Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Whatup, Monkeyshines:

Yeah so I know it's been a minute. Or two.

I feel as if I've been away, on a ship, which took me to an island where I had to complete an obstacle course of ropes, walls, swings over swampy pits and froggy peats, hot dog eating contests and guitar solo playoffs. I had to write the perfect pop song in six minutes (it was called "lavender," in six-eight); I had to make the cutest boy in a group of 25 people kiss me inside of five minutes; I also had to sew an American flag by hand. Sweet Lord, I am tired.

I've been gone, I've been far, far away, and all I can say is: It's good to be home.

Thank you for leaving the light on.

While my soul was off on Obstacle Island, my body was here in H-wood, dealing with Real Life. I had some big deadlines. I had some big dates. I had a dying dog. I had a roommate crisis, kind of. I had a dying car crisis and a DSL meltdown. I drank a lot, smoked even more, didn't sleep a bit. I am tired.

This is Life, I guess.

What did I get from it?

Many things. Toppermost in my mind is, of course, the sweet-sweetass American flag Converse hightops, purchased Saturday afternoon on Broadway in downtown L.A. Me and a very special friend were strolling around in search of "crazy crap"--preferably crazy Asian T-shirts that say things like, "Tennis Sky" and "Nothing Last Forever But the Tomato" and such. No such luck, but we did get the sweetest pairs of matching American flag Converse you ever did see.

This made it all worth it, and as we strutted down the boulevard, it was impossible to ignore the stares of disbelief and self-doubt from passersby, wondering where it had all gone wrong for them. Wondering at which point they had lost the infinite coolness.

I should have been at Coachella, of course, and I could have gotten in for free with press passes and everything, but I turned it down. I refuse to believe that is a failure. Just because I dig rock music doesn't mean I fancy getting smushed under a brutal sun with a bunch of stinky druggies. That is not my scene. I got all the rock I needed this weekend, my way.

So today I started a new life: I got DSL, finally. The best thing about this, far as I can tell at the moment, is that I can finally read Tony Pierce's phat phat-ass blog.

Over the weekend I watched the White Stripes' performances on Conan, Tivo'd by my friend Kim. The first two rocked but the third was "The Hardest Button to Button," which is just a lousy song, by Stripes standards, and I can't imagine why they think it is worth playing on Conan. They looked fabulous, and had a large black bouncer onstage with them who prevented Conan from touching them. This was cool. Jack is clearly out of his mind. His hair is getting long and feathery and when he tosses it back he looks like David Cassidy, in the good way. Meg was outrageously lovely in long dresses with bare feet and big Loretta Lynne hair. So cool.

Last week I caught Evan Dando's gig at McCabe's Guitar Shop, a tiny rustic venue that seats maybe 100. Me and Kim were in the second row. He came out in the same ski sweater he wears in all his pictures, with a messy folder bulging with scraps of paper, and his acoustic guitar. He began to play and realized he had left his cord backstage, so he ran up the stairs for it. He has a pretty shiny black cat of a guitar.

He tried to play a song called Green Eyes but continually fucked up the prechorus. He couldn't find the right chord. So he said fuck it and went on to the next song. Later in the show he tried again, and a man in the audience yelled out that he might want to try B flat. So he did that, and it worked, and he smiled his beautiful enchanted smile, and sang, and between lyrics said, "thanks, man!"

He did everything you wanted: "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You," "Drug Buddy," "Stove," "It's A Shame About Ray," and an incredibly beautiful song I don't know whose lyrics went something like: If it's love you want, open your arms up wide. He had a wedding ring. He's in love. I imagine he and his wife have a deeply physical, human, sweaty love that flourishes on road trips and in motel rooms. I wonder if they do drugs. I wouldn't be surprised. but I also wouldn't be surprised if they don't.

He took a long time to relax, fumbling, fucking up strumming a lot, fucking up lyrics. He was nervous and awkward as a boy can be. I decided that this is the awkwardness a junkie experiences when he is clean. It's all so much harder, so much sharper.

The set was short--maybe forty minutes, and the audience wasn't clapping enough for an encore. So Kim and I did our best to whip the crowd into shape and get a noise going, and eventually he reappered. This was the longest encore I've ever seen, probably another thirty minutes of songs, including most of the hits and a cover of "Heroin," which became a Velvet Underground medley, no joke. "Who Loves The Sun," "There She Goes," and I can't remember what else. He missed lines and screwed up, but his voice was thick and clear. At one point he felt the need to sing so loud and pure, he had to turn away and sing at the wall, to let it resound clean and without distortion from the mike. He turned away from us with his head down, as if he were going to vomit, and sang at the ground, and it filled up the whole space. He's got a voice like crazy.

It was just a guy who really loves music. A really special child who's still got it. Star quality.

I have a friend who is a songwriter. He tries to write in a way that is not natural to him because he is trying to prove something. It's great, actually--but his own, natural voice is so pure and true, it'll make daisies cry, I tell you. I am waiting for the day when he writes with his own special voice, and the world can be blessed with his dreams of love and tender sorrow.

Really, though, in a way, I'm just talking about myself.

And speaking of me, I now have to have to have to go to sleep. i went on a two-hour walk tonight in Hollywoodland so i would sleep tonight. I walked by Rivers's house, accidentally of course, but the lights were off.

Lately I've been too tired to sleep, and too hungry to eat.

Wish me luck!



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