Category: la musica
The art of knowing you’re no artist
A good buddy of mine suggested painting lessons recently because essentially I suck at painting. I really do. I definitely suck from most people’s point of view – t’were it you saw my so-called paintings. That’s because I’ve no training at all. Nor do I with music or sculpture. All things I do a lot.
So there sort-of begins the conversation, right? I do these things without any formal training but only, and maybe selfishly, because I really, really dig doing them. I shape heads out of clay. I paint faces on whatever surface I want to – actual canvasses, basement floors, walls, beams, sheets of already printed-on paper. I grab my guitar, play chords poorly, and sing whatever the hell I’m thinking at that moment. And I have the gall to record it, douche bag that I am.
And now don’t be surprised, but none of it is winning any awards.
I know it might be pure laziness that I don’t take the time to learn how to paint an apple in the manner that the masters have. “You must paint an apple, before you can paint a tree,” I can imagine my zen-like artist teacher telling me. But I really don’t want to paint apples. I like painting silly, ever-evolving, cartoonish faces, all the time.
I bought my first 50 lb box of clay without anyone telling me even what the hell was in the box. Clay-like stuff, I figured, rightly. And since then I’ve shaped heads – lots of them. Should I have copied the great works to learn how to sculpt? Certainly, to learn how to sculpt like the masters, but I kind of just wanted to make heads and whatever heads came out of some hours of grabbing, slapping, rolling and shaping the clay, were exactly the heads I really, really wanted to make. That’s why I bought the clay.
It’s like that horrible cliché – it’s the journey and not the destination. But in this case it’s really true. The joy is in the process, the work, and the serendipitous outcome of non-talent meeting rigor. A passionate idea evoked through the foggy lens of a cipher – just some guy messing around with notes, or colors, or clay. It ain’t great, I promise you that. It may not even be art. But it’s me, really quite unfiltered by actual teaching or maybe even talent.
But it’s all good because I don’t want to be good. I just want to do it. I’ve no designs on being an artist, but I do like to make shit up.
Special, Really Special!
i’ll never let you down
Three Dog Days of Summer
It’s hard to say just how cool I thought Three Dog Night’s version of “Mama Told Me Not to Come” was back when it was released and to which I sat listening on the thick shag carpet of my older brother’s basement bedroom playing The Game of Life and surrounded by his LOVE, PEACE and eyeball wallpaper, not to mention Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and maybe surprisingly Steve Gibbons albums passed out on the floor; all this beneath his drop ceiling above which he hid a huge bag of some of the worst ditch weed imaginable – weed, no doubt, actually found in a ditch by some county road near Brainerd and if you really didn’t want to get high you’d smoke a bunch of this shit; and outside his egress-ed window was an old stone wall on the other side of which was a vacant lot where we built an underground fort inside of which we kept a couple of found Playboy and a Oui (French, baby) magazines (back in those days you could occasionally find Playboys or pages from Playboys on the street and I’ve no idea why nor why you no longer do) that appeared to have survived three thunderstorms and burial in dirt for decades and to which the older boys tossed off to now shockingly innocent images lit by candles and choked by incense and the younger boys went inside confused; this fort we decided to protect and what better way than to pound six inch nails through two-by-fours and hide them in the long grass to “catch” anyone trying to get to our fort; one particular nail on which I stomped because I was told to “run and get more nails” and stabbed it up, in and out my right foot leading to nothing more than a tetanus shot and pissed off parents, but 70s parents who then told us,“Don’t be a baby and go back out and play with the others”; and we would walk across the street to Lake Calhoun where there was the Black beach on the north end where they washed and waxed their cars to Stevie Wonder, the gay beach on the east end where they lay sunning to disco, and the hippy beach right in front of us on the southwest side and where I walked with my mom years before and asked, “Why do they all share the same cigarette?” and to which she replied, “They’re poor”, and they looked poor; the lake where I saw a bus stop and 50 Jesus-looking dudes descend down the steps and walk in line in white robes and beards and long hair, handing out pamphlets and clasping their hands in front of them or holding them palms up as if praising the sun or hoping for rain, and looking probably more like one of the dudes from Three Dog Night or Mott the Hoople than the historical Jesus who would have been much blacker; the lake that in those days pretty much no one ran around because pretty much no one ran around anything at all, but we did, and in Converse shoes that totally suck as shoes – unless you’re in some sort of alt-something band and think it’s cool to wear the sort of sucky shoes that we had to wear because that was the only choice besides PF Flyers and they were a little better and while this is when Nike and Pumas and Tigers came out no half-way decent parent was going to pay that much money for tennis shoes for their kids (they’re kids, for god’s sake!); the sort of shoes that we all buy for ourselves, kids and infants now because we’ve become such a bunch of suckers and rubes. Open up the window, sucker, let me catch my breath.
Where Comes Inspiration?
I was born in November 1963 which puts me in the last years of the Baby Boomers or the very first years of Generation X – depending upon who you ask. My older relatives then, those of my same generation, were boomers essentially and those to whom I looked for all things cool – music especially. So my sensibilities were formed around bands from the sixties and seventies – Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Hendrix, Doors, Floyd, Zeppelin, Byrds, and the like. My coming of age however really happened throughout the seventies (I was 7 – 17) and while that is a decade often derided for it’s music it actually introduced us to heavy metal, the ska revival, punk rock, glam rock, electronic, ambient, hip hop and new wave – a staggering line up of musical styles and movements to emerge in a single decade.
We knew at the time that the music was amazing but didn’t really realize that it was a sort of perfect storm winding up all around us. However it was extremely short lived and while buckets of great music have been made since, much of that is derived quite directly from one or more of those styles. Certainly all music is derived to some degree from that which preceded it, but a brand new musical style that leaps ahead and brings with it a new sound, corresponding fashion, attitude and so on, seems to be eluding us. Something is missing and I have no clear idea what that is. …
Certainly, the sixties and seventies saw generations of young people who had an almost grim determination to not be like their parents. There was a distrust of the System (Vietnam and Nixon both taught us that despite the fact that we elect these folks and that they are OUR leaders, they can be wrong, criminal and criminally wrong). There was a sense from civil rights and the women’s movement that ALL people need to be respected and have some sort of equal chance at the good life, jobs, education and so on. It was also not lost on us at the time that growing up white and middle to upper class in America gave us every advantage in the world and that nothing could essentially change that. We all took off with a fifty yard start in the 100-yard dash of life and success.
I don’t know this to be fact but it feels like much of that has been forgotten or never learned recently, The somewhat anemic Occupy protests were a welcome attempt but never galvanized around any issue and felt more like some sort of flash mob than anything else. The only other rage in this country right now comes from my contemporaries – those who also grew up with same advantages that most of the rest of the world (now and throughout all of history) would simply roll over and die for – and is inspired not by their sense of injustice for the poor, women, the downtrodden or any others, but because they feel they pay too much taxes. We, of course, pay the lowest of all western nations. What happened to their sense of gratitude and thankfulness for their lot in life eludes many of the rest of us.
However, maybe the next generation – those who are in diapers now – will grow up so appalled by the niggardly among us that they will burst out with something totally new. Maybe our self-righteous avarice will be exactly what they rebel against and bring back that desire and demand for real truth, fairness, justice for all and a return to a maybe mythic American way when people came together, compromised, helped the poor and wretched, and thought more about how much they have and how much they can share than how much they get to keep all to themselves. A time when your country and conscience came before your party. Maybe even a resurgence of the real Christianity that teaches us to give away our riches, rather than hoard them and complain when we are asked to give.
And maybe not.
I’ve always felt that greed is the basis if all evil. It will never go away. But maybe, just maybe, the next generation will see it for what it really is and at the very least use it to artistically blow our musical minds like The Specials, Kraftwerk, Eno, Sex Pistols, Bowie, and Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five did. Have at it, kiddies! We need you desperately.
people crave ritual
people crave ritual
and not much more than that
A balloon is mostly empty space
but then again so am I
gravitating toward the ground
yet she can float up to the sky.
I guess it’s her propensity,
and relative density
that leaves me here on terra firma.
But terra, too, is hardly firma.
The space between the particles
is vast as planets ’round the sun,
the distance of their orbitals;
and it’s not hard, it’s hardly there
just tiny specks, to say, is fair:
like grains of sand spread far apart
that hold up ox and man and cart.
Now let’s dig deeper, to the protons,
electrons, quarks and, now it’s, jeepers!
Electric strings that make us all,
harmonized, lest we fall
through the earth, like unballoons
thank God he plays the proper tunes.
Some dissonance, oh, lord, that harp!
We’re gonna die, He’s playing sharp!”
Imagine that. Imagine God.
We’re good at that. We wink and nod.
But others like to look much deeper
find their truths, each one a keeper.
String them together to fashion a rug
that holds us up so we can shrug,
ignore the beauty beneath our feet
and gasp at heaven’s phantasmal feat.
Rufus Cappadocia beats the hello out of his cello
Wielding his bow whip – Whappity-Whap-Whap!
Scratching and clawing, pulling and mauling,
But lovingly like the guy in the O. Henry story.
I’ll bet that he’s sorry as soon as he’s done with
The smacking and whacking, backhanded slap hits,
He probably rubs her with oil so softly
And trembling hands and words that sound awfully
Like love songs.
A part of me wonders if she doesn’t like it
I’m judging by sounds that she makes when they’re fighting
Don’t judge me I’m not some sick sadist whose heartless
I’m quick to repel from violence that’s artless
But this guy can hit it, can hit it real good
Right in the sweet spot where pain meets the wood
And the vibrating strings where the pleasure reverbs
Through her beautiful body and elegant curves
And together they sing and both bodies ring
Flicking and clicking, plucking and