A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 145: Get to Know USS


“Don’t try to paint my rainbow grey
I’m feeling fine, fine, fine”

When you find out one of the band members calls himself Human Kebab…

When you read about the title of one of their tours: “Highway to Health”…

When you learn that they once made smoothies in a concert to give to fans…

When one of the band members describes their style this way: “We like to call what we do the campfire after-party. It’s like you’re at Nirvana Unplugged but there’s a drum and bass party and glow sticks all around you.”…

When you discover why they titled an EP Approved: “Approved, because it seems like everyone has issues of self-worth. YOU’RE ALL GOOD ENOUGH! Most of life is just overcompensation for not feeling like you are good enough. APPROVED!”…

When you first hear their name, Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, and learn that it came from the title above a band member’s life-plan…

After all that, you listen to their music – an eclectic, danceable, hodge podge of numerous musical influences delivered by two guys from the suburbs of Toronto…

When you get to know USS, you get hooked on their hooks…

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 144: Words of Peace

“Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”
In the aftermath of yet another abhorrent and pointless terrorist attack, I was in need of some words of peace. Here are a few from English poet and artist William Blake, originally published in 1789.

The Divine Image 

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.
For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.
For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.
Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 143: Bob Dylan Dream

Bob Dylan Dream

“Bob Dylan Dream”, Craft foam and colored burlap mosaic, 2017

Continuing on in my mosaic theme of late…

I had purchased more craft foam and some sheets of colored burlap from the dollar store. I had a canvas covered in black gesso all ready to go. I had a new jar of Modge Podge. All I needed was an idea.

And nothing. Nada. Zip. Nothing came to me. Nothing for about two or three weeks.

It’s like that sometimes for me. Maybe it’s that way for you, too – whatever your form of expression may be.  I’ll wait for that elusive muse. Often the wait drives me crazy. But I know better than to force something. When I do, my heart’s not in it.

This time around, as I was waiting, all it took was a glance at the Bob Dylan book of lyrics setting next to my favorite chair in the living room. I had been paging through it, using it as a reference for last Sunday’s God Quote (Day 141). I put it down and looked at the iconic photo of the 1965/66 Dylan from the Highway 61-era.

Boom! There it was. I had my inspiration. I was hoping to create a painting per month in 2017 in honor of the artists who have inspired me. We’re five months in and I’ve only done two. Sigh… But here was my chance to do up some artwork in honor of one of my favorite musicians all time. Not a painting, however, but what the hell? Art is about breaking your own rules too.

I wanted it to be more than a portrait; something that reflected the artist and his art. Dylan has always been an enigma. I can’t remember who said it but my favorite quote about him goes something like, “Dylan has so many sides to him, he’s round.” It should be something that reflects his status as the most frustratingly impossible-to-pin-down singer-songwriter in rock history. I also wanted to include some words because, well, Dylan without words is like Ansel Adams without film for his camera.

But what words? The man has written thousands and thousands of words. I didn’t want it to be the cliche Dylan lyric. Nothing from “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Tangled Up in Blue”. So I started paging through that book of lyrics to find inspiration.

It didn’t take me long to come across a line that seemed to work well with what I knew was going to be a trippy portrait. It comes at the end of one of his “talking blues” songs from early on in his career, from his 1962 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The song is “Talkin’ World War III Blues” and it is freakin’ hilarious. Here is the section of lyrics from that song where I found my quote for the mosaic:

Well, now time passed and now it seems/ Everybody’s having them dreams/Everybody sees themselves/Walkin’ around with no one else/Half of the people can be part right all of the time/Some of the people can be all right part of the time/But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time/I think Abraham Lincoln said that/”I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”/I said that

So I had it all now. The materials, the inspiration, the image, the words. Below are a few photos of the process. At the end, I had a wildly colorful, puzzle-like portrait befitting the complicated man simply known as Bob.


Bob Dylan Dream

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 142: Too Many Zooz

too many zooz

You can have too many of a lot of things but you can never have Too Many Zooz.

On my bucket list is a chance to be a busker, playing live music on the street. I have always been fascinated by the musicians who stake out a corner or some grimy little strategic spot and fill the smoggy, noisy air of a city with music.  These days, thanks to the ease of sharing a video around the world in seconds, we all get to enjoy so many of these performers. I was reminded of this by seeing, again, the marvelous video of Too Many Zooz in Union Square station in New York. If you’ve never watched it, here it is. It will be the best two minutes and change of your day, believe me:

Check out Too Many Zooz on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/toomanyzooz/


A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 141: Sunday God Quote – Dylan

dylan 1981
“It’s the ways of the flesh to war against the spirit
Twenty-four hours a day, you can feel it and you can hear it”

Bob Dylan had his so-called “Christian phase” in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The preachy tone and in-your-face Gospel message in his songs from that time was too much for many fans. Yet the astute listener must acknowledge that Dylan has always been preachy and in-your-face. Whether it is his folky protest songs or  far-out beat poetry or country blues or electric soul or any other way Dylan gets his song-craft out into the world, he has never been shy or avoided any confrontation in his lyrics.  How “put off” you are by his words depends on whether or not you are part of the choir he happens to be preaching to at the time.

The song “Solid Rock” from his 1980 album Saved is one of my favorites of his overt-Christian oeuvre. It combines Rock of Ages lyrics with the rollicking Dylan sound of the Rolling Thunder Review era. This is Rock-n-Gospel-Roll at its finest presented by a preacher worth listening to…

Solid Rock

Well, I’m hangin’ on
To a solid rock
Made before the foundation of the world
And I won’t let go, and I can’t let go
Won’t let go and I can’t let go
Won’t let go and I can’t let go no more
For me, He was chastised, for me, He was hated
For me, he was rejected by a world that He created
Nations are angry, cursed are some
People are expecting a false peace to come
Well, I’m hangin’ on
To a solid rock
Made before the foundation of the world
And I won’t let go, and I can’t let go
Won’t let go and I can’t let go
Won’t let go and I can’t let go no more
It’s the ways of the flesh to war against the spirit
Twenty-four hours a day, you can feel it and you can hear it
Using every angle under the sun
And He never give up ’til the battle’s lost or won
Well, I’m hangin’ on
To a solid rock
Made before the foundation of the world
Won’t let go and I can’t let go
Won’t let go and I can’t let go
Won’t let go and I can’t let go no more
Below is a link to a live version of “Solid Rock”. It is truly is amazing. Give it a watch/listen:

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 140: Saturday Life Quotes – Townshend


“Rock ‘n’ Roll might not solve your problems, but it does let you dance all over them”

The man who wrote “I hope I die before I get old” turned 72 yesterday. The ever astute, erudite, rock-star-intellectual Pete Townshend supplies this Saturday’s life quotes.

“Stars are attributed with intelligence they don’t have, beauty they haven’t worked for, loyalty & love they are incapable of reciprocating, and strength they do not possess. They are treated like a beautiful vase of cut flowers. When wilted, simply replaced with new blooms.”

“Nothing else in nature behaves so consistently and rigidly as a human being in pursuit of hell.”

“The music we play has to be tomorrow’s, the things we say have to be today, and the reason for bothering is yesterday.”

“All good art cannot help but confront denial on its way to truth.”

“There’s no easy way to be free.”



A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 139: Break My Rusty Cage and Run


The death of Chris Cornell struck me particularly hard. Understand, I was never a big fan of Soundgarden. I liked some of their tunes but they didn’t resonate with me the way their contemporaries like Pearl Jam or Nirvana did. It wasn’t because I was a big fan of the man that made the news so difficult to hear. It was because he committed suicide and we are about the same age, Chris was 52, I am 51.

I was so sad because I can only guess that he was a tormented man, likely deeply depressed. I was so sad because many men at my age, myself included, think we can just soldier on through it all. We go to work, do what we need to do, fulfill our commitments, continue to create or connect, convincing ourselves and others around us that all is okay in our world.

When something like the news of yesterday hits, it is hits some people hard, like being hit “with a hand of broken nails”.  Interestingly, one of my favorite Soundgarden songs is actually a cover of their song done by the one and only Johnny Cash. I thought it appropriate to print in here, and include a video of Johnny’s version.

Rest in peace, Chris. His death should remind us all of the silent warfare that rages in many lives.

Rusty Cage

You wired me awake
And hit me with a hand of broken nails
You tied my lead and pulled my chain
To watch my blood begin to boil

But I’m gonna break, I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run

Yeah I’m gonna break, I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run

Too cold to start a fire
I’m burning diesel burning dinosaur bones
I’ll take the river down to still water and ride a pack of dogs

But I’m gonna break, I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run

Hit like a Phillips head into my brain
It’s gonna be too dark to sleep again
Cutting my teeth on bars and rusty chains
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run

When the forest burns along the road
Like God’s eyes in my headlights
When the dogs are looking for their bones
And it’s raining ice picks on your steel shore

I’m gonna break, I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run

I’m gonna break, I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run

Written by Chris Cornell • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 138: Women’s Lives Lived Large

robyn davidson

“The world is a dangerous place for little girls. Besides, girls are more fragile, more delicate, more brittle than boys. ‘Watch out, be careful, watch.’ ‘Don’t climb trees, don’t dirty your dress, don’t accept lifts from strange men. Listen but don’t learn, you won’t need it.’ And so the snail’s antennae grow, watching for this, looking for that, the underneath of things. The threat. And so she wastes so much of her energy, seeking to break those circuits, to push up the millions of tiny thumbs that have tried to squelch energy and creativity and strength and self-confidence; that have so effectively caused her to build fences against possibility, daring; that have so effectively kept her imprisoned inside her notions of self-worthlessness.” – Robyn Davidson, Tracks

Just yesterday I came across this quote, which I had taken the time to write out free-hand, in a bent up notebook stuffed down in the bottom of one of my backpacks. I remember reading and re-reading this section in Robyn Davidson’s book. And I remember feeling angry for the women in my life, especially my wife and daughter. And I remember growing in my understanding of the frustrations girls and women encounter which they should never have to encounter, yet they encounter them every day. Every damn day.

As a man, I would strongly recommend to other men that they read books like Tracks. It is the true story of Davidson’s incredible odyssey, her trek in the late 1970’s across 1,700 miles of the Western Desert of Australia, accompanied by her camels. It was made into a movie a couple of years ago staring the incomparable Mia Wasikowska; that, too, I highly recommend. Why do I target men? Because, for the most part, we don’t have a clue what it means to have pressure to NOT be daring, NOT be fearless, NOT be fully ourselves. Little girls know this reality far better than most grown men. It is time we learn more about this reality so that we can help to change that reality. It starts by hearing the stories, by putting ourselves in their shoes, by putting in the work to really understand.

Robyn Davidson faced the sexism, the belittling, the objectification, the ridicule, the harsh conditions, the pain, the very real threat of physical danger, and the oppression of mental anguish and self-doubt step after step across the outback. She knows what she’s talking about and she deserves to be heard. This is kick-ass stuff and it is a woman’s story.

I want the women in my life to be daring, to take risks, to be fully themselves in whatever form this is meant to be. I want them to be free and creative and real so that the world can experience what wonderful people they are. Their’s is a kick-ass story, too, and it deserves to be heard but, more so, it deserves to be lived, completely and without restraints. Lived.

robyn and camel

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 137: Giving Dandelions Their Due


“I’m afraid there’s no denyin’ I’m just a dandelion,
A fate I don’t deserve.”

Just a dandelion? Au contraire, Cowardly Lion!

Consider the dandelion. It grows by the billions in my area of the world. And it is hated simply for existing. People attempt to eradicate it, pull it, thwart it; no matter, it is here to stay. And why shouldn’t it? The dandelion is an amazing plant. After all the negativity that suburbanites can heap upon it, it is time to give the dandelion its due. It is time to stop the hate!

Taraxacum is the name, massive propagation is the game. The species is native to Europe, Asia and North America but the common ones we see regularly are an import from across the pond. The name “dandelion” comes from French dent-de-lion, meaning “lion’s tooth” because of the jagged edge of their leaves. The entire plant is edible and contains massive amounts of vitamin A plus high amounts of vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and magnesium.

Dandelions can be made into wine. Their roots can be dried and roasted to make a caffeine-free coffee. Their leaves are a great addition to a salad as they are full of good stuff for our bodies. The gentry of Victorian times ate them as a delicacy. They are a staple of many diets in various parts of Eurasia.

Dandelions are also a key source of food for bees in the early days of Spring, when precious few flowers are budding for our buzzing friends. Bees are on the downturn, in part, because we have been trying to destroy a plant that gives them life.

And let’s not forget… They are beautiful. Yes, you vengeful Suburban dweller, they are! To prove it, I had a photo-shoot yesterday with one simple dandelion. Up close, personal, in the brilliant sunshine of May, this common dandelion shows just how uncommonly amazing one simple plant can be.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the dandelion