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Friday, June 19, 2015

Bringing it back home.

What do you mean the broken-down car has broken down? How much more of a heap could it possibly be? Okay, okay ... we'll call the hook. No, not CAPTAIN Hook. Unless he's opened a towing business in his dotage. Seems unlikely.

Our audience is a little hard to reachWell, as you can see, the bottom is falling out of Big Green, economically speaking. Nothing new, right? As a class, musicians tend to be monetarily challenged, let's say. Doing music for a living is tantamount to perpetual unemployment, interrupted by occasional contract work. And when you're a plainclothes band, the gig money sucks. Usually you get a percentage of the door. If you're more well known, they might give you the WHOLE door. And if you draw a good crowd, they might even throw in a window as well.

Now, when you play mostly original music, like we do, that's an even bigger problem. Nobody knows the songs, for one thing ... when you're not famous, that is. Even worse, the audience starts requesting songs by the Scorps, or Stairway to Heaven, or maybe Beethoven's Ninth. (That last one is hard to pull off with a four-piece rock group. Especially the vocals!) Before you know it, you're walking out of that dump with your tail between your legs, your pride in the toilet, and your self-respect on a slow boat to Madagascar. You've been there - don't deny it!

Now, we've tried to adapt to this harsh reality. Playing for plants and trees. Booking jobs in outer space. (Once you've solved the transportation problems, it's easier than it sounds.) Making sandwiches instead of music (it CAN be done). But there's only so much you can do to alleviate the pain of independent music. Nobody knows the trouble we've seen. Nobody know but ... I don't know ... Weezer? Cue the violins.

Okay, enough about me. Let's talk technique here. Unlike a lot of interstellar circuit groups, we play our instruments with hands. Not pseudopods. Not antennae. Not mind waves. That makes us more of a curiosity in venues on Neptune. That helps the door take a little. So ... keep playing Neptune, right?

Ban the bullet.

What is there to say about the Charleston shooting? Another three-foot creep with a four-foot gun. That's the long of it. I notice most of what's being talked about is this generic "pure" hatred, evil, etc. Most of the television commentators have been avoiding the "R" word. Hey, folks ... it's called racism. Combine a racist history with a birthday gun, and you've got the recipe for Charleston. School friends talk about racist jokes that nobody took seriously. He wore flag patches on his jacket for both Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa, Confederate flag license plates. No particular concern? We shall see.

Victim of racism. Say it, people.The sad fact is, racism is a default position in white society, south and north. I grew up in white society, and I have been surrounded by racism my entire life, at various levels of severity. I am certain that, had it not been for the guiding efforts of my mother and my older siblings, I might well have ended up as racist as some of my neighbors. It was, in many ways, the path of least resistance in '60s middle America. And to this day, when I'm in a room with just white people, racism will occasionally join us in the form of a comment, a joke, etc.

So ... that's a thing. Then there's the gun culture. The birthday pistol. How you can sell a pistol to someone who advocates race war is beyond me. As much as we have to examine our tendency to look upon black Americans as the "other", we also have to ponder our devotion to uncle bang-bang. And yes, we're very unlikely to do anything to slow down the proliferation of firearms. But there is one thing we can do without violating the extremist notion of the 2nd Amendment: ban bullets! You can have all the guns you want, but no freaking bullets. Guns don't kill people ... bullets do. Or adopt Chris Rock's idea - make bullets cost $5,000 each. That might slow down the Jared Lee Loughners of the world.

Again - these are hard problems. That doesn't mean we can't do anything about them. If we are appalled by Charleston, it is incumbent upon us to act. And soon.

luv u,

jp