Friday, March 13, 2015

From the Planet.... GONG! (In loving memory of Daevid Allen)

The Origins of Gong
Gong came into being almost by accident in the late sixties when Daevid Allen was refused entry back into Britain following European dates with Soft Machine. Deciding to stay in Paris, Allen began working alongside Gilli Smyth and various musicians on what would eventually become the phenomenal Gong.

The first recognized recordings from the band were Magick Brother, Mystic Sister (1970), followed by albums such as Camembert Electrique, Flying Teapot, and You.

Various permutations of Gong have worked together over the years under various names including Mother Gong, Expresso Gong, Gongmaison, Planet Gong, and so on and so forth. They have all included an amazing array of musical talent moving through the ranks, to name but a few: Didier Malherbe aka Bloomdido Bad de Grasse, Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, Mike Howlett, Steffi Sharpstrings, Tim Blake, Hugh Hopper, and Robert Wyatt.

Gongmaison came about in April 1989 after Daevid Allen's return to the UK and, more importantly, following a French gig with former Gong member Didier Malherbe (pictured left, the most amazing wind instrumentalist alive on Earth - but, alas, a fact known only to initiates of GAS - or the Gong Appreciation Society!).

The name "Gongmaison" alluded to the mixture of house/jazz that the band played at the time - which, in fact, was nearer to house music although it still contained all the relevant Gong elements of old. This video clip comes from the band's performance in the early nineties and was filmed at the Fridge in Brixton.

The line-up includes key members of Gong - Daevid Allen, Didier Malherbe and the wiccan poet Gilli Smyth aka Shakti Yoni (right) who developed her own vocal technique dubbed the Space Whisper. It was Shakti Yoni, in fact, who helped to craft Gong's elaborate cosmomythology through her inspired poetry and storytelling.

The impact of GONG on my life

In the early 1970s I was in the habit of shopping for LPs in Singapore. My favorite source was Sing & Co. on Hill Street because they always had some real finds in the cheap bin. On one such occasion I spotted three albums by an unknown band called Gong. Drawn to the cover art (which depicted Pot Head Pixies in their Flying Teapots), I bought two albums without a moment's hesitation - and I wasn't disappointed one bit! In fact, I couldn't wait to return a few weeks later for Angels Egg which I had been forced by budget constraints to leave behind :-)

In 1969 I had been subjected to electroshock therapy on account of the amazing "visions" I'd been experiencing - of contact with extraterrestrials and angels and an Earth reborn in rainbow splendor, gone the historical (and hysterical) nightmare of smelly politics, rotten economics, and perpetual war. Looking at the Gong album artwork and listening to their fantastic music enormously cheered me and reconnected me with my core being. In Gong I had found my own spiritual and musical family at last - indeed, I'd go as far as to say Gong helped me regain my cosmic equilibrium and PHP humor! [PHP in this instance refers, of course, to "Pot Head Pixie" - NOT "Hypertext Preprocessor"!]

Gong's music, I thought, was akin to dervish dancing in that it induced in the listener a beatific trance state, opening one's consciousness to the kaleidoscopic worlds awaiting our discovery within our own neurology. Through all the ensuing decades, Gong and everything they represent have served as trusty friends and soul-family.

I'm indeed overjoyed to learn that Gong is very much alive and well. Daevid Allen is now a still-spritely 69 and rumored to be living in Byron Bay, New South Wales. His latest project is the University of Errors and I recommend a leisurely tour for some exquisite mental stimulation and not a few hearty belly laughs.

OWLY SONG by Daevid Allen (animation by Merav Shacham aka Bananamoon)

Watch GONG live in Nottingham, 1990!

The entire 7-part concert is on YouTube but as I can't embed the videos here, just click on each segment (if you don't have the patience to sit through all of it, go for Part 5 where Didier goes wild on his Yamaha WX7!):

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4a | Part 4b | Part 5 | Part 6

Daevid Allen in 1975: Cozmik Mad Hatter, Wizard of the Keys, and Master of Fohat!

[First posted 20 June 2007]

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How about some pork with your porn? (repost)

It appears that in certain Third World countries with First World infrastructures, a sure way of finding yourself in prison is to publish pork-flavored porn.

Indeed, it doesn't even have to be real pork, as Alvin Tan (26) and Vivian Lee (25) recently discovered. You could post a photo of yourself enjoying some tonic bone soup and wishing your Muslim friends a happy breaking of fast during the month of Ramadan - and the assumption would be, because you happen to be of Chinese descent, you must be making fun of other people's religion by advertising the virtues of pork.

This perky young couple are enjoying some fried bean curd (or yu-char-kway) served in tonic bone soup

By now most Malaysians would have seen that ill-conceived photo of Alvivi (as the outrageous young couple call themselves) smiling happily as they dine on what looks like fried bean curd or crisp doughsticks (yu-char-kway) served in bak-kut-teh - a popular tonic bone soup made with whatever meat one fancies, though the commonest variety features various parts of a pig's anatomy. Some say bak-kut-teh is a genuinely Malaysian delicacy as the dish is apparently unknown in China.

I'm generally carnivorous myself - but if some militant vegan decides to post images of raw celery, carrots and beet on her facebook timeline, should I interpret that as an attempt to annoy me? I can imagine a hardcore vegetarian being repulsed by the sight of a sizzling steak, but is that enough reason to arrest anybody and accuse them of sedition? To make a huge fuss out of one's dietary taboos - whether based on religious dictates or personal preference - seems to me utterly absurd.

A year ago Alvivi raised eyebrows and blood pressures with their erotic blog where they had uploaded homemade videos of themselves having a romp or two in bed. For that Alvin Tan had his scholarship cancelled by the National University of Singapore (where he was studying law) and he and his faithful sidekick Vivian Lee subsequently returned to live in Malaysia. The couple has received an equal amount of brickbats as well as bouquets.

The more conservative were quick to condemn them for "bringing shame to their families." While many others openly expressed their admiration for the couple's derring-do and sheer cheek. I was among those who found myself marveling at these youngsters for having the nerve to act out what many people only dare fantasize about. They were, I felt, deliberately testing the limits - seeing how far they could go in their advocacy of sexual liberation and freedom of expression.

After all, it's no secret that at least 90% of the male population (the other 10% being congenital liars) - and perhaps 30% of females - regularly watches online porn. Before digital tech came along we had easy access to porn through pirate VCDs and DVDs. In my father's time, we had to be content with girlie magazines and naughty playing cards - unless we lived abroad in societies where commercialized sex has long been a major part of the national economy.

Compared to what is accessible online 24/7, Alvivi's homemade sex videos were amateurish and rated at most a single X, not XXX. What made Alvivi's porn blog titillating was the fact that they looked like the kids next door - and not some massive breasted Latina or Blonde shagging some black hunk with an 11-inch dick. Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee resembled a couple of energetic, fun-loving youngsters you might find yourself seated next to on the commuter train or at the cinema.

I was amused at the vehemence with which some traditionalists bayed for their blood. The overreaction was akin to witnessing a frenzied mob burn down a cinema just because someone had reported catching a fleeting glimpse of female nipples in some arty foreign film.

Stomping on a severed cow's head on 28 August 2009 to protest construction of a Hindu temple in their area

What is truly obscene, to me, is displaying the severed head of a cow - and even stomping on it - to express displeasure at the prospect of having a Hindu temple built in one's neighborhood. Not only is such a virulent species of intolerance intolerable in a multicultural reality, the act is akin to cursing the benevolence and generosity of Mother Nature - which is what the cow symbolizes in many ancient cultures, not just Hindu.

It all boils down to sheer hypocrisy. The same angry mob will then disperse and go home to download porn on their laptops.

As many have pointed out: if you serve the right political masters, you may screen pornographic material in a public place and get away with only a playful slap on the wrist. But if you happen to have the wrong skin color or religion, expect to have a whole library - or a 200-ton concrete structure - dumped on your head.

In a milieu where political correctness dictates that one is not allowed to use words like "dwarf" or "midget" in the presence of vertically challenged humans, being too tall can be deemed a punishable offence.

Trust the beansized-brain bozos in Umno to offer, as a possible remedy for cultural insensitivity, compulsory classes in Islamic civilization. Now if they had the good sense to be more inclusive and suggest that all civilizations are worthy of study, we would soon be enjoying heaven on earth.

Nobody likes having anything shoved down their throats. That's the clumsiest, stupidest and most obnoxious way of changing other people's mindsets. Young people will always gravitate towards ideas and information they find stimulating, exciting, funky, cool. Absolutely no way you can dig up a chunk of frozen mammoth dung and repackage it for the youth market as ice cream.

[First posted 21 July 2013, reposted 12 March 2015]

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Swami Beyondananda’s State of the Universe 2015

Cosmic Comic Pundit Swami Beyondananda Calls for Evolutionary Upwising
“Either we will have an awakening, or there will be a wake.”  ~ Swami Beyondananda
Greetings, Mirthlings!
Welcome to the state of the Universe — which is of course, everchanging, same as always.
Here we are once again in the here and now, just like last year at this time.
So … are you finally ready to live in the now?
Good.  We have been waiting for you.  What took you so long?
With time rapidly becoming a thing of the past (the calendar’s days are numbered, you know) people are living in the now like never before. Listen, I know. I was a futurist in a past life. But now, I have no time for time. I am living all the time in the Timeless Now. I think they call that All-Timers.
Meanwhile, here on Earth — or as it is known throughout the galaxies, the Comedy Channel — a critical mass of the heretofore uncritical masses are awakening to a serious truth.  There’s something funny going on.
Take politics — please.
America’s two political parties spent $4 billion on the last election and it worked — the American people were soundly defeated.  Once again the Golden Rule was overruled by the rule of gold, and the Constitution overrun by the prostitution.  The result is government in greedlock and rule by a one-party system where we the people haven’t been invited to the party.
We don’t exactly have a name for this new system, although I think Futilism describes it pretty well.  Thanks to government for hire, voting has devolved into an act of futility.  Whether we vote Democratic or Republican, we seem to end up with Dempublicrats running things.
Now some mystics — pessimystics they are called — would look at this shituation and see a glass 95% empty.  As an optimystic I take the exact opposite position. I see a glass 5% full.
Yes, there is good news.
An evolutionary upwising is afoot, and left and right are coming front-and-center around a new common sense consensus.
In Colorado and now two other states, this has meant legalizing cannabis.  So what does this mean, other than in the Mile High State you can now legally get a mile higher?  For one thing it means a blooming economy selling transcendental medication.  Science is now finding that humans have THC receptors in the part of the brain called the “hippiecampus”.  When this area is stimulated, people see farce fields and laugh at invisible jokes.
There’s an old saying — and I know it because I myself made it up many lifetimes ago — the truth shall upset you free.  Once again in 2014, inconvenient truths exposed convenient lies. For example, now everyone knows our government is spying on us, and Public Enemy Number One appears to be none other than — the public.  Maybe the NSA needs to be balanced out by another three-letter organization, the ICU — Independent Citizens United, where citizens who intensively care about the rule of law can say, “I see you” and begin to oversee what we have until now chosen to overlook.
From Monotheism to Stereotheism, and a REAL Conspiracy
There was another sign of the upwising in 2014.  Pope Francis took a stand for social justice, making the Catholic Church more non-dominational.  And boy, are those purebred dogma breeders upset!  It just goes to show that maybe you CAN teach an old dogma, new tricks.
Maybe monotheism is evolving into stereotheism, where the same truth comes from multiple speakers, in many different languages, and some with no language at all.
After all, there is no harm in harmony, and no sin in synergy.  And in the end, every dogma must answer to the same Master.  Maybe if religions evolve in this way, John Lennon could imagine “no religion too” becoming “all religions true.”
And for those of us who want peace in the Middle East?
Let us first try peace in the Middle West.  A first step is to quiet our own barking dogmas, and listen to the silence.  Instead of just following the herd, follow the unheard … right into your own heart.  Imagine, Americans from all tribes coming into the same space of silence, and breathing together.  Now that would be a REAL conspiracy, and could expose and help us overgrow the con’s piracy we have now.
The evolutionary upwising calls on people everywhere to rise above the identity issues that each side serves up as dogma chow, and instead focus on the identical issues we face now — like being passengers and crew on Spaceship Earth, citizens and denizens of Gaia.
So, come on you Gaians!
Time to show your species’ pride.  And time to evolve from children of God to adults of Good.  Yes, I know.  We are collectively in this awkward tween phase called addled-essence.  Our essence has been addled by obsolete myth-conceptions.
A Three-Step Plan to Launch the Upwising
So, how do we un-addle our essence?  How do we launch this upwising to turn the funk into function, and leave the junk at the junction?
I’m glad I asked that question.
I have created a three-step program that is mathematically proven to work four times faster than 12-step.
If we want to have an upwising, we must wake up … wise up … and show up.
We must wake up to the awful truth and the awesome opportunity.  Yes the world is in serious condition, largely due to our conditioning to be serious.  Seriously.
And if the problem is serious, then the solution has to be humorous, right?  So we wake up laughing as we recognize that we’ve been running around in circles, chasing our tales.  These tales usually tell us that happiness is somewhere “out there”. It’s a sure sign of the upwising when those who’ve been in hot pursuit of happiness get struck by enlightening and realize, “Gee, I must have run right past it.”
And in this moment of fool-realization, we fully realize our foolishness and laugh in our own face.  This is called self-facing laughter, and it helps us illuminate our world from the inside out.  People ask me all the time, “How can I uplift humanity?” I take one look at their doomy and gloomy expressions and I say, “You can begin by uplifting the corners of your mouth in a smile.” When you feel the levitational pull giving you a natural face-lift, you are literally overcoming gravity.
Hearty laughter brings us from the static of the head to the ecstatic of the heart, and we take the second step to upwising — we wise up loving.  It has been said that the more we expand our hearts the less we will need to shrink our heads.  Beliefs lie in our head, love lives in our heart.  So … are you going to believe those lies?  Or live that love?  When you sacrifice being happy for being right, you know what they call it?  Smartyrdom.
With laughter and love helping us wise to the occasion, we take the third step.  We show up, living and giving.  Each of us has been given a special gift, just for entering.  So you are already a winner.  We are all here to let our light fully shine — the enlightened ones call this full-filament.  It is true that the unexamined life is not worth living, and equally true that the unlived life is not worth examining.  To “show up” means to live life fully, and foolly, laughing all the way.  Make a bucket list of all the undertakings you wish to undertake before being overtaken by the undertaker.  Express your unique love in the world, and make your life a work of heart.
Bring your gift to the party, and show up for the greatest show on earth — REALITY!  You know, reality.  That’s reality TV without the TV.  What a movie we’re in!  A cast of 7 billion, and all of humanity is in the hero’s role.  And the whole world is on the edge of its seat.  Will we achieve critical mass before we reach critical massacre?  Will there be an awakening, or a wake?
As the great baseball player / philosopher Willie Mays once said, “That’s what we’re going to play the game to find out.”
I end this 2015 State of the Universe with good news.  When it comes to transformation, we have all the time in the world. And that time is now.
May we wake up laughing and leave laughter in our wake.
© Copyright 2015 Steve Bhaerman.  All rights reserved.
If you’d like to wake up laughing, why not enroll in the Wake Up Laughing class?
Swami Beyondananda is a noted social uncommontator and spiritual political pundit (If anyone punned it, Swami punned it first) and is the alter ego and brainchild of author and humorist Steve Bhaerman.  Steve and Swami can be found at and on Twitter @swamibe.