Confessions of a College White Guy

26 December 2010

Confessions of a College White Guy

What you see is what you get.

One version of happiness is a new kitten.

Feeling is faster than thinking…by far.

ART: you choose and you restate but you don’t quote literally.

Plunge ahead. If you spend a lot of time thinking of all the consequences, you’ll never do it.

Anyone seen on a bus after the age of thirty is either a failure or highly intelligent, or both.

Are there any jokes in the Bible? Leviticus comes close, but no cigar.

Talk is cheap until you hire a lawyer.

If Noah had been truly wise, he would have killed one of those flies.

Every artwork of any value is a self portrait.

If the other person is making no sense at all and you don’t value his opinion, why discuss the matter any further?

An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks almost as much as you do.

The world is run by C students.

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

God made idiots. That was for practice. Then she made politicians.

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

ART: It’s not what, it’s how.

Passengers in this life, on this earth, when you go, leave a  better berth.

If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.

I have a dog because I’m too much of a coward to bite people myself.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Write songs that seem simple and inevitable. Not simplistic. Simple.

If you look like the photograph on your driver’s license, you are too crazy to operate a motor vehicle.

If you make an error in painting, you should correct it immediately. The same is true in life.

Envy is a stronger motivator than money.

The mark of a sophisticated person is the absence of snobbery and pretension.

“The good old days.” Anyone who says this doesn’t have a good memory.

Working as a musician or artist has a lot in common with unemployment.

How do you want to be treated? Treat the other person that same way.

Muzak is to music as Prozac is to tranquility.

When you do wrong to someone, you do wrong to yourself.

She liked him because he was the strong, silent type. She thought that meant he was listening.

Cannibals are humanitarians.

If you get a sudden thought to do something generous, do it.

If I had permission to do anything, I wouldn’t want to do anything.

Solitude is the place for creativity. Society the place to build character.

i’m trying to arrange my life so that I don’t even have to be present.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Winter Solstice 2010: Will The Sun Return?

19 December 2010

In the northern hemisphere, Winter Solstice arrives around 21 December. This is when the day is shortest and the night longest.

The sun will be the lowest in our sky. In Australia this is the Summer Solstice, the day when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn and seems to stand still as summer begins.

Early humans in the northern hemisphere were frightened at “the disappearance of the sun.” Will it come back? Is it gone forever?

This is the time to keep the faith, to turn on all the lights, to persevere through hardship, to believe that the sun will come back, will be reborn.

So, there were all manner of solstice calculations and ceremonies. Stonehenge and the Anasazi spirals are only two of the many, many attempts to understand the death and resurrection of the sun.

Christmas, the Saturnalia in Rome, Hannukah, the Egyptian celebration of the death and rebirth of Osiris on 21 December. all of these are about the Winter Solstice. A time to be watchful and look for the light.

In ancient Egypt, Osiris was put in the tomb at this time, and then, at midnight, the priests came out of a shrine crying, “The Virgin has brought forth. The light is growing stronger.”

In preclassical Greece, the winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea and a man repreasenting Dionysius was actually torn apart and eaten by “wild women.”

In the film Orfeu Negre there is a vivid retelling of the Lenaea rite where the Harpies attack Orpheus and claw him to pieces.

Babylonians and Egyptians had a twelve or thirteen day celebration at the Soltice, the original twelve days of Solstice. This was a festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.

Often this is what the Winter Solstice is to me, a time of monsters of chaos. Everything is so dark, and it feels as if the universe narrows, and, yet, it’s only the beginning of winter.

Although the days begin to grow longer the very next few days after the Soltice, still this seems like the starkest, darkest time of the year.

I’m going to try to keep the lights on this year. Does anyone know anything about solar lamps? I might even get one or two of those. Do they even exist? Where does one buy them? Gro-Lamps, grow-drugs-in-the-closet lamps, I just want something that I can put in the lamp by my computer, and that will actually shed a bit of Vitamin D on me. Where may I buy something like this?

Some Buddhists believe that Buddha achieved enlightenment on 8 December and there is a days long festival to celebrate his feat.

In the Bahamas during the Solstice, there is The Junkanoo, a time of parades, masquerades and festivals which probably have a West African origin.

Atheists are beginning to celebrate the solstice.

A somewhat larger view of what “god” means. God means good. In languages descended from Sanskrit, there is a notion of “day” or “light” in the word god. Dieu, dios, deus, dio, Jupiter (Deus Pater), divine. deiformed, deity. “Day” in Latin is “dies.”

So, what would an agnostics’ Winter Solstice ceremony look like? Probably quite beautiful, multifarious, non prosyletizing, non judgmental. That’s one view anyway.

The old pre-Islamic religion in Iran was Zoroastrianism which celebrates the birth of the sun in a festival called Yalda. People get together and eat watermelons and pomegranates. Bonfires are lit outside to help the light grow and return.

One couple’s name for the Winter Solstice? The Hellidays.

So, I am investing in Vitamin D, solar lamps, and, please tell me, what else?

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


One of the Regular, Weird People

I’m one of those regular weird people.  Janis Joplin.

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.   Somerset Maugham.

Listening to music is to the soul, what bathing is to the body.

“There are no atheists in foxholes” isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes. James Morrow.

You don’t finish a painting. You abandon it.

You can’t reason with someone who never used reason to establish what he believes.

Art is a way of imposing a structure where there is no structure.

Friends are like guitar strings; don’t tune them higher than their natural pitch.

Nothing ever changes and yet everything is always completely new.

Don’t threaten me with love, baby, let’s just go walking in the rain.

Billie Holliday

I just hate you and I hate your ass face.  Corky St. Clair.

Rule For All The Arts:

Start at the start. A little bit after the middle, make something big happen. Solve that, and then go on to the end.

If there’s an empty space, just fill it with a line, that’s what I like to do. Even it it’s from another show. Ron Albertson.

We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation.  François de la Rochefoucauld


I’ve been coming to this circle for about five years, and measuring it. The diameter and the circumference are constantly changing, but the radius stays the same. Which brings me to the number 5. There are five letters in the word Blaine. Now, if you mix up the letters in the word Blaine, mix ‘em around, eventually, you’ll come up with Nebali. Nebali. The name of a planet in a galaxy way, way, way… way far away. And another thing. Once you go into that circle, the weather never changes. It is always 67 degrees with a 40% chance of rain.  (Waiting For Guffman)

Believe those who are seeking the truth.  Doubt those who find it.

André Gide.

The scientific mind often believes that if you name something, that you then understand its cause and effect.

I did it to myself. It wasn’t society. It wasn’t a pusher.  It wasn’t being blind or being black or being poor. It was all my doing.

Ray Charles.  (This is how a real man talks.)

To know the answer,  you must first know the question.

Weak eyes are fondest of glittering objects.  Thomas Carlyle.

We don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone, but we also don’t know what we’ve been missing until it happens.

I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. Niels Bohr.

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise.  Seek what they sought.  Matsuo Basho.

The word “awesome” should describe something momentous like a woman giving birth. “Awesome” to describe how a pizza tastes takes away all that word’s worth and cheapens the word to the point of rendering it useless. Yes, I do know that this is a lost battle. Awesome.

Jazz is not dead. It just smells funny. Frank Zappa.

Love is like war. Easy to begin, but hard to end.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


People I Love

5 December 2010

Janis looking truly happy.

Dick E. Betts in B minor.

This is a Hittite image, 3,300 years old. That looks like an electric guitar. It has frets, a head and the shape is not at all unusual to us.


Charlie Watts, what are you looking at?

Mademoiselle Marie-Brigitte Davies à la Parisienne.

Chad Quist, Hawaii 2004

He’s got a strap there. He’s just not using it.

I love her.

Eric Massimino and Joel Hoekstra, Ko Samui, Thailand, 2006.

Bonnie Bramlett once came THIS close to singing with Big Brother.

James Gurley

Elizabeth I gave this gittern to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Chloé Lowery and Elise Piliwale, Hawaii, 2006.

A favorite bookstore, like Powells’ in Portland or Cody’s in Berkeley. RIP.

The always adorable Sophia Ramos.

Brian Jones, Marianne Faithful, Monterey. I see a few other friends there.

So now the harp has a sound box and it is called a lyre.

I love these people, Elise’s relatives, Hawaii.

When Elise plays that harp, the sound affects me very deeply.

The winsome Cathy Richardson.

Ed Earley, tromboniste extraordinaire.

The Arabs called it al oud. In Europe it became the lute. Name is the same.

Intersection on Maui.

Clark Walker brought all these beautiful images home from Europe. This is Janus, the two headed deity of doors, the god of beginnings (January).

Kathi McDonald did the best version ever of Black Widow Spider. Kathi was with us during one of our best times, and she sang so well.

Feels like New Orleans. I love these guys. They went with James Brown for a while. Real players.

Al Oud. The wood. Such a beautiful instrument, often played with an eagle quill. The great oud players will often sound very flamenco like. Guess why?

This was painted on a wall in Hawaii. Murals are everywhere  on the Big Island.

In Golden Gate Park, I still have my original tremolo activator on that guitar, so this is long ago. Hey, James has his too. So this is before we souped up the Gibsons. Such great guitars.

This photograph takes me, in a real Twilight Zone manner, right back into 1965. I am there, figuring out what the best next step to take.

Frank Zappa was a good man. I like this photograph because it shows the intellect behind the Zappaness.

One of the stages from the Hittite instrument of 3,300 years ago to the guitar of today. These are vihuelas, stretched strings over a sound box. The vihuela and the gittern can be seen as great uncles of the guitar.

Dayton, Nevada. Close to Virginia City and Carson City and Reno.

This is the way Salvador Dalì looked in the 1980s when I met him at a club called The Scene and talked to him on several subsequent evenings. Tiny Tim came to The Scene with his ukulele in a paper sack and Jimi Hendrix was ofen on the same bill! Dalì was mellow, and he took everything in with a wry smile. The Scene disappeared when some colorful guys decided to break everything up in the place in one night, right after closing. It was so surreal, that I wasn’t even frightened. The Scene must have owed them money. Hey, whaddya want? So Big Apple, right?

Monterey Pop, shot between the legs of the players.

George Conger, Ritchie Olson, George Hunter. They were heroes to us.

Special person, so much talent, and knows how to express it so clearly.

Peter and Karen, Hawaii.

George Conger. Good friend, capturer of many of these images.

Sam, Ben and Torontonians, October, 2010.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company