Overcrowded Desktop = Sad Mallory

I don’t normally like to draw attention to myself (wait - I have a blog… shit), but I’m rather inordinately proud of the Stevie Wonder Seconds piece published on Stylus on Tuesday.

However, as I am a bit of dumbass, I (after several scurrying revision sessions around the birthday weekend) actually sent the wrong draft of the piece to Todd. Whomever edited it did a fine job, but as I worked and reworked it slightly so many times, I’m going to post the actual final version of it (which no doubt would have been even better with someone else’s input):

How does one measure infinity?

Even working from the most callous comprehension of that indefinable state or states, it ain’t gonna happen. If we start looking at the matter from the perspective of the Sufi mystic or the devotee of quantum physics, things start to get really hairy - if every component particle in the universe is in constant contact with every single other one, then each subatomic unit exists in and perpetuates infinity. Likewise, if “God is in that rock,” as Gandhi was said to have remarked, then the entire cosmos reverberates with oneness, throbbing as incessantly as your ears after a loud-ass concert. We exist inside infinity, rather than being aspirants towards it. Kinda throws that whole striving-and-obtaining model of the universe out the window, don’t it?

Luckily, Stevie Wonder figured all this shit out for us years ago. Songs in the Key of Life is a double-LP as pretentious and humble, as perfect and flawed as its title suggests. It concludes with a couplet - “As” fades almost imperceptibly into “Another Star,” a dancing duet of mirror images and alternate analyses of humanity’s attempts to interface with the breath of God. Of course, this is Stevie we’re dealing with here, so we’re not crunching numbers or referencing Niels Bohr or doing advanced pranayama exercises. We’re talking about love - as heartfelt as Mr. Wonder’s devotion to a non-denominational God is, he’s always had a calling even higher than that, so to speak. Spiritual and physical, immortal and worldly, the capital-L Love that he speaks of is transcendent by way of alchemy - it combines contrary essences to obtain the many-in-one by which the universe of both thought and sensation are inscribed. If all that sounds a little messy, think about it as an earthly love transgressing into the boundaries of the divine. (Just one little push, and we’re through the door!)

“As” begins deceptively enough, with a laidback groove and Stevie’s comparison of his love for “you” with emotive intangibles (”just as hate knows love’s the cure”) and the sacred logic of the spheres (”as around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving”), potent stuff no doubt, but still familiar to us as a poetic overstatement of love’s power that we’ve heard in a thousand sonnets and a million pop songs. The feeling of security lasts less than a minute - then the chorus drops, and suddenly we are within the flash of forever exploding in our pockets, a pulsing nimbus of energy sustained in perpetuity with the promise of love stretched so far it becomes a science fiction film or a surrealist painting (”until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea”). This vision lasts exactly eighteen seconds. Once the premise of lyrical pronouncement of devotion alternating with thunderous absurd poetry has been established and repeated once, Stevie wastes no time in breaking it, refashioning it and taking it to new realms. Once the final “mellow” passage has ended, we are led into a non-stop inundation of cyclical rhythms in constant friction and flux, circles within circles within circles within… “As” is a musical and emotional structure that re-defines itself continuously - the final escalation into rapture is signaled when Stevie asks with rhetorical aptness “did you know you’re loved by somebody?” He states it as a fact, because it is one, and he brushes it aside almost instantly, as though you need not spend too much time dwelling on it.

And then?

Ah, then comes the quantum leap. We’re held in suspension for a moment that divides itself by itself and becomes forever by means of an equation no one shall ever determine, and then a tossed-off “ah!” from Mr. Wonder and a sudden transition into his gruff, earthy voice spells it all out for us:

We all know sometimes life’s hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet your life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed

The acceptance of worldly constraints arrives concurrent with the knowledge of their transmigration into spiritual necessities. We are and love and shall love “until we dream of life and life becomes a dream” because life already is a dream - the waking dream of a sleeping God, the latent essence and potential energy dwelling in each of us. “Until the day that you are me and I am you,” for once and for all unravels the mystery in eleven words and twelve syllables (23!) - we need not wait upon the arrival of forever, as it is here - right here, right now. Because it’s happening - every moment of every day, love is making the present become its own infinity. And as the chorus rolls on and on and on into the sunset, attending to the constant birth and rebirth of the day, it reflects the ceaseless struggle of humanity’s attempt to make love to logic and logic out of love.

And if all that sounds a bit preposterous to get out of a pop song ask yourself just one question:

Why is this song called “As” and not “Always?”

And then?

Luckily, because Stevie Wonder is a singular breed of meta-genius and songwriter who has subsumed himself to the universe at the expense of his own vision (eat your heart out Tiresias), we don’t get a moment to think about “and then.” It happens right away - “Another Star” emerges from the dying embers of “As” and immediately realigns us to thinking about another infinity, another damned worldview - the pernicious next. The rhythm could be the fiery sister to the one underlining “As,” but the structure is completely insistent rather than cyclical. Melodic shifts occur, but they’re bolstered by the same contiguous undercurrent - a persistent needling at the base of the spine, an uncontrollable infusion of vitality injected directly into the veins by way of the song’s ecstatic maelstrom. A casual listen might lead one to think that “Another Star” is a simplification of the explosive, almost-orgasmic pull-and-tug of beats and sounds that “As” becomes, but that would be fallacious - if it simplifies, it does so out of the province of the forgotten lover, the discarded heart, the tails to the heads of the prior song. At the end, the key to understanding “Another Star” lies within the very simple and forthright lyrics, encapsulated here:

For you
Love might be for you to find
But I will celebrate our love of yesterday

This is a song about heartbreak. The fact that it is a energetic, joyous, life-affirming song about heartbreak that’s almost impossible to resist dancing to should tell you something right away. If it doesn’t, meditate on why Stevie Wonder would have chosen to place that word “celebrate” in the last sentence above. He isn’t pining, mourning or acting to destroy the memory love you shared with him yesterday.

He’s celebrating it. Do you wanna know why?

Because he has understood and encompassed infinity by the measure of his love. As one always must, even if one doesn’t recognize it or can’t see it through the blinding wall of their own pain and self-pity. Because he knows that love has existed, has promised the earth and the sky and the death of mathematical reason, has borne its bitter fruit and has decayed on the vine. This doesn’t cause him distress, even after the obvious failure of “As” and its fantastical affirmations, it gives him hope. Because “for you, there must be another star” does not mean that love has failed but that love is found everywhere, and loves equal or outnumber the stars. And because he has circumnavigated the corpse of infinity with poetry, Stevie Wonder knows that the eternal love promised by “As” is as real now as it was then - it existed and it will continue to exist, because we dwell forever in the unknowing now, lost in the mystery of the absolute. Whether our existence is informed by the metaphysical, the poetic or the quantum, we cannot escape the fact that love has infused every particle, that love and all its promises and lies will continue to dominate our path through life until it comes to its end.

And then?

February 22, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Third Ward to the Beat of the Drum

Tonight’s event at Mocha Life was incredible. As good a turnout as the first one, but people seemed to be feeling the love even more. Mohammed Diaby, as always, led the Wonlande crew in invoking the spirits, Kangsen did two stirring pieces (”fight / fight / fight / fight!”) I’ve not heard him read before, and Tyler made beautiful noises on the delay pedal. If there is anything better than seeing a roomful of Houstonians dance and praise the sky off of nothing but raw drums, I don’t know what it could be.

I truly feel blessed to know such people.

Here’s the flyer :

Here’s what I played :

(opening set)
Art Blakey - The Sacrifice
Weather Report - Black Market
Earth Wind & Fire - New World Symphony
Miriam Makeba - Lumbaba
Osibisa - Music For Gong Gong
Hugh Masekela - A Night in Tunisia
Fela Kuti - Colonial Mentality
Al Brown - Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City
Jimmy Cliff - Hard Road to Travel
Augustus Pablo - King David’s Melody
J-Live - Satisfied?
Toots & the Maytalls - Time Tough

(closing set)
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Black 2000
Universal Robot Band - Barely Breaking Even
Stevie Wonder - I Wish
Deodato - Super Strut
Jermaine Jackson - Erucu
Eddie Kendricks - Girl, You Need a Change of Mind

Hopefully we’ll do another.

February 19, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Ohhhh Those British (and Germans)…

There’s a Boney M musical. First in London, now Berlin. I gotta say, though - no Rasputin, no credibility - shit better be on there.

(Image courtesy of Michael F. Gill)

February 10, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind

Because something needs to lighten the mood, and because this requires absolutely no explanation whatsoever if you know what’s up:

February 9, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

A Brief Eulogy : Robert Anton Wilson

Before events take me much further from the actual date of this event, I’d like to take some time to acknowledge something that happened last month but that I just became aware of yesterday. Robert Anton Wilson, possibly the single most influential writer and thinker of this century for me, died on January 11th. My disassociation from news sources (even internet ones) is well-known, but I wouldn’t have expected an event like this to elude me for so long.

I won’t spend much time summarizing RAW’s life or accomplishments, partially because it’s simply too painful to think about right now, but I will say this - he left this world with his characteristic good humor and grace, referencing Dylan Thomas and flying lasagne.

And if you don’t know who he is, find the fuck out and get on it. Read his Illuminatus! trilogy with Robert Shea and then read all three of the Cosmic Trigger books. If you don’t get it by that point, there’s probably no hope for you.

I’m finding it extremely hard to express anything not in the form of liquid tears about RAW at this point, so I’ll end by sharing a very meagre poem that I wrote seven years ago, dedicated to the man, that I haven’t published before, in any format:

is there ever an end to all this light?
(for Robert Anton Wilson)

is there ever an end to all this light?
we find circles carved into the grass with sharpened sticks
& moments before we are awake after we are asleep
& the subtle charisma of strangers
we find dreams about fire & water, mixed
& Transubstantiation of Claims
& Namu Amida Butsu
we find statues weeping in Latin gardens
& the kiss of someone we have never met
& the tangled webs of spiders & sheep

is there ever an end to all this light?
we find silver trading at one life today
& we must Sacrifice to Pay the Rent
& self-immolating men
we find motions to incorporate the body of Christ
& congressi of Saints
& Astrological formulae for Monetary Success
we find questions about the Revival or the Invention
& questionable deposits in the Vatican Bank
& Indoctrinating Doctrines

is there ever an end to all this light?
we find Tim still taking tabs & K
& nothing still = nothing
& ‘to be no part of it’
we find dreaming while waking
& chemical products with alchemical results
& the Fine & Neglected Art of saying NO
we find dancing, spinning children and spinning, dancing menwomen
& not ‘visualizing’ what should not be
& the overwhelming authority of our own damn selves

no, Bulgakov:
no, Leonardo:
no, Robert Anton Wilson:
there is never an end to all this goddamned light.

February 9, 2007. Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

Not In Lieu of Italo

Last night’s event at the Mink Backroom was, in fact, the legendary (as of last Thursday, when I found out about it) Italodisco event I’d been looking for. Attendance was, unfortunately, relatively sparse, but it it seemed a slow night for the Midtown area in general. The music, on the other hand, was excellent - Theresa spun for a good stretch, then turned it over to Die Grauzone main man John. It was a lot less neo-Italo than I’d expected, with lots of big dancefloor tunes, and a few unexpected sped-up versions of tracks like “Over & Over” - kind of like reverse screwed remixes. At any rate, the Mink’s Backroom is even sweeter than I remembered - big comfy leather chairs, a good view of the midtown area and really nice DJs and bar staff - especially Dani, the cutest and sweetest bartendress in the city. We rocked out to the Italo and then danced around the bar on the first floor listening to Pulp b-sides before we had to be kicked the fuck out. (Thanks to Steven for putting up with us as well as being the only other person in Houston who knows all the words to “Ansaphone”.)

Houston people, wise up!

The event is Die Grauzone and it happens every Thursday night at the Mink’s Backroom, 3718 Main St. right above the intersection with West Alabama. Tonight, the Marquis will be spinning at the monthly Bodyrock party, thusly:

February 9, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Dude, I Totally Figured Out Where You Stole Your Whole Look From (Issue 2)

Beck totally stole his whole look for the sleeve of Stereopathic Soulmanure from this All-Northwest High School Chorus record from 1963. What a scumbag - he even ganked the silver lettering.

February 9, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

In Lieu of Italo

Well, I had hoped to come here this morning and rave about Houston’s weekly Italodisco night, Die Grauzone, but the event has apparently been moved to Thurdsday night. Not Wednesday night, as was erroneously reported by the Houston Press. Through no fault of their own, I’m sure. So we had a fun night at a38 anyway, despite there being NOBODY there. But we got them to play “Sex Dwarf,” and we frugged. Then we went here, and found out where everybody was.

So, what you get is you get this, in lieu of Italo:

I have a digital camera. I love it very much. It is dying. Here’s what it looks like when it is dying:

February 8, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.