I’ve been a “Tarkus” enthusiast for years now, but today was the first day I heard “Brain Salad Surgery”. Fucking amazing. Carnevil 9 rocked my socks off. It’s crazy how much this material sounds like the style of music I’m evolving towards, although ELP are often even more uncompromising than I am, going for dissonances that I’ll often shy away from for fear of rendering my songs inaccessible and confusing. Well they’re fantastic composers as well with a great ear for what works, so they can get away with a lot.
The Mars Volta are the E.L.P of today. Relentlessly accused of pretension and bombast. Decades from now, there’ll be an audience of musical sophisticates who appreciate TMV, and there’ll probably still be a crusty old group thinking themselves to be sophisticates, making the same complaints. People like the Pitchforkers, who ought to be writing for fashion magazines.
21 Aug 2006
We hung around the tour buses after the Chilis’ stadium rock encores, sobering up before the long drive back to La Quinta. No, not really sobering up, just losing more of the buzz than we wanted to. We sang our depraved songs A cappella to pass the time. We think it was Desiree’s melody and my harmonization that lured Juan Alderete, the bass player for The Mars Volta, over to our place by the fence for a half hour chat on music, literature, and chaos.
I never used to ask
What is he on?
What did she take?
Personal flair was accepted as
- behavior -
@ character @
Now it has to have a reason
and Occam’s Razor quickly leads me
to chemical analysis.
I’m just writing in another notebook
although Dez bought it for me
– post breakup –
she went out and picked up this
quietly stylish black/tan book
while I slept in the hotel bed
cause I asked her to… a very
girlfriend thing to do, so the pages
Could the origin of this nausea be the inability to write, in the face of planet-sized feelings? Trite inarticulate honesty is better than nothing, I guess. Eases like a metabolic function, like I fed a critical mass of sick cells an illicit bit of photosynthesis for a circadian tick. But it’s all in the game.
Dez left. I’m back to the girlfriendless Nelson paradigm, in which I can’t and won’t hide my yearning to fulfill my long dormant sexual agenda. Razberrychaos still shines through, engineering monuments through fractals of drunk flailings – and even though Desiree dyed my hair red, I’ve rarely felt so dissatisfied with my look. Because I’m no longer the male half of the artist couple, the sexually-sanctioned freak compensating for failings in masculinity with cryptic lifestyle kinetics. Now I’m a free agent with a piss-poor portfolio, because although I have art on the shelf, I see how important the immediate physical connection is, the primary colors, the deficiency I feel as a sucking chest wound, what makes me invisible, not even a joke.
I could transcend with a glowing green scythe. It will be my costume for the next Shambhala. I’ll have saved my brain for a splurge of serotonin that I will use to boost my behavior algorithms in artificial confidence, ecstasy, mimicking those evolutionarily pro-adaptive progenitors, harvesting cash crops of impossible conversation with chemical currency cum quickie casuals in strange camps. Because I don’t want to get the girls with my writing, drawing, music, or even my mind. Because you can only live so long in your fuckless head before you feel your entire stalk of being wither in the burning sun of energy that doesn’t MATTER - - -
I’m trying to stave off the sense of nihilism I instinctively recoil from by telling myself that feelings aren’t real. That sounds counter intuitive, but nihilism is an emotion for me – the presence of negative energy.
Waiting at Gate C Thirty Sick
with a backpack full of expired poetry
cramps and fresh memories
pungent, reminding me
to burn a CD with a
Chili Peppers song, mediocre music
played by a world-class band
to mark the occasion.
Bad breakfast cramps, energy
settled poorly in my stomach like a disgruntled Muslim in Gaza, forcible function of racism’s rationalization in gastro-intestinal crucible, gastronomic gusto in a coffee-ground cubicle, stressing down to my bowels. If I hear about everybody’s asshole one more time I’m gonna KILL someone, I swear!
No, can’t give in to psychosis, I’ve got to catch a plane
to a 21st century croquet game, a gentleman’s game, a proper use for a mallet, the kind of opportunity one takes with a velveteen touch and a crescent eye, ocular aversion to the cramped chunk of con swish reduction add absurdum.
Today, Denver is the nexus of the Stuccoverse.
I don’t know what that means but I know it’s virtual.
The psychosis creeps in like a twitching variation on an old man’s spinal disease, a novel chemical composition, a few hundred molecules to the right in a spectrometrical anomaly. The old man lived long enough to find comfort in breathing, post-matador poetic transcription, what you’re supposed to show, not say with clenched teeth, tall eyes, and known bugs in perception.
I kind of like the crazy but I hate it, I hate it, I HATE IT! I want it to stop. It seems this psychosis speaks for all energy, energy itself and its trembling handshake with matter, its bittersweetheart deal, a corrupt alliance, what matters more than any thought I could think in intersecting planes. I only really like it when I can’t have it, and I can’t take a lesson from this because I’m stuck to the hi-chair at the kiddie table. I can’t digest the grown-up food.
a state actor
I’m jonesying for genuine friendship
I want to wish you happy discord with Hari Krishna, see how you react, but I won’t because I fear your reaction. I sense olfactory incompatibility, sublingually, subliminally.
But I think my twitchings are not obvious, and my penmanship is adequate, and I can… just barely listen to this hypermelodic R&B gargling without flipping out, which would equate to me letting my little blips of twitches build to a seizure-like spasm that would mildly alarm the woman sitting next to me.
She just sighed in a soft, friendly-sounding way and her peripherals are making me nervously excited. This is energy I can roll with but I don’t know where to enroll.
The demilitarized zone is interlocking eye-verse, eyes getting away with stealth understanding of words and thighs, and I just allowed a sigh that riffed on the girl’s, and I just allowed a smile that knows nothing of Krishna, and I’m regarding a well-tailored, probably self-tailored black back of a blouse.
Damn these dry gums, or is it an obsessive psychosomatic mirage? I’m remembering how extraordinarily run of the mill I am, filed down verbal favourites and the novelty of red hair, thinking I’ve got a little hint of Matt’s schizo floodgate, how adorable, found art, Canadian psych-kitsch from the Bronze Age of Information, before nanotech took off.
Smile again, look as pretty as you can and maybe good things will happen despite the twitches (nothing can save you from them), act like Krishna has nothing to say to you. Don’t ask if you’re a creep, don’t be redundant, hum a Thom Yorke melody if you feel like being crazy. This is a non-Sforzando flight. Soften. Mezzo piano. The bar is always open, but you can’t stay here. Heraclitus is my co-pilot. All is fire. Your skin makes me cry. But you can’t know.
INNOCENT yet ILLICIT interest –
would you like a hot apple pie with that?
I still don’t really know what she looks like. Our father who art in heaven. Krishna forsakes me every day, and that’s okay, comma, comma, comma,
Malibu Stacey, I want to ride with you. Take me for a ride in your hot pink convertible, pop your afternoon birth control and come, we’re on our way to north Cali’s stately mambo stepclass, cha cha cha, the state of grace, our instructor is from Esalen, he’s the hottest ugmo I’ve ever seen, a FILF, gutless in a good way, he has an aura, steel grey, carpeted with lichen.
We’re driving back across the timewarp coast, and plastic’s come alive but our bodies stopped biodegrading, nowhere to die but up, winged tortoise studios, midpoint jetburn aftertouch intermezzo.
Do you like what you see?
Don’t answer –
too many sharks in the Spanish Galleon, not enough aliens in the abyss. Denver’s toxicity is mingling with this crybaby airspace but Krishna embraces contradictions, recommends contra-indications, wraps Contra. One day I will remember poetry, forget sacred geometry.
~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~
Sad steward slam, an unrequited sociophilic hemlock award for handing a poor man in a wheelchair beside the highway a thin wad of cash while finishing off a butterfinger ice-pop. One five and five ones, looked more impressive than it was. He asked me if I was sure I could afford it. Me and Raz, we thought we might have cheered him up a little, cheaper than a pack of cigarettes and I don’t think he smoked. He had a sign on his lap but I don’t remember what it said. His face said enough, it made a mockery of fakery.
There’s no such thing as charity, finding it is like trying to get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and Krishna shits in my mouth and tells me I’m failing the nutty symbol test, the quotient of intelligence, the college flunkie’s malprops, the isms crowd, the ripple reflections of the bone of my own.
How much did magic thighs see, I wonder? Because unlike the poor man whose presence was present enough for my thick ness to respond to, I need a sign. My face can’t be sufficiently read, except by psychics with thick thighs and highly developed observational skills, of coy minds and eyes I can’t see, people who pull on the entrails of my spirit, who demonstrate the existence of said spirit through artful zen reduction, who cue like Toscanini, who read souls like braille. I feel like a virgin with their fingers on my mind, exalted in violation.
The pen is mightier than the penis if you are a limp dick. The notebook is a shield and a prison, and a curtain of imported beads, garishly symmetrical with itself, quaintly resonant with low frequency open-stage guitar strings, drunkenly off-kilter with contemporary fashion, synthetic cornmeal with Kootenay Cabbage and Krishna, your face was – is – more than I could – can – deal with. I’d say you’ll never know but I can’t decide. Hari Krishna. Mother of God.
Dry dry dry mouth, hung out to try but left when the moment didn’t show. Substituted a blond head of hair, the best blond yet, closest to the contemporary ideal and its nuclear fusion with my illusion, just another clipoff glade of shade grazing my glandular profusion of twitchy mistaken misanthropy, spinning a line like a ragged and jagged Rapunzel tied to a loom of doom.
Time to expose my loathed arms, stymie the flow with a charmelized comma, a candycane slashed through a window’s pain, punitive rhymes for our times, check check it.
It makes me feel better to see the Beatles so distant in the rearview mirror. Not too far now to reinvention of the wheel. 300 miles to Salt Lake City.
The hotter the fire
the deeper the sleep.
The painfully pretty woman next to me, whom I didn’t even really see, craned her neck, along with a few other yokels, to see what the commotion at the back of the plane was all about. A kid with asthma, turned out to be of little consequence. Apathy had been appropriate. So she lost several cool points with me, but I guess, in accordance with the calculus of character, she gained an endearing sloppiness of personality, shook off some of the suffocating charms, soloed more like Omar than Frusciante
Atavistic dolce ~
~ Devil’s trill
You may not realize
but your work ethic paid off.
I know. It’s hard not to notice the grapes dangled above my midget body, just above my stretched head. The fruits of Aphrodite were grown to be known.
hasn’t started his rock band yet.
He’s smart enough to avoid guitars.
His weapon of choice will be the turntable
because there is no future
only the techno-gulag
a clear-eared dystopia.
14 Aug 2006
Shambhala is a 5 day party in the forests of a Salmo river ranch. It draws a crowd of ten thousand or more. What do I make of the debauchery I just went through? I figure I can make something of it if I draw lessons from my trip through that sticky web of interlocking lifestyles. If I take a microscope to what happened, I might emerge with some insights, and not of the wishful spiritual flavor I used to pursue anywhere drugs were involved.
Lesson #1: I smoked some dope, swigged some tequila, and popped some mild pharms, till I got to a haze in which I couldn’t differentiate what was doing what to my head. I wandered back to the pavilion, draped in arabian fabrics, but I couldn’t get in because I didn’t realize one of the fabrics was not separated, but draped from one pole to the other, with three inviting-looking cloths in front saying: “come on in… it’s easy!”
Eventually I figured out what was up, and went around the other side. Jesse said something about it being an I.Q. test. So I sat down and slurred, “goddamn Mensa bullshit”. This seemed to strike a nerve or a chord or I don’t know what. Anyway, it got more reaction from Marco and Jesse than anything I’d said previously. Turned out Jesse had gotten into Mensa, and Marco possibly, I wasn’t sure. Anyway, I started thinking I’d offended them. Then Marco said something that I interpreted as being a joke for him and Jesse to share, at my expense, that I wasn’t expected to get. And I didn’t. It’s possible I was thinking in this paranoid way because of my conception of Mensa as being a society of intelligent jerks who like to lord their smarts over the dumb hordes, whom I identified with, since I feel I lack a common-sense, problem-solving sort of intelligence, and flourish more in less technical, more artistic niches. So this feeling of being made fun of mixed with my nervousness over causing offense as the conversation flowed on. I told them I’d rather not know what my I.Q. is. I’d rather cultivate delusions. Water them daily, give them light, have conversations with them.
Lesson #2: The ego trip is uncomfortable for me on E. I tried reading bits of my novel to the group I was rolling with, but I was so flighty and manic I couldn’t read or focus or be into any of it. Extrovision works better. When I’m rolling, I need to leave the art behind and be open to others, be art in my interaction with them. Material brings me down. “My” material even moreso.
Lesson #3: Glowsticks are cool.
Lesson #4: E is like alcohol times 1000. Affirmation mode without the sick swoon. Realization of possibility. Opening the window. Hug-love-drug-bullshit. Makes me very uncool. “And you say you can’t express”, I said as the Russian girl sang. So heartfelt, but so fucking trite, so not me. And so fake, because did she even say she couldn’t express? I can’t remember.
Lesson #5: You can be on E, with googley eyes and a hyperactive jaw, but still, if you smile at people, even girls who looked like they walked straight out of your wettest dream will likely smile back.
Lesson #5.5: I should bring chewing gum to my next roll, otherwise I’ll be sticking my tongue out every few seconds like a lizard, and not be aware of it until someone points it out to me.
Lesson #6: After the E wore off, it was pretty much downhill. So now I deem myself “jaded”. I’m so concerned with living in the “real world”, and the rules of the real world, and the obligations of accepting and exploiting and living by those rules. But Robert Anton Wilson’s axiom still rings true, reality is what you can get away with. So why not make my own real world, to the extent that I can? Which is more than I usually think. Not talking to the hot girl because I’m an uncool undeserving creep isn’t the “harsh reality”, it’s me making a harsh reality for myself.
Reality certainly gives me negative material to work with. I’ve certainly done creepy uncool things in the past (see Lesson #5.5). But they needn’t have any bearing on this moment, with this stranger. I can make them have bearing, but that’s not a universal truth or an objective reality, it’s my subjective imposition.
Lesson #7: I had many moments of feeling like people had windows into my head they shouldn’t have. Like they knew way more about me than they had any right to, like how the FUCK can this person read me this well? I had some freaky moments like that last year at Shambhala. This time it happened on E, and off. I was grooving on a Keith Jarrett album, the Koln Concert, loving the music more than I’d loved any music that weekend, but also paranoid that the people around me were annoyed at the music and it was imposing on their conversation, and should I turn it down, or should I turn it off, or would that be awkward because I would be unable to hide being upset and thus acknowledge the tension, etc. And then Marco started going on about how long winded this Keith Jarrett guy was, and then Finch joked that “the good part starts after the intermezzo”, and others joined in along these lines, and I felt like these people were doing an unbelievably perfect job of parodying me, and the way I talk, and the kinds of things I say, and it was hard to take. So I turned off the CD and went for a walk.
Earlier, a guy wandered into our camp saying he knew Finch. Finch didn’t remember him, but he hung out with us and jabbered enthusiastically. Everything he said sounded exactly like I remembered myself to sound when I’d been rolling. In an embarrassing way. I could see he had his window open wide. Maybe we were closed. Closed for business. Marco was trying to remember where we’d put our bag of weed, so he asked for his “marijuana cigarette”, whereupon the stranger stood up and shouted to the tents beyond: “Does anyone have a marijuana cigarette?!” repeating the inquiry several times, loudly, eager to help out. “Oh god,” I thought, “You probably think that’s the coolest line in the world, you poor man. But wait three hours.” And I cringed, for him, and for myself.
Actually now, two days later, it’s pretty funny to me. Why can’t I laugh at myself? I’m so pitifully ego bound. Ugh. Narcissus hurled.
Lesson #8: Possible pretext for strange socialization: “Can I hang with you guys for a while? My friends all ditched me.” Whereupon I make up an interesting story about my “friends”, perhaps with kernels of truth in it. If I can filter out audible desperation, it might be useful.
Lesson #9: I have a certain degree of homophobia, not because I worry about being gay, but because I worry about being weak, which has become synonymous in my head. That’s not due to any personal logic construct, but because of the irrational imprints I’ve gotten from society. I’ve become so twisted up, however, that at times I’ve come to believe it really is about being gay, despite my lack of sexual interest in men. Because I could always be suppressing something right? Then I remember – oh yeah, in my head, gay is shorthand for weak – that’s the real issue. Gender psychology creates a lot of anxiety for me. It’s true, I yearn for aspects of masculinity I feel I lack. But I would never want to go anywhere close to an extreme with that. It’s not where my soul lies. I guess my soul flinches in a conflicting recoil from both the yin and the yang. I’m a discordant S curve. Designed for insecurity. Evolutionarily maladaptive. Genetically defective.
Lesson #10: I understood perfectly what Shulgin meant when he dubbed MDMA Window. It did feel like a window. A massive opening in the mind, so that I was free of my past and future, able to speak to anybody about anything. If I could have those extra chemicals sloshing through my brain blood all the time, yeah, I would live in that clear bright universe of possibility, with all the neurotic roadblocks thrown down – I could romp through life unimpeded, get what I want in a benign way, with love as my hyperdrive. But I’d wreck my brain, and end up an idiot. And say I did decide to keep my finger on the switch, a permanent ecstasy drip – who’s to say I would be able to sustain the mental appreciation of the magic window even WITH those extra chemicals? What if the window stays open, but it loses its magic? Wouldn’t I eventually realize I’m acting like a lizard? The reason “ecstasy” works is because of its kinetics. That means a rocket ride up and a crash landing.
Lesson #11: A lot of people tried very hard to make me dissatisfied with my life, what I’ve achieved, and where I’m at. I guess they succeeded. But they failed at spurring me on, which I assume was their intent.
When people try and press on me the potential that I have, and by implication, the wasting away I’m doing in not giving 100%, I don’t feel incited to greatness. I feel depressed and frustrated that I’ll never get to these enticing heights because despite the fact that I do lust after money and fame, I don’t lust after it enough to want to practice four hours a day. I sold out to some extent, but not enough. And I won’t sell out to make other sell outs feel better about themselves. I don’t want to be a session player, and make three grand recording a leslie organ part for your Alice in Chains-inspired band, exactly the way you want it. I’m still an artist, as pretentious as that sounds. Well, it comes with the job. Not a good substitute for money, but there are a few perks, like being allowed to be pretentious.
Lesson #12: Despite the previous lesson, it is time I got serious about music – and that means pain, discomfort, and frustration, but it also means I may prevail and reap the rewards. I should lock myself away, quit the drugs, and be a secluded scowling zen pianist (I’ve lacked the moxie to call myself a “pianist” since I quit trying for virtuosity five years ago). I should work on my technique, theory, and sight reading – it would be a good, boring, non-artistic thing to focus on, since, even though I’m an artist, I’m utterly fucking bored of art, particularly music.
That’s the thing with false positives, even those that come in a single small pill – they leave you unenthused. At least I have the good fortune to also be unenthused with more false positive. Although like the last time I did E, I did get close to the addiction cycle. I did think: well, if I’m this down, and it looks like this is a harsh lesson in the nature of perception, I might as well do that E again, I did feel good no matter how false it was and I know I can get there again.
Lesson #13: I’m craving the novelty of strangers, especially those of the female persuasion, because I can’t be complacent anymore. I don’t want to take them home – I have no home of my own to take them to. I just want to get a little deeper than the sparse and subtle surface grazing I’ve done thus far. I don’t know how to begin doing that and I don’t think it should be contrived. I used to sit around and people would come up to me, eventually. That seems to be happening less, maybe because I have less of a fuck-off attitude, and am therefore less cool, less intriguing. I guess I’m going to have to do something to get attention, like be a better musician.
Lesson #14: Finch is really taken with the idea of me going off somewhere, to a good school in a big city and making connections. I appreciate her driving me on, I appreciate it more than the opinions of the annoying cokehead who thinks he’s a producer genius, and I know this is the kind of advice I should be taking. Except I don’t know if school’s what I really need at the moment. I think what I really need is to practice what I already know I need to do – on my own. If I can pull that off, I can think about refining my skills in academia. Finch said, well, you could stay here and be in Aaron’s salsa band – scornfully. But actually, that’s the kind of thing that DOES motivate me to practice. Not going to some fucking school in Vancouver. But taking a smaller step toward perfecting something that I see as achievable in the near term. And I’d like to keep working at the bakery for a while longer, because I value stability. Whether that chips away at the rebel cool I’m supposed to have, or not.
Lesson #15: I had a strange feeling after last year’s Shambhala that lasted a couple of weeks. Everything looked different, although I couldn’t say why. It was like all the emotional connotations of things had been stripped away, and reality was a kind of blank slate. It was an empty feelings, but it was also like I could re-imprint ideas and feelings on to familiar stimuli. It was like someone had hit the restart button on my limbic system. I’d thought it was the acid that caused it. But I got the same feeling this year, upon returning from Shambhala, and no acid was in the mix. So it’s definitely the E that causes that. MDMA scares me because it causes changes in my brain that seem to last a long time, and are very wide-ranging and profound, and usually not for the better, although I must say, very educational.
Lesson #16: I was warm and finally about to sleep Saturday night when Finch came in to the tent. She needed her comfy bed (probably the best in a 50 tent radius) for herself. So I got out to relocate to my tent. But we sat and talked for a while, in the cold and dregs. I was thinking about doing more E, but the last roll was scary, and I knew I’d feel even worse coming off a second dose, and who knew how long the aftermath might fuck with me? So I thought I was done for the night and ready to sleep, but Finch (or “Jenn” as I kept calling her that weekend) seemed agitated, and craving a cup of Moroccan Mint tea, so I walked back into town and got one for her. And felt really good going in, and coming back. Philanthropy – it isn’t E, but it’s good for the soul.
Lesson #17: Monikers are fun, they help shift identity. Anyone who wants can call me “Johnny” now. J’than is old paradigm, and Hector never meant much, except to old soul mates.
Shambhala was fun until I ran out of happy juice. On E, I was king of the world. I could have had almost anyone I wanted, or at least that's how I felt, and that's half the battle. And there were piles of gorgeous girls, responsive to my inquiries. But sex was redundant.
I could have poured in more fuel. Kept it going, after that 1 hit. In fact, I vowed to do exactly that, while rolling. Don't worry about the downer, just do another hit when it wears off! But... When the saccharine high fades away - it just doesn't seem a sane solution to keep pushing my system, to artificially inflate my enjoyment of life to an undifferentiated frill of warm fuzzies.
But sanity doesn't allow me to be happy about being down. It does allow me some enjoyment of reconnecting to my cynical and jaded self. For a while. It's nice being able to be cool again, getting past the E-tard paradigm, using my insecurities as security blankets by refusing to be open to new feelings and thoughts. But the negative cool doesn't last, after sobriety magnifies my insecurities a hundred fold. I feel utterly worthless and insignificant.
So I bounced back from the crash, but now I'm on a more long term downer. These emotional currents look to me like progressively larger ripples of longer wavelengths. But then, I didn't outright feel like crying immediately after. Now I do. Familiar stimuli is poison to me. But shambhala is over and I've got to go back to work. Novelty isn't readily available.
But then, I'm almost looking forward to working. My niche at the bakery, what I'm supposed to be ashamed of, and usually am. But fuck it. Fuck art. I'm utterly bored of music, my own, and other people's. I don't need to listen to people who presume to tell me how I should live my life. I've got to be less open to other people's opinions. A little bit of arrogance would do me good.
The only music I can stand right now is Aphex Twin. The ambient works. I can't feel "enthusiastic" about anything, but I can enjoy this music, and the tint it makes in my mood. It's the sound of mechanized melancholy, which is what my mind is right now. It's the perfect music for when you've crashed hard on a lot of hard drugs.
I miss Dez. I was right in my intuition, Shambhala did suck without her. In a way. Because it's good to be with someone. Even if the person is as neurotic as yourself. Maybe next year I should carry out the agenda of my subconscious.
I'm left feeling utterly anti-social, but not in a positive "fuck everyone I'm fine on my own" way. Because I'm not fine on my own. It's just that I know other people won't give me any enjoyment at all.
Oh well, there's plenty of E in the sea - I mean fish - I mean... uh, I dunno. Nevermind. This is Hippie Craque, signing off.
7 Aug 2006
I've been chipping away at this bastard on and off for a year or three - hard to remember now. Finally finished last night. Recorded and MP3 encoded. It's a piece for acoustic guitar and string orchestra, structured a bit like a concerto with three movements. The movements are meant to flow seamlessly from one to the next, but I've split number 3 for convenience.
Movement 1 and 2: Andante - Presto (10:37, 12.1mb)
Movement 3: Moderato (10:50, 12.4mb)
Movement 1 and 2: Andante - Presto (10:37, 12.1mb)
Movement 3: Moderato (10:50, 12.4mb)
5 Aug 2006
I declined to talk to the sullen-looking ex-junkie on the park bench, recently divorced from his drug. There's nothing I could say that would help.