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Entries in adjusting to reality (79)

Friday
Nov162007

Version 4.0

Heavy is the cross
Steep is the way to the crest
Make your burden mine?

Black sheep perplexes
A sabbath year has passed on
No release this year!

Adolescent chump
Harshly graded for all times
Stuck on endless loop!

Conformity, no!
Tis my turn to shine like me
Won't make the party?

A boy like me knows
The impossibility
Of you being right

Build a bridge to cross
Destroy all that which you left
As long as you're right...

Broken heart attack
Bludgeoned from all sides, see?
Roll over and die?

Heart in throat, knocking
What fate lies within this time?
Do not speak the name!!!

Able only now
Seeing, hurting, lost for words
Don't give up on me

Lost, not together
Sentences on the great page
Does the story end?

Monday
Nov052007

The Farm

A Piggy.

A Chickey.

A Mother Hen.

Off the Farm.

Free at last. Free at last.

Out of the skillet,

Into the frying pan.

Friday
Oct122007

34

Thirty-four old years
Thirty-four spins 'round the sun
How many more, God?

Monday
Jun112007

That Time Of Year Again

Well, it has been 16 years since I graduated high school. Each year, I invariably think a bit about how things have gone. This year, I thought of writing my reflection anew but instead I reread the posting from last year, and decided that maybe it does just fine to sum up what is on my mind even now, a year later. So why not go back in time and read it all from top to bottom?

Sunday
Apr012007

Roll Over, Gramps

ed and tara tearing up the grassy yard in prep for the gardenMe and Tara weeding and prepping the soil at the new gardenHah. A long time ago when my grandfather used to have me help him tend his tomatoes, he used to mock my avoidance of the dirt part of the work. In his Ohio farmboy-tinged speech, he used to remind me I'd have to get my hands dirty in that line of work. I guess he might be rolling over in his grave on Fort Rosecrans now because I just took the initiative to start a second garden project at home, but this time instead of being the helper boy on someone else's project, I was the one who went and fetched $90 worth of all the soil components (organic compost, chicken manure, and worm castings, based on the first project from last year at Calabrese West), and with the superb help of Kelli and Tara and Kalyn, a mother-daughter pair of friends from our church, we converted about 170 square feet of dingy, fallow soil into the basis of a nice organic garden. This took a lot of shoveling to break up the old soil (pleasantly easy to spank out with a shovel), which had been fallow for maybe six years or more, so we gambled on putting some enriching components into it and hoping for the best. There were weeds and Bermuda grass to shake out of the shoveled clumps. The dirt itself was a good base. We've been into composting for the last three years or so, at the various places we've lived, and this place is no different. So far we've never been able to really employ much of the compost in any gardening projects, but I have generally kept a bin that has done pretty well considering my novice level of expertise.

So we are thinking of planting tomatoes of one or two sorts (this year we will do it on time in the spring), beans, bell peppers, jalapeno, chiles, broccoli, and lettuce, and maybe a few other bits of herbs. Last year there was squash and cucumbers in abundance—and maybe over abundance—and two types of eggplant too, none of which was really my thing. But I did enjoy the beans and peppers a lot. The tomatoes at the old plot were apparently planted too late, and when they did come ripe it was getting too cold to carry that far. But that's because we planted in mid June. This year, it looks like we will get at least two months' head start and have more summer season, and would plant second round plants sometime later.

This project has come after about a year of reflecting on many of the world's problems, and has been one tangible way to practice something of the change I wish to see in the world. The past year too has been a time of my stepping away from electronics more and more, and embracing things that don't send me to fits of anger when things are out of my control. Gardening (or attempting to) can really do wonders for one's world view, I have come to find. Of course none of that was taught to me as a kid. To the younger me, it was a way to get my two dollars an hour so that I could go out and buy toys. (In the mid 80s, it might have been Voltron or The Transformers—sci fi fighting machines from a future age when war was still not abolished or abandoned or seen for the futile and wasteful consumption of resources and life that it is.) No, my grandfather, of Ohio farming stock, didn't really pass on much in the way of lessons on how to cherish life, though in retrospect maybe a bit more attention to growing his tomatoes would have probably filled that bill as much as anything. Can I blame the guy? His life and future was saved by the Navy during the depression years and San Diego and the growing military-industrial complex which turned my desert town into a paradise where he spent more than half his life. While he himself was not particularly a warrior, the military, vast leaps in technology, sustained post-war economic growth and the Republican party were his world. I guess he was happy to not have to do the Ohio farm thing, simply because other systems enabled him not to need to in his age.

ed and tara offloading the truckload of compostOne cubic yard of this compost stuff overflows my truck. Good to have help from Tara!From where I stand, it seems like a lot of that has potential for losing its glory or falling apart altogether. So the effort at gardening—or at least learning enough to be genuinely sympathetic to those who do—is but one part of my willingness to see the world very differently than he. I think his generation and mine are on two different sides of the same peak of technology's life cycle. For his generation, they were the witnesses to the growth of all that would change their lives for the better, at least as they saw it. Technology was something of a religion, it seemed, and that of course is still where we are at now. It is an imperialistic religion. But like all the imperialistic religions that impose their wills on the people who do not need nor want it, it will convulse or possibly die when all the nasty things are brought to light and recognized for what they are. I call this deeper understanding of the dark side of technology by a word of my own coining: "techgnosis". Many people don't have it, or they reject it because the "techno-messiah" is ever-changing and chameleon like and people always find some new techno messiah to anticipate. But the logic is flawed; each techno messiah has come to defeat the other techno messiahs that came before. All our problems are because of the failure of a long line of techno messiahs. Indeed, as Richard Heinberg has said (probably quoting Joseph Tainter), civilization grows ever in complexity, and the old problems of complex social and technological advances are solved with further complexity. But how far does that go? It would be hard to imagine living a life that is any more complex than what we have now, but I know the march will continue on until we use up resources, or suffer from pandemic diseases, or global climate disaster, or something. The point is, the march forward is a march backward because we will never get to the technological promised land while simultaneously growing our population past the point of carrying capacity, and trying to get the entire world to a "developed" state. There is more to life than technology.

I've been thinking that for a man, maybe the closest he could get to being God or a woman (not necessarily saying there has to be a difference!) might have to be in his ability to garden—the role of creator and sustainer enacted as much as possible for mortal men. Men are notorious for destroying things, sometimes just to do so. The men in my formative years had that tendency. They stopped short of hunting for fun, but on the whole, they took more than they gave, or participated in institutions that worked along similar lines. I find myself marveling at the intersection of my current interests in life-giving and sustaining systems—interestingly enough they are Christianity and gardening/permaculture. I guess I have to find the beauty in such things, else I'd be dead because of all I witness in the world, and having to admit that I am a product of a lot of things I loathe. I happen to have a wife who understands and supports all that too, and often leads the way, but we both reinforce each other's findings as we learn about how to be better humans and life forms in general. The people that we hang with more and more understand that critical intersection between the seemingly abstract notion of Christian life and the tangible world of permaculture. If we really are what we eat, then does that make us just industrially produced garbage that moves further and further from the natural world? Is that what God intended for us? Sooner or later, along that path, we can expect to lose more and more of what makes us human, and recklessly embracing that "machine" is sure to spell our doom. And we shall march to our deaths, referring to it as "progress."

We can scientifically show that we aren't particularly made from clay like the Bible says, but the etymological connection between human and earth exists: human and humus. Adam of the Bible had a name that played with the Hebrew word for "earth" in a way that makes it clear that he is an EARTH-ling. Whether or not he was made of earth, the point is made that we are in an inextricable relationship with the earth. It would be good to remember that being of the earth, of the natural world, is not a bad thing. It is not a sin. And when we can subscribe to that belief, maybe we could step back from the endless march to destroy the world with our evermore complicated technological "progress." Sure, we don't call it a march to destroy the world, but why not admit that is what we must do in order to prepare the way for the coming of the techno messiah? I won't be so arrogant to say that Jesus is the only messiah the world will ever know, but I think it is safe to say that the endless march of technology can safely be seen to be a false messiah now that we can see how we must destroy life to save it. That is of course the sort of skewed logic that made the bloodbath of World War One permissible: "The War To End All Wars." A war fought, not insignificantly, with the latest and greatest technology available at the time—some of which were powered or enhanced by the remarkable energy or chemical building blocks available from oil and natural gas. One interesting bit of technology that was employed in that war was certain natural-gas and nitrogen- based toxic chemicals that later were turned into commonly available fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that could help people grow more tomatoes in their back yards or massive agrigoliath farms—but at what cost? Shall we poison the earth and hope that we would remain immune to all that in our food and water? How can anyone's soul rest easily if one takes the time to really reflect on what it means? Living under such conditions is something that some might call HELL. It makes me perfectly ashamed of some people in this land who call themselves Christians but believe that Christ will come when the last tree is felled and the last gallon of oil is burnt to fuel a terrorist fighting war machine or SUV. I assure you, I don't march under that banner. My grandfather probably viewed his little tomato project as a hobby. Of course, it could be just that. None of it was productive enough (even with all his chemical products he used) to really do much, and there was a whole industrial agriculture machine that was growing by leaps and bounds during his life. But folks like me are finding out what a lie all that is, and what we have to do about it. I'm pretty certain I am not doing enough, but considering this stuff isn't in my blood, I have to believe I am off to a start. I can't help it. It is compelling me away from the computer, giving me something real in my life, and if I ever need to, I will have something to pass on to another generation, maybe something useful, unlike some of the technological things I learned twenty, ten, or even five years ago. In 20 years, if anyone even knows the difference between Mac and PC or Ford and Chevy or Coke and Pepsi, they probably won't care because they will want to eat, and people who can help facilitate that will be the real stewards of life's knowledge, just as before. I don't care how great a web designer you are, or a system admin, or an ad executive, television personality, or a fashion model or car detailer, your professions are worthless, or will be in just a few years or decades. Add to that the fact that much of the stuff we surround ourselves with is just our beautiful natural resources turned into junk. Our labor turned into disease, divorce and social meltdown.

Realizing that sort of thing has changed my priorities a lot as of the last year or two. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. A friend from my early days in the music biz told me, "you can live around people who will invite you to live, or around people who will invite you to die." So thanks to Tara and Kalyn, Kelli, and all the people in Lee's orbit who are latched onto something deeper in life and who believe enough is given for all to enjoy.

Thursday
Jan182007

Downsizing

Well, after some deferred action due to much agonizing hand wringing, I decided to finally be good on my word and sell some shit and take the loss so that I might feel my overall load of material stuff is lighter. The most significant sale was my Warwick fretless bass which sold for precisely half the price I paid for it about five and a half years ago. I don't know what is more saddening. Is it the ridiculous sale price that eats at me? Or the fact that I had to fess to not being Jaco Pastorius or Jack Bruce (who plays a snappier version of the Warwick as I had)? Or is it that I really have lost my muse and it doesn't matter what I sell now because it all feels like having vestigial limbs or rolls of fat after a gastric bypass surgery?

The year 2006 was a year of really evaluating what is dear to me, and in the process, I watched as my musical gear and other household stuff just ate at me, even at the thought of its very existence, and for being under my roof. Sometime in the coming months, I will have to move again, and I really can't see dragging all this stuff around, while not using it like I thought I would. Glenn (Cheekymonkeyfunker musical buddy from 2005) tries to talk me out of selling stuff, but the last piece of music remotely worth signing my name to was done with him back in May of that year. All of 2006 came and went with not a single piece of worthwhile music emerging. So I feel that maybe I shot my musical load. So I hit Craigslist hard this last couple weeks to try to clean out the shit that is most redundant or underused. I still have more of that stuff, even before I slash into the core of things, but I am not really clear how I want to progress. But some things are obvious. I blew out a small collection of old, cracked, or otherwise unused cymbals today. Other stuff is on the block, including my first G4 Mac and the monitor that goes with it. I don't know whether I should sell my Pro Tools stuff or not. It is handy just as a sound card, but the presence of it drives me mad, considering how useful it would be if I worked the way I did back in 1995-2000.

I often talk about just heaving shit off a cliff and being done with it. Or heaping it onto a bonfire. Or just smashing it in the driveway. I've had many a thought about how I worked hard in the late 90s to be able to afford that stuff, with it often being a way to fill a void in my life that somehow I feel has been filled by being in a relationship and now married. Other gear was bought with inheritance money from my grandmother, and not insignificantly, I have realized that the shopping spree of 2001 was a huge mistake. The spree was the final blowout of my effort to replace a need for something wholesome in my life with gear that would permit me the means of channeling my fear and anxiety and frankly, hatred for the world into something meaningful. But when I go that far, I say, why would I want to make music now? Why spend all that time? Who cares? I played music for friends in my heyday and they pretended to like it. But now who are my music buddies? Who gives a shit? With mp3s and all the devaluation of the art of music and lack of respect for musicians, how could I ever even pay back my investment? Am I good enough somehow to even call myself a musician? Or am I just a guy who owns a lot of shit that has the potential to make music if someone with talent and vision picks up those tools?

Recording for me was always a very isolated thing. Rare were the days when I actually jammed with people, or actually collaborated. The studio was small, windowless, hidden in many ways. The world outside was harsh. The world inside was freeing. But I had to be very isolated, and I just can't do that anymore, at least not that way. I have a responsibility to Kelli to be present in the marriage, and frankly, the time I spent in the studio has always been well fed by a persistent hatred for how the world works, and the depression that follows. I just can't see returning to that type of life. Other things are too important.

I still pick up a guitar or bass or hit the drums some, but it's just not there. The spirit is just not in me to do that stuff in an original music setting, though I have fun poking around learning something now and again from other music. But it doesn't take my once-significant investment to have the tools to do music at that level. I miss having a keyboard of some sort, and I find myself longing for an acoustic piano again—after selling one in 1996, and also having sold over the years two subsequent electric pianos, and a synthesizer. I don't know why. While in exile in my apartment in late 2005, I found myself longing to have my studio put together again. Now that I have it and everything is ready to work with, I don't use it. All I have is a museum of who I used to be, or so it seems.

Wednesday
Nov292006

Admission

I'm too sexy for my shirt.

But I shall retain it. It's brrr-cold tonight. Definitely not a good night to bike the neighborhood naked. At least not if I want to make a good showing for the ladies!

Sunday
Jun112006

If You Had Asked Me 15 Years Ago

ed in 1990 with his chrome premeier snare drum, posing for the senior portraitsPretty handsome if you excuse the glassesIf you had asked me 15 years ago what I would be doing in 15 years, I would not have answered that I would be helping to lay down organic soil, chicken manure, and worm castings in a backyard garden. Nor would I have said that I would be making dinner (tri-tip steak, "broccis with garlickys," and mash-taters) for my wife and friends. I wouldn't have thought that I'd be ignoring my precious drums in the garage. No, would not have said any of that. But really, back 15 years ago when I was standing out on the football stadium lawn at James Madison High School for the last official time, I didn't really know what I'd be doing at the end of the summer! It's been fifteen years now since I graduated. Damn. Tuesday, June 11, 1991 was a million years ago. It's hard to process it. There are the very tangible things I've done, and I don't know how much of it measures up against my peers, but then again, I hardly ever cared. Some of them probably wish they could live up to my experience.

I've recorded a few CDs. I've gotten married. I've been to Europe twice. I've traveled to Hawaii, Alaska, and toured the states for a few weeks at a time. I've been clinically depressed. I've been unemployed. I've worked too hard for one day, several days in a row. I've constructed fictitious relationships and watched them fall. I've owned two vehicles. I've lost grandparents. I've sort of lost parents too. I've gained a few parent figures in the process. I reconnected with my step mom. I've lusted for music and recording gear to fill massive voids in my life. I've patched up the voids in places and sold the gear. I've ignored the world. I've wanted to change the world. I've lived in six places now. I've had no love and then had conflicted love, then no love again, then great love. I've hated men and machines, and sometimes women too. I've kissed and made up. I've played drums under bridges and freeways, and in the middle of the night. I have no degree but I haven't let my lack of education get in the way of my intelligence which is at an all time high and climbing. I've killed my TV (maybe that's why I am smarter now?) I've killed a drum set. I have been on both sides of the law. I've worked shitty jobs for lots of money, but usually shitty jobs for not enough money. I've done great work that I demand to remain unpaid for. I've taken advantage of people. I've lied. I've stolen. I've used long words strung together in long paragraphs yet succeeded in saying nothing of use. I've bent notes. I've broken chords. I've raged. I've forgotten how to sign my name. I've been a trustee at my church. I've learned web design enough to hate it. I've had roommates enough to hate it. I've had more bass guitars than fingers on my hands. I've had a guitar I never paid for except to remodel it so extensively it's not the same as when I got it. I bought a green set of drums. I have lost some hearing because of it. I have used many different digital recording formats, being most productive and artistic on one of the most limited ones. I've smashed furniture. I've shoveled doggie lawn sausages. I've delivered pizza. I delivered tape stock. I've delivered meals for seniors. I've delivered impromptu speeches. I've moved furniture. I've lost my house. I've done almost three years of solo counseling, and that much couples' work too. I bought a suit for a gig and wore it about two times. I got fat. I've receded and gotten a little gray. I've never purchased a Grateful Dead record. I use soap instead. I've migrated politically from "yeah whatever" to something else that is hopefully more relevant. I smashed a cell phone on the street once. I've used porn. I've been "lucky" enough to be born in an age of madness-as-civilizational-progress. I've overseen the fall of Argentina. I've lost money in the stock market. I've endured one Bush presidency, and two Bush fascist regimes. I've smashed all my plastic models that once brought me great joy and adolescent fame. Drums and guitars are next. I've ridden my bike naked down the street. I've lost gigabytes after gigabytes of recording and computer data. I was briefly "father" for about five weeks but at least it was during the presidency of Bill Clinton. I have eaten a few cows worth of meat, but even more cows worth of cookies. I've worn both boxers and briefs, but not at the same time, and sometimes neither at the same time (!) I've thrown drumsticks at the wall in disgust and utter existential angst. I've smashed printers in disgust and existential angst. I hate Macromedia Flash. I have never smoked, but I do like my craft beers, or the old standby, Karl Strauss. I have mooched much alcohol in days of poverty. I have had "artistic differences" with heroes. I've bought some Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Rush, or Yes recordings three or more times. I've had long conversations. I've eaten sushi. I've worn the pants in the family (but prefer shorts if I must wear anything at all). I've lost friends to misplaced nationalistic comments which even I didn't really believe in. I've trolled on online forums. I've had under-the-gum deep scaling done and found it preferable to regular dentistry which still uses medieval tools of torture. I've worked on the sabbath. (But maybe it's okay since some weeks go by when I don't work at all.) I've lost God. I've found Kelli. (She led me back to the former.) I've smashed a bike onto the concrete. I've lived in sin. I once dressed as a woman to freak out my girlfriend at her high school band practice when I came to pick her up. You shoulda seen my tits! I ignored my grandmother when she fell. I've been greedy but never gambled. I've shaven my head a few times. I was reviewed in a couple music papers. I've pirated music and software and soft drinks. I've been a bad businessman. I've never recouped my investment on gear, and now just want to heave it off a cliff into the ocean but refrain because that might be environmentally unfriendly. I've had friends die of cancer and drug deal murders. I've had family members sacrifice me for monetary gain or write me off as dead. I've blown inheritances but did some better than others. I've listened to more than one side of some stories but will probably never "get it" because I was born a white Christian male in America, ca. late 20th century. Robert Fripp once tapped me on the shoulder and whispered sweet nothings in my ear. I've collected pigs. I've said really ignorant things about people who carry on like pigs. I've damaged vehicles due to carelessness. I've worked at Subway on two occasions, and have been robbed at gunpoint a few times. I took "a couple years off from school" that turned into ten years away. I've painted lots of rooms in my house, a few times. I did a telemarketing job for two days. I have cried. I have lost myself in utter joy. I get verklempt. I like movies about nuclear war. I love The Deer Hunter, Babe, American Beauty, To Kill a Mockingbird, Office Space, Forrest Gump, and Shawshank Redemption. I rip off Robert Fripp in an act called a "Frippoff." I don't believe in the virgin birth but I believe it was the most magnificent thing ever. I was investigated by police once for approximating the physical description of a streaker who shocked some womenfolk at my apartment complex. I've had food fights. I've watched more Rockola, Steve Vai, and top-40/dance band shows than is healthy. I've written songs about the meat processing industry, suburban failure, abortion, anachronistic disco lovers, and one about "when pigs spoke rhyme." I've moved house in two hours, under extreme stress. I've played guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, percussion, vocals, electronic gizmotchies of all sorts, and most of all, COWBELL! I've worked for charity. I've used eBay, but never bought anything off Amazon. I've stayed up all night. Or all day. Or all day and night. I've written page after page of tortured artist journals, and would like to burn them, but the EPA would get on my case for it. I've eaten many a burrito, sometimes two in one day. Burrito consumption might be rivaled by burger consumption. Now it's leveling off with broccoli consumption. I've taken the bus, bike, and have walked, but mostly I stay home now. I've worked for the man, but have also worked for the woman, and found that she wasn't much better. I walked off three jobs in eight months. I've smashed my finger in a car door. Then I painted my nails for the rest of the summer. I never drink coffee. I never use drugs. I've boycotted McDonalds since 1989, Wal Mart since 1996, and other places get my "treatment" too. I have consistently raised my GPA since starting high school. I watched Pink Floyd's The Wall just yesterday, for the first time.

I'm sure there is more, but I wouldn't want to bore you. Nor do I want to provoke the fascists. All this I've done since I graduated fifteen years ago. I don't know if I learned all this in high school. Some of it I did. Some I learned in kindergarten (like how to be mean to people, and to expect my way). I certainly didn't learn to eat my broccoli in kindergarten. A lot of this they don't teach in school. I won't badmouth the school experience like some, though I can understand the sentiments in things like The Wall. Oh, I've been damaged by the system too, but whenever I can, I stay clear of it. I'm finding my way out of debt (school debt—the consumer stuff was nuked earlier), and I am trying to stay minimally employed so I can retain the rightful use of my soul for more productive purposes. Maybe I relate to Forrest Gump because my life has sort of been like the feather on the breeze, but somehow, it's got some purpose. I've come to find the purpose of life is just to live it. Rises, falls—it's all part of the pageant. Pain is a reminder that I'm alive. It happens. Today, (chicken) shit happened. So did peeling potatoes and cooking my broccoli. So did missing my alarm before church. So did sitting at a boring ass church trustee meeting. But then so did talking to Tara at church for an hour in the parking lot. Arguments happen. But so does love, if you let it. I guess I fell out of love with forcing myself to be something I can't be. I think about it—the same question gets posed to me now as then when I graduated. So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

After I get done crossing off the list of things I've tried to do but never really did well—web designer, multi-instrumental musician/composer, pizza delivery man, sound man, sandwich jock, etc. —I sort of have to settle with my simple answer: "Me. I want to be me." They don't teach that in any classroom. Only facets of that can be learned.

My moniker is The Artist Presently Known As Ed. I've used it for ten years now, this summer. It came about while I was wearing my musician hat. I sort of kept it along while I turned to visual computer based art and websites. Now, it seems a little misplaced being that I don't really do much of either now, if at all. But life itself is art, and I gotta make my composition, my collage somehow. What else could I possibly be if not for me? I guess I could carry on being a Dilbert, but why? Why did I find my bliss in making 25 wheelbarrow trips of dirt from front yard to back yesterday when the day before I was ready to throw not one but two computers off the cliff? Is it any wonder? Some things draw the life out of a person. Some put it back in. Right now, situated where I am, how I am, I don't wonder about money and "stuff" except to wonder how I can finally get rid of my albatross. In fact, it's corrupting influence in my life is not welcome now. Been there, done that. Alienation. Not cool anymore. The world will not work that way any longer. That isn't to say it ever really did. But now that I have watched my family collapse in a fit of zero-sum greed and loathing, and all sorts of dysfunction, I want something different. If I don't do that, I may as well curl up and die. Been there, done that too.

Finding one's self is sort of like sculpting from rock. Somehow, Michaelangelo had to know or believe there was a David in the rock. Similarly, I guess I have to know there is an Ed in the rock which I was dealt, and piece by piece, chiselstroke by chiselstroke, I will find that Ed. I just hope that when I find that Ed, I don't find that that Ed is made of rock. If that was the case, I would really have found my father instead. And that would be unacceptable. But maybe that big rock contains an Ed with some soft nougaty core.

Sometimes I lament the lack of a degree because to the outside world, I have not played the game, but often I do allow myself to marvel at how I have dodged some of the terrors of my time—getting locked into an endless cycle of working to consume, working to be in debt, working to destroy one's life while calling it progress. I get drawn into it sometimes, but more times than not, I can cite my short term jobs and declare that most of them never really made me a career slave to the system. There are pitfalls for not playing the game, but because somehow I never bought into the whole bourgeois American Dream of house and cars, I don't need to push myself through all that shit. And it is shit, but not fertile shit. It's my hope that while some of my peers are clamoring to get ahead and using others as ladder rungs, but facing divorce and other life disasters, I might be quietly making my marriage better, and perhaps learning things I would never take the time to learn if all I had to do was work then take my work home with me. Marriage to me is the cornerstone of my world view now. It's not an adjunct that is added onto my career. It's the proving ground for bigger and better things. It's the place where growth can take place. It's the place where healing can take place. (Fixing dinner tonight for wife and friends and working on a shared garden is a far cry from Thanksgiving 1999 when me and my family met total collapse.)

So what do I want to be when I grow up? A human. A real life human with feelings, a conscience, and consciousness of things around me. In some ways, that makes me different. And that's not all so bad. I guess I want to be different like all the other different people out there. But I'm not so hip to being dysfunctional. That I could do without. Been there. Done that.

Thursday
Jun012006

Percussile Dysfunction

the drums set up and mic'ed at Calabrese West studio space.I played my drums today. I had to put part of the kit together to do even that much. I took it all down in early April and left it so for maybe four weeks, then a few weeks ago put part of it together, and abandoned that project like it was no more important than folding laundry I didn't want to fold. I come into the garage here and sit at the computer for hours on end every day, and the kit just sat there in its partially set up state, day after day. Today, for whatever reason, I finally finished the setup and at least tried to go through the classic motions that got me interested in playing almost 17 years ago. I put on the cans and blasted some 80s Yes and some classic Sting material that admittedly used to be the stuff that I conquered back in 1991-94 or so. Well, it is a little less conquered now, and the feeling that sweeps over me for not being able to even keep up with stuff that once was my favorite stuff to play (because I did a pretty good job of faking it back in the day) is just overwhelming. It's saddening for me to feel that it's all gone for me now. My carpal tunnel troubled right arm dealt with it fine except for the ages old feeling of numbness in my fingers that visited me over a decade ago long before any sign of CTS. I chose the stuff I played to today because it was generally regarded to be more straightforward but still exciting enough to play and not go to sleep over. But I still blow it—entrances, exits, fills. I think, 'why try? Who am I trying to kid with this charade?'

A day like today only serves to remind me that I only ever faked my way through whatever music I did. I mostly relied on luck to do things that I did, and without the drive to play often (I don't call it practice—that is exactly what I never really did), it just gets further and further away from me. Once in a while I have a hot fuck with it that evokes the glory days for all of about 20 minutes to an hour, but now getting to be this sad, drawn out falling out of love with music. I've sold some stuff that has been deemed as surplus, and I barely notice it gone. I didn't feel the sting that other sales have had. No, my will to hang on to all these material items is fading, and each frustrated attempt to musically "get it up" is leading me down that path toward selling it all, or maybe even heaping it into a blazing bonfire, or maybe just driving over it with my truck. I think I've proven now that the inspiration isn't in the gear. I waited patiently for some years to see if it was in me, but it doesn't seem to be so. I don't think lyrically like once before. I don't write goofy songs like before. I don't dream of being more mathematical than Fripp like before. I don't just experiment with sounds like before. I don't even turn on my recorder like before. I don't relate to anything like before. And yet, time after time, I have been thwarted in finding any suitable playing partners who make me want to play for fun, and time after time, any good idea has been heaved into the digital dustbin because it didn't measure up to the best of my work on Receiving [info]. I had this nagging feeling while finishing that CD that it would be my last. In effect, it did really make the last real statement on my abilities and drive to complete large statements in music, but the real honor goes to my Hog Heaven Holiday Theme Music [mp3] CD from a few months later. After that, it was on to endless experimentation and incremental failure to do anything that captured my attention for more than a few ideas at a time.

Sunday
May282006

Memorial Day

I wrote this on the weekend as a response to a posting on Craig's List. I won't hold it up as my finest work because it really is sarcasm and doesn't really answer the woman's question (I wasn't really attempting to, but such is the nature of the rants and raves section of CL—anonymous polemics), but it does get to the heart of the matter as I see it. There was one response that said it was the finest piece of anti-war writing that s/he has seen. Dunno bout that, but it comes from a real place in me. The initial post goes like so:

I'm embarassed to say, but as an adult woman, I have no idea the different parts of the military. I don't know which group has admirals and which has generals. I can't look at a man in uniform and distinguish if he's a Marine, Navy or Army. I don't know what those Lego-looking buttons mean or their symbolic meaning. I know they aren't Legos, but they are small, colorful and square. I am totally ignorant. No, I am not from San Diego, but I am a Californian. There are no bases where I live or they were closed by the time I was born. I know dates in history of various wars and battles, but have no idea seeing men in uniform which branch they represent in the military.

Well, as a rule of thumb, the guys with lots of "fruit salad" (as I've heard the so-called Legos called) are the ones who send guys off to war because they themselves have aged out of war, and wanted to share the joy of being shot at and maimed with the younger generation. How benevolent. You can be sure it does not work in the opposite direction: the guys with no fruit salad do not send the old men to war.

Sometimes there is no war to actually fight. So then the services need to look busy until elite and powerful men from Ivy League schools and secret societies and corporations get together and decide to make a new war to keep society arranged in just the right pyramidal form. Between wars is a good time to dream up solutions to the last war that was fought (we still invest in massive aircraft carriers and fighter jets but can't seem to keep a Hummer safe in Iraq). All the while, those soldiers not blessed with a chest of fruit salad are trained to protect the pyramid of social structure (that primarily is upon their shoulders), and the best way they can do it is to work for too little money while mostly not being able to go home for the night to their wives, kids, and whatever else they would do if they worked a "regular job" at KFC or Best Buy. The difference between their roles at such jobs and their role in the military is that they serve different components of the corporate-military complex in the nation. The guy or gal at Best Buy has a shitty job that they can quit at will, then can mooch off the public dole as a "loser". The soldier does not, despite having one of the most truly shitty jobs out there. However, if he does suffer with the program, or get sufficiently hacked to pieces, he can leave service as a "hero" while being paid once again, on the public dole. Either way, they are rewarded in a grossly unfair way, and the taxpayer still foots the bill somehow. Some will lose arms or legs, and the guy at Best Buy or Wal Mart will have his soul sucked out of him.

the dead heroes in flag draped coffins that get flown in discreetly in the middle of the night so people can't really keep too close an eye on the price of the war.As a rule, our military has some of the finest young people around, in that they have some physical prowess and some wild belief they are doing something noble. But you see, the guys with lots of fruit salad are ready to throw them away first. They are so-called heroes, as Gore Vidal would say. Or, as Vidal would elaborate, they are heroes because they are dead. If they were alive, their combat pay would be cut, and their medical support would be lacking were they to need it. And need it they do now. See, more and more soldiers are surviving the sorts of injuries that used to kill men in the field. Now we can somehow get these men saved enough so that they can carry on life as partial-humans who are somehow supposed to feel good that suburban moms put a yellow ribbon magnet on their SUVs to show support for the troops. Somehow its okay that while we can save lives, we can actually return more partially functioning men and women back to the civilian life. More amputees, more brain damage, more of everything that robs young people of a quality of life that they would have coming to them were they not ever taken off to war.

inverted color image of a ford expedition parked at the gravesites in Fort Rosecrans. captioned, some don't see the connection.So does it really matter what all the fruit salad means? Does a soldier with half a leg really make a hero? Or just a guy who took the Kool-aid from some higherups on the pyramid who need a war fought by the poor eschelons of society? Oh, sure, liberty, democracy, and freedom, blah, blah, blah. It's all bullshit in this country. Maybe my grandfather fought for such a thing, but even on the eve of his war (WW2), Dalton Trumbo had already called the score—it's all a bunch of abstract nonsense that is used to get people to fight wars that will gain them nothing, and lose them most everything. Dead men don't know freedom, liberty, nor can they vote assholes like Bush (and company) out of office. Dead men don't enjoy the love from their wives and kids. They don't do much for us except give us some sorry sentimentality for their loss, but never enough to drive us to demand that war become a thing of the past, and that the systems of war be dismantled forever.

"Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." —Dwight Eisenhower