Monday, August 29, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever Part IX Coming Full Circle

I promised I would not write anything about Antigua because the town should be experienced. And I will only share one photo of the Ex-Convento.
Tranquility defined

I will design a house for myself and that house may or may not be built but I will have the plans. And part of my research into this dream house is seeing interior open courtyards are designed. There are actually Hacienda or "Spanish Courtyard" blueprints online for free...
too complicated

but if I want to see exactly how the monks lived in 1700 then one needs to walk where they walked. The number of Exconventos I've visited in my quest for the perfect representation of Spanish Colonial Spiritual Retreat Simplicity could fill a book. There was one in Huaqechula...and one in Tochimilco that
Huge Tochimilco Courtyard. Pretty Ridiculously pretty.

 I had completely forgotten about and a few in Leon and an epic Spanish Courtyard in Granada. Epic!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Soul Day

Nothing beats Otis on a Sunday.

Vansanity Part II

Is there ever a time when the van is completely trouble free? No, and that is why I am comfortable with its limits. I know what it can and can not do and I know when it is too far from a friendly parts store. It communicates to me. I thought I had tackled the major problems with the stalling and erratic idle that turned out to be related to the ignition condenser/capacitor and not at all related to the fuel. For once, the fuel was fine. I wonder if the problems I had back in Guatemala were not related to the condenser and points but I remember seeing the empty fuel filter and identifying that as a fuel delivery problem. I don't know. It's one mystery after another until I can't keep them all straight.

Well, I decided to go to a nearby town where they sacrifice chickens to cure problems and I was going to ask them to kill a chicken to ward off evil gas spirits. That makes sense. Kill a few chickens to protect the van. And I drove up there to Chamula and the van really drove like a dream, like a youth in Spring. The transmission was shifting perfectly. The idle was perfect. The acceleration was smooth, the timing sounded perfect. I gave myself a metaphoric pat on the back for solving yet another puzzle. But my smug self satisfaction was soon replaced by grief and agony...

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Where to begin? This week proves I'm not on vacation. I'm not productive in a socially acceptable sense, but I'm also not unproductive. The side view mirror saga came to a head and required I replace it with a cheap plastic piece of crap from Autozone. At least this one does not rattle and vibrate so bad I can't look at it. And the old one was so big that when I wanted to see if any vehicles were coming from the left I had to lean forward to look around the mirror. It was a hazard. This one is low enough that I can actually see to my left.
Side View Mirror

Then I decided to use some metallic pearl leather paint to put a Jim Morrison quote on my boots. I don't know why. I was sober. I have no excuse. Jim Morrison once asked, "Where is your will to be weird?" And I guess my answer is my side zip cowboy boots with these custom tooled concho boot straps and a tribute to Jim.

Jim Morrison Lives

Leather crafts keep me busy, so I bought a sheep skin rug and made an urnrelated coin purse....

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever Part VIII Capital Bound

I read a travel passage from Thomas Wolfe after watching the biopic movie Genius (2016). Wolfe is one of my favorite writers and for at least a month in the '90s I thought if I could memorize the dictionary and drink heavily and live in a Cleveland slum or a Baltimore public housing then I would type a novel capturing my tortured artist soul and thus exact my revenge on the many N.Y. editors who rejected my manuscripts. Fuck them! I had the fire, like Wolfe, and merely needed the right combination of events to ignite the words that hammered for release from my schizophrenic brain. I even read a dramatic passage about growing up from The Web and the Rock to 9 year old campers when I was a counselor one summer. Man, I was going to throttle them with impressive imagery and the magnificence of life! Well, the recent movie is another topic, but it led me to read some of a piece of travel writing Wolfe published back in 1937. It was about his trip through Germany and I was curious how he tackled the nuts and bolts of travel writing. Maybe I could learn some tricks. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Email to a Friend Concerning David Lynch

"Hola, It seems Mulholland Drive was voted the best movie of the last 16 years by critics. Not just in the top 100, but the actual #1 best movie for critics. And I remember that movie chiefly because you and I watched it during a 'Summer of Movie Rentals' in Arcata. Maybe 2001 or 2002? I forget. It was the summer I was crippled by the spine infection and I fell down on the bridge and you carried me to get donuts downtown. And I taught you how to play Black Boys on Mopeds by writing out the rhythm in chalk on the sidewalk. 15 year ago! But I like David Lynch and we watched and appreciated Lost Highway...but this movie really didn't work for me and I remember you made a face like you just eaten a shit sandwich and said, "What the fuck?"  

Maybe we made the mistake of watching it among lots of other generic mainstream movies. Remember I did a Footloose, Flashdance and Xanadu marathon and the guy at the rental store did a double-take when I returned them? I know that would influence my perception because Mulholland is a mess, but it is a David Lynch mess, which is better than Tarantino on his best day, and Lynch really jumped through a lot of hoops to make something. So I was in Guatemala and Mulholland came on the television and I watched most of it and I still did not like it. It was in Spanish but I got the general idea. Visually it is pretty and there are some attractive scenes that are artsy in their own right, but the entirety still seemed like a cut and paste. And we later learned it was indeed a cut and paste of rescued footage from a cancelled television series. So, I know Lynch had to paste these scenes together and I know some of the scenes don't actually contribute anything to the plot. Like the lesbian make-out scene. What the fuck? It's like Lynch thought he could not have these two pretty women together without asking them to kiss, even if it makes no sense. It's a 'statement' about pornography, but it's also Lynch simply being pornographic in a slightly more tasteful way than Larry Flynt. Is there a big difference?  Sure, the cameras Lynch used are more expensive than the ones on the Barely Legal Cheerleaders set. It is still two women kissing and showing some nipple for no reason other than sex sells. But Lynch gets applause because he's astute enough to mock gratuitous nipple shots? Uh, I think that's simply low-hanging fruit...pardon the pun. He's no artist because he mocks nipple shots and lipstick lesbian fetish. It's not even a good tease.

It's like if I write a long essay and a paragraph is nice, but doesn't work at all in the essay, so I take the paragraph and throw it into another essay full of paragraphs that don't add up. does that make me a genius? I guess if each paragraph is pretty spectacular then people will try to imagine there is some bigger message, but really it was all cut and pasted and I fooled them, like a drunk Bob Dylan. It's like the critics fooled themselves into thinking they needed to do more work than David Lynch to invent a plot for his movie. I guess that's true; a movie with no independent value will make the audience work hard to find value, and Mulholland wins the top spot in movies with little independent value, but are open to interpretation. Who would go through so much trouble to get some pretty women to kiss one another without a bigger motive? Add some Oscar Hammerstein lip-sync and it's genius...??

I accept that the movie is pretty and the scenes are watchable, but the mystery is not intentional, rather it is a result of having all these unrelated scenes to paste together. The diner scene, the man in the wheel chair, the cowboy at the corral, the box, the lip-sync concert, the movie the director is trying to make...none of it is intentional and none of it adds up, nor should it. The only thing is the blonde who has gone crazy and thinks she is an innocent newcomer to Hollywood but is actually a washed up junkie dying in her own bed and hallucinating that she meets a brunette with amnesia. I get that part (especially since it accurately predicted my future in L.A.), but what the hell does everything else have to do with it? nothing. it's all pasted from footage for the television show and so unrelated that movie snobs think they are superior if they invent a connection. But it's voted the best movie since 2000? I don't get it. Am I slipping? Am I becoming too old to see quality in movies? please advise."

I later received this response:

"I need to watch it again, but I remember it being my least favorite Lynch movie. 
I have tiny frogs in a glass box. 
I filled an aquarium with plants and rocks and water, J put fire bellied toads in.  
The toads fuck and sing all day long.  It's really kind of horrible. The female frog tries her hardest to get away.  She wriggles and swims close to rocks to try to scrape him off her back. I thought we had all males, and that the males were raping each other. But one day we came home and I saw tadpoles swimming around.  The internet told us to separate the adults from the babies because they eat their young, so we are breeding cannibalistic infanticide rapists.  
The tiny frogs are really cute.  We have two babies. They are smaller than my pinky nail. 
I wonder when they will start raping each other. Then we will have cannibalistic Infanticide incestuous rapists."  
My Response:
"Sounds like a David Lynch plot."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever Part VII Lost and Sick

San Juan Del Sur is sometimes called the Hawaii of Nicaragua and Rio Dulce felt like the Hawaii of Guatemala. I don't know where these families with cars come from but the area was very popular. Maybe they drive from Livingston. I sincerely don't know where so many upper class Guatemalans were hiding. Maybe Puerto Barrios. The bridge over the river from Fronteras to El Relleno had big signs prohibiting parking on the bridge and these signs were ignored by absolutely everyone until it became a congested, one lane bridge.

Park Anywhere you want!
Tourist buses stopped on the bridge, taxis, cars, motorcycles. Food carts stopped to sell refreshments to people taking selfies while traffic honked to clear the way. The bridge, I suspect, is one of Guatemala's engineering marvels. In all my travels I don't remember ever crossing another bridge and maybe this is because I mostly lived in the southern Earthquake-prone region where a bridge would not last even long enough to be completed. But Rio Dulce was not close to the Subduction zone in the Pacific to be threatened by shifting plate tectonics so it survived and was probably the tallest man-made structure outside of the capital city. To my eyes, it was nothing special and I have no photos of it, but Guatemalan tourists drove long distances to park next to a no parking sign and take a picture of themselves with the river in the background.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Century of Spin

Battle of the Somme: 100 years ago.
Reading the news today is like a test to see how much frivolous bullshit one can tolerate. CNN has adopted a habit of posting random, anonymous Twitter comments instead of interviewing real people on the street. We all know how Twitter brings out the best in us. That allows CNN to cherry pick the most infantile or dramatic or clever or literary quote to fit their rotten article. It got me thinking, "How would these illiterate fuckwad journalists who graduated from some diploma-mill like Brown write about events from 100 years ago?" I really am curious how someone who scours Twitter for snarky remarks about totally irrelevant events in 2016 would write about almost identical international news a century ago. 

Now, the Battle of the Somme resulted in 1,000,000 casualties over 4 months (yes, one million) so it's pretty high on the list of insane human events, but are events of 2016 much different? I think not. The 1916 Summer Olympics were scheduled (by some idiot) to be held in Berlin so they were cancelled because of an active war zone. Today, Rio, Brazil was deemed safe enough to hold the Olympics but Russia is militarizing allies for a land grab, Syria is in a Civil War, refugees are fleeing Africa by inflatable raft to countries that immediately criminalize their religion, America has been occupying oil production territory in Iraq and Yemen while ignoring blatant civil rights problems in distant barbarian cities such as Chicago and obviously dire flooding in other foreign lands not protected by the Constitution, such as Louisiana, while paying some $2 Billion to Iran for an arms deal that was intended to keep the despotic Shah in power back in 1979, but never happened because he was overthrown, but Iran had already paid for the arms so even though the 'buyer' from 1979 died a year later the U.S., for some reason, feels obligated to pay this money back, with interest, to a completely different terror supporting band of lunatics who now claim it is owed to them, the same people who tried to kill the original buyer whose goal was to squash the rebellion led by the parents of the people now demanding the money back. Makes sense. In 1916 a campaign was building to end alcohol production because it was an obvious health scourge and in 2016 there are more Heroin overdoses than births* But Heroin is already illegal because that law empowers municipalities to attempt to profit from suicidal, broke, drug junkies. Pretty smart!

Here is a list of actual events from 1916 - combined with generic spin from a modern day fuckwad journalist a'la CNN or Breitbart.

  • Battle of Verdun is fought - A Pop singer in N.Y. complains that her summer house in Belrupt-en-Verdunois has been destroyed. Demands restitution.
  • Mexican Rebel Pancho Villa attacks town in New Mexico - Woodrow Wilson claims this is proof that we need to build a wall between America and Mexico.
  • Easter Rebellion in Ireland put down by British troops. - 10 Irishwomen in Boston refuse to wash any clothes manufactured in Britain for a week. They are denounced as Atheists. User #RemembertheMaine@'98 comments on Twitter "A Chink can wash clothes as good as any potato famine Cat-lick whore."
  • Emma Goldman is arrested for lecturing on birth control in the United States. - Goldman is uniformly considered a slut but a small group defend her. She later accepts lucrative offers to pose nude.
  • Voyage of the James Caird: an open boat journey from Elephant Island in the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean (800 nautical miles (1,500 km; 920 mi)) undertaken by Sir Ernest Shackleton and five companions to obtain rescue for the main body of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition following the loss of its ship Endurance - Lurid rumors of homosexual orgies plague expedition. Financial sponsors flee.
  • United States Marines invade the Dominican Republic - Florida rejoices as Banana prices plummet!
  • U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signs a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America - Conservative pundits say this demonstrates failure of American family to perform first duty of preparing sons for war.
  • In San Francisco, a bomb explodes on Market Street during a Preparedness Day parade, killing 10 injuring 40. (Warren Billings and Tom Mooney are later wrongly convicted of it) - Billings and Mooney were identified by web sleuths who later delete their accounts.
  • U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signs legislation creating the National Park Service - Liberal Pundits announce this will lead to high price of admission at previously free parks. 
  •  Mary, a circus elephant, is hanged in the town of Erwin, Tennessee for killing her handler, Walter "Red" Eldridge - "Pachyderm Lives Matter" activists boycott Tennessee. #JusticeforMary
  • Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth control clinic - Men nationwide breath a sigh of relief in private but denounce whorish behavior in public.
  • The first 40-hour work week officially begins in the Endicott-Johnson factories of Western New York - 11-year old Derek "Nine-finger" Sullivan says he prefers the new hours. "It's like working half-time," says a smiling Sullivan from behind his bench.

I couldn't resist an insulting modern day meme.

*none of this is fact-checked

Friday, August 19, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever Part VI.5 Sweet River

I can't leave this chapter of log describing my circumnavigation of Guatemala via local bus without some mention of Santa Elena, Flores, La Isla De Flores, Tikal, and my experience there. What kind of selfish travel writer would I be if I only analyzed bedroom curtains?

The main point I will make is that Tikal and Flores are not the same place. People I met seemed to use Flores and Tikal interchangeably, but they are not very close to one another. If one wishes to visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal then the city of Flores is the natural hub for travel, also a hub for travel to Belize and other historic destinations in Northern Guatemala as well as destinations to the south. There is an airport but I prefer bus. Within the Tikal zone there is a hotel as well as a campground. But the ruins are closed after 6pm except for guided night tours. So, even if a person hitchhiked to Tikal in the evening after the last bus departs for Flores it's possible to camp in the park or rent a room, but don't take my word for it if you know what's good for you. I'm irresponsible and barely care about my own well-being so do you really think I care if you must sleep in an active jaguar den because you followed my advice? I'm sure these hotel rooms are expensive, but probably nice too, if they do exist.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever: Part VI Ruined

The owner of the Hospedaje in Sayache gave me advice that I should rent a room in Santa Elena or Flores because the hotels near Tikal, the Maya temple site, were expensive. This was good advice because I didn't really know where I was going. I knew I wanted to visit Tikal but was not sure if Tikal and Flores are the same town. I knew they were in the same general area but did that mean they were close enough to sleep in one and visit the other? Well, the advice to rent a room in Santa Elena was wise because Tikal and Santa Elena are about 1 hour apart and while buses go between them regularly I only saw one or two premium hotels closer to Tikal near the lake, and the budget hotels/hostels and hospedajes were all back in Santa Elena.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Eric Hoffer

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

I had an experience right out of Glass Bead Game when I was in Guatemala. I was discussing life and history with a retired man who had a colorful past and it was very similar to Knetch's discussion with the elderly historian in the monastery where he is sent for his first assignment after graduating from the academy. In his casual conversations with the historian leads them to the realization that they both had studied a little known philosopher named Johann Albrecht Bengel from hundreds of years earlier (Glass Bead Game takes place in the far future). Bengel exists, along with some of the other historical figures mentioned in the book, but some are invented to imply time has passed. Well, in my conversations with the retired man in Guatemala he mentioned making a pilgrimage to San Francisco not to smoke pot and listen to music, but to seek the counsel of a "longshoreman philosopher" who lived there in the '60s. This could only be Eric Hoffer, whom I had read about randomly in my attempts to justify labor as a means to self-enlightenment. I had not read much of what Hoffer wrote, preferring to romanticize a laboring philosopher, content with his day's work and content to write some witty aphorism on a park bench. The ideal was enough to sustain me and inspire me. Hoffer was not of the Stalinist camp of labor, represented by the horse Boxer in Orwell's Animal Farm with the quote "I will work harder." No, Hoffer reached the conclusion that work was hard enough, labor was required from someone, and he would give his fair share. He was not content with intellectualism as an end in itself, like Dr Zhivago who scoffed at the idea of earning his keep with poetry. Hoffer may have found that reflecting on the act of work was his idea of rest. One of his many quotes says, "It is not work that makes us tired, but work left undone." and even if you can contradict it, one must agree it is a witty statement. My favorite quote is, "Why are Jews expected to be the only Christians?" in reference to refugees evicted from Israel and critics asking Israel, but not countless other Christian nations, to do the Christian thing and make room for the refugees. It's witty, even if one can contradict or pick it apart because it not only questions religion, by also contradictory principles and history and the laughable idea that a Christian ideal would be imposed on the very religion that historically executed Christ. It's funny if you examine it, but the idea is quite clever and important and still relevant today decades after Hoffer wrote it.

Well, I said, "That's Eric Hoffer." and thus closed the circle set up in The Glass Bead Game. My conversation companion was never able to meet Hoffer at the time and way led on to way. Hoffer wrote, "People who bite the hand that feeds them usually kiss the boot the kicks them." He also wrote "Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves." And this quote makes me wonder if we are not also on the same page with the word "just" which is usually substituted for the word "merely" but doesn't mean the same thing. Readers will notice I use merely or simply instead of just, unless I am rushed or sloppy, and a study could be done of how Hoffer avoids that insidious word.

Hoffer was an observant and wise man. His work does fall into the realm of punditry or cultural analysis, and his aphorisms toe the line with a broad brush, but his experience earns him a position of respect. He had done the hard work of examining the world from all corners and his experience, not his political bias, served as the source of his opinion. Jack London wrote Martin Eden, which I am still trying to adapt into a screenplay, and that book also studies the dichotomy between labor and philosophy. This theme is also covered in a short story by Jack London that I can not track down right now but it involved a man who lived a dual life as a street fighting socialist and a genteel white collar professor. A literary buff has told me this story is called "South of the Slot". This story had a profound effect on me, more than even the London stories that led me to The Yukon Territory in search of gold. The romance of entering a socially antagonistic culture and learning to fit in and then returning to the bourgeois society and lording your superiority over the ignorant pale pundits appealed to me. I was unaware of the larger message London suggests about this transformation, that one's superiority would merely be used to ostracize and alienate one further, and one's bourgeois roots would always prevent inclusion in the working class society, so that one would be alienated completely from both the north and south of "The Slot", but that wisdom would come later, like Hoffer's, won the hard way.

Jack London and Eric Hoffer. Check them out in this time of idiot pundits and soft pale politicians with toothy lies and bloated egos. 

Hoffer was not a scientist and did not want to be. He wanted to reason out social puzzles while hauling rope and moving cargo and that left no time for science. He is a rhetorician and begins his book True Believer with a humble quote from Montaigne, "All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed."
Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
Read more at:

Friday, August 12, 2016


Those are real bricks
"If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chicken Bus Fever: Part V: North

The distances I covered in Guatemala are not remarkable. The whole country is slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee. Would anyone applaud if I said I took a bus across The Volunteer State? No, but crossing Guatemala by public mini-bus is a different matter. As I said, the distance from Huehuetenango is only 110 miles, but it required 10 hours of torturous, violent driving in a little mini-van with 17 people and a goat. I already explained that the only way to average 11 miles an hour over 10 hours is to reduce speed to 1 mph through the speed bumps and pot hole and land slide areas and then floor the accelerator to reach the next pot hole area at maximum velocity. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Losing Bobby

It's a sad day, but the #1 post I ever made involved Bobby Peru from David Lynch's movie Wild at Heart is now gone. I took a screen capture of Bobby throttling Peanut (Laura Dern). It was frivolous at the time, the scene had so much character and Bobby is who I consider is the most evil villain in cinema. And that silly screen capture became the single biggest reason anyone ever came to this self-absorbed pity fest. I took it down once before because I didn't think it sent the right message about my blog. Then I put it back up again because I thought it was sort of clever. Then I made a .gif animation of Bobby and that became popular too. I didn't even care that this is blatant copyright infringement.

Well, I spent some time in Guatemala with a television and the violence against women or women with guns, or women being slapped or women being raped or killed or chased was completely out of control. It was actually like a scene from Wild at Heart where every radio station is news about a beheading or some ghastly tragedy and Peanut goes crazy and then Sailor finds a rock station and they dance in the desert. Every channel I turned on involved a woman being slapped or assaulted or else a woman cop dressed in skin tight slacks and 2 inch heels and a huge perm of hair gunning someone down in cold blood. It simply became too much. Maybe I am sensitive again to the insane amount of violence on television and y'all will think this is being prudish. But I saw that the Bobby Peru photo was still getting traffic and I decided the only way to purge it would be to delete the whole post and any post I had of Bobby menacing poor Peanut. I love that movie, and I love Lynch and the characters are not generic and the violence is not frivolous; it is a smart film, violence is not glorified or used gratuitously in it, but I can't leave that photo up anymore. It makes no difference because surely someone copied it off my page and it will be out there beyond my control along with a million other screen captures, or someone could recreate it in about two minutes, but I renounce it. I renounce the casual use of violence on television. I boycott all commercial advertisers who encourage such filth. I do not think they should be censored; I believe they should only broadcast movies about beauty and animals. They should choose life. Does violence on television cause violence in real life? Yes, the violence on television IS violence against the viewer but mankind loves to experiment with himself. The rage and distress the viewer feels is violence. Sometimes we want that, but we are now being overdosed. Does that rage and distress translate to acts of violence against people who didn't even watch the television? How can it not? Yes, victims tend to attack others, even those who are not the source of the attack. It's a chain reaction.

Does it matter to my blog? No. It's only a minor detail that I share with you as part of my due diligence. I deleted some other posts that I decided were in bad taste or else the topic was too tasteless to promote. Goodnight, Bobby Peru. You blew your head off after the bank robbery went bad, but that doesn't mean I will worship your evil here. Rot in hell you repulsive monster. I love you, Peanut.

Chicken Bus Fever: Part IV Jungle Love

I don´t actually know what insect attacked my arm in Coban. I was asleep and then woke up and felt an angry itch under my arm. I am not immune to mosquitoes and usually sleep with a mosquito net to avoid the red welts that appear after a mosquito has feasted on my blood. But the infection that followed this insect bite in Coban was like no mosquito bite I can remember and it looked nothing like sample mosquito bites. It looked like makeup for a zombie movie, veins bulging, skin decaying, ragged diseased appearance. I thought I would have my arm amputated but the only ill-effect was itching. Thus began the lowland chapter of my Guatemalan travel.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chick Webb

I understand that when people think of Jazz they think of Charlie Parker or Miles Davis and the Kind of Blue album. Jazz has been linked to that album through flawed propaganda and easy mystique and even I am guilty of combining vastly different eras into one playlist of my music program called "Jazz", but honestly I skip every Miles Davis tune until I get to Chick Webb or Glenn Miller. When I think of Jazz I think of Chick Webb and Count Basie and Duke Ellington and also Bob Wills because these were band leaders and arrangers and sometimes even composers. Charlie Parker and Miles Davis were instrumentalists and sometimes composers of melodies that sound good when stoned on heroin. Big dance bands of the '40s required complete reconstruction of the prim and proper musical considerations of the '20s. Davis and Bird had nothing to do with that. The whole smooth and fusion jazz era was fueled by opiates and an acknowledgement that there was no way to top what Basie and Ellington had done. It's like what happened after the Romantic Era in classical music, composers gave up the sonata form because it had reached a peak with Beethoven and Mozart that no one could ever improve on. They could only pay homage, which is boring, so Stravinsky and Schoenberg experimented. If you've never listened to classical/orchestral music then why would you ever start with Schoenberg, and then conclude 'Classical' music is not for you? Schoenberg is the classical equivalent of Charlie Parker, without the heroin. 

Jazz has a shorter history, but it went through remarkable changes in a short period of time. I watched the Jazz series by Ken Burns and was sort of disappointed Bob Wills didn't get featured, since Wills is the whole reason I went to Texas, and also Wills swung as hard as anyone with a fiddle for dancers who never heard of Ellington. But many key figures are highlighted in the series, like the provincial Webb, who built the New York City swing movement. 

I think people get confused when they hear big band music and believe all the notes were written out like with a symphony, but band music only notates the melody and certain fills, while the music that makes up 3/4 of the recording is improvised at the moment the recording started. The arrangement, when certain instruments play certain notes, is so important and then the musicians had to learn it and in some cases black musicians were expected to be illiterate so they had to memorize the melody and play without written music to appease the ignorant white dancers.

I define Jazz as a type of music where the musicians were expected to improvise to demonstrate their musicianship in the course of playing a melody. If you are curious about Jazz then save Kind of Blue for your suicidal/divorce/junkie period and start with Chick Webb. That will get you in the right direction.

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.