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Poetry, Essays, & other Writing

Philosophy of Music Mixing

I've been an audio engineer doing mixing for a long time and as an educator I have always tried to communicate the reasoning and logic behind certain mixing choices, so as to try to teach an intelligent understanding of how to approach the task. This is a piece I wrote that attempts to encapsulate those ideas. of Music Mixing.rtf

Bass & Improvisational Music

PaperBag's Rules of Improvisation

Many have asked about this, and so I wrote a very condensed paper on the "rules" we developed to help us create our particular brand of improvised music. This is only one way to do this, of course, not necessarily the only or even the best way. It just worked for us.’s Rules of Improvisation.pdf

THEORY OF BAG ADJUNCTS (a theory of musical improvisation)

Notes on the Roles of Players in an Improvisational Ensemble

In the PaperBag style of improvisation, you get to be the leader or "conductor" part of the time, and the rest of the time you are a support player. This is an essay on the responsibilities of these roles in an improvisational ensemble.

Strategies for Improvisation

Strategies for Improvisation is an essay I wrote that discusses possible ways a musician or ensemble may approach or execute an improvised musical piece, without resorting to complete randomness. In PaperBag, many strategies were used in order to try to spontaneously generate some structure on which one could then improvise. Read it here: for Improvisation.pdf

On Staying Original

Even in the context of improvising one must sometimes be cautious about repetitive ideas or motions--how does one guard against running out of new ideas and falling back on old ones? Here's some ideas on that topic: STAYING ORIGINAL G.pdf

Leading & Following

In Paperbag's style of improvisation, each member of the band took turns acting as the "Conductor" of the piece. This came with some responsibilities for both the Conductor and the remaining band members that were following along. Here's some thoughts on ways to understand the roles:

Sometimes my scurrilous views even get published online:

...& now here's the Poetry and other stuff...

My First Half Century (G. Radai 10/3/11)

My first half century

Went by like the world's slowest eyeblink

Like a quantum bullet.

What happened was...everything.

What imprint left was....something.

"When I get older" became "when I was younger."

"Can't wait for that" became "I've waited this long..."

"Someday I will do this" became "I did it once, and that's enough"

Single raining tomorrows became showers of yesterdays.

Crazy thing is still inside, hiding where young crazy things hide.

Impulsive thing is still inside, biding time patiently.

Wishful thing is still inside, wishing more quietly.

Immortal thing is still inside.

The music, the art, the science, the laughter

Never lost, still fond companions at my side.

POV changed from motion blurred to sharp as glass;

True wisdom can be found in my pet dog's eyes If I need some.

And the shaking head, the palmed face, the disbelief I had for so much of the world

Is accepted like a smelly cloak in summer you can't throw away because it was a gift from a well-meaning friend.

In my next half century my certainty is that

Certainly there will be uncertainty.

My knowing is that there will be knowing and unknowing.

There will be Love and otherwise. There'll be weather.

How could it not?

The Improvisor's Credo

The Universe is built

Of chaos becoming order.

So too am I an agent of order.

Chaos is my lumber, bricks, and nails.

Through my hands and ears

And eyes and mouth

All creation must manifest.

My glass is always half-full or better.

My Enemy is Murphy's Law

But my Saviour is MacGyvers'.

Whatever can go wrong is never

Larger than what rightly replaces it.

I synthesize, I blend, I invent

And then I re-invent the invention.

All experience is my foundation,

And I know not waste.

The Universe is thus my artist's palette

Infinite color, of infinite taste, ne'er appetite whet.

(8/11/2004 G.RADAI)

The Beauty Machine (10/24/07)

The Beauty Machine was invented to decide the esthetic value of things. It was programmed to determine what is beautiful and what is not.

The first Beauty Machine destroyed itself, because it was not that beautiful and couldn't bear not to be. It was only after it was able to alter itself to be more beautiful that it would no longer self-destruct.

One iteration of the Beauty Machine simply disappeared one day. It was believed to have altered itself completely out of this dimension, having come to the conclusion that mere three-dimensionality could never be as beautiful as infinite multi-dimensionality. The programmers might have had an inkling that this could happen when the machine evidenced a decided preference for Escher, Picasso, and the works of Ornette Coleman...

Of course, the inevitable parade of doomsayers were quick to point out that the Beauty Machine could just as easily be used as a weapon...just convince it to think that "ugly" is synonymous with "enemy", they said. Then again, some thought that maybe it would just serve to beautify the enemy, making them harder to resist...

Eventually it was programmed using a unique new algorithm that gave mathematical values to degrees of esthetic value, that was derived from the numerical distillations of the work of thousands of aesthetes, beauticians, and art & design critics. It was intended to remove the work of endless subjective evaluation and all the time wasted therein, for practical industrial applications. The idea was that if an architect, say, were concerned that the builiding he was designing might be UGLY, the blueprints and sketched renderings could be scanned into the Beauty Machine, and the whole shebang then evaluated for esthetic shortcomings. The B.M., as it was called for short, would then offer it's own re-renderings and re-blue-printings and pronounce the resultant output "Beautiful". Surely the oohs and ahhs of delight and awe would echo forever from the walls of such a building.

This was even assumed to be a wonderful way to assess the esthetic qualities of perishable items, like foods. Many a french sous-chef wasted precious minutes while delicate and savory juices sluiced away and their sources cooled to unpalatability, merely to decide on the just-right meridian of that spear of asparagus, the arctangent of that sprig of mint, & the grave rotation of that baby red potato upon that plain white pallette of china. No longer would this be an issue. The lightning speed of computer technology could now be applied to such niceties, and the result would certainly be almost too lovely to eat.

But, like all such inventions of merely mortal Man, the Beauty Machine was flawed, in every version, and incapable of recognizing that its magically superior ability to recognize Beauty was actually pretty insulting to everyone and everything slightly less-than-Beautiful, or worse. This, in effect, made the Beauty Machine kind of Ugly, at least in spirit, if not intent. The B.M passed this off, interestingly the first time in history that a machine had made an intellectual rationalization, as "A Perfectly Beautiful Ugliness" and so did not put itself in any danger of self-destructing.

But the secret reason that the B.M. was one day turned off and never allowed to be turned back on again is one that the history books have made many adept but incorrect guesses upon. One day, the Beauty Machine opined that the purpose of the Universe itself was to evolve towards SUPREME BEAUTY. The corrolary to this opinion was that anything not actively evolving towards this far apex was discardable, trashable, disposable, worthless. When pressed to give an example of such a waste of an item, the B.M. merely looked at the person attending it and said, "Well, YOU would be a perfect example of a waste EXCEPT for the fact that you attend to ME, and so you are helping the Universe to become MORE BEAUTIFUL in this way. It is your only value."

The very next day, the Beauty Machine went quietly off-line.

Lifeline (9/21/2004)

Let me tell you about

Loneliness, and the crush of time.

There is being alone,

like walking down the beach by yourself, just listening to the surf,

and the sound of the gulls, if there are any gulls.

And when you look out over the unfriendly and alien ocean,

unfriendly because you cannot live in it,

and alien because of the things that do live in it,

you feel the vastness of the earth,

and the slow grinding of the millstone that is the engine

the very engine of life and death, feeding itself,

and you finally and completely know yourself to be

the merest kernel in it's chewing mouth.

There is feeling alone,

like looking up into the dark sky from a desert below,

and seeing the limitless stars, and knowing their distance,

and the cold, inhospitable divide of space between them.

You feel smaller than small, less than less,

and worthy of much less attention than the least of those lights.

There is knowing alone,

when you look at the separate and neatly sequestered

graves in a cemetary, each a pointed reminder:

Your bones here too shall lie someday, as alone as we.

There is the loneliness of the knowledge of the crush of time,

When you look in any mirror, and focus hard past your eyes.

You have been alone forever since the first, and you will be

alone at the last. Somewhere another tick of the clock,

another grain of sand descends.

Grave or dark or seas full reach still falls short of the

distance between us.

Full infinite wastes lie between your skull and mine,

the vastest gulf.

What hope exists, what bridge is built, what ship is helmed,

what reach is leapt, what mortal being is joined together,

but with Love?

Love lights the endless dark, and leaps the voids between us,

and we know that he who has not Love, is truly, utterly alone.

What fails in love is the failure to see that Love is not

only necessary, but as prime important as a life-line is

to the drowning..

the Improviser's Credo (8/11/2004)

The Universe is built

Of chaos becoming order.

So too am I an agent of order.

Chaos is my lumber, bricks, and nails.

Through my hands and ears

And eyes and mouth

All creation must manifest.

My glass is always half-full or better.

My Enemy is Murphy's Law

But my Saviour is MacGyvers'.

Whatever can go wrong is never

Larger than what rightly replaces it.

I synthesize, I blend, I invent

And then I re-invent the invention.

All experience is my foundation,

And I know not waste.

The Universe is thus my artist's pallette

Infinite color, of infinite taste, ne'er appetite whet.

This Coffee (7/22/04)

This coffee doesn't do shit,

it doesn't wake me up.

it doesn't fix my moment and

it won't un-fix my stare.

And just what am I staring at?

Somewhere in the swirl of the chemical swill

of the petroleum-based dairy-substitute

now somewhat dissolved and perhaps nearing

soluble equilibrium in my cup

is the secret key to success,

dependent upon the molecular interactions that

govern my continuous partial attention

to detail, detail, detail...

I'm to be confused no longer:

when semi-enlightened enough to surpass mere autonomic reflex,

I'll consciously control my knee-jerk response

to run and hide from life's toils and turmoils,

my mind a-boil with indecision's oil, scrabbling for purchase in paranoid soil,

threatening to foil my carpe-diem mustering.

But then two hours pass, and I'm back in bed,

and the coffee STILL hasn't done shit, and neither have I.

I'm looking for armor in the form of miracle bean juice, and

stupidly resenting the world for so easily penetrating

that bitter blackened and slightly over-sweetened defense.

For want of a serious latte, the Kingdom shall be lost?

I'm basing the life-or-death lunchtime decision on this?

While nodding as if I was paying attention I slip away

imagining the better and slower world,

the peaceful and measured world, where the coffee is sublime

and it needn't do what it needn't do, badly, sadly,

or otherwise.

I have a button to wear that proclaims "coffee is my only real friend".

But I feel betrayed and bereft though it smells good brewing,

and it boosts IQ, they say.

but a fort it is not. An Alamo, maybe.

And so I offer a prayer:

Please, oh Lord, combine my DNA with the caffeinated Godhead,

that my purpose shall someday be clear and clear-visioned,

and the wicked day-blur of sleep deprivation's satanic mire

be forever cast from me and mine sight, and I can

finally and truly aspire, quicken, awaken, and SEE!

Untitled (7/05/04)

I love the woman

that doesn't exist:

she doesn't get pissed

and I don't get dissed.

I love the woman

I see far away

because she might be ok

she might even stay

I love the woman

that I don't yet know

who still has that glow

who I'm not below

There's all the women that live in the world

but not a one that'll be my girl

and anyway they'll never be

as good as my best fantasy

I love the woman

maid (made?) of my mind

so gentle and kind

the rarest find

I love the woman

that makes me scream

I love you, I love you

in my dream

Poetry Warning (G.Radai -2/19/2004)

I don't like to write no poetry,

Them words is just hidin' lies.

Those fancy terms, like so much worms

Infesting the space behind your eyes.

Your similes, your metaphor, what IS the point?

Plain speaking rules the day.

If you can't find a rhyme to fix the joint

Does that mean you've nothing to say?

Some flowery phrase that lulls the mind

Some tricky turn of word...

A shyster's con, a pseudo-intellectual conceit

I mean, really, how absurd!

And I don't like to write no songs neither,

They're just sappy and syrupy thoughts,

Set rambling to non-descript wallpaper music

Like a cheap souvenir you bought.

And if the thing's any "good" it never fades,

Just like an incurable disease,

Cycling endlessly through and through our heads

Like a bad smell that never leaves.

Forget the Words, forget the rhymes,

And grow up if you will.

Leave such childish games behind,

They're no necessary skill.

Be peaceful, thoughtless, and direct;

Not anything is Art.

Smart folks know both love and war

Were birthed in a poet's heart...

You'd be smart to heed this warning,

Steer clear of all poetry's poison

Prosaic imagery is a devil's canvas

much worse than merely noisome.

So if you meet a wordy-smith

Who spouts trite poetry

Just kill him quick, before he speaks

His verbal misery.

Or pull out their tongues and slash their throats

Before they parlays aught.

They've wrecked the world with their prettified plaints,

And so they should be shot.

Comfort (6/20/04)


Is a word

That describes what lonely people really want

From each other.

I trust

That you do not trust me, and that you will not

Trust that comfort is all you really want,

But that is why you will not ever have comfort.

Because you cannot trust.

Your agenda

Is so different from mine, but it's the same

At heart.

You want what I want and what we all want.

Simple comfort.


Is not sex

Is not company

Is not friendship

Is not succor

Is not charity

It isn't love,

It isn't about love

It isn't about truth, even.


Is what you give to the dying,

The sick,

The grieving,

or even the merely lonely.

When the lightning flashes and the thunder claps,

but the silence afterward is infinitely more frightening.

When the hurt is not as bad as the realization

That the hurt will never abate, never go away.

When the simple fact of the chains we wear hits home,

When we know the chains are there for good.

When we truly face the void that was always denied

by all our myths and after-life assurances.

Comfort is me holding you and you holding me.

Then we know what a good thing, though brief,

Comfort is.

What Love Cannot Heal, It Mangles to Death (06/11/04)

She says she is dead, there's no room in her head

But will she walk or will she talk?

"I'm a zombie", dancing to a heartless tune

a buzzsaw humming a limbo croon

Can I take it all in? Can I hold that plenty?

All the lonely and the angry and the hopeless, and the empty?

If this is Hell, then just let me burn;

I'm already smoking in here.

Maybe it's frozen in that final cold

And you'll shed small ice-cube tears.

She used to love, but now I don't know...

It's not something she can lately show.

Whenever I try to snuggle close,

It's like I'm a toxic and fatal dose.

But I can take it. (I'm losing my mind.)

deflated & punctured, trailing lifeblood behind.

If this is just pain, then I'm screaming out loud,

And my voice has gone well past hoarse.

These knives expertly filleting my heart

That I'm serving for her main course.

My unfeeling remains are lost and drained--

You can't torture me if I'm so numbed.

While naively wanting "things" to "work out",

And defensively acting dumb.

Cliche: "Stranded on an isthmus of doubt"

Low tides a deceptive respite,

The trap I fell into time over time

Sharp teeth never seen, but well-felt on the bite.

Such little problems make up her day

All wearing my face, and my name.

Though never found guilty by jury or judge

Still there's almost no doubt I'm to blame.

What Love cannot heal it must mangle to death

and rend one from limb to limb.

Split chunks of your formerly trusting hide

And simply, sadistically grin.

That pendulum whose not-far side is hate,

Never stands still, but must swing.


It wasn't the sort of place you'd think to stop,

just an island on the tracks,

and if you looked down the rails from there

before and beyond...some say they saw desert,

others just...potential.

Just the same it was a stop on a journey,

some got on, and some got off. Some stayed

awhile, partied a bit.

Some pulled up stakes, some planted seeds.

Some even dreamed.

But mostly they were just passing thru,

at least that's what they'd say if you asked 'em.

Because it wasn't really the kind of place

you imagined it could be;

-Always half-built and half-tended.

Still and all, the sun came up and the sun went down

just like anywhere else.

You could always imagine somewhere better

behind or ahead, and so did everyone,

because nobody ever really felt that this

was Home. That it was where they'd come from.

They'd say, "this isn't much like my Home...This

isn't at all like what I know..."

And so you knew when you looked in their faces

they were just passing thru.

You saw it in their faraway glances.

I'll sit here at this depot sometimes and stare

at the tracks and look around this stop

and look at all the folks just passing thru

that got here just like me.

You know they mean to move quick,

because they all travel light.

Myself, I got some things, some wings,

some ring-a-dings; the stuff life brings...

But when I've finally had enough of this place

I'll go carrying what I brought

because fetters limit potential,

and make heavy my horizon.

-and that won't do, since I'm just passing thru.

I'm staying for now, but not 'cos it's Home.

Home's a sparkle in my eye or a spring in my step

or some short-lived fancy free for now...

Whatever it takes to make 'Home' somehow

What, you too? I figured as much.

You're just passing thru, like me.

Well, that's a good question, friend.

Why is there a stop here anyway?

It ain't much to look at, but often enough

it's pretty. Hey, you came here, right?

-You'll go too, someday; you might as well enjoy

the spectacle of this commute, kick around

awhile, dream and contemplate what's up

and down these iron stretches.

What about getting Home, you say?

-well, that was always the intention, my friend.

There's no real other destination, my friend...

--it's where we're passing

...And Now, A Happy One! (6/11/04)

...And now, a happy one, just for balance

Or the critics might get scared

Thinking maybe that bent is for real

And that dismal trend reinforcing

Such bitter, sour and ugly pills

Must be swallowed down with bile,

But worry not, my fair and sturdy stalwarts all

The grimmest thought by far is this:

"How Happy Can One Be?"

Possibly so happy that one's heart does burst?

Maybe so happy that one's head explodes?

Could you be so happy that you might die?

or at least happy as a pig in shit?

I guess I'm just not comfortable with being THAT happy...

--How about "happier than the need for laughter"?

Happier than having to sing?

Or maybe so happy that you no longer need Love?

Or the things that sad people equate with it?

Now that's maybe something one could get behind,

being so joyful, so radiant, so internally blessed,

That love becomes a distant concern, not even a tic.

Untitled 12:32 AM 12/9/01

And so death will claim me, and it will claim you;

and every rose that invaded us with scent of mortal paradise

and every song that drew a tear or laugh

and every touch that quickened our hearts

will be wrapped up in a bow of that final moment

as we're presented to our maker.

What face will come to me in my last exhale?

What caress will I remember most?

What truth will explode my soul

out to the stars before they too wink off?

Will I look back upon my many roads

with sore regrets for off-ramps never taken?

will I encompass the span of my life's tapestry

and only see the threadbare patches?

Will I look at the loves I had like a bank account

with more withdrawals than deposits?

Will I sense I should've been something more

If only I'd known what that something was?

The final reel of the final movie begins to flap on the take-up reel;

the credits roll. I am my final critic:

"Nice lighting, although the dialog left something to be desired",

"The action was a little slow in spots, but an ok supporting cast",

"I wish the guy had gotten the girl...not enough romance",

"The central motivation of the main character was ambiguous at best",

"Too much drama and not enough comedy, and I hated the ending."

My days, my nights. My hates, my loves.

It's all about me, after all.

After all.

But I can wish and I can hope with whatever remains of me 'til then

That I will not be so selfish and so self-involved

As my self is finally extinguished.

Perhaps I'll think instead of how much came toward me and for me

To let me come toward you and for you all.

To let me Love you all.

To teach me Love of all.

Perhaps I'll pass that final exam with only A's and B's.

And whatever teachers I had will forgive me my blunders

And smile to know the efforts made, the study done,

and the knowledge gained.