Category: Philosophy

Coldplay – "The Scientist (Acoustic)" / Back to the start

Coldplay | MySpace | Twitter

In revisiting a particular instance in the timeline of your life, chances are your impression of that moment changes with memories of all that you’ve experienced since. There are pockets in life that seem so perfect at the time. And when you remember them, it’s nice to keep them in the context that they were originally in, to keep them independent in themselves…

I was putting on my shoes, about to head out for a run, when I hesitated for a second and looked up from where I was kneeling down. I observed how lived-in my apartment had grown. I imagined what it would be like for someone to see it for the first time, and if they could tell how long I’ve lived there. I recalled what it looked like and how I felt when I first moved in. I contrasted this image by phasing in the contents that fill it now.

To my left: a cluttered closet adjacent to a bathroom with a single towel hanging on a rod. To my right: a refrigerator with random items on its door. A photobooth strip from the Yelp Holiday Party at the Westin St. Francis. My Performer review of Treasure Island Music Festival 2008. A picture of a dinosaur with short arms trying to reach into a fridge, exclaiming, “My hands are too short!” Straight ahead: the ATR Master Tape we used for recording our second album at Tiny Telephone last month.

A big hurdle in my life has been getting over always thinking about the future and to really absorb what’s happening to me at the current moment. I’m not sure if it’s nihilistic or hopeful, but the fact that we all end up in the same place (physically, at least) is reason enough to stop repeatedly asking myself,

Where am I going?

Where am I going?

Where am I going?

But rather to inquire, where am I now?

The Human Condition: A Taxi Ride to Nowhere

John Powell | IMDB

I was walking down the street the other day, watching people move around in their daily uniforms, and I realized that we are all so distracted in our everyday lives. Whether it is work, getting around, laundry or food, we have so much to do. So much. Here we are with our ability to act against our instincts, our deviance from the rest of nature, and we clutter distractions back into our lives until we’re no more programmed than an ant moving from one task to the next. But when we’re done and the distractions are gone, where do we go from there besides to sleep?

Was everything you spent your energy on today worth it?

Every now and again, I find myself pondering the human condition. Like a robot in some sci-fi flick, sometimes I feel we’re automatons that have been animated with self-awareness, whether intentionally or not. We’re still trying to understand our purpose and, quite basically, ourselves. And while the search for meaning is meaningful in and of itself, there’s always this, albeit exciting, great fear of the unknown.

Like a taxi ride to nowhere – nowhere we may know of, anyway. Adventure, but hope the fare isn’t too steep.

Jeff Buckley – “Hallelujah” / Thoughts on God…

Jeff Buckley | MySpace | Twitter

I would surmise that a conscious being capable of creating the living world would possess an intellect far greater than our own. If someone that omnipotent spoke, would we really be able to clearly understand?

The analogy I like to use is the ant on the computer (Mac or PC, for once it doesn’t matter). The ant knows that it’s on the computer – it can feel the hard surface and warmth from the glow. It knows the computer exists, and the existence of the computer directly affects the life of the ant, if only in that the ant has to crawl over it.

The ant, however, can never conceive the full potential of the computer. While it may see the light, it doesn’t comprehend text, spreadsheet cells, wacky fonts or viral videos. The reality of the computer and the ant are both intertwined but with wholly separate purpose.

So when people talk about the “word of God,” I find it a little ridiculous. How can you understand something that big when you’re just an ant on a computer?

But then I guess if something created Heaven and the earth, it could learn to speak human too…

Kurt Cobain died sixteen years ago and we’re still talking about him

Nirvana | MySpace

Before our show at Red Devil Lounge last night, I had been watching music performance videos to sort of get me into “the mood,” which is, I think, the equivalent of watching porn before having sex. Though who does that, I don’t know. Anyway, I ran into a Rolling Stone article on Kurt Cobain, discussing the sixteenth anniversary of when the rock icon committed suicide. The article commemorates his life with an amazing photo collection and some updates on his legacy, including his inclusion in Rock Band and the planned biopic on his life, Heavier Than Heaven. Here was a guy, loved and hated musically, that stood for something beyond music, injecting something more meaningful than sex and booze into rock culture. And as destructive as he was, he was/is pretty damn inspirational.

As a musician, I think it helps to constantly reevaluate why you create music. I think great music comes through if it stands for something, if you’re motivated by something more than simply creating melodies for the sake of creating melodies. That’s what separates an artist from a hobbyist, I guess. Artists create largely because they have to. Like the need to drink water or breathe air, their medium is an ingrained form of expression that, whether they want it to or not, needs to come out. Not allowing it to would be akin to never speaking for a kid that can’t shut up.

Nirvana’s performance at Reading, regarded as their greatest, is available on an NME award-nominated DVD. I’m seriously considering finally picking this up.

Audioslave – "Be Yourself" / Engaging in Self-discovery

I don’t normally subscribe to astrological predictions, but I’ve always been entertained by Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology and how his writing always seems so on-point with what I’m going through at a given time in life:

Some people are here on the planet to find success, while others are here to find themselves. In the big scheme of things, I’m not sure which category you fit into, Taurus. But I’m pretty sure that for the next few weeks you’ll be best served by acting as if you’re the latter. Even if you think you’ve found yourself pretty completely in the past, it’s time to go searching again: There are new secrets to be discovered, in large part because you’re not who you used to be. So for now at least, I encourage you to give your worldly ambitions a bit of a rest as you intensify your self-explorations.

The associated image he provides is that of a tribal king with the words “Control Freak” over it. Great.

But questioning the accuracies in astrology aside, his writing couldn’t be more appropriate. Lately, in focusing on particular areas of my life and things I wanted to achieve, I feel I’ve neglected the lifestyle balance that makes a person healthy and sane.

While most people know what I’m up to with Festizio (Red Devil Lounge show and radio appearance *cough cough*), here are some of my non-band exploits:

1.) Went barrel tasting again this past weekend. This time in the Livermore Valley.

2.) Going to a photo shoot for Fifth Floor, one of the city’s fanciest restaurants.

3.) Starting a creative project about San Francisco with Alex Hisaka and Helena Price.

4.) Studying Italian again. Maybe I’ll start playing video games too…

So, in an effort to learn more about myself and how I can exist in the world as an optimal human being, I’m giving myself more time to breathe and more opportunity to seek out new forms of adventure. In other words, I’m relaxing the focus so my peripheral vision can take in a few more things that make the world a beautiful place. Maybe, in the process, I can find what it is that makes me beautiful too.

Someone swears his true love until the end of time. Another runs away…

And to be yourself is all that you can do.

Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree / Finding Neverland…

Goldfrapp | MySpace

I recently picked up the special edition release of Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree. Unlike their other albums, Seventh Tree utilizes more organic, gentle instrumentation, a foray from their previous disco synth-pop endeavors. It’s really the perfect blend of wistfulness and ambience. While several tracks are jovial and bouncy, fans of their previous releases may need some getting used to. It’s more Bowie and Beatles than Madonna or Minogue. Anyway, I love it.

One of my favorite tracks, “Happiness,” comes into my life conveniently as I find myself playing psychologist to a few of my friends. I’m brought back to the days when I was sorting my own mental innards… back when I feel I came upon the secret to true happiness.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine asked me to write an essay on happiness for a book she was publishing. I was in Vancouver at the time and had plenty of time to reflect, so I wrote what I felt to be a good summation of the most important lesson I ever learned. I don’t want to give away the whole essay before it’s published, so here’s a key quotation:

I try my best to discard inaccurate visions of the future and exist in the present. No one knows what will happen, after all. All I can do is stay open for anything. I just have a pretty good feeling about things. That’s what happiness is, I think. It’s high hopes and no expectations…

It’s a blue, bright blue Saturday.

Bat for Lashes – "Daniel (Mt Eden Dubstep Remix)" / One Year

Bat for Lashes | MySpace
Mt Eden Dubstep on YouTube

I promised myself I would do whatever it takes this year to achieve all my goals. Most notable is the desire to push Festizio, my band, as far as it can go: more shows, another studio release and networking with as many people as I can. Music was always what I felt most passionately about so I think it’s important to do this while I can. I’m not so naïve as to think we’ll be around forever. People get married, have kids, move away or go to space. It’s expected and should be encouraged for everyone (going into space more so for some people than others). One year… to move as efficiently and expeditiously as I can in the right direction.

Festizio at The New Parish

I think we’re off to a good start. We already played a big Yelp Elite Event in Oakland at The New Parish, a new venue opened by the owners of The Independent. We also have two radio appearances and two more gigs coming up in the next few months, including a cool performance at the Chabot Space & Science Center (in the Planetarium, no less).

So, I’m more than happy so far. Unemployed but busy as hell. Time waits for no one. Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’. Sweep the leg.

By the way, if you want to help me on this lofty mission, please tell your friends, family and pets about Festizio. And please do follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t have to buy anything or perform any sexual favors (unless you want to), but rather share us with the people in your life… especially if they’re record producers.

Zen Guitarism Applied to Everyday Life

What I love most about the guitar is its ability to create something big from relatively little. Unlike literature or painted art, audio physically surrounds the listener. It’s enveloping. And unlike other instruments like the piano, the guitar is unique in that the player has direct manipulation over the strings. New notes and sounds can be achieved via harmonics, slides and bends. You are truthfully the master of the universe that you create.

Rather than selling my soul to the Devil like Steve Vai’s character did in the movie Crossroads, I chose to do it the old-fashioned way like Ralph Macchio. (He is, after all, the Karate Kid.) And while running modal scales proved ultimately useless (I’m pretty sure I’ll never use Lydian), I did pick up a few philosophical lessons on playing and performing that I’ve been re-pondering hours before heading out to load for tonight’s gig at The New Parish.

So, here they are. Five life lessons that can be inferred from the guitar:

1.) Be Light As a Feather | Use the minimal amount of finger pressure while fretting to attain faster playing speed. It’s not how hard you press, it’s how efficiently you move.

2.) Find Your Balance | Relax and focus on what you’re doing now. Keep the future in mind but don’t wander too far or you might get lost.

3.) There Is No Wrong Way | Mistakes are only deviations from your desired path. Push through and don’t let these deviations bring you down or you’ll end up straying more. Don’t sweat the small stuff or you’ll end up drenched.

4.) Be Inspired | When it comes down to it, the goal of pursuing any artistic endeavor is to create something meaningful, expressive and aesthetically profound. Try and hold onto whatever it is that inspires you.

5.) Don’t Forget to Have Fun | Life is short, after all…