ID Music: Extraordinary Laziness I
North America's Gnarliest Mix for aimless and/or outlaw psychedelic experiences
If you’re eager to get right into ID Music 20230120 scroll down for download links, streams, and setlists
As liftoff for our 2022 Winter Holidays “medicine journey” approached, I was getting nervous. Neither of us had put much thought into the evening’s one-on-one DIY couple’s retreat, beyond an agreement that we weren’t up for a New Year’s Eve spent getting overly beery at the three downtown bars that we mostly stopped going to at the beginning of the pandemic anyway. We only came to the conclusion that we should spend the occasion “journeying” the previous afternoon, when a piece of unexpected good news regarding student loans showed up via email, and head friends in Taos offered encouraging counsel.
We had the morning of New Year’s Eve for pre-flight checklists though, so we vacuumed and cleaned the toilet and consolidated the clutter of daily life into out-of-the-way corners and stuffed it into closets. At T-minus two hours I made a run to the store for fresh fruit and mint tea, candied mango slices and dark chocolate, and enough garlic and ginger to make the infused sesame oil that transmogrifies comedown ramen into a spicy, sinus-clearing elixir.
But questions still hung in the air as we prepared the sacraments, set up multiple soft-sided contemplative zones, consolidated candles, reassured the cats, and double-checked that the home soundsystem was fully operational with all the right tunes within easy reach.
Why was I doing this? What was I looking for? What questions would I ask if I was granted one of those “you can visit with Jesus/Buddha/Krishna for a few minutes but you can’t stay” interviews? How could I make the most of my time spent in this altered state? What needs fixing inside my head? What does any of this even mean?
As with most things pertaining to psychedelics, the answers are dependent on set and setting. But these questions feel more urgent due in part to the insidiousness of grind mindset, and the white supremacist logic of our end-stage capitalism setting: Sometimes the point of tRipPPIng bawls with your sweetheart is TrIPpiNg bawls with your sweetheart.
This is neither a refutation of psychedelic therapy, ritualized practices, nor a suggestion that psychoactive and entheogenic substances can't function as medicines and therapeutic tools. It is pushing back on the idea that the altered states explored by psychonauts, marijuanauts, and/or dharmanauts are more worthwhile if they’re a step up on a self-improvement ladder. What if instead we passively allow these chemicals to erode our egos as part of a non-self improvement practice? Put in less obtuse Zen language, taking drugs can be super fun. But in a culture “without a pause button,” to borrowa phrase from Nap Ministry founder Tricia Hersey, we are often encouraged to legitimize rest and recreation as work, or as aspirational self-care. That burnout rationale is in the air we breathe, and doesn’t stop at the threshold of the dharma room or acid test.
This thinking runs counter to my … uh … “training” … in the use of psychedelics. This instruction was assuredly underground, and perhaps better characterized as an outlaw curriculum given that my guide was fond of hosting impromptu medicine circles at "poached" Big Sur campsites, blazing up in his truck en route to the gun range, and sometimes asked favors like can we stop at Café Tropical for a breakfast sandwich on the way to drop him off for a weekend playing cards with King Tee in the LA County Jail.
He offered such chaotic instruction as “we can’t stop drinking while we’re tripping cuz as soon as we stop drinking everybody’s gonna realize we’re on acid” while carefully doling out microdots. As part of this particular field test, he also suggested some friendly slap-boxing “to sober up a bit” as we haunted grotty bars in downtown Los Angeles. Change of plans after we realized we’d wandered into Skid Row, and two white boys with nebulous intentions of comradely scrapping were drawing rough-sleeper looky-loos from the shadows.
We soon adjourned to the Arthur Nights festival, seeking communion with Sun Ra Arkestra and OM. We were both contributors to the magazine, and settling in for some colorful maximum volume improvisational noise from Yellow Swans in the oldest remaining original Orpheum theatre in the US felt like a safe space where we could let our guards down. Maybe even cool it with the tequila long enough for people to figure out what was really going on. It was smooth sailing once we assured the friends who greeted us that we had not, in fact, driven ourselves to the event with pupils dilated into depthless pools of darkness. Where our chauffeur ended up – he lost patience during our psychotropic bar crawl and wandered off muttering about finding a place to watch an Arsenal match – was anyone’s guess.
Over the course of the next year this friend helped me shake off a serious bout of depression through psychedelic wilderness adventure. When the going got tough he could be relied on for help, such as – eventually – notifying a lifeguard on that one beautiful sunny afternoon when I got caught in a riptide off the coast of San Luis Obispo as the shrooms were starting to kick in. I tried to make peace with this Superwolf obituary as I let go and floated the increasingly sparkly waves that were dragging me out to sea. Thanks to the lifeguard I was able to wander the hills that night where we would experience such mystical visions like mistaking the slow-rising moon for the lights of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
These were gonzo adventures for sure, but the lessons were real. The ability to gather my wits and perform complex tasks in disorienting and terrifying situations would serve me well a few years later when I started work as an EMT in Far West Texas. My psychedelic home-schooling continued during this time in part because such medicines are less likely to pop on a drug test than more pedestrian floral remedies. Perhaps we’ll talk about OBEs triggered by unwittingly heroic kratom doses on a future episode.
The most important thing that I took from this course in miserable miracles was the idea that such experiences are not exclusive, we are not special for having them, and that there’s nothing to get. This is always just my life as it is, and so it goes for each one of us.
Like dreams, glimpses of enlightenment, or tarot readings, psychedelic experience can suggest insights and guidance. Or it can just be what it is. When I find myself searching for meaning it’s often because I’m unsatisfied with the meaning that is already evident. I want my thoughts to be more profound, my visions more colorful, or the music to be louder and more transcendent. But as with meditation or life in general, some of my most transformational experiences with psychedelics have taken place when I’m sitting on my cushion staring at the same old floor, or watching the elegant choreography of city buses making their way through the minor concrete canyons of downtown Muncie.
… there is no doubt that a certain amount of ordinary laziness would lend our culture the pleasant mellowness which it singularly lacks.
Having fun or goofing off is not necessarily the same thing as being lazy. I choose to talk about laziness because it’s reputation is worse. It can be a more powerful refutation of oppressive ideologies to invert them entirely, rather than subtly reframe them: Laziness is extraordinary. Laziness is a virtue.
“In the Western world it is second nature for us to assume that all creative action requires the incentive of inadequacy and discontent,” writer and fellow meditation radio show host Alan Watts wrote in 1958’s Nature, Man and Woman. “It seems obvious that if we felt fulfilled at each instant and no longer regarded time as a path of pursuit, we should just sit down in the sun
, pull large Mexican hats over our eyes, and put bottles of tequila at our elbows
This Inter-Dimensional Music series on laziness takes its cues from Alan Watts as much as from this New Year’s Eve experience with my partner. We set an intention lifted from the Heart Sutra, both for our journey and for the coming year: “Also no attainment, with nothing to attain.” Life as creative action that is not driven by the incentive of inadequacy and discontent. Life as it is will never be more than just this moment, and it will always be enough. It can’t be anything else.
That meant we rang in 2023 lying on the floor completely transfixed by the beauty of “Insider,” the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet that came up with uncanny timing on our Bumpin’ on Sunset soundtrack. Later we cried together while watching our beloved and extremely old cat Otter Pops turn to a skeleton, a hallucinatory reminder that he was probably spending his last Winter Solstice with us before joining his kindred Eugene and Spider Baby on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. It hit me that this was maybe the last time he’d serve as a trusty companion radiating pure love vibrations during one of myentheogenic experiences. Talk about living with hard promises!
And then it was back to rolling around on the yoga blankets spread over the living room floor and laughing hysterically at terrible jokes that we knew would make no sense come sunrise. We’d set aside pen and paper to make notes should any profound revelations present themselves, and the entirety of our documentation consists of the phrase “Pharoah Faucet” scrawled in sharpie on a sticky note, affixed to the wall near the cats’ water fountain.
2023 will be another year full of suffering, equanimity, and joy just like every other year, but for its first few hours we were deeply grateful for the abundance of extraordinary laziness, pleasant mellowness, spicy ramen, and “LA's smoothest soft rock and jazz fusion” in our East Central Indiana Rust Belt apartment.
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blessing up + blessing down,
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Inter-Dimensional Music 20230120
North America's Gnarliest Mix of extraordinary laziness and heavy mellowness
For this week's practice, it's an hour of contemplative improvisational music, songs of defiance, and poly and non-binary rhythms. We begin with an ever-changing improvisational drone for clarinet and analog electronics, before moving into more contemplative jamming from longtime allies Prana Crafter and Co. Our path takes us for a visit with another friend of the show – living dirt farmers Triple Negative – for “tribal Moondog rhythms,” before soaking in the "vocal barrage, storming percussion, spectral vocal samples and unrelenting kick drum patterns" of Joe Rainey's industrial pow-wow music. We'll end up with a long-form exploration of the gnawa-inspired imaginary folk sounds of Širom, Slovenia’s answer to Natural Information Society’s ecstatic minimalism.
We'll hear language throughout the broadcast from Alan Watts on the value of ordinary laziness. There are thousands of inspirational entrepreneurial influencers who will tell you to stay on your grind, but Inter-Dimensional Music is here to remind you (and me) that we all suffer regardless, so if you wanna take it easy that's probably just as good.
artist – work
Waclaw Zimpel & Hans Kulk - Breath of Brahma
Prana Temple Eyes - In Lichen Limbo
Triple Negative - Living Dirt (edit)
Joe Rainey - once the reaper
Širom - A Bluish Flickering
☸️ Alan Watts - Ordinary Laziness
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I’ve followed Hersey’s work for awhile – at the suggestion of Spouse Rachel, who has long been a vocal proponent of anti-grind, no-attainment, non-self improvement mindset – but I do not want to suggest that Hersey is in favor of or opposed to the recreational use of psychedelics. More language from her on an upcoming installment of the Extraordinary Laziness series.
Casual racism aside, as a low-key enthusiast of artisanal agave spirits I feel compelled to point out that tequila is among the least depressive and most hangover-resistant spirits but it’s really the “large Mexican hat” part that sucks and has thus been edited out of your host’s reading of this passage on the corresponding episode of Inter-Dimensional Music.
I’ve taken psychedelics with Otter as my trip-sitter more times than I remember. Sweet lil’ guy. It’s SOOO CUTE how in his old age he makes it all the way over to the litter box, assumes the position in the carefully raked sand, and unloads his foul cargo on to the hardwood floor.
Wonderful as always. That opening track completely knocked me for six.