Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride": Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson

English: Hunter S. Thompson, Miami Book Fair I...
Hunter S. Thompson, 1988 (Wikipedia)
by Cristina Owen, Chronicles of a Travel Addict:

I first heard of the expression, “buy the ticket, take the ride” when I read Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aide Acid Test.

At the time, while I tripped along the words, riding along in the Magic Bus with Ken Kesey and his gang of acid-trippin’ hippies (including Neal Cassady and Hunter S. Thompson), I had never read anything by Hunter S. Thompson.

I had the fortune to see the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro while I was living in Santa Monica, getting my bachelor’s degree in American Literature and Culture.

Kind of ironic, if you think about it, that the very man Tom Wolfe deemed the twentieth century’s greatest writer in the English language would never appear in any of the coursework I took at UCLA. Maybe he had been discussed in another class’s coursework, but none of mine.

Anyhow, when I first saw “Fear and Loathing”, it made me feel like I was on some serious hard-core drugs. And, at that point, I hadn’t done anything beside drink and smoke pot. A quasi-square, if you will. Well, not really.

I don’t know why, but it took me about nine years to get around to reading the book. It was one of those that you get sucked into, the depravity, paranoia, and excess fascinating you just as much as it repulses you.

It makes you laugh because of how ridiculous the characters are, and because you can also identify with the protagonist and his side-kick- at least just a little bit.

Truthfully, reading the book made me very anxious and weary for sometime after it, which testifies not only to the connection Thompson was able to establish with his readers, but also to his powerful writing abilities.

Hunter S. Thompson believed that writers were rock stars, and I fail to come up with a better way to describe his lifestyle.

I don’t profess to be an expert on his writing or his life, but after watching “Gonzo: The Life and Writing of Hunter S. Thompson” and “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride”, I’m convinced more than ever that this man was truly a gem of a human being.

Definitely a drugged-up, violent, balls-out kind of gem in all of his lunacy, but still something special nonetheless.

Here was a man who drank a bottle of Wild Turkey a day, did a vast rainbow of drugs (uppers, downers, hallucinogenics, you name it), had 22 loaded guns in his home, ran with the Hells Angels, tripped with the Kensian Hippies, drove crazy fast, woke up at 5pm to start his day and ended up shooting his brains out the way Hemingway had.

He was unprofessional, individualistic to an extreme, and lived in mad, mad ways that many upstanding citizens couldn’t even construe in their wildest nightmares.

Aside from that, his journalistic style was reflective of his inability to divorce reality from fantasy, and most of the time revolved around his antics rather than the events he was supposed to be reporting on.

Aside from the craziness, whether or not one is willing to admit it, Thompson was also a brilliant writer and photographer that blazed massive trails into this fictionalized, hallucinatory new type of journalism.

I think what’s most interesting about his character (and he was a character, one that he created and would have to live up to) was how much he cared about society.

He believed in the right to the American Dream, in people’s rights to live however the fuck they wanted, and was very politically involved (he even ran for Mayor of Aspen, the two-thumbed Gonzo fist becoming his character’s personal logo).

He cared deeply about his “doomed generation”, and from what I’ve seen, it pained him greatly to see his country being consistently faced with adversity, whether it be war, anti-drug policies, or the loss of faith in freedom.

People were drawn to this man - actors, artists, women - and I can see why. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about squares and how many people are trapped in their way of living so as not to appear a certain way to others, or so that others will open their doors to them.

I think that the economic hardships that have plagued our country in the past three or four years, individuality has suffered a great deal, for everyone is trying to fit into that cookie-cutter image in order to find and maintain a job.

Maybe that’s not so for others, but I personally have felt this kind of pressure to act, think, behave and dress in such a boring fashion in order to find gainful employment that it makes me yearn for more and more craziness.

I don’t necessarily promote the violence or boyish antics that he employed, but do believe that Thompson lived his life in a big, colorful, vibrant manner. He was constantly in the face of death, on the brink, toeing the edge - and there’s a lot to say about that.

To play it safe is to drown in boredom. To me, life isn’t about staying in check; it isn’t about behaving so as to please the masses. It’s about passion and doing what makes your head spin and your heart smile, and sometimes about telling the status quo establishments to fuck off.

What can I say, I think Hunter S. Thompson’s life and body of work are great sources of inspiration. We have to remember that life is meant to be lived, and not simply endured.
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013


by Andy Greene, ROLLING STONE, on

Doors co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek died today in Rosenheim, Germany after a long battle with bile duct cancer. He was 74.

"I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek today," Doors guitarist Robby Krieger said in a statement.

"I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him."

Manzarek grew up in Chicago, then moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to study film at UCLA.

It was there he first met Doors singer Jim Morrison, though they didn't talk about forming a band until they bumped into each other on a beach in Venice, California in the summer of 1965 and Morrison told Manzarek that he had been working on some music.

"And there it was!" Manzarek wrote in his 1998 biography, Light My Fire. "It dropped quite simply, quite innocently from his lips, but it changed our collective destinies."

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Top 3 Best Miles Davis Albums From the 60's and 70's - And Why

Cover of "Bitches Brew"
Cover of Bitches Brew
by Donald L Malloy Jr

There is no question that Miles Davis is one of greatest artists to walk the face of the earth.

He has recorded many albums with Charlie Parker which lead to him having an extensive career as a leader where he was always at the forefront of the music.

Miles Davis was always the one to change jazz music to the next sound.

By the 1960's and 70's Miles had gone to so many different places in the world and receiving inspiration from everywhere.

Also this is my favorite time period for him.

In my opinion, these are the 3 best Miles Davis albums from the 60's and 70's.

1. The Sorcerer

The Sorcerer was recorded in May of 1967 and released in December that same year. This entire album is full of hits, and was mostly written by saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock.

The track Sorcerer was written by Herbie and a fast modal swing tune where drummer Tony Williams is pushing that beat hard with his polyrhythms and strong grooving beat.

Also it is different in the fact that Miles and Wayne don't take individual solos, but they trade the entire time. It is just amazing how they respond to each other and keep the energy moving.

2. Miles in the Sky

Miles in the Sky was recorded in January and May of 1968 and was released in September that same year. This was such a great recording for several reasons.

The music is great, he begins to change members in his band, and this was Miles' introduction to using electric instruments in his band. You hear George Benson doing his thing.

My favorite song on the album is Black Comedy. The melody is so simple, but the feel of it is so complex in terms of placement. Although all the songs are great Miles only performed one of them in live settings. That would be Paraphernalia.

3. Bitches Brew

Bitches Brew was recorded in August 1969 and was released January 1970. Now I don't know if this is the first album to do this but it is an inventive concept, the album plays like a seamless playlist.

The songs interweave together where you don't necessarily just know when one song ends and the next begins. This album is all about interaction, and it is all electric. Even Miles has his trumpet electrified.

He use effects like delay and distortion in various points. My favorite song is Pharaoh's Dance. The melody that Miles plays is just the perfect thing to play.

Whether you like these albums that I have chosen as the 3 best Miles Davis Albums in the 60's and 70's as much as I do, we all should agree that the man was great, and his influence on music will be felt for many years to come.

If you like Miles Davis check out New York City based trumpeter Donald Malloy.
Click here to download 4 free songs from him.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bob Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks", Part 5: The Fatal Extension Course

Cover of "Blood on the Tracks"
Cover of Blood on the Tracks
by Garrett Sawyer

Part of the appeal of Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" is that the songs are undoubtedly part-autobiographical.

Although Dylan himself has vigorously denied that it is so Jakob, the youngest of Bob and Sara Dylan's four children, has stated: "The songs are my parents talking".

Tragically, some of what Dylan was portraying was the breakup of his marriage.

Ironically, what helped drive them apart wasn't infidelity on either of their part. It was art lessons. Around April 1974 Dylan began taking classes in art from a 73-year-old Russian immigrant named Norman Raeben.

What Raeben taught Dylan permanently altered the latter's way of thinking. Or as Dylan would recall later," I went home after that first day and my wife never did understand me ever since that day.

That's when our marriage started breaking up. She never knew what I was talking about, what I was thinking about, and I couldn't possibly explain it". To finish the album's songs:

If You See Her Say Hello: Now he's getting mournful and melancholy on us. She evidently has already left him long ago. Among the revelations he makes is that he seems to have made one last attempt to stop her from leaving one night but the scene that resulted left a bad taste in his mouth. Yet through it all he doesn't seem to harbor any resentment toward her.

Shelter From the Storm: Dylan was not the first to use this phrase. Creedence Clearwater Revival used it previously in 1970's "Who'll Stop the Rain" ("I went down Virginia, seeking shelter from the storm"). Here the theme is totally different. In a quiet acoustic song full of natural and religious imagery Dylan again recounts his loss of Sara. Following each verse is the simple rejoinder "'Come in' she said 'I'll give you shelter from the storm.'" More than once he seems to be comparing himself to Jesus when he refers to the woman in the song taking his crown of thorns or people gambling for his clothes in a village the way soldiers supposedly did after the Crucifixion

Buckets of Rain: The coda to the album. It's a quiet, almost playful finale to Sara (Sample lyric: "Little red wagon, Little red bike. I ain't no monkey but I know what I like"). It almost sounds like he's laughing through his tears. A fitting finale to an album full of sound and fury, signifying lots of things.

"Blood on the Tracks was recorded soon after Bob Dylan's and Sara Lownd's initial separation. The divorce was finalized in June of 1977. Theirs was a strained relationship for several years afterwards but eventually they made peace with one another well enough that they even considered remarrying.

Dylan's true feelings came out on his subsequent album, "Desire", on the song "Sara", where he called her his "Radiant jewel, mystical wife".

Wouldn't it be pleasant if great works of art like "Blood on the Tracks" didn't have to be the result of personal tragedy, heartbreak and loss? Perhaps the only good thing that can be said for hardships like the kind Bob Dylan and Sara Lownds underwent is that Dylan channeled his suffering into his art.

If you like Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" then you'll like a song inspired by the story of a soldier who died after returning from Iraq. For a limited time only you can download this song for FREE by clicking HERE.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: Bob Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks", Part 2: Blowing In The "Idiot Wind"

English: Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C...
Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, 1963 (Wikipedia)
by Garrett Sawyer

Like a modern-day Dante, Dylan chronicled the inferno of his disintegrating marriage with Sara Lownds.

Even the title itself carried the poetic device of a double meaning. There isn't a train in sight on this album.

So when he titles it "Blood on the Tracks" is he referring to railroad tracks?

Or does he mean musical tracks, in which case he's implying that the songs have lyrical "blood" all over them? You be the judge.

On with the songs:

Simple Twist of Fate

Here the narrator sounds like he's describing a chance encounter (the twist of fate of the title) that happened to someone else. The pairing falls apart after a night of passion although the man hopes that perhaps he'll get lucky twice.

Yet he eventually ends up revealing his own feelings about it when he sings, "People tell me it's a sin to know and feel too much within" as if to admit that he's been talking about himself the whole time but found it too painful to acknowledge.

You're a Big Girl Now

If this isn't a painfully candid assessment of his failing marriage with Sara then there's never been one. Think of an update version of "Just like a Woman" and you've got the essentials.

The song is replete with sad observations as to the state of their relationship ("I'm back in the rain and you're on dry land"), pleas to be understood ("I hope that you can hear, hear me singing through these tears"), promises to change, confessions of ignorance and inferiority and, finally, a wistful request not to "change horses in midstream" even as they've apparently already broken up.

Idiot Wind

This is the song he should have written right after "Like a Rolling Stone" (I don't know about all of you but I can practically hear him singing, "How does it feel ... to be as clueless as you are?"). The sarcasm, anger and outright hostility quite literally drip from the speakers. The only question left is, who's really the target of this poisonous musical dart?

The first verse sounds like it was written for the paparazzi, the second verse for all of their oblivious friends. But most of what follows sounds like he's telling Sara off (sample lyric: "You're an idiot babe. It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe").

One of Dylan's performances would seem to confirm this. Dylan sang "Idiot Wind" during a performance in Fort Collins, Colorado at Hughes Stadium. You can hear this performance yourself because it was included on "Hard Rain", Dylan's live album.

Does he sound even angrier than the recording? If he does, there's a possible explanation: it seems Sara was supposedly sitting in the front row.

What a canon of songs! Just in these three songs alone Dylan careens from hope to sorrow to dripping sarcasm and back again. And if the lyrics don't capture you the inventive, ingenious melodies will.

If you like Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" then you'll like a song inspired by the story of a soldier who died after returning from Iraq. For a limited time only you can download this song for FREE by clicking HERE.

Download your free song at:

Article Source:,-Part-2:-Blowing-In-The-Idiot-Wind&id=7674170

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