Well that sucks…

I got a call from my friend Dave Knobel today. Some of you will know Dave as the guy providing the drums for my new record. All of his drum tracks are done, and we’ve actually been recording stuff for his band (L.E.O.N.) in recent weeks–and I have no idea what that stands for, by the way. Unfortunately, Dave suffered an accident. He was working with a circular saw at his job when his glove got caught and it pulled his hand into the blade. Severed two tendons and two arteries. He’s lucky he knew to put pressure on it (from his Boy Scout days, he says) or he could have easily bled to death.

The doctors are being elusive about his recovery. They aren’t giving him any real information about what sort of mobility or functionality he can expect to regain. As you can imagine, a guy who has played drums and guitar for most of his life tends to want such answers. All he seems to know for sure is that he’ll need plastic surgery to correct the damage. People around his work have been suggesting that he should also investigate breast implants while he’s in there. That’d be fun. Like, he doesn’t have them do ANYTHING to repair his hand, but suddenly he’s got this SWEET rack, so no one notices. Legendary. (Though I’m not sure how his wife and kids would take that…)

So…yeah…Dave’s incredibly lucky that it wasn’t worse (I mean…that’s basically how Johnny Cash’s brother died, you know), but it sucks that he’s on the shelf as a musician. I only hope the damage isn’t permanent or disabling. He’s too good a musician and person for that to happen to him.

So, y’know, if you could keep Dave in your thoughts in the coming months, I’m sure he’d appreciate it. So would I. I really care about the guy.

On Being "Anonymous"

This seems to be coming up a lot in my life as of late, so I decided to dedicate a full post to it. Whether it’s on the Internet or some jerk calling the cops on your band, there are a lot of people who seem to like hiding behind the facade of being “anonymous.” (This is not aimed at any one person, by the way. Just seems to have been a theme in the past two weeks or so. Been coming up around the office, on my blog, at home, etc, etc…)

Some people do it to say whatever they want to online. Some people do it out of fear of reprisal. Some people do it thinking they will avoid hurting someone else’s feelings if they aren’t identified. Some do it thinking that they will save their own image (or a friendship/relationship, or even JOB) if people don’t know THEY’RE the one being the jerk…but anonymity is everywhere, and unfortunately, the means of hiding behind it are readily available.

In my mind, there are only four reasons to attempt to remain anonymous in any given transaction.

1. You’re someone’s Secret Santa.
2. You can do more good that way.
3. Humility.
4. Cowardice.

I don’t think I need to explain the first one…so let’s just go right to the second. Some people are genuinely able to do good, but are only able to do so if they hide their identity. Think of “Deep Throat” (William Mark Felt, Sr.) who toppled the corruption of the Nixon regime. Or think of the worker who is helping a mistreated staff to organize and needs to keep his/her job to help the union form, so they can’t step forward until it’s safe to do so. Or…actually, those are pretty much the only two I can think of that apply here. (I thought about mentioning Alcoholics Anonymous here, but these days it seems more of a formality than anything else…but maybe back in the day…when it still meant something.) Sometimes anonymity is helpful. Sometimes it allows work to be done that would otherwise be quickly quashed and dismissed. But this is not often the case. Indeed, these days, it is a rarity.

There is, however, a second class of people who use anonymity for at least what appears to be a good purpose–and those are the ones who use it out of humility. The guy who goes out of his way to do a good deed or say a kind word, but when asked, keeps mum about his name (like a modern day Lone Ranger). The person who places a card of encouragement on the desk of a co-worker, letting them know they are appreciated and cared for, but does not sign the card. (Actually that one kind of irritates me, just because it always means more to me to know who’s saying it…but still, it’s a nice gesture.) The benefactor who pays a hospital bill or puts a kid through college expecting nothing in return, and never even gives a hint of their name. The anonymous kidney donor. The one who gives thousands of dollars to the MDA, but doesn’t want their name read on the telethon. These are the type of people that still give me hope for society… Unfortunately, they’re also getting rarer and rarer.

Those in the forefront are the last group. The cowards. They hide behind the no-name to serve their own purposes. Usually intending to hurt someone or ruin their fun. Usually bitter. Often lonely. Always cowards. The Internet has seemingly quintupled their business. Today, it’s very easy to hide behind a screen and keyboard…but honestly, that doesn’t bug me too much, because it’s usually at least basically harmless. Generally just some dude who disagrees and doesn’t feel the need to attach their name to it–and a lot of them probably would have no problem telling you their real name if you asked. No…they don’t bug me too much.

The ones that bug me are the ones who use anonymity to hide their own misdeeds. They CARE what you think about them. They don’t want anyone to know that the guy/girl that everyone thinks is SOOOO great is a whiner at heart. News Flash: No one thinks you’re flawless. No one thinks you’re great. You’re human like the rest of us and are entitled to be grumpy about things from time to time–shoot, you may even be JUSTIFIED. But, we’ll never know if you hide behind the anonymous name. Why? Because nothing can be SOLVED if no one knows who you are. If someone has a problem with me, I’ll be more than glad to discuss it and come to some sort of arrangement…but I need to know who you ARE to do that.

It’s one thing if you’re calling in an anonymous tip on a drug-ring, or you’re anonymously reporting that your roommate has a small militia forming in the garage. I get that people sometimes need to feel like they’re safe when very real danger is in the next room (or down the street). But it’s a completely different thing to be anonymously passive-aggressive. That really gets to me. Those people aren’t worried about their safety; they’re worried about their image…and that just makes me pity them. (And, by the way, I find “pity” to be the saddest of all emotions. It is the piteous who are beyond hope.)

As for me, I usually ignore anonymity. I developed that policy while I was still in ministry. There’s a lot of cowardice that goes on behind the pews. Lots of little notes get dropped into the collection plate (often in place of much needed tithes that keep the church doors open, by the way). Usually the notes are a sentence long. Sometimes less. “It was too loud today.” “I couldn’t read the screen.” “You shouldn’t wear jeans.” “I didn’t like it when you said _______ was a sin.” …or the REALLY nasty ones were anonymously slipped under my office door or into my office mailbox. First place my eyes went was to the bottom of the page, then a brief scan of the penmanship to make note of if I’d seen the handwriting before. 99 out of 100 times, it wasn’t signed and it was in the same handwriting as the previous note…so I threw it right out without reading it. (I should note that this was not a WEEKLY occurrence or anything…but I still know who wrote them.) The ones that were signed got replies–the ones who SPOKE to me got quicker replies. That’s just how life works. If you want to get noticed. Sign your name to something.

Anonymity doesn’t give you any form of power with me. If anything, it just makes me think you’re weak and boring. I know it’s hard to confront someone…but would you rather be uncomfortable or be dismissed? Would you rather be thought of as a jerk or thought of as a coward? Would you rather be someone, or no one? Unfortunately, it’s the current trend in society to be the latter.

Thanks for reading that. It’s always nice to have no one’s attention.

Another Open Letter to Whoever Called the Cops on My Band…

Dear Neighbor,

Look…you’ve known me for 28 years. For at least 15 of those, I’ve played music; and bands have been meeting at my house for about 8-10 of them. This isn’t new. The only thing new is that you’re calling the police…and today was the THIRD time this year.

I’m a pretty nice guy (though, sure, I’m kind of a jerk on my blog…but I come here to blow off steam–we’re talking about REAL life, here). I’m reasonable. I’ll listen to objections. I’ll work with you. But you haven’t spoken to me. You’ve just called the cops. After 28 years, I would have thought you could show me the basic respect of talking to me before sending Florissant’s finest to my doorstep.

That irritates them, by the way. The cop from today spent about five minutes bad-mouthing you. He thought it was ridiculous that you called while the SUN WAS STILL UP (about 6 p.m.) and that you don’t seem to know that the ordinance says we can go until 10:00. He pretty much thought you were a joke. He even called in and tried to get YOUR name so we could walk over there together to talk to you. When the cops agree with the person the complaint has been (anonymously) filed against…there’s a message there. (Anonymity is always always ALWAYS a sign of cowardice, by the way.)

I’m actually pretty sure I know who you are–especially after Glen (one of my neighbors) gave me a friendly wave as I was leaving to go get dinner tonight. I’m putting you on notice. Next time you steal my trash can to use as your own, you’re getting the police called on you. Next time you mow the lawn at six in the morning (when some people ARE asleep), you’re getting the police called on you. Next time you let your dog shit in my yard, you’re getting the police called on you. Next time I can hear you yelling at your wife from my yard, you’re getting the police called on you. Next time you add ANOTHER illegally-high antenna to the roof of your house, you’re getting the police called on you. …if you even BREATHE too loud, you’re getting the police called on you.

And I’ll have the sack to give them my name, too.

-Derek–and you know where I live

This struck me as funny…

My assistant at the library stumbled upon my blog today (as she was looking for something else entirely). She ran across a post from 2006 that was a list of stuff I like. I only kind of remember writing it, and all I particularly remembered about the list was that I also included a much shorter list of things I didn’t like and “George Bush” was among them–which wasn’t really the POINT of the list (or this post for that matter), but it was all I remembered.

The thing that struck me as funny was that she pointed out that I listed “Jesus” at #23.

Now, I should say that the list was not necessarily in order of significance…but here’s a brief summary of things I had above Jesus on the list:

Having a blog
The Who

…and some other things that are a little bit more sentimental and don’t make me look quite as weird. But she was right. It is kind of strange that I work at a Bible college, I hold a preaching degree, and I was probably even AT the college (“working”) when I wrote that post…but it didn’t occur to me to list “Jesus” until #23.

Just thought that was funny. No real point to today’s writing.

…oh, except I wanted to mention that I had someone come into the library today and complain that they found the cover of one of the magazines we stock offensive and asked me to cover it up. Uh…no? I didn’t take the photo, the photo cleared every standards board they had to go through, and the issue’s actually been sitting there since JUNE and this is the first complaint we’ve had…so I’m not too worried about it. I’m not going to censor something that’s already been cleared. Plus, I noticed that the person didn’t complain about the nearby issue of a magazine that presented a much less-clad “Adam and Eve” with strategically placed tree-branches…guess when the Christians present nudity, it’s perfectly pure, but when a secular magazine has someone on the cover in essentially a swimming-suit (revealing no nipples, panty lines, or “private” areas), it’s lewd. Odd, the double-standards that pop up from time to time.

…however, it did bring to my attention that I should really find out why they haven’t shipped us a new issue since June. That’s actually a valid concern.

Current Listening:

  • I’ve returned to Ray Davies’ record “Working Man’s Cafe.” Certainly at or near the top of my “Best of 2007” list.

When it Rains…

The blog’s been a little political lately, and though that’s a big part of who I am, and this being an election year, it’s bound to be more prominent, I thought it’d be good to write something else since I know a lot of my friends who come here aren’t as liberal as I am. I don’t really care if I offend people I don’t know, but for those who I do–and whose opinions matter and/or are civil–I thought a return to nonsense would be welcomed…and I like folks like Roger and Nik, whose political views often vary from mine, but who I still can count as friends. Might be nice to write something I know won’t irritate them for a change.

So here’s a list of my top ten favorite things to do on a rainy day–which is probably all we’ll have here in St. Louis until the backlash of Gustav blows away. (By the way, I’ve heard virtually NO reports of major damage from that…have I just been missing the reports due to the RNC overshadowing it, or was it less than what they imagined? Anyone know?)

Also, I know I’m posting this in the same day as my last post, but that’s because it’s DEAD in the office and I need a quick break from working on the same thing I’ve been working on all day. My last post is still worth reading if you like my political posts…but if you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend it–even though I think I’m being a little more fair than usual in that one.

…anyway…when it rains, I like to:

10. Sit around with the lights off. Don’t know why. I just like the sound of the rain hitting the roof. I find it relaxing. I particularly used to like the sound the rain made on the roof of the auditorium of the Ferguson church, back when I worked there. There was a resonance that was just great. Not too bad at the house, but nothing echoes like a church.

9. Play guitar. Specifically acoustic, but plugged in with a lot of delay. I just think an echoing guitar balanced against a rain-shower (not a STORM, mind you, but a shower) sounds really cool. I usually don’t play anything too specific during these times. Just experimenting around–nothing salvageable or even very good. Just stuff.

8. Watch John Cusack movies. Not just because Cusack’s my favorite actor…but mostly because it rains in almost every movie he’s done, except for “Grosse Point Blank.” I’m sure there’s another one or two that it doesn’t rain…but most of them have at least one major rain scene. Just kind of cool/geeky to tap into that.

7. Solitary Things. This one’s kind of a catch-all for whatever else isn’t on this list. Just stuff that I do by myself that I don’t do on an ordinary day. Stuff like go to a cafe or a pub and have a drink and a sandwich. Or go shopping for dinner-ware. Or sit with a glass of wine and watch a DVD. Stuff that I don’t really need or want other people to be around to do.

6. Write and or sketch. Specifically longhand (if I’m writing), on a blank and unlined piece of paper, with a pencil. I like the scratching sound of the pencil against the paper, offset by the rain. I’ve come up with some of my favorite writings and drawings that way.

5. Walk through a parking lot. Especially if I don’t have to look good, or can easily excuse it. I like the aesthetic of walking in and having people KNOW I was rained on. I don’t quite know why. I think it’s just because that’s something we all can relate to–anywhere you go in the world that people can inhabit, there’s rain (or snow, which is close enough). We’ve all come in with wet-socks and had to change our clothes before sitting on the good furniture. It’s a common human experience. There’s something comforting in that. As a Humanist, I like things that are common to all of us. It rains on both the terrorist and the pacifist, the Christian and the Jew, the Sunni and the Shiite, the living and the dead. I like it so much that for the entirety of my adult life so far, I have never owned an umbrella (ella ella–sorry, it’s still stuck in my head).

4. Drive. I especially like to drive at night–like 2 or 3 a.m. I don’t really care for it at noon or 6 p.m. when the crazies are out and no one bothers with thinking of the OTHER drivers on the road. (I don’t know what it is, but when it rains in this town, people freaking FORGET how to drive–not that they’re very good at it on a dry day. It’s probably like that in every city, though.) But in the wee-hours, when the roads are pretty empty, I find it really relaxing to drive around in the rain. Sometimes with moody music. Sometimes with nothing at all. Usually with a window cracked open.

3. Listen to David Bowie. I think that’s why he’s so big in the UK–the rain. His music just seems to fit the rain really well–particularly stuff from “Hours” and onward, in my opinion. I especially like to listen to Bowie driving around at 2-3 a.m. like I was just saying. 🙂

2. Read. There’s a really nice quality to reading when the rain’s bouncing off the roof. Usually with a cup of coffee or tea. Perfect time to escape into a novel or biography. I mean…that might just be a librarian-thing…but I dig it, anyway.

1. Sleep. By FAR my favorite thing to do in the rain. I don’t know why, but I always seem to sleep much, much more soundly when it’s raining. In fact, I’ve slept through major, tornadic storms before. I guess it all goes back to me finding the sound the rain makes on the roof (and/or windows, depending on the bedroom) relaxing.

So…there you go. A lighter post for y’all. 🙂