It should be a mellow kind of day— interrupted suddenly when Aesop barks at someone in the street. I entertain the hope of jamming with other musicians again now that I’ve heard from Mark, the drummer who lives in the Friendly neighborhood. We’ll have to work around my transportation issues for a while, but I really want to make this thing happen. Inspiration can’t come from hanging out by yourself. Nothing can be made from nothing. Until we get together, I might try to pick out a few lines by Jaco: no amplifier; just playing dry, me and the fretboard. I was never very good at music theory, and always had to rely on my ears and my instinct. For this reason, I was better suited to rock than jazz.
Nine thirty five. The weather is again very cloudy and glum. A good day to put on my thinking cap and ponder what’s really important to my life. A good day for mind over matter and making progress. To put aside inhibition and intimidation and try a little harder.
Ten thirty five. Unplugged, I figured out most of “Teen Town” by Jaco. I feel like I’ve accomplished something I wouldn’t have tried before, a great feeling. It came to me more easily than I’d expected. Like something that was meant to be.
I woke from dreams of my garage just now, mingled with the image of my dad’s ghost. I felt violently towards him and I would’ve attacked him in reality. So much of what he did when I was a child was heinous that he deserved retribution. I grew to just hate him and didn’t make peace with him until after his retirement, which coincided with my dx of schizophrenia. Now I wonder why my mother had such a positive talent for picking losers to marry. My dad took the cake for all time assholes. But at his core he was a complete coward and weenie, like all bullies or men without balls. Incongruously, the music in my background is “Strike Up the Band,” an old disco tune by Chic. Whatever was happening with my life, or however dire it was, the music would keep playing obliviously, in benign indifference. It almost seems to say that life for the unconscious goes on no matter what the external circumstances. The soul has its own agenda and it operates in Dreamtime. Where this and reality intersect is something like a peak experience, perhaps a sublime deja vu. We have all been here before. Likely we’ll be there again.
Quarter after ten at night.
I’m awake since having lots of dreams of the collapse of civilization tonight, and when I got up, my conscious thoughts ran to The Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood. Now I’m trying to clear my mind entirely and start over again… During the day I played my modified P Bass two different times. At once, the instrument is a war axe and a highly sophisticated piece of technology. In neither light is it quiet and subdued by any means. I did a great deal of shredding on it, eventually slowing down to pound out a few Rush tunes from the turn of the eighties. It makes me emotional to revisit old songs like “Cygnus X-1,” a throwback to happy times as a drummer jamming with friends my age for the summer of 1982. They were no older than 16 and ready to go pro in the L.A. music scene, but my parents protected me from such a future and ensured that I’d finish my education. My path with my friends crossed again in another 15 years for the disco gig. I’m not sure what I learned from that experience, or even how I feel about it. Music as expression and music as a business are different things. Robert Fripp advised young musicians to stay out of the industry if they really love music. From what I’ve seen, I’m inclined to think he’s right.
Quarter of one in the afternoon.
Yesterday I went across the street to ask Roger for his help with my bass guitar again, since we did a rather incomplete job the first time. He smiled and agreed to work with me tomorrow at ten o’clock. It’s sort of a symbolic truce to my mind. Though he’s a Republican and I’m a Democrat, still we are civil to each other and achieve something together in the name of music, which shouldn’t have an ideology… The unseasonable rainy weather keeps on day after day, with showers that come and go. I suspect that when the sun shines again it’ll be like summer already, so there’s no hurry on that. Gloria was here and we did some tidying up around the house. In passing, she expressed her hope that the former president doesn’t run for office again, saying how rude he was and how insane— and she’s a Republican. A few lines from a Yes song come up. “A simple peace just can’t be found / Waste another day blasting all the lives away / I heard the thunder underground / Tunneling away at the very soul of man.” And later: “There, in the heart of millions / Seen as a godsend to us / There stands our future / There can be no denying / Simple as A B C D / There stand our children’s lives…” Is this too optimistic, or too utopian for people to grasp? Have we lost our faith in the power of poetry and song? It is said that two wrongs don’t make a right. When love is no longer the solution to our problems, then humanity is in deeper dudu than ever before. This demands that we go back to the drawing board and search not just our minds but our hearts. “It takes a loving heart to see and show / This love for our own ecology.”
Quarter after three.
I’ve awoken in the dead of night to the sound of a heavy rain. I thought I would get up temporarily and scribble a note. However, I’m drawing a blank at the moment. For some reason I keep hearing music from the late seventies. A few hours ago it was two old hits by Al Stewart. Something’s bugging me. It has to do with family and belongingness, and yet I was never good at compromise, particularly from the age of nineteen. The greatest lesson in familial love for me came from reading Ulysses, but even then, my sobriety was impossible without my independence… The rain has ceased for now, as if to support what I just said.
Seven twenty five.
Life is pretty good today. I made Cathy laugh at the checkout counter with a silly joke about being in the doghouse. The sun comes and goes, and also the rain. Music: “Time Passages” by Al Stewart, so I’m thinking I’ll pull out the disc and listen to it. Some people would rather hear underground music for reasons of integrity, but I like the music polished, albeit packaged for mass consumption. You can drive yourself batty trying to avoid consumerism, so I usually go with the flow. I believe that The Beatles was a good phenomenon.
“Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight…”
Quarter of seven.
In my mailbox this morning I found my prescription from Genoa pharmacy, so now I don’t have to pick it up in person. The post office people have been doing crazy things lately, just small unprofessional stuff, and they have an attitude about it, like refusing to deliver mail and lying about getting it done. Wtf is up with that? But the main thing going on with me is that I won’t be a masochist anymore. I think I’ve done my penance for a bad relationship that happened 23 years ago. I’ve tortured myself for long enough, so now it’s time to enjoy life once again.
Quarter of eight. The sun still struggles to gain the tree line across the street from me. The cloudy heavens are light gray where the sun doesn’t show. I’m thinking of a story by Borges, and I often resolve to read something more from him. Maybe today. Also there’s a short novel by Sturgeon I want to finish. It’s about telepathic youngsters, kind of like King’s fiction, but before he became popular. It’s interesting to trace the history of an idea to its origins. I’ve seen mixed reviews of the 40th Anniversary Moving Pictures by Rush. Mostly people didn’t like the packaging, and the liner notes precluded the lyrics in the booklet. The strong point was the Toronto concert to support the album. They say the sound quality was better than for Exit… Stage Left.
Quarter of nine. Gloria is coming at nine o’clock, and I’ve let Aesop know what is happening today so he’ll know what to expect. More gray clouds roll along the east side of the sky.
Quarter after eight.
Tomorrow I have an appointment at the agency in the morning, so I’ll get to do a little sightseeing on the way by taxi. It is yet another overcast day here, making it about a fortnight since the last time it was sunny. I actually like it when you can see great rolling billows of gray and white clouds in the springtime, and the rain doesn’t bother us in Oregon. At dawn, the clouds often appear blue, even midnight blue, and on afternoons they can be purple. Occasionally it hails here with pea size stones or it will rain mixed with snow, though not usually in April. I find it interesting how the natural scene complements what is going on sociopolitically, like the weather in a Shakespeare tragedy when it sympathizes with human affairs. Sometimes I feel like a radio for frequencies borne on the air and traveling right through everybody, these long, slow waves bearing information of the world. In an astronomy class I learned something about the different kinds of rays. Gamma rays are very fast and cause cancer if you are exposed to them. But radio waves can go through you without doing any harm. Conceivably, everyone is a radio receiver of sorts, though we don’t think about it much. The desirable thing might be to wrap a colander in aluminum foil and wear it on your head in order to bounce off the airwaves. This was actually a joke I heard from a friend twenty years ago, maybe not so funny, and not my original invention. I also heard a paranoid guy say at a gig that he wasn’t wearing a wire, even though the doorkeepers believed he had one. At the time I wondered if he was off his meds, but the show went on anyway, and the bandleader took all the money and paid us nothing for the night’s work. Meanwhile our audience at Taylor’s had disappeared, everyone, to my shock, having found a lay for the weekend.
Gloria’s workday for me is done now. I’m feeling a lot better than I did over the weekend. Last night I dreamed about M— for several hours, though I don’t know why or what my motive was. The dream was certainly not a bad one. The Prokofiev music I listened to recently floats back to my ear: very pleasant. I especially like when his spirit is playful and fun, sometimes uptempo. Often he will resolve a phrase with such a good feel to it, as if to say that everything is right and good. The second movement of Symphony No. 5 is my favorite, particularly a little melody in D major on clarinets, joined by a low string counterpoint, that concludes very pleasingly… Like a lot of days lately, the sun shines from a cloudy sky. My masochistic treatment of myself seems to be over with. I hope it doesn’t happen again soon. I had a great turkey and cheddar sandwich on a croissant for lunch: delicious. It’s worth it to reward yourself whenever you can, for this life depends on your perception alone.
It’s colder this morning and the sky is lemon. Kat stopped me in front of her house and gave me her number in case her renters make any trouble. Lisa at the store was extremely busy and rather stressed out, so I hope she gets through the day okay. Luckily this is the last day of March, which was a difficult month for me. It’s quite strange to be sober during the current state of the world, and yet it’s treating me like a king in some ways. I guess the best approach is to not be in a hurry each day. I feel like a radar telescope or something with a fix on attitudes everywhere in our culture. It may be a delusion of thought insertion, or maybe I have a bit of clairvoyance… I should ask my neighbor again regarding his help with modifying my Fender bass. This could be kind of fun; something technical to do. Di Marzio pickups have a hot output and a milky tone, depending on the particular model… If I can possibly afford it this summer, I want to get a washing machine and a drying rack. Meanwhile my grass is growing like gang busters. It’s getting expensive to live these days.
I’ll be glad when the month of March is over with. It hasn’t been a rose garden for me. I’m so tired of being an amateur psychoanalyst. Instead, I’d like to de emphasize my mind and focus outward on the details of ordinary life. Maybe it was a conversation with my sister that threw me; but I was the one who called her up. Life is very hard and sometimes too long… Aesop is stretching out on his back on the carpet in front of me. He seems to feel pretty good, paws in the air.
Occasionally it occurs to me that a few beers might be nice. I remember having a couple of Hefeweizens after gigs at the Wild Duck dance hall. It would be close to two o’clock in the morning and I had earned it. I had an old Stingray Bass, translucent red with the three band preamp, that was a real workhorse. I put it through the mill with Satin Love and beyond that to other groups. When I was done with it, the red finish had become quite cloudy and not so pretty anymore. So now I consider the demise of rock and roll during the pandemic, how I may never play in a band again. Whatever I might desire, it seems not to be the will of the universe. Perhaps the universe has a plan for me? And then everything will make sense.