Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I am doing something wrong?

I have been told that this blog is intimidating, not really loose and easy. I am very sorry if this is the case. The last thing I want to do is put anyone off. I would like nothing better than to remember Michael through your observations and mine. Say whatever is on your mind, please express yourselves, your impressions, likes and dislikes there will be no judgement on my part.

If you are interested in some aspect of his life ask, I'll tell you if I don't know and who might. If your taste is for funny moments just say so. You have my full attention. Allen B.


Laurie said...

Hey Allan,
I am having trouble with this blog thing too. I never knew that you even saw my post from last time until David told me how to find it.
Your heart is in the right place and it will come. People have been a bit distracted what with the economy going to hell in a hand basket and the election and all. I wonder what Michael would have thought of Grant Park on November 4.
Love to the bean.

Kevin said...

One thing I'm curious about are Michael's guitars. I'm interested in finding out more about the signature Les Paul as well as the whereabouts of the Les Paul he left at the club. I heard somewhere a few years ago that it was sold for a pretty penny. A guy at a jam let me play a couple of songs on his original 1960 LP Sunburst. Now THAT was a guitar! I play a Strat & 335, but would probably have to settle for an Epiphone LP. I'm interested in finding out more about the rest of Michael's guitars and who might be playing them. Thanks!

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Laurie,
Your the Good person!! Perhaps your right times are tough. I am filled with so many memories some good some painful and way too many ghosts tumbling in my mind. I was naive to think that my relationship with Michael could be expressed and found interesting to others. In truth everyone has experiences similar to ours and it was foolish to think because Michael became famous these reflections would be entertaining and insightful. The fact that Michael touched so many with his musical ability cannot be denied, but from my perspective he was a whole person, filled with compassion and light which illuminated his total being.
As for Grant Park, Michael would have been ecstatic that Obama through the Grace of God ascended to the highest office and that our childhood beliefs that any man who has the will and ability could be the leader of our country. America with all it's short comings is still the beacon of the free world.
Bean and Val join me in wishing you and David most happy holidays.
Love, Allen

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Kevin,
When we got the call Michel had died in Mill Valley I was living in New York and our parents in Los Angeles and La Jolla. The next morning we all flew to San Francisco and first were the funeral arrangements and then we drove to Michael's house. When we arrived it was clear that someone else had been there and all but one acoustic guitar was left. You can imagine that in the state we were in the guitars had little priority, there was the final tax return to put together and charities to donate his belongings to and a suit to buy for the funeral and all of the other preparations to be made. Many months later questions came up about his guitars. I heard many rumors but nothing specific about the LP or the Strat, just hunches. So I really don't know what happened to them. You know they were simply tools to Michael, a vehicle for expression, he didn't covet them or treat them with particular care.
I have very little knowledge about guitars in general and so I regret that I can't say more.

Kevin said...

Thanks Allen: I apologize if I might have asked an inappropriate question due to the circumstances you described. Best, Kevin

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Kevin,
Your question was appropriate and I am happy to describe the conditions at that time. I appreciate your sensitivity and welcome your questions.
Allen B.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Daniel Dann just posted an extensive history of all Michael's guitars. check out mikebloomfieldamericanmusic.com.
Allen B.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Correction last comment should read David Dann, Daniel was my error. Allen Bloomfield

Kevin said...

I appreciate the note about the guitar info from David Dann. I'll check that out.

And thanks again, for having this interactive forum between you and Michael's fans. You're doing a great job and I look forward to hearing more stories and participating more with everyone.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.


Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Kevin,
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts it means a lot to me. I wish you and your family the best of the Holidays. Stop by anytime.
Best wishes,
Allen B.

John said...


I never met Michael, I never saw him live and yet he seemed to mean a lot to me as a person, not just as a musician with incredibly wonderful tone. Tone is very important and for me personally, one of the wonderful things about both Michael and Eric Clapton was that they revealed a way around a taboo that I believe was taught me as a white American male, that we don't cry. The sounds of the guitars was a bit like people communicating by tomtoms as a language that would sort of fly below the radar of a possibly judgmental outside world . . .

Like most human beings, I am sure Michael demonstrated a spectrum of qualities and yet from a distance he seemed to demonstrate some very positive things to me. And I would like to say more about this sometime as, even if I were mistaken, where I was at, it was important for me to have some sense that a human being could be capable of what Michael seemed to me to be capable of. Even if there was more to what was going on than I realized, perhaps it was a bit like Dumbo's feather, it was a beginning towards flying . . . or maybe the things I thought I saw in Michael really were real . . .

One thing I would like to ask about that meant a lot to me, and I did read the book, and I have been out to Culver City as well, but Michael is often said to have suffered from insomnia. Sometimes long ago when I heard people mention that, there was this sort of hip insinuation of poor lifestyle as being the root of it, but I myself always wanted to believe there was something else . . . and this next may sound like I am moving away from the insomnia, but I am not . . .

One of your other questions had to deal with the blues and one thing I might say was I remember hearing B.B. King sing "If you've ever been mistreated, you know what I'm talking about" and sort of feeling this instant bond or fellowship . . .

The idea that Michael knew what insomnia was meant a lot to me when I was younger . . . there is some stuff in one of the chapters of "Huckleberry Finn" after Buck is killed, Huck says some things that I identified with pretty incredibly and yet Huck was just a fictional character . . . the idea that Michael knew insomnia and that it might not just be as a matter of lifestyle choices [and the so-called lifestyle choices, if you have really been there, they may not be choices from the inside the way they might look from the outside, sometimes behaviors that distress others may perhaps be the best or close to the afflicted person can do at that time], I personally felt like "wow, there is this other human being who might understand some of what I have experienced and experience and he goes on to be able to accomplish what he has . . ."

Please understand that, even if I was mistaken, it's okay to "disillusion" me . . . whatever I believed about Michael was probably important for me to believe whenever I believed it . . . it helped sustain me one more day . . . that's not an entirely bad thing . . .


Allen Bloomfield said...

quatiougDear John,
You seem to want to know the cause and effect of insomnia, self medication,and the long term effects of a painful childhood.
The observations that I make are just that, simple observations. Please consider them without accepting or denying simply read them.
Michael always had an active mind, even when he was younger. An avid reader if he was engrossed in what he was reading time did not exist. When he began playing on the road he developed sleeping problems. Playing late into the morning, loud, high energy music, did not produce conditions that were conducive to sleep. He would have to wait it out until the mind settled and his eyes would fall heavy. On some occasions this was possible, on others he resorted to sleeping pills. The insidiousness of this dynamic is that two events occur. One is lying there aware that your not asleep which this constant checking guarantees you wont fall asleep on the one hand and on the other the belief that you can only find sleep through medication. Neither conclusion is correct yet the fear of not sleeping can be so devastating that one might select any relief. In truth just for the record Michael detested all forms of speed or any drug that would accelerate his mind or body. The real problem Michael was trying to deal with was a chemical imbalance he had and was not aware of. Once Michael quieted down he still had high cortical activity that could only be controlled by specific medication. The fire that burned so brightly in his music and passion also haunted him at night. This gave rise to seeking out more powerful forms of self medication. That in turn reinforced the fear of being unable to sleep a vicious catch twenty two. He felt if he stopped touring, eliminated the pressure, peace of mind would be found. In the short term cutting out the stress was beneficial. Yet the cortical activity was still there. Obviously if we knew today what we didn't then I would never be writing this now.
We are all products of our parents. We are dependent on them and their influence on us leaves a lasting impression. We tend to emulate them and copy their behaviors. Once in a great while a child comes along that already has a sense of Self. They are different, see things differently and resist being forced to accommodate another's perspective. Michael was that type of child. in the early years he was simply different. Highly intelligent, quick witted and totally honest. But the millstone of conformity took it's toll. In some strange way this crucible made him the man he was.
Michael was fortunate to find music and a ability to communicate in a liquid way all of his feelings and passions and fears. In that regard he was lucky.
This I know my brother believed with all his heart, that everyman is special and that specialness is his particular contribution to the whole.
Thank you for your post
Allen B.

John said...

Thank you for your sensitive and helpful response . . . and it seems insightful or resonates with me personally in regard to how sometimes focus on something one might seem to want to wish away or force away sometimes prolonged or intensified it. Again, I want to thank you and for a moment had doubt that perhaps I had brought up something perhaps painful or taboo.

Michael really had wonderful tone and sometimes his guitar just really sang, and there are incredible moments, like there is something like 6 or 7 seconds in "Green Onions" where I just go "wow", he seems to be speaking some self-authenticating heart language . . . and yet for me it seemed like there were some truly wonderful things about Michael as a person that maybe I just noticed more in him or noticed in him before I was seeing it quite so much in others . . . and I would like to say some more at some point about some things I thought were truly wonderful about him, and I suspect that you might be aware of moments or incidents that might seem to contradict what I felt I picked up on, and yet it might do at least me myself a bit of good to mention these things . . . and this is not to claim for myself, but sometimes when we notice something in someone else, part of what we are seeing is an actualization of some potential we ourselves have . . . there was someone who mentioned the election . . . one of the things that I felt about Michael was that he manifested a potential for all of us to heal, to unify, to get out of or beyond certain boxes and he really was on the scene at a time where, although there was hopefulness, there was a lot of polarization, destructiveness, etc.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hi John,
How and what you listen to in Michael's playing is valid. If you hear sweetness or affirmation of what you have felt or are feeling this must be recognized as the power of sound.Also one can infer the soulfulness of the players.I have noticed that projecting specific characteristics to the artist is unrealistic and unfounded on fact. A personal example is a writer who I found to be the most articulate, strung words together expressing my most intimate feelings. A gift so great that his words became a living philosophy for me. I read everything he wrote and any articles regarding his life. Biographies came out written by very close members of his private life. One by one the ideas I held about him as a person were shattered. The dish of dirt about his real life completely refuted what he wrote. This irreconcilable sets of differences led me to the understanding that a man can write with great understanding and yet not live in that manner. His work,the art stands on it's own and should be solely judged on it's own merits.

Michael in a radio interview said "I am just a human being no different than you. I have the same hang ups as you have. The first thing I have to do when I meet someone who thinks I am a rock and roll star is break down that image and relate to him on the same level."
Mark Twain said, "There is nothing sadder then getting drunk off the whiff of another mans cork."

Allen B.

John said...


Again, thanks.

I myself have been there with having a writer on a pedestal and then finding out other things, I went through a bit of that years ago with both Hemingway and Kerouac.

Yet interestingly, like there is this old thing first there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is, sometimes after they come off the pedestal and the initial shock wears off, I have found there is something perhaps a bit deeper in understanding the given person, humanity, and one's self . . . and less tendency to put anyone on a pedestal . . .

don't know if you ever heard of Jean Moulin, a hero of the French Resistance who was tortured to death without giving up any names even though he knew the names . . . that guy, according to his sister, used to faint at the dentist . . . having that perspective actually, for me, adds a lot to what he went through and how he went through it and how significant it must have been to him to take responsibility for being part of something more than just his own apparent self . . .

I don't think I ever heard the Twain quote before, but it is good. And in a somewhat similar vein, Michael once played on a record that had a line "never understood that it ain't no good, you shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you."

I have many things to try to attend to today, but for the moment I would like to compare Michael a bit to a friend back when I was in high school who said "let's go see James Brown", at the time I thought and felt certain things, I wanted to go but was not comfortable with it . . . without going into it all, like Thomas Jefferson said "all men are created equal" and "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just" and "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility towards all forms of tyranny over the minds of men" and yet in America we really were almost all of us a bit ghettoized or even voluntarily trapping ourselves . . . and there was some very real violence that went on . . .

now this guy in high school, he went to the concert without me, came back, told me about it, it was great . . . and Michael did a bit of the same in a different way . . . there was perhaps a bit of a gap bridging, a healing, a demonstration of possibility . . .

sometimes during the exam, someone needs to cough first . . .

and so years later there were many things where I found myself able to consider options I might not have and to do things . . . one thing that comes to my mind, in the community I lived in they announced the formation of a Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission, that there would be a meeting . . . I showed up . . . I was the only white person . . . I am grateful there was a white person there, because Dr. King wasn't "just" a "black" American.

I was voted the treasurer.

I don't know if I would have found myself showing up if I hadn't had examples like my friend who went alone to the James Brown concert or Michael getting out of the box and going to the South Side. I think part of my showing up was just something in my heart, but maybe the example of my high school friend and Michael also had something to do with it actualizing . . .

Your post sounds like Michael was probably approachable on a real basis at times, maybe a lot of the time . . . I felt that might be so.

Even though one of the key things about him musicologically may be things like tone, and that he was one of our first people demonstrating that there was a certain dignity or value and expressiveness and communication in just playing guitar in a sort of rock / blues etc. vein like it matters, as it does, he seemed to demonstrate some other things to me like gratitude, generosity, openmindedness, humility that I am sure might not be present at all times with him, and in hindsight its not like he held a monopoly on those sort of things, but somehow it seemed communicated to me with a certain clarity in his case . . . and the thing to do is obviously not go try to get my hair curly like his, etc., but if it seems to resonate maybe ask why, or perhaps more importantly maybe go demonstrate it, personally, where I am personally . . .

I am grateful he passed through here . . .


and I need to go act locally today . . .

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear John,
Thank you for your most recent post
I enjoyed it thoroughly. In politics, war, emergencies man is able to rise to me the need. I remember when Michael and I were around 14 and 12 and were swimming in Lake Michigan at our local beach. There was a sandbar around 100 yards out and Michael said let's swim there. I remember saying I was not sure i could make it that far out. He said don't worry Allie you'll be OK. We got about 25 yards from the sandbar and I screamed to Michael I can't do it. He came right over and said your OK, and then went underwater and held me up until I caught my breath. He just kept catching air and holding me up until I could resume swimming.
One of the many reasons I love my brother was that he never made a big deal out of it. I knew with a
certainty that he would protect me no matter what.
You also reminded me of two incidents where I traveled out of my familiar surroundings. Once in New York I went to see Howling Wolf with a friend. He was playing in the Village and the audience was mostly white. Howling Wolf was menacing, and had a baleful disposition on stage. He projected a power and force that could not be denied. Feeling this assault made me really uncomfortable. His last number was "Howlin For My Baby" and he fell down on his knees and started to crawl around on the stage and he looked up and I will never forget the intensity in his eyes saying ,"is this what you want to see?" While his eyes burned with a defiance that burned into your soul.
The second experience was going with friends to the west side of Chicago to see Jerry Butler. This was a club that was predominantly black. Inside they had long tables and in front of each chair on
the table were a set of little ball headed hammers. Once the sense of self consciousness was shed it was clear that everyone there wanted to have a good time and we were welcome. We banged out with joy and when Mr. Butler sang at each table along with him, we gave it our best and it was received as just that.
Michael's true nature as is yours and mine is free from limitations.
It is none judgemental and kind. The work is to allow that which One really is, to be at the helm.

I appreciate your thoughts John.
Stay Well
Allen B.

John said...


I felt and thought a number of things in connection with your recent post and yet have been busy . . .

You have said some pretty wonderful things and also bring with them understanding that I find helpful personally for me myself to be reminded of; there are things I may know or learn but it is important to revisit them, practice them, etc.

What I say next may possibly sound a bit silly; later in life there were many things I needed to learn, and one kind of key thing was, like an old lady said to me once, "you have to grow where you are planted" . . . and on a journey, I have to start where I am, not where someone else is.

And yet there were many times years ago where I felt like, if I could have had an older brother, I would have liked Michael or someone very much like him to have been my older brother. There are many reasons for this . . . and yet ultimately, without getting into a big dissertation, the thing today is, I believe, to nurture in ourselves or allow the growth in ourselves of that which seems so valuable in another, and it might even involve making that available to other people, sort of where the rubber hits the road . . .

I don't want to go into it tons and tons at the moment. I think the Hindus have an expression "Namaste" which is a greeting that means something like "the best in me salutes the best in you" and perhaps in some ways Michael was a bit like an expression of that, not necessarily linked to that particular origin or verbalism, yet an encourager of that or something like that. There was another old lady who meant a lot to me and after she passed, a man said something like "all that we saw in her was just what she saw in us, she herself had done what was needed to clear her rubbish and then we felt both safe but also perhaps challenged to go do similar work ourselves" and later that day I was with some people in that town and realized, "even though I love to speak of her, the thing to do is more like to authentically demonstrate something similar . . ."

Your swimming story reminded me of an aunt of mine who once rescued me when I was little and felt like I was drowning . . . it was such a wonderful blessing that this woman was and is in my life but that incident alone may have deepened a bond or connection. And trust and connection would be issues for me in life, as they often are for people . . .

I want to say some things in regard to Howlin Wolf and Michael and some things where I probably misunderstood Wolf even though I kind of idolized him . . . there really is something in regard to Wolf I would have told Michael if I had ever gotten the chance . . . and silly as it may seem, I felt Michael would have probably understood and been gracious . . . fortunately I have been able to tell others, who in some sense understood, at least on some heart level.

But today, I want to say some things that resonate with me in connection to the end of your post . . . One of the things that was important to me about Michael or an aspect of him involved a sort of openmindedness, out-of-the-box, willingness or adventuresomeness, that was important to me and the National Holiday today is a bit of a reminder of all of that to me.

Dr. King spoke of viewing people by the conscience of their character rather than the color of their skin and sort of tried to cash Jefferson's check written saying "all men are created equal." Growing up, it seemed to me that there was more heart about the black music in American music, with the exception of some heart that seemed evident in hillbilly and rockabilly music. Yet Michael seemed to demonstrate to me that we could have and express that heart, regardless of what we looked like or where we came from.

Moreover, in my personal life experience, which was limited and to some extent involved geography, it had erroneously seemed to me that he was from a background that would only produce intellectual or technical people, accountants, dentists, engineers . . . I want to quickly say I know much more than I once did, that that was a generalization based on my limited experience and things I heard people say . . . yet it was doubly wonderful to me the demonstration that Michael made.

It broadened my sense of the depth of a human being, just because we are human. And although growing up I would hear of some sort of pioneer spirit or frontier theme in American history, in a sense, Michael was a living demonstration of it to me.

I suppose there may be some ethnic background things where some ethnic culture may be a little more conducive to certain types of expression, like to play the blues or something expressive like it, maybe it helps to be black, or Jewish, or Rom, or Celtic [isn't John Lennon a blues man in a sense, even if it isn't musicologically the same?] . . . Bruce Springsteen seems pretty authentic heart expression, even if he didn't come up from the Delta, etc.

. . . and I suppose that maybe it helps to actually have certain life experience yet as I grow, it seems more and more that authentic expression of the heart is available to us all . . . it can probably help to have an example before us . . . but maybe even that itself is not necessary.

Today, though, I feel grateful to have lived in a time where we had some people like Dr. King and like Michael showing there might be other ways of seeing the world from what we were already seeing . . .


Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear John,
I am sorry for the delay in responding. Your influences from the past reflected wisdom. The work begins from where you are and the condition your in. This is Universal in it's application. Your Aunt who reflected back what was in front of her was blessed in being able to let the Self meet the Self.

Michael was a devoted brother, but that is not to say that sibling rivalry was not present or that we didn't fight constantly. There were many different dynamics at play but the underlying commitment was to love and protect at all cost.
Every culture imprints their characteristic on the members. To see the unity in the diversity is to recognize the Truth. We were born Jewish and although not Orthodox we were exposed to the rituals and beliefs. What was recognized was that the wail of a Cantor, the crescendo of a Gospel hymn, the passion of a Spanish love song or a Irish Ballad all had a certain common thread. The sorrow of all people sounds the same. Regardless of race, religion or ethnicity in Truth we are all One. This is why there is Universality in music. It has the power to breakdown the illusion and for a short time reconnect people to their real stature.

Only in America with all our short comings is this understanding still in the consciousness of the Nation.

This can be celebrated everyday.


John said...


Thank you again so very much.

You seem to regularly remind me of things that it is good for me to remember.

Personally, I find it useful sometimes to have moments or places of special focus and yet, you are right, there are things that aren't just limited to that.

When I was a boy I had a spot by a river I would go sit and it was very useful but the place is changed, no longer accessible and if I were to limit myself to that spot, I would really be hurting.

Being an oldest brother and actually probably the first one in at least a few generations, I know we make our mistakes and I also know a bit about sibling rivalry.

And I am sure there are things about Michael, like there is a recording where John Hammond [the producer and father of the musician] says something to him like "Michael, calm down, take it easy" . . . I was a little surprised when I heard that but certainly I can understand . . . probably everybody human gets excited or intense . . .

Once when I was in an airplane I noticed that as I flew over bodies of water, the sun would temporarily brightly reflect to me from some -- although not all -- of the successive bodies of water I could see from the window and as I watched and tried to guess what was next or how long the light would come from a given body of water, I sort of had a heart understanding come to me that in my life, I had sometimes become limited or attached to certain things coming to me consistently and continuously from certain given individuals when what was coming to me perhaps wasn't "from" them at all but perhaps coming temporarily "through" them . . . tears came to my eyes at this understanding that I had often mistaken the reflectors or channels of light for the light itself and been presumptuous or overly attached [not sure if I am getting this across the best way, but it was a big deal to me as I looked out the window . . .]

There is a part of all of this where I feel like I want to bounce off of you things like "Michael seemed like X to me" and yet I do want to say that in September 2007 I went out to Culver City and there was a spot on a wall, there was a photograph someone left there of him with a woman, and there were a few notes and I left a note myself, giving thanks, not to Michael per se, but saying something like "thank you for what you showed me through Michael"

Being able to communicate with you about Michael, or what he was sometimes a temporary manifestation of, has been a positive thing for me . . . one aspect for me of positive things is that there is often some element of "and yet" or opening to it and I am finding that, this is a bit hard to describe or define, but I am getting a bit more in touch or trusting of something that is perhaps a bit more like my own voice in regard to some things . . . speaking of Michael seems part of a process . . .

And this is perhaps an awkward analogy: If you have ever bought and fixed certain canned soup, some of it has a lid with a ring on it, you pull up the ring and lift the lid and then you have access to the soup . . . the ring is temporarily of great utility and then it becomes time to fix soup . . . I believe Michael or my experience of him is probably always going to mean a lot to me, but part of this process of exploration and expression and finding out, maybe I am going to get a bit more towards the actual soup . . . seems quite possible . . .

One thing I do want to say about Michael is that it seemed to me that the environment I was in was a competitive one that seemed to presume that happiness or peace was at the expense of someone else or some group of others . . . and there are many things I remember, like one time I won a spelling bee and the boy who came in second, he was a friend of mine, he cried, he cried big tears, and part of me deeply felt no sense of victory rather more like "what has happened, perhaps I won a spelling bee and lost a friend, I don't know if this was worth it" . . . music as a business or human activity can be a competitive thing that sometimes involves for some things like getting a chart position or better gig or where you are on the bill etc. and even some things like competing for girls, well that's why the wonderful saxophonist Lester Young switched to saxophone from drums, he noticed he could pack up quicker and get to the girls or a girl . . . and yet to me music at its heart is much more of a heart thing, a connecting thing rather than a dividing thing, a cooperative thing, and maybe not even a "thing" . . .

and one of the qualities that Michael seemed to demonstrate or was able to demonstrate was that he was willing to do some things like promote Eric Clapton, who I had not heard of until I heard Michael mention him, or sort of say "if you like me, you will really love this blues guy so and so, you really might want to check him out", and people did . . . he helped bring many of us into a true feast . . . there seemed to be a certain demonstration of love, humility, generosity and an absence of envy or jealousy or malice to Michael when he was like that . . . and there was something for me personally that was a bit eye-opening, heart-opening, and temporarily -- at least -- contagious about that aspect of Michael . . .


Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear John,
What comes to mind after reading your thoughtful experiences may sound strange. In the teachings of Vedanta there is a ancient way of applying mathematics. They start from the whole, unity and the largest of all numbers is One. It includes all, excludes nothing and for that reason alone depicts the Absolute. Further in The Upanishads the first is a description of the Lord.
"That is perfect
This is Perfect.
Perfect comes from Perfect.
Take Perfect from Perfect
and the remainder is Perfect.
May Peace, and Peace, and peace be everywhere."

I believe this is a description how things really are. I also recognize that there are impediments to perceiving this Truth. Once the clouds of ignorance are dissolve, this knowledge is made manifest. Because we are all endowed with this potential it seems consistent that at one time or another the conditions are just right for the true Self to shine through. The wonder of this moment is that it awakens that same Self in the audience and the loved and the beloved are joined. Hence the most powerful experience arises.

One quality Michael demonstrated was that he did not claim his talent. In his heart of hearts he realized that this was a gift, and that it was far greater than an Ego and had to be treated with humility. From that point of understanding he could freely admire and encourage others to be their best.
Perhaps the best image of Michael was an individual who lived between the sublime and the mire and lost his balance along the way.

John said...


Again, thank you . . . I am heading out but want to quickly say that what you said did not seem strange and although there are apparent differences between certain paths or people who profess to be on them, what you were saying connects, to me, with more than just one labeled path . . . I'll want to process it a bit more but it seems pretty true . . .

Some of your remarks also remind me of a thing, I think the Chinese name is Chiy'un or something like that, about this harmony between a musician and audience . . . I think Michael seems to have described or partially described the experience of it at least once, it's towards the beginning of that Wolkin book, pp 22, 23 . . . it deeply resonated with me, anyways, and what was one of my greatest life experiences prior to certain things shortly after that seemed wonderful at first but were offtrack . . . and yet sometimes it takes a walk through mire or darkness to get some perspective . . . there's a Tom Waits song that goes something like "never saw the morning till I stayed up all night. . . never knew the East Coast till I moved to the West"

The thing about Michael not claiming his talent, that resonates with me, I always felt like if I "won" something it was just because the arms I was given were longer etc.

In a way, Michael opened me up to some things that helped me get disentangled from some things it was better for me to disentangle from, and it wasn't one of these things like him being a demonstration of what not to do . . . when I heard about his passing, I was saddened greatly but that wasn't enough to turn me around . . . there are plenty of wonderful musicians who have succumbed . . .

Anyways, thank you so very much.


Allen Bloomfield said...

Well said John,
I too am short on time so will speak simply.
I have several dogs and you may have had one as well. Teaching a young dog to walk on a leash properly takes patience and time. The pup wants to follow the scent or any movement that captures his attention. Slowly he learns to yield to the pressure of the collar and leash. In the beginning his neck hurts and he is resentful of the guidance, eventually this passes and he realizes that if he walks closer and closer to his master things become much nicer. This trust increases and he realizes that the master wants only his happiness and well being.

So above, so below. Those who know stay next to the Master.


John said...


Again, thanks!

Well said and yet I am not sure I have ever encountered that particular analogy, even though I have many times heard people speak of related things. For me, that analogy focuses on how it is, most or maybe all of that or what most matters of that, and how the progress or development of the relationship occurs . . . and yet it understandingly acknowledges some of the hesitation or hindrances.

I think Aba Eban, who was maybe Israel's foreign minister or U.N. ambassador about 40 years ago, he once said something like, this is a broad paraphrase, "nations are like people and sometimes they have to try the things that don't work in order to get ready to try what really does work." There may be some trial and error. Interestingly, we have these sayings about how he who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it (to me, this seems to usually sound like remembering unsuccessful experiments or unhealthy delusions or distractions, but maybe it's not limited to that), or ideas about emphasizing avoidance of "negative" things or encouraging aversion to them (perhaps a bit like the first Three Stooges movie about their aversive self-help group, 'The Woman-Haters Club'), . . . and yet at core, it seems to me it is or may well be more important to be trusting and guided by something or Someone more benevolent or wise than to mentally focus on potholes . . . you are saying the Master, in the analogy, but there might be other names like Love, Truth, Wisdom, God, etc. that a given individual might get an initial handle on. One of the big human transformation movements of modern times published its main document about 70 years ago and it said something like "the most important fact in their lives is the consciousness of the presence of God today"; yet to some extent today many in that movement instead seem to have drifted into this idea of repeatedly remembering how bad certain experiences were they wish to avoid . . .

So anyways your analogy, previously unknown to me, has great truth, simplicity, usefulness, and resonance for me. I appreciate it and I thank you.

I believe that experience or awareness of certain "negatives" can be educational and there may even be some need to be willing to become aware that something that seemed useful until today, maybe it is not useful anymore, maybe it is time to let go of it . . . and yet . . . there is more . . . and positive guidance seems more useful to me than cultivating aversion towards some particular to be avoided . . .

If I say something like Michael's example was helpful to me, it isn't something like wanting to distance myself from how he ended etc., it's more like my appreciation of some things that I feel were best about him, it was good for me to open myself to such things, to appreciate them, to perhaps take action conducive to them. And as you seem to be saying, what I appreciated, it was not something that Michael invented or had a patent or monopoly on . . .

The thing I paraphrased about a movement viewing the consciousness of the presence of God today as the most important fact, they also said something like a few pages later that each of us, deep down, has this fundamental idea of God that is there, even though it may be obscured by certain other things like circumstance, pride, attachment to or worship of certain distracting things . . . and I certainly would not want to lose sight of what seems a fact or deep truth that seems to run through our dialogue, that what I found valuable about Michael, he was perhaps just a demonstration of it that happened to resonate with me . . . in the analogy about seeing the sunlight reflect off the bodies of water to my vantage point in an airplane, people a few rows up may have seen the reflection come off a different body of water or different portion of one . . . I was a teenager, who among other things, found something really resonant within himself from the blues . . . so in my case, maybe Michael was the right person at the right moment etc. and someone entirely different may have demonstrated or channeled what was needed to someone else . . . in one particular path, they have a hymn that goes "praise God from whom all blessings flow", they thereby designate an ultimate source . . . and yet things may get here through particular people or circumstances at a given moment

And yet if I could walk up to Michael this morning, I would probably still want to say, "hey, wow, gee, thanks . . ."

Even though I left a note out in Culver City next to a few other notes, and mine said something like "Thank you for what you showed me through Michael"

Soon I need to go demonstrate some love, patience and wisdom in a difficult circumstance . . .

Again, thanks, Allen.


Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear John,
I have a favor to ask of you. In our chats you make a heart full effort to describe the effect Michael had on you life. The fact that he touched you so deeply is a great compliment to him. I think it is time now to pull way back and look at this from a much larger point of view.
Take a surveyor who looks through his scope intending to fix a point several miles away for the new road. A fly hovers near his ear and he swats it not realizing the scope was brushed ever so slightly and he writes down the coordinates. What was the most minor of changed measurements translates in to being yards of miles away.
There is only one exact place where change occurs, that is in the present. Where time past and time future intersect is in the now. For example when you drive a nail into a piece of wood it is the exact point at the tip of the nail meeting the wood that will determine the success of the action. The depiction of history is no different, the conditions at that specific time are unique to that time and should not be considered the correct response at another time.
I personally have learned more by fucking up than be succeeding. The lesson has greater shelf life.
Lastly we have a tendency to deny or ignore that which we know. The reasons for this are various but we all seem to do it.
A man convinced himself that he could fly. On a beautiful spring day he went to the top of the Empire State building and took the elevator to the observation deck.
When nobody was around he climbed over the fence and holding on he viewed the city. He saw Central Park the Hudson River, the sky scrappers and traffic below. Then he noticed the clear blue sky and the horizon. He pushed himself off and as he plummeted downward he noticed a window washer. He yelled out," how am I doing?" The window washer replied, "So far so good."
Regardless of how we behave Natural Law will always act in accordance to the fine regulations of the creation.

I guess the most important point I can make is that God is not some distant Being. On the contrary he is within all and without all. Your true Self is the very same as His. This has to be realized.

If this Blog has served any purpose at all it will be to kindle the desire to verify this

Best Wishes,

John said...


Thanks . . . it does seem to always be about now and yet as you acknowledge, perspective may involve awareness of past experience, gratitude as well . . . perhaps awe and openness and gratitude and the rest of it thrive most in the present . . . anyways I have had a lot of opportunities to be kind and perhaps an agent of and recipient of healing, kindness, reconciliation, communication, etc. with people around me lately . . . and it is time to continue.

Again, thanks.


Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear John,
I wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. We came to a natural conclusion and I am grateful for your efforts.
I hope you continue to enjoy the site and write whenever the mood strikes.
Your friend,
Allen B.

Frank Macias said...

Man, ya'll are getting deep. Very interesting though. I read the entire blog.

I am always amazed at how people describe the effect Mike had on them. It is really difficult to "hit the nail on the head" but with much contemplation it can be achieved.

Among the things to look at is your age, culture, your own musical abilities and especially your state of mind at the time of a grand musical experience.

Playing music is the most spiritual human art in existence. It is here "now" and then its gone forever; never to return in the same way. Thank God for records, huh? Even records will sometimes be heard differently at another time or another place. One may even hear things not heard at earlier listenings.

I usually went to the Fillmore with friends. They usually wanted to watch someone else on the bill. People like Moby Grape, The Byrds, The Airplane, Buffalo Springfield, and The Dead. I enjoyed watching all these players but it wasn't the same as when the PBBB band or the Electric Flag got on stage. There was no comparison with the facility that the latter mentioned groups exhibited their talent. It was and remains incredible musicianship from Butter, to Elvin, to Billy and on to the others. They fit like hand to glove and had a great stage presence. But that was me. I'll bet a nickle that the friends I attended these concerts with do not recall at all what I remember and enjoyed tremendously. I think they were too entrapped in their world and culture to appreciate what the Butter Band was doing. And that's ok too! Because of Elvis I picked up my first guitar. Because of Mike I had to take it serious! So you really never know how the experience is going to effect you or when. I consider myself very lucky to have the ability to appreciate tremendous human talent and good music when I am fortunate enough to hear it or see it.

Some people and some musicians as well cannot see that. I won't go into detail very much because it is a very touchy and sore subject with me. People sometimes can be very shitty and will go out of their way to make you feel lke shit because of the very thing you do. I've experienced this even with my limited talents. I can't imagine what a giant talent like Mike or Butter experienced through the years when the specter of jealousy or envy raises its ugly and nasty little head.

Allen, I love the Howling Wolf story. The Wolf was a powerful human being. Never saw him live but just watching the videos is enough to see how he projected himself to an audience. Mighty Joe Young had nothing on this cat! "Mighty" was a spot on a film someone made. The Wolf was the real shit!

Insomia can be horrible. I lean more towards problems with prescribed or self-medication than with anything else. If the doctor gives you something for sleep be careful. When you don't have it the insomnia will come back at you with a vengeance! That's why you have to wean yourself with the doctor's direction. I cold- turkeyed myself once 'cause I didn't want to take them anymore. I didn't sleep for 5 days! I was depressed, I couldn't go outside, my skin hurt when I looked at it, I was hallucinating, I was crying at the news on tv. Man, I felt the worse I'd ever felt! For the first time in my life I thought about robbing a drug store or thought that death was better. I couldn't go much longer. I thought I'd never be able to sleep again. This went on night after night. I dreaded nightfall. I knew I was going to lay there in my bed wide-awake and that the bedroom was going to turn into a coffin. The walls were coming at me. It was that nightmarish with a capital N!

I lay myself open here only to help others. Whoever has not gone through this trauma may not appreciate what I am saying. I know what it's like! Get off of whatever and go at it with a measured slowness.

Hey Allen would you mind talking about the stuff you like to read? Have you ever read "Bloomfield Flowers"?

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Frank,
I sincerely appreciate your generosity in discussing personal experiences that capture the anguish of insomnia. The innocence of childhood is free from worrying about falling asleep or breathing correctly or for that matter being in any way concerned about our natural functions. It then seems this Golden Age becomes forgotten and the troubles begin.
I had never considered the ephemeral quality of music. Especially in a live performance.
If the listener is fully connected
to the arising sounds then he is also connected to the moment and that alignment has the power to elevate the consciousness of the experience. This leads me to why
those you may be with do not share the same experience. In Order to simply listen one has to be prepared to redirect their attention from their own mind and put it on that which is occurring.
Secondly we all hold ideas and opinions and expectations about everything and if those are the filter by which the listening must go through then really just a half ass experience happens. Lastly we all have friends who for the best of intentions say they want to hear the blues and truthfully that is the last thing they want to hear.
For years I tormented my family and friends to listen to this and that. It was almost like a tiny radio show and they for the most part were polite and hid their yawns, visited the bathroom for mental relief and I took this as an insult not only to the artist but to me. My intentions were to share something I loved but if I had really understood Love I would have realized that you can't force feed anyone.
I heard once that men of wisdom never initiate. They only do that which is necessary no more no less.

I have never read the Bloomfield Flowers an intriguing title. Michael was an avid reader and I as well. On my nightstand are Steven King, The Waste Lands, Aldous Huxley's, Island, John Updike, Bech At Bay, and Views from the Gurdjieff Work, The Inner Journey. I also have a thick Scrooge McDuck Comic Book which I can't wait to read.

Frank thank you again for your thoughts,
please stay in touch.
Allen B.