Archive for November, 2012

Friday Album Portrait – Nadja’s “Dagdrom”

November 30, 2012

Dagdrom- a Danish word meaning daydream, or reverie… a perfect album title for a band who describes the music they make as “a heavy blanket of sound to tuck you in at night.” Toronto’s “ambient doom” duo Nadja (Aidan Baker & Leah Buckareff) have been cranking out CD-Rs and EPs since 2003, but their latest offering confirms that they have sharpened their game of droning guitars, thudding bass-lines, and epic song structures into a sonic-phenotype that is without parallel… a genetic mutant beating natural selection at her own game.

The husband-wife duo (how a group can tour with this dynamic is completely beyond me) who spends time between Canada and Berlin decided to add percussion from The Jesus Lizard’s Mac McNeilly, providing more space and slam to already mind-chasming soundscape. Baker believes the rock-aspect of the album (compared to their back catalog) makes Dagrdrom more accessible (see: opening push of Space Time & Absence)… it certainly got to me.

The opening track, ‘One Sense Alone,’ is the perfect drop-off for the subconscious’ drift into the archetypes… a simple thundering, fuzzing guitar line pulses with simple rhythms to ease things out like a raft pushed off the shoreline, into the depths. The riff twists around unintelligible lyrics that become the framework for whatever the words should be, according to the dreamer. ‘Falling Out of Your Head’ rolls smooth and subtle to start, continuing from the previous track, but with a snare roll and a ominous feeling of thunder approaching the song begins to accelerate… the pace tightens as a high-frequency beep begins to fill out the spaces between smash and sludge… a fire alarm in the distance, an ambulance on its way, the tornado sirens pleading for the citizenry to take cover… and then back to the slow pulse. A nightmare… evaded for now… until the warning bells chime and the seizure resumes.

Their title song ‘Dagdrom’ swirls and obfuscates like the remnants from a nuclear explosion, a sandstorm of isotopes and radioactive flashes and chemical fuzz… it has all the qualities of a lucid dream, maybe even part night-terror… the body begging, fighting itself to move against the catatonia of the midnight’s innate fear. ‘Space Time & Absence’ is the album’s high intensity opener, the last call for cosmic consciousness. There is a distinct refrain that beams through the penumbra, an almost My Bloody Valentine feel to the yearning lyrics… distance, yet immediacy … again your temporal lobes are filling in Baker’s amorphous syllable runs. It ends on a lonely, singular tone, fading and droning from the dream-state back to reality… the fugue has ended, and now we are awake.


The Republican (and Democrat) Zeal

November 28, 2012

Here’s the scenario: a history altering, society fragmenting paroxysm occurs (see: syndicated Prime-Time television slots, anything published by Erich von Daniken, all underground home-security-bunker manufacturers). Whether it’s 2012 or 2013 or 2058… time is irrelevant and by definition temporal, the date is arbitrary… so long as the DoomsDay event takes place within your lifetime. Picture it… pressed up to the crowd-control barriers at the Mothership’s red-carpet premiere, outside the door while Yosemite flushes her bowels, seas boiling and rivers sanguine and pestilence raging. With all of the modern conveniences shot to hell, the electrical outlets dried up from the inside out, humanity would be shoved back into the arms of nature…kind and cruel as she may be.

Life would get local, in a hurry. Airline executives would cease to exist and traveling salesmen would turn in their four-wheels for two-legs.  But worse than any plague of locusts or touched down aircraft, with their digital ensoulment at stake, people would find themselves face to face with their neighbors… conversing! It wouldn’t be by choice, but there are too many problems to be solved that require a group consciousness (and no porn left to keep us shut off in our bedrooms). There are the obvious issues concerning food & shelter & water, and more complicated matters like healthcare & education & establishing some semblance of law and order. Meetings will take place in church basements blooming with cigarettes and burnt coffee and all the conviviality, minus the BigBook.

Everyone takes a breath as things start to get tricky.

How do you establish a community? Where are the boundaries drawn, the circles extended to? How do you maintain a sense of unity, of trust, of cooperation & compassion, of a society based on the other and not the self… how do you prevent the inevitable murder & rape & pillaging & exploitation, a possee-based surge for control (aka owning the water supply and regulating the food stuffs, brandishing the big guns and burning the gasoline)? How do we prevent our atavistic genetic remnants from pushing back into the phenotype of humanity?

There are the religious who have been seeking and sought and will forever seek a strictly dogmatic and Church-regulated society. Many saints and bone-readers have predicted a golden age of Christianity, when followers live according to the code and all worship the same entity, angels & holiness & harmony. The upsides are obvious but the downsides wax heavy like an attack on free-will. Any structure claiming divine backing or a firm hold on the truth ought to be examined skeptically… when any social structure is based on the same & essential church-state relationship as Sharia Law (see: 9th century, buried in the Persian sands), most level-headed individuals back away.

Others… my good brethren the anarchists, the unaffiliated and unfettered humanists, Noam Chomsky & The Relentless Seven… they would call for secular communities, pockets of self-sufficiency and sustainability, where each man works according to his skills and is dealt with fairly by his peers, united with fellow worker & representing himself as himself, not via a partisan official. Eliminate the corruption, the control for power, give the voice back to the electorate… ideology is sweeter than honey because it has to mask a poison. What a joy it would be to thrive in Platonic tripartites of love and reason and equality! But the ancient Achaeans, like the anti-establishment heroes of today (however well-intentioned they may be), have underestimated the reptilian complex of the triune brain. Like attracts like in all group dynamics, and left unregulated and unrestricted the worst of humankind’s worst would hole up in the cities and urban areas, historically dark and dank breeding grounds… gang warfare and tribalism would reach new levels of bloodshed and metropolis’ would become so rife with despicability that leatherheads from Gomorrah would flinch at the scenery.

There are plenty of other ways to go about aggregating man to men other than the aforementioned (see: feudalism, Amazonian shamanism, Huxley’s Island), but countless flaws reveal themselves in each process. Are there any positive outcomes? Is their one unifying factor to keep us from destroying each other, and ourselves? The answer is simple yet incredibly powerful… the love of country (and the consumption of entheogens).

It is our Red White & Blue blood that would illuminate the path of uncertainty… coursing through our hearts and, during the most desperate of passages, our souls. The Patria, The Fatherland… the most important vehicle in a citizen’s life besides God. The simple gesture of waving a flag can bring a throng of idiots to silence (see: sports arenas before the tip-off/first-pitch/face-off)… eyes move to the air, weapons to the floor. Man/Woman needs a country to believe in, an entity outside of ourselves to guide the way when Mr. & Mrs. John & Jane EGO start cluttering the apartment complex with their over-sized wigs and long-legged stags.

In a moment of smoky afterthought last evening, I realized such morale, such patriotic zeal inhabited the deepest core of a dear friend of mine (call him Turk – and call this the ‘under the nose’ thesis). Turk is a stalwart Republican. Most of the azul has been diluted from his veins by steady doses of Dennis Miller & Glenn Beck & Sean Hannity & handmade potato vodka (the last of which I have no qualms). He is unsure of Obama’s citizenship status and has made it a personal matter to seek & destroy 9/11 conspiracy theorists… you get the picture (hell you’ve been conjuring St. John the Divine’s End of Days since the start of this article… just a step further). Despite all the chest-puffing and non-sequitors, Turk’s finest quality (amongst his many) is at the root of his Conservative ideals… a USA GO KICK SOME ASS mentality. I have seen him smoke a cigar and listen to the ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’ song on repeat for three or four hours, sipping on Bud Diesels and meshing himself into the dream of the cosmos… it is precisely that energy & undying belief in liberty that would carry us through an apocalypse, as well as a host of other challenges that don’t necessarily carry the same spiritual magnitude (and overall bummerishness).

The Left must love the Right for their Kentucky moonshine, pheasant hunting, tightly rolled cigarettes and pictures of Jesus above Ma’s kitchen… for Turk, the old sailor. The Right must learn that every point doesn’t determine the match, today is not our last and that we must save the battle cries for when we go to battle, not when we sit at the table of our brothers. Two sides and much to learn before one voice is reached… more to come.

Pete Wells vs. Super Cindy

November 19, 2012

This is a review of a review… bear with me. Last week, for whatever reason, it was brought to my attention by one co-worker that another co-worker (co-workers love to detail the lives of other co-workers in secret… trips to the bathroom, stalling around the vending machines) has a knack for writing about fine dining. The now infamous NY Times Guy Fieri review lit up the internet and food reviews were trending… as an aspiring author I was naturally interested (the other co-worker happens to be an older blonde whom I may or may not be trying to sleep with) and began to decipher her YELP.COM reviewer profile.

I stumbled upon a posting for an Argentinian BYOB-Steakhouse on the northside of Chicago… Tango Sur. Unfortunately after reading I don’t see much of a future for us anymore… at least beyond the drunken blackness of a Friday midnight and a quick get-away Saturday morning… but hopefully you enjoy this as much as I did.

Tango Sur and I are breaking up. I’ve brushed some questionable service issues off my shoulder over the years, but last night was the final straw. Just your standard case of unrequited love. I loved you Tango Sur…for nearly a decade. But you never appreciated me – I know this now.

Yes, it really started off like this, I shit you not. All of the bold is me, the rest… Cindy. Now I haven’t clocked the required hours for a Masters in Psych, but I’d venture to guess that Cindy (for namesakes) has endured a lifetime of unrequited love, perpetually under-appreciated and under-valued, looked over by the higher ups, guys valuing her only for her blonde locks and well proportioned chest… from the crib to culinary criticism, this poor girl has given everything she’s had only to be met by a cruel & inattentive world. “I know this now…” a coming of age moment, after years of abuse and insincerity… we are the lucky witnesses to this table-side epiphany.

Nearly nine years ago when I moved to Chicago (a dark day in the City’s history) Tango Sur was recommended to me by a co-worker and after experiencing their amazingly inexpensive yet divine cuisine, and adorable setting, I was head over heels in love (or as I would come to find out – blinded by love). I was so in love (guarantee she has three miniature dogs she also is ‘in love’ with… I pray they are not obfuscating her views on life with flashlights and strobes and other blindness-inducing accessories) I continued to frequent the venue for celebratory gatherings (birthdays, engagement parties, etc.) and anytime I had an out of town guest, Tango Sur was the first place I would take them. While working retail on Michigan Avenue (a fantastic qualifier statement if I’ve ever read one) I even recommended Tango Sur to tourists assuring them it would be worth the $20 cab ride to and fro. Honestly, Tango Sur should have been paying me – I was a referral/advertiser/supporter (incredible that such a talented & multi-purpose’d individual could only find employment in the retail industry) and never asked for anything back in return but average (often times less than average) service and meat – delicious, perfectly executed meat – and lots of it! (I don’t think I need to comment on the exclamation mark… get there on your own) But looking back I should have seen the warning signs. I mean, once a server argued with me when I politely informed (oxy-moron… moron?) him the empanadas he delivered to the table were cheese and spinach when we had actually ordered chicken. “No, you ordered spinach and cheese.” Um. What. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the actions of the staff last night…. (Cindy has added another period to the ellipsis for dramatic effect… success!)

I arrived with my parents, a couple of friends, and one Tango Sur virgin at 7:55PM for our 8:00PM reservation. We were told we were the next table to be seated once a six top left so we were kindly escorted to the waiting area where we were told we could pop our wine while we waited – standard practice. We waited several minutes for glasses and when none came, I sought out the host (Cindy politely informing a server again… I can’t believe what this neglected little angel had to put up with, especially when she is the sole source of business for the boys at Tango) and asked if we could have a few glasses for our beverages. I was told they were short on glasses but that some should be available shortly. I won’t go into too much detail about what transpired over the next hour of waiting in that room but let’s just say, an hour wait when you supposedly have a reservation is made tolerable by drinking wine… (here’s an idea, Cindy… open the fucking bottle and slug it down. Puff puff pass… or do you need your vin rouge to breathe? Does it have to exhale so the tannins can take on bold lavender and blueberry hues? How wide does the rim of the glass have to be to get that just-right scent of asshole and overhang sweat as it hits your lips?) however, because over that hour no glasses were ever made available to us, we sat staring at our full bottles of wine… (again, pop the fucking bottle and put it to your lips… your with relatives Cindy!) and at each other… (if I’m the ‘Tango virgin’ and Cindy+family are eying me down, I’m bee-lining to the bathroom with a half gram of cocaine and a couple of synthetic opiates) agitation growing by the minute. I politely (a hero of decorum) checked on the status of the glasses a few times while we waited always being told they were coming. And when checking on our status in line – “you’re next.” But once the clock struck 9PM, my frustration could no longer be contained. My guests were yawning, and I was hungry. So I approached a server and asked if we could get ANY glasses – whether that be a coffee mug, water glass, just something (this is the only part of the review I find suspect… Cindy was not drinking her 2004 Malbec out of a ‘World’s Best Boss’ ceramic mug) so we could ease our frustrations of waiting an hour with some wine. His response… “PLEASE!!! (maybe she wasn’t that polite after-all… I mean she forgot the MAGIC WORD for Chrissakes… and now this non-English speaking waiter is forced to correct her shoddy upbringings) Can you have some glasses, PLEASE!! As you can see we don’t have any and NO we won’t give you ANY glass. We’ll give you WINE glasses when they are available but we don’t have any.” (capitalizations captivating the readership…)

As if the hour we had already waited for our RESERVATION wasn’t bad enough, tears welled up in my eyes from being berated in front of fellow patrons. (Cindy knows any and all patrons at Tango Sur, seeing as she is responsible for them being patrons in the first place… hence the tears… shit do histrionics turn me on) And with that, we packed up our belongings (wine bottles, clutch purses, dignity) and headed for the door. As we approached the host he pointed to our table thinking we were coming to sit (think again, bud!), but we continued on, letting him know we would be dining elsewhere (the Tango virgin has by this point come out of the bathroom, in a dazing smile, and is hell-bent on filling his dynamite-leveled consciousness with some slow roasted meat… and lots of it!). Management followed behind to find out why we were unhappy but the apology didn’t feel sincere(people who don’t trust the sincerity of an apology = want their sphincters cleansed by tongue (and I’m not talking cardiac)), nor did they make much of an attempt to convince us to stay and make things right – after all, they probably had another pissed off party of six they could seat once they wiped their hands clean of us (just a small town girl living in a lonely world… goddamn expendability turns me on). All the while I was wiping tears away, completely embarrassed as diners (aka my best friends) observed our exchange. (for clarity’s sake, who is the our? Does she really think her old man and boyfriend give a shit about her wine glass tears? The former is already texting Mistress Misty for when Cindy’s mom passes out… hopefully, once we get the wine going… and the latter is doing speedballs in the fucking bathroom!)

Honestly (adverb one), my feelings are hurt. After all this time, and so much loyalty to this business, in the end I found out I’m just another customer to them…really (adverb two) less than that. Ironically (adverb three), my server from my very first visit in 2004 (this may be the other section of her diatribe I find to be a bit, absurd… I can’t remember a single server in any dining experience in my life…but then again her first visit was more or less a religious pilgrimage… I’ll have to consult William James for how memories are stored during a conversion experience) happened to be the very same gentleman who followed us out to issue an apology. I’m sure he sees so many people in and out, he probably (adverb four) didn’t make the connection – perhaps if he had, he would have tried harder to save the relationship. (save the relationship… I really hope Tango virgin has gotten his hands on more narcotics by this point… it’s not me, it’s you baby!)

Break ups are hard. But there are plenty of fish in the sea. Or in this case, steaks in the city. And I intend to find one served with a side of customer appreciation. (Cindy… before it seemed like all you needed was a healthy portion of meat shoved into your mouth to find happiness? Now we have to be polite about it?)

There are some lessons to be learned… do not limit the drinking of wine to wine glasses, passing a bottle is good for the soul… never take dining recommendations from a retail associate… most/all blondes are insane… hyperbole is best served cold. Just remember folks, this really happened and there are real people like this walking around the world, free and with easy access to firearms… res ipsa loquitor!

Friday Album Portrait – Om’s “Adviatic Songs”

November 16, 2012

Label affiliation has gone completely to the wayside. The notion of flipping through a label’s catalogue at your local record store is silly… we have iGenius and PandoraRadio and the ‘How are you feeling?’ tab on Spotify that can tailor-make a playlist within nanoseconds to match your interior landscapes of ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ or ‘tweaking like an abandoned Harlow monkey.’ As in all things 21st Century, the personal and creative aspects have been raped from the process and we are no longer trusted to find our music ourselves. Our loyalty is to the dollar, to the fad, to what the public perceives as cool or hip or must-have… preferably all of the above. Packaging fees, marketing campaigns, capital capital capital… money at the root, once again. But there are ways to maintain autonomy despite this Orwellian freak-out, and nothing beats the corporate brand better than small label allegiance.

Holy Mountain has brought me more musical nuggets than any smart-phone app…… from my first encounter I have been successful in finding a dense psychedelic sound within the band pages of this Oregon-based label. Birds of Maya, Cloudland Canyon, Moon Duo, M. Geddes Gengras, Wooden Shjips… I have relied on these unique and powerful sounds to introduce other people to music they wouldn’t have access to via their Facebook friends’ Likes. Today, I bring you my personal favorite, fresh off the sacred summit… Om.

Om is comprised of stoner metal legends Al Cisneros (vocals, guitar) and Chris Hakius (drums), and by legends I mean they comprised the core of the 90’s band Sleep that recorded one of the most quintessential doom/stoner/heavy/black metal albums of all time, Dopesmoker. Cisneros & Hakius have been around the game for 20 years and their sound as Om shows. Their latest release, Adviatic Songs, tones down the molten riff-splitting of earlier days and exchanges it for a mantra-based exploration of sound and space. Adviatic Songs boils psych, drone, metal and chant in a cauldron of Sufi spirits and Vedic potions to form one of the more interesting albums I’ve encountered this year.

A lone female voice in deep chant opens the album with ‘Addis’ (… you feel as though the sun has just risen from the ground, leading pilgrims and hermits to the center of a bosky ashram. The lyrics are in fact a prayer to Shiva (the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra), the Hindu god of destruction & meditation, to overcome spiritual death. Om is not concerned with the material world… layers of violins and a haunting piano gently fill into the guitar riffs as her prayer ends and the journey begins. ‘State of No-Return’ ( continues the purification ritual, a heavy rolling attack to put some contrast to the album’s opener. The opening prayer has been offered, but now the battle of many planes begins… “From the rounds of rebirth, he arrives onto the deathless”… the name of the album, Adviatic Songs, seems to be a Hindu reference the process a disciple must go through to attain higher levels of consciousness and experience… the aesthete rejecting his senses, the yogi perched on his deerskin mat moving through another level of experience.

The Kundalini slowly rises with ‘Sinai,’ a single steady tone that Cisneros’ distorted vocals uncoil, unafraid as it approaches the lotus, the summit… “Reabsorbed on the peak of the mountain.” Finally the tension cracks with an airy bass-line, pulsating just enough to carry the song into an infusion of cymbal crashes and hovering violins… the initial tone remains at the base of the tree, the source of energy for the song’s progression up the chakras.

 ‘Gethsamene’ and ‘Haqq al-Yaqin,’ in name only, show the diversity of the material from where Cisneros is drawing inspiration… the first song title ( referring to the garden in which Christ’s great agony took place, sweating blood and asking the Father for a way out… the music itself, pensive & expansive with a seashore-drone churning in and rushing out, perhaps the Savior breathing deeply, feeling life inside him before his trials.  The second track is named for a Sufi liberation concept that means the individual is in ‘the total reality of certainty,’ a fitting way to end the experience… at the top of the mountain, in which knowledge is not restricted to the intellect, but becomes the entirety of the person… you are the vision.

Dick Morris Redux

November 14, 2012

I couldnt resist coming back to this festering assemblage of excreted skin particles… after that prediction, come on man!… what an adipose tissue’d stockpile of premature ejaculations and fat lip’d assholes.

Maybe God is still with us…

Why does it always start with a Nixon campaign?

November 13, 2012

The heat from the summer of ’68 was starting to choke out the American spirit… students shut down Columbia College as young people across the country sat out of classes and occupied school buildings (back in the days when students had a set, and weren’t financially constricted by the system) to protest the increasingly deadly war in Vietnam, Sirhan Sirhan fired a bullet through Bobby’s head and blew out any chance of the country cleansing away the blood left over from Dallas in ’63, the Yippies boarded the trains heading for the “Festival of Death” in Chicago… but the collective sweat lubricated enough love to keep a portion of The Great American Dream in sight… Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East as a home away from home for The Dead, the population of Drop City, CO was growing in both number and vigor, Zappa paid homage to Owsley Stanley (the finest organic chemist since Albert Hoffman) and the Merry Pranksters hosted the whole gang at 24 hour tantric-freedom-fests along the Bay. The counter culture was peaking in America, ebbs and flows and running streams of psychic energy inundated the country… but a free-fall loomed with the outcome of the General Election and the introduction of Richard Nixon onto the world stage.

Grover Norquist spent the summer of 1968 as an eighth grade dimwit filing Get out the Vote cards for the Nixon/Agnew campaign… even before the onset of puberty (I could at least legitimize an argument that hormone imbalances sent the cross-eye’d little bastard out of whack) he supported the restoration to “law and order” (rhetoric Nixon dolled up to convince white-racist-Southerners he had their back in the civil rights ‘problem’) and had bought into the sensationalism of the Party of the Rich. You may be asking yourself, ‘Self, who the fuck is Grover Norquist?’

Watch. Yes, he said ‘poopy head’…  now read on.

If you’ve had the appetite to continue following politics even after our November media blitzes, you’re well aware we are approaching a ‘fiscal cliff.’ After three years of kicking the can, Congress is forced to make some serious economic decisions involving how to handle the nation’s debt and deficit. As in all things fiscal, the issue of taxes sits as a key point of contention between Republican and Democratic camps. One side is alright with an increase, especially on the wealthiest tax brackets, while the other side flat out refuses any kind of tax increase. What is the reason for their position? Has their economic research been so robust, their empirical evidence so stout… or is it simply American’s for Tax Reform.

ATR was created by Grover in 1985 at the behest of then president Ronald Reagan (championed as the tax-lowering, government slashing Hero of the Right… even though he raised taxes eleven times in eight years) as a pledge to the American people to keep taxes as low as possible. Essentially it is an anti-tax pledge that is a mandatory requirement for any Republican lawmaker or public servant that wants a chance at re-election. Grover has the influence and the power to order a strangle on any GOP candidate hopeful of capturing national attention (see: re-election efforts of George the Elder in 1992), and he has wielded ATR as a tool of fear for over twenty years within this nation’s governing bodies to promote the interests for one stratum of society: the rich.

Once George the Dumber took office he made sure not to make the same mistake as daddy. Instead he allowed corporations to continue running their books offshore (illicit tax havens cost the American public $50 Billion annually in the early 2000’s… and that was before the Dumber pushed through the American Jobs Creation Act…  nowadays, well check these numbers out and provided $1.6 trillion in tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals right off the gate. Then he slashed capital gains & inheritance taxes in April 2003 with a bill that provided the top 1% with 53% of the new cuts even after the mirage of Clinton era surpluses had vanished from the horizon. There may not have been much good to come from the eight years of Cheney/George the Dumber except for empirical proof that the philosophy of trickle-down economics produces only one thing: a growing disparity between the rich and the poor. The argument of “They’ll spend all their tax break money on R&D and forming new small-businesses and investing in infrastructure and American values” has been completely nullified. There’s more money in corporate savings accounts than ever… they don’t want to go the long, difficult course. They want quick fixes and easy money. To invest in Wall St. or Washington has now become a much more viable option than putting cash towards the American people.

But the average voter, the average American, the average wage-earning and God-fearing citizen, the fabric of our great nation… they cannot see that their ‘average’ interests and ‘average’ incomes couldn’t be further bastardized by the Republican Party and guys like Grover Norquist. Joe 6-Pack has never heard of Grover, even though he runs the production company Joe’s favorite American Drama is being played out by. Think about this: taxes for the wealthiest brackets were marked at 70% during JFK’s stay at Camelot… 70%! And you know what? Howard Hughes still managed to have some fun in the 1960’s despite the tax structure. These highly progressive taxation measures helped fund the building of America after WW2 and catapulted our rise as a world power and economic leader. Spending, in those days, determined the lynchpin between Democrats and Republicans… but luckily our political struggles have evolved. Now the 400 wealthiest American’s pay an average of 17% … and I can’t even imagine the escapades of our current uber-rich… at least the ones they don’t show on reality-television shows.

The point is, at the end of the day, if you’re not banking on a trust fund from grandpa to mature or supervising daddy’s oversea business interests or sitting pretty on the books after mommy’s third stroke, you’re a goddamn fool to be supporting the Grover Norquists of the world. If you want to create an economic caste system and label it as democracy while you tout abortion laws and arguments about lazy minorities everywhere you go, then this is your party… but this is not your blog.

Friday Album Portrait – Father John Misty’s “Fear Fun”

November 9, 2012

Fleet Foxes is a polarizing band amongst  many indieheads (when I spellcheck indiehead it recommends ‘snakehead’) and audiophiles… some can’t get enough of their choral harmonies, the folksy atmosphere, their layered song meanings and musicianship while others are detracted by their glaring NorthWest connection & associated attitudes, Newsweek’s Song of the Year nod for ‘White Winter Hymnal,’ a Rolling Stone interview entitled “Fleet Foxes Get Existential on their Second Album”… Pitchfork loves them, so I tend to grow weary. This past week, however, I was brought into contact with what I consider to be one of the best singer/songwriter albums of the year (fuck off Cat Power), and it just so happens the offering came from a now ex-member of Fleet Foxes, a Mr. Joshua Tillman. Apparently he has his qualms with the band too…“I had this moment of clarity. At some point you reach an impasse in your life which becomes either mobilising or immobilizing. I was at the end of one of those long arcs of depression, which became so ingrained I wasn’t aware of how functionally unhappy I was. It had reached critical mass and I released something had gone terribly wrong and I had to get out.”  I couldn’t be happier that he got out because under the moniker Father John Misty, Tillman serves up one hell of a hootenanny with Fear Fun.

On his inspiration for the album, Tillman explained, “I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice…. It was a while before that voice started manifesting in a musical way, but once I settled in the Laurel Canyon spider-shack where I’m living now, I spent months demoing all these weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences almost in real-time…” Not surprisingly one of my favorite songs, ‘I’m Writing a Novel,’ describes his experience in a more round about sort of way with the help of a ghost-faded organ line reminiscent of Ray Manzarek and a guitar riff that sounds like the missing link between country and rock… 50’s and sexy and revved up on benzedrine.

Tillman ended one of the interviews I read with a “This album has some fucking soul,” and he’s right.  ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ ( ) is anthemic, it’s desperate, it thumps right along the chakra lines… he cries out “Someone’s got to help me dig!” and as your feet stomp and hands clap you search the room for a spade… his last verse is a brilliant moment of confusion and ennui, a perfect blend of humor and honesty and love in the 21st Century…

I laid up for hours in a daze
Retracing the expanse of your American back
With Adderall and weed in my veins
You came
I think
Cause the marble made my cheeks look pink
But I’m unsure of so many things
 The album seems to center around LA, as an urban metaphor and also literally as almost every song has a California reference point, but the topics addressed seem to kart-wheel from there…about growing older, about our need for companionship and real love (not just ego pampering), about being lost and concerned, and then not really worrying too much about it because being found might be an almost worse fate… what’s an adult anyways? We wear the same quirks, the same emotional tizzies and personality warpings that we dawned in childhood, except now we can vote and fuck and smoke cigarettes. If you’re not aware of your own insecurities, if you’re not alright in admitting you might be a little insane and not all that concrete… well in my experiences I’ve found the self-convinced to be the craziest ones out there. It’s important to have a little fun in spite of all the contradictions and fear and loathing and slow soul death…”We could do ayahuasca, baby if I wasn’t holding all these drinks.”
There are so many parallels to draw between Tillman’s work and other quality artists… most of the album runs alongside a Edward Sharpe hand-stomp-clap undercurrent that makes you feel like the recording was done either in a church choir loft or a paint-chipped porch in the middle of Savannah cooling off the mid-day sun. In ‘Only Son of the Ladies Man’ (awesome song title) he arranges the verses in a way that really connects to Arcade Fire’s ‘Sprawl II’ and proves just as catchy. There’s Tennessee bluegrass, there’s Neil Young scuzz, there’s hovering cathedral tones, there’s Mason Jenning’s lyrical savvy with the hippy-dippiness of Woods… it sounds old and new, strong but fragile… perfect for a dead-of-winter Midwestern bonfire, Uncle Ken passing around a gallon jug of Alex-Grey-skyway-blotter-spiked orange juice (if you catch this nod to Kesey, you’re on the right track), deer meat on the spigots… roasting.

Derby Day for Mitch McConnell

November 8, 2012

Picture a U.S. Senator from Kentucky… bourbon on the breath, deep chewing tobacco stains along the incisors, a metaphysical distance between himself and the rest of urbanization, calm cool & somewhat aloof, many more smiles than frowns… a certain Norman Rockwell quality to the whole scene.

Enter Mitch McConnell… Senate Minority Leader, Kentucky statesman (allegedly) and all-around son-of-a-bitch. Now you’re mental picture shifts… cheeks pulled back, eyes crossed and pitch black, whiskers fidgeting and nose lifted… a vole tirelessly hoarding currency in the corner of some twisted sado-sex shop. No horses or bluegrass or traces of Americana left, only a rodent and his thoughts.

McConnell’s reaction to the election:  The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control. Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office. To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way.

You have to see this snide, puckering little bottom-feeder of the animal kingdom in his natural habitat… … did you catch that smirk at the end? Pause the video and look for it… I’m sure the good god-fearing people of Kentucky are delighted they elected you to solely attempt to deface and demean the PRESIDENT OF THE FUCKING UNITED STATES (aka leader of the free world, a symbol of good in an ever-expanding veil of doubt & darkness, the head of your own homeland). I don’t care how much you disagree with somebody’s ideology or course of action. The president is the president, and the purpose of an elected officials is not to politically assassinate our country’s face. I like to lump these green-cuticle’d, nation subterfuging bastards into one category: Nazi swine.

You wonder why governing bodies are unable to move on so many issues in this country, but then you don’t. You take one look at this ‘last to get picked in gym class’ slack jowl’d (a favorite accessory of Satan’s army) squinter and you know exactly why. These extreme displays of partisanship and 3rd grade temper tantrum bullshit are genetically ingrained into people like McConnell… he will never change. The attitude and the antics will exist so long as we let him…

Fear and Loathing in McCormick Place

November 8, 2012

6:00 PM (7:00 EST)

Vote hath been cast… another beer down the hatch while the engine purrs along a rain dropping city street. I plastered an ” I VOTED! ” sticker onto my left breast (prison side) as the highway ramp dipped onto a freeway of possibility and managed fear and young tight women lining up around the altar… I thank Jove my local polling place (some Lutheran grade-school gym, hardwood and computer terminals, deus ex machina) was hardly full because a) the reds were starting to REALLY kick in, quite visibly, and I hadn’t had an opportunity to counteract, to re-see the saw, and b) I had just received an invitation to meet a female acquaintance on the South Side of the city at President Obama’s Election Night Extravaganza… brake lights popping across my retina, cortical centers rearranging fractals of light and this minefield of supernovae nearly impossible to trudge through.

I finished the beer and crushed its insides out and rolled my bumper through a red light camera, accelerating… license plate unhinged.

I flipped the radio dial to AM and lit a cigarette. The first polls were in and Mitt had taken an early, albeit meaningless, lead. Indiana and Kentucky had been painted red for months (despite Obama’s win for Indy in ’08, my first general election vote in a battleground state via college… the only time I felt it advantageous to be in Indiana), yet the voice from the other side of my car speakers still waxed gusto when announcing a “44-3 pull-away” for Romney. This was not a football game… I changed the tuner… more projections, early exit poll numbers, late early voting counts, already-tabulated ballots… there would be enough electoral masturbation fodder to last me another four years.

Neil Young & Crazyhorse to the rescue.

7:30 PM (4:30 HADT)

Ample time stuck in a fogging car chassis to battle a handful of red hearts with a matching dose of blue mollies, a sprinkle of snow on the windshield, to pull my eyelids back to my brow… car stationary and I smoked another cigarette pin-balling down the aisles of garage parking for Soldier Field, steel wind roaring and citizens of all shapes and sizes forming a bottle neck at the end of an asphalt lot just before the entrance to the convention center.

“Jack, Jack can you hear me?”

Chants of “Four More Years!” livened up and the energy grew as I continued pacing, suddenly aware that Ashley had my ticket and I was on the phone… “Barely, Jesus it’s starting to get crazy out here…I forgot about meeting by the Aquarium…I hopped out of the car and started walking with everyone else, I got carried away by the tide babe… where are you?”

Listening between cigarette trails… “I knew you wouldn’t wait for me. I’m on my way right now. Try to stay still for a minute and I’ll call you when I’m close to the tunnel. Stop walking and smoke a cigarette.”

What a Red White and true Blue All-American girl. I smiled, “Too late for that. Hurry up before the cops pick me up for intimidating the electorate.” Under a city-planner planted tree, practically a sapling, I approached an older couple who seemed to be waiting on their entrance tickets as well.

“How are things over here? Pretty exciting night… Where are you all coming from?” Adopting a Southern tinged cadence when first meeting older, youth-skeptical retirees can take you miles…

“We drove in from Libertyville. Our daughter went to the rally in ’08 so we had to come after we heard everything from her. Very exciting night, we just heard he’s doing well in Ohio, and they’re waiting for Michigan…” grandma kept toying with a cell phone screen and so did her husband who barely looked up before I extinguished my 72 Light and offered salutations. Fluorescent light reflected off her hoop earrings and she stretched her face in anguish before saying, “but he’s down 136-74. That’s not good.”

I offered what little analysis I could, jaw grinding like an ancient wheat mill. “Nope, but it sounds like it’s going to be close, a lot of vote counting to be done still… we’ll have a couple hours to party before they call this thing, which is good for us, huh?”

They both peered at me and then back at their phones. I thought about asking them for their reaction to the marijuana legalization efforts in Colorado but Gramps spoke up… he had heard enough. “It’s time to head in Noreen, Alex texted me to meet her and Jim by the doors. Nice to meet you son.” He lent me one last look, confused…like he wasn’t convinced that I was on his side, or that we should even be on the same side… and dragged Noreen away.

I lit another cigarette and smiled.

9:45 PM (8:45 MST)

On the dual-LCD-jumbotrons at the back of the stage, hundreds of feet across and blaring and beautiful… “We can now project that Amendment 64 will be passed in Colorado, with a record turnout…” I screamed, hollered, hooted, high fived everything in sight. Ashley shot her brown-blonde curling locks over her shoulder after I slapped her ass. “We did it baby! We’re moving to Colorado!”

“Jack, only you…”

I stopped her… the bump in the bathroom had cut through the as-to-be-expected polling reports from Arkansas and Idaho and Montana and Utah… “Only me? Listen to all these people cheering!” The room had certainly electrified, and it wasn’t on account of Wolf Blitzer’s suave complexion. I continued, “The revolution is beginning… this is huge. Ending the war on drugs, the Christian moralization of our country, the unjust social constrictions fat-old bastards have been impinging us with for years.”

 Her curls tightened and so did her smiling.

Then a younger looking guy, 30s, perched at my 7 o’clock… the blind side… rattled my ear with, “First pot. What’s next? Where does the line stop?” right after Ashley agreed with my analysis, before our walk outside to the Smoker’s Area to fire off a one hitter… I stopped waving my American flag and dithering to Earth Wind & Fire and leaned back towards Johnny 3-Piece Suit and his over-prinked fiancée.

“It shouldn’t stop… we should give every kid a hit of acid before they go to college. Fuck heroin and cocaine (feeling for the baggy in that small ‘condom pocket’ of my jeans), but drugs aren’t the problem. We’ve got bigger fish to fry brother… and anyways, from your perspective, you should view the issue as an evolutionary advantage for you and your drug-free offspring… all the rest of us will fade out and go schizo while you inherit the earth…” stars and stripes and the young executive could only shake his head at me.

The music blared now, recapturing my attention and my bodily rhythms and I danced and sang high and low, Burce Springsteen and Tom Petty, hips swinging and flags waving towards infinity.

Ashley scrunched her hands to her face and laughed but she didn’t have the balls to turn around and do it in front of Johnny Businessman. We excused ourselves from the party, momentarily, and vowed to push through the crowd once we had ingested some THC and expelled some urine.

10:20 PM (1:20 AM ADT)

An eruption of cacophony like I have never experienced (and I’ve eaten a handful of purple micro-dots before entering Notre Dame Stadium with an undefeated Irish on the gridiron)… not only the sheer decibel level, but the energy inside of McCormick Place… it wasn’t tribal or aggressive, pugilistic or domineering, proud or vindictive… it was pure elation, pure ecstasy… agapic joy, love of neighbor and self and god and country, hugging, kissing, dancing, Red White & Blue pervasive and bleeding through the interior of the room onto the exterior of our souls.

A high-water mark was in our sights.

I had been going back and forth with an incredibly sharp-witted and sharp-tongued Hispanic woman a couple rows in front of me and Ashley… Bain Capital bashing is stuff for political tyros but it has been a cohesive factor, binding different genders and races and creeds under one totem that stands against the corporate looting of our Great Nation’s soul… we laughed and exxagerated and laughed some more over how many billionare Super PAC dollars would be torched tonight… “I tell you mijo, no one can buy an election from the people of this country. No matter how much money…”  and then an interruption… back to the jumbotrons…

“Well, it looks like he’ll be there for another four years, because right now CNN is projecting Barack Obama will take New Hampshire and become the 44th President of the United States, winning re-election.” I never saw the woman’s face again, but I’m sure her night turned out just fine. The dance party blasted off, the GOP enervating while Chicagoans/Americans /Patriots alike rolled unrelenting for two more hours. Shouts of “America is saved” and “We won’t get fooled again” echoed between groups in revelry. I could sense the collective sigh of relief… hours before I discussed with my MDMA dealer as to what country he would set up his operation in if Romney were elected… myself promoting a Caribbean headquarters… thankfully no late night fugues or refugee shuttles would be necessary tonight. It was time to conjure up our inner David Bowie’s…the half gram snooters Ashley and myself sent down up our nasal cavities were really kicking once all West coast had been accounted for and Ohio came down to the math.

Dance dance dance.

Sometime after midnight he spoke, we listened, and everyone loved.

The SEPARATION of Church and State

November 6, 2012

Believe it or not, you morally depraved methamphetamine distillers, but I attend mass on a regular basis… I do not necessarily conscript myself to a particular Church Body (notice the capitalization), but I do believe most services to be a place of positive energy and human convivality of the highest order. Given my upbringing, tradition, and the incessant shouts from my mother up the steps on Sunday mornings going back to grade school, the weekly trip to mass seems perfectly conditioned to me. Maybe my psychic state is that of a weak little fawn, Nietsche making fun of me in the distance… but maybe there is SOMETHING there. I’d rather try and be wrong than not try and be wrong… anyways, my justification of worship is done. Onto the good stuff.

I opened up the church bulletin (after the homily, which turned out to be a very interesting discourse on the agapic nature of God da Father) during a song interlude, right after a nice spiritual moment of peace and quiet up in the choir loft, and the pressures of the world flooded back into my mind. I want to break down the announcement into pieces, to imitate my own reactions taking place as the organ played and the cherubs danced between the astrals of stain’d glass light…

Unlike previous elections, this one will also address one of the Freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, the Freedom of Religion…love the capitalization, Mr. Dramat Ice Ffect… specifically the Freedom of Religious Conscience… must be a subsection of the Bill of Rights that I missed, and holy shit, it’s under attack? The government, for the first time in our history, has mandated that religious conscience, be subordinated to the current Administration’s demands… also missed the Attack on Conscience Bill that seems to be going through the house… The Catholic Church and other religions, are praying and speaking out against this assault on our principles. Well Author of paragraph one, I love your use of unnecassary commas (see: Mr. Dramat Ice Ffect) and war-cry jargon… subordination, assault, mandate… the intensity has been communicated by your eloquence. Whether you may be an Opus Dei mother with three bastard grandchildren or a rosary weathering spinstress who scoffs down each end of the street, the point came across. I feel the heat. Let’s continue…

Satan will play a big role in this election. WOW. Satan is on the ballot? I had no idea… holy shit what have I been reading? I knew Romney was a real son-of-a-bitch but, Satan? However, much moral guidance has been given to us in our weekly Church Bulletins (using the publication of the article as a verification of the truth… “why haven’t you been paying attention to our Neo-Con bulletin section this whole time?”… another bold play)…and by the U.S. Catholic Bishops (the same guys that said the nuns had nothing to do with the Church, despite them being the backbone of virtually all sucessful Catholic social justice efforts)  by differentiating between intrinsically evil policies such as abortion and same sex marriage…intrinsically evil? Well I guess they did say the devil was involved…and social justice activities where there are differences of opinoin but no intrinsically evil issues…love the repetition of EVIL…muah hahahaha (evil laugh)… As stated by the Church, the importance of instrinsically evil policies should never be preempted by the importance of social justice issues. Now I didn’t graduate from Harvard divinity, but to me the idea of trying to go after an issue of free will (abortion) that is conditional to the parties involved and only affects the parties involved, is much more short sighted than say going after  widespread cultural ideals that harm society, such as  ego, greed, deception and success at all costs…the capitalist model…but again, I hold no high level degrees. The idea of placing a hierarchy on how important life is (the Church’s insistence of placing the embryo as the lynchpin of human life…totally ignoring we, the living, the elderly and the sick and the awake) seems a dangerous game to me… three 80 year olds for two cryogenically frozen fetuses… and quantifying one social justice issue over another without any logical rationalization to back it… that’s more than dangerous, thats deadly.

It is only through prayer and adoration that our country will once again hold that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded and that He alone is the True Source (again, the capitalization) of our cherished rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Boom. The Christian country argument, in a nutshell… manifest destiny anyone? Divine authority?  This firm idea that there is ONE, UNIQUE, PATENTABLE source of truth creates the essential problem of organized religion… each religion wants to be the commissioner of the league, when in reality they are only one component of a greater message, a greater truth of understanding what it is to be a human being. Catholics don’t have all the answers, and neither do the Jews or the Muslims… no one owns Logos, and it is certainly not acquired through a couple paragraphs from a church bulletin.

This election has nothing to do with religion, and as I stood to profess my faith, I realized that’s all faith is… a highly personalized relationship with the unknown, our personal human-ness coming to terms with the fact that forces exist outside of us, outside of our little Rumplestiltskin egos, that are far greater than anything we could ever hope to deal with in our limited cognition. There is no truth to find except the individual truth to our own experience… our own experience which is markedly different from everyone else’s around us. Truth is not absolute, nor is it relative… I’m not a fucking solipsist… it is an experience, a gut feeling, a courage to see what is right done in the face of what’s wrong. It is not written clearly for us in some dogmatic document…there are no rules to follow. The spirit moves us in ways that cannot be expressed in the strokes of phonetic characters…

No one’s religious freedoms are under attack this election. The only ideal under siege is the freedom to form our own informed positions.