"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

27 August 2010

The Perfect Band

Space Team Electra has always been my favorite local band. The lyrics and instrumentation are what grabbed me. Well, and the lead singer wasn't too hard to look at, but I never once wanted to hold up her poster with one hand, despite what one of Jezebel once said after we saw the band perform at the Bluebird.

Sadly, they only made two full-length albums and one EP. Then, like the mourning mist, they were gone. Once or twice, I've heard whispers of a possible reunion, but that seems to only be a mental-blue balling rumor.

My companion describes her favorite band as the black jelly bean of music. You either love them or hate them. No shades of Grey there. I tend to think of Space Team Electra in that context. Over the years and lifetimes I've introduced cats to them, I've either been praised and thanked or told to go fuck myself.

I've also gotten the same reaction when playing Faith No More, which is kind of sad...

Every so often, I have heard someone speak of the perfect album. One example was Jets to Brazil's Orange Rhyming Dictionary, which is a good album, though I'd not say perfect. A friend of mine used to say the same thing about the Counting Crows first album. Now, Let it Bleed from the Rolling Stones, Physical Graffiti from Led Zeppelin, and either Let it Be or Abby Road from the Beatles are some perfect albums. I could listen to all of those in their entirety for the rest of my life. Peter Gabriel's Up, Social Distortion's self-titled album, and Faith No More's The Real Thing fall into that category as well.

Yet, when I think of the perfect album, the perfect song, the perfect band, I think of Space Team Electra. I cannot explain. They just resonate for me like that.

Fuck, at one point, I joked I'd marry the girl who liked Space Team Electra as much as me...

Although, if you even joke with Sabina that we're common-law, she'll launch into a drawn-out oxygen wasting denial. Use a spousal term, she'll yip like she's been burned alive, or, at the very least, kicked really, really hard. Not that I've ever done such things just for entertainment. That would be cruel.

21 August 2010

Mob Meditations

For the first time since we moved here, we'll not be attending the Blues Fest. To say our hearts were not in it would be an anatomical given, seeing as that coronary muscle is located within the chest cavity. One of the bands that's been there the other times, which is pretty good live, but has yet to translate that mojo to an album, wasn't going to perform. It would cost to get in and the beer, whilst from respectable breweries, might only be the reviled 3.2-seriously. There was also the observation my father made; it was like a renaissance festival, one could go to one such event, and then not go for ten years, and very little, if anything, would have changed.

There were gin and juke joints, coffee houses, and pool halls like that in the city, which I encountered. Some seemed to find comfort in such things. I would find these places perversely fascinating, but also rather terrifying.

Another aspect was the auspice of crowds. I am a paradoxically misanthropic bastard. One of my favorite hobbies to this day is to monkey watch. Still, throw me into a pack of them, and I become uneasy. I cannot help but wonder if moving away from a metropolitan area, and back into in-between places, has made this aspect of my psyche worse, or at least more pronounced.

The show I went to with Sabina was rather good. The band was enjoyable and they played a few songs that I liked. Be that as it may, at one point, it hit me that I was surrounded by several thousand other hominids who were clapping, singing along, making various yowls and yips, and pumping their fists in the air. From a shamanic standpoint, perhaps they were caught up in ritual ecstasy, but that's not what I saw. I saw a lynch mob.

I do not blame the band for this. I've seen the same thing at other concerts with other bands. Being entertainers, they do milk this ecstasy, riding the snake's tail for all it's worth. I've observed the same glazed over, caught-up-in-the-tide-of-the-crowd looks at various religious services and rituals, and the few sporting events I've ended up at as well. It terrifies me.

It is not without a sense of irony that I note one of the songs I liked at that show was called Witch Hunt, a tune describing in vivid and disturbing detail the dangers of a lynch mob...

I often will say my greatest fear is pitch blackness, mostly because of being rendered utterly blind. My irrational animal fear is sharks, although I am also fascinated by them and will watch documentaries on them, those being my horror films and further proving my hypocrisies. Still, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, perhaps my greatest fear is Homo sapiens when you get them into groups of two or more. The herd. Packs. A mob.

Then again, perhaps I just have bad wiring, which leads to me being a paradoxical misanthrope. Perhaps not every crowd is a herd on the verge of stampede, a pack on the precipice of a feeding frenzy, or zealot's mob getting ready to beat and burn their chosen bugaboo. Maybe I should try harder to give myself over to that ritual ecstasy, thus facing my fear, instead of being its thrall.

Whatever the answer, it does seem I have gotten more misanthropic and less willing to deal with large crowds. Good or ill, there it is. I'm sure there are some, more social than I, who would see this as horrible, and yet, perhaps most horrible of all, is I really don't mind being this way. I have always been a watcher, because, well, I like to watch. And, it seems one of the best ways to observe is from the outside looking in.

Perhaps it's just my hypocrisy knows no bounds, but I bet ya'll probably already guessed that...

15 August 2010

Pre-Rock and/or Roll Show Muses

Sabina and I are both fans of what could be termed as world music. It's hard to say who went that way first, or if it was a mutual thing. My tastes are a little more to the African, and I can groove on some middle eastern and Indian folk, as well as the Indo-fusion stylings of Prem Joshua. As of late, Sabina has been digging more toward Americana and Bluegrass. Sure, there are those who might not see Americana or Bluegrass as overly worldly, but the banjo is African in origin, and rural places, even and especially in the backwoods of the south could certainly count as another nation-state, if not a whole other space-time continuum.

I would have like to have seen Habib Koite the last time he performed in this part of the world. Finances prevented it, which was frustrating. Of course, I'd have had to deal with crowds too. Whilst he's played with Bonnie Raitt and gotten a little more recognition outside of his native Mali, I don't know when he might be back this way.

Somehow, Sabina scrimped up enough paper to see her very favoritist band ever. The one she's just about a deadhead about. Recently, she told me fans of this band are the trekkies of music, which is something I'm not sure I'd be proud of, but, then again, it is said pride's a sin.

This band is another international act, being a three-piece from the Dominion of Canada. Sort of like the Tea Party and Neil Young, although, I confess I like the Tea Party a little better, these other cats ain't too bad. Some talented lads. Well, for being Canadian. I mean, how seriously can you take anyone who cannot pronounce the word about?

Probably about as seriously as someone who says ya'll and reckon, I reckon...

They're supposed to be in the sub-genre of prog-rock, like Yes. I always wanted to do a Yes tribute band called Maybe, is that wrong of me? Sure, I can't play an instrument, but neither can the members of Kiss or techno DJs, neither of which appear to be starving. Someone once told me Peter Gabriel could be called prog-rock, and I really dig him, even if he is British, which brings its own set of problems and pomposity, and if you don't believe me, go and read some Kipling.

Because I like, like Sabina, I'll go with her to see this Canadian act. I might even wear my kufi, although you might need to be one of those deadhead/trekkie types toward the band to get why. This band does have one or two toe-tappers I dig. I'm hoping they'll play my favorite;

If not, I'm sure they'll do that Mark Twain-esque one...

12 August 2010

Empty Spaces

I dreamt of my father. We were at the house out in the badlands of eastern Colorado and he was rushing my brother, sister, the Grumpy Old Men, and myself into his auto. My mother was still inside. It seemed rather shocking when my father got into the vehicle and started it up whilst my mother was still in the house.

"What about Mom?" I asked.

"We've got to go!" My father snapped. "She can catch up."

My eyes opened up to Chevy. He nuzzled me gently. He was letting me know that the hounds were all hungry and going outside to use the loo would be nice too. I got up, the dream clinging to the mathematics of my thoughts like cobwebs and tree sap.

My ten-pence dream analysis? Perhaps my father is running. Whether it's from a phantasm of memory or just from himself in general is conjecture.

He has spoken of loosing that loving feeling for the new place. Too many children. Too much noise at all hours. He already wants to move again.

I cannot help but wonder if my father has been caught up in the if only's. If only I can get out of the badlands. If only I can be closer to my kids. If only I get rid of the animals and start over.

He got rid of the animals and moved and is closer to my siblings and I. And then reality set in. There are still the phantasms and the memories. All that time and all the empty spaces.

My sister postulated my father sits at home by himself and it drives him nuts. He's got his guitars, films, music, and books, but he doesn't always have someone to talk to, or even just wish he could have alone time from. It's as if he's run out of distractions. Perhaps he is listless and drifting.

I can somewhat empathize, although it was not a mate that I lost all those months ago. Still, there are days I struggle to keep from collapsing into a sobbing ball. Sometimes, I feel that listlessness. Detached and hollow.

Mentioning my mother is gone is something I wish I could avoid, but it's there. It happened. I cannot deny it. I guess it just bothers me when it does get mentioned in front of a stranger or someone I've not seen for awhile, and the social awkwardness of them trying to express condolence and me pretending to accept it has to play out like a fucking dog and pony show.

I am not sure what to do for my father, or if there's really anything I can do. Folk wisdom states we all grieve in our own special little ways. A trite fluffy-bunny approach, but I begrudgingly admit to seeing the truth to it. It seems a given my father is still grieving because I know my sister and I are.

My brother too. I theorize that's why he made sure to be overly busy with landscaping projects and said my sister outlaw was being so needy about having quality time with him when my father was moving, and, thus didn't help; he was trying to distract himself. Throwing himself into work as way to deal with the empty spaces of my mother's death, leaving my father, sister, and I to deal with the emotional wreckage and shrapnel that was stirred up with the move.

Thanks, ti ti, but so it goes...

In just a few days more than a month, we'll all be heading into the outback to scatter my mother's ashes, as per her request. My father has mentioned how this event has just hung over him like a pall. Perhaps that is what my father needs to deal with the empty spaces and place the final bit of closure on this whole thing. This, like my speculation with my brother, is a theory. One, which will not be proven as fact until just a little over a month from the here and now.

10 August 2010

Snapshots From Beyond the End of the World

Something I came across. I would looooooooooooove to have this sign hanging from my front fence...

An art shot of the House of Owls and Bats, taken about a half hour before the sun went behind the northern rim of the valley.

Our potatoes are sprouting! This fills me with joy. There's a possibility some of our other seedlings may yet yield something, but it remains to be seen.

The Grumpy Old Men hanging out by the folly whilst yard work was being done. I am happy to see how well they've adjusted to life here in the pointylands.

Milarepa looking quiet majestic.

Luna and her brood; Astrid [right], Shuja [middle], and Eva [that dark spot closest to Luna's head, she has spooky-crazy eyes].

Pandora, the weasel-r't I helped my companion rescue back in the late autumn. Sabina constantly tells me that Pandora is my ferret.

Were I the type to complain, I'd bitch about not having a more steady source of paper, my house, and definitely my kitchen being a little too small, and just not having enough time, it seems. However, I am not the type to complain. This is what makes it interesting. The above stated things are snags and inconveniences, to be sure, but nothing ever goes quite according to plan.

Then again, my favorite joke states a cosmic truth; the quickest way to make [a] god laugh is to have a plan...

I live in a one-hundred thirty year old house in the mountains of Colorado, in the very township that drew me up here in the first place, with the woman I wanted to spend my life with, that I didn't have to bribe or use roofies and duct tape on. My daughter is fucking magic. Although it is cliche, I am living the dream.

05 August 2010

Dizzenyland Pilgrimage

Because I am not only heretic, but a hypocrite, I was more than intrigued to make a pilgrimage to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. To be honest, it wasn't completely my fault. My daughter was visiting, and I'd been wanting/promising to take her there for years. Sabina, who suggested the hop, wanted to go during high summer, as opposed to late summer or early autumn, as we had done in the past.

"It's like fucking Disneyland," Elvis snorted the last time we went. Like me, he's not much for institutions, and we'd just passed the gift shop, which was a less than pleasant experience. I reached over and patted his shoulder.

"Wait till we get to the Stupa itself," I said. When we did, he stopped dead in his tracks, his jaw going slack.


A petty man would've made some crack. I am not a petty man, and Sabina probably would not have dug me making some crack to her very best friend as he stood in transfixed awe taking in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, which, it is said, liberates upon seeing.

So, I just smirked, understanding his awe. How could I not? The Stupa is a pretty impressive thing to behold. The closest I can parallel is the Buddhist equivalent of grand cathedral.

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya sits in the main valley of the Shambhala Mountain Center, which was founded by the monk Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who is credited with introducing Tibetan Buddhism to the western world. It is said he was possessed of crazy wisdom, and opted for nice suits over saffron robes, as to be more accessible to his new crop of students. Of course, he was also a drunk, a drug addict, and a womanizer, thus showing everyone is full of shit. Even the Buddhists.

I, of course, dig such an irony...

Still, the Stupa is kind of holy to me. Perhaps one of the only structures, that's not a ruin, that is. It is a place I go to only once a year or every few years. Perhaps my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

It had just started raining when we arrived. So, to wait out the storm, we visited the gift shop. Initially, Sabina and I felt kind of dirty about it. My daughter told me there are vendors around the Vatican City who are profane enough to sell Pope snow globes, which somehow made a gift shop in the shadow of the largest Buddhist monument in the western world not so bad, even if it seemed like most everything was a little overpriced.

There are those who accuse me, quite baselessly, I might add, of being contrary, paradoxical, and otherwise quirky. My father goes as far as to say these are traits I inherited from my mother. Me! I find such observations to vile slander against my chaotic neutral name. Be that as it may, there is something queer, and a little funny, about how in the gift shop I found the one book on African shamanism and picked up a compilation CD of reggae from all over the world.

Once the rain cleared, we made our way to the Stupa. My attempt to be holy at the whole affair is for me to make the trek barefoot. I suppose for someone who doesn't like shoes all that much, such a thing isn't such an effort. Still, it feels right to me, and both Sabina and my daughter followed suit.

My daughter was impressed by the Stupa itself, and the eighteen foot tall Buddha statue, which looks like it breathes-I am not kidding-contained therein. She marveled at the structure, and even sat lotus position with me. We left offerings that included prayer flags and mermaid tears.

Afterward, we walked the short distance to Shinto kami shrine for the sun goddess. I'm not sure why there's a Shinto shrine there, but it was very peaceful. My daughter made a cairn and I left a snake vertebrae. Such things felt appropriate.

We walked back barefoot and picnicked in the parking lot. For me, the pilgrimage was cathartic, even if part of it felt like fucking Disneyland. Having Sabina there, the very fact she suggested the whole trip, seemed to further prove she is the one for me. The fact my daughter dug the whole adventure and attempted to sit lotus position with me was just neat.

Although, my daughter, Sabina, and I agreed, such a thing only needs to be done once a year or every few years. Part of that, I'm sure, comes from the feeling of not requiring institutions. Another aspect, I think, is to go more often would just cheapen the profound experience of peace and, yes, even liberation.

Coming from a heretical bastard like me, whether or not that means anything is conjecture...

01 August 2010

One Fine Day

It wasn't too long ago I went to see my nephew get baptized Catholic. I suppose, if you're into that sort of thing-like my sister, Whitie, and his family-this is big doings. For me, it required playing dress-up and sitting in the same neo-cathedral my sister and Whitie had gotten married in, a little over a year before, whispering observations to my sister outlaw over a dog and pony show that seemed to take too fucking long just so my nephew could get doused with holy water and sacred oil, thus, supposedly, protecting him from evil and granting entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. I dealt with this for my sister, brother outlaw, and nephew. It was either the ultimate sign of respect or a royal scam, depending on how you look at it. And, indeed, there is more than one way to look at any situation.

I learned my religious tolerance when my daughter was little, based on the fact my x is Catholic and was raising my girl in that tradition. Instead of trying to discredit the Church and, Christianity in general, at every opportunity, I took it on myself to make sure my daughter knew there was more than one way to look at the Divine. From me, she's learned about everything else, from Gnostic to Hindu to Rational Humanist to Satanism. To me, it was the only sane course of action.

Of course, it's not the faith or philosophy that bothers me quite as much as the dog and pony show. Perhaps it was remembering the Pagan cat who once remarked the sooner Catholics realize they are, in fact, Pagan, both schools of theology can swap rituals. I've been to one or two Pagan Sabbaths, and, well...there's just no nice way to put it, I've wanted to claw out my eyes, or someone else's, by the end of it. But, then again, I think faith/spirituality/belief is something felt head, heart, and gut, and anything else is a stage prop. A dog and pony show. That's just me, and I'm a different breed of cat.

The baptismal after-party-it's true, apparently Catholics have these things-was a rollicking good time. We had kabobs and beer. Talked and listened to music. There was a baseball game on-another thing I'm not into-and congratulating the guest of honor, who was really too young to comprehend what had just happened, or why his head still felt a little wet. He smiled anyway, but, at just a few months old, it could have either been muscle spasms or gas.

As my father and I rode back to his bungalow together, I marveled at how much the stretch of road we were on had changed. He told me when the residential enclaves and shopping areas went in and I spoke of remembering how once, the area was all field. I mentioned how I used to think my grandmother and parents were just plain old for making such observations, but how I was now in that boat, and how my daughter will harass me about getting old.

"Of course, suffering and attachment come from the hope that things will always stay the same," I said.

"That won't happen," my father said, and he quoted the gospel of Michener, from the Book of Caravans; "'Progress creates its own dynamic.'"

Which is, of course, true words. We shared a similar viewpoint, just from different vantages. To me, it was a manifestation of all things being interconnected.

"This was a really good day, Son," my father mused. "It'd be nice if they were all like this."

It had been a good day. Good food, conversation, music, baseball, beer, and family. The summer day was warm, but not stifling hot. It didn't rain, but the cooling afternoon clouds made for an interesting cast of light.

Of course, there were imperfections; the getting up early and having to play dress-up for a dog and pony show. Those who were not there. The fact the day had to end.

"I might be wrong," I said to my father. "But I think you'd get bored if that was the case."

"No, I don't think you're wrong," he said.

I've lost track of how many times, in how many social castes I observed, some scenester talking about that back-in-the-day. You know, when the shit was real. That really good day or night when everything was oh so perfect before whatever became what it was when said scenester was bemoaning the back-in-the-day.

Of course they gloss over the little imperfections. Like lack of venues or support. They're too busy rose-tinting the memories of that one fine day to even bother to look back objectively.

I've done it too. Sometimes, when recollecting, it's fairly easy for me to push aside the imperfections of the memory, thus I work to discipline myself away from the rose-tint. Maybe I was broke and starving that time. Perhaps I was wishing some spittail I thought was cute, but was too fucking shy to even look at, would notice me. It could be I wanted to be somewhere else.

If only, if only...

The if only's, those little imperfections, will drive you mad if you let them. If only there was more time, more money, more food, more drink, more sex, more drugs, more rock and/or roll, a little warmer or cooler. Dig it, you'd find something else to bitch, piss, and moan about, instead of just grooving with the zen excellence of the moment. Besides, perfection, or the concept of such we've all been guilty of masturbating to is boring. It's the flaws and idiosyncrasies, which truly make things interesting.

My father was right; my nephew's baptism was a wonderful day, despite its imperfections. I put up with those for the moments of flawed and idiosyncratic perfection, which were what made that one fine day truly interesting. Those moments, after all, are more precious than rubies, folding paper, or glass beads.