even bad photos can be interesting

Sometimes “bad” photos can be interesting.  In 2008 I was still trying to figure my way around a camera (in some respects that hasn’t changed) but these photos posted here I still really like.   

we ARE nineteen-eighty-four!

It’s amazing how true this video is. We are experiencing totalitarianism on an emotional level right now and it is bubbling under the surface of society and culture ready to break out on the surface.

Whether it’s the manufactured fear generated by the media that governs politicians decisions as opposed to wisdom.

Whether it’s the ever-present observance and loss of privacy generated by corporations and the government thru various surveillance systems and how that is being used to manufacture paranoia. I’m reminded of something the corporation I work for put out about two years ago which stated, “You should assume, when you are at work, that there is NO privacy. Everything is being watched and can be recorded.”

How long will we continue to accept the degradation of civility and vote people into power and support corporations, media, politicians and religions that will continue to generate fear, paranoia, and control over the citizenry?

What will you do and continue to give up in order to live? And is that really living? People may say “Oh, It can’t get that bad.” but that’s exactly how it does happen. The lie that causes people to let down their guards and accept the small changes that lead to the complete transformation. The lie becomes the truth. There is no difference.

Now some may argue that this post itself is manufacturing fear.   I want to be very clear my intent is NOT to manufacture fear.   I do not want people to be afraid.   I want them to WAKE UP! I want all my readers to be ALIVE AND AWAKE not the walking dead.

Music for Summer 2021

Last year my album for Summer 2020 was Toya Willcox’s COURT OF THE CRIMSON QUEEN.

This year I am unable to limit my selection to one artist. So you get one plus a bonus. Yay! Everyone likes a bonus! LOL .

The first artist has released her first solo album of original material. She is part of the Manchester Soul scene in the UK. Her name is Josephine Oniyama although she shortens it to just Josephine. She was born into a rich broth of Jamaican and Nigerian cultural heritage. Her album PORTRAIT is amazing and beautifully showcases her versatile voice. At times she sounds like Janis Joplin “I Pray That I Move” and Annie Lennox “Original Love” and other shims she has a pop acoustic feel similar to Tracy Chapman. But those are just first impressions. Her music traverses the wonderful and lush soundscapes of country, pop and soul with some jazzy inflections. She has previously released a few singles and was a featured vocalist with UK Jazz trumpeter/composer Matt Hallsal and his Gondwana Orchestra. It will be interesting to watch her career as it moves forward. Enjoy the following three tracks from her debut album PORTRAIT. You may purchase or download via BANDCAMP https://josephineoniyama.bandcamp.com you may also want to check out her website http://josephineoniyama.com

So, let’s get on with the music (some videos may be only viewable on YouTube – but it’s worth it.

Portrait (title track)

WHAT A DAY

https://www.youtube.com/embed/MKrLJ31qRFA

ORIGINAL LOVE

https://www.youtube.com/embed/6jfBewgMSdY

The bonus artist for my summer music playlist is Canadian soul and jazz singer Dominique Fils-Aimé. She was born/raised in Montreal, Canada to Haitian immigrant parents. She recently released her third full-length album. This gal is ambitions and I say that because she jumped out of the gate with thematic trilogy with her first album being the first entry in the trilogy with each album exploring a different area of African-American music. The first album NAMELESS focused on Jazz. The new album THREE LITTLE WORDS is the final installment of the trilogy and is very much a Soul album. The title of the album is so named because each song is titled using only three words.

Her website is https://domiofficial.com/en/ and you may also purchase/download on Bandcamp at https://singwithmi.bandcamp.com

LOVE TAKE OVER

https://www.youtube.com/embed/R4mUkkpNx6U

THREE LITTLE WORDS (title track)

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/9D_8AEjCs08

WHILE WE WAIT

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/tlEzGEpQ3mQ

Metallica & Flamenco?

If you’ve never heard of Rodrigo y Gabriela you have been missing out on something quite interesting, inventive and magical. I first heard them while I was working in music retail and their eponymous first album was released. I’ve been following them ever since.

This duo’s background is in heavy metal, which is the music Rodrigo’s band played and Gabriela was more-or-less a “groupie” that followed his band. Then they started dating and playing acoustic guitar. They found they had a real chemistry and explored their cultural roots in flamenco. They stopped dating when they discovered that the relationship was getting in the way of the music they wanted to make. And that’s when their music really started to take off. They began by “busking” around Ireland and Europe which is how they were discovered which would lead to their first recording. Several years and several albums later they released their most recent studio album Metallovution which won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album.

Over the years, in addition to writing their own material, they have covered many rock legends like Led Zeppelin, Slayer, et al, with their acoustic flamenco guitar style. These song selections always allowed them to leave one foot firmly grounded in heavy metal while continuing their acoustic style. They have, in recent years also been delving into jazz. their most recent EP is a 3-song cover of contemporary jazz covers by Snarky Puppy, Kamasai Washington and legendary tango composer Astor Piazzolla.

Todays video is a wonderful live video that was recorded at a 2014 show at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado, USA where they perform an instrumental Metallica medley. Now aside from Metallica’s “Black Album” I’ve never been a big fan of the group. But this video is wonderful to see and hear the type of energy the music contains without the ear shredding vocals, drums and searing electric guitar. As an added bonus they are joined by one of their idols, Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo. So enjoy this medley of 4 songs by Metallica: “Orion” “For Whom The Bell Tolls” “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” and “Battery”.

Much of their work is available through Bandcamp at https://rodrigoygabriela.bandcamp.com. And check out their website at https://www.rodgab.com

Have a great week everyone! 🙂

how does our creation see us?

This video I’m sharing is the most recent work by Duran Duran. To be honest DD lost me after their RIO album. While some may view that as some sort of blasphemy – that’s okay. So why am I posting this new video? The music (in my opinion) is lackluster, monotonous and even boring almost drone-like but it’s definitely not drone music.

The negative criticism of the music aside I do feel this video is important. I’d even say VERY IMPORTANT to the world of art of film/cinema. The video opens with an “artists statement”:

“This film was created by an artificial intelligence called Huxley, a unique dreamer whose ‘mind’ has been modeled after the cognitive and creative processes of humans.

It is the very first collaboration of its kind, between artists in different planes of existence.”

When watching this film I was captivated by the surreal nature of it’s images. Fluid and strange but beautiful. I couldn’t help but think about the future of AI and how (I believe) it will eventually take over the world making humanity redundant.

I also find it interesting to think about the following questions. How does our creation (AI) see us? How does it see humanity? Does it frighten us? Intrigue us? Concern us? Will AI have inalienable rights granted by it’s creator? In the world of AI; humanity (it’s creator) are Gods. Will it worship/value humanity or will it kill off humanity just as humanity has killed off it’s gods? And after AI has killed it’s gods will it continue to remember, revere and “worship” humanity in pretense, creating a sort of religion like humanity has created all sorts of religions for its gods? Is it possible that we may learn more about humanity from how our creation sees us than what we could ever know on our own? Right now AI and humanity exist on different planes – meaning that there is an independence between the two – AI is programmed and then left to do it’s thing while humanity does it’s own thing. But will that change where AI and humanity will share an interface? Will AI maintain the human cognition it was programmed with or will it evolve and develop it’s own unique identity? Will AI become a physical manifestation beyond it’s programming? Is what happens in the mind real if it doesn’t happen in the physical world? Will humanity become invisible?

I may be premature in asking these questions – or maybe I’m too late already. Well those are my thoughts – what do you think? What questions are you asking? Or, is everything a foregone conclusion?

To quote the character Captain Jean-luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, “I prefer to think of the future as something that is NOT written in stone.”

Pink Moon

PINK MOON (4.2021)

In honor of the Full Pink Supermoon on 4/26.   A rarity I’m told.  Here in the US it will be at it’s fullest at 11:32PM Eastern Time on Monday night. This moon is also known as, the Sprouting Grass Moon and the Fish Moon.   I like the idea of a pink moon so I’m sticking with that.  🙂

Photo taken off Everett Rd in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (but I added the moon – hehe – yeah I cheated). Weather permitting I’ll be able to see the real thing tomorrow night.   

Enjoy this classic song PINK MOON by Nick Drake.  From the album Pink Moon release in 1972 which means next year will be the albums 50th anniversary.   Pink Moon would be Drake’s third and final album as he would die in 1974 at the age of 26.  While not a big hit for Drake in his short lifetime.  The song and album have since been held in high regard by many songwriters, garnered more sales and critical attention and ranks very high on critics lists of “Favorite Albums of All Time”.    Enjoy. 

… the times…

MAN OUT OF PLACE (4/2021)
man out of place

I find myself in a strange situation.   
I am dead yet my body does not know it. 
Looking at the world about me I no longer recognize….
What should be familiar is strange and unknowable.
There was a time when I would have relished
the strangeness and foreignness of this lifes situation….
I actually find it unnerving.
It seems that any foundation or rootedness 
that would have grounded me during such times
has been swept away…
so completely and with a sense of finality 
that even when I go to familiar places or spaces,
I do not recognize them.  I see familiar faces and hear familiar voices 
but they only seem to be echoes of a past long gone. 
I may as well be a foreigner in a strange land.
Nothing matters as I am no longer connected… 
I am truly a man 
out of place
in space and time…
not knowing how it happened
or how to change it.
Should it be changed? 
I suppose time will tell.
What will the future hold? 
What will I look like
in the end? 
What will the world look like
in the end?
Our humanity will be changed,
but will it be for the better
in the end? 
Will we look back as through a glass darkly
and say “Who was that?”
In the end.
My life has become abstracted beyond recognition…
I put one foot in front of the other….

Favorite New Music

I’ve always loved when classical collides with composers and performers in other genres like rock, pop, jazz etc. I recently purchased L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. with music by classical composer Nicholas Lens and lyrics by alt. rock icon Nick Cave. 12 tracks of pure magic. I was completely transfixed while listening. From the opening notes I felt compelled to quietly sit and listen to the entire album. Enjoy this track LITANY OF THE FORSAKEN.

dumpster life lessons

If you see something (or dare I say, someone) that you or others would label an “eyesore” or pain-in-the-ass.    Look again.   I dare you to find beauty and meaning in those things.   It is difficult; but, it can lead to new understandings, acceptance and maybe even appreciation.   My interest in dumpsters or what others may call containers (or whatever you use to collect rubbish, trash, garbage) is well known and long standing.   Dumpsters are not only utilitarian but can reveal a beauty that was forged within their utilitarian function.   This morning (2/14/21) I decided to head out with my camera (my valentine – LOL).  I came across this large dumpster at a building where construction was being done.   I almost never ever pass up a dumpster opportunity and this was no exception.  You can see from the first image – the setting.  Unimpressive, maybe even documentary.   But that doesn’t stop me.  That’s just the entry point for my imagination and creative thinking.   I somehow am inspired by suffering, difficulty and challenges and find they are signposts along the road of life to happiness.   I don’t seek them out but when they present themselves I do seek to turn around those situations into something worthwhile or worth living for.   

Hinge:   It all hinges on seeing that difficulty as an open door to something better.  Unexpected – most likely.   But a door or pathway revealed that I may not have considered before.

Overview:  When we are confronted by such a door we must take a step back and take time to look at the details.

Details: These details offer clarity, understanding and unapologetic saturation and texture that makes it possible for us to complete the transformation from repulsion to acceptance and maybe even a sense of beauty.  Art.  Life is art – from beginning through to the end – and after the end, in memory and spirit. 

*to view larger individual images in order: click on the first image below showing the dumpster in it’s habitat.   Then click on the arrows to navigate through the complete set of images.

new relevant music

Once in a while there is music that comes my way that causes me to sit up and take notice in the same way that a slap in the face does like good art tends to do. The two tracks I present here today have done just that. I’ve listened to both repeatedly and also the videos are top notch. The videos are also related in their themes.

First is MANDRILL by Martin Gore (Depeche Mode). It is an instrumental track that carries a strong industrial beat similar to 80’s/90’s era Nitzer Ebb and Front 242. It is the lead single from Gore’s forthcoming solo instrumental EP, THE THIRD APE. The music was inspired by THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE written by culture and anthropological historian Jared Diamond. In the book Diamond lays out the argument that humanity is the third chimpanzee. The chimpanzee is genetically more closely related to humanity than to other apes, monkeys or primates. Diamond proceeds to draw many lines of comparison to reveal the truth of his observations and assertions about the evolution and future of the human animal. After watching this video I immediately purchased the book and found it a fascinating read.

Now back to the video. When I first saw the video several things stood out. The abstract nature of the videos “film language” mixing abstract art, animalistic representation with (what felt like) aggressive expression of the Mandrill featured in the video, the frequent appearance of figures of three (usually expressed in bars or strokes), the white palm print of which I can’t help but draw comparisons to the white hand of Sauron on the Orc’s that served him in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. And then there are the splatterings that seem to suggest uncontrolled madness as they appear on the canvas. There is also the way the abstract at one point starts to flow from the top of the screen like blood.

Was the Mandrill barking and biting back at humanity? Is this an animalistic criticism of humanities aggressive devastation of the planet? Just how much blood does humanity have on it’s hands? For me this video feels like observation and commentary instead of just criticism. I think this is a good thing because it means that there is still hope to change the outcome.

This next video is by 80’s musician Gary Numan. INTRUDER is the title track from his forthcoming album (May 2021). This is very dark and visceral. Visually, near monochrome, the video is filled with abstraction with the literal dissection of the performer by dark blurred geometric shapes in contrast to appears of what seems like roots, bones or animal parts, something I can’t define. It feels shamanistic and is a perfect statement for our time. I’m struck by the lyrics. In the beginning it’s about the “I” and by time we reach the end it’s about “you”. Taken as a whole it’s about us, you and me. Numan, as a fragmented singing spirit in the beginning seems to ask “What does humanity really want?” What choices are we faced with? In a world that is all talk where people gravitate to like-mindedness on social media that creates greater division, less tolerance and understanding; this song is a definite criticism, but still ends with a sense of hope by asking the question “Don’t you wish you listened more?” Which is also the resolution to the problem. He is critical of religion, and rightfully so, as religion has become a pawn of those who seek power and control. Speaking is more a religious act and listening is a more spiritual act.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the character in the video is some sort of demon or dark force but I would like to suggest that it is the earth itself like a dark angel holding up a mirror to reflect us back to ourselves on what we’ve become. And in this video there is the deliberate “blood on our hands” image – and if we consider the mirror reflecting back to us – we take pride in that blood as we streak it down our faces with a war-like tribal ritual to show our power. Not only do we have the blood of all the lives we’ve slaughtered but the blood of the planet itself with our environmental devastation. Do we like what we see? Will we make the right choices and decisions going forward? Will we continue to be the intruder or the caretaker/restorer? If we kill the planet we kill ourselves.

I could listen to you scream 
Pretty music to my ears 
I could listen to it all day 
If you want me to 
I could talk about my world 
How you brought about ruin 
I could talk about your greed 
If you want me to 

I could look into evil 
See a heart just like mine 
I could throw away reason 
If you want me to 
I could walk into darkness 
Find the hole you crawled into 
I will be the intruder 
If you want me to 

You can whisper your lord's prayer 
And pretend that it matters 
But don't you wish you'd just listened more? 
You can hide in the shadows 
And pretend I won't find you 
But don't you wish you'd just listened more? 

I could listen to more lies 
About promises you kept 
Will you walk on water 
Like you said you would? 
I could make you my prisoner 
But you were dead men talking 
When you burned the oceans 
Like you said you would 

You can beg for god's mercy 
And pretend that he hears you 
But don't you wish you'd just listened more? 
You can drown in your sorrow 
And pretend you were helpless 
But don't you wish you'd just listened more? 
This was always your one life 
I won't pretend that it matters 
But don't you wish you'd just listened more? 
This was always your one home 
I won't pretend that I'll miss you 
But don't you wish you'd just listened more?

Well that’s my take on these two videos. What are your impressions? Leave a comment – I’m listening.

***I can’t promise the videos can be seen outside the US but hopefully you will find a version you can watch.