Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Hey summer madness, totally cool

It’s hindsight, but the summer of 2001 was so carefree. Oh, I had cares, listlessly pushing around the last pieces of a heart broken in the spring, really filling out the contours of some petty grievances with friends while becoming more friends with the friends who would be my tight friends in the next ten years, the exhilarating feeling of being generally peeved and deliciously, frightenedly, independent. 

But from here, oh, here, I see myself and us all and because we had no idea what was coming, all of June-July-August is just aglow. Or whatever art practice descriptors apply: a bas-relief of freedom and fun, a monograph forever preserved, blah and blah.

I don’t know. Most of what I saw was from over the handlebars of the bike: the vanishing point of the L tracks over Lake street heading west, the discovery of dried, spilled chocolate on the street next to Blommer’s Chocolate factory,

The smell of the lake and acrid, cooked chocolate, and sewer gas from manhole covers in the Loop and pissed-in corners, and Coronas. 

I bought this tape at Coconuts, which was in the new-ish retail space on Damen, Across from the Pontiac. Then I must have taped the most suitable songs for biking onto a second tape, abutting it with Madonna and...god, what else? Do I still have that tape? I don’t think I do. In my haste to move on and shed items (and after almost two decades of moving all my tapes around, I got rid of these mixes. I must look for it.

And, later, maybe I will think back on a more recent we-didn't-see-it-coming arc of sky, and what I saw under it, drawn-out September-to-February sunsets from Brown line windows, buildings moving past me, and me, always moving. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Where does it go from here?

Oh, how many times did I play this on the Y-Not II jukebox? When I discovered it? I wish I could remember that first time I saw it spin past, and what number it was? The juke at the Y-Not looked like...? Was it the rounded dome or the broad table style box? There were stick-up buttons, the kind that satisfy when pushed because they're going in about half an inch. 

What was I even doing there? Because it's what I did, what you did when you were 24, 25 years old and still exploring the contours of freedom since you were a teenager only less than a decade before? A lot of young adults accomplish a lot in those years. I remember aching with the understanding that I wasn't doing that--that accomplishing (something). Not raising hell, either. In the middle, having fun. 

If what exists from that time is not a credit to my name but a memory of a feeling stitched across time by music, I'm okay with that. You were doing something all along. Pushing buttons that still satisfy.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

'Cause who's getting played is not me

Even though released nearly a year before I moved, I swear I heard it in those earliest cab rides and blaring in bars I didn't know were shitty yet. God, I can just hear the beats coming out all tinny on a pre-digital (right, in 1998?) jukebox, or in someone's upper or lower in a two-flat on the thousandth Lakeview street that looks like another, and feel my throat raked by trying to talk over it with...whoever. Maybe it was the guy who I met at a party I went to with Margaret in Roscoe Village...or Lakeview (Ashland to my left, Brown line tracks behind me, gonna say it was on Marshfield?) in October 1998. The next week, he took me to dinner at some retro-supper club type place down on Milwaukee between Augusta and Chicago, right past the moaning expressway, and, after ordering pork chops with lip-smacking delight, sent them back because they were somehow wrong.

God, I used to know why, because I told this story about him with lip-smacking delight since I hadn't really hung out with people who could afford to send expensive food back and had never met a free buffet they didn't like (actors and guys in bands, right?).

But I don't remember why, and he and his name and everything except his short temper (and possibly general shortness) has left me.

Eh. What matters is then, when everything was new, and how that felt. Everything gamely accepted: that this dude could be cute, the Hidden Shamrock is a good bar, and that I enjoy this metallic-sounding Jay-Z song.

Friday, October 02, 2020

In too deep

I used to scorn listen-at-work Lite FM. Now, I crave it. I need it playing next to me while I sit in front of a computer screen looking at myself, an unasked-for mirror. I have to gaze at my meeting self as well as be in the damn meeting. This meta-meta reflection of the self I want to keep compartmentalized in between close-enough-to business hours is why I need to hear late 80s Genesis bleating out of my ipad or phone next to me. The actual content of the meetings isn’t that bad, it's always looking to the future and, as I have always said, it ain’t like we are performing surgery on babies. But it calms me to hear Phil’s nasal falsetto faintly nearby, or when I step into the room where I sometimes keep it playing. (This is a family thing; both my sister and father keep a radio on in their garages for most of a day.)

“It” is internet radio. I also a need human-programmed sequence of songs coming at me. Even though it’s computer-served, it’s not calculated by bytes—if algorithms are indeed composed of bytes. I don’t feel like looking this up. I’ve had enough of examining the parts of Dr Frankenstein’s monster that has run a lot of my life since...well, I can pretty much pinpoint since when. I used a black-screen, orange typeface computer 1992-95 while working, but not very much. I used the typewriter and phone more often (that is, when I wasn’t wandering the museum's galleries shooting the breeze with my friend Thom or sneaking out to walk by the lake, or to Summerfest). I remember the first time I looked at the friggin internet, at email, I mean, by sneaking (there I went again) into the library of the Art Museum after its public hours in 93 or 94 and using that computer because it was the only one in the whole joint hooked up to a modem. Somehow (!) I knew how to connect. Maybe Rob S., gave me the instructions, because I distinctly remember that the first email I either sent, received, or both, was from/to him. I have a print-out of it somewhere (Jesus). But I remember that. The pup’s ears hearing Pavlov’s bell for the very first time. Aww. 

When was 1992? Oh, 28 years ago. Nice. 

When I used a computer more comprehensively, at my next job (1995-98), it wasn’t internet connected (was it?). It was at the TYA theatre company I worked at as administrator for its educational/outreach department. I needed music off to the side next to me there, too, but it was classic rock, WKLH 96.5. I heard enough "China Grove" to last me another lifetime, but that was okay, it and the other "classic" (some twenty years old at the time) were the window to the outside of that office, because--well, there weren't any windows. We were in the basement of the hulking performing arts center, and I needed that radio not only for mental background variation but also to temper the urgent grind and whine of the elevator machinery in the room right next to (across from?) my office.

Do I want to be back there? No, not by that machine room, but, yes, back in the untroubled shifts of pecking data entry, laser printing sheets of Avery 5160 labels (and, yes, I pulled that product number directly from the rayless reaches of my mind), affixing said labels, answering the same questions on the phone every day, writing ideas on scrap paper, and daydreaming about plays, boys, clothes, traveling...No. I want that structured and tranquil frame around me now. But in then. I don't want to be 24 again, no, thank you. I don't want the the FOMO we didn't know had a name, the robotic going-out, the magnetic draw of emotionally stupid people and men who were good-looking or cool, the lack of money. 

I want to feel emotions spurred by the radio, not by the unreal amphitheatre of words, words, words, opinions, and everyone's unbridled emotional waste of the last decade. Lite FM radio in the 90s. Whitney, Gloria, Phil, Sarah, Hootie, Elton, Tina, Rod, the Boyz, Sheryl, and, yes, the goddamn Goo Goo Dolls. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" Yep! I can in "This Kiss," and I'm "Building a Mystery" even though it's like ray-aaaaaayn on your wedding day! I miss this kind of comfort like the deserts miss the rain. I mean, I just played this twice. 

I draw the line, however, at Jewel. That flight back to this there I'd rather be is grounded. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Time on my hands could be time spent with you

Don't wish it away
Don't look at it like it's forever
Between you and me I could honestly say
That things can only get better
And while I'm away
Dust out the demons inside
And it won't be long before you and me run
To the place in our hearts where we hide
And I guess that's why they call it the blues
Time on my hands could be time spent with you
Laughing like children, living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that's why they call it the blues
Just stare into space
Picture my face in your hands
Live for each second without hesitation
And never forget I'm your man
Wait on me girl
Cry in the night if it helps
But more than ever I simply love you
More than I love life itself

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Ain’t nobody dope as me

Do you remember? Do you recall?

No words needed here because the song says it all.

But, if I was forced to write, it would say something like, this song sounds like being 21, or 24, or 26, and you and I went about several cities, looking for fun. And I was waiting, like I always did, for something to happen. But it was always okay and still and forevermore will be okay that it did not.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019