Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Merry Machu Picchu Christmas!

Yuko & I made it to Machu Picchu last summer and shared some egg nog with these cute little critters.

Starting out on the trek at Ollantaytambo - three nights along the Inca trail.

We had every kind of weather - sun, rain, mist and as it was August (winter in Peru) even snow. Here we are looking like a couple of gnomes who wandered away from the garden.

It was an amazing feeling to behold this first thing in the morning. The Incas knew how to use the natural world to produce living spaces that were both awe-inspiring and practical in their design.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Crime Of Tolerance: Let's Make A Deal

"Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil"
- Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
If Thomas Mann was right, and tolerance in the face of evil is a crime, then what does a poor guy like Lando Calrissian do, clown shoes or not?

With all the compromises made around US health care, the parallels are obvious. Thanks to Darth Lieberman's ever shifting parameters, it's now just a withered shade of what it could be. That's what happens when the insurance industry gets to call the shots. Has Obama become his greatest foe, an embodiment of Blake's "The Grey Monk"?
The iron hand crush'd the Tyrant's head
And became a Tyrant in his stead
Or when he says, as he did in Oslo last week, “We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace,” has he mastered Keats' "negative capability"?

As Yoda said, "Do, or do not. There is no 'try."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Musical Biography: My U2 Book

Christmas has come early to my home - my new book is here and it's available to order at Amazon. Gift certificates make an ideal stocking stuffer...

What?! Another book on a bloated bunch of has-beens from the 80s?! Lou Reed said it best:
Does anybody need another self-righteous rock singer
Whose nose he says has led him straight to God?

But this book is different. I wrote it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Nowhere Boy: John Lennon

"A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror."

-Sigmund Freud
John Lennon was something of a conqueror. He was fierce, jubilant, a bully for sure, but courageous enough to cry and be achingly vulnerable. It was twenty-nine years ago that he was gunned down by "a local screwball" who thought he was the "catcher in the rye" and that John was the pied piper leading everyone over the edge.

John was forty - two years younger than I am now. Unbelievable. I feel I've still got so much ahead of me. I was thirteen the night of his death. There was snow in White Rock and I'd just finished a hockey practice at the rink in Centenial Park. When I got home a news bulletin flashed across the TV screen - "John Lennon shot and killed. News at 11." Here's a clip from that night with Ted Koppel and Geraldo Rivera:

There's a new film on the way - Nowhere Boy - about his early years with the main focus reportedly on his mother Julia and Aunt Mimi who raised him after Julia was killed by a drunk driver.

I hadn't seen this before - it's Paul listening to an old recording of he & John singing "Searchin'" followed by John's "Beautiful Boy" while struggling to hold back the tears:

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Joe Strummer: The Right Profile

The first time I heard Give 'Em Enough Rope was revelatory. I shot back to the placid surroundings of my wood-paneled, shag-carpeted living room and carefully placed the needle on the vinyl. As the opening caterwaul of "Safe European Home" kicked in, something physical hit me; my hands began to tremble, my face twisted into contortions of awe and pleasure.

It felt like someone had lit off a Molotov cocktail in every one of my pubescent adrenalin glands. Never had I heard, or felt anything like it before. By the time the venomous spark of "English Civil War" and "Tommy Gun" exploded into the room the foundation of my little anti-septic suburban world was collapsing before my eyes.

Joe's voice - rude and urgent, guts in every syllable, shredded through the speakers as though his life and mine depended on it. Like most cataclysmic events, it was frightening and took some time to sink in. After it did and I was able to make some sense of it all, nothing was ever the same. From that moment on, I knew I wouldn't wait for a green light from anyone; I had to decide for myself when to stay or when to go.