Monday, December 21, 2009

of December and alternate realities

This has been a busier month than usual, as Decembers are often wont to be. Five gigs on the books, plus at least one rehearsal, plus of course 37.5 hours every week on the daygig. And it's been no picnic there either. There's been a lot of shuffling these days, what with folks getting ready to retire and other folks getting ready to move into their spots--if we were a deck of cards(and who's to say we aren't?)we'd be getting pretty frayed around the edges.

Well I for one have been getting a bit frayed around the edges, whether I exist in card or corporeal form. My gigs covered every weekend, and as the month went, I wished at times that I'd left a free weekend in there as far as booking gigs, a 48-hr period where I could just catch my breath. Some time off.

And that's the problem! Only so much time to work with. If you work a dayjob, chances are you're doing it five days a week, roughly 40 hours per week. That leaves you with two days off every week, and if you have a sideline business like playing gigs, there goes at least one of them. Days, that is.

The actual experience of playing gigs is usually a positive one. I try and accept those gigs I think will be to my liking and avoid those I don't, and am usually okay. My only problem is the time expenditure, the fact that your weekend time is cut into. If you could somehow distill the experience of playing, the joyous interactivity of a good group, and remove the time constraints- the necessity of the event happening at a fixed point in time, You could both "play the gigs" and enjoy your weekend.

Perhaps the gig could itself be a sort of 'virtual reality' you'd experience on your computer or DVD Player, or perhaps the experience would be such that you'd have to enter another dimension to go through it. A nonlinear dimension. Perhaps something entered by a portal not unlike what Kurt Vonnegut Jr described as a Chronosynclastic Infundibulum. This is a funnel, a 'wormhole of the Universe', wherein the great truths reside". And then from there, you'd get the whole experience irrespective of time or space.

And that way, you'd still have your weekends. Makes sense to me anyway..

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Public Eye

I'm not so sure I want it anymore.

To be in the public eye, that is. Everybody who takes up an instrument, especially guitar or bass or drums or keyboards- the "rock band" instruments- dreams of being up on stage playing for hundreds, nay thousands, of people. Being admired by millions, having untold fame and fortune. Living the dream.

And at its best, who wouldn't want all that? All the money you could imagine, and thus a luxurious- I hate this word but it's the best I know to use here-lifestyle, one with all the creature comforts your little heart could desire: a fancy house with all the trimmin's, a fancy car(if that's your thing), a boat or two, a staff of servants to take care of your every need, plus all kinds of attractive folks who are yours for the taking- for those "other" needs..

Those who achieved stardom, especially after a period of struggling obscurity- two people come to mind here: cartoonist R. Crumb and actor Kevin Bacon- have reported that being able to "get girls" was something that came a lot easier once they were famous. Crumb in particular has spoken about how his fame brought the beautiful women to him that were heretofore only dreamt of.

I have had a few women in my life who've fancied me, thank goodness. One of them even married me. But "getting girls" has never really come easily. Thus this would be the aspect of fame n' fortune that would most appeal to me. That great unattained thing. You can keep all the other material possessions, just give me the babes I've pined over but never gotten.

Then again, I wouldn't want someone who was there just to spend my money or for some form of self-aggrandizement, like advancing their actress/model career. Let them go hang out with Hugh Hefner. I'd want them there because they liked my music, or something to do with me as a person.

It's a hard dream to give up. True, you do modify it- most of us anyway-between adolescence and adulthood, the dream of fame and fortune. Usually just miniaturize it, put it on a smaller scale(i.e. local or maybe regional, as opposed to worldwide), but it's rarely just completely abandoned. If I can't be a worldwide sensation, I'll be a local one.

All well and good. You probably won't make a fortune, but may well be able to make at least a workable living, and with perhaps some of those other 'fringe benefits'. I've seen some do fairly well as active local musicians. More power to 'em.

Me, I once made almost half a living as an active localer at one time. But what with being up on stage that much(and in front of the same people in the same places) I began to feel like I was up on display. Self-conscious, and from that a bit frazzled. And the 'fringe benefits' didn't happen nearly as often as I'd have liked. So for me, it didn't work. I'd at least have to diversify my locations, the places I played.

There are definite parallels of course to local and worldwide fame. Both locally and otherwise, you can enjoy the adulation of either a small or large following, and make a living from that same following- plus reap other various benefits. But the price tag is YOUR ASS!

The more well-known you are, the more of that ass is "owned" by your following. Well, certainly by the media, who feels that, to quote Howard Cosell, "the public has a right to know". When things are going well, you can bask in the bright light of media attention. But-and I've noticed this in many big celebrities, a certain golf legend to name one- if something should go awry, your ass is hung out to dry!! Your career(or at least your endorsements)can come to an ignominious end, or at least have that stain to it that you can't quite get out. That same bright light can burn your ass!

Some years back, locally, there was a certain newscaster who had a certain video that quickly made the rounds. He'd actually tried to get rid of it, and some curious spirit found it in the guy's garbage can. It spread like wildfire, or, perhaps more aptly, like a nasty metastasis in the local body that finally snuffed the sucker out. There was even a T-shirt announcing an eponymous film festival. And the funny thing about all this(in an inherently unfunny situation, at least as regards the ignominy on the part of the individual )was that as porn, it was really tame stuff!
That's the chance you take when your profession puts you in front of a lot of people. Extreme examples perhaps(though none is as much so as the Michael Jackson story, and of the media that crucified and then deified him), but still show the other side of fame.
I remember myself wishing for fame and fortune as a youngster, and even not-so-young'ster. But anymore I find myself pulling back from the whole 'public eye' thing. I'll always be a musician, and always a blogger as well(or some kind of half-assed writer). I love to play music and I love even more to write music. But my personality is too quirky and introverted to do well up in the bright lights-you'd think I'd know this by now. I'm better as a behind-the-scenes kinda guy, with the occasional gig in some public establishment.

For the most part, give me the gigs where you're off in a corner playing for some business's annual party(but still get to play your ass off), or a home-recording setup where I can get crazy all by myself. Out of the public eye, but still viewable out of a corner of it. There's still that remnant of the original dream...