I've got a lot of things I need to think over right now, so I doubt the posting here is going to be as regular as it has been. I'll try to at least post the Music Video of the Week every Wednesday, but I can't guarantee too much more. Thanks.


This is from a comment I posted on facebook today...the original topic was the whether or not it is possible for gays to "change" their sexual orientation, and become heterosexual (or, I suppose, celibate). As is wont to happen, the conversation drifted to religion, and so this is what my post was about:

I'm glad this gargantuan thread is not dead yet, because I really, really want to know the answer to the question I posed last night. Mark, WHY do you think our culture seeks to deny Christianity? For what purpose?

Also, a hypothetical question: if a man showed up in your hometown tomorrow and did every single one of the miracles that Christ did, if he was killed in the same manner that Christ was, and, most importantly if he rose from the grave, over 2,000 years after the resurrection of Jesus, then told you he was Krishna, incarnated once again to put and end to this age of Kali, would you abandon Christianity as it is practiced in the myriad denominations? If so, would you abandon it in order to follow Krishna or because of the revelation that Jesus Christ is not the only "Son of God"?

And don't think it couldn't happen. It happened once before, didn't it? Never say never. God will manifest himself whenever the %#(* hits the fan to the most extreme level. That's kind of what Revelation teaches, so the concept is not new, even if the particulars of my hypothetical situation don't exactly line up. What would you do? How would you handle that situation? Would it strengthen your belief in God? Would you still embrace Christianity, even though it had become obvious that God apparently works in mysterious, unpredictable ways that mortal man cannot fathom and which are not confined to the teachings of Christianity?

How does this tie in to our culture denying Christianity? Perhaps the RELIGION of Christianity NEEDS to be denied to make room for the possibility of new revelation. When there are so many people who think that the "true God" can only be found in the pages of a book when all signs point to His blessings of the majority of mankind, Christian and heathen alike, are on display for the whole universe to see, don't you think it's time for a change? If this book, which is so dated as to suggest that women should know their place and keep their mouths shut in church, and offers instructions on how to treat your slaves, if this book is so incomprehensible to so many people, why is it revered like a holy grail? Maybe it's okay to question the absolute divine inspiration of the scriptures. To put it all into perspective. Why can't people see it for what it is: a treasure trove of wisdom and an excellent introduction to the ALL via a good bunch of very interesting characters.

Perhaps this is what you meant when you referred to my earlier comments as "anti-Christian", and though I defended myself, the more I think about it, maybe I AM an adamant anti-Christian. The splintering of the original church seems an obvious sign that Jesus' teachings of love, brotherhood and forgiveness have been universally ignored. So hey, looks to me like this religion his fallible followers created just didn't work and isn't working today. That's not Jesus' fault. And it's not really the church fathers who are to blame, either. You can't even blame Satan, unless your definition of "Satan" is man's inborn stubbornness and inability to deal with the facts of life in a dualistic world.

Just as a One World religion would probably end up disasterour, so a One Religion world is a recipe for trouble. Then again, a One World religion has a much greater chance for success than a One Religion world. New denominations spring up on such a regular basis that you have to wonder just how many things there are in the bible for people to interpret differently to the point where they feel like migrating, leaving behind the heresy. A One Religion world would fragment so completely that religion itself would go the way of the dinosaurs and people would look back with longing nostalgia at the days when the world enjoyed religious freedom and several religions with which to exercise that freedom.

What does that have to do with Christianity? I think it's obvious. Christianity seeks to bring ALL souls "into the fold". It's ultimate purpose is the realization of that One Religion world I spoke of. Never mind that it admits that the goal can never be reached, by virtue of "the stubbornness of man" and the "influence of Satan". The fact that it champions this One Religion world is cause enough, IMO, for the culture to deny it. Perhaps? It's not a denial of Jesus Christ, of the things He taught and stood for. Is it a denial of his resurrection? Maybe, maybe not, but I have come to the conclusion that a lot of Christians see that event mainly as "a good reason to pay attention to what the Guy said before we crucified Him." Or that, "since it's never happened before, I guess he really was the Son of God, like he said he was." But how do we know Jesus was the only human to ever rise from the grave? Thousands and thousands and untold thousands of years of history, unwritten and unknown. So, what the culture thinks about the resurrection is not all that relevant, IMO.

Culture is nothing but a mirror of society. It society is ready for a change, or to use a more appropriate word, NEEDING a change, this is going to shine through in the art, politics, humanities, etc. of our culture. Christianity is such an insular institution anyway that I don't know why it bothers them to be denied...it's not as if they weren't warned that this would happen.

Once again, sorry so long. I just had a lot on my mind, as the conversation here has inspired me to really dig down deep to examine the place I've come to on the journey. Thanks for your patience and don't forget that question about why the culture persecutes Christianity (your opinion, that is, because I think I've come to an answer on my own while writing this).

Oh, wait...I do have two more pressing questions...
1.) Why is Katy Perry so hot???
2.) Why in God's name is she hooked up with Russell Brandt?


Last Wednesday we went to an animal shelter and adopted a mini-pinscher for my son. He named him Sireeno. I've never seen a dog sleep as much as this one does. I was under the mistaken impression when we first got him that he was already house trained. Then I find out that the one who was "good to go" was a different one we were considering earlier. I don't know if I have the patience to potty train this dog. I've tried on other occasions and failed miserably. It's not an option this time. Our landlord is a hard ass about the carpets in this house, and to be honest I am, too. The wife is reading everything she can find on the Internet about the subject. She's relaying some of it to me, but I'm not too good at remembering that sort of thing.

One thing I have learned is that 10 week old puppy dogs make a LOT of noise in the night when they have to stay in their kennel. Good god, it's fucking ridiculous. I have never heard a more pathetic sound...and loud? You wouldn't believe such volume could come from such a small dog. It's getting on my nerves in a big way, but hey...what am I gonna do, right? I suppose it will get better with time, and I do really like this dog.

Remember how I said this dog likes to sleep?


Kyle Bobby Dunn: "A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn"

Some music simply demands to be listened to as if it were a soundtrack. Not "background music" or even music that accentuates whatever may be happening at the time. I'm talking about the kind of music that creates an environment, draws you in then allows you to see everything around you in an almost completely different way. Sometimes calm and peaceful... Sometimes surreal. Always fascinating if you can only conquer the hurdle of a short attention span. Patience is demanded.

To give you an example... Yesterday I went to the park for my morning walk. This is a routine that I've maintained for the past...uh...three or four days. I'm hoping I can keep it up, but if I know me it will get grounded within the next week. But no matter, right now I'm enjoying the walks and I especially like to listen to music on my nifty little MP3 player as I traverse the length of the park's "walking trail" (not sure that's what it's actually called, but what the hoo). I didn't know what I was going to listen to, but the choices were few. I tend to load the entire catalogs of artists on my player and not a bunch of songs by a lot of different ones. Right now the selections are limited to Sigur Ros (and Jonsi), Autechre, Gustav Mahler, Sun Kil Moon, an audiobook of Stephen Hawking's "The Universe in a Nutshell") and a new release by a guy named Kyle Bobby Dunn called "A Young Person's Guide To Kyle Bobby Dunn". I hadn't really listened to much of that one, but from what I had heard I thought was very nice drone-based music. I didn't think I was in the mood for that one, though, as I was leaning toward Mahler or Autechre. But I've listened to so much of that recently I was kind of angry at myself for not putting something new/different on there. Then I thought, well, this Kyle Bobby Dunn thing is new and different. But no, I wasn't in the mood. I considered both of the other choices until finally I said to myself, "Why NOT the Dunn? You're wanting to write a piece about it eventually. Now is the time to get a feel for it."

So I decided to take a chance. I'd listen to "A Young Person's Guide To...", and if it were too lulling I would replace it with Mahler. I pushed play and I started walkin'. Before I'd gotten too far I noticed subtle changes in the scenery. Not actual "changes", of course, but perceptible differences in the way I was seeing the things around me. The way the trees bent and bowed and how they seemed to dance with each other in the wind. The pungent smells of the shrubbery seemed magnified to the point that it was almost overwhelming. The strengthening conviction that I could drop my body like it was a shell and still be on my merry way, missing nothing. And with that thought I was able to "feel" my body in a different way, like it was nothing but a car I was driving.

I realized then that the reason for this subtle shift in my reality was the music coming through my headphones. A kind of "music" that a lot of people (most?) would likely not even classify as such. Elements of rhythm and melody in Dunn's work on much of this album are practically non-existent. Which is nothing new to people who appreciate ambient music. According to my definition of the term, Kyle Bobby Dunn most definitely makes ambient music. He makes it very well, actually. Where most composers take vibrations, chop them and squeeze them into manageable units to serve their artistic needs, Kyle Bobby Dunn lets the sound flow and molds it like a wet clay jar in a potter's hands. As the music demands patience in hearing, I am sure it requires even more to produce. I know this from my own experience, as I have tried to compose this kind of stuff for a long, long time. I never succeeded because the task became too daunting. It's NOT easy. Not a whole lot of people can make it work. "A Young Person's Guide To..." could well be a handbook of how TO make it work.

I'm very serious about the analogy of KBD's technique being like a potter with sound acting as the "clay". I can close my eyes and imagine, quite vividly, the guy taking a stream of sound into his hands, shaping and forming it until it serves his vision. Releasing it into a stream of energy to get lost in, the harmonics floating around like slow fireflies.

I feel a strong reluctance to classify this album as "new age". Nothing wrong with that kind of music... for the most part I actually like a good lot of it. But so much pure crap has been foisted upon the world under the rubric of "new age" that it's no surprise if people dismiss it on the basis of categorization alone. Even so, ambient and early new age are almost one and the same. This is an ambient record, of that there is no mistake, so I guess we might as well call it new age as well (the GOOD kind, mind you). But to my ears "A Young Person's Guide To..." belongs to a genre called Space Music. It's like the music you could once hear on NPR's "Hearts of Space" radio program (sadly they don't seem to play a whole lot of the truly old school space music anymore). You can float to this music. It's like fuel for astral projection. A slow unfolding. I'm reminded of some of Steve Roach's compositions, with their ethereal sound. Kyle Bobby Dunn easily stands in Roach's company and, in certain aspects, even surpasses him. I've read a bit about Dunn since first receiving the record to review. One word that stands out in various descriptions of his work is "minimalist". I'm not sure that I'm buying that, though. Not that I'm uniquely qualified to classify, as my appreciation of minimalist music is basically limited to enjoying the work of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Cage and a few other giants of the genre. Not to say that it wouldn't be proper to tag Dunn with the label. I'm sure it fits aptly enough. But the man is working the harmonics on these songs in such a skillful, intricate way that there's nothing "minimal" about it.

If I could say one thing, though, that I hope isn't interpreted in the wrong way... "A Young Person's Guide To..." is best enjoyed in increments. A song at a time, maybe two. This is a double disc affair and there's not a bad track in the lot, but there IS a lot to take in. Plus, don't let all this talk of genres fool you or dissuade you from checking it out. It's a unique voyage into places you've never been, a true experience. All of which sounds like overkill... I don't mean for it to. This isn't going to be an album that you're going to want to play every day. But when you DO put on the headphones and give it 15 minutes of your day, you will be rewarded and there's no doubt you WILL want to make the trip again and again.

First snag with cable

I started this post yesterday...

It's been two weeks to the day now that we switched from Dish network to cable. I have not regretted the decision. In fact, it is obvious to me that cable is the better deal. The channel selection is, IMO, superior. Compared, that is, to the package we had with Dish. I wasn't going to pay more money for another batch of 100 channels when I only wanted a few. I am disappointed that a few channels that were HD on Dish are only digital with cable. But the only one I'll really miss is CNN, and I guess picture clarity isn't exactly essential for a news channel. Oddly, Fox News (ie Fox Conservative Propaganda Service) DOES have an HD channel. It's a travesty, but what can I do? HD or not, I sure as hell ain't watching the shit. But for each non-HD channel on cable there are at least a couple of selections in digital that weren't available in any format with Dish.

We're saving over $55 a month compared to what we paid for Dish...and for no extra charge we get a DVR in the bargain. I don't know how much Dish wants for those, but I couldn't afford to pay for one. The cable company didn't even tell me there was one included in the box. It was a very pleasant surprise. I love it! I'll actually watch some television now (something besides the news, I should say). Especially since we've got VH1 Classic where I can record all the music video blocks and pick & choose later. I may even be able to wire my DVD burner to the box and make copies of selected music videos etc. onto discs. I'll have to wait for a day when I'm REALLY bored before I do that.

As for the Internet connection. Well, I'm not as impressed as I thought I would be, having heard from others about how fast it supposedly is. It's pretty quick, just as fast as our 6m DSL connection, so I shouldn't be disappointed. And I'm not, really. I just hoped it would be a little bit faster than what we already had. If it is, it's not enough for me to notice.

We don't use our land line, so I don't even factor the phone service into the overall deal. It's a better deal than Windstream even if the phone wasn't included.

Then again, a couple of hours ago the cable went out completely. I don't know if it's on my end or theirs...I suppose I should call tech support and find out. It's just such a fucking drag to have to do that so soon after switching service providers. I can only hope that this isn't a pattern.

Okay...I guess I'll call them now...

8:47 the next morning

Well, I did call them. Just a pre-recorded message that said they were having outages in the general area. Oh, how wonderful. We've had no television or Internet since yesterday afternoon. One of these days...I don't know how soon or how late it will be...technology will be perfected so that shit like this doesn't happen. It sure as hell ain't there yet.

When we first made the switch from Dish to cable I was so disgusted with the satellite service that I slammed it pretty heavily on facebook. I still think I'm justified in what I said about them. But when I mentioned cable I got a couple of comments from people who have (or have had) it for awhile. They said they were very disappointed. That the Internet speed wasn't as fast as they'd been led to believe it was. That there were outages like the one being experienced right now that lasted for several days. Still, I was not deterred. I was going to give it a fair chance to prove them wrong (or at least to prove that the issues they had were not the norm).

And now this...two weeks in. We'll hope that it's back up at least by noon. Give it another chance. If it's not up by this evening I will despair, but even so I don't guess I can make a point by canceling so soon after getting it installed. I'm pretty sure we signed a contract, and I know, from the Dish fiasco, that once you're in, you're in for the good AND the bad. I don't know that you can even GET cable TV without signing a contract. Which is fucked up, because like I said, the technology, as advanced as it may well be, just isn't there yet. Sometimes I feel like I'm testing a beta version of all this crap. Or maybe it's just Oklahoma? Maybe we haven't caught up to the coasts when it comes to this sort of thing. That's how it's been in the past. Only since the advent of the Internet has it been any different. Now we don't have to wait to find out what's hip, what's cool, what's going on in the big cities.

I'll keep y'all informed...

Friday, 1:10 pm:
Well, the service was restored earlier today at about noon. Hope hope hope hope this doesn't happen again.

Michael Been 1950-2010

Michael Been, former leader of The Call, passed away yesterday. The cause of death was a heart attack. This one really sideswiped me, as I actually met the man on a couple of occasions back in the early 90s. To be honest, he was a lot more focused on impressing a couple of women at the venue than socializing with the opening band. We'd been invited specifically to open for his band in Tulsa and the Norman the following night. The gig was canceled, as we learned about 3/4's of the way to Tulsa, because Been wasn't feeling well. We went ahead and finished the trip and showed up at the hotel they were staying at. We saw him coming out of the elevator but he didn't look too sick to me. We all just figured the ticket sales didn't meet expectations, because they insisted the Norman show would come off as planned (which it did). The drummer of our band, a friend of mine, had written all the lyrics from our band's album (though I wasn't with them at the time) and somehow Been had gotten hold of a copy. Apparently he was bowled over by them (they are pretty damn good) and wanted to do some sort of collaboration. I think he was going to put together a band (not sure whether he was going to be in it or not) and write a bunch of music for my friend to add lyrics to. For whatever reason it did not pan out, but we did play the show in Norman with them (a fiasco in it's own right, but that's a story to be told another day). Here's the blurb from CNN:

Michael Been of the 1980s alt-rock band The Call -- and father of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's Robert Been -- died Thursday. He was 60.

The elder Been was on tour in Belgium as the sound engineer for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club when he died of a heart attack backstage, said publicist Juliana Plotkin.

The Call had several hits in the early 80s, including "The Walls Came Down" and "Let the Day Begin," and earned many notable musicians as fans along the way.

Among them were Bono and Peter Gabriel, both of whom contributed to The Call's albums.

In later years, Been played a key role in Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, said Plotkin -- who represents the band.

"Often referenced as their fourth member, Been spent countless hours in the studio acting in many roles from mentor and guide," she said.

Not a lot there, I know. And they failed to mention "I Still Believe", which may well have been the Call's biggest hit.


Music Video of the Week: Paul Young

Ahh...such a sentimental attachment I have with this song. It's a long story that I won't go into, suffice to say that "Every Time You Go Away" conjures up an emotion, a time, a place, all so powerfully... And such a stellar performance by Young, especially that wordless, cathartic wail right at the end. Goosebumps every time. Surely everyone has heard this song...if not, sit back and soak it in.

"Every Time You Go Away"
Paul Young


Filthy Trollop (Mother)

Just wanted to emphasize that this is a work of fiction. All of it.

The very thought of writing right now is abhorrent. The sore wrists I know will follow the backspace challenged typing I do, the level of pain to be measured by the number of words typed. How can the physical labor involved in the pushing of little buttons be a deterrent to...what the fuck am I writing here? That doesn't make a bit of sense. I was going to say that I don't like the idea of writing when high on some premium bud. Seems like it would be a buzz-buster, now don't it? Hard enough to type when the noggin is straight, gotta be a killer when stoned.

Many is the time I've had to consider the fact that the world does not revolve around me and that I am the center of nothing. Those spaces between centers, those are the ones in which I would choose to dwell. Usually the times I think of these things are the times when my head has finally exploded into the desire to know the things I think of, finally, exploded into the valley of the shadow of the space between the centers and hell yes, that's where I want to lay down me burden and tell my readership that I have decided to do something I have many times been encouraged to do by my Higher Spirit, of whom we bow and offer obeisances. Yet the demon in me made a lazy man from mine, of whom we bow. Finally, exploded, the secret you've been guessing the mind of which belongs he that is encouraged to do these things in the name of SCIENCE, bow thy humble forms to it's majesticism. Hanging from a cross of suspicion, the need to be crucified into atomic forms still he who sees what he only wants to see, only a cross. A cross of suspicion, a paranoia that almost shields you from the scornful eyes of your bitter mother.

You bitter mother, she left, left you behind, now did she? Yeah, I can see it in your eyes. The one on the left sort of twinkles when I mention her. That's a sure fire indication that you harbor much resentment for that foul bitch.

"That foul bitch is my mother!" you say.

To which I respond, "Yay, brother, that foul bitch is my mother, as well. We share more in common than the emperor we serve."

"'Emperor we serve'! Ha! Ha! I would laugh my stinky ass off to hear of his passing into the other side, where the prize is finding out if there really is a heaven or a hell. Lifetimes spent never once doubting the reality of both. Still, even the most faithful, have a bug of doubt running through your convictions. A little worm of suspicion. I hope he finds out that he's wrong. Another man would wish him right, as a lifetime subconsciously protected from psychotic breakdowns..."

I found his words offensive, so I turned my horses around and we headed north. My mind was plagued with considering the eternal questions, debunking prayer and then praying that my answers to those questions were the right ones. It was distracting, and I was suprised to see him, as his horse caught back up to my party.

"Yo, feller-dude! Do ya think ya could maybe accept my apologies, cause Mister, I got some explaining to do to my wife".

"And what's the deal with your wife? She been lookin' at stuff on the Internet she ain't suppose to be lookin' at? Did you ever cure her of that?"

"I don't think it's any of your damned business, but I thought you might be here to tell me news of our godforsaken mother," I must admit, I was curious about this news even though I'd convinced myself that I wanted nothing more to do with that bitch I call Mother.

"Well, Jeb, you knew that guy that was caught hiding in her closet...our dad got pretty wrecked, you must remember his nervous breakdown. Anyway, there was a rumor that used to make its rounds in this neck of the woods. That daddy of yours had killed that there man in the closet. Yes sir, he did. Now what do I, personally, think of all that? Well, I don't think he would do it. I don't think it was in his nature to kill. I would hope that this would be the case in all men, so it is a desireable trait."

"You don't think he would do something like that, even in his most heated moment, the anger swelling like a water balloon?"

"No I don't, if you want me to tell the gospel truth. Stone truth, that's all you'll get out of me. Here is the message, in full:

'My dear son, Jeb

'I know you think I'm a roto-rooter, little motor scooter, but I don't do this all the time. I had to tell you. It's not as if I "didn't want to", or that I "didn't want you". I just had a difficult time adjusting. I don't think I've even adjusted close enough to success to call it that. But I'm a whore. That's all. What can I do about it? I'm a filthy prostitute, a hooker on the street, a trollop unlocking her bodice and giving the most precious gift in the world to bankers, barbers, butchers, bakers, givers, takers, lovers, haters, killers, men with unclean genitals, men with unclean hands, staining my body. I'm a scag, willing and waiting for cash, it's not gonna hurt anymore. It's not gonna hurt anymore. Precious Jeb, it's gonna be alright. That's what I'm hear to tell you, son of mine. I know you disowned me a long time ago. You've tried every night to exorcise my memory from your mind. You have failed. Failed miserably. But that's alright. I'm only going to be around long enough to write this letter to you.

'That's right. I am going to kill myself tonight. If you haven't heard of it by the time you get this letter, you must alert the authorities and inform them of the location of my body, which they will find hanging from a rope tied around a beam that supports the ceiling in the sanctuary of St. Ignatious.

'Though the fact is that I have been a whore...and at this point it would be ridiculous and futile not to call it what it is...a filthy whore, at that...and yay I was once called to the profession of prostitution. I did this for many reasons, but the real motivation for becoming a prostitute was because I wanted a lot of indiscriminate fucking. I wanted to lay down and know many, many men. Men of all races, religions, customs. Handsome men. Ugly men. Men the same, both with the same dignity and integrity, deserving of equal respect. To see the real man is to look past the imperfections, which are, of course, only imperfections from your own, unique point of view. The reality exists that he is an attractive man in the eyes of many women. So that reality exists. Tap into it, and you will find the most desirable man you have ever known in your life.

'So that's exactly what I did. I tapped into it. Got my money's worth. Them fuglys were starting to look real good and the liquid aphrodisiac I'd been given was really doing the trick.

'Yes, Jeb, I'm your piece-of-shit mother. I'm the one that gave you life, and tonight I'm gonna take my own, and it really messes with my head, am I gonna go down screaming? Am I gonna give it up willingly? Don't mean a thing, y'all, cuz it's gonna happen nonetheless. I just thought you might want to know why I chose to hang myself over any of the other available methods..."

And this is where I get off. Nope. Can't go on with it. My mind's not in a great place right now, with all that "how many ways are there to kill yourself" nonsense. That stuff belongs on the same shelf as the other things I don't mind not knowing and never even want to know.

It's time to say goodbye. I'm gonna have to pull it down a notch or two, expel some of this pot anxiety, don't let it get to the paranoia stage. You can do that. You've done it before, haven't you? Why, sure you have. You're high right now, aren't you? Do you think you would be doing it again if it had ever overcome you? Dude, this is what you LIKE about smoking pot. When every sound is magnified. When music becomes solid. Or liquid. Or even a gas pervading the atmosphere around me in this room. Don't let it scare you. Work with it. You'll find a way to get around this, and when it's done you'll notice how easy it was.

Feeling pretty blasted. Nice throbbing in my brain. Music doing it's job. Losing perception. eoauo jgja dka g irjgoooak kdj oaidoaim. igjo lang kjkk ganga dkkl eiuav. No longer able to type woka jg aliuj jfiaaadi aoi galmost like an emotional shutdown, or what else would I call it? I'm going down down down down I'm going down down down down. I'm going down down down down...actually, I'm not. I'm headed up North to Alaska. I'm following my ugly nose to the wasted roadsl This is thje ea=z a q equivalent of "automati c writingl odij gf faoiej fjf oijajsourijf foisijf slijdji8jeijisomsmfj aoijd fjoe8ji d fojid can someone say something about my crack whore mother, Mary Jerusalem, the Whore of Babylon.


Music Video of the Week: Ohio Players

"Love Rollercoaster"
Ohio Players

"Composed While Watching a Film About Death Cab For Cutie, Distracted"

Am I the one who needs forgiving?
I know what I've done
I know what I've done
I let it build up until it poured out of me
An aura of pessimism
A Super Nova
Blasted Shrapnel
Shards of self-loathing
Scooped from deep inside a dark place
Scorched in the sunlight
And thrown into your face
Tainting your essence
Molding your existence
Into the unpredictable monster
You have become
Hateful, my legacy?
Cruel, my gift?
Hopeless, a birthday present
Year in and year out
Accepted with an unknowing
"Thank You"

Unknown to my own heart
The damage being done
Watching the regression, unaware
Of my part in the disintegration
Never counting the cost
I didn't know what I was buying
Too busy keeping my own demons
At bay
It looks like I've missed one
That damned devil
Found another heart to infest
Found another soul to fuck with
To tease and taunt
A bright light, young and strong
Yet weak enough to be obscured
That damned devil
Like a moon to a sun
Eclipsed the bright shining
Of my own true one
Of my only true One
Is he gone?
Is he gone now?
Is he too far gone?
Have I driven him away?
He taught me what love is
What it means
And I've driven him away
Have I driven him away?
Is he gone now?
Was it me? Have I driven him away?
Is it over now? All I have said and all I have done
Does this mean
I've driven him away?
Each day another mile
Further down the road
Sometimes fast, sometimes slow
Have I driven him down that road?
Shown him the way down the long hard road
That leads to the end
This dead end road that's been my home
I want to drive him away
Far away from my never-never-land
Of inconsistency, Indecision, Confusion Fog
Despair at war with joy
I can't find my way
To the middle of the fence
Because at that point I have to face
The fact
That I have driven him away
Around the world just to get away
Full circle, now its come back home to me
Pretty soon now
He'll wish he was gone
Still consumed by my demon
He'll wish he was gone

For this do I need forgiving?
When my own demons have multiplied
Over so many years, like rabbits in hutches
When no one knew how to drive them away
No one was strong enough
With foresight to see
What those evil fuckers were doing to me
And so what? Who am I?
I'd resigned myself to the life
But I could not have known
The severity of the disease
Or just how contagious it was
It is
So do I need forgiving?
Does the fault belong to me?
Will this guilt be my Sisyphus stone?

Am I out of line to consider
That maybe I'm not the one who needs atonement
Not for this tragedy
Not this one, although it is my whole life
It pains me to say it
But the guilt is supposed to be yours
Maybe I didn't drive the nails in quite hard enough
You're cruel, you tell me you'll take it
But you won't show me how to give it away
I almost think you're the one
Who needs forgiving
But what's the point?
What good would you be
Without anything to forgive?
So let's make a deal...


Beatles & Nirvana...will their legacies survive? Why or why not? Some thoughts.

Here's a little something I wrote at the Classic Rock Forum Redux boards as part of a discussion that revolved around whether Nirvana's legacy will stand the test of time, using the Beatles as a frame of reference. Figured I'd post it here for posterity.


Not to take anything away from the Beatles' music (which would be just plain ignorant), but one of the reasons why they are still considered such a musical powerhouse is because Apple/Capitol/EMI has been so successful in keeping them in the public eye. Examples: it wasn't until three years after the band broke up that a retrospective collection was released ("1964-1966" & "1967-1970"). Three years later came the double album "Rock and Roll Music" which was a huge seller, the same with another double album, "Love Songs" a year later. 1980, big hype for the "Rarities" album. It wasn't until 1987 that the band's catalog became available on CD (a few years after the advent of the medium, wisely held back to pique consumer interest). Unreleased material, a LOT of it on the double disc "Live at the BBC" kept things rolling in 94, with the sprawling "Anthology" collection (with accompanying press juggernaut) rounding out that decade. Then, to mark the turn of the century, a proper Beatles Greatest Hits collection ("1"), re-mastered (just like the "Yellow Submarine (Song Track)"...both of which whetted the appetite of those who were ready for a remaster job on the entire catalog). A few years are allowed to elapse before the unleashing of the "Love" spectacle from Cirque de Soleil and the mash-up CD that came from it (a concept that is so cool that even the most hardened anti-Beatles gen-Xers should agree). That one definitely had an impact in bringing a LOT of people, both young and old, into the fan base. The remasters finally come out, but the real coup in this whole process was "The Beatles Rock Band", which made it "cool" to love the Beatles again, and once again, likely most successfully brought in an entire new demographic.

All of which is nothing new. But I bring it up to make this point... tireless promotion has helped keep the Beatles in the hearts and minds of the public...it has been the primary means through which the legacy has been passed down from generation to generation (or at least made it "ok" to listen to, even though it IS "your parents' music").

When all that stops, what next? Will the music still be acknowledged for it's influence or anything else by even the record buying public? I mean, go into a CD store and ask a few people what they think of Chariey Patton's music and it's a safe bet you're going to get this answer: "Who is Charley Patton"? Or even Robert Johnson. Or Blind Lemon Jefferson or ANY of the blues pioneers whose style is a huge part of what made rock music what it STILL is today. Will that be the case with the Beatles in 2050? Well, I don't know, but the publicity machine has been running strong for FORTY solid years now with no signs of letting up. Yes, the music is timeless...IF YOU'VE ALREADY HEARD IT.

Will that be the case with Nirvana? Will anyone have even heard Nirvana's music in 2050, save the genre's hardcore devotees? And I mean REALLY hardcore, because there will be scads of bands that will come along down that line who will make a LOT of people forget about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Maybe not in 2050, that may be unreasonable, but 2100??? I wish I could be around to find out. Hopefully I'll get the scoop from wherever I happen to be and I can discuss it with Mr. Cobain himself.

Of course, none of the postmortem proselytism of the Beatles (or ANY group) is going to amount to anything if the music isn't relevant to the target audience. The Beatles' music has proven to be. Will Nirvana's be similarly relevant at the close of this century? I'm not saying yay or nay, just thinking, and wondering.

And does it even matter how relevant it is if it's not kept in the public eye? I don't see it happening. I mean, the "passing down" ritual being effectively implemented. Nirvana is a non-entity on television anymore. You SOMETIMES hear them on a modern rock station, but most of the people who listen to that don't give a shit about whether or not Nirvana is going to be appreciated and listened to a few decades from now. It's not like, "Son, come here, listen to this...this is the music that helped shape the person I am today..." God help that person if it is, you know? A man's gonna grow out of that emotional mindset by the time he has children, anyway. IMO.

Geffen sure as hell hasn't done much to keep the band in the spotlight, and the bickering between Love and the Grohl/Novaselik camp hasn't helped matters. Hell, I bought my copy of Cobain's "Journals" in the Clearance section of Barnes & Noble YEARS ago...I'm not sure if that means anything or not... I'm not trying to demean him here, or to say that his work has diminished in value. I'm just saying that IF a performer's legend status is affected by continual promotion, then Nirvana stands on shaky ground.

These are all just thoughts I'm writing down. Different ways of considering the question. I don't think there's any real point in coming flat out and saying, with any degree of confidence, that Nirvana is gonna stand the test of time. Or that the Beatle's reign will end one day. Of course it will. It's all just a matter of predicting WHEN. That's no fun, is it?

So, in order to put it all in perspective for my own peace of mind, I asked my 15 year old son if he'd ever heard of Nirvana. Now my boy is one of the most musically literate people you could know. He has a wide spectrum of musical taste and is very, very passionate about it. New music and old, alike. He loves the Decembrists and Death Cab For Cutie. But he likes Hendrix and the Who just as much. He practically worships the Beatles, but he also loves Sigur Ros, Jonsi, The Postal Service, Jack's Mannequin, the Films, Vampire Weekend...so, as I said, I asked him if he'd ever heard of Nirvana. As I figured, he said yes, he knew of them. I asked if he'd ever heard any of their music and he said yes to that one as well. He liked "Heart Shaped Box". "So you think they will be remembered 40 or 50 years down the road?" He said probably, they would.

A few moments I went back and asked him another question...what do you think of Marvin Gaye? His response? "Never heard of him".

Maybe someday he will...maybe not. I don't know if it even means anything in the context of this writing. But it seemed significant, and I'll leave it you to sort out whether it actually is or not.


Review: "Couldn't Stand the Weather" (Legacy Edition) by Stevie Ray Vaughan

My most recent record review went online at vintagerock.com this morning. A little bit different from what I've been writing lately, but I'm thinking I need to do a lot of different kind of stuff if I want to continue writing these things. I've never been good at "typical". Hope you enjoy...

Stevie Ray Vaughan
"Couldn't Stand the Weather" (Legacy Edition)

Greetings, everyone! I'm Hal Packer, chief curator of the National Rock Gods Museum (not to be confused with the National Rock and Roll Hall of fame, which enjoys a much higher budget).The purpose of our establishment is to give credit where credit is due. To exalt the biggest, greatest and most influential classic rock bands/artists of all time. To basically separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, the winners from the one-hit wonders, the cruisers from the losers. In short, my job is to decide which rockers are worthy of "Rock God" status and which ones just don't cut it. It's not an easy job, because there are a LOT of really good bands that, over the course of the years, have produced albums of such high quality that you'd think they'd be shoe-ins.

What's that you ask? Who is already in the museum? Yes, they are. The Who is already in the museum; In fact, they rank with the best, at the very top of the pantheon. Huh? What's that? Oh, I'm sorry...I thought you meant...

Okay, now that I'm on the same page I'll try to answer your question. Some of the acts that have been inducted are obvious choices. You got your Beatles and your Stones. Most folks will agree that they belong at the very crown of the "Pantheon of Rock Gods," as I like to call it. From that point down, it's like a pyramid that reflects, in order of descent, the talent, influence and over-all ability each particular group has had which demonstrates what classic rock is all about. They are the difference between "Rock" and "Classic Rock".

For instance, Led Zeppelin is pretty close to the top of the pyramid. On the other hand, Quiet Riot feeds at the bottom. Zep will be remembered forever, while the Riot is almost forgotten already. Another example: Alice Cooper still shocks and rocks in the higher realms of the pyramid, while Marilyn Manson, with his over-reaching subconscious attempts to imitate the Coop, will probably never be considered for induction. It's not so much a matter of who is "better" or who is "worse". Objectivity is our aim, but the nature of the nomination process is inherently subjective. A lot of Rock God museum board members (the ones responsible for suggesting nominations), though usually standing in agreement with the others, have radically different understandings of what constitutes a "Rock God". These are the ones who insist that 80s hair metal bands have a place in the pantheon. Then there are those of us to whom the very idea of bringing in these bozos, even as "bottom feeders," is repulsive. And this is where objectivity becomes completely impossible. But hey, don't get me wrong.

It's not my job to convince them, or anyone else for that matter, that these acts are "good" or "bad" or even worth bothering with. If they make it through the gates it will boggle my mind, but I don't have the right to complain about the ones who voted them in, because at least we agree when it comes to the upper strata of the pyramid — Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Genesis, Dylan and Springsteen, the Grateful Dead... you know…that lot.

Anyway, the task at hand, one I take very seriously, is to decide whether or not Stevie Ray Vaughan should be "promoted" from the "Blues Division" into one of the much higher dimensions of the pantheon where the true luminaries dwell. "That should have been done a long, long time ago," you might say, and you'd most likely be right. I probably got sidetracked trying to find some decent new music over the course of the 20 years since Stevie died. I probably got so depressed that I forgot to submit the proper paperwork.

It's not easy, you know, scouring the years, trying to find the best and brightest. Looking for the "next big thing" is not a simple task, I assure you. August 27, 1985 may not have been "the day the music died", but it certainly marked the passing of a talent that has rarely, if ever, been equaled in the blues/rock genre. Stevie Ray's only true rival at the time was Eric Clapton (known to guitar enthusiasts as "God"). I know, I know... that alone should have kicked Stevie up the ladder several rungs. But I'm lazy. I've neglected my duties. Plus, it always depresses me when I think of what SRV was capable of and how close he was to the international recognition he surely deserved. I put on one of his records and it takes me back to a time when such pure talent was a rare and precious thing. A true soulful sound struggling to be heard from the muck of cheesy synthesizers, robotic programmed drums and morose vocalists cashing in on a trend of cookie-cutter commercial crap, destined to wind up being made fun of by snarky comedians and other washed-up performers on one of those stupid "I LOVE THE 80s" shows that litter the airwaves on VH1. You know, the ones that celebrate the monumental musical achievements of the greats: Warrant, Great White, Skid Row, White Lion... uh...I'm only joking, folks. I meant to say "monumental musical excrement of the mediocre..." The fact that you never see Stevie Ray Vaughan on these shows tells you all you really need to know.

Indeed, it is hard for me to put one of Stevie Ray's discs in the player, knowing that it will only make me nostalgic, lamenting 20 years gone by and dwelling on "what could have been". I should be grateful for the music he left behind, though, and try not to be too upset that there isn't, and never can be, any more. It would have been incredible music, for sure. Still, he left quite a bit behind, the quality of which only goes to show what a star he would have become had he been able to stay around. Several top-notch albums and live performances on DVD...even a box-set retrospective. A good lot of stuff there for the fan to get lost in.

Still, you can never get enough, right? Well, boys and girls, today is your lucky day! You've seen those nifty Legacy Edition discs in the stores? You know... the ones with the fancy, schmancy packaging, the "War and Peace"-length liner notes and the extra disc packed with rare, unreleased tracks? Rejoice, SRV disciples! Sony has finally got around to putting out one of those babies for Stevie Ray's seminal second album, Couldn't Stand the Weather. It's about time, right? Well, it's only logical, I suppose, seeing as how we're celebrating the 25th Anniversary of it's original release...okay, it's actually the twenty-SIXTH anniversary, but I imagine that these things take a lot of time to put together. What's a year, right?

I believe I've already waxed philosophical about the last couple of decades, insomuch as I've offered my unsolicited opinion of the relatively dismal state of most rock music during that time span. But I would like to cover a little of that same ground, if you don't mind, as I put forth another of my personal viewpoints, albeit one I'm sure every SRV devotee will have no quarrel with. Couldn't Stand the Weather hasn't aged a single bit since the strange days of Reagan, when it first hit the shelves. Maybe that's because the music is so deeply rooted in the blues. The blues don't seem to get old, do they? There's not a man or woman alive who hasn't had the blues a few times in their lives.

Hell, I know people whose entire wretched lives are practically defined by the blues. I don't know all that much about the guitarist's personal life and history, but he sure must have had a serious case of the blues at some point. But "a little dab'll do ya," so they say. That's all you really need to get a feel for "the Devil's Music." For this reason, among many others, the blues will never die. But is that why Vaughn is seen now by many as the fallen torch bearer of modern blues? Is that why no one has come along who has been able to take that torch from him?

That's part of it, I think. Then again, I also know many a man who claims to despise the blues while conceding, correctly, that Stevie Ray Vaughan was one hell of a good guitar player. Personally, I don't care what kind of music you prefer...if you didn't at least acknowledge Vaughan's incredible musicianship I would write you off as a tone deaf poser with absolutely no conception of what it takes to channel inspiration in such a flawless manner. This has nothing to do with "taste" or even "personal preference". But you surely must understand that here are few musicians who can, in the words of The Boss, "make a guitar talk". Hendrix... Clapton... Beck... oh, there are more, but the list ain't a long one. It does, however, include three initials that every classic rock fan should know: SRV!

Which brings me back to my purpose here. You do remember, right? Rock Gods museum? Pantheon of Classic Rock Gods? I kinda got side-tracked with all the excitement in telling you about the Legacy Edition of Couldn't Stand The Weather. My bad. I can't help but get distracted when I reminisce about the greats. I should get back to work and make my decision.

But FIRST (he says, procrastinating once again)... there is something I should tell you. Do you remember how I was talking about how these Legacy jobs usually have bonus discs? Well, Couldn't Stand The Weather is no exception. Check it out! The ENTIRE late show of Stevie's concert at the Spectrum in Montreal is all right here! Recorded in August of '84 when the man was at the peak of a career tragically cut short, it's an essential piece of history that will thrill SRV fans worldwide. It also makes for a great introduction to his live performance style to anyone who hasn't been lucky enough to hear it yet. Just listen to him throw down a 12-minute rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). It will make the hairs on your arms stand up and bring the goose bumps out of hiding. "Voodoo Chile" has always been my favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan cover, and I've never heard this version, which must rank among the best he ever played.

The second disc of this collection, the Spectrum live show, clocks in at an astounding 76 minutes. When it's all said and done you will swear it was only five. Same with the studio disc, which packs a lot of good music into 79 minutes. In addition to the original album's 8 tracks, excellently remastered, the good folks at Epic/Legacy have included not two, not three, not even five or six, but 11 bonus tracks, each and every one of them previously unreleased! Talk about getting your money's worth! And just in case you're wondering, no, I amnot on Epic's payroll! This is like finding buried treasure.

Included in the first disc's bonus material is a sweet alternate take of "The Sky Is Crying," which comes close to topping the officially released version. Another Hendrix interpretation, "Little Wing," a fan favorite, is presented here in a slightly stripped down manner. Then there's a smokin' version of "Come On" that demonstrates Vaughan's knack for bringing a heavy guitar sound into a typical blues structure...something he did quite often and very well.

A lot of the time, when you hear a blues guitarist, you can't help but notice what I call "stock riffs". These are short guitar lines that, because of the simple nature of blues chord structures, are easily interchangeable from song to song and often even from solo to solo in the same song. It's not necessarily a "bad" thing, and no doubt all blues players have and use them to a certain extent. The best axe men, however, are the ones who don't rely on them too much, whose improvisational chops have been honed to the point where they just aren't as necessary as they might be to the novice. Eric Clapton is a good example. The man's creativity is inexhaustible. It should be common knowledge by now that Stevie Ray Vaughan had that same gift, in spades. He didn't have to go down to the crossroads to seal a deal with Ol' Slew Foot. He had so much soul he could have given away half of it and still had more left than most players could hope for in their wildest dreams.

Okay, I should get back to the original purpose of being here. "Pantheon of Rock Gods"... "Rock God museum"... do you still remember all that? Do you still care? Did you ever care? Oh, I know you did. It's quite an honor for a musician to be promoted into the true Halls of Glory, especially from the "Blues Division" where so many get left behind. Should Stevie Ray Vaughan join the exalted ranks, in the company of the All-Timers?

Well, folks, all it took was one listen to this new Legacy Edition of Couldn't Stand the Weather to remind me of why he was in the running in the first place. Stevie Ray, welcome to the Pantheon. From this moment on you are no longer just an awesome blues man...you are a ROCK GOD.

A Benefit for Clendon Roberts...July 31, 2010

A friend of mine had a huge cook-out/jam session Saturday night. We called it "A Benefit for Clendon Roberts" because the main purpose, according to my friend, was to piss off Mr. Roberts, his neighbor. Roberts earned the wrath of my friend by accusing him of poisoning his dogs and a few other thing things. So the event was planned, with special emphasis on the sheer volume of the PA speakers during the evening... not just when the musicians were performing, but all the time, with DJ'ed music (most of it not very good) pumped up almost as loud as the live music. The speakers were even pointed toward Clendon's house. I would give anything to have seen his reaction to the party.

And a party it was. The turn-out was much higher than expected. There was plenty of food to go around. It was a "BYOB" affair, so there was a lot of brew flowing, but everyone stayed cool, no altercations or any reasons at all for the law to become involved (always a chance with a blow-out like this one). In fact, the only real problem was the unbearable heat. Pervasive heat. Oppressive heat. The kind of heat that makes you sweat buckets without doing any kind of work to earn it. The "benefit" had originally been scheduled for noon until "whenever", but it was just too hot in the early afternoon to do it. Our host moved the start time up to around 5:00 pm. It was still ungodly hot, but not quite as bad. I got there at 6:00, but we didn't start playing music until around 7:30-8:00.

The main reason I came out was because my son, Bryan, was scheduled to play a few songs to kick off the festivities. He played both covers and originals, the latter of which were backed up by me on the bass and his uncle Charles on the drums. He did a fine job and was well-received. I thought he did especially well when he had a band behind him, and that's only natural. It's just a lot easier when you know you're not the only one on the stage, that you can lean on someone who can pick up the slack for whatever... The confidence level increases when you're fronting a band. I really wish he could find some competent musicians in this area with whom he could form a band. He would love that, and it would probably be the best thing that could ever happen to his music career so far. Any musician would be lucky to play for him, because his songwriting is absolutely fantastic. He has a knack for melody that I've rarely seen in anyone, let alone a 15 year old kid. I mean, he's just starting, who knows what he's capable of as he gets older. He writes the kind of melodies that get stuck in your head, that you can't get out of there no matter how hard you try. And I'm not just saying that because I'm his father... others have said the same thing. So any players who are lucky enough to get into a band with him had better hang on tight, because it will be a wild ride. Bryan's talent is almost matched by his ambition and motivation. For the last couple of months he has been recording an EP of original songs, with help from the above mentioned friend, his uncle, and myself. There's still a lot of work to be done, but considering how long we've been working on it I must say it's progressing at a quick pace. He's already put out a disc's worth of covers that he distributed to family and friends... that's what I mean by "ambition" and "motivation".

He did well, and then it was time for a Jubal Modine reunion. JM was the last band I played with before retiring about 2 years ago. We've all played together quite a bit, even before we came together with the Jubal Modine name (under which we made a good deal of money). We did some typical bar band standards - "Further On Down the Road", "Turn the Page", "Werewolves of London" (okay, I don't know how "typical" that one is, but we did it every night with Modine), "Another Brick in the Wall", a request for a Haggard tune that I fulfilled with "Today I Started Loving You Again"...

Watching the video the day after the cook-out, I was struck by how I stood so still while playing, with my head down looking at my fingers on the fretboard almost all the time I was up there. Like a hulk. Before, back when I was playing in the clubs, I was all over the place, moving around, dancing, I just couldn't stand still with a guitar in my hand. Maybe I was just self-conscious because my wife and some of her relatives were in attendance. If so, it worked against me. I looked like a catatonic zombie. Well, maybe that's exaggerating a little bit.

Anyway, here are a few video captures from the "benefit".