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Monday, April 14, 2003
The past week has included a house fire at the folks' place, contained by brother Brian's dexterity with a fire extinguisher, but frightening nonetheless and requiring insurance agent visits and upcoming remodeling. Not two days later, we were rear-ended at a red light. Brian, David, his date Becca and I were returning from a cousin's wedding at the time. Everyone's OK, but the car ain't. All these things atop all other day-to-day crap and the ongoing ups and downs of the pregnancy have made for the tw-tw-twitch. I hope for calm and sweet boredom in coming weeks.
This partial account of the daily traumarama (if "traumerai" means "dreaming" then whence "trauma?" I'll do a linguistic investigation, but for now I can only wish these things were dreams), along with long sleepless nights watching the war, might explain outbursts like my NYC smoking-ban screed (which is truly moot, as I shouldn't be drinking or smoking anyway). The other major issue is the practical side of our upcoming parenthood. Apart from other issues less germane to this blog's default bailiwick (which is, largely, my undistinguished career in music), a major concern rears up. It's twofold: how do I make money now and what becomes of my artistic delusion? These are obviously of unequal significance, the former being important and the latter anything but. Making money is my new task, and any ideas or offers would be welcome. Music, the successor to my earlier - equally deluded - ambition as a cartoonist/illustrator has been the thing that defined me for nearly 20 years now. That definition has seldom been flattering. But I'll piss about it a little, since my few remaining blog perusers must have at least a measure of sympathy for the issue or you wouldn't be reading this now.
It's maybe coincidental, maybe not, that this looming, complete change in life comes at the exact point when I have accepted defeat in the music pursuit. What I mean by this is that I can no longer kid myself that there is great work in me waiting to get out. The work that has been made so far proves that, but that's no shame. The real shame is that I can think of no way to retrieve any financial advantage from these many years of effort. I'd sell the complete rights to my songs and recordings to any fair bidder if that were possible (it isn't, but I am sincerely open to offers); none of it means much to me in terms of property or accomplishment. If it represents anything, it's a sort of demonstration of stubbornness. There are not too many people who'd have stuck with this for so long under the circumstances, and there is a measure of satisfaction in having made these things against complete apathy and seen them through to national release on a legit label. Nobody will ever take that from me. It would have been helpful if they'd succeeded in commercial terms, even to the degree that I could continue the pursuit as a modest source of additional revenue for the family. Any such possibility would be welcomed, but the likelihood is minute.
On one of the recent insomniac nights I listened to all 3 KRS albums and the Skels post-mortem cd in reverse order. There's a lot to be said for the work, I think, but it would only mean something if someone else said it. Those friends who've responded to it seem to indicate that part of what I hear in it actually transmits. The friends whom I respect the most in terms of their own talent and keen minds for music have validated the good parts with their comments and revealed the bad parts with their avoidance of comment, which is just as eloquent. I only wish I'd had such perspective myself, but maybe then I'd never have done any of it, since the respectable mediocrity of the stuff falls short of the grand ambition behind it and the burden of personal vindication I placed upon it. It would have been better if it all could simply represent the fruits of a hobby well integrated into an otherwise normal life, and now there's a chance I can reclaim that plain nobility for it by placing it quietly next to the jigglers and comic books and concentrating all that errant passion on this family.
The irony of the thing is that the only feasible way me to make money now is to go out begging for freelance critic gigs. This way I can change diapers and such while tapping out words about the albums other (luckier, smarter or more gifted) musicians make. This has been an occasionally useful way to raise dough, and I hope I can get the work and somehow tolerate the process itself. This includes listening to music I invariably detest and contriving commentary at odds with my indifference to it, absorbing the ethical blow of becoming the exact kind of hack I hate, and subjecting the thing I love most - music - to a personally painful process of devaluation, all for a very small and unreliable buck. The emotional toll of the gig should be minimal when compared to all the other, deeper disgraces incurred by my vain campaign. The reason for doing it surely outweighs any of these concerns.
In this ego-blog, gaseous whine context - as opposed to the wider, richer context of actual life - I'm eager to experience the shrinking of selfish concerns and the immersion in all joys and anxieties of fatherhood. It might save me from myself as I try to rise to the job. With any luck, the creature I have been for so long will die and be replaced by a doting dad who'll teach the kids why reading books is great, how much better Bugs is than Pokemon, what a symphony orchestra can do for the spirit, the best way to pilot a sled so as not to break one's skull open, how to write in code, the best way to do nothing at all but laugh hysterically through a long summer night, how beautiful they are, how to survive school with their minds intact, who the scariest monsters are, what God is and isn't, how insignificant the approval of others is, and why papa made all those goofy tunes so long ago. As should be obvious, I'll be learning some of these things right along with them. I'll show them pictures and play them tapes of their cousin Petie and their Uncle Bobby so they'll know them as well as possible. I'll sit on the bed with them and Shelley and celebrate this 4-way love affair with absolute abandon.
I wish I could grace their lives with material comfort, but as my own quixotic life has thwarted that, maybe I can instead prove my mettle by devoting the rest of my life to their betterment. If they grow up to be sane and loving people, this life will finally have meant something. Right now, Shelley and I have hope. Hope is something I haven't felt in a long long time, so already they've given me that. My dad hopes to live long enough to hear them call him "Grampa." My mom hopes her son can get his forever-scattered shit together to do right by them and Shelley. I hope they thrive and find a happy way through this world. I hope they are as strong and loving as their mom and that, if they are unlucky enough to be artistically inclined like their dad, they'll have 100 times his talent.
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