Sunday, June 25, 2006

I get mail

Having just gotten up, fed the cats and made breakfast, I am enjoying a few minutes while Liz sleeps and I can drink my coffee while writing--this is something I haven't been able to do in at least a year, certainly not since we'd moved here. But now finally--a great feeling.

Last night I was asked by several friends about the late afternoon posting. They all know none of it was directed at them, simply because I actually do respect them. However, the criticisms were fair and properly laid out:

"Are these people worth writing about" - yes, for the humor factor and for the fact that since most of them love to provoke an argument but fear confrontation, my way is calmly quiet. That and I'm totally taking the piss out of them.

A more-harshly worded one: "why not just tell them to fuck off? They obviously act like ciphers, so just have done with them"--fair assessment, but sometimes, you do have to dismiss someone of long standing in your life in a subtle manner. And yes, I know--the blog is not subtle in the words I choose, but it beats arm-flailing histrionics.

"Stop allowing them to keep you living in the past with them. You're not 18."--this, I know and am keenly aware of. Thus, as with everything else, my time spent on them is now limited to the point that the phone won't ring and that's fine.

"Sometimes you have to face facts--you've grown past these people and they'll never be able to catch up. Move on."--and sadly true, that's a main element of it.

Those were the criticisms. Many e-mails in my inbox this morning, filled with bile or horror. Rather than go on and take some bits and pieces from the e-mails I will say this much, whether I'm addressing my own situation or just people in general (and forgive the tone this will come out in--I don't mean it to be so obvious or worse, patronizing):

If you claim to be someone's friend, you treat them with respect. You don't take and take and take and not give back. The backbone of any friendship is reciprocity. Very simple. You speak and you listen. Loyalty. Non-judgment--sitting and judging a friend will come right back at you--sooner than later, you'll be judged in turn with far worse results. Inevitability: equal respect means a successful friendship. Not the obnoxious manner in which many of the people I wrote about think their friendships with me are supposed to go.

The last posting was a humorous machine-gunning of the usual nonsense my friends always put forth. I'm just mocking them for being so obvious when the lies/excuses/call it what you will become the meat of conversation. That and finally saying the truth--our friendships really don't have the depth nor the foundation to withstand time. The fact is we have nothing in common. We did--when it was then, not now.

People will always read how they see fit. Life is always misinterpreted.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Don't take this the wrong way but...

One of my favorite weapons of defining idiocy is the build-up phrase. Think about it--someone starts a sentence with one of these phrases that is supposed to soften the verbal blow. I have little tolerance for people in general and even less for friends (a view that Liz, myself and my two closest friends share in total), so when someone utters one of these, I take a deep breath and ready myself for the retaliatory assault, which does not equal insults or shouting; rather, I become sweetly condescending and thoroughly insincere.

Amongst my favorites:

"Don't take this the wrong way, but..." -- the best contradiction of all. You know an insult is coming when someone says this. Or they're putting themselves in some light of importance over you. A dangerous one for taking someone down with! I love it.

"What I meant was..." -- the backpeddler's special.

"You know, I never read your blog until the other day..." -- bullshitter's delight. You just so happened to read a posting on that particular day; until then it was never a thought? Oh, how they sit upon a throne of lies (rolling my eyes and extending my arms to the heavens). I've gotten that one so often now that I've run out of digits to count on. Such self-importance; most of these sorry cunts think it's always about them; I wish a pox on 'em for that. I know a lot of people and a lot of them I just can't stand. C'est la vie. Long-term hypocracy has never been good for my digestive system (see my prior postings about an ex-girlfriend and how many e-mails and calls I got about that. Fuckers. Mind your own business and get a life). You know, for all the shit I get about this blog, I should be wealthy. Go buy my album instead, you cheap pricks. THEN complain.

"You know, that's not really you..."--I also love that one. Whether it's the music I listen to, my political stance or my (apparently offensive to some) forthright, I get this a lot. Who the fuck are you to say what is and isn't me? You aren't me.

"Oh, but you love...". No, I don't. I may have liked something years ago, but that was then and this is now. Get out of the past--or at least leave me out of it. Reiteration: people are dumb.

There's also the unwarranted criticisms and opinions offered. Someone recently got a free copy of The Punch Line's album. This person gave me an unrequested critique on my lyrical skills and the fact that I did the artwork, wrote all the songs, etc.--how about saying "I didn't like it" and leave it at that. You're not qualified as a critic; you did nothing to assist in the creation in this record, so how about keeping your mouth shut? What did you ever do in your life? Have you written an album? You didn't buy it--if you don't like it say "I didn't like it" and have done with it. That's what one of my closest friends and most-trusted confidants said, no messing. "It's not for me; I understand what you were doing, but not my cup of tea". And THAT has value. Another of my near-and-dears slammed two of the songs on their vocal merits and didn't like some of the production. A valid point. People who are casual acquaintances need to learn basic etiquette. Especially the uneducated. And before I get a slew of e-mails, I know--opinions are like assholes.

Editor's note--if I say one word in my defense or retaliation, it's ALWAYS the ever-lovin' "I can't believe you just said that..." and then the weepy reprisals begin. Surprise: even when I apologize, I'm not sorry; I'm just using empty words as I can't be bothered listening to the whining and the moral indignation. You get what you deserve. Especially if you're going to provoke me unnecessarily. 90% of my acquaintances seem to love the wind-up. It must give them some over-compensatory superiority complex. Peasants, really!

Why, why, why do I write these things? Why would I say these horrible things about my friends? Don't I know people may read this and think I'm talking about them? Yes I do. It doesn't matter. It's very easy for people to say to me where and why and how I'm being a shit when it's convenient for them and THEN they'll ask for favors or money with no compunction of realizing their behavior. I listen; then I report. And if you think this blog is about you, you must be feeling some guilt over your actions (you're so vain).

Not having wasted a raining Saturday, I went to work for a few hours and then came home to write, design and ship off the one-sheets for The Punch Line's album. As it was pointed out to me last night (in a very critical word), since I'm doing all the work, I have to get this done for the sake of selling points to the distributors. Okay--take a deep breath and get it done--so I did. I'm a pro; work for enough record labels in your life and you know there are certain tools needed. This is one. So the packages went out with the noon mail.

Off to change clothes. Dinner with friends this evening. The joys of a civilized Saturday night.

So guys, if you're reading this--hey, don't take it the wrong way.

Friday, June 23, 2006


On this quiet night, I did something I haven't done in about 13 years; I went through most of my (old) recorded output. I have to admit, with fresh ears and distance/perspective, the songs and performances are quite good. Songs like "The Moon Fell Down" and "American Top Forty" have great guitar textures; "Talk To Me, Tanya" has balls, both musically and vocally and some of the others, like "Whatever Makes You Happy" are just plain great--it makes me very proud.

Had an eye-opening conversation with T. earlier. We were discussing our current situations; we're already making music together and I couldn't be more pleased to work with someone who has such a clear-cut notion of what he wants to achieve and proud that he feels I'm the only one who can take the helm to steer the boys into the desired waters. Producing them is a joy; it's inspiring and thrilling. They ask advice; I give it. They ask direction; I give it. They ask for help; I give it. They ask for more music to help push them forward; to have their own musical knowledge expanded--I'm more than happy to give it. The guys have a genuinely bright future (with or without me to aid them) and it's warming to hear a band that does what my former bands just weren't capable of (not musically speaking). T.'s theory is simple: cut the shit and play the music. Keep your egos in check and let the leaders lead. Whoever does all the work deserves to reap (and should expect) the rewards.

"Everyone's a cowboy; no one wants to be the Indian...
You'll just stand and wait for help; but I'm the only one who can"

Thank God for no more toothache. It may be cloudy outside, but I feel so much sunnier.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is it really so strange?

I'd been talking about "Stylized" for a while; thought about the songs in my backlog; wanted to plan this the right way. Now everything's changed. I've basically written the entire album in little-to-no time and it's shaped into more than I'd imagined. Someone said recently (after hearing one of the new songs, "Coming Down"), "that's what I knew you could write. Writing in the here and now is you, not the old Punch Line stuff". He's right. New songs, like the aforementioned and songs like "Aggravation"; "You Won't Grow Up"; "The Denouement" and "It Didn't Matter" are all me now at 41. And it's nice to not have to share anymore. Time to be greedy and good at making music for the right reasons. For those who read this blog/know me and my musical output, I will be including "Serena" as it is my most fully-realized composition, but there is no way I would ever give this song to The Punch Line, nor any band. Only I can get this done properly, string quartet arrangement and all. Now I'm excited again, thanks to the ability to be unfettered. You know, all you gotta do is turn and quietly walk away. Time for all things new again: new life, new music, new words, new people. I've said previously it's time to jettison certain things (summer cleaning of the psychological closet).

And it's a great feeling.

"Dirt on the fire relights my desire; by fanning the flames of truth
I'm as insincere as the lines around your eyes...
...And it didn't matter--it was never going to be you"

Je suis libre pour chanter comme moi-même, non asservi!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend rewind (time for truth, finally)

As the previous posting stated, The Punch Line played together on Saturday night. It was the last time this version of the band will play together. I feel that I have no desire to pretend any longer. I am walking out on this configuration. I do not enjoy it. I am not musically/creatively--call it what you want--fulfilled; I am not having any fun and I do not enjoy doing all the work; having it left in my lap and footing all the costs. Enough is really enough. I would prefer to say it's over and not wind up disliking Bob and Chris for the sake of carrying on a farce.

I was uncomfortable with the way things were done and arranged on Saturday. The fact that a rehearsal was booked because of a visitor is shameful. What makes matters worse is that I had said to the visitor "I'll bet if you ask to arrange a rehearsal, it'll happen. If I ask, it won't". And I was unfortunately right. So that was the moment when I said it's over and I went along, obligingly played and thankfully, Liz was with me, because it may have ended right in the middle--the minute we were outside, she said "I've never seen you so obviously wanting to be somewhere else".

I'm putting all of this behind me and moving forward. On I go with a new line-up and the idea of playing for fun, which this was not.

Discomfort is something I don't like. If I don't enjoy a book, I stop reading it. If I don't like a movie, I walk out. Thus, these "friendships" are (for lack of a better phrase) not worth it. So I will jettison them. I'm not trying to insult or put down anyone; I just don't want to fake friendship because of time. Unfortunately, friendships end.

I don't feel bad about any of this anymore. I did, initially, as I felt that maybe there was some room for compromise, but the facts are I have grown beyond these people. I have grown beyond playing in a band. I have grown up. I am 41. I am not 22; I do not wish to pretend to be 22 and I do not wish to keep putting on the costume of comfortable old patterns for the sake others.

The Punch Line with Chris and Bob are finished; I have purged them from the band, since it is "my band" and they haven't shown any care or concern towards this project. So are the constrictions of friendships that only bring back diminshing returns. There's really nothing more in this for me--what, more bills? More excuses why no one can get together to rehearse and work at being a band? It's foolish. Between the nights Bob and I spent talking about replacing Chris, cataloging the list of reasons why he was not healthy for the band and then not getting rid of him, it seems so pointless. Not Bob's fault entirely, but if we'd said to Chris together what needed to be said, I wouldn't have erased the rhythm section in its' entirety. But I have no desire to be obligated to anyone in a band, so here I called the final shots and they had to go.

I am now free of the past. This version of the band should have ended after Memorial Day '05. That it didn't because we were recording is ridiciulous, but my fault there. We finished the album; the job was completed and now I can pick up my life where it was without the inconvenience of this last Punch Line. You know, it was only a rock group.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday night's alright for something, but what - I'm not sure

Note the use of Gibson guitars and Marshall stacks. The ex-pop god goes R-O-C-K. (that was a joke, for any of the twats who love to take everything I say out of context.)

Photo courtesy of Liz Ross.

An err... um... interesting night (actually, file under "l.s.t.b."); my hearing is not at 100% today. More during the week.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Weekend rewind (scrape away)

While this past week was good (work, etc. - wise), I've been feeling like a bus ran over me. My annual attack of sciatica kept me in pain, constant discomfort and barely mobile. Add to that, a constant pain/irritation in my gums, thanks to a canker sore which hasn't healed yet. While the sciatica can be dealt with via anti-inflammatory medications, Orajel and peroxide haven't healed the soreness--thus my first trip to a dentist since 1976. Enough said. Happy to report, it's just a minor infection that can be taken care of with a prescription mouth rinse, but I have to go back next week to have a complete cleaning and tending to of the few cavities I seem to now have. Oh well, I'm no different than anyone.

The Punch Line have rehearsal this Saturday night; looking forward to it. It'll be nice to see the guys and make some music, especially as we'll be having guests in the studio with us.

I should think by the beginning next week, I'll be able to hit the gym with my old verve having returned. Feeling like a cripple doesn't inspire me to work the elliptical.

Back to resting; it helps the body heal.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Impossibility becomes redressing

Not a spectacular weekend, what with two days of straight downpouring heavy rains mixed with the appalling humidity. Nonetheless, it's been a greatly relaxing 48 hours--running errands and good conversations. Finding the happy balance of normalcy and diffusion of any lingering tensions.

Back to the gym tomorrow; it's that moment again.

Enough minor ramblings; still have more work to do and papers to sign.