10-25-05, 5:14 PM -
It's true that my attention is best held by change, that specter feared so much by so many & chased so recklessly by so many others.
My own relationship with change is complex. A large part of me yearns for stability, for a place and life that's all my own. It's that dream's failure to materialize which drives me to seek change. Tried something, didn't work, let's try something else. Searching for something that will make further searching unnecessary.
Despite this, change has occurred so frequently in my life that I find there is now a part of me that likes change in and of itself. The planning, the researching, the knowledge that soon the world will look different than it does today, if just a bit.
This may explain my love for the transitional seasons, one of which is making itself known in New York at present. Spring and Autumn are nothing but change, Nature's moving vans and redecorators shipping in to bring the world its new draperies. Motion is inherent in their presence, a sense of time shifting, of being between stations, neither here nor there.
This is the way I talk now, I notice. My belief that flowery language is intended to obscure simple truth is one of the casualties of my most recent set of changes. Living in New York and reading far more than I ever did in my twenties have taught me that life is complexity, and that truth is not simple, much as we'd like it to be.
All of this should make me more trepidatious about the dump-truck load of change that will soon empty itself on my doorstep. A cross-country move, a true stab at entrepreneurship, the challenge of a new album, and lest we forget, fatherhood. It would seem like too much, but really, each is happening because of and ostensibly to benefit the others. Sometimes change is a package deal. You don't buy a shrimp boat unless you learn how to shrimp. You don't learn how to shrimp unless you get on a shrimp boat. You can't get on a shrimp boat unless you go where the shrimp boats are, etc, etc.
The odd man out in these changes is the fatherhood bit, which in point of fact doesn't facilitate any of the other changes, but it's pretty good at providing a sense of urgency, a necessary component. Not to mention adding yet another factor to my ever-expanding worldview.
This is a bit of a tangent, but it's somewhat related. Throughout my first 28 years in Texas, I was forever hearing about how people in New York City were disconnected from reality. To an extent, I bought that. Or rather, I didn't question it. Life in a place so bizarrely different from my hometown was sure to skew the bearings of its residents, I suppose the reasoning went.
I will return to Texas armed to debunk such a ridiculous notion. No disrespect intended, but New Yorkers are forced to confront reality on a daily basis in a way that most Americans aren't.
Like my past and future self, citizens in most American towns and cities get to view the world through windows. Car windows, house windows, office windows, restaurant windows. There is very little physical contact with the world between those windows. From the parking lot to the place behind the window is as far as most will go. And yes, for purposes of this argument, a backyard fence is a window.
Every morning, millions of New Yorkers step out of their houses onto streets jammed with hundreds of different kinds of people. They navigate these streets attentively, for the unexpected may lurk even around familiar corners. Upon reaching the subway, they find themselves in extremely close quarters with a remarkable cross-section of humanity. Every corner of the globe is represented on any given train, some representatives being fresh off the boat. Upon exiting the train, the workday is spent interacting with people from many different backgrounds, foreign as often as domestic.
In America, there is much talk about what's "normal." The question New York forces one to ask is, "Normal to whom?" Our present neighbors think nothing of wearing furry hats in summer, never wearing mixed-fabric clothing, and refusing to flip light switches between Friday and Saturday sundowns. To at least 1,000,000 people in the world (twice the population of Fort Worth), that is normal. To most of our block, we are not normal at all.
So the question must be asked: Who is the most disconnected from reality? The person whose definition of "normal" is based on a group of people largely from the same place who live largely the same way? Or the person whose definition encompasses people from all over the world, people who they know personally?
One of the most valuable lessons a Middle American honky can learn as a New Yorker is what it's like to be a minority. We have lived in two neighborhoods where we were a distinct minority, and I must say that the world looks a little different from the outside of someone's "normal" window. It may sound a bit presumptuous, but this is probably one of the reasons why I get along better with many black New Yorkers than white ones.
And white people, of course, are the glaring hole here. And by white people I mean the trust-funded pseudo-bohemian types, the ones whose imprint is most often felt in the rest of the country. I once thought I wanted to befriend those people, the NPR and Village Voice set who debate contrarian ideals in candlelit cafes retrofitted into neighborhoods that are just on the right side of the shabby/chic divide. Bedheaded guys and horn-rimmed art chicks, et al. However, I have spent over 3 years coming into frequent contact with this segment of the population (not to mention the ones in Dallas), and I have decided that yes, they suck. Where disconnected views of reality exist in New York, they can often be found in this demographic.
However, these people are not the majority. In fact, they are a rather pitiful minority, but they do of course have the greatest means to be heard in the country at large. But for all of this, I still don't believe that they are any more disconnected from reality than the average American. Really, "everyone's right, diversity fixes everything" is certainly no more harmful than "everyone else is wrong, bomb the weirdos." As with alcohol and pastries, forethought and moderation are often key.
But don't for a minute assume that the above thesis presumes to state that New Yorkers by nature have a well-adjusted view of reality. There are enough willfully ignorant fucks in this town to fill...well, most of New York City. I'm just saying that the lessons are out there if you choose to look. Most don't, of course, and thus I remain, as ever, an impossible misanthrope. Tough cheese, Gromit.
11-2-05, 9:48 PM -
Word from the midwives is that Wifely's well on the way to labor sometime this week. I'm rather relieved at that. This whole baby thing is rather frustrating and disorienting in the absence of a baby. I know he's only a thin layer of skin & fluid away from us, but he might as well be in Peshawar. The world inside that womb is an entirely different one than mine, and neither his mind nor mine can comprehend what the other is thinking right now. Though I guess his mind isn't thinking much of anything that isn't about food or comfort. Still, I'll feel a lot more connected when our eyes can see the same things. More when I know more...
Been reading some rather daring music history by an interesting fellow named Piero Scaruffi. He's a cognitive scientist and poet most of the time, but he's taken the time over 35 years to amass a startlingly comprehensive knowledge of the history of rock music. I don't agree with all of his conclusions (Zappa beats the Beatles...dunno about that), but his scholarship is rather impeccable. The fact that raucous songs with titles like We're Gonna Rock We're Gonna Roll and Good Rockin' Tonight In Texas appeared in record stores seven years before the acknowledged date of rock's first appearance is just one of the fascinating tidbits Scaruffi removes from the dust of obscurity. His whole approach centers around the theory that the charts are an aberration, and that the true history of rock can only be traced by ignoring them and just looking at what was out there when. The results are definitely worth looking at, which you can do here.
I also rediscovered some music I had put in my brain's archive box many years ago, and only pulled out again on a whim. For those who don't own the Proclaimers' little-known first album, This Is The Story, you're missing some of the most joyous and infectiously melodic music you will ever hear. This is the album the two bespectacled Reid brothers made when they couldn't afford a band, and consequently is just the two of them in a room, wailing away with an enthusiasm few have matched. I bought the cassette over a decade ago, committed most of it to memory, and hadn't felt the need to return to it until recently. Upon coming across the CD version on an online shopping excursion, I ordered it, and damned if it ain't even better than I remembered it. Better still, the CD version has complete lyrics in the sleeve, so I can ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT THE BLOODY SCOTS ARE SINGING ABOUT. Sure, some of it's silly, but as Craig Reid sings, "I wouldn't know a single word to say, if I flattened all the vowels and threw the 'R' away..." And I friggin' dare you to listen to The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues and not leap about in a frantic dance that might prove unseemly if you happened to be wearing a kilt. And if you ARE wearing a kilt, I recommend you don't listen to The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues.
Speaking of things rediscovered, I've finally been able to...gasp...put up a new Acoustic Surprise.
I know, I know, it's WAAAAY overdue. But now, armed with my new ProTools setup, I've done a bigass cover of the Church's classic Under the Milky Way which I believe you'll find enjoyable. But remember, download it while you can, since it may be replaced by a new one as soon as 2007...
Still laying tracks for the second album, and it's going well. I feel really good about what's been done so far, and I look forward to sharing it with you next year. The learning curve on the new studio setup hasn't been as steep as it was in 2000, so hopefully there'll be fewer "oh crap" moments than the making of texas was afflicted with. Big kudos to deanpence, Doug Kwartler, and Paul for helping me grasp and execute the newfangledyness without fatal incident.
Speaking of deanpence, he and I are still producing the deanpence cornhole show every week, and it appears to be getting an audience. New episodes are posted on Sunday night, and all episodes can be downloaded here. It's fun for all ages, provided those ages are over 18.
I had a bit of an unnerving experience the other day while walking around in what appeared to be a food court, but turned out to be a memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War. Its anonymity kinda disturbed me, so I wrote a bit about it. Your take may depend on...well, lots of things, but here it is regardless.
10:44 PM -
I gots to get to bed. Hell, by the time this gets read, there may be a new little person in the world with my DNA onboard and ready to make them completely socially unacceptable. I'm looking forward to it.
I'll leave you with the words of the Reid brothers:
inspiration is above my station
Thoughts are melancholy and I let them pass
I tend to view this nation
Through the condensation
On a dirty glass..."
- The Proclaimers, Misty Blue
Make of it what you will, I'm off to have a quiet bourbon in a relatively clean glass. Tell that lady next door that 11PM is not the time for Mountain. Nor, really, is any time.