“No Eden valid without serpent.“ Novelist Wallace Stegner wrote that pithy riff. I think it’s a good motto for you to use in the immediate future. How do you interpret it? Here’s what I think. As you nourish your robust vision of paradise-on-earth, and as you carry out the practical actions that enable you to manifest that vision, it’s wise to have some creative irritant in the midst of it. That bug, that question, that tantalizing mystery is the key to keeping you honest and discerning. It gives credibility and gravitas to your idealistic striving.
In my mid-twenties a friend told me about this guy who had been huge in the ’60s then vanished but had just released a comeback album. It was strange and industrial and difficult, he said. He gave me a C90 with Tilt on side B.
Some people have that one band or artist who comes to them in adulthood and changes how they think about music, Scott Walker was mine.
Experimental music can be dry & academic, explorations of form, structure or production, it can be focused on noise, or methods, or on making you dance to unexpected sounds. While many of the ideas interested me, nothing seemed fully engaging until Tilt.
Scott Walker showed me that avant garde music, sonic art and engaging emotional content can be brought together to make satisfying and challenging songs that need only to make their own kind of internal sense. His work showed me that music can be made expressing how senseless, confusing and painful life is, while being satisfying, oddly affirming, funny, serious and, best of all, enjoyable.
I’ve continually returned to Scott’s work partly as a touchstone of personal freedom, but mainly just for the sheer satisfaction of it.
Thanks Scott. That there will be no more new music from you makes me very sad.
Buried underneath a brick warehouse, and near another that had been into upscale shopping was an enormous spherical chamber made entirely of the heavy industrial steel of a bygone era. Two hemispherical sections were joined at their collars by giant bolts. Inside the five-story space was a structure of tanks and piping held aloft by four stone pillars which bore a vague resemblance to the legs and feet of an elephant, ten times normal size. The pillars disappeared into dark water at the bottom of the enormous tank while a cluster of four large pipes at the top bent at an L junction before running straight to the roof, where the steam they once carried fed an engine, long since absent.
I was inside the Dunvluddich Furnace, a kind of giant boiler. It was named for its creator, Abraham Dunvluddich, who was a Lithuanian American magician and scientist. He was…
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): I’m about to say things that sound extraordinary. And it’s possible that they are in fact a bit overblown. But even if that’s the case, I trust that there is a core of truth in them. So rejoice in their oracular radiance. First, if you have been hoping for a miracle cure, the next four weeks will be a time when you’re more likely than usual to find it or generate it. Second, if you have fantasized about getting help to address a seemingly irremediable problem, asking aggressively for that help now will lead to at least a partial fix. Third, if you have wondered whether you could ever retrieve a lost or missing part of your soul, the odds are more in your favor than they’ve been in a long time.
Self-Discipline: Get better at ignoring the negative voice in your head. Get out of your bed. Go to the gym. Don’t listen to “I don’t want to.”
Personal Effectiveness: Learn how to maximize the results you can get during the 16–18 hours you’re awake. Get more done — effectively.
Communication: We think we’re all master communicators. But the truth is that we suck. Communication is both art and science. And our ability to work with others depends on it.
Negotiation: You negotiate all the time. With your spouse, kids, parents, teachers, friends, co-workers, managers, etc. Learn to get the best deal for all parties.
Persuasion: Learn how to get what you want in an ethical way.
Physical Strength & Stamina: Getting stronger is a skill. Pull your own weight. It’s something every human should be able to do.
Flexibility: Sitting all day long behind your computer or in your car turns you into a stiff being. Learn how to stretch your hips, lower back, hamstrings, and calves — the most common weak points of desk workers.
That’s enough to keep you busy for a lifetime if you want to do it well. Pick a skill that excites you. Get better at it. Then, pick another. And keep on repeating that process.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): At one point in his career, the mythical Greek hero Hercules was compelled to carry out a series of twelve strenuous labors. Many of them were glamorous adventures: engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a monstrous lion; liberating the god Prometheus, who’d been so kind to humans, from being tortured by an eagle; and visiting a magical orchard to procure golden apples that conferred immortality when eaten. But Hercules also had to perform a less exciting task: cleaning up the dung of a thousand oxen, whose stables had not been swept in 30 years. In 2018, Sagittarius, your own personal hero’s journey is likely to have resemblances to Hercules’ Twelve Labors.
I had a dream the other night, Tuesday I think, where I’d been invited to play with some significant folks and my bass playing was woeful.
People, audience members, friends, would come up to me and talk briefly, with circumspection, with sadness in their eyes. And I continued to play blithely ignorant to how poor every aspect of my performance was. I was not invited back.