Category Archives: art

Pacific Fishers, Owls, and Talking Gorillas

Pacific-Fisher horz

This week, two radio programs that I co-produce with my beloved partner Amy Gustin, will air on our beloved community radio station KMUD. First, at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 27, KMUD will air the latest episode of wildlife Matters. I just put the finishing touches on it this morning. Wildlife Matters #3 will focus on the Pacific Fisher (Martes pennanti) an elusive, formidable, and unbelievably cute forest carnivore.

fisher in tree

Mourad Gabriel, fisher expert, and Executive Director of the Integral Ecology Research Center generously invited us into his home, and allowed Amy to interview him at length.

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He told us everything we needed to know about fishers, and the crisis they face due to extensive use of rat poison by marijuana growers, hiding-out in the fisher’s deep-forest habitat. We spent more than an hour seated around the dining room of his family’s home, while his wife, also a biologist, Greta Wengert, also a Ph.D biologist, attended to their infant child in another room, to give us some quiet time for the interview.

greta wengert

The show came out great! We had more good material than we could fit in one half-hour show, so in next month’s show we will talk more about the problems associated with rat poison. Last Friday, we recorded a presentation by Maggie Rufo, representing two groups: The Hungry Owl Project,

hungry owl project

and RATS (Raptors Are The Solution).

raptors are the solution

Maggie Ruffo came to Arcata to address the Redwood Region Audubon Society, about the impacts of rat poison on owls, hawks, and other raptors, and to advocate for the use of owl boxes, wooden boxes constructed to owl-nest specifications, to attract owls, as part of an integrated pest control program.

owl box

In other words, encourage owls to move in, and they can help solve your rodent problem. Then you don’t need to spend money on rat poison.

owl eating rat

She gave an excellent talk, and as a bonus, the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center brought some of their ambassador birds, so we got to mingle and chit-chat with a live: red-tailed hawk, a great horned owl, and a western screech owl. It was a noisy room, but I think we have enough good material that we can use a little from column A and a little from column B to make another good show about the effects of rat poison on entire ecosystems, and we’ll look at the campaign to ban the sale of dangerous rodenticides in California.

poison eco consequences

The other show of ours to air this week, really deserves it’s own blog post.  Teaser:  It involves an interview with Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael.


The Curse of Measure Z

frightened woman

As this campaign season moves into its final frightening week, I feel the curse of Measure Z looming around me. I resent that I must unmask this this diabolical ripoff scheme yet again. For Halloween 2014, I offer this terrifying tale:

VictorVictoriafeature

No one really knows the depths of the evil that resides in Humboldt County, but the existence of a very well funded, and deeply entrenched community of vampires cannot be disputed. Vampires love Humboldt County because we get lots of fog. Vampires love fog. You can build a castle in the middle of nowhere (like, where else would a vampire live?), and people in town don’t ask too many questions. Vampires like to keep a low profile. The remote location, underground economy, and corrupt constabulary provide plenty of cover for these soulless bloodsuckers.

dracula

No one around here bats an eyelash when a hapless young wayfarer disappears into the forest never to be seen alive again. We’re used to it. Kids come. kids go…missing. What happened? Who knows? That’s life in Humboldt County. Sometimes, the kids have families that care. They hire private investigators, because you sure can’t trust the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept to investigate a murder, but that usually doesn’t help either. These hills keep their secrets.

scary hill

More often, kids disappear and no one comes looking for them, because no one cares about them. That’s why they came to Humboldt County in the first place. They had no prospects, and no place to go, so they came here. Someone lured them out to the middle of nowhere with the promise of a shitty illegal job, and then took their life. It happens all the time, but that’s nothing compared to the evil of Measure Z. Today, Humboldt County’s most ravenous vampires plan to suck all of us dry, and they plan to use Measure Z to do it.

vampires-de-salem

The vampires in Humboldt County comprise a small portion of the electorate, but they contribute the lions share of campaign contributions, and today, they hold a majority of the seats on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. You’ll notice that they keep the lights quite low in the Supervisors Chambers, and you will find no mirrors anywhere inside.

supes chamber

The leading order of vampires in Humboldt County goes by the name of Hum CPR. Vampires often use CPR to extract the last few drops of blood from their victims, and that’s exactly what they plan to do to us, with Measure Z. They’ve already mined all of the gold, fallen all of the trees and exploited marijuana prohibition to the hilt. Now they want your blood.

vampire_bite

Do not fall prey to the vampire’s seductions. Vampires lie. You cannot trust them. What do they tell you about Measure Z? They tell you that the Sheriff takes two or three hours to respond to a 911 call because the Sheriff doesn’t have enough money. What a load of bullshit! It takes the Sheriff two or three hours to respond to a 911 call because:

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A. The Sheriff doesn’t give a fuck about your 911 call. He’s too busy looking at google Earth and trying to figure out which giant industrial grow scene will net the most booty, and which ones to avoid because he’s personally invested in them.

downeys grow

B. The Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce has already made 30 calls to the Sheriff today, about the same six people eating lunch and talking on the sidewalk in Garberville, and all of those calls will get answered ahead of your emergency.

garberville-redway-chamber-of-commerce

C. Sheriff Mike Downey is an idiot! Just because we pay the guy a quarter-of-a-million dollars a year, doesn’t mean he’s not the same dumb redneck who thought it’d be fun to swab pepper spray in kids’ eyes, sein’ as how they was chained-up an’ all. The guy doesn’t know how to handle the resources he’s got. Giving him more money won’t solve anything. The guy is doing a shitty job as Sheriff, because he’s as dumb as a box of rocks. Sending more money his way will only allow him to fail even more spectacularly, and expensively.

downey sheriff

Think about it. What if I told you that if all of my readers pitched in a hundred bucks each, it would turn me into Leo fucking Tolstoy? Would you believe me? Of course not. Each of you should give me a hundred dollars, because you enjoy my writing, as it is, and you want it to continue. I mean really, if you don’t like my work enough to support it, then what the fuck are you doing here but freeloading.

freeloaders

On the other hand, you should not give money to Sheriff Mike Downey, because he sucks, and giving him more money won’t make him any better at his job. Sheriff Mike Downey should be replaced, not rewarded. Mike Downey is a grunt. He has no taste. He has no sense, and he has no idea how to spend money.

Downey-deputies

You want to know I know so much about Sheriff Mike Downey? I’ll tell you:

horror-story

One year, Mike Downey’s wife stopped at my booth at Winter Arts Fair, with her husband in tow, to “hint” in the most direct and obvious way possible, that she would very much like to receive one of my lanterns as a Christmas gift. Later, dutifully, then Deputy, Mike Downey returned to my booth, unaccompanied, and began perusing my selection. He looked them over, blankly, checking all of the price tags, then he shrugged, and pointed to the cheapest, and ugliest lantern in my entire collection.

ugly lantern1

I knew then, that Mike Downey was one of the dumbest men on Earth. If he had any taste at all, he would have picked out a nicer lantern, and recognized that it was worth five or ten dollars more. If he had any sense: First, his wife wouldn’t have had to “hint” at what she wanted for Christmas quite so obviously. Second, even if he had no clue why his wife liked my lanterns, he could have asked us. We knew which one his wife liked, because we pay attention, something Mike Downey apparently, cannot afford. Finally, think about how much that decision cost him:

pay up

Mike Downey disappointed his wife at Christmas. For ten dollars more, he could have gotten her exactly what she wanted. She would have been thrilled. She would have known that he loves her. She would have seen that he pays attention, and that he cares, and she would have known that she married the right guy. Instead, he saved ten bucks.

bloody room z

That’s how stupid Mike Downey is! Do you think he’s any better of a manager than he is a husband? No! Mike Downey is a goon who gets paid to protect the vampires, and he does what he’s told, but Measure Z will allow Mike Downey to suck blood directly from the poor people of Humboldt County, just like those HumCPR vampires he serves. That’s what’s so scary about Measure Z Vote NO on Measure Z.


We Must Defeat Measure Z

z1 genghis khan quote

It’s only a campaign if you stick with it till the bitter end, we must defeat the forces of greed and corruption in Humboldt County, and we must defeat Measure Z. Unfortunately, this is an uphill climb. I really don’t know how to gauge the electorate, but from the people I’ve talked to about the issue, public opinion ranges from ignorance to stupidity.

z1 mlk ignorance and stupidity

The most common response I heard from people was: “What is Measure Z?” That’s just simple ignorance. I understand that. I can explain Measure Z to them, no problem, and then they can make up their own mind, but that takes work, and it costs money which I don’t have.

z1 Look-at-all-the money

Measure Z is essentially a one-half of one percent increase in the cost of almost everything for everyone in Humboldt County. Measure Z is the rich stealing from the poor. Measure Z is the same greedy bastards who took over our Board of Supervisors, reaching deep into the pockets of the working people of Humboldt County. Measure Z makes you pay for big subsidies to ranchers and developers, and allows them to profit from your hard work.

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There’s been almost no press about this issue, except the blandest pile of BS you ever heard from our local Supervisor, and another from someone in the Sheriff’s Dept. Everyone in the county got a mailer about Measure Z, paid for by the taxpayers. The mailer was equally bland, and completely unbalanced.

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Measure Z proponents are hoping for rain on election day, and a poor turnout. They don’t want Humboldt County working people to even bother to vote. They know that the greedy bastards looking for a free ride on your shoulders will make it to the polls, rain or shine. We need to GET OUT THE VOTE on November 4. Measure Z is going to bite you in the wallet if you don’t wake up now and beat it at the ballot-box. Please vote No on Measure Z.

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The stupidity is a lot harder to deal with. Stupid land owners say things like (excerpted from a fb exchange):

z1 born ignorant

“ I am a property owner and a landlord. I have no problem with increased taxes, but county government is for all of us from law enforcement, public records, the library, our courts, public health to public welfare. I agree we may well have a planning problem with developers, but I don’t see ranchers and farmers as greedy–they provide us with our food. Ranchers and farmers have been heavily impacted by the recent drought. Poor people and the homeless need government services–before I retired I was on the homeless coalition. There are those who care about the poor who work in county government. I would be very careful pitting people against each other. We all need to work together to make our area a better place to live. Paying property taxes is a way to make the lives of the less fortunate better. Proposition 13 that decreased county property taxes heavily impacted the poor by decreasing government services.”

rz1 ich and stupid

What a crock of Bullshit! People like this don’t think they are being greedy, because greed is the water they swim in. Calling them “greedy” is like calling a fish “wet.” 90% of what county government does, is guarantee the property rights of property owners. Courts, law-enforcement, public records primarily serve these ends. There may be people who care about the poor who work in county government, but that’s not what they get paid to do. They get paid to implement policies that have been created to protect property owners from the poor.

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Ranchers and farmers don’t “provide us with food,” unless we buy it from them, at a price they agree to. Measure Z forces poor and homeless people to subsidize these farmers and ranchers, even though they have no land themselves, and get no food at all in return. Those alleged “property rights” amount to nothing more than an expensive and violent occupation of stolen land by vicious genocidal invaders.

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I agree that we all need to work together to make this area a better place to live, but to do that, we need to find homes for the more than 2,000 people who have no place to live in Humboldt County. Instead, Measure Z makes those homeless Humboldters pay for services to rich, stupid and greedy land owners, heirs to the most violent, racist and genocidal empire to ever despoil the face of God’s green Earth.

z1 thanksgiving That’s the kind of greed and stupidity we’re up against folks. Measure Z supporters are “Marie Antoinette” stupid, and there’s only one cure for that kind of stupidity.

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Here’s some more helpful information to help you make up your mind about Measure Z:

z1 stuff you should know

The North Coast Journal usually only accepts letters to the editor about topics they cover in the magazine, and they haven’t even mentioned Measure Z. In this last month before the election they have made space for letters about political issues, but limited the length of these letters to to 150 words. 150 words is barely longer than a bumper sticker for Christs sake. Anyway, here’s mine.

z1 heres mine motivation

Dear Editor,
Measure Z, the proposed county-wide sales tax will raise the price of basic necessities like shoes, clothes and toiletries, as well as most other things, for everyone in Humboldt County. This new tax will most severely impact Humboldt County’s students, working people, low-income families, disabled people and seniors living on fixed incomes. It is particularly unfair to fund county government with a sales tax because the primary purpose of county government is to secure the property rights of property owners. If you own property, county government works for you, whether you live here or not. If you don’t own property, county government are the people who evict you from your home. If Measure Z passes, Humboldt county’s low-income residents will begin paying their landlord’s tax bill. Measure Z is a cynical ploy to take advantage of the county’s most vulnerable. Please, VOTE NO on Measure Z.

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Sincerely, John Hardin

z1 blotter mad hatter

Continuing my campaign to sink Measure Z I present the text to an “All Sides Now,” a nightly audio editorial feature on KMUD, that I submitted regarding Measure Z. Read it now or save yourself the trouble of interpreting all of those English language characters and listen to it tonight, Monday, October 20 at 6:30 after the evening news, instead.

z1 listen

This is John Hardin for All Sides Now,

Measure Z, if it passes would establish a brand new county-wide sales tax, on top of the already high seven-and-a-half percent state sales tax, and in addition to any municipal sales tax, such as the one up for reconsideration in Eureka. If Measure Z passes, it will make almost everything in Humboldt County, more expensive, including basic necessities like shoes, clothes and toiletries.

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Measure Z will most severely impact Humboldt County’s young people and students, low-income working families, single mothers, disabled people, retirees and others living on a fixed income. In other words, Measure Z hurts the people who can afford it the least.

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Who benefits from Measure Z? Greedy developers, rich ranchers and large estate owners expect to reap a windfall of taxpayer subsidies from Measure Z funds. If Measure Z passes, you will pay for taxbreaks on new McMansion developments, every time you buy toilet paper. If Measure Z passes, you will have to pay for subsidized pest control for ranchers, through Wildlife Services, a notoriously inhumane agency of the USDA that needlessly kills millions of wild animals every year, every time you buy cruelty-free cosmetics in Humboldt County.z1 Cruelty-towards-animals

Measure Z is a cynical plan, hatched by Humboldt County’s richest and greediest, to foist the burden of county government on to the backs of people who can afford it the least, while they insure that the benefits of county government remain firmly within their grasp.

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Measure Z steals from the poor and gives to the rich. We must stop Measure Z now, before it is too late. Please, vote NO on Measure Z.

z1 stop ebola rns


Vote NO on Measure Z

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I just googled “Measure Z Humboldt County,” and discovered that this blog ranks higher than any other site that opposes Measure Z. Right behind the official Support Measure Z site, the county’s Measure Z page, and a LOCO story about Measure Z, my piece, No Wifi in SoHum Means No on Measure Z ranked fourth, and was the only “No on Z” site to turn up on the entire first page of results.

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Fuck! Somebody needs to stand up to Rob Arkley and Lee Ulansey’s plan to screw the poor and working people of Humboldt County. It looks like everyone else is busy with the Eureka Fair Wage Act and the County-wide GMO Ban. Personally, I don’t even garden, let alone farm, and I don’t live in Eureka, so those issues don’t effect me much.

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On the other hand, Measure Z, if it passes will hurt me, and a lot of other people in Humboldt County like me, who barely make ends meet, and have neither the time nor the resources to launch a political campaign. I don’t have money for campaign literature. I don’t even have a phone to call other people to help organize a fundraiser. I have a blog. That’s it. That’s what makes Measure Z so unfair. It specifically targets the people who have the least resources to fight it. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

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I make my living as an artist. The key to survival as an artist is not talent or hard work, because God knows I lack the former, and avoid the latter like Ebola. The key to survival as an artist is finding creative ways to spend even less money than you make. There is no minimum wage for artists, nor do we get any raises, cost-of-living increases or bonuses. Keeping costs down is critical to my survival, and Measure Z, if it passes will raise my cost of living, and it will definitely hurt.

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If Measure Z passes, I will have to pay more for things like shoes, clothes, shampoo and toilet paper, basic necessities of life that everyone needs and has to buy. Everyone who buys anything in Humboldt County will have to pay this tax to county government. Measure Z will raise the price of everything from tampons, condoms and diapers to beer wine and cigarettes for everyone who shops in Humboldt County, but it won’t effect everyone equally.

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People who have plenty of money will just shrug it off without a second thought. Land-owners think it beats paying property tax, so they won’t complain. Merchants think they are going to get something for it, namely more sheriff’s deputies tasked with the job of removing unsightly poverty from our business districts, so you don’t hear them complaining. For work-a-day stiffs, low-income families, disabled people and retirees on a fixed income, Measure Z could easily become the straw that breaks the camel’s bank.

z1 burden rock

The injustice of a county sales tax is that the primary purpose of county government is to protect the property rights of property owners. If you own property, then county government works for you, but if you don’t own property, but instead rent your home, county government are the people who evict you. That’s why, until now, your landlord paid for county government. That’s why a county-wide sales tax is unfair. Everyone pays it, but it primarily benefits land-owners, and hurts renters.

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The landlords in Humboldt County have gotten so greedy that they want to make poor and working people pay for their own eviction every time they buy shoes. Listen closely to the way land-owners talk about “transients, ” because when land-owners say “transients” they mean everyone who doesn’t own land. If you’re a renter, they’re talking about you. They’re not satisfied with the exorbitant rent they already charge you. They want more. If Measure Z passes, it will be like giving your landlord an extra nickle every time you spend $10 in Humboldt County.

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Your landlord takes too much of your money already! Measure Z is a shameful attempt by rich ranchers and greedy real estate developers like Lee Ulansey and Rob Arkley to steal from the poor and working people of Humboldt County. Measure Z steals from the poor and gives to the rich. We must stop it NOW. Vote NO on Measure Z

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…And don’t forget to register to vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Following letter appeared in this week’s Independent and Redwood Times:

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Dear Editor,

z john and yoko

The only thing that looms larger on the landscape of Humboldt County than the majestic redwoods for which we are rightly famous, is the unmitigated greed of some of it’s richest residents. Today, that greed has a stranglehold on county government, and stands poised to reach into the pockets of this county’s poor,

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young,

z poor student2

low-income,

z poor people wait tables

and working people.

People work in a maquiladora, or garment assembly plants in Tehuacan

Measure Z, the countywide sales tax, will make bare necessities, like clothing, shoes and toiletries, more expensive for the people who can least afford them: single mothers,

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working families,

z bad family

disabled people,

disability protest against cuts

and retirees on fixed incomes.

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Measure Z steals from the poor, and gives their hard-earned money to Lee Ulansey’s hand-picked Board of Supervisors, who then give it to rich ranchers and greedy developers in the form of subsidies and tax breaks.

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The Board of Supervisors, and the puppet-masters who pull their strings, know that poor people are the most generous, community minded people in the county, and they intend to play us for suckers.

z Sucker

The county has not promised to do anything to help poor or working people. Quite the contrary, the county has promised to use the money to harass homeless people, speed up evictions, and to make room in the county jail for people accused of petty crimes.

z too many cops

If the county is broke, it is only because it has so consistently pandered to the desires of rich land-owners, and failed to tax them sufficiently.

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If measure Z passes, the county will begin collecting sales tax from everyone who spends money in Humboldt County, including many local residents who can ill afford it.

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That money will pay for subsidized infrastructure to support new McMansion developments.

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It will pay for subsidized pest control for ranchers, through Wildlife Services, an expensive and outdated agency notorious for cruel, inhumane practices and for indiscriminately killing millions of wild animals every year,

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and it will pay for thousands of little perks for land-owners, like subsidizing the cost of hazardous materials inspections at agricultural businesses.

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Measure Z will be a windfall for Humboldt County’s richest and greediest 1%.

z Burns-1 percent

I urge each of you to stand together with the 99%. Tell the county to tax the rich, not the poor! Make the 1% pay their fair share. Please, vote NO on Measure Z.

z bad dad

Sincerely, John Hardin

z bikini sign


Medicine Baul Live at Jambalaya in Arcata

medicine baul 1ba

All Photos in this essay by Bob Doran, some, like this one are stills from his video Medicine Baul Live at Bummer Fest 2012. Other pics from his Medicine Baul photo album on facebook

Amazing! Astounding! Wonderful! Wow! Wow! Wow! If you read this column regularly, you know that I’m a cynical old coot who loves to make fun of people. Not today (sorry to disappoint you). Today I feel rejuvenated, recharged and re-energized, because last night I experienced Medicine Baul live at Jambalaya in Arcata.

medicine baul 9c

Medicine Baul played inspiring, original music. When I say “original” music, I don’t just mean that they write their own songs, I mean that they don’t do anything normal. Medicine Baul didn’t even play anything you could call a song. Instead, we heard one continuous, collaborative, improvised composition that spanned the duration of their set.

medicine baul 4a

They had some normal instruments, like a concert bass drum, a trombone and a hammered dulcimer, but Medicine Baul didn’t play anything normal on them. They had some decidedly abnormal instruments, like a homemade, cello-sized, one string instrument, a mouth harp and an electric hurdy-gurdy. They didn’t do anything normal with those instruments either. They hit things. They plucked strings. They held twisted brass tubes and other strange devices to their lips, and they fiddled with many contraptions too small to see clearly from the audience. They produced a great variety of weird noises.

drum banjo trombone1

At the center of all of this instrumental madness, one tall slender dark-haired woman of artistic demeanor, not brassy, not seductive, but serious, concentrated, reserved, but with a playful glint in her eye, stood alone in front of the microphone at center stage in a long striped indigo dress. Her vocalizations, sometimes soaring and melodic, other times dark and guttural contained no discernible lyrics. Flanked stage left by by a man wearing coveralls, knee-pads and a hardhat, crouching low to the floor amid a pile of instruments, and on stage right by a seated man wearing a red flannel union suit playing what looked like a hillbilly cello, Medicine Baul looked positively surreal.

hillbilly cello2

Projected on a screen behind Medicine Baul as they played, scenes from documentary films, probably made in the 1970s by the look of the film, depicted life in remote tribal villages. The images began with people navigating white-water rapids in dugout canoes while standing up, each using a single pole to steer and control their tiny boats. The music began as a low murmur, crescendoed to a mighty din, climaxed in a cathartic release of energy and concluded as peacefully as it began. Medicine Baul both defied and exceeded expectations with their spontaneous composition.

medicine baul drummer4

Medicine Baul has at least six members. I find it hard to count higher than that, but there were a lot of people up on that rather cramped stage, and they all had something to do, pretty much all the time. Clearly, they all listen to each other. I don’t think anyone would say, of Medicine Baul, that they were fantastically talented players, because none of them were show-offs, and they did not play music for show-offs. Instead I will say say that Medicine Baul is made of fantastically talented listeners, and that together they compose brilliant original music.

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You really should experience them for yourself. You will have a chance to do that on November 3. Medicine Baul will perform in Eureka on Monday, November 3, at Siren’s Song, along with Willoughby, starting at 8:00pm. We’ve already planned our next Eureka trip around it, and so should you.

medicine baul 6b

We have an obscene amount of music shows here in Humboldt County, and most of them them are more party than concert and involve music drawn from well-trodden, commercially proven, genres. That doesn’t interest me. I want to hear something original, and I like it that much more when the artists have the guts to challenge the audience’s expectations rather than pander to them. That’s what makes music interesting. That’s what makes music powerful, and that’s what keeps music alive.

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Art matters! Parties, not so much. We need original art now, more than ever, because at the core of our current cultural collapse lies a colossal failure of imagination. It’s going to take a lot of imagination to reinvent the future. Original art is to imagination what business is to money. An abundance of art promotes a wealth of imagination. Medicine Baul is a perfect example of what I mean by “original,” and listening to them could change the way you think about music.

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Big Photo Finish to Our Summer Tour (This is gonna suck if you have a dial-up connection)

tin can luminary at NCF2shpshcppsh

Last weekend, my partner Amy Gustin and I performed at North Country Fair in Arcata.

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We had a terrific time playing for an appreciative and generous audience.

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We performed a couple of pieces from Amy’s album, The Big Picture, and one from my album Um… Uh…Gum Eh? as well as several new works-in-progress.

tin can luminary at NCF4pshcp

After a busy Summer, we expected to conclude our season of live engagements with our performance at North Country Fair, one of our favorite venues, before taking some time off to record a new album.

tin can luminary at NCF9 sharp

Most bands that play North Country Fair don’t bring a full, theater-scale, light show, but since it was the last show on the tour, we decided to go all out.

Tin Can luminary mind blowing light show

It did take a rather extraordinary effort to set up 50,000 watts of lighting and four floors of scaffolding for a 45 minute set, but I think all who were in attendance would agree, it was worth it.

lightshow Tin Can luminary

As a band, Amy and I sound pretty good, but our light show will blow your mind. You really need to experience it first-hand.

lightshow Tin Can Luminary 1a

Photographer Bob Doran turned up for the event, and took all of these great photos.

tin can luminary at NCF1 cropsat

After our set, we chatted a bit with Bob.

tin can luminary at NCF7perspective crop

In addition to being a music writer and photojournalist, Bob Doran is also associate producer of my favorite radio music show in Humboldt County, Fogou, with host Vinny Devaney from 2-4pm Weds on KHSU.

tin can luminary at NCF1 blueng

Bob invited us to perform on Fogou the following Weds. Of course we were honored and delighted to play for KHSU’s listeners on Fogou.

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We met Bob at his exquisitely decorated home in Arcata, and met his lovely wife Amy.

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Before we went to the station, Bob showed me some of the photos he took at North Country Fair. Bob has a great eye, and his photos were not only well composed, but they captured the energy of the event as well as our personalities.

tin can luminary at NCF7perspective

I really appreciate that he came out early on a Sunday morning to catch our set.

bob doran thanks

When we got to KHSU, we set up on the floor of the studio.

tin can luminary on fogouwshcp

We had some technical difficulties with the Theremin, which took a while to work out, but we played four pieces from our repertoire and did our best to help them raise money during their pledge drive.

tin can luminary on fogou op-tile1

Bob Doran took several photographs of our performance on Fogou.

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I had a great time, and it was a real kick to be a part of my favorite radio show.

tin can luminary on fogou1 line neg2 ud-tile


Lance Armstrong, Frank Zappa, Drugs and Society

lance armstrong1-horz

I heard on the radio that Lance Armstrong recently celebrated a birthday. I hope he had a nice birthday, and I wish him only the best. I really don’t give a fuck about sports, but I have a lot of respect for Lance as an athlete and as a human being. I don’t care what anyone says. The guy got struck down with a terrible disease, in the prime of his life and fought back to become one of the greatest athletes in history. Period, in case you didn’t notice that little dot at the end of that last sentence.

period

I don’t know why it bothers us when athletes use drugs. We sure don’t hold it against musicians. I’ve never heard anyone say: “I used to really love the Grateful Dead, until I found out that Jerry used drugs.

jerry marijuana

I can’t believe he would let us down like that. Now I think they suck, but hey, why don’t you come over and check out my collection of Ted Nugent records.” Not once have I ever heard anyone say that.

ted nugent

When it comes to music, we assume that anyone who is any good at music, uses drugs, at least I do. I was crushed when I found out that Frank Zappa didn’t use drugs. What a letdown that was. I used to think that Frank Zappa was this totally original psychedelic genius. I thought he must eat LSD every morning for breakfast to compose all of that freaky music.

FreakOut! fz-horz

Then I found out that he didn’t use drugs, and I began to realize that Frank was a geeky American kid with questionable taste, who really dug Edgar Varese, and some other classical weirdos, as well as blues, R+B and rock n’ roll, and he liked to make fun of people. He thought about musicians the way most people think about athletes. He wanted the best, and he drove them to play their best. He made his music as complicated as possible, and played it with a monstrously lascivious groove.

frank zappas band

Drugs had nothing to do with it. Well, drugs had nothing to do with creating it. I think drugs had something to do with why so many people love Frank Zappa’s music. On drugs, people often discover tremendous satisfaction and joy in listening, but when they’re not on drugs, they never shut-up long enough to experience that pleasure.

never shut up2

Thanks to drugs, a lot of people, who would have been just as happy to chew your ear off all night without regard for the music in the background, got too high to think of anything to say. In that stoned silence, they heard music, as if for the first time. Very soon, they realized how stupid most of it was, and began searching for more interesting things to listen to. In other words, drugs didn’t help Frank Zappa make music, drugs helped make Frank Zappa’s music popular.

zappa-conducting

Still I was a little disappointed to realize that all of Frank’s inspiration was earthly, even civilized, in origin, and that drugs, besides caffeine and nicotine, had nothing to do with it. We thought we were all connected in this wild other-worldly psychedelic experience, and Frank just thought we were a bunch of fucked up kids who didn’t get his music. In some ways Frank Zappa is the Lance Armstrong of music. Frank’s got nothing to be ashamed of, and neither does Lance. They both did amazing things in their field. Why should we give a fuck what they do, or don’t do, off-the-field?

frank_zappa 5-horz

Some people make a big deal about the fact that Lance Armstrong lied about using drugs. I don’t hold that against him at all. Everyone lies about using drugs. I’ve lied to my own mother about using drugs. “John, are you high on something?” she’d ask. “No!” I would reply. Why do people even ask? I’ve lied to teachers about drugs. I’ve lied to cops about drugs. I’ve lied to my boss about drugs. What business is it of theirs anyway? As long as drugs remain illegal, everyone will take them, and everyone will lie about them. It’s as simple as that.

everybody lies trust me

If I have one piece of advice for you, it is this. Assume that everyone you meet anywhere, any time, is both armed, and on drugs. I offer this advice for a few reasons: First, it’s true. Almost everyone is armed and on drugs. This is especially true in my neighborhood, but it’s pretty much true, pretty much everywhere. You may find exceptions, but I wouldn’t count on it.

i wouldnt count on it

Second, most of what is wrong with our culture comes, not from people being armed and on drugs, but from people assuming that other people are sane and competent, despite clear overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This is very dangerous. If you have chosen to have “elective surgery” It’s probably because you assume that the surgeon is competent and sane. If you knew he had a three tab a day Oxycontin habit and carried a lethal syringe full of digitalis in his lab-coat, that weird, but benign, grape-sized growth on the end of your nose might not seem so unsightly.

nose growth1

Would you get into a cab if you knew the driver was a paranoid speed-freak with an uzi under the drivers seat? Would you stop for dinner at a restaurant if you knew the waitress washed down her Prozac with a flask of sloe gin and kept a nickel-plated semi-automatic handgun in her purse, the cook was mainlining cocaine in the bathroom, with a revolver tucked into his boot, and the dishwasher is zonked on heroin and carries a big knife? Would you call the cops to investigate the burglary of your home if you knew they were all fucked up on bath salts and PCP? Of course not, but they are, and you do. What are you, crazy?

cop on pcp1

Third, and finally, if you heed this sage advice, and treat everyone you meet as though they are armed and on drugs, you soon realize that the best strategy in life is to stay the hell away from everyone, and do everything you need done, yourself. That may seem drastic, but it’s fucking crazy out there, and it’s time you faced facts, everyone you know and rely on is armed and on drugs, and just about to snap, and you don’t want to be there when it happens.

armed crazy and about to snap

Besides, doing things yourself is good for your sanity, and it increases your competence level. It doesn’t do anything about the drugs and the weapons and the craziness, but we could sure use more sanity and competence in this world. You see that when we realize how crazy and dangerous the world has become, and begin acting accordingly, we actually bring more sanity and competence into the world. In this way we use the bad craziness of modern civilization to heal, and strengthen ourselves.

bad craziness

So, lets learn this lesson from the greatest bicycle champion that ever lived, Lance Armstrong. It’s time to stop worrying about who is or isn’t using drugs. Let’s assume everyone is using drugs all the time. If you choose not to use drugs, that’s your business, and none of mine. Instead, let’s judge people by their sanity, and their competence. When it comes to winning the Tour de France, no one is more competent that Lance Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong no longer contests doping charges


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