Archive for February, 2010

I Was Watching Through the Window, Waving to Anne Boleyn

February 26, 2010

The Tudors Makes British History Sexy

I finally finished watching the second season of the Tudors last night. I’ve never been so emotionally involved in a TV show before… the story of Anne Boleyn (played so well by Natalie Dormer) is so incredible to me, I have always loved proud and headstrong women, despite their shortcomings, and learning about the details of her story is like having to hear the trials of what so many women have had to bear over the years while men have done what they pleased. I’ve got to admit, it made me pretty upset. Especially when it is well-documented that Anne died with such dignity and grace in the face of such ridiculously damning charges, and that for the most part her desire to improve England as a nation was only overshadowed by her desire to become and remain Queen of England. If only she could have had a son…

 

This Picture Doesn't Do Anne Boleyn Justice

What strikes me most about the retelling of Henry VIII’s life is that not all that much has changed in politics since the 1500’s. Men of power still cheat on their wives and do so with little discretion. Intelligent women with ambition are thought to be “witches”, and are often either put in check by their peers (I’m thinking Hillary Clinton), or yanked from the spotlight completely. In theory, a boor like Henry is not unlike the boors of many countries today (even the USA), who are still guilty of horrible injustices that they get away with completely. The excuses for justification are always skewed and manipulated by the devices of their own staff in corroboration with media outlets, so that they evade ever admitting any truths in the public eye. Meanwhile, public policies are created via the leveraging of mistakes and weaknesses of government officials against them by their enemies. In the blink of an eye we can see the mightiest of leaders fall, not based on their principals or actions, but by the deceit of those that serve them. The court of 1500’s England is no more corrupt and filled with injustices than our modern courts here in America, though we tend to deny this under the pretense that we live in a “democracy”. I would allow that the severity of those injustices are no longer as severe as 500 years ago, but the principals that dictate the outcome of political battles still remain in practice today.
 
We live in a world where humans fail one another and their nations for greed and lust for power. We are all the lesser for it, I say. As a humanist, it is has always been difficult to sit by and watch history unfold with the discomfortable feeling that good shall not prevail, and that justice is clearly not being served in our courts and commitees. Favoritism is given to those who protect themselves with money and power, which are used as leverage against anyone of lesser stature who wishes to betray them or bring them to justice. We are still not allowed to enact the will of the public over the decisions of the fellow elite, who are beholden to a power so much greater than that of the democracy:  the power of corruption.
 
Thankfully there will always be the the tales of martyrs like Anne Boleyn, whose story remains vital and current in our culture today. Her life and death continue to remind and inspire us to push for equality within ourselves, even when our government is a mockery of the virtues and values that we are taught to possess. I question whether why we have not more headway in this cause, and acknowledge that there will always be this push and pull of good against evil. There is no doubt that Anne herself had to play political games to stay alive and was willing to destroy her opponents to do so, as in the case of Cardinal Wollsey, who it is said was jailed at her behest by King Henry for not being able to persuade the Pope to grant them permission to marry. She also used her political leverage to hasten the Reform movement of Catholocism, which was clearly helpful in acknowledging the corruption within that religion. Anne is an effective martyr because she knowingly became used her power to make both personal gains and improve the quality of her nation. In the end Anne became the victim of her own internal struggle of good vs. evil, and it was her courage to become involved in that struggle, despite the sacrifice of her own life, which remains so profound and memorable. While it was the betrayals of her tyrant of a husband and his servant Thomas Cromwell that were eventually her undoing, she acknowledged that it was the realization of her selfish desires which granted them the ability to cause an end to her life. And so in dying she actually revealed the inherent injustices of England’s politics, and perhaps helped in the reform of certain aspects of that kingdom with her actions. Just like in chess, the queen was sacrificed through strategy, so that perhaps overall the quality of the game might be improved.
 

Natalie Dormer, You’ll Always be Anne Boleyn to me

While there may never be a time when war is no longer necessary, or when power is no longer obtained by stepping on the heads of the weak and innocent, we as humans improve the world we live in by holding those who commit injustices responsible for their actions and checking the corroptions. As an American, I am constantly ashamed of the actions of our country’s leaders, especially when this country was built on the principals learned from the allowing the corruption of governments like by the likes of King Henry VIII. I believe mine to be a great country, not because of those who lead us, but because of the civil and moral obedience of the few who realize that of all the governments of the world we live in, this is one allows the most personal freedoms. With personal freedoms come personal responsibilities. We can allow ourselves to become involved in the destruction of what we know to be right, or we can choose to uphold what we believe to be correct, whatever the sacrifice. It still takes a personal conviction to die for what we believe in, and the willingness to put our own souls in the fight of good vs. evil and not look the other way in order to better our nation through our government. Anne Boleyn reminds us that we don’t have to live perfectly in the right to survive this world, but that we must actively participate in our government’s moral dilemma head-on in order to accomplish the changes that are necessary to improve conditions of the world that we live in. I pay tribute to you, Miss Boleyn.
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I’m Having a Mental Breakdown… I Hope You Care

February 12, 2010

I’ve not written in a while, because….

 Been hiding in my room, far away from the tiring social world of San Francisco.

Got a good pair of sweatpants and some curtains for my room. So this is what people do when they don’t play music and/or drink, huh?

Lots of daytime TV and organizational projects inside while the wind blows and rain falls. Plenty of sleep keeping warm and waiting for dinner time. New strings on all of my guitars. Another episode of the Tudors. Groceries in the fridge to be cooked. Pacing up and down the halls. Done with cigarettes, gotta close the window – it’s cold! New roommates, old friends. No woman to make me brush my teeth before bed, but I will anyway. Take another shower. Hang the paintings, record guitar track for song #28. Stop by the hardware store and get a 17/32″ drill bit. Check out another 10 cd’s from the library. Read the new National Geographic – leave it by the bed when you’re done.

Makes me forget how to write. So now I have to relearn. Makes me feel stupid, after all of these years training my mind to dance like a monkey, I’m finally giving it a rest. But now I don’t want to come back. I like it here in this Shangri-La, though I’m fatter and my bones ache with age and I get short of breath easy. No burnout this year for Jones. No burnout. Just empty space. Empty…

By the way, massages are amazing.

Growing Up is Hard to Do

February 3, 2010

This blog has been released to the hounds for the last two months while I attempt to simplify my life and move forward into adulthood after nearly 15 years of living like a viking. Ever since I finished playing my last show in December, I’ve felt that it’s time to take a step back and re-examine what it is I’m actually doing so that I don’t look back 10 years later and wonder, “What the hell happened?”.

It’s not necessary to go into all of the details of the process. Let’s just say it involves a lot of time fixing up my room, watching HBO OnDemand, and recording. For the first time in several years I’ve gone an entire month without playing a single show or making a public appearance at someone else’s gig. No more smoking cigarettes and drinking regularly, and as a result I feel more centered and stable. Without all these sinful delights to waste money on, I find myself able to pay off nearly all of a 10-year debt, which is a nice thing to be able to do in this economy.

When asking myself why this is all happening, I discover it’s because I’m tired of partying and running around living a child-like dream that obviously isn’t coming true. I love performing and hanging out with friends, but no longer acquire pleasure from getting wasted and playing seedy joints without appreciation (or pay). Maybe I’m growing up, or maybe I’m just becoming a big pussy, but either way I am naturally tending towards moving on to something different. I think it’s called being realistic.

In the last year I’ve had to be honest with myself and admit that a music career isn’t necessarily going to provide me with everything I need in life – forget about the things I want! At 31 I still don’t have health insurance, haven’t seen a dentist in 7 years, and possess no savings or investments. I work part-time because it allows the freedom to tour and work on music, but it’s simply a holding pattern and I’m always a step behind financially. I’m not saying I don’t want to play music any more or quit my job, I just need to focus my energy and achieve higher goals than I have in the past.

I’ve had some amazing adventures and done things that most would never dream of trying, so I don’t feel unfilfilled in the slightest. I’m still inspired by music every day and am more prolific than ever, but the desire to be a rock star is completely gone. It’s no longer fulfilling to play every night unless the music, audience and venue is respectable. No more playing covers in a bar band, now it is about creating art for its own sake.

I never thought I would say this, but eventually I want to have a wife and children, and I want to support them doing what I love. A greater purpose calls me and even if I’m never successful as a musician, I’ll always be able to record and perform music in some capacity. I can die happy knowing this. It’s been my dream for the past 10 years to be successful, and at this point it is my best interest to seriously evaluate exactly what that means. A very exciting new phase in my life is just beginning, and as hard as it is to admit, I’m finally growing up. I know it’s the right time because growing up no longer means sacrificing what I love. Now it’s about continuing to create music with class and integrity, doing away with the excesses, and focusing all of my energy on being a good person. Not because there are material or financial rewards involved, but because it makes the world a better place to live in when you treat others with kindness and respect.