Steaming Hot Cup of Cognitive Dissonance
While I was off feeling superior and sipping red wine in europe, firmly convinced that the American south was a cultural wasteland populated by bigots, they went and elected a black president and developed great taste in music. Believe it. In Nashville, Tennessee, I witnessed 4k peeps in a hypnotized rutting trance to good beats. But we have to consider which part is the music and which part is the cult of personality around the DJ behind them, because Bassnectar, aka Lorin Ashton, has smartly hijacked the fanatical crowds of the jam-band scene. Girls swoon, guys yearn to bump fists with him,� they all scream and yell as if he were the Beatles. The fans fly or drive from distant cities, some even follow his tour like a la Grateful Dead. Lucky me, I got the opening slot for about ten dates (deeps thanks for the invitation!). It was an unlikely place to find myself, an artist deep usually in the margins of the anglo music business, dead center of an exploding American popular culture. It felt like I'd parachuted in from another civilization: a culture that may be older and� wiser, but also hidebound and phlegmatic. This was more dynamic than not only Europe, but also the US coastal hipster mire. The Do's and Don'ts of Vice magazine were not heeded there; fixie bikes and ironic mustaches haven't taken hold. The fairer half of this mob looked like Daisy Duke at a rave. The menfolk mostly Joe college dudes, a sea of backwards ball-caps. At first I was terrified, they looked just like the chaps who beat the shit out of me during my few miserable teenage years in Oklahoma. But instead of fists in my face it was fists in the air. This was the irony- the world spins, places change, culture flourishes in unexpected places.... Places. The south is full of tiny livable oases, cute old clapboard or brick towns as old as dixie, locally-owned shops and people who smile. But each oasis is surrounded by a thick ring of hell, an evil moat of strip malls, tire shops, highway overpasses, and parking lots. These soul-destroying suburban landscapes seem built as if the city planners & architects were a committee of sentient cars, not human beings.... Human beings. They are largely classified as black or white down south.� Seems like it'd be simpler than a place like Barcelona, which crams together Catalans, Pakistanis, Moroccans, Spaniards, South Americans, and white euro riffraff�. but it ain't. There is a hangover of racial injustice to big to be written about in this blog. It extends into every visible detail of life, from the color composition of concert audiences (ouch!) to the razor-sharp division of labor. It is a situation so omnipresent that it's difficult not to quickly become numb or complicit. There were many unexpected pleasures on the trip, from Bluegrass music in the honky-tonks of Nashville to the second-line brass bands on the streets of of New Orleans, the beautiful urban trees and gardens, and the surprising amount of wild forests and swamps. The US is one of the few nations increasing it's forest coverage every year, as the population shifts urban and rural land is abandonded, mother nature repo's her property. I'm digesting this big dose of americana while sitting on a balcony overlooking a ramshackle of sunset-tinted roofs spilling towards the sea, on St. Denis, Reunion Island. If you own own a map that is to scale, Reunion will figure as a dot, not� a shape, in the ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius. Last night I performed in a festival here, the last stop of a two-month tour. Strangely enough it felt like a more typical Filastine gig. Below are some fotos of things I did along the way. From the streets of Hamburg with a multi-channel pirate-radio bike enabled soundswarm,� stops in Berlin, Holland, Burning Man, a string of left coast gigs and camping, the liquidation of my old life in the Seattle, the surprising southern tour w/ Bassnectar, a mad three day roadtrip into the new mexican desert, directly to the remotest part of the Indian Ocean. Time to decelerate. At just this moment the azan (muslim call to prayer) is echoing across the valley. Allah o akbar. Not sure if god is great, but life certainly is.