Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day one hundred and seventy one ... His master's voice.

Hi there.

Welcome to summer.

I don't know about you, but I have a pig roast to play.

No, I'm not talking about sitting around at the Friar's club, ribbing Officer O'Donnell about that time he busted a mime on a unicycle because he thought the guy was stealing parts from the bike shop.

Oh, that made all the papers.

No, I mean the other kind of pig roast. It's an all-day affair. There's gonna' be food, and music, and fun times.

So I'll be a bit busy.

But I want to get back to daily posting like I intended back on January 1 when I sat down on that oh-so-snowy day and began tap, tap, tapping away on my keyboard.

That was a long time ago. I was still reeling from everything that had happened, not just over the week that had preceded it, but over the twenty-two odd years that preceded that.

I know that there is a whole lot of reading material on this here blog, and I know I would have to have a decent amount of time to get through it all.

But day one is an important post.

It sets the tone. It casts the angle. It defines the direction.

And I wouldn't be here on day one hundred and seventy one, if I didn't have a point of reference.

So like I said, it's important.

A few months back, Scot Coar, a wonderful musician/engineer/producer friend of mine called me up. He said he had been reading my stuff and thought it was simply gangbusters. He asked me if I had ever thought about doing some recordings of it, a la "This American Life," or "Prairie Home Companion" or any number of NPR related spoken-word programs which I am very fond of.

I said yes, Scot, I had.

So I went to the studio (called Sow's Ear) which is in Easthampton, one brisk March afternoon, and we spent a few hours working on some entries. 

I picked up a guitar and right there almost without thinking, wrote the tag line that you will hear before, at the end, and perhaps in the middle of each post.

It is so NPR.
We called it a day after recording 6 entries--the first 6--and a couple of weeks later the finished entries started showing up in my inbox, complete with incidental music written and performed by Scot, himself (not including the cello on day one--that's somebody famous).

And it's taken me this long to get around to figuring out how to put them up on this here blog. But I have, and it's time.

So, I present you with Day one ... written on New Year's Day 2008, on a snowy, bright, and frigid day, knowing full well that, even though the court system, the banks, and most stores were closed, that soon they would open again and I would have to start digging my way out of this massive well I had built for myself.

And now it's summer.

How's about that.

So, here you go. In all it's infancy, is all seven minutes and four seconds of "Day one" of Fearless By Default.

I hope you like it.

Look for Day two thru six in future installments.

I've included the text, complete with punctuation and grammatical errors for those who would like to read along a la "Make Way for Ducklings," et al.

Just hit the little right-facing arrow below and you should be all set. Just make sure you have the sound up or it'll make both of us look bad.

Thanks for reading and listening.


It is New Year's Day 2008.

No one can touch me. Not today.

All offices are closed, transportation is scarce, and I live on a dead end street. It's snowing like mad. Big, bright, heavy snowflakes. I can see footprints if I look for them. And then, in a matter of minutes, they are gone.

Classical music is playing on the radio in the background. It is interrupted every so often by the sound of a jolly, but not snidely enthusiastic DJ. I picture him looking not unlike Santa Claus in civilian clothes. He guffaws and chums around with the listener as he describes the significance of the music he is about to play. He notes how apropos the selections seem along with the wintry New England scene outside. I know, however, that he is in the basement of a municipal building without a scrap of window on the world. No one can touch him. Not today. 

Today he sits alone with the Masters, two CD players, and a giant mixing board, lovingly preparing the next round of magic for the ears. I could call him with a request but why? He is creating the soundtrack to my present world and somehow it is perfectly in sync. He knows his stuff. I'm just going along for the ride. Right now the ride is pure Capra: black and white yet timeless and vibrant. In a word, perfect.

Today is a day when so many people have time, some by duress, to sit and think about the things that will transpire in the following 364 and a half days. A great deal are feeling the effects of a long night of debauchery. Some continuing on so as to stop their head from throbbing with pain and to allay the plans for the following year just a little longer. Countless people have started to enact countless resolutions. Some are familiar and frayed but still usable. Some are foreign and excitedly fresh. Some arrive subconsciously in costume, astonishingly recognizable only from the faintest of features. Others still, are content in the state of their union--whomever, or whatever it may be with.

Presently, I sit alone at my desk. The other half of my world connected by phone. Even more removed as the phone has no cord, no connection, no tracks. Just a signal which comes in and out in varying strengths to my ears and from my mouth until the little beeps tell me I've been talking too long and have to switch to the one that is connected. That one's just a little louder and has a slight buzz brought to me, no doubt, by the electronic devices that I am currently staring at. It's awkward and has over sized buttons that are not unlike a Toss-Across for grown ups.

No one can touch me. Not today.

Tomorrow I start to clean up the mess I have created over the last 37 years. I probably shouldn't count the first few formative ones when you're not exactly in charge of your situation, but then again ...

Today I took down last year's calendar. I get one every December at my bank and it is a decent free score-card for the coming months. Last year's one is full of upcoming appointments that I may or may not have kept. On certain days I have drawn an X in marker or pen. Each X represents a day I did not do what I know I shouldn't. Some months, all the days are completely crossed out. Some have weeks with 3 at a time, and then a few off ... a few at a time, and a few off. If I squint my eyes and run them across the days and weeks in succession it is not unlike the way I picture the sound from a reel of motion picture film to work. The film in this case is fine. The projector however, is defective. The dialogue runs for a sentence or two and then haphazardly slows, accelerates, slows again, accelerates, plays at correct pitch, then speeds up at a fever pitch and suddenly, furiously, flies off the reel leaving an out of control flap-flap-flap-flap-flap sound until the projectionist notices and comes to the rescue. In my movie theater I am the film, projector, and the operator. The house is full. No one has asked for their money back yet because they have hope. They are patiently waiting for the person in charge to correct the situation so they can enjoy the communal experience at hand. We are currently somewhere in the middle of the story and, not to be too cliche, are waiting for the inevitable plot twist.

But this calendar, as I have said, is new. It is a virginal template. Nary a speck of ink has made it's way to the pages good, or bad. The only marks on it are the fingerprints which I have left putting it up on the wall--marks the eye cannot see. As I approach this new year I have a plan. No more X's. Because putting an X through a day in which I have achieved my goal allows for the idea that somewhere amongst the gels which run together in succession that there is, or will be a break, an impasse, a mistake. I have no more room for mistakes and I can't afford to lose one patron who will walk out angrily and demand their money back. It's bad enough that they spent their hard earned time patiently waiting for me to right my obvious wrongs, but to have it happen even one more time would be unforgivable. People don't go out as much as they used to anymore. We all know that.

No one can touch me. Not today.

The snow has stopped and my tea has gone cold. Night soon will hold hostage the beautiful sparkling light that has spent its precious time with me today. Somehow, in my first few conscious hours of 2008, I feel as if I have eclipsed all of my waking hours of the last year. This is good. This has substance. This is my life but it is not mine alone. Whether I am willing to admit it or not, I must share this life, this spark, this blood, this lust, this malaise, excitement, laughter, sadness, joy, hope, envy, desperation, and contentment. I must share this tiny space I occupy with 6 billion other people all involved in the same production. I must be selfless or I will, as they say, chew up the scenery. As much as I want to know what happens in the end, for now I will settle for a dramatic pause.

No one can touch me. Not today.

Thanks to Deepa from Bangalore for the tips on installing the audio widget, and thanks to Fileden for the free storage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very sharp, Al. Boy, you sure can talk. Thank you.