On June 21, 2008 Daniel Johnston played a show at Lupo’s in Providence, Rhode Island. Lupo’s was fancier than I remembered it, and also there were couches set up on the floor in front of the stage. Eliot and I enjoyed a standing view where we were free to roam from wall to wall, shoulder to shoulder, swaying with the sweet sounds of the father of low-fi orchestration.
It was truly an honor to see him play live. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for the man himself, and the music that makes the man. But I must admit, seeing him play live I had other feelings. A total awe inspired moment through each song. Seeing the fervor behind every word, and the passion for music, especially for the Beatles, brought the feelings home again & again.
Here are some video clips we were able to take at the show; some classic Beatles covers along with the original originals, and friendly Christmas wishes from the man himself. Unfortunately, some of the audio isn’t the best. His acoustic songs come through a lot clearer than his sets with The Capitol Years. Enjoy!
Daniel Johnston plays “Walking the Cow”
“Man Obsessed” - a stirring rendition.
Daniel Johnston doing justice to John Lennon’s “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”
Daniel Johnston singing “Hey Joe”
Daniel Johnston covers The Beatles, “I’m So Tired” and plays “Speeding Motorcycle” and rocks out with “Rock n’ Roll EGA”. A real crescendo!
Daniel Johnston closes the show with “True Love Will Find You in the End”. Truth.
This song has been running around my mind for quite a few days, only I couldn’t think of who sang it, how I knew it, and why it was playing each day in my head. The answers are, Cat Stevens…Eliot…and it’s lovely!
The nicest day of the year has rolled in on this fine Friday morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and my Munchkin Face Kitty is cackling through the windows. The thermometer says 72, but it feels more like 90. A fine morning indeed, waking up to the sweet sounds of Jeff Buckley’s Lilac Wine, which is my favorite Jeff Buckley song. Then, come to find out in the NYT Arts Section, a movie is being made of this young deceased singer/songwriter.
Maureen Dowd wrote a great column on Saturday about the Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, and George W. visiting Graceland in Memphis last week. The photo pictured on CNN website is a tame, welcome-to-graceland shot of the happy family. But the real story was when they were inside the Elvis Museum, and Koizumi started doing, as Dowd puts it, “Thin Elvis air guitar, and Fat Elvis karate chops.”
Everybody loves Elvis, naturally. A couple of weeks ago, Eliot and I were watching the Travel channel. It was a program about night life in Japan - which beats NYC by a longshot! Clubs are open all night, and some don’t even open until 6am. Businessmen and laymen alike share in the fun of drinking at these cozy bars, really the size of a kitchenette. And they all do Elvis Karaoke! The only thing missing from the special were shots of the Robots at the hot dog stands - that’s what I want to see.
The 4th of July came and went like the wind, but not without a few spectacular moments. I woke up in the morning with flashbacks to the morning of Rosh Hashanah, when Eliot and I slept through services. It was 9:30am, and we were supposed to have met my parents at 8:30 at their house. I got right on the phone and we hustled to make the drive up to Gloucester. With fears of the parking lot filling up, we still managed to get Cigarettes, Beverages, Dunkin Donuts coffee, and Egg and Cheese bagels! And we made it to the beach in plenty of time to get a parking spot.
It was a good day for the beach, and a good beach for the day. Wingaersheek beach in Gloucester has a lot of sand bars, keeping the shoreline very long and shallow. So, no big waves to play in, but having the will to stay in the water for a long time and play catch and actually go swimming is just as good.
We left the beach when it starting raining, and in some kind of technology-deprived mental state, Eliot and I decided to go to Jordan’s Furniture in Reading to see Superman 3D. What a trip! And I’m not talking about Superman. As you walk in to this white concrete building, you are immediately bombarded with insane amounts of stimulation. This includes, but is not limited to, people flying on trapezes, larger-than-life structures made purely out of Jelly Beans, and a wall-size Green Monster robot that is eating a full-size Yankees player. Very weird, but super awesome in the scope of things!
In other related news, some super smart physicists at Stanford are half-seriously studying the physics of Superman. From Slashdot, “The article tells of ‘a scientific experiment in which a researcher put several chickens in a centrifuge and raised them in twice-normal gravity for months at a time. When they emerged, the chickens were stronger and had larger bones and muscles, and greater endurance. In other words, they were superchickens.’ Do they have human sized centrifuges?”
But speaking of regenerating strength in humans and animals, Stem Cells are still the best forward solution to most diseases, including MS.
The nerve cells were transplanted into several groups of rats with spinal cord injury. Some rats also received injections of a drug called rolipram (an agent that also helps to overcome myelin inhibition of nerve regeneration), and some also received cells that specifically secreted the growth factor GDNF (glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor) into the spinal cord. Three months after transplant, rats that had received all treatments — stem cells, rolipram, dbcAMP, and GDNF — had several hundred new nerve fibers, more than any other group. The nerve fibers succeeded in connecting with a lower leg muscle, and the rats showed significant improvement in hind limb grip strength. No other group showed improvement.
On this same thread, I recently read in the NYT that the Roman Catholic church is working to excommunicate scientists who engage in Stem Cell research. I thought this was the “culture of life”. But it seems that to the church, life not yet lived means more than life living.
Last night I went to Hillel for Shabbat services (Shabbas? I’ve heard it be called that too, I wonder if there is a difference). Despite my first Passover Seder last year, my constant questioning of Ari regarding Judaism, and my plunge in to the fascinating world of the JCC and the Israeli munchkins, I had never been to a Shabbat service. Now I know what I’ve been missing.
Not only does Ari work at Hillel (and she in charge of chair-running on Friday nights), but last night she gave the sermon, called the D’var Torah. It was a service to recognize Purim, and as Ari put it, “the ultimate Jewish coming out party.” Her sermon was about why it is important to her and to the world in general to express who you are, and what it means to be gay and Jewish.
Purim is the story of a heroine, a powerful king, the building of a new temple, and how the Jews were not destroyed through the courage of Queen Esther. The King’s prime minister, Haman is a huge jerk and he convinces the King to issue an edict under which all the Jews in the land will be killed. Little does the King know that Esther is a Jew, the cousin of Mordechai.
Esther appears before the King without being summoned by him (which is an act punishable by death in itself!) and reveals her own Jewish identity to the King and recounts Haman’s evil plans. The King is outraged at Haman, and he issues a decree to make Haman the victim of his own infamous plot. Haman and his sons are killed, and the Jews are saved. Phew!
Ari’s D’var Torah was fantastic, and I think her ability to speak in lamens terms while still driving home some essential life lessons is what made it so fantastic. The lesson in the story itself is one of great courage, and the parallels that she drew to living an openly gay life were only natural. So, aside from this great event, what really hit me during the service were the songs, the music, and the Hebrew language.
I love singing, so naturally I wanted to take part in the folky renditions of Jewish prayer. But despite my ability to follow the Hebrew words (written in the english alphabet), I felt a need to understand what I was singing. Luckily, there were English translations under each of the prayers. Sometimes I followed the English, and didn’t sing but other times I just read through the English and then sang in Hebrew, so I had some idea of what I was actually saying.
For a long time I’ve tried to understand why I was so deterred from the Catholic faith and felt such a strong pull to participate in Jewish tradition. I know that a lot of has to do with the more cultural connotations of Judaism. There is less blind faith it seems, and also a more positive and progressive tone to the beliefs as a whole. When I made the decision to not attend Catholic masses with my family anymore (still attending the holidays, out of respect for my loved ones), it was in fact because of cultural differences. The Catholic faith has beautiful undertones in some places, namely the Bible and the stories that it recounts. The story of struggle, sacrifice, and survival is a beautiful thing in any right. But the cultural associations that the church connects itself to are just not my cup of tea; abortion, homosexuality, Heaven and Hell, and this emphatic obsession with sinning. These are not beliefs that I can connect myself to, or even say that I can agree with in any form.
But last night at services, I started feeling really emotional during the mourning prayer. This was in part because I was thinking of the loved ones in my family who have passed away, and prayed for them during the prayer. But it was also this strange religious experience in which I felt connected to the words that we were saying. Without being presumptuous, I thought that there were many similarities in the prayers to the ones that I recited for many years in church. Thanking God for what we have, asking him to provide us with peace, life, and solace. I suppose these are the base factors in many religions that so many humans connect to. So, what is the difference?
Well, yes there are many technical differences in the actual belief system but for me the difference came in a simpler form. This understanding was only reinforced when Rabbi Jeff Summit sat at our table during dinner and talked about the belief that words don’t have a lot of meaning unless they are accompanied by a tune or even by music. I’ll never forget the first anxiety attack I had in church. I was 12 years old and the mass was well underway. We were getting ready to receive communion. I don’t recall the exact lines anymore, but there is a point during this prayer service when the Priest does a Q & A with the church-goers. He says something to degree of “Let us give him thanks and praise.” The audience responds, “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” This continues for a couple more lines, with this robotic response. One that day in church, it was almost as if I stepped outside of myself. I heard these words as I had never heard them before and I got too weirded out. Then when everyone started to recite the “Our Father”, I just lost it. I felt like I was in a cult, and it was soon after that that I told my parents that I just can’t go to church anymore.
At services last night, it was the harmony that really got inside of me. Not just the harmony of the congregation singing, but the harmony in the words, the exotic sounds of the Hebrew language, and the eye contact that took place during much of the service. I felt it, and it felt so good. Here is a song brought to my attention from a certain Rabbi who traveled to Uganda to learn, listen, and record the beautiful prayers of the Ugandan Jews. They are called, Abuyadaba.
I can smell the fresh bread that lies around the corner. Luckily, there are positive protons pulling me along for the next 120 hours to bring me to the sweet taste of fresh baked bread. I spent a couple hours yesterday and the morning today organizing digital paperwork for the full 100% transition of power to the new regional manager of the creative movement company I have been working for. I served as the regional manager for 6 months. With much too much emphasis on silly crises, emphatic ass-kissing, and a higher-up that was too depedant on this young professional, I decided to leave the post approximately 60 days ago. The past 60 days have been a whirlwind of interviewing, hiring, questioning, training, explaining, and for past couple of days, organizing. It’s like stepping outside of your own organizational methods and realizing that they only make sense to you. This is probably the case in most people’s lives, especially in relation to the computer.
But I have mass, and I will continue to oscillate. I will pass silently through life through metal detectors because I carry no weapons, and harbor no schrapnel.
I will learn to let things stand and will not sweat the small stuff. I will only sweat on my back, and occassionally my forehead, and more often than not my armpits.
See, I have a secret identity and its name is Chleo. This identifier was comprised of pieces of my names put together in a logical way. Chleo is a master Scrabble player, and she is also very strong. Chleo is a descendant of the neutrino. In addition to the logical puzzle of this name, Chleo also represents the pieces of me that are not always so obvious. Today I felt like Chleo, but sometimes I feel like Cbear. They are one in the same, but represent different things. If you do not believe in pieces, then can you really believe in a whole?
Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life; worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live in the afternoon of life! (according to the program of life’s morning).
No no no, this is not about not having faith. Expectations are to be expected. But really it’s about realizing the true nature of life. Money-making, social existence, family, and posterity (longevity) are nothing but plain and true nature - not culture. Embrace the morning, what it brings and move on to the midday. Let it stand as standing is one of our greatest evolutionary traits, nothing but true nature - not culture.
And in today’s news:
Hustle and Flow, a great film will has had one of its songs, “It’s Hard Out there For a Pimp”, nominated for an Oscar. I thought the movie was a little slow, but all in all captivating and inspiring artistically.
The board has voted Yes on the statute of limitations for language.
Tonight I saw the first ever Google adplug on television. In true Googleness, the ad was on PBS. How’d they get their money? Well, you may know the gist of it, but here’s the full scoop from the good bloggers at Google.
Yea, we all know the NES system was the best ever. We all have the memories, and some of us still have the consoles. But how great was it really? Read about the legend.