I’m re-blogging this today from Paula Bosse’s Flashback: Dallas blog (click on the above link), a great blog you should check out, especially if you lived or grew up in Dallas as the city came of age from the 1950s through the 1970s. Her blog is always a fascinating read and I love seeing these old historic photos. My family moved to Dallas in 1960 from Hartford, Connecticut, a couple of months before my 4th birthday; I grew up there during the 1960s and 70s, lived there in the early 80s and much later, off and on, from 2007-2011. Apparently, Dallas is still on my mind somewhat since we visited there last month and that already seems like ages ago.
There’s also a bit of shared history here. I never knew Paula before I started reading her blog. I don’t know how we got on the subject of the house where I used to live in 1984 – had to be from a comment I made on one of her posts, but in the ensuing e-mail exchanges it turned out that same house I lived in back in 1984 – with my “derelict” musician roommates/bandmates (and I include myself in that description) – was the first house she lived in years earlier.
Just a short update as I’m starting to finish up pre-mastering on all the songs for the new album, one about every other week now. A little more than half the album is done now, in its final state to go to mastering, but even at the above rate there may be some slippage on the release date of June 24th. Hopefully not but we shall see – I don’t believe in rushing things.
This is a 2-minute preview of “Llano Estacado”, not the full song – I’m still tweaking it. The Llano Estacado is the “Staked Plains” in West Texas and eastern New Mexico and has been described as the “table lands between Austin and Santa Fe.” The Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado described the area as mostly “a sea of grass” in the 16th century. That’s true – it really is. And, other than the various caprock escarpments, it’s insanely flat. My Mom, no less eloquently, described it – on our yearly road trips in the mid-to-late 1960s/early 70s to Colorado through Amarillo, Dalhart, and Clayton – like this: “There’s nothing out here. It’s so empty… how can people live out here?” That always cracked me up… because somehow they did and still do.
Lubbock, Texas is the largest city on the Llano; I was there for 4 years, getting my undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University. I lived in Midland 2 hours south for a little while afterward. Between those two cities… some lifelong friendships, some good parties, knowledge acquired, a little worldly experience, constant wind, occasional dust storms, some not-so-good jobs, and a lot of bad apartments. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area, having living there, but mostly traveling through it over the course of 6 decades. For whatever reason, for me this area never becomes old. I love it. It may be tedious to drive through but it never gets old.
Places define us, shape us, change us, and any place we’ve lived leaves its indelible mark upon us.
Happy 2017 to everyone! I hope you have had an excellent start to this new year, now 20 days in.
Work continues on the new album… Finishing up songs one by one, getting the mixes done for mastering, and so I include two more songs – the mastered demos – from the album, “We Are All Haunted by Something”, here as another preview. I am scheduling the album for release in June this year. 15, possibly 16 songs. It is supposed to be a double album but I want it to fit on one disc (there will be a CD) – i.e., under 80 minutes… so we shall see.
Release date will be finalized by the end of this month.
And now that it’s January 20th, let’s talk briefly (very briefly) about what’s happening today in the U.S. There will be an inauguration ceremony today in our nation’s capital… and it will be completely bogus. The coronation of the illegitimate “president”… President * Asterisk *. Das Kleinkind führer (the Toddler leader)… one Mr. Donald Trump (I agree with Rep. John Lewis). I really don’t even want to talk about him because that’s giving him the attention he craves.
#ROBO: Resist, Oppose, Boycott, Obstruct… These are the keywords for what’s coming
Suffice to say, I will not watch the inauguration today and I urge you to do the same. If you do have the TV on, turn it to the Food Network, HGTV, or the National Geographic channels. There’ll be no coverage of it on those and some other channels. BOYCOTT it. #Boycotttheinauguration I applaud the 50+ congressmen and women who have said they will not attend the inauguration… or watch either. #NotMyPresident #NotMyCulture
It’s been quite a week. This November, everything got real…
One part of this post will be the fun stuff, one part will be rant. I’ll do the fun stuff first…
We came, we saw, we got married…
And we partied afterwards. Mightily. Loudly. A fun time was had by all at Lariat Lodge just up the hill on the other side of the highway – the reception was excellent, thank you guys! – and thank you everyone who came and celebrated with us. Erin and I are very glad all of you were there with us for our “alternative” wedding! It was one of the best parties I’ve been to in a while. Yay us… we did it!
And then we hit the road for a few days… down to Santa Fe, where I used to live for a while in the mid-1980’s. And our favorite place, Ten Thousand Waves. I had been going to the hot tubs since 1984 but I had never stayed in their rooms/suites before. Actually they’re more like casitas – small houses, and I highly recommend them. Do the full experience. Staying on site there, at the compound up in the foothills of Santa Fe at 7,700 feet, is an experience not to be missed. We went into town, checked out the art galleries, mostly on Canyon Road, and all our other favorite places. Santa Fe doesn’t change a whole lot, particularly around the plaza and everything that doesn’t radiate off of Cerrillos Road, and that’s one thing I love about it. The air always seems to carry the scent of piñon, the high desert light is bright and intense, adobe everywhere (“if you don’t like adobe, go home…“), and there’s always that spiritual vibe about this place.
There’s a song on the next Nights on Venus album (scheduled for spring/early summer, 2017) entitled “The Indelible Imprint of Place”… this is what I’m talking about. Always love a spiritual vibe in a place. Santa Fe may be our next home (for me…again) and chapter in life… and I certainly hope so.
A week later I wish we were still in Santa Fe.
There was just one little fly in the ointment… well, actually a rather large one. There was that whole election thing last Tuesday…
And now, the rant…
In the space of a week I’ve gone from fucking pissed to thoroughly disgusted… well, I’m still fucking pissed but mostly just more disgusted at this people-of-WalMart-WWE-reality-TV-shitshow-spectacle of an election. Sure, it’s all fun and games… ’til someone elects a fascist.
Stupid, stupid, stupid!!
To those who voted for Trump, you have absolutely no idea what you’ve done and I only have one thing to say to you…
Oh, what was that? Say it again…
Very sorry… and very, very soon, just like those poor souls over in the UK who voted for Brexit and then wanted to have a do-over vote when they realized what Brexit actually meant. Unfortunately, this is way worse and now all of us are on board.
The recurring image that comes to my mind about what happened and what’s most likely to happen now going forward is this scene from the movie Mulholland Drive with Naomi Watts and Laura Harring.When Harring’s character Rita begins talking in her sleep, Betty (Watts) awakens her from her nightmare and tells her “it’s OK” to which Rita responds, “No, it’s not OK.”
The last few days I’ve seen some posts come across my news feed on Facebook from people saying we need to come together now and unite as a country and get behind President-elect Trump. Fuck that. Go peddle that happy horseshit somewhere else.
Even President Obama said yesterday that “Americans need to reconcile themselves to a Trump presidency.” In this context, reconcile sounds more like “resign”. That’s not acceptance, that’s resignation. And so the normalization of these things begins – things that cannot and should not ever be normalized, including, but certainly not limited to, the demonization of others for starters.
Nope. Not going along with that either. There comes “A Time for Refusal“. Keep your humanity and basic decency intact. Don’t go along with the crowd, the mob, or the “new normal”.
Currently, the results of the national election show Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by over 2 million votes (a lead that continues to grow, btw, a week later… hmm). It’s way past time for the Electoral College to go, to be gone. A couple of petitions: Make Hillary Clinton President on December 19 . The electors of the Electoral College still have to do a formal vote that day. This petition has 4.3 million signers as of this morning. It’s a longshot of course but if you really don’t want to see Trump take office, it’s one of the last chances you may have.
And finally there’s this, which may be the most effective. E-mail the electors directly at Ask the Electors.org. Longshot for sure… but it’s the last line of defense before Dec. 19th.
How bad could things get here in the U.S.? Chris Hedges over at Truthdig has a few ideas on that in his most recent essay. Well worth a read, even as sobering and bleak as it is. What’s that expression?… “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”
Also a good read this week, complete with some helpful hints for future reference, comes this essay from Masha Gessen, “Autocracy: Rules for Survival“.
As bad as the outcome of the election was, equally bad was the media coverage of it and the campaign pretty much from the get-go. In fact, the media coverage has been more infuriating and I didn’t even watch much of it on TV. They are more than complicit in this national disaster. It was just pervasive everywhere you went – online or otherwise. The sensationalistic headlines, the coverage of Trump seemingly 24/7, the polls, the dissemination of lies, the Twitter fights and ridiculous reports of them as if they were real news, and on and on ad nauseum. Again, disgusting. This applies equally to the leftist media outlets as well as those on the right.
The election cycle needs to be shortened and all the pundits, the pollsters, the smarmy commentators, most of whom don’t deserve the air time they get, et al. need to go the way of the Electoral College, i.e., out the fucking exit door, get rid of them all. It wasn’t just pervasive, it was abusive. The American people are in an abusive relationship with its endless proliferation of media and addiction to it. And you know what you do when you find yourself in an abusive relationship?… You walk away from it; you leave…
And you go on with your life. Live your best life now.
Once again it’s time for the annual fall leaf tour and post. Fall has arrived (sort of… still a little too warm right now) and the last couple of weekends Erin and I have taken a couple of drives into the high country and done a few hikes. But first…
Some Nights on Venus News:
Mastering on “Speed of Life” finished up over the past week and the 2-song single will be released this Sunday, 10/9 on CD Baby and on Bandcamp initially. You can get both songs as free downloads on Bandcamp for the first week, through 10/15, and they will appear here on a post this Sunday via Soundcloud. Here is a look at the cover artwork:
This coming Saturday also marks the 6-year anniversary of my little musical endeavor, Nights on Venus… another milestone. Work continues on a full-length album – “We Are All Haunted by Something” – which is scheduled for release in 2017.
And now, back to the annual fall color “porn”…
And of course, with the arrival of fall, winter won’t be far behind. We’ll be breaking out the skis, boots and poles pretty soon, getting ski tune-ups and watching “Hot Dog, The Movie” – classic, silly ski movie from the 1980’s (think the ski ballet competition and Chinese downhill). Yep, Erin and I are still just a couple of ski-bum wannabes…
Currently we’re getting some much-needed afternoon rainfall here in Golden on this last day of July. It’s been very dry here of late – fire restrictions in place here in Jefferson and Clear Creek counties and many others in Colorado I’m sure. Thankfully only another month-and-a-half of summer to go. No camp fires – that means you, campers and visitors to our state alike. We don’t need any wildfires.
Other than hiking in the high country and being able to enjoy a craft brew on a patio with a cool breeze somewhere après-hike, I really don’t like summer very much. Probably all those years I lived in Texas… Too freakin’ hot. Plus if you come to Colorado during peak tourist season, you might get this:
And if you get stuck in one of these, you’re gonna have… “a bad time“. No amount of great music/mixtapes and snacks/edibles is gonna help you out here. Just sayin’.
Colorado Tip #4: If you want to go to the high country from Denver in the summer, always leave before 9:30 am, especially on the weekends. The earlier the better. You’ll thank me later.
Always in search of cooler climes, Erin and I are looking to visit someplace cool (literally) and exotic in 2017. Like Iceland. Set to a bossa nova beat…
Love the graphic of the horse and the people in the hot springs near Reykjavik in the map. The “U” in the title is a nod and homage to Prince, who died in April of this year and was one of his trademarks in many song titles throughout his career. It will be the only time I use the “U” in the context of song title. Just my way of saying “thank you” for what his music has meant to me in my life.
The release of a 2-song single is scheduled now for mid-October; “I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U” may be the B-side on this one… we shall see. More details to follow. As always, thanks for following/listening!
First of all, I love this book. Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio Sudo is one of my favorite books of all time.
First published in 1997, this book has been a companion since then that I revisit every few years, or revisit a chapter as needed whenever, because its message is just that good. And it’s not just for guitarists of course. It’s for everyone who is involved in the creation of music, whatever the instrument, whatever the genre, at whatever level of ability. Or those involved in the creation of art… or any kind of creative endeavor, and that covers a lot of territory. But way beyond that, and ultimately, it’s about how we all create our lives.
Zen Guitar is not about learning a specific technique, or any technique for that matter. As the author points out from the very beginning, there are plenty of books and videos for learning techniques and genres. Instead, he says simply: “We are here to make a sound.”
We are here to express beauty, beauty in the world.
In the chapter “Beginner’s Mind”, Sudo incorporates the idea and training/imagery of the martial arts dojo to provide a basic framework for practice:
1. Wear the white belt.
2. Pick up your guitar.
That’s it. What could be more simple?
Well of course, it’s not that simple – it never is. And there’s the rub (paradox). Essentially Zen Guitar is a spiritual book; it connects the basics of playing the guitar to one’s spiritual development along the musical [and one’s life] journey.
Thoughts are creative in themselves. Energy follows thought. Thoughts become things. Everyone is creative.
From the chapter “Pick Up Your Guitar”:
“Look deeply into the spirit that goes into making an item of quality – the care, the precision, the attention to detail. Incorporate that spirit into your work… Anything you set out to make – music, love, a bookshelf, a meal – make as well as you can. To do otherwise is spiritless…”
And “Act with a sense of purpose.”
Each chapter is relatively short – most of the time one page or less than two pages, and begins with a pertinent quote from a well-known musician. Bite-size chunks of musical wisdom… Like most spiritual books Zen Guitar is best digested in an unhurried fashion. Read a short chapter, if you’re unfamiliar with the idea presented, if it’s new to you… give it time to sink in. Think on it, feel it… embody it.
The quote that begins the aforementioned “Pick Up Your Guitar” chapter: “If you pick up a guitar and it says, “Take me, I’m yours,” then that’s the one for you.” – Frank Zappa
Speaks to intuition… Learn to trust it.
In fact, the quotes are a highlight in themselves and very definitely, on their own merit alone, a reason for buying the book. A few examples/highlights:
From the chapter “Loss of Focus” in the section “The Twelve Common Missteps”, comes this gem:
“I remember coming to a concert where they had a big catered meal set out for everyone… I went and said, “Miles, man, you gotta see all this food they got here.” And Miles said, “I didn’t come here to eat.”
– Gary Bartz, recalling a conversation with Miles Davis
From the chapter “Jamming”…
“The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.” – Duke Ellington
And from the chapter on “Virtuosity” comes this:
“Whether you are [playing] in the bar, the church, the strip joint or the Himalayas, the first duty of music is to complement and enhance life.” – Carlos Santana
That is truth. As a musician, playing music enhances your life. What you put forth into the world musically enhances the experience of life for many others – people you will most likely never meet but affects them nonetheless. Music is not just mere entertainment and should never be thought of as such. Music, played with true feeling and integrity, can change lives. This is no small thing.
There’s a lot more that I could quote from this book but I think you get the idea. If you’re involved in any kind of creative endeavor, not just music, not just guitar, you should get this book. Zen Guitar is that good, it is that inspirational and I highly recommend it. This book should be in every creative’s library. The bottom line on it…
Know what you are doing and more importantly, why.
Most of all, be mindful of what you are doing.
It boils down to:
Do what has to be done
When it has to be done
As well as it can be done
And do it that way every time.
Accept nothing less…
Much food for thought here.
Nights on Venus News:
New music is coming soon, within the next couple of weeks. Finishing up a new song: the mastered demo of “I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U”… Yes, Iceland… with a bossa nova beat. Of course they go together. And we’re making plans to go there in 2017 and get Nights on Venus on the lineup of the Iceland Airwaves music festival, November, 2017.
For this year there will be no new album. Erin and I are getting married in November – we set the date, and as this is 4 months away there’s a lot to do between now and then. There may be a 2, possibly 3-song single release in the fall but a full album won’t happen until 2017. And it will be entitled “We Are All Haunted By Something”. And as I’m working with these 20+ songs so far, it may possibly become a double album… we shall see.