Why I Will Never Really Appreciate Louis CK Again

louis ck is a douche dad

Louis CK unwisely decided to discuss his politics during the last election and as a result I will never be able find him funny as I once did.

There is a new Louis CK special on Netflix. Six months ago I would have been elated, chomping at the bit to watch it. Now I could care less, but that would involve more care, and it’s not fucking worth it. Louis is dead to me.

So what did he do that I find so unforgivable?

He supported Hillary Clinton. But it is not that he did it, but how he did it.

First of all let me make it clear that I did not vote, did not support any candidate and do not participate in mainstream politics. And I certainly have no love at all for Donald Trump. So I am not being a sore loser. Louis could have talked about voting for Hillary and done it, and I would have let it go right past me and continued to love him and his work. But his reasoning for supporting Clinton has rattled my faith in his intellect, intentions and values in such a way that it will forever color everything he does in my view.

I am not going to look up the quote and repeat it here verbatim. The gist was that he was going to vote for her not because he was voting against Trump, but because he really thinks she would be a great president, because she is a ‘tough mom’ or some shit.

Clinton is a shameless warmongerer. And CK’s support for her seems to rest on the fact that this is what he wants. He wants a genocidal oligarch who isn’t even trying to hide it. It would have been much better if he was just making a contrarian anti-vote like most people, but he was voting for what Clinton stands for, and that is violent authoritarianism.

I will continue to explain, but I don’t think I need to. That is just fucked up, let alone for a comedian.

I have a great deal of respect for stand up comedians. There are very few careers in which you can gain access to the inner sanctum of peoples personal beliefs and ruffle things up a bit. However that is something we very much need. Comedians push the boundaries and question things others are afraid to. Comedians are ideological dissidents leading humans to new vistas of freedom.

At least the good ones are. Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Doug Stanhope are just a few comics who forced people to rethink the world they live in and to question everything. Especially authority. Authority is always the thing that needs questioned most. Especially when it is cruel and violent.

Hilary Clinton is cruel and violent. Dismissing her psychopathy and relabeling it ‘tough mom’ is the most sell out thing I have ever heard a comedian say.

Louis CK will probably continue to be funny. But I do not want to laugh at his jokes. I do not want to follow his logic, since the place it leads is so fucking insanely scary and stupid. Most of all I do not want to support him. Fuck that guy.

In retrospect I find him less funny. ‘Tough mom’ reminds me how much of his entire shtict revolves around being a dad. Trying to get other people to care about your parental role, ideas and stories as much as you do is the most overdone thing ever. Louis CK is basically your Facebook news feed with better presentation.

And who remembers when he announced he was quitting the internet? Thanks for the fucking Luddite virtue signals, douche dad. Thanks for telling us peons how to live from your almighty fucking ivory tower in the big apple. Some of us actually use this to make a living and ply our arts and do not have the privilege of just writing it off.

Louis CK seems humble until you realize his low self esteem is just a performance to gain status. It’s a direct Woody Allen rip-off without any honesty in it. Woody Allen portrayed himself as the caricature of self-doubt he was in his own head. Louis CK portrays himself as the kind of self-degradation artist who wants you to believe he is humble so he can foist his bullshit normative ideas on you and gain fame.

There is no sin in art as great as normalcy, and Louis CK has made a career out of playing normal for an audience he views as a tool to prop up his career and ego. He will even normal so hard that he makes light of bombing children in third world countries, which is what Clinton was explicitly all about, as part of his promotional efforts.

Fuck you, Louis.

How Gene Simmons Politically Alienates the Freaky Fans He Helped Create

The bass playing businessman-in-makeup from KISS helped create a generation of weirdos that his political worldview has no tolerance for.

Gene Simmons is a patriot, goddammit, and America made him great. Or so you would be left to believe if you took the Ayn Rand of stadium rock’s word for it. No offense, Neil Peart, but you’re fucking Canadian.

Where other musicians have struggled to balance their commercial success with their aesthetics, Gene embraced the dichotomy by increasingly trading artistic merit for cash and groupies without internalizing a realistic perception of what an unsavory schmooze this made him. All while allegedly remaining completely free of drugs and alcohol, which is sort of a cautionary tale against mixing rock and roll with sobriety.

Given so much success unburdened by artistic or existential self-doubt, Gene has increasingly adopted the belief over the years that anybody could repeat his level of achievement if they weren’t so much lazier and stupider than him. He believes that his current values apply retroactively to his earlier success, although there is no evidence of Gene’s conservative narrative until after he had sold millions of records and sold out major venues worldwide.

However given the aesthetic vision which he contributed to KISS, and the decidedly rash decision to leave a steady teaching career to play bass guitar in make up and high heels, it could probably be inferred that the younger Gene who engineered this path to fame and fortune was not altogether the John Galt character he seems to think (and certainly claims) that he is. In fact his well known history of making such boisterous claims seems counter-intuitive to the play-it-straight Americana he endlessly blathers about.

Fortunately, as Chuck Klosterman has pointed out, you don’t have to like the people in KISS to like KISS. Which is the most absurd form of gaining eminence and prosperity possible, and also one which happened far more coincidentally than Gene would lead you to believe. And so it also seems to work the other way, Gene doesn’t have to like KISS fans to like being in KISS.

Which is even more fucked up when you consider he probably had a lot to do with making his fans the kind of people he doesn’t like.

The entire aesthetic of early KISS was to be weird. They encouraged individuality and freakiness by embodying it aesthetically, and as a way of life altogether greater a sum than just their music. KISS was an image. And that image said to be yourself and explore the fringes and to ignore what the people judging you thought.

All of which is antithetical to the realistic ways in which success is achieved in the mythological American dream. That path leads us to conform and follow the formulas and to cater to paying customers before personal principles. Genes yellow brick road to achievement, according to his rhetoric after the fact, lies in direct opposition to the message embedded in the image of KISS.

In business the only place where straying from norms is considered beneficial is through novel innovation. While I am a fan of both the music and aesthetic of KISS, neither were particularly innovative, let alone completely original. Those evolved from things like glam rock, science fiction, comic books and pseudo-Asiatic theatrics; which I might note are all also pretty non-conservative sources of inspiration.

Yet the people who dived wholeheartedly into those aesthetics continued to seek out the odd and shocking. They explored the outer edges and transformed themselves into something far removed from the All-American archetype, and in doing so alienated themselves from mainstream culture, and so ever further away from the land of milk and honey.

The political narrative of Gene Simmons is antithetical to KISS and his own success, and it heaps nothing but scorn upon the kind of people who made him who he is through their passion and loyalty. As an added insult to fanbase injury, reality television and other media where he spouts off his inane egotistical bullshit have increased his success further.

Which means that even this facet of Gene Simmons could be a facade he created for shock value and increased status, which would make him an even greater God (of thunder)  or King (of the nighttime world) than his Army and/or detractors can even yet comprehend. That would be some of the greatest meta-level art of the 20th and 21st centuries, even though I doubt it is true. More likely he is a clever but lucky asshole, and we cannot help but always love the first person who spat blood and breathed fire for us.

The Get Down on the Artistic Freedoms & Cultural Merits of Soundtracks

Through exploring soundtracks like Netflix’s The Get Down and the work of Craig Wedren the potential of that medium to reshape musical dogmas emerges.

The best movie soundtrack from 1994 is undoubtedly the one from the film The Crow. Although it spanned many genres, the way in which each song served the aesthetic of the film united them in a way which transcended each bands historical style.

If you listen to The Crow Soundtrack today you will be transported directly back to the aesthetic, or world, of the film; which feels like 1994 even though the world in which it takes place is imaginary and the film itself was made prior to that year.

But this is true of any memorable film and soundtrack. So even though The Crow was probably the best soundtrack of 1994, it wasn’t necessarily the most interesting.

That honor, I believe, belongs to a mostly forgotten soundtrack and film in which a supergroup of that time covers the songs regularly covered by the greatest rock band of all time. Backbeat was a biopic of the early Beatles career playing seedy nightclubs for successive long nights while fueled by amphetamines, ambition and passion for rock music. As such it dramatizes the band playing crowd pleasing cover songs as they honed their craft and solidified their line up.

The soundtrack was performed by The Backbeat Band, which was comprised of the darlings of the days alternative rock roster; including members of REM, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, The Afghan Whigs, Gumball and predictably Dave Grohl – who has consistently appeared in every piece of entertainment media made since about 1994.

The soundtrack is good. It is not great, but mostly because the artistic limitations inferred by covering another cover band. But it remains interesting because in 1994 the film and its soundtrack transported you back to 1960, the year in which most of the period depicted took place. Today if you watch the movie or listen to the soundtrack it transports you back to 1994, and then depending on your level of immersion, maybe back to 1960 as well.

However had The Backbeat Band made the very same album without the contextual backdrop of the film it would probably be completely non-memorable and fail to provoke any strong sense of time or place in the listener.

So the question is, how is it that long irrelevant musical styles can regain immediacy and relevance through a merger with the medium of film?

Not so fast.

Four years after Backbeat grunge had been murdered in a vast plot by Courtney Love and Creed; sending its greatest luminaries plunging headlong into nostalgia for the genesis of their punk rock roots. Along the way they gathered up a few of their punk forefathers and re-explored glam rock and proto-punk, a collision which was facilitated by the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine.

Velvet Goldmine was a musical period piece loosely based off the lives and music/art of David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed and others. It is a masterpiece of story, direction, cinematography, acting, music and more; including inducing homophobic squeamishness in prudish viewers – a category for which there is unfortunately still no Grammy awarded.

The soundtrack contains both original compositions and cover songs. Once again a supergroup was formed to provide music for the soundtrack, using the film-period appropriate name The Venus In Furs. Interestingly The Venus in Furs contained two musicians, Thurston Moore and Don Fleming, from The Backbeat Band. It also boasted Mike Watt, Thom Yorke, Ron Asheton and several other highly notable musicians.

On top of that it includes original contributions from bands like Teenage Fanclub, Placebo, Pulp, Grant Lee Buffalo and Shudder to Think.

Every song on the soundtrack is heavily inspired by the period of the film, which gave all of these musicians the opportunity to re-explore expired musical styles in a way that somehow felt fresh again. It was neo-retro, and it sounded amazing.

However had any of these musicians made the same music without a film to anchor itself to, without another piece of art as a unifying theme, it would be largely unmemorable today. This is not to detract from the music, which is stellar, but only to point out that great music still needs a cultural context to give it significance. And if you want to revisit your musical heritage in your current cultural climate, it must come attached to another work of art that feels absolutely new.

The legacy of the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, aside from the music itself, will probably best be as the place where a long awaited The Stooges reunion got started. However it should probably also be remembered for the contributions by Shudder To Think, whose central member Craig Wedren has since become the embodiment of the central theme of this essay.

In 1997 Shudder to Think completed their last album, as well as contributing songs in a similar style to three independent films. In 1998 they contributed two more to Velvet Goldmine and then called it quits. Upon their dissolution Craig Wedren began focusing more of his musical output on film scores and soundtracks, especially for projects by former members of the sketch comedy troupe The State, whose director David Wain was a childhood friend.

Wain’s cult film Wet Hot American Summer was musically masterminded by Wedren. He scored the film, supervised the soundtrack and also contributed to it. It opens with Jane by Jefferson Starship, which sets the feel for the entire soundscape of the film. It also contains musical elements of the late 70’s and early 80’s summer camp films it satirizes, but the pure bombast of Jane is present throughout, especially in the soundtrack contributions from Wedren.

This would set the tone for Wedren’s later, and continuing, soundtrack work. His ability to recapture past genres and styles, and cross freely among them, has earned him an invitation to contribute to numerous film projects that require just that. And while he also continues to make mind-blowing solo music, he has been given relatively free reign to a musical time machine. A position which is both monumental and obscure, considering the humble commercial success of the projects he has worked on.

Wedren has made a career and amassed a cult following from committing a cardinal sin of music – directly revisiting the musical styles of those who influenced his own.

No musician has ever escaped their influences entirely. Yet most of them understand that merely retreading the musical paths of their influences will either result in the perception of novelty or commercial disinterest. In music-as-art you are always supposed to try pushing forward. Only the most vapid pop stars are able to continue capitalizing on old formulas, because the perception of their artistic merit is not entwined with the perception of their music. Their image takes merits place.

Yet all music is built upon all that came before. Every piece of music is made of 99.9% recycled musical DNA in the most basic sense. And still the inability to explicitly travel backward and forward in musical time is a limitation almost impossible to overcome without attracting stigma. There is nothing musically wrong with complete temporal mobility, but the 20th century’s mixing of music with the market has led to a perception that music is supposed to be a straight line ahead.

I personally retired this hypothesis years ago, largely through exposure to the soundtracks and musicians I have been discussing. But as transcendent as Velvet Goldmine was to me, its greater overall commercial and cultural impact was very minute.

Most people have been unknowingly conditioned by market factors to effectively disregard retrospective musical offerings. However that could be changed if the strategy became successful in a landmark cultural artifact.

This, obviously, has been tried numerous times to varying degrees of musical or commercial success. However it has yet to hit both evenly. A formula in which astoundingly great new music that sounds like astoundingly great old music, and also achieves widespread commercial success alongside critical success on genuine artistic merits, has been elusive. However it has always been possible, and may actually finally have been realized.

The Get Down, a two part mini-series presented by Netflix, has recreated the feeling of early hip hop in such an immediate and accessible way that it’s original compositions feel as fresh to most Americans as their earlier counterparts felt to those living during hip hop’s inception in NYC.

By the time hip hop had been packaged and marketed to a larger commercial audience it had already undergone much of its evolution. It came to the larger world fully formed without any historical or cultural context, unlike rock and roll which had entered the public consciousness in its raw early form and gained its maturity and context in full view of it’s audience.

The Get Down gives us that history and context, in a genuine and accurate enough way that most of us will feel the initial excitement of hip hop we missed out on the first time. And in doing so it will give us a direct connection to that early music most of us never had, re-instilling it with a sense of urgency and importance in the now.

However none of that would matter if The Get Down wasn’t also a fantastic piece of art itself, which it very much is. It would matter even less if the music were only mediocre and serviceable, which it most certainly isn’t. The music is amazing.

I speak mostly of the hip hop. Disco and 70’s pop fans might find those portions of the musical re-imagining more personally compelling. And while they may also be great, they will not have the same export. Besides the fact that Saturday Night Fever prematurely covered disco’s nostalgia in the midst of it’s own hey day, thus making any future attempts even more of a novelty, hip hop is still a highly relevant musical form. One that thrived with its roots largely hidden from the audience it amassed over the years.

Last year De La Soul redefined the perceived limits of works of commercially important hip hop with their long-awaited comeback album. They expanded beyond their genre and time period so successfully that they rose from cult legends to chart-topping kings. And in doing so they set the stage for a rebirth of hip hop. Is The Get Down also part of that rebirth?

I hope so, and not is just because I personally find it to be artistically transcendent, but because it could open up the doors to musicians which only soundtracks have previously offered. It could open up the history of modern western music to re-exploration in ways that seem genuine rather than merely novelty trends.

Where it seems that music has reached the ends of it’s possible sonic boundaries, where nothing truly new can ever be done again with sound, perhaps the only way for music to survive in an advanced technological civilization is to shed the restrictions of linear progress. When it becomes impossible to make anything that sounds objectively fresh, the art becomes in finding ways to make them feel fresh within our experience of them. And because technology will probably continue to yield new mediums, and thus the opportunity to create those experiences, it may become possible to refresh points in musical history by reconnecting them with points in new medium.

The Get Down is technically within known and tried mediums. Yet modern approaches to long form cinematic storytelling recently pioneered by cable and internet services have made artifacts like The Get Down possible by transforming the amount and method of our media consumption. Commercial-free, binge-able cinema has not only offered us a more direct access to variety, but offered those creating art within it a latitude that was previously not possible. With more media consumed comes more room for exploration by its content creators.

Including the radical possibility that the old can become new again.

Finally.

The Greasy Strangler Reviewed By A Total Bullshit Artist

The Greasy Strangler seems to have been largely dismissed as an oddball novelty, but it might be the most innovative film ever.

The first time I watched the film it seemed easy just to classify it as “weird” and move on. But as I thought more about it and then rewatched, I realized how incomplete that description was.

David Lynch makes weird movies. John Waters, Harmony Korine and Giuseppe Andrews make weird movies. And what makes them so weird is that those movies exist within our consensus reality but contain elements that do not belong. They are incongruous and inexplicable.

There is nothing incongruous or inexplicable about The Greasy Strangler. All of its characters and situations work according to the logic of the reality it is based in, which is not the same as the one we are watching it from. In this way the film is more akin to fantasy than surrealism.

Even the motivations of the characters are atypical of human psychology, but become perversely reasonable when considered from the alien psychology of the films reality.

If the film were merely weird, it would be a barely interesting side note in the wide world of strange cinema. But it is not merely weird. It is a highly constructed fantasy world with complex interconnected truths of its own. In fact, it is probably a better fantasy world than the one’s detailed in the most popular fantasy works.

For example, Lord of the Rings is barely fantasy at all. It is just medieval earth with most of the humans replaced by different shaped beings with mostly the same behaviors and motivations of human beings. A little dash of classic literary magicalism, and Wa-La, the greatest fantasy franchise of all time.

Except it is not really that fantastic at all. It is what most classic literature is, a morality tale told through caricatures. And as such it is full of elements which make it mostly indistinguishable from our reality. Morality tales must remain mostly realist in order for the morals to be evident.

There is no moral point to The Greasy Strangler. There is no lesson and no metaphor on the human condition. It is therefore untethered from reality in ways most of what we call fantasy really isn’t. The absolute lack of a message or any social import whatsoever free it from the constraints of normative consensus reality.

Which may itself be a very powerful lesson and metaphor on something. Art? Fuck if I know.

But i do know it transcends weirdness to do something film and art rarely does, which is to snub reality in its entirety and create something completely outside of it.

Anybody can make weird films. Nobody ever makes films that are completely irreverent of reality altogether. There is something brilliant in that. Next level shit.

I get the feeling the film was largely ignored because it was dismissed as novelty oddness. At the same time I also get the feeling that someday it will be an historically important film for having not just bent the relationship between art and reality, but separating the two altogether.

Or maybe I am just a total bullshit artist.

Oh, and the music is fucking dope.

Heavy Metal Objectivism: Philosophy In Drop C

objectivism black sabbath heavy metal

Objectivism has wiggled it’s way into all human endeavors and even heavy metal music has not escaped the clutches of it’s dogma.

In a recent interview Brent Hinds of Mastodon made a statement in which he claimed that heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest are not, nor ever were, a heavy metal band. I would guess that a lot of people might agree with him, mostly younger metalheads. However I don’t think this generational gap is defined so much by style as how the definition of heavy metal began to change in the 1980’s.

Before I get to that, however, although I think Mastodon is a great band and admire Brent’s heavy metal hijinks, I would consider them to be a far less metal band than Priest. Mastodon are a very metal prog rock band. And that’s okay.

The essential question is – what makes music ‘heavy’ and what makes it ‘metal’? 

The ‘metal’ part is pretty easy and can be broken into two main categories.

Attitude

Defiance, rebelliousness, unusual curiosity, darkness of worldview and humor; and most of all irreverence. Whether snarky strikes of combativeness or stone cold shoulders of passive aggression, metal doesn’t want to hear your bullshit. It has plenty of its own, fuck you.

At the same time most metalheads are open-minded, fun-loving people with lots of love and humor, especially among their own where they are accepted non-judgmentally for their singular passion for the metal lifestyle.

The metal attitude is not aggression, even though it appears that way. It is a hyperbolistic defense mechanism. The metal spikes on the black leather jacket, like the spines of a porcupine, protect a tender, vulnerable human being from the surface-dwelling norms all around them.

This gives the safety to self-explore. To think more deeply and to feel more deeply. To dig beneath the exterior world of frivolous lightness into one of their own existential heaviness.

The Objective

Objective facts are the parts of a phenomena that can be observed and measured in some way, then reobserved and remeasured with consistent results.

In metal music of all types there are some elements that are often, but not always, present. Speed, distortion, volume, anti-authoritarianism, Satanism and the occult, themes of darkness and evil, bombastic performance and presentation, musical virtuosity…among others. These are objective qualities within metal music, of which there must always be at least a few present in order to be accepted as metal by the genres fans.

However there is one further attribute of metal that cannot be fully denied – it is fueled by raw masculine energies.

Somewhere between the new wave of British heavy metal and Metallica there began to be sort of competitive drive to become more metal than anyone else. It got louder, faster and far more ‘evil’.

Over the next decade the metal one-upping led to a division of metal into an ever-branching tree of sub-genres. From this came speed metal and death metal and black metal and a number of other genres who picked a few of those objective qualities and focused all their efforts on expanding on them.

A decade after that metal had been reduced to the objective qualities found within it. Every sub-genre was a _______-metal band and in all the musical measurements that divided them something had been lost.

Heavy

It is not quite so easy to define what heaviness is. It cannot be objectively observed or measured. It is not even an attribute of the music or performers, but of the relationship between them and the listener. It is an effect that cannot be perceived or predicted.

There is the famous Ozzy quote about how puzzling it was to consider San Francisco and people who were obliged to wear floral cranial ornamentation while visiting that enchanted land. For Black Sabbath the grey skies and industrial totality of their lives could not prepare them for such a sunny worldview. And in their music you can hear, nay feel, the very environment in which they had been formed.

It is not Ozzy singing about Satan’s love life that made Black Sabbath heavy in a way that had never been heard before. It was not the loudness, the distortion or occult that made first time listeners connect with their heaviness. It was their ability to musically express things about themselves and their lives which could drag you directly into their world. It was music that was, like Mozart and Wagner before them, transcendent beyond description.

Heaviness, therefore, could be considered a nexus where the emotional and spiritual meet to produce profound responses in the listener. But you cannot do that on purpose. You have to be that, genuinely, and then be lucky enough to translate it sonically and have it connect with the right people.

Metal is something you can try at. It is something that can be quantified and then imitated. Anybody can make metal music. Very few make heavy music. And not all of it, in fact most of it, is not even metal.

I am not a metal fan, I am a heavy metal fan. I am not interested in note per minute stats or which black metal artist has most appeased Lucifer. I am interested in transcendent experience and the creative works that can get me there.

Black Sabbath gets me there. Some Judas Priest even gets me there, or at least did at some point in my life. Mastodon fucking rock, but they have never made me feel transcendent. I don’t think that is their goal, either. They are fantasy prog metal. They are industrial bards with more connections to modern literature than shamanism. They look great with one foot on the monitor and the stage fans in their hair, washed out in an orgiastic carpet bombing of stage lights. And that may be metal as fuck, but there is nothing heavy about it.

There is a larger point here. Heavy metal is not the only area of modern life in which an obsessive-compulsive focus on objectivity has blinded us from the heaviness of our own existence. We have become lazy thinkers, content to dwell on the surface of a literal world we can observe and measure and feel righteous having the final answers for.

Objectivity has wounded our humanity with a delusional pride that we can enjoy exclusive access to a reality that lies outside of our own experience of it. It is a religiously dogmatic attachment to an ideal world that our subjective human experience cannot independently verify with something unquestionably objective.

The same kind of human tendency towards reductionism and oversimplification that turned a concept as complex as God into an angry sky patriarch has turned our modern view of the universe into a meaningless clockwork we are here to experience for no reason whatsoever.

And it also make people think Lamb of God are heavy, rather than what they really are, which is attached with adolescent zeal to the hyperbole of their clockwork, cookie-cutter noise. Jussayin’.

Interpreting the Mystical World of David Bowie’s ‘Quicksand’

quicksand

The song Quicksand from David Bowie’s album Hunky Dory is loaded with mystical references and metaphors that reveal the musicians own relationship to mysticism.

Today I asked an online friend, who we will call Mirabella, what she thought the following lyrics from the song were about:

“Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief; knowledge comes with deaths release.”

Mirabella’s responses were:

“Life doesn’t matter a shit, have fun, have as much of it as you can.”

“I take it to mean don’t take stuff too seriously, death is final that is the knowledge.”

Even though I am only working from my own interpretation, I am absolutely certain that the song was not intended by Bowie to be a lighthearted endorsement of nihilistic hedonism as my friend had implied.

I could easily debunk that theory of the song with the examination of a single line, but what fun would that be? Instead, I am going to deconstruct the entire song for my own entertainment and hopefully yours. There will be an even bigger message about modern art and thought at the end. But before we start…

I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley’s uniform
Of imagery

The Golden Dawn is a system of magic from late 19th century Britain which sought to endow it’s users with supernatural understanding and capabilities through a wide plethora of knowledge, rituals and methods. One of the ways they did this was through communication with the ‘Secret Chiefs’ – transcendent beings who possess knowledge of all realms of existence. A state that a human might aspire to become via magical means. 

Suffice it to say the Heremetic Order of the Golden Dawn did not place as much value in the life/death dichotomy as Mirabella does.

Aleister Crowley was a poet, mountain climber, philosopher, inventor and one time member of the Golden Dawn. An image in a popular tarot card, The Magician, is often thought to be one of Crowley. In tarot the magician is dressed in one garment symbolizing purity and innocence, and another symbolizing experience and knowledge. The magician embodies these dualities in order to dissolve them, in the same way magic is a way of overcoming the life/death dichotomy in order to be transformed into something greater.

So again, in just those first three lines Bowie has referenced ideas that are opposed to the modern materialists life/death dichotomy and the nihilism that follows it, and has cast himself in the role of a magician trying to break free from that duality.

I’m living in a silent film
Portraying Himmler’s sacred realm
Of dream reality

Bowie’s comfort with eschewing duality (good vs. bad) is evident in his reference to Nazi icon Heinrich Himmler, who was also interested in mystical and occult knowledge. 

The “silent film” might refer to the Charlie Chaplin movie – The Great Dictator – a satire of Hitler and the Nazis. However that was actually Chaplin’s first film with sound. It might just be that Bowie was trying to evoke a sense of that period in time.

What he meant by a “sacred realm of dream reality” is also unclear, as there are no direct references to be found in that. But if you study the occult history of Nazis, and Himmler in particular, there was a rejection of objective reality. There was also a belief that through strengthening of the will, humans could rise above the limitations of the seemingly objective. The philosophers stone, or alchemical elixir, as it were.  And what greater limitation is there in life than death?

I’m frightened by the total goal
Drawing to the ragged hole
And I ain’t got the power anymore
No, I ain’t got the power anymore

Achieving the transformation necessary to transcend objective reality is the probably the “total goal”. And that should frighten anybody, since it is the most absolute unknown possible. Those who seek it often experience extreme psychological turbulence, often known as The Long Dark Night of the Soul or Chapel Perilous. And those who have been there understand exactly what the ragged hole and feelings of powerlessness are all about.

And thus the title, Quicksand. This state is one in which struggle only makes things worse, and so in which the first step to rescue is resignation. Here Bowie resigns by admitting he has become powerless.

I’m the twisted name on Garbo’s eyes
Living proof of Churchill’s lies, I’m destiny

I am stumped on this one. A bit of research shows that “Garbo” is a reference to a WW2 spy, and not the actress. Garbo was the codename of a double agent who worked for the British government against Germany. But how this all relates to anything is well beyond my ability to even guess.

I’m torn between the light and dark
Where others see their targets, divine symmetry

Once again, dichotomy and Chapel Perilous. The targets beings the black and white with which most people grasp the world, but through which Bowie is no longer able. The struggling alchemist caught between two equally true ideas that oppose one another, and unable to reconcile enough to even function normally. Glitched out on cognitive dissonance.

Should I kiss the viper’s fang?
Or herald loud the death of Man
I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain’t got the power anymore

The equally true but opposing truths are…
a) From a macroscopic perspective the individual is existentially irrelevant and meaningless.
b) From a microscopic perspective the individual is the only source of existential meaning and relevance.

Kissing the vipers fang is to consume its poison and accept the macroscopic truth of his own pointless existence by ending it. While heralding the death of man is to reject the microscopic truth and accept his own divinity. “Do I give up or become as God?” he asks, which is definitely a draining question. yet it is the one which must be answered with total self-belief in order to escape the the Long Dark Night of the Soul.

I’m not a prophet or a stone-age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I’m living on

So what do 19th century Magic Societies, Aleister Crowley, Himmler and the rest of this have in common? If you guessed Nietzsche, you were probably right. More specifically the Nietzschean concept of a a race superhumans, those beings we discussed earlier who could rise above “objective reality” and “become as God”.

“Not a prophet” could mean that he is not foretelling some secret wisdom. In addition he is not a stone age man. He seems to be saying that there is nothing magical about these potentials, but rather that they are an evolutionary inevitability. But it is an evolution which necessitates our will – we need to realize the future to become it.

I’m tethered to the logic of Homo Sapien
Can’t take my eyes from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith

And now he complains that the necessary will cannot be created in a world of ancient religions and followers who are waiting to die for their salvation rather than live for it. As well as the bullshit faith of other dogmas, as we will explore near the end. Human transcendence is not a one man job. The task of awakening others so as to become further awakened himself just adds more weight to his powerlessness in the face of his realizations.

If I don’t explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it on the next Bardo

“Bardo” is a Hindu term for the intermediate state between a soul’s incarnations. The place between lives. The self beyond our recyclable egos.

When I said one line could pretty much destroy’s Mirabella’s interpetation, that was the one. If Bowie believed he would go back to Bardo after his earthly demise, then he definitely was not discussing the nihilism of the live til you die dichotomy she sussed out of these lyrics.

Yet it is also Bowie accepting that the superhuman world might not happen in his life, and admitting to his failure to be clear enough on the concept to bring it about.

I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain’t got the power anymore

A seemingly impossible predicament partnered with a seemingly impossible task, this is the stuff existential nightmares are made of. Quicksand indeed.

But is everything just hopeless bullshit?

Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death’s release

So we saw what my friend Mirabella thinks this bit of lyrics means at the top of this article. So now here is my version…

The self you are not supposed to believe in is the ego. But not in the sense that you shouldn’t have confidence or pride or admiration for yourself, but that it is only one small part of the puzzle of your entire existential self. Your soul or whatever you want to call it. I like to think of my ego as an avatar that my higher self picked to “play” in the game of life this time through. Undoubtedly only one of many avatars it has played throughout the existence of this world/game.

To not believe in myself or not deceive myself with belief is to have faith that the higher self, even when it seems like a total asshole for putting me here in this mess, is gaining something from it and working towards evolution of the game through avatars like myself.

When I die I will reintegrate into that higher self who remembers all of the games it has played…knowledge comes with deaths release…and all of this will make sense.

In the end this is a song about faith. It is about trying to transform ourselves and our world, but doing so humbly with faith that failure is not a possibility in the bigger picture.

You might play a video game a hundred times before beating it, but those first 99 tries made the final victory possible. So even in failure there is purpose and meaning. The little character on the screen, if she could believe anything about her existence, might believe she died forever 99 times. But the player, the higher self, always was, is and will be there hitting the start button and transforming the game with every run through.

So if Mirabella could be so wrong about one David Bowie song, what does that mean?

It means that our modern attachment to scientistic materialism has become a filter which limits our minds. And even transcendent art that passes through it is transformed into nihilistic pop kitsch.

David Bowie and many of the artists we all love did not see the world through that filter. They saw a world of endless secrets and possibilities. They saw chaos teeming with the potential for creation. They saw magic and the transformation of humanity through the filters of their art.

It is a shame that so many of those messages are lost, translated into something that goes against the intentions of the artists themselves. We have forgotten that artists are teachers, every bit as important as scientists, who have much to show us about our world. By shoving art through the filter of the materialist worldview we are rejecting its lessons and aiding our own ignorance. And by doing that we are holding ourselves back from the transcendent superhuman potential Bowie got himself caught in the quicksand of his mind thinking about.

Materialism is just another bullshit faith.

Rock music is fucking alchemy.

Now think about this whenever you hear a song that you thought you understood. You might be surprised.

Famous Song Lyrics/Celebrity Mashup Parodies

 

Since this website has began I have written over seven hundred pieces around the internet. I take the craft of writing very seriously and feel blessed to have pursued my dreams to the point where they have begun to pay off. But sometimes very seriousness gets a bit tiring and I just want to write silly nonsense for fun. Instead of keeping all that joy to myself I have created a fun writing exercise I hope you will join me in.

The name of the game is very simple. First you select a famous song, something everybody knows, at least vaguely. Then you select a celebrity with equal public clout and rewrite the songs lyrics from their perspective. You do not have to remain true to the original lyrics message or theme, just keep the melody and let your chosen celebrity speak. I will provide a few examples below, but the hope is that it will inspire you to contribute one or two of these famous song lyrics/celebrity mashup parodies of your own, which I will publish in a part two of this article later.

You can submit your lyrics in the comments of this article or on the AdvancedApe.com Official Facebook Page.

Me first…

I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett
Reimagined by Charlie Sheen – I Love Sluts n’ Whores

I saw her dancin’ there by the silver poles gleam
I knew she must a been a legal eighteen
The beat was goin’ strong
Feelin’ my swelling dong
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till she was with me, yeah me,
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till she was with me, yeah me, screamin’

I love sluts n’ whores
So let me put my straw in your juicebox, baby
I love sluts and whores
I’ll pay ya for your time to depants with me

She giggled when I asked her how much to turn out
That don’t matter, she said,
‘Cause it’s on the house
Said can I take you home and work that stiff pink bone
An’ now we were turnin’ out
She was in me, yeah me
First class reacharound
She was with me, yeah me screamin’

I love sluts n’ whores
So let me put my straw in your juicebox, baby
I love sluts and whores
So cum a dozen times with no romantic fees

Said can I take you home n’ make you sweat n’ groan
Next we’re turnin’ up
She was with me, yeah me
And we’ll be turnin’ on up
An’ slingin’ that big ol’ dong
Yeah with me, screamin’

I love sluts n’ whores
So let me put my straw in your juicebox, baby
I love sluts and whores
No shame if I gotta pay or you’re real easy

 

Mickey by Toni Basil
Reimagined by Ed Gein – Mary (Gein’s first verified victim’s name.)

Oh Mary, you’re so fine
You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mary…
Hey Mary!

Hey Mary!
You work the bar all night but I can wait that long
You think everything’s alright but it’s about to go real wrong
Why can’t you say goodnight so I can take you home, Mary

‘Cause when you give me thrills, I tell myself I won’t
You’re givin’ me the chills, baby, please baby don’t
Tonight when you lie still we can be alone, Mary

Oh Mary, what a pity mom won’t understand
I wanna feel your heart beat extinguished by my hand
Oh Mary, you’re so pretty, I can’t understand
It’s gals like you Mary
Oh, what you do Mary, do Mary
Don’t make me kill again

Hey Mary!
Now you can be all mine and nobodies gotta know
I’ll wear you like a mask and put on a little show
There’s nothin’ we can’t use, skin and bones, Mary

So let me use your body any way I can
To feel like a pretty lady though I’m just an ugly man
Oh please, baby, please, why can’t mom understand

Oh Mary, what a pity mom won’t understand
I wanna feel your heart beat extinguished by my hand
Oh Mary, you’re so pretty, I can’t understand
It’s gals like you Mary
Oh, what you do Mary, do Mary
Don’t make me kill again

Oh Mary, you’re so fine
You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mary
Hey Mary

Oh Mary, what a pity mom won’t understand
I wanna feel your heart beat dying in my hand
Oh Mary, you’re so pretty, I can’t understand
It’s gals like you Mary
Oh, what you do Mary, do Mary
Don’t make me kill again

 

I Wanna Rock by Twisted Sister
Reimagined by Leonard Nimoy – I’m Not A Spock

Not a Spock (Spock)
I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)

Wear the ears you say
Well, all I gotta say to you is time and time again
I say no (No)
No no, no no, no

Do that finger thing
Well, all I gotta say when you want the finger thing
I say no (No)
No no, no no, no

So if you ask me why I will not act a Vulcan
There’s only one thing I can say to you

I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)

There’s a fanbase that
Typecast me as an alien from a far more rational world
I wish they’d go (Go)
Go go, go go, go

Burned my career up
I’ve waited for so long to not have to play along
So just go (Go)
Go go, go go, go

When it’s like this, I feel the fans just look right through me
There’s nothing else that I’d rather not do

I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)

I’m not a Spock (Spock)
Spock (Spock)
Spock (Spock)
I AM NOT Spock

Okay, your turn!

How Pokemon Go Will Help Change the Very Nature of Reality

pokemon go

Right up front, I have never played Pokemon Go and this is not an endorsement for the popular augmented reality game that has spread like wildfire the past week, causing speculations of conspiracy among even the most straightforward tinfoil hat accusers. And while it may indeed be a CIA plot to distract us from police killing and democratic shenanigans, or a tool of the Satanic Reptilian Shapeshifting Illuminati New World Order for some more esoteric outcome, its effects on human consciousness will transcend whatever normal or malignant purpose its current popularity is predicated on.

To be more specific it is the augmented reality itself that will have an unimaginable impact on humanity and reality. It will not do so directly, intentionally or obviously. We will not instantly be transformed, and most likely, we will not notice our transformation taking place. The lessons of augmented reality will not be explicit. They will not be a product of content or gameplay. Rather it will be the overall implicit context of navigating augmented reality that will bring about this evolution in consciousness.

As it is, most people tend to think about reality in the most literal terms. If we can measure it and define it, it is real. Despite the fact that most human experience happens outside of this mass hallucination of measurable objective reality, we still deny the existence or importance of that which remains intangible and beyond physical description. The reason for this has been quite simple. That reality is where everything seems to be happening at.

Augmented reality pastes another layer on top of that. It provides non-physical objects in real space/time that we can interact with through both physical and technological efforts. It provides rewards for doing so, even if intangible, that give that new layer of reality significance and import in our every day lives. It provides a new layer of reality in which things also seem to be happening at.

When we think about reality as a single layer of physicality, it appears to be incredibly rigid. Augmented reality will force us to think of reality on multiple levels. It will create new ideas about what is possible within reality by expanding our thoughts about what reality is. And as our consciousness absorbs this new fluidity then reality itself may take on less restrictive properties, since reality is not an external object but a manifestation of our deepest conscious ideas about what reality is.

This may seem like a pretty big leap for those conditioned to view existence through the narrow window of materialism. Materialist narratives make us subjects and victims of an external reality independent of our consciusness. Reality becomes an inescapable plot to contain and control everything within it. While there is a certain romance to admitting existential defeat, it is far from rational. The materialist narrative is just that. It is not a doctrine of absolute truth. But if it is wrong, we are potentially limitlessly powerful beings with only the limits set forth by our own imagination.

The materialist view of reality has been incredibly useful. It has allowed us to evolve from simple animals to complex technological/cultural beings. Technology and culture, and not just biology alone, are the partners of modern humans evolution. So it should be of no surprise that culture and technology will eventually do for us what we did for it, to guide us towards a complexity that seems almost magic when compared to our earliest ancestors and their tools.

This is exactly what augmented reality will do. It will remove the bumper lanes, or training wheels if you will, of human consciousness. The rigidity of physical reality is useful for learning to explore our existence, but it provides too many obstacles for consciousness to explore the almost infinite possible outcomes suggested for millennia by religion, philosophy and science alike. The fact that such limitless possibilities extend beyond our capabilities suggests that we may evolve in ways which allow us to experience those distant possibilities of reality.

Augmented reality, however, is not the beginning. The entire trajectory of human history has been to rise above any and all challenges, no matter the difficulty. We have done so through cleverness and invention. Our inventiveness began with sticks and stones, but has evolved to new layers of reality on our phones.

Soon the phones will be replaced by glasses. Then the glasses will be replaced by implants. Finally the implants will become unnecessary, as our own conscious will becomes the creative force that dictates what sort of experiences we will have.

In our waking states, we are asleep to the unlimited possibilities. In our sleeping states, we are awakened to them but have no will. The coming incarnations of reality, of universal experience itself, will be somewhere between. We will be awake to our own will and all possibilities. Choice, rather than some abstract learning device like physical nature, will guide our consciousness along its journey.

I know this seems fantastic and unthinkable. But our world would seem equally unthinkable to anyone we plucked out of prehistory to observe it. Perhaps, even, the world to come seems even more incomprehensible to us than ours would to those ancients. That incomprehensibility is often mistaken as impossibility, but that is because most of us have been conditioned to see the universe as a place of discovery rather than creativity.

I suggest that we are not worms in a universe experiencing its own corpse by consuming it, but that we are the body of divine creativity learning how to control itself one training course at a time. Augmented reality is one small step for Pokemon, and one giant leap for mankind.

Why Niandra LaDes and Usually Just A T-Shirt by John Frusciante Is Still Brilliant

john frusciante

In 1995 one of my best friends asked me to drive him to the airport. Since he had a nicer car and the airport was out of town, I drove him in that. Another mutual friend joined. His trip was an extended stay in South America where he had chased his college freshman sweetheart, so he was not planning to be back for a long time, and as such bequeathed us the remainder of his weed stash. After dropping him off we decided to take the long way home, twisting our way through Des Moines and its outlying areas. We were young, free and high as fuck. Somewhere in our journeys through human cemeteries, industrial graveyards and parks and lakes we started going through the cassettes in the car. One was labeled Beastie Boys/John Frusciante, and although we had never heard of the latter, the Beastie Boys was a definite go. Then at some point the tape flipped and so baffled and entranced were we, that it was several songs before we were even able to share our amazement and befuddlement at what was happening to our ears and minds.

For the next few years I worshiped that album. It was so profoundly brilliant and different, while also technically simple, that I never tired of it, even after listening to it repeatedly. I would borrow my friends four track cassette recorders and attempt to replicate that sound and that feeling, and attempt which never bore success. Yet it was where I cut my teeth in the recording and writing process and its inspiration as a piece of audio art was massive in my own musical formation.

In March 1994, when the album came out on Rick Rubin’s Def Jam Records, Frusciante had terminated his role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers and was living in severe disorder with a profound heroin habit. However he maintains that the album, despite its baffling surrealism, was made before his addiction took over his life. With the exception of Running Away Into You, the album was recorded during 1991-92 on the Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic tour.

“I wrote [the record] because I was in a really big place in my head—it was a huge, spiritual place telling me what to do. As long as I’m obeying those forces, it’s always going to be meaningful. I could be playing guitar and I could say ‘Play something that sucks,’ and if I’m in that place, it’s gonna be great. And it has nothing to do with me, except in ways that can’t be understood.”
John Frusciante

in 1997, two years after I first heard John’s first solo album, I found out that he was going to be playing in a place an hour away from where I lived. I did not own a car and the weather was pretty nasty, so hitchhiking was not an option, so I eventually talked my mom into taking me to a college town bar to see a junkie play strange songs. And as it turned out, we both had a great time. John was just recovering from his addiction and he stood on the stage like he was there to haunt it. He seemed too far gone and broken to have even made it up there, but when his brilliant guitar playing began, followed by the existential caterwauling of his emotionally overloaded vocals, he came right to life. I cannot recall all of the details of that night. I remember ‘Your Smile Is A Rifle’ and Nirvana’s ‘Moist Vagina’ from the setlist. It was part of some touring funk thing called NutFest. Yet although I cannot remember the details, I can remember the feeling vividly. I can remember tears of what I think were joy. When I recall that night to memory I am not flooded with scenes and sounds and facts, but with a more pure sense of abandonment, bliss and longing.

Frusciante released a second album, Smile From the Streets You Hold, earlier that same year, reportedly for drug money. While the album does not have the purity and innocence of Niandra, it does still carry a sense of internal crisis, desperation and self-abandonment that could be felt in the first album. It is not even close to its predecessor, yet it is still a much better album than what RHCP or most mainstream rock in general were doing at the time, by light years. It is harsh and incomplete, but it is also honest and apologetic in a tragically authentic way.

After this Frusciante sobered up and continued recording solo albums, and while they are definitely interesting albums, none of them have the emotional/spiritual force of the first few. They are tame by the standards of Niandra and Smile, and do not carry the same sense of bizarre, tragic immediacy.

I continued enjoying Niandra and giving his new albums a chance. During my years in retail I found that most people could not tolerate the vocals for long, so if I had some browsers straggling too casually for too long, I would throw the album on to quicken their purchase or departure so I could sneak down to the basement and sneak a toke. Before long he rejoined RHCP and I was initially impressed. Yet after a few more albums that received heavy rotation everywhere all of the time managed to suck all of the life out of that bands music for me. And even though none of his more recent works has ever touched me the way his early stuff did, I still cherish all of that great music from his early period both solo and with RHCP, and am glad he finally got out of the latter (hopefully) for good.

“I’m forever near a stereo saying, ‘What the fuck is this garbage?’ And the answer is always the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” -Nick Cave

Before I get into why the album is still brilliant, let me comment briefly on some specific songs.

As Can Be – The opening track begins with a frenzied string blitzkrieg, a loose weave of crisis melodies, and then sort of settles into a vulgar love song once the lyrics kick in, with lead guitars winding throughout like frantic bumble bees carrying streamers.

My Smile Is A Rifle – What begins as an experiment in melancholy quickly evolves into an even deeper musical misanthropy, like a lost coffin rocking in the waves of an alien ocean. The opening lyrics, in contrast is a message of strange silver linings. The vocals descend into utter madness and one cannot be sure if he is being playful of making a cry for help. The pitch shifting, screeching and squealing is the vocal opposite of American Idol, removing all flash and skill and replacing it with pure emotional dadaism.

Head (Beach Arab) – Combining harp-like melodies below frantically picked notes soaring over brilliantly sophmoric solos, the song blazes a path through you before you can figure out what it has evoked in you.

Big Takeover – This Ren Faire rendition of the Bad Brains classic manages to use frenzied layers to make up for the lack of pace of the original, and in doing so becomes its own song, just as powerful as the original.

Curtains – The image of curtains suggested in the title befits the surrealist drama of this simple piano/vocal ballad. Its absurdist lyrics make sense on a level that cannot be comprehended outside of the context of the music and album as a whole. Building throughout, the song almost becomes a standard Daniel Johnston rocker, before twinkling out in a sprinkle of high piano notes.

Running Away Into You – This is one of the most brilliant pieces of music ever committed to recording. A tale of lust and love and longing and everything in between, it uses reverse tracks, loops, speed and pitch shifts and a bunch of other audio novelties to paint a portrait of desire through a chaotic kaleidoscope of symbolic sounds for the emotional highs and lows of romance.

Mascara – Essentially a standard acoustic rocker from the onset, the song later takes on a far stranger shape of a circus sideshow, and continues to twist back and forth between the two feelings that leaves you a bit discombobulated like riding the aural Tea Cups at a musical amusement park. Eventually ending with a lyric about underwear full of blood and a pretty guitar outro.

Been Insane – This song is kind of a baseline for the entire Niandra LaDes half of the album. A multi-layer acoustic rocker with elements of both standard rock alternating against Syd Barrett surreality.

Skin Blues – An instrumental showcase of soaring stringed sonics. The closest my own experiments ever came to Frusciante level are a really cheap version of this.

Your Pussy’s Glued To A Building On Fire – The most inappropriate lullabye ever written, or the most colorful love song ever penned? Both. And more. Highly suggestive gives way to the overall contextual frameworks and becomes highly evocative of a range of emotional and spiritual longings instead. So good, it actually is repeated in a different but similar version right after the first concludes. “YOU LITTLE DUCK HOUSE!!!!”

Blood On My Neck From Success – This is the song Kurt Cobain would likely wished he had wrote himself. The confession of a musician coming to terms with the ugliness and hypocrisy of creative fame, it is all threadbare and barely manages to hold itself together, which is exactly how John was feeling at the time. Yet no amount of saying that in straightforward terms could ever explain it like this song.

Ten to Butter Blood Voodoo – The final song from the first half of the Niandra LaDes portion feels lost and far away. It is like the Flaming Lips, if Wayne Coyne became a manic depressive guitar god who ditched the rest of his band and decided to write a song that said ‘fuck you’ to his whole life.

The tracks from here on belong to the second part of the album, Usually Nothing But A T-Shirt. The songs themselves vary in length, complexity or any other binding codes. They are listed only by their track numbers, and where vocals are employed, it is rarely with any credence to the traditions of singing. Where there are discernible lyrics, they bend and break into fragile poems never meant to be read by anyone else. These are snapshots of the unanswered questions inside the mind of a young artist and shaman. They are delicate, beautiful and at times eerily creepy. These songs blend together to form a sort of meditation on the elasticity of human emotions, or as a spiritual seance to call up the inner truths we are most afraid of. I will not go into a track-by-track analysis because they are not meant to be taken that way, and there is more to be said of them as a whole than as individual pieces. Which is how Frusciante intended the whole album.

So then why is this album just as poignant today as when it was first conceived, and maybe even more so? As I have explained in the past, we are a society living only on the surface of our own reality, rapidly consuming explicit messages while denying the underlying implicit information that underlies them. Niandra LaDes and Usually Nothing But A T-Shirt is a refutation of this shallow view of reality. It eschews literal interpretation. Its explicit presentation is meaningless collection of low quality noise. An attempt to understand the work on any kind of empirical basis would only render it more confusing and meaningless. It defies the literalism of our scientistically materialist culture.

Today’s popular music is all show and no substance, comparatively. Any attempts to day to be so wrecklessly experimental would be done in the sterile setting of academic aesthetics, based on preconceived forms and pieced together with the precision of mathematical axioms. No artist would dare be brave enough, even in the case that they were inclined, to make such a messy piece of art. It’s beauty is not just in it’s imperfection, but in its seeming ignorance that attempting to make a perfect piece of art is something that should be taken seriously by the artist.

Our culture is steeped in a dogma of technical precision and direct messages. Niandra LaDes and Usually Just A T-Shirt is the opposite of the values underlying our society. It caters to nothing, begs nobody’s approval and only says anything to those willing to work out the interpretations for themselves. While our society on the surface spoon feeds us bite sized truths, this album makes you wiggle out every little illumination on your own, but never promises to reveal any final answers about itself. It is not what it is. It is the unique experience of everyone who listens to it. It is tarot deck of audio archetypes for the emotional and spiritual truths that give us each our own meaning and purpose in life. It is musical shamanism lovingly and painstakingly delivered from the depths of one mans psyche. It is monumental work of art and a forgiving and fragile childhood-like heresy of the unexamined dogmas we hold dear.

Little duck house, indeed.