Tag Archives: paul mccartney

Still Fighting The Battle 3 of 3

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Third-Eye McCartney

Sunday morning, and Brother Shankara’s talk was on the very subject we had covered in our conversation. My heart further leapt when, during his service, Brother Shankara quoted not Lennon, not Harrison, but Paul McCartney. I knew at that moment that here was an experience I could call my home! And I do not mean that lightly. To my mind it takes a very wise person to witness the oft-overlooked and subtle wisdom that flows from Sir Paul McCartney.

“And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong.”

Again, my heart leapt when a fellow seeker in the back raised his hand to talk and asked how he was to resolve the battle in him where he goes from great engagements in his spiritual practices to fearing and thinking it was all nonsense and that he was nothing more than skin and bones here to eat, die, and rot in the material world. Needless to say we had one helluva talk in the library after the talk was over.

I feel less lonely. I feel less frightened. I feel less foolish. I feel more loved and understood… and I feel closer, again, to Lord Shiva.

Manharji and I (after the Sunday service) went to the Indian mall here in Atlanta (The Global Mall), where we had a very good, if not humble, Indian dinner, and where I had the chance to visit the Shiva Mandir and the Vinayaka (Ganesh) srhine, as well as the chance to shop through the fantastic Indian boutiques.

Then I came back to the ashram and volunteered to clean the guest house, which I did in all love, and with a great sense of gratitude.

And come Monday, I shared dinner with Brother Shankara between Arati and his “Bhagavad Gita” class. We talked for a moment more on the Beatles, and I was delighted to hear Brother Shankara, in his own words, state something I had dared not speak for fear of people just not being willing to get it. Essentially, it was the Beatles that made it possible for me to understand Eastern spirituality once I came into it. Brother Shankara agreed that they were here to do a job, that job being helping immensely in opening the West to Indian wisdom, and he felt they did their job very well. They were not merely a band, The Stones were merely a pop band, the Beatles, as Brother Shankara pointed out, manifested different Yogic principles, though, to be honest, I don’t recall exactly how he said it, but it was well thought out. With me, the Beatles got in far deeper than anything else had up until Shiva revealed himself to me.

Shortly, we dug in deeper through many of the struggles I have been having, which partly has to do with my very unconservative views of the truths of Shiva. We talked about how I came to Sanatana Dharma, and of how what finally compelled me to seek a temple was that I had a vision of Shiva after partaking in some of “Shiva’s gift,” and while having, let’s say, an ecstatic physical pleasure. This, for me, was the moment of truth, if he could handle that with real insight rather than by regurgitating some “company policy,” then I knew I could trust him with the unorthodoxed truth of my journey, and with anything else I would ever need to share with him. There is a movement in Hinduism that seems to want to sanitize Shiva, but as I understand it at this time (and perhaps further study will clarify this one way or the other), this movement seems to do the same outrageous somersaults certain Christians do to prove that Jesus did not turn water into wine, but Grape Nehi. In other words, there are a number of conservative Hindus who want to pretend that plant teachers and medicines were not part of the story of Sanatana Dharma in general or Shiva in particular, or that if they were part of the story, they have elaborate “logical” reasons that it’s OK for Shiva, but nor for us. To me, this reeks of colonialism and an unconscious submission to American moral tyranny, and people who buy into that with authority, I cannot yet entirely trust. Not all of us follow the common conservative paths. To those people, Shiva calls, after all, he kept company with dogs, demons and ghosts as well as Devas. Brother Shankara proved to be a man of insight and honesty.

Yet, I must say, as I have been reading the “Shiva Purana” I have found no textual evidence to support Shiva as a user of ganja or soma. I have read and heard numerous versions of stories where Lord Shiva does at least consume ganja, and I mean numerous stories from reliable sources, but as of yet not a single mention in the Purana. Of course the Aghori and Sadhus are known to use ganja (“Shiva’s Gift”) as a meditation aid, but there doesn’t yet appear to be much evidence for this in the scriptures. Ultimately, this begs the question… is there any such thing as a, or the, authoritative version of Shiva? That I can answer from a Puranic perspective, and the answer is that he is sportive and takes whatever form he pleases, as forms are irrelevant to the ultimate realized being, Lord Shiva.

Regardless, Brother Shankara’s warm understanding nature and nonjudgmental approach brought me to being able to trust him enough to share that there is a part of me that is intrigued by, and agrees with, the Aghori. I don’t know that the Aghoric part of me is a very large percentage, but it is large enough to complicate matters as I seek a spiritual home.

Humans are complicated, and the truths of our selves requires understanding more than hard and fast rules, and as the books of wisdom repeat, even if most people cannot see this truth, each seeker will have to find their own way, and some seekers need to walk through the forests rather than along the well-lit and fully maintained roads. I won’t go into details, let’s just say Brother Shankara handled all these topics with insight, grace, wisdom, and essentially won me over entirely in that he did not regurgitate absolutes or rush to judge me, he listened, and he understood that I was on the path I was on, and he saw me as a serious seeker even if my path would not be acceptable to many.

Everything is complicated and nothing within the constructed framework of democratically deemed ordinary reality and the ensuing ordinary points of view work, not once certain experiences and knowledge has been had and gained. “Reality,” for me, has been wholly upended. I can no longer see things in the way other people do, and most do not, can not, and will not see things as I do. This puts me on the outside with my family, but on the inside with Brother Shankara, Siva, Manharji, Swamiji, Durga and Ganesh. But this new reality exists on a level beyond the reach of language. We talked about this very topic, about how between DMT, meditation and Shiva, my concept of “reality” has been utterly shattered. When I told him how frightening this was, he nodded knowingly, saying: “Of course it’s frightening.”

And I guess that’s that. And that was all I needed to hear. He essentially helped me to feel and understand that it is perfectly natural to be frightened at this point… but in no way led me to believe that this was a bad thing, it simply is what is, and is not an uncommon experience. It’s hard enough to find your way in the world… let alone if you have seen and experienced things that bring everything we all take for granted about the world into question. Simply put, Shiva The Destroyer… has destroyed me, but, as challenging, at times frightening and overwhelming as such destruction can be, I wouldn’t have it any other way, which is good, ’cause there’s no going back now. And I would like to add that this destruction is wholly constructive, and I am willing to endure the trials.

Nope, this isn’t going to be easy, but you know what? It’s worth it, and these struggles are a lot better than lying in bed under the smothering inertia of anxiety and depression, and these struggles and this reality is a lot better than hanging around talking about Duck Dynasty.

By the end of the week, on the very day that I was headed home, I made one last stop at the Hindu Temple Of Atlanta. I was satisfied with all I had learned, and with all the new people and places in my life, but I felt bothered that there still seemed to be some Asuras lurking in my shadows. I had not had that release, that mother-of-all blissful experiences that so often had come to me on temple visits. I resigned myself to the wisdom of having to accept that though that hadn’t happened, I had learned and gained a lot. But then, quite unexpectedly, as if I had finally let go of all that darkness I had carried to and through Atlanta with me, within about an hour, the inner-demons I had struggled with and shared with Brother Shankara, left me. I left the temple, got in my car clean, and drove home in peace, and today, I am still at peace.

I have found my center, and it was right where I left it, inside.

I, for one, will accept battles with depression and anxiety, but I will not feed those demons.

And, you know, for all the ups and downs, on whatever road I’ve travelled, it always comes back to that pivotal choice I was given by the fundamentalist youth minister at the suburban evangelical church of my youth, “You know… one day you’re going to have to choose between Jesus and the Beatles.”

I made my choice…

“And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right
Where I belong I’m right
Where I belong.”

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Bob Dylan On Paul McCartney

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From an interview a few years back, Bod Dylan testifying…

“….Hard to find a better singer than [John] Lennon was or McCartney was and still is. I mean I’m in awe of McCartney. He’s about the only one that I am in awe of. But I’m in awe of him. He can do it all and he’s never let up, you know. He’s got the gift for melody, he’s got the rhythm. He can play any instrument. He can scream and shout as good as anybody and he can sing the ballad as good as anybody, you know so… And his melodies are, you know, effortless. That’s what you have to be in awe… I’m in awe of him maybe just because he’s just so damn effortless. I mean I just wish he’d quit, you know. [laughs] Just everything and anything that comes out of his mouth is just framed in a melody, you know …”
Bob Dylan

Testify Bob… Testify!

Today

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Today I am sitting in my purple chair, feet propped up on my coffee table, watching it pour down rain. My palm tree (and I do mean “MY” palm tree) is waving in the wind, pelted with rain, the fronds dripping. In the background I am listening to the lovely soundtrack to “Sirens,” a film about artist and eroticist Norman Lindsay, a man I could and have learned a lot from. Norman was quite sure of himself, and I doubt he ever gave second thought to his unconventional ways, even in the face of a judgmental and conventional culture. Therein lies the rub, huh? The second guessing that goes on in my head is never in my own voice, it is in the voice of my mother, the culture as it is, it is the voicing of the expectations of others. These thoughts are impurities that dilute my vision, little demons that work to root out my dreams from the inside, pollutants that, if left unattended, can infect me from deep down inside. It doesn’t seem Norman Lindsay allowed such impurities or pollutants to knock him astray from his course. Sadly, I have often been knocked astray, blown too far by far from Ithaca.

Art by Norman Lindsay

Art by Norman Lindsay

Abandon, purity of vision, sensuality, hedonism, liberation. Norman Lindsay, Brigitte Bardot, the Marquis de Sade, Rose O’Neill, Harry Nilsson, all saints and skewers of the standard moral compass, all rockers of boats. People like them cause trouble and get into trouble, or so it is believed. What they really do is choose to live as they please, choose to follow dangerous muses, choose to see their vision through, they choose to tell the truth about themselves before a world of people who have never bothered to look deep enough to see if there are deeper truths in them. They are people who chose to live their lives and damn the consequences, but there were consequences, there are always consequences. As it turns out, it would seem most of the trouble caused by them is rather caused in reaction to them. They muddy the waters, splash, make waves, without ever once meaning to shock or annoy. They do all this simply by having the courage to be honest about their true nature, they do all this merely by liberating themselves from the bondage of their times, they do this by transcending and by renouncing. They do this by dreaming their own dreams and daring to live them.

I believe in dreams and dreaming, and I believe in following dreams, perhaps to a fall and a fault. I’ve had a checklist of dreams, and it seems I have pursued them at the expense of all else. I have certainly pursued my dreams, my vision for my life, at the expense of security and stability, at the expense of acceptance, and most definitely under the threat of consequences, consequences which rain down and drip from my limbs like the rainwater dripping from the fronds.

I dreamt of being a comic book artist… check.
I dreamt of swimming with a dolphin… check.
I dreamt of SCUBA diving… check.
I dreamt of visiting the Philippines… check.
I dreamt of making erotic comics… check.
I dreamt of being a barefoot girl… check.
I dreamt of living a life of hedonism and sensuality… check.
I dreamt of being an exhibitionistic woman… check.
I dreamt of meeting my many heroes… check.
I dreamt of traveling and working Medieval Faires… check.
I dreamt of living in a place with palm trees… check.
I dreamt of running away to be a carnie… check.
I dreamt of being a musician… check.
I dreamt of publishing topless photos… check. https://barefootjustine.com/pics/barefoot-justine-4/

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen, photo by Haley Stracher

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen, photo by Haley Stracher

nilsson“It’s an artists prerogative to be indulgent to himself, he owes it to everyone else to be indulgent to himself, and if it’s at the cost of what he thinks is what the public might think it might result in, that’s tough luck.”
Harry Nilsson

I, we (my heroes), we are like sin-eaters, we do these things so others won’t have to. We take the leaps of faith, live the dreams, make dangerous decisions so that everyone else can sit back and watch, can shake their heads and cluck as we deal with the storm of dire consequences… or for many… they sit and wish with all their might that they had the courage to live their own dreams, to see their visions through and state their true opinions. I talk to these people all the time, and I encourage them to do it, to rise up from the mire of expectations and just go for it! But they don’t, they slide back down in their chairs and bring their favorite habits back up on the internet. I feel sorry for them, but I envy them, too, after all, it’s a lot easier to just shove ’em down, those contrary opinions, those scary visions, those disruptive dreams… isn’t it?

Paul460x276“We can do what we want,
We can live as we choose.
You see there’s no guarantee,
We got nothing to lose.”
Paul McCartney

One thing I’ve learned… we’ve definitely got nothing to lose if we follow our dreams, state our unpopular opinions, our follow our unconventional visions for our lives through, not in this culture of disparity… the deck is stacked, my friends, and it is stacked in THEIR favor, in favor of the 1%. You’ve got nothing to lose, there’s no security, no retirement… just more time on their fucking treadmill. Besides, really, what good are unfulfilled dreams? What good is a life unchallenged? What good is it being accepted by THIS time and this culture? That, my friends is nothing at all. This time and this culture is shit. It’s full of shit art, shit music, shit news, shit TV, shit-gray movies, shitty derivative ideas, shitty cell phones, shitty texting, shitty products, shitty rules and shittier rulers. Shit.

But it still hurts, the consequences still seem as dire as ever. The real question is not, and ne’er should be, “why do I do the things I do?” nor, “why do I make the decisions I make?” no, the questions is, was, will be, and always damn well should have been and should be… why do I worry? Why do I suffer over the consequences? Why do I long to be accepted? Why do I have second thoughts?

That’s the real rub… why do I have second thoughts?

I don’t have an answer, but the rain has moved on, nothing left of it but the gentle pitter patter of the last few drops on the metal roof above, and the winds and the gray left in the wake of the storm. It’s the gray, isn’t it, that’s what these people do, the dreamers, create gray in a world that prefers black and white. They show that there are no books or leaders with one-size-fits-all answers, they show us that for many of us, the answers come from within, not from without.

Perhaps I, too, succumb to black and white thinking, but it’s my black and white, it’s the clarity I have found from the inside out rather than from turning the outside in. The only clarity in my life comes from the inside, it comes from me, never from the logic of the world, never from a club or organization, laws or leaders, and especially not from fashionable cultural norms. My opinions are contrarian to say the least, but contrary to what, I ask? I’ll tell you what, contrary to this shit culture. My vision has led me at times through the dark forest, my dreams have led me down some dangerous paths. But in the end, I have to say, it’s all been worth it.

But sometimes… still, I can’t sleep. I wonder how many nights Norman Lindsay stayed up, fearing, worrying, second-guessing. My guess… not many, Justine, not many.

Sigh…

(This just in… I just saw an otter run across our backyard! Hell yeah!)

My Birthday: 2 Years Barefoot! (with a splash of Paul)

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(This entry is a rant, a birthday barefoot McCartney rant with a certain random quality to it… but in my Maya it all makes perfect sense)

My birthday is upon me, January 14th. I am now 4; or in normally gendered years… 36; and in secret years…. well that secret is for God (and a few people who “know to much”) to know. That date also happens to coincide (roughly) with the day I stubbornly and absolutely abandoned “my” shoes, not that I had been wearing them anyhow. So, why is “my” in quotes? because shoes are never mine, they are THEIRS! Shoes are not of my spirit, they are something that had been forced upon me up to that point, rather like a prison sentence. Shoes are a part of their, or your, society, don’t try and convince me I need to stuff my feet into those culturally abhorrent suffocating torturous bacteria incubators. Two years ago this January 14th (yep, that’s 2 human years wholly committed to being barefoot) I decided to liberate myself from even the pragmatic arguments that persuade lesser barefooters to submit. Two years ago I said no, I will not submit. I will not conform. I will not be bullied, coerced, guilted or given “common sense” lectures. I am barefoot.

I had always loved being barefoot, had always done it, but had never committed to it. At this point I don’t even own shoes, nor socks, nor sandals, nor hose, nor slippers, nor even a Christmas stocking. I’ve saved a lot of money. Anklets and toerings outlast shoes big time! Funny, but poor as I am, I often feel guilty for “blowing my money” on anklets… but considering what I would have blown on shoes, from now on I’m just gonna shrug it off and buy whatever anklet I want. Take that Nike! Just do it, huh? Well, I done did it. Or as Ghoulardi said, “If you’re gonna do something… do it!”

I imagine there are a lot of questions… like… WHY? Why is it so important that I stay barefoot all the time? And here’s the thing, if you are asking the question at all, then I doubt any answer I could give would make sense to you, but I’ll go ahead and give a few.

Firstmost I suppose the answer is… ’cause I want to. This is my manifestation in Maya, you wear shoes through yours if you please.

But for a longer and more in depth firstmost: as far as I’m concerned, there’s not much difference between wearing shoes and going out every day with gloves on, or a blindfold on, or earplugs in. Being barefoot offers me a world of sensation, and I do not want such delicious sensations muted by shoes any more than I want my hearing muted by earplugs or my sight dulled by shades. Of course some might then ask, “aren’t you afraid of cutting your feet?” No more than I worry about something flying in my eye because I’m not wearing a blindfold; no more than I am worried about going deaf if there’s a loud noise ’cause I don’t have my earplugs in. I ironically, do have hearing damage, permanent, from when some bonehead at a Ren Faire set off a cannon… damn, shoulda been wearing my earplugs. Think on that, yes, indeed, I could hurt my feet, but is that a reason to wear shoes anymore than that single cannon blast that gave me permanent hearing damage is a reason to wear earplugs day in and day out? Nope. Seems like simple math to me. I do realize that if a corporation came along, say like the Nike or Purell people, and found a way to make billions on earplugs… everyone would be running about with earplugs in… and looking at me as if I were nuts for not wearing them. Shoes, like earplugs and shades, are a choice, not a necessity.

So, what’s the payoff for being barefoot? There are many, but it’s primarily a hedonistic if not fetishistic thing, as well as a spiritual exercise. Being barefoot demands that at every moment I be alive in the NOW and fully engaged and aware of where I am at every moment. It’s a way of shutting down the noise in my ears, the bullshit that drags me down. Being barefoot is a pure and simple pleasure that overrides bad moments. I can endure a lot of drudgery if I can do it barefoot. Quite simply, life is more fun barefoot! Look deep down… you know that to be true… no no… look deeper…. see it! Ah… there it is, the way the truth and the light: life is more fun barefoot.

Why did I choose to just do it? Why did I choose not to listen to that sensible self that would have me encased (against my will) in shoes? Blame some of that (like a whole lotta stuff in my life) on cancer in Korea and nearly drowning in Thailand. There came a time after that, after I had confronted my mortality in a very real way, when I thought to myself… fuck this! After all, isn’t “fuck this!” a major motivator… had Edison not said “fuck this working in the dark shit,” we wouldn’t have track lighting. There are things I want to do in this life, and I’m damn well going to do them! If I love being barefoot, then barefoot I will be. Nothing like facing your mortality–DEATH–twice in 6 months to set a person straight. That combined with the inspiring whiskey drenched misery of the period that followed the cancer and near drowning. I had worked as an illegal immigrant in Chile and had to spend all the money I’d made escaping the country. I came home to suffer through a divorce, foreclosure and bankruptcy. I was bitter, broken, and a whiskey drinking alcoholic. Why did I decide to commit to going barefoot 24/7? Because I had nothing to lose! I still have nothing to lose. Let me hip you to the real rub… none of us have anything to lose… there is NO security out there.

“We can do what we want
We can live as we choose
You see there’s no guarantee
We got nothing to lose”

Paul McCartney, New

When seeking truth I always turn to the sages.

Nothing to lose, so I do as I choose, and I choose to live without shoes. And it’s my right, the right to shoes, the right to choose, I choose barefoot! I choose to be free and brave in a land that promised I would be allowed to do so… it hasn’t worked out that way. Just like with the Native Americans, America breaks its grandest promises… ask ANY intelligent foreigner what they think of the myth of American freedom and bravery. Go ahead, ask ’em. One thing you learn when you are barefoot… we are not truly free. Our basic and simplest personal liberties are not granted to us under the great American God… the ONE TRUE God in America, and it ain’t greed… it’s FEAR! Sorry folks, not a lot of freedom and bravery here amongst the purple mountains majesty, but plenty of fear. We’re afraid of lawsuits, we’re afraid of germs, terrorists, glass, gays, gun control, socialism, and bare feet! Ever try going barefoot in restaurants? Here’s the deal… ain’t no health codes nowhere no-how, but everyone is so afraid that there is that they forbid it. Can’t go barefoot to the Top here in Gainesville, can’t go to Chopsticks Cafe, so you know where I can go? Foreign restaurants. See, the Vietnamese, Mexicans and Indians aren’t as uptight as we are, and evidently are far more educated in regards to healthcodes than their American counterparts. I love you Saigon Legend!

“There is a fine line, between recklessness and courage
It’s about time, you understood which road to take
It’s a fine line, your decision makes a difference
Get it wrong, you’ll be making a big mistake

Whatever’s more important to you
You’ve got to change what you wanna do
Whatever’s more important to be
That’s the view that you’ve gotta see”

Paul McCartney, Fine Line

Paul McCartney singing out, again, about being genuine, fearless, true to self. McCartney has been utterly true to his nature… hey folks, believe it or not, those poppy and old fashioned songs… he does them because he loves them and is fearless enough to mix them in with his darker and more experimental work. The man’s work gives me courage to stick to my convictions. The courage to be barefoot. The courage to, like Paul, be grossly misunderstood. Oh well, it’s not McCartney’s job to be understood by cynics, just as it’s not my job to be understood by the thoughtlessly shod.

How long do I plan on staying barefoot? Forever if I have my say. I guess this means I won’t be getting on any planes anytime soon, thank God. Airports, the one place Americans can go to have it rubbed in their faces that the terrorists won… who needs it! The things I can’t do barefoot don’t bother me much. The things I can do barefoot thrill me. It’s worth it. So I don’t get to go to an airport and have some flunkie tell me to take off my shoes and then put them on again… how fucking random is that anyway? OK… so explain to me why it’s OK to stand around barefoot in the airport when they want to rummage through your stuff… but not before or after then? What the hell is that? Random brothers and sisters, that’s what it is… random! I don’t do random. Well, I do MY random; your random, their random, not my bag.

Yep, 2 years barefoot, imagine that?

I imagined it, now I’m doing it. If you’re gonna dream it, you might as well do it. And THAT, my friends brings me to another point. I used to dream, I dreamt big, real stinking big. It turned out that the dreams I had been dreaming depended on others. Did you get that? That’s the trouble with a lot of dreams, they depend on others to be properly fulfilled, on others to judge you worthy, on others to buy your stuff, give you the job, choose you, make you famous and popular… those are not practical dreams. Any dream that requires another person, or many people, in order for it to be brought to fruition is not a dream I am willing to dream anymore. I am finished with dreams that are beyond my control. I dreamt of living barefoot… I am living barefoot, and no one, not the Top, not Chopsticks Cafe, not CFOP is going to control my dream, nor make me submit, nor make me conform. I dream things I can accomplish on my own now. Being barefoot, that is under my control, that is a dream that is self contained. I can choose to live that dream. If you’re gonna dream, learn the difference between dreams that leave you at the mercy of others and dreams that depend solely on you. It’s on you! It’s all on you. It always was and it always will be.

“There were rules you never told me
Never came up with a plan
All the stories that you sold me
Didn’t help me understand

But I had to get it worked out
Had nobody who could help
So then in the end it turned out
That I had to do it
By myself…

Lief’s a game rags from riches
Dogs and bitches hunt for fame
Difficult to know which way to turn

Lay the blame on the snitches
Wicked witches fan the flame
Careful what you touch in case you burn”

Paul McCartney, Queenie Eye

Thanks Paul, as for me, I won’t be touching anymore dreams that depend on others for their fulfillment. And that lesson the dogs, the bitches and I have learned through being burned. Barefoot… that is a dream I can fulfill, and no one is going to stop me.

Peace, Love and Bare Feet, (and a couple kisses if you want ’em…)
Justine

Addendum: Speaking of the whole barefoot birthday McCartney thing… I just got back from seeing the Beatle tribute band Rain with Miriam. Of course I went barefoot. It amused me that more than once people in the crowd responded enthusiastically over the seemingly apparent fact that I had dressed up for this thing. Funny thing is, as Miriam pointed out, these are just my clothes. I hadn’t dressed up for Rain at all… I dressed for Tuesday! I wore BIG bell bottoms with holes in the knees, plenty of toe rings, a beaded belt thingie, a dyed lace frilled blouse with breezy open sleeves, a denim vest, bangles and bare feet, a bindi, silver feather earrings, and my Ganesh medallion and Shiva choker; and over it all my fluffy freaking frizz-mop hair, a long purple knit duster (which is cool ’cause the sleeves of my blouse hang out the ends of it like something from Sade’s time), a denim purse, and well… isn’t that enough? I think people expect far too little of themselves when they get dressed. So, no, this wasn’t a costume, it was simply Tuesday.

Good thing this show wasn’t on Wednesday… they’d have gotten an eyeful then.

McCartney Story In Rolling Stone Less Annoying Than Usual!

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“Let’s face it: I’m cool. Everyone tells me that I am”

“People say, ‘Where are all your gold discs?’ I don’t do that. I just don’t wanna get smug–but of course, on the other hand, I want to think I’m great. Because when the hell am I going to bask in this? What am I going to do, wait till I die and go ‘Oh fuck, I should have taken a week.'”
Paul McCartney

Just finished reading the McCartney story in the November issue of Rolling Stone… a thing I have avoided with great stealth for the majority of my life, but this was like a fortune cookie. OK… yeah… I suppose that bears some explaining. I don’t care for fortune cookies, in fact I’m not fond of any dessert that doesn’t involve chocolate (dark) or caramel… and in a perfect world, both! The point is (actually, the point is that I wanted to write) that I only open fortune cookies when I feel compelled to. This happens rarely nowadays, but the last couple times I felt a fortune cookie might be hiding a relevant insight in the hollows of its flat flavorless self, the fortunes were very relevant–even though ordinarily they’re about as relevant as Bazooka Joe comics. This issue of Rolling Stone was like that… I just kinda felt it was gonna be worth cracking open, relevant… I heard the call just as I hear it from certain fortune cookies. As much as I should probably edit out that fortune cookie comparison, eh… it works.

Glory be! How attitudes about McCartney are changing. Oh, sure, there are still dinosaurs like Howard Sounes about, old farts who are still clinging to their faded hipness with all their might, clutching their fingers into McCartney as they slide further and deeper into irrelevance… but the rest of the world seems to be moving on and laughing off the silly affectation of disliking McCartney out of a sense of hipster duty. Yes, Rolling Stone not only treated McCartney with respect, the article actually shone at moments when words like “great,” “Badass” and “cool” were used to describe him; a refreshing collection of adjectives considering that for decades McCartney was erroneously considered anything but great, badass and cool.

Moreso, the article was NOT about the fucking Beatles. Oh, of course a couple of those old topics came up, but the article did not rely on that, nor on entirely propping itself up through discussing Lennon. No, this article stayed admirably focused on the beauty and brilliance of Paul McCartney now. Right NOW! Which is where the attention belongs and belonged all along. McCartney was a Beatle, and now he is a Master, to me, that is more interesting.

In fact, again, unbelievable for Rolling Stone, when the Lennon Myth comes up (that myth in which McCartney is Lennon’s “dimple-cheeked sidekick,” in the words of Rolling Stone), McCartney is not crushed by them in favor of Lennon, no, McCartney and his body of work is treated with more openness and recognition. Dare I say it, Rolling Stone treated McCartney with the generous amount of respect he is damn well due!

When discussing his nature they talk of how Paul is agitated by inertia… which is also good phrasing as it utterly describes his methods and output. Since the end of the Beatles, McCartney has never been inert, rather his approach, attitude, and end results always reveal a restless search for new horizons.

“I’ve always had this sense of wonder; still have.”
McCartney

The article is full of little gems like that, little insights, like his talking about singing the old songs, about his approach to them, to keeping them fresh. He talks about not doing them on auto-pilot, of examining the songs of this twentysomething person that was him so long ago. “I’m still trying to look at it–what the hell is this thing? Why did I do this?” The article revealed unexpected little stories and concepts, like this massive robot he plans on performing with on stage–trust me, you’ll have to read that part yourself. Ultimately, the symbolism of this giant robot bit is what fascinated me… again, you gotta read this bit yourself, I dare not summarize it.

The article actually went into some very surprising territory, regarding both the music and the his personal life. I am astounded to say that I learned things from the article, things that brought me a much deeper appreciation of a few of his songs. In fact, those moments in the article absolutely turned me around on a couple songs… not that they were at all bad… I had simply missed the grander point being made in the songs. The one thing I really was reminded of is just how deliberate he is, how he has vision, real vision, and how many layers there are to his songs. Nothing is a throwaway. Many many things are hidden in McCartney’s songs… which is why he so fascinates me, and so alienates critics like Mr. Sounes… critics don’t have the wisdom to search through to the hidden layers.

Two of the finest examples of songs that I gained insight to through this article would be “Save Us” from the new album, and “Nod Your Head” from Memory Almost Full. I had originally tossed the lyrics to “Nod Your Head” off as not having any meaning, but now that I realize that it was McCartney singing about his love of oral sex… well the song is suddenly not only positively filthy, but hot… but keep in mind… it always rocked. In fact that whole obsessively sexual aspect of McCartney somehow slid by me. We learn about how he thinks about sex through this article, and I can most definitely see it in the lyrics. This was traced back to the Beatles in the discussion, but they also discussed “Eat At Home” from Ram as having been about sex as well. I blush to realize that I really had no idea! Actually, I rather liked learning this.

Regarding “Save Us,” I learned that the song is about (in McCartney’s own words) “The savior aspect of having a good woman.” I love his phrasing of that, strong, religious, and not that of a kid writing love songs. This also reminded me of “Rough Ride” from Flowers In the Dirt, which I had figured was about the very same thing back in 1989… as well as about flat-out sex. Now I know my suspicions were confirmed, and it also confirms my suspicions of “I Owe It All To You” from Off the Ground being about the savior aspect of love. That has always been a favorite, and knowing I was right about it is lovely. “I Owe It All To You” most definitely sings of love as part of the spiritual and mystical life. Again, not kids’ stuff love song wise. As for “Save Us,” it was one of the few songs on the new album that didn’t knock me out… now it’s starting to knock at me a little more.

I learned many other things I suspected from McCartney, that his dancing around affable thumbs-up thing is not phoney… that’s who he is with his crew even when the cameras are off. Of course, every yin has it’s yang, and I also learned that he is a stern employer–wouldn’t he have to be, after all, he is (Rolling Stone’s words) “Paul Motherfucking McCartney.”

Well, while I’m pleased Rolling Stone has caught up… he was always, great, badass, cool, and Paul Motherfucking McCartney, even when they were too blind to see it and too deaf to hear it.

Just goes to show you, doesn’t it? Sometimes… they are ALL wrong, all of them! Sometimes, it’s not Paul, it’s not us, it’s them, and we just have to wait for them to catch up to us. I find this comforting, and am pleased to have learned it through Paul Motherfucking McCartney.

The Relevance Of “Silly Love Songs”

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OK, group, we’re done using “Silly Love Songs” as some sort of barometer to measure McCartney’s work. We’re done using it as a pivot point from which to compare his later work. we are done propping up our dismissal of McCartney’s solo career with it. We’re done not getting it, and we are especially done using it as a crutch–and all of this is aimed at critics, and to a lesser extent the Cult Of Lennon.

First off, let’s put “Silly Love Songs” in perspective. for one, that song was only a small part of who McCartney was and is as an artist–I mean a very very small part. Taking it out of context and grinning with glee as critics prop up their ignorant views of McCartney with it has been a pop press pastime for far too long. Let’s look at the song in context of the album from which it came, “Wings At the Speed Of Sound,” while not a major favorite, the album has grown on me greatly, and there are times where its vibe is the ONLY vibe that will do… so I play it and enjoy it… I am playing it now! Track by track, the album itself proves that so-called “Silly Love Songs” were far from the norm for McCartney, not only on Speed Of Sound, but before and after Speed Of Sound.

“Let ‘Em In,” is another song that is oft dismissed, though foolishly so, by, well… fools. The song is far from shallow, and is in fact a rather elegantly simple plea that we let the good people in, into our homes, our hearts, and our culture. Odd, that McCartney’s subtle use of metaphor was absolutely missed by the very people who think they are too smart for him… it is obvious upon reflection that he was too smart for them all along. Additionally, production-wise, the plodding rhythm of the song builds to an interesting intensity. “The Note You Never Wrote” is not so much a love song as a song of loss and loneliness… and those were the sorts of songs McCartney excelled at, songs about very specific loneliness. In tone the song has tremendous vibe, and is quite a trippy treat as it slowly draws us into its spartan solitude. “She’s My Baby,” is indeed a love song, but quite an adoring one, and quite personal, and let’s not dismiss the great jazzy melody of this one. “Beware My Love” is far from a poppy silly love song, and is instead a rather intense roller-coaster rocker. “Wino Junko,” which was written and performed by Jimmy McCulloch, is, and yet, another song about addiction. Now we come to “Silly Love Songs,” and will talk about that later. “Cook Of the House,” well… I really never liked that one much, but it’s quite an odd topic for a pop-rock song. “Time To Hide” is a Denny Laine tune, bluesy and potent. “Must Do Something About It” is a charming tune McCartney wrote, again about a very specific reaction to loneliness. “San Ferry Anne” is one of McCartney’s finest, a charming and eccentric little piece of wistful mysticism. We end with “Warm and Beautiful” which, while a love song, is anything but silly. So as you can see… his “Silly Love Songs” days were behind him even then, not merely behind him… they never happened. “Silly Love Songs” was always the exception with McCartney and NEVER the rule, all of his songs were far too imaginative for that.

So, how did this whole derision of “Silly Love Songs” start? John Lennon. He had said dismissively in interviews that all McCartney did was write silly love songs. I could go through McCartney’s entire catalog to disprove this, but won’t, as the charge is simply Lennon being an asshole. It is so utterly untrue that the fact that it stuck baffles me. Any tour through Band On the Run as an album reveals that the statement is pure nonsense. of course the critics (especially at Rolling Stone) were in bed with John and Yoko, and most of the criticism of McCartney strung from that incestuous place, and as the Cult Of Lennon grew, so did the mythology of that statement. Why did Lennon say that? Jealousy. Lennon could not handle that McCartney was more talented, famous, and successful than he was, so he ground his axe on McCartney’s skull endlessly, and loving an aggressive swaggering cynic, the pop press was more than ready to get in line and kiss Lennon’s ass. McCartney, fed up, eventually wrote a response to Lennon’s bullshit, and that response was “Silly Love Songs.” A direct passive-aggressive reply that quite hilariously blew up in Lennon’s face as the song became one of McCartney’s biggest hits. How’s that for Instant Karma?

The song and its lyrics are far from saccharine as the press and critics assert, it is in fact, quite acidic and far from silly, it is deeply personal and painful in inspiration. This is not a fluffy song, it is a plea to be understood, a profound statement in defense of McCartney’s point of view (world view)… nothing remotely silly about that at all. McCartney opens singing:

“You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs,
But I look around me and I see it isn’t so,
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs,
And what’s wrong with that?
Id like to know, cause here I go again.”

As you can see by the song’s opening, he is replying directly to Lennon, and essentially saying, “Sod off, buddy, ain’t nothin’ wrong with love songs.” Let’s add to this that a vast majority of Lennon’s songs were silly love songs, and in fact ones far less palatable than McCartney’s. I, for one, have NO desire to hear myopic songs about Yoko Ono.

The song itself is, as you can see, aggressive, and a very very direct response to Lennon. Why, some might ask, would McCartney take this aggressive and defensive stance, then sweeten the tune with pop sensibilities? Juxtaposition and irony, the great ones always are very aware of the power of juxtaposition, irony, and as we discussed with “Let ‘Em In,” metaphor. McCartney has used juxtaposition and irony since the Beatles, see “Helter Skelter” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” Beyond merely being a response, “Silly Love Songs” is a taunt, a satire, a mockery of Lennon’s bullshit. So not only is McCartney using the juxtaposition of his poppy tune and pained and angry subject matter, he is being ironic by responding to the accusation that he writes silly poppy love songs by couching his response and defense within the confines of the very sort of song he was being accused of writing. Brilliant! McCartney goes on…

“I love you, I love you,
I love you, I love you,
I can’t explain the feelings plain to me, say can’t you see?
Ah, she gave me more, she gave it all to me,
Now can’t you see,
What’s wrong with that,
I need to know, cause here I go again,
I love you, I love you.”

Beautiful. McCartney is defending not only love songs, but Linda and his love for her. he continues his reply to Lennon by pointing out that there is nothing silly about love at all… which Lennon should have known considering the plethora of silly love songs he crapped out.

“Love doesn’t come in a minute,
Sometimes it doesn’t come at all,
I only know that when I’m in it,
It isn’t silly, no, it isn’t silly, love isn’t silly at all.”

And that’s just it, Lennon, critics, and hipsters… ain’t nothing silly about love or love songs at all. At its core, the contempt people feel for this song is rather a conflict of world views. McCartney is a romantic, Lennon, the critics, and most rock fans are cynics. of course cynics are suspicious of love and joy, and celebrations of love and joy, but here’s the rub, cynicism is not intelligence… it is the lazy man’s way of being intellectual. Cynicism (especially cynicism that dismisses the grandly romantic) is merely a crutch for people who want an instant gratification version of intellectualism.

Let’s add to this that “Silly Love Songs” is actually deceptively simple… in other words, there is nothing especially simple about it, the melody, though catchy, is really rather intricate compared to… say… Lennon’s songs. And of course there is the spectacular bass line! Even Lennon was willing to begrudgingly throw McCartney that bone. of course the song itself, when truly listened to, is anything but pedestrian disco, it is very McCartney, his fingerprints as a melodist are all over this tune. His sense of structure and drama alone raise this song above the other pop tunes of the time. Then of course there are the cascading vocal harmonies and dynamics. It is more a song to be listened to than dismissed.

But what bugs me most is that for nearly 40 years now people have been throwing this song in McCartney’s face. Nowadays it has become one of the great predictabilities of Rolling Stone and half-witted pop-pressdom to open any positive statement about a McCartney album or song by derisively announcing that “McCartney’s Silly Love Songs are behind him.” Well… fuck you, he never was living in his silly love songs, you were. Pay attention! There just aren’t that many silly love songs in McCartney’s catalog, and if there were, I have to ask…. “What’s wrong with that” anyhow?

Lastly I would like to add that I for one don’t find love songs all that silly, especially not McCartney’s. His are usually quite original and personal, far too much so to be silly. And as even the quick assessment of the album “Silly Love Songs” came from (see above), McCartney just didn’t write all that many fluffy or silly pop love songs. Since the beginning he has been out on the road kicking ass and rocking, creating experimental and trippy progressive rock, and expressing himself eloquently, so the problem is not his music, the problem is the assholes who refuse to take that wad of shit Lennon shoved in their ears out to listen to McCartney’s music on their own terms. The people who are still going on about “Silly Love Songs” are simply dimwitted followers looking for easy answers, people with too little imagination to go where McCartney wants to take them.

Besides all that, I for one would not want to live in a world with none of McCartney’s love songs, silly or not, many of those precious few songs are dear to me, and as his work and music outlives his critics, they will prove to be dear to the rest of the world as well.

So move on dinosaurs, let go, and get your heads out of your asses! It ain’t McCartney stuck in silly love songs, and never was… it’s you that is stuck there. I’ve thrown you a rope, you can use it to hang yourselves or pull yourself out of the muck you are stuck in… your choice.

Why No Justine Review Of “NEW” By Paul McCartney?

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I’ve been asking myself why I haven’t posted a “review” of Paul McCartney’s latest album… “NEW.” My answer is rather complicated, and requires a little foundational understanding. See, I believe that the process of making art is shamanic, the purpose of making art is shamanic, sacred, therefor artists are shaman. Great artists, masters, are of course sacred, perhaps almost luminous beings. They are beyond the words, or even understanding, of the average man (or woman), especially beyond the understanding of critics and their silly little “reviews.”

Besides all that I simply feel that the act of being a critic is immoral, an act of vandalism, and the words of critics, and the act of allowing critics to be of any importance at all, merely drags art into the lowly gutter of the common man. By their very nature critics take the pearls artists cast before swine and bury them in the slop… thinking themselves and their foolish little opinions of great import as they muddy the pearls. It’s rather grotesque, actually.

heinrichkley-artcritic

Looking through history at the hilarious wrongness of the words of critics when discussing masterpieces has taught me that the mere existence of critics is not merely immoral, but annoying. They are rather like flies buzzing around a picnic. Problem is, we can’t just put out critic-paper, get a bunch of ’em stuck on it and throw it away… they are slightly more clever than flies. So, let’s look at that… we have immoral cretins (critics) getting their filthy shitty bug-legs all over the golden works of masters. Who needs it. And while I’m onto “who needs it,” well, I know I don’t. I don’t need some critic to affirm or challenge what I know… they know far less than I. If critics really knew anything about music they would be musicians, if they knew anything about writing they would write… so what the hell are they, and what hell do they do anyway? In the words of Hans Christian Andersen… they do “nothing.”

Of course I wouldn’t have written a critique of McCartney’s latest, I would have written an exploration, an appreciation… I would have written questions for myself to answer as the album and its songs revealed its secrets to me over the coming years and decades. I will say, the first time I heard New I wept, and always at the same point… and wept the second and third times and beyond:

“May sweet memories of friends from the past,
Always comes to you, when you look for them,
And your inspiration, long may it last,
May it come to you, time and time again.”

What a divine and eloquent blessing for him to bestow upon his fellow artists. Yes, I wept, and wept that he was speaking so emotionally through the rest of the song about how people have tried to remove him of the credit he is do, and I wept into the next song or so in gratitude that Paul McCartney is still out there being so beautiful.

I have learned, personally, that many of the albums McCartney has created that I didn’t like, or dismissed, when I was young were simply over my head. Unfortunately when it comes to McCartney his albums have been over the head of the entire culture… and truly ahead of their times. Lots of artists are purported to be ahead of their time by critics, but rarely are they more than five or ten minutes ahead of their time. McCartney has at times been decades ahead of his time. In other words, it wasn’t that some of McCartney’s albums weren’t up to my standards, as time has rolled on I have realized that it was quite the opposite: I was not up to McCartney… he was dashing ahead and figuring eventually we would catch up. Well, I have. Time will make this all the more evident, trust me on this. McCartney is a master, and few masters walk the earth at any given time, plenty of great artists, a few legends, but precious few masters.

There is only one way to approach his latest album… with an awareness of his station. His album cannot be listened to with dismissive ears, with ears searching for the flaws, with petty little presuppositions; no, the album needs to be approached with respect, as something to study and learn from, as something that has something to teach, as the work of a master. We must bow before it, in the Hindu sense, as we bow before the ones we respect and love. McCartney is a master, and the works of masters must be approached with humility. To approach the work of a master as if we knew something he did not, as if we were somehow too smart for him, simply doesn’t make sense to me.

I also haven’t discussed the album with many people because I do not want to discuss it. In the past I would get excited about an album and try and get all my friends to come over for a listen… not anymore. If they are to discover the album, it probably won’t be through me this time. See, I don’t want to get involved in a conversation with someone for whom the album is just another pop album. It isn’t. We shouldn’t be comparing McCartney’s latest to Pearl Jam’s latest. There is no comparison, they are not on the same plane of existence. I don’t want to have to defend the album, defend McCartney, defend or explain my views. I just want to enjoy it in an isolation chamber.

If someone gets it, gets the album, gets the respect required to approach this work of art, then I would enjoy THAT discussion, otherwise… I’m putting my headphones back on, thank you very much.

What do you call a thousand critics at the bottom of the ocean?…

(To read the entire Hans Christian Andersen story “Something” follow this: http://hca.gilead.org.il/somethin.html)