Monday, October 30, 1995

This is Ten Times Worse

I recently was at my parent's house, or as I like to call them, Mom and Dad, and as I drove up, they were busy bundling some branches they had cut down. I of course had my hands full so I couldn't help them, but as they were hard at work, Mrs. Weeklund, who used to baby-sit my brother and I, walked by with a friend. She stopped and chatted with "Mom" and "Dad" and they asked her if she remembered who I was. She said she did, that in fact she was just telling her friend that she remembered the time she baby-sat my brother and I, and I wouldn't stop crying. She asked my brother what I wanted, and he told her I wanted to hear my record of Yellow Submarine. And damn it, I wouldn't be happy until I did.

Yes, even as a kid, I had a fondness for the music industry. I wasn't merely fascinated by things that went round and round and made noise, I was transfixed and calmed, and entertained by music. My one talent as a child was long before I was able to read, I could pick out of my pile of 45's any song I had that anyone requested. To this day no one quite knows how I managed to identify my records which had identical labels, and all I can remember is looking at the grooves and knowing.

Last Tuesday, October 24th, I saw Bob Dylan perform live for the 13th time in my life (please no jokes about how in his Dome appearance in 1986 Bob didn't show any signs of life). All those shows have taken place in the last nine years so during that time, I've seen Bob more than: 1) the number of times I've cleaned my refrigerator; 2) the number of times I've seen my "buddy" since she's moved on; 3) the number of times I've managed to do something right. Bob is fast becoming like an old friend but lest you think I've gone overboard, one of the things I've discovered as I've surfed the Internet, is there are people who've seen Bob hundreds of times and make me look like a virgin, as far as my knowledge, so to speak.

This time around the venue was larger than I have become accustomed to (the Target Center), and I actually went with a group of ten as opposed to the solo excursions I've become used to. It was great sharing the moment with somebody, even if I had to let that somebody violate my code of rules and touch me, but Bob as usual was his incredible self. He opened the show with Drifters Escape from 1968's John Wesley Harding, and for me it wasn't quite the forceful opening as the spring's Crash the Levee or last year's Jokerman. Still, some have wondered if this choice of an opening number might not have something to do with current events in this country. Most of the vocals were lost in the imbalance of sounds but one could clearly hear Bob sing, "The trial was bad enough, but this is ten times worse. Just then a bolt of lightening struck the courthouse out of shape, and while everybody knelt to pray, the drifter did escape" (which of course got people howling).

An early highlight for me was the second song, If You See Her Say Hello (along with a later impassioned performance of a similar in theme number, I'll Remember You). My favorite tune from Blood on the Tracks used to be You're a Big Girl Now, a song about the hurt of loss and reconciling one's self with that loss and moving on and not being able to move on, but I might have to reconsider that after hearing If You See Her live, because this particular performance struck a place deep inside rarely visited these days. "If she's passing back this way, I'm not that hard to find. Tell her she can look me up, if she's got the time."

Other highlights included a cover of the Grateful Dead's Alabama Getaway, and also the acoustic Mr. Tambourine Man where Bob sang the song with his 1995 sense of renewal, discovery, and really knocked the audience, hanging on every word, swaying with every note, dead with a harmonica solo that crescendoed into something spellbinding. Just Like a Woman, Masters of War, Watching the River Flow, Highway 61 Revisited (very much the rocker unleashed at last year's Woodstock), and the searing God Knows made even the most skeptical and nostalgic in the audience rise to their feet and applaud the performers who were obviously putting a lot into this night's performances (including some electrifying and funky lead guitar work by Bob).

Yes indeed, twenty seven years after Mrs. Weeklund couldn't quite calm me down by finding my then favorite tune, this evening wound me up, and lightened the burden just a little tiny bit. The music was scorching and inspiring and above all else, way cool. Rumor has Bob hitting another West Coast swing, which I may have to see. I may fast becoming the very thing I hated in college (like a Deadhead) but this is too good to miss. I don't know if I hate being a groupie more than I love the passion of the music and how on a particular night, for a particular moment it can still knock down the walls of defense and cynicism. I dare to find anyone who is giving better and more convincing performances than what the masses saw at Target Center last Tuesday Night. I would even take my worst enemy to one of these shows. And all of you too. Mercy and Amen.

Monday, October 16, 1995

Out of the Blue

A free newsletter tip in the form of three simple words for all of you who like me spent the entire summer sun tanning- "MOISTURIZE MOISTURIZE MOISTURIZE."

Next time you run out of after dinner mints, a great replacement/altnerative are those little globs of toothpaste leftover in the sink. Once they harden, they make a tasty, breath cleaning, mouth watering delight sure to liven any party!

I have adopted the following philosophy after reading yet another self help book: "I can't wait 'til tomorrow because I keep getting better looking every day..."

One of life's more difficult concepts to grasp is not being fully able to appreciate what you have until you place all of it in its context with the events, struggles and triumphs that make up your past. Sometimes it is easy to complain about the troubles of the day without remembering how hard it was just to make it to that point anyway. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU GOT UNTIL YOU LOSE IT! If you've never been there before, you'll never be there again. But go forth with caution! Those that choose to proceed from this point do so at their own risk! Self indulgence lies ahead! There is nothing I like to talk about more than my personal life. Those that know me best know I just love using my feelings and my knowledge to enlighten others about who we really are. I am nothing if not a people person. My long drawn out "blue period" has been well chronicled and discussed about in all its glorious detail. DIRTY LAUNDRY, BUT CLEAN BOXER SHORTS! Yes, there was a time not all that long ago when you might say I wasn't doing very well, or certainly not as well as I could have been doing. Those around me might not have noticed had it not been for my incessant outbursts of crying. NOT EVEN THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE COULD OFFER A LOAN BIG ENOUGH TO BEGIN TO SOLVE THIS HERE MESS! So how did I get past that and move on to my now burgeoning and successful life? Some say it may or may not have to do with the high volume of Prozac I consumed, or the many hours spent in my Primal Scream therapy sessions; maybe it was the pile of gin bottles I left behind; or maybe even it had to do with my dear, dear devoted wife Samantha; I like to think it had more to do with an inner change- I sunk to such a low that I could sink no lower, and after a while, I developed the philosophy that nobody else's opinion mattered much anymore. If I was going to screw up, I was going to screw up my own way, on my own terms, and damn all those who with or more commonly without malice, tried to knock me off the long lost beaten path. WANNA TALK ABOUT BEAUTY? I've seen it personally. She exists and I don't know exactly which one she is but I know she is part of my life. I used to truly believe that somehow I missed that day in school when they explained to everyone what all of it is about, the very meaning of our lives. Yes it was like me to miss the one and only day of school that was invaluable. THE JOKE WAS ON ME. BUT YOU KNOW, THERE ARE WORSE THINGS IN LIFE THAN BEING THE PUNCHLINE. LIKE BEING A HUMAN PUNCHING BAG! There are so many souls out there with self esteem issues, and as inscrutable as I was and still sometimes am, that fortunately was not one of my problems. Rather you might say my problem was quite the opposite, I had such a large self assured ego that when the kite string began to unravel, I wasn't ready for any of the self searching/ questioning going on, and couldn't understand why others weren't all that shocked I was falling apart in front of all their beady little eyes. Thus it was a still secret, but often silently thanked individual who came along and called me on my own terms. She may have well as bonked me over the head with a sledge hammer, but it took that much to get her message: trust yourself, and pick yourself up because damn it, no one else should have that responsibility, and more importantly, no one else can carry that load. Some may say it is a bit selfish when you are reaching out to someone that they decide to let go, but sometimes it is exactly what you need. And no one believed in me quite so strongly. Self confidence ain't necessarily the same thing as self belief, but they are at the least distant cousins. Once you learn how to believe that the mind's eye is the vision you should be following, and following alone, that is when you begin to show signs of self confidence and that is when others begin to acknowledge that and trust your judgment, tainted as it may or may not be. The little outer environmental successes lead to stepping stone sized strokes to that all important inner voice. Once you decide to take that HUGE step, the one that comes from trusting yourself, and believing you have the ONLY voice that should be listened to without question, is when others begin to see you in different shades of light. BUT DON'T GET COCKY KID! Your voice is your voice alone and as much as it pays to share it, no one else can really listen to it without hearing all those others that may or may not lead them astray. You call her up not when you need her but when you want to. Hers is a voice that sings to you and you listen not because she knows what is right or wrong, but because hers is a voice that knows what you know. You got to remember how to forgive as well as you remember to forget. Being lucky has nothing to do with being blessed. SHREDDED COASTERS. The old isolated predictions ring like a bell, but you know? IT DON'T MATTER. It was all in French.

Monday, October 9, 1995

Second Hand News

On a brisk fall morning, car pooling with a certain influential individual, the usual quiet of the shared space hung heavy in the air, when I made the declaration that the most powerful man in America was not then President Bush, but the king of prime time television, Bill Cosby. As was her nature, she jumped all over me and called me on the outrageousness of my statement.

My point was not to provoke the wrath of my car pooling partner. I would be the first to admit politicians set the agenda, they make the laws and determine what topics are to be addressed. Since they also determine where money is to be spent, they do hold power that many people don't examine. But people these days hold so much cynicism towards the system and believe that there exists in the political arenas so much corruption, that they believe solutions are inevitably tainted and nothing important actually gets done. People thus tend to tune all this out and discount it, but every night they do go home and watch lots and lots of television. Our current discussions don't deal so much with the incredible historical changes Congress is proposing for the welfare system, but rather the latest episode of Friends. Television creates for its viewers surrogate feelings they no longer get from their day to day lives. What can possibly be more powerful than that?

I was wrong in my declaration however. I wasn't mistaken in identifying the forum of where true power exists, I was wrong in picking the proper area of the entertainment world. Prime time television sends undeniable political messages, but the real filter in which people's thoughts and feelings are formed is born in the newsrooms across America.

Back in the days when I was studying journalism as a possible profession, I used to go out to cover a story and inevitably a feeling of fear would well up inside. I would go and witness an event, interview some people, jot down some notes and head back to my typewriter where I would try to come up with a story. And a story it felt like- I always felt like I was fakin' it and what I was putting down on paper wasn't exactly what really happened, or my own personal bias colored the true important message of the story. I was trying to make sense out of what made no sense. And when I would read the end result the next day in a publication, I always wondered if others believed what I wrote to be the truth.

The amazing thing to me is people either have no idea, or don't care that all the news they get is being influenced by the ears and eyes of the reporter. We tend not to question what we read or hear if it comes from a credible news source simply because that's what news is and has always been in this country. One reporter may go to a city council meeting, listen to all the agenda items and lead with a small bit of information that came about at the very end of a minor discussion. Another reporter may attend the same meeting and pick something entirely different for the lead and the emphasis of the story. Both reporters may or may not have been oblivious to what the council members, or the attending public thought was the most important thing that happened that evening.

Covering a news story is not easy because life's events most of the time don't exactly qualify as stories. We don't often enjoy the luxury of knowing when there is a beginning, when the climax of the story occurs or when the actual end happens so we can gleam the meaning of the entire episode. Chaos is more often the norm, and bits and pieces of common and diverse elements make up our lives. It is too easy to fall into the trap of looking for greater meanings that often don't exist. Things don't always happen for a reason, sometimes they just happen. There is a danger in attaching all encompassing lessons to what we read and hear about through the news without thinking for ourselves what biases may or may not exist. There are far too many who think they know what's going on because they heard it on the news.

The most disturbing lesson on display from this past week was not so much that our country's justice system does not work; or that the abuse of power is as frightening as the abuse of money; or that there are deepening rifts existing between races; nope the overwhelming message emphasized was that in our current culture, the way people assimilate information is through a filter of second hand knowledge learned through the incredible influence of the media.

Sunday, October 1, 1995

Good as I've Bean to You

Dans un reve je regarde dans un miroir et ne vois pas ma reflexion mais un visage d'un etranger. Et en tant que lui me continue se voient se trouver. Se situer dans un lit legerement eleve avec une lumiere solitaire simple juste au-dessus de la tete du lit. Périodiquement une femme a habille tous dans le blanc ouvre la porte et signe juste pour voir si je suis toujours la. Et la majeure partie du temps je suis. Et alors je réveiller et penser où je dix année il y a et comment étroit et loin parti qui sembler et ce point je connaître là aucun tourner dos tel que mon cerveau non arrêter et sommeil échapper pour repos nuit juste comme alors. Il n'y a rien tout à fait si effrayant en tant que commande perdante de votre esprit. Dans bon trame esprit je rendre compte comment je pouvoir jamais pouvoir pour oublier que temps et tout qui amener, mais en même temps je devoir jamais oublier combien je avoir accomplir depuis et à quel point chanceux je pour où je considérer où je. Vous ne vous rendez pas compte vraiment que non seulement à quelle distance vous pouvez tomber mais comment rapide qui la chute peut être. Et une fois que vous êtes tombés que loin l'élever en arrière est déchiqueté et difficile et vous vous trouvez mettre tellement l'énergie en faisant quelque chose que vous aviez l'habitude de prendre pour accordé. Je souvent sentir comme tout ces année il y a je atteindre proverbial fourchette dans route et voie d'accès je choisir pour suivre faux un et je devenir désespéré perdu essayer pour trouver mon voie dos et I quelque point juste devoir recevoir que je jamais trouver que autre voie d'accès encore mais jusqu' pour faire meilleur hors voie d'accès je maintenant en fonction et surtout d'autre mouvement en avant et non en arrière. Il était très difficile, et extrêmement pénible que de venir au point où j'ai dû prendre cette décision si j'ai même voulu continuer. Et réaliser alors la seule voie que je pourrais continuer était de découper mon passé et d'essayer et commencer encore une fois. Cette philosophie a signifié l'essai encore mais dans une voie prudente. La coupure I toutes mes amitiés passées sachant j'ai dû seul aller à la trouvaille moi-même. J'ai obtenu un travail mais un qui n'importeraient pas tout que beaucoup si je ne pourrais pas l'entailler et ne le détruisais pas par la suite. J'ai entré jour après jour et ai délibérément fait le mon mieux à juste fais les tâches professionnelles bien et pas ai laissé n'importe lequel de lui matière et ne pas atteindre tous avec émotion attaché à tout ce qui continuait autour de moi. Et j'ai réussi. C'était à ce point que j'ai découvert la réponse à un des questions qui se sont attardé. J'étais venu pour me demander si l'intérieur de douleur une question du sentiment trop ou ne se sentait pas du tout. Par les tâches menial il est apparu clairement qu'un des raisons que je pourrais prendre que le pas en avant est pour la première fois dans un moment le sentiment du sentiment trop et de ce fait le grillage et ne pas se sentir du tout sont partis. J'étais engourdi mais c'était un bon genre d'engourdi. Et la clé devait faire ce pas en avant. Une fois que cela se produisait d'autres éléments de ma vie ont commencé à réapparaître. J'étais amoureux. J'ai développé la meilleure amitié que j'ai jamais eue. J'ai trouvé ma voix et mon écriture est devenue plus comme elle était avant. Je suis devenu navré mais il était bon d'une voie de voir que mon coeur était toujours là et pourrait la prendre. Je me suis déplacé en fonction de ce travail à un qui m'a donné davantage d'un défi et de plus d'une récompense. Une partie du passé ne m'a pas tout à fait hanté de la même manière qu'elle a eu avant. J'ai progressé jusqu'ici cela le printemps dernier à ma réunion I d'université de dix ans trouvé admettant à un classmate (tout à fait par surprise) que j'étais plus heureux puis que j'avais eu lieu dans tout à fait un moment. Mais il est comme une fois que vous admettez que vous vous êtes maudits. Et les choses rapidement ont démêlé encore. Et je la trouvaille moi-même dans un endroit où je ne me pense pas jamais ai maintenant été tout à fait ceci malheureux avant. N'est pas étant enfoncé une question d'être juste triste. C'est une question de ne pouvoir pas sentir n'importe quel type de joie. C'est différent. Je sais que j'ai détruit quelque chose ici que je n'ai pas voulu détruire. Je me sens perdu à ce que faire et effrayé que la confusion me mènera à cet endroit j'étais et avoir vécu dans la crainte de depuis. La sortie de l'obscurité ne devait pas s'attendre à quelque chose de d'autres. Plutôt elle devait trouver la voie à l'élasticité de me encore. Cette dernière amitié a signifié cela à moi. Il s'est senti bon d'être le type d'ami que j'étais pour elle. Dans le retour elle a renvoyé l'élément de l'amusement dans ma vie encore. Elle était comme tourner en arrière l'horloge. J'ai dépensé tellement le temps et l'énergie par le voyage essayant à la trouvaille moimême; maintenant je me sens comme je trouvais cet individu et n'aime plus cette personne. L'amitié a offert tellement des possibilités intéressantes et tellement aller plus loin pourtant j'étais heureux à à où nous étions. Maintenant elle est allée et le trou est mesurablement plus grand. J'appuie sur mais je sens plus que détruit. J'essaye de voir que ce n'est pas identique, ce ceci est juste un de pertes décevantes inévitables de la vie. Mais l'équilibre est allé et j'ai frappé le dur moulu encore. Je puis seulement espérer que la terre est un bit plus plein cette fois autour. Je ne veux pas tomber cela loin toujours encore. Et bien que le weariness vienne et alarmes que je veux juste apprécier tous j'ai parce que je sais où j'ai été. Quelque chose de précieux et rare, disparaît en air mince et il semble si injuste