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The Making of O.B.L.I.V.I.O.N.

As I am flying back from Costa Rica, (where I have been pursuing  an enigmatic dream of tropical living), listening to the provisional masters of the record, I can’t help but feel how lucky we are to have made something so good. All the work and planning, false starts, obstacles, dissatisfactions fade away upon successive listens. The album really grows on you. O.B.L.I.V.I.O.N. or, One Boy’s Life In Vertical Illusion (Opus Nexus) is the third album in the trilogy that I decided to create as a work documenting my musical ideas upon returning to the business after a long break. It is a more personal statement than its predecessors and a little context is in order. We started it at the beginning of 2015.

 

The Third International was formed as a vehicle to allow my songs to escape the self imposed incarceration I had submitted them to for the preceding decade or so. I thought I had given up, dried up, forgotten how to……..but it was there all the time, percolating , waiting to see the light of day. 

The band was initially a studio only affair populated by travelling peripatetic musicians. 

I was working a full time job as a pilot which offered me lots of free time but still placed demands that prevented a touring band existing. It gave me money to pay personnel, buy equipment, fund production and promotion costs, but did not allow for the rigorous rehearsal schedule needed to do live dates.

The studio was a dark, cramped room in my basement cryptically named Calicut after the Black Hole of Calcutta. It had thirteen walls, a low ceiling and interior surfaces of sound board with a live floor. It was wonderful, acoustically, and served us for the first two albums, two singles and a four song video compilation. It was finally abandoned this year in favor of a larger space down the road that serves as a soundstage /video lab/recording studio all in one. I was thinking of calling it “Crash ’n Burn” given the state of the music industry right now, but I figure it’s a little on the dark side, and my passengers might worry. So it’s called “The Gilting Room” given all the work that’s gone into developing these tracks.

 

 

 

                                                      The Trilogy

 

The idea is the story of my life, in abstract, with an underpinning of socio-political events that have framed it. Sort of a musical “Man of La Mancia" or Lindsay Anderson’s  “Oh Lucky Man”.  The first album, Beautiful Accident, sets the historical context. Its songs parallel the history of the 20th Century. Each song has a story which is a stand alone idea depicting an event or observation in my life but also containing a subtext of a larger historical zeitgeist.

The second record, Entre Las Americas (sp. Between the Americas) is about my emigration from Europe to America and the changes I encountered. But its historic corollary is a comparison of North and South America, and why they developed so differently given their comparable natural resources, climate and topography. It is a damning criticism of Catholicism, Socialism and the nepotism that has hamstrung our southern neighbors for centuries.

And so to O.B.L.I.V.I.O.N.  This is personal. The figure at the center is the damaged human product of a lifetime of dreaming, still confused as to why he is here, still awed yet frightened by mankind and its antics. It aims  to illuminate the the weaknesses and strengths we all have. To give some solace to those of you out there trying and failing, trying again, succeeding. continuing the quest.

“Accident” and “Americas” were crude attempts at bringing an unformed writer to the fore. Much of the material had been gleaned from a stockpile of years’ worth of efforts, revamped and shoehorned into a single type of sound. We were neophytes at digital recording. Songwriting was still, and always will be, developing. Musicians did not have the luxury of getting to know each other, feeling each other out, playing out, collaborating. There simply wasn’t time. I realized that if a quantum leap was to be made artistically this had to change. I couldn’t afford to keep session guys on salary for years. I had to find fresh, new talent with which to work on a regular continuing basis.

Fortunately the internet provides many forums to facilitate this, but still it was years of looking before I found a young Honduran music student who was studying at the New School in Manhattan who impressed me with his versatility and sense of harmony and rhythm. 

Enrique Mancia was to become a good friend and valued collaborator. We have worked together for several years now. Originally with Japanese drummer Jun Nishijima we rehearsed a set, recorded a single (Formaldehyde) and eventually went back to the drawing boards when Jun was deported for a visa expiration which has landed him in Tokyo for the foreseeable future. More trawling of the internet produced the most remarkable find. Twenty years of searching finally landed me my lifetime rhythmic companion. 

Szabolcs Szenasi had come over from Hungary some fifteen years earlier and as printer saw his industry and career dissolve. He had some solo videos on line and I couldn’t decide if I was looking at Dave Weckel or Stew Copeland or what, but I knew this guy had an very interesting take on rhythm, and had the chops to play whatever he could think of. The trick would be marrying his and my ideas. As our friends and coworkers will tell you, it’s a rocky road filled with disagreements, arguments and compromise. It requires me to write within a certain style to maximize his abilities, and this is not always easy. There are restrictions. But Szab is a generous musician who believes in my song ideas and will do whatever he can to accommodate my many demands. This is true of all of us. There is a humility that defers to the musical truth and allows for change and growth.  There has never been a musical idea of ours that was too big to change.

Like other things that have  limited me, such as the Oberheim loop unit defining song structure or the guitar synthesizer limiting playability of the instrument, Szab’s rhythmic predilections help define our unique sound. They force changes in syntax, melodies and the overall vibe of some songs. They catapult us into a rare atmosphere of creative firmament and allow me to look back on the work and smile a contented smile.

For a bit.

We didn’t know what we wanted to do. We wanted to play out, that was a given. We wanted to record an album too. We wanted to write together. Jam. We all had other demands, holding down jobs or going to school, and so time was limited. We rehearsed once a week most weeks, upping it when a gig was near. But planning was haphazard and our course uncertain. We just knew that when we played we sounded really, really good. And that made it worth it. All the numerous hassles of getting and keeping this thing together were inconsequential when we turned on and let loose. This uncharted, winding road to wherever was a trip into the magic woods. We were playing music that hadn’t been invented yet.

 

 

 

Gigs and Preparation

 

Summer 2014. A beautiful August evening in Glen Ridge, New Jersey and we brought the band out to play in our rambling back garden for a few friends, squirrels and neighbours. It was a trial run of our sound system  and monitor feed that was to prove an invaluable asset in the future. We played two sets to our people. The wine flowed and the tiki torches burned way into the night while the cicadas accompanied our riffs and the beepers harmonized. We found out we liked performing under these conditions. A lot. Gigs needed to be special. An event. Each one unique.

Our first real gig was out at the old Darress Theatre in Boonton New Jersey. An old vaudeville house that commands a view of Boonton’s  main street, the Darress was to prove a worthwhile challenge. Its capacity as a movie theatre allowed us to run our projected videos as part of the live performance. Along with JB lighting’s carefully orchestrated intelligent lights and our suspended surround sound system rig, it made for a great show. There are several YouTube videos of this performance that we think shows the sophistication of the live show very well.

A few years earlier I had been at the Beacon Theatre in NYC to see a St. Vincent/David Byrne gig. Never a super big Talking Heads fan I was really there to see the fair lady after her great offering that summer. “Surgeon” had captivated me and I wanted to see her up close.

The Beacon is notorious for bad sound. Especially in the balconies where the bass can reverberate like the sonar signature of a battleship. So I was flabbergasted at how clean everything was. There was plenty of vocal headroom. Separation was studio quality.

Adrian Harpham, the drummer on our second album was with me that night. “The drummer’s using triggers” he opined. I saw there was no back line. No monitors. Limited acoustic energy on stage to blur the mix. “This is it” I thought. This is how we do it. 

It took years to put to together the specialized instrumentation/amplification that allows us to take the studio straight on to the stage. Amplifiers were retired. In ear monitor systems acquired, drums modified with triggers and wired  to multi output drum brains to give us instant, variable, controllable drums sounds on stage without the fear of acoustic bleed into the mics. giving us an ability to mix the vocals out front and clear at any gig;  all this was elemental. Indispensible. Everything went through a full range, high end Mackie sound system that gives us the “sounds like the record” quality. The purchasing of an Allen & Heath ZED R-16 board was the icing on the cake that allows us to have individual monitor mixes and multi track record digitally, every gig. Every rehearsal. Every jam. The thunderbolt outputs go into a variety of MAC computers loaded with Pro Tools software.

Now while this has created the best performing environment possible, it limits the venues we will find acceptable. The standard club/bar inferior sound systems don’t cut it, and as for using house back lines, well that’s a non starter. So this means that playing on a bill with other bands really isn’t for us, and so a full night’s (2 hours worth) of live material was needed. Rehearsing all this has proved a challenge  but we are there. A trial gig at a bar in Bergenfield proved this, where we rolled out our own lighting/projection system and recorded the night’s show.

We learned that bars are not really the best environment for a band such as ours that demands audience attention, and in future we only plan on playing serious performance spaces. But as a test case it sufficed to demonstrate the logistical factors we were dealing with.

While all this was going on we were capturing the odd track from our ongoing rehearsals that we thought fit for consideration for the album.

 

 

 

The Studio Move

 

 

Leaving Calicut was a scary proposition. This had been my “go-to” room for twenty years. I could roll out of bed and not even get dressed if I wanted to immediately lay an idea down.

Now it’s down the road about 200 yards or so. So when I “go to work”, that’s it, I go. Out.

The refurbishing of the new building proved problematic thanks to local ordinances that precluded rock bands from populating the landscape to any serious degree. What should have taken six weeks took eight months, saw us fight a court judgment and spend a whole lot more money than we planned, but eventually in the spring of 2015 we moved house and took up residence in our new spot. This is where the bulk of OBLIVION has been recorded. It is proving a pleasant, spacious environment where we can rehearse with our backdrop videos and our own little intelligent light system. We have been shooting videos there using a multi camera setup, but as yet we have nothing mixed from these sessions.

 

 

 

                Personnel and gear

 

The desire to play live meant we needed a crew to take care of stage management and sound. 

Brian Battersby joined the band this summer and has really become a fourth member, giving us the ability to have more sophisticated live mixes and also delegate the running of the electronic

percussion section to someone other than me.

A core principle of The Third International’s music making is “If you can do it with one instrument, two is probably better”. To this end each one of us has an alter ego with whom we play. My guitar synthesizer rig (One guitar, two synths paying in unison) is looped, producing underlying patterns over which to play. Live overdubbing is elemental in the bands’s big live sound. The songs are constructed, mathematically, to allow for this. There has never been a three piece that sounds like us. The loop unit, to stay synchronized, needs a digital MIDI clock running at all times. So a drum machine was initially used to provide the signal, but this proved too inflexible and restrictive. The solution was found by using a Native Instruments Maschine studio to run rhythmic sequences, against which Szab plays. This duet is the rhythmic heart of the band. Brian is responsible for cueing the  Maschine along with mixing duties. On the bass guitar front we augment Enrique’s five string with a MOOG “Little Phatty” synthesizer. For live performances the MOOG is sampled and triggered by Szab on a Roland SPD-SX sampler.Szab plays an Oak Yamaha kit with mesh heads, DDrum triggers driving a Roland TD-30 brain. We had to go the whole hog with the TD-30 if we were to have the ability to edit and remix the drums after the recording, and if we were to be recording as master, this was a must. Some drums didn’t take to being electrified. The snare triggers didn’t work well and we reverted to using the stock Roland shells, and the kick proved to have problematic flamming, which caused us to develop our own dampener system for the front and back heads. The guitar synth is looped ad the looper synch’d by a Native Instruments Maschine studio which supplies contra rhythms for Szab to play off. Brian Battersby cues the Maschine while performing other mixing duties and overseeing production.

Enrique’s basses are mostly five string specials that run through a series of Aguirre boxes and then directly into our Allen & Heath ZED R-16 board. We chose this unit as it sufficed for live also, giving us the ability to send individual mixes to each of the players, while also having a thunderbolt out port for multi track recording.

This then, is our arsenal. We also occasionally use a second Echoplex loop unit to loop spoken word vocal background parts on such songs as Master Strange and Word.

There were four guitar synths used on the album, but only three made the final cut. Stratocaster, Telecaster and 335 types were the mainstay, and a Rickenbacker 12 string was used on Cellmate Confession which was cut at the last minute. Due to extensive rewriting and the somewhat ungainly marriage of a 9/8 verse with a 4/4 chorus I felt the song deserved a chance to develop to its full potential, and a Christmas release plan did not allow for this. Much to the chagrin of Enrique, who’s harmonic laden bass parts were some of his best playing on the record this song will definitely be out there some time next year.. An irreverent spike at L. Ron Hubbard’s gang of loons and the myth of Scientology in general, it cannot stay dark for long.

 

 

            The Songs

 

We wanted to make a pop album. The germinating ideas were proving catchy and infectious, and simple enough to stand in their own acceptable space. While the current writing had been heavily influenced by Radiohead and Thom Yorke, nobody would probably detect it. There are bits and pieces of melody, strains of ideas from sources as diverse as Nirvana, Simon & Garfunkel, Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius and Jeff Beck, none of which are readily apparent to the listener. Never having been any good at copying, their influences go through a serious grinder and come out as something different entirely.

 

HELIX:  The album’s opener is a tribute to Kurt Cobain and the rest and their wonderful  work that was “Nevermind”. It’s anthemic thrash pop like the Pretenders on acid. It’s theme is the ultimate bond that exists in all humanity. The common tendencies that bind us all together. The perversions, needs, qualities and faults that define us all. We cannot deny these things. The lines “There’s a window in the wall/Through which we see it all/Take it or leave it” in the last chorus sum it up. No matter how we try to mask our desires, our selfish needs, they play a part in our actions, and to deny that is folly. The track blazes through 3 minutes and 55 seconds like thief with a grab bag, only to crash into the wall of guitars and crash cymbals, sub bass and screams, that rain on the chorus’. The vocals are mixed back in the chorus’ intentionally to define them as an instrument in the raucous electronic orchestra that’s on the loose. It’s my favourite.

 

LAY DOWN: The song is based around Enrique’s bass progression and is about a trip several of us took one weekend when we went to the Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth. We drove through part of the night, stopping at a farmer’s hay barn in the mountains where we rested and made love until the morning. It was a time of first loves, new found freedom, mind expanding drugs, juvenile happiness. But with a realization that this was all transient. A fleeting moment that would be gone forever and we would be cast adrift from this precious haven, to forge our lives in the forbidding unknown that was the future. It’s perspective is one of a certain fatalism, which I confess I do not wholly believe in, and I am only able for me to contemplate with the benefit of hindsight. “The future watching closely over you and me”.

 

DO IT OVER: Its subject matter is the music business of today. Its venal, superficial quality, and how that actually offers artists an opportunity. By rejecting it outright, we free ourselves from its constraints. It’s about madness, or what passes for madness when nothing normal seems to make sense. 

“I think I’m losing touch now/With the reasons I am here/Maybe it’s bad luck now/To claim the big idea”. But even so, the protagonist is imprisoned by the need to just “Do It Over/Do It Over again”. Musically it is sustained by a multi track MOOG bass loop akin to a Radiohead/King of Limbs idea which flows interestingly into the 3/4 chorus line.

 

BAROGRAPH:  Is an instrument that records pressure changes. I use it as a euphemism for realizing the stress of modern life. Sometimes uncontrollable anxiety rips through me for no apparent reason and I wish I could somehow measure it as a first step in understanding and maybe controlling it. It is based on Szab’s rhythmic line that he created in the Maschine, which serves as the intro but actually plays through the song. The guitar playing is heavily Jeff Beck influenced and melodically it takes a nice key change from the sweetness of an F#maj7 verse opener to the Dmin of the chorus.

 

ANCESTOR DANCE: Was inspired by a scene from the movie of Tom Wolfe’s book “The Right Stuff”. As the aborigine is standing by his fire in the Tasmanian desert, he sees John Glenn’s space capsule in the darkness. A new star moving in a different direction. Intuitively he knows that something has changed forever. The questions of man’s progress and how challenging it is,  is asked here. Flying a lot and looking out at vistas stretching hundreds of miles, I relate heavily to this song, its perspective, its awe.

 

MASTER STRANGE: It’s a rambling old Victorian house in which I live. It has ghosts, animals, secrets. Usually, around three or four am I will wake up with musical ideas parading themselves and depriving me of sleep. I get up and wander around, occasionally confronted by one of our cats but mostly alone with the shadows. The song is about this strange character who doesn’t bear much resemblance to the daytime me. This soul is unsure about most things except truths that show themselves in the lines of lyric that flow. He is in conflict with voices from the netherworld, who are trying to lure him back into unconsciousness. He fights to shine a light on the truths that manifest themselves. Some things it seems, are only apparent in the dead of night.

 

I NEVER WOULD HAVE BROUGHT YOU FLOWERS: The love that can never be. To dream of a relationship doomed at the outset. Our protagonist rekindles an old flame, having some exotic escape in mind, only to find that the person on the other side of the conversation finds him as alien as he does her. Time has run on for us both. It is a true, simple pop song. Sweet and luscious it sits apart from the rest of the album as a counterweight to the darker melodies and techno grooves of the other songs.

 

CHEMICAL EYES: A previous version, released as a single solo project in 2012 now resurfaces as a bolder, fuller musical statement. Its message, that of questioning the benefits of socially engineering the planet’s energy supply (as a proxy for wealth redistribution,) is more relevant now than ever, given that predictions of doom continue to go unfulfilled. The reason the author is so opposed to the current zeitgeist is not that in and of itself green energy is a bad thing, only that as yet it is totally inadequate and assumes that man has a far greater effect on the planet then he actually does. It satisfies our ego. Minimizes our impotence. I feel the manic pursuit of green energy will create poverty which in turn will create overpopulation and pollution; two things which are destroying the planet faster than burning fossil fuels. In other words, we take our eyes off the ball for political expediency supported by bad science.

 

LIAR: She was the most beautiful woman in the room. In the world. And she knew it. Another doomed relationship story that explores how and why people lie. We all do it. Some are just better qualified than others. Chemical Eyes and Liar take the album to a different place, sonically, with the introduction of acoustic rhythm guitars on heavier grooves.

 

WORD: A thumb at the nose of hip hop, where specious materialism goes unchallenged and masquerades as real. The lies of religious politicians: 

“First there was the Book

And then there was the truth

And then there was the word”, 

information sources

“It must be so

‘Cos Google says it is so”, 

disinformation in general. The truth is, we only have ourselves to blame, and it is our collective mental laziness, our refusal to question everything because we “don’t have the time/don’t feel like it/everybody else seems to be OK with it/why bother? etc etc” that allows these manipulative airs to breathe.

 

FORMALDEHYDE: Sometimes you just get lucky. You hit on something unique. You have no idea where it came from but out it pops. If nobody seems to get it that’s OK because you know that financial success has never been a valid determination of artistic worth. So maybe you internalize things. But all the same, there is this desire to have a legacy, to

“Leave something behind”

forever preserved like an embryo in a jar, for some future generation to gawk at. Maybe even be inspired by. It’s a personal song where the author riles against the conformities society demands, disdains its lack of imagination but accepts its inexorable route to the sea

“It just keeps on goin’

Like a river it is flowin’

To the sea and never knowin'

Atrophy or is it growin’

Does it show you where to hide?

Formaldehyde”

even though there may be no answers provided by this effort at trying to communicate.

So even though there may be some ostensible plan to this all, it really is the random escape of artistic impulses.

 

 

The album ebbs and flows, rises and falls with each section. Some songs sequed, others standing alone in the collection, creating depth to this sonic painting. We hope you like it and get to appreciate it in its totality, as a story in and of itself.

 

AP

December 2015

 

Hebdo

Has to be said. The world over the silence within Islam is deafening. Barbarism is to be ignored. We are to live in fear. The latest bunch of violent, islam drenched loonies to hit the press is the new group in Yemen, purported to be "more moderate" (NY Times quote). They do however portray (in blood drenched letters) Death to America, Death to Israel and Kill the Jews. Now just how is this more moderate than anything I ask myself? I believe they deserve the respect all humans do, which is take them at their word. Freedom of speech is one thing. A direct threat to your safety is another. There should be an international coalition to take over the place and install a government capable of eradicating, by whatever means necessary this cancer of humanity.

Phew...the year in all its gory/Get on with the music , off with the hype.

This was supposed to be the year of communicating!! My bad. The last few months have been the preparation for /recovery from THE GIG. For those of you not present it was at the Darress Theatre in Boonton New Jersey, and as we speak, videos are getting published for everyone to see. But that's bye the bye. More on that another time. It has been a wonderful journey with Szabolcs and Enrique suffice to say. Here's what just got my back up:

I just got through reading a self serving pseudo intellectual treatise called "Radiohead and Philosophy". Now many of you know I am a big fan of their music, Thom Yorke in particular. But the tired old corporate=BAD, individual=GOOD mantra that Marx wore out a century ago is getting new legs with these guys. (Newsflash Radioheaders: corporations are made up of INDIVIDUALS.) I get that they are flatly rejecting the industry of music (they had no choice, it died) and that their new found wealth feels uncomfortable, but what really gets me going is the carbon credit bandwagon they decided to hitch a ride on. Now my feelings about the pseudo science that has given rise to the vilification  of all things industrious under the moniker "man made global warming" is well known, and was the basis of the song Chemical Eyes. Radiohead, failing to do due diligence to my mind in this matter, hired consultants, computed a carbon footprint of  a touring schedule, and reworked their modus operandum to reduce said metric. This is all well and good. Noble, maybe (almost certainly) futile, but above all, A TOTAL FUCKING HYPOCRISY! Really Radiohead, if you want to replace your carbon footprint with something you feel comfortable with: Stay in Oxford, DO NOT TOUR, Play only acoustic instruments, and only at places no larger than the local pub (that way the fans' carbon footprint won't be of concern).

Best of luck with the house payments.

Perspective

Perspective. The subjectivity of view. I don't know what is dealing me this question at this level right now. Is it reading Richard Hell's autobiography? ( a very uncanny landscape of my growing up years in NYC), or an encounter with a very intelligent, highly functioning autistic economist/ drummer in a bar here in Edmonton, Canada, that makes me humble to the infinite space that we confront? I just don't know. All it makes me want to resolve (It's January 1st BTW), is that all we can do is plunge. Headlong in to the future. No judgment. No foul. Just go for it.

hello, 2014 

New York...a lifetime ago

Coming here from London back in 1973 was one of the most beautiful experiences I can remember. Electric. Cosmopolitan. Energetic. There was groundbreaking going on in the arts. The old world was meeting the new, head on. Just look at the acts in the ads we found. Some would go on to be superbands. Others, never heard of north of 23rd street. Some were icons of decades past and others brand, dirty new. I just read a few chapters of an autobiography of a musician heavily involved with the East Village scene at that time and it brought it all home.  The crazy thing is, I was walking in the village the other day and it felt the same as it did back then! A little cleaner maybe, but still the same wash of humanity that knows no boundaries. Where you can't feel out of place, no matter how weird you are. Home.

Syria

I will say this once. No good can come of a U.S. involvement in the atrocities precipitated by their government's reaction to "Arab Spring". The movement is shaping up to be a consummate failure, leaving power vacuums to be filled by military dictators as in Egypt. But perhaps that was the expectation all along. The Arab culture of the Middle East has produced no lasting middle class, no developed sense of civics, and displays an undue need to hold on to tribal ties at the expense of a respect for property values and the rule of law. Hence, dictators exist. The proletariat was excited into removing some, and this is one of many violent reactions to this move. The cycle will repeat ad nauseum until fundamental behavior changes, and this will take putting Islam back in a manageable box. It will be a cold day in hell before that happens and so I say, Mr.Obama: If you believe we should die for the replacement of one fanatic by another, and jeopardize our homeland in the process by fuelling terrorist ideals with our meddling, then you be the first one on the front line to catch the first bullet.

It will make a great photo op. no?

Fiscal Cliff revisited

Memo to self......and to you Barry

We're still here!

They're at it again

So the "scientists" are now 95% sure man is causing the global warming we are enduring at present. (Are they less sure their research funds come because of, and not due to, their findings, I ask myself?) The interesting thing about the presentation on TV the other day was that the "expert" was demonstrating  an effect of a geological time scale on a chart that showed 40 years! (With no values on the x axis) Not to mention that any anomalies that would upset this carefully constructed conclusion were deftly omitted. And so we would all bow in the face of talking heads and hand over our tax dollars to those better qualified to spend it for us on bogus projects that have shown no value.

No.

I am not ignorant.

I question the very self appointed position of expertise the scammers claim.

Now I realize this is viewed by many as simply denial-in-the-face-of-overwhelming-evidence, but the fact is the only thing about the evidence quoted is the promotional blitz with which it is offered. There are many varying views on global warming causes, but the administration and all those who benefit from research into the effects of man made global warming would have us believe there is only one. Theirs.

Wrong.

There are serious flaws in the data being used at present; the most glaring being the attempt to shoehorn a century's worth of data into a timescale of millennia. When it doesn't fit, or when data points are shown to be falsified (Norwich University scandal, UK), they are conveniently suppressed and forgotten.

This is simply another example of the masses refusing to engage in critical thinking, satisfying themselves with what is most palatable. Do so at your own risk.

Met LIfe Arena

Ever wondered why all the sports arenas in this country are now owned by insurance companies? It's because they are the only form of business that has enough money to blow on this egotistical self promotion. And why is that you may ask? For one, we are lead to believe that we are naked and bare, our collective ass hanging over the great divide, if we do NOT buy insurance, and so are junkies to the cause. Second, Obamacare mandates that we buy health insurance now, so if we weren't on the drip before, we are now. And third, and most damning about our system, is that when the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1896 was put in place to specifically prevent monopolies in interstate commerce, it very deliberately omitted insurance companies from the roster of included businesses. So today,  117 years later, we have monopolies soaking us to death. We pay more per capita for normal, everyday health care than any other developed nation. So much for "FREE" markets eh? So when our republican representatives champion free enterprise, I say "LIARS!" The fact that neither party has attempted to take on the massive lobbying efforts of the insurance world just goes to show what whores we have elected in Washington, on both sides of the aisle.

WE need a sea change. Now.

If we're all so similar, why am I so different?

It goes to the core of our troubles. Political, religious, social...you name it. We like to think that we can comfortably call ourselves "part of the great sea of humanity" but in reality we are all scared to death of being singled out, left behind, shunned and generally made fools of for being different. That's why we crave conformity. I don't mean that's why we want everyone to be the same. Just the same as us.

It's why we argue a point; to try to get the other person to agree with us, not just to see our view. It's why we preach gospels; not to enlighten but to substantiate our own beliefs. It's sad. It's lonely.

So wake up world! We're all different. We're all alone. And we belong together. It's OK.

They sold their souls to the devil

Only it was called God.

This entry is about the Republican Party in the US of A. The representatives of corporate greed, big business interests so we are told by CNN), Right to Lifers, Guns, and most of all GOD. They are the party that claims the direct line and has HIS ear. Frankly, that's what scares most people off them I think. We are all (I hope) wise enough to realize that a politician is a politician is a politician, and so will bow to interests that coin him/her votes. (For those of you that don't believe this, our populist saint Obama outspent his opponent in the last election. HE was the one coining in more $ for his promotional campaign). There are nominal differences of opinion, in different places and people, regarding our views on when life starts and whether having a firearm is a wise choice, but these are the differences that make a society, and they are not going away. But one thing centrists like myself and a huge majority of Americans cannot, and will not embrace, is the idea that a politician has divine authority. We leave that the cooks in Iran.

And so it is that the Republican Party dooms itself with the lead weight of divine mandate around its neck. Most of the younger readers of this blog will only ever associate the two (God & Republicans), but a little political history is in order here, because true republicans (like myself) do not condone this association. This party has been hijacked by religious freaks, and I want it back!

In the days of its creation (when the republicans were actually known as Democrats) the likes of Alexander Hamilton championed the freeing of slaves, egalitarianism and had no time for a church infested congress. Meanwhile so called "liberals" like Jefferson were screwing their slaves and embracing the bloodthirstiness of the French Revolution, which was chalking up 30 decapitations a day thanks to Madame Guillotine. As recently as 1940, the republicans were the party still least compromised by the church. But then came a shot at getting FDR out of office by grabbing the Southern Democrat vote for their candidate, Wendell Wilkie, a fiscal conservative aware of the failings of the "New Deal" and the man who could try to get America out of debt without going to war. The only problem was, the Southern Democrats were bible totin' zealots.

And so the deal with the devil was made. The G.O.P. became the part of god. They got the Southern Democrats to back their boy. And they still lost. It was a stupid mistake, politically, because it lost more than it gained. It alienated moderates for the benefit of acquiring a smaller number of "God-on-our-side" voters.

They remain this way today and unless there is a break from the mould, a thinker outside the box, a TRUE Republican who believes in the freedoms of mankind, the limits of government, and most of all, the right to choose one's destiny and accept responsibility for it, they are doomed. Doomed by the voters. Doomed to have idiot representatives. Doomed to extinction.

I am a True Republican, and I don't believe in God.

Information overload

Something of which we are all too familiar. Anybody ever read David Foster Wallace's "Oblivion"?  A truly great writer. Almost autistic with his penchant for detail. He only wrote a couple of books (the aforementioned, The Broom of the System, and his opus, Infinite Jest) before he topped himself. No doubt overwhelmed by the plethora of bullshit, misinformation, euphemisms and metaphors-relayed-as-fact that pervade our tiny lives.

So why do I bring this up? Because it goes to the very core of why all my music, lyric, entertainment/whatever is out there. Because in order to survive we must disseminate, look beyond, make an effort to figure out.........WHAT is behind what's being peddled. To be overwhelmed by the fact that there is SO many lies is to accept defeat.

Truly, you or I most probably won't make a difference. But someone like us, trying the same thing,....will.

So my point is that we owe it to each other, to ourselves, to posterity, to keep asking the questions without expecting a canned answer.

 

It's OK.   We are just passengers after all.

On Ayn Rand

I just got through watching Part 2 of the movie Atlas Shrugged (there will be a Part 3 if this one is not a complete financial flop). Not a great movie by any means. But very interesting nonetheless. Interesting because it is SO not Hollywood! Needless to say its content has put it on the Maher-bashing list of all the pseudo intellectuals in  the sunshine state.. The producers unfortunately decided to take Rand's opus novel and do a literal representation, staying very close to the plot and scenes. Written in the 50s it is obviously now dated, and truth be told, Rand was never a great storyteller anyway. She had her moments (e.g. The sex scene in The Fountainhead) but as a general rule she was mediocre in prose.

But not in thought. Arguably the greatest philosopher of the modern age she has been castigated as "Pop Nietzsche", vilified by socialists everywhere and condemned to hell by every religion that's got one! Rand was a product of her environment, as are we all. She watched as the Bolsheviks dispossessed her father's little pharmacy shop (three times I think),  expropriated it "for the public good" and shut it down, producing no gain except that of a one time, short term theft for the government business police. It marked her for life and when she literally escaped to America she never looked back, as she appreciated the opportunities and freedoms that exist here. She realized that they only exist by virtue of the respect for property rights, the belief that the individual has the capacity to prosper and flourish if inspired by opportunity and then left alone to succeed or fail by their own hand, and that altruism is a failed ideology that only serves to empower the giver and weaken the taker. She had open disdain for government intervention in people's lives, manipulation of their psyche by religious institutions, and mental indolence in general.

In this day and age of entitlement, extraneous government programs and taxpayer sponsored dole it is well worth revisiting her writing, or if you have never read her, start with The Fountainhead before tackling the 1069 pages of Atlas Shrugged. If you have a canned predisposition against the views of hers that I have outlined here, I urge you in particular to read her work, as her logic will provide some very interesting challenges.

Caudillos, and the history of our times

We just put up the video of "Caudillo" on the site the other day. It posted on Youtube today. The reason for the blog post is that I consider the lyrical content of the song to be important, and maybe it requires a little explaining.

Entre Las Americas was the album on which Caudillo first appeared last year (2012). It is a comparison of how, and why North America and South America evolved so differently. Given that they were both invaded by advanced forces at the same time, and given that South America had, arguably, more mineral and agricultural wealth, the differing results have been startling.

Caudillos, as any student of political history knows, are the dictators that have become so prevalent in Central and South America. They have, to a man, been ruthless and bloody. Some propelled by socialism, some by imperialism, all by totalitarianism. Most by good intentions. The proletariat has been the loser.

I see a cycle that has been unbroken in the sub continent's history. Centralized power leads to corruption. This leads to a populist rebellion. This leads to extreme socialism which bankrupts the society, opening the door for marshall law and a military dictatorship. This creates centralized power once more. The cycle repeats.

The big question is: Why did this not happen in North America? What was different?

My belief is that the secularism that accompanied the North American settlers empowered the individual to a point where he/she was not going to give the Catholic Church, or the appointed political leader bowing to the Catholic Church, (or any other religious body for that matter) enough leeway to become an absolute force. I believe it is all traceable back to this view on where religion belongs in a society. I believe we have living proof of this today.

I give you this poem.

Songs of the Doomed

This is wonderful. We didn't meet Apocalypto in that "End of Days" thing the Mayans got all wrong. We approached the "fiscal cliff", teetered  a little and then swooned at the quick dodge Washington pulled that allowed for more procrastination while we run up our debts some more, and we can keep sipping martinis and ponder the f**king trade while the treasury goes up in smoke, having burned down from a fire caused by overheated money presses.

When I listen to the idiots quoting John Maynard Keynes' lunacy of wage earners paying taxes to allow the government to create jobs for wage earners to pay taxes to allow.... (you get it) I can't help channeling Hunter at this grim time. I hear a faint voice from somewhere beyond Woody Creek "Today's pig is tomorrow's bacon" it says. And I realize we'll be OK.

Fiscal Cliff....Bring it on!

I am tired of the media dweebs and their doom and gloom scenario. It's as if they JUST  DON'T HAVE ANY NEWS. NO massacres. No new wars. Life must be so boring at CNN. These armageddons seem to come with amazing regularity. Let's not forget the end of the world as we know it, aka the crash of '08. What was that? I'll tell you: It was one big poker game, banks vs. taxpayers. We folded. Thw white house chose to "fix" the problem by printing money to the tune of more than 200% more than what was in circulation. Inflation hasn't hit yet, but when it does, watch out. And now we have this. The result. 

Not so very long ago our representatives, quite wisely, and in a bipartisan manner, realized that this uncontrolled spending would bankrupt the lives of our children, consigning them to a life of indentured servitude paying off the debt we are currently running up. (Note to children: that means much fewer opportunities, pay rates that don't buy you what you want, and no prospect in your lifetime of it getting better). So they said "On January 1st, 2013, it stops! We balance the budget." (Of course at the time these self serving white haired old geezers thought 1/1/13 was far enough in the future it could be ignored). So now it's time, and The White House isn't budging. Curious, because the people who will suffer the most are their long time supporters (Government employees, welfare cases, unemployed, workers of government sponsored industries (solar etc), the "liberal" imtelligentsia.) I would have expected Obama to have realized this was HIS fiscal cliff. The one which HE will fall over into the abyss of long lost useless politicians. But apparently not. Perhaps the hot air balloon he calls a head will allow him to float safely into the sunset. Unfortunately I think his ego is in the way of his negotiating sense, having just won a free pass for four more very dreary, non growth years.

I do not mean to point fingers at certain members of society, (really?) but let's face it: we can't support a government this size. We just don't have the money. I don't mean just Washington but all forms of government, right down to local, right into the police stations and schools, are too big. Sorry. (And no, the sacred cow of "more education=better standard of living has no correlation. On an individual basis perhaps, as a society absolutely not. e.g. Switzerland. Reference: Anitfragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb). So teachers: Off the high horse please. Police? Let's legalize marijuhana and then we can cut the force by 20% and not bat an eyelid. Sorry cops, I know it's a soft touch busting that super dangerous couch potato armed with a joint and a bag of Doretos, but we can't afford you. And if you have been unemployed, in the USA fo 200 goddammned weeks and you still can't find a job, it's because you don't want one that pays little more than you are taking from me, the taxpayer, with no effort. Sorry, time to go to work. As Alexander Hamilton said "Work cleanses the soul" So get off your ass. WE need to care for our planet and nothing pollutes as bad as poverty. Look at the slums in Mexico City, Rio, Mumbai and you will immediately see it. So as much as clean energy is very desirable, and definitely an ultimate goal, sponsoring technology that does not work (i.e. has to be supported and is not cost efficient) is counter productive, as the market forces will eventually subsume the effort and all the money spent on sponsoring the failed businesses' development wasted. We cannot afford to waste it. We don't have it to waste. Your children do not.

Now it's not a free pass for the working stiff. I will get hammered with an extra $10000 in new taxes (means I have to make an extra $15000 just to be where I am now) and that will be noticed. I will have to work harder. I will have to do without. This is a tough problem brought about by years of weakness on the part of politicians and the people, of living beyond our means, of not being responsible and caring for our future and our planet. But it is time to do it now, and major spending cuts are part of the solution.

Global Warming

This is due as the video of Chemical Eyes is imminent, and maybe a little explanation is in order. For starters, Nobel laureate and general all-around-good-guy Al Gore is an idiot. A dangerous idiot who portrays pseudo science as fact, ignoring any contrary historical data that would undermine his social engineering policy. It is my view, given the evidence at hand, that global warming is caused by fluctuations in sun temperature and is out of our control. Unmassaged historical data supports this. Correlations with Martian atmospheric data supports this. You may have a different opinion, but all I ask is that you look into it, taking information and not propaganda as source material, and make your own decision. The reason this is so important, and the reason Chemical Eyes was written, is that the agenda of the Al Gore's of this world is that of a social engineering construct, designed to redistribute wealth under the guise of saving the planet. Meanwhile, other terrible atrocities (decimation of our rain forests, over fishing of oceans, over populating the planet) continue unabated because they are not as an effective political tool. So Gore et. al. Are guilty not only of dissipating efforts to make real ecological progress but also of dissipating man's creative engine and industry by attempting to artificially impose restrictions on these efforts. It goes to the whole core of Bolshevism and should be held up for what it is: A mean spirited, negative, regressive path, destined to fail at a great cost to us all.

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