Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Double Down

On this day of royally wedded bliss, my mind wanders to thoughts of inbreeding. But also true love. And the commitment cemented by two willing (so I surmise) adults with good skin and many years of smiling and waving in their future.

I'm also reminded of some advice I once gave a friend who, like many men, could not decide if the one he was with was the one he should always be with. A difficult question fraught with complications.

The idea there is one person in the world we are destined to marry is a fantasy created by romance novels and Hollywood. Like an all-powerful diety in the sky judging us while creating fuzzy bunnies and causing earthquakes and tsunamis, it's nice but a little dangerous to believe in.

I'm as happy as I've ever been. I owe the vast majority of that happiness to my wife. We're as suitable for each other as I could imagine.

And yet there are 6.8 billion people in the world, 311 million in the United States. I took a job in New Jersey only because the one I wanted in Florida didn't come through in time. The girl I married just happened to work there. Fate? Bullshit. Just some good luck. But it's foolish to think if I didn't take that job that I couldn't have moved to Florida or Ohio or Mississippi (well, maybe not Mississippi) and found someone else suitable to marry. Or maybe I would have had to move around a little more before finding someone. Or maybe something else would have happened to lead me to shun marriage. Or to want to wait longer. Or to (I hope not) settle earlier for the wrong person.

Life does what life does. You can't really second-guess decisions while in the middle of making them. And by the time you know the right answer, years have past and there is no going back.

We only get one life. It would be great if I could spend one of them as a newspaper reporter married to a girl from Chicago and another as a touring musician married to the road and another as an organic farmer living off the land with five dogs and a pig. If we're lucky, we might be able to have two or three careers (though usually only excel at one).

Marriage is a little different. People grow old and grow apart. People die early. Some people aren't meant to marry. Men in particular, who seem hard-wired for a different template. I suppose living in a city exacerbates the problem, as you are surrounded by an abundance of possibilities.

It's like Blackjack. Many good relationships at first are like getting dealt 16 against a dealer showing a 7. Sure, you are supposed to hit, but that's a risk. And odds are you're going to bust before you even get to see his hand. But when you're young, you get more hands to play. So it's not necessarily a tragedy if you lose what you've got for the promise of something better. (Of course, in this analogy, you are tossing your hand away the second you decide to see another card. Very hard to keep what you've got while hitting on someone else, trying to reach that perfect hand).

Or maybe you've got something going that's more like 12 against a dealer showing a 4. Some risks are worth more than others. It depends on your mindset. If you like freedom, play it loose. But I think the point is that while you can almost always risk losing something solid for the hope of something better, at some point we all get tired of playing the game. And we settle.

This is a vexed word. Because while settling down -- in a relationship, in a shared home, in a more stable life -- we are also fundamentally settling on the person we're with. Some settle for someone less ideal than they should. This is for others to judge, more than the guy in question. But we ALL settle. There's something less than perfect about every girl on the planet. No matter who we are talking about. Jessica Alba, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meier, Scarlett Johansson, Maya Angelou, Janine Garofalo, Condoleeza Rice -- whoever -- there is someone who is sick of fucking her. And sick of talking to her. Sick of something about her. But eventually, if they're lucky, someone will settle on her, too.

(The same applies to guys, of course. Likely more so. Guys are scum.)

I'm no one to offer advice or insight. But I suppose what I want to say is that happiness should not be treated lightly. If you don't have it, get it. If you've got it, keep it going. And have faith that -- because you are a kind and thoughtful person -- everything will work out in the end. And that there really is no end, except the very last one, after which nothing really matters anyway.

Music, Music Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

This Bill Wyman piece from Slate last week struck a nerve.

Wyman (no, not that one) discusses the sheer abundance of music currently available on torrent sites, hubs and other nether-regions of the internet. And he muses on the current predicament of latter-day rock snob collectors who no longer hold a monopoly on rare recordings. These days, rarity is more of a state of mind. Almost nothing is difficult to obtain with some searching, the right software and enough cheap storage.

Ever since I got my first cable modem eight years ago, I've been feeding a bottomless habit for bootlegs. There are guys with every single Dead show or every recording from Neil Young's 1976 tour. All for the taking with a click.

In the days I discovered my musical tastes as a teenager, life was different. I can remember scrambling for blank tapes after coming across someone with a decent low-generation collection and painstakingly dubbing them at 2x speed and then -- before I got a cable modem and a computer with a burner -- paying some asshole $75 for a 3 CD Springsteen show.

(The sites I frequent follow strict rules about what people share and how they share it. You can't post anything commercially available. Only stuff that the artists haven't officially released, so you aren't really taking money out of their pockets. And selling stuff that you should be sharing is complete crap. The whole idea is to let the free music flow like water.)

Now, I don't really want it all. Like Wyman writes, Lester Bangs' fantasy of having the worlds' music stacked in his basement makes little sense in 2011. But I do want the best of it all. Complete with artwork and CD cases, which leaves my wife wondering forlornly if every wall of our home will eventually be covered with shelves for music and DVDs. Perhaps.

I can't help myself. Just last year has produced stuff like: pristine Elvis Costello and U2 shows, both evenings of Eric Clapton's 1973 Rainbow Concerts with Pete Townsend, Ronnie Wood and Steve Winwood, an embarrassment of Springsteen material from his earliest forays with Child and Steel Mill to the sick full-album shows that finished up the last tour, Fleetwood Mac from the Rumours tour, Warren Zevon all over the place, Elton John solo and drunk but in full command in Scotland in 1973, Little Feat, REM, The Beatles acoustic demos for the White Album, lots of Lou Reed, even more Van Morrison, just about every worthwhile recording by The Band (including their complete set at Woodstock), Dylan from the earliest folk scene solo gigs to his fervent born-again phase (a lot more interesting than I ever thought it would be) to his grizzled musical rebirth in the late 90s), The Clash, Elvis, Wilco, and so much more I can't remember off the top of my head.

So yeah. Music life is good. And our next place might need a bigger basement.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Regal Beagle

An excellent profile of Andrew Sullivan, the world's best blogger. Better than me, even. Really. Hard to believe, but true.

Blow Job

Is there a more environmentally unfriendly device than a leaf blower?

Probably. Cars and cows come to mind (methane from cow and pig farts trap heat in the atmosphere more than carbon dioxide). But the idea of a dude hauling a backpack full of gasoline just to clean up the yard seems...unnecessary.

Don't get me wrong. Some jobs are too big for a rake. And the leaves and dead branches have to go somewhere or they'll clog our catch basins and whatnot. But walking the dog this morning, I passed a trio of dudes blowing all the winter remnants from yards, across the road to the woods. And then we passed an idling oil truck as the driver filled up someone's home tank with heating oil. Somewhere (I imagine) a cow farted. And I thought to myself: This just seems unsustainable.

I mean, if everyone in China and India continues to want their own cars and hamburgers and steak dinners, something has to give.

Anyway, that's what was on my mind this morning. I'm sure Donald Trump has it all figured out. Though the stuff that comes out of his mouth tends to be even more noxious than pig farts.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Where Can I Find A Woman Like That?

So I understand that Rick Springfield wishes he had Jessie's girl. But I don't know. Maybe it was the feathered hair or the skinny ties. But don't you also get the sense that he's got an unusual interest in Jessie himself? Just asking.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Big Time BS

So we're watching the Kids Choice Awards Saturday night with my 5-year-old niece and there's a popular boy band up for an award. Perhaps you have young children and know about this. But the band is called Big Time Rush.

Now I know kids today have no awareness of New Kids on The Block, much less the legendary Canadian prog-rock band Rush. But shouldn't someone in the corporate music and television world have told the corporate music and television moguls responsible for these pansies that they were co-opting the name a great and important music act?

I mean, really. Big Time Rush? You can't just take a band's name and tack on "Big Time" and then go about your business like this other, much better, band does not exist. Why not just name your boy band Big Time Beatles? Or Big Time Led Zeppelin. Shit, it would be just as bad if you chose Big Time Katrina and The Waves. Is all I'm saying.

Big Time Rush. Please. Next thing you know, they'll start wearing space-age kimonos.