Advice

Someone dancing inside us
Learned only a few steps:
The “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,
The “What-Do-You-Expect” waltz.
He hasn’t noticed yet the woman
Standing away from the lamp,
The one with black eyes
Who knows the rhumba,
And strange steps in jumpy rhythms
From the mountains in Bulgaria.
If they dance together,
Something unexpected will happen.
If they don’t, the next world
Will be a lot like this one.

By Bill Holm

“The Conformist”: An unsettling political masterpiece returns

“The Conformist”: An unsettling political masterpiece returns http://www.salon.com/2014/08/28/the_conformist_an_unsettling_political_masterpiece_returns/ via @Salon

This article in Salon made me really want to see this movie.  It is also nice to see a long form piece about a work when so many reviews are becoming shorter and shorter. 

Cultural Apocalypse

In reading Hampton Sides’s excellent In the Kingdom of Ice I came upon the story, only a side story in the book, of the Yupiks, a native population in Alaska.  They were destroyed when the white man came along and killed their food source and supplied them with alcohol.   In their case it was the walrus and not the buffalo. 

It was the Arctic version of a story well known to Americans, the story of the buffalo and the Indians of the Great Plains.  Here, as there, the wholesale slaughter of a people’s staple prey had led, in a few short years, to ruinous dislocations, terrible dependencies – and a cultural apocalypse.  

I have read a good deal of history books.  I was a History Major and eventually an American Studies Major.  Yet, this slaughter is something I have never heard of.  It took place as late as the 1880’s,  hardly ancient history.  That is less than 150 years, the span of two human lives. 

When we, as a people, go into a region, such as we have in Iraq, do we really know the history of what went on there?  There is so much we don’t know about our own history.  There is so much that we don’t know period.  How do we make informed political decisions, especially when human life hangs in the balance? 

The Birds of St. Marks

Jackson Browne, one of my favorite songwriters, has a new album coming out in October.  This is the first song released from the record, The Birds of St. Marks.  I’m glad that it sounds like he is in top form.  HIs last studio album, Time the Conqueror, was one of the best albums of 2008.  There are few songwriters that can match intelligence and emotion in equal measure as he has done throughout his career.  

Why Comics are Self-Destructive and Other News

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/comedians-depression-self-destructing-robin-williams-20140827

I thought the above article was an interesting read.  It’s by Dana Gould, in the wake of Robin Williams, and it is about why comics are so self-destructive.  

I’m between tours right now and am a little upside down.  I’ve been trying to think of topics to write about, but my focus is lacking.  Tomorrow the Shinyribs band heads on a three day run that starts Little Rock, Arkansas.  You can get details at http://www.shinyribs.org

I’ll also be performing my first solo show at Strange Brew in Austin, Texas on September 21st at 4pm.  More details to be announced soon!  

In the future when all’s well…

Jeff

Only an Expert Lyrics

laurie_anderson_1

Now only an expert can deal with the problem
Because half the problem is seeing the problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

So if theres no expert dealing with the problem
Its really actually twice the problem
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Now in America we like solutions
We like solutions to problems
And theres so many companies that offer solutions
Companies with names like Pet Solution
The Hair Solution. The Debt Solution. The World Solution. The Sushi Solution.
Companies with experts ready to solve the problems.
Cause only an expert can see theres a problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only and expert can deal with the problem

Now lets say youre invited to be on Oprah
And you dont have a problem
But you want to go on the show, so you need a problem
So you invent a problem
But if youre not an expert in problems
Youre probably not going to invent a very plausible problem
And so youre probably going to get nailed
Youre going to get exposed
Youre going to have to bow down and apologize
And beg for the publics forgiveness.
Cause only an expert can see theres a problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Now on these shows, the shows that try to solve your problems
The big question is always How can I get control?
How can I take control?
But dont forget this is a question for the regular viewer
The person whos barely getting by.
The person whos watching shows about people with problems
The person whos part of the 60% of the U.S. population
1.3 weeks away, 1.3 pay checks away from homelessness.
In other words, a person with problems.
So when experts say, Lets get to the root of the problem
Lets take control of the problem
So if you take control of the problem you can solve the problem.
Now often this doesnt work at all because the situation is completely out of control.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

So who are these experts?
Experts are usually self-appointed people or elected officials
Or people skilled in sales techniques, trained or self-taught
To focus on things that might be identified as problems.
Now sometimes these things are not actually problems.
But the expert is someone who studies the problem
And tries to solve the problem.
The expert is someone who carries malpractice insurance.
Because often the solution becomes the problem.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Now sometimes experts look for weapons.
And sometimes they look everywhere for weapons.
And sometimes when they dont find any weapons
Sometimes other experts say, If you havent found any weapons
It doesnt mean there are no weapons.
And other experts looking for weapons find things like cleaning fluids.
And refrigerator rods. And small magnets. And they say,
These things may look like common objects to you
But in our opinion, they could be weapons.
Or they could be used to make weapons.
Or they could be used to ship weapons.
Or to store weapons.
Cause only an expert can see they might be weapons
And only an expert can see they might be problems.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

And sometimes, if its really really really hot.
And its July in January.
And theres no more snow and huge waves are wiping out cities.
And hurricanes are everywhere.
And everyone knows its a problem.
But if some of the experts say its no problem
And other experts claim its no problem
Or explain why its no problem
Then its simply not a problem.
But when an expert says its a problem
And makes a movie and wins an Oscar about the problem
Then all the other experts have to agree that it is most likely a problem.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

And even though a county can invade another country.
And flatten it. And ruin it. And create havoc and civil war in that other country
If the experts say that its not a problem
And everyone agrees that theyre experts good at seeing problems
Then invading that country is simply not a problem.
And if a country tortures people
And holds citizens without cause or trial and sets up military tribunals
This is also not a problem.
Unless theres an expert who says its the beginning of a problem.
Cause only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

Only an expert can see theres a problem
And see the problem is half the problem
And only an expert can deal with the problem
Only an expert can deal with the problem

By Laurie Anderson.  I posted a link to the video of Laurie Anderson performing this song on David Letterman the other day, but I thought the lyrics were worth reprinting in and of themselves.  She has a mind like a laser beam.