Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Jakub and Emeline are my favorite partner dancers

Many people now use the term “Modern Swing” for the current version of West Coast Swing. This new partner dance form merits a new name because it *is* truly different. Really! I have to say I now love it, after resisting this evolution for years. Others, like my wife, object that it is not swing. Incorporating contemporary and contact improvisation as well as Zouk, it is more expressive and more physically challenging than traditional WCS. I hope that I will be able to dance it myself someday but that would require rebuilding my entire body of dance skills. We’ll see…

My favorite partner team now is Jakub and Emeline. For WCS dancers they have unusual backgrounds. The About page on their website  is well worth reading.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Billions of dollars for the Right Wing Agenda benefit Gini Thomas

 It is no accident that the Supreme Court is now dominated by extremely conservative justices nor that the billions of dollars funding Right Wing propaganda benefit the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. It is intentional. All of the money and political actors are also central to the Big Lie campaign to reverse the 2020 election.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Some observations on Death and Aldous Huxley

 The events and authors mentioned here strongly influenced me in my teenage years. They introduced me to the path I have followed since then. Although I have meandered a bit, this path has a center which still holds. Now, as I begin elder hood, the losses that inevitably arise only lead deeper and increase my  devotion. Thanks for sharing this journey.

Given that not everyone who would be interested in this subject uses Facebook, I lifted the entire post below from Samuel Long. He is well worth following if you use Facebook:

All my best,
David E. Anderson


"It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered." 

~from Aldous Huxley, Island. 

"The “spiritual adepts” of Tibet’s modern period, writes Huston Smith in his comprehensive introduction to the Bardo Thodol, or “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, “were inner-world adventurers of the highest daring, the Tibetan equivalent of our astronauts—I think it is worth coining the term ‘psychonaut’ to describe them. They personally voyaged to the furthest frontiers of that universe which their society deemed vital to explore: the inner frontiers of consciousness itself, in all its transformations in life and beyond death.” Western modernity—its energies focused entirely on shaping, subduing, and expropriating the material world—did not begin to take such complex inner journeys seriously until the 20th century. When it did, it did so largely through the popular influence of pioneers like Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary, who introduced the inner journey through a syncretism of Eastern spirituality, Indigenous religious practices, and psychotropic drug use—something of an accelerated course to the frontiers of consciousness for those who had failed for so long to investigate its limits. Huxley’s first psychedelic experience, described in his 1953 The Doors of Perception, “was in no sense revolutionary,” he wrote, in that he did not, as he had expected, experience “a world of visions” like those in the Bardo or the writings of William Blake. On the other hand, he describes a shift in consciousness in exactly the terms spiritual practitioners use to talk about enlightenment. He references Meister Eckhart’s Istigkeit or “Is-ness”—“a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being.” He uses words like “grace” and “transfiguration” and refers to D.T. Suzuki’s essay “’What is the Dharma-Body of the Buddha?’”—“another way of saying Mind, Suchness, the Void, the Godhead.” His faith in this experience persisted to the end of his life. It was, for him, an initiation, a “great change… in the realm of objective fact.” So profound were Huxley’s experiments with psychedelic drugs that on his deathbed ten years later, he requested that his wife Laura inject him with 100 micrograms of LSD. In the short video up top, Laura remembers the day, the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And in the letter above, which you can read in full at Letters of Note, she describes Huxley’s last days in vivid detail to Huxley’s brother Julian and his wife Juliette. According to Laura, Huxley struggled in his last two months to accept the fact that he was dying of cancer. She read to him, she writes, “the entire manual of Dr. Leary extracted from The Book of the Dead.” Huxley reminded her that Leary used the manual to guide people through their acid trips, and that “he would bring people, who were not dead, back here to this life after the session.” After several painful days, however, he came to terms, “all of a sudden,” and made out his will. Laura had already consulted with Sidney Cohen, “a psychiatrist who had been one of the leaders in the use of LSD” and learned that Cohen had given the drug to two dying patients; “in one case it had brought up a sort of reconciliation with Death, and in the other case it did not make any difference.” After she had offered it to Huxley several times over those two months, he finally wrote out his instructions to her for the dosage. She injected it herself, then, a few hours later, gave him another 100 micrograms. As he died, under the effects of what she calls his “moksha medicine,” Laura coached him “towards the light” as the Bardo counsels. “Willing and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully; you are doing this so beautifully.” After several hours, Huxley died. These five people all said that this was the most serene, the most beautiful death. Both doctors and nurse said they had never seen a person in similar physical condition going off so completely without pain and without struggle. We will never know if all this is only our wishful thinking, or if it is real, but certainly all outward signs and the inner feeling gave indication that it was beautiful and peaceful and easy. You can hear Laura discuss Huxley’s LSD-assisted death in much more detail in a conversation here with Alan Watts,

who calls it a “highly intelligent form of dying.” In her letter, she defies the judgment that Huxley’s use of psychedelic drugs, in life and death, was irresponsible or escapist. “It is true we will have some people saying that he was a drug addict all his life and that he ended as one,” she writes, “but it is history that Huxleys stop ignorance before ignorance can stop Huxleys.” Indeed, in the same year that Aldous died, his brother Julian—the renowned evolutionary biologist—published an article called “Psychometabilism” in the second issue of The Psychedelic Review, the research journal co-founded by Leary. “In psychedelic drugs,” wrote Julien, “we have a remarkable opportunity for interesting research.” Likewise, he argued, “mysticism is another psychometabolic activity which needs much further research… some mystics have certainly obtained results of great value and importance: they have been able to achieve an interior state of peace and strength which combines profound tranquility and high psychological energy.” In his informal, literary way, Aldous Huxley conducted such studies with himself as the subject, and wrote of the results and possibilities in books like The Doors of Perception and Island. A few years after Aldous Huxley’s death, the US and UK governments banned the kind of psychedelic research Julien recommended, but it has recently become a serious object of scientific study once again, and thanks to the reporting, and experimenting, of writers like Michael Pollan, Westerners may soon once again use psychedelics to take the inner journeys our culture does its best to discourage and denigrate." ♦️ ©2006-2022 Open Culture, LLC. All rights reserved.  

 "Huxley was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 1960; in the years that followed, with his health deteriorating, he wrote the utopian novel Island, and gave lectures on "Human Potentialities" both at the UCSF Medical Center and at the Esalen Institute. These lectures were fundamental to the beginning of the Human Potential Movement. Huxley died aged 69, at 5:20 p.m. PST on 22 November 1963. Media coverage of Huxley's death, along with that of fellow British author C. S. Lewis, was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the same day, less than seven hours before Huxley's death. In a 2009 article for New York magazine titled "The Eclipsed Celebrity Death Club", Christopher Bonanos wrote: The championship trophy for badly timed death, though, goes to a pair of British writers. Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World, died the same day as C. S. Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia series. Unfortunately for both of their legacies, that day was November 22, 1963, just as John Kennedy's motorcade passed the Texas School Book Depository. Huxley, at least, made it interesting: At his request, his wife shot him up with LSD a couple of hours before the end, and he tripped his way out of this world. This coincidence served as the basis for Peter Kreeft's book Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, & Aldous Huxley, which imagines a conversation among the three men taking place in Purgatory following their deaths. Huxley's memorial service took place in London in December 1963; it was led by his elder brother Julian. On 27 October 1971, his ashes were interred in the family grave at the Watts Cemetery, home of the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton, Guildford, Surrey, England. Huxley had been a long-time friend of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, who dedicated his last orchestral composition to Huxley. What became Variations: Aldous Huxley in memoriam was begun in July 1963, completed in October 1964, and premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on 17 April 1965. Huxley was a close friend of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Rosalind Rajagopal, and was involved in the creation of the Happy Valley School, now Besant Hill School, of Happy Valley, in Ojai, California. The most substantial collection of Huxley's few remaining papers, following the destruction of most in the 1961 Bel Air Fire, is at the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles. Some are also at the Stanford University Libraries."

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Li Po poem

 The birds have vanished down the sky.

Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

Li Po, “Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain,” translated by Sam Hamill

Bruce Lee advice

 “Don’t pray for an easy life… Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Kurt Vile and the Violators


Laurie Anderson performing in SF

 Wednesday night I will be at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco to see Laurie Anderson perform for the Zorn at 70 series!

From the program:

The Great American Music Hall is extremely proud to present ... "ZORN at 70", 15 extraordinary performances across 5 days at GAMH (and one at Grace Cathedral), curated by John Zorn, in celebration of the legendary composer, musician and iconoclast's 70th birthday.
    Featuring John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, Fred Frith, Mike Patton, John Medeski, Dave Lombardo, Trevor Dunn, Petra Haden, Trey Spruance, Kenny Wollesen, Brian Marsella, Gyan Riley, Cyro Baptista, Chris Otto, Sae Hashimoto, Steve Gosling, Jorge Roeder, WIlliam Winant, Ikue Mori, Ches Smith among many, many others ... 
    This series will feature two world premiere performances, several of Zorn's best loved and most celebrated ensembles as well as some of his latest projects, a unique solo organ recital at Grace Cathedral and a very special COBRA performance, curated especially for San Francisco.
    One of the most ambitious and wide reaching concert series Zorn has ever curated, this incredible series will take place from August 30th - Sept 3rd and cannot be missed. 
    Show times, line-ups, ticket prices and details can be found at GAMH.COM along with options for day passes and full series passes.

This Must Be The Place


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Monday, August 21, 2023

New Laurie Anderson interview

 Laurie Anderson is important to me. She has been since her music first appeared. I have seen her perform many times over the decades. She also shares my particular Buddhist practices and studies. Here’s a little bit of recent conversation to read.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race

 As I said in my last post, we watched different TV shows last night for a change of pace. To top it off we stretched out and watched RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race. It was a fun distraction. I also realized that my drag name would be Davida Loca... <snap> 😀

The HistoryMakers project

 For an entertaining break we watched some different TV shows last night. One was 60 Minutes.

The HistoryMakers segment was moving and inspiring and highly recommended! This project creates oral histories of Black Americans and curricula for schools based on them. It is a strong  antidote to DeSantis's fascist anti-history and is now part of the Library of Congress. The segment is available on the project site :

Dinosaur species revival project

 Jeff Goldblum announced today that he is working with Stewart Brand to revive this species using the embryo as a starting point. Donald Trump immediately announced his full support for the project, saying “Since we too are dinosaurs and like to tear things apart with our teeth, we look forward to the company of a kindred soul.”

Heather Cox Richardson book release/talk Oct 14, 2023 Oakland, CA

$36 admission includes a signed copy of the hardcover version of her new book!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Death and Dying class

 I enrolled in this class after watching a one-hour talk by Lama Justin Bujdoss. He is a Caucasian American deeply trained in Tibetan Buddhism and a long time senior member of the NYC Department of Corrections chaplaincy program. He is very active in reaching out to POC and other minorities who are under represented in the US Buddhist community.

His profile appears at the bottom of the following page for this class:

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The guard outside the cell of TFG

Embed from Getty Images

Inspiring story of a friend in 2020

 A high school friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2020 as COVID arrived. He was hospitalized at Kaiser for a few days, then told to go home, make himself comfortable, and prepare for death within two months. Stunned, he called his son, a medical physics PhD and AI researcher at a medical research startup. The son jumped on the internet to find the best oncologists for his father's ailment. One UCLA doctor stood out and was relatively close by. An email to him led to an immediate phone call. The son sent Kaiser's health records to this doctor, who quickly decided the diagnosis was wrong and told him to bring my friend to the ER at UCLA. My friend immediately checked out (over the protests of his doctor) and went directly to the other ER. There a new and different diagnosis led to chemotherapy and radiation treatment, a combination which cured him. A little more than two years later he is still free of cancer.

Keep hope alive.

Historic moment in US Fifties history that should inspire us now

Take 12 minutes to listen to this piece of inspiring history that should inform our present, especially if TFG wins in 2024.


Friday, July 14, 2023

Early life

 When I was about six years old I had a conflict with my father over something trivial while we were outdoors. I tried to run away, but he grabbed me and began to spank me with his free hand. I began to cry. For this he spanked me more, ordering me to stop crying. I told him that he was making me cry, but this made him even more angry. I saw that he was irrational and that this would therefore continue. I realized then that I could ignore the spanking, quiet down, end the battle, and live for another time. So it was. In that moment he in fact lost a lot of his ability to control me in the future. 

When I was 16 I had another conflict with my father. This time when he moved to grab me, I picked up a nearby pole and ordered him to stay away. He did. It was not long after this incident that I left home. I continued to attend high school, working on the side. I graduated early, earned scholarships, and moved to the college town where I began my studies. On my own, I worked, took out loans, lived cheaply, and eventually was able to declare myself financially independent.

Note that my father was not a brutal man, but he was of another era. And he had survived being chased by thugs with axe handles when he was a labor organizer.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Our life together

 When we are blessed to experience life as a sacred journey, our highs and our lows are all elements of something greater. To share this with someone, to really know and recognize it together over decades, is more profound than anything I have ever known. Our gratitude knows no bounds.

The theremin player, an interesting character

One of the most interesting stories I have read recently! BTW, I built a theremin from a kit in high school. I couldn’t play anything though because that requires the ability to accurately play a pitch...

ethereal beauty of the theremin-

Thursday, January 12, 2023

RIP Jeff Beck

 I had felt stressed for a few days about a couple things when came the shocking news of Jeff Beck’s death. I just sat and watched videos of his performances for a couple hours and cried. So sad. Fortunately I saw him live a few years ago here in the Bay Area. May he rest in peace.



Sunday, January 8, 2023

PBS Great Performances “Gloria: A Life”

 Gloria is an exploration of Gloria Steinem’s life and its impact. It is a 90-minute recording of a play performed in 2019.

We found this very moving and evocative of many memories. Good to prompt insights. Highly recommended!

Jake Blount, musician

 The New Faith

continuing focus

For the last few months I have been prioritizing. Making progress, I can say. Still much to do in 2023. Meditation is both a result and cause in this endeavor. Approaching 1000 hours of pandemic meditation practice, according to my timer app. Daily practice is key to everything.

Feeling gratitude for my close friends and relatives - thank you. May you flourish and grow.

Very excited by the combination of Tools for Thought work and AI. 2023 is going to see tremendous developments!

Happy New Year!