I don’t know about you. But lately I’ve been starting to break, physically beginning to feel the mental and emotional strain caused by an unshakable intuitive feeling of fear that we’re deliberately being f*^ked with by some higher power or unstoppable force from beyond. Can’t say for sure what specific event it was in the last few days….
One would think by the time we spiraled from unfathomable numbers of deaths from a global virus into 3 months of being forcibly locked in our homes into a Great Depression-level economic collapse simultaneously contrasted with a frighteningly imbalanced wicked-seeming illogically bifurcated financial market into black lives finally mattering a little but not enough revealing a disturbing innate national racism yielding masses of protests for weeks on end down into a very sudden and discomforting disappearance of national leadership into a gutter of inanely childish and crazy behavior coming out of the White House on an hourly basis with far too many stories about a deranged self-obsessed psychopath occupying the position of POTUS (once considered “the most important job on earth” but now unanimously viewed as a laughing stock by the rest of the world) much of it coming from his own fellow Republicans — with fear not logic or nobility being the only apparent impediment to the whole lot of them banding together to publicly concede they made a terrible and dangerous mistake, meanwhile the other side of the sinister corporate duopoly that controls the entire country of 360 million people are attempting to run a man who it appears may not make it to the election let alone through a presidency and they won’t budge on their pick despite the overwhelming disinterest in him — the pressing question being WHY?!? — reported simultaneously with stories of a rapidly deteriorating and corrupt justice system and “serious concerns that the current president may be the biggest threat to national security by top military brass” simulcast with eerily under-covered impending wars between China and India, China and Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, China and Japan, Europe considering banning Americans (?!?), “white power” competing with “black power” for slogan of the year in a democratic republic allegedly the most proudly culturally diverse “melting pot” on earth, statues coming down faster than can be counted, Americans with guns lots of guns, Iran (jeez, seriously guys, now?!?) and Israel (seriously guys, now?!?) global food shortages, global food supply poisonings, random fireworks and gun shots every night for hours accompanying a triple digit increase in gun deaths and a constant onslaught of pandemic deniers and conspiracy theories flooding social discourse every day by normally intelligent folks but which boggle the mind… The hope of reopening quickly fading as the deniers are fast-morphing into the walking dead claiming “there’s nothing wrong with us. Stop staring at us. We’re fine,” pulling out their shotguns and rifles as if to signal “yes we’re as stupid and crazy as you’ve always Imagined, now go on and git”
But frankly I was doing okay. In spite of it all. Just doing my thing. Trying to survive, keep my family alive healthy and happy, maybe make a difference here and there when i could. And then suddenly I start getting these random messages from various friends around the world, normal intelligent well balanced folks usually, sheepishly talking about their recent bouts with anxiousness and depression… my initial response being “yeah of course man… the world is on fire… it’s normal… just try to hang on…it’ll get better.”
And then suddenly it starts hailing at around 6 pm. Out of nowhere on a hot wet sweltering steaming summer day, frozen ice starts falling from the sky. The sound is piercing and deafening. I keep wiping my eyes, opening and closing them, assuming I’m seeing things. Maybe i took a nap and I’m dreaming. It’s 90 degrees outside. How is there ice falling from the sky?
But we’re still not talking about the insane fact that the US military quietly admitted that it’s been seeing UFOs in the skies for a few decades now a few months back.
The problem isn’t all the bad news. It’s the overwhelming quantity of it, combined with the new surreal strangeness of it all and the fact that it’s so damn alarming out of our hands and weird that most people are going numb to it. I get it. Eat sleep work eat sleep work. Invent a God because there’s no visible way out of this insanity at our level. Note to self: add prayer to eat sleep work. Maybe it’ll help.
And our kids. God our poor f*^king kids. That whole generation… All three of them really… I keep trying to underplay how bad everything is when they break down and cry and mention it… I try to play it cool, like we all had our problems. This is no different.
It occurs to me that none of this is new. What generation hasn’t felt this way since humankind first awoke to self awareness on planet earth? Frightened confused boggled overwhelmed terrified. Sumerian Babylonian Persian Greek Roman Jewish Christian Muslim Gods were all constructed from such base human feelings.
Compared to the Ice Age or the so called Dark Ages or the Plague surely we have it better… It’s become a daily meditation. But honestly… the thought though completely rational doesn’t make me feel any better. How is it for you?
When it first happened I was at a spanish language school for a semester down in Costa Rica. With a bunch of mainly Europeans. We watched it happening live on the news like everyone. The Euros immediately jumped at the chance to make comments like “serves them right” or “it was only a matter of time”. And though I understood the sentiment, it was too horrific for me to go down that path in that moment. I was more in shock, and worried about all my friends in NYC.
The only other American at the school, a college kid named Heath, and I got called to the American Embassy in San Jose, where we stayed with a bunch of other Americans, tourists and fishermen mostly, for a number off hours. Eventually released and told it would be a few days before we could fly back to the US. Told not to go out and cause any trouble. Keep a low profile.
So off we went to a brothel where we spent the next two days passing the time trying to drink and fuck the pain away. What the Euros at our school didn’t understand was that although we were every bit as aware of and cynical about the last two-hundred years of violent American imperialism, America was still our home. Americans were still our friends family and neighbors.
When i got back to the States we hit the studio to finish working on the Sleep With You album. But we interrupted those sessions to record a song to help donate to various 9/11 charities. That songs being “Rebuild America”. What I was taken with the most back then was how resilient the country was in the face of such a horrific event. How much it unified us. We didn’t get down or depressed. We got all flagged up, amped up and proud. At the time it felt better than going dark.
So the song ended up being more patriotic and uplifting than our normal fare. I still find it hard to believe that a song called “Rebuild America” is associated with us/me in any way. If you would have told me five to ten years before that that I’d have a single out in the future called Rebuild America i would have asked “is it ironic? Did I lose my mind? Or go mad? Did i lose my cool?” If you would have then replied “no not at all. America got attacked. Like Pearl Harbor scale attack. You did the song in earnest.” Yeah. Perhaps I would understand.
Critics used the song as easy pickings to chastise me for a few years after. Implying that it betrayed “coolness”. Perhaps it does. But I don’t regret it. Because it was real. You had to be there. I always thought that was a cheap shot. Because that event was such a viscerally upsetting moment for many of us. And we needed the release. Regardless of where we lined up on the political fence, it hurt.
There was, looking back now, such a strong subconscious react to that kind of intense shock and violence that manifested in extreme positivity and patriotism. Even for those of us who knew the dark seedy underbelly of United States foreign policy. I had never seen anything like it, that kind of avid patriotism. Maybe Rocky IV Cold War era stuff.
Of course it all went down hill quickly from there and we turned all that patriotism into more violence and empire building. Used it as an excuse to finally take over the rest of the Middle East region of the globe sans Iran, and Saudi Arabia, where the attacks actually originated from, but as they say thou dost not shit in your own backyard and the United States has had Arabia in its backyard for fifty years. Hence allowing one little family to prop up a dictatorship and add their name “Saudi” to the name of an entire country. Disgraceful. But whatever.
further on down the road we learned about the dubious nature of the events themselves… and many now believe it to be an inside job. See the documentaries called Loose Change on youtube. But for a brief moment at least we saw potential in America. It just didn’t last. Very sad.
I saw the planes crash into us
I saw the people cry
I saw the buildings come crumbling
I saw the rescuers sigh
I saw the president weep
On national TV
I saw the volunteers sweeping
To clean the New York City streets
As we try
Yes we try
To rebuild America
The land of our fathers
The land of our mothers
We are not alone
“Rebuild America” by Ed Hale & the Transcendence
Three days ago I heard the song “Superbacana” by Caetano Veloso for the first time… or at least it was the first time that I “heard” it, really listened to it. It blow me away. It’s off his Tropicalia album, the one that really shook the earth beneath all of Brasil and started the whole Tropicalismo or Tropicalia social and political movement there. (Along with equal contributions from Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes and Tom Ze and Gal Costa and others.
Anyway, I do what I always do. I listen to the song ten to twenty times in a row, analyzing the lyrics and the poetry of the beautifully perfect Portuguese language, still in my opinion the most poetic of them all (and yes, being Italian and speaking Italian and French and Spanish etc. I know what a betrayal that may sound like… but there’s just something transcendent about this language, both in how it sounds to the ear and in how the words and phrases are strung together…. Obviously a subjective thing. I’ll give you that.) I then do a quick translation to English to see if I missed anything. Wow, what a fucking song that is. Simple. Fun. Light-hearted. On the surface. And yet still a Dylanesque social protest song. And the way he spits the lyrics out so fast. Truly genius.
Then I spend three days transcribing the chords, listening to it over and over again. Searching the internet for anyone who has ever transcribed the chords to just get some help with it. But no one has. And this song is 50 years old! I WhatsApp a friend of mine in Brasil to ask him about the song. He tells me “yeah bro, not many people know that song. Not even here in Brasil. It’s only hip with super hip people. It’s not like a popular song, like so many of his….Good luck with that. But I really hope you figure it out, because I can’t wait to hear you sing it with your strong funny Portuguese accent!”
I’m going to include some links below so you can listen to the song on YouTube. Because it’s just that good. Bear in mind, it’s 1967, so it still has elements of that orchestrated pop of the sixties, plus elements of the popular bossa nova style happening in Brasil at the time (think Tom Jobim) and yet it also has this frantic rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it and a sort of folky protest theme to it as well. A very hip tune. The whole Tropicalia album by Caetano is brilliant. A definite must-have.
When you analyze the lyrics, basically Caetano is saying “You all act like you don’t even know I exist, but I believe you’re pretending. Not only do you know I was born, but you also know that I am super fucking cool. (Superbacana literally translates to “super-cool”). And he uses the song to rally against the bourgeois class currently occupying Copacabana and the government with all their big spending on technology and other things that he doesn’t believe help him or the people of the country. But in the end he and his people are still super-cool regardless.
When I first discovered it, it reminded me of the song “ManChildWoman”, the way he’s just overtly bragging, very rock ‘n’ roll swagger… Which I admit I do a lot of from time to time in certain songs… It’s all in fun…. Just to catch a groove and ride it. But after studying the song more, I believe there’s more to Caetano’s “Superbacana” than just empty bragging like “ManChildWoman”. Truly. It’s more Dylan. The bragging is more asserting his existence against an authoritarian regime that refused to acknowledge their existence for so long. It’s a life or death kind of “I believe in me” type of thing. Whereas I was there when I wrote “ManChildWoman” (at least I think I was…as much as I could be considering…) and there was no life or death vibe in my mind. I remember. It was more just “I believe in me mother fucker yeah!” They both have their place. It’s rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all important. As important as rock ‘n’ roll can be.
I’m still trying to figure it out. Learning the chords. Trying to learn the phrasing of how he spits out those lyrics so fast. It’s a brilliant piece of work.
Anyway, check it out. It’s a hip tune. Truly special.
Today I woke up and quickly but begrudgingly remembered that there was an Occupy Seattle rally happening downtown. From where we live, way out in the rural burbs (one would be hard pressed to call this the burbs truth be told… houses are separated by blocks if not miles and the nearest store is a few miles away…) I was well aware that trekking to downtown Seattle for an early morning march would take about an hour. Besides all the prep work and getting showered and dressed. Seemed like a lot of work and honestly I just wanted to sleep in. But the thought haunted me…. Was it really okay if we just skipped this rally? More apt, would WE be okay if we just skipped it? How would we feel afterwards? It didn’t feel good.
I remember it. Be. Do. Have. One of the multitude of platitudes I heard on the path to enlightenment pre-avatar course. Pitched as an easy path to create the life of your dreams. I was intrigued by the vibe. Also felt that like a Zen koan in that it could be interpreted in a variety of different ways.
I remember reading an article in the avatar journal when I was still young, but keenly chasing the path to awakening, by a man named Keith Varnum, who as fate would have it would years later turn out to be my masters master. In the article he explained why affirmations and pretending and even prayers don’t usually work that great for reality creation. Because you’re trying to install new beliefs (software) smack dab on top of older beliefs (an older OS). You have to get in there and dislodge the previous program before you can install new software. You have to discreate prior created beliefs before you go trying to create new ones if they directly oppose each other. Logical.
I was in my teens at the time. It would be a few more years before I took the Avatar Course. But what he said made perfect sense to me at the time. It helped me understand why affirmations and prayers and “be do have” didn’t work that well, and inspired me to take the avatar course as soon as I was able to. The ability to not just control what is happening to us, but to create and discreate the underlying beliefs. This was a revolutionary idea back then. Still is to most people. Sounds like voodoo. But after 20+ years of practicing using the knowledge and tools and countless courses, I can attest that it’s very real. In reality we change our beliefs all the time in the real world. Perhaps not deliberately, but we do. It’s not that mind blowing. more “Be Do Have? Not So Much”
This is the very first photo taken of Ed Hale and Nahal Mishel-Ghashghai together — three days after they met for the first time. The picture was taken on October 15th, 2002 in a hotel ballroom during a 2002 Avatar Course in Orlando, FL. They came from two different worlds, one an engineer and soccer mom who emigrated from Iran; the other an all American rocker boy. She was calm and cool. He was fast and furious. And between Miami and Seattle, they couldn’t live further apart. But the two became instant best friends from the very moment they met in those first few minutes they spent working together on one of the Course’s consciousness exploration exercises.
It’s interesting to me that both of these — being gay AND being Christian — are identities. And then I wonder – What is the value (or the agenda, perhaps?) in a public *display* of an identity? I’m thinking of the Avatar Masters’ Integrity Course materials….
Yeas, totally. Why bother spreading identities all over the place when it would be better for the enlightenment of the world to let loose with a whole lot of them so we can all become more idendentityless pure awareness so as to achieve less strife, drama and pain and instead increase peace and civility in the world… I’m with you. I get what you’re saying. Other than one being pure Source or staying in “Observe Mode”, it’s ALL identities.
For me, well thought-out (and/or FELT-out…), deliberate identities are how we navigate the day to day world as creative beings. (I’d personally LOVE to just float around in Observe all the time. Probably wouldn’t get much done (see LD book). But it would be fun. So we strap some on that we believe might help us shift the world in an aligned helpful direction… there… that feels good. And off we go to do our best to make the world, and ourselves and our friends and families lives better…The best that we can do.
Specifically about a few identities, I don’t believe that being gay (or most likely a few or all of the LGBTQ labels) is an identity as much as a genetic thing. In a broad sense, sure. I was born “male” and have exhibited a lot of male identity traits through the years (as well as a ton of female identity traits, much to the confusion of my family and friends through the years). And yes, when they’re not deliberate they can be impeding. But overall, I’ve got “maleness” down. And I’m comfortable with how I express that identity. I am after all “male”. So presenting various different aspects of “maleness” (identities) is pretty natural. (Again, especially when examined lovingly and objectively and worn deliberately.).
I feel the same way about people who are born “gay or straight”. If we look at being born “straight” for a second, PLENTY of people are born that way but have a TOUGH time dealing with all the identities that come with it. You know, sexuality and gender identification in general… It’s hard for all of us at first as we breathe forth from young adulthood into becoming full fledged lifers. So it’s not like “gay” people are THAT different really… We all struggle with these things. Identities. I guess more in which identities we choose to wear or which ones just seem to wear US, and how we present that to the world…..BUT…there does seem to be an exception for people who are currently and have been waving the PRIDE flag high. (I too gave this a lot of thought through the years — especially every time I attend a Pride parade…) Because they were being labeled so maliciously and with such prejudice, I believe that turning the potential “shame” that can come from those experiences into PRIDE, being proud to be gay, not shying away from it privately or publicly, gave them a newly born sense of, well, pride, happiness, self respect, dignity. And voila it HAS worked! Gay is not so “bad” as it once was 20 to 30 years ago, or hell, even 10 years ago. They just let that flag fly and they changed consciousness. And in that respect, those public displays helped. The agenda was clean, the mission clear, And they’re damn close to accomplishing it. Everyone who has participated should feel proud.
What about the “being a christian” identity? Lord I know… for me personally that’s a tough one. Because I’m more the type who keeps that kind of thing on the DL. BUT every now and then I deliberately pull it out with a clean clear mission, an agenda if you will. Sometimes it’s to show a different side to the identity of “being Christian”. Hell, if I can’t show people that “all Christians aren’t the same, don’t think the same way”, then no one can. So as a gift to my community AND the larger community of all religious people, AND to the world at large (because let’s face it, a lot of pain and struggle stems from religion in our world still….) I put on the brave face and wear my religion/spirituality publicly and deliberately just as a way of showing that sometimes it can be a really groovy and beautiful scene being religious and being a part of that community. It’s a service.