Monthly Archives: May 2013

True Art


“True art is a sacred performance, an act of love. And sacred performance can only occur in a sacred setting, a sacred culture, a sacred society. Ultimately, the artist must associate people with the sacred, must invoke in them that capacity to participate in Reality which is about ego-transcendence, love, Divine Communion.

You should dance. You should sing. You should become ecstatic. You should go beyond yourself. Participate in art. Don’t just know that it is there.

Art should change you. That is the whole purpose of it.”

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Attachments, the Lake, and a Rainbow


I have been plagued by a singularly powerful attachment for some time now, and as usual, in the end it has really caused me pain and frustration. Today, obsessed with it, I rowed out onto Lake Newnan, paddled to my favorite place to take a nap, and napped on the boat. When I got up I decided to LET GO. And by let go, I mean ritualistically, consciously, do a great BIG letting go. I meditated, performed a little personal ritual, looked up… and right there in the glory of my letting go I saw a rainbow directly in front of me! It was coming down from the clouds, partial, and I watched it reach the ground, smiling, ’cause I knew what this meant, and what it meant was that this was a thing that needed let go of. It meant that my letting go will hold, and that I must not become attached again. The rainbow held for a long time, and as I started home, it slowly receded back into the clouds, then disappeared.

I have let go. Om Namah Shivaiya!

Fortune Cookie


Found this in my fortune cookie today. The odd thing is, most of the time I don’t bother with them, I just leave them, but for some reason today I felt consciously compelled, and made a deliberate decision, to check the fortune… why? Well, this is what I found:

“One must dare to be herself however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

Beatles Anthology Revisited


Beatles-John-Lennon-Paul-McCartney-George-Harrison-Ringo-Starr-4WARNING: This post will be full of unpopular opinions and observations. I have warned you, so if you read on and disagree, please leave me alone.

Beatles Anthology Revisited (by Justine Mara Andersen)

I’ve been rewatching the Beatles Anthology, and have regrettably come to the same conclusion, though this time with even more conviction. I wasn’t sure I should mention it, not as much as it will open fire on me, but the unpopular conclusion I’ve come to is that Lennon and Harrison can be real buzz-kills at times, and Yoko, well… yeah, I’ll handle that in a moment.

So, here’s the rub. The Anthology is a remarkable document, it’s full of amazing stuff, and biased as I am I am so thankful for McCartney’s sunny disposition and Ringo’s loving and sentimental attitudes. They are much needed to take the edge of Lennon’s bitter axe-grinding (an axe he seems to be grinding endlessly against McCartney’s skull) and Harrison’s dour, frowny, and very (very) unforgiving and grudge-spewing attitude. In fact, every time a Lennon clip comes on I cringe, knowing he will once again be grinding his axe, dismissing McCartney’s every contribution (while being, no surprise here, quite fond of his own contributions). He’s not terribly subtle about it if you’re paying attention. When one pays attention to other subtle moments his negativity seems rather evenly distributed, one example being his smug response to the question of whether or not the Maharishi was “on the level,” in which Lennon mutters some cryptic bitter nonsense… and in the background you can hear McCartney saying brightly, “He was on the level.” Lennon comes across as terribly unhappy, angry, and petty. Frankly, Lennon seems at times to have been wallowing in a mire of anger and bitterness, even his tone of voice is often angry and scolding. Knock McCartney all you want, at least he’s roundly and fairly positive about everyone in the group. He does not dismiss or disrespect anyone’s contribution, at least not in retrospect, though he certainly (and admittedly) kept Harrison down while in the Beatles.

Harrison’s so-called honesty and “humor” starts to come across as self-righteous and rather bitter. In fact, even in vintage clips (especially around 1967) he looks often quite disgusted, bored and scornful. This, of course, contrary to his belief system, flies quite in the face of the generally loving and forgiving philosophy he struggled to live by. Harrison should have had the wisdom to find the joy in what he was doing. After all, it was his duty (in the spiritual sense) to be doing what he was doing… and so far as jobs that get in the way of meditating goes, trust me George, there are a lot worse ways to make a living than being Fab! Additionally, he spoke a lot about forgiveness and love, but seems quite ready to pass judgment on John and Paul. I know now that Harrison is considered quite “cool,” but that’s more of a statement on our times and culture, times and a culture in which bitterness, sarcasm, and anger are seen as positive “real” traits while positivity, hard-work, and kindness are seen as suspect. Shame, ’cause I love Harrison, too, but I was surprised watching it again how many negative things he had to say. Then again, perhaps I myself could learn a lot here considering much of the bitterness and anger I carry in me towards the comics industry. Also, I understand that life in the Beatles no doubt opened a lot of wounds and created a lot of scarring, and though I can understand where Harrison is coming from… it’s still a drag to have to listen to it.

Let’s talk about Ringo, who quite admirably comes across as the great sage of the group. He’s so even-tempered, sentimental, honest and loving that he comes across as the most well-adjusted, real, and honest of the lot of them. Then there’s Yoko, well as a Lennon fan for years (which I still am, though with far less doe-eyed innocence) I tried to pretend I got it and liked her… but DEAR GOD I just want to slap her every time I see her attached to Lennon’s side during Beatles recording sessions. Johnandyoko come across as simply pathetic, even vaguely creepy. And moreso, imagine for one second how Lennon would have reacted had another Beatle brought her in to every session. Seriously, Lennon fans, pause and think about that…

Do you really think Lennon would have understood or tolerated that same behavior from ANYONE else in the group for a split second? Hell no! Simply put, she had NO business being there. Period. The Beatles were the Beatles… THAT IS IT! I can’t imagine being an outsider, girlfriend, or guest at a Beatles session and thinking that it would be in any way appropriate to interject or involve myself. The Beatles did not need ANY help from Yoko-fucking-Ono!

Wow, so I know it’s now open-season on Justine, as one thing I have learned is that Lennon fans can say all the nasty shit they want about McCartney without any recoil, but dare a McCartney fan do the same and they really get their knickers in a twist. But all I am doing is making an observation, and I think if you really pay attention you will see a sadly surprising amount of bile and venom flowing from both Lennon and Harrison as the Anthology plays out.

The real shame is I LOVE Harrison and Lennon, and I even love their solo work… right down to the deep catalog b-sides and lesser known albums. As songwriters and musicians they still stand as 2 of my very favorites (of course Paul and Ringo being 2 of the others) so this is a bummer of a conclusion to come to. And even at that the moments when Harrison is positive are positively heart-warming. And, of course, at his best Lennon may be not only one of the great songwriters, but one of the most brilliant entertainers of all time. His vocal characterizations are almost as brilliant as Mel Blanc’s, and his physical comedy is Pythonesque in its brilliance. Yet I wish to hell they would have left his bile out of the mix when editing this thing. I really do not need to hear Lennon and Harrison dismissing Sgt. Pepper. What a rotten authoritative statement that makes on what was not only a major artistic accomplishment but a profoundly important cultural event… and that’s without relying on hyperbole. Their negativity diminishes something that should not be diminished. Of course, we all know Pepper was basically McCartney’s brainchild, so why wouldn’t they hate it? I hope that had Lennon survived, his take on things might have softened and become warmer. At least Harrison seemed to have mellowed and was, at times, fairly ready to remember things warmly. Of course, all the things I have said here are generalized and highly personal emotional responses, but it’s my blog, I’m allowed to do that… right? And, of course, I also realized as I watched that there was plenty of positivity, warmth, and love coming from Lennon and Harrison as well, I was simply annoyed with the number of negative and angry comments that made their way into the final product, and this is what this blog is about, something that bothered me emotionally after repeated viewings of the Anthology.

So the point here is really not to insult Lennon or Harrison (they were spectacular) but I find their curmudgeonly comments to be a serious buzz-kill. Simply put, they turn what should be one hell of a great trip into a bit of an anticlimactic bummer. When I watch something like the Beatles Anthology I do not watch it to be brought down and experience the long-lasting strife that seemed to be a part of the trip, I watch it ’cause I love the Beatles, I love Sgt. Pepper, and I want to sit and revel in my happy place without Lennon and Harrison shitting in it. Certainly, the trip of being Fab was hard and complicated, emotionally trying and scarring, and certainly it is good to get the whole story, but sometimes, as I said earlier about Pepper, the amount of negativity coming from Lennon and Harrison deflates and diminishes a body of work that should be celebrated and beloved. I know some readers might lecture me on how they liked this “honesty” being a part of the Anthology (as I do and said… but only to a point), but I’m not sure that resentment, anger and bitterness are always genuine honesty. Sometimes I think real honesty comes from learning to let go, forgive, and smile about things that deserve to be smiled about… and great works of art deserve to be smiled about. Hm… maybe I can put that to work in my own life, we’ll see… but until then…

Lennon and Harrison be darned… long live Sgt. Pepper!

CMC Gig Post Mortem


942856_10200302855227439_1732236576_nI dedicated this set to Joe Thomas.

Well, last time I had a gig here in Gainesville I wrote a post mortem, and it was rather negative. That time it was a solo gig, this time I shared the evening with Kathleen Taylor (lovely, sweet, nimble-fingered and generous) and Cracker the Box (intense, groovy, bluesy, first-rate and dark), but I will let them assess their own performances. As for mine, well, I am still struggling with my voice… I don’t yet seem to have found it. Due to a number of–uhm…er…uh… changes–my voice has become a source of major complication and profound insecurity.

But, apart from that, it may have, surprisingly, been the most at ease and competent I have ever felt on stage anywhere at any time. Why? I don’t know. The crowd was surprisingly large and the room pleasantly packed. The other acts were known in town and beloved, my soundcheck was a nightmare of insecurities and sad shrill mumblings… but somehow, by Saraswati’s grace, once I sat down and looked out at everyone, I just felt “ON.” I decided on-the-spot to forget about my insecurities about my voice and just give ’em the best I was able to do at the time, and to lean into THAT; lean into all I had. I decided not to question myself or freak out, just to freaking sing! So sing I did.

And far more amazing, something else happened that was quite a shock, all the little bluesy bass notes I popped with my thumb, all the little variations and riffs were there, RIGHT THERE where I needed them to be. I had NO fumbling or loss of dexterity. Dear God, for the first time ever on stage… my fingers actually worked. For me the highlights of the evening were the electric numbers: McCartney’s “Letting Go,” and my original “Chokin’ ’99.” I felt good, felt on, felt as though people were in for a surprise as I was the unknown, the opening act, “she who had to prover herself.” As for the audience, they were very responsive, attentive, and appreciative… very appreciative.

And apart from half a can of PBR I was sober.

It was a good night.

Gig Tonight


Well, it’s here, gig night. I used to get so nervous on stage that I could hardly function at all, so I drank whiskey. But then again I drank whiskey in my coffee in the morning before going in to teach, drank whiskey when I practiced, and carried some around in a flask just in case I needed more. It worked, it helped, took the edge off enough that I could play. All that drinking and stagefright eventually forced me to stop performing at all.

Nowadays I don’t drink like that. And I don’t really feel as nervous, I get nervous, a little sloppy, but I still play better in public than I used to. And nowadays I have Saraswati to guide me, and I realize, thanks to my spiritual life, that being an artist, musician and teacher is my duty (in the largest sense) and so being nervous and failing to do my duty is something of a sin.

So, here it is, gig night, and I am ready to do my duty.

SAW Year One Lives On!


It was amazing. The year is over but we ALL (all the students and Tom and I) got together tonight at Satchel’s Pizza to celebrate Adrian’s comic that he did for Satchel (and he actually made money!) then went back to SAW to watch a Spike Jones documentary. God was it a lovely evening. I think the warmth is so evident in this photo. Too bad you couldn’t see Sally or Anna (my two favorites, I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but their work stands head and shoulders above the rest-wink-). And to top it off, the photo doesn’t make me want to cry, I actually think I look rather pretty. And to the barefoot fans who read in, of course I was barefoot!Barefoot Justine Mara Andersen and students from SAW enjoying Satchel's Pizza