Cajón Drummer

02018-12-17 @ 19:12

If you are still looking for presents… here is a good one. The book is only $13 and contains links to a wealth of video content in which Chris plays and explains a variety of rhythms. It’s the best book for anyone who wants to start playing the cajón or improve their cajón chops.

The Cajon Drummer
Applying Drumset Techniques and Grooves to the Cajón
• Perfect for anyone new to the cajón—from beginners to experienced drumset players
• Adapts essential, signature drumset grooves to the cajón
• Covers how to incorporate brush, shaker, and other accessory instruments
• Tips on how to play with singer/songwriters

You can also order Chris Steele’s signature cajón here. It’s the cajón you have heard him play when we are on tour and on my recent albums.


02013-04-25 @ 15:04

From Jaron Lanier’s latest book – read more on Wired. Here he writes about musicians, who no longer earn money from recordings and have to rely on performing:

It is one thing to sing for your supper occasionally, but to have to do so for every meal forces you into a peasant’s dilemma: The peasant’s dilemma is that there’s no buffer. A musician who is sick or old, or who has a sick kid, cannot perform and cannot earn. A few musicians, a very tiny number indeed, will do well, but even the most successful real-time-only careers can fall apart suddenly because of a spate of bad luck. Real life cannot avoid those spates, so eventually almost everyone living a real-time economic life falls on hard times.


02013-04-24 @ 12:04

Without the listener there is no music. The listener completes the musical circuit, and, even though I am not a musician, I feel as if I am a form of musician when I listen and believe that, by hearing the piece, by responding to it with my thoughts of what it is and what it is doing – what it means – I am actually helping to finish it off. As the listener I am the final element in the making of the music. I have made the music useful. I have put it into context: the context of my own life, and my own perception of what music is, and why it exists.

– Paul Morley, Words and Music: a history of pop in the shape of a city

I do not think that music has to have a listener aside from the person or persons making the music, and I don’t believe that music has to be useful, but I like the above description of the listener completing a circle.

We could say the same about a reader who, by imagining the people and the landscapes described in a book, makes words come to life and thus completes the circle.

See also this, which I wrote about twenty years ago for Musician magazine.

2012 Reading List

02012-10-07 @ 08:10

My 2012 reading list, in no particular order. Could not put “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” down and finished it yesterday, a little after midnight.

√ – simply means that I read the book. The unread titles are at the ready, mostly in the form of hardcovers and paperbacks, some bought used but most bought at Collected Works, which is a fantastic bookstore in Santa Fe.

Spiegel und Maske (1970-1983) – Jorge Luis Borges √
Momo – Michael Ende √
The Offensive Traveler – V. S. Pritchett √
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco √
Angelmaker – Nick Harkaway √
The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway √
Peter Høeg – Das Stille Mädchen √
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway √
Alif the Unseen – G. Willow Wilson √
The Secret Race – Tyler Hamilton √
Gods Without Men – Hari Kunzru √
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami √
Buddha in Blue Jeans -Tai Sheridan √
Distrust that Particular Flavor – William Gibson √
Lying – Sam Harris √
Years of Red Dust – Qui Xiaolong √
Ratking – Michael Dibdin √
Vendetta – Michael Dibdin √
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell √
Tribal Peoples – Stephen Corry √
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan √
Le Freak – Nile Rodgers √
How Music Works – David Byrne
Cabal – Michael Dibdin
Dead Lagoon – Michael Dibdin
Cosi Fan Tutti – Michael Dibdin
Some Remarks – Neal Stephenson
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng
Ninja – 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warriors – John Man
The Quantum Universe – Brian Cox


02010-07-08 @ 12:07

[aiming a video camera] …at anything doesn’t collect what is meaningful to me. I need someone to gather it in with all their senses, mix it round in their head, and make it over into words.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson


02009-04-21 @ 09:04

I am already on the third installment of John Burdett’s Bangkok series, a book called Bangkok Haunts – I am reading the Kindle version on the free Kindle for iPhone application. In what seems to me typical Thai fashion the book is able to move effortlessly between violence, sex and spirituality. Here is a snippet from a conversation between the main character of the book, a cop in Krung Thep, and a monk:

Saved? There is nothing to save, my friend. You cannot caste yourself into the Unknowable in the hope that gesture will buy you salvation – you have to jump for the hell of it. In a nirvanic universe there can be no salvation because we are never really lost – or found. The choice is simply between nirvana and ignorance. That is the adult truh the Buddha urges upon us. We are the sum of our burning. No burning, no being.

When I traveled in Asia for a year, a long time ago, I was constantly amazed and delighted by the ability of so many people (((seemed like everybody was able to do that))) to switch from the mundane to the spiritual and back in no time at all. Spirituality is not reserved for a fixed hour per week, but is constantly present and referenced.


02009-01-15 @ 15:01

Currently in my reading pile:
On Some Faraway Beach: The Life and Times of Brian Eno – David Sheppard
Mysterious Tales of Japan– Rafe Martin
The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays – Richard Taruskin
Affluenza – Oliver James
Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens – Johann Peter Eckermann
The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World – David Abram

Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems – Gary Snyder

Just arrived:
Break The Mirror – Nanao Sakaki
2666: A Novel – Roberto Bolaño

Partial list of books I read last year:
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
The Quiet Girl – Peter Hoeg
Traffic – Tom Vanderbilt
Bashō’s Journey – The literary prose of Matsuo Bashō
Assassin’s Cloak – An anthology of the world’s greatest diarists
The Rest is Noise – Alex Ross
Temperaments: Artists Facing Their Work – Dan Hofstadter
The Years of Rice and Salt – Kim Stanley Robinson
Things I have learned in my Life so far – Stefan Sagmeister
Tao Te Ching – translated by Stephen Addiss + Stanley Lombardo
Plain Talk about Fine Wine – Justin Meyer
Urban Iran – Various Authors
Hot, Flat and Crowded – Thomas Friedman
Being with Dying – Joan Halifax


02008-12-09 @ 15:12

Inspector Tao Yun Shan returns: The Lord of Death

Related posts:


02008-10-31 @ 13:10

Editorial Notebook; Life in the Information – New York Times
Commercials no longer sit still and beg to be looked at. Instead, they become fly-like robots that perch on the pillow and whisper sweet nothings while you sleep. The next morning you wake up craving foods you’ve never eaten. Mr. Dick’s characters defend themselves by keeping their windows closed — and making heavy use of fly swatters. The idea is to get them before they get to you.

I remember them from his books as gen-manipulated flies, that is bio flies (grown) rather than robotic flies (built).

They are still much bigger than flies, more like bats, but they are coming:

Inhabitat » The Solar Powered COM-BAT Spy Plane
In this season of specters and spooks, what could be scarier than a steel-winged robotic spy plane shaped like a bat? The aptly named COM-BATis a six-inch surveillance device that is powered by solar, wind, and vibrations. The concept was conceived by the US military as a means to gather real-time data for soldiers, and the Army has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five year $10-million dollar grant to develop it.

reCaptcha your wasted time

02008-10-30 @ 12:10

The Long Now Blog » reCaptcha your wasted time
One of the inventors of Captcha’s, those funny squiggly words used to prove your a human when you sign up for something, has now put this wasted time and human brain power to work.

ReCaptcha is now getting its difficult to decipher words from scanning projects like the Internet Archive’s and is using the human effort to digitize the words the computer cant recognize. Over a half million man hours a year can now go to digitizing books instead of just wasting your time.

Turning waste into fertiliser. Excellent.


02008-10-25 @ 08:10


I am not the first, nor the only one, to believe a superorganism is emerging from the cloak of wires, radio waves, and electronic nodes wrapping the surface of our planet. No one can dispute the scale or reality of this vast connectivity. What’s uncertain is, what is it? Is this global web of computers, servers and trunk lines a mere mechanical circuit, a very large tool, or does it reach a threshold where something, well, different happens?

Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism – Kevin Kelly — The Technium


He was too old for the interet. Not that he didn’t love the sound, a limitless cacophony; it had the tone of the cheapest popular entertainment imaginable performed on a public toilet close to the beaten track. All the sounds in the world. Linked together on the lowest organizational level possible. The con man in each of us adores the internet.

But to go from there to the point of abandoning natural dignity to acquaint oneself with how a computer works is still quite a leap.

The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg

Hm, the internet is a hammer. You can build a house or you can bash a skull in. Intelligence and happiness are in no way releated. At all. And by happiness I do not mean some kind of warm, fuzzy, all is well bliss, but rather an enjoyment and acceptance of all the curveballs that life throws at us… like falling of a cliff, hanging on a vine that is about to break and send you tumbling down a thousand feet – and discovering a berry, the sweetest berry you have ever tasted… I think it funny that so many smart people are staring at the net to find signs of something. Maybe the net is a mirror of our own self, and we see in it what we see in us.

A Comic Book and a Bottle of Wine

02008-10-24 @ 13:10

A Comic Book and a Bottle of Wine –
SIPPING a 2001 Bordeaux from Château Mont Perat, a bead of sweat trickling down his left cheek, Shizuku Kanzaki is suddenly overwhelmed with images of a turntable, guitars and Freddie Mercury.

“It’s powerful,” he says of the wine, “but it also has a meltingly sweet taste, with an acidic aftertaste that catches you by surprise. It’s like the voice of Queen’s lead vocalist, sweet and husky, enveloped in thick guitar riffs and heavy drums.”

Since coming out of nowhere four years ago, this 20-something Japanese would-be sommelier has quickly become the most influential voice in Asia’s wine markets.

In Tokyo, wine sellers monitor his weekly pronouncements before adjusting their stocks accordingly. In newer markets like Taiwan and urban China, his recommendations are turning the newly affluent into wine converts. And in Seoul, South Koreans now hold forth on “terroir” and how a bottle “marries” with a particular dish without blinking.

Never mind that Shizuku is a comic-book figure, the hero of a manga series…

Just adapting the language of wine to a new generation (in a different culture)… brilliant.
Thanks JM.

Lesen / Reading

02008-10-16 @ 15:10

Neu auf meinem Nachttisch sind diese zwei Taschenbücher:

Die Zen-Lehre des Landstreichers Kodo – Kodo Sawaki/Kosho Uchiyama

Alle buddhistischen Schriften sind nur Fußnoten zu Zazen.
– Kodo Sawaki

Gespräche mit Goethe – Eckermann

And in English I am currently reading:

Traffic – Tom Vanderbilt
The Spell of the Sensuous – David Abram

I met David at the Lindisfarne meeting in August (see this and this) and was impressed with what he said. The book is not disappointing.

Internet-Free And Glad of It

02008-10-13 @ 22:10

Internet-Free And Glad of It –

Above link leads to a nice review of Anathem in the Wall Street Journal.

Saturday Morning in Santa Fe

02008-10-11 @ 07:10

Dancing for Bees. (Vid)

Finished Anathem by Neal Stephenson yesterday evening. It’s still swirling around in my head. Some books leave a wonderful lingering aftertaste.

Friendman spoke to Chinese Car Guys – that last paragraph is what counts:

Yale Environment 360: Thomas Friedman: Hope In A Hot, Flat and Crowded World
Friedman: Well I answer that really with a story I tell in the book. Last year, I was invited to the China Clean Car Conference. China has a clean car conference — who knew? — in Tianjin, China, their kind-of Detroit, kind of a rather grimy city, the Marriott Tianjin.

And, I was the closing speaker. The audience was all Chinese car guys. All kind of grizzled Chinese car guys, all listening to me — nobody spoke English, they were all listening on headsets through an interpreter. And I thought, “What do I tell these guys?” And so, my basic message was this: “Guys,” — it was only guys — “guys, I have got to tell you, every time I come to China young Chinese say to me, ‘Mr. Friedman, you guys got to grow dirty for 150 years. Now it’s our turn.’ And my message to you, on behalf of all Americans, is to tell you, ‘You’re right. It’s your turn. All the great change in history, positive change, was done by optimists.” Grow as dirty as you want.’ Because I think we just need about five years now to invent all the clean-power technologies you’re going to need as you choke to death, and we’re going to come over, and we’re going to sell them all to you. And we’re going to clean your clock. I don’t know how you say that in Chinese, we’re going to clean your clock in the next great global industry. So, please, if you want to give me a five-year lead, I’d love five. I’d prefer 10. Take your time. Because we are going to clean your clock in the next great global industry.”

Now it takes about 30 seconds for the translation to get through — and that’s when you see everyone adjusting their headsets, eyes lighting up — and then about one second for them to understand exactly what I’m saying: That they basically have a choice. They can do what they did on telephony, which was to go from no phones to cellphones, and skip landlines, and they can do that in clean power… But unless they really change, they’re going to miss the new IT, which is ET.


02008-10-09 @ 06:10

From Neal Stephenson’s book Anathema, which had me under its spell.

Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down into jobs that were the same every day, in organizations where people were interchangeable parts. All of the story had been bleed out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy.


The people who’d made the system were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day’s end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer other to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them.

And that brings up movies and sports and religion… a way to see yourself as part of a larger adventure, a larger story – and thereby sacrificing your own story. It is obvious that the person viewing a movie is passive. A person watching a football game is equally passive, but feels involved. I mean, many overweight couch-potatoes will claim that they are “into sports”, but it translates into “I like sitting down and watching other people run around doing things”… And, many religious people seem to be content to believe stuff, which is essentially also somebody else’s story, instead of creating their own story through contemplation, meditation or action. (((like watching a game instead of playing a game?)))

It also brings up consumerism, which is a way to buy into one of the stories being manufactured. Most advertising nowadays sells a lifestyle, not a product.

It’s also the difference between being the guy in the knife-factory who does nothing but drill holes into the steel and being this guy, who makes knives from scratch and does something different every day.

What is my story, what is your story? What is it that our life can express?

The word History derives from His Story – I suppose because most stories used to be about men, the kings, generals…

Or the word Right, which derives from the fact that the boss carried a sword in his right hand…

Wie schön, daß das Word Geschichte nicht Geschlechtbezogen ist… Aber das Recht gibt es ja auch im Deutschen.

I am not sure what I am trying to say… just unfinished thoughts while drinking the first cup of Pouchong in the morning…


02008-09-29 @ 13:09

Currently reading:
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
I have been a fan of Neal Stephenson’s writing since coming across Snow Crash in 1992. I am really enjoying the new book.

Basho’s Journey – The literary prose of Matsuo Basho
This is a wonderful book. I am researching a long walk (4-5 weeks) for the Fall of 2009 and have always enjoyed Basho’s poetry. I learned that Basho did not actually write Haiku. That term refers to poems written since 1868. Basho wrote (or rather participated in) Renga – classic linked verse. The opening stanza of Renga is called Hokku. It sets the tone of the linked verse and was usually offered by the master. A Hokku has the same 5-7-5 syllabic rhythm as a Haiku.

On Some Faraway Beach – A biography of Brian Eno


Traffic – Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

02008-08-27 @ 17:08

I love that title!

Here is another example of the theme I keep circling back on – balancing body and mind… no, let me re-phrase that: Balancing Body and Brain – for I believe that Mind happens somewhere at the juncture of Body and Brain. Where body and brain meet, mind happens. That would make a fine bumper sticker. Check out this story:

‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ by Haruki Murakami – Los Angeles Times
The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has run nearly every day for the last 23 years and participates in at least one marathon a year. In his slim memoir, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” — the title is a nod to Raymond Carver, one of the many American writers that Murakami has translated — he narrates his origin story as a novelist and as a runner. In his 20s, he owned and operated a jazz club. While watching a baseball game, he decided, “out of the blue,” that he could write a novel. “Something flew down from the sky at that instant, and whatever it was, I accepted it.” After writing two books, he sold the club to devote himself to fiction — his first novel to be translated into English, “A Wild Sheep Chase,” followed. As his writing career took off, his health began to decline — the result of all that sitting and smoking. Murakami decided to take up running.

And Murakami does not not just jog… he runs marathons, ultramarathons (62 miles) and triathlons…

Jean Cocteau in 1952

02008-08-06 @ 08:08

Diary entry by Jean Cocteau on December 25, 1952:

The more hairs fall out, the more antennae grow in.

Journalist: What would you like to see hanging on your Christmas tree?
J.C.: Journalists

From the book Assassin’s Cloak, an anthology of the world’s greatest diarists, which I finished last night. Great read.

Fast Fiction

02008-08-04 @ 11:08

Culture Court Features August ’08
Straight to the point but without revealing the full-deck, this cryptic collection of stories by Lawrence Russell is metaphysical and existential, symbolist and realist, more international than regional.


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