Today is another really great entry in 365 Tao that I really need to hear, as I’m sure others do too.
Yesterday, I received the new album “Made in Hawaii” from my early mentor in punk rock, Jeff Dahl. It came in the mail, on a CD. It has been so long since I received a CD in the mail and probably 22 years since I last received a Jeff Dahl CD in the mail, which was probably his old album “Leather Frankenstein” in the early 90s. It was strange to get a Jeff Dahl CD in my mailbox on Kentucky soil again, all these years later. So Made in Hawaii just came out and you can buy it on CD Baby.
By my calculation, Jeff Dahl turns 62 years old this July. He’s basically an 80s & 90s indie punk rock artist and this entire genre of music now falls under the “Dad rock” umbrella, and much of it has also become thematic in its Dad rock as well. Take the brilliant last Michael Monroe album, “Blackout States” or the last several albums by ex-Government Cheese guitarist Tommy Womack. So these guys are all writing memoir books now, and writing songs that reflect on the past. CD Baby notes says this of Made in Hawaii: “This new album was written as little vignettes about Jeff growing up and coming of age in the late 60s and early 70s in Hawaii. Expect a few surprises… Enjoy…”
Anyway, this album is his first in 8 years, since Back to Monkey City was released by the now-defunct Steel Cage Records in Philly, and given a brief but positive review by David Fricke in Rolling Stone Magazine (which I imagine I’ve mentioned in an earlier post). It’s impossible to be unbiased, because Monkey City stands, to this day, as the only album I ever played bass on that I’m 100% happy with the way it turned out and have no complaints.
So far, I’ve only had a cursory listen of every track on “Made in Hawaii”. Basically there are two different Jeff Dahl eras: Up to the late 90s, more distortion on the guitars and backing bands. After the late 90s, he backed off the distortion and played all the instruments on his albums himself (for the most part, aside from Back to Monkey City and guest appearances here and there) I always preferred the albums where he used rehearsed bands to the completely solo albums and this one is a compromise in that way. Most of the drums were done by recording engineer Sam Bradley at Sonic Sculpture Studio in Hilo, Hawaii. Jeff plays guitar and bass. Actually the bass sounds really good on this too. Picked bass, a lot of basic rock n roll walking. I thought outsourcing the drums at least still gives the album a “band vibe”.
I’ll listen more this week.
Also, if someone happens to be on the page because they are interested in Jeff Dahl music, I want to recommend the book The Smell of Death by former Jeff Dahl bassplayer & journalist Bruce Duff. Although Jeff feels the book is “Bruce’s opinion” and doesn’t seem to be crazy about it as much, it’s a really enjoyable memoir about touring the punk dives of Europe in the 90s. At times, the book isn’t flattering to Jeff or others. My advice: Keep in mind that touring is a bitch, people get well past the point of being polite to each other, understand this is Bruce’s point of view and probably says as much about Bruce as it does about anyone else, and enjoy the read.
Deng Ming-Dao on Imbalance:
I’ll start with the short poem.
Diet, mind, conditions
Hold the possibility of correction.
He says “whenever you feel out of sorts, or cannot sleep, or find it hard to work and think, you are separated from Tao.”
If so, ask three questions:
- Am I eating right?
- Is my mind tamed?
- Is my world safe?
Deng Ming-Dao emphasizes the proper use of food, saying that it is far superior to medicine. I am presently feeling “out of sorts”, although not nearly as bad as in the past. Diet is improving. I’ve eliminated daily booze and cigarettes from my diet, but I’m still finding myself reaching for frozen processed foods out of convenience due to lack of time brought about by long hours at work. I’m not always resisting the temptation for vending machine junk food and carbonated sugary drinks either.
Is your mind tamed? That’s a great question. I have a very active mind. You’ve no doubt hear the (presumably Asian) proverb: ‘The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.’ The mind has its own “interests, habits, and excesses”.
I’m prone to ALL of this on a pretty regular basis.
The third question encompasses environment. “To cope with this, gain as much control over your environment as possible. Keep your home a haven, have control over your work place, and be independent enough to face emergencies.”
For me, this is probably the most important entry of 365 Tao I needed to hear. That really breaks down balance in 3 steps for you. Keep a good diet. Tame your mind. Keep a safe environment.
I am improving in all three areas, getting much closer to balance with Tao than before. My diet has improved, but is far off from perfect. It is mostly about conquering some temptations and cravings. I struggle with mindfulness all the time. Environment: My home has become less chaotic and disordered, but is not perfect. I am working overtime to make some savings goals to be able to deal with emergencies that arise. This is a long term project to create balance. I’m not even restoring balance since I’ve never had it in the first place. From there things go out of balance from time to time and these three steps will bring you back.
Daily Stoic: What’s Better Left Unsaid
Today, Holiday quotes Plutarch discussing Cato the Younger, and the entry is about thinking before you speak or act. Instead, think over it. Are you reacting emotionally, selfishly, ignorantly, or prematurely? I really don’t want to make this blog political in any way, but former president Obama and current president Donald Trump come to mind here. Trump would seem to blurt out statements without fact checking them first, make arrogant boasts, and react emotionally. Obama was a much more Stoic president. It is important to note that this has nothing to do with the issues and their positions, but Obama was a much more stoic president than Trump. The fact that I notice this “flaw” about Trump says that I also have this flaw in myself. If you are on Facebook, you may notice people lash out at Trump in the same way that Trump behaves himself.
“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”
I’m off to improve my diet, mind, and environment. Have a great Wednesday.