January 2nd, 2005.

So many non-entries for soo long.

DCF 1.0
In Strasburg at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, Bob gave me pretty in-depth education on how to run a locomotive. There's a whole lot of knob turning and lever pulling. Not much button pushing. A lot of shovelling. Seems a LOT more satisfying than most dayjobs.
In Strasburg at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, Bob gave me pretty in-depth education on how to run a locomotive. There’s a whole lot of knob turning and lever pulling. Not much button pushing. A lot of shovelling. Seems a LOT more satisfying than most dayjobs.

Hell, it’s been Christmas. What a funny sentance that is.

Many adventures. Most of Christmas/Hannukah was spent with Heather’s family, extended and otherwise (sorry Mara, you’re Otherwise – though that would be kind of cool codename for you…. cause it also works as a threat… “You do what I say… Otherwise” – and then you come into the room and go all David on their ass… so maybe just David should be Otherwise… hrm… I’m going to get in trouble over this sentiment anywho). I met some fish and babies.

Hehe. Nowadays we go to Hell five times faster.
Hehe. Nowadays we go to Hell five times faster.

I forgot to drop my parents at the airport, but I did remember to pick them up, so that’s ok. There was cat-catching drama, and there were nights of mirth with Firedean. I got the Extended Lord of the Rings DVD trilogy for Christmas and am looking forward to spending about fifty hours straight watching ALL of it. I’ve watched a LOT of Friends. Tried to watch a lot of James Bond, but his mystique just isn’t what it was, and listened to the soundtrack instead.

We barely beat the snow back to Owings Mills. A LOT of snow. We missed some six inches of snow in Connecticut by about 24 hours. Thank goodness we skipped that open mic in Marion, PA.
We barely beat the snow back to Owings Mills. A LOT of snow. We missed some six inches of snow in Connecticut by about 24 hours. Thank goodness we skipped that open mic in Marion, PA.

We had an awesome Magic: the Gathering night last Thursday. Richard came over and made INCREDIBLE chicken parmesan – savoury, lucious, moist, dripping, curving, cunningly Lovely…. sinful… // ahem, and we combined that with the typically poor gamer fare of chips and salsa and chips and dips and chips and cheese and a bit of hummus. I won perhaps more than I lost, I think. But a couple of the losses were truly painful. I feel that I handed out more ass than I recieved, but it was a rough night, and I was sore by the time we went our separate ways.

Happy New Year's!
Happy Holidays!

It was a good burn. So good.

So, rather abruptly, this brings us to New Year’s Eve: Gwen threw a cocktail party, and Heather and I got all dressed up, shockingly clean and stunningly pretty, and took our finery out on the the town. Charm City stepped aside to admire our passage.

It was kind of fun to dress up, come downstairs, tell Mara to close her eyes – let her open them and, with Heather on my arm, use my Suave (pronounced “Swayvay”) voice to say “Yes, we’re ilyAIMY”. Gwen’s party was home to cool little presents, scorpions, a very odd gift exchange that began with an intense battle over “the Breakfast Club” and apparently ended with Heather recieving naked pictures of famous people. LJ made some announcements, but so as to not steal her thunder, I’ll not mention them here…

Heather and I cleaning up good for New Year's Eve.
Heather and I cleaning up good for New Year’s Eve.

And speaking of LJ – the first word of 2005 was “Fuck” and this immediately proceeded the launch of a champagne cork into the television, a ricochet, and ultimately a VERY nice catch by Brennan. I was impressed by his seemingly inhuman reflexes. I now believe he MIGHT be a mandroid. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve suspected this.

And that leads us less abruptly to What I Did Last Night…

PLOJ XXXI's spread. As usual, Mara's cookie cake stuff was a hit, as well as Brennan's caesar salad. Weirdly, my taboule went fast than his chicken, though.
PLOJ XXXI’s spread. As usual, Mara’s cookie cake stuff was a hit, as well as Brennan’s caesar salad. Weirdly, my taboule went fast than his chicken, though.
Chelsea and Beau didn't make it up, but Chelsea's parents did - we also had a clarinet player named Martin who found us through a write-up in the City Paper.
Chelsea and Beau didn’t make it up, but Chelsea’s parents did – we also had a clarinet player named Martin who found us through a write-up in the City Paper.

PLOJ XXXI – as always, I was freaking out pre-PLOJ. I am paranoid, and get really depressed, and my usual fear is that like… 20 new people will show up over the course of the night, but really spread out, and that NO REGULARS show up so that there’s nothing for the new people to see. I always have these nightmarish visions of empty rooms and disappointed, perhaps even disgusted faces.

A PLOJ first - Art brought a theramin!
A PLOJ first – Art brought a theramin!
An interesting side-effect of the night. As the evening wore on, our ages got a bit more homogenous until it was all just us 20-somethings. From there, there was nothing to pull us back from Gen-X 90's sing-alongs. Madonna, Tool, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, Four Non-Blondes. Never had THAT at a PLOJ before - I mean, one or two tunes, yes - but always someone would get fed up with it and bring it back. We went for HOURS like this.
An interesting side-effect of the night. As the evening wore on, our ages got a bit more homogenous until it was all just us 20-somethings. From there, there was nothing to pull us back from Gen-X 90’s sing-alongs. Madonna, Tool, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Sublime, Four Non-Blondes. Never had THAT at a PLOJ before – I mean, one or two tunes, yes – but always someone would get fed up with it and bring it back. We went for HOURS like this.

PLOJ XXXI was the 6th Year Anniversary of our Pot Luck Open Jams, and it goes down in PLOJ history as one of the best.

It was a rough start. I think Brennan and I have a slight disconnect on start time. I tell people that it starts at 6.30 or so – and Brennan tells people that things get rolling a little later. Now – Brennan’s theory is obviously that people shouldn’t be invited to get there until things are actually happening. My theory is that we’re inviting musicians, and that musicians are always late. Often REALLY late, and so I’ve brought my usual method of dealing with lateness to PLOJ and tell every one that it starts about two hours before I actually expect them.

And often, in fits of honesty, I ALSO mention that “things don’t actually get rolling till nine”.

Ah, foolish, foolish rob.

Wanda has come a long way. She seems not to have aged at all since I first met her back at Phantasmagoria with Strength in Hare. She's always almost viscerally struck me, but now she's really coming along with guitar. I remembered G chords and a sweet, quiet voice. However, she's picked up some vicious songs since then, and even led us in Soundgarden's "Spoonman". I was sorry that Jason missed THAT. He would've died. He might have even shot his friend in Pennsylvania.
Wanda has come a long way. She seems not to have aged at all since I first met her back at Phantasmagoria with Strength in Hare. She’s always almost viscerally struck me, but now she’s really coming along with guitar. I remembered G chords and a sweet, quiet voice. However, she’s picked up some vicious songs since then, and even led us in Soundgarden’s “Spoonman”. I was sorry that Jason missed THAT. He would’ve died. He might have even shot his friend in Pennsylvania.
I didn't catch his name - Chelsea's father, Chuck, brought him along - a guitarist from Mali!
I didn’t catch his name – Chelsea’s father, Chuck, brought him along – a guitarist from Mali!

This, of course, leads to a lot of lead time where me and a couple of other friends are sitting around, wondering if ANYONE is going to come. I mean, that gave me extra time to and help Tori with the cookies, and to sit outside and think about the error of my ways, and to flirt with people I didn’t know, but all in all – I stress myself over PLOJ far too much. And invariably, people show up, have a great time, and prove my fears foolish.

The night began with only a couple of musicians – Brennan and I and Tim and Rowan. I consider “critical mass” (start-point of PLOJ) to be when you’ve got four singer/songwriters there to go around. And Tim, though a consummate musician, isn’t really a solo performer, so I was REALLY nervous about starting, but … it was like 8pm or so, and something HAD to happen. And so I kicked off the night with “Rob’s Lament”, figuring there was no better way to start the night with a song about a car wreck that could turn into a train wreck since I didn’t know it very well. Slowly, things fired up – and PLOJ XXXI slowly grew into one of the best, and one of the most unique PLOJes ever, methinks.

One of the side-effects of the sing-along atmosphere of much of the night was that a lot of people who might have been merely audience members on most nights were encouraged to join in. I think this was Bunny's first time ever playing a drum... Dave Smith (above) has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of random songs and played just about anything anyone could think of. We narrowly avoided getting all the way through "Walk Like an Egyptian".
One of the side-effects of the sing-along atmosphere of much of the night was that a lot of people who might have been merely audience members on most nights were encouraged to join in. I think this was Bunny’s first time ever playing a drum… Dave Smith (above) has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of random songs and played just about anything anyone could think of. We narrowly avoided getting all the way through “Walk Like an Egyptian”.
DCF 1.0

The last couple of Pot Lucks have been ending by 1am, and I’ve sort of missed the real late-night Pot Lucks that just go on forever. It’s one of the things I truly miss about Living in Edgewater and having the PLOJs out there – not having to go home. Just playing until you’re exhausted and not giving a FUCK about what time it is. Last night was like that. And sure enough, I was shocked to look at the clock and see that it was 2.30am. It felt like 11 or something – and we went well past 3.

By the time we actually quit, I was exhausted, Brennan was sort of like the walking dead, and Heather just sort of collapsed.

The next morning (and by morning I mean noon) Tim popped by – he and Dave Smith had been absolute bad-asses the night before – Tim played on EVERYTHING, swapping between his Guild and the various basses that were floating around. I just stand amazed, watching him play. Somewhere he just exploded into being a guitar virtuoso – I guess he just hears the music in his head, and knows exactly how to put what’s in his head down on the fretboard. I could take lessons from him and be kind of blissfully happy – if I could keep up. Dave Smith was busy being pretty amazing too.

Januray 3rd, 2005.

So – I can’t imagine my future being too different from my present. Not my immediate future, anywho. When I visualize where I’m going in the world, I imagine making a little bit more money, travelling a little bit further, having a little bit bigger audiences. But I imagine still making Journal entries, and still playing open mics, and still wondering which brand of strings I should buy.

 

It’s in that visualization of my future that I imagine the Journal stretching for years, getting bigger and bigger – and the realization of how things will change. Venues will close and people will die.

I’m watching as I move the images from the last year to a big folder called simply, 2004. The names of the pictures flash by, and there are memories attached to each one – HeatherAndPookie.jpg reminds me that Pookie was struck by a car and killed not too many months ago. I wonder if I have other images of creatures and people lost. That’s a side effect of having such a transient Lifestyle, I suppose. We’ll come back to familiar towns and tiny things will change. You know – tiny things like Lives.

Just finished watching Big Fish again. That movie fills my mind with fanciful beauty, and it hurts my heart.

Up to Schitt. Almost done.

Good.

January 6th, 2005.

Brennan at College Perk.
Brennan at College Perk.

So, Tuesday night we played the College Perk, and had a grand ole time, and then to punish ourselves for having such a good time, we vowed to play a NEW open mic as well.

It turned out not to be a punishment – we checked out the Wydeye Cafe in Fells Point, Baltimore last night and found a new little haven of good people and good music. We’d actually encountered a bunch of the guys before at the Carriage House, and the SOWEBO festival – artsy venues that attract artsy people, and once we came in out of the rain, you could see how Wydeye fit into the pattern.

January 7th, 2005.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

In one of my senior years at the Maryland Institute College of Art, I took a course called “Cities in the 90’s”. The class was a really cool concept – part of the illustration department, but focused mostly on social awareness and writing/reading about it. The teachers were Chris Shipley from the English department, Ken Krafchek from the illustration department… and some woman that I don’t remember the name of. I don’t believe she was so much a teacher as a social activist who “had the ear of the mayor” and who was involved in re-zoning projects, public works, building of libraries, public housing… that sort of thing.

We would take lots of field trips into the edges of the Baltimore projects – once into a factory which built electrical insulators for high power lines to see the working conditions, and once, most memorably, to Cherry Hill.

Cherry Hill is a rundown portion of Southern Baltimore which has a pretty nasty reputation, mostly received because it’s one of the poorest sections of the City, with a high number of local people receiving subsidies from the government for housing.

The trip to Cherry Hill (it’s funny not to capitalize the “t”) was interesting. First we wandered through a church through which whatshername organized most of efforts. She was a queen among them, and I remember lots of things named after her, and a lot of “this project, built in 19xx, would of course have been impossible without my help”… Her current Good Work was to rip down a local Cherry Hill strip mall to replace it with a library. Unfortunately, a bunch of the locals had been organizing at some OTHER church to block her, working zoning restrictions to block the construction of this holiest of projects, bringing education and books to the Projects…

After getting a lengthy discourse on how wonderful whatshername was, and what she’d done for the city, and the shining faces of the poor, downtrodden blacks that helped her help them, it was time to get back to the Light Rail for the short trip to OUR side of the city…

Well, I was in this class with Little Michael (note… not Rover Mike, who was bigger) – and Michael was not the most outgoing of people. He was quiet, reserved, and not really very social. At one point, I noticed that he’d wandered away from the group, and I wandered off to hunt him. I found him at the aforementioned strip mall in an old barber shop, talking to people he didn’t know! His disbelief of Whatshername had driven him to go talk to the locals and get the real scoop about why they were blocking books and education from their own community.

And their story was very different from the one previously painted. Whatshername talked about how it was local business owners worried about losing their stores and shops… but it was more than that. It was also the employees who had no other place to go for a paycheck (except the drug dealers) and the people who purchased food, and lightbulbs, and haircuts (and drugdealers won’t cut your hair) – this was the centre of the community, the one thing that people who’s Lives are subsidized by the government actually own, can actually grasp, can actually build upon – and they didn’t see much use replacing it with books.

Neither did I, after talking to them.

Whatshername knew better of course, and explained to us how the locals didn’t really know what was best for them, and that was why she’d rerouted another local building project through the church where the opposition had been meeting. She laughed about that. I wrote Bulldozer. We all wrote letters, and then being college students, it lost our attention…

So – why the Hell am I telling this story?

This is from today’s Baltimore Sun:

Judge criticizes pooling poor in city
Court says HUD violated housing law by failing to take a regional approach; Ruling in 1995 federal civil-rights lawsuit 
By Eric Siegel | Sun Staff | Originally published January 7, 2005

Declaring that Baltimore “should not be viewed as an island reservation for use as a container” for all of the area’s poor, a federal judge ruled yesterday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development violated fair housing law by failing to take a regional approach to the desegregation of public housing.

In a lengthy and strongly worded decision in a 10-year-old civil rights case that shone a spotlight on the city’s racial as well as housing history, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis said HUD officials had been “effectively wearing blinders” that kept them from looking beyond Baltimore for ways to disperse the concentration of public housing residents.

Awesome – good thing. Spread the Projects around, so as to properly reintegrate people into more affluent portions of the community. Spreading the burden, and putting them in places where they can see HOPE. Also, other cultures, etc etc etc. I’m a strong believe in desegregation. You read further and a lot of this is based on a decision in Chicago which lead to people being given vouchers to Live in the suburbs.

So, that sounds pretty good… but so did Whatshername’s thinking. But they both are doing a “I know better than you” thing, not listening to what the communities need, and NOT thinking things through… There’s a whole lot more to the problem than just smearing it around so it gets thinner.

In another Baltimore Sun article titled Tenants, Counties Wary About Ruling by Laura Vozzella:

Anna Warren lives in the kind of poor, mostly black Baltimore public housing that a federal judge yesterday found unfair and maybe unconstitutional.

But if the U.S District Judge Marvin J. Garbis’ ruling eventually amounts to a ticket to the subirbs for city public housing tenants, Warren, for one, isn’t interested.

The article goes on to ask important questions that are often overlooked in decisions like this. All these people are moved – but not all of them are just Living off of their subsidies – and many of those subsidies are reliant on those people holding on to certain conditions, or jobs. Jobs that they will be moved away from . Public transportation, clinics, social supports that they will be moved away from. Will they be provided with the cars that people need to survive in the suburbs? Or are they separated and dispersed like a mob so that they can be more easily dealt with?

So, that’s my worry today. It’s like going to a bunch of people clustered in the desert, taking a look at their local oasis and saying that the water’s unclean, not fit for human consumption aaand your camels aren’t being maintained. We’re going to make it illegal for you to drink that, and difficult for you to ride the other… that makes a good deal of sense until you run yourself against the difficult fact that there isn’t a real-world alternative.

Sigh.

January 14th, 2005.

I’m tired of the aftermath of this stupid car crash. Yeah, the one from last May. Claims adjusters who swear that they’ll call on Monday and then turn out to be on vacation. Lawsuits from hospitals. Insurance companies who swear they’re ready to settle and then SWITCH claims adjusters and explain that that starts the process all over again. It’s absolute bullshit.

I’m so tired of it, and I suppose that that’s what they’re counting on. The hopes that us mere mortals won’t have the stamina of the big bad insurance company, and that we’ll slowly fade from view. And now we find out that the insurance adjuster that everyone’s been trying to get in touch with all week has been on vacation the whole time and will be until the 17th. However, the messaging service hasn’t felt that that information needed to be dispersed until today.

On the other hand, Heather’s doing an awesome job with bookings. She’s been really working North Carolina. It’s awesome to see her light up when something goes right. Maybe I’ll make my car insurance bill yet!

January 16th, 2005.

Not at this rate though…

And so I return home fighting back the urge to cry. It was our last show at the Vault, but that’s perhaps not why I was depressed. The sound was just… horrific. I don’t want to go into specifics simply because I Love Jack and Scott so much. The people there are soooo nice, but we just can’t afford to go somewhere and have the sound system make us sound like a wall of distorted cat flatulence. Really.

The good thing of the night was that Jack let us into the basement, and Justin did band photos. Gorgeous band photos. Expect to see them in our next runs of posters and postcards. They’re going to be awwwesome.

Sigh. But in the meantime. Television and sleep. Tomorrow Lord of the Rings. I just don’t want to think about the show.

January 17th, 2005.

Tired, unable to sleep. Uninterested in sleep. Heather and I have been on this stupid schedule for so long – 5am is when I get interested in bed – that it’s just hard to contemplate heading up earlier. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to go to sleep.

We had a bunch of people over tonight – just to hang out and watch the Lord of the Rings. We “only” got through the first two movies, but had an awesome time. I miss Living at the Mirkwood House in Kensington and having big movie parties. Not really as much of an option when you don’t have your own place – but I crave it. I Loved the fact that we just hung out for a couple of hours. The “party” started at noon and we didn’t watch a thing till about 3. Just a really good feeling – and a chance to bond with a couple of people that I haven’t had much of a chance to bond with.

Chris and Joylene (of the Chris and Joylene Show) and Jeff and his wife (of Symbiont – “his wife” simply because she’s not in the band and therefore not quite in the public eye and I KNOW I put plenty of names in here that aren’t but they’re closer into the ilyAIMY circle and… whatever…) showed, and I was slightly weirded out by the fact that the majority of the night was spent with a majority of married people.

The Marrieds.

How odd.

Later that same day… 
Ok, Heather and I have GOT to get back on a human sleep schedule. Went to bed at 7am and got up at 2pm. I guess we’re both just a bit panicky about money at the moment. There’s some cool things on the horizon, but there are bills much closer. Wondering if this summer will be the summer of hedonistic festival going, and then this Fall we’ll both go get day jobs for a couple of months. I don’t really want to do that.

Working on the artwork for Myxomatosis Took Its Toll. Heather drew him. I skinned him.
Working on the artwork for Myxomatosis Took Its Toll. Heather drew him. I skinned him.

Last night I read a movie review for something called “Sideways”. Something about wine-tasting that looked very much NOT to be my taste. There is a point to this despite that – the leading character is called a “failed writer”. I started thinking about that term – wondering when you go from calling yourself a “writer”, waiting for your break, waiting for that letter that says your work will be printed to accepting the title “failed writer”. If Heather or I ever quit for a moment, does that make us “failed musicians”? Or for that matter, does that make me a “failed artist” or Heather a “failed journalist”?

I’ve heard the term “failed writer” before, and I don’t think I’d ever given it too much thought – and for good reason – it seems to be a term that doesn’t really mean anything. If the person still writes, than they’re still a writer… and if they’ve gone on to soemthing else, they’ve gone on to something else.

So odd…. so tired. Where’s our management? I just want someone else to take over somedays. Most days.

Heather fixing her hair.
Heather fixing her hair.
DCF 1.0

Heather and I have an interesting work rhythm. Sometimes I’m the really productive one, never setting things down, constantly thinking, constantly doing this, that or the other – and sometimes it’s Heather. At the moment it’s Heather. It seems rare that we’re both in that zone at the same time. Things have just sort of settled that way.

ilyAIMY at College Perk.
The Dreamscapes Project at College Perk. More accurately: Of the Dreamscapes Project: Keith's hair and sitting in WITH the Dreamscapes Project, hand drummer extraordinaire, Phil.
The Dreamscapes Project at College Perk. More accurately: Of the Dreamscapes Project: Keith’s hair and sitting in WITH the Dreamscapes Project, hand drummer extraordinaire, Phil.
ilyAIMY at the Vault.
ilyAIMY at the Vault.
My night at the Vault.
My night at the Vault.
My night at the Vault.
My night at the Vault.

January 21st, 2005.

I actually had this intense heart-ache last night. I remember that sensation, source of so many songs. But this was something different.

Rowan and Sharif and Brennan and I had a sort of “guy’s night” watching cartoons, and it inspired something in me, slowly growing – I really, really miss Living with Rowan. I just miss having his company around – watching Angel together, or most specifically, his laugh while watching Adult Swim. Sigh.

Sigh.

But at least we got this out of it. Justin did excellent, excellent promotional shots in the basement of the Vault.

January 22, 2005.

This made us worry about what happens in that Vault basement band room.

I’ve been quiet because I’ve been panicked. And when I get to freaking out, I feel like I’m not going to say much of anything productive or fun for anyone to read. But today I am okay. I will make the bills this month, and the car settlement is about to finally come through.

It’s been almost nine months … it will be nine by the time we see any money. I will scrape out just enough to get an equivalent sort of car back. This makes me ecstatic. I have been dying to have a place of my own (even if it’s kinda like a very small house trailer on 18″ wheels), and to feel more independent. Having to borrow a car and living with my parents … I don’t even think I need to explain how that can feel.

We had a very excellent couple of days. In addition to the news about the settlement, I was able to snag a couple more paying and feeding North Carolina gigs, some media attention, and even a last-minute local gig to send us off with a little pocket money.

The gig: Java Mamma’s in Reisterstown, MD, is the kind of coffee shop that the area has been begging for. It’s about two miles away from my parents’ house, in an area where nothing is open past about 9 p.m., unless you hit the diner that’s open 24 hours on the weekend. In high school, we all used to frequent the coffee shop that was part of the Kinko’s in the Pepto bis-MALL (a pink shopping center). Because Kinko’s was open late, the coffee shop stayed open till 2 a.m. There was art on the walls, but the place was still this weird hybrid of artsy coffee shop and flurescent copy center. Still, it was ours and we loved it, and all our friends worked there, and it was right across the street from the movie theatre. We went there after school plays, we went there after movies, we went there when there was nowhere else we wanted to go or we were just too young to go anywhere else. It was the site of big announcements. It was the first place I saw what a freshly stiched wrist looked liked after it had been slit, where I resolved with a runaway friend, where I pretended not to have a crush on the coffee guy because my best friend did too, where I first heard the names Burroughs and Ginsberg, and where I took new boyfriends for approval.

A lot of people from smallish towns have similar stories with insert-Denny’s-in-place-of-the-word-coffee-shop-here because it was the thing open late.

Anyway, like a little art-ectomy, the coffee shop part closed a little before the Kinko’s moved to another location and became all and only sterile copy center.

And that was about it in our town. Most of us didn’t go into Baltimore City much. Working for The Sun and gigging with ilyAIMY were the things that led me into the city. There weren’t other coffee shops, and NOTHING was open late.

So tonight was lovely. It was full of high school kids and college students still home on break. And it reminded me of my old kinko’s coffee shop.

So congratulations and the best of luck to this place. We’ll be back February 26.