A couple years back, I was working in this bar/restaurant, far and away the most incompetently run business I ever worked for. The owners had no idea what they were doing. It was amusing at first, then it just became normal. It was a pretty easy job and it worked with my schedule and working there meant BDSR played there occasionally. I had a friend in management who pulled strings to ensure that I got paid every two weeks and that my paychecks cleared at the bank, unlike some other suckers who worked there. And I spent a few hours every shift roaming the internet, blasting music in the kitchen. I discovered quite a few bands that way, though the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are Flied Egg, Speed Glue And Shinki, Acid Eater, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Temple, Saddhu Brand and Sleep. Eventually, the horrible toxicity of the place and the people got to me and I quit. The business has since gone under.
I started painting houses with my father. Among the conditions of employment with him is you have to listen to conservative talk radio. I hate conservatives and talk radio as much, if not more than, the next shaman, but I needed a job and painting was paying quite literally double what I was getting before, so I put up with it. After a few hours of Glenn Beck, all I wanted to hear was Glenn Beck with a sucking chest wound. Barring that, silence. Just nothing.
Then I got suddenly sidelined into another restaurant job. Seriously, completely unexpectedly, three different people who worked at the place approached me within five days and suggested that I apply. The restaurant is the Little Grill and I work there now. I’ve actually worked at the Grill off and on since the late ‘80’s, mostly off. I got fired there in ’92 or so and didn’t go in for over a decade. I worked there briefly in ’06, until I walked off two minutes into a shift because walking off seemed like a better option than stabbing a co-worker. And I didn’t go in for a few more years. Until people started coming up to me a year or so ago and telling me they thought I should apply, I figured I’d never go in again. I certainly didn’t think I’d ever work there again. But I know a sign when I see one and, while painting houses was paying off in the short term, there were no benefits and when my dad retires, it’s over. So another gig was wonted and the Grill is a collectively-owned and democratically-run restaurant, so it seemed like I’d have a greater chance of influencing the direction of the business and determining my own working conditions than I ever had working in the standard/normal/fascist-type of restaurant that I’d always worked in before.
(I have learned that the collectively-owned and democratically-run business model isn’t as wonderful as I might like it to be, but it’s still better than anything else.)
The downside of the Grill is that I work with people who have shitty taste in music, which I am forced to hear. Ani Difranco, Rising Appalachia, Mavis Staples, Elliott Smith, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Chet Faker…it goes on and on. Endless, gutless, homogeneous, over-produced, slick, boring, commercial, unimaginative diarrhea dribbles out of the house speakers from open to close. I bitched about it until I got tired of being the guy who bitches about the music all the time, then I just started thinking of it as a way of building my powers of endurance. See, I have a real hard time with music. I like what I like, but I fucking hate almost everything else. Popular music makes me want to kill people, specifically, the people who make popular music popular, which is a lot of fucking people. I can’t stand it. I’ve ended friendships over it. You like Bruce Springsteen? Fuck you. Music I hate is really painful for me and it’s everywhere all the time.
So, for a while there, I was painting in the morning, hearing Glenn Beck preach the love of Jesus while making rape jokes and promoting the destruction of the planet and the continued financial brutalization of most of the people on it, then going to the Grill where I was barraged with Sylvan Esso and Parov Stellar. It was like an auditory hell that just kept going and going and all I wanted was to not hear anything.
Then, one day, I realized that I didn’t like music. I knew I had once liked music and I was still kinda digging most of the music that I was making (see the BDSR Bandcamp for examples), but I had no idea what music I liked. I didn’t have a cd player and I’ve not gotten around to downloading a thousand hours of mp3’s to an Ipod or whatever, nor do I expect to since mp3’s sound like utter shit, especially when played through a dime-sized speaker on an Ipod. The tape player in my truck finally quit working a few months ago. I didn’t have any format for hearing music that I liked or time to listen to it. I was aware that no longer listening to music wasn’t a great thing, but I didn’t get around to doing anything about it.
Today, after several hours of some of the above-mentioned tripe, mixed with some goddamn showtunes, for fuck’s sake, I went to the computer and cued up The New Geocentric World Of Acid Mothers Temple. It was the only thing that I could think of that I distinctly remembered liking that was carried by the bullshit, corporate music service we use, which is Spotify. “Psycho Buddha” roared out like the bomb on Nagasaki and ripped through the space for possibly seven minutes before one of the co-workers turned it off. So I slashed her throat wide open. No, of course I didn’t slash her throat. I am a southern gentleman and there were witnesses.
After work, I drove straight to Roses, a crappy little department store that has somehow managed to keep going despite the fact that there are two Wal-Marts in town (fuck Wal-Mart) and bought a cd/cassette player. Then to my storage unit where I got a stack of a hundred or so cd’s. I’ll get the rest tomorrow.
When I got home, I put in Rudimentary Peni’s Archaic EP. For relentless negativity and senseless hate, nothing beats Rudimentary Peni and Archaic EP is their most pure and elegant release. Every track on it is a shrieking, bludgeoning paean to violent despair. Check out this lyric:
Conception is a crime
The guilt and sentence lie
In crematorium flame.
That’s the whole song. It repeats a few times. The whole bloody thing is that nihilistic and bleak and it never fails to make me laugh. Next, I dropped in Letters From The Earth by the No-Neck Blues Band and that’s been rolling while I been writing.
Music is important. I’m sure I’ll go in tomorrow and be greeted with Guided By Voices or some other drivel, but I’ve reconnected to what I like and there’s another hundred or so cd’s in storage. Oh, and there’s that crate of tapes and cd’s that I’ve traded other bands for.
By the way, BDSR trades with other bands, so if you wanna swap, hit me up.
I have any number of different ways to feed my spirit. A few days ago, I took my daughter to some woods and we climbed a mountain. It was something I needed and she was pretty obliging about it, considering she really wanted to go play at the Children’s’ Museum. I pray daily, attend services at the church of my choosing, converse with like-minded friends about spiritual matters regularly and get off into the woods alone to meditate and commune with my Maker. I read books about the many and various ways people have tried and continue to try to engage in relationships with the mysteries of life here in the Zone of Middle Dimensions. Creating art and music are also spirit-feeding exercises.
I’d forgotten how much I need to just listen sometimes. I need to listen to silence and to the sounds that are made by nature. Even the incidental sounds of people and machines have their beauties. But I also need to listen to the created sounds of musicians from time to time and I’d gotten away from that.
Feed your spirit.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.