Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eco-Friendly, in the Metaphysical sense

I drink a lot of beer… sometimes with my lady, most times with my my friends. Often times I drink alone. All this consumption leaves me with bottles… lots of bottles. After carefully surveying  the minefield for fallen solders I deliberately pack up said bottles and place them in the appropriate bin that my Landlord has been gracious enough to set up for me just outside my home. Before the night is out a rustling can be heard outside my window as a disproportionately small asian woman collects all of the bottles I've so graciously left out for her in the appropriate bin. She knows they'll be there, we've danced this dance before. She is selective, she has no need for cans, or half gallons of milk. She's come for the bottles, and the bottles she will have. Closer to the morning a truck pulls up front, running just behind schedule the sanitation worker is relieved to find a light load of milk containers and cans waiting for him. He quickly scoops them from the appropriate bin and contemplates actually finishing his route ahead of schedule, not a bad way to end the week. 

In 1970 Jimmy Page writes the solo for Stairway to Heaven alone in the basement of a house on Loch Ness. He uses a Fender Telecaster that was given to him by Jeff Beck. The Tele is adorned with Day-Glo Dragons which Page has painted himself. He took an interest in painting and studied in a fine art school after becoming ill touring the english country side in  a van with his buddies. The song becomes the most played ever on American radio and in a moment of chance some twenty years later a young boy pulls a ratty old cassette tape out of a bag full of ratty old cassette tapes. The cover has no words, only four symbols and an old man carrying a bundle of sticks on his back. The boy excitedly pops the tape into the stereo that his grandmother has so graciously set up for him in the corner of his bedroom. He presses play and in a few short minutes decides the entire course of his life. 

Some people get it, most don't… He makes a lot of friends that do, and even falls in love a few times. All along This Road he takes accurate notes and remembers them in the form of song. He uses these songs to start a band and put in motion the plan. The one born so long ago sitting by the stereo, listening to a cassette tape. The plan brings with it many failures, but even more successes and the boy becomes a man. In a moment of calm some years later he sits by the window listening to Stairway, thinking in reverse and feeling the passing of time. His concentration is broken by the clattering of bottles outside and at that moment he decides he needs a beer. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What Do We Open With?

The air is thick 
The room is hot
Focus is a myth and nerves don't exist
Water, god I need water

Attention divided
The open minded
The Savages 
A chance to prove them all right 
the hardest part is walking through the door.

Crack, buzz, hum. Heineken 
its on.

Rip, Rage, Yell, Play, FLIRT, Dance

I knew I could
felt I should 
all I want is now.

My sweat is cool
 close my eyes
give in
and its over.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Astral Lives

The world is round, my peg is square. 

I can readily admit that in most situations I feel uneasy, like that one guy in the room who doesn't get the joke. It's a party of one where ever I go and I carefully observe the herd. I don't quite know why but for some reason the majority of my thoughts tend to focus on my idea of who i'm supposed to be and the crippling realization that I don't quite measure up. The spiritualist in me would say I am too attached to my ego. The artist, that I'm yearning. The 12 year old still thinks he's ugly and that no one really likes him. I'm proud to say that I've mastered the art of balancing out these and the many other characters that exist in my head. Listening to the voices that guide and taking the rest with a grain of salt. 

Part of the reason I love music so much is because of those small moments, when the right song hits at the right time. When solitude or a room full of interaction makes no difference. A calm level of focus and understanding washes over me and the very last thing on my mind is myself. The miracle is cast and the sea parts. Zen, at peace, calm, centered and focused on only the moment. Perfection in an imperfect world. More than any other record, Astral Weeks provides me this feeling. 

Lester Bangs once said "What Astral Weeks deals in are not facts but truths. Astral Weeks, insofar as it can be pinned down, is a record about people stunned by life, completely overwhelmed, stalled in their skins, their ages and selves, paralyzed by the enormity of what in one moment of vision they can comprehend." and to his credit this says more about the etherial beauty of this album than I ever could. 

Funny thing is, I can't remember anything about how the album came into my possession. I don't remember who gave it to me, or how I'd come to hear of it. Maybe the reason is that in the grand scheme of things that is trivial information. What I do remember is hearing Astral Weeks for the first time. Going in, my previous Van Morrison experience consisted of Moondance and Brown Eyed Girl, staples on Q104 New York's Classic Rock! I was not prepared. The first listen confused me. I didn't know what i was hearing. The music was tight, for sure and the voice was full of passion, but none of the lyrics made any sense to me and whats worse he seemed to be singing haphazardly, with little to no attention paid to forming verses or choruses. The songs just seemed to float in and out of each other, running for what seemed like forever or stopping just as things were getting interesting. 

I didn't get it.

So... Very... Embarrassing. 

I wanted more.

For years I'd listen alone, not knowing why, but knowing that I HAD to. The songs became a security blanket for me. Every time life got too hard and I didn't want to think... Astral Weeks. I'd spend hours focusing on every detail trying to find what it was that kept  drawing me back. I'd cry without being sad, laugh out loud for no reason at all. In time the experience became pure catharsis. It didn't matter that I had Cerebral Palsy, or that i was short, awkward and afraid. Something about the feel of the music gave me courage, sometimes even hope. It took everything that had ever happened to me, everything i'd seen or felt and put it in a picture frame for me to view from a distance.

I get it now.

Understanding in the form of a perfect moment.

Off to find more.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Kurt Cobain Effect (talkin' about my generation)

I was 11 years old when I heard the news
Such a let down, the sad ending of a Japanese film
I came as I was and the promise was a lie.

Where were all the buzzards?
No one wants to gather amongst flies.

Hype, expectation, 
capitalism exploited the prophet
A grand "I told you so" and a cocky smile 
that's what you get for having faith 

he's a junky
with a junky wife
and a junky kid

he's money
with Beatles style
and a killer smile

In truth he was a blueprint

how much privacy can we take away?
if we print enough will opinions sway?
don't let facts get in the way of a good story
bury the past in all it's forgotten glory

sadly we've learned nothing
we give ourselves away for free
running from boredom 
trying our hardest not to believe in anything at all
all we know is the build up
and we enjoy it as we wait for the fall

my generation is full of anti climax 

buildings fall, people die and we all float
fuck it
what's on tv?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Few Things Are What My Hoodie is.

Few Things Are What My Hoodie is.
Such comfort. 
Boundless separation from myself or whomever I choose

Art, Pot, your journey in headphones. 
life enjoyed
hoodie on.

Songs in dugouts 

Through the hole in my hood.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How To Hate Music...

My father used to tell me that time was brutal to art. He believed that any work, given enough exposure, would eventually become devalued in the eyes of the public, and even to the individual creator. He cautioned me on my attempts to forge a life for myself centered around music, because he feared that if I began to hate the very thing that sustained me, I would be in danger of a life without purpose. For years we'd argue back and forth, even to the point of heated words. He'd say outlandish things like "Son, one day you may not ever want to hear Stairway To Heaven again!" I'd shout back with rock and roll integrity dripping from my Pearl Jam T-Shirt about the LOVE of music and how the same song could still send a shiver down my spine and remind me of what it was like to be 8 years old, popping that Zep 4 cassette tape in for the first time. Unbeknownst to me, these conversations would actually set the table for an accidental social experiment that is the subject of this blog post.

About 5 years ago my dear friend Rashid (R Jedi for all you twitter birds) generously sold me his Xbox 360 for what I considered to be a very fair price. Around the same time, I was able to use the extra cash to buy a surround sound system off of my buddy Chris (Mr_C_Fox). Upon figuring out the sea of wires and connections that consumed most of one obscenity filled evening, I was finally ready to reap the benefits of my patience and wise spending. I jumped head first into learning all about this new system of mine and it wasn't long before I even figured out a way to hook it up to my Mac, thus giving me the dream of being able to listen to my own music while playing video games in surround sound... HEAVEN! Really, that's all it takes for me.  So I threw in my shiny used copy of whatever the hell NHL game was current at the time and set my music to shuffle.

BWAHHHH WONNNNG "I'm such an asshole, god I'm such a stain." The opening lines to Stabbing Westward's "I Don't Believe" come blaring out at me in a rush of excitement and noise. It had been quite a while since I'd heard the song, as being in my twenties and in a relationship had brought me to new tastes in my daily listening habits. As I listened to the track, cool memories of blasting heavy industrial music with my brother came flashing back to me, so I decided to listen to the whole album... followed by some Nine Inch Nails, then some Gravity Kills, and on and on it went for the rest of the night. A victory in every sense of the word! Here in the course of one evening I'd got a bunch of great new stuff and reconnected with some music from my youth... TAKE THAT DAD!

Everything was all good. In fact, the next day at work all I could think about was what musical adventures were waiting for me once I got home. I booted up my Xbox seconds after walking through the door, set up a game, hit the shuffle button and...  BWAHHHH WONNNNG "I'm such an asshole, god I'm such a stain."  Hmmm what are the chances of that, I remember thinking to myself as I prepared to skip the track. In all my years of owning an ipod and itunes, I couldn't ever remember starting a shuffle session with the same song 2 days in a row. I hit the skip button and was warmly greeted by "Gone." Definitely my most played tune by The Black Crowes at the time, and on I went with more multitasking goodness.

Fast forward 5 years and a lot has changed. My lady and I now enjoy our own apartment, I'm living out my life's ambition in a wonderful band called August On Sunday, I read a lot more, and I'm all around a much wiser and more centered person. Life is definitely good, but some things haven't changed much at all. I still dig hockey and I've still got that Xbox and surround sound and wouldn't you know it, my shuffles still start the same way... BWAHHHH WONNNNG "I'm such an asshole, god I'm such a stain." EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE for the... last... 5... years. I had unknowingly thrust myself into the roll of testing the limits of my fathers theory!

In preparing this blog, the memory of that first night with the Xbox is the only positive experience I have left with the song... hearing that juvenile opening line over and over again took me from a person who once championed Stabbing Westward as an example of an excellent industrial band to where I stand today. I despise Stabbing Westward... in fact this week I deleted their catalogue from my computer so as to make this blog my final experience. I now despise them to the point where if someone mentions them in a room, I become immediately leery of that person. Are you getting this? I'm drawing lines in reality based on how much I can't stand this band's music (which I've only been listening to in 8 second bursts).  Familiarity breeds contempt, repetition leads to understanding, bombardment brings disgust!

So this is the conclusion I've come to. See, my dad was on to something for sure. I just think he devalued the wrong things. The art is still there, a snapshot in time, a feeling forever captured in a moment of honesty. What's truly brutal to art is not time... it's us. We change so much as people from day to day, week to week, year to year, that we begin to resent what we've loved for not being able to effect us the way it once did, or worse, we CLING to it as a gospel of when everything made sense and the world was perfect. The simple fact is, had I not gone through this experience, I wouldn't be listening to Stabbing Westward any more or less then I was 5 years ago. My tastes have expanded and so has my knowledge of rock and roll as an art form. In the pantheon of rock greatness they are very much an average band, and I know that now.

What does this all mean to us today? Well I guess its a cautionary tale of sorts. We live in a world of instant gratification and mass media bombardment. Anything you've ever wanted to know is just a short keystroke away. So are the opinions of millions of people.  In fact, there are so many out there for you that  you could live an entire life of other peoples thoughts and no one would be any the wiser. Music isn't dead, art isn't dead. It's just the era of the extravert, where mean is the new cool and letting your inner self shine is just message board fodder.

Twitter and Charlie Sheen people! being shocking > making sense. 140 characters, easy.