Well, it seems to have happened again. I lost my writing momentum. This is not the first time this has happened, as you’re well aware if you’ve spent any time sniffing around the blog. Despite being unemployed and having neither a wife nor a family to take care of, I have a very busy life, and sometimes I’m just not sure how much of it—good or bad—I want to share with the Internets.
I do know that a good way to get the momentum going again is just to start typing and see what happens. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Worth mentioning is the fact that I seem to have developed a pinched nerve near my right shoulder blade, which makes my index finger numb and causes occasional fits of shooting pain through my arm. This makes things like driving a car, playing musical instruments, and using a computer (in other words, most of the things I do with my life) much less fun than they normally are.
I was housesitting for almost two weeks for FrenchSinger and his wife, keeping their three cats company while they were on vacation in Canada. In addition to the cats, they have a good-sized television, and all the major movie channels, and a Netflix subscription, which meant that this was the primary activity for the majority of my time at their house:
It’s not exactly the greatest picture in the history of pictures, so if you can’t quite make out the details, it’s me lying on my side on the sofa, with two of the cats perched on my leg. A couple of times, I could swear that vegetable matter was beginning to form between my other leg and the sofa, as I watched marathons of shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Top Gear.
I also got my passport, at long last. A couple of my friends who live elsewhere in the world have been bugging me to get one for years now, but the hassle and expense (years of underemployment are taking their toll) of ordering my ‘real’ birth certificate as well held up the process a bit. I had the same problem that Barack Obama did, with an unofficial copy, which used to be perfectly acceptable until the world went crazy. No more, however, since my shiny new passport is here in my hot little hand. Well, not in my hand right now, but you know what I’m saying.
The brochure that came with it says on the front, “With your U.S. Passport, the world is yours!” So it would seem. Now all I have to do is use the thing, as much as possible. The first place will be beautiful Vancouver, B.C., for a gig in a few weeks. The most likely places after that are Switzerland and France, although who knows; I may get a random jonesing for Iceland or Japan or somewhere like that. I’ll keep you posted.
I’ll leave you with what is currently my favorite piece of music. I came across it in a documentary film, and looked it up in the credits, and have been obsessed with it ever since. It’s “Nimrod”, from the Enigma Variations, by English composer Edward Elgar. It’s absolutely stunning, and well worth the four minutes it will take you to watch this video of the excellent (and very stern-looking) Daniel Barenboim conducting.
There, see? I told you. Beautiful, noble and epic.
Incidentally, I’m still taking submissions from guest bloggers. I had three or four people say they were interested, but I suspect that my own lack of blogging momentum was contagious to them, and the interest seems to have temporarily waned. So come on. Let’s all ‘fire up’, as they say. Actually, I’m not sure who says that, but let’s do it anyway.
A thought occurred to me last night; while it’s true that I’ve been good about keeping up my blog lately, it would be nice if I had some help. That thought led to, What if I recruited some of my friends, all of whom are creative and intelligent in their own right, to contribute a story every once in a while? Brilliant. A bunch of new and (hopefully, ha ha) compelling content for BFS&T, and my friends get to have an occasional outlet that most of them don’t normally have. Not to mention the fact that I get to find out something new about each of my friends who contributes. Everybody wins. So don’t be too surprised (or do, if you want) if some guest bloggers appear from time to time.
On the home front, times are still really tough. I’ve applied for about a million jobs (okay, a few hundred), which have led to exactly one interview and not an ounce of success. The problem is that I have plenty of skills in music, but precious little going for me outside of that. The types of jobs that I’ve gone to in the past have evaporated in this slowly-improving-but-still-crappy economy, and by the colossal number of un- or underemployed people here in MyFairCity. To add insult to injury, quite a few gigs have cancelled in the last month or so (due to ‘lack of budget’), which has left me with essentially zero income. If not for my family’s intervention, I would be on the street, in my car, or in any number of other untenable situations. I was struck down the other night by feelings of utter hopelessness, which is a new and unpleasant trend lately. I could use some good thoughts, or advice, or prayers, or whatever parlance of your choice.
I’m trying desperately to maintain my famously indomitable spirit, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult in the face of the constant and crushing feeling that my life is careening out of control, and I’m going slowly crazy. Suffice it to say that anxiety and depression are off the charts. Creativity is practically nonexistent.
It seems to be a season for suffering. A week before Sandy Hook, Portland had its own gunman shoot up Macy’s in the nearby Clackamas Town Center mall, which traumatized the city. A couple of weeks later, one of my bandmates and her wheelchair-bound significant other were struck by a car that blew through a stop sign and blindsided them in a left turn as they walked across the crosswalk. They were only slightly injured, thankfully, but it’s now been quite a few weeks since the accident, and they’re still dealing with the physical ramifications, the emotional frustrations, and the insurance issues. A very well-known musician friend has been recently diagnosed with cancer. Particularly cruel is the fact that it manifested itself in his neck, and he’s a singer. The support shown by the community has been absolutely astounding, but he’s far from being out of the woods yet. Here’s a link to his story, and how to do what you can to help.
Be all that as it may, this was not intended to be a pity party, I just felt I should let you in on the magnitude and severity of the things I (and others, whose issues definitely put my own in perspective) have been dealing with lately. But it ain’t all gloom around here. More frequent breaks in the weather—as well as the longer hours of sunlight—are proving to be worth their weight in gold (Can time and light be worth their weight in gold? ANYWAY. Moving on.), and I’ve been going for long walks almost every day. I do have a couple or three music production projects scheduled for to begin in the near future, and that’s the best way I know of to improve my spirits and slough off the yoke of dark thoughts.
So that’s the news at this point. I appreciate your continued support and good ‘parlance’ in these stressful and difficult times. Here’s hoping they’re over soon, and dare I say it (albeit in a Tiny Tim falsetto voice), may God bless us, every one.
Since this is the first entry of 2013, it must be time for a recap of the better entries from last year. It’s always fun to go back and revisit some that I may have forgotten about in the intervening months. To wit:
Not a lot to choose from this year, since I wasn’t exactly ‘on my game’ on the blogging front, but these are a good representation. I’d forgotten about the doomsday cult dream. Craziness. Makes me want to go through and re-read (and/or re-post) some of the other vivid dreams I posted over the years. Or you can do that yourself, should you feel so inclined, by clicking here to the ‘dreams’ tag, which will bring up every single one I’ve ever posted. Not on one page, don’t worry.
So, on we go to 2013. Here’s to a fitter, happier, more productive BFS&T, in a cage. On antibiotics.
This blog’s sixth birthday happened while I was in Seattle over the Christmas holiday, but I made a mental note to post as soon as I got back.
It’s been quite a year, full of travel, and music, new friendships, and even a bit of romance when I least expected it (isn’t that always the way it works?). It’s also been a year that saw the beginning of my new band, and our amazing new CD that we released in August. It’s been a year of very little money, and I’ve really had to scrape by for months on end.
I’m just starting to get my blogging momentum going again, after many months off, so while I’ve broken made many promises here regarding the frequency of future entries, I will say that my goal is to bring many more of the stories from this past year to fruition over the next few weeks and months.
In the meantime, if you know of any music-related or data entry jobs, please let me know.
Here’s to six more years of beauty, humor, sadness, and truth!
When I left you hanging at the edge of the cliff with Vinnie’s story, I didn’t realize that it would take A MONTH AND A HALF to get back to the story. Huge apologies for that.
When we left off, Vinnie had disbanded his Invasion band (truth be told, the singer and bassist quit and formed the band Slaughter, which was much more successful, and still exists today), and the so-called ‘grunge’ of Seattle made 80′s metal obsolete. The guys from Kiss are pretty tight-lipped about their dealings with Vinnie, but Gene Simmons famously called him “the most self-destructive person I’ve ever met.” Vinnie also apparently reneged on contracts with Kiss, or failed to sign them completely, and even ended up suing the band—twice!—for songwriting royalties he felt he was owed. Apparently the courts didn’t agree, since he lost both of the lawsuits.
In the late 80′s, he also dabbled in songwriting for other people, including—somewhat surprisingly—The Bangles.
Color me surprised, then, when in 1992, Vinnie got called to write songs with Kiss again for their Revenge record. Most people didn’t see that one coming, but apparently he swore up and down to Gene and Paul that he was sorry for all the shenanigans he’d pulled, and that he wanted to make a fresh start with the group. They agreed, but it soon became obvious that Vinnie was still Vinnie, and that it wasn’t going to work out.
Vinnie has spent the intervening years as a recluse, turning up at occasional Kiss conventions, and even awkwardly sitting in with a tribute band in Sweden called Kiss This. Watching Vinnie fake his way through these songs is hilarious and priceless, since he clearly doesn’t know them. The guitar solos you hear in the video aren’t played by Vinnie, they’re played by the band’s usual guitarist. I suspect that Vinnie’s guitar isn’t even plugged in. See what you think.
These days, Vinnie seems to have become obsessed with embellishing his reputation. In 2011, he was offering an online chat session on his web site for the admission price of five hundred dollars. He sells his own brand of V-shaped guitars for the astronomical price of nine thousand dollars, unless you want the gold-plated one, which boosts the price to well over twelve thousand dollars. Good luck with that, Vinnie. And his questionable reputation still lives on. The guy who wrote the following piece (in 2011!) is a guitar maker who used to do some work for Vinnie, and who also currently sells his own V-shaped guitars.
“In my past experiences with Vinnie I am aware of certain issues that will likely trainwreck this instrument. If you want details contact the Jackson Custom Shop, they will tell you why they discontinued the original model. In the case of many multitalented individuals there are certain eccentricities that cause them to become their own worst enemies. I am and always will be a fan of Vinnie’s work but working with Vinnie was very unproductive for us.”
Six months before the online chat thing happened, however, he had a bit of a kerfuffle with his wife, allegedly punching her in the face and dragging her through broken glass, before she drove herself to the police station in Nashville, where the couple live today. Also, the police found a bunch of dead dogs, who had apparently been killed by their ‘aggressive’ dog, on their property. Here’s the news story from the incident.
The picture I posted at the end of my previous blog entry was his mug shot from that night.
It would be unacceptable not to let Vinnie speak for himself, regarding all the things I’ve posted here so far. I came across this rebuttal on another web site:
“There is much to say to all of you but the most important thing for me to let you know is that what you have been reading is not true. Irresponsible reporting and fabrication of events that never happened destroys people’s lives, and that is exactly what has happened.
“It’s very unfortunate we live in times where you’re guilty even if you’re innocent, but it’s the way of the world now. It’s also sad to me that not only do the media get away with publishing unsubstantiated sensationalized reports that are then taken as ‘the truth’, but people now routinely hide behind their computers and usernames to intentionally inflict enormous damage without consequence, all for their own amusement. What they don’t know is the pain they cause will always be greater than their fabrication or exaggeration.
“About my precious dogs: My dogs and cat have been, are, and will always be the most important thing in my whole life. I love them more than my words can say. I look at dogs and cats as ‘perfect little people’ with loving and unconditional hearts that I believe God gifted to us to help comfort us through our lives, which always seems to be filled with pain in one way or another.
“I have 20 dogs that were rescued since 1999 from unspeakable and horrible abuse. I never turned my back or said no if a dog or cat needed a loving home. Each one of them is spoiled rotten; great food, love, comfort, care and shelter. They never leave my side and sit with me when I watch videos or when I play my guitar, the sound of which seems to fascinate them.
“Out of my twenty dogs, half of them are big dogs and the others are small. Fencing was put up to separate the big dogs from the little ones who could roam without any problem. One day, without my knowing, some of the big dogs accidentally got loose somehow and killed three of my babies. When I found out, it was too late. I was shattered and just too devastated for words. I still am and always will be. I will never get over it and I will always live with a pain greater than that of anything I had ever known or ever will know. I wrapped them each in blankets and laid them to rest in ‘caskets’ where I made a cross and wrote the words to ‘Danny Boy’ on their casket.
“The weather had been pretty bad here for awhile and an excavator was planned to come the property to dig up the ground so I could give them a proper burial when this terrible thing happened.
“I only hope someday we’ll be together and I can watch them once again run in the meadows under the deep blue skies.
“As for the despicable reports regarding my beloved dogs, those who know me know I would never harm any animal as they are God’s most beautiful and innocent of creations. I’m a vegetarian because of my respect for all animals.
“For those of you who wrongfully accused and judged me based on these ‘stories, I understand because I would feel the same way if it was the truth. But it’s not the truth. So, to all who perpetuated these cruel and vicious lies, may the truth bring you to your senses so you can stop these terrible and unfounded accusations.
“About the domestic situation: As you must know, this is a private matter that I cannot comment on at this time. Please don’t believe everything you read. I would never hurt anyone – ever. What has been reported is an absolutely inaccurate depiction of the events that occurred that evening. When it’s time, the truth will be known.
“In all, God gave me a silver lining to this terrible time by putting a long-lost family back together through this tragedy and for that, it was worth what I am going through. Unfortunately, this ‘incident’ caused my loved ones, who suffered through another emotionally devastating experience, to suffer a new burden they didn’t need to bear. As much as they are hurting for me and from this, they’re still there for me. I am a lucky person.
“I’m an immensely private person and these events have caused me great pain and emotional anguish.
“I am requesting that you respect my privacy and that of my family during this difficult time and not engage in harmful useless gossip posted on blogs and forums.
“My music: It has been my greatest desire to put out my new music, including remixed/remastered tracks that I am very proud of which many of you seem to enjoy, but I have experienced setbacks that hindered and delayed my plans. I am hoping to work through it all and get back on track. I would appreciate it if you could please bear with me.
“About the Vinnie Vincent model guitar: My website is in the process of being constructed. Keep watching YouTube for the link to the site and for the video catalog. The Vinnie website will be a fun place to visit with everything Vinnie Vincent: music, photos, and the Vinnie Vincent guitar in all its glory.
After all this research and writing, I have to admit that feel bad for Vinnie. His rags-to-riches-and-back-to-rags story is a fairly tragic one, and I would hate to see him become just another rock and roll casualty, but I fear the worst. I learned to play guitar to many of the songs that he wrote, and his guitar playing is part of my musical DNA. I have both of his albums, and I still listen to them much more often than you might think I would. My intention with this two-part story was to provide a sort of tribute to Vinnie, but his story, compelling though it may be, is a troubling one. It seems to me that his woes are self-inflicted. He’s made some bad decisions, and burned some bridges that he shouldn’t have burned. That being said, I’m still a fan of his, somewhere deep down in my heart of hearts, but I’m also an adult and a professional musician in my own right—on a much smaller scale, admittedly—who’s had to deal with the slings and arrows of not-so-outrageous fortune in my own ways.
If these stories have compelled you to explore Vinnie’s musical career further, I recommend that you check out his iTunes page, as well as the Kiss albums Creatures of the Night (my personal favorite) and Lick It Up. And, as always, thank you for reading all of this.
We now return you to BFS&T’s regularly scheduled programming (whatever that is!), already in progress.