Touring and Struggle

A great deal of the time I spend on the road I am miserable.  I am an introvert by nature, and being around people, on other people’s schedule all day wears me out.  However, I view happiness as being overrated.  I’m not complaining despite what it may sound like in the first few sentences.  I have gone on every tour I have been asked to and will continue to do so.  Whenever I look back on a tour I am glad that I went.  I feel that I have expanded my horizons and accomplished something.  I have met new people, and seen new places, and at the very least provided people with a few hours of escape from the daily grind.

Life is often suffering and struggle.  Despite the pretty pictures that lie, has climbing a mountain ever been easy? Yet, except for maybe the few and the dead, I bet anyone that has climbed one is glad that they did.

We are surrounded by images in modern society that tell us how happy we’re going to be if we only do a certain thing.  Buy this deodorant, get laid, finally be happy.  Go get a McDowell burger, be satiated, finally be happy.  Buy a fancy car, impress your friends, finally be happy.  Although many of these things may bring about happiness, it is only in a transient sense.  Pretty soon you are stuck with yourself and right back to the problems you faced.

Love and friendship and being kind to people and doing good deeds and creating things that last and taking chances and experiencing life:  These are the only kinds of things that will bring fulfillment.  Anyone that tells you different is selling you snake oil.

I know like I sound like I am giving advice.  Christ, for some reason that bothers me.  Go out and find out for yourself.  Don’t take my word for it.  Some things you can only figure out for yourself.

Misplaced Passion

Reading Henry Rollins’s Get In the Van in our tour van.  I feel like I am looking in one of those endless mirrors where you see a reflection of a reflection and so on.  Not that I am experiencing any of the insanity that was part of those times, but perhaps reading a book about touring in a van while touring in a van wasn’t the best move. 

I have been obsessed with Black Flag though lately.  Once I dive into something I want to know everything there is to know about it.  I can’t help myself.  I dive into a world until I exhaust it and then I move on for awhile.  That is why on this blog you will see a bunch of posts about a topic and then a week later I’ll move onto a new set of topics. 

This blog is sort of a catalog of my obsessions.  I only hope that there are enough people that share my obsessions and/or I can find an angle that makes them interesting to others for a few minutes. 

There is so much great art out there.  How could anyone be bored?  Jail or lines are the only places I have ever found boring.  If you give me my ipod and access to books the days just melt away for me.  I feel sorry for people that have no passions or have passion and no outlet for it. 

I think in the modern world there is a lot of misplaced passion.  We are told by the television to have passion for money or items or religion. 

Past the pub that wrecks your body
And the church – all they want is your money
The Queen is dead, boys
And it’s so lonely on a limb

Design

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth -
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth – 
A snow-drop spider, a flower like froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.  
What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall? – 
If design govern in a thing so small

Design by Robert Frost.  A poem to properly begin October on. I am in and out of Chattanooga this morning, on to somewhere else in mere minutes.  This will have to do for now.

John Oliver On Ayn Rand

John Oliver Demands to Know How Ayn Rand Is ‘Stil…: http://youtu.be/oSk-C7W0L28

John Oliver and the the staff of Last Week Tonight are truly brilliant.  In a little over three minutes they completely and hilariously take apart conservatives strange worship of Ayn Rand.  It is a thing of beauty!

The Greed of Beyonce

The other night in the hotel I caught part of Beyonce’s HBO special and ever since I have been trying to figure out why it was so vile.  It is true that is was style without substance, that it was music without musicians, that it featured politics of the shallowest kind, and that it was more Las Vegas show than concert.  But even none of these things really get to the core of why it was so awful. 

The part of the concert I saw was championing feminism.  But that was it’s explicit premise.  Implicitly it was really championing materialism of the worst kind.  If you believe in yourself you too can be rich and successful and this is the height of human achievement.  This was really nothing but Joel Osteen without pants. 

Earlier this year I saw Buffy Sainte-Marie.  She spoke about how the way we treat others, and not money, should be our defining purpose.  There was something not only powerful about her, but subversive as well.  You felt as if you were seeing a great spiritual warrior for good. 

Buffy Sainte-Marie was, once upon a time, blacklisted by President Johnson for her brave political stances.  Beyonce has been invited into all of the halls of power, even the White House,  because at the end of the day she rubber stamps the status quo. 

During the concert I saw there was a giant sign behind Beyonce that put up words pertaining to feminism.  Subliminally it was saying the same thing as Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko:  Greed is good. 

What is Selling Out These Days?

As I creep slowly up the music business food chain and have thought about the state of the music business, I have had to think about what the term selling out means.  I grew up when the music business was healthy.  I also grew up following the punk and independent music scene quite closely.  There were people who “sold out” and who “didn’t sell out”.  It meant various things to various people, and was never clearly defined, but it was more so than today.  Lou Reed made a Honda commercial, but I don’t think anyone could ever accuse him of selling out.  Meanwhile a band like Fugazi never even allowed themselves to be interviewed in magazines that had booze or tobacco ads.  Johnny Rotten, John Lydon, did a butter ad a couple years ago, but he claimed this was only to get Public Image Ltd, a very avant garde band, back to making records.  Sometimes things stick to artists and sometimes they don’t.   Really I think you have to measure someone’s whole career and determine if they have artistic integrity.

Back in the renaissance,  in Italy, there was a rich and powerful family named the Medici family.  They funded the arts heavily.  They were patrons of such artists as Michaelangelo.   Basically in one way or another artists need their Medici family.  It is preferable if this is done through funding through the general public, as lots of small patrons cannot really force an artist to compromise their vision. 

However, what do you do in an age when no one is buying records the way they once were?  Art costs money to make.  Bills still need to be paid. 

You see more and more artists making corporate partnerships in order to survive.  More and more artists also appear in commercials as mainstream radio has been neutered almost completely.   This makes me uncomfortable because large corporations often act unethically.  Part of the purpose of art is to speak truth to power.  It becomes harder to do, though it is not impossible, if an artist is funded by that power.  No one will accuse John Lydon anytime soon of biting his tongue.  But he was well established by the time he made a commercial.  I do think that the relationship between corporations and artists is corrupting,  if not to every artist, then at least in the industry overall.  If it is hard to pinpoint exactly who has been corrupted,  it does seem like there is less art speaking truth to power than during the 60’s or the punk rock era. 

I don’t have the answer to these questions.  I just think it is worth thinking about.  I do think that it is important that individuals support artists with their own money through buying of records, supporting radio stations that don’t have corporate playlists, etc.  In a capitalist society you vote with your money.  If you want art that means something you need to be willing to pay for it.  I am still a person that buys almost all of my records, because I view it as investing in an art that means something to me.  Music has, if not literally saved my life, definitely kept me sane.  I want there to continue to be artists that aren’t afraid to speak their mind and to expose their soul. 

Bibi the Thug

Watching Benjamin Netanyahu on TV right now.  I despise that man.  I wish we would tell Israel we won’t give them one dime until they get rid of that crooked war monger.  He is as much an impediment to peace as anyone else.  He is a thug and not to be trusted.  We talk about our interests in this country all the time, that we must do what we can to protect our way of life.  As long as someone like him is in control of Israel, and we support them, we are doing damage to our interests and endangering our way of life.