What Was the New Mary Jane (in 1997-98)?

psychedelic bar



Feb. 21, 1998


Let it drain your worries away,
Lay back and groove on a rainy day. Hey!

-- Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Rainy Day, Dream Away" (Jimi Hendrix)


There's the progress we have found (when the rain)
A way to talk around the problem (when the children reign)
Building towered foresight (keep your conscience in the dark)
isn't anything at all (melt the statues in the park)
Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky and tell the sky
Don't fall on me

-- R.E.M., "Fall on Me" (Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)


When the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead.

-- Beatles, "Rain" (Lennon/McCartney)


There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows...
On such a full sea we are now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.

-- William Shakespeare


If you go down in the flood it's gonna be your fault.
Oh pretty mama, ain't you gonna miss your best friend now?

-- Bob Dylan, "Down in the Flood"


I had my own very special El Nino experience, in the flood waters of the northern California coast. Read about it here.

It has been a while since I last wrote a thought. Perhaps I didn't have one, at least one worth writing about. I worked for Newfire for a while, until that company nearly ran out of money trying to sell authoring tools to game developers. I am off to a new job at Live Picture, which has excellent technology for viewing high-resolution pictures and panoramas on the net, as well as 3D objects that can be looked at from all angles. I suspect my opportunity there is much greater and I'm pursuing it with vigor.

The sky still cries out here. Water soaks up everything. The world is saturated, the runoff is wild. If you think you can tame it, or make a profit off it, you haven't got A Clue. If you think you can face it without fear, read this.




Jan. 1, 1997

A very merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!
Let's hope it's good one,
without any fear.

-- John Lennon & Yoko Ono, "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" (Lennon & Ono)

What a year for going back! Steve Jobs went back to Apple Computer. The Beatles dominated the charts with unreleased studio nuggets. Madonna got back to motherhood and the era of Evita. Politics got back to where it started, in the back-stabbing smoke-filled rooms where the only candidates are the ones you don't want. And people are finally watching computers on their TVs, now with a gizmo called WebTV that makes it easier to read text on the screen.

Journalism got back to its roots, the community. Large newspapers hardly make a difference anymore. A half-million writers are trying to use web columns to make a living, including yours truly. People believe a friendly missile shot down that jet over Long Island, not because it actually happened that way, but because the information was widely disseminated through the net.

This is progress: you can now have a sense of humor and not believe anything you read.

The best thing I read this month appears in the Dec. 16 issue of The Nation. Michael Moore, in "Don't Be Left Out," tells everyone who is interested in left-wing politics to put the magazine down right away and go line dancing, or to a stock car race, or to a Star Trek movie, or to any place or event where the majority of ordinary Americans hang out.

You see, Moore is telling us what some of us already know: that the corporate press has been lying all this time about the mood of the public turning conservative, or Republican, or whatever. In reality, most of the people are fed up with Corporate America. The chief expression of this rage is the militia movement, which goes to show that the right-wingers are more capable than the left-wingers in reaching out to the ordinary people and supplying them with ideas.

So get with it. Make a new year's resolution to do ordinary things with ordinary people, and little by little, turn them around to some new ideas. Such as, not being racist -- we are all exploited under the corporate sun. Such as, not parroting the official corporate line -- remember that the highest-paid fiction writers work for P.R. agencies. Such as, jobs and the environment are not on opposing sides, as promulgated by the corporate interests. Future human beings deserve to inherit a clean Earth.

Dec. 25, 1996

She catch Patagonian pancakes
With that one and gin party makes
She having all the ways good contacts
She making with Apple and contract.
What a shame Mary Jane had a pain at the party!

-- Beatles, "What's the New Mary Jane" (Lennon/McCartney)

Please to meet you
Won't you guess my name
Oh what's buggin' you is the
Nature of my game.

-- Rolling Stones, "Sympathy for the Devil" (Jagger/Richards)

New as of November, 1996:
The Beatles Red Album fantasy, and the Haight-Ashbury rockumentary.

The Red Album is inspired, of course, by the release of the official three volume series of Beatles outtakes, backing tracks, mix-downs, and meltdowns, Anthology. This is one fantasy you can do at home, so check it out.

The third volume of Anthology, unlike the previous volumes, has some surprises for collectors of bootlegs -- tracks that never appeared before on any bootleg, or on ones so rare that they haven't been widely copied or released by the popular bootleg labels.

"Helter Skelter" stands out. It is not the longest of the three legendary extended takes of this song, but it is certainly an intriguing one I've never heard before. A medley, "Step Inside Love-Los Paranoias" was also new to me; perhaps it is on some boot I haven't come across (or titled something else), but I'd never heard it before.

That's not to say the other tracks are not fantastic; it's just that most have been bootlegged with inferior sound quality. What we have here, in all three volumes, are tracks that are the best possible quality, no matter what bootlegs you may have.

In addition, George Martin took it upon himself (and why not?) to create "new" tracks that are amalgams of different outtakes (such as "I'm So Tired"), or use the final backing track at the end, to enhance the quality of the listening experience (as in "Good Night"). These are worth hearing, as they are quite revelatory even for the Beatles freak as well as for the casual Beatles fan.

My favorite tracks are too numerous to mention, but listen to "Rocky Raccoon" for a laugh (recorded in one single day, and each take has different lyrics), "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" to hear George sing it and play it all by himself, "Old Brown Shoe" to hear a version that I consider better than the released one, and, of course, "What's the New Mary Jane" (the debut of Yoko Ono in a Beatles song), which holds the key to the meaning of this column.

Rock and Roll Circus Another release this month that sparked my interest is the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, on CD and on video. I have an obviously bootlegged VHS tape of this performance I found in a store in the Harajuku section of Tokyo, which I've shown at special parties, too much enthusiasm, but the sound quality is extremely bad. The CD and official, released version of the video are a must buy for every Stones fan.

The project was filmed in two days in December, 1968 but was never aired or seen by the public in any form (except that bootleg video) until this release. It features the Stones and other Swinging London rock groups, mixed with a one American group:

The film, featuring the Stones (with Brian Jones, just before he died) and various other rock superstars sharing the stage with acrobats, wild animals, clowns and dwarves, debuted at the New York Film Festival on October 12 and 13. The home video and soundtrack album hit the stores October 15.

The Stones do "Jumpin' Jack Flash", fabulous versions of "Parachute Woman" and "No Expectations", and a downright satanic and glorious "Sympathy for the Devil" (I don't think I've heard better live Stones from this period). The Stones apparently did not like their performance and pulled the 1968 TV special due to dissatisfaction with it. Then Brian died, things changed, and the film was left to gather dust in the vaults.

The other performances are incredible, starting with an unknown band called Jethro Tull with an unforgettable performance of "Song for Jeffery". The Who are incredibly tight, performing their most quirky opera, "A Quick One" (on the eve of developing the "Tommy" opera that would make the group famous). Taj Mahal shows everyone where it's at in American music with "Ain't That A Lot of Love". John Lennon performs his famous "Dirty Mac" version of "Yer Blues" with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell (from the Jimi Hendrix Experience). A fine jam session with rock music artists at the height of their popularity in the heart of Swinging London.

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