Saturday, June 29, 2002

joni got it right...

"don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone"

nostalgia, for me, is less about the sense that the past was somehow "better" than the present and more about the realization that i have not appreciated or completely enjoyed many of my past experiences. therefore, nostalgia is an attempt to recreate the past. but attempts to recreate the past are doomed to fail. either they will not match the expectations and be disappointing, or will succeed all to well and create an idealized version of the past, which is not accurate and will only cause one to be disappointed in the present. in either case, the focus on the past will rob one of truly being in the present moment - creating a situation for future nostalgia - a vicious cycle.

one benefit of a yoga practice is that it brings you more into the present - so i hope this problem decreases for me over time.

perhaps i am too old to be disillusioned by the acts of my heroes, but imho this is arguably one of the vilest and most cynical things i've ever heard of...

prior to entwistle's death - the who tour was clearly a case of cashing in - i mean - when's the last new music they made. but hey, they've had a great career, many folks probably never seen them, they have mansion payments to make, etc...so, while i wouldn't go see them - i suppose i wouldn't gripe at them for trying to earn a few bucks - after all the great music they made, they deserve it....

but after entwistle's death to continue is, for me, sickening. they probably should have given it up after keith moon's death - think about it - what would we have missed - "you better, you bet"? THIS should have been finally (some would say mercifully) the end of the who - but to barely break stride in tour plans (2 dates cancelled) after entwistle death cheapens the bands legacy - and to be frank - i really don't buy the "john would have wanted it" argument - undoubtedly he would have - but without moon and entwistle, it is not the who - it's a couple of old guys looking for a big payday

the who meant a lot to me - please, if someone can offer a different perspective that will clear this up for me - please do - i am genuinely hurt by this.

jazz rock fusion is a much maligned musical genre. historically it has been viewed by most jazz critics as a way for jazz musicians to sell out. as for most rock critics and the general public - well, they pretty much ignore it. in a way, given that the fusion of the 70's is an ancestor of today's horrible "smooth jazz" (kenny g, boney james - geesh, even typing these names hurts...), perhaps some of the critical vehemence is understandable. however, like most things, it ain't that simple. while i agree that much of today's "fusion" is simple watered down jazz, pop instrumentals and in general, very bland - not all of it is - take larry carlton - superficially his music fits in the "smooth jazz" category - but a short listen reveal he does not share the genre's ususal lameness. as far as jazzz rock being a sell out - well, miles davis mid 70's albums - aghartha, panagea, on the corner, get up with it - are dense and musically challenging - not to mention ornette's prime time (listened to OF HUMAN FEELINGS last night -was released 20 yrs ago (prob was recorded a few yrs earlier) - and NOTHING even today tops it in terms of innovation, originality and general out-there'ed-ness). the best fusion, in my mind, does not pander to the public's taste, but indeed challenges it - bringing together textures and ideas from all parts of the musical map.

now to the topic of the post - the mahavishnu orchestra - although some may criticize the excesses of the 60's and early 70's - one thing that was cool was that there was an "anything goes" attitude musically. for example, if you were a jazz/blues guitarist and you wanted to change a name to reflect your interest in indian spiritual thinking, then form one of the loudest, most adventurous, chopped filled band this universe had ever seen to that point (and even to today) featurning a cat playing violin - and a guy on drums who sounded like he was an octopus - YOU COULD! which is, of course, what John McLaughlin did when he became Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and formed the Mahavishnu Orchestra - one of the great, great fusion bands. the band had several incarnations - no pun intended - their generally acknowledged classic is there first INNER MOUNTING FLAME - bit for my money i like VISIONS OF THE EMERALD BEYOND - with an expanded line up incl. jean luc ponty and narada michael walden before he started producing pop acts (mariah carey, if memory serves) - it's like the musical ideas are bursting out so fast that the musicians are struggling to keep things in control.

then, get this, after blowing up the musical world with the very electric mahavishnu, he forms shakti, an all acoustic collaboration with indian classical musicians - which was a predecessor to the "world music" genre - it was as if he wanted to show the world that his intensity and creativity did not come from the wattage of the amps.

mclaughlin has made scores of other great records besides all this- my goals beyond, live at the royal festival hall, the free spirits, his work with indian classical musicians in shakti - and of course his work with miles...

as i continue my slip towards becoming a completely nostalgic git - i long for the era where music was made first THEN labels were put on it - where big strong sweaty drummers pounded the drums - as opposed to the clank of a drum machine - where ANYTHING GOES

i know there is great music being made today - a lot which woefully i am unaware of. perhaps i, out of my distaste for nostalgia, repressed listening to all this great music for too long

anyhow - i have a flat - gotta go skate then get it fixed.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

oh no!

john entwistle is dead

well, i have decided to bend to peer-pressure and laziness and will undergo the long and arduous four week cycle of growing my beard back. which means i will go from this to this to this before i get back to this in time for my driver's license photo - i hope.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002


As dictators go, you're kind of pathetic! Instead of military coup or systematic persecution to get power, you just happen to be the head of the only party in the UK that isn't totally worthless! While not very impressive it is none the less effective! You can do whatever the hell you like without any chance of getting voted out of office! People know that the only alternative would have them eating their children if they ever got back into power! However, you still think that you are as loved as you were when you were first elected into power… News flash for you: You're not!

What tin-pot dictator are you? Take the "What Dictator am I?" test at PoisonedMinds.com

ok, this is better

You are the Tasmanian Devil!

You are pretty wild and have a huge appetite! However, be careful not to let your prey outsmart you.

Take the What Looney Tunes Character are You? Quiz by contessina_2000@yahoo.com!

as a rather perceptive bloke, the first thing this morning i noticed was that the - umm - communal bike which i - umm - borrowed yesterday was locked up. meaning of course, that in all likelihood, i need to add "bicycle thief" to my ever expanding resume. hey, had i realized yesterday my "errand" was actually a "joyride on a stolen vehicle" i'd have tried to have more fun doing it...

anywho, i think i have it sorted out which bikes are communal and which aren't. in retrospect it should have been obvious what i was doing yesterday as all the communal bikes look like the one margaret hamilton rode in the wizard of oz while the one i used yesterday was, despite being beat up and not peloton-worthy, a 10 speed.

low motivation levels today. have a mini-exam in the blow-off grad school course i'm taking (should be a breeze). should be an easy day at work - a mini-reception for us fellows and have to demo my project to some folks - but other than that nothing too pressing (unless i get blindsided by something), just want to sleep and hang out, but gotta get moving. my goal - make it thru the day and make it back home in time to watch 2002 Raid Gauloises on oln

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

sequitur joins the go/no go re:church discussion

see what you started halley! ;-)

the lab at which i am a faculty fellow at has old beater bikes laying around. anyone who wants to can grab one and use it to pedal to where ever they need to go on campus. how cool is that?

Monday, June 24, 2002

someone, perhaps isaac asimov, said the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we CAN imagine. click here for proof...

Sunday, June 23, 2002

why i don't go to church

i was very happy to see halley return to blogging. i was also pleasantly suprised to see that today's post stemmed from an email discussion i had with her a while back. halley attends a UCC church. i asked her via email why she attends church as i am curious. we exchanged a few emails - you can read her blog for her response.

she did a good job in her post summarizing my view - but i wanted to go into a bit more detail. a church or any spiritual community, like any community needs some kind of common ground. for a church, the common ground is "belief". in fact, i have often heard churches referred to as "communities of believers". now, specifically what the members must "believe in" is up to each church to define - for roman catholics, there is a set of beliefs. for the ucc - the beliefs are less rigidly stated perhaps, but still there is still a common ground of belief. all other religions, denominations have some set of beliefs which their members share and this forms the basis of the community. the ucc church which i attended made a point of "welcoming" people of a diverse range of beliefs. still for me, it is difficult for me to identify anything in my set of beliefs which would identify me as a christian. i do not believe that jesus rose from the dead, that he is the unique son of god, etc etc. i believe very strongly in the teachings OF christ. i do not believe in the teachings ABOUT christ. so while i believe in christ's teachings, i also believe in the buddha's teachings, the bhagavad gita, the yoga sutras, etc...i can't see any sense in which i could describe myself as "christian" - precisely what is necessary for one to be a christian is subject to debate - i am curious what folks think - but for me, i think it is necessary to somehow find christ unique among all spritiual teachers - and for me - no matter how much i love his teachings, i do not find him above any of the other spiritual masters. that being the case, i feel i do not share in the common ground of belief in which the members do, and therefore, despite being welcomed with open arms, cannot feel myself as a true member of the community - therefore all the benefits one can reap from feeling part of a community i don't think are there for me. despite what anyone would say, i would feel as an outsider. for a while, i would attend church and simply view things metaphorically - i.e. view the resurrection in a non-literal - poetic sense - but at a certain point, that stopped working for me, and as halley stated i felt hypocritical and an outsider.

who knows, i may feel differently tomorrow. if i were to attend a church, it almost certainly would be a ucc church - or possibly a unitarian one. i have attended a unitarian service and while in theory my beliefs match up with theirs - in practice i found the service a bit cold - perhaps proving my point that a common ground of belief is needed to foster true community. i would be interested in visiting a buddhist temple, but there is not one nearby. so far now, my spiritual path is solitary...

practicing the asanas pretty quickly points out your physical limitations - tight hamstrings, old injuries - knees, ankle, shoulders.
the best approach to deal with these is to practice intelligently - i.e. not ignore your limitations nor passively accept them. by intelligently practicing, taking it gradual and using props you can gradually make improvement. i might never do utthita trikonasana like bks iyengar, but with him as an ideal, i can continually improve.

unfortunately spiritual limitations are perhaps not so easy to assess. if one is brutally honest with themselves, however, one can find those as well. i have as many limitations in this area as anyone, i am discovering. in the past, my approach would be to either ignore the problem, or rationalize it away or dismiss it or feel guilty and shame about iy. even the most casual observer can see that none of these are approaches condusive to any real growth. but, i am discovering the approach is the same - intelligent practice. recognizing where you are and being realistic about it- work on what is most difficult - keeping the ideal high, but not berating yourself if you fall short. i have used this approach to make my hamstrings better; i hope it will make me a better person as well.

the biggest question, perhaps, is what happens to us after we die. i am beginning to think that this is largely an irrelevant question. first of all, it is clear no one can "prove" any answer one way or another. secondly, how would knowing the answer effect how i live my life here and now. regardless of what happens afterwards, my aim is to live a well-lived life.

irrelevant or not, the question is nagging. for me, tied into the question is the question of just what makes "me" me and "you" you. it is clear that it is not our bodies anymore than a videocassette is "the movie". the videocassette is the medium in which the movie is stored. the movie is the story, the actors, the dialouge, the visual images, the music etc... likewise our body is the "medium" of us. it is where we are stored. yet, "i" am my thoughts, my experiences, my likes and dislikes, my beliefs, etc.... i see in myself and my daughters do or say things that could only have come from my dad. in that way, he is alive. some of the things might be trivial - words or phrases, others might be more meaningful - beliefs or attitudes. for me, this is what a person is about and for me it lives after the body is gone. this might not be as tangible of an afterlife as some may want, but it is real.

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