Bob Dylan’s Electric Factory Show Sure Did Stink!

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to attend Bob Dylan’s “Electric Factory” concert in Philly on August 8th, 2008. We had feelings of the old “Fillmores” — (East and West): as this is one of those places reminiscent of yesteryear where there are no seats in front of the stage, only standing room. That means if you get there early enough, you’d have a chance for front-row center, no matter who you are and how late you got your tickets. The “Electric Factory” has some unique history; the original "Electric Factory" venue was a converted tire warehouse at 22nd and Arch Streets, which opened in 1968 and closed in 1973. The first performers, on February 2, 1968, were the Chambers Brothers. The building was torn down and replaced with condominiums. The "Electric Factory" was resurrected circa late 1994 or early 1995 and now stands at the current site (located at 421 N. 7th Street between Willow and Spring Garden Streets).
Some of the caveats we faced by armchair critics on the Web were that the sound system is lousy, the staff is rude and to “beware” of the folks flagging you down to park in lots that do not belong to the “Electric Factory” and can be several blocks away. But armed with this helpful knowledge, we were prepared for what we might experience.
Not only did we wind up with a spot right in front of Dylan with only the folks who got to the stage’s rail obstructing our view, and aside from being ‘in the know’ and getting the right parking spot, we didn’t encounter any other problems. The sound was lousy, but not unforgivable — it was hot as a sauna, but look at the Cavern Club where the Beatles first played; who can complain? There was one big problem though — even as Dylan and the band put on a great show, the “Electric Factory” show did stink. Flatulence, back door trumpets, wind, someone ‘cutting the cheese’, gas, farts, stink bombs!! Ladies and gentlemen, there was somebody very near us, and I pray it was a man, who stunk up our spot something awful. To overcome the heat alone, I decided to use my Tai Chi breathing, deep intakes of air to the diaphragm, but every time the offender released one of ‘his’ grenades, it was awful. It stunk of the drunken bum variety — if you know what I mean — pure rot folks. What a stink!
But what about the show? Did Dylan stink? Heck no! He was sublime! Watching him turn his classic songs around into update versions was a learning experience only few can appreciate. Having the liberty to be so close to him was a one-in-a-lifetime experience to be treasured.

The set list for the evening included:
Cat's In The Well (Under The Red Sky)
Lay Lady Lay (Nashville Skyline)
The Levee's Gonna Break (Modern Times)
Moonlight (Love and Theft)
Tangled Up In Blue (Blood On The Tracks)
Things Have Changed (Wonder Boys: Music From The Motion Picture)
Spirit On The Water (Modern Times)
Honest With Me (Love and Theft)
Beyond The Horizon (Modern Times)
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (Bringing It All Back Home)
Trying To Get To Heaven (Time Out Of Mind)
Highway 61 Revisited (Highway 61 Revisited)
Nettie Moore (Modern Times)
Summer Days (Love and Theft)
Ballad Of A Thin Man (Highway 61 Revisited)

The encore included two songs that would have made appropriate, if not better, titles for this very article: Thunder On The Mountain (Modern Times) and Blowin' In The Wind (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan).

Interesting asides include that the band used Buddy Guy’s soulful rendering of Lay Lady Lay behind Dylan’s updated vocals. Dylan used the phrase, “You can eat your cake and have it too” in place of “You can have your cake and eat it too” in the aforementioned song. He also grinned to himself many times as he altered song lyrics and allowed us to experience what he is known for. Plus we caught him doing a few deep knee bends and stretches in between tunes, perhaps a form of Dylan Tai Chi for the wishful thinking of an East Meets West style blogger. I wish I knew where he got his hats from, I'd love to get one like it!
Mr. Dylan, we wish you well and thank you for a great show! In more ways than one, it was truly a gas.
Philly Show Photo Courtesy of Zack Shapiro and

Dark Knight: A Slight Blur

I went to see Dark Knight and wouldn't you know it, I forgot my glasses. Don't you hate when that happens?

Thank You Very Much!

One of my very special readers gifted me John & Yoko's album, Sometime In New York City!! Here's a photo of it on my iTunes. Now if you've been reading this blog, you'll know why. If not, read on!!!

Ringo Starr & Levon Helm!

Two of the greatest drummers in Rock and Roll History and also two of the nicest guys in the entertainment world! From, a behind-the-scenes look at Ringo & Levon in NYC!!!
Peace & Love!

Let It Be Released!
(An Open Letter To Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr)

Dear Paul & Ringo,

How could you? You've gone too far! How could you deprive us, your loyal fans - many of who have been waiting years with baited breath - for the release of your masterpiece film Let It Be?
Sure there is bickering in the film, but that's what makes it great. It shows us fans that the Beatles were people too! Just like the Anthology series showed us the Beatles making mistakes, goofing up lyrics and so on, Let It Be tells us that nobody is perfect and even the Beatles had arguments. It's a healthy thing for us to see. Would you want us to think that the Beatles were flawless and that we can never be like them? What happened to your spirituality? I don't believe that John and George would ever make this decision.
Aside from the few times that there was arguing in the film, for example Paul: George telling you that he'll play whatever it is you want him to play, or he won't play at all - “Whatever it is that would please you” - there are also glorious moments in the film. These are life-lessons that we can all benefit by. Or again, when George brought in the late, great Billy Preston to help raise everyone's spirits by bringing a non-Beatle in to perform with. Finally, the concert on the rooftop; it's a masterpiece — the last time we get to enjoy the Beatles playing together live! How can you not release it?
The thought of holding back the release of Let It Be is almost as sad as the thought of another death in the Beatle family. We've already lost Brian, Mal, John, Linda, Maureen, George, Neil and many others. Please, do not make us lose a cherished film like Let It Be.

Sincerely Yours,

Master Zhihui
July, 31, 2008

PS: We still love you!

Giving the Gift of Dylan...

Happy Birthday!

The Beatles: The Mothers

"So Sergeant Pepper took you by surprise.."

Quote of the Day: Yoko Ono

John & Yoko with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Live at the Fillmore East, 1971

The video quality is bad, but the music is great! Here is the unedited versions of "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)", "JamRag", "S---bag" and "Au".
Check it out and then read our interview with Howard "Eddie" Kaylan where he reminisces about that night and how he put Yoko in the bag.
Kaylan opines, "And what he did with it was he took the white, penciled Cal Schenkel text from the Fillmore album and Yoko just annotated it to her liking in red magic marker. So when it came to my description for instance, she scratched out the word ‘lead’ and just left vocals. When it came time to list instrumental songs that John really didn’t know, John made up titles. He had the unmitigated gall to call one of Frank’s classic songs — “King Kong” I believe, one of his all-time biggest instrumentals — Lennon didn’t know what it was, called it “Jamrag” then said that he wrote it!"
But what he doesn't take into consideration is that perhaps it was just a joke that nobody got -- years earlier Zappa parodied the "Sergeant Pepper" album with "We're Only In It For The Money". So John and Yoko did the same with the "Live At The Fillmore" album... get it?
This was done plenty of times before between the Beatles themselves. They would often reference, parody and sometimes play homage to each other in their albums. Lennon poked fun of McCartney's album cover Ram, when he took the same pose, this time holding a pig. I'm sure no offense was meant in the Lennon/Ono release of the live Zappa concert. But to hear and see it as it was, without any outside influences clouding one's memory, simply click above while it lasts!

Jade Wah, Sweet and Sour Pork, and The Wisdom Of The Chinese Kitchen Part II

There used to be a very nice Chinese restaurant in the Georgetown neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. It’s the very same restaurant that we’ve alluded to in a previous post with its five foot tall Laughing Buddha. It wasn’t as authentic as some of its NYC Chinatown contemporaries, but one of our favorite dishes back then was their Sweet and Sour Pork -- or as they called it -- Sweet and Pungent Pork, a more bona fide dish than the variety you’ll find at the typical Chinese take-out.
We’ve already mentioned Grace Young’s fantastic cookbook, The Wisdom Of The Chinese Kitchen -- which will be featured in the upcoming East Meets West magazine -- and her family recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork brings us back to the good old days of Jade Wah restaurant. Like Jade Wah used to do, I’ve added sliced maraschino cherries to my interpretation of the dish, but other than that, the recipe is purely from Ms Young’s family.
We strongly recommend this cookbook. Not only are the stories and the information wonderful finds, but also the recipes we’ve tried have kept us in chef-mode night after night.

#9 Dream

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

Jeff Lynne And Anoushka Shankar For George Harrison

Tao Teh Ching Chapter 47 (For Rui Martinho)

Get Your Stinking Chi Off Of Me -- You Damn, Dirty Ape!

Can chimps practice Tai Chi? Well I suppose if the year is 2105 and your name is Cornelius and you have a wife named Zira, well then, any thing is possible! (We found this photo on Ephemerist.)


His eyes come open. Over this we hear:

You don't sound happy in your work.

I'm nothing more than a vet in this laboratory...

Taylor feebly turns his head and looks at Nova. She returns his gaze with an unchanged empty stare. We sense that Taylor realizes her blood is flowing into his veins. Over this we hear:

You promised to speak to Dr. Zaius about me.

I did. But you know how he looks down his nose at chimpanzees.

Is China On Coke?

BEIJING — China's capital is decked in red: Red billboards hang at bus stops; a red kiosk sits on a popular shopping street; at the Olympic Green, the nexus of next month's Olympics, a sprawling red building is under construction.
The promotions — including a museum two-thirds as large as the World of Coca-Cola, Coke's namesake museum in downtown Atlanta — are part of a record Olympic marketing blitz by the beverage giant to capitalize on its global sponsorships of the Beijing Games and the Olympic torch relay.
Estimated at between $75 million and $90 million, the sponsorships underscore Coke's heavy bet on China. It already is Coke's fourth-largest market, with consumer spending on soft drinks more than doubling since 2001. Executives expect China eventually will surpass the United States as the company's top market.
For Atlanta-based Coke, the Beijing Olympics presents an opportunity to build its brand among China's
1.3 billion people, while attaching its name to an event that gets worldwide attention and often transcends the field of play.
"The Olympics goes beyond sport," said Kevin Tressler, Coca-Cola's director of worldwide sports and entertainment marketing. "There's a warm feeling that comes to people when they think about the Olympics. The Olympics is a very powerful brand."
Being associated with the Games should boost Coke's image — and sales — in China. During the three-month period surrounding the Olympics, Coke typically sees a bump in sales while longer-term research shows that brand loyalty rises, Tressler said.
Coke executives have not said how much they have spent toward their sponsorships or Games-related advertising. But IEG, a Chicago firm that analyzes corporate sponsorships, estimated that Coke paid
$70 million to $75 million to be a four-year Olympic partner and $5 million to $15 million to be one of three sponsors of the torch run.
In addition to those sponsorship fees, Coke typically spends three to four times more on Olympic advertising, promotions and tickets for guests, IEG estimates.
Coke is exploiting its investment through a massive Olympic marketing campaign. Hours after China was selected in 2001 to host the Summer Games, Coke began distributing 1 million limited-edition congratulatory cans.
Last August, Coke kicked off a campaign called "Year of the Shuang," a Chinese word the company translates as a "physical and emotional state of refreshment." Coke bought extensive outdoor advertising and hosted a gathering with Chinese sports stars including Yao Ming, the Chinese center on the Houston Rockets basketball team.
When the Olympic torch arrived in China in March, Coke staged a celebration with singers and athletes and released a TV ad that showed people across China rolling out a red carpet for torchbearers. As the torch has moved through more than 100 Chinese cities, Coke followed with a truck providing free beverage samples.
To reach Internet users, the company designed software that allows people to pass "virtual Olympic torches" through instant messaging. At least 58 million people have so far received the virtual torches, said Andres Kiger, Coke's senior director of integrated marketing in China.
In its "Year of the Shuang" campaign, Coke has "methodically looked for moments ... when the country has something to celebrate or there's a big emotional excitement," Kiger said.
As the Games approach, Coke's Olympic operations in China will grow from 20 people to a staff of more than 2,000.
Besides blanket outdoor advertising, Coke will run three centers. The 40,000-square-foot Shuang Experience Center on the Olympic Green will include a gallery about Coke's history, a theater showing a film about Coke's sponsorship of the Olympic torch relay, a section on Coke's charitable activities and a "perfect serve" bar where visitors will receive "perfectly chilled bottles of Coke," said Glenn Wade, a lighting engineer working at the site.
Two smaller "Olympic zones" in downtown Beijing will let residents learn about Coke's history, trade Olympic pins and sample Coke products.
During the Games, Coke expects to distribute about 26 million beverages sold through concession stands or provided free to Olympic athletes and officials. It will host 10,000 VIP guests, about 8,000 to 9,000 from China. Coke also expects about 250,000 people to pass through the Shuang Experience Center during the Olympics and following Paralympic Games.
Coke's operations for the Beijing Games are not dramatically different than previous Games, but the scope is broader than ever because of the size of the Chinese market and the significance of these Games to that nation, said Peter Franklin, Coca-Cola group director of worldwide sports and event management.
For the 1996 Summer Games, for example, interest was highest in Atlanta and then the Southeast and dissipated as you moved across the rest of the United States, Franklin said. Interest in China remains high across the entire nation, he said.
"The people of China have been extremely excited about the Olympics, and not just in Beijing, but even in the furthest west part of China," Franklin said. "From a marketing perspective, what drives the scope of what we're doing is not only the population, but a population of people who are very interested in the Olympic Games."
A survey by the Beijing offices of R3 and CSM Media Research found that more than 93 percent of Chinese had a strong interest in the Olympics and almost half of respondents connected Coke to the Games without being prompted, the highest association of any sponsor. The report was based on interviews with about 1,500 people in 10 Chinese cities.
But some experts wonder whether Coke and other sponsors are getting good value for their investments, particularly given high-profile controversies over this year's Games. The Olympic torch relay in Europe and San Francisco, its only U.S. stop, was marred by protests over China's policies and practices in issues such as Tibet and the Darfur region of Sudan. Dream for Darfur, a New York-based group that includes actress Mia Farrow, helped organize a small protest in front of Coke's Atlanta headquarters last month. Activists are likely to stage more demonstrations during the Olympics next month, potentially damaging sponsors' brand images.
"I think [Coke] underestimated the potential damage that could come from getting too close to the Chinese regime," said Matthew Crabbe, director of Access Asia, a Shanghai-based market research firm.
"If protests kick off in Beijing during the Olympics and people link Coke to a crackdown by the Chinese government, that would not help them," he said.
Other researchers have questioned whether an Olympic sponsorship is an effective consumer message. A survey early this year by Shanghai-based consulting firm China Market Research Group found that more urban Chinese thought Pepsi — not Coke — was an official Olympic sponsor, even though Pepsi is not sponsoring the event.
"The whole point of spending so much money for the Beijing Olympics was to really target Chinese consumers," said Shaun Rein, managing director of the firm. "The marketing people at Coke are going to have to take a really long look at the results," he said.
Coke officials said they remained committed to the Games. "We continue to believe in the Olympic ideals," said Tressler, Coke's director of worldwide sports and entertainment marketing. "We have been partners since 1928."

A Short Look At The Great Wall

From Shanhaiguan, northeast of Qinhuangdao City in Hebei Province on the east coast, the Great Wall rises and falls with the contours of the mountains westwards, crossing nine provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions over 6,700 kilometers, to end at Jiayuguan, southwest of Jiayuguan City in Gansu Province.

Building of the wall began during the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) and the Warring States period (475-221 BC) of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Ducal states at that time built walls to defend their individual territories. After the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty crushed all rival states, he founded the first centralized and unified dynasty in Chinese history. To consolidate the country and ward off invasion by ethnic minority tribes in the north he had the walls linked and extended, giving rise to the 5,000-kilometer-long Qin Great Wall. Later dynasties from Han (206 BC – AD 220) to Ming (1368-1644) continued to build and improve the wall, extending it by more than 1,000 kilometers to its present magnitude.

The Great Wall comprises walls, passes, watchtowers, castles and fortresses. The walls are made of large stone blocks. From east to west, the sections at Shanhaiguan, Jinshanling, Mutianyu, Badaling and Jiayuguan have become popular tourist attractions.

Most of The Great Wall that we see today dates back to the Ming Dynasty. The best-preserved and most imposing section is at Badaling near Beijing city. This section, located at the head of the Juyongguan Pass, is made of large blue bricks and has an average height of 7.8 meters. Five to six horses can be ridden abreast along it. At regular intervals there is an arched door giving access to the top of the wall. The walls feature regular lookout holes, window embrasures and castellated crenels. Beacon towers for passing on military information also appear at fixed intervals. All of these emphasize the important role of the Great Wall in military defense.

As one of the most magnificent ancient defense works, the Great Wall was put on the world cultural heritage list in 1987.

Quote of the Day: A Double Dose

With the realization of one's own potential and self confidence in one's own ability, one can build a better world.
--Dalai Lama

A true friendship develops on the basis of genuine human affection, not money or power. Of course, due to your power or wealth, more people may approach you with big smiles or gifts. But deep down these are not real friends of yours; these are friends of your wealth or power.
--Dalai Lama

Laugh, Buddha, Laugh

A friend recently asked me about Buddha. He wondered about a statue he once knew in a Chinese restaurant that featured a huge, jade, laughing Buddha – arms in the air and a big belly to rub for good luck. He wondered why there are so many different interpretations or statues of Buddha and how come he’s never come across the benevolent one he so remembered as a child.
The “Laughing Buddha” is called Budai in China and Hotei in Japan. Budai is almost always represented as carrying a cloth or linen sack, which never empties, and is filled with many precious items, including rice plants (indicating wealth), sweets for children, food, small mammals, and the woes of the world. His duty is patron of the weak, the poor and children.
In Chinese Buddhist temples of the Chán sect, Budai's statue is traditionally placed in the front part of the entrance hall. He is depicted in the familiar likeness of the above-described Laughing Buddha; a stout, smiling or laughing shaved man in robes with a largely exposed potbelly stomach symbolic for happiness, good luck, and plenitude.
Some sculptures have small children at his feet. Another item that is usually seen with the Budai figure, is a begging bowl; to represent his Buddhist nature. All of these images display Budai as a wandering monk who goes around and takes the sadness from people of this world. Because he represents prosperity and happiness, statuettes are often found in homes and businesses in China and Japan.
“Start becoming a little more alert and watch things, and you will be surprised. Life is mysterious, unexplainable - life is absurd. You cannot prove anything for or against. If you become a little alert you will find love, light, laughter, everywhere!”
In Japan, it is said that when Hotei attained enlightenment he started laughing. He lived at least thirty years afterwards; he continued laughing for thirty years. Even in sleep his disciples would hear him giggling. His whole message to the world was laughter; he would go from one town to another just laughing. He would stand in one marketplace, then in another, just laughing, and people would gather.
His laughter was so contagious that whoever heard it would start laughing. Soon the whole marketplace would be laughing; crowds would gather and laugh and they would ask him, "Just give us a few instructions.” He would say, "Nothing more, this is enough. If you can laugh, if you can laugh totally, it is meditation.” Laughter was his device. It is said many people became enlightened through Hotei's laughter. That was his only meditation: to laugh and help people laugh. Just watch life, and you will be surprised!

The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen

I haven’t been this excited about a cookbook in years. Up until recently, if you wanted a great Chinese cookbook, you’d either have to read Chinese or settle for one of those “Joys of…” books that alter and Americanize the recipes.
When I saw Grace Young’s book, The Wisdom Of The Chinese Kitchen, I just could not resist. First of all there is the lovely cover of three generations of beautiful women. Then there are the stories of the author’s family… and finally, the authentic recipes.
I’ll be reviewing this book for the upcoming new magazine East Meets West, but in the meantime, I tried Ms Young’s recipe for Beef Chow Fun and let me tell you, for my first time with this recipe it reminded me of my families home cooking. It was delicious, thanks to the simplicity and depth of the author’s recipes.
Finally a book of authentic Chinese recipes that you can trust!
More soon…

Meanwhile, take a look at my first try:

New York City and David Peel

During a film session at a Woodstock reunion celebration in Bethel, New York, we caught up with David Peel, who was a local staple in the Greenwich Village scene in the early 1970's. He was also coincidentally, mentioned in John & Yoko's song, "New York City" on the now overly-talked-about album here on The Adventures Of Master Zhihui, Sometime In New York City.

A sample of the "New York City" lyrics:
Standing on the corner
Just me and Yoko Ono
We was waiting for Jerry to land
Up come a man with the guitar
in his hand
Singing "Have a marijuana if you can"
His name was David Peel
And we found that he was real
He sang "The pope smokes
dope everyday."
Up come a policeman shoved
us up the street
Singing, "Power to the
people today!"

Que pasa New York? Que pasa New York?
Hey Hey.

Master Zhihui promises that this is the last time he will mention the infamous album, but it will help if he gets the iTunes version -- (Which incidentally, and regrettably, leaves out most of the Frank Zappa LIVE JAM disc) -- so he can stop opining over his original vinyl album and terribly scratched CD. So please, gift this album to him!

Howard Kaylan in New York City

Here's an interview from sometime ago with the very funny and very talented Mr. Howard Kaylan of The Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Mothers Of Invention fame. We decided that while Master Zhihui is on a John and Yoko's, "Sometime In New York City" kick, that it would be a good time to share this with you. You should also read, "Oh Yoko!" and "John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Sometime In New York City: Established 1984?!"
The following interview contains subject matter that may be inappropriate for some readers. Please use discretion.

Pasta ala Dylan

Master Zhìhuì: We’re talking to Mr. Howard Kaylan of The Turtles and The Mothers Of Invention about New York City. Mr. Howard Kaylan —
Howard Kaylan: New York. I’ve had some strange experiences. Let me harken back for ya.
This was actually incredible to me — the year was 1966 and a couple of strange things had happened on that trip. The Turtles had come in for the first time to play at this nightclub called The Phone Booth where the house band for the previous year and a half had been The Young Rascals.
They had a national success with “Good Lovin’” and they were off. To fill in for them they had brought in this West Coast band, namely us, who had been the house band in Los Angeles at a club called The Revelaire for many years before our career took off.
We had three hit records at the time and we were working on our third hit record and that’s what brought us into New York. We had “It Ain’t Me Babe,” its follow up, “Let Me Be”, and we were working on a record called “You Baby” and trying to break that across the country. So they put us on a television show called “Hullabaloo”, and it was a very prestigious rock and roll show for the time and they had dancers there. But the “Hullabaloo” dancers weren’t so much dancers as they were props.
In our case being Turtles, what they decided to do was to shoot our number, “You Baby,” through a fish tank so they would have goldfish and seahorses and all that crap floating by — flotsam and jetsam. Then us on the other side of the glass posed with these models in wetsuits standing perfectly still so they would look like fish tank ornaments as far as the audience was concerned.
Well one of these girls was just incredibly cute and it wound up that she took me on a tour of New York, showed me the sites and then in fact, did even a worse thing to me — introduced me to her roommate. Her roommate was also a dancer, a legitimate dancer, a ballet dancer… and that’s all I needed. A long-haired, slender ballet dancer on my twentieth year on the planet in New York City with the cherry blossoms in bloom and I was just a goner! So obviously I wound up with this woman — that’s not the horror — the horror came much later, but that was a prelude to the horror that came.
This very same trip in, at The Phone Booth, we had of course had our biggest success with the Bob Dylan song, “It Ain’t Me Babe” and huzza buzza buzz, the rumor came back: “Dylan’s in the crowd, Dylan’s in the crowd.” We couldn’t have been more thrilled. One minor flaw is that Dylan came on the last night of what was our entire week’s engagement and my voice was terrible — I was experiencing road laryngitis, for lack of a better word. Screaming our lungs out — we were doing very psychedelic music at the time. At any rate, we finished our program and we ended with “It Ain’t Me Babe,” our biggest hit of that time.
After the show, we were led by our press agent past Bob Dylan’s table as if he were the Queen and we were some sort of reception line. Bob was eating pasta. Bob was also very, very, very, very high. As we passed him by to shake his hand Bob had his head almost in his plate. We filed by in procession, I was the last one to go by him and I said “Thank you very much, you’re music has meant a great deal to us” and he lifted his head and said, “I’ll tell ya something, that last song was really killer. That was really killer. Now I don’t know, but if I were you, that’s the one I’d think about recording. Who the hell wrote that anyway?” Then he passed out. Right into his pasta. Face first.
I never knew if he was kidding. Years and years and years later, when I saw him backstage at a Bruce Springsteen show, I asked if he had been kidding and he just laughed. So I’ll never be quite sure.

There’s Something About an Aqua Velva Man

Howard Kaylan: I can remember almost being busted in New York, smoking pot in hotel rooms back in the sixties and being so ignorant as not even putting a towel down by the door. The only defense we had against the New York gendarme was to burn Aqua Velva in ashtrays, which we did, and it never worked — the ashtrays would crack and we would normally get a call. At least a call if not a visit.
Master Zhìhuì: Well that’s going to boost sales for Aqua Velva when this comes out.
Howard Kaylan: Do they still make that crap?
Master Zhìhuì: I think so.
Howard Kaylan: Boy, I don’t know. That was pretty foul even then.

Penelope and the Sea

Howard Kaylan: Other notable New York stories include for instance times with Frank (Zappa). You know, cut to the chase here, we did some of our most infamous New York work with Frank — the Fillmore East album being particularly notable. Every night that we played at the Fillmore, we had a different guest star with us. We did three nights that particular run that the album was recorded in, in 1971. The first night was Joni Mitchell, the second night was Grace Slick and the third night was John and Yoko.
Joni, who Mark [Volman] and I had known in our formative days in the late sixties, was there and was just thrilled that this artist [Frank] would take her seriously. She considered herself a country bumpkin, or that’s the way she came off. So we introduced her to Frank and she talked about what she wanted to do on stage that night. We never really rehearsed with her or anything. The band just sort of learned this little bed track and she came out on stage — we didn’t know what she was going to do or say — and as it turned out, she decided that she just wanted to recite a poem. And the poem in her beautiful innocent little voice began: “Penelope wants to fuck the sea. She wants to lie in the sand and have her labia caressed.” I mean it was just — what? What? — and the audience just went dead silent. Frank and the band stopped playing and everybody just listened to these words coming out of this innocent little woman’s mouth. It was really bizarre that of all the things she chose to do, it wasn’t to experiment musically, jazz-wise, it was to get out there and say things. She even told Frank, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I could have never gotten away with this in my show. I just wanted to see how an audience would react.”

High Time In New York City

Howard Kaylan: The second night Grace Slick came out, it was kind of a normal thing. I think she did some blues with us. Then the third night was rather well documented, with the exception of the fact that the mysterious evening with John and Yoko was preceded by an even more mysterious afternoon.
That afternoon, Mark and myself went up to Frank’s hotel suite at the Mayflower and we were there to meet with John and Yoko and talk about what we were gonna do that evening in performance. I had just come from Greenwich Village where I had been “pipe” shopping.
I arrived at Frank’s room, and even though Frank understood that at the time Mark and myself both “indulged,” shall we say, Frank was never a big pot fan. He was never an advocate of weed. In fact when we first joined the group, he was dead set against it. We had to prove to him that we could be in a state that he considered to be euphoric and yet could still perform the songs as tightly and cleanly as he wanted. Once we passed that test, he was like, “Well okay you guys, I’ve met my match.” By the end of our ten years with The Mothers, Frank was indeed smoking with us. So that was our minor triumph. But this particular afternoon John and Yoko came over, there was some buddage in the room and John specifically asked for it even before the rehearsal got underway. “Does anybody have anything? I’m dying here. Then Mark or me — I forget which one — said, “Yeah, we got something, anything to smoke it with?” “Yeah, this pipe.” This incredible new pipe, which was this flat rock like you would skip across the water — one of those painted, Indian, sort of a clay thing… and the first hit went to the man and the second hit went to the lady.
Then as Frank watched, the thing got passed around the room, but there wasn’t an awful lot he could say about it. In fact he said nothing about it. The afternoon proceeded wonderfully, everyone knew what we were gonna do, everybody was high as hell and I still have that pipe. That pipe is a wonderful hunk of my past that I’m never getting rid of. There’s no eBay price that could be put on it.
Talking about horror stories, there were some nights in New York City that I could remember being so high that I did not know what I was doing. I can remember being so high — this one particular occasion at The Bottom Line, I got it into my head that I was lip syncing because that’s how stoned I was. There were one or two places where I would blank out totally on the lyric, knowing it was no big deal since I was just lip syncing — all I would have to do is be quiet and listen to what the lead singer was saying — of course he didn’t say anything and I stood there like a jerk, but our audiences there were very, very forgiving. It’s an incredibly forgiving city for me. We even played Carnegie Hall with the Mothers. Talk about horror, those faces of the union guys as they watched the entire band and audience do a conga line to “The Mud Shark” through that place.
Master Zhìhuì: There were some funny lyrics to those songs. In “Latex Solar Beef,” isn’t the line, “Talk about your hemorrhoids baby”?
Howard Kaylan: Yes it is. The line that precedes it is “Acetylene Nirvana... Hemorrhoids” and I take credit for that line. The stupidest things you can say, as long as the alliteration was correct. The deal was make Frank laugh — The Mothers were not ever about making the audience laugh — if they laughed it was a great by-product. People don’t often understand that a lot of Frank’s genius, in my opinion, was his capacity to take the work or words of other people and funnel it back at them. For instance he would always tape record our conversations and our rehearsals and when he heard something good, even if we just said it in a conversation about him, he would turn it into a piece of music or a song or dialogue that we would have to then learn perfectly to go with the music.
It didn’t always go down so smoothly when he did that exact thing for Jeff Simmons on the set of 200 Motels. Jeff, the bass player, received that script like three days before we were going to start shooting that movie and he refused to say those words — even though they were his very own words that Frank had recorded him saying in New York, in London, in Los Angeles, at rehearsals. They were things like, “Shit I’m way too hip for this comedy music, man — I should be playing the blues, that’s where it is. Blues, extended blues.” Those were the lines that you hear in 200 Motels — uttered by a character other than Jeff who walked off the picture three days before the movie was made.
But Frank’s whole thing was being able to spot the original things that were being said by the band and recycle it. Hence there was a lot of anger often within the ranks of The Mothers Of Invention because everything would always come out as written and published by Frank Zappa. Whether or not it was.
In our later days with the Mothers by the time we reached Eddie Are You Kidding? and things like that, Frank knew enough to split the credit. So I at least get checks for that stuff. But before that time, no one got paid, no one got paid. And that’s what part of 200 Motels was about; he’s listening, he’s stealing, he’s taking everything and we never get paid. Frank thought that was immensely funny to have the band members who actually said those things say them again on camera.

A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono

Howard Kaylan: When John Lennon came to the hotel to rehearse for the Fillmore session, we went through that little blues thing of his “Well… Baby Please Don’t Go,” and we went through one or two other things as well. Some of it we did, some of it we didn’t do.
We went through the piece that was later to be known as “Scumbag” which I freaked over, too, cause there were real vocals on that thing — real lyrics and as a writer I was a little annoyed — but it really wasn’t anyone’s fault. The album actually came out twice.
Zappa released a treatment of that and so did Lennon. Lennon shoved his on a record called, Sometime In New York City as the second disc. And what he did with it was he took the white, penciled Cal Schenkel text from the Fillmore album and Yoko just annotated it to her liking in red magic marker. So when it came to my description for instance, she scratched out the word ‘lead’ and just left vocals. When it came time to list instrumental songs that John really didn’t know, John made up titles. He had the unmitigated gall to call one of Frank’s classic songs — “King Kong” I believe, one of his all-time biggest instrumentals — Lennon didn’t know what it was, called it “Jamrag” then said that he wrote it!
So there was a huge stink following that performance. That performance by the way, I have seen as recently as a month or so ago on tape, and not that I remembered it, but seeing it now in hindsight, I think one of my proudest moments of my show business life took place that evening — as I was indeed the one to put Yoko Ono in the bag and to cinch it up tight. There she stayed for the remainder of the show, screeching into her microphone in her bag. But boy, there’s a still that I’m going to have blown up and put on my wall.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Sometime In New York City: Established 1984?!

Released in 1972, John & Yoko's, Sometime In New York City has always been one of Master Zhihui's favorite albums. But while creating a recent post entitled, "Oh Yoko!" we noticed that our original album has the words Established 1984 on the upper right hand side of the album's front cover. [Click the image to enlarge and see for yourself.]
Did we and a whole lot of others miss the point? (John Winston Lennon) George Orwell's 1984:

Wikipedia writes: Nineteen Eighty-Four (also titled 1984),[1] by George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair), is a 1949 English novel about life in a fictional, future authoritarian regime as lived by Winston Smith, an intellectual worker at the Ministry of Truth. Winston is degraded and psychologically tortured after he is arrested by the Thought Police under the instruction of the totalitarian government of Oceania, in the year 1984.
The book has major significance for its vision of an all-observing government which uses constant surveillance and propaganda, both insidious and blatant, to control its citizens. The book had a substantial impact both in literature and on the perception of public surveillance, inspiring such terms as 'Big Brother' and 'Orwellian'.

Other gems written on the back cover include, "Don't think they didn't know about Hitler." and "This album was completed on March 20, 1972, our third wedding anniversary."
Isn't a shame that our government had Lennon assassinated?

Etching Van Gogh on deathbed still unsold

From Renske Pronk: The etching of Van Gogh on his deathbed, made by Paul van Ryssel (Dr. Paul Gachet), offered for sale at the Master Drawings Week in London, has not yet been sold.
According to selling art dealer Emanuel von Baeyer, the etching got a lot of attention during the Master Drawings Week. He claims that there are some potential buyers at the moment.
The etching shows Vincent van Gogh on his deathbed, seen from his left side. This is the side where Vincent cut off a piece of his ear. Von Baeyer: "It is a portrait which, even in death, shows us the scars of a tortured genius, who produced some of the most remarkable works of the late nineteenth century".
The print of the deceased artist, published in a small edition, is not the only impression that has ever been on the market. In November 2007 a print from the same plate was sold in Paris for 1600 euros. The version offered by Von Baeyer has a much higher asking price. And there is a good reason why…

Unique features

What makes this etching so special is the fact that this particular print is the very first test print made from the plate. Another unique feature on this etching is the inscription on the backside, written by the artist Paul van Ryssel himself.

The print is signed with a monogram in the plate: R.v.P and inscribed: Vincent van Gogh 1890. Signed, dedicated and heavily annotated in brown ink by Gachet: a mon ami Paquet – P. Gachet. (To my friend Paquet) 
On the reverse Gachet wrote with the same pen: Le peintre van Gogh a son lit de mort (1890) eauforte (1er etat, d’apres le dessin original, pas nature (Collection van Gogh a Lahaye) Epreuve tiree par l’auteur PGachet (Signature).
(The painter Van Gogh on his deathbed (1890) etched plate (1st state, after original design (Van Gogh Collection at Lahaye) Proof made by the artist PGachet)

The print is now located at Gallery Emanuel Von Baeyer in London, UK.

To read about Vincent Van Gogh's controversial photo see our piece: Hurting History? Van Gogh or Not Van Gogh?

Quote of the Day

The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.

Quote of the Day

I'm still tryin' to make it! -- 93 years young -- still tryin' to make it! Oh well... Guess I'll go back up to the house and look at CNN!
--Pinetop Perkins 2006
[He likes lots of bacon, smokes plenty of cigarettes and does not practice Tai Chi --Ed]

Tai Chi: Will it make you live a long life?

It would be a difficult task to find the exact origins of Tai Chi as well as the dates of the lives of it's masters. However, for the purposes of food for thought; lets look at the chart above from Canada’s Christopher Majka and assume that most of the details are accurate.
What we want to look at today are the life spans of some of the masters who’s dates are documented here.

Chang San-feng 1391-1459 -- lived to be 68 years old.
Chen Chang-hsing 1771-1853 -- lived to be 82 years old.
Yang Lu-chan 1799-1872 -- lived to be 73 years old.
Wu Yu-Xiang 1812-1880 -- lived to be 68 years old.
Yang Pan-hou 1837-1892 -- lived to be 55 years old.
Yang Chein-hou 1842-1917 -- lived to be 75 years old.
Li l-yu 1833-1892 -- lived to be 59 years old.

More names from the Tai Chi Family Tree at

Chen Wangting 1600-1680 -- lived to be 80 years old.
Chen Changxing 1771-1853-- lived to be 58 years old.
Chen Qingping 1795-1868 -- lived to be 73 years old.
Wu Yu-hsiang 1812-1880 -- lived to be 68 years old.
Wu Ch'uan-yü 1834-1902 -- lived to be 68 years old.
Yang Shao-hou 1862-1930 -- lived to be 68 years old.
Yang Ch'eng-fu 1883-1936 -- lived to be 53 years old.
Wu Chien-ch'üan 1870-1942 -- lived to be 72 years old.
Hao Wei-chen 1849-1920 -- lived to be 71 years old.
Wu Kung-i 1900-1970 -- lived to be 70 years old.
Sun Lu-t'ang 1861-1932 -- lived to be 71 years old.
Wu Ta-kuei 1923-1972 -- lived to be 49 years old.
Sun Hsing-i 1891-1929 -- lived to be 38 years old.

It seems odd that for a tradition and way of life that promotes health and longevity, that it’s masters and founders would live such short lives. In case you weren’t counting, the average lifespan of these men was 66 years old.
But, as the old gag from The Odd Couple went: Felix urges Oscar to quit his ways of smoking, drinking and eating. He tells Oscar how young his relative died who had similar habits and this sends Oscar into a panic. The reveal comes later when we find out that Felix’s relative died when a bus hit him!
So take it how you like it, I only thought it.

Tai Chi Master photos, Left to Right: Yang Pan-hou, Yang Chein-hou, Wu Chien-ch'üan, Yang Lu-chan, Sun Lu-t'ang, Chen Changxing, Yang Shao-hou, Yang Ch'eng-fu, Wu Kung-i.

Quote of the Day

Great is the man who has not lost his childlike heart.

The Rollerblade Diaries -- Getting To Know The World's Best Skates: Landroller

Having never roller-bladed before, I did a little research ahead of the game to see what I might be in for. What was mostly discussed was the need for a smooth track or surface to skate on - as the vibration from the small wheels on inline skates might rattle you up a bit. Living in the country is certainly no plus - all we have here are hills and mountains and rough surfaces, save for the interstates and you wouldn't want to play in that sort of traffic.
I spoke with a friend of mine who I thought might be interested in the experience and he told me that he bought a pair of good inline skates, but wound up giving them away as there were no smooth paths to skate down. I first spotted Landroller skates on Cesar Millan's show, The Dog Whisperer. Cesar makes it look very exciting and easy as he is pulled across Los Angeles by his pack of trained and untrained dogs. I figured if Cesar is using them, they've got to be good, and although it was a silly way to judge, I came out a hundred percent right.
Now, remember, I've never set foot into a rollerblade before, so I was pretty nervous. Visions of a concussion and lots of bandages danced in this head. I received my Landrollers by post and immediately tried them on. I was the only one in the office at the time, so I figured no one would mind and certainly no one would see me fall. To my surprise, they were pretty easy to get used to right away. In fact, the company says that novices have a far easier time getting used to them than a regular inline skater might. Much to my surprise and dismay, a young sales girl showed up at the office and the last thing I wanted her to see was an uncool aging writer fall on his butt trying to help her. Thank goodness I was behind the reception desk and she couldn't see, but I felt my skeleton wobbling back and forth inside me like a pole with a spinning set of dishes on top - ready to fall with one false move. Luckily, I made it through that one. She must of thought I was pretty tall.
The next test, still alone, I decided to let my two black labs pull me across the hardwood floor as fast as they could for about forty feet. I stood at one side of the room, braced myself with leashes in one hand and two dog biscuits in the other. I threw the dog biscuits across the room, the dogs went running after them and there's me cruising behind them just like Cesar Millan! Too bad I didn't learn how to properly stop first. My first thought was where am I going to find a new Braided Ficus to replace the one I just demolished?
It's funny how the eye plays tricks on you and you don't readily notice a simple incline over the course of a hundred yards, but I found out all about it as I practiced in the parking lot. I tried looking as cool as I could - and there are some great pointers on various rollerblading sites on the web that you should read first before attempting to rollerblade for the first time and be sure to always wear the proper safety gear. Now that I was a parking lot pro, I decided to find some great rollerblading venues to really give my Landrollers a whirl.
The first place we tried was our local bicycle trails. Crossing streets at this level of experience was not my cup of tea, but we found a great little stretch of paved road that looked like a scene from an Andrew Wyeth painting. Smooth sailing and lots of fun - all the time I was thinking what a wonderful exercise program this would make. When we reached the end of what was about half a mile, it was time to turn around - unless we wanted to skate along with automobile traffic. We didn't. But the whole trick of the eye incline thing came into play going back and it felt like I was going fifty miles an hour. My partner, who was also using Landrollers for the first time was behind me doing a much better job at slowing down.
Ever see The Incredible Shrinking Woman with Lily Tomlin? There's a scene where she is gliding along at high speed on a slippery bar of soap - that was me. All I can think about was Eddie Murphy's Aunt Bunny falling down a flight of stairs, “Help me Jesus! I'm falling down the stairs!” And what would I do to stop? And where was my friend? Did she fall down? I have to admit, I did panic and went off the paved path onto the thistle bushes where I can safely fall. But after much practice I got to be good enough to take it to a whole other level. Of course my other half did much better than I did - save for all her laughing at me.
Before we begin this beguine, you should know a bit more about the revolutionary Landroller skate. Here's is a bit of info direct from Landroller's PR people: “Boardwalks, bike paths, streets, country roads, cobblestones, single track, sidewalks, skate parks - LandRoller conquers them all. LandRollers have a patented, angled, out-of-line wheel configuration that dramatically improves and expands the skating experience for both novices and experts. They are called “out-of-line” because the wheels touch the ground on both sides of the centerline of the boot. The large wheels roll over obstacles that hinder and cause safety and control issues in traditional inline skates, and are angled to maintain the same low center of gravity as a traditional skate. This radical configuration improves stability, maneuverability, safety, ride smoothness and braking. From the first time you lace up a pair of LandRollers and begin skating, you'll notice the balance, responsiveness and performance of the skates. You will also quickly find out that you can go almost everywhere you please because surfaces don't limit the route, fun or workout that can be experienced with a pair LandRollers.”
Geared with more experience. We decided to take Landroller on the road to a few rollerblading hot-spots as well as some we made up as we went along. Our first destination, Boston: The Esplanade, a 17-mile stretch of land along the banks of the Charles River. This was a delight. The weather was perfect, the views sensational and there are plenty of other roller-bladers to watch and catch some good tips off of. Wearing Landrollers are a great conversation starter, all sorts of people ask questions about them and admire the unique design. Okay, you'd get the same response riding a unicycle down the Esplanade, but you won't look as cool. So if you like meeting people, Landrollers are almost as good as a cute little puppy to attract members of the opposite sex into an engaging conversation. Not me, though, it was all business.
Our second destination: The Riverside Park Promenade along the Hudson River, N.Y.C. We're talking the Henry Hudson Parkway on one side of you and the Hudson River on the other. And if you are feeling a little extra frisky, you can rollerblade all the way downtown via the paths along the Westside Highway. There's plenty of rough patches here and there that would certainly deter the average inline skater, but with Landroller, we found them not to be a problem at all.
New York City is my town, but it isn't as mellow and laid back as Boston. As you rollerblade by, bums still ask for money. “Mister, I can't even stop good, are you kidding?” One homeless person decided to run along side of us in hopes for some spare change. There are lots of characters to see and once you get comfortable with it you can bring along a backpack with a pair of sneakers and walk over to Chelsea or the Village for a nice lunch while you are there.
Learn more at: The Official Landroller Web site.

Oh Yoko!

We have a very high regard for Yoko Ono. She is a great artist and a beautiful poet. Here's a segment from my favorite Yoko Ono song entitled, We're All Water. Pay particular attention to the chorus:

There may not be much difference
Between Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon
If we strip them naked

There may not be much difference
Between Marilyn Monroe and Lenny Bruce
If we check their coffins

There may not be much difference
Between White House and Hall of People
If we count their windows

There may not be much difference
Between Raquel Welch and Jerry Rubin
If we hear their heartbeat

We're all water from different rivers
That's why it's so easy to meet
We're all water in this vast, vast ocean
Someday we'll evaporate together

[You can purchase this song on iTunes, it's from the John & Yoko album "Sometime In New York City" the whole album is fabulous!]

Make That A Double!

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.
--Bruce Lee

Quote of the Day

Water is the softest and most yielding substance.
Yet nothing is better than water,
for overcoming the hard and rigid,
because nothing can compete with it.

Everyone knows that the soft and yielding
overcomes the rigid and hard,
but few can put this knowledge into practice.

Therefore the Master says:
"Only he who is the lowest servant of the kingdom,
is worthy to become its ruler.
He who is willing to tackle the most unpleasant tasks,
is the best ruler in the world."

True sayings seem contradictory.
--Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching

Tri-colored roasted peppers and bruschetta with olive oil

Here’s a delicious dish that can be a healthy lunch or a wonderful first course.

1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 large clove of garlic
2 ounces of olive oil
Four slices of crusty French or Italian bread

Roast each pepper one at a time on an open flame right on your stovetop. You can use a wire rack if you feel that the pepper will fall through onto the burner. Keep turning the pepper with a pair of metal tongs until it becomes completely black. If you see the skin starting to get ashy white, you are over doing it. What is happening here is that you are burning the skin but slowly roasting the meat of the pepper. When all your peppers are done, puncture a hole in each to let out any hot air that is trapped inside.
Then under cold running water, gently peel off the burnt skin to reveal the cooked pepper inside. Leave a very small amount of black for flavor and do not over rinse — you want some of the charcoal flavor. Remove the stem of the pepper and the seeds inside and cut the pepper into half-inch wide strips lengthwise.
Add your pepper strips to a bowl and mix them with sliced or minced fresh garlic and an ounce and a half of the olive oil. Let marinate in your refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight if you desire. Good olive oil will congeal when refrigerated, so when you are ready to serve, leave it out for a few minutes and mix it well.
Brush your sliced bread on one side with some of the remaining olive oil. You can add chopped garlic and parsley for a little extra flavor or color. Toast the slices under your broiler or on an open flamed grill and serve hot with the peppers.
Even though you have the little bit of bread, just think how much healthier this is than fast food or a sandwich. But don’t eat the whole dish yourself. Invite a friend over for some good conversation and maybe a nice glass of wine. And don’t forget to turn off your television!

Today's Quote

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.

The Waxy Tutelage of Zhìhuì:
Blowing Out A Candle With Your Fist

Remember this scene from Quentin Tarantino’s film, Kill Bill? It is from the chapter called “The Cruel Tutelage Of Pai Mei”:


Pai Mei stands in front of a wood wall three inches in front
of him. His right fist is cocked back by his breastplate,
he's concentrating on a certain spot on the wall.
The Bride stands behind him, watching.
He lets out a SCREAM, and puts his fist THROUGH THE WALL.
He turns to the new student;

Since your arm now belongs to me, I want it strong. Can you do that?

I can, but not that close.

Then you can't do it.

I can put my hand through that at six inches.

And you could shoot a man from a rooftop with a scope-sight rifle, if you so desired, but this is not what I asked. What if your enemy is three inches in front of you, what do you do then? Curl into a ball? Or do you put your fist through him.

He HITS the wall again leaving another hole.

Now begin.

The Bride takes her place in front of the wall. She HITS it.
Only managing to stain the wall with the blood from her
scraped knuckles. Then again. And again....

This training proved very handy when The Bride was buried alive. But in “real life” here’s an interesting exercise that you might enjoy doing without breaking your hand.
There are various “silly” versions of this technique on YouTube which you can find, but the most serious example is one we found on
“This is an unusual training technique practiced by novice Shaolin monks to perfect their Kung Fu style punching. It is surprisingly difficult even for an experienced martial artist to "punch out" a household candle.” See the video at:
Try it on your own today. Think of Pai Mei while you are doing this exercise and take it seriously! Let me know when you can blow out the candle with your fist landing at least a foot away from the candle!

Today's Quote:
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.

Today's Quote

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

Zen, My Foot!

For some people, there may be nothing more relaxing than tending to their gardens. So I thought I would unwind today and use my weed-wacker to carve out the unruly growth around the landscape I call my backyard. Everything was going fine -- until for the umpteenth time, the weed-wacker's starter cord got stuck and would not recoil. Having just fixed something else and gaining great satisfaction from it, I thought I would take the motor apart and fix the conked out cord. Little did I realize was that upon taking the thing apart with the intention of lubricating and cleaning it, a five-foot spring would pop out that would prove impossible to place back where it belonged! After getting filthy and ruining my favorite shirt with spring-grease, I decided I just did not have the patience to endure this task. My Yin told my Yang to go F*** itself! Now my landscape looks like a bad hair day!
Lesson: When playing Mr. Fix-it, sometimes it is wisest to call in a professional!

Hurting History?
Van Gogh Or Not Van Gogh, That Is The Question!

Since it’s discovery several years ago in an antiques shop by artist Tom Stanford, this photo of Vincent Van Gogh has caused much controversy. According to photo historian Joseph Buberger, the Van Gogh “authorities” refuse to admit that this is indeed a photo of Van Gogh because it would in turn cast doubt on what we know as “official” photos of Van Gogh – you know, those other photos that look nothing like his self portraits. What would be so bad in admitting that those photos were actually of Van Gogh’s brother Theo or his cousin(s)?
On several web sites, this photo was posted -- asking the question, “Did Vincent Van Gogh trace his self-portraits?” -- a David Hockney theory of sorts. Out of a total of about 100,000 responses, no one even thought to rebuke the assumption that the photo was actually Vincent. So why hasn’t it been made official by the art world?
Here’s what a reader from the Netherlands had to say:
“Zelfs een blinde ziet nog wel dat dit Vincent is,op de foto ziet hij er wat ouder uit,maar zeker!! hij is het”
English Translation:
“Even a blind man will see that this is still Vincent, on the picture he sees somewhat older, but certainly! It is”
What do you think?

Happy Birthday Vovo!

Master Zhìhuì Makes Many Mistakes!
(Dizzy Gillespie & Arturo Sandoval)

I found this Polaroid in my desk recently. Many years ago, I met with Dizzy Gillespie to create his portrait from a photo. It was at The Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC. Dizzy was great, but here's where your friend and mine goofed:
I also wanted a photo of Dizzy and myself. So I looked for someone to snap it for me. I saw a gentleman coming into the dressing room and I asked, "Would you take a p...." "Sure my friend!", he replied before I could finish -- then proceeded to put his arm around me and pose. Then stupid me said, "No, I mean of Dizzy and me!" The man nodded and then graciously took the photo of Dizzy and I.
What I didn't know was that that man had just defected from Cuba and this was one of his first performances as a free man. It was Arturo Sandoval!
To this day I regret not taking my picture with Mr. Sandoval (even though I didn't know who he was at the time) -- it was so foolish of me. I wish I had another chance! I've been listening to his music ever since.
There's a lesson to be learned from this mistake!