Monday, May 31, 2010

Don't Forget About Lou

After all, he is Lou.

Here's a killer video of Sister Ray, with Robert Quine on guitar.

Lou Reed, New York, 1989.
This is an insanely great record. I like Dirty Boulevard, Busload of Faith, Straw Man and Romeo Had Juliet.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Cooperative Model

We human beings can do better. It is high time we release ourselves from the violence and ecological disaster of human history.
I propose an end to hierarchical, top down structural models. Yup, the stuff found at your job, government, school and other institutions we encounter in daily life. We need to share responsibility, with its burdens and rewards, in cooperative structures. Whenever and wherever power is concentrated in few hands, the natural outgrowth is greed and abuse.
Condescending, patronizing elites may argue that the masses can't shoulder responsibility. This argument underlines their fear of losing power and control.
It's noteworthy that Dutch and English settlers in the Northeast (of what is now the United States) marveled at the egalitarian cultures of the Iroquois and Algonquin Indian federations. It's generally acknowledged that the new country was influenced by their democratic models (native American societies in other areas were top down hierarchical).
In industrial and post industrial modern times, we have no functional large scale cooperative nation state models. With the Soviet Union, Lenin imposed a dictatorship out of a war situation, and Stalin took it to insane heights as history's bloodiest dictator. Not cooperative! Nor communist, really.
I am not a Marxist, but I have been a member of four successful co-ops, each of which delivered equal benefits to all members, while exacting labor or fees from them.
Co-ops are beautifully self regulating, like water finding its own level. If the members lose interest, they ultimately collapse like the Amherst Food Co-op I was once part of. No problem, it served its members well during its tenure. Another, Warehouse Artist Studios in Eugene, Oregon, provided great, inexpensive studio space to a dozen artists for several years, even surviving a manager/member who was embezzling funds!
Hierarchical, top down structures are outmoded, serving only the polities (okay, the swindlers, megalomaniacs and thieves) at the top.

Some other time I have to address the problem of power structures that use force and violence to gain and maintain power. That is a huge mess that dovetails with my subject here, but will need to be tackled separately.
I've been thinking like this for a long time. That is why I've taken part in several co-ops. They are messy, but I'm willing to take the risk and do the work to develop the co-op model.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Ballad of the Bug

Here is Ballad of the Bug, pretty much the theme song for my new graphic novel, El Vocho. I wrote the lyric and the music was composed by Todd Spiehler.

This summer I'll be in the states promoting El Vocho and performing my tunes. I'm setting up dates now, so far I'm confirmed at the Mercury Cafe in San Francisco for 7:30 p.m., Thursday July 22. It will be a fun night as I'll be joined by my old friend Scott Hoover on bass, and we'll be playing with two guitars, bass and drums.

You might ask, why is this here cartoon dude gettin' into guitar slinging?

It started when I moved to Oaxaca in southern Mexico close to three years ago with my wife and two kids, looking to enjoy this cultured city, and an easier pace of life.

Before long, I met the aforementioned Todd Spiehler, a great guy who extended an invitation to jam on Thursdays with a loose confederation of musicians known as the Bodega Boys.

Not only do the Bodega Boys have a heck of a lot of fun playing musical styles from country blues and bluegrass to rock & roll, but they embrace the Oaxacan tradition of enjoying fine mezcal, the local spirit distilled from the maguey cactus. This is smokey, smooth stuff with a real mystique -- the best mezcal is made at country stills in the villages and valleys of Oaxaca state.

Did I mention that the Thursday night host of the Bodega Boys, Tony Raab, is a master distiller who crafts the best Mezcal this side of Monte Alban about 60 meters from the Bodega where we jam? You get the picture, we never fail to have a good time when we tune up and howl out a few tunes.

I really caught the fever for playing live music, I've pretty much gone Oaxacabilly. So, as I've worked on my El Vocho book these last couple years, I simultaneously penned a stack of tunes. I've been beating them into performable shape (I hope) and I'm gonna put myself on the line with them when I hit the states this summer. Maybe I'll see you then.

You never know who is gonna turn up at the Bodega! I'm jammin' here with Kim Berly of the Stampeders, premier Canadian rockers, and on stand up bass is John Harlin, noted expert mountaineer. Photo by Tania Roman

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ripe Pineapple Drunk

Here's a rough version of Ripe Pineapple Drunk, a song I wrote about Corn, Biodiversity and the Monsanto Corporation. And about being a hippy and a punk.

I'm gonna polish up my tunes and get around the states this summer, caterwauling with my guitar and promoting my new book El Vocho. Also gonna get some decent recordings done.

I've been fumblin' around like a Caveman trying to figure out how to embed my tunes in this here blog. I done got sore thumbs bangin' away at Google, messing with code. Me sorta dumb about this stuff, and I could not get a handle on it.
So I went beggin' to Nate Beaty, world class cartoonist and webster supreme. It took Nate like 5 seconds to generate the info I needed (try DivShare). Hey Nate, I owe you a Mezcal. Or an ice cream cone, or something as good as your advice! Thanks!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A New Chapter in My Life as A Teenage Werewolf

Since I moved to Oaxaca almost 3 years ago, I've sort of been drafted into The Bodega Boys, a local "Oaxacabilly" band. Inspired by the thrill & fun of playing live music, I've penned a number of my own tunes and I'm gonna be performing in the U.S. this summer as I tour in support of my upcoming graphic novel, El Vocho.
I've begun experimenting with recording and I'm looking to issue an Ipad version of the book which will include the songs in it. That being the case, I'm trying to figure out how the hell to post music on the web in some functional way that is relatively easy for me, and accessible to anyone foolish enough to listen to my caterwauling.
So here it is, a link to my page over at lastFM. This is just a little trial to see how it all works.
Truth is, I'm gonna get myself in a decent recording studio and get down some reasonably tight, well recorded versions of my tunes before going much farther with posting music, but ya gotta start somewhere and assess how to proceed, so there it is!
There are two songs on the page, a cover of the traditional tune John Hardy, and my homage to the Cramps, You Got That Hair.
They are set up for free download.

You Got That Hair!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Email is Dead

For awhile I've suspected that I'm an anachronism -- that is to say, I like email and it's my primary mode of personal and business communication.

Serena has been telling me for awhile that people don't email anymore, they just send Facebook messages. Easier, lower stakes/commitment. Breezy.

And of course, half the world are already cyborgs, with a blackberry or iphone all but grafted onto their face. Yes, I'm one of those Luddites who expects people to have a conversation with me when they are having a conversation with me, as opposed to compulsively staring at and molesting their electronic brain/external digital Id. I know, I'm a 53 year old guy, my thumbs don't text, not yet anyway.

Still, I earnestly sit and compose emails. I carefully consider my spelling, meaning and grammar, and indeed I edit before pressing send. Well, most of the time, anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm experiencing a sort of diminishing return on my (hopefully) pithy and eloquent efforts. People are not emailing me back! And I'm not even asking for money! Taking the digital pulse of communication, I can only come to one conclusion: Email is dead!