Archive for February, 2012

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A Mirror Turned Inward, Reflecting

02/28/2012

…that thing that happens right before you sleep; every mistake you’ve ever made, every word you wish you’d never said, every moment that crushed you comes flooding back in excruciating detail…and all you can do about it is cringe and pretend it all never happened.

I hate my memory. It is full of useless details, facts, occurrences and happenings that even those who were involved don’t remember. I can name minute things associated with a one-time memory that held no intrinsic value to anything save that it is forever tattooed in the folds of my brain. People sometimes refer to me as some sort of idiot savant with the way I can recall things. I don’t like it. I’d love to be blissfully unaware of the memories that swirl in my subconscious. I wish I didn’t remember that one time when I was 17 and was somehow unable to stop my mouth from forming the words that never should have left the back of my brain. To this day, I can be back in the same place, at the same time, failing to stop the sentence from leaving my lips and seeing the hurt and anger register in my friend’s eyes.

I wish I didn’t remember the decision I made that resulted in making someone angry; nor do I want to remember the time I was responsible for hurting someone else. I can remember good things, but the bad ones are the ones that seem to pervade my waking thoughts. Drifting off to sleep is very difficult while reliving the time someone was so angry with me they threatened to break my arm if I didn’t listen. Or being back in the spot and time when I made the stupidest of all remarks and became the brunt of an ongoing joke because of it. Actually, the latter happens a lot more often than I care to admit.

It would be nice to be able to detach and turn off the thoughts in my head and meld into a state of peace and contentment, but the constant wrinkles, meanderings and expeditions my mind takes renders that impossible.

To be a drop of water in an ocean of the unaware; I could only wish.

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Miscellany

02/17/2012

It has been a while since I’ve contributed anything to my little corner of thought here so I figured I would try to squeeze some blood from the proverbial stone today. I figure today’s ponderings might come out more as a wave of thoughts and words instead of a more composed, concise summation of ideas.

The Grammys came and went, and while I did not watch them (my bitterness toward what the music “industry” has now become is only exacerbated by this award show) I did note some results and comments that I wanted to touch on. Firstly, the only category that caught my eye was the Hard Rock/Metal Performance, which was, of course, awarded pre-show and without any fanfare (yet more proof that metal never has been and never will be part of any of the public’s eye). The nominees included Dream Theater, Mastodon, Megadeth, Foo Fighters (?) and Sum 41 (they still exist?!!? Really??!?!). Now while the prog nerd in me wanted Dream Theater to win, partially to shove it in Mike Portnoy’s pompous face, and the music snob in me wanted Mastodon to win so perhaps the public might get a better idea of how good they are, the realist in me knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that The Foo Fighters would take the aware. And they did. So what does that prove? Firstly, it proves that the music industry has no real clue what metal is as a genre. Sum 41 and Foo Fighters do not belong in the same category as the other three. Say what you wish about your personal musical preferences, but those two acts sound NOTHING like Megadeth, Dream Theater or Mastodon; rock and metal are not the same thing.

Secondly, the Grammys show that they are no longer awarded based on merit, musicianship or creativity; they are awarded based on popularity and record sales. This is what is fundamentally wrong with the music industry. Music as it is promoted by big media is no longer an art form, but a business. New artists are cultivated not for their new ideas, methods and sounds but for the bottom line they potentially can bring to the record companies. When is the last time a new artist that hit major airwaves and media popularity actually did anything revolutionary? The creation of reality music competitions have contributed to render the creative musician all but extinct. Look back to the Beatles and the British Invasion of the 60s. This was a new sound, a new look and a new genre that kicked everyone in the ass. It took the country, and ultimately the world, by storm and changed the face of music. Nothing had come before or since that sounded like that. Then there was Motown. Before that there was DooWop. Follow those up with the funk movement in the 70s, punk, metal bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and you have groundwork being laid for the evolution of music. Led Zeppelin had a sound. The Beatles had a sound. Parliament Funkadelic had a sound. They were unique, they were original and they inspired countless acts to follow. Bands like Rush, Def Leppard and the like are so unique you would be hard pressed to find anyone that could even remotely resemble them.

Since it is a band I am so familiar with, I will use Rush as an example, even though I would never consider them at all mainstream. When Rush started out in Canada, they put out their self-titled debut album and stormed across the country, but they couldn’t break into the US. One day, in Chicago as the story goes, a radio DJ was looking to play some “bathroom music,” aka they find the longest track on an album and play it with the hopes they can take a bathroom break and return before the song ended and they faced dead air. The DJ at the time selected the longest track on this new album from a band called Rush, titled Working Man. She returned from the bathroom and the phone lines were lighting up with people demanding to know who the artist was, what the song was, when they were touring and all of that stuff. The music, the lyrics and the sound had enthralled the listener base and almost overnight got the band a United States recording contract.

That simply doesn’t happen anymore. Music nowadays is farmed and cultivated to appeal to the lowest common denominator and bring the largest amount of dollars. It is no longer about self-expression and creativity but about appealing to the masses to win the almighty dollar. One has to look to the indie scene, be it indie rock, electronic, rap, metal or whatever genre, to find the artists that breaking ground in their styles. These artists are expressing their musical desires and signatures rather than writing for contracts and record deals and is that inherent musical nature that is utterly absent in the popular music scene.

Of course, that is just my opinion.

The other point I wanted to talk about relating to the Grammys was the sheer ignorance of the younger generation. Now, I’m not going to wax nostalgic and wave my cane at a bunch of young whippersnappers, but I do know this: when I and the rest of my generation were growing up, we knew what our parents listened to as kids. We had heard of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and all of the “Oldie” acts. We may have even liked them. But like or dislike, we knew about them. We knew what came before what we were listening to and what might have laid the foundation for the music we were currently enjoying. And that is what is painfully absent today. If you looked around Twitter after the Grammys, you would see kids, 14, 15 and 16-year-olds tweeting “Who the hell is Paul McCartney and why is he at the Grammy’s” and “I don’t know who the fuck Paul McCartney is, but he sucks.” Sorry but one of the most influential musicians and songwriters of the past 60 years is performing onstage and these kids aren’t even aware that he was one of The Beatles? I’d bet good money most of them don’t even know who The Beatles were. There are no roots anymore; the knowledge of what came before is essential in understanding what is here now and what will come in the future. I think that is true for many things, not just music, but it has become brutally clear that the current generation of music listeners is completely detached from what came before and exist with blinders allowing only the current to be heard. We knew who came before and can appreciate what has come since. Unfortunately, that knowledge is slowly but surely being flushed down the toilet.

Wow, that was a hell of a diatribe, wasn’t it? I wasn’t expecting to write so much on that subject. I’ll see if there is anything left in this cavern I call a head to add anything else to this post…..

In personal news, since his surgeries, Cody has gained 20 pounds of muscle in his hind quarters and it up to a lean, but meaty, 104 pounds. He is stronger, more powerful and more comfortable than ever.

Eric is talking more and more and is growing so much. He runs around the house and smiles with this freedom and uninhibited joy that only serves to make me smile wide. His hugs are heartfelt, his laughs are genuine and the adoration in his eyes when he looks me, MB or Cody is heart-melting. I can’t believe I had a part in creating him.

Number 30 is approaching and I almost find myself looking forward to it. In reality, the milestone isn’t important to me; age has never really meant a ton to me and I certainly don’t fear growing older. I’m noticing more and more that things I enjoyed in my childhood are quickly becoming “classics,” “oldies” and “vintage,” but it doesn’t bother me, despite the occasional groan of realization that, yes, it really has been 25 years since Sweet Child O’ Mine was released, or something of that nature. I look at it this way: I have a beautiful wife I love, an amazing son, a wonderful dog, a great family, a job I enjoy and a roof over my head; as long as I have those things, growing older can’t be too bad.

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