Monday, November 1, 2010

Quite Possibly the Greatest Thing Ever... a funny thing to say. But its meaningful, because it taps into the eternal now of awesomeness. When we say "That was quite possibly the greatest thing ever," we express the ecstatic moment of realization and connection, brought on by exposure to stimulus. Whatever the stimulus may be, it thrills the observer to such a point that perhaps a sort of ego death occurs, allowing one to experience the three dimensional world from the perspective of the always-in-ecstatic-joy-higher-self. Along with this euphoria arises a connection to the eternal now from which the ecstatic self perceives time. Thus "greatest ever," with the "ever" representing the triumphant moment, the singleness of now that constantly supports the ever-arriving ecstatic self.

With that said, this might be Quite Possibly the Greatest Thing Ever:

See what I mean?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frank Speaks

My buddy John Reitan hipped me to Wolfgang's Vault, an archive of concerts and interviews recorded by the people involved with famed music promoter Bill Graham. This website has an insane archive of concerts you can stream for free. Well worth a gander.

Just as cool is its collection of interviews with famous musicians and entertainers. Yesterday I listened to interviews with Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland (see a pattern here?), Woody Allen and David Lee Roth. All excellent moments in time: Woody Allen talking about his career just before the release of "Annie Hall." Stewart, Sting and Andy all separately talking about the Police around the time of the release of Synchronicity. David Lee Roth talking about himself and Van Halen before and after the release of 1984. These are intimate interviews, too. You can tell the interviewer is at least familiar with each performer.

But the coolest one I checked out was Frank Zappa. A hero of mine since around his death (and that was 17 years ago, folks), I've long admired Frank's orchestrations, sense of humor, and his intense opinions about the industry, the government, and society in general. Dude had strong opinions and a keen, foreboding warning for all us fools being played by authority. Man, I love listening to Frank talk.

This interview happens around the release of the concert album "Bongo Fury," which was a tour with Captain Beefheart and features such Zappa classics as "Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy" and "Muffin Man." So this is a prime time for Zappa as a rock composer. Please to enjoy the goodness, it is a pleasure to hear him talk....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Christine innovates education with the Waller Scholars

My sister, Dr. Christine Ristaino, is an Italian professor at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Recently she and her children were attacked in a parking lot; Christine was mugged and her nose was broken. The man who mugged her was black.

There are many reasons I mention his skin color:

Having been mugged at gunpoint by two gentlemen of color in my neighborhood nearly a year ago, as well as having several friends (and another brother, Mark, who stands between myself and Christine in the picture to the left) become the victims of violence in lower income black neighborhoods, I am left with a tremendously unsolvable series of questions. How do we take responsibility for these kind of crimes when its obvious the reason they are happening is due to hundreds of years of racial injustice, economic slavery, and societal neglect? How does or can an ignorant "white" person solve these injustices? Does an outsider to an African American community even have the right to try to change this? More importantly, how does one go about ceasing to see these crimes as racial in nature, and instead begin to view them as committed by people in need reaching out in desperation for some kind of balance or justice, or even merely as revenge for being brought up in situations where they are shunned and seen as less than human? How can someone raised with no self worth see the worth in others, and therefore be willing and able to not commit these kinds of crimes? Or is it because of a sense of self worth that these kinds of crimes are committed, meaning that people who are marginalized due to race and economic position say, "This area is mine, you can not take any more from me."

Having lived and worked in places where I was a minority, as well as having lived my life as an Artist (with a capital A for all the arts), I am no stranger to being poor and marginalized. Hell, the arts are a much shunned area of our society, seen as luxury yet underfunded. Many people see an Artist's "work" as "play" or a "hobby." I defy anyone to talk to a performer, painter, filmmaker, or musician (who must work several other jobs just to stay afloat while they pursue their life's purpose as an Artist, an seemingly insurmountable task with very little promise of reward) and ask them how much "fun" it is to realize their passions. Its a lifetime of hard work and maybes. I have considered time and again if it wouldn't be easier to turn to a life of crime just to make ends meet or to fund a project that can only come about through copious amounts of cash. I understand the rage and frustration of being a broke, unseen, marginalized member of society - no health care, no vacations, no promise of a brighter future, no love.

I think Christine recognizes a lot of these issues, and instead of allowing this experience to make her life smaller, she has instead used this experience to explore understanding race relations and personal hardship in a new upcoming book. Perhaps even more importantly, Christine has initiated a program with her Emory University Italian classes where her students mentor an engaged group of amazing (and predominately African American) kids called the Waller Scholars. She says that together the Waller Scholars and their mentors are innovating the way education happens in Atlanta. So she took a minus and turned it into a great big plus. Nice Christine, you are manifesting on a very high level! The world thanks you for it. And so do I.

Here's a video with Christine narrating (and incorporating her kids Maddy and Benny's illustrations) explaining her experience and the Waller scholars program a little better:

For even more information about Christine's work, please check out her website,

For more info about the Waller scholars, please check out

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Get Down with the Boogie

Welcome to the Zuben El Genubi Boogie, thoughts of cosmic import and other trivialities. This is my 4th official blog (what?). Who needs 4 blogs? Apparently, I do.

I was considering calling this the Post Relevant Movement, as it is part of my quest in life to keep the infamous non-movement alive in one shape or another (anyone who picks up the forthcoming album from my latest project, Agents of Venus , entitled Boduvt (or, a round boat), will see the latest addition to the PR Movement in song format. Surely my finest hour.) But I guess the Movement will have to wait another day, probably eventually earning its own blog, which I plan to write on the day that the universe is sucked into a giant white hole and flushed into another dimension, fresh with possibilities. The Movement can only be begun to be ended, and thus, it never will quite get off the ground. If it does, beware; something major in the ether is afoot.

No, this particular blog, the Zuben El Genubi Boogie, is named after a star in the Libra constellation. Libra was formerly part of the constellation Scorpio, but was renamed by somebody important at some point in time (we'll have to look into it) and Zuben El Genubi became the top right star in Libra. I believe Zuben El Genubi means something to the effect of "the scorpion's claw," which sounds ominous enough, and, after my explanation, even somewhat reasonable. Being a Libra myself (birthday 10 - 15 - 1970, that adds up to a 6, hmmm), I was to eventually learn of this star and its unbelievably cool (in my opinion) name, and thus it has become a pen name and alter ego for me, sort of my rock and roll equivalent of Frank Zappa. He really was born with the best rock name ever. We miss ya, Frank.

Getting to my point (did I have one?) -- this blawg will be dedicated to solving questions burning holes in my psyche pertaining to cosmic mysteries, as well a forum to post bullshit I'm into from any and all sources. Its like my newspaper of observations of the world(s) around me. I have a blog for display of my original arts, a blog for the description of those artworks creation processes, a blog for me new band, the aforementioned Agents of Venus, and now, this mess. I predict the Post Relevant Movement will be on the way and make a round 5 and then its off to the apocalypse which, if you hadn't guessed, is only days away, folks!

So stay tuned, homies. I intend to write a inquiry into the number 13 as one of my first giant forays into the unknown, and then maybe I'll post some funny shit.

But lets start with some funny shit:

Note the number 13 at the top of the pyramid at the end of the sketch. Already the synchronicities begin. A good sign?