WE ARE MEDIA (10/02/2021) Welcome citizen, WE are Media. WE are message. WE are massage. WE are information masturbation That you WILL enjoy. If you do not believe what WE tell you to believe, And if you do not act on what WE tell you to do, Even though WE show you only what WE believe you need to know, Even though WE show you a heavily redacted, edited, one-sided view, Even though, when WE do show an alternate view it is completely ridiculous, unbalanced and unbelievable, Then, you are a bad citizen. A bad and corrupt member of society. Suited only for OUR censorship. Dear citizen, You and WE both know that you, A mere individual, Are incapable of making an informed decision. Information is power that WE control for you. WE simplify the information for you. You are free only when WE say you are free. WE have done all the work for you. You may now bow down and thank US. You're welcome citizen. We are Media.
Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11 which, here in America, is still especially charged with emotion. The replayed images by the media that forever seared, the images of the after effects of the attack on the World Trade Center, into the memories, subconscious and conscious, of a generation.
I think it’s time to reconsider a film titled LAND OF PLENTY by Wim Wenders. At the time of it’s release (2004) it received only fair reviews and was not widely received and was quickly released on DVD. Maybe three years after 9/11 was still too soon for a film like this or maybe America just didn’t want to hear what the movie was saying. It is a contradictory film of desperation and quiet meditation. The title of the film comes from a Leonard Cohen song (that was also featured in the film) from his album TEN NEW SONGS which was released in October 2001. The film stars award winning actress Michelle Williams and television and film actor John Diehl . Williams plays Lana, a 20 year old who has spend most of her life living abroad in Africa and the Middle East with her missionary parents, has been described as a true citizen of the world who most recently was living in Israel and Palestine. She has a rich and active spiritual life and she has just come back home, to the United States, to see her Paul, her uncle (played by Diehl) who lives in his own home-made surveillance van and is a bigot and paranoid Vietnam veteran that spends his time spying on Arab Americans and sees conspiracy around every corner and has racist views of all people who do not represent his idea of America.
In the year 2000 America was still living as if it held and projected “a thousand points of light” – a phrase which comes from (then candidate) George H. W. Bush during his acceptance speech for President at the 1988 Republican National Convention. In the song, LAND OF PLENTY, Cohen writes, (possibly addressing Bush’s phrase?) “May the lights in the land of plenty shine on the truth one day”. And that phrase is key to this film as it seeks to shine on the truth of what happened to America in a fictional environment. What happened to American was not so much the attack on the World Trade Center but the attitudes, fear and behavioral changes that to often accompany a traumatic event where people have lost any connection to moral foundation. Now, sometimes, the only way to get to truth comes “time” and “being/looking outside the context”. When LAND OF PLENTY (film) was shot, in 2003, perhaps not enough time had passed for most people to form objective perceptions but Wenders, a masterful director of German birth, was able to be a light on the outside looking in. And that is an important factor in the truth-telling of this film. In their engagement and struggle to understand each other both main characters are constantly at odds in addressing the philosophical questions like “What happened to my country?”, “Where are we going?” and “How did we get here?” It is an engaging, challenging and important discussion if we are ever to regain our footing as citizens of the world.
There is plenty of dramatic tension thru-out the film that is balanced my moments of quiet, thoughtful meditation. Near the end of the film Lana (Williams) suggests they “listen to the voices” of those who had died because “I don’t think they would want any more killing in their name”. The characters then journey from Los Angeles and arrive in New York City at the 9/11 site (which was in the final stages of clean-up in 2003 when this film was shot). Both of the main characters, struck by the immensity and overwhelming sense of tragedy located in one place seems to bring them together into a final understanding as they “listen to the voices” . The viewer of the film is left with a sense that not only the attack should never happen again but also that our failed American response to such an attack should never happen again.
In the “making of” interview, on the DVD for the film, Wim Wenders states, “I tried to make a political film about America… patriotism, misguided patriotism, paranoia… I just didn’t want to make an opinionated film…. I wanted to depict where it was all coming from…. It’s a film with a lot of sympathy. Sympathy for the Americans, for their particular condition in the 21st century – the condition of lostness.” One of the persistent backdrops, settings, in the film is poverty, and Wim says, “It had also dawned on me that this rich country was, also in many ways, one of the poorest – not only economically but also culturally.” And speaking more about what his personal reasons were for making the film, “This film is totally from the heart and from my deepest convictions, politically, religiously, morally and it’s a relief to make a film like that.” And on the commentary track on the DVD at the very end of the film Wim says, ” I want this film to be a part of the healing”.
I think this is an important film and highly recommend we re-watch this film as we look back at the “anniversary” of one of the most horrific events in American history.
The trailer for the film (below) does not do justice so please watch the film.
Check out the Leonard Cohen song LAND OF PLENTY. https://youtu.be/YIs9rsroVas
A great song with a hilarious title and some funny as sin lyrics by one of the greatest living jazz singers from his forthcoming album SUPERBLUE. Enjoy.
pre order here https://editionrecords.com/releases/kurt-elling-superblue/
TOWER OF BABEL (19.8.21)
you turn on the TV blah blah blah you turn on the internet blah blah blah you turn on your cell phone blah blah blah our tower of babel moment everyone talking blah blah blah people listen only to what they want blah blah blah preaching to the choir blah blah blah our tower of babel moment we live in a versus world us vs. them black vs. white police vs. everyone republican vs. democrat vaccinated vs. unvaccinated Christian vs. Muslim enemy vs enemy against the other our tower of babel moment when we speak the same language we speak different languages we’ll go our separate ways enlarge the distance between our pride shamed our arrogance wounded our tower of babel moment otherwise, we can do anything together ---------------------------------------------------------- What if this passage is not an "origin story" on the evolution of language but instead an allegory on human arrogance and it's consequences? Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.... They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
In the early 2000’s I was working in music retail and was given a sampler of hot and popular music from Japan.
It featured some amazing artists and styles. A real ear-opener. One of the artists were Pizzicato Five. This group falls under the category of things I miss, and “whatever happened to….?” This is, in many ways pop fusion music with it’s blend of soul, pop, french chanson, Burt Bacharach etc. The music is cheery, upbeat, warm and smooth retro feel which is perfect for summer. I’m not sure what happened to this group. Unfortunately they never really made a hit in the US. And their music is hard to find. But here’s to happy music may it bring a little cheer to your summer.
I found these fun videos and they really do maintain the fun vibe of the music with their own hipster cool.
PIZZICATO FIVE / イッツ・ア・ビューティフル・デイ
PIZZICATO FIVE / 恋のルール・新しいルール
Pizzicato Five – Twiggy Twiggy
PIZZICATO FIVE / ベイビィ・ポータブル・ロック
PIZZICATO FIVE / 悲しい歌
Today it’s Ladies Choice for Barbershop Harmony. Within 10 years after Men started singing Barbershop Harmony women wanted to take part in harmonic action. They formed their own organization Sweet Adelines International 75 years ago for the encouragement and singing of barbershop harmony for women. Since most of the song in the catalog of mens barbershop singing are “about” women (evidenced by song title that provide the source for the Sweet Adelines) the Sweet Adelines have always been more open to contemporary songs and diversity. Today I want to present some of the many Sweet Adelines.
The 2019 Chorus Champions (also champions in 2018) – The Scottsdale Chorus with their winning performance
Continuing the festivities this next selection is by the Rönninge Show Chorus from Sweden under the direction of the woman who is credited with first bringing barbershop harmony singing to Sweden. Enjoy this performance highlighting music penned by Swedish composers.
2019 Quartet Champions – Class Ring with their “Swan Song Set”. (the Swan Song set is the performance they give after they win the Championship as part of an “all star show”.
From the 2015 Quartet Finals enjoy this performance by Windsor
2019 Mic Testers – HOT PURSUIT
And here is the website where you can find more information about Sweet Adelines https://sweetadelines.com
Today I’m going to focus on a type of music that does not get much press or recognition. It is often thought of as old-fashioned, old-timey, stuff your great grandparents listened to. One reason may be that it does not neatly fit into the established genres of music that have become culturally established.
I was fortunate enough to grow up and be raised in the Mennonite church. A Cappella music was all around. In church everyone sang and everyone sang in four-part harmony (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass). It was all hymns all the time. And I credit that for establishing at a very young age my entry point into music. What I mean by entry point is the primary attractor. For some people it may be the beat, the rhythm, melody, overall feel or for some, like me, it is harmony. Harmony is the first thing I hear that gets me sucked into the “world” the music creates. I love harmony!
As I was growing up and things like AM radio became common place in our household – I’ll always cherish my little handheld transistor radio with a small speaker and an earpiece that looked more like a hearing aid with it’s thinly coiled cord – nothing like the iPods we’ve become accustomed to. This little transistor radio was my constant companion as I was growing up (age 8-15, 1968-78). Otherwise we had black and white television set which was all we could afford and it was cheaper than the newer color one. But TV and AM radio exposed me to popular music and much of the music at that time had some sort of harmony (think Beach Boys, Chicago, America, The Association, Simon and Garfunkel, Seals and Crofts, etc) This listening further solidified my interest and love for harmony. I sang in all the school choirs, concert choir, show/swing choir etc.
As I grew up and my music tastes evolved into other genres etc harmony was never far away. After I had graduated from High School in 1978 – not wanting to go to college at that time – I got a job at a local retailer. A co-worker was involved in a local mens chorus called (The Wayneaires – which sadly no longer exists) that sang a music style called Barbershop. It is a cappella singing in 4 parts (lead, tenor, baritone and bass). I had great fun. I learned much including this notion of overtones and undertones (simply – a third audible unsung tone/note can be heard when the resonances of two or more other sung tones are combined). And, for me, when I hear overtones ringing it literally gives me chills it provokes a physical response that I seldom experience when listening to music. We did an annual show that featured the chorus (of about 45 members) and featured guest quartets from around the region. Always a theme. I did this for about 5 years and even sang in some quartets before I decided to go to college. At that time the music was mostly traditional barbershop songs like “Lida Rose”, “Sweet Adeline” etc with ever-changing arrangements. There was an organization called S.P.E.B.S.Q.A. (pronounced speb sqwa) and stood for the Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. Around 2004 it was changed simply to the Barbershop Harmony Society (whew! about time they got rid of that old mouthful – LOL). I have not sung Barbershop in the past 30+years but I still like to check it out occasionally and find it stronger and better than ever. There is a more diverse catalog of songs
There is always an international competition for Barbershop (2020 being the exception due to the pandemic) and there are 4 categories where a champion is named – Quartet, Chorus, Senior Quartet, Youth/Collegiate Quartet on which they are judged on music (selection/arrangement), singing and performance (of which humor can play a key role). Regarding performance we were taught it is about “filling the space”. not just with facial expressions but also body movements/choreography etc.
At the end of this post I will post links to the Barbershop Harmony Society website if you wish to know more about it’s history and much much more.
I will post videos of the 2019 champions for you to “taste”. And hopefully it will be as sweet for you as it is for me. And if/when you hear those overtones – feel free to let the goose flesh pop. LOL
***fyi – not sure – but you may have to watch videos on YouTube
First up – 2019 Chorus Champions (also Champions in 2007, 2010 & 2015)- The Westminster Chorus with their award winning performance of From Now On/Come Alive Medley (from The Greatest Showman) Be sure to go to YouTube and check out their 2015 Championship performance of “Seize the Day” from Newsies.
2019 Quartet Champions – Signature with their winning performance of Proud Mary (Ike and Tina Turner cover)
Also check out their other barbershop arrangements of Queen, Michael Jackson and other pop icons on YouTube.
Seniors Quartet Champions – DoubleDouble with one of their winning performances Green Green Grass of Home (parody). look for the the shift from serious to comedic around the 2 min mark. 🙂
2019 Youth/Collegiate Champions – Wildfire with their performance of Between You and the Birds and the Bees and Cupid.
While top 10 finalists compete for the title of Champion – the evening starts off with a mic test – it is a performance awarded the 11th place quartet and an opportunity to cut loose. This performance from 2015 is by one of the funniest quartets – The Newfangled Four (Youth/Collegiate Champions 2013) with their rendition of the vintage song Hello My Baby (through the years). Enjoy. *note – at the end they are joined by a singer from another Quartet called Instant Classic, who were the Champions of 2014.
And for you women out there – Barbershop Harmony is not only a mans thing – Women have their own version of the Barbershop Harmony Society called Sweet Adelines Intl. Look for more on that in my next post.
Learn More https://www.barbershop.org
I’m sure many of you have heard of K-Pop. Also known as Korean Pop. Well this is C-pop or Chinese Pop. Todays video is from a talent show called The Singer. I suppose the western equivalent would be a popular show (at least in the US) called The Voice. The song, Happy Heart was first made popular by Andy Williams where it spent 2 weeks at #1 on the charts. Petula Clark also had a hit with the same song at the very same time but hers charted highest at #12.
This wonderful song was co-written by easy listening legend James Last and canadian singer/songwriter Jackie Rae. This impassioned performance by Li Xiang Zhe & Zhai Li Suo Tian is pure delight and really swings! So who is who? Li is the guy that starts the song and the bearded guy is Zhai. I absolutely love when Li starts the line, “Music fills…” with that really gutsy sound and Zhai looks at him out the corner of his eye as if to say “where the hell did that come from?”, or maybe he’s thinking, “where’re you going with this?” Totally makes me smile.
It’s a sunny Monday here in Ohio so enjoy this sunny song. Smiles and Cheer.
In one of my earlier posts I gave links for some of my favorite websites. This video I’m posting today is from NASA. It’s the most recent edition of their regular series SPACECAST WEEKLY. This video I found extremely fascinating because it talked about how astronauts train for space walks and the space suits they wear on these space walks. Also I loved the interview with a Canadian astronaut that spent time on the ISS. They also talk about the commercialization of space which is something I am personally concerned with. Because there is a big issue with space trash orbiting the Earth that is making it difficult to navigate launches into space etc. There is so much debris. It may not seem like much but it is getting worse. And with the commercialization of space I’m worried it will become exponentially worse because of all the satellites they are launching into space, especially all the so-called cube-sats or small satellites. For example SpaceX will soon set a record for most satellites launched on a single mission (143 total satellites – how is this not polluting space?)
So without further adieu here is SPACECAST WEEKLY. Enjoy.
and to pick up on my earlier comments about space debris. Will we eventually have so much debris that we will no longer be able to safely go into space? And will there eventually be so much debris that people in space may not be able to safely return to earth? Here’s an interesting documentary (fyi only the first half is about space junk – but the whole video is interesting).
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.
Song is called EYES WIDE OPEN by King Crimson from their album The Power To Believe.
The pleasures and pain of keeping one’s “eyes wide open all the time”. It can be a blessing and a curse.
Here it comes, here comes another day
Another decision on the way
Well here it comes, here comes a covered display
Of preferences to make
Well here it comes, here comes a knock on the door
Open it for an opportunity
Well here it comes, here comes another day
For memories to be madeEyes wide open
Eyes wide open all the time’n there it was, it was a perfect take
And were you asleep or awake
There it was, it was a perfect time
To speak your mind
‘n there it was, it was a chance of a lifetime
It flew right by and what did you do?
Well there it was, it was another day
For memories to be madeEyes wide open
Eyes wide open all the time
I’ve got my eyes wide open
Eyes wide open all the time
Because you never know
What you might see
Happy New Year everyone. The promise of snow over the Holidays was not exaggerated. On Christmas morning we had 6-8 inches on the ground and and 1-2 inches fell throughout Christmas Day. But that is past. The New Year is upon us. This song expresses my dearest desire for each and every one of you. That you feel safe. For safety is not about the pandemic and has pitifully dominated the past year – like the song says it’s about living with/in grace, being rested, calm, anchored, unchained, holding no blame, no fear, no blame, being brave and open. I would also argue that is the foundation of love. I love each and everyone one of you even if we have never physically met. Thank you for your kindness and support.
we’ve fought so hard
we’ve come so far
back where we began
and for all the joys and sorrows
finally we can
and the future is everything
as we forgive ourselves
and we reach beyond the wreckage
of you loving someone else
our hearts are still surrendering
now the wounds will heal
in spite of everything
learning how to feel
be kind and always
remember to love
this one life we live
has to be enough
be kind and always
remember to love
this one life we live
has to be enough
I was digging through my vinyl collection and came across a real gem of a double album titled The Best Of The Mills Brothers. It had this wonderful song on it which I now dedicate to all politicians. Because they always hurt the one they claim to love (the country and people they serve who voted them into office).
Something we all need to be reminded of from time to time. We as human beings have a habit of blowing things out of proportion and making them seem more important than they are.
I want you to think about what makes you angry, frustrated, sad, hopeless. It might be relationships, politics, health, personal economics/finances, business, religion, culture, media, the environment etc. Nothing is off bounds. Everything matters here. I’m guessing there is at least one thing that immediately comes to mind for every individual.
Let it go.
Let it go now.
And yes, that seems easy; but it’s not, especially the more invested you are in the subject whether it’s emotionally, spiritually or intellectual investment.
But do you think the tree in Autumn wants to let go of its leaves? Or that it’s easy. And yet it does. The tree feels the pain of separation with each leaf – sometimes a thousand times. Year after year the tree will let go of its leaves. The tree does not know what the future holds but it continues the cycle.
So for all the things that seem so important at the time – in the long view – they are not important at all.
They are about as important as a “pebble lying on a gravel road”. So let it go. Sometimes it’s easier sung than done. I found that singing this song while I’m thinking of these things helps me keep things in perspective and remember what’s really important.
Maybe a nice practice would be to write down all these things than anger, frustrate (…etc.) you. Then like Autumn leaves – burn them. Let the worries and cares turn to ash. Then wash them away.
You count your curses and forget about the blessings
Don’t you think you should learn a little lesson
What are you waiting for?
Can’t seem to find the angels for the devils
Don’t you think that if you learned to love a little
You’d live a whole lot more
This is smaller than you know
No bigger than a pebble lying on a gravel road
Let it go, let it go
Got to leave it all behind you
Give the sun a chance to find you
Let it go
You made your bed but don’t think its fit to lie inWasted on the ground when you know you should be flying
What are you waiting for?
It seems so clear to me
You’ve just got to live and learn
Smile at the simple stuff
This road ain’t long enough
To miss a single turn
So are you tired of politics and the media? Well here are two fun videos. Mashups of old movie stars dancing to contemporary tunes. How many movies in the clips can you name?
First up is the theme song from the movie Footloose.
next how about some funk?