Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blame the Hippies

Sorry gang the hippies aren't going anywhere. The issues are much more complex than the usual dribble they are boiled down to, and no one really thinks evil doesn't exist.

The reason there are hippies is because there is enlightenment, there is knowledge and there is awareness that there is more than one way to skin a cat (with apologies to PETA and my animal rights friends). Being a hippie has absolutely nothing to do with bong hits. That's a facade people put on for a while and a convenient take down of some very inconvenient truths (pun intended). At the heart of hippies is a strive for knowledge, looking high and low for things to see and learn – exploring the unknown and thinking outside of the box as well as an interest in the past and the future, exploring ancient religions, looking for philosophies, and enlightenment, and a belief that there are larger forces at play than meets the eye.

The miss-conception that love is weak and so is kindness is the downfall of mankind. Anybody can be a jerk. Look at where the revenge tit for tat has gotten the mid-east. They just keep killing each other because yesterday someone from the other side killed someone from their side. There is no end to that except through enlightenment. So it's easy to make excuses for your savage acts, and harder to turn the other cheek, and to be tolerant, and to look for avenues of agreement. But that's what hippies do. They do the hard stuff. Anybody can be a jack-booted - go along with the crowd - knee jerk reactionary - unthinking and unfeeling - that's easy. Being unmovable and arrogant, tone deaf to reason and threatened by what you don't understand – and not even exploring other modes and ways of living or looking at things, blind acceptance to the status quo or standardized modes of behavior – that’s just chicken shit. Variety is the spice of life and there is much wisdom in contemplating all points of views before reaching your individual conclusions. This has nothing to do with the fragrance of patchouli or the clothes you wear or the music you listen to but everything to do with your attitude.

The hard stuff is caring about something outside of you. Our government and people should be doing positive things and saying positive things. Yes deal with the realities on the ground - fight fire with fire but also - rebuild the inner city school systems, provide real opportunity to the have nots - if we are going to get biblical lets at least try to help the poor and keep gods creation the earth intact and they way we found it. Giving tax cuts to the uber wealthy isn’t cutting it - fostering hatred to minorities and driving wedge issues between people just to seek office isn’t cutting it - tough guy talk while not listening to your military advisors isn’t cutting it - going into Iraq under false pretenses just to try and secure the oil fields for Exxon isn’t cutting' it, but being truly concerned about the poor and afflicted - that’s the real deal - that's when we are at our best and that's when the human experience inches towards enlightenment and utopia.

The hippies aren't the problem –peace, love and understanding isn’t the problem, the problems are much too complex for scape goats and pat answers. A closed mind towards a myriad of possible solutions to the problems that plague us is not the answer either. So the progressives are on the right track. They are the ones who are not afraid to talk to Syria or Iran. Why are we not talking directly to Syria and Iran and North Korea – that’s childish. It doesn’t mean we talk to them naively. But talking directly is the only way to foster understanding. Remember the cultural exchanges of the cold war and Nixon and China. That stuff works! Yeah Nixon I said Nixon. A hippy said Nixon because hippies know that no one nation, race or person is either all good or all bad. To over simplify and not see the truth even when put forth by such a sad fixture as Nixon is not very enlightened. There's a balance that needs to be achieved to reach our global potential and the sooner we all come to some sort of understanding the better. Your mom taught you to share. The US better figure that out both with its citizens, its international partners and enemies. That doesn't mean roll over and have your lunch money taken but it also doesn't mean being a blow hard either and taking someone else’s lunch money. Hippies go by the credo of live and let live. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is much wisdom there and the path to utopia lies in those words. We can do it! Any other thought is self defeatist.

Peace Out

Thursday, November 16, 2006

John Hammond - American Masterpiece

Back to music - I had the great, great opportunity to spend time with John Hammond. Not only is he a tremendous talent, inspiring player and heartfelt singer but he works pretty damn hard on stage. His foot stomping blues picking, slide shredding, harmonica wailing is a time machine back to the authentic days of Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, Melvin Jackson and Blind Boy Fuller. Never heard of those guys? That's okay John Hammond is not the type to lord that over you. He just wants to share their music and lyrics as the legacy of knowledge and power it is and present it authentically.

Well what do I mean by authentically, note for note? Nope. More like from the heart. It doesn’t get anymore authentic than that. We are speaking true love here people, true love of his craft, of the performers that went before, and of playing.

John Hammond is a must see. I've played his music on the air before but never saw him perform. Let me tell you I will never listen to his music the same way again. His live performance enhances his recordings three hundred fold. You get an understanding, a clearer understanding of what the John Hammond experience is all about. I was fortunate enough to sit twenty feet away - right down front in a cozy listening room and just was amazed at the energy and passion he brought to bear on the audience. Touring and recording for almost 35 years you might have thought this was his first gig. Even to a small crowd he let us have all that he had to offer. I got the feeling that this is how he would have played for one person. In fact that may be the point; John Hammond loves what he does so much that he just closes his eyes and plays transporting himself and those lucky enough to be there back to (not in time) but back to the vibe (complete and intact) of the rawest of blues, piedmont or otherwise.

Versatile, informed, educated and a man who bore witness to the 60's revival of the Country Blues tradition John Hammond met, studied and experienced the originators of the blues. John is an American treasure and living history book, a re-enactor who makes the blues his own. In so doing lays his own claim to authenticity that can not be denied. On top of all that he is a wonderfully unassuming guy, a complete gentleman, soft spoken and wise. I witnessed him nurture the 21 year old opening act taking time to converse as an equal to this young man. The poor guy was obviously stunned and intimidated to be opening for John Hammond. I learned a lot from watching John and how he handled himself as the elder statesman of the blues in his own right. He spent ample time with everyone sincerely conversing about our collective passions and histories. He actively listened and that may be the key to his success, and why he can stand in the shoes so accurately of those who went before him. It is his ability to listen actively and see things from your point of view. It's a skill in short supply these days.

On that note new recordings (his back catalouge is enormous) of John's that are worth listening to and buying include: Wicked Grin where he sits down with Tom Waitts and records Tom's material by blending the blues folk style with whatever the hell you call what Tom is doing (New Orleans Wash Tub Street Jazz and Fog Horn, Mumble Grunge) (Hey I gave it a shot). Another current disc recorded with Little Charlie and the Night Cats bounces and rocks right along and I think I like it better than Wicked Grin. It is called Long as I Have You and has been living in my CD player this week. There's an album that he did with Duke Robillard called Found True Love that is on my buy list. Other favorites include Frogs for Snakes, I Can Tell and So Many Roads. He also did the Matewan Soundtrack (great movie). John Hammond is all that is right in this Country. Check his schedule and go listen to him play his blues!

Hey Kennedy Center I have another nomination for you – get with the program already!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Plan For Iraq!

Military action is only going to secure infrastructure up to a point. Getting to the root cause of the violence is the most effective way of maintaining peace and co-existence. With that in mind I pass onto you the following two links Plan for Iraq:

...and American Respect a not-for-profit organization that believes invading Iraq has increased global terrorism, is costing thousands of lives, (and literally trillions of tax dollars) and is increasing energy costs.

Their different approach to addressing Iraq and their principles for reducing terrorism are:

  • Pursue true terrorists such as al Qaeda by eliminating training camps, preventing arms smuggling, freezing financial assets and apprehending terrorist leaders.
  • Find balanced solutions in sensitive areas which foment terrorism by rebuilding international coalitions. Violence in regions like Chechnya, Kashmir and especially Palestine directly and adversely affects the entire Muslim world.
  • Decrease our profile in Iraq and use international coalitions to lead a march toward guaranteed rights, limited government and democratic representation. Further recognize that Iraq was arbitrarily assembled in 1919 from three ethnically and religiously different Ottoman provinces, and that a peaceful solution may require a return, either partly or fully, to this pre-1919 arrangement.
  • Build up the economies of Muslim countries with the goal of creating a larger middle class in each. If abject poverty is a breeding ground for terrorism, then creating broad prosperity is a key part of the solution--especially in the areas of trade and land reform. And success in the economies of any Muslim country--from Morocco to Indonesia--is positive for stability and peace throughout the region.
  • Establish a tone of goodwill in policies and actions toward these nations and their growing and increasingly global populations.
Learn More and Get Involved By Visiting The Links

Monday, November 06, 2006

Evil Liberals!

Here's the definition of Liberal below.

lib·er·al (lbr-l, lbrl) adj.
Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal tip. Not strict: a liberal translation.

Liberal is a beautiful world! A conservative is narrow minded, doesn't favor reform or new ideas adheres to a strict dogma, not tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others, not generous. I am a proud open minded, tolerant liberal who demands accountability in wasting our tax dollars in subsidies and give aways to the super rich both as individuals and as corporations. Enough already. Our tax dollars are not being optimized for the maximum profit to the broad interest of society. They should be pulled back from the bridges to nowhere and plowed into education and healthcare. Our tax dollars should ensure and promote a healthy environment and bring online clean energy solutions, and update and bring into compliance the dirty energy industry.

The National Environmental Scorecard for Tuesday's Election