Eleven o’clock.

It’s another strange kind of day to me, and I didn’t sleep well during the night because of my financial worries. I just hang on and hope that things get better around the world.

And the strong seem to get more

While the weak ones fade

Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade

Mama may have

And Papa may have

God bless the child that’s got his own

That’s got his own


The Unfinished Guitar

Wee hours.

The day yesterday went by lonely and boring. I racked my brains for things to kill time. At around noon I plugged in my diy jazz bass and played it for an hour. I thought it sounded good, though the neck on it needs finishing, maybe with a varnish, and the headstock should be trimmed down. Since I’ve got someone for transportation, I ought to take it to Guitar Center, show it to the tech, and ask for advice. While I’m there, I can put feelers out for musicians to jam with… It’s hard to believe the severity of the adversities that have hit the world since 2020. Life as drama is nothing like Shakespeare, but instead like Ionesco and the absurdists. It is a play written by a chaotician or an idiot, or not written at all. Paints are spattered randomly on the wall by a brainless machine. The effects were here before the causes, and the meaning is only secondary. It subverts reason and human knowledge, the patient efforts of an Aristotle to create system from disorder. Still it seems that way sometimes. That’s why we need to make music and inventions like radio and the phonograph. Without the stamp of humanity on the world, it remains a stubborn jungle.

Music Far and Near

Quarter after eleven.

I was dreaming of the composition of Debussy’s “Clouds.” It is a piece of impressionism that evokes an image of moonlight illuminating clouds at night, tracing their movement across the sky. My dream adds the element of the composer being alone in a wood, hearing the strains of this music from afar, borne on a sublime breeze. Perhaps I remembered a description by Victor Hugo where Valjean and Cosette are in a churchyard at night, having vaulted the walls to elude their pursuers, and suddenly rapt by the sounds of this inexplicable music from nearby. Later, Valjean learns it’s the singing of the choir of the convent, where he and the little girl will take residence and she will be educated over a course of years. The convent is their refuge from persecution by Javert the detective. As long as they stay there, they are safe.


I just found an email from a music prospect. It was actually a rejection notice, but it’s nice to hear anything back at all. They gave me due consideration at their meeting tonight and were fair and reasonable about the whole thing. Now I can move on to new things.


Eight twenty five.

I hit Community Market just during a rush. Lots of people came and went, mostly guys, and they were customers and distributors. It’s another nosebleed cold morning. I have to leave the house at ten fifteen, when the taxi picks me up to go to the agency for my appointment… Over a week ago I posted an ad to Craigslist looking for musicians to jam with. To my surprise, three people have already replied, and maybe the third one will turn out good… For some reason, the song in my head is “Point of Know Return,” an old classic by Kansas.

Was it you that said

How long

How long

How long

How long to the point of know return?

I love the sound of Dave Hope’s P Bass in the mid seventies, and he and Phil Ehart made a fine rhythm section. Arguably, Kansas was the best American prog band, though some prefer Frank Zappa. In my opinion, Kansas belongs more to the genre of art rock, similar to Yes and Genesis in the UK.

D.H. Luddite


I’m wondering why the music has died. With the rise of the internet and electronic devices, people have become less human and social, which means they don’t make music together anymore. My iPad is so smart that it anticipates everything I’m going to say before I say it. D.H. Lawrence could’ve foreseen a world like ours, with the machines out of control and human beings subordinate to them. He’d be disgusted that we let this happen… Now we depend on the machines and keep using them for our convenience. I think live music is a casualty of the machine dependent age. It brings out the Luddite in me, though The Buggles saw the same thing in 1979 when they made The Age of Plastic.

Video killed the radio star

Video killed the radio star

In my mind and in my car

We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far

Short of some cataclysm, it’s impossible to go back. But if I had a Time Machine, you know I’d go backwards like a shot.

I am the backwards traveler

Ancient wool unraveler

Singing songs, wailing on the moon…

We’ll be wailing on the moon 

The Motels


Again I feel tired and kind of lonely since talking with my sister on the phone. Sometimes we just don’t agree on much at all, and it wears me down. I had a different father from my siblings, which puts me on an island all by myself.

Quarter of three.

I was feeling low, so I needed to distract myself by doing something different. I played the bass for a bit and found myself picking out an old song by The Motels called “Only the Lonely.” I used harmonics for the synth chords, just simple diatonic fourths, and the bass line was easy enough. Presently I felt sad and pensive, remembering my mother’s own loneliness and need of a friend. When I was 16 I vowed to myself that I would be kind to Mom and be her buddy. The video by The Motels was often on MTV that autumn, causing me to stop and think, though a teenager’s thoughts are mostly nonverbal. At least mine were. And the emotions I felt were pain and pity even though the song was a little lugubrious.

I Was Blue and Lonely

Aesop has been pouting all day because I tried to make a phone call this morning. Well anyway, I had to leave a message for Polly and I didn’t hear back from her at all today. Altogether it’s been a frustrating time for me. My book still hasn’t arrived either. It’s one of those days when the dog bites and the bee stings, and everything is going wrong. I was lonely and restless this afternoon, so I ate early and went to bed for two hours, though I didn’t sleep. I really don’t like the days when I feel abandoned by everyone. Sometimes it just works out that way, and I can be deserted for a couple of days consecutively. It sucks.
“It’s so hard to stay together, passing through revolving doors
We need someone to talk to and someone to sweep the floors
Incomplete, incomplete”
“In this desert that I call my soul
I always play the starring role
So lonely…”
“I see you’ve sent my letters back
And my LP records and they’re all scratched
I can’t see the point in another day
When nobody listens to a word I say”
“Eleanor Rigby died in a church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people, where do they all come from
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
There’s a billion songs like these ones. I actually had to chuckle at the third one above. It’s from a song called “Can’t Stand Losing You,” written by Sting with The Police for their first album, Outlandos d’ Amour. I think my favorite album they did was Zenyatta Mondatta, in 1980. By then, they had lost all trace of their punk rock beginnings and sounded more refined and sophisticated. This was the sound that became their signature from then on. I love to hear Andy Summers on guitar, either a Telecaster or a Strat, starting when they made Regatta de Blanc. So tastefully done.


Quarter of ten.

The dust is settling after my absence from church yesterday. Maybe tonight I’ll sleep better. It looks like the sparrows are fighting off an intruder to their birdhouse, a bigger variety of bird. I should get up and bang on the door but I feel too lazy to save the sparrow family. The ground is wet after overnight rain and it’s cloudy again today. Like yesterday, I’m willing away the spooks as I can, cutting out the metaphysics. They only make me uncomfortable and they worsen the illness… I feel like a zombie right now. 

Yesterday I sort of channeled John Wetton while I played my bass, copping his lines from a few very old Crimson tunes, mostly from Red. I haven’t listened to his work with Bryan Ferry in some time but I remember it was great. Wetton toured with Roxy Music and played live out of a handful of bass players at different times. He did that for a couple of years before he formed UK with Bill Bruford, Allan Holdsworth, and Eddie Jobson in 1978. And then, with Asia in the Eighties, his focus changed from the bass to his voice as he became an important frontman. My favorite work by Wetton happened during the Seventies when he was the bass virtuoso. 


Eight forty.

An event that happened 35 years ago still has me pondering the meaning of being human versus animal. According to ancient wisdom, humans have a rational faculty that allows them to participate in the divine and rise above animal instinct. But the distinction gets hazier when you move from philosophy to modern anthropology and consider evolution and the continuity of the whole animal kingdom. Then what happens to human specialness and the diviner part called reason? Can we still set ourselves apart? Here, my logic tends to break down.

Yesterday afternoon there was a hailstorm and this morning, the stones are still around to whiten rooftops and litter the lawns of the neighborhood. It’s cold. A while ago I remembered an album by Weather Report titled Night Passage. I bought the cassette as a special order from a small business named Face the Music on 13th Street, up on campus when I was a student. I also remember that the clerk was quite judgmental of Jaco for his chemical dependency, but I was undeterred and really enjoyed the tape. I wanted to play the bass in his style, like a lot of players did. Later on, I grabbed Word of Mouth from the same hole in the wall. I went through a phase of jazz fusion until the genre itself kind of fizzled. I wonder what happened to it?

A Sublunar Stroll

Seven AM.

The moon shone right over my head when I hit the street in front of my house, a little larger than a crescent. The stars were still out, and I thought of a Moody Blues couplet: “Take a look out there / Planets everywhere.” This kind of correspondence of mind and nature is like Wordsworth in The Prelude, and yet it complicates the scheme unnecessarily to use allusions. I trod the black street gingerly in the low visibility. It was a crisp 27 degrees but with the clear weather I needn’t worry about ice. At the Maxwell intersection I could look to my left and see the dark blue atmosphere tinged rose on the rim of the earth. Finally I reached the store. Lisa wore a black and white knitted beanie with big snowflakes and said with an expletive that it was cold outside. The radio behind her played old alternative rock, probably Pearl Jam. A lot of those bands sounded alike to me because I was already thirty during that decade, and involved in a totally different genre of music. If I’d had my way, I would have tried for jazz fusion, but the demand for electric bass had declined in jazz at the time. My favorite listening music was actually classical, the Modern period starting with Erik Satie. The guy who helped the old man at the Musique Gourmet, named Scott, gave me quite a little education in Modern music, though his occupation was film critic. I long for those days in the Nineties, and especially I miss my dad…