Sunday, January 10, 2021

Apocalypse

One of my various names for the times were are now knee-deep in has been The Great Revealing. It’s a time where all secrets are freed from their dusty tombs and people show you who they truly are under the pretense and theatrical finery, under the barrier of comforting lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves. The narrative...the cover story...the resume that we push to the world outside ourselves while knowing deep down inside that we are all naked emperors.

To quote Wikipedia: “An apocalypse, (literally meaning "an uncovering") is a disclosure or revelation of great knowledge. In religious and occult concepts, an apocalypse usually discloses something very important that was hidden or provides what Bart Ehrman has termed, "A vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities".

Of course, such times are also generally accompanied by a fracturing of all the systems and assumptions that we hold dear. The solid ground we assumed was forever turns out to be as ephemeral as our most fleeting of nocturnal visions and, being creatures that crave certainty and something to believe in, we stagger from theory to theory and from leader to leader, hoping for some solid rock within the raging stream to cling to in our increasing panic.

It is said that if you want to see what a person is really like, make them angry. True enough for my liking, but I would extend that to make them sad, or frightened, or just really really tired. We are in those times where almost all are being tested, and a great many are being found wanting.

Those tests, sadly, are likely to continue and accelerate.

Some people are turning out to not be who we may have thought they were. It’s important to understand that this is who they ALWAYS were, on some level. The friend or family member who has embraced QAnon and issues forth a plethora of rationalizations for the redneck rampage at the capitol always had the embryo of that element slowing growing inside themselves...it only wanted for a trigger. They are the people who are okay with just about any injustice as long as THEIR interests are being served...and that was who they were all along...all along the largely untroubled years with their smiles and embraces and shared meals and pats on the back and consoling words for you when life wasn’t going your way.

Some are calling this an effect of “privilege” and I would say that that is a fair assessment, as they go. Having spent a fair amount of my early childhood years in a mixed-race working poor neighborhood in Detroit and then ascending the standard of living scale into the affluent suburbs, I have come to understand this effect in a way that not too many cranky middle-aged white men do...so injustice has always rankled. Frankly, I built an entire musical career around my sense of indignation at the unfairness and inequities of the world. So it’s sort of where I live.

I have encountered a great many people over the years who don’t know what they don’t know regarding these injustices...though many assume that they do (and I’m sure I have this failing myself to a degree, no matter how I try to monitor it)...but there is a willfulness about it these days and it is but one of a great many odious and ugly things flying out of the Pandora’s Box of our rapidly fracturing culture.

I have sparred with a fair amount of willfully (and otherwise) obtuse people of late, though I have tried to be increasingly less present in certain venues overall. I encounter the same patterns of thinking almost every time: the false equivalences and “whataboutisms” that saturate any polarized dialog between those of us trying to make a fair and just world for EVERYONE and those who would prefer it go in the opposite direction. If the arguments were not so rote and intellectually unsophisticated and full of snickering sophistry I’d be tempted to budge, as the dim shadow of my old acquiescent self wants to get along with pretty much everyone.

But I can’t...especially if the views are those that I find morally repugnant.

Like many others over the past four or so years, I have had to let an awful lot of people go. Most of these people I knew were of the ilk that would be willing to shoot me in cold blood if just the right circumstances occurred and just the right fantasies took hold of their fears and uncertainties. There HAVE been a few sad surprises though...and that sadness will likely never go away as I think of the times I spent with one person or another before the dark cloud of our collective consequences finally settled into the lower atmosphere of all of our day to day lives.

So I forgive...and I say goodbye (however harshly at times) with love in my heart and the understanding that on a more rarefied level of being, I suspect that this whole worldly experience may be revealed as a vast illusion. I mourn the absence of certain people, but I don’t forget who they have shown themselves to be no matter how strong the lure of happier memories. If the dust settles tomorrow and we enter a calmer time those tendencies will still be there waiting for the next crisis to reveal both the better and lesser angels of their nature.

I also continue to take my own “moral inventory” in these turbulent times. My lifelong self-analysis and monitoring of my own pretenses may make me a slightly larger rock in the stream, but that stream is flowing faster and faster and faster. I have struggled with my anger and judgmental character traits all my life, but these times have exacerbated them. The latter tendency I have found to be a useful tool in this rough world, but I have chosen most often to take those judgments and simply walk away and let others, or circumstance in general, mete out the “what goes around comes around” part of the drama. And I continue to hope that the conditions of the world continue to allow me to do that, and not back me into some sort of situational corner where walking away is no longer an option.

So this is my way of commiserating with those of you who have lost, and continue to lose, people that they once held dear to this mad world of our collective making. If anything, it has made me value the people in my life who have always held true and strong to their moral compass, no matter which way the wind was blowing.

To them I say “I love you”...to the rest I say “goodbye...and may you find your way”.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

When you see a cop...when they see a cop.

I'm a member of the second most protected demographic in the United States: a starchy white middle-aged male.  I say "second most" because I am not rich.  If I put on a MAGA hat I could easily pass for one of Trump's mindless minions (well...if I wasn't in my normal metrosexual/anglophile mode of dress which raises red flags with almost everyone, everywhere).

As a member of that protected demographic, it's probably not for me to say anything definitive about how people outside of that demographic might feel in any given situation...but since I grew up in a working poor mixed neighborhood in Detroit, I can use that past and my imagination for a bit of perspective...perhaps.

When we lived in Detroit in the 70's it was a given that the police were not our friends and they were generally to be avoided.  The riots of 1967 were far from a distant memory and the general feeling was one of fear and mistrust. You only called them if you HAD to.  Most of the time you settled things on your own.  I carry that with me to this very day, that wariness, despite my protected status.  My black friends had (and have) a much heavier burden, which in a lot of ways I didn't understand until we moved from Detroit to Warren, MI.

In my mixed neighborhood most of us got along, just a bunch of disadvantaged people coping with an inequitable economic system as best we could.  Save one, none of my close friends were white and I didn't understand that that was the exception in this country and not the norm until Warren.

Warren is an inner suburb of Detroit and was white and prejudiced as hell...and it probably still is...I don't visit.  It was my first introduction to what extreme prejudice meant.  Coming fresh out of the city to this awful place was jarring, to say the least.  I was an instant pariah.  My nickname was n***er-lover.  I got into a LOT of fights.

I didn't understand the hatred.  Most of these kids had never even MET a black person...it was that segregated.  It all came from their racist parents, from what I could tell.  It was echoed even in my own extended family, most of whom were from a rural part of SE Michigan and likewise had little interaction with people of color.  I called a couple of them out on their bigotry and was amazed at how they would try to deny it once it was plopped out on the table in front of them for all to see.

Ignorance breeding fear. Irrational and unjustified fear.

When I have told various comfortable starchy white people that I'm from Detroit, I have heard a funny little story fairly often...it goes like this:

"Oh...you're from Detroit? Karen and I went there once.  We took the wrong exit and ended up in a really...um...uh...bad neighborhood."

"Really? How was it bad?" I would say, knowing what was about to come.

"Well...it was...er...really, you know...urban."

"How so?" I would say, with the beginnings of a wry smirk forming across my lips.

"Well...Karen and I were the only white people there!"

(Ah...there it is...)

"Yet you survived!"

"Yes...we asked a young man for directions and he was really nice and he told us how to get to Woodward and head North (or whatever)".

At that point I just usually sigh and go on talking with them about the usual banal crap that boring suburban white people talk about until I find a way to get away from them gracefully.  Lawns and stock portfolios and such.

That fear though...

I'm sure some reading this will have lived that same story: "wrong" exit...middle of the night...etc.  So here's the thing: that fear you felt...and far be it for ME, Protected Man, to say this with any amount of certainty...but that fear you felt is probably not unlike the fear people of color experience ALL THE FUCKING TIME...especially when they are around cops.

Chew on that a bit.  Digest it a little.

When I was a kid I knew that the cops could crack my skull open with total impunity.  I saw police brutality firsthand over the years and heard much more from my friends of various shades of non-white. I carry it with me to this day...and as a member of a protected demographic it is but a fraction of that fear that I suspect many...perhaps most...people of color feel around cops.

So when I hear that racist dog-whistle of "all lives matter" it makes my blood boil...because I want the people who say that to feel that fear...that sense that the skin they were drafted into could be something that could get them killed by the very people whose credo is "to serve and protect".

Think on that, my fellow comfy white people.  Think on that a while.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Mistakes Have Been Made...BRAND NEW ALBUM BY JOHN LUDI

This is my new, and possibly final, album. I consider it the best work I've ever done and if I never make another album I would be happy to say that it all ended on this particular note.
Though I obviously have my own distinct sound and musical identity, I would say that major inspirations during my recording of this album would be David Bowie's Blackstar, Peter Gabriel's UP and Kate Bush's Ariel...at least in terms of all of those albums being eclectic studies in contrast and juxtaposition. Like those albums, each song has its own set of feelings and meanings and imagery...and I only hope that this album hits anywhere NEAR the level of artistry of those works. My goal is always to take the listener on a journey through dynamic peaks and valleys and leave them feeling well-traveled by the end of the experience. I want the experience to be impacting on deep emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels, and not just be aural wallpaper to serve as a mere backdrop.
I hope I have accomplished that goal, and I hope that people will take the time to actually LISTEN to this album...but that DOES take a certain level of commitment and an actual interest in music as art. If you have that, you may find this work gratifying. Many have said that it takes a couple listens to “get” what I do...and you may find that to be true as well.
I have made this album available on YouTube as a full album video with lyrics for free listening, as a free download on Noisetrade (link in notes on YouTube video), and as a paid download on Bandcamp (link in notes on YouTube video as well). I had planned on making some videos for some of these songs and to roll it out in a more commercial way, but given the times it seems wrong to me to do so. Above all else, I would would like my work to be heard and remembered. If something happens to me, I would like to know that people listened to and enjoyed my work on some level.