The Random Griffith

The good news and the bad news

Posted in hipster gibberish, music, psychedelic shack by Jackson Griffith on 31/05/2010

The good news is that old dad’s found a way to deal with the horrible snoring caused by his sleep apnea, where he no longer sounds like a lumber mill every time he catches a few Zs, thus waking half the neighborhood. Now, an exercise regimen of swallowing and chewing motions, plus random vowels along with a moratorium on Ben & Jerry’s, to reduce neck circumference (read: fat), and everyone is sleeping a lot easier. No more CPAP-related flatulence, either.

The bad news is that old dad’s taken up playing the goddamn didgeridoo, the blowing through of which is helping him strengthen and tighten those flaccid throat muscles, thus reducing and even eliminating snoring. Unfortunately, the aforementioned didgeridoo, known to law-enforcement officials as a patchouli-scented hippie magnet, has manifested as a massive neighborhood influx of bongo-playing dreadlocked burnouts and other bong-impaired vermin around the clock, not to mention the low-level aural pollution of didgeridoo and drum circle noises.

But the old bastard’s quit snoring, which is all that matters. —Jackson Griffith

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What is hip?

Posted in celebrity ooze, hipster gibberish, psychedelic shack by Jackson Griffith on 12/05/2010

At some point, the popular idea of “hipness” changed from something that was knowledge-based to something that depended upon how much money you spent. Suddenly, everybody was a hipster, or at least everybody who had enough disposable income to position themselves as somewhat au courant. The problem with this newer breed of hipster is that they messed with the equation, foisting inferior ideas into the slipstream. No, money does not equal taste, contrary to what you may be reading elsewhere these days. Don’t be swayed by disinformation.

A society needs its hipsters to help art and culture navigate through the stupidities of commerce and bureaucracy. But not jiveass bullshit hipsters, but real hipster people who are awake to what’s going on and have some idea of possibilities to where things might be going, and how to get there. There are arcane streams of data and little signposts along the way that might be missed if awakened people aren’t paying attention. People who are so busy powershopping for the next accoutrement of hipster chic are most likely going too fast to read the signs.

Hipness isn’t a tribe, it’s a priesthood. A secret priesthood. A lot of the tribe that people identify as hipsters? Those people are really scenesters, man. There are people out there who are hipsters who, well, you’d have no idea as to how hip they are, because you never sat down to share a cup of coffee, or whatever they put in their cups, to catch what’s going on behind their eyes. There are ascended masters walking among you. They’re not showing up on TMZ.com’s latest flash of some Tinseltown casualty stumbling out of whatever Hollywood watering hole is fashionable this week. You’ll never notice them if you’re tuned into the wrong channel.

Hipness is part of the watery bailiwick of Neptune. It shifts, constantly, but underneath those shifting oceanic currents, there are certain consistencies. Like: Hip doesn’t need to ride a fixed gear bicycle to get where it’s going, because it’s already there. And: Hip doesn’t tweet like the cranial diarrhea of celebrities unhinged; it whispers like the saxophone of Paul Desmond, just before sunrise. And, also: Hip doesn’t have to go looking for some arbiter of hipsterist hipness to verify anything, because the knowledge is already there. And, finally: If you went out and dropped a huge chunk of change at some hipster emporium on a totem that will automatically bestow hipness upon your parched and craving visage, what you bought was counterfeit. It wasn’t even a reasonable facsimile.

Welcome to the scene.

Oh, and by the way, I make no claims to being hip. I’m really pretty L-7: Like, total squaresville, daddy-o. I will say that I’ve been around long enough to know the genuine article when I see it or hear it, however, and what’s getting passed off as “hip” these days is anything but. Life is a mystery.

And, you know, there are some things I just don’t get. And I’m totally okay with that. —Jackson Griffith

Laundromatic again

Posted in apology for not posting for a while, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 06/05/2010

Sorry I’ve been away. I’d written a long screed that I kept adding to, and then better sense told me not to post it. Allergies are making me slightly wacko, but at least these days I have the presence of mind to be able to understand exactly what’s gone sideways in my head. You know, feelings aren’t facts and all that.

What I’ve been doing is writing, so that I don’t totally starve. I’m still looking for work, but until someone graciously succumbs to the brilliant idea that I would be a pretty decent fellow to bring on board, I’m writing. The trick, I’ve learned, is to eat, because I get loopy when I haven’t eaten enough, and then I have trouble concentrating on whatever it is I’m writing about.

Been recording, too. This past week into the weekend, I got seven out of the 14 songs I wrote in February demoed into GarageBand. A few of them I want to revisit and redo the vocals and remix them slightly, but overall I’m happy with the progress. Then I’ll record the other seven songs, and then maybe I’ll get busy recording some of the songs I wrote before February, and a couple I’ve written since. It’s good to stay creative and upbeat. Well, good for this particular artist, at least.

I like to share what I create, but unfortunately I don’t have a website to do that. Yeah, I posted some stuff on that social networking site owned by Rupert Murdoch, but I’d really like to avoid going that route. WordPress has a way I can upload them here as links, but I’d need to buy additional server space from them to do that, and currently I’m counting my shekels to avoid starving. So, if anyone is a combination of curious and magnanimous — curious to hear what I’ve been up to, and magnanimous enough to spring for some server space for me at WordPress — I will be able to upload my MP3s for people to hear.

Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem. But over the last couple of years, I’ve taken a nice toboggan ride to the bottom of the hill, and most of the time there wasn’t any snow on the ground to cushion the blows. Nevertheless, every day/ I keep moving things forward, hoping that things will get better, as many people assure me they will.

But, well … I’m just not there yet. Yet being the operative word. —Jackson Griffith

Dear Mister Steve Jobs

Posted in a b c = apple butthurt column by Jackson Griffith on 02/05/2010

Dear Steve: Now that your Apple Incorporated company has launched the iPad, perhaps you guys there in Cupertino can get back to some basic housekeeping. For starters, I’d like to recommend that you acknowledge that those MacBooks you’ve been selling, the ones that that have the slot insert for optical media — e.g., CDs and DVDs — contain a serious design flaw that needs to be fixed. I would like my MacBook fixed. I would like the Apple OS X disc that’s lodged in the drive to be removed, where it tries to eject and gets blocked by some obstacle, and then begins spinning in the drive, and sometimes will keep trying to eject unless I turn the computer upside down which causes the disc drive to engage. There’s nothing wrong with the optical drive itself, contrary to the putative “genius” at one of your stores who told me that it would cost me around $300 to get the drive replaced.

Now, I don’t expect you to figure out what’s wrong with this computer other than the drive slot problem, or why I’m on my third hard drive in 28 months. I will freely acknowledge that I stupidly did not purchase the AppleCare option when I bought this computer at the end of 2007, when I got laid off from my last job and needed a good computer to launch a freelance career as a writer and songwriter. I was watching my pennies. I expected this MacBook to be substantially more durable and reliable than it has been.

Here is how having a broken Apple MacBook impacts me. I won’t go into the shredded first hard drive, which contains a partially completed novel, some memoirs and a bunch of musical files; that’s my stupid for not backing them up on another drive. But as it stands now, I can’t load Microsoft Office, so I have no way of reading Word files (I’m a writer, and that’s unfortunately the standard of our trade), and I can’t submit my work to editors in MS Word. Fortunately, the kind folks at Google have a Documents app that allows me to compose onto their cloud, and I can even send any documents I compose and save there to people as an MS Word attachment via GMail. Isn’t technology wonderful? Thank whatever deity for Google, for those times when Apple stuff stops working, right?

But I digress. There are other things wrong with my MacBook, which might be easily fixed if I could load the first OS X program disc. For example, I no longer have iMovie, which I just went looking for. Where’d it go? It was on my computer before? There’s a folder for it. I could go grab the missing application off my install disc, but there’s that other disc (OS X Install Disk 2) jammed in the drive. D’oh!

You see, I’d gotten the great idea to take one of the songs I’d written and then recorded in GarageBand (one of the few apps that seems to be still working on this MacBook), and I thought I’d mate an MP3 of my song with some generic footage, like me looking out the window or something, and then I would load it onto YouTube. I’m trying to get my music out there where someone might appreciate it, and since I can’t burn any CDs in iTunes because there’s a disc jammed in the drive, because of the stupid design flaw in the disc slot on the side of my MacBook, I don’t have that option, and I was trying to do some kind of end-around maneuver. And now, iMovie has disappeared, too.

Grrrr! Boo! Hiss!

Look, Mr. Steve Jobs. I’m not saying I’m anything real special, but your company needs people like me. I’m very creative. As a very creative person, I depend on tools that work. And when a certain manufacturer of tools becomes so flaky that it won’t fix design flaws in the hardware it sells, and those tools stop being useful, or there are problems that outweigh the utility of those tools, then people who depend on those tools start looking for alternatives. And I’m getting pretty fed up with Apple, and with the “we are so godlike it must be your problem” attitude of your company.

I’ve lived with a crippled computer for a few months now. My crippled computer is hurting me professionally, as there are things that I used to be able to do that I no longer can do. It shouldn’t be like this. This computer should work, and work right, and this design flaw in my MacBook should be addressed by your company and fixed, and you should fix the computers of other MacBook owners with the same problem. And if you don’t think it’s a design flaw, like the keyboard top of my MacBook that was flaking around the edges, which your company did fix, for free, poke around online and you find other disgruntled Mac users with the same problem.

I’m mad. I’m not going to go away, either, and I won’t shut up until my problem gets addressed. I may be a nobody Joe Doakes, but I’m a nobody Joe Doakes who knows how to communicate. And what I’m communicating to you is: Fix the design flaw in your MacBook optical drive slots. Now. —Jackson Griffith

Aliens are coming for us? Don’t forget the Rooster Sauce!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 27/04/2010

So Stephen Hawking is advising us that any space aliens we might come into contact with here on Teegeeack might not be warm and fuzzy Reese’s Pieces-gobbling buddies? As they say down in San Joaquin County where I used to ramble: blinding flash of duh, there, podna. Of course those aliens are going to be the kind of peripatetic space trash that fouled their home planet so badly that they went in search of new environments to despoil, and they were smart enough to load up on giant ships to zoom across the universe to find us. So the big binary question is, do they just want to zap us, or do they view our planet’s captive herd of humanity as a food source?

If it’s the former, we’re all pretty much screwed, and there’s precious little we can do about it except hide. But if it’s the latter, there are other questions we must ask. As a start: quantity, or quality? Are these aliens giant ravenous lobsters — or reptilians, or chitinous bug-eyed apparitions, or slimy sea-things out of the pages of H.P. Lovecraft — whose appetites for things human will be best served by going for the largest concentration of the obese, or is there some kind of gourmet component, and what might that be?

If it’s the former, I have to say I feel somewhat safe I’m in California, rather than, oh, the American South, where so many years of downmarket Caucasian cuisine with its emphasis on batter-fried everything — chicken, hush puppies, shoes, brains, political theories — and inability to recognize even the most basic salad ingredients have resulted in a target-rich environment with lots and lots of overfed people. Given the sheer amount of human tubbage involved, I smugly figure that it will take those aliens at least a week to munch their way through Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South and North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, Kentucky, parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio and Indiana and Illinois, not to mention Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and of course the Mormon West: Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming. True that there are parts of California that might suit these hungry aliens’ fancy, but if these aliens are smart, they’re likely to start at Bakersfield and move north up the valley, which gives us time to head for the hills, where the large unhinged crankster population might serve as somewhat of a deterrent.

Complication: gourmand aliens. What if they fancy arugula eaters? Or, gulp, vegetarians? Again, we must presume a modicum of superior intelligence on their part, which means they’re likely to venture to places with large amounts of fit adults whose diets will make them attractive as prey. Which means, of course, that we’re pretty screwed in this part of California, what with the bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables we have around us. Luckily, here in Sacramento, there are enough drive-thru diners mixed in to the fresh-food-eating population to make it more difficult for diet-specific aliens to sort through us all.

Then again, they may not give a damn, and they may just come for us all. Keep a big bottle of Sriracha Rooster Sauce on your person at all times so you can douse yourself with it, in case the aliens have issues with hot food.

There’s a religious angle, too. What about churches with a strong millennialist component, ones that prophesy the return of God and angels to usher the faithful into a new paradise, while damning the rest (read: probably you, me, all our friends) to that great civet coffee-bean roaster at the center of the Earth. What I hope, for some of those churches, like, oh, that big one in Utah, is that when the heavenly mothership is floating over Salt Lake City and the Tabernacle Choir is assembled underneath, that the aliens turn out to be not hungry extraterrestrials with a ravenous appetite for all things human, but celestial expressions of Parliament/Funkadelic circa 1978, and that the head aliens, like an otherworldly George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, hit those crazy pink humans — who were expecting a bearded and long-haired Charlton Heston in a white robe with a holy Winchester rifle — with their bop guns: “Dance, sucka!”

Actually, that’s what this whole wretched Tea Party charade needs. You’ve heard about those secret camps set up by the Cheney regime in cooperation with Wackenhut, or Halliburton, or the Xe formerly known as Blackwater, to herd all the Bushophobes in for reprogramming and Lee Greenwood listening sessions? Here’s a chance for President Obama to use them for the public good. Now I’m not recommending that these Tea Party people be fed mass quantities of psychedelic mushrooms, or that they then be exposed to a 72-hour nonstop jam by reformed versions of Parliament, Funkadelic, Cameo, what’s left of James Brown’s Famous Flames, plus any “free” or outside jazz musicians playing in the tradition of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Sun Ra; I’m just putting the idea out there, to see if anyone might be interested. ‘Tis only simple and humble suggestion from yours truly.

Hell, why not invite the Tea Party to this year’s Burning Man? We could start a public donation for all the cool drugs it will take to help Die Tee-Partei get down with the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit. —Jackson Griffith

Gimme a fookin’ biscuit, mate!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 24/04/2010

What? Parrots swearing and whistling like my drunken relatives in the fookin’ lowlands? I guess there are a bunch of these “parrot swearing like a hammered Scotsman” videos. I mean, kee-rist on a fookin’ crutch, how many fookin’ swearin’ parrot videos can you have?





Apparently, a fookin’ assload, mate. It’s fookin’ Friday. Enjoy. —Jackson Griffith

The G word

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 17/04/2010

The other night I went to hear Kevin Griffin speak. Griffin is a teacher and writer from the East Bay who has written a couple of books that integrate the Buddhist path with the 12-step process suggested by Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups as a vehicle for recovery. Griffin’s first book, One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the 12 Steps, really helped me through a major stumbling block that some of us who come to 12-step programs encounter: The G word.

Now, one of the closest G-word experiences I ever had was when I was walking down Divisadero Street in San Francisco about 15 years ago with my then-girlfriend, who lived in that neighborhood. We were looking for a comic-book store on a lazy Sunday afternoon, heard a live version of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” blasting out of a storefront church, wandered in and noted the name “St. John’s African Orthodox Church” on the wall, saw the painting of the iconic sax player with the halo hanging on the wall, done in an early Renaissance style, with flames erupting from the bell of his horn, heard the priest blowing spirit-infused shards of free-jazz sounds on a tenor while a chorus line of nuns shook tambourines and chanted “a love supreme, a love supreme, a love supreme” and a band built and maintained the scaffolding below, and thought, or at least I thought, well, this is the kind of thing that could get me going back to church.

I’d already gotten sober, and I’d already been faced with the G word. When you start going to meetings, and you begin hearing that stuff about “go to a lot of meetings, don’t drink in between meetings, and get a sponsor and work the steps,” and then you hear the 12 steps read at every meeting — “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves,” “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God,” “admitted to God,” “were entirely ready to have God,” “humbly asked Him,” “sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God,” “having had a spiritual awakening” — well, if you’re like me, you start getting really nervous that there’s gonna be some kind of white-trash altar call with Reverend Jimmy-Bob Sneedleroy from some cowshit-caked Okietown somewhere between Visalia and Bakersfield preaching about hellfire and damnation and sulphurous smoke and poisonous snakes on everything, and son, if you cain’t abide by the blood of the lamb, then you best getcher damned alcoholic ass back into the gutter from whence you came, because these here are God’s people, and you’re not.

Hell, I’d been thrown out of more places than I care to admit, because whenever I got liquored up and ignited by other substances, it was like somebody flipped a switch and I went from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Yabba Dabba Doo Live Wire at the drop of a trucker’s cap, and I really, really wanted to stay continuously sober. I knew I could stop, and I’d tried over and over: stop, start, stop, start, rinse the encrusted vomit off, repeat. Any idiot can stop drinking or using, but it’s the staying stopped — and navigating past the dark shoals and iceberg-laden waters of emotional pain and raw fear that arise as a result of taking away that liquid ease and comfort — that’s the difficult part. I knew that Alcoholics Anonymous had the best track record for keeping people continuously sober, but once I got into meetings, all that I heard was GodGodGodGodGod. “You’d better get yourself a God.” “If you can’t find God, you’re not going to make it.” “God is what this program is all about.”

I was stuck with the concept of God that got funneled into my head by Protestant religion — raised Presbyterian, made an adolescent foray into the frothy emotional waters of fundamentalist and charismatic Christianity as a result of getting dislodged and discombobulated by chemically induced overimagination — and had come to the awareness long ago that that particular fear-driven path didn’t make sense or work for me. I didn’t even know what God was, or is. How the hell could I pray? I’d hear this stuff preached at meetings, and occasionally would hear people “rocking the J-man,” as I like to put it, and I would get pissed off and leave. Fuck this, I’d think. I’m not gonna drink, but if I have to be a miserable bastard as a result, so be it. I’m not going to submit, and then have some authoritarian preacher tell me that my politics are all wrong, and that I need to support God’s Own Party, the Republicans, and hate people who aren’t down with that program.

For me, God was a lot closer to what I heard coming out of Mr. Coltrane’s horn than anything out of the mouths of preachers, televangelists or the God Squad-ers at AA meetings. Fortunately, there were times when someone started rocking the J-man at a meeting, and someone else would speak up: “I just want to tell anyone in this room that you can get sober and stay sober without becoming a fundamentalist Christian, or a devout Roman Catholic,” guys like the two Davids — M and C — would tell the groups. “There are people here in this room who are practicing Jews, and Muslims, and Buddhists, and Hindus, and even agnostics and atheists. The beauty of AA is that we each get to find our own path to God as we understand God, whatever that might be and wherever it might take us.”

That was enough to keep me coming around and not let myself get run out of the rooms by the Bible thumpers. I’ve had an aversion to authoritarian religious dogma for most of my adult life, and just knowing that there were Buddhists, a path I was attracted to, and practitioners of other paths in AA was all I needed. I gravitated toward those people. And, over time, I’ve become much more loving and open-minded when it comes to accepting once-despised forms of religiosity. I have friends in the program who are devout Catholics and others who are deeply committed Christians, and others who are resolute atheists. Whatever works for you to get you outside of your self-centered addictive personality, so you can begin contributing to the stream of life as one among many, is all right with me.

One of the ideas about God that Griffin puts forward is that, for a Buddhist, God is the law of Karma, which is like the law of gravity. We can fight either one, but eventually we crash to the ground. The most important thing about God for us to realize is that we are not God. Yes, God may be within each of us, or Buddha nature as some of us put it, and it’s our job to bring that into awakening and manifestation via setting foot on the path and walking forward. But permanent and everlasting Creator of the Universe? Not me, dude. I’m only here for a while. You, too, I’d suspect.

Griffin was at the recovery and spirituality store Sunlight of the Spirit on J Street last Wednesday evening to sign his recently published book, A Burning Desire: Dharma God & the Path of Recovery. I’ll probably get ’round to reading it one day. I’m really slow, and fragmented sometimes, and it takes me a while. Even incorporating the Buddhist path — the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Five Lay Precepts, Dependent Origination (or the idea that everything arises out of causes and conditions) and Impermanence — into my life takes time, and, like the 12 steps of AA, I don’t do it in consistently linear or perfect fashion. But I have been able to stay clean and sober, one day at a time, since September 1992. And I look forward to moving further along the path, and there’s lots of help for those of us who get turned off by some of the more overtly Christian aspects of 12-step programs — like from sites along the lines of Buddhist Recovery Network, for example.

Anyway, I hope this helped somebody. Cheers and blessings on your Friday and beyond. —Jackson Griffith

Light fuse get away!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 16/04/2010

Twice chew lobster, hissing sauce. We are special golf make shop. For a moment let us ponder the aweness of its white silence, a timber in antiquity, corner the marker on turbo creation antipathy. Columnated ruins domino pizza hut hat hut chance of a lifetime. Channeling. Something. Something for a change.

I change my sunglass for style, dress for impress, let’s haircut and dance the fandango. There are times when the brain disengage and the fingers write what they want to communicate to other rebel fingers. Do not think. Live like dog. Smell through your nose sniff sniff and move toward what attract. Let’s olfactory direct, savings to you.

Not sorry. Joyous from springtime. Wanted to post something. Let’s happy happy! —Jackson Griffith