Today I miss the desert. I keep trying to write lyrics about it, but somehow I can't make something so vast and empty and silent and full of tiny sharp movements and smooth hot surfaces fit into a pop song.
(I'll bet Ben Gibbard could do it. Speaking of whom, Death Cab's new EP The Open Door is totally worth a spin.) This must be why it was so difficult to find music that seemed to fit the scenery as we drove further into California and further away from the sweet Pacific. Bob Dylan's Honest With Me is perfect. It was played on repeat for much of the drive between San Diego and Indio. And yes it's true: Joshua Tree National Park is indeed the right setting for, y'know, The Joshua Tree.
Forget pop lyrics, even poetry seems too simple to capture the interplay between your inner self and the outer space that is the desert. Somehow all that pure heat bypasses the usual clutter and burns through the layers of insulation that allow you to avoid the bare bones of yourself most days.
And so you are left in the quiet howling wide-open, having the rare experience of facing your own mind.
Soooo much to catch up on after that crazy rockstar weekend! Between the WERS appearance and the Thumbprint productions filming of our Portsmouth show Friday, the 'Dise show Saturday night, and the video shoot for "Bliss" by Salem filmmaker Christopher Gaines on Sunday, I am BEAT. (Day job? Wha?)
I did want to take a minute, though, to tell you about the awesome organization where Chris works by day: Raw Art Works in Lynn, MA. Essentially, they provide the creative space and supercool programs for kids ages 6 through the upper teens to come and create art of all kinds, including film in the case of Chris's program for teens, Real to Reel. Not only does RAW give the kids somewhere to be after 3pm while their parents are busting their hides to provide, but it also gives them invaluable tools for exploration and expression.
RAW's annual bash is coming up on May 16th @ 37 Central Square in Lynn, 7-11:30pm. The party includes music, food and an auction of artwork made by participants in the programs (I got a sneak preview of some work yesterday and I was Just. Blown. Away.)
If you can't make it to the party, donating to RAW is super easy. Just go here -- the secure form's done in two shakes and your karmic points for the day skyrocket! Win. You can also get on their mailing list here. I just did. Glancing around at the piles of bureaucracy around my desk, I gotta say I'm wicked jealous of Chris's day job, but I'm also excited to get involved however I can. Good good stuff. Pass it on.
Y'know, the word "nice" gets a bad rap from wordies. (Is that a word? like foodies? if it's not, it oughta be.) And yes, sometimes "nice" is a lie -- one of those words we use when the truth is we don't really have anything nice to say, but we feel the need to say SOMETHING. (Why is that?) But if we're really true to the meaning of the word, as wordies must be, then "nice" is a perfect word to use whenever something truly pleases or delights us.
I just finished This Blue Heaven's first live radio performance/interview on WERS and now am zooming through the sunshine under blue skies toward Portsmouth, NH where we're performing at The Muddy tonight. Tomorrow, we celebrate the GP's birthday in the most appropriate way I can think of for a guy who, as a boy, once had a dream that playing the electric guitar gave him super lightning-type powers: by performing our biggest show yet at Boston's Paradise Rock Club.
I know this sounds like a plug, and of course I want to reach as many of you as possible; I believe in what we do. I believe that what we have to offer -- what I can offer when I step onstage -- is an opportunity for people to forget for a moment the trivial, the draining, the monotonous, and remember their (your) own heartbeats.
But this blog is first and foremost a space for me to remember MY heartbeat. So I want to return to a charge made in my second post ever on this site, taken from Vonnegut's Timequake. I'm looking around me right this pleasing, delightful minute, and I have to say it.
If this isn't nice, what is?
I'm going on vacation with my bff to California to attend Coachella!!! I've never been to either!!! AND I'm going to see a way old friend from camp while I'm down there!!! I'll try to update the blog in the case of exciting things like, I dunno, I end up having a philosophical conversation about why electricity is sometimes called "juice" with Robert Smith, Karen O, and Zachary Francis. In the meantime, you guys should buy your tix for the This Blue Heaven Paradise show with Parker House & Theory on Saturday April 25!!! and then check out Bjork and her TV (thanks Jen)!!!
My fat orange cat is even more howly and velociraptory than usual. Meanwhile, I am feeling that particular electric mix of melancholy, rebellion, and creativity.
Must be a full moon.
Here are some things that sound like good ideas to me today:
1. Playing hooky and wandering the city taking photographs of graffiti, stopping only for ice cream, hot chocolate or Italian pastries.
2. Standing in the middle of the river of Sox fans heading into Fenway tonight and handing out cards with typed definitions of such awesome words as ataraxia, formication, and defenestration.
3. Fingerpainting 25 portraits of my fat orange cat, hanging them to dry on the clothesline on the back porch, and forgetting about them until July.
4. Calling up random receptionist/customer service type people in the south (banks, grocery stores, biology departments) and asking random but easy questions and thanking them profusely for helping me out in the hopes of eliciting some genuinely friendly "honeys" or "you have a wonderful day now ma'ams."
6. Renting a Plymouth Prowler and driving up the north shore in my stocking cap and pink sunglasses and the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs' It's Blitz! blasting from the stereo.
7. Getting all my best good friends on conference call (since they're scattered across more states than I care to count) and letting them find out what they all have in common besides me (grand laughs, sweet hearts, busy minds and probably at least a certain tolerance for 8th grade humor).
8. Flying my three sisters to Tuscany and sitting around drinking and eating until we forget all the miles we've ever had between us and never remember them again.
9. Writing that story about the man who feels he misses something or someone but can't quite see or say what it is. With, hopefully, my fat orange velociraptor asleep on my lap.
10. Joining an indie pop rock band, co-writing an amazing song about slow dancing, and performing it for people across the world who will be moved to slow dance with each other and love each other a little more sweetly and preciously than before.
My friend Nick is a painter who paints on black canvases instead of white. He does this because when he dreams, the background of his dreams is black.
Sometimes I get so bewildered that the world is like neither art nor dreams. In fact, the theme of my life this year seems to be reckoning with the question of whether that's so necessary. What would my life look like if I lived it the way I imagine I might? Quite possibly I'd be homeless and stinky in New York, giggling on the sidewalk at green balloons and passersby with inexplicable pillows. Or else homeless and stinky in a VW bus on the side of a desert road under the stars, writing songs on an acoustic guitar, a fisher price xylophone, a vitamin water bottle.
Would I be happier? Would I be so scared to lose it all? Would I be free?
Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah. So says Leonard Cohen.
I've had this idea for many years now that blue is the color of love. Not just any blue, though. It has to be a blue both deep and luminous. Chagall had it down. It also appears for a few fleeting moments at sunset on a clear evening, approximately three-quarters-sky distance from the sun's slicing the western horizon. I am constantly on the lookout for this blue.
I wrote lyrics the other day basically rejecting Cohen's definition of love (Turns out hallelujah means rejoice). But still, if I were to design my own personal box of crayons, Hallelujah Blue would be my favorite.