January 8th, 2004.

Have arrived at my parents’ house, returning from the most… un… un something. One of the most uncomfortable open mic experiences I’ve ever had.

The Harambe Cafe in Adam’s Morgan, Washington DC – Ethiopian food catches me off guard with it’s excitement and spongey bread and clenchy finger action.

This isn’t here for any particular reason. Just a picture of my Grandfather’s train from his basement from Christmas. One of my favourite memories is of the toy train that Grandpa would put up every year. My brother and I would sit fascinated for hours. It’s just been too many pages of straight text.

But the open mic catches me further off guard. It’s “hip” and it has a house band that sort of grooves between performers, and it has an MC named “Empress” – and “rob and Heather” and “Dan Zimmerman” felt out of place among the “Mastah Cs” and whatnots and suchnots. I felt badly out of place.

Did I feel too white? Or too old? I’m not sure – but between accents and massive doses of ambient noise, I felt like a parent desperately trying to relate to my child, who’s decided the only way to be cool is to speak nothing but Swahili.

I understood nothing.

“Hi, my name’s rob!”
“Yo – s’up. Ah’m Tabdoh!”
“Whut?”

Oh God – I just… as much as I hate to say it, I feel comfortable at the open mics where Joe comes up and says “Hi, I’m Joe” and Joe has a band called “Joe and the ___________” … or… “the Joe Band”. I’m all about that.

Of course, I have a band called ilyAIMY – but what of it. I just felt like I could never be accepted to this place, no matter how often I came there. It was a different culture.

And the food was sooooo good.

And the band was sooo good.

And I soo couldn’t pronounce either their name or anything on the menu.

I’m a failed multi-culturist.

And as I thought of my failure, navigating the DC city streets, homeward bound, the highway slowly becomes familiar, and I remember high school field-trips, and gunshots, and the willow tree that used to sit along Good Luck Road.

And I pull onto Wellington Street, and slow the car around the curve, and pull up in front of my parents’ house, it’s denuded trees scratching slowly into the 20 degree weather.

The steps are solid and familiar, but the door still doesn’t seem normal to me yet, though it was replaced… I don’t know HOW many years ago… opening the door

though – I’m greeted by the familiar and almost forgotten scent of my mom’s hamburger soup.

Well, I grew up knowing it as chili. I don’t remember when it gleaned the “hamburger soup” moniker. But it is a familiar smell of hot water and pan-fried hamburger, beans and tomatoes and onions. I’d asked for my mom’s hamburger soup before, but the last time, she made it with turkey – or something. Something was bizarrely different. But this… I scooped a ladel-full into the old white bowls that were my microwave altar from high-school… this was familiar, and beautiful. And I knew there would be more tomorrow, and it would keep and keep and keep. And I could eat and eat and eat.

There’s something about the way the kidney beans squish between my front teeth.

Yum.

But there’s difficulty at home, too. My father will be going into surgery on Monday, and I think he’s very frightened. Perhaps I haven’t had enough experience with the medical machinary of America, but I think of there being little that can’t be solved with advance notice and money.

And so there is cancer to fight. But we’ve known this, and there are drastic if not desparate measures to be taken now. And I understand that he’s frightened, but… it’s time to stop toying with it and be done with it and get something approaching a normal Life again.

And I’m worried that the attitude towards treatment and recovery is at least as important as the treatment itself… if not more so. I don’t know – my familiarity with the computer industry makes me fear that most of our modern world is a conglomeration of runaway black arts that no-one really understands anymore… but that doesn’t mean that they don’t work, and it makes faith all the more important, and I worry that my father’s faith in the Medical Establishment has been through a pretty horrific grinding process. He’s been treated poorly.

I listen to Christian radio when I’m frustrated with my world – mostly because it gives me something else to be angry about, and it distracts me from my own problems. I find myself driving the highway yelling at bigoted preachers.

But the most recent “teaching” was on the book of Job, and the importance of Faith in the face of … in the face of God spitting on you. I don’t really have Faith in a religious sense, but… faith in oneself, and faith… faith that a Decision has been Made and that that Decision, right or wrong, will lead you to… well… to whatever’s coming next.

If you don’t have something like that in your head, how can you make any decision? And how can you not end up simply caught up in a loop of “what-ifs”.

You need faith of SOME sort to Live.

So, anywho – keep good thoughts coming.  Monday, and the following months will probably be pretty difficult, but it’s the end-phase of a three + year game, and I have high hopes for the outcome.

Oh – and the lesson learned?

If something hurts, and a doctor says “well I can’t find a problem” – that’s different from him saying “oh, that’s normal… that’s nothing”… “I can’t find a problem” means it’s time to shop around for another doctor, and not wait for doctor fucking A to get his head out of his ass and take notice of the problem on the next fucking visit.

When you take a car into the shop, you don’t let the mechanic stop until he Makes the Problem Go Away… do you? Why the Hell my father got a lesser treatment than a Ford truck… I don’t understand. Jayson Blaire is busily trying to do something about the Journalistic profession… I wish someone would do it for the bloated and frightened and overworked medical profession.

God, it’s been a rough start to 2004. A lot of people are having a lot of problems. But it can only get better from here….

right?

RIGHT?!?


The house is full of cats. They don’t trust me. Heather’s been trying to catch Rocket all night. Will she give Luka a complex because it’s evident she doesn’t feel that Luka’s as pretty as Rocket?

I WISH my camera was charged. After landing full square in the midst of all of Heather’s IM sessions with all four paws, Luka escapes up a vertical wall of boxes to menace a mammoth.

Twee!


Practice leaves me feeling exhausted. It’s becoming clear that on top of everything else Heather’s cold hasn’t missed me. It just waited for a while, and now my throat itches and my nose runs and I just feel hot and tired.

Route 3 leads to 97 leads to 695 leads to home, and the drive is far, far too long for my feelings. I’m not looking forward to a night full of difficult swallows and the squishy squishy squishy sound of my trying to scratch the back of my throat with my tongue. I feel sorry for Heather tonight. She’s finally looking forward to a decent night’s sleep sans her own drippy discomfort, and now she’s going to have to deal with MY drippy discomfort. My poor, poor girl.

May 23rd, 2004.

Wow, so not writing ANYTHING right now – exhausted and near to death, plus my computer puts out far too much heat to leave it running at the moment.

Right at the beginning of the day - after fighting our way through Metro and lines and crowds and the WORLD, we managed to get pretty close for Cypress Hill - I've seen them once before, paired up with Rage Against the Machine - and though the bass wasn't quite as fierce here - it still twitched my clothes arround and exerted physical pressure on my skull. It was really close, probably 95+ degrees, and insanely humid from all the bodies, and as usual, I ended up right on the edge of a mosh pit. I don't know how they ALWAYS find me, or why they form around me (do I just inspire strange half-naked male aggression?) but, also as usual, eventually two of the guys got into a fight over broken sunglasses ("You fucking owe my FIVE DOLLARS!!") and I ended up getting clubbed in the RIGHT shoulder... you know... the one that was ok. So now BOTH shoulders hurt. Sigh.
Right at the beginning of the day – after fighting our way through Metro and lines and crowds and the WORLD, we managed to get pretty close for Cypress Hill – I’ve seen them once before, paired up with Rage Against the Machine – and though the bass wasn’t quite as fierce here – it still twitched my clothes arround and exerted physical pressure on my skull. It was really close, probably 95+ degrees, and insanely humid from all the bodies, and as usual, I ended up right on the edge of a mosh pit. I don’t know how they ALWAYS find me, or why they form around me (do I just inspire strange half-naked male aggression?) but, also as usual, eventually two of the guys got into a fight over broken sunglasses (“You fucking owe me FIVE DOLLARS!!”) and I ended up getting clubbed in the RIGHT shoulder… you know… the one that was ok. So now BOTH shoulders hurt. Sigh.

Notes for what I WILL write though:

Worst seats in the house, getting there, getting Shane, getting Mitzi, missing Amy… hrm, what else? Jah Works vs the Goths, Jimmie’s Chicken Shack vs the festival, me vs the heat and man vs man during Cypress Hill… Missing the Violent Femmes, not missing the Offspring, and feeling guilty about not missing the eye candy. The Cure and the pain and the best damned hot dog I’ve ever had… but not really.

But for now, I’ve got a bed at Gwen’s house, and I’m grateful for that, because the subway was Hell, and it’s been quite a day. I’m hoping Heather’s gig went okay… thinking about that, thinking about practice, but mostly – thinking about sleep.

Note to self: somewhere along the line, Jimmie Haha became one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever seen. One of the best shows that there ever could be.

After Cypress Hill, we tried to go find Shane, who was up in the nosebleed section. Between the deadly power of the mosh pit, the deadly power of the sun, the awesome nasty slurpiness of the moisture in the air, and the billion ramps it took to climb up to where Shane was, I got kind of sick, and we missed the first half of the Violent Femmes.... sigh. But they were awesome, even from way up here - and I was amazed to look around during "Add it Up" and realize that this song was older than many of the kids around me - and the whole stadium knew the words.
After Cypress Hill, we tried to go find Shane, who was up in the nosebleed section. Between the deadly power of the mosh pit, the deadly power of the sun, the awesome nasty slurpiness of the moisture in the air, and the billion ramps it took to climb up to where Shane was, I got kind of sick, and we missed the first half of the Violent Femmes…. sigh. But they were awesome, even from way up here – and I was amazed to look around during “Add it Up” and realize that this song was older than many of the kids around me – and the whole stadium knew the words.
Shane came down from Philadelphia and was... a bit overwhelmed by the event. We crashed on a hill for the two hours to pass in which all the bands sucked. Unfortunately, Modest Mouse and the Violent Femmes were playing at the same time... adding to his pensiveness.
Shane came down from Philadelphia and was… a bit overwhelmed by the event. We crashed on a hill for the two hours to pass in which all the bands sucked. Unfortunately, Modest Mouse and the Violent Femmes were playing at the same time… adding to his pensiveness.
Jimmie's Chicken Shack turned down their slot on the big National Stage, and instead closed out the Local's Stage, and played till they were cut off.
Jimmie’s Chicken Shack turned down their slot on the big National Stage, and instead closed out the Local’s Stage, and played till they were cut off.

Later that day…
The sun rose, but I’m thankful to the Gwen house for having big, thick, mighty blinds that left me in darkness till late in the morning.

I think that the main thing I wish I could capture yesterday, was the performance by Jimmie’s Chicken Shack that closed out the local stage – I wish I had a recording, or a perfect memory – anything other than a bunch of blurred and distant photographs.

Poor Mitzi. I made her sit through the Offspring. They didn't play my song... sigh. Much older than I expected - they're like... 40...
Poor Mitzi. I made her sit through the Offspring. They didn’t play my song… sigh. Much older than I expected – they’re like… 40…

So, I first encountered the Chicken Shack on a friend’s wall in high school. She’d been following them around, creating a pretty awesome portfolio based on their Live shows… I didn’t get a chance to check them out until they were paired up with the Violent Femmes at Johns Hopkins University.

They stood out as one of the most energetic bands I’d ever seen – and it seems so strange that that was almost nine years – and here is Jimmie, nearly a decade older – and controlling the stage masterfully, doing funny dances, leaping and singing his heart out.

And bitter. That’s definately one of the things I remember from the Annapolis scene – in the wake of Good Charlotte getting signed and Jimmie’s Chicken Shack getting signed but getting screwed – it seems that all of the musicians have this bitter streak towards big business – I wonder if there are cities like that scattered all over the world – where acts have been plucked from their homes, and the rest of the scene is left standing still and wondering what the FUCK they’ve been working for all of these years.

The Cure, of course, had the coolest light show, and Mitzi really wanted to be up close for them. Robert Smith just sort of stood there, but his bass player thought he was in a punk band.
The Cure, of course, had the coolest light show, and Mitzi really wanted to be up close for them. Robert Smith just sort of stood there, but his bass player thought he was in a punk band.

So, Jimmie had a lot to say yesterday, and I was amazed by how he said it. He talked about how the easiest way to get an audience to yell was to mention pot… he talked about how a lot of us had probably thought that they had broken up… and he talked about how they weren’t going to stop till they were unplugged – not just today, but forever.

My spine was tingling through the whole show. He talked about how they’d had the opportunity to play the big, national stage – and how he’d been trying to escape his label for three years, and he was almost there, and that’s why he was there on the LOCAL stage, because he was LOCAL music. He had the audience screaming back “What’s this band’s name?!?” “JIMMIE’S CHICKEN SHACK” “Are we LOCAL?” “HELL YEAH!!!”

I’d never really thought of them as STANDING for something – but they took on the mantle of Fugazi yesterday, even playing “Waiting Room” (“We’ve been taking the stage for 11 years, and we’ve never played a cover… so here’s a LOCAL cover”)

Clean up must be horrible for this thing. At around 11.30 or so, everyone was walking slowly, exhausted, and calling their mom to come get them.
Clean up must be horrible for this thing. At around 11.30 or so, everyone was walking slowly, exhausted, and calling their mom to come get them.

And they came to stand for the same thing – small business, grassroot power, local music… he had the singers from all the other local bands coming up in the middle of one of “School Bus” – he finished with his part of it, handed his guitar off, and jumped over security and into the crowd…. and then the next guy came up, free-styled, handed off the mic and jumped into the crowd – it must’ve been about four different musicians, one after the other, lemming-like – and I would kill to be doing that.

Their performance alone made the day worthwhile. I’m excited to hear the new album (Alfred did the artwork), because it doesn’t sound like the crap they put out under their label labour – if you haven’t heard it, go find a copy of Pushing the Salmonella Envelope. One of the best albums ever recorded.

October 8th, 2004.

Was it just last night? We played Steve Key’s birthday party – 47 singer/songwriters for 47 years.A billion chocolate cupcakes and a fantastic giant German chocolate hoho. More a bouche de noel with a bit of coconut icing on top. And candy, and stuff.

Happy Heather at Pittsburgh University. Rowan grabbed my camera and actually captured Heather ... GRINNING!!!
Happy Heather at Pittsburgh University. Rowan grabbed my camera and actually captured Heather … GRINNING!!!
The ceiling of Pittsburgh University's Bellefield Hall, where we played for their Habitat for Humanity benefit. They doubled the amount of money they brought in from last year, so they were pretty pleased. I'd Love to say that that was pretty much a result of us playing there, but that would be a lie. Anywho, a big thank you to Erin for taking a chance on us and inviting us up last Friday.
The ceiling of Pittsburgh University’s Bellefield Hall, where we played for their Habitat for Humanity benefit. They doubled the amount of money they brought in from last year, so they were pretty pleased. I’d Love to say that that was pretty much a result of us playing there, but that would be a lie. Anywho, a big thank you to Erin for taking a chance on us and inviting us up last Friday.

Oh yeah – and some music.

Steve Key blowing out the candles on his cupcake cake.
Steve Key blowing out the candles on his cupcake cake.
The Steve Key band.
The Steve Key band performing for Steve Key’s birthday at the Electric Maid in Washington DC.

Forty-seven singer/songwriters all in one place amounts to a whole lot of music, and at one song each, it means that even if you don’t like what’s on the stage at the moment, if you wait for five minutes, something else takes its place. But I was rarely truly wishing for change. Steve was truly showing off his friends – some amazing players, amazing voices.

Cletus Kennelly performing for Steve Key's birthday
Cletus Kennelly performing for Steve Key’s birthday
Matt Holsen.
Matt Holsen.

But the highlight of the night was Steve’s performance… he had put together a little pick-up band for the evening – percussion, bass (I don’t remember their names, because I’m THAT forgetful, but the bass player was playing a gorgeous custom-built six-string and used to play for Ray Charles and the Temptations). And on lead instrument (mandolin and guitar), the beautiful and horrifically unattainable Avril Smith.

They only played four songs, but – there’s something so pure about his music. It’s hard to explain, and I think a lot of people don’t really understand why his music in particular effects me the way it does. He writes good, solid, American folk. He writes political music without being overbearing, and Love songs without being sacharine.

He writes incredibly personal music that strikes me to the core. There’s a lot of really good, solid music out there, especially in our circles. I mean, Hell, how often am I struck with shock at how GOOD the musicians are in our circle of friends? But Steve Key really shakes me – some of the writers that we cross paths – they are too clever almost… I’m distracted by the craft – which is a difficult concept to explain to people who don’t get it.

Sometimes a fascination with the brush strokes can interrupt the appreciation of a painting – when the painter is more in Love with the craft than with the overall piece. I don’t think it’s even something that most people would notice, but it’s the driving force of my hatred for a LOT of folk music right now… a lot of art in general, actually – performing and visual. There’s too much of the artist sitting back and sort of pointing something out to you – pointing and saying “see, wasn’t that clever? I am a Good Songwriter”. Steve’s work never has that pretention. They’re just Good Songs.

Beast from Sunday's crab feest.
Beast from Sunday’s crab feest.
Takoma Park Street Fest, Amanda, a cat and Sharif. One of these is allergic to another.
Takoma Park Street Fest, Amanda, a cat and Sharif. One of these is allergic to another.
Takoma Park Street Festival.
Takoma Park Street Festival.
Heather playing at the Crab Feast.
Warming up at the crab feast.
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0
Driving home over the Harbor.
Driving home over the Harbor.

November 10th, 2004.

Playing with the great Firedean today got my ego back in check. I was mortified to run across something that was SO hard, with rhythms and chords that I just wasn’t familiar with.

Heather and I retreated from Washington, DC, each in our own separate worlds, but with mine mostly focused on a feeling of failure.

Through most all of grade-school I was pretty close to being a straight-A student, and through high school, I maintained a GPA well over the 4.0 mark with the assistance of Advanced Placement and International Bacculaureate classes. Despite that I wasn’t working hard. I didn’t have to study much, and most things came pretty naturally to me. As such, I got into the habit of thinking that most things should come naturally, and, as cowardly as it may be, I’ve tended to let that guide my Life towards whatever downhill course, whatever easy path I might just fall into. When music turned out to come more naturally than art did, I turned that direction. I fall into things… I’m lucky.

The Trip (quitting my job, trying to make a “Living” as a musician, on my own) has been my first real effort to get away from that. It’s sort of shameful, but better late than never. I don’t know that most people EVER really take charge of their Life, and instead just sort of wander through whatever doors happen to open for them. Of course, whether it’s ACTUALLY more intelligent to just keep beating your head against a patch of wall that you want opened rather than going through any number of opened doors, who knows…

So what, you may ask, the fuck, you might say, is my point? Well – simply that playing with Firedean is making me WORK – and work HARD. It’s like Mr. Schlude.

For some reason, I didn’t have trouble with Algebra, or Trigonometry, or Calculus, but at some point I ran into Geometry, and my head would NOT wrap around it. I struggled to make Ds in Mr. Schlude’s class, as I remember, and for some reason, no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t make it make sense. It was like walking into French class and encountering Japanese instead.

By the end of two hours trying to learn the Songs of Fire, I could literally feel tears at the corners of my eyes… I was just damned embarassed. I get told far too often that I’m a great guitarist, and to be reminded that there is still SO much work to be done…

We decided to spend the night at College Perk, and walked in on the tail-end of the open mic – the tail-end of Pat Klink’s set, as a matter of fact (of We’re About 9). I was startled to find myself in the midst of far too many people, and retreated upstairs as swiftly as possible. After about half an hour with stew and “the Golden Compass”, I was ready to face the world, wandered the Perk, played guitar, flirted and fretted. I felt human again.

But I broke a nail on Mitzi. Sigh.


And Tyler replied to all of this with:
yo
for what it’s worth, I know two different guys who have spent at LEAST four years in college studying guitar, who now make a living teaching it, who couldn’t keep up with you. one actually saw you play one time and walked out cursing. just so you know.

Thanks. That will tide me over until practice tonight, and then I’ll have to read it again on the ride home.

In completely unrelated news, Heather and I went and saw the Star Wars III trailer. I was ok with the movie it was attached to, but the trailer made me very, very hopeful for the Revenge of the Sith.

Ok, so I’m a Star Wars fanboy. What of it.

I’m hopeful for Star Wars III. Bloody Phantom Menace was inexcusable, filled with flatulent humour and … that digitized monstrosity Jar Jar… dot dot dot = much cursing. II was pretty good but when you knock away the utter pointlessness that made Episode I so hideous, you finally suffered from the lack of chemistry between the actors. But I still contend that Hayden Christiansen does an okay job brooding and being an angry teenager, and that the whole Tusken Raider slaughter scene is one of the most chilling moments I’ve ever experienced.

Because I’m a geek. I know. Shut up.

Anywho, I’ve long feared that Lucas will shy away from the sheer darkness of Anakin’s fall to the Sith – and the trailer gave me hope. Not only did it seem to focus less on the carnival-ride feel of the previous two movies, but it contained some good shots of the rising Lord Vader, and the beautifully creepy overlay of the Christinsen/James Earl Jones’ voices… add to that some good ole bad ass Yoda poses, protoTIE fighters making howling that unique TIE howl, a shot of big warships coming close and loosing broadsides into one another and you’re missing only one thing to make ME happy.

Wookies.

Oh, and then they showed me wookies. Sooo many wookies. I might not MAKE it till May 19th. Sigh.

November 11th, 2004.

Watching the Matrix. Eating stuffing. Life’s good. Ooh, here’s the sexy bit.

Heather and I wondered around Georgetown in DC before Wednesday night's Firedean practice. We wandered the canals and window-shopped and searched for parking.
Heather and I wondered around Georgetown in DC before Wednesday night’s Firedean practice. We wandered the canals and window-shopped and searched for parking.
Heather peeking through some art (?) in Georgetown.
Heather peeking through some art (?) in Georgetown.
Georgetown canals.
Georgetown canals.

This was written to me a couple of nights ago:

“Was reading some of your journal. Interesting. but for argument.

Do ya think that maybe Bush won because of not budging a whole lot on what he believes. Regarding religion,war, freedom.

Why is “Gay” such a big deal?  Who cares. If major exceptions can be made say for gay people with regards to our laws, which are based in a moral belief most of the time, why not just make exceptions for  everybody with a little different sexual orientation? How about the people who like to sleep with little children? Hey, not all of us do it. But after all, they are people too. There are over ten of them in my neighborhood. I viewed one of them just as a “Person” until I found out. They were or maybe were born that way. Who knows?

Now, the only reason we view that as wrong is because the society we live in has said it is wrong. Our parents taught us that, but that really doesn’t make it wrong. So, we should try it?

This is how I ended up responding:

I actually DO respect Bush for not budging from his views. He’s stated a lot of things, and he’s stuck by them. That’s one of those things that I’ve always been impressed with, and it sucked voting for Kerry, who on that front especially, I have absolutely no respect for. It’s difficult for me, because I feel like I could even agree with a lot of things that Bush has done, but I feel that he’s really been disingenuous with the reasons behind his actions.

But – I think America was created with the idea that the government was going to place a couple of laws in place that say “don’t hurt anybody” and enforce that – things like traffic laws and safety requirements, and on a larger scale, child protection, education, and anti-trust laws. some more far-reaching than others.. But then after making sure the populace isn’t out there eating one another, the government is supposed to sort of stay out of the way. leaving more “opinion” based things to the states. It’s there to protect the United States of America , and through that, protect people – their Lives, their freedoms, their ideals.

Rowan and his special soup. I figured it would be good (and somewhat appropriate) to break the tension.
Rowan and his special soup. I figured it would be good (and somewhat appropriate) to break the tension.

I think that the gay marriage ban (and that’s what it is, it’s not fighting a guarantee of different rights for gay marriages, but a guarantee of equal rights under the law) is something that CAN’T be placed on the national level. Until you can find enough of a sociological study that proves that a male/male or female/female family unit creates a more harmful environment for any adopted offspring than so many of the “traditional” dysfunctional families out there, I don’t think you can prove that gay marriage is genuinely detrimental to American society (any more than the broken homes and broken families created by our 50% and climbing divorce rate). I feel that if you COULD prove that, you might have a leg to stand on, but even then, I’d feel that that falls more under adoption law – that a same-sex couple wouldn’t be able to adopt a child. but I still don’t see where this affects who should marry who.

Bush may be very strong in his sense of morality, but he’s seeking to push that sense of morality on to others, and indeed, with a 51% majority of the country, he’s just about capable of forcing that down everyone’s throat. The difference between his platform and the Democratic platform has ALWAYS been the difference between totalitarianism and democracy. Bush is seeking to place a “Father knows best” mentality over America – seeking to say “this is what I believe, and once I put it into law, this is what you ALL will Live by” where as the more democratic approach (little “d”) states that “this is what I believe, but what we ALL can agree on is what is put into law”. Bush can be as Christian as he likes, but in a country built on religious freedoms, he shouldn’t be allowed to force it on the rest of us.

Now, the problem I have with the gay marriage ban is that it seems to be totally based on religion. Ideally, that’s maybe all that SHOULD affect marriage and perhaps once upon a time marriage WAS about a religious binding of two individuals. Unfortunately, marriage is no longer simply about religion and Love – it’s about tax breaks, politics, retirement plans and inheritance. On that level, the religious side of it drops out, and if it’s no longer a religious institution, religious reasonings can no longer be used to regulate it.

In reality, most marriages now fail and people go into them knowing that they can back out, that they can get divorces or mistresses or money or all at the end of their trial period. There is very little care for “under the eyes of God” or “till death do we part”, but it IS a way of insuring that your money is inherited the way you want it to be, that FAMILIES receive tax-breaks rather than punishments for staying solid units. Marriage is a way of getting a form of legally recognized solidarity. Insurance for your partner, and also assurance that your partner is genuine. It’s a contract.

On a religious front, churches are where it should be banned – if a Catholic church feels that same-sex marriage is a sin in the eyes of God, than a Catholic church bloody well shouldn’t marry same-sex couples. Of course, if people were being true to their religion, and not just seeking a pretty place to get married, then Catholics wouldn’t have that problem, because no TRUE Catholic would ever contemplate getting married to a same-sex partner. “Same-sex unions”, if they truly gave the same rights, should certainly exist, but at the moment there is a stigma to getting partnered that way, and I feel that someone who gets partnered by a justice of the peace in a court of law should get the same rights and respect (and even pomp and ceremony) as someone who is married by a preacher in a stained-glass cathedral. I think Bush is even stating (though very quietly) that the law ought to set aside provisions for “unions”. but the key is the WORD “marriage”. There’s so much baggage with that term. If a church won’t marry a same-sex couple, fine. But Bush, as president of the United States, has no right to define American religious policy, and the law has no right to regulate based simply on the principle of religion.


As for comparing same-sex couples to having sex with children – the idea here is that you’ve got two consenting adults in one circumstance, and in the other – well, kids can consent to all sorts of things, but we’ve agreed somewhere along the line that the “age of consent” is 18. I don’t know that anyone argues with that except 13-17 year-olds. We’ve agreed that kids under the age of 18 don’t necessarily know what’s good for them, and that kids under the age of consent are almost effectively the property of their parents. So comparing same-sex marriage to pedophilia I don’t think is really right. It’s like saying. “well, people have sex when their MARRIED, so why can’t you just rape’m?” – they are two totally different things, with the key being CONSENT.

The comparison between homosexuality and pedophilia is something that is really highlighted in mass media, and is one of the more idiotic (and harmful) perpetuations of negative publicity on the homosexual Lifestyle. I don’t think the two should be compared at all. Sex with a same-sex consenting adult and sex with an underage partner is not at all synonymous, and whether or not this is being perpetrated by a same-sex or opposite sex criminal is immaterial. It’s still rap


Sitting at Amy’s, typing, setting up a little temporary studio-space for myself. Downstairs, Heather and Amy are practicing for Heather’s solo show at Caribou. The sounds that float up are delicious.

December 20th, 2017.

Last night Rowan and I got together to practice and then decided to head down to Gypsy Sally’s for their Tuesday night open mic. We’ve been a couple of times before and it’s generally been a good way to remind the staff and owner (the latter runs the open mic night) that we exist – and that this is what we look like. The last couple of times we’ve been there it’s been kind of sparse, but last night it was packed both with physical bodies and with talent. There were a number of performers that were downright intimidating – but we had a great time… once we got there.

Not our cat says farewell and have a good show!
Not our cat says farewell and have a good show!

Practicing with Rowan is a good exercise. I’m TERRIBLE at exercise. Definitely terrible at leading it. When ilyAIMY practices, I put together a list of songs IF they’re lucky, and then we kind of push our way through. Generally speaking, we play in so many different formats that for the rest of the band it’s mostly a matter of reminding them how everything goes, and for Heather and I it’s a matter of reminding ourselves of how things align with those particular bandmates – and countering for drift. The songs evolve as Heather and Kristen and I play them out on the road or over and over at the bar gigs that seem to define our Lives – and then when we gear up for the festival season where the larger band formats are appropriate, we’ve got to remember how the drums influence the rhythm, how the piano plays that ONE chord in “Illinois”, how Rowan’s drums interact with Joey’s drums and where it is that that overrides Heather’s cajon part…

Et fucking cetera.

Anywho – practicing with Rowan – he and I have been focused on doing more things together – a couple of reasons behind that, not least of which is that he’s underused right now and wants to get out and play his OWN stuff for a change. We’ve played at least one of these Gypsy Sally’s gigs, a couple of open mics, and a really wonderful (and finally much more equal) show a couple of weeks ago at Columbia’s Mad City Café.

Open Mic at Gypsy Sally's in Georgetown - Washington DC.
Open Mic at Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown – Washington DC.

Well, now it’s time to buckle down and really polish things up – something I kind of suck at. Rowan’s really great at running one part of a song over and over again. And it’s a different kind of push than I’m used to. After a couple of hours, we had a quick dinner with his wife and kid, and then headed into DC to see how much we remembered.

It turned out that at least on the topic of “how to get to Gypsy Sally’s” “how much we remembered” was precisely “not much”. I think the first wrong turn was Rowan’s fault. The second wrong turn was me second-guessing Rowan and was at least partially the GPS’ fault for not updating fast enough. The THIRD missed turn was DEFINITELY the GPS’ fault as it froze as we were going around one of those fucking traffic circles… and then the fourth wrong turn was probably my fault, though at that point it was anyone’s game… but remember, whenever you’re faced with the decision of “taking the high road” or “going down” – when it comes to Gypsy Sally… you ALWAYS go down.

Rowan performing at the Gypsy Sally's Open Mic - I've just realized that I don't remember this song and decide to retune my baritone in prep for handing it to Rowan in pseudo-DADGAD. After taking a pic or two (and watching Rowan play) I
Rowan performing at the Gypsy Sally’s Open Mic – I’ve just realized that I don’t remember this song and decide to retune my pseduo-drop-D-tuned baritone in prep for handing it to Rowan in pseudo-DADGAD. After taking a pic or two (and watching Rowan play) I suddenly DO remember what to play and realize the problem is that I should be playing tuned to STANDARD! I hastily retune the low A back to B and jump back in, promptly forgetting I’ve also retuned the other B and the F#, which I shortly run afoul of. In all, I should’ve just kept taking pictures. Also… write stuff down.

Still, got a lot of quality time in the car – but that meant we were WAY later than we’d hoped, which meant we were WAY later on the list than we’d hoped and we played WAY later than we’d hoped, resulting in us staying waaaaaay later than I’d hoped.

For all that it was something of a comedy of errors GETTING there, it felt like we were maybe SUPPOSED to be there. Had a great chat with the owner, got recognized by a couple of other performers, and even had the percussionist of the night, Baptiste, text his friend about my guitar to someone who then promptly remembered me too! I felt famous. Open Mic famous.

Man am I glad my venue closes at 10pm. We were about to call it a night at 11pm shortly after we’d played, but then one thing led to another and it was suddenly 1 in the morning! T’was an exhausting night. But good. Gig tomorrow. We’ll see what we remember!

One of the crazy coincidences! So I'm editing Journal files from 2004 or so right now, and that's probably around the last time we saw this guy! Junior Bryce found his way to us courtesy of our mutual friend Alfred (our drummer in the early 2000s) and played with us at our bigger shows back then. He was sitting at the bar and I totally lost track of where I was in a song when we did that "holy crap! It's YOU!" thing... he jammed with a couple of the other players and was just as amazing as I remember (here he's playing with one of the last players of the night - I believe this to be Andy Carlson (?).
One of the crazy coincidences! So I’m editing Journal files from 2004 or so right now, and that’s probably around the last time we saw this guy! Junior Bryce found his way to us courtesy of our mutual friend Alfred (our drummer in the early 2000s) and played with us at our bigger shows back then. He was sitting at the bar and I totally lost track of where I was in a song when we did that “holy crap! It’s YOU!” thing… he jammed with a couple of the other players and was just as amazing as I remember (here he’s playing with one of the last players of the night – I believe this to be Andy Carlson (?).

December 21st, 2017.

Last night was a lot of fun despite the odds. Rowan and I have been working hard putting together a more equitable setlist and we got to play it last night at Gypsy Sally’s. Tuesday night we’d practiced our little hearts out and then headed down to play the open mic with kind of questionable results, and today we left really, really early to avoid rush hour traffic on our way down to the actual gig.

Kristen and Artem and Heather and I go to finalyl see Star Wars: The Last Jedi... that maaaay end up being a whole Journal entry on its own!
Wednesday night Kristen and Artem and Heather and I go to finally see Star Wars: The Last Jedi… that maaaay end up being a whole Journal entry on its own!

Not that avoiding DC rush hour traffic is actually a thing – you have to avoid DC as a whole in order to do that.

Yeah - Rowan's leaf piles are bigger than my car. I'm NOT jealous of this. And I'm NOT messin' it up.
Yeah – Rowan’s leaf piles are bigger than my car. I’m NOT jealous of this. And I’m NOT messin’ it up.

In any case, armed with Tuesday night’s knowledge we were really, really prepped to not miss ANY turns this time around – and were only mildly disappointed to have google route us to Georgetown along an entirely different path. No matter – the point is is that we GOT there! We parked, had enough time for coffee [Rowan showed off his beanerdery by taking me to a Blue Bottle and talking about… like… “figuring” and “profiles” with the guy behind the counter] and then nabbing dinner at Chipotle [I continue to fail to find anything at Chipotle that doesn’t make me sick though] and STILL have time to load-in early to the venue AND spend plenty of time in their bathroom thanks to item two above.

Rowan getting his coffee nerding on at Blue Bottle in Georgetown.
Rowan getting his coffee nerding on at Blue Bottle in Georgetown.

Sigh. You know you’re not one of those laissez-faire rockers when one of the major plusses for a venue is the fact that their rest rooms are always clean – but man oh man, I can’t say enough good stuff about the fact that Gypsy Sally’s bathrooms are always in good shape.

Decorate with spikes? Sure - why not!
Decorate with spikes? Sure – why not!

Anywho, loaded in, set up, warmed up playing along to the Red Hot Chili Peppers album being played over the PA, and proceeded to rock the Hell out.

Now, Gypsy Sally’s is one of the only “tips” gigs I’ll play nowadays. The “why” to this is probably not immediately obvious : it’s not easy to get to, paying for parking ain’t cheap… BUT a) you’re scheduled against the “big” shows going next door in an intelligent fashion so that you get a LOT of audience flooding in from that, b) the staff is really, really fantastic and appreciative and c) the crowd is also really, really appreciative –it’s definitely a music crowd, not your standard barmongers, d) as mentioned… great bathrooms e) we can play what EVER we want. Rowan and I really have a fantastic time. And it’s supportive enough that we DO actually make a profit, so… until the promised big gigs on the BIG side come along, we are surprisingly happy about playing these.

So happy, as a matter of fact, that some nights (like Thursday night) we forget to take a break. And so, after playing our hearts out and then realizing ANOTHER big batch of people are crowding in so we should play our hearts out a little longer – we remember that we’ve not taken a break and have forgotten to run back out and pay the meter.

Now, especially since at the open mic we felt like we’d had a close call with this – seeing the car next to us being ticketed half an hour after the meters were supposed to be OFF – we weren’t feeling like we were going to get away with this, but Rowan’s windshield remained remarkably free of citations! Huzzah!

A neat light installation of some sort in Georgetown.
A neat light installation of some sort in Georgetown.

Then we got pulled over on the way home.

For a taillight! Just given a work order! Huzzah!

Then I-695 was closed on the drive home.

But the cat was waiting for me when I got home at 1.30 in the morning. Huzzah!

Little victories. Tis what Life is made of.