Tuesday, July 23

Worse Than Internet Dating

One of the funnier things you see a lot on internet dating sites like OK cupid or Plenty of Fish are profile blurbs by women that start off like “UGH, OK – I’M GONNA GIVE THIS STUPID THING ONE MORE TRY.. BUT I SWEAR IF ANY MORE PERVERTS MESSAGE ME I'M DELETING MY PROFILE”

Ideally, your dating profile is a snapshot of who you are. A little microblurb of your personality fitted together with your desires and requirements for a potential date partner. And yet, because sooo many dudes on dating sites are full of shit, what you end up getting half the time as your first impression of a woman beyond their profile picture is exasperation.

I’m not back on the dating sites yet. I feel like that’s my next logical step, but I’m not really feeling it so far. Things too present in the mind, moments too fresh. I’ll get there again – it’s not like any of that mess is going anywhere anytime soon.
But it’s not the worst thing out there.
I’m not part of the music scene in this town. I know some players and a few people are aware of me. But to most everyone else I’m just a dude in the crowd. But I’ve been set on this goal of changing that – which has led me to the one place where people in my situation go: Craigslist.

Craigslist has a section where musicians looking for other players can post. Where bands can seek drummers to replace theirs after band drama, or guitar players “looking to jam” can post links to soundcloud files. For a few months now I’ve been playing this game in the hopes of finding some sort of  avenue to play in this town – and to be honest, it's kinda going nowhere.
It’s like I’m out here looking for Prince Charming, and all I’m finding is Carlos Danger.
Beyond the people who responded to my ad and never called back, were the ones who organized something and then cancelled as I was driving up to the door of the place to jam. I had one guy ask me to join his band – he said he liked my style, only to find out that his band only plays modern pop-country music, which is nothing like the playing sample I posted online. It’s ok though, he never bothered to ask the rest of his band if it was cool to look for other guitar players, and there was to be a BAND MEETING to discuss the consequences of his actions and decide if he should get kicked off of Carrie Underwood island or not.

And that's all before I got an email from a guy that plays the recorder and wants to do MC5 covers.

My most promising lead so far has been a guy who texts in ALL CAPS who sent me a song list he wants me to learn so we can play at a series of gigs he’s already booked. Nevermind that I’ve never actually met the guy or played any music of any kind with him, we’re literally counting down to a night where we’ll be on stage in front of people even if we don't rehearse at all first.

The song list is about 50 tracks long.
35 of the tunes are by Lynrd Skynrd.
And almost as soon as I hear that, there’s an all-too familiar voice ringing in my mind saying, “So what? If you want to play in this town, this is what you’ve got to do. Take the steps, it’s all work towards a bigger goal.”

She’s right of course, but there’s also Bob Seeger and Kid Rock on this setlist.

One of the issues of course is the town. I could eventually find and join some crazy techno-metal prog outfit and be creatively happy as a clam, but it’s not like a group like that would be able to perform very many places.

The scene in this town is sorta fractured. There’s a ton of cover bands, and then there’s a handful of original groups that seem to be born mostly out of the colleges. There is a terrible shortage of places that host live bands to begin with, but the divisions between these hemispheres are pretty strong.

For example I was listening to a few samples from this this indie artist I sorta dig who is coming to play in town next week who is apparently from Jacksonville, and in his bio he was quick to point out that the best growth of his career came after he moved to Atlanta.

And while I remain hopeful that my efforts will eventually unearth a project that fits my talents and tastes –if I want to work towards being able to properly take advantage of it I need to get off the riverside and jump in the water. And the path of least resistance (at least so far) seems to be finding guys close to my own age who want to play NOW -- regardless of how much I personally dislike the music they want to make.

It's kinda like the dating sites -- where apparently I have very little in common with people my age on first glance, which makes me think I'd be happier running around with nubile young players half my age, even if it ends up that we have nothing in common beyond the most shallow of shared interests.
I’m a guitar cougar.
Earlier this week I reviewed an album for OHN that a dear friend of mine who lives in New York sings on. Hip-hop and soul, just a fantastic multi-faceted vibe to the thing – all the while I was writing about it thinking to myself, “Where is this music in my town – where are the people who want to jam on this kind of vibe?”

Almost like what I really need to do is stop trying to fit my playing into someone else’s vision and try to sketch out what I really want – and then just seek that out only.

But then I think back to all those exasperated and pissed off dating profiles on OK Cupid, and it seems like that’s sort of the same thing.

I know I’m rambling; I’m not really making tons of sense here. I was up half the night playing guitar at low volume, just sorta messing around with chords and licks, really enjoying just playing free. But here again this morning I’m looking at the craigslist ads out there and sending emails to people who contacted me about jamming earlier who I haven’t heard from in a while – and it all just feels like separate worlds.

Not that I’m giving up. Not that I expected it to be easy.

But that with so much great music out there, it doesn’t seem like it should be this hard to find other people who like similar things.  It makes you feel isolated. Like your uniqueness is somehow a hindrance.

Almost like if I could be someone who could bring themself to liking Kid Rock covers in some dive bar, I’d get to where I want to be quicker. Like the answer isn’t so much searching for a match, but accepting the limitations of the atmosphere around you. Like if I sorta find a way to like terrible Rom-Coms or stories about your terrible job I’ll get more dates, which would mean what -- a better chance of finding what I want?
Or a better shot at just finding something good enough?


[Now Playing:  Joshua Worden - "The Road" ]


Friday, July 19

This is Clearly the Greatest Guitar Pedal Demo Video Ever Made

If there's one thing I know, it's that all the sweet honeys out there can't get enough of guitar pedal demo videos on YouTube. A 3-part 2 hour runthrough on all the patch sounds that can be found in one guys Axe-FX II processor? Total panty dropper.

Ok, maybe not. And if you're not a music gear nerd, I can totally understand your possible reluctuance over the prosepect of watching a five-minute demo of a stompbox.
But trust me -- you gotta see this. 


For those of you who might not know, a vocoder is a synth effect used by artists like Daft Punk, Zapp and Roger, and Alantic Starr that enables you to control and shape the sound of your instrument to match the inflections of your voice using a microphone basically as a trigger.

And the company that made this video, JetCityMusic is an actual legitimate music retailer that puts up demo videos of equipment like this all the time.
Also, the song this guy is singing 100% straight-faced to show off this unit is called "Suck My Robot Balls."  

[Now Playing:  Scienze - "Super Girl II feat. Luxx" ]


Thursday, July 18

Voojah Day

How do you notice time passing?

I don’t mean the numbers on a clock, or some beep on your smartphone that wakes you up in the morning – I mean how do you mentally register that where you are at this exact moment now isn’t the same place where you were back then?

One of the frustrating things about parenting is that it’s hard get a clear picture of your kids growing up. Sure you see them getting taller, deal with them moving up in school or taking on different interests or groups of friends or whatever, but when you look at them, they’re still your baby.

My son is 13. He’s a teenager. But when he asks questions about how the world works, or I catch sight of him playing on his own or just being himself he might as well be five years old forever. In a few years that five year old is gonna want to drive, and the thought of that just blows my mind.

And it’s cute and all – but there’s a side to it that’s also not so great, because when you still see your child as a little kid, it’s all too easy just to keep treating them like one – almost like you’re wishfully hoping for them to stay that young as long as you can keep them that way. At its worst, this is the kind of thinking where you end up with mothers breastfeeding 9 year olds, but for the rest of us – it manifests in weird little quirks that seem harmless at first, but then one day make you realize that you’re coddling a young adult instead of preparing them for a life on their own.

For example, I clearly remember a day back in college when I suddenly realized that I had no idea how to cook for myself at all.

And my mother wasn’t really a coddler in any sense of the word – but most of the time when my brother and I were in the kitchen with her (even when she asked us to help her make dinner) we’d eventually hit that point where we were in the way and she’d shoo us out or make us go set the table. Oh I could microwave stuff, but a lot of the things I could have learned BY making dinner alongside my mom never materialized because she was happier handling all those things herself (or at least that's how I remember it).

In fact, I bet if you think about it – those of you who grew up helping your parents cook (or cooking for the family because a parent wasn’t there) probably hated that shit when you were a kid, only to realize when everyone else was burning spaghetti and figuring out the science behind ramen noodles in college that you actually had a skill in your pocket that had some value.

You see it in different ways all around you, like people who insist upon changing their own oil -- But it’s just as apparent in reverse. I’m sure we’ve all known grown adults who work with complex computers all day who couldn’t to build a bookshelf to save their lives and you wonder how they’ve even survived on this planet with that kind of gaping hole in their intellect, and which one of their parents let them down so badly.
All of which makes me worry a little bit when I think of how completely messed up my little boy’s idea of “Déjà vu” is.
I don’t remember exactly where he first heard the term, but I do remember him asking me what it meant. He was three or four at the time, and was in this stage where he was ALWAYS asking questions about everything – even when the things he was asking about weren’t always things he could grasp the answers to. It’s a stage a lot of kids hit, but it’s also a stage I think where a lot of parents come up with the same solution – which is to offer sort of “shorthand” answers that provide the child with enough of closure to get them to STOP ASKING QUESTIONS WHILE THE GAME IS ON, but not really enough information for them to ever really get the concept they were asking about (figuring that at some point in the future you'll have a second chance to clear up the missing details).

Long story short, because of my desire to watch football or whatever – my son grew up accepting my stupid abbreviated answer to his questions so much that now he believes that Déjà vu is the feeling of recognition that happens when you go to the same place more than once.

Not like real Déjà vu, that uncomfortable sense that you’ve experienced events in your life sometime before in the exact same manner – but more like whenever we go grocery shopping he’ll tell me he’s “having Déjà vu right now" because we’re at the same supermarket we went to last week.”

At first it was kinda cute hearing my kid expressing his feeling that he was having some sort of extra-sensory moment every time we went to the drive thru at Wendy’s – but there’s a point where you sorta realize the kid may never really fully grasp this concept, and it makes you feel like a bad parent.

But then there’s this weird other side effect that’s happened because of all this -- Now MY definition of Déjà vu has sorta evolved to match his.

Or perhaps a better way to say it is that when I experience similar things in similar places over time, the best way I can think of to accurately describe it is to invoke my son’s definition of the term, almost like some sort of vernacular or slang.

For example, I went to a dinner party with friends the other night, and it dawned upon me that I was actually in the exact same place less than a year ago listening to the exact same douchebag play horrible acoustic guitar versions of 90’s pop songs – something I documented on twitter at the time, much to the delight of a Facebook friend of mine who soon after invited me to a lunch date that essentially started a relationship (that I’m currently in the process of trying to get over the breakup of) – and that’s not really déjà vu at all.

But it does sort of fit my kid’s fucked up definition of it.

So all the while sharing stories over dinner with friends last night, I couldn’t help but be struck by how vivid the memory of that first night I was there for a dinner for one was in my mind. But more than that – it was impossible not to realize the fact that this memory was from something that happened in February.

So much happened in that relationship. So much passion, so many cool experiences. A lifetimes worth of inside jokes and steamy memories still so fresh in my mind that I can still taste them on my fingertips – it felt like a whole book worth of chapters in my life. It felt like so much more time was involved than there actually was (which is probably why it’s been so hard to get over this feeling of loss since the breakup).

There’s this great old story about Albert Einstein where apparently one day his secretary asked him to try to explain the theory of relativity to her, because she couldn’t grasp the science of it all. And after a moment of thinking he said, “If you put your hand on a hot stove for a minute it seems like an hour. But sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like only a minute. THAT'S relativity.”

I sat with that pretty girl for far more than a hour. But I hate how it still feels like we didn’t get enough time.

I mean, I’ve had other relationships that lasted longer, spanned larger periods of time – but few that were as intense. Few that I felt so strongly about. And I know that in time it will be easier to think about, easier to understand..
But right now all this Déjà vu is killing me.

[Now Playing:  The Safety Fire - "Grind the Ocean" ]


Tuesday, July 16

Calendar Girl

I was handling things fairly well until I hit that voicemail.

There are posts online. Texts and pictures on my phone. Little notes left around my place and in the car. Those have cast their own shadows, reminders of moments gone too soon. But the thing is (and this probably sounds harsher than it really is), you can learn to look past physical things. Or perhaps better said – you can get used to the feelings that come along with seeing them on a regular basis.

Maybe you even need that normalcy. Need it to help you try to carry on like nothing's wrong.

Hurt sucks, and you’d think that in the effort to avoid it you’d be best served pushing all those things away – but that’s not really how it works. Because no one takes vacation pictures when they’re breaking up. No one leaves notes when the fire dies out.

So even as these mementos serve you with the sting of the loss, they’re equally reminders of how good things used to be before. Even a ripped blanket you can still tuck your feet under. And so you’ll hold that rose even if the thorns cut your fingertips, because even as it hurts it reminds you of happier places. Of better times. Of before you fucked everything up.

Certainly it would be more logical to take it all down. Get rid of it like a box of old letters.
But you don’t.
Its part of the process, I guess – or at least it seems to be for the sentimental among us. To have these reminders around as you work through everything, especially when the wound is fresh. It’s like you have to get to a point where you’re comfortable letting it all go. To be able to realize that as much value as these things have in your heart, that they’re just things, just physical bookmarks for memories.

Some people go to the bottle, or the cookie dough ice cream. Maybe that's the smarter play, who knows.

A memory carefully packaged can become a wonderful source of warmth. But you have to get to a place where that heat doesn’t burn your fingertips every time try to reach out for it. So you leave those reminders out – let the immediacy of the hurt scar over.

So you let the days pass, and you see these things around your place. You hear the songs on the playlist. You see the posts on the web. Every day it gets a little easier, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
Until you hit that voicemail.
I don’t even remember saving it, although it’s obvious why I did. A message like that you don’t get rid of. But here I am realizing just how much I miss your voice.

Realizing just how long it’s been since I’ve heard it.

She was so present. So alive in the moment. We both were – it swept over both of us like a wave, but it seemed to suit her core energy so much better. I loved that prescience. I’d never been around anything like it before. And when we were together it flowed like water. But what I didn’t seem to get was that she loved my prescience as well. She loved the energy that was radiating all around me.

My world was in such a great place. I had this mojo rolling all around. I was feeling oddly comfortable in my job. I was writing, playing guitar. I had all this loose free time at work where goofing off wasn’t really at any odds with my productivity. I’d packed away a lot of old memories and baggage that were holding me back for no good reason, moved into a new place, dropped a bunch of weight –I was honestly feeling good about where I was. And when I get like that, when I start feeling bulletproof, people notice.

Which is why, when things around me changed so radically -- when the heat rising off my surface became something different – she couldn’t help but start to worry about it.

And I could try to put up any number of excuses here about how I was completely blindsided by losing my job. About how depressed I felt, and how all the uncertainty about my finances and future and the stress it raised took over my focus – but the truth is that none of that really matters.

Jobs come and jobs go. I had the love of a beautiful woman. Something far more important, something far more valuable.

She didn’t love me because I was employed. She loved me because I was there. We fed off each other’s energy. We found a way to live in each others moment -- writing stories and making music together. Singing with friends, racing across town just for a few minutes together at lunch, travelling across the state on a whim. That wasn’t one person trying to impress another with expensive dinners or carefully planned dates. That was two people just running inside a bolt of electricity and passion, not caring where it took them.
At some point, regardless of why – I stopped being there.
I look back on it now and honestly a lot of it doesn’t make sense at all. In time perhaps I’ll get the kind of perspective that will enable me to connect the dots better, to get a sense of where I started needing her energy to feed me instead of being part of a partnership that nourished and inspired each other – but the fact is that it happened.

We’d talk about it; she’d let me know that it wasn’t acceptable that she was worried about it and (even if neither of us could really put a finger on what “it” specifically was) and that we couldn't go on like that forever. And I knew things were different. It was impossible not to notice. But saying you’re going to fix something and actually knowing how to do it are two different things.

After a while it reached a point where she had to make a decision.

The shitty part is that I get that. I understand that part of the thinking. The logic in looking at something and feeling like it’s not moving forward without her having to get out and push leading to a point where you realize that’s not a relationship at all, so why keep pretending it is one – it makes all the goddamn sense in the world.

What I don’t get is why things changed. How I got so far off the track. I mean, I loved her. How the hell could I let things slip through my fingertips like that?

Even worse -- this isn’t the first time in my life someone took a hard look at loving me and deciding that the risk involved was too high for an investment. It’s essentially the same kind of decision j made when she chose not to come back. Circumstances and specific details might be a little different, but in the end it was the same call.

That in itself is something to wrestle with.

But right here – with my phone against my face and your voice so unexpectedly in my ear again, it’s hard to see where any of that examination will really get me right now.

“Knowing myself better” might have its benefits..
But it’s not going to bring you back.

[Now Playing:  Etta James - "Damn Your Eyes" ]


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