Sunday, June 23, 2019

If I Had A Hammer

I love this quote from Bertolt Brecht;
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality
 but a hammer with which to shape it.”
Brecht is a writer who lived through the first two world wars. He lived through much change and upheaval of society and was an outspoken critic of much that was going on.
He is probably chiefly known for the Threepenny Opera, a play with music that he collaborated on with Kurt Wiel.
Probably not as well known is the fact that he wrote ‘The Alabama Song,’ which was part of the paly with music called ‘Little  Mahagonny.’
The song itself is quite well known as The Doors and Bowie did very excellent covers of it.
“Well, show me the way
To the next whisky bar
Oh, don't ask why
Oh, don't ask why
Show me the way
To the next whisky bar
Oh, don't ask why
Oh, don't ask why
For if we don't find
The next whisky bar
I tell you we must die
I tell you we must die
I tell you, I tell you
I tell you we must die
Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say goodbye
We've lost our good old mama
And must have whiskey, oh, you know why
Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say goodbye
We've lost our good old mama
And must have whisky, oh, you know why, yeah
Well, show me the way
To the next little girl
Oh, don't ask why
Oh, don't ask why
Show me the way
To the next little girl
Quite interesting that Google gives The Doors credit for this song, but it’s Bertolt Brecht!
As far as continuing our dialog, on this blog, of what is art? I like the idea of art as a hammer to shape reality. All I can say is;
“If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land
I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer out love between
My brothers and my sisters
All over this land, uh” 
Peter Paul and Mary.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

That Godless Arch-Scoundrel Voltaire

I believe it was Mozart who called Voltaire ‘that godless arch-scoundrel,’ which I always thought was kind of funny.
Funny in the sense of ‘ha, ha’ funny and funny in the sense of odd, as in the kettle calling the pot black.
I never knew too much about Voltaire except that my violin teacher in music school made me read Candide my first semester there, probably to take some of my ‘California Mellow’ off.
I found it an amusing book although, yeah, relentlessly cynical with the hero’s nose even falling off towards the end. I read somewhere that Mozart had a friend who was dying and his nose had fallen off as well. Evidently there was a widespread nose falling off problem back in the day.
And then, of course, there was dear old Mozart only living to thirty-four or whatever.
The crux of the book was, ‘everything is well and good in the best of all possible worlds.’  This was supposedly the mantra of the Catholic Church (wait, what other worlds?) since they were taking care of everyone and everything. This was just prior to the ‘Sturm und Drang’ movement that said artists should be free to depict the darker side of life too.

“Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.” Voltaire.
“We all get it in the end
(Just gotta get used to it)
We go down and we come up again
(Just gotta get used to it)
You irritate me my friend
(This is no social crisis)
This is you having fun
(No crisis)
Getting burned by the sun
(This is true)
This is no social crisis

Just another tricky day for you”

Songwriters: Pete Townshend
Well, good that everything has changed so much now days.  Just ask anyone you see on the street ‘how’s it going?’
They’ll say ‘fine.’ If they say anything else, we really didn’t want to know.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Night We Opened For Hunter S. Thompson

So I was playing in this minimalist group out of Cal State Fullerton. I wrote about this particular group in a previous post.
Anyway, we got chosen to open for Hunter S. Thompson at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. This is a famous club and literally everyone has played there. I have no idea if we were randomly picked or if Hunter himself picked us out of a bunch of demo tapes that bands submit to these places.
There was a delay in the initial performance date as Hunter had a minor accident falling off of his riding mower. (Driving drunk, I suspect.)
Well the show finally materialized and we got up and played our set. Between our set and Hunter’s appearance, a friend of mine and I decided to go out to the parking lot and get high, as befitting such an auspicious occasion.
I had a bowl loaded up and, no sooner did I light it, than The Man pulls up and asks what we are doing. I had the pipe in my pocket, still smoking.
My friend bullshitted the cop admirably, saying we wanted to discuss aspects of our recent performance away from the rest of the group.
The cop got a bit apologetic and said that drug deals frequently went down in the parking lot. We acted appropriately shocked.
We went back in to hear Hunter and we got to sit in the private rooms upstairs. Hunter was there with his bodyguard and a table with a bottle on it, which was part of his demands to the club for showing up. He was staggeringly drunk.
He was also aware that he was a bit out of his element, being in Orange County. Those of us in the band were even old enough to know who he was. I had read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas back when I was in music school. He was a political correspondent but his writing style was a seemingly rambling, admittedly drug induced surrealism.
Like a lot of good surrealism I had experienced, the hallucinations were more about an underlying reality than just random hallucinations. This made the whole drug angle kind of an artistic license where he could say whatever he wanted to without fear of getting sued. If someone objected, he could just say ‘hey, I said it was an hallucination!’
As a writer, he reminded me of Mark Twain, who wrote The Gilded Age, a satire on our political process. The writing styles were not the same; Twain, of course being very coherent and non drug induced but the viewpoint was the same. It’s so curious that The Gilded Age could have been written last week.
Hunter, as well had his lucid moments, if you attended. I remember seeing the movie of Fear And Loathing with Johnny Depp as Hunter and he makes the point that ‘they have us locked into a survival mode.’
Both Twain and Hunter seem to share the same viewpoint that politicians are corrupt and our political system is broken if not outright suppressive. If you think about it, keeping everyone’s attention on surviving will keep them from thinking of solutions or, even more dangerous, the cognition that, as Voltaire said;

‘Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.’

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Building A Better Mousetrap

We’ve all heard the old adage; ‘build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,’ but this will do nothing about the mouse problem and it will just leave you with an unsightly path beaten into your nice front lawn.
The reason it will do nothing about the mouse problem is that mice tend to be sort of clever about traps and invariably figure out how to escape or avoid each new trap.
But as we all know, we all hate meeses to pieces!
So what’s the solution?
What I propose is the final solution to bring about an end to all meeses in our time, and it is just this; make the mouse crave the trap.
This would be easier than it might at first sound, for the following reasons.
Mices are neither individually all that bright nor capable of independent thought. They tend to hand together in social groups and rely on the opinions of certain authority figures within the group. This is actually how they learn to avoid traps, the opinion leaders or smarter mice teach the others about the traps.
So all we have to do is show the meeses pictures of these opinion leader mice owning traps. We can buy the cooperation of these opinion leaders with cheese.
In other words, make it socially acceptable for mice to own their own traps. It can be made into a status thing, showing pictures of the better meese putting their friends into their traps as a sort of party game or something.
Once we have established group approval of owning traps, we move directly into the next phase, which is getting the meese to  put their selves into their own traps and springing them.
We do this through a well organized propaganda campaign since is a well-established fact that, if you repeat anything often enough, mice begin to accept it as fact.
The propaganda campaign is basically that PAIN IS PLEASURE and DEATH IS FULFILLMENT.
Once we have successfully changed the meeses attitudes about traps they buy their own traps, jump into them and spring them on their selves thus saving us a lot of money invested on development of new traps and cheese.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Reconnaissance Report From The Yellow Submarine

Reconnaissance Report From The

Yellow Submarine


Classified; For your eyes only
This is a follow-up report on Admiral Lennon’s final communication that new Blue Meanies were sighted in the vicinity of Pepperland despite their being rousted out by Admiral Lennon and his crew on the first expedition.
After an extensive search in the area south of Atlantis, we located Pepperland and infiltrated. We found the population in a state of extreme suppression and decided to investigate.
Disguising ourselves as locals, we dispersed and attempted to mingle with the citizenry in hopes of obtaining some useful information. The average citizen was difficult to approach and communicate with.
We attributed this to the small devices that they all clutched in their hands. They sat on buses or walked about with their heads down, in unbroken attention to whatever they were looking at in these devices.
It was difficult if not impossible in some cases to get their attention at all.
They would occasionally look up but soon retreated back into their devices.
We examined their media and found the first signs of the return of the Blue Meanies. The Blue Meanies had taken over their media and were controlling them by bombarding them with data that was invalidating and suppressive; continual stories of disasters and unfortunate events, deaths and wars.
There were manufactured authorities that did their thinking for them and they all seemed to have become downtrodden and incapable of independent thought.
We became fearful ourselves and cast our devices away least we became absorbed into the hive of mindless Cretans. As soon as we did this, the Blue Meanies showed themselves and gave pursuit.
We ran back to the submarine and just made our escape before nearly being flattened by some giant fists.
We recommend an immediate assault on Pepperland of high toned music and affinity.      


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Postcards Fron The Magical Mystery Tour 5-12-19

We’re all having a wonderful time!
Well… Actually I didn’t get on the bus until it was already quite late, somewhere around Baltimore. And most of the people who did get on the bus had already gotten off.
They got off somewhere around Topanga and became lawyers, at least this is what Bob told me.
Then there were quite a number of people who missed the bus all together. Quite a lot, I understand.
Anyway, it got to Baltimore and they said ‘Roll up!’ which is British for get in line, only there wasn’t any line at that time so I got right on.
I’ve been having a much better time since I gave up the idea that I was the driver.
You see, I thought I was the driver for quite a long time!
This came about, you see, because one day I just decided to pop up and talk to Buster and see if he really knew where we were going. You remember Buster, Buster Bloodvessel, yeah that’s the one. He thought he was the driver.
Only when I went up to see old Buster, I found out that he was dead! Finally busted that blood vessel, I guessed, and he had been dead for quite a long time.
Well, under the circumstances, I decided that something had to be done, so I pulled the bus over and stopped. This was somewhere in the Tulgy Woods.
So we pulled Buster out and buried him in the woods there and then I decided to drive the bus because who ever heard of a bus that drove itself?
Bob tried to warn me and said I would end up like Buster. He said it didn’t matter how the bus got there because it always arrived.
Well I tried driving the bus for such a long time, thinking someone had to get everyone wherever it was they were going but do you know, no matter how I tried, we never once ended up where I thought we would!
Yes, I became worked up and frustrated and overwrought until I finally gave up and went back to where the other passengers were, just sitting around partying and having a good old time.
Bob played his guitar a lot, which, if it was anyone else, might be annoying, but the man knows so many songs! He hardly ever repeats one. Do you know he still remembers his entire repertoire of Arlo Guthrie songs? Then he just makes up a new one almost everyday.
So I’ve learned to relax and enjoy the ride because, one thing I’ve realized is, one destination is like another: wonderful!
And the reason for that is:
“There’s nowhere you can be
That isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy!
All you need is love!”
(Rat ta tatatat.)