Sunday, September 24, 2006

Razorlight cover Outkast

And why not? Feeling tired today as I have a cold, so need an uplift. Brighton Live starts on Monday, and looks fantastic. Hope to be out at the gigs at my local pubs on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the meantime...

Do I like Razorlight? probably not. Do I like Outkast? Yes, sometimes I do.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Stoneman Family - Surf Bluegrass Instrumental

Thanks to Beware the Blog for finding this, and to JF Hancock for loading it on YouTube.

It's the way-out daughter Donna of the premier family of country music, going for it in a freaked 60s bluegrass instrumental. Rock that mandolin Donna!

According to the bluegrasschamps website:

Donna Stoneman was born in Alexandria, Virginia. She is a master at playing the mandolin. Donna has resided in Nashville for many years. She is now a minister of the Gospel and has traveled to many foreign countries delivering her ministry. She enjoys interjecting the mandolin and her puppets in her performances at churches and Christian events.


Friday, September 22, 2006


Artist by day, Freight handler by night... Collaging-Kristen

Lovely collage artist in Indiannapolis.

LolaT-530 on flickr.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

OK Go, Dancing on Treadmills

This video is high art and genius! Of course, its well-choreographed geekiness is part of the charm too. And it's not the only great video OK Go have produced either.... Their A Million Ways dance routine was filmed in their back garden for a pittance, and is brilliant !

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Searching For Blue Sea Glass

Roger Stevens who blogs as Searching For Blue Sea Glass is a poet, and a writer, and an artist. He writes music. And he's in a band called Damn Right I Got the Blues. It's a free-form jazz ensemble. I know this because it says so on his blog of wonderful poetry.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Banksy in the news

Guerilla Art in the headlines. Brilliant ideas, brilliantly executed...

Good ol' Robert Banks (32-years-old, from Bristol)

Paris Hilton

See the doctored CD here thanks to Robert Sharl

Watch the act on YouTube

and Still Listen has posted one of the doctored tracks That's Hot (mp3)

apparently there are 500 versions of this CD around, so I'd suggest that paying £400 for one on eBay is not "being ironic"

The Guantanamo Bay detainee visits Disneyland

Q. How do you make the stencils so big?
B. By sticking lots of small ones together

The Elephant in the Living Room (ha ha)

From Banksy's Barely Legal exhibition in Los Angeles

Tate Britain left hanging here

Photos of d'art de Banksy on flickr

A guide to cutting stencils

  • Think from outside the box.
  • Collapse the box and take a fucking sharp knife to it.
  • Leave the house before you find something worth staying in for.
  • It's easier to get forgiveness than permission.
  • Spray the paint sparingly onto the stencil from a distance of 8 inches.

and Banksy's website

Now, where's that copy of 10cc's Art for Art's Sake?

Oh, I give up.

'take another little piece of my Art now baby'

Here's Architecture In Helsinki - Tiny Paintings

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Common sense philosophy

One of the great things about the web is the way it allows anyone to become their own guru. No-one need read them, and it's just like leaving your diary open on the bedside table for whoever comes in (mother, cleaner, friend or family) to pick it up and read it. Tends to make it a little less open I guess.

Anyway, you could spend a lifetime disecting just one day's writings from the blogsphere, so lord knows where it all goes. But pretty often you come across something by someone you don't know and probably never will, but it hits a chord.

I particularly enjoyed this one from Amitabh Iyer (right) who's a Pink Floyd and Corrs fan - but he also likes Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan so I'll forgive him.

Amit is 30 years old, lives and works in India, but his philosophy is a sound one and works well enough for those of us half a world away. He set down the following ten perceptions on life, based on a conversation he had with a work colleague, and as I say, I like them a lot.

As a special gift in tribute to the urge to blog and good life-philosophy, I'll offer some background music whilst you read:

~ (both tracks from the "First Blues" album - they will only be available for a limited period before deleting)

Ten Things Life Taught Me

Percepts (not necessarily in any order):

1. Life is full of stress. Positive Stress is good for you.

Stress can be defined as any variation or change one encounters, a blip in the pattern of life. Given the kind of jobs we choose to take, stress is a normal part of life. What we should distinguish between is positive and negative stress.

Positive (+ve) stress is for example, having too much work, or having to do something one has never done before, or working around technology/design challenges. -ve stress on the other hand is items like - my colleague is making more money than me; 'that person' is an a***hole, talking behind my back. You get the drift... In my opinion, +ve stress is necessary, should be encouraged, and the more you take it, the faster you run, fuels positive happy hormones within your brain... That's how greatness is achieved, through a positive stress spiral. Negative stress on the other hand is detrimental not only to professional life, it also ruins your mental peace, and in essence starts to kill you....its like cyanide. It will eventually lead to death (if not physically, spiritually at least).

In Summary, Percept 1: +ve stress is good for you.

2. You are 'you'. Don't let other definitions define 'you'. Define the 'you' yourself.

Example, don't be worried about how much your colleague is making, that is not going to remain relevant for long. My point - define what you want to do, put together a realistic plan to get there....start running as fast as you can (look at percept 3) will eventually get there or near enough to it.

Comparisons will get you no-where. We are all different human beings. Don't look up to Mukesh Ambani and be awed by his wealth or stature. At the end of the day, two mature, extremely wealthy brothers still split, created turmoil for their mom, had a noisy spat in dailies, and eventually added to the unhappiness quotient in the you want to be Mukesh? If there was ever an example of how money cannot buy happiness....its the Reliance family. If there was ever an example of how power cannot buy you your 'own' life....its the Gandhi family; or how the 'whole world' is still not enough, if you dont' know when to stop - look at our knuckle brained politicians; or how the power to wage a war, does not solve anything....look at a.k.a Bush.

Percept 2: Define what you are, what you want to be, and have the discipline of knowing when to stop. Don't define your life in terms of external manifestations a.k.a money, power, position, stature etc.

3. Run life fast and hard, but remember life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don't try and achieve in 3 years what you typically want to achieve in 30 years of your career. You will eventually get there. The journey is just as important as the destination, and so is the speed at which you drive.

4. When in doubt about life, instead of pausing, run doubly hard, until you find the direction you need.

There will be times in life, when you start feeling low, when you feel you are going think you are not doing anything exciting in life.... This kind of event tends to come into our yuppie lives in cycles of 7 years (just an approximation), because in 7 years our psyche would (should) crave for re-invention.

What do you do, if you are right now in the midst of such a rut? Typically when you caught out like this, you would be listless ( I have been there so many times)....not knowing in what direction the rudder should be steered. What I have realized is the best thing to do in such moments, is change gears, and shift from a slow steady marathon to a sprint. Which means, whatever you are doing, start doing much faster. For sure, the pace will not be sustainable, but what will eventually happen is that you will push your mind out of its inaction. You may not end up where you thought you wanted to be, but you will end up somewhere new and exciting.

Percept 4: When in doubt about life and how it currently stands, instead of pausing, run doubly hard, run a sprint, till you find the direction you need.

5. Every 7 years life will force you to make a re-invention.

(see precept 4) Thats because our mind is not discrete, its continuous.....Its constantly learning. Every 7 years or so the accumulated learning of the past helps us into a new maturity... with every new facet of maturity we question more, we move up a bit more in the Maslow hierarchy. It helps to be aware and plan for it.

Percept 5: If you start working at 23, watch out for your 30th, 37th and 45th birthdays.....(being aware will make you a little more perceptive, and hence you will bat much better).

6. Listen to what your sense is telling you.

Our minds are brilliant information crunchers. 9/10 times our mind (in the background - via a form of neural thin-slicing) knows exactly what the direction is to take. Its just that the foreground (our thoughts, our conscious will) often shuts off awareness of this background or resists it.

This is what people mean when they say ' I heard a voice in my head'. Listen to your gut, trust it, and hone it.... For example, I have infinite trust in my gut for picking stocks, in interviewing people for a job, and for almost everything in my life.... In that sense, I tend to be a very 'intuitive' person. Allow your background and foreground to exist in synergy.

How many times, you have walked into an opportunity (whether its for a job or a life partner, or a stock on the market), thought about it, had an intuition and still walked away.... My advice, listen to your intuition.... that does not mean take it blindly, but at least listen and be aware of the choice.

Percept 6: Listen to call of the wild (or your mind). I have done that quite a few times, and never once regretted it (be it stocks, my wife, or my jobs)....

7. Chase personal peace and contribute to community happiness, it shall payback one day.

I am an atheist, a complete non-believer in so many things which others take for granted. One positive from this is my amazement and awe at so many things in life. I don't have 'destiny' to blame. I don't have a God to thank. Hence, I keep trying to define my own spiritual space.

The other product of being an atheist is that I have very simple value systems in life. For me, I am still struggling with defining a higher purpose of life. What I have learnt is the whole world is a game, and if by whatever we do we can increase the community happiness, it shall come back to us in some measure (thats what I understand by the continuous circle of karma).

Also, keep striving for your own mental peace, because thats all life is about, peace and comfort within a game in which you have to keep playing (until you don't!). At the end of it all, it would be very weird if Life turned out to be a game where without consequence you can murder a million people, amass 70bn dollars, create a corporate structure where everyone despises you, fight with your own brother and ignore your own mind.... Mental peace is about making the right compromises, balancing out all aspects of life.....knowing that happiness comes from within and not from any external measure....

Percept 7: Chase personal peace and contribute to community happiness, it shall payback one day. (I dont even mean to suggest that all of you become atheists, infact I envy folks who can adhere to a belief system, it makes life so much simpler and easier).

8. Try to exercise choice, rather than taking a choiceless choice.

Life offers a whole host of choices. We need to know when and how to exercise them.

We can also shut off some choices, by an earlier choice we made. For example, if you are alone, with no strings attached, you can decide to munch just a Mac and some fries. Would you do the same if you were with your mom or with a 2 year old child.

Similarly, you can choose to work at a job that pays you 20k pa; if its a job as a journalist, say, which is what you always wanted to do. Can you afford to take this job up, if you are already a CEO, with a family and 3 Mercs to pay for?

Am I suggesting we escape life and live like a saint or a recluse. No indeed, I am not. I am simply saying that one of the aims of life should be to always have more open choices than closed ones. Since I don't have a Merc today, I could choose to downgrade my job whenever I wish. Since I have a lovely wife, we can decide the time to have a baby whenever we are ready for it. Since I work for a NY based investment bank, I can choose to switch to NY any time I want to. Since I live in India, I can choose to meet my family and friends as often as I want to. Since I have some savings in my bank, I can choose to live life wire-free, no strings attached....

Percept 8: Always try and be in position where you have choices, rather than having a choiceless choice. And recognise the real choices you have, because there are usually more nthan you think.

9. Don't live a deferred existence, cultivate serious distractions.

If we were akin to a music album, we would not be one-hit wonders. We would be composed of 8-10 decent tracks, perhaps one super track, the title track.

Life is more than an investment banking job. Keep both sides of your brain alive always. Don't kid yourself by saying 'today I shall work, but once I've retired then I will take up painting or philanthropy'. Life is not a batch job, its a real-time online system. All threads have to be given some CPU time, and all of them need to progress.

How will we see beauty in a painting at 60, if we never saw it at 16? How will you ever get goose pimples hearing Beethoven's 9th or Neutral Milk Hotel, if all you ever heard was Govinda and Anu Malik numbers, or Puff Diddy and Britney Spears? My advice, cultivate serious distractions, beauty is never skin with the stock market for 10 years and you see a hidden method in the madness, read Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy to appreciate the power of words, see Saturday Night Live to understand there is more to humor than mindless sitcoms, drive a bike to realise that you as a human being were infact meant to be free.

Do all of this (or whatever fits for you) all the time. For one, you shall start seeing patterns of beauty hidden within these distractions, and secondly, all the lobes of your brain will constantly be used, and hence you shall be more alive.

Percept 9: Don't live a deferred existence, and cultivate serious distractions.

10. Success is incidental.

If you are doing what you like, if you are good at what you are doing, if you can apply yourself, then money, stature, wealth, power, etc may follow. But all of these 'measurements of success', you will eventually realise are incidental.

You don't start writing a book, because it must sell a million write it because your mind tells you cannot exist without writing it.....the fact that it is a best seller is just incidental.

If you can do this in every single sphere of your life, you can pat yourself on the back, my friend, because you have definitely 'arrived' in life.

Percept 10: Success is incidental.

Thanks Amitabh. As Dave Allen used to say, "May your God go with you!"

Brad Sucks

Brad sucks? No, he doesn't. He just makes this phenomenal music from his own bedroom, sounding about as powerful as the best corporate rock band, with intelligent and witty lyrics and superb sound. A kind of knowing teenage angst rides Brad's lyrics and the route one rock guitar is made-for-play on college radio - it's all really that good. The song UNDERSTOOD BY YOUR DAD: "In a maze of bodybagslooking around for areason to breathe again", or YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE "i’ve got what it takesto help you make mistakesto put you through a phasethat’s harder than it seems".

A one man band, with no fans! Actually, he seems to have a small army of fans, thanks partly to the quality of his music and also the fact that the source files are freely available on the web, and brad now has a whole army of remixers who take his music and produce a pretty impressive array of remixes. Truth is, I know of no other band (major or otherwise) that has so many remixes, and of such high quality - which is a credit to the strength of the original songs. You can download or listen to any of the versions.

You can also download the album, or buy a professionally packaged version for only $10 plus shipping (the cover's horrid, like the band-name, but don't be put off).

And if you're not yet convinced, listen to these two tracks:

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Jed & Lucia

But if you change your mind
I won't ask for answers
Even though I do know why
I won't make you say it

Jed and Lucia come from the Pacific North West and Sweden respectively, but have settled in California making wistful dreamy trip-hop, a kind of Feist although it also reminded me of Portishead. Alt-folk electronica I suppsoe. Their new album Off the Ground combines intelligence and warmth, like eating meatballs cooked over a low fire on the californian shore-line, sipping a glass of fruity red wine ripened in the Californian sun. Like reading Kerouac, these songs speak of love and travel. I love it.

You can hear and buy the album at CDBaby, or download one of my favourite tracks below

**$%$** Jed & Lucia - Off the Ground **$%$**