Archive for the music Category

Purplelectric PassionRain & April WeepingSnow

Posted in music on May 3, 2016 by furious buddha

Every human being loves music; the way you can tell who the alien androids are is by their indifference to our rhythmic noises. We all love and appreciate it differently, however. My appreciation is for the singer, not the song, generally speaking. This is to say that I do not like a genre of music so much as I love an artist; that is, I’m not a fan of ‘jazz’ but I have every John Coltrane album. I don’t much like ‘country’ but I have all of Johnny Cash’s music. When I find an artist that resonates with me I cannot help but embrace them deeply and fully. Bowie was one of those artists that I followed completely, intrigued even by the turns and alleys the critics and public ignored or loathed; I haven’t written much about him because I put him onstage in my ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and that expressed my grief more eloquently than writing here could have. But I need to talk about this.

I’m listening to his last concert which is just him at a piano. It’s the tour I always wanted to see; my favorite part of any of his shows was when he would sit at the piano and play for twenty minutes to give the band a break before the big finale. Much of what has been said about him was his mastery of musicianship and ability to play all the instruments on his records but when you saw him live you realized that he was playing the whole band like an instrument. And just now I realized the reason he was finally doing this tour was because he couldn’t have fronted a band the way he had even six months earlier. He has just slipped from ‘Dirty Mind’ into an enthusiastic cover of Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Linus & Lucy’ that just broke into ‘Little Red Corvette’.

When he was twelve years old and basically homeless he stood outside of a McDonald’s to smell the food; he died forty five years later in the elevator of his mansion with an estate worth a minimum of $300 million dollars.

He’s doing ‘How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore’, a b-side from thirty four years ago and everyone in the audience is singing along. This recording is terrible, from someone’s phone in the crowd but I can hear the music and feel the show. And it’s such a great show. He actually just did ‘Girl’ earlier in the show (around 15:15 on the Soundcloud link above. Ahem.) and it blew me away. ‘Girl’ was the b-side to ‘America’, which was the last single from ‘Around the World in a Day’. I always loved it despite (or because) it sounded like a half finished demo track that escaped from the vault. But here, stripped down to its bright beautiful hook and his amazing vocal it sounds like a classic. Then ‘I Would Die 4 U’ starts and everyone in the place goes nuts.

The ten minute version of ‘I Would Die 4 U’ has been a near constant companion since I tracked down a German import of it on CD back when I worked at the Wrecka Stowe in the early 90’s. Back in those pre-internet days you had to put effort into getting music; it is difficult to explain to The Youth and even hard for The Olds to remember, but there was something very satisfying about tracking down music that you had only heard about as opposed to the empty ease of YouTube. When I found a copy of ‘The Black Album’ in a record store in Decatur, Illinois in the summer of 1988, I felt a little like Indiana Jones. I just spun it again on Saturday night at my little brother’s house at a rather terrific party. I had listened to ‘I Would Die 4 U’ on the way there. It’s a live studio performance of how he was doing the song as a closer on the Purple Rain tour; I’ve probably listened to it five thousand times and I always get chills from it.

He’s doing ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ with Marley’s ‘I Don’t Want to Wait in Vain’. It’s seamless, like they were written as a pair. Everyone is talking about his guitar playing but  when the crowd is quiet the piano sounds like water on diamonds.

I discovered him when I was in junior high and that was it. My mom confiscated my ‘Dirty Mind’ tape but I just learned how to go underground to find Uptown. My father worried I was gay because I had his posters up in my room. I bought every album, single, and bootleg I could get my hands on. I went to shows when I could catch him and regretted every one I missed. As so many people have said in the past few days, his music is incredibly important to me.

Oh Jesus, he’s doing Sometime It Snows In April. When I was sixteen years old playing the Parade album for the first time sitting alone in my bedroom I broke into tears when I heard this song. It’s a sad song, but I was mystified by my own tears. Then five years later my best friend was killed by a drunk driver on April 1st and my memory of that time was tattooed with this song. It’s a great song but I rarely let it play if I was listening to Parade or if it came up on the shuffle. Then when I heard the news it began playing in my head on a loop. And it’s turning out it’s one of the last songs he ever played.

And then the first few verses of Purple Rain with Computer Blue & Diamonds & Pearls in the break and then back to Purple Rain and then the music is over.

the blackstar passes/#trulymadlydeeply

Posted in art, current events, days in the life, film, music, poetry with tags , on January 14, 2016 by furious buddha

I had been worried about David Bowie for months, since I saw Blackstar, the profound and haunting music video he released in anticipation of his album that came out last Friday.

Juliette@ElusiveJ actually sums up how I feel about it best: We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.

I began rehearsal with a moment of silence on Monday. I was already going to base Oberon on Jareth but I’m going to be much more explicit about it now. Maybe I will base all the fairies on a different Bowie .


It’s a few days later. I based all the fairies on different Bowie personas.The costume and makeup people are besides themselves with joy.

You should buy the new Bowie record. It’s amazingly good but I am not an objective critic and in any case I’ve only listened to the song ‘Blackstar’ repeatedly this week. I started to watch the ‘Lazarus’ video but I turned it off. I wasn’t ready for it yet. I’m going to dole out the new songs over the course of the year.

Tonight I held a long moment of silence for Alan Rickman.

Alan Rickman was a tremendous actor.
He played the sort of villain you wanted to root for, which is a real trick, and he embodied Severus Snape with the sort of humanity that made him the most interesting character in a series full of very interesting characters. He was an actor’s actor; an original.
One of my favorite films is ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’; if you want to understand the difference between Hollywood films and independent film, watch it along with ‘Ghost’. They were made around the same time with a very similar premise but could not be more different films. Watch it this weekend.



R. Batty’s Incept Date Jamboree Mix Tape

Posted in current events, days in the life, music on January 11, 2016 by furious buddha


I left you a voicemail. I’m sorry.
I’m also sorry that I write personal letters to you on a blog that horrible people occasionally lurk at.

I’m babbling. I’ve erased and rewritten so many paragraphs.

I want to comfort you and make you feel better. I love you, plain and simple, and I know how you love your Mom and how much it must hurt for her to be gone, regardless of how she finally passed.

She was a wonderful lady. Julia watched me weep tonight describing her and that’s when she told me that I should be down there next Saturday morning. So, I can’t promise yet but I’m figuring it out.

I started to tell you about my week on the phone and I’m so fucking sorry that I’m such an idiot. I’m sorry I tried to tell you about how fucking terrible my Wednesday was, when the stomach flu Little Dude brought home from Pre K hit me during the midday shift at the Clown Factory. I had skipped breakfast and while swinging through the cafeteria, had downed a bowl of beef barley soup around ten thirty in the morning. This was a tremendous mistake as I explosively vomited it at a toilet three hours and ten minutes later completely undigested, just as the fever aches and shivering chills set upon me. I was soaked with sweat and was whirling with nausea. I managed to get home and collapse into a lumpy futon in the toy/guest room (so as to not infect Julia or re-infect Tony) for more or less two days. Julia called me a big baby. Friday night after I had showered, shaved  and re-conquered solid food Julia vomited dinner at our toilet.

She has this weird thing about sickness that reminds me of Lily where she thinks illness is almost like a matter of willpower or morality or something; she refused to admit that she had the stomach flu because she had barely acknowledged that I had it. She had insisted that I had eaten something that hadn’t agreed with me and thrown up my meds and that’s what had messed me up and that I was probably just being a baby about having thrown up anyway. This afternoon as she laid in the dark bedroom shivering in a pool of feversweat that I mopped from her brow she acknowledged that perhaps there had been a communicable agent involved.

I don’t know  why I’m telling you this.

The TV just turned itself on.  Weird.
I’m basically alone in the house. Julia is sleeping deeply and Tony is having a sleepover with his cousins. This was supposed to be a date night tonight for us but she’s sick and besides I’m days behind in work; I missed the readthrough and had to cancel the first rehearsal of the show I’m doing.

I loved your Mom, she hugged me like I was her own and made me feel at home.

I remember one of first if not the first time we had a good cup of tea together and watched a movie it was 1988 and the movie was ‘Blade Runner’. Years later we’d fall asleep to it when we were living at the Castle, but we watched it at the first place I had lived at with Shosh, the top two stories of that huge corner house. God that place was amazing. We were in the attic, digging the movie. Wulf and Gargunza and maybe Handsome Paulie were there. Or maybe it was Indianna Brad. This wasn’t the same night you had sprayed red vomit over the upstairs bathroom when you became a Viking. Netheria would have been the only girl there, naturally. But we watched ‘Blade Runner’ together on the upholstered sofa in the attic with the cool windows on the small TV in a violet haze of cooling tea in 1988, and it was a perfect moment twenty seven years ago.

I still love that movie. Rutger Hauer plays Roy Batty, the android or ‘replicant’ that Harrison Ford hunts. One of the things Batty wants to find out is how old he is (they have false implanted memories which give them the illusion of adult maturity and ‘experience’), which he does, and it turns out he’s four years old and his ‘incept date’ was January 8th, 2016, which was yesterday as I write this on Saturday night. We are living in the future of our childhoods.

Mortality and Identity are all tied up together. It is not my mortality I fear, but loss of my identity, and by that I mean that which I am attached to by love; my family, friends, collaborators, and teachers for example. While art and literature are certainly important to who I consider myself to be my attachment to them is trivial before that of my attachment to my son.

Now, in the bright light of Sunday morning as I resume this, my four year old son is playing, rampaging through our sunny nest full of joys and toys in the quiet corner lot. I am a full blown domestic suburban daydream daddy these days…

My God, David Bowie has died.

I do not even know how to begin talking about that right now. I mean, yes, I was just going on about mortality & identity but… …that is a different post.

I am so glad, however, Kenny, that you just made the joke to me and Gargunza about death trilogies and how that you thought it was weird that your ma would be in one with Lemmy and Bowie; it makes a certain amount of cosmic sense to me because that’s how cool your ma was, Kenny.

I am so sorry. I will try to be there Saturday.

My unlimited love to y’all,



III. just as new as before

Posted in art, music, poetry on January 1, 2016 by furious buddha

everything is just as new as before
& only our perspective shifts
creating the illusion of change

slide across planes
of experiential phenomena
& believe in the ride
for the best effect
sincerity makes all the difference

all i want all i need
is the oyster of everything
is what the gospel choir
sang in my dream
with drums pounding beneath
all i want all i need
is they oyster of everything
sung languid and slow
frantic rhythm below
all i want all i need
is the oyster of everything

Terrible Jokes, Awkward Stories and Days in the Life.

Posted in art, books, days in the life, film, music, poetry, pop culture, religion on October 16, 2015 by furious buddha


So, a Catholic Priest, an Imam, and a Rabbi walk into a bar. The Priest orders a glass of red wine and blesses it. The Rabbi orders a glass of Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine and drinks it. The Imam has a Diet Pepsi. The Mormon waitress condemns them all.

A man with a monkey on one shoulder and a parrot on the other rides a horse into a bar. The bartender says, “Get those filthy fucking animals out of here or I’m calling the cops!”

So a Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog stand and says, “make me one with everything.” And the hot dog guy says, “Aren’t you supposed to be a vegetarian?”

I was just telling someone about how for your birthday one year we went to the Field Museum to see the Darwin exhibit, when we were standing in front of a collection of the species of carnivorous plants and I said, “well, that kind of blows the concept of vegetarianism to hell.”
The other guy in the exhibit laughed.

I marvel at how light a quarter century feels; It was around that long ago we went walking around your old high school while you felt nostalgic for four years earlier. Then we got even more very drunk; God, do you remember that breakfast? We had all slept for forty five minutes and were still reeking of booze when we threw on suits and had breakfast with your family. Wulf didn’t take off his sunglasses the entire time. Then we went and got your ass married to that lunatic. I mean, she was a beautiful lunatic, and I was making the exact same mistake with Persephone, after all. I’ve told you about how I proposed to her, didn’t I? So, we were at her sister’s wedding which was at the Park Ridge Country Club, and Persi was the Maid of Honor. We were like, twenty at the time. So, the wedding was in the morning but the reception wasn’t going to start for hours so nearly everyone left to get lunch or whatever and the wedding party went to go take pictures. I had nothing to do but sit at the bar all afternoon. By the time the cocktail party started at four, I was loaded. By the time dinner started at six English was pretty much a second language. By the time the speeches at finished and dancing started I was proposing to Persephone. I don’t remember much else about the night.

Do you remember how we used to drink? Neither can I.

Right now the shuffle brought up ‘Ring of Fire’ as covered by Wall of Voodoo. It’s pretty cool, actually. Julia is binge watching a terrible show called ‘Reign’ so I threw on headphones and I’m listening to music and writing to you. We are relishing quiet adult time while little dude sleeps. He just turned four a few weeks ago and we had a big party for him at our house. There are elements of the castle here in our house. We have an (inoperable) fireplace with built-in bookshelves alongside it in the living room. Julia has painted the rooms in vivid colors and they are filled with books and toys and musical instruments and our art on the walls. We have a corner lot with a big yard. I’m six minutes away from work. Mom and Dad are good; Tony calls them Nana and Coco.

Toilet training has been kind of emotionally brutal. I am taking a Zen approach but it can be exhausting. We’ve tried it all and are kind of stuck in a good cop bad cop cycle with him and I don’t think it’s good but it’s the dynamic we keep reverting to and I can’t help but be good cop. But then its all over and we are in bed singing to him. There’s a lullabye I’ve been singing to him since he was probably two years old and now he demands I sing it to him every night and it’s the highlight of my day life; first I sing it by myself, then Julia and Little Tony sing it with me. We end up doing it three times at least before you do Mama’s songs. It’s to the tune of Silent Night and I came up with the words over time. He calls it ‘Sweet Little Boy’.

Sweet little boy
Dear little boy
I love you
You’re my joy
I love you more than all words could say
More every night and every day
I love you so much
Oh, I love you so much

I know it’s doggerel but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever written because it’s the first song my son ever learned to sing.

I know that there will be a day when I won’t be singing him to sleep anymore and it makes me indescribably sad.

It’s the next day and I’ve gotten home from work for a little bit before I have to go back out and they’re out and I’m listening to Bjork’s ‘Army of Me’ and writing to you. Here’s the thing about having a kid; I’m doing more real writing than I ever did when I was single. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been blogging very regularly; I’ve written over 20,000 words of a novel this year as well as producing some of the best paintings I’ve yet done while working full time at the Clown Factory and I am still a fully present dad who doesn’t miss dinner or night night. And the Clown Factory is just going smashing, with a kind of Imperials vs the Rebellion vibe giving things an extra spice to my days. Plus I had a meeting last night for the little theater company I’m helping start up; I’m directing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ this winter.

It’s the evening. I got home late but not too late to sing him down to sleep, so hooray for that and Captain Spaulding. Julia is still watching this terrible show. It’s like if the CW did the War of the Roses. I have to tell you brother, I never have known a woman quite like her and that is why we work. We bring out good things in each other. And even though she usually has awesome taste this show is so terrible I’m putting on my headphones and  ‘We Love You’ by the Stones is on my shuffle; it’s such a great psychedelic tune and has a certain distinction because John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing on the chorus and Lennon’s voice is very clear at the end of the song as he seems to knock over a glass. I don’t understand why it never seems to get played anywhere.

I’ve read several excellent books lately. If you’re in the mood for some light magical realism I really enjoyed ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman. My friend Wendy has gotten me reading memoirs and I discovered I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing; ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is a deeper piece of writing than you would think. The problem is that the film is a story of a pretty white lady taking an extended vacation and falling in love with a hot older man which completely misses the point of the book; it is her writing which is relevant, not the narrative. ‘The Way of the Samurai’ by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, ‘The Glass Bead Game’ by Hesse, and ‘Brave New World’ are all books that somehow evaded me until this last year but are now nestled into the Core. Speaking of, did you guys see ‘Inside Out’ yet? Little dude loved it almost as much as me and Mama did. Pixar consistently makes not only some of the best family films but some of the best films of all time.

I’m sorry my reply to your email was so brief. I didn’t know what else to say and have been thinking about you since I sent it and I’m hoping they figure it all out. The hospital sucks except for how they perform miracles of science there. Hopefully they’ll have you out by Monday. I just wanted to give you a little something to read. Get some rest and give my love to those around you and yourself.

Unlimited Love,



Art Official Plectrum of the Electrum Age #Prince

Posted in art, current events, music, pop culture with tags , , , on October 13, 2014 by furious buddha

It’s Sunday night around eleven. I just started the shuffle of the pair of new Prince albums with ‘U Know’. It starts sinuous and sparse and blows up into big lush beauty. I’ve been living in these records for a week and they have been so good for my newpower soul; I have been one of the two million people who have bought every Prince album for over thirty years now and these are crazy amazing, the gold standard, indeed. I got the digital copies last Saturday and the discs came in the mail on Wednesday; I brought them over to Wendy’s to play for her but her computer doesn’t have a disc drive that could play a CD.

Thirty years ago Lara gave me ‘Purple Rain’ for Christmas on cassette and we played it at New Years in Paul’s yard on a boombox while we had a snowball fight. These albums address the distance between these moments in various ways including the artwork; the cover of ‘Art Official Age’ features Prince standing in front of what are clear vinyl lp’s from his Paisley Park label and the inside cover reverses the colors and replaces the lp’s with binary code. Time may be my favorite song as well as the theme that runs through both records. ‘Art Official Age’ looks forward to a timeless future and is linked by a loose concept that the Artist has awoken after 45 years in suspended animation; in this it is reminiscent of albums such as ‘Ƭ̵̬̊’ or the Gold Experience and provides opportunity for trippy operatic melodrama that cocoons very powerful personal expression such as ‘Way Back Home’ which evoked tears from me. ‘Art Official Age’ is a great modern r&b record in the same vein as ‘Controversy’; slick yet soulful with distinctly baroque production and melodic funk as sweet as it is nasty that has themes that embrace the spiritual and carnal with equal passion.

When I was fifteen my mom took my double cassette of ‘Controversy’/Dirty Mind’ and hid it because she heard ‘Sister’ from the ‘Dirty Mind’ side leaking out of my headphones. ‘Dirty Mind’ was a brilliant punk funk rock record that was a bunch of demos recorded while on tour and was as raw as ‘Controversy’ was sleek. Recorded without overdubs with 3rdEyeGirl, ‘Plectrum Electrum’ is  is to ‘Dirty Mind’ as ‘Art Official Age’ is to ‘Controversy’ or any of the other gemini pairings that can be found throughout his career; the song FUNKNROLL shows up on both records in different forms, reminiscent of how ‘When 2 Are In Love’ tied together The Black Album and Lovesexy. While Prince can play the studio like an instrument, he is also the best bandleader of his age and 3rdEyeGirl is as great a band as he has ever assembled. He is generous with letting them shine and takes advantage of their vocal gifts. If you don’t enjoy Prince, I don’t know why you’re still reading this so I’ll just pretend you’re not; the rest of you, buy them both and shuffle them up and let them be your background for a bit. Let them soak in like a bubble bath where you keep your pants on, savor them with the exquisite taste of 100% Italian silk, imported Egyptian lace, wear them like Cynthia Rose’s happy face.


Wendy, if you haven’t seen this…

Posted in current events, music, poetry, pop culture on July 17, 2014 by furious buddha

…watch it.