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Liberty Cover

It just so happens that it is. Salon de la Guerre’s 10th album has just hit the digital music stores–CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.

The album is an aural collage. Twenty musical fragments meant to be listened to forward, backward or minced up, plus there are a few novelty numbers for sass. Steve Reich meets Talking Heads. OK, I just made that up. It’s simply a strange experiment in classical music-derived tunes and rock.

I made this album simultaneously with “Gravitas: A Life,” and as “Gravitas” developed as an extended musical work with repeated motifs, I tried to do the opposite with “Liberty.” This album invites shuffling.

As I say in the artist’s description on CD Baby:

“The album is meant to be listened to from beginning to end, from back to front or on shuffle—a reflection of the way music is now consumed and emotionally processed by audiences. The album largely removes traditional pop melodies and opts for song phrases that are more open ended and jarringly interrupted, whose beginnings and endings are as nebulous as those of the album itself. Unlike its predecessor, “Gravitas: A Life,” the album thwarts the idea of structural intelligence in a pop album so that the job of reconstituting the music belongs to the listener.”

Again, all the music is arranged and composed by me. And although the album is an electronic work and defies the idea of “performance,” especially when I occasionally use loops, beats and samples, many of these are in fact keyboard parts performed by me on Garage Band’s internal synthesizer. The album, like “Gravitas” and “Roses Don’t Push The Car Home,” was part of a quartet of albums I produced almost entirely on my iPhone. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to be impressed by me or by Apple.

And of course the model on the cover is my lovely wife, looking stranded as she ponders a dark bamboo forest near a Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

My Symphony

 

Gravitas Album Cover

As I noted a while back, I ventured into classically inspired symphonic music this past spring, and completed a long-form piece called “Gravitas: A Life.” It is now available on Amazon.com, CD Baby and iTunes.

I still have a lot of garage rock music under my belt and will be releasing more of it in the upcoming weeks, but on this, my ninth album, I was curious to see whether I could make something designed for an orchestra.

I describe the album this way on my CD Baby page: “A symphonic work mixing classical music approaches such as concerto grosso, atonality, musique concrete and minimalism, as well as rock ‘n’ roll rhythms.” “A pastiche” might be a better phrase. I hope it doesn’t sound like jive, in any case, because the process was completely intuitive and I can leave it to others to decide what to call it. Whether you think of it as a stress-test for the iPhone on which I made it, a movie soundtrack looking for a film to play on or just nice background music, I hope you enjoy it.

For perhaps another week or so, I’m leaving an earlier version of the album in its entirety up on YouTube, where you can enjoy it for free for the time being.

 

 

Here’s a map of attacks on American mosques put together by the ACLU.

While reading it, it’s important to remember that if Donald Trump were to become president, some 3.3 million American Muslims would be under his protection. His job would not be as their inquisitor. His job would not be as their prosecutor. He would not be as some sort of plaintiff against them or judge or arbitrator. He would be sworn protector of the laws that keep them from harm and allow them due process. To merely shrug off that “Yeah, he says crazy things” about a group of American citizens is to ignore the fact that, without his protection, they have none. They have officially become a vulnerable ethnic group the way the Kurds were under Saddam Hussein, the targets of factionalism emboldened by a faraway leader’s nod and wink. When there is no sense of lawfulness at the top, violence is fostered at the bottom by people pursuing any tribal instincts that motivate them. That’s why we have good leaders and why they use such “stilted PC language” that the less patient and more petulant among us have become so bored by. When Janet Yellen makes an incautious statement at the Fed, people lose millions. For the same reason, supporting that “crazy guy who says those gosh darn entertaining things” shows a callous disregard for history and how stuff works–disavowal of Stalin’s history, Hitler’s, Catherine de’ Medici’s .. of people whose monstrousness was possible because they were supposed to be shepherds. I want to make clear that this is not targeted at Republicans or conservatives in general, who, on their good, more libertarian days, know exactly what I’m talking about and many of whom I know do not really like Trump. George W. Bush also knew exactly what I’m talking about, to his great credit. But if Republicans are voting for Trump anyway, they are not voting for their own principles but for the “R” at the top of the form. They are, as Jerry Seinfeld once noted of fickle basketball fans, “rooting for clothes.”

…and still doing dirty tricks to divide progressives and divorce them from their political power, how would it look different from the DNC e-mail hack?

Just asking.

I feel like I’ve been hearing this question my entire adult life. I think the person who asks it, honestly or not, tends to miss a few things about life and politics.

So let me float another idea just for fun: third party presidential candidacies are amoral. They presume one candidate who embodies a minority position should be chosen to rule over the majority; they do not represent the fullest democratic expression of majority will but dilute it; they ensure that you, the individual, are less responsible for assimilating and subjugating your own reality to those of the hundreds of millions of people who are not like you; they require, in the other countries that do use them, that complicated coalitions be formed so that a person’s political desires are even further abstracted from them.

I argue that there is only one honest third-party approach: the grassroots way, the local elections way. The reason third-party fans avoid this more effective approach is that it asks a lot of responsibility of them. It’s easier to root for the “rock star” far away in a white house.

I’d also argue that third parties in this country have never been suppressed but have mostly died of their own fragility. They are too often based on personality cults or single issues that become less relevant over time. Think of the futility of an anti-Vietnam War party today or a pro-gold standard party. Organized political machines might … just might … know how rugged or fragile these tendencies are and know to abort them once they become irrelevant to daily life. With respect to Bernie Sanders, who has rightly inspired so many people, his movement is a one-issue movement and there’s a reason it has less traction: People care about things other than continually punishing banks (however right or wrong that might be) when we already kind of did that.

What I most dislike about the third party question is that it tends to misunderstand American history. Our founders hoped that the anarchic moods of the public would find their best expression in the Congress. The president as originally envisioned was supposed to act more like a glorified city manager, a bureaucrat doing the executive work while those in Congress inveighed and caviled and spat at each other. People like Teddy Roosevelt gradually turned the job into the personality cult we see today. That was good in a lot of ways, but it’s led to frustration among people who now have pretty ridiculous expectations.

Asking that one person be pulled every which way and stretched like Silly Putty to reflect the desires of millions of people is silly and futile. Being part of a democracy should exact a toll from you: You have responsibilities and one of those is to compromise or if not, to join the game. And you won’t be appreciated if you do. Ask anybody.

It should be illuminating that we fulminate about Hillary Clinton, “She’s imperfect!” and ask meekly about Donald Trump “How bad could he really be?” The answer for this hypocrisy is so obvious you might not see it for a piece of napkin lodged on your nose. It’s because he’s a man. He’s a tough dad saying the harsh truths, while she’s a disloyal ice queen who, were she to fire somebody or cross them, would be treated like Madame Defarge. We distrust ambition and political skill in a female because we don’t understand the motives, while we don’t think twice about these qualities in a male, don’t think twice about empowering a guy whose signature is regular abuse of people on a TV show (who has extended that abuse to people in real life). An obnoxious and pervasive literary trope of America–that distant, mean and pugnacious dads are that way only for our own good–is so ingrained in the crap we read and watch that we decline to ask whether dad is acting in his own self-interest. We give the female no such courtesy. It comes to the point of satirically perverse abnegation when we ignore the CV of a man who has worked only for his own self-interest, has never shed an ounce of sweat in his life until now fighting for any conservative principle other than his own right to succeed. A man with nothing but conviction of self and belief in his right to wield authority without specific ideas is now parroted by hapless conservatives who insisted for eight years that his type of personality cult is exactly what they were fighting against. Thus you are witnessing a whole party being taken hostage. Meanwhile, lefties, whose distrust of ambitious females is similarly ingrained, though they would dare not admit it, pretend they are better by turning to people who are unvetted and therefore idealized. If you make cartoon saints out of Jill Stein or Elizabeth Warren by not realizing that they would also have become dirty and have had to make compromises if they had actually been playing the game this whole time, you are quietly telling Hillary Clinton (and all girls): “You have no right to play the game.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” –Melania Trump

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