Like Hummingbirds in Heavy Rain

A runway at night is a scene of apocalypse, flat, hard paved, empty and adorned by hundred of droplets of colored light. The mynd-like silence is broken in even intervals by the shredding of air by props and jets only to return to the infinite anticipation of soundlessness. The beacon hums lowly as it flashes its distinct code of white and color across the landscape, illuminating all in operatic sweeps.

Everything seems strangely far away, the service vehicles along the access road, the rustle of wind socks and the chatter of jumpers just inside the hanger doors. The real world doesn't touch this place any more than it has to. This is the realm of daredevils and weekend aviators who frequent the work-a-day world just enough to be considered members of society and not a touch more.

Everyone is waiting, waiting for the light, waiting for the weather to clear, waiting for the next load, the next jump, the next seventy seconds of freefall.

It's a bit like real life that way yet comfortably not so.

Kids Today

Kevin over at Pointless Banter has an interesting article lambasting anyone born since 1981 for lacking culture relevance.

I agree with his basic premise, that the popular culture of the generation that came of age in the late eighties and early nineties carries a great deal more cultural gravitas than most of what's been produced in the last few years. Reality Bites, Nirvana, the original The Real World, the works of Kevin Smith and many of their contemporaries have an edge, a force and a quality unmatched by The Hills, Fall Out Boy or MTV's later forays into reality television, to use his examples.

I cannot, however, agree with his assertion that this is generation Y's, failing, or at least not their fault. Kevin Smith's first few films notwithstanding, the makers of media are rarely the same age as those who consume it. The production personnel, money moguls, gatekeepers and producers that created generation X's iconography all grew up in the seventies. Likewise, the people who have created this last decade's drivel, the media slop that generation Y consumes so readily is made, predominantly, by members of generation X.

So, yeah, the stuff from fifteen years ago was pretty great. What's disappointing is that we, the people who grew up on it, can't get our shit together well enough to produce something consistently as good.


When My Cup's Already Overfilled

"Wow, you have an awful lot of free time. Maybe I should do what you do," he said to me.

I suppose my neighbors and acquaintances can be forgiven for thinking this. I do often have a whole week off of more. Last year I was idle for six consecutive weeks. They notice me when I'm not on a gig because I'm pretty conspicuous, home all the time, up at late hours, wandering the neighborhood aimlessly and wasting several hours a day at the nearby coffee house.

What is apparently not obvious is my absence when I'm working, waking before dawn and returning home late into the night, sleeping only a few hours at a time or spending weeks on the road.

I did the math and I worked around 2300 hours last year, about fifteen percent more hours than the average American professional. My work days start in the twelve hour range and go up from there. I once worked a twenty-six hour day. On non-union shows we work six days a week.

It's not that I have a lot of time off. Rather it's that my work hours are uniquely distributed. My friends and neighbors notice that I'm often relaxing when they come home from work but they don't notice that I'll work with barely so much as a coffee break for weeks at a time.

I like my way better. I did a desk job once and it made me into a bad person.


And Some Days...

... you find yourself cooking stew over a fire of wet wood whilst dodging hail, practicing kendo and wondering about the meaning of faith. You take a pause to shower and then attend a Jewish wedding and marvel at the energy behind the party. Later in the day you'll turn down an invitation to any orgy because you're just not in the correct psychological space.

When your mother warned you there'd be those days, this wasn't what she meant.


Mead and the Pyramid.

I asked this question in childhood. When I was still in elementary school I made a bit of a quest out of finding the answer. I consulted dozens of books. I inquired of teachers and I even had my mother call our family doctor to ask. Nobody knew. I never did get a good answer and the question faded from my mind, unanswered. It had gone almost forgotten until the other day when, in a conversation about brewing mead, someone asked the same question of me that I had once asked so many others.

"To which food group does honey belong?"

I had to chuckle at the full circle this question has made with me. Musing for a moment, I replied, "Since almost all of honey's nutritional value comes from carbohydrates, I suppose it would have to go with the breads and the starches but that's just an educated guess."

After twenty years of curiosity, I'm happy with my deduction.

If anyone knows for certain, please tell me. Otherwise, I'm keeping what I've got.


The Inevitability of History

Unquestionably, today is a landmark day. Doubtless, the California Supreme Court's ruling, unequivocally lifting the ban on same sex marriage, will be a watershed for American family law.

Despite this, I continue to be bothered by the shortsightedness of moral conservatives as they continue to oppose universal enfranchisement of a myriad of social groups.

Much like the bulk of my generation puts as much stock in someone's race or gender as we do in their shoe size, so, too will the next generation find sexual orientation to be equally as irrelevant.

In fifteen years we'll all be embarrassed that we even had to have this debate.

Here's to greater equality.

And here's to power greedy, pig headed, antiAmerican faux moralists learning to just shut the fuck up.


Rock n' Roll [TM]

Rock n' Roll [TM}
What happened to Rock n' Roll?

What happened to Metal Gods and prayers for peace and tuning in and dropping out? What happened to Woodstock and Lou Addler? What happened to smashing guitars sticking to the establishment? What happened to nigger music corrupting well behaved protestant white kids?

When did music stop being dangerous, sometime after they cut Elvis off at the waist for fear that a television broadcast of his hips might crush civilization as we understand it but before reggae became popular in Japan. When did the songs of redemption and revulsion, freedom and fanaticism, sex and social symptom become fodder for doctoral students' theses? When did youth culture acquire it's own historians like a half century's cultural transformation was a blip in the annals of collective yesterday like the Boer War and the fall of Czar Nicholas as if Anastasia herself might be found if only one studied the liner notes with enough vigor? The next generation's music has prompted no senate hearings, no conservative outrage, at least no more outrage than is considered ambient for anyone far enough to the right. No one has locked themself in their studio so that rock could flow through the atmosphere and no one has kicked down the doors of a radio station to stop the pollution of young minds.

Are Marylin Manson and the Insane Clown Posse the best that we can muster, a clan of would-have-also-never-been's that perpetually mistake grease paint and facial piercings for an authentic pair of testicles and never understand that Kiss and Dee Snider and Ziggie Stardust actually made music.

Madonna danced before a tableau of burning crosses. Ozzie Osbourne, mandibular dove decapitations aside, snorted ants and drank Nikki Six's urine. Iggy Pop wore a leather SS uniform, immolated himself with a broken beer bottle and invited audience members to drink his blood. Bob Marley took two bullets in the chest and finished the show before seeking medical attention. Ray Charles did more heroin in the summer of '62 than everyone born since 1981 put together and all of these people did this with a self determination and abandon unknown in today's popular culture.

What happened to it all? What happened to rebellion and radicalism, to leather and lace, to talking guitars and rock operas, to hedonism and heroism, to the decade of decadence, to an entire generation with an axe to grind, to stratocasters and strife, to arenas and anarchy, to loving life and hating our parents, to the British invasion, to carousing without consequences, to vinyl, to groupies, to pumped, powerful, preening, primadonna, piss n' vinegar rock gods? Who decided that Genesis could score Disney films or that "light rock" wasn't an oxymoron.

What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck happened to Rock n' Roll?

They happened. They, the empty pronoun, the ephemeral other whom we can never know except to know that they are unlike us. They happened. They unmade Rock n' Roll. They sold it back to us, shrink wrapped, portion controlled, ergonomically redesigned, shipped overnight with bonus gifts of mass production attitude and manufactured soul. Rebellion is a product. Purpose is a slogan and angst has to many consecutive consonants for a twenty first century VJ like Carson Daley to bother with. Profit is erzatz. Melody is afterthought. Lenny Bruce is rotating so fast in his coffin that the TVA is thinking of hooking him up to a turbine to bring a little bit of light back into the abyss that used to be southern rock.

You can't always get what you want, unless you're at Wal-Mart. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose unless you have Aflac. School's out for summer so it's time for a Carnival Cruise. Stephen Tyler pitches digital cameras. Ozzie Ozbourne has his own reality show and his wife is competing with Oprah for daytime Neilson points. The ghost of Freddy Mercury hocks low carb Coke as if that were the kind of coke that rockstars would care about.

Yes, the Beatles had bobble head action figures. Yes, there was a Jefferson Airplane comic book. Yes, Alice Cooper once hosted the Muppet show. Maybe hindsight is all the blurrier for having to stare through the lenses of ten thousand hangovers and perhaps it is the prerogative of one generation to idolize the icons of the generation previous. These things are true and to be remembered lest the silver glow of an polished past lack the obligatory tarnish. It still doesn't feel the same.

Is it gone or is it just sleeping? Does the soul of Rock n' Roll hibernate deep in the collective unconscious, waiting for the right combination of hermetically intoned power chords to awaken it like Lovecraft's Leviathan? Has the beast been tamed or is it waiting to lash out at a would be master? Will there be another Elvis or another Carol King? Will there be another Jimi or a new Grace Slick? Will there be another Jimmy Page or Roger Waters or FUCK, I'm desperate, another Huey Lewis? Will music remember how to feel and how to believe? Is there a tomorrow or are Eminem, Daughtry and Fred Durst all we can hope for and more than we deserve?

John Lennon went to the Dakota and Rick Allen lost an arm, which is a fucking stupid thing for a drummer to do. Janis Joplin found a needle full of shit to good for her. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Holly and Jim Croce should have taken the bus. Axl Rose grew a pot belly when he should have died young. Gerry Garcia committed a crime against humanity by dying from the same disease as my grandfather. No matter how scared a kid's parents might be by Marylin Manson, his grandparents were ten times as scared of Little Richard. And Johnny Cash is still the meanest and toughest SOB in this corner of the cosmos and cardiac arrest be damned.

Turn me on dead man.

Yeah, it's a repost but it's one of my favorites.


I Think It's Going to be a Long, Long Time.

Here I am.

All this time away and I'm back in this place again. There's no design to the visit, just a whim, some accidental proximity and the words in the back of my head, “I haven't been there in a while. I think I'll drop by.“

When I was a junior and senior in college, I was here everyday. I knew a third the clientèle by name and another third on sight. I languished after hours, knew the life stories of the employees, understood the intricacies of the pricing system, could sing all of the canned songs and I had a table everyone knew to be mine. Kitten worked in the bagel shop next door and would join me each afternoon when he had finished work and I had left class.

The place has changed in the half decade since I vacated, changed, but only just so. The tables have been rearranged and the kick-nacks re-purposed but the functionality and feel is exactly the same. The menu has expanded but the simple black coffee never evolves. The faces are different but the people aren't. They're just like I was a half decade past, eager but waiting, unsure but certain and carefree with the weight of an imagined world on their shoulders.

There's a familiar face at the other end of the room but I'm tempted to assume that I'm not recognized, looking so different now than then. I'm sure that if I were identified that any interaction would be awkward and strained. I can't even remember if that person liked me and I'm very sure that it doesn't matter any longer.

My world has both expanded and narrowed since my days here. I crossed a certain critical life threshold and the possibilities regarding the balance of my life have transitioned from a broad expanse extending endlessly and dauntingly in all directions to a simple set of paths that, though treacherous, circuitous and difficult to traverse, have a precise course and an unambiguous destination.

Thusly, I have no more time for this place, for the idle hours and the meditative afternoons, for the languid conversation and the self-congratulatory ownership of space. I don't care to spend more than the nostalgic hour remembering the ambitious, eager and clueless person that used to wear my skin. Don't misunderstand; I had many happy times here. This was a place of camaraderie and laughter, of revelry and learning, of contemplation and confession. The time I spent here reading, carousing, studying, scheming, chatting, dozing and busily going about the business-less business of being in my early twenties remains some of the most memorable. That time was not wasted. The place just doesn't quite fit today, like an old leather jacket that still has it's style and smell but has gotten too narrow in the shoulders, the one that was so cool but that you know you'll never put back on.

It's a nice place to visit but I'm glad I don't live here anymore.


A Production Department Brain Teaser

You have a production coordinator, a makeup artist, a producer and an actor that each have a rental car that needs to be returned to a specific lot on the north end of town by the close of business today.

Industry etiquette dictates that none of these people be made to return their own car.

The actor flies out at 1000 hrs & his car is at a downtown hotel.

The makeup artist flies out at 1300 hrs & her car is at an uptown hotel.

The producer flies out at 1700 hrs & his car is in the parking lot of a bar on the east side of town.

The production coordinator lives locally.

The airport is at the south end of town.

Using only two production PA's, how does one get each above the liner to the airport and their car back to the rental lot through Atlanta traffic without incurring late fees or overtime?

Show your work.


And Some Days...

...you find yourself lying on your back, dressed in hunting orange, surrounded by a gospel choir, praying silently to a Pagan god, hiding from the unblinking eye of the fourth wall and knowing, for once, that you've finally made a good choice in life.