Archive for February, 2009

What went wrong? I should have been a Has-been by now.

Posted in failure, music, rants on February 28, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

Just something I was thinking when I was sitting on the toilet after a hard day at work, trying to ignore the ferret shit in the corner of  the bathroom, less than a foot away from the cat box provided for just that situation ( that had obviously been conveniently unobserved by his 17 year old owner who is supposed to handle such incedences of furry stupidity) with an issue of the local free weekly paper; I read with much agony about yet another of my former bands doing very well…  In fact far better than they ever had with me devoting my every effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I was legitmately happy for them, yet at the same time, the emotional reaction was like finding out one of your exes is about to marry the super rich, super beautiful celebrity of your choice.

Now I’m not going to do any name dropping (mostly because I’m sure to feel even worse about myself when none of the bands will be remembered, even though one of them just got a ESP Guitars endorsement) but as I finished my intended task that I went into the bathroom for in the first place; I stared in the mirror as I washed my hands I wonder when it went wrong.

Now don’t get me wrong, ferret shit notwithstanding, I love my family, I love being a father of 3 fantastic kids &  I couldn’t have a better relationship with the woman who puts up with my shit (love you Shu), but come on, my name should be the answer of a trivia question used by an obsessive, insomniac music geek posted on a forum at 3 in the morning.

It’s not like everlasting fame was ever expected, for christ’s sake I’m a BASS PLAYER nobody gives a shit about the bass player… Except other bass players, it’s like being a Freemason but without any advantages.  This sort of inherent anonaminity (unless the bass player is a singer, or Flea) makes the bass player the guy inthe band most realistic about the fact that in a few years they will be working as a cook or some other stupid menial bullshit.

A 1 hit wonder or a band with 1 good album that disappeared to the where are they now files, that’s all I’m asking.   Or at least what was asking.   The chances for me now are slim to none even though I still love to play and also (god help us all) sing now, but crap I wanted to be a rock star, or at least an asteroid.

Next time I think I’ll just stare angrily  at the ferret shit…

The Abolition of work by Bob Black

Posted in rants on February 28, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

 
This is an essay by writer, lawyer & anarchist Bob Black.  I just love this essay so i post it everywhere since it’s public domain.
the Abolition of Work
by Bob Black, 1985
 

No one should ever work.

Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.

That doesn’t mean we have to stop doing things. It does mean creating a new way of life based on play; in other words, a ludic revolution. By “play” I mean also festivity, creativity, conviviality, commensality, and maybe even art. There is more to play than child’s play, as worthy as that is. I call for a collective adventure in generalized joy and freely interdependent exuberance. Play isn’t passive. Doubtless we all need a lot more time for sheer sloth and slack than we ever enjoy now, regardless of income or occupation, but once recovered from employment-induced exhaustion nearly all of us want to act.

The ludic life is totally incompatible with existing reality. So much the worse for “reality,” the gravity hole that sucks the vitality from the little in life that still distinguishes it from mere survival. Curiously — or maybe not — all the old ideologies are conservative because they believe in work. Some of them, like Marxism and most brands of anarchism, believe in work all the more fiercely because they believe in so little else.

Liberals say we should end employment discrimination. I say we should end employment. Conservatives support right-to-work laws. Following Karl Marx’s wayward son-in-law Paul Lafargue, I support the right to be lazy. Leftists favor full employment. Like the surrealists — except that I’m not kidding — I favor full unemployment. Trotskyists agitate for permanent revolution. I agitate for permanent revelry. But if all the ideologues (as they do) advocate work — and not only because they plan to make other people do theirs — they are strangely reluctant to say so. They will carry on endlessly about wages, hours, working conditions, exploitation, productivity, profitability. They’ll gladly talk about anything but work itself. These experts who offer to do our thinking for us rarely share their conclusions about work, for all its saliency in the lives of all of us. Among themselves they quibble over the details. Unions and management agree that we ought to sell the time of our lives in exchange for survival, although they haggle over the price. Marxists think we should be bossed by bureaucrats. Libertarians think we should be bossed by businessmen. Feminists don’t care which form bossing takes, so long as the bosses are women. Clearly these ideology-mongers have serious differences over how to divvy up the spoils of power. Just as clearly, none of them have any objection to power as such and all of them want to keep us working.

You may be wondering if I’m joking or serious. I’m joking and serious. To be ludic is not to be ludicrous. Play doesn’t have to be frivolous, although frivolity isn’t triviality; very often we ought to take frivolity seriously. I’d like life to be a game — but a game with high stakes. I want to play for keeps.

The alternative to work isn’t just idleness. To be ludic is not to be quaaludic. As much as I treasure the pleasure of torpor, it’s never more rewarding than when it punctuates other pleasures and pastimes. Nor am I promoting the managed, time-disciplined safety-valve called “leisure”; far from it. Leisure is nonwork for the sake of work. Leisure is time spent recovering from work and in the frenzied but hopeless attempt to forget about work. Many people return from vacations so beat that they look forward to returning to work so they can rest up. The main difference between work and leisure is that at work at least you get paid for your alienation and enervation.

I am not playing definitional games with anybody. When I say I want to abolish work, I mean just what I say, but I want to say what I mean by defining my terms in non-idiosyncratic ways. My minimum definition of work is forced labor, that is, compulsory production. Both elements are essential. Work is production enforced by economic or political means, by the carrot or the stick. (The carrot is just the stick by other means.) But not all creation is work. Work is never done for its own sake, it’s done on account of some product or output that the worker (or, more often, somebody else) gets out of it. This is what work necessarily is. To define it is to despise it. But work is usually even worse than its definition decrees. The dynamic of domination intrinsic to work tends over time toward elaboration. I n advanced work-riddled societies, including all industrial societies whether capitalist or “communist,” work invariably acquires other attributes which accentuate its obnoxiousness.

Usually — and this is even more true in “communist” than capitalist countries, where the state is almost the only employer and everyone is an employee — work is employment, i.e. wage-labor, which means selling yourself on the installment plan. Thus 95% of Americans who work, work for somebody (or something) else. In the USSR of Cuba or Yugoslavia or Nicaragua or any other alternative model which might be adduced, the corresponding figure approaches 100%. Only the embattled Third World peasant bastions — Mexico, India, Brazil, Turkey — temporarily shelter significant concentrations of agriculturists who perpetuate the traditional arrangement of most laborers in the last several millennia, the payment of taxes (= ransom) to the state or rent to parasitic landlords in return for being otherwise left al one. Even this raw deal is beginning to look good. All industrial (and office) workers are employees and under the sort of surveillance which ensures servility.

But modern work has worse implications. People don’t just work, they have “jobs.” One person does one productive task all the time on an or-else basis. Even if the task has a quantum of intrinsic interest (as increasingly many jobs don’t) the monotony of its obligatory exclusivity drains its ludic potential. A “job” that might engage the energies of some people, for a reasonably limited time, for the fun of it, is just a burden on those who have to do it for forty hours a week with no say in how it should be done, for the profit of owners who contribute nothing to the project, and with no opportunity for sharing tasks or spreading the work among those who actually have to do it. This is the real world of work: a world of bureaucratic blundering, of sexual harassment and discrimination, of bonehead bosses exploiting and scapegoating their subordinates who — by any rational/technical criteria — should be calling the shots. But capitalism in the real world subordinates the rational maximization of productivity and profit to the exigencies of organizational control.

The degradation which most workers experience on the job is the sum of assorted indignities which can be denominated as “discipline.” Foucault has complexified this phenomenon but it is simple enough. Discipline consists of the totality of totalitarian controls at the workplace — surveillance, rote-work, imposed work tempos, production quotas, punching-in and -out, etc. Discipline is what the factory and the office and the store share with the prison and the school and the mental hospital. It is something historically original and horrible. It was beyond the capacities of such demonic dictators of yore as Nero and Genghis Khan and Ivan the Terrible. For all their bad intentions, they just didn’t have the machinery to control their subjects as thoroughly as modern despots do. Discipline is the distinctively diabolical modern mode of control, it is an innovative intrusion which must be interdict ed at the earliest opportunity.

Such is “work.” Play is just the opposite. Play is always voluntary. What might otherwise be play is work if it’s forced. This is axiomatic. Bernie de Koven has defined play as the “suspension of consequences.” This is unacceptable if it implies that play is inconsequential. The point is not that play is without consequences. This is to demean play. The point is that the consequences, if any, are gratuitous. Playing and giving are closely related, they are the behavioral and transactional facets of the same impulse, the play-instinct. They share an aristocratic disdain for results. The player gets something out of playing; that’s why he plays. But the core reward is the experience of the activity itself (whatever it is). Some otherwise attentive students of play, like Johan Huizinga (Homo Ludens), < SPAN style=”FONT-FAMILY: Verdana; mso-bidi-font-family: ‘Arial Unicode MS'”>define it as game-playing or following rules. I respect Huizinga’s erudition but emphatically reject his constraints. There are many good games (chess, baseball, Monopoly, bridge) which are rule-governed but there is much more to play than game-playing. Conversation, sex, dancing, travel — these practices aren’t rule-governed but they are surely play if anything is. And rules can be played with at least as readily as anything else.

Work makes a mockery of freedom. The official line is that we all have rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren’t free like we are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or else, no matter how arbitrary. The authorities keep them under regular surveillance. State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or private. Either way, dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers report regularly to the authorities. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing.

And so it is, although it is nothing but a description of the modern workplace. The liberals and conservatives and Libertarians who lament totalitarianism are phonies and hypocrites. There is more freedom in any moderately de-Stalinized dictatorship than there is in the ordinary American workplace. You find the same sort of hierarchy and discipline in an office or factory as you do in a prison or a monastery. In fact, as Foucault and others have shown, prisons and factories came in at about the same time, and their operators consciously borrowed from each other’s control techniques. A worker is a part-time slave. The boss says when to show up, when to leave, and what to do in the meantime. He tells you how much work to do and how fast. He is free to carry his control to humiliating extremes, regulating, if he feels like it, the clothes you wear or how often you go to the bathroom. With a few ex ceptions he can fire you for any reason, or no reason. He has you spied on by snitches and supervisors, he amasses a dossier on every employee. Talking back is called “insubordination,” just as if a worker is a naughty child, and it not only gets you fired, it disqualifies you for unemployment compensation. Without necessarily endorsing it for them either, it is noteworthy that children at home and in school receive much the same treatment, justified in their case by their supposed immaturity. What does this say about their parents and teachers who work?

The demeaning system of domination I’ve described rules over half the waking hours of a majority of women and the vast majority of men for decades, for most of their lifespans. For certain purposes it’s not too misleading to call our system democracy or capitalism or — better still — industrialism, but its real names are factory fascism and office oligarchy. Anybody who says these people are “free” is lying or stupid.

You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances are you’ll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous. Work is a much better explanation for the creeping cretinization all around us than even such significant moronizing mechanisms as television and education. People who are regimented all their lives, handed to work from school and bracketed by the family in the beginning and the nursing home in the end, are habituated to hierarchy and psychologically enslaved. Their aptitude for autonomy is so atrophied that their fear of freedom is among their few rationally grounded phobias. Their obedience training at work carries over into the families they start, thus reproducing the system in more ways than one, and into politics, culture and everything else. Once you drain the vitality from pe ople at work, they’ll likely submit to hierarchy and expertise in everything. They’re used to it.

We are so close to the world of work that we can’t see what it does to us. We have to rely on outside observers from other times or other cultures to appreciate the extremity and the pathology of our present position. There was a time in our own past when the “work ethic” would have been incomprehensible, and perhaps Weber was on to something when he tied its appearance to a religion, Calvinism, which if it emerged today instead of four centuries ago would immediately and appropriately be labelled a cult. Be that as it may, we have only to draw upon the wisdom of antiquity to put work in perspective. The ancients saw work for what it is, and their view prevailed (the Calvinist cranks notwithstanding) until overthrown by industrialism — but not before receiving the endorsement of its prophets.

Let’s pretend for a moment that work doesn’t turn people into stultified submissives. Let’s pretend, in defiance of any plausible psychology and the ideology of its boosters, that it has no effect on the formation of character. And let’s pretend that work isn’t as boring and tiring and humiliating as we all know it really is. Even then, work would still make a mockery of all humanistic and democratic aspirations, just because it usurps so much of our time. Socrates said that manual laborers make bad friends and bad citizens because they have no time to fulfill the responsibilities of friendship and citizenship. He was right. Because of work, no matter what we do, we keep looking at our watches. The only thing “free” about so-called free time is that it doesn’t cost the boss anything. Free time is mostly devoted to getting ready for work, going to work, returning from work, and recovering from work. Free time is a euphemism for the peculiar way labor, as a factor of production, not only transports itself at its own expense to and from the workplace, but assumes primary responsibility for its own maintenance and repair. Coal and steel don’t do that. Lathes and typewriters don’t do that. No wonder Edward G. Robinson in one of his gangster movies exclaimed, “Work is for saps!”

Both Plato and Xenophon attribute to Socrates and obviously share with him an awareness of the destructive effects of work on the worker as a citizen and as a human being. Herodotus identified contempt for work as an attribute of the classical Greeks at the zenith of their culture. To take only one Roman example, Cicero said that “whoever gives his labor for money sells himself and puts him- self in the rank of slaves.” His candor is now rare, but contemporary primitive societies which we are wont to look down upon have provided spokesmen who have enlightened Western anthropologists. The Kapauku of West Irian, according to Posposil, have a conception of balance in life and accordingly work only every other day, the day of rest designed “to regain the lost power and health.” Our ancestors, even as late as the eighteenth century when they were far along the path to our present predicament, at lea st were aware of what we have forgotten, the underside of industrialization. Their religious devotion to “St. Monday” — thus establishing a de facto five-day week 150-200 years before its legal consecration — was the despair of the earliest factory owners. They took a long time in submitting to the tyranny of the bell, predecessor of the time clock. In fact it was necessary for a generation or two to replace adult males with women accustomed to obedience and children who could be molded to fit industrial needs. Even the exploited peasants of the ancien regime wrested substantial time back from their landlords’ work. According to Lafargue, a fourth of the French peasants’ calendar was devoted to Sundays and holidays, and Chayanov’s figures from villages in Czarist Russia — hardly a progressive society — likewise show a fourth or fifth of peasants’ days devoted to repose. Controlli ng for productivity, we are obviously far behind these backward societies. The exploited muzhiks would wonder why any of us are working at all. So should we.

To grasp the full enormity of our deterioration, however, consider the earliest condition of humanity, without government or property, when we wandered as hunter-gatherers. Hobbes surmised that life was then nasty, brutish and short. Others assume that life was a desperate unremitting struggle for subsistence, a war waged against a harsh Nature with death and disaster awaiting the unlucky or anyone who was unequal to the challenge of the struggle for existence. Actually, that was all a projection of fears for the collapse of government authority over communities unaccustomed to doing without it, like the England of Hobbes during the Civil War. Hobbes’ compatriots had already encountered alternative forms of society which illustrated other ways of life — in North America, particularly — but already these were too remote from their experience to be understandable. (The lower orders, closer to t he condition of the Indians, understood it better and often found it attractive. Throughout the seventeenth century, English settlers defected to Indian tribes or, captured in war, refused to return to the colonies. But the Indians no more defected to white settlements than West Germans climb the Berlin Wall from the west.) The “survival of the fittest” version — the Thomas Huxley version — of Darwinism was a better account of economic conditions in Victorian England than it was of natural selection, as the anarchist Kropotkin showed in his book Mutual Aid, a Factor in Evolution. (Kropotkin was a scientist who’d had ample involuntary opportunity for fieldwork whilst exiled in Siberia: he knew what he was talking about.) Like most social and political theory, the story Hobbes and his successors told was really unacknowledged autobiography.

The anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, surveying the data on contemporary hunter-gatherers, exploded the Hobbesian myth in an article entitled “The Original Affluent Society.” They work a lot less than we do, and their work is hard to distinguish from what we regard as play. Sahlins concluded that “hunters and gatherers work less than we do; and, rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other condition of society.” They worked an average of four hours a day, assuming they were “working” at all. Their “labor,” as it appears to us, was skilled labor which exercised their physical and intellectual capacities; unskilled labor on any large scale, as Sahlins says, is impossible except under industrialism. Thus it satisfied Friedrich Schiller’s definition of play, the only occ asion on which man realizes his complete humanity by giving full “play” to both sides of his twofold nature, thinking and feeling. Play and freedom are, as regards production, coextensive. Even Marx, who belongs (for all his good intentions) in the productivist pantheon, observed that “the realm of freedom does not commence until the point is passed where labor under the compulsion of necessity and external utility is required.” He never could quite bring himself to identify this happy circumstance as what it is, the abolition of work — it’s rather anomalous, after all, to be pro-worker and anti-work — but we can.

The aspiration to go backwards or forwards to a life without work is evident in every serious social or cultural history of pre-industrial Europe, among them M. Dorothy George’s England in Transition and Peter Burke’s Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe. Also pertinent is Daniel Bell’s essay “Work and Its Discontents,” the first text, I believe, to refer to the “revolt against work” in so many words and, had it been understood, an important correction to the complacency ordinarily associated with the volume in which it was collected, The End of Ideology. Neither critics nor celebrants have noticed that Bell’s end-of-i deology thesis signalled not the end of social unrest but the beginning of a new, uncharted phase unconstrained and uninformed by ideology.

As Bell notes, Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, for all his enthusiasm for the market and the division of labor, was more alert to (and more honest about) the seamy side of work than Ayn Rand or the Chicago economists or any of Smith’s modern epigones. As Smith observed: “The understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations… has no occasion to exert his understanding… He generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.” Here, in a few blunt words, is my critique of work. Bell, writing in 1956, the Golden Age of Eisenhower imbecility and American self-satisfaction, identified the unorganized, unorganizable malaise of the 1970’s and since, the o ne no political tendency is able to harness, the one identified in HEW’s report Work in America , the one which cannot be exploited and so is ignored. It does not figure in any text by any laissez-faire economist — Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, Richard Posner — because, in their terms, as they used to say on Star Trek, “it does not compute.”

If these objections, informed by the love of liberty, fail to persuade humanists of a utilitarian or even paternalist turn, there are others which they cannot disregard. Work is hazardous to your health, to borrow a book title. In fact, work is mass murder or genocide. Directly or indirectly, work will kill most of the people who read these words. Between 14,000 and 25,000 workers are killed annually in this country on the job. Over two million are disabled. Twenty to 25 million are injured every year. And these figures are based on a very conservative estimation of what constitutes a work-related injury. Thus they don’t count the half-million cases of occupational disease every year. I looked at one medical textbook on occupational diseases which was 1,200 pages long. Even this barely scratches the surface. The available statistics count the obvious cases like the 100,000 miners who have black lung disease, of whom 4,000 die every year. What the statistics don’t show is that tens of millions of people have their lifespans shortened by work — which is all that homicide means, after all. Consider the doctors who work themselves to death in their late 50’s. Consider all the other workaholics.

Even if you aren’t killed or crippled while actually working, you very well might be while going to work, coming from work, looking for work, or trying to forget about work. The vast majority of victims of the automobile are either doing one of these work-obligatory activities or else fall afoul of those who do them. To this augmented body-count must be added the victims of auto- industrial pollution and work-induced alcoholism and drug addiction. Both cancer and heart disease are modern afflictions normally traceable, directly or indirectly, to work.

Work, then, institutionalizes homicide as a way of life. People think the Cambodians were crazy for exterminating themselves, but are we any different? The Pol Pot regime at least had a vision, however blurred, of an egalitarian society. We kill people in the six-figure range (at least) in order to sell Big Macs and Cadillacs to the survivors. Our forty or fifty thousand annual highway fatalities are victims, not martyrs. They died for nothing — or rather, they died for work. But work is nothing to die for.

State control of the economy is no solution. Work is, if anything, more dangerous in the state-socialist countries than it is here. Thousands of Russian workers were killed or injured building the Moscow subway. Stories reverberate about covered-up Soviet nuclear disasters which make Times Beach and Three Mile Island look like elementary-school air-raid drills. On the other hand, deregulation, currently fashionable, won’t help and will probably hurt. From a health and safety standpoint, among others, work was at its worst in the days when the economy most closely approximated laissez-faire. Historians like Eugene Genovese have argues persuasively that — as antebellum slavery apologists insisted — factory wage-workers in the North American states and in Europe were worse off than Southern plantation slaves. No rearrangement of relations among bureaucrats seems to make much difference at the po int of production. Serious enforcement of even the rather vague standards enforceable in theory by OSHA would probably bring the economy to a standstill. The enforcers apparently appreciate this, since they don’t even try to crack down on most malefactors.

What I’ve said so far ought not to be controversial. Many workers are fed up with work. There are high and rising rates of absenteeism, turnover, employee theft and sabotage, wildcat strikes, and overall goldbricking on the job. There may be some movement toward a conscious and not just visceral rejection of work. And yet the prevalent feeling, universal among bosses and their agents and also widespread among workers themselves, is that work itself is inevitable and necessary.

I disagree. It is now possible to abolish work and replace it, insofar as it serves useful purposes, with a multitude of new kinds of free activities. To abolish work requires going at it from two directions, quantitative and qualitative. On the one hand, on the quantitative side, we have to cut down massively on the amount of work being done. AT present most work is useless or worse and we should simply get rid of it. On the other hand — and I think this is the crux of the matter and the revolutionary new departure — we have to take what useful work remains and transform it into a pleasing variety of game-like and craft-like pastimes, indistinguishable from other pleasurable pastimes except that they happen to yield useful end-products. Surely that wouldn’t make them less enticing to do. Then all the artificial barriers of power and property could come down. Creation could become recreation. And we could all stop being afraid of each other.

I don’t suggest that most work is salvageable in this way. But then most work isn’t worth trying to save. Only a small and diminishing fraction of work serves any useful purpose independent of the defense and reproduction of the work-system and its political and legal appendages. Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five percent of the work then being done — presumably the figure, if accurate, is lower now — would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing and shelter. Theirs was only an educated guess but the main point is quite clear: directly or indirectly, most work serves the unproductive purposes of commerce or social control. Right off the bat we can liberate tens of millions of salesmen, soldiers, managers, cops, stockbrokers, clergymen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, landlords, security guards, ad-men and everyone who works for them. There is a snowball effe ct since every time you idle some bigshot you liberate his flunkies and underlings also. Thus the economy implodes.

Forty percent of the workforce are white-collar workers, most of whom have some of the most tedious and idiotic jobs ever concocted. Entire industries, insurance and banking and real estate for instance, consist of nothing but useless paper-shuffling. It is no accident that the “tertiary sector,” the service sector, is growing while the “secondary sector” (industry) stagnates and the “primary sector” (agriculture) nearly disappears. Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to ensure public order. Anything is better than nothing. That’s why you can’t go home just because you finish early. They want your time, enough of it to make you theirs, even if they have no use for most of it. Otherwi se why hasn’t the average work week gone down by more than a few minutes in the last fifty years?

Next we can take a meat-cleaver to production work itself. No more war production, nuclear power, junk food, feminine hygiene deodorant — and above all, no more auto industry to speak of. An occasional Stanley Steamer or Model T might be all right, but the auto-eroticism on which such pestholes as Detroit and Los Angeles depend is out of the question. Already, without even trying, we’ve virtually solved the energy crisis, the environmental crisis and assorted other insoluble social problems.

Finally, we must do away with far and away the largest occupation, the one with the longest hours, the lowest pay and some of the most tedious tasks. I refer to housewives doing housework and child-rearing. By abolishing wage- labor and achieving full unemployment we undermine the sexual division of labor. The nuclear family as we know it is an inevitable adaptation to the division of labor imposed by modern wage-work. Like it or not, as things have been for the last century or two, it is economically rational for the man to bring home the bacon, for the woman to do the shitwork and provide him with a haven in a heartless world, and for the children to be marched off to youth concentration camps called “schools,” primarily to keep them out of Mom’s hair but still under control, and incidentally to acqui re the habits of obedience and punctuality so necessary for workers. If you would be rid of patriarchy, get rid of the nuclear family whose unpaid “shadow work,” as Ivan Illich says, makes possible the work-system that makes it necessary. Bound up with this no-nukes strategy is the abolition of childhood and the closing of the schools. There are more full-time students than full-time workers in this country. We need children as teachers, not students. They have a lot to contribute to the ludic revolution because they’re better at playing than grown-ups are. Adults and children are not identical but they will become equal through interdependence. Only play can bridge the generation gap.

I haven’t as yet even mentioned the possibility of cutting way down on the little work that remains by automating and cybernizing it. All the scientists and engineers and technicians freed from bothering with war research and planned obsolescence should have a good time devising means to eliminate fatigue and tedium and danger from activities like mining. Undoubtedly they’ll find other projects to amuse themselves with. Perhaps they’ll set up world-wide all-inclusive multi-media communications systems or found space colonies. Perhaps. I myself am no gadget freak. I wouldn’t care to live in a push button paradise. I don’t want robot slaves to do everything; I want to do things myself. There is, I think, a place for labor-saving technology, but a modest place. The historical and pre-historical record is not encouraging. When productive technology went from hunting-gathering to agriculture and on to industry, work increased while skills and self-determination diminished. The further evolution of industrialism has accentuated what Harry Braverman called the degradation of work. Intelligent observers have always been aware of this. John Stuart Mill wrote that all the labor-saving inventions ever devised haven’t saved a moment’s labor. The enthusiastic technophiles — Saint-Simon, Comte, Lenin, B.F. Skinner — have always been unabashed authoritarians also; which is to say, technocrats. We should be more than sceptical about the promises of the computer mystics. They work like dogs; chances are, if they have their way, so will the rest of us. But if they have any particularized contributions more readily subordinated to human purposes than the run of high tech, let’s give them a hearing.

What I really want to see is work turned into play. A first step is to discard the notions of a “job” and an “occupation.” Even activities that already have some ludic content lose most of it by being reduced to jobs which certain people, and only those people, are forced to do to the exclusion of all else. Is it not odd that farm workers toil painfully in the fields while their air-conditioned masters go home every weekend and putter about in their gardens? Under a system of permanent revelry, we will witness the Golden Age of the dilettante which will put the Renaissance to shame. There won’t be any more jobs, just things to do and people to do them.

The secret of turning work into play, as Charles Fourier demonstrated, is to arrange useful activities to take advantage of whatever it is that various people at various times in fact enjoy doing. To make it possible for some people to do the things they could enjoy, it will be enough just to eradicate the irrationalities and distortions which afflict these activities when they are reduced to work. I, for instance, would enjoy doing some (not too much) teaching, but I don’t want coerced students and I don’t care to suck up to pathetic pedants for tenure.

Second, there are some things that people like to do from time to time, but not for too long, and certainly not all the time. You might enjoy baby-sitting for a few hours in order to share the company of kids, but not as much as their parents do. The parents meanwhile profoundly appreciate the time to themselves that you free up for them, although they’d get fretful if parted from their progeny for too long. These differences among individuals are what make a life of free play possible. The same principle applies to many other areas of activity, especially the primal ones. Thus many people enjoy cooking when they can practice it seriously at their leisure, but not when they’re just fuelling up human bodies for work.

Third, other things being equal, some things that are unsatisfying if done by yourself or in unpleasant surroundings or at the orders of an overlord are enjoyable, at least for a while, if these circumstances are changed. This is probably true, to some extent, of all work. People deploy their otherwise wasted ingenuity to make a game of the least inviting drudge-jobs as best they can. Activities that appeal to some people don’t always appeal to all others, but everyone at least potentially has a variety of interests and an interest in variety. As the saying goes, “anything once.” Fourier was the master at speculating about how aberrant and perverse penchants could be put to use in post- civilized society, what he called Harmony. He thought the Emperor Nero would have turned out all right if as a child he could have indulged his taste for bloodshed by working in a slaughterhouse. Small children who notoriously relish wallowing in filth could be organized in “Little Hordes” to clean toilets and empty the garbage, with medals awarded to the outstanding. I am not arguing for these precise examples but for the underlying principle, which I think makes perfect sense as one dimension of an overall revolutionary transformation. Bear in mind that we don’t have to take today’s work just as we find it and match it up with the proper people, some of whom would have to be perverse indeed.

If technology has a role in all this, it is less to automate work out of existence than to open up new realms for re/creation. To some extent we may want to return to handicrafts, which William Morris considered a probable and desirable upshot of communist revolution. Art would be taken back from the snobs and collectors, abolished as a specialized department catering to an elite audience, and its qualities of beauty and creation restored to integral life from which they were stolen by work. It’s a sobering thought that the Grecian urns we write odes about and showcase in museums were used in their own time to store olive oil. I doubt our everyday artifacts will fare as well in the future, if there is one. The point is that theres’ no such thing as progress in the world of work; if anything, it’s just the opposite. We shouldn’t hesitate to pilfer the past for what it has to offer, the ancients lose nothing yet we are enriched.

The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps. There is, it is true, more suggestive speculation than most people suspect. Besides Fourier and Morris — and even a hint, here and there, in Marx — there are the writings of Kropotkin, the syndicalists Pataud and Pouget, anarcho-communists old (Berkman) and new (Bookchin). The Goodman brother’s Communitas is exemplary for illustrating what forms follow from given functions (purposes), and there is something to be gleaned form the often hazy heralds of alternative/ appropriate/intermediate/convivial technology, like Schumacher and especially Illich, once you disconnect their fog machines. The situationists — as represented by Vaneigem’s Revolution of E veryday Life and in the Situationist International Anthology — are so ruthlessly lucid as to be exhilarating, even if they never did quite square the endorsement of the rule of the workers’ councils with the abolition of work. Better their incongruity, though, than any extant version of leftism, whose devotees look to be the last champions of work, for if there were no work there would be no workers, and without workers, who would the left have to organize?

So the abolitionists will be largely on their own. No one can say what would result from unleashing the creative power stultified by work. Anything can happen. The tiresome debater’s problem of freedom vs. necessity, with its theological overtones, resolves itself practically once the production of use-values is coextensive with the consumption of delightful play-activity.

Life will become a game,or rather many games, but not — as it is now — a zero/sum game. An optimal sexual encounter is the paradigm of productive play. The participants potentiate each other’s pleasures, nobody keeps score, and everybody wins. The more you give, the more you get. In the ludic life, the best of sex will diffuse into the better part of daily life. Generalized play leads to the libidinization of life. Sex, in turn, can become less urgent and desperate, more playful. If we play our cards right, we can all get more out of life than we put into it; but only if we play for keeps.

Workers of the world… RELAX!

This essay was written by Bob Black in 1985 and is in the public domain. It may be distributed, translated or excerpted freely. It appeared in his anthology of essays, “The Abolition of Work and Other Essays”, published by Loompanics Unlimited, Port Townsend WA 98368 [ISBN 0-915179-41-5].

Dom’s Shortcut Crepes & Crepes with Ham Swiss & Sweet Potato Hash

Posted in Food on February 27, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

 

 

Dom’s Shortcut Crepes & Crepes with Ham Swiss & Sweet Potato Hash

 

This is really 2 recipes the first of which i can take no responsibility for i got it off of one of the SomethingAwful.com GoonsWithSpoons forums. It is a flawless foolproof crepe; if you can make French toast you can make perfect crepes every time. I know how to make crepes the hard way but i never will again. The second recipe is what i did with it, preferring savory crepes this is my preference but you can use the aforementioned shortcut crepes for any sweet treatment, eg. Banana’s foster, Nutella & honey etc.

 

For shortcut crepes,

Ingredients,

10 flour tortillas (yes tortillas. Yeah i know i was skeptical too but I’m standing behind this one. Oh hell just try it it’s not like they’re expensive, but they HAVE to be the flour kind not the corn ones)

1 cup of half & half

3 eggs

3 tablespoons or so grape seed or soy oil

 

This is simple as anything, briefly soak the tortillas in the throughly whisked mixture of eggs & half & half, then throw on a hot skillet throughly greased with any high smoke point oil (i prefer grape seed oil) on both sides. That’s it perfect crepes every time.

 

O.k. Now you have 10 perfectly good crepes piled up, this is one of the things i like to do with them, it’s quick & easy & of course flexible & leftover friendly.

 

Ham, Swiss & Sweet Potato Hash filled Crepes

Ingredients:
10 crepes

½ pound of sliced ham of your choice

½ pound swiss cheese slices

an ounce or so of ranch dressing

1 small onion

a couple of cloves of garlic

½ ounce of honey

a healthy squirt of yellow mustard

3 cooked sweet potatoes or equivalent

butter

2 tablespoons paprika

a dash of cumin

and yes Mrs. Dash it makes me hate myself i know.

 

It’s pretty simple the only thing you have to cook (other than the crepes) is the sweet potato hash. Take either baked or even leftover sweet potato fries.

Start by sweating the onions & garlic in some butter.

While it is cooking dice your sweet potatoes.

After the garlic & onions are cooked, take the diced sweet potato, and add to the pan and brown, adding all the dry spices and sautee being sure to really brown the edges.

Once browned add the honey and mustard to the pan & mix, then remove from the heat.

 

Now that you’ve finished the Sweet potato hash,

take your crepes and lightly brush with your favorite ranch dressing.

Then take your sliced ham and put some in each crepe,

add a slice of swiss down the middle of each crepe,

then finally add some for the sweet potato hash to each crepe & roll up and serve to the undeserving masses.

 

 

I’m working on a bunch of other crepe applications that i’ll be posting, however, now that you know the dirty secret of perfect crepes please comment as you come up with your own crackpot ideas.

 

2-26-09

dom’s stuffed peppers

Posted in Food on February 24, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

 

Dom’s stuffed bell peppers

 

Here is another bit of leftover necromancy. This is a perfect way to use up any leftover seasoned rice, orzo, cous cous, etc.; it works well with leftover rice & beans, fried rice from Chinese take out or as the last time I made it, orzo cooked with veggies, tomatoes & beef neck bones. I’ll tack on an easy rice/pasta dish that makes a great filling base at the end.

 

Ingredients:

 

8 bell peppers

1 quart seasoned rice/pasta leftovers

1 pound ground chuck (though any ground meat will do)

2 onions

¼ cup olive oil for sweating

5 cloves of minced garlic

1cup stock

salt & pepper

½ pound of frozen chopped turnip greens or spinach

some Mrs dash (my guilty pleasure)

cumin

parsley

a dash of allspice

some turmeric

some breadcrumbs

a little grated cheese (I strongly recommend Romano or Parmesan)

a few ounces of whatever wine is around the house

 

So here we go, carefully cut the tops off of the bell peppers, discarding the seeds and taking the flesh around the edge to dice & add to the onions and garlic sweating in a medium sized pot.

 

Add the ground meat and just barely brown it (since it will be baking for a while) after the meat is ready add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste.

Let it simmer for a brief time and allow to sit and cool; this will make it easier to deal with when you stuff the peppers as well as give the starches time to absorb the liquids.

 

When the stuffing has cooled, take a large baking dish or casserole (it should be just large enough to place all the peppers in with preferably a half inch or more between them)and add a splash of olive oil, a couple of ounces of wine and a dash of salt.

 

Prepare the peppers by rubbing them inside & out with some olive oil; the easiest way is to put some on a napkin and rub the peppers, it helps to prevent burning and adds a little seasoning.

 

Not surprisingly stuff the peppers with the cooled mixture and place them in the baking dish then sprinkle a liberal amount of breadcrumbs and grated cheese on the top, patting it down to prevent a mess.

 

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for an hour checking every 20 minutes to make sure nothing is burning. You might have to add a splash or 2 more wine if necessicary I know I have to do this since my oven has a mind of it’s own.

 

For extra credit, once you remove the peppers from the pan and turn the liquid into a nice pan sauce by adding a touch of roux and olive oil.

 

So here is the super quick and easy rice base for the peppers should you be leftover lacking.

 

2 cups rice or similarly sized pasta

1 can diced tomatoes with liquid

turmeric say a teaspoon

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (i recommend the Italian mix, and canned will work in a pinch, it depends on what’s on sale after all)

some olive oil

3 cups stock (any kind will do)

1 diced onion

3 cloves minced garlic or equivalent

season to taste (you know my usual suspects)

 

Simply add the liquids and vegetables and cook the starch in it until it absorbs the liquid, it’s a great & versatile side dish on it’s own.

 

Hope you like it

dom 2-24-09

shu’s pumpkiny chicken & dumplings

Posted in Food on February 22, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

 

Shu Shu’s Pumpkiny Chicken & Dumplings

 

anybody’ s who knows (or has weighed me) knows that i am a man very used to eating well; as a sad result of this it is rare for me to try something and be be left in slack jawed delight. Shu makes chicken & dumplings fairly often as a tasty way to make use of leftovers, as it so happened a few days after halloween of 2008, we had several fortuitous leftovers that needed to be used immediately and so we now have this ridiculously good and fairly simple meal. So away we go.

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil for sauteeing

4 cups of chicken stock (either homemade or canned)

2 8 inch x ½ inch strips of salt pork, (now if not available equivalent amounts of UNSMOKED bacon or for non pork people-I’m thinking you Nick…lol… 4 8 inch by 8 inch sheets of kombucha is enough to give it salty unctuous goodness or roughly 1 ounce of schmaltz-rendered chicken fat available in the kosher isle)

2 roasted leftover chicken leg & thigh, though any part of amount of roasted chicken from anywhere & throughout the carcass and picked from the bone would work.

3 fresh ripe tomatoes, though 1 or 2 cans of diced or whole would probably work.

1 medium onion

half a head of garlic or roughly 4 tablespoons of such

6 ounces of red wine

1 bag of mixed frozen vegetables, thawed (any mix could work but i recommend the southern mix)

5 tablespoons of Parsley

salt

The diced flesh of 2 fresh pumpkins roughly 8 inches in circumference or 1 larger pumpkin of unremarkable size.

1 can of pumpkin pie mix

1 ½ cups of whole wheat all purpose flour

 

bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil and add diced pumpkin in a large stock pot.

 

For the dumplings simply mix the can of pumpkin a good pinch of salt & the 1 1/2 cups of flour together and roll out to roughly 1/8th of an inch in thickness, like if you were making ravioli, and cut into 2 inch squares then toss into the boiling mixture of stock and pumpkin.

 

At the same time as you are boiling the pumpkin & dumplings, sautee onions, garlic, salt pork and tomatoes, when they are browned add red wine, the mixed vegetables, the chicken, and a pinch of salt to taste.

 

Lastly add the chicken pork & vegetable mixture to the larger pot of stock pumpkins & dumplings and stir & simmer briefly. It’s that simple and absolutely fantastic.

 

 

11-5-08

the smiths singles

Posted in music on February 22, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

 

The smith’s singles album

After years of being a smith’s fan this was the first album I actually bought of theirs, it was at the Camelot music in the long dead fashion mall back in the fondly remembered days of having expendable income. I first bought this album back in 1998 and I’ll always associate it with a particular time in my life, as well as with what was probably my most significant love affair back when I was 23 years old. I’ll have the decency to leave her name out of this (even though we are still very close friends) since I’ll assume she’d rather not have the whole of the Internet knowing that she’s a former paramour of mine—as if anyone but my friend Scott reads this who knows the entire story names included anyway. I’ve always had a touch of a contrarian attitude about the smiths, you see everyone always thought them so depressing and perhaps it’s because I’ve a rather twisted sense of humor I’ve always found the lyrical content rather tongue & cheek. In admission, I am also the only person I know who considers the smiths appropriate “make-out music”, so again I have a unique perspective. So feel free to read on and heckle only where appropriate.

1. Hand In Glove. The classic Johnny marr jangle in the background as the vocals sneak in. When I hear this song it’s always a here we begin sort of feeling. I love the delightfully pretentious feel of the song and admittedly whenever I hear this album my first association is traveling on a cramped greyhound bus for a ten-hour ride to visit the aforementioned girlfriend in the intro to this piece. I always saved this cd for when I only had an hour or two of that grueling cramped & unpleasant ride left. It was expensive, inconvenient aggravating…and at the time worth every cent. Whenever I hear this song it just reminds me how madly in love I was with that woman at the time, I chuckle now since I’m a rather jaded old man by comparison now but it brings a smile to my face.

 

 

2. This Charming Man. This just might be my favorite smiths song, the lyrics are amongst the smith’s most blatantly homoerotic…lol… so of course I know all the words. It’s one I always used while developing my seldom heard but surprisingly good Morrissey impersonation. I also will place the bass line amongst my favorites ever, it’s a really fun song to play, and while I’ve jammed on it countlessly through the years in breaks in band practices, I’ve yet to play it live. (Which is something I’ve always wanted to do) I think it sums up much of the entire smiths aesthetic for me.

 

 

3. What Difference Does It Make? I absolutely love the intro to this song. In the US Johnny Marr is one of the most underrated guitarists ever; nobody can do a great bunch of arpeggiated chords like him. It also makes a great timeless counterpoint to Morrissey’s Wildeian vocals. A great pop song and a great song to really learn something from as a musician.

 

 

4. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. This is the smiths at their most cartoonish and delightful. The first time I heard this it was crammed onto the end of a mix tape that my fellow chucky cheese alumni sadj, made for me back in 93. I loved it then and I still do. The lyrics are clever the hood addictive and it’s always a joy to sing along with badly while running errands.

 

 

5. William, It Was Really Nothing. More upbeat delightful pop. When I hear it I think of being on a greyhound buss watching the dreary landscape of northern Florida passing by, exhausted but anticipating seeing aforementioned girlfriend (henceforth AG in this rambling bit of prose). The guitar sparkles, the feel to me is optimistic and joyous, simply a great song.

 

 

6. How Soon Is Now? Here is a song that is so magically good it always kind of makes me hate myself, because I’ll never write anything like this ever. It’s a song I’ve listened to countless times and it is a masterpiece. My associations with it far predate AG; what comes to mind is being 17, 18 years old or so, just starting to go to clubs and the moments when I was able to sneak into the edge in downtown fort Lauderdale back in those magical days of the ft Lauderdale scene. I remember with photographic clarity wandering around the second floor of the long gone edge, the lights the smoke the music, hearing this with the cool older friends who snuck me in, enjoying one of my first illicit vodka tonics (still my mixed drink of choice when I choose to indulge in clubs) with shivers running down my spine. This is definitely one of those songs I’m sure resulted in serendipity since it stands out so much from the smith’s catalogue. Johnny marr messing about with a tremolo effect and the rest is history. I absolutely love this song & everything about it. Even now I’m singing along badly with enthusiasm.

 

 

7. Shakespeare’s Sister. More than any other song song this album I associate it with the trip to visit my AG. Hell it says, “I’m going to meet the one I love at last at last” it’s not much of a stretch. For me it really was the soundtrack of the anticipation, longing and even the trepidation of that moment in my life. I hear it & I’m on a greyhound again a mess of nerves and hormones.

 

 

8. That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore. To a degree I always thought this as a bit of a response to the bee gee “I started a joke”. It’s a dreamy and beautiful song and I love it. I also have a few associations set in cluttered bedrooms on riverfront property…those I’ll keep to myself.

 

 

9. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. I love this song to death, and I actually learned this song recently on ukulele, partially for fun and partially as a thank you for the smiths loving friend of mine who was nice enough to give it to me… In the unlikely event you read this I promise I’ll play it for you very soon. It is a song I have a great time playing and the lyrics are brief enough for me to actually remember.

 

 

10. Bigmouth Strikes Again. Probably one of the wittiest songs in the smith’s catalogue. My favorite was the line about Joan of arc’s “walkman starting to melt”. The pitch shifted backup vocals are also a nice touch. This is a song that makes me specifically think of a hazy night spent in the long defunct nemesis, nightclub, after many, many, many vodka tonics.

 

 

11. Panic. As a live musician I’ve always had a bit of an attitude towards djs as commercial fishermen had towards sharks…unwelcome and unappreciated competition, however, even though I’ve mellowed I do sing along quite enthusiastically with kill the dj. I love the song, it’s clever it’s catchy and I wish I could exercise the same amount of restraint in my arrangements… then again that is why I tend to flourish best as a sideman, it keeps me from turning everything into a hyperkinetic bass tour de force.

 

 

12. Ask. Another song I love (I hate to keep saying this but I love every song on this album) I just can so relate to every word in the song on a personal level. It makes me think of when I was living with AG and to this day I regret blowing the “bunny girl” opportunity that Easter so many years ago. Clever lyrics great arrangement something to learn a lot from.

 

 

13. Shoplifters of The World Unite. Again great comical Morrissey lyrics. Only the smiths can take a musical arrangement this theatric and make a line like that work. Simply a song I absolutely love that also kind amazes me hate myself.

 

 

14. Sheila Take A Bow. Somehow they channel great 50’s British pop & transmute it into something brand new & delightful. Great greasy guitar lines and a hook that could catch a marlin.

 

 

15. Girlfriend In A Coma. Here’s where I sound sick but there is no way you can convince me that this wasn’t written as a parody of love songs. I love the song, great string arrangements memorable lyrics and a supernatural ability to keep a straight face on Morrissey’s part.

 

 

16. I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish. A great swaggering rock song and I love it. Nothing more needs to be said a great song.

 

 

17. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me. Teenage angst and broken dreams a la mode. The smiths at their most melodramatic. The tension set up between the keyboard and the prolonged intro set up things perfectly. These guys really knew what they were doing and they did a great job. This one admittedly doesn’t crack me up; this to me is the soundtrack to along broken heart. Beautiful.

 

 

18. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. A bit of hope from the boys. Catchy and delightful. It captures to me the naiveté of young love.

 

Thank you for reading this it’s an album that means the world to me and even rambling on as I have I still haven’t expressed my love of this album.

 

 

shadows collide with people

Posted in music on February 22, 2009 by kingbiscuitpants

Shadows Collide with People

this is an album by my much beloved john frusciante, this album has definately been a soundtrack of my life and has meant a great deal to me from when i got it in late july of 2005 when i was in a turning point of my life, about to move from boca and the life i led there back towards home, freedom and uncertainty. it’s a beautiful album, it’s the 4th i believe in his 6 albums and 6 months cycle and one of the most heavily produced but fantastic.

track 1: this first song carvel is one of my favorites to sing it’s a fantastic song filled with great and dramatic ideas and it all builds up to the last part which took me weeks to be able to kit the notes towards the end. the lyrics are ambiguous yet it touches me so closely on so many levels that i can’t even understand. it’s (in my mind) about loss and uncertainty, and acceptance of yourself and the world and rising to the path in front of you fearlessly. the line “all the good times are on their way” is a message of hope t me that it’s not too late to make good on you r life and live it on you own terms. the first time i heard this song i was blown away, at it’s power and honesty. the first time i sang the big creshendo part ending with the line “and i wouldn’t have it any other way” it felt like my head was turning inside out. i had only been singing about a month and to hit the notes end you have to compltely let go and go for it with all you’ve got. it taught me to be fearless on stage and release everything but the performance. and further reminds me how John’s music made a singer out of me.

Track 2: omission is one of the first songs gregg and i ever performed live. both of us sing it ; gregg taking the higher pitched part and again it was one that forced me to hit notes i never thought i’d be able to. it’s a perfectly crafted song that i love to cover that (again to me ) seems to be a celebration of humility. it was the second song i ever sang live at chocolate moose cafe on that open mic and i i’ll al;ways look back on it fondly.

Track 3 i regret my past: another heartbreaking and beautiful song. it’s honesty and agony strikes a chord with me because in many ways i regret my past as well (at least parts of it) yet like the rest of the album there is an implied hope and redemption in the arrangement. i don’t think that gregg & i have ever covered this one live but we learned it and often play it when we’re hanging out. when in sing it i do get pretty misty.

Track 4: I was afraid to be me: oh god, this one really spoke to me. when i hear this i think of walking back and forth to work when i was living in boca in utter misery, essentially living a life that was the opposite of what i was, i was living lonely, trapped and guilt ridden in an unwinnable situation. but again there is a hope the line ” i’m a flame in the night” reminded me that there was a part of me still pure and honest to myself. it helped me to realize that regardless what people expected of me and regardless how “well” i did in a life the antithesis of my personality i had to be honest withe myself and live accordingly.

Track 5: second walk: this song is 1 minute and 45 seconds of pure joy to me and was the fisrt song i ever sang live. this more than any other song on the album sums up my life when i left boca and started my live over again. to me this is an affirmation of life the entire song is E minor F# and A minor . the song is entirely about starting over with grand results. knowing what i know about john frusiante and his struggles with addiction and other problems i took it as his coming to terms with his past and present and celebrating the now. i cannot express how much i love this song.

Track 6: i don’t know the title of this song, but again it’s a beautiful showcase for john’s voice. it’s a song that elevates and inspires me.

Track 7: this song really sets the stage for the next. it’s at the same time orchestral and simplistic it was performed on a vintage analog synthesizer. i could never write someting this minimalistic, but it fascinates me.

Track 8: wednesday’s song: another great singer songwriter number. i love the drums and the subtlety of the arrangement. it is another one of the songs that really influenced me as a vocalist as well as a songwriter. it is dramatic, and minimalist, broadway yet pop. the kind of song only john can write. every verse section is an exercise in arrangement. withe the various elements drifting in and out of the focus. it also strikes me a s a beautiful love song.

track 9: a great old fashioned rock and roll song. it makes me thin of barreling down the highway on a road trip. it just sounds like freedom to me. i also especially love the bass line on this song as it’s rollicking and free. it is a song that makes me smile and makes me want to run to my bass and notebook and write something new.

Track 10: this instrumental makes me think of the Van Halen solo piece called “cathedral” off of their 3rd album. i like the dreamy effect and again it’s almost like the leibmotif from an imaginary opera.

Track 11: song to sing when i’m lonely: this song just has a sweetness and again a raw honesty to it. it makes me think of the good things about love an friends. like all of the the songs on this album acceptance and hope ring throughout the piece. i so enjoy playing it. it’s simple and perfectly arranged. further reinforcing this album in my mind as one of those textbooks on how to write great songs.

Track 12: just another fantastic song. every song on this album just lays me bare. i especially like the drums and bass on it. the instrumental bridge with it’s arpeggiated chords just sends me drifting. the ambiguity of the lyrics are filled in by the expressive music behind it. it’s a song that makes me think of standing on a pier by the beach in the dead of night during winter. the cold wind in your hair and bracing against your face; hands kept warm in your pockets gazing into the black expanse of ocean interrupted by the shine of sreet lights in the the horizon.

Track 13 another synth heavy instrumental intro that makes me introspective. when the lyrics come in floating naked over an acoustic guitar… it’s is simply beautiful nothing else. as the song progresses it seems to celebrate the agonies of communication and the joy of reaching out to another person and risking embarassment to connect with them..

Track 14: a great uptempo song that starts with john’s falsetto range. it then turns into a great rock song, tough but still very sensitive but without dulling it’s edge. the bass line is great, the dynamics help to shift view from voice to voice. i really need to do this one life some time as it is a load of fun. the dichotomy between compositional control and the bacchanalian freedom of the guitar and keith moon styled drrumm arrangement really sells this song to me.

Track 15: beautiful acoustic and delicate arrangement with a jaw droppingly perfect bass line that helps to drive the mood and melody of the song. i believe that flea plays bass on it but don’t hold me to it. the imperfection of john’s voice only adds to the honesty and drama of the song. without a doubt if it wasn’t for john i would never have had the courage to begin singing… and i am grateful for that gift.

Track 16: i’m not me anymore…. oh boy, this is another song that really sums up my experience before i left boca and the misery there to start my life over… every time i heard the line i’m not me anymore i felt it like a knife. i han’t een my self for years by the time i heard this and it summed up many of my feelings.

Track 17: another atmospheric and instrumental instrumental. especially following i’m not me anymore it would sometimes lesd me to tears.

Track 18: the slaughter; no there is nothing wrong with your cd player. this is a beautiful love song in m mind even though the lyrics are so ambiguous. it’s the sort of song i would put in the soundtrack of a movie if i was editing a scene about missing someone far away (sound farmilliar…laugh…). it just has a sweetness and beauty to it that reawakes the soft sensitive side of me and makes me think of longing, connection and affection.

and so this is what i have to say about shadows coolie with people; one of my favorite albums and one that i listen to very very often. i hope you enjoyed it and i also hope you found my perspective on it interesting.