No Left Turn Unstoned

30 October 2011


Janis Joplin with two left handed people.


Ken Kesey had a place in La Honda, California, where there was a sign with this message. The world’s first Acid Tests were performed there.


The main thing about left handed people is that they are adaptable. They have to be, being born into a right handed world. So, left handers are ambidextrous, shifty, labile, flexible and often sly and slinky. From an early age they learned that there is more than one way to do something. Nicole Kidman had to learn that.


There are scholarships for left handed people, because, well, we’re rather backward.


I often paint with both hands when i’m in a hurry, or when the background is very simple. I paint the background and foreground at the same time.

RJ Franco took this photograph:


The left hand is governed by the right brain, seat of intuitive, non linear thinking, so left handed people are overrepresented in art, music, drama and other creative endeavors.


The Italian word for left handed “mancino” means crooked or maimed. “To the left” in Italian is alla sinistra which has sinister connotations. Leonardo was left handed.


Manu sinistra pro destra utitur (Latin). She uses the left hand for the right.

But when she plays the piano Aretha Franklin uses both hands. There are no left handed pianos.


The rudder on a seagoing vessel was attached on the right side, the steerboard side, the starboard. So docking was done on the left, the port side. Cole Porter often sailed Port Out Starboard Home (POSH).


In ancient Hebrew, left handers were called “eetair yad y’mini,” a constricted right hand. Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes opinions with her left hand.


Dutch “linker” left handed came from Old High German “slinc,” related to Old English “slincan” crawl, slink. In Swedish linka equals “limp, dangling.” M. C. Escher did all of those amazing drawings with his left hand.


In Bulgarian, there are three words for a left handed person. Levichar, levoger and levak. Levak is considered very offensive. There is a term lefteren (from English “left”) which describes something that’s not working properly or isn’t strong enough. Angeliina is as beautiful as her name suggests, and she is gauchée as the French call a left handed woman.


In Chinese, the word left is sometimes associated with the “dark side.”

Albrecht Dürer, a left handed person, very successful in his own time, had his own dark side.


In Danish, Venstre-håndet means using the left hand. Note the similarity to “sinister” (Latin) Kejthåndet, another word for left handed, has the word “kejthet” in it which means clumsy, awkward. This is a Danish leftist.


The origin of left and right as applied to politics goes back to the seating in the Chambre des Deputés, which our own congressional seating imitates.


When Democrats enter the House they file to their left, and when the President addresses the chamber, s/he sees the Democrats on her/his right.


The Republicans sit on the “right.” That is, on the right as they enter the Chamber, the House. When the President addresses the Republicans, he sees them as being on his left, but they see themselves as being on the right.


Barbara Dennerlein is a left handed German woman, worshipper at the Hammond B3 altar, as am I. They didn’t make any left handed Hammond B3s either. You have to play them with everything you’ve got. Both hands and both feet. You could use your nose too, and, god knows, no one would complain. Barbara is such a great B3 player, cool, hot, collected, happening.


In Dutch, the word for left handed is Linkshandig. In the Brabants dialect, Links means “inside out,” especially for clothing. The Great Dictator was left handed too, just as Adolf Hitler was. Tellingly, though, Hitler signed autographs with his right hand.


Charles Chaplin played the violin left handed. This is very rare. Most violinists, left or right handed, will play the instrument with the bow in their right hand.


Elizabeth Cotten was our hero when we were 18,19, and still today. She had a beautiful fingerpicking style that we all tried to emulate. Maybe her special sound had something to do with the fact that she simply turned a right handed guitar upside down, so that the treble strings were on top.


In German, Links and linkisch (left) mean awkward. Einstein was a linkshänder, although I see him write at the blackboard with his right hand. He and Picasso used either hand.


The Hindi phrase “ulta haanth” means the left hand, and it has the literal meaning “opposite, wrong.” Eudora Welty never married and lived in the same house where she was born in Jackson, Mississippi, all her life. She wrote beautiful, unsentimental stories for The New Yorker with her left hand.


The Hungarian language has the word “bal” for left. “Balszerencse,” left luck, means disaster. “Baleset,” left event, is an accident.


Gaelic “ciotóg” left, means “the strange one.” “Citog” means left or stupid.

Fiona Sit likes to draw with her left hand. She speaks Cantonese, English, French and Mandarin.


Romanian “stangaci” means left hander as well as unskillful.

Paul Klee is left handed and his birthday is 18 December. We have a lot in common.


Australian slang has the phrase “Mollie Dooker,” for a left handed person, meaning something to do with having fists like a girl.

If you’re going to be a feminist, and who in their right mind wouldn’t be?, you could always look like Germaine Greer, noted left hander. Germaine lived at The Chelsea Hotel when we did, and she was always cheerful, kind and smart.


Polish people say “leworeczcy” or “mankut” for left handed, terms that also mean illegal. Goldie is using both hands to assume the position here.


“Canhoto” (Portuguese) is left handed. Canhoto also means lacking ability or physical coordination, clumsy. In Portugal, the Devil is canhoto. A common saying is “Diabo sejas cego, surdo e mudo! Lagarto, lagarto, lagarto sejas canhoto!” (Devil be blind, deaf and mute. Lizard, lizard, lizard be left handed!”) Michelangelo, definitely left handed. My “Leftar” would have told me that even had I not known. I mean, any artist who would argue with a pope must be more than a little obstinate and gauche.


Remember the Eugene Levy character in Best In Show? He had two left feet.

When Tamra Engle is sailing down the Seine towards the Atlantic Ocean and she passes through Paris, la rive gauche, the Left Bank will be on her left, the south side.


Tamra Engle with Steve Martin. No… just kidding, it’s the equally estimable Willy Porter.


Tamra in front, the farthest from the left.


In Mexico, “chueco” means “bent.” It also means left handed. There are other words for someone like Jessica Alba, zurda, manca, siniestra, all meaning left handed.


I’m going to pay him a left handed compliment and say that I will vote for him, but I’m not going to be totally thrilled about it. I’m hoping that when he gets in there for his last term, he will really step on it and deliver all of the beautiful promises he made the first time.


Filipinos say “kaliwete” for left handed. When someone is called a “kaliwete,” it can mean that the person is unfaithful, a two timer. Lady Gaga is left handed.


In Russian, left handed is “levsha,” meaning not trustworthy. In the Orthodox church, the women sit on the left side. Paul is a lefty, but he plays drums right handed.


Scottish people can be corrie-fisted which comes from the Gaelic “cearr” which means left or wrong hand. My Leftar (like Gaydar, only for left handers) would have told me that Marilyn Monroe was left handed even had I not known that.


“Zurdo” in Spanish is left handed. “No eres zurdo.” (You’re not lefthanded) means “you are clever.” Right handed people are “diestro” (able, dextrous) and left handers are “siniestro” (creepy, freakish). In Spanish there is also a very proper word “manco” (cognate with Italian mancino) that means left handed. Picasso era manco, zurdo, chueco y siniestro. He’s painting Guernica with his left hand.

And he’s painting this plate with his right.


In Swahili left is kushoto, or weak. Weak would hardly describe Oprah Winfrey, though, and she’s left handed.


Ahhh, here we go. In Swedish, vänsterhänt is left handed. “Vänster” left originally meant “the favorable side,” and is related to vän (friend). Rafaello Sanzio (Raphael) drew and painted like an angel and he did it with his left hand.


Turkish solak (left handed) also means obstinate, clumsy, out of balance, not functional. Pink, who uses her left hand for most things. She was once going to play Janis Joplin in a film.


Lifshá (Ukrainian) for left handed means sneaky or mistrustful also. Benjamin Franklin was sly, inventive, a typical left hander.


Chwith in Welsh is left handed. O’i chwith means something is wrong or out of place.


Baseball diamonds were often made with home plate in the western corner of the field so that the sun would not be in the batsman’s eyes. Thus, when a left handed pitcher faced the batter, the pitcher’s throwing arm was on the south side. He was a southpaw. Lenny Bruce was definitely out in left field somewhere.


In Belarus (White Russia) there is a word “liewsha.” It means left handed, and it also means sneaky or mistrustful. Shirley MacLaine is left handed.


Dave Barry, one of the many people who is left handed, but who plays guitar right handed. Duane Allman and Gregg Allman are two others. I’m another.


A left handed snowboarder is called “Goofy,” and a left oriented board is called a “Goofy Board,” because the board is designed to slant in the opposite direction of the right handed boards. Tina Fey is goofy in her own goody, goody style.


Cack handed to mean left handed is term I have never heard, but it is apparently quite common in the UK. It is related to Old English cack, excrement or dung. Cachus was Old English for a privy. These words come from Latin cacare, to defecate. Matt Groening celebrates left handedness in his own left handed way.


Left handed people are also over represented in the gay community.


A left handed person photographs left handed people. Cecil Beaton.


In Thailand, there is a phrase “e sai pai kee,” which means people who use the left hand to touch excrement.


Tippi Hedren, left handed mother of Melanie Griffith.


You don’t want to be left handed in the Arab world. These people lived in the desert where there was little water, so the left hand is used for all unclean purposes and the right hand is used for taking food out of the communal bowl.


Albert King not only played the guitar left handed, but he also strung and tuned his guitar differently so it was often impossible to tell what he was playing. Those beautiful string bends that he used resulted from his being able to pull the strings down instead of having to push them up as right handers do.


In Japanese and Chinese, “left” is written like this:


The above is basically a drawing that represents the left hand in this position:


The left hand was considered a helper for the right hand, so the original meaning of this character was “to help.” Now it means “left” and in Japanese can be pronounced SA or hidari. When the character is used in combination with other characters, it is pronounced SA. When it is used alone it is usually pronounced hidari.


In ancient times, the right side was considered to be better. Left meant inferior, low status, contrary, evil.


Hidari kiki (left handed in Japanese)


The characters for left and right written together have several meanings:


“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”     Mark Twain. (left handed)


We’ve left.

(Taking the kindergarten diploma in my left hand.)

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Back to the Big Rope.

23 October 2011




Wesley Freeman took us to Okinawa.


This is the way Okinawa is written now,

and Okinawa prefecture.


One of the many folk etymologies for Okinawa is “big rope.” The island looks like a rope on the map and the sound of oki nawa in Japanese could be heard as “big rope,” so the derivation becomes as irresistible as it is false.

During the harvest festival, there is a tug of war, perhaps the grandest in the world, where male and female sections of rope are joined by a pin.


Elise is an oncology nurse, and she also teaches and uses several types of models for demonstrations.



The pacific ocean from our hotel room.

Okinawa has always been in my heart.

My voice has always been from my diaphragm. i am quite shocked to see how high it resides in the thoracic cavity. Why, it’s just under the heart and lungs. I had imagined it much lower, down around my, oh, you know, penile area. That’s where it feels like the voice comes from.


I have had a yen to return to Okinawa since I left at age 18.

(77 to the dollar this time. I remember when it was 360 to the dollar.)


Wes put us in this beautiful hotel near where we used to live on Okinawa.


We played for the Uchinanchu Festival.


Uchina means “Okinawa” in the native language, which is completely different from Japanese, and “chu” means person, so Uchinanchu is the Okinawan people.


Konkai kono tai kai no tame ni kaette kimashita.

Now we have returned for this occasion. (With Nao-sensei)


This is a very emotional return to the Ryukyu Islands.


“People with their roots in Okinawa, wherever they now live in the world, will come back to their homeland to mingle with 1,338,000 prefecture citizens,” said Okinawa’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima.


Minna-san, Tracy Freeman on drums!


George Murasaki’s chart for Down On Me. This is Wes Freeman’s photograph of the chord changes and it saved George from having to write out everything again after he lost the first chart. The mystery to me is how people read this stuff onstage with all of the chaos that is going on. I like to memorize everything, but often there is no time.


Our opening act. They were outrageous. The Okinawa All-Stars.


Lena, one of our singers, with Wes Freeman.)


We could be smirking about this smorking area, until we try to write Japanese ourselves and see how many mistakes we would make.


I like to see how the Japanese personalize their houses.

John Patterson and Reny Civico.


One drink is called piss and the other is called sweat.


On the same day, Elise and I were separately involved in dog rescue efforts on Okinawa. She worked very hard to save a dog, tick ridden and miserable. Elise made many calls to vets around the island and really went the extra distance to help her. Mother Elise saves people and animals every day.


I was out walking and rain began to fall in torrents. Hearing a desperate yelping somewhere above me, I looked across the street to see a puppy wound around a stake, stranded in the downpour, so I climbed into the yard and down a slope to free her. She ran happily to dry shelter and, seeing me walking on the same street next day, barked and wagged her gratitude.


To me cicadas were always “locusts,” probably because they were often called Seventeen Year Locusts, so, when I heard the passage from the Bible about the Plague of Locusts, I always thought, “Well, they make a lot of noise but I don’t remember them eating all that much. Turns out the “locust” is what we call a grasshopper. When the “locusts” descended on Salt Lake City, and the seagulls ate them all, that was a grasshopper plague. Still, to this day, when I hear the word “locust,” it is a cicada that first comes to mind.

Anyway, the cicadas on Okinawa have much higher voices. They sound like a fleet of frogs in the Fall, you know, that high cricket chirping sound that seems to come in waves? American cicadas sound more like motorscooter sputtering or lawnmowers. I always thought the cicada song was hypnotic and meditation inducing. Sitting under a tree with thousands of cicadas singing has always induced a kind of trance in me. It’s like a didgeridoo or a harmonium. How do such small things make such a big noise?


While walking toward the Pacific coast from our hotel, Elise and I found a commercial art studio where all manner of objets d’art abounded.


This was most interesting and reminded me of days spent with Mouse and Kelly at their air brush studio in San Francisco.


We found this Okinawan atelier early in the morning, just as the artists were arriving for work.


There is a certain cannibalistic impulse, that I recognize very well, with these workers to use any image as grist for their mill.


Since we were rooting around in their refuse, they immediately saw us as kindred spirits and yelled happy greetings.


When the Andrew family first lived on Okinawa, the town of Koza, just outside of our gate at Kadena Air Force Base, looked like this.      (Photo: Mark Irish Payne)


It looked like this in 1959.


Then, much later, Koza (now Okinawa City) looked like this.


Now it looks like this.


Chiko and Mark Irish Payne.


Mark’s mother.


ONE of Mark’s restaurants, or 25 feet away from it anyway.


I used to go to this place with my girlfriend when it was the Okinawa Yacht Club. She was 17. I was 18.


Wesley Freeman gave us a tour of Kadena Air Force Base, where my father was stationed twice.


Cheerful and helpful Ken Robillard came along on our Kadena tour. He speaks the fastest Japanese that I have ever heard.


For this tour, as the joke went, we had our own doctor and our own nurse. Elise and Brett, a flight surgeon.


Elise  looking towards Hawaii.


Elise Piliwale and Gary Epperson looking at the China Sea.


Last time I lived on Okinawa (1958-1960), our house looked something like these in this same neighborhood. Stearley Heights, Kadena.


Gary Epperson, singer, lived in this house on Kerby Loop near where I lived.


Cheryl and Al Rogers, once Okinawans, now live on the Kitsap Peninsula across from Seattle in Port Orchard. I have played there, and also in Port Townsend and Port Angeles.


Raymond Carver, a talented writer, lived in Port Angeles.


After the Kadena tour, we went to the Officers’ Club where an incredible buffet was in progress.


Okinawa is a good place to learn Japanese, Chinese or Uchinaaguchi, the native Okinawan language.


Shinjichi nu ada nayumi.   (native Okinawan proverb)

Kindness will never be wasted in any way.

Elise with her toes in the pacific ocean.


The most beautiful things in the most unlikely places.


“You don’t see one of these everyday.” (George Harrison, Hard Day’s Night)


Elise and I explored a lot of tombs. Fascinating. They are so new now.

When my brothers and I explored them, they looked like this.

Now they look like


Elise venerating her camera.


In Mexico they put a worm in their tequila.


In Okinawa, they put an entire poisonous snake, the habu, in their awamori, a liqueur to which honey and herbs have been added. The habu, a pit viper, is believed by some to have medicinal properties.


When I lived on Okinawa, there were habu mongoose fights. People would bet on the outcome. The mongoose would kill two or three habu, and then when it was tired another habu would kill the mongoose.


Cruel? Stupid? You bet. Habu mongoose fighting is illegal now.


Elise and I were walking by the Pacific and we saw these signs.


To all flight attendants and ticket agents of all airlines:

See?   My guitar will go in the overhead of a Boeing 767… with room to spare.


And they are my witnesses.



Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

11 October 2011



We are on Okinawa Sunday 16 October.


The first time I came to this island was 27 July 1946, sixty five years ago. We were the first American children on Okinawa.


Look where we left from, Fort Mason, San Francisco. I taught music there at Blue Bear School of Music in the 1980s.


Notice that the trip to Okinawa took two weeks on the USS David Shanks.


Years later, in 1958, we returned to Okinawa, and, when we left in 1960, my father, an Air Force officer, was stationed at Hamilton Field, Novato, California. This is the base hospital. I think my brother Stephen was born here.

He said, “Yes, you can.”


An auto repair shop on Okinawa in the 1960s.


It was an adventure being on Okinawa both times, and, of course, I am thrilled to be back. 1946, 1958 and 2011. This island has meant much to me.


In my next week’s writing there will be many photographs of the island as it is today.


David LaFlamme (It’s A Beautiful Day) and I at The Whisky a Go Go, Hollywood, California.


Elise Piliwale and Lizzie looking out at the rain.


John Dylan Whitcomb Myler learning the tricks of the trade from his father.


We did a play called Love, Janis, together. Well, he wrote and directed it and I was the music director. A great experience.


Okinawa 1960, the last time I was here. Jimmy Grant, Larry Henson (my rhythm guitar player in The Cool Notes) and Jim Mason. So I have returned after 50 years, probably the largest closing of a circle in my life.


Cathy Richardson and Mary Bridget Davies who did Love, Janis, with us.


Duking it out with James Gurley.


Vesper who has excellent social skills. She’s a dynamo.


I see her almost every day across the street from this mannikin.


My father (Andrew) at the Okinawa “Officers’ Club,” 1946.


These guys are on the other side of the world, Europe in 1944, near some jumping off place.


Mädl. She lives somewhere below.


With her.


It was difficult to leave Okinawa in 1960. We formed serious attachments there and really never got over the place.


I began university that year and we all went to the Surf Theatre in San Francisco to see such films as Otto e Mezzo (8 1/2). Marcello Mostroianni didn’t care much for Anita Ekberg, but he loved Anouk Aimée. I was right there with him on that one.



Alton Kelley, Gretchen Golden and Yossarian Kelley in an iconic photograph by Irving Penn.


This is that baby Yossarian as a man. He looks like his father.


L’Avventura, La Dolce Vita, Il Divorzio all’Italiana, Le Chien Andalou, Viridiana,  La Strada, Rocco e i suoi Fratelli, Giulietta di Spiriti, Throne of Blood, Rashomon, Woman of the Dunes, Street of Shame, Zéro de Conduite, Au Bout de Souffle,  The Horse’s Mouth, A Taste of Honey,  and, three or four years later in that same Surf Theatre, Hard Day’s Night, were an education for us, as important as classes at school. More important perhaps.


Big Brother and the Holding Company saw Hard Day’s Night in that same theatre, the same night, as The Charlatans, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Country Joe and the Fish. We were on our way.


School was out.




Nick Gravenites remembers a lot about James Gurley from 1961, 62, 63. I love hearing these stories.


Tom Finch’s daughter, Makenna, named for Makena Beach, Maui, where I lived with James Gurley off and on for a couple of years.


Allen Ginsberg on a beach in Japan shortly after I left Okinawa.


Among the first 1000 to die in Iraq. I thought I could paint them all.


Big Brother opens for Quicksilver.


Elise Piliwale and I in our avatar phase. Study for a painting.


Joel Jaffe, a prince among men, runs Studio D in Sausalito, California, and Matt W. helps him a lot.


We did a recording session with the woman who is the most illuminated, Shiho-san. She is a big star in Japan, and she is on Okinawa this week.


Joel with some of his other friends, Maria Muldaur, Joan Baez and Jane Fonda.


Andra Mitrovich, so beautiful, so warm, so great with an audience.


On Don Aters’ porch in Kentucky.


Our home town guitar player Tom Finch with his daughter Makenna and wife Tara Coyote-Finch.


Etak is a good guitar player too.


Chris Leighton ! Patti Allen-Lehman ! Hot stuff. Chris is such a great drummer. We had some beautiful gigs together. With Chris on drums it was always like, “Hey! This is the big time.”


Our little friends. We put these people on the inside of an album cover, and I wish we had done this on every recording we did.

In many cases here, most cases, really, this is the only image of these people we have.


Norton and I wrote a couple of songs together. One of these days I will find that tape. Norton and Lisa Buffalo.


We’ll see you next week with some photographs of today’s Okinawa.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


The Musical Secret of Life (or one of them anyway)

9 October 2011




For any of our friends who will be on Okinawa during the Uchinanchu Festival, there will be an invitation only event on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at Sam’s by the Sea. Because space is limited, tickets are required and are available upon request, but the event is free, and is open to the alumni and teachers of Kubasaki, OCS and CKS, and to all of our friends from around the world.


A little honesty can get you in trouble. A lot of it can be downright dangerous.


Well, if I called the wrong number, then why did you answer the phone?

Photo: Max Clarke.


A che cosa serve la noia?

What is boredom for?


This face has lasted for a long time. It’s a Barrymore face from the 19th century.


Drew’s father was John Drew Barrymore. If they ever made a film about his life, Sean Penn could play him in a second. Drew has two great acting strains  in her family, the Drews and the Barrymores.


John Drew (1853-1927) was an actor and a matinée idol, one of the great stars of his day. His father was also a great actor. Louisa Lane Drew, John Drew’s mother, became the manager of the Arch Street theatre in San Francisco, which she ran successfully for thirty years.


On her opening night at age 21 in New York, Ethel Barrymore was scared, and someone shouted from the gallery, “Speak up, Ethel, all the Drews are great actors.” A lot of people still think she was the greatest actress of her generation.


We should show life neither as it is nor as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams.    (Chekhov)

(John Barrymore)


Lionel Barrymore, a huge talent, painter and actor, who had so many great roles, maybe the most interesting in Dinner At Eight (1933).


So, let’s just say that Drew Barrymore has a lot in her soul. Still continuing the tradition after more than a hundred years. Here’s to you, talented one. You are a Drew and a Barrymore.


Big Brother and the Holding Company, Sophia Ramos.


Elie Piliwale, the youngest and most attractive member of a very young and attractive family,


Art must begin locally so that it may end universally.


Will The Circle Be Unbroken? (I just today learned the trick of painting this, after a week of frustration. I’ve only got a little start, but it is a start, and now I know how to do it. That was a tough beginning. (Photo: Max Clarke)


What we love tells the story of who we are.


Laura Joplin and her daughter Claire.


An old saying in English: She was “in the pink,”

means roughly the same as the French “la vie en rose.”


What people look like on the street in São Paolo, Brazil.     (Photo: Elise Piliwale)


Nat King Cole was such a great piano player. He was as fleet, fast, furious and fun as anyone who ever played the instrument. I still can’t believe how good he was.


Die Welt des Glücklichen ist eine andere als die des Unglücklichen. (Wittgenstein)

The world of the happy is other than the world of the unhappy.     (Photo: Max Clarke)



Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.


Beginning improvisors, here is the    Secret Of Life:

Arpeggios with a judicious addition of chromaticism, scale motion and blue notes.     (Milan Melvin and Mimi Fariña, 1968)


The great object of music is to touch the heart, and this end can never be obtained by mere noise, drumming and arpeggios. Karl Philipp Emmanuel Bach.


One of the most ancient and reverential gestures that accompanied prayer was the spreading of arms and hands heavenward. In time, the arms were pulled in, folded across the breast, wrists intersecting above the heart. Each of these gestures possesses an intrinsic logic and obviousness of intent.

The folding of hands, in the now familar image of prayer, is mentioned nowhere in the Bible.


This prayer gesture didn’t appear in the Christian church until the ninth century. Subsequently, sculptors and artists incorporated it into scenes that predated its origin… which, it turns out, has nothing to do with religion or worship, and owes much to subjugation and servitude.


The folding of hands in prayer, as we know it, originated from the holding out of hands to be handcuffed. The joined hands became a standard, widely practiced gesture long before it was appropriated and formalized by the Catholic Church.


Before waving a white flag signaling surrender, a captured Roman could avert immediate slaughter by affecting the shackled hands posture.


He’s tough, sir, tough is Slick Aguilar, and devlish sly !


That’s her name there written out in hieroglyphics. Kleopatra.


The arpeggios are like the big road map and the chromaticism and blue notes are like little detailed roads to the next town, the next chord.


Elise Piliwale, if she were one of those fancy women at the Red Dog Saloon, Virginia City, Nevada.


Main thing is… learn the arpeggios of all keys in all positions and inversions. Major, minor, augmented, diminished and, especially, half diminished chords.


Knowing the “melody” is also important, even if it is only your own melody.


Christy is beautiful, inside and out.


Big Boobster and the Holding Company, Maury Baker, Sophia Ramos, Peter Albin, Ben Nieves.


I am trying to get one of these people, if not both, to come sing with us soon.


Melody and arpeggios… of course they are both vital. it’s like line and color in painting.


I’m Charley’s aunt frrom Brazil where the nuts come from. In fact, Brazil was named frm the nut and not the other way round.


I still haven’t done a satisfactory portrait of Ben Nieves, but this one is growing on me.


To Alechim without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this blog would have been finished in half the time.


A long way is nothing. It’s how you take the first step that counts.

(Jim Wall, PhD Percussion, Doctor Drums)


Learn all these arpeggios in all these positions and modes and save years of time.


On the other hand, I suppose it could take a lifetime to learn all these arpeggios in all these positions.


It certainly has taken me a lifetime.


Of course, i didn’t realize for a long while that learning arpeggios should have been my goal.


When I began, I played in a linear style. Melody was the only thing. Melody and paraphrase of that melody.


So I played “horizontally.” Up and down the neck from first position on a string all the way up to as high as I could go, 20th fret and beyond.


After going through the Berklee methods for guitar, I slowly, dimly began to realize the importance of arpeggios.


Then, in the 1980s, 1990s, i began in earnest to learn the arpeggios everywhere on the guitar neck… and on the piano, saxophone and voice also.


The arpeggios give a schematic of where we are in the music. We don’t have to play them, but feeling them is good, because they are the outline of the chord. The skeleton. The map.


It is important to feel music horizontally and vertically at the same time.


This means being able to play melodically step by step and chordally by leaps and bounds. Melody lines and arpeggios.


There are many new tricks, mostly in the right hand, that I will probably never learn, but which are important for someone to learn now because most serious players use them at present.


If you look up my friend Joel Hoekstra, you will find a gifted teacher who will show you more in his videos and writings than you can probably learn in a lifetime.

(Mick Taylor, Sam Andrew)


Joel is not only a teacher, he plays in real life, plays as well as anyone, better than anyone really. See for yourself.


I heard a recording tonight of Joel Hoekstra, Blake Thompson and me in a room in Arizona going over Summertime for the show Love, Janis. The musicianship in that room was astonishing. I am tempted to release that recording, but it would only interest guitar players and other musical people. It’s not going to be on the Top Ten real soon, but it is a fascinating document.


The chronicler of daily nonsense in Zug, Switzerland.


Music is a tongue that utters no mean nor sarcastic words.     Photo: Don Aters.


This is the Foul Fiend Flibbertigibbet.


Sophia Ramos and I in Las Vegas.


Conscience, an inner voice that warns us that someone is looking, even if it’s only ourselves.     Photo: Max Clarke


Cogito, ergo sum.


My dear friend, clear your mind of cant… You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in society: but don’t THINK foolishly.    Samuel Johnson.


Cant (Latin cantus, song)

Phraseology taken up and used for fashion’s sake, and not as a genuine expression of sentiment.

Insincere, especially conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness or piety, the jargon peculiar to a particular class, party, profession, e.g.,  The cant of the music industry.


You usually hear cant when people aren’t really thinking. Their mind slips into neutral and they begin parroting common, trendy thoughts. Politicians do this a lot. You hear accepted notions fly by like banners of banality.


Marin County Cant, early 21st Century:

(Full Disclosure, I am a vegetarian from Marin County.)


I’m radiating total acceptance now, so, I love you, man, no, I really love you.

It’s all good. Don’t blame me for that Astral Projection. My Mars was conjuncting Jupiter.

What color is my aura? Red? Holy Atlantis, it was green just yesterday !

I wish my chakra were red. I’m channeling BaBa Lu and psychometrisized on my spiritual journey. I’m on the path, closer to the godess, bro.

There are other realities, like, like tantric sex which will lead us to manifesting abundance. It’s a Higher Consciousness, so consult the Tarot and use your Third Eye. That’s my special mantra.


We’re going to Okinawa, Japan. We’ll see you next week.

(I think Kat Feaver snapped this.)

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company



2 October 2011




I have been married to Elise Piliwale for ten years today.


Conservatism preserves the radical idea that someone had yesterday.


People are most conservative when they are least vigorous and most luxurious… that is, usually when they are older.


If you happen to be in Okinawa, Japan, 16 October, please come see us.


Kate Russo in a wonderful photograph by Elliott Landy.


Don Aters’ incandescent photo of Lynn Asher.


Salvador Dalì and Walt Disney.


A conservative will not look at the new sunrise out of respect for that “ancient institution,” yesterday’s.


Elise Piliwale, Athens.


“Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservatives.”   John Stuart Mill.


Ronald Reagan was the first… and so far only… president to have been divorced.


Republicans keep referring to Ronald Reagan as a great statesman, and, oh, if we could only return to his time, a golden age of sunshine in America. So, it might be worthwhile to take a look at his tenure in the White House.


I lived through Reagan’s administration and what I remember is that he basically slept through it. He was a non participant. That’s the most charitable view of the matter, because, if he didn’t sleep through his Presidency, then he is responsible for damage to the USA.


People around Ronald Reagan, if not he himself, made a deal to sell arms to Iran in 1986. This decision was made in hopes of obtaining freedom for Americans who had been taken hostage by pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. But because the sale was carried out in secret, and despite Reagan’s oft repeated insistence that he would never make concssions to terrorists, when it came to light it undermined his credibility.


The money obtained by selling weapons to Iran was used to supply Nicaraguan anti Communist rebel troops (the Contras) with arms, despite the fact that Congress had banned such deliveries. Supplying weapons to the Contras was patently illegal. Reagan insisted that this was done by members of the White House staff without his knowledge which suggested that he was either lying or incompetent.


And then there was Reagan’s grasp of current events:

“Well, I would… if they realized that we… again if… if we led them back to that stalemate only because that our retaliatory power, our seconds, or strike at them after our first strike, would be so destructive that they couldn’t afford it, that would hold them off.”

Ronald Reagan when asked if nuclear war could be limited to tactical weapons.


A view from a fellow (very hard core) Republican:

Reagan is a person with whom you can’t discuss serious issues. Many, many times I have been with members of Congress in Mr. Reagan’s presence, and i don’t have the feeling that ever once, any of us have gotten through to him with any point of view other than the one that he entered the meeting with.”     (Jim Wright 1987)


Ronald Reagan was a person of much personal charm, but he set in motion the trend toward deregulation that led directly to the economic troubles we have today. If he was awake during his presidency, then he caused great harm to us and, if he was asleep, as I suspect he was… well, hardly a great statesman either way.


A true conservative is someone who can’t see the difference between radicalism and a good idea.


You learn something new everyday. And, if you’re really lucky, you get to learn something old every day too.


Some people are so conservative that they believe nothing should be done for the first time.


Kiss me, Kate.   (She’s probably heard that as many times as I have heard “Play it again, Sam.)


The words “Play it again, Sam.” were never uttered in Casablanca. See for yourself.


Ilsa:   Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake.

Sam:   I don’t know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.

Ilsa:   Play it, Sam. Play “As Time Goes By.”

Sam:   Oh, I can’t remember it, Miss Ilsa. I’m a little rusty on it.

Ilsa:   I’ll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum…

(Sam begins playing)

Ilsa:   Sing it, Sam.

Sam: You must remember this, A kiss is still a kiss,

A sigh is just a sigh,

The fundamental things apply,      As time goes by,

And when two lovers woo,

They still say “I love you.” On that you can rely,

No matter what the future brings…


Dooley Wilson, who played Sam, was a drummer. The real piano player couldn’t sing, as it turned out, so Dooley, who had such a great voice, had to sit in. The original piano player was off camera playing the tune, and Dooley Wilson watched him and copied the piano moves as he sang the song.


Uma Thurman’s father was the first American to be ordained a Buddhist monk.


The Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, between Park Place and Barclay Street, Manhattan., still dominates the City Hall Park area of lower Manhattan. This was the world’s tallest structure until the 1930 completion of the Chrysler Building.


President Bush declared a National Day of Prayer for Peace. This was shortly after he and Dick Cheney had prepared the Shock and Awe adventure in Iraq, you know, the useless war that we are still paying for?


Castro Theatre 429 Castro Street, near Market. Timothy Pflueger was a young man of twenty nine when the Nasser Brothers, who started out with nickelodeons, asked him to design his first picture palace. The Wurlitzer organ still rises from the pit for mini concerts before screenings.


With Greg Errico and Cynthia Robinson, Florida, 2010.


“Shalom Aleichem”  Peace be with you. The proper reply is “Aleichem Shalom.” This is a traditional Jewish way of saying hello and goodbye, as well as a familiar Friday night hymn welcoming the Shabbes angels.


“The parties that made the Consitution aimed to cheat and defraud the slave, who was not himself a party to the compact or agreement.”

Frederick Douglas, “The Constitution and Slavery,”  1849.


The rebec and the oud were common instruments in Africa. They crossed over the narrow strait that separates Morocco and Spain and came into Europe who knows when? They evolved into the lute (al oud), the guitar, the violin, the violoncello. the viol family. This must have happened during the first thousand years after the Common Era.


“Once they notice you, they never completely close the file.”

Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)


A person telling an emotional story slips from first person to third, and s/he has reached the point where the feelings start to become overwhelming.


What I said to an audience in Moscow, 1995.

“We love Russia and we are so happy to play for you.”


Wesley Freeman has chosen Chiko to sing with me in Okinawa, Japan.


“Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”

Mark Twain.


Ikh bin a bisl antoysht vos mir kenen nisht a bisl lenger eyner mitn andern reden.   (Yiddish)

I’m a little disappointed that we can’t chat a little longer.


Antioxidants are vitamins believed to prevent cancer and heart disease. These vitamins neutralize circulating free radicals (reactive molecules). which are destructive to cells. Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, D and E make up the antioxidant family.


Clark Walker contemplava avidamente le fatezze opulente della macchina, come un cobra adocchia una gallina ben pasciuta.

Clark Walker avidly contemplated the opulent attributes of the car, as a cobra would covet a well nourished hen.


The Ptolemaic Period in Egypt derives its name from Ptolemy I and his descendents, who ruled Egypt from 305 to 30 B.C. Ptolemy was a general under Alexander  the Great and the Ptolemies retained their Greek ways and ruled from the newly founded city of Alexandria.



Wright-san wa o-taku ni irasshaimasu ka?     (Japanese)

Is Mr. Wright at home?


27 August 1776. George Washington sneaked his entire 9,500 man force across the East River, out of Brooklyn and into Manhattan, narrowly averting slaughter at the hands of the British under the command of General William Howe. Washington engineered his troops brilliant retreat across Bedford Pass, Flatbush Pass and Gowanus Creek and finally into Brooklyn Heights whence he steered his army to safety in Manhattan, thus keeping the flickering hopes of the Revolution alive.


There is a town in Texas called Ding Dong. Not sure if Rick Perry has ever been there.


Any officer of the federal government can be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors” by a majority vote of the House of Representatives, but he or she is tried in the Senate rather than in a court. The House has impeached seventeen officials: twelve federal judges, one Supreme Court justice, one senator, one cabinet member and two presidents, but the Senate found only seven of these officials guilty and removed them from office.


Étui. I’ve always liked this French word. It means a case. i first came across it in André Gide where he used it for a “cigarette case.” In German a guitar case is der Koffer, which sounds a bit like coffin or coffer, but in French, Spanish and Italian the words are all related to étui, estuche and astuccio.


Hey, who’s that guy standing in Joel Hoekstra’s place by Brad Gillis?


The Dakota Apartments, 1 West 72nd Street at Central Park West, Manhattan., 1880-1884. Singer Manufacutring Company heir and West Side developer Edward S. Clark built this luxury apartment building so far away from the rest of the City that it was said it might as well have been in the Dakota Territory. Leonard Bernstein, Judy Garland, John and Yoko and Rosemary’s Baby lived here, and Yoko still does.


Hey, who’s that guy with Don Aters?


Far fetched as it may seem, many people are using three dimensional printing technology to create medical implants, jewelry, football boots designed for individual feet, lampshades, racing car parts, solid state batteries, and customised mobile phones.


San Francisco City Hall, 400 Van Ness Avenue, 1915. The steel framed Beaux Arts city hall is clad in Marin granite outside and Indiana sandstone inside. The dome is fourteen feet taller than the US Capitol’s. The cascading staircase, surrounded by a Corinthian loggia is beautiful and stately.


A rare “hometown” gig. Georges, San Rafael, California.


Rib cage, pen and ink.


My Vermeer version.


This character means “mountain” in Japanese. Doesn’t it look like a mountain? There are two readings, SAN and yama. Fujisan, Fujiyama. Mount Fuji.


The Hebrew word for “under” is ta-chat, which became the Yiddish tuchis, the tush.


Chuck Berry was born on Goode Avenue in St. Louis in 1931.


Pen and ink. The horse’s hoof is the nail of its “middle finger.”


My homeys at Aroma Cafe:

Mickey Fischer, Peek Sawyer, Shelley Champine, Brad Flaharty, Bill Hansell, Alan Monasch, Andrew Perrins, Veronica Page, Shannon Cinnamon McCloud, Kevin Phillips, Karen, Jimmy, RJ Franco, Glenn Herskowitz. Seated: Nusi Decker, Dava Sheridan, Terry Morton, Sam Andrew.


Study for a painting.


Elise in Greece.


And now, my impression of a Holy Man.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company