26 July, 2009

When God Gets The Blues

Birthing a God

If ever there was a guitarist that needs no introduction, a guitarist whose name implies legend, a guitarist whose licks are recognizable to the uninitiated - it would be Jimi Hendrix, who turned the guitar world (literally, during some of his solos) upside-down. But do you know who even the revolutionary Jimi Hendrix idolized? His contemporary and leader of the hit supergroup Cream, Eric Clapton - who, even among the slew of guitar gods arising out of the heady generation of the 60's, earned the illustrious, and potentially sacrilegious, title of "God" among his most obsessed fans (usurping his more modest nickname of "Slowhand"). Now, I've listened to enough guitarists with amazing talent to realize that there's just no point in arguing who's the best (because clearly, nobody will ever beat Roy Buchanan), but, unlike many of his contemporaries, Eric Clapton possesses a good supply of talent, fame, *and* longevity, for which he deserves recognition. And he's had his share of misery, too. You see, even God gets the blues from time to time.

Eric Clapton first made a name for himself in The Yardbirds, the premium guitar supergroup of the 1960's British blues scene. When he left the band to pursue a straighter blues outfit, he was first replaced by one Jeff Beck, and later by Jimmy Page, who retooled the band towards the end of the decade and birthed Led Zeppelin (a band that itself needs no introduction). Meanwhile, Clapton stepped into position as guitarist for the Bluesbreakers, a band that was John Mayall's pet project, and which also scouted some amazing guitar talent through the years - including, among too many to list here, Mick Taylor, who later played lead guitar for the Rolling Stones (self-proscribed Greatest Rock 'N' Roll Band in the World) during their most prolific period.

Members of the Bluesbreakers have a habit of breaking off and forming their own (in some cases, even more popular) bands (such as when Peter Green split with [Mick] Fleetwood and [John] Mc[Vie] to form the original bluesy incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, which would struggle for almost a decade before finally becoming famous), and so, after recording a landmark album in the British blues scene (simply titled Blues Breakers; also known as the "the Beano album", thanks to the comic Clapton is seen reading on the album's cover), Eric Clapton recruited former Bluesbreaker bass player Jack Bruce, and with Ginger Baker on drums, launched the most popular and revered band of Clapton's career - Cream. The band was short-lived, but it made its everlasting mark with staple radio hits like White Room and Sunshine of Your Love - hits you undoubtedly still hear on any self-respecting rock station even today.

In the aftermath of Cream, despite Clapton's lucrative solo career, there is little of singular recognition that stands up to his previous rise to rock stardom. Blind Faith was another go at creating a supergroup, this time recruiting Steve Winwood, well known member of Traffic, but it folded even quicker than Cream, and with less lasting critical acclaim. But following that was the shining exception to Clapton's decades long post-Cream fizzle - a motley band of traveling musicians who called themselves Derek and the Dominos. They released one album in 1970, Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (with beloved Allman Brothers Band slide guitarist Duane Allman filling out the sound), which was not-so-inconspicuously Eric Clapton's passionate declaration of his unrequited love for best friend (and Beatle) George Harrison's wife Patti Boyd (whom Clapton would eventually go on to marry, and subsequently divorce). In this humble rock fan's opinion, Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs is one of the pinnacle albums in modern musical history - and has the paradoxical distinction of being a great listen whether alone and miserable *or* with intimate company - in other words, you can play it on Valentine's Day regardless of whether or not you have a date. ;)

Unrequited love, heroin addiction, adultery, the deaths of close musical companions; despite Clapton's fame and musical success, he has had his share of demons, and does not play the blues in name alone. In fact, Jimi himself once said, "the more money you make, the more blues, sometimes, you can sing." The blues has been a lasting cornerstone of Clapton's legacy, evident in his 1994 solo album From The Cradle, his teamup with King of the Blues B.B. King in 2000's Riding With The King, and his 2004 tribute to the legendary folk bluesman Robert Johnson (titled Me And Mr. Johnson), the man who was alleged to have traded his soul to the devil at a certain country crossroads in Mississippi. Not forsaking his own legacy as a world-renowned guitar legend, nor his battle with drug addiction, Eric Clapton founded the Crossroads Guitar Festival in recent years as a benefit for his Crossroads Centre drug treatment resort in Antigua.

Live in the 70's

One of the best collections of blues/rock tracks I own is Eric Clapton's Crossroads 2: Live in the 70's box set, featuring four discs of outstanding - you guessed it - live material from the 70's. Depending on perspective, life experience, musical tastes, etc., I could foresee a listener describing the tracks on this box set as lazy, sloppy, unpolished, and similar adjectives, but here's the real truth: Crossroads 2 features some of the most passionate, feverish, downright depressed blueswailing I've had the pleasure of hearing. Many of the songs are slowed down from their smoother studio counterparts (which may not be a good thing for rock, but works excellently for the blues), and the vocals are grittier and less dynamic - in place of elegance, what we have here is pure, unrefined *feeling*. And with the blues, that's the most important quality.

So recently I decided, on a whim, to trim those four discs down to a single slim disc of the best tracks - for ease in traveling, for digging into when you don't have time for hours of listening, and just for plain old fun. It was not easy. Crossroads 2: Live in the 70's honestly has at least 3 discs worth of top notch material - it's just that good. So trimming it down to a single disc ended up being a painful challenge. But I succeeded. However, based on the tracks I had to leave out - including the (perhaps) best track in the set, which is a 24 minute jam with Carlos Santana (simply too long for a single disc compilation culled from this much material) - I had to concede the "best tracks" theme, and decided to go with more of a "cross-section" theme, which also conveniently alludes to the original title of "crossroads". Rest assured, each of the four discs is represented here by no less than one, and no more than three tracks.

Here is the resultant tracklist:

1. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
2. Little Wing
3. Layla
4. Tell The Truth
5. Stormy Monday
6. Goin' Down Slow/Rambling On My Mind
7. Wonderful Tonight
8. Double Trouble

You might notice a healthy contribution (the first half) of songs that appear on the Layla album - this is not necessarily intentional but merely a testament to the quality of those songs. Other songs include some excellent blues standards, and there's even a refreshing version of Clapton's pop ballad Wonderful Tonight (which, I assure you, is not as out of place in this collection as you might expect). Let us now take a look at each of the individual tracks that made the cut, and explore just a little bit of their history and why these versions are worth listening to...

The Songs

Have You Ever Loved A Woman [from Disc 1]

Nowhere else is Freddie King's influence on Clapton's playing style more apparent than in this soulful blues cover, recorded previously by Freddie himself, and covered by Clapton on the Layla album. Freddie King, known as the Texas Cannonball, had an immaculate combination of skill as a blues singer and axe wielder, and I recommend his music to anyone who enjoys Clapton's more soulful and cutting blues tracks. The song, Have You Ever Loved A Woman, fit Clapton's situation eerily well at the time of its recording for Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, with lyrics that run, "have you ever loved a woman so much, you tremble in pain; all the time you know, she bears another man's name; but you just love that woman so much, it's a shame and a sin; all the time you know, she belongs to your very best friend." The live version here opens the compilation strongly, with some very piercing blues licks, and sets the depressed tone for the rest of the disc.

Little Wing [from Disc 1]

Little Wing is a gorgeous little number that Jimi Hendrix (honestly, I hadn't *intended* on his name coming up this many times - but that just goes to show :p) recorded for the Experience's second album Axis: Bold As Love. Beautiful as it was to begin with, it's been covered over the years, famously in an extended instrumental version by Stevie Ray Vaughan. But even before that, Eric Clapton recorded his own cover, in a unique arrangement, also for the Layla album. In this version, the "pretty" and "virtuoso" angle is tossed aside in favor of a harder, driving energy, which suits the depression theme of this particular compilation better. This live version is a bit subdued, but it transmits that sort of dragging feeling you get when you're in the doldrums.

Layla [from Disc 2]

Layla is, quite obviously, the title track from the Layla album, and the one song from that album that manages to sum up the album quite well, encompassing the theme of unrequited love ("please don't say we'll never find a way, and tell me all my love's in vain"), accompanied by searing rock riffage and emotionally strained vocals, followed by a soothing coda that offers some semblance of solace, and is thus the primary track picked and played on radios everywhere, as if to represent the whole album at once (which necessarily neglects the rest of the album's treasures). The live version here sadistically strips away any chance the listener might have at finding solace, by cutting the coda completely out - cruel, to be sure, but suitably conforming to the theme.

Tell The Truth [from Disc 3]

Tell The Truth, yet another song from the Layla album, is the sole track that offers some respite from the depressed mood of this compilation. It features a funky upbeat groove, with slide accompaniment, a catchy vocal line, and an extended jam outro. My advice would be to enjoy it fully before diving back into the down-trodden blues of the second half...

Stormy Monday [from Disc 3]

Stormy Monday is a good classic blues, that's been covered by just about anyone that plays blues seriously, and as a song separate from the specific musicians that play it, is one of my top favorite blues of all time. Originally an old T-Bone Walker tune, one of my favorite performances is the Allman Brothers Band's laidback performance on their acclaimed "At Fillmore East" live album (recorded in 1971). Clapton's version of it here does not disappoint, with a nice long 13 minute runtime, giving this slow blues enough time to settle in, with plenty of stormy licks punctuating throughout.

Goin' Down Slow/Rambling On My Mind [from Disc 3]

Goin' Down Slow (credited to St. Louis Jimmy Oden) is another one of my favorite blues, and another one that's covered often, which seems to tell the story of a man with a terminal condition facing his inevitable demise, while looking back and coming to terms with his lot in life. It's accompanied here in medley form by a song titled Rambling On My Mind, from Robert Johnson's catalogue, which was previously recorded by Clapton (with John Mayall) on that seminal British blues album of the 60's - Blues Breakers. Together, these two songs combine to form a long blues jam with a dynamic energy that periodically flows into crashing crescendos at various points along the journey.

Wonderful Tonight [from Disc 4]

If you're a Clapton fan, you undoubtedly know this song. It's not really a blues, it's more of a pop ballad. I like it - it's a very romantic song. But, since it lacks the punch of rock, or the pathos of the blues, it has, to me, become fairly stale over innumerable listens (considering that, being popular, it also tends to get a lot of radio play). However, I promised that the song wasn't the non sequitur in this compilation one would think it to be, and I stand by that. This live version slows the song (which was already slow to begin with) down a bit; the unsterilized live guitar licks give it a little extra punch; and, true to the majority of the songs on this live set, the vocals and the energy of the song are deflated in the way that gives it a much more reflective, nostalgic sort of atmosphere: where the song was originally a happy romantic ballad, this version is more like the kind of pining you do in your room alone after a terrible breakup, remembering the better times that have come and are now gone...

Double Trouble [from Disc 4]

Finishing up the compilation is another searing blues, this time yet another of my favorites (although this is really not surprising, considering that I'm the one who handpicked these tracks :p). Double Trouble is not only one of the tracks by the great Otis Rush (recommended if you're looking for classic electric blues), but it also inspired the name of Stevie Ray Vaughan's backing band in the 80's. Here Eric Clapton does great justice to this worried blues, extending it to over ten minutes, and filling it with the fevered playing that characterizes this compilation, the box set in general, and Clapton's own bluesy style at large.

And there you have it. Despite all the tracks I had to cull (and believe me, choosing from the various medleys that included 3 or 4 of the same songs in various combinations was not easy), I feel that this is a very strong compilation. Other compilers may certainly have personal interests in other tracks, but for me, with this, I am indeed happy.

To conclude, there are many aspects of Eric Clapton's life and career that are beyond the scope of my discussion here, perhaps even of my interest - but from the perspective of the blues, I feel I have covered the basics. Perhaps not unlike a Guardian Angel that is frequently ignored, but stands ceaselessly by just the same, Eric Clapton, despite his reputation, may not be unilaterally hailed as the end-all be-all of guitar stardom (depending on who you talk to), but his musical output is impossible to ignore, and his influence (and his continuing respect for his influences) is pervasive and wide-ranging, and though other shooting stars have come and gone and made themselves known, sometimes in what seems as short as the blink of an eye, Clapton endures, and for the time being, he remains, inarguably, a living legend (if not quite a God).

Author's Background: Raised on classic rock via his parents' stereo, the author discovered the healing power of the blues while DJing a radio show in college. His enduring interest in the searing tone of an electrified guitar has propagated from eardrums to fingertips, and manifests itself regularly in the warm, loving embrace of a sexy guitar.

20 July, 2009

So I have this weird problem with what I guess you would call my sinuses, that happens to be happening at this very moment. I don't have any kind of concrete evidence to prove that correlation implies causation, but the problem frequently occurs during those times when, while sitting at my computer, I am in a more social mindset than others. For example, times when I am in a less social mindset typically include watching movies, reading articles, generally surfing the net (though this depends heavily on what kind of surfing I'm doing), looking at images, generally solitary things of that sort. And while I'm not ever *really* social in the strict sense of the term, there are other activities that are closer approximations to being in a social mindset - these include chatting on IM (albeit only ever with one person), posting or even just reading posts on message board forums, and also typing up blog posts and rants and whatnot - since in those cases, even though the writing activity itself is solitary, it involves positing myself in a situation of addressing my concerns (coming from within) to an outside receiver (whether or not it involves an immediate audience of transient beings).

You might notice, as I do, that those "social" activities, aside from more or less involving interaction (if implied or indirect) with other persons, also involves words. Obviously, interactions with people are largely, near to the point of exclusion, based upon the transfer of words - especially in the electronic medium where simple presence, and things like looks and touches are rendered meaningless - so I cannot determine if the source of my problem lies with the interactions themselves, or the involvement of words - although my experiences *might* actually lean towards suggesting the latter. You might say, what effect can words possibly have on a person's sinuses - specifically when those words are being read or typed and not uttered - but the type of reader (and writer) I am, I actually formulate, physically, the words in my mouth when I read, and also even when I type (indeed, I am doing it right now). I do not need to open my mouth, nor utter the slightest vocalization, and my tongue doesn't even necessarily need to make the full motions associated with the words I peruse, but still, to some extent I form those words within, and thus in some way my throat may be stimulated.

What is the problem exactly? What are the symptoms? Excessive, spasmic coughing that leaves my throat dry and raspy; production of mucous, that causes wasteful (and of course annoying) usage of tissues. It's pathetic, really. And it leaves me feeling quite miserable and desiring much more to cease and desist whatever activities I am involved in to go lie down or do something less exacting on whatever faculties whose employment cause this problem rather than to forge ahead and complete the task at hand.

It's like God himself is consistently striking me down for actually trying to make some form of contact between my inner world and the outer one. You just don't realize the kind of things I have to struggle through just to be.

If there were no people...

It's not that I don't have the desire to go out into the world. But what keeps me holed up inside my protective shell is people, and my fear of them. Ignoring the fact that much of society would simply crumble and lose all meaning in the absence of people, it's interesting to speculate about how my activities would change if all of a sudden I was the only person on the face of the planet.

So what would it be like if I woke up one evening, and the world was conspicuously devoid of humanity?

To start with, I can draw from some actual experiences. Usually, when I wake up and head off to take a shower, I can hear the standard noises coming from downstairs that basically indicate that a person is there. Television, radio, oven beeping, sink flowing, footsteps going back and forth, or up and down stairs, coughing perhaps - indications of human presence. These sorts of things naturally make me very selfconscious, but I do my best to ignore them and go about my business (quietly). However, every once in awhile it'll be quiet - and this is rare - for one reason or another. I'm always more comfortable in those instances (assuming, that is, that the quietness presupposes an absence of presence and not a quiet or concealed (if not intentionally) presence - which actually has a tendency to increase my discomfort, with an absence of sound to mask my own presence underneath, and a concentration, if it were, on any minor breach of that quiet). Sometimes, and this is very rare, it'll be the case that "the one downstairs" is for some reason out and thus dealing with dinner is up to me. Ignoring the potential difficulties of procuring a meal (said difficulties mostly arise from considerations of having to come to an agreement with "the others" on the meal situation, which invariably involves communication, as well as the prospect of potentially having to interact with people in the outside world to procure said meal) - *without* these considerations, all that is left is the supreme comfort of eating at my leisure in what is an empty house. Selfconsciousness goes completely out the window and I can just relax and be myself (which is not at all possible in the usual presence of the standard others).

Anyway, the point of all this babbling on is that in a fundamental and permeating sense, I would be more relaxed and happier and less stressed out in my normal everyday goings on in the absence of people. This, indeed, is the primary motivation for my nocturnal lifestyle - at night, I don't have to worry about people buzzing around here and there, potentially moving in and out of my presence, constantly triggering my anxiety-laden defenses. But even at night there's the need to be relatively quiet to avoid waking others (I can't tell you the percentage of stress arising from the cat's incessant yowling that results from the fear of waking others and otherwise generally attracting attention to my doings, and not from the sheer fact that her loud shrieks are just plain grating to the ear, not to mention that their unrelenting quality simply gets annoying after the first few seconds). At any rate, the absence of people is even better than a nocturnal existence, not just because I enjoy the merits of day (and day has its merits), but also that I have no restrictions on making noise or fears of startling "the sleeping giant", as it were.

Next, the issue of going outside. Particularly in the warmer months, such as we are currently in the midst of, I many days have the desire to go out while the sun is still up and absorb the atmosphere of the air and environment at large. Most of these desires go unfulfilled, as I allow myself to be pulled into the solace and solitude of the myriad distractions so lovingly presented to me via my computer - distractions that do not employ any sort of interpersonal interaction, or even any threat of potential interpersonal interaction (leastwise not involving real faces and real voices in realtime). There are two main obstacles, otherwise, to my gaining access to the outside world. The first is the unknowing guardian who in no formal way bars my passage, but the very act of passing his notice acts as a psychological deterrent to that very passage. I don't want to have to explain my paths or my intentions, and I don't want to have to suffer the unavoidable, if unfounded, mental shilly-shallying about foreign conjectures as to said paths and intentions, not to mention the imagined potential value judgements that could then be applied, and the myriad avenues of thought and action and judgement that those presume...

In addition to all that is the simple fact that, except in the relative emptiness of night (and under the cloak of darkness), *there are people out there, in the world*. And "people" is not something I have much desire to interact with. Surely, one can avoid interaction, but this is not an airtight solution. If one were to approach me, I would be even more disinclined to shrug them off (except in a polite and convenient manner if at all possible), than to provide for them nothing but the friendliest and most amicable front I can muster (which may or may not be saying much). However, even without interaction, or even threat of interaction, is the constant buzzing of imagined foreign perceptions. Even in the absence of people - provided that it is understood that there *are* people, just not noticeably within range. But in the knowing absence of people - where they are not just out of sight, out of mind, but actually completely and utterly out of the equation, all of the above neurosis is rendered completely nonexistent.

So, in the true absence of people, I would go outside a lot, and enjoy the weather. I would go for walks much more often, and in daylight. I would ride my bike places. I would practice guitar outdoors - which is very nice to do in the warm weather (I have done it but a few times, and never any farther than the back porch). I would go out and explore the world and what it has to offer, without the people buzz to frighten me. I would take my camera, and I would take many pictures of all kinds of beautiful scenes. One thing that causes me to fear carrying a camera around and doing the photographer thing in public is an extension of that selfconsciousness, and the fear of the possibility of my encroaching on another's sense of personal privacy. Whether pointing a camera at a person (even if it is just the general direction, or at a person way off in the distance) or even just at a person's house, or car, or table at a restaurant, or pet, or whatever else, I fear not only people's (inter)reactions, whether positive or (much worse) negative, but also the value judgements aforementioned. "Why is that person pointing that camera at that house." "Why is that person taking pictures of that." "What is that person thinking." "Is he dangerous." "Is he eccentric." Et cetera.

I think perhaps I have gotten my point across, if my language is a bit verbose and highly unpolished. But this is more akin to the sort of spontaneous thinking that goes on (constantly) in my head, minus the thinking over (and over thinking) that generally goes into presenting any of my ideas to an outside observer.

And, in closing, it is imperative that I mention that, barring a possible chemical solution I have yet to try, my neurosis is simply NOT A THING THAT CAN JUST BE "SWITCHED OFF" (i.e., "just stop thinking/worrying about it"). Thank you.

19 July, 2009

Nudity for the sake of nudity

I recently watched a film from the mid-70's titled Immoral Tales, which consists of four unconnected stories of carnal immorality, that basically amounts to softcore porn. In the first tale, a young man lures his all-too-willing cousin onto a rocky beach to impart a hands-on (or rather, mouth-on) lesson about the tidal force residing within the male genitalia. Note that none of these stories are filmed explicitly - though the second one comes pretty close. It is about a young virginal Christophile confined to her room, wherein she pleasures herself passionately to a combination of smutty literature and religious texts (to completely ignore the not insignificant contribution of the cucumber...). The third tale tells the story of Elizabeth Bathory - one of my personal favorite historical figures - who earned a reputation for her habit of bathing in the fresh blood of young virgins, believing it would restore her vitality. In this adaptation of the Blood Countess' legacy, there are copious amounts of naked flesh, but unlike the Bathory segment in Hostel: Part II, the violence is largely implied. The final debauched tale in this immoral collection recounts the incestuously orgiastic impulses of one Pope Alexander VI, interspersed with scenes of Friar Hyeronimus Savonarola speaking out against the Church's improprieties - that is, until he is seized and burned at the stake.

The reason I bring this up relates to the aforementioned copious amounts of naked flesh in the Bathory segment. Call me a freak, call me a pervert, call me a red-blooded male, but I derive considerable enjoyment out of seeing a bunch of attractive young women prancing around completely nude. I mean, it sounds like a pretty typical male fantasy right? So why is it so hard to find? Outside of hardcore porn at least. In mainstream films, if there is such a scene, it will usually involve extensive "modesty" either in the form of avoiding complete nudity or utilizing "shy" or "prudish" camera angles, and will generally not last for a significant length of time.

So how come it's so hard to find extensive unselfconscious nude scenes of that sort? At least outside of hardcore porn. I could sit for two hours and watch a bunch of young naked women doing, well, just about anything really. And as a matter of fact, I think the presence of an obvious sexual element could actually detract from the enjoyment of the nudity itself. I think this is another example of our culture's misguided confoundment about the distinction between nudity and sex.

And to preemptively counter a potential argument - "if it's not about sex, then why does it matter that the women are young and attractive?" - I have only to point out our culture's misguided confoundment about the distinction between sex and eroticism. Admittedly, it's a much more subtle distinction than that between nudity and sex, but I think it's important enough to warrant recognition.

15 July, 2009

I should stop watching so many movies...

Because it's getting to the point where I'm seeing the same faces in everything I watch. And it's starting to weird me out. There's this quirkily distinct actress named Jane Adams whom I had never seen before until I watched Happiness. Now, she's in like every other movie I watch. And then there's Kate Winslet, who was in Quills. Both of those actresses are in both Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and a little movie called Little Children. And that really threw me off... The latter movie also happened to have Patrick Wilson (who was also Nite Owl in the Watchmen movie), in another role to expand my knowledge of his work beyond what I knew of him in Hard Candy. And do you know who else was in Little Children? Jennifer Connelly, who was also in A Beautiful Mind. These are all movies I've watched recently. -_- It's like the acting pool dried up or something...

As for the minor roles, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine were both in Quills, and Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst were both in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So much for Johnny Cash, Austin Powers' father (I bet there are people who would kill me for knowing him primarily for that role), Frodo Baggins, and Mary Jane... Maybe I should just stick to those foreign films. >.>

11 July, 2009

Jodie Foster cosplays White Mage

I couldn't help but notice that the Moroccan dress Jodie Foster dons for much of the 1976 mystery/suspense/thriller The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane bears a striking resemblance to the iconic imagery of the white mage from the Final Fantasy franchise. Bearing in mind that the movie was released a full decade before the first Final Fantasy game, I think it's a pretty amusing coincidence. See for yourself:

See, she even has a scene where she gets to spar with what could only be described as a black mage! It's just too bad she never puts the hood up...

06 July, 2009

So I think it's down to the point that the only way I can foresee there being any hope for me, is to get some kind of help. Because, unless outside forces were to push me into places I don't want to be, I'm not going anywhere just by myself. The trouble is, wanting help and asking for help are two different things. Every single time I look up a different "help center" type website, something turns me off. Either it'll mention Jesus, or it'll be too streamlined ("Use This Ten Step Process And You'll Be Cured For Life! followed by a toothy, shit-eating grin"), or it'll just give me a bunch of information I already know. The paradox is, reading stuff isn't gonna help me - I need to talk to someone, but the last thing I want to do is talk to anyone.

It's the same problem it's always been. Getting help is the thing I'm most afraid to do. But no matter what I think about my projected future, if there is *any* chance of me accomplishing anything that'll give me a feeling of self-worth and satisfaction in my life (and there are things I would like to do), it can *only* be possible if I find some way around this anxiety thing. I think the more motivation I have, for the things I'd like to accomplish, the more I will be internally pushed towards crossing the uncrossable threshold.

There's an inner, spiritual if you will, part to me, and there's the concrete body. My inner part wants to move forward, but the concrete part is adamant in its position. If I could move forward inwardly only, like through my dreams, there wouldn't be a problem. But something's gotta make my body move. And I really don't think I have that power.

I just wish, of all the problems I have, talking to people wasn't one of them. Talking to people has the potential to solve any other problem. I guess people that are good at talking to people might envy a better ability to turn within themselves and analyze their problems from that perspective - something I am excessively good at doing. So maybe it's just a matter of my perspective vs. theirs. But still, I can't describe how much I wish I didn't have that problem.

God, it's like I'm so motivated to do something, but then I look at the site and it completely, utterly, inexorably turns me off... Like walking into a house fully ready to party and then noticing everybody else there is just a plastic doll.

04 July, 2009

Frozen in Time

Almost six years ago (according to my purchase history on Amazon.com), early in my second year at college, I remember holing myself up in the campus library (probably to get some privacy and escape the oppression of having a roommate I wasn't particularly chummy with) to do some research/homework/studying. I located myself in one of the isolated rooms off to either side on one of the lower floors, where I could close the door (though the room had large interior windows), and have the solitude I sought. I don't remember what I was working on then, but I had just received two albums which would have a massive impact on me, which I listened to through my headphones, playing on my portable discman.

Those two albums were Ten Years After's widely regarded 'Recorded Live' album, and a double shot of two Robin Trower albums on one disc - his third album 'For Earth Below', and the followup live album (simply titled 'Live'). It was my first formal introduction (though I had subconscious memories of Ten Years After's music which stirred within me while I listened to the songs on the album, via unremembered experiences from my childhood, considering that TYA has long been one of my dad's favorite rock bands) to two musical artists that would instantly become favorites.

And tonight, almost six years later, it would appear that little has changed, as I anxiously withdraw from the patriotic masturbation of the night's festivities, and hole myself up in my protective cocoon, though not completely separated from the ideological tyranny of society. I throw on my headphones (a rare act these days), to further retreat into my intellectual curiosities - perhaps the only thing that sustains me. By pure circumstance, the playing of a track (Slow Blues in 'C' - always one of my favorites) from the aforementioned 'Recorded Live' album on the blues radio stream I've been listening to regularly compels me to throw on those two albums in memoriam of that past experience I have here related. And so I listen, while studying "isolated minority syndrome"...

Fetish on Flickr

The more repressed and prudish members of Flickr tend to complain about the pornographic "element" on the site - those who use it for more sexual than artistic purposes (despite the presence of content filters). I, for one, though honestly not all that interested in pornography, as I am far more turned on by art, support the relative freedom of the site, intrinsically, as I am a freedom fighter and a hater of censorship and all that. But one thing that's vaguely interesting to do (if you've got the stomach), is to glance at random people's favorites - it can give you a pretty neat insight into a person's tastes. Ignoring the art lovers, since this is a post about porn, I have to say that the majority of people's sexual interests I see are rather unappealing to me. This is not surprising, as we're talking specific personal tastes here, but one overarching quality I can't help but notice is how grotesque and actually repulsive a lot of it is. I have a hard time imagining that people actually get off to this stuff. Granted, my own tastes aren't exactly normalized, but I like to think (at the risk of succumbing to elitism) they're at least "cleaner" than what I'm seeing. I suppose that's just part of who I am - and related to my interest in art over porn. I respond to beauty, not vulgarity...