Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ashes To Ashes


 “He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought that the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and that the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.”

Friday, July 5, 2019

This Glorious Struggle

Martha,

Today was not the brightest of days. After a canceled flight we suffered an endless layover at DFW. The hour was early, so no food was to be had (the troops had a craving to fill their stomachs with Panda Express). I am sad to say once we took flight the turbulence took its toll and the sick bags were bile-filled. Please send wishes for our continued travels (and our hopes that our luggage isn't lost).

With love,
George

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Going For The Jugular


Fare thee well to Alfred E. Newman and and the Usual Gang of Idiots. I'll admit that I cannot recall the last time I copped an issue of MAD Magazine, but it did help shape me as a kid — I would pour over the issues letting myself get lost in the irreverence — and I am super bummed to hear that they're ceasing publication. Rest In Peace.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Everyman


After a heavy day, I rolled up to my local for a downtime martini and ended up talking to this guy rocking a Make America Read Again pin. After chatting about literature for a bit, it came out that he was a longtime bookseller and dear friends with  Philip Roth. I of course kept him at the bar telling me Roth stories, all of which reaffirmed my admiration for the man, beyond his written words. What a great, random and perfect New York City moment.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

No Accountability


"As I sit here today, I can't help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to. Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. It's an embarrassment to the country and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren't here. But you won't be, because accountability doesn't appear to be something that occurs in this chamber."

Monday, June 3, 2019

Where Do I Stand?


I end up at a row of benches on the edge of what looks like it could be Riverside Park, and a group of people from my past are holding court. They're all set up like we were as kids: brown paper bagged 40s, a boombox, legs lazily splayed, but it almost feels like an official meeting. I'm there for an evaluation of my life, but there are no judgements. It's all warmth, laughs and advice, none of which I can remember afterwards, still it's somehow both stressful and soothing at the same time.

Photograph fragment by Jill Freedman

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Cluttered Twist Of Fate

"Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones..."

Saturday, June 1, 2019

I Have Always Been Here Before


I don't recall the first time I heard the album, but I know I scored it at Midnight Records and had my mind blown immediately after putting it on the turntable (before that day I only knew "You're Gonna Miss Me" from compilations). After obsessing over the 13th Floor Elevators small discography, I became even more obsessed with Roky's solo work, which to me equals, and at times transcends the glorious sounds he made with the Elevators. And then years after that, Roky finally made it to Brooklyn, playing at the much-missed Southpaw. The truly electric anticipation in that packed room was pure magic, and once he hit the stage it was like an explosion of thankfulness; an evening of musical solidarity that's hard to describe and a memory that I'll treasure forever. Roky Erickson had a rough life, but he brought joy to countless people, leaving a legacy that's nearly unequalled. We miss you now that you're gone. Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

All That Remains

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub, you'd be boiled to death before you knew it. There were stories in the newspapers, of course, corpses in ditches or the woods, bludgeoned to death or mutilated, interfered with, as they used to say, but they were about other women, and the men who did such things were other men. None of them were the men we knew. The newspaper stories were like dreams to us, bad dreams dreamt by others. How awful, we would say, and they were, but they were awful without being believable. There were too melodramatic, they had a dimension that was not the dimension of our lives. We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Continuing Proletarian Institution


"The first of May demanded the introduction of the eight-hour day. But even after this goal was reached, May Day was not given up. As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met, May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands. And, when better days dawn, when the working class of the world has won its deliverance then too humanity will probably celebrate May Day in honor of the bitter struggles and the many sufferings of the past."

The Triumph Of Labour poster by Walkter Crane and Henry Schell, 1891
Words by Rosa Luxembourg from What Are the Origins of May Day?, 1894

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Ghosts Of Cable Street


"And so we learn from history, generations have to fight. And those who crave for mastery, must be faced down on sight. And if that means by words, by fists, by stones, or by the gun. Remember those who stood up for their daughters and their sons. Listen to the sound of marching feet, and the voices of the ghosts of Cable Street."

Monday, April 22, 2019

Never Explained




A damaged sonic masterpiece, channeling the Byrds through a haze of chip shop fumes, spilled lager, and total despair.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Attainment Of Social Freedom


"How can people in general — and young people in particular — develop a sense of mission which will inspire them with a new joy in living and give dignity to their existence? There is no other way than that of devoting ourselves to the realization of great impersonal tasks, such as that of attaining a new stage in the human condition, until now degraded by its division into the privileged and the dispossessed."

Words from Salvador Allende's first speech to the Chilean parliament after his election, 1970

Thursday, March 14, 2019

High On Rebellion


"It's just Halloween. I've got my Bob Dylan mask on. I'm masquerading." -Dylan, 1964

Photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Strikes Again


Hal Blaine
Rest In Peace

Fare thee well to the heartbeat of the Wrecking Crew. Hal Blaine played on “Be My Baby,” "He's A Rebel," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "River Deep – Mountain High," "Hungry," "Kicks," "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies," "Let's Live for Today," "Surf City," "Strangers in the Night," "Dizzy," "Good Vibrations," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Another Saturday Night," "Eve of Destruction," "California Dreamin', "Sweet Young Thing," "Along Comes Mary," "Return to Sender," "Stoned Soul Picnic," three of my all-time favorite albums (Forever Changes, Bookends, and Pet Sounds), and on and on and on... The man recorded an estimated 6000 singles!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Portrait Of The City As A Young Yuppie


It's heartbreaking to get the news that the White Horse was sold to real estate scum, who will surely strip every bit of history from that storied room. Dylan Thomas must be spinning in his grave.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Blood On A Nation's Hands


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Monday, February 25, 2019

Abandoned Love


I was thinking about my favorite songs, and while there's loads of them, this is the first song that I can recall really hitting me in a deep emotional place. Warren Zevon was a genius lyricist/songwriter, who handled his own death with dignity and humor that was breathtaking — if you've never seen it, run to YouTube and find his final appearance on The Letterman Show from shortly before he left this mortal coil. It's a real travesty that he's only well-known for one damn song as he was a national treasure. (Zevon was the first, and only artist I sent a fan letter to. It was a drawing I did of a werewolf eating in a Chinese restaurant when I was a kid. He never wrote me back, but I didn't hold it against him.)

An interesting side-story with the song: Zevon and Bob Dylan seemed to have a bit of an insider trade-off with the lyrics. Zevon wrote: "We made mad love. Shadow love. Random love. And abandoned love. Accidentally like a martyr. The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder," likely a reference to Dylan's "Abandoned Love." Dylan seemed to repay the mention by titling his 1997 album Time Out Of Mind referencing this bit: "The days slide by. Should have done, should have done, we all sigh. Never thought I'd ever be so lonely. After such a long, long time. Time out of mind." Dylan also covered "Accidentally Like A Martyr" live in concert a number of times.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Matriarch of The People's Playground


Lula Vourderis
Rest In Peace

"From a small pushcart to an empire; whether it was feeding the homeless on top of or under the boardwalk; Lula never forgot her days without food. Deno's Snack Bar became a landmark on the Boardwalk. Visitors came to the park for Lula's shish kebob, fried shrimp and cotton candy. Lula and her husband, Denos, eventually bought the park with hard earned monies saved up from selling all that delicious food."

Photograph: Lula and Denos Vourderis in front of the Wonder Wheel, 1983

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Circles


"What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!'

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? ... Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?"

From The Gay Science, 1882

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Creation Rebel

Today I saw my daughter to be with the help of next-level modern technology and it really got me thinking... I’ve destroyed a lot of things in my lifetime — public property, personal property, bones, brain cells, relationships — so it’s pretty mind-blowing to realize that I’m having a part in bringing someone into this world; in a sense, creating. I truly never thought this would be something I’d experience, and I’m enjoying taking it all in and figuring it out as I go. I am pretty sure L knows what to do. (She’s going to be the best mother ever.) Me? I’m happily clueless and trying to embrace it all.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Means To An End


It's crucial to remember that a lack of understanding of people different from you — their collective experiences and culture — leads to desensitization, and ultimately dehumanization. Dehumanization is is a powerful tool which craven politicians use to fool people into accepting what should be the unacceptable, and as history has taught us, the unspeakable.

Art (Brush Mirror Watch) by Peter Ransom © 1984

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Principles And Perspective


A few recent ugly events that were recorded on "smart" phones and amplified via social media exposure — Proud Boys vs AntiFa in NYC, Catholic high school students vs Native American activists in DC, etc. — have me realizing how Rashomon was truly a prescient film.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Searching For A Future


Lorna Doom
Rest In Peace

The first time I heard the Germs — via The Decline Of Western Civilization documentary — I thought they were the worst thing I'd ever heard; a joke. Years later I picked up a copy of their debut album (GI), and within one listen my jaw was on the floor — I truly believe it to be one of the very best American punk-rock albums of all-time. And Lorna was a total-bad ass who left us way too young.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Freedom Is Always The Freedom Of Dissenters


"To be a human being means to joyfully toss your entire life ‘on the giant scales of fate’ if it must be so, and at the same time to rejoice in the brightness of every day and the beauty of every cloud."

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Making The Scene


A lifetime ago MaximumRockNRoll was a crucial monthly read; through its pages I was turned onto countless underground punk bands and record labels (and I even wrote a few NYC "scene reports" for the 'zine, and sold my own publication and record releases via ads I ran with them exclusively). I stopped reading MRR long ago as I lost interest in pouring through the finger-staining pages for what became diminishing returns, and I also felt that their eventual scene-policing ways, strict rules, and definitions were anathema to the true spirt of punk-rock. Criticisms aside, MaximumRockNRoll was an important publication and I am sad to hear they are ceasing publication.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Hurry, Get On, Now It's Coming


Avoiding stepping in human waste in the alley near the A-train stop, meeting other graffiti writers from all over the city, copping fireworks, liberating fat caps from Pearl Paint, buying throwing stars and nunchucks... Going to Canal Street in the early '80s was a real adventure for us Brooklyn kids.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Humans Are Garbage


Extinction is happening at 1000 times the normal speed with the Eastern Puma being declared extinct, the recently discovered "lost shark" looking like it's on it's way (due to overfishing) as well as nearly all species of lemur, the White Rhino, and English Brown Hares. The growth in toxic emissions worldwide will likely introduce a generation of sick kids (carbon emissions in this country recently hit the largest yearly increase in 20 years), the Joshua Tree National Park is closed due to trees being destroyed and people leaving behind mass amounts of trash (the government shutdown isn't helping matters), and oceans are heating up at a rate that's 40% faster than earlier estimates with rising water temperatures destroying ecosystems, not to mentioned increasing the destructive power of hurricanes.