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  • I like to discuss things like music, movies, religion, politics, and other stuff that might offend you if you've got a different point of view.

    As you read through my blog, you'll see the progression of someone trying to sound smart (but coming off pretentious and moody) changing into someone who mainly just wants to write something that will make people laugh and/or express some of his opinions. The more recent stuff is better--and generally more positive. Perhaps I've grown...

    Only one rule: If you're going to comment, please at least pretend we're all grown-ups here.

Writing “In A Perfect World” (A Guitarist’s Perspective)

For those unaware, my brother released his first solo record this week.  It’s called “Hits in a Perfect World” and is credited to Dave and the Not-So-Daves.  Not being named Dave, I’m one of the so-named “Not-So-Daves” and I had a lot of fun working on it.  Took a lot of time and effort and got good results, including some of the best guitar work of my career.  You can stream the record here, where you can also download it for $8.00.  (For the first month, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to cancer research.)

And this is what the cover looks like:

possible-nsd-cover

Not pictured: Whoever owns that building.

Last I talked to Dave, it sounded like the streaming was going better than the downloading. It’d be great if a few of you could help change that.  :)  Or if you’d like physical copies, Dave and I both have them–they’re hand numbered and signed by Dave–THE Dave!–himself.

I wanted to write a post about what it was like working on the project.  (This is going to get long–I’m talking about each track.)  I can’t say a lot about the lyrics, because I didn’t write them, but I did do a lot of work in putting the guitar parts, solos, etc into place, and it was a different experience from what I normally do, so I thought it would be fun to write about it.  Dave came to me with the structures of the songs already in mind.  Lyric/vocal melodies were already established and he’d written out the chord progressions on his bass.  We threw together some rough bass-and-vocal demos, then he left it to me to do my stuff, coming back to redo his parts before we added the drums (via good, long-time friend Tim Heeley).

Of the process of writing the project, Dave says this on the Bandcamp site:

“When this record started to come together I had a “Vision”. I was going to make the ultimate power pop record. I just wanted something that was a lot of fun to listen to. Of course it didn’t quite turn out that way but that’s how it started.

When the songs were new, bare boned creations I had power pop on the brain. I was thinking Cheap Trick, Big Star, the Posies, Matthew Sweet, etc. But then the punk rocker in me raised his ugly head so the Ramones and Descendents fan showed up. And then, of course every classic rock riff embedded in my brain decided to have their say, and there’s even a little ’90s alternative in there too.

So there you go. The results are here. It’s a mash-up of all those things mentioned above. It may not be the record I envisioned, but I think this is a really good rock and roll record. Which is even better.

And it’s still a lot of fun!”

Some of the change in tone Dave describes is probably as much my doing as his.  I play how I play and my guitar work is definitely going to come out more Pete Townshend than Alex Chilton.  I still hear the Cheap Trick in it though. 🙂

Working from just bass and vocal presented me with not-exactly a BLANK canvas, but rather one with a clear drawing that needed color.  The color to me suggested Fender guitars–a Telecaster for the rhythm and a Strat for the leads.  (Except on “The Big Sad,” which was recorded last.  That is the one and only song on the record to feature my Rickenbacker 360.)  When I play the Telecaster, my brain snaps into “punk” mode–specifically a little known influence of mine in the form of the Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers. Their guitarist plays like it’s less a guitar and more a machine-gun, and there are many times throughout my career when you can hear me doing the same–and it’s usually on a Tele.

Even with plenty of room for my own “color,” I wanted to try to stay true to the lyrics.  This wasn’t your standard Derek Brink record full of sadness, existential doubt, and lover’s-lament stuff.  This record was happy and fun–sometimes downright goofy in the best ways.  It was important to me to capture that in my playing, and I think I managed it in most places.  (Side note: Before proofreading, I’d accidentally written “existential donut” in this paragraph.)

That said, “Let’s Go” has a little bit of a bigger, darker guitar tone than some of the rest of the album.  It’s the record-opener, the attention-getter, the tone-setter.  I erred on the side of making the listener think, “what’s happening here?!”  I hope that comes across.  The lyrics are a lot of fun.  I think every line references a different rock song or rock band.  It’s a clever lyric and I tried to layer the guitars in a way to emphasize that cleverness and make you pay attention to it.  I especially like the high-pitched part at the end, where I’m playing the main riff high-up on the fretboard.  But my favorite part of the whole record might be the “clap-clap” after the “it’s a Saturday night” lyric.

“Knee Deep” is one of those places where it’s a little goofy.  It starts with a paraphrase of an old dirty joke that my brother says our Dad used to tell.  I’d never heard the joke before.  Dave told it to me while we were doing final vocal takes, and I must say, Dad, I am appalled.  :)  The song’s fun and kinda funny in places.  It’s super-catchy and is one of the ones I think would be a “single” if it were handed to a record company–but then you can say that about 90% of the record.  I kept the tones a little more airy and light–tried to keep it upbeat.  Production was fun–adding hand-claps was a no-brainer.

On “I Don’t Wanna Know” we came out of the gate at a gallop!  There’s a guitar part on this song that’s very sparse and open, and that’s because I was going to play something more intricate, but couldn’t play that fast!  When we did the demo, we both kept saying, “I think it should be a little faster” and apparently we both listened.  I know this was a workout behind the kit for Tim, too–but in fairness he’s in much better shape than I am.  Dave describes it sounding like it belongs on “a really angst-y episode of ‘Friends'” and that’s probably about right.  It ended up being one of the more pop-punk songs on the album, and I like it.  The background vocal at the end is an intentional nod to the REO Speedwagon song of the same name–we couldn’t resist.  I like how fun the song ended up being.

I think Dave had a Green Day “Insomniac/Nimrod” era sound in mind for “That Was Yesterday.”  I’ve never really been a Green Day fan, so it didn’t come out quite that way.  But it was a lover’s-lament piece, and as discussed earlier, that’s in my wheelhouse!  But even then, it’s an upbeat lover’s lament, and that’s a little bit of a challenge for me.  And that’s what I really liked about working on this record.  It was enough outside of what I normally do that the challenge of it made it worth the investment.  Plus, on this song, the background vocals were a lot of fun to put together.  I think I’m at my happiest as a musician when I’m in a studio setting working on background vocals.

“Short Songs” gives you exactly what it promises, no more and no less. It’s one-minute and eight-seconds of a song that’s a love-song to songs no longer than itself. (Huh?) And it was, as you might expect, one of the most difficult for me to accomplish and play correctly!  Take after take after take, and I kept missing the same very simple transition.  It got to the point that I started yelling at myself–calling myself the same things I used to get called in Jr. High–because I kept screwing it up.  Of course it did.  There’s no other way that could’ve gone.  But in the end, the frustration was worth it, because it created a fun, memorable, SHORT song! 🙂

I’m pretty sure that “I Need You” is the song on the record that Dave definitely wrote for his wife.  I mean, on some level, every love song he writes is probably a little bit about his wife–that’s how that stuff works…  But I think he probably especially had her in mind on this one.  Tried to keep it sweet-sounding.  This is another one where I really enjoyed doing the background vocals.  My only fear was that it might cross into TOO MUCH on the background vocals, but in the end, I think we got it right.  Also, this is probably my favorite guitar solo on the record.  I like how it just kinda floats in and meanders away when the vocal comes back in.

As I said, “The Big Sad” was the last thing we did on the record.  It’s named after a phrase a friend of Dave’s uses to describe the times they’re really bummed out.  And it’s one of those phrases that so easily turns into a lyric, whether you want it to or not.  It was added at the VERY end of the project.  I thought we were done and I had already put the guitars away.  Then Dave came in to do bass parts and had just this one more lyric with him…so we recorded it.  And I’m glad we did.  I think it helps round out the album nicely, and it’s always good to have an excuse to play the Ric.  :)  One funny story: When Dave handed me the lyric sheet, the first words out of my mouth were, “The Big Sad…hey, that was my nickname in college!”

“My Rock and Roll” is about as straightforward a rock-song as you get.  Bombastic intro, cool punky-stops between phrases, lots of crashes, etc…  Nice to have a song that celebrates all that.  Had a lot of fun with the guitar stuff on this one.  Allowed myself space to be sloppy but still get it right.  It was a lot of fun to just completely let loose on it.  I did the solo-parts in one take.  You can probably kinda tell…and that’s exactly what I was hoping for!

Perhaps the departure piece of the record is “Face to Face.”  That might be stretching it…but it does have a different feel to it from a lot of the record.  More of a shuffle and an old-school, semi-country riff through it.  It’s Lou Reed inspired (from the “New Sensations” era) and that’s the main thing that drew me to it when I heard the demo.  Some of the songs in their bass-and-vocal form presented a challenge of “where do I go from here?” (and Dave was very generous in letting me get weird in places!) but this one was clear from the moment Dave presented it to me.  It’s another “fun guitar solo” song for me, too.

After “Face to Face,” we enter the “serious” portion of the record–y’know…for two songs…  “Better Days” is about looking for hope where you can find it.  That’s something a lot of us have needed in the past week (although I should mention this is not strictly a “political” song.)  Serious songs cause for a more serious guitar tone.  I didn’t mess around too much or do much experimenting on this one.  It was pretty clear what the roadmap was from the demo and lyric sheet.  I like stuff like this where I can do the big, Alex Lifeson-ish power chords in the background, though.

The other “serious” song on the project is “Dare to Dream” which is a little bit brighter than its predecessor.  It’s one of those where I’m not sure if the guitar part suggested the background vocal part or vice-versa.  I think I heard them both in my head simultaneously while Dave was doing the demo.  All those notes are suggested by what he’s doing vocally, anyway–they’re really just the surrounding parts of the scale.  In fact that’s true of a lot of what I did on this record.  “Dare to Dream” is an excellent example of how Dave laid a strong framework that allowed me to play around with ideas that were RIGHT THERE, but just needed to be recorded.

The last–and most insane–song on the record is “No Troubles.”  In brief, my niece (Dave’s daughter) Tessa started singing the words to this in her car seat one day when she was about 3 years old.  She was always making up little songs to herself–still does, in fact.  Dave and I were captivated by the “you do not know English very well” quality of the words and the catchy feel of it.  And I decided it needed to be a real song on a real record…so…here we are.  And this song is one of the main reasons I tell people this record contains some of the best guitar-work of my career.  Because this song is bananas!  I do a Chuck Berry slide down the fretboard.  I do a whole bunch of hammers in the outro.  I do Rick Nielsen 8th notes.  Pretty much, if it’s a trick in my arsenal, I pulled it out on this song, and also learned a couple new ones.  And boy is it fun!

So there you have it.  That’s what it was like working on the guitar parts.  Of course after that, Dave did his final bass and vocal parts, then Tim came in and did the drums.  And after that there was the mixing/mastering phase, which also took a lot of work on my end.  But the interesting bit was the guitars.  :)  Tim played so evenly and consistently that the drums were an easy few sessions.  The bass and vocals also fell into place really quickly.  The guitars were the part that felt like, “Okay…this is work–but good work!”  And that’s the part I wanted to share.

This was a really fun project to do, and I hope a lot of people hear it and like it.  And give Dave some money for it–he earned it!  I probably make it sound like I did a lion’s share of work in this post–and that’s just because it’s my blog.  As much as happens in recording, actually WRITING a song can be grueling.  There’s a lot poured into just putting a pen to paper to get a lyric and this record has a lot of Dave’s hard work in it.  He did the difficult bit–I just got to have fun!  And I wouldn’t have had it without Dave writing great songs that were a pleasure to play.  So come on…  It’s $8.00.  That’s less than you probably spent on lunch, and this will last you a lot longer.  Probably.  I don’t know what you had for lunch.

So…there!  Thanks for reading all that, if you did!

————
Current Listening:

  • The Tragically Hip – Assorted stuff, but mostly the last record, “Man Machine Poem.”

“The Pledge of Allegiance does not end with ‘hail Satan.'” – Bart Simpson (via chalkboard gag)

I’m going to try to write a random post.  There are probably going to be a couple of political points therein.

  1. I saw Sloan last night.  They’re a rock band out of Canada that my brother likes and has seen before.  Went with him this time, and it was a good show.  They played all of the “One Chord to Another” record, which turned 20 years old this year.  Fun set.  All ages crowd.  There were a couple of kids (under the age of 10–like 6 or 8?) right down front over to our right, and Chris (the more or less frontman and bass player) seemed to have a lot of fun playing to them.  He kept throwing them looks and playing little stage-games with them.  Between sets he gave the kids his water bottles and at the end of the set where he was prompting the audience to say “Sloan” back to him in a sing-songy way, he stuck the microphone in the kids’ faces so they could yell right into it.  Good band, good set…sure…  But what impressed me most is that Chris Murphy is a real class-act and supremely entertaining to watch.
  2. I’ve been watching my way through the original Star Trek series. Been a fan forever and for the 50th anniversary this year they put out a (remastered) box set containing all of the original series, the animated series (for some reason) and all 6 of the original cast movies.  Picked that up and have been enjoying it.  Then I found out there’s a box of the complete Next Generation too, and I bumped into it on sale…so that’s in line for viewing next.  Midway through Season 2 of the first series, so it’s going to be a while…
  3. Those who know me well know how much I love Thanksgiving and going down to Cape Girardeau to see mom’s side of the family, etc. Well…we’re not doing that this year.  And with less than 2 weeks remaining, I still have no idea what the backup plan is actually going to be.  I won’t go into to all of the things I’ve been feeling about that in the past couple weeks.  I’ll just leave it as “disappointed” and move on to the next thing…
  4. In the past not-quite-week, I’ve been very angry and sad about the election.  I stand by what I’ve said about Citizen Trump (which is what I will be calling him for the duration of his term, instead of “President”).  And I’ve been told to shut up a lot by people who would very much prefer to gloat about it as though it were just another election.  But this isn’t just another election, and I am sad to see the naivety and/or outright lack of concern of those who believe otherwise.  I can’t see it that way.  Not after the stories I’ve both read and been personally told this week.  I apologize for writing these words…but in the past five days, I’ve had friends report that for the first time in their lives they’ve been openly called niggers, hadjis, and in one case a “liberal cunt.”  And in all of these cases, the Facebook posts and tweets that have followed have called them liars–and people wonder why victims often don’t bother reporting?
    We’re living in a society where a man who is not a politician made promises he may intend on keeping, and his base is violently emboldened in the wake of his win.  So…  The above sadly represents the kind of language we’re going to have to get used to hearing for a while.  And you’re damn right I’m angry, and I think it’s my business to speak up about that.  I’m a white male, I’m going to be fine…  And since that’s the case, it’s my job to help speak for the people who AREN’T or otherwise I may as well join in the name calling.
    Plus…you know…telling someone who’s mad that they should stop being mad is just going to make them mad…
  5. Heavy point followed by softer point…  I’d like to learn how to make Brazilian Lemonade like they serve at Tucanos.  I’d like to have some, but I don’t want to spend $30 on a meal to get it (even though it’s worth every penny).
  6. Sad to hear Leon Russell died.  (Rough week for musicians whose names start with L-E-O-N…)  I’m not the most avid fan of his work, but I know enough to know that he’s played a bunch of parts I loved on stuff I don’t even know he played on.  May he rest in peace.

I’m going to stop there.  I keep writing things that are back to the political stuff and they’re getting long enough to be their own posts (see point 4–that was initially three different points but I consolidated), so I’m just going to stop here since I want to keep the format.  Said most of the stuff I was interested in saying.

So Long, Leonard Cohen

How do I begin to say what Leonard Cohen means to me, to music, to poetry, to art, to society?  How do I begin to explain what Leonard Cohen’s music has gotten me through?  How do I explain that his song “Anthem” (which I’ve infrequently covered) has shaped my theology possibly more than all of Paul’s epistles?  (“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”  May as well be, “For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” in my book.)  How do I express that the first time I heard his version of “Hallelujah” and NOT the Jeff Buckley cover version, I thought I should quit writing, because I knew I’d never be that good?  Or that the first time I read the back-story to “If It Be Your Will”–that Cohen was himself mute at the time he wrote it–that I was so moved by his reverence even for a God who would take away his GIFT of a golden voice, I wept, knowing my faith was far more fragile?

How do I unpack those thoughts and the dozens of others?  How do I unpack that there’s a lithograph sitting on top of my China cabinet that was purchased along with my copy of his 2012 record “Old Ideas” that I’ve never framed or hung in the house for personal reasons that go WAY beyond “this is a weird size and it’s hard to frame?”  But I think about framing it every Christmas…  Or how do I unpack that one of the abiding memories I have of enjoying his “Live in London” concert was watching it at my Dad’s place and dad and I kind of laughing our way through it while still enjoying the deep, lush sound?

Or how do I convey how special it was to see him at the Fox Theatre back in 2009?  That it was the perfect, beautiful venue for him?  That it felt like I was seeing Chopin or Mendelssohn rather than a man previously known as a hippie balladeer?  That the memory of his version of “Suzanne” that he performed that night still gives me deep chills–just the MEMORY!  That I was so overcome by the experience that in my post from that night I wrote that there were no major surprises in the setlist, completely overlooking that he debuted a new song that night (“Darkness”), which would go on to be on his next studio album?  That I’m sitting here realizing that was November 8, 2009…my God, seven years almost to the DAY?!

Or how do I relay that when I read a few months ago that Mr. Cohen’s longtime muse Marianne Ihlen (of “So Long Marianne” fame) passed away that my heart actually ached for him?  That when I read the Facebook post his page made about his letter to her on her deathbed I mourned that not all of us are so lucky as to have that kind of kinship?  That the imagery from the above-linked post: “She lifted her hand, when you said you were right behind, close enough to reach her” is going to haunt me forever?  That in recent weeks when Leonard said he was getting his house in order and that “I am ready to die” I felt as worried as if it were a friend?  That a couple of weeks later when he mentioned those same words while doing press for his last album (“You Want It Darker”), his words of “I think I was exaggerating…I intend to live forever” gave me a waking breath of relief and laughter?  That I just paused and sighed deeply at typing the words “his LAST album?”

Or how do I put into words that even despite my sadness at hearing of his death tonight, I do not consider his promise of living forever a few weeks ago to be a betrayal, but rather a promise he is now keeping?  That his words ARE forever and his spirit inside them?  How do I say that although I find his loss deeply, personally, spiritually wounding, I still feel joy at knowing that his work is done, and I got to experience it within an intersecting lifetime?  That I am certain I am BLESSED just by owning every sacred note of his recorded career on CD and/or vinyl?

How do I do or say ANY of that?

In one of life’s great ironies, the only person who could have possibly expressed how I felt upon learning of the death of Leonard Cohen is Leonard Cohen.

Results…

I’ve cried a few times today.  Some of you will be fine with knowing that.  More’s the pity…

I cried when I was awakened at 1:43 a.m. by the sound of fireworks above my house.  One of my neighbors is apparently in the Trump base.  And they represented the classlessness I would expect to be the norm in the next four (and it will be only FOUR) years.  I cried because I was startled awake and because for a few moments I was unsure of if they were fireworks or gunshots.  I almost immediately wondered: “What’s the difference?”

I cried when I woke again and was in the shower, struck with the thought of “…but I’d thought we’d come so FAR…”  And then I dwelled on the fact that our first black president is going to be followed by a man (and I do not intend to use the word “President” to describe him in my lifetime) who was openly endorsed by the KKK and did not turn it away.

I cried on my lunch break while I was in my car and my 70-year-old father who is a lifelong Democrat texted me to say that he felt embarrassed to be in public, because he’s a 70-year-old white man and he “probably looks like a Trump voter.”  He doesn’t deserve to feel ashamed when he did the right thing.  None of us do.

I cried in the bathroom at work after reading a Facebook post from a gay friend about how he doesn’t know if he should wait to be stoned to death in the street or if he should just put a gun in his own mouth.  Text message to same has so far not been answered, but he has posted de-escalated thoughts following that one.  I hope he’s going to be okay.

I cried on my drive home thinking about how TIRED I am. And how furious.  And how sad.  And how frankly LONELY, looking through my Facebook feed at Bible College friends who have the unmitigated gall to GLOAT.  And in that same set of tears, I cried knowing that my prayers as I went to sleep (the first time) last night were answered with either a “no” or an “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”  I’m not sure which is worse to imagine.  God is good.  God is kind.  God and I have some talking to do.

But…  (And I swear that every word of this is true.)

I also cried on my way to work.  Because on my way to work, I stopped for gas and a car pulled in while I was still pumping fuel.  The car was sputtering–the driver was on fumes, running out of gas, and pulled up on the other side of my same pump.  A young, African-American man got out of the car and asked if I had a couple of dollars I could give him for “a gallon of gas.”

“Sorry man, all I’ve got is my card and the last time I paid for someone else to put gas in their car, my bank thought it was ‘suspicious’ and froze my card.”  He asked if since he was right there, could I just put a gallon in his car–he needed to get from Florissant to Chesterfield for work and was desperate.  “Yeah…I can do that.  But Chesterfield…you’re going to need more than a gallon, and you’re going to need to get back…”  And I filled his tank.  Because it was the right thing to do.

I didn’t ask the guy for his life story or to convince me that he really did need it…but while we stood there, he volunteered it.  I just stood and listened.  The pump stopped and we talked a little longer.  And at the end of it, he was shaking and visibly emotional.  We hugged, he thanked me profusely, and we went our separate ways.

I am not intending to toot my own horn in saying any of this…  I am simply saying that I am a white, cisgendered, middle class man.  I have never known real struggle.  I live a life of privilege that I do not even recognize is there, and that I often pretend I am the exception to–“but a cop pulled ME over too!!!”  I am flawed, entitled, ugly, and self-righteous.  But as long as people who look like me remember that we still have the power to do what is right…  There is still hope.

And on my way to work, and as I wrote this post, I cried out for hope to win.

I’m not likely to change your mind at this point, but I feel like I need to say it…

Like many of you, in less than 12 hours from when I’m writing this post, I’ll be voting.  Like many of you, and unlike many others, I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton.  I’m happy with that.

Like many of you, I’m scared that Donald Trump is going to win, even despite the best efforts of the Democrats and many of the Republicans, too.  Friends of the blog will remember how adamant I was that George W. Bush was the worst presidential candidate I’d ever seen in my lifetime.  Mea culpa, mea culpa. I have sinned before God and man.  Donald Trump might not just be the worst presidential candidate I’ve ever seen in my lifetime; he might be the worst person.  Full stop.  And I’ve done mission work in prisons among rapists and murderers.  At least most of them weren’t also cowards.

I don’t know that I intended to write that when I started this post…

When Bush ran the first time, I voted for Ralph Nader.  I thought I was voting for my principles and shaking up the system.  I also thought at worst, we’d be stuck with Gore and how bad could it get?  Well…  Bush.  That’s how bad it got…  Then eight years later, we were blessed with Obama.  A man who even my most conservative friends at least admit is eloquent and dignified.  A man who a very conservative preacher told me, “I’m not glad he won…but I’m glad he won.”  And these 8 years have been good for the country.  Bridges have been built.  Laws have been passed.  We’re talking about race and gender in ways we never have before…and that’s bringing some ugly things to light and people are getting hurt…  But God damn it, it’s about time there was light cast on that, and I don’t think you’d have gotten that with McCain and I don’t think you’d have gotten that with Romney.

And now we’ve got a chance to elect the first female president in our history–and maybe that can shed some light where it needs to go, too…  Or…we elect Donald Trump.  And don’t fool yourself…we don’t elect Johnson and we don’t elect Stein, and in 4 or 8 years, your protest vote didn’t change anything, just like mine didn’t 16 years ago.  We’ve got Clinton or Trump.  When Bush got in the first time, I was angry.  When he got in the second time, I was defeated at least up until John Edwards showed his true colors…  But with the potential of Trump…of “grab them by the pussy,” “check out sex tape,” “I’m gonna build a wall,” TRUMP in all of his moral and literal bankrupt glory…

I’m actually a little scared.  I’m scared of how far back we could set this country tomorrow.  Of how many people go back to being uninsured…and I’ve got friends who wouldn’t be ALIVE if not for Obamacare, by the way.  I’m afraid of how easy it will be to get guns.  It’s too easy NOW.  And we aren’t content with the murder-toys we have–we want bigger, faster, badder guns that can kill someone even worse, if we think they’re too Muslim.  We’re not content with rifles and a 22.  (Neither of which the Democrats are trying to take away from you, by the way.)  We’re not content with WAITING a couple days to get our hands on guns we pretend aren’t sitting there with the intent of pointing them at someone or something we intend to KILL–because that is the only use for a gun.  When you say “protect” you mean “kill.”  And I’m scared of what’s going to happen to my friends who are Muslims.  Or Mexican.  Or Arab.  Or black.  Or gay.  Or women.  Or children–lest we forget Sandy Hook…which…we have forgotten, haven’t we?

I’m afraid of what America turns into under Trump.  And I’m terrified that it could actually HAPPEN.  And I’m scared that if it does, this post is dangerous to write…because all a candidate would have to do is  search his name and “wigged, orange, asshole” and he’d find those who speak against him.  And this is a dangerous lunatic who has vocally stated that he WILL go after his enemies after he’s elected.  And that he WILL round up anybody that doesn’t look right to him and force them out of the country.  And it goes even deeper…

Let’s not forget that the Jews were almost wiped out in Europe, even if they didn’t speak their minds in the 30s… And all Trump would have to do is Google “mosques” and he could start rounding up Muslims and detaining them for being too brown.  Or Google “Bosnians” and call the National Guard into South St. Louis to start checking immigration statuses–I’m sure it won’t take TOO long to clear up who was legal and who wasn’t…  And yeah, maybe I’m over-dramatizing it… But if you think that kind of thing can’t happen…  If you think that kind of hate is only for movies…  Just remember it has been less time since the near total obliteration of the Jews by a political extremist than it’s been between Cubs World Series wins.  Don’t kid yourself.  History gets made sometimes.  And now we’ve got the Internet to help us make it faster.

In short…  I’m scared of what happens if we DON’T elect Hillary Clinton.

But…

I’m hopeful of the future we could have if Hillary Clinton gets elected.  Of ongoing socialized healthcare.  Of Bernie Sanders perhaps having his hands on the purse-strings depending on what happens in Congress.  Of women being allowed the right to choose what happens to their bodies.  Of gays continuing to be allowed to marry.  Of racism still being confronted and discussed rather than condoned and dismissed.  Of maybe just a handful of automatic weapons not being in the hands of a guy who can walk into an elementary school…or college…or nightclub…or…or…or…  I’m hopeful that America will use some common sense.  Even if there’s stuff on that list upon which we disagree…the other choice is Donald Fucking Trump.  That’s not a choice.  I don’t know how it ever could be…  I don’t understand how a man with a hilarious last name (Ken Bone) can live in MY city, see the Bosnians marginalized on MY street, and not know who he’s going to vote for when these two candidates stand in front of him.  I don’t see how it’s hard to think through this one.

So what I’m saying is…come on America.  Please make some sense tomorrow.  Or else–and I mean this–God help us all.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  If H-Rod wins, I’ll post something fun after the election.  If not…we’ll see what I write.  I don’t know yet.  For now, I’m hoping for hope.

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Current Listening:

  • Drive-By Truckers – American Band

“Y’know, I was voted best kisser in my POW camp…” – Abe Simpson

My last post was paranoid enough that I feel like writing something else tonight.  (Although I am not done wondering about the seizure thing.)  So, here’s an “everything/nothing” post, what with the Simpsons quote in the title and everything…

  1. I picked up a copy of Brian Wilson’s memoir “I Am Brian Wilson” last week (or the week before? I’ve already forgotten when it came out).  I’m reading it a chapter at a time and absorbing it piece by piece before moving on.  I’m enjoying it quite a bit.  It’s written in a non-linear style.  In the same breath he might mention his brothers dying in the 80s and 90s, then jump right to being backstage for the Smile shows in 2006.  He jumps all over the place, like any of us might when we tell a story…or write an everything/nothing blog post…huh…  Anyway, each chapter has a theme like “Fear,” “Family,” “Home,” etc.  Each chapter has a lesson it’s trying to relay–or at least that’s how I see it.  It’s a great read for any Beach Boys fan, even a casual one probably.  I’ve long admired and in my own way identified with Brian Wilson, and hearing his story in his words (“with” Ben Greenman, who helped him put the book together…) is a reflective and rewarding read.  …and if the part where Brian describes introducing his one year old daughter to her cancer-stricken Uncle Carl for the first time doesn’t just make you fucking sob, you’re not a person.
  2. I’ve also been trying to read Dennis Lehane’s “The Given Day.”  I’ve really enjoyed my Lehane read-through up to this point, but I’m struggling with this one.  It starts out with a prelude about baseball (of which most will know I’m not a fan) and it’s also set in a turn-of-the-century America I’ve always had trouble envisioning.  It’s a tough read for me.  It’s not a bad book or anything like that…I just like stories set in a more present-day (or the present day of when it was written, anyway) and that don’t count on winning me over to their metaphors.  I’m through the first major section, but I’ve paused going into the second…  And Brian Wilson is filling that pause more than ably.
  3. My brother and I went to see Nick Lowe play a solo set on Tuesday.  It was just Nick and his guitar.  It was a lot of fun and a wonderful set.  Nick told some great stories and played some of his (and other people’s!) best songs.  He knew right where to drop the hits and what people would think of them.  His hands in the air “hurray!” pose at the end of “Cruel to Be Kind” was as funny as it was deserved, and he knew just how to play it…but he also slipped in some moments that I didn’t expect.  His cover of the late Henry McCullough’s “Failed Christian” (which Lowe also did on his “Dig My Mood” record) was surprising and a moving rendition.  His closing selection of Elvis Costello’s “Allison” was a fun surprise as well, considering Costello is best known for doing the Lowe-penned “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?” (which Nick also played!).  (Nick Lowe’s working relationship with Elvis Costello is probably worth a book or two of its own…as is his relationship with The Damned…)  The only song he didn’t do that I was deeply hoping for was “The Beast in Me,” which Nick wrote and Johnny Cash used to do in the “American” era.  (Holy damn Nick Lowe has a deep catalogue!) But you can’t possibly play everything, and ultimately, it was one of the masters of pop-rock reminding us all how to have fun.  It was a great time…and Dave landed us SECOND ROW seats!  I don’t think I realized that walking in, and it was a wonderful surprise.
  4. Halloween is coming up.  And you can have it…  Never really been a fan, except for the years as a kid and teenager when I thought I was supposed to be, before I realized it was okay to turn off the porch light.  (And even as a kid, having fun…I was mostly scared that I was going to get scared…)  Not that I haven’t had a few good ones as an adult.  I enjoyed going to my friend Johnny’s party and reconnecting with some old friends a few years back.  And two years ago, I adored spending the evening with my friend Amanda watching a band (The Station) play at Cicero’s.  But I’m not really a costume guy, and if you’re not a kid you probably shouldn’t be wearing one…  I’d go to a club with a friend again, though.
  5. Three years ago, Randy Travis had a stroke and lost his voice. This past week, at the Hall of Fame, he sang Amazing Grace.  Kinda puts every time you thought something was too hard into perspective…  I’ve never been a huge Travis fan, but I’ve respected him…and I sure as hell admire him after that.  Bless him.
  6. Dave and the Not-So-Daves are putting the finishing touches on the record, now titled “Hits in a Perfect World.”  I’m busting for everybody to hear it!  Dave wrote some really fun songs and I enjoyed playing my ass off on them.  Just need to finish the album cover, etc, and then start selling it.
  7. I’m also still working on the “Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Shout” project.  I think everything is recorded.  I’ve got way too many songs at the moment.  And mixing something that’s just guitar and vocal is harder than it probably sounds.  You’ve got to put the songs in the right order and you’ve got to mix them in a way that the guitar helps the vocal and vice-versa.  It’s a lot more personal and intimate than doing a full-band in a lot of ways…  So it’s not exactly on pause…but it’s more work than you’d expect and I’m taking some time away from it to come back with fresh ears.  Still hoping it’ll be out before the end of 2016 though.  (As a side note, it still needs a cover, too…if anyone’s got any ideas, I’d be willing to pose for a photo…)
  8. I mentioned in my last post that I’m now in possession of my grandpa’s old desk.  That’s nice.  I need to finish fixing up the bedroom it’s in and give it the once-over with some Pledge.  My “woke up on the floor” incident from Sunday delayed my progress a little…  But I’m excited to have the desk and to have it turning into a workspace where I can sit and write or read or whatever, and feel connected to family while I do it.  I’m going to move a comfortable chair into there as well and create a nice, warm, functional space…maybe a little record player in the closet, too…  Very grateful to Dad for letting me have the desk and to Bruce for helping me move it.
  9. In the wrestling world, Bill Goldberg is back for one more match.  I thought I was opposed to it.  I thought it was a bad idea…  Then I saw the promo on Monday night and Goldberg hit all the beats just right.  His final stinger to Brock Lesnar was great.  “Not only are you next…but you’re LAST.”  I got actual chills.  I liked Goldberg back in the WCW days and if he can bring one more good match, then sure I’m on board.  It’s still a hell of a great gimmick/entrance and he’s got charisma that even Hulk Hogan can’t hold a finger to.  (Yeah, I said it.)  Good to see him back.
  10. Talking of famous Jewish guys I really like… Leonard Cohen has a new album out tomorrow that I’m looking forward to hearing.  An interview he gave recently made me a little sad though.  He spoke of being in declining health and “getting his house in order” in his old age, eventually saying, “I am ready to die.”  And knowing his personality, I think that came from a place of peace, but it still made me a little misty…  Then I saw a subsequent interview this week where he referenced those words and said, “I think I was exaggerating.”  So who can tell?  Either way, if he’s placing pen to paper, I’m interested in it, and I’m glad he’s gracing us with another, even if he’s ready to be done.

And I think we’ll call it there tonight.  Wrote a lot about a couple things.  Thanks for reading!

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Current Listening:

  • Still buzzing on Nick Lowe a little, but relistened to Amanda Shires’ “My Piece of Land” driving in the rain a little bit today, and it was wonderful.

Pardon me while I think too much…

I’m a little worried about my health.  I wrote back in April about a rough night I had that I blamed on bad sushi.  Well…it kinda happened again…but I’m not sure how seriously to take it.

On Saturday, I enlisted my friend Bruce to help me move a desk into my house.  Then after that, I spent some time on my own moving two small bookcases (which I slid–they weren’t very heavy) and some books to go into them.  Lots more activity and dust than I normally keep to…  I went to bed stiff and sore, as expected after that kind of activity.  Then sometime in the overnight/wee hours of Sunday, I woke up on the floor of my bedroom.  I’d fallen out of the bed.  My back hurt immensely, as did my legs, and I struggled to get back onto the mattress, but then went right back to sleep.  Woke up again in the late-morning (as I’d planned) and was stiff in my back and legs just like back in April…and I’d bitten my tongue just like back in April…and I’ve got a mild rash that’s actually a little milder than in April (didn’t notice it right away).

I attributed most of the physical stuff to moving the desk and bookcases.  Of COURSE I’d be sore after that.  I’m 36 and don’t work out like at ALL.  I even figured the rash might’ve been dust related–I’d forgotten that back in April I’d similarly moved my card catalogue into the house for the very first time, which had previously been collecting dust in a garage.  I’ve been thinking that maybe heavy, dusty stuff and I just don’t get along very well anymore…

But…  Back in April, a friend asked me, “do you think you had some kind of seizure?”  And I’ve been thinking about that, probably a little too much…  But I read up on nocturnal seizures and a lot of things fit.  So I’m wondering if that’s a possibility.  But then, back pains from moving things and biting my tongue with my terrible, cracked and broken teeth when I fall out of bed, and having a rash either from an allergen or as a result of muscle strain are also possibilities.  It does seem a serious coincidence that both events would happen after moving old, dusty furniture…

Plus, there’s the fact that after the April event I went to a doctor and he didn’t say anything about seizures.  (By the way, I’ve learned that the actual event itself in this case would be called a “convulsion” rather than a “seizure” if that’s what it was…it’s just as possible I had back pain, rolled over with extra “umph” to get through it, and slid off the bed.)  Then again, that doctor mostly just seemed to want to get out of the room.  I don’t know…there’s as much pointing to me being an idiot for thinking about it as there is pointing toward me being diligently, cautiously concerned.  I don’t have a prior history of seizures or whatever to my knowledge…so this would be very out of nowhere…  I’m just being paranoid, right?

If anybody has any thoughts, I’d appreciate hearing them.  Going to a doctor seems like a waste of time after the last one didn’t seem concerned.  And at this point my back and legs and stuff all feels a lot better…so I don’t need any cool pain killers.  Rash is clearing up with aloe–although it did seem to clear more quickly in April with the antihistamine the doctor gave me (which even further supports it being an allergy not a convulsion).  I’m not sure going to a doctor and saying, “I think I might’ve had a seizure maybe?” will really get me anywhere, anyway.  Seems like it’s an expensive battery of tests for that, right?

I don’t know.  I’m just tired and freaked out.  Please feel free to either justify me or tell me I’m nuts.  If it happens again, I probably need to see somebody who’ll spend some real time with me, huh?

Well…

In happier news, I saw Nick Lowe with my brother last night.  Lowe is the guy who wrote some of Elvis Costello’s early hits (“What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding” being chief among them) and he also had a number of successful songs of his own.  It was a solo set–just him and his guitar–and it was wonderful.  So that was fun, seizure or no seizure!

Otherwise, things are fine, I guess.

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Current Listening:

  • A bunch of Nick Lowe on Shuffle and I’ve also listened to some Elvis Costello because it made sense.