Very excited to once again be playing keys with Emily Palen and her genre-defying group, KnightressM1, this Saturday at El Rio in San Francisco. An added bonus for me is that I will be sharing the stage with fellow Debora Iyall Group alumni (?) Robert Tucker on drums! Show starts at 9 PM, $7 gets you in the door. Also on the bill: Swoop Unit and Stymie and The Pimp Jones Luv Orchestra
Tags: El Rio, Emily Palen, live music, nightlife, performance, San Francisco
Tags: blessings, life, middle age, mindful, misery, negativity, pessimism, philosophy
I have never been good at counting my blessings; I’m far too negative for that. Those chipper, upbeat people on my Facebook feed (how did I even get these friends?) are constantly posting positive, life-affirming sayings, and it takes a great deal of will power on my part to not refute each and every one as oversimplifying, sugar coating or self-aggrandizing the true nature of our existence. Luckily I was taught not to say anything if I have nothing nice to say and so I remain, to most people, very quiet.
However, I sometimes feel the need to take a life inventory of sorts, just to remind myself how none of this makes any sense, but here I am and no matter what, it could always be worse.
Here then, in my most positively pessimistic perspective, is my list of miseries and how it could be worse:
1.) I make music that absolutely no one wants to hear. It’s my passion, my heart and soul, but apparently my heart and soul is lacking, boring, potentially dated and out of tune (do not tell me it’s because I’m a downer , not while The Cure and Morrissey are still touring).
It could be worse. I could be loaded with talent and still just as obscure and nowhere, like many of my truly gifted friends.
2.) My house is an absolute pig-sty having just spent the last week and a half enjoying a visit from a friend and her children and making little effort to contain the chaos.
It could be worse. I could have high expectations of my housekeeping abilities and spend the next week stressed out while working towards a presentable home. Instead I will take this opportunity to continue to enjoy the summer and host many more social engagements, knowing I won’t have to clean up much afterwards to maintain status quo. All the while I will not worry that my friends are secretly judging my messy home and deciding my best efforts are not good enough; I made no effort. Perfect!
There is the added bonus of boosting my friends’ confidence in their own housekeeping standards. Once they leave my place they will have a bright new perspective on how nice their homes truly are. I am a good friend!
3.) I’m turning 46 in a few weeks. How did that even happen? I was 27 just a minute ago and now here I am starting the 4 year countdown to 50. What have I even done with my life? Do I really need to go any further with the physical aging process? Because I know how it ends and I don’t like it. And . . .and . . .reading glasses!
It could be worse. I could still be living with the youthful optimism that it will all work out without any effort on my part. That was a big lesson I learned only in the past 6 or 7 years: if there is such a thing as fate, you have to get her number and harass her regularly to get her to work for you. Or you can just do the work yourself (easier).
Also gone is the underlying anxiety of where my life might take me because I finally know: it’s taken me right here, a messy home with a couple of kids who, I hope, are enjoying summer break with their mom, a woman who isn’t stressing over things that don’t matter that much.
Without being too optimistic, I’d like to say I am okay with where I am right now (although being at Comic Con this weekend would be good too). There’s still some road ahead with potential twists and turns, but I think I’m better at navigating it than I was in my youth. Or not.
Tags: film critic, indie, movie, music, San Francisco
I spent Saturday afternoon at The Opera Plaza Cinema watching Only Lovers Left Alive, exactly where I had wanted to see the movie when I first heard about it. While the film does have a very 90’s feel – Jarmusch, vampires, Tilda Swinton, a soundtrack of moody, heavy guitar, it did not allow me to time warp back to 1995 as I had hoped: Indie Movie Time Machine. You can travel back in time, but only while the movie is playing. No, I didn’t get that experience. Instead I felt anchored to my present reality, one in which I’m rather busy with my family and new music and the slightest attempt at starting my own business. It’s nice to be so connected to my current life, but I do enjoy getting lost in a good movie and I’m afraid this one just wasn’t powerful enough to make that happen.
When it was over, my fellow film goers agreed it was visually beautiful, but slow-paced, with moments of dry humor. It seemed to me that seventy percent of the main characters’ dialogue consisted of historical and scientific facts, a constant reminder of the ages and information the vampires had witnessed and absorbed in their long lives.
“Do you think it was written that way out of sarcasm or irony?” asked one of the women in our group. “I mean they were such snobs. Was he making a point about snobbery?” I’ll go with that. Perhaps the point is that the thinking-man’s vampire will become turgid, not with blood but knowledge that, while impressive, can become just as much a crutch as violence or melodrama when used so extensively. Or perhaps I’m the real snob here. . . But then, Tom Hiddleston.
Meanwhile, back in my everyday life, I’m excited to be part of KnightressM1’s upcoming show at the Milk Bar in San Francisco on June 5th. Violinist/vocalist Emily Palen is the creative force behind KnightressM1, and she is one of those rare people with a direct connection to the music god(dess). I first saw and heard Emily at The Red Devil Lounge with the band, Dolorata and she has since gone on to play and record with many groups in the Bay Area as well as the Foo Fighters. The music I’m helping her bring to the stage is more electronica influenced than the music she regularly performs with her power trio. It’s beautiful and compelling and I was immediately drawn to it. It’s also subtly complex and nuanced. It is definitely challenging me in regards to knowledge of my gear, Ableton Live, as well as my musicianship.
Here’s a song we will be performing on June 5th. Enjoy!
Tags: anxiety, failure, greif, hope, life, loss, writing
I’ve been meaning to write.
I’ve been meaning to write about pain and loss and grief and the importance of finding small joys. I’ve been meaning to write about uncertainty and inevitability, the uncomfortable position of navigating a friend’s mourning process in hopes of offering solace and support, and the even more difficult conversations you have with people for whom hope is not an option, but neither is defeat.
I’ve been meaning to write about my own anxiety and the endless one-note symphony of my creative failure. I’ve been meaning to write about the hard, dull thud in one’s soul when, just for a moment, you catch of glimpse of your place in the universe. I’ve been meaning to write about fear – fear of having traveled the wrong path for too long, the fear of aging and the unspoken powers of youth. I’ve been meaning to write about the inequities of physical beauty, and raw, tangible talent versus much-practiced, lesser abilities.
But when I sit down to arrange any of this in a reasonable, logical fashion I get stuck on how unreasonable and illogical it all is. And I feel helpless. I cannot give myself the attributes I do not possess and I cannot change the circumstances of those I see around me. And really, they aren’t in the same realm are they? Absolute loss and misguided expectations are two different aspects of the hard parts of life.
And so I haven’t written at all because I don’t know what to say.
I tell myself to keep seeking out the small joys – dancing in the living room with my kids, singing in the car, enjoying that first cup of coffee in the morning. I tell myself that as long as I’m alive and healthy with a roof over my head I can still work out the feelings of inadequacy and failure. I tell myself that the time to save face and hold back is over. There’s nothing to save; let people look and laugh or look and admire or ignore it all. But there really is nothing to be saved for later.
Give it all now. Give it all you’ve got.
I mess around like this all the time but rarely bother to record it. I’m not sure when I filmed this. Based on the length of my hair, probably a year or so ago.
For the gear heads:Korg Kaossilator Pro for drums, Moog Little Phatty run through a TC Electronics delay, Yamaha CS2x and a loop pedal.
Hope you enjoy it!