blogging the black bodhisattva
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without care, yeah I was out of touch…

I really must be outside of the time-space warp.  So — I thought I could forgive myself for flopping the KPFA internship interview, since getting the gig would have drawn a lot of time and energy off the writing of the book.

But then I tried to go to latihan (an extension of Sufi whirling) the following Monday night.  Not only did I go at the wrong time – 8 instead of 9 – but I totally went to the wrong place.  When I got there, standing in the rain, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Wow – am I really bugging?

And then I attempted to go to a men’s group the following evening… the very same one I’d missed BEFORE because I hadn’t properly recalled or written down the details.  I banged on the door and rang the bells of the club – after i determined that it was at least the right location.  But was it?  I couldn’t tell… because where was everyone?  Finally I asked a cat passing by and he confirmed it was the right location.  Whew!  Ai’ight.  Step One successfully completed.  Check.  LOL  I know that’s not tremendous but it seems it was better than I’d been doing.  I asked him if this was Wednesday and he was like: “no man, it’s Tuesday!”  I slapped my head.  Ah SOOOO.  No wonder the place is locked up tight!  I mean – I was relieved to know I hadn’t missed the meeting.  But on the other hand, damn.  What’s happening to me here!?  Really?  As I was walking home, the words to the Gnarls Barkley hit were definitely on loop in my head:

I remember when, I remember I remember when I lost my mind

There was something so pleasant about that place

even your emotions have an echo… in so much space (space, space)

and when you’re out there, without care

yeah, I was out of touch…

but it wasn’t because i didn’t know enough —

I just knew too much…

It all applied a little too perfectly.  Somehow, I’ve been so insulated and isolated that I’ll go for days without direct contact with anyone.  And yet I’m singing and laughing, having a grand old time actually, feeling very engaged and inspired to keep writing through any and all states (including intoxication, like right now).  Was it truly this that was making me crazy?  Possibly!  If that’s how it works.  After the third failing to be in the proper place at the proper time, I had to take up the fact that I was (am?) somehow in some parallel reality.  Regular time and space are not registering or computing in the way they used to.  On the way home, feet soggy with rain, eyes bleary, i pieced it all together.  On the day of the interview I’d figured it was the end of February, not the first day of March.  When I went to latihan which I was expecting to be on Monday and missed it, I must’ve somehow chalked it up to being Tuesday instead of Wednesday.  I hadn’t missed it because of the date, but the location and time.  And so I went to the men’s group the next day, thinking it was Wednesday.  But didn’t I look at the date on my computer on Monday?  Tuesday?  Guess not.  Either way, there I was…

I went up to my brother’s place when i got back to the flat.  When he commented that it’s all probably more a function of being cloistered and hermitized than actually losing grip on reality – it was curiously comforting, though still a bit mortifying.

The next day I went back to the club.  WOW.  Right time, right date, right location!  AMAZING.  Somebody call the freaking Nobel Prize commission.  When I saw the guys milling around outside, right on time, i was so happy and impressed with myself that I could’ve barfed.

The men’s circle was actually pretty good too.  As the new guy, I sort of got called out.  Pretty heavily, actually.  It was cool.  I didn’t go expecting a tea party.  By the end I could definitely see how it could be useful in helping me process and sort out some of my shit…


It was so weird and discomforting… but mercifully it only lasted for a few moments.  Today was March 1.  After attending the KPFA First Voice apprenticeship program, I was HELLA juiced – moreso than before – about the program.  It was probably most, if not all, of the training and experience I would have gotten if I’d finished college majoring in investigative journalism.  Perhaps even more.  This apprenticeship gives practical face time with the latest technology involved in radio production.  I was duly impressed by the long history of the program.  I was encouraged by the fact that many have gone on to tremendous opportunities in the communications field – from the vast, evil Clear Channel, to NPR and all locations in between.  I was feeling that a fellow could pretty much write their ticket to any destination they wanted with this experience.  Apparently,  many before me had.

This afternoon I woke up at a quarter to two in the afternoon, after working on the book all through the night as usual.  Well… I also had dinner with my best friend, who is facing some serious health challenges at the moment.  The phone rang in the morning but I couldn’t muster the will to answer it.  Turns out it was my brother wanting the number to the other brother of mine he was visiting in Brooklyn.  I felt a bit useless and bad about that.  But when I finally got up and around and realized that TODAY was the day of the final INTERVIEW for admittance into the apprenticeship program – man.  I was hella vexed with myself!  S#@%!!  How could I DO that?! 

I just sat and breathed deeply… letting myself feel the reality of what was happening.  I’d flopped the opportunity.  If I want to apply again I’ll have to wait a year.  The interview was at twelve thirty.  Should I call and make up an excuse?  Beg for another chance?  Didn’t seem bloody likely to work.  They were pretty hardcore about the commitment to be there, to show up on time, as they should be.  The way it works, you’re paired up with a team which requires you to really come through on projects that can go for many hours more than the ones you expect to work.

I turned on the TV, still disbelieving this massive fail but beginning to just absorb it.  There was a doctor on PBS talking about a number of ways to stay healthy and live a long life.  Public television is good for that kind of thing, which is why I hardly ever watch anything else but the Simpsons.  At the very moment I turned the tv on, she was talking about how things happen to people all the time that they feel are completely overwhelming, disappointing, they appear at first to be patently unfair.  But that ultimately, these things happen to cause us to make certain changes in our attitude and approach to things.  She was putting it in terms of illnesses… but it dawned on me quickly that that was a message directly addressing the state I was in.  She highlighted a number of factors that inevitably decrease not only life quality but personal efficacy.  Among those things are: lack of sleep, stresses over time and aggravations stemming from dealing with people who you don’t get along or agree with, that you don’t share common values with.  As she described these things, a series of revelations came to me.  If I did take on this apprenticeship, I would be getting far less sleep than 6 to 8 hours on a fairly regular basis.  Late hours throughout the week are a requirement of the program.  The writing of this book would be severely impacted as well.  As intense as everything i have to say is, it’s taking me time to gather and check the information, to be accurate, thorough and compelling at the same time.  Book writing is no JOKE!  Real talk.  The great joy of it is that you’re free to put down whatever you can think of.  The great challenge of it is that… you’re free to put down whatever you can think of!  Plus: I mean, it doesn’t make me tip over with pride to say this but – the part about having to really deal with a lot of people’s idiosyncracies, bullshit, inconsistencies, dramas on a daily basis for several hours late into the night with no way to disengage that can be justified, except leaving the program entirely because it’s just too MUCH.  And then of course you’d be letting down your teammates and burdening them with all the work you were supposed to do.  They were adamant about having us really check in with ourselves to see if we really had the stuff to make it all the way through.  The thing is, I’m confident I do.  But it just so happens I’m trying to write this book which is the focus of my, like, whole existence at this point.  It really came to me that this radio show mission – though a worthy one that I may be in a position to revisit at some point – is not what’s “up” for me now.  I have to keep working.  I had a meditation before I started writing, where a maxim just popped into my awareness after a few moments of no-mind: “those who know, teach”.  At the root of things, i think I have done enough “student”.  It’s time for me to step more fully into “teacher”.  Not on some big ego tip.  On some real ish.

I was settling into what was feeling more and more like a divinely ordained intervention.  If I’d gone ahead with my big plan and made it to the interview, i would have set in motion something that would require a lot of time and energy, which I could not easily extricate myself from without causing a great deal of upset and difficulty.  I went online to do some research and I saw an email from this BBW chick who had responded to a post I put on craigslist.  It was pretty explicit so it was fun to read her response and try to imagine what she was really like, what she’s working with looks wise, would we really gel, this kind of thing.  I tried to write back to her.  FOUR TIMES.  And every single time, the connection was dropped “for some reason”, and signed itself back on.  I started writing.  It dropped.  Started again.  It dropped.  Started again and again and it dropped!  WTF??!   At that point – considering the message about what i should and shouldn’t be doing with my time and energy right about now – i had to just take this up as another sign.  As fun as it would be to start some kind of correspondence with her, a correspondence perhaps leading to an actual encounter in real time and space (can you IMAGINE such a thing? *gasp*) – it would be, at the end of the day, another diversion from what I need to be doing right now.

I mean… it’s cool and all.  Do I like, not get to have any other life than this, though?  hahaha.  My friend remarked, after I fessed up to feeling very curmudgeonly, very trollish as I slink around my flat nearly all day in the dark, coming outdoors literally only to eat, that i was looking rather pale.  I can’t remember her actual word because I’m looking at the Police “final” reunion concert and I sort of can’t focus.  I’m also thinking about if I need to try and drive myself to write more before i go to bed.  But it was something about being grayish.  I haven’t had a shave in a week, and a haircut in about half a year.  Some sight I must be!  hahaha.  Oh well.  Love me for what I am.  A radical thinker on a mission that doesn’t involve consultation with GQ magazine.


My upstairs neighbor, who I was hoping was single, turned out not to be.  Big Joe is in the picture.  Oh well.   I hugged her in front of the building before what she was telling me about her cats – and the way they came back with fleas after running away – could really sink in.  A few days later I started noticing a feeling of being jumped on.  I had bites around my ankles and midsection.  When I looked into it, it was pretty clear I’d brought fleas home with me.  D’OH!!  I had to bomb my house with chemicals and leave for two hours.  It was Tuesday evening, which is to say there was absolutely nothing going on, anywhere… and it was pouring rain.  Originally I intended to walk to Jack London square to catch a movie but it was coming down too hard – in addition to the fact that I was wearing sandals and socks for some inconceivable, arcane reason.  I told you… big personality changes do have unforeseen consequences.  Watch out!  (LOL)  I was a smidge twitterpainted with myself for not mustering the good sense to put on proper shoes… leave alone something absolutely brilliant like buying galoshes, as I sloshed around damn near in my bare feet in a driving rainstorm.  As emptyheaded as i felt, I was a bit worried about the flea bombing.   It seemed that I’d read and understood the directions for releasing the noxious cloud of gas in my flat… that the fact it was “dry fog” would mean I didn’t have to shut out all the pilot lights on the stove.  But damn.  I’d been missing a lot of low balls recently so I wasn’t 100% convinced by my general comprehension.  I wanted to kind of stay in the neighborhood, in the off chance there would be a large BOOM! in the distance I might need to investigate.  So I opted for a local bar and had a shot of Black Label.  Not much jumping off there, so I tried another bar closer to home.  Whole lotta nuthin’ goin’ down there.  But by the time I’d downed my hot toddy, I was feeling just swervy and tired and bored enough to slog home, since my two hours were up.

Two days ago, I found out my mother and father are getting a divorce after over 40 years.  I don’t know what to say or think about it.  They were mystics before the term “new age” was cliched.  They used to tell us kids that the past, present and future exist at the same time.  Insofar as the kind of people we were, they’d put us up against any of the richest and most powerful the world could produce.  They told us to set our minds to healing our physical ailments… that we could use meditation and visualization to cure ourselves of anything that befell us health-wise.  The long and short of it is that together they gave my siblings and I the kind of high self esteem, sense of agency, autonomy and yet compassion, kindness and concern for fellow human beings that so many people seem to be missing today.  They were also both very smart and musically talented.  I owe so much of what I am, and whatever I have to offer the world, to them.  It’s nearly impossible to convey the gratitude I have toward them as parents and people… my deep feeling of grace for having been assigned to them on a soul level, and responsibility to take what they’ve given me and share it with a world sorely in need to whatever degree I can.

And now they’re separating.

I’d put an ad on craigslist to meet somebody around Valentine’s day, but not for it.  I don’t go on “dates”.  I can’t stand that concept.  How convoluted and filled with dread and anxious longing is that whole hornet’s nest?  Uh uh.  I got three responses and two of them were automated spam solicitations to go to some useless website sucking up valuable virtual real estate.  The one person who was real played email and phone tag with me for a few days and then I sort of went AWOL because of these occurrences.  It was too much.  Eventually I called her back and left a message on her machine explaining everything that had been going on, but I was still looking forward to talking to her.  She called me later that day and the first thing out of her mouth was… and I quote: “I just have to say that I think you’re totally full of s**t, because why would somebody just admit these things to a stranger?  And I just don’t think I’m interested”.

*SIGH*  Bloody hell.

I mean: where does one start?   Let’s see, let’s see.  Then WHY THE F*** DID YOU CALL IN THE FIRST PLACE? For a while, I was really feeling like some kind of mutant insect buzzing around.  It reminded me of something my mother once told me about feeling very alien in this world of masks, illusion, tricks, deception, falsehood, manipulation.  Is it psychotic to reveal what’s going on in your life in an authentic way?  Should we truly just hide away what’s up for us in any given moment, lie, suppress, just stick our fingers in our dimples and twist?  Flash a big toothy grin, regardless?  I told her that one could just be the kind of person who keeps it really real, my personal philosophy is that honesty is simply the best policy.  It’s not like I was moaning that my life was falling apart.  In fact, as I recall, I was laughing at the ridiculousness of it all… that it looked like the worst was over.  I was totally playing with it, as the things have ceased to be a huge trauma for me.  But if she felt that way then she was entitled to, I don’t agree, good luck and peace out.  What I DIDN’T say were things like: what does it say about YOU that the first utterance you have for a person you’re speaking to for the first time is that they’re full of s**t?  Are you that jaded, that cynical, that far gone into your own suffocated, pueling immiserated distrust of humankind that you can’t muster up the gumption to suspend your stupefied, simplistic disbelief for 3 lousy seconds?  If I’d gotten even a sentence in, I might have dispelled whatever sour doubt or whatever she was having about what was completely ingenuous, but totally not a factor of personal dysfunction.  In fact; if indeed she was this demolished in her faith in mankind, her ability to leave snide cruelty aside for a sliver of humanity, in her opinion about raw forthrightness in the beginning of the encounter – where it really matters – then I don’t think I’M interested, actually.

I thought about telling her all this when she called back a few seconds after I made my remarks and hung up.  She stumbled through a haphazard, shamefaced sounding apology: saying “I might have been a bit hard on you…”  Hard on me?  Bwahahahaha!  Some people would call you nothing more than a gigantic fucking cunt, to keep it REALLY real.  That happens not to be my personal opinion.  I’ve forgiven her and, I suspect after this post, will have officially moved on.  But I sure as hell don’t need to “still see about it”, as she murmured in her message.  I saw her number come up on my cell a couple times again after that.  I didn’t pick up.  Ummm… no ma’am.  I’m quite finished.  Buh bye.

Arrrr, um – People.  Yay.  They really are… are… ‘something’, ha?


wish I had something fall down exciting to talk about right now.  We’re well into February and I haven’t heard back from any of the song contests I’ve entered or film and television submissions I’ve done.  It looks like Dara (my upstairs neighbor) already has “joe” in the mix.  Put an ad on craigslist and got three responses: one from a real woman and two spams.  My brother offered me to perform at a benefit show his group is doing… two days before it was to occur.  I’ve been writing and extremely out of practice and out of tune.  DJ Collage was in town last week, talking about how hard it is these days to make music happen in this climate.  That seems to be the general consensus.  In a way I’m glad to not be running around out there trying to clamor for the attention of whatever real music fans are left.  As my bro and I were saying, every group, every artist, is so niche driven now.  They come onstage, their people come to the front of the venue, the artist performs, leaves, and the artist’s fans leave as well.  What is that?  Burns my butt, it does.  There was a time when folks stayed to watch the whole show… they rocked and popped and bopped and funked until the wee hours, eager to milk every moment out of the event and not wanting to let it go.  Now it’s all “seen it all” jaded or something.   In addition to the whole niche marketing thing, there’s another likely reason more people don’t hang around for the whole event… the groups themselves.  I’m not going to dis anybody but more authoritative voices than mine have talked poignantly about how much this current music scene sucks rat’s nuts.  And now I’ve gone to Barack’s website and read all these stories about how hard hit citizens all across the country have been by the economic downturn.  Bless his heart – man does he ever have his work cut out.  And the Republicans, like hell on a looping lope, continue to drone on “tax cuts, waah!  Tax CUUUUUUUTS…” – blocking relief and progress every step of the way.  Oy GEVALT…

Over these last two days it’s been pouring.  Nice – and a propos – reminder that we are after all in the middle of winter, here.  It’s the weirdest thing: at the moment I feel more giddily engaged and entertained then I can EVER recall feeling during this time of year in my adult life.  It probably has everything to do with writing the book.  That is just about all I do these days, write.  Clean the house a bit, listen to the radio, watch the weather forecast, bit of the Simpsons, then back to the writing.  And then I just coast.  Go on autopilot or something with music like what’s playing in the background right now – looks like KALX Berkeley has taken a cue from the Hearts of Space radio program and broke out the ambient, atmospheric new-age type music.  Well – good for them!  And me and many others as well I’m sure, who haven’t had their fill yet after the two hour broadcast every Sunday night.

Right now it’s coming down in buckets.  We need it.  I tried to live with the ants for as long as I oculd manage.  When they took the kitchen I let them have it.  When they marched on the bathroom, I let them have it.  But when they advanced on the living room and were crawling on me when I was writing… and sleeping… that was the last straw.  They’d never made it before this far.  This is a studio apartment and there’s only so far I can retreat.  When you start creeping around on my arms, feet and forehead – that’s when the raid comes out and the inevitable ant massacre ensues.  I didn’t wanna go there.  I really didn’t.  The Buddhists say each one is your mother from another lifetime.  Either out of logic – or fear – I can’t take it that far.  But I let them live and invade my pantries and wastebaskets over several months.  When I came home after bombing and there was no more motion anywhere, I felt bad.  Uh oh.  How much more nonvirtuous karma have I generated for this act…?

here comes the rain again

falling on my head like a memory

falling on my head like a new emotion…

…is it raining with you?

**just remember, eventually the clouds have to clear,  And hopefully, when the sun returns, we’ll have enough wonderful water in the reservoirs to prevent us from drying up and blowing away for a few more months…**

oh yeah… the Dark Time, y’all.


Sir George Martin, producer of the Beatles albums.

I was at breakfast the other day reading this shocking book: Dirty Little Secrets of the Record Business, by Hank Bordowitz.  The Buddhist liberation stuff is a bit too heavy for me in moments – both figuratively and literally (the book is pretty massive).  So this time I opted for lighter fare.

The discussion was about recording studios: the math around buying the space, the equipment (mixboards, mics, cables, instruments), staff salaries, healthcare etc., vs. what the studio owner can reasonably expect to charge per hour to recoup investment and turn a profit.  It is extraordinarily hard to do that right at the moment, thanks to Protools, Mark of the Unicorn, Cubase and all the rest of the digital workstations.  Many of the big name recording studios have had to shut down because they just couldn’t afford the overhead and competition from countless home studio outfits. 

I’ve thought from time to time about trying to book studio time with beginner recording artists.  Maybe I’d put out a craigslist ad offering my services with the hook being my years in the game if not necessarily my gear, which is pretty basic.  But everyone is doing that.  Plus… I don’t know.  There’s some kind of thing about the particular way a lot of artists today seem to approach music.  They want, feel entitled to and expect their  big return, their moment in the spotlight, right NOW.  They DON’T intend to work very long.  They DON’T feel a need to put off gratification for the sake of technique and songwriting development.  They want to lay down some sequences, cut, paste, digitize, quantize, normalize, master, press, distribute and sell ASAP.  The technology is there not only to encourage people to think very short term – but it’s almost like it’s now implied that you’re a sucker, a fool, scared (don’t be skirrt!) or something if you don’t strive to flood the already glutted music market with more “product”.  Make as many songs as you like!  We’ll make more (plug ins, mp3 streamers, band websites, online marketing portals, virtual CD stores, etc.)

I’m not mad.  I’m not “that dude”…  the brilliant (or perhaps not so much) singer/songwriter, musician, aging rapper who’s just looking out over the modern day music industry cursing and sputtering, barely able to stifle his bubbling rage: “LOOK at all these shitty, talent-less mutha****as!  Garbage, I tell you!  Back in MY day, we PRACTICED!  These snotty nosed, priviledged, not-understanding-a-chitlin-circut 12 terrabyte hard drive having 5.1 surround sound headphone wearin’ do nothing twits today!  Hey numbnuts!”  *snort*

I don’t have that kind of time or energy.  That said, I agree fully with what Hank here is saying about how the music coming out today SUCKS.  It just does.  I’m sorry.  It’s lousy.  It’s the same old riffs and runs, the same old drum patches and patterns and “dry” mixing, the same voice processing, the same guitar effects, the same whining about dysfunctional, trifling relationships, ballin’ in da’ Club, over and over again.  OK – I am starting to sound a bit like that dude now..

But you all know what I’m talking about.  Classic rock and old school hip hop in particular, used to be fucking FLY.  The songs were engaging, unique, well thought out, artfully composed and played with authentic emotion and energy.  I honestly just don’t see it today.  It’s not being encouraged.  Quite the opposite.  It’s all like: viral marketing.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Myspace.  Hits.  Widgets.  Self-promotion.  Street team.  Ummm… ok.

And it’s par for the course for music studios to rent out places that feature mixboards offering 96 stand-alone tracks and more.  And I’m like: uh – what in the hell do you need all those tracks for, exactly?  I remember some years ago when I’d work with cats I was recording and they’d have 8, 10, 12 tracks for the drums alone.  I mean… (LOL) it’s cool and all!  I’m not at all mad at cracking drums on a song.  But damn?!  If you work hard enough on the sequences, you can get all this in a simple two track stereo mix of the exact same beat!   From time to time I recall wondering if these folks and other artists of a similar outlook had a feeling that, simply, More is Better – more tracks, more processing equals a better song.  Well, yes and no.  If the material is really good to begin with, and it undergoes a lot of tracking and processing and mixing, then yes.  It will get a lot better.  But there is the phenomenon of, um… polishing a turd.  If the music and lyrics are… ‘sub-standard’ – then all the processing, finalizing and remastering will not move it out of the turd column.  That is a fact, and any of the professional sound people and industry figures who are true fans of the music (not just the bottom line) will say that.  And I don’t have a tremendous amount of patience for this argument of:  “well it’s getting me paid.  I soundscanned 40,000 on the first day out.   So it must be good.”  Errr. well – people are consuming it.  That’s for sure.  But people are consuming massive amounts of junk food as well.  Cigarettes.  Alcohol.  Cocaine.  Pharmaceuticals.  Those things may all sell extraordinarily well – but it dossn’t at all mean they’re “good” in the sense I understand it: healthy, life affirming, of high quality, manufactured with care and integrity, etc.

So where Sir George fits in all of this, is where he reminds us that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was RECORDED ON A FOUR TRACK.  Yes.  You read that right.  Four tracks for the voices, the horns, the bass and piano, guitars, all of it.  Four tracks.   Done.

“I cannot see the need for more than sixteen tracks when recording.  In building our new studios in the center of London I had to decide how sophisticated our facilities should be, and while 24 and 32 tracks are possible, I think it makes the whole business of recording too expensive.  Multi track recording does not give you a better sound; it only postpones the moment of truth, and then you have to decide what your mix will be.”

A – Freaking – MEN, brutha!  Real TALK.  I often think about that when I’m working with my humble eight track set up.  I’ll think, for a moment: gosh it would be nice to have more tracks for the harmonies or the trumpet line or the droning loop.  But guess what?  Not having the tracks forces me to step up my GAME, to listen more CLOSELY to what I’ve got recorded, to think more STRATEGICALLY and CREATIVELY about what to do next.  Then, if I have to leave out something in the mix that might be overkill, I’ll do it.  If I need to bounce down tracks to a stereo mix to free up more tracks for further recording, I’ll do that.  But what’s happening is that I’m reckoning with the realities of the soundscape NOW, which forces me to draw more on faculties, attention and abilities that will ultimately make me a better artist.

Thanks to Sir George, I don’t feel like some wild eyed Luddite, space-mutant, freaky relic from the Iron Age who’s fighting every technological innovation that comes along like his life depended on it.  No!  It’s just that I realize that sometimes less IS more – less tracks, less immediate fame and access to millions of  “potential new fans”, etc… if it results in more time to step up your game!  If there WAS more time, I feel certain the music would improve and folks would gradually stop complaining about how there’s  ‘nothing good on the radio’ except the oldies.

For all those who like the new bands… enjoy your bands.  I’m not hating.  But I’m just saying.  There was a time when thought, original composition, excellent musicianship and good ol’ fashioned WORK went into it all.  And the music then is markedly different from the music now as a direct result of it.

Go Geoooorge!  Go Martin!  It’s ya’ Birthday!  It’s ya Birthday! 

*it’s my birthday, too*  (LOL)




Tonight I had the intention to be in attendance at a spiritual men’s group I was invited to by a gent I met at an encounter group – Vinay (what’s up, Vinay).  I was actually quite excited by the prospect of seeing what these fellows were talking about.  I’ve been sensing a need to have some kind of sounding board, a way of getting feedback and support on how to successfully integrate the inherently distinct (and evidently problematic) aspect of “maleness” into a healthy, balanced whole.  It’s not to say I don’t feel I’m doing that, or that I need someone else to lead me to The Answer.  It’s just that I could use anecdotes from others experiences to help me synthesize mine. 

So yes – I was into it.  I was really cranking on the book so it was hard to tear away, but I managed because it felt like the group was “up”.  But for some reason, I totally flopped.  I went to the wrong number on Fulton Street.  I thought it was 1710 and somehow I got this worked deep into what I thought was true.  It SO wasn’t!  1710 Fulton does not even exist

It turned out that – as I sometimes nervously joke to myself when I’m unsuccessfully searching for a particular destination – this really was a trip to “the 1710 Fulton Street In Your Mind {mind.. mind.. mind…trailing off}.  As I was wandering around, underneath the highway overpass, in a scruzzy part of town, i started asking myself those QUESTIONS: ok.. what am I doing here?  What is the meaning of it all?  Why am I bugging?

I picked up a Guardian, hoping to see an ad for the venue that I’d recognize as my destination.  No dice.  I had no idea where it was.  I poured over all the combinations of numbers it might be: 1410?  1215?  No.  1825?  No, it wasn’t anything above 17.  It was hopeless.  Time had run out and it was a wash.

As soon as I walked in the door, I got online and looked at the email.  TEN FIFTEEN FOLSOM!  Of course… now it lights up the board, the bells ring, the music starts.  Except it’s not the winner’s theme, but the “sorry-hope-you-had-fun” joint.  As I was writing Vinay to inform him of my foolishness, it dawned on me that this is something that comes up every so often.

After Vipassana, certain very practical things about me – the logical, fastidious Capricorn – seemed to get short circuited out.  The “old me” would have been totally anal about the details on getting there.  I would have Mapquested the location, called BART to see what time the train got to the station and where it let me off, were there any landmarks, etc.  Or I might have… ummmm… written the location on a piece of paper and tucked it into my pocket- a useful, inexpensive innovation.  At the very least i would have had a cell phone with his number in it to call him in the event that I, uh, couldn’t manage.  But I hadn’t done any of those things.  I just assumed I had it locked in my head and got up and went.  And wound up under the freeway overpass…

Last night, I was talking to my new friend Dara, a woman who lives in an apartment on the third floor.  She’s a real sweetheart: nicest kind of person you could want to meet, it seems.  She loves cats, like I do.  She’s smart, got an interesting family background and is an activist who puts her actions where her values are.  She’s also a belly dancer and happens to be quite hot.  As in, tsssssssss.  After a great deal of sermonizing about this and that, consciousness this, experiential that, connections, relevance, the whole bit, I mentioned to her that I’d taken a course in Pranic healing.  It’s an energy-based healing modality which uses chi to balance imbalances and clear blockages from the body’s aura, health rays and chakras.  She mentioned that she had a pain in her back and I told her that pranic healing might be of real use to her.  I performed a small and brief function, but was very present for what I was feeling.  It worked!  In a few moments, she was returning back to her undulating, serpentine self – the kind that has been mesmerizing and confounding and flustering men – and women for that matter – for untold centuries.

I was beside myself with happiness for her, that this short “treatment” could provide that much healing – and she’s now convinced that this could really move something.  Yay!  I’ve been wanting to practice on some folks who were really sensitive to energy and would be able to tell me exactly what was going on for them.  She seemed genuinely shocked to be able to do what she did, and it was nice for me to feel like I might be able to give, maybe, a bit of her life back to her…

not to mention the fact that I wasn’t terribly burdened watching her go through the motions of shimmying her hips and whatnot…

So what does this mean?  Again: when I was younger, which is to say, when i was that same “old me” I just referenced not too long ago, all relentlessly practical and stuff, I also was the farthest one could be from belief in all this energy, nonmaterial reality stuff.  I mean: deep down inside I probably still believed it but it was covered over by many layers of “facts”, “statistics”, “realities”.  It was all too woo-woo. 

My thinking about it at the moment, therefore, is that when we have some kind of tremendous awakening in our awareness… it’s like: a new fuse is put in the fusebox, you flip the switch and another of the older fuses gets blown.  You may still have functionality, but it’s decreased because the energy of the new system overloaded the elements of the old system and there needs to be some kind of adjusting, a reckoning with the system overall that will bring the operating elements back into balance.  Vipassana dynamited my old ego structure and let me know in the context of my own experience that I am – we all are – far greater than the ‘sum of our parts’, if I might drag out the metaphor a bit further.   Somewhere on the desert floor, up there in the Joshua Tree desert, must be microcrystalline shards of the ‘me’ that was always on time, well prepared, overdressed.  And I’m starting to suspect that I need to start overcompensating a bit on that side of things again to eke out a bit of “middle way”.

I told Vinay that if they’ll not take me to be an utter wastrel I’d like to give it another go, attempting to meet up with them.  But this time, I’ll be sure to plan appropriately with a map of San Francisco, flares, a compass, global positioning, numbers for the police department, CalTRANS and the National Guard, and a pair of kevlar working gloves.

next time, I will NOT



I did a fair bit of drinking last night at my brother’s show.  My musical colleague and homie DJ Collage was in town.  My best friend called me while I was at the show to invite me to two parties that were going on.  This morning I was contacted in email by somebody I hadn’t heard from since we’d first met and I’d assumed that that was the end of it.  A lot of stuff – particularly about reestablishing contacts and celebrating – came up over the last 48 hours.  I had no idea why everything felt so… so flowing… until my friend told me that mercury had finally gone direct.

Ah SO.  Well: hallelujah!  It’s been a loooong, a long time comin – but I know woah-ooh-woah…

So I crashed down into bed.  Whenever I’m hung over, usually on Saturday night, I wind up waking early the next morning.  8:18.. naaahh.  I determined this was not the hour for an incorrigible drunk to be up and about.  But when I tried to retreat to slumber, monkey mind kicked in and I started thinking about The Book.  I dragged out of bed more hungover than alive, dry as an episode of As Time Goes By (Keeping Up Appearances is hella funny), needing desperately to whiz.  After dispatching with that little issue I set out to write but during attempting to do research I somehow got sidetracked watching women fellate bananas on Youtube.  *sigh* I need some action

Anyhoo: I read an email about a response to something I posted and was not feeling particularly up to dealing with it.  I did what I could and then gave up trying to focus on being productive.  My mind was too scattered and now I was a bit tweaked.  Like a grumpy bear who has a momentary urge to leave the cave for a stretch but hunkers down instead when he sees the snow falling outside, I retreated back to the warmth, comfort and safety of the bed.

And I had this dream that I was in this – this long hallway or something.  Except it wasn’t a hallway that stretched horizontally, but vertically… and it reached as high as the unseen sky above.  It was dark inside and the walls, if that’s what they really were, were deep blue with a kind of greenish tinge.  I looked up and realized I couldn’t see the top, which was distressing at that time because there was also a sense that I needed to make an effort to reach it.  On either side of me were two structures running up the length of the hallway.  They resembled ladders.  In between the two ladders was a platform that I suddenly discovered I was on. 

At what felt like the same time, I found myself interacting with various entities.  At this particular level, they seemed to be humans.  There was some controversy, some wrangling I couldn’t explain.  It felt very base.  It was not a noble kind of struggle – more like a clawing or scrounging for bits and scraps.  Crumbs.  It felt so mindless, so purposeless, that I’m loathe to even recall that much.  After some indeterminate period of fighting, scraping, swinging… what I’m assuming was my body (I couldn’t see myself exactly but I felt relatively certain that I was sans clothing) would de-materialize… I don’t know – it would revert to some kind of amorphous liquid ether or something… which got sucked or otherwise propelled into the ladder type structures on the side of the hallway.

Without understanding how, why or when, I would become aware that I’d re-materialized on the platform above the one I’d just been on.  On that level, the entity to interact with would be an abstract object.  Strange shapes I couldn’t name if my life depended on it – except to call geometric – would materialize around me, swell, shift position, pulsate, shrink.  Again, I can’t say for a fact what I was doing with them but there was some kind of active reckoning with them.  After a certain amount of time doing that, I would again revert to cosmic slop to be sluiced upward in the ladder structures on the sides.  As I proceeded upward, I began to realize the issues I would deal with on the levels were moving out of the realm of physical jostling and into the arena of thought, perception, mental states and linguistics.

On and on it went like this until I reached a platform I instinctively.. I don’t know how else I could have known.. realized was the Top, the high perch I couldn’t fathom myself reaching earlier.  The air, such as it was, was very still.  It was only when a giant voice boomed out something to the effect of:




— that I realized the whole series of events had taken place in the utter absence of sound.  The voice was not completely unfriendly.  There was a hint of concern or compassion in it, but it was stern and hard and… it wasn’t so much loud as it was all permeating.  It felt like the words were blaring in my knees, my fingers, my chest, as well as reverberating in my head.  The words above are not an ad-verbatim recitation but the general idea.  I remained.. who knows whether I was sitting or standing..  waiting anxiously for what was to happen next.  I didn’t explicitly have a feeling of agency at that point, some specific means by which to give an answer to the question I’d been asked.  Yet I didn’t feel like I was utterly helpless either.  It was rather like.. like I’d made the decisions with agency, and whatever actions I took based on them had already conditioned what was about to happen.

The next thing I rememberI was sliding down.  It was not on a platform or a slide per se.  Maybe it was more like a gentle descending, a pleasantly controlled falling.  But at the same time, it felt like gliding along a surface… though there was no surface.  I observed that I was now not in the ladder apparatus anymore, but inside what I now understood to be the inner chamber, the passageway or something between the ladders.  Somehow, the blue/greenish “walls” had neat, infinite seeming rows of small black holes.  The sensation was so remarkably relaxing, so soothing, I could barely believe that this was the result of making it to the top!  WOW!  As I slid – or fell or whatever – I passed underneath the levels I’d once interacted/struggled on.  There, I would see the people I’d interacted/struggled with.  They were all smiling fondly and waving at me as I would be looking down approaching the platform, and then looking up after passing underneath.  They were now calling me by name.  Oh – I guess I didn’t mention that these people were all naked as well.   I was so fully and totally blissed out, so contented, so aware of the necessity of the journey that i could scarcely imagine it coming to an end. 

At the moment I realized that it probably must end, I found myself in another kind of chamber.  There was a similar sensation of descending, only this time it was one more clearly of drifting downward, as opposed to sliding.  And slower.   I was now facing an orange-ish ladder about the width of whatever was apparently supposed to be my ‘body’.  As I drifted downward, I could see there were various pictures between the rungs… black and white photos, standard letter-paper size, with various random scenes depicted: farms, battlefields, city streets, what appeared to be a pile of turds (?!), mid-1950s b movie depictions of outer space, etc.  There was this looping, redundant, inescapably, jive-ly funky mid 70s wah wah guitar and bass lick playing (no drums), while a narration in a voice somewhere between carnival-ish and maybe “movie-phone”-ish went: Thank You For Coming!  If You Enjoyed Your Visit, Be Sure To Invite A Friend The Next Time…  Again: the sensation was absolutely relaxed and tingly.  As awesome as it was, the feeling was texturally different than that of the sliding down in the other chamber.  At this point, I had more of what I would call explicit consciousness that this was a dream I was in.  And as the 70s soundtrack began to have discordant bass undertones sounding underneath, I realized I was returning to an awakened state.  The point at which I wearily, blearily began trying to open my eyes, I discovered the bass rumblings were coming from my upstairs neighbor’s apartment, blasting the blues on a Sunday morning.  Hmmm… blues doesn’t seem like exactly the right kind of music for a Sunday morning.  Isn’t that “last night’s” music?  I’d think Gospel, the sound of finding Jesus, would be more like it, huh?  Anyhoo, there I was… the residual groovy bodily sensation slowly draining away.  I was getting clingy and anxious as I’d grown quite used to the feeling. 

Inevitably, it was gone.  I was back in the material world.

Later on, after talking to my friend, I discovered that this dream had all the hallmarks of a shamanic journey.  The color, the ladders, the beings, all critical elements.  I hadn’t conceived it this way, but she made the point that the beings in these journeys are typically ‘humanoid’.  It dawned on me that although the beings had all the requisite human forms: torso, head, arms, legs, they didn’t necessarily appear to be precisely and exactly “people”. 

Here I was – contemplating ayahuasca, mushrooms, LSD and the like…

and it turns out to be plain ol’, brown bag, sold on the corner, cause-and-solution-of-all-life’s-problems with a twist of lime BOOZE which effectively sets me on a mystical voyage!  HA!!

… okay so no, the alcohol was probably not the cause of the journey.  But it’s a little bit entertaining to fathom that it might be. 

Maybe that’s why they call them “spirits”…?


A couple of nights ago I was thinking about the way nobody I sent my email to asking for input in developing my new philosophy responded specifically to my request.   As I lay, typically twisting and reshuffling the pillows, my mind began racing toward a conclusion I now see was forgone… I have to write a book.

As I watch Charlie Rose interviewing a distinguished roundtable of social critics reviewing the life and works of John Updike, I’m thinking very strongly that getting published is the way I’m going to have these ideas widely disseminated, discussed and hopefully implemented.

So that’s it.  And Away We Gooooooo! *deep breath*


There is a solar eclipse at the Aquarius new moon on the 26th January and a lunar eclipse at the full moon on the 10th February in Leo.  Eclipses have a tendency to intensify situations and bring hidden energies to the surface. It is wise to avoid making major decisions or starting new projects just before an eclipse, as new information often comes to light at the time of the eclipse, forcing us to revise our plans.

I was really excited to take off with a meeting.  It was my big idea to convene a summit with some of my peeps to help me expand on the new philosophy my friend and I are conceiving.  So I sent out a fairly long and heartfelt email to these people asking them to get involved.  Out of about 14 folks, I heard back from 6.  What they wrote back had nothing to do with my request, but with new developments in their lives.    Interviews they did, events they’d attended, projects they were starting, this kind of thing.  Huh?  I was glad to hear of these things for sure, but confused when the responses started coming in.  Actually, I’d been worried that the emails went out all funky because when I looked at what I’d sent, it was all mucked up with strange cha6ract/ers and strikethroughs.  My friend explained that this was due to Microsoft’s proprietary text coding on Word, which doesn’t translate well online.  Oy.  OK.  Gotcha.  But by the time the 5th and 6th non-related emails came back from folks – and I knew they must have been responding to what I sent because these were people I haven’t heard from in ages – I was jus’ like; what’s really paapin’ right now?! 

I wish I’d read the above astrological prediction before I made that effort.  All of this was one or two days before the lunar eclipse.  It never ceases to amaze me how on point the skies are in suggesting what’s going on down here.  When my friend – daughter of court astrologer to Timothy Leary (!) – did my full chart based on my time and place of birth, I was floored, embarrassed and a bit paranoid at how spot-freaking-on it was.  All strengths and weaknesses were there on full display.  Of course, all astrologers are not created equal and a totally off reading can justify the most reactionary stance.  But the good ones are REALLY good.  And now one was telling me it was a bad idea to start trying to solicit help for this new project. 

Why?  I think that, amidst all the enthusiasm around the new era we’re apparently entering… everyone has a story, an exciting new angle.  I mean, it would have been nice for at least one person to respond directly to my request.  When I look it more objectively (I have to), I imagine my email could be received the same way by others. 

Then again, I just wonder – do people even care about emails anymore?  Do we just hit “send” reflexively, no particular thoughts about what we’re pushing out there into the world?  I don’t, anyway.  Do these things even get read?  It’s overwhelming to me at times when I have 23 new emails in a 12 hour period… and none of them are to me specifically.  It’s also kind of a drag.  And I also know this figure is likely laughably low to many out there, whose 12 hour email rate is closer to 78, or maybe 131 or higher.

Well – I did get one detailed response to a request i sent out.  This one was to a well known Bay Area magazine asking them to consider publishing the essay.  His verdict was that the piece was “interesting”, but that I was not prepared for the criticism various interest groups would have for what I’m trying to get across and anyway, they were not prepared to accept a “nominal fallacy”. 

Couple of things about that.

I notice lots and lots of naysaying and poo-poohing about stuff.  Looks like Obama’s victory hasn’t changed that.  Wow.  In spite of a world transforming victory, folks still just don’t have any kind of genuine faith in our ability to change, to overcome old assumptions, to transcend our current definitions and limiting beliefs.  But see; one of the BIGGEST THINGS about Barry’s victory in the first place is how much of a long shot candidate he was in the beginning!  He wrote a whole book about the audacity of hope!  ~Guess I should read it, by the way~  They told us it Couldn’t Be DONE… didn’t they? 

Plus: as a writer, I’ve been criticized by the best – or the worst, according to your temperament.  And as a conscious Hip Hop artist I’ve been in situations where I needed to be prepared to defend myself physically for the things I was saying.  I think I’m more or less ready for criticism from New-agers, environmentalists and Libertarians…

Robert Oppenheimer, father of the a-bomb, was toweringly, alienatingly brilliant and appeared to endure some degree of social awkwardness outside of the scientific community.. and even within it.  I was watching the American Experience episode about him earlier.  I am soooo far from being anything resembling a nuclear physicist (I struggled to escape algebra II with my hide intact in high school).  I’m still struggling to figure out how the heisenberg principle applies specifically to the trajectory of development of my ‘human potential’.  Is the unknown point the rest period?  Or is it the motion period?  I can see the most novice undergraduate physics student rolling their eyes at this amateurish inquiry.  That said: I’m a nerd in my own way and I think I can relate partly to the thing about being an egghead with some kind of general tendency to be received in ways I don’t intend.  Fortunately, I hear my personal affectations mitigate this to a point… unless I’m being lied to when folks tell me I’m “so cute” or “charming”.

It’s not ringing my phone off the hook though – or getting my emails answered in any particularly relevant way. (LOL)


** oh well – my man Herbie Hancock is on the radio right at the moment, so everything is awwwwl riiiiight… or anyway relentlessly funky, which I’ll take with relish (and mustard!) **


These last days.. well really 2009 so far, has been one solar blast after another.  Hanging out with Nene was one moment of respite because of her youthful energy.  But when she, my brother, cousin and some others got back from the club I was supposed to attend with them and let me know about the lecherous guy who grabbed someone’s booty and then got socked and a fracas broke out which some people leapt into and others were conspicuously on the side and etc (it goes on) – it made me woozy just listening to it.  But then theyturned the retelling of the whole thing up at my brother’s place into an impromptu dance party, fueled by dancehall videos on youtube.  THAT was a first – a house party spun by a website… but I guess this is the new millennium stylee.  My legs were sore for two days afterward so I must have been really throwing down.  It’s not completely clear because I was a bit sauced.  I had a nice conversation with my cousin’s new friend, and that was really fly as well.  At the end she said some stuff that really gave me a sense that she’d heard, understood and appreciated what I was trying to get across.  I wish Nene could have stayed longer.

The next night I went to my best friend’s birthday dinner.  One of the gifts I’d bought her she already had.  The wife of one of the people in the group – someone I’d never met – made her single substantial comment to me something about me pocketing some of the money paid for the bill, and then why putting it on my card would make me feel like i had more in the bank.  Then there was a heated and intense confrontation over race that I was essentially caught in the middle of. 

I’d been totally unable to reach the EDD office about my unemployment and that was causing some consternation.  Was the phone system busted?  Either way, I needed to get a response.  It’s essentially the way I’m paying rent right now.   The day before the inauguration I tried without success to get through on the line.  Then I tried to go to the internet cafe and start writing to people about participating in my manifesto building project.  I got so carried away by videos, posts and articles about the election and the swearing in that I just couldn’t focus on the task at hand.  Later on that evening I tried to sleep but my mind was too busy.  Then I tried meditating.  Monkey mind was most def on a tear!  Oy!  My goal was to try and attend an early morning inauguration event but in order to be there precisely at the given time I’d have to get up at six in the morning.  No sleep was coming so I just got up and drafted what was primarily the focus of my obsessive mental chatter… an email to the people i want to have involved with the development of my new term for the new age.  This took me up until five thirty in the morning.

My first instinct was to just jettison the notion of sleep at all for the night and to make my way to the Parkway theater, where the event was going to be held.  But instead I opted to try and give myself two hours.  Accordingly, I was extremely irritable, foggy and bleary eyed.  I still actually am.  My cousin, whose plan it was to meet me there, left a message on my cell I somehow didn’t get saying not to bother coming to the Parkway at all.

When I did arrive at about 7:45, the line was down the block.  The people were talking about how they’d been there for over an hour and the line hadnt moved.  Someone came up from the direction of the front of the theater announcing “they’re not letting anyone else in.  They’re full”.  My cousin saw me and came over from the other side of the street, informing me that he’d gotten there at around six and the line was already stretching around the corner.

The internet cafe I go to is right across from the theater though, so we went over there and walked in the door just in time, as the overflow capacity the owner was there to provide for the Parkway was topping out.  After crouching down uncomfortably, sitting on my knees, then hands, I finally settled in.  My cousin stood against the window in the front of the cafe, packed in with a gaggle of neighborhood folk. 

Then the procedures got underway.

For those few tremendous, fleeting moments – I mean it was over two hours but the gravity of it all made it feel much shorter – all the aggrivation, complication, the weariness, it all melted away.  And suddenly there we all were: all ages, races, sharing in this inconceivably profound nationwide… worldwide… experience.  Sometimes the video would seem to go ahead or behind the sound.  The picture would flicker.  You’d hear strange digital delay type echoes.  Justice Roberts flubbed the actual words.  And yet, suspended in a time-neutralized capsule, an invisible but palpable field of stretching horizons, endless possibilities, the swearing in and speech of the first black president of the United States transported the world collectively to another dimension.  I could feel the molecules of material reality reformulating, rearranging, all around me.  Even as I was not particularly thunderstruck by the speech as a whole (it was predictably lacking in specifics), there were things he said which briefly came over me like waves of electricity; things about being a friend of each nation, our military power is not matched by the power of our ideas,  the time to put small things away, and a number of other cleverly worded retorts to the fiasco of the last eight years.  As I viscerally experienced the dying fall of Bush’s catastrophic worldview, being replaced right in front of my half-nonbelieving eyes with the pledge to remake the world anew, I let myself, just for a minute, believe… just believe, without adding disclaimers and caveats.  I thought about the majestic buildings of the Capitol – rising out of the swamp over 200 years ago at the hands of African slaves.  As they labored, they sang about a freedom, an untrammeled joy they could not have known in any material, bodily way.  And now their harmonious prayer, having rafted up to the heavens, reverberated and returned to the earth on this day, was being answered as a black man, a black family (granny and all) was at long last walking into the house they built so long ago.  ”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal…”

The stirring, swelling energy crackling in these words, pulled from some strange, mythical ether, pulsed through the air like a perfumed melody.  As such… it was utterly intoxicating.

Nobody could deny, can deny, the uniqueness of this place, the United States of America; a land where we can now, in good faith, proclaim that the government of, for and by the people has indeed not perished from the earth.  It remains a shining beacon, a lamp unto the world of the freedom to dare to dream, to make bigger plans than you can initially carry out , to achieve, to overcome, to reconcile… to Be.

What a mood.  What a spirit.  I think we are all edified today.. made all the more gorgeously, intractably complex by the unaffected way Obama himself delivered this edification.

As I look back on it all now, the order and usefulness of everything that occurred up until then is revealed.  If it hadn’t been for the club fracas, I wouldn’t have gotten to spend that time with my sister (who woke me up to come up to my brother’s flat and join them), nor to receive that wonderful acknowledgment from my cousin’s friend.   If the woman at the table hadn’t made her comment, I wouldn’t have had the chance to observe what felt like racism but which didn’t move me to respond in a way which would dampen my good friend’s birthday celebration.  If the (totally unrelated) race conflict had not gone down, i wouldn’t have had a chance to exercise my mediating skills – skills I suspect I will need at some point, given what I’ve got in mind to do.  And today, I called EDD, got through and started the extension of my benefits.  It’s far from a windfall but it will make the forthcoming abundance possible. 

There’s plenty of work yet to do… on all of our parts.  I think some critical objectivity about Obama’s cabinet, some of his geopolitical positions and historical readings, are in order.  I think the talk about sacrifice and giving up of things was crucial to making the next four years work… but I don’t believe people are really taking it up for what it is.   But the one thing that rings loud and clear from the inauguration, this day and all the complicated days leading up to it, is that all of what’s at stake at this dramatic moment in history is up to us.  Just the same way the ball was in my court how I chose to perceive the things happening.. it’s in our court now.  As explicit a message as he’s given about the action that will be required of the citizenry insofar as volunteering, becoming active, assuming leadership – I personally feel like: at last.  FINALLY, we have someone we can work with to bring about the kind of just, peaceful, joyous, sustainable, functionally holistic world so many of us imagine.

It’s just that the ball is in our court.  It’s our decision to make.