Mateo's Blog

A Cab Driver’s Dream

September 28, 2018

And frequently recurring
25 year old Matias drives in his cab
Looking for a fare
Dispatcher’s voice comes over the radio
An order for a pickup
Its in Morse code
Matias copies it, typing
On the guitar’s fretboard
In a Jeff Beck style
Blues improvisation
Good God!
What have we here?
Or locura?

Utterly Fascinated, Nearly Dumbstruck…

September 28, 2018

…the 4 year old remains glued to the black and white TV screen. Les Paul accompanies his wife, singer Mary Ford. He plays a black Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar. The guitar is gorgeous, the playing out-of-this-world.

It is the coolest thing young Matias has ever experienced, and, when it’s over: “Mamma, Mamma! I wanna play guitar! Just like him!” He will not be put off. He continues badgering his poor mother until she gives in, saying, “Let’s see about this tomorrow.”

Next morning, she’s on the phone trying to arrange lessons. She is told they won’t teach a 4 year old; he must wait until he’s 8. This is the 50s, after all. Matias is, uncharacteristically, quiet about it. He holds his tongue, bides his time.

A few years pass. School, play, books, friends, siblings, picnics. Then Boy Scouts, football, baseball.

Finally, his 8th birthday! “Don’t you like your presents, Honey? And, chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream is your favorite!” “Mamma, can I start guitar lessons now? That’s all I want! Please!”

Within days, Matias begins his new life, a guitar-centric life. 15 years later, he has a vintage black Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar of his own. Thousands of gigs later, he still has it. Still plays it on occasion. Although a Flamenco guitarist now—he owns several nylon string Spanish guitars, as well as an oud—the love affair with his Les Paul has never ended.

What's Bred in the Bone….

July 11, 2018

…comes out in the flesh. Robertson Davies: one of my FAVORITE authors. As I get on in life, I find his world-view, his philosophy (never stated only implied), his humanity, appeal to me immensely. This work, in which a “daemon” named “Maimas” figures prominently, is captivating. It’s helping me with things I ponder, particularly related to “Our Bones Are Thus.”

“Don’t be distracted by trivialities, said the Daimon Maimas. What do the theologians say? Circumcise yourself as to the heart and not as to the foreskin. And never neglect what is bred in the bone. Do you think it was bred of Francis to be a victim all his life? How would that reflect on me? As a rather superior mortal once said to a sentimental friend, Clear your mind of cant! Shall we continue?”

And, again: “Astrology is part of the science of the past, and of course the science of the present has no place for it, because it is rooted in a discredited notion of the universe, and puts forward a lot of Neo-Platonic ideas that don’t make much sense—until you live with them for awhile. Astrology is based on a notion nobody wants to accept in our wonderfully reasonable Western World, which is that the position of the stars at the moment of your birth governs your life. ‘As above, so below’ is the principle in a nutshell. Utterly dotty, obviously.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the midst of a most agreeably hot summer!

3 May 2018 Madrid

May 3, 2018

Some comments on shows I’ve been seeing:

Friday, 20 [email protected] Casa Patas Fundacion—Guadiana. Voice not unpleasant like years before. He has great feel, sentiment, pitch, soniquete. An 8.5 Accompanied by Carlos de Jacoba, who plays with really good swing. A little short of material, a little boring, his bulerias a 9+. 2 boys as palmeros who danced pataitas por bulerias super-well. A satisfying evening!

Thursday, 3 May at the Fundacion, again. Capullo de Jerez: groove, soniquete, sentido, swing, verdad—inspirado! With Manuel Jero, son of Ninyo Jero, he’s also called Jerito. He’s got all the mugging looks, smiles, arcane glances of his father. Similarly, his limited technique: mostly thumb, virtually no picado, arpegio, horquilla, tremelo. But, along with 2 wonderful palmeros, produced a grooving pocket of flamenquismo that was damn engaging!

Contrasting the “jazz” of Jorge Pardo with Josemi Carmona, Javier Colina, and Bandolero (May 1st at Club Bogui in Chueca): jazz without swing (don’ mean a thing…), too damn many useless notes and scales, fast and loud and furious; everyone competing to outdo each other. Did I say I generally detest bass and drum solos? In fairness, I felt Josemi played very very well and I enjoyed his toque immensely. But, the rest? Has Pardo forgotten how gorgeous a long and lyrical spellbinding line can be?

26 April, 2018: Madrid

April 26, 2018

Nearly 80 degrees, sunny and divine.

I’m at Peyma, my “office,” on calle Embajadores. Great place. Totally unpretentious with good food, drinks, cafe and “menu del dia.” I’m staying with a friend, across the street and up the hill a bit. Playing my Montalvo guitar, from Paracho, Mexico, that’s been at my piso (38 Olivar in Lavapies) since I can remember. With new Savarez strings it sounds great! Resonant, rich. Practicing a lot, which I always do when I’m in Madrid (so many great players inspire me, yes indeed!).

Good progress with that, in part due to listening to so much Glenn Gould. My NEW obsession: the “Glenn Gouldization” of my playing. I’m trying to analyze what, exactly, that means….

Madrid!! Mad-Town Here I Come

April 17, 2018

I’m continuing to copy these blog posts, originally written in my old-fashioned notebook, onto the web-site.

….And a huge snowfall in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the weekend (wait! Its mid-April!). I’m at Charles DeGaul Airport (Paris) about to complete the last leg to Madrid, once again. And, glad of it! Only 5 weeks. It is 9am in Paris and I’m holding up well, so far. First day is always difficult…had a nice cafe au lait.

Reading Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (Georges Gurdjieff) again. The 4th time, but after a few decades: it seems slow and ponderous. Even pretentious. I’m half-way through it and bogged down.

And now, Tony Robbins not faring too well vis a vis the #metoo Movement, which, by virtue of an 11 minute video that went viral—-exposed his masculine aggression, bullying, and failure to listen/understand/empathize when most needed. Did the money he’s made, and he’s made a lot of it, work as a curse? The video of his resort, on Fiji, grossed me out.

Ah, the joys and disillusion of growing old! obat

Antigua, Guatemala—what is OBAT, anyway?

March 6, 2018

Beautiful (always!), dry, warm, cool nights.

Playing duo guitars with my friend from Barcelona, Miguel Angel Gomez, tonight at Angie Angie. Doing a bunch of Pop Flamenkito stuff featuring his fine lead guitar but also keepin’ it real (what I call real, anyway jajaja).

Our Bones Are Thus. Nuestros Huesos Son Asi. Simply OBAT for short.

My personal AUM. or Amen. Which really are “remates.” So: remates to life, its manifestations, movements, stagnation, developments, struggles, triumphs, set backs, all of it. Freed from the concept of time. Or not. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day, by week, by month, year, phase, era, by life. But, also going the other direction: by thought, ideas, concept, impulse. Emotion, too. The physical, the emotional, the mental bodies all have remates. Remates are ESSENTIAL to flamenco.

Antigua! I’m Coming Home!

February 21, 2018

Enroute to Guatemala. At last. Been a tough winter. My emotions are raw.

Gotta chill out! Calm myself, diffuse the anger. Maybe deal with little angers early before they deepen and embitter. I can be so damn prickly. Too quick, too impatient. Slovenliness and heavy-handedness irritate me. Live and let live! Speak with good purpose only. I’ve been experiencing roller-coaster emotions. Intense highs and happiness. Also, dark moods of irritability, impatience, and anger. Easy for me to get wrapped too tightly. Chill the F*** Out, Dude!

1. Keep that “quality of life” distinction alive and actively work to implement it.

2. Be simpler and more direct in asking for what I want and require. Say: NO!

3. Speak less. Listen to my silence. Its time to focus on SILENCE. Past time.

I’m coming full circle these days, in a lot of ways. returning to 48 years ago. Such as: 1. Rereading the works of Gurdjieff. 2. Remembering, reflecting upon, rekindling the whole “Mardan” issue. He was Guru Nanak’s close friend and confidant who played the rubab. 3. Huge de-emphasis on alcohol (I Love Wine!!). 4. I’ve got my Les Paul Custom 1967 back! 5. Gradually withdrawing from material life, pursuit of gigs, money-money-money preoccupations. 6. Gradually moving toward sanyasi status, perhaps with guitar in hand. Nothing else feels right at this point. Ties in with #2. 7. My meditations to be musical ones, suffused with SILENCE.

And a final note: last week’s shooting at Parkland High in Florida that left 17 dead and hundreds traumatized really hit me hard. I’m not exactly sure why, apart from the “normal” horror of yet another school shooting. Now, as I watch the surviving teens take the lead on the issue of out-of-control gun violence—-I feel a glimmer of hope. Actually, it WAS a glimmer; it is slowly igniting into a certainty, even a conviction. These brave PTSD teens are leading their parents, and all of us nattering adults towards….towards what? meaningful change? Progress? A bi-partisan dialogue in a time where liberals/progressives and conservatives/right-wingers have nothing but contempt, mistrust, even hatred for one another?

We have failed them. I believe in them. Yes, I do. And so: Guatemala. 5 weeks. La Busqueda. Reflections. Meditations. Walking.

Improvisation—Minnesota Winters—la Busqueda—Our Bones are Thus?

February 2, 2018

A word of explanation. I’ve been writing my blog posts in a old fashioned notebook for a few months and neglecting to post them here. So, here’s to catching up!

OK. OK. Now I have 19 strategies for improvisation: they’re good, useful, easy to implement, “genial.” Most likely, no one is interested. So, for now at least, I’ll keep them, try them out, fine tune them. See what happens.

Two days until SUPER BOWL LII, here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. No Big Deal!!!! A damn football game. And, frigidly cold, snowy, a real old-style winter. It has been very nice and cozy here at home, in the house. I don’t leave too often. My son, Aaron, lives here, too. He’s a ballet dancer. My daughter, Grace, stops by a lot. I am getting good practice. Working toward my 2018 mantra (and honoring Paco de Lucia in the process): la Busqueda. Buscando mi sonido. Buscando rapidez. Buscando la verdad.

Is this my retreat into asceticism, even semi-sanyasism? We talked about it so long ago, in India—maybe 48 years ago. My connection with Guru Nanak. With Sai Baba? Retreat from commercial success into the Flamenco Jondo?

To be investigated. Our Bones Are Thus.


January 22, 2018

I’ve always been an avid reader. Mostly fiction. Arguably, more for style than content. No vampires, ETs, zombies; not so big on sci-fi. Read enough self-help for two life-times.

Recently, I finished the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl who Played with Fire,” “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” I’m told they were trendy-popular maybe 10 years ago. Not surprisingly, I’ve just read them now. Great stuff! Very compelling characters, plots, full of local color. And the Swedish film versions are great, too. Noomi Rapace, as Lisbeth Salender, is a most compelling actress.

In my late teens, I lived in Stockholm for many months. Played folk-n-blues on the streets and in the subways. Precious memories brought back to life with these books and movies.

Now, its back to Henry Miller, a favorite of mine in late adolescence (my 1st adolescence, not now….). “A Devil in Paradise” is one I’d never read. Its vintage Henry Miller: over-blown, bloated, drunken ramblings and ravings that no longer satisfy—they just wear me out. So, at least in that respect, I’ve matured a little. I’ve a memory of crossing Turkey on the Orient Express, clutching “Nexus” (book 3 of “The Rosy Crucifixion’), which today I’d find insufferably boring, particularly when compared to the real-life adventures happening at the time. Damn! Long sentence, isn’t it? He’s already rubbing off on me!

We’ll pursue this improvisation thing some other time. Have come up with 18 separate strategies so far….