45 Years Ago Today

Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix.

All else is just music. Background. Filler. These four saved my sanity and the streets of this town by allowing me to vent, reminisce, dream and plot and everyone should recognize the wonderful magnitude of influence of these four musical acts.

Jimi died 45 years ago  today

Most of everyone else on that list is still alive and well. Except Jim Morrison. And of course, MCA.

This world sometimes takes the most interesting people away from us before we can possibly comprehend how incredible they are.

Other times this world takes the most amazing and beautiful people away while they’re at their absolute height of pure talent and wondrous influence.

Dang it.

Records and CD’s Rule

The smell of those new labels, the ink barely dry inside the plastic case, the tattered used bootlegs and rarities hidden among aisles and shelves of innumerable varieties of music, the fluorescent lights that glow from the inside this indistinct square building and bleed onto the street side until late into the night is what I love.

I am often the reason why friends wind up waiting, god knows how many times women become exasperated at the lack of attention they may receive while watching this furious perusal of beautiful music. Or maybe it’s because their drinks have worn off at the same time I’m just getting started.

The clicking of the plastic cases as people’s hands rummage through rows and rows of used cd’s, through random types of music that somehow find themselves aside each other, waiting to be bought, brought home and played at dangerous decibels.

Music nerds understand the import of a good bootleg, a rare single of a demo of some dead obscure rock god may fetch some astounding price and it all makes sense when they rush home and feed their record player this gem and lay back and listen until they become drooling messes.

Tattooed mechanics (Old 97’s), middle-aged lovers (Kitaro), suburban mothers and daughters (Gaga, of course), all strolling the same grounds looking for more reasons to not just download, but to actually add something tangible to their collection. Or perhaps just soaking up the colors and designs of the varied album covers and posters, sometimes music is as much visual as it is aural. Everyone from every level and dimension of society walking and rummaging for what fascinates them regardless of any other element outside the doors of the store, they all love their music and they’re all here for the that reason.

This wide open jungle of music that travels all over the universe is one of the most glorious places on the planet, part museum, gallery, amusement park, and a whole little bit of heaven. Open ’til midnight everyday. It says so on the door.

Rage

Let’s have a brief talk about Rage Against The Machine. My absolute adoration with this band goes beyond all things I consider important in terms of musical science or their talent for playing varied styles of rock, punk, funk, metal, soul and hip-hop.

I’ve little idea about how to explicate why this musical band is so fundamentally sound or how each of their songs tremendously evolve from the first intro and hook to the final pounding note. Like a thrown fist through a Molotov cocktail.

Rage rocks so much beautiful, angry violence that when their music plays, I swallow pride and relinquish all possession of physical restraint. Rage’s music makes us want to learn, enlighten and burn things down. We find brutal passion in Rage’s songs, we dig in our bowels and bring our frustration and fury to the surface like smashmouth weapons, seeking to slaughter those who turn blind eyes to the unspeakable plight of others.

I could write all night about why this band is sick beyond all comprehension and how their sound became a vision of political outrage and musical evolution, but I’m assured that it’s all been done.

All I can introduce is how this band reminded me of how terrible American foreign and domestic policy can be and how sometimes the only way to think is to rock and how the only way to live is to scream.

Burn, Baby, Burn

A quarter year burns like an upscale California forest, so quick it’s almost incomprehensible.

Consequently, it’s important to always be creating something every day. The end product isn’t nearly as relevant as the practiced motions used to create them and keeping the machine properly greased is essential to one’s passion to create. It’s also having the discipline to simply produce consistently without necessarily being concerned with the quality of its results. Take at least one picture or write something, create anything to mark the day, once a day, leave something on earth that wasn’t here yesterday. Even if it’s a complete piece of junk.

Otherwise three months burn by and one wonders if all that smoke won’t someday become a pack of cancer lit with a book of tumors and the stretches of time that were lazy and complacent will begin to taste sou and turn rueful.

What great inebriation! What a glassful of cool rye will do to a heated mind. A mind still full of adolescent confusion fueled by youthful passion and ardor for all things human and beautiful. Now that’s a quality burn.

We Couldn’t Get Tito On Demerol?

I wasn’t going to mention the whole media blitz storm surrounding the death of Michael Jackson but it’s a nice day and I got Ozzy blasting through the house so I’d figure it would be cathartic.

I forgot about the monkey, the amusement park ranch, the hyperbaric chamber, the skin disorder, the masks, the surgeries, the marriages, the babies, the court proceedings, the showing up to said court proceedings in pajamas, the endless fascination and vilifying of a strange man.

I never forgot the circle slide, the moonwalk, the incredible dancing, the theatrical music videos and the politics of a man who just wanted peace for all people and for the wealth of the world to be shared with those less fortunate.

Crimeny, when this man danced he was the only thing you would be looking at, with dozens of people around him doing the same moves, no one did them like he did, he truly was a universal entertainer, every corner of the world understood that no one they knew could dance like that. His fashion sense alone has almost become a separate entity when describing him, those zipper jackets, weird gloves, buckles, straps, sparkles and even lingerie. Courage comes in many colors, my friends.

Since he hasn’t put out a decent record in at least a decade and a half and how the stories surrounding him were far from respectful or flattering, it’s almost a relief that he’s dead. The pressure on him to be something he’s not is gone and the weird caricature of a celebrity he had become has now morphed into the “The King Of Pop Is Dead, The World Mourns” headline that not only belies his global impact but leaves all the bizarre peripheral crap behind. Regretfully his children have lost their father but maybe the wee ones will have some semblance of a “normal” life without being in the shadow of such a media juggernaut.

An artist is an artist. You don’t sit down to dinner with an artist, you don’t have them babysit your kids, you don’t loan them money or have them sleep over at the house. If I stopped enjoying artists on their personal behavior and the value of their ethics, I certainly wouldn’t have any Van Gogh prints, ticket stubs to the Mollala Buckeroo or any Eminem records. Enjoy the art not the person. I’ve never once heard a great song or saw a mind-blowing performance and asked myself if the artist was a republican, cage-fighting fan or rapist. No offense to any of those demographics. Except the last one. 

People themselves often let me down anyhow so their art is many times the best person worth remembering.

And I truly believe Michael Jackson would have been a fascinating and sophisticated dinner guest.