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Entries in doug robinson (2)

Friday
Aug202004

Wedding "Party"

People ask us why we didn't just choose to elope. We wanted a ceremony and reception. Of course we had to do it on the cheap, so there was no wedding planner, no expensive invitations on designer stationery, no renting exotic venues for ceremony and a separate one for reception, no outrageously expensive live band.

Yep, we'z po' folks here. There was one thing that we thought would be a slam dunk, and that was picking our wedding party. Reasonably, we had hoped for four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. But maybe we got off to a late start so people were not as available as we would have hoped. Kelli has some far flung friends, but most of my picks were local. I made a few calls out to people, some were delighted at the offer but unable, some were able but undelighted, and some were able and actually would do it. But those of course came after all the other rounds.

The biggest issue of late was that there was one dude, about 18 years my senior, whom I had originally asked to have as the entertainment (with his band). But he gave me a slippery "no" that was pretty well sugarcoated. Apparently, musicians look at playing weddings like gay men look at women, or something on that order. I asked again when my OTHER live music option quoted me a price so stupidly out of my range (despite being their slave for years, and offering a lot of my own gear and some labor to make it happen). Still, he said no, and never even gave me a chance to talk terms, presuming I would lowball him to an insulting level. I'm cheap, and everyone knows it, but damn, he didn't even give me a chance.

So then, feeling pretty burned that the elder statesmen among friends of mine would not help out that way, I grunted and grumbled at the idea of having to use a DJ. (DJ's, among us musicians and sound reinforcement types, are a lower form of life, you see. They are in a whole other entertainment industry caste. First off, they pretend to be musicians, and from solid practical experience, they don't know how to run sound systems right.) After a few weeks, I was still looking for a best man (I know, this should have been damned easy), and well, I asked this same guy, who this time said he was honored to get that call. Nice. But a few days later, he calls to tell me he and the wifey have a friend of 30 years that is getting married on the same fuggin' day as I am, and he needs to go to that wedding. He told me he was really sorry.

So I am back to the drawing board again. I finally find the best man and he is willing to give no bullshit. By this time, Kelli had only her maid of honor, and we pretty much decided to go with one person each, at least until about three weeks ago when she got another confirmation. So I go ask the usual couple dudes who got the earlier invites, and one can't make it because his mom was dying back in Florida and he was going away. Bummer. True bummer. So I just told him to show up if he was able, just as a guest. Then I turn to my favorite dude (again) who wrote to say he had time to go to my wedding again since his other plans fell through somehow. Joyous occasion. I guess. After a couple days, I tell him I was still interested in having him in the wedding party and had a new opening to include him as groomsman. And he agreed.

I gave him the details about how to get the tux, and he made the arrangements. Then, about a week and a half ago (about a week after he okayed with me he would do this), I sent out an email to best man and groomsman, with a list of common duties that goes with the position. Some were applicable, and others not, and I wrote in a few specific requests for the rehearsal the day before, and the morning of the wedding (it's being held at 5:30 pm so there is lots of time to prep and hopefully relax a bit). I needed help setting up the church patio, with tables, chairs, and the PA, and to fetch the beer, among other things like that. I gave a timeline for events. A week went by and things seemed fine.

This Sunday, I got an email from this dude and he was telling me he had no time to do 'all this' stuff, and didn't know he was going to be asked to do this, and indeed, he said he didn't know what the position was all about anyway! He said he didn't sign up to have his whole Friday and Saturday co-opted, and he went so far as to say he felt like I was taking advantage of him, what with all the setup work, the stag party coordination and the tux that would make him look nice and matched with the best man and I. Well, I thought, why the hell did he not ask what the job entailed? Then I thought maybe I was stupid or hard headed for me to ask a dude to be a part of things when he already weaseled out of my invitations on two and a half occasions before. I kindly reminded him I was not investing $30k on this event, and therefore had no coordinator, band for hire with soundman, professional photographer with assistant, etc., and that I will be doing work myself on the day, and need some help from the only people in the wedding party who's job it is to help the groom. I also said I needed to have him there for the peace of mind that not ANOTHER person would try to get the rehearal rescheduled to a time more convenient for them (our keyboardist was making this request a week earlier and it bugged us). He bothered to bring up some tired out old issues surrounding my depression and my time spent assisting him on his recording projects, and that was when I started to lose it. That was when we started rolling out the laundry list of these things, back and forth, all of which were not germane to the topic--how to get the wedding done in less than two weeks. He loves to ride me for what he deems is my condescending attitude about music, and how it's useless to me, and I don't need it or like to hang out anymore, etc. I was hoping we could have a new experience between us and that time, and maybe one that would be quite different and would maybe send us to a different place. I told him I had a short list of people I wanted at my wedding and none of my family members wanted to be a part of it, but I gave him three shots at actually being a part of the ceremony because I wanted him there. Not good enough.

His reply began with "Ed, your response put my on edge again." Nice. I see where this is going. He got on his high horse about how I had been virtually useless as a depressed engineer last summer, and that he gave me a lot of this and that to help me feel better about it. Well, my idea was that I would help him do his project, and he might teach me some new music theory, arranging, or whathaveyou, and I was hoping for a sit down lesson. I did get regaled with anecdotes and other little bits, but really, the day was a loss if he didn't get what he wanted, and that was some engineering assistance from me. Then he launched into a tirade at how I always seemed to put a price on everything he asked me to do, or I wouldn't do it at all. Well, fuck me. 2003 was one of the most fucking weak money years I've had since I worked at fucking Subway in 1992! Can you blame me for wanting to get paid for working as a tech? That is how I made my money for most of 1995-2003! I donated my time to him because he seemed enthusiastic about me learning some stuff, and offered to play on my stuff, or otherwise give me a way to improve my musicianship. I got a sandwich and a drink for my trouble on each occasion, and some jollity.

Well, this second email of his sufficiently pissed me off that I went on a tirade of my own, and finally told him that we had no relationship now that we did no recording or music activities together. He lives too far away for chance meetings, we don't play ball together, we don't see movies together, we don't smoke weed together, so really, what is left, once I have let music go and have pretty much written those years off as my own personal dark ages? There is nothing left. I wanted the wedding to be an opportunity to send things in a new direction, as he would see me in a far happier surrounding than ever, and would have a couple days of a totally unique bunch of shared experiences. But no, I would be taking advantage of him, and apparently, as he said, he wouldn't even move tables for the friend that also was getting married, but postponed. I wrapped up my email with my admission we had no surviving relationship once there was no talk about preamps and compressors and mics and stuff. I told him I was done with this. Not just the wedding, everything. A short response from him the next day suggested we talk when I calmed down, but I wrote to say, 'no deal... it's done, we're done. I don't need to explain myself anymore.'

Hell of a way to throw a wedding party, eh? Now I can move onward with my happy life.

Monday
Oct132003

I Guess This Doesn't Suck After All

Last week was spent stripping my kitchen of its cupboard doors and refinishing them and repainting the entire kitchen itself. It was something I had on the work sheet for over two years since my grandmother died in early 2001. The cabinets had been in her favorite color: yellow. Two tones of the stuff. Everyone who has lived here since (I’m on roommates six and seven now) has not liked the yellow but was too unmotivated for whatever reason to help me do anything about it. Now with the Gus and Sara, it's been a breeze getting stuff done because all three of us feel like making something of the place. I have my first female roommate in over five years now, and she is really motivated to see the place become home like and livable. After two and a half years of guys who don’t give a shit, that is a blast of fresh air. Hey, imagine always having to make decisions and do all the work yourself then imagine coming home from work one day to find some work is getting done on its own. It is nice to see some interest in the place come from someone other than myself, for a change. Gus the Greek is a hard worker and a great guy who wants to see this place take on the role of “home” too. I want to make the distinction between home and house. All the other people here but for one (the one that later tried to steal from me in the end) have been pretty much the garden variety young male roommates who don’t attach themselves to the place beyond a living space in exchange for some money. But this place is some place I grew up in, and in more recent years, have put a lot of work into. It's hard to keep it up, mostly as far as energy goes, and it's harder when no one helps. I really had to get people in here who would be more respectful and motivated to make it a place to really enjoy. So far, I have been totally jazzed on the fact that some strangers have come in and wanted to make it their own as much as I have. It means a lot to me after some years of the opposite. I’m not into all that feng shui stuff. I just think I’m done with the gross imbalance that has been my domestic life in the last few years.

I was going to say something about how it was 20 years ago that I first started to learn to play drums (with a hiatus for about four or five years in the late 80s). That may or may not be important. What I would like to say is that, now, 20 years after I was beginning to learn my first rock beats, it comes full circle. I played drums on Come and Get It for a Badfinger tribute CD arising out of an online Roland VS recorder group I used to haunt. My buddy and mentor figure Doug Robinson had me over to do studio work several times in the summer before and after I quit music in July. One day, he suggested we play some Badfinger tune, and that I play guitar on it. Well, two things happened: First I felt way inadequate to play guitar, then we found the song actually didn’t have guitar on it at all! So I went to the old standby, suggesting I play drums on it. We cut it in about three rehearsals with Doug on piano and me on his funky and vibey old sounding jazz kit that just got the Ringo feel happening in me. We recorded drums and piano in one room and in one take, with some seemingly random fixes punched in to put some more specific drum fills in (clearly audible if you listen for it, but mostly masked even to me who thought we should do it all over, but Doug persisted in leaving it sort of a hasty job with such human flaws so readily apparent). Then we did the percussion in one pass and he did bass. He sent that recording to a buddy who did the huge multitracked vocals. Doug got the tracks back to his place and mixed them (with a little contribution from me in the form of the warbly effect on his grand piano to simulate the Lennonesque detuned honky tonk piano tone on the original. Paul Horn, drummer in the TAPKAE band for about eight months, gave me props for hitting the feel right on. It's funny, after all the prog rock I have been so keen on, the stuff I still do best is the simple stuff, sort of like the stuff I learned at the very beginning. I don’t have to read it off a page anymore though.

Man, I just want to say how much I love Jethro Tull. I got the Heavy Horses remaster and it just shimmers like a jewel. It took me a long time to really like that album but more and more I find it one of the finest Tull releases ever. I like most all of the ‘77-’87 period best, ironically some of that is least liked by hardcore fans, but I say, hey! Tull is just the beacon for me in music. They are so unlike any other band, as far as I care. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for fallng back on Tull so much, but what can I say? They just come up with the goods for me. Ian Anderson finally made the really cool acoustic solo album he was always expected to make. Rupi’s Dance is really nice music overall. So far there is no tune that turned me off musically. The only bummer is that he can’t sing like he used to up till 1984. He can’t just go for it nearly as much as he used to. His instrumentals are as good as anything he ever did though. Ian is, to me, brilliant. This CD has him doing a lot of instrumental parts from the expected guitar and flute to accordion, bass, piccolo, mandolin and percussion. He has long been an inspiration for me.