Sunday in San Francisco

02010-11-28 | Uncategorized | 16 comments

Downloaded Keynote for iPad and will buy the Apple dock-connector-to-VGA-adaptor thingamajig to experiment with using my iPad to project the slideshow for my solo concerts. Would be nice not to have to travel with my laptop at times. Keynote for iPad is ten bucks and the adaptor another thirty, so I am not taking a huge risk. I don’t think I will actually put together the slideshow on the iPad, I will only use it for playback.

The setup at Anthology in San Diego on Wednesday was brilliant! Huge screen behind and above me. Both shows sold out, lovely audience, good food. What could be finer!

I love the challenge of playing solo.

Traveling on Thanksgiving was easier than expected – we flew from San Diego to the Bay Area. Once we arrived at our destination and checked into the hotel Jon and I walked around for an hour but could not find a restaurant in walking distance and settled for a Thanksgiving room service meal. No, it wasn’t Thanksgiving-themed and a choice of Thanksgiving foods was not offered.

In the evening the Anzu restaurant in the Nikko had a buffet, but I don’t care how little or how much a restaurant charges for a buffet – $65 per person at the Anzu on Thursday – a buffet is not on my list of acceptable food sources. I had a list of restaurant suggestions from friends, but for some reason I don’t want fancy on Thanksgiving… I feel it should be home-made or really simple.

I gave one concert at the Rrazz Room on Friday and two yesterday. Really enjoyed Friday, but yesterday they, meaning somebody at the Rrazz, had turned up the AC in the club and vent in the ceiling, above the stage, blew cold air right on my neck. That was unpleasant and made me feel cold. Playing guitar with cold fingers is not fun. It makes hands feel brittle, as if a finger could snap apart at any time. Tonight I will wear a hoodie…

Before the start of Friday’s Rrazz Room performance, their publicist asked Jon for a copy of the setlist, supposedly for a journalist who came to the concert. She could not wrap her mind around the fact that I don’t have one. Jon explained my M.O. and promised to send her an email with the setlist after the show.

It seems that most clubs now have their own in house 24/7 publicists, in part to obtain write-ups for the artists the club engages, but also to create fodder for the social media scene, Facebook and Twitter etc. Their other job is rather unenviable, as they have to police those social media sites as well as websites like the awful Yelp, to defend the club against malicious attacks from malcontented patrons. Nowadays it is easier than ever to smear a club or restaurant, just because they didn’t provide ketchup for your well-done filet mignon, or the food didn’t come out as fast or as hot as you hoped.

The audiences have been very nice for all of these solo performances – in Manhattan, San Diego and now San Francisco. I am quite happy (impressed even?) that people can pay attention (more or less) to solo guitar playing for 75 to 90 minutes. I haven’t noticed any flash photography, but at the Blue Note there was a young man (Adam, somebody took your place!) at the table closest to the stage who could not stop video recording my performance with his cell phone. If it turns up on YouTube, you don’t need to bother listening because I was struggling with tuning for most of that show.

Speaking of tuning, I was very happy to re-discover the regular Pro Arte Composite Normal Tension set, as the strings stay in tune beautifully and do not develop ridges from my right hand’s nails as the Titanium Trebles do. Forget the Titaniums, they are for those nail-less and sweater-wearing classical guitarists. If real men don’t eat quiche (I love it and had quiche at Café Bastille for lunch just yesterday), real men certainly don’t use Titanium Trebles. They are far too sensitive to temperature, humidity and abuse by nails.

Tonight’s guestlist: three names that end with an “o”. I will meet one of them for coffee and a long chat this afternoon.

My plans for the next two weeks contain a percussion session with the awesome Robby Rothschild, for the new incarnation of The Santa Fe Sessions. I am contemplating an exclusive licensing deal with the company we did Spanish Sun with, perhaps under the title Santa Fe. I will also work on the website with Canton. The non-flash version of the homepage must be designed and updated. I am also considering removing the Diary, and perhaps several other areas, from public view. Most likely I will keep the Diary as strictly a news page and will move all of the old posts behind a separate login or over to this Journal.

The following week I will do a personal retreat, starting on December 7th and ending on the 10th. For those four days I will disconnect all phones, shut down the computers, and spend the time mostly in meditation and doing various exercises. I drafted a time-table because I think a schedule is rather important for a retreat. I don’t want to think about what to do next, but rather follow a well thought-out plan. I think four days of brown rice mixed with lentils is called for. Perhaps Ochazuke (rice drowned in green tea with various stuff on top, e.g. pickled vegetables, green onion, rice cracker, sesame seeds, wasabi, seaweed etc.) for breakfast and with kale or spinach for lunch and dinner. Simple, healthy, easy, and quick to make. No coffee or wine, but plenty of water and green tea. I will probably post something between now and the 7th, and should resume posting on Monday the thirteenth.

Observations about Rio
Very astute, methinks.

Polar Bear Art (photo)

Hongkong Capitalism (photo)
Does capitalism (maybe I should say the variety I would call rabid capitalism) work, or will it turn our culture into Snowcrash-like corporate mini states? Is the way forward to be found in the middle (Buddhas Middle Way contains this beautiful image: the Buddha realized the meaning of the Middle Way when he sat by a river and heard a lute player in a passing boat and understood that the lute string must be tuned neither too tight nor too loose to produce a harmonious sound…), perhaps located somewhere between the social approach of the Scandinavian countries and the runaway capitalism of many Western countries?

By the way, I had never experienced “Black Friday” before, and found the atmosphere here in downtown San Francisco quite shocking. Blood dropped into a tank of piranhas came to mind. I stayed away and walked a couple of miles to Union Made, which is a lovely small store on a quiet little street between the Mission and Castro neighborhoods in San Francisco. They present fine quality men’s goods from a bunch of different brands (i.e. good curating), which include Raleigh Denim jeans. I found a wool cap/beanie to replace the one I lost somewhere between the airport and the hotel on Thursday.

While I waited for the store to open, I enjoyed Russian tea in a teahouse called Samovar. A strong pot of tea, which is slightly smokey in flavor, is brewed and placed on top of the samovar (link to explanation), which keeps it hot. The valve on the front of the machine can be used to pour hot water into the tea cup to dilute it to one’s preference. I asked for a slice of lemon, because I got used to drinking Russian tea this way on the Paris-Moscow Express and the Trans-Siberian Express. Chai s limonom – tea with lemon.

A Trevor Stone reflects on William Gibson reflecting on Orwell
I guess this link fits in… more on corporate states.

music = scent
I like the quote on neobohemia.

Google – FAIL
Good article in the New York Times. For many reasons I would like to find a different search engine. Please make suggestions in the comments. No, not Bing either.

Maybe this is a good symbol for this first decade of the 21st century

Met Bryan Ferry last night. Know what’s cooler than meeting Bryan Ferry? Being Bryan Ferry.
— James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem
(Via Nikola Tamindzic on Tumblr)

Munk Debate tackled the resolution: be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world with Tony Blair arguing for and Christoph Hitchens against.

Bicycle with Sidecar (photo)

Check out these comments, which accumulated on’s page for Brian Eno’s new album Small Craft on a Milk Sea. I am not impressed with Eno’s new CD, but ended up buying two of the guitarist’s albums (The Grape and the Grain and Honeytrap), which I like a lot. I already owned an album by the keyboard player: Insides.

In an email to SM I wrote:

It almost has the quality of an art piece. Interactive computer art,
located at… kinda brilliant, certainly hilarious, but
probably not intended.

He replied:

I find ESTEBAN POSADA DUQUE to be a metaphor for a lot of what I see in pop/mainstream culture as well as what I see in current college students. I realize this will seem as if I’m making more of this than it is, but ANYONE that can critique ANYTHING, much less music based upon a 30 second sample is simply drinking the kool-aide of the culture.

We get our news this way, we form our opinions this way, and, since we recently went through an election cycle just now, it seems that we make decisions on political representation and statute law based upon the same

Life is complex. 30 seconds isn’t enough for much of anything, except for warming up my tea in the microwave and observing particle collisions at LHC.

Having said that, I have to tell you that I find ESTEBAN POSADA DUQUE amusing, especially as he attempts to defend his (rather questionable) methodology for reviewing music. I wonder: his writing has elipsis everywhere. What’s up with that? Perhaps ESTEBAN POSADA DUQUE is a pseudonym for Brian Eno, attempting to be humorous.

What a great name… like the dude in Princess Bride! Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse, ESTEBAN POSADA DUQUE’s review, the comments added to his review, or that I spent a couple of minutes reading them…


  1. marijose

    Here is a list of search engines that help various charities: .

    My teenage daughter works part-time in retail and, as a newbie, had to work on Black Friday. She was speechless afterwards.

    My dad and I talk about savage capitalism (as he calls it) from time to time. It seems that some sort of control or safety net, be it regulation or what have you, is necessary so the most vulnerable don’t get screwed when bubbles pop. And yes, bubbles will continue to build and pop because no politician in a democratic government is going to create a mechanism to monitor and preventively pop bubbles. There also doesn’t seem to be much political will to create a robust safety net.

    I’m happy to report that Target still has your Spanish Sun CD on display. :) Safe travels and enjoy your retreat.

  2. Ottmar

    Thanks for the link. I overheard a few people discussing successful Black Friday shopping methods and this one stunned me:

    Grab anything you like and don’t worry about the size. Then trade and exchange goods with other likeminded shoppers in front of the store. Or sell on Ebay.

  3. Panj

    Thanks for the link, marijose…good to have!
    Ottmar…if you move your diary here, then next year you suspend your Journal…will we lose all these wonderful thoughts and tidbits and connections in the furtur?…Perhaps I have just misunderstood…something that happens frequently…:-)
    Have a most rejuvenating retreat!

  4. Guy


    I love the ‘Bicycle with Sidecar’ photo: simpler times… and to think that today the father would be considered a careless person for not having their child wrapped up in protective gear.

    I quite agree with your remark re: the camera link from a few days ago – always surprised how some people come up with such concepts.

    On another note, I watched last week ‘CNN Heroes 2010’ about every day people in the world that make a difference. I was very touched by the story of Narayanan Krishnan, Anuradha Koirala & Aki Ra. Very inspirational to see so many good people caring for their fellow wo/man…

  5. Ottmar

    Panj – I thought about your comment yesterday and think we might do something like this:

    1. the Diary will move behind its own login wall. Perhaps I will give away temporary access to that Diary from time to time. I think it would be cool to have a sign at our merch table, on tour, that gives people a temporary (perhaps for a month or two) login. Or I might give away a temporary login in our newsletter.
    2. in the place of the Diary there will be a public News blog that I will use for announcements and such. It will have an RSS feed for people that like to read things that way.
    3. the Journal will become private and for-family-only as of next May. If there are pages you want to look at again I suggest you could use screenshots or an app like Yojimbo or Evernote to archive them. The reason why I decided not to merge the Diary and the Journal is that I do not want to expose the private musings of my family after May 2011. I might, however, add a lot of the Journal posts from 2009 until next May to the Diary, which, as I pointed out, will be available to fans from time to time.

    Pretty complicated, I know, but it will be come clearer as Canton and I create the changes.

    Again, the Diary will be updated and expanded by the addition of many Journal posts. The Diary will be behind a login, but will be made accessible to fans from time to time.

  6. Adam Solomon

    Well, I leave the country for two months and already they’re filing up to take my place. Unbelievable!

    Pro Arte Composites are definitely the way to go. I found a little music shop in town and went in to buy the strings – they were 16 pounds! And even online they’re 10-12 pounds. $8 on the US Amazon, about half the price, so just ordered a few packs that I’ll pick up when I visit home in a couple of weeks. Gotta love the dollar!

    And if it took 30 seconds to observe particle collisions at the LHC we’d have discovered the Higgs ages ago! :)

  7. steve

    And if it took 30 seconds to observe particle collisions at the LHC we’d have discovered the Higgs ages ago! :)

    LOL! It was a metaphor… not meant to be taken literally. mmm-K?

    Besides, technically, we previously didn’t have colliders with high enough energies to account for the Higgs mechanism.

  8. Panj

    Thanks for the clarification Ottmar…

  9. Adam Solomon

    Ohhhh. A metaphor. Good luck getting those by a scientist! :D

    There’s a legitimate chance the Higgs will be discovered while I’m taking a Standard Model course. Which would, of course, be awesome.

  10. steve

    Adam Solomon wrote: “Ohhhh. A metaphor. Good luck getting those by a scientist! :D:

    Interesting take. It seems that science thrives on metaphor. After all what is an equation but a metaphor? Seems that science would be pretty much dead in its tracks without the abstraction and metaphor that mathematics provides.

    How else would you do your work but through metaphor? I’m seriously curious.

  11. Adam Solomon

    Ugh, I *knew* someone would bring that up.

    Obviously I was being flippant; most scientists are very intelligent and well-read and understand metaphor just fine.

    I’ve never liked the “science as metaphor” stance much. Yeah, there’s probably a way in which it’s true, but it’s just such a boring way to look at it. I think it’s more useful to see mathematics as a representation than a metaphor. There’s uncertainty and subjectivity in metaphor; how a metaphor fits onto the structure it describes is open to interpretation. In physics, when we have a mathematical representation of a theory, in some deep and unique way it accords with what Nature is actually doing. We can have different representations of the same theory – for example, general relativity can be reformulated in a mathematically equivalent theory without spacetime curvature by including torsion – but this is more a sign of our inability to formulate the true underlying mathematical structure than some fundamental breakdown.

    There’s no subjectivity in physics as there is in metaphors in, say, literature. Either a theory is right or it’s wrong. (Just about every theory we currently have is wrong, though the persistent ones are useful, and often very beautiful, approximations).

  12. steve

    >>Ugh, I *knew* someone would bring that up.

    LOL! Of course!

    “There’s uncertainty and subjectivity in metaphor”

    Well, there’s uncertainty and subjectivity in science!

  13. Adam Solomon

    No, there’s not. There’s uncertainty and subjectivity in how we do science and what we know of it, of course, but not in what’s physically happening (and no, quantum uncertainty doesn’t count). The uncertainty is the fault of us and our epistemological limitations, not of the Universe. My point is essentially that the laws the Universe follows are objective, and those have a mapping to mathematics, and those mappings are objective, too. It’s our job to use our uncertain methods and limited minds to discover those mathematical laws.

    If you haven’t read Wigner’s essay on this, you’d probably be interested!

  14. steve

    >>My point is essentially that the laws the Universe follows are objective,

    What? How do you know that?

  15. Adam Solomon

    A matter of faith backed up by lots of experience. You are, of course, welcome to come up with counter-examples.

    I mean, come on, we can only take epistemological modesty so far. You don’t *know* that you’re not a brain in a vat hallucinating a universe around you, but (presumably) you don’t consider that to be a particularly realistic option. Similarly, the “unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics in describing nature and the fact that these theories seem to work whenever they’re tested, regardless of who is doing the testing or where, is very strong evidence that we’re not just making this up, but rather that physical reality is described by objective mathematical theories.

    Again, I’d recommend you to Wigner’s paper I linked to above!

    (Incidentally, in case the rest of this blog’s readership isn’t interested in issues of metaphysics and math, my e-mail is adam.solomon at gmail :) )

  16. steve

    >>A matter of faith backed up by lots of experience.

    “Faith and lots of experience.” I’d say that in the case of the former, as well as in the case of the referenced paper, there is a quasi-religious usage of language in play- words such as “faith”, “wonderful gift”, “grateful”, “hope”, etc… Interesting.

    In the case of the latter, I’d say you have a small sample.

    >>You don’t *know* that you’re not a brain in a vat hallucinating a universe around you,

    I don’t know that I’m not either, and in terms of a “realistic option” I’ll ask the operationalists question: “What is your definition of ‘realistic’?”

    But in fact to address you specifically, YES, I do adhere to what Descartes might have called “radical doubt.”

    All we know for certain is that SOME mathematical models work in this locality, and at this point in time. I suppose it is inopportune to bring up that the two most important physics discoveries of the 20th century don’t agree with each other, despite substantive experimentation and evidence that they each correspond quite well with “reality” and that “the math works” for each discovery independently. I suppose that it is additionally wrongheaded to mention that there is no fewer than 22 interpretations of one of these discoveries- If that isn’t subjectivity, I don’t know what is.

    Now, we can get engineering done: i.e., build VLSI chips, make bridges and buildings pretty much stand up, Automobiles/trains run. Medicine works about a third to half the time.

    Having said that, and within the realm of problem solving do we even know if P?NP? Nope, and it may have to do with the nature of mathematics and logic itself.

    In terms of answering “big questions” we don’t have a sophisticated enough understanding of the local physical universe- We probably never will, because as a species we are way too stupid and before we have the opportunity to evolve more sophistication we will destroy ourselves.

    If you need any evidence, simply look at a very small issue completely local to this planet: climate change. What has happened? I’ll tell you: stupidness. But not just ordinary stupidness, very big, spectacular stupidness at all levels and in all disciplines.

    Think in Bayesian terms, and given the priors, assign a probability that we will achieve the sophistication necessary to understand the true nature of “reality” before we annihilate each other.

    Before you calculate that probability, make certain that you factor in the stupidness of financial markets, religious war, ethnic exploitation, the exhaustion of natural resources, the “market nature” of current scientific funding, and … well, that’s enough. Full stop.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Concert Dates

No items found


@Mastodon (the Un-Twitter)