Bad wood underneath the veneer
Between battling a nic fit and eating Thanksgiving at the country club, I was in a comparably sour mood today. I tried to hide my knee-jerk reactions to these morally depraved events as best as I could, but I undoubtedly came off as an ass.
What do I have to be thankful for? The fact that tomorrow we're having our own home-cooked Thanksgiving apart from that bourgeoise six figure club. God, that was uncomfortable.
Album update, installment 2
I wrote this today and I think I have some music. It's all part of my concerted effort to leave behind vague, teen angst masquerading as important issues. Melody is still in the works. Lyrically, this is set as a theme, but lines and words are elastic at this point. Please! comment and make suggestions. Those of you whom I respect (you know who you are). This was written for the sake of a theme. No chorus, 'cept the sha la la la's. And honestly, that is a lazy thing for me to do. But it is kind of haunting. I dunno. I tried to get inside of someone else's head.
I only always ever had slush in my shoes
Waiting at the altar for her to arrive
Hesitating to be so committed to you
I know your father did with you at his side
sha la la la
I remember I held his tiny head and hands
At night as he fell asleep on my chest
Raisins and candies tucked in his pants
did I know how much I was blest?
sha la la la
She and I used to love eachother once
I used to miss work just to feel her touch
Now I only see you every other month
The judge, she says I drink too much
Anyway, if this song comes out well, I'll put it on the new album.
So far, the songs I want to record are as follows.
1. The Last (incomplete)
2. Michael3. Lunita (not sure)4. Dear Sister
5. (Song about my grandfather's death)6. (This new one)
7. Only October8. Now and Then (Friends) 9. (Ghost Song, fka "Samuel")
The thing I might do is sort of chronicle my life and then my potential life.
Currently listening to:
Apophatic Theology Cradled in an Airsoft-Psycho Nightmare
After being raised essentially a pacifist (my mother not allowing even so much as a squirt gun in the house), I inevitably will find myself in a rain of airsoft pellets at least twice a week for the rest of the semester.
I'm back home, and curiously enough there is a squirt gun on our deck. Meaningless and absurd.
Waiting for me on my desk at home is a flip book of 36 little cheques labled "Great Lakes Educational Loan Service." Oh yeah. I owe someone $1500 from two years ago. Meaningless! and absurd.
Jackson's class was interesting today. We're reading The Cloud of Unknowing.
Looks boring at first, but some of it actually describes (more articulately) what I've felt all along, when people tell me that I need to "know God." Here are some of my notes (the discussion was far more dense and I don't know if these few little things will spark any interest on here.):
God is all-consuming, yet inexaustible. Burning bush. Dark cloud.
God is generally equated to light, clarity. In Exodus, Moses sees two things:
1. Burning bush, which is a pre-figuration of God and
2. eventually only sees God's back, walking away and God as a dark cloud (God as the unknowable).
True humility involves the act of being humiliated as Christ was.
St. Denis said, "The godliest knowledge of God is that which is known through ignorance."
Friends/Enemies are not categorical questions. You have neither. There is one kind, namely, the human race.
To correct someone, that is to say, to try to rid someone else of sin and replace it with good character, is the work of the devil. Those who try to do this in someone else are assuming a role only God himself can fulfill. Thus, someone who seeks to do this does not spew forth good, but rather evil. It is prideful, and in a sense, idolatry in that those who seek to correct someone make it their sole purpose in life. (Though this is a good point, this is hard for me to reconcile completely with some scripture.)
Somehow, this makes me think of that Dylan song. You know, where the father let's him (dylan, I assume) stay the night if he stays away from his daughter and milks the cows. But he doesn't want to do any of that (Not even sleep with Rita, who looked like she stepped out of La Dolce Vita? WTF!), so he shouts out to the farmer that he likes Fidel Castro and his beard. So the farmer chases him out with his shotgun...shouting that he's an un-American bastard...threatening to go to the FBI, etc.
...No, wait, that's me daydreaming of how I'd get away from Lee and his airsoft arsenal (sonovabitch!) Meaningless...and absurd.
Currently listening to:In Case We Die
by Architecture in Helsinki
Coffins dropping in the street like balloons made out of lead
Picking at my finger nails, shuffling around
and wondering why wisdom is always so simple
and why we're all cast down to the ground
Like the money Jesus cleared from the temple
And all the gals I used to know are so wary
To them, secret admirers have all turned to stalking
Look somebody in the eye, and man, you're scary
Ain't seen ya before, so no, I'll keep walking
So I stand over the graves
of poor bastards I never knew
Think of all those older, simpler times...
When you could make a fire in the rain
When you could smoke inside a bar
When your picture stayed in her frame
When you went far away to war...
...(rest of song pending a good direction) Maybe I'll talk about history and how it never gets better or worse really. How yesterday is just as messed up as today. I dunno. If you don't like the pimple, well, why don't you shove off if it bothers you so much.
Currently listening to:
I think I'll be downsizing my collection of musical appurtenances this winter.
Fender tube amp - gone
Epiphone electric guitar - gone
Taylor big baby acoustic - gone
Digital delay - gone
Cheap epiphone student practice guitar - gone
I might even sell my Taylor 314ce. I'm not completely dissatisfied with it. But if I can sell all the crap listed above and sell my good Taylor, then I'll have enough money to buy a newer Taylor that is set up better, hasn't been smashed and re-polished on the butt, and has a good working pickup.
Anyway, considering this:
Or maybe this
Sessions! This is an outrage!
Apparently, MTV is coming to the Annex tomorrow to interview the new mayor of Hillsdale, Michael Sessions. I dunno what time, but I'm going to be there. Probably practicing for my set. MTV is lame. But, well, I admit that I can get caught up in all that shit.
Currently listening to:
The Sweetness Factor
I thought it wise to make a no-nonsense policy about what I put in posts. But this was too good.
Tom Waits... charismatic story-teller with a
penchant for freaky people and unusual
settings. You thrive on the concept of the
underdog coming out on top. Which fucked-up genius composer are you?brought to you by Quizilla
"Call no man happy til he dies. There's no milk at the bottom of the pail."
I left all my dreams and hopes buried under tobacco leaves
Consider which would be better:1. Tooth Fairy Racketeering
Put a tooth underneath a kid's pillow at night. Leave note on the door to his room, informing his parents that he has a missing tooth. They see the note and put money under the pillow. Then you sneak back into the room and steal the money, and the kid is none the wiser. (Southpark)
2. Scrabble Hustling
Pretty self explanatory. Bet a dollar for each point the winner scores over the loser.
In other news, I think I'm going to take advantage of Christmas break to record a whole album. Probably not going to do much more than guitar and voice. Maybe invite a violinist I know to play on a few tracks. Maybe do some piano and harmonica. If any of you have any opinions regarding the songs you think I should put on it, let me know. I might listen to your opinions. I'm not sure how much I believe in some of them. I have about sixteen songs. I'm going to try to cut half of them out. I'm not going to worry about a theme at this point. The songs I've written are as follows. Many will be left and forgotten.
(the ones toward the top are the ones I think are okay, the others are not so cool.)
The Last Across The Border
No Good Excuse
Now And Then
Make It Through
Blocked on AOL
Far Too Much
Like a Brother
Currently listening to:
"Floater (Too Much To Ask)"
Words from the Yellow Brick Roaders
And now, words of comfort from the best power pop band in the world:
"You've gotta be laid back, rock to obscurity/
Then you will surely see there's nothing wrong with me."
- Ozma, "Flight of The Bootymaster"
Currently listening to:
Post-Battle Pity Party
Comments I received about last night:
Producer: "Maybe make songs more upbeat"
Music Teacher: "Nice jazz solo at the end, but not appropriate for a rock show."
Pop Expert (aka "dumb" Kappa): "Are songs original?! AWESOME!!!"
P: "Seems very in touch with contemporary folk. I kind of hear some Modest Mouse in there."
MT: "Tempo lagged in first song."
P.E: "2nd song captured the romantic in me. Definitely play it for the girls!"
P: "Strong voice, but band lacked cohesiveness"
MT: "Seemed to lose the crowd a bit"
P.E: "Are these your own lyrics? These are great! Wow!"
Well, so it goes. At one point, I knew something that I forgot. Band cohesiveness is the most sought after thing when it comes to producers and teachers. It displays a certain professional attitude to them. Not having a rhythmically solid band at a battle of the bands is kind of like rolling through a stop sign on your driving test. Your score plummets in light of other potentially redeeming qualities. And my scores certainly did that. It's frustrating. The drummer from the 1st place band said he wanted to lock John (my drummer) in a closet with drums and a metronome for two months. But I'm not going to scapegoat. Yes. John and I were off from each other. Either A. I was getting off, or B. He was getting off. Either way, I as the band leader should have been more serious coming in to this battle. I'm lazy when it comes to focusing on my own rhythm, let alone someone else's. I should have remembered that judges care far more about tightness than they do originality. They also came into the show distinctly feeling the show was ordained by God for a rock show.
But the band that won was a Dave Matthews cover band (who were very tight). Juny, who came in second place, was even more mellow than I was. (But let's face it, Juny deserved a good nod. Dan is great.) Anyway, the set looked like this if you want to reference the comments:
1. Far Too Much (the last time I will play that...after singing it hundreds of times, it is rote and without feeling, vague, blah.)
But I'm through fellas. It's so frustrating playing these kinds of shows. As Silliman said, "People want to rage at these concerts. Your music calms them." I might try to play a show at the Annex coming up. So I'll let you know if I get something lined up.
Currently listening to:
New song. Matt got the ball rolling on this one and is responsible for about half the lyrics. I pretty much took it from there. It's kinda about being dead and gone and watching someone you loved. Like a ghost or something. The music is sort of old-timey. That's the best way I have to describe it. A little like "Po' Boy" by Bob Dylan.
Skinny li'l gal
You're bundled up against the cold
And your lover draws near
For to rescue you and to hold
You wore your wedding dress
And you wore your ring at my funeral
Goddamn I feel like
dancing in the wind like a kite
But I also feel like laying
on the floor with you tonight
I keep planting all my roses in gravel
And naming all the books I'll never write
I died on a Sunday afternoon
But I shoulda asked for your hand long ago
What was I thinking?
But you look so happy
hangin on his arm at his side
It's better this way
that our paths never did collide
So I'll float across empty lots
Keeping all of you that I caught
I gotta get back to the stage
Tomorrow night, 9:07, I'll be playing at the Phi Mu Alpha/Pi Beta Phi Battle of the Bands. McNamara hall in Howard Music Building.
Midnight Special is my backing band. I'll be playing three songs.
Midnight Special will go on at 9:22 pm with their own set.
Hope to see you all there.
Currently listening to:
Candidate for the Beat?
Hillsdale has a new mayor. He's 18 years old. Prospect for the Beat? Definitely.
Deleted my xanga and several people from my buddy list yesterday in a Red Dog/pain-killer/cheese whiz accident. Felt kind of good.
Will Farnum has a music project
Currently reading:The Pearl
Tonight at the Annex
I had been dieting for a week or so. But today couldn't be helped. I had to eat something bad. Starch. Grease. My spirit was no longer willing to deprive my body of these things. But there's a price. I was paying it on a Hillsdale Annex toilet bowl.
clump, clump, clump
Through the door I could hear that somebody had come in - probably Silliman.
clump, clump, creeeeak
There he stood, door gaping, looking in at me.
"Heyeea..." I greeted the intruder. He shut the door quickly.
"Why the hell didn't you lock the door?" S. shouted from behind the bathroom door.
"You live with me. You know this. You're lucky if I even shut the door." I wondered if the half-dozen people sitting around had seen me. They were sitting around a table just outside the door, playing dungeons and dragons or something. I calculated the space of door's opening, the time it was open, and visual trajectory like a scientist. A hunched over, groaning, scientist moving this massive deuce. I knew this is how people get hernias. Like 30 of Pharaoh's slaves pushing a massive cube of sandstone up a pyramid. Thousands of pounds - stone on stone, grinding - up hill. What colossal force! Absurd.
I emerged from the stall. S. seemed embarrassed. I never stop to think of other people's shame. I always assume that I'm the one who must justify my human-ness, and that other people were robots and basically programmed without feeling. But that's part of my submissive nature. The reality is, it's pretty embarrassing to walk in on a guy taking a dump. I probably only have to explain that to myself, not you. But S. would let it roll off his shoulder with a good, healthy shrug.
The Annex was modestly active tonight. I read some. I translated a few lines of Cicero (all I could stomach). I read more. Listened to music. Luke, Hugger, and S. proposed that we should call the Annex, the "Xanax." It was that kind of place. Every time I went there it was a retreat. It also seemed like a good idea to them to actually take some Xanax and go there one day. Get jacked up on coffee and play scrabble for twelve hours straight. I think I would just lay on the floor, turn the lights out and listen to lush, strange, earnest music, and imagine I-tunes visualizers on the ceilings. Blissful and awkward, like your first kiss in junior high, when your sense of the opposite sex is untainted. These are the times, I thought, that were at the pinnacles of our 20 odd years thus far. Simple. Archaic even. A rebellion against all the stiff, bloodthirsty days that lead up to it and follow after it.
An overly optimistic singer-songwriter (Jessie was his name) got up on stage and began playing. I had heard him before. Nothing special to speak of, other than he did write some songs (I think). His influences seemed a bit rote and typical to me. His voice, however, had a Joe Strummer meets Patterson Hood feel to it. He missed the pitch often, but his voice retained a sense of humility. That's a nuance that most people don't reach. That's why Cash was good. He gets way off during "A Boy Named Sue" at San Quentin. I think I'm one of a few who really noticed it. But who cares? I think my point's been made.
Jessie's wife was pregnant. She was sitting and walking intermittently. She walked like most pregnant women do. Back arched slightly. Feet spread a bit, waddling side-to-side as much as she moved forward. They were going to name the newborn Athena.
Jessie finished his set. Instead of getting off the stage, he proceeded to talk into the microphone. Talk to his wife. Talk to Annex Dan. Talk to whoever will listen. Man. There was only eight or nine, maybe ten of us in the whole place. You didn't need a microphone to be heard. And what is it about singer-songwriters who feel the need to talk in excess through a microphone. Obviously, the successful ones are paid to do this. Maybe this is a phenomenon I see in myself at band practice. I always talk into the mic. Probably because all my bandmates couldn't stop playing for a mere five seconds to listen to what I wanted them to do. So I just talked into the mic. But there was this other element. It was a way to be heard by more than just your bandmates. It was a way to be heard by everyone. Man, that is egotistical. But man, that feels good. So I had affection for Jessie. We share this.
A day above ground is a good day
We stood in front of your brother's grave
after a long day of intermittent rain
steeped to our ankles in mud and pale grass.
Probably stayed there for no more than five minutes
Time didn't suspend itself
Maybe it did for you when you heard about his accident
He'd been hit by a car - not killed
limbo for a time, hoping for recovery
Apparently that was not the Plan.
So it went. He was only a vegetable.
So they p u l l e d him a p a r t
from the tiny plastic hands
that were resuscitating him every second
while your family waited with salty eyes and rusted jaws
And I can't speak about what might have happened after that
It would be so fake
Fake like the flowers that still looked new
That were sitting by our partially submerged feet
So I offered a tear and a good thought
Tried to imagine death and afterlife,
but really only knowing life
Wondering what my death would one day
bring to my sisters - maybe nothing
Perhaps that was what broke me a little
And so I cried.
You loved your brother when you spoke of him
You went through those steps - denial, grief, eventual recovery
That damned process, which is undoubtedly just
a kludge to categorize our struggle with mortality and eternity
Apparently, it's true (contrived as it seems) -
Anodyne effects of time and events
multiplied by more time and events in two years since.
So you stood by me relaxed and comforting (a source for me)
maybe chilled, but only from the cold
wind of November
And when we left, you grabbed me suddenly
Pressed me close and
Kissed me hard, like it was the last one
you ever gave him.
Currently listening to:Nothing But A Burning Light
by Bruce Cockburn