Episode 27 fulfils the promise of the last week’s episode of Tales From the Dropbox – an episode filled with more aggressive punk oriented music highlighting the diversity that still exists within this genre.
I would be remiss in failing to note the passing of Muhammad Ali this past week. Ali’s death reminds me of what Ali’s life represents in the context of my life – another connection severed. There will be numerous commentators reflecting on the life of the “Greatest,” but this will be the myth of his life, for, the compulsion we, as humans, have in order to find meaning in someone’s death is to mythologize on “facts” about the person as though these somehow define who that person was and who they were.
Rather than dwell on Ali’s public persona, I am going to attempt to give you a perspective on the meaning of Ali’s life (because the fact of death is irrelevant except to him) to me – as a connection severed – and tie that perspective into the context of this podcast. This is your notice that we will very likely end up these Dropbox notes with a slightly messy package to digest.
Note: I know what is about to follow is a little meandering, but be patient, I think the exercise is important – at least it is to me. Hopefully you will also find the exercise interesting because if anything, the essay below will provide yet another oblique perspective to chew on like a dog with a large bone – at the end the bone is all wet and slobbery and although not fully digested you are somehow satisfied. For a change, be satisfied that is not some off kilter social issue I’m writing about, though I know you all loved the essay about the impact of the proposed new condom law.
As a species (Homo sapiens) are obsessed with classifying and organizing everything we experience into categories utilizing comparisons with similar but known experiences to fit each “new” experience into a particular category. What about those experiences that fall just outside or completely outside our known experience? I contend that we largely miss the power and emotion inherent in each “new” experience and fail to appreciate the significance of that “new” experience each time we are exposed to a sensory event (even if it is the same sensory event repeated) because we fail to comprehend and rationally acknowledge that that each experience is different whether we are familiar with it or not. This failure becomes more obvious when assessed by our inability to comprehend the dissimilarity experienced by each participant in a shared experience. i.e. the failure to assess that jointly shared experiences and their meaningfulness to each participant/observer is influenced not only by the impact of the experience but also by the strength of the connection between the participants.
So why is this observation relevant?
The acts of classification and association with prior known experiences – the tools our mind utilizes to determine how we feel about an experience necessarily imposes significant limits on our ability to appreciate and understand the unknown inherent in each such experience. That is, our mind filters out small bits of information that help us understand what is happening and what the experience means to us in relation to that event, but in so doing, we filter out most of the important information contained in the event. Classifying and association impose an unconscious bias on every sensory experience because of our inability to process large amounts of information. As described in an earlier Tales From The Dropbox episode, unconscious bias is absolutely necessary for our survival but the downside of this defense mechanism is that it also imposes limits on our acceptance of the new and the different. Thus, every experience we try to rationally explain suffers from this perspective bias.
Episode 27 is less about where the music fits in the numerous meaningless categories of music humans have generated to give order and meaning to explain what we hear and more about how the music actually makes you feel. Music should be experienced holistically because music connects and engages all of our senses when we are focused on the moment of the experience. However, in order to escape the unconscious bias of our limited perspective we must stop thinking about the music and experience each and all of it together in order to try to absorb as much of the experience as possible. As Funkadelic so perfectly expressed – “free your mind and your ass will follow”.
A limited perspective of the meaning of Ali life and death will be played out in tributes all of this week, but these perspectives are simply attempts to provide a common mythology of importance to Ali’s life, i.e. to provide a context for the meaning of his life., I believe all of the tributes will miss the mark and fall short because the “story” will leave out the bits of information concerning Ali that are truly important.
What was the “experience” of Ali’s life?
For me the connection is relatively simple – Ali’s life was importance as an example of a life well lived, and that perspective is not derived from the information we can classify and associate with him. For example, most commentators will likely point out that Ali was a magnificent boxer with the fastest hands of a heavyweight ever or that Ali defied the draft for his religious beliefs or that because of his poetry and good spirit that he had the power to connect and unite with people long after he had lost the ability to speak – a consequence of Parkinson’s disease, a disease which afflicted him for longer than his boxing career. All of these “things” are undoubtedly true – but they are not what made Ali the “Greatest”. Think about it. Do these facts add up to the “greatest”?
Ali’s greatness lies not in his accomplishments but in the manner of living his life in the way he chose to live it – to fully experience his own life, including experiencing the consequences of his own decisions. For me, that is the true power of Ali as a public person. Ali was the “greatest” in his own life’s experience because he was able to live his life with the awareness that his choices had consequences but they were his choices alone to make. Ali didn’t filter out the little bits of information to make sense of his own life, he defied categorization precisely because of his choices. For him, the only category he desired to be classified into was singular – the greatest.
So, I too wanna be the “greatest.” I am trying to live my life completely aware of my choices discovering and experiencing events that stretch the boundaries of my intellect. This podcast is one of those choices because it is my effort to go outside the sanitized world of commercial radio which I believe makes people dumber and desensitizes them numbing them to the beauty of the musical experience. KROQ is the devil.
We, which is you and I, absolutely need on the most basic level diversity in order to fully experience what our mind tries to categorize and to reject that urge to compare so that our total being can translate the electrical impulses into something we can feel. Tales From the Dropbox has one goal – to offer a ton of music being produced by geniuses whom have the ability to compose and assemble bits of information into whole compositions that deserve to be experienced without imposing limits on that expression. These compositions must be fully experienced in order to trigger emotions, feelings, and produce holistic connections to moments in your past and laying the ground work for future connections enabling you to experience “new” and “different” as – joy. We can be joyful.
So, free your mind and … you know…
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #27:
- Fuck You, Idiot – “Go Away” (Tour Summer)
- Big Ups – “Capitalized” (Before a Million Universes)
- Max Raptor – “Golden Age” (Max Raptor)
- Andy Black – “Louder Than Your Love” (The Shadow Side)
- Fossil Youth – “From the Window” (Intertwined With You)
- Tiny Moving Parts – “Breathe Deep” (Celebrate)
- 1000 Gram – “I’d Pilgrim to Anything” (Dances)
- Big Red Ants – “Sugar” (Last Year’s Big Fall)
- Angry Angles – “Crowds” (Angry Angles)
- Traumahelikopter – “Always Being Followed” (I Don’t Understand Them At All)
- Bloody Gears – “The Killing Song” (Shallow Remains)
- Honey – “White City” (Love is Hard)
- Venerea – “Waiting For Her To Kill Herself” (Last Call For Adderall)
- Real Friends – “Mess” (The Home Inside My Head)
- Die Antwoord – “I Fink You Freeky (God’s Death Trap Remix)” (Suck On This)
I would kiss you on the lips, you have sugar on your lips . . . I don’t need to be perfect just happy … last year I was a train wreck now I’m just a mess.