Ten Years Hence

Nine o’clock.

I found a letter in my mailbox from the church that I tucked away before walking off to the store. Finally I opened it at home again: it was a resignation letter from the pastor, effective the end of June. I guess now it doesn’t matter whether I go to church or not. A new pastor will change the complexion of church entirely. The changes keep coming, so the philosophy of Heraclitus has merit. Nothing is permanent in life. And the rock and roll counterculture is mostly dead by now. Ten years ago I drank like a fish and listened to The Beatles every afternoon and night, then in the wee hours I would bat emails with my friend in Scotland. I guess rock music went out with a bang, and today we’re just coasting along, waiting for the next sensation to come.

They’re building a remedy

For Khrushchev and Kennedy

At any time an invitation

You can’t decline



Eight twenty five.

I hit Community Market just during a rush. Lots of people came and went, mostly guys, and they were customers and distributors. It’s another nosebleed cold morning. I have to leave the house at ten fifteen, when the taxi picks me up to go to the agency for my appointment… Over a week ago I posted an ad to Craigslist looking for musicians to jam with. To my surprise, three people have already replied, and maybe the third one will turn out good… For some reason, the song in my head is “Point of Know Return,” an old classic by Kansas.

Was it you that said

How long

How long

How long

How long to the point of know return?

I love the sound of Dave Hope’s P Bass in the mid seventies, and he and Phil Ehart made a fine rhythm section. Arguably, Kansas was the best American prog band, though some prefer Frank Zappa. In my opinion, Kansas belongs more to the genre of art rock, similar to Yes and Genesis in the UK.

I Was Blue and Lonely

Aesop has been pouting all day because I tried to make a phone call this morning. Well anyway, I had to leave a message for Polly and I didn’t hear back from her at all today. Altogether it’s been a frustrating time for me. My book still hasn’t arrived either. It’s one of those days when the dog bites and the bee stings, and everything is going wrong. I was lonely and restless this afternoon, so I ate early and went to bed for two hours, though I didn’t sleep. I really don’t like the days when I feel abandoned by everyone. Sometimes it just works out that way, and I can be deserted for a couple of days consecutively. It sucks.
“It’s so hard to stay together, passing through revolving doors
We need someone to talk to and someone to sweep the floors
Incomplete, incomplete”
“In this desert that I call my soul
I always play the starring role
So lonely…”
“I see you’ve sent my letters back
And my LP records and they’re all scratched
I can’t see the point in another day
When nobody listens to a word I say”
“Eleanor Rigby died in a church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people, where do they all come from
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
There’s a billion songs like these ones. I actually had to chuckle at the third one above. It’s from a song called “Can’t Stand Losing You,” written by Sting with The Police for their first album, Outlandos d’ Amour. I think my favorite album they did was Zenyatta Mondatta, in 1980. By then, they had lost all trace of their punk rock beginnings and sounded more refined and sophisticated. This was the sound that became their signature from then on. I love to hear Andy Summers on guitar, either a Telecaster or a Strat, starting when they made Regatta de Blanc. So tastefully done.


Quarter of ten.

The dust is settling after my absence from church yesterday. Maybe tonight I’ll sleep better. It looks like the sparrows are fighting off an intruder to their birdhouse, a bigger variety of bird. I should get up and bang on the door but I feel too lazy to save the sparrow family. The ground is wet after overnight rain and it’s cloudy again today. Like yesterday, I’m willing away the spooks as I can, cutting out the metaphysics. They only make me uncomfortable and they worsen the illness… I feel like a zombie right now. 

Yesterday I sort of channeled John Wetton while I played my bass, copping his lines from a few very old Crimson tunes, mostly from Red. I haven’t listened to his work with Bryan Ferry in some time but I remember it was great. Wetton toured with Roxy Music and played live out of a handful of bass players at different times. He did that for a couple of years before he formed UK with Bill Bruford, Allan Holdsworth, and Eddie Jobson in 1978. And then, with Asia in the Eighties, his focus changed from the bass to his voice as he became an important frontman. My favorite work by Wetton happened during the Seventies when he was the bass virtuoso. 

Music 1977-78

Like yesterday, I didn’t get any reading done, but when I played the bass this afternoon, I finally tapped into my right brain and things started grooving much better. The right side of my head is rather mysterious to me and has a language of its own that isn’t verbal. It understands music, especially rhythm, and has very simple ideas. It operates in shapes and space; basically geometry. But its verbal vocabulary is quite limited. It seems to remember a lot of songs I’ve heard. So I played around with some Steve Miller stuff, ending with “Swingtown” from Book of Dreams:

Come on and dance

Come on and dance

Let’s make some romance

You know the night is falling

And the music’s calling

And we got to get down to Swingtown

We’ve been working so hard

We’ve been working so hard

So come on baby baby let’s dance

I imagine you’ve probably heard it on the radio a million times, on the classic rock stations especially. I really like Book of Dreams, even better than Fly Like an Eagle. It was released in 1977, when I was a fifth grader at Silver Lea Elementary— 45 years ago. Steve Miller was very popular up here in the Northwest. My nephews and I could get tunes on our transistor radios when we messed around outdoors. I always listened to AM radio during grade school. Paul McCartney and Wings was big at the time. Remember “With a Little Luck?” My mother was nuts about that song. We’d just had a tragic death in the family and everything seemed overturned and topsy turvy for us. She happened to turn the radio on in the truck and caught this Wings song. Actually pulled over to listen to it. I recall that the original version was much longer, with an extended synth interlude: very sweet. And of course Paul on bass was brilliant…

Peace; Absent Friends

Eight fifty.

I really don’t like King Crimson, the prog rock band, anymore, due to the element of demonism they trade on. It hasn’t been a healthy influence for me since I started following them in high school. What a strange shtick for a rock band. I don’t understand the point of it. But maybe I’m the weirdo? I remember feeling psychotic after my mother died and seeing the devil everywhere in rock and roll. Perhaps it’s just as well that rock music is dying or dead already. It’s definitely a thing of Western culture, based on something biblical, and the music makes it scarily real. Whatever people were thinking, the strategy worked and we bought it. Was there something more to it than marketing; something more than money? Why did we find it necessary to raise hell? Maybe now there can be peace on earth…

Eleven twenty five.

It’s a day when I realize how much I miss my parents. The October light is amber through the smoke, somehow conjuring up the ghosts of old friends but my parents most of all. And they were my friends as well as my kin. Probably there’s no bond stronger than friendship. It’s hard to write about. I will go and play my bass for catharsis even though Dad and Mom have been gone more than twenty years. I have to work my way through it every autumn and it doesn’t get any easier with time. 

Pretty Good

Ten o’clock.

We went to breakfast as we often do and had jalapeño cheeseburgers. The fog burned off and now it’s clear as a bell. I miss doing music with other players but it’s really difficult with their decisions on using drugs. I would feel weird about walking into Guitar Center today, sober as a judge and clear headed. It’s a different culture from what I live with every day. I feel like an island. Suddenly I remember playing “Detroit Rock City” with Blueface the springtime after my mother died. I had a good time doing that. We were a pretty good band and had a good fan base that grew more and more over the months of that year.


Alcohol really alters your behavior, makes a Hyde out of Jekyll, and in your own mind you are supreme: your self esteem is puffed up beyond what is realistic. Everything is about your ego; it orbits around your selfhood. I hope those days are done forever… As Gloria was getting ready to leave for the day, I advised her to “manejar con cuidado.” She took up the joke and said, “Si, con mucho cuidado!” and started her Subaru while I went inside and let Aesop out of his room. I’ve been chilling with the second Snapple tea and the sunshine at my back. Life is pretty good for a change. 

Dynamo 2

One o’clock.

I practiced my bass guitar alone for a while. At first I played a bunch of meandering notes without much meaning, until I felt inspired to do some lines by Pino Palladino, a Welsh session player whose work was popular during the Eighties. So I tuned down a step and picked out “Come Back and Stay” and “Wherever I Lay My Hat.” The last song I played was one by Go West called “Innocence.”

The switch to this cool early fall weather has me confused about how to feel. I almost wanted to cry once today. It’s just weird, and I’ve also got the lonelies this afternoon. I recall that twenty years ago in August I was going to volunteer at the UO Knight Library. But the job was so computer intensive and the tasks so numerous that I was overwhelmed and had to abort my plan. I took the bus home and on the way, I remember watching the driver shift gears like a machine servant to a machine: a Lawrentian horror.

In October of the same year I placed an ad in the paper seeking other musicians to jam with, and got a call from a guitarist who was friends with some local celebrities. So we got together at the lot on W 11th and I auditioned with Marc and Tim. It worked out pretty well, so we kept doing that, and did a gig somewhere downtown and made some recordings. My family meanwhile was skeptical of my activities and my mom had been gone for a year. On the sidewalk beyond the lot of woodsheds was a hotdog cart dubbed Dawgs on the Run. When the days were abominably dark and rainy with the autumn I would go buy a Coney Island before rehearsal. But I often got the nagging feeling that I was in the wrong place, hanging with the wrong people. And my mother wasn’t around to justify what I was doing. For a while I was screwed.


Nine o’clock.

I dreamed that my dog could talk. He had a vocabulary of 600,000 words and knew the entire Bible. Then I woke up and fed him breakfast. As he scarfed it down, I said, “Bi Mart to the rescue. Gloria to the rescue. Laurel Hill to the rescue.” An otherwise sunny day is clotted by high clouds. They forecast a high of 92 degrees. The trip to market was pretty dull, and sometimes I consider mixing it up with other places to buy goods. I told a friend I was contemplating getting myself a gift for five years of sobriety. So I went on the Guitar Center website and priced a bass I was interested in. But the thing about it is how the music community here is totally saturated with alcohol and weed, almost to the exclusion of the music itself. Thus it wouldn’t be practical to invest in a musical instrument with such a situation. Another thing is, I saw photos of Robert Plant’s daughter, I guess, “then and now.” In the second picture, she had breast implants so huge that I had to say, “That’s disgusting!” At one time I would’ve liked that look— back when I drank a lot. Now it’s a different ballpark. So I wonder what rock and roll is really about, and should I invest in a new bass guitar? Where will my attitudes be in five more years?

Fly by Night

Seven thirty.

Same old redundant thing this morning. Even the music on the market radio was the same: “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The forecast calls for a high of 93F. At nine I’ve got Gloria today. Aesop, my dog, is spread out right on my foot. He’ll be ten years old next month and I’ll have five years clean and sober. Time really flies, but everybody knows that. Still, I wish it were fall already. I’d love to have it rain again and see and smell the leaves on the ground. Now I’ve got Nirvana stuck in my head. Currently, the trendy ideology seems to be stoicism still, which is far from the Freud I was taught in school long ago. I still see copies of Marcus Aurelius here and there. I can remember when people buzzed about narcissism all the time; and today, no one does that anymore. Last January, Carl Jung and Alan Watts were talked about a lot. To be honest, I’ve felt very lost since the rock band Rush retired after their drummer and lyricist passed away. Late last night, in my head I could hear a passage from the A side of 2112, the part with the oracle. And then this morning I thought of how 2112 kind of foretold the demise of rock and roll. I just miss the voice of the band spreading the news of freedom and happiness all over the world. What are we supposed to do when Neil Peart has flown the earth?