mr tony law doesn’t know how to end his show

What do you get when you send an 18-year-old Canadian to England, leave him there to raise a family, find a career, and see if he sinks or swims?

There is nothing else like this – comedy that is made up on the spot – with a running internal commentary.

This is comedy that is actually funny because it is on the cutting edge of creativity and the unknown.

A comedian’s comedian. Who dresses like a 19-century polar explorer.

Watch Tony combine singing tiny elephants, a political bit about the economy of Trinidad and Tobago, all finished with anthemic song about how Tony doesn’t know how to end his show, but then Marcus Aurelius shows up?

“So that just happened.”

OK enough, just watch:

 

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The best Wim Wenders films

The films of German director Wim Wenders are infused by his love of people, music, photography and travel.

Wim has made numerous landmark films (way more than I am listing here).

These are my favorites:

2011
Pina (Documentary)

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Pina is a film from the heart from one artist to another.
Pina is a available in 3-D – and the dynamic dancing thrives in this format. Wenders started working on Pina because of his friendship and love of Pina Bausch’s choreography. He did not expect her death as he was in the process of filming.
However, Wim decides to keep filming as Pina’s dancers cope with and express their loss – and this becomes movingly integrated into the film.
Pina turns a tragic event into a celebration of a life well lived, spent in pursuit of creative excellence. Highly recommended.

2005
Don’t Come Knocking

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Starring Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard as a funny, drifting cowboy. A continuation of the screenwriting collaboration between Wenders and Shepard that started with Paris, Texas.
The colors captured in the cinematography are spellbinding and Fairuza Balk turns in a hilarious performance.

1999
Buena Vista Social Club (Documentary)

Buena Vista Social Club La HabanaIf you have not seen this film about Cuban music and musicians that thrived in Havana during the pre-Castro era and their reunion 40 years later, go see it now.

1987
Wings of Desire

iurIn my top five of the greatest films ever made.
Captures the soul of Berlin just before the wall came down. Perhaps Peter Falk’s greatest role outside of Columbo. Also captures an archetypal moody, musical performance by Nick Cave.
Makes a compelling case for why angels should join the ranks of the humans. Wings of Desire captures internal dialogue in a way that I have never seen before or since.

1984
Paris, Texas

iu-3Another one of the greatest films ever made. Three main reasons:
  1. The desert cinematography
  2. The archetypal loner role that Harry Dean Stanton was made for
  3. The sparse, haunting slide guitar work of Ry Cooder

1974
Alice in the Cities

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The first half of this film shows us the soul of America with its open spaces and wanderlust – which infuses the second half in Germany.

Stars the impossibly charming and cute Yella Rottländer as Alice who is trying to get to her grandmother’s home in Wuppertal.

Also contains a classic scene featuring a little German kid, a jukebox and the music of Canned Heat:

Wenders mainstay Rüdiger Vogler brilliantly takes the lead role as a wandering Ulysses-type character with a wry smile. Alice in the Cities was the first of a trilogy of road movies for Wenders – all of which are worth checking out of you like this one.

Filmography and additional information

For a full list of films and additional information about the constantly evolving creations of Wim Wenders:

Paul Weller – the big boss is still grooving

Paul Weller was born May 25, 1958, and grew up in Woking, a working-class suburb of London.

Rooted in British culture, a certain Englishness has infused all his work, which has endeared him to Anglophiles around the globe.

And from a young age, Weller has always understood that good clothes and good music go hand in hand.

As a principal figure of the 1970s and 1980s mod revival, Weller is often referred to as The Modfather.

The great irony of all this is – although being a Mod is a uniquely British phenomenon – the Mods’ biggest influence is American R&B music.

The Jam (1976–82)

The Jam created many crucial albums which should be a part of any discerning music collection – the most notable are:

In the City
This is the Modern World
All Mod Cons
Setting Sons
Sound Affects
The Gift

The first time I ever heard of The Jam was when I saw the video Town Called Malice on MTV. This tune combined an infectious blend of the hard-hitting Motown sound with a punk edge and a Londonesque, Eastenders-type melodrama evoked in the lyrics – all of which came across in the video. Weller has said he drew the images for this song directly from his experiences in Woking. Unfortunately by the time I discovered this band around 1983 – The Jam were no more.

Around this time, I walked into Northern Lights record store in downtown Minneapolis on Hennepin Avenue – when it was just a hole in the wall – and saw The Jam’s SNAP! compilation – Weller looked so cool – I knew the music had to be good!

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But The Modfather was gravitating to a new sound – more Marvin Gaye, less Pete Townshend.

This was neatly summed up in The Jam’s final single – Beat Surrender.

The Style Council (1983–89)

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The Style Council comprised Weller and keyboardist Mick Talbot, previously a member of Dexys Midnight Runners, The Bureau and The Merton Parkas.

The Style Council reflected an entire movement of politics, style and music. It took the youth explosion of The Jam to the next level.

The spokesman for this new philosophy was The Cappuccino Kid, aka Paolo Hewitt, who provided voluminous liner notes – actually political Manifestos on life – with each new Style council LP or 12-inch single. A compilation of these writings can be found here:

http://www.wellerworld.co.uk/CK.htm

The music recorded by The Style Council  between 1983-85 is some of the best of that, or any, era – reflecting a wide variety of musical styles. You can feel Weller’s sense of freedom as he casts off his old identity.

Notable tunes include:

Big Boss Groove
Headstart for Happiness
You’re The Best Thing
The Paris Match
Speak Like a Child

The Whole Point of No Return
Here’s One That Got Away
A Stone’s Throw Away
A Solid Bond in Your Heart
Have Your Ever Had it Blue?

The permanent line-up grew to include drummer Steve White and Weller’s then-wife, vocalist Dee C. Lee. Other artists included Tracey Thorn (Everything but the Girl) singing on The Paris Match.

Solid Bond Studios and Productions

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Paul Weller bought Phonogram Studios – renaming it Solid Bond Studios –  in 1983 and recorded there until 1991 when his father and manager, Jon Weller, stated that the rent had become unfeasible.

Solid Bond not only provided the creative space and expertise for many Style Council recordings, but a stable of other artists as well.

Here is an interview with Weller circa 1984 at Solid Bond Studios:

A history of the studios and a list of who recorded there (including Dusty Springfield and The Walker Brothers in the pre-Weller era) can be found here:

http://philsbook.com/philips.html

Solo Work

By 1991, Paul Weller was solo.

Although Weller has said he was not feeling inspired when he started as a solo artist, he knew music was in his blood. He also knew he had to basically “fake it until he made it.” The strategy worked, as his solo worked gradually became more inspired and he found his authentic voice not only as a singer, but as a songwriter. Weller recaptured the energy and creativity of The Jam and early Style Council days (without sounding anything like that era) with his landmark album 22 Dreams, when Weller made the conscious decision to work from a more experimental space.

One of his latest albums, Saturn’s Pattern, maintains his high standards.

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Live

Paul Weller is a physical, dynamic live performer – feeling the music as he leads the band center stage, singing, with or without guitar. He also often sits down at the keyboard to belt out several tunes during each show.

On July 31, 1992, I saw Paul Weller live in San Francisco at the Warfield Theater. Weller showed that, as a solo artist, he could still be a great performer – and he still had something to say. There were a lot of Japanese fans at this show, which is not surprising as the Japanese have always appreciated good music and style.

The last time I saw him live at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis in 2014, Weller was not resting on his laurels – rather performing a mix of classic tunes from his Jam and Style Council days that he was clearly proud of, along with songs from his latest album, which stand up well with the classic tunes. His band was tight and rocked and chilled as needed.

Personal life

Paul has several children and is happily married with designated “band mum,” Hannah Weller.

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Paul with daughter Leah
http://paulweller.com/discography/

Londinium – Croft Way – a poem

 

Take the Finchley Road to Croft Way

Ramble through Kidderpore Avenue

Westfield – live in the seasons

full cycle

Welcome to the Garden of Eden my friends

Frognal Way, Church Row, see the leaning headstones

note your mortality

A nod to Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson on the way

Holly Walk

to the High Street

The Wells Tavern in the sun, 30 Well Walk , 1849

Post to Elm Row

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Highest point
in London
Hampsead Observatory – Cooke refracting lenses
see the stars
Notable member:  Heinz ‘Great Egg Race’ Wolff

Did my ancestors get to Lower Terrace, Whitestone Pond?

in 1066 AD with Willam the Conqueror

Did they go to Hampstead Heath?

How was The Battle of Hastings?

Can you hear me DI Alex Drake?

Looking for

Elevator Up

Hampstead tube

King’s Cross

Leonleon

Platform 9 3/4

find The Tune

hotel

next to The Water Rats

Globe Thames audio for audience

Her Majesty’s Keys at the Tower

Parliament Hill – scan the town

800px-London-panorama-hampstead

silver rain was falling down upon the morphing ground of London Town

Abbey Road studio 2

The red chairs of the fabs are still used

St. John’s Wood

In ancient times . . .

London: you cost too much what happened to you?

Are you still

a conglomeration

millions of tiny neighborhoods on a medieval grid?

1003px-Baku-London_flightAre you still

a small village

a giant swarm

A hive

A nurturing or a spitting out

Did you welcome Freud to Swiss Cottage in 1938 before The Blitz?

Listen for your greats – David Jones

Blake, Turner

Sherlock Holmes

Shakespeare, Declan MacManus, Richard Thompson

Ashes to Ashes – laced with clues to your past

Are your secrets lurking in my DNA?

 

Paul McCartney – in praise of live music

On the initial leg of his Driving USA tour in 2002, Paul McCartney (affectionately known to his fans as Macca) was not coming anywhere near Minneapolis.

The Driving USA tour was part of the Driving World Tour, which was Paul McCartney‘s first concert tour of the 21st century and of any kind since 1993.

So I drove to Denver to see him. This was the first time I saw and listened to what the man said in person.

The date: May 7, 2002.

The the opening act was not a band, but rather Cirque du Soleil characters milling about the crowd and on stage creating a festive, circus-like atmosphere.

The first image you see of Macca on stage is a silhouette with that famous Hofner violin bass from the early Beatles days raised aloft.hofner-5001-electric-bass-guitar-free-vector-800x565

It’s a little jarring to see that this person – the dude who has created the soundtrack to so many moments of your external and internal life – is a real person!

It’s a strange feeling – like your internal landscapes have become animated in 4-D technicolor with a killer sound system.

But that wears off quickly and you realize Paul is not resting on his laurels – he is, besides being perhaps the greatest songwriter of all time – an entertainer. Macca is going to give you your money’s worth.

What songs did he play? All the classics like Hey Jude, more obscure numbers like C Moon, a sprinkling of tracks from his current CD at the time called Driving Rain, as well as the theme song to the movie Vanilla Sky. He did not disappoint. Lots of charisma. The banter was maybe a little too well-rehearsed between songs, but who cares? We all love to hear a story from Macca, right?

I saw him again October 26, 2005 in Saint Paul at the Excel Energy Center with my erstwhile musical collaborator David F. and his friend from Poland, Pivo (Polish for beer), who belted every word from every tune aloud and aloft.

Macca played Target Field (Minnesota Twins outdoor baseball stadium) in Minneapolis August 2, 2014 – I saw him there with with Lisa and Anna. Due to rain, it seemed like the show might become an extremely damp one.

In fact, the rain flooded some seating areas (including ours).

To make up for this, an usher handed us the perfect tickets – about 15 rows back right in the center.

This was the best Macca show I have seen (even better due to our perfect location) – we were treated to over three hours of Beatles, Wings and solo Macca tunes. Paul was 72 at this time, and his enthusiasm was showing no signs of flagging.

The visuals on the screen were always cutting edge, and thematically tied to each song. But one of the coolest parts of this particular show was the preshow. Instead of an opening band, music was played through the sound system – an interesting chronological mashup of Paul’s Beatles, Wings, Fireman and solo music, accompanied by a film, photo and animation montage scrolling down on screens on both sides of the stage. The video below should give you a flavor of it.

The most recent time I saw Paul play live was May 5, 2016, at Target Center in Minneapolis. This was a smaller venue that his previous concert here – an indoor basketball arena instead of the outdoor baseball stadium he played previously.

Macca was in a great mood that night, constantly chatting with the crowd and inviting a mother and daughter on stage for a group hug and an autograph.

The preshow visual montage was similar to his previous show in 2014 – but this time the videos where projected onto two round kiosks (think giant cans) – one on each side of the stage, which created a distorted, psychedelic effect as the images and films moved from right to left across these curved screens.

Although the mid-range of Macca’s voice is partially gone – Eleanor Rigby was a bit wobbly, he more than makes up for it with his charisma – and the screaming high notes are still there on Live and Let Die and still sung in the original key. His musicianship remains flawless (still the greatest bass player of all time) and the enthusiasm of his bandmates remains undimmed and unjaded in all the right ways.

Due to Prince’s recent passing, Paul and his band pulled out a moving little trubute to Prince in the form of Let’s Go Crazy and the end of Hi, Hi, Hi:

As demonstrated above, this is still a tight little band that will rock your socks of for close to three hours…

Kudos here also goes to Paul’s band – whom he has worked with since 2002.

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It should be said that all of these guys are massive fans of Paul’s music, and their enthusiasm comes through in their performances. The band includes:

  • Brian Ray, Etta James’ former band leader, on bass and guitar. Like his band mates, Brian is an accomplished studio musician as well as a rocking live performer. His blond hair and giant smile makes him look far younger than his 60 years. For the most recent 2016 show I saw, he played more lead guitar as well. Brian and Rusty (see below) still often bounce around the stage like teenagers.
  • Rusty Anderson on lead and rhythm guitars. Like Brian Ray, Rusty comes from a session musician background in Los Angeles. Rusty has been a professional musician since age 14. Also like Brian, Rusty knows how to have fun with the music onstage, while still playing every part with the right balance of perfection and looseness. For his debut solo album Undressing Underwater, Anderson invited Paul McCartney to play bass and the rest of the McCartney band to sing backup vocals on the lead track, Hurt Myself. Hurt Myself is a great song worth checking out: https://youtu.be/2oxCTU9OYNI
  • Paul “Wix” Wickens on keyboards. Wix is the mad scientist of the band, and as a member since 1989, the one who has been with Paul the longest. If you need a horn part recreated on the keys from Got to Get You in to My Life, Wix is your man.
  • Abraham “Abe” Laboriel, Jr. on drums. Abe not only nailed his drum parts with an absolute joy of abandon, he sings angelic harmonies with Paul that belie his enormous frame. He is the son of jazz legend and Mexican bass guitarist Abraham Laboriel, Sr. Abe has been the drummer for Macca as well as the talented French singer Mylène Farmer, among others.

See the musicians you love live if you can, because to truly get a sense of who they are and what they do – you need to be there in person to hear, see and feel the full force of their creativity.

 

 

What is music? – Chapter 1. The Beatles and the universe

What is music?

rhythm

melody

harmony

ratios

stories

resonance

creativity.

find a means of communication

a medium: voice, guitar, piano

tune into the transcendent

communicate from within to the universe

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what you have to say.

learn some technical things then forget about them

moving on, most importantly –

tell a story

create an arrangement, and architecture that can work with any music style

Lennon said that’s what The Beatles did – their music could be played in any style and still work

their production was great (thanks George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott, etc.) but the four lads from Liverpool were not limited to one style

they started as a boy band.

how did they get to The White Album just four years later?

Willingness to change and an attraction to creativity more than repeating the old

most importanly: a love of music.

how

keep the rhythm consistent

or

you

will

lose the listener

inhabit the story of what you are singing

sing it like you mean it

communicate something important

even if it is something trivial

sing it like you live it

have something worth communicating

before you start music

take

a moment

tune into the muse(s).

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enlightenment – what is it?

a temporary condition, like being a pedestrian.

it starts to show up

any moment you do not believe your thoughts are 100% real.

inhabit the magic

without really trying

or forcing to stay in that magical place.

always keep

your promises and commitments, and

if you can’t – make amends.

anyone could be a Buddha when

not in thought

that is what a Buddha is:

someone not caught up in the conceptual, but aware

the past is malleable, a packaged concept, and illusion

it would be difficult to conceptualize enlightenment

that is why

i cannot just hand it to you or tell you what it is…. you need to experience it directly

just like

if I write you a PhD thesis about eating a strawberry

that

will

never give you

in a million years

the real essence of what a strawberry tastes like –

you need to eat a strawberry to know it directly

and taste it yourself to Know what it is

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formal meditation is not necessary

if you already

inhabit the place

that meditation seeks

the trick is get the you or i out of the way and you are there

let the snow globe settle down of its own accord

you cannot be tackled by the ground

the flow moments

often during creativity when the I falls

away

and you are caught up in the moment – just pure experience

there is no “you” involved

relax – see what shows up of its own accord

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“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

― Franz Kafka