Friday, March 14, 2014

Basements, the Jammys, and YouTube

            Seventeen months ago, I moved for the 24th -- and hopefully last -- time in my 39 years on this planet. It’s of little interest, but that’s a move almost every 19 months, and now, having averaged that out, I’m a little impressed that I’m as stable as I am. A little. Put into perspective: I’ve always had clothes on my back and food to eat, so I’m not handing out awards to myself or anything here. Put into perspective: My wife has moved about eight times, and half of those include college-years moves. To my point: She’s got the stable market cornered.

the current homestead

            After move seven, I logged my longest-standing stay at one address. This was the house my mother bought after her second marriage ended and we, having bounced around a bit upon our return to Kansas City, could finally unpack for real. It’s of little interest, but she put a for-sale sign in her yard a couple of weeks ago, so that’s pretty weird. The point, though, is that that home established a literal and a figurative foundation for us. My sister and I, along with our mother, were able to plant some roots; we had a basement. Now I don’t mean to imply that you can’t get your human-being act together if you don’t have a basement. You totally can. What I mean is that it’s pretty nifty, if you can pull it off, to have one.

            But that’s a pretty big if.


            Having a basement in your home might be the biggest double-edged sword in American residence. It puts you in a zero-gravity spot. A basement will tell you a story about a house before you even live there. You take a look around a furnished one when you’re house shopping and you get a feel for the level of functionality it contributes to -- or deducts from -- the home. Then, when you see that same basement empty, it’s a curious thing. It forces questions upon you, makes your mind try to picture the thousands of footsteps that have traversed its floors. Once you’ve moved in, it takes the temporary role of afterthought, and once you’re settled, that zero-gravity spot begins to lurk until, eventually, you’re forced to hover over the conundrum of basement ownership. It’s there, in that labyrinth, that you will wander. If you’re lucky, you will not become a permanent resident of no-man’s land. If you’re lucky, you’ll recognize the potential for neutral-zone infraction and recognize that a basement offers you two choices: Get your shit together or lose it forever.

the divorce house

            I’ve seen both scenarios in other folks’ homes. The one choice resembles high-utilitarian employment in place: Most of the area has a household use associated with it, while a smaller portion encompasses the oft-needed storage space. The other choice is, more often than not, like a scene from Hoarders. And you’ve got a couple of perspectives on those situations. They’re typically broken into two camps: a) the people that save almost everything; and b) the people that throw away almost nothing. The ‘a’ group are actually organized, using not only wall-to-wall space, but floor-to-ceiling as well. They have, from time to time, stacked so many boxes and bins and tubs that there is literally only one path to follow in their basement.

            It would take hours to locate certain items, minutes for the entire space to ignite, and in those scenarios, the idea of dusting or sweeping or having any kind of pest-control management in place vanished years ago. Folks from the ‘b’ side of things are damaged people, people that aren’t worried about insects or rodents inhabiting their space with them. They probably don’t care if there’re other animals dwelling there, either. It’s a hope, though, for any visitors, that there are no dead people buried in their layers of their piles, or any alive persons spending any significant time down there. I think that most of us either have that admirable finished thing going on in our basements, or we’re teetering on the edge of falling either direction, which is where I am right now. Most of our basement functions in an appropriate fashion, but there are portions and corners of it that intimidate.

our first post-Atlanta house

            Most of this comes from my half of the marriage and a lot of my moves leading up to it, and the fact that, for 28 years, I was dragging my basement around. Sure, I’d address it every four or five years, but a basement left untended has a sneaky way of replacing what you discard. It’s like a small pack of Mogwai in the form of things that live down there and in the quiet evenings of winter, they find ways to sneak themselves post-midnight snacks, to get themselves wet when necessary. It takes on a life of its own, and if you’re not careful, it’ll get in the way of yours.

            That home, though, that my mother purchased almost 30 years ago, the one that’s on the market now, was sort of a basement-transition spot. For starters, we lost a fair amount of stuff in the move back to Kansas City. It’s relative to this post to mention that in that there were keepsakes and memorabilia and bicycles and grade-school projects and such, but it’s only relative because, well, it’s only stuff. I call it a transition spot, though, because that house was, in many senses, a new starting point. There was more stuff to collect and new uses to assign the space down there, like playing ping pong in the early years, lifting weights in the middle years, and then lots of getting wasted and lying about it in the later years.

Mom's house

            My room was my space in that home, and I forged a ton of memories in it. I spent, as mentioned, hundreds of hours holed up in there listening to music. I also tinkered with Legos and played a ton of Nerfoop. I practiced the guitar and made mix tapes for girls. It was in that room that I perused my first Playboy and slept off my first hangover. As high school waned, I’d replaced my Sports Illustrated posters with Led Zeppelin ones, and on one wall, I had a mini shrine for Eddie Van Halen. I spent the late hours of the evening cramming in my studies while smoking cigarettes out the window, and I logged many a morning biding every precious second for still another moment’s sleep. And at one point, I decided I was going to be a rock star.

            I believe it was the summer after seventh grade when I bought my first real six-string. It was a Hondo, an imitation Stratocaster. No, I did not purchase it from the five and dime, and no, I did not play it ‘til my fingers bled. I did sign up for lessons and I took them with a blind eagerness that lasted until my money ran out, and with my money went my discipline for practice. What I would do instead then was strap the thing on and play along to music. “Play along,” however, is a loose term; it was some hybrid of air guitar and my best guess at where notes and chords should have been.

            The crazy thing was that I never wanted to be a rock star because I yearned for virtuosity. I wanted the appeal, the attention, the girls. But every year that passed, I worked a little bit more and became a little bit more invested in my social outlets. The partying, the hanging with friends, the trying to impress girls all took a front seat while my Hondo collected dust on its stand before ultimately making its way to the basement.

            Life seemed like the slowest motion picture in history back then, but as old people are wont to do, I now often wonder where the time has gone. But I logged a solid seven years in that house, and so my portion of the stuff that wound up in the basement was significant, especially given that I was a bit of a hoarder myself, even prior to our return to Kansas City. I’ve only dabbled in psychology, but my theory is that, as a child of divorce, I wanted to hang onto things as some measure of hope for not losing -- and in other measures, regain -- what was arguably the most important thing in my life: my parents’ marriage/relationship. I’ve made improvements over the years in dealing with this sort of thing, but it’s my barometer for knowing that real hoarders -- the ones you see in episodes on A&E -- have gone through some serious shit. The dark, ugly, mysterious shit that the rest of us only see on television and in the movies.

the Atlanta house

            But I left that home for college, and in a short time left the state again. When I returned some seven years later, I set up a new home, and it was not long after that that my mom said she wanted our stuff out of her basement. Which was fine. Weird. But fine. So I lugged it to my new basement, and to the basement after that and the basement after that and the basement after that and the basement after that to -- finally -- my basement now. Where it sits. In piles and in boxes and in tubs, quietly taunting me.

the primary college house (no idea who that dude is)

            What remains is, of course, stuff. But it’s stuff that, like anyone’s, represents portions of my life. Youth, adolescence, college, young adulthood. And not unlike my collection of two-plus decades ago, it’s memorabilia, school projects, a few toys, photo albums, hats, magazines, newspapers, posters, ticket stubs, and relics. And like the basement stash I restarted back at my mom’s house, it’s incomplete. I’ve discarded some things, sold others, had things thrown out unbeknownst to me (Editor’s Note: Picture me growling at you, Mom.).

            There are some things in my unorganized piles that have nostalgic value, and some that bear a charged emotional tie. There are mementos of embarrassment, and reminders of the stages of personality I’ve -- thankfully and otherwise -- transgressed. But there’s a thing that’s stayed with me over the years, and it’s not even a thing, really. It’s an idea. And it’s an idea that has many things associated with it, many things that represent it, and many things that keep it present in my mind. That idea is none other than the beautiful art form we call music. The very one that was part of that recipe for inspiration to be a rock star.

            It’s how -- when I returned to Kansas City -- Melanie (nee Marcusen) McColligan said she remembered me from kindergarten; she claims I scratched her Grease record -- d.j.-style -- when she brought it for show and tell. It’s how I remember the handful of years in which we got around town in my mother’s ’81 Toyota Tercel -- always full of oldies on AM 71 WHB. It’s what locked me in my bedroom for all of those years studying lyrics, memorizing guitar solos and drum rolls, and daydreaming of becoming the proverbial sex-symbol rock star. It’s how I remember the crazy spring of ’95 when I awoke to my alarm one morning, and instead of going to work at Michael Ricker’s Pewter Casting Studio, I jumped in Jason Dornbusch’s ’66 split-window Volkswagen bus and we went to Oregon. Hillsboro to be exact.

the back-to-KC house

            There’s a wicked-long story in how all of that came to be, but for the purposes here, let’s just say I had some difficulty getting back to Colorado. I’d made it as far as Reno, and got stuck. I couldn’t catch a ride to save my life, and just as I was about to give up, I ran into someone with mile-high plates. They agreed to take my dog and I with them, but then we got delayed. By a couple of days. My old friend fear set in, and I wasn’t sure if I could get so close to home if I broke away from them, so they let us hole up in their old Chevy Blazer while we waited. As the hours ticked by, I got to feeling pretty vulnerable. Pretty scared.

            Oh, and I was sick, too. On my last night in Oregon, I foolishly paid money to sit in a “natural hot spring,” which wasn’t anything like the previous ones I’d enjoyed. For starters, all of the other ones’d been free. This was compartmentalized bathrooms, each with a pink porcelain tub. Every tub had a plastic hose running out of the wall, and what came from the hose was advertised as natural, hot-spring water. I should’ve known that the operators of this dingy campsite were pulling the wool over people’s eyes, but I coughed up the dollars and soaked in it, and I got three things out of it: a) ripped off, b) a creepy sense of fatigue, and c) a nasty-ass rash that covered both sides of my torso for over a week.

            There were probably 100-plus spots on my skin and they were sensitive to the touch, i.e. clothes and my sleeping bag. They also seemed to emit heat and make me sweat. It was not fun. But, I felt safe with these folks. Sort of. Anything would have been better than my first ride, but…another day.

            So I was holed up in this Blazer for a few days and not feeling well. I was too afraid to wander very far for fear that the time to leave might come whilst I was out. So I stayed in there a bunch, walking my dog every so often (even though he peed in the vehicle twice, and I had only Windex and paper towels to try and disguise it), and popping into the convenience store (with casino!) next to the motel in which these folks stayed. It was extremely depressing.

            In hindsight, it would have been the perfect opportunity to document my trip and travels, but I was too anxious to think straight. I was pissed at myself for thinking it’d be easy to hitchhike halfway across the country with a 90-pound shepherd. I did, however, have my walkman and a Case Logic with 10 cassette tapes in it, which was probably my saving grace. I have no idea how many times I listened to each of those albums, and I couldn’t tell you to this day what nine of them were. Only thing I know is that Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps was in there. I had those 10 albums with me because they’d previously been tapes I’d neglected a little. Like, I never got to know ‘em well, so they never became favorites, go-tos.

            I already loved Neil Young before my alarm clock went off that morning in Estes Park, but I hadn’t forged an untouchable relationship with his music like I had with say, Bob Dylan’s or Phish’s, or The Beatles’, or the Grateful Dead’s. It was close, but not quite there yet. That changed, though, during that three-day stretch in that Blazer. For good. It was as though the lyrics to those tunes -- the ones that had been released as an album in 1979 -- had been written for me there in that lonely Nevada week of 1995. I played Rust Never Sleeps over and over again, making more sense of its concept each time.

There was no fast-forwarding and no rewind allowed. I had to absorb the thing from beginning to end, and it became -- for that moment in my life -- my personal medicine. I’m not sure how, but I’m pleased to say that Neil Young’s 10th studio (Note: This one was recorded live, but heavily overdubbed, which gave it a studio kind of feel. So…I’m countin’ it.) album took me literally, “out of the blue and into the black.” Needless to say, I’ve since felt indebted to Young’s body of work, and in some odd sense, the person I think he is. One of these days, I’ll crank out a piece on him like I did for Dylan (links). What remains of my sanity owes his discography at least that much.

Getting back to my bedroom at my mom’s house, though, beckons one more musical memory, and that’s the day -- and the months and years that ensued -- I met Cal Jones, our next-door neighbor. Prior to us moving into that house, Cal played guitar in a band for the better part of a decade. They practiced and played gigs around town, and, if memory serves, marriage and children brought all of that to a halt. He could still throw down, though, and he had this handsome Fender Stratocaster Sunburst that he would occasionally bring over. Mostly, though, he would play licks on my imitation, and we would talk music and guitar. One night in particular, he asked me if I’d ever heard of Joe Satriani.

second house back in KC

I hadn’t. And at the time, I probably scoffed. Genius teenager that I was, it was beyond me that someone older than I could possibly know something I didn’t about music. I could see that he was pickin’ up what I was puttin’ down, and so he went back to talking to me about Ritchie Blackmore’s solo in “Highway Star.” When he’d been over for a little over an hour, he offered some responsible, husbandly line about needing to get back home, and before he walked out of my room, he looked at my tapes and pointed at my collection a few times. He turned around and, continuing to shake his index finger (only this time at me), cocked his head in some kind of fatherly fashion.

“Seriously,” he said. “The next time you ride up to the record store. Joe Satriani. Surfing with the Alien.”

It stuck with me. And I remember pulling that cassette off of the shelf and seeing that cover. It was like it briefly blinded me. All that red. And then this wickedly albino man on a surf board. It was as if he blasted through a wall of crimson and was riding a wave of mystery off of the cardboard of the sleeve, through the plastic of the case, beyond the cellophane, and free of my grasp. Now it could have been because I thought Cal was a pretty cool dude, but it was as if I could feel heat coming out of that bag as it swung from my 10-speed handles all the way home. But that was only the beginning.

The album opens up with this crowded-elevator-like chatter, and is suddenly drowned by this woosh sound, like a rocket roared past, vaporizing the people to whom those voices belonged, serving as a spring board for Satriani and company to liquefy your eardrums. I remember blasting that album through my crummy boom box and being so underwhelmed by its maximum-volume output that I hastened to grab headphones to get the full experience for my second. I was blown away. I was hooked. I was in. The next time I got paid and biked to the record store, I picked up Not of This Earth, and when Flying in a Blue Dream and The Extremist came out, I got those, too.

the grad-school house

Now, I’m not going to go off on a Satriani tangent. The category of music to which he belongs -- instrumental rock, or whatever it is -- is far from for everybody. There are people that think it’s boring, uninventive, masturbatory, or some form of all of the above. And that’s fine. If somebody wants to discard what he did for music, and specifically guitar, so be it. Typically those people are the kind of people that become petrified when you suggest that they hold a baby; they’re afraid of dropping it or breaking it, and usually both. You’ll never hear Satriani being cranked at a party or coming out across your FM airwaves, and there’re reasons for that. If you’re not into it, let it be.

But…haters are always lurking, and there’s always going to be some hater that has to act like they know something about the genre by throwing out the name Yngwie Malmsteen. And I seldom do, but I always want to say, Man, fuck you and your Yngwie Malmsteen. For the record, I did have brief affairs with Steve Vai and Eric Johnson, but Satch’ has always been my guy. I get that it might not be your bag, baby, but if you’ve never had the house to yourself and gotten your air guitar on with “Always with Me, Always with You,” you’re really missing out on some musically transcendental good shit, Chief.

As it goes with moving, though, when we bought our house in October 2012, we lived out of boxes for a few weeks, and eventually unpacked. My wife did most everything as I was still doing the 70-hour-a-week chef gig. She got us unpacked and situated and decorated, and when I wasn’t sleeping or trying to catch up on laundry (Note: This is literally all you have time for as a chef on your day off.), I would channel my inner Widespread Panic and pick up the pieces. Mostly this meant putting boxes we didn’t immediately need in the basement.

Over the next few months, I was able to whittle down the stacks of boxes to something less intimidating, but the massively troubling thing was: Our basement came with this ready-to-use man cave. Our daughter was about to turn two, though, and it was impossible to make it a priority. It ate away at me forever, mostly because I couldn’t even get my act together enough to set up my computer. Then, I came home from work one evening, and our friends Beau and Keely had been over, and they’d done it for me. It was one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me. And naturally, it occurs to me now that I never thanked them. So…thanks, guys.

our first married house

Anyway, winter set in, and with a quasi-functioning office, I was doing my usual chef thing one evening, which is: Stay up too late and have a few beers too many. Oftentimes when I do this, I’ll wind up with just enough of a buzz to get all emotional about Neil Young, and I’ll have to listen to like 12 of his songs in a row. Or sometimes, if the moon is in the right spot, it’s the same song 12 times in a row. Whichever one it was, I wound up stuck on “Cortez the Killer,” which is the second-to-last track from 1975’s Zuma. Zuma’s never been one of my favorites, but it has its moments, and “Cortez the Killer” is the top moment.

I have no desire to sit here and musically deconstruct it because that would somehow be a disservice to it. Lyrically, however -- and maybe even to a greater extent, conceptually -- it is crafted in a style all its own. Its content is educational, historical, spooky, sad, confusing, impetuous, and overwhelming. It does for my ears the precise opposite of what every other song I’ve ever loved does: give me certainty. What I mean is, when you love a song, you listen to it enough times and you eventually memorize the lyrics. Then you analyze the lyrics and decide what that tune is about. The more you listen to it, the more you find the possibility of hidden meaning within the lyrics, broadening your relationship with that song.

“Cortez the Killer” is different, though. I’ve never been able to piece it all together, and under normal circumstances that would be like a Molotov cocktail just sitting there, its fuse a-simmer, in my head. It would drive me insane. But with this cut, I’m fine with it. It’s like watching abstract art in my mind. And it’s good abstract art. Like, it pains me that I’ll never be wealthy enough to purchase art that good. And it has a soundtrack. A really flippin’ solid soundtrack. There I was, though, spacing out to this beautiful oddity on YouTube, and upon its conclusion a clip below it caught my eye.

I didn’t know it then, but this particular clip comes from the 2006 Jammy Awards, which, as you might’ve guessed is a musical awards show for artists from the jam-band genre. I’d heard of this award, but never paid it any mind, which is odd because I’ve had at least portions of my face in the jam-band scene for many years. Regardless, the award show ran from 2000-2008 and would always have live acts play and collaborations and lifetime-achievement awards, and best-new blah-blah-blah trophies and so forth. I’ll bet they were a blast, honestly. I mean, if you were independently wealthy and connected, and into that kind of thing, it was probably a huge party.

This clip, though, came from the 2006 edition of that show, and, as of right now, it has 1, 915, 216 views on YouTube, which is pretty impressive for something so non-mainstream. Also, that number is a touch bloated because I’ll bet 75 of those views are mine. Regardless, it’s a cover of “Cortez the Killer,” and it’s got an amazing lineup: Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction sits at the drum kit; Steve Kimock[1] plays rhythm guitar; Reed Mathis (of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and Tea Leaf Green fame, not to mention some Marco Benevento projects) plucks the bass strings; Grace Potter (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals) handles keyboard and vocals; this amazing cat named Willy Waldman blows the horn; and in charge of the lead six-string is none other than my man, Joe Satriani.



If you break it down, there are 25 chunks of 15 seconds in this six-minute, 30-second cover, and I know that math doesn’t add up; I trimmed off the opening section. Hey, I like round numbers. What follows are my favorite things about each of the 15-second intervals of this song:

1)      0:15-0:30: World -- Meet Willy Waldman. And his horn. What an introduction.
2)      0:30-0:45: For my ears, this is the almost the only time Grace Potter’s keyboard is audible, and somehow that ends up working out well. Potter also throws out a vibe of leadership amongst this cobbled crew, which might be typical of a lead-vocal role, but there’s a coolness about the way she does it.
3)      0:45-1:00: The last snippet of Potter keys come through and Satriani really makes his presence known. Waldman’s trumpet establishes warm harmony with the lead guitar and the look on Mathis’ face says, Yeah, man. We’re about to do this thing.
4)      1:00-1:15: That moment when you’re on stage with Joe Satriani and he casually throws out a couple dozen hammer-ons.
5)      1:15-1:30: Potter introduces the lyrics and she’s poised with an air of importance that suggests her awareness of the timelessness of the words she sings.
6)      1:30-1:45: There’s something nerd-level fantastic about Satriani crouching low to play the quiet notes of this segment. Reed quietly steps into his space just long enough to slide his hand up the fret board for the sweetest ruh-der-buh-der-derp ever played.
7)      1:45-2:00: Mathis drops another guttural riff in this segment, but the highlight is Potter jumping an octave with “tree” and Waldman opening one eye, as if to say, It is officially about to be on.
8)      2:00-2:15: And it is, in fact, on, as she brings all of the vocals up to that notch, causing Satriani and Mathis to swing their heads around for a look at her echoing voice.
9)      2:15-2:30: More Potter. Just nails.
10)  2:30-2:45: Waldman comes in at the end of the verse with the embodiment of the aforementioned relationship between a person and his instrument. And not that it wasn’t noticeable in the opening, but the sweat streaming down every inch of his face is poetry.
11)  2:45-3:00: More Waldman. So beautiful. Grace Potter’s teasing side-boob shots aren’t bad, either, but what’s even better is how her body language begins to ooze a confidence in the awesomeness of what they’re creating.
12)  3:00-3:15: As of this stretch, Waldman is carrying the tune. Mathis drops another dope riff, but really -- when Waldman finishes his and begins jumping in place, the doors are officially unhinged and ready to be blown from their frames.
13)  3:15-3:30: Potter’s “Yeah” chants are epic, and you can feel the Satriani engine revving here, but it would be a tremendous mistake not to mention that -- arguably -- one of the most important lyrical portions of the song is omitted here. My guess is that they did it for the sake of time, but when what you’re cutting looks like this:

“Hate was just a legend/And war was never known/The people worked together/And they lifted many stones.
They carried them/to the flatlands/And they died along the way/But they built up with their bare hands/What we still can’t do today.”

You make time to include that. You do your rock-star thing and insist on 30 more seconds. Without question.

14)  3:30-3:45: Almost all Potter here, but a nod goes to Waldman for appropriately bringing the volume down a notch for this all-important moment.
15)  3:45-4:00: More Potter. Great finish vocally for her. And now, the Satriani motor is warm and ready to Mad Max any bad guy that gets in its way.
16)  4:00-4:15: Gotta love Waldman in this stretch, but the moment goes to Satriani. I posit that never in the history of filmed art-making has there been a better in-the-zone face. Right there’s a true channeling, my friends. That’s taking an astonishing song, putting it on yourself to be on your game and do it justice, and doing it with what I’m guessing was minimal rehearsal in front of a live audience for probably the first and only time ever. He gets down in there, too. Down in that deep spot of the soul where creation is born and feeds and begs to one day have a snapshot of exposure so that people can see the majesty of how the every ounce of your creation and development made itself present -- in an abstraction -- for just that one moment.
17)  4:15-4:30: Satriani plugs along here, but the sequence of seemingly mutated notes coming from Waldman’s trumpet is a fine, fine match for what the lead guitarist is doing, and the look on Potter’s face is perfect.
18)  4:30-4:45: Joe. Satriani. And look at Potter looking at him. As a dude it’s impossible to assume there was zero sexual energy in that two-second smattering.
19)  4:45-5:00: Earlier, when I said, “Fuck you and your Yngwie Malmsteen”? Fuck you and your Yngwie Malmsteen.
20)  5:00-5:15: This is the moment of the entire song. The crescendo. The climax. The comforting feeling of your lover’s warm skin against yours after you’ve shared a moment of ecstasy. When Satriani grabs that tremolo arm at the 5:08 mark and makes that alien-horse whinny -- which is followed with tremendous precision by Perkins with the ultimate tah-tschh, tut-tuh-tschh -- all is right with the musical world. Crime is non-existent in it. Babies live healthily because of it, and sunshine beams all around it.
21)  5:15-5:30: I cannot believe that one of Waldman’s lungs does not shoot out of his horn here, and Potter gives him a magical look.
22)  5:30-5:45: Potter’s in ecstasy, Waldman’s putting the finishing touches on a masterpiece, and Satriani’s in overdrive, but the moment goes to Perkins who shows a glimpse of a look that says, This is the shit!
23)  5:45-6:00: Satriani and Waldman bring it to a close like they’ve been doing it together for years.
24)  6:00-6:15: Potter gives a look right at the 6:15 mark that says, Hey everyone -- remember that time we won the Jammys? Immediately afterwards, Perkins shoots a grin that says, That was the tits, people. The. Tits.
25)  6:15-6:30: A photo finish, if you will. Kimock and Potter are congratulatory. Waldman is so freakin’ pumped. Mathis and Satriani bro hug. Amazing.

It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that this live cover took place eight years ago and was uploaded to YouTube in 2008, and I just found it over a year ago. It’s like its own little basement-floating nugget I never knew I had, and it blows my mind that the inspiration for its existence stems from one artist that blew my mind 25 years ago and another that saved it some seven years down the road. I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve viewed it, or on what varying levels I’ve offered silent gratitude to the heavens for the fact that it is, the coincidence in which I discovered it. The whole thing’s an impetus, I’ve decided, a reason for me to get both my literal and my figurative shit together, to quench all of the parchedness that seeks extension, to extinguish the embers of stagnancy.

There’s something to be said about putting it all together in life. The ability to be open, as a human being, to inspiration, and to be able to tap into that stimulant to creative activity, to translate it to dedication to a craft, an art form, a passion, is a life’s work. If you can bottle that and keep access to that potion within arm’s reach, you’ll find the key to the door of possibility in your pocket. It’s keeping tabs on that key that can be tricky. Many are the basements -- and all of their clutter -- of our lives, and keeping their contents organized requires practice and diligence. The ability to identify what’s important (and the necessity to hold on to it) versus what may be discarded may be the most crucial piece to the puzzle of success.




[1] Prior to hearing this cover, I had never heard one note of music played by Steve Kimock. I have been promised bootlegs that have never arrived. I have made 276 mental notes to purchase something of his, and always forgotten. And above all, I first heard his name from my buddy Jason who told me about this bumper sticker that read, “Who is Steve Kimock and why does he keep blowing my mind?” This bit of cleverness meant that I had to check him out, yet I never did. And therefore, I still don’t know who he is and he keeps blowing my mind.