Thursday, August 31, 2017

Death and Cars and Rock 'n' Roll

Please don't be alarmed.  Please don't take this the wrong way.  I'm not suicidal.  Far from it - I'm probably the opposite of suicidal, whatever that is.  And this isn't a cry for help or a threat or a warning or anything like that.

But sometimes I wonder that if I were going to commit suicide, how would I do it?  And most every scenario I come up with involves some combination or another of my car and music.

I'm not into guns, and any method of suicide that involves either burning, freezing or strangulation sounds too scary and/or painful.  Overdosing seems popular but you always run the risk of not doing it right and winding up some sort of vegetable or in a psychiatric hospital and worse off than you were before.  

But there are three methods I've come up with that sound intriguing.  Here they are, in order of decreasing probability (which in my case are all exactly zero, because as I said, I'm not suicidal). Also, don't try any of these at home, kids:
  1. Slam-Dancing With a 18-Wheeler - In this fantasy, I'm in my car (just like I am in the other two fantasies), and in this case I'm listening to music.  Loud.  Very loud.  And something fast and aggressive, like the SF psych-punk band Thee Oh Sees.  With the music blaring full blast out the open windows, I find a way to jump into the wrong lane of traffic on an Interstate Highway, usually I-85 in Atlanta, and try to swerve and avoid as many on-coming cars as I can while I accelerate to full speed and drive head on into the first 18-wheeler truck I can find.  We're both going well over 60 mph and the end, at least for me, is fast and certain.

  2. Thelma & Louise - This one is a lot more specific and will take a lot more planning, but at least it doesn't involve taking other people out with me like the previous fantasy probably would.  I find a spot on the rim of the Grand Canyon where I can drive my car off the edge and into the abyss like in the movie Thelma & Louise.  Once the spot is found, I very carefully measure the precise distance away that I need to be so that I can start driving as fast as I can while playing the Swans' song Into The Sun and arrive at the edge (and the end of my existence) at the exact moment that the song hits its climactic crescendo and the chorus is singing "Suuuuun!" for the last time (you have to know the song to understand that reference), and my car and I boldly leap into the afterlife.  If I can time this to also occur exactly at sunset (or sunrise if I'm driving from the west), so much the better.

  3. The Comfy Way - This one's a lot less violent than either of the previous two fantasies.  I simply park my car in a snug garage, open the windows, leave the engine running, and let the carbon monoxide fill my lungs while I listen to my favorite folk-rock and indie songs on the stereo.  Since I don't myself actually own a garage, a variation involves attaching a hose to the exhaust pipe and running it into a partially open window but leaving all the other ones shut tight so that the car itself fills with carbon monoxide to take us to the other shore.  If I do this at home, I can leave a message in the mailbox politely informing the mail-person not to be alarmed but if she finds this message it means there's a corpse in the car in the driveway, and to call 911 or whatever before some innocent passerby is traumatized by finding a dead person in their neighborhood.  Also, she can help herself to whatever she wants in the house before the police arrive - I won't mind as I won't be needing any of it anymore.
So to repeat, these are just fantasies, morbid meditations on the unthinkable, and not anything I'm planning to do.  But if I were . . .  it obviously would involve my car, which I probably should just go ahead and rename Charon now for the ferryman in Greek mythology who transported the dead to the underworld.     

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Taffy Burns

It's my Mom's birthday!  Wish her a happy one, everybody, and wish her many more to come.  She's survived raising four children, a World War, a Cold War, innumerable smaller wars, conflicts and skirmishes, several Republican administrations, the suburbs, a marriage, a divorce, a career that paid for my college education (thanks, Mom!), and dramas, traumas, and tragedy that I probably don't even know about. And she's faced all this with her humor and kindness intact, and can still beat me any day of the week in a mean game of Scrabble (my theory is that she cheats, but I haven't yet figured out how).

Anyway, happy birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

While my heart goes out to the poor, suffering people in and around Houston, I have to admit that the massive low-pressure cell southwest of Atlanta has brought down some cool Northern air, and temperatures and humidity have been nicer these past few days than they've been for a while.

But what I was going to say is that when the heat's back on - and it will return, I assure you ("summer is coming") - there's probably no better game with which to escape the temperatures than Skyrim.  Set in a medieval Nordic fantasy realm, complete with Alpine mountains, glaciers, and lots and lots of snow (and even the occasional walrus, polar bear and saber-tooth tiger), it just feels cool and refreshing if you let yourself get pulled into the fantasy.  It feels like the room temperature drops 10 degrees when you fire up the game.  

I can't imagine what it's like playing in the real winter, on a cold day, when you can see your breath.   

Monday, August 28, 2017

For Once, Good News

In this time when many American cities are grappling with the issue of Civil War monuments and statues of openly segregationist politicians and wondering whether to leave them up or take them down, Atlanta today unveiled a new statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.   


At the State Capital.

At the high-visibility intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Capitol Avenue.

I agree with Trump that we should preserve these "beautiful statues and monuments," at least in this particular instance.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Fela 76

According to the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, "The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites."  Neste vídeo capa vou mostrar a música Mister Follow Follow do album Fela Kuti Zombie (1976).

Friday, August 25, 2017


I took the back roads home from Jekyll Island today.  Above is an abandoned apiary in Gardi (Wayne County), Georgia, and below is an abandoned gas station in Brunswick.

The land was flat and the roads straight as an arrow for long stretches.

A last shot of the overly landscaped grounds of my hotel on the island.

If you're wondering why I headed home on a Friday when the weekend was just beginning, I was on Jekyll for an environmental conference on Wednesday through Friday.  By Friday - today - I had sampled enough of what the island had to satisfy me, and besides, it was too hot and humid to even sit out by the sea. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Let's Go To The Beach!

It's 325 miles from Atlanta to Jekyll Island, or roughly the distance from Boston, Massachusetts to Wilmington, Delaware, but I made the trip this morning in about five hours and spent what was left of the day at the Jekyll Island Convention Center and the restaurant at the Westin.

Another fun-filled day awaits tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

All things have potential. Potential existed before the cosmos came into existence and potential will exist after the collapse of the cosmos.  Potential is independent of space and time.

In potential, there is no understanding of what potential is and no one to understand or not understand potential.  In potential, the universe itself is eternal, peaceful, selfless, and whole, and while the nature of existence is impermanent and interdependent, in potential the universe is eternal and unchanging. Given all that, potential is: 

Neither existent nor nonexistent,
Neither that which has been created nor that which has not been created,
Neither something sacred nor something profane,
Neither matter nor anti-matter,
Neither that which is named nor that which is unnamed,
Neither phenomenal nor non-phenomenal,
Neither "is" nor "is-not",
Neither substantial nor insubstantial,
Neither cause nor effect,
Neither opposite nor identical,
Neither bright nor dark,
Neither appearing nor non-appearing,
Neither eternal nor temporal,
Neither disruptive nor non-disruptive,
Neither beginning nor without beginning,
Neither past, present, or future,
Neither logical nor illogical,
Neither of the realm of the senses nor beyond the realm of the senses,
Neither caught in the web of interdependence nor free of the web of interdependence.

It's as if I said that outside right now I have the last thing you'd expect. In that case, whatever you think it might be that I have outside would not be the "last" thing you expected, as another guess would always follow, if not immediately then as soon as I said, "No, it's not that thing either."  The more you keep guessing, the further away from knowing what it is you'll be, and the Zen-like nature of this is that as soon as you quit and stop trying to guess what it is, as soon as you no longer care, then there will have been a "last expectation" and you'll know what it is.

As soon as you stop trying to understand potential, potential will understand you.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tonight, on the eve of a total solar eclipse across the North American continent, it's worth remembering how in 1973 the Sun Ra Arkestra lifted their instruments in commemoration of the appearance of the Comet Kohoutek, an infrequent visitor to this part of the solar system.  It should also be noted that if Sun Ra were alive today, he'd hope that the eclipse would remind the whole world that we all occupy the same small isolated planet, and that we should put aside our petty differences in honor of the greater mysteries of the universe.

The truth is rarely expressed more openly or more explicitly than by an eclipse.  It literally shows us where we are in the cosmos.

Regardless of whether you listen to this song or not, some people will hear this message and some people won't.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Two Long Videos That Are Worth The Time It Takes To Watch

After waiting two days before finally giving a half-assed condemnation of the horrific events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, yesterday (Tuesday) Trump reverted back to his original "both sides are to blame" position.

The reversal of his position reveals his true feelings about the matter and falsely implies a moral equivalency between the hate speech and terroristic act of murder by the alt-right with the unfortunate violence of those protesting the hateful rhetoric.  His false equivalency clearly empowers and emboldens the alt-right.  “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth,” David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, responded on Twitter after the president's remarks.

Keith Olbermann (above), in his usual prosecutorial tone, explicitly lays out the problem here and the failure of leadership in the Trump presidency.

The video below seems like it's from forever ago, but it's actually less than a year old.   The very fact that it seems so dated reflects how much else we've been through as a nation in the past 10 months.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

As noted here several times, since June 25 I've been spending the lion's share of my spare time playing the game Fallout 4.  For a change of pace, last night I downloaded and started playing a new  game, Skyrim, apparently the fifth release in the Elder Scrolls series.

Skyrim is produced by the same creators as Fallout, so the game-play and the user interface are quite similar.  In fact, they're so similar that as I was playing last night, I couldn't help but compare and contrast the two games, generally concluding, "Well, that's just like Fallout, only not as good."  I'm sure that as I get sucked into the story line of Skyrim the comparisons will stop and I'll get hooked.

Or is the hook already set?  I started the download and set-up at around 7:00 p.m. and was playing by 8:30.  After I poked around a little bit and started the story, I looked up at the time to see how I was doing and realized it was already 1:00 a.m.

Damn.  Not fun getting up for work today.

Monday, August 14, 2017


In my long life, I've managed to live through Presidencies of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and a couple of Bushes, but never have I seen a president fan the flames of racism, sexism, bigotry and intolerance like Donald J. Trump.  

The blood of the tragic events of Charlottesville are on the hands of the President for emboldening and encouraging the alt-rights' actions, from the birtherism and race-baiting of his campaign speeches, to his appointment of alt-right champion Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist, to his xenophobic and racist policies and proposals on immigration, affirmative action, and voting rights.

The only ray of hope in all of this is the sheer repugnance of the alt-right's recent actions has spurred a new wave of protest and has definitively confirmed that we must rid the nation of the current Administration.  

There were spontaneous marches and protests yesterday across the country, including here in Atlanta, where a group of patriotic protesters marched from downtown to midtown's Piedmont Park, where they spray-painted a statue of a Confederate soldier.  There's also an on-line petition to rename Atlanta's "Confederate Avenue" to something more appropriate, such as "John Lewis Avenue."

Is it too soon to revisit Thor Harris' advice on punching Nazis?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Waxahatchee at Terminal West, Atlanta, August 11, 2017

Well, we did it!  Friday night, we actually stopped toiling at work/playing Fallout 4 long enough to get our fat asses out the door and finally go see to see a live show.  And it was a great one, fortunately, and thus encouraging for us to go out again and do it some more (we've been on a run of very occasional but good shows lately, including Washed Out at Variety Playhouse and Lonnie Holley at Eddie's Attic).

Opening the show was Baltimore-by-way-of-Athens' Outer Spaces. 

As the opening band so often is, Outer Spaces was a totally unknown entity to us, but we really liked the trio (singer/guitarist, drummer, and keys - no bass).  Frontwoman Cara Beth Satalino has a strong and clear-enough band to project over the drums and her own jangling guitar, and I'll be so bold to say that they have next-big-thing potential and with a little more exposure, they might be headliners of their own some day soon.

We saw the mid-bill band, Boston's own Palehound, a couple years open for an equally terrific band, Bully, at The Drunken Unicorn in one of the best shows of that particular year (2015, I think, but it might have been early 2016).

It would be an understatement to say that Ellen Kempner, Palehound's vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter, can do just about anything but seriously, is there anything she can't do?  During their set, her singing ranged from a pretty, indie folk-rock voice to growling blues and fuzzed-out punk, she laid down some stinging electric guitar lines when the song called for it, and she even brought it all down for a couple spare, intimate songs in the middle of Palehound's set (during the 2015 show, she was on stage alone for this part of the set; Friday night, the band just provided minimal accompaniment).  The set opener, Healthier Folk, is a pretty good example of the range of Palehound's sound.

So that was cool, and if that was all there was to the show, we would have gone home happy, but wait, as they say, there's more!  The headliner was Philadelphia-by-way-of-Alabama's Waxahatchee.

Waxahatchee is singer/guitarist Katie Crutchfield (for the umpteenth time, the whole evening consisted of female-fronted bands), and it probably didn't hurt the quality of the harmonies that her backup singer was her twin sister, Allison (who also put out a terrific album of her own earlier this year, and who opened for Waxahatchee when we saw them at Aisle 5 last year).  The band sounded incredibly tight, polished, and well-rehearsed, not hitting an off note or suffering a misdirected moment the entire set.  If one judges the quality of a live set by how similar the band sounds to their studio recordings, one would have been very impressed by Friday night's performance.  This is clearly Waxahatchee's moment, as their latest record, this year's Out In The Storm, is in our opinion their best yet and potential breakthrough recording, and on Friday night, Waxahatchee was clearly in command of the new material. 

So anyway, that was cool.  Three great sets by three great bands, including one new discovery (Outer Spaces), one all-too-rare appearance in Atlanta by one of our favorite New England bands (Palehound), and the witness of an artist hitting the peak of her creative abilities (Waxahatchee). 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thor For Governor

Percussionist extraordinaire, frontman for Thor & Friends, past member of Shearwater and Swans, occasional drummer for Adam Torres, and all-round nice guy Thor Harris has announced that he's running for Governor of the State of Texas.  His reason, according to his Twitter feed, is " 'cause fuck this."

I don't think he's kidding.  In the past, Harris has been an outspoken advocate for veganism, LGBT rights, and access to abortion and other reproductive health-care services for women.  In a follow-up tweet, Harris challenged incumbent Texas Governor Greg Abbott by asking "Hey Gov Abbott, guess why Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate BY FAR?"

The video below got him banned from Twitter, at least temporarily.

Finally, because we here at Water Dissolves Water believe one's art describes a person better than one's words (it's not what you say, it's what you do), here's a video from a performance last year by Thor & Friends (we saw them a few months later at Eddie's Attic of all places).

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Remember that we will all eventually die.  Any one of us could leave life right now. Let that determine what we do and say and think.

My wish is that Sun Ra were still here to advise us, console us, and guide us.  We miss him dearly, and right now in this very moment of history, we need for him to sing this song to Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. 

BTW, I'm sure you realize this, but looking at a world map, the only route for missiles to go from Pyongyang to Guam (or vice versa) passes right over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which just goes to show we don't ever learn anything from our past.  

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

To Be Honest

I have to admit that my old Kentucky pal (actually, it would be more correct to say my Kentucky old pal, but that sounds funny) is a lot bolder than my old Canadian pal, but with a slight adjustment to the recipe, my old Kentucky pal is just as smooth.

Ask your bartender if you don't understand what I'm saying.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Hot and Cold

Amidst the stifling heat of the hot and humid summer of 2017, a draft copy of the updated National Climate Assessment, prepared by scientists from 13 federal agencies, announces that the average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, that recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, and that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report is a direct contradiction of claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.

“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” the draft report states.  The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate change on land and in the air. “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote.  A copy of the draft report is available from The New York Times.

So in the midst of this heat and predictions of more to come, it's worth remembering that December 7th, 2013 was one of the coldest nights in the recorded history of Portland, Oregon.  On that night, the orchestral folk-rock band Typhoon collaborated with La Blogothèque and a handful of talented musicians to film A Takeaway Show in an empty Portland warehouse.  Sadly, the release of the video was hampered by unforeseen circumstances and the project was shelved indefinitely.

Until now.  The video of the December 2013 performance was finally posted on YouTube on July 31 of this year.  According to La Blogothèque, "It was the coldest weekend that Portland had in decades. It was so cold that we were genuinely concerned that some of the instruments wouldn’t play right. But as soon as Kyle and the band started playing, that fear quickly subsided. It was almost as if Kyle conducted the temperature in that room the same way he conducts his band: with grace, love, and a gentle wisdom that only he holds— and it’s inspiring and jaw-dropping to witness live."

As La Blogothèque notes, any fan of Typhoon will tell you how much their music means to them. "It’s personal, it’s sincere, and it makes you tackle emotions you hold deep and don’t take out very often. And for that, they are magic."  It's magic enough to bring out a small audience to a secret show on the coldest night in decades, and it's magic enough to make this video worth the 3 1/2 year wait.

With all that in mind, above is a warm video on a cold night in a hot period of Earth's history.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Okay, so the main reason I haven't been posting very much here as of late is because I've been spending almost all of my free time playing Fallout 4.

It's an understatement to say that the current generation of computer games is addictive.  As proof, I'll point out that just like any true addict, I've not only been spending all my free time playing but I've even been concocting bullshit reasons to leave work early to have still more free time for playing. I've been skipping shows, even ones to which I've bought tickets in advance, to spend more time playing. I've been skipping housework and yardwork and paying bills on time for more playing time, and the only reason my cats get fed is because they interrupt my game playing by jumping on the keyboard when it's dinnertime.

These games have become more and more realistic and engaging as they've evolved from arcade games like Space Invaders and Pacman to video games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers to the current crop of computer games, which have evolved from linear narratives like the Tomb Raider series to sandbox games like Fallout, and I haven't even begun to explore virtual reality games yet.  

As technology improves on its exponentially accelerated rate, these games will only become more and more realistic and more and more lifelike, even to the point where in a century or so, if not a few dozen years, they will become indistinguishable from reality, not only to those playing the games but also to the other characters in the game, and virtual existence will seem exactly the same as base-level reality existence.

In fact, there are those who've proposed that we ourselves may be part of some future computer simulation.  How would we know?  At some point in the future, not only would there be computer simulations where each character (e.g., you and I) be sentient and self-aware, but over time there would be thousands, maybe millions, of these simulations run.  There might even be simulations where the characters in the matrix would be creating simulations of their own (games within games). Given all that, it's nothing but the purest of hubris to say that the so-called reality in which we happen to exist is the one true reality and that all others are artificial.  Mathematically, it's statistically more likely that we exist in a future computer simulation than in the one base reality.

But I digress.  I've been spending most of my free time playing Fallout and not posting.  Didn't mean to ignore you.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

In Which I Write A Quantum Limerick

Apologies for the lack of recent posts here.  I'll catch you up on the few things I've been up to lately (it's really not much), but in the meantime, here's a limerick that I wrote

The speech of Ms. Emily Wright
Could exceed the known speed of light.
She'd launch into a tale
And then without fail,
She'd finish the previous night.