In other news, we’ve just learned that the devilishly seductive Lauren Bacall passed away today, which I must admit is, though not surprising — for she was well ahead in years, still a strange coincidence in the wake of Robin Williams passing just yesterday. I was never a big Bacall fan. But I must say that she’s always enjoyed a special place in my heart due to the commonly known fact that she pledged an undying love so deep for Humphrey Bogart that she stated she would never and did never get over him and refused to ever marry again. I really admire that. That’s true love. Something I believe we should all be lucky enough to experience at least once in our lives. And it also shows a devotion that seems strangely absent from our modern world. God bless her soul.
In case you’ve missed it — and lord knows it would be easy, for there is too much news right now in our midst for our own good frankly, so much of it so hauntingly bad and tragic, I do want to point out something very disturbing unearthed in our collective underbelly. Yet another case of the police, those honorable men and women sworn to protect and serve us all equally, killing yet another black man, this time a youth, merely 18 years old and a week away from college. His name was Michael Brown. It happened in a town outside of St. Louis, Missouri called Ferguson. Here’s the link to read more: http://time.com/3104128/michael-brown-ferguson-cop-shooting-protests/
Obviously there is rioting going on. Where would there NOT be riots if an 18 year old was shot down in cold blood by a cop? No matter what color he or she was? Imagine if it would have been an 18 year old teenage girl? There’d be a lot more than rioting going on. So in a way, this has nothing to do with color and everything to do with shock and rage. But because this WAS yet another black male killed in cold blood, this is another in a long line of injustices for a community who has already suffered far too much shock and rage in their history in America, especially as of late.
To make matters worse, today it was reported that the FAA has announced a no fly zone over the entire community — meaning ALL MEDIA are not allowed to fly over the town to cover the story. Yeah. Seriously. This is real American corporate cover up bullshit at the federal level. Google it.
These blatant murders & the attempted cover ups of both #MichaelBrown & #ErikGardner by police officers are showing us clear evidence of an overt racism, especially towards black men, that still exists in the United States. The cavalier & carefree attitude that the police departments AND the local and federal government has regarding these deaths shows a heartless disregard for human life IF that life happens to be African American. This is our wake up call moment. In case anyone still wants to proclaim that America has freed itself of racism now that we’ve elected an African American as president. No longer can we claim that “Trayvon Martin was an isolated case or an exception”. Rather he was another in a long line of unfortunate victims of this deep seated bigotry that exists still in some people in the United States, one that we as a nation still refuse to accept or deal with.
Had Martin or Gardner or Brown been a cute little white girl…shot in cold blood on a city street… What then? It would be FRONT PAGE news. Her pretty little face plastered everywhere. The murderer a national villain overnight. Instead we don’t even know the name of the officer who killed Brown yet. Missouri police won’t release it. It’s complete hypocrisy. Perhaps they’re just trying to protect the man’s security. Knowing full well that his life would most likely be in jeopardy. But let us hope that the African American community can keep their Shiite together and make this one a case for the courts. Because that’s what needs to happen. The same for the murder of Erik Gardner. We have that one on tape for Gods sake. They strangled the poor guy to death. The bastards. And then claim it was self defense. I’ve watched it. There was no self defense happening there. Just a couple of racists assholes man handling a black guy. Those officers need to be tried in court, found guilty and serve life sentences.
If this does NOT happen — if the powers that be in this country yet again find a way to weasel out of justice being served for the blatant murder of one of our citizens — then we will know for sure that the racism that exists in our country climbs all the way up the ladder to the very top and beyond. And IF that does happen yet again, ANYTHING but life sentences for these officers, then it is my sincere belief that re American people have every right to do WHATEVER THEY DEEM NECESSARY to seek the justice that w all deserve. Mass protests and riots would only be the beginning of what would be entirely justifiable to seek the justice more than deserved and long overdue for African American men in this country.
We need a clean sweep of this system. From top to bottom. And to start we need a national dialogue about why black men are so despised and reviled still in this country. The ones they can’t lock up they kill. Frankly I believe it is fear. They’re different (at least from white men…) so they’re scary. And what frightens us we say we hate. In reality they don’t really hate them. They don’t even know them. They’re just frightened of them. So they shoot on sight. Without even thinking for a moment about the fact that they’re another living breathing human being. It’s a very sad state that we are in still with this issue.
Thank God we are talking about it again. But lord curse us for it having to come down to this to start the conversation. Two more men shot down in cold blood.
And though I totally get that president Obama saying anything “extra” about this would smell of a kind of reverse racism due to his being half-black, I get that, but at this point ANY American president would and should speak out, for this seems larger than just “taking care of our own”; it seems like a well hidden but deep seated national epidemic of a problem that needs to be addressed. It needs national representation and leadership. And frankly who better than a sitting US president who just happens to be half black? Especially right now as we celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Freedom Summer and the civil rights act et al.?
We recorded for another 10 hours today. Best day so far. We had been wrestling with this one song, “So For Real” for five straight days. (Realization — if the basic rhythm track of a song isn’t perfect, if it isn’t nailed tight and grooving, you’ve got no song. It all comes down to that one thing, the drum/rhythm track; that’s the foundation. The bass can be fixed, redone; so too can the rhythm guitars or primary keyboard part or the primary hook(s) of the song. But if that drum track isn’t solid, it’s never going to sound great no matter what you do to it.) We finally decided on redoing the drums entirely. Keeping the bass and rhythm guitars. Built it up from there. Satisfied.
After that we added percussion and then 4 tracks of 12-string acoustic guitar. The addition of the SSL mic preamp, the Apogee A to D converter and the Empirical Labs Distressor compressor has made a huge difference. The sounds we are getting now are like nothing I’ve ever heard. Pristine polished professional and damn near perfect. We tracked the 12-string till 1am last night. Until I could no longer hold my fingers tight enough to the fretboard to make a decent sound without excruciating pain. Added a few more this morning and then start tracking vocals.
Recorded five vocals today before we stopped for the day. Two leads and three falsetto harmonies. That moment when you first start tracking vocals, especially through such incredible sounding pro-grade equipment, is the best feeling in the world except perhaps for making love to your soul mate or communing with The Divine. I am always transfixed by the experience of hearing the song come to life as each new vocal is added. It’s a hypnotizing process. Extremely pleasurable.
Eventually stopped for the day. The engineer hadn’t had a break in five days. Neither had I. It was time. We have a long way to go. Even if i was to only focus on say 10 or 11 of the 34 songs we’ve laid down, this will still be a long road. Many insights and re-realizations. I notice that compared to most artists, contemporary and older, historical, I never seem to feel like a song is finished, always want or feel a need to add just a few more things… I build huge sound beds rather than being satisfied with just the usual drums bass guitars keyboards vocals. This song already has five guitar tracks, just of mine. About 10 tracks of drums and percussion. And five vocal tracks. And that’s just what I’ve added so far, not counting the foreseen numerous other tracks the rest of the guys will add and not counting the other keyboards and vocals I feel I could still add.
I don’t know why I feel inclined toward this manner of recording. But I always have. I have always longed to create songs that are huge, deep, rich, complex, in their arrangement and production. We referred to All Things Must Pass several times while tracking this tune. It has that type of sound to it; it could. It actually reminds me of a Tyrannosaurus Rex song in it’s style, the songwriting, like early Marc Bolan. It’s a laid back hippie free love vibe. Sexy and romantic. Listening to the song take shape was a euphoric experience. Each and every time it feels like a dream come true. I am a very lucky and blessed person. I know this.
Once we finished I couldn’t help but tune in to see if anything happened in the Trayvon Martin trial. The fact that a 17 year old boy who had was guilty of nothing and had been murdered was on trial has been an astonishing facet of modern day America. The idea that his killer could be set free and receive no punishment nor bear any responsibility was beyond belief to me, and many others obviously as the country’s growing obsession with the case has shown. The verdict came without incident. It was almost a letdown in terms of how anti-climactic it was compared to what a build up the media gave it over the last two weeks. It is hours later. The killer, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty. It is true that he murdered the boy; no one disputes that. It is true that he chased him down, followed and stalked him after profiling him to be a suspected criminal. And that minutes later he shot him in the heart and killed him. But somehow he was found not guilty and set free to leave the court.
We have only begun to see the rage and uproar that this verdict will cause across the nation. Like many I am more in shock than anything else. A deep sadness is within me. I can’t shake it. I am keenly aware that convicting Zimmerman and his going to prison would not bring young Martin back to life, nor do anything to assuage the grief and sorrow of his family. But somehow as humans, weak as we are, we still cling to an emotional fix or solution for these kinds of injustices, one that only a conviction can bring about. Unfortunately in this particular case we will not receive such a fix or solution, no sense of justice or relief.
Speaking for those of who feel this way at least. There are others, though seemingly the minority among us, who are happy that Zimmerman was found not guilty for killing the boy. I still do not understand their reasoning. Though i am curious and often ask people through social media or in social situations to explain their reasoning. Unfortunately they are usually not the type of people who are intelligent enough to offer an explanation that is reasonable or comprehensible.
There are some who claim that the Trayvon Martin murder case has nothing to do with race. I vacillate, back and forth, when pondering this idea. When the defense attorney was asked if he thought the case was about race he responded “No. But if Zimmerman were black there would have been no trial for murder.” As smart as this man is and appeared to be during the trial, I wonder if he realizes now how much truth his answer gave to the argument that this case has everything to do with race in America.
It would appear by his response that Americans are perfectly content if black people kill each other. There is something deeply disturbing and unnerving about the idea that millions of black Americans, especially men, rot away in prisons for lesser crimes such as possession of marijuana or burglary but that a non-black person can get away with murdering someone and not face one day of prison. Of course the same could be said about the O.J. Simpson case, which could lead one to believe that this whole thing has more to do with a broken justice system than it does with race. Then again, Simpson at the time was a supremely popular celebrity in the United States. He could have gotten away with anything, including murder, and indeed he did. So there is most likely an exception there that cannot be considered in the case of George Zimmerman.
This week, there was another trial that so far has received almost no media attention — although I believe that will change as the days proceed and people begin to put the pieces of our very broken justice system together. A young black woman, also in Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a gun into the air to stop her physically abusive husband from attacking her. No one was hurt. No one was killed. Contrasted with the George Zimmerman verdict this case makes it astonishingly clear just how biased the American justice system is still against our black brothers and sisters.
I am tired. It is hard to integrate the feelings. I know from a deep seated sense of higher self that peace and tolerance and understanding is what we need more than anything now. But I am so saddened and angered by today’s events that I find that the more lowly instincts within me long for blood rage and chaos. A part of me would like nothing more than to see hundreds of people run out this week and voluntarily murder random strangers in the streets of Florida in order to overwhelm their police stations and courts with investigations and trials all the name of their misguided and ridiculously asinine “stand your ground” law. Perhaps if they are overwhelmed with enough “justifiable homicides”, hundreds of murders that all portend to be rationally excusable self defense and protected by this law, they will rethink the merits of maintaining it. Perhaps that is the only thing that will change their minds. As wicked an idea as this is… Though I pray to be relieved of such thoughts and know that it is only the initial shock and anger that compels me to entertain this base reaction.
Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter tweeted today that the verdict in the Zimmerman trial would be a testament to how much progress her father’s Dream had or hadn’t made in America since he first gave that speech. (I am paraphrasing). That dream was deferred today, at least temporarily. As I experienced pure bliss in the recording studio making music, creating art, realizing dreams coming true, one family lost hope and faith and surely felt grief return to their doorstep once more; another family breathed a sigh of relief and perhaps gained hope and faith in a system that they began to question for turning on them. All part of the grand mystifying fascinating human experience.
I’ll tell you this, like many I know, I am smiling-glad and relieved that I followed my intuition, that voice screaming in my head since I can remember having grown up in Florida, and got out of there as soon as I could. There is something wretched and diseased and inhuman about that state. Soulless is what I used to call it when I lived there. It appears that way even more once you leave and view it from the outside. Why it’s this way I don’t know… But it does seem to be haunted by an inordinate amount of horrendous atrocities that consistently capture national attention. Almost like a hellish circus that serves as gruesome free entertainment for the sick and voyeuristic in American pop culture. HLN wouldn’t be in existence without the state of Florida.
I have plenty of friends in Florida still. They are all as good as any others I am lucky to have who live anywhere else in the world. Why they stay in such a compromised location, when there are so many incredible states in America to live in, I can never quite understand. New York is the city of dreams of course, but you have to desire to live in that kind of an electrifying place — one could always live outside the city and experience one of the most tranquil and beautifully scenic locales in the U.S. but most people don’t realize that about New England. Washington state is one of the best from a legal and political angle — it might just have the best balance of rational, reasonable and intelligent laws out of all 50 states in the Union… Of course living in Florida doesn’t make them bad people. Just caught in a moment that they can’t get out of. Work, family, a house, people always say the same thing… they don’t like snow, etc…
But hell, at this point any one of them or their children could be stalked and shot to death by another and have it be perfectly legal. Surely this is a gross exception and aberration in America and not the rule. If so, why would anyone choose deliberately to live there? Especially when compounded with the ghastly heat and humidity and the total lack of seasons. (Any place that lacks four seasons I have always considered to be suspiciously symptomatic of having no soul, no heart, a strange wanton lack of humanity and connection to the rest of the world …But hey that’s just me. I love the seasons and believe them to be an integral part of the full human on earth experience.)
I am still overwrought over this. Keep waiting for it to end as if it is only a bad dream… THAT is what creates the feeling of shock… not being able to integrate or accept something that is true. Tomorrow we will all feel better and will be thinking more rationally. I will stop before I go too far here; will meditate on increasing love and peace and understanding and do my best to help rather than cause more harm. God knows that’s what we need now more than anything. I know that is the right path to take rather than any further actions or comments expression rage or grief.
One more thing. I do have a sneaking feeling that this case may just be the thing that forces Florida to change this “stand your ground” law once and for all. Just a feeling. Perhaps Martin will be the martyr that all great causes seem to need at this early stage in our evolution. The Dream of Martin Luther King Jr. and his progeny may have been deferred today, but it may be vindicated in a much bigger more meaningful way very soon. Something to consider.
Current Read: GOING CLEAR by Lawrence Wright — about the so called church of Scientology. A fascinating read. People will believe anything if you offer them enough incentive. ANYTHING.