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Tag: Deegan (page 1 of 2)

Meditating on Meditation

I’ve been thinking about meditation a lot, recently. No, that’s not exactly right. What I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is a way to get my emotions under control and to get my flighty, distractible brain to in line. Meditation just seems like the way to do that without any sort of chemical intervention.

Not that I know a whole lot about meditation apart from a few experiences with it growing up. As a teenager in the 1990s in Northern California, it was the sort of thing you couldn’t miss. At least some of your friends’ parents were hippies and that meant home-made fruit roll ups, kitchens filled with weird tea, and people who meditated.

My friend Deegan’s dad Charlie had a little nook set aside in their home for meditation. It was always a curiosity to me. Though I grew up with the children of hippies, my parents could not be further from that archetype. My father is a pretty serious, no nonsense kind of guy, the kind of guy who seems cool or indifferent at first, but isn’t. It just takes a minute—and maybe a couple glasses of wine—to recognize his tells. My mom is a warm lady, a bit of an iconoclast in her own way, and surprisingly irreverent about some things while being firmly set on respect for other things. And my step-dad John is more interested in going for a bike ride to the beach than seeking nirvana through spiritual enlightenment. None of them were the type to set up a meditation nook in our house. We had regular fruit roll ups.

Though it seems like the kind of thing that would be ripe for making fun of, Charlie’s set-up was something my group of friends and I accepted and never thought particularly weird. It stood out to me because it was alien to my home experience, but not so alien that it felt outlandish or deserving of derision. I never spoke to Charlie about it when we went to Deegan’s for whatever reason, but he and his wife Mary still live in that same house and I’d be willing to bet that the meditation nook is still there.

Now, as an adult, living in one of the fastest, loudest, most annoying cities int he world, I think I understand a little better why he had it there. Being a grown-up is hard. It is filled with stresses that you know about and stresses you only find out about as they drop their stinking load on your feet. Add kids and career to that mix and no doubt you’ll take any respite you can. Better than spending all your free time drunk (full disclosure: I am drinking a beer right now) or otherwise medicated. I bet that if I asked Charlie he would say that I was hitting pretty close to home.

I’ve wanted to learn about meditation for a long time, but never sought it out for fear that I would immediately be annoyed by some faux-spiritual nonsense. As soon as someone namaste’d at me, I’d flip them the mental bird, write them off as a waste of time, and close the chapter in that book. But that’s not totally fair. I believe that if I could either get past my knee-jerk reaction to that sort of communing-with-nature, one-spirit-touches-us-all, can-you-feel-the-energy bullshit or find someone who could teach me about meditation without all the new agey trappings that I might really learn a lot of great benefit to me.

You see, I am filled with anger. All the time. I am angry about everything. It is my first and only, my quickest reaction to things. It goes from zero to ten almost immediately and the only thing that keeps me from exploding most of the time is some serious self-control. I can feel the venom welling up in my throat, and I choke it down to maintain the relationships I have with my friends, my coworkers, my clients, and my family. Most of the time, it’s not even that I am particularly anger with any of them, but I react violently and the flames engulf me.

Unfortunately, often the flames are too hot and I get burnt. I have learned in my life not to react immediately when I feel the rage, but to excuse myself and ride out the reaction. Sometimes it takes an hour. Sometimes it takes a whole day. Eventually, I feel less angry and I can rejoin the realm of the living. I wish I had better control over the process so I could shake it off even faster. I find the rage cycle to be terribly distracting and not at all necessary to my life as a professional, a creator, or a husband. Better to have a way to proactively deal with it, than be forced into passiveness as it takes its damn sweet time going away. Everything I understand indicates that meditation would help here. I mean, David Lynch swears by it, right?

When my little brother was dying, I was filled with anxiety that felt like the best time to really take hold and run me through was as I lied down for bed at night. With the lights out and the noise of the day muted, my brain went on waking nightmare joyrides. My heart rate would spike and I would toss and turn for ages, never really falling asleep. The only time I would get any sort of real sleep was when I was so exhausted that no amount of anxiety was going to keep me up anymore and I’d pass out. It was like that for months and months.

Eventually I remembered a technique I would use as a teenager to get to sleep when I was feeling the same sort of anxiety. I would lie in bed, as still as I could, and picture a gray field in my head. That’s it. Gray. Initially I would really have to work to keep all the other stuff out of my perfect gray field, but as the minutes wore on it would become easier and easier and eventually sleep would find me. The trick was incredibly consistent. Stress led to head noise which was blocked out by gray which led to sleep. I put it back to use as Nicky fought his losing battle against cancer and I started sleeping again. Gray wasn’t always enough to overcome that particular anxiety, but it was sufficient most of the time.

In some way, that was, I guess, a crude sort of meditation. Not quite exactly clearing of the brain the way movies make you think all the zen masters do since I had to force grayness into my consciousness, but close enough. Perhaps that’s all meditation is? Turning everything off in some structured way so you can see through the miasma of daily stress and obligation and emotion? I would like that in my life. I need a technique like the gray sleep technique I could use when all I see is red. There is someone out there who knows a lot more about this than I do and I would like to meet them. Or read their book. Or something. I’ve tried reading online, but there is just too much information to parse what is useful and what is gibberish. I’m not entirely sure where to start. Maybe I should set up a nook in my house? But then what?

Philthy Rich’s “Feel’n like Pac” (featuring E-40 & 2pac)

With each passing day, Deegan becomes more and more entrenched in the East Bay Hip-hop community and I love it. Regular readers and friends will immediately recognize Deegan in this video, but for those of you that don’t fall into those categories, you have two options.

1) Click on the “Deegan” tag at the bottom of the post and find the recurring dude in all the posts.

Or…

2) Look for the only white dude in the video.

Also, wow, this whole “shot on a 5d2/7d” look sure has become easily recognizable. Not that it’s bad, but definitely recognizable immediately.

Anyway, neat, if simple, video for a song I really feel nothing about. I’m just waiting for Deegs to show up in a metal video. That would be amazing.

Los Rakas’ “Abrazame”

My friend Deegan for being such a die-hard metal dude, sure does mix a lot of non-metal stuff. Like this for example. What would you call this? I don’t even know. I also can’t tell if these guys are good at what they are doing. It’s just so far out of my realm of understanding that analysis is impossible. It’s like asking a person who’s been blind his whole life to describe the difference between red and magenta. Impossible.

Anyway, check this video out. Maybe you’ll have more luck than I have, but maybe not. Regardless, support my homie and listen to his hard work. And then pay him to do some mixing for you. His son needs to eat.

HI DEEGAN!

The Freshmen’s “Hello There”

Not my style exactly, but mixed by my dear friend Deegan, so check this shit HARD with the hurry-upness.

My friend Deegan playing his role as “The White Guy in the Corner Mixing With Gloves On.”

Breaking from the wilds of the East Bay, CA, here’s a video from BigVon.com featuring E-40 talking a little bit about the production of his new double record and sipping from a keg cup.

More important that a Bay Area hip-hop legend’s musings on the dopeness of getting Björk sample cleared is that my old, old buddy Deegan is at the helm of the mix, taking care of a room full of rappers, hangers-on, and other folks. Yup, that’s Deegan in the gloves with the beard. Good job, Deegs!

Help my friend get his gold record and buy one of each of E-40’s new records.

E-40 – Revenue Retrievin: Day Shift

E-40 – Revenue Retrievin: Night Shift

Do it! Help Deegan retrieve enough revenue to pay his son’s bills. You know you want to. I just did.

A letter to Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale.

Dear Sierra Nevada Bigfoot,

Why? I remember the first time I drank you. It was at Deegan’s house in Portola Valley. His parents were gone and we were maybe Seniors in high school. We’d been drinking Red Tails and then he decided to bust you out. I took only a few sips before I called it quits and decided that it was no longer worth my time to force you down.

And then age happened. And I discovered what beer could be beyond the stale, miserable experiences I’d had as a youth. I learned there was more to the world that Coors Light and Hamm’s Gold and Natty Ice. I learned that beer was an art, an experience to be had, not just the easiest way to get drunk without poisoning myself on hard liquor.

Oh, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, you are one of my favorite seasonal brews. I thank God every day that I can find you on the East Coast. Sure, you’re no Six Point Righteous Rye, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a place in my heart. You do. I love you.

As I sit here tonight, on my second bottle, I am reminded that I’ve been given a gift. And that gift is strong beer. When everything around me is crumbling and horrible, I always know that somewhere, somehow, someone is making beer that will lift me out of the darkness and make everything all right.

So, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, I salute you.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.

Power Metal & Me, or, Why I Cannot Take Myself Too Seriously

Over at Invisible Oranges today, Cosmo Lee is further exploring his distaste for power metal. Personally, I like power metal. It’s cheesy and stupid and ridiculous, but it is also totally awesome. It’s like you’ve got a bunch of dudes sitting around after an epic campaign of AD&D (2nd ruleset, duh) and they’re all talking about how to make the most epic metal ever.

“Well guys, we probably need operatic vocals,” says one.

“And probably powerful sweeping guitars,” says another.

“And the guitars could have solo battles with the synthesizers,” says a third.

“Yeah, that would be rad,” says the first.

“And we probably need a constant barrage of double bass drums,” says yet another.

“And our lyrics should be about elves and unicorns and dragons and shit.”

And thus was Power Metal born into this world. If ever there was a metal genre filled with earnest as hell guys pursuing the impossible dream by making the silliest, unicorn-filled music ever, it is Power Metal.

Here is a selection of some of my favorites of the genre. Let’s start with Rhapsody, perhaps THE awesome, MOST ridiculous Power Metal band of all time. Even better, they’re Italian. This is “Power of the Dragonflame.” Is that not an awesome song title?

Next is Demons & Wizards, probably my first intro to true modern Power Metal. My friend Deegan came over one day and was all, “Dude, do you have Napster?” and I was all, “Over dial up, yeah,” and he was all, “Dude, find a song called ‘Poor Man’s Crusade’ right now,” and I was all, “Ok.” Well, I did and it was AWESOME.

This song, “Fiddler on the Green,” is from the same record. It is, I think my favorite song on the record and has a 3 and a half minute build to insanely powerful power metal magic.

Star One is a one-off side project by Anthony Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon. The record, called “Space Metal,” is a Power Metal concept record based on Science Fiction movies.

Wait. Read that again.

A POWER METAL CONCEPT RECORD BASED ON SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES. What the fucking fuck? That is so awesome. Films include Stargate, Star Wars, and fucking Dune. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that combines dork and awesome more perfectly.

Here’s a fan-made video for “Eye of Ra” from that record.

Dream Evil, who I posted one below this one, is a Swedish Power Metal band I saw for the first time live playing with Carnal Forge, Testament, Immortal, and Rob Halford—a strange line up to be sure. But they totally rock. Here’s “Fire, Battle, Metal!”

Hammerfall is another band doing epic heavy cheese as well as anyone and they totally rock. This is “Renegade.”

With this light survey of Power Metal under our belts, what do we now understand. For me, Power Metal is awesome if you are able to relax and not take yourself too seriously. While I think that there are guys in this scene who live and breathe this shit, I also think there’s a significant contingent of guys who are laughing right along with the fans. Sometimes you can make and enjoy things just because they’re fun. That, more than unicorns and dragons and elves and trolls, is what Power Metal is about for me. I love Pig Destroyer, but my music doesn’t always have to be so serious.

The Black Laser enters MEAT SPACE.

Dearest Deegan,

Thank you for the incredible birthday gift. I know that I actually received this a while ago, but I felt like today was a good day to post it. There’s only one, and I’ve got it. Fuck yes.

The Front.

The Back.

To be perfectly honest, it took me a while to start wearing it out mostly because it feels like being in a band wearing its own t-shirt—a serious no-no in the metal community as we both know. But then I started to think of it as determined self-promotion and thought, “You know what? Fuck anyone who’d bust my balls for wearing this awesome shirt of my own equally awesome website.” And there you have it. Interestingly enough, a post yesterday on Invisible Oranges called “The rules of metal t-shirt wearing” confirmed some of the things I’ve already been feeling.

But you still won’t ever catch me wearing the band’s shirt to the show.

Anyway! Thanks for the shirt, dude. It slays.

Sincerely,

The Black Laser.