Year: 1999
Original Format: cassette

This pretentious title is a reference to The Mystery of Consciousness, my first “official” mixtape, which dates back to the Eighties. In the 21st century I would pivot (mostly) to CDs, which makes this sort of the end of an oeuvre. I put a lot of work into it and I still like it.

At the time I was fascinated by the idea of self-programming. I wondered, is it possible to use the power of suggestion to make yourself a happier, stronger, better person?

24 years later I think: Sort of? In very limited ways? You have to be careful how you do it, though; otherwise you end up with something like this:



A Very Unusual Recording James W. Newman & Associates
This is from a record I picked up at a thrift shop, which had a plain white cover:

Testing the VOR T.F.V. & Associates
“VOR” stands for “Voice Operated Recorder.” This one didn’t work very well.

Mic Check Cornelius
There are so many songs from this era that have videos I never saw before. Where were people watching videos in the late Nineties? MTV was all reality shows and the web wasn’t up to speed yet. How was I supposed to have seen something like this?

Just a Test Beastie Boys
Back when the Beasties were onstage with a giant inflatable penis, I never would have imagined I’d be taking life advice from them. But what can I say, I find this song inspirational.

Don’t worry your mind, when you give it your best
One-two, one-two, this is just a test

Get Behind the Mule Tom Waits

The people mentioned in the song are real people:
– Molly be damned –…
– Big Jack Earle –…
– Jack the Cutter and Pock-marked kid were criminals in the Old West
– Birdie Jo Hoaks was a con artist
I don’t think the song is about just one story, it’s several different stories, apparently all true (or at least involving real people). —“obi have,”

Gonna Rise and Fly Greg Hale Jones
Greg Jones was a friend of a friend. Sadly I never met him and even more sadly, he is no longer with us. He was a talented guy.

This Is a Powerful Tool James W. Newman & Associates
The inside label was no help:

Guide Mystik Journeymen
“The most under valued talent within the history of hip hop.” —YouTube commenter “astralluminosity9456”

Take Me to the Next Phase The Isley Brothers
“Take Me to the Next Phase (Part 1)” was a hit song for R&B/funk band The Isley Brothers. The song has the sound of a live stadium recording, but it was created entirely in a recording studio. Ernie and Marvin Isley plus Chris Jasper laid the foot stomps and some of the crowd noises across 24 recording tracks. Released from their platinum selling 1978 album, Showdown, the single spent 2 weeks at number one on the R&B singles chart.” —Wikipedia

Back to the Essence Blackalicious
From the Urban Dictionary:

Easier Without It James W. Newman & Associates
James W. Newman has no Wikipedia page, but I did find an LA Times obituary, which tells us that he was “a pioneer in the self-help field and an early advocate of self-esteem in books and lectures.”

This Time Los Lobos
1999’s This Time was the end of an incredible run of 90s albums by Los Lobos and spinoff the Latin Playboys. I haven’t kept up with their records lately, but they’re still at it; in fact they just played a show to celebrate their 50th anniversary and will be starting a lengthy tour soon. Maybe I’ll catch them in Portland or Olympia at the end of March.

Blue Danube Waltz (excerpt) Strauss/Oslo Philharmonic
TIL: “Blue Danube was the first operational British nuclear weapon. It also went by a variety of other names, including Smallboy, the Mk.1 Atom Bomb, Special Bomb and OR.1001, a reference to the Operational Requirement it was built to fill.” (Wikipedia)

Finite = Alright David Byrne
I wonder if “House Burning Down” is Byrne’s favorite Hendrix song or if it just fit the meter of the line. And here’s how dumb I am: It only just this minute occurred to me that this is also a reference to “Burning Down the House.” Duh.

The Truth The Highlife Movement
Jodie, meet Mike.

This Will Happen Very Rapidly James W. Newman & Associates
The obit continues: “In 1961, Newman founded the organization PACE, an acronym coined from Personal and Company Effectiveness, and he was president of the organization until his death. His four- to six-day seminars targeted audiences ranging from company sales staffs to teenagers…. In 1988, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors named Newman chairman of the county’s Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal Responsibility.”

A Message from the Temple Psychic TV
If you go to “” you will find a site soliciting funds for a Psychic TV documentary of that name. They apparently raised $65,000 on Kickstarter, but no such movie is in circulation and all their communications go silent after early 2020. I guess they didn’t visualize hard enough… or maybe what they actually visualized was collecting 65 grand and disappearing into the ether.

Tedious Junior Murvin
I’ve been puzzled for decades now by Murvin’s use of “tedious” as an apparent synonym for peace and/or the promised land. Maybe it’s like the Talking Heads’ “heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.”

7 Moby
“Damn i always wished this one was longer, it’s chill as hell and has a lot of urban deadbeat kind of atmosphere. Reminds me of an empty gymnasium or something.” —YouTube commenter “Chameleonardodavinci”

The Wild Kindness Silver Jews
A while back I wrote a moderately lengthy piece about this song and related matters. There’s not much more to add.

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