Mark Karan interview - 4/21/01

Article Contributed by gratefulweb | Published on Tuesday, May 1, 2001

The Grateful Web sat down with Mark Karan, guitarist for RatDog, backstage at the Paramount Theater in Denver to talk about the status of the jamband scene, changing demographics at the shows, Weir's insatiable need to be on the road and why Karan knows he is lucky as hell to be getting paid (and laid) to play with Bobby.

GW: Hi, from the Grateful Web, with Aaron on camera, and we're here today with Mark Karan, the lead guitarist of Ratdog, and he's given us a couple of minutes before the Show at the Paramount here in Denver to answer some questions, some have been from our web viewers, some we've just come up with… the door a fan handed you some poetry - -

MK: Yes

GW: ..we were commenting on some of the things that says about what were doing here…

MK: I think it says a lot about the different nature of the scene, from your average Rock n Roll band, not that there's anything wrong with that. As you pointed out before the camera was rolling probably your typical 3rd Eye blind or something isn't going to have a fan coming up offering poetry or artwork or beadwork or interesting or creative along those lines, I'm just recapping what we talked about earlier, just that this whole scene is so… stems from creativity, and stems from communication, and stems from..ah… the joy of the human experience, as opposed to ah, the classic Rock and Roll Band is: Do I get paid? Do I get Laid? It's all-good…

GW: Its seems to be it always comes full circle again, because, almost by not having a business plan the genre you guys are in almost is the business plan…

MK: Well its become that, more in recent years then what it started out as, now there's the whole JamBand scene, I love that, but at the same time kind of humorous you know, given what it came from, it was sort of the anti scene that spawned all of this, there was no…., it was the lack of commercial genre, the lack of a viable commercial outlet for music that was this experimental and exploratory and honest and not concerned with the commercial returns, as much as the experience of actually playing the music and the experience of the audience hearing it, and the interactive experience of the musicians and the audience. I mean you could definitely could tell the difference show to show, to some degree based on where we're playing -

GW: Is there a geographically different vibe?

MK: I think there is a geographic vibe to some degree, but that's not what I'm not talking about that as much as type of venue. A venue that has assigned seats and is "nice", generally will elicit a more polite, maybe cerebral set out of us. Part of that is also the audience I think feels a little bit more staid, and a little bit more intimidated in a setting like that

Whereas we played someplace like... the place we played in St. Louis or the place we played in Birmingham Alabama, which were essentially glorified beer halls and everybody's (slaps) right in your face and it's a very visceral experience, its a very alive…. I mean you could feel the audience's energy and they could feel ours and its very animated, and it makes us raises the bar, it makes us we do more exciting things in venues like that

GW: Do you think the live experience is going to become even more of a commodity with the internet and with music being so accessible, it becomes well 'we've got to see this band live because…'

MK: That's a tough, I don't know, I hadn't really thought about that in those terms. I think that in the mainstream live music is becoming less and less important. People are more and more used to being able to see it on MTV or VH1, and used to being able to buy a CD, and that's kind of enough. And I think a lot of times what happens is people go to live shows in a more mainstream setting, is they'll spend $75 or $100 bucks for these awesome tickets for Ricky Martin or whatever, and what their going to get is, the record, the CD, perfectly executed. There's no risks, there's no improvisation, there's no experimentation, there are none of the things that to me make live music special. So I think that what's going on now is the subculture, that's always embraced live music, is just exploding because I think there's a lot of people out there that are really getting sick of being forced fed Britney Spears or Ch risty Aguilera, or whatever, I mean not to single those two woman out, because I mean there doing what there doing, I have nothing against them as long as somebody's enjoying it its all good with me—

GW: The scripts tight—

MK: The script is definitely tight (laughs).

GW: You talked about the JamBands, do you think that's similar, not the same sound obviously, but maybe to the Jazz Fusion of the '70's…Jeff Lorber…..

MK: I don't know if I'd go to the '70's and the Jazz Fusion scene as much, although in some ways yeah, but that was very, to me that always felt like a very chops orientated music scene, it was experimental which was cool, it was pushing the envelope, which was cool, but it was also an awful lot about what your prowess was as a musician. How great you were. How fast you could play. How many outside scales do you know. And as a result a lot of that '70's fusion, to me, and of course this is my opinion, to me a lot of that stuff winds up sounding like somebody that's in music school practicing their scales.

GW: I think a better question is, we were talking about genre before, is genre heart? You know, you talk about a new genre coming out, is that just basically a musician that has a heart? Or is he singing a genre with heart? Or what establishes a new genre?

MK: Oh God I don't know. I think what establishes a new genre of music is really pretty basic. You know, a scene will start somewhere, whether its in San Francisco in the 60's or wherever you know London or New York in the late '70's with the punk scene , or Seattle for the Grunge thing, or whatever, and for one reason or another I think the particular style or approach, maybe a philosophy gains a certain amount of steam and spreads outward from wherever it originated.

GW: When's the last time we had a genre?

MK: Well the JamBands are the newest recognizable genre. Because what I'm seeing in terms of the whole JamBand thing is, and I'm not sure I like it, I'm seeing a lot of commercial potential arising out of the JamBand thing. I'm seeing Dave Matthews hit just ridiculous levels of financial and commercial success. Phish , god just humungous, what I see out of that a lot of people with business orientated minds , financially driven motivations jumping on the bandwagon and seeing what they can do to sort of do to push the JamBands phenomenon into the mainstream, into the spotlight, to see where they can make the most money. Which in one sense is great, if it keeps the genre somewhat pure, if some of the motivations of the bands remain what it starts out as, which is a real musical motivation and a desire to share great spirits with the audience, to create a place that's safe to experiment and feel free, and expe rience joy without being judged. Those kind of things that started all of this. If that stays intact and it's presented to the mainstream and the mainstream buys it, HOZA! That's awesome, raise the bar for everybody! But what I'm afraid of is some of what happened with say for instance with the grunge scene, for instance. We saw some essential bands come out of that scene. That were just really great, whether you liked the style of music or not, you could tell there was real commitment and real honesty in what they were delivering..

GW: Give me an example…

MK: Like Nirvana or Mud Honey or Sound Garden, the earlier bands that were doing that. Pearl Jam. And then I think most of the ones that were really vital seemed to eventually wind up going away or getting so big that they were no longer vital. They got swallowed up by the monetary mainstream. I think that's what killed Cobain. You know, I think the guy just wanted to play music. For that matter I think that's what killed—I think, not the mainstream so much, but that kind of pressure is what killed Garcia. Again, there's a guy, just a regular guy who wanted to play music. Loved to play music, and found himself in the… had to have been weird position of being deified. Where people would dote on his every word and think he was some sort of a god and he wasn't. He was just a man. A really great man, a wonderful, sweet man, who played some amazing music, but nonetheless just a man. And I think that the pressure of millions of people looking to him for spiritual and social guidance (laughs) , I mean, I wouldn't want the gig.

GW: But you said before how the no business plan becomes decades later an amazing business plan—

MK: Well you kinda said that—

GW: Ok, I'll say it, the free taping.. there are things that , I don't know if it was Garcia, but the Dead do, things you guys allow like taping….

MK: Yeah, I guess the difference there for me is I don't see that as a business plan as much because there's no profit motive there—

GW: But it's smart though.

MK: Well it spreads the music. So in that sense I guess you could look at it as smart, and I certainly don't think its stupid. But I think there's actually purer motivation behind it. I think it does involve getting the music out there. But I don't think its as much about getting the music out there to further the career of whoever the band is, as it is a matter of getting the music out there because whoever that band is, and whoever is going to see that band really loves what's going on musically and wants to share it and spread it around.

GW: Exactly. But not all bands do it.

MK: No, I totally agree, obviously—

GW: So it is one of the things that define kind of what's happening here.

MK: Yeah sure.

GW: We have a lot of people that want us to ask about NAPSTER…

MK: Oh boy, are you sure you want to go there?

GW: We'll go anywhere you want to go—

MK: I'm fine with going there, but I'm pretty vehemently anti-napster, my position on it is pretty straight ahead, I've been asked about it enough times that I think I can give a reasonably focused answer to my feelings about that. Essentially where I come from is that anyone that creates something I feel should have the option to decide what happens to that thing that they created. So musically, if I make a record and there's a site that exists like a Napster, if Napster wants to come to me and give me the choice and say 'we would like to have your music on our site, how do you feel about that? Would you like it to be on our site? If its on our site, we'd like to offer it for free, do you feel the need to be paid for it?, whatever. talk to me—

GW: - communicate—

MK: - communicate, you know, lets get something that works for everybody. And if I determine, yes by all means please take my music and put it out there for free, then download away, it's awesome. But, if as an artist I decide, for whatever my personal reasons are, I feel I want to be paid, or I don't want it on the site at all, I made it, its my art, its my baby. I want something to say about where its going, and when it comes to being paid for something like that, people have been paid for their intellectual properties, their intellectual creations throughout history. Its not something new….in fact the idea of getting it all for free is what's new.

GW: (laughs) What did they call it on the awards ceremony, "shopliftster?"

MK: (laughs) I hadn't heard that but I like that—

GW: The Grammy's?

MK: Here's the thing. Its awesome if there are people out there that can afford too, or just have a philosophical bent towards giving away their art for free..that's great. Personally, I love my music, I love my art, quite genuinely and quite purely, by the same token I make my living at it. If I don't get paid for what I do, I don't pay my rent, I don't make my car payment, I don't keep food on the table just like anybody else. I'm not going to some lawyer's office or some accountant's office and saying "Well what you do should be free, dude." So why is it what I do, what I put my blood, sweat and tears in, my time and my hard work into, and my inspiration and my creativity, why should I be asked to give that away for free? And there's so many different ways to be compensated for something like that, I mean, you could offer.. say for instance a person puts out a CD, you could offer a couple of songs for fr ee downloads total at high bandwidth - -

GW: Would the CD have a pass code or something?—

MK: Say for instance somebody wanted to check out a CD. So you offer them a couple of free downloads at the highest possible bandwidth. And then if they like the CD, go buy it. Or you could offer them the first 45 seconds of every song, but not the whole song. And then if you like them all, go buy it.

GW: So its communication between artist, Napster—

MK: Well it's also the sites, like the Napster and Nuetella, and the people that are using the sites being aware of what they're actually asking for. Being aware of the impact of what they're doing.

GW: Could they dry up musicians?

MK: Hypothetically, on some level, yeah. I don't think they could ever dry up musicians per se, somebody's always gonna play music on some level, but I think what you might wind up with is a lot of—only young people and hobbyists.

GW: Are we lowering the bar again?

MK: I think so, yeah, because who could afford to devote their entire life to something that's not going to make them a living? Your not going to have an 80 some odd year old Segovia, master guitarist of all time, who spent his entire life playing the guitar if he couldn't make a living at it. And I hear arguments saying "Well then take it out live and make your money live." Well that's great, but what happens when you get to be in your 40's, your 50's, your 60's, you've got a wife, you've got children, you have a home, you don't mind touring once in a while but maybe you don't want to live out of a Bus 300 days a year, you know? So you should be forced to give up what you love doing? I don't think so, I don't think that's right. Lets say for instance you're an act more like Steely Dan, or where the Beatles wound up, where the music they were making couldn't be reproduced live, because the art that they mad e was recorded art.

GW: Which is valid right?

MK: It's totally valid. And you cant go out and do that live, so you cant say, 'well go do it live' it's a completely different beast. The idea that music is for everybody and should be free is, I mean, to me, is ridiculous. Things should be free that are offered for free by the person that has them.

GW: Theirs another kind of ice cream in the truck, there's live recordings made, and that stuff is on Napster. Do you think that applies too?

MK: Once again, I think it depends on the artist. There are artists out there that do not support the trading and recording of live shows. That's their call, it's their art. I personally do support it. You know, I work with RatDog, and The Other Ones, and Planet Drum, and all those Bands have the same open taping policy that the Dead always had. I also have my own band, which is called Jemimah Puddleduck.

GW: Yes, they made me say the name 20 times—

MK: (laughs) You get tongue twisted, yeah—unless you've grow up on Beatrix Potter! But we adopted the same policy: Anyone who wants to come tape our shows that's awesome! Trade it? Yes, Please! Don't sell it. Give it away..and don't copy and trade and give away what I make commercially…back to the whole Napster thing, I've heard a lot of the argument "Well the record companies are ripping off the artists anyway , so if we just screw 'em, and take the money away from them by doing all for free..well first of all, yes the big labels can be pretty brutal about the way they do business, and yes the artists and writers can get screwed in the process, absolutely. Nonetheless they are getting some royalties, so if you give it away for free, your cutting off whatever amount they are getting, they're no longer getting anything. Secondly, you take a band like Jemimah Puddleduck that goes and makes a CD, completely ou t of pocket and all of a sudden that CD is mounted on Napster, or Newtella, or whatever other sites come up, all of a sudden that CD is available for free. that means I cant even necessarily get my investment back, much less make a few dollars for what it is I put out there—

GW: Then what's the motivation to make music?

MK: Yeah, and also what's the motivation of me coming out of pocket for several thousand dollars if I'm not gonna see it - at least get it back

GW: Where do you see it going?

MK: I don't really know—

GW: I don't know who has the answer—

MK: I really don't know. I think part of the problem right now is a lot of people that are using Napster are young people that don't have a real solid grasp of what the repercussions are. They have a …I think there's a lot of very idealistic and generalized views of what's going on without having had a whole lot of practical thought put to like.. well how does.. on a nuts and bolts human to human level how is this really going to affect people out there that are making music. I'm hoping that's where it will wind up is that via things like this, via people like us having these conversations, and whether I approve or not, bands like Metallica making a big noise about 'hey, quit ripping us off.' It at very least is gonna broach the subject, its gonna force people to become a little more educated. I like to believe in essential good nature of humans to think they will rise to the occasion. I think the only reas on people are getting screwed right now, that are making music is, no offense, ignorance. I don't think its hostility, or apathy or anything like that. People just aren't thinking about what the real repercussions might be via their actions.

GW: Well you've raised several points I did not think about. And we've also heard the arguments that you've raised and you answered them all pretty well. I think it's important that people understand, just listening to your sound check. I mean you guys are working.. I know this sounds so basic, they come to the show and it's a party, but there's a lot of work going on, and you guys gotta go 900 miles on the road after this -

MK: That right. And we're living out of a bus…of course they are too! (laughs) The kids that are following the tour are rolling out sleeping bags and camp gear, but you know, its what we do, its what we do for a living, its what I do every day of my life on some level.

GW: Can we at least, because we've gotten thank you's, pass on a thank you from many, many browsers, people that listen to your music: they do appreciate you guys, keep it goin—

MK: That's a bi-directional thing- I mean we're nothing without the people that come and see us, the people that exchange with us so, I mean I think sometimes the 'big fellers' that have been doing this for thirty plus years may get a little jaded sometimes, or get a little hard to get to, that's because people have been in their face for thirty plus years…so I think .they still appreciate what's going on it's a little hard to reach them, but somebody like me? I mean I've been struggling all my life as a musician..and three years ago I had the wonderful good fortune to be asked to play with the Other Ones and out of that with RatDog and Planet Drum and the other things that I've done since then, I'm 46 years old . It took me till I was 43 to be able to make a decent living at this and (palms together) thank you (laughs).

GW: And it never ends, I mean even RatDog your sets are going two sets, we're seeing evolution happening -

MK: Absolutely -

GW: Adding some more old tunes.…is that democratic? A Democratic process?

MK: To some degree its Democratic, anyone can bring anything up. Huey Lewis once put it to me, a fully democratic band doesn't actually work. You have to have a chief and some Indians. All the Indians can have all the say that they want, and that's awesome, but somebody's has to have the vision. To be trite, the buck's gotta stop somewhere, and in this instance that's with Bob. It's why I don't sing with this band. You know I front for Jemimah Puddleduck and I love to do that, and truthfully I'd love to do that with RatDog. But Bob and I talked about it, and he feels it's the first time he's really had a musical avenue to fully pursue just what he wants to do and what he wants to hear, and what his musical vision is, facilitated by all us, but still with him as the spearhead, and he does not want to shift the focus and I can respect that.

GW: Its probably nice in a way, comforting to know that when you're here with RatDog you've got a conductor, and your also conducting Puddleduck.

MK: Truthfully, it does make much difference one way or the other to me , I mean if he were to decide tomorrow 'actually you know what I'd really love to throw you a song or two a night' I'd say great, awesome If that never happens I'm totally fine with that. The bottom line is, like anything this is a great situation overall, but like anything it has its downsides, it has it problems here and there and what not. Whenever I'm looking at anything like that, whether its like, 'I wish I could sing', or whether its whatever comes up, the bottom line for me is I look around at what it is that I'm doing, I look around at the guys I'm doing it with, and I look around at the people I'm doing it for…

GW: And it's good?

MK: I'm freakin lucky! (Laughs) You know? Yes this does not suck.

GW: We were saying that driving here, that life is good. We're really happy, we're non profit but we've met so many people were just having fun and I think it goes back to the first things you said, have a little heart at what your doing. Then the stuff seems to spin off…

MK: yep.

GW: And if some Dracula's suck some of that stuff, you'll spin more stuff. Hey I'm happy, I don't want to take too much of your time, I know you guys gotta eat and play.

MK: Any specific questions?

GW: We have letters and peoples emails we should actually…."When was the last time something blew you away?"

MK: Something I was involved in? I mean that's pretty general…

GW: You can go in any direction…

MK: I would say the last time something blew me away was… the last gig we did! (Laughs).

GW: When was that?

MK: The night before last, when we're in Cedar Rapids…we just did some really nice experimental things musically, some really exploratory things. This tour has just been wild, it's been wonderful. Because the two set thing has opened up a whole world in terms of the kind of exploration and risks we can take musically, how much freedom we can give to a song before we have to rein it in and kind of say 'oh yeah that's right were in this song…(laughs).'

GW: And the audience too, 'oh boy we have to come back to the melody'

MK: I mean we've had a couple of shows that were just mind boggling for us, I mean I can't say—

GW: Its it mind boggling when you look around and everyone goes 'was that great or what?'

MK: The ones I'm talking about yeah. There are nights where one person might go 'Oh god that was an amazing show' and somebody else might go 'are you kidding me, that sucked.' For that matter I've heard stories about Garcia that say he never likes to judge Grateful Dead shows, because the shows he thought were brilliant he'd go back and listen to the tape and it blew, and shows where he was having a hard time, so he thought the show sucked, he'd go back and listen to the tape and there were moments of sheer magic ….so I try not to judge on that level, but there's a certain.. when everybody comes off the stage glowing and just buzzing with energy, you know something happened.

GW: Like maybe you were playing in Rome a thousand years ago and you're just -

MK: Yeah, I don't know -

GW: - -Recommunicating...Is it mediation? Do you leave? A little bit?

MK: Yeah..Yeah, I mean I cant speak for everybody else, but I think yeah, you know. I think the real magic with music in general, in improvised music happens when you get out of your own way. People, most of us tend to be pretty cerebral we tend to try to figure things out and what's gonna work and what's not gonna work and if I wanna get there do I need to go here and you know, the beauty and inspiration is when you let go of all of that and allow yourself to make glaring ugly mistakes, so that you have the freedom to go somewhere really really interesting that maybe you don't go..I don't want to get into a whole spiritual, metaphysical thing, but I definitely believe the most wonderful stuff happens when the energy of the universe, god, whatever you choose to believe in, is channeled through you because you get the hell out of the way. You're not thinking about it, your not planning it your not plotting i t, it's coming through you and your body, your being is executing it—

GW: Do you sometimes go Whoa!

MK: Absolutely!

GW: And you're back and no no! I wanna go back!

MK: The minute you notice it's goin on, its over!

GW: Oh, man, damn I want to see the show tonight, not Mike. Mike's like he's too sick to be here, but he thinks he'll be better to see the show.

MK: Oh, fine!

GW: Can you imagine? I have to drive back, cause we're in Boulder

MK: Oh, man, that's not fair.

GW: I want to stay. The sound check really just got me. I was just like, whoa I'm ready to just go…

MK: Well, you know, feel free to talk to Chuck about that. He asked us to keep the guest list down tonight - -

GW: - My wife would actually shoot me because I did not line up a babysitter tonight. I was reading these questions to Mike, and he was supposed to be here…but I'm really happy, you're a wonderful person to interview, your very warm, and this has been great.

MK: Cool.

GW: I don't want to cut you short, I mean—

MK: I'm fine, whatever makes you guys happy.

GW: We are non profit, so if there's any non profit you have a thing in your heart for you can mention that—

MK: Not really, the same stuff we're all in support of, you know "Save the Rainforest", "Try to Impeach George Bush" (laughs)

GW: We have George Bush questions, do you want to get into George Bush? If Mike were here, it would have been a roast George Bush interview. In Colorado 800,000 acres are up for grabs, he wants to take away money from the Fish and Wildlife Service, no the Environmental Service which is Solar and Wind Energy. What we were all brainstorming, is he just wants tar. He wants charcoal, he wants fossil fuels, cause that's a thing you can charge a commission on.

MK: Right.

GW: But air and light, people can have it in their homes, you know?

MK: mmmm hmmm.

GW: It's not my interview, but that's what's happening in Colorado.

MK: I think its happening to some degree all over the world. Not just in this country. What's going on with the Rain Forest in South America and that kind of shit going on its just crazy.

GW: Aaron is the Rain Forest. C'mon Aaron, give me a rainforest question. Ok……Is the rainforest your thing?

MK: No, Not really. I don't have "a" thing. My thing is…..I consider myself a humanitarian. I would like to see the world embrace more spirituality, more respect for art, more respect for Nature, more respect for one another, less profit and monetary motivations for things. The idea that were all born truly - or whatever the little animal is that comes out of mom, we have an opportunity on this planet to support one another. We have an opportunity on this planet to have a wonderful shared experience. We also have an opportunity to shit on each other and to be greedy and to follow our baser natures. And I think all of us are at pretty much constantly at war with those two things on some kind of level. So I guess really ultimately what I'm in support of is just people being as conscious as they can possibly be. Because I think consciousness covers all of those areas. If you are a conscious individual, your no t gonna crap on your planet, your not gonna crap on your brother, your gonna see what needs to be taken care of, and your gonna take care of it because you're a caring individual.

GW: Do you think just having people meet en masse for some drums and some music - ?

MK: Absolutely.

GW: - -people, the smell of sweat, we're just chimps and we need to just get poundin - ?

MK: Yes. Without some sort of a $100 ticket and a venue attached to it, yeah absolutely.

GW: Right. It's not for showing off..

MK: It's an experience..

GW: …get down…

MK: Well, back in tribal days they had that kind of thing. And even in the villages there were village gatherings, there were barn raisings or whatever, community activities that were not profit motivated. I mean a barn raising, what the hell is a barn raising? It's a bunch of people that know each other, that know that one of those people has something they need done and they cant do by themselves. And they all get together, and they do this wonderful thing. They put all their juice into it, and they do this wonderful thing. And the only thing they get out of it, is the fact that they did something cool for their friend.

GW: Well Jimmy Carter's doing that.

MK: Right.

GW: While George's father is making billions in Saudi Arabia with a big oil cartel. He's not building any homes!

(Someone sings in the hallway : "Its now or never")

MK: Well, I think you'll find that unilaterally, this band does not support the George Bush administration. And we were, to say the very least, horrified, at the way the whole election came down. We were on tour last fall, and watching all this crap come down on our tour bus and we were just incredulous, like 'this can not be happening.'

GW: Can it be good in a weird way, my neighbor who voted for the third party guy, ???

MK: Nader?

GW: He says that it will be good because people woke up?

MK: I'm not so sure, because it was a reasonably close race, so the only people who woke up, were the people on the Gore side of the fence, or the Nader side of the fence woke up to the fact that they better mind their p's and q's because the system isn't necessarily always going to serve 'em. But there's a lot of people out there that voted for George W. And that's pretty scary. In fact what's really scary about that is there's a whole lot of people out there that are impoverished, or minority, or any number of other things, I mean George is all about the thumb (presses thumb down on shelf) with these people, and their voting for the man, and I do not get it.

GW: I say in our latest Grateful Word, I talk about people downstream of Appalachia, you know how they are lowering the arsenic levels in our water?

MK: No I don't know about that.

GW: He's approved more arsenic in our water. He said it's too stringent, what Clinton passed. So the people in Appalachia downstream of the strip mining, are gonna get it in their wells. But they probably voted for George Bush anyway.

MK: Right. Cause he's a good republican.

GW: Yeah, cause Clinton made a mockery of the presidency. Now they got their moral president, this is a quote, I say, they got their moral president, drink a toast with the water in your well to your moral president.

MK: Yes, well, we probably don't need to do all of this on the interview, you know moral president? What? Clinton's the first guy that's gotten caught is the only thing.

GW: Oh, I don't think—I'm saying they buy that.

MK: No, I know. But you go back to JFK, and Camelot, and how his whole administration was idealized, and he was a little ho! (laughs)

GW: All that matters is what they're passing, and the laws they are passing. I don't care about behind the doors -

MK: Exactly. Exactly. I mean what he did behind closed doors with Monica Lewinsky was what he was doing in his private life, in his off time. And when I look at the results of the Clinton administration, - -

GW: on?—

MK: In terms of the budget, what happened with our world wide trade relations, etc, etc, etc. I think the country that Bill Clinton left us with is in pretty damn good shape. And I would say it's pretty apparent from looking at what's already happened in less then 6 months, that were in for a bumpy ride with W.

GW: Should we just riot now - ?

MK: You know its funny cause Bob was saying that. When all this shit was going on in the fall, we were watching it, he was like, 'it's the sixties, baby, were going to have to go to jail (laughs).

GW: But that's the spirit that you need.

MK: I think so. I think people have gotten very complacent. Myself included. I mean as a teen I was pretty active in the whole black power movement, and the anti Vietnam movement, and just pretty politically aware, myself and all my friends kind of—

GW: I'm 38.

MK: Well I'm 46. So we're basically from the same sort of—

GW: You were still with the cool kids though—you were 60's, we were like, 70's.

MK: Well 70's is cool.

GW: Well…


MK: Well I don't think we need my cell phone..(turns it off) we'll kiss that goodbye….

Aaron (on camera): Thanks a lot, appreciate that.

MK: (to cellular) You're supposed to shut off now…but as I've gotten older, I haven't kept up with all that. I find myself beginning to get more political again.

GW: Because of Bush?

MK: In part. I have 16 years clean and sober, and I recently started partaking of the noble herb again. And that's another issue as far as I'm concerned. I think its ridiculous. I don't know a whole lot of people in prisons around the country that are in prison for violent crimes because they smoked a joint. But I know a whole lot of people that are in prisons around this country for violent crimes because they drank alcohol, which is perfectly legal.

GW: The major drug companies don't want people to self medicate, they make billions dishing out Prozac and all that other stuff.

MK: Right. Well that's certainly true. But even if you weren't to take it to the self medication place, and I know that's a platform that a lot of people myself included are standing on looking to get herb legalized. But even if it were just for entertainment and relaxation, that's what alcohol is there for, and it's legal. And if I smoke a joint, I'm not going to kill anybody on the highway, I'm probably not going to get into a fight, I'm probably not going to beat up or yell at my children. But if I drink alcohol, its pretty likely I'm going to do at least one of those things at some point.

GW: I think I would be an alcoholic if I didn't have herb.

MK: I am an alcoholic. That's one of the reasons I'm pretty vehemently anti alcohol (laughs).

GW: Maybe I haven't admitted I'm an alcoholic. I'm a two, maybe three beer a day guy, so maybe that is alcoholism.

MK: I doubt it, my definition of alcoholism is pretty much in line with the AA definition which is if alcohol is creating a problem in your life, and your continuing to partake, then your probably alcoholic.

GW: I need a drink by 5 when my two little kids are crying. Are you married?

MK: No.

GW: Have you ever been married?…. wanna go there?

MK: Spiritually I've been married. I've never actually had the paper and the ring.

GW: Have you had old girlfriends look you up on the Internet?

(both laugh)

MK: My very first looked me up on the Internet and found me.

GW: Isn't the Internet amazing?

MK: It is amazing. And that's also been true for some really dear old friends of mine. One guy that I was best friends with in Junior High that I saw spottily and then hadn't seen at all for like 15 years found me, and we're best friends again.

GW: So what up with the girlfriend?

MK: We've become friends. I didn't have any interest in rekindling that, I have a bad habit of dating younger woman—

GW: Uh-oh—

MK: She's my age.

GW: So Mike should have been here for that, he is… you can just ride him…he is…he's amazing.

MK: Oh yeah?

GW: He's 10 years younger then me, he's got blue eyes, he's your ticket. And that's what we were telling him is the propaganda, just take him out. 'Well I'm nervous" "Just go to a bar with him…So you've got to give mike a shot because he's upset he missed this—

MK: Well if he's coming later that's all good—

GW: But he can help you with the hunnies…he's a magnet…..we hate it as his brothers -

MK: Oh no no no you have to enjoy it, because you know, there's always the leftovers….(laughs)

GW: I'm married and uh -

MK: Cut that! (laughs)

GW: ….I'm happy as hell, this is too much, I'm going to do this for a living..

MK: Alright, I'm going to get some dinner—

GW: You have to go DO a living!

MK: Yeah, I do. Thank you.

Thank you's: