This blog is always on my mind. And I end up thinking a lot about why I don’t write more because it isn’t like I don’t have a lot to say. It’s just that I think that it has to have something to do with a song. Like I am trying to make a point. But in trying to make that point, I stopped making any point. The truth is that a lot of this will have nothing to do with music, and if I put off writing the ideas I have until I find the appropriate forum, then I will lose those ideas. But it’s time to also accept that one of my art forms is writing itself.
So that leaves me in a place to talk about the actual writing itself. Every new idea I have on the original format, which was music as soundtrack to my life, is censored immediately. When I first started the blog, it was sort of private and personal, and I didn’t write like anyone was actually going to read it. But then I got a Facebook account and I had my notes subscribe to the RSS feeds. The Facebook account led to getting back in touch with a large number of people I never thought I’d talk to again. Family, friends, co-workers… Then I thought, maybe I should unsubscribe my Facebook account to the RSS feed. Then I realized that this must be a common problem with fiction. Maybe even the fiction writer’s dilemma.
Most fiction is derived from experience. I have always thought like a writer, and I have a lot of ideas that I shelve because I think about the people from which I would derive the characters. And I think about them reading the story and maybe seeing things that I think of them that I wouldn’t even write in a journal. Sometimes these are thoughts that I wouldn’t even admit to myself. But somehow after writing for a long time, the narrator becomes detached from the person. Another character with human flaws. The story comes off as the truth, but it’s just another flawed account of the events. Yet another fiction within the fiction.
This is certainly how I think of the stories I have used for this blog. I have had so many groups of friends. So many experiences in different settings and always a different role. I am sure that I am not unique in this. But I have always had the feeling that I have been somehow lying about other experiences. I tell a story to one group of people that I know will never meet the person I am telling the story about. How is the story different if I am telling that story knowing that I will be introducing the subject of the story to the audience I am telling the story to?
As the number of people that are exposed to my blog increases, especially through my Facebook list, then I get more paralyzed about what to write in the blog. I think about the people in the story reading it and I get lost. If it were one story a month, or a year, or whatever, then I would have time to digest what I felt about those possibilities, but I wrote like 60 significantly questionable stories last year in the space of 4 months. The rest of the stories I am confident the participants would approve of my version of events.
My memory is ridiculous, so I sit around wondering and worrying about what people think about some of the stuff that I wrote. It’s a ridiculous fear of rejection or something. As the number of entries rose, I felt more and more ambiguous about any new ideas. Another piece of my inner world suddenly public.
This happened when I performed as a musician as well. Or when I write songs. My inner world is rich. And it’s mine. If I create publicly consumed art regularly, then I have to answer for my thoughts. It’s obviously been too much of a burden for me. It makes me wonder about all of self destructive phases of my life. It’s another explanation. I build up to a point where I experience some success and then I bail because I don’t want to deal with the responsibility of what I create. I admire people who can do it regularly without bailing. I guess you have to have a thick skin and a short memory.
I want to keep writing about music. I want to keep writing autobiographically. But I have other ideas that are just as important to me. And if I don’t write about them, the music and stories aren’t going to get written either. And since they are my rules, I will change them. I am not going to change the name of the blog. 365 songs is fine. I think it leaves it open to anything if I ignore it entirely. The tag line “Whales and other audible dissent.” is probably more accurate.
And if I write about you and you don’t like it or you don’t agree with my version of events, start your own blog. But as a friend recently said when I talked about this particular subject, the people that I am writing about probably would never recognize themselves even if I named them. Which makes this whole discussion pointless. I wonder if even he would remember that he told me that. It was only a week ago. Maybe I have discovered a new phobia. Fear of being culturally significant.
Having written all of this out, I feel the whole subject is ridiculous.
I first heard Let It Be when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was on the 1967 – 1970 album, on vinyl, that I got for Christmas. I cherished that record and listened to it over and over again reading the included lyric sheets. I can remember listening to it with headphones in our living room in New Jersey. This song reaches every place that is broken inside of me. There is no listening to Let It Be without thinking about who I might have been. And remembering the 9 year old me and how much of me was bursting to be heard, to create something. Let It Be was like magic. How can I reach people like this song has reached me?
And somewhere in that time is a memory of listening to this song with my brother John. And I don’t remember anything about it except that it was significant enough to remember. And that every time I hear this song, John is not too far from my thoughts. And I think about where all the time goes. Now I have children and I am four times older than when I first heard this song. And there was so much significant in having brothers when I was 9. And now we see each other two or three times a year.
There is a foggy memory somewhere in my teen years in the 80′s. I was sure I was dying. I was sweating profusely and lying in a bed in a friend’s house. It was dark and I was staring at the ceiling trying to resolve Steppenwolf music with how I was feeling. I had consumed something I wasn’t sure my spirit could kill. And sometimes in those moments, it’s only a miracle that survives. Because the accounts of an individual’s survival sound contrived. And every version of that story sounds like evangelizing. And drug survival stories always sound unnecessary when compared with the great compilation of human suffering. But I remember the door opening frequently as my friends in the next room came in to check on me. And I specifically remember the music pouring through the door. Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith… “How are you?” A question I couldn’t answer. I was dry. I had nothing inside of me but dust. The door opened again and Let It Be came pouring in on a pool of light.
“There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be…”
Then years later I was in treatment. There was a room with a stereo that few people ever went to. It was small and stuffy. And of course the smoking. That’s mostly what I remember doing in treatment. Smoking. It was rare that I went to this room, but sometimes it was nice to be alone in there. And there was a stereo.
I always find myself in situations where years have passed and I have forgotten all about music. It’s always on my mind. But music is what makes me tick. Even writing like this. I forget what I want to say unless I am listening to some music that opens me up. The keys to my essence are in the hands of music. All of my creativity and inner dialogue is born in music. At certain points in my life, I have claimed writer’s block, and I would have to say that those were parts of my life that I wasn’t listening to music. And even my silence in the last year on this blog has been about not listening to music. My daughter’s ear for music is opening up right now at one year old. So I like to play songs and watch her dance while she sits on the floor. Each time I play her a song, I feel a tug to this blog, to writing more music, to a book idea, video projects, to the parts of me that are permanent. Last night I was going through a bunch of Beatles songs…
So I was sitting by myself in this music room in a psychiatric facility. Smoking cigarettes. And I was broken. The previous 17 years had broken me, but the treatment for this condition definitely made sure there was nothing left. Maybe that’s the aim of this kind of treatment. It’s torture, but there is no way you come out unchanged. For better or worse. I usually didn’t even turn the music on in this room. Just sitting by myself for a while was nice. Four months of being observed every minute of every day sucks. Sometimes I wonder where the chart is. Maybe one day I can read about my heart rate and blood pressure for each day of five months in 1987.
Music can sometimes wake a memory. Certain smells can do this as well. It starts as an emotion and then I am completely transported to another time. I can feel and see everything. I remember the exact shade of white paint on the wall. The feel of the used upholstered chair, the wooden arms. I can feel the exact dimensions of the room and how those dimensions affected the music coming from the stereo. I turned the music up fairly loud. The door opened and Aaron walked in. Aaron looked like Forrest Whitaker. It was a striking similarity. Aaron had other problems on top of substance abuse but those problems weren’t pronounced enough to be noted clinically. You just knew that Aaron was struggling with something else in there. He was kind of scary in probably the same ways that I was scary. This was Aaron’s second or third attempt at treatment.
“When the broken hearted people
living in the world agree
there will be an answer”
As the door swung slowly closed, Let It Be came on the radio. Aaron looked down at me as if he were going to say something. Then I could see the music got him and he closed his mouth and looked around. He crumpled into a seat in the corner. And I could feel everything that was broken inside of him. I don’t know anything about Aaron’s life. We weren’t in any of the same groups, so I never heard his story. And there were so many stories that I did hear. But so much of it seems like fiction in the face of this one moment I spent with Aaron in the music room listening to Let It Be. When the song was over, Aaron nodded at me and left.
Aaron and I were never close. This wasn’t the start of a long friendship. I don’t wonder where Aaron is now. We shared a moment of defeat in a song. Lost in our own private thoughts of who we might have been had things turned out just a little differently for us.
“Whisper words of wisdom…”
Years later, I ran into Aaron when I was hanging out with some friends that I didn’t see very often. At some point he introduced himself to me and I said, “Yeah Aaron, I already know you.”
He looked at me blankly.
“Bell Parke,” I said. “We listened to Let It Be in the music room.”
“Oh yeah man. Holy shit.”
I think those are the only words we’ve ever exchanged.
And somehow I find it appropriate that I would break my silence here with Let It Be. Because… well. Let it be. I don’t know what this blog is for anymore. But I think about it every day. Something about my particular brand of creativity evolved into what I do in this blog. And I wrote some pretty decent stuff. And I hope to write some more. But I certainly can’t do it every day. And all of the rules that I had before are gone. I’m pretty good at breaking rules anyway. So for what it’s worth…
“Let it be…”
And years later again. But this time it’s more like 20 years. I am sitting in our living room in Oklahoma City going through Beatles songs on my computer watching Lucy dance her little sitting Joe Cocker dance. She’s still too little to stand. And Let It Be comes floating into the room on a pool of light.
“Mother Mary comes to me.”
And I think about who she might be. And about all of the little things that will break her and how I won’t be able to do anything about that. And I think about how broken we all are. How tired we are of dictating to ourselves and being evangelized. And sometimes it’s okay just to do our own little Joe Cocker dance to a song because the song has moved something inside us. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all. Go Lucy!
The hardest thing to do is start typing. There’s all this defeat in silence and procrastination. And our ambitions hold us up so high. It’s just that life gets in the way every single day. If it weren’t for the reality of the human condition, we would all be prolific artists and have profound interactions with the people we love every day.
“My body is a cage”
I have been thinking about this for a few weeks. A few weeks of silence. It’s so easy for me to be prolific and enlightened when my whole world is balancing on the head of a pin. I’m on when there’s a crisis. I can do extraordinary things and keep all of my dreams in focus. This realization has been pretty eye opening for me. It certainly explains a lot of my self-destructive tendencies.
“that keeps me from dancing with the one I love.”
So this made me think about how to recreate the sense of crisis without all of the actual… uh … crisis. Just some kind of ordered chaos. And then I started thinking about how often I had actually tried to change this about myself. How many times I have set up shop and thought about keeping a job for 10 years.
“But my mind holds the key.”
And what’s funny is that people don’t really like me as much when I am showing up every day on time. This has led to a lot of job changes. A lot of different projects that usually involve start up companies in the middle of a crisis. I am pretty exciting to people in a crisis, because I seem to function best there. People want to hear me talk and tell them what to do.
“I’m standing on a stage”
And this led me to thinking about how everyone probably has a different stage or set of circumstances where they shine. For the most part, we are discouraged from finding the scenarios where we thrive. If we don’t achieve a narrow definition of success in an even narrower set of circumstances, then we wonder what is wrong with us. It’s seems self-defeating to be competitive with each other in these tiny arenas.
“of fear and self doubt.”
And I think about all of the times when I wondered why it was that everything was falling apart on me yet again. And I think about how many times I have organized my life from that crisis to rebuild everything in a matter of months. It just makes me think of all of the wasted efforts. And no one is unique. How much wasted effort is there? If we piled it all together and organized it into people using talents to achieve real things in a concerted effort rather than this isolated way in which we all work for our individual success.
“It’s a hollow play but they’ll clap anyway.”
They will clap anyway. And each one of us will take what we can get. Our celebration of the individual. And it’s funny, because on the other hand, it’s the individual spirit that keeps our creativity alive. I just wish that somehow our learning experience didn’t take so long and have so many consequences. But the consequences seem to be the motivation that helps us discover where we actually shine. And sometimes, we just don’t find that at all.
“I’m living in an age that calls darkness light.”
And sometimes, we find where we shine and we just can’t find a way to make ourselves do what we want to do. Or what we are best at. We just become consumers of junk. Using the tools of the day to escape ourselves when what we all really want is to live extraordinary lives. Not lives handed to us in packages and boxes, but lives that we have created and shared with those around us.
“Though my language is dead, the shapes fill my head.”
It’s like living in a cage. I can see where I make a huge impact on my world and the people in it. And I put it off. And I put it off. And the time passes. And I get older. And I see that I have missed a lot of opportunities. And sometimes I just need to put my foot down.
Arcade Fire does all of these songs with these huge themes and this incredibly dramatic presentation. And it seems that every time one of their songs starts, I get lost and the time passes and I have thought about a million things. It’s the passion and the escape. Singing about the cage sets us free. We have only to see it. And I think for about a year now whenever I have heard an Arcade Fire song I go, “Who is that!?!” And I forget. And it seems that I have had this parallel relationship with this topic.
Because sometimes I just wake up. I was just thinking as I was watching my son drift off to sleep about all of the opportunities that are available in times like these. And then I thought about all of the opportunities that are available on a daily basis even in different times. There is never a good time for an extraordinary life. It’s all a battle with the self. A battle that can’t be won. With enemies that can’t be seen. And the struggle is the story. And it’s the motivation we are looking for. Just enough to save our own lives. Just enough to move us in the right direction.
“You’re standing next to me. My mind holds the key.”
We are all that huge. This is who we are and what we do to ourselves. Carrying commitments for revenge for things we’ve done to ourselves in the past. Dragging ourselves through the dirt over and over again. A feud for the ages with no outcome but our own defeat. Always leaving enough of ourselves alive to come hunt us down and kill us over and over again.
“Set my spirit free.”
Yes. Set my spirit free. I lose to me. I don’t just surrender. I am dead in the dirt, but I am alive to seek something new in the spirit of renewal. Raise me from the dead. But end this senseless reign of remorse and guilt and terror. There is no one to blame.
And here I will embed the video that I think is such an incredible expression of this song. And it makes me think about derived art and it makes me happy. Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in a classic standoff in a classic Sergio Leone movie.
There are all these different ways to approach the same idea. And usually the simplest idea is the best. But experimentation is always the key to any progress. But I always end up coming back to the same idea. Consistency is really the key to a lot of things. The least confusing idea for this blog is that I write about a song every day. And when I can’t do that, I just simply can’t do that. I doubt that I will write about 365 songs this year. Maybe I will come up with another title for this blog. Maybe I won’t.
“To be the boss”
In elementary school back in Bryam Township, NJ, there was a math teacher named Hobb Engler. The local Little League organization is named after him. He was a big guy with a cigar. That’s how I remember him. I never had a class with him. But there were three female teachers around him in the 4th grade that would send their misbehaving students, especially male, instead of wasting the time of the principal. I got sent to his class once. I don’t remember what I did. I expected that I would sit in the desk next to his desk with my back to his class and the discomfort of the unfamiliar setting would be punishment enough.
“or carry my hat.”
But Hobb Engler’s methods were not passive. He told me to get up and write on the chalkboard while he sat in his chair. My handwriting has always been atrocious, so the numbers on the board were unreadable. But he had me carry on until the students were asking what the hell I was writing. Which he made me explain. The class he was teaching was one grade ahead of me, so I was a bit lost. And while I was incredibly confused, I attempted to figure out what was going on. I was engrossed in trying to decipher what I had written on the board when Mr. Engler said, “Mr. Lines? Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” Me, “What?” Engler, “It’s a yes or no question.” Me, “What?” Engler, “Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” Me, “?” Engler, “Mr. Lines. It’s a yes or no question. Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” Me, “?” Engler, “I think I have had about enough of you.” Me, “?” Engler, “Or you of me? Go back to your class and don’t bother your teacher anymore. Got it?” I didn’t bother her anymore.
“Don’t blow it away.”
To be the boss or carry my hat? Do you walk to school or carry your lunch? There’s not much of a choice is there. I think it’s a really important thing to ponder an incoherent question. It’s sort of the daily dilemma of the modern world. The riddle of affluence. The curse of the middle class.
“I want it to stay.”
There’s a lot of encouragement about bettering ourselves and being of service. But society and possibly survival itself don’t lend themselves very well to idealism, community, passion, intelligent discourse, etc. When it comes down to it, there is no right answer for anything. Any of the political or social issues that own large swaths of our consciousness. Tax cuts, crime, social security, defense, world hunger… There are answers, but the questions are largely incoherent. Requiring yes or no answers where long discourse and argument are concerned is largely unproductive. But when the problem includes threats that seem imminent and life threatening, then intelligent discourse gives way to panic and threats.
“But our little fire’s not doing okay.”
Phantom Buffalo fits into a particular group of Indie artists and labels that don’t seem to distribute their music very widely via the internet. You can order a record from the label, Time Lag Records, but that’s about it. Mexican Kids at Home, who I wrote about in my last entry is the same. They are on Wee-Pop records and they even told me that they don’t necessarily put mp3′s out on the internet. This all seems rather contradictory in a way. And really this song, Be The Boss, has been bothering me. But it finally reminded me of this story about Hobb Engler. And while the song comes off as a love story, it seems to be saying something about the fruitless endeavors of the creative fringe of society. We used to be just underground, but now we are marginalized. Largely with our consent.
Being an Indie artist, or maybe to do anything truly artistic (I’m not talking about making music for the corporate context that is dictated to us.), is like walking backward through life. The answer as a musician seems to be to get a large following, get signed by a major label and make lots of money. There is a different formulaic answer for all of the media that artists work in. And it’s ironic to contemplate all of these solutions, because all of these paths to success involve some step or element that most people don’t have access to. A very basic step in the music formula is submitting a demo. You need an entertainment lawyer to do this. To retain a decent entertainment lawyer, you need to cough up a very larger retainer (In case you didn’t know. Retainer = cash.) and also be connected to people that know lawyers well enough to recommend you to them. So you need an agent to make an introduction. Run your head around that one a bit. It’s enough to make you crazy.
Do you walk to school or carry your lunch? Really! So we know the answers. We really do. There are thousands of books written about how to do it. And even how to do it as an Indie artist. None of these answers reflect that the questions are incoherent. How do you break into an industry that no longer even likes what it does? The music industry doesn’t like music or musicians. The people don’t like themselves. No one likes what they do. We all point to the government as if the government wasn’t the biggest employer in the country. Even people that work for the government talk about it as if it is something outside of themselves. We largely alienate only ourselves because we are always who we are criticizing. The truly rich have sold us the dream of being rich, and we have laid down our only defense. Freewill. We feel like we don’t have any choices. We need everything the middle class dream has dictated that we must have.
So my first instinct when hearing music so far out of the mainstream that the labels that distribute it have basically dropped out of the contemporary methods of the distribution chain is to just dismiss it all. I actually said out loud to a friend that I wondered if they were members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. But then I thought about all of the things that I have said here. And really I am so full of shit if I come at it from this angle. The music is good. There are some really heavy metaphors lurking just under the surface. And I know for a fact that digital distribution only serves to expose more people to the music. It doesn’t even attract new people to the shows which is where the band makes all of its money. But no one makes any money off of the digital distribution except the corporations that offer the download service, iTunes, Amazon, Emusic.
So what does it matter. People downloading songs on their computers don’t really add a significant turnout to shows. Word of mouth. Scene buzz. That’s how people end up going to shows. The internet does hold a lot of promise as the great equalizer, but it isn’t the shoe in the door to the industry success that we would like to believe it is. So labels like Time Lag and Wee Pop are just choosing to reign it in. As are the bands that choose to partner with them. It’s kind of a smart strategy. It’s the community that has always been the strength of building buzz around music. But even if it doesn’t bring them bigger “market share”, there is some integrity in it. They are not playing the corporate game. The game where smaller players have to mortgage their future to buy into a new infrastructure that only benefits the larger corporations that own that infrastructure. These smaller players have their own rules and their own metaphors. They protect what they have when they drop out and say that they aren’t going to play.
“Even in our minimized world, we can survive girl.”
That seems to be it. There is so much promise in all of this new stuff. But I think a good deal of it is a waste. What was the original question that our modern answers are responding to? To be the boss or carry my hat? Do you walk to school or carry your lunch? Yes or no? I understand what he was trying to teach me. The teacher was there to do a job and I was being an asshole for making it harder. Teachers show up for work and most of the questions they are answering are incoherent. Their time with the students is short. The teacher isn’t the man. Just another victim of a senseless system. I get it, but if Hobb Engler asked me today, I would say, “No!”
My friend, Mark, that I was in several bands with is one of the most interesting characters I have ever known. But I hate to use a forum like this to tell Mark Pringle anecdotes. There are so many of them. But for the love of God, I wish I knew where to contact him. He’s a strange guy, but one of the best friends I have ever had. He wrote a song for me once that I have had in my head for over 20 years called We Shared the Same Song. I have only ever heard him play it live, because that’s how our musical careers have gone.
“I don’t want to sleep in the corner”
You can only take my word for it that the music I have actually recorded for people to hear is a sad facsimile of the original work. Mark and I tried to record several times. Some of it sucked very badly. Some of it was okay. But the truth is that we could never keep it together long enough for actual decent recordings of our efforts to be completed. We spent a long time writing songs. The song was more important than anything. But the end result is that there are few artifacts available for general consumption.
“where people throw stuff at me cause I’m smaller.”
We could work together for an average of 6 months before we were at each other’s throats. I blamed him. He blamed me. And really, it would be easy for me to present a case about how hard it was to work with Mark. But who cares. In the end, I have nothing to show for the some of the most valuable creative efforts of my life. And it’s a good thing I have a really good musical memory, because I have only heard the song he wrote for me a handful of times. But I can easily recall all of it. And it was perfect with just him and a guitar. And as frustrating as Mark could be, he could really reach you with his music. And when he did, he was easy to forgive.
“I would normally throw stuff back”
Mark made a living a lot of the time in Albuquerque playing in coffee shops by himself. He could throw down an open guitar case and pull in enough to pay bills. And you could see it when he reached someone. And he could do it over and over again.
“but it never seems to go down like that.”
Mark would do this thing where he would attempt to add additional instruments without adding additional people. Part of that was just wanting to get it done and he played live so much. Part of it was just Mark being weird. Part of it was just that he generally had a bad time working with other people. It would be really funny sometimes. And he would talk about the Dick Van Dyke character in Mary Poppins. The one man band.
“I just want to start a one man band.”
Honestly at the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. It had been so long since I had seen Mary Poppins. But in the last few years, I have had the opportunity to see Mary Poppins with my son several times. I can’t help but think of Mark whenever I see that character. And it always makes me think about some of the values Mark had in entertainment. He told me one time about why he liked Chinese cinema so much, even beyond the Kung Fu movies we were into because the whole Albuquerque crew studied so much kung fu. He liked that they were all so intense. Every moment of the movies were so ‘lived’. And he must have thought the same thing about that Dick Van Dyke character. He was so alive.
“And write songs that people don’t understand.”
But it all makes me think of all the missed opportunities. And really there are so many in my life. As my friend Troy says, “We never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” But I think we really misunderstand which opportunities we were missing. We always thought we were missing the business opportunities. But really we were missing each other. And yes, we were all pretty much handicapped mentally and doing our best to figure out how to overcome our disabilities. But we already had the community built. All we had to do was stay in one place and figure out how to work together until we had artifacts that we were satisfied with.
“I will finally be on my way.”
And I am using artifact in place of the term I would usually use to describe what I mean – product. Because I am finding that this is the obstacle that I have been unable to overcome in my creative process – the eventual commercialization of my artifacts. But this should have been the last thing on my mind. But it was always the first thing that would kill any of our endeavors. How do we make money doing this? And the answer really is – you don’t. You love it, and that’s the most you are ever going to get out of it. If there is eventually a payout, great!
“But I still don’t have much to say about it.”
But that’s where we would all end up. We have to eat somehow. And we would all be desperate to make money doing something we loved doing. So we would try everything and bite off more than we could chew. And eventually we would be sick of that part of the process and each other, and everyone would scatter. Back to shit jobs we all hated.
And really there are so many wasted words to try to capture what I mean. I became a programmer because I got sick of being in an Indie band. Paying $300 to $500 a month on a rehearsal space while living in an apartment with no furniture. Money seemed to always be the thing that was missing. “If I/We had enough money, then I would be able to put this whole music thing together.” But we were putting the music thing together. We were just starving half the time. And the idea of being a programmer was financing my own music projects and eating at the same time. A really novel idea. Mark did the same thing.
I don’t know where Mexican Kids at Home got their name, but I like it. I like their obvious dedication to acoustic music with no effects. It’s this really sparse landscape. An intentionally child like approach. On first hearing, it sounds like they wrote the song five minutes before they started recording. But even if they did that, which I doubt, it really has a much heavier message hidden in all that simplicity. It’s so hard to listen to commercial pop music and know that there are so many people much more talented all over the place. But it’s the lowest common denomenator always. Sex and corporate success. Fame and riches. It’s a carrot in your face as a musician. A vision of success sold to you as easily as a new brand of toothpaste. That’s what is being sold by commercial pop. It almost looks accessible. Until you realize you need contact with an executive class that you will never have access to. It almost kills you.
“And there’s some things I hate the most.”
And then a long time has passed and I realize all of this. That my one man band killed my creativity. That I didn’t begin with a vision of corporate commercial pop success. I just wanted to write, record and tour music. I got the writing part. And one part that I overlooked whenever I had it. Community. And that community seemed like the easiest thing to walk away from every time. And I realize now that it was the most important part.
“Listen to the radio and finding it hard to breathe.”
Yes. I’m going to write about Ozzy now.
Three different people that found me on Facebook have said that one of the things that stands out in their memory of me 25 years ago was Ozzy Osbourne. I was apparently an Ozzy freak when I was 11. I do remember that shirt with the Blizzard of Oz album cover that I probably wore until it had holes in it. And I have to admit that any of those songs from the first two solo albums with Randy Rhodes, Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman, still do it for me.
“People look to me and say”
I wrote about this song in my online journal in 2002. I knew that I was eventually going to have to write about Ozzy in this blog. I figured I would wait until I was really busy. Then I would find that journal and paste it here with some minor edits. I remembered it as the same kind of writing I am doing here. But it wasn’t. Apparently my writing has improved dramatically. That or I just hate everything I do after a couple years.
“is the end near, when is the final day.”
So in my writing about music, I have to touch on this particular subject about fathers. There’s a kid I know who is 10 right now. His father isn’t around much. He loves Greenday. He knows everything about Greenday. Boys need their fathers at this age. And unfortunately a lot of fathers, for whatever reason, aren’t around for them. I can see that Billy Joe sort of fills this role for him. It made me think about this particular age when my father wasn’t around. I didn’t like him anyway. But that’s what got me into the whole fantasy anyway. I didn’t like him. When my father didn’t fit the role, I fantasized. And in a way this saved my life. How often does an actual father give nothing but profound advice and wise words?
“What’s the future of mankind”
I would never have said, “Oh I think of Ozzy like my father.” I just listened to his music like he was saying something to me. There were two others that were just as big an influence. John Lennon and Jimmy Page. And I will write more about them another time. But Ozzy fit this particular period of time. And the records were coming out right as I was hitting several crises in my life that left me completely lost. So while I was still in New Jersey, Ozzy was a huge part of my life. And obviously I drove my friends nuts with his music.
“how do I know I got left behind.”
Then we moved to Texas. Texas scared the hell out of me. And Houston was still a part of Texas back then. Now it’s a large urban metrolopolis. You have to drive a long way from downtown Houston to get to Texas. But in 1983. Big trucks with gun racks in the rear windows. Dumb rough necks with large belt buckles. Drunk rednecks. Cookie cutter suburbs. Mexican food. Everything was unfamiliar to me. It was like moving to another country.
“Everyone goes through changes”
When we drove into Houston in 1983 in our Buick Regal with New Jersey plates, a pickup truck pulled up next to us on the freeway and rolled down the window. A redneck leaned half his body out of the window while going 65 MPH and motioned for my mother to roll down her window. When she did, he yelled, “You guys from New Jersey?” My mother, “Yes we are.” Redneck, “Well welcome to Texas.” Mother, “Thank you.” Redneck, “Now go home! YEE HAW!!!” Um… This actually happened.
“looking to find the truth.”
As I have documented in several blog entries, my first year in Houston was miserable. My brothers seemed to adapt easily. I was too loud. Too abrasive. Too insecure. Too afraid of this redneck backwater ass hicktown. I was terrified of everything. Then something Ozzy had done the year before in San Antonio changed my life. I don’t know why it occurred to me in 1984, because I’m sure I knew about it when it happened. I just don’t think the significance caught up with me until I had some context for it. Or maybe I was just tired of being afraid and connected the incident with my desire to be done with my fear.
“Don’t look to me for answers”
Ozzy pissed on the Alamo! Ozzy walked up to this shrine of Texas history. The ultimate symbol of Texas pride. Hiked up his skirt (he was wearing his wife’s dress for a photo shoot). And pissed on the Alamo. It was a revelation to me. Like he did it on purpose, which he certainly did not. He was way too drunk that morning (and I’m talking almost noon) to know that he was pissing on something significant. My fear of everything Texas seemed irrelevant at that point. I’m afraid of Texas culture, but Ozzy just went and pissed all over it. Go Ozzy!
“don’t ask me – I don’t know.”
Yeah don’t ask Ozzy. And make fun of Ozzy all you want. I feel some genuine affection for him on his Alzheimerish drug addled aging reality shows. Ozzy was there for me when a lot of adult men in my life were completely gone for whatever reason. And for all of the caricature that is made of his accomplishments, Ozzy defined a genre of music. He defied some of the more educated protest music of the 60′s with direct political protest that named the war machine for what it was – war pigs. And while he seems completely lost and his music hasn’t been compelling to me in years, I still see him as a metaphor. And there is no way that the power of his lyrics and his performances weren’t intentional. Not with that much consistancy for so many years.
“Nobody ever told me I found out for myself.”
And all of the talk of family values on the right. This is what it looks like when some families stay together. Just a hodgepodge of affection, loyalty and dysfunction. And for all of the criticism of his public figure as a father, he stayed there with them. Which goes a long way. Loyalty goes a long way with me. Showing up no matter how screwed up you are. Showing up and apologizing when you didn’t show up before. My standards aren’t too high where this is concerned. Show up high if you have to. But just show up. And Ozzy and Sharon figured out a way to make it work when they really didn’t have to. And then they were still able to see enough humor in it to make fun of themselves.
“Ya gotta believe in foolish miracles.”
And all of that “Prince of Darkness” crap. It’s such a great metaphor. He started out criticizing people with these ranting lyrics about how they were evil. And then because of his presentation and his lifestyle, people started associating him with the idea. Then his career evolved into playing the evil metal guy. It’s all so funny in a way.
“Don’t confuse win or lose – it’s up to you.”
And that’s what I learned from Ozzy. No one is going to live my life for me. There’s a whole world out there. It’s up to you.
“Asking me who to follow. Don’t ask me. I don’t know.”
One of the times I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , I was living in Boston and coming to terms with the idea that there are so many people trying to be heard. There are so many voices in this world. So many needs. I became very depressed. The idea of Quality as expressed by Persig in his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, seemed to be directly responsible. Only certain voices were worth hearing as defined by some incredible esoteric formula. I thought of all of the people that are truly talented. But the average attention span for digesting and owning media in a human’s brain isn’t capable of hearing everything.
This depression lasted for quite some time. I guess in some ways I am still not over it. It led me to another set of conclusions about working. Especially working in something satisfying and monetarily rewarding. I thought about all of the food that is delivered to us at our supermarkets. How many people who plant or harvest corn play the guitar? How many can sing? How many have musical aspirations? Or dream of themselves in better circumstances where they entertain people with their talent? But someone has to plant the corn!
Around this time, there was a guy I helped produce plays with in a small Brookline community theater near Boston. I mainly did the music, but I did other things as well. He was a chemist at MIT and his other dream was producing classic plays by Chekov and Ibsen. He was doing these things. One day a male lead quit. He was very talented. He was from India and in scrubbing his Indian accent to get more parts, he had mastered a giant array of accents. He had a master’s degree in theater. He quit the play because he got a job managing the Dunkin Donuts right across the street from Berklee.
The MIT Chemist guy was telling me about this. He seemed kind of flabbergasted by the whole thing. Why would someone do something like that? Give up a part in a play he had always wanted to be in to manage the Dunkin Donuts? I kept asking questions to draw him out, because this point of view seemed so absurd to me. Finally his responses led to, “I don’t know. The guy has no dreams. He’s never going to have a house or a family or a couple cars in the garage. I don’t know what he thinks he’s going to accomplish. You have to stick with something. You don’t give up.” I was really speechless, but I did manage to respond, “You know. Someone has to manage the Dunkin Donuts. When people go to the Dunkin Donuts and want coffee or something, someone has to make sure that happens.”
Yes there is a separate idea of intention. If you intend to be a farmer or a Dunkin Donuts manager, then you should be those things. But how many people accomplish what they set out to accomplish. Certainly there are career paths that are almost set in stone. Become a doctor – follow this path. Become a lawyer – follow that path. But outside of doing something like that, there isn’t so much certainty. And for some people, the idea of certainty in life is a death sentence. I could hold my hand up to be counted as one of these. Perhaps it’s some kind of pathology that makes this happen, but more than likely it’s just different personalities.
But without certainty, there can be a lot of defeat. And it’s unfortunate that there are so many careers that we immediately associate with defeat. Barista! Oh you majored in philosophy, but couldn’t hack it. Or… Oh you couldn’t figure out what you wanted to do with your life. Here you are serving coffee. But the aesthetic of a profession or wealth shouldn’t really indicate the level of success or happiness in life. But it does. And even when a shitty artist makes a lot of money and becomes famous, people take them more seriously. Even when a criminal gets away with a large amount of money, society seems to give them some respect.
But someone has to be a foot soldier in Napoleon’s army. And without the 100′s of thousands of foot soldiers, Napoleon is nothing. Someone has to plant the corn! Someone has to manage the Dunkin Donuts. And when those people go home, they don’t dream the lesser dreams of the poor and defeated. They dream the dreams of great people. We are all great people. And the more we let the mass marketing of corporations define greatness, the more we cower in defeat. Paying taxes to subsidize wealth in ever increasing amounts, because somehow we believe that the amount of money a person makes or the level of fame a person has attained says something about the talents that person possesses. I’m not saying anyone can do any job. And certainly we want qualified people doing the jobs that are critical to our society. But the inmates are running the asylum here. We have reached a point where the only qualifications we think of as important are being rich and/or famous.
I don’t know whether Kutiman was thinking about all of these voices. All of these separate aspirations when he began his project of splicing youtube videos into amazing works of art, but this is what it makes me think of. More than ever with the internet, I am aware of all of the talent in the world. All of the voices clamoring to be heard. And Kutiman seems to have this awareness as well. He seems to be saying, “I hear you in all your isolated loneliness. Let me show you how great you are.” And this metaphor is a jumping off place for a profound shift in consciousness that I think is necessary and happening right now in front of our eyes. The Mother Of All Funk Chords is rising like a tidal wave. All of our voices will be heard in ways we can’t control. With meaning we can no longer recognize as our own.
Yes someone has to plant the corn. But that doesn’t mean that his voice is any less important. Because The Mother Of All Funk Chords is us. In all our clumsy gracelessness, there is still a depth of beauty that refuses to be defined by our net worth.
Getting back into writing after everything that has happened in the last two weeks has been ridiculous. Where do I pick up? What do I say about how profound everything has been? Or do I just ignore it all and write as if nothing has happened? There no way to ignore it all. I feel like I live on a different planet. I feel reborn. I know things about myself that I never knew before. I know things about the world that I forgot. That I keep forgetting.
“Down among the reeds and rushes.”
I was forced to confront my limits in a corporate environment. I realize now that there are some things I can’t do no matter how much you pay me. I also know just how much my family means to me. I know how important my children are to me. I know what I don’t want to miss. I know at which point I will lay down my life for another. I know what brings me to my knees. I know how little I really care about the events of the world. I know how small the universe is…
“a baby boy was found.”
So I spent days searching for the song I was going to use as my entrance back into my daily writing routine. But it was very difficult. And it wasn’t coming to me. Meanwhile, our baby was born. I reconnected with my son. As his trust grew, his arms thrown around my neck took on a deeper significance. It isn’t that we grew apart. It’s that he was obviously starting to feel a little rejected by everything that was happening to us. Hospitals, a sibling is born, cousins going away, a different person to spend the afternoon with every day. I vowed that I would never let my children feel this way. I worked for years to overcome my own feelings of rejection. His little arms around my neck is a catharsis. A giant ‘Yes! I am not going anywhere.’
“His eyes as clear as centuries.”
And I am left wondering about life. There is so much of it. There really is. Everywhere you look there is life. Even when considering larger systems – the world, countries, corporations, political groups, the universe, social cliques, hospitals – everything takes on the characteristics of life. Sometimes only because we humans are observing and participating in the fate of all of these things. Everything is alive with our dreams and aspirations. Everything exists in the numinosity of our intent.
“His silky hair was brown.”
We breathe life into everything. We take a rock and hold it. Our warmth changes it. The rock is personified by our simplest actions. Everything the rock does is new and significant. The rock is separate and the same. And I can’t help but think how much we do without knowing it. How much of the raw power of life we breathe into things we consider inanimate and lifeless. From meaningless drudgery to our most profound dreams.
“Never been lonely.”
And when we have children, we take the opposite view for granted. That which we consider full of life is full of life because that is what is natural. I see it now as the same as the rock. We are breathing life into something inanimate.
“Never been lied to.”
If we leave life to itself, it fails. But when we stoop down and dig our fingers into the muck and pull it close. Share our warmth. Trust in its existence. Hope with everything we have. Love like we have never loved. That’s life.
“Never had to scuffle in fear.”
Like a musical instrument. You can play and play and it can mean nothing. Just some sound events arranged over time. But at some point as a musician, you learn to breathe life into the instrument. The same thing happens with writing. Everyone knows the difference between just getting by and the breath of life. There is no lesson for this. And sometimes, we spend our whole lives unable to be affected by even our own most important moments.
“Nothing denied to.”
It’s so easy to miss all of this life. It’s so easy to be an inanimate object in our own lives. Not seeing how much life we affect. How the rock lives. How the lives around us are dependent on our intent. The deeper significance of our lives is us. We aren’t waiting for anything or anyone.
“Born at the instant the church bells chimed.”
It’s all right there. The next right thing. The outcome. The conditions. Even under the worst circumstances and the best. We are part of a giant miracle. An epic illusion so rooted in faith and love that we can’t even begin to separate ourselves from its origins. Life is enormous. And it has no edges or seams. It can’t be defined or categorized and nothing can be removed or added to it.
“The whole world whispering born at the right time.”
So I decided on this Paul Simon song which holds a special significance for me. Especially with my son. Although the song came out over a decade before his birth, I didn’t discover the song until we were in Hong Kong. And what can you say about a Paul Simon song. Especially when he gets it as right as he does on this song. There are so many to choose from. I thought about him earlier and I was sure I would write about Graceland. My mother gave me Graceland at a time when I was sure she knew nothing about me. At the time I knew nothing about Paul Simon, and as a teenager, I was sure this was a dumb gift. But Graceland became one of the most important pieces of my teen years. And while there was a deep chasm between us in so many ways, this was a clear message to me that she did know who I was. “Poor boys and pilgrims and families and we are going to Graceland.” And Born At The Right Time is kind of the same story, but it holds a special significance for me about my son. He is a living metaphor as we all are. Our significance should not be lost on us. And somehow Paul Simon reached for this emotion and captured it. And I can see my son as a toddler dancing in our Hong Kong apartment with his total lack of self-consciousness. So intent on living.
“The planet groans every time it registers another birth.”
So I have been at the hospital almost every night holding my daughter. Feeding her sleepy mouth. Vibrating her tiny body with my giant voice. Humming a Dean and Britta song as a lullaby. Her sleepy eyes look up at me like an alien. A giant question. She is too small. She asks, with those dark blue eyes, if this is all worth it. Is the world – with all its suffering and callousness, uncertainty and disappointment – all that great a place?
“But down among the reeds and rushes the baby girl was found.”
And I don’t know if it is worth it all the time. But I do know that my two experiences with birth. Watching countless participants breathe hope and love and … life into this tiny helpless ball of energy. And it is so unorganized. And we all pray to whatever we pray to. We bring all of the mysticism of science and religion. And we crawl around in the mud. Digging our fingers into parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. We are reborn in this experience. And nothing and no one is the same ever again. The whole universe changes. And all of the beauty that we spend all of our lives hiding from ourselves is revealed.
“Her eyes as clear as centuries her silky hair was brown.”
There is so much that can’t be said. So many words to finally reveal that I can’t tell you. It’s more than just moments. It’s more than just knowing. It’s more than just an emotion. Or a smile. Yes it’s all worth it. And when you grow up and read this, you can tell me if it was worth it.
“The whole world whispering born at the right time.”
I discovered this song a few weeks ago through some forgotten array of connections of music that I happened to be searching. And this may seem like a strange song to have attached as a soundtrack to the birth of my second child, but it only seems strange because of the title. Have you ever died? Yes I have died every minute of the last 6 weeks. There’s this strange middle ground I haunted while the pregnancy got complicated. I wanted to love the child into existence. I wanted to protect myself and my family from the possibility of a tragedy. But inevitably she crawled inside of me. I gave every ounce of myself to her.
“…and you climbing the mountain”
But you never know. But you do. And you don’t want to go, but you will. Here is all of life in little heart attacks and sucking breath and hoping for the best. I felt her little breath on me while I slept. She held my hand and prayed with me to a God I don’t believe in. Laid prostrate with me at the altar. Slept softly in the back seat while I drove.
“The tower you counted the stairs.”
A grackle spoke to me in the Kroger parking lot. I had been driving aggressively. Very fast. One place then another. As self-important as any other person on the wide swath of highway. Becoming something I despise. The grackle was perched under the bumper of an F150. It squawked at me and I realized that grackles had been near me every time I got out of the car. I looked him in the eye. He clearly said, “Slow down.” I said, “Okay.” He hopped away.
“Then you sang yodel-ay-he-hoo.”
And it’s been days since I posted about a song. I worried about it a few days. Then I thought I would catch up eventually. Then I realized that once again I was participating in the lie. Covering up the contradictions is a big part of mass marketing. But exposing the contradictions is an artist’s job. I want to write about a song every day this year, but circumstances are making this impossible. I could write 5 entries in one day and say, “There I did it.” But really I didn’t write about one every day. I wrote about 5 one day. And now I think this is okay, but I might as well expose this. I will write about 365 songs this year, but not one every day. Sometimes I won’t be able to do that.
“Lost and found all this spinning around.”
But we did hold a baby up to the sky this week. She was as perfect as a clear diamond. A Thumbelina emerging from a magic seed. A child asleep with her feet tucked under my leg. She came too early and at the perfect time. So many people gathered in a quiet storm. Intent on bringing this one soul into this world. And I thought about how many lives are brought forward. And how much will gathered from so many different sources it takes to bring each into existence. And how easy and smooth that warm breath of life reaches all of us from the sea. We all emerge unscathed and live until we die battle worn and beautiful.
“No wonder boy you stutter like a mule.”
There is no blemish. We cannot be imperfect. We are only additions of everything that is right. Even when the darkness takes us, we are only still products of the light. We do our best to not let evil befall us. But we are masses of contradictions and disappointments. Conglomerations of joy and eerily rhythmic spontaneity steeped in the great salt water wisdom of the mother. I learned that we are all right and wrong. I saw a girl anxious to see her mother in the light. Vibrated into the arms of her father by his voice. I am humbled and speechless.
“Each stop you know it’s going to wash away.”
We are washed up on the beach and wrung out with the wind. Carried gently and with purpose. None of us makes it alone. In the widest sense, we are all family. There is no life that isn’t a giant collaboration. I am every one of you. There is no me.
“You decide to go you gotta beat the road.”
This song has been sitting on my chest for a week. Eating away at the corner of my consciousness. Benjamin Wesley is a master of the unspeakable even when he is speaking. There is so much being said that is only summoned imagery. Have You Ever Died is such a contradiction. From the title. It’s like he’s really saying, “Have you ever lived?” All of the amazing things he does with stuttering lyrics, blurred melodies, unshakable rhythms and plodding content. There is so much celebration and joy in the primal experience. I get the sense of – oh well, I have to do the inevitable. Let’s celebrate the inevitable. The inevitability of death. But let’s not forget the inevitability of life. Especially if we are talking about death.
“It’s a compromise or there wouldn’t be a show.”
That’s right. Without the compromise of life. The sweet ripeness of life. The hope and inevitability of life. Death can never have its satisfaction. Death is its own hopelessness. There’s the celebration of life.
“It’s a quiet life you ain’t got no friends.”
Time was slowly eating away at us. Like a bird pecking at a pile of ants. Consuming us. Directing our days. We sat and watched. And made the best of it. And watched the clock. And pulled the days off the calendar like some movie montage. We pulled the rope at a plodding pace. Cooking our dreams until they were done. And then one day, life was inevitable. And she washed up on our shore wrung out and sputtering. And we watched in the hallway. The doctors pronouncing the science of yet another miracle. As they were sponging the salt water off of her, it occurred to me that we were all willing to show up for this impossibility over and over again. Every time celebrated like it had never happened before.
“It’s a quiet life..”
In 1990, I became enraged with the lies leading up to the Gulf War. I was pretty isolated in my existence as a music student at Berklee. We didn’t own a television, so I didn’t follow current events at all. But the Gulf War was impossible to miss. It was also proof of my argument against owning a television. You will hear about news when it is really important. There was no missing the lead up to the war.
And my days as an activist began one Saturday morning when I happened to be in Copley Square. I was at the bank with my wife at the time. (I was married for a few years when I was 20.) We left the bank and a large crowd was marching down Boylston on the way to the Boston Common. The signs the demonstrators were carrying were in opposition to the war. This was definitely our position, so we just joined in.
There was the usual array of groups. Mostly normal people who wanted to voice their opposition to the war. Then the specialty groups. “Republicans opposed to the war!” “Irish gays for peace.” And the embarrassing hippies that were always wearing face paint and banging on drums while dancing – the group that the news focused the cameras on. At Boston Common, there was a stage with a podium and an array of speakers doing their best to work up the crowd. The most memorable speaker was Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame.
I thought for sure in the lead up to the Gulf War that the people would see the lies that were being perpetrated and a giant opposition would rise up against the war. I did my best to tell as many people as I could as much about the lies as I possibly could It was an eye opening experience. People were in one of two groups. There were those who were just against it but only because they were opposed to the American Empire concept. This group was unconcerned with whether or not this particular war was just or necessary. They were just opposed to all forms of war – for any reason.
The other group was represented by a particular story of a person I talked to about the whole story. He was the roommate of a really good friend of mine. He repeated the rallying cry of the day as his sole argument, “How can you not support your own troops?” I was very good at engaging people in dialog. So I talked to him until I had explained the things that were not being reported well in the news. By the end of my well constructed argument, I had him more or less. And then he said, “I see your point. But really it makes me feel patriotic.”
“On television, the drug of the nation.”
I love the resistance model as laid out by Thoreau in Civil Disobedience. It is thoughtful, and it seemed to apply. And it does apply if the event that you are demonstrating against lasts long enough. The first Gulf War was so short that any resistance was easily silenced. Even if we were rioting in the streets of Boston. But this spirit of resistance lasted right up until the election of 1992, so perhaps it was all worth the effort.
“Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.”
Television Drug of the Nation came out in 1992. A lot of the theme seemed to be inspired by the Gulf War coverage. Even if it wasn’t, it made me think of all of the activism during the Gulf War and afterward. I’m not going to repeat a lot of the lyrics like I normally do in my entries. The lyrics aren’t specifically relevant to my story. The spirit of revolution and resistance is the thing that strikes me. Michael Franti is someone I don’t talk about nearly enough. From the Beatnigs, to DHOH, to Spearhead – he has been an intelligent voice of resistance. It was late 1992 by the time I had heard Television the Drug of the Nation when my friend Gopal played it for me. And while I know the lyrics to this song pretty well, it is my own narrative that dominates my memory of the song.
Being a music student with deadlines is difficult while organizing a bunch of activist events. And I beat my head against that wall for at least a year. Getting permission for and setting up tables in the main lobby at Berklee and talking to people. I even organized a bus of Berklee students to go to Washington for two large demonstrations. One against the Gulf War and one for the Pro Choice rally in the spring of 1992.
Now I was surprised to learn this, but musicians are the hardest group of people to motivate into activism of any sort. If it doesn’t involve a gig at the rally, then they don’t care. Berklee students in my time were the most politically apathetic group of students in Boston. It was easier motivating young conservatives at Boston University to oppose the Gulf War than it was to get a Berklee student to listen. This was also the case when I organized for the Pro Choice rally. I needed a student group to sponsor my presence in the hallway. I approached the Women at Berklee group. I realize now that it was pretty ridiculous to assume that the group supported a particular stand on abortion, but I needed a student group sponsor. They gave it to me.
Whenever I hear this song, I think of the hundreds of stories I know of this two year period of activism. The occupation of Storrow Drive in Boston during rush hour. The riot on the Mass Ave bridge when the bombing started. The riot on the mall in the Washington anti-war demonstration. The demonstrations outside of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston where friends of mine were arrested along with thousands of others. The friend that came within inches of hitting Schwarzkopf with a paint balloon at the Gulf War victory parade in Houston.
A lot of time when I get disgusted enough about the state of the nation, I think that my passion will re-ignite my activist spirit. But it doesn’t quite get me there. I tell myself there are bills to pay, and I have kids. And this is true. But sometimes I wish I had more latitude in my life to participate like this again. Unfortunately, there also seems to be a big mental illness trigger for me in activism of this sort. The personal involvement in civil disobedience like taking over a main thoroughfare in Boston or rioting with police and the “support our troops” people is something I will always remember with pride. Yes it’s not much more than a footnote in history, but we showed up to be counted and voice our opposition. And even though this DHOH song came out after it was all over, I remember it all with this song as its soundtrack.