Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chaos Theory Meets Rumination

Strange how life moves - how some pick a path that leads them up *there* while others follow a path that leads them down *there*. No one ever knows until much later.

It was almost a decade ago now. In 2003 I left a cushy 40k dead-end-to-me job in Boston for a life of who-knows-what-the-fuck-will-happen 0k in NYC. No longer would I be a fucking web developer. I was now to be a permanent full-time musician.

If I could.

Do I regret the choice? No. But it has meant some... interesting times for me.

I admit I didn't enter New York City with the best mental and spiritual infrastructure. Musically I've been broken for a while. My confidence has been 50% at best since leaving Oberlin.

But this didn't matter to me. I was in NYC!!!

Anywho. I landed in a very interesting time for LGBT musicians. Outmusic was a rather centrifying force. Numerous musicians - largely in NYC but really across the country - had connections and there was really a feeling of moving _forward_ as queer artists.

It was during these times that I met and started to follow a rather captivating young man: Justin Tranter. A Berklee grad (ironically) he had an amazing stage presence and a rather scalpel-precise ability at songwriting. His band at the time was just as electrifying. I stood in sheer awe of his bassist[*].

The point I have bringing Justin up is that, a few years later, he cast off basically everything he'd done and reformed himself into the band now known as Semi-Precious Weapons. If you follow Lady Gaga, you may very well know who this band is. Certainly they had a cameo in her "Telephone" video.

The irony is that Lady Gaga apparently used to open for Semi-Precious Weapons. The Diva of the 00's - once a mere tangent to someone I knew. The connection is... baffling.

Oh, I'm sure if you asked Justin who "Toshio Mana" is, he'd probably scratch his head perplexed at best if not respond with an outright blank, "sorry - no clue." Maybe he'd remember the name Freddy Freeman. Probably "Outmusic".

But, at that time, I lost track of Justin. SPW just didn't catch me as much as he had solo. And ... well, life made it more and more difficult to keep up with his shows. I honestly couldn't tell you any of their tunes while I could still sing some of his older stuff.

Such is life.

In the meantime life took me down a rather different course. I won't pretend to have made the best of choices. I won't pretend to be the smartest person alive nor the most business savvy. In part I have my beliefs - some of which I've stood by, others I've sacrificed.

Regardless it's been years now. I've been homeless. I've slept on subways. I've been a failure. I've been a refuge in my own damnation. I've been my own, "behind the music" episode.

Where I am now is drastically different than where I expected to be. In some ways it fits better - I'm teaching music, I'm still working with James. In some, it's nowhere near good enough - I'm no longer in NYC, I'm not gigging enough.

But life changes so drastically and so quickly... What *is* one moment may have little bearing on what is the next. Do you fight now? Or fight later? It may mean everything and it may mean nothing.

You never know.

  • I remember getting a compliment from the guy after a gig I did as Daniel Cartier's bassist. I never quite believed it. I never felt I deserved praise from the guy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Progress or something like...

Yes, again with the silence.


Seriously, though, there have been some major changes in life. Back in April or May I FINALLY left that goddamned store - something I think was very definitely LONG overdue.

The story behind that is actually kind of amusing. The whole economic situation threw the chain into some turmoil - as it has with basically every sector, of course. There were some heavy changes in management and all of a sudden the pressure was on the store to axe all part time employees.

Yes. Seriously. Get rid of the people we don't have to pay additional shit for like health insurance.

O... K...

So the second-in-command of the store had a talk with me informing me that they needed me to work Wednesdays and, if I couldn't do this, my job was in jeopardy. Well I've been working at Settlement since before I took the Sam Ash gig. It's my best day there. I get paid roughly $25/hr there versus just over minimum wage at the store.

Oh. And I actually LIKE teaching! Guess what I was NOT going to kiss goodbye?

A couple days later I was at the school getting done with my teaching duties. I walked downstairs to put my roll sheet away and fill out my time card. The branch director turned to me and asked if I was still working at Sam Ash.

"It's funny you ask," I told him and then laid out the whole OMGWTFBBQ I was in.

"Ah. What would you think about working here in the reception desk?"

Needless to say I was floored. I went from insane near-melt-down stress to euphoria in such a short time... Yes, I HAD fantasized about getting fired and no I was not horrified at the reality of the situation. But to have an option like working at the school more just sort of fall into my lap?


So a couple days of serious thought pass and I gleefully gave my two weeks notice at the store. (Ironically one guy quit and I was suddenly very much NEEDED. But so goes the karma, right?)


Life since then has been an interesting roller coaster. I'll spare the details for now and just say that, overall, I am *MUCH* happier. I'm paid less per hour but saving so much on time, travel, and sanity that I can't even begin to complain about leaving. There's some bullshit I'm getting sick of and the honeymoon has sort of worn off. But... yeah. NO SAM ASH!!!

Still, I'm actually now in a rather... interesting position. I have an opportunity to get more involved with some of the programs. Specifically songwriting.

I'm actually VERY excited at this notion. I'd love to teach theory more and I'd love to teach songwriting. But of course it does bring up that whole, "well look at the not-so-kid-friendly stuff I've written" pink elephant that's been sitting on my table.

Yeah... *cough*

So I'm at that juncture in my life where I have to evaluate that rather openly gay stuff I've written and figure out how to... address it in the context of children or non-adults. I don't want to completely back into the closet of course. But I don't think some of my lyrics would win parents over - even with the queerness aside!

At the moment I simply took the two songs in question and made them "fan-exclusive" on ReverbNation. But if you just google my name... Yeah. Open secret time!