Friday, July 28

Dear George Bush

Ok, I know we don't talk much. You don't really know me from Adam and I kinda think you're a dumbass. However, I've come across a troubling situation, and well.. I'd like to ask for your help. It won't be a tough request for you to handle -- in fact it seems like something you already kinda want to do to ..er for this country. It's just that up until today I thought it was a really bad idea.
Strange how opinions change, eh?
What I'm talking about here is outsourcing.

I'm talking about clearing the roads and giving big business a corner to cut. I'm talking about opening up the floodgates and taking jobs and income away from Americans and their families. Normally I would be really against this. Normally I'm a big proponent of giving people in this country the chance to prove themselves, of improving educational standards and job training resources so that people can get the skills they need to grow with industry and provide the innovations that help make this country great.
But sometimes you just have to wake up, see
things for what they are, and make the change.
And that's why I'm asking you to put your cronies to work and get this done. Because something has to be done. And so I say outsource.
Outsource the fuck out of the DMV and the county traffic court system.
Hire anybody you want. Get Hezbollah on the phone if you want, I don't care. Just please, please, please take it out the hands of the fucktards who are running it now.

Maybe some background would help to understand the situation. See a while back I was hanging out with friends and having fun, when closing time rolled around and I decided to drive home. I took the same route I always take, including a left turn onto a a road called College street. It's a one-way road that after a certain hour is overseen by a flashing red traffic light, and not much else. And so, like a lot of people in my neighborhood at that hour (when there isn't a pedestrian in sight) I didn't so much stop cold at the College Street light as much as I just sorta rolled through it on my way home.

Had I known there was a cop parked on the other side of the corner, I probably wouldn't have done it -- but hey, these things happen.

Make no mistake here -- I ran that light. I broke that law. The cop gave me a ticket and there was little I could do to argue with it. Unfortunately he also gave me another ticket informing me that I was driving on a suspended license (which was news to me). Something about the insurance lapsing after the separation, and my name still being on the policy at the time. Not happy news by any means, but whatever.

So two days later I go to pay these things, which of course means standing in the cattle lines and waiting your turn forever only to find out that the place I was at didn't handle tickets like this, I would have to go somewhere else. So I drive across town, pay one ticket and then hear that I can't pay the other one yet, because the officer didn't fill out the form correctly and the girl behind the counter didn't have all the information she needed to process the fine - call back in a couple of weeks.

So a couple of weeks go by and I call the people and they give me a court date to attend a month after that. I asked if there was just a fine I could pay or something but no -- I gotta see the judge.
Problem is, I wrote down the wrong day.
So I realize my screwup and feel bad about it as I tell the story to the girl at the traffic court. She doesn't seem to care one way or the other and gives me a sheet of paper that says Room #346 before loudly announcing "Next customer" and shuffling me off.

It took about four phone calls to figure out where Room 346 was, including an automated phone voice that says "for all other inquiries press 5" -- which I do, only to be connected to the same voice saying "if you have other inquiries, hang up and dial this other number."

Now all of these little hassles are bothersome -- but it's impossible to ignore the fact that a lot of this mess was really my fault. I ran the red light, I had the SNAFU with the insurance company, and I messed up writing down the court date. Where I come from, getting the runaround from an automated phone system after all of that is something we call karma. Frustrating at the moment, but probably well-deserved after all my misgivings.

But this morning I go to the courthouse downtown (nesting place of Room 346) to find an office with a desk in the front held by a receptionist playing computer solitaire and a room in the back where the Judge does her work. They take my paperwork and tell me to sit outside. There are empty chairs in the office, so it doesn't make much sense, but I do as I am told. 20 minutes later solitaire girl comes out and says I can talk to the judge. I walk in and the judge hands me back my same paperwork and says that I have a new court date set for 2 weeks from now and that a warrant has been issued for my arrest.
"What's the charge?" I ask.
"Failure to appear before a judge."
This Mr. President -- is where things start to unravel.

I don't know -- maybe other people think differently, but in situations like this, my logic nerve kicks in. Apparently this isn't something that happens very often in county traffic court, or at the very least to this particular judge. Because she seemed really thrown off when I asked her "which judge?"
She thought for a moment and then said, "Well.. me."
"Ok," I said, "I'm here now."
"Yes, but your court date is in two weeks."
"Sure, but we're both here now."
There was no answer. I tried a different approach:
"Well what happens if someone serves me this warrant?"
"You'll be arrested and then brought before me"
"You."
"Yes, Me."
"You that's standing right in front of me, you?"
"That's correct."
This goes on for like 5 minutes.

At one point I motioned to the cop who is stationed in the hall and said "you mean that this policeman could arrest me right now based off this warrant you issued?" She nods yes. "And then what?"
"He'd bring you before me."
I actually entertained the thought of surrendering myself to the officer so that he could.. bring me back across the hall to her, but in my experience cops are rarely the sporting type, so I kept the idea to myself. But the cop did offer a piece of helpful advice, telling me to just "lay low and stay out of the path of anyone in a police uniform."

So basically I went and saw a judge who told me that she had issued a warrant so that I would come and see her, and then a cop told me that if I avoid cops everything would be ok.
And so now I guess I'm.. on the lam?
[Listening to: We Are Scientists, "The Method"]


Tuesday, July 25

Tinkerbell

Remember a little while back when I said I wouldn't pay $12 to see Paris Hilton naked?
It seems the tables have turned.
Recently someone opened up a Club Paris in town, and it turns out they're hiring for a marketing position, which I felt I could handle.

But when I went to apply they told me they would need a picture as well as a resume, which I thought was a little messed up.
Its an office job, not Hooters.
Still, I really need the money, so I strapped on a pair of orange bootie shorts and sent her some candids.
..I'll let you know how it turns out.
[Listening to: Mickey Avalon, "Jane Fonda"]


Friday, July 14

Barchetta

One of the things they tell you to do when you get a sunburn is to soak in a tub filled with water and a bit of vinegar. But when I got home from the beach and looked around my kitchen, the only thing I could find was a bottle of red wine vinegar flavored with ..garlic.
Which I'm thinking isn't quite going
to give me the results I'm looking for.
[Listening to: Spineshank, "Smothered"]


Wednesday, July 12

Santino

Sometimes it's enough to just overcome. To rise above and persevere. You can have pride. You can feel good about what you produce. You can love the flavor of your own cooking, the sound of your own music, or the way the words look on the page after you've written them.
But sometimes you need more.
It's kinda strange how we sometimes need to feel validated in our own individuality. How we almost need that feeling of comparison against the rest. I think sometimes there's an honest place creative people reach when it's not enough to simply complete the process. You need input from others, or perhaps just the ability to see how your abilities and inspiration "stacks up" when put to the test.
But even more curious are the times when things like that get lost.
It's hard to explain. I wish more people knew what my guitar playing sounded like. I wish more people read my writing. But at the same time, it's impossible to deny the fact that I really want them to like it. It sounds narcissistic (and sometimes it certainly is), but I have a desire to be heralded. I want to be discussed.

It's like this line you walk without knowing it. I think there's an real importance behind the desire to have a sense of validation in what you do. But the place that feeling lives in borders so close to the insecurities we keep just beneath our surfaces, that it's easy to get things mixed up. Or to put it another way, it's easy to get lost in the need for critique and the desire to be loved.

I don't think we always see ourselves doing it, either. Bands and musicians constantly send me information on MySpace, constantly provide me with links to their music, their work, their statements. On a certain level you can't help but respect the effort. But at the same time there's just no way to ignore just how utterly bad some of these bands are. And not just because their style isn't one that I enjoy, but that the simple quality of what they do doesn't measure up.

I think in a way that's what draws people to reality television. Not the tabloid crap where random handfuls of semi-attractive college students are locked in some secluded house and offered some cash prize on the other side of some flaming hoop where all they have to do is eat bugs or backstab their roomate or get the most drunk and ridiculous that particular season. I'm talking more about the competition-themed shows that seem to be emerging lately where people whose skills and creativity have never had the chance to be seen are put to the test to see if they really are any good.

It's hard not to identify with someone who has dreamed all their life of sharing their gifts with the world. It's hard not to instantly spot the people who have dreamed all their lives of living a lifestyle easily associated with a certain type of creative success, who perhaps even seem to embody all the characteristics of the people who are successful in that field to the point where it might even seem like in some sense they belong in that world, regardless of the fact that they may lack the determination, drive, or talent to get them through the door.

The chance to recognize all of those qualities in someone, qualities that you can easily see in yourself sometimes.. it's hard not to find it addicting in a way.
Almost like it's you up on that screen being put to the test.
So many times have I just sat in this place messing around with my guitar, developing ideas and just going with whatever inspiration happened to be around at the time, only to realize halfway through that a) something good is happening here and b) I'm the only one who's getting to hear it. You can kick yourself a thousand times for not keeping a tape recorder nearby, but the fact remains that sometimes the easiest way to extinguish the spark is to push the 'record' button in the expectation that brilliance will somehow simply just ..happen.

It sucks to see talented people cut off their own legs. It's sucks to think that I might be doing that to myself sometimes. But you see it happen everywhere you look. The apparent sweetness of success ruining the delicate balance of the batter that got you there in the first place. The indie artist who seems suddenly too eager to be on MTV. The pro athlete who has all the skills and tools, but never seems driven enough to come through when it really matters. It's not like these people don't work hard at what they do, it's not that they don't have the tools to succeed.

It's that somehow we all have the ability to undercut ourselves, and we're not always able to resist Icarus temptations. I think we all want to be loved, but it's odd to think about how that desire sometimes manifests itself. Will you do anything for it? Will you forsake those around you? Betray your own principles? Will you lose yourself in the process, only to find it when some other dude is shaking the hands of the judges when it's all said and done?

At the same time it's not like personal creative fulfillment can be measured in terms of winning and losing on some television show. All too many times that comes down to popularity, to the bridges you burn and the ones that you don't. What I'm talking about (or at least trying to) is gaining the respect of your contemporaries, having the chance win or lose to get critique by those who have the ability to know whether something is worthwhile or not.

It's just that creativity is such a personal thing that it's hard not to see approval or rejection of your vision as a validation or disapproval of yourself.

And when you think about it that way, it actually kind of concerns me that more people haven't heard my music or read my words. Not so much in the sense that I need outside opinions to feel like the things I create are worthwhile, but that there has to be a reason why.

Sometimes I think I hesitate. I think I fear the criticism, the rejection. Sometimes to the point where I don't take the risk. Or perhaps better put -- I don't take enough of the risks it would take to really put myself out there beyond the level I already do.

I wonder if sometimes the streaky nature of my writing isn't sometimes more telling. Those periods where the words won't come, or it's too easy to find other things to do instead of draft, post, or revise.

I don't like these periods of doubt. I don't like all the questions, the thinking too much, the hesitations.

At the same time, it seems like all too often I follow up those voids with periods where I write so much it's almost like I'm lashing out, doing whatever I can not to be forgotten.
You can't force inspiration.
But you can't dictate it either.
In the end I suppose that's the most frustrating aspect of all. That it's not about drive, dedication, or desire. It's not how long you spend in the weight room, the hours you practice, or even the people you know in the business or the breaks that fall into your lap whether you're ready for them or not.

It's about the balance of all those things put together.

And you know how that goes:
It's either in,
..or it's out.
[Listening to: Taproot, "Mine"]


Monday, July 10

Gate Station

Gravity. Vector dynamics. It's like a constant struggle between these invisible forces that want to hold you down without pulling you under. It happens every day, yet you can get to a point where you don't really notice it.
How does that happen?
When you stand on the shore, two-foot surf looks like nothing. If you were somehow able to stand stright up on the surface to the water, the waves themselves wouldn't even come up to your waist. But that's not the way you experience them. You see them from surface level - bobbing on your toes half-in and half-out of the ocean. You see them lying flat on your belly against the wax-ridged edge of a surfboard.
When you're half underwater, anything can seem too much to handle.
So many swirling currents. Eddys. Undertows. Jobs that haven't appeared, futures beyond grasp, feelings that never seem to fade.

The water peaks behind you, higher than you were expecting it to be. Whitewater summits and suddenly you realize you're too far inside for everything to go just the way you want it to. There's this moment where you have to make a decision. Do you push into it -- knowing the takeoff is going to be late, that there will be rapids that will make everything else difficult, especially when it seems like the things you want, the things you truly enjoy only last for what seems like a moment...
..Or do you wait for the next one?
The real answer is not to get caught inside. The real solution is to be in a place where water wants to fall, but hasn't just yet. Where you can choose between dropping in or paddling out without worrying about what's coming up behind.
Instinct. Abandon.
Experience. Fear.
Invisible forces pushing and pulling, like the glare from a rising sun making everything else difficult to discern.

..Quit thinking so much.
Stop trying to figure everything out.
After all, Where's that ever gotten you?
[Listening to: Injected, "Only Hurts Awhile"]


Saturday, July 8

Actually Spoken During the Course of My Day

"Stop eating the lube!"
[Listening to: Paris Burning, "Third Floor"]


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