Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Illusionist's Manifesto: Part xxxxviiii

I wrote another post.

Just now accidentally deleted it.

In it, I made sense.

Edited well.

All that stuff.

Sorry, but I'll have to explain why I went back and edited the previous post later (which I did)

I'll re-write the new post I already wrote later when I'm not pissed off at myself for not saving-while-writing and frustrated by writing about myself and thinking too much and shit.


I have other stuff to do.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Illusionist's Manifesto: Part One of xxxxx

What led to this will be explained in the next "part". I no longer wanna edit myself. I'll create paragraphs, though, ok?

May 11, 2012: 10:30 A.M.

I bet that, after studying Hegel and all that shit, it didn’t take Marx and Engels all that long to write The Communist Manifesto. Why do I think that? Am I wrong (probably..)? I think it because they wrote out a prediction. A system. A thing. It didn’t have shit to do with them. Not as individuals, anyway. It was removed from emotionality. So they “wrote the facts” (what the fuck are facts?). Facts are easy to write about. Especially when you have them. I don’t know that I ever have. I generally think I do, at different times, and then run on and on about having “figured something out” or whatever. I haven’t figured out a fucking thing except that I oughta give up on this idea that I ever will figure anything out. I don’t think I will. More time alive = more questions = more answers = more arguing = more synthesizing of crap that didn’t make sense already = confusion = more questions again. I’m not giving up. I’m giving in.

This is my “manifesto” (Jesus, that’s arrogant as fuck – like I deserve a manifesto to be read, like I’m an authority on anything other than fucking up) in as many parts as it takes. Sorry it took so long. It’s gonna have to be in maybe 785 parts. I don’t know. I can’t make sense of anything given things like life and it’s necessary distractions and my inability to claim any kinship with God.

I am just an idiot who makes up songs, records them, doesn’t know if he likes them or not half the time, kinda hides out from folks, and never really lets people get too close anymore. This isn’t a fucking invitation, btw. I’m doing this because I get it: I’m supposed to. I was asked to. Nudged to. Then asked again.

Then Chuck Prophet cleared it all up (the reasoning behind “why” I oughta do this "manifesto") by including that bit in his newsletter that’s not indecipherable to those named. Me, Nick West, Guy Neal Williams, and Chuck. Hunter Thompson would’ve figured it out. But he’s dead. I'll include the newsletter text at the end of this post. NOTE: when he says he hasn't heard the record, he's being gently insulting. He played on it. Wrote the chorus that Jana Misener sings on Penny Nails, even, in a roundabout way. So it's a bit of a jab, reminding me to shut the fuck up and keep my nose to the grindstone because I'd said earlier to him something to the effect of, "Who cares? You haven't listened to it, anyway.".

See what a dick I am? Of course he has heard it. I played it for him once, even. It's like I'm *really* saying, "You know you don't like it. So fuck it.". Again: likely not true, it doesn't matter because in many ways the record feels odd and flawed but also good and a document of a time when I was a different person; a true fuck-up junkie nutcase. So...

Dear Chuck: sorry, I can be a real prick, I know. But do you want to lose the last legitimate "angry young man" out here in this godforsaken mid-life-crisis-wasteland of a place? Keep the anger. Lose the fear. That's maybe my thing....

That's maybe my outrageously idiotic Bruce Banner-like master plan (and I know nothing about comic books but think they are encoded psychoanalytic texts, sorta... sometimes.... almost....) but Lori DID figure out I was right in thinking that my home state of Mississippi's psychotically self-loathing, beautifully angry and irreverently religious genius (fine: only his "Mississippi: The Album" is brilliant, or even good, but it's THAT FUCKING GOOD - just this verse alone makes a fucking career legitimate, stay with me here Generation-ADD and Baby Boomer "the blow run out in '94" readers.....: [is that who reads this nonsense?] :

Lord they hung Andre Jones
Lord they hung Raynard Johnson
Lord I wanna fight back but I'm just so sick of bouncin'
Lord I'm sick of jumpin', Lord just please tell me somethin'
My folks still dumping my music, bumping but I feel nothin'
My heart is steady pumpin', my heart is steady breakin'
Sometimes I feel like I'm fakin', man I'm so sick of takin'
Maybe hell ain't a place meant for us to burn
Maybe Earth is hell; and just a place for us to learn
Bout your love, your will and grace
Sometimes I wish I wasn't born in the first place
Maybe this first base, God knocked the ball up out the park
So we can come home this world right here is feeling so dark
Feelin' so cold, Lord I'm gettin' so old
I dunno if I can take this world right here no more
Twenty-two inch rims on the 'Lac
I guess that was your footprint in the sand carryin' us on your back

Dude's a fucking philosopher. When did white people quit paying attention to black music in a *real* way; when did we decide we were gonna act like good liberals and be accepting and tolerant but turn our backs and become culture-vultures who may "support" the "idea" of equality but can't feel or see the humanity and hurt and THE SAMENESS INHERENT IN BEING HUMAN between ourselves and others who aren't white? We stole from Chuck Berry and Jackie Brenston and Sam Cooke and all the blues dudes (who stole from other people who weren't all black.... the guitar came to Mississippi from Northern Mexico via migrant workers.... so did the "Mississippi Tamale".... A LONG ASIDE (sorry):

Dear Unaware-Of-Your-Own-Racial-Biases Enlightened-Neo-Liberal-Academics at The Center for Southern Culture At The University of Mississippi (affectionately known as "Ole Miss", a reference to the " 'ol missus" of a slave plantation - the woman who was OWNED by another human being who was ALLOWED(?!?!?) inside the "big house" to "run things" - GODDAMN it's time to grow up, you idiots):
Does it make sense now? You think you thought your way out of your prejudice? You thought you were reallllllly "good" and reallllllly "smart" and that'd be enough to absolve you of your weird white-guilt? You won't even TALK to black people in a normal human way. Rednecks will. Even the racists. Ask black folks in Oakland if it's more or less racist in their opinion out here in California or in Mississippi. I have. A bunch. Consensus has been: OUT HERE. I'm sure there are differing opinions. But that's my opinion, too. When I first moved here, KQED aired a blues thing about Mississippi. Every black person was subtitled in it. Not the white rednecks, though, who are frankly far less eloquent in the documentary. Tell me that's not fucked! They showed the same one on the PBS station in Memphis. No one was subtitled. One black guy out here told me I was the only "cracker" who'd ever talked to him and "still been real". I didn't know I was being anything. So I'm not some perfect liberal whatever-the-fuck. I asked a black friend for clarification on why that dude said that. Then I asked a couple more black friends. They all said it was because I WAS a "redneck". I didn't think I was a redneck. That's fine, though. Better that than a Californian. Get it? There aren't nearly as many black serial killers. Why? White people aren't "real" anymore, for the most part. They/we scavenge for identity and steal in the process while ignoring their/our own inhumanity-of-being. Whatever: y'all argue over merit and substance and history and shit. I'm still gonna be listening to music and talking to people because it's more fun than wallowing in white-guilt and isn't as shithead-making. Black folks in Oakland make more sense to me than white people in Oakland, anyway, for the most part. I sometimes miss living near Ike and June Bug and Israel and Dennis The Menace. I liked standing outside shooting the shit with those guys, until they got all violent (how could they not - there are no jobs here and when Ike (more about Ike later) and June Bug started working down the street the assholes that run the place would always refuse to pay them for days until they got annoyed by their protesting and would in the end pay them half what they owed - I'd fucking sell dope and carry a gun, too, if I was forced to trade places...). See, David Banner doesn't need our explanation of his lyrical intent, but we think every white person needs a translator/critic/reviewer who's "well-versed" in "hip hop" to deconstruct the meaning of lyrics written IN ENGLISH IN AMERIKKKA. Idiots.:

David Banner’s Open Letter to Rap Basement about the Cadillacs on 22’s Song and Video

“Given the fact that this single is so different from the last song, I thought that I’d take the time to break down the meaning of the song and the video so that you could clearly understand what is I am trying to get across to the audience

First off, the reason why I choose Cadillac on 22s as my second single because I wanted to show my diversity as an artist and give people a glimpse of my spiritual side. The song is a musical letter to God explaining to him that despite all, I am still his child and no matter how hard I stray in the streets, or how crazy I may get on a record, I am still aspiring to do God’s work. I interpret that to be reaching people in the streets with music that is attractive to them so that they can receive a message that is proactive. It’s like I’ve said in so many of my interviews, my music is like a bible with a Playboy cover on it. The average person may pick it up because of the cover (i.e. “Like A Pimp”) but when they finally sit down and check it out they get a little food for thought as well

Traditionally the Cadillac has always been a symbol of wealth and prosperity, especially in the South. That’s why I decided to use the Cadillac as a symbol of the current state of which is oversaturated with “bling, bling.” The child represents the millions of kids who impressionable minds are attracted to the flashy images, which in effect is destroying them. I represent the new breed of street oriented rapper that is reaching rap fans with a mixture of music they want to hear along with a message they need to listen to life-giving music. Music that reflect both sides of life: the joy, the pain and the injustices that take place in this world. That’s the symbolic meaning of me touching the people on the streets and them rising to follow me. I am touching them with my music and the music is rejuvenating their spirit. Also you’ll notice that there is a bluesman playing the guitar throughout the video. He represents the sprit of redemption

I hope that you enjoy the video and thank you again for your continuous support


David Banner

HOLY FUCK! "My music is like a Bible with a Playboy cover on it.". Fuck yes!

Outside of the South for a long time after them, there were no more Duck Dunns and Steve Croppers and Dan Hoods and Duane Allmans and Sam Philips and shit until Eminem made his point CLEAR to everyone AGAIN.... (Yes, I'm sure there are "exceptions" but that won't change my point or "opinion" - I think it's just true, so don't bother...) No one *really* listened. To him or any other good white rapper. Because they/we(?) are scared? Of what? Black people? NO! yes.

David Banner changed his name in reference to The Hulk. Lori figured it out after I talked about the following. Turns out "David" and "Bruce" are both names for The Hulk. Obviously Mississippi's David Banner picked the more fitting (Biblical) choice. Fucking genius shit. The Incredible Hulk, as a drink, is Nyquil and Vodka, usually, and is the successor to the original "Syrup" which was never what white people thought it was, anyway. For the most part, it still isn't. Now there are too many variations to count. Mixtures ranging from the more benign (by my thinking) codeine cough syrup and liquor mixes of more semi-recent years to The Incredible Hulk (think about it: driving on lortab and liquor is way better than driving on Nyquil and liquor). Whatever. I didn't really get it until Ike, an always-drunk sometimes-dealer with a good but flawed heart (dude's only human) who lived in our old neighborhood (his family is the Washington's and lived down the street - Grover is his uncle, get it???) explained in detail because he went away for selling the syrup for awhile (schedule I drug - especially if you happen to be black when caught with it).

I don't want to write a segway into the next paragraph to make reading this easier. Sorry. i know that's lazy. You're smart enough. You don't need the segway, anyway. You might want it because you have 173 other articles on Huffington Post you "need" to get to today and it'd make reading this easier, but you don't need it and I am lazy and probably just stubborn and pissy, too.

Why I Am Writing Shit Again And Will Regularly:

Here we go, motherfuckers: I am scared of you. I do not understand you. I am scared of me. I don’t understand myself. Am I nuts? No! I used to be. Seriously. Quite insane. Certifiably so. Even addicted to heroin in a dramatic overdose-y way. You know: dying and all that. But now that there are clean bills-of-health from all orders of Docs and experts, I still doubt my ability to make sense of a world I secretly love but outwardly loathe. Because I am a scared kid. I doubt my ability to express anything meaningful to anyone other than myself and that isn’t of any use to anyone but me. But I do it anyway. And I wonder why.

Am I really that fucking full of myself? Or did it all just hurt a lot? Am I supposed to write songs and shit because I can? Is that reason enough? I can do other crap, too. Doesn’t mean I should…. So I guess I do it because it’s like a release valve or something. I can say what I want, even when it doesn’t make sense to anybody. Music is brilliant that way: it’s so visceral you can literally do whatever the fuck you want. You shouldn’t (Serge Gainsbourg being the prime example I’ll use, just because it’ll bother somebody… shit… sorry.), but you can. I don’t know that I know what I’m doing. I don’t know that any of us do.

So I’m choosing this, I suppose. Yeah: I am.

 May 11, 2012: 3:45 P.M.

I know there’s an eight hour time difference between these sunny, washed-out, grotesquely bleached shores, and the filthy shores of England, so I didn’t hear back from Nick. I did hear back from Chuck.

OK. ANOTHER ASIDE: it’s really kinda rad there, actually. Southampton, anyway. Sure: they launched the Titanic. I think. So what? We shoot people non-stop in Oakland because there is a 5 cent tax on soda bottles now. People are cheaper. Oliver Gray, one of the world’s most genuine music-lovers and someone willing to not only speak to me in a human way but someone who also let both Bob and I sleep at his house and let me make fun of Cricket endlessly without throwing a punch. I bet he’d do it again. For me to consider: what is wrong with Oliver? Something? Nothing? I think nothing, though most people who tolerate me are fucked up in some way I can sorta get at, usually. Freud wasn’t a moron. I read that shit. Not so I could be a brilliant dude but so I could figure out what the fuck was wrong with me and why other people do what they do. So, in his case, maybe a “cigar is just a cigar”. Yeah. I’m going with that. I think he enjoys my angry absurdisms. Even gets them. Knows I wouldn’t hurt a fly – a Kung-Fu loving Dutch soundman, sure. I’d try to get all “Deliverance” with that again. The PRETENSE! Ok: no I wouldn’t. I hope. But not a fly. Most of us are flies. We just don’t use all of our eyes…. I don’t like people who tell you they’ll kick your ass. Do it or don’t. Or just show me your penis and I will tell you it’s huge and you’ll feel better and we can all go on with our merry, merry, merry judgment day. Anyway: Oliver wrote in Amplifier that I may appear to be a “gruesome mountain of a man” but am actually “a really sensitive intellectual”. I don’t know. But he gets the confusion inherent in it, for sure. So do I.
Maybe he’s just awesome that way, ya know? Totally accepts “the artistic temperament” – even if I don’t….. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic! He would’ve done it. And with dignity. It’s become a negative reference. Why? I think that, when you know you are about to die, playing music and fixing up the ship seems more than reasonable – almost super-human and selfless.

REGARDLESS! Here’s Chuck’s response to my request for direct questions or topics:

“This is the shit. Brilliant. Funny. And Hunter S Thompson would be proud. C”

Asshole. I get it. I’m supposed to wade around in the muck of my own psyche until I have something to say? FINE! What if what I want to say is this: I AM SICK OF MYSELF. I AM SICK OF THINKING ABOUT THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING. And by everything, I literally mean every single goddamn thing. All external stimuli, for a long time, felt imbued with meaning; some indecipherable grand coded riddle. Now it feels imbued with randomness and absurdity. Not the good Albert Camus kind, either: the more sinister and chaotic spiraling-into-the-abyss version Kierkegaard lost his life searching after (at least he was looking for God and not himself, though – he just gave up on a love that haunted him his entire life, his true “Sickness Unto Death” was a woman with a name…) and Nietzsche chased after in his syphilitic daydream nightmares.

 Seriously: I get haunted by Nietzsche’s idea that everything that occurs has already occurred and is currently occurring and in perpetuity will continue to occur PRECISELY as it appears to be occurring at any given time. Maybe you don’t find this disturbing. I assure you: it is. That means that for every gun I waved around, every needle I sunk into my arm, every ounce of hurt I put the people I love through I am doing, have done, and will continue to do. And they will continue to experience, have experienced, and will always experience (within an infinity that replicates itself endlessly in multitudes in real time).

It’s like he predicted Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity. But unlike Einstein (who was a pretty kinky guy who couldn’t match argyle socks and in his last days was often heard almost praying, “I just hope God isn’t playing a giant game of dice.” – dark shit!) he could feel that relativity. Maybe. No: I take that back. He couldn’t but he wanted everyone else to suffer the idea of it as he denied the value of feeling guilt and declared with sarcasm (not fear) that, metaphorically, “God Is Dead”.

Fuck that dude. Really. What a prick. He said he never lost his preciously mustached virginity. Then please, dear German readers, explain to me how (outside of sleeping with hookers – I know he did…. OH! And his sister, too, for fuck’s sake! – that wasn’t meant as a pun but it is kinda funny, I guess. I wonder why I thought that…..) he contracted and died of syphilis. [and now…… JEOPARDY! theme music – the eeriest most tension-inducing series of goofy notes EVER….. tick, tock, tick, tock]. Time’s up, contestants! He was a lying piece of shit. He had the grandest Madonna/Whore Complex ever not written about!

 Herein lies the problem: Ask my wife. Ask anyone who knows me well: I kinda don’t think I need to understand the intricacies of Einstein’s theory or imagine myself traveling alongside a beam of light as it moves at the same speed as said beam of light to get that time is relative. My time, my timing, all of it is relative. I don’t know what day it is half of the time. I hate writing checks. I always put the wrong year or month. Nevermind the date! I have no clue! I had to look at the computer’s date thingy to put the date in here earlier. I run out of time every single fucking day. It’s intolerable. To you too, I know…. Blah, blah. Imagine realizing you’ve sat for two hours, thinking about random shit that you know is meaningless but feel compelled to find meaning in, and thought it’d only been five minutes. FELT only five minutes pass. That crap happens nonstop to me. I don’t need a fucking theory. I embody the proof that creates the law! Yes! I am the motherfucker who, by sheer neglect of reality, lost track of time then realized it lost track of ME.

How in the fuck am I supposed to get anything done when everything has happened, is happening, and will happen ad infinitum, and time is not theoretically relative but experientially relative?

No, I don’t need help.

I need one of those calculator watches from the 80s. Set a bunch of alarms. Have shit beeping all the time telling me to eat and all. Telling me to breath. Telling me to shut up. Telling me to write. Telling me I am insane. Telling me I’m perfectly “normal”. Telling me I’m me. Telling me I’m not who I was. Telling me I was never anything but what I was.

Fuck Friedrich Nietzsche.

Kierkegaard? Stand-up dude (minus the hunchback thing – again I didn’t see that pun coming but why get in the way of a moving train of philosophical hilarity careening down the tracks on it’s way to hell?).

Fuck Einstein, too. I mean, I think he was probably a nice guy. Maybe really nice. But all that relativity crap killed what we crave most: the lie of certainty and permanence and existence. What the fuck am I writing about? This doesn’t even make sense. I’m emailing it to Chuck . He can say something back. Then I can respond to that. Does it make sense? Fuck. Are ya intentionally trying to drive me insane? Don’t forget the various “incidents”….

 “Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive.” Merit is offensive? Friedrich! Freddie! Whatever! DUDE: You are making a proclamation! You can’t define merit as offensive when it’s been previously defined as the opposite. And by proclaiming bullshit like that you prove to be the most arrogant of all! DEFINING “arrogance” – even giving it sub-categories - and redefining “merit” like human dignity is a bone for a dog to chew on (why does that seem kinda accurate as a metaphor, though??). Fuck.

Arguing with dead dudes in my head is tiring. And who the fuck really cares? Do I? Obviously. I must be looking for some truth in the knowledge that GOD likely IS dead. WE FUCKING KILLED HIM.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow….. I’ve got more shit to write, I guess. A lot more. This didn’t go as planned. I’m not editing crap. I’m just gonna keep vomiting this nonsense up until I get to the part worth reading, the part where I explain in great detail how much of a fucking joke I was and likely still am and how much heroin I battered my brain with and how much I learned to hate and love in tandem and how confused I am.

Maybe I’ll write away the confusion. It’ll be like an exorcism!

I’ll write all the nonsense that I hide away in my head because it IS nonsense (or is it? Maybe it isn’t and I’m just afraid of being right about stuff because then I’m an arrogant prick, too…) and then there will be some clarity.

Not diamond ring clarity. Dusty broken chandelier glass clarity. Yeah. That’s where God is. In the musty, stuffy, filth you call insanity.

Here’s the “proof” - ‘ol Friedrich said this crap once: “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.”. HORSESHIT! Who “casually strolls” through asylums? THE INSANE! You fucking fool! You were one of us, too. You were just too carried away with judging everybody to notice. Casual stroll??? That’s fucking ridiculous. And crass. And just tacky as fuck. Insanity and intelligence are awful fucking things to mix-up in the wrong measured amounts. There’s a fine line between absolute genius and utter boredom. Stroll on, you dick. Imagine the hospital gown is a labcoat….. FACTS: Nietzsche would not have gotten extra snacks before bedtime at Herrick Hospital and no extra Ativan at John George (in fact, they woulda stabbed him there). I’m done with you, dead white asshole. NEXT! Fucking say something, Chas.

May 14, 11:08 AM

Chuck wrote back. Look: there's this thing called "honor among thieves". Musicians are all thieves. Especially the decent ones. They have to be. "Good artists borrow, great artists steal". No shit. Bob Dylan tried to make that clear with Love and Theft. It just took the "enlightened academic critics" too long to figure out they'd been played. They didn't think to look for where he came up with the title for the record. Then the next record he made he called Modern Times (an old but rad Chaplin movie... I think? Yeah. I think so. Not gonna cheat and google it...) and drops pop-culture references all over antiquated couplets. Even gets political with it, writes the sequel to Merle Haggard's "Workingman Blues" (already a sequel of sorts) and sings:

There's an evening haze settling over town 
Starlight by the edge of the creek 
The buying power of the proletariat's gone down 
Money's getting shallow and weak 
Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory 
But it's a new path that we trod 
They say low wages are reality 
If we want to compete at all

HE IS GIVING AN OPINION! We shouldn't "compete" at all. That "sweet memory" is a time. Maybe the time when the film Modern Times was made. He wants that plus real equality. I can get down with that. I don't think it's necessary to act like Dylan is above us all and is God's mouthpiece. In fact, if I were Bob I'd be pissed off, too. Why?

That honor among thieves thing restricts my ability to share with you the full email exchange Chuck and I later had. You've no right to pry! But I will put up this part I wrote him in partial reply to one email:

It's where you get to create realities that are more than reality - hyperreality. Like Dylan saying "my father once told me it's possible to become so defiled in this world that even your own mother and father will abandon you, but god never will {and something about retaining the ability to mend your  own ways}.", when he accepted that lifetime achievement award. His father was alive and went on record saying that he never said that. Of course he didn't! Michael Douglas or Jack Nicholson (maybe both??) had just spent twenty minutes calling Dylan the crassest of all things: "the voice of a generation" for chrissake, and referenced essentially only his stuff from the sixties like he was already dead. Then applauded him for never changing. Never changing? Did they not hear the fucking weird shit he had been doing? What Dylan said is from the Torah. He was being scathingly sarcastic, essentially saying: "fuck y'all. Im the voice of a generation? Fine. Then i was also, by the way, told directly by god that he won't forsake me because he is my dad. Im Jesus. For Jews. Im god, basically. And i now have to lie to tell the truth. Y'all are idiots. This is insulting. But i play the game. Because Im not the voice of nothing, not above anyone or  anything, Im nobody. I used to care but things have changed. Now i actually do care. I just thought i did before. Too bad y'all don't care. Best keep to being a song and dance man.". Or something like that.

This is all I could find.... Funny, that! Oh, well:

So there you have it. What do you have? I don't know. But there it is. And here's Chuck's original "indecipherable" email newsletter, as it appeared:


 NEW WEB SITE ((((IN FULL COLOR SOUND)))) http://chuckprophet.com

Hi Folks,

Tonight in Barcelona is our last European show. We're headed back to the U.S.A. in the AM. Next stop is West Palm Beach Fla. and then up to Tampa for WMNF's Heatwave Festival.

I'm hoping we'll scare up some Cuban sandwiches when we get there. Something to help bring us down from our manic Spanish food high. Can't remember the last day off without a gig around here, but sometimes it's harder to stop than it is to keep going. Like my man Guy told me: You see that lamppost coming at you in slow motion and you know it's coming but nothing really prepares you for how much it's gonna hurt when it's in your lap.

Luckily, from Tampa, we continue the US leg of the Temple Beautiful tour. [Check out the dates below for a show in your town]. Be there or be elsewhere.

On another note. I have to ask once again; is there a simple pleasure that can compete with a three hour train journey with a Hunter S. Thompson novel on my lap, the sun on my face and a ham and cheese toastie snack? Let me know if you find one.

Got the lap-top out now and I'm catching up on some stuff. For one, Nick from Bucketful Of Brains Records asked me for some words on the new John Murry LP. Like for a blurb or whatever. He said he could send me the record to listen to and I said, what's the point? Told him I'd be happy to come up with a blurb or two. I've written a few blurbs (even ones for myself from time to time!).

Here's the deal: John made a record. I haven't heard it, but it's great. I know this because when he was making it we got together and we talked about it at length. We had deep conversations on the merits of being certifiably insane. And we came to the conclusion that it beats dressing like you're homeless.

Yep. John made a record. And somehow in spite of himself. In spite of the fact that he claims he can't play the guitar. And that he's lazy. And that he's totally unwilling to buy 'gay ass serge Gainsbourg records' and sit in bars in the Mission listening to some dude "spin records" from the 80's for the sake of irony. Aside from all that, John is an inspired dude.  For one: he can spend money like nobody's business and doesn't seem worried about making money. He taught me that money is magical. As you can imagine, that got my attention. So we went out for ice cream. (I was buying). And John told me more secrets.

Like the fact that there's picture somewhere of Barry Hannah holding him (and a drink) when he was just a baby. Hannah was friends with his dad. Hannah fairly recently lived with John's little brother or something in Austin. The first day he was there he demanded the kid "go get some pussy" and bought them both .357's. I don't know where those .357's are now. But even though we'll never stop reading him, Hannah is definitely gone daddy gone.

Anyway, John made this record and even though I haven't really heard it, I'm endorsing it. You see, John went up the mountain and talked to the elephant as we used to say. Although I don't pretend to know what was going through his veins when he made it. I do know for sure is that I enjoy eating ice cream with John. So, in an effort to get to heart of what the record means, I asked John just what drove him to make it. He promised me he had a manifesto and he'd share it with me when he was ready.  And though it wasn't clear just what it was - he said he could come up with them (manifestos) all day long. I get the sense that John is just happy to run his mouth and as far as he is concerned the shit that comes out will always run golden. So in the end, what does any of it matter? Who cares what you think? Who care what I think? It's true; opinions really are like assholes. And of course we have to acknowledge that assholes are great and interesting parts of the human body and everything, but to leave it at that would be missing the point, right?  All I know for sure is that John made a record and you might want to seek it out.

It's worth the seeking.

Again, I won't insult with indecipherable links. You know what do to from here, right?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~IN THIS ISSUE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* GIGSVILLE:  US leg of The Temple Beautiful Tour.
* MERCHVILLE: "If you're not busy being born, you're busy buying"
* FACEBOOK: Like me!
* TWITTERVILLE: "Tweet-tweet-twiddle-dee-deet"

GIGSVILLE: "6 billion people in the world and you want to be among those who will never seen The Mission Express live?"
Show details: http://chuckprophet.com/gigs/

/ The Mission Express:
 Stephie Finch: (singing, Rheem organ, guitar)
 Kevin White: (bass guitar)
 Kyle Caprista: (drums, singing)
 James DePrato: (guitar, steel)





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Now: aren't we all feeling a bit like taking a strong sedative or anti-psychotic now? Hmmmmm?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Got Bored...

I see no reason why I shouldn't write things and post them here when I do, in fact, want to write things and post them on here. I quit doing it because of some belief I held that everything I wrote and posted must necessarily be related to music in some way.

I get sick of trying to hide ideas or thoughts or things inside of other ideas or thoughts or things. But to "compete" today (fuck that - to make anything creative viable) one has to carve out a niche. Find their place in the sun. Even as we wholly acknowledge and repetitiously state "there is nothing new under" that very same sun.

So I decided that was a lie. Because it is a lie. Everything "under the sun" is new. If I wrote, even a singular word, and it was written before it does not matter. It makes no difference. Since we are systematically killing originality by denying its' very existence using science (our neo-religion since we've now killed God - Scientism!) and data, I will use two truly unscientific and poorly created equations to explain:

In these equations John Murry is represented as "X" and anything he says or does that has been done or said before is represented as "O". Each "X" is cancelled or subtracted from by each "O". The numerical value of each is "1".

The first brilliant equation illustrates humanity's idiotic belief in nothingness, exposes its' nihilistic hatred of life and by default all individual living human beings (hidden as "pragmatism", "reality", "science", "truth", and the "Blessed Assurance Jesus Is NOT Mine" or "atheism" - the "fundamental" statement and not "belief" that there is no God - I hope you got that one...), and its' assertion that we are programmed automatons (comforting belief, no? if it's all in the "genes" and predetermined by "big history" and Hegelian mysticism then nothing we do is ever "right" or "wrong" - nor is it worthwhile, however). The second "proves" that whatever I do I did, what I say I said, and what I create I created. Scientifically.

I write and record a song in 4/4 time (X) using the same chord progression as innumerable other songs (G-D-C) (O), add in an instrumental break (X) similar to others as an "idea" (O), and unconsciously incorporate a melody from a long forgotten song, stuck in my psyche that I never even liked (O), ending with the creation of a recorded song ("The Ballad of The Pajama Kid"):

X + O + X + O + O = -1

Using the same as above I add two X's. One for "I write and record" and one for "recorded song". This can be done because I am not 4/4 time or the progression and the end result was a song that, though "derivative", didn't exist before.

X + X + O + X + O + O + X = 1

May that "1" stand to represent what cannot be explained away using data, jargon, hapless systematic philosophizing, science, or our modern need to do away with everything in order to feel nothing.

May that "1" stand for something truly unimportant and unnecessary.

May that "1" represent a flawed and painfully real John Murry.

Holy shit. Somehow even that incorporated music. The next won't. I can't wait to write it. My place in the sun doesn't exist. It's smoggy today. But smog illuminates this world with far more beauty, anyway.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where Joaquin Came From, How He Got Lost, And Where He Turned Up Again

This is weird. Someone made this "video" using numerous images of/about Joaquin Murietta and it was forwarded to me. Bob and I wrote and recorded this song and it's included on "World Without End". It's not odd that someone used the song. That's quite common, as you well know, and a number of our songs have been used this way. I don't mind at all. I think it's interesting to see what people do with them: sometimes it's interesting, anyway (other times amusing, sometimes disturbing). But regardless it's always entertaining. And YouTube's a beautifully populist platform for anyone who wants to create anything with noise and images in it. So when somebody uses your song to do it, whether you're too hip to admit it or not, it's pretty fucking humbling.

There's great comments. One from a guy who says he likes the video but the choice of music was "strange". A few from Chileans who believe Joaquin Murietta to be an unrecognized Saint of sorts; their Robin Hood - a man who took on American citizens in California, stealing from and killing white miners (who'd killed and stolen mining rights and land from South Americans and Mexicans). He's loved by Chileans in much the same way as Santo Jesus Malverde (also known as The Patron Saint of Narcotraficantes), is loved by many Mexicans. Of course the Roman Catholic Church, my church, remains too boring and stagnant to beatify either. I guess it would be a hard sell: a marauding killer hell-bent on retribution and a thief hung in Sinaloa now asked for guidance and safe-passage by Mexican drug runners. Here's Joaquin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaquin_Murrieta And here's Malverde: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jes%C3%BAs_Malverde

What's weird about this video is that the actual recording is from the 4-track demos Bob and I recorded upstairs at his house as we wrote them. We then compiled them, edited them, etc., until we had the songs for what would become "World Without End". Only Bob and I ever had copies of the demos. I'm pretty sure that no one else even heard them. Almost positive. Because they were meant as reference, not something to listen to per se. They weren't ever meant to be listened to as "songs". Hell, I don't even have my copy of the demos anymore. I wish I did. So in that sense it's great to hear this. But I wanna hear the rest of them again. I don't even remember what the songs were like then (before they became the involved productions they did on the record). So it's strange. And kinda awesome. And disturbing. And all that....

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Beginner's Guide to Trench Warfare: Mr. Kevin Cubbins-Part 3 of a 4 Part Series

"Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further."
--Soren Kierkegaard

"I don't know."
-- Kevin Cubbins

Note: Please allow me this one potential misstep. I just watched the final episode of ‘Lost’ last night. Quite honestly I literally cried myself to sleep (then cried some more in the shower after I woke up today). I fully acknowledge the effect it is having on me and the myriad ways it may have effected what I wrote. Right now I really don’t give a flying fuck. And I think that’s a very, very good thing (though I’m fully aware of the likely possibility it’ll wear off soon - but I kinda hope it doesn’t). And yes: I watch television and enjoy it very much. I also often sincerely enjoy big budget Hollywood movies. And I don’t like Nick Drake (even if I’ve told you personally that I do). There. I said it. I feel a great weight has been lifted.

It took me a long time to write this. Not because I didn’t want to write it. Not because I’m lazy (though I am, of course). It took me a long time to write this because it isn’t inherently funny. It’s almost impossible to make it a joke, a knowing nudge of the elbow, a “blog post”. It took me so long because to write it in that manner would do a grave disservice. Not to Kevin Cubbins but to myself. It’s not that Kevin isn’t a truly funny person. Or entirely undeserving of ridicule. He is, but all that is very much beside the point. If I write about Kevin as I’ve written about everything else I would be lying to myself. Lying to you is fine by me. It’s entertaining. And I have always done that well (not entertained you - lied to you). I’d be lying to myself because I care too much. Working with Kevin has meant a great deal to me, has made me love music again, has taught me something bigger than I am entirely capable of understanding. And all that makes me look like a fool because today, in the era of irony-to-avoid-sincerity it means we (and me - all of us - that includes you) actually do feel, I become the potential pun at the end of a joke I never wrote, the asshole that cried in the theater at the end of a movie I took my five year old to see, an absolute idiot. I give up: enjoy my foolishness, revel in it, because it won’t come around again anytime soon. Kevin Cubbins is worth it. And no, Ashley: I am not going to steal your husband. Not yet anyway.....

There’s a reason it’s hard to write about Kevin Cubbins. Sure: if he was interviewed by TapeOp,  it might very well prove itself to be the most boring interview in the history of their useless, masturbatory, narcissistic, savior-making, cocksucking, shitty magazine (I hope you read this, Mr. Larry Crane - you suck ass). And yeah: Kevin is a weird guy. Not in the “I’m incredibly eccentric, please bring me my copy of (insert little known book - but known amongst the hippest and most discerning, self-involved, boring assholes) and try not to scratch my new Italian-made English riding boots”. No, Kevin is weird in the simplest (and ultimately the only honest) fashion (he wears sneakers and loves Gabriel Garcia Marquez - and writes short stories that are blindingly great). He isn’t obsessed with the idea of himself. Nor is he terribly interested in the obsessions of others. His obsessions don’t expand outwards in a way that makes him an easy target for a blog post. And I know, without a doubt, among all the other people I could have or already have written about, he could give a good goddamn.

You see, Cormac McCarthy’s “eccentricity” doesn’t come from McCarthy’s actual behavior. It comes from others’ ideas about Cormac McCarthy the person (as related to their “experience” of Cormac McCarthy the writer). It is born of their NEED to believe in his eccentricity, their perverse desire to live vicariously through the socially-constructed madness they’ve created for him (in lieu of studying their own). They do it because they are boring. They do it because they themselves are “mad”, as well, but are too afraid to face it. Cormac McCarthy has done virtually nothing to deserve the label of “eccentric” placed on him by readers, critics, and academics. Like Freud said, “We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment from a contrast and very little from the true state of things.” If one wanted to they could do the same with Kevin Cubbins. They could call him an eccentric, an obsessive, an oddity. But they could just as easily call him a technician, an engineer, or (maybe the worst of all, the most mundane and un-musical of all, the most masturbatory, the words used by asshole music gear peddlers old dudes at shops who played in a band 20 years ago and are holding on desperately to their "record that would've hit big if the label had pushed it right") a guitar player.

I seem to write, over and over, that “so and so person” is an “enigma”. Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. It’s really beside the point because implying or saying something like that says more about the writer than the reader. It’s boring. And useless. And a lazy trick. Everyone is an enigma. But me? I’ve used the word so often it’s lost all meaning (at least for me, anyway). It’s become a lie. I like hiding behind lies. And generalizations. And quotation marks and parentheses. And bullshit conversations with bullshit conversationalists just like myself. If “all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie” I am basing my self-ness, my stupid freedom-induced “essence”, on the hope that the opposite is true as well. So I’ll use the word one last time. Just because it’s lost it’s meaning to me doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a carefully considered definition as a word brought to you by the 1913 Edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “an inscrutable or mysterious person”. I just wrote a lengthy and overly-wordy paragraph to do the opposite of what I’m about to do now. Because I know in this final use of that word it's true.

Kevin Cubbins is an enigma.

I talked to Kevin before writing this, talked to his long-suffering and generous wife Ashley, and talked to people I know much too well into writing things about Kevin or saying things about him so I could insert them into this blog post. It was all wildly entertaining. But I think I have (and had before I spoke to anyone) plenty to say about Kevin without using any of it. In most cases, as my wondrous and perfect (but sharply straightforward, caustic psychotherapist truth-spitting - painfully so) wife pointed out, I was looking for other people to say what I wanted them to say, and in some cases led them (by creating incredibly pointed questions) to say exactly what I wanted them to say. Because it would've been embarrassing to say it myself. Because I care too much. The stories I didn’t know, though, are definitely worth telling here.

Ashley told me how awkward Kevin was when he attempted to woo her. Amazingly, against all odds, he was successful. They decided to get married (I was really hoping to hear about Kevin’s bumbling proposition - there wasn't one) and they picked out a ring. To ensure that it was bought (only Christ himself knows what additional obsessions were controlling his riddled brain at the time), Ashley looked in his wallet one day when he was out of the room, saw that he had enough money in it to buy the ring, and said to him, “Why don’t we go get the ring today?”. It worked, of course, because Kevin is seriously crazy about his wife, but also because being the “mad professor” he is (Ashley’s words, not mine - though I entirely agree) it was the only way to redirect his attention towards it. Only their wedding was stranger. That in itself is another post (or more likely a lengthy short story published in The New Yorker that readers assume is a joke but is, in fact, entirely true). Noteworthy tidbits of the ceremony include:

1. Dokken was played so slowly on acoustic guitar, as to resemble classical music, until some musicians gathered in the church (one being myself) realized what it was.
2. A trumpet “wedding march” that, once the trumpet player missed a note, ended in the ubiquitous “battle charge” most often used at football games.
3. A small fox (apparently widely believed to be a “good omen” during a wedding) appeared through the floor to ceiling glass walls behind the altar that looked out over the Mississippi River. It was an incredibly adorable fox. Until it came closer to the glass and took a shit.

All of this took place before the reception that, though not as perilous for the couple, proved itself to be almost as funny (mainly because of Kevin’s perfectly compiled cd’s given to the DJ being replaced by the DJ’s own choices, beginning with the reception standard “Brickhouse” - primarily hilarious because of Kevin’s frantic and bewildered reaction). The wedding and reception stand, to this day, as the most amazing I’ve ever been to. Both because they so clearly adored one another and because it was so fucking hilarious. But I digress (and it was so worth it)...

I interviewed Kevin over the phone and recorded the entire thing. Do not be concerned: I have edited key portions and they will soon be available for your listening displeasure. Initially I attempted to play “bad cop” (though my wife has often said that not only would I make an awful cop but would most definitely make an awful “bad cop” because I imitate movies and television too much - and she says I often do this with many “characters” I attempt to play - she lies, of course). I thought I was rather good. Kevin did not. Lori thought it was awful. Kevin called back and asked me why I was being a dick. I came clean. I told him about playing the “bad cop”. He was relieved. Relieved!

Seriously: think for a moment about his reaction. Virtually anyone else would consider my behavior to have been utterly absurd; absolutely ridiculous. Kevin was relieved that I was only playing a part and not being a asshole. As the re-tread adage goes, “It takes one to know one”. My wife has accepted that I am certifiably insane (though I have not). It has taken many years of living and putting up with me for her to come to this conclusion. It took Kevin two seconds. Because he is crazy too. Not melodramatic (this is a common accusation thrown at me), not entirely absurd (I am often entirely ignored by my closest friends and family - unjustly), or hysterical in the classical sense (also aimed at me - also incorrect, of course). Kevin got it because he is “mad”. His brand of madness does not resemble mine in the least. But they are somehow half-siblings. And he instinctively knew it; organically accepted it. Magic! We are both unjustly ignored and scolded by our much better and far sexier better halves. We have discussed this. The common experience is so uncommon it comes full circle: it is our common. Oh the satisfaction (oh the confusion?)!

 I created a carefully considered series of questions for the second portion of the interview. These questions directly involved music (or some attempt at it on my part). Though it required a great deal of pulling teeth (and many root canals), eventually Kevin answered the questions as I demanded they be answered. But towards the end I felt interviewed and uncomfortable. I’ve tried jokingly to do this same thing with Tim Mooney, Bob Frank, and James Finch and have been entirely successful. This was not the case with Kevin. His answers were beautifully strange. And beautifully Hemingway-esque-ly direct and final. It was disturbing and comforting at the same time. None of the other interviewees ever made me uncomfortable; left me at a loss for words like Kevin did (and you who know me know that if I am ever at a loss for words I will make words up). Sure, it was disarming. But as before it proved something: some odd kinship and a shared madness. Though the madness’ are dissimilar they know one another; they communicate. So it was uncomfortable and disarming which, for me, was comforting and revelatory.

Then Kevin did something truly strange. He called back to add one more fact to the conversation. Kevin told me he had been the boxing champion at The University of Memphis, a school in a city filled with people at home with violence, people quite good at it. He wasn’t bragging. He was adding lost information. I thought this was hilarious. Because I assumed it was untrue until it was confirmed by a number of people and ultimately Kevin’s best friend of many years, Mark Stuart. Yes, in fact, Kevin was the boxing champion. And just as others I’ve known who are truly good fighters, I look at Kevin and believe I could easily beat his ass. I’d be very, very wrong. And a lot of people were. Partially because (largely because) Kevin doesn’t appear to be anything remotely close to a “street fighting man”. And it’s not that he’s stoic or “knows his strength” in some ridiculous Zen way. He just doesn’t ever think about it. Doesn’t care. Because it would take up too much space in his brain reserved for too many other obsessions. But I really would like to see him kick the fucking shit out of some truly arrogant and useless cocksuckers in the Memphis music “scene”. For my own satisfaction. It’d be a brilliant fight between good and evil and good would win out. And I love the underdog (or the person who by all appearances is the underdog).

None of what I’ve mentioned up to this point has involved anything related to my record, to the part Kevin has played in making it what it has become, or to the process of working with him. And I don’t care. There’s more time for that. And Mr. Kevin Cubbins is more than deserving of more than one blog post. If you haven’t noticed, this blog post is by far the longest I’ve written. And I like it best. And it’s just the first part of it. Kevin has recorded additional music for the record, has mixed it, and has co-produced it. He’s in many ways made it what it is today. But more than anything he’s made me like it again. I didn’t listen to it for almost a year. I’d convinced myself, for a number of reasons, that it wasn’t worth it’s weight. And it’s not that Kevin Cubbins sat me down and told me it was great. He didn’t really say anything at all. He just made me believe again. He made my own shit exist for me again. Not just in regards to this record (a record I know now is good -and believe in it- whether you will think so or not). I don’t need anything, really. And don’t take this as some enlightened bullshit. I still hate myself. Don’t worry. I’m kinda not kidding at all.

I don’t know what Kevin did. Any asshole with a board full of faders and knobs can do something with a record. That’s not what happened. Any charlatan engineer or producer can convince an idiot musician that they are “brilliant”, that they are a “genius”, that something that’s never happened before is happening right here, right now. Kevin didn’t do that either. Those blessed with real magic don’t need endless racks of outboard vintage gear. Fuck your Neve.Those capable of true magic don’t need to lie. A Neumann doesn’t change shit. That’s why it’s magic. And believing in magic is for fools and children. God bless fools and children. Lazarus walks, the Virgin shows up at Lourdes (and that’s in France of all places), and people in Arkansas don’t get bitten by poisonous snakes. Kierkegaard advocated a leap of faith saying, “Because it is absurd I believe”. I believe. I do.

I don’t know why. So that happened. I guess. Ask Kevin. Ask the living disembodied disappointing ghosts of the perfect “Layla, and Other Assorted Love Songs”. Just don’t ask T-Bone Burnett, Tony Visconti, or Glyn Johns. And definitely not Joe Chicarelli. Because the charlatans and gurus and uninteresting motherfuckers are still running their mouths to Larry Crane (and he prints every interview and every letter to the editor those goofy bastards write) and to any fuckwad that’ll listen (and that’s a lot of fuckwads). Ask Kevin. He’ll tell you he just does it and he doesn’t know why you keep asking so many stupid questions. Insinuating it’s more than that will only make him uncomfortable. My record is Kevin’s, too. Because I said so. Fuck you.

Footnote: Ashley is four months pregnant now and it’s a boy. Today Kevin told me the name they’re going with right now, temporarily anyway, is Jack. I was so touched, of course, because naming your child after me (though it makes perfect sense) is always touching. Then it occurred to me after we got off the phone: she’s thinking about Jack Shepard. Damn. Regardless, we’ve come full circle back to ‘Lost’. And that’s a beautiful thing. Because it’ll make you cry. Unless you’re too amazingly hip to own a TV or watch a mainstream television show. In that case, go fuck yourself. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Beginner's Guide To Trench Warfare. Part 2 of a 4 Part Series: Mr. Tim Mooney: The Audio

Below is a four part series of audio clips recorded by myself in the studio today with Tim Mooney. I'm currently producing Bob Frank's record and was able to frankly speak with Timmy about several items. He didn't necessarily appreciate it, but I found it painful, enlightening, and deeply profound. At some point I was told in no uncertain terms to cease recording. I find this odd as Tim records me and other people incessantly at his "recording" studio. Oh the irony...

The first is a prime example of "The Mooney-ism" as mentioned in my previous blog post. A rare emotional moment was recorded. It felt very much like finding Sasquatch.

The second is Tim's rebuttal to a statement I made in the previous post. As you can hear, I was heartbroken.

 "I'm gonna ask you a very straightforward question....."

Timbo "On Communication"