|Michael Garfield||Jan 12|
2020 is feeling very black and white: revenge or compassion, hope or despair...not a lot of room in the middle as the social centrifuge picks up speed. Without wanting to come off too heavy-handed, it seems like all of us future-shocked apes find it easier to settle into an extreme instead of constantly exerting the extraordinary (non)effort it takes to remain a Buddha in this bedlam...
It feels important to acknowledge that we're organisms with metabolisms and the even most awakened person I have ever met (his brain scans show no blood flow in the brain regions associated with ego activity) said he gets a little selfish when his blood sugar is low. So take it easy on yourselves and let it be okay for all this molten transformation to congeal into a person when your energies are low.
Me, personally, I'd prefer to land on "optimism" when the music stops. My friend Mark Nelson, one of the brave souls who lived in Biosphere 2, inside a giant greenhouse growing all of their own food for two years in one of the craziest and most precarious experiments humanity has ever ventured, told me on Future Fossils Podcast optimism is a yoga. It's a practical approach that's less about what your tired brain believes is fact and more about what science shows is good for you, the animal that needs a reason to keep going. It's the difference between a mouse that keeps on swimming in the bucket and a mouse that drowns.
I'm waxing purple on all this because I've spent a lot of time in some extremely dark spots over the last decade and feel like it is time to change my tune. Still love and flex that gallows humor, but frankly, if we don't believe we'll make it through we won't. As – dork alert! – Guinan said to Riker when Picard was captured by the Borg and all seemed lost, "When a man is convinced he's going to die tomorrow, he'll probably find a way to make it happen."
The other opportunity, the one that opens into iterative branching possibility and, obviously, is more fun, is to adopt the "as if" attitude that we'll get through this — even if our weary minds can't help but trace the pattern of defeat in all we see. That's why I so believe in how some of my friends, notably Anthony Thogmartin, wield their public influence in full awareness of emotional contagion and the practicality of hope. I feel like every time I talk to Anthony he sets me straight — just through the force of his enthusiasm and his curiosity and passion for the weird and wonderful times that we live in. It's so obvious in speaking to him that "the world" is mostly epistemic, so thoroughly inflected by our colored lenses that it's comic how we think we know what's what. And that is why I cherish every conversation that I have with him, and every opportunity I have to share his wonder with the world.
I just had Anthony on Future Fossils and think it's the best way I could have started out this year — the perfect tone to ring out in an annunciation of what I think matters and what I hope to encourage in this next ten years. I hope (ha ha) that you will find the time to listen and allow his optimism to osmose into you. Surely it's pragmatic, to invite this in and help it tune you, like it tunes me, so that when I can't maintain the Zen not-knowing, I'm at least convinced of something good.
Chin up, my friends. For real: your body steers your mind...
This was my opening set for Papadosio on their "Desert Dosio" mini-tour, the first time I've played a show with my beloved old friends since 2013. It was a beautiful homecoming. The venue is amazing, the sound engineer impeccable, the audience loving and attentive, and the vibes high. I got to test drive some new arrangements. Overall, my favorite live show since I got to play Boom Festival in Portugal in 2016.
These are songs about living in an accelerating and mysterious world...dealing with the transcendent opportunity, turbulence, and anxiety of our century. Some of these songs are over ten years old and are only now just finding wings. If you would like to hear their fully-realized studio versions later this year, follow me here on Bandcamp or on Patreon and I'll be happy to update you.
Because there was an unanticipated glitch in the recording for the last track that kind of ruined the second verse, I don't feel comfortable accepting money for this live album, and hope you'll enjoy it as my gift to you. Thanks for listening!
Painted live at Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return to the music of Papadosio on 13 & 14 December 2019. Acrylic and oil pens on canvas (16"x20"x1.5", gallery wrapped).
I have no idea what I was thinking, other than that the music was excellent and I was set up right next to the subwoofer and five feet from the drums (reading 96 decibels on my friend's phone app), so the more-than-usually intense and gestural take on live painting was very obviously a result of my environment. Some kind of fractal psychedelic seahorse sigil.
This is what happens when after eleven years of painting at concerts you decide to finally let the music speak through the paint. When you let the energies of a band in an experimental growth spurt and a very full and intensely weird venue carry you where they may...