Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quote of the Day: The Horseflies

"I've tried psychotherapy, TV and beer, but most days I still feel like VanGough's left ear"

The Horseflies

Today we brew a belgian abbey ale, a dopplebock, we've made two batches of Atomic Fire Ginger Snaps and cornbread.
And I broke another small toe on the amplifier that got left out in the sunroom.
It's turning a lovely shade of purple and swelling up like Brittany Spear's boobs did a few years ago.
Oh, and Fry and Michael and I are practicing for tommorow's session at Smart Studio.
I get to rock out on my crappy guitar in the same room as Kurt Cobain did. And that rocks in a humble sort of way.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quote of the day: Heinlien

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
Warning! Rant Mode Engaged!
Sometimes I show people the insruments I build. They often insult me by saying "you didn't build this!" or "really? you built that?", as though humans with big brains and opposable thumbs can't build something amazing to our puny primate brains. The idea that somebody would brew their own beer, make their own instruments and amplifiers, replace their own truck engine or any number of the things people who are engaged in life can do escapes them .
This point was hammered in a week or so ago when I saw a bunch of people I haven't seen in a decade or so.
All they had to talk about was their primate spawn.
To them life seems like it peaked with a few moments of physical pleasure that lead to a nine month series of bad hormone days and stretch marks, ending with screaming and blood and human goo and afterbirth,
when they or their partner pushed a meatbag baby into the world to obsess .
And they insist on showing you boring ass photos of their extended DNA mixes.
I say this: You kids bore me. You bore me. Your life bores me. It didn't used to, but now you're mono subject and settled into settling for being a parent and little else. Call me when that irritaing primate gets interesting or moves off to college, if we still have such things after the oncoming colapse
Rant over.
Resume your normal boring lives.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Big Takeover Article

"It's over — we're officially, royally fucked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far.
It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire."

Taibbi's got the sharp edge Hunter Thompson had I loved so much, although he's more about information than prose. This article explains a lot of confusing things about how we got to where we are today with our messy bailouts and abusive banker problems. Worth reading all the way through.
Or you can wait till you're unemployed to read it. It might not be long before that happens.

Upside Down and Falling Apart

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- California home prices dropped 41 percent last month from a year earlier, more than double the U.S. decline, as surging foreclosures drove down values, the state Association of Realtors said today.The median price for an existing, single-family detached home in California sank to $247,590 in February from $418,260 a year earlier, the Los Angeles-based group said in a statement. The U.S. median price fell 16 percent during the same period, the second-biggest drop on record, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Think of the wave of people in upside down mortgages in California. Would you stick around and pay an extra few hundred thousand on a house you bought in the last few years? Or decide that since you're not allowed to declare bankruptcy on credit card debt, but can walk away from a mortgage, you'd go rent an apartment across town and then mail in your keys?

Because that's what that crappy bankruptcy law they passed a few years ago requires borrowers to do.
Multiply that ripple effect, then add in the rest of the country, then think about how many folks bought more house than they could afford.
Back in 1999 when we bought our house, they kept asking us if we wanted to borrow more money.
They wanted us to borrow 150 grand instead of the 90 grand we took out. We'd be fucked right now, spending a huge percentage of our income on houses, no cushion, one or two paychecks away from being on the street.
But most people don't think that way. All they think about is how nice it would be to have a lot more room for junk they bought with either a home equity line of credit or with one of the thousands of credit cards pushed onto people who grew up thinking owing money was not a bad thing. The days of consumer culture and easy credit are over, at least for a while.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For Everyman


Everybody I talk to is ready to leave
With the light of the morning
They've seen the end coming down long enough to believe
That they've heard their last warning
Standing alone
Each has his own ticket in his hand
And as the evening descends
I sit thinking 'bout Everyman

Seems like I've always been looking for some other place
To get it together
Where with a few of my friends I could give up the race
And maybe find something better
But all my fine dreams
Well thought out schemes to gain the motherland
Have all eventually come down to waiting for Everyman

Waiting here for Everyman--
Make it on your own if you think you can
If you see somewhere to go I understand
Waiting here for Everyman--
Don't ask me if he'll show -- baby I don't know

Make it on your own if you think you can
Somewhere later on you'll have to take a stand
Then you're going to need a hand

Everybody's just waiting to hear from the one
Who can give them the answers
And lead them back to that place in the warmth of the sun
Where sweet childhood still dances
Who'll come along
And hold out that strong and gentle father's hand?
Long ago I heard someone say something 'bout Everyman

Waiting here for Everyman--
Make it on your own if you think you can
If you see somewhere to go I understand

I'm not trying to tell you that I've seen the plan
Turn and walk away if you think I am--
But don't think too badly of one who's left holding sand
He's just another dreamer, dreaming 'bout Everyman

It's been raining all day, one of those thousand mile stare days where you find yourself looking out the window, your eyes focusing on everything and nothing at the same time. There were a lot of days like this in Seattle, I think the overcast out there soaks into your soul and burns out some circuit that lets you have higher brain functions. All day I've been restless, musing on the oncoming freight train of economic and climate madness about to decend. Between worldwide drought, the colapse of our unsustainable economy and the slowly cracking facade of the folks I see trying to not think about losing jobs and homes and retirement, I wonder how long it will be before the big freakout hits.

So today I went out and put a downpayment on Summer and our future food security. And flower supply, too, because bugs don't like lots of them, and I really do.

I went to Farm and Fleet and bought seeds, lots of them. Spinach, lettuce, rutabagas, turnips, beets, cucumbers, marigolds, cosmos, four kinds of sunflowers and nastursiums. I'm doubling down on the amount of garden I'm planting and making my own "other arrangements" as James Kunstler says. And I'm giving away of half the bikes we have and building one or two very well tuned ones with the remaining bikes.

I just hope the rest of the country wakes up and starts doing the same, because after reading Matt Tabbi's article in Rolling Stone and reading Krugman's NYTimes blog and Caluclated Risk and Clusterfuck Nation, I think we're headed for that scary new normal I've been writing about for a while now. Too many people running this country have a deaf ear and no sense of what's in the wind, so it's going to come down to us, working together in communities to make it on our own. Like that dirty hippie Jackson Browne says, I'll be waiting here for Everyman to join me when he wakes up.

If he's not a Christian Republican, anyway. If he is, he'll find we're the kind of pacifists who don't start a fight, but makes sure we finish one.

Quote of the day: Schopenhauer, On the Vanity of Existence

"That is why to attain something desired is to discover how vain it is; and why, though we live all our lives in expectation of better things, we often at the same time long regretfully for what is past. The present, on the other hand, is regarded as something quite temporary and serving only as the road to our goal. That is why most men discover when they look back on their life that they have the whole time been living ad interim, and are surprised to see that which they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, was precisely in expectation of which they lived."
Arthur Schopenhauer, Essay and Aphorisms, On the Vanity of Existence, 4
Shorter version:
Be here NOW. Let the past be the past. Lean into the future, not on it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Joke

A firefighter was working on the engine outside the station, when he noticed a little girl nearby in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides and a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.
The girl was wearing a firefighters helmet.
The wagon was beingpulled by her dog and her cat.
The firefighter walked over to take a closer look.
That sure is a nice fire truck,' the firefighter said with admiration.
'Thanks,' the girl replied.
The firefighter looked a little closer, the girl had tied the wagon to her dog's collar and to the cat's testicles.'
Little partner,' the firefighter said, 'I don't want to tell you how to run your rig, but if you were to tie that rope around the cat's collar, I think you could go faster'.
She replied thoughtfully, 'You're probably right, but then I wouldn't have a siren.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Alfred Bester Quote From 1956, sounds like today

One of my all time favorite novels is by Alfred Bester, called "The Stars My Destination".
It's a fast moving sharply written novel about a lazy common man who finds himself being pushed into being something trancendent.
The opening paragraph would fit this freaky time we're living in.
This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying…but nobody thought so. This was a future of fortune and theft, pillage and rapine, culture and vice…but nobody admitted it. This was an age of extremes, a fascinating century of freaks…but nobody loved it.

The other day I found this, and it reminded me of that Bester novel.

"everything is so amazing, but nobody is happy"

Louis CK on Conan O'Brian

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More from the New Mexico Trip

Saw this heavy metal guitar in a window in downtown Truth Or Consequences.
The lovely and talented old coot David. I made him black and white and added film grain because he's a bit of an analog film snob sort of guy.
I'm not complaining, he did by most of my old Nikon stuff from me.
I just never want to set foot in a darkroom again after ten years of being a commercial photographer and five or six years of being a darkroom monkey and photo geek at a newspaper or a few colleges. I like my digitial cameras a lot.

Martye, the most amazing artist I know. She makes pottery that functions and is so damn beautiful I almost hate to use it.
Plus, she's got a brain pan that I have really come to love.
She moves through different air with style.

Charlie left this earthly party a long, long time ago in a small town in the mountains called Hillsboro.

I know it's not politcally correct being a resident of Madison and a big middle aged lesbo to get off on big pistols that make big noises and big holes in beer cans, but I sure love them.
We took our big .45 auto along and blew off a hundred rounds or so in an abandoned open pit mine.
We picked up our brass when we were done, unlike most of the other folks who decided this was a fine spot to shoot shit up.
I grew up with guns. I have more than a few, all legal, all treated with the respect they deserve. I never have understood the fear and general uncomfortableness so may people have around them, at least in the hands of people who understand them.
But I live in a big city, and unlike a lot of idiots who don't realize how far and how many layers of cheap doors and drywall they can go through before stopping, my home protection plan is dialing 911 and keeping a baseball bat next to the bed.
There's something very rewarding about the way a big pistol or a shotgun sounds and feels like to me. Not unlike a really good electric guitar amp and a distortion pedal and Les Paul style guitar.
Big noise can be bone rattling fun if you're not being an asshole to other people when you make them.

Our High Noon Gig: Fun, but Sparse

Fry, Michael and I opened up for a few bands at the High Noon Monday. We rocked the joint, although it was a poor night to play there, being
A: Monday night when everybody stays home, and
B: The night before St. Patty's Day, when the joint is crowded.
The Sharp and Hawkins band played after us. I liked them, they had a good vibe and a fun percussionist and one of the two guitar players had some mojo for a young pup. He even played an acoustic lap steel, also known as a Weissenborn.
I played the gig with my nasty little 12 volt guitar amp, did lots of sonic wash stuff and long sustained stuff, got my Neil Young squaawwwky out of tune by intent throb on.
Michael was pretty amazing too, in his own words he just let his monkey brain take over after the second song, and it was fun as hell to be so in the moment. Fry was his usual self, solid, bemused and dead on with his playing. I love his energy, and the way he smiles when something grabs him in a song.
The photo above is from our gig at the Alchemy a month or so back, we didn't get any at the gig the other night.
Next week the three of us are going into Smart Studios to record a final few sets before Michael and bride and baby head out for California early this summer.
Damn, I'm gonna miss him, and those times when our brain monkeys scamper wild onstage. We got a throb and gristle connection, musically.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quote of the day: Rita Mae Brown on Sanity

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you.
Rita Mae Brown

The animal above is a naked mole rat. Not that it has anything to do with sanity or Rita Mae Brown, I just liked the photo. It reminds me of somebody I don't like even a little bit I used to know in when I lived in Seattle.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Aimee Mullins at TED, and her many legs

Great TED talk by Aimee Mullins: "How my legs give me super-powers."
Athlete, actor and activist Aimee Mullins talks about her prosthetic legs -- she's got a dozen amazing pairs -- and the superpowers they grant her: speed, beauty, an extra 6 inches of height ... Quite simply, she redefines what the body can be. About Aimee Mullins A record-breaker at the Paralympic Games in 1996, Aimee Mullins has built a career as a model, actor and activist for women, sports and the next generation of prosthetics.

She's my new rockstar hero.
Check out those carved ash legs, the cast legs with potatoes or jellfyish looking attachments, and the amazingly cool way she sees the world.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Viruses and A Motorhome

Last week my computer once again got a virus. I shut it off and walked away to work on the motorhome Kori bought two weeks ago.
The motorhome has been gutted since then, but this damn computer still has issues, although we have so damn many virus scanners and killers on it they aren't doing much but pissing me off.
People who write computer viruses for fun should be lobotomized and given jobs fishing used condoms out of sewage treatment pools.
There's no reason to write them and turn them loose other than sheer malicous intent.
Now the motorhome, there's no reason to have one of them, either, but I do love a good dirty project, and if the quadrillions of dollars worth of credit default swaps go Cherynobl on the world economy, I'll at least have somewhere to sleep when I park it in one of my pal's back yards.
In honor of this motorized bedroom, I offer one of my favorite oddball artists doing his song "If Jesus Drove A Motorhome" by the deeply freaky yet shy and polite Jim White, who moves through strange air.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Quote of the Day: Wendell Berry on Failure of Imagination

We are involved now in a profound failure of imagination. Most of us cannot imagine the wheat beyond the bread, or the farmer beyond the wheat, or the farm beyond the farmer, or the history beyond the farm. Most people cannot imagine the forest and the forest economy that produced their houses and furniture and paper, or the landscapes, the streams and the weather that fill their pitchers and bathtubs and swimmingpools with water. Most people appear to assume that when they have paid their money for these things they have entirely met their obligations.

An excerpt from “In the Presence of Fear” by Wendell Berry

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson