“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
-Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille
Thanks to my amazing musical friend Kyleen for making me aware of this quote.
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.
Searching for a job is a terrible endeavor. It really is. It’s thankless and exhausting and depressing, and seemingly endless. Occasionally, however, you do come across some job postings that you just have to laugh at, or scratch your head, or both. Here’s my new favorite. I don’t even remember what kind of job it was for, but it really sounded awful. Whoever wrote the ad broke the job description down in such a pedantic and funny way that I just had to copy it here before moving on and continuing the search.
Here we go. The grammatical and formatting errors are theirs. Stick with it; I promise you’ll get a kick out of it. You know I would never steer you wrong.
TYPE OF PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:
Clarity of vision at 20 inches or less.
DEPTH PERCEPTION: Three-dimensional vision. Ability to judge distance and space relationships so as to see objects where and as they actually are. This factor is important when depth perception is required for successful job performance and/or for reasons of safety to oneself and others.
Bending the body downward and forward by bending leg and spine.
Moving about on hands and knees or hands and feet.
Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction.
Seizing, holding, grasping, turning, or otherwise working with hands. Fingers are involved only to the extent that they are an extension of the hand.
Picking, pinching, or otherwise working with fingers primarily (rather than with whole hand or arm as in handling).
Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word. Talking is important for those activities in which workers must impart oral information to clients or to the public, and in those activities in which they must convey detailed or important spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.
Perceiving the nature of sounds. Hearing is important for those activities which require ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and to make fine discriminations in sound, such as when making fine adjustments on running engines.
B. WORK EXPERIENCE:
Up to 3 months.
WORKING CONDITIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS:
May be exposed to dust, heat, and humidity to the degree of being disagreeable
May be exposed to electrical current while maintaining material handling equipment batteries.
There were plenty of other sections that were equally bizarre and poorly written, but not nearly as funny, so I spared you from them. You’re welcome.
I love the descriptions of body movements. I’ve never seen anything like that, and I used to work for the U.S. Government. You want to talk about hyper-vigilance to regulations and ergonomic issues, as well as the litigious micro-managing of guidelines for employees, they took the cake. But they never went so far as to describe handling as, “Fingers are involved only to the extent that they are an extension of the hand,” or depth perception as, “Ability to judge distance and space relationships so as to see objects where and as they actually are.” Hearing and talking are my other favorites.
They then specify that you must have “up to three months” experience. I have no idea what that is in reference to, and I’m guessing that they don’t either. (What if people have MORE than three months of experience? Are they considered overqualified, and therefore unemployable?) Be that as it may, after somehow deciphering all the nonsense and deciding this sounds like a good place to work, you find out that you may be exposed to dust, heat and humidity to the degree of being disagreeable, AND you may be exposed to electrical current.
I think I’ll pass on that particular job, thank you very much, but at least reading about it brought a smile to my face, and a brief respite from the drudgery.
“Long before we’ve had the chance to become familiar with our loved one, we may be filled with the curious sense that we know them already. It seems as though we’ve met them before, in a previous life perhaps, or in our dreams. In Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes explains this feeling of familiarity with the claim that the loved one was our long-lost “other half” whose body we had originally been stuck to. In the beginning, all human beings were hermaphrodites with double backs and flanks, four arms and four legs, and two faces turned in opposite directions on the same head. These hermaphrodites were so powerful and their pride so overweening that Zeus was forced to cut them in two, into a male and a female half—and from that day, each man and each woman has yearned to rejoin the half from which he or she has been severed.”
This ad was posted on ListByCraig today, in the ‘musicians’ section.
“Very experienced drummer without legs. What I can do with the rest of my limbs will surprise you! Looking to jam or maybe start band with good people who can accept me for who I am.. Below are links to my drumming videos. Thank you to my brother for allowing me to post a few videos of me playing on his synth youtube channel! Love you and God Bless!”
Rick Allen, the drummer for Def Leppard, has shown the world that a person doesn’t need all of his or her limbs in order to rock huge arenas around the world. I was expecting this guy to be using a modified drum set of some sort, or maybe he was even a guy like Trilok Gurtu, the amazing Indian percussionist who used to play with John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra and all that. He has legs, and he uses them on occasion, but his main Thing is to sit on the floor, surrounded by a mountain of percussion instruments, creating a soundscape that is both big and small. He sounds like a drummer, but so much more. He’s amazing.
So I’m giving the guy who posted his ad the benefit of the doubt. He seems like a good guy, is really confident, and he isn’t going to let his disability come between him and his dream. This being Portland, there are a million hippie percussionists out there, and this guy could be one of them. Good on you, dude, and more power to you, I thought, as I clicked on the links to his videos. Do not read the rest of this entry until you’ve watched both of the videos. Don’t worry, they’re not very long. Here’s the first one. . .
. . .and the second one.
I can imagine him twirling his virtual drum sticks at the end of that second one, or holding his iPhone aloft with the lighter app flickering on the screen.
I almost fell out of my chair laughing.
I have to commend the guy for his positive attitude, and his gumption or moxie or whatever, but OH MY GOD. SO FUNNY. Here he is bragging about how what he can do with ‘the rest of his limbs’, and he can’t even keep a solid beat. And ‘very experienced drummer?’ What does that even mean? Very experienced playing the drum machine with his fingers in his bedroom?
Okay, so assuming that all the stars align, and that a band actually wants someone to do that for them, what would that look like on stage? A couple of guitarists and a bassist with their big amps, a singer strutting around on the front of the stage, and a guy sitting in the back tapping out beats with a drum machine on his lap. Hilarious.
I hope he gets in a band. I’ll absolutely go see them play.
This all reminds of a band I saw about eight years ago at the venue formerly known as the Rabbit Hole. It was a female singer-songwriter and her ‘band’, which consisted of two electric guitarists and a CD player on the back of the stage, which provided their backing tracks. She would say something like, “Here’s another new song,” and one of the guitarists would turn around and push the button on the CD player to make it play. It was the (unintentionally) funniest musical thing I’ve ever seen. I seem to recall that she even counted off one or two of the songs with, “One. . .two. . .three. . .four—” before one of the guitarists started the CD, but maybe I just wanted that to happen so badly that my memory is playing tricks on me. It’s been known to happen.
In the interest of full disclosure, my first band (back in 1987) used the same Yamaha drum machine as the one in the top video when we recorded our song demos, and I played it the exact same way, by tapping on the big buttons. We made a video for one of the songs at the local community-access TV station, and I’ve heard that they still play one of our other videos on their ‘Flashbacks’ series, which is simultaneously very flattering and slightly cringe-worthy. Suffice it to say that I have first-hand experience with playing that exact drum machine in that exact way, and I’ve played all kinds of instruments (including a keytar) on all kinds of stages, but I would never dream of doing that in front of people, for any other reason than a humorous one.
Some of my favorite things to watch on the youtubes are videos made by people playing in their homes. Guitarists who shred and dance around in their bedrooms are always a hoot, but amateur drummers seem to take the cake when it comes to megalomania. This guy is one of my favorites, for many reasons. Most of all, he’s just not very good (but he THINKS he is, and THAT’S funny), but it’s the ridiculous and ergonomically challenging setup of his drum kit and the way he keeps looking at himself in the mirror that tell me all I need to know about the kind of person he is.
The best news of all is that he has his own channel (of course he does!), with an entire series of videos that we can all watch and enjoy together. I recommend his version of “Limelight” by Rush.
The subject of auditioning and dealing with potential band members dredges up similar feelings, and I’ve written about that before, so if you’re so inclined, you can read more about it.
Okay, I admit it; I’m an elitist musical snob. Are you happy now?