Phish, Album Ranking – a pointless yet entertaining undertaking…

I am in no way an expert in music theory, nor necessarily the Phish catalogue.

That said – as a minor-league traveler on tour (a pedestrian ~35shows), adherent to the fandom and culture, owner of many studio and live albums and as a member of this particular cadre of phans; I’m relishing this discussion.

Coincidence that it’s Friday and I‘ve completed all my work you ask? Well goodonya, purple jellybean for you!

Though hearing all of them, I’ve only truly immersed myself in 9 of the 12, so for the sake of speaking intelligently I’m limiting my opinion (for once) to Junta through Round Room (excl.Siket because WTF, right?) and my commentary to mostly 1-5 due to time but I may circle back. I’m sure all this pondering is going to lead me to a big re-listen/completest marathon.

It seems clear and agreed upon that its Junta and Lawn Boy as 1 & 2, but here’s my slant:

1.) LAWN BOY – Coil, Reba Melt, each track a lyrical backflip with a gold-medal caliber landing stick, punctuated by crazy yet flowing instrumental-marmalade crescendo. Each listen is a new maze for your ears to navigate, always something I missed or forgot about that bring literal closed-eye smiles.

The B-side? No big deal, except that OKP>Gin, Antelope, Bouncin’ are three of the most pitch perfect tour-phan anthems of all time. Junta is definitely the Obi-Wan to Lawn Boy’s Luke, it aims for and almost gets there, but the dark side of endless orchestral meandering in Foam, Sky and (I am aware this is blasphemy) YEM, can often leave this listener distracted by their shear immensity. Junta is Tolstoy, Lawn Boy brings the concision of Orwell, but let’s set the gearshift shall we?

2.) JUNTA – A magnum opus to be sure. YEM, Fluff and his Travels, Sky and Bowie are all masterpieces but they are standout stand-alones that could make a case for world’s greatest EP but tower over fun-but-by-comparison-less –significant tracks like Fee, Esther, Golgi, D & M and Contact. Lawn Boy is greater than the sum of its parts – Junta is merely great and so it gets il due, what’s Uffizi?

3.) RIFT – Now this may be getting some subconscious lift as Rift was the concept album that introduced me to the concept OF concept albums. So the Album/Dream leitmotif may just me tugging on my nostalgia strings but thems’ the breaks. Lyrically astounding, Rift, Maze, Wedge, Sparkle, Ice, Horse>Silent all helped me find my verbiage of the language of overwhelming wonderment and madness that I was experiencing in the late ‘90s. Whereas Lawn boy and Junta were great works, Rift felt like a great work that was meant for ME! (said the egomaniac) I could go on, but why-oh-why-oh-weigh…

4.) HOIST – Another one that spoke to me more than it needed to due to the heartbreak and love I was experiencing at the time, but also just one of the coolest jam-band-trying-on-a-new-hat straight ahead rock albums I’ve ever known. Julius, Down w/Disease and Sample had me playing out music videos in my head with their user friendly yet clever lyrical work and air guitar inducing bridges. I’d tell the girl who did it to me that Sample may have saved my life; If I could, I would.

5.) FARMHOUSE – We’re getting into the heart of the lineup now and it’s hard to choose without feeling like I’m wronging another loved work. But Farmhouse came along after I started touring (right about when Billy Breaths dropped) and was such a relief after Ghost (which was my first release experienced as a fully trained padawan in the phandom. A few random thoughts aside from the obvious beautiful instrumental and sing-along lyrical work. Track 1-12, not a discordant offering in the list. Some hauntingly sweet ballads in Dirt and Sleep. When they were fleshing these tracks out live we didn’t know all the names yet and I remember jotting down First Tube as “holy god, coolest thing ever” then I started rambling into a stream of conscious thing; must have been a mushroom thing…ok, clocks ticking so we gotta jibbo this thing.

6.) NECTAR – I mean; Tweezer/Tweeprise man; no words – should have sent a critic!

7.) BILLY BREATHES – It deserves far better than 7 I know. Just, as a complete experience a little too much soft, not enough pop – but I concede this is purely a taste thing.

8.) GHOST – Guyute for obvious reasons, Velvet Sea makes me weep, Moma is so funky I smell my shirt sometimes – but three standouts does not a top-fiver make.

9.) ROUND ROOM – ah yes, the Fredo Corleone of this subset – I have a guilty-pleasure affection for the Title Track and Mexican Cousin, and while not equal in any way to the triumph that is WTC; Seven Below and 46 Days are at least legit Phish songs. The remaining licks are as close as these guys ever get to garbage – which is meant more complimentary than it sounds.

Sweet Jeebus that was fun, now off to find my CD player.

Cause and Effectiveness – a poem by me

No matter how foolish nor noble the casus belli,
I sincerely express nothing but honor and thankfulness
For the brave men and women, past and present;
Who have given their last full measure of devotion
To our once and future Great Republic…

Many men, women, and friends in my life have served,
And thankfully only a few have fallen
So I honor their memory, this last Monday of May
But there are countless others not so fortunate

And to you, in my larger sphere of contact
That have lost closer souls in your lives;
I wish to express my spirit of shared fondness
And sorrow, for the absence you may feel on this occasion

I pray we someday rise as a nation to make these sacrifices unnecessary
But for the present I ask us all to consider –
To not only meditate on the courage of the fallen, but for the suffering
Of soldiers and family, that our Republic’s leaders are causing

Promising to care for the bodies and minds
Of our boys and girls who make it home
Then failing to deliver so completely
Is a stain on their glory, their sacrifice, their devotion –

A dereliction of decency, made worse by shrouding the failure
With a plague of yellow ribbons
For freedom is not free – I concede,
But neither is a repaired life or limb – for a family fractured

By the wicked greed of wealthy men,
And the corruption that controls them

Haiku #2

Om Hari, my Lord
Remove my burden of self
And Frozen Soundtrack

“a good start”

– my maiden voyage into modern Haiku journaling

Awoke early, bathed
Gave thanks to Lord Ganesha
Then forgot Oil Change

Belief I’m getting better

– April 25, 2014

OM Sri Mahaganapati, Omnipotent and Supreme Lord; Muktidaya, Bestower of Eternal Bliss; Nandana, Lord Shiva’s Son; Sarvasiddhanta, Bestower of Skills and Wisdom; Vighnarta, Demolosher of Obstacles; Namo Namaha

After an eleven day period of positive progress, walking in God’s will and light. I struggled over the past few days with depression, doubt, fear and anxiety.

I was not able to bring myself before God in prayer, and I knew I was walking in my will, obsession over selfish thought and self-seeking behavior. Even my interaction with my fellows was not as kind and helpful as it should have been.

All these, I recognized, as early warning signs of relapse; though by the grace of God I did not.

Instead, I asked God for patience, and sustainment of my faith and knowledge that this despair would pass; as it has before.

I called my sponsor and shared with him an example of my self-will resulting in perspective defeat.

I went to a meeting, and though I was not moved, as is usually the case, I knew it was where my God wanted me to be.

I recognized the selfish acts I had begun to wallow in; eating emotionally, self-pity, anxious worry over things I had no control over.

And then, after a retrospectively-brief 48 hour period, my shroud was lifted.

God is granting me the wisdom to pray my way out of these bouts with disease. I turned finally to commune with God despite my fear, and asked for the obstacle of self-thought and self-seeking to be removed.

My prayer heard and answered, I went out into the world, again today; feeling his presence all around me, my thought-life placed on a much higher plane as my thinking was now clear of wrong motives.

I honestly can say this with no sense of pride, and in complete humility; as I know it is my Lord who persevered through this struggle, not me…

Shuklambara Dharam Vishnum
Shashivarnam Chatur Bhujam
Prasanna Vadanam Dhyayet
Sarva Vignopa Santaye

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti

Life can be better than merely good.

Hello and thank you for your interest, I am honored that you have visited my public declaration place…

This is my sounding board, a place where I can materialize my thoughts and reflections – nothing more than that, however any comments you may have are completely welcome.

General disclaimer: the following are paraphrased thoughts that I have meditated on and come from various literary sources, the AA Big Book, several Vedic Scriptures and personal discussion with other like-minded people walking in God’s path.

No citations will be provided other than this disclaimer, as my intent is simply to publicly announce what I have learned, not to gain anything from this exercise.

OM Namaskar-

Things I have been taught as I have been drawn closer to my higher power – The Omnipresent Creator – The unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world which cannot be defined, and is pure consciousness – the identity of the true Self
– Lord Brahman

Regardless of sect, tradition or culture; any one human’s, interpretation of the Lord is totally and gloriously irrelevant.

Acknowledgement of Him, faith that She can be communicated with, and good works in His name – are all that’s required for a more peaceful and meaningful existence:

Truths I have come to be mindful of…

1.) God is ALL; in us, around us, all of time, all of space, all matter – nothing is outside of Her presence.
2.) Poisonous substance and thought (despair, selfishness, alcohol) sever our connection to God, the source of our serenity.
3.) Faith that our communion with GOD is righteous, and humble demonstration in that principal completes our faith. Faith and demonstration are therefore inseparable.
4.) Wisdom will come only when we demonstrate our faith with humility.
5.) The true and righteous path is not as difficult to adhere too as we tend to make it.

Continuous contact with a higher power can change our perceptions of the world. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at tend to change.

In this way; difficulties can become challenges to surmount, and build wisdom upon, if only we can remember to ask for help to perceive them in this way.

If we try to live a life in service to others, we will find the peace we previously found so elusive – we simply do not have to do this alone anymore. We certainly do not need to walk through this existence in an inebriated state to cope with it.

Our wits numbed, making it impossible to seek something better.

We should not settle for feeling good, when GREAT is so freely available in contact with a higher power.

OM, Shanti – peace be with you!


Playoffs!!! Playoffs??? Are you kidding me?

Holy Shit-

My Dark Side must have sensed that I was trying to get serious about shaking it because it threw the book at me this weekend: I have a moderate bi-polar disorder diagnosis and Friday night I went to a real low trough, that stayed with me until Sunday evening till it pulled a 180 and went up to a state of powerful manic frenzy capped by a full blown panic attack by 9 pm.

All supercharged versions of my classic triggers to use.

Basic play calling, but throwing out the starters for the filthiest dirty players on the squad – not as fundamentally talented but better at breaking kneecaps and ringing bells.

The bad guys were just playing to hurt – not to win – because that’s all they need – their side doesn’t have to run up the score, they just have to fuck me up enough till I call in the “medic” – who we all know is on the take from the GM of the Dark Side Boozers – they have the easier goal.

The home team simply doesn’t have that option – it’s not on their roster. They’re hands are tied by the rules of the game.

Sometimes the system works, the Saints won on Sunday – it was a real close, low-scoring, trench-fight-style slog, but we pulled it out at the wire.

I’ve got to give it up to the crowd – they really helped rally my guys – and my GM, the Big Guy up in the booth clearly knows what He’s doing – He had the right guys on the field; He’d seen the tapes – made good matchup calls.

Ultimately, though it was the team effort that it always comes down to that made the difference.

Good win everyone, celebrate tonight ‘cause you earned it – but come back Tuesday fresh and let’s get ready for next week… ~/~

Thank you and be well!

Admiting when I am wrong… My decision to give AA a chance – an Essay:

Hello, and thank you for your interest! Again, as a general disclaimer these posts are simply for my own processing, if they help others – wonderful – but it is never my intention to show malice or offend Christians, Capitalists, Conservatives or any other group. All are welcome at this forum in mutually respectful discussion.

That being said:
I can see I’m going to need to get comfy with admitting when I am wrong… no small feat for your humble author.

I am a week into my outpatient rehabilitation and recovery. To my astonishment, I am finding this process quite enjoyable, not at all centered in my previously stated perceptions of self-hate and cross-bearing guilt.

Indeed, it seems the basis for addiction recovery is not perpetual self-scorn at poor choices, habits and anectdotal embarrassments; but instead bolstering that at which you are accomplished, aspects of one’s life that we can control and do so well. Seemingly this is to shore-up our mental jetties against the relentlessly crashing waves of specific cravings, general desires and false needs for one’s substance of escape.

This results in realizing our confidence and contentment when sober, clear-minded and honest with ourselves as well as those we interact with; hence the purpose of these posts.

My aim is accountability, insurance by social media publication and risk of public (albeit not too widely distributed and known) humiliation. Nevertheless I find the risks of this quite pleasurable – perhaps a new avenue for the destructive thrill-seeking of my dark past (more at 11 on that).

In this process you are taught to be proud of yourself though not boastful, confident but not narcissistic, strong yet not dominant. Seeking consistent balance through fellowship with people who understand this affliction, and are continuing to live with it with varying degrees of success and longevity; no one is in a position to judge harshly so no one feels blamed – scrutinized unfairly, but understood – cared for fondly.

I see in this; shades of the efficiency, precision and balance I was seeking in my life through a free-thinking, scientifically non-exclusive return to a God and faith of my understanding. Also, that I can approach this interpretation of spirituality with earnestness – a cosmic, unknowable intelligence and consciousness – in which our relatively newborn species is able to conceive of only in some small way; through prophets, avatars, saints, deities and other holy women and men.

Where mere months ago I would have considered myself an enlightened curmudgeon – a progressive pessimist; I now find that I can see the creeping of an optimist’s purview of purpose and fulfillment in common or difficult tasks that caused measurable resentment before.

From the mundane: Home Cleaning; is this not a service to my family and their subconscious sense of well-being, living in a more healthy environment? (Brought to you by Swiffer, Clorox and Dow Chemical)

To the comparably significant: Childcare; is this not a positive and furthermore obligatory opportunity to love, teach and gain insight when interacting with my offspring, no matter how frustrating. They are, after all, my only genetic and likely most impactful contribution and influence on this planet – and to our species – made real by impossibly complicated and intelligently evolved sexual reproduction.

Are my best years actually in front of me? For the first time in my relatively short life, I believe they may be.

If I can remain an asset to the brothers and sisters, parents and children, strangers and friends, institutions and authorities; within my sphere of influence, instead of the liability I had become when I indulged in the havoc of my darker angels. ~/~

Thank you, and be well-

My Call to Hinduism and living the eternal way: An Essay

This is only intended to satisfy my compulsion to share my joy and publicly proclaim my newfound faith – never to offend.

I consider myself a good natured man, all comments, even questioning or debate-y (?) ones, are welcomed – many of you I consider close friends who helped, even in some small way, to develop your humble writer into the man he is proud to be today – but if your comments are fueled by anger and hostility I respectfully ask you to consider if sharing this social platform with me is even worth your time…

My Essay:

After years of addiction, serious mental health issues and proclaimed atheism, I decided that I simply didn’t want my life so violently interrupted by cyclical bouts of anger, mania, depression, existential hopelessness, and subsequent turn to numbness from all; by excessive drink – followed by apology, promises and further despair when I could honor neither.

While I truly enjoy moderate alcohol consumption for its flavor, culinary and social culture and legitimate anxiety relief; I far too often would lose control, lose consciousness and make a fool of myself. The older I got the more this became the norm more than the exception. Indeed, I envy those of you who can enjoy responsibly!

Although I honestly believe not directly causal – my determination for sobriety coincided with a strong pull back to a power higher than myself. Though I knew AA would never work for me (though the former is a borrowed phrase) as I have always had an aversion to that culture of perpetual self-hate and its reliance on western/Christian guidance for morality and strength.

I had studied ancient civilizations and their subsequent religious affiliation for years – the evolution of modern humans, anthropology, classical antiquity and early through pre-20th century eastern society – all amateur-level interests of mine. I was fascinated by it and took great pleasure in consuming books, journal articles, films and podcasts about these eras in our species’ collective history.

Which is why I believe, it felt SO natural when I began feeling a calling toward Hinduism – and why I adopted, adapted and indoctrinated it into my life so quickly. The more I studied and gained some modicum of understanding of the principals in these beautiful and ancient traditions, the more I felt  – what I could only describe as – a divinely intended embrace of them. I was easily memorizing, comprehending and praying with Vedic and Upanishads verse and psalm with complete earnestness and devotion, within weeks of my studies.

The daily mantra chanting – prayer and household rituals began as a practice of experiment and exploration. Quickly thereafter, the practices flooded into my mind and soul; washing away my pretentious liberal notions that educated people like myself knew for certain that there was no possibility of an undefined deity existent in all the universe. That no degree of intelligent, omnipotent, and unknowable power initiating the creation of the universe in one evidently – inconceivably – gargantuan explosion of uncountable amounts of matter – the likes of which the greatest minds of humankind has yet to even begin to fully understand the workings of…

I took heart in this surprising development in an analogy.

It seemed that, like a dried leaf that had been so very desiccated for so very long, my decade-plus static-yet-destructive state of privilege and selfish wickedness was transformed.

Now that I was finally being willing to receive rain from an unknowable (at least to a simple leaf) power from the sky – I soaked up the new knowledge with such thirst, allowing the leaf to regenerate so completely different over such a small amount of time.

How these rites, beliefs and teachings meshed so perfectly with my existing, long developed and honed axioms about physics, the scientific method, social justice and liberal progressivism.

Concurrently the modern interpretation and teachings in the traditions of Santana Dharma seemed to me to hold – with equal disdain – dissuasion for the greed, income inequality, and subjugation consistent with modern western conservative power brokers.

Even more evident then, was my sorrow for the latter’s exploitation of the working poor in my wealthy, democratic homeland, and the developing world’s population that they influence.

Through their untruthful pandering to the Christian base on a host of purposefully misinterpreted issues, keep themselves in power with votes – while their corporate handlers financed their campaigns for those votes. The root cause of the 1000 year old corruption of the Christian church; wielding power over the tax-paying masses with threats of a divine – rather than peaceful and prophetic teacher, healer and son of God – whose divine Father/dualistic self would damn one’s soul for all of eternity if you did not adhere to the social structure of the time; to keep you and your family in impoverished illness – while any gains were quickly confiscated by tithes, rents, and taxes.

In these teachings I gained reinforcement – that the need to keep oneself feed, educated and healthy with the state only nominally providing essential services for their supportive citizens, seemed ever more a betrayal of the natural evolution of the social contracts which formed our modern western culture.

Earlier I mentioned a strong fascination with human evolution toward ancient-yet comparatively modern civilizations. More specifically, I wondered why these societies were so technologically advanced, considering where we are now. For just one example; the Romans, even prior to their imperium, had a massive and efficient infrastructure that included roads, walls, fortifications, still-standing bridges, water delivery and indoor plumbing; all this crisscrossed large portions of three continents – this was almost 2500 years ago. By 1830’s CE, even the comparable wealth-classes in Great Brittan, western continental Europe and the US didn’t have many of these amenities domestically – never mind the rest of the planet, where once thriving cultures were by then heavily shackled by the yolk of Christian-fueled-and financed-colonialism. Why weren’t we further along, especially considering the Western world’s domination of what would later become know and the 3rd world, the global south, and the near and far East?

My conclusion is simply that we lost our universally held believe that compassion for the welfare of one another is to be honored above all else. That as well as somewhere in an unknowable universe, is also within each brother, sister and child of our global family – a soul that is in part a literal fragment of the divine and as such is worthy of love, compassion, devotion and good will… that these kindnesses are dutiful not only to our global organism but are also, perhaps primarily, a good Karma in God’s name. In my opinion – THIS action, tolerance, and love is not merely charity but worship.

This simple principal, found in most religious traditions, is practiced and culturally indoctrinated by far too few. Sadly, most monotheistic-based societies reject the inclusion of non-believers and have-nots as unworthy of consideration; let alone salvation, let alone compassion.

The result of my transition was that an eastern philosophy better serves our species as a whole than a western one – and that socialism, pluralism, tolerance an allowance for a merging of deism with scientific pursuit are not political taboos or misplaced mystic fantasies. Indeed, it is absolutely imperative that we adopt all of them, on a global scale, if we hope for our progeny to inherit the planet and our collective society in another 1000 years – the alternative is extinction if nothing changes – and it makes me weep for humankind. ~/~

Thank you, and be well-