Michael Warren

Pal, peer, Penguin Cafe Orchestra appreciator, protocol polyglot, personal confidant, compatriot, collaborator, fellow expat, record-shopping partner, brother-in-Phish, Dog Log podcast co-host, Top 5 Records accomplice, and Tokyo Record Style repeater #1, my bud, THE Michael Warren.

I was initially thinking “what do you say about somebody who you have already said everything about” but then as I started writing, I realized how easy it is to keep sharing about the things and people you really love, which is what Michael and I endless wax and wane about nearly every other day, catching up for a short “Dog Log” – our oddly named, semi–daily musical check-in – a “Whatcha-been-listening-to-today,-find-anything-good?” serialized session (that sometimes admittedly ventures WAY off into the ether.) I came to this little nugget of today’s understanding by initially fearing that I might not be able to easily whip something up yet again for the blank page in front me, about Micheal, who I’ve already written so much about, he being the most photographed person on Tokyo Record Style so far. But I’ve just proved to myself that there is ALWAYS more. Still, considering how I might wrangle the task, I began looking for the thread that connected Michael and our friendship, to Penguin Cafe Orchestra, whose music I love but about whom I know so very little (for the longest time, I erroneously thought they were Japanese). So I started reading on their Wiki page today and found this amazing little vignette of how the entire concept of the band came to be, that I think is worth sharing with my fellow music lovers and appreciators, including Michael who I know will appreciate this.

Describing how the idea of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra came to him, founder Simon Jeffes said:

“In 1972 I was in the south of France. I had eaten some bad fish and was in consequence rather ill. As I lay in bed I had a strange recurring vision, there, before me, was a concrete building like a hotel or council block. I could see into the rooms, each of which was continually scanned by an electronic eye. In the rooms were people, everyone of them preoccupied. In one room a person was looking into a mirror and in another a couple were making love but lovelessly, in a third a composer was listening to music through earphones. Around him there were banks of electronic equipment. But all was silence. Like everyone in his place he had been neutralized, made grey and anonymous. The scene was for me one of ordered desolation. It was as if I were looking into a place which had no heart. Next day when I felt better, I was on the beach sunbathing and suddenly a poem popped into my head. It started out ‘I am the proprietor of the Penguin Cafe, I will tell you things at random’ and it went on about how the quality of randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality in our lives is a very precious thing. And if you suppress that to have a nice orderly life, you kill off what’s most important. Whereas in the Penguin Cafe your unconscious can just be. It’s acceptable there, and that’s how everybody is. There is an acceptance there that has to do with living the present with no fear in ourselves.”
I really loved reading this about Penguin Cafe Orchestra (and I would really like to read that poem), and I owe this discovery to Michael for bringing this record to Tokyo Record Style and for always bringing to our musical and philosophical conversations “randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality” that makes our version of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (which we call the Dog Log)  “a very precious thing.”

Thanks again, for everything always, Michael. I’ll catch up with you out there at the record store (or the Cafe), or back on the log soon enough. Until then, party on…

More Tokyo Record Style on the way. 

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Label: Editions EG – EGM 113
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 1981
Genre: Pop, Classical
Style: Modern Classical, Minimal

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