more of an adult

beautiful, dreams, funny, love, music, pictures, Portland, sad, true, Yakima No Comments »

Hey, look, this is me!  Writing in the blog!  I didn’t procrastinate or anything, I just started thinking of something and decided that it could very well turn out to be blog-worthy.  Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Yesterday, I went to breakfast with a friend who used to live here in Portland but now lives in Europe.  She’s been married for a few years, and she and her husband have a six-month-old baby.  Dad and Baby stayed home and slept while Friend and I went out, and before too long I asked her how it was all going.  Among other things, she confided that she thought she’d feel like more of an adult than she does.  I know how that feels.

When I was a young kid, I always imagined that by the time I was the astronomical and somewhat arbitrary age of twenty-five, I’d be married with two kids and a career as a UFOlogist—yes, you read that correctly; I’ve written about it before—or an archaeologist in Peru or Mexico, or a reclusive writer who’s just successful enough to live on an island like Mont Saint Michel.

mont st michel

Truth be told, that last one seems like the most plausible and attractive of the scenarios, and I do still imagine that there’s a parallel universe in which that is a reality, and I live in a combination of cities, beautiful outposts in which I divide my time and write the stories that need to be told about those places and their people.

It may still happen; hope springs eternal.  I suppose it’s much more likely to happen if I actually start to write again, but hey, this is a pipe dream, and while we’re at it I might as well invite Winona Ryder to come live there at Le Mont with me.

I bring all this up because in reality, twenty-five, thirty, and even forty have come and gone, and sometimes I still feel like the same dumb kid blundering his way through life, wishing that things could be different but not knowing how to bring them to fruition.  I’ve changed my mind about wanting kids of my own—I don’t—but I do think it would be great to be married.  Given my track record of being a very solitary person who doesn’t do much in the way of dating, I have no idea when or if that will ever happen.  Again, hope springs eternal.

Perhaps if I’d become an archaeologist or a UFOlogist, things would be different.

communion

Come to think of it, I haven’t seen or heard of any current UFOlogists in a long time.  When I was a kid, they seemed to be highly visible in the popular zeitgeist, and many books such as Communion sold millions of copies.  These days, the subject is relegated to late-night AM radio pariahs.  My ten-year-old self sure didn’t see that coming.  Guess I made an okay career choice after all.

I always knew I wanted to be a musician.  I didn’t want to teach.  I didn’t want to be a concert pianist.  I gave up playing the clarinet (although I was first chair) when I was done with high school, in favor of the electric guitar.  I spent too many years living in Nowhere, and that caused precious years to pass by.  Ennui, inertia and a bleak worldview got the best of me for a long time.

The move to Portland (and years of therapy) helped tremendously, and I usually enjoy life these days, but I’m getting a bit tired of this town, if I’m honest.  There are many things to love about it; its beauty, its cheap and plentiful world-class food culture, its proximity to various types of natural surroundings, and its clean air and all-around livability, but I’ve been here for a long time, and I’m starting to feel a bit constrained by its lack of serious opportunities.   Also, I feel like I’m a bit past the age where I should be struggling with decisions like this.  I feel like I should be able to jump in with both feet.  It’s been occurring to me more and more lately that I really need to go elsewhere, and I can totally do that, but it will take a lot of planning and resources that I just don’t have at the moment.  I need to work on that.  I don’t want to ‘do a geographic’, as my friend’s dad would say (I love that expression) by running away from whatever problems or shortcomings I have here, because those will follow me anywhere I go.  I want to go for the right reasons, and to be prepared, with my head held high.

And then there’s the question of where to go.  New York seems like the best choice.  I love it, I have friends there, and it’s the quintessential land of opportunity.  It’s a bit daunting, and very different from weird little Portland, but I’m not too worried about that.

In the meantime, I still need to get a day job and pay some bills here, while I think seriously and have some conversations about what the future holds.   Here’s to the future.

 

 

I’m seven!

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It’s probably time for a drumroll or whatever.

This is the seventh birthday of BFS&T, and it almost went by unnoticed.  By ME, I mean.  It’s easy for no one else to notice, because I haven’t written a damn thing in six months, but you’ll be glad to know that I do at least consider writing once in a while, or I’ll have an interesting dream that I think about sharing, for about one second before I roll over and go back to sleep.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s that I want to share things—good or bad—that I think are compelling, and whether it’s a case of writer’s block or the financial stress and lack of self-confidence that extended under-employment brings, I haven’t felt capable of creating compelling content lately, so I’ve continued to lie low.  The good news is that I’m not trapped under the black cloud of full-on despondency, like I was when I wrote the previous entry.  What a strange time that was.

One thing that can potentially get me back on track is if I write about music.  For some inexplicable reason, when I started this blog I didn’t intend to write about music too often, if at all.  I figured there were (and are) many people who wrote (and write) about it much more eloquently than I ever hope to be able to, and that’s fine.  I’m happy to create music, and to make a meager living at it; I don’t necessarily need to write about it.  As the famous saying goes, “Writing about music is like dancing about art.”  That being said, music is what I care about more than anything.  I also probably know a lot more about it than most people do.  Having the opportunities to play so many instruments with so many people in so many styles and in so many places, I feel I have an interesting perspective.  I guess we’ll find out together whether or not I actually do.  The tricky thing is that this blog is quasi-anonymous (unless you’re friends with me on SocialNetwork), so I may have to get clever about the way I describe and pseudonymize people, but that’s definitely a challenge I’m up for.

I’m not going to make any promises here.  There may very well be another extended hiatus.  But I haven’t forgotten about this creative outlet that I love, and I’m certainly not giving up on it.   I can’t believe it’s been around for seven years.  Seven is a good and supposedly lucky number.  Truth be told, I thought it was six—and at first I even called this entry ‘I’m Six!’—but then I looked back and remembered that it was migrated over from that other blogging platform in 2006, not 2007, and that this is now 2013.  Phew!  All that to prove that my skills at simple addition remain intact.

I should probably wish you happy holidays, too, in case I don’t get back here before then.  I hope your season is filled with any combination of joy, love, friendship, family, travel, and fun.

‘Til next time, then.

See you soon.

 

keep you posted

funny, music No Comments »

I went to the grocery store today and ran into an actor/comedian acquaintance who was waiting in line ahead of me.  While she was checking out, I zoned out for a second—as I’m commonly known to do—and started whistling.  The checker called me on it after my friend was finished, and while she was ringing me up she asked, “Is that your Waiting-In-Line whistle?”

“Nope, it’s my I’ve-Got-A-Song-In-My Head whistle.”

She took a beat.  ”What song?”

“One I wrote, actually.”  She has no way of knowing that it’s a brand new GhostBand song, and it’s a safe bet that she, like most other humans, isn’t even aware of GhostBand’s existence.  ”I was working on it all morning.”

“Oh.  That’ll be $15.99.”

I handed her a twenty-dollar bill.  ”Hopefully you’ll be able to hear it out there in the world before too long.”

“I wouldn’t really know what to listen for.”

“Well, then. . .I guess I’ll have to keep you posted.”

There was an awkward pause, while she counted my cash and returned the change.  ”Okay, have a good evening.”

I love my life.

a blessed unrest

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“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.

megalomania

funny, music, Portland No Comments »

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.

trilok_gurtu

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?