"It's organisms that die, not life"
- Deleuze/Negotiations p. 143
April 13: After the Miami concert and reception, Simrit and the band generously meet and greet their fans for about an hour in the lobby as everyone gradually re-enters consensual planetary reality. We then packed up and got on the road by midnight. The next port of call on this voyage would be Asheville, North Carolina approximately 11 hours away as the Sprinter drives. We drove north for 3 hours that night to make the drive the following day less taxing. At 3 am we disembarked and checked in to a Holiday Inn in Melbourne, Florida.
Left for Asheville around noon. I feel physically miserable under the throes of this headcold, glad that this is only a travel day. Twice on our journey up the country I noticed Midas shops by the side of the road . "Great!" I thought, if anything happens to our Midas mixer we can pull over and get it repaired at one of these roadside shops, how convenient! I've never seen anything like that for Soundcraft. As a bonus, the Midas shops repair brakes and mufflers too!
My energy did pick up considerably a couple of times listening to loud music on headphones. The album I had on rotation for this tour was: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Had recently finished reading John Lydon's (aka Johnny Rotten) autobiography Anger Is An Energy finding it much better than expected. Apart from being a Pistols and PiL fan, I'd been drawn to the bio interested to read about his interactions with Bill Laswell. Although they had a major falling out not long after I started working with Bill, Lydon describes their collaboration as one of the artistic high points of his career. Lydon seems to be saying that "anger is an energy," a lyric from the generic Album that Bill produced, can be a source for deterritorialization and transformation. That would make him an alchemist of sorts, albeit informal and unschooled.
Never Mind the Bollocks is a high energy, well-produced (Chris Thomas) rock classic. Rotton's lyrics contain a great deal of anger. I plugged in Crowley's exercise, mentioned in the previous post, to determine the possibility of turning any of that energy into post-organic (spiritual) sustenance. I recalled the anecdote where Vivienne Westwood asked Rotten to compose a song about submission, basically to advertise her bondage inspired clothing line. He seemed to find the subject matter a little tacky so fulfilled the request with the Pistol's song Sub Mission ostensibly about a submarine mission. I loved it. Sub mission also represents another mission: sub = 68 - go here to see it. Even without any elaborate fabulation, the song sings explicitly about mysticism. The lyric, "It's a mystery," is one of the refrains. Much like a qabalist, Rotten loves puns, wordplay and reversed meanings. There are other explicit references to the mysteries: "I ain't equipment I ain't automatic, if you work for me just stay ecstatic." (Problems). The declaration, "I am an Antichrist," which opens Anarchy in the UK obviously suggests Crowley and the ad lib "no dog's body" is congruent with a well known line in The Book of the Law, II:19: "Is a God to live in a dog?"
The lyric "God save the Queen, she ain't no human being," recalled a comment Devon made. He said he had seen a YouTube video where Vladimr Putin claims to have seen Queen Elizabeth II shapeshift in a giant lizard. Rotten was right, she is a Reptillian according to the unassailably truthful Russian leader. Queen Liz apparently revealed this to show him who's boss. Figuratively speaking, I associate "God save the Queen" with the 3 of Swords in the tarot. The music got me enough out of body to momentarily banish the misery of this head cold.
April 14: The venue for tonight's show was the Asheville Masonic Temple. This was the first concert using the rented P.A. mains. We soon discovered that one of the speaker stands was not a speaker stand, it was a stand for lights and didn't fit the QSC speaker. This problem needed solving immediately. Salif googled the location of a local Guitar Center then drove over to exchange the stand, dodging another bullet. The small, two story performance area was circular and seemed mostly for small theatrical productions or dramatic ritual. There was a selection of stage sets for the background on stage. Simrit chose an Ancient Egyptian themed one. The circular shape of the space seemed to act as a natural amplifier for the enclosed sound waves. That may have served well for theater or ritual, but it made our sound very loud particularly in the balcony. I enjoyed it, but did get a few early complaints which I tried to accommodate. My advocacy for people learning how to use ear plugs to get the exact right volume for themselves at amplified concerts hasn't caught on everywhere. I always bring ear plugs to concerts just as I always use sunglasses when skiing on a bright sunny day.
The circular room also made for a strong bass presence which I tried to have not too boomy at soundcheck. However, I was startled to find all the low end had disappeared when SIMRIT began playing. The 200 - 300 organic sound absorption baffles, i.e. the people, that filled the room didn't seem like it would account for this drastic frequency response difference. After some semi-paniced searching around I discovered on one of the lower pages on the mixer that the bus send to the sub woofer was inexplicably muted. Grateful that this problem had an easy solution, I was baffled at what I took to be an oversight on my part. Even the mildly psychotropic effect from inadvertently consuming food I was allergic to didn't provide a satisfactory excuse or explanation. All of the bus sends that fed the monitor mixes right beside the sub send had been turned on. I chalked it up to a cognitive malfunction on my part. This issue happened twice more on the tour. Once during a soundcheck in D.C. where again it seemed another inadvertent error and more dramatically at the start of the last show in Chicago. As I was unmuting the bus sends while SIMRIT walked on for its final performance this tour I mentally noted to myself to turn on the feed to Simrit's "in ear" monitors because they hadn't been used the past few shows. I left that page when all was turned on to go to my effects send page, usually the top page when I mix. I was shocked when Simrit asked me from the stage to turn on the "in ears" because I had consciously (or so I thought) just done so. Thinking the in ears weren't working, I tried to guess what else it could be but brought up the bus send masters page to check and saw that the send was muted. I am hoping it is just me and not a logic error with the Midas. Taking a cue from Buckminster Fuller that mistakes can have a positive aspect by raising awareness to prevent them repeating, I will definitely be double and triple checking for this in the future.
April 15: Today the band would play at a special afternoon event, a Kundalini Yoga workshop led by Jai Dev Khalsa. It wouldn't be a performance, rather an ambient, improvised live soundscape while the students went through some of the exercises. We unloaded the equipment in the wind and rain into a small yoga studio at a local Asheville center. It was a minimal set-up, only a bass drum mic for the drums, no sub. We even managed to bypass the M32 and its large footprint substituting it with a small Midas system Matt had brought with him to work on his music in his copious spare time. It was basically a small stage box with all the mixing done with software. It was the first music event I've ever mixed on a cellphone. Matt stayed with me until I had learned the commands and enough of the system architecture to do what was needed. Mixing on a cell phone and not a huge desk meant I could participate in some of the exercises to some degree while always keeping a portion of attention on the band in case they signaled a monitor adjustment.
Jai Dev began the workshop with a short, informal discourse keeping it light and engaging, but informative and meaningful. It felt more pragmatic than metaphysical; like an icebreaker and invitation to enter the space he would guide them through. "Welcome to my humble abode in another dimension " might have been the subtext. "My wife and these amazing musicians will help us voyage through the next two hours." He brought up the topic of death and how remembrance of that can be useful; pragmatic. Presented as a workshop, this also seemed like satsang.
I heard a warm buzz of murmuring students softly conversing while packing up following the event. The weather was still howling as we got the gear back into the Sprinter. We had the evening off so I got a lift from Jai Dev back to the hotel and worked out of my room chamber that night. The hotel had a definite mountain retreat vibe to it though without a big central fireplace as I envision in those kind of places. The laundry room was a forest hike away. The night was dark, the moon out of sight behind dark, towering cumulus clouds. I opted to wait until the light of the morning to navigate the laundry expedition. The wind made its presence felt but nowhere as strong as about 100 miles north where a tornado was reported to claim a life.
April 16: Prepared for a longish drive with an amazing Southern-style breakfast - biscuits, eggs, and fried chicken, the latter of which caused the internal enzymes and organisms of my body to have several committee meetings about how to digest. We stopped at a possible future venue on the way out of town called The Orange Peel - I would love to get out mixing at the Masonic Hall. Posters of past concerts lined the top of the wide front entrance. Lou Reed and Bob Dylan had played there among many other notables. The ghosts of all those rock-n-roll shows hung in the atmosphere of the dark empty venue. The smell was old and stale, I was glad to get back outside.
We pulled into D.C. somewhere around 9 pm. The route to the hotel took us on a driveby past all the well known Washington landmarks which were illuminated. The Lincoln Memorial looked especially impressive to me. Lincoln certainly seemed much larger than life when seen from that angle; pretty fucking huge, actually. The organism called Abraham Lincoln died by assassination, but the stream of events called his life lives on. We disembarked at another Holyday Inn in Hyattsville, a suburb in a grey urban zone between D.C. and Baltimore. A small amusement park was directly across the other side of the highway. In the morning, it would remind me of the amusement park in the cult classic film, Carnival of Souls.
Hyattsville was apparently named after radical therapist and Golden Dawn Adept, Christopher S. Hyatt. Hyatt was his initiated name, his birth name being Alan Miller. See this post for why he might have selected the initials "CS" to be high at. I used to experiment with his Undoing exercises in the 80's. These are neo-Rechian "energized meditation" techniques. My girlfriend Paula currently presents them in her Awake Mind Body sessions. Hyatt also famously started New Falcon Press which published important books by Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie and others. He has many other credits in the brain change arena and deserves to have a city named after him just as George Washington did for crossing the Delaware on Christmas. I was proud to be living, for the moment, in Hyattsville.
April 17: Trump must have been tipped off that the musical resistance was coming to town because he fled to Florida and it wasn't even the weekend. Corruption and sleaziness can't stand the light of day. The concert tonight was at the Kogod Cradle Theater, a performance space in the Mead Center for American Theater. The name of of the theater was a bit of a coincidence. I had been a full time engineer at KGOD radio station when I first moved to California and still work there from time to time.
This theater was top notch professional with equally professional technical support staff though a little formal. I experienced some technical anarchy with the set-up. Lines were run to connect the Midas with the house sound system. The stage was all connected so I played some music from a cd player into the Midas to listen to the house system. I got alarmed immediately when I saw no activity with the input meters on the board. The signal wasn't getting in, I thought it was a cable and asked the theater tech if they had an extra. Before he dug that up, I tapped on a room mic which was plugged directly into the mixer and that signal also didn't register. WTF? This brand new mixing desk won't receive any input? Does not compute in my old school brain. I rebooted the M32 then unplugged the CAT 5 digital snake from the board and tried again with no luck. Having a major technical roadblock an hour before doors open and before soundcheck seemed to increase my stress level significantly. I was not my normal, suave, chill self at that moment. I plugged the snake back in then descended the tiered theater steps to turn on the stage box to see if input might get in that way. Lo and behold, after the stage box was turned on, the Midas came back to life and everything worked. We emerged from a dead end path in the Labyrinth. It had been a clocking issue. The digital clock comes from the stage box so when the board is expecting to see it, but doesn't, then nothing works. All was right with the world again.
To my ear, the concerts kept getting better and better. This was the most professional, concert-like venue so far. The light system looked state of the art and they did an excellent job lighting the band, helping to supplement the strong shifting and dynamic moods the music created, territorialized, and traveled through. It felt like a showcase, and because of playing D.C., a showcase for the world. I made sure the sound resonated with the nearby White House, and the White House resonates with the World.
April 18: I had a health relapse last night; got a little chilled mixing up in the rafters with cool air on my bald cranium. I awoke feeling mildly feverish with a headache and no appetite. Fortunately, I only felt terrible on travel days. Waiting outside by the Sprinter for everyone to arrive on this cool, sunny day with the wind blowing. A mono loudspeaker was playing a freak folk song at a healthy volume with a very passionate singer expounding crazy lyrics. The Carnival of Souls amusement park across the street looked like it hadn't been used in decades. I gained a noticeably surrealistic perspective on life just then.
Staten Island, NY was our destination today. On the road, Simrit asked me to call Maidson, the house sound tech for the New York venue. His phone number began with 666 after the area code. Mention was made of its numerical symbolism in Revelations Matt gave an alternate explanation that sounded good. I piped in with story that Crowley said it was simply a solar number (6 repeated thrice) when he was questioned about it in Court under oath. "You can call me Sonny."
We would be basing ourselves at the large, five-story home of two Kundalini Yoga students and very generous patrons of SIMRIT, Danielle and Chris for a few days. Staying there was like finding an oasis in the desert, it was incredibly relieving and restorative mainly because of the really good food Danielle had stocked in the fridge and cupboards and for the healing remedy teas she had, including an ayurvedic concoction that proved effective. We arrived in the late afternoon with just enough time to choose our spaces and unload our bags before going out to dinner. Chris took us all to this amazing old school Italian restaurant nearby. My appetite had returned and this truly amazing food, best since leaving California, really warmed all my innards and did wonders for my body. Chris and Danielle truly and profoundly know the art of hospitality.
Our mansion, as I called this temporary home, was a block from the ocean. My health bounced back enough so that I could go for runs by the ocean a couple of times though it was still very cool and the wind brisk. The ocean reminded me that all the oceans are connected. Meditating beside a massive body of water stretching around the world had a calming and restorative effect. Maybe one reason why the element Water is often the first element the student is advised to empirically discover in some mystery schools.
April 19: Westport, CT. Played the Westport Country Playhouse, a historical theater that Paul Newman and family had rescued from oblivion some years back. Once again, I was thrilled to work on a stage that Groucho Marx had once performed on. The show and the house sound were both superb. I heard that the stage sound was a little muted and dry. Due to the architecture of the space the stage wasn't hearing much ambience from the mains. Despite the less than ideal acoustics on stage everyone sounded great.
April 20: New York City, or as I inwardly felt it: NEW YORK CITY!!! I always love visiting and working in New York which had been my home at various times totaling over ten years. We were again playing at the Angel Orsentz on Norfolk, a block south of Houston on the Lower East Side. This building was the oldest synagog in New York before it went secular. It's a beautiful space that still suggests holiness and higher dimensions through the architecture and ambience.
It seems appropriate to play a holy space as this is a holiday of sorts. 4/20 - International Marijuana Day to the aficionados. I was told about twenty years ago by a high school student that at 4:20 pm those in the know were supposed to stop what they were doing and smoke weed. I've never heard an explanation as to why that particular time but do find it interesting that, as Eric Wagner has pointed out, one correspondence of 420 given in the Sepher Sephiroth (the Gematria section in Crowley's 777 and other Qabalistic Writings) = "Vapour, smoke."
At 12:30 pm a lone volunteer turned up to help us load in the equipment. No house sound tech in sight. I called Maidson's 666 number and he told me he was stuck in traffic court and would be there within the hour. Another manager type was able to tie our audio into their PA - the loudest sound system yet as needed to cover this cavernous space. Soundcheck runs smoothly. We put our subwoofer on the stage behind Simrit. Tonight the bass response will rock the band's world.
We finished soundcheck early, around 3:30 pm. With four hours open until show time I opted to go on a Manhattan walkabout and visit two of my favorite bookstores, The Strand, and Barnes and Noble at Union Square. The latter usually has a good selection of obscure Deleuze titles and sells music as well. I headed almost due east in order to walk past familiar haunts when I had worked at Platinum Island studios on Broadway between Great Jones (3rd St.) and Bond. About a block south of Grace Cathedral I checked the time on my phone - it was exactly 4:20. I half expected everyone to stop and light up, but alas, the Manhattan machine roared on with nary a pause, oblivious to this pivotal moment. I didn't smoke but did improvise a short poem under my breath of acknowledgement and gratitude for this herbal medicine as celebrated in psalm 104.
At the Strand I found inexpensive new editions of Nabokov's Short Stories, Anti-Education by Nietzsche - some of his earliest writings, and Deleuze and Futurism by Helen Palmer. In Barnes and Noble I picked up a copy of Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus to gift a friend I would see in Toronto, and a copy of Dialogues by Deleuze and Claire Parnet.
The concert was the strongest and best yet. Simrit declared it the best stage sound on tour, so far. Having the sub on stage really helped. In the house, I felt able to get a much better handle on the lively acoustics than last year. Invisible forces were rendered audible. We had a confluence of forces and intensities; this day, this city, this musical assemblage. Mercury designates the coherent multiplicity of forces, the deity, that rules over New York according to Aleister Crowley in Aleister Crowley In America: Art, Espionage and Sex Magick in the New World by Tobias Churton. I noticed all the Mercury iconography in the City years ago when I lived here like, for instance, the Mercury statue above the entrance to Grand Central Station. I had been tuned to that frequency.
Photo by Mark David Thomas
For more on what Mercury does see the always excellent Butterfly Language blog here
Salif, Simrit and Jared at Angel Orsentz
On the right: one of Devon's cymbals and a Overhead mic (AKG 414)
Photo by Jila Ji
420 not only corresponds to "smoke," it also corresponds to "Pacifica," i.e. Peace. The next morning, 4/21, the world received news that North Korea did an about face by announcing that it was suspending its nuclear weapons program. Complications have arisen since then, but it's always one day at a time; one spatio-temporal chamber at a time. Today was a good day.
To be continued ...