Thursday, April 29, 2010

I don't seek wisdom from books, sages, conversations, etc. True wisdom is personal and comes from inside and is ever present. The only things these provide is an articulation and perhaps a tangible definition through the use of language of what is already within yourself.

It is not just limited to manifestation in the literal sense, it is in the arts that speak to you in that medium, or in nature, or in any of the senses we use to receive communication, even without language or sound. It could be touch, smell, taste. The feeling from watching playing children, experiencing the vitality a particular flower in the desert, that can hold your particular "truth" that, for some reason, speaks to you, that awakens that which is already within yourself and makes you aware.

The main point is that the outside manifestations serve as a stimulus to that beauty, wisdom, etc that already exists within you.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Failure or success is a judgment given at the END of a process regarding whether a particular objective has been reached. As long as the process is ongoing, i.e. life, love, art, etc, is ongoing, it cannot be judged. As long as you live and breathe, YOU are the process.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It was a quiet night at the cafe tonight. About 4 tables had people sitting at them. It was quiet on the street in general, so I don't know if it would have been any different playing on the corner where I usually hang out on Sunday night. I played for about an hour and then sat with DDA and we discussed all things French, American and Chinese.
Usually I edit these posts, but seeing that Saturday night playing at the cafe this time is a first, I'm just going to let it all out:


Here at the cafe at 8 p.m. Not a lot of loud music now. A few people out. It was about 90 degrees today and it has cooled a little although it is still quite warm. Right now I am just putting some time in writing about the scene as this is my first Saturday night playing here, sussing out the foot traffic, the kinds of people who are around, making notes of anything different, the tone and mood and volume of the place. Overall it is a young college crowd, not too many young children and not many older people. I don't think the crowd is going to get much older or younger throughout the night.

From here, sitting at a table with my luggage wheeler and accordion suitcase, I am pretty much a homogenized member of the scene, writing in a notebook. I'm not in any hurry to set up or to play. The night and sounds will disappear from the blackened canvas of night soon enough, leaving only this ash of commentary.

Somebody down the street has hooked up his electric guitar and has started playing. Sitting here, watching the methamphetamine and Barbie-turates strut past in their hubris of tank tops and short tight skirts. I'll set up at 8:30.

At about 9:15 some obnoxious electric high end guitar noodler decided to crank up across the street. At lunch yesterday when I was playing some dude warned me of these kinds of players down here; electrified, high gear tech noodlers who don't play anything as far as songs, but are garrulous and loud. No difference in dynamics. When this occurs I stop playing. I'm not going to compete and I don't want to put anyone through this kind of disquieting cacophony. This guy across the street is so offensive with his endless jazz playing (in fact he plays the same licks over and over again without a break) that it is really funny. I know my buddy Roger would have a real good laugh. This guy really doesn't play a melody, just scales and slides and very high end treble; not even variance in register or rhythm or dynamics. If a razor blade could make a sound, this is what it would sound like. It is like an auricular paper cut.

Above the cafe is a dance club with heavy bass going. I just saw some guy mimicking the obscenity of this guitar player's sound and told his friend standing next to him that he wants to go across the street and strangle him.

The motorcycles, buses and sirens are all a part of this symphony, with the rhythmic bass from the dance club pulsing like a digesting python writhing through the streets.

It is 10:00 and the accomplice to the guitar player has shown up, playing jazz chords on his guitar. These guys are not even listening to each other. The lead jazz guy is playing the same stuff, the same way, over and over again. Not even varying his key. I think his battery to his amp is slowly losing power though. It is a waiting game at this point, waiting for him to lose more power and volume and also hoping that there is an increase in human bodies on the street scene to act as baffles to absorb and deaden his sound between him and me.

At 10:20 the evangelists have started preaching across the street with their public address system. Actually I can't discern if they are preaching God or advising patrons to hold onto the handrail because the escalator is coming to an end. In either case, I regard their message to be about the same with regard to relevance to my situation.

It is 10:30 pm and I think I'll start playing again. Quietly. For myself.

I had a long talk with a man from France for about an hour regarding everything from the cafes in France, to French politics and history since Napoleon, to the French Foreign Legion. Really interesting gentleman. He was about the same age as me. Then I went back to playing until 12:45 in the morning, when the cafe closed.

Tomorrow night, Sunday, I don't know if I will return to the street or try the cafe again. The cafe is open to 11 at night. I usually play on the street for about 3 hours, from 6 until 9 pm. Although the street is more interesting as far as stories and events that can happen, I might just try the cafe to see what might happen and perhaps even end up playing more.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I played Thursday and Friday at lunch time (11 am to 1 pm about) at the cafe. It is a lot different than playing on the street Sunday night and subsequently the venues have different objectives. Sunday night people can ignore me and walk past. In the cafe people actually can sit down in front of me and are given the chance to ignore me.

Seriously, there are a lot of differences that I will illuminate later. The similarities are surprisingly much fewer. From my perspective both are exciting to me in the unknowns that are likely to present themselves in terms of interaction and discovery. In actuality there are three venues; cafe during lunch, Sunday night on the street and Saturday night at the cafe. I haven't explored the Saturday night at the cafe yet. The differences are mainly my own personal objectives based upon the environment, with the most significant element being the clientele.

My objective, after the initial warming up period of playing Christmas carols on the street last season to playing out publicly again was never one of being an "entertainer". That would put the focus on audience perception/satisfaction with my personal worth or value of my time spent in this endeavor dependent on something outside of myself, measured by such things as response, tips, etc. Also those responses have no definite correlation to much of anything objective. People smile or tip, etc, not based on any sort of definable criteria. They may do so for the fact that they See someone playing the accordion, the song, their mood, who they are with, if you play well, if you play poorly but are trying, how you look, etc. They may withhold showing their appreciation for exactly the same reason. Trying to discern their reasons will drive you crazy and is also an exercise in futility. However, with that being said, I assume threat what I do is appreciated by at least one person and that thought is enough to hold in my head regarding that particular point.

My process, as far as playing, is more a creative pursuit, which entails more listening as it does playing. I have to interpret the environment first. My goal, simply stated, is to create a sound track for my perception of the environment. I eavesdrop on conversations, view interactions and speculate on scenarios as they unfold around me and choose what to play and how I am going to execute it accordingly (excuse the pun).

I am also aware that what I play and how I play it, subliminally or subconsciously may have an effect on the observed encounter. Even when I am playing, I try to listen, either with my eyes or ears, on the the events as they are being played out.

I do the same on the street to some extent, looking down the street to see who is approaching, speculating, watching the gait, appearance, attitude, however, the time they are in my "camera" of vision/interaction is far more brief than in a cafe setting.

The selection of music I play is varied and does have its limitations. The eye of my "inner camera" isn't as limited. It draws upon all of my experiences and my exposure to film, theater, dance and all other art forms. Sometimes a situation will remind me of a scene from an old black and white film or the style of a particular director/writer. Perhaps what I am observing is a prelude to what will be an event presented on the 11:00 news.

No event is mundane and no event can be overly dramatised for effect, either by lack of or heightened by, interpretation. By "underplaying" the event, you can also heighten it, case in point would be the writing of Hemingway, the plays of Pinter, or the art of minimalization of any art field, even the art of someones autograph or loved one's signature.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Played out last night on Main. I am consistently meeting more, uh, interesting people then I ever did when I played Venice Beach some 20 years ago. It could be that I play during the evening hours on bar row, or just that the times have changed. My tips are pretty interesting too. A lot of people don't have much money who I play for. They are homeless or have been drinking quite a bit and it is right where ASU is, so poor students as well. It makes for an interesting audience mix. Last night I got a rose made out of a palm frond, some guy who didn't have any money offered me some of his whiskey from his plastic 7/11 cup (I declined), someone offering me to roll me a Bugler cigarette, things like that. One homeless woman asked if I had the words to some of the songs I played and, after I told her I didn't, I did play "You are my Sunshine" to which she sang to. Yeah, some people have been drinking, but a lot of them also dance, which is a tip to me in itself, and, even though I don't mean to, I end up making some people happy.