The Spring Festival

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Kung Hei Fat Choy! Yesterday, February 19th on the Western Gregorian calendar, marked the official New Year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.  In Chinese communities worldwide, the next fifteen days will be filled with celebration, ritual, feasts and family, all centered around the concept of rebirth, regeneration, and renewed prosperity.

The ancient beginnings of this observance and celebration are rooted in the Chinese mythologies of the Nian.  A lion-like beast residing under the sea and in the mountains, the Nian would come out of hiding in the early Spring to feast and forage on villagers, livestock, and crops, his tastes usually suited to small children when possible.  The people of the villages began placing food offerings outside their homes at the beginning of their lunar calendar, in hopes their sacrifices would satiate the beast.

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One year, though, a villager was visited by a god, who told him the Nian’s weaknesses were loud sounds and the color red.  Hoping to keep the beast away entirely, villagers began decorating their homes with red lanterns and spring scrolls, as well as setting off firecrackers as an additional deterrent.  This effectively kept the Nian hidden from humanity and assured the village’s safety, and over time the precautions taken by the people grew into tradition.  In more modern times, this mythology and the Nian itself is represented in celebrations by the dancing lion, a recognizable part of Chinese New Year celebrations even to the uninitiated Westerner.

Celebrations and observances for the turn of the lunar year actually begin nearly a month prior to the actual start of the new year.  The Laba holiday, named for a traditional porridge served in conjunction with this observance, is celebrated on the eighth day of the lunar month prior to the new year.  It is intended as remembrance of an ancient winter solstice festival, and is held in honor of the gods.  For those who practice Buddhism, the Laba holiday coincides with Bodhi Day, which is an observance of the Buddha’s act of selfless ascetism and attainment of enlightenment.

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In the days immediately leading up to the New Year, all members of a family contribute to a thorough cleansing of the home, the intent of which is to sweep away the bad fortune of the previous year and make room for an influx of good luck and prosperity.  This cleansing involves the clearing and immolation of altars and tributes from the previous year, as well as a sending of the gods to report on the family to the Jade Emperor through the burning of effigies.

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The most important event leading up to Chinese New Year, and one that is likened to the Western traditions of Thanksgiving or Christmas, is celebrated on New Years Eve of the lunar calendar, and is known as Nian Ye Fan, the Reunion Dinner.  The dinner, which intends to reunite the entire family, consists of several traditional dishes, including a selection of meats, dumplings symbolic of wealth, and a glutinous cake meant to bring prosperity to the entire family.  Traditionally, families attend temples in the hours leading up to midnight to pray, however, in modern times, it is more customary to hold lavish celebrations with dancing and fireworks.

Immediately after midnight, in the very first hours of the New Year, celebrants first ensure that all malicious spirits and beings are scared away before opening the doors of their homes and selves, both literal and symbolic, to welcome the dieties of the heavens and earth.  Many people, especially Buddhists, fast or otherwise abstain from meat products, and refrain from killing any living thing.  It is also considered bad luck to use a broom, cutting utensils, or fire — so, it’s not only fortunate but in fact necessary that prior day’s celebrations involved large-scale cooking and cleaning.

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It is also customary for elder members of the family to present junior members with red envelopes containing cash and/or gifts of prosperity.  Business leaders often use this occasion to deliver workplace bonuses, as well.  This practice has led to adoption of one of several traditional phrases associated with the New Year’s celebrations: Kung Hei Fat Choy.

The rough translation? “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!”

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Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for more information on this colorful, historic, and catalytic holiday observance, and for detail on the specific celebrations and their mythological symbolism over the next fifteen days of Chinese New Year!  Have a personal story about or connection with this holiday, or just some related thoughts to share?  Sound off in the comments!

For a completely unrelated but brilliant blog written by an Asian man, please visit Harsh Reality!  (I really only linked to the Opinionated Man for my own selfish and self-serving reasons, but read his blog anyways. It is really fuckin’ good.)

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Catastrophic Purge of Torment Into Oblivion: The Body & Thou Lay Burden Upon Existence

The Body Thou Hatred Collab CD Cover

I awoke this morning with a powerful craving for fresh vinyl. I knew not why; I knew not for which specific piece of pressed wax I was searching. I knew only that there was The Calling, and that I needed to, once again, comb through my personal back-catalogue of music and film, identify some long-suffering hangers-on with which I could be convinced to part, and run that shit on down to the local Zia Records. STAT. This was a mission from the gods, that much was certain — but WHICH ONES?!

As it would turn out, the answer to that question had been heralded by the semi-apocalyptic swath of late winter/early spring storm weather to blanket the landscape of our scattered and scarred homelands. For our purposes here in SoAz, that storm manifested itself in a weighted, churning torrent of DOOM clouds, oppressive blankets of humidity, and the merciless, cleansing deluge brought down in tears from the heavens. So. Much. GLOOM. The relatively sunny disposition of the morning which greeted me this day would belie the terrible discovery I was soon to make.

Though guided by the hand of Beelzebub himself, no sooner had I dropped of my trade items to be reviewed and processed than I found myself standing before the looming magnificence of Zia Oracle’s “New Vinyl” stand. There she was, the Virgin Mother of our Megalomaniacal Saviour Herself, Mary “Joe’s Girl” Christ, in stunning portraiture. In one of those innumerable moments of chance and destiny, I nearly turned away disinterested to go peruse some dusty, forgotten corner of the used albums section, when a loathsome, sickly feeling in the very cockles of my loins urged me to halt.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Front Cover

I had missed something.

There, in the upper left-hand corner of the LP I had glazed over cursorily, just above the Blessed Mother’s somber profile, an unassuming annular adornment.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Sticker

The Body
Thou
You, Who I Have Always Hated
Thrill Jockey

MOTHER OF GOD.


TheBody-Band

Since their accursed formation in 1999, Portland by-way-of Boston experimental DOOM-sludge titans The Body have been steady straight dropping split LPs, collaborations, EPs, and full-lengths at a frighteningly manic pace, with no less than four massively dense albums released since the dawn of 2014 alone. It was late Summer 2014 that I first became aware of the terrifying, savagely introspective, soul-scarring music that heavily-armed duo Chip King and Lee Buford create. I was researching several bands unknown to me in preparation for an upcoming weekend of riffage and torment at Tucson’s own premier extreme metal festival, Southwest Terror Fest. My expectations were appropriately heightened by the information I had gleaned from online articles concerning the corrosive brand of punishment offered by the impossibly weighty pair, and I have no problem admitting that I was physically and psychologically terrified as I pressed play on that first track.

My expectations were NOT disappointed.

The Body’s primary goal as evidenced by the music they create would appear to be complete psychological catharsis and cleansing through anguish. Vocalist/guitarist Chip King does not “sing” or “scream” in any of the traditional metal, or otherwise musical, senses. Instead, he emits desperate, agonizing wails like those of a feral, tortured beast in the final, bloody throes of a savage death. After looping his guitar through an intricately arranged network of sample machines, processors, and vintage Sunn amps, the final product emitted from his monolithic stack of speakers is the biting, burdensome wall of tone and distortion of metal fragmented, deconstructed, pounded unrecognizable, and then reassembled as something wholly new and terrible. Drummer Lee Buford rises to the task of not only matching but accentuating this indescribably dense patchwork of misery and toil by pounding his percussives with the calculated ferocity of an ironworker forging weaponry from the very molten core of existence. Every seismic beat serves to propel the already catastrophic purge of metallic fury into utter oblivion.

Thou band performing live

I am, admittedly and unfortunately, quite a bit less versed in the history and lore of Southern-Fried, NOLA-bred warlords of DOOM, Thou. This is an oversight that will most assuredly be remedied post-haste. However, hailing from the birthplace of such legendary names in the world of miserable, loathsome, down-tuned riff-laden DOOM-sludge as EYEHATEGOD, Crowbar, Soilent Green, and Goatwhore, the scornful bastards that make up this modern-day harbinger of destruction have clearly paid attention in class, and have most assuredly benefited from rolling up and smoking their homework. Similar to their comrades in Hatred, Thou is likewise prone to a dizzying pace of sonic proliferation, having put out an impressive assortment of DOOM-product since their 2005 inception to rival that of The Body.

Illustration by Megan Acosta, unceremoniously ripped from Meat Mead Metal!

Illustration by Megan Acosta, unceremoniously ripped from Meat Mead Metal!

The Body and Thou first came together in collaboration early last year on the deceptively titled Released from Love EP. This four track work was discreetly birthed into the world as a vinyl-only limited edition album, and is now being included with the digital and compact disc releases of You, Who I Have Always Hated for the first time in those formats. While not a necessary requirement for anyone approaching these two bands with fresh ears, Released does serve as an outstanding introductory work or companion piece to this new full-length. The remaining six hereto unreleased tracks that make up Hated stand fine enough on their own, but the immensely cathartic if exhausting experience will certainly leave any proper extreme metal aficionado parched for more, and Released will do well as a small but welcome offering to that void.

As for Hated itself. There is NONE heavier. Nearly as soon as my turntable stylus touched down between the freshly-pressed grooves of side one, I was overcome with the crushing, monolithic wall of leaden sound that is “Her Strongholds Unvanquishable.” FUCK SAKES. My chest hurts, and I can’t BREATHE… While the four tracks on Released certainly provided worthy evidence of the terrible power at hand through the unity of these two savage forces, it is clear that their horrifying tools of battery were honed to maximum barbaric supremacy for this record.

The Body Thou Hatred Full Artwork

From the very beginning, it is evident that the collaborative energy conjured by the unity of these two forces of subjugation serves to push both entities together into wholly new, more extreme, and ultimately more savage and unrestrained territory. The demon hordes called forth by Thou, in their sluggish, plodding might, at first may seem to overpower and bury the more atmospheric, expansive framework for which The Body is known. To assume this would be a mistake. More attuned ears will have no trouble hearing The Body’s maelstrom of nihilistic desperation weaving serpentine throughout the massively thunderous plodding surge set forth by Thou.

Throughout most of the album’s six gargantuan tracks, it is clear that the whole is by far greater than the sum of its parts. Even an initially stumbling foray into “covers” territory results in a transformative, revitalized section of creativity that does well to turn the original — NIN set-list mainstay “Terrible Lie” — into a new and largely unrecognizable permutation. While the re-imagining does not quite hit with the same sparse weight of “Coward” (the final track on Released) — itself a complex, forlorn retelling of an emotional bit of songwriting by the late Vic Chestnutt — it nevertheless gives the record a welcome draw-spring for the industrial metal undercurrent that The Body bring to their creations, smoothing the stitches between the two entities welded in hatred on Hatred.

Elsewhere, the two bands make effective use of dissonance and forced coalescence to accentuate their brand of torment on the thunderously severe “He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity,” and make up for the perhaps intentionally pretentious title of “Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity” by imbuing that track with the ruinous, cataclysmic rage of a vengeful scourge unloosed. By the time we reach the apocalyptic final refrain of “Lurking Fear,” we are so thoroughly pummeled, worn and threadbare, that whatever lurking beast to come next can only be greeted with welcoming arms — if only they had not already been torn from our torso and used to mercilessly beat us into submission.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Back Cover


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Obligatory VD Poem

Heart on a Plate

steady rollin broad side
on that Nicos trip
ridin clean past
lifelong wait times

compulsory twain shit

sneak a sneer and
raise the devils digit
just to keep me feelin good

see this grin spread
cross my face so wide
these hands free of your food

we off that food slangin kick
motherfucker
not a holiday too soon!

Busy Kitchen


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Musings, Volume I

Photograph by Roberts Birze at thescatteredimage

Photograph by Roberts Birze at thescatteredimage

— Some days, I have no idea that I am in a scornful, loathsome, misanthropic mood until I have to interact with other flesh bags. So, some days, when I have sense enough not to pursue flesh bag interactions, my scornful, loathsome, misanthropic mood might go largely or completely unnoticed. Actually, I think that happens all days, regardless.

— Why aren’t there any films or television series’ set in medieval and/or “fantastical” eras, but which focus not on the nobility, but rather the peasantry? Do we honestly accept the fallacy that the lowest class has no interesting or pertinent story or content to provide? Am I thinking too much into this?

— Something tells me that conspicuously and belligerently harassing innocent employees of a business, speciously accusing management of racism and bigotry, threatening physical harm to said employees, and refusing to leave the premises upon request is not the best way to go about inquiring on the status of your job application. But maybe I just do things differently than that dude.

— Winning an argument with willfully ignorant and obnoxious internet trolls is a lot like trying to clean up a Wal-Mart restroom by using the crusted feces covering the toilets to edit, correct, and contextualize the graffiti on the stalls. No one will appreciate you for your efforts, your earnest attempt to better the world and improve the collective intelligence of “our” species has proven fruitless, the shit and the tags remain ineffectually unaffected, halfway through you come to your senses and abandon your futile drudgery, powerless to explain why you undertook such distasteful and repulsive task in the first place, and in the end you are the one left exasperated and mired in filth.

— Sometimes I get Denis Leary rants and Henry Rollins rants confused in my head and have to willfully concentrate on separating and properly classifying said rants to their appropriate speakers. Even though they are clearly very different people, with often differing opinions as well as subject matter. I think my brain just likes to intake angry diatribes, process them through the filter of The Ryan, and then roll with that shit!

— Also, sometimes I find myself utterly convinced, or at least strongly suspecting, that I am already dead. In those moments, I am certain that one of the so-called “close calls” in my past actually in fact resulted in my demise, and everything I’ve experienced since then is merely the run-out electrical pulses of a dying organ, the muscle-memory result of synapses firing instinctually at neural receptors as the juice slowly bleeds out.

— Moments of schizophrenic uncertainty occasionally enter my mind, convincing me that certain people, places, events which I take to be real and existent are in fact products of my psyche. I’ve spent hours trying to persuade myself and prove that said people, places, events are genuine and tangible, and that it is ridiculous to think otherwise. You can see how this comic absurdity could easily turn cyclical and frustratingly oppressive.

— I like turtles.

The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

Do you find these musings to be annoying, pretentious, fallacious, condemnatory, shallow, atrocious, or simply moronic? Feel free to leave your praises and rebuttals in the comments!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Cobblestone Walkway of Broken Chords: Piecing Together Mine Own History of Music, Part I

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

"Sky Pilot" by Virgil C. Stephens, www.musicalpainter.com

“Sky Pilot” by Virgil C. Stephens, http://www.musicalpainter.com

Anyone who knows me for even a few hours is aware of how ingrained music is in my life. I wish I could say that I meant creating music, but that is another project, and perhaps a discussion for another day. Here, I speak of my lifelong passionate appreciation of, and sometimes fanatic devotion to, the music created by other artists. Lately, I’ve been pondering the paths upon which my musical quests have taken me. My own Mellifluous Origin Story, so to speak. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about my earliest memories as a “fan”, even before I could have known what that meant, and about the way in which my tastes and interests in music, artists, genres, movements grew and progressed. And perhaps, in the end, reflecting on where I’ve come from might give me some insight into where I’m headed, hmmm?

(Origin Stories, You Say?)

My oldest memory is one that has stuck with me since childhood, always stored closely away for quick recollection or quiet reflection. Appropriately so, too, since that is precisely what a memory is, and is For. Time and experience have inevitably shaped and even, with subtlety or not, perhaps altered this memory, but that is not what’s important. With reminiscences, truth and accuracy do well to fall by the wayside of emotion and essential substance.

In this memory — and thereby, of course, once upon a time in my life — I am a toddler, probably no more than two years of age. I am sitting in my car seat, which is resting on the floor of the living room of our first home, a modified mobile home with custom additions and improvements built by my Pops. A Redneck Mansion, if I may.

redneck mansion

It is strange for me to think back to moments like this and remember my parents when they were younger than I am now. Those people were KIDS! And they were raising a human! But not just any human.

Ryan Toddler

ME.

What happened?!  So many things...

What happened?! So many things…

But I digress…

I am sitting in my car seat, staring in awe and wonder at the thick, bowed-glass screen of our giant wooden box of a television. On the screen towers Billy Idol. Blonde, spiked hair. Signature snarl. Punk rock attitude. Rebel Yell. I was enthralled, and I, too, wanted MORE… But, being an infant, I had neither the means nor the experiential knowledge necessary to seek out and acquire more, and so my development fell by the wayside. (Two uses of that expression in one essay! Not bad…)


From here, for a time, I entered a period known as The Dark Ages… Not much is known of The Dark Ages, because it was so very Dark.

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

My next major development, as far as my fragmented memory can recall, would foreshadow a significant coexistence throughout my musical travels between music and film. By fourth grade, my lifelong buddy Brandon and I had met and bonded over mutual weirdness, a proclivity towards the fringe, and a shared obsession with Billy the Kid. At the time, of course, this primarily manifested in a fixation with the Young Guns movies, and by extension the Bon Jovi soundtrack for Young Guns II. As we blasted “Blaze of Glory” and “Dead or Alive” from that sweet, sweet early 90s boom box and fashioned “I’ll Make Ya Famous” pistol stamps and collages in art class, we were convinced that Bon Jovi and the like were the epitome of bad-ass rock musicians. Later, Denis Leary would set us straight, but for now, fuckin’ “Never Say Die” was where it was AT!


From there, Brandon and I discovered music through movies we, occasionally in ignorance and naivety, attached our sensibilities to, such as Cool World and Wayne’s World. (I sense a pattern?) Not all was for naught, however. Because, in the very least, those movies introduced us to David Bowie, Ministry, Queen, RHCP, Ugly Kid Joe, Alice Cooper…actually, the Wayne’s World soundtrack is still pretty fuckin’ good!

But I digress…

None of this could have prepared Brandon and I — or the world at large, as history would prove — for what would happen next in our euphonious lives. The early 90s found us and all of rock ‘n roll on the precipice of something that was never intended to indelibly mark and reshape culture and society the world over. But nothing significant or culturally affluential ever is. I speak, of course, about the tidal wave of social hysteria and upheaval that was Nirvana.

Nirvana

Growing up in the Kirtland/Fruitland area of San Juan County, New Mexico, Brandon and I — and everyone else, really — were always, by default, a bit behind the aesthetic curve from the “rest of the world.” Occasionally, one could discover something “new” and intriguing by accident, or one of us would bring something intriguing back from The City and share it with anyone with a curious disposition. (Did I forget to mention I was raised in a 1940s dust bowl? Just kidding.) But beyond fortune and chance, you really just had to know what to look for and laboriously seek it out. Fortunately, times have changed for the Four Corners and culture. I mean, they got a show from Lamb of God last year, for Christsakes…

(Not to mention MervDezert Banditz, Ill Methods, and any other local musical acts.  Leave a link for your group or project in the comments!)


I vaguely recall the circumstances by which we came to discover Kurt and the Boys. It had to have been sometime in 1992, and I would imagine this was a brisk fall morning before the daily drudgery of our first year in middle school. The cool, dry high desert breeze…the changing of the leaves…the wafting, charcoal scent of smoke as local drunken rednecks set their property on fire doing “landscaping”…Brandon, skinny bean pole of a boy, bristling with frenetic energy, shoving a CD into my stiff, icy fingers. “Hey dude, my sister listens to this. Check it out!”

Subtlety.

Subtlety.

On the cover, bathed in aquatic blue highlights, a naked baby, arms and legs splayed in an awkward floating pose, coaxed by a dollar bill on fishing line. Nobody but no one should have any trouble immediately conjuring their own specific memory of this album at that conspicuously pervasive, instantly recognizable photograph. But, I’ve been surprised by ignorance before, so just to be certain, I speak of course of the watershed landmark album Nevermind. If you don’t know or understand the cultural, artistic, sociological, and historical significance of this album, I would like to introduce you to the internet. Pretty sure you’re using it RIGHT NOW.

This only captures about 30% of the Internet's Awesome!

This only captures about 30% of the Internet’s Awesome!

In any case, I will never forget the ingenuous awe and precipitous exhilaration that overcame me during that first listen. I can barely stand to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” these days, a bitter casualty of hackneyed pop culture oversaturation. But, the first time that pervasive and cataclysmic riff hit my ears was fucking LIFE-ALTERING! Who ARE these feral, deranged beasts? Where do creatures like this come from? What is this frenetic sensation arising from my soul? Why are they so…so fervent, so excitedly zealous? And HOW can I get MORE?!


To be continued… In the meantime, sound off in the comments! What was your first significant musical experience, or other formative moment? Did Nirvana and Nevermind carry a significant weight for you? How far back can you remember, or what is your earliest recollection? Let Us hear from you!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

We Are The Ryan. Who? We. On first. Bases loaded…

Beard of Doom

We Are The Ryan. We exist to destroy Ourselves. To understand Ourselves. Destruction makes way for new Life, new growth. New essence. New We.

“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.” — Fernando PessoaThe Book of Disquiet

We Are The Ryan. We Are the All becoming One, We Are the particle from which springs All. We Are the light and the dark within, We Are grey spiral and churning and form from void.

SPiRAL O)))

SPiRAL O)))

We Are the Enigma. We Are subjective, the voice you know. We Are everything you seek to understand. We Are the obscured, and the apparent.  We Are pretense and irony and burlesque hyperbolic gravitas.

We Are paradox. We Are contradiction and absurdity. We Are as familiar as skin.

“Mike did not seem to grasp the idea of Creation itself. Well, Jubal wasn’t sure that he did, either — he had long ago made a pact with himself to postulate a Created Universe on even-numbered days, a tail-swallowing eternal-and-uncreated Universe on odd-numbered days — since each hypothesis, while equally paradoxical, neatly avoided the paradoxes of the other — with, of course, a day off each year for sheer solipsist debauchery.” — Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land

We Are The Ryan. We Are irreverence and contempt. We Are the warm embrace of scorn. We Are the sarcastic smirk across the face of the world, We Are the blatancy of state-sponsored slaughter, We Are your voyeuristic thirst for televised lawless disregard. We Are your after-church programming.


We Are laughter at a funeral, we are a selfie in a coffin. We Are ever changing and fickle and impermanence manifest in SQUIRREL! We Are a strobe to heal your seizure and subliminal plastic advertizing. We Are on during the sporting event of the century!

We Are beer and brats and Sunday afternoon, We Are laughter drowning sorrow and a distraction from the dread. We Are hope and denial and a sunset behind a raincloud and beauty within the beast, the underlying and the disregarded and all the We as You wish to see but never remember how to find. We Are the uncomfortable Looking.

“He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.” — James JoyceThe Dubliners

We Are The Ryan. We Are the hooligan with a heart of gold. We Are the charming and the loyal and the overbearing and the suffocation. We Are the polished shit, the sweet-tooth addict-craving, the forbidden caramel apple and the last clinging tooth. We Are hillbilly chic. We Are the final confused joke after the laughter has long left.

We Are constant self-appraisal and the doubting trailing voice. We Are awkward sidelong clingings and the echoes of passed time. We Are voice given to scar, a sound bled dried and crusty, flaked desert parched sands and halite in your self-inflicted exploratory surgery.

Photo by Walter Freeman, Dec. 16, 1960 Howard Dully receiving his "ice pick" lobotomy Dec. 16, 1960

Photo by Walter Freeman, Dec. 16, 1960
Howard Dully receiving his “ice pick” lobotomy Dec. 16, 1960

We Are the child hiding in a corner, the beaten and broken without will to escape. We Are the towering behemoth wielding pain internalized and compounded, formed and redirected. We Are an open wound, gaping, pungent. We Are what must heal from the inside, We Are the cotton-stuffed urgency of everything We never wished to see.

“The Dark Crow Man sits And stares into Oblivion… Into Cold… Into Nothingness.  It’s snowing in His mind.  He’s created Himself in His own Image.”  — Lamb of God, The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

Artwork by Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, NM

We Are The Ryan. We Are the voice inside, loud. We Are the escaping breath of daring and uncertainty and doubt made whole, driven with guile and madness towards grasping, fickle fingers. We Are what must be said to make room for what comes next, for We Are the road traveled and the traveler, destination and journey and purpose and…

darkcrowmanface

We Are The Ryan.


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Immaculate Light and Water: Pink Floyd’s The Endless River Sails Into Eternity

pink-floyd-the-endless-river-art“We bitch and we fight/Diss each other on sight…”

Aside from a couple of strategically placed spoken-word samples, these striking lyrics make up the first sung vocals to appear on the recently released, and highly anticipated, Pink Floyd album The Endless River. If the words themselves do not immediately pique the interest of even the most casual listener, they are certainly made all the more notable in that they appear nearly 45 minutes deep in the musical experience, a lengthy stretch of ambiance even for the sonically expansive, technically proficient prog-rock masters that are Pink Floyd. On an album largely obsessed with themes dealing in the necessity of maintaining and improving communication in our shared human experience — indicated by song titles such as “Things Left Unsaid”, “The Lost Art of Conversation”, and “Louder Than Words” — this relative absence of lyrical content may seem to be paradoxical, even hypocritical. A sparseness of singing is certainly the chief complaint I have heard from others regarding Pink Floyd’s first — and supposedly final — offering in over 20 years. However, to assume the decision by the band to relegate vocals to a specific and climactic moment is rooted in anything other than deliberate intent would be a mistake.

Richard Wright, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason circa 1994

Richard Wright, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason circa 1994

With these lyrics — which come during the final track of River, the aforementioned “Louder Than Words” — one might be tempted to assume guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour has indicted global society as a whole, expressing in clear and simple terms the root of our animosity, conflict, and miscommunication with one another. While this may not be a poor or even wholly incorrect interpretation, especially considering the often intentionally ambiguous and open nature of music and lyrics, it is not indicative of the imagery and meaning that was immediately conjured in my mind.

During my first experience of the album, I had been toying with the idea that The Endless River seemed to perhaps be not only a swan song for the group (which has been stated by Gilmour in interviews) but also perhaps an extension of the proverbial olive branch, a way of resolving and seeking closure for their occasionally tumultuous past and history. Anyone even casually familiar with the story of Pink Floyd is certainly aware of the bitter and lengthy rift between former bass guitarist and vocalist Roger Waters and the rest of the group. In fact, when the announcement for this album was made official in April earlier this year, Waters was quick to distance himself by publicly and loudly reminding all of us that he had no input or involvement in this Pink Floyd offering (we know, Roger…we all know). So, it is not a stretch to believe that “this thing we do” refers to the career and history of Pink Floyd itself, and that the lost art of communication which Gilmour laments could be speaking of the toxic communication between the members, each other and Waters.

Roger Waters, the "Lost Floyd"

Roger Waters, the “Lost Floyd”

The argument that this swan song is also a last rights of sorts, a pleading for reprieve from the suffering of past sins, exists wordlessly throughout the rest of the album, as well. With The Endless River, the entire history and lifespan of Pink Floyd passes before our eyes, as the instrumental journey retraces steps from notable points throughout their storied career, from the early Syd Barrett days, to towering achievements such as Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, all the way through this album’s now 20 year old predecessor, The Division Bell. As dearly departed keyboardist Richard Wright’s contributions — Wright tragically succumbed to a battle with cancer in 2008 — were largely culled from unused improvisations recorded during the Bell sessions, one might expect to hear some similarities to that album. However, when we come across echoes of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in “It’s What We Do”, saxophone and guitar/synth interplay reminiscent of moments on Dark Side during “Sum” and “Skins”, and even the grandeur and ostentatious choral splendor of The Wall on “Allons-Y”, this album’s exploration and homage to their past cannot be mistaken for anything other than deliberate, meaningful soul-searching and self-appraisal. This is the work of aging artists gaining a newfound wisdom, and looking back to dissect and lay to rest the wreckage of their turbulent past. After all, this Life, this thing we all do, is bigger than each of us as individuals.

The late Richard Wright, Floyd's unsung hero on keys

The late Richard Wright, Floyd’s unsung hero on keys

What, then, to make of the album’s title itself? The Endless River. Given the smooth, languid flow of the album as well as the fluid pace of the musical journey we as listeners experience, the title seems fitting enough. But how do we reconcile what has been indicated by Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason to be their final output as this band with a titular reference towards eternity? My feeling is that this album is intended to mark Pink Floyd’s departure from this, our physical reality, into the afterlife, so to speak. The endless river could refer to something along the lines of the river Styx, which in Greek mythology forms the boundary between and connects Earth and the Underworld. The endless river is the universe itself, the primordial ether from which all things spring and to which all things return. Fitting, then, that Pink Floyd have chosen to sail into the great unknown by embracing and reconciling every part of themselves, so that their entrance into eternity comes from a state of weightless innocent bliss, just as we all “are” when we come to be.

Last Men Sitting - Gilmour and Mason, present day

Last Men Sitting – Gilmour and Mason, present day

One can only hope we all have such a sublime and restorative opportunity at our own end, to rejoin the universe in shimmering ecstatic motion as pure, immaculate light and water…

Do you agree with these musings? Feel as though something warrants further exploration? Am I completely full of shit and do I need to clean out my ears?! Sound off in the comments!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

We Are The Ryan, and We Welcome You

“My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while…” – Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet


We Are The Ryan.

And, if you are reading this, it is already too late. We are inside your head now. We may never leave.

The Being-ness of all things is in a constant state of flux (or IS it?), and my intention with this page is to reflect and perhaps somewhat elucidate that state of eternal change by bringing some of the fleeting randomness which lurks around in my mind out in the open for others to experience. Eventually, I intend for this site to be a sort of all-inclusive home for the entirety of my creative endeavors. But, for now, we shall just have to see how things progress, one blood-letting at a time.

So, what sorts of posts might you, my interested voyeur, expect to find here? That remains to be seen. You are witness to my first attempts as an aspiring writer to utilize resources available to wordsmiths such as myself on the vast and infamous Internets. As such, this is a journey we will absolutely be undertaking together. While my first priority in writing is to write for myself, I would be remiss to suggest that my “Audience” does not play an integral role in this process, as well. Because, in addition to writing simply because I MUST, I am also writing so that I may share these parts of me with others who might wish simply to be vicarious observers, those who may be interested parties, or those who may even find some modicum of inspiration, hope, or comradery in my mad ramblings.  And so, it is also my hope that this page and its content will create some exposure, get the insanity out there a bit. Perhaps even spread the Sickness…

Initially, I intend to aim for three posts per week minimum, unrestrained by format, topic, style, or content. Whatever strikes my twisted, schizophrenic fancy, so to speak. Eventually, I plan to work up to daily posts, and even topical columns and recurring categories. Therefore, much like a Melvins album, you never quite know what you may find here. And, just like a drug dealer, my goal is to give you a fix that makes you want to come back for more. So, leave me some feedback now and again, if you would like. Let me know what highs and lows strike your fancy. But be wary of taking too much. And remember, while civility and respect go a long way…you also really don’t want to cross your supplier. Tread lightly…but please keep treading!

We Are The Ryan.

We Have Arrived.


 

© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.