Nice balance to last night ...

Sent: December 01, 2000 1:15 AM

I'm still struggling to figure out what to do about WTO anniversary that started today. Susen wanted me to go with her this afternoon - she was one of the sea-turtles last year and was on her way over again today, dressed as a seaturtle agtain. So far I have made no decision - I passed on riding with her at noon - way too much stuff in the stack for the working part of the day - but can imagine it would be interesting to walk around in the crowd playing my ukulele waltz again.

But she sent me this bizarre message today - basically an ad for a book about last year's riots ...

She said " Check this great book out. A great present for all your friends and family with their heads in the sand!

THE BATTLE IN SEATTLE - The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations by Janet Thomas (published by Fulcrum)

Here's what David Korten, author of The Post Corporate World: Life after Capitalism and When Corporations Rule the World - had to say about it:

"Humane, authoritative, personal and engagingly written, this is the real story of the people, events and issues behind the Battle of Seattle and N30, the day the most international, inclusive, and potentially powerful social movement in history announced itself to the world. It is a message of hope and courage - profound proof that ordinary people can make a difference in the global struggle of life and democracy against the forces of global corporate and financial tyranny. Read it and rejoice in the power of the awakened human spirit"

I just couldn't take that rejoicing in the awakened human spirit stuff sitting down, and had to reply in a voice with a bit of a snarl: "Does this really mean that the whole WTO Reunion thing came down to more hucksterism and the promotion of nostalgia for an event that barely happened and as near as I can tell, accomplished next to nothing?

Korten is out of his gourd unless he is referring to the WTO itself as the most "international, inclusive, and potentially powerful social movement in history" and even at that it appears to be a VERY shallow movement compared to say the Catholic Church or the rise of fascism in pre-W.W.II Europe.

Or am I missing something? "

Anyway, on a perhaps not altogether unrelated note, I played solo nite before last at Sirens - had a hard time figuring out what to do - it was so loud I could not stand to be anywhere near the main room except to sign in, which I did reluctantly. For about 45 minutes I sat all the way in the back of the TV room and played a borrowed guitar and sang for Esther (the Hungarian waitress from the UpStage) and her friend from the Food Coop until it was time to go on. I followed a very loud blues jam - a harp player and one or two guitars - all plugged in and all playing way too loud.

I turned down the PA, but the room itself was already set way too loud. There was so much gross energy reverberating when the wankers left the stage that I started a few songs and just dropped them mid-line. People left over from the blues thing were standing in clumps in front of the stage. - but at one point I just stopped playing entirely, to let them disperse. So the guitar player, feeling my psychic aggression pushing them away, grabbed his guitar case to leave and all kinds of stuff - his electronic tuner, a set of strings, a shaker egg, some finger picks, all cascaded out of its unzipped pocket and bounced clattering off the wall onto the floor and scattered under chairs and tables. Then he knocked over a beer glass with the case, trying to recover his crap from the floor.

First, I tried singing, but nothing worked. Eventually, after trying just about everything I could thing of to calm it down, I found a few pretty "bouncy" grooves - the Zydeco thing worked, but mostly I think people really wanted the Rolling Stones. When I decided that I was finished I said "O.K. kids - someone else can try peeing on the fireplug..." and so Ephra - the raving androgyn, read obscene James Broughton poetry. When I was leaving, Esther noted that I probably should have done X-rated songs if I really wanted to fit into the evening. I told her I couldn't see if or how I was supposed to have fit into the evening, I felt completely invisible for the first few songs. I had just come from a a wonderful meal at Sentosa - the black cod zen thing on a square plate that had included Saki this time, and I was just feeling really realy really mellow.

Then yesterday, mid-afternoon, Peter Jones (the person who brought the set of red Chinese temple blocks to the Airstream studio) brought me a really sweet Les Paul guitar - a walnut thing called "The Paul" a sort of a cross between an LP Junior and an SG - full size Les Paul shape but flat like a telecaster and square corners w/o any binding. Nice wide unbound neck and ebony finger board with dots.

Peter Jones' Walnut Les Paul Really simple wiring - 2 humbuggers, 4 knobs and a 3-way switch like a Les Paul or an ES-335. He has hit it hard with a disk sander and given it ""shape" where it hits your chest and forearm about like the relief carved onto a Strat. He said he can't play it anymore - that his hands cramp up immediately when he tries, and that it seemed like it needed to be being played - by me. He was definitely right. I've probably never played a guitar that suits my hands or my playing style better than this one. I'd consider selling something precious to own it, if I had to.

See how he carved some relief into the side?

So I took it to Public House last night and Johnny Z was there and he agreed to play a set with me if Ruffo would let us play next so he could get home at a reasonable hour and we did a great set. Nat Natali and Jenny Pell even dirty-danced a gorgeous bluezy tango-waltz for us to watch while we played!

Just having that guitar in my hands - the awesome sustain of it - even just plugged straight into the carappy Public House Peavey PA with no amp at all - from the stage (where it counts) the thing sounds amazingly like that syrupy tone that Santana played on Europa - and we fooled around a lot and finally played the bejeezus out of Autumn Leaves, milking more and more juice out of the sound. Then we found a rather amazing chord change in the turn-around at the end of another one of his old Erroll Garner arrangements of a standard song that turned into a very wonderful stand-alone groove that I really wish had gotten onto tape of some sort , but I think it was just a gift to and from the universe, never to occur again.

Nice balance to the night before.

©(mostly) Joe Breskin 30 November - 2 December, 2000
Link to a list of other journal entries