Monday, April 06, 2009


Ok, so this blog has been redesigned because Joey is a gangster and a big sex. It will eventually be repurposed into something larger, but for now its business as usual.

I will eventually put in a proper redirect, but I will be posting there from now on, ya heard?

EDIT: Lets give blogger a proper send-off though. I loved this site, posting here as often as I could to remember all the insane shit I was getting myself into. If you have been reading that whole time, I can't thank you enough. I realize you have a choice among the many self-absorbed fools yammering away on the internet, but you chose me, and I appreciate that. This has been an amazing journey and I will miss it, but the new improved will give us a ton of new and amazing opportunities.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Obligatory "I'm listening to this and so should you" post.

1. Check out this screwed up version of Bob Marley's track "Johnny Was" by my friend Shane. This dude has been doing some amazing shit, screwing up Animal Collective, Beach House, and more with some great results.

2. In other screw music news, this is the most beastly screwed and chopped song I've heard in a long time.

I heard about it through 20Jazzfunkgreats, a blog thats fun to read because all of their reviews sound like this:

This track sounds like a Tyrannosaurus Rex made of lasers stomping through the bathroom of an Italian disco, spewing cocaine from its nostrils, shitting disco balls, and growling Moroder synth lines.

Or something like that, and that's great. Anyway, this is a track called "Yes Suh" by Baby Bash screwed and chopped by Choppaholix to the point that it basically sounds like "Eaten" by Bloodbath. The greatest song ever.

3. The Used - Burning Down the House
Yes. Talking Heads. Covered by THE FUCKING USED. I'm only vaguely sorry for the shitty sound quality. Actually, its probably good that it sounds like it was recorded from something else, because if you heard the real version you would probably implode from all the WORST SHIT EVER running through your body. Kind of like how if you look at an eclipse directly it will burn your eyes out of your skull. Fuck. Next thing you know, Vampire Weekend will be covering Ministry.

4. Oceans in Space. He's the most talented person I know, and his music can be challenging, but his stuff lately has been the most focused I've heard out of him in years. This video around the 2:30 mark becomes something transcendent. Like Fennesz covering Ulrich Schnauss or something.

5. This girl, Heather. I just got the great news that she will be coming up to New York (as will her awesome, zombie-obsessed boyfriend) from Kentucky to celebrate for my girl's birthday in May. We've been trying to get her up here to record for a while now, and I'm really glad it's coming together. I've heard her sing and she is a TRUE talent. I spend a lot of time surrounded by questionably talented musicians, so its become quite easy to spot an actual talent among all the dross. Her recorded output (this video included) does not represent her accurately. So when she gets up here, we are going to get something decent recorded. Something she can show people. I can't wait. Here she is covering Grizzly Bear

6. Amherst.
I love these guys. As people, they can't be beat (check out Geetar Danny's blog here). And as a band, they have such a bright future. A bunch of truly dedicated guys with all the right influences. I think they've conquered their hometown of Louisville pretty thoroughly so I am excited that they too will be coming up to NY in the summer to play a show. Anyone out here I'm forcing you to come. They also just got a pro-style video done. It looks great and reminds me of all the evenings I spent watching 120 minutes. The format is very classic, and that's a good thing.

6.5 My friend Drew is an asshole. Or at least that's what he wants you to think. He's actually a big softie, more on that later. Anyway, he had the amazing idea of interviewing bands, getting drunk with them (he has the connections and the talent to make this really work) and posting it as a series on the web. I'm saying that here because I think you should all go to Drew's myspace, read his great great writing, and harass him into making this dream a reality. Good ideas need support, fires under and kicks to the ass to make them work. So yeah. That.

Alright that's it for now. Thanks for reading.

p.s. Keep an eye on this - (thanks Joey)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Brazilian Ban

From Michelle: "just for kicks, how about you write about NJ wanting to ban Brazilians. I wanna read this one."

OK, i got this. The New Jersey State Cosmetology and Hairstyling Board (a real, actual legislative body) recently moved to ban the Brazilian Wax after two women got infections after undergoing the procedure, in which body hair is forcibly removed from a person's pubic area, via hot wax and..stuff.

USA Today breaks it down

Now, I think this is a bit of overreaction on the part of the NJSCHB. What should be banned is the place these women got their Brazilians done. If your "Aesthetician" is a Guido in Newark who gives "waxes" using hot driveway tar and duct tape in the back of a windowless van covered in Yeast Infection then you deserve whatever infection you got. So suck it up and don't ruin it for everyone else.

In closing, although painful for those receiving them, Brazilians are ultimately pretty cool, and if they ban them in Jersey then we will have more of those Jersey types clogging the bridges and tunnels to get renegade waxes in the "free" state of New York. No one wants that.

Thank you.

EDIT in response to "clean" comments: Balls. Fucker. Asspuncher. Boobies.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Just a few things:

1. Check out the MRI blog if you are bored. We've had a lot of cool stuff go down recently that we're pretty proud of. The photo below is from a live lightpainting booth we set up at Studio B. We're doing the next one on April 3rd, so be durr.

2. Also, a friend of a friend of mine, HyLoFi, is a hell of a musician and he just put together his first ever music video. I dig it, and stay tuned to his youtube as he hopes to be doing one a week.

3. Also, Robocop. If you haven't seen it lately, watch it again. I think it is a near perfect action movie. In fact it might be perfect. Rivaled only by Aliens in its Light-years-ahead of its time awesomeness. In the near future I'm going to have "VerhoevenNacht" at my house. We'll watch the greatest of the Paul Verhoeven movies in this order:
1. Robocop
2. Total Recall
3. Starship Troopers
4. Showgirls

Not kidding. Verhoeven 4 Life!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hawaii Part 2

In the dense jungle of the farm, where it rained without warning and was often overcast, an introspective state was not hard to find. For my part, being so jetlagged, stunned and confronted with so many "deep" things to think about, I often found it hard to even form complete sentences on the farm. Preferring to think rather than say.

Getting in our rental car and firing up a CD was an instant I will never forget. As the bassline from "Once In a Lifetime" slammed through the speakers of our Nissan Micro Machine, I felt things get stirred in me that I had willfully denied for a week that felt like a year. Have you ever denied yourself something like music for an entire week? Give it a shot, like a near death experience it sucks at first, but everything just seems that much sweeter on the other side.

So it was Talking Heads, Four Tet, Hendrix, Battles, Atmosphere, and CAN on a mix CD I made for a trip around the Big Island. It was me, Michelle, and "The Boys" from Boston. We were going to cruise around the East side of the island, stop in Waipio Valley on Maha's recommendation, drop The Boys off at their new farm in Waimea, and head on to the Kona side/Tourist Trap side of the island to sleep on a beach.

The East side of the Island is the rainy side. Its unbelievably lush and beautiful but rains constantly. We followed the two lane highway along the coast:

Dropping the boys off in Waimea, which is the midway point between rainy Hilo and sunnny Kona. Waimea was a mix of the two climates, bright sun through a thick sheet of obnoxious mist rain that soaked everything. Their farm contact, a tanned older lady with a youthful face in a beat down farm truck invited us to follow them to a quiet beach a few miles away. Craving sun, we followed. It got drier:

Then sunnier:

And the change was astonishing. The music got louder as the sun got hotter in the sky, we were whooping and stripping off layers of clothes, exposing goofy farmers tans, spastic rushes of Vitamin D nearly running us off the road. Sigur Ros - "Gobbledigook" was playing, and it was the perfect soundtrack for our idiotic and maniacal rental car sun worship.

Then we hit the beach and lost it. Funny that we went from ass-freezing coldness in Philly to rainy and only occasionally hot weather on the farm. To us, the beach was the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Non-Ironic Joy Brought to you by the sun, sand and stray dogs.

After a killer beach shower - truly the greatest things known to man...I think I'm going to start a religion around them myself. A huge beach retreat with extra salty water. We'll make you swim for hours, pour sand down your crack, cover you in greasy off-brand suntan lotion, and make you take a 3 hour nap. After a full day of that, we'll allow as much time in a frigid beach shower as you can stand. You will find God there. I promise.

Anyway, after a killer beach shower we parted ways with the boys (they contacted me later as they got high in their new Tree House accommodations) we settled into our new campsite on Spencer Beach. We didn't have tents...just sleeping bags, so we rolled into town bought foam mats and tarps and created the most bootleg campsite ever. It worked out but I don't think I slept more than an hour without waking up.

Also that night, night photography!

In the morning we packed our bags, dropped the car at the airport and hitched a ride (on a renegade rental car shuttle) into Kailua-Kona to check in to our Hostel. Hostels can be shady and full of eager Irish Transvestites (Ogre, you know.) but this one was gorgeous. We got our own room for cheap with a huge deck, a hammock, and no matter where you went in the hostel you could hear awesome Reggae music.

Kailua-Kona is the type of place my parents love to visit. Pretty, small, with a "main drag" full of T-Shirt shops and cutesy souvenir boutiques. Is it age that drives us to these types of places? I used to give my parents immense amounts of shit for not seeing any "culture" (whatever that is) in the places they would visit, for staying safe in their gated resorts, avoiding contact with the real grit of whatever exotic place they were visiting. Then again, maybe when you get old, its nice to throw on a straw hat, oil up, lay back, and get your glisten on while one of the natives brings you overpriced fruity drinks from a swim up bar. That could be awesome too. I'm not going to judge anymore.

Kailua-Kona had some nice beaches and some nice snorkeling, but a strange nightlife. We didn't find our "niche" until we discovered Sam's Hideaway. A dirty country bar with tinted windows where you could smoke. I don't smoke, but I'm comforted now by a bar where its allowed. I think the "awesome" in a shitty bar gets more time to build up and steep if its patrons aren't forced to go outside every 10 minutes. We got in, grabbed a place at the bar, and settled down to 2 dollar beers and cheap rail drinks. Amazing. I felt like it was summer in Wisconsin.

Everyone who sang Karaoke sang country, and everyone was fat as hell. I went over to request the only country song I could ever dream of singing, "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard. Once I got to the Karaoke booth, I was floored by what I saw. Not only did they have huge, separate, entire tomes of song listings marked "Country", "Pop", "Rock", they had this massive contraption that looked like a cross between one of the first ever computers and "The Mangler". It was the size of a butcher's freezer, covered in huge whirring slots, stacked next to each other. I inspected the machine uninterrupted until a withered sea hag broke free from the figurehead on the bar, belching fire and GPC smoke, and lurched forth clutching a massive steel disc, most surely designed to cut my head off for examining her Doomsday device.

"Excuse me", she growled, pushing past me with the disc. That's when I realized, the Karaoke Machine ran on fucking LASER DISCS. Thousands of them. It was insane. I wondered if she had the Directors Cut of "Who's Harry Crumb?" in there, but then I realized, NO! These were not movies, they were all SONGS, with corresponding, shittily made music videos that only loosely depicted the action of the song. It was the most un-economical system for anything known to man. They actually employed actors and actresses to play out the lyrics to awful country songs that will only ever get seen or heard in a shitty, smoky bar in Hawaii. Amazing. Revelatory.

My massive disc went in, I sang my song, and no one stabbed me. Total success. We were having a good time until a loud cackling erupted to Michelle's left. A pretty blonde girl, chain smoking alone, had decided to make small talk with us. She seemed nice enough at first, but the more she talked we realized that she was an extremely sped up and chatty Lady of the Night. She was friendly and all, but by the fourth time she repeated the question, "So, you like Hawaii?", we were a little weirded out. We ignored her, so she started chatting up a blackout drunk with leather skin and surfer tats. He was about to hit some guy. I think it was his best friend. Finished our drinks and got out without so much as a scratch. Best bar ever.

In the morning, we got a ride to the airport from an old friend of my Father's who lived in the area. Jumped on a plane to Oahu, landed in Honolulu and picked up our extremely cheap rental car. We had a hostel booked on the North Shore and we were looking forward to the drive up.

On our way through Kailua (cities in Hawaii often have the same names as cities on other islands) on the East Side. We stopped at a used CD store and picked up some drivin' music. I bought:
Jeff Buckley - "Grace"
Tom Waits - "Franks Wild Years"
Boards of Canada - "Music Has The Right to Children"

I don't know what I was thinking. I should have just loaded up on awesome funk and soul records. Not that those albums aren't all amazing, but they make poor soundtracks for a drive up the coast of Oahu. The Boards album is great, but weirder than you remember, and more suited to headphones than a car stereo, where the vocal samples of "I. Love. You." just end up all shrill and annoying and repetitive. The Buckley album is something I really need to hear, but its a bit more dense, and needs a night in with the lyrics before I will be comfortable with it. The Waits album is another problem - its bizarre as hell, and with it playing as night fell, it completely freaked us out. It felt like we were always about to be hit by a speeding train full of junkie German Cabaret players lost on their way to die in the Dresden firebombing. "Train Song" is lovely though, but it was too late in the album to save us.

By the time we got near our hostel, we had been driving around lost for an hour and everything felt like that creepy scene in Apocalypse Now where they get to that outpost and everyone there has gone completely mad fighting to save a bridge that has already burned to cinders...fucking Heart of was the Waits, I'm serious. We got into the Hostel, where it reeked of piss, cigarettes, and dried spilled beer. Figures moved in the shadows and responded to our greetings with blank stares or just stoned ramblings in a different language. We had two beds booked, but found that they were in separate rooms. We found the "less filthy" of the two beds and threw our stuff down. A nightstand covered in ashtrays and empty beer bottles. A towel that had been on the bathroom floor for weeks.

We left the hostel and hit up a little coffee shop down the road that had a really bad band covering Neil Young and Tom Petty. Surfers everywhere. The North Shore of Oahu is surfer Mecca. Everyone there either is a surfer or looks like one. Still weirded out, we went back to the hostel, drank some beers on the couch and watched Happy Gilmore with two slightly confrontational (again, was probably just the Waits) guys from Jersey.

After a few hours of terrible sleep, we checked out of the Hostel as early as possible, stole all the beer we could carry, and jumped into our Chevy Micro Machine to check out a crazy waterfall we had read about down the road. The waterfall was pretty great, with 60 degree water that instantly clamps your muscles with cold and fatigue and shock. We still swam it, but I'm out of shape so it was unbelievably difficult but still invigorating.

We found new lodging 10 miles down the road on a secluded beach in a little grass shack. 40 bucks a night (60 at the Hostel) with our own shack and our own private beach. Amazing. We made fires at night, roasted s'mores and did some pretty nice long exposure stuff on the beach.

Subtle Lightpainting

The Shack

One of the cabins burnt down while we were there.

The remainder of our time was easy. We would lay on the beach all day, run into the water only to get our asses handed to us by the pro-surfer-caliber waves, lay on the beach some more, shower in the beach showers like vagrants, throw on some clean clothes, deodorant, and drive into a cool little town 5 miles away to get dinner.

As we packed on our last morning and headed to the airport I thought about how our life that week wasn't riddled with significance and introspective discoveries. Such things were present, but not as they were on the farm. This was a good thing. It was like the old trick my cousin and I would pull when we rented movies as kids: Watch the horror movie first, then the comedy. You get yourself freaked out, then you laugh your ass off and relax. That's what we did with our trip...OK the farm wasn't in the slightest bit horrific, but it was as necessary as the second half of our trip and wouldn't seem nearly as great without it, and vice versa.

So that's it. I'm sure there is a TON I'm leaving out but to be honest, I don't feel like writing anymore. After an experience like this, I'd rather just enjoy the positive effects it has had on my life as opposed to yammering about them all day long in a blog post. I learned a lot, and I had a blast. If you've made it this far, thanks for listening.

The only nugget of truth that I want to impart is just for travelers in general. Keep an open mind. Easy to say, but hard to do. OK, done lesson-ing. Have a good'n.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I'm back from Hawaii: Part One

I need to get this all down before I'm dragged back into the day-to-day. I just spent 17 days in Hawaii with my girlfriend. The first 8 days, we stayed on an Organic Farm on the Big Island, in Hilo. The other 9 days we spent bumming around the islands, keeping our eyes open and soaking up the madness of a place like Hawaii, more beautiful than you'd think, slightly less warm than expected, and oddly more brutal than imagined.

Lets try this in two parts. Part 1: The Farm. Part 2: The Adventure. First, my farm experience counts as one of the strangest and most enlightening to date. I will attempt to give you the same experience we had, as it happened.

After a bus from New York to Philly, we spent the night stuffing ourselves with cheesesteaks and hotel ease before jumping on an early flight to LA. There, on our short layover, we argued briefly, and in public about the benefits of a nine-to-five job. After some slightly bruised egos healed (quickly, as couples tend to do). We sat reading and charging our batteries for the flight into Hawaii.

Grueling flight, terrible things on the in flight TV (complete with advertising), we met a reggae/jazz guitarist who was on his way to Hawaii for a mini-tour. He had played with greats like LeRoy "Horsemouth" Wallace and John Medeski. Nice guy.

We landed, completely fried in Honolulu, where the air was sweeter, richer. Not as warm as I thought it would be, but still warm enough to knock some of the filthy cold from my bones. We did the New York walk off the plane, speeding up, passing, edging people out narrowly, muttering angry nothings under our breath... until we realized. The New York Walk was not necessary. The Hawaii walk was performed at a slower tempo, preferably in flip-flops (or "slippers" as they call them). Folks in Hawaii don't use their horns, they stop to talk to people on the street. They don't treat everyone as a beggar or a swindler. Unless you are white...

White people, or Haoles need to be a bit careful when visiting the islands. If you stick to your resort no one will hassle you, but there are still quite a few in the state who have a chip on their shoulder about being colonized. In Waikiki, a bum called me a "White Motherfucker" when I didn't buy him a sandwich at the ABC (Hawaii's version of a Bodega). I guess I can't really call it. They probably had a good thing going before white boots landed on their shores. But that wasn't me, and the bum was just drunk and sunstroked.

We then took a quick bus to Waikiki. Waikiki is a total tourist trap...South Florida mixed with the Mall of America mixed with and Indian Reservation with distressed looking natives lurking at the edges. We stayed in a hostel near the beach, but we were too jet lagged to enjoy it. We fell asleep at 9 o clock while a party of travelers and backpackers from Jersey raged around us.

Morning, airport. Got on a 45 minute flight to Hilo, on the Big Island where we were to meet our contact to take us to the farm. After a day in Hilo soaking up the clean air and relative warmth while our contact ran errands, we were picked up and and shuttled into the town of Puna, to The Farm.

The driveway to the farm:

After we got settled into our room, which was four million times nicer than we expected, we showered and headed out to "a party" at another, larger farm that our farm often worked with.

On the ride over in a packed van, I met a few of our housemates and spent most of the time talking to "the boys", two 19 year olds from Boston, straight out of High School. There was Ben, who sort of looked like Michael Cera, with a sly look in his eyes like he was always about to hatch some crazy scheme. There was Sam, who was slightly more wizened than Ben, but just as youthful. Both of them were intensely more mature than most of the 19 year olds I've met. They both had elected to take their time after high school, traveling and seeing the world before they even considered college. I commended them for it. They threw around words that I liked to throw around at 19, like "corporation". "Man, I just don't want to end up working for some corporation when I get older." I hope they stick to that. I hope they all do. I miss the days of dismissing entire institutions outright, the kind of ignorance that benefits a person.

We got to the "party", and this is exactly what we walked in to.

Sorry its dark, but I hope you get the idea. What they are chanting is the "maha mantra". There is a man with a guitar and a band who says the mantra once:

Hare Krishna
Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna
Hare Hare
Hare Rama
Hare Rama
Rama Rama
Hare Hare

And then everyone, in unison chants it back. Nearly everyone dances.

Now, I want to make sure I don't come off here as judgemental. When it comes to religion, I would call myself more of an apathetic atheist, terminally bored/repulsed by religious ceremonies. Not for the spirituality they reflect, but for the shitty people they employ. People who damn others, tell others what to do, and force their square pegs into hardened round holes because they are tasked to do so by their God. I enjoy the concept of spirituality, and I will say here that for the first time, I was moved by such religious displays (they happened like that every morning, evening and night the entire time we were on the farm), more so than I ever have before. Strictly for the fact that the people involved were extremely. cool. people. People who had no interest in turning you into a believer, they were just happy you were checking it out, and if you were a nice person too, it wasn't as hard as you'd think to feel comfortable in the presence of such ecstatic religious displays.

I will relate their religion as it was taught to me by them. I never received a pamphlet (let alone one in the airport) from any of these people. I learned all of this by asking questions, which they easily answered. I'm not a "convert", nor am I going to evangelize, so turn off your lecture hall atheism (as I did), for a moment while I try and explain their thinking.

These people believe in "Krishna Consciousness". Krishna, for them, is 2 things:
1) A person who lived on earth for roughly 150 years. "Krishna" in Sanskrit, means "all-attractive". As a human being, he was said to possess all the attributes that are attractive for a human to possess. He was Thoreau mixed with Superman mixed with Jagger mixed with Gandhi.
2) He was all of these things because Krishna was also the living personification of God, the ruler and creator of all things in the universe. This God is eternal, and sets all the actions of the earth in motion simply by being, not by action. For these folks, God just is, and we are here because of it. Krishna = God.

He's the blue guy.

The Maha Mantra is their standard. The words in the mantra are the (Sanskrit) names of God in his different forms. They believe there are two ways to say this Mantra. One is in the form of Kirtan, which is the video above. You say the mantra out loud, usually with others, so everything around you can hear it. The video above came at about the one hour mark of their Kirtan. They would sing the mantra for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. For them, its like a great song that everyone knows the words to. Its like sitting down to hear/sing the chorus of "Unforgiven" over and over again for 2 hours. The repetition of something can either become grating and terrifying, or it can take on a transcendent, separate life of its own, as Van Morrison/Ian Curtis/Steve Reich will tell you.

For Michelle, the former was true. Her strict Christian upbringing turned on her. After a rocky and painful departure from the church, she has since abandoned specific faith for a more general, spiritual ideal, but the rigid form of the sound and the activity actually gave her a physical response, making her sick to her stomach. Not because she wasn't open minded, or because she was judging these people, but because of deeper sensibilities chained to painful memories that pricked up their ears at the sound of the chant and bolted for the door.

For me, being only apathetically linked to the Christian faith, I suppose I just kept my eyes open and took mental notes. I found the group chant to be transcendental in the watching of it, but I'm getting ahead of myself. On that first night, jet lagged, and culture shocked, there couldn't have been anything weirder on deck. Not in my wildest dreams.

Michelle and I made bug eyes at each other and attempted to sing along, stunned.

Their faith, continued. Through the kirtan and its quieter counterpart, japa (chanting to oneself, with the help of beads) these people believe they are communing with God or at least keeping him in their consciousness by saying his name. The repetition takes them to a place where they can at least for a moment, shed their earthly/physical concerns ("This is weird I'm dancing and singing like a fool in front of other people...what if people think I look stupid or I don't say the words right?") and the words themselves give them some time with the big guy himself where the concern shifts from the "gross physical" to that of their true "self", a being that only flows through the physical world and has an inseparable connection to God. The "Soul" or whatever you want to call it. Giving name to this connection, and thanking God for it is tonic to these people. Thus transcendin' and communicatin' is their chief ritual and they do it. Constantly.

When not attending a Kirtan, you could find them, beads in hand, muttering the mantra to themselves (Japa meditation). This was a jarring experience the first time I heard/saw someone doing it. I thought it was a reverent experience, I thought that certainly interrupting someone in a moment like that would result in flaming skyward arrows or at least some whitebread-style bible thumpin' condemnation for interrupting such a ritual. But I was wrong, the only reason anyone chants like that is because they have nothing better to do. Instead of sitting and letting their minds wander like lost couriers, they focus on the names of God, by way of the mantra, in lieu of any negative thoughts. So if interrupted it was no big deal. The people we stayed with on the farm could drop their beads at the drop of a hat and jump normally into any conversation, complete with the modern language of movie and pop culture references, before dropping right back into their chant.

That was the thing. These people were 100 percent normal, and extremely nice. They understood the oddity of their chosen path, and had no problem addressing it. It made me and Michelle feel ultimately comfortable, no matter the reservations we had.

When they weren't chanting the mantra, it was playing on a stereo. Everywhere. In the main house, it was on repeat in the living room. In the greenhouse it was on repeat, hanging from a wire under the Parrot's cage (who would hilariously scream "TOM! SHUT UP!" without warning). In the car, the CD booklet was chockabock full of Mantra recordings. The only "non-mantra" disc was a George Harrison one, because you can hear the mantra in the background of "My Sweet Lord". 2:56 mark:

Even their ipods, full of nothing but chanting. Nothing else. It was really amazing, for them, the chant had replaced even music. Was it because of music's ability to make you feel all kinds of terrible/beautiful things? For its ability to dredge up some terrible memory that distracts you from your true self? I asked George, a 32 year old Brit who was staying on the farm with his wonderful Mum, Elise about this phenomenon. And he said something along the lines of "Yup, its everywhere, even when you don't realize it, you're getting a bit of a soul shower". A constant soul shower is hard to argue with because even if I did want to argue, no one would argue back. And with that English accent, I'd probably lose anyway. No one ever told me that having Black Sabbath on my ipod was "Darksided" or that Parliament was "The Devil Music", they just preferred to listen to the Mantra. If you didn't, no big deal.

I actually had great conversations about music with people on the farm. The odd thing was that these conversations had a cut-off date. I was talking with one of the girls from our "sister" farm about Keller Williams, Disco Biscuits, jam band shit, and she knew a lot but her knowledge ended at a specific date. After that date, she had no frame of reference. That date was the date she ended up on the farm. After that date, her musical diet was Krishna's musical diet. For her, Keller Williams was still just a great guitar player who dabbled in looping, Disco Biscuits were still playing shows in dirty clubs, not planning weekend long festivals. As she put it, she ended up on the farm because "Man, I just couldn't eat any more mushrooms and go to any more shows."

Another theme: escape. Many of the people there were seeking asylum from what George called the "Age of Chaos Quarrel and Confusion" that had gotten the better of them. A girl there suffered through a joint heroin addiction with her ex boyfriend who was somehow able to get shitloads of Peyote (!). Her journey took her to Hawaii for a "Rainbow Gathering" (hippie rave), which set her on a path that ended with the farm and cleaning up her act. Another guy on the farm fled home after his father beat his mother, got married on a whim, and ended up divorced and on the farm 2 weeks before I got there.

Maha (given name: Celine), the founder of the farm created it as just such a refuge. No stranger to hard times, she and her husband Raganuga (given name: Ralph) wanted to open their home to anyone who wanted to come and help out, and learn about Krishna consciousness. These two really believed in their faith, and they just hung out and let the people come to them. For them, it was just a "truth". Not a "cause" or a "movement". They were just an ex hippie and an ex Louisiana redneck who ran a farm and a successful business (he did contracting, and they both ran rental properties) who could afford to take people in. Those who came lived for free, and weren't charged a dime for their stay. Unlike the "Hare Krishnas" (WAAAYYY different, probably shouldn't be mentioned here) who insist on renouncing possessions, stupid haircuts, money, etc. Those who came, all they had to do was pot some palms, haul some gravel, or chop down a banana stalk or two. And those who came, I can safely say, they got a lot out of the experience.

So we lived their life. Every morning around 630, a short drive to a naturally heated freshwater pond for a swim. Then, amazing smoothies at the house, a chant, and a stimulating conversation about things like: vegetarianism, parables involving Krishna's earthly exploits. Breakfast (my favorite: Cream of wheat with shitloads of toppings), chores, and then work. One day I transplanted palms, one day, I showed them how to burn DVDs on their new computer. One day, I re did a gravel walkway. One day, I harvested bananas and weeded the property line. Lunch: sammiches, crazy salads, whatever was lying around. More work, then a shower, a quick chant, dinner (HUGE dinners...with food that you harvested yourself) at the "sister" farm, then a big long chant and a talk from Goruda (spelling), the guy who ran the "sister" farm. Looked like my old Social Studies teacher, talked about George Bush pooping in one of his talks.

One of the "Hot Ponds"

Then home, bed by 8:45 or 9:00. No drinking, no drugs, no meat, no cell phones, no laptop, no blackberry. Sex was weird because there were pictures of Krishna everywhere, and nothing about our experience was sexually arousing. Spiritually arousing, yes, but sexually, no. This was troubling to us only because living in New York you are inundated with sexual imagery constantly, and being a couple, sex was a way to validate our feelings for each other.

So we were thusly disarmed from most of our crutches. Wavering with nothing but our simple cores to hold us up. This was not my observation, this was Michelle's. She noted in one of our long nightly discussions that the lifestyle we were taking part in had us at our simple cores, and we both agreed that that was a good thing. Its easy to puff yourself up, hide your soft spots with smoke, mirrors, and various degrees of fakery, or "Jiggery Pokery" (love that term) as Ant calls it. But the question we were forced to ask, was, "Who are you really, under all that madness?". And it was a good question to ask.

My answer may or may not have involved Krishna. The religious aspects of our time on the farm for me actually, were less profound than the day-to-day effects of the routine. The healthy lifestyle, the physical activity, the time outdoors, the amount of rest and exercise. The spiritual aspects were more of an intense curiosity for me. I enjoyed observing them and I felt lucky to be allowed to participate, and no one called me a heretic for not knowing the words. But the teachings of Krishna consciousness didn't become embedded in me as some of the other things I learned. Or perhaps they did, but on a more subliminal level, somewhere in my subconscious, where it coupled with the more overt aspects of our life there to create some of the most positive and contented days of my life in years.

Whew, I think that covers it. All of this needed mention because it was inextricably connected to everything we did on the farm. I don't mean "everything" as a euphemism, I mean it as a truth. The concept of Krishna consciousness was subtly involved in every aspect of farm life.

There's a lot of little details I'm leaving their ridiculously amazing on-site yoga instructor/massage therapist/reflexologist/all around cool girl, Cheryl who taught me ways to handle my excruciating headaches. Or the tree right outside the house that was consistently laden with fresh Clementines. Pick, eat, take a deep breath. Or the centipedes whose bite could vary from a harsh bee sting to a gunshot wound.

At the end of our relatively short stay there (a typical stay is anything from 3 weeks to 3 years) Maha met with me and genuinely thanked me (and Michelle by proxy) for coming and knowing them. It was nice and humbling to just be recognized as a nice person, someone that another person was happy to know. We don't tell each other that enough.

On our last day, we were each given a package with some reflexology charts, some Japa beads, some pictures of Krishna (they asked which one we wanted, and I REALLY wanted THIS PICTURE of Krishna jacking up a demon, but they didn't have it around. Most brutal thing ever.), some chocolate covered macadamia nuts, some music, some high fives and big hugs before jumping in the van with The Boys and heading to pick up our rental car at the airport and head for the beach.

That ended part one. The rest of our journey to come.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009