Saturday, October 7, 2017

Art: for the people...ALL of the people.

An interesting, and somewhat saddening, recent work conversation: 

Temping for a little while at a warehouse/shipping branch of a reasonably large company in the area, I found myself engaging in some of my usual favorite opportunities to stand on my soapbox. Most people there, both employees and temps,were REALLY nice and easy to get along with...and I found that refreshing...and they were pretty open too. Working class people tend to have less barriers and hangups overall, I've found over the years. 

One guy does fractal art and has some of his work on display at a local gallery. Three of us were discussing it. The third person is a really pleasant older woman from a poor background. The artist encouraged her to check out his work, and the work of almost 40 other artists, at this gallery. 

"Art galleries" she responded, "aren't those just for rich people? Whenever I see art galleries on TV, it always looks like all the people in them are rich." 

"Actually, far from it", I said. "In fact, most art galleries charge nothing for's one of the few free things you can do anymore." 

"Oh", she said, brightening up considerably, "I'll go down there one of these days then." 

The whole exchange was something I mulled over for a while. It did not surprise me that that was her impression: frankly, I've NEVER seen a scene taking place in an art gallery where people were not dressed to the nines. But there is a further issue, and that is that so many people on the lower economic echelons of this culture have the notion that art is only for an elite few and that there is some sort of boundary between themselves and it. I find this unsurprising, as so many people in the arts world (but not necessarily the artists themselves) present a veneer of classicism and elitism (and then they wonder why the general public doesn't go to bat for them when budgets get slashed by troglodytes like our current Thug-in-Chief). 

(It also brought to mind some of the MOSTLY unconscious snobbery of some of the Trustafarians living in a certain town not too far from me who seem to regard themselves as "It", and everyone who is not one of them as "The Help"...and then wonder why they are so despised by the non-entitled in this area.) 

Food for thought. Art should be for The People. ALL of the people...even the people who park your cars and clean your houses (if you are one who can afford such luxuries): in that way we are ALL enriched and the arts well as the minds that perceive said art.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Own Personal "Mandela Effect".

A meme that seems to have taken the paranormal world by storm over the past few years is an intriguing phenomenon called “The Mandela Effect”. It is so named for Nelson Mandela and the fact that a substantially large amount of the population seems to remember this beloved elder statesman dying as much as two decades before he actually did. The subject matter of this phenomenon is too broad and extensive for me to do more than give it a cursory description here, so I strongly suggest you do a search for it...and keep your mind open as you do. A fair amount of search results will be of the standard issue debunking type, but a few will take you down some interesting paths. These mass “mis-rememberings” range from things as trivial as the spellings of cereal brands and the titles of children's books to the location of the heart inside the human body (which many of you probably remember being slightly under the left I do...well it no longer is...and it “never”'s in the center of our bodies now...where it always wasn't).

The implications of this phenomenon are something I've played with since I was a young child, as I was beset by what I came to call “reality shifts” from a really early age...and my observations of them and the tentative conclusions reached paralleled nicely with the increasing notion that physical reality itself may not be the firm and fixed thing that our culture assumes it is, but a far more fluid substance...if it actually “exists” in the way we think of as “existing” at all. It may just be a construct or a projection. (That's how I see it myself: a large learning tool...a playground/schoolroom/thrill ride for consciousness.)

When I was in 1st grade I had an initial taste of the Mandela Effect well before I was equipped to emotionally deal with it.

I was a daydreamer...especially when in an environment that did not challenge my intellect, which would be an excellent description of the public school system then and now. Like a lot of scruffy little manlings, I had two or three outfits that I wore constantly, and that was about it. One of these outfits incorporated an olive-colored sweater vest that buttoned in the front with a series of brown mottled buttons, each of which had their own distinct pattern and four holes for thread.

Being bored beyond belief by the curriculum, I had pretty much memorized the patterns in these buttons as I would play with them constantly, taking my thumbnail and trying to ram a corner of it into each of the holes in the button peering up at me from it's position over my belly. I would say that I knew these buttons like the back of my hands, but I knew them much more: the back of my hands were not all that interesting to me at that juncture...but the buttons were my late 60's fidget spinner.

One day while readying myself for a REALLY intense burst of random daydreaming, I looked down and the four-holed buttons now only had two holes. I was extremely startled by this. I looked at each button and verified that the patterns in the mottling of the buttons were the same. I realized that there was NO chance that my mother would have been able to find buttons with the EXACT same random color pattern and sew them on this vest while I wasn't looking, so I did what a lot of young children do when confronted with something totally contrary to everything they understand:

I completely freaked out.

My freak out was so extreme that the principal (an avuncular grandfatherish figure named Mr. Albert) decided to drive me home. Wanting to figure out what I was ranting about, the principal informed me that his car was only capable of making left turns, which allowed him to take a long and circuitous route while asking a barrage of questions.

I'm not sure what he was able to conclude (if anything)...memory fades of these years...but my conclusion was that the reality that I thought was a fixed and solid thing, wasn't. Thus, at a VERY young age I started questioning the fundamental basis of physical reality itself. Once I got a few more years and words under me, I called this a “reality shift”. It was the first of several, but probably the most changed the course of my life. Later as I discovered science fiction, Eastern Philosophy, hallucinogens and quantum physics, these incidents made more sense within my expanding worldview. Now when things happen of this nature I don't even bat an eye, as I don't think much of this stuff around us it “real” in the way most people seem to define it.

By my teens I was fairly blasé about my “reality shifts”. For about six years I worked at a hotel in various capacities. The hotel was right next to the apartment complex where my small family lived. For a while I worked an early morning shift and would walk the same path through the same courtyard every morning. At one point after a summer weekend I saw that some reveler had smashed a bottle of blackberry brandy into the ground. It was the same coffee syrup-like swill that I would drink to clear my throat before a gig with my then band, Soft War, so I knew it well. The bottle had a dark purplish label...for about two weeks, at which point it decided that it would be much happier as a broken GINGER brandy bottle.

When I first noticed this, I inspected the area to see if there were any more bottles of this Elixir of the Gods laying about. Nope. This was the lone one...and the pattern of breakage was exactly the same. It would have been practically impossible to fake such a thing without making molds and spending a fair bit of money in a very narrow time window, just to startle some young poor teen whose destiny was to fade into middle-aged obscurity in a glorified tent in a tedious cultural backwater, having accomplished very little of public importance. The bottle remained lodged in the lawn until things warmed up and some groundskeeper decided that it posed a threat to his lawnmower. For my part, I pondered it with wry amusement, always asking myself if it had not always been a ginger brandy bottle and I was just simply mistaken. The brain does things like that.

It's hard to say either way. I always had mixed feelings about the topic until the Mandela Effect started poking it's head into the mainstream culture. Now I have a lot more validation for these experiences, which is comforting in a small brain may be in better shape than I thought it was...but in a MUCH larger way it's pretty all of physical reality may not be.

Food for thought, basically. If it's just John Ludi misremembering various trivial things, it's one thing...but if MILLIONS of people misremember the VERY SAME THINGS in THE VERY SAME WAYS, it points to something a LOT larger.

Which, of course, points to the question at the heart of almost everything: Why?

And I definitely have no room on here for THAT. Or a clue.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I, Asshole.

One of the various "predictions" (or as I like to call it, "stating the obvious") I had made going way back, is that when the edge of the cliff finally came close, there would be a spiraling collective and individuated insanity that would spread like wildfire, almost exponentially, until it became every man (woman) for him/herself.

Judging from people's behavior over the past month, online and off, I'm thinking we are well into the beginning stages of it. The election was a pretty big milestone in and of itself, but I've watched people acting out in a variety of ways lately...and divide into smaller and smaller factions as part of it. Everyone is having their biases tested (myself included) and some are reacting by opening up and trying to reach a deeper level of understanding, while most are retrenching and clinging to whatever serves as a life raft for their prior set of assumptions

Pretty disheartening, but inevitable. Oddly enough, I've found myself becoming calmer in the midst of this. Maybe it's that I've worried about it so long that now that it seems to be here, I can let the worry finally subside and accept whatever fate has in store for me...and for all of us.

All I can really say as a "solution" to there IS no actual try to be kind to one another...and patient...we are ALL assholes in our own special ways...none of us is infallible, myself included. Myself especially.

And don't put your faith in anyone, especially some other asshole. They will let you down...and the level of faith people put in some guru or leader is roughly commensurate to the level of disappointment they will induce in their followers when their pedestal collapses.

Be your own asshole.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Ludi & Fitzpatrick song: Fall Autumn Leaves, Fall

The second installment of our Ludi & Fitzpatrick recording project is another lovely and poignant song about lost love by Mr. Fitzpatrick, who also sings the lead on this one. Really happy with how this turned out. Those of you who may have heard us play this one around the area might notice a bit of a change in the arrangement in favor of a dynamic build.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Why I Bitch.

A fair amount of people in the area where I currently call home seemingly have had a difficult time understanding my motivations.  "You're a tough nut to crack, Ludi", is a comment I heard recently. The normal things that motivate people are not of much interest to me...mainly because I view physical life as a mere mote...a blip in the continuum of consciousness...but an important blip if one feels that what one does here impacts their greater I do.

My primary drive as an artist has been to bring the dark to light. Exposing the things that people generally labor to deny or avoid. It's my calling. I'm sort of like a diagnostician of civilization and it's behaviors. The doctor is the one who gets to tell the unhappy patient that they have a tumor, the purpose being that it gives the patient the ability to do something about it, if something is to be done. People are generally not filled with gratitude towards the doctor when they get that news...quite the opposite, in fact: they tend to blame the messenger.

A lot of my friends in most places where I've lived (and most of my online friends)“get” that about me. In the Driftless, an area where a lot of the culture is geared towards new age positive thinking, I can be a bitter pill for some to swallow. People don't want to hear (for example) that systemic flaws in our individual and collective behavior (that can only be rectified by a difficult amount of constant vigilance and raw honesty) are causing our own destruction as a species (and the entire planet, by extension). That tends to be a bit of a buzzkill.

My calling has made a lightning rod of me at times, which has been sad-making...but “to thine own self be true”'s just who I am. It's who I was coming out of the womb, coupled with a serious influence from the Buddhism I steeped myself in in my teens. It has doomed me to being out of step with the greater world and a dissonant voice in the choir...when I make my voice loud enough to actually be heard...which is not often.  I'm not that impressive.  Perhaps I should have been taller.

For me, awareness is the goal, far over happiness or comfort. Consciousness becoming more conscious...THAT to me, is God.  THAT is my motivator.  

For me, the “good” (for lack of a better term) is that which develops and expands our consciousness, and that is of the down side of life just as much as the up side. The totality of the human condition, the human experience (and beyond), is what I try to encompass with my tiny little brain. The “bad” is that which does the opposite: it diminishes awareness, stunts it, stultifies it. It gives people the pill to cure all that ails the cost of a deeper understanding of themselves and the universe they live in. That is why I find people like Trump so deeply troubling: he is a purveyor and result of a slovenly, slug-like unconsciousness...a force that exists to add to the general dulling of the psyche that has been our trajectory for the past few decades. It is against this that I fight so desperately at times.

So my criticism and complaining often has a higher purpose attached to's not always motivated by my personal discontents (though being a petty little human being, sometimes it actually is). When I complain about something so relatively minor an issue as where I see the arts headed in the little area I live in, for example, I'm not just motivated as an artist who has found no place to be a voice here, it's also because I see a stunting occurring, most of which has been brought about with the very best of intentions.

My ultimate dream is of a world where humans have transcended their self-imposed limits and are in a constant immaterial expansion mode...dedicated to growing emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Given that we are probably in hospice-mode as a species, I gravely doubt that we will get to that beautiful place I've dreamed about and longed for all my life...but I still fight for it all the same.

In the end, for me it is the only fight worth fighting.  It's why I bitch.

Hope that clears a few things up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Direct Link to my NoiseTrade Page

Nice to see that people are downloading the albums!

This is the direct link to them:

#freemusic #freealbums #freemp3s

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Job Hunting in The Great Unraveling

I've started looking for a regular job again...there are things I want in this world that require money, so I figured it's time to start earning some again. I started this last Monday. The results have been surprising: only a handful of resumes sent out, but two interviews set already and a third strongly possible.

I wasn't ALWAYS a weirdo living as a semi-hermit in the woods...I do have a extensive one with lots of grown up stuff on it (though it's a bit job-hoppy...I've not always made the best choices)...but I'm surprised at the positive response. Now I just have to figure if I want my life to massively change or if I want to keep doing what I'm doing. My life is pretty easy right now and given both the curves my body has been sending me and the state of the world economically, politically and environmentally, should I spend what could be the last few years of my life working my ass off to fund a future I may not have or just keep fucking around as I have been? A larger city would give me greater opportunities on all levels: socially, musically, maybe even (gasp) romantically...but it'll cost me and take me away from my beautiful woods. Otherwise, I can live as I am by working a couple shifts a week doing something menial...and that may be the way to go...I can smell more flowers that way...and I like flowers.

Anyway...those are my own private musings and my own problem to solve...the thing that keeps occurring to me is a conversation with one of my best friends last week. He works as the HR guy at a company in Chicago. I asked him " many people out of 10 that you hear from for positions there would you say are in the barely-able-to-function-as-a-regular-adult range?"

I figured he'd say 1 or 2...maybe 3.

Nope...7. Ouch.

I've also heard that the REAL unemployment numbers are a LOT higher than reported (redefining who is unemployed can do that...neat little government accounting trick)...but one of the quandaries for employers is that there are VERY few competent adults with a developed skill set to fill many of the open positions out there.

I've been out of the loop for a bit in terms of the white-collar world...has it really gotten THAT bad out there? Is it THAT hard to find people who function at a professional level? Most other aspects of our culture seem to have tanked, so it wouldn't surprise me if this is is it?

I'd be curious to get feedback on this one...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

It's all free, duuuuuuude!

I've decided to just give away my current albums as digital downloads for free. The reasons for this are listed below:

1- No one buys physical albums anymore...not really...maybe at a gig or such, but for the most part people stream it or steal it. Recorded output is now almost just promo for live I'm going to stop swimming upstream on this one. It's FAR more important to me to have people actually listen to the stuff than to make a tiny pittance off of it. For the most part, if you press a CD now you can count on selling MAYBE a few hundred of them unless you're on a tour and there is a buzz about you...otherwise your friends and family will be the ones that buy them and the rest end up in boxes or on spindles. It's all downloading or streaming now...and usually people don't pay much for that either.

2- I am more focused on other ways of making a living.

3- “IT” is here. All the things I tried to warn people about via my songs over the past almost-four decades are happening now and there is nothing that can be done about it and there is no “getting though” it: if the eventual economic collapse and/or potential global war does not get you, the collapsing climate and death of the biosphere will. Game over, man. So the sociopolitical/environmental elements of my work are now a moot point and now it's just a question of whether or not you enjoy listening to it. My music isn't for everyone, so only small percentage do.

4- I'm old and irrelevant and my time has passed and, while I'm still going to make music because I enjoy making music, I am (as ever) not going to be jumping on any stylistic bandwagon or be part of any fleeting hipster trend. I am what I am and I do what I I am fated to obscurity. Fine...I will live until I die no matter WHAT happens in life. I've done what I could with what I've had. I think the work is worthy, even if it is out of step with whatever the current fashions are, were, or will be.

5- I have always felt that those things we create (including our art), exist and have meaning well beyond the realm of the for me it's important to share my work as I think it makes a difference on a “spiritual” level. Songs meant to raise awareness and get one to think also raise consciousness/vibrations...and I believe that that matters.

So I'm now going to use NOISETRADE to host my now-free albums. Download away. “Tip” me on there or contribute to my GOFUNDME if you like the stuff and have a conscience about such things (most people do not anymore).

(In order to download them, you will be asked to provide your e-mail address and prove that you are not a bot.  I assure you that I will not sell your information to any phishers or spammers...unless I get a REALLY good price for it.  A boy's gotta make a living...)

Will I be making any more albums?  Mmmmm...maybe.  I may just do one-off songs from here on out, as it seems that the era of the album has passed and it's a LOT of work, frankly.  We'll see.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Screw the Presidency...we need a Council of Elders!

Imagine being the head of a foreign power right now. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and imagine this. Good. Imagine that you have a set of long standing trade and defense agreements with a country that has a political structure that can change course every four...and sometimes even two...years. Imagine that that country has shown an ability to veer from one sociopolitical extreme to another, depending on the whims of a largely uneducated and misinformed electorate who votes not for who is the most qualified and the most learned, but the most publicized and the most colorful.

How do you feel about this? Secure? Settled? Confident about your future?

Do you feel, perhaps, that your incredibly powerful strategic partner is one who is mercurial at best and is not to be depended on when push comes to shove? Does their recent propensity to elect brain dead demagogues leave you feeling like you should maybe find ways of distancing yourself from this wobbly partner in favor of partners who are more to be relied upon? Like China? Or Russia? Whatever your feelings about who they are and what they do, they are, at the very least, more consistent than your current partner...especially the newly-elected figurehead of your current partner (who seems to change his trajectory more than some people change their socks).

What to do...what to do...

In case you haven't noticed, presidential politics (and well...MOST politics on any level anymore) is not based upon a notion of Meritocracy...a notion that the most qualified, competent, and able are the ones who should direct the ship of's basically a popularity contest...and a contest, increasingly, where the most obnoxiously noisy tend to be the ones that get center stage...and in some cases they even get to have their tiny fingers in reach of that special shiny red button that could vaporize half the planet in less time than it takes to bake a frozen pot pie in the oven.

It occurred to me a little while after the election that there HAS to be a better mode of governance...though I couldn't think of one offhand...until I started looking backwards instead of forwards.

So I thought of an idealized tribal where you actually had people who displayed core competencies and experience and had many years and miles behind them at the helm. Call me crazy, but it seem like more a model of stability than anything we have now.

It seems that if you had, say, twelve people who...regardless of race/sex/creed/color/economic background/gender preference...were the acknowledged leaders in their various fields...who had displayed an unambiguous track record of actual success (not Trump's fake and/or subsidized success), a willingness to lead selflessly, and the ability to work in a wholeheartedly collaborative way for the good of the whole, and appoint them for life, giving them a reasonable monthly stipend and all the basics (to keep them focused on their mission and not on having to clean leaves out of their gutters or whatever), but NOT giving them the ability to use their position to unduly influence various individuals and events in their favor, that you MIGHT have the rude beginnings of a form of government that would actually SERVE the people...unlike what we have now.

Each member would be routinely evaluated on their performance by both their fellow elders, the aforementioned experts in their fields, and the populace in general to ascertain if the job they were doing was serving the greatest good. They would also be “screened” for any sort of past or current improprieties that would compromise said performance...and obviously screening for cronyism and nepotism as well. If they were found to be wanting, they would be deposed and replaced by the next in line...and if they were not found wanting, they could potentially be in their position until they fell over dead of old age. If it were done right, the things about our system that seem to attract nothing but various grades of sociopath could be eliminated and people like Donald Trump could go back to hosting insipid reality shows...or, more appropriately, fishing for used syringes at the bottom of a dumpster behind a poorly-run free clinic in a bad neighborhood.

And this would not just be the model to replace our current national travesty, but one that could be used all the way down to the town level (which is kind of the way it is in many parts...except for the screening for competence and nepotism and cronyism bit...those things could use some work...on all levels...everywhere).

I'm grasping at straws and ignoring vast swathes of human nature by playing with this idea and it's completely futile and I don't even know why I'm bothering to write this...but the national debacle has been dancing around in my mind a lot lately and I feel the need to muse on my way down the huge existential toilet that has become our immediate future.

You may say that I'm a dreamer...

Friday, April 28, 2017


Nixon may be the first president in recent memory to disgrace the be followed by the questionable behavior of several of those who came after (from BOTH sides of the aisle)...but Trump is the first one to actually turn it into a total fucking joke. This is the most embarrassingly stupid man that has EVER taken the oath of office...and I would feel that way if he was a Democrat, and Green, a Libertarian, or a sworn minion of Cthulhu...and this goes WELL beyond partisan nattering bullshit for me...the guy is an imbecile and probably in the early stages of some form of coke-induced dementia. At the BEST of times it seems like he is profoundly cognitively the worst he seems SECONDS away from running naked around the oval office covered in his own feces.
The fact that he crawled his way into office despite being nothing more than a rich brutish pig born with a silver spoon lodged in his trachea is indicative of how low our society has sunk...and the fact that his insane behavior, blatant nepotism, criminality and war-mongering have not gotten him booted OUT of office yet is indicative of our continued slide down into the crusty cesspool of iniquity that is our most probable future.
We have become a nation of brain-dead thugs with a few bright exceptions thrown in (who will probably be eliminated in some future redneck-led pogrom). We're toast. Fuck it. Hope is dead. RIP hope...nice knowing you. Glub glub glub.
And don't give me any of that "but Hillary is/was a ______ too" sniveling apologist dribble as an excuse for THIS walking bucket of orange-colored hyena shit: I couldn't stand her EITHER...but at least she was literate and could speak an entire coherent sentence without looking like she just soiled her adult diaper.
Fuck that fucking clown...and fuck this consensual reality matrix that created that rotting pile of smelly goat afterbirth too!
Someone wake me the fuck up and tell me that the whole past 52 years I've been slumming in this godforsaken hell dimension has been nothing but an accelerating bad dream and that I'll wake up to find myself on a planet populated by enlightened beings who wouldn't think Honey Boo Boo was a viable form of entertainment...and wouldn't think that a big fat sub-literate baby in an ill-fitting tan-sprayed man-suit would be a GREAT idea to head a country bristling with nukes!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Video Series: Calm the Hell Down, Pts 1-3

These are 3 minute videos with calming and soothing imagery and instrumental music for a quick shot of calm during your busy day.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Fast Track to Collapse?

Just a short little note. I just put this out there in a conversation today, but figured it was worth putting out there in general.
One of the things that has taken me a bit by surprise is the speed at which Trump is pushing through a fairly large slab of his promised agenda. I thought that he would be more into being some (imagined) object of adoration, bask in the glory, and sit in the big chair playing with hand puppets for at least a month or two. Nope. Wrong again, Ludi.
On reflection it makes perfect sense considering his psychological makeup: his proactivity fills that psychic hole at the heart of the narcissistic personality. He must, in his shark-like way, keep moving ever forward.
So how forward? When he is done putting little black check marks on his bullet point list, what does he do next with all of his new found executive power? How much does he tamper with longstanding trade agreements and intricate political relationships that took decades to develop? We are a very fragile global economy now, riddled with debt loads history has never before seen. When countries are dabbling with negative interest rates because of there being no other economic option that allows the trains to run on time, a bull in a china shop who changes his opinions more often than most people change their socks (who is now at the helm of the world's largest economy) is a recipe for disaster.
Things could happen a LOT quicker than even I imagined. We seem to be on a fast track to isolating ourselves in the most abrupt way imaginable. Not being a big fan of globalization (due to my understanding of resource issues and my general feeling that it's been a 30+ year race to the bottom for those of us who have to work to pay the bills AND that it's been a very efficient way of eating the planet), I see the potential outcomes as a very mixed bag. In one way...a weird and twisted is a inadvertent step to relocalization...which is an inevitability if the climate does not spiral out of control and make ALL levels of civilization untenable. But this ham-fisted and brazen approach lacks the slightest bit of finesse and subtlety. These are the actions of a man who feels that he is bigger than reality...that reality must somehow bend to the will of his ego. It won't. And as we have raised the ire of so many across the planet with our ceaseless hegemonic antics over the decades since WWII, we have a good deal of resentment and ill will built up in our karmic bank account. At some point those who have had our version of democracy thrust upon them may decide that there is little left to gain by appeasing the bully anymore...especially now that cold-blooded functionaries have been replaced by hot-blooded ideologues.
Not that I want to alarm anyone (more than usual), but we may have mere months. I am surprised by the pace of this barrage. I will extend the caveat that my timing regarding world events has never been all that stellar, but damn...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year?

I wanted to wish all my friends and listeners a Happy New Year. Given where things are politically, economically and environmentally, that may be a tall order...but I'm wishing it nevertheless.

I always seem to have a dominant theme every year and this one is no different, but in this case there are TWO dominant themes: disappointment...and letting go.

Disappointment has actually been an extended theme, really a lifelong one, and it permeates, increasingly, all levels of my being and my perceptions of the world around me. On the musical level, as an artist who is driven to write songs of depth that deal with subjects that provoke the denial mechanism in almost everyone, I have had four decades of doors slammed in my face on every front, and as the culture careens headlong into a full-tilt real-time enactment of the movie Idiocracy, this has turned out to be a banner year for said slamming. From local musical cliques that favor marginal talents as long as they are “in with the in crowd” and “go along to get along”, to my recent discovery that there is almost no merit-based way to get past the gatekeepers of online promotion, it's been a downer front to back. As to the latter issue, I've found that pretty much everyone who is not either already in the throes of fame has to engage in outright payola to get ears on songs and eyes on videos. Sadly, if you can't be pigeonholed into some tiny little genre box by some 23-year old hipster idiot with a Wordpress blog and a tin ear, you're on the outside looking in...and it doesn't matter how good your material is and how well you present it or how germane it is to the larger world in all its splendor...”different” is scary and it MUST be kept away from the public...unless you want to start PAYING for that direct exposure directly. Which I may do at some point, just for the hell of it. Why not? We're probably all going to die soon anyway, so why should I keep playing the last honest man? I'm getting tired of it..and tired of a lot of things, basically.

That “die soon” thing...I'm really feeling it now. The general malaise that has been my constant companion since I first became aware of politics during the Watergate scandal (well before I sprouted my first pubic hair) has blossomed since the election into a barely-subdued panic that only fades when I immerse myself in some pointless project or another. So much has been written about the stunted man-child that 'Murca has plopped into the big chair that I really don't feel like adding to the wholly justified pile-on, but suffice it to say that I view him as a complete abomination and his cabinet-to-be as possibly the most appalling confluence of ghoulish monstrosities since Goebbels, Himmler, Mengele, Hess and company upended every last notion of decency back when twittering was the mere purview of birds. There is no way that this does not end badly...probably horrifically. And you know what? We deserve the bastard...we really and truly do. Maybe not ALL of us, but most of us. This is a creature born of the most infantile repressed dark zones of the human id, and he is the logical end result of our collective apathy, denial, complacency and the naively egalitarian notion that EVERYONE deserves a reward just for showing up and having the ability to fog a mirror.

I blame the Left for Trump as much as the Right, frankly...and not just because Bernie Sanders had the rug pulled out from under him by the DNC...but because of the long term cultural trend that has dictated that EVERYONE deserves a seat at the table, no matter how completely stupid they may be. The idea that everyone is entitled to a high level of self-esteem regardless of their merit or accomplishments is why we have a tragically inept reality TV star mere days away from being the “leader of the free world”. We are about to learn that the notion that “everyone can grow up to be president” is a dangerously stupid one when applied to a rather large segment of the public. In a world where Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty are considered valid forms of entertainment we need to let these sentiments go, however seemingly noble their intent was once upon a time. In fact, much of what this country was founded upon probably needs to be revisited...and it will...but not in the direction that would lead to a better world for all concerned: it will very likely descend into overt fascism...overt fascism with a Modern Country soundtrack and a collective Billy Bob leer. This is one of those moments in time where I am actually glad that only a tiny handful of people are interested in myself or my music or my judgmental blatherings: I may not end up in a camp when things get really going out there...I may be left alone. Not that it matters that much to me anymore...I've kind of let go of it all on some levels.

Letting go...the other theme. Perhaps it's an artifact of finally getting old or having my adrenal glands so overstimulated by this phantasm we call reality that they simply can't process anything anymore OR perhaps I've developed SOME vague level of spiritual maturity that allows me, finally, to be relatively sanguine in the throes of utter chaos...but I've really let go of a lot this year. Even basic staples of human living like sex, romance, hope for the future on ANY front whatsoever, even THOSE elements have finally dropped from my psyche like the fur or feathers from a creature that hears the muffled cries of its brethren from the slaughterhouse. I have reached a place of zen in some ways...a place where I keep looking within to find some remaining connection to the greater world as it reaches the hockey stick curve of the downward spiral, and finding nothing but the desire for some quiet small place to fade away into the hereafter. About all I have that still gets me up in the morning are my friends and my music...and the latter basically translates into wanting to record and gig a bit with my acoustic partner and maybe squeeze out another album of my own to top off a musical legacy that will fade into oblivion shortly after I do. That's about it. I do have the desire to find that quiet place somewhere where the weather and the people are warmer, so I have my beady little eyes set on the Ozarks...but it's sort of a race against time as I fully anticipate that Trump and his minions will eventually pop this ephemeral balloon of an economy and wherever anyone is when it happens will be where they end up pushing up radioactive daisies, as once the money stops so does the gas...and the food.

Letting go has played heavily in our venal pox of a mass culture too: we've let go of a lot of luminaries this year...important ones. Of course a lot of that is purely natural in terms of numbers: as a population ages, it dies...but the quality of the people who left us this year is what is incredibly striking to me. I can't recall a year where so many people who single-handedly redefined our society went trundling off into that goodnight. Bowie, Prince, Cohen...these were some of the most singular talents among us and their passing hit really hard. The two things that really sucked the wind out of me this year were the death of Bowie, the man who made me want to be a singer AND made it ok for me to be the flamboyant little weirdo that I once proudly was, and the election of that orange-haired two-legged carp to the highest office in the land.

The latter event seriously broke something in me. I had, for the longest time and despite all evidence to the contrary, had a tiny little vague flicker of hope for our species...hope that at some point we'd collectively wake up, finally, and get it right. That's gone. As a friend of mine says “into the hopper with us”. I had long harbored the notion that a species that could come up with all the brilliant art and music and philosophy that we can come up with was somehow redeemable. I have let that go too. It was a painful operation and the stitches have not yet come anywhere near healing, but it's the conclusion I have had to draw from the facts presented to me: perhaps it is just wrong to be human. We take entire planets and reduce them to toxic cesspools, even though we do write some nice symphonies to go along with it. I have to judge by actions and not laudable sentiments and lofty words, and my feeling now is that we kind of suck across the board.'s just how I feel these days. How can I feel otherwise, given that we chose such a blatant demagogue to lead us, despite centuries of historical background telling us that that is exactly the worst thing we could possibly do at exactly the worst time we possibly could do it?

Granted, INDIVIDUALS (or even small groups of them) can be incredibly kind and loving and helpful, we CAN follow the better angels of our nature...but under long periods of duress or gathered together in larger collectives a lot of that breaks down and it's the Darwinian Death Stomp that takes hold it its place.

So for me 2016 has been an exercise in not just lowering my expectations, but eliminating a fair amount of them entirely..and I suspect it is just an appetizer: the main course will manifest in 2017. A lot of people that I am quite fond of, love even, are wishing for 2017 to be a year of some Great Awakening where we will come together and realize that we are all one, etc., and I REALLY hope that they are right...but I feel like this will be the year where the darkness descends in earnest, and where those of us of conscience and goodwill will need to summon every inner resource available to help each other get past it...if there IS a “past it”...because on the other side of it is a world with a climate system gone horrifically awry that may make all of our sociopolitical hi-jinks a relative mote in the broad grinning face of it all.

My own new year starts with spending a few more days with some wonderful friends and their goofy and lovable animals and then some more time playing a bit in warm places before I head back to the tundra to plot the next few steps of my life's journey...a journey that now is solidly overshadowed by some rather large global question marks: Is this the year the economy finally crashes? Is this the year WWIII finally breaks out? Will the new administration be a joke or a dictatorship?

And where in that huge heady mix does a little man with broken dreams find a place?

Regardless of where I find MY place...if I ever do...I hope YOU find a place in it, if you haven't already.  A safe and warm one. A loving you can call home.

May this be a good year for you.