Sunday, March 28, 2010

Restated Mission/Vision - blah blah - Chapter 2: Circles

(continuing from here... the rest of the limited print zine thing - and just...a pondering look-around at idiosyncracies of music scenes at various levels - and preocupations with connections...revivalism... and whatever baseball-card mp3 type trip blogs might keep not to get to wound up - cuz we'll all whirl around again...and then again...and it keeps goin...)

Chapter 2: Circles

...Everything is dead after while – but…hmm, how can I put this without coming off exhaustively placid-egghead-asshole – If you could picture an empty tire rolling down a steadily slanting hill, roughly 30 degrees all the way down, enough to keep it rolling – well,, society, culture, seems to be, like a screaming laughing child propped up inside, inside this giant empty tire absent from some imagined monster truck, rolling down the hill, getting mixed around and steadily disoriented, always – we are progressing in some manner, yes, (and in my austere metaphor, downhill) but we continually come-back-around—to retreaded ideas and feelings and trends.

Picture whatever works best for you – a carnival’s rusty tilt-o-whirl, a tumble-cycling rickety dryer, a spinning vinyl record having its grooves widened and its form morphed with an endless, purgatory-esque rotation.

When I was young and naïve (instead of old and naïve), I asked Dan Kroha -(alternately known around Detroit as co-founder of the most sanctified band of the modern garage rock/neo-punk-rock music scene – the Gories and respected for his unmatched live dynamism, passionate, guttural musicality, and sharp wisdom and reverence for music history that’ll spin you off your stool)-- anyway…(sheesh)…I asked him, five years ago, what he thought of Detroit’s music scene – a question that can always only be applied to “what’s going on” within a six-ish month window...

…one gets asked this question and they think back to shows they’ve seen in the last four or five months and then they think in their head, quickly, about what they know their friends in the scene will be doing later on in a month, if they have big shows or if anyone’s recording a new record in their basement – who’s popular within our humble borders, who’s losing it, who’s beating dead horses, etc etc etc, ...all this flashes through one’s mind…at least, I think it does for me, when I get asked this question….

That said, when I asked Dan Kroha, he started into the distance (the distance-being the men’s room a dozen feet away from our standing positions at the side of a bar during a show), looked back at me and shrugged – which would have been an answer on its own – but then he said, “Scenes, ya know, they just go in circles.” And then he shrugged again.


Déjà Vu, again – like Groundhogs Day – you can get to one point in the circle and you can decide to feel frustration about something someone’s doing and about how that something is dead or how that someone doesn’t really know what they’re talking about –

Eventually, the wheel goes around – and that thing that you were mad about becomes popular again, or least conceded and shrugged off, because, damn it, we incorrigibly reproduce the things that inspire us –

If punk rock inspired us, then we’re gonna keep waving that flag or beating that dead horse. And the wheel goes around again – and that person who didn’t know what they were talking about – knows now, certainly, what they’re talking about and might even know more, now, than you, you who were so certain you had the answer to all things, by saying, simply, that this or that or this other thing or that next thing dead.

Now, what are we doing here? We’re just living.

Being a writer, or, at least being referred to as one, has lead to my becoming completely alienated with the middle-ground, the even-keel, the bland and the realist, the part that just shrugs and calls it what it is – the same muscle flexed by Kroha when he diagnosed the runaround ballyhoo of “scenes.”

I’ll get diary-esque again, and let you know, that while I type this, I have a copy of a fairly recent Chuck Klosterman book. Klosterman’s a writer that I’ve been told, every few months or so—by a different friend each time –that I, being a “music writer,” should read. He is a master at suturing musical tidbits and hipster knowledge into an everyday-man’s surreal travels through a world of people seeming unknowing of music’s influence upon their own everyday lives. It’s something I haven’t tried yet – because I haven’t gotten out of Detroit yet. But, that said, I just read a sentence that stuck in my craw –

Whilst writing about a macabre pilgrimage to the scene of a tragic fire that destroyed a hundred lives and an entire building in Rhode Island, Klosterman writes that the tavern had, now, become an “ad hoc cemetery,” immediately quipping that that’s pretty much the role most taverns play anyhow, in small towns. This is only after he wrote that each day on earth is like purgatory.

That’s the thing, (my longwinded point, apologies), about writers – is that we are tennis balls that can only bounce/land on (or near) the two extremes of the court– it’s a fault if we hit the (middle) net.

It's like...either: - Life is tragic; we, quite poetically, lay it out as a perversion or horror – bars are cemeteries…or American Idol watchers are zombies…or scenester assholes with big egos are smeared because they are defined exclusively by their on-stage behavior and not by their softer sides where they go visit their grandmas on weekends… or the scene is dead and we are tapping an empty keg and bands aren’t as good as they usedta-been…

Either that, or: - Life is glorious: it is flowery and inspiring and there is hope and reassurance…the spotlights present this soft, fuzzy hue upon the glistening eyes and pale skin of the passionate performer as the not-as-think-as-you-drunk-they-are crowd all stands rapt and quiet, swaying together in unity for this local band pouring their heart out on a Thursday while we all lighten our moods in this Michigan winter and look at each other, realizing how great the scene is and what a great community this is because there are five other shows going on somewhere else in the metro area with as many different genres on display and …we are in love with each other.

To hit the melodramatic extremes means we (writers)... are, hopefully, securing your interest, twisting it, manipulating it, leading it away like a pied piper. That’s why, as writers, it’s hard not to just sit in the middle and realize – hey – we’re just living.

We are living.

And in Detroit – that means that on weekends and a few weeknights, we pour into the local watering hole (most of ours have stages) to see and hear any variety of the army’s worth of local bands (there are likely more than 1000 in the tri-county area) …or, as is often the case, when “we” pour into the bars, “we” are probably amongst the musicians and we are plugging in, to play the songs we wrote back at our humble shacks, after days spent in offices or behind cash registers or in cubicles. We’re just living.

This is our life. There doesn’t need to be extra drama. Not if you don’t want it – There’s no need for hyper-scrutiny and there’s no need for exasperating insecurities.

There’s no need to prattle on about this or that – just come see it, hear it, call it what it is, have a drink, get to know someone and keep on living.

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