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

What Would You Like to See More Of

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A few days ago this blog hit its one year anniversary.  I stated in that post that most blogs take two years to become successful and that most people give up after nine months.  The reason that I have spent so much time writing is that so many of you have been supportive and have kept coming back.  

One of the reasons I started this blog, aside from encouragement from friends and family, and the simple fact that I love to write, was to develop some kind of alternative revenue stream.  As a musician, one of the smartest things you can do is to try to get some other kind of cash flow going, because even in a touring band there are occasionally lean months.  My goal finically in starting this was as simple as a car payment.  If the blog is more successful than that great, but if I can get a car payment out of writing, then I’m a happy guy!  It’s one less thing I have to worry about and it allows me more freedom as a musician.  

Because I have kept writing due to the support of those of you that read this, I would like to ask you what topics would you like to see more of?  Would you like to see more politics, literature, music, poetry, etc…

I have to approve any comments that get added to this site.  Comments on most sites just turn into a shitstorm of stupidity if left unattended.  I trust that all of you that come here are intelligent, but it only takes one idiot to ruin the fun.  So, if you message me or comment privately with any thoughts or ideas, I will keep them to myself and will try to include a little more of whatever topic wins out.  

Again, I can’t thank all of you enough.  It’s always encouraging that there are some other at least partially likeminded individuals out in this insane world!  

In the future when all’s well…

Jeff

In the Kingdom of Ice

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The writer Hampton Sides has a new book out called In the Kingdom of Ice.  I have only just started reading it, so I don’t want to say too much about it, but if it is anything like Sides’s other books it will be worth every penny.  Sides is one of my favorite history writers.  Following in the footsteps of Shelby Foote, Sides knows how to write accurate history with a the eye of a cinematographer and the gift of natural storyteller.  Every single one of his books has opened a new world up to me.  I can’t even imagine the insane amount of research and work that goes into these books.  His other three books, all worth reading, are as follows:

Blood and Thunder:  This is the story of Kit Carson and the Indian Wars that take place largely in New Mexico.  Along with the equally fascinating Empire of the Summer Moon, written by S.C. Gwynne about the Indian Wars in Texas, this book book is at the top of my list for my favorite history book.  If you read both of these books you will have a great idea of what actually happened during our westward expansion.  Both of these books are fascinating, intelligent, and page turners.  

Ghost Soldiers:  This is Sides’s book on the Bantam Death March and the operation that took place to rescue the survivors.  It is at times both haunting and exciting.  Also, many of the little details that Sides includes are fascinating.  It makes you understand why the Japanese Empire was doomed to failure for the way that they treated those that they conquered.  Another interesting fact is that the American government introduced speed to our soldiers during World War II.  They gave it to the soldiers performing the rescue operation so that they could stay up for several days to complete the operation in the time needed.  

Hellhound On HIs Trail:  This is a book about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and James Earl Ray.  The subtitle of this book is The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History.  It does deliver all of the details on the manhunt of James Earl Ray, and it is fascinating.  I did not know, for instance, that James Earl Ray had actually escaped from prison.  But what makes the book really fascinating is the juxtaposition between Martin Luther King Jr. and James Earl Ray.  King believed in nonviolence to the point that he refused to travel with armed body guards.  And although Sides does not shy away from King’s adultery or other human failings, you understand after reading the book about why he was such an inspiring figure.  His vision for humanity was one of decency and dignity.  Meanwhile Ray is one of life’s losers, a man without any clear goal or passion.  He is a hollow man whose small-mindedness brought him to violence.  They are figures at the complete opposite ends of the human spectrum.  

I was a History Major and eventually an American Studies Major in college.  There is no reason that history shouldn’t be fascinating.  Occasionally you should challenge yourself with a large sprawling work like William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, as these kinds of books can present the big picture in ways that other books can’t.  But usually if history is hard to read, and Shirer’s book is not, it just tells a very complex history, it is the fault of the writer.  Sides’s work is no less valid for being readable.  He is simply a great writer as well as a great historian.  If you are interested in our country, all of these books are worth looking into.  You will learn a great deal while being entertained.  

One Year Anniversary

This marks the one year anniversary since I started this blog.  I want to thank all of you that have signed up to follow this blog and also all of you that have visited.  They say the average blog takes two years to take off and that most people quit in nine months.  I’ve been able to keep doing this longer than the average because of all of you that have kept coming coming back.  Please continue to do so.  If you like what I am doing, and you know someone else that might like this blog as well, please spread the gospel.  Thanks again for your continued support.  

In the future when all’s well…

Jeff

The Dream

By Felix Pollack

He dreamed of 
An open window.
A vagina, said
his psychiatrist.
Your divorce, said
his mistress.
Suicide, said
an ominous voice within him.
It means you should close the window
or you’ll catch cold, said
his mother.
His wife said
nothing.
He dared not tell her
such a
dangerous dream.  

I read this today in a book that my friend Kevin Russell gave to me.  It is a collection of poetry called The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart.  It’s put together really well, and should be of interest to you, if you care about such things…

The Joy of Truth

The truth, or at least what I perceive as the truth, makes me happy, even if it is something that wouldn’t typically bring one joy.  I am talking about ideas and art, and not some kind of realization of some painful physical truth.  I am not insane, or not completely!   Meanwhile, things that seem false, unless they are an exaggeration to get at the truth, or an absurdity for comic effect, fill me with displeasure.  Euphamisms, sentimentality, and platitudes are things I have no time for.  Sure, there are always exceptions to every rule, but in general this is how I feel. 

So I could watch something like Apocalypse Now, which for all of its artistic liberties, feels like it is trying to say something truthful about the Vietnam War, and feel completely alive afterwards and full of inspiration.  Meanwhile I could watch a feel good movie, albeit one that is meant to manipulate you into crying, like Mr. Holland’s Opus, and die a thousand small deaths. 

That doesn’t mean if something is happy and full of joy it can’t also be true.  David Lynch’s The Straight Story is one movie I absolutely love that is filled with love and compassion. 

Although a great deal about the modern world troubles me, and I feel that humankind has the odds stacked against us, I am full of hope that the world can be better.  I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t think so.  If I was a pessimist I would simply write nothing at all. 

Shinyribs Tour and Poetry

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Starting this Wednesday I am going on tour with Shinyribs.  We will be in New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.

For a list of full tour details here is a link to the Shinyribs website:

http://www.shinyribs.org

Usually when I go on tour, mostly due to lack of service, but also from trying to type things on my phone, and sheer exhaustion, my blogging input decreases.  One thing I am going to try to do on this tour is to post some kind of poem every day based on what I see on the road.  There may be a day or so without service, but if that happens I’ll just post two the next day or whatever.

Lately I’ve been posting poetry, which until recently I have never written before, although I have written plenty of song lyrics.  I don’t even feel comfortable calling it poetry as I have no experience in that field.  I think of it more as prose in verse form.  There is something Zen about it for me.  I enjoy trying to write something that translates some kind of image or idea without all of the explaining that comes with writing prose.  I’m having fun with it.  Hopefully you all will enjoy some of it as well.