall called Steve & Barry's...everything there is $8.98. It looks like quality merchandise, so I got a lot of stuff. A visit to Borders, but there wasn't anything there I absolutely HAD to own. I just got my "Complete Conversations With God" in the mail Monday and the only things I really want are the other Walshe books. I figure I can wait until I read the original "Conversations" again before I start buying the other ones. Besides, my wife doesn't like for me to have anything to do with them, as they played a role in an episode I experienced a few years ago. Oh well...I enjoy them, and they are extremely thought provoking, so I'll take my chances.
Had dinner at Pancho's Mexican Buffet, which I have always enjoyed...until now. It was not very good at all. The MSG was so strong it was ridiculous.
Then we went to Best Buy for the major purchases...a nice Plasma TV and the lap top I am writing this post on. It's Vista, which I have heard lots of negative things about...we shall see. I think it will take me a while to get used to it. If it gets too frustrating I'll just rip it out and install XP. It seems you just can't get lap tops at a lot of places that don't use Vista.
So there you are. I imagine you'll be seeing a lot more posting from me in the future, as I'll have immediate access to this contraption and will likely spew out whatever comes to me, as it comes. Can't vouch for the quality of future musings...
Killed a lot of time the last couple of days working on an Acid loop piece I call "O Jimmy Boy". It's by no means complete, but I went ahead and posted it to Garageband so you could hear what I have so far.
Oh, yeah...I got that latest Autechre disc in the mail today. I listened to about 3/4 of it. I think I'm gonna like it as much as the last one ("Untilted", which is one of my favorites). Can't wait until I'm REALLY in the mood for some Autechre.
I couldn't have been much older than 14 or 15. My brother had a friend named Lawrence (he never went by "Larry", it was always Lawrence). He had a dog named Queenie and I guess she tagged along everywhere he went.
On this occasion we were all riding our bikes on the "old highway" in front of my house. Just peddling back and forth, not really going anywhere. Queenie was right there, trying to keep up with us.
A car came toward us...a big car, like a Lincoln or a Cadillac. It was moving slowly, probably no faster than 20 MPH. Lawrence, Charles (my brother) and I pulled to the side of the road. But I don't guess Queenie pulled far enough, because the car ran over her. The driver, some really old woman who probably shouldn't have been allowed to drive a car at all, never swerved from the straight line she was driving. Apparently she never even saw the dog. She certainly didn't turn back to say "I'm sorry" or whatever.
What I'll never forget is how Lawrence reacted, with screams and shouts of "Queenie! Queenie!" He ran to the dead dog's side, bent over her, and wailed.
That's a normal reaction, I know. I'm not trying to make it out to be something it wasn't. But I remember it like it was yesterday and something about the event really touched a nerve within me.
Not too much longer Lawrence got mad at me for some reason and started yelling obscenities as I stood behind the back door of my house. He was really loud, and using language that, though common amongst the youngsters these days, was not acceptable at the time. Even if it were, I got mad because there was a little old lady who lived next door and I couldn't bear the thought of her hearing those words.
Before too long I'd had enough. I busted out of that door like a bull in a rodeo and proceeded to beat that little bastard to a pulp. I have never been a violent man. I wasn't before, and I haven't been since. But that day I was one mean motherfucker and I made damn sure that Mrs. Huggins would never hear that vile talk from Lawrence ever again.
And I think that's why the Queenie incident seems to hold so much significance. I had so much sympathy for this kid when he lost his dog. He wasn't a bad friend. But then, not too much later, here I am wailing on him. And I never saw him again afterwards.
Stay tuned, as more memories float to the surface.
My copy of Sun Kil Moon's "April" arrived in the post yesterday. I've only really wanted 3 CDs in the last couple of months. The latest Sigur Ros, Autechre's "Quaristice" and this one. The last album, "Tiny Cities", was good, but it just left me wanting to hear more of Kozelek's original material.
And so here we have it. Over 70 minutes of it (not counting the bonus disc, which I haven't even played yet). My first impression is that the album is not quite as good as Sun Kil Moon's classic debut, "Ghosts of the Great Highway". Thinking back, however, I recall not being altogether impressed with that album the first few times I listened to it. I'm sure that was the result of wanting to compare it with the last Mark Kozelek-fronted release, Red House Painters' "Old Ramon", which had by that time become a favorite of mine. I don't know how long it took, but eventually "Ghosts of the Great Highway became one of my all-time favorite albums. There's only one track on that record ("Lily and Parrots") that I don't absolutely love.
All of which is simply to point out that first impressions can be deceiving when it comes to ANY of Mark's work. "April" sounds like it might take several hearings to grow on me, but I think that once it does I am really gonna like it. A LOT. Maybe one day when I slip into the old familiar melancholy mood and I slap it on---BOOM! It'll hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll finally get it. It will find it's place in the exalted canon of RHP, SKM and Mark Kozelek solo albums.
I've heard a couple of these songs in a primitive acoustic guitar/vocals arrangement on Kozelek's "Little Drummer Boy Live" disc. The versions of "Unlit Hallway" and "Moorestown" sound good there, but that whole album has crappy production where all you hear are the higher registers of the guitars. The vocals are buried way too low in the mix, or sound muffled. At any rate, the fleshed out arrangements of both those songs are wonderful.
Anyhoo, I'll get around to writing a review as soon as I feel like I'm qualified to do so (I'm just now ready to pull together a proper review of the new Sigur Ros...an album for which I am going to have to devise a nickname for...there's no way I'm going to use that cumbersome title they've chosen). So I don't know when that might be, especially since I'm expected that Autechre album in the next couple of days and it may monopolize the player for a little while. I stepped outside yesterday and could have sworn I smelled someone cooking on a charcoal grill. I didn't think too much of it, even though it seemed a bit too early to fire up a barbecue. I headed to the post office and that was when I noticed the fire truck. It was in the immediate vicinity of the local optometrist's offices, but as I drove around the block I saw that it was actually the meat packing plant across the street.
That explained the smell of the meat cooking. Before too long the smell had mutated somewhat into a less savory odor and it permeated the whole town. I caught the last 15 minutes of the Porter Wagoner show on RFD-TV. It sent me back in time to when my dad, my brother and I used to watch it every Sunday morning over 35 years ago. It is surprising how well I remember this stuff. Still, as goofy as I recalled Speck Rhoads to be, he was actually about 10 times goofier. Not necessarily in a "funny" way, either. More like a "scary" way. It is somewhat surreal to see these old shows and to mark how much things have changed, but I swear Speck was the dictionary definition of "bizarre".
I've had a lot of negative things to say about Bob Larson, and today I received a comment from a woman who has had first hand experience of Larson's maniacal methods. There are 3 YouTube pieces (audio only) in which she describes the experience in an interview. I found it very interesting and it further confirmed my negative opinion of Mr. Larson and his "ministry".
First off, I’d like to say thank you to all my fans who sent postcards, e-mails and even a few old-fashioned letters to me. There’s nothing I like more than answering these queries. I call it “damage control”. But enough of that, already. Let’s get to the mail…
My first question comes from Charles in Cedar City, Ohio. Charles asks, “Will your next kiss be a mistake?”
Why would ANY kiss be a mistake, Charley ol’ boy? As long as it doesn’t involve the chewing and swallowing of the tongue.
That one was easy. Come on, Chuck, if you’re gonna waste my time with lame-ass questions you might as well save yourself the trouble. Next time I won’t bother with you.
Next up in the pile, a letter from Corrina, who writes, “Dear Joker. I am an elderly woman living on a fixed income. I have no one to care for me and I’m prone to falling down regularly. The Fire Department say they won’t bother sending out people to help me up if I don’t do something about the situation. So I was hoping you might shed some insight by answering the one question I really need to have answered right now: When was the last time you cried?”
Goodness gracious, Corrina. That’s hard one. It has been a long, long time. Let me ponder it for a moment…(60 seconds later)…okay, I recall it now. I was watching a movie, “Reservoir Dogs”. There’s this scene in it were a hoodlum is torturing a cop, pouring gasoline on him, threatening to set him ablaze. Then he cuts that motherfucker’s ear right off the side of his noggin. With a straight razor. I thought “Well, goddamn! That’s got to hurt!” And they were playing an old song by Stealer’s Wheel in the background, “Stuck in the Middle With You”. It really made an impression on me, because two weeks later, when the classic rock radio station played the song, I had to pull to the side of the road as memories of the unlucky police officer flooded my mind. The blood. The screams. The stench of gasoline. The cold, glistening steel of the blade that severed his ear. It was all too much. I thought, “That could have been me. Damn straight, it could well have been me.” So, in a wave of empathy I burst into tears. My entire being was shaken as the sobs racked my body. I felt the pain of existence deep in my belly and the tears flowed like sweet honey from the rock. Just thinking about it now makes me sad.
So let’s move on, shall we?
Dave “Big Dave” Davidson, a proud citizen of Jacktown, Colorado, sends a video shout-out to the ole Joker, via YouTube. He says, “Joker, you are one incredible human being. You’re like Superman, as far as I’m concerned. Like Superman with no super powers and a back pack filled with Kryptonite hanging from your shoulders like a merciless albatross. I say that in a good way. So tell me this…where is your biological father right now?”
Alas, Mr. Davidson, I am unable to answer your question for fear that I might incriminate myself in regards to a murder investigation that is currently in the “cold case” files at the OSBI. As for all the Superman junk…what makes you think I don’t have any super powers? And that’s not Kryptonite in the back pack. It’s next month’s rent. A nice big haul from the land of great coffee, Columbia.
A couple of quickies before I have to leave (just for now, folks, I have a lot more mail to answer).
To “Jen in the Pen”: No, I am not currently involved in a relationship.
To Lonesome Bill from Pawhuska: What bothers me? Not knowing the reason for any of this.
To Elle (of Ozark Back Porch fame): No, I have never “made out on a boat”. I have, however, made lunch on a boat.
To “the Crusher”: Yes, I have seen many people being shot and/or stabbed. I have seen them, I have pulled the trigger on many of ‘em, and yes, I have plunged knives into several backs. I have seen and dealt out uncountable means of extinguishing the spark of life within the souls of many so-called friends (and one or two ACTUAL friends who momentarily pissed me off). Death is the card that I deal, and so, “Crusher”, I am surprised that you were unaware of my cruelty.
And finally, to the girl with the thorn in her side, somewhere in San Paulo, Tennessee: My cock ring is pink. I think that was the only color available in the machine from which I purchased it. It was only a quarter when I bought it. It’s never been used, I’m somewhat ashamed to say. It has become quite useless having been stored in my wallet for so many years. Send me a P.O. Box and I’ll mail it to ya.
Till next time, this is the ol’ Joker saying, “Keep them cards and letters coming!”
I would like to apologize to my loyal readers for overlooking the Music Video of the Week for July 2nd. I have no idea why I forgot about it, or if there were acceptable circumstances for it's omission. I can only say, as sincerely as I know how, that I'm sorry. I feel just terrible about it.
Thanks JAC (Any further complaints or criticism should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org)
IMPEDIMENTS TO THE STRESS-FREE DRIVING EXPERIENCE I ENCOUNTERED TODAY ON A VOYAGE TO OKC
~~~Got behind an "Oversize Load" truck. Lost some time slowing down for his 55mph drivin' ass.
~~~4-Way Stop on a busy OKC thoroughfare. Some idiot decides it's his time to turn left, even though I had been stopped for several seconds before he even showed up. He should count himself lucky not to have the impression of my car embedded into his driver's side door.
~~~There was this moron slow-poking in the fast lane when he turns on his blinker for a left turn. I'm behind, so I decide to change lanes, to avoid having to brake for him and maybe get in front before he turns. But he didn't. Oh, no, this bozo stays right with me until the road merges and I have to pull back in behind him. You'd almost think he did it on purpose.
~~~I had no idea of the precise location of our destination. Only a slight familiarity with the immediate vicinity. As one might expect, I became hopelessly lost, passing by entry lanes and generally not having a clue.
IMPEDIMENTS TO A STRESS FREE DAY (July 8, 2008 edition)
~~~When we entered Souper!Salad for lunch, we were greeted by a foul stench that was either some really nasty food cookin' in the back or someone in the line ahead who maybe had not bathed in a long time (like a month). I almost backed out, telling the wife we should go because if it WAS the food...well, you know. She decided to risk it. When the line dispersed, the offensive reek wafted elsewhere. So it must have been a person with an impressive accumulation of crusty body odor. The wife did complain about the Ranch dressing, saying that it was not very good. I set out to investigate the allegations. Her assessment was correct. The Ranch sucked.
~~~I stopped at a 7-11 with the express purpose of purchasing a large can of Monster (preferably the 32 oz. version, but I would have settled for 24). What kind of store, I ask you, sells ONLY the 16 oz. size? This one.
~~~If there's one thing my wife likes about these long trips, it's telling me how to drive.
Joker’s peaceful sleep is over. His thoughts come slow and groggy. Yet he thinks:
Like a dead slug I lay in the bed this morning, tired of snoring, sucked out of the last dream that had me in its thrall. Contemplating the hard work of opening my eyes, I realize that sleep has once again deserted me. What a tease.
With the strength of Hercules I pry them open, seeing nothing but a fuzz-hazed screen that temporarily hides my pillow. When they re-adjust to the morning’s light I will be able to see, with great clarity, the Harry Potter designs that illustrate the pillow case. This used to make me smile, when the idea was fresh and new. The idea, like most, has come and gone, with it the novelty.
There’s nothing that I have to do this morning, after I muster the will to rise. Brew up a batch of coffee. The morning constitutional. The hard chore of turning the computer on. Making sure everything is where it was when I went to bed last night. Turning on some music, a safety net to keep the reality of emptiness from consuming me. Or maybe it’s the emptiness of reality that shoots me down. Either way, Jon Thor can sew together the spider web coil that buffers and saves. I’ll want to go back to sleep.
But she’s gone, gone, lost in the exchange for wakefulness and life. Gone for a chance to make more memories that seem so integral and seem so important but are forgotten as surely as the strange faces that have marched before me all my days. Gone to seduce someone else, leaving only a note telling me she’ll back tomorrow night. “Enjoy your day.”
Eyes now open, sleepy crusted corners, I swim through the chaos and illusion until I find my mind. Your mind. Our mind. THE mind. I know what I am nothing more than an infinitesimally small conduit of this holy ghost mind. The only power I have is the ability to hunt it down and find it every morning. I take it back by force, but I do take it back. I make myself forget that it’s not mine for a little while. Yeah, it slips away sometimes. But I’m usually able to retrieve it before anyone notices. If there’s no one there to see, I’m content to let it roam.
My breath must reek. My mouth is dry and it tastes like something took a shit in there last night. Not that I would know what shit tastes like, but you get the general idea. The contributors to this ungodly stench: the Black and Mild “Wine” flavored pipe tobacco cigar I smoked before I went to bed. The detritus of pepperoni that cleaved to my gums after devouring an entire package, coated with mustard, before retiring (too lazy to brush my teeth) . And then there was the foul odor of the good, long hit of weed that helped me fall asleep. All in all, it added up to a smell that conjured the deep cesspools of the ninth circle of hell, guano and scum floating on it’s surface.
And yet, I debate whether or not I’m going to brush my teeth this morning. Another aspect of the morning routine I’ve abandoned of late, having developed a taste for the sickening flavor that coats the inside of my mouth. Maybe I’ll go all day without brushing, see just how many variations I can make on the original by the addition of various foodstuffs.
Foodstuffs…that reminds me. My belly is stuffed to the gills with a potpourri of vittles that I gorged myself on earlier in the evening. I was in the tight grip of a serious case of the “munchies” before Thor banged his mallet on my cranium. Can I even remember all the shit I ate? Flamin’ Hot Cheetos…Barbecue flavor Wavy Lays…Orange sherbet…Sunflower seeds…practically an entire Supreme pizza…so much food that I feared, even as I ate it, that I might very well vomit it all back out. Even as this notion threatened to manifest itself into reality I took another bite…I wondered what else was in the house I could eat.
So it was, I fell on the bed. I felt like a beached whale about 8 hours ago. Surely I gained 10 pounds. 10 pounds worth of calories I sure as hell didn’t work off in the middle of the night. So this morning, as I wake, I’m still that beached whale, smashing his sunk impression into the mattress.
And so it is, I lie here, still breathing. Another chance to do something worth remembering tomorrow. So much time to do it between the horns of the day. Inspiration to be found in all that I am, in all that we experience together. Choices to be made. Worlds of consciousness to explore and map out. Intoxicating words I can use to describe them. Concepts not yet discovered by mankind, ideas that could usher the world into a new age.
And so I lie here, still breathing. Wondering if ANYTHING is worth remembering tomorrow, still grasping at the moment before me. Time changes it’s tune with regularity, and right now he moves with the speed and precision of a NASCAR driver. It moves along, passes inspiration right by, careless of experience past, present or future. Any choices to be made, I realize, are so trivial, so inconsequential, they barely pull at the fabric. I’ve bombarded my consciousness with atomic bongs, I’ve given up trying to describe it all. I know, deep in my being, that I have nothing whatsoever to offer the world, nothing even to offer myself.
New age? Ha. Same old shit. Another generation begging someone to pull the plug and make way for the whippersnappers.
I don't speak your language but I'm trying and I'm trying and I'm trying not to giggle as the sound of the words you're makin' but I ain't understanding a goddamn thing it's like we live in different worlds yeah, we live in different worlds, an infinity away
I don't understand you I don't understand why you make me do the things that I do and if not for you for you if not for you it's not I don't understand you I never bothered to teach myself your language and now we're at loggerheads
it's got to be a few blocks away someone is popping firecrackers left over from the glorious spectacle of fireworks the day before, the day before yesterday, today, the day before
they had gathered together to make plans guppy lost his marbles it all became too much, would fall apart at the touch but plans were made far in advance You've nothing to worry about, guppy Your marbles are safe In the strong arms of a carpenter Gripped by hands blistered and bleeding The hammer strikes the nails and a door is made His door, his muscles, his hammer His hammer blows that rip his skin, tear and bleed water oh, no, dear guppy, your marbles are as safe as if they were in your own front pocket
This is so much gibberish to me There are parts of my brain that do not work anymore What am I supposed to do about it? It's all in the moment...I don't miss a thing in the moment Except the articulate glossolalia coming from your mouths I have explained this on countless occasions e're we came to this pass You seem not to be listening when I say "I do not understand you. I do not understand your language." You are as impossible to fathom as the depth of the ocean
I once liked this album quite a bit and considered it to be in the top 5 best Grateful Dead albums of all time.But I'm coming to the point where I just don't like much of it anymore.
I've always hated "Dupree's Diamond Blues", so I don't fault it for losing it's charm before the other songs did).
The version of "St. Stephen" is not as good as any of the live mixes. That stands true with "China Cat Sunflower" as well.
"What's Become of the Baby" is what I always thought "acid rock" sounded like, when I was a kid and had never heard any. I even considered it my favorite song on the album, warped as I was. But now it just seems to drag on and on and on... At points it sounds like Jerry's in the final stages of processing a burrito through his intestinal system. My tolerance level had to have been really low to have considered "What's Become of the Baby" a great stoner song. It must be really high right now.
I was once enlightened, in the parking lot of a Dead show and by a reeking Dead Head, to the true backstory of "What's Become of the Baby".
It seems that Jerry and Grace Slick had conceived a daughter out of wedlock. One day Jerry took the little girl to the laundromat. There were not a few dirty clothes that seriously needed laundering. The last load of trendy duds had been placed into the dryer and JG's daughter is playing pinball when in comes these three hoodlums, all duded up in Harley-Davidson this and Harley Davidson that and a veritable walking advertisement for Harley Davidson.
From their cup holders to the huge tattoos on their scrotums, their allegiance, displayed with pride, was to Harley Davidson.
They walked up to Garcia and a conversation ensued in which these bikers apparently mentioned a topic that fascinated him, as a huge smile replaced the grim and apathetic masque he had worn for the last several days. As terms were offered and rendesvouz plans formulated, with a small, yet significant sum of money changing hands, they arose from their crouches and put to use the bars on the EXIT door.
They were gone for at least 15 minutes and when they returned Jerry had this hitch in his gait and a look on his face like he'd just come back from a mission to Mars. He stepped into that laundromat, thinking that the load in the dryer ought to be long since done.
Not too much later, gathering his things, Garcia made his way to the car. He bent over and pattied the bulge in his sock, just to make sure the bag of dope was still in there, had not fallen out. This was a ritual that began shortly after an incident, some years ago, in which $500 worth of China White heroin fell from his sock as he jumpstarted a Harley-Davidson...
For some odd reason I feel it necessary to point out that Jerry Garcia was never a biker. He liked to hang around with bikers, and I've no doubt that many bikers liked to hang around him. He dug their culture, their fraternal code, their uninhibited free spirits and their old ladies who wanted nothing more than to flash a tattoed tit to anyone with eyes that cared to see. And that wasn't all...biker parties are, hands down, the absolute best parties ever thrown in America, if not the world. He knew it from experience, but he never had the nerve to join their ranks.
But I digress. I waste time. The whole thing boiled down to this. Jerry "Captain Trips" Garcia went and left his own daughter playing on a pinball machine in a laundromat, forgot all about her. Who knows what could have happened to her in the hours forgotten by her own father. A father who, once it dawned on him that he'd left her behind, was way too deep into a heroin joyride to care. Instead he wails, seeking an answer to the song title's fantastical question, "What's Become of the Baby?".
I only spend so much time on it because I once thought it was so great. And now I can hardly endure two minutes...
"Doin' That Rag" was one of my favorites on the "Long Strange Trip" retrospective. I cannot, for the life of me, now understand what I could ever have liked about this annoying song.
"Mountains of the Moon" and "Rosemary" were the same way. I thought they were two of the best tracks here. I can hardly tolerate either one of them now. This original "Cosmic Charlie" doesn't quite seal the deal like the one on "Europe 72".
And finally, trivially perhaps, the album cover has some of the most kick ass cover art you're ever gonna see. The name is cryptic, the uttering of a junkie in flight. You see an album cover like this and you are expecting something out of this world, something that will transcend the boundaries of where music can take you. It's an album cover that invites you to contemplate the mysteries of the afterlife.
But the music inside? Nothing at all like that. And there you have it. The straw that broke the camel's back. Eight half-ass songs. A bitchin' album cover that doesn't deliver.
I am honestly shocked, though, at how much I dislike this album right now. I've always enjoyed it before (with the exception of "Dupree's Diamond Blues"). I can only hope that this trend doesn't extend into my appreciation for other Grateful Dead songs. I've always liked the Dead, even if I lost all respect for Jerry when he lost his daughter.
Lot of hard work yesterday, as my son and I helped my mother-in-law move HER mother out of the house and into an assisted living apartment complex (I think that's what they're called). She didn't have a whole lot of stuff, but some of it required extra attention and care (a glass china cabinet, for instance). It was sweltering hot, so the sweat was pouring. I guess it was worth all the labor...we got $75 a piece and dinner at my favorite restaurant (a nice, Mexican place called Rodolfos). To top it all off, she had an extra 17" computer monitor that she's replaced with a 19", and she said we could have it if we wanted it...Uhhh, all we've had was a 13", so yeah, we took it off here hands. It's all hooked up and it works fine, I am hoping that the larger screen will be better for my eyes (actually it's just "eye", the right one).
Stacie's asking me if I want to go to the lake. She should know I won't. First off, any and every lake in the state is going to be packed and overloaded today, since it's Independence Day. Second, and she's fully aware of this...I don't swim in lakes anymore. I haven't done so in several years. There's no way of knowing what kind of shit is in the water (and that, to a small extent, can be taken literally as well as figuratively). Many is the time I've been told about someone cutting their feet up badly having stepped on a broken bottle in the lake. Swimming is all we could do, seeing as how we don't have a boat. I would think a little more kindly of lakes if we had one. I would really enjoy getting out in the middle of the waters to do some fishing. But swimming? No thank you.
No, this 4th of July will be exactly like every other day of the year, with the sole exception being the fireworks display we'll be able to see from the comfort of our back porch.
Took some of the money I earned yesterday and hopped online, couldn't wait to go to Amazon.com. I ordered up the two albums that were left on my wish list after I got the last Sigur Ros CD. Within the week I hope to be enjoying the latest from Sun Kil Moon and Autechre. I've tried to think of something else I might want badly enough that I wouldn't want to wait until my SSD back-pay check comes in. There are a few I could think of, but they can stay on the back burner for now.
I ordered a DVD of "Wild Palms", which I've only seen once, and that several years ago. I remember how great it was and figured it would probably something I'd want to own...which is high praise indeed, as my DVD collection is very small.
Finally I bought the "The Complete Conversations With God" box set. I've been wanting to get this for a while, having long since gotten rid of the copies I once had. CWG is kind of a hot topic between Stacie and I. She has good reason to be leary of my wanting to read them again. The first time around the thing blew my mind to the point where it contributed to an episode that put me in the hospital. I stayed away from it after that, but recently I have wanted to read it again, partly to try and see just why it had that effect on me in 1998. Plus, I recall that much of what Walsch wrote in these books made absolute perfect sense. A lot of the Eastern mysticism and religious thought that I've absorbed to a certain degree is reflected in the CWG philosophy. I'm not afraid, because there were other factors that led to the "Conversations" commitment. I was a daily pot user, for one thing. Plus, I was not taking any medication for my bipolar disorder. Those issues are resolved, and have been for some time, so I honestly don't think I have anything to worry about. Except maybe Stacie's displeasure and abhorrance of the books......
It's the start of a new month, and that means NEW MUSIC VIDEOS posted at THE LISTENING STATION. So far there are some classic performances by Kate Bush, John Cooper Clarke, the Sugarcubes, Public Image Ltd., David Bowie and more.
In case you didn't know, the Listening Station is a storehouse for music videos of songs and bands that I like a lot. I invite all of you to visit, sit back and listen to some of the stuff that gets stuck in my cranium.
I had strange dream last night. Sigur Ros was playing at a venue closer to home and I decided to go see them again (this would have happened in the waking world). Only this time I brought my wife as well as my son. The theater was very much like the Uptown, where I saw them a couple of weeks ago. We found a seat more or less in the same area where Bryan and I sat last time. The long line to get into the theater was not part of the dream, so I was not sure how filled up it was. I decided to go up to the balcony and see if there were any choice spots there (realizing that I should have done just that at the Kansas City concert).
So, I'm climbing the steps and I notice that they are getting smaller and the surrounding walls seem to be closing in on me. The staircase is in a spiral and it seems to go on and on, turning right every three or four steps. I do eventually get to the top. I look in and all I can see are the back rows, which are not too filled up. I think I'll turn around, slither down the steps, retreive the family and bring them up.
But as I look down I realize I won't be able to do it. My fear of heights kicks in as the understanding of just how high I've climbed dawns upon me. Not only that, the halls have narrowed to the point where I am actually squeezed tight, as if they are a trap. I'm stuck up here, but I try to go back down, one small step at a time. It went through my mind that the last time I was there (and I'd definitely decided this was the same place) the crowds pouring down from the balcony exit did so with ease.
I was still stuck between the walls when I woke up.
If dreams really do have meanings, I haven't a clue what this one represents.