“Soil is crammed with bacteria. Its earthy scent is the smell of the chemicals they produce. Petrichor, the smell released by dry ground when it is first touched by rain, is caused in large part by an order of bacteria called the Actinomycetes. The reason that no two soils smell the same is that no two soils have the same bacterial community. Each, so to speak, has its own terroir.”

From “Regenesis” by George Monbiot


Ai Weiwei unveils cage-like Arch installation in Stockholm:

Appearing to break through the steel bars that surround them, these characters represent the “free passage of all populations, and appealing for a world without borders,” said creative foundation Brilliant Minds, which organized the installation.

This is a beautiful sculpture by Ai Weiwei. The foundation Brilliant Minds was created by the man who became unfathomably rich by founding first Pirate Bay and later Spotify. Someone should put a sticker on the Arch that says paid for by musicians everywhere.

I am reading Ai’s book “1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows”. For me the book became really interesting after he arrived in New York, in February of 1981.

There were tens of thousands of artists in New York, but only a few dozen who were making money. For a certain subset, art had become a
target of speculation and just part of the race to find the next new thing.
Art had long been a consumption commodity, a decoration catering to the
tastes of the rich, and under commercial pressures it was bound
degenerate. As artworks rise in monetary value, their spiritual dimension
declines, and art is reduced to little more than an investment asset, a
financial product.


Around this same time, a couple of pictures of mine were part of a group exhibition in the East Village. When the show closed, rather than take the pictures home with me, I just chucked them into a dumpster. Dumpsters are everywhere in the streets of New York City, and you could probably find a number of masterpieces in them. I must have moved about ten times during my years in New York, and artworks were the first things I threw away. I had pride in these works, of course, but once I’d finished them, my friendship with them had ended. I didn’t owe them and they didn’t owe me, and I would have been more embarrassed to see them again than I would have been to run into an old lover. If they were not going to behanging on someone else’s wall, they didn’t count as anything at all.

I highly recommend the book.


Sometime in 1989 the Native American artist Frank Howell, who commissioned the album that later became Nouveau Flamenco, said this to me:

When you stop to learn you begin to die.

It was very good advice and I thought about it quite often in the past thirty years. I would add that to learn could be replaced with to change or to adapt and the value of the advice would be undiminished.

Last year I joined Coursera, which is an online education platform featuring courses from many great universities, and other institutions, worldwide. The first course I took was about Modern Art, a course created by MoMA. It was enjoyable and I learned a lot. This year I took another course, presented by Princeton University, called Buddhism and Modern Psychology. The instructor was Robert Wright, somebody I was not familiar with. The course description does not do the content justice. I am interested in neuroscience, because I find it interesting how the view of the meditator, which is the view from the inside, is analyzed by the scientist, which is the view from the outside. The course covers more than the basic science that involves brain scans, it introduced me to Evolutionary Psychology (link to Wikipedia… not sure how useful that is), which turned out to be quite the exciting rabbit hole to dive into. I learned that Robert Wright wrote a book entitled The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Every Day Life, published in 1994, which was one of three books the Wachowski siblings gave Keanu Reeves to read to prepare for his role as Neo in the movie The Matrix. By now I am thoroughly fascinated. How did an author of a book on Evolutionary Psychology (Science, view from the outside) come to lecture about meditation and Buddhism (Meditation, view from the inside)?

I bought Robert Wright’s newest book, Why Buddhism is True – The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment and read it slowly over the last two months, savoring some of the pages and letting passages rest in my mind, like dough that needs to rest before baking… For me this book ranks up there with Ken Wilber’s A Brief History of Everything, which I read in the Nineties and which connected a lot of dots for me.

Meditation is a revolutionary act, indeed the most revolutionary act we are capable of, because it is, perhaps, the only method we have to reject our programming. When the house is on fire (Climate Change) you don’t argue whether the house was created by a God or by evolution, you try to extinguish the fire. Similarly I would argue that it doesn’t matter whether our DNA was created by a God or by Natural Selection, the fact is that this programming is killing us as a species. Like Neo in the Matrix we are captives who do what our programming tells us to do and our programming does not want us to be happy and peaceful…

Buy the book… I have seen the paperback for as little as six dollars and change, and I myself have (so far) bought six copies that I have given to friends. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Team Human

I have read several books by Douglas Rushkoff. His observations are always smart, deep, inspiring. His latest work is called Team Human. I just started reading it.

“Survival of the fittest is a convenient way to justify the cutthroat ethos of a competitive marketplace, political landscape, and culture. But this perspective misconstrues the theories of Darwin as well as his successors. By viewing evolution though a strictly competitive lens, we miss the bigger story of our own social development and have trouble understanding humanity as one big, interconnected team.”

Excerpt From Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff


Friday Travel

If you are new to these pages, let me give you a few tips:

It seems that Firefox works well and Explorer – not so much. You can download Firefox for free here.

It seems that it is easier to login from http://ottmarliebert.com/backstage than from http://ottmarliebert.com/friends. Something to do with cookies. I always login from backstage, which always works.

Just click on the category Music to find all of the free downloads. Or category Video.

I will send out the new password for May tomorrow morning, Saturday.

Three hours of sleep, then up at three thirty. We were at the Albuquerque airport by 06:30. Stephen and I had to gate-check our guitars, because the plane to Chicago was quite small, but the flight attendant for the flight to Buffalo in an even smaller plane was kind enough to store our guitars in his closet. The tourbus picked us up at the airport and we were glad to see our driver. Home, sweet rental home!

I mentioned that I received the amazing Phaidon book A Day at elBulli (here and here) – check out this YouTube about elBulli and their amazing new dishes.