Friday, November 27, 2009


i guess i'm crazy but when this guy died, it marked the end of something that michael jackson couldn't even guess at understanding. such is life in the big world that never stops spinning & refuses to mark the passing of the great ones. that's suppose to be up to us & i guess we miss it more often than not.
"machine gun" gave us a taste at where hendrix was going.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"i ain't wasting time no more..."

"There ain’t no revolution, only evolution, but every time I’m in Georgia I 'eat a peach' for peace."

rex had the allman's right, along w/skynard. listening to these guys now, i just don't see what held us back. there was the redneck factor, i suppose, but hell, i was listening to hank williams & merle haggard. talking w/rex the last time back in p'cola, he just shook his head when he said, "these guys were in their late teens & early 20s when they were doing this stuff." it's true. duane allman was 25yo when he wrecked his motorcycle & checked out of this life for good. by that time, he'd amazed most everyone in the music business w/his versatile talents(session player at muscle shoals for the likes of Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, Otis Rush, Percy Sledge, Johnny Jenkins, Boz Scaggs, Delaney & Bonnie and jazz flautist Herbie Mann)& dazzled anyone else who listened w/his range, power, & lyricism: everything that makes "layla" by derek & the dominoes astonishing is all duane allman.

this is supposed to be the only song he ever wrote.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

" feel a whole lot better..."

the 60s & the rock & roll business in general ate up a lot of astonishing talent. there were the big splashy stars that seem to have triumphed over death & still loom large but there was a lot of collateral damage along the way too. skip spence, syd barrett, gene clark, doug sahm. a lot of them made it out of the 1960s only to have their past excesses catch up w/them when they hit their 50s. i have to say i'm feeling that a bit at this point myself, down a gallbladder & feet that don't function & all. mainly, it's just a drag that these guys couldn't be around a little longer to produce the kind of music they were capable of producing.

this is a lovely lovely song. it makes you want to curl up & bite into some deep painful regret & suck it dry.

It was more like a dream than reality
I must have thought it was a dream
While she was here with me
When she was near I didn't think she would leave
When she was gone it was too much to believe

So with tomorrow I will borrow
Another moment of joy and sorrow
And another dream and another with tomorrow

So if some day won't be time just to look behind
There won't be reasons
No descriptions for my place and mind
There was so much, I was told it was not real
So many things that I could not taste but I could feel

So with tomorrow I will borrow
Another moment of joy and sorrow
And another dream and another with tomorrow

"He was the songwriter. He had the 'gift' that none of the rest of us had developed yet…. What deep inner part of his soul conjured up songs like "Set You Free," "Feel A Whole Lot Better," "I’m Feelin’ Higher," "Eight Miles High"? So many great songs! We learned a lot of songwriting from him and in the process learned a little bit about ourselves. At one time, he was the power in the Byrds, not McGuinn, not Crosby — it was Gene who would burst through the stage curtain banging on a tambourine, coming on like a young Prince Valiant. A hero, our savior. Few in the audience could take their eyes off this presence." chris hillman

a great retrospective article is here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


"I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could."

the nude is by alfred stieglitz, the great groundbreaking photographer who married o'keefe when he was quite old. personally, i've always considered steiglitz to be more important as an artist & as a champion of many other modern artists.

i've always found it hard to gender an artist & i can't really see much reason to do it. still, some of the greats seem to insist on foregrounding it. it's hard for me to see o'keefe's art being done by anyone other than a woman. it's true that mapplethorpe came along & "re-did" the flower motif but there's heavy irony in his pictures & he bleeds the color out of them. o'keefe is all about feminized colors(especially, the pastels)& space, both open & convoluted. o'keefe's flowers are anything but flowers or they are uber-flowers in their magnified complexity.

Friday, November 13, 2009


ken or mike might be able to think of someone else who played both sides of the pop music street as well as young but i can't. as far as i'm concerned, no one rocked w/more ferocity (thank god for all that buzz & feedback) or created such delicately simple but memorable acoustic melodies. i can still remember playing after the goldrush for rex & him reacting as if i'd thrown acid in his eyes. "that voice," was all he kept saying & it was "that voice" that a lot of other folks (less qualified to judge than the gifted mr northrup) couldn't get over either. for me, the beauty of a song like "after the goldrush" or "don't let it bring you down" was the whole point, who cared about the voice singing it. we'd all done dylan duty by that time w/cohen on the way, so i couldn't see what the problem was w/young's voice & he could rock too. how many hours of air-guitar did we accumulate while listening to "down by the river" or "southern man"? hell, i think it was young who inspired us to actually buy guitars & learn to play & stop w/all the pretending.

i gave up on him somewhere after the harvest disappointment. that was actually my loss because he had a lot of good music left in him. i picked up listening to him again sometime during the outrigger years & tried to piece together his oeuvre. that wasn't easy because many of the albums were out of print at the time(i count nearly 10 albums that weren't available at the time). i did get a hold of comes a time, a mostly great album that stayed on the acoustic side of the street. he put out freedom & ragged glory
during the outrigger years & even the shit-ass kids who worked for me were sold on young.

his last decent album, to me, was his collaboration w/pearl jam, mirror ball & his last really strong album was his homage to kurt cobain, sleeps with angels. while i'd like to think the magic could strike again at anytime w/someone as idiosyncratic as
young, i'm not holding my breath. he hasn't put out a truly coherently great album since the 1970s & then, really, only two. he's always been a kind of hit or miss artist & there have been a LOT of misses lately. those 10 unavailable albums way back when are available now & tho none of them are completely great there is great music to be found there. i can't say the same for post-mirror ball music.

for me, young(NOT the rolling stones, who now just look like a bunch of drunk old women on stage)proved that rock & roll isn't only a young man's game. watching him huddled on stage w/the other members of crazy horse during the ragged glory tour was simply thrilling. there was no way to hear "time's winged chariot" through the buzz & grind of the band & that, i realized, is what rock & roll is all about.

happy 64, mr neil fucking young.

"this invisible activity, this sense..."

when i first got out here to the bay area, i kept falling for the same thing over & over again. at various times of the day, for no obvious reasons, there would mount up in the skies east of berkeley huge purple clouds that resembled the kind of horrific thunderstorms i was accustomed to back home in p'cola. what did i know? who'd ever heard of fog so thick it really functioned like rain? i remember a bright warm sunny day in berkeley, so perfect i just had to go over to "the city" & it being so bright & warm & sunny there UNTIL out of nowhere the purple beast descended on the city within a few minutes & i was stuck way up in the castro in shorts on a sunday when public transit seems to be run by the i ching. this is serious fog, folks, & unless you've been a victim of it, you really can't imagine it.
still, robert cameron's picture of the "fog that ate san francisco" gives you a pretty good idea. cameron just died this week at the age of 98. he was blind in one eye for the better part of his career & was mostly blind in the other one when he was up just last week doing ariels for his soon to open posthumous show. i can't say this is really ground breaking work but i can say, judging from these two shots, he had literally one hell of an eye.

his sfchron obit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


this stagnant dufus should have been gone a long time ago. maybe around the time someone discovered all the various illegal aliens that were keeping his weekend funtime(horseshows) going. his obvious racist tendencies(vide his support of the "birthers")should have also been nails in his coffin. his stumbling mumbling delivery should have been too.

if you want the best indication of what a swine hack this fucker is check out the denials from HIM that's he's going over to fixed news. i'm imagining mr vaughn sitting in rapt attention as this ass-wipe spews out his hatred. he'll be on fox by c'mas. fucking liar. here's just one quote from an organization that dobbs has impacted in a negative, destructive way:

"Our contention all along was that Lou Dobbs — who has a long record of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about immigrants and Latinos — does not belong on the ‘most trusted name in news,’” Roberto Lovato, a co-founder of, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate."

here's the story written by legit journalists.

"The descent beckons / as the ascent beckoned."

On November 11, 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman began burning Atlanta, Georgia to the ground in preparation for his march south - known as Sherman’s March to the Sea. In the process of moving towards Savannah his troops tore up the railroad tracks and destroyed as much property as possible along the way…

Photo of Sherman’s men destroying tracks near Atlanta, by George N. Barnard - Library of Congress

November 11, 1926 - US Highway Route 66 was established, a road that was to become the main way out of the dust-bowl for refugees in the 30s and a major tourist highway lined with motels and weird roadside attractions in the 50s

The descent beckons
as the ascent beckoned.
Memory is a kind
of accomplishment,
a sort of renewal
an initiation, since the spaces it opens are new places
inhabited by hordes
heretofore unrealized,
of new kinds—
since their movements
are toward new objectives
(even though formerly they were abandoned).

No defeat is made up entirely of defeat—since
the world it opens is always a place
unsuspected. A
world lost,
a world unsuspected,
beckons to new places
and no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory
of whiteness .

With evening, love wakens
though its shadows
which are alive by reason
of the sun shining—
grow sleepy now and drop away
from desire .

Love without shadows stirs now
beginning to awaken
as night

The descent
made up of despairs
and without accomplishment
realizes a new awakening:
which is a reversal
of despair.
For what we cannot accomplish, what
is denied to love,
what we have lost in the anticipation—
a descent follows,
endless and indestructible
----william carlos williams

thanks to ordinary finds for the memories.


"That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes." Deadeye Dick

"Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance." KV

i held off reading vonnegut for a long time. by the time i got to new college, noone was reading him & he wasn't being pushed by anyone on the faculty. i think i picked him up when i got back to p'cola from my unfinished time at new college. during my first year at the outrigger i read most of his work. i think i was ready to appreciate his cynical sense of the absurd human condition. the outrigger had a way of opening you to that position. that, & the idea of humanity fading idiotically into the ether while existence on earth continued unconcernedly on. the great human commentator, george carlin, had a bit about earth just shaking off mankind's contaminating & destructive presence & getting on w/things w/o us. carlin & vonnegut seem like two peas in a pod & i suspect carlin stole his material from vonnegut like woody allen stole material from henny youngman. so it goes...


"these are pictures
of crude force.
Once at night
waiting at a station
with a friend
a fast freight
thundered through
kicking up dust.
My friend,
a distinguished artist,
turned to me
to protect his eyes:
that's what we'd all like to be, bill,
he said. i smiled
knowing how deeply
he meant it.
" from "To Asphodel, That Greeny Flower" WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

it was demuth's b'day this week. i wanted to commemorate it w/this quote from bill williams that i couldn't completely remember. so while i searched it out, i had a couple of days to reflect on demuth's generation of gay artists, the ones prior to stonewall. if the post-stonewall generation blazed w/celebratory triumph that sputtered out in the face of aids, demuth's generation simmered w/repressed anxiety that sputtered out w/each sad unfulfilled death. it's true that they left us w/their art but what a painful thing that creation must have been. while the experience of the lafayette baths must have been exhilarating on a personal level, putting it down on canvas must have been excruciating. back then, who knew what might be considered "obscene" & fictionalizing a clearly gay moment by claiming its location to be "turkish baths" wouldn't necessarily keep the cops away from the studio. powerful male erections weren't usually depicted in the art of the time. even the hetero-master, picasso, had to put his erections on minotaur figures.

of course, "crude force" may well result in these dichotomies, impulsive desire surging forth but subdued by beauty. yes, charlie, that IS what we all want to be.

"Search the history of American art," wrote Ken Johnson in the New York Times, "and you will discover few watercolors more beautiful than those of Charles Demuth. Combining exacting botanical observation and loosely Cubist abstraction, his watercolors of flowers, fruit and vegetables have a magical liveliness and an almost shocking sensuousness."

Sunday, November 8, 2009


"When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice." Robert Frank

i was fortunate to see the most comprehensive retrospective of frank's work, moving out, at the time at the national gallery when i was in grad school at uva in 1994. i knew about his connections w/the beats & maybe had even seen his film on the rolling stones. mainly tho, i was drawn to the pictures.
the early ones were stunning in their sense of spontaneous composition. he'd captured "moments" perfectly, as they unfolded or revealed themselves as tableau. i don't get the sense of an "outsider" peering into some foreign culture & revealing its truths. i've always felt that frank was very much INSIDE the american experience, that it was his experience as an american w/other americans we get in the pictures.
the later "sloppy" pictures & collages show me the same thing, tho he's working from a more universal experience in them. years of personal triumphs & tragedies are accumulated in the pictures & presented in such a way that they address a larger audience w/specifically personal concerns. their simplicity undermines any convoluted solipsism.
i come back to "sick of goodbys" over & over, it's artifice resonating w/sorrow & pain & forgiveness. another time, it reveals triumph & tenaciousness. or again...

"I was looking at Robert Frank’s photograph Sick of Goodby’s in his book The Lines of My Hand. Moments before I had been listening to a Johnny Cash song called I Wish I Was Crazy Again. Then I thought of the goodbyes in the book to old friends caught once and for all and never again to be seen in life, and I was struck by the intensity of the sadness of life and its redeeming qualities as reflected in these moving photos. With Johnny Cash as well, the desire to see it all again, to go out one more time into the wild flame only to be burned up forever and never be seen again except in these farewell photos, is moving beyond description. The photos speak of an acceptance of things as they are. the inevitable death of us all and the last photo – that last unposed shot to remind us of our friends, of our loss of the times we had in a past captured only on film in black and white. Frank has been there, and seen that, and recorded it with such subtlety that we only look in awe, our own hearts beating with the memories of lost partners and songs.

To wish for the crazy times one last time and freeze it in the memory of a camera is the least a great artist can do. Robert Frank is a great democrat. We’re all in these photos. Paint dripping from a mirror like blood. I’m sick of goodbyes. And aren’t we all, but it’s nice to see it said.

more reflections on frank.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


i bought ann a bento box. she says she gets comments every day from various work folks about it. it's not a truly traditional bento box(i almost got her one of those)but it's colorful & she likes colorful things. i'm not having much trouble filling it every day as you can see.







"The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
You laugh he said you think you're immune
Go look at your eyes they're full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies just pretty lies

she deserves all the accolades: during a stretch in the 70s, she put out an album a year & each one was an absolute triumph of musicality & lyric genius. she topped the seventies off w/her tribute/collaboration w/the inimitable chalie mingus & never enjoyed the commercial success of that one remarkable decade again. i don't think she cares. she's continued to follow her own muses, & tho her voice isn't a startlingly original & supple as it once was, she still does ok. it couldn't have been easy making it in the testosterone driven world of pop music but her achievements simply cannot be denied. happy b'day, ms mitchell(or, as james taylor called you, bony joni).


"On the poop deck of slave galleys it is possible, at any time and place, as we know, to sing the constellations while the convicts bend over the oars and exhaust themselves in the hold; it is always possible to record the social conversation that takes place on the benches of the amphitheater while the lion is crunching the victim. And it is very hard to make any objections to the art that has known such success in the past. But things have changed somewhat, and the number of convicts and martyrs has increased amazingly over the surface of the globe. In the face of so much suffering, if art insists on being a luxury, it will also be a lie."
- Albert Camus, "Create Dangerously" in Resistance, Rebellion & Death

Thursday, November 5, 2009


he died from a drug overdose in a motel room in joshua tree on September 19 1973. he was 26 years old.

on one of the first desert trips ann took me on, we found the spot in joshua tree where parson's loony, tho somehow admirably principled, manager
had burned parson's stolen body. we didn't find it right off but ann was oddly determined to showcase her desert tracking skills. we circumnavigated a large(i mean, HUGE)rock formation once or twice & couldn't find the marker but ann was undeterred. she found the simple cement slab in a shaded area up close to the rock. there were various "contributions" to the simple marker from other intrepid travelers & groupies, all pretty mundane & expected & not worth mentioning. the feeling i got, out there in what is now my favorite american desert landscape, was simply loss, like standing on a mountain & watching a canyon burn.

it's not clear what parsons would have done had he lived but he contributed to making country cool to a lot of tight-assed hippies who had been sneering at it & dismissing it as counter-revolutionary. i can't say that he got me playing hank williams songs back in high school(an old album bobo had did that for me) but i don't doubt he touched some other kids that way. he gave us emmylou harris. he was a beautiful young man who burned away under the clear desert sky of california.

"It's a hard way to find out
That trouble is real
In a far away city
With a far away feel
But it makes me feel better
Each time it begins
Callin' me home
Hickory Wind
Keeps callin' me home
Hickory Wind


i'm pretty sure i was looking at tom of finland's hyberbolic fantasy figures before i came across my first mapplethorpe. hell, the first mapplethorpe's i saw may well have been his flower pictures, with their own exaggerated sexuality subverted by the photographer's smirky smile & wink. "what are you REALLY seeing here?," those pictures seemed to ask. eventually, rm got around to showing us what we were really looking FOR & he loved doing it by contrasts & antinomies as well as transgressions on a large scale: lisa lyons' muscletized but still feminine body or a self-portrait w/bullwhip dangling from asshole. it was hard to look away from his pictures because they seemed to be so natural, even when they were working outside standard definitions of nature or natural.

his "man in a polyester suit" works that way for me. his playful but in your face presentation works not only as a statement of(& also a send-up of) taboo hyperbolic sexuality but as a mockery of the standard idea of social decorum & status. i remember laughing out loud the first time i saw the photo & while there's a locker room aspect to that response, i also think i saw clearly what rm was trying to do & laughter was an appropriate response to what the picture was trying to accomplish.(i've always enjoyed contrasting rm's take on black sexuality w/saul bellow's in mr. sammlers planet. rm's is more playful & honest while bellow can't seem to help using cliche & typical white male fear in struggling w/it).

"Mapplethorpe photographed many black men, in nudes and portraits, but only here did he dress his model in a suit. The combination of impressive member and business attire, compromised somewhat by its cheap, polyester fabric--evident only in the title, not visually--makes this your average white, yellow and brown man's worst nightmare, a black sexual athletic who's savvy enough to be an executive, a sort of superman, maybe your boss. Mapplethorpe's main weakness was a tendency to reinforce the glamorizing strategy of the dominant culture, but when he introduced recalcitrant or suppressed elements, as here, he could rise above this collusion." linh dinh from detainees blog

laughter is an even more appropriate response to rm's portrait of the great artist louise bourgeois. there's something almost adorable seeing this elderly white woman smiling coquettishly while cradling an enormous black phallus(of her own making, i might add). bourgeois' project has been to point to the dangers of the phallocentric patriarchy & if ideas of castration & penis envy & other womanly wiles aren't immediately apparent, you're not looking at the right picture. there's also the question of the grotesque operating here too: bourgeois' wrinkled elderly "witch-y" face & the gnarled enormity of the phallic object. of course, her face is softened by her girlish smile & the exaggerated powerful penis is being cradled so tenderly...& if she MADE it, fashioned it from her fantasies, what does that say about who controls phallic power?

i think the comedy of large penises that danto mentions below is a LONG(so to speak)way from the comedy that rm is exploring about the allure of & disastrous consequences of phallic power in both these pictures.

In a famous episode in A Moveable Feast, F. Scott Fitzgerald expresses concern about the size of his penis, Zelda having said it was inadequately small; and Hemingway suggests he compare himself with what is to be found on classical statues, saying that most men would be satisfied with that. In my nearly four years as a soldier, I would have noticed it if anyone was equipped like the Man in Polyester Suit, or Mark Stevens for that matter. Robert Burns, in one of his nastier verses, wrote “Nine inches doth please a lady”-but something of that dimension would have been negligible in the baths and washrooms of the 1970s if Mapplethorpe’s models are typical. On the other hand, there is a wonderful portrait of Louise Bourgeois, wearing an improbably shaggy coat and grinning knowingly out at the viewer, as if to connect her, us, the artist and his mega-phallolatry in a piece of comedy-for she carries under her arm a sculpture, I daresay hers, of a really huge phallus and balls (Mr. 36 1/2), putting things in perspective. I was grateful to the wise old sculptor for reminding us that the huge phallus was regarded as comical in the ancient world, and there are wonderful images on the sides of Grecian vases of actors wearing falsies to crack them up at Epidaurus. Even so, phallic references define this show (study the relationship between breasts, neck and head in the uncharacteristic portrait of Lisa Lyon, usually seen, as in a book of Mapplethorpe’s photographs of her, engaged in bodybuilding)." ARTHUR DANTO

eventually, rm stopped the mocking laughter & the reckless transgressions no longer brought any comfort from the storm. holbein's trompe l'oeil warning about the perils of rationalism was replaced by rm's dead-on stare & the artist's reticence is replaced by the photographer's grim countenance, ravaged by a more insidious affliction. death's "gaze" has now cathected onto the viewer whose own vision is placed under direct indictment. "how dare you stand there looking," rm seems to be saying, "while i die?" all the feelings that crimp writes about below are evident in this portrait & its call for a militant awakening can still be heard after all these years.

robert mapplethorpe died from complications due to aids less than a year after taking the picture.

"Frustration, anger, rage, and outrage, anxiety, fear, and terror, shame and guilt, sadness and despair - it is not surprising that we feel these things; what is surprising is that we often don't. For those who feel only a deadening numbness or constant depression, militant rage may well be unimaginable, as again it might be for those who are paralyzed with fear, filled with remorse, or overcome with guilt. To decry these responses - our own form of moralism - is to deny the extent of the violence we have all endured." DOUGLAS CRIMP ("Mourning and Militancy," 16)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009



this shows what i know. if you'd have asked me, i'd have bet you he'd died years ago. i guess i should have known because if he had, much more would have been made of his death back then than now. weirdly, his very reasoned &, at the time, dismissed approach to anthropology has been assimilated in such a way that it's now the status quo w/o any real acknowledgement from the academy.

this man was a major, & i stress MAJOR, thinker & innovator in so many fields. w/maybe the exception of the linguistic structuralists, his application of structuralist principals to a LIVING academic field yielded deeper & better understanding of ancient or primitive cultures than any approach before or after his studies. his impact on modern thinking just cannot be overemphasized.

he made 100 years of living in this world. that, in & of itself, is reason to celebrate. i believe he's the last of that great generation of french thinkers(lacan, levinas, barthes, foucault, derrida, etc)who gave more than anyone has been willing to receive or understand. i guess we have another century to make sense of them.

Writing is a strange invention.
One might suppose that its emergence
could not fail to bring about profound changes
in the conditions of human existence,
and that these transformations
must of necessity
be of an intellectual nature….

Yet nothing we know
about writing
and the part it has played
in man’s evolution
justifies this view.

– A Writing Lesson, Tristes Tropiques

"Just as the individual is not alone in the group, nor any one society alone among others, so man is not alone in the universe. When the spectrum or rainbow of human cultures has finally sunk into the void created by our frenzy; as long as we continue to exist and there is a world, that tenuous arch linking us to the inaccessible will still remain, to show us the opposite course to that leading to enslavement; man may be unable to follow it, but its contemplation affords him the only privilege of which he can make himself worthy; that of arresting the process, of controlling the impulse which forces him to block up the cracks in the wall of necessity one by one and to complete his work at the same time as he shuts himself up within his prison; this is a privilege coveted by every society, whatever its beliefs, its political system or its level of civilization; a privilege to which it attaches its leisure, its pleasure, its peace of mind and its freedom; the possibility, vital for life, of unhitching, which consists --Oh! fond farewell to savages and explorations!-- in grasping, during the brief intervals in which our species can bring itself to interrupt its hive-like activity, the essence of what it was and continues to be, below the threshold of thought and over and above society: in the contemplation of a mineral more beautiful than all our creations; in the scent that can be smelt at the heart of a lily and is more imbued with learning than all our books; or in the brief glance, heavy with patience, serenity, and mutual forgiveness, that, through some involuntary understanding, one can sometimes exchange with a cat."
- Tristes Tropiques of 1955

nyt obit.

"there & then they're gone..."

since i was thinking about jim james, i might as well include one of my favorite songs off his latest side project, monsters of folk. he's in there behind connor oberst's front & centered vocal. the album works surprisingly well. i say "surprisingly" because there's a tendency for "super groups" albums to have a couple of excellent moments & the rest to be throwaway & filler a la the traveling wilbury's. i'm hoping they'll be able to make this a working project.


"Five years ago, when Jim James, Mike Mogis, Conor Oberst and M. Ward first toured together, they were a study in contrasts as well as in camaraderie. Ward, hauntingly delivering his own blues and folk-based tunes, took a spare, intimate approach. My Morning Jacket vocalist and guitarist James, on the other hand, was already reaching for the rafters with his keening, echo-laden voice. Oberst — with his long-time producer, multi-instrumentalist and Bright Eyes mainstay Mogis — offered both candor and drama in songs that fell somewhere between confession and fever dream."


i just wanted to draw attention to a friend of the blog's most recent photography project. i've written a lot about louisiana & new orleans & what those places mean to me. i've even written about florida. mr white has done an exemplary job of capturing some of the qualities of these places that exert such a strong pull on some of us: the isolation & the resilience, the beauty & the decay, the singular & the universal. seeing the before & after pics of pilottown reminds me of the pensacola news journal pictures of the p'beach fishing pier during hurricane ivan & the after shot of a single piling rising up from the calm gulf waters. those pictures made clear to me what the city of pensacola had been through because of the storm. mr white's pictures work the same way for another devastated region.
his south florida pictures are damn fine too.

"Photography for this project began in the spring of 2000, made on both black and white film and digital color, continuing to the present day. In this collection, I have photographed nearly every named location in lower Plaquemines Parish and have what I believe is a very thorough collection of images of this place. One such location is Pilottown, the historic home of the Bar Pilots, which was shot on black and white film in January, 2005. After it was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, I returned there in April of 2008 to find this one-of- a-kind town, the last manned outpost on the Mississippi River, barely hanging on; a few pilot houses were being rebuilt, while the remainder of former homes along the river completely vanished."

- Matthew D. White-
February 21, 2009

all things must pass

i've had mixed feelings about the work of my morning jacket but jim james' voice isn't a part of them. when he appeared in the dylan quasi-bio, i'm not there, w/calexio singing one of the great basement tapes songs, "going to acapulco," i sat right up in my theater seat. their version was very nearly sublime &, in the context of the movie, chilling.

i'm not sure where i ran across james' alter-ego, yim yames, doing his tribute to george harrison but i am sure there's not a dud among these covers. again, his voice is front & center & just as spell-binding as when he covered dylan.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


philip & ken were the fingerpickers in our little guitar circle. hell, i remember being ecstatic figuring out the basic pick of kristofferson's "loving her was easier." we didn't listen to much of the british folk movement in philip's cave but, as ken & i discussed just recently, that's where paul simon learned most of his chops & simon was a big deal for most of us back then. oddly, we just didn't feel like tracing his roots like we did dylan. ken WAS listening to pentangle & fairport convention & the like back then & that's why he can fingerpick & i just skate by. like i used to say back in the day(probably lifted from jack pyle), "it's just folk music & i'll probably folk it up anyway..."

Monday, November 2, 2009



"In Mexico the Day of the Dead, "el Día de los Difuntos," is, strictly speaking, All Souls Day, 2 November, but because graveside vigils commonly begin the night before, the festival is usually considered to include 1 November, All Saints Day, "el Día de Todos los Santos." The Day of the Dead is the day on which the souls of those dead may communicate with the living. The coincidence of an Aztec festival of offerings to the spirits of the dead with the Roman Catholic All Souls Day, on which those living may communicate with and pray for the souls of those in purgatory, gave rise to a colourful festival. In Morelos and other parts of Mexico the day is celebrated by candle-lit processions and all-night vigils at cemeteries, offerings of food and flowers for the departed ones, parades and dances with death-masks and skeletons and skulls, and ingeniously wrought chocolate and candy animals, skulls, skeletons, and funeral wagons."