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Friday, July 12, 2002

Runaway Train

Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were like a blowtorch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning

Soul Asylum - Lyrics by Dave Pirner 1992

Runaway Train

Oh I'm out of control and out of my hands
I'm tearing like a demon through no man's land
Trying to get a grip on my life again
Nothing hits harder than a runaway train

Elton John - Lyrics by Bernie Taupin 1992

I noticed a recurrence on local radio, of the song "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum. For quite a while the song has resided in my brain like a mantra; such that I decided to scrutinize its lyrics.
As I read the text of the song I could understand why, somehow the narrative runs parallel with a phase in my personal life that demands a different attitude, a thorough navigational change of plan, best exemplified by the following stanza:

I can go where no one else can go
I know what no one else knows
Here I am just a-drownin' in the rain
With a ticket for the runaway train

Contrary to the protagonist of the song, I am not the youth who can capitalize on the full breadth of juvenile wisdom.
I am keenly aware though of the impromptus that chance offers, and try to act accordingly. Within the context of that readiness music can be a potent mystic consort; a resource of emphatic existential experience.

Next to the Soul Asylum song, I also found an Elton John track by the same title; amazingly written in that same year, which offers another vision of the same dilemma.

If interested in a convenient survey of song lyrics on the web: have a look at Jonathan Harel's site: 1673 songs on board to date.

posted by Walter at 7/12/2002

Thursday, July 11, 2002

The one and Eno

In a WIRED issue of 1995: I came across a vibrant interview with Brian Eno (nee: Brian Peter George st John la Baptiste de la Salle Eno): artist, musician, visionaire and part scientist.
The interview contains assumptions and metaphors that offer fresh and energizing insights in the relationship between man, machine and art.

"Classical music is music without Africa"

"I've always knew that if I like something now, other people are going to like it soon enough"

"Voyeurism is never mere; you're only voyeuristic about things you're interested in"

"Only nitwits make it through manuals. Since only they have that kind of time to spare"

"Calling some things "music" is a mistake. It's drama with noise"

"As compared to science: I don't think that art is dangerous"

"Art is a rehearsal of empathy"

"Process not product"

In the interview with Kevin Kelly Eno also launches the notion of "surfing" as a means to describe a state of in-between control. It makes me wonder if in hindsight Brian Eno coined the now ubiquitous phrase "Web surfing"?

For a current interview with Eno have a look at:

posted by Walter at 7/11/2002

Wednesday, July 10, 2002


I rummaged in the big stockpile of magazines that constitutes (among other things) the treasure vault
of my studio; and noticed that advertising punch lines have dumbed down considerably, or in the case
of the current abundance of lifestyle ads have disappeared altogether.

These examples are witness to the wittycisms of yore:

"My marriage was a disaster, but then I started shopping" - Diesel

"His money is managing just fine without him" - Merrill Lynch

"Punctuality is highly overrated" - Beaulieu Vineyard

"So agile, it can make a lower-case U-turn" - CMC cars

"Goes well with anything, especially red carpets" -

"Use your brain, or use your mind" -

posted by Walter at 7/10/2002

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Brood Inc.

This week sees the anniversary of Herman Brood's suicide. A Dutch pop icon, painter and performer; his music never much appealed to me, though I have never joined in the collective bashing of Brood as a painter, as was common practice among artists and critics. Brood was about to become permanently relegated to the lesser realm of "graffiti artist" before he committed suicide. Scarce regard was paid for his secure, urgent and potent graphic signature. Brood the entertainer; diffused Brood, artiste brut. Nowadays when occasionally one of his larger pictures in on public show
one is struck by its immediacy and personal zest In spite of an ecstatic public agenda he found means to pack his punch into a prolific painter's cv.

As Brood walked the last half mile of his career towards the Hilton hotel not far from my home, where from the top floor he would plunge to his death. He had traveled beyond this controversial public persona, shed the monster he created, and secured his claim to fame.

During the course of a turbulent and dramatic media-fest that day, I wrote the following poem to his memory.

Elegy for Herman Brood

Now has flown Brood: painter, sinner
The tomb that enshrined him is the sky above us
easily mistaken for heaven's mirror

This plunge cannot be bettered

Accept my call for arms: merge the painter's drip
incite the rattle of spray cans, and confront the
wayward words of poets still captive in the gloom

This city is now incomplete

Food is not in peril: beverage is not scarce
the night is saturated with sluts, vagabonds, and
small-time dreamers basking in the moon's stately glow

This status quo now goes unchallenged

Walter van Lotringen 2001

posted by Walter at 7/09/2002

Monday, July 08, 2002

Man about the house

It's 8.00 a.m. G. my neighbour is standing in the garden of his home, clad in a house-coat, smoking his cigarette.
He is facing the primary school building situated in the center of our housing block.
As I am looking down at him from the second story of my house; he looks like a forlorn, clueless actor on a bleak podium, right leg resting on a stool, poise erect, drawing smoke from his cigarette in a quick succession of nervous puffs. The scene has become a recurrent spectacle. G. has to smoke his cigarettes in the backyard because he adheres to the contract settled with his wife that decrees: all smoking done outside.

His spouse D. ; mother to their two children is a pleasant, big woman with an energetic and jovial air.
She is a committed and patient mother to their two children, a son and a budding little daughter.
D. operates from her office; a musical artists management agency; based in their home. Often she sits in the garden engrossed in extensive phone calls with respective artists and clients, thereby pacing around the yard occupying it's whole space. D's professional persona can be described as prominent and assertive, driven by a bossy bravado. Although her husband is tough, short tempered and outspoken, he always pulls the short end when it comes to negotiating home rules with his wife.
If occasionally I speak to G. in the street, mostly on guard and aware, he conducts conversation in a whisper, a trait that he developed in his high-profile job as an e-banking security supervisor. Since they have become residents of the neighbourhood he has honed a tight and reserved profile that seems at odds with his wife's preference for casual communication. Her voice is clear, almost shrill, and often she concludes disputes and social dealings with a characteristicly high pitched giggle that drifts across the playground like a turkey's mating call.

posted by Walter at 7/08/2002