Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Good things are happening this week!  I decided to start diversifying my activities, and rekindle a few old creative flames, to offset my day-job blah.  As a result:

I have been invited to play at a jazz recital in June, and soon afterwards, to start teaching guitar at Zabinski music studio, in Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village.  Very excited!  So I will get to test my new crazy solo jazz-classical style on a real live audience.  Fingers crossed they don’t pelt me with rotten tomatoes.  I also want to start a mosh pit of really small children, and make this venture mutually entertaining. It has been approximately 12 years since I last played live, so my heart is thanking me profusely for getting off my arse again.

I also just did an interview with Motif magazine, a local arts / entertainment paper, for a feature they’re writing on me in their next issue, focusing on the publication and sale of “Vegetables” in Machine of Death, and my current mission to film-script the story and try to sell that on the back of some media-whoring I’m planning.

This weekend is also Gaspee Days festival in Warwick’s Pawtuxet Village, so if you’re heading down there, look out for my friend Kari, and her incredible macramé jewelry designs at the Fnurra Smycken tent!  If you buy lots of her stuff this weekend as a result of my pitch, I reckon she might buy me a beer next time we’re out.  But I haven’t proposed this to her yet, and I still owe her a shot of Jameson’s.  Seriously though, her work is truly awesome.

 

Have a great long weekend folks!  I’m not getting out of bed on Monday, for any reason.  By Tuesday, my reason will be to shower and change the sheets.

Back in my reckless and feckless youth, (or “yoof”, if we’re being regionally appropriate), I was obsessed with learning how to consciously Astral Travel, and with learning how to invoke lucid dreams.  I learned a very cool trick from an interview with Chris Barnes – the vocalist from Cannibal Corpse, who was incidentally way into this stuff – in which you program your subconscious as you’re falling asleep, by implanting triggers in your mind which allow you to ‘wake up’ in the dream, and start making conscious decisions while you are fully asleep.  This is unbelievably effective.

What you do is this:  As you’re dozing off – preferably not whilst driving – think of a light switch on a wall, next to a door.  Make it as vivid as possible, and meditate on this until you are asleep.  For vividity’s sake, I saw a bright green light switch on a red wall.  Do this every night for a while; make that your falling-asleep mantra.  And then in your dreams, on any given night, keep an eye out for this light switch.  Once you see it, your mind will recognize it as a cue, and as soon as you see this cue in your dream, look at the palms of your hands (if you are lucky enough to have them).

What happens is this:  When you look at your hands, you will immediately teleport into another place in the dream – could be anywhere.  And because you a) saw your cue, and b) made the deliberate decision to look at your hands, you become fully cognizant of your dream surroundings, and can then walk round and go wherever you please.  (I highly recommend doing this after watching several episodes of the Magic Roundabout!) Not only will you then get to enjoy absolute freedom to go anywhere in the world, but you will also remember every detail of the dream / trip when you wake up; this in and of itself is priceless – especially if like me, you have a memory like a whatchamacallit.

So I used to always go looking for said power animal, but in the last ~ 20 years, never found it, and started to discount the power animal story as being hokum.  But recently I’ve begun doing this again, and something occurred to me:  The Power Animal can be whatever you want it to be, and if it doesn’t find you, fkit – go and find it.  Better still, program it in there.  After all, spirit guides aren’t ACTUALLY animals – obviously.  That would just be weird.  They’re ghosts / telepathic aliens made of light / inventions of our perspective / small gods / whatever.  So they’ll adapt to whatever form works for you.  Since I moved to the US, I’ve had a particular affinity for frogs.  This stems from a small metal statue we have on the coffee table of a frog sitting in a Buddha pose.  This little statue has made me feel so Zen over the years, I named him “Peace Frog”.  (Hmm – maybe my power animal is Jim Morrison – I could live with that too).  So the conclusion of this is actually quite boring – nothing has yet happened with my power frog, but I just decided that’s quite appropriate.  So I’m going to go to sleep tonight, astrally travel to someplace swampy and fetid – maybe a fetid swamp – and I am SO going to hang with my amphibious friend, to see what the hell is going on around these parts.  Because while I’m awake, I live in a state of perpetual confusion and bewilderment.  If anyone wants a souvenir, (like a bag of dead mosquitoes), let me know.  You have about 8 hours to get your requests in, and then I depart.

Peace Out!

CC

I have a very nice life on the East Coast of America, but have been through some unbelievable doses of crazy to get here.  I rarely ever speak about the most formative times of my life, but every now and again I feel like it.  I’m not American – I hail from Northern England, but came here to get married –  literally speaking, with the clothes on my back and a relatively small suitcase, in 2004 (October 1st – the day before Gandhi’s birthday).  Specifically, I come from a place triangulated between Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, called The Dearne Valley.

When I was born, the Dearne Valley had a major coal mining industry, and everyone was gainfully employed.  My grandfather drove coal trains at Manvers Colliery through his whole post WWII career; it supported everyone.  But then around 1984, when I was about 8, the National Union of Mineworkers went on strike due to shitty working conditions and abysmally low wages, and the rest is sadly history; the pits all closed, almost everyone I knew lost their jobs, my parents had a grocer’s shop for a while which they had to close because nobody had any money for food, and the place very tragically crumbled into the pits of hell.  If you ever saw Billy Elliot, Brassed Off or The Full Monty, that is EXACTLY what it was like.  People were cold, hungry, desperate, scared and had no idea how they were going to buy their next meal.  Two of my childhood friends and peers (brothers) were killed aged about 9 and 12, digging into a railway embankment for coal one night to keep the house warm, when a makeshift tunnel they dug off Railway View collapsed.  Suicides and eviction went through the roof.  Everyone went hungry, and we all became experts at sustaining on potatoes and home-grown vegetables.  Maggie Thatcher just died last week, and I could imagine one or two street parties being thrown to celebrate her demise.  Although I don’t fault the Iron Lady or know too much about the political intricacies involved – she was leading a country with a situation on its hands; she may have made some questionable decisions, but she didn’t make the coal run out.  Fossil fuels just runs out; end of story.

But despite the turmoil and the tragedy, the adults in my community worked VERY hard to shield the children from how scared they were.  (And it is tough trying to implement optimism and hope to a kid living in a warzone.)

When the strikes happened, and the “scabs” (fkin HATE that word) were trying to go to work and NOT strike, a lot of violence happened in and throughout my community.  Every village had a pit – sometimes two – and you couldn’t go anywhere (including school) without walking past picket lines.  When we came back from playing football on the rec, the picketing miners outside Goldthorpe pit would always, always share their sandwiches and water with us, and shoot the shit about who won, and which teams we all supported.  Then two days later you’d hear about that same sandwich-sharing man getting his head busted in by a police truncheon, when a fight broke out because another decent man tried to go to work, and a riot broke out.  These were the fathers and uncles and brothers of my friends, who were going to war with each other.  When I was 8 we were escorted out of school, because rioting between miners and cops spilled through into the streets, and one day, into my school itself.  They bloodied up the yard pretty good, and at one point, several cops chased several miners actually into the main school building, which culminated in some very violent arrests outside a classroom where 6-year-olds were finger painting.  It was very exciting at the time; I’m 37 now, and to some extent, the trauma is only just starting to catch up with me.

One thing that occurred to me only recently though is the real root cause behind all of this industrial death:  There was no coal left, and the pit bosses were all too aware of this.  A decade earlier, Sheffield’s world-famous Steel Industry had suffered the same horror, and putting 2+2 together, it was because of the lack of coal.  The Steel Furnaces run on a LOT of the stuff, and towards the end, the coal board were having to choose between whether they kept supplying the steel industry, or sold the remaining dregs to the locals so they could heat their houses.  In the end, we all lost.  And almost 30 years later, self-esteem is in very short supply in that region.  It killed not only people, but everything.

So all is pretty good these days and the place is much more stable; but based on that, I do still have a hard time listening to very privileged people hating on “social welfare systems” and “free healthcare systems”.  To those people, I have only this to say:

If you haven’t lived through desperation, then please tone it down a bit, because you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.  Every “handout” you attack puts bread in the mouths of children.  Every “free” doctor’s appointment saved the lives of MY PEOPLE who would be stone dead without it.  Every scornful face I see ridiculing “Socialist” programs is very lucky to have a place to live, and everyone who resents paying into a system that helps the under-privileged does not deserve to live in a place that would be willing to do so.  If you really do feel that mercenary, I would challenge you to go it alone, in some paradise where you can’t take it all for granted, and the police ARE to be feared and hospitals don’t exist.  Words are deceptively cheap and easy, but can make or break friendships in a heartbeat.  Be kind to everybody; it doesn’t matter where they’re from – it only matters that they are here.