An Email To A Friend Subsequent To Exiting Facebook, With Extensions And Improvements By The Author
Where The Hell Have You Been?
Yeah, I'm long gone from FacePlant — too many shenanigans and News You Can't Refuse that I want no part of or connection with. Gonna be dropping Youtube as well for similar reasons. Undoubtedly deleterious to my Fabulous Career but oh well. They can undoubtedly seduce disaffected outliers into raving fascism just fine without my assistance, but at least I won't be around to watch. Look for me soon in an email near you.
I've been out of the Gazette business for a while, but I'm about to get back in. One serious motivator is that I got diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the end of June.
Yeah. Full stop.
PD, in some respects, is the Kinder Gentler Crippling Disability. It doesn't so much knock you down and gut you as eat you very very slowly like the boa constrictor in Shel Silverstein's song ("oh no, he's eaten my toe, oh me, he's up to my knee..."), but without bothering to inform you in advance what it intends to devour, or how quickly. Not so very different from being 70 (which I am), when you come to think of it. But whether I'm a long- or short-timer, the timer is ticking. So I'm strongly inspired to reluctantly give up sweet sweet procrastination and get busy doing, well, what I do, but a little more efficiently. When you're self-employed, the boss is always watching. So far I've had pretty good recovery, chowing down vitamin L (-dopa) 4 times a day, exercising with monotonous regularity and waiting hopefully for the trembles to back off. At least I can play trombone again.
Currently my most consistent artistic presence is a 12 year (and counting) residency as a busker with Seattle City Parks. While it's no substitute for a job, it's a steady gig, pays adequately (for my purposes anyway) and has the singular advantage of allowing me to pretty much do what I like within the bounds of music in a public space. I've invested in a complicated electronic music ecology based in an iPad and a highly-modified electric/electronic/digital guitar I call Frankie (short for Frankenstein), with which I play strange and wonderful sound art, a mix of drone, trance, ambient, algorithmic metacomposition and slow but hopefully not too aimless pentatonic noodling, with a few harp and strum songs thrown in and an occasional trombone solo, an act I've dubbed The Visitor. My elevator pitch for it is "the chill room at the spaceport cantina." It's one of those things that almost nobody gets, but those who do really get it. Fortunately, some of the latter include my manager's managers at SCP, which is good for job security. I've engaged in lively conversations with homeless folks about the ins and outs of Terry Riley's work and North Indian classical music and had college students sit down and meditate right along with me. I've also been screamed at and threatened with pepper spray by a battered incorrigible who was obscenely unhappy with my choice of material and only left when driven off by a Parks ranger. Everyone's a critic. I always say, if nobody ever complains about your art, you aren't trying hard enough. Whatevs, it's almost a living.
Apart from that, I also get occasional gigs with the klezmer bands I associate with (hey, Chanukah season is here!), and I've been pursuing a street duo called Snakez Alive! with salamandir, stalwart tuba player with our late lamented band Snake Suspenderz (the drummer died and the uke player moved to Kalamazoo — and yes, that's a song). I play banjitar (six string banjo — play guitar, it comes out dixieland), kazoo and rack harp, and we do old jass and originals. We had a few pretty good weeks at Pike Place this summer, including being hired for their Gala Dinner, before the mask mandate came back and we had to shut down. We'll be back...
You probably saw the perfunctory album release hoopla last summer for my latest concoction, Old Dogs. I had fun and I even sold a few, and I'm only glad I got it made before my Horrible Old Condition started kicking in. Regardless, I'm committed to my perilous lifestyle and fully expect to crank out a few more cantankerous classics before I'm reduced to the status of a jello salad at a church picnic.
I'm still making CDs for other people, too, though I'm pretty sure it's buggywhips all the way down here. That fifteen year window between the advent of home production and the triumph of the streaming services was sure nice while it lasted. As usual, there's real money to be made in the music business, just not for musicians. Ten million (at last count) beautiful losers on social media are screaming like the big bad wolf in Little Red Riding Hood "LISTEN TO ME! LISTEN TO MEEEEEEE!!!" while the chosen few Internet Influencers graciously consent to stoke the coals of their own personal boilers whilst selling ads for the New! Bigger! Badder Than Ever! Man! (or am I just getting old? yes)
My wife's son and special needs granddaughter continue to live with us. I never expected to have kids and this one is simultaneously a major pain and solid joy. She's beautiful, sweet-natured, determined not to let a little thing like a screwed up cerebellum interfere with her life, and 6. Well, you can't have everything. My recent history of living in a Fellini movie directed by David Lynch continues. Wheelie kid is a constant source of gooey inspiration, but at the same time she takes after the rest of us in being snarky as all getout. Her habitual rejoinder when told to do something she resents is "OKAY. FINE." in exactly the tone of sulky offspring you'd expect, and if you dare to answer a question not directed in your direction she's all "I WASN'T TALKING TO YOU!" Okay, spunky, whatever you say.
Hey, I think I just wrote an outline for a Gazette! See ya...
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