Title stolen from Deftones, Change (in the house of flies).
Good Afternoon, kittens.
Odd day. More snow, and more snow…back still hurts and and I can’t really do much but wait for the Chiropractor appointment tomorrow.
I have been thinking (dangerous) about a recent conversations. Every other week, my family gets together for Sunday dinner. Always a riot, always good for a laugh and some really clever conversation. This past week, my father attended (he usually only comes on birthday celebrations). Whether I like it or not, he and I are very similar. We like similar music, similar movies and similar books. I walk like him, talk with similar inflections. The older I get, the more alike we look. Often, extended family members will comment that photos of me remind them of him.
The after dinner discussion revolved around the evolving nature of music, the Internet, and television. We talked about how much warmer the sound of new vinyl was-how analog music often sounds better than digitally recorded music. I pointed out that regardless of that feeling, the industry, while recording more analog music, still sells it digitally. Vinyl sales are stronger than ever, but digital downloads make up the bulk of purchases. CD’s are going away. Digital book sales are on the rise and while I don’t think books are every going away, most reading will be done on a tablet of some sort. Internet and television are already merging and soon enough they will be the same thing.
Rather than disputing my point, my father’s argument was he would never get his music or books digitally. As if that reason alone, that his generation liked these things to be tactile (actual pages to turn or discs, records to touch, look at) was going to stop the digital progression.
It frustrates me sometimes.
I love my father. He was a fantastic dad, always finding time for me and my interests. As he aged, things changed. He changed, though he might not want to admit that. His humor went from being light and very funny, to a dark, often inappropriate place. He has lost the ability to filter himself in certain situations. What he sees as innocent is often taken a different way.
I don’t blame him for his cynicism, or even his harder edge. Living often has that affect on us and no one is immune from becoming jaded.
I see that in myself the older I get.
Change becomes harder.
But this post is not about condemning my father for his life choices. I understand them, perhaps better than some of my siblings and I forgive him for all of his indiscretions, even the choices that devastated my family.
I only write these things because I think some of these life choices have lead to a stagnation. The older we get, the more resistant we can become. But I worry. My father was a cutting edge guy, always aware of changes in music, literature and the like. He still reads voraciously (three books or more a week), still watches tons of movies, likes to think of himself as politically aware (and he may be, more so that I am for sure). He spends the majority of his funds on music books and movies. His refusal to not only adopt, but even acknowledge the current digital climate baffles me.
It makes me wonder-What things do I refuse to acknowledge? Where in my life am I refusing to embrace changes? And more importantly, is all this negativity towards my fathers attitude only a mechanism to avoid changing my own perspective?
Better choices…stretch my wings and fly.
1. My back may have stopped working, but at least I can’t get out of bed (another plus, I am not “allowed” to shovel any snow as I might hurt myself worse).
2. Laziness is a virtue, finally.
3. No need to buy a hairbrush. Haven’t needed a barber in a decade.
4. Stopped caring if my shoes are hip.
5. Hipsters are bothered by me (this one might not be made up).
6. Getting to put ‘gray’ in the hair color box on my passport application. Cant wait to do the same on my next driver license.
7. All my clothes and shoes from the 90’s still fit and some are miraculously back in fashion.
8. 20 years ago doesn’t seem that long ago, especially when I think about being married that long.
9. Getting to look at teenagers, shake my head and say things like “you look so ridiculous, dressed like that,” without the slightest sense of irony.
10. Forgetting I am 40+ and being frustrated and angry when my body refuses to do things it willingly and easily did at 20. Yep, I really could dunk a basketball once and now, sliding some printer paper under my feet when I “jump” seems impressive.
11. Simple things are more interesting. I can’t express how much I prefer simple, basic potato chips, cereal, coffee, clothes.
12. Would rather spend my money on vacations, clothes and music than expensive cars or a new, bigger, house.
13 Not caring at all what anyone thinks about how I look, what I drive or where I live, who my friends are. This one is the best of the best.
Since Salt Lake City currently is home to the most polluted air in the USA, Sheryl and I took advantage of a fantastic opportunity and spent the last three days away from it up near Park City at The Canyons. Neither of us are skiers, snowmobile riders, snow shoeing types, but we do enjoy large beds, room service and spending time together. With a view of a chair lift and several ski runs, it was a lovely experience. Watching others do with relative ease, something that I have no skill for (skiing), fascinates me.
The best part, being above the inversion. After several weeks of toxic air, smog and cold, the appearance of bright blue sun filled skies (and temperatures near 40) was welcoming. Frustrating to think that the weather has been fairly decent everywhere in Utah with the exception of the Wasatch Front.
Last night, we went out for dinner. I am often surprised by the things I order; things to make my child self shake his head. At Squatters, we ordered edamame and I ordered meatloaf. Such fantastic meatloaf…maybe it was the bacon on top.
Seems we missed the freezing rain, though when we came home this morning, the driveway and sidewalk were still covered in ice. When I was in New England, I experienced several of these type of storms. One favorite memory is driving back to Claremont, NH from Newport, NH. The drops would hit, creating little frozen explosions on the windscreen. Rather than try to drive through the storm, I pulled over and watched other cars fail to climb the hill just outside of Newport, sliding off the road to the right. A relatively warm night, the storm surprised most of us.
The storm lasted less than twenty minutes but left a sheen of ice half an inch thick on the road. Half an hour after that, a plow truck drove past, covering the street with sand. The ride home was a bit hilarious, with what had to be half the town of Claremont trying to get back, traffic stretching for miles as we all drove slowly, more slowly, stopping and going. With things so out of my control, I decided to not let the delays bother me, rolling down the window and smiling to myself. Quite a pleasant memory actually.
Yesterday in Salt Lake, I don’t think it was fun for most people at all.
Another plus for me-Scraping the melting ice off the sidewalk this morning gave me a chance to talk to my neighbor. While we get along great with her and her husband, she and I have never really talked. The storm reminded her of similar events in Norway, and she was more than happy to tell me about them. We talked kids and school and common friends (who knew we had any?). A fantastic twenty minutes.
“Promise them free booze and they will come running.” -George Washington
I enjoy sharing my opinions and thoughts on this blog. I also enjoy listening to others share what they are thinking, what bothers them or what they feel strongly about.
Right now I am thinking.
I am thinking it is not my concern how other people choose to use social networking sites. I have a varied group of contacts that share vastly different things. We often have contrary opinions on the news of the day, the large debates that engage many of us. If someone wants to use their Facebook page, twitter page, to rant and roll, so be it.
I also have that same ability. I am trying to do better in sharing controversial things (which I still enjoy doing) without adding commentary that discourages honest conversation.
A few things I have notices lately (things I want to complain about)-Too much vaguebooking. I am not going to take the bait when you toss out some cryptic sentence about some trauma or event and refuse to give relevant information. Please, if you do this, for the love of anything and everyone, STOP!
Second, an overload of images of some random American founding father along with a quote (that may or may not be accurate or in context), justifying a personal belief or stance on an issue (Blah blah blah! Whine!). I honestly find that sort of thing ridiculous. These men were not omnipotent, and did not have insight into every possible scenario the United States would ever encounter. Sure, they were some wise dudes, but honestly, if your entire argument hinges on what Thomas Jefferson may or may not have said, it is time to go back to the drawing board, do some real research and form an opinion based on fact and relevant information.
For fun (and because it will certainly bother someone) I have been posting made up quotes and attributing them to various historical Americans. It makes me laugh. It makes a (ridiculous, I know) point. It makes me happy.
I think the founding fathers would approve…and if not, I can make up a quote saying they do.
“Constance, bring me my pants!”- Peyton Randolph 1773
He woke in darkness, a tiny slit of light pushing through heavy curtains that ungracefully framed the window. She was next to him, laying on her right side, sheet slipped, exposed back, the curve of her shoulders, red marks still visible from where his fingers and teeth pressed her flesh. A salty residue returned to his mouth along with the memory of her piquant gaze, suddenness of her kisses. When they found themselves in this room, anticipated moment finally upon them, he was sure she would fold, find another reason to hold back. Instead she pulled him close. Now on his neck, the bruise from her bite was just beginning to tighten and he touched it, pushed hard.
I like to pretend I am always right.
Sadly, that is delusional thinking. I have been and will be wrong over and over. It is part of being human, part of growing and learning. It is through our mistakes that we learn to be better, do better, live better.
My politics are very extreme and a part of me often thinks the other side is always wrong, most likely totally insane. They are neither. Seeing the world differently does not make someone insane or wrong, it just makes us different.
In my limited experience, it is the combination, the collaboration of ideas that gives the best solutions. America is at its best when all our ideas have a place and when conversation, collaboration and a willingness to contribute combine.
I am committing myself to this effort; to try and see the other side and be willing to listen to leaders and citizens willing to do the same.
These men have ideologies, the same as the rest of us, but I am choosing to be a voice of hope, rather than a voice of condemnation. The divisiveness put us in this mess. Perhaps, through a combined effort to find common ground, we can dig ourselves out.
Sticking with the musical theme, I am presenting 7 of my favorite live records. A few of these have songs recorded at multiple shows and I almost disqualified them for that, but decided they still are pretty dang cool.
Nothing beats seeing a band live, especially if they perform favorite songs or explode with energy. Often, a live performance on vinyl or compact disc loses some of that “I was there” flair and some bands are honestly not very good in concert. I am well aware that my liking the following performances will have a great deal to do with my affinity for the bands themselves and am not implying these are the epic of the epic. Feel free to add to the list or debate my selections. I miss the conversation.
In no particular order.
Toad The Wet Sprocket-Welcome Home-A sucker for Toad for many years, this 1992 recording has them playing in front of a home town crowd. Fear had just been released and the band was receiving lots of radio play. The record has great performances of Jam, Before You Were Born, Stories I Tell, and Hold her down. The band still tours and if you can, I recommend going to see them.Excellent songwriting all around.
The Cure- Entreat Plus-The first version of this Disintegration album performance only contained 8 tracks and that was fantastic enough. This release (which came with the Disintegration reissue) has the full 12 tracks. The cure are quite fantastic live and they have released several live recordings. This one is my favorite for the version of the title track (Disintegration, which still blows my mind), and a wonderful version of Untitled and The Same Deep Water as you.
Porcupine Tree-Octane Twisted-As far as studio albums go, The Incident was not my favorite PT’s release. That said, this live recording of that album has completely changed my opinion. The songs are more poignant now and the musical themes resonate more. I am unable to find a live version from this record on YouTube so you get a non-live version of The Blind House and a live version of Arriving Somewhere But Not Here.
Nine Inch Nails-And All That Could Have Been-NIN can be brutally bad live. Their sound is often muddled and the over the top, destructive antics of Trent Reznor make it difficult for the musicians to play their instruments (as he is often smashing them up). Perhaps because this disc is a compilation of various tour stops, most of the songs are fantastically produced and presented. I have loved my experiences watching NIN live and this captures the experience at its musical best. Check out Reptile, March of the Pigs and Piggy as well as this video performance of The Wretched.
Isis-Live III-Everyone should listen to ISIS. Period. When I was tired of singers that wanted to impress me with their vocal range or their ridiculously self indulgent lyrics, this band saved music for me. The growling, often muddled singing intrigued me, allowing vocals to just be another instrument, not something that needed to dominate a song to be effective. This particular performance has great versions of So Did We and In Fiction as well as a fantastic version of Wills Dissolve (this version is not from the Live III disc, but oh my, it is so good).
Ministry-In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up-Just 6 tracks but these 6 tracks are mind-blowing-ly good. A late comer to Ministry (discovered them in late 1990), I was wary of their “new” more metal sound. I loved the Twitch record but The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste took a few years to really enjoy. I bought this live disc in the summer of 1993 and have listened to it too many times to count. The version of Stigmata is hilariously over the top but the unforgettable track has to be So What.
Oingo Boingo-Farewell-I was fortunate to catch this tour when it came through Salt Lake City. Boingo meant a great deal to me in my high school years and their later work, especially the Boingo record, was very instrumental in helping me through a crisis or two. This performance, the last show they ever performed is my favorite live album of all time. Too many songs to list but this version of We Close Our Eyes is a personal favorite. Only A Lad was the final song in the show and I have to admit, I get a bit teary every time.
I am anticipating thoughts from some of you. Share them.
Something less serious this afternoon.
Perhaps it is the approach of yet one more arctic storm, but I feel nostalgic and thoughtful.
Spent most of the afternoon listening to The Replacements, which was pleasurable. The lyrics always hit home with me. The clever songwriting is nice as well. I really need to complete my collection of Replacement records.
Found myself craving something a bit slower paced and that is where I find myself now-slow and warm.
The Origin were an outstanding band. Just two records but a fantastic two. Another band introduced to me by Joel during 1990. I wore out two tapes of this music and whenever my mood was slightly down, this music helped. Sheryl and I saw them in concert in 1992. It was our first show together, which might be part of why I still love this band.
Four songs to listen and love.
November Days-My favorite song. Lots of bad 90’s poetry written because of the moods this song inspires in me.
Growing Old-Plinkity piano makes me happy.
Set Sails Free-A song about dark times, filled with hope.
Jumping to Fall-First track from the second record. A little more complex sound, which makes me wonder what could have come next. Oh well. Love what you have.
And because I can never stop posting songs…one more
I love guns.
There are few things in this world more excellent than the sensation of firing large caliber weapons, watching targets rip apart, feeling that wonderful kick in your wrists, or against your shoulder. The sound of a shotgun is poetry. The pop, pop, pop of a semi automatic rifle gets my blood boiling. It is powerful, beautiful, frightening.
That said, I do not own a single weapon. This is a choice I make for me and my family, It is not a condemnation on those who own safes and lock boxes full of guns or allegiance with those who think weapons in the home make you less safe or invite violence. I just choose to not own a gun.
I firmly agree with the right to own guns-and the right to not. That’s one of the wonderful things about being American, I get to choose.
The debate is once again heating up. Should the country make laws to control what weapons or how many weapons can be owned by private citizens? Mass shootings by mentally ill individuals make such conversations necessary and important, but extreme voices on either end of the debate seem to be in control of the conversation, clouding issues and covering up rational solutions in heavily emotional, reactionary rhetoric.
The answer is not to arm everyone anymore than it is to disarm them, but neither option addresses the reasons behind violence in America.
We are a rebellious people going back to the first white Europeans who immigrated west. Dissatisfied with the conditions in our parent nations, our ancestors packed up their lives and moved as far away as the world would allow. Once there, discontent drove many of them farther and farther until there was no where else to go.
It was a bloody journey.
While that sort of argument makes sense to me, it doesn’t excuse the events of the past few decades, where individuals seem to break with reality and take weapons to schools and malls. My discontent has never even begun to drive me to that sort of action.
An overwhelming lack of personal responsibility, blaming other people or outside elements for our actions, our situation certainly has some impact.
A growing disconnect from one another makes it easier to dehumanize people, making the decision to harm them as easy as deciding to shoot a clay or paper target.
Political parties and lobby groups point to a violent Hollywood or gaming culture, an eroding moral sensibility, excessive bullying, all of which may be contributing factors.
Yet, these same political structures ignore their own historical role. For nearly three centuries America solved (and still solves) the majority of its problems through gun violence. Someone pisses off the powers that be, they go blow the hell out of them. A cliched ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality (any parent knows how well that lesson sticks), which makes calls for ending the violence ring very false.
There isn’t one magical ‘why’ to understanding what makes Americans more violent. All of these issues (and many others) come into play, but what choices or actions can America take to make mass shootings a thing of the past?
We all understand that reducing access to guns does not keep them out of hands of criminals, but many of us fear a culture where everyone straps a pistol to their hip just as much.
I think the solutions will be individual, rather than collective. People determining to be more compassionate, serve each other, love more, will inspire change. Kindness can eliminate fear, which is what drives most of this conversation (fear of each other, the unknown, things beyond our control), a paralyzing fear that needs to be confronted before any real change can begin.
Summer winds wander with me. Humid and indelible, they blow at fingers and around my wrists. I walk, wet sidewalks underfoot, sloshing boots sliding through puddles, afternoon rainstorm residue and I am running late where I promised myself I would not linger.
Sallow memory keeps me wandering city streets, past a dirty alley where the two of us (clandestine, somewhat fraudulent), waist wrapped and tingling, hid ourselves in shadow, impatient mouths reaching for each other. Our decisive moment when for the briefest instant I knew (certain you did as well) the despair approaching us.
Half a decade removed from the scent of your sweat on my sheets. Half broken smiles, half remembered looks on your face, and what remains but my misunderstanding? I push through it towards a blank page, a place to write my first confession. I knew who you were, what you needed and could never promise.
It was my mistake, believing your surrender meant the same thing as mine.
I cannot fault it, still smiling when remembering you in the driver seat of a rented car, jeans lowered, lightly touching your exposed hip (faded red band of worn out underwear, dancing bears, vibrating cell phone), followed by the unforgettable gasp as I lightly kissed the back of your hand.