Notes From The Flip Side: 12.05.2004
"You think that just because it's already happened, the past is unfinished and unchangeable? Oh no, the past is cloaked in multicolored taffeta and every time we look at it we see a different hue."
An Unfinished And Underexplored Idea ...
My life frequently seems odd in that the people who support me most strongly frequently seem to be the people who have suffered most at my hands; that the inadvertent harm I've caused did nothing but make them believe in me more. Perhaps it's because they see what I could be in ways that I can't - maybe they see possibility for the future where I only see wreckage in my wake.
Insomnia Is Kicking My Ass.
I've had about four hours sleep in three days. Nothing is different. Nothing has changed. I just can't sleep. I can lay in bed for hours and not doze off. I realized how bad it was today when I was almost falling asleep at work, when I was so tired that I was almost crying for no reason at all. I managed to get a few hours today, but I went to bed at 6 p.m. ... only to wake up a few minutes ago at 11:47 p.m. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to try to do something to get this sorted out. In the meantime, all I know is that tea, milk and honey, meditation, and yoga haven't helped. A quick trip to the doctor's and another prescription - Ambien this time. It's helping so far, but I'm not sure that it's a long-term solution ... and I really don't like this notion of better living through chemistry.
I'm increasingly convinced that most people don't see the world the way I do. Mellie and I headed downtown tonight to check out the holiday lights. I should first explain that downtown is maybe half-a-dozen blocks in any direction - a 10-minute walk from the center of downtown will put you deep into a residential area. For that matter, walking 10 minutes from downtown pretty much gets me home, but that's another story. I should also explain that it's getting colder out here - we had about six inches of snow on the ground for Thanksgiving; right now, it's 32 degrees, high 20s with wind chill.
At any rate, we were turning into a small garage to park and saw a lone skater - he was a teenager, maybe 15 or 16. He got out of the way of the car and waited until we had passed before he got on his board again. While Mellie and her sister got out of the car, I watched him busting ollies and nollies into 50-50s and 5-0s on a six-inch curb. It seemed like he tried to link everything - kickflip or shove-it into a grind, then ollie out.
I said something about that - words to the effect that it made me happy to see it - and Mellie's sister launched into some spiel about how she's done flags in colder weather than this. But that wasn't my point. See, I don't really know that kid from anyone ... but I know him. I grew up skating like that, only not as well. I spent hours carving driveways in the bedroom communities of San Diego County; I ollied onto curbs and held 50-50s for as long as I could keep my balance. No one was around to watch; when people were, they were usually trying to kick the shit out of me - usually, it was just me, my skateboard and a shitty Radio Shack tape player blasting Black Flag or The Ramones.
I got older and graduated, went to college and buried a shitload of people, and in 1998 or 1999, I rode my bike to a skate shop in Mira Mesa and walked out with a new deck strapped to my back, hell-bent on figuring it all out again. I was going to remember how to skate if it fucking killed me.
It took me all of about 15 minutes to realize that there was no way my knees could take it anymore - not after all those bails when I was a kid. Not after all the times I had to get stitches and all the times I should have; not after all the stupid shit I've done. But I still managed to have fun carving loading docks on weekends in the industrial parks of Mira Mesa - in those years, it was about the only fun I had and the only excuse I could find to get out of the beige apartment complex I was living in with someone who didn't love me.
I still have that deck. I mostly use it for moving now. I wish my knees weren't all but blown out. I wish skating in the 1980s hadn't been as much of a popularity contest as it seemed to be (at least where I was), because I wish I could have actually learned something from the people who were better than me. I wish it hadn't had all those bullshit cliques because someone might have taught me something or maybe my buddy John and I could have ridden some of the rich kids' half-pipes instead of looking for a ditch that had anything resembling smooth concrete and finding nothing but cops, redneck assholes in pickup trucks and no trespassing signs.
And sure, maybe that's a lot to read into seeing a kid skating in a parking garage for a few minutes, but he was skating alone in weather that couldn't have been over 40 degrees and he wasn't fucking around - he didn't land everything, but he landed almost everything and when he bailed, he kicked the board over, skated back to his starting point and did it again and again until he nailed it. That's what I'd call soul skating and that's worth more than a crate full of 411 DVDs.
It Must Be Love.
I'm a geek, a big one. I love music. Pretty much all of it. And apparently, The Continuum International Publishing Group has figured this out because they've published a series of books for me. The 33 1/3 series features people like Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz, Franklin Bruno and Joe Pernice writing about some of their favorite records which include, to date, The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," Elvis Costello's "Armed Forces, The Smiths' "Meat Is Murder," Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures," Radiohead's "OK Computer," the first Ramones record, The Replacements' "Let It Be" ... the list goes on.
And consider this the beginning of my lobbying campaign to write the monograph on Hüsker Dü's "Warehouse: Songs And Stories." I've already sent the first email - I suppose this means that it might be time to consider breaking out my old notes so I can get back to work on writing that fucking book.
After all, it's only my favorite record ever and I've already forgotten more about music than most people will ever know - that has to count for something, right?
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- Dan Savage took a look at the election and realized that it really isn't red states vs. blue states - it's cities vs. everyone else.
- Remember Sorry Everybody? Apparently, those apologies are being accepted.
The Bars. Elvis Costello. Broken Social Scene. Reeve Oliver. Vladislav Delay. Glenn Branca. Nico. Múm. Mates Of State. Handsome Boy Modeling School. Pavement. Owen. Philip Glass. A Certain Ratio. Tara Jane O'Neil. Savath & Savalas. Sun Ra. Al Green. Albert Ayler. Jackie McLean. David Bowie. Art Blakey. Grant Green. Lightnin' Hopkins. Roxy Music. Beth Orton. Queensrÿche. David Sylvian. Sparklehorse. John Lee Hooker. Kenny Burrell.
Karl Sabbagh, "The Riemann Hypothesis"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"