Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holy Daze

This is an abbreviated version of my annual holiday note to friends with a pic of me around 13 (that would be 1957) - so cool (there's a white beetle painted on the left pocket - a few friends & I called ourselves The Beetles!):


During 2011 I finished putting simple recordings of the songs in my Songbook, 1969-2009 on youtube, so anyone with a book can search my name & a song title to see how it goes. Now I’m in process of recording them again in more finished versions, relative of course - they’re still demos compared to professional recordings. But it is such fun to lay down a track with guitar & vocals as a guide, add bass, drums, maybe piano, almost always lead guitar and do final versions of vocals, sometimes adding harmony. For this purpose I’ve gotten a bass guitar, mac-mini for recording & coordinated my P.A. equipment to put the sound into and out of the computer. I plan to put the songs on-line, in batches, like CD releases, designing a cover for each batch. When I figure out how to upload them: This extends my archiving project which is essentially complete regarding painting and cartoons. A memoir is in the works too, now about 180 pages but keeps expanding. The only readers I envision for this project are daughter Kallio (but she’s only a maybe) and me.

The six books I’ve published over the last year or two are available as downloads or hardcopy (includes the crime fiction novel Arrival): search my name at The 15-song free download collaboration with KVpop is still available with links on my blog & painting website

Wednesday evenings I jam with a group in Inman Park where I first started fooling around with bass. They also have a drum set I sit down at sometimes. I created a drum out of a sheetrock mud container, painting it up with anti-war messages, for use at demonstrations since the illegal Iraq invasion, so have developed some limited drumming skill – cut broom-handle drumsticks. I’ve been to some of the OccupyAtlanta gatherings and am heartened by this way-overdue movement to question who rules for whose benefit. I’ve read Naomi Klein’s expose, Shock Doctrine, on this question as well as Ralph Nader’s profile of corporate CEOs. Currently reading The Smartest Guys in the Room, about the Enron fiasco. I usually review this kind of stuff on my blog. Been reading Swedish crime fiction lately and some Brits, Peter Robinson, John Harvey and rereading George V. Higgins. In a book club, we mostly read contemporary fiction. Of course I read some of the incredible volume of stuff I encounter on-line, about nukes, corporate crime, injustice, environmental degradation etc;,,,,, (which publishes my rants & drawings). I have to say, music is what pro-occupies me centrally these days, jamming whenever opportunity arises and doing my recording project, some new songs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Head Trip

oil painting, Out of the Blue, Tom Ferguson

I just remembered this morning that phrase, haven’t heard or thought it in years. Someone on a head trip might be someone who is out of touch, distant, insensitive to others, preoccupied with ideas.
Under the influence of psychedelics people in the timeframe I’m thinking of were subject to vibrations - music could send you into near ecstasy and a hug could feel soooo good. In the same way criticism or threats could bring scary waves of paranoia. Another drug term, mind-fucker, would be someone who exploited that vulnerability as a put-down artist, sadistically playing on people’s insecurities in order to feel a warped sense of superiority.
Psychedelics would somehow jerk you into the present with a raw intensity where, seeing things for the first time, the world was a marvelous place indeed, full of absolute wonder and delight. And threats. Beauty was very much magnified or rather, the world was seen as it is, a wondrous miracle including the realization of one’s own being in it. One’s psychology was magnified, and being shaped by a dysfunctional society that experience was not always pleasant. If your self-esteem was low, whether behind the mask of arrogance or the mask of shyness, one could be subject to fear, paranoia and panic.
I can now see the head trip, thanks to the clarifying work of a lot of writers, particularly Eckhart Tolle, as referring to the ego, created by the cultural belief that we are separate vulnerable entities, thus mired in alienation and fear. The feeling of bliss reported by many, however temporary, challenges that existential view with an insight into the interconnectedness of all things. Feeling this interconnectedness accounts for the bliss or what Tolle calls enlightenment. The ego though, so established and dominating but threatened by consciousness, and dependent on a belief in separation, can intrude into well-being, distracting one from the interconnection conviction, sowing doubt and fear.
An artificial altered state amplifies it but the same process is at work in one’s daily psychology. Just this morning I was in bed, waking up, realizing I was thinking thinking thinking and breathing very shallow, even holding my breath as I thought. At one point I noticed I was reliving a pleasant memory and feeling mellow then became aware of holding my breath, took a breath, became present, yes, then lost it, started thinking again, this time remembering a social blunder and exchanging mellow for guilt, embarrassment, self-attack and the physical pain accompanying such thoughts. Who is the attacker I thought? Ego. Be the observer I said, and say.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Impeachable Offense

"I guess I find that judgemental, yr honor."

Government Officials take oaths to defend and protect the Constitution. Violation of that oath is, or ought to be, an impeachable offense. Take for example the recent Supreme Court ruling asserting that corporations are persons with all the rights and privileges thereof, particularly free speech, which they can of course, given their resources, more easily exercise than “real” persons. This would be less treasonous if the intent were not crafting seductive messages designed to legitimize anti-democratic hierarchy and funnel power and money ever upward. Since corporations are about, and only about, profits such messages please stockholders and CEOs but deliberately undermine democracy, which, if memory serves, is what the Constitution is about. The ideological Right confuses freedom with unimpeded business activity (the “free market”), just as it defines the pursuit of happiness. A close reading of the Constitution offers little support for this degrading notion.

Legislating other laws and pursuing policies that favor corporations over the people (we the people) also qualify as impeachable offenses. We are laying down the law here. Trade agreements such as NAFTA and GATT, for example. And policies of the foreign variety, which serve the same masters. Aren’t they too violations of an oath that pledges fealty to the welfare of the people, hardly served by extending ruthless corporate hegemony and trashing the life system?

It is disheartening to review accounts of police and military blatantly siding with owners against workers during early union struggles. Today we aren’t too surprised at Egyptian or Syrian violent reactions to awakening democracy but police oppression here of peaceful demonstrators flies in the face of our indoctrination (unless we’ve been paying attention). The latest impeachable offense has been committed by the senate when it overwhelmingly, 93-7 (who are those 7?), passed SB 1867, granting the military the power to indefinitely detain any U.S. citizen. That’s indefinite as in forever! No habeus corpus, no trial. This purports to be aimed at terrorists, of course, but the 1% are feeling exposed, getting nervous. Their minions in the Senate thus pass this reactionary bill, responding to the stirring of democracy begun in the Arab Spring, as manifest here in the plutocracy-exposing Occupy Wall Street movement. Off with their heads is perhaps too harsh but impeachment seems an appropriate response to the anti-democratic beast.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hinson & Haze, episode 18.

wherein a geyser turns back on itself

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hinson & Haze, episode 17.

wherein the patriarchal indictment is read