On an autumn day in 1963, one of Dylan’s friends was visiting him at his apartment, read the lyrics and asked Dylan: “What is this shit, man?”, to which Dylan responded, “Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear”. This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads … “The Times They Are a-Changin.”

Over the past few months, in accordance with my anticipation, I have been progressively realizing that ‘We the People’ are not interested in embracing the truth and accepting reality. Denial is good in small doses as it can protect us from unbearable pain and shock. As such, our body has defence mechanisms which protects us.

Well my friends, I have come to the crossroads. I do appreciate the fact that some people in my life and strangers have shown signs of appreciation and interest. However, I must face the fact that bearers of truth and the well-intended are rarely compensated in any way shape or form. Not only in a social or political sense, but also in our personal and professional lives. Seems as if no matter how close one gets to another, the more we use what we disguised behind clever terms such as being politically correct, corporate, classy and so on. These terms enable us to look at ourselves in the mirror and find comfort in thinking that we are a good people.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to change people or the way society is structured. Although on more than one occasion in my life, I have spoken the truth to various people, in different stages of their lives and mine, and trust me, it has always backfired. I honestly think that people find comfort in illusion and lies. There are predetermined answers, idioms, sayings and proverbs for everything we go through in life. But we fail to acknowledged that the opposite statements are always available, when needed. Once again, to deter us from reality and also for others to find comfort in us. For instance: “Opposites attract” one minute and “Birds of a feather flock together” the other. Or even “Slow and steady wins the race” which is opposite to “Time waits for no one”.

The sayings that always seem to turn my stomach, which I admit to have also used in the past would be: “It is going to be okay.”; “What goes around comes around.” and of course “Everything happens for a reason.”

We blame politicians all the time but if it weren’t for them sheltering us from the truth, we wouldn’t be able to go on another day.

As Jack Nicholson said it best to Tom Cruise in a Few Good Man: “You can’t handle the truth.”

And my friends, We the People cannot.

I have come to feel as Dylan often did throughout his career. Shortly after JFK’s assassination, Dylan supposedly said: “What it means is that they are trying to tell you ‘Don’t even hope to change things’.” He later wrote: “it is useless to recall the day once more.” In another, he repeatedly wrote: “there is no right or left there is only up and down.”

Maybe Dylan was discouraged and depressed, or maybe he was just spending too much time with Johnny Cash. That’s what you get for spending too much time with the man in black, as he will show you the truth. If you won’t see it, he was the type of man to make you feel it.

Not sure which road I will choose but I am facing the reality that writing about how fat Jessica Simpson or Aishwarya Rai has become after giving birth; commenting on how fake Kim Kardashian relationships always have been; or even who has gotten good and bad plastic surgery in Hollywood, is what We the People want and somewhat need. We complain all the time that there is no quality and/or educational entertainment but the few that are still surviving in the media have the poorest ratings.

In the meantime, there is only up and down.

“Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.”

The times will eventually change but not here and definitely not now. When it will be too late to change, just remember People, you are always given what you wish for, until you don’t wish it anymore.

Oh yeah, Happy Birthday Bob Dylan!

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, on May 24, 1941.

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.

When one thinks of sect-like movements, we rarely imagine its inception in a drizzling temperate marine climate. Reality is, Seattle, Washington, is the birthplace of many multinational corporations which are known to have a cult like following. Apple might prematurely come to mind but might just want to leave that to California. Nevertheless, it is the birth place of Paul Allen and Bill Gates, founders of Microsoft. In addition, companies such as Nordstrom, Amazon, Costco and of course Starbucks were created in Seattle. Which all are allied with and supported by loyal followings.

Furthermore, it is the birthplace of legends that are as popular in death as they were when alive: Jimi Hendrix for Rock and Kurt Cobain for Alternative Rock / Grunge.

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of the band Nirvana, is one of the most respected modern artist of recent generations. Since their debut, Nirvana sold over 25 million albums in the US alone, and over 50 million worldwide. He is esteemed by people from all musical background. He is even hailed as “the spokesman of a generation” or Nirvana as “flagship band of Generation X”. For the ones out there that have no idea who he is or for the ones that are under the impression that I am inflating his influence and success, in 2006, Cobain took the place of Elvis Presley as the top-earning deceased celebrity, which he then reclaimed the spot in 2007.

The group found success with Smells Like Teen Spirit from its second album Nevermind. The band name was taken from the Buddhist concept pertaining to “freedom from pain, suffering and the external world”. Cults (and religion) are often based on that pain and guilt. These feelings do parallel to Cobain’s state of mind and soul as he often felt frustrated, depressed and misunderstood. He was also diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder as a child and bipolar disorder as an adult. It lead to alcoholism and heroin addiction.

Despite all his acclaimed fame and genius compositions, On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home, victim of suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. He was found 3 days after his death, which occurred 18 years ago, on April 5, 1994. He finally had freed himself from all this pain, as true cult leaders often do.

On the other hand, there was a history of mental illness and suicide in his family, two of his uncles did commit suicide in the same matter.

Before he reached for his Nirvana, Cobain wrote a suicide note, addressed to his childhood imaginary friend Boddah:

“To Boddah,

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated infantile complainer. This note should be pretty easy to understand.

All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things.

For example when we’re back stage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begins., it doesn’t affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can’t fool you, any one of you. It simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I’m having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I’ve tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God, believe me I do, but it’s not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they’re gone. I’m too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.

On our last 3 tours, I’ve had a much better appreciation for all the people I’ve known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can’t get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There’s good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don’t you just enjoy it? I don’t know!

I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what i used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can’t stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I’ve become.

I have it good, very good, and I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess.

Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

Peace, love, empathy.

Kurt Cobain

Frances and Courtney, I’ll be at your alter. Please keep going Courtney, for Frances. For her life, which will be so much happier without me. I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!”

Thus Always … To Genius.

– Kurt Donald Cobain (R.I.P. April 5, 1994)

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.

A few weeks ago, I became ecstatic just by hearing my colleague utter one word: “Aznavour”. Yes, as in Charles Aznavour, one of my favorite singers of all times was performing in my city. I could not believe that after numerous final performances, he decided to come back, again, and still had the energy to perform once more in his aging tenor voice.

All his signature songs simultaneously clashed in my head: from “Hier encore”, “La Bohème”, “Emmenez-moi”, “La Mamma” to “Plus Bleus que tes yeux”. The wonderful arrangement of symphonies fused from passion, talent, emotions and melody, created the perfect sound wave that traveled from my soul to my toes.

I grew up listening to his songs and adore him as much as lots of French-speaking people do. For my readers who have refused to listen to anything that is not in English, please note that Aznavour is more than popular, he is an international icon. This Armenian-French signer sold more than 100 million records and was even recognized as the century’s outstanding performer, with 20% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.

The fact that he is not a French national, but an Armenian, is surprisingly not a well-known fact. He was in fact born Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian in Paris, France. Immediate name change wasn’t a dilemma as we know that integration as a foreigner is very difficult in France. The “La France aux Français (France to the French)” mentality is still very much applicable as it was a few decades ago.

However, when one becomes successful, respected and worthy of the coveted “Made in France” stamp of approval; acceptance and admiration even, comes with one’s accomplishments. A few weeks ago, on January 23, 2012, the French Senate voted to criminalize any public denial of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of 1.5 millions of Armenians, which started in 1915. Turkey officially denies the fact the word genocide is associated with the fact that hundreds of thousand Armenian Christians and Turkish Muslims died during World War I. It was not genocide as they affirm, it was war. A group of French senators are appealing the bill to the Council.

But yet again, is there any critically acclaimed Turkish living legend that may admire the Avenue des Champs-Élysées from their appartement while eating their tartines of bread with jam?

Bref, enough politics, after coming down from a relatively long euphoric frame of mind, I then transitioned into a melancholic cognitive state. Although a part of me is willing to tolerate the enormous price tag of one decent ticket, while being grateful to have the opportunity to tell my grandchildren that I once saw him perform in person. Another part of me, too busy doing the math to care, realizes that he will be 88 years old this year. Even if this could be his true “Der des Ders“, can his voice remotely even sound anything like it does on his recordings?

When I then think about it, I tell myself that the days of any artist (“entertainer” would be more appropriate nowadays) sounding as they do on record are long gone. In this age of technology, there are countless performance-enhancing instruments that can alter pitch in vocal. That being said, that transformation might not be applicable to aging voices but only to the ungifted ones. I therefore asked myself; what is the life-span of a voice and can it be restored?

You must remember that not only your vocal cords age as everything else, but also, anything that you put into your body is going to go right past your vocal cords. That means cigarette smoke, soft drinks, hot drinks, spicy food, frozen drinks, medicine, air pollutants and yes, even , if not especially, smoke inhaled from a crack cocaine pipe.

A revolutionary biogel is currently in development by Harvard professors and MIT scientists which could allow signers to regain their youthful tones. It could also aid people who have lost their voices speak again.

Could that gel have helped saved Whitney Houston? Or at least have given her a few memorable final performances, even if the curtains were destined to close as the spotlights fade. She is a diva after all. We all know how they often tend to leave our world: “Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.” Reviews from her many failed come back attempts were disappointing and miserable. For entertainers that define themselves as singers, it could understandingly be depressing and unbearable to even fathom the fact that what makes you YOU is no longer. That alone, excluding personal demons, could be excruciating to come to accept.

In no particular order, here are just a few musicians/ artists / singers that left us before their time: Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Ronnie Van Zant (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Randy Rhodes (Ozzy Osbourne), Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), Cliff Burton (Metallica), Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Hillel Slovak (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Nico, Amy Winehouse, Elvis, Otis Redding, Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), Keith Moon (The Who), Jonathan Melvoin (The Smashing Pumpkins), Billie Holiday, Freddie Mercury (Queen), David Ruffin (The Temptations) and Michael Jackson.

I might just go ahead a buy myself a couple of these Aznavour tickets after all….

It use to be all about the music…

“When I decided to be a singer, my mother warned me I’d be alone a lot. Basically we all are. Loneliness comes with life. God gave me a voice to sing with, and when you have that, what other gimmick is there?”

– Whitney Elizabeth Houston (08/09/63 – 02/11/12)

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.

While we are still transitioning from recession to depression, periodically debating whether to sell our stocks before they further plunge into the NASDAQ abyss, we can only speculate as how we got there.

As I was watching an Apple commercial, I couldn’t help to wonder why I didn’t buy Apple stocks when Gates was still CEO of Microsoft circa 1995 and Jobs was not yet a household name. It was about 40 bucks a share! Now, if you fancy a single slice of juicy Macintosh, you will be expected to disburse about $450.

I then snapped out of it thinking to myself “Why am I still thinking about stocks?!” Attempting to forcibly distract myself, I couldn’t help to appreciate the carefully “Apple picked” melody in the background: “Ashes to Ashes” by David Bowie.

… again, here is another set of dots to connect …

In fact, David Bowie forfeited ten years worth of royalties (25 albums / 287 songs) to the Prudential Insurance Company for 55 million dollars. Helped by banker David Pullman, he then made history, not as “Ziggy Stardust” or “Major Tom”, as he previously achieved, but as David Robert Jones: the first artist, the first person actually, to secure intellectual property rights.

Thus, the origin of Bowie bonds, which are also known as Pullman bonds.

When we look at the countless Bowie songs that were taken and / or performed by other artists, Prudential had no reason to be hesitant. Here is a sample, in no particular order:

Under Pressure (“Ice Ice Baby” – Vanilla Ice; “Sniff” – The Kleptones)

1984 ( “1984” – Tina Turner)

Man who sold the World (“Man who sold the world” – Nirvana; Mourn – Apoptygma Berzerkl; )

Let’s Dance ( “Been Around the World” – P. Diddy feat Biggie Smalls; “Hot Stuff” – Craig David)

Starman (” Star Guitar” – The Chemical Brothers)

Fame (“Takeover” – Jay-Z ; “Night Of The Living Baseheads” – Public Enemy; “Shamrocks And Shenanigans” – House of Pain; “It Wasn’t Me, It Was The Fame” – EPMD; “Strange Fame” – Sage Francis); “Hot (I Need to Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)” – James Brown; “Alive on Arrival” – Ice Cube; “Faith/Fame Remix” – Limp Bizkit ft. Everlast; “Bowified Rebelution” – The Kleptones; “Fancy Pants” – Lady Gaga)

Ashes to Ashes (“Body II Body” – Samantha Mumba)

Crystal Japan (“ Warm Place”- Nine Inch Nails)

Heroes (“Elephant Love Medley” – Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman and Jamie Allen; “Just for One Day (Heroes)” – David Guetta; “Heroes” – Brazz)

Cheers to having guts to go out into the world and stake your own claim! It is exactly in times like these that you ought to divert from the flock and play by your own rules.

Thank you Sir.

Do you remember a guy that’s been
In such an early song
I’ve heard a rumor from Ground Control
Oh no, don’t say it’s true

They got a message
from the Action Man
“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too
I’ve loved
all I’ve needed to love
Sordid details following”

The shrieking of nothing is killing
Just pictures of Jap girls
in synthesis and I
Ain’t got no money and I ain’t got no hair
But I’m hoping to kick but the planet it’s glowing

(chorus)

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s 4
a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low

Time and again I tell myself
I’ll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me
Oh no, not again
I’m stuck with a valuable friend
“I’m happy, hope you’re happy too”
One flash of light
but no smoking pistol

I never done good things
I never done bad things
I never did anything out of the blue,
Want an axe to break the ice
Wanna come down right now

(chorus)

My mother said
to get things done
You’d better not mess
with Major Tom

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce my favorite classical composer of all times: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

I respect the fact that he stayed true to himself and did not bend under the pressure to conform to a specific type of musical pattern. He somewhat hid his homosexuality but remained comfortable enough with it to openly associate himself with various circles of homosexuals. Overall, he was not afraid of exposing his esotericism. He played by his own rules and his brilliance could not be ignored.

If you are familiar with his work, you know that it is chaotic and disorderly but somehow everything perfectly falls into place just as if he were playing a sequence of musical notes in order. If you are more of a scientist, let’s just say that Tchaikovsky is to music what entropy is to the second law of thermodynamics. Still confused? Then let’s just say that you would never ever be able set a metronome to any of his musical pieces as they were not based on any patterns such as Mozart’s pieces were.

All this madness was a prelude to suicide … Thus Always to Genius You are just a man: The Lunatic Manifesto

Ah ah! Here’s one for you…remember my last post, I stated that my blog is all about connecting the dots! Remember?!

I will give you a little help…

Thus always to Genius” → “Thus Always to Tyrants” is said to have been shouted by Marcus Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. It was also shouted by John Booth during his assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Also, it is the state of Virginia’s motto, which is associated with the American Revolution (assassination of British rule).

It is basically seen as an epithet against abuse of power. It can be literally translated into “it always happens to tyrants”.

Well, I transformed it, La Presse* style, and used it in my blog as the following: there is a fine line between brilliance and insanity. Inevitably, that balance will cease to be biologically and / or psychologically manageable and then … no matter how great a genius might think he is … he is just a man.

As a matter of fact, during the great Roman Empire, the generals who achieved great victory had crowds of slaves following them around and whispering “Look behind you, remember you just a man” and “Remember (that you are) mortal“. Isn’t it great? Maybe that was a way to try to maintain that equilibrium as long as possible. However long it lasted, the end is always tragic, one way or another → “Thus always to Genius

See, worth the read no? You have learned quite a bit and you now have a response to your recurring question: “What does the title of your blog mean”?

There will be more “dotted notes” to connect in the near future…

* La Presse style:  Canadian Newspaper which transformed Descartes’ « je pense donc je suis (I think, therefore I am) » into « je pense donc je lis (I think, therefore I read) »

Copyright © 2012 Thus Always To Genius. All Rights Reserved.