Saturday, October 30, 2004


At this time, with the election coming up, and so many of my hopes, dreams, concerns, and views of the world on the line, I have been thinking a lot about what it is I want, for myself, my city, my country and the world.

I have had to take a step back and remember that I need to accept the things I cannot change and that I have everything I need and a great deal of what I want. I have to remember the dangers of desire to my peace and serenity. I need to remember that all of this is a part of a tide of history, energy and gradually building layers of earth, sun and flesh. I have played my small part in it and now need to regain my acceptance.

The four noble truths of Buddhism state that:

1. Life is suffering

2. Their is an origin of suffering

3. The goal. The ease of suffering and the attainment of nirvana

4. The Path, the way out of suffering

The second noble truth tells us that the origin of suffering is desire. That to rid oneself of suffering one must rid oneself of desire. Many people not familiar with Buddhism have interpreted this to mean that all desires are bad and should be erased and life as a meditating monk is the only path to salvation.

No more want of material things, sex, wine, food, position, career. This could not be further from the truth.

The word DESIRE creates the idea that there is something we do not have. The truth is that we already HAVE everything. Everything good and everything that can bring peace, happiness, enlightenment, compassion and love is already within us.

Therefore desire is not needed. To get rid of the stress, agitation and unhappiness that are the natural disappointments of desire, we simply need to became aware that all we need is within us already.

From there one can live happily in society seeking professional, material, physical, mental and spiritual gain, if the base is always that desire is useless.

The Buddha teaches that the key to eliminating desire is mindfulness. Always be mindful of what you are doing. Breathing, eating, sitting, working, loving, having sex.

I will do well to remember that no matter what happens in this election, with my job and anything else. Acceptance is key and desire is uneeded.

The older Buddha's belly is so big because that is where he stores all the acceptance he learned over the years.

Christianity and Buddhism both make clear that acceptance in all its forms is the key to a happy life and a heaven on Earth.

Accepting the things I cannot change, changing the things I can, knowing the difference and the elimination of desire have given me my happiness, serenity, great relationships with friends and family, professional success and material gain.

Essentially the lack of desire means I can enjoy all of this things but would be left with the exact same sense of peace, happiness and serenity were they all to disappear tomorrow.

I will have to remember that on November 3 and thereafter.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

500 Channels of Heresy

"All religion, art and science are branches of the same tree"

-Albert Einstein

Do American conservative literalist "Christians" subscribe to cable TV?

I can't see how they could, in good conscience, move beyond the old six channel broadcast system.

As I was flipping through the channels last night I watched an episode of the fantastic PBS science series NOVA. It was all about the origins of Earth and how it turned from a molten ball of space debris to the life sustaining paradise it is today.

Then I went to the Discovery channel and watched a show about newly discovered Dinosaurs.

Two of the things you need to believe to be an Evangelical/Literalist Christian today are:

1. The Earth and humankind are only 5,000 years old

2. The dinosaurs are fake, they are planted by scientists and if they were real there would be millions of skeletons found by now. Supported by the argument that Carbon Dating is bunk science and false.

I know this because I read their literature and argue with them on Internet bulletin boards and chat groups.

So, as I watched these two programs I reflected on what I see on cable daily.

Dinosaur shows, animal shows that talk about evolution, Sex and the City, CSI (which uses science to solve crimes) and a multitude of shows that just don't jibe with the old or new testaments.

Do these people flip the channels and see a show about evolution, or dinosaurs, or science on A&E, Discovery, PBS, NBC, ABC and Animal Planet and get angry. Do they order their children from the room while they "see what the other side is up to?" Does their blood boil over shows about "sharks that 2 million years ago were 80ft in length."

Or do they simply keep their cable to watch criminal preachers shake them down for their Social Security checks?

How can they stand thousands of hours of heresy broadcast daily?

Science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. They compliment each other and fill in the gaps each leaves. They are as much a part of the human makeup as water, flesh and bone.

Anyone who believes ONLY in science is as dogmatic and unbalanced as the person who ONLY believes in religion.

I have found that the balance between the rational and scientific with the emotional and spirtual natures of being human leads to a balanced, serene and complete life of full consciousness and enlightenment.

Maybe I can get a cable show about it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I believe that right now, people around the world are saying "What is wrong with America?" Meaning our government. That their ill-feelings, worries and disbelief at what we have done and become over the last four years is aimed at our extremist rogue leaders.

I believe that if Bush and co. remain in power, that question will change to "What is wrong with Americans."

It will be on us, the people. All of the distrust, loathing, fear, anger and animosity of the world will now be layed at the feet of Americans and not 'America.'

And so it will be deserved in my opinion.

We will have endorsed and kept in power a group of people dedicated to aggressive wars of empire, complete American domination of the world through bullying, fear-mongering and military might, destruction of the environment, a neo-theocratic state of end-times "believers", the trashing of diplomacy, the disregard for the world as a community and a thousand points of ugliness.

One week. 7 Days. 168 hours.

I have written thousands of words online and in print, donated my money and time to the Kerry campaign and have spent countless hours researching, discussing and looking for answers to the issues that bedevil America.

Now, the time for working is done. All I can do is sit back and see how it unfolds.

Tolstoy was a genius in dissecting human nature its relation to the uncontrollable tides of the universe and history (most awesomely in War and Peace).

He made a brilliant case for the idea that leaders and politicians do not made history but only ride the wave that everything that has happened before has created. Their individual caprices and mental states simply create an environment in which they react to the tides of history.

I can only hope that the tides bode well for the causes of truth, justice, equality, peace and harmony between humanity, the animal world, the earth and the stars.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Check in here to vote on this weekend's most gut wrenching display of public pain.

1. ashlee simpson doing her OMG I am so fucked Irish jig

2. Tatiana Totmianina diving head first into the ice at Skate America

3. John Kerry in borrowed fatigues dragging a dead goose in his slightly bloodied hands


LIST of the 10 MOST AMAZING MOMENTS OF LIVE ROCK MUSIC I HAVE EVER WITNESSED (in no particular order) I need separate lists for Jazz, Blues, Classical, World and Street Musicians. I'll work on it.

1. The Pogues with Joe Strummer sitting in on London Calling, I fought the Law and Maggie May at THE RITZ, NYC 1986.

2. Amnesty International Benefit June 1986 (U2, Lou Reed, The Police et. al)

3. The Ramones live at The Ritz, NYC 1985

4. U2, Radio City Music Hall, December 4, 1984

5. Toots and the Maytals, The Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands April 1997

6. The Clash, NYC 1981

7. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, East Rutherford NJ 1985

8. Nirvana/Pearl Jam double bill Seattle, 1991

9. The Grateful Dead, Pittsburgh, PA April 3 1987

10. Blues Traveler, the Wetlands, NYC November 1989

But, but, I have been to more than 300 concerts of 1500 people or more and about another 500 in venues holding less than that. So this list just isn't enough. What about Pink Floyd in 1987 and Roger Waters in 1989? What about the Rolling Stones? What about The Alarm? What about Dylan and Petty? What about the Cure? Perhaps my next list should be of everyone I have seen live.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

This is the 25th Anniverssary of the release of LONDON CALLING by THE CLASH.

They are still the only band that matters and London Calling is still one of the greatest albums of all-time.

It bridged and fused punk, reggae, rock, jazz and pure CLASH soul. It made possible everything that came after it. Its lyrics, music and raw energy make it a seminal musical, poetic and cultural acheivement. Rest in Peace Joe Strummer. Long Live the Clash.


I spent some time strolling through the Borders Book Store on 2nd Avenue today. One title on a front table caught my eye, To Punish and Protect: A DA's Fight Against a System That Coddles Criminals by Jeanine Pirro. The distinguished Ms. Pirro is the Westchester County New York District Attorney.

A system that "coddles" criminals? The United States has the largest number of people in prison in the world, more than 2 MILLION. This is up from 1 million in 1990 and 500,000 in 1980. We also have more people per 100,000 either in prison or who have been through the system (paroled or on probation) than any nation on Earth.

We have the death penalty, the three strikes law that sends people to prison for life on third felony conviction, and some of the toughest and most inhumane drug laws in the world.

This is the system that coddles criminals? What are we lacking? Torture? Cutting off limbs? Exile? Perhaps we should send some fact finding missions to Saudi Arabia and China.

Our society suffers from an ethos and pathos of guns, violence, militarization and aggression. It has become dependent on and feeds into the criminal-prison-law enforcement complex.

Coddles criminals? Hardly. We suffer from so many social ills that lead to crime and so many behaviors that have been falsely criminalized that we have lost touch with what a civil society looks like. Its like being a progressive in America. Our most liberal democrats look like conservatives in the rest of the world.

Publishers Weekly had this to say about the book:

"This book serves several purposes: to stoke public consciousness of crime and contempt for criminals, to mobilize support for toughening the penal laws and to position the author as a remorselessly angry crusader. As she states, hers is an elected position, and a book such as this will serve the author well as campaign literature."

There it is. Modern America in a nutshell. Shallow (always looking for the punishment rather than fixing the root causes of any problem) vindictive, mean spirited, egotistical, heavy on agenda and lacking in conscience, devoid of nuance and endlessly self-promoting.

I suppose none of his should be surprising in a country that has tuned into a modern day facsimile of the Old Testament, complete with its intolerance, war, racism, and angry vengeful people and God.

I am going into the living room to meditate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I am doubly blessed having grown up in the great State of New Jersey and living in New York City.

There is a long list of people from New Jersey and their accomplishments that make me proud to hail from the Garden State.

There are also a number of natural wonders, important historical events and just plain weird facts that swell me with pride.

Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, phonograph and motion picture, Frank Sinatra, the voice, Bruce Springsteen, Count Basie making sweet melodies, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep on screen, Kevin Smith's Clerks, Mallrats and Dogma, the battles of Monmouth and Trenton, the beaches, the boardwalk, the tomatoes and corn, the first traffic circle and the invention of the bar code to name but a few.

Today, Jon Stewart, proud son of New Jersey has joined the list. For: Calling Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson hosts of CNN's CROSSFIRE (as proxies for the media in general) out on their disregard for truth and substance in favor of sensationalism, spin and theater in his blistering appearance on Crossfire, the left vs. right yellfest. Some highlights:

STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?
CARLSON: Thirty-five.
STEWART: And you wear a bow tie?

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.
STEWART: You need to go to one.

CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.
CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans... (CROSSTALK)
STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Fame, makes a man take things over, Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow, Fame, puts you there where things are hollow, Fame - David Bowie "Fame"

My childhood friend got his 15 minutes of fame. My friend Dave Jay and I have known each other since we were in 1st grade.

He had always been involved in music, theater and performance (he did some GREAT impressions). We are in our 30s now. After university, for years and years , Dave Jay wrote songs, played open mics, made demo discs, and insisted that he was "born famous only no one knew it yet."

Many were the nights I went to his performances all over New York City. I Wrote press materials for him, listened to acoustic versions of his latest songs, cheered and encouraged him as best I could.

But alas, it seemed him musical career would never be enough to let him quit his day job.

Oh but how right Andy Warhol was. Dave Jay got his 15 minutes of fame after all.

The ABC TV daytime talk show "The View" held a song contest for their show. Hundreds of performers sent in tapes and Dave Jay was picked as a finalist.

He performed his song on the show (as did all the other finalists) and the audience phoned in or voted on the web to pick a winner. Well, he won.

He got to go back on the show and perform the song for the nation and the ladies of The View.

I just want to say to Dave-Jay, congratulations it was an amazing performance and I was cheering you on. Classic J'Blammo Pop. I don't know what will come of all this, but if nothing else does, you were right, you were born famous, the world just didn't know it yet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Someone at SPAM mail HQ must be reading Aldous Huxley and the Bible.

I got this in my email today. "Introducing Serenity - REAL MOOD MANAGEMENT.

Do you suffer from, mood swings, stress or nervousness, a bad temper, unexplainable outbursts, sadness, unstable emotions, Insomnia, Menopause, PMS?

Click here for your free trial pills today.

So maybe I have been wasting time living a life of self-examination and awareness, practicing good mental, physical and spiritual exercise and following the Franklin method of growth. I am just a click away from SERENITY NOW!!!!!

I also got an offer to finance a home through the CHRISTIAN LENDING NETWORK. Their come on reads:


"Good will come to him that is generous and lends freely" PSALM 112:5

Further proof that the USA is devolving into a hard line Christian society? A plot to speed up the Rapture? A good marketing ploy?

This is a far cry from the interpretation of scripture that for hundreds of years forbid Christians from lending and profiting which led to the admittance of Jews into societies to be moneylenders (and then inevitably forced them out when state funds ran out and could not be paid back - hello pogrom hello expulsion).

Ahhh, the never ending joys of the Internet. What worlds have been opened up to me. What knowledge, what freedom, what intellectual capital, what human connection what stimulation and contemplation.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Some folks have been asking me what the meaning of my Blog's title is.

Skinny Legs and All is a novel by Tom Robbins. It is my favorite of his and one of my favorites of all time. It is a comic adventure, an exercise in what amazing things can be done with the English language, a magnificent examination of religion, politics, art and the psyches of a cross section of people from around the world.

The novel is centered around three sets of main characters. An Arab and a Jew who own a restaurant near the U.N., an all-American female artist and her boyfriend (who inadvertently becomes a NY art insider) and, most beautifully and absurdly of all an animated Can of Beans, A Painted Stick and a Spoon who make a cross country and international pilgrimage. Read the book.

Twenty two days until the election. I am worn out mentally, physically and spiritually from this battle. Nonetheless I am finding one last reserve of strength to fight the good fight and try and put the country back in the hands of sane people.

I have found a hilarious site to help me regroup. Remember Bush pleading with Kerry in defense of his "coalition?" YOU FORGOT POLAND!! YOU FORGOT POLAND!!!


Regardless of who you support, I hope you have registered and to vote.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I am feeling the travel bug in a huge way today. I have been very lucky that I have done a great deal of traveling over the last 14 months.

I have been to China three times, Japan once and Alaska. But for me travel is an addiction, I do a little and I want more, I get more and I want more.

So, I am going to Italy in November and I can't express how much I am looking forward to it.

I have been around Europe a bit, but have never been to Italy. It's a dream come true really. I am passionate about history, antiquity, architecture, art and food and Italy is a nexus of them all.

I will be in Rome, Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Herculaneum.

I will also visit my ancestral village near Naples. The Church there has records of our family in the town dating to the early 1500s. I will be sure to post from Italy.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Great to see my old friend and blogmate Mr. Teacher get his blog mentioned in today's U.K. Guardian. Way to go you old hermaphrodite Tongan.

Dick Cheney has morphed into Baghdad Bob. You remember him, the guy who was screaming, "The infidels are not in Baghdad" as the the tanks were rolling by in the background.

Old Dick had the audacity today to say that the just released report showing Saddam hasn't had WMD since 1991 actually bolstered the case for invading.

40 minutes ago
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer

MIAMI - Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Thursday that a finding by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's government produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war.

The report shows that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option," Cheney told a town hall-style meeting.

Why does Dick Cheney hate our freedom?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Today I will share with you my "Historic World Events" as FOX News would report them.

A nod to the FC gang for this.

And I'd like to thank Foghat for an amazing opening set. Foghat ladies and gentleman.





FUGITIVE HIPPIE CARPENTER ARRESTED - Terrorist Jesus al Nazareth given fair trial. Execution set outside Jerusalem tomorrow










Thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal. Love your bartenders.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Divider on Highway 9

Bruce Springsteen has taken an incredible amount of heat over his decision to headline the "Vote for Change Tour." The tour which will play 37 shows in swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida features The Boss, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., John Fogerty, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, BabyFace and the Dixie Chicks among others, will benefit the progressive political group ACT which seeks to unseat George W. Bush on November 2.

I was not surprised by the immediate reaction from the firebreathing far right neoconservative movement. The usual shouts of "he's a traitor" "unamerican" "a dumb rock weirdo" were thrown his way and one extremist group in Long Island even attempted an ill-fated boycott of Bruce. None of this surprised me.

What did surprise me was the incredibly rapid, harsh and unrelenting campaign of hate directed at Springsteen from his hardcore fan base. This reaction was to be found in many media outlets including newspapers, on tv and most especially on Internet bulletin boards. The harshest was to be found on homestate website's ( Springsteen forum.

From the moment the tour was announced the board was lit up with venom being spewed from Springsteen fans who felt betrayed. Announcements like BURNING AND SELLING MY COLLECTION - WILL NEVER GO TO ANOTHER SHOW - SHUT UP AND PLAY YOU HAS BEEN - SPRINGSTEEN'S CAREER IS FINISHED became de riguer (you can look through the June, July and August backlogs of the forum for the endless diatribes).

Lengthy and nasty fights were had by the naysayers and the staunch supporters.

Apparently we have become so bitterly divided in half over politics, war and social mores in the US that not even the fellowship, camaraderie and common ground created by 35 years of great music could survive Bruce's preference for one candidate over the other.

Notwithstanding the absolute silence met with political opinions shared by right wing artists like Bruce Willis, Dennis Miller, Lynard Skynard and the Ramones (Johhny and Dee Dee were staunch conservatives or the political ascendancy of people like Arnold Schwartzenegger, Ronald Reagan and Sonny Bono among others) the cry for ARTISTS have no right to express political opinions ran rampant.

It got even worse when these same reactionaries parsed every part of Bruce's life. His upbringing, his earned wealth, his supposed hypocrisy in having become successful, his home in Rumson, his charitable work. It was as if 35 years of love grew into an intense hate overnight for half his audience.

I still patronize all of the abovementioned conservative artists, but apparently a declaration of opinion that in any way digresses from the right wing platform gets you a place at the top of the "enemies list" on the right.

This alll seems incredibly reactionary, small-minded and tribalistic on the part of these longtime Springsteen fans. It also looks like an incredible display of ignorance and historical revisionism when it comes to Bruce's music and Rock and Roll in general.

Rock and Roll from its inception has been anti-establishment. It has been about change from the status quo. It has been the soundtrack for people looking for not only entertainment, but a social, cultural, fashion and political outlet and a sense of belonging to something outside the mainstream. Art throughout the ages has been an agent of change. Painting, sculpture, music, theater, film, they have all reflected the time, places, pathos and ethos of those who created it and at the same time changed them.

They all have a grand tradition of not accepting the staus quo but flipping it on its head. DaVinci took on the entire Catholic Church and the long held beliefs of centuries and was declared a heretic. I could provide you with hundreds more examples if you like. Rock and Roll is no different.

Rock and Roll, from its overt challenge to the social mores of the 50s, its fueling of the youth and counterculture of the 60s, the social excesses of the 70s, the punk rock and new wave explosion of the 80s and the reaction to technology and hyperconsumerism in the 90s has always been the music and credo of the counterculture.

Yes, it's a business, but beneath the veneer in its truest essence it is not the music of the Christian Coalition, GWB or the establishment. Bruce and his music have always been in tune with this ideal. People of all political and moral beliefs have, do and will love Bruce and his music. But make no mistake, his music, his ideals, his passions have always been within the true spirit of the artist as social mover. The artist as the outsider. The artist as the representative voice of the disenfranchised, the hopeful, the dreamers. If you are at all surprised by his move to support an alternative to GWB, you haven't been paying very close attention to a 35 year career.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage. All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
Dhammapada V. 1-2
I will only make one quick comment on Thursday's Presidential debate (because millions upon millions have already been written. I was pleasantly surprised and gratified to see Kerry perform so well. Well enough for the Repugs to admit he won. Hope springs eternal.

This afternoon I attended the matinee performance of the Tony winner for Best Musical, AVENUE Q. It was brilliant. Some shows are purely entertaining and leave you satisfied on a that level alone.

This show was entertaining, relevant, inventive, earnest (yes that can still be a good thing) and it really resonated with a sense of urbanity, confusion, intellect and wonder at a world in which the rules and expectations bend and mutate on a weekly basis.

The show touched on education, ambition, the search for purpose and racism and deftly wound these subjects around the story of a group of New York people (and puppets) trying to survive one day at a time.

One hilarious song was about the Internet and contained the refrain, Kate: The Internet its for research and buying... - Everyone Else: ITS FOR PORN. Just grab your dick and double click."

The show's stars were a group puppets, Rod, Princeton, Kate Monster and their neighbors and friends. Its a great show, a must see if you live in or come to visit New York.

One further surprise was looking at the Playbill and seeing that a high school classmate of mine was the musical director. Way to go Steven.