Spring 2011 Photography by Vaughn Brown

9 04 2011

Here are some recent shots I’ve clickety clicked here and there over the past month or so. The weather has been so weird this spring! Isn’t it supposed to bring us warmth and flowers? We have rain and snow. Maybe I’ll get to the turning colors next month.

This is a photograph of a part of a drawing I did about twenty years ago. I used to draw a lot but when you stop doing something for a long time you lose it. I should start to draw or paint again. It’s a good outlet.

I’ve been playing this harp for a few months now. I’m not great, but I can fake it pretty well in bursts. Just don’t ask me to play with a band because I don’t know any songs and can barely play the C major scale on the thing.

Self portrait, need I say more?

I took this from inside the train while it was rounding a corner. I likes.

This amazing shot was taken just walking down the street in Riverton after a snow storm. The sky was clearing up and the mountains looked amazing. Utah has some of the most spectacular, natural beauty this planet has to offer. What a blessing it is to witness it every day.

This is part of another of my drawings. A collage of thought and the over-active imagination of youth.

This is the guitar I’ve been playing the last few months. I wish I caught on to guitar when I was younger the way I get it now. It makes sense now that I understand more theory and scales.

The blade

Does this need an explanation? I took it at the railroad tracks looking toward the capital building.

When you zoom in on your hand and enhance it with Photoshop a lot more lines show up than you see by just looking. I wonder what it all means.

My pal Chad’s incredible, quilted maple, Ibanez hollow body. I love this guitar, it sounds as good as it looks.

And last but not least…what does that even mean? These are my friends from the SLC band, Alias Code. L to R: Brian, Wes, Kajol, Joey, Chris. Amazing band, energy and talent.

Spencer Gee recently replaced Kajol as the vocalist and the band changed its name to The Stranger Beside Me.  I like the name a lot.

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Daniel Johnston

29 03 2011

DanDaniel Johnston is one of my favorite artists.  If you’re unfamiliar with his work, to see one of his drawings or listen to one of his recordings you likely wouldn’t be terribly impressed.  But after hearing more of his work it becomes apparent that Daniel Johnston is an inspired visionary.  He is not the best performer in comparison to some more accomplished artists but if you have an understanding of what Daniel Johnston is about and what he lives for, his performances take on a whole new meaning.

Art and music flow from Daniel like water down the Nile.  He is unstoppable and it is as though he can’t help but create music and art.  He has many recurring themes throughout his art, mostly of battles between good and evil and the same themes run through his songs.  Much of what he sings about has to do with his affection for a never gotten love interest named Lori.   He met her in his youth and followed her with a video camera as his way of worshiping and admiring her.  He did get her to say, “I love you Danny” but that was only to satisfy him and she eventually went on to marry an undertaker who he used as the subject of many songs.

His mother would lecture him endlessly about his slothfulness and call him an unprofitable servant of the Lord (he would call himself an unserviceable prophet) as he spent all of his time drawing, writing and recording.  Daniel grew up with faith in his religion and a profound fear of hell and damnation.  He spoke often of Satan and the torment of the devil in his songs and in his conversations and lived in fear of losing his soul.  One therapist said about Daniel, after analyzing his drawings, that he is surely going to heaven because it’s obvious he has already been to hell.

Daniel finally realized one of his life long dreams by accident when MTV profiled the Austin music scene in the mid eighties.  Dan worked his way in front of the cameras, was interviewed and eventually given a spot live on MTV performing his songs.  The world was finally introduced to Daniel Johnston and his career began to bloom. But Daniel perceived the experience as a dichotomy or paradox in that MTV was serving the devil but there he was on MTV, just like he said he would as a kid.

When Dan was still pretty young he began to develop bi-polar disorder which became so severe he spent a lot of time in and out of many mental institutions.  He changed suddenly from a happy and care free young boy to a troubled and self loathing youth.

When he was in New York City spending time with the members of Sonic Youth he had a severe episode and was again sent to a mental facility.  He was accidentally released on a clerical error and found himself at CBGB that evening and opened up for the LA band fIREHOSE.

Daniel Johnston had many extreme episodes of mania where he would essentially lose touch with reality.  One time he was in his father’s private airplane, his father piloting and he turned the engine off and threw the keys out the window.  The airplane crash landed in the trees and both were uninjured.  Another time he whacked his manager over the head with a lead pipe three times.  Daniel has been quoted as saying, “I whammed him, I whammed him good“.  After these episodes he again found himself committed to mental institutions where he realized the horror of what he had done.

As Dan got older and into his forties he went back to living with his parents, taking his meds and focusing on writing and playing music.  Dan tours the world and elsewhere performing his music to the delight of devoted fans.  Sometimes his shows are sub-par and sometimes they are purely brilliant.  True fans love his performances either way.

God bless Daniel Johnston.  The poor man has been tormented all of his life and he has produced some amazing art and beautiful songs.  Over 400 artists have covered his music including Beck, fIREHOSE, Sonic Youth, Death Cab for Cutie, Tom Waits, David Bowie, Built to Spill and Pearl Jam.

Daniel’s life has been chronicled in the movie “The Devil and Daniel Johnston“.  It spans over twenty years of Daniel’s life as he had recorded most of his life on video and audio tape.  Learn more about Daniel Johnston at his fan site rejectedunknown.com

(some images used without permission of the artist)





Freedom of Choice and the Consequences of Liberty

7 03 2011

We all stand on the principles, as Americans, that we are a free people and that we have our liberties; freedom of choice and liberty of will.  These are rights granted to us by our constitution.  We claim them as unalienable rights, granted to us by divine providence through the laws of Nature, Virtue and common Morality.  These are the principles of the Anglo Saxon pioneers who founded this land and established our first colonies and these are the principles our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Adams and George Washington followed after in drafting the timeless and inspired documents of freedom and independence that we stand on to claim these freedoms from oppressive government rule locally and around the world.

When these freedoms are encroached upon by unrighteous governmental dominion we have the responsibility as citizens of this great republic to speak our minds and make our voices heard in the halls of education, administration and before the judges who stand in place to enforce our laws and interpret our constitutional rights and freedoms.  Our administrators and judges are not in place to exercise dominion over us or to enforce laws upon us without merit or justification.  And when we find ourselves being subjected to restrictions by our government officials based on the laws that they have enacted for the gain of power and control over the freedoms of the commonwealth of the people, we have a responsibility to be informed, to understand our laws, to understand our constitutional rights and to stand up and be heard so we as brothers and sisters do not fall to the tyranny of government oppression.

I find it troubling that too many people in this day and age complain about the ills of society, about what they see as not fair or what they claim as unconstitutional, or what new laws they claim should be enacted by congress and interpreted by the courts.  These are mostly based on precedents set by previous judgments by higher courts and powerful lawyers, bending our freedoms to the wills of lobbyists and powerful special interest groups who do not serve the interests of the commonwealth and only exist to increase their own wealth and fill their pockets by greed and by ruling industry and corporations, by raising taxes, by increasing costs and by controlling the supply of goods and services to the people.

I find it troubling that too many people, when they feel oppressed in any way look to the government for solutions to their societal struggles rather than looking within themselves for answers, to stand up in the face of tyranny and choose liberty and freedom of oppressive rule and excessive restriction to natural resources, jobs and the blessings of prosperity divinely granted over time as we have grown and prospered as a nation and throughout the world.

I find it troubling that too many people seek government rule as a means to an end of social problems when these problems have been created as a result of the people themselves exercising irresponsibly the constitutional rights granted them in our founding documents.

I find it troubling that rather than with reason and the acceptance of personal responsibility, too many people point their fingers in accusation against others and find fault in the actions of others rather than looking inward for solutions to the things that trouble them.

We are not responsible for the actions of our fellow citizens, but we are responsible for the actions of ourselves and we are responsible as citizens of this free republic to hold our fellow citizens accountable for the abuse of their freedoms and their irresponsible and selfish behavior when taking advantage of unnecessary government hand outs and misguided solutions to societal ills and social problems.

We are responsible to defend the freedoms and rights we are granted in the constitutions of our own states, our community charters, the rules enacted by our local administrative bodies and the freedoms granted by the constitution and bill of rights of this nation.

We are responsible to be familiar with the words of our constitutions; our state and national constitutions, our bills of rights, the laws enacted by our legislative bodies, the powers that our elected officials are exercising over us and the rules of the judges and the precedents set by them by their interpretation of the arguments of lawyers which in many cases are presented only to justify the poor decisions of their wealthy clients and to line their pockets with the money these greedy individual can afford to pay them.  To get away with their unethical acts by circumventing the rule of law based on precedents established by the twisting of words and misinterpretation of our freedoms and liberties stated in our founding documents.

Changes in our constitutional freedoms come about by the actions of the people and the special interests of those who have power given them by their status in society because of their wealth.  For no other reason than that they have the ability to reward those who will hear them because they can most quickly satisfy the greed of the bureaucrats and line their pockets with filthy lucre rather than provide and enforce our already established laws and defend our freedoms and liberties as a great commonwealth of a virtuous and moral people.

It is time for us to stand up and be informed.  It is time for us to stand up and be educated about the things that are happening in the halls of congress and the  legislative powers that we have elected, who are now enforcing greater laws, taxes and oppression on our heads in the name of correcting problems in a private society brought on by the greed of special interest groups such as the pharmaceutical companies, medical industry and insurance conglomerates.

It is time for us to stand up and solve these problems with private industry, with technology, with the bright minds of our educated youth and the coming together of people who have vision for our future and the survival of this great nation.  To never let the oppressive rule of government bureaucracies encumber our ability to thrive and progress as a nation, as a people, as families and as individuals in our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

It is time for us to come together and stand in defense of our constitution, to cast our votes responsibly and to elect individuals who have a correct understanding of morality, ethical standards and virtuous character.  To elect individuals who have their eyes and minds set on a course of healing, of progress and of constructive management of resources and who will enforce our laws as they have been established without unnecessarily enacting greater laws as some disingenuous solution to misunderstood or misinterpreted laws already passed or because of the uninformed and ignorant complaints of lazy people; to satisfy their own desires to retain the power of their offices and their status as government officials.

It is time for us to elect officials who will stand up for our freedoms to progress and to pursue life, liberty and happiness without oppressive taxation without representation, who will not encumber our progress with governmental bureaucracies established by the lust for power and for the creation of comfortable positions of status over our communities and our society.

It is time for us as a people to remind our officials that they have been elected by a commonwealth to be public servants and that they have not been elected so that they can sit in their positions of status as paid tyrants to enforce unjust restrictions over our freedoms of divinely granted will.

It is time for us to take back our states and take back our nation and take back our freedoms.  It is time for us to take back our communities.  It is time for us to take back our families from educators who grant themselves authority over our children by the mandates of the unions and the rhetoric and agendas of special interest groups who wish to control the minds of our youth to meet their ends.  To satisfy their greed and their lust for control because of their want to excuse themselves from ethical and moral behavior based on the tenets of virtue and moral character as written in our founding documents and stated by our founding fathers.

It is time for us to remind our educators and the authorities of education that we are the parents of these children and that we have given them the opportunity to educate our children and to teach them reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies, history, art, music, athletics, debate and language arts and that we pay them by our taxes and that it is our right to determine the discipline and exercise of moral authority over our children and over our families.  It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children correct principles of morality, character and virtue within the walls of our homes and to never expect our educators to be the proponents of these divine principles.

We must demand that our educators refrain from imposing their personal views of moral conduct and passive restriction on the freedoms, wills and minds of our bright and noble children and stop destroying their wills to create and express and grow into the amazing individuals who are the future generations of leadership and who will guide this country on into the future. Our children should be taught to be standards of liberty and freedom throughout the world, to spread democracy to nations around the world.

It is time!

(some images used without artist’s permission)





Sources

5 03 2011

During all the controversy I’ve created among my circle of friends and family with my thoughts and opinions I’ve come to find that they want sources for my insights.  I have failed to provide the sources of my research, therefore I am being accused of lying and making things up.

In the future I will start to cite my sources but for now I’ll say that all of what I have gathered has come from the study of a combination of sources.  Many of which will go against the  grain of many peoples comfort but these are my conclusions based on research of the best books I have found in life.  And one of the things I was taught as a child was to find truth from the best books, and I have held on to that as a standard of guidance for my life, to answer the questions I come up against throughout my trials and they have served me well as I now have inner peace and calm and I am in balance with what I believe is divine nature, God.

People in my life accuse me of many things but I have come to this by work, research, experience, living life, making mistakes, making choices, exercising reason and applying these things to my daily life.  These are all the things the people in my life who are accusing me of wrong doing are telling me to do, and I do them, and these are the results.  So why are they pointing fingers at me?  I think the confusion is with them, not with me.  I am fine and I am free.

My primary sources are the cannon of scripture from the LDS church.  The King James version of the bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, along with many translations of ancient Egyptian writings from the times of the pharaohs.  I also follow after the philosophies of the ancient Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, coupled with the reason and integrity of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and George Washington.

Recently I have been privileged to have been enlightened by the teachings of Dr. Bruce Lipton, a microbiologist who has done stem cell research  since 1967 and who has pioneered the new bio-science of epigenetics.

Thanks for following along.  Comments are welcome,  please check your anger at the door.  This is discussion of important matters that pertain to life.  Humor is welcome always!

(top image used without artist permission)





Thoughts on Subconscious Choice

2 03 2011

I have given a little more thought to the idea that  sexuality is determined by environment (from my previous post on Homosexuality) and want to elaborate a little on that matter.

I say it is determined by environment and that gives way for a need to define what I see as being the environment that provides the stimulus, which in turn creates the response toward sexual identity.  Environment is just that, environment.  It is everything outside of ourselves by which we are surrounded and influenced and affected.  Things act on us and we respond and react to that stimulus.

They come in many forms, some are words, some are thoughts we develop based on experience or perception and some are circumstances beyond our control such as accidents or trauma or surprise or just mere change as life plays out.

The interpretation of the stimulus is perception, and perception comes from the application of our emotion upon the stimulus.  Then, coupled with volition, which is our divinely given will (which is part of another discussion of Natural Law) a subconscious choice is made and identity of self is defined, and then the person acts in accordance to his understanding of self and the person develops identity and character based on this recipe for survival and perception.

I hope that makes sense as this is how I understand it and I am doing my best to present my understanding clearly because I think it is important that we, especially in our society in this 21st century come together in understanding and acceptance of people’s self identity; but also have the integrity to apply morality and responsibility to behavior and choice to uphold the fabric of our society and nation so we can continue to progress and thrive.

(image used without permission)





The Godfathers of Guitar

18 02 2011

There’s a progression in music, much like the generations that pass as we raise our children, pass on our values and go forward into the world, having influence on so much.  We might feel insignificant while we are bogged down in the drudgery and seemingly mundane detail of every effort it takes to produce what it is we are striving for.

But it’s all worth it!  It pays off, maybe not in the peak of our lives as we would like, but if we persist, endure and do it right our lives and what we create become a crescendo that builds a foundation for those who come after us.  What we do is not lost on the demands of daily life as long as we keep our eyes on the distant goal.

Before I get too far off course, I’ll reel my thoughts back in and start talking about a man named Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and only lived to the age of twenty seven, but what he did for music is something that cannot be measured.

This brings me to another point of irony; the great music artists who made a huge splash and shook up the status quo of music in their day, dying at the age of twenty seven.  Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain.  There I go again getting ahead of myself.  It’s all in my head, but I need to lay it out in some order for it to make any sense.

Everyone has heard the story of the guy who sold his soul at the crossroads for talent, fame and glory.  Charlie Daniels brought it to us and told the story well in his classic song, The Devil Went Down To Georgia.  Did you ever wonder where the story of Johnny and the Devil came from?  It wasn’t Johnny and it wasn’t a fiddle.  It was Robert Johnson with a guitar.

Robert Johnson was a good blues guitar player but he wanted more, he wanted to be the best.  He studied with one of the greats of the time, Son House and used to try to emulate his idol but was unable to play as well.  When Johnson was nineteen he disappeared from Robinsonville, Mississippi for several months and when he came back he had a new guitar technique that nobody had ever played before.

This is where the story gets told, that Robert Johnson, for his passion of wanting to play the guitar so well, took his guitar to a crossroad near the Dockery Plantation at midnight where a large black man appeared to him.  The man took the guitar from Johnson, tuned it, played a couple of songs, and gave the guitar back to him along with total mastery of the instrument.  He was given the gift he sought but in return for this gift Johnson exchanged his soul.

This story makes for great PR but there’s another story that is probably what really happened.  Another player of the time named Ike Zinnerman spent a lot of time with Robert Johnson playing in the local cemetery at midnight, reportedly because it was quiet and nobody was around to disturb them.  This is where Johnson honed his mastery of the instrument, and the cemetery isn’t a bad place to come up with a story about selling one’s soul to the devil in exchange for fame and glory.

With the fame and glory came a tragic end.  Robert Johnson had been playing a certain gig for a few weeks and was flirting with the juke joint owner’s wife.  The man offered Johnson an open bottle of whiskey (he had previously been warned to never accept an open bottle but replied to the man who told him that to never knock a bottle from his hand) and he drank from it.  Reports tell us that the bottle was laced with strychnine and over the next few days Robert Johnson fell ill and eventually died.

Robert Johnson did leave us with an incredible catalog of recorded music that artists of the future would learn from and grow with to produce greater and more influential musical creation for us to partake of.  One in particular, and the one who most all musicians would agree is the standard for rock and roll and blues guitar is James Marshall Hendrix aka Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix, November 27, 1942.  When Jimi’s dad came back from Europe after World War II he changed Jimi’s name to James Marshall, after his late brother, Leon Marshall.  I’m not sure where the James came from but I like it because we get Jimi spelled in that unique way.  Maybe it was just time to break from the chaos of the past and make things new.  Jimi always had a bright outlook on things and I think Al, his dad, was instrumental in teaching him correct principles.

On a side note, I had the honor of shaking hands with Al Hendrix in the fall of 1991 at a club in Seattle called the Rockandy.  It was a type of gig the Seattle bands put together to follow a theme of the godfathers of rock and roll and this night was Jimi Hendrix theme night.  Twelve Seattle bands came together to perform two Hendrix tunes of their choice and of their interpretation.  No, we didn’t have Nirvana or Soundgarden or Alice in Chains or Screaming Trees or Pearl Jam or Mudhoney or any of the huge list of big-shot Seattle bands you might wish were a part of this story; yeah, and I wish too!  How would that have been?  To meet Al Hendrix and watch Soundgarden knock out a couple Jimi covers for a six dollar entry?  But it wasn’t to be. Although we did get a dramatic performance from a band called The Sky Cries Mary, an obvious reference to Jimi’s song The Wind Cries Mary.  The Sky Cries Mary had some accolades and even made an appearance on the David Letterman show, but for some reason they didn’t receive the strong and wide spread recognition a lot of the projects coming out of Seattle did, which is a cryin’ shame because to be honest their expression through music was far more complex and layered than most everything else, especially at that time. They were never part of the ‘grunge’ scene, nor do I think they ever had any desire to be. They stood head and shoulders apart from the rest of the dank and dirty rock and roll genre that swept through Seattle at that time..

 
I sat with Roderick Romero, a member of The Sky Cries Mary, that night and we talked of musical expression, the layering of sound and the experiences obtained through the use of mind expanding particles introduced to the creative process. It is a conversation that has stayed with me through my life and throughout my creative endeavors. It was a great night, and I am grateful to have had that moment with him; he is an inspired and remarkable artistic visionary.

And there I go again, getting off track.  When it comes to music and the things I’ve seen, I can talk for hours and find myself down the goofiest tangents.

Jimi’s mom died when he was nine, from complications due to her alcohol abuse, and he moved up to Vancouver, BC for a while.  This is where he acquired his first acoustic guitar, from a pawn shop for five dollars.  His dad got it for him because Jimi had been air guitaring on an old broom stick and playing a broken ukulele his dad found while cleaning the garage.

Eventually Al rounded up enough dough to get Jimi his first electric guitar.  In 1958 he got a white Supro Ozark 1560 S, single pickup from Myer’s Music in Seattle, Washington.  He didn’t have an amplifier but Jimi did what he could with what he had and that’s why Jimi Hendrix is the legend he is today; because he felt it and what he felt, he was able to let out his arms and through his fingers, through his guitars and into our ears for the expansion of minds around the musical world.

Jimi took what the godfathers before him did, like Robert Johnson, Son House and Ike Zinnerman and added a new flavor to the mix.  It’s an evolution, and as society in Jimi’s day evolved in technology and industry, so did music in intellectuality.  Thank God Jimi Hendrix was there with his electric guitar to express this new knowledge given us from The Field in the form of music as the floodgates opened and the new energy rolled forward.  The minds who were paying attention and who would not immediately dismiss this new horizon as rebellion and sedition from normalcy opened to the influence of this musical microcosm that had previously existed only in science fiction and in the fantasies of artists.

He had the audacity to play The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, and regardless of what most white collar conservatives, flashing down the street, pointing their plastic fingers at Jimi believe, he did it as a tribute to this great nation, not as a desecration of something sacred as our national anthem.  Just because the squares of the day didn’t get it doesn’t mean his art form was nothing short of God’s grace shedding brilliant talent down on a generation of artists to shake up the status quo.  That’s not to say his lifestyle was anything to emulate; maybe something to be learned from, but the authorities of the day tried to dismiss what he was doing as a mockery when it was merely a new form of expression.  And to dismiss the art because of the artist is a shame.  If we were to do that then we might just as well throw out Mozart, Hemmingway and Van Gogh.

Jimi did live fast and died hard.  On September 18, 1970 at the age of twenty seven, Jimi Hendrix died.  It was that night that he had attended a party in London and was picked up by his then girlfriend, Monika Dannemann and driven to her place at the Samarkand Hotel at Notting Hill.  It was no secret that Jimi had an affection for amphetamines and this night he downed nine Vesperax, a German brand sleeping pill whose dosage was one half of a pill.  A few hours after midnight Jimi began to vomit from the overdose but was unconscious from the high dosage and asphyxiated on the red wine that was in his stomach.  Eeeew!

That’s a tragic end to a lifestyle lived.  God bless Jimi Hendrix and may he be forgiven for any trespasses upon the Natural Law.  He was a man of vision and an artist that many followed after.

And after Jimi came many, and there were other masters who deserve mention as Jimi’s peers.  Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, George Harrison, Jimmy Page and in the years beyond the great sixties and early seventies we had mega freaks like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes, the Schenker brothers and Stevie Ray Vaughan and even some disgustingly, technically perfect, so perfect it’s not even enjoyable listening, like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai.  But then, thank the heavens; we were blessed in the late eighties with a new son of pure guitar art form who played only because it’s the only thing he could do.  Not for the glory, not for the fame, not for the money; he played from the heart and he gave it everything.

On June 25, 1988 Hillel Slovak, guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers succumbed to the horrors of heroin addiction and left a gaping hole in the world of music.  One of their fans, John Anthony Frusciante had been playing guitar since age nine when he became infatuated with The Germs and learned to play along with their record, GI.  Shortly after that, one of his instructors turned him on to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and John proceeded to emulate Hillel Slovak’s guitar style.  John went on to master the blues scales at then discovered Frank Zappa.  At the age of sixteen, with the permission of his parents, he dropped out of high school after taking a proficiency test and enrolled at the Guitar Institute of Technology.  At one point Frusciante was set on trying out for Frank Zappa’s band but heard that Frank wasn’t too keen on chemical refreshment so John decided, as he knew he was going to indulge in the hedonism of rock stardom, not to even give it a shot.

Frusciante had become friends of the Chili Peppers as their shows were more intimate in the early days when the fans would go gangbusters slam dancing (before it was called moshing) and rarely experience the show visually.  There was a band in LA at the time called Thelonious Monster who was auditioning guitar players.  Anthony Keidis was friends with Bob Forrester of Thelonious Monster and arranged an audition for John.  After seeing the audition, Anthony offered Frusciante a position in the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

John Frusciante was eighteen years old and they called him Greenie.  He fell in quick with the band and followed in Hillel’s footsteps without missing a beat.  It was almost as though he had channeled Hillel’s spirit he played the Chili Peppers’ material so well.  As Slovak was greatly influenced by Jimi Hendrix, so was John Frusciante, and like Hillel, John approached the guitar from a minimalist angle, which likely came from his punk and new wave roots.  And I say God bless you John for not being another over playing virtuoso and laying it down cleanly and simply and beautifully as you have for the years.

The music that John has created with The Red Hot Chili Peppers has given me insight into things that I knew were going on within my own life, but I was unable to touch upon them in any coherent manner.  But when I listened to Californication in February of 2000 while driving from Vancouver, Washington to Salt Lake City to look for a new career, and move my family back home as the wife requested, I heard Anthony telling me about parallel universes and that was something of a catalyst to my thinking toward my belief that this band has in fact, paralleled my entire life with their songs, the stories they tell within the songs and all the drama and in fighting, with Dave Navarro coming into the band during that time I was adopting my two daughters, Tayslie and Ali and I did  not treat them right.  I didn’t have the tools or the skills to be a tender and nurturing parent.  But as time has passed I have grown in knowledge and wisdom and I pray that those beautiful young women forgive me some day of the faults of a young man who was trying his best to do what he was told by those around him and echoing the environment in which he was raised.

And here we are today, loving Stadium Arcadium, again following the patterns of my life.  Every song on that recording speaks profoundly to me at some level of my life at the time it was recorded, from my relationships with younger women and She’s Only 18 (and it actually tells the story of my relationships with Jayne Pederson exactly as it happened, and with another girl named Raquel; it just blows me away how precise the words are to us) to Warlocks when I spent my time in Portland with the hedge witch, Tami to the soul touching song Hey, the last track on the first disc, Mars of the Stadium Arcadium masterpiece; that song, Hey tells the story of the communication between me and my ex wife to the T.  And the song, Charlie is totally Marlene, my angel and my healer. And not to mention their unreleased b-sides recordings that speak directly to me with profound exactness every time I stumble upon them.

I could go on and write volumes.  This means nothing to many and it’s just silliness to some, but for me it’s profound and this is my life.  All things happen for a reason.  There is no such thing as coincidence.  All things have purpose, if you have faith enough to believe on things greater than yourself.

So, from Robert Johnson to Jimi Hendrix and on down through the cacophony of glammed up rock star virtuoso guitar players we are blessed with the tenderness of John Frusciante who expresses the truth right through his instrument and into my ears to resonate with me and validate my existence.

I love you John.  Thank you for everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve given us and everything that is to come.  John Frusciante is a master beyond recognition.





Give because it’s the right thing to do

14 01 2011

Sometimes you have something to say to someone that they need to hear. It’s the answer they are looking for, but it’s not the answer they want and it’s not scratching the itch they’re feeling at the moment. So you offer it up and it’s not received in the way you hope it will be received.

What do you do? Do you get angry, frustrated, begin to point out how this person is missing the picture or missing your point? No, that doesn’t help anything. You’ve set out to try to uplift someone and if they don’t absorb what your offering, certainly don’t respond by tearing them down and giving them a dose of, “Well if you don’t take what I’m giving then I’ll put you in your place, mister!”

You’ve put it out there and it’s out there. It got to them the best it could and it will come back at a time when it’s able to fit into position within them, to settle in and be of value to them. It can’t be forced if there’s no holding place for it to settle into. Time needs to pass and experience needs to create that holding place for your words to comfortably settle in and and take their place to have meaning and fortify their being.

I once offered a homeless man a cup of hot chocolate I bought for him, specifically for him. My son Spencer, eight years old at the time told me to give a homeless man a cup of hot chocolate as a gift of compassion while we were out that day. I thought that was an amazing request and was so happy that he had been learning good things at such a young age. As his dad I was going to take the opportunity to follow through and solidify in his young and developing character the value of giving, service and compassion.

So we walked into Starbucks and I bought hot chocolate for the three kids and an extra for the sign-holder and went down to the street level and I held out the cup of hot chocolate to the man who is holding a cardboard sign, which is telling us, “anything helps.” It was winter and it was cold. He was bundled up with gloves and a hat to cover his ears and head and he was huddling up to keep warm. I thought it was a nice gesture. I said, “here’s some hot chocolate, we got it just for you.”

He just looked at me and said, “I can’t hold it.”

I repeated and said, “I just bought it for you, it’s fresh warm, and it’s good.”

He said again, “I can’t hold it.”

So, what was I supposed to do? Get upset and react in anger? Being turned down is something you don’t hope for, but it happens and it’s OK. The point is that my little guy had the heart to make this offering of compassion to someone he saw in need, and he did it without worrying about what others around him might think. He was only concerned for this man who was holding out his hand.

So we took the hot chocolate and were going to offer it to someone else but there was nobody else around to give it to. We shared it and it was good, and we talked about this experience and we were able to see that sometimes people who are in need don’t want what you have to give and that it’s OK. The important thing is to offer, and to love them. Their reaction or response is their responsibility. Our responsibility is to be kind and to give what we can. If it is not understood that is OK. Sometime in the future that guy will remember the group of people who offered that hot chocolate to him and that memory will have some meaning and value. That day it didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that the experience was meaningless. It was important on many levels, and a selfish reaction of anger or contempt because of the rejection by the beggar would have turned that opportunity into something ugly and nasty.

Let’s all rise above ourselves and make the best out of every situation, and when we are rejected or surprised by the reactions of others, let’s be grateful for the opportunity we had to make any sort of offering whether it was accepted or not.

The moral to this story is to be bold, but not overbearing.  Be compassionate, but not forceful in giving.  Do things for the benefit of others, to make the future better, to make the world a better place.  Remember that your influence is like a seed being planted.  At the moment you plant it, it is unseen, buried and goes unnoticed.  But in time it grows and nobody remembers who planted it or where it came from, but the tree is there to offer fruit and shade and beauty to countless people who find themselves in its way.  To be noticed for your efforts is not the reward.  To bring comfort to the lives of others is.







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