Monday, April 28, 2014


is the engine of the world...

I was on the fence about Matisyahu when King Without a Crown broke through and became a minor hit.  The Jewish Orthodox Dancehall Toaster thing wasn't enough to sell me because the upbeat "sunny" reggae wasn't the kind I gravitate towards.  Then came this one, and my tune changed.  I'm definitely a fan of Dub-Reggae and it's that element of 70s reggae that bled into Punk and even later Hardcore and Metal to create a hybrid that taps into something in me like no other music.  Youth gets into that.  But beyond that it touches on a reality the world struggles to digest, its parasitic relationship with its offspring.  No one likes to train their replacement, it heralds the numbering of their days, but that's what we are here to do.  We are torch bearers and the young are better equipped to run farther and faster.  The shame is that they could do so with greater success with knowledgeable guidance from those who've ventured down the road ahead of them.  That part of the process is dying.

The modus operandi in the current state of the world is to exploit the youth and naivete of the inexperienced. Their enthusiasm and zeal are cultivated to further the journey of the experienced and empowered beyond what would otherwise be the end of  reign as Torch Bearers.  As the embittered and world weary cling to the fruits of their labor and horde the spoils of  the youth they lost by controlling the machinery of society to facilitate their desires for more, the heart and soul of the young are exhausted.  The resulting carbon emissions are disenchantment and nihilism.

If you want an engine to keep running you have to maintain it.  Instead society has taken a bent towards running its engine into the ground.  Youth fades younger and younger these days.  We push adult ideas and responsibility onto children to spare ourselves of having to protect them from the corruption of the world for a longer period of time, or being faced with having discussions with children when they are mature enough to raise their own questions rather than taking our ideas and biases at face value because they are young, innocent, and trust us above all else because we are all they know of life.

Youth shouldn't be synonymous with age, or the idea of ignorance.  It's a condition, one that is relative to the party displaying it.  Working with young people can age you, or it can keep you youthful.  It's all a matter of what role you play with the youth, and what role you allow them to play.  If they are allowed to grow and learn in a constructive way they will eventually learn everything you can teach them, and will be suited to fill the role you occupy.  There's nothing wrong with that.  They just need to understand the value of doing so honorably, and more than that, the value of working together while you can, because having someone to share a labor with equal or superior skill and experience is a blessing.  It saves both parties the strain of having to take a labor upon one's self.  What youth we have, regardless of age, when shared, extends our years and enhances our vitality.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I first heard this song while manning the counter of Rinehart's Sound Shoppe in the summer of 1998 via the double disc Lilith Fair Vol. 1 cd.  I want to say it was track 9 on disc one {It was actually track 7 on disc 2}.  It was my first exposure to Shawn Colvin's music.  The song, one among many standout tracks from incredible and legendary talents who were featured on that tour, stood out.  The version on that disc was more intimate thanks to being driven primarily by acoustic guitar and voice. The tone suited my mood at that time. In the midst of upheaval, much of which was partly my own doing, I felt my life was at a turning point.  Was I content on the path I seemed to be headed on?  How was I going to process everything that came before the moment that song emerged as a sign post to my own moment on clarity & self-awareness?

"Trouble" felt like an uncanny representation of the problem I found prevalent in the preceding years of my adolescence. The man I was becoming was crippled by the wounds of a damaged and emotionally complicating childhood.  As a teen my propensity for enabling and codependency was an unknown quantity to me. I was so ( arguably & justifiably ) withdrawn that I lacked the capacity to develop any personal relationship with enough depth/ attachment to expose my propensity for enabling and codependency. Those particular character flaws would become a personal demon of mine, short-circuiting efforts to be empathetic, friendly, and romantic.  I haven't come back to this song very often since 1998 or 1999, but old truths don't really age. My goal, since I recognized my propensity to gravitate towards dysfunction, has been to circumvent my personality quirks and flawed emotional idiosyncrasies.  "Trouble" comes to mind every time I get a hint that I'm on a familiar path, a reminder to not only Know Better, but to Do Better, by myself, and everyone else. Until I master that skill, I have these fortuitous words of wisdom to humble me:

Trouble -
By: Shawn Colvin, John Leventhal and Tom Littlefield
Baby let me set you down
You look so troubled and I think I know
Just when you think you've come around
There you go
Now I know the business of the heart
And it'll get you anyway it can
You need someone to walk with in the dark, well
I'm your man
I go to the trouble like a magnet
That's where I'll be
Trouble is just a place to sing
It's what you need
I swear you look like you're in jail
And all at once you're halfway out the door
One foot dancing, one foot nailed
To the floor
Chasing those circles in the ground
The same old shit is still the same old lie
Just when you think you've got it down
Watch it fly
I go to the trouble like a light
Or like a dare
Trouble is just a friend to me, I know
It'll always be there
It's really hard to make your peace
So give me some credit for the hell I've paid
This world's a blessing and a beast
So come on baby let me show you how
The less you know the more I comprehend
You don't have to drag me down
I descend
I go to the trouble and I like it
That's where I'll be
Trouble is just like love, if it's half the way
It's all I can see
And it's just what you need

Saturday, April 19, 2014


When all else fails, sometimes you just have to start over from scratch, when possible.  That's the theme for this week.  Things that seem reliable turn into things that require so much maintenance it seems there is no justifiable reason to stick with them, other than masochism.  That was my experience with technology courtesy of a fatal error prompted by a Microsoft Update on Two Computers that rendered them inoperative.  One required a complete reformatting of the machine, the other an extensive system repair.

In the realm of the flesh and blood the same happened.  I'd been coasting on an approach to life that seemed to work but it was taking its toll and there didn't seem to be much I could do to adjust the trajectory of my shortfalls and deficits.  It had gotten to the point where I was willing to just blow everything off for the sake of some peace of mind.  All that does is corner you into making a choice between further alienating yourself from the existence you have created for yourself, or forcing your hand to do something because you have no other choice.  Either situation creates pressure and desperation.  In my effort to come up with the simplest life rules to pass along to anyone who'll listen, I've got one to add to my list which was three, and now four:

1. Don't Mess Up.
2. When you do mess up, learn from your mistake and don't do it again.
3. Don't be desperate.
4. When you feel desperate, if possible, stop what you're doing and reconsider the 1st rule.

Friday, April 11, 2014


The only way to see things clearly, is to be open to seeing things in the first place.  Clarity requires a unique combination of focus and a wide field of vision.  Are you really seeing things clearly if you have blind spots, or too narrow a perspective?

I've decided to open up my eyes a little more these days, perk up my ears, let down my guard.  I've decided to look on the bright side when you would think times were dark, and have found that nothing could be further from the truth.  It's all a matter of how you look at it.  When you see things clearly, the truth reveals itself.  The truth will set you free.

To me, this song, which opens the album Heavier Things, is a fusion of aesthetics, an anthem for the recombination of styles that happens when people are optimistic about the potential of things changing, rather than retreating from uncertainty and entrenching themselves in what's familiar.  I LOVE this song, it's so blissful, and yet so groovy.  It makes you want to whistle, it makes you want to nod your head or dance.  It makes you want to smile. It's a happy reunion with a kindred spirit.  It's the sound of being able to see the good in people, the promise in life.

Friday, April 4, 2014

God Put A Smile On Your Face.

Man plans, God* laughs...

I'm fond of Scientific Reasoning, and Logic.  They are the mortar to the bricks of reality as I know it.  They are an owner's manual to this corporeal reality.  But they fail.  They completely fall apart; and not at some tricky point in the future, but simply at the point of origin.

Science is built on causal relationships, basic cause and effect.  First comes this, then comes that.  Every step closer we come to the "beginning of the universe" the closer we come to the befuddling reality that existence sprang out of nothingness, or simply out of some other state that preceded it, that we simply chose not to consider part of existence as we understand it.  This defies logic, and requires a certain suspension of disbelief.

Logically, you can't get something from nothing.  "Nature abhors a vacuum." The Universe can't emerge out of nothingness. Matter is neither created nor destroyed, so something had to proceed the Universe in its current state; and if so, what preceded that? Perhaps the Universe cycles from the state it was in prior to our existence beginning and back again in an infinite loop?  But where did this loop come from?  How did that happen?

The only answer at this point, is a cliche, "Que sera, sera."  "It is what it is." "What shall be, shall be." In logic, that's called Circular Reasoning. An example would be an argument like so, "It is that way because that is the way it is." You can't argue with the statement because it proves itself.  This is called a Tautology. You can't refute or defend Circular Reasoning or a Tautological Argument, and as such they are considered invalid arguments and unscientific.

Even though false arguments are frowned upon, it's impossible to avoid asserting one basic Tautology right under our noses, one indispensable for all reasoning, Scientific or Philosophical: The Universe's existence is self-evident by our perception of it.  Even if we accept that as a starting point for our reasoning within the constraints of science and philosophy our perception and understanding of the Universe and Reality is inherently limited.  We live in a room, and there is a door that is closed. To make sense of the room, we have to assume that the door doesn't open. We come to a point where we know and understand the contents of the room like the back our hands, but there's still that door. If it opens, we have no explanation or justification for what lies beyond the door, even if, especially if, it's nothing at all.

If a wise man build's his house upon the rock, what are we if the crux of our scientific understanding of the universe defies logic and sets an arbitrary beginning to existence? The only rectification of that limited understanding of our Universe and its nature seems to require Omniscience, and belief in the concept of Omniscience is generally deemed unscientific and illogical. But what is the aim of Scientific Inquiry & Philosophy if not some measure of Omniscience? Again, when turned upon themselves, logical arguments and scientific reasoning collapse under their own weight, an intellectual black hole.  If so, what constitutes an intellectual white hole?

All of this makes the significance and uniqueness of being alive in the midst of this reality all the greater. There is no greater miracle than having the power to perceive. When I look it that way, the hubris that people have when they speak of Knowing, rather than Accepting an idea about the reality we exist in, I can't help but feel that the joke is on them, as if I'm in on the joke. In reality, the joke's on me too. Better to laugh with, than be laughed at.

*For the purposes of argument, the nature or conceptualization of God is a matter of individual perception of omnipresent omnipotent omniscience, which is in itself a limiting qualification. The irony of that doesn't escape me, it's actually the point.