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Saturday, May 03, 2003

Damn it to shit...
My hated-since-day-one computer pulled a typically evil stunt at a typically crucial moment.
Cocksucker froze just as I was to snipe a bottle of ABSINTHE on auction.

Who can find me some good (genuine) absinthe?
Who can find me a new computer?
If the computer is over 100 bucks, I'd rather spend it on absinthe.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Emails… we get emails…
Actually, not very many. For every message from an individual person to me alone (not all the batch mails and gig spam etc.), there are 20 with those nonsensical "message filter override" headers ("Xmrawfbng Mohenga, Mcvouty! Free trial") or promises to add inches here and remove inches there. Usually a half dozen from Biff Rose, bless him, whose wit has been sharper than ever lately. Here let me thank those of you who continue to write despite any misgivings about the state of my mind, annoyance at my recent tone and topic or the tardiness in replying that's become chronic. You have no idea how good it is to hear from friends these days.

But I got one from a well-meaning oaf who shares mild praise for my first and third cds while (typically) putting down the second, Magic Beans, and closes with "condolences on your music career." Again, not to fuss too much, since the guy obviously didn't mean to insult. But he did. Let me demonstrate the effect: "Hey, guess what happened to me at lunch today ...and where'd you get that swell tie? By the way… your mother is a whore."
Do you suppose you'd follow the chatty drift of the questions after the blunt force trauma of the statement? Well, this is how it feels to read such impertinent criticism.

You CAN'T comment freely to me on work I've made, uless it's invited and remains respectful. Does anyone think Magic Beans is no good because it "sounds weird" and not "nice" like Willoughby and - to a lesser extent - Uncle? You are not the first. Others think it's too smoothed over; other others think it's too dissonant or too sprawling or too silly or too this-and-such or not so-and-forth enough. Fuck 'em all and all the sad nags they rode in on. It's MY album. I made it the way I chose to. If the other two albums fit anyone's criteria of "nice" then it's an accident I regret. I never wanted to make something "nice" to provide wallpaper for lazy ears. If you bought my record, thanks, but the few bucks you spent buying my cd does not entitle you to insult me with such commentary any more than reading a few words on my blog grants you any sort of intimacy with me. I would not go to someone's place of employment and say: "I don't think you shoveled that pile of shit with very much style" or arrive at your home and remark "I'd never live here... what's with that carpet, dude?" Some people get paid to write their opinion of other people's work. They're called critics: a necessary annoyance in the process of album promotion to whom companies send products for evaluation. Some are disciplined and informed; most are complete clowns whose interest and involvement in the work they review is comparable to the romantic fancies felt by a prostitute toward her client. Then there are friends, who are entitled to have an opinion of one's work, which they may then share if ASKED. Usually a measure of civility and support can be expected, or at least tactful silence. In the future - and this goes for everyone - I will post, verbatim, any offensive emails I please, along with full email address of sender.

And most of all... You CAN'T close your letter with "Condolences on your music career..." in place of "Sincerely yours..." or "Kind Regards..." or likewise. I write about my life, among other things, here in this blog. It's here for the perusal of anyone interested, just as my albums are. I'm as honest, whimsical, melodramatic, deranged or inane as I please. Such content may be disregarded or considered by anyone in the group of friends for whom it is intended (and by "friends" I also mean strangers who've taken an interest in my music). Sometimes people mention specific entries to me when we're talking, or touch upon them in the stream of an email. Some of these friends even take issue with stuff I say here, and good-natured exchanges/arguments often follow. I'm cool with anybody saying "your comment on Gene Simmons was stupid" or "quit putting yourself down" or "I'm happy with the NYC smoking ban, so go eat shit" or whatever, but there is a limit. Anybody close to me who'd have the audacity to include "condolences on your music career" would cease IMMEDIATELY to be my friend. It's an act of utter hostility. The words I post in this personal journal are a means of expressing nothing more than my individual experience living this particular life and nobody has the right to diminish them with such a crass little "toodle-oo."

While I understand that many people would not choose to "lay their souls bare" as I seem to have done here in the blog, the fact is that these shifting feelings are a small part of what I think on any given day. The reason I share such unflattering thoughts and moments of weakness so openly is not because I care what anyone else thinks about my problems, but exactly the contrary. I START caring about what one other individual thinks when that individual responds in kind. I'm sure many of my best friends find much of what I write disagreeable or even embarrassing, and that's fine with me as long as they don't bust my balls about it. These are my dreams and my woes. All my life (as is true of the life of anyone who has had the chutzpah to pursue a dream) some have derided them, ignored them, impeded them, belittled them, attempted to co-opt them, attacked them with pea shooters or bazookas and tried to make me feel foolish for dreaming them. But I've never done that to anyone else, and cannot fathom the depths of insecurity and cluelessness motivating such behavior. My hands are fuckin' clean and my eyes have remained fixed on what I consider important even when human scumbags and the hellbitches of fate distract my attention from the higher things I'd rather concern myself with. Whether I continue to make music or not is entirely my choice, as it's always been. I've never asked for anyone's permission or approval, and if I get frustrated with the work's reception, I ask nobody for sympathy... I just voice my pain as willfully and shamelessly as I sing my joy. It's how I regurgitate poison so it'll stop infecting my daily thoughts. No claims of importance are made for it. No more than anyone else deserves for his or her own. If I piss and moan about my "career" it's my business; if a person says "I'm too fat" or "I can't sing to save my life" that's his/her prerogative and it doesn't entitle anyone else to say: "yes... you're too fat and you cant sing." Anyone who does so is beyond my ken whether the intention is benign or otherwise. Even those friends who are revolted by my whining (as I often am) are usually smart enough to let it pass until my mood drifts to the more pleasant polarity.

In recent years my loved ones and I have been hit with a succession of horrors that would break most people in half. I know others who've borne comparable burdens more gracefully than I have, just as I know plenty who've complained more loudly over far less. The fact is, through all our trials - which I've only touched upon in these casual reports - I've remained creative and productive. I have made albums and artworks, given performances and participated in the personal and commercial work of others. I've supported the work of other creative friends as much as possible, celebrated their achievements and comforted their afflictions, just as they've done for me. I've often done so with humor, and sometimes the darkest confessions are the subtlest jokes. Respect me or piss off. When I dismiss my own work it's because I aim for a standard too high for most monkeys to grasp. I know fully well that those aspects of my favorite work that reward and resonate with me most deeply are usually regarded as flaws by even fairly savvy auditors. The things that make Cassavetes films "boring" or "formless" are where I see excitement and focus. The things in Ives that seem "amateurish" or "unlistenable" are where I find the greatest mastery and sweetest music. Where Scott Walker starts turning rockists and other microbes off with "pretense" is the place his genius begins for me. All these things and so many more have helped form my work. If I were to compile the weakest moments of all 3 of my albums, it would still be one of the greatest albums in your collection. If the genuine majesty of my finest work were to be revealed to the vast herd of douchebags who flatter themselves on cultural astuteness, all would fall, blinded by awe and dumbstruck with humility. They'd form a fucking religion around me, just as I have. And I'd loathe them for not devoting their devotion to themselves, as I have.

Magic Beans is, to say the least, the best album released in 2000. I could have made it more "friendly" to the ears and sensibilities of asswipes, but I made it the way I wanted to. No conventional unconventionality, no coolness, no pandering to expectations of any sort. After having had some success with Willoughby I could have adopted its sonic / songwise aspects as a formula without ever repeating that remarkable album's content. While my renaissance-man versatility would have assured another wonderful work in the style I created for that opus, my searching soul deliberately avoids such redundancy just as it avoids letting stuff "pass" that sounds merely "perfect" by standard measures. I've reworked many things because they'd please people for the wrong reasons. Any moderately talented fraud with a pot of glue and an exacto blade can rework accepted forms to impressive effect. All the year-end critic polls are full of such superfluous crap. You should hear the cut songs, rejected mixes and abandoned ideas for these albums; most bands and artists would sell their souls to arrive at the places I begin, should they be blessed for one moment with enough vision to see just how colossally über-vouting is my every artistic gesture. I stand, godlike, surveying infinities of possibility undreamt by the other dabblers, and select my tools and topics to suit my mercurial mood. As finely as I slice these immensities so as not to overwhelm the listener, the resulting Art is so dense with ideas and inspiration even the most keen observer is only capable of digesting a fraction of the banquet. If it's a crime to serve the food of the immortals to clone-cattle who'd rather eat astroturf, then hang me, but blow me first.

To drop this comic pomp for the sincere kind for a moment: I go further because there's more here. Naturally, I get less back. Naturally, I remain dissatisfied with myself and my position. Satisfaction is a hammock for hacks. Praise is a bonbon that tastes yummy for a second. Artists live to create... the price is steep and the castoffs are unsightly. But I made the shit, and If NOBODY gets it now or ever, that doesn't diminish the accomplishment. I've made majesty, guided by the example of my great teachers and my own innate, promethean genius (yeah, here we go again). If you've been lucky enough to perceive a portion of that accomplishment, then your response should reflect nothing but abject gratitude. If you are possessed by a comparable passion, then you should share yours with me so that we may celebrate one another in a Valhalla of kindred souls unknown to the happier grunts below. I know some such titans, and we comprise a pantheon to make the prophets weep.

Now just look at all these words I've hammered out. That is what I've done all my life: taken nothing and made something of it. You really think I'm done? Even if I say it myself, it's impossible. I fart clouds of gold dust. I spit gobs of ambrosia. The darkest corridors of my benighted mind gleam with treasures rare and beauties grand. Take any amusement you like from this here grandiosity and operatic defensiveness... I'm laughing even louder at it and myself. Astute readers may sense that something "touched a nerve," because I don't adopt some cool stance that I'm immune to this shit. Of course it hurts and riles me; I am a human. But what's happened is that something troubling arrived at a particularly tired-out and sad time and put a useful thorn in my paw. It's the kind of thing albums are made of, and it has roused me out of defeat - just as every single kicking prick in my life has done before. It simply serves as a spur toward the furtherance of the creative career of a great artist. Whatever else you think you hear in these words, rest assured that it is the sound of a man pulling himself once more from the mire to continue onward. It's a Gulliver pissed off just enough to once again snap the tiny ropes of Lilliput.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

I had a dream, oddly enough. Oddly because that means sleep and whenever that happens lately it's usually nothing or nightmares. But here was a dream, and it was funny as hell. Me laughing repeatedly, but all I remember is the part right before my own hilarity woke me up.

A woman is embracing and nuzzling a Frankenstein monster that has a shock of reddish hair. She draws a long, sumptuous breath at its neck and coos: "Mmmm… I love the fragrance you're wearing!" The monster tenderly holds her face in its hands and replies softly: "My darling, you have never truly known sweet aroma until you've savored it through the nostrils of the living dead."

This is the kind of thing my dream-brain considers boffo material.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Another emergency, another hospital and - thankfully - another agreeable outcome. Details will be overlooked here, but if I don't post for a while, never fear. Just don't feel like it these days. I feel like sleeping and sleeping and sleeping is all.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Haven't posted much, haven't checked email in many days, and ain't feeling terribly urgent in either case. Recent days have been largely joyless and nights largely sleepless. No reason to get too deep into any of it, though... just more of the constant stress and agita. Aftermath of the recent fires, car accidents, et al. The family is just battered and weary and enough is too much already. Whenever the stress lets up, depression fills the breach, so Jesus, what to do? I roused myself from my torpor to go to the Vanity Set release party on Monday. It was simply a matter of deciding (last minute) that I didn't want to let Meredith down by behaving like some suburban slug... I already had to bail on plans to join Bianca Bob at a Tin Huey reunion last Friday, and that was regrettable. So, at 9:30, I made up my mind to go to the midnight show, and it was cab to train to cab for 2 hours, catch the show and hang a bit (stayed about 2 and 1/2 hours) and repeat the trip home. I'm glad I went, though; the band sounded great and she seemed real happy that I came in. It was predictably fucked having to continually go out and in for smoke breaks, but what the hell.

Shelley's early pregnancy is pretty taxing for her. I hope things get a bit easier so we can enjoy the prospect of these births without all the nausea, migraines and exhaustion she's been enduring. Me, I'm in a fog. Began trying to figure out how to use the recording machine I got many months ago. It'll be a long time learning for this technocretin, but even if I don't return to "songwriting" it oughtta be fun dicking around with sound. Songs do come to mind but I let them pass. They're like idle thoughts that hold no more significance than puns or remembered film trivia. Waiting on line in some drug store today, I was subjected to the Talking Heads - a band I can't fucking stand - and this Beck song "Lost Cause," which sounds to me like Keith Carradine's "I'm Easy" if Carradine had even less to say lyrically and even fewer ideas musically. I honestly don't know what some of you people hear in this stuff. I did, however, buy some Pinaud bay rum aftershave, and that's something I can recommend. Smells are more satisfying than songs lately, and the only passing attention I pay to music is whatever happens to come on the TV as I click from channel to channel.

Watched "Decline of Western Civilization 2: the Metal Years" for the first time since the Skels watched it together back in '89 or so. I recall the chill that ran down my spine as all the interviewees responded to the question "what if you don't succeed?" with flat assertions of "But I will. There's no question in my mind." Anyone could see that none of them would make it, and yet we'd have answered exactly the same way. This time I didn't feel the chill; I just wondered what they were all doing now, and what replaced that determination in each of them. It's some lovely fantasy that youngsters believe, and as much as most of the music meant nothing to me then (or now), I appreciated seeing them all with their dreams still burning. I did not feel as empathetic watching Gene Simmons interviewed. Then and now, what a prick. As much of a dolt as Dave Mustaine might have been, his earnestness reminded me why I'd always choose Megadeth over Kiss. Even as a teen I hated the music of Kiss, but in the early Skels days I listened to "Peace Sells" a LOT. I recently read a biography of F.W. Woolworth, and can see that a study of Kiss might be interesting from the same standpoint of American business savvy, but that's about it. The kids with the teased hair handing out flyers for their bands' Tuesday night showcase gigs wanted nothing more noble than what Simmons so arrogantly flaunts (untold riches, boundless poon), so it's pretty feeble grounds for romanticism, but hell, so be it.

Right now everybody's hot and bothered over stuff like the White Stripes. There's nothing but NOTHING there, to these ears. I prefer the new Voi Vod, but that isn't saying I'd sit and listen to it. In Tower Records the other day I noted the further shrinking of the classical department; soon it'll be about the size of Spoken Word. I'd gone in to look for a particular Lou Harrison piece and discovered that there is no Lou Harrison music there at all, just a few bins featuring the usual "Mozart To Make Your Baby Smarter" kind of thing. The house system played "Pet Sounds," which has begun to approach "Appalachian Spring" in the "music-I-love-ruined-forever-by-fad-overkill" stakes.

In upcoming entries will probably write more of the song-memory things I began to spew here on a recent boozy night-morning. They remind me of a past where life was not really "better" but blessed with a sense of hope that time has since doused.

Well, that'll do for one day.