A Few Thoughts From the Exhausted and Insane

I have a ridiculous amount of work to do, with this blog, with my music career, around the house, etc.  I also have to proofread a book for my Dad and I have a friend’s book that I really want to write about, but I don’t want to do a half assed job, so I am waiting till my brain is somewhere close to normal.  Between being on the road and canvassing for a political group on my days off, I am reaching a point of exhaustion close to insanity.  I’m not complaining.  I am just stating cold hard facts.  I would much rather have things to work on than not.  However, I told my brother that you know you are busy when you are excited about going on a long van ride, because you will finally get a chance to catch up on the reading that you need to.  You can’t keep a blog going or write songs unless you are taking in a constant stream of information.  Lately I get home and have just been watching The Walking Dead with one eye open.

1.  I have noticed that the older, the whiter, the richer, and the more masculine you are, the more unlikely you are to be open to new ideas.  Some guy told me today that he votes down every proposition on a ballot that no matter what it pertains to!  Another guy told me that public transportation was a scheme of the international elite!  WTF?!!!

2.  If you are insanely exhausted Public Image Ltd., Rollins Band, and Black Flag are a great soundtrack.  All three bands are perfect soundtracks to insanity and are energized enough to keep you going.

3.  Way more kids than you would think open the door to a stranger.  Luckily I am just trying to inform people, but how do they know I’m not Charles Manson crossed with Dracula?  I remember I was always told to not open the door for strangers.  With the way I look right now, with a full beard, in serious need of a haircut, and with dark circles under my eyes, I would be a little wary of opening the door to me.

4.  When you are tired why do you find yourself staring at the wall, waiting for the last minute to do everything, only to end up running around like your hair is on fire to finally get whatever it was that you needed done?  You only end up burning yourself out even further.

5.  Why is it that when you are tired that even a simple question, like what is the weather like, makes you want to make a flute out of someone’s femur bone?

As Andy Reid used to say at Philadelphia Eagles’ press conferences, “Time’s yours.”

The Concise Untold History of the United States

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I read the Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick book The Untold History of the United States.  They have now released a companion book, that is shorter and more closely follows the TV series.  It is called The Concise Untold History of the United States.  The difference between the two books as Oliver Stone explained on his Facebook page:

“Concise Untold History” was released last week. At 306 pages, it faithfully renders the text of the 12-hour series. The original 618-page edition, with 90 pages of footnotes, is really closer to a primer that substantiates the details presented in the film. 

I am particularly passionate over this ‘Concise History,’ and find it poetic in keeping with the spirit of the series. It’s a light-weight paperback that can easily be carried around.  

I was really impressed with the first book.  I was a History Major and eventually graduated with a degree in American Studies.  I have seen at least some of the information that Stone and Kuznick wrote about corroborated in other sources.  I  don’t normally like to recommend a book I haven’t read, but if you are at all interested in what they have to say, but feel a little daunted in a 600 plus page book, this seems like a good place to start.  From what I saw of it the series was excellent as well.  After reading the first book and seeing about half of the series, I feel pretty safe saying this would be a very interesting read.

Jimmy Cliff World Upside Down

One of the best albums in recent years is Jimmy Cliff’s Rebirth.  It is the full package with an artist at the top of their game.  It is political, emotional, soulful, and absolutely fearless.  The production by Tim Armstrong is note perfect.  Somehow Jimmy Cliff can sing as powerfully now as he ever did.  This live performance on Jools Holland is stunning.  If you get the chance also check out the YouTube clip of him performing One More from this same performance in 2012.

Protests Erupt Over Opera

The opera The Death of Klinghoffer is causing all kinds of drama in NYC.  I just read the following New York Times article about it:

New York Times The Death of Klinghoffer

If you want to read a basic description of the plot and what people find controversial about it you can find it on Wikipedia:

Wikipedia The Death of Klinghoffer

I am not going to pretend that I understand the opera having not seen or heard it.  I do think Rudy Giuliani is an ambulance chaser, but that can be a conversation for another day.

Here is my question:  When is the last time that a pop song, let alone an opera, started a serious political discussion?  This is what art is supposed to do, to bring up subjects in a way that get people discussing things in a peaceful manner.  The opera may be great or it may be terrible, but it has gotten people talking about an important political topic, one of which there isn’t enough discussion on.  It doesn’t seem as it is, by design, meant to anger or offend people.  It seems like it is the work of a serious artist that is trying to get people to think.

People have the right to peacefully protest anything they want.  If they find the opera offensive it is their right to stand outside and provide people with an alternative viewpoint, as long as they do not threaten or harass those that want to see it.

However, when it comes to art I would rather see a free exchange of ideas.  I would rather see some kind of in depth and honest criticism of the work than a protest.

However, in this case, I think the protestors lose in two ways.  First they are meeting complex ideas with something simple.  Second, they are drawing attention to something that they don’t want people to see.  That never works.  Protests are a a great way to bring attention to things that aren’t receiving enough attention.  Let’s face it, operas have about 0% effect on popular culture in America.  I don’t even know the names of any newer operas other than this one and I listen to a ton of music, including on occasion opera.  Now I am interested in seeing this one at some point just to see what all the racket is about.

I remember when The Passion of the Christ came out.  There was a lot of controversy over that.  I don’t like to let others make up my mind for me, so I went to see a movie that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen, because I wanted to decide for myself what I thought about it.  I did not like the movie, because I thought it dwelled on all the wrong aspects of Jesus, but I was glad I went because it was a large part of the cultural conversation at the time.  In my opinion anything that makes one think is a good thing, even if at the end of the day what you think is that you don’t like it.

Public Image Video

Off to see the canvassing wizard.  I have been reading a lot about John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) recently, including his two books.  I have also been listening to a great deal of Public Image Limited, which is his band after The Sex Pistols.  This is their groundbreaking first single Public Image.  This song was quite influential in the world of post punk.  Listen to the guitar and how similar it is to early U2 for instance.  Extra points for bassist Jah Wobble playing from a chair!

Rules For Blogging

There are no rules for blogging.  However, it helped me to establish rules to write by, so that I could be productive.  I have read that the single most important thing to establishing an audience was creating a lot of content.  I have produced almost a thousand blogs in just a little over a year.  Establish your own rules, but these are the ones I set up for myself so that I could pump out a lot of content:

1.  Post almost as soon as I am done writing:  This means that I allow some grammatical errors to slip through the gates, but it also allows me to escape the jaws of self-doubt, which can crush so many ideas.  I try to clean up my writing a little as I go along.  It is so easy to feel passionate about something, write it, and then later on feel like what the hell was I thinking?  Self-analysis is always important, but usually most of the self-doubt that comes into play is what are people going to think about my writing.  What are my friends back home going to think?  What is my family going to think?  These are the kinds of things that can paralyze you, this fear of being accepted.  If you just write and post, and clean it up afterwards, it is out there.

2.  Do not delete things that are posted:  I have broken this rule once or twice, but largely I stick to it.  I allow myself to change my mind and write something that contradicts what I wrote at an earlier date, but by and large never allow myself to delete something I have written.  This again allows you to not let the self-doubt of what will others think enter the picture.  If you are going to be true to yourself and your ideas, you will occasionally put your foot in your own mouth, but that is OK.  Making mistakes and being wrong is part of being human.  If you realize you were wrong, admit it in another post or make an addition to a post, but then move on.

3.  Try as much as possible to be intellectually and emotionally honest:  Again this will occasionally lead to getting something wrong, but this will also again alleviate the the pressure of outside forces which will only water down your writing.  Anytime you write something you are going to be judged.  That is the nature of the beast.  Either you will be judged for your ideas or your style.  Anytime someone reads something you wrote it will be judged in one way or another.  Any fear of this judgment can crush good writing as most writing that is worth anything goes out on a limb either intellectually or emotionally.  If you are saying something that everybody knows already, that just conveys middle of the road vanilla emotions, there is no point in writing it.  This is not the same as trying to communicate universal truths.  Often universal truths can be hidden in plain site.  I’m also not talking about being shocking for shocking’s sake.  If you write something shocking that has no basis in reality, it is a purposeful distortion of the truth and that is no value to anyone. Everyone only has a partial knowledge of the truth.  We again all make mistakes and get things wrong.  I try to get the facts right as much as possible and I try to be as honest as I can about how I feel, given the limitations of language.  If I’m wrong I will simply write another post explaining how I was wrong and why.

Anyway, those are rules I set for myself to allow myself freedom of thought and a high production rate.  If that helps you great, if not, make up your own rules that allow you to do the same.

More than anything I wanted to convey to some of you that have just started coming here how and why I write the way I do.  I view my blog, and a lot of the blogs I like, as outward looking journals.  It is capturing emotions and thoughts about the world in real time.  

We Give Speed to Children and Don’t Allow Adults to Smoke Pot

“If you want to know how fucked up this country is, know that we give the best speed available to our children (adderall), and we don’t allow adults to smoke pot.” – Lewis Black  in Old Yeller* 

If you want a good laugh watch Lewis Black’s comedy special Old Yeller.  It starts a little bit slow but builds up steam as it goes along.  As usual, Black is spot on in his comic observations of American life.  I was thinking about how I have to go out canvassing this afternoon, after just getting back from the road yesterday, and I started thinking about how it would be nice if I had some speed, and therefor…

*This may be slightly paraphrased.  I searched the internet for awhile trying to find the quote, but I couldn’t.  There are some other blogs/websites that use this quote, but it didn’t look to me like they were accurate in what he actually said.  So I went as best I could from memory.