A couple of months ago my dad came down to visit an old friend from his teen years way back in the 1950s. WOW! On the way home from Olivenhain we sprung Medieval Times on him. He was confused. Fair enough, Buena Park is totally not King Arthur's court. Not even close, which is exactly what makes it so awesome.
At turns, our time at the tournament was hilarious and entirely worthwhile, if only because it was so bizarrely corny and creepy. But I just gotta say I felt terrible for the horses. Particularly the sweet boo boo horse that had to do all that bullshit prancing around.
*REAL TALK: Honestly, what horse wants to bounce around on its hind legs while some long-haired fake olden times hessian whips its ass with a twig? Zero. None. Not even one horse wants to do that. Walking backwards and sideways... c'mon. So embarrassing. Really, people wanna see that? Dumb. And man, it made that poor horse so tired. Like, just exhausted. Rivers of hot white snot streaming from its nostrils. Foam flying from the mouth. Hind quarters shuddering from the strain of hopping around on those rear hooves. So dumb. Soooooooo excruciatingly dumb.
And the whole time an annoying announcer asshole wearing a headset blabbing about "the tradition of horse and master... blah blah blah...."
Gnar-bros and bowl trolls schralped the Vans/Pro-Tec Pool Party in Orange, California this past Saturday. Sixteen-year old Pedro Barros won the Pro division with speed lines and huge airs on the hips and corner pockets. *[note the above frame]. The kid deserved it.
Per usual, Chris Miller destroyed everyone and took home his sixth Masters win. It is a joy to watch such a nice person blow so many minds year after year. Even in his mid-40s, Chris is still the perfect bowl skater. Unfortunately I didn't get any shots of him, I was too busy screaming and clapping like a child.
However, I did get a blurry shot of this huevos rancheros beauty pile at Anepalco's Mexican-Parisian Cafe:
I honestly believe it might be the best, most delicious plate of food in all of Orange County. Truly.
Since approximately late-March I've been almost too busy to even just occasionally think about anything even remotely hilarious or halfway interesting. All been a bit of a blur. Some good, some bad.
For those of you busting my ballz about it, I get it.
One's writing is only good if one bothers to write. True enough. In a day or two I'll blast a blob of photos and crappy captions from the past several weeks.
Other than all that, today we're off to the semi-lovely city of Orange, CA for the annual bowl contest at the Vans Skatepark. Should be a real pile-up of old friends and cornball gnar-bros in hella big shorts.
Ugh, I know, I know. Brogging about cars is a total der harshburger. Sowwy. But this post isn't really about cars, or flutes of beer, or suave fire retardant jumpsuits, or "victory," or fans, or "laps," or "NO BLOOD FOR HI-OCTANE PETROL!," or any of the other eyeball rolling bummers generally associated with auto racing. On the contrary, this post is about the Canon 5D camera.
Even if you couldn't give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about race cars or fancy tracks; and even if the vaguely stirring ambient-electronic music doesn't quite move you to tears, nonetheless, you might find this 13-minute film interesting. 24-hours squashed into 13-minutes creates a nice effect. But you've got to watch it all the way through. Why? It is very special, that's why— indeed, less so for the subject of auto racing than for the camera used to capture the content.
While watching the film, perhaps ponder the arc of the 24-hour narrative with a thought given to the various technical details, (lighting, editing, angles and agility of the shots, the vivid color saturation and sharp focus, etc). Doing so, you may well come away from the film with a new nod to your own artistic vision. As in, if you ever had half a mind to make a film, (even just a short music video or experimental film), the Canon 5D may well revolutionize videography for the purpose of storytelling. Which is to say, most people rarely, if ever, make the leap from shooting occasional digital photos to making films (shorts, features, docs, etc), because the cost of doing so is too prohibitively expensive. Most of us simply cannot afford to go out and drop an ass load of loot on serious film and/or digital video cameras. We can't. That is, until now.
For a meager $2,500.00 clams, Canon's new professional-grade consumer DSLR camera allows you, me, and the girl down the block to shoot film quality video images. To put this in perspective, similar technology in other video cameras runs upwards of $20,000.00. Though $2,500.00 is still a lot of dough for most folks, it is nonetheless a hell of a lot less cash than $20K. With enough ingenuity, you could conceivably shoot an absolutely beautiful feature-length film on this thing. In HD no less.
This 13-minute/24-hour film offers ample proof. In every kind of lighting situation imaginable, at all hours of the day and night, the videographers got every sort of shot one would need to tell a compelling story. All done on one type of camera, the 5D, utilizing a format heretofore only available to "professionals" with budgets and financial backers.
Lots of pretty colors. Staggering depth of field. Portable as a baby dog. Relatively lightweight. Conveniently sized. Ergonomically correct. Easy to handle in tight quarters and under extreme circumstances, (say, for example you want to shoot a film about rock climbing or "moshing in the pit").
In many regards, the 5D marks a lovely leap forward for filmmakers and storytellers. It has the potential to put the power of cinema into the hands of anyone who wants to try their hand at the medium. To me, this is very exciting. Worth brogging about? Maybe not. But that's for you to decide.
And, while I've never quite understood the allure of auto racing, after watching this short film, I feel as if I can sort of understand it now. It isn't just about engineers, pit crews and race car drivers simply going around and around in circles trying to win a race. It is about people working together to accomplish a shared goal within a short time frame. It is about focus and passion. Perhaps saying this is corny. Maybe so, but oh well. I'm often late to the wake up.
In a world where we all too routinely define ourselves by how different we imagine ourselves to be from those around us (healthier, shorter, hipper, smarter, uglier, wealthier, less experienced, born under a bad sign, etc), it is nice to see a 13-minute film so eloquently (but wordlessly!) express a genuine moment of togetherness and common purpose in action. That it revolves around cars is of no consequence or significance. To me, it could've just as easily been a Canon 5D 24-hour film about "a day in the life of" a punk festival, a skate contest, or an NGO administering relief aid in Haiti.
And, for those cynics out there, the film is also fun to watch because it is about very expensive things falling apart, grinding to a halt and catching fire. It is about watching grown men cry; sometimes in despair, sometimes with joy. Which is also rather nice. Enjoy.
I've been back from Austin now, maybe, almost a week? Arrived home Tuesday? Not quite sure. These things all blur after awhile. Hi Tammy!
Before I blab my face off about all the blah blah blah that happened this past week in Austin, Texas, I figure I should make a brog of all the lurker bees and heavy bros we were spazzing with in the days before Texas. Otherwise, a whole lotta good friends and sweet photos are gonna get short shrift. Time is a tyrant. *[Side note: I'm listening to Japanese noise band Boris and organizing my taxes while cobbling this brog together. Three completely different tasks, each requiring uniquely specialized parts of the brain. On a Saturday night, no less. Not all that smart, really. Throw another pile on the pile, I suppose.] Here goes:
Ben Pruess came home from Germany for a short visit before heading up to Jeff Pensiero's Baldface Lodge in Canada. Sim, nice nails. Yes, Monica's hands are fairly mesmerizing. Agreed. Get loose.
Atiba Jefferson... smashed and smashing. Thursdays at the Ha Ha.
That sign is 100% hectic fun.
The Anzalone. Punk's not dead.
J. Spears... the best.
Alex... on the eve of his fateful return to Washington State. Godspeed and good luck, my friend. You'll be home soon. *[Side note: Actually, he arrived back yesterday!].
Oh hi, Echo Park. In the hood, fire bombing is the new fun.
Matzah. 23 going on 83 going on 17. Nice pizza tattoo. Always thinkin' ahead.
Fasil & Melissa came to town. He snatched that beautiful MIJ Tele Thinline at Ventura Music in Studio City. Here he's playing some weird Heritage brand 335 copy. Buh nuh nuh nuh nuh.... sho nuff got duh blooze. "Sweet tones," but the sunburst finish made it look like a barbecued potato chip covered in feathers. Sorry, I said it. *[On a related note, notice the "Miller Beer" guitar hanging on the far wall. Somebody should probably buy that thing RIGHT NOW].
Hi Ruthie. $5 dollar Burger Night is so successful.
Matt Goldman threw a "later daze, bro" party for Jimmy Jolliff (Brother Reade/Widows). He and Eleanor will be living in NYC for the next year while she's dancing. I like it, I hate it. Jimmy's production partner Erin Garcia's still gonna be here, however, so I'm not entirely gutted. Go to Bad Beat LA.
And there he is—Jimmy Jolliff. Bearded... handsome... robust... wearing an ancient Apple Computers sweatshirt... charismatic as all hell... and shooting the breeze with Krissie.
Geoff Sawyer & James Outlaw... eyeball to eyeball, debating the death of hip hop. As long as somebody's got EPMD within earshot, hip hop will never die.
Pound for pound, inch for inch... Jason Stewart (a/k/a Them Jeans) might very well be the most solid, consistently interesting DJ in Los Angeles. Good dude. Calm. Very funny. Epic ear for the right sound at the right moment.
Anna Oxygen. The Smell. March 12, 2010. Fearless. Beautiful. Hilarious. Girl, you got a lotta voice and vision. Perseverance every day.
Oh hi, Glendale. You are so vast and mysterious. Just when Tam and I thought we knew what was up with you, you reveal another 12,000 weird things about yourself. Like your massive northern parks region. Those views, trails, and mountains... and all those Armenian kids jumping in and out of stretched limos and posing for prom photos... had no idea.
And this thing! Not only is this secret building beautiful, Tammy also managed to capture my bummer Kentucky waterfall. Thanks Tam! Had no idea (Part II). Might soon be time to get a handle on that.
Hi Dan, you seem tired here. I understand. I'm tired too. Luis, nice jacket. You look comfy, tan and well-rested. Very casual, but refined. A nice counterpoint to Dan's butchy Minnesota woodsman vibe. Dudes, good work on the THIS Gallery in Highland Park. Y'all been busy. LOOKS GREAT, FEELS NICE. I foresee a lot of good times here this summer.
Wow, James, twice in one post. Wild. This was the night of Baby K's B Day! We arrived hella late, serious dog house vibes. Sorry Charlies. All day, cosmic bummers befell us left and right. And, to be honest, I have a hard time lurking at the Ha Ha now that I ain't on the clock. Anytime I'm there my brain just wants to make drinks or pick up dirty glasses. Zero relaxation up in that piece. And, to be honest (Part II), this was on my mind...
Just 45 miles and 51 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles...
.... you can stand on a mountaintop staring at a great big American flag, pondering the pointlessness of it all, or you can go....
Shredding. Natural wonder.
This guy looks so fantastic. The placard in the lower right corner says "WE MISS HIM." I bet. His vibe is absolutely incredible. Wherever you are, whatever you became after this... you still make it happen right here on earth.
Same with this lady! She was AWESOME. Drunk and hella chirpy. Tammy snuck this photo while she caught a cat nap. Good job Tammy! Her one-piece ski suit was purple, of course. Off camera, Kevin Willis is lecturing me about the continued relevance of NW grunge. Astounding how his brain works sometimes.
Nice flask, Kevin. You are a rascal.
Nice flask (Part II), Tammy. You are a marvelous rascal.
And with that, the next morning I split for Texas. From serenity to six days of solid mayhem in the span of hours.
I'm so glad to be home. We've been back a little more than a week now. Trying to wrap our heads around what it means to be back after almost two months away. So much to do ahead. So much to remember:
Seven weeks, seven phone conferences, two broken wireless Internet links, forty-five days of rain, ninety cups of coffee, one hundred and eighty shots of espresso, thirteen guitars, two pianos, one-thousand-seven hundred & twenty-three digital tracks, fourteen songs, four-thousand miles, two cars, six hundred and twenty-five photographs, four skateparks, five car repair shops, three hotels, nine dogs, two ghosts... and God knows how many quick meals and weird pillows. This is what the past two months have been in my brain.
While I generally prefer traveling around or being in a recording studio to most things in life, I'm damn happy to be home. From Seattle-to-Portland-to-SF-to-Santa Cruz-to-Aptos-to-Salinas-to-Monterey-to-Los Angeles. While our time in Seattle was entirely productive and fun, the slow slog home was a near-total disaster. A rolling bad neighborhood. Eight days of non-stop car trouble. Maybe more? Ten days? No idea.
By day, working on my laptop wherever I could find Internet. By night, creeping down the rainy, foggy west coast. Bleeding money. Every day and in every way... gushing heaps of cash trying to get home. So fucked. Bearded. Tired. Black eyes. Heart racing. Sleepless. No laundromat blues. Days on end donning an orange neon t-shirt with a baby blue sweatshirt and crummy white socks bought at Walgreen's. Classy guy. Maximized potential. Snappy dresser.
While driving from Seattle to Portland, after 23 years and 283,000 miles of near-magical service, Wheezy the Walrus lost her heater core, thermostat, wiper motors, and... you name it. Though her engine, manual transmission, and epic stereo are strong as ever, everything else is quickly on the way out. That lil '87 BMW 535i is the finest car I've ever owned. Sigh o'clock, even the greats eventually gotta go.
*[PHOTO: Better days will haunt you. Tammy & Wheezy in the Angeles National Forest, Summer '09]
So with no time to laze around, (work loomed large in SF), I stashed Wheezy at an RV & moorage joint on Hayden Island and began searching for another car. After a marathon session of research, in a fit of optimism I bought a 2002 Audi wagon.
Normally I think long and hard about buying anything over a few hundred bucks. I don't often make corny impulse purchases that I later regret. Which is to say I don't ever spazz out and sign on the dotted line. Instead, I try to learn everything I can about a thing and usually still manage to talk myself out of buying it. Why? Probably because I was raised by grandparents who drilled the horrors of The Great Depression into my head. Maybe because my dad made me wear waffle stompers and ride a girl's bike all through elementary school because we were too poor to buy sneakers and a proper bmx. Maybe because I've preferred quality over flash my whole life. Maybe because I've been too broke to "splurge" on anything, like, ever. Man, "splurge" is such a bummer word. I just completely grossed myself out. Sorry, Arlie.
Anyway (Part II), this time I signed on the dotted line like a rube. Why? Partly because I was in a rush, and partly because the dealer talked a lot of jive and offered vague, misleading answers to my questions about the health and history of the car. Like a dumb ass, for the first time in my life I didn't have a mechanic check out the car before purchasing it. The Carfax claimed it was solid. The price was good. The miles & tires were believable. I needed to get on the road to SF, so I just bit the bullet and got it.
In general, this make & model of vehicle has a good track record for reliability. [PSYCHE!] It's all-wheel drive system is great in the snow and on wet roads. Lots of storage space for amps, skateboards, guitars, logs, babies, old people, and rickety furniture. It got great reviews on cargurus, autotrader, epinions, edmunds, kelly blue book, etc.. All positive. No accidents. Heated seats. Cup holders. Cruise control. Leg room. Air bags. Moon roof. And, I was in immediate need of a "reliable" car. So... I allowed myself to believe what I was being told by the dealer. Like, I wanted to believe.
"This car's in perfect working condition. It's a one-owner vehicle, spent its whole life always maintained at Audi Mission Viejo. Needs nothing. All maintenance has been done. You'll have no problem getting home to Los Angeles and driving it for the next 3 years. This will be a perfect, problem-free car for the next 3 YEARS for you..." Blah blah blah.
Sadly, within less than 200 miles, I realized buying it was a bad move. A ruinous move. An annihilation move. Wicked burned. Small wonder, nursing a newly purchased used car from Portland to Los Angeles is not all that awesome. Sigh. WORD TO THE WISE: DO NOT buy a car from a guy named Andrew Rider at Rider European Vehicles in Portland, Oregon. Man, so dishonest. To mislead a buyer and misrepresent the health of the vehicle to this degree is just, wow. WOW. Andrew Rider is a liar to the 10th power. Total liar. And I am a moron.
About 151 miles outside of Portland the "check engine" light went on. Turns out the vacuum tubes are corroded due to deferred maintenance. All must be replaced before I can legally smog and register it here in California. Another $419 clams. Soon after the "check engine" light went on, the "Low Oil Pressure" light went on. This is what happens when the dealer fails to give it an oil change & diagnostic before selling it. Checking the dipstick on a car I'd just bought, discovering it has NO OIL IN IT sucks. As well, the engine mounts are cracked, so that when you rev the engine you can see it torque and lunge, as if wanting to leap out onto the pavement. Them little bolts are gonna cost around $500 bucks to replace. Awesome.
Rolling into San Francisco, the car began making a high-pitched screaming sound from under the hood...a few days later resulting in a snapped serpentine belt and broken tensioner. Cost? $619.37. Total loss of power steering. Strong arming the steering wheel across three lanes and down the onramp to the loneliest Shell Station in lonely Salinas, CA. Was I surprised? I was! And sad. We stayed at a Best Western resembling the White House and ate misery burgers at a miserable little diner across the parking lot. I spent the rest of the night figuring out how I was going to get the car towed to a town with a decent foreign auto repair shop. Salinas seemed like a place just as happy to take your life as take your wallet.
Let's see... what else happened?
Turns out, the entire front end needs rebuilding (torn CV boot, wrecked axle, etc...). Another $1,400 clams. And, according to the mechanic's computer diagnostic, the Climate Control system is failing. Brakes are flagging. So on and so forth. All of this is repairable, of course. Andrew Rider, however, claimed the car was in top shape. No immediate need for maintenance or repairs. SOOOOOOO MUCH LYING.
Eventually the car will be almost good as new, but at tremendous expense, which I made clear was not at all what I was looking to buy. And he knew this very well. Am I at all surprised? I am. And terribly disappointed. And, I'll say it, disgusted. And now very broke for a long while to come. If there's a hell, Andrew Rider of Rider European Vehicles in Portland, Oregon is 100% likely to burn in it.
Was there a silver lining to all this car drama and financial woe?
Well, while stranded in Monterey, CA some 337 miles from Echo Park, we stayed in the Monterey Hotel (built in 1904 during the Victorian era), which was weird/surprisingly nice. Oh, and we got to see The White Ribbon at the Osio Theater in downtown Monterey. Incredible film. Really, just a massively interesting, entertaining film. Oh, and we learned about Moffett Field and the secret beauty of blimps.
After coughing up mad cash for a serpentine belt and tensioner + two nights in a hotel + six semi-creepy meals = we were back on the road. Rough justice.
Anyway (Part III), enough of that. It is time to share photos of a few faces and places at various stops along the long journey home. Enjoy.
This is a bust of the blue boy. Maybe? Or perhaps a bust of Danzig as a child before the taint of evil captured his dark, dark heart. SF antique shop find.
The 3rd dimension gazing on the 2nd dimension while the 4th dimension looks on.
Rene. Everywhere you go & everything you do looks like a 1970s Bob Rafelson film.
Marcel. Dutch vibes. Good sweater.
Totally Tammy back from the wilds of Wales & Northern England. British Iraqi vibes.
Fat Dawg's "art car." Harsh tokes on the weed pipe of life.
Hi Dave. Thanks for the car care advice. Sadly, you were right.
*[A few weeks back, I spent MLK Jr.'s birthday recording in Seattle & thinking of his legacy. I'm sure you're all like, "Yeah right." But it is true, I swear to God. No exaggeration to say the MLK Jr. Day of Service is the holiday I look forward to the most. Christmas? Never. Halloween? A distant second. Easter? Not a chance. King's birthday is my favorite holiday! Why? Because it actually counts for something tangible, something real, something culturally relevant and emotionally resonant. His life was proof that goodwill & guts trumps ingrained injustice and outmoded social conventions. Rather than a holiday that is expressed outwardly with lots of prefab bells & whistles, it is a day I feel very much on a personal, internal level.
He helped change where we live, how we live, where we go to school, and how we relate to each other on a daily basis. Thanks to Martin, many people of my generation think markedly differently from that of all preceding American generations. Matters of civil rights, human rights, race, poverty, power, education, sexuality, and social justice... are all different thanks to his vision and his sacrifice].
Back to the brog in progress...
Why did I just go on about Martin for so long? It is 2:31AM and I'm so very tired. This brog is a heap. So disjointed. A cluster of random dots... semi-connecting.
While in SF I went to Subway Guitars with Dave Fenton & Totally Tammy in hopes of finding a resonator or baritone guitar. Instead I left with a few lovely photos of those images of MLK Jr. posted on the front door of the guitar shop. Regardless of how much of an eccentric pain in the ass Fat Dog might be, he's got one thing right—he remembers King's legacy.
Speaking of Fat Dog... go to Subway Guitars in Berkeley, CA. But go prepared to be annoyed. Yeah, you'll sort of get yelled at. Yeah, you'll feel confused the entire time. Yeah, be prepared to have crass remarks lobbed your way. Yeah, you'll be told you can't buy certain guitars... trade only.
It is perhaps the most perplexing guitar shop in America. But you'll be awed by a few of the guitars in there. Excellent deals and hard to find weirdness. More than that, if you can find your way past the guitar shop banter, you'll come to see there's a lot more on Subway's agenda than simply selling second hand guitars to shredders, punkers, folkies, and jazz nerds.
Guitars just skim the surface.
For 40 years, many community-oriented cultural, political, and civil rights actions have found their genesis in this little guitar shop in Berkeley. It is a quirky institution well deserving of your time, your dollars, and your good humor. And, if Fat Dog acts like a jerk, don't be surprised. He's a jaded Berkeley hippie with left-wing political agendas and a right winger's brutal bluster. He'll confuse & bully the hell out of you if you let him. If you let it all roll off your back, you'll have a unique experience and may just walk away with a guitar you'll love for the rest of your life.
Just look for the house/guitar shop & the olde timey car painted to look like a) the sky, b) puffs of weed smoke hot off a bong rip, or c) clouds in your coffee.
If a crusty guitar shop can define the essence of old school Berkeley, then surely new school San Francisco can be summed up via this gold handbag showcased behind bulletproof glass in downtown's gigantic Union Square mall. Glamour trash to the max for five city blocks in all directions.
Hi Nic, wonderful running into you at that mega-little skatepark. Squirrely round coping on 8-inch high manual pads. Onward and upward, my friend.
Dusky coastal vibes. Y'know, when you really think about it, the ocean is a big deal.
"Wishing for life to go backwards forever"... is not my bag. Hi Tammy! Time to get on the road.
Hi Santa Cruz, California.
Lovers in love. Good move, Ally.
Ye olden oil on canvas. Probz not showing at an LA group show any time soon.
"It's never too late change your mind."
Hi Brett Sigur. Aptos, CA. Had no idea.
We discovered a half labrador retriever/half poodle thing in Monterey, CA. He was nice.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Elegant. Fun. Easy to work. Hard to find parts. Probably should have bought this.
As the car was getting worked on in Monterey, I rolled around in the town's skatepark. It is a total pile. Puddles, weird angles, bad flow, blah blah... The kids in this photo spent more time trying to ollie each other's boards than they did schralping the park. Seriously, the terrain's transitions were that lame. Despite its crap curves, it wasn't the worst skatepark I've ever pushed around in. Eventually I got to shooting the breeze with a few of the park's skaters, one of whom told me, "What's there to do in Monterey? Well, pretty much nothin'. Without this skatepark, I'd probably just be sittin' around doin' heroin. That's all there is to do in this town." As he said it, two other dudes just nodded their agreement. Mega bummer. Given that revelation, I'm deeply happy this little skatepark exists. Fellas, keep skateboarding. It's hard to skate, make cash, see the world, and get laid when you're all strung out on junk. Skateboarding, on the other hand, can show you the world. It can expand the scope of your life.
Tammy doesn't do junk. When things are bad, she prefers frozen strawberry margaritas.
Drink up, buttercup! Hanging out with me while in the throes of this vibe probably wasn't all that rad. Or was it? I can't remember.
The Olympics have been happening. Luging tragedy aside, it's been fun to watch. Hockey. Giant Slalom. Ice Skating. Rifles & Cross-country skis. Curling weirdness. All a bit daft, but fun. Shaun's work in the men's halfpipe was undeniable. Still, I wish Danny Davis & Kevin Pearce had been in the mix. Rest up, fellas, your time will come.
I'll say it again, go see The White Ribbon.
When we finally got to Los Angeles, this is what awaited us in our home. Creepy Leigh LeDare and his creepy moustache and creepy trenchcoat harassing Mia & baby dog Beyonce. A real homecoming lurkfest.
Soon as I got home, Sean Carlson roped me into seeing Cold Cave at the Echoplex. Jennifer Clavin is now tinkling the synths. Good times made better.
Next day, I stopped by Arty's office in Los Feliz. Of all the Los Angeles places, meals, and faces... Arty Nelson is one of the best things this town has to offer. Perspective, jokes, knowledge, skills, hot tips on better eating experiences around town.
As I stare at this thing before posting it, I just gotta say even I know this entry is nearly unreadable. Really, it is just shamefully bad. Sorry. It's been a hell ride. Fourteen posts all brogged into one monster post. Impossibly dense. Impossibly dumb. No time for brogging. Whining about car trouble is lame, I know. My apologies for putting anyone through it. I've been busy. I've been angry.
Hopefully there's enough funny and/or halfway interesting crap in this thing to have made worth your while. The next brog will, hopefully, be a bit more focused.
Oh wow, hold on, as I type this I'm sitting here watching the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. The whole thing just went from semi-heartwarming to excruciating. Man, just when I was all waxing sentimental about The Games, it turned into a heap.
"Well now, that looks a mess, doesn't it?"
Sure does, Tammy.
Thousands of white sweaters and fake snowboards just ruined the 21st Olympic Games.
Till next post, be well. Have nice times. And, if you think it, please say a few kinds words for the folks in Chile & Haiti before you go to sleep. Unreal is here now.
Lately I've been thinking an awful lot about parallel themes in artist's lives. Problematic. Comforting. Unavoidable. Or is it something else? Tonight I'm gonna go with comforting.
Prior generations loved Anton Chekhov. Mine loves Charles Bukowski. And I love them both. Soaking it in until I'm soaking in it. Like Palmolive. To my mind, Chekhov and Bukowski offer a kind of venn diagram of the human condition. One lived his life in pre-Soviet Russia as a dapper medical doctor by day and writer by night. The other was a sensitive, defensive, degenerate drunk 24/7, typewriter at the ready or not. One shaved every day, wore a monocle, carried a pocket watch, and strolled thoughtfully with a rather useless cane. The other carved his face up in bar fights and backroom boxing matches. Especially when his stories and poems were met with rejection letters.
Bukowski was born in Germany one year prior to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, soon thereafter emigrating with his parents to Los Angeles. Sixteen years before the world gave us The Dirty Old Man, Chekhov died from Tuberculosis at age 44. He'd spent his entire life in a Russia ruled by the Czars. It was a very different world from the one Bukowski would inherit as a 20th Century writer. For Chekhov there would be no WWI, no WWII, no atom bomb, no Israel, no Buddy Holly, no bullet trains, no Coors Light, no NASCAR. No God Particle or Large Hadron Collider menacingly (or mercifully) appeared on his horizon.
Their places and times were quite different in most day to day ways. And yet, each spent his writing hours expressing similar universal truths and artistic ideas; their observations on the human condition overlapping more than one would at first imagine. Each spent his creative life adding his stories to an ever expanding pile stretching back 10,000 years. Trillions of words and depictions. Cubes within cubes with cubes...wheels within wheels without end.
It is not important to say new things. By design the human condition is redundant. Repetition, repetition, repetition... endless, mindful repetitiiiiiiiiion ad infinitum, until one day it is all done. All gone. Day to day life is an exercise in loneliness, laughter and death. Eating and waking. Running around and laying in wait. Bleeding out and drinking in. Crying and trying to forget about the crying. Walking in the light. Willfully wandering into darkness. Violence and doubt. Moments of grace and impermanent reprieves. Does it get easier? Does it all get more complicated as the centuries roll on? Or is it all just variations on a theme? Does any of it matter? I have no idea. All I know is this—life is long. And it is longer still without something to creative to do.
At some point I determined that the only thing of importance in life is to say things in your own way and in your own time. That's it. All the rest of it is just window dressing and hard lessons learned. Kids, marriage, parents, siblings, home ownership, jobs... All of it is just totally pointless without the aid of an inner creative life and some sort of external conduit for getting one's creative works into the world.
Little by little, however, over the past six years I've begun to forget this. When it comes to mind, it strikes like a revelation. It comes on like a flashlight. Suddenly a fog is lifted and I recall that I'm supposed to do this thing that I'm doing here. I'm supposed to write. I'm supposed to spend my time thinking about writing. Reflecting on writing. And then writing some more. Songs and stories, this is supposed to be my path through life. It chose me as much as I chose it. Otherwise, Carver's rivers would not come to mind and move me as they do.
Time is everything and nothing. Drew O'Doherty recently reminded me that time is the weapon of time. To live in fear of it, you get little done worth calling an accomplishment. To wait for your life to become more than it is, you accomplish even less. I do not worry about the past or crave a better future so long as the work I do in the right now feels like its worth a damn.
But it is the doing and then the waiting that can become one's undoing, isn't it? The seesaw. The climb up the summit and the tumble down...for infinitude. Every word has been written, every note has been played. True. Every day it is my blessing and my curse to select the words and play the notes I like. In whatever ways I can. Otherwise, all of this day to day living offers too little and takes too much.
a woman, a tire that’s flat, a disease, a desire: fears in front of you, fears that hold so still you can study them like pieces on a chessboard… it’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse. death he’s ready for, or murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood… no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse… not the death of his love but a shoelace that snaps with no time left … The dread of life is that swarm of trivialities that can kill quicker than cancer and which are always there - licence plates or taxes or expired driver’s license, or hiring or firing, doing it or having it done to you, or roaches or flies or a broken hook on a screen, or out of gas or too much gas, the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk, the president doesn’t care and the governor’s crazy. lightswitch broken, mattress like a porcupine; $105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at sears roebuck; and the phone bill’s up and the, market’s down and the toilet chain is broken, and the light has burned out - the hall light, the front light, the back light, the inner light; it’s darker than hell and twice as expensive. then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails and people who insist they’re your friends; there’s always that and worse; leaky faucet, christ and christmas; blue salami, 9 day rains, 50 cent avocados and purple liverwurst.
or making it as a waitress at norm’s on the split shift, or as an emptier of bedpans, or as a carwash or a busboy or a stealer of old lady’s purses leaving them screaming on the sidewalks with broken arms at the age of 80.
suddenly 2 red lights in your rear view mirror and blood in your underwear; toothache, and $979 for a bridge $300 for a gold tooth, and china and russia and america, and long hair and short hair and no hair, and beards and no faces, and plenty of zigzag but no pot, except maybe one to piss in and the other one around your gut.
with each broken shoelace out of one hundred broken shoelaces, one man, one woman, one thing enters a madhouse.