January 24, 2017

3rd Eye Art

I was more than a little excited to get a package in the mail last week.  It was the first ever package I had received from the UK but that was not why I was excited.  It was a package from Spencer Derry who is a wonderfully talented artist from the UK.  Now for a brief backstory, Spencer was also known online for a while as 3rdEyeBoy and his art was used on many occasions by Prince and 3rdEyeGirl. Needless to say, I was excited to find that Spencer was selling/auctioning some of the fabulous artwork that he had designed for Prince but that may have not been used or chosen.  I actually participated in a couple of auctions and managed to win one and lose one but the one that I did win was a drawing of 3rdEyeGirl. That brings us to the package I received in the mail. So I carefully opened the package and removed the precious artwork inside.  As I looked at it, all I could think was that it was even more amazing in person than it appeared in the pictures. I happily shared my new prize with my purple family on Twitter and Instagram so I thought I should share it here as well.  So without further ado, here it is:
Amazing, isn't it? I think so! I have three more of his artworks being shipped as I write this and they should be here in a few days.  Whenever I get them, I will share them here also. If you are interested in any of Spencer's art, you can start by checking here. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  

January 21, 2017

Candles 4 Prince

Thank you to Cindy for the candles and the Pythian Princess for everything else! To my Purple Family, remember, "Hold on 2 Ur soul! We got a long way 2 go!"

January 11, 2017

Will the Digital Haze prevail in 2017?

"You take the blue pill, the story ends.
You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. 
You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
As we begin the new year, there are so many questions about where the world is heading. Fake news, political hacking, scandals and pseudo-reality TV wash over us like never-ending tidal waves from a tsunami and threaten to drown us in a wasteland of lethargic human-like robots.  Sometimes we need to unplug from the digital world and clear out the noise in our heads.  Let the haze abate so that we can clearly see the real world and not the matrix that has been programmed for us.  Back in the old NPGMC days, Prince shared an essay entitled The Digital Haze. I thought I would share that here.

The Digital Haze
If u have ever found urself staring endlessly at the screen, without purpose, feeling strangely empty-headed — u r not alone. Millions of people worldwide r feeling xactly the same way u do, and u know it.
It used 2 b that the screen in front of which u felt that way was the TV screen. “Tele-vision” — such a promising medium, full of wonderful, educational, cultural, artistic potential… And what do we have now? We do have the 500 channels that the technocrats kept promising us. And we’ll soon get high-definition, theater-like TV as well, no doubt.
But all the technological advances in the world cannot hide the fact that the screen we r staring at is an empty screen — a screen blurting out a constant stream of pointless, meaningless images stuffed down r gaping throats. Television has slowly but surely turned us in2 hallucinated dummies. The average IQ of the TV-fed population might have increased by a few points, but anyone who has set foot in a classroom recently knows very well that this is not the kind of intelligence that ENLIGHTENS or uplifts anyone.
TV has definitely become the “supreme time waster” (George Gilder), the ad-impacted wall of universal banality, gratuitous violence, unbearable silliness, and beyond-embarrassing innuendo against which any remnants of lucidity will inevitably come crashing and fade away.
The Real Virtuality
In this brand new millennium, however, r lives r just as full of computer monitors as they r of TV screens. And, un4tunately, much in the same way TV has more or less wasted all its potential, it seems that the computer — this potentially amazing tool which was supposed 2 bring us “interactivity,” 2 xpand r horizons far beyond the limited, 2-dimensional world of TV — is quickly following the same path.
We r not talking about the infamous “world wide wait” here — the constant waiting 4 ur computer 2 do whatever u asked it 2 do. No, technological advances will soon take care of that. We won’t have 2 wait 4 much longer. We will soon all get “instant access.” That’s not the problem.
The problem is — instant access 2 what? If current trends r any indication, we won’t have access 2 much more than a slightly “enhanced” replica of the collective hallucination that TV has ended up creating. U might b able 2 participate in pseudo-“polls” and “surveys” (which no one xcept 4 the FIFA ever really takes in2 account), u might b able 2 fill out “feedback forms” and subscribe 2 “mailing lists”… However, whatever ignorance the traditional moguls don’t manage 2 impose on u themselves thru those “official” vehicles is soon perpetrated by the anarchy of confusing voices and endless inarticulate babble that disguises itself under fancy labels such as “web forums” or “newsgroups.”
Who is still able 2 use the word “news” without quotation marks 2 describe any of the mainstream services labelled as such? Does anyone really believe that what is called “news,” be it on TV, on the radio, in the morning papers or on the Net, is actually anything new?
A politician who campaigns against clear-cutting or rampant urbanization and actually gets elected — that would b news.
A new record that sells millions of copies without over-the-top promotion, thru the sheer quality of its music — that would b news.
A major movie without sex or violence that still manages 2 b both erotic and cathartic — that would b news.
A profit-making multinational that puts its workers ahead of its shareholders — that would b news.
A health report that covers a scientific achievement that actually brings relief to long-suffering patients, rather than the promise of potential relief 10 years down the road if all further tests are conclusive and not 2 many rats or monkeys die in the process — that would b news.
A half-hour news program that devotes 20 percent of its airing time — that would b a full 6 minutes — 2 addressing issues directly affecting 20 percent of the population — that’s how many still live in poverty in the US — that would b news.
But what u r watching on TV, hearing on the radio or accessing on the web isn’t news. It’s a collective ILLUSION that poses as the “real world” and has made us all 4get what the real real world looks like. It’s a “virtual reality” that has become more real than the actual reality, that occupies r minds much more than the actual reality ever manages 2 do. It’s a constant stream of immediately 4gettable and immediately 4gotten “content” based on a meaningless, mind-numbing “cult of the next” (designer Michael Graves). “Give us something other than what u gave us yesterday” is the one and only philosophy upon which the little bit of thinking that happens 2 go on in the minds of r “decision-makers” is solely based.

Music or Plastic?

It becomes even sadder when u look at what this whole system has done 2 music — or what now passes 4 music in these computerized days… The use of the computer continues 2 further blur the line between real talent and plastic. In order 2 produce something “new,” u just need 2 push the same buttons in a different order. Just like any other field subjected 2 the joint forces of technology and capitalism, music is becoming more and more of a “product” and less and less of an art.
Is there any denying this objective, palpable, observable decline? How many real music lovers actually listen 2 anything in the Top 40? Or, as Chuck D. puts it, does real art matter much “2 the masses that see hip hop as something similar 2 fast food fries”?
The computer, un4tunately, has become the tool of choice in this decline. Drum machines, digital synthesizers, music software, digital recording equipment — those were tools that, once again, were supposed 2 xpand r musical horizons, 2 take us in2 new realms of endless sonic possibilities…
Instead, they've turned out 2 b mostly the right tools in the wrong hands. Rather than being used 4 sonic xploration, they r being used as a cheaper SUBSTITUTE 4 the real thing, a faster, more “cost-effective” way of producing product.

Mind-Opening vs Mind-Numbing

Real drummers don’t play every note perfectly. They go with the flow, so 2 speak, they strive 2 squeeze as much tightness as possible out of their interaction with the other instruments in the band. They create a 4m of anticipation, of MUSICAL AWARENESS both in their fellow players and in the listener. They keep the listener aware of the xploratory nature of their playing. It’s the same with all instruments. And when u put them 2GETHER, when that funky guitar lick falls xactly where the drummer wanted it 2 fall, where he had created SPACE 4 it, between the pumping bass and the keyboard chord — and that’s not necessarily xactly on the beat — then it all makes musical sense, it all GELS — and the resulting jelly is a xhilarating, mind-opening xperience 4 both the players and the audience.
How is a machine ever going 2 b able 2 recreate that? The best effect that a drum machine, playing uni4mly, xactly, directly on the beat can hope 2 have on the listener is some kind of numbing effect, some 4m of HYPNOSIS that doesn’t require awareness, but surrender.
This hypnotic value, in itself, can of course b used, on occasion, 2 convey some sort of “message” or 2 evoke some specific kind of mood. Also, skilled drummers with their own xisting mastery of the instrument might find ways 2 complement their drumming thru clever, innovative use of drum machines.
However, when computerized music machines r used — like they r in most cases these days — as a substitute 4 the real thing, then they can’t really hope 2 b much more than an ERSATZ, a desperately dull imitation. In the sadly very real world of “virtual” music, instead of being an instrument, instead of just being a vehicle 2 xpress the creativity of the musician, the computer is quickly becoming the musician itself. When all it takes 2 “play” a song is 2 just press a button once and then listen 2 the machine play and sing the entire song 4 u, can it really still b called art? When one single half-baked, half-original musical idea is stretched through endless, repetitive looping over 5 boring minutes, is it still really a song?
R scientists still know very little about how r brains operate, but we wouldn’t b surprised if science one day demonstrated that live instrument playing and musical machines affect 2 completely different areas of the mind. Intuitively, we would say that machines pretty much shut down what live instruments manage 2 open, that is, the part of r selves that can b TOUCHED, that can b MOVED — in other words, r HEARTS and SOULS.

Tainted Water

The drumming machine is a perfect xample of what the computer will never even come close 2 recreating — let alone actually CREATING. We have no doubt that further technical “improvements” will enable the people using those machines 2 achieve a seemingly more accurate imitation of the real thing, but it is and will remain an imitation.
And it makes perfect sense, really.
Most machines r created by engineers, not by artists. Engineers can spend all their lives trying 2 get their machines 2 reproduce what they think is human thought or creativity as closely as possible — without ever asking themselves WHY on earth they would even want 2 achieve a thing. It’s silly, no?
And most machines r used by merchants, not artists. Which brings us 2 another point. By the time u get 2 hear a certain piece of music on the air, it has already gone thru half a dozen MATRIXES:
  • the artist
  • the manager
  • the record company
  • the visual medium (what song would make a good video)
  • the program director
  • and the DJ (who says whether or not he likes the song)
As u can c, when a program director says, “I can play whatever I want,” he means 2 say, “I can play whatever I choose from what I am GIVEN.” And what he is given is something that has already gone thru a xtensive selection process that has little 2 do with music.
The worst matrix of all is the artists themselves, un4tunately, becuz most let all the other matrixes have a pernicious influence on them and their “artistic choices.”
The end result is that, by the time the water finally reaches us, it’s so dirty that we gag.
The problem with machines is that they r, here again, used 2 make the matrixes even more “efficient.” Where, in the past, an artist could still faintly hope 2 find, by chance, a human ear able 2 abstract itself from all that jive and let its instinct speak — now we have machines crunching numbers and spitting out “market surveys” and “profit estimates.” Everything is becoming more and more computer-assisted, automated, and the real victims r the artists, with their quickly disappearing freedom of thought, freedom of choice.

The Greatest?

Lest we 4get, the music lover himself is caught in his own web of matrixes. From the record stores at which he is able 2 shop, 2 the radio stations that r available 2 him, 2 the selection of music 2 which he is xposed thru the various media outlets 2 which he has access, 2 his own internal conflicts between what he FEELS that he likes and he THINKS that he should like, between the responsibility he has 2 compensate the artists 4 their work and his reluctance 2 give most of his money away 2 record companies which r basically xploiting the artists he likes — the music lover is faced, on his own smaller scale, with the same type of struggle that faces the artist.
And, here again, at this point in time, the computer is mostly being used 2 enhance xisting structures and make them more effective, more profitable. There is a battle going on right now, as we speak, between the obsolete structures that traditional companies and media outlets r trying 2 impose on the digital world, and the FREEDOM afforded by this same digital world 2 its individual members.
Let’s take the xample of music charts, and more specifically of those “lists” that keep popping up out of nowhere and pretend 2 classify, rate, prioritize music 4 us. “The 100 Best Albums Of All Time,” “The 100 Greatest Guitarists,” “The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos,” “The Best of The Year 2000”… We’ve seen them all, we know how meaningless they r, and yet it seems that they r becoming the automatic escape mechanism 4 uninspired journalists and “pundits” who have run out of ways 2 talk — or more specifically not talk — about music, and r desperate 2 fill their columns or the cover of their magazines b4 the next deadline.
Does any music lover actually recognize themselves in those lists? We have nothing against people xpressing their own personal preferences… But they should at the very least b presented as such. Instead, the compilers of those lists claim 2 have consulted “music xperts,” 2 have conducted scientific polls among artists and 2 have established the ultimate, definitive, undisputable truth… until next month’s list, of course.
Revolver better than Songs In The Key Of Life? “Taxman,” “Yellow Submarine” and “Doctor Robert” better than “Love’s In Need Of Love Today,” “I Wish” and “Pastime Paradise”? If u could ask Paul McCartney, what do u think he would answer?
It’s a real competition out there. Each web site needs 2 have its own “Best Of,” or so it seems. Soon enough, we will get computer-generated lists: “Based on comprehensive scientific analysis of the digitally sampled sound waves of 10,000 recordings, our supercomputer has established that the Beatles were indeed better than the Rolling Stones and that the 100 Best Albums Of All Time are…”
Here again, instead of being put 2 good use, the computer, the Internet r merely used 2 amplify, 2 worsen an xisting source of wasted talk. It would b easy 2 just ignore the proliferation of such lists, if they didn’t play such a part in perpetuating the status quo that empowers the producers and the customers 2 the detriment of the artists and the music lovers.
It would be easy 2 ignore such lists if they were not such a typical symptom of the widespread tendency 2 avoid discussing the REAL ISSUES.

The Real ?s

Indeed, as every1 can c, music is fast becoming a prime xample of the fundamental issues that r “digital world” is raising — issues such as:
Where is the soul in a computer-induced world?
If the world we create is driven by computers, where do we live?
Can true artistic talent still survive against this mass of pseudo-art?
Will those who use the computer survive against those who let it use them?
Can and will true art live on?
Is true art still feasible, still realistic in 2day’s mind-numbing, computer-aided digital haze?
U b the judge.

From Bad 2 Worse

Computers rn’t bad in themselves, of course. It’s just that they r 2 often used by the xisting system 2 make everything that’s already bad even worse. Computers calculating what would please us. Computers guessing what we want. Y do we ever need 2 b TOLD what we want? Y do we ever buy music based on what we r told rather than what we HEAR? No one seems 2 dare 2 take the time 2 xplore music at his/her own pace. Let the computer do the xploring 4 u and find something “new” 4 u. Fast food fries indeed.
Real music by real artists 4 real music lovers is being relegated 2 the margins. Those margins might b somewhat stronger thanks 2 some of those new technologies (such as digital distribution), but they r still margins — and there is little sign of a 4thcoming, wide-ranging revolution that would really reverse the balance.
The NPG proposes 2 reverse the trend. NPG Online Ltd. wants u 2 use ur computer 2 make a difference. R site eliminates the matrixes. Xplore the music. Choose ur way. Let others b used. Tell us what u want. Say goodbye 2 the hype. Open ur mind. FEEL the music.

Like Prince once said, "The war will go on and on! You best leave now!" Is it the microchip in your neck? Is it a brave, new world? The choice is yours! Wake up, children! Dance the dance electric and Free Urself! 

So now the question remains, do you take the red pill or do you take the blue pill?