Friday, July 18, 2014

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A' Comin'

I'll always back Freddie Mercury as the greatest vocalist and frontman of all time. Likewise, Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitarist to ever live, in my humble opinion. The dude's guitar playing is beyond inspirational. If I could express myself like anyone via any medium, it'd probably be Jimi.

This is a 90 minute doc on Netflix. Recently added. It's well-done. Good production value. Nothing fancy or terribly innovative. But just a good meat and potatoes doc with excellent archival footage and contemporary interviews with many people who were close to Jimi back in the day. Even Sir Paul McCartney makes an interview appearance for the doc.

It charts Jimi's humble beginnings to his rocket-like ascendency to fame and 30,000 sold-out venues. The dude was cool as a cucumber, man. He wasn't a dick. He was humble. He was honest. Seemed like a genuinely rad dude to be around. And obviously a phenomenal artist.

The doc is woefully incomplete, but how can you boil anyone's lifetime into 90 minutes? It does what it can. It's a good overview. A nice primer. I'd love to see a series on Hendrix doing deep dives on certain albums and periods of his life and career. Wish Ken Burns had done something like that.

You should stream this. Hendrix was the ultimate.


Buddhism: Plain & Simple

I went to Bookstock with Marie a few months ago. It was a huge used book sale event at a mall in Westland or something. Marie found a decent selection of stuff to buy. I didn't come away with much other than a book on Buddhism, one on Gucci, and one on some true-life motorcycle gang/murder thing. I just picked up non-fiction, as that's how I roll most of the time. Anyway, this was the book on Buddhism I copped for a couple bucks.

The title is a bit misleading. It's not terribly simple. Hagen starts off well and it's pretty down to earth. But as the book progresses he talks about a lot of theories that are genuinely hard to describe, and he doesn't really help matters. It's very metaphysical. He strips away all notions of religion and ceremony and focuses on the essence of the teachings, which is cool. But still, it's not quite a breakthrough in simplicity if you ask me. But that's no easy task.

It's not an overview on Buddha and all the bells and whistles that go along with the philosophy. This isn't "the history of Buddhism." It's purely on the essence of its teachings. It's good, but it's not light reading. I can't say it's hard. But it is heavy. It's clearly hard for me to describe!

I'm just rambling. It's a worthwhile read. I can tell you that. I found myself stopping and contemplating quite a bit. It sticks with you.

Actually, as soon as I started reading it I knew I wanted Marie to pick it up, too. Even just to read the first couple chapters.

I've read about a half dozen books on Buddhism and this won't be the last. There's just so many ways of looking at things, it's fascinating. Dig it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

I read Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson a few months ago. It was a super good read. I saw this doc on Netflix and thought I'd dig a little deeper to understand the crazy dude behind the crazy stories chronicled in that book.

Oh, I'd also seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and I didn't dig that flick at all.

Anyway, this was a well done documentary. Good production values. Not too flashy. Johnny Depp narrated a bunch of it, but it was pieced together via standard fare historical footage as well as purposely shot interviews. Didn't break the mold.

It was a good doc but at the end of the day I guess I just don't find Hunter S. Thompson all that compelling a subject. If you like drugs, guns, booze and politics then have at it...

Read the book instead.