5-30-04, 2:40 PM -
Have you ever been engaged in a late-night philosophical exchange arguing the existence of truth vs. dynamic systems, and as you reach for the wine bottle again, you find the light of morning creeping in through the windows?
I fucking hate it when that happens.
Been living the rock-n-roll lifestyle something fierce this Memorial Day weekend, up late drinking with Paul & Maja and up early rehearsing with Dorian, sleeping as much as possible in between. He's got a drummer now and prospects for additional musicians, so it's actually beginning to look like a band.
And of course, the great thing is that I'm not in charge. the matthew show is kept quite separate, so I can just pick up the bass, show up and rock out. Hallelujah on a stick.
In some ways it doesn't feel like it's been a month since my last letter, but then again, my mind is in a very different configuration these days, and changing by the second.
For starters, I really am becoming a political animal. The ears take in Air America, the eyes scan the blogs and C-Span, and the fingers hammer out debates on bulletin boards. I don't think it's just me that picks up this impression that we are at a turning point in our country's history, and I guess I feel compelled to be a full participant as it happens. If you want to join in, the Air America Place BBS is open to all.
Somehow this coexists with a career war fought on a number of fronts. The sideman business is picking up momentum, the music publisher submissions and decent responses continue apace, and indie & internet radio remain receptive to the album.
But good Pete, where is this all going to end up? That, I suppose, is the thing that can never be known. As long as it seems to be going somewhere at all, I should probably be happy with that. But of course the lack of happiness is what pushes these things to develop in the first place.
Been reading a bit of George Orwell recently (Down and Out In Paris and London), and to considerable surprise, I find that I'm experiencing moments of "hey, I know you" along the way. Orwell made something of a career out of depression and bad situations, and the more my output develops, the more I find that to be a hallmark of what I do. It's nice to find a kindred spirit now & then.
Sitting here in Central Park, in a quiet little spot hidden away from the basking throng on the Great Lawn. For about a week now, I've been telling myself that I should write a letter, but it's been difficult to pare down what to write it about.
I could mention that I saw a sign advertising Nude Male Cleaning Service ("a well-endowed and thorough professional"). I could say that every time I see a fat sailor coming up from the piers during Fleet Week, I try to imagine how the hell he gets around in the bowels of a ship. I could say that one of the quickest ways to disrupt a rehearsal is for a giant rat to go running through the middle of the room. Hard to pin a whole month down, really.
One cool thing that happened was a visit by my parents and my brother (his first time, their second), during which we had a really great time. One thing I always forget is how novel Times Square is to people who don't live two blocks from it. I walk through the blasted thing all the time, so it's lost quite a bit of its alarming crassness to me. But showing someone else through it, I remember my first mothlike attraction to the glow of electric capitalism and advertising gone horribly, horribly biggie-sized.
As part of the family visit, we took the 3-hour Circle Line boat tour (no, not THAT 3-hour tour) around the island of Manhattan, with the requisite pass at the Statue of Liberty and Governors' Island. It's a great tour, and gives a hell of an interesting perspective on this city. For one thing, it's rather shocking to see the amount of undeveloped land that exists up at the northern tip of the island and on some of the smaller islands surrounding it. It's like we went sailing up the Mississippi or something. Okay, it's not quite like that. It is cool, though.
The arrival of Spring is noteworthy in and of itself here in the land of the 6-month winter. Soon I'll be bitching about the oppressive humidity and impending blackout, but for right now, it's great. After getting off early on Friday, I took a few moments to enjoy the afternoon by my apartment window. As the rain began, sitting gave way to leaning, finally giving way to a leisurely half-sleep with a cat wedged in the right angle made by my legs and belly.
Maybe it was the built-up sleep deprivation, but I've seldom had a more enjoyable half-hour to myself. The rain rose and fell, the soft breeze seemed to swell and fade with my breathing, and the cat purred contentedly. This is why I love Spring.
Sadly, the Wifely isn't enjoying the season with me, for she is away in Texas to visit family & friends. Last I heard from her, it was 98 degrees and she was stuck in a nasty thunderstorm. Heh.
I could've gone, but with my perpetual self re-evaluation in full swing, I figured I needed a bit of time to myself. She called yesterday as I was nursing my wine-and-philosophy headache, and it turned out that she had been on a bender with the old Texas crew deep into the night as well. Crazy Texians.
As usually happens during the warmer months, the park is full of kids & dogs of all shapes and sizes. One kid with an unidentifiable foreign accent is being photographed within an inch of his life by his parents in the grass near this bench. He keeps looking at this laptop (the Wifely's). It's only a matter of time before he decides to come have a conversation.
Dogs have a palpable sense of excitement as they patrol the sidewalk edges, searching for new and interesting smells. Very like the kids. Midriffs, also, appear to be curious about the outside world, for there are more of them present than in recent memory.
The foreign kid is discovering that his plastic shovel can be used to bash things in the grass. His path of destruction is veering this way. I'm keeping my eye on him.
It seems that I had more to write about, but it's escaping me. While I try to remember, some business:
As I said in my last Music News missive, I've been working on a calmative for those of you who've been asking about new material. Since I won't actually begin work on the new record until October, I hereby present to you the matthew show's monthly Acoustic Surprise.
The Acoustic Surprise is a previously unreleased simple acoustic version of whatever song I decide to make a simple acoustic version of. This month, it's Mohammed's Radio, an old Warren Zevon tune that I made for a Zevon tribute album whose future is presently uncertain. (the tribute album in question, Hurry Home Early, is now available - ed.) I like it, so I offer it to you as the first matthew show Acoustic Surprise. Keep in mind that it'll only be up for a month until a new one replaces it, so download the sucker now to be safe.
For those like me who have crappy dial-up connections, give me an address & I'll mail you a copy. I have sympathy for the technically ghettoed.
Thanks to all who came out to the C-Note show on the 20th, it was a ball. I have some out-of-town shows being scheduled for late summer, so stay tuned if you're a kinda dorky East Coaster.
Now the kid with the shovel has been leashed and moved on down the sidewalk, so I'm left with a group of lunching Spanish-speaking couples, a squirrel, and a tough-looking pigeon. I'm keeping my eye on him.
Ate a steak for lunch, something I don't often do. It was quite tasty, a London Broil cooked to medium. Mmm, cow. I have to pick up the obnoxiousness of my meat-eating, since most of my friends up here are going vegetarian. Bloody communists.
Just finished reading War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is one of the finest studies of human behavior I've ever come across. It has particular significance in these times, and may make you take another look at your own preconceptions. You may remember that the author, 20-year war correspondent Chris Hedges, faced serious audience hostility at his anti-war Rockford College commencement speech in 2003. Or you may not. Anyway, it's a good read.
Now I'm trapped between wanting to walk around in the park and staying here writing. Guess I should choose.
5:22 PM -
The park is nice today.