Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Fiesta by I-35
I was certain that the relief of leaving Boston and the elation of arriving in Austin would yield to a week, maybe more, of a blue period. A feeling that falls somewhere between mourning and being homesick. Garnish it with a pinch of regret, a dash of doubt, and a teaspoon of confusion, shaken with exhaustion.
"Wow. I'm really here."
"what the fuck am I doing here?"
"I lost direction in Boston."
"Will I find it here? Will I find 'it" or myself anywhere? What am I doing?"
Every now and then, the sun rises, and the sky seems to have a secret. I try to look beyond those bright, cream-crisp edges of the clouds, where beams of light, not unlike those on velvet paintings of Christ, shout down onto the strip malls and taco trailers on the outskirts of Austin. Maybe Boston is old and classy, but this is looking good to me, just because I've never been at this spot before. So what's the big secret that I keep looking for in the sky?
Yesterday brought a day of thunderstorms and showers. Last night I pushed myself out the door to go see a band. I felt like an outsider at the bar. From minute to minute I went from loving that feeling to hating it. If I was truly enjoying the music maybe I wouldn't have felt so uneasy. The room was packed. Two bands playing what sounded like every female-fronted country rock band I ever heard. The crowd was ape-shit. I guess that's why so many singer songwriters keep doing this shit. People just never get tired of it. Your long flowing locks, your summer dress, your red and white cowboy boots, don't impress. Where's the edge? Where's the color in the song? I have arrived from another planet. I am here to tear it up. Why don't the busses run past midnight?" I bought another beer and looked around for older, handsome dudes that look like they've seen the world, toured, read a lot, played a lot (well, men with brains and character) that I could fuck for at least five minutes in my mind. I saw only one, and he was so clearly a "somebody" in this town, that I couldn't even imagine him with his clothes off. He looked too famous. I could only imagine him passing through the whispers of all the young, beautiful, texan girls who longed to have him as a sideman on their next tour. Instead of some five-minute fuck fantasy, I imagined a drama unfolding: where the alt-country starlet exits the stage and goes to grab a beer. When she returns to the van out back she finds him speaking softly to a girl from the audience, turns the corner with her and vanishes....Wait. I realized I had seen him before. Thankfully, the dull-dream is interrupted. Yeah, I don't like him. I think I was introduced to him by a drummer friend. His teeth were unnaturally white and too straight to rest in the gums of a humble mouth.
The lights are on in the tattoo parlor next door. I kind of know those guys. Maybe go next door and say "hi"? Yeah, and talk about what? Fuck it. Maybe just hook-up some more ink. What is it about Austin that makes me want more ink?
This is one of the biggest tests of my patience so far. I went from living somewhere with so many studios, venues, friends within walking distance or a subway ride. Everybody knew me. I could get up, sit-in, shout out. I'm a stranger again. What makes it a bit more challenging is that now I'm 37 instead of 23.
Yesterday a producer friend of mine here said "So why'd you decide to come to Austin? The music scene here is full of sissies. Why don't you go to L.A.?" L.A.. Hmmm. For some reason I've always thought of L.A. as the world's largest shark tank for musicians. A place where I'd go and surely have all my dreams crushed and then served in a rocks glass with Maker's Mark melting them to their final resting place. A place where 60 year old men covered in tattoos are still trying to "make it" with their neon Ibanez guitars and their stretch velvet jeans. A place where one shakes your hand while the other stabs your back. Hell, maybe I've just watched too many movies about Hollywood. I'm sure there's a lot I'd like about it.
The answer is simple: It's where my heart and my gut brought me (why do I always think these things are a compass for my life? I wonder if I should ignore them now and then). I went on to explain that the cost of living in Boston was taking a toll on me, I had hit a serious creative rut, and that even though I really had no interest in becoming part of the Austin music scene, it felt like a good place to hang out in for a while and get my ducks in a row, recharge, write, finish those dozens of songs that I started in Boston. Then he got me thinking. I started thinking about how more and more these days I'm chatting with friends in L.A., and an old flame from 10 years ago, who appears to be an industry heavyweight, has even reappeared, texting me, sending emails about his life there. Then the producer mentions there's an artist based in L.A. that he thinks I should work with. He goes on to tell me that he's got a session with him in a couple weeks and burns me a cd of his material.
I'm burned out from being primary songwriter, arranger, singer, bassist. In rapid fire I imagined being on the road with someone like Imaad Wasif, just playing bass, and singing backing vocals, and absolutely loving it. I fantasize about finding my musical other, with whom I'd write and piece new material together. No longer crabby me, cooped-up in my apartment, alone, writing about struggle and masturbation, and recording half-cocked bass lines to my little D8. There was a time, about 15 years ago, where I wanted to do everything myself. I did just that, and now I'm tired of it. I want to be a part of a creative team. You spend too much time creating things on your own, and your mind starts to eat itself. My mind was starving by the time I left Boston. Moving to a new place seems to help. Having creative input from a musical partner would be like the storm soaking the desert. I want someone to build the arc with me. I don't want to go on this trip alone.
The job that I worked so hard to get down here, well, naturally now that I'm here I don't want it. I don't want a job at all. I just want to throw my gear in a van and go play a month's worth of shows. I'm not against working hard. But I am very much against working hard for a huge company, losing about 2,500 (commute time included) hours of my life each year to something that has nothing to do with my art or music. It seems ridiculous. Time goes by so fast. How could I possibly go back to punching a clock. I know how: I just look at the pile of bills on the kitchen table and the state of my gear. Where the hell will the money come from? I keep answering "the money will appear when you need it." Sheesh. I'm such a fucking Sagittarius. I'm also getting to the point where I wonder what difference it makes whether or not I pay my bills. I'm not married. No boyfriend. No kids. No family that I'm all that close to. It's likely that when my time is up I'll end up in that crematorium that's the human equivalent to the dead letter office, where employees spend weeks trying to track down financial records and next of kin, just so my unclaimed ashes could be dumped into a hole with thousands of others, the grass punctuated with a small year marker.
I'm not really feeling that bleak. Just sayin'...tired of these things ruling my life. I sense Austin is just a station stop.
I like it here, but I don't see a big future for me here.
I had to take a bus to get to the print shop, so I could pick up my handbills for the show on 7/15. The bus took me to an area where most people drive and only shitheads walk. So if you're walking people look at you as if you're a vagrant or a runaway. No wonder. Most of them are. I kind of felt like one for a moment.
(On the other side was the gargantuan Fiesta mart, where about ten years ago me and my Bourbon Princess bandmates got very high and roamed around, laughing at the fact that they had golf carts parked inside the store for cruising the aisles. I went to the Mexican section and stared in wonder at shrink wrapped pigs feet, tongues, and hearts, giggling and feeling repulsed at the same time.)
On the way back my GPS with bus scheduling kept fucking-up. It was the first time I felt tempted to throw my iPhone into the storm drain. I got on the wrong bus 3 times. I remained calm and kept telling myself "you don't know the lay of the land yet. take it easy. Don't sweat it." But I kept thinking how it would only take me ten minutes each way if I had a car. I ended up at a bus stop along I-35, sitting with a white "loner" who was awkward but not creepy. Then there was the older black man who was drinking a 40 from a paper bag and insisted on describing all the ways he'd like to get to know my ass(literally my ass. Not me as a person) and the crack he claimed he could see (huh? I wasn't wearing low-rise this time. And I was wearing boyshorts. At best he could see a waistband) I chuckled at him and asked what kind of crack was he referring to? He laughed and then told a long-winded story, most of which I couldn't understand, about three different women. One blew him. One bought him a burger and smoked him up on crack. The third allowed him to "introduce his nine and half inches of lovin' in her rectum."
"Nice." Here comes the bus. Is this the right bus this time? Who fucking cares? Just get on it. Look at that sky. Keep looking and that glorious sky. I wrapped-up the evening having my bi-weekly serving of meat in the form of a chicken fried steak. The only word I can use to describe it would be "beige" (beige cuisine is very popular here), but I felt obligated to try it since it seems to be a big Texas thing. I'm glad I tried it. I'll never eat it again.
The big sky here makes up for the lack of ocean. And since our oceans are quickly becoming cesspools I can only really look to the sky as that mirror of hope and better days to come. That is, when the smog and pollen levels are low.