Archive for November, 2015

The Stupid And The Weird

November 30th, 2015

Every morning I check my social media. My facebook wall and my twitter feed. This is never a good idea because a good chunk of my social media turns out to be about the news. The news is usually awful. If you really wanted to look for something to make you mad on any given day, it wouldn’t be difficult.

 

Discrimination and violence. The stupid and the weird.

 

If you reading this, you probably have to deal with the stupid and the weird in your own life. You don’t think yourself as particularly stupid or weird but may admit to having moments when you’ve been one or the other. This is normal. We’ve all locked the keys in the car while the car is still running two or three times in our life. We’ve all driven around with a five-foot cross in the backseat of the car. We’ve all worn wrestling masks to roller derby. Or maybe only I have done those things.

 

Stupid is when you do something that goes directly against your own best interests. For me, it’s eating junk food when I obviously don’t need an ounce of that in my diet. Other people may vote for a Governor who plans on dismantling health care because he’s Republican. Why would they do that? Because he’s a Republican? Because they associate Republicans with Christianity? Because they didn’t think it through clearly?

 

You will have to deal with the stupid and the weird. You may be doing it right now. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s tough out there. People sometimes make you want to pull a Robinson Crusoe and get the hell away from society. You’d rather take your chances with a hungry brown bear than go to the mall.

 

If you have any notions, I’ll be over here eating half a bag of Doritos in one serving.

Black Friday, Blame Vince

November 27th, 2015

What Side You On? Dylan, Chuck D, timing

November 25th, 2015

Funny how some things are right on time, especially if they come twenty years too soon.

 

In 1995, Public Enemy released their critically-panned album Muse Sick-N- Hour Mess Age. It is far from a perfect album but has much to recommend. I have listened to the album many times over the past twenty years. Musically, it sounds like a cross between the Fear Of A Black Planet sound they pioneered in 1989/1990 and the nu-metal that would begin to make a cultural impact within the next five years.

 

“What Side You On” is the name of one of Muse Sick‘s songs, and a message they return to through the course of the album.

 

Right vs. wrong,

Good vs. evil

God vs. the devil

What side you on?

 

What side you on? The problem is, everyone thinks they are on the side of right, good, and (their) God.

 

Originally this was going to be about picking a side and putting one’s money where one’s mouth is. There is a big difference between being an activist on your Facebook wall and standing up at a protest, risking arrest or worse. There’s not going to be a lot of room for those of us who call out from the sidelines when the battle lines are drawn.

 

Who am I kidding? Those lines are drawn, were long ago. And since everyone thinks they are on the right side of history, we’re essentially on the same side. We’re all anti-idiot, anti-bullshit. We just don’t agree on who the idiots providing the bullshit are.

 

It feels like the world is trying to bisect itself. Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Paris, Chicago, Baltimore, Ferguson, and a few dozen other places. Being pro-idiot is in vogue right now. What side you on?

 

Going back to Public Enemy. Chuck D was given by music press the dubious honor of being the new Bob Dylan for about three albums, and then the pressure of being anointed a leader and having Dylanesque responsiblities. Every new Dylan is supposed to start providing answers, leading the followers through the desert, oh and be sure to part the seas on the way to the promiseland. Every new album allows the critics to comb through the lyrics, looking for something to criticize. It is true that many music reviewers lack any understanding of music theory, which means they have to blast both barrels at the words.

 

Chuck D has long been one of the smartest most eloquent musicians/MC’s. If his lyrics and message are up to the impossible standards of critics (and reviews for Muse Sick suggest they weren’t) then nobody’s lyrics can. We don’t hail new Dylans anymore, but we still deconstruct their lyrics beyond Thunderdome. Whether they be Kanye, Weezer, Lana Del Rey or anybody else.

 

Bob Dylan broke his body in a 1966 motorcycle accident. With that accident, he retreated from the public eye and his next three albums went into changing the public perception of him as a generational spokesman. Chuck D maintained his commitment to rap, especially the music of P.E., as a black CNN, a speaker’s square, a bully pulpit and force for societal change. Rappers don’t have the option of going Biblical (like Dylan on John Wesley Harding), going Nashville country (on Nashville Skyline) or putting out an album of their worst material in order to alienate diehards (like Dylan’s Self-Portrait).

 

Like Dylan in the ’60s, Flavor Flav broke his arms in a motorcycle wreck in the mid-90s. That guy could have done a country album.

Outside Forces

November 23rd, 2015

There are certain themes you will note if you are a regular reader of this website. All the lessnesses. Hope, help, power. Frustration. Resignation. Bitterness.
For a bit under two weeks, I was able to bat it all away. I didn’t write much in that time. I just enjoyed the brief respite of freedom I had. It started with my back pain. It kept me from doing much of anything. It was directly tied to my bed being unfit for the human body to sleep in.

 

I could do little but lie in bed or sit in a chair. I was given muscle relaxers from the clinic and told to put a heat pad on from time to time. The only thing I, a sedentary man, could do was be more sedentary.

 

While I tried to get comfortable in bed, I pondered the source of my pain. Was it legitimate or psychosomatic? Either way, my depression needed it to control me. This meant that depression could not control me by itself.

 

I was so happy when that occurred to me. I was excited. I called my mother and told her. I tried to enjoy this feeling. When I realized my depression couldn’t control me, I felt unburdened. Like the depression had jumped out the window and flown off who knows where. I wanted my mom to know I felt better. I wanted her to be happy for me. I wanted her to feel excited for me.

 

This did not change my situation. It only changed my mood. I am still in this trailer, sleeping on that shitty bed, driving that car where something breaks down when another piece gets repaired. I am still in the shape I am in. I still need to take a lot of medicine. I still have a world of work ahead of me. I still have to beat back the tide lest it drown me in existential sorrow.

 

Joy is not the anti-depression, much as I would like it to be. Joy is rare and depression is a constant state of functioning. So I have to look at it as depression as an outside force that must be kept away. I will have sad times. To not be would be oblivious to life. Sadness for me and my loved ones, the state of things around me. Sad songs, movies. But I don’t have to live in sad. I’ll try not to.

 

I promise I’ll try my best. 🙂

Three Day Weekend

November 17th, 2015

I was not an isolated creep last weekend. I went out Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Normally, I may go out once a. . . month? for some social function.

 

What got me out of this hermit life, even if temporarily? Or who? Well, it was my very good friend Young Mary, who curated a three-day series of events. I will try to sum up highlights from a whirlwind weekend.

 

Jesco White, the Dancing Outlaw came to Bowling Green to dance at the Spillway. Earlier this spring, I closed for him at a show in Louisville put on by Will Russell (which is a story all in itself). I went to Spillway but left before Jesco went on. Spillway’s legal capacity is somewhere around 300 and it felt like they reached it and then some. 300 drunken hillbillies standing around watching a genuinely crazy West Virginian tap dance for forty-five minutes. Some old guy kept asking me where my brother was. I don’t have a brother. Another old guy kept yelling at me calling me “Eddie”. I got the claustrophobia real quick and had to leave to keep from screaming in terror.

 

The people seemed to be enjoying themselves, so good for them. I would have been the idiot that made the scene because I freaked out. I was one of a handful of sober people in that bar. That was actually the second time I left the bar that night. I left the first time to make a #2. Can’t make #2 in a redneck bar where they don’t have locks on the bathroom stall. Call me crazy.

 

Perhaps this was all some cosmic payback for all the times in my youth I tried to make people uneasy. I thought I was doing performance art by being a weird dickhead, and here are these hillbillies twenty or more years than me that did it without even trying.

 

Saturday was my day to perform. Mary hosted an event at White Squirrel Brewery. Me and about a dozen other performers all going 20-30 minutes a piece. It ran so efficiently I started twenty minutes earlier than my start time. Clearly none of these other singers know how to pull a Technology Vs. Horse and go “we’ve got 45 minutes which means we’ll play 52 minutes.”

 

I did pretty well. In my 20 minutes, I played four songs. Got a good response. While I set up my piano, a guy with a djembe came up to me. He had shown up to accompany the previous two guys’ sets without apparently asking first. He had banged on his tuneless bongo during the end of Tanner Elias’s set, then did the same thing throughout Shane Tutmarc’s set. Shane decided to roll with it and even gave the guy a solo. Let’s just say Djembe Donny would not have lasted long in Fela Kuti’s Africa 70.

 

So the Djembe djork walked up to me while I was plugging up the keyboard and got as far as “Hey maaaan, I was just wondering if maybe. . .” before I said “NO.”

“But I got the beat.”

“No you don’t. You don’t know my songs.”

 

I’m glad he asked me upfront so I didn’t have to embarrass him publicly. . . until this blog, of course.

 

Sunday I went to a poetry reading at Mary’s house. I voluntarily went to a poetry reading. I’m afraid of poetry. What if someone I like as a person writes poetry and I think it’s lousy? Am I a bad person? Of course I’m a bad person but not for that reason. But I am a good friend.

 

I’m such a good friend that I was prepared to pretend that Mary’s poems were great even if they weren’t. Fortunately, she is talented enough to write and sell her poems when she recites them that I wish she would focus more on that. I was so happy that I could applaud sincerely for her. That writer side is a piece of her that I wish she would showcase more often, as opposed to the non-stop Periscopin’ music business would-be-conqueror. The vulnerable side that we all have but don’t all have the ability to express in formats of art and performance. Shut up, Mike. She is trying to help you. Someone is on your side and you’re telling them not to do it so much.

 

Mary was the warmup for Travis Blankenship, a writer, poet and professor. He did two poems, the second of which was a long-form piece. A good storyteller can adapt to the format they use. He told a good, compelling story in poetic form. A lesser writer would try to employ tricks like internal rhyme schemes or let the whole thing fall into prose. Travis’ long-form tale of a neighbor with a revolving door of adopted haggard pets could have worked as in story form as well. As paragraphs as well as lines.

 

And when I say “long-form”, I mean somewhere like 15-20 minutes. I don’t mean to make it sound more epic than it is. This was not a Homeric soothsayer epic. I don’t think those words should be put together like that. I would be a shit poet.

 

I hate watching other people perform, especially when I am not performing. I want to be entertained just like anyone else but I feel snobby and judgey in ways most people aren’t. I’m half critiquing it in my head. It is a relief to just be able to listen and watch and enjoy myself. Good art will take you out of your own head. Whether it be low or high art, the best stuff makes you forget about your own neuroses and problems even for a few moments.

 

In case you were wondering, I played four songs Saturday night. “The Concept Of You”, “Learning To Live Without You” and “Mountain Music” had all been played before. I debuted a new song called “Runaway Star” and that went well. I’ll probably play it in Louisville next Friday.

 

The next album I put out will have this credit: “Nobody played djembe.”

It’s Up To Me

November 16th, 2015

It’s up to me, isn’t it?

I have to fight terrorism. AND I HAVE TO DO IT ALL BY MYSELF. No thanks to you folks. My stars. I have a bad back.

I have to save the environment. All those trees in the rainforest. I gotta keep them from cutting down. I have to figure out how to lower the world’s carbon footprint. I have to reduce greenhouse gases and preserve what’s left of the glaciers. I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

You know what they say? “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” But this might be a bit much.

You know I still haven’t gotten this Middle East thing finished yet? It’s a project I’ve been working on for a while. I feel like it’s one-step-forward, two-steps-back all the time with the Middle East. Just when I help overthrow a dictatorship, they go and vote back the dictator in a sanctioned election. Or another dictator who’s even worse or some kind of warlord would-be dictator. I give them weapons and they somehow end up being used on my allies. What the hey, guys?

I need a vacation because I still haven’t finished this mass shootings project. I’m trying to try to limit those from happening every week or so. If I could just get it to one U.S. mass shooting every two weeks instead of every week, it would be a start. One step forward, two steps back.

I got a e-mail the other day. It said “Where are we on the #BlackLivesMatter deal, Mike? You know we gotta do that, right?” And I felt horrible. I haven’t even gotten started. I apologize to everyone. I really have dropped the ball. I haven’t calmed the flames of racial tension nor have I improved relations between police departments and the black community. I’ve had a lot on my mind.

And you may think I’m a jerk but I need a vacation. I’m completely stressed out. I know what you’re thinking. “Mike Farmer is a prick. He doesn’t care. He’s a lazy jerk who won’t fix the problem. Move or it lose it, Farmer.” My approval rating is practically zero. I’m overwhelmed and I want to cry and everybody is looking at me for the answers.

An Interview With The Governor-Elect

November 12th, 2015

Some quotes from a new interview with the Governor-elect (that I made up).

 

“I’m looking forward to governing the Commonwealth of Kentucky brought to you by Four Loko. Oh you don’t know about that? Kentucky is being brought to you by Four Loko. We’re doing a sponsorship deal with them. It’s great. We’re putting a can of the stuff on the state flag behind the two guys shaking hands and changing the state motto to “United We Stand, Divided We Fall, Drink Responsibly.”

 

“I love horse racing. Horse racing is a major part of Kentucky’s heritage and economy. I’m in favor of cockfighting, and I don’t think those two things are unrelated. Cockfighting, dog fighting, horse fighting. You don’t know about horse fighting? It’s big in Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines. They get two horses fighting over a mare in heat. It’s a fight to death. We could bring that back to Churchill Downs after Dark, brought to you by Four Loko. Oh, yeah, we’re painting Churchill Downs neon green. That’s part of the sponsorship deal.”

 

“I have nine kids. I have no idea where they all came from.”

 

“We’re going to gut KyNect but we’ll let you breed animals for fighting and whoring out. I found out on Facebook that bestiality was not illegal in Kentucky. Also, we’re bringing back synthetic marijuana. The Hindus who run the gas stations asked for it. I felt like I needed to throw them a bone. Also, selling human remains is legal at gas stations. Not that they asked for it or nothing.”

 

An Inefficient Fairy Tale

November 7th, 2015

Once upon a time in a dark kingdom of wickedness and tall dead trees, there lived a peasant boy with his kindly grandfather in a long metal cabin.

The peasant boy was taught by his grandfather that he was just as good as the mightiest prince and that no man, be they of noble stature or nay, was better or worse than he. The peasant boy took this to heart and remembered it his entire life.

Furthermore, since no one was better or worse than he, there was no reason to assume he could not one day be considered noble. Because while he may have been taught that all men were created equal, he did not in his heart believe that. Or maybe he did, and recognized early on in his young life that those of nobler stuff were given more praise, more rewards, more chances to succeed, more. . . everything. Certainly more than a lowly peasant boy living in a long metal shack would get. This made him feel sad at the way the world was and sad for himself because he was not a noble.

 

The boy would spend the rest of his life trying to become a prince, or a king, or something of higher stature than he grew up in. He went into the world and attempted to be seen as a noble. But no matter how hard he tried, he ended up being a jester.

 

He sang songs, he told tales, he made merry and he developed a sharp wit. He became a very good jester, a very fine jester indeed. But this did not make him happy. Being a jester left him at the mercy of those he entertained. If they enjoyed his songs and jokes, he may be invited back to perform again. If they didn’t, he would be banished. Sometimes they liked him but could not figure out which other jesters and troupes to have him perform with.

 

The jester performed for big crowds and small. Mostly small. Sometimes he would begin performing in a king’s court and find part of the way through the performance that the King, his Queen and most of the assemblage had nipped out for a cigarette. Verily, the jester would announce he had two songs left to perform and a few patrons would drag themselves back in out of sheer politeness.

 

All the nagging feelings of self-doubt that plagued the jester in his childhood grew up with him and continued to haunt him. Was he really a good jester? What if he was actually terrible? There are other jesters who are far more successful than he, having found major-label patronage by a big time noble or clergyman. He attempted to pass the hat on the street corners but would have to give all the money back after the deadline passed without meeting his funding goal.

 

The jester began to feel like he had banged his head against the wall over and over. Perhaps he should not have become a jester. Perhaps he should have gotten a real estate licence instead. And furthermore it occurred to him that the most successful jesters make far less than they earn, having to tithe a percentage to their agents, managers, vendors. Plus they had to recoup expenses. Furthermore, he had never seen a jester become a king.

 

He discussed this on the internet but what he got in response didn’t help. “Try being a female jester. A three-day jester festival may only feature a dozen female acts or female-fronted troupes out of hundreds of performers.” “You think that’s bad? How about the feminist movement excluding jesters of color?” “I’m a trans jester and I prefer to spell it ‘jystyr’.” This didn’t not make him happy or thankful that he wasn’t a transgender woman of color. It only made him sadder and seemed to confirm he had made a bad life choice far too soon.

 

As a child, he had wanted to be a noble. Then he wanted to be a jester. Then he wanted to be a success. But he wasn’t a success. So he decided to stop being a jester. And now he was nothing. Now he had no purpose and nothing to work for. And he was still sad.

 

He went home to his long metal cabin/shack. It was falling apart. His bed was broken. His favorite comfy chair was also broken. His grandfather was older and becoming infirm. It would not be long before his grandfather was gone. Then what would the ex-jester do? He became afraid to lose his grandfather until the old man became so sick that the boy wished he would pass if only so the old man could have peace.

 

When he was a boy, he had a dream and the support of the one person who loved him the most. Now he was older and he didn’t have his grandfather. And he didn’t have the dream anymore. He had a broken-down bed and a chair that was uncomfortable to sit in. He turned out to be less than a peasant. He was not able to earn his keep, as a jester or as anything else. He was disenchanted. He was disenfranchised. He was dis-abled. He was disabled. He was disabled.
He is disabled. You can not hear him in the courts of noblemen any longer. There are always merry bands of singers, those who practice jape, and hilarious jester. He is at home in his ill-fitting comfy chair playing Tetris and waiting for the next event in his life to happen to him. He does not feel empowered to go out and change the course of his life. He does not feel like he can change the course of his life, not without significant help.

 

Because he is disabled, you see.

 

This was an inefficient fairy tale. It didn’t have a snappy ending and it took to long to get there. If you want, go back and reread it and stop every few paragraphs to listen to a song from your favorite Disney movie. See if it helps.

Give Me A Reason

November 3rd, 2015

In all likelihood, Matt Bevin will be the next Governor of Kentucky.

I’d like to talk about Jack Conway for a moment. Jack Conway is the Democratic nominee for Governor. He will lose tonight. Democrats have traditionally done well running for Governor in Kentucky. Bevin is the 2nd Republican in 40 years to win the gubernatorial election. 2 times in 40 years. That’s practically Washington Generals numbers.

 

I am proud to say that I cast my vote today for Jack Conway. Actually, I voted against Matt Bevin, as nearly everybody who voted for Conway did today. We did several years ago, in 2010, when we voted for Conway against Rand Paul. Conway lost that too.

 

Two of the most notoriously ugly characters in politics and Conway couldn’t beat them. In 2010, Rand Paul screwed the pooch when he said he didn’t totally agree with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A college anecdote where he was kidnapped a girl and attempted to make her worship a god he called “Aqua Buddha” was bad. He was a carpetbagger who got a trunk of cash from his daddy’s political backers. Then there was the incident where the Paul supporter stomped on the girl from MoveOn. And Kentucky overwhelmingly elected Paul in spite of Conway. 56 to 44 percent. That’s a beating.

 

In 2010, Jack Conway could not beat a semi-racist, carpetbagging kidnapper. So when the Democrats trotted him out to represent the party in 2015, they deserved everything they got if and when he got beat. Bevin is way worse.

 

Bevin gave a speech at a pro-cockfighing rally. Last year. April 2014. This man got the majority of the votes today.

 

You can blame all the people who didn’t vote in this election. You can blame the third party candidate Drew Curtis, who gained four percent of the vote. You can blame big money for funneling money into negative ads. You can blame anyone you want but the blame really belongs to the Kentucky Democrats who nominated Conway.

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Look at this punchable face. Voting for this creep is like voting for Marmalard from Animal House. I need a reason to vote for a candidate. Look at the Presidential candidates. Say what you want about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson or Donald Trump, but the people who are behind them are really behind them.

 

This whole strategy of letting your opponent show his ass when it comes to civil rights or cockfighting isn’t enough if your counterstrategy is to play the wall. There’s somebody else in this race? Every vote today for Conway was in truth a vote against a dangerous idiot like Bevin.

 

I’ll say it again. When you expect Jack Conway to carry the banner for your party, you deserve everything you get.

F- Everything

November 3rd, 2015

Today is Election Day in the United States. Here in Kentucky, we elect a new governor. The polls just closed at 6pm. Fuck everything.

 

Do you ever feel like you’ve somehow fallen through the cracks of life’s foundations? Do you feel like you’re a pawn in a battle you didn’t sign up to fight? Do you ever feel like you’re being jerked around by forces greater than you? Do you feel powerless and helpless and spit out needles of intermittent rage at random? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Election Day is a complicated day for you.

 

So many rhetorical questions to life. So many times you wonder “Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Is this all there is? Is this all I get?” Add that to the other questions and then you begin to feel, as Billy Corgan put it, “like a rat in a cage”.

 

But a rat is still a scary thing and has the ability to bite back. But does that even matter. It’s just a rat bite. It’s a futile gesture in the long run. If you got bit a by a dog or rat and had to go get shots and your wound treated, you wouldn’t think of it as a major chapter in your life. It’s a moment you gloss over. All the animal did was ruin your day or week when it tried to kill you.

 

I voted today. I put my mark on the paper and put the ballot in the sliding thing. They gave me a sticker that says I voted. I went through the maze today. Will any of it matter? I guess so but how it affects me on a day-to-day basis is lost on me.

 

This has been the loneliest year of my life. I have practically been a hermit. I was alone and I didn’t care for it. I craved human contact. I hated it when people called me. I wanted to be held. I wanted to cry in somebody’s arms. Parts of my are locked away. I don’t have the key to those parts of me and I’m more resigned to that rather than scared about it. Because I am a powerless, helpless, pathetic little man.

 

Melancholy is my roommate, my landlord, my God. Fuck everything.