...being the observations and navigational extracts
from the ongoing expeditions of San Francisco Piano Pop trio
True Margrit

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hawks and Doves

Speaking of birds.

David & I were walking down Precita on the way to the cafe to grab bagels for breakfast the other day, chattering away as is our wont. Suddenly, David broke off from our regularly scheduled conversation and said, "Look there! That falcon has a pigeon" I pivoted around and, sure enough, not 20 feet away a hawk whooshed by with hapless prey gripped in its mighty talons, and heading south ( roughly that) on Precita. It was quite a sight and so nearby, damn, it was one helluva Discovery Channel moment. The stronger eat the weak and thus thrive. The frail fail. That's all natural enough, if gruesome--and admittedly a bit thrilling-- at close quarters.

But I thought about it, naturally, in meta-- the ways in which power/ force is used (abused) in a human political/social context. And 'tis election season now, when the candidates are obliged to paint some rather Neanderthalesque martial scenes onto their banners. They have to squawk like hawks. No doves around ( once America's most common bird, passenger pigeons are now extinct after all). Among your own species, might is not really actually truly right. Folks, I'm a pacifist at heart. It's the only ism I can ascribe to with comfort. It doesn't mean I'm a ninny, or that I don't support the troops (who doesn't like a girl or boy in uniform, and want them home in one piece physically and psychologically). But Gandhi, whoa, that dude rocked.

Floating through space as we are, in this vast universe of uncertainty, on a planet where it's ever more difficult to matriculate the insoluble scale of culpability with looming global devastation, much less choose a personal networking website...wow... pacifism. It's an ideal for human striving and such. Plus, violence/ warfare is so very old hat in the self-begetting ways it has...oh that old thing, it's doesn't fit you anymore, no--don't pack it away in the box in the attic-- it will come back & bite you on the ass, just throw it out already...

Compassion is the most underutilized human resource of all. But I know I know-- I am not offering any solutions, oh you naysayers, you droppers of bombs, you history buffs, you cutting edge pundits and politicos and cynics. Sometimes I just hanker for that day when waving a flag doesn't stand for the implicit threat of force. The brain and its native reason is mightier than the ballistic missile, the poets sing.

But It's an old habit--crushing the opponent. Hold on to your skin -- cuz someone might wanna make galoshes with it. To warm their offspring's toes in the cold winter months ahead. Or to mass-produce it, raise the price, subjugate the worker, and keep the royalties. But it's one thing for birds of prey or cavewomen/ men of paleolithic days. Another one entirely for our ostensibly evolved gentlefolk of the 21st century. How to change? The evolutions and revolutions aren't won with bombs or blades or guns. Never. But one day, yeah, one day we will unite and migrate to a higher plane (espcially since the ocean water levels will be rising).

Until then watch the skies and keep your tools of skepticism acute.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Black & Blue & Rock & Roll

Saturday dawns and I still have remnants of the viral effects in the respiratory region--but what are you gonna do? The rock must go on. In the evening, Gary pops by to load up gear, but before we head out we run through the new tune (newish for me and fully new for Gary), "Super Hero Drugs". When we feel prepped to play it at the gig, we zoom downtown where we find a parking spot right in front of House of Shields. Oooh. Propitious.

We chat as we drag our gear up the scarily (scary for me, anyway, cuz I'm kinda dizzy from my dang cold) steep staircase. Gary keeps insisting that we have played here before, but I'm not so sure. Finally we recall that we played a duo gig a few blocks over at Downtown Dave's--a singular gig in a sports-ish bar (?!) set up by a former piano student from my teaching days. But my memory of THAT gig is overshadowed by a whole train of thought about the student--whose name escapes me-- but I do remember his utterly unflappable shrug when he came by for his lesson and my keyboard was bloodied the day after an infamous Paradise Lounge gig (wherein I was wounded twice: once when knocked on the brow when Gary flourished his bass at the same moment I did some vaguely absurd pop pirouhette AND when the vigor of the True Margrit old set-closer, "Buying's Not Achieving" split open a cut on my fingertip). That was pretty rock & roll. For him to play my bloody keyboard. And for me to bleed for rock, too--of course.

House of Shields is a pleasant space with high ceilings decorated with rather grand medallions-- and a nice bathroom, which I always appreciate. The bands play on a sort of wee balcony, which makes it like Hotel Utah in reverse. We set up and sound check and JULIE MEYERS and entourage arrives and before we know it we are opening the set with "The Juggler's Progress" in which I am trying out a *slightly* different melody in the chorus-- which went pretty well, considering my recent respiratory distress. Some of the songs are harder than others for "Flu" Margrit to sing, but I do my best. Naked Nate joins us for the 2nd half of the set & it's superfun to rock out with him on drums and I guess I get riled up by the last song, cuz I sing an actual spoonerism! In "Members Only" the verse that goes:

Endowed in ways I was not born
A blushing fuschia unicorn

But this time I sing it:
...A flushing buschia unicorn..

I can see and hear Sarah laughing at my blunder and struggle to sing the rest of the song withhout bursting into uncontrollable gales of mirth. Then at the end of the song, as I dismount the keyboard ( uh, well, if you haven't come to a True Margrit show...ah, don't ask), I accidentally kick over my beer smashing the glass, soaking my setlist, my hoodie, and nearly capsizing my own self. And that's the end of the show. Buh-bye. Good fun! Except as soon as we finish and the other band takes the stage I realize we completely skipped the new song that we went to such pains to prepare for! Dang! Next time...

The following day I'm a bit sore in the shoulders and larynx and bruised about the knees and shins, but it's only rock & roll. And I like it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Villains and Heroines

Fair Readers--I'm sick again with a revolting cold. But I strive to carry on (not carrion, however) as I have so much to relate to y'all. One has to strive to be a heroine sometimes, cuz the alternative is too noisome.

First off: on & around X-mas I had a superfun recording spree for the new True Margrit CD (THE JUGGLER's PROGRESS)-- 10 of thirteen(ish) songs now have lead vocals! That leaves three more to sing + overdubbing trinkets and whatnot--that is, backing vocals, guitars, organ, electric piano, and...flugelhorn, harp? bassoon? sax? strings? ukele? kazoo? We can't know what mysterious direction it will all go, but just that it will land somewheres we like to display for y'all.

Also, as promised, I have undertaken a 7-week songwriting marathon-i.e. to write a song a week from dec 7 - jan 25. The table is open for you--the friends/ fans of True Margrit-- to make suggestions for song topics if you are so inclined ( but I reserve the right to write what I will). I am proud to say I am in fact on schedule with this project!! The first four of these are completed and demoed and posted on one of the new True Margrit-related sites: New Margrit songs.

Thus far I have posted:

1)"Everyday Has Its Dog"--which is based on a suggestion from Symon Michael about a couple who whilst breaking up, fight over the custody of their dog.

2) "Try and See" is about powers of perception/self deception and their limits--the idea was suggested by... uh...me.

3)"Yesterday is Tomorrow" came from a request by my friend Louis Velazquez who suggested that I write a song about reincarnation,,, which it is, after a fashion...although it supports a concept of reincarnation that allows spirits/beings/selves to "come back" as something they will be in the future (in other words it involves time travel). Also, since Louie is a big Trekkie the title is a bastardization of the "Tomorrow is Yesterday" Star Trek time travel episode. Plus, Louis recently had a weird experience in a cave where an albino bat inexplicably followed him around, so the bat in the song is a reincarnation of some past friend trying to reach out to him...

4) "Only the Stars Have Their Heads in Jars"
Well,Alex Walsh shot me an email that said, "something about jars". So this song was what resulted.

Over the holidays, in additon to writing & recording, I saw many films-- including, but not limited to: Sweeny Todd, Juno, Atonement, No Country For Old Men. These are some great (and some not as great, not naming anyone but their initials are Sweeny) films--but what a gloomy, bloodied lot they are (except for the delightful teenage pregnancy romp, Juno)! A few nights ago I re-watched the original "Terminator" (in preparation for the imminent Sarah Connor Chronicles). In the midst of Arnold's inexorable carnage, I had an epiphany about how the Terminator & the villain of No Country For Old Men, Anton Chigurh, are in many ways the same character... although the comparison falls down upon too much reflection. The Terminator is more like Death, since he is mechanical, whereas Chigurh is the Devil--cuz he is pure evil through and through. But it would be hilarious/ disturbing to have Javier Bardem replace Arnold in one of those Terminator movies....eeek.

Speaking of villains I watched the presidential candidates' New Hampshire smackdown on Saturday---whoa! People! What a chaotic mess, especially the Republicans. Very entertaining though. But all around, more high road, and less claptrap about taking the elevated route is sorely needed. Less style more substance, people. With all the spin about change, it's harder to spot the villains & heroines as they whirl about faster & faster.

But if you genuinely try and see, you can catch 'em. Oh yeah.