Burning Man 'officially' began right around the time I turned 30. I had just begun my own journey into a desert. One bereft of color, art, diversity and quiet time to connect with the spirit world. In fact I was neck-deep in fundamentalist, charismatic "christianity"...probably as far away from the light as I have ever gotten. By 1990, when the move to Black Rock City on the Playa started, I was living in the 4th circle of Hell in Daytona Beach. Forced back into working full-time while raising a 6 year old, there was no time or money for arts or nurturing my inner hippie. I'd been separated from the LGBT community by a homophobic spouse and remnants of the mind-games of the previously mentioned religious group. California wasn't just another state, not even a different country...a whole different planet, completely foreign to me.
My first knowledge of the annual gathering of the tribes on the dry lake-bed in Nevada came 19 years into its existence. By then I was five years into the chapter of my life that saw the arts, colors and light return to my life. Things about the event really spoke to me. "Radical individualism". Complete counter-culture. Courageous art. Unbridled collaboration. Deep and genuine trust. All races, creeds, genders, sexualities, rich, poor, painters, sculptors, writers, dancers, musicians, everyone. All peacefully gathered to revel in life unrestricted. This was what had happened to the few true hippies still left, the ones that hadn't let me down.
Sadly, the indoctrination and brainwashing by the Powers That Be (the uber-wealthy, corporate controllers) have done a great deal of damage creating a mindless flock. I'm not saying that young adults are not going to experiment, are not going to push back and swim against the tide but they do that as a herd now too. I started questioning changes I was seeing in Burning Man just as quickly as I discovered the gathering. By this year, as with friends who are veteran Burners, I am completely disillusioned and have no urge to ever attend. "The Man", the societal norm, and commercialism have sunk their ugly claws into the festival and now it's name sake has become "The Man" that hippies sought to destroy fifty years ago.
Today Burning Man is mostly about disposable art much of which is set to the torch at some point during the six-days of BRC. Yesterday I saw a photograph of one sculpture being immolated in huge orange balls of flame that rendered thick black smoke. What is the message here from a people who claim to be all about saving Mother Earth? How is this environmentally responsible? Other works leave huge carbon footprints being brought in by pollutant belching diesel flatbeds then disassembled and apparently delivered to some scrapyard after 'the burn' as they are never re-erected away from the Playa. I wholly understand the Tibetan monks and their chalk/sand mandelas to teach that beauty and life are not permanent but they are made from natural materials and dyes and can be swept away and return to the earth. However, two semi's welded together? A great feat of art and engineering but what happened to these two trucks after Burning Man? After the festival in 2011, crews reported that the temple had burned so hot that there was virtually nothing left...no ash, no metal hardware shards, nothing. What does that say about the vapors of that pyre? I'm thinking there was more than one toxic compound sent onto the wind that night.
What was once a gathering of people who were seeking their unique individuality who sometimes used drugs to reach a "higher consciousness" has turned into a whole lot of young adults seeing how high they can get as they rave 24-7 and completely miss the point of the whole thing. Then there are all the RVs and travel trailers. How does one learn radical survivalism if they bring their house and all the amenities with them? Post festival, organizers are now saddled with a giant mess as more and more attendees come to party and don't heed the rule "of leaving the Playa the way you found it". Businesses and homes along the exit route deal with dumpsters and trashcans overflowing with Burning Man waste from people too lazy to schlep it home and properly recycle and dispose of it. The fragile desert is also subjected to the abuse of a makeshift airport. How hippie is it to fly in, live in a rented RV that was delivered to one's camp complete with a/c and fly back out? Let someone else take care of removing said RV, pumping the sewage tank, taking out the trash, and let the Rangers take care of rounding up the bicycles you left behind.
And then came the final straw...THE INTERNET! What really triggered this blog was a Twitter post by Instagram to come look at photos from Burning Man 2014. Immediate thought? People are posting photos from the Playa to Instagram. This means they have access to the Internet which in turn says that either somehow the organizers are providing wifi or deep in the desert of Nevada, there is actually cell service. Then comes the thought...why did you bring your phone to Burning Man? Isn't this supposed to be about disconnecting from the establishment? The organizers have radios in case of emergencies. There are also local law enforcement officers on site. State police are prevalent along entrance and exit routes to help those who breakdown. Why do you have your cell phone? You are now tapped into some big corporation that is providing your service. You have access to other companies advertising. You're using social networks to plan your activities instead of being gutsy enough to actually talk to other attendees and maybe make some new friends. You are putting all kinds of money in the pockets of "the 1%" who you are trying to separate yourself from even if just for a few days. This just feels like the final round that has brought the original intent of Burning Man down.
No, Burning Man is just another product of the Establishment. It is a make-believe place where people go to "rebel" for six days then go back to being their usual asshole, entitled selves. Oh wait! They did that while they were there too. Shooting selfies with their boobs out, totally wasted on E looking for the next DJ set to party at. The core tribes, the genuine artists and free-thinkers, fight for tickets to the event they started. The groups that meet up to decompress are very small, a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands who populated Black Rock City.
It will be interesting to see how tribal gatherings will evolve or if they will. Is humanity just doomed to continue an existence of segregation, war, competition, violence and indoctrination. Will the many continue to allow themselves to be herded by the few? Will the tiny little pockets of counter-cultures remain off the radar and only maintain true peace on a small scale? Feel free to chime in on this. And you can disagree even vehemently. Please, give me real reasons to think otherwise. Give me real hope. Or start a dialogue that actually sparks progress toward community building on a large scale. Give me hope that we truly are in the early stages of labor to birth the New Age.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
After three long years and an even longer spiritual and emotional journey, Cassidy Haley has finally released his album, The Lovers. As one of the original inspirations for this blog, it was only made sense to reconnect with him and allow him to tell more of his and this record's story.
So let me start with a question that is the result of getting to finally talk to and get to know Dream Rockwell. She mentioned that she had reconnected with you in the Fall of 2012. At that time you had just completed a spiritual seclusion. What triggered it and what was the result? How much of the experience is responsible for the completion of The Lovers and are there songs on the album that came out of it?
It was triggered by a deep healing that took place when I began my relationship with the love of my life, Jillian Ann. When we began dating (dating again actually, we had been lovers in previous years) I was still reeling from a really bad breakup that truly left me devastated. She helped me pick up the pieces of my life and find myself again. I started meditating and shaved my head and really dissected what made me tick and what patterns I was creating out of my life. For all the personal growth work I had done previously, this time period took me ever so much deeper. I started seeing a shaman, who helped me sort out so much internal stuff and did some powerful 10 day silent meditation retreat. Jillian and I have such a deep bond and went through so much together as we really discovered all the deepest darkest parts of each other. All of this really took me into a deep seclusion. Regarding The Lovers, when I started to really understand who I was and what I was doing here I had to take stock of what I had created. I threw out some songs that didn't fit me anymore and added some songs that really fit where I am at in my life. The first half of the album deals with my breakup and the second half deals with the love and connecting Iine was creating with Jillian. I basically started over at that point and re-recorded all the songs and remixed them. so I really made the album twice.
From the beginning this album has pulled inspiration from the Tarot, spiritual and emotional balance. Talk a little more about the final product and these ideals.
I would say that while tarot has inspired me, what I am really expressing are universal archetypes. From the day I released my first EP, Little Boys and Dinosaurs, I had the vision for all my albums to follow. First THE FOOL, then THE LOVERS..and there are more to follow. For me, art has always carried a powerful level of manifestation. I write, paint, and sing that which I am working on..or seeking in my life, and from there it manifests in the world. For THE LOVERS, it was as much about the different aspects of myself as it was about my relationship to others.
Prophetically, I met the girl of my dreams while making it and could not be happier. The tag line for the album is "our true nature is to love that which opposes us" which to me means the duality inside us as well as the duality we experience in relationship. The "other" is something we are always measuring ourselves against. To truly love someone you have to love all of them, and that is the nature of love itself. Because when we love someone even with all their triggers and trauma and insecurities, it gives us permission to truly love all of those things in ourselves, which is what really makes someone unstoppable. and thus leads to my next album..THE HERO.
How does or will fashion, performance, visual arts and music all come together with The Lovers?
That remains to be seen. Jillian and I have our project, RITUAL (www.makelifearitual.com) which encompasses all those things. We will be releasing our first single under the name "Ritual" later this spring. In terms of fashion and performance we will be focusing our main energy on that. Mainly because we want to spend our time together. and if we focused on solo projects we may not be able to travel as much together, so we started a band.
For want of a better phrase, is this a concept album? Is there a definitive beginning, middle and conclusion?
Definitely. It starts with the struggle of a relationship and ends with the triumph of finally accepting and loving "the other". Technically, the first four songs are about my breakup and the last four songs are about current relationship. The process of one to the other was detailed in the journey of this album. For instance, The first Valentines Day I spent with Jillian she found a painting I had done..a self-portrait that my ex-boyfriend had literally stabbed in the heart before he left. He ripped a huge hole right through the heart of the character I had painted. Later I went back and painted blood dripping from the heart and left it hanging on the wall as some sort of reminder I suppose. But on that Valentines Day, it literally flew off the wall and hit her on the head. She was like "what is going on with this painting?" after I told her, we decided to do a ritual. we took the painting up to my roof and literally burned it. I let go of so much pain that night. It was a ritual of cleansing. When we got back downstairs I wrote the song "Never Again" which is the second song on the album. Each of these songs has an equally in-depth story to it and I've placed them just so to illustrate the journey. My journey of THE LOVERS.
Can we expect more great music videos from these tracks?
I hope so! that depends entirely on how far it reaches. I spent every dime i could on this album (way beyond the money i raised through Kickstarter in 2011) and so now I am just going to see what happens and respond. I have visions for videos for all these songs...but I will have to let fate decide about which song actually gets made into a video. We do have an epic music video planned for "Ritual" we will be shooting in the next few months..I cant wait.
Feel free to speak at length about anything else that went into this project that I haven't asked.
Well I guess I would say that it feels so weird to finally be done with it. The last 2.5 years of my life have always been consumed with this album. From the day I raised 16,000 dollars for my Kickstarter campaign I was forever changed. Raising that much money, while not a lot to some artists, was a huge deal to me and gave me the biggest kick in the ass to make this album as good as it could be. I wrote and re-wrote each song and spent countless hours obsessing over every track. Now, its done. I am so proud of this album, more than anything I have ever done. Jillian helped me co-produce and added piano and strings and even sang background on a few tracks. which is just so lovely to me..creating art with the one you love is priceless..I highly recommend it.
You can purchase The Lovers and learn more about Cassidy Haley at www.cassidyhaley.com
Thursday, February 13, 2014
At Coachella 2014, Lucent
Dossier Experience will bring their biggest show yet to the Gobi stage night, in addition to spell-bounding performances at The Do LaB stage for their 10th year in a row! Known for their unique fusion of tantalizing dance, aerial maneuvers, and heart throbbing electronic music, Lucent Dossier is set for another year of high impact performance.
Having just completed their “Solstice of Dreamers Tour” and teaming up with Cirque Du Soleil for their premiere of “Totem” in Los Angeles, Lucent Dossier has an upcoming bicoastal Valentine stint in LA and New York, and a great festival season ahead with Coachella Music Festival, Lightning in a Bottle Festival on , and more.
Learn more about Lucent Dossier
Solidifying its position as the premiere boutique festival in California (and likely the entire country) Lightning in a Bottle music and arts festival shows why they simply can't be outdone.
The video shares both dimensions of what makes this festival special. Both yin and yang are on display as viewers get warmed up only to be dropped into a magical land of sensory overload.
This video features some of last year's performers including Purity Ring, NicolasJaar, Rusko,Griz,
Tycho, Lucent Dossier Experience, Emancipator, Paper Diamond, Panty Raid, Lee Burridge, and Herbert Bail Orchestra while also providing voice to the elders and children of this beautiful festival experience.
The 2014 Lightning in a Bottle will take place at the San Antonio Recreation Area in Bradley, CA on Memorial Day weekend . Lake San Antonio sits almost perfectly in between Los Angeles and San Francisco in the beautiful Monterrey County (Google Maps).
Rush-N-Get-Em tickets available on LiB website, so warm up those fingers because these bad boys are gonna go fast! And stay tuned for the lineup announcement in a few weeks.for 24 hrs, over on the
*Produced by The Do LaB, Lighting in a Bottle is known for featuring electronic music pioneers, in addition to featuring groundbreaking transformative speakers and education, world-class yoga classes, and workshops surrounding dance, sustainability, permaculture, and healing arts.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
With the release of the new EP Aviation, lead-in to Semi Precious Weapons' third studio album coming in April, I had the opportunity to interview frontman Justin Tranter. Justin crosses over between the Chicago, NY and L.A. tribes along with being part of the population of the capital of Boston's arts community, Berklee College of Music. Prior to attaining his music degree in three years, he was a student of the Chicago Academy for The Arts. It is quite an impressive pedigree. It is especially impressive for any glam rocker. Justin is also a jeweler and is owner of Fetty jewelry company in Brooklyn.
The conversation started with my three signature questions:
TTOA: All artists create in more than one medium. What other arts do you create it?
JT: All of us in the band create different things. Cole is a great visual artist and DJ. Stevy is an amazing experimental film maker. Dan produces music and makes beats pretty much all day. I write songs for many artists besides SPW as well as make jewelry.
TTOA: What are you go-to arts to unwind, purge, find inspiration, or mourn.
JT: Well, I'm a big fan of binge watching TV shows. But mainly I write songs. I write normally 6 days a week, if not 7. Songs are my favorite thing in the world.
TTOA: Finally - what is the one art you positively suck at but wish you didn't?
JT: Drawing. I really wish I could draw. And the art of language. I've tried to learn many other languages, and fail every time.
TTOA: You are part the arts communities in L.A., NY and Chicago but you are also a member of a tribe not talked about much on this blog or in the media in general. Tell me a little about the Boston arts community.
JT: The Boston Arts community is a big ol' college campus, segregated school by school. But the times when bands were making something special enough for it to reach other schools it felt pretty awesome. There was this band Moonraker that was kids from Berklee and BU, and they were so good that the whole city knew them. I remember going to those shows and thinking it was coolest thing I'd ever seen.
TTOA: Does having an arts education help or hinder in the creation process, specifically having an understanding of music theory especially when working pop, dance electronica and glam rock? Do you feel that once you have the basic building blocks is it easier to experiment..."the rules are there are no rules"? Is there a point where academic arts education should stop and artists should just be encouraged to go with their guts?
JT: I think that playing music and writing songs is something that has to come natural to someone. But after the initial spark, learning more about what you are doing and the history of what you are doing can only help you. However the one danger is that a lot of musicians then start making music from an academic point of view, not from an emotional point of view. Which I know I was guilty of for a while.
TTOA: Recently I did a feature piece for FourCulture on Sutan Amrull and an interview for The Tribes with Rahab. With both of them I talked about androgyny as a part of their body, mind and spirit. Tell me about that side of you.
JT: I have just had a very strong feminine side to my personality since as long as I can remember and I have always loved that side of me. I truly believe there is something beautiful about having who you are on the inside be reflected on the outside.
TTOA: Two other jewelers I have connected with from the tribe are Joshua Titchcosky and Shannon Shiang. Are you familiar with either of them and/or their work?
JT: I am not. But I will look them up right now! When it comes to jewelry I'm obsessed with the classics, but there are some modern day designers I worship like Pamela Love.
TTOA: Fashion plays a big role for you. Who are your favorite new designers? If given the opportunity - what house would you like to design for? Whose runway show would you like to walk for?
JT: There is a new designer out of New York named Jake Oliver that is blowing my mind. I would love the chance to do some sort of collaboration with him. Obviously anything Karl Lagerfeld is involved in I would happily remove a leg or two to be a part of. And Gareth Pugh is clearly having direct conversations with the goddess that I wouldn't mind eavesdropping on.
TTOA: Do the arts in general have a responsibility to give a voice to the fight and take their place in political, social and cultural revolutions? Do you feel that people in positions of power/controlled feel threatened by artists? Why?
JT: I feel like if people are telling their honest story in whatever art form it is, it will have political and social effects on the world. Because the more specific you are as an artist, the more universal your story becomes. Thats at least the path I'm choosing to take, and I hope my story effects people in whatever way it's suppose to.