Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wayne Shorter: "Aung Sang Su Kyi"


Why? Just because someone mentioned her on Facebook so I dug this out and it kicked my ass. If you're not familiar with Wayne Shorter, you may think that the odd, shy tone he achieves on the soprano is just some odd accident, but when you see him bend and twist those notes you might just realize that this is very near to the vanguard of what human beings are capable of, artistically.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Advice for slobs

Here at the Magic Lantern we do sometimes give out valuable advice, and this is one I've been meaning to write for a long time. If you are a regular reader and not a slob, you will probably have no interest in the veritable gold mine of valuable advice for slobs below. But if you ARE a slob, here is some expert advice.

The first thing to realize is that being a slob has a downside, which one might seek to mitigate: Being a slob is a lot of work. What? Are you crazy? I'm a slob precisely because I'm lazy! Au contrare, dear slob.

Consider your sink full of dishes: That represents a whole lot of extra work you're going to have to do. No it doesn't! Yes it does. Remember that, for any cup, bowl, spoon or fork you use, even most slobs will feel the need to use something clean. I haven't yet met the slob that will simply pull yesterday's dirty dish out of the sink and use it for today's food. That means that you are probably going to have to wash everything in that sink eventually. The work won't simply go away unless you die, but I'll respond to that possibility later.

Given that you WILL eventually have to wash everything in that sink, then why put those dishes there? They should be placed directly in the dishwasher so that you eliminate the unnecessary labor of placing the dish in the sink, pulling it out, and then placing it into the dishwasher. In other words, you are an imperfect slob, a veritable slave to daily chores, even if you thought you weren't. You're no slob at all!

There are, of course, two options. The first option is to just continue to remove the clean dishes out of the dishwasher whenever you need one. In special cases that can work: If you own fewer dishes than fill up a sink at any one time, then I'd like to back out my hasty comment above, accusing you of not being a slob at all. You are indeed a brave slob and I salute you.

HOWEVER, if you have more dishes than can be contained in a sink at any one time, then when the dishwasher completes its cycle and the dishes are clean, in order to reduce the amount of your labors then take those dishes out and put 'em on the shelves. After that, start loading the dishes directly into the dishwasher, thereby saving the hassle of digging them out of the sink, which can get quite gnarly.

But I don't have a place to put all those clean dishes, that's why this happens in the first place. Ah, that's an easy problem to solve, but the question is whether you are a brave and true slob or just a pretend wannabe slob. You're gonna have to man-up and have some slobby balls if you want to really be a slob. So here's the solution: Next time you do a load in the dishwasher, unload a subset of the dishes you are most like to use. Get some cups, plates, forks, spoons, etc... and put those away. Now take the dishes that don't have a place to go and throw them in the fuckin' garbage. Yeah, that's right. Take perfectly good dishes and throw them away. Look, are you a slob or a pussy? Get in there and throw those dishes out, because they are holding you back my friend: They are what's keeping you from transforming into a real slob. They're holding you back and you don't need them in your life anymore. Fuckit. (Yeah, if there's a significant other around that will give you unending shit about throwing away dishes, then put all those dishes into a garbage bag and stuff it into a closet somewhere. You can still regard yourself as something of a slob, albeit a lesser slob. That's OK.)

So now that you've gotten rid of those "overflow" dishes, from now on just load your dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher and close it tight, to keep the roaches from finding all those dirty dishes.

Of course, this pathway, or Tao of Slobdom, now places you into a category you will have to learn to deal with. And it's a challenge, don't get me wrong. But when people come over and see your "discipline" in loading dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher, they won't perceive you as a slob anymore. You're now a stealth slob. A ninja slob. This will give you certain advantages, as you will learn.

For instance, you will now have some nice emotional leverage with which to pry your significant other into taking on tasks that any self-respecting slob avoids at all costs, such as cleaning the toilet or mopping the floor. YOU did the dishes, so if they want chore X done well they can now do it themselves. See how this works? You are now a veritable king of your slobdom castle, in a hidden fortress that no one even knows exists!

There are, of course, plenty of other slob shortcuts, and now that your mind is free to understand the possibilities I'll leave it to you to sort them out. But here's one or two. Spilled a beer after a long day of work? Feel free to whip off your shirt and use it to sop up that beer. Now throw that shirt directly in the washing machine. No, don't bother starting the washing machine, let it wait for the other dirty clothes that will join it eventually (or if you really want hit the rinse button and then walk away).

As for the argument that putting the clean dishes away may cheat you into working more (ie, because you could put those dishes away and then God forbid right after that have a heart attack), I'd say that the amount of work you save via the method above will certainly be many times greater than the savings due to NOT doing the dishes right before you die. On the other hand, we could die tomorrow so you're just going to have to chance it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Keith Haring handball wall

Up in East Harlem. That's an original, by the way, probably worrh millions if someone pulled it out of there amd sold it to some museum. It's double-sided, too, though the other side can't really be photographed from a moving vehicle.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bio-bricks...

...at PS1. Apparently they are made from some weird mix of biodegradeable materials and bacteria or something...
Here it is inside. It was reasonably cool, even though it was kinda hot outside.

Expand and read this descriptive plaque...it's kinda interesting...

Monday, July 07, 2014

Tinariwen

Every album of theirs kicks ass, as far as I'm concerned, and this new one is no exception.

ascads

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Moon over fireworks on the lake in the woods



It's very hard to describe the feeling of standing on a small beach of a minor pond deep in the New Hampshire woods while watching a fairly substantial fireworks display: So obscure and so out-of the-way (even in New Hampshire) and yet no one I'm sure had thoughts of being anywhere else. This was the simple and jouful reality that we shared, even as we could not see the others around the lake.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Counselor

Just saw it on cable. On a certain level it's actually a good movie, and cram-packed full of Hollywood royalty all acting their assess off: Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law...oh wait, not Jude Law but his ascendent clone Michael Fassbinder, not to mention Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. And directed by Ridley Scott. But it emanates from a deep, dark place, full of sociopaths and economic systems and "realities" that turn people into sociopaths and reward psychopathy. And if you didn't know, the screenplay was written by Cormac McCarthy, so every single word lands like a ton of bricks, tracing out a terrifying world that hides behind our own, just waiting to pop out and eat your soul and, eventually, poop it out into the gutter. (But, on second thought, the screenplay makes use of the horrors occurring in Juarez and makes a solid point that that world of horrors is hear and is very real.)

In other words, people hated it because it's just too fuckin' dark. You almost can't take it if you're paying attention.

And of course, hidden in there, is Cormac McCarthy's almost apocalyptic vision. Cameron Diaz utters words at the end that sound like some prophetess of darkness. Is McCarthy religious? I can't help but think he is, but it's hard to tell whether he sees any light at the end of the tunnel or whether his "religion" has any bright points.

Whew. See it if you dare. It is, of course, unbelievable that something so odd and heavy was actually made in the popular realm.


Meanwhile, later in the year McCarthy apparently has a new book coming out later in the year called "The Passenger", and the main character is apparently a woman, which would be a first for McCarthy. (Also later this year, new books by Murakami and William Gibson.)


(Later)
Woke up a couple of times thinking about it. Seems to me it's also an allegory of sorts, for the USA. Michael Fassbinder is doing OK as a lawyer, but yet he's greedy and participates in a drug deal (ie, a BIG deal with a fake tanker truck, etc...), but for one little reason goes bad. And then he is now in a different future that really sucks for him and for Penelope Cruz, his fiance. But Fassbinder is a sort of allegory for possibly Bush II's Iraq war (which McCarthy seems to be suggesting was basically about cheaper oil). But the consequences will continue to be dire and (McCarthy seems to be saying), inevitable.

Dunno. Whether the above paragraph is true or not, any even somewhat careful listening to anything McCarthy writes will have your head swimming around like that.

And on second thought, don't see it. It's just too fucking dark, what with Penelope Cruz's body ending up in a garbage dump and all. I don't remember even the darkest of art-house movies coming close to this, when the full import of it finally kicks you in the crotch.

(Even later)
It's still creeping me out. Another recurring theme in The Counselor is technology-as-mediator-and-filter of human feelings. As you might have heard, in one salacious scene (perhaps the only salacious scene) Cameron Diaz has sex with Javier Bardem's car. But Bardem is in the front seat looking up through the windshield. His description of the event makes you believe that he truly wants to forget it.

Likewise, there are cell phones and videos and even a couple of headchopping devices. McCarthy seems to be saying that all of these gadgets are eating away at our humanity and, in the process, turning us into sociopaths, or at least manufacturing them amongst us at a high rate.

Monday, June 23, 2014

DMT STIX, Part 5

So looking out over the smashed-in conference room door, which was now largely in pieces and strewn across the conference room table, I could clearly see him: Christian, the only guy I ever fired. He was  moving towards the conference room with an anxious-yet-curious look on his face. Could he see me?

Perhaps at this juncture a little background is in order. I fired Christian because he did nothing, ever. I've never seen anything like it. I gave him one major project, and he had a few minor projects from the other folks on my team, but he never did anything. Initially, when my own colleagues asked me what Christian did, I'd respond with his job description: Oh, Christian is responsible for delivering projects that have a tech component. But after a while, when it was clear he was never doing that or anything else, I'd simply answer: I don't know. And when his colleagues (ie, the other people on my team) began asking me what Christian did, and when I'd have to reply I don't know, well that's when I knew I had to get rid of him. And around that time, he even stopped answering email. I didn't mind having a guy who didn't do a lot, but I really didn't have the slots to afford having someone who did literally nothing. And Christian did nothing. So I had to fire him so that's what I did. And with HR I escorted him from the building. So what was he doing here?

He stopped at the door to the conference room and looked at the splattered blood and chunks of wheely. His eyes narrowed. He was clearly figuring things out, but at no time did his eyes fix on me. I'm pretty certain he couldn't see me, high as I was on the DMT STIX. I even tentatively waved my arm, but his eyes didn't even flicker: He wasn't even pretending not to see me.

After a minute of appraisal, he looked up from the grizzly scene and around the conference room, and into the empty air. I think he was looking to see if he could catch of glimpse of whomever was responsible for destroying wheely. But he couldn't. I saw him turn quickly on his heel and stalk away through the cubes. It occurred to me to follow him, so that's what I did.

He made his way over to the freight elevator so I got in with him and saw him push the button for the 50th floor. The 50th floor, being the top floor, is special in that there are no cubes or offices there, only conference rooms. I saw Christian turn a corner and open a door to "CONFERENCE ROOM E" which I don't remember having been in before.

Slipping in behind him I was dumbfounded: This wasn't a conference room at all, but very obviously an apartment. His apartment. There was a couch, a giant screen TV and even a little kitchenette. I could even see a large bathroom to the side. Based on my knowledge of the layout of the 50th floor, I figured that Christian's bathroom was carved out of the larger men's bathroom space for that floor., which explained why that bathroom was much smaller than on other floors. And of course, he had a great view, looking out over Manhattan and the bridges (ie, the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Manhattan Bridges). In the corner was a computer, surrounded by a bunch of smaller screens, all showing what was clearly the video feed from security cameras.

Looking at those security screens I noticed something: There was one screen that didn't cycle through different images, but instead was fixed on a single image, a cubicle. And that cubicle looked...Goddamit. It was my cube. Christian had a security cam fixed on me and my cube and he'd been keeping tabs on me since I supposedly walked him out of the building. All the times I was just surfing the internet or picking my nose or scratching my own ass, and this lazy son-of-a-bitch was just watching me? He probably knew when I entered or left the building.

As I stood there Christian came over and stood looking at the security feed screens also. For a moment we overlapped, but I was already used to it so I kept just thinking about the implications. Had he been using this setup to fuck me over somehow? Maybe that explained my crummy rating last year, even though we practically solved the banking equivalent of world hunger. As I stood there I got angrier and angrier, while Christian's motions grew almost frantic. Bending over at the computer I saw him pull up a security cam console, and then I saw him start searching the cams for video from the 49th floor. He was clearly trying to find out who killed wheely, and how.

And then, inevitably, he found an image of someone running around a corner: Of course, this was me, but the image was blurry and distant.

I panicked. Well, it wasn't exactly panic but I definitely didn't want Christian to know, if he didn't already, that it was me who killed wheely. So, still flying quite high on the DMT STIX (in my mind I reasoned that it had only been about 10 minutes since I ate them and then had wheely torn to shreds), I summoned my own creature who simply pounded through Christian's door, right at that instant. Unlike wheely, my creature smashed through Christian's door as if it were made of balsa wood.

Christian's head snapped away from the screens as my vast and terrifying creature came at him, or so it appeared. Christian slinked towards the wall, which was fine, as whirly bypassed him and went straight to those video feeds and, whirling up to supersonic speeds, smashed all the screens and the computer as well into tiny fragments, almost a powder. As Christian darted for the door, whirly  ran straight at him, and in a blur wrapped its octopus-like tentacles around him and then squoze him close, like a businessman holding a briefcase under his arm in the rain. I heard Christian cry out in terror: Whaaa! Ahhhh! as I had my creature take him to the freight elevator.

Somehow, I knew that the creature would fling Christian out the back of the building into a garbage dumpster, which should be a clear enough message that he was never to return. And since he was on the other side of security (this time, really outside the building as opposed to just some illusion he generated), I figure he probably couldn't get back in again. Well, not unless he found another source of DMT STIX and chose to brave the anger of Whirly. Furthermore, Christian knew his apartment was ruined and, as far as I could tell, had no idea of who was responsible.

And now, of course, there are actions to take and decisions to be made. In terms of cleaning up that Godawful mess, I don't know what Christian would have done, because certainly wheely has stomped plenty of Christian's enemies to death, and yet we never detected even the slightest hint. Perhaps Christian and wheely had the facilities people so terrified that they automatically covered up anything untoward that might have happened. Come to think of it, in the banking world people dissappear without warning all the time, and only sometimes is there some kind of announcement explaining why. In general, people are never seen again. Who knows? Maybe many of them died and their bodies smuggled out in pizza boxes, having been stomped flat by wheely. This reasoning led me to believe that, come the next business day, there'd be little to no sign of something inexplicable having occurred.

Of course, this still left open questions: Where did the DMT STIX come from? And was the one package in the vending machine on my floor an accident, or was it planted by unknown agencies? (Perhaps Christian wore out his welcome yet again?) Who knows. I for one, however, didn't plan on living up on 50, but then again having a nice chill out room could be fun. Maybe I could have a hot tub brought in or something, and possibly coax some of the chics from marketing into my lair? Who knows. I have no definite plans at this point, however, but will lay low for a while to see if anything or anybody comes crawling out of the wood work to try to find out who's the DMT STIX "boss" now.


Friday, June 20, 2014

High heeled shoes

Thrown over the electrical cable, 'hood style, in Williamsburg ladt night.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

DMT STIX, Part 4

So I was on my back, pressed up against the wall, looking up at 8-fold wheely, who was up on the table with the shattered door behind him. Somewhere deep down inside, I seemed to realize that the real door, out there in the real world, was shattered, indicating that wheely was somehow real.

But it didn't matter long, as the DMT STIX kicked in. I saw wheely kind of roll/jump off the end of the table and then the giant, expanding grey circle that was the bottom of his elephant-foot with which he intended to start his stomp-fest....

And then it was gone. Actually, wheely wasn't gone, but I was gone. I saw and even felt wheely's giant foot slam down in the space where my body was, theoretically, but I wasn't there. At least, I wasn't there in corporeal form. The DMT STIX had rendered me theoretical, in a way, and impervious to wheely's eight stomping feet. Indeed, I saw wheely jump up and down, frustrated at the lack of stompable contact with my body.

I stood up, looking at wheely and that one giant eye on the hub: Wow. He was rolling and stomping where my body should be. I almost felt sorry for him, because he was clearly carrying out orders.

But now that I knew he was there, and now that he knew I worked in that building, I couldn't have him around anymore. Totally tripping on the DMT STIX I summoned a creature from my imagination, and let me tell you I've got quite an imagination as you must know, as a reader of this blog. Since wheely was pretty clearly a toughass, I didn't want there to be any contest so I imagined a creature with titanium skin, and just smart enough to know what I wanted, but not so dumb that it would interpret my instructions literally, like bargain-making Satan in those old comic books ("You said you wanted me to make you a cake so I made YOU into a CAKE, and now your soul is mine...ha ha ha ha ha ha...."). So I made a creature with a sort of hemispheric top, and that looked a bit like an octopus walking around, but that could twirl those eight arms at subsonic speed, annhilating anything in its' path that was threatening to me.

And over and between the cubes it came, even frightening to me: A mottled-gray, badass-looking creature maybe nine feet tall, looking the kick the living crap out of wheely. Somehow, in a way I didn't bother imagining, the creature came and, as it approached the conference room, starting whirring around at unimaginable speed, those eight arms slicing the air and making a low moan in the air from their very speed. It came, not super fast, but pretty steadily, and then I saw it whirr into wheely like a buz saw, chopping him into tiny blender-sized bits. There were chunks of wheely and blood spattering everywhere.

When the whirring slowed my new creature turned around and left and I was still there in the conference room, wondering how this would all get cleaned up, or would the police get called? Somehow, I couldn't imagine the latter option occurring.

But then I heard a sound and turned to look out the shattered door at the darkened cubicles. And there he was: It was him, of all people, making his way between the cubes and towards me in the now Manson-esque conference room.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

MUSIC!

It always seems to happen in waves: A veritable season of music. If you're smart and plan on being in New York in September, do quickly act on the following...

1. King Crimson
Crimson is currently rehearsing and they will be playing live here in the US in September. Interestingly, there will be 7 (count 'em!) players, including three drums and even a reed player, Mel Collins, who played with Crimson back in the 70s. In mid-later September they will play NYC and, this Friday, tickets will go on sale for a newly-announced 4th performance on Sunday September 21st, at the Best Buy Theater. This is the one rock band that people like Elvin Jones go to see: Trust me, on a reasonably good night there is really nothing like this.

2. Steve Reich and Phillip Glass TOGETHER at BAM
I just found out about this today and bought tickets for two adjacent nights. For the Nonesuch Records Birthday celebration, Steve Reich and Phillip Glass will be playing some of their pieces with their individual ensembles as well as together. That will be a unique experience, worth traveling to NYC for. Don't fuck around: Go.

3. Joe Henry
Joe Henry's got a new record out, which I shall buy. Go see him play, because he is a really unique American songwriter and performer. Here's a little video for one of the new songs:

Sunday, June 08, 2014

DMT STIX, Part 3

As I ran I cannot emphasize just how freaked out I was at seeing that wheel-creature (with 8 elephantine spoke/legs) while I was no longer under the obvious influence of the DMT STIX. As it exited from the freight elevator vestibule, I clearly saw a bigass eye in the hub that, for some reason, didn't rotate with the rest of the creature, but was clearly fixed on me. And for whatever reason, I didn't get the feeling it was wanting a hug or whatever. Somehow I knew it was pretty pissed off at me, for some reason (possibly relating to my bogarting of the STIX) and was out to completely stomp the shit outta me if it could.

What occurred to me was that I should be able to get off the 49th floor by making it out of the bathroom/pantry area into which the door from the vending machines opened, and then make it over to the "real" non-freight elevators. . Of course, the creature didn't have hands that I could see, so if I was lucky wheely wouldn't be able to make it onto the floor proper so I should be able to skeedaddle. On the other hand, that didn't seem to stop it from getting to my floor somehow.

So I therefore ran as fast as I could while holding onto my stack of DMT STIX and, as I approached the glass double doors to the real elevators I saw wheely turn the far corner and start coming at me, fast. Even though I might have been able to get that glass door open I didn't even try because for all I know wheely could just bash through the glass and then stomp me flat while I waited for the elevator to come. So I turned and ran and, fortunately, I was smart enough to assume that although wheely would be impossible to outrun in straight lines, perhaps weaving in and out of the rows of darkened, empty cubes I might have a chance.

So that's what I did: I ran straight down and, as wheely was gaining on me I took a quick left and then another quick left, in effect doubling back. Looking over my shoulder I saw a blur as wheely overshot, so I made a B-line straight for the big conference room where I entered and slammed the door shut, tossing the DMT STIX to the side.

Now at this point you'd figure I'd have dropped the DMT STIX while the wheel was chasing me, but nope: I stubbornly held onto them. For some reason I had it in my head that wheely was mad it me for taking them. Quite possibly, if I just tossed them wheely might be less interested in me, but possibly not. Maybe it had nothing to do with this bizarre creature quite clearly interested in either killing me, or stomping me hard enough where it was hard to tell I wasn't actually dead. But I didn't care: I wasn't giving up the STIX just because this...thing...somehow though I shouldn't have them. No.

I then wasted no time moving the bigass conference table over to the door which doesn't, after all, lock. As I pulled and flailed (that big table must weigh several hundred pounds), I both heard and felt a shudder as wheely slammed into the door from the outside. At this point I was starting to seriously freak out as the door 1) opens in, and 2) has one of those bigass, easy-to-open aluminum handles that wheely would probably somehow hit.

Looking through the glass pane lining the door I could see the wheel creature outside and on this side of it the hub sported a big mouth. Something about that mouth creeped me out because it looked a lot like an extremely large human mouth. I think I would have been less freaked out if it had a more obviously animal mouth with absurdly large teeth like terrifying creatures in movies always have. But the mouth looked human and, as it started kicking the door the mouth was starting to make vaguely elephantine noises of rage and frustration. In fact, between that and it hammering the door, it was really making quite a fuss: Where the hell was building security or at least a member of the cleaning crew or something? I looked around to see if anyone else on the floor was visible, but somehow I knew already that there wasn't.

As wheely kicked harder and harder I could see that it was going to eventually kick the door in at the frame and, shortly thereafter, hop up and over the table and then stomp and stomp and stomp me almost literally flat. I was out of options.

Or was I?

Fuck it: I ran around the table and scooped up the DMT STIX. I then ripped one open and stuffed the sticks into my mouth and chewed as fast as I could while opening a second package, and eventually a third. If I had somehow summoned wheely by eating the DMT STIX maybe I could summon something else to take on wheely. Or at least, I'd be so off into the astral plane that I'd never even notice that wheely was kicking the livin' beJesus out of me.

As I stuffed stick after stick into my mouth something went off in me: Rage. I can't explain what I was thinking, but I knew I didn't want to go down cowering and arcing my arms over my head as those feet came down and kicked at me.

So I jumped up on the table and pounded on the window next to the door: LOOK, WHEELY! I'M EATING THEM! FUCK YOU WHEELY: LOOK! The wheel pivoted quickly, aiming its' eye-side at me. I pushed my face up to the door and stuffed another stick in my mouth and chewed it open-mouthed so that wheely could see. And immediately, I could see a new wave of rage wash over that eye but I still just yelled defiantly: THAT'S RIGHT! I'M EATING ALL OF THEM AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT! FUCK YOU WHEELY, FUCK YOU!

It slammed even harder into the door and, as the door cracked off the frame it slammed onto me and sent me sprawling off the table, so I backup into a corner to await my fate.

The door splintered and there was wheely, looking almost confused as it stood outside, assessing the situation. After a moment, it hopped up onto the table and looked down at me.

And that's when the DMT STIX kicked in with a vengeance.

Friday, June 06, 2014

DMT STIX, Part 2

The next day at work I was still feeling odd. Perhaps I was still tripping slightly, but what was more likely is that my perceptions of my workplace had been significantly altered by whatever active ingredient was in the DMT STIX: No matter how many people or how much busy-ness there might be, I don't think I'll ever forget the empty silence I experienced that night, or the thought that the elephant-footed living 'wheel' might be whirling away between rows of empty cubes.

And where the hell did those DMT STIX come from? Did they come from whoever restocked the snack machine? That seemed possible, though unlikely: Even though a snack-machine restocker probably didn't make enough to give a shit about losing his or her job, they also probably didn't have a lot in the way of choices, employment-wise, either.

Was it the snack machine company? Of course, I wasn't talking about the company that made the snack machines, but the company that had the contract to keep them stocked up with plenty of stuff with which to infuse our bloodstreams with whatever might be necessary at any time of day. Was it the company? Could be, I guess. It could also be the snack-maker or, far more likely, someone working for the snack makers who thought that, perhaps, the rare designer drug-infused snack might actually attract a following. This also seemed unlikely because, in the wrong bloodstream, a very serious freakout could occur. On the other hand, perhaps someone working at the snack-maker wanted precisely this to happen, and so invented their own little psychedelic snack. A disgruntled employee? Who knows. In any event there was really no telling from where inside the distribution chain the DMT STIX originated.

And what about the wheel creature? Was that related? Probably not: It was just a hallucinatory byproduct of the DMT STIX, I hoped. Then again, it was late and the freight elevator stopped on my floor: Who or what hit the button, and why didn't they get on the elevator?

In any event I figured the DMT STIX wouldn't last long, so after most people had left I started searching the other floors' snack machines to snag whatever DMT STIX might be available. Taking the freight elevator to the adjacent floors, however, yielded no DMT STIX, nor any other unusual snacks. After I struck out on a third nearby floor I decided to search more systematically and took the elevator down to the fifth floor (the first "regular" floor with a vending machine area on it), and started working my way up.

By the time I got to the 40th floor it was, once again, pretty late, and the prospect of finding more psychedelic candy bars was seeming remote indeed. It must have been just a one-off prank and whoever did it didn't want to cause a big systematic fuss. Nevertheless, I decided to check all the way up to the 50th floor just in case.

When I got to the 49th floor I noticed that the snack vestibule was much more elongated than the others, and that the vending machines were well away from the elevator, facing the wall. This meant "losing" my freight elevator while I checked, but I was committed and heard the door close as I walked to the remote and forlorn-looking machines.

And there it was: On the bottom row. There was at least one DMT STIX and, perhaps one or two more behind it. Since I came equipped with pockets-full of change (in case the machine wasn't accepting bills), I pumped endless quarters, dimes and nickles into it and got a full 5 DMT STIX! I felt like an old western miner who just discovered a vein of gold deep in a California cave or something: I just stood there looking at the stack of psychedelic snacks between my hands. Of course, just in case there was somebody else in the building who knew what these were, I'd keep a low profile and take the freight elevator back, so I went to hit the button.

DING. The elevator rang right before my finger made contact, indicating that the elevator had already arrived. As the door opened I didn't wait to see who or what was inside: I just ran to the cardswipe and let myself onto the 49th floor.

KACHUNK. The door kachunked behind me so I took a look through the window to see the elevator door open, just like the night before. I waited a second, just for the heck of it, because of course no wheel-creature was getting out.

But right then the wheel creature did indeed come out of the elevator, rotating wheel-like on those stompy elephant feet! FUCK! I was staring right at it as it came out and turned towards the door!

I ran.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

DMT STIX, Part 1



Holy shit.
I just experienced something I can’t tell anyone I know, but thank God for this blog where I can speak to you countless millions of readers. And of course, this could simply be a sort of fictional tale as far as you know.
But here is what happened.
Last week I was working slightly later than usual: It was around 6:00PM and I knew I still had some work to finish before I could go home. By 6:00PM our floor is usually pretty empty and that night was no exception: The gray-carpeted silence was deafening. Sometimes I imagine a serial killer running loose on the floor and it would be strangely quiet as he hunted the few of us remaining after hours down: Face down in a pool of my own blood, with my life draining away, I’d hear no police sirens and indeed nothing at all, except possibly for the sound of the killer playing Tetris on my machine. Probably, my body wouldn’t even be discovered until the next day, and the early-arrivals would try hard to ignore my body as they got down to work.
But since I was hungry and knew it’d be a while before I could leave,  I walked over to the snack machine area to hit up the machines. Now the snack machines are in a little vestibule where the two freight elevators are. If you enter the area to try to coax a snack out of the machine, you have to swipe your ID badge to get back in. This matters, for reasons you’ll see in a bit.
So I walked over to the snack machine and noticed it had recently been filled up. Looking to see if there were any Rice Crispy squares, I noticed a really odd-looking snack I’d never seen before: The package featured a bright, multi-colored psychedelic-looking design that looked vaguely like metallic stained glass and that almost camouflaged the snack’s name, which appeared to be DMT STIX.
What?
Feeding the machine a buck and a quarter the snack dropped down and I waited for my 15 cents in change to drop down, which of course it didn’t so I punished the machine with a swift, hard kick to where its genitals would be, if it had any. I then bent over and pushed in that black metal theft-blocking shelf to grab my snack.
Walking back to my cube I held the package and tried to see whether it really said DMT STIX. This wasn’t easy because the letters themselves were made out of intersecting geometric lines and dazzly colors that looked a lot like the background. But from what I could tell it certainly appeared to say DMT STIX. Of course, this DMT probably has nothing to do with the famous hallucinogenic drug, but with the crazy packaging I was wondering whether this wasn’t some sort of gag on the part of the candy company that made it. Kind of a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to those in the know from your good friends in candyland.
Opening the package I half-expected it to look like the packaging, with multi-color zig-zaggy lines. But instead, inside where two crude-looking chocolate logs. And by crude-looking I don’t mean poured-chocolate-like. Rather, it almost looked like someone had fashioned the two chocolate logs by hand. Weird.
Before biting into one I sniffed the chocolate for any traces of odd smell or staleness. There was only a faint smell of chocolate. Also, I flipped one of the logs over to look for traces of old chocolate: You know, old chocolate that has turned kind of whitish and dusty. Well, there were no signs of age either.
So I bit: The DMT Stick consisted of a milk chocolate coating with a sort of dense brownie-like material inside. Did I detect a hint of bitterness for a brief instant? In any event not bad: Sweet enough to stave off any low blood-sugar shakes but not so sweet that it sickened you. Not great, mind you: This won’t replace my go-to snacks, but in a pinch it’ll do quite nicely.
Anyway, after eating the DMT STIX I got back to work and, pretty soon, things started to feel strange. At first I thought it was just auto-suggestion: I figured that eating a trippy-looking little snack on an otherwise empty floor of a corporate skyscraper was causing a minor flashback or something. But the strangeness intensified to the point where I knew this was chemically-induced: Holy shit these DMT STIX appear to have actual DMT in them!
Pretty soon I couldn’t even look at my computer anymore: The text and images were rapidly becoming incomprehensible. Oh, if I focused very carefully I could still recite what words a document consisted of, but the words seemed so abstract that I’d get lost and forget just what I was reading about in the first place. Was I worried? Well, a tiny bit I guess: I didn’t like the idea of having a simple snack spiked with what appeared to be a fast-acting hallucinogen. But on the other hand, the package did clearly say “DMT Sticks”, so maybe “spiked” wasn’t the right word. This was some sort of snack with a designer drug inside.
Eventually I stood up and looked around. All the other cubes and offices seemed to be empty, and there was that oppressive, padded silence of the empty office floor. Outside it was already fairly dark. So I started to walk around…of course, the only ‘destination’ on the floor was the bathroom, which I went to and then peed. Looking down into the urinal my pee-arc seemed to sparkle iridescently. My pee is magic…I muttered to myself and then chuckled. After that I found myself in the snack machine area, looking to see how many other DMT STIX packages were still in the machine, but there wasn’t any: In the space where the DMT STIX were was now just the empty vending-helix responsible for pushing snacks forward into the little snack-chasm behind the black shelf. In other words, I had purchased the only package of DMT STIX and was now tripping reasonably fiercely. Kinda too bad, because I would have grabbed the rest and stocked up.
But, standing there staring at the vending machine, I felt a veritable electric shock as the freight elevator DINGed behind me, indicating that the elevator had arrived and that the door was about to open. My heart jumped into my throat: I really didn’t want to bump into anyone while I was tripping like this. The wrong rat could get you drug-tested and, possibly, fired. And what would be my defense? I purchased a hallucinogenic snack out of the vending machine that wasn’t there anymore?
So I walked quickly to swipe my card and reenter the floor where whomever was riding in the elevator probably couldn’t go. As I moved I saw the elevator door start to open and I happened to be at the right angle to see through the still-narrow slit for a second. And what I saw or, what I thought I saw scared the crap out of me so I swiped and ran back onto the floor and pushed the door shut behind me.
Looking through the window of the door to the vestibule I could see the open door of the elevator, but nothing was getting out. From the angle I could no longer see into the elevator either, to confirm or, hopefully, deny what I had seen. After a minute the door closed and the elevator appeared to be going up.
So: What did I see? What I thought I saw was, well, nuts. I know it must have been some sort of very believable hallucination brought on by the DMT STIX. But if I had to describe what I “saw”, or what I imagined I saw, it was a sort of 8-spoked living wheel with no rim. It seemed almost stitched together from elephant pieces or something, as the eight “spokes” looked a lot like elephant feet, and indeed the “wheel” was elephant-gray, with patchy hair. And it had been standing there, upright, in the elevator, on one or two of those smallish elephant feet. At the hub of the wheel there was…something…perhaps a bigass mouth or a giant eye. I dunno. It was something pretty damned horrific and I didn’t want to have a clear picture of it in my mind.
After I saw the elevator door close I stumbled back to my cube and quickly gathered up my stuff and left. I didn’t bother shutting down my computer, as it had already gone into screensaver mode.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The desert saint

In the deepest desert the sufi saint grants you his most munificent blessing:

May you have cloudy days and may the rain soak you, at least once a day.

Friday, May 23, 2014

McDonald's new mascot

Apparently, this isn't a joke. McDonald's has a new mascot and here it is:

Wow, huh? Terrifying.
How could this happen? You know: Some McDonald bigshot thought Ronald was getting a little outdated, so he barked orders to his marketeers: We need a new Mascot!

After the marketers did their studies and "workshops", they probably came up with some sort of zany purple imaginary kritter which the bigshot didn't like. Many months and several million dollars later, the marketers were out of ideas so, the night before one more mascot meeting, one of the bleary-eyed and feckless marketers grabbed a computer graphics guy and they stuck some arms and legs onto one of the happy meals. Without teeth that big gaping hole probably looked weird, so they added the (terrifying) teeth (which "indicate good dental health", said the marketer). Eyebrows? Yeah, use the golden arches.

Just prior to the meeting with the big boss, the marketers were desparate and so decided to pretend to be totally stoked and behind the idea, which they basically battered and badgered the old exec into accepting: Our tests show children and our key demographics responding strongly to the image! They said (not pointing out that the "strong response" was one of confusion, loathing, and terror). No matter: They'll quietly introduce the new mascot and equally quietly phase it out so carefully that all memory of it will be gone.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MIA

Yeah, I admit it: The main melody in this MIA song has been driving me crazy and I'm not ashamed. It's kickin' my ass. My only regret is that there wasn't more to it all. On the other hand, if you know you've got a good lick, why mix it up with a lot of other stuff?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bruce Lee was the Beatles of the 1970s


Well, musically speaking maybe Bowie was the 70s Beatles.
But the point is that, on rare occasions since the arrival of "mass media", an 'entertainer' delivers exactly what is wanted and/or needed by the public by virtue of being who they are, without much in the way of artifice.
This is different from some artists who are just almost unaware or unconcerned with public opinion. Rather, in the case of the Beatles and Bowie and Bruce Lee, they happened to be able to deliver what the public wanted while really needing to deliver it, too. This is a rare and unusual thing.

Look at Bruce Lee's flying kick: I'm looking for hints or artifice and showmanship and, while some of his movements (say of his fists and arms) may have jazzed-up the look of his flying kick, I don't get the feeling of fake-ness either. He's delivering a flying kick that happens to look super cool, but it's also the flying kick that he was born to give...YOU.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Error 404 Page Not Found"

Thursday, May 15, 2014

6th Street


6th Street, in Manhattan, has always played a strange role in my life, and this last lil' tiny performance is no different.
Back on the night-before-Thanksgiving in 1980 me and a few 'heads from my HS up on 15th street dropped some dopey blotter and hiked on down to Indian Restaurant row on 6th (between 1st and 2nd avenue) and ate at Kismoth while coming up. One of the guys brought a little boombox and played 801 Live, with Eno and Cale and Nico and others. As for me it was my first acid trip, and as the hanging cheapass tapestries started to buckle and sway, things got pretty damned strange.

Perhaps half a decade later I took the girl who would become my wife in another year or two over to eat Indian food. Since she'd grown up in China she had never had it before, and on this night what they served up was pretty fuckin' bland. I told her that Indian food could be pretty good, and some months later convinced her to try it again, which she did. But this time I ordered it spicy and it was so spicy you couldn't taste it. On a third trip I got them to make it "in between" and, then, it was just right and we've been eating Indian food ever since.

Of course, last Sunday we performed at a community center between B and C, and this story you already know.

HOWEVER, this last Monday (or was it tuesday), I found out that Walter de Maria (who passed away last year) had a bigass home/studio on 6th between 1st and A, and that it's up for sale for a mere $25 million:

Now if that looks like a former Con Ed substation or something, you are correct.
Long time readers of this blog might remember that, a few years back, I stumbled upon de Maria's Broken Kilometer piece over on West Broadway which, unbeknownst to me, had been there since the late 1970s! This was a space and a piece I had passed many dozens if not hundreds of times over the years without having any clue it was there. Discovering and seeing the piece felt like looking directly at one's own blind spot.

Of course, all of these events over the course of my life are 'coincidental'. If one feels like life is trying to tell one something through a repeated motif, you are likely wrong. BUT, if life IS actually intelligent in some weird way, then the message it is trying to send is not a message to one's conscious mind, but to the sub/UN-conscience. In other words, stop trying to think about what it actually means and, instead, sit back and enjoy the ride because the part of you that needs to understand it already does.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A photo from the performance


Here we are entering the small venue: We eventually formed a big circle around the audience and it was cool for both them and for us. And it says a lot that, even though many of us were beginners, we delivered actual MUSIC, as humble as it may have been.

(Later.)
Over the last two days we play-ers have been discussing this little performance from an angle I would suspect does not automatically occur to many of those participating in a public performance. Issues relating to the impact (or lack thereof) of photography and videography, the wonders of pulling off a group commitment and goal towards which we have been working many months, and a number of other issues are all being discussed in email.

YOU, oh reader, may say: "Well, of course you'd discuss such things because you are a performer!" But I'm not! I'm not really a performer any more than you, the reader, are. So what would YOU discuss if you performed pieces live in front of a small audience? What would you notice and what would you bring back with you into the realm of the mundane, so to speak?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The end of the beginning!


OK. Not long ago the New York Guitar Circle pulled off a brief performance down on East 6th street. I was a member of the circle. There was an audience of perhaps 50 people, crammed into a small hot room. It was a temporary community and a really nice little thing. Special.

Leading up to the performance I found myself strangely un-nervous. Given my previous public speaking at Fiber Optic Conferences, along with brief bouts of teaching here and there, I guess I've learned to be mostly immune to worrying about doing stuff in front of an audience.

And yet, it is still a strange experience to make music in front of an audience, and in particular an audience that is actually paying attention. It's easy to tune out and just focus on your own little part, but what's the point of that? The music doesn't happen unless we're engaged with each other and listening/interacting. And I would say that's what I did: That's what most of us did.

More than anything I am kind of relieved that it's all over. Of course, knowing a performance was coming was an incredible motivator for learning the pieces and increasing our playing skills. But it's nice to have it behind me.

But now...what next? I think most of us want to keep going, particularly after a break.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Lumpen Capital (Dangerous Minds)

Here's a piece I wrote a few days ago for Dangerous Minds, responding to Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the 21st Century. As usual, it's pretty incendiary but, ultimately, makes its point.

What I'm really wondering is whether people will start to notice just how much CARBON is being emitted as a result of all that lumpen/useless capital. In other words, are we seriously fucking up our planet just to put more useless capital into the hands of those that will ONLY accumulate more capital with it? That would be truly insane.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Alphabet City

Back in the 1970s and 1980s you just didn't go east of 1st avenue down in the East Village. It was simply too dangerous. And by "dangerous" I don't mean you' get beat up or mugged (though these things could happen of course). Chances were as good as any in human history that you could wind up dead.

Indeed: Back in HS (on 15th and 1st avenue) a friend of mine came over with wild eyes: You'll never believe what I saw yesterday! He told the story of being down on Avenue B and 6th street and suddenly a guy came running up the street. My friend heard the squeal of tires and then a police car came around the corner. The guy turned, pulled out a gun and starting firing shots into the police car. The police car accelerated and ran the guy over, killing him.

Another big thing back in the day were the many battles the city an NYPD had with organized groups of squatters that refused to leave abandoned buildings, though most famous of which was the Thomkins Square Park riot:


In other words, it was a whole dangerous world back there that you avoided unless you were quite familiar with it.

So imagine my surprise yesterday, going WAY east on 6th street to our practice space between B and C. Yeah, there were a few black people around, and hispanic families too, but also tons of jogging white Aryan hipster types, most of whom didn't really look or feel like New Yorkers. In terms of stores and whatnot, things were clearly in that odd state of flux New York neighborhoods go through during gentrification: Lots of nice new hip-looking and interesting places to eat and bars, interspersed with bodegas, streetfront churches and community places. Indeed, the rehearsal space (and eventual performance space) is one of these, that painted former synagogue on the left:


Here's the Mexican joint I had lunch in:

Yeah: Tables outdoors and everything. Young, hip beautiful people laughing and eating. There was actually a young hipster black dude just to the right of this photo, but I forgot to include him.

Now another artifact from the bad ole days are the countless community gardens that sprung up on the empty lots of where abandoned buildings had been, and many of these were still around. One of them is kinda famous in the area:




And this is another garden, on 6th. Look carefully and you'll notice that two ladies are having tea up in that weird tree-house:
Over on avenue C I saw one of the special ex-squatter buildings that I just found out had eventually been converted into legal housing for its occupants. I didn't know any such buildings made it into the new gentrification era, but apparently approximately 4 did.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ah, the chanteuse!

Damn. I keep falling in love (temporarily) with every brilliant chanteuse that crosses my sonic path.
It's not entirely my fault: With Najma, Sam Phillips, Lori Carson and, now, Thao Nguyen, I hear what they are doing and the artistic and intellectual brilliance they bring to bear to their music-making and it just makes me go koo-koo for cocopuffs. And of course, being female only amplifies my feelings: It takes a special kind of courage to be female, for godsake, and yet still reveal all of the brilliance and creativity that would repel so many potential suitors who are not as brilliant or talented or visionary. And then, of course, I know that those wonderful chanteuses probably don't give a shit if a potential male partner is more or less brilliant than them: They just want someone interesting and even slightly together to love. I'm that guy! I don't give a shit about my woman being smarter or more creative or brilliant than me! Ah, but I have this hyper-critical ball-and-chain who can't see that it is beauty itself that I love, not power, not being the biggest, baddest dog around.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Uh...OK.

If you don't know who that tall guy is, well I can't explain this to you. And if you do know who that tall guy is I still can't explain this to you.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What me and Kol used to do as kids

Back in the day, as a kid Mr Kol used to live in the El Dorado, a very famous building on central Park West. In fact, you've almost certainly seen the building before, poking up above the trees in Central Park:
 
Anyway, Kol lived in a giant sprawling apartment on the 4th floor and, one day, made a life-size dummy out of felt, scraps of old clothes, and stuffed (I think) with newsprint. One day, we were bored and decided to throw the dummy out the window, in an apparent suicide.

After the first couple of throws, we decided to kick it up a notch, and we'd wait until a pedestrian was nearby. When they were within earshot, we'd positively screech: "I'M GONNA JUMP! I SWEAR I'M GONNA JUMP!" and then we'd fling the life-sized dummy out the window.

We got some pretty strong reactions. Usually the innocent walking down the street would jump, sometimes throwing their hands to their head. We, of course, would quickly duck back in, sacrificing the additional potential satisfaction in favor of not getting into excruciating amounts of trouble.

Eventually, the doormen figured out what was going on and told us to chill out. Now that I'm older, I find it amusing how many times we were able to do this without them saying anything and playing dumb. Of course, after enough throws plausible deniability disappears so they were eventually forced to say something.

Hey: Here's the street view:

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