Expansion, Not Vengeance

Late night, drinking screwdrivers, music on, playing single-player Mahjongg. Thinking. Remembering. Mental cleanser. Mind slowed down enough to give space to synapses. Chance to make connections. Listening to new VNV Nation “Noire”.

Reminds me of going home, to Texarkana. Staying for the weekend at mother’s house. She heads to bed, I head to the streets. Windows down. Get lungfuls of Red River air. Drive through stratified layers of fog North of town. Cranking VNV Nation. Dancing in driver seat. Constellations spin outside the windows as I drive 90 MPH on back roads. Something bigger, something spacious. Domes of light. Geolocation. Needs.

Thinking big thoughts.

I seldom do that these days. Life in Austin is always immediate. Cumbersome. Disruptive. Interruptions and imperatives telling me what’s next. TODO lists. Needfuls. Terrible hungers. I miss slowing down to think.

If I moved back to Texarkana, I would be a big fish in a little pond. I say that, but really, Not Really. I know myself too well. But I would pine for the bigger world out there. For places like Austin. San Francisco, Toronto, Berlin, Italy, Anywhere. Small man in small town dreams big, hungry for possibilities. Wants growth. Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time”. I was never meant for small town life. But maybe I was. I don’t know. Fuels my hunger and starves my desires. Mixes me up to question what I really should be doing to make things made. Big towns drown me out. So who am I?

This album, plus this solvent, plus this space I’ve created for myself, are really, really doing me in. Connections.

Savage New Man

Gary Numan, Second Savage summer tour. 20180907 @ Mohawk.

Minimally chatty; said hello and went straight into the rocking. Consummate professional. Played a lot from “Savage”, a bit from “Broken”, a nice amount from “Jagged” (my favorite), a fair share from “The Pleasure Principle”, and even trotted out three Tubeway Army songs.

Long may he live.

Minister, Siren, Salve

I have a long and complicated history with U2. They penned a mountain of great music that has dotted my life with joy throughout my ages, and stood as a lighthouse when I wandered and wondered what was out there to be had, seen, felt, known, shared. I grew up with them, and gleefully enjoyed their artistic output on a social and personal level, while quietly looking away when their press politics came to the mic.

They were there to minister to me when few others were around to take notice.

Success is a strange thing, and it twists and distorts what is genuine. But despite the pressure, they still managed to get some amazingly truthful, soulful, and bright material out through the noise. For that, I’m thankful. I think I’ll always be grateful for the fruitful venture of Bono, Edge, Adam, and Larry, and their parade of producers and engineers.

Drowning Man: unusual song structure throws a lifeline

The Unforgettable Fire: a siren call, stretching me skyward through a dark time

The Fly: a zeitgeist among friends, a touchstone, an anchor

Lemon: having nothing left in my life, I danced in my dorm room on first listen

Last three are from “No Line On the Horizon”, a salvation.

Magnificent: bright, victorious

Fez – Being Born: that chorus of voices grabs me every time. Lights flash past like memories. This is what motion sounds like.

Cedars of Lebanon: most delicate sound to date. The worst of us are a long, drawn out confession. The best of us are geniuses of compression.

The Spaces Between

I have so many mixed feelings about SXSW this year. I had a good time; went out every night of the music festival portion, actually saw stuff. Didn’t take a usual night or two off because of “con crud” or fatigue — I just needed to get the fuck out and do things, see things. Find novelty. Seek out serendipity. Played each night by ear and generally landed on solidly entertaining path.

It was ultimately very satisfying to get out of my usual rut. Went a whole week without stepping foot inside Epoch Coffee, which is a stretch for me. Just no time, and it’s the last place I’d want to go to spend my post-show afterglow. Trying to explain what I’d seen and experienced to random acquaintances who had no common ground would just kill it. And I think my life was made better for that decision. Fresh air. Different views. A kick in the pants. I can go places that aren’t The Default. Y’know? I needed that.

There’s more to life than work, cafe, and home. So much more. JFC why have I wasted so much of my life in that triangle of locations? It’s a vortex of suck. This year’s south-by just reminded me that The Bigger World can be had right here. Austin’s a big town if you’re on foot and walk slowly enough to pay attention to the spaces in between the traffic lights.

I saw some of the most random, serendipitous stuff all the way through to the most insane. Saw Todd Lewis of The Toadies do a solo acoustic set across the street from my office. Saw Marie Davidson and her husband Pierre Guerineau perform as Essaie Pas. Discovered new bands like Boy Harsher, Automelodi, I Am Snow Angel, Emme, Museless, Sloppy Jane, Champagne Superchillin’, and so on. I have more than enough to try out and explore for months.

I spent most of the evenings on my own. Saturday night, I hung out with my buddy Doug and we had a blast. But most other nights, it was lonesome to experience these shows and have nobody to compare notes with. But whatever. My life is usually solo anyway. Turns out my calls out for companions on social media and chat were just wasted energy, wasted time. Pissing in the ocean hoping to raise the tide. Most of my friends either didn’t respond, or responded to the negative that they’d have nothing to do with the festival. Instead, I should’ve just spent that energy asking specific people directly. That’s what real adults do, y’know? Half drunk, fully lonesome, I wrote a thing between shows Friday night:

Instead of calling out into the void
I should have been calling out to you
The emptiness is echoed
The other is true

I’ve wasted so much time and effort. So much. I needed this week. With all the other shit going wrong or failing stupidly in my life and job and my social circles, I needed this. Maybe next year I’ll go back to hating on SXSW like all my fellow townies, but for now, I’m fatigued yet rested.

Cold Fire

At the end of this Christmas holiday, I had some time to be outside and feel the crisp air on my cheeks. The cold weather tonight is knocking loose a few odd memories, particularly this nugget from the year 1984 which, dare I say, is the golden age of heavy metal and hard rock.

Dokken wasn’t exactly a band I followed religiously. They were on the radio for a span of time during my formative teenage years. But, taken out of context, their lyrics are fuel for all of the Satan-rock street preachers who had screamed for our rapt attention in that era. There were so many bands out who played up the Satanic connection just to increase their magnitude and pump sales. Unfortunately, most of the kids in my world (and some adults, sadly) bought into it and thought they were the real deal; the same kind of chumps who would carve “666” into their schoolbooks and think they were summoning the Dark Lord himself.

Really, “Into the Fire” was the inner struggle of a man that keeps running back to a bad lover who burns him on every touch. Image notwithstanding, that’s basically all it is; a bad relationship that he won’t let die. But the over-the-top music production, the expensive video, and everything about the entire product screams excess, waste, and sex for the sake of itself.

That sound still sticks with me decade after decade.

And don’t get me started about “Dream Warriors” — that’s wedged so deep into my psyche, it’s soothing to the touch.