Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reverend Johnson and Jesse Dyen

Reverend Peter Johnson of Dallas (civil rights activist who was the youngest member of Rev. Martin Luther King's SCLC crowd), telling me I was "downright funky" shortly after I performed Sons & Daughters at Camp Casey II in August.

Photo by Jeannine White, who happened to witness the moment.

Sunday Morning Appearances

A few points from today's programs:

Remember Cheney's "I don't know Joe Wilson. I've never met Joe Wilson." comment on Meet the Press, back in the early carefree days when he and his pals thought Aschcroft's broom would be deft enough to sweep the whole matter into obscurity (and national security, no doubt).

Regarding Wilkerson, Wolf cut him off as soon as he mentioned James Bamford's Rolling Stone article that connects some dots between the Rendon Group, Chalabi and the INC, and such. I found that interesting timing (I missed Wolf v Rummy, so perhaps he had time to be "reprogrammed" in the exective green room during the break).

Rummy was also on Face the Nation, and when he pulled his I-don't-read-or-write-anything-down bit so as to duck any substantive comment on Rep. Murtha's proposal or the British rules ruckus in the House this week (he attributed his ignorance to being on a plane from Australia) , but then had a quick comment on BushClellan's response. Bob Scheiffer got an aside in there under his breath (transcript, anyone?) noting that he was incommunicado in one instance, and in the loop in the other instance. Perhaps this relates somehow to his "airheadtight" theory about known knowns and unknown knowns, which still puzzles philosophers worldwide.

Last, about the timing of Wilkerson's coming out party. I agree that the mute button on the microphone has been heavily guarded, and that we should applaud him not just for his courage, but also for his intellect and his directness.

There were some who resigned early. Take the example of Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department around the time Colin Powell made his credibility-busting U.N. speech. She has since gone on to be instrumental in the Camp Casey movement, and has been found heckling Condoleeza Rice at Senate Hearings (on the rare day she actually visits the Hill), and protesting Powell at university speaking engagements.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Brief Exchange with the Presidential Autobot

This morning I exercised my civic duty and wrote a letter to the President. The following correspondence ensued:

11:22 AM wrote:

On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence. We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions. Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House is unable to respond to every message, and therefore this response is an autoreply.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Re: autoreply from President Bush
12:21 PM wrote:

On behalf of myself, Jesse Dyen, thank you for your autoreply. I appreciate hearing from an automated response system, which leaves me confident that my views and suggestions are welcomed and valued. Due to the large volume of propaganda received, Jesse Dyen is unable not to reply to this message, and therefore this response is a human reply.

Thank you for taking the time to ensure that your autoreply was grammatically correct.

12:24 PM wrote:
On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence. We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions. Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House is unable to respond to every message, and therefore this response is an autoreply.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Re: Re: autoreply from President Bush
12:41 PM wrote:

While I admire the consistency and trustworthiness of your identical autoreply message, I would appreciate a slightly more human response from President Bush. Is it possible that you have an autoreply message that offers at least some variation from the previous one?

Thank you for taking the time to consider my request.

...I am still awaiting a response.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Somewhere Past Corporeality

In the interim I pick up my acoustic guitar, which I have been plugging into an old Yamaha solid state amp. I effortlessly breeze through the complex chordal roadmap that is the set of material that I am currently rehearsing, in preparation for a gig I may never play.

Time has no hold on me during these moments. As long as all of my telephones keep their faces shut, as is thankfully the case today, I am able to reach something resembling bliss. It is a place somewhere just outside the body.

So many tales of the out-of-body experience are marked by visual cues such as hovering and seeing oneself below. Since mine is a product of music – of sound and vibration - the sensation is more ears than eyes. It is hearing myself, rather than seeing myself.

Anyone who creates music, unless they’re an incredibly pompous ass, has at least enough humility to admit (at least to oneself) that the inspiration or muse or mojo or whatever comes from somewhere. Specifically, somewhere other than oneself. Carlos Santana once said something about music flowing through you, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

So I’m in my room, blazing through the latest-and-greatest song list, slipping in and out of what most people would call consciousness. The music is coming from somewhere just beyond my flesh and bone, and I am hearing it as it comes out into the air, which is also somewhere past corporeality. I am not only in those two places at once, but I am also connected to my body at least enough to strum and fret and push air through my vocal chords.

This is possible in performance situations, but it takes on an additional, perhaps dangerous, element. Alone, there is less risk, sure, but also less distraction. In a café or theatre, there is enormous potential, like the possibility that tonight might be one of those magic encounters where both the performer and the audience are able to let go of their attachments and share something memorable.

It means the performer has to make it into that special place, a feat that is not so simple as merely whispering a secret password. It takes focus, some handy shortcuts, proper breathing, a whole lot of willingness to fail, sheer luck – a boatload of factors.

On the audience side, when was the last time you were at a concert, movie, meeting, church service, etc., and you couldn’t for the life of you pay attention to what was going on in front of you. Whether it’s problems with the spouse, upset stomach, excitement about an upcoming vacation, or trying to remember if you locked the gun closet, there are so many ways an audience member can be distracted.

Add to that that in a public place, it may be too cold or hot. There may be noise from the street outside. Then multiply by however many people make up the audience.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I am not good with calendars and clocks.