I Fought the Law. No. I Brought the Law?

Begin the (legal) beguine.

Goin’ down to Centre Street today, in bustling downtown Manhattan, for the first day of Grand Jury duty. Keeping my mind on the positive parts:
–It’s great to be up so early. Really. To see the morning light, the pink sky.
–They have great Vietnamese food down around Centre Street.
–I take the J train to get there. I almost never have a reason to take the J train–a train of great loneliness, and mystery.
Fingers crossed that it’ll be an adventure, not a drag.Or at least equal parts adventure and drag.
It’s gonna be all narcotics cases. How funny is that?

Harvard Law School Fed Me a Steak.

A rib-eye, in fact.

I flew up to Boston for the Signal/Noise conference, put on by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School. I was interviewed by Eric Hellweg at 9:15 in the morning–on sampling, on recording digitally, on the basic chordal structures that underlie all Western music (i.e., I played ‘em “Louie Louie” and “Wild Thing” and a bunch of other tunes with that precise same riff). I had a blast, and was gratified that this stuff–a lot of which I feared would seem really pedantic–was news to the law students, and the next couple of panels kept referencing our presentation.
I was supposed to fly back that afternoon, but I changed my ticket and watched the whole thing. Fascinating to see these kind of questions filtered through legalese, and legal minds. And some of the speakers blew my mind:
Walter McDonough, a lawyer who founded the Future of Music Coalition; a brilliant, fiery Boston Irish guy, just hilarious and fascinating.
I expected him to be the usual kind of infuriating, non-pro-artist-understanding, “The web will free copyrights for everybody, yay!” kind of a dude, but he was nothing of the sort. In fact, when the webmaster for Beatallica (a live band that flawlessly mashes-up the Beatles and Metallica–their singer, nom de guerre James Lennfield, entertained us at dinner with his spot-on Hetfield) went off on that fluffy let’s-free-the-art rap, saying that Beatallica should be allowed to exist because they “promote the Beatles,” McDonough interjected sharply, “I think the Beatles sold a couple of records before you started ‘promoting’ them.”
A presentation on Machinima, an art form in which movies are made using videogames not intended for filmmaking. Check ‘em out: machinima.org. He showed us movies made with Halo, the Sims, etc.
Lawrence Ferrara, a lawyer who’s consulted for hip-hop artists, and described these evil genius forensic uses of ProTools to unearth buried illegal samples.
Paul Hoffert, an incredibly engaging mathematician and composer from Toronto, with whom I sat at dinner; a guy who expressed in the most articulate way I’ve ever heard the moral/economic line an artist has to walk in terms of appropriation, sampling, etc.
William Alford, who wrote a gorgeously titled book called To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property in Chinese Civilization.
John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist and old-guard of internet philosophers, who admitted, astonishingly, misgivings about free downloads of Dead recordings (who’s going to download them from iTunes when they’re available, the exact same recordings, of the exact same quality, for free on archive.org?). So ballsy of the guy to publicly speak of his questioning his own attitudes.
And a bunch of others. I was jazzed all day.

I Bought a Man Sack.

…or, as it is sometimes (and less elegantly) known, a murse.

Look, I’ve just gotten too much shit. I have big fat headphones. Camera. Journal. And, of all things, lately I’ve been reading. !!!
Mason Jennings was in town yesterday–strangely, playing on a bill at Southpaw with my new drummer, Pete McNeal, who was backing Inara George–and I met him at his hotel, a tatty, ornate, century-old place near Herald Square. There was a tour group of British teens idling in the lobby, jet-lagged-ly.
We took the R train down to Union Square and hung out, watching the skaters in the sunlight (first warm day in April), talking about music and the musician’s life, and this meditation practice that he hipped me to. I took a course in it last week, and have been enjoying the hell out of it–I’ve tried to meditate in the past, and I start fidgeting like a mofe before two minutes have passed–using this practice, I do twenty minutes twice a day and it’s a snap.
The language and the nature of the practice, too, is good for me: it suits my nature as a kind of grumpy, omnivorous spiritual dilettante.
I’ve had some borderline-psychedelic experiences with it–I guess I entered a hypnogogic kind of pre-sleep state–but mostly it’s just a chillaxed kind of inner journey situation. I’ve been seeking out adventurous places to meditate–I did in St. Patrick’s cathedral the other day, as parishoners grieving the Pope filed in to pray before a large portrait on an easel. There was a woman unwrapping candy in the pew behind me–that was a drag. Otherwise it was wonderful.
Yesterday I meditated in St. Peter’s, that modernistic wooden-minimalist Lutheran church on Lexington and 54th. They wouldn’t let me in the main sanctuary, as there was a 12-year-old organ prodigy rocking the gigantic pipe organ. I watched him from the balcony a little–his bookbag on the floor beside him–and then went and meditated in a side chapel.
Jewish readers–can you tell me something about synogogues? Firstly, I’ve never been in one, and want to go. Secondly, I just want to increase my selection of meditation venues. Can a lapsed Lutheran just walk into one and take a seat?

The Fool Reconsidered.

You know, in the April Fool’s email, when I said Judas Priest’s British Steel was one of the great albums of the 80s, I really meant it. However. I was joking when I said it was better than Remain in Light.


Look. “La La” by Ashlee Simpson is really awesome. It’s a bad time to be Ashlee Simpson at this particular moment in history. But the tune is fantastic; like a great AC/DC song. Really. I can’t stop listening to it, along with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” and Amerie’s “1 Thing.”
Look. Look.

People Are Bad.

I flew down to Asheville, NC, yesterday, and cut a couple songs with Galactic.

It was for Radio Bonnaroo; I left my house at seven a.m., flew to Asheville, went to the Orange Peel, napped in the dressing room, drank coffee, ate at the Laughing Seed, and then we cut “The Gambler” and “People Are Bad.” I left the club at 8, was on a plane at 9, and walked back in my door in New York at 1 am. I’m exhausted, but how cool?
In the airport in Charlotte, between connecting flights, I ate a BBQ pork sandwich. It was a sandwich of above-airport quality. Ditto the hush puppies and green beans. The plate was served with a deep fried pickle–!!