But what really struck me is the neurophysiology, which is, you know — sound waves coming off of streams, and moving bodies of water, activate the vagus nerve. They calm us down. There are chemical compounds in nature. You might smell a flower or tree bark, or the resin on a tree, that activate parts of the brain and the immune system, right? So our bodies are wired to respond in an open, empowering, strengthening way to nature.

from this podcast with Dacher Keltner

I have always moved forward intuitively and discover only later why I turned this way or that. I look at the map during or after the journey, rarely beforehand.

I wasn’t sure why I wanted to make an album using river and rain sounds, but it turned out to be an inspired idea. There is the practical side, which is that the water sounds mask any traffic noise that might get onto the recording through the guitar microphone – because I live in cities and I am not recording in a soundproof studio. Another reason was surely that I had been concerned about water for more than thirty years, because Santa Fe is part of the high desert. Today I learned that Sound waves coming off of streams, and moving bodies of water, activate the vagus nerve. They calm us down.

The pieces are starting to make sense.


Walked to Jon’s studio this morning, openly carrying my white guitar case over my shoulder. We decided not to play with the full setup, through IEMs, in favor of sitting in the same room. This way we could hear ourselves acoustically and could easily talk about finer points of the arrangements. We set up in a circle. Jon used a very small amp, placed behind the chair he was sitting on, for his fretless bass guitar. Robby brought the cajon and used Jon’s hi-hats. Super simple and so much fun. While we played, Jon would sometimes talk us through the arrangement. He would announce the violins, then the cellos, and here come the basses. I told him he should have a microphone and do that for the concert. At least he will wear a mic and do that for the rehearsal with the orchestra tomorrow afternoon. :-)

We worked through the whole set list for two hours, but there was a fair amount of talking and laughter, too. At one point I said how much fun it would be to have recorded the rehearsal… the music, the stories that bubbled up. I wonder how long it would take to forget that a recording is being made. Because, if one couldn’t forget that, the magic would probably be lost and one would perform rather than just hang out and work.


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Crews are taking down dozens of elm trees on Alameda, on the river side. My first thought was, they should have started with us Europeans. We are a non- native invasive species. Walking past the tree carnage this afternoon I argued with a crew member, who shouted that I didn’t know what I am talking about.

He should read this article from the Santa Fe New Mexican, headlined Rethinking the dreaded Siberian elm:

But for all the hate, Santa Fe and many communities in New Mexico would have little shade without the dreaded Siberian elm. And now, as climate change increasingly makes the state hotter and drier, some researchers and arborists are rethinking the value of this hardy tree.


“It is a new world we live in, and elms are succeeding,” said Nate McDowell, a former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who led a Southwestern tree study that found that climate change could leave the high-desert mountains of New Mexico nearly bald, with the majority of piñon and juniper trees dying off by 2100 as a result of drought, heat and bark beetles.

“Do you really want to cut down something that is doing OK when other things are dying?” said McDowell, who is now with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests.

To me this action of cutting down fifty or more elm trees, some of which were standing on the slope down to the river, with their roots keeping the dirt from eroding, is a terribly misguided project. There are thousands upon thousands of elm trees in Santa Fe. Take these by the river down and new ones will be seeded this spring. There are also huge lawns in front of big mansions on Palace Ave that are an invasive species of grass that requires lots and lots of water to survive. The irony is that mansions on Palace Ave are probably donating money to Friends of the Santa Fe River for this project.

The Week

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Monday evening I went to dinner with Roshi Joan. We went to her favorite restaurant, Izanami. When she saw my hat she said I looked goofy. I am going for full on goofy and being myself, I replied. I want to be that crazy old man who dresses strangely uniquely and dances in the rain in the middle of the night. Besides, I find this hat so much cooler than a baseball cap. It’s waterproof, it protects my neck as well as my face, and I can fold it up and stick it into any pocket. Plus it’s black and no logo shows. And it reminds me of Yohji.

This afternoon I went to an optical shop called OJO, near the plaza. I love their logo. The word OJO means eye in Spanish and the J is an even better nose than the Y of eye.
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I have always picked out my frames, but this time I asked the sales person to pick out something for me, so I would try something new and different. He gave me a few interesting choices, that I will think about. I think the shop has been open in Santa Fe for several years, but I never went inside before. OJO only deal in independent frame designers. I looked at beautiful frames that were made in Belgium and in Hong Kong, for example. No Luxottica stuff for them – the Italian company that probably controls 90% of the eye glass market.

LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut, Apex by Sunglass Hut, Pearle Vision, Target Optical, and Glasses.com. It also owns EyeMed, one of the largest vision health insurance providers. Luxottica’s market power has allowed it to charge price markups of 1000%.


Tomorrow Rahim AlHaj will come for a visit, and maybe a little jam. I haven’t seen him since right before the pandemic and it will be great to catch up.


From this article on Nam June Paik I clicked to an article about Making Buddhist Art Today, a very brief stop which led me to this piece on Installation Art, which led me to this page about the Native American artist Jamison Chas Banks, where I found this short video about his installation at SITE Santa Fe in 2014.

Jamison Chas Banks from SITE Santa Fe on Vimeo.

One says that home plate is stolen in Baseball. The artist compares that to American history and says stealing home is maybe a very American thing. It’s a remarkable installation piece that makes me realize how art installations can be powerful storytelling. This piece is also a reminder that there is a lot of unfinished history that needs to be untangled. Until we do we will always build on top of quicksand.

Interesting how this post creates a circle for me. From Nam June Paik, who I met in Köln, where I grew up, to Jamison Chas Banks, who lives in Santa Fe.