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Posts Tagged ‘music

“If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan”*…

 

pscil

 

 

In 1955, a bank executive and a New York society photographer found themselves in a thatch-roofed adobe home in a remote village in the Mazateca mountains. Gordon Wasson, then a vice president at J.P. Morgan, had been learning about the use of mushrooms in different cultures, and tracked down a Mazatec healer, or curandera, named María Sabina. Sabina, about 60 at the time, had been taking hallucinogenic mushrooms since she was a young child . She led Wasson and the photographer, Allan Richardson, through a mushroom ceremony called the velada.

“We chewed and swallowed these acrid mushrooms, saw visions, and emerged from the experience awestruck,” Wasson wrote in a Life magazine article, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” “We had come from afar to attend a mushroom rite but had expected nothing so staggering as the virtuosity of the performing curanderas and the astonishing effects of the mushrooms.”

Appointing himself as one of the “first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms,” Wasson inadvertently exposed much of the Western world, and the burgeoning counterculture movement, to psychedelic mushrooms. On the other side of the globe, the Swiss drug company Sandoz received 100 grams of the mushrooms from a botanist who had visited Sabina on one of Wasson’s return trips. They went to the lab of Albert Hofmann (see here) the Swiss chemist who first synthesized LSD. In 1963, Hofmann traveled to Mexico with pills containing synthetic psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms.

“We explained to María Sabina that we had isolated the spirit of the mushrooms and that it was now in these little pills,” Hofmann said during an interview in 1984. “When we left, María Sabina told us that these tablets really contained the spirit of the mushrooms.”

Hofmann’s pills were the first indication that while people can have spiritual and transcendent experiences from eating the mushrooms themselves, they can also have such experiences with a man-made version of just one of the mushroom’s compounds: psilocybin.

This development is particularly relevant today, as scientists study psychedelic mushrooms as potential treatment options for those who suffer from severe depression, addiction, and more. In clinical trials, such as those ongoing at Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London, participants don’t eat caps or stems. They consume synthetic psilocybin, made in a lab by chemists in a way similar to how Hofmann first made his psilocybin.

It’s a necessary hurdle: Psilocybin mushrooms can be grown relatively easily, and aren’t expensive to produce. But researchers have to source their psilocybin from highly regulated labs because natural products vary, and researchers need consistency in chemical composition and dosage in order to do controlled studies. Clinicians need to know how much of a drug they’re giving to a patient, how long it takes to kick in, and how long it lasts; they also need to be sure their drug isn’t tainted with other chemicals. It also helps to be able to mass-produce large amounts and not be threatened by variables, like weather, that affect agricultural products.

As psilocybin moves closer to becoming a legal medicine meeting all the regulatory requirements, doctors won’t be writing prescriptions for mushroom caps or stems—and this will come at a certain cost. Johns Hopkins researchers have claimed they’ve paid labs $7,000 to $10,000 per gram of psilocybin, whereas the street price of magic mushrooms is around $10 per gram. Besides the cost of chemical materials, the steep sticker price comes from the labor required to adhere to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s strict drug-making standards, known as Current Good Manufacturing Practice.

It’s an unprecedented moment, and psychedelic culture must reckon with what it means for a magic mushroom to become a synthetic pill, to be picked up at your local pharmacy or from a doctor. There’s some wariness in the psychedelic community about what synthetic psilocybin represents: big business, questionable investors, and patents on experiences they think shouldn’t have a price tag or a profit margin. Since it’s a known natural compound, psilocybin itself cannot be patented, but the way it’s made and used can be. Already there are organizations applying for patents for their synthesis process, and innovators coming up with new ways to make large amounts of synthetic psilocybin, all seeking protection for their intellectual property…

The truth is, there is money to be made in psychedelics, and investors are flocking to back startups in the psychedelic and mental health spaces. The current antidepressant medication market was valued at $14 billion in 2018 and is estimated to grow to $16 billion in the next three to five years. Any drug company that can compete stands to become very wealthy…

As magic mushrooms make the shift from recreational drug to mental health treatment, patients won’t be eating caps and stems, but a synthetic product made in a lab—one that pharma companies can patent and from which they can profit: “Get Ready for Pharmaceutical-Grade Magic Mushroom Pills.”

* Terence McKenna

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As we ponder the profound, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that city authorities in the California beach town of Santa Cruz announced a total ban on the public performance or playing of rock and roll music, calling it “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”

It may seem obvious now that Santa Cruz’s ban on “Rock-and-roll and other forms of frenzied music” was doomed to fail, but it was hardly the only such attempt. Just two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council’s fear of “undesirable elements” echoed the not-so-thinly-veiled concerns of Santa Cruz authorities over the racially integrated nature of the event that prompted the rock-and-roll ban… (source)

rock ban source

 

“I find C major to be the key of strength, but also the key of regret”*…

 

Riley in C

 

Composer Terry Riley wrote In C in 1964 for an open-ended ensemble: “a group of about 35 is desired if possible but smaller or larger groups will work.”  Often cited as the first minimalist composition (though earlier works from folks like John Cage and La Monte Young seem to have pretty strong claims), In C consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases, lasting from half a beat to 32 beats; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times.  Remarkable things can result….

As one can see for oneself at Tero Parviainen‘s (@teropa) In C site:

Play your own unique version of Terry Riley’s “In C with the help of five automated bot performers.

Every bot plays the same sequence of 53 short musical patterns. Each bot will keep repeating the same pattern until you decide it should move on to the next.

Over time, different musical and visual combinations will emerge…

Give it a whirl.

* Bob Dylan

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As we celebrate the complexity that can arise from simplicity, we might recall that on this date in 1824 Beethoven’s Ninth (and final) Symphony, Chorale, premiered in Vienna, with “lyrics” by Frederich Schiller (part of his “Ode to Joy”); Beethoven’s chorus concludes:

Be embraced, ye millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods!

Facsimile of Beethoven’s manuscript for “The Ode to Joy”

 

Written by LW

May 7, 2020 at 1:01 am

“In a free market the people are free, the ideas are locked up”*…

 

gift

 

Back when I first studied gift exchange, I dismissed its economic importance—after all, it reflects only a tiny portion of all our transactions. Perhaps it might interest an anthropologist, but only as a kind of curiosity item, a refreshing but impractical alternative to the real substance of economic life. But as I see it now, the gift economy is much larger than I realized—in fact, it’s almost as large as the transaction-based economy. For a start, I’ve seen its predominance in my own life. My wife and I don’t charge my children for their meals or the hours of service we provide them. My friends dealing with elder care or community service or church activities operate off-the-grid, so to speak—at least from a conventional economic perspective. These are gift exchanges, pure and simple, and they are everywhere you look, even in a modern capitalist society.

But I’m concerned here with a different class of activities, ones that straddle these two spheres—and are hard to classify for that very reason. Artistic or creative pursuits, endeavors that are typically pursued for the intrinsic joy of sharing one’s gifts, are also frequently commoditized and placed on the market. Are they part of the gift economy or the transaction economy?…

The estimable Ted Gioia explores: “Gratuity: Who Gets Paid When Art Is Free.”

[image above: source]

* Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

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As we share and share alike, we might recall that it was on this date in 1927 that Mae West was sentenced to 10 days in a workhouse on Roosevelt Island (known then as “Welfare Island”) and fined $500 for obscenity for her play Sex… despite the fact that the play had run over a year before the police raided, and had been seen by 325,000 people– including members of the police department and their wives, judges of the criminal courts, and seven members of the district attorney’s staff.

In the event, she served eight days of her sentence, receiving two days off of time for “good behavior”– and the resulting publicity did great things for Ms. West’s notoriety nationwide.

source

 

Written by LW

April 19, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great”*…

 

cher1

 

On May 2, 2019 thousands of fans streamed into Barclays Center for the Brooklyn leg of Cher’s “Here We Go Again” tour to see her for the first — or the 30th — time…

cher2

More fabulous fans at “The Look Book Goes to a Cher Concert.”

* Cher

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As we emulate idols, we might recall that it was on this date in 1975 that the Goddess of Pop graced the cover of Time.

Cher-on-cover-of-Time-March-17-1975.1 source

 

Written by LW

March 17, 2020 at 1:01 am

“It’s exact and indefinite. It’s like pi– you can keep figuring it out and always be right and never be done”*…

 

piPie

 

It’s Pi Day!  What better way to “prove” 3.14 than with that most perfect of pies– pizza!

Via the ever-illiminating Boing Boing.

See also: “Pi Day: How One Irrational Number Made Us Modern.”

* Peter Schjeldahl, quoting the painter John Currin

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As we celebrate the irrational, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that “Tequila” hit the top of the pop charts (sales and radio plays, both pop and R&B).

 

 

Written by LW

March 14, 2020 at 1:01 am

“In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull”*…

 

newspaper-inverted-1536x846

 

No one news source is trusted by a majority of U.S. adults, and Republicans trust Fox News far more than any other news outlet, according to a report out Friday from Pew. Democrats trust CNN about as much as Republicans trust Fox News, Pew found, but the difference is that while “no other source comes close to rivaling Fox News’ appeal to Republicans, a number of sources other than CNN are also highly trusted and frequently used by Democrats.”

Pew surveyed 12,043 U.S. adults about their trust of 30 news sources in November and December 2019. It found that, for political and election news, “greater portions of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic express trust than distrust in 22 of 30 news sources asked about. More Republicans and Republican leaners distrust than trust 20 of the 30 sources.”

Republican distrust in news has also risen over time. When Pew conducted a similar study in 2014, Republicans still distrusted the majority of sources asked about — but over the past five years there’s been “notable growth in Republicans’ distrust of CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times,” which also tend to be Trump’s favorite news sources to bash. Democrats’ trust levels have shifted significantly less since 2014.

It’s worth noting, though, that not trusting a news source is not the same as not watching or reading it. A previous Pew study found that 14 percent of Americans say they get news from a source they distrust; among conservatives, that number is 26 percent. Scholars have their theories why…

The bifurcation of civil discourse: “Republicans and Democrats live in “nearly inverse news media environments,” Pew finds.”  Read the Pew Report (part of their Election News Pathways Project) in full here.

* “In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull, and the great god was aroused by the clamor. Enlil heard the clamor and he said to the gods in council, “The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel.” So the gods agreed to exterminate mankind.”   – The Epic of Gilgamesh

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As we seek common ground, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that the Beatles gave their last public performance– an impromptu concert from the roof top of Apple Studios in London.  Neighbors complained about noise, and police broke up the concert…  at which point John Lennon closed with: “I’d like to say thank you very much on behalf of the group and myself, and I hope we passed the audition.”  Get Back!

source

 

Written by LW

January 30, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Here, are the stiffening hills”*…

 

Mason Street

 

The San Francisco street grid dates to the 1839 plan of Swiss ship captain and surveyor Jean-Jacques Vioget, who laid out the city on a north–south, east–west grid without regard to its topography. Subsequent plans extended the grid, except for its inflection south of Market Street…. and continued the practice of honoring geometry over topography, resulting in some of the steeper streets in the world.

porta-potty

Photographer Dan Ng explored…

What would San Francisco be without its steep hills?

Well for one, if would be much easier to walk around and without much effort. It would be easier to park a car and not have to curb the wheels. We would not have runaway vehicles and tennis balls.

On the other hand, we would not have cable cars, beautiful views and quaint neighborhoods. We would not have the many movies and postcard images to view. In fact, San Francisco would not be San Francisco.

By tilting the camera, I attempted to “level” the hills. These images whimsically portray the streets of San Francisco…flat. But thank goodness it isn’t!

See his more of “leveling” photos: “The Streets of San Francisco… but Flat?

And on the subject of city streets: using OpenStreetMap, Andrei Kashcha’s City Roads project lets you enter any town or city in the world and generates a map of all the streets within its city limits.

* Mervyn Peake, “Rhondda Valley,Collected Poems

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As we seek balance, we might spare a thought for Paul Lorin Kantner; he died on this date in 2016.  A musician, he’s best known as co-founder, rhythm guitarist, and occasional vocalist of Jefferson Airplane, a seminal San Francisco psychedelic rock band of the counterculture era.  He continued these roles as a member of Jefferson Starship, Jefferson Airplane’s successor band.

Coincidentally, one of his his Airplane co-founders, Signe Toly Anderson, died on the same day.

200px-Paul_Kantner_Jefferson_Starship_1975 source

 

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