a brief FYI…

now playing: tom petty, “straight into darkness”

next time you see one of those spiffy ads that dubya is flooding the airwaves with, blasting kerry for “no” votes on defense, think about this….

from a washington post article that you can find here:

Since Congress approved an $87 billion defense request last year, the administration has steadfastly maintained that military forces in Iraq will be sufficiently funded until early next year. President Bush’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 included no money for Iraqi operations, and his budget director, Joshua B. Bolten, said no request would come until January at the earliest.

or, for clarity’s sake, no more money for my unnecessary war until after the election.

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short circuits

 

 

now playing: michael hedges (old vh-1 footage), “all along the watchtower”

 

somehow, this weekend has brought about a considerable amount of reflection as to what it is, exactly, that motivates me to do what i do, as a musician…and, dare i even fucking say, an artist…

i was sitting at denny’s earlier tonight, listening to the songs that were piped in over the speakers, a tune from the second jars of clay album came on…wendy said something about the song being about jesus – i immediately thought back to the amazing show i was at in nashville some years back, when they played at the ryman auditorium with a string section…honestly, it was one of those transcendent concerts where everything else falls away and nothing else exists but the circuit between the listener and the band. i remember the singer, at some point between songs, saying something to the effect of – “on nights like tonight, it’s easy to absorb all this – all this stuff going on around you – and start to think that you’re a bigger part of this than you are….” the gist of what he was saying, i thought, was that there was a secondary circuit between himself and where the music actually comes from.

and i was sitting there, staring at my plate…listening to this song, and thinking to myself that perhaps that circuit is a little weak for me right now.

i mean, i still play regularly, i’m gigging all the time, i’m still in the thick of this…as far as being active as a musician is concerned…so outwardly, all probably looks just fine.

i’m still pickin’…

lately, though, these little unrelated things keep happening – drunks walking up to me after shows and telling me that i should be doing my own stuff, for instance. there was a guy last night who spent most of the second half of the night playing drunken air guitar…he was wearing a kansas t-shirt and a lynyrd skynyrd baseball hat…your typical northern berks barfly, really…but he comes up to me at the end of the show and starts this self-righteous rant about how i should be doing my own songs, how people would really dig me doing my songs….

now, keep in mind this guy doesn’t know me from adam, nor i him…but it started to get under my skin after a while…in fact, i was actually starting to go pretty hard on him after a while. i so much as told him that he “didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about”. i asked him if he’d ever even played in front of people before, and he admitted he hadn’t, and i told him to spend a decade or two playing in front of people, slaving over your own songs, recording them and sending them out into the world to be largely rejected, and then he could come back to the village and tell me what the fuck i should be playing….almost verbatim…

earlier this week, angela – the woman in HR whos’ become one of a small circle of friends that i would have such a conversation with – told me that she was listening to my CD on the way to work, and asked what i was doing here (in the way that one does when they’re asserting that you should be doing something else). i gave her the short answer, with all the usual talking points – whereas, in jon cusack fashion, i pointed out “at least one and possibly all four of the following pieces of information”: the kind of music i do isn’t in vogue anymore, i don’t really have the ambition to maintain the kind of onslaught one has to maintain in order to hack through the underbrush, so to speak…i enjoy playing the role of sideman more than being the focal point, blah blah fuckin’ blah….

and the truth is, all of this is true. every bit of it.

then today, i had work to do at joe cala’s house (joe is the vp of sales at work, and one of angela’s superiors), and got the same question – the whole “what are you doing here” trip again…and i repeated the same schpiel again….

so tonight, i’m listening to jars of clay, and thinking about all the shit that we do to try and fill our various spiritual holes…with food, with sex, with material posessions, with guitars, with money, with whatever a given person might latch onto to try and satisfy whatever it is that they think they want out of their life…and remembering that there are two circuits at work in this exchange of energy that exists when this channel opens up – one between the performer and the audience, and the one that’s often overlooked – between the performer and the source of inspiration.

whether anyone chooses to acknowledge it or not, it doesn’t begin with them – as much as ego or vanity or whatever internal reasoning process might lead them to that conclusion, the good stuff comes from somewhere else – and in order to get to the really good stuff, that circuit has to be open.

i don’t know that this circuit is working well for me lately. in fact, i think i’ve all but shut it off completely in some ways.

i’m not entirely sure how this came to pass, but i think i have some ideas…but it’s after midnight, and i have to rejoin the ranks of the uninspired tomorrow to earn my living doing something totally unrelated to creativity…

the scary part is that getting up and going to work feels more natural than sitting down with a guitar for me lately…

….i gotta figure out what that’s about.

short circuits

now playing: michael hedges (old vh-1 footage), “all along the watchtower”

somehow, this weekend has brought about a considerable amount of reflection as to what it is, exactly, that motivates me to do what i do, as a musician…and, dare i even fucking say, an artist…

i was sitting at denny’s earlier tonight, listening to the songs that were piped in over the speakers, a tune from the second jars of clay album came on…wendy said something about the song being about jesus – i immediately thought back to the amazing show i was at in nashville some years back, when they played at the ryman auditorium with a string section…honestly, it was one of those transcendent concerts where everything else falls away and nothing else exists but the circuit between the listener and the band. i remember the singer, at some point between songs, saying something to the effect of – “on nights like tonight, it’s easy to absorb all this – all this stuff going on around you – and start to think that you’re a bigger part of this than you are….” the gist of what he was saying, i thought, was that there was a secondary circuit between himself and where the music actually comes from.

and i was sitting there, staring at my plate…listening to this song, and thinking to myself that perhaps that circuit is a little weak for me right now.

i mean, i still play regularly, i’m gigging all the time, i’m still in the thick of this…as far as being active as a musician is concerned…so outwardly, all probably looks just fine.

i’m still pickin’…

lately, though, these little unrelated things keep happening – drunks walking up to me after shows and telling me that i should be doing my own stuff, for instance. there was a guy last night who spent most of the second half of the night playing drunken air guitar…he was wearing a kansas t-shirt and a lynyrd skynyrd baseball hat…your typical northern berks barfly, really…but he comes up to me at the end of the show and starts this self-righteous rant about how i should be doing my own songs, how people would really dig me doing my songs….

now, keep in mind this guy doesn’t know me from adam, nor i him…but it started to get under my skin after a while…in fact, i was actually starting to go pretty hard on him after a while. i so much as told him that he “didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about”. i asked him if he’d ever even played in front of people before, and he admitted he hadn’t, and i told him to spend a decade or two playing in front of people, slaving over your own songs, recording them and sending them out into the world to be largely rejected, and then he could come back to the village and tell me what the fuck i should be playing….almost verbatim…

earlier this week, angela – the woman in HR whos’ become one of a small circle of friends that i would have such a conversation with – told me that she was listening to my CD on the way to work, and asked what i was doing here (in the way that one does when they’re asserting that you should be doing something else). i gave her the short answer, with all the usual talking points – whereas, in jon cusack fashion, i pointed out “at least one and possibly all four of the following pieces of information”: the kind of music i do isn’t in vogue anymore, i don’t really have the ambition to maintain the kind of onslaught one has to maintain in order to hack through the underbrush, so to speak…i enjoy playing the role of sideman more than being the focal point, blah blah fuckin’ blah….

and the truth is, all of this is true. every bit of it.

then today, i had work to do at joe cala’s house (joe is the vp of sales at work, and one of angela’s superiors), and got the same question – the whole “what are you doing here” trip again…and i repeated the same schpiel again….

so tonight, i’m listening to jars of clay, and thinking about all the shit that we do to try and fill our various spiritual holes…with food, with sex, with material posessions, with guitars, with money, with whatever a given person might latch onto to try and satisfy whatever it is that they think they want out of their life…and remembering that there are two circuits at work in this exchange of energy that exists when this channel opens up – one between the performer and the audience, and the one that’s often overlooked – between the performer and the source of inspiration.

whether anyone chooses to acknowledge it or not, it doesn’t begin with them – as much as ego or vanity or whatever internal reasoning process might lead them to that conclusion, the good stuff comes from somewhere else – and in order to get to the really good stuff, that circuit has to be open.

i don’t know that this circuit is working well for me lately. in fact, i think i’ve all but shut it off completely in some ways.

i’m not entirely sure how this came to pass, but i think i have some ideas…but it’s after midnight, and i have to rejoin the ranks of the uninspired tomorrow to earn my living doing something totally unrelated to creativity…

the scary part is that getting up and going to work feels more natural than sitting down with a guitar for me lately…

….i gotta figure out what that’s about.

goodbye to the hotel california

 

 

now playing: paul pccartney and wings, “silly love songs”

 

No Ice, No Rooms, No Guests. Now L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel Is Running Out of Time

By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 18, 2004; Page D01

LOS ANGELES

If the light is right — and is the light ever really wrong here? — this city will sometimes do a halfhearted impression of its former selves, using places that still exist, or using a stand-in.
Driving west on Wilshire Boulevard sometimes feels like the back cover of an Eagles album. Driving east, however, toward downtown L.A., just before you reach MacArthur Park, is a ripped-out page of a Raymond Chandler novel. The problem is you get this kind of thing only in fleeting shots, with just the right palm trees casting shadows across just the right buildings. Something always comes into the frame (a “Starsky & Hutch” billboard; the a.m./p.m. convenience store; the Korean dentist signs) and your brain yells cut.

Then comes the Ambassador Hotel. Forlorn, darkened and, in a sense, gone.

It gives off a hulking, vacant sense of the beautifully doomed, except when someone needs it for a movie or TV shoot.

Britney Spears’s people have called, says Joe Ortiz, who has worked in the hotel for 28 years as a maintenance engineer, staying long after the last guests checked out. Britney Spears may or may not need to use the Ambassador for a music video the following week — the contract pending, the concept pending, Britney pending.

The Ambassador waits, too, its fate undecided. With its 455 empty rooms and its once-famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub, it can be anything you want it to be, and Hollywood still uses it, abuses it, romances it. You can lease it out and film anywhere except the former kitchen pantry, on the notion that it is sacred American space — the narrow corridor with the ice machine where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and five others were shot by Sirhan B. Sirhan on the night of the 1968 California presidential primary.

The hotel sits a half-block back from a busily evolved and presently pan-Asian stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, on 23.7 valuable urban acres three miles west of downtown. It is falling apart a tile at a time behind tall chain-link fences, draped in tangles of ivy and shielded ambivalently by palm and olive trees. Opened on New Year’s Day in 1921, it has been permanently closed to guests and visitors since two days after New Year’s, 1989.

Now, in the months before it will be at last torn down or partially restored as a public school, the hotel has become a kind of fetishized treasure, in a city where it is possible to drive around and feel an elusive sense of loss, even if you just got there.

read the entire article here

top o’ the ninth…

now playing: andy gibb, “i just wanna be your everything”
(and mlb gameday – red sox 4, yankees 4, top 8th)

it’s come to this – following baseball on the internet from work. i’m truly hopeless, man. This has turned into a pretty good game, though…you can only get so emotionally involved in a game when you’re “watching” it via a java applet that reports the results of each pitch through a window on your desktop. of course, it could be argued that it’s tough to get emotionally involved in any game this early in the season to begin with.

and i’d be inclined to agree with that argument, most of the time. but this is the sox vs. the evil empire.

i’ve been struggling mightily to stay awake today – i had to come in last night and take care of some odds and ends, and to drop off an assload of cardboard for recycling. got home this morning and into bed at around 3:30am. we were scheduled for a visitor from a potential painter today, so i busted my balls to try and get the major parts of the house into a presentable state…wendy did her part and cleaned up the living room and was nice enough to run the vacuum over the area of the dining room floor that i was using to slice cardboard…now if i can just stay awake long enough tonight to do the dishes and some laundry, i’ll be thrilled.

less than a week until spring cleaning day. i can sleep soundly afterward in the knowledge that i can navigate the corridors of my home without fear of breaking something…hopefully.

this just in: boston goes into the top of the 9th with a 5-4 lead.

and they’re bringin’ in keith foulke to close.

today is the last game of the Sox/Yankees Fenway run, today is the boston marathon, and tonight the bruins play game seven of their stanley cup playoff with their rivals, the montreal canadiens…

…glad I’m not drivin’ home from work in beantown this afternoon.

oh, by the way…that 5-4 is a final now.

top o’ the ninth

 

 

now playing: andy gibb, “i just wanna be your everything”
(and mlb gameday – red sox 4, yankees 4, top 8th)

it’s come to this – following baseball on the internet from work. i’m truly hopeless, man. This has turned into a pretty good game, though…you can only get so emotionally involved in a game when you’re “watching” it via a java applet that reports the results of each pitch through a window on your desktop. of course, it could be argued that it’s tough to get emotionally involved in any game this early in the season to begin with.

and i’d be inclined to agree with that argument, most of the time. but this is the sox vs. the evil empire.

i’ve been struggling mightily to stay awake today – i had to come in last night and take care of some odds and ends, and to drop off an assload of cardboard for recycling. got home this morning and into bed at around 3:30am. we were scheduled for a visitor from a potential painter today, so i busted my balls to try and get the major parts of the house into a presentable state…wendy did her part and cleaned up the living room and was nice enough to run the vacuum over the area of the dining room floor that i was using to slice cardboard…now if i can just stay awake long enough tonight to do the dishes and some laundry, i’ll be thrilled.

less than a week until spring cleaning day. i can sleep soundly afterward in the knowledge that i can navigate the corridors of my home without fear of breaking something…hopefully.

this just in: boston goes into the top of the 9th with a 5-4 lead.

and they’re bringin’ in keith foulke to close.

today is the last game of the Sox/Yankees Fenway run, today is the boston marathon, and tonight the bruins play game seven of their stanley cup playoff with their rivals, the montreal canadiens…

…glad I’m not drivin’ home from work in beantown this afternoon.

oh, by the way…that 5-4 is a final now.

goodbye to the hotel california

now playing: paul pccartney and wings, “silly love songs”

No Ice, No Rooms, No Guests. Now L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel Is Running Out of Time

By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 18, 2004; Page D01

LOS ANGELES

If the light is right — and is the light ever really wrong here? — this city will sometimes do a halfhearted impression of its former selves, using places that still exist, or using a stand-in.
Driving west on Wilshire Boulevard sometimes feels like the back cover of an Eagles album. Driving east, however, toward downtown L.A., just before you reach MacArthur Park, is a ripped-out page of a Raymond Chandler novel. The problem is you get this kind of thing only in fleeting shots, with just the right palm trees casting shadows across just the right buildings. Something always comes into the frame (a “Starsky & Hutch” billboard; the a.m./p.m. convenience store; the Korean dentist signs) and your brain yells cut.

Then comes the Ambassador Hotel. Forlorn, darkened and, in a sense, gone.

It gives off a hulking, vacant sense of the beautifully doomed, except when someone needs it for a movie or TV shoot.

Britney Spears’s people have called, says Joe Ortiz, who has worked in the hotel for 28 years as a maintenance engineer, staying long after the last guests checked out. Britney Spears may or may not need to use the Ambassador for a music video the following week — the contract pending, the concept pending, Britney pending.

The Ambassador waits, too, its fate undecided. With its 455 empty rooms and its once-famous Cocoanut Grove nightclub, it can be anything you want it to be, and Hollywood still uses it, abuses it, romances it. You can lease it out and film anywhere except the former kitchen pantry, on the notion that it is sacred American space — the narrow corridor with the ice machine where Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and five others were shot by Sirhan B. Sirhan on the night of the 1968 California presidential primary.

The hotel sits a half-block back from a busily evolved and presently pan-Asian stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, on 23.7 valuable urban acres three miles west of downtown. It is falling apart a tile at a time behind tall chain-link fences, draped in tangles of ivy and shielded ambivalently by palm and olive trees. Opened on New Year’s Day in 1921, it has been permanently closed to guests and visitors since two days after New Year’s, 1989.

Now, in the months before it will be at last torn down or partially restored as a public school, the hotel has become a kind of fetishized treasure, in a city where it is possible to drive around and feel an elusive sense of loss, even if you just got there.

read the entire article here