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by Steve Bujanow


I've often wondered where music will go in this brand new century we are entering. In my mind I imagine there may be the continued use of the 6 string guitar, but might be integrated with more electronic type music in the future.

Chris and I feel we have that new sound which could be considered to be a mix of synth-pop and rock. We aspire to be a "thinking band," hence Neo Cortex, a part of the most evolved brain in humans. When I write I try to compose and make connections to the grand scheme of things in this realm of life we live in, and not just about what I consider the over played and over used theme of love in today's music. I believe there are many other topics to discuss other than this. We would like to open a new perspective of various contents, and this comes from my psyche, and Chris's fingers playing the keyboard.

I am captivated by the possibilities of creating a synthetic but very real form of energetic and creative use of machines to help produce a hybrid of rock and roll.

I respect and admire pioneering techno and older synth-pop bands for charting a region of unexplored territory with the synthesizers of yesterday. Two of my favorite examples are New Order, (an English band,) and Kraftwerk, (a German band.)

At this point in time so much more is possible to create electronic music than it was in the older days of the 1980's. Things are digital now, among other major developments. I feel things that can be done are today are incredible and may be endless with technology in the future.

To me it seems difficult to keep up with the latest gear available for bands like ours. This depicts the explosion of this modern form or type of music and the trend to promote it. When I first began with the band "The Beat Freaks" in 1993 along with my keyboardist Trevor, we only had a 4-track, a SY-35 Yamaha keyboard, 1 synth card, and a simple mike to do vocals. We would record on tape then, but now, with Neo Cortex everything is computerized and there is no such thing as tape. This is quite a difference! Chris and I can create a new song so much faster than this older medium. This shows me how things can change so rapidly for musicians like us and those starting out.

Despite all of this, I believe it's really creativity that helps a band work. Compatibility and chemistry are also key factors and without these, (and I've experienced it,) nothing works.


Jamming Upstairs

10:45 AM. It proved to be the beginning of a magical time on that heated summer morning. I briskly drove the three-mile trip to see my friend Chris to record some music. When I reached his house situated on Kinderhook Lake, I got out of my green Subaru Outback, and my blue and white gummy skateboarder shoe touched the ground. It stuck to the pavement like strawberry jelly and made a sticky sound. I noticed the bright yellow sunflowers near the front door. They were standing nearly at my height. I heard my bandmate's dog Hitchcock, a border collie, barking loudly welcoming me to his domain.

For some reason I counted the thirteen wooden steps as I climbed up the stairs of his garage. I didnít realize going up those stairs to his studio would signal a long lasting creative scenario. When I reached the top flight I gently opened the door and Chris smiled intently and energetically shook my hand. I heard the positive "all right!" from him as I walked in. I immediately felt something special was about to happen.

Chris took a small square cloth and carefully dusted off the modern-looking red Korg Karma synthesizer. He walked slowly over to his white air conditioner and turned it on. He commented that it was "proboscis" in the studio, or in common terms, very hot.

I felt excited and sat down on his small but comfortable white chair and pulled up the black footstool to lay my lyric sheets on. From this moment on we would have no rules, boundaries, or limits concerning our music.

There was a metallic tea kettle to my left and it was furiously brewing a pot of water. I settled in and made myself comfortable. I was sitting on a big red and black oriental rug. Chris appeared focused with a small guitar pick in his mouth. This would be our first two -hour session above his garage.

The warm sunlight poured through the skylight on me. I joked to Chris that I had "sunshine on my shoulder." Different cables lie strewn across the floor. I reached into my overstuffed blue music bag and pulled out an orange juice and plastic bottle of water to re-hydrate myself on this hot day.

I continued to survey my newfound surroundings. I peered at a big green healthy jade plant and several guitars of various colors. The walls were covered with forest green and charcoal black acoustic tiles to sound proof the room. I remember there was also a very attractive calendar with a beautiful painting by Monet on display with rich and vibrant blue and green colors.

Off to my immediate left sat something that looked like it was from a 1950ís science fiction movie. It was a giant mixing board with room for at least 64 tracks. I was thinking that it would be serious business when we get around to recording with all this equipment.

In front of Chris was a curious old looking mirror. I asked him about it and he said it was a feng shui thing. He faced away from the door yet he could still see in back of him. I muttered aloud "what a concept!"

Two squarish black amps were placed in the back of the room. I noticed that there was a temperature gauge next to the window. It told the temperature inside and out, the date, and the relative humidity. It was climate controlled in the studio. I could feel the cool wisps of air on my arms and neck. I would discover later that Chris was very interested in weather conditions and patterns.

It was 11:05 AM and time to start the recording process. We began that morning by thinking about making hooky guitar riffs, finding buzzy synths, and tight beats that would become our musical signature.

That day we launched into a great level of productive interaction. The computer was fired up. Chris said "Letís find some really cool beats!" and he tapped out a steady rhythm with his right foot along to a computerized drum. He hooked up my microphone, and I became "digital." Next came the keyboard melodies and then my vocals.

I believe we were destined to have prolific energy. We have shared much laughter and fun, and have been together as the band "Neo Cortex" for over 18 years now. I have written over 300 pages of lyrics. This is our story. Who knows why it started. I just thank God for being able to jam upstairs with Chris.



Dr. Parker Hall and The Realm of Absurdity

Tuesday, September 3

Hello class. Welcome to 20th Century British Literature. My name is Dr. Parker Hall, but you can call me Parker. As you'll soon find out, I'm a great fan of Samuel Beckett, a writer who lived from 1906-1989. We'll be learning about "the theater of the absurd" and other good stuff related to this form. We'll be looking at his play called Krapp's Last Tape.

Does anyone know what absurdist drama is? Wait. Before we get into this premise, I'd like everyone to stand up. Good. Now sit down. OK. Stand up. Sit down. Stand up again. And sit down. Excellent. Let's move on. Now that we've broken out of convention we can discuss the world of the absurd.

Can everyone say "spooool." Try it.-Good, class. That is a line from Krapp's Last Tape. It's funny, I seem to have a lot in common with this character. For example, I have a fetish for bananas, have problems with my bowel movements, and I like to drink alcohol, especially when I teach my students. I also have my brooding moments. I'm sure you'll find these things out as we study together throughout the semester. Ha, Ha.

There's another dude that we need to cover who has much to do with the world of the absurd. His name was Jean-Paul Sartre. He thought reality was very absurd. He said if we were a rock or inert object, we might feel much better about things, although this isn't possible. He believed there is no one right meaning, or even the best meaning according to him. Due to this, there's no real purpose in reality, including going to college for that matter?!, but we have to make choices about what to do with our lives. So you see then, he felt this situation was absurd! As human beings, we are forced to make important decisions lacking good reasons.

Anyway, the definition for absurdity is something ridiculous, something irrational or illogical. Do you understand me so far? Let's move on.

Absurdism basically is the idea that the universe has no meaning or order, and people, while desperately trying to figure it out, only come into conflict with its goings on. In Beckett's plays life seems to stop, and his characters do purposeless actions that underline no purpose for their lives, as with our friend Mr. Krapp. So, guys, be prepared to talk about your ideas about the play next time.

Thursday, September 5

Welcome back everyone! I want you to do something. As you walk into the room, close your eyes and find a place to sit by feeling your way around. I'll count to ten. Those that have found a seat by the time I'm through counting can take the day off, and won't have any homework for next time. (Ten seconds go by.) Great! It looks like only five of you did it! Now, everyone else, let's get into the assignment.

First of all, what do you think of Mr. Krapp? Yes, Jennifer. What do you think?

"Well, he's kind of creepy. I don't like him very much. He doesn't have a life, and doesn't take care of himself."

John, you had your hand up...

"I feel sorry for Krapp, he seems lonely and wants to remember his past through those spools he's always talking about."

That's true, John. Anyone else? Yes, Samantha.

"He's an absolutely disgusting excuse for a human being! What a jerk!"

So we all have some different views about the play. That's good. Now I'll get back to some more lecture and maybe we can all get a little closer to what Beckett had in his mind while he wrote.

If we look at the character Krapp, human experience is fragmented and seems not to have purpose. This concept was shared in a visual manner. It is related to Dadism and Surrealism in art. I will discuss this connection later on. In both of these media, logic was thrown out. The human situation Beckett portrays lacks purpose. I think it holds a negative or pessimistic view of humanity, which tries to maintain a way to be in control of its fate. As this occurs, mankind only feels anxious, hopeless, and confused. If we examine the behavior of Krapp, he appears silly. It gives the play a comic effect. This style of writing may well be considered a form of the avant-garde.

Class, let's take a look at one of the texts I've assigned you to study. Take out "The Real Mother Goose" originally published in 1916 by Rand McNally and Company, Chicago. It is a book of rhymes. Open your books to page 24 and we'll examine a fine piece of 20th century prose. To get the full impact I'll read it aloud for all of you. It is entitled "The Flying Pig." "Dickory, dicory, dare, The pig flew up in air, the man in brown soon brought him down, Dickory, dicory, dare." Brilliant! A flying pig! What a great concept! What could be better! I want all of you to write a 5 page paper discussing your opinion about flying pigs. It will be due next class and may be written in crayon, but only in blue.

Think about this for a second, my scholars, and consider your own reality. Anything anyone thinks may simply be imaginary. OK? Listen to this. You may only think you're listening to me. Right now you could be dreaming! Maybe every one is hallucinating right now! That's just something for you to think about in the dining hall tonight while you're eating your semi-boneless spaghetti and meatballs.

How about we challenge reality once more? Have you ever heard of a guy by the name of Baruch Spinoza? No one has. All right, well, he thought of a philosophical premise known as "Vitalism." It is the belief that reality is all one substance, including God and nature. Everything that exists is part of this one substance, which is capable of thought. Let me give you an example of this. Just try to follow this for a minute. Let's say that you're always losing things or breaking them. Spinoza believed that the old painting you received from grandfather on your wall was so upset, that it wanted to end its existence, so it jumped off your wall as you walked into the room! Is this too far out? Maybe so. Maybe not. You decide. Is this too absurd for you? What do you think Beckett would say about all of this?

I'd like to take some time now and go back a little when I mentioned Dadism and Surrealism in art. It seems that the same feeling of pessimism and despair links it to the absurdity that Beckett wanted to put across in his plays. I can see an odd connection to what these visual artists were doing at that time. It is an example of anti-art, a philosophy of negation.

You might remember Marcel Duchamp. He had a tendency to use nonsensical word repetition. I think a fun example of his work is when he penciled a mustache and beard on the painting of The Mona Lisa. I guess it just had to be done! I'm not sure if he defaced her, or added to her image?!

Another one of these artists from this period, a guy called Arp, said that "Dada is, like nature, without meaning." It was a senseless and useless vision of life itself that these artists were creating. The artist Schwitters made objects in his work "Ambleside" absurd that freed him from average everyday qualities.

Taking absurdity even a step further, or perhaps to its limit, the artist Baader shouted at worshippers in The Berlin Cathedral that "Christ is a sausage!" Quite an eccentric fellow, indeed, wouldn't you say?!

Let's talk a little about Surrealism now, before the end of class today. Surrealism can be thought of as the absence of any control of the process of reasoning. This, of course, sounds very familiar to Beckett's writing. A good example of this type of thinking is a work called "Man in a Bowler Hat" by the Belgian Rene Magritte. He played with the fundamentals of visual absurdity. In his depiction, a white bird flies directly in front of a man's face. He is sharply dressed in a shirt, hat, and tie. It leaves the onlooker with a sense of puzzlement and ambiguity.

I have to tell you all, I'm a very busy man. I have to go home now and paint my car with a roller. Later tonight I'll grade your papers with my sunglasses on. I'll have to go to a Flat Earth Society meeting tomorrow afternoon. Everyone knows that the earth isn't round! Anyone interested can attend. If you do, I'll give you an "A" for taking part. I don't know if I ever told you this, but I am actually an alien in disguise from a far off planet. I've arrived here to help teach young Homo sapiens how to live in peace and achieve wisdom through education. Any questions? I think that's enough for today. Keep hitting the books, folks! See you next time...



The Tortoise and the Hare — What they Didn't Tell You

The way they told it was a lie. It was a conspiracy, a cover up. I won the race. I'm the hare. Let me explain and back up a bit.

The tortoise and I were neighbors. We lived in a small town. It was a comfortable place, with a good economy. Everyone seemed to blend in. All except for a particular tortoise family, which resided here. This family was slow at everything they did. They were slow at walking, slow at talking, slow at eating, you name it! It was so pathetic! Why couldn't they act like everyone else?!

Of course, you know I'm part of the rabbit species, and thus a part of a superior evolutionary branch of animals. I am quick-witted, well coordinated, and also fast when it comes to locomotion. I have long hind legs specially adapted for leaping and beating turtles. I'm part of the esteemed Leporidae family. I have long ears and a keen sense of smell. So, you see, I could only be described as number one, here or anywhere.

Anyway, we had a race, but there's other stuff to tell you about before I get to the race and the tortoise's fate.

I must tell you, I have a lot of children, because rabbits normally do. I run this town and I am the greatest mayor ever. No one can beat me at anything. My name is Henry. The tortoise's name was Ted. He had two children. One named Ted jr., and the other named Tommy. They were as equally incompetent as their father. They went to school with my children. They were bad students, and slow just like Ted. Ted's kids were unpopular at school, and nearly everyone thought Ted Sr. was a jerk, too.

Well, let me tell you a little more about this fool known as Ted, something that wasn't told in the other version of the fable about us. First of all, he was a chain smoker. He would smoke at least two or three packs a day. He was fat, hardly fit inside his shell, and never exercised. He liked to eat fried lettuce and bacon sandwiches with butter for lunch everyday. He liked to drink, was considered an alcoholic, finishing a six pack of beer every night all by himself. He was a slow learner, and dropped out of high school. Ted had poor vision, and wore thick glasses. He was a bus driver.

Anyway, that's the real story about Ted that you haven't heard. They really put me down in the other translation, how he won that race, as if I can't compete with a lethargic, incompetent tortoise?!

They also didn't include in the other version of the story that I was a champion runner in college. I always made the Dean's list, and graduated with honors. I don't eat junk food like Ted did. I stay in shape, am in my prime, and I eat a lot of carrots and vegetables.

I didn't like Ted at all. He needed to be put in his place. He didn't even deserve to be in this town. The gene pool could only get worse and we can't afford this to happen. I lived here my whole life, with this inadequate guy Ted, and only the fittest shall survive, so that means that Ted should be out of the game.

It was awhile after graduating from college when I said to him one sunny day: "I challenge you to a race." Believe it or not, Ted wanted to race me! You'll see later. I'm sure by now you're thinking, why would Ted want to race against me?! He honestly doesn't have a chance at beating me. I gave him the option to back out of it, though.

I was doing some shopping at the local grocery store when I ran into Ted getting out of his old, beat up, puke green car. The car looked like it was going to fall apart. It had no muffler. The tailpipe was hanging off, nearly on the ground, not to mention an ugly patch of rust all over the left side of his car.

"Hey Ted," I yelled to him. "Listen, I have a deal for you. I will save you the embarrassment of losing the race to me if you publicly announce in the town's newspaper that I, Henry Hare, am and will always be the greatest runner in the world." I set up the race with Ted so there would be no question in anyone's mind about my ability to win in an athletic competition against any opponent.

To my surprise he said in his slow, dull, manner, "ER.. UM.. UH.. NO.. HENRY.. I.. WILL.. CHALLENGE.. YOU"..(cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze, wheeze.)

"OK," I said, "Have it your way!" And so the race was set up for the next Friday.

Later that week, before the big day of the race, I was shocked to hear from my friend Peter the pig, that Ted was actually training for the event with his coach, Freddy Frog.

I thought to myself that nothing would help him beat me now. Why won't he just give up and save himself all this trouble and humiliation?!

It was just a couple of days before the race, when I thought I would spy on Ted and Freddy while they trained outside. I hid behind a big tree and listened. I overheard Freddy say to Ted, "Too bad you didn't have my legs, then you could hop really fast and beat Henry."

"ER.. UM.. UH.. YEAH.. FREDDY.. I'LL.. TRY.. TO.. DO.. SOME.. MORE.. PUSH-UPS.. (cough, cough, wheeze).. THEN.. I'LL.. TRY ..SOME.. MORE.. SIT-UPS.. I.. KNOW.. I.. CAN.. BEAT HIM ..FREDDY.."(wheeze, wheeze.)

Well, now it was just about time for the big race. I was so cool, and showed up in my brand new black, BMW convertible, with a pair of ray ban sunglasses and wearing my "Hare Jordan" sneakers. I'm sure I impressed all of the townsfolk lined up on the side of the track, no doubt.

I got out of my car and looked over my shoulder and saw that Ted was pulling up, and getting out of his green jalopy, and I said to him: "Ready to race?--- You're drunk!, and what's that?, and a cigarette in your mouth? Now that will help you win the race!? Ha, Ha. What a loser! Even the townsfolk are pointing and laughing at you! You're a joke!"

So we lined up on the mark. The course was set for one mile. The gun fired --- BANG!!! --- And we were off! I just walked slow and took my sweet time. After only a minute or so, Ted was having trouble breathing.

"Don't you wish you put that statement in the newspaper, now, while you were ahead, you staggering, no good for nothing lush!" I said.

Well, a long story short, I'd say not even a tenth of a mile into the race, Ted could not bear it any longer. After plodding along as fast as he could, he finally died of a heart attack.

So, you see the story they originally told about us was gunk. I was the true winner, and the tortoise most certainly did not beat the hare in this race.

Well, after the glorious race happened, Ted of course was gone, and I achieved my goal. I was glad he wasn't around anymore, it was definitely better for everyone in town. I felt no remorse. We had the race fair and square. I didn't cheat, and won it honestly. I didn't kill Ted, the race did.

Ted had a basic funeral and was buried. His gravestone wasn't fancy. He was placed in an old cemetery on the outskirts of town. I'm sure no one would really ever visit it anyway, except perhaps his family or maybe his only friend, Freddy. The site was simple just like Ted was. I guess it suits him to end in this way.

My kids naturally taunted Ted jr. and Tommy after their father lost the race, and his life. Maybe someday there will be a race between one of my kids and Ted jr. or Tommy, but I know the outcome would be the same. I wonder if his kids would be brave enough, or silly enough, to try and beat my offspring maybe sometime in the future. What a concept, eh?

I was told that Ted jr. and Tommy were embarrassed about their father's attempt. I have no respect for that turtle family. They're all a pitiful case, really. When my kids throw rocks at them on the way home from school, all they do is hide in their shells, scared and terrified. What cowards they are!

Victory is sweet! It only reinforces the feeling of success for my family and me! What better way to show the world of a hare's conquest and prowess! I deserve all attention and praise from my town. My next generation will be as strong and have as much confidence as I have this very day. This, my friend is no lie!



The Extra Non Secular

Coexist

We only have time,
It's a cosmic roulette,
Don't squash the Earth,
If you haven't lived there yet!

A candidate of life,
From the success of the sun,
Playing the spiritual sport,
He made everyone.

It's grand creation,
Neo Cortex psychology,
Into a path,
For human victory.

Believe, have faith,
Try to find grace,
Donate your life,
To advance His place.

Coexist and enlist!
Go ahead and make the twist!

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All Good Is From God

Ask and you'll receive,
And then it is Godspeed,
Jesus performed miracles,
Born of the Virgin Mary.

He fed thousands,
It's what the people saw,
Having a human experience,
But without a single flaw.

He was a carpenter,
And a prophet,
Spelling truth,
With His blessed alphabet.

Be more and more like Christ,
He made us free,
The Holy Spirit,
Is within you and me.

All good is from God,
Draw closer to Him,
Share the good news,
And leave all the sin.

----------------------------------------

A Rock of Safety

God is always there,
Some refuse to hear,
Believe and tell others,
All about His zeal.

The leper said thank you,
And so do I,
Now the narrow door of peace,
Has opened wide.

Love others,
Love your enemies,
And a plentiful harvest,
Will be guaranteed.

In a manger of golden straw,
He's the good Sheppard,
He died for us all.

A rock of safety,
With His blessings,
I can act more bravely.

------------------------------------------

Show Our Faith

Living free!
It's how it should be,
Beside the lake,
With spirituality.

Meditate on peace,
Love and more,
He will listen,
And open the door.

I have a name,
To match my face,
I stand proud,
With God's good grace.

So it's another year!
Another month!
Another week!
Another day!
Another time!
For us to pray!

Let's show our faith!
Let's cooperate!
Let's coexist!
Let's celebrate!

---------------------------------------

Home Sick for Heaven

Immortality!
It's the forever gift,
When we're done on earth,
We go and take a lift.

A deeper life,
The fullness of our deity,
He is known as
God Almighty!

The words of Christ,
Are written in red,
Get on the Holy chariot,
Ride with the thoroughbred.

Go on your voyage!
Let good things transpire!
Listen to the Angelic choir!

We have conquest!
We have conviction!
Home sick for Heaven!
Homesick for Heaven!

-------------------------------------

Through Godliness

An ambassador,
Known as Saint Stephen,
His life was a golden beacon.

Faith, peace, and kindness,
Without these things,
We get blinded.

The gospel,
So relevant and so fresh,
Accepting Christ,
Is always the best.

Put magic on the tape,
to steal the show,
Be on an odyssey of self-control.

Here I am,
I am listening,
Through Godliness,
My life's advancing.

 

Copyright©1999-2017 Steve Bujanow, Neocortex. All Rights Reserved.

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