Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why I'm called Salvador Dali Lama

Greetings extended family and friends.

Before publishing an update on my life, I'm going to explain why I like to be called “Dali” rather then Max or Maxim. You can still call me Max, but I'm going to be introducing myself as Dali, hope it doesn't cause too much inconvenience.

So, the name first arrived in the fall of 2009 after coming back from the West coast for the first time. I'd been interested in writing comedy for some time and at that point was dating a comedian who inspired me to start writing jokes. Among those jokes were joke names; Willy Nelson Mandela, Curious George Forman, Harmonica Lewinsky and my favourite, Salvador Dali Lama. The jokes have continued since, telling them in the driest form seems to be the funniest; I think they're getting better. The joke names didn't come up much until several months later.

In the spring of 2010, I flew to Vancouver in order to perform banjo music at a longboard race called Danger Bay. The year before I'd stumbled across it, got to play in between sets of metal band and was welcomed into the family. In 2010, the race was fantastic and proceeded to turn into the most epic, transformative, supernatural seven months anyone could hope to fathom. (The burning man-vortex story being the peak)

After long-distance longboarding, living on a sailboat, managing a commune, getting arrested for not having a last name, smashing my banjo and losing my wallet, I played a gig with some friends I'd met at the Vancouver folk fest and ended up at one of their houses. His parents were spiritual musicians who happened to be touring so we had the house to ourselves to jam and be merry. The party went to the wee hours and a couch was offered for me to crash on. In the morning, it was only....his name was something like True, (forgive me for forgetting) and I jamming, talking about the deeper things in life and eventually we got on the top of a chemical called DMT.

Last month I wrote a song about DMT, here are a few lines:

In the pineal gland, of each Human Brain, there is a chemical when you're born
Dimethyltryptamine’s released, at dreaming, birth and death, when you smoke it, it's better than porn

DMT is present in a multitude of plants around the world and many traditional cultures have extracted it and used it in spiritual practice. The ritualistic drinking of Ayahuasca tea sends people on six plus hour journeys through their personhood, facing the repressed and purging negative energy. The chemical can be extracted to a pure crystal form, of which there is much information on the web. Terrence McKenna likens it to a five minute, total hard drive defrag. Joe Rogan said “it's not like going to another dimension; it is going to another dimension.” It turned out that True had some and offered me some.

I'd read and heard a lot about it, but thank fully we live in the age of google and had the opportunity to look up everything we needed to know about it. All the information said it was safe, the important thing was to have no interruptions and to smoke it with herbs in a big bowl since it needs a high temperature. So we locked the door and turned off the phone, asked True's brother to join us and said some prayers about our intention for this medicine. Asking for clarity and guidance we spotted a pink dream catcher in the corner of the room and took our first hit.

At first, it was like a great sense of relaxation and comfort. There all the edges in the room seemed to turn into prisms, projecting rainbows everywhere. This was the first level. The website instructed to then take a bigger hit and hold it in for as long as possible. My words were “I think the universe wants me to take a bigger hit”.

A bigger hit I took and held it in for about five seconds, then every nerve in my body lit up like an endogenous zone, pure pleasure over took me, my head rolled back onto the couch (one needs to be sitting somewhere where all muscles can relax), my eyes were shut and there seemed to be a power source in front of me that was the cause of such pleasure. It was like a full body orgasm tipped off by the big bang.

My eyes wouldn't have opened if I wanted them to as my consciousness seemed to rise up into a dark place with a river of intricate geometric, interlocking forms. Then, there was flash of light, a cracking sound and all I could see as a spinning orb of light. It was of pure light in the middle, shooting out beams that then became code and numbers. Others have described this type of DMT experience as traveling to the center of the universe. Appreciating the beauty for a moment, when in a feminine voice spoke the words “you are the enlightened one”.

Sat up and opened my eyes and didn't say a thing. The website said on lookers should wait until the user says something before speaking, but we forgot to tell this to True's brother. I felt like I was in a river that was calming down, there were no thoughts in my head but when brother said “so what's next”, I surprised myself and said “ I think I have to go to Tibet”. “Why” and again surprising myself “I think I'm the Dali Lama”.

“Dali, yeah, I like that name”. And started to test it out with friends, True started calling me that. Four days later, back in Parksville for a bluegrass festival that I was a week early for. My friend Leah was cutting hair with a buzzer and chopped of my beard, but we decided to leave a curly moustache. “Oh, Salvador Dali Lama” I said, “that's my name”, and from there on in introduced myself as Dali or with all three names. From Vancouver, to Calgary to San Francisco, folks know me as Salvador Dali Lama.

When I got back to Ottawa in December of 2010, I went back to Max, and had calm and quiet winter and spring, knowing that the universe wanted me for more excitement the following summer out west. It came along; I played the longboard race for the 3rd time and soon went by SDL again. Summer 2011 was much calmer then the year before, matured a lot, found out what it means to be a man in relation to the great goddess, which is basically, god.

Now that I'm back, I'm reintegrating myself into a semblance of Day to Day, volunteering at old folks homes and such, but it's different from last fall because I'm channelling my mystical experiences into my creative outlet, the Sick Sick Sicks, and being more creative and karmically aware all around. So now you know. Feel free to call me Max or Maxim, but now you know why Dali resonates with me. Love you,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Saiboat Adventure Story, part 3 of 15

Part 3

Cutting back along the inside of Galliano Island, I began to prepare the oysters. Attempting various means of extraction, eventually settling with a thick and solid plank of wood, two work gloves, a hammer and a strong chisel. Skills from my time as a line cook at a seafood restaurant prepared me for the experimentation, being free in the open water with a full set of tools perfected the skill. A small oyster knife can't compare to the rapidity and ease of a hammer and chisel. Propping the oyster with the nerve ending facing upward, a swift knock would crack the seal; thrusting the blade around edges with a turning motion unhinged the shell without damaging it the body. Wipe away the broken bits of shell, cut the attaching tendons and scrape the flesh into a clean bowl. The first few were fried straight in oil, delicious, then we realized the leftover sour milk pancake batter would be perfect. The recipe kept evolving as I went along, always scrumptious, the perfect ones were dipped in milk, then flower, then a spiced batter and fried in hot oil deep enough to submerge the whole thing. With a honey mustard sauce they were incredible, gifts from the goddess. Frank pulled up in his 56 foot racing sailboat, the Amber. His approach to sailing was more structured then Danny's. As I was tying the boats together, he briefly went into hard-ass instructor mode, and describing the proper way to use a cleat. The rope goes once around the bottom, once around one end, then lock it off on the other end. I appreciated the lesson, often in life there is one logical, primary way to do something. Now I had a skill for life. We cruised along slowly, boats parallel, and munched on deep-fried oysters.

Pulling into the small bay where the tiny Dancer was tied up, steph took the wheel and cautiously backed and the Be Fuller in next to the Amber, with assistance from the older guys. There beside us was the famed Tiny Dancer; it was a steel boat painted green, with large dents, speckled with rust. The mast was down and the boat was ugly, but Steph was bursting and couldn't wait to get on board. The hull was water-tight and it felt stable, but there was certain sick and dark energy aboard. As we descended into the cabin, the chaos had progressed far beyond the state of the Be Fuller. It was dark in there; there were some portholes but covered with green dirt and slime. Scattered everywhere were hints of being gender transition, sticks of insens and all kinds of spices were scattered about; hypodermic needles, mostly in the packages, covered one corner of the room. Along one side was a bag of clothes exploded in a pile, in another section was cooking stove long since burnt out. A skateboard sat next to a dirty bong, more needles and random garbage seemed to grow out of the depths. My skin was crawling in that space. I think of sailboats as escapes, and maybe it was, but there was a hellish, tortured feeling in the air. I took the electric clippers found sitting on the floor; I was getting pretty shaggy at that point and needed a buzz.

Onto the Amber we brought instruments and all the food we'd rescued the day before, this meal was all about chopping, lots of veggies, a bunch of sweet potatoes, a big wok inspired the stir fry. We sat in Frank's relatively spacious dinning area, sipped and drank away. We attempted to watch a hitchcock movie, it was the first time I'd peered at a TV screen in some time. We grew tired of an Englishman poorly attempting an Irish accent, so we broke out the instruments. That was the first night I'd played much guitar for my new family, a skill I've been enjoying for a decade, and they quite appreciated it. We played and ate and drank and smoked in utter merriment as the night wore on, big yawns coxing us to bed.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sailboat adventure story, Part 2 of 15

Part 2

While walking up the ramp from the docks a sign caught my eye, "If entering Canada, please call immigration at 1-800, ect." It made me realize that many borders are like this, ei, fictional and fluid. If anyone wanted to invade or terrorize the vastly porous "border" area of this or any massive geographic region, they would have no trouble doing it.

So, Danny did some asking and found out that we could play in the bar that night and put out a hat. We had some time before the show would start so we ventured into the island and came across the town center. The market was quaint, tourist traps and toy stores, we met a lovely girl of Japanese decent who was covered in specks of paint, she wouldn't be able to make it to the gig that night but did invite us to play pickup baseball the next day during the farmers market.

Back at the large rustic restaurant/ bar, we played our hearts out. It was a Thursday night and it happened to coincide with an international disk golf tournament. The game is the same concept as normal golf, but with various sizes of Frisbees instead of clubs, aimed towards metal baskets rather then holes, usually played while drinking liquor and smoking pot. It's the type of innovation that's mirroring the greater complexification of the world these days. A bag full of disks for different distances, just like golf, but the course is covered with trees and other impediments, so other people can use it like any other natural space, unlike golf. Playing music in that bar was redemptive, I got my chance and took full advantage of it, we rocked hard for hours, swapping instruments and songs. I backed steph up on a tune that my sister had introduced to me a few years earlier, "baby, I'm an anarchist" a compelling love song about the divide between progressive ideology and radical anarchist beliefs. "Cause baby, I'm an anarchist, you're a spineless liberal, we marched together on the eight hour days, held hands in the streets of Seatle, when it came time to throw rocks through that Starbucks window, you left me all alone, all alone". We'd do that tune a number of times on our journey together.

We would talk about the idea of spiritual anarchy. Anarchy, as far as I understand, is another abstract thought, just like democracy or “the market”, but it’s more of a non-thing; it is the absence of arch or power relationships. Anarchism is the theories, concepts, philosophies, ideologies, cultures and means of existence that have grown out of that notion, sometimes cohesive, often not. An arch means one thing over another, so Anarchists are people who feel their existence is authentic enough to not be governed, if at all influenced, by exterior forces. We asked ourselves, what is it about law that makes it worth following? Our means of living without plans or expectations seemed to deliver us a much richer form of life then we'd ever experienced before. I had the feeling things would just get more interesting.

That night we had multiple guests come up and perform with us, on a break I interviewed a German man about the brilliance of disk golf. He loved the meandering around outside drinking, all the while improving skills and taking part of a supportive sporting environment, rather then a competitive one. Observing the play, it looks like quite a bit of skill; concentration and practice balance well with camaraderie and sheer joy.

One of the unexpected performers did an uncanny Willy Nelson impression; his devotion to the red haired stranger was compelling. He pulled out a songbook and we jammed away until they kicked us out. It turned out that that our new friend worked for a company that designed state of the art vaporizers, (that a way of using pot without the carcinogens). Apparently there was a party somewhere; following the crowd we got into a camper van and were greeted by ganja and cold beer. The ride was smooth and soon we found ourselves at a beautiful house in the woods, a cottage apparently. I heard second hand that the owner grew large quantities of pot, and meeting him, he seemed to be slightly on edge. The paranoia was understandable, such work is important; there are many people who rely on marijuana for medicinal and spiritual purposes, but the overhanging police presence would have detrimental effects on anyone's psyche. Steph tore into some of her original songs and impressed the pants off the crowd. There was an artist/musician there, a fellow who was carrying around a book of poetry that he'd written, and was trying to sell it. He had all the markings of unbridled alcoholic; he was a sweet man with a great smile, cleaver songs and good stories, but too self-congratulatory, plus slurred speech. He was an extreme reflection of our own existence, bouncing from gig to gig to party, a genius in many ways, he songs were witty, I saw a great troubled beauty in him.

When the night reaches it's pinnacle, Danny would no longer use his guitar, it was all about the drum, the rhythm. We'd bang out simple two chord songs and his wild hair would be flying in every direction. " Can you pass me the pot and the pipe" he asked me at one point. Fetching it for him, our host glanced at me and was taken aback. "Hey that's my pot", "I'm sorry I thought it was Danny's" I replied, "Still, there's an etiquette". "Sorry, now I know". I passed it along. We all seemed to pass out where we sat on the couches, and while up to take a leak as the sun was coming up, I spotted an empty bed, in the morning I woke up with steph in my arms. After a pancake breakfast we took a stroll though the extensive vegetable garden, our host had an incredible green thumb, a strong connection with the earth. Aparently, he and the artist had joined steph for a walk the night before, and their energies had aligned, out in the garden the artists was quite and contemplative as our host regaled them with the subtle mastery of a dedicated gardener.

We went back to the bar and took a stroll along the beach. Along our journey to the Island the marine radio was constantly spouting out weather condition, tide progressions and warnings, we'd heard numerous reports about a sail boat that had been cut loose and floating somewhere in the area. Steph was collecting shells as Danny came up to us, apparently the Tiny Dancer was being held by a friend of a friend and it was possible that we might be able to swing by and pick it up if we wanted it. The details of the story were unclear. The boat had been docked in Vancouver, owned by someone transitioning gender, that was currently in jail. This did not dissuade Steph who'd wanted a boat and felt she could take on anybody, Transvestite or not. Steph was a tough girl, after all.

We’d met the week before at Danger Bay, the biggest gathering of longboarders (extra long skateboards) in the world. Some two hundred racers gather to compete in a long distance race, a speed course, longboard hockey, a parade, free ridding, camping, partying and live music. The year before I'd ended up at the festival by random chance and somehow finagled my way onstage between sets of metal and punk bands, this year I'd been asked back to play, it was the reason I'd flown to the west coast. Steph and I hit it off right away, cruising around the camp site scrounging liquor and food, we'd crashed in the same tent for two nights in a row and as I was offered a gig in Nanaimo, she welcomed the invitation to come along for the adventure. While onstage I asked the audience what was the next step for us, Danny hollered out, "come sailing!" and voila.

Steph had been steeped in pirate vibe since we met. She'd been experimenting with the use of an eye patch. They were used by pirates not only to cover up nasty, empty eye sockets, but to train their pupils; while covered in darkness, the pupils expands, ready to be used should the pirate rush down to the dark cabin. Steph had gone on an adventure with her sister, down to Mexico and ended up in Montreal, where she'd started a new life. The busking life was treating her out east, but she's come back west to race, now it seemed the west wanted her back.

For the most part of our journey we kept on the same clothes, Steph wore skate shoes with cutoffs, a t-shirt and a jean vest. Around her brown head she wore a black velvet band. I wore my “magic pants”, which looked like cacki slacks, but were actually of stretch spandex material, skate shoes that looked like mockasins and a striped button up shirt. Our styles of loving the simple things in life worked well, she was self assured, an expert with tools and drinking. Our relationship was a strong camaraderie, an instant bond of love and respect, with the added benefit of physical forms and spirits that polarized each other.

Evening was setting in and it was time to go treasure hunting. Waste is an illusion that benefits the clear-sighted. With my dollar store flashlight we took to the village and filled up two grocery bags with produce, bread, cold cuts, chips and mustard. We also helped ourselves to a few gallons of lightly used fryer oil. There were black cats everywhere in those back alleys, a colony apparently, "don't feed the cats", we disregarded. Back at the bar karaoke was in full swing. Danny was at the helm and instead of choosing a song from a list like the other patrons, he faced the crowd and sang a sea shanty with easily repeatable lyrics "Will the lord above, send down a dove, with a beak as sharp as a razor. To cut the throats, of them there blokes, who'd sell bad beer to sailors". The entire audience was singing along, Danny can be quite commanding. I took that opportunity to further hype the crowd and started break dancing. Later, sitting on a bench outside, we enjoyed some good grass and acoustics tunes with the poet from the night before and Danny's pal Frank. An RCMP officer walked up and frank hid the joint. The officer asked us to be a bit more quite, then agreed when frank asked him for a ride home. Island life.

In the morning we went oyster harvesting, a delightful experience done in the months that don't have R in them, so not the summer months. We found a beach and started collecting fat oysters; the abundance of life was all around us. We spoke about self-sufficiency and economy of emotion, lifestyle and intention. It seems like the more you know, the less you need. Without shoes we waded in the chilly water, finding crabs and clams and a starfish named Patrick that Steph kept to send back to her friend Fish in Montréal. After collecting about four big buckets worth, we paddled back to the boat and took off in search of the Tiny Dancer.