Holes in the Walls – Ponies in the Surf – 2008

Holes in the Walls MP3

Oh boy. “There we are! In the holes in the walls.”

It occurs to me that I might be happier if I just took my packaged dream and got over myself.  But there is something that tells all of us that our particular dream is original.  Even though there are 500 million people buying the same dream at the same time I like to think of myself as unique.

This is the point where the floor drops out from beneath my feet.  And really, this whole song is this sort of blissful floating in some sort of consumer void with a sort of maniacal early B-52’s/Violent Femmes soundtrack.  Everything is so shiny and packaged and we want it.  Don’t deny it.  You want it.  I want it.  I’m not turning down anything that gives me more consumer buying power.  Credit or cash, I don’t care.  If someone decides to give me millions of dollars I’m going to buy a glossy magazine life.  I have the cheap version right now.  It requires a lot more thought and strategy to get there, but I’m sold.

Every now and then I catch glimpses of myself that defy my firm alternative vision of myself.  Usually I see it in other people first.  Recently someone that I consider to be an idiot added that phrase that we all throw around to the punctuation of some antidote or conversation: “People are idiots.”  And I laughed.  And I guess I laughed on cue, because the laugh didn’t inspire any questions about what was so funny.  But it occurred to me that everyone is saying this.  So which people are the idiots?  Is it you?  Is it me?  Do I go through my whole life with the mistaken idea that I am one of the chosen intelligentsia?  I go to work every day and play my part in a system I despise and criticize whenever I get the chance.  I project myself into every situation and see myself running the show flawlessly.  Meanwhile my daily activity reveals gaping holes in my ideology.  I am the idiot.  I really am…

“There we are!  In the holes in the walls.”

holeswallsThis song sort of celebrates our idiocy.  Why not laugh madly as we browse the Ikea aisles?  What choice do we have?  Oh I guess we could go to Sears, but that’s just it.  Our options are only different aesthetically.  Even our option of not playing at all ends up being a play toward motivating others to keep playing.  One way or another, we are all playing.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s tattoos or towels, it’s all consumerism.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about how to get us off the grid.  You know.  Solar panels, wind turbines in the backyard, gray water, waterless toilets, rain water filtration systems, an organic vegetable garden…  There are whole product lines dedicated to this demographic.  The millions of us looking to escape the rat race.  Looking for ways to escape the idiots.  Ourselves.  I can’t wait until I can afford all of the beautiful new product lines available to escape the system.  Won’t that be wonderful?  I can see myself now with my iron fence around my yard, manufactured in Mexico.  I’ll be tending my organic vegetable garden, grown from seeds bought from a beautiful magazine that charged me more to guarantee that the seeds were harvested according to stringent organic guidelines.  My roof will be covered with solar panels that took me eight years to pay off.  The wind turbine on my roof might actually net me some money as it feeds electricity back to the grid.  And as people drive by on the street outside my fence, I will flip them off because they are such idiots.

This makes me think of Fight Club: “You’ll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center…”  Okay.  After that I’ll be exhausted and won’t want to cook.  So we better look up city search to find a place in the area to get cheeseburgers.  I’m not saying that there aren’t good messages there.  It’s just good for us to understand that it’s a movie marketed to millions of idiots that are slaves to the system.  That depend on the system to provide for our families.  In the end, the movie helped repackage Ikea for a demographic that is tough to market to.  The movie also helped create significant buying power for its creators.  Damn, I wish I had done that rather than just being one of the consumers.  I wish that Ponies in the Surf could write an alternative soundtrack to Fight Club.  That would be ridiculously funny.  Hell it might be ridiculously funny that I figured out a way to use Ponies in the Surf and Fight Club in the same sentence twice.

Our best efforts got us a system that we hate.  Who are the idiots?  Yes, people are idiots.  Last time I checked, I was a person.  I guess that’s me.  What this song did for me was make me laugh at myself about it.  Just remember this: “When it’s in your living room, it’s gone.”  And damn that’s so true.  Repeat it over and over like a mantra because that’s how true it is.  Harmonize it in about ten different ways with a partner.  This will make it even more true.  Then repackage it and sell it.

People are idiots!

Ego Blossoms – Samara Lubelski – 2007

Ego Blossoms MP3

I could listen to Ego Blossoms all day.

The first time it happened I was in elementary school.  I was sitting in class and there was a slight tickle near the top of my skull.  Suddenly everything cut into halftime.  I was looking at the teacher.  Her voice was still making sounds in real time, but everything she did seemed to be slowed down.  The sensual perspective was like an itch in my brain that I couldn’t scratch.  Like if I could reach up and scratch my brain about two inches from the crown of my skull, everything would right itself.  The mental equivalent of kicking the jukebox.  After a few eternities, it went away, and as surely as I wanted the feeling to go away when it first occurred, I immediately wanted the sensation to return.  I stared at the teacher trying to concentrate hard enough to make it happen again.  I wonder what the expression on my face might have been and what she might have though of me had she noticed.

Throughout my life, this happens a couple times a year.  Maybe it’s just a neat chemistry trick that my brain plays on me from time to time.  I have conducted my own chemistry experiments to simulate the experience, but it never really comes close to the natural sensation.  I have thousands of explanations involving a myriad of mystical variables that I like to try on as the truth.  I suppose any one of them is true at any given time.  It doesn’t really matter I guess.  But my ego likes to latch onto experiences like this and create giant structures and ideals that I am universally responsible for.  As I’ve gotten older, the sensation that I described becomes more of a burden as its familiarity signals new layers of responsibility that my consciousness will decide to take on.

egoblossom2Ego Blossoms is like standing on a street corner in Hong Kong and watching people for hours and wondering how all of this consciousness could exist simultaneously.  Everything I think and do is a universe of conflicting desires and contradictory needs.  I really never can tell what my true motivation is for anything.  When I dream, the universes multiply and die.  When I create things, I build a whole mythology around a thousand perspectives.  There is so much input inside my own thought process that accounting for billions of other voices outside my own head is completely out of the question.

But sometimes I can block my own thoughts out long enough to contemplate throngs of people in a crowded metropolitan setting.  Each person on each street, in every restaurant, in every office building and apartment building piled to the sky.  Each of them has a consciousness filled with unfathomable depth.  Each ego wants what it wants.  Each blossom of consciousness is staggering in its complexity and contradiction.  When each process decides what its motivation is, the carrier uses communication to add another layer of complexity to each consciousness that accepts its message.  The message is construed by all those filters and the meaning is changed until it is unrecognizable to the originator of the thought.

I can’t imagine how the barrier of self could possibly be overcome to eliminate conflict in the world.  The ego loves itself too much.  Consciousness creates elaborate hoaxes to overcome widespread solidarity.  There can no agreement with self, so there is definitely no way to even fabricate the appearance of agreement among large groups of people.

“Careful of the ego blossoms.  They eat up everything in sight.”

About the best we can do is observe.  To watch the ego grow itself into staggering structures that require resources and maintenance.  There is no fighting this.  It would be like trying to eliminate insects from the planet.  The only outcome would be our own demise, and still, some insect would survive on some floating rock in the asteroid belt.  The evidence of our ego would be all around.  Marching constantly upward like the music.  Plodding onward for the sake of self-perpetuation.  You feel the music drop away from time to time but it’s just the blossoms building another plateau for their gardens.

“Nothing changes.  Just another day.”

She visits this thought at the end of each chorus.  And she whispers it at the end.  You think the song is over and just fading out.  But you listen and she just dropped a couple of layers and says in a whisper, “Just another day.”  I immediately think of the underdogs from the beginning of the song.  “They don’t show their face here anymore.  I hear they’re doing fine.  In the mountains drinking wine.”  She wistfully repeats that too.  I understand why.  It sound so good in relation to the persistent manifestation of the ego blossoms.  “Drinking wine.”

And there it is.  I wish I could switch it off and on.  I reach up and push my right index finger through the top of my skull and find the switch that manifests itself as an itch that slows everything down.  I lightly scratch the place in my brain that complicates my life.  I turn it off.  And then I have a moment of peace “in the mountains drinking wine”.  Doesn’t that sound nice.  A season without ego blossoms eating “everything in sight”.  A vacation from my self.  I can feel the stress melting away.

Octet – Deerhunter – 2007

Octet MP3

Sometimes I get kind of panicked about how little of what I have wanted to do with my life I have actually done.  In that state, I can hardly take any action that gets me closer to doing the things that I want to do.  It’s sort of self perpetuating at that point, because then I get even more panicked that I haven’t done anything with my life and now I definitely can’t.  It’s sort of easy to sit at that point and wonder how the hell I am supposed to move forward.  I would guess that the most dismal failures of my life have been me sitting around wondering how to get out of this state of mind.  I have pissed away a lot of opportunities this way.

It’s kind of like Hamlet in a way.  I hate Hamlet.  Everyone knows what Hamlet should be doing next.  He is the only one suffering the indecision.  Everyone in the audience knows what he should be doing next.  But for whatever reason he is incapable of taking action.  Even if death is his fate, at least he would die having taken action.  But he just lets everything build until the whole thing just explodes on him.  I hate Hamlet because I have spent so much of my life being like him.

But this song isn’t about a character flaw or blown opportunities.  It’s about the actual panic.  The actual feeling that causes the inaction.  There I am sitting in some indescribable nothingness unable to hear my own thoughts.  If I could hear myself think, maybe I would actually get up and do something.

Ghosts sort of drift in and out of the room, each with their own motif.  They all have something interesting to say, and I am listening.  They speak in metaphors and puzzles and I am sure that I manufactured their thoughts in my own head.  But none of it sounds familiar.  I want to follow one and see where it goes but I am too afraid.  Their exits seems to suggest a very large population of their kind.  That’s too many metaphors and too many puzzles.

But still, I am fascinated by the idea of writing something that truly captures this state of being.  I could sit and contemplate it all day.  I thought I was always trying to escape the anxiety of my end, but it occurs to me that I am comforted by the presence of my own death imagined in thousands of original sequences. I want to fully contemplate each of them.  I want to savor every ounce of that panic.  I identify myself by this anxiety.  I count my heart beats and breath deeper.  Sounds more like satisfaction than desperation to me.  Most of what I know about myself has been discovered in my fear of death.

But ultimately, I am those ghosts.  “I was the corpse that spiraled out…  Into phantom hallways…”  The vocal is sort of woven into this tapestry of sound and it waves in the wind like a flag.  That voice never escapes itself.  It never knows that it is itself it is trying to escape.  The voice cries out of the smoky ripples on the surface of the seer’s cauldron.  It is paralyzing and fulfilling.  So powerless and ethereal and self-determining all at once.  There will be no disappointment here.  I will get exactly what I expect.

I find this feeling nearly impossible to write about, and I suppose that’s why it’s being said with music with hardly any lyrics.  Hell, I really don’t know that this is what the song is trying to express, but this is what it makes me think about.  Truly, Octet shouldn’t be removed from the concept album, Cryptograms, that it was created for.  Cryptograms is brilliant overall and maybe I should write a book about what Cryptograms means to me, but the song Octet makes me get up in the middle of the night and check all the doors and windows.

A Better Son/Daughter – Rilo Kiley – 2002

A Better Son/Daughter MP3

Houston, Winter 1997.  I’ve been staying at my mother’s house for a few months to get a job and an apartment in Houston.  I’m standing in the shower. The shower is one of those stand up things with no bathtub and it’s covered with rough beige one inch tiles.  I lean my forehead against the tile.  I lay in bed for 10 minutes every morning dreading this moment.  Sometimes longer.  Somehow I make myself get up and take this shower.  Now it’s time for the actual moment I’ve been dreading.  Turning off the water.  For some reason, this bout of depression manifests itself as physical pain when I turn the water off in the shower.  My skin feels like it’s being burned off.  I don’t really know what that feels like, but I’ve read about it.  This is how I imagine it feels.  Eventually, I reach up and turn the water off anyway.

Boston, Spring 1996.  I am walking up Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and I can see my girlfriend like a ghost through the second floor bay window smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.  There isn’t much light in the apartment, but I can see her just the same.  Maybe a lamp behind her in the living room.  She hasn’t left the apartment for days.  I have groceries and she will cook them.  The food will be good.  The conversation predictable.  About once a week she will call me at work and break up with me.  By the end of the day, she won’t be able to make it through the night without me.  I am required to enter her mental space a couple nights a week to draw her out.  Sometimes this is not pretty.  There are lots of tears.  Sometimes there is screaming.

I am thinner than I have ever been in my adult life.  During the week, I only eat the food that she cooks.  Sometimes I can make her get out of the house at midnight to walk across the street to buy cigarettes at the Ritz Carlton Courtesy Booth.  If there’s a holiday, we spend a week preparing her to go to her parents house, pummel her with wine through dinner and go home.  Sometimes on the weekends, we will go to my apartment that I keep for some ridiculous reason and watch football the whole weekend with my roommate.  He isn’t much better off.  We all ordered a pizza one night and when the pizza guy rang the doorbell, my roommate and my girlfriend both ran and hid.  At least we were able to laugh about that after I paid for the pizza.

Boston, Winter 1993.  I’m in the Charles River Park at midnight by myself.  I haven’t slept in about five days.  I work during the day at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  When I look at pictures of me from this period of time, I look older than I do now 15 years later.  I am unsure of what is real.  I really don’t remember how I got here.  It’s 20 degrees and the wind is blowing.  I have this crazy obsession at the moment with finding a green leaf.  I stand under a leafless tree with a wide canopy watching people (I can’t imagine they are actually there at midnight in 20 degree weather.) walking or running along the jogging trail.  I walk along muttering incoherently and crying from time to time.  I find myself facing a bush with one green leaf attached to it.

Every week on Tuesday, I go swimming with a recently divorced woman 14 years older than me at Simmons College.  We were introduced through a mutual friend.  We are close and should be dating but I am losing my shit.  I tell her about the one green leaf with a maniacal intensity, and then I pull this leaf out of my pocket.  After this, I never return her phone calls.

Houston, Summer 1989.  My friend Justin calls me for the 20th time in a month detailing how he is going to commit suicide as soon as we get off the phone.  I don’t have a car or I would go get him and take him to a meeting.  The trouble that he is using as an excuse for his despair seems so minor 20 years later.  He showed the police a fake insurance card after he got in a wreck.  This isn’t the first time all of us (Justin’s friends) have been through this.  We did this the previous year.  I can’t help but be a little impatient with him.  I half heartedly say that I will try to get a ride over to get him.  I make a few phone calls but everyone says that they have already talked to him.  They all feel the same way that I do.  You just wish that whatever was clinging to him doesn’t make it’s way onto you.  You want to help him, but he’s drowning and it’s definitely possible that he is going to drag you down with him.  I spent months almost as depressed in his apartment with two other friends eating frozen pizzas and watching movies (Die Hard, The Hunt For Red October) on the VCR and listening to Pink Floyd.  I don’t want to go anywhere near Justin, but I know he needs help.  I also know that I am incapable of helping him.

No one goes to get him and he shoots himself with a shotgun.  His roommate is in the next room.  He dies an accidental death 12 years later in his apartment from combining prescribed anti-depressants with probably 24 cans of beer.  The thing that keeps me trucking through all of my future bouts with depression is this one incident.  I may want to disappear.  I may want my life to be over.  I may want the pain to end.  But not at the expense of dozens of friends and family members.

“But you’ll fight and you’ll make it through.  You’ll fake it if you have to and you’ll show up for work with a smile.”

There is plenty that’s bad enough to make you want to end it.  There are fates worse than death.  One of those fates is suffering through a loved one’s suicide.

I love the march on the snare.  I love the plodding nature of the downbeat.  I love how the whole band builds into a crescendo of defiance toward the end.  The illustration about how sometimes you’re on.  Everyone sees glimpses of freedom and greatness in your depression.  Everyone can see you in your abyss.  They all want to reach down and pull you out, but it’s damn near impossible.  And then the energy dissipates in the end and the darkness engulfs you.  And as you descend into your darkness for another indefinite period of time, you invent things, like the sing song nursery rhyme Jenny Lewis sings at the end of the song, to build a fantasy about something to look forward to.  And you hang onto that for dear life.

I haven’t been depressed like this in a long time.  If you have never been depressed like this, thank whatever you believe in for that!  Because the truth is that for a good long time, there is no “…ship may be coming in…”  You’ll just sit there and wonder what the hell is happening.

Gold Lion – Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 2006

Gold Lion MP3

I have been struggling with what is so powerful about this song for a while now.  There’s something shamanistic and incurably psychedelic about Gold Lion.  My temptation is to say something narcissistic about knowing what Karen O is trying to tell us.  Those attempts at relating to her message come out something like this:

“Karen O what are you trying to tell me?  There’s only darkness and wind.  We have inherited this hopelessness.  We are the misunderstood.  Rejected even by ourselves.  Destined to be misrepresented in our every success and jeered in our failures.  Tempted to live our whole lives in disguise rather than approach true expression.  Dry, barren, cold or unbearably hot.  Gold Lion has a secret about where the light is.  But it seems so impossible.  I search the darkness.  Impenetrable…”

It’s so terrible it’s almost embarrassing.  I struggled around in this vein for a long time trying to get at the essence of the song.  Why do I feel so damn cool when that incredibly sparse drum beat begins?  And finally that question did it for me.

Gold Lion is so unbearably cool.  I want to be that cool.  I want to know what she’s saying.  I want to know every nuance of meaning behind those Karen O bangs.  I want to write 1000 words trotting out my punk street cred and why it’s me that knows what she’s saying.  I want to be elevated to the status of punk saint because of my understanding of the deeper cultural significance of the Gold Lion.  Then I’ll explain what the light is that the Gold Lion knows the location of.  I would trace this song’s origins backwards through all alternative and punk history.  I would be able to draw analogies that reference Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop and David Bowie and Johnny Rotten and Patti Smith and Nick Cave.  I’ll even make sure to spell the names right so you understand that I actually owned their records.

bayb-lionI can’t help but even fail at my self referential circle jerk.  Karen O is way cooler than I’ll ever be.  Brian Chase is so hip that I can’t even begin to understand what makes him think he can get away with so much space in his grooves.  Nick Zinner redefines guitar raunch with powerful riffs with enough space to drive a truck through.  Nick’s so cool that every sound that comes off his rig sounds like he meant it.  In Gold Lion, all of the ideas are simple.  All of the execution is monstrous.  I have no fucking idea what the song means, but every time the song comes on I feel my face changing shape.

This song makes me question everything I do.  Have I made a right choice about what to do with my life ever?  Isn’t there something else I should be doing?  Shouldn’t I just get up and walk out the door and never turn back?  Everything is so certain.  That drum beat is the right beat and no it doesn’t need to be embellished.  Gold Lion is going to tell her where the light is.  Those guitars come and go as they please. Now I know what makes a moon without a tide.  Cold desire.

I could go on but the song is over and I feel like throwing my guitar down and leaving the stage.  My life is so completely uncertain.  I want that kind of certainty.  Show me where the light is.

Baba O’Riley – The Who – 1971

Baba O’riley MP3

My life sometime around 1981.

“Out here in the fields…”

baba-orlyI’m walking out the back door of our house in Byram Township New Jersey.  I walk straight through the neighbor’s lawn behind our shed.  I move quickly because they don’t like it when I cut through.  The bushes are overgrown.  I have to rub my shoulder against the other neighbor’s wooden fence.  On the other side of that fence is a pool that I have spent much of my childhood in.  I pass from the darkness of the narrow alley on the side of the fence into the front yard.  I am mostly clear now.  I have come this way because I don’t want to see anyone I know.  My mother may have been just pulling into the driveway before I left.  I am not sure if this is true but I was suddenly struck with a very claustrophobic feeling and I had to leave.  I know where I’m going but I also don’t care where I’m going.  The air is crisp and clean.  I have an adult sized army shirt for a jacket and work boots.  I am maybe 10, 11, 12.  I am the loneliest kid on the planet.

“I farm for my meals…”

I walk quickly down the street.  I don’t want Mr. or Mrs Matulo (the neighbors with the pool) to drive up the street while I am here.  It’s not that I will be in any kind of trouble.  I am just ashamed.  I couldn’t tell you what I am ashamed of, but my whole life is filled with shame.  There are only a handful of people that I don’t feel ashamed around.  I’m on my way to see them.

“I get my back into my living…”

Sean’s house is at the end of the street I am on.  I am walking quickly and I stare at the ground.  I don’t want to see anyone I know.  Or more accuarately, I don’t want to make eye contact with anyone who knew me when I was 8.  I don’t know that person anymore.

“I don’t need to fight…”

I walk straight up Sean’s driveway without looking at the front door or the house.  When I reach the garage, I pass to the right of the house and follow a stone wall to the woods behind the house where I pick up a faint trail.  I haven’t slowed down once, but now I can breathe a little easier.

“To prove I’m right…”

The path emerges from the woods onto a steep slope where nothing grows.  It’s clay and top soil and rock mixed together and it’s treacherous.  I can see the backs of the buildings along 206 from here.  I walk straight down the slope without slowing down.  At the bottom of the slope, I am in a gravel parking lot and I walk to the front of the building.  A store front of some sort.  I can’t even visualize it.  I still don’t look up as I step into the busy traffic on 206.  I am not exactly reckless.  I can see the cars and I am timing it well.  But I don’t want to see anyone I know on 206.  It could be my mother.  Any one of my neighbors.  It could be any of the dozen friends I used to have before my parents split.

“I don’t need to be forgiven…Yeah yeah yeah…”

I am across 206 and walking through the parking lot of a bar whose name I can’t remember.  Now I am passing down a gravel driveway and I am hidden from 206.  I don’t care who sees me in West Brookwood.  I hardly know most of the people and most of them don’t know my family.  It’s the eyes in East Brookwood that I find oppressive.  I make my way through the streets of West Brookwood to the Wecht’s house.  It doesn’t matter who is home.  Jason or Jonathan will be somewhere.  I am free.

“Don’t cry… Don’t raise your eye…  It’s only teenage wasteland…”

There are no uncomfortable questions here.  I don’t care if I eat or do drugs or break into a bar.  I don’t care what we do.  If only one of the 5 other siblings is around, I will sit there with them until Jason or Jonathan show up.  If no one is home at all, which is damn near impossible, I will sit on the porch until someone shows up.  I don’t want to be anywhere else ever.

“Sally take my hand…”

My fantasy life is about someone that I have a crush on in school.  It doesn’t matter what name it is.  Melissa, Laura, Michelle, Patty…  The fantasy is about someone that doesn’t exist.  They are being abused and I save them and we run away.  I feel it like it’s real.  We escape into the night and don’t look back.

“We’ll travel south cross land…”

My life is so miserable and discontented, I would go anywhere and do anything other than be around my house.  There is nothing I can do at home that is satisfying.  There is no person I can see that I have known for years that won’t produce some kind of anxiety.  I don’t know how to answer the simplest question.  “What do you want to drink?”  “Would you like a hamburger?”  Can you imagine how the more invasive questions are handled?  “How are you feeling?”  I can remember not being able to speak.  Knowing it was my turn to speak and not being able to move my lips at all.

“Put out the fire and don’t look past my shoulder…”

I wanted to disappear.  I wanted to be completely annhilated from the list of my parents mistakes.  I wanted to be so high that I couldn’t think about anything.  I wanted to be around people that felt the same way that I did.  I wanted to be around a group of people that didn’t have adults.  No rules.  No judgement.  No real questions.

“The exodus is here…”

We truly didn’t have that many drugs.  We liked to think of ourselves as big into this kind of thing.  But truly we spent a lot time dreaming about what we would do if we had a lot of pot.  But we seldom had any.  Alcohol we would steal when we had the chance.  Most of our lives were defined by a lot of incoherent laughter about nothing.  A lot of aimless wandering that was deeply meaningful to us.

“The happy ones are near…”

I hated seeing my previous life so much that I would make this same trip every morning just to be on a different bus from the one I had been taking since Kindergarten.  When I made it to the bus stop, Jason, Jonathan, Laura and I would make a decision about whether we were going to school.  Obviously, often we didn’t go to school.  If I got up too late to walk across 206, I would wait until the bus was gone.  Then I would walk out the front door and go a different way through some yards and across a stream until I got in the woods.  Without a trail of any kind, I would make my way in a straight line to the school.  Maybe a 2 mile walk.

“Let’s get together before we get much older…”

I had no thought in my head about anything changing.  The only comfort I could comprehend was my friends.  We smoked cigarettes until our lungs hurt.  We broke into the storage shed for the bar on 206 multiple times.  We scrounged for money.  We asked each other how much money each of us had every day.

“Teenage wasteland…”

We crashed the older kids parties.  They tried to hide them from us but we always showed up.  Midnight parties at the older kid whose mother never left her bedroom.  The lean-to at the boy scout camp.  If the police showed up, we ran.  I wouldn’t come home on the weekends until 3 am or later, if at all.  No one ever seemed to notice.

“They’re all wasted!”

I hear this song and a desparate longing fills my chest.  There are times of my life that I have avoided listening to it.  Times when I was trying to build something else.  I have a fairly successful life now.  I have a son and a girl on the way that I hope never feel that rejected by everything around them.  But all of my fears and desires have their basis in that longing.  I can still see the looks on all of their faces the last time I saw them.  I lost some brothers and sisters 25 years ago.  Everyone cried a little.

My whole life has been about leaving little pieces of myself with different groups of people.  We were children.  And children move away.  And grief is a hard lesson to learn.  But I left a piece of myself with them.  They saved my life in ways they couldn’t possibly understand.  I don’t really understand it.  But every time this song comes on I can see Jonathan,  Jason and Laura on the last day I saw them in New Jersey.  It makes my heart hurt for all of the innocence we didn’t think we had left at that time.  It makes my heart hurt for everything I wasn’t able to share with them later.  But really, being able to feel something with this kind of intensity is what life’s all about.  And all of that intensity is tied up for me in this song and that narrow strip of Northern New Jersy that we stomped in our time.

Boston Community Theater

In Boston, when I was very active with music, which, to be honest, I wasn’t active the whole time. I used to do this community theater gig and it was really the most amazing gig I ever had. I was given complete artistic freedom and I could just come up with whatever I wanted.

The director and producer of the community theater was this Chemistry professor at MIT. He was very strange. And we clashed a lot. I was young and I didn’t care if he was paying me, which he was. If there was any one gig I would like to have. That was it.

I would be there for rehearsals from the beginning and develop themes for the characters. A couple of the plays were Ibsen’s The Master Builder and Chekhov’s The Seagull. All of the plays were classic plays. The director was a little inept sometimes but it was one of his dreams. He wanted his own Chemistry Lab (MIT) and he wanted run a community theater and he wanted to direct classic plays. He also wrote a song for each play. The songs were terrible.

So one of my jobs was to produce and record his song. Not only produce it, but score it, arrange it, find appropriate people to perform it including the singer and then somehow make the song recognizable to him while still making it sound good. I have a reel of 8 track tape in my box in the living room with The Seagull arrangement on it. I haven’t heard it in 20 years.

I also participated in blocking and the character’s motivation. Sort of just critiqued and helped him put on these plays. It was my first experience in drama and soundtracks of any sort. And it was really a great experience in producing stuff I didn’t like and making it sound as good as I could whether I liked the piece or not.

Here’s the Venue!

I’ve been listening to Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous. There are a couple songs that have really entered my head. And there are a couple of songs I really don’t like, and I don’t think it’s their best, but Portions for Foxes and A Man/Me/Then Jim are really great songs. And Jenny Lewis’ honesty I guess is the thing that always gets me going back to Rilo Kiley. I envy that. I don’t think I can see myself that clearly. Of course, maybe it’s all fiction and I just understand it as clear self-examination. I don’t know Jenny Lewis, so how could I know.

I’m sort of in this amateur bull shitting myself area with everything. I need lyrics but I don’t like anything that I’m thinking of. And then the Berklee teacher that told me, “Writer’s block is the luxury of amateurs!” pops into my head whenever I end up in the “I don’t know what to write about” corner. It’s all crap. The opening song of More Adventurous is It’s a Hit and I have added enough of my own experience to read the theme as being about writer’s block. But I don’t really think the lyrics point to that. It really is about the futility of trying to write a hit.

So I have sort of invented this excuse about writer’s block. It means nothing. If I don’t attempt to write a song then it won’t happen. If I don’t really do anything, what?. If I don’t have somewhere that I am a musician every day, then I am no longer a musician every day. Who am I talking to? Why would I write anything when there is no venue? And why am I apologizing first blog post? I wonder how long it will take before I just say what I think.

Portions for Foxes has really had me thinking for a long time about what’s left of us. I wonder at what point a person solidifies their view of the world. “We’re start out as suckers and end up as assholes.” – Beijing Rocks