A Sit Down ….


I discussed the project with R.C. here:

A long pullquote here:

Used to be, we called them “stories”—reportage, analysis, investigation—the thing we’d come to know as “news.” You’d snap open a newspaper sit a spell and travel deep into different worlds, discover some sense of your place or role in it.

Some days a story might feel slanted, others, under-reported—but more often than not, the pieces that went deep gave you a sense of gravity, of consequence, of what was at stake, how you might be affected or implicated.

More and more, Ry Cooder noted the absence of such “stories.” Instead of breadth or depth, there was something vague called “content”—not context. And that steady feed of poll results or carnage counts arriving over our smart phone reported the result, but not the cause, made us aware but not informed.

The timing, Cooder observed, couldn’t have been more telling: advantageous for the power elite, disastrous for the people. A succession of world-altering events scrolled across our collective screens and our consciousness the world at war, the mortgage crisis, the rollback of immigrant rights and civil liberties, the war on the environment—more than ever, it seemed, we needed to fight back, hold some one’s feet to the fire—but whose? “Fear and isolation,” he’s learned, “are the ways you keep people under control.”

His new album, Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down grew out of this information void—and the pervasive political and corporate double-speak that began swirling in its absence. Snaking through it are familiar themes—the struggle toward real democracy, the trials of the working man, the elusive goal of equality—set against the mayhem of contemporary front page news. Paired with it is Cooder’s fluent command of the rhythms and textures of American vernacular music—but bent and reshaped for this moment: “Some of this should be vivid and intense and it should roll right at you,” he says, “but it shouldn’t tire you out so you stop paying attention. I don’t think they’ll listen to this and say: ‘Hey, I wonder what was on his mind?’”

The album is a trenchant examination of power and the abuses of it. Accordingly, it’s also a measure of Cooder’s own growing sense of disaffection. “Never have I seen the Republicans be so tight-fisted as they are now. The worst of it is the chipping away of what people, by rights, ought to have, should have … the resources they deserve, pay taxes for.”

These songs—forthright, declarative—express sentiments or critiques often voiced only in private, among family or ideological allies. “People listen to music with a different part of their mind,” says Cooder. “We need to hear some of these ideas and hear them in musical settings.”

Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down has been Cooder’s way to consider some complex questions, to pull back the curtain on the “official stories” by applying a healthy dose of reporter-style skepticism. The album gives “voice” to those affected by corporate greed, self-serving legislation, a culture of fear and hate—and the corrosive nature of apathy.

a taste here:


Eye of the Beholder

I TOOK a long walk on the waterfront in SF and saw these little gems along they way:

An old diner after a fire:

This one, below, perplexed my friend: “What do you see in that?” The lines, the shapes, the textures….I’ve long been this way. I tend not to take “regular” vacation shots, consequently people always ask me: “But what did you see?”


And this … well, not much to say … it speaks for itself, I’d say …


SOME THINGS that caught my eye last week/this week while wandering outside my native place:

More soon as I get back into my L.A. head …. if I can even find it!

(the full quote inscribed is from Thom Gunn: ‘BLACK JACKETS…’
‘Walker within this circle, pause
although they all died of one cause,
remember how their lives were dense
with fine compacted differences…’

Second Set

GREAT NIGHT at Charlie O’s in the SFV where it’s about the neighrohhod that music creates. I always love people-watching around there, it’s like slipping into a time-machine. Men in snappy blazers, women in pearls, drinking scotch on the rocks, and always a trickle of musicians in for the third set — yes, third. Unheard of in L.A.

Great to have upright bass player Jennifer Leitham back in L.A. in time for her birthday. I wrote about Jennifer a few years back at the L.A. Times. A lot has happened since them, DVDs, a documentary and a book finally out of her head on on the page.

My piece, here.

(image: jennifer leitham)

Traveling back to “Me”

ONE OF my Tumblr crew posted an image from a recent ad campaign.

The photo didn’t have a caption, you had to travel to the source site to see what it was actually selling. And there, I found a series. Here are a couple more:

What’s most striking about this campaign, shot by photographer, Tom Hussey, is that it conveys in such simplicity the distance between who we were and what we become as well as the sense of who we hope/hoped to be. It’s such an complex telescoping of time and emotion.

These moments become even more striking once you realize that the images are selling Alzheimer’s medication. From the site:

Commercial advertising photographer Tom Hussey photographed an award winning campaign for Novartis’ Exelon Patch, a prescription medicine for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia. The highly conceptual photographs depicted an older person looking at the reflection of their younger self in a mirror.

These “reflections,” in their quiet simplicity, speak worlds about the path we travel, the dreams and the destinations, and what it might mean to be robbed of those bits and pieces that made us who we are.

The rest, here: